MoboReader > Literature > Condensed Novels: New Burlesques

   Chapter 4 S I TO XX

Condensed Novels: New Burlesques By Bret Harte Characters: 86054

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02


I AM FORCED TO SEA AND TO BECOME A PIRATE! I SUFFER LAMENTABLY FROM SICKNESS BY REASON OF THE BIGNESSE OF THE WAVES. I COMMIT MANY CRUELTIES AND BLOODSHED. BUT BY THE DIVINE INTERCESSION I EVENTUALLY THROW THE WICKED CAPTAIN OVERBOARD AND AM ELECTED IN HIS STEAD. I DISCOVER AN ISLAND OF TREASURE, OBTAIN POSSESSION THEREOF BY A TRICKE, AND PUT THE NATIVES TO THE SWORD.

I marvel much at those who deem it necessary in the setting down of their adventures to gloze over the whiles between with much matter of the country, the peoples, and even their own foolish reflections thereon, hoping in this way to cozen the reader with a belief in their own truthfulness, and encrease the extravagance of their deeds. I, being a plain, blunt man, shall simply say for myself that for many days after being taken from the bilboes and made free of the deck, I was grievously distempered by reason of the waves, and so collapsed in the bowels that I could neither eat, stand, nor lie. Being thus in great fear of death, from which I was miraculously preserved, I, out of sheer gratitude to my Maker, did incontinently make oath and sign articles to be one of the crew-which were buccaneers. I did this the more readily as we were to attack the ships of Spayne only, and through there being no state of Warre at that time between England and that country, it was wisely conceived that this conduct would provoke it, and we should thus be forearmed, as became a juste man in his quarrel. For this we had the precious example of many great Captains. We did therefore heave to and burn many ships-the quality of those engagements I do not set forth, not having a seaman's use of ship speech, and despising, as a plain, blunt man, those who misuse it, having it not.

But this I do know, that, having some conceit of a shipman's ways and of pirates, I did conceive at this time a pretty song for my comradoes, whereof the words ran thus:-

Yo ho! when the Dog Watch bayeth loud

In the light of a mid-sea moon!

And the Dead Eyes glare in the stiffening Shroud,

For that is the Pirate's noon!

When the Night Mayres sit on the Dead Man's Chest

Where no manne's breath may come-

Then hey for a bottle of Rum! Rum! Rum!

And a passage to Kingdom come!

I take no credit to myself for the same, except so far as it may shew a touch of my Lord of Southampton's manner-we being intimate-but this I know, that it was much acclaimed by the crew. Indeed they, observing that the Captain was of a cruel nature, would fain kill him and put me in his stead, but I, objecting to the shedding of precious blood in such behoof, did prevent such a lamentable and inhuman action by stealthily throwing him by night from his cabbin window into the sea-where, owing to the inconceivable distance of the ship from shore, he was presently drowned. Which untoward fate had a great effect upon my fortunes, since, burthening myself with his goods and effects, I found in his chest a printed proclamation from an aged and infirm clergyman in the West of England covenanting that, for the sum of two crowns, he would send to whoso offered, the chart of an island of great treasure in the Spanish Main, whereof he had had confession from the lips of a dying parishioner, and the amount gained thereby he would use for the restoration of his parish church. Now I, reading this, was struck by a great remorse and admiration for our late Captain, for that it would seem that he was, like myself, a staunch upholder of the Protestant Faith and the Church thereof, as did appear by his possession of the chart, for which he had no doubt paid the two good crowns. As an act of penance I resolved upon finding the same island by the aid of the chart, and to that purpose sailed East many days, and South, and North, and West as many other days-the manner whereof and the latitude and longitude of which I shall not burden the reader with, holding it, as a plain, blunt man, mere padding and impertinence to fill out my narrative, which helpeth not the general reader. So, I say, when we sighted the Island, which seemed to be swarming with savages, I ordered the masts to be stripped, save but for a single sail which hung sadly and distractedly, and otherwise put the ship into the likeness of a forlorn wreck, clapping the men, save one or two, under hatches. This I did to prevent the shedding of precious blood, knowing full well that the ignorant savages, believing the ship in sore distress, would swim off to her with provisions and fruit, bearing no arms. Which they did, while we, as fast as they clomb the sides, despatched them at leisure, without unseemly outcry or alarms. Having thus disposed of the most adventurous, we landed and took possession of the island, finding thereon many kegs of carbuncles and rubies and pieces of eight-the treasure store of those lawless pirates who infest the seas, having no colour of war or teaching of civilisation to atone for their horrid deeds.

I discovered also, by an omission in the chart, that this was not the Island wot of by the good and aged Devonshire divine-and so we eased our consciences of accounting for the treasure to him. We then sailed away, arriving after many years' absence at the Port of Bristol in Merrie England, where I took leave of the "Jolly Roger," that being the name of my ship; it was a strange conceit of seamen in after years ever to call the device of my FLAG-to wit, a skull and bones made in the sign of a Cross-by the NAME my ship bore, and if I have only corrected the misuse of history by lying knaves, I shall be content with this writing. But alas! such are the uncertainties of time; I found my good Lord of Southampton dead and most of his friends beheaded, and the blessed King James of Scotland-if I mistake not, for these also be the uncertainties of time-on the throne. In due time I married Mistress Marian Straitways. I might have told more of trifling, and how she fared, poor wench! in mine absence, even to the following of me in another ship, in a shipboy's disguise, and how I rescued her from a scheming Pagan villain; but, as a plain, blunt man, I am no hand at the weaving of puling love tales and such trifling diversions for lovesick mayds and their puny gallants-having only consideration for men and their deeds, which I have here set down bluntly and even at mine advanced years am ready to maintain with the hand that set it down.

DAN'L BOREM

BY E. N---S W--T---T

I

Dan'l Borem poured half of his second cup of tea abstractedly into his lap.

"Guess you've got suthin' on yer mind, Dan'l," said his sister.

"Mor'n likely I've got suthin' on my pants," returned Dan'l with that exquisitely dry, though somewhat protracted humor which at once thrilled and bored his acquaintances. "But-speakin' o' that hoss trade"-

"For goodness' sake, don't!" interrupted his sister wearily; "yer allus doin' it. Jest tell me about that young man-the new clerk ye think o' gettin'."

"Well, I telegraphed him to come over, arter I got this letter from him," he returned, handing her a letter. "Read it out loud."

But his sister, having an experienced horror of prolixity, glanced over it. "Far as I kin see he takes mor'n two hundred words to say you've got to take him on trust, and sez it suthin' in a style betwixt a business circular and them Polite Letter Writers. I thought you allowed he was a tony feller."

"Ef he does not brag much, ye see, I kin offer him small wages," said Dan'l, with a wink. "It's kinder takin' him at his own figger."

"And THAT mightn't pay! But ye don't think o' bringin' him HERE in this house? 'Cept you're thinkin' o' tellin' him that yarn o' yours about the hoss trade to beguile the winter evenings. I told ye ye'd hev to pay yet to get folks to listen to it."

"Wrong agin-ez you'll see! Wot ef I get a hundred thousand folks to pay me for tellin' it? But, speakin' o' this young feller, I calkilated to send him to the Turkey Buzzard Hotel;" and he looked at his sister with a shrewd yet humorous smile.

"What!" said his sister in alarm. "The Turkey Buzzard! Why, he'll be starved or pizoned! He won't stay there a week."

"Ef he's pizoned to death he won't be able to demand any wages; ef he leaves because he can't stand it-it's proof positive he couldn't stand me. Ef he's only starved and made weak and miserable he'll be easy to make terms with. It may seem hard what I'm sayin', but what seems hard on the other feller always comes mighty easy to you. The thing is NOT to be the 'other feller.' Ye ain't listenin'. Yet these remarks is shrewd and humorous, and hez bin thought so by literary fellers."

"H'm!" said his sister. "What's that ye was jest sayin' about folks bein' willin' to pay ye for tellin' that hoss trade yarn o' yours?"

"Thet's only what one o' them smart New York publishers allowed it was worth arter hearin' me tell it," said Dan'l dryly.

"Go way! You or him must be crazy. Why, it ain't ez good as that story 'bout a man who had a balky hoss that could be made to go only by buildin' a fire under him, and arter the man sells that hoss and the secret, and the man wot bought him tries it on, the blamed hoss lies down over the fire, and puts it out."

"I've allus allowed that the story ye hev to tell yourself is a blamed sight funnier than the one ye're listenin' to," said Dan'l. "Put that down among my sayin's, will ye?"

"But your story was never anythin' more than one o' them snippy things ye see in the papers, drored out to no end by you. It's only one o' them funny paragraphs ye kin read in a minit in the papers that takes YOU an hour to tell."

To her surprise Dan'l only looked at his sister with complacency.

"That," he said, "is jest what the New York publisher sez. 'The 'Merrikan people,' sez he, 'is ashamed o' bein' short and peart and funny; it lacks dignity,' sez he; 'it looks funny,' sez he, 'but it ain't deep-seated nash'nul literature,' sez he. 'Them snips o' funny stories and short dialogues in the comic papers-they make ye laff,' sez he, 'but laffin' isn't no sign o' deep morril purpose,' sez he, 'and it ain't genteel and refined. Abraham Linkin with his pat anecdotes ruined our standin' with dignified nashuns,' sez he. 'We cultivated publishers is sick o' hearin' furrin' nashuns roarin' over funny 'Merrikan stories; we're goin' to show 'em that, even ef we haven't classes and titles and sich, we kin be dull. We're workin' the historical racket for all that it's worth,-ef we can't go back mor'n a hundred years or so, we kin rake in a Lord and a Lady when we do, and we're gettin' in some ole-fashioned spellin' and "methinkses" and "peradventures." We're doin' the religious bizness ez slick ez Robert Elsmere, and we find lots o' soul in folks-and heaps o quaint morril characters,' sez he."

