THE BOY SCOUT
AND OTHER STORIES FOR BOYS
RICHARD HARDING DAVIS
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
COPYRIGHT, 1891, 1903, 1912, 1914, 1917, BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
RICHARD HARDING DAVIS, as a friend and fellow author has written of him, was "youth incarnate," and there is probably nothing that he wrote of which a boy would not some day come to feel the appeal. But there are certain of his stories that go with especial directness to a boy's heart and sympathies and make for him quite unforgettable literature. A few of these were made some years ago into a volume, "Stories for Boys," and found a large and enthusiastic special public in addition to Davis's general readers; and the present collection from stories more recently published is issued with the same motive. This book takes its title from "The Boy Scout," the first of its tales; and it includes "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," "Blood Will Tell," the immortal "Gallegher," and "The Bar Sinister," Davis's famous dog story. It is a fresh volume added to what Augustus Thomas calls "safe stuff to give to a young fellow who likes to take off his hat and dilate his nostrils and feel the wind in his face."
CONTENTS PAGE The Boy Scout 3 The Boy Who Cried Wolf 42 Gallegher 82 Blood Will Tell 158 The Bar Sinister 212
"But how," he demanded, "how do I get ashore?" Frontispiece
Jimmie dropped the valise, forced his cramped fingers into straight lines, and saluted 8
"For God's sake," Hade begged, "let me go" 128
"Why, it's Gallegher," said the night editor 156
In front of David's nose he shook a fist as large as a catcher's glove 184
She dug the shapeless hat into David's shoulder 210
"He's a coward! I've done with him" 230
For a long time he kneels in the sawdust 282
THE BOY SCOUT
AND OTHER STORIES FOR BOYS
THE BOY SCOUT
A Rule of the Boy Scouts is every day to do some one a good turn. Not because the copy-books tell you it deserves another, but in spite of that pleasing possibility. If you are a true Scout, until you have performed your act of kindness your day is dark. You are as unhappy as is the grown-up who has begun his day without shaving or reading the New York Sun. But as soon as you have proved yourself you may, with a clear conscience, look the world in the face and untie the knot in your kerchief.
Jimmie Reeder untied the accusing knot in his scarf at just ten minutes past eight on a hot August morning after he had given one dime to his sister Sadie. With that she could either witness the first-run films at the Palace, or by dividing her fortune patronize two of the nickel shows on Lenox Avenue. The choice Jimmie left to her. He was setting out for the annual encampment of the Boy Scouts at Hunter's Island, and in the excitement of that adventure even the movies ceased to thrill. But Sadie also could be unselfish. With a heroism of a camp-fire maiden she made a gesture which might have been interpreted to mean she was returning the money.
"I can't, Jimmie!" she gasped. "I can't take it off you. You saved it, and you ought to get the fun of it."
"I haven't saved it yet," said Jimmie. "I'm going to cut it out of the railroad fare. I'm going to get off at City Island instead of at Pelham Manor and walk the difference. That's ten cents cheaper."
Sadie exclaimed with admiration:
"An' you carryin' that heavy grip!"
"Aw, that's nothin'," said the man of the family.
"Good-by, mother. So long, Sadie."
To ward off further expressions of gratitude he hurriedly advised Sadie to take in "The Curse of Cain" rather than "The Mohawks' Last Stand," and fled down the front steps.
He wore his khaki uniform. On his shoulders was his knapsack, from his hands swung his suitcase and between his heavy stockings and his "shorts" his kneecaps, unkissed by the sun, as yet unscathed by blackberry vines, showed as white and fragile as the wrists of a girl. As he moved toward the "L" station at the corner, Sadie and his mother waved to him; in the street, boys too small to be Scouts hailed him enviously; even the policeman glancing over the newspapers on the news-stand nodded approval.
"You a Scout, Jimmie?" he asked.
"No," retorted Jimmie, for was not he also in uniform? "I'm Santa Claus out filling Christmas stockings."
The patrolman also possessed a ready wit.
"Then get yourself a pair," he advised. "If a dog was to see your legs——"
Jimmie escaped the insult by fleeing up the steps of the Elevated.
An hour later, with his valise in one hand and staff in the other, he was tramping up the Boston Post Road and breathing heavily. The day was cruelly hot. Before his eyes, over an interminable stretch of asphalt, the heat waves danced and flickered. Already the knapsack on his shoulders pressed upon him like an Old Man of the Sea; the linen in the valise had turned to pig iron, his pipe-stem legs were wabbling, his eyes smarted with salt sweat, and the fingers supporting the valise belonged to some other boy, and were giving that boy much pain. But as the motor-cars flashed past with raucous warnings, or, that those who rode might better see the boy with bare knees, passed at "half speed," Jimmie stiffened his shoulders and stepped jauntily forward. Even when the joy-riders mocked with "Oh, you Scout!" he smiled at them. He was willing to admit to those who rode that the laugh was on the one who walked. And he regretted—oh, so bitterly—having left the train. He was indignant that for his "one good turn a day" he had not selected one less strenuous. That, for instance, he had not assisted a frightened old lady through the traffic. To refuse the dime she might have offered, as all true Scouts refuse all tips, would have been easier than to earn it by walking five miles, with the sun at ninety-nine degrees, and carrying excess baggage. Twenty times James shifted the valise to the other hand, twenty times he let it drop and sat upon it.
And then, as again he took up his burden, the Good Samaritan drew near. He drew near in a low gray racing-car at the rate of forty miles an hour, and within a hundred feet of Jimmie suddenly stopped and backed toward him. The Good Samaritan was a young man with white hair. He wore a suit of blue, a golf cap; the hands that held the wheel were disguised in large yellow gloves. He brought the car to a halt and surveyed the dripping figure in the road with tired and uncurious eyes.
"You a Boy Scout?" he asked.
With alacrity for the twenty-first time Jimmie dropped the valise, forced his cramped fingers into straight lines, and saluted.
The young man in the car nodded toward the seat beside him.
"Get in," he commanded.
When James sat panting happily at his elbow the old young man, to Jimmie's disappointment, did not continue to shatter the speed limit. Instead, he seemed inclined for conversation, and the car, growling indignantly, crawled.
"I never saw a Boy Scout before," announced the old young man. "Tell me about it. First, tell me what you do when you're not scouting."
Jimmie explained volubly. When not in uniform he was an office-boy and from pedlers and beggars guarded the gates of Carroll and Hastings, stock-brokers. He spoke the names of his employers with awe. It was a firm distinguished, conservative, and long-established. The white-haired young man seemed to nod in assent.
"Do you know them?" demanded Jimmie suspiciously. "Are you a customer of ours?"
"I know them," said the young man. "They are customers of mine."
Jimmie wondered in what way Carroll and Hastings were customers of the white-haired young man. Judging him by his outer garments, Jimmie guessed he was a Fifth Avenue tailor; he might be even a haberdasher. Jimmie continued. He lived, he explained, with his mother at One Hundred and Forty-sixth Street; Sadie, his sister, attended the public school; he helped support them both, and he now was about to enjoy a well-earned vacation camping out on Hunter's Island, where he would cook his own meals and, if the mosquitoes permitted, sleep in a tent.
"And you like that?" demanded the young man. "You call that fun?"
"Sure!" protested Jimmie. "Don't you go camping out?"
"I go camping out," said the Good Samaritan, "whenever I leave New York."
Jimmie had not for three years lived in Wall Street not to understand that the young man spoke in metaphor.
"You don't look," objected the young man critically, "as though you were built for the strenuous life."
Jimmie glanced guiltily at his white knees.
"You ought ter see me two weeks from now," he protested. "I get all sunburnt and hard—hard as anything!"
The young man was incredulous.
"You were near getting sunstroke when I picked you up," he laughed. "If you're going to Hunter's Island why didn't you take the Third Avenue to Pelham Manor?"
"That's right!" assented Jimmie eagerly. "But I wanted to save the ten cents so's to send Sadie to the movies. So I walked."
The young man looked his embarrassment.
"I beg your pardon," he murmured.
But Jimmie did not hear him. From the back of the car he was dragging excitedly at the hated suitcase.
"Stop!" he commanded. "I got ter get out. I got ter walk."
The young man showed his surprise.
"Walk!" he exclaimed. "What is it—a bet?"
Jimmie dropped the valise and followed it into the roadway. It took some time to explain to the young man. First, he had to be told about the scout law and the one good turn a day, and that it must involve some personal sacrifice. And, as Jimmie pointed out, changing from a slow suburban train to a racing-car could not be listed as a sacrifice. He had not earned the money, Jimmie argued; he had only avoided paying it to the railroad. If he did not walk he would be obtaining the gratitude of Sadie by a falsehood. Therefore, he must walk.
"Not at all," protested the young man. "You've got it wrong. What good will it do your sister to have you sunstruck? I think you are sunstruck. You're crazy with the heat. You get in here, and we'll talk it over as we go along."
Hastily Jimmie backed away. "I'd rather walk," he said.
The young man shifted his legs irritably.
"Then how'll this suit you?" he called. "We'll declare that first 'one good turn' a failure and start afresh. Do me a good turn."
Jimmie halted in his tracks and looked back suspiciously.
"I'm going to Hunter's Island Inn," called the young man, "and I've lost my way. You get in here and guide me. That'll be doing me a good turn."
On either side of the road, blotting out the landscape, giant hands picked out in electric-light bulbs pointed the way to Hunter's Island Inn. Jimmie grinned and nodded toward them.
"Much obliged," he called, "I got ter walk." Turning his back upon temptation, he wabbled forward into the flickering heat waves.
