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   Chapter 6 No.6

Through stained glass By George Agnew Chamberlain Characters: 4464

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


That very night Leighton sought out his friend, the chief of police. He told him his story from the first creeping fear for his boy to the moment of terrible vengeance.

"So you killed him, eh?" said the chief, tossing his cigarette from him and thoughtfully lighting another. "Too bad. You ought to have come to me first, my friend, turned him over to us for a beating. It would have come to the same thing in the end and saved you a world of trouble. But what's done, is done. Now we must think. What do you suggest?"

Amazement dawned in Leighton's haggard face.

"What do I suggest?" he answered. "What does the law suggest, sir?

Are there no courts and prison-bars In this country for-for--"

"There, there," interrupted the chief. "As you say, there are courts, of course, gaols, too; but our accommodations for criminals are not suitable for gentlemen."

"It is not for me to choose my accommodation, sir. I am here to pay the penalty of my crime. I have come to be arrested."

"Arrested?" repeated the chief, staring at Leighton. "Are you not my friend? Are you not the friend of all of us that count?"

"But-but--" stammered Leighton.

"Yes, sir," repeated the chief, "my friend."

"What do you mean?" cried Leighton. "Do you mean you will leave my punishment to my conscience-to my God?"

The chief looked at him quizzically.

"Your punishment? Why, certainly. To your God, if you like. But let us get down to business. You are nervous. Quite natural. When I was an irresponsible student, I killed a servant for waking me on the morning after a spree. I remember I was nervous for weeks. Now sit still. Calm yourself. Let me think for you. In fact, while we've been chatting, I have thought for you."

The chief leaned back in his chair and placed his finger-tips together.

"Listen. When it becomes necessary, I shall block all roads-all exits from the city-by telegraph. There is one highway-the road into the interior-without telegraph as yet. We should never think of blocking that.

"Now, as to time available. Let us be on the safe side. You must get away to-morrow. You have horses, a wagon, stable-hands. Have you a tent? I will lend you one-a large bell tent.

"Now, as to affairs

-your property in this town. You will sign papers making your friend Lawyer Lima. Rodolpho and me joint trustees. He is my bitterest enemy, and I am his. In this way you can rest assured that neither of us will rob you."

Leighton made a deprecating gesture. The chief raised his hand and smiled.

"Ah," he said, "do not rob me of that thought. It was a stroke of genius. Between us," he continued, "we will advance you all the money you will need for a year. By that time we can send you more." He rose, and held out his hand. "Now, my friend, go, and God go with you!"

Leighton took the chief's hand.

"Good-by. I-I thank you."

"Not at all," said the chief, with a hearty grip. "To-morrow, eh? Get away to-morrow."

Leighton walked out and home in a daze. The remembrance of the agony in which he had resigned himself to the abandonment of his family, to notoriety, disgrace, and retribution, clung to him. What had seemed a nightmare, with an awakening bound to come, now became a waking dream, more terrible, because no dawn could give it end.

But the chief had been wise. He had left Leighton no time for disastrous introspection. Action, work, that sovereign antidote for troubled minds, seized upon him. He told Mrs. Leighton in as few words as possible what had happened.

She, too, was dazed by the chief's philosophy of friendship.

"But, Orme--" she began.

"I know, I know, Ann," he interrupted. "Only, we haven't time to think now, nor time to talk. Call mammy. Remember, we have but the one wagon. Pack carefully."

He himself hurried off to arouse the stable-hand. The stable-hand had not been to Manoel's house. He knew nothing of what had happened. He worked most of the night cheerfully, preparing for the welcome camping-trip.

By noon on the following day, when streets and country roads lay deserted under the tropic sun, the cavalcade was off. The wagon, drawn by two mules in charge of the stable-hand, led the way. It was laden with tent, baggage, and the women-folk, Ann, Natalie, and mammy. Behind followed Leighton on his favorite horse and Shenton and Lewis on their ponies. By sundown they reached the banks of the Tieté. It took men and boys an hour to set the big bell tent.

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