"Sakes alive, Dan'l!" broke in his sister; "what's all that got to do with your yarn 'bout the hoss trade?"

"Everythin'," returned Dan'l. "'For,' sez he, 'Mr. Borem,' sez he, 'you're a quaint morril character. You've got protracted humor,' sez he. 'You've bin an hour tellin' that yarn o' yours! Ef ye could spin it out to fill two chapters of a book-yer fortune's made! For you'll show that a successful hoss trade involves the highest nash'nul characteristics. That what common folk calls "selfishness," "revenge," "mean lyin'," and "low-down money-grubbin' ambishun" is really "quaintness," and will go in double harness with the bizness of a Christian banker,' sez he."

"Created goodness, Dan'l! You're designin' ter"-

Dan'l Borem rose, coughed, expectorated carefully at the usual spot in the fender, his general custom of indicating the conclusion of a subject or an interview, and said dryly: "I'm thar!"

II

To return to the writer of the letter, whose career was momentarily cut off by the episode of the horse trade (who, if he had previously received a letter written by somebody else would have been an entirely different person and not in this novel at all): John Lummox-known to his family as "the perfect Lummox"-had been two years in college, but thought it rather fine of himself-a habit of thought in which he frequently indulged-to become a clerk, but finally got tired of it, and to his father's relief went to Europe for a couple of years, returning with some knowledge of French and German, and the cutting end of a German student's blunted dueling sword. Having, as he felt, thus equipped himself for the hero of an American "Good Society" novel, he went on board a "liner," where there would naturally be susceptible young ladies. One he thought he recognized as a girl with whom he used to play "forfeits" in the vulgar past of his boyhood. She sat at his table, accompanied by another lady whose husband seemed to be a confirmed dyspeptic. His remarks struck Lummox as peculiar.

"Shall I begin dinner with pudding and cheese or take the ordinary soup first? I quite forget which I did last night," he said anxiously to his wife.

But Mrs. Starling hesitated.

"Tell me, Mary," he said, appealing to Miss Bike, the young lady.

"I should begin with the pudding," said Miss Bike decisively, "and between that and the arrival of the cheese you can make up your mind, and then, if you think better, go back to the soup."

"Thank you so much. Now, as to drink? Shall I take the Friedrichshalle first or the Benedictine? You know the doctor insists upon the Friedrichshalle, but I don't think I did well to mix them as I did yesterday. Or shall I take simply milk and beer?"

"I should say simplicity was best. Besides, you can always fill up with champagne later."

How splendidly this clear-headed, clear-eyed girl dominated the man! Lummox felt that REALLY he might renew her acquaintance! He did so.

"I remembered you," she said. "You've not changed a bit since you were eight years old."

John, wishing to change the subject, said that he thought Mr. Starling seemed an uncertain man.

"Very! He's even now in his stateroom sitting in his pyjamas with a rubber shoe on one foot and a pump on the other, wondering whether he ought to put on golf knickerbockers with a dressing-gown and straw hat before he comes on deck. He has already put on and taken off about twenty suits."

"He certainly is very trying," returned Lummox. He paused and colored deeply. "I beg," he stammered, "I hope-you don't think me guilty of a pun! When I said 'trying' I referred entirely to the effect on your sensitiveness of these tentative attempts toward clothing himself."

"I should never accuse YOU of levity, Mr. Lummox," said the young lady, gazing thoughtfully upon his calm but somewhat heavy features,-"never."

Yet he would have liked to reclaim himself by a show of lightness. He was leaning on the rail looking at the sea. The scene was beautiful.

"I suppose," he said, rolling with the sea and his early studies of Doctor Johnson, "that one would in the more superior manner show his appreciation of all this by refraining from the obvious comment which must needs be recognized as comparatively commonplace and vulgar; but really this is so superb that I must express some of my emotion, even at the risk of lowering your opinion of my good taste, provided, of course, that you have any opinion on the one hand or any good taste on the other."

"Without that undue depreciation of one's self which must ever be a sign of self-conscious demerit," said the young girl lightly, "I may say that I am not generally good at Johnsonese; but it may relieve your mind to know that had you kept silence one instant longer, I should have taken the risk of lowering your opinion of my taste, provided, of course, that you have one to lower and are capable of that exertion-if such indeed it may be termed-by remarking that this is perfectly magnificent."

"Do you think," he said gloomily, still leaning on the rail, "that we can keep this kind of thing up-perhaps I should say down-much longer? For myself, I am feeling far from well; it may have been the lobster-or that last sentence-but"-

They were both silent. "Yet," she said, after a pause, "you can at least take Mr. Starling and his dyspepsia off my hands. You might be equal to that exertion."

"I suppose that by this time I ought to be doing something for somebody," he said thoughtfully. "Yes, I will."

That evening after dinner he took Mr. Starling into the smoking-room and card-room. They had something hot. At 4 A. M., with the assistance of the steward, he projected Mr. Starling into Mrs. Starling's stateroom, delicately withdrawing to evade the lady's thanks. At breakfast he saw Miss Bike. "Thank you so much," she said; "Mrs. Starling found Starling greatly improved. He himself admitted he was 'never berrer' and, far from worrying about what night-clothes he should wear, went to bed AS HE WAS-even to his hat. Mrs. Starling calls you 'her preserver,' and Mr. Starling distinctly stated that you were a 'jolly-good-fler.'"

"And you?" asked John Lummox.

"In your present condition of abnormal self-consciousness and apperceptive egotism, I really shouldn't like to say."

When the voyage was ended Mr. Lummox went to see Mary Bike at her house, and his father-whom he had not seen for ten years-at HIS house. With a refined absence of natural affection he contented himself with inquiring of the servants as to his father's habits, and if he still wore dress clothes at dinner. The information thus elicited forced him to the conclusion that the old gentleman's circumstances were reduced, and that it was possible that he, John Lummox, might be actually compelled to earn his own living. He communicated that suspicion to his father at dinner, and over the last bottle of "Mouton," a circumstance which also had determined him in his resolution. "You might," said his father thoughtfully, "offer yourself to some rising American novelist as a study for the new hero,-one absolutely without ambition, capacity, or energy; willing, however, to be whatever the novelist chooses to make him, so long as he hasn't to choose for himself. If your inordinate self-consciousness is still in your way, I could give him a few points about you, myself."

"I had thought," said John, hesitatingly, "of going into your office and becoming your partner in the business. You could always look after me, you know."

A shudder passed over the old man. Then he tremblingly muttered to himself:

"Thank heaven! There is one way it may still be averted!" Retiring to his room he calmly committed suicide, thoughtfully leaving the empty poison bottle in the fender.

And this is how John Lummox came to offer himself as a clerk to Dan'l Borem. The ways of Providence are indeed strange, yet those of the novelist are only occasionally novel.

III

John K. Lummox lived for a week at the Turkey Buzzard Hotel exclusively on doughnuts and innuendoes. He was informed by Mr. Borem's clerk-whose place he was to fill-that he wouldn't be able to stand it, and thus received the character of his employer from his last employee.

"I suppose," said Dan'l Borem, chuckling, "that he said I was a old skinflint, good only at a hoss trade, uneddicated, ignorant, and unable to keep accounts, and an oppressor o' the widder and orphan. Allowed that my cute sayin's was a kind o' ten-cent parody o' them proverbs in Poor Richard's Almanack!"

"Omitting a few expletives, he certainly did," returned Lummox with great delicacy.

"He allowed to me," said Dan'l thoughtfully, "that YOU was a poor critter that hadn't a single reason to show for livin': that the fool-killer had bin shadderin' you from your birth, and that you hadn't paid a cent profit on your father's original investment in ye, nor on the assessments he'd paid on ye ever since. He seems to be a cute feller arter all, and I'm rather sorry he's leavin'."

"I am quite willing to abandon my position in his favor, now," said Lummox with alacrity.

"No," said Dan'l, rubbing his chin argumentatively; "the only way for us to do is to circumvent him like in a hoss trade-with suthin' unexpected. When he thinks you're goin' to sleep in the shafts you'll run away; and when he think's I'm vicious I'll let a woman or a child drive me."

IV

"Well, Dan'l, how's that new clerk o' yours gettin' on?" said Mrs. Bigby a week later.

"Purty fine! He's good at accounts and hez got to know the Bank's customers by this time. But I allus reckoned he'd get stuck with some o' them counterfeit notes-and he hez! Ye see he ain't accustomed to look at a five or a ten dollar note as sharp as some men, and he's already taken in two tens and a five counterfeits."

"Gracious!" said Mrs. Bigsby. "What did the poor feller do?"

"Oh, he ups and tells me, all right, after he discovered it. And sez he: 'I've charged my account with 'em,' sez he, 'so the Bank won't lose it.'"

"Why, Dan'l," said Mrs. Bigsby, "ye didn't let that poor feller"-

"You hol' on!" said her brother; "business is business; but I sez to him: 'Ye oughter put it down to Profit and Loss account. Or perhaps we'll have a chance o' gettin' rid o' them,-not in Noo York, where folks is sharp, but here in the country, and then ye kin credit yourself with the amount arter you've got rid o' them.'"

"Laws! I'm sorry ye did that, Dan'l," said Mrs. Bigsby.

"With that he riz up," continued Dan'l, ignoring his sister, "and, takin' them counterfeit notes from my hand, sez he: 'Them notes belong to ME now,' sez he, 'and I'm goin' to destroy 'em.' And with that he walks over to the fire as stiff as a poker, and held them notes in it until they were burnt clean up."