The young man did not attempt to pursue. At the side of the road, under the shade of a giant elm, he had brought the car to a halt and with his arms crossed upon the wheel sat motionless, following with frowning eyes the retreating figure of Jimmie. But the narrow-chested and knock-kneed boy staggering over the sun-baked asphalt no longer concerned him. It was not Jimmie, but the code preached by Jimmie, and not only preached but before his eyes put into practice, that interested him. The young man with white hair had been running away from temptation. At forty miles an hour he had been running away from the temptation to do a fellow mortal "a good turn." That morning, to the appeal of a drowning Caesar to "Help me, Cassius, or I sink," he had answered, "Sink!" That answer he had no wish to reconsider. That he might not reconsider he had sought to escape. It was his experience that a sixty-horse-power racing-machine is a jealous mistress. For retrospective, sentimental, or philanthropic thoughts she grants no leave of absence. But he had not escaped. Jimmie had halted him, tripped him by the heels and set him again to thinking. Within the half-hour that followed those who rolled past saw at the side of the road a car with her engine running, and leaning upon the wheel, as unconscious of his surroundings as though he sat at his own fireplace, a young man who frowned and stared at nothing. The half-hour passed and the young man swung his car back toward the city. But at the first roadhouse that showed a blue-and-white telephone sign he left it, and into the iron box at the end of the bar dropped a nickel. He wished to communicate with Mr. Carroll, of Carroll and Hastings; and when he learned Mr. Carroll had just issued orders that he must not be disturbed, the young man gave his name.
The effect upon the barkeeper was instantaneous. With the aggrieved air of one who feels he is the victim of a jest he laughed scornfully. "What are you putting over?" he demanded.
The young man smiled reassuringly. He had begun to speak and, though apparently engaged with the beer-glass he was polishing, the barkeeper listened.
Down in Wall Street the senior member of Carroll and Hastings also listened. He was alone in the most private of all his private offices, and when interrupted had been engaged in what, of all undertakings, is the most momentous. On the desk before him lay letters to his lawyer, to the coroner, to his wife; and hidden by a mass of papers, but within reach of his hand, an automatic pistol. The promise it offered of swift release had made the writing of the letters simple, had given him a feeling of complete detachment, had released him, at least in thought, from all responsibilities. And when at his elbow the telephone coughed discreetly, it was as though some one had called him from a world from which already he had made his exit.
Mechanically, through mere habit, he lifted the receiver.
The voice over the telephone came in brisk staccato sentences.
"That letter I sent this morning? Forget it. Tear it up. I've been thinking and I'm going to take a chance. I've decided to back you boys, and I know you'll make good. I'm speaking from a roadhouse in the Bronx; going straight from here to the bank. So you can begin to draw against us within an hour. And—hello!—will three millions see you through?"
From Wall Street there came no answer, but from the hands of the barkeeper a glass crashed to the floor.
The young man regarded the barkeeper with puzzled eyes.
"He doesn't answer," he exclaimed. "He must have hung up."
"He must have fainted!" said the barkeeper.
The white-haired one pushed a bill across the counter. "To pay for breakage," he said, and disappeared down Pelham Parkway.
Throughout the day, with the bill, for evidence, pasted against the mirror, the barkeeper told and retold the wondrous tale.
"He stood just where you're standing now," he related, "blowing in million-dollar bills like you'd blow suds off a beer. If I'd knowed it was him, I'd have hit him once, and hid him in the cellar for the reward. Who'd I think he was? I thought he was a wire-tapper, working a con game!"
Mr. Carroll had not "hung up," but when in the Bronx the beer-glass crashed, in Wall Street the receiver had slipped from the hand of the man who held it, and the man himself had fallen forward. His desk hit him in the face and woke him—woke him to the wonderful fact that he still lived; that at forty he had been born again; that before him stretched many more years in which, as the young man with the white hair had pointed out, he still could make good.
The afternoon was far advanced when the staff of Carroll and Hastings were allowed to depart, and, even late as was the hour, two of them were asked to remain. Into the most private of the private offices Carroll invited Gaskell, the head clerk; in the main office Hastings had asked young Thorne, the bond clerk, to be seated.
Until the senior partner has finished with Gaskell young Thorne must remain seated.
"Gaskell," said Mr. Carroll, "if we had listened to you, if we'd run this place as it was when father was alive, this never would have happened. It hasn't happened, but we've had our lesson. And after this we're going slow and going straight. And we don't need you to tell us how to do that. We want you to go away—on a month's vacation. When I thought we were going under I planned to send the children on a sea-voyage with the governess—so they wouldn't see the newspapers. But now that I can look them in the eye again, I need them, I can't let them go. So, if you'd like to take your wife on an ocean trip to Nova Scotia and Quebec, here are the cabins I reserved for the kids. They call it the Royal Suite—whatever that is—and the trip lasts a month. The boat sails to-morrow morning. Don't sleep too late or you may miss her."
* * * * *
The head clerk was secreting the tickets in the inside pocket of his waistcoat. His fingers trembled, and when he laughed his voice trembled.
"Miss the boat!" the head clerk exclaimed. "If she gets away from Millie and me she's got to start now. We'll go on board to-night!"
A half-hour later Millie was on her knees packing a trunk, and her husband was telephoning to the drug-store for a sponge bag and a cure for sea-sickness.
Owing to the joy in her heart and to the fact that she was on her knees, Millie was alternately weeping into the trunk-tray and offering up incoherent prayers of thanksgiving. Suddenly she sank back upon the floor.
"John!" she cried, "doesn't it seem sinful to sail away in a 'royal suite' and leave this beautiful flat empty?"
Over the telephone John was having trouble with the drug clerk.
"No!" he explained, "I'm not sea-sick now. The medicine I want is to be taken later. I know I'm speaking from the Pavonia; but the Pavonia isn't a ship; it's an apartment-house."
He turned to Millie. "We can't be in two places at the same time," he suggested.
"But, think," insisted Millie, "of all the poor people stifling to-night in this heat, trying to sleep on the roofs and fire-escapes; and our flat so cool and big and pretty—and no one in it."
John nodded his head proudly.
"I know it's big," he said, "but it isn't big enough to hold all the people who are sleeping to-night on the roofs and in the parks."
"I was thinking of your brother—and Grace," said Millie. "They've been married only two weeks now, and they're in a stuffy hall bedroom and eating with all the other boarders. Think what our flat would mean to them; to be by themselves, with eight rooms and their own kitchen and bath, and our new refrigerator and the gramophone! It would be Heaven! It would be a real honeymoon!"
Abandoning the drug clerk, John lifted Millie in his arms and kissed her, for next to his wife nearest his heart was the younger brother.
* * * * *
The younger brother and Grace were sitting on the stoop of the boarding-house. On the upper steps, in their shirt-sleeves, were the other boarders; so the bride and bridegroom spoke in whispers. The air of the cross street was stale and stagnant; from it rose exhalations of rotting fruit, the gases of an open subway, the smoke of passing taxicabs. But between the street and the hall bedroom, with its odors of a gas-stove and a kitchen, the choice was difficult.
"We've got to cool off somehow," the young husband was saying, "or you won't sleep. Shall we treat ourselves to ice-cream sodas or a trip on the Weehawken ferry-boat?"
"The ferry-boat!" begged the girl, "where we can get away from all these people."
A taxicab with a trunk in front whirled into the street, kicked itself to a stop, and the head clerk and Millie spilled out upon the pavement. They talked so fast, and the younger brother and Grace talked so fast, that the boarders, although they listened intently, could make nothing of it.
They distinguished only the concluding sentences:
"Why don't you drive down to the wharf with us," they heard the elder brother ask, "and see our royal suite?"
But the younger brother laughed him to scorn.
"What's your royal suite," he mocked, "to our royal palace?"
An hour later, had the boarders listened outside the flat of the head clerk, they would have heard issuing from his bathroom the cooling murmur of running water and from his gramophone the jubilant notes of "Alexander's Ragtime Band."
When in his private office Carroll was making a present of the royal suite to the head clerk, in the main office Hastings, the junior partner, was addressing "Champ" Thorne, the bond clerk. He addressed him familiarly and affectionately as "Champ." This was due partly to the fact that twenty-six years before Thorne had been christened Champneys and to the coincidence that he had captained the football eleven of one of the Big Three to the championship.
"Champ," said Mr. Hastings, "last month, when you asked me to raise your salary, the reason I didn't do it was not because you didn't deserve it, but because I believed if we gave you a raise you'd immediately get married."
The shoulders of the ex-football captain rose aggressively; he snorted with indignation.
"And why should I not get married?" he demanded. "You're a fine one to talk! You're the most offensively happy married man I ever met."
"Perhaps I know I am happy better than you do," reproved the junior partner; "but I know also that it takes money to support a wife."
"You raise me to a hundred a week," urged Champ, "and I'll make it support a wife whether it supports me or not."
"A month ago," continued Hastings, "we could have promised you a hundred, but we didn't know how long we could pay it. We didn't want you to rush off and marry some fine girl——"
"Some fine girl!" muttered Mr. Thorne. "The Finest Girl!"
"The finer the girl," Hastings pointed out, "the harder it would have been for you if we had failed and you had lost your job."
The eyes of the young man opened with sympathy and concern.
"Is it as bad as that?" he murmured.
Hastings sighed happily.
"It was," he said, "but this morning the Young Man of Wall Street did us a good turn—saved us—saved our creditors, saved our homes, saved our honor. We're going to start fresh and pay our debts, and we agreed the first debt we paid would be the small one we owe you. You've brought us more than we've given, and if you'll stay with us we're going to 'see' your fifty and raise it a hundred. What do you say?"