"Well, but that was honest and straightforward in him!" said Mrs. Bigsby.

"Um! but it wasn't business-and ye see"- Dan'l paused and rubbed his chin.

"Well, go on!" said Mrs. Bigsby impatiently.

"Well, ye see, neither him nor me was very smart in detectin' counterfeits, or even knowin' 'em, and"-

"Well! For goodness' sake, Dan'l, speak out!"

"Well-THE DUM FOOL BURNT UP THREE GOOD BILLS, and we neither of us knew it!"

V

The "unexpected" which Dan'l Borem had hinted might characterize his future conduct was first intimated by his treatment of the "Widow Cully," an aged and impoverished woman whose property was heavily mortgaged to him. He had curtly summoned her to come to his office on Christmas Day and settle up. Frightened, hopeless, and in the face of a snowstorm, the old woman attended, but was surprised by receiving a "satisfaction piece" in full from the banker, and a gorgeous Christmas dinner. "All the same," said Mrs. Bigsby to Lummox, "Dan'l might hev done all this without frightenin' the poor old critter into a nervous fever, chillin' her through by makin' her walk two miles through the snow, and keepin' her on the ragged edge o' despair for two mortal hours! But it's his humorous way."

"Did he give any reason for being so lenient to the widow?" asked Lummox.

"He said that her son had given him a core of his apple when they were boys together. Dan'l ez mighty thoughtful o' folks that was kind to him in them days."

"Is that all?" said Lummox, astonished.

"Well-I've kinder thought suthin' else," said Mrs. Bigsby hesitatingly.

"What?"

"That its bein' Christmas Day-and as I've heard tell that's NO DAY IN LAW, but just like Sunday-Dan'l mebbe thought that he might crawl outer that satisfaction piece, ef he ever wanted ter! Dan'l is mighty cute."

VI

Mr. John Lummox was not behind his employer in developing unexpected traits of character. Hitherto holding aloof from his neighbors in Old Folksville, he suddenly went to a social gathering, and distinguished himself as the principal and popular guest of the evening. As Dan'l Borem afterward told his sister: "He was one o' them Combination Minstrels and Variety Shows in one. He sang through a whole opery, made the pianner jest howl, gave some recitations, Casabianker and Betsy and I are Out; imitated all them tragedians; did tricks with cards and fetched rabbits outer hats, besides liftin' the pianner with two men sittin' on it, jest by his teeth. Created snakes!" said Borem, concluding his account, which here is necessarily abbreviated, "ef he learnt all that in his two years in Europe I ain't sayin' anythin' more agin' eddication and furrin' travel after this! Why, the next day there was quite a run on the Bank jest to see HIM. He is makin' the bizness pop'lar."

"Then ye think ye'll get along together?"

"I reckon we'll hitch hosses," said Dan'l, with a smile.

A few weeks later, one evening, Dan'l Borem sat with his sister alone. John Lummox, who was now residing with them, was attending a social engagement. Mrs. Bigsby knew that Dan'l had something to communicate, but knew that he would do so in his own way.

"Speakin' o' hoss trades," he began.

"We WASN'T and we ain't goin' to," said Mrs. Bigsby with great promptness. "I've heard enough of 'em."

"But this here one hez suthin' to do with your fr'en', John Lummox," said Dan'l, with a chuckle.

Mrs. Bigsby stared. "Go on, then," she said, "but, for goodness' sake, cut it short."

Dan'l threw away his quid and replenished it from his silver tobacco box. Mrs. Bigsby shuddered slightly as she recognized the usual preliminary to prolixity, but determined, as far as possible, to make her brother brief.

"It mout be two weeks ago," began Dan'l, "that I see John Lummox over at Palmyra, where he'd bin visitin'. He was drivin' a hoss, the beautifulest critter-for color-I ever saw. It was yaller, with mane and tail a kinder golden, like the hair o' them British Blondes that was here in the Variety Show."

"Dan'l!" exclaimed Mrs. Bigsby, horrified. "And you allowed you never went thar!"

"Saw 'em on the posters-and mebbe the color was a little brighter thar," said Dan'l carelessly-"but who's interruptin' now?"

"Go on," said Mrs. Bigsby.

"'Got a fine hoss thar,' sez I; 'reckon I never see such a purty color,' sez I. 'He is purty,' sez he, 'per'aps too purty for ME to be a-drivin', but he isn't fast.' 'I ain't speakin' o' that,' sez I; 'it's his looks that I'm talkin' of; whar might ye hev got him?' 'He was offered to me by a fr'en' o' me boyhood,' sez he; 'he's a pinto mustang,' sez he, 'from Californy, whar they breed 'em.' 'What's a pinto hoss?' sez I. 'The same ez a calico hoss,' sez he; 'what they have in cirkises, but ye never see 'em that color.' En he was right, for when I looked him over I never DID see such a soft and silky coat, and his mane and tail jest glistened. 'It IS a little too showy for ye,' sez I, 'but I might take him at a fair price. What's your fr'en' askin'?' 'He won't sell him to anybody but me,' sez Lummox; 'he's a horror o' hoss traders, anyway, and his price is more like a gift to a fr'en'.' 'What might that price be, ef it's a fair question?' sez I, for the more I looked at the hoss the more I liked him. 'A hundred and fifty dollars,' sez he; 'but my fr'en' would ask YOU double that.' 'Couldn't YOU and ME make a trade?' sez I; 'I'll exchange ye that roan mare, that's worth two hundred, for this hoss and fifty dollars.' With that he drew himself up, and sez he: 'Mr. Borem,' sez he, 'I share my fr'en's opinion about hoss tradin', and I promised my mother I'd never swap hosses. You ought to know me by this time.'"

"That's so!" said Mrs. Bigsby; "I'm wonderin' ye dared to ax him."

Dan'l passed his hand over his mouth, and continued: "'I dunno but you're right, Lummox,' sez I; 'per'aps it's jest as well as thar wasn't TWO in the Bank in that bizness.' But the more I looked at the hoss the more I hankered arter him. 'Look here,' sez I, 'I tell ye what I'll do! I'll LEND you my hoss and you'll LEND me yourn. I'll draw up a paper to that effect, and provide that in case o' accidents, ef I don't return you your hoss, I'll agree to pay you a hundred and fifty dollars. You'll give me the same kind o' paper about my hoss-with the proviso that you pay me two hundred for him!' 'Excuse me, Mr. Borem,' sez he, 'but that difference of fifty makes a hoss trade accordin' to my mind. It's agin' my principles to make such an agreement.'"

"An' he was right, Dan'l," said Mrs. Bigsby approvingly.

But Dan'l wiped his mouth again, leaving, however, a singular smile on it. "Well, ez I wanted that hoss, I jest thought and thought! I knew I could get two hundred and fifty for him easy, and that Lummox didn't know anythin' of his valoo, and I finally agreed to make the swap even. 'What do you call him?' sez I. 'Pegasus,' sez he,-'the poet's hoss, on account o' his golden mane,' sez he. That made me laff, for I never knew a poet ez could afford to hev a hoss,-much less one like that! But I said: 'I'll borry Pegasus o' you on those terms.' The next day I took the hoss to Jonesville; Lummox was right: he wasn't FAST, but, jest as I expected, he made a sensation! Folks crowded round him whenever I stopped; wimmin followed him and children cried for him. I could hev sold him for three hundred without leavin' town! 'So ye call him Pegasus,' sez Doc Smith, grinnin'; 'I didn't known ye was subject to the divine afflatus, Dan'l.' 'I don' offen hev it,' sez I, 'but when I do I find a little straight gin does me good.' 'So did Byron,' sez he, chucklin'. But even if I had called him 'Beelzebub' the hull town would hev bin jest as crazy over him. Well, as it was comin' on to rain I started jest after sundown for home. But it came ter blow, an' ter pour cats and dogs, an' I was nigh washed out o' the buggy, besides losin' my way and gettin' inter ditches and puddles, and I hed to stop at Staples' Half-Way House and put up for the night. In the mornin' I riz up early and goes into the stable yard, and the first thing I sees was the 'ostler. 'I hope ye giv' my hoss a good scrub down,' I sez, 'as I told ye, for his color is that delicate the smallest spot shows. It's a very rare color for a hoss.' 'I was hopin' it might be,' sez he. I was a little huffed at that, and I sez: 'It's considered a very beautiful color.' 'Mebbe it is,' sez he, 'but I never cared much for fireworks.' 'What yer mean?' sez I. 'Look here, Squire!' sez he; 'I don't mind scourin' and rubbin' down a hoss that will stay the same color TWICE, but when he gets to playin' a kaladeoskope on me, I kick!' 'Trot him out,' sez I, beginnin' to feel queer. With that he fetched out the hoss! For a minit I hed to ketch on to the fence to keep myself from fallin'. I swonny! ef he didn't look like a case of measles on top o' yaller fever-'cept where the harness had touched him, and that was kinder stenciled out all over him. Thar was places whar the 'ostler had washed down to the foundation color, a kind o' chewed licorice! Then I knew that somebody had bin sold terrible, and I reckoned it might be me! But I said nothin' to the 'ostler, and waited until dark, when I drove him over here, and put him in the stables, lettin' no one see him. In the mornin' Lummox comes to me, and sez he: 'I'm glad to see you back,' sez he, 'for my conscience is troublin' me about that hoss agreement; it looks too much like a hoss trade,' sez he, 'and I'm goin' to send the hoss back.' 'Mebbe your conscience,' sez I, 'may trouble you a little more ef you'll step this way;' and with that I takes his arm and leads him round to the stable and brings out the hoss.

"Well, Lummox never changes ez much as a hair, ez he puts up his eyeglasses. 'I'm not good at what's called "Pop'lar Art,"' sez he. 'Is it a chromo, or your own work?' sez he, critical like.

"'It's YOUR HOSS,' sez I.

"He looks at me a minit and then drors a paper from his pocket. 'This paper,' sez he in his quiet way, 'was drored up by you and is a covenant to return to me a yaller hoss with golden mane and tail-or a hundred and fifty dollars. Ez I don't see the hoss anywhere-mebbe you've got the hundred and fifty dollars handy?' sez he. 'Suppose I hadn't the money?' sez I. 'I should be obliged,' sez he in a kind o' pained Christian-martyr way, 'ter sell YOUR hoss for two hundred, and send the money to my fr'en'.' We looked at each other steddy for a minit and then I counts him out a hundred and fifty. He took the money sad-like and then sez: 'Mr. Borem,' sez he, 'this is a great morril lesson to us,' and went back to the office. In the arternoon I called in an old hoss dealer that I knew and shows him Pegasus.

"'He wants renewin',' sez he.

"'Wot's that?' sez I.

"'A few more bottles o' that British Blonde Hair Dye to set him up ag'in. That's wot they allus do in the cirkis, whar he kem from.'

"Then I went back to the office and I took down my sign. 'What's that you re doin'?' sez Lummox, with a sickly kind o' smile. 'Are you goin' out o' the bizness?'

"'No, I'm only goin' to change that sign from "Dan'l Borem" to "Borem and Lummox,"' sez I. 'I've concluded it's cheaper for me to take you inter partnership now than to continue in this way, which would only end in your hevin' to take me in later. I preferred to DO IT FUST.'"

VII

A rich man, and settled in business, John Lummox concluded that he would marry Mary Bike. With that far-sighted logic which had always characterized him he reasoned that, having first met her on a liner, he would find her again on one if he took passage to Europe. He did-but she was down on the passenger list as Mrs. Edwin Wraggles. The result of their interview was given to Mrs. Bigsby by Dan'l Borem in his own dialect.

"Ez far as I kin see, it was like the Deacon's Sunday hoss trade, bein' all 'Ef it wassent.' 'Ef ye wasn't Mrs. Wraggles,' sez Lummox, sez he, 'I'd be tellin' ye how I've loved ye ever sence I first seed ye. Ef ye wasn't Mrs. Wraggles, I'd be squeezin' yer hand,' sez he; 'ef ye wasn't Mrs. Wraggles, I'd be askin' ye to marry me.' Then the gal ups and sez, sez she: 'But I AIN'T Mrs. Wraggles,' sez she; 'Mrs. Wraggles is my sister, and couldn't come, so I'm travelin' on her ticket, and that's how my name is Wraggles on the passenger list.' 'But why didn't ye tell me so at once?' sez Lummox. 'This is an episoode o' protracted humor,' sez she, 'and I'M bound to have a show in it somehow!'"

"Well!" said Mrs. Bigsby breathlessly; "then he DID marry her?"

"Darned ef I know. He never said so straight out-but that's like Lummox."

STORIES THREE

BY R-DY--D K-PL--G

I

FOR SIMLA REASONS

Some people say that improbable things don't necessarily happen in India-but these people never find improbabilities anywhere. This sounds clever, but you will at once perceive that it really means the opposite of what I intended to say. So we'll drop it. What I am trying to tell you is that after Sparkley had that affair with Miss Millikens a singular change came over him. He grew abstracted and solitary,-holding dark seances with himself,-which was odd, as everybody knew he never cared a rap for the Millikens girl. It was even said that he was off his head-which is rhyme. But his reason was undoubtedly affected, for he had been heard to mutter incoherently at the Club, and, strangest of all, to answer questions THAT WERE NEVER ASKED! This was so awkward in that Branch of the Civil Department of which he was a high official-where the rule was exactly the reverse-that he was presently invalided on full pay! Then he disappeared. Clever people said it was because the Department was afraid he had still much to answer for; stupid people simply envied him.

Mrs. Awksby, whom everybody knew had been the cause of breaking off the match, was now wild to know the reason of Sparkley's retirement. She attacked heaven and earth, and even went a step higher-to the Viceroy. At the vice-regal ball I saw, behind the curtains of a window, her rolling violet-blue eyes with a singular glitter in them. It was the reflection of the Viceroy's star, although the rest of his Excellency was hidden in the curtain. I heard him saying, "Come now! really, now, you are-you know you are!" in reply to her cooing questioning. Then she made a dash at me and captured me.

"What did you hear?"

"Nothing I should not have heard."

"Don't be like all the other men-you silly boy!" she answered. "I was only trying to find out something about Sparkley. And I will find it out too," she said, clinching her thin little hand. "And what's more," she added, turning on me suddenly, "YOU shall help me!"

"I?" I said in surprise.

"Don't pretend!" she said poutingly. "You're too clever to believe he's cut up over the Millikens. No-it's something awful or-another woman! Now, if I knew as much of India as you do-and wasn't a woman, and could go where I liked-I'd go to Bungloore and find him."

"Oh! You have his address?" I said.

"Certainly! What did you expect I was behind the curtain with the Viceroy for?" she said, opening her violet eyes innocently. "It's Bungloore-First Turning to the Right-At the End of the passage."

Bungloore-near Ghouli Pass-in the Jungle! I knew the place, a spot of dank pestilence and mystery. "You never could have gone there," I said.

"You do not know WHAT I could do for a FRIEND," she said sweetly, veiling her eyes in demure significance.

"Oh, come off the roof!" I said bluntly.

She could be obedient when it was necessary. She came off. Not without her revenge. "Try to remember you are not at school with the Stalkies," she said, and turned away.

I went to Bungloore,-not on her account, but my own. If you don't know India, you won't know Bungloore. It's all that and more. An egg dropped by a vulture, sat upon and addled by the Department. But I knew the house and walked boldly in. A lion walked out of one door as I came in at another. We did this two or three times-and found it amusing. A large cobra in the hall rose up, bowed as I passed, and respectfully removed his hood.

I found the poor old boy at the end of the passage. It might have been the passage between Calais and Dover,-he looked so green, so limp and dejected. I affected not to notice it, and threw myself in a chair.

He gazed at me for a moment and then said, "Did you hear what the chair was saying?"

It was an ordinary bamboo armchair, and had creaked after the usual fashion of bamboo chairs. I said so.

He cast his eyes to the ceiling. "He calls it 'creaking,'" he murmured. "No matter," he continued aloud, "its remark was not of a complimentary nature. It's very difficult to get really polite furniture."

The man was evidently stark, staring mad. I still affected not to observe it, and asked him if that was why he left Simla.

"There were Simla reasons, certainly," he replied. "But you think I came here for solitude! SOLITUDE!" he repeated, with a laugh. "Why, I hold daily conversations with any blessed thing in this house, from the veranda to the chimney-stack, with any stick of furniture, from the footstool to the towel-horse. I get more out of it than the gabble at the Club. You look surprised. Listen! I took this thing up in my leisure hours in the Department. I had read much about the conversation of animals. I argued that if animals conversed, why shouldn't inanimate things communicate with each other? You cannot prove that animals don't converse-neither can you prove that inanimate objects DO NOT. See?"

I was thunderstruck with the force of his logic.

"Of course," he continued, "there are degrees of intelligence, and that makes it difficult. For instance, a mahogany table would not talk like a rush-bottomed kitchen chair." He stopped suddenly, listened, and replied, "I really couldn't say."

"I didn't speak," I said.

"I know YOU didn't. But your chair asked me 'how long that fool was going to stay.' I replied as you heard. Pray don't move-I intend to change that chair for one more accustomed to polite society. To continue: I perfected myself in the language, and it was awfully jolly at first. Whenever I went by train, I heard not only all the engines said, but what every blessed carriage thought, that joined in the conversation. If you chaps only knew what rot those whistles can get off! And as for the brakes, they can beat any mule driver in cursing. Then, after a time, it got rather monotonous, and I took a short sea trip for my health. But, by Jove, every blessed inch of the whole ship-from the screw to the bowsprit-had something to say, and the bad language used by the garboard strake when the ship rolled was something too awful! You don't happen to know what the garboard strake is, do you?"

"No," I replied.

"No more do I. That's the dreadful thing about it. You've got to listen to chaps that you don't know. Why, coming home on my bicycle the other day there was an awful row between some infernal 'sprocket' and the 'ball bearings' of the machine, and I never knew before there were such things in the whole concern."

I thought I had got at his secret, and said carelessly: "Then I suppose this was the reason why you broke off your engagement with Miss Millikens?"

"Not at all," he said coolly. "Nothing to do with it. That is quite another affair. It's a very queer story; would you like to hear it?"

"By all means." I took out my notebook.

"You remember that night of the Amateur Theatricals, got up by the White Hussars, when the lights suddenly went out all over the house?"

"Yes," I replied, "I heard about it."