Young Mr. Thorne leaped to his feet. What he said was: "Where'n hell's my hat?"
But by the time he had found the hat and the door he mended his manners.
"I say, 'thank you a thousand times,'" he shouted over his shoulder. "Excuse me, but I've got to go. I've got to break the news to——"
He did not explain to whom he was going to break the news; but Hastings must have guessed, for again he sighed happily and then, a little hysterically, laughed aloud. Several months had passed since he had laughed aloud.
In his anxiety to break the news Champ Thorne almost broke his neck. In his excitement he could not remember whether the red flash meant the elevator was going down or coming up, and sooner than wait to find out he started to race down eighteen flights of stairs when fortunately the elevator-door swung open.
"You get five dollars," he announced to the elevator man, "if you drop to the street without a stop. Beat the speed limit! Act like the building is on fire and you're trying to save me before the roof falls."
Senator Barnes and his entire family, which was his daughter Barbara, were at the Ritz-Carlton. They were in town in August because there was a meeting of the directors of the Brazil and Cuyaba Rubber Company, of which company Senator Barnes was president. It was a secret meeting. Those directors who were keeping cool at the edge of the ocean had been summoned by telegraph; those who were steaming across the ocean, by wireless.
Up from the equator had drifted the threat of a scandal, sickening, grim, terrible. As yet it burned beneath the surface, giving out only an odor, but an odor as rank as burning rubber itself. At any moment it might break into flame. For the directors, was it the better wisdom to let the scandal smoulder, and take a chance, or to be the first to give the alarm, the first to lead the way to the horror and stamp it out?
It was to decide this that, in the heat of August, the directors and the president had foregathered.
Champ Thorne knew nothing of this; he knew only that by a miracle Barbara Barnes was in town; that at last he was in a position to ask her to marry him; that she would certainly say she would. That was all he cared to know.
A year before he had issued his declaration of independence. Before he could marry, he told her, he must be able to support a wife on what he earned, without her having to accept money from her father, and until he received "a minimum wage" of five thousand dollars they must wait.
"What is the matter with my father's money?" Barbara had demanded.
Thorne had evaded the direct question.
"There is too much of it," he said.
"Do you object to the way he makes it?" insisted Barbara. "Because rubber is most useful. You put it in golf balls and auto tires and galoches. There is nothing so perfectly respectable as galoches. And what is there 'tainted' about a raincoat?"
Thorne shook his head unhappily.
"It's not the finished product to which I refer," he stammered; "it's the way they get the raw material."
"They get it out of trees," said Barbara. Then she exclaimed with enlightenment——"Oh!" she cried, "you are thinking of the Congo. There it is terrible! That is slavery. But there are no slaves on the Amazon. The natives are free and the work is easy. They just tap the trees the way the farmers gather sugar in Vermont. Father has told me about it often."
Thorne had made no comment. He could abuse a friend, if the friend were among those present, but denouncing any one he disliked as heartily as he disliked Senator Barnes was a public service he preferred to leave to others. And he knew besides that, if the father she loved and the man she loved distrusted each other, Barbara would not rest until she learned the reason why.
One day, in a newspaper, Barbara read of the Puju Mayo atrocities, of the Indian slaves in the jungles and back waters of the Amazon, who are offered up as sacrifices to "red rubber." She carried the paper to her father. What it said, her father told her, was untrue, and if it were true it was the first he had heard of it.
Senator Barnes loved the good things of life, but the thing he loved most was his daughter; the thing he valued the highest was her good opinion. So when for the first time she looked at him in doubt, he assured her he at once would order an investigation.
"But, of course," he added, "it will be many months before our agents can report. On the Amazon news travels very slowly."
In the eyes of his daughter the doubt still lingered.
"I am afraid," she said, "that that is true."
That was six months before the directors of the Brazil and Cuyaba Rubber Company were summoned to meet their president at his rooms in the Ritz-Carlton. They were due to arrive in half an hour, and while Senator Barnes awaited their coming Barbara came to him. In her eyes was a light that helped to tell the great news. It gave him a sharp, jealous pang. He wanted at once to play a part in her happiness, to make her grateful to him, not alone to this stranger who was taking her away. So fearful was he that she would shut him out of her life that had she asked for half his kingdom he would have parted with it.
"And besides giving my consent," said the rubber king, "for which no one seems to have asked, what can I give my little girl to make her remember her old father? Some diamonds to put on her head, or pearls to hang around her neck, or does she want a vacant lot on Fifth Avenue?"
The lovely hands of Barbara rested upon his shoulders; her lovely face was raised to his; her lovely eyes were appealing, and a little frightened.
"What would one of those things cost?" asked Barbara.
The question was eminently practical. It came within the scope of the senator's understanding. After all, he was not to be cast into outer darkness. His smile was complacent. He answered airily:
"Anything you like," he said; "a million dollars?"
The fingers closed upon his shoulders. The eyes, still frightened, still searched his in appeal.
"Then for my wedding-present," said the girl, "I want you to take that million dollars and send an expedition to the Amazon. And I will choose the men. Men unafraid; men not afraid of fever or sudden death; not afraid to tell the truth—even to you. And all the world will know. And they—I mean you—will set those people free!"
Senator Barnes received the directors with an embarrassment which he concealed under a manner of just indignation.
"My mind is made up," he told them. "Existing conditions cannot continue. And to that end, at my own expense, I am sending an expedition across South America. It will investigate, punish, and establish reforms. I suggest, on account of this damned heat, we do now adjourn."
That night, over on Long Island, Carroll told his wife all, or nearly all. He did not tell her about the automatic pistol. And together on tiptoe they crept to the nursery and looked down at their sleeping children. When she rose from her knees the mother said, "But how can I thank him?"
By "him" she meant the Young Man of Wall Street.
"You never can thank him," said Carroll; "that's the worst of it."
But after a long silence the mother said: "I will send him a photograph of the children. Do you think he will understand?"
Down at Seabright, Hastings and his wife walked in the sunken garden. The moon was so bright that the roses still held their color.
"I would like to thank him," said the young wife. She meant the Young Man of Wall Street. "But for him we would have lost this."
Her eyes caressed the garden, the fruit-trees, the house with wide, hospitable verandas. "To-morrow I will send him some of these roses," said the young wife. "Will he understand that they mean our home?"
At a scandalously late hour, in a scandalous spirit of independence, Champ Thorne and Barbara were driving around Central Park in a taxicab.
"How strangely the Lord moves, his wonders to perform," misquoted Barbara. "Had not the Young Man of Wall Street saved Mr. Hastings, Mr. Hastings could not have raised your salary; you would not have asked me to marry you, and had you not asked me to marry you, father would not have given me a wedding-present, and——"
"And," said Champ, taking up the tale, "thousands of slaves would still be buried in the jungles, hidden away from their wives and children, and the light of the sun and their fellow men. They still would be dying of fever, starvation, tortures."
He took her hand in both of his and held her finger-tips against his lips.
"And they will never know," he whispered, "when their freedom comes, that they owe it all to you."
* * * * *
On Hunter's Island Jimmie Reeder and his bunkie, Sam Sturges, each on his canvas cot, tossed and twisted. The heat, the moonlight, and the mosquitoes would not let them even think of sleep.
"That was bully," said Jimmie, "what you did to-day about saving that dog. If it hadn't been for you he'd ha' drownded."
"He would not!" said Sammy with punctilious regard for the truth; "it wasn't deep enough."
"Well, the scout-master ought to know," argued Jimmie; "he said it was the best 'one good turn' of the day!"
Modestly Sam shifted the limelight so that it fell upon his bunkie.
"I'll bet," he declared loyally, "your 'one good turn' was a better one!"
Jimmie yawned, and then laughed scornfully.
"Me," he scoffed, "I didn't do nothing. I sent my sister to the movies."
THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF
Before he finally arrested him, "Jimmie" Sniffen had seen the man with the golf-cap, and the blue eyes that laughed at you, three times. Twice, unexpectedly, he had come upon him in a wood road and once on Round Hill where the stranger was pretending to watch the sunset. Jimmie knew people do not climb hills merely to look at sunsets, so he was not deceived. He guessed the man was a German spy seeking gun sites, and secretly vowed to "stalk" him. From that moment, had the stranger known it, he was as good as dead. For a boy scout with badges on his sleeve for "stalking" and "path-finding," not to boast of others for "gardening" and "cooking," can outwit any spy. Even had General Baden-Powell remained in Mafeking and not invented the boy scout, Jimmie Sniffen would have been one. Because by birth he was a boy, and by inheritance a scout. In Westchester County the Sniffens are one of the county families. If it isn't a Sarles, it's a Sniffen; and with Brundages, Platts, and Jays, the Sniffens date back to when the acres of the first Charles Ferris ran from the Boston post road to the coach road to Albany, and when the first Gouverneur Morris stood on one of his hills and saw the Indian canoes in the Hudson and in the Sound and rejoiced that all the land between belonged to him.
If you do not believe in heredity, the fact that Jimmie's great-great-grandfather was a scout for General Washington and hunted deer, and even bear, over exactly the same hills where Jimmie hunted weasels will count for nothing. It will not explain why to Jimmie, from Tarrytown to Port Chester, the hills, the roads, the woods, and the cowpaths, caves, streams, and springs hidden in the woods were as familiar as his own kitchen garden.
Nor explain why, when you could not see a Pease and Elliman "For Sale" sign nailed to a tree, Jimmie could see in the highest branches a last year's bird's nest.