"Well, I had gone down there that evening with the determination of proposing to Mary Millikens the first chance that offered. She sat just in front of me, her sister Jane next, and her mother, smart Widow Millikens,-who was a bit larky on her own account, you remember,-the next on the bench. When the lights went out and the panic and tittering began, I saw my chance! I leaned forward, and in a voice that would just reach Mary's ear I said, 'I have long wished to tell you how my life is bound up with you, dear, and I never, never can be happy without you'-when just then there was a mighty big shove down my bench from the fellows beyond me, who were trying to get out. But I held on like grim death, and struggled back again into position, and went on: 'You'll forgive my taking a chance like this, but I felt I could no longer conceal my love for you,' when I'm blest if there wasn't another shove, and though I'd got hold of her little hand and had a kind of squeeze in return, I was drifted away again and had to fight my way back. But I managed to finish, and said, 'If the devotion of a lifetime will atone for this hurried avowal of my love for you, let me hope for a response,' and just then the infernal lights were turned on, and there I was holding the widow's hand and she nestling on my shoulder, and the two girls in hysterics on the other side. You see, I never knew that they were shoved down on their bench every time, just as I was, and of course when I got back to where I was I'd just skipped one of them each time! Yes, sir! I had made that proposal in THREE sections-a part to each girl, winding

up with the mother! No explanation was possible, and I left Simla next day. Naturally, it wasn't a thing they could talk about, either!"

"Then you think Mrs. Awksby had nothing to do with it?" I said.

"Nothing-absolutely nothing. By the way, if you see that lady, you might tell her that I have possession of that brocade easy-chair which used to stand in the corner of her boudoir. You remember it,-faded white and yellow, with one of the casters off and a little frayed at the back, but rather soft-spoken and amiable? But of course you don't understand THAT. I bought it after she moved into her new bungalow."

"But why should I tell her that?" I asked in wonder.

"Nothing-except that I find it very amusing with its reminiscences of the company she used to entertain, and her confidences generally. Good-by-take care of the lion in the hall. He always couches on the left for a spring. Ta-ta!"

I hurried away. When I returned to Simla I told Mrs. Awksby of my discoveries, and spoke of the armchair.

I fancied she colored slightly, but quickly recovered.

"Dear old Sparkley," she said sweetly; "he WAS a champion liar!"

II.

A PRIVATE'S HONOR

I had not seen Mulledwiney for several days. Knowing the man-this looked bad. So I dropped in on the Colonel. I found him in deep thought. This looked bad, too, for old Cockey Wax-as he was known to everybody in the Hill districts but himself-wasn't given to thinking. I guessed the cause and told him so.

"Yes," he said wearily, "you are right! It's the old story. Mulledwiney, Bleareyed, and Otherwise are at it again,-drink followed by Clink. Even now two corporals and a private are sitting on Mulledwiney's head to keep him quiet, and Bleareyed is chained to an elephant."

"Perhaps," I suggested, "you are unnecessarily severe."

"Do you really think so? Thank you so much! I am always glad to have a civilian's opinion on military matters-and vice versa-it broadens one so! And yet-am I severe? I am willing, for instance, to overlook their raid upon a native village, and the ransom they demanded for a native inspector! I have overlooked their taking the horses out of my carriage for their own use. I am content also to believe that my fowls meekly succumb to jungle fever and cholera. But there are some things I cannot ignore. The carrying off of the great god Vishnu from the Sacred Shrine at Ducidbad by The Three for the sake of the priceless opals in its eyes"-

"But I never heard of THAT," I interrupted eagerly. "Tell me."

"Ah!" said the Colonel playfully, "that-as you so often and so amusingly say-is 'Another Story'! Yet I would have overlooked the theft of the opals if they had not substituted two of the Queen's regimental buttons for the eyes of the god. This, while it did not deceive the ignorant priests, had a deep political and racial significance. You are aware, of course, that the great mutiny was occasioned by the issue of cartridges to the native troops greased with hog's fat-forbidden by their religion."

"But these three men could themselves alone quell a mutiny," I replied.

The Colonel grasped my hand warmly. "Thank you. So they could. I never thought of that." He looked relieved. For all that, he presently passed his hand over his forehead and nervously chewed his cheroot.

"There is something else," I said.

"You are right. There is. It is a secret. Promise me it shall go no further-than the Press? Nay, swear that you will KEEP it for the Press!"

"I promise."

"Thank you SO much. It is a matter of my own and Mulledwiney's. The fact is, we have had a PERSONAL difficulty." He paused, glanced around him, and continued in a low, agitated voice: "Yesterday I came upon him as he was sitting leaning against the barrack wall. In a spirit of playfulness-mere playfulness, I assure you, sir-I poked him lightly in the shoulder with my stick, saying 'Boo!' He turned-and I shall never forget the look he gave me."

"Good heavens!" I gasped, "you touched-absolutely TOUCHED-Mulledwiney?"

"Yes," he said hurriedly, "I knew what you would say; it was against the Queen's Regulations-and-there was his sensitive nature which shrinks from even a harsh word; but I did it, and of course he has me in his power."

"And you have touched him?" I repeated,-"touched his private honor!"

"Yes! But I shall atone for it! I have already arranged with him that we shall have it out between ourselves alone, in the jungle, stripped to the buff, with our fists-Queensberry rules! I haven't fought since I stood up against Spinks Major-you remember old Spinks, now of the Bombay Offensibles?-at Eton." And the old boy pluckily bared his skinny arm.

"It may be serious," I said.

"I have thought of that. I have a wife, several children, and an aged parent in England. If I fall, they must never know. You must invent a story for them. I have thought of cholera, but that is played out; you know we have already tried it on The Boy who was Thrown Away. Invent something quiet, peaceable and respectable-as far removed from fighting as possible. What do you say to measles?"

"Not half bad," I returned.

"Measles let it be, then! Say I caught it from Wee Willie Winkie. You do not think it too incredible?" he added timidly.

"Not more than YOUR story," I said.

He grasped my hand, struggling violently with his emotion. Then he struggled with me-and I left hurriedly. Poor old boy! The funeral was well attended, however, and no one knew the truth, not even myself.

III

JUNGLE FOLK

It was high noon of a warm summer's day when Moo Kow came down to the watering-place. Miaow, otherwise known as "Puskat"-the warmth-loving one-was crouching on a limb that overhung the pool, sunning herself. Brer Rabbit-but that is Another Story by Another Person.

Three or four Gee Gees, already at the pool, moved away on the approach of Moo Kow.

"Why do ye stand aside?" said the Moo Kow.

"Why do you say 'ye'?" said the Gee Gees together.

"Because it's more impressive than 'you.' Don't you know that all animals talk that way in English?" said the Moo Kow.

"And they also say 'thou,' and don't you forget it!" interrupted Miaow from the tree. "I learnt that from a Man Cub."

The animals were silent. They did not like Miaow's slang, and were jealous of her occasionally sitting on a Man Cub's lap. Once Dunkee, a poor relation of the Gee Gees, had tried it on, disastrously-but that is also Another and a more Aged Story.

"We are ridden by The English-please to observe the Capital letters," said Pi Bol, the leader of the Gee Gees, proudly. "They are a mighty race who ride anything and everybody. D'ye mind that-I mean, look ye well to it!"

"What should they know of England who only England know?" said Miaow.

"Is that a conundrum?" asked the Moo Kow.

"No; it's poetry," said the Miaow.

"I know England," said Pi Bol prancingly. "I used to go from the Bank to Islington three times a day-I mean," he added hurriedly, "before I became a screw-I should say, a screw-gun horse."

"And I," said the Moo Kow, "am terrible. When the young women and children in the village see me approach they fly shriekingly. My presence alone has scattered their sacred festival-The Sundes Kool Piknik. I strike terror to their inmost souls, and am more feared by them than even Kreep-mows, the insidious! And yet, behold! I have taken the place of the mothers of men, and I have nourished the mighty ones of the earth! But that," said the Moo Kow, turning her head aside bashfully, "that is Anudder Story."

A dead silence fell on the pool.

"And I," said Miaow, lifting up her voice, "I am the horror and haunter of the night season. When I pass like the night wind over the roofs of the houses men shudder in their beds and tremble. When they hear my voice as I creep stealthily along their balconies they cry to their gods for succor. They arise, and from their windows they offer me their priceless household treasures-the sacred vessels dedicated to their great god Shiv-which they call 'Shivin Mugs'-the Kloes Brosh, the Boo-jak, urging me to fly them! And yet," said Miaow mournfully, "it is but my love-song! Think ye what they would do if I were on the war-path."

Another dead silence fell on the pool. Then arose that strange, mysterious, indefinable Thing, known as "The Scent." The animals sniffed.

"It heralds the approach of the Stalkies-the most famous of British Skool Boaz," said the Moo Kow. "They have just placed a decaying guinea-pig, two white mice in an advanced state of decomposition, and a single slice of Limburger cheese in the bed of their tutor. They had previously skillfully diverted the drains so that they emptied into the drawing-room of the head-master. They have just burned down his house in an access of noble zeal, and are fighting among themselves for the spoil. Hark! do ye hear them?"

A wild medley of shrieks and howls had arisen, and an irregular mob of strange creatures swept out of the distance toward the pool. Some were like pygmies, some had bloody noses. Their talk consisted of feverish, breathless ejaculations,-a gibberish in which the words "rot," "oach," and "giddy" were preeminent. Some were exciting themselves by chewing a kind of "bhang" made from the plant called pappahmint; others had their faces streaked with djam.

"But who is this they are ducking in the pool?" asked Pi Bol.

"It is one who has foolishly and wantonly conceived that his parents have sent him here to study," said the Moo Kow; "but that is against the rules of the Stalkies, who accept study only as a punishment."

"Then these be surely the 'Bander Log'-the monkey folk-of whom the good Rhuddyidd has told us," said a Gee Gee-"the ones who have no purpose-and forget everything."

"Fool!" said the Moo Kow. "Know ye not that the great Rhuddyidd has said that the Stalkies become Major-Generals, V. C.'s, and C. B's of the English? Truly, they are great. Look now; ye shall see one of the greatest traits of the English Stalky."

One of the pygmy Stalkies was offering a bun to a larger one, who hesitated, but took it coldly.

"Behold! it is one of the greatest traits of this mighty race not to show any emotion. He WOULD take the bun-he HAS taken it! He is pleased-but he may not show it. Observe him eat."

The taller Stalky, after eating the bun, quietly kicked the giver, knocked off his hat, and turned away with a calm, immovable face.

"Good!" said the Moo Kow. "Ye would not dream that he was absolutely choking with grateful emotion?"

"We would not," said the animals.

"But why are they all running back the way they came?" asked Pi Bol.

"They are going back to punishment. Great is its power. Have ye not heard the gospel of Rhuddyidd the mighty? 'Force is everything! Gentleness won't wash, courtesy is deceitful. Politeness is foreign. Be ye beaten that ye may beat. Pass the kick on.'"

But here he was interrupted by the appearance of three soldiers who were approaching the watering-place.

"Ye are now," said the Moo Kow, "with the main guard. The first is Bleareyed, who carries a raven in a cage, which he has stolen from the wife of a deputy commissioner. He will paint the bird snow white and sell it as a dove to the same lady. The second is Otherwise, who is dragging a small garden engine, of which he has despoiled a native gardener, whom he has felled with a single blow. The third is Mulledwiney, swinging a cut-glass decanter of sherry which he has just snatched from the table of his colonel. Mulledwiney and Otherwise will play the engine upon Bleareyed, who is suffering from heat apoplexy and djim-djams."

The three soldiers seated themselves in the pool.

"They are going to tell awful war stories now," said the Moo Kow, "stories that are large and strong! Some people are shocked-others like 'em."

Then he that was called Mulledwiney told a story. In the middle of it Miaow got up from the limb of the tree, coughed slightly, and put her paw delicately over her mouth. "You must excuse me," she said faintly. "I am taken this way sometimes-and I have left my salts at home. Thanks! I can get down myself!" The next moment she had disappeared, but was heard coughing in the distance.

Mulledwiney winked at his companions and continued his story:-

"Wid that we wor in the thick av the foight. Whin I say 'thick' I mane it, sorr! We wor that jammed together, divil a bit cud we shoot or cut! At fur-rest, I had lashed two mushkits together wid the baynits out so, like a hay fork, and getting the haymaker's lift on thim, I just lifted two Paythians out-one an aych baynit-and passed 'em, aisy-like, over me head to the rear rank for them to finish. But what wid the blud gettin' into me ois, I was blinded, and the pressure kept incraysin' until me arrums was thrussed like a fowl to me sides, and sorra a bit cud I move but me jaws!"

"And bloomin' well you knew how to use them," said Otherwise.

"Thrue for you-though ye don't mane it!" said Mulledwiney, playfully tapping Otherwise on the head with a decanter till the cut glass slowly shivered. "So, begorra! there wor nothing left for me to do but to ATE thim! Wirra! but it was the crooel worruk."

"Excuse me, my lord," interrupted the gasping voice of Pi Bol as he began to back from the pool, "I am but a horse, I know, and being built in that way-naturally have the stomach of one-yet, really, my lord, this-er"- And his voice was gone.

The next moment he had disappeared. Mulledwiney looked around with affected concern.

"Save us! But we've cleaned out the Jungle! Sure, there's not a baste left but ourselves!"

It was true. The watering-place was empty. Moo Kow, Miaow, and the Gee Gees had disappeared. Presently there was a booming crash and a long, deep rumbling among the distant hills. Then they knew they were near the old Moulmein Pagoda, and the dawn had come up like thunder out of China 'cross the bay. It always came up that way there. The strain was too great, and day was actually breaking.

"ZUT-SKI"

THE PROBLEM OF A WICKED FEME SOLE

BY M-R-E C-R-LLI

I

The great pyramid towered up from the desert with its apex toward the moon which hung in the sky. For centuries it had stood thus, disdaining the aid of gods or man, being, as the Sphinx herself observed, able to stand up for itself. And this was no small praise from that sublime yet mysterious female who had seen the ages come and go, empires rise and fall, novelist succeed novelist, and who, for eons and cycles the cynosure and centre of admiration and men's idolatrous worship, had yet-wonderful for a woman-through it all kept her head, which now alone remained to survey calmly the present. Indeed, at that moment that magnificent and peaceful face seemed to have lost-with a few unimportant features-its usual expression of speculative wisdom and intense disdain; its mouth smiled, its left eyelid seemed to droop. As the opal tints of dawn deepened upon it, the eyelid seemed to droop lower, closed, and quickly recovered itself twice. You would have thought the Sphinx had winked.

Then arose a voice like a wind on the desert,-but really from the direction of the Nile, where a hired dahabiyeh lay moored to the bank,-"'Arry Axes! 'Arry Axes!" With it came also a flapping, trailing vision from the water-the sacred Ibis itself-and with wings aslant drifted mournfully away to its own creaking echo: "K'raksis! K'raksis!" Again arose the weird voice: "'Arry Axes! Wotcher doin' of?" And again the Ibis croaked its wild refrain: "K'raksis! K'raksis!" Moonlight and the hour wove their own mystery (for which the author is not responsible), and the voice was heard no more. But when the full day sprang in glory over the desert, it illuminated the few remaining but sufficiently large features of the Sphinx with a burning saffron radiance! The Sphinx had indeed blushed!

II

It was the full season at Cairo. The wealth and fashion of Bayswater, South Kensington, and even the bosky Wood of the Evangelist had sent their latest luxury and style to flout the tombs of the past with the ghastly flippancy of to-day. The cheap tripper was there-the latest example of the Darwinian theory-apelike, flea and curio hunting! Shamelessly inquisitive and always hungry, what did he know of the Sphinx or the pyramids or the voice-and, for the matter of that, what did they know of him? And yet he was not half bad in comparison with the "swagger people,"-these people who pretend to have lungs and what not, and instead of galloping on merry hunters through the frost and snow of Piccadilly and Park, instead of enjoying the roaring fires of piled logs in the evening, at the first approach of winter steal away to the Land of the Sun, and decline to die, like honest Britons, on British soil. And then they know nothing of the Egyptians and are horrified at "bakshish," which they really ought to pay for the privilege of shocking the straight-limbed, naked-footed Arab in his single rough garment with their baggy elephant-legged trousers! And they know nothing of the mystic land of the old gods, filled with profound enigmas of the supernatural, dark secrets yet unexplored except in this book. Well might the great Memnon murmur after this lapse of these thousand years, "They're making me tired!"

Such was the blissful, self-satisfied ignorance of Sir Midas Pyle, or as Lord Fitz-Fulke, with his delightful imitation of the East London accent, called him, Sir "Myde His Pyle," as he leaned back on his divan in the Grand Cairo Hotel. He was the vulgar editor and proprietor of a vulgar London newspaper, and had brought his wife with him, who was vainly trying to marry off his faded daughters. There was to be a fancy-dress ball at the hotel that night, and Lady Pyle hoped that her girls, if properly disguised, might have a better chance. Here, too, was Lady Fitz-Fulke, whose mother was immortalized by Byron-sixty if a day, yet still dressing youthfully-who had sought the land of the Sphinx in the faint hope that in the contiguity of that lady she might pass for being young. Alaster McFeckless, a splendid young Scotchman,-already dressed as a Florentine sailor of the fifteenth century, which enabled him to show his magnificent calves quite as well as in his native highland dress, and who had added with characteristic noble pride a sporran to his costume, was lolling on another divan.

"Oh, those exquisite, those magnificent eyes of hers! Eh, sirs!" he murmured suddenly, as waking from a dream.

"Oh, damn her eyes!" said Lord Fitz-Fulke languidly. "Tell you what, old man, you're just gone on that girl!"

"Ha!" roared McFeckless, springing to his feet, "ye will be using such language of the bonniest"-

"You will excuse me, gentlemen," said Sir Midas,-who hated scenes unless he had a trusted reporter with him,-"but I think it is time for me to go upstairs and put on my Windsor uniform, which I find exceedingly convenient for these mixed assemblies." He withdrew, caressing his protuberant paunch with some dignity, as the two men glanced fiercely at each other.

In another moment they might have sprung at each other's throats. But luckily at this instant a curtain was pushed aside as if by some waiting listener, and a thin man entered, dressed in cap and gown,-which would have been simply academic but for his carrying in one hand behind him a bundle of birch twigs. It was Dr. Haustus Pilgrim, a noted London practitioner and specialist, dressed as "Ye Olde-fashioned Pedagogue." He was presumably spending his holiday on the Nile in a large dahabiyeh with a number of friends, among whom he counted the two momentary antagonists he had just interrupted; but those who knew the doctor's far-reaching knowledge and cryptic researches believed he had his own scientific motives.

The two men turned quickly as he entered; the angry light faded from their eyes, and an awed and respectful submission to the intruder took its place. He walked quietly toward them, put a lozenge in the mouth of one and felt the pulse of the other, gazing critically at both.

"We will be all right in a moment," he said with professional confidence.

"I say!" said Fitz-Fulke, gazing at the doctor's costume, "you look dooced smart in those togs, don'tcherknow."

"They suit me," said the doctor, with a playful swish of his birch twigs, at which the two grave men shuddered. "But you were speaking of somebody's beautiful eyes."

"The Princess Zut-Ski's," returned McFeckless eagerly; "and this daft callant said"-

"He didn't like them," put in Fitz-Fulke promptly.

"Ha!" said the doctor sharply, "and why not, sir?" As Fitz-Fulke hesitated, he added brusquely: "There! Run away and play! I've business with this young man," pointing to McFeckless.

As Fitz-Fulke escaped gladly from the room, the doctor turned to McFeckless. "It won't do, my boy. The Princess is not for you-you'll only break your heart and ruin your family over her! That's my advice. Chuck her!"