Or why, when he was out alone playing Indians and had sunk his scout's axe into a fallen log and then scalped the log, he felt that once before in those same woods he had trailed that same Indian, and with his own tomahawk split open his skull. Sometimes when he knelt to drink at a secret spring in the forest, the autumn leaves would crackle and he would raise his eyes fearing to see a panther facing him.
"But there ain't no panthers in Westchester," Jimmie would reassure himself. And in the distance the roar of an automobile climbing a hill with the muffler open would seem to suggest he was right. But still Jimmie remembered once before he had knelt at that same spring, and that when he raised his eyes he had faced a crouching panther. "Mebbe dad told me it happened to grandpop," Jimmie would explain, "or I dreamed it, or, mebbe, I read it in a story book."
The "German spy" mania attacked Round Hill after the visit to the boy scouts of Clavering Gould, the war correspondent. He was spending the week-end with "Squire" Harry Van Vorst, and as young Van Vorst, besides being a justice of the peace and a Master of Beagles and President of the Country Club, was also a local "councilman" for the Round Hill Scouts, he brought his guest to a camp-fire meeting to talk to them. In deference to his audience, Gould told them of the boy scouts he had seen in Belgium and of the part they were playing in the great war. It was his peroration that made trouble.
"And any day," he assured his audience, "this country may be at war with Germany; and every one of you boys will be expected to do his bit. You can begin now. When the Germans land it will be near New Haven, or New Bedford. They will first capture the munition works at Springfield, Hartford, and Watervliet so as to make sure of their ammunition, and then they will start for New York City. They will follow the New Haven and New York Central railroads, and march straight through this village. I haven't the least doubt," exclaimed the enthusiastic war prophet, "that at this moment German spies are as thick in Westchester as blackberries. They are here to select camp sites and gun positions, to find out which of these hills enfilade the others and to learn to what extent their armies can live on the country. They are counting the cows, the horses, the barns where fodder is stored; and they are marking down on their maps the wells and streams."
As though at that moment a German spy might be crouching behind the door, Mr. Gould spoke in a whisper. "Keep your eyes open!" he commanded. "Watch every stranger. If he acts suspiciously, get word quick to your sheriff, or to Judge Van Vorst here. Remember the scouts' motto, 'Be prepared!'"
That night as the scouts walked home, behind each wall and hayrick they saw spiked helmets.
Young Van Vorst was extremely annoyed.
"Next time you talk to my scouts," he declared, "you'll talk on 'Votes for Women.' After what you said to-night every real-estate agent who dares open a map will be arrested. We're not trying to drive people away from Westchester, we're trying to sell them building sites."
"You are not!" retorted his friend, "you own half the county now, and you're trying to buy the other half."
"I'm a justice of the peace," explained Van Vorst. "I don't know why I am, except that they wished it on me. All I get out of it is trouble. The Italians make charges against my best friends for over-speeding, and I have to fine them, and my best friends bring charges against the Italians for poaching, and when I fine the Italians they send me Black Hand letters. And now every day I'll be asked to issue a warrant for a German spy who is selecting gun sites. And he will turn out to be a millionaire who is tired of living at the Ritz-Carlton and wants to 'own his own home' and his own golf-links. And he'll be so hot at being arrested that he'll take his millions to Long Island and try to break into the Piping Rock Club. And it will be your fault!"
The young justice of the peace was right. At least so far as Jimmie Sniffen was concerned, the words of the war prophet had filled one mind with unrest. In the past Jimmie's idea of a holiday had been to spend it scouting in the woods. In this pleasure he was selfish. He did not want companions who talked, and trampled upon the dead leaves so that they frightened the wild animals and gave the Indians warning. Jimmie liked to pretend. He liked to fill the woods with wary and hostile adversaries. It was a game of his own inventing. If he crept to the top of a hill and, on peering over it, surprised a fat woodchuck, he pretended the woodchuck was a bear, weighing two hundred pounds; if, himself unobserved, he could lie and watch, off its guard, a rabbit, squirrel, or, most difficult of all, a crow, it became a deer and that night at supper Jimmie made believe he was eating venison. Sometimes he was a scout of the Continental Army and carried despatches to General Washington. The rules of that game were that if any man ploughing in the fields, or cutting trees in the woods, or even approaching along the same road, saw Jimmie before Jimmie saw him, Jimmie was taken prisoner, and before sunrise was shot as a spy. He was seldom shot. Or else why on his sleeve was the badge for "stalking"? But always to have to make believe became monotonous. Even "dry shopping" along the Rue de la Paix, when you pretend you can have anything you see in any window, leaves one just as rich, but unsatisfied. So the advice of the war correspondent to seek out German spies came to Jimmie like a day at the circus, like a week at the Danbury Fair. It not only was a call to arms, to protect his flag and home, but a chance to play in earnest the game in which he most delighted. No longer need he pretend. No longer need he waste his energies in watching, unobserved, a greedy rabbit rob a carrot field. The game now was his fellow-man and his enemy; not only his enemy, but the enemy of his country.
In his first effort Jimmie was not entirely successful. The man looked the part perfectly; he wore an auburn beard, disguising spectacles, and he carried a suspicious knapsack. But he turned out to be a professor from the Museum of Natural History, who wanted to dig for Indian arrow-heads. And when Jimmie threatened to arrest him, the indignant gentleman arrested Jimmie. Jimmie escaped only by leading the professor to a secret cave of his own, though on some one else's property, where one not only could dig for arrow-heads, but find them. The professor was delighted, but for Jimmie it was a great disappointment. The week following Jimmie was again disappointed.
On the bank of the Kensico Reservoir, he came upon a man who was acting in a mysterious and suspicious manner. He was making notes in a book, and his runabout which he had concealed in a wood road was stuffed with blue-prints. It did not take Jimmie long to guess his purpose. He was planning to blow up the Kensico dam, and cut off the water supply of New York City. Seven millions of people without water! Without firing a shot, New York must surrender! At the thought Jimmie shuddered, and at the risk of his life, by clinging to the tail of a motor truck, he followed the runabout into White Plains. But there it developed the mysterious stranger, so far from wishing to destroy the Kensico dam, was the State Engineer who had built it, and, also, a large part of the Panama Canal. Nor in his third effort was Jimmie more successful. From the heights of Pound Ridge he discovered on a hilltop below him a man working along upon a basin of concrete. The man was a German-American, and already on Jimmie's list of "suspects." That for the use of the German artillery he was preparing a concrete bed for a siege gun was only too evident. But closer investigation proved that the concrete was only two inches thick. And the hyphenated one explained that the basin was built over a spring, in the waters of which he planned to erect a fountain and raise goldfish. It was a bitter blow. Jimmie became discouraged. Meeting Judge Van Vorst one day in the road he told him his troubles. The young judge proved unsympathetic. "My advice to you, Jimmie," he said, "is to go slow. Accusing everybody of espionage is a very serious matter. If you call a man a spy, it's sometimes hard for him to disprove it; and the name sticks. So, go slow—very slow. Before you arrest any more people, come to me first for a warrant."
So, the next time Jimmie proceeded with caution.
Besides being a farmer in a small way, Jimmie's father was a handy man with tools. He had no union card, but, in laying shingles along a blue chalk line, few were as expert. It was August, there was no school, and Jimmie was carrying a dinner-pail to where his father was at work on a new barn. He made a cross-cut through the woods, and came upon the young man in the golf-cap. The stranger nodded, and his eyes, which seemed to be always laughing, smiled pleasantly. But he was deeply tanned, and, from the waist up, held himself like a soldier, so, at once, Jimmie mistrusted him. Early the next morning Jimmie met him again. It had not been raining, but the clothes of the young man were damp. Jimmie guessed that while the dew was still on the leaves the young man had been forcing his way through underbrush. The stranger must have remembered Jimmie, for he laughed and exclaimed:
"Ah, my friend with the dinner-pail! It's luck you haven't got it now, or I'd hold you up. I'm starving!"
Jimmie smiled in sympathy. "It's early to be hungry," said Jimmie; "when did you have your breakfast?"
"I didn't," laughed the young man. "I went out to walk up an appetite, and I lost myself. But I haven't lost my appetite. Which is the shortest way back to Bedford?"
"The first road to your right," said Jimmie.
"Is it far?" asked the stranger anxiously. That he was very hungry was evident.
"It's a half-hour's walk," said Jimmie.
"If I live that long," corrected the young man; and stepped out briskly.
Jimmie knew that within a hundred yards a turn in the road would shut him from sight. So, he gave the stranger time to walk that distance, and then, diving into the wood that lined the road, "stalked" him. From behind a tree he saw the stranger turn and look back, and seeing no one in the road behind him, also leave it and plunge into the woods.
He had not turned toward Bedford; he had turned to the left. Like a runner stealing bases, Jimmie slipped from tree to tree. Ahead of him he heard the stranger trampling upon dead twigs, moving rapidly as one who knew his way. At times through the branches Jimmie could see the broad shoulders of the stranger, and again could follow his progress only by the noise of the crackling twigs. When the noises ceased, Jimmie guessed the stranger had reached the wood road, grass-grown and moss-covered, that led to Middle Patent. So, he ran at right angles until he also reached it, and as now he was close to where it entered the main road, he approached warily. But he was too late. There was a sound like the whir of a rising partridge, and ahead of him from where it had been hidden, a gray touring-car leaped into the highway. The stranger was at the wheel. Throwing behind it a cloud of dust, the car raced toward Greenwich. Jimmie had time to note only that it bore a Connecticut State license; that in the wheel-ruts the tires printed little V's, like arrow-heads.