"But I cannot," said McFeckless humbly. "Think of her weirdly beautiful eyes."

"I see," said the doctor meditatively; "sort of makes you feel creepy? Kind of all-overishness, eh? That's like her. But whom have we here?"

He was staring at a striking figure that had just entered, closely followed by a crowd of admiring spectators. And, indeed, he seemed worthy of the homage. His magnificent form was closely attired in a velveteen jacket and trousers, with a singular display of pearl buttons along the seams, that were absolutely lavish in their quantity; a hat adorned with feathers and roses completed his singularly picturesque equipment.

"Chevalier!" burst out McFeckless in breathless greeting.

"Ah, mon ami! What good chance?" returned the newcomer, rushing to him and kissing him on both cheeks, to the British horror of Sir Midas, who had followed. "Ah, but you are perfect!" he added, kissing his fingers in admiration of McFeckless's Florentine dress.

"But you?-what is this ravishing costume?" asked McFeckless, with a pang of jealousy. "You are god-like."

"It is the dress of what you call the Koster, a transplanted Phenician tribe," answered the other. "They who knocked 'em in the road of Old Kent-know you not the legend?" As he spoke, he lifted his superb form to a warrior's height and gesture.

"But is this quite correct?" asked Fitz-Fulke of the doctor.

"Perfectly," said the doctor oracularly. "The renowned ''Arry Axes'-I beg his pardon," he interrupted himself hastily, "I mean the Chevalier-is perfect in his archaeology and ethnology. The Koster is originally a Gypsy, which is but a corruption of the word 'Egyptian,' and, if I mistake not, that gentleman is a lineal descendant."

"But he is called 'Chevalier,' and he speaks like a Frenchman," said Fluffy.

"And, being a Frenchman, of course knows nothing outside of Paris," said Sir Midas.

"We are in the Land of Mystery," said the doctor gravely in a low voice. "You have heard of the Egyptian Hall and the Temple of Mystery?"

A shudder passed through many that were there; but the majority were following with wild adulation the superb Koster, who, with elbows slightly outward and hands turned inward, was passing toward the ballroom. McFeckless accompanied him with conflicting emotions. Would he see the incomparable Princess, who was lovelier and even still more a mystery than the Chevalier? Would she-terrible thought!-succumb to his perfections?

III

The Princess was already there, surrounded by a crowd of admirers, equal if not superior to those who were following the superb Chevalier. Indeed, they met almost as rivals! Their eyes sought each other in splendid competition. The Chevalier turned away, dazzled and incoherent. "She is adorable, magnificent!" he gasped to McFeckless. "I love her on the instant! Behold, I am transported, ravished! Present me."

Indeed, as she stood there in a strange gauzy garment of exquisite colors, apparently shapeless, yet now and then revealing her perfect figure like a bather seen through undulating billows, she was lovely. Two wands were held in her taper fingers, whose mystery only added to the general curiosity, but whose weird and cabalistic uses were to be seen later. Her magnificent face-strange in its beauty-was stranger still, since, with perfect archaeological Egyptian correctness, she presented it only in profile, at whatever angle the spectator stood. But such a profile! The words of the great Poet-King rose to McFeckless's lips: "Her nose is as a tower that looketh toward Damascus."

He hesitated a moment, torn with love and jealousy, and then presented his friend. "You will fall in love with her-and then-you will fall also by my hand," he hissed in his rival's ear, and fled tumultuously.

"Voulez-vous danser, mademoiselle?" whispered the Chevalier in the perfect accent of the boulevardier.

"Merci, beaucoup," she replied in the diplomatic courtesies of the Ambassadeurs.

They danced together, not once, but many times, to the admiration, the wonder and envy of all; to the scandalized reprobation of a proper few. Who was she? Who was he? It was easy to answer the last question: the world rang with the reputation of "Chevalier the Artist." But she was still a mystery.

Perhaps they were not so to each other! He was gazing deliriously into her eyes. She was looking at him in disdainful curiosity. "I've seen you before somewhere, haven't I?" she said at last, with a crushing significance.

He shuddered, he knew not why, and passed his hand over his high forehead. "Yes, I go there very often," he replied vacantly. "But you, mademoiselle-you-I have met before?"

"Oh, ages, ages ago!" There was something weird in her emphasis.

"Ha!" said a voice near them, "I thought so!" It was the doctor, peering at them curiously. "And you both feel rather dazed and creepy?" He suddenly felt their pulses, lingering, however, as the Chevalier fancied, somewhat longer than necessary over the lady's wrist and beautiful arm. He then put a small round box in the Chevalier's hand, saying, "One before each meal," and turning to the lady with caressing professional accents said, "We must wrap ourselves closely and endeavor to induce perspiration," and hurried away, dragging the Chevalier with him. When they reached a secluded corner, he said, "You had just now a kind of feeling, don't you know, as if you'd sort of been there before, didn't you?"

"Yes, what you call a-preexistence," said the Chevalier wonderingly.

"Yes; I have often observed that those who doubt a future state of existence have no hesitation in accepting a previous one," said the doctor dryly. "But come, I see from the way the crowd are hurrying that your divinity's number is up-I mean," he corrected himself hastily, "that she is probably dancing again."

"Aha! with him, the imbecile McFeckless?" gasped the Chevalier.

"No, alone."

She was indeed alone, in the centre of the ballroom-with outstretched arms revolving in an occult, weird, dreamy, mystic, druidical, cabalistic circle. They now for the first time perceived the meaning of those strange wands which appeared to be attached to the many folds of her diaphanous skirts and involved her in a fleecy, whirling cloud. Yet in the wild convolutions of her garments and the mad gyrations of her figure, her face was upturned with the seraphic intensity of a devotee, and her lips parted as with the impassioned appeal for "Light! more light!" And the appeal was answered. A flood of blue, crimson, yellow, and green radiance was alternately poured upon her from the black box of a mysterious Nubian slave in the gallery. The effect was marvelous; at one moment she appeared as a martyr in a sheet of flame, at another as an angel wrapped in white and muffled purity, and again as a nymph of the cerulean sea, and then suddenly a cloud of darkness seemed to descend upon her, through which for an instant her figure, as immaculate and perfect as a marble statue, showed distinctly-then the light went out and she vanished!

The whole assembly burst into a rapturous cry. Even the common Arab attendants who were peeping in at the doors raised their melodious native cry, "Alloe, Fullah! Aloe, Fullah!" again and again.

A shocked silence followed. Then the voice of Sir Midas Pyle was heard addressing Dr. Haustus Pilgrim:

"May we not presume, sir, that what we have just seen is not unlike that remarkable exhibition when I was pained to meet you one evening at the Alhambra?"

The doctor coughed slightly. "The Alhambra-ah, yes!-you-er-refer, I presume, to Granada and the Land of the Moor, where we last met. The music and dance are both distinctly Moorish-which, after all, is akin to the Egyptian. I am gratified indeed that your memory should be so retentive and your archaeological comparison so accurate. But see! the ladies are retiring. Let us follow."

IV

The intoxication produced by the performance of the Princess naturally had its reaction. The British moral soul, startled out of its hypocrisy the night before, demanded the bitter beer of self-consciousness and remorse the next morning. The ladies were now openly shocked at what they had secretly envied. Lady Pyle was, however, propitiated by the doctor's assurance that the Princess was a friend of Lady Fitz-Fulke, who had promised to lend her youthful age and aristocratic prestige to the return ball which the Princess had determined to give at her own home. "Still, I think the Princess open to criticism," said Sir Midas oracularly.

"Damn all criticism and critics!" burst out McFeckless, with the noble frankness of a passionate and yet unfettered soul. Sir Midas, who employed critics in his business, as he did other base and ignoble slaves, drew up himself and his paunch and walked away.

The Chevalier cast a superb look at McFeckless. "Voila! Regard me well! I shall seek out this Princess when she is with herself! Alone, comprenez? I shall seek her at her hotel in the Egyptian Hall! Ha! ha! I shall seek Zut-Ski! Zut!" And he made that rapid yet graceful motion of his palm against his thigh known only to the true Parisian.

"It's a rum hole where she lives, and nobody gets a sight of her," said Flossy. "It's like a beastly family vault, don't you know, outside, and there's a kind of nigger doorkeeper that vises you and chucks you out if you haven't the straight tip. I'll show you the way, if you like."

"Allons, en avant!" said the Chevalier gayly. "I precipitate myself there on the instant."

"Remember!" hissed McFeckless, grasping his arm, "you shall account to me!"

"Bien!" said the Chevalier, shaking him off lightly. "All a-r-r-right." Then, in that incomparable baritone, which had so often enthralled thousands, he moved away, trolling the first verse of the Princess's own faint, sweet, sad song of the "Lotus Lily," that thrilled McFeckless even through the Chevalier's marked French accent:-

"Oh, a hard zing to get is ze Lotus Lillee!

She lif in ze swamp-in ze watair chillee;

She make your foot wet-and you look so sillee,

But you buy her for sixpence in Piccadillee!"

In half an hour the two men reached the remote suburb where the Princess lived, a gloomy, windowless building. Pausing under a low archway over which in Egyptian characters appeared the faded legend, "Sta Ged Oor," they found a Nubian slave blocking the dim entrance.

"I leave you here," said Flossy hurriedly, "as even I left once before-only then I was lightly assisted by his sandaled foot," he added, rubbing himself thoughtfully. "But better luck to you."

As his companion retreated swiftly, the Chevalier turned to the slave and would have passed in, but the man stopped him. "Got a pass, boss?"

"No," said the Chevalier.