For a week Jimmie saw nothing of the spy, but for many hot and dusty miles he stalked arrow-heads. They lured him north, they lured him south, they were stamped in soft asphalt, in mud, dust, and fresh-spread tarvia. Wherever Jimmie walked, arrow-heads ran before. In his sleep as in his copy-book, he saw endless chains of V's. But not once could he catch up with the wheels that printed them. A week later, just at sunset as he passed below Round Hill, he saw the stranger on top of it. On the skyline, in silhouette against the sinking sun, he was as conspicuous as a flagstaff. But to approach him was impossible. For acres Round Hill offered no other cover than stubble. It was as bald as a skull. Until the stranger chose to descend, Jimmie must wait. And the stranger was in no haste. The sun sank and from the west Jimmie saw him turn his face east toward the Sound. A storm was gathering, drops of rain began to splash and as the sky grew black the figure on the hilltop faded into the darkness. And then, at the very spot where Jimmie had last seen it, there suddenly flared two tiny flashes of fire. Jimmie leaped from cover. It was no longer to be endured. The spy was signalling. The time for caution had passed, now was the time to act. Jimmie raced to the top of the hill, and found it empty. He plunged down it, vaulted a stone wall, forced his way through a tangle of saplings, and held his breath to listen. Just beyond him, over a jumble of rocks, a hidden stream was tripping and tumbling. Joyfully it laughed and gurgled. Jimmie turned hot. It sounded as though from the darkness the spy mocked him. Jimmie shook his fist at the enshrouding darkness. Above the tumult of the coming storm and the tossing tree-tops, he raised his voice.
"You wait!" he shouted. "I'll get you yet! Next time, I'll bring a gun."
Next time was the next morning. There had been a hawk hovering over the chicken yard, and Jimmie used that fact to explain his borrowing the family shotgun. He loaded it with buckshot, and, in the pocket of his shirt buttoned his license to "hunt, pursue and kill, to take with traps or other devices."
He remembered that Judge Van Vorst had warned him, before he arrested more spies, to come to him for a warrant. But with an impatient shake of the head Jimmie tossed the recollection from him. After what he had seen he could not possibly be again mistaken. He did not need a warrant. What he had seen was his warrant—plus the shotgun.
As a "pathfinder" should, he planned to take up the trail where he had lost it, but, before he reached Round Hill, he found a warmer trail. Before him, stamped clearly in the road still damp from the rain of the night before, two lines of little arrow-heads pointed the way. They were so fresh that at each twist in the road, lest the car should be just beyond him, Jimmie slackened his steps. After half a mile the scent grew hot. The tracks were deeper, the arrow-heads more clearly cut, and Jimmie broke into a run. Then, the arrow-heads swung suddenly to the right, and in a clearing at the edge of a wood, were lost. But the tires had pressed deep into the grass, and just inside the wood, he found the car. It was empty. Jimmie was drawn two ways. Should he seek the spy on the nearest hilltop, or, until the owner returned, wait by the car? Between lying in ambush and action, Jimmie preferred action. But, he did not climb the hill nearest the car; he climbed the hill that overlooked that hill.
Flat on the ground, hidden in the goldenrod, he lay motionless. Before him, for fifteen miles stretched hills and tiny valleys. Six miles away to his right rose the stone steeple, and the red roofs of Greenwich. Directly before him were no signs of habitation, only green forests, green fields, gray stone walls, and, where a road ran up-hill, a splash of white, that quivered in the heat. The storm of the night before had washed the air. Each leaf stood by itself. Nothing stirred; and in the glare of the August sun every detail of the landscape was as distinct as those in a colored photograph; and as still.
In his excitement the scout was trembling.
"If he moves," he sighed happily, "I've got him!"
Opposite, across a little valley was the hill at the base of which he had found the car. The slope toward him was bare, but the top was crowned with a thick wood; and along its crest, as though establishing an ancient boundary, ran a stone wall, moss-covered and wrapped in poison-ivy. In places, the branches of the trees, reaching out to the sun, overhung the wall and hid it in black shadows. Jimmie divided the hill into sectors. He began at the right, and slowly followed the wall. With his eyes he took it apart, stone by stone. Had a chipmunk raised his head, Jimmie would have seen him. So, when from the stone wall, like the reflection of the sun upon a window-pane, something flashed, Jimmie knew he had found his spy. A pair of binoculars had betrayed him. Jimmie now saw him clearly. He sat on the ground at the top of the hill opposite, in the deep shadow of an oak, his back against the stone wall. With the binoculars to his eyes he had leaned too far forward, and upon the glass the sun had flashed a warning.
Jimmie appreciated that his attack must be made from the rear. Backward, like a crab he wriggled free of the goldenrod, and hidden by the contour of the hill, raced down it and into the woods on the hill opposite. When he came to within twenty feet of the oak beneath which he had seen the stranger, he stood erect, and as though avoiding a live wire, stepped on tiptoe to the wall. The stranger still sat against it. The binoculars hung from a cord around his neck. Across his knees was spread a map. He was marking it with a pencil, and as he worked he hummed a tune.
Jimmie knelt, and resting the gun on the top of the wall, covered him.
"Throw up your hands!" he commanded.
The stranger did not start. Except that he raised his eyes he gave no sign that he had heard. His eyes stared across the little sun-filled valley. They were half closed as though in study, as though perplexed by some deep and intricate problem. They appeared to see beyond the sun-filled valley some place of greater moment, some place far distant.
Then the eyes smiled, and slowly, as though his neck were stiff, but still smiling, the stranger turned his head. When he saw the boy, his smile was swept away in waves of surprise, amazement, and disbelief. These were followed instantly by an expression of the most acute alarm.
"Don't point that thing at me!" shouted the stranger. "Is it loaded?" With his cheek pressed to the stock and his eye squinted down the length of the brown barrel, Jimmie nodded. The stranger flung up his open palms. They accented his expression of amazed incredulity. He seemed to be exclaiming, "Can such things be?"
"Get up!" commanded Jimmie.
With alacrity the stranger rose.
"Walk over there," ordered the scout. "Walk backward. Stop! Take off those field-glasses and throw them to me." Without removing his eyes from the gun the stranger lifted the binoculars from his neck and tossed them to the stone wall.
"See here!" he pleaded, "if you'll only point that damned blunderbuss the other way, you can have the glasses, and my watch, and clothes, and all my money; only don't——"
Jimmie flushed crimson. "You can't bribe me," he growled. At least, he tried to growl, but because his voice was changing, or because he was excited the growl ended in a high squeak. With mortification, Jimmie flushed a deeper crimson. But the stranger was not amused. At Jimmie's words he seemed rather the more amazed.
"I'm not trying to bribe you," he protested. "If you don't want anything, why are you holding me up?"
"I'm not," returned Jimmie, "I'm arresting you!"
The stranger laughed with relief. Again his eyes smiled. "Oh," he cried, "I see! Have I been trespassing?"
With a glance Jimmie measured the distance between himself and the stranger. Reassured, he lifted one leg after the other over the wall. "If you try to rush me," he warned, "I'll shoot you full of buckshot."
The stranger took a hasty step backward.
"Don't worry about that," he exclaimed. "I'll not rush you. Why am I arrested?"
Hugging the shotgun with his left arm, Jimmie stopped and lifted the binoculars. He gave them a swift glance, slung them over his shoulder, and again clutched his weapon. His expression was now stern and menacing.
"The name on them," he accused, "is 'Weiss, Berlin.' Is that your name?" The stranger smiled, but corrected himself, and replied gravely, "That's the name of the firm that makes them."
Jimmie exclaimed in triumph. "Hah!" he cried, "made in Germany!"
The stranger shook his head.
"I don't understand," he said. "Where would a Weiss glass be made?" With polite insistence he repeated, "Would you mind telling me why I am arrested, and who you might happen to be?"
Jimmie did not answer. Again he stooped and picked up the map, and as he did so, for the first time the face of the stranger showed that he was annoyed. Jimmie was not at home with maps. They told him nothing. But the penciled notes on this one made easy reading. At his first glance he saw, "Correct range, 1,800 yards"; "this stream not fordable"; "slope of hill 15 degrees inaccessible for artillery." "Wire entanglements here"; "forage for five squadrons."
Jimmie's eyes flashed. He shoved the map inside his shirt, and with the gun motioned toward the base of the hill. "Keep forty feet ahead of me," he commanded, "and walk to your car." The stranger did not seem to hear him. He spoke with irritation.
"I suppose," he said, "I'll have to explain to you about that map."
"Not to me, you won't," declared his captor. "You're going to drive straight to Judge Van Vorst's, and explain to him!"
The stranger tossed his arms even higher. "Thank God!" he exclaimed gratefully.
With his prisoner Jimmie encountered no further trouble. He made a willing captive. And if in covering the five miles to Judge Van Vorst's he exceeded the speed limit, the fact that from the rear seat Jimmie held the shotgun against the base of his skull was an extenuating circumstance.
They arrived in the nick of time. In his own car young Van Vorst and a bag of golf clubs were just drawing away from the house. Seeing the car climbing the steep driveway that for a half-mile led from his lodge to his front door, and seeing Jimmie standing in the tonneau brandishing a gun, the Judge hastily descended. The sight of the spy hunter filled him with misgiving, but the sight of him gave Jimmie sweet relief. Arresting German spies for a small boy is no easy task. For Jimmie the strain was great. And now that he knew he had successfully delivered him into the hands of the law, Jimmie's heart rose with happiness. The added presence of a butler of magnificent bearing and of an athletic looking chauffeur increased his sense of security. Their presence seemed to afford a feeling of security to the prisoner also. As he brought the car to a halt, he breathed a sigh. It was a sigh of deep relief.
Jimmie fell from the tonneau. In concealing his sense of triumph, he was not entirely successful.
"I got him!" he cried. "I didn't make no mistake about this one!"
"What one?" demanded Van Vorst.
Jimmie pointed dramatically at his prisoner. With an anxious expression the stranger was tenderly fingering the back of his head. He seemed to wish to assure himself that it was still there.
"That one!" cried Jimmie. "He's a German spy!"
The patience of Judge Van Vorst fell from him. In his exclamation was indignation, anger, reproach.
"Jimmie!" he cried.
Jimmie thrust into his hand the map. It was his "Exhibit A." "Look what he's wrote," commanded the scout. "It's all military words. And these are his glasses. I took 'em off him. They're made in Germany! I been stalking him for a week. He's a spy!"
When Jimmie thrust the map before his face, Van Vorst had glanced at it. Then he regarded it more closely. As he raised his eyes they showed that he was puzzled.
But he greeted the prisoner politely.
"I'm extremely sorry you've been annoyed," he said. "I'm only glad it's no worse. He might have shot you. He's mad over the idea that every stranger he sees——"
The prisoner quickly interrupted.
"Please!" he begged, "don't blame the boy. He behaved extremely well. Might I speak with you—alone?" he asked.
Judge Van Vorst led the way across the terrace, and to the smoking-room, that served also as his office, and closed the door. The stranger walked directly to the mantelpiece and put his finger on a gold cup.
"I saw your mare win that at Belmont Park," he said. "She must have been a great loss to you?"
"She was," said Van Vorst. "The week before she broke her back, I refused three thousand for her. Will you have a cigarette?"
The stranger waved aside the cigarettes.
"I brought you inside," he said, "because I didn't want your servants to hear; and because I don't want to hurt that boy's feelings. He's a fine boy; and he's a damned clever scout. I knew he was following me and I threw him off twice, but to-day he caught me fair. If I really had been a German spy, I couldn't have got away from him. And I want him to think he has captured a German spy. Because he deserves just as much credit as though he had, and because it's best he shouldn't know whom he did capture."
Van Vorst pointed to the map. "My bet is," he said, "that you're an officer of the State militia, taking notes for the fall manoeuvres. Am I right?"
The stranger smiled in approval, but shook his head.
"You're warm," he said, "but it's more serious than manoeuvres. It's the Real Thing." From his pocketbook he took a visiting card and laid it on the table. "I'm 'Sherry' McCoy," he said, "Captain of Artillery in the United States Army." He nodded to the hand telephone on the table.
"You can call up Governor's Island and get General Wood or his aide, Captain Dorey, on the phone. They sent me here. Ask them. I'm not picking out gun sites for the Germans; I'm picking out positions of defense for Americans when the Germans come!"
Van Vorst laughed derisively.
"My word!" he exclaimed. "You're as bad as Jimmie!"
Captain McCoy regarded him with disfavor.
"And you, sir," he retorted, "are as bad as ninety million other Americans. You won't believe! When the Germans are shelling this hill, when they're taking your hunters to pull their cook-wagons, maybe, you'll believe then."
"Are you serious?" demanded Van Vorst. "And you an army officer?"
"That's why I am serious," returned McCoy. "We know. But when we try to prepare for what is coming, we must do it secretly—in underhand ways, for fear the newspapers will get hold of it and ridicule us, and accuse us of trying to drag the country into war. That's why we have to prepare under cover. That's why I've had to skulk around these hills like a chicken thief. And," he added sharply, "that's why that boy must not know who I am. If he does, the General Staff will get a calling down at Washington, and I'll have my ears boxed."
Van Vorst moved to the door.
"He will never learn the truth from me," he said. "For I will tell him you are to be shot at sunrise."
"Good!" laughed the Captain. "And tell me his name. If ever we fight over Westchester County, I want that lad for my chief of scouts. And give him this. Tell him to buy a new scout uniform. Tell him it comes from you."
But no money could reconcile Jimmie to the sentence imposed upon his captive. He received the news with a howl of anguish. "You mustn't," he begged; "I never knowed you'd shoot him! I wouldn't have caught him if I'd knowed that. I couldn't sleep if I thought he was going to be shot at sunrise." At the prospect of unending nightmares Jimmie's voice shook with terror. "Make it for twenty years," he begged. "Make it for ten," he coaxed, "but, please, promise you won't shoot him."
When Van Vorst returned to Captain McCoy, he was smiling, and the butler who followed, bearing a tray and tinkling glasses, was trying not to smile.
"I gave Jimmie your ten dollars," said Van Vorst, "and made it twenty, and he has gone home. You will be glad to hear that he begged me to spare your life, and that your sentence has been commuted to twenty years in a fortress. I drink to your good fortune."
"No!" protested Captain McCoy, "we will drink to Jimmie!"
When Captain McCoy had driven away, and his own car and the golf clubs had again been brought to the steps, Judge Van Vorst once more attempted to depart; but he was again delayed.
Other visitors were arriving.
Up the driveway a touring-car approached, and though it limped on a flat tire, it approached at reckless speed. The two men in the front seat were white with dust; their faces, masked by automobile glasses, were indistinguishable. As though preparing for an immediate exit, the car swung in a circle until its nose pointed down the driveway up which it had just come. Raising his silk mask the one beside the driver shouted at Judge Van Vorst. His throat was parched, his voice was hoarse and hot with anger.
"A gray touring-car," he shouted. "It stopped here. We saw it from that hill. Then the damn tire burst, and we lost our way. Where did he go?"
"Who?" demanded Van Vorst, stiffly, "Captain McCoy?"
The man exploded with an oath. The driver, with a shove of his elbow, silenced him.
"Yes, Captain McCoy," assented the driver eagerly. "Which way did he go?"
"To New York," said Van Vorst.
The driver shrieked at his companion.
"Then, he's doubled back," he cried. "He's gone to New Haven." He stooped and threw in the clutch. The car lurched forward.
A cold terror swept young Van Vorst.
"What do you want with him?" he called. "Who are you?"
Over one shoulder the masked face glared at him. Above the roar of the car the words of the driver were flung back.
"We're Secret Service from Washington," he shouted. "He's from their embassy. He's a German spy!"
Leaping and throbbing at sixty miles an hour, the car vanished in a curtain of white, whirling dust.
A NEWSPAPER STORY
We had had so many office-boys before Gallegher came among us that they had begun to lose the characteristics of individuals, and became merged in a composite photograph of small boys, to whom we applied the generic title of "Here, you"; or "You, boy."
We had had sleepy boys, and lazy boys, and bright, "smart" boys, who became so familiar on so short an acquaintance that we were forced to part with them to save our own self-respect.
They generally graduated into district-messenger boys, and occasionally returned to us in blue coats with nickel-plated buttons, and patronized us.
But Gallegher was something different from anything we had experienced before. Gallegher was short and broad in build, with a solid, muscular broadness, and not a fat and dumpy shortness. He wore perpetually on his face a happy and knowing smile, as if you and the world in general were not impressing him as seriously as you thought you were, and his eyes, which were very black and very bright, snapped intelligently at you like those of a little black-and-tan terrier.
All Gallegher knew had been learnt on the streets; not a very good school in itself, but one that turns out very knowing scholars. And Gallegher had attended both morning and evening sessions. He could not tell you who the Pilgrim Fathers were, nor could he name the thirteen original States, but he knew all the officers of the twenty-second police district by name, and he could distinguish the clang of a fire-engine's gong from that of a patrol-wagon or an ambulance fully two blocks distant. It was Gallegher who rang the alarm when the Woolwich Mills caught fire, while the officer on the beat was asleep, and it was Gallegher who led the "Black Diamonds" against the "Wharf Rats," when they used to stone each other to their heart's content on the coal-wharves of Richmond.
I am afraid, now that I see these facts written down, that Gallegher was not a reputable character; but he was so very young and so very old for his years that we all liked him very much nevertheless. He lived in the extreme northern part of Philadelphia, where the cotton and woollen mills run down to the river, and how he ever got home after leaving the Press building at two in the morning, was one of the mysteries of the office. Sometimes he caught a night car, and sometimes he walked all the way, arriving at the little house, where his mother and himself lived alone, at four in the morning. Occasionally he was given a ride on an early milk-cart, or on one of the newspaper delivery wagons, with its high piles of papers still damp and sticky from the press. He knew several drivers of "night hawks"—those cabs that prowl the streets at night looking for belated passengers—and when it was a very cold morning he would not go home at all, but would crawl into one of these cabs and sleep, curled up on the cushions, until daylight.
Besides being quick and cheerful, Gallegher possessed a power of amusing the Press's young men to a degree seldom attained by the ordinary mortal. His clog-dancing on the city editor's desk, when that gentleman was up-stairs fighting for two more columns of space, was always a source of innocent joy to us, and his imitations of the comedians of the variety halls delighted even the dramatic critic, from whom the comedians themselves failed to force a smile.
But Gallegher's chief characteristic was his love for that element of news generically classed as "crime."
Not that he ever did anything criminal himself. On the contrary, his was rather the work of the criminal specialist, and his morbid interest in the doings of all queer characters, his knowledge of their methods, their present whereabouts, and their past deeds of transgression often rendered him a valuable ally to our police reporter, whose daily feuilletons were the only portion of the paper Gallegher deigned to read.
In Gallegher the detective element was abnormally developed. He had shown this on several occasions, and to excellent purpose.
Once the paper had sent him into a Home for Destitute Orphans which was believed to be grievously mismanaged, and Gallegher, while playing the part of a destitute orphan, kept his eyes open to what was going on around him so faithfully that the story he told of the treatment meted out to the real orphans was sufficient to rescue the unhappy little wretches from the individual who had them in charge, and to have the individual himself sent to jail.
Gallegher's knowledge of the aliases, terms of imprisonment, and various misdoings of the leading criminals in Philadelphia was almost as thorough as that of the chief of police himself, and he could tell to an hour when "Dutchy Mack" was to be let out of prison, and could identify at a glance "Dick Oxford, confidence man," as "Gentleman Dan, petty thief."
There were, at this time, only two pieces of news in any of the papers. The least important of the two was the big fight between the Champion of the United States and the Would-be Champion, arranged to take place near Philadelphia; the second was the Burrbank murder, which was filling space in newspapers all over the world, from New York to Bombay.
Richard F. Burrbank was one of the most prominent of New York's railroad lawyers; he was also, as a matter of course, an owner of much railroad stock, and a very wealthy man. He had been spoken of as a political possibility for many high offices, and, as the counsel for a great railroad, was known even further than the great railroad itself had stretched its system.
At six o'clock one morning he was found by his butler lying at the foot of the hall stairs with two pistol wounds above his heart. He was quite dead. His safe, to which only he and his secretary had the keys, was found open, and $200,000 in bonds, stocks, and money, which had been placed there only the night before, was found missing. The secretary was missing also. His name was Stephen S. Hade, and his name and his description had been telegraphed and cabled to all parts of the world. There was enough circumstantial evidence to show, beyond any question or possibility of mistake, that he was the murderer.
It made an enormous amount of talk, and unhappy individuals were being arrested all over the country, and sent on to New York for identification. Three had been arrested at Liverpool, and one man just as he landed at Sydney, Australia. But so far the murderer had escaped.
We were all talking about it one night, as everybody else was all over the country, in the local room, and the city editor said it was worth a fortune to any one who chanced to run across Hade and succeeded in handing him over to the police. Some of us thought Hade had taken passage from some one of the smaller seaports, and others were of the opinion that he had buried himself in some cheap lodging-house in New York, or in one of the smaller towns in New Jersey.
"I shouldn't be surprised to meet him out walking, right here in Philadelphia," said one of the staff. "He'll be disguised, of course, but you could always tell him by the absence of the trigger finger on his right hand. It's missing, you know; shot off when he was a boy."
"You want to look for a man dressed like a tough," said the city editor; "for as this fellow is to all appearances a gentleman, he will try to look as little like a gentleman as possible."
"No, he won't," said Gallegher, with that calm impertinence that made him dear to us. "He'll dress just like a gentleman. Toughs don't wear gloves, and you see he's got to wear 'em. The first thing he thought of after doing for Burrbank was of that gone finger, and how he was to hide it. He stuffed the finger of that glove with cotton so's to make it look like a whole finger, and the first time he takes off that glove they've got him—see, and he knows it. So what youse want to do is to look for a man with gloves on. I've been a-doing it for two weeks now, and I can tell you it's hard work, for everybody wears gloves this kind of weather. But if you look long enough you'll find him. And when you think it's him, go up to him and hold out your hand in a friendly way, like a bunco-steerer, and shake his hand; and if you feel that his forefinger ain't real flesh, but just wadded cotton, then grip to it with your right and grab his throat with your left, and holler for help."
There was an appreciative pause.
"I see, gentlemen," said the city editor, dryly, "that Gallegher's reasoning has impressed you; and I also see that before the week is out all of my young men will be under bonds for assaulting innocent pedestrians whose only offense is that they wear gloves in midwinter."
* * * * *
It was about a week after this that Detective Hefflefinger, of Inspector Byrnes's staff, came over to Philadelphia after a burglar, of whose whereabouts he had been misinformed by telegraph. He brought the warrant, requisition, and other necessary papers with him, but the burglar had flown. One of our reporters had worked on a New York paper, and knew Hefflefinger, and the detective came to the office to see if he could help him in his so far unsuccessful search.
He gave Gallegher his card, and after Gallegher had read it, and had discovered who the visitor was, he became so demoralized that he was absolutely useless.
"One of Byrnes's men" was a much more awe-inspiring individual to Gallegher than a member of the Cabinet. He accordingly seized his hat and overcoat, and leaving his duties to be looked after by others, hastened out after the object of his admiration, who found his suggestions and knowledge of the city so valuable, and his company so entertaining, that they became very intimate, and spent the rest of the day together.
In the meanwhile the managing editor had instructed his subordinates to inform Gallegher, when he condescended to return, that his services were no longer needed. Gallegher had played truant once too often. Unconscious of this, he remained with his new friend until late the same evening, and started the next afternoon toward the Press office.
* * * * *
As I have said, Gallegher lived in the most distant part of the city, not many minutes' walk from the Kensington railroad station, where trains ran into the suburbs and on to New York.
It was in front of this station that a smoothly shaven, well-dressed man brushed past Gallegher and hurried up the steps to the ticket office.
He held a walking-stick in his right hand, and Gallegher, who now patiently scrutinized the hands of every one who wore gloves, saw that while three fingers of the man's hand were closed around the cane, the fourth stood out in almost a straight line with his palm.
Gallegher stopped with a gasp and with a trembling all over his little body, and his brain asked with a throb if it could be possible. But possibilities and probabilities were to be discovered later. Now was the time for action.
He was after the man in a moment, hanging at his heels and his eyes moist with excitement.
He heard the man ask for a ticket to Torresdale, a little station just outside of Philadelphia, and when he was out of hearing, but not out of sight, purchased one for the same place.
The stranger went into the smoking-car, and seated himself at one end toward the door. Gallegher took his place at the opposite end.
He was trembling all over, and suffered from a slight feeling of nausea. He guessed it came from fright, not of any bodily harm that might come to him, but of the probability of failure in his adventure and of its most momentous possibilities.
The stranger pulled his coat collar up around his ears, hiding the lower portion of his face, but not concealing the resemblance in his troubled eyes and close-shut lips to the likenesses of the murderer Hade.
They reached Torresdale in half an hour, and the stranger, alighting quickly, struck off at a rapid pace down the country road leading to the station.
Gallegher gave him a hundred yards' start, and then followed slowly after. The road ran between fields and past a few frame-houses set far from the road in kitchen gardens.
Once or twice the man looked back over his shoulder, but he saw only a dreary length of road with a small boy splashing through the slush in the midst of it and stopping every now and again to throw snowballs at belated sparrows.
After a ten minutes' walk the stranger turned into a side road which led to only one place, the Eagle Inn, an old roadside hostelry known now as the headquarters for pothunters from the Philadelphia game market and the battleground of many a cock-fight.
Gallegher knew the place well. He and his young companions had often stopped there when out chestnutting on holidays in the autumn.
The son of the man who kept it had often accompanied them on their excursions, and though the boys of the city streets considered him a dumb lout, they respected him somewhat owing to his inside knowledge of dog and cock-fights.
The stranger entered the inn at a side door, and Gallegher, reaching it a few minutes later, let him go for the time being, and set about finding his occasional playmate, young Keppler.
Keppler's offspring was found in the woodshed.
"Tain't hard to guess what brings you out here," said the tavern-keeper's son, with a grin; "it's the fight."
"What fight?" asked Gallegher, unguardedly.
"What fight? Why, the fight," returned his companion, with the slow contempt of superior knowledge. "It's to come off here to-night. You knew that as well as me; anyway your sportin' editor knows it. He got the tip last night, but that won't help you any. You needn't think there's any chance of your getting a peep at it. Why, tickets is two hundred and fifty apiece!"
"Whew!" whistled Gallegher, "where's it to be?"
"In the barn," whispered Keppler. "I helped 'em fix the ropes this morning, I did."
"Gosh, but you're in luck," exclaimed Gallegher, with flattering envy. "Couldn't I jest get a peep at it?"
"Maybe," said the gratified Keppler. "There's a winder with a wooden shutter at the back of the barn. You can get in by it, if you have some one to boost you up to the sill."
"Sa-a-y," drawled Gallegher, as if something had but just that moment reminded him. "Who's that gent who come down the road just a bit ahead of me—him with the cape-coat! Has he got anything to do with the fight?"
"Him?" repeated Keppler in tones of sincere disgust. "No-oh, he ain't no sport. He's queer, Dad thinks. He come here one day last week about ten in the morning, said his doctor told him to go out 'en the country for his health. He's stuck up and citified, and wears gloves, and takes his meals private in his room, and all that sort of ruck. They was saying in the saloon last night that they thought he was hiding from something, and Dad, just to try him, asks him last night if he was coming to see the fight. He looked sort of scared, and said he didn't want to see no fight. And then Dad says, 'I guess you mean you don't want no fighters to see you.' Dad didn't mean no harm by it, just passed it as a joke; but Mr. Carleton, as he calls himself, got white as a ghost an' says, 'I'll go to the fight willing enough,' and begins to laugh and joke. And this morning he went right into the bar-room, where all the sports were setting, and said he was going into town to see some friends; and as he starts off he laughs an' says, 'This don't look as if I was afraid of seeing people, does it?' but Dad says it was just bluff that made him do it, and Dad thinks that if he hadn't said what he did, this Mr. Carleton wouldn't have left his room at all."
Gallegher had got all he wanted, and much more than he had hoped for—so much more that his walk back to the station was in the nature of a triumphal march.
He had twenty minutes to wait for the next train, and it seemed an hour. While waiting he sent a telegram to Hefflefinger at his hotel. It read:
Your man is near the Torresdale station, on Pennsylvania Railroad; take cab, and meet me at station. Wait until I come.
With the exception of one at midnight, no other train stopped at Torresdale that evening, hence the direction to take a cab.
The train to the city seemed to Gallegher to drag itself by inches. It stopped and backed at purposeless intervals, waited for an express to precede it, and dallied at stations, and when, at last, it reached the terminus, Gallegher was out before it had stopped and was in the cab and off on his way to the home of the sporting editor.
The sporting editor was at dinner and came out in the hall to see him, with his napkin in his hand. Gallegher explained breathlessly that he had located the murderer for whom the police of two continents were looking, and that he believed, in order to quiet the suspicions of the people with whom he was hiding, that he would be present at the fight that night.
The sporting editor led Gallegher into his library and shut the door. "Now," he said, "go over all that again."
Gallegher went over it again in detail, and added how he had sent for Hefflefinger to make the arrest in order that it might be kept from the knowledge of the local police and from the Philadelphia reporters.
"What I want Hefflefinger to do is to arrest Hade with the warrant he has for the burglar," explained Gallegher; "and to take him on to New York on the owl train that passes Torresdale at one. It don't get to Jersey City until four o'clock, one hour after the morning papers go to press. Of course, we must fix Hefflefinger so's he'll keep quiet and not tell who his prisoner really is."
The sporting editor reached his hand out to pat Gallegher on the head, but changed his mind and shook hands with him instead.
"My boy," he said, "you are an infant phenomenon. If I can pull the rest of this thing off to-night it will mean the $5,000 reward and fame galore for you and the paper. Now, I'm going to write a note to the managing editor, and you can take it around to him and tell him what you've done and what I am going to do, and he'll take you back on the paper and raise your salary. Perhaps you didn't know you've been discharged?"
"Do you think you ain't a-going to take me with you?" demanded Gallegher.
"Why, certainly not. Why should I? It all lies with the detective and myself now. You've done your share, and done it well. If the man's caught, the reward's yours. But you'd only be in the way now. You'd better go to the office and make your peace with the chief."
"If the paper can get along without me, I can get along without the old paper," said Gallegher, hotly. "And if I ain't a-going with you, you ain't neither, for I know where Hefflefinger is to be, and you don't, and I won't tell you."
"Oh, very well, very well," replied the sporting editor, weakly capitulating. "I'll send the note by a messenger; only mind, if you lose your place, don't blame me."
Gallegher wondered how this man could value a week's salary against the excitement of seeing a noted criminal run down, and of getting the news to the paper, and to that one paper alone.
From that moment the sporting editor sank in Gallegher's estimation.
Mr. Dwyer sat down at his desk and scribbled off the following note:
I have received reliable information that Hade, the Burrbank murderer, will be present at the fight to-night. We have arranged it so that he will be arrested quietly and in such a manner that the fact may be kept from all other papers. I need not point out to you that this will be the most important piece of news in the country to-morrow. Yours, etc.,
Michael E. Dwyer.
The sporting editor stepped into the waiting cab, while Gallegher whispered the directions to the driver. He was told to go first to a district-messenger office, and from there up to the Ridge Avenue Road, out Broad Street, and on to the old Eagle Inn, near Torresdale.
* * * * *
It was a miserable night. The rain and snow were falling together, and freezing as they fell. The sporting editor got out to send his message to the Press office, and then lighting a cigar, and turning up the collar of his great-coat, curled up in the corner of the cab.
"Wake me when we get there, Gallegher," he said. He knew he had a long ride, and much rapid work before him, and he was preparing for the strain.
To Gallegher the idea of going to sleep seemed almost criminal. From the dark corner of the cab his eyes shone with excitement, and with the awful joy of anticipation. He glanced every now and then to where the sporting editor's cigar shone in the darkness, and watched it as it gradually burnt more dimly and went out. The lights in the shop windows threw a broad glare across the ice on the pavements, and the lights from the lamp-posts tossed the distorted shadow of the cab, and the horse, and the motionless driver, sometimes before and sometimes behind them.
After half an hour Gallegher slipped down to the bottom of the cab and dragged out a lap-robe, in which he wrapped himself. It was growing colder, and the damp, keen wind swept in through the cracks until the window-frames and woodwork were cold to the touch.
An hour passed, and the cab was still moving more slowly over the rough surface of partly paved streets, and by single rows of new houses standing at different angles to each other in fields covered with ash-heaps and brick-kilns. Here and there the gaudy lights of a drug-store, and the forerunner of suburban civilization, shone from the end of a new block of houses, and the rubber cape of an occasional policeman showed in the light of the lamp-post that he hugged for comfort.
Then even the houses disappeared, and the cab dragged its way between truck farms, with desolate-looking glass-covered beds, and pools of water, half-caked with ice, and bare trees, and interminable fences.
Once or twice the cab stopped altogether, and Gallegher could hear the driver swearing to himself, or at the horse, or the roads. At last they drew up before the station at Torresdale. It was quite deserted, and only a single light cut a swath in the darkness and showed a portion of the platform, the ties, and the rails glistening in the rain. They walked twice past the light before a figure stepped out of the shadow and greeted them cautiously.
"I am Mr. Dwyer, of the Press," said the sporting editor, briskly. "You've heard of me, perhaps. Well, there shouldn't be any difficulty in our making a deal, should there? This boy here has found Hade, and we have reason to believe he will be among the spectators at the fight to-night. We want you to arrest him quietly, and as secretly as possible. You can do it with your papers and your badge easily enough. We want you to pretend that you believe he is this burglar you came over after. If you will do this, and take him away without any one so much as suspecting who he really is, and on the train that passes here at 1.20 for New York, we will give you $500 out of the $5,000 reward. If, however, one other paper, either in New York or Philadelphia, or anywhere else, knows of the arrest, you won't get a cent. Now, what do you say?"
The detective had a great deal to say. He wasn't at all sure the man Gallegher suspected was Hade; he feared he might get himself into trouble by making a false arrest, and if it should be the man, he was afraid the local police would interfere.
"We've no time to argue or debate this matter," said Dwyer, warmly. "We agree to point Hade out to you in the crowd. After the fight is over you arrest him as we have directed, and you get the money and the credit of the arrest. If you don't like this, I will arrest the man myself, and have him driven to town, with a pistol for a warrant."
Hefflefinger considered in silence and then agreed unconditionally. "As you say, Mr. Dwyer," he returned. "I've heard of you for a thoroughbred sport. I know you'll do what you say you'll do; and as for me I'll do what you say and just as you say, and it's a very pretty piece of work as it stands."
They all stepped back into the cab, and then it was that they were met by a fresh difficulty, how to get the detective into the barn where the fight was to take place, for neither of the two men had $250 to pay for his admittance.
But this was overcome when Gallegher remembered the window of which young Keppler had told him.
In the event of Hade's losing courage and not daring to show himself in the crowd around the ring, it was agreed that Dwyer should come to the barn and warn Hefflefinger; but if he should come, Dwyer was merely to keep near him and to signify by a prearranged gesture which one of the crowd he was.
They drew up before a great black shadow of a house, dark, forbidding, and apparently deserted. But at the sound of the wheels on the gravel the door opened, letting out a stream of warm, cheerful light, and a man's voice said, "Put out those lights. Don't youse know no better than that?" This was Keppler, and he welcomed Mr. Dwyer with effusive courtesy.
The two men showed in the stream of light, and the door closed on them, leaving the house as it was at first, black and silent, save for the dripping of the rain and snow from the eaves.
The detective and Gallegher put out the cab's lamps and led the horse toward a long, low shed in the rear of the yard, which they now noticed was almost filled with teams of many different makes, from the Hobson's choice of a livery stable to the brougham of the man about town.
"No," said Gallegher, as the cabman stopped to hitch the horse beside the others, "we want it nearest that lower gate. When we newspaper men leave this place we'll leave it in a hurry, and the man who is nearest town is likely to get there first. You won't be a-following of no hearse when you make your return trip."
Gallegher tied the horse to the very gate-post itself, leaving the gate open and allowing a clear road and a flying start for the prospective race to Newspaper Row.
The driver disappeared under the shelter of the porch, and Gallegher and the detective moved off cautiously to the rear of the barn. "This must be the window," said Hefflefinger, pointing to a broad wooden shutter some feet from the ground.
"Just you give me a boost once, and I'll get that open in a jiffy," said Gallegher.
The detective placed his hands on his knees, and Gallegher stood upon his shoulders, and with the blade of his knife lifted the wooden button that fastened the window on the inside, and pulled the shutter open.
Then he put one leg inside over the sill, and leaning down helped to draw his fellow-conspirator up to a level with the window. "I feel just like I was burglarizing a house," chuckled Gallegher, as he dropped noiselessly to the floor below and refastened the shutter. The barn was a large one, with a row of stalls on either side in which horses and cows were dozing. There was a haymow over each row of stalls, and at one end of the barn a number of fence-rails had been thrown across from one mow to the other. These rails were covered with hay.
In the middle of the floor was the ring. It was not really a ring, but a square, with wooden posts at its four corners through which ran a heavy rope. The space enclosed by the rope was covered with sawdust.
Gallegher could not resist stepping into the ring, and after stamping the sawdust once or twice, as if to assure himself that he was really there, began dancing around it, and indulging in such a remarkable series of fistic manoeuvres with an imaginary adversary that the unimaginative detective precipitately backed into a corner of the barn.
"Now, then," said Gallegher, having apparently vanquished his foe, "you come with me." His companion followed quickly as Gallegher climbed to one of the hay-mows, and, crawling carefully out on the fence-rail, stretched himself at full length, face downward. In this position, by moving the straw a little, he could look down, without being himself seen, upon the heads of whomsoever stood below. "This is better'n a private box, ain't it?" said Gallegher.