The man looked at him keenly. "Oh, I see! one of de profesh."

The Chevalier nodded haughtily. The man preceded him by devious, narrow ways and dark staircases, coming abruptly upon a small apartment where the Princess sat on a low divan. A single lamp inclosed in an ominous wire cage flared above her. Strange things lay about the floor and shelves, and from another door he could see hideous masks, frightful heads, and disproportionate faces. He shuddered slightly, but recovered himself and fell on his knees before her. "I lofe you," he said madly. "I have always lofed you!"

"For how long?" she asked, with a strange smile.

He covertly consulted his shirt cuff. "For tree tousand fife hundred and sixty-two years," he said rapidly.

She looked at him disdainfully. "The doctor has been putting you up to that! It won't wash! I don't refer to your shirt cuff," she added with deep satire.

"Adorable one!" he broke out passionately, attempting to embrace her, "I have come to take you." Without moving, she touched a knob in the wall. A trap-door beyond him sank, and out of the bowels of the earth leaped three indescribable demons. Then, rising, she took a cake of chalk from the table and, drawing a mystic half circle on the floor, returned to the divan, lit a cigarette, and leaning comfortably back, said in a low, monotonous voice, "Advance one foot within that magic line, and on that head, although it wore a crown, I launch the curse of Rome."

"I-only wanted to take you-with a kodak," he said, with a light laugh to conceal his confusion, as he produced the instrument from his coat-tail pocket.

"Not with that cheap box," she said, rising with magnificent disdain. "Come again with a decent instrument-and perhaps"- Then, lightly humming in a pure contralto, "I've been photographed like this-I've been photographed like that," she summoned the slave to conduct him back, and vanished through a canvas screen, which nevertheless seemed to the dazed Chevalier to be the stony front of the pyramids.

V

"And you saw her?" said the doctor in French.

"Yes; but the three-thousand-year gag did not work! She spotted you, cher ami, on the instant. And she wouldn't let me take her with my kodak."

The doctor looked grave. "I see," he mused thoughtfully. "You must have my camera, a larger one and more bulky perhaps to carry; but she will not object to that,-she who has stood for full lengths. I will give you some private instructions."

"But, cher doctor, this previous-existence idea-at what do you arrive?"

"There is much to say for it," said the doctor oracularly. "It has survived in the belief of all ages. Who can tell? That some men in a previous existence may have been goats or apes," continued the doctor, looking at him curiously, "does not seem improbable! From the time of Pythagoras we have known that; but that the individual as an individual ego has been remanded or projected, has harked back or anticipated himself, is, we may say, with our powers of apperception,-that is, the perception that we are perceiving,-is"-

But the Chevalier had fled. "No matter," said the doctor, "I will see McFeckless." He did. He found him gloomy, distraught, baleful. He felt his pulse. "The mixture as before," he said briefly, "and a little innocent diversion. There is an Aunt Sally on the esplanade-two throws for a penny. It will do you good. Think no more of this woman! Listen,-I wish you well; your family have always been good patients of mine. Marry some good Scotch girl; I know one with fifty thousand pounds. Let the Princess go!"

"To him-never! I will marry her! Yet," he murmured softly to himself, "feefty thousand pun' is nae small sum. Aye! Not that I care for siller-but feefty thousand pun'! Eh, sirs!"

VI

Dr. Haustus knew that the Chevalier had again visited the Princess, although he had kept the visit a secret,-and indeed was himself invisible for a day or two afterwards. At last the doctor's curiosity induced him to visit the Chevalier's apartment. Entering, he was surprised-even in that Land of Mystery-to find the room profoundly dark, smelling of Eastern drugs, and the Chevalier sitting before a large plate of glass which he was examining by the aid of a lurid ruby lamp,-the only light in the weird gloom. His face was pale and distraught, his locks were disheveled.

"Voila!" he said. "Mon Dieu! It is my third attempt. Always the same-hideous, monstrous, unearthly! It is she, and yet it is not she!"

The doctor, professional man as he was and inured to such spectacles, was startled! The plate before him showed the Princess's face in all its beautiful contour, but only dimly veiling a ghastly death's-head below. There was the whole bony structure of the head and the eyeless sockets; even the graceful, swan-like neck showed the articulated vertebral column that supported it in all its hideous reality. The beautiful shoulders were there, dimly as in a dream-but beneath was the empty clavicle, the knotty joint, the hollow sternum, and the ribs of a skeleton half length!

The doctor's voice broke the silence. "My friend," he said dryly, "you see only the truth! You see what she really is, this peerless Princess of yours. You see her as she is to-day, and you see her kinship to the bones that have lain for centuries in yonder pyramid. Yet they were once as fair as this, and this was as fair as they-in effect the same! You that have madly, impiously adored her superficial beauty, the mere dust of tomorrow, let this be a warning to you! You that have no soul to speak of, let that suffice you! Take her and be happy. Adieu!"

Yet, as he passed out of the fitting tomblike gloom of the apartment and descended the stairs, he murmured to himself: "Odd that I should have lent him my camera with the Rontgen-ray attachment still on. No matter! It is not the first time that the Princess has appeared in two parts the same evening."

VII

In spite of envy, jealousy, and malice, a certain curiosity greater than all these drew everybody to the Princess Zut-Ski's ball. Lady Fitz-Fulke was there in virgin white, looking more youthful than ever, in spite of her sixty-five years and the card labeled "Fresh Paint" which somebody had playfully placed upon her enameled shoulder. The McFecklesses, the Pyles, Flossy, the doctor, and the Chevalier-looking still anxious-were in attendance.

The mysterious Nubian doorkeeper admitted the guests through the same narrow passages, much to the disgust of Lady Pyle and the discomfiture of her paunchy husband; but on reaching a large circular interior hall, a greater surprise was in store for them. It was found that the only entrance to the body of the hall was along a narrow ledge against the bare wall some distance from the floor, which obliged the guests to walk slowly, in single file, along this precarious strip, giving them the attitudes of an Egyptian frieze, which was suggested in the original plaster above them. It is needless to say that, while the effect was ingenious and striking from the centre of the room, where the Princess stood with a few personal friends, it was exceedingly uncomfortable to the figures themselves, in their enforced march along the ledge,-especially a figure of Sir Midas Pyle's proportions. Suddenly an exclamation broke from the doctor.

"Do you see," he said to the Princess, pointing to the figure of the Chevalier, who was filing along with his sinewy hands slightly turned inward, "how surprisingly like he is to the first attendant on the King in the real frieze above? And that," added the doctor, "was none other than 'Arry Axes, the Egyptian you are always thinking of." And he peered curiously at her.

"Goodness me!" murmured the Princess, in an Arabic much more soft and fluent than the original gum. "So he does-look like him."

"And do you know you look like him, too? Would you mind taking a walk around together?"

They did, amid the acclamations of the crowd. The likeness was perfect. The Princess, however, was quite white as she eagerly rejoined the doctor.

"And this means-?" she hissed in a low whisper.

"That he is the real 'Arry Axes! Hush, not a word now! We join the dahabiyeh to-night. At daybreak you will meet him at the fourth angle of the pyramid, first turning from the Nile!"

VIII

The crescent moon hung again over the apex of the Great Pyramid, like a silver cutting from the rosy nail of a houri. The Sphinx-mighty guesser of riddles, reader of rebuses and universal solver of missing words-looked over the unfathomable desert and these few pages, with the worried, hopeless expression of one who is obliged at last to give it up. And then the wailing voice of a woman, toiling up the steep steps of the pyramid, was heard above the creaking of the Ibis: "'Arry Axes! Where are you? Wait for me."

"J'y suis," said a voice from the very summit of the stupendous granite bulk, "yet I cannot reach it."

And in that faint light the figure of a man was seen, lifting his arms wildly toward the moon.

"'Arry Axes," persisted the voice, drifting higher, "wait for me; we are pursued."

And indeed it was true. A band of Nubians, headed by the doctor, was already swarming like ants up the pyramid, and the unhappy pair were secured. And when the sun rose, it was upon the white sails of the dahabiyeh, the vacant pyramid, and the slumbering Sphinx.

There was great excitement at the Cairo Hotel the next morning. The Princess and the Chevalier had disappeared, and with them Alaster McFeckless, Lady Fitz-Fulke, the doctor, and even his dahabiyeh! A thousand rumors had been in circulation. Sir Midas Pyle looked up from the "Times" with his usual I-told-you-so expression.

"It is the most extraordinary thing, don'tcherknow," said Fitz-Fulke. "It seems that Dr. Haustus Pilgrim was here professionally-as a nerve specialist-in the treatment of hallucinations produced by neurotic conditions, you know."

"A mad doctor, here!" gasped Sir Midas.

"Yes. The Princess, the Chevalier, McFeckless, and even my mother were all patients of his on the dahabiyeh. He believed, don'tcherknow, in humoring them and letting them follow out their cranks, under his management. The Princess was a music-hall artist who imagined she was a dead and gone Egyptian Princess; and the queerest of all, 'Arry Axes was also a music-hall singer who imagined himself Chevalier-you know, the great Koster artist-and that's how we took him for a Frenchman. McFeckless and my poor old mother were the only ones with any real rank and position-but you know what a beastly bounder Mac was, and the poor mater DID overdo the youthful! We never called the doctor in until the day she wanted to go to a swell ball in London as Little Red Riding-hood. But the doctor writes me that the experiment was a success, and they'll be all right when they get back to London."

"Then, it seems, sir, that you and I were the only sane ones here," said Sir Midas furiously.

"Really it's as much as I can do to be certain about myself, old chappie," said Fitz-Fulke, turning away.

(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares