Aladdin and Co.
by Herbert Quick
Which is of
CHAPTER IV. Jim
CHAPTER V. We
Reach the Atoll.
CHAPTER VI. I am
the Cave, and
CHAPTER VII. We
CHAPTER VIII. A
Welcome to Wall
Street and Us.
CHAPTER IX. I Go
Aboard and We
Unfurl the Jolly
CHAPTER X. We
CHAPTER XI. The
Empress and Sir
John Meet Again.
CHAPTER XII. In
wealth begin to
fall upon Us.
CHAPTER XIII. A
Sitting or Two
in the Game with
the World and
CHAPTER XIV. In
which we Learn
CHAPTER XV. Some
Affairs of the
in Our Halcyon
Relating to the
The Going Away
of Laura and
the Departure of
CHAPTER XIX. In
CHAPTER XX. I
the Condition of
CHAPTER XXI. Of
CHAPTER XXII. In
which I Win my
Mill” and What
The Beginning of
That Last Weird
Battle in the
The End—and a
A ROMANCE OF YANKEE MAGIC
BY HERBERT QUICK
Author of Virginia of the Air Lanes, Double Trouble, etc.
GROSSET &DUNLAP PublishersNew York
Copyright 1904 Henry Holt and Company
Copyright 1907 The Bobbs-Merrill Company
THE PERSONS OF THE STORY.
James Elkins, the man who made Lattimore, known as Jim.
Albert Barslow, who tells the tale; the friend and partner of Jim.
Alice Barslow, his wife; at first, his sweetheart.
William Trescott, known as Bill, a farmer and capitalist.
Josephine Trescott, his daughter.
Mrs. Trescott, his wife.
Mr. Hinckley, a banker of Lattimore.
Mrs. Hinckley, his wife; devoted to the emancipation of woman.
Antonia, their daughter.
Aleck Macdonald, pioneer and capitalist.
General Lattimore, pioneer, soldier, and godfather of Lattimore.
Miss Addison, the general's niece.
Captain Marion Tolliver, Confederate veteran and Lattimore boomer.
Mrs. Tolliver, his wife.
Will Lattimore, a lawyer.
Mr. Ballard, a banker.
J. Bedford Cornish, a speculator, who with Elkins, Barslow, and
Hinckley make up the great Lattimore Syndicate.
Clifford Giddings, editor and proprietor of the Lattimore Herald.
De Forest Barr-Smith, an Englishman representing capital.
Cecil Barr-Smith, his brother.
Avery Pendleton, of New York, a railway magnate; head of the
Allen G. Wade, of New York; head of the Allen G. Wade Trust Co.
Halliday, a railway magnate; head of the Halliday System.
Watson, a reporter.
Schwartz, a locomotive engineer on the Lattimore &Great Western.
Hegvold, a fireman.
Citizens of Lattimore, Politicians, Live-stock Merchants, Railway
Clerks and Officials, etc.
Scene: Principally in the Western town of Lattimore, but partly in
New York and Chicago.
Time: Not so very long ago.
CHAPTER I. Which is of Introductory
Our National Convention met in Chicago that year, and I was one of
the delegates. I had looked forward to it with keen expectancy. I was
now, at five o'clock of the first day, admitting to myself that it was
The special train, with its crowd of overstimulated enthusiasts, the
throngs at the stations, the brass bands, bunting, and buncombe all
jarred upon me. After a while my treason was betrayed to the boys by
the fact that I was not hoarse. They punished me by making me sing as a
solo the air of each stanza of Marching Through Georgia, Tenting
To-night on the Old Camp-ground, and other patriotic songs, until my
voice was assimilated to theirs. But my gorge rose at it all, and now,
at five o'clock of the first day, I was seeking a place of retirement
where I could be alone and think over the marvelous event which had
suddenly raised me from yesterday's parity with the fellows on the
train to my present state of exaltation.
I should have preferred a grotto in Vau Vau or some south-looking
mountain glen; but in the absence of any such retreat in Chicago, I
turned into the old art-gallery in Michigan Avenue. As I went floating
in space past its door, my eye caught through the window the gleam of
the white limbs of statues, and my being responded to the soul
vibrations they sent out. So I paid my fee, entered, and found the
tender solitude for which my heart longed. I sat down and luxuriated in
thoughts of the so recent marvelous experience. Need I explain that I
was young and the experience was one of the heart?
I was so young that my delegateship was regarded as a matter to
excite wonder. I saw my picture in the papers next morning as a youth
of twenty-three who had become his party's leader in an important
agricultural county. Some, in the shameless laudation of a sensational
press, compared me to the younger Pitt. As a matter of fact, I had some
talent for organization, and in any gathering of men, I somehow never
lacked a following. I was young enough to be an honest partisan,
enthusiastic enough to be useful, strong enough to be respected,
ignorant enough to believe my party my country's safeguard, and I was
prominent in my county before I was old enough to vote. At twenty-one I
conducted a convention fight which made a member of Congress. It was
quite natural, therefore, that I should be delegate to this convention,
and that I had looked forward to it with keen expectancy. The
remarkable thing was my falling off from its work now by virtue of that
recent marvelous experience which as I have admitted was one of the
heart. Do not smile. At three-and-twenty even delegates have hearts.
My mental and sentimental state is of importance in this history, I
think, or I should not make so much of it. I feel sure that I should
not have behaved just as I did had I not been at that moment in the
iridescent cloudland of newly-reciprocated love. Alice had accepted me
not an hour before my departure for Chicago. Hence my loathing for such
things as nominating speeches and the report of the Committee on
Credentials, and my yearning for the Vau Vau grotto. She had yielded
herself up to me with such manifold sweetnesses, uttered and
unutterable (all of which had to be gone over in my mind constantly to
make sure of their reality), that the contest in Indiana, and the cause
of our own State's Favorite Son, became sickening burdens to me, which
rolled away as I gazed upon the canvases in the gallery. I lay back
upon a seat, half closed my eyes, and looked at the pictures. When one
comes to consider the matter, an art gallery is a wonderfully different
thing from a national convention!
As I looked on them, the still paintings became instinct with life.
Yonder shepherdess shielding from the thorns the little white lamb was
Alice, and back behind the clump of elms was myself, responding to her
silvery call. The cottage on the mountain-side was ours. That lady
waving her handkerchief from the promontory was Alice, too; and I was
the dim figure on the deck of the passing ship. I was the knight and
she the wood-nymph; I the gladiator in the circus, she the Roman lady
who agonized for me in the audience; I the troubadour who twanged the
guitar, she the princess whose fair shoulder shone through the lace at
the balcony window. They lived and moved before my very eyes. I knew
the unseen places beyond the painted mountains, and saw the secret
things the artists only dreamed of. Doves cooed for me from the clumps
of thorn; the clouds sailed in pearly serenity across the skies, their
shadows mottling mountain, hill, and plain; and out from behind every
bole, and through every leafy screen, glimpsed white dryads and fleeing
Clearly the convention hall was no place for me. Hang the speech of
the temporary chairman, anyhow! thought I; and as for the platform,
let it point with pride, and view with apprehension, to its heart's
content; it is sure to omit all reference to the overshadowing issue of
All the world loves a lover, and a true lover loves all the
world,especially that portion of it similarly blessed. So, when I
heard a girl's voice alternating in intimate converse with that of a
man, my sympathies went out to them, and I turned silently to look.
They must have come in during my reverie; for I had passed the place
where they were sitting and had not seen them. There was a piece of
grillwork between my station and theirs, through which I could see them
plainly. The gallery had seemed deserted when I went in, and still
seemed so, save for the two voices.
Hers was low and calm, but very earnest; and there was in it some
inflection or intonation which reminded me of the country girls I had
known on the farm and at school. His was of a peculiarly sonorous and
vibrant quality, its every tone so clear and distinct that it would
have been worth a fortune to a public speaker. Such a voice and
enunciation are never associated with any mind not strong in the
qualities of resolution and decision.
On looking at her, I saw nothing countrified corresponding to the
voice. She was dressed in something summery and cool, and wore a sort
of flowered blouse, the presence of which was explained by the easel
before which she sat, and the palette through which her thumb
protruded. She had laid down her brush, and the young man was using her
mahlstick in a badly-directed effort to smear into a design some
splotches of paint on the unused portion of her canvas.
He was by some years her senior, but both were youngshe, very
young. He was swarthy of complexion, and his smoothly-shaven,
square-set jaw and full red lips were bluish with the subcutaneous
blackness of his beard. His dress was so distinctly late in style as to
seem almost foppish; but there was nothing of the exquisite in his
erect and athletic form, or in his piercing eye.
She was ruddily fair, with that luxuriant auburn-brown hair which
goes with eyes of amberish-brown and freckles. These latter she had, I
observed with a renewal of the thought of the country girls and the old
district school. She was slender of waist, full of bust, and, after a
lissome, sylph-like fashion, altogether charming in form. With all her
roundness, she was slight and a little undersized.
So much of her as there was, the young fellow seemed ready to
absorb, regarding her with avid eyesa gaze which she seldom met. But
whenever he gave his attention to the mahlstick, her eyes sought his
countenance with a look which was almost scrutiny. It was as if some
extrinsic force drew her glance to his face, until the stronger
compulsion of her modesty drove it away at the return of his black
orbs. My heart recognized with a throb the freemasonry into which I had
lately been initiated, and, all unknown to them, I hailed them as
members of the order.
Their conversation came to me in shreds and fragments, which I did
not at all care to hear. I recognized in it those inanities with which
youth busies the lips, leaving the mind at rest, that the interplay of
magnetic discharges from heart to heart may go on uninterruptedly. It
is a beautiful provision of nature, but I did not at that time admire
it. I pitied them. Alice and I had passed through that stage, and into
the phase marked by long and eloquent silences.
I was brought up to think, I remember to have heard the fair
stranger say, following out, apparently, some subject under discussion
between them, that the surest way to make a child steal jam is to spy
upon him. I should feel ashamed.
Quite right, said he, but in Europe and in the East, and even
here in Chicago, in some circles, it is looked upon as indispensable,
In art, at least, she went on, there is no sex. Whoever can help
me in my work is a companion that I don't need any chaperon to protect
me from. If I wasn't perfectly sure of that, I should give up and go
Now, don't draw the line so as to shut me out, he protested. How
can I help you with your work?
She looked him steadily in the face now, her intent and questioning
regard shading off into a somewhat arch smile.
I can't think of any way, said she, unless it would be by posing
There's another way, he answered, and the only one I'd care
She suddenly became absorbed in the contemplation of the paints on
her palette, at which she made little thrusts with a brush; and at last
she queried, doubtfully, How?
I've heard or read, he answered, that no artist ever rises to the
highest, you know, until after experiencing some great love. Ican't
you think of any other way besides the posing?
She brought the brush close to her eyes, minutely inspecting its
point for a moment, then seemed to take in his expression with a swift
sweeping glance, resumed the examination of the brush, and finally
looked him in the face again, a little red spot glowing in her cheek,
and a glint of fire in her eye. I was too dense to understand it, but I
felt that there was a trace of resentment in her mien.
Oh, I don't know about that! she said. There may be some other
way. I haven't met all your friends, and you may be the means of
introducing me to the very man.
I did not hear his reply, though I confess I tried to catch it. She
resumed her work of copying one of the paintings. This she did in a
mechanical sort of way, slowly, and with crabbed touches, but with some
success. I thought her lacking in anything like control over the medium
in which she worked; but the results promised rather well. He seemed
annoyed at her sudden accession of industry, and looked sometimes
quizzically at her work, often hungrily at her. Once or twice he
touched her hand as she stepped near him; but she neither reproved him
nor allowed him to retain it.
I felt that I had taken her measure by this time. She was some
Western country girl, well supplied with money, blindly groping toward
the career of an artist. Her accent, her dress, and her occupation told
of her origin and station in life, and of her ambitions. The blindness
I guessed,partly from the manner of her work, partly from the
inherent probabilities of the case. If the young man had been
eliminated from this problem with which my love-sick imagination was
busying itself, I could have followed her back confidently to some
rural neighborhood, and to a year or two of painting portraits from
photographs, and landscapes from studies, and exhibiting them at the
county fair; the teaching of some pupils, in an unnecessary but
conscientiously thrifty effort to get back some of the money invested
in an art education in Chicago; and a final reversion to type after
her marriage with the village lawyer, doctor or banker, or the owner of
the adjoining farm. I was young; but I had studied people, and had
already seen such things happen.
But the young man could not be eliminated. He sat there idly, his
every word and look surcharged with passion. As I wondered how long it
would be until they were as happy as Alice and I, the thought grew upon
me that, however familiar might be the type to which she belonged, he
was unclassified. His accent was Easternof New York, I judged. He
looked like the young men in the magazine illustrationsinteresting,
but outside my field of observation. And I could not fail to see that
girl must find herself similarly at odds with him. But, thought I,
love levels all! And I freshly interrogated the pictures and statues
for transportation to my own private Elysium, forgetful of my
My attention was recalled to them, however, by their arrangements
for departure, and a concomitant slightly louder tone in their
It's just a spectacular show, said he; no plot or anything of
that sort, you know, but good music and dancing; and when we get tired
of it we can go. We'll have a little supper at Auriccio's afterward, if
you'll be so kind. It's only a step from McVicker's.
Won't it be pretty late? she queried.
Not for Chicago, said he, and you'll find material for a picture
at Auriccio's about midnight. It's quite like the Latin Quarter,
I want to see the real Latin Quarter, and no imitation, she
answered. Oh, I guess I'll go. It'll furnish me with material for a
letter to mamma, however the picture may turn out.
I'll order supper for the Empress, said he, and
And for the illustrious Sir John, she added. But you mustn't call
me that any more. I've been reading her history, and I don't like it.
I'm glad he died on St. Helena, now: I used to feel sorry for him.
Transfer your pity to the downtrodden Sir John, he replied, and
make a real living man happy.
They passed out and left me to my dreams. But visions did not
return. My idyl was spoiled. Old-fashioned ideas emerged, and took form
in the plain light of every-day common-sense. I knew the wonderfully
gorgeous spectacle these two young people were going to see at the play
that night, with its lights, its music, its splendidly meretricious
Orientalism. And I knew Auriccio's,not a disreputable place at all,
perhaps; but free-and-easy, and distinctly Bohemian. I wished that this
little girl, so arrogantly and ignorantly disdainful (as Alice would
have been under the same circumstances) of such European conventions as
the chaperon, so fresh, so young, so full of allurement, so under the
influence of this smooth, dark, and passionate wooer with the vibrant
voice, could be otherwise accompanied on this night of pleasure than by
It's none of your business, said the voice of that cold-hearted
and slothful spirit which keeps us in our groove, and you couldn't do
anything, anyhow. Besides, he's abjectly in love with her: would there
be any danger if it were you and your Alice?
I'm not at all sure about him or his abjectness, replied my uneasy
conscience. He knows better than to do this.
What do you know of either of them? answered this same Spirit of
Routine. What signify a few sentences casually overheard? She may be
something quite different; there are strange things in Chicago.
I'll wager anything, said I hotly, that she's a good American
girl of the sort I live among and was brought up with! And she may be
If she's that sort of girl, said the Voice, you may rely upon her
to take care of herself.
That's pretty nearly true, I admitted.
Besides, said the Voice illogically, such things happen every
night in such a city. It's a part of the great tragedy. Don't be
Here was where the Voice lost its case: for my conscience was
stirred afresh; and I went back to the convention-hall carrying on a
joint debate with myself. Once in the hall, however, I was conscripted
into a war which was raging all through our delegation over the
succession in our membership in the National Committee. I thought no
more of the idyl of the art-gallery until the adjournment for the
CHAPTER II. Still Introductory.
The great throng from the hall surged along the streets in an
Amazonian network of streams, gathering in boiling lakes in the great
hotels, dribbling off into the boarding-house districts in the suburbs,
seeping down into the slimy fens of vice. Again I found myself out of
touch with it all. I gave my companions the slip, and started for my
All at once it occurred to me that I had not dined, and with the
thought came the remembrance of my pair of lovers, and their supper
together. With a return of the feeling that these were the only people
in Chicago possessing spirits akin to mine, I shaped my course for
Auriccio's. My country dazedness led me astray once or twice, but I
found the place, retreated into the farthest corner, sat down, and
It was not one of the places where the out-of-town visitors were
likely to resort, and it was in fact rather quieter than usual. The few
who were at the tables went out before my meal was served, and for a
few minutes I was alone. Then the Empress and Sir John entered,
followed by half a dozen other playgoers. The two on whom my
sentimental interest was fixed came far down toward my position,
attracted by the quietude which had lured me, and seated themselves at
a table in a sort of alcove, cut off from the main room by columns and
palms, secluded enough for privacy, public enough, perhaps, for
propriety. So far as I was concerned I could see them quite plainly,
looking, as I did, from my gloomy corner toward the light of the
restaurant; and I was sufficiently close to be within easy earshot. I
began to have the sensation of shadowing them, until I recalled the
fact that, so far, it had been a case of their following me.
I thought his manner toward her had changed since the afternoon.
There was now an openness of wooing, an abandonment of reserve in
glance and attitude, which should have admonished her of an approaching
crisis in their affairs. Yet she seemed cooler and more self-possessed
than before. Save for a little flutter in her low laugh, I should have
pronounced her entirely at ease. She looked very sweet and girlish in
her high-necked dress, which helped make up a costume that she seemed
to have selected to subdue and conceal, rather than to display, her
charms. If such was her plan, it went pitifully wrong: his advances
went on from approach to approach, like the last manoeuvres of a
No, I heard her say, as I became conscious that we three were
alone again; not here! Not at all! Stop!
When I looked at them they were quietly sitting at the table; but
her face was pale, his flushed. Pretty soon the waiter came and served
champagne. I felt sure that she had never seen any before.
How funny it looks, said she, with the bubbles coming up in the
middle like a little fountain; and how pretty! Why, the stem is hollow,
He laughed and made some foolish remark about love bubbling up in
his heart. When he set his glass down, I could see that his hands were
trembling as with palsy,so much so that it was tipped over and
I'll fill another, said he. Aren't you sorry you broke it?
I? she queried. You're not going to lay that to me, are you?
You're the only one to blame! he replied. You must hold it till
it's steady. I'll hold your glass with the other. Why, you don't take
any at all! Don't you like it, dear?
She shrank back, looked toward the door, and then took the hand in
both of hers, holding it close to her side, and drank the wine like a
child taking medicine. His arm, his hand still holding the glass,
slipped about her waist, but she turned swiftly and silently freed
herself and sat down by the chair in which he had meant that both
should sit, holding his hands. Then in a moment I saw her sitting on
the other side of the table, and he was filling the glasses again. The
guests had all departed. The well-disciplined waiters had effaced
themselves. Only we three were there. I wondered if I ought to do
They sat and talked in low tones. He was drinking a good deal of the
champagne; she, little; and neither seemed to be eating anything. He
sat opposite to her, leaning over as if to consume her with his eyes.
She returned his gaze often now, and often smiled; but her smile was
drawn and tremulous, and, to my mind, pitifully appealing. I no longer
wondered if I ought to do anything; for, once, when I partly rose to go
and speak to them, the impossibility of the thing overcame my half
resolve, and I sat down. The anti-quixotic spirit won, after all.
At last a waiter, returning with the change for the bill with which
I had paid my score, was hailed by Sir John, and was paid for their
supper. I looked to see them as they started for home. The girl rose
and made a movement toward her wrap. He reached it first and placed it
about her shoulders. In so doing, he drew her to him, and began
speaking softly and passionately to her in words I could not hear. Her
face was turned upward and backward toward him, and all her resistance
seemed gone. I should have been glad to believe this the safe and
triumphant surrender to an honest love; but here, after the dances and
Stamboul spectacles, hidden by the palms, beside the table with its
empty bottles and its broken glass, how could I believe it such? I
turned away, as if to avoid the sight of the crushing of some innocent
thing which I was powerless to aid, and strode toward the door.
Then I heard a little cry, and saw her come flying down the great
hall, leaving him standing amazedly in the archway of the palm alcove.
She passed me at the door, her face vividly white, went out into the
street, like a dove from the trap at a shooting tournament, and sprang
lightly upon a passing street-car. I could act now, and I would see her
to a place of safety; so I, too, swung on by the rail of the rear car.
She never once turned her face; but I saw Sir John come to the door of
the restaurant and look both ways for her, and as he stood perplexed
and alarmed, our train turned the curve at the next corner, we were
swept off toward the South Side, and the dark young man passed, as I
supposed, into my dreams forever. I made my way forward a few seats
and saw her sitting there with her head bowed upon the back of the seat
in front of her. I bitterly wished that he, if he had a heart, might
see her there, bruised in spirit, her little ignorant white soul,
searching itself for smutches of the uncleanness it feared. I wished
that Alice might be there to go to her and comfort her without a word.
I paid her fare, and the conductor seemed to understand that she was
not to be disturbed. A drunken man in rough clothes came into the car,
walked forward and looked at her a moment, and as I was about to go to
him and make him sit elsewhere, he turned away and came back to the
rear, as if he had some sort of maudlin realization that the front of
the train was sacred ground.
At last she looked about, signalled for the car to stop, and
alighted. I followed, rather suspecting that she did not know her way.
She walked steadily on, however, to a big, dark house with a
vine-covered porch, close to the sidewalk. A stout man, coatless, and
in a white shirt, stood at the gate. He wore a slouch hat, and I knew
him, even in that dim light, for a farmer. She stopped for a moment,
and without a word, sprang into his arms.
Wal, little gal, ain't yeh out purty late? I heard him say, as I
walked past. Didn't expect yer dad to see yeh, did yeh? Why, yeh ain't
a-cryin', be yeh?
O pa! O pa! was all I heard her say; but it was enough. I walked
to the corner, and sat down on the curbstone, dead tired, but happy. In
a little while I went back toward the street-car line, and as I passed
the vine-clad porch, heard the farmer's bass voice, and stopped to
listen, frankly an eavesdropper, and feeling, somehow, that I had
earned the right to hear.
Why, o' course, I'll take yeh away, ef yeh don't like it here,
little gal, he was saying. Yes, we'll go right in an' pack up now, if
yeh say so. Only it's a little suddent, and may hurt the Madame's
feelin's, y' know
* * * * *
At the hotel I was forced by the crowded state of the city to share
the bed of one of my fellow delegates. He was a judge from down the
state, and awoke as I lay down.
That you, Barslow? said he. Do you know a fellow by the name of
Elkins, of Cleveland?
No, said I, why?
He was here to see you, or rather to inquire if you were Al Barslow
who used to live in Pleasant Valley Township, the Judge went on. He's
the fellow who organized the Ohio flambeau brigade. Seems smart.
Pleasant Valley Township, did he say? Yes, I know him. It's Jimmie
And I sank to sleep and to dreams, in which Jimmie Elkins, the
Empress, Sir John, Alice, and myself acted in a spectacular drama, like
that at McVicker's. And yet there are those who say there is nothing in
CHAPTER III. Reminiscentially
This Jimmie Elkins was several years older than I; but that did not
prevent us, as boys, from being fast friends. At seventeen he had a
coterie of followers among the smaller fry of ten and twelve, his
tastes clinging long to the things of boyhood. He and I played
together, after the darkening of his lip suggested the razor, and when
the youths of his age were most of them acquiring top buggies, and
thinking of the long Sunday-night drives with their girls. Jim
preferred the boys, and the trade of the fisher and huntsman.
Why, in spite of parental opposition, I loved Jimmie, is not hard to
guess. He had an odd and freakish humor, and talked more of
Indian-fighting, filibustering in gold-bearing regions, and of moving
accidents by flood and field, than of crops, live-stock, or bowery
dances. He liked me just as did the older men who sent me to the
National Convention,in spite of my youth. He was a ne'er-do-weel,
said my father, but I snared gophers and hunted and fished with him,
and we loved each other as brothers seldom do.
At last, I began teaching school, and working my way to a better
education than our local standard accepted as either useful or
necessary, and Jim and I drifted apart. He had always kept up a
voluminous correspondence with that class of advertisers whose
black-letter Agents Wanted is so attractive to the farmer-boy; and he
was usually agent for some of their wares. Finally, I heard of him as a
canvasser for a book sold by subscription,a Veterinarians' Guide, I
believe it was,and report said that he was making money. Again I
learned that he had established a publishing business of some kind;
and, later, that reverses had forced him to discontinue it,the old
farmer who told me said he had failed up. Then I heard no more of him
until that night of the convention, when I had the adventure with the
Empress and Sir John, all unknown to them; and Jim made the ineffectual
attempt to find me. His family had left the old neighborhood, and so
had mine; and the chances of our ever meeting seemed very slight. In
fact it was some years later and after many of the brave dreams of the
youthful publicist had passed away, that I casually stumbled upon him
in the smoking-room of a parlor-car, coming out of Chicago.
I did not know him at first. He came forward, and, extending his
hand, said, How are you, Al? and paused, holding the hand I gave him,
evidently expecting to enjoy a period of perplexity on my part. But
with one good look in his eyes I knew him. I made him sit down by me,
and for half an hour we were too much engrossed in reminiscences to ask
after such small matters as business, residence, and general welfare.
Where all have you been, Jim, and what have you been doing, since
you followed off the 'Veterinarians' Guide,' and I lost you? I
inquired at last.
I've been everywhere, and I've done everything, almost, said he.
Put it in the 'negative case,' and my history'll be briefer.
I should regard organizing a flambeau brigade, said I, as about
the last thing you would engage in.
Ah! he replied, His Whiskers at the hotel told you I called that
time, did he? Well, I didn't think he had the sense. And I doubted the
memory on your part, and I wasn't at all sure you were the real
Barslow. But about the flambeaux. The fact is, I had some stock in the
flambeau factory, and I was a rabid partisan of flambeaux. They seemed
so patriotic, you know, so sort of ennobling, and so convincing, as to
the merits of the tariff controversy!
It was the same old Jim, I thought.
We used to have a scheme, I remarked, our favorite one, of
occupying an island in the Pacific,or was it somewhere in the
vicinity of the Spanish Main
If it was the place where we were to make slaves of all the
natives, and I was to be king, and you Grand Vizier, he answered, as
if it were a weighty matter, and he on the witness-stand, it was in
the Pacificthe South Pacific, where the whale-oil comes from. A coral
atoll, with a crystal lagoon in the middle for our ships, and a fringe
of palms along the margincoco-palms, you remember; and the lagoon was
green, sometimes, and sometimes blue; and the sharks never came over
the bar, but the porpoises came in and played for us, and made
fireworks in the phosphorescent waves....
His eyes grew almost tender, as he gazed out of the window, and
ceased to speak without finishing the sentence,which it took me some
minutes to follow out to the end, in my mind. I was delighted and
touched to find these foolish things so green in his memory.
The plan involved, said I soberly, capturing a Spanish galleon
filled with treasure, finding two lovely ladies in the cabin, and
offering them their liberty. And we sailed with them for a port; and,
as I remember it, their tears at parting conquered us, and we married
them; and lived richer than oil magnates, and grander than Monte
Cristos forever after: do you remember?
Remember! Well, I should smile!he had been laughing like a boy,
with his old frank laugh. Them's the things we don't forget.... Did
you ever gather any information as to what a galleon really was? I
I had no more idea than I now have of the Rosicrucian Mysteries;
and I must confess, said I, that I'm a little hazy on the galleon
question yet. As to piracy, now, and robbers and robbery, actual life
fills out the gaps in the imagination of boyhood, doesn't it, Jim?
Apt to, he assented, but specifically? As to which, you know?
Well, I've had my share of experience with them, I answered,
though not so much in the line of rob-or, as we planned, but more as
Jim looked at me quizzically.
Board of Trade, faro, or ... what? he ventured.
General business, I responded, and ... politics.
Local, state, or national? he went on, craftily ignoring the
A little national, some state, but the bulk of it local. I've been
elected County Treasurer, down where I live, for four successive
Good for you! he responded. But I don't see how that can be made
to harmonize with your remark about rob-or and rob-ee. It's been your
own fault, if you haven't been on the profitable side of the game, with
the dear people on the other. And I judge from your looks that you eat
three meals a day, right along, anyhow. Come, now, b'lay this rob-ee
business (as Sir Henry Morgan used to say) till you get back to
Buncombe County. As a former partner in crime, I won't squeal; and the
next election is some ways off, anyhow. No concealment among pals, now,
Al, it's no fair, you know, and it destroys confidence and breeds
discord. Many a good, honest, piratical enterprise has been busted up
by concealment and lack of confidence. Always trust your fellow
pirates,especially in things they know all about by extrinsic
evidence,and keep concealment for the great world of the
unsophisticated and gullible, and to catch the sucker vote with. But
among ourselves, my beloved, fidelity to truth, and openness of heart
is the first rule, right out of Hoyle. With dry powder, mutual
confidence, and sharp cutlasses, we are invincible; and as the poet
'Far as the tum-te-tum the billows foam
Survey our empire and behold our home,'
or words to that effect. And to think of your trying to deceive me,
your former chieftain, who doesn't even vote in your county or state,
and moreover always forgets election! Rob-ee indeed! rats! Al, I'm
ashamed of you, by George, I am!
This speech he delivered with a ridiculous imitation of the tricks
of the elocutionist. It was worthy of the burlesque stage. The
conductor, passing through, was attracted by it, and notified us that
the solitude of the smoking-room had been invaded, by a slight burst of
applause at Jim's peroration, followed by the vanishing of the
No need for any further concealment on my part, so far as elections
are concerned, said I, when we had finished our laugh, for I go out
of office January first, next.
Oh, well, that accounts for it, then, said he. I notice, say,
three kinds of retirement from office: voluntary (very rare),
post-convention, and post-election. Which is yours?
Post-convention, I'm sorry to say. I wish it had been voluntary.
It is the cheapest; but you're in great luck not to get
licked at the polls. Altogether, you're in great luck. You've been
betting on a game in which the percentage is mighty big in favor of the
house, and you've won three or four consecutive turns out of the box.
You've got no kick coming: you're in big luck. Don't you know you are?
I did not feel called upon to commit myself; and we smoked on for
some time in silence.
It strikes me, Jim, said I, at last, that you've done all the
cross-examination, and that it is time to listen to your report. How
about you and your conduct?
As for my conduct, was the prompt answer, it's away up in the
neighborhood of G. I've managed to hold the confounded world up for a
living, ever since I left Pleasant Valley Township. Some of the time
the picking has been better than at others; but my periods of
starvation have been brief. By practicing on the 'Veterinarians' Guide'
and other similar fakes, I learned how to talk to people so as to make
them believe what I said about things, with the result, usually, of
wooing the shrinking and cloistered dollar from its lair. When a fellow
gets this trick down fine, he can always find a market for his
services. I handled hotel registers, city directories, and like
literature, including county histories
Sh-h-h! said I, somebody might hear you.
and at last, after a conference with my present employers, the
error of my way presented itself to me, and I felt called to a higher
and holier profession. I yielded to my good angel, turned my better
nature loose, and became a missionary.
A what! I exclaimed.
A missionary, he responded soberly. That is, you understand, not
one of these theological, India's-coral-strand guys; but one who goes
about the United States of America in a modest and unassuming way,
doing good so far as in him lies.
I see, said I, punning horribly, 'in him lies.'
Eh?... Yes. Have another cigar. Well, now, you can't defend this
foreign-mission business to me for a minute. The hills, right in this
vicinity, are even now white to the harvest. Folks here want the light
just as bad as the foreign heathen; and so I took up my burden, and
went out to disseminate truth, as the soliciting agent of the Frugality
and Indemnity Life Association, which presented itself to me as the
capacity in which I could best combine repentance with its fruits.
I perceive, said I.
Perfectly plain, isn't it, to the seeing eye? he went on. You see
it was like this: Charley Harper and I had been together in the Garden
City Land Company, years ago, during the boomby the way, I didn't
mention that in my report, did I? Well, of course, that company went up
just as they all did, and neither Charley nor I got to be receiver, as
we'd sort of laid out to do, and we separated. I went back to my
literaturehotel registers, with an advertising scheme, with
headquarters at Cleveland. That's how I happened to be an Ohio man at
that national convention. Charley always had a leaning toward
insurance, and went down into Illinois, and started a mutual-benefit
organization, which he kept going a few years down on the
farmSpringfield, or Jacksonville, or somewhere down there; and when I
ketched up with him again, he was just changing it to the old-line
plan, and bringing it to the metropolis. Well, I helped him some to
enlist capital, and he offered me the position of Superintendent of
Agents. I accepted, and after serving awhile in the ranks to sort of
get onto the ropes, here I am, just starting out on a trip which will
take me through a number of states.
How does it agree with you? I inquired.
Not well, said he, but the good I accomplish is a great comfort
to me. On this trip, now, I expect to do much in the way of stimulating
the boys up to their great work of spreading the light of the gospel of
true insurance. Sometimes, in these days of apathy and error, I find my
burden a heavy one; and notwithstanding the quiet of conscience I gain,
if it weren't for the salary, I'd quit to-morrow, Al, danged if I
wouldn't. It makes me tired to have even you sort of hint that I'm
actuated by some selfish motive, when, in truth and in fact, I live but
to gather widows and orphans under my wing, so to speak, and give
second husbands a good start, by means of policies written on the only
true plan, combining participation in profits with pure mutuality,
Never mind! said I with a silence-commanding gesture. I've heard
all that before. You're onto the ropes thoroughly; but don't practice
your infernal arts on me! I hope the salary is satisfactory?
Fairish; but not high, considering what they get for it.
You used to be more modest, said I. I remember that you once
nearly broke your heart because you couldn't summon up courage to ask
Creeshy Hammond to go to the 'Fourth' with you; d'ye remember?
Well, I guess, yes! he replied. Wasn't I a miserable wretch for a
few days! And I've never been able to ask any woman I cared about, the
fateful question, yet.
We went into the parlor-car, and talked over old times and new for
an hour. I told him of my marriage and my home, and I studied him. I
saw that he still preserved his humorous, mock-serious style of
conversation, and that his hand-to-hand battle with the world had made
him good-humoredly cynical. He evinced a knowledge of more things than
I should have expected; and had somehow acquired an imposing manner, in
spite of his rather slangy, if expressive, vocabulary. He had the power
of making statements of mere opinion, which, from some vibration of
voice or trick of expression, struck the hearer as solid facts, thrice
buttressed by evidence. He bore no marks of dissipation, unless the
occasional use of terms traceable to the turf or the gaming-table might
be considered such; but these expressions, I considered, are so
constantly before every reader of the newspapers that the language of
the pulpit, even, is infected by them. Their evidential value being
thus destroyed, they ought not to be weighed at all, as against firm,
wholesome flesh, a good complexion, and a clear eye, all of which Mr.
It's funny, said I, how seldom I meet any of the old
neighbor-boys. Do you see any of them in your travels?
Not often, he answered, but you remember little Ed Smith, who
lived on the Hayes place for a while, and brought the streaked snake
into the schoolhouse while Julia Fanning was teaching? Well, he was an
architect at Garden City, and lives in Chicago now. We sort of chum
together: saw him yesterday. He left Garden City when the land company
went up. I tell you, that was a hot town for a while! Railroads, and
factories, and irrigation schemes, and prices scooting toward the
zenith, till you couldn't rest. If I'd got into that push soon enough,
I shouldn't have made a thing but money; as it was, I didn't lose only
what I had. A good many of the boys lost a lot more. But I tell you,
Al, a boom properly boomed is a sure thing.
You're a constant source of surprise to me, Jim, said I. I should
have thought them sure to lose.
They're sure to win, said he earnestly.
I demurred. I don't see how that can possibly be, said I, for of
all things, booms seem to me the most fickle and incalculable.
They seem so, said he, smiling, but still in earnest, to your
rustic and untaught mind, and to most others, because they haven't been
studied. The comet, likewise, doesn't seem very stable or dependable;
but to the eye of the astronomer its orbit is plain, and the time of
its return engagement pretty certain. It's the same with seventeen-year
locustsand booms; their visits are so far apart that the masses
forget their birthmarks and the W's on their backs. But if you'll
follow their appearances from place to place, as I've done, putting up
my ante right along for the privilege, you'll become an accomplished
boomist; and from the first gentle stirrings of boom-sprouts in the
soil, so to speak, you can forecast their growth, maturity, and
I must be permitted to doubt it, said I.
It's easy, my son, he resumed, dead easy, and it's psychology on
the hugest scale; and among the results of its study is constant
improvement of the mind, going on coincidentally with the preparation
of the way to the ownership of steam-yachts and racing-stables, or any
other similar trifles you hanker for.
Great brain, Jim! Massive intellect! said I, laughing at the
fantastic absurdity of his assertion. Why, such knowledge as you
possess is better than straight tips on all the races ever to be run.
It's better than our tropical island and Spanish galleons. You get
richer, and you don't have to look out for men-of-war. Do I hold my job
as Grand Vizier?
You hold any job you'll take: I'll make out the appointment with
the position and salary blank, and you can fill it up. And if you get
dissatisfied with that, the old grand hailing-sign of distress will
catch the speaker's eye, any old time. But, I tell you, Al, in all
seriousness, I'm right about this boom business. They're all alike, and
they all have the same history. With the conditions right, one can be
started anywhere in a growing country. I've had my ear to the ground
for a while back, and I've heard things. I'm sure I detect some of the
premonitory symptoms: money piling up in the financial centers;
property away down, but strengthening, in the newer regions; and,
lately, a little tendency to take chances in investments, forgetting
the scorching of ten or twelve years ago. A new generation of suckers
is gettin' ready to bite. Look into this thing, Al, and don't be a
The same old Jim, said I; you were manipulating a corner in
tobacco-tags while I was learning my letters.
Do you ever forget anything? he inquired. I have about forgotten
that myself. How was that tobacco-tag business, Al?
Then with the painstaking circumstantiality of two old schoolmates
luxuriating in memories, we talked over the tobacco-tag craze which
swept through our school one winter. Everything in life takes place in
school, and the tobacco-tag craze has quite often recurred to me as
showing boys acting just as men act, and Jimmie Elkins as the born
stormy petrel of financial seas.
It all came back to our minds, and we reconstructed this story. The
manufacturers of Tomahawk Plug had offered a dozen photographs of
actresses and dancers to any one sending in a certain number of the tin
hatchets concealed in their tobacco. The makers of Broad-axe Navy
offered something equally cheap and alluring for consignments of their
brass broad-axes. The older boys began collecting photographs, and a
market for tobacco-tags of certain kinds was established. We little
fellows, though without knowledge of the mysterious forces which had
given value to these bits of metal, began to pick up stray tags from
sidewalk, foot-path, and floor. A marked upward tendency soon
manifested itself. Boys found their Broad-axe or Door-key tags,
picked tip at night, doubled in value by morning. The primary object in
collecting tags was forgotten in the speculative mania which set in.
Who would exchange Tomahawk tags for the counterfeit presentment of
décolleté dancers, when by holding them he could make cent-per-cent on
his investment of hazel-nuts and slate-pencils?
The playground became a Board of Trade. We learned nothing but
mental arithmetic applied to deals in Door-keys, Arrow-heads, and
other tag properties. We went about with pockets full of tags.
Jim, not yet old enough to admire the beauties of the photographs,
came forward in a week as the Napoleon of tobacco-tag finance. He
acquired tags in the slumps, and sold them in the bulges. He raided
particular brands with rumors of the vast supply with which the village
boys were preparing to flood us. He converted his holdings into marbles
and tops. Finally, he planned his master-stroke. He dropped mysterious
hints regarding some tag considered worthless. He asked us in whispers
if we had any. Others followed his example, and Door-key tags went
above all others and were scarce at any price. Then Jimmie Elkins
brought out the supply which he had cornered, threw it on the market,
and before it had time to drop took in a large part of the playground
currency. I lost to him a good drawing-slate and a figure-4 trap.
Jimmie pocketed his winnings, but the trouble attracted the
attention of the teacher, and under adverse legislation a period of
liquidation set in. The distress was great. Many found themselves with
property which was not convertible into photographs or anything else.
To make matters worse, the discovery was made that the big boys had
left school to begin the spring's work, and no one wanted the
photographs. Bankrupt and disillusioned, we returned to the realities
of kites, marbles, and knives, most of which we had to obtain from
Yes, said he, it's a good deal the same with booms. But if you
understand 'em ... eh, Al?
Well, said I, really impressed now, I'll look into it. And when
you get ready to sow your boom-seed, let me know. I change cars in a
few minutes, and you go on. Come down and see me sometimes, can't you?
We haven't had our talk half out yet. Doesn't your business ever bring
you down our way?
It hasn't yet, but I'm coming down into that neck of the woods
within six weeks, and I guess I can fix it so's to stop off,mingling
pleasure and business. It's the only way the hustling philanthropist of
my style ever gets any recreation.
Do it, said I; I'll have plenty of time at my disposal; for I go
out of office before that time; and I may want to go into your
On the theory that the great adversary of mankind runs an
employment agency for ex's? There's the whistle for your junction. By
George, Al, I can't tell you how glad I am to have ketched up with you
again! I've wondered about you a million times. Don't let's lose track
of each other again.
No, no, Jim, we won't! The train was coming to a stop. Don't
allow anything to side-track you and prevent that visit.
Well, I should say not, he answered, following me out upon the
platform of the station. We'll have a regular piratical reuniona
sort of buccaneers' camp-fire. I've a curiosity to see some of the
fellows who acted the part of rob-or to your rob-ee. I want to hear
their side of the story. Good-by, Al. Confound it, I wish you were
going on with me!
He wrung my hand at parting, reminding me of the old Jim who studied
from the same geography with me, more than at any time since we met. He
stayed with me until after his train had started, caught hold of the
hand-rail as the rear car went by, and passed out of view, waving his
hand to me.
I sat down on a baggage-truck waiting for my train, thinking of my
encounter with Jim. All the way home I was busy pondering over a
thousand things thus suddenly recalled to me. I could see every
fence-corner and barn, every hill and stream of our old haunts; and
after I got home I told Alice all about it.
He seems quite a remarkable fellow, said I, and a perfect
specimen of the pusher and hustlera quick-witted man of affairs. If
he is ever put down, he can't be kept down.
I think I prefer a more refined type of man, said Alice.
In the sixteenth century, I went on with that excessive
perspicacity which our wives have to put up with, he'd have been a
Drake or a Dampier; in the seventeenth, the commander of a privateer or
slaver; in this age, I shall not be at all surprised if he turns out a
great railway or financial magnate. It's like a whiff of boyhood to
talk with him; though he's a greatly different sort of man from what I
should have expected to find him. I think you'll like him.
She seemed dubious about this. Our wives instinctively disapprove of
people we used to know prior to that happy meeting which led to
marriage. This prejudice, for some reason, is stronger against our
feminine acquaintances than the others. I am not analytical enough to
do more than point out this feeling, which will, I think, be admitted
by all husbands to exist.
That sort of man, said she, lacks the qualities of bravery and
intrepidity which make up a Drake or a Dampier. They are so a-scheming
The last time I saw Jim until to-day, said I, he did something
which seems to show that he had those more admirable qualities.
Then I told her that story of Jim and the mad dog, which is
remembered in Pleasant Valley to this day. Some say the dog was not
mad; but I, who saw his terrible, insane look as he came snapping and
frothing down the road, believe that he was. Jim had left the school
for a year or so, and I was a big boy ready to leave it. It was at
four one afternoon, and as the children filed into the road, there met
them the shouts of men and cries of Run! Run! Mad dog!
The children scattered like a covey of quail; but a pair of little
five-year-olds, forgotten by the others, walked on hand in hand,
looking into each other's faces, right toward the poor crazed, hunted
brute, which trotted slowly toward the children, gnashing its frothing
jaws at sticks and weeds, at everything it met, ready to bury its teeth
in the first baby to come within reach.
A young man with a canvasser's portfolio stood behind a fence over
which he had jumped to avoid the dog. Suddenly he saw the children,
knew their danger, and leaped back into the road. It was like a
bull-fighter vaulting the barriers into the perils of the arena,only
it was to save, not to destroy. The dog had passed him and was nearer
the children than he was. I wondered what he expected to do as I saw
him running lightly, swiftly, and yet quietly behind the terrible
beast. As he neared the animal, he stooped, and my blood froze as I saw
him seize the dog with both hands by the hinder legs. The head curled
sidewise and under, and the teeth almost grazed the young man's hands
with a vicious, metallic snap. Then we saw what the contest was. The
young man, with a powerful circling sweep of his arms, whirled the dog
so swiftly about his head that the lank frame swung out in a straight
line, and the snap could not be repeated. But what of the end? No
muscles could long stand such a strain, and when they yielded, then
Then we saw that as he swung his loathsome foe, the young man was
gradually approaching the schoolhouse. We saw the horrible snapping
head whirl nearer and nearer at every turn to the corner of the
building. Then we saw the young man strike a terrible blow at the stone
wall, using the dog as a club; and in a moment I saw the stones
splashed with red, and the young man lying on the ground, where the
violence of his effort had thrown him, and by him lay the quivering
form of what we had fled from. And the young man was James Elkins.
Alice breathed hard as I finished, and stood straight with her chin
That was fine! said she. I want to see that man!
CHAPTER IV. Jim discovers his Coral
There has long been abroad in the world a belief that events which
bear some controlling relation to one's destiny are announced by
premonition, some spiritual trepidation, some movement of that curtain
which cuts off our view of the future. I believe this notion to be
false, but feel that it is true; and the manner in which that adventure
of mine in the old art gallery and at Auriccio's impressed my mind, and
the way in which my memory clung to it, seem to justify my feeling
rather than my belief. Whenever I visited Chicago, I went to the
gallery, more in the hope of seeing the girl whose only name to me was
the Empress than to gratify my cravings for art. I felt a boundless
pity for herand laughed at myself for taking so seriously an incident
which, in all likelihood, she herself dismissed with a few tears, a few
retrospective burnings of heart and cheek. But I never saw her. Once I
loitered for an hour about the boarding-house with the vine-clad porch,
while the boarders (mostly students, I judged) came and went; but
though I saw many young girls, the Empress was not among them. And all
this time the years were rolling on, and I was permitting my once
bright political career to blight and wither by my own neglect, as a
growth not worth caring for.
I became a private citizen in due time, but found no comfort in
leisure. I was in those doldrums which beset the politician when rivals
justle him from his little eminence. One who, for years, is annually or
biennially complimented by the suffrages of even a few thousands of his
fellow citizens, and is invited into the penetralia of a great
political party, is apt to regard himself, after a while, as peculiarly
deserving of the plaudits of the humble and the consideration of the
powerful. Then comes the inevitable hour when pussy finds himself
without a corner. The deep disgust for party and politics which then
takes possession of him demands change of scene and new surroundings.
Any flagging in partisan enthusiasm is sure to be attributed to
sore-headedness, and leads to charges of perfidy and thanklessness.
Yet, for him, the choice lies between abated zeal and hypocrisy,
inasmuch as no man can normally be as zealous for his party as the
fanatic into which the candidate or incumbent converts himself.
Underlying my whole frame of mind was the knowledge that, so far as
making a career was concerned, I had wasted several years of my life,
and had now to begin anew. Add to this a slight sense of having played
an unworthy part in life (although here I was unable to particularize),
and a new sense of aloofness from the people with whom I had been for
so long on terms of hearty and back-slapping familiarity, and no
further reason need be sought for a desire which came mightily upon me
to go away and begin life over again in a new milieu. In spite
of the mild opposition of my wife, this desire grew to a resolve; and I
came to look upon myself as a temporary sojourner in my own home.
Such was the state of our affairs, when a letter came from Mr.
Elkins (in lieu of the promised visit) urging me to remove to the then
obscure but since celebrated town of Lattimore.
I got to be too rich for Charley Harper's blood, said the letter,
among other things. I wanted as much in the way of salary as I could
earn, working for myself, and Charley kickedsaid the directors
wouldn't consent, and that such a salary list would be a black eye for
the Frugality and Indemnity if it showed up in its statements. So I
quit. I am loan agent for the company here, which gives me a visible
means of support, and keeps me from being vagged. But, in confidence, I
want to tell you that my main graft here is the putting in operation of
my boom-hatching scheme. Come out, and I'll enroll you as a member of
the band once more; for this is the coral atoll for me. You ought to
get out of that stagnant pond of yours, and come where the natatory
medium is fresh, clean, and thickly peopled with suckers, and a new run
of 'em coming on right soon. In other words, get into the swim.
After reading this letter and considering it as a whole, I was so
much impressed by it that Lattimore was added to the list of places I
meant to visit, on a tour I had planned for myself.
In the West, all roads run to or from Chicago. It is nearer to
almost any place by the way of Chicago than by any other route: so
Alice and I went to the city by the lake, as the beginning of our
prospecting tour. I took her to the art gallery and showed her just
where my two lovers had stood,telling her the story for the first
time. Then she wanted to eat a supper at Auriccio's; and after the play
we went there, and I was forced to describe the whole scene over again.
Didn't she see you at all? she asked.
Not at all, said I.
You are a good boy, said my wife, judging me by one act which she
approved. Kiss me.
This occurred after we reached our lodgings. I suggested as a change
of subject that my next day's engagements took me to the Stock Yards,
and I assumed that she would scarcely wish to accompany me.
I think I prefer the stores, said she, and the pictures. Maybe
I shall have an adventure.
At the big Exchange Building, I found that the acquaintance whom I
sought was absent from his office, and I roamed up and down the
corridors in search of him. As usual the gathering here was intensely
Western. There were bronzed cattlemen from every range from Amarillo to
the Belle Fourche, sturdy buyers of swine from Iowa and Illinois,
sombreroed sheepmen from New Mexico, and vikingesque Swedes from North
Dakota. Men there were wearing thousand-dollar diamonds in red flannel
shirts, solid gold watch-chains made to imitate bridle-bits, and heavy
golden bullocks sliding on horse-hair guards. It pleased me, as such a
crowd always does. The laughter was loud but it was free, and the
hunted look one sees on State Street and Michigan Avenue was absent.
I wish Alice had come, said I, noting the flutter of skirts in a
group of people in the corridor; and then, as I came near, the press
divided, and I saw something which drew my eyes as to a sight in which
lay mystery to be unraveled.
Facing me stood a stout farmer in a dark suit of common cut and
texture. He seemed, somehow, not entirely strange; but the petite
figure of the girl whose back was turned to me was what fixed my
She wore a smart traveling-gown of some pretty gray fabric, and bore
herself gracefully and with the air of dominating the group of
commission men among whom she stood. I noted the incurved spine, the
deep curves of the waist, and the liberal slope of the hips belonging
to a shapely little woman in whom slimness was mitigated in adorable
ways, which in some remote future bade fair to convert it into
matronliness. Under a broad hat there showed a wealth of red-brown
hair, drawn up like a sunburst from a slender little neck.
I have provided a box at Hooley's, said the head of a great
commission firm. Mrs. Johnson will be with us. We may count upon you?
I think so, said the girl, if papa hasn't made any engagements.
The stout farmer blushed as he looked down at his daughter.
Engagements, eh? No, sir! he replied. She runs things after the
steers is unloaded. Whatever the little gal says goes with me.
They turned, and as they came on down the hall, still chatting, I
saw her face, and knew it. It was the Empress! But even in that glimpse
I saw the change which years had brought. Now she ruled instead of
submitting; her voice, still soft and low, had lost its rustic
inflections; and in spite of the change in the surroundings,the leap
from the art gallery to the Stock Yards,there was more of the artist
now, and less of the farmer's lass. They turned into a suite of offices
Well, Mr. Barslow, said my friend, coming up. Glad to see you.
I've been hunting for you.
Who is that girl and her father? I asked.
One of the Johnson Commission Company's Shippers, said he,
Prescott, from Lattimore; I wish I could get his shipments.
No! said I, Not Lattimore!
Prescott of Lattimore, he repeated. Know anything of him?
N-no, said I. I have friends in that town.
I wish I had, was the reply; I'd try to get old Prescott's
* * * * *
There's destiny in this, said Alice, when I told her of my
encounter with the Empress and her father. Her living in Lattimore is
not an accident.
I doubt, said I, if anybody's is.
She looked nice, did she? Alice went on, and dressed well? and
without waiting for an answer added: Let's leave Chicago. I'm anxious
to get to Lattimore!
CHAPTER V. We Reach the Atoll.
So we journeyed on to Duluth, to St. Paul and Minneapolis, and to
the cities on the Missouri. It was at one of those recurrent periods
when the fever of material and industrial change and development breaks
out over the whole continent. The very earth seemed to send out
tingling shocks of some occult stimulus; the air was charged with the
ozone of hope; and subtle suggestions seemed to pass from mind to mind,
impelling men to dare all, to risk all, to achieve all. In every one of
these young cities we were astonished at the changes going on under our
very eyes. Streets were torn up for the building of railways, viaducts,
and tunnels. Buildings were everywhere in course of demolition, to make
room for larger edifices. Excavations yawned like craters at
street-corners. Steel pillars, girders, and trusses towered
skyward,skeletons to be clothed in flesh of brick and stone.
Suburbs were sprouting, almost daily, from the mould of the
market-gardens in the purlieus. Corporations were contending for the
possession of the natural highway approaches to each growing city.
Street-railway companies pushed their charters to passage at midnight
sessions of boards of aldermen, seized streets in the night-time, and
extended their metallic tentacles out into the fields of dazed farmers.
On the frontiers, counties were organized and populated in a season.
Every one of them had its two or three villages, which aped in puny
fashion the achievements of the cities. New pine houses dotted
prairies, unbroken save for the mile-long score of the delimiting plow.
Long trains of emigrant-cars moved continually westward. The world
seemed drunk with hope and enthusiasm. The fulfillment of Jim's
careless prophecy had burst suddenly upon us.
Such things as these were fresh in our memories when we reached
Lattimore. I had wired Elkins of our coming, and he met us at the
station with a carriage. It was one sunny September afternoon when he
drove us through the streets of our future home to the principal hotel.
We have supper at six, dinner at twelve-thirty, breakfast from
seven to ten, said Jim, as we alighted at the hotel. That's the sort
of bucolic municipality you've struck here; we'll shove all these meals
several hours down, when we get to doubling our population. You'll have
an hour to get freshened up for supper. Afterwards, if Mrs. Barslow
feels equal to the exertion, we'll take a drive about the town.
Lattimore was a pretty place then. Low, rounded hills topped with
green surrounded it. The river flowed in a broad, straight reach along
its southern margin. A clear stream, Brushy Creek, ran in a miniature
canyon of limestone, through the eastern edge of the town. On each side
of this brook, in lawns of vivid green, amid natural groves of oak and
elm, interspersed with cultivated greenery, stood the houses of the
well-to-do. Trees made early twilight in most of the streets.
People were out in numbers, driving in the cool autumnal evening. As
a handsome girl, a splendid blonde, drove past us, my wife spoke of the
excellent quality of the horseflesh we saw. Jim answered that Lattimore
was a center of equine culture, and its citizens wise in breeders'
lore. The appearance of things impressed us favorably. There was an air
of quiet prosperity about the place, which is unusual in Western towns,
where quietude and progress are apt to be thought incompatible. Jim
pointed out the town's natural advantages as we drove along.
What do you think of that, now? said he, waving his whip toward
the winding gorge of Brushy Creek.
It's simply lovely! said Alice, a little jewel of a place.
A bit of mountain scenery on the prairie, said Jim. And more than
that, or less than that, just as you look at it, it's the source from
which inexhaustible supplies of stone will be quarried when we begin to
But won't that spoil it? said Alice.
Well, yes; and down on that bottom we've found as good clay for
pottery, sewer-pipes, and paving-brick as exists anywhere. Back there
where you saw that bluff along the riverlooks as if it's sliding down
into the waterremember it? Well, there's probably the only place in
the world where there's just the juxtaposition of sand and clay and
chalk to make Portland cement. Supply absolutely unlimited! Why, there
ought to be a thousand men employed right now in those cement works.
Oh, I tell you, things'll hum here when we get these schemes working!
We laughed at him: his visualization of the cement works was so
I suppose you know where all the capital is coming from, said I,
to do all these things? For my part, I see no way of getting it except
our old plan of buccaneering.
Exactly my idea! said he. Didn't I write you that I'd enroll you
as a member of the band? Has Al ever told you, Mrs. Barslow, of our old
times, when we, as individuals, were passing through our
Often, Alice replied. He looks back upon his pirate days as a
time of Arcadian simplicity, 'Untouched by sorrow, and unsoiled by
I can easily understand, said Jim reflectively, how piracy might
appear in that roseate light after a few years of practical politics.
Now from the moral heights of a life-insurance man's point of view it's
So we rode on chatting and chaffing, now of the old time, now of the
new; and all the time I felt more and more impressed by the dissolving
views which Jim gave us of different parts of his program for making
Lattimore the metropolis of the world's granary, as he called the
surrounding country. As we topped a low hill on our way back, he pulled
up, to give us a general view of the town and suburbs, and of the great
expanse of farming country beyond. Between us and Lattimore was a mile
stretch of gently descending road, with grain-fields and farm-houses on
By the way, said he, do you see that white house and red barn in
the maple grove off to the right? Well, you remember Bill Trescott?
Neither of us could call such a person to mind.
Well, it's all right, I suppose, he went on in a tone implying
injury forgiven, but you mustn't let Bill know you've forgotten him.
The Trescotts used to live over by the Whitney schoolhouse in Greenwood
Township,right on the Pleasant Valley line, you know. He remembers
you folks, Al. I'll drive over that way.
There were beds of petunias and four-o'clocks to be seen dimly
glimmering in the dusk, as we drove through the broad gate. Men and
women were gathered in a group about the base of the windmill, as Jim's
loud whoa announced our arrival. The women melted away in the
direction of the house. The men stood at gaze.
Hello, Bill! shouted Jim. Come out here!
Oh, it's you, is it, Mr. Elkins, said a deep voice. I didn't know
Thought it was the sheriff with a summons, eh? Well, I guess
hardly! said Jim. Mr. Trescott, I want you to shake hands with our
old friend Mr. Barslow.
A heavy figure detached itself from the group, and, as it
approached, developed indistinctly the features of a brawny farmer,
with a short, heavy, dark beard.
Wal, I declare, I'm glad to see yeh! said he, as he grasped my
hand. I'd a'most forgot yeh, till Mr. Elkins told me you remembered my
whalin' them Dutch boys at a scale onct.
I had had no recollection of him; yet form and voice seemed vaguely
familiar. I assured him that my memory for names and faces was
excellent. After being duly presented to Mrs. Barslow, he urged us to
alight and come in. We offered as an excuse the lateness of the hour.
Why, you hain't seen my family yet, Mr. Barslow, said he. They'll
be disappointed if yeh don't come in.
I suggested that we were staying for a few days at the Centropolis;
and Alice added that we should be glad to see himself and Mrs. Trescott
there at any time during our stay. Elkins promised that we should all
drive out again.
Wal, now, you must, said Mr. Trescott. We must talk over ol'
Fight over old battles, replied Jim. All the battles were yours,
though, eh, Bill?
Huh, huh! chuckled Bill; fightin's no credit to any man; but I
'spose I fit my sheer when I was a boywhen I was a boy, y' know, Mrs.
Barslow, and had more sand than sense. Here, Josie, here's Mr. Elkins
and some old friends of mine. Mr. and Mrs. Barslow, my daughter.
She was a little slim slip of a thing, in white, and emerged from
the shrubbery at Mr. Trescott's call. She bowed to us, and said she was
sorry that we could not stop. Her voice was sweet, and there was
something unexpectedly cool and self-possessed in her intonation. It
was not in the least the speech of the ordinary neat-handed Phyllis or
Neæra; nor was her attitude at all countrified as she stood with her
hand on her father's arm. The increasing darkness kept us from seeing
Josie's my right-hand man, said her father. Half the business of
the farm stops when Josie goes away.
My wife expressed her admiration for Lattimore and its environs, and
especially for so much of the Trescott farm as could be seen in the
deepening gloaming. The flowers, she said, took her back to her
Let me give you these, said the girl, handing Alice a great bunch
of blossoms which she had been cutting when her father called, and had
held in her hands as we talked. My wife thanked her, and buried her
face in them, as we bade the Trescotts good-night and drove home.
That girl, said Jim, as we spun along the road in the light of the
rising moon, is a crackerjack. Bill thinks the world of her, and she
certainly gives him a mother's care!
She seems nice, said Alice, and so refined, apparently.
Been well educated, said Jim, and got a head, besides. You'll
like her; she knows Europe better than some folks know their own front
I was surprised at the vividness of my memory of Bill's youthful
combats, said I.
Jim's laugh rang out heartily through the Brushy Creek gorge.
Well, I supposed you remembered those things, of course, said he,
and so I insinuated some impression of the delight with which you
dwell upon the stories of his prowess. It made him feel good.... I'm
spoiling Bill, I guess, with these tales. He'll claim to have a private
graveyard next. As harmless a fellow as you ever saw, and the best
cattle-feeder hereabouts. Got a good farm out there, Bill has; we may
need it for stock yards or something, later on.
Why not hire a corps of landscape-gardeners, and make a park of
it? I inquired sarcastically. We'll certainly need breathing-spaces
for the populace.
Good idea! he returned gravely. And as he halted the equipage at
the hotel, he repeated meditatively: A mighty good idea, Al; we must
figure on that a little.
We were tired to silence when we reached our rooms; so much so that
nothing seemed to make a defined and sharp impression upon my mind. I
kept thinking all the time that I must have been mistaken in my first
thought that I had never known the Trescotts.
Their voices seem familiar to me, said I, and yet I can't
associate them with the old home at all. It's very odd!
As Alice stood before the mirror shaking down and brushing her hair,
she said: Do you suppose he thought you in earnest about that absurd
No, I answered, he understood me well enough; but what puzzles me
is the question, was he in earnest?
* * * * *
In the middle of the night I woke with a perfectly clear idea as to
the identity of the Trescotts! Prescott, Trescott! Josie, Josephine the
Empress! And then the voice and figure!
Why are you sitting up in bed? inquired Alice.
I have made a discovery, said I. That man at the Stock Yards
meant Trescott, not Prescott.
I don't understand, said she sleepily.
In a word, said I, the girl who gave you the flowers is the
Albert Barslow! said Alice. Why
My wife was silent for a long time.
I knew we'd meet her, she said at last. It is fate.
CHAPTER VI. I am Inducted into the
Cave, and Enlist.
Here's the cave, said Jim, at the door of his office, next
morning. As prospective joint-proprietor and co-malefactor, I bid you
The smiles with which the employees resumed their work indicated
that the extraordinary character of this welcome was not lost upon
them. The office was on the ground-floor of one of the more pretentious
buildings of Lattimore's main street. The post-office was on one side
of it, and the First National Bank on the other. Over it were the
offices of lawyers and physicians. It was quite expensively fitted up;
and the plate-glass front glittered with gold-and-black sign-lettering.
The chairs and sofas were upholstered in black leather. On the walls
hung several decorative advertisements of fire-insurance companies, and
maps of the town, county, and state. Rolls of tracing-paper and
blueprints lay on the flat-topped tables, reminding one of the office
of an architect or civil engineer. A thin young man worked at books,
standing at a high desk; and a plump young woman busily clicked off
typewritten matter with an up-to-date machine.
You'll find some books and papers on the table in the next room,
said Jim, as I finished my first look about. I'll ask you to amuse
yourself with 'em for a little while, until I can dispose of my
morning's mail; after which we'll resume our hunt for resources. We
haven't any morning paper yet, and the evening Herald is shipped
in by freight and edited with a saw. But it's the best we've gotyet.
He read his letters, ran his eyes over his newspapers and a magazine
or two, and dictated some correspondence, interrupted occasionally by
callers, some of whom he brought into the room where I was whiling away
the time, examining maps, and looking over out-of-date copies of the
local papers. One of these callers was Mr. Hinckley, the cashier of the
bank, who came to see about some insurance matters. He was spare,
aquiline, and white-mustached; and very courteously wished Lattimore
the good fortune of securing so valuable an acquisition as ourselves.
It would place Lattimore under additional obligations to Mr. Elkins,
who was proving himself such an effective worker in all public matters.
Mr. Elkins, said he, has to a wonderful degree identified himself
with the material progress of the city. He is constantly bringing here
enterprising and energetic business men; and we could better afford to
lose many an older citizen.
I asked Mr. Hinckley as to the length of his own residence in
I helped to plat the town, sir, said he. I carried the chain when
these streets were surveyed,a boy just out of Bowdoin College. That
was in '55. I staged it for four hundred miles to get here. Aleck
Macdonald and I came together, and we've both staid from that day. The
Indians were camped at the mouth of Brushy Creek; and except for old
Pierre Lacroix, a squaw-man, we were for a month the only white men in
these parts. Then General Lattimore came with a party of surveyors, and
by the fall there was quite a village here.
Jim came in with another gentleman, whom he introduced as Captain
Tolliver. The Captain shook my hand with profuse politeness.
I am delighted to see you, suh, said he. Any friend of Mr. Elkins
I shall be proud to know. I heah that Mrs. Barslow is with you. I
trust, suh, that she is well?
I informed him that my wife was in excellent health, being
completely recovered from the fatigue of her journey.
Ah! this aiah, this aiah, Mr. Barslow! It is like wine in its
invigorating qualities, like wine, suh. Look at Mr. Hinckley, hyah,
doing the work of two men fo' a lifetime; and younge' now than any of
us. Come, suh, and make yo' home with us. You nevah can regret it.
Delighted to have you call at my office, suh. I am proud to have met
you, and hope to become better acquainted with you. I hope Mrs.
Tulliver and Mrs. Barslow may soon meet. Good-morning, gentlemen. And
he hurried out, only to reappear as soon as Mr. Hinckley was gone.
By the way, Mr. Barslow, he whispered, should you come to
Lattimore, as I have no doubt you will, I have some of the choicest
residence property in the city, which I shall be mo' than glad to show
you. Title perfect, no commissions to pay, city water, gas, and
electric light in prospect. Cain't yo' come and look it ovah now, suh?
Who is this Captain Tolliver, Jim, I asked as we went out of the
office together, and what is he?
In other words, 'Who and what art thou, execrable shape?' Well,
now, don't ask me. I've known him for years; in fact, he suggested to
me the possibilities of this burg. In a way, the city is indebted to
him for my presence here. But don't ask me about himstudy him. And
don't buy lots from him. The Captain has his failings, but he has also
his strong points and his uses; and I'll be mistaken if he isn't cast
for a fairly prominent part in the drama we're about to put on here.
But don't spoil your enjoyment by having him described to you. Let him
dawn on you by degrees.
That day I met most of the prominent men of the town. Jim took me
into the banks, the shops, and the offices of the leading professional
gentlemen. He informed them that I was considering the matter of coming
to live among them; and I found them very friendly, and much interested
in our proposed change of residence. They all treated Jim with respect,
and his manner toward them had a dignity which I had not looked for.
Evidently he was making himself felt in the community.
When we returned to the Centropolis at noon, we found Mrs. Trescott
and her daughter chatting with my wife. The elder woman was
ill-groomed, as are all women of her class in comparison with their
town sisters, and angular. I knew the type so well that I could read
the traces of farm cares in her face and form. The serving of gangs of
harvesters and threshers, the ever-recurring problems of butter, eggs,
and berries, the unflagging fight, without much domestic help, for
neatness and order about the house, had impressed their stamp upon Mrs.
Trescott. But she was chatting vivaciously, and assuring Mrs. Barslow
that such a thing as staying longer in town that morning was
I can feel in my bones, said she, that there's something wrong at
You always have that feeling, said her daughter, as soon as you
pass outside the gate.
And I'm usually right about it, said Mrs. Trescott. It isn't any
use. My system has got into that condition in which I'm in misery if
I'm off that farm. Josie drags me away from it sometimes; and I do
enjoy meeting people! But I like to meet 'em out there the best; and I
want to urge you to come often, Mrs. Barslow, while you're here. And in
case you move here, I hope you'll like us and the farm well enough so
that we'll see a good deal of you.
I was presented to Mrs. Trescott, and reintroduced to the young
lady, with whom Alice seemed already on friendly terms. I was surprised
at this, for she was not prone to sudden friendships. There was
something so attractive in the girl, however, that it went far to
explain the phenomenon. For one thing, there was in her manner that
same steadiness and calm which I had noticed in her voice in the dusk
last night. It gave one the impression that she could not be surprised
or startled, that she had seen or thought out all possible combinations
of events, and knew of their sequences, or adjusted herself to things
by some all-embracing rule, by which she attained that repose of hers.
The surprising thing about it, to my mind, was to find this exterior in
Bill Trescott's daughter. I had seen the same thing once or twice in
people to whom I thought it had come as the fruit of wide experience in
While Miss Trescott was slim, and rather below the medium in height,
she was not at all thin; and had the great mass of ruddy dark hair and
fine brown eyes which I remembered so well, and a face which would have
been pale had it not been for the tanthe only thing about her which
suggested those occupations by which she became her father's
right-hand man. There was intelligence in her face, and a grave smile
in her eyes, which rarely extended to her handsome mouth. If mature in
face, form, and manner, she was young in yearssome years younger than
Alice. I hoped that she might stay to dinner; but she went away with
her mother. In her absence, I devoted some time to praising her. Jim
failed to join in my pæans further than to give a general assent; but
he grew unaccountably mirthful, as if something good had happened to
him of which he had not yet told us.
I have invited a few people to my parlors this evening, said he,
and, of course, you will be the guests of honor.
My wife demurred. She had nothing to wear, and even if she had, I
was without evening dress. The thing seemed out of the question.
Oh, we can't let that stand in the way, said he. So far as your
own toilet is concerned, I have nothing to say except that you are
known to be making a hurried visit, and I have an abiding faith, based
on your manner of stating your trouble, that it can be remedied. I saw
your eye take on a far-away look as you planned your costume, even
while you were declaring that you couldn't do it. Didn't I, now?
You certainly did not, said Alice; and then I noticed the absorbed
look myself. But even if I can manage it, how about Albert?
I'll tell you about Albert. I'll bet two to one there won't be a
suit of evening clothes worn. The dress suit may come in here with
street cars and passenger elevators, but it lacks a good deal of being
here yet, except in the most sporadic and infrequent way. And this
thing is to be so absolutely informal that it would make the natives
stare. You wouldn't wear it if you had it, Al.
Who will come? said Mrs. Barslow.
Oh, a couple of dozen ladies and gentlemen, business men and
doctors and lawyers and their women-folks. They'll stray in from eight
to ten and find something to eat on the sideboard. They'll have the
happiness of meeting you, and you can see what the people you are
thinking of living among and doing business with are like. It's a
necessary part of your visit; and you can't get out of it now, for I've
taken the liberty of making all the arrangements. And, as a matter of
fact, you don't want to do so, do you, now?
Thus appealed to, Alice consented. Nothing was said to me about it,
my willingness being presumed.
The guests that evening were almost exclusively men whom I had met
during the day, and members of their families. In the absence of any
more engaging topic, we discussed Lattimore as our possible future
I have always felt, said Mr. Hinckley, who was one of the guests,
that this is the natural site of a great city. These valleys,
centering here like the spokes of a wheel, are ready-made
railway-routes. In the East there is a city of from fifty thousand to
three times that, every hundred miles or so. Why shouldn't it be so
Suh, said Captain Tolliver, the thing is inevitable. Somewhah in
this region will grow up a metropolis. Shall it be hyah, o' at
Fairchild, o' Angus Falls? If the people of Lattimore sit supinely,
suh, and let these country villages steal from huh the queenship which
God o'dained fo' huh when He placed huh in this commandin' site, then,
suh, they ah too base to be wo'thy of the suhvices of gentlemen.
I've always been taught, said Mrs. Trescott, that the credit of
placing her in this site belonged to either Mr. Hinckley or General
Really, said Miss Addison to me, I don't see how they can laugh
at such irreverence!
I think, said Miss Hinckley in my other ear, that Mr. Elkins
expressed the whole truth in the matter of the rivalry of these three
towns, when he said that when two ride on a horse, one must ride
behind. Aren't his quotations sosoilluminating?
I looked about at the company. There were Mr. Hinckley, Mrs.
Hinckley, their daughter, whom I recognized as the splendid blonde
whose pacers had passed us when we were out driving, Mrs. Trescott and
her daughter, and Captain and Mrs. Tolliver. Those present were plainly
of several different sets and cliques. Mrs. Hinckley hoped that my wife
would join the Equal Rights Club, and labor for the enfranchisement of
women. She referred, too, to the eloquence and piety of her pastor, the
Presbyterian minister, while Mrs. Tolliver quoted Emerson, and invited
Alice to join, as soon as we removed, the Monday Club of the Unitarian
Church, devoted to the study of his works. Mr. Macdonald,
red-whiskered, weather-beaten, and gigantic, fidgeted about the
punch-bowl a good deal; and replying to some chance remark made by
Alice, ventured the opinion that the grass was gettin' mighty short on
the ranges. Miss Addison, who came with her cousins the Lattimores,
looked with disapproval upon the punch, and disclosed her devotion to
the W. C. T. U. and the Ladies' Aid Society of the Methodist Church.
The Lattimores were Will Lattimore and his wife. I learned that he was
the son of the General, and Jim's lawyer; and that they went rarely
into society, being very exclusive. This was communicated to me by Mrs.
Ballard, who brought Miss Ballard with her. She asked in tones of the
intensest interest if we played whist; while Miss Ballard suggested
that about the only way we could find to enjoy ourselves in such a
little place would be to identify ourselves with the dancing-party and
card-club set. I began to suspect that life in Lattimore would not be
without its complexities.
Mr. Trescott came in for a moment only, for his wife and daughter.
Miss Trescott was not to be found at first, but was discovered in the
bay-window with Jim and Miss Hinckley, looking over some engravings.
Mr. Elkins took her down to her carriage, and I thought him a long time
gone, for the host. As soon as he returned, however, the conversation
again turned to the dominant thought of the gathering, municipal
expansion. And I noted that the points made were Jim's. He had already
imbued the town with his thoughts, and filled the mouths of its
citizens with his arguments.
After they left, we sat with Jim and talked.
Well, how do you like 'em? said he.
Why, said Alice, they're very cordial.
Heterogeneous, eh? he queried.
Yes, said she, but very cordial. I am surprised to feel how
little I dislike them.
As for me, I began to look upon Lattimore with more favor. I began
to catch Jim's enthusiasm and share his confidence. As we smoked
together in his rooms that evening, he made me the definite proposal
that I go into partnership with him. We talked about the business, and
discussed its possibilities.
I don't ask you to believe all my prophecies, said he; but isn't
the situation fairly good, just as it is?
I think well of it, I answered, and it's mighty kind of you to
ask me to come. I'll go as far as to say that if it depends solely on
me, we shall come. As for these prophecies of yours, I am in candor
bound to say that I half believe them.
Now you are shouting, said he. Never better prophecies
anywhere. But consider the matter aside from them. Then all we clean up
in the prophecy department will be velvet, absolute velvet!
I can add something to the output of the prophecy department, said
Alice, when I repeated the phrase; and that is that there will be some
affairs of the heart mingled with the real estate and insurance before
long. I can see them in embryo now.
If it's Jim and Miss Trescott you mean, I wish the affair well,
said I. I'm quite charmed with her.
Well, said Alice, from the standpoint of most men, Miss Hinckley
isn't to be left out of the reckoning in such matters. What a face and
figure she has! Miss Addison is too prudish and churchified; but I like
Yes, said I; but Miss Trescott seems, somehow, to have been known
to one, in some tender and touching relation. There's that about her
which appeals to one, like some embodiment of the abstract idea of
woman. That's why one feels as if he had risked his life for her, and
protected her, and seen her suffer wrong, and all that
That's only because of that affair you told me of, said my wife.
Since I've seen her, I've made up my mind that you misconstrued the
matter utterly. There was really nothing to it.
In a week I wrote to Mr. Elkins, accepting his proposal, and
promising to close up my affairs, remove to Lattimore, and join with
I do not feel myself equal to playing the part of either Romulus or
Remus in founding your new Rome, I wrote; but I think as a writer of
fire-insurance policies, and keeping the office work up, I may prove
myself not entirely a deadhead. My wife asks how the breathing-spaces
for the populace are coming on?
And the die was cast!
CHAPTER VII. We make our Landing.
Had I known how cordially our neighbors would greet our return, or
how many of them would view our departure with apparently sincere
regret, I might have been slower in giving Jim my promise. I proceeded,
however, to carry it out; but it was nearly six months before I could
pull myself and my little fortune out of the place into which we had
Mr. Elkins kept me well informed regarding Lattimore affairs; and
the Herald followed me home. Jim's letters were long typewritten
communications, dictated at speed, and mailed, sometimes one a day, at
other times at intervals of weeks.
This is a sure-enough 'winter of our discontent,' one of these
letters runs, but the scope of our operations will widen as the frost
comes out of the ground. We're now confined to the psychical field.
Subjectively speaking, though, the plot thickens. Captain Tolliver is
in the secondary stages of real-estate dementia, and spreads the
contagion daily. There's no quarantine regulation to cover the case,
and Lattimore seems doomed to the acme of prosperity. This is the age
of great cities, saith the Captain, and that Lattimore is not already a
town of 150,000 people is one of the strangest, one of the most
inexplicable things in the world, in view of the distance we are lag of
the country about us, so far as development is concerned. And as our
beginning has been tardy, so will our progress be rapid, even as waters
long dammed up rush out to devour the plains, etc., etc.
In this we are all agreed. We want a good, steady, natural
growthand no boom.
When a boom recognizes itself as such, it's all over, and the stuff
off. The time for letting go of a great wheel is when it starts down
hill. But our wheels are all going upeven if they are all in our
heads, as yet.
You will remember the railway connection of which I spoke to you?
Well, that thing has assumed, all of a sudden, a concreteness as
welcome as it is unexpected. Ballard showed me a telegram yesterday
from lower Broadway (the heart of Darkest N. Y.) which tends to prove
that people there are ready to finance the deal. It would have amused
you to see the horizontality of the coat-tails of the management of the
Lattimore & Great Western, as they flaxed round getting up a directors'
meeting, so as to have a real, live directorate of this great
transcontinental line for the wolves of Wall Street to do business
with! Things like this are what you miss by hibernating there, instead
of dropping everything and applying here for your pro rata share of the
gayety of nations and the concomitant scads.
I was elected president of the road, and as soon as we get a little
track, and an engine, I expect to obtain an exchange of passes with all
my fellow monopolists in North America. I at once fired back an answer
to Ballard's telegram, which must have produced an impression upon the
Gould and Vanderbilt interestsif they got wind of it. If the L. &G.
W. should pass the paper stage next summer, it will do a whole lot
towards carrying this burg beyond the hypnotic period of development.
The Angus Falls branch is going to build in next summer, I am
confident, and that means another division headquarters and, probably,
machine-shops. I'm working with some of the trilobites here to form a
pool, and offer the company grounds for additional yards and a
roundhouse and shops. Captain Tolliver interviewed General Lattimore
about it, and got turned down.
'He told me, suh,' reported the Captain, in a fine white passion,
'that if any railway system desiahs to come to Lattimore, it has his
puhmission! That the Injuns didn't give him any bonus when he came; and
that he had to build his own houses and yahds, by gad, at his own
expense, and defend 'em, too, and that if any railroad was thinkin' of
comin' hyah, it was doubtless because it was good business fo' 'em to
come; and that if they wanted any of his land, were willing to pay him
his price, there wouldn't be any difficulty about theiah getting it.
And that if there should arise any difference, which he should deeply
regret, but would try to live through, the powah of eminent domain with
which railways ah clothed will enable the company to get what land is
necessary by legal means.
'I could take these observations,' said the Captain, 'as nothing
except a gratuitous insult to one who approached him, suh, in a spirit
of pure benevolence and civic patriotism. It shows the kind of tyrants
who commanded the oppressors of the South, suh! Only his gray hairs
protected him, suh, only his gray hairs!'
It's a little hard to separate the General from the Captain, in
this report of the committee on railway extensions, said my wife.
The only thing that's clear about it, said I, is that Jim is
having a good deal of fun with the Captain.
This became clearer as the correspondence went on.
Tolliver thinks, said he, in another letter, that the Angus Falls
extension can be pulled through. However, I recall that only yesterday
the Captain, in private, denounced the citizens of Lattimore as beneath
the contempt of gentlemen of breadth of view. 'I shall dispose of my
holdin's hyah,' said he, with a stately sweep indicative of their
extent, 'at any sacrifice, and depaht, cuhsin' the day I devoted myself
to the redemption of such cattle.'
But, at that particular moment, he had just failed in an attempt to
sell Bill Trescott a bunch of choice outlying gold bricks, and was
somewhat heated with wine. This to the haughty Southron was ample
excuse for confiding to me the round, unvarnished truth about us
Josie and I often talk of you and your wife. I don't know what I'd
do out here if it weren't for Josie. She refuses to enthuse over our
'natural, healthy growth,' which we look for; but I guess that's
because she doesn't care for the things that the rest of us are
striving for. But she's the only person here with whom one can really
converse. You'd be astonished to see how pretty she is in her furs, and
set like a jewel in my new sleigh; but I'm becoming keenly aware of the
We were afterwards told that the trilobites had shaken off their
fossilhood, and that the Angus Falls extension, with the engine-house
and machine-shops, had been landed.
This, he wrote, means enough new families to make a noticeable
increase in our population. Things will be popping here soon. Come on
and help shake the popper; hurry up with your moving, or it will all be
over, including the shouting.
We were not entirely dependent upon Jim's letters for Lattimore
news. Mrs. Barslow kept up a desultory correspondence with Miss
Trescott, begun upon some pretext and continued upon none at all. In
one of these letters Josie (for so we soon learned to call her) wrote:
Our little town is changing so that it no longer seems familiar.
Not that the change is visible. Beyond an unusual number of strangers
or recent comers, there is nothing new to strike the eye. But the talk
everywhere is of a new railroad and other improvements. One needs only
to shut one's eyes and listen, to imagine that the town is already a
real city. Mr. Elkins seems to be the center of this new civic
self-esteem. The air is full of it, and I admit that I am affected by
it. I have
'A feeling, as when eager crowds await,
Before a palace gate,
Some wondrous pageant.'
You are indebted to Captain Tolliver for the quotation, and to Mr.
Elkins for the idea. The Captain induced me to read the book in which I
found the lines. He stigmatizes the preference given to the Northern
poetsLongfellow, for instanceover Timrod as 'the crowning infamy of
American letters.' He has taken the trouble to lay out a course of
study for me, the object of which is to place me right in my
appreciation of the literary men of the South. It includes Pollard's
'Lost Cause' and the works of W. G. Simms. I have not fully promised to
follow it to the end. Timrod, however, is a treat.
That last quiet winter will always be set apart in my memory, as a
time like no other. It was a sitting down on a milestone to rest. Back
of us lay the busy pastbusy with trivial things, it seemed to me, but
full of varied activity nevertheless. A boy will desire mightily to
finish a cob-house; and when it is done he will smilingly knock it
about the barn floor. So I was tearing down and leaving the fabric of
relationship which I had once prized so highly.
The life upon which I expected to enter promised well. In fact, to a
man of medium ability, only, and no training in large affairs, it
promised exceedingly well. I knew that Jim was strong, and that his old
regard for me had taken new life and a firm hold upon him. But when,
removed from his immediate influence, I looked the situation in the
face, the future loomed so mysteriously bizarre that I shrank from it.
All his skimble-skamble talk about psychology and hypnotism, and that
other rambling discourse of pirate caves and buccaneering cruises, made
me feel sometimes as if I were about to form a partnership with
Aladdin, or the King of the Golden Mountain. If he had asked me,
merely, to come to Lattimore and go into the real estate and insurance
business with him, I am sure I should have had none of this mental
vertigo. Yet what more had he done?
As to the boom, I had, as yet, not a particle of objective
confidence in it; but, subconsciously, I felt, as did the town doomed
to prosperity, a sense of impending events. In spite of some
presentiments and doubts, it was, on the whole, with high hopes that
we, on an aguish spring day, reached Lattimore with our stuff (as the
Scriptures term it), and knew that, for weal or woe, it was our home.
Jim was again at the station to meet us, and seemed delighted at our
arrival. I thought I saw some sort of absent-mindedness or absorbedness
in his manner, so that he seemed hardly like himself. Josie was there
with him, and while she and Alice were greeting each other, I saw Jim
scanning the little crowd at the station as if for some other arrival.
At last, his eye told me that whatever it was for which he was looking,
he had found it; and I followed his glance. It rested on the last
person to alight from the traina tall, sinewy, soldierly-built
youngish man, who wore an overcoat of black, falling away in front, so
as to reveal a black frock coat tightly buttoned up and a snowy
shirt-front with a glittering gem sparkling from the center of it. On
his head was a shining silk hata thing so rare in that community as
to be noticeable, and to stamp the wearer as an outsider. His beard was
clipped close, and at the chin ran out into a pronounced Vandyke point.
His mustaches were black, heavy, and waxed. His whole external
appearance betokened wealth, and he exuded mystery. He had not taken
two steps from the car before the people on the platform were standing
on tiptoe to see him.
Bus to the Centropolis? queried the driver of the omnibus.
The stranger looked at the conveyance, filled as it was with a load
of traveling men and casuals; and, frowning darkly, turned to the negro
who accompanied him, saying, Haven't you any carriage here, Pearson?
Yes, sah, responded the servant, pointing to a closed vehicle.
Right hyah, sah.
My wife stood looking, with a little amused smile, at the
picturesque group, so out of the ordinary at the time and place. Miss
Trescott was gazing intently at the stranger, and at the moment when he
spoke she clutched my wife's arm so tightly as to startle her. I heard
Alice make some inquiry as to the cause of her agitation, and as I
looked at her, I could see in the one glance her face, gone suddenly
white as death, and the dark visage of the tall stranger. And it seemed
to me as if I had seen the same thing before.
Then, the negro pointing the way to the closed carriage, the group
separated to left and right, the stranger passed through to the
carriage, and the picture, and with it my odd mental impression,
dissolved. The negro lifted two or three heavy bags to the coachman,
gave the transfer man some baggage-checks, and the equipage moved away
toward the hotel. All this took place in a moment, during which the
usual transactions on the platform were suspended. The conductor failed
to give the usual signal for the departure of the train. The engineer
leaned from the cab and gazed.
Jim's eye rested on the stranger and his servant for an instant
only; but during that time he seemed to take an observation, come to a
conclusion, and dismiss the whole matter.
Here, John, said he to the drayman, take these trunks to the
Centropolis. We'd like 'em this week, too. None of that old trick of
yours of dumping 'em in the crick, you know!
They'll be up there in five minutes all right, Mr. Elkins, said
John, grinning at Jim's allusion to some accident, the knowledge of
which appeared to be confined to himself and Mr. Elkins, and to
constitute a bond of sympathy between them. Jim turned to us with
redoubled heartiness, all his absent-mindedness gone.
I'll drive you to the hotel, said Jim. You'll
Miss Trescott is ill said Alice.
Not at all, said Josie; it has passed entirely! Only, when you
have taken Mr. and Mrs. Barslow to the hotel, will you please take me
home? Our little supper-partyI don't feel quite equal to it, if you
will excuse me!
CHAPTER VIII. A Welcome to Wall
Street and Us.
Welcome! intoned Captain Tolliver, with his hat in his hand,
bowing low to Mrs. Barslow. Welcome, Madam and suh, in the capacity of
Lattimoreans! That we shall be the bettah fo' yo' residence among us
the' can be no doubt. That you will be prospahed beyond yo' wildest
dreams I believe equally cehtain. Welcome!
This address was delivered within thirty seconds of the time of our
arrival at our old rooms in the Centropolis. The Captain saluted us in
a manner extravagantly polite, mysteriously enthusiastic. The air of
mystery was deepened when he called again to see Mr. Elkins in the
evening and was invited in.
Did you-all notice that distinguished and opulent-looking gentleman
who got off the train this evening? said he in a stage whisper. Mahk
my words, the coming of such men, his coming, is fraught with
the deepest significance to us all. All my holdin's ah withdrawn from
mahket until fu'the' developments!
Seems to travel in style, said Jim; all sorts of good clothes,
colored body-servant, closed carriage ordered by wireit does look
juicy, don't it, now?
He has the entiah second flo' front suite. The niggah has already
sent out fo' a bahbah, said the Captain. Lattimore has at last
attracted the notice of adequate capital, and will now assume huh true
place in the bright galaxy of American cities. Mr. Barslow, I shall ask
puhmission to call upon you in the mo'nin' with reference to a project
which will make the fo'tunes of a dozen men, and that within the next
ninety days. Good evenin', suh; good evenin', Madam. I feel that you
have come among us at a propitious moment!
The Captain merely hints at the truth which struggles in him for
utterance, said Jim. I prove this by informing you that I couldn't
get you a house. This shows, too, that the census returns are a calumny
upon Lattimore. You'll have to stay at the Centropolis until something
turns up or you can build.
Oh, dear! said Alice. Hotel life isn't living at all. I hope it
won't be long.
It will have its advantages for Al, said Mr. Elkins. This
financial maelstrom, which will draw everything to Lattimore, will have
its core right in this hotela mighty good place to be. Things of all
kinds have been floating about in the air for months; the precipitation
is beginning now. The psychological moment has arrivedyou have
brought it with you, Mrs. Barslow. The moon-flower of Lattimore's
'gradual, healthy growth' is going to burst, and that right soon.
Has Captain Tolliver infected you? inquired Alice. He told us the
same thing, with less of tropes and figures.
On any still morning, said Jim, you can hear the wheels go round
in the Captain's head; but his instinct for real-estate conditions is
as accurate as a pocket-gopher's. The Captain, in a hysterical sort of
way, is right: I consider that a cinch. Good-night, friends, and
pleasant dreams. I expect to see you at breakfast; but if I shouldn't,
Al, you'll come aboard at nine, won't you, and help run up the Jolly
Roger? I think I smell pieces-of-eight in the air! And, by the way,
Miss Trescott says for me to assure you that her vertigo, which she had
for the first time in her life, is gone, and she never felt better.
As Mr. Elkins passed from our parlor, he let in a bell-boy with the
card of Mr. Clifford Giddings, representing the Lattimore Morning
See him down in the lobby, said Alice.
I want a story, said he as we met, on the city and its future.
The Herald readers will be glad of anything from Mr. Barslow,
whose coming they have so long looked forward to, as intimately
connected with the city's development.
My dear sir, I replied, somewhat astonished at the importance
which he was pleased to attach to my arrival, abstractly, my removal
to Lattimore is my best testimony on that; concretely, I ought to ask
information of you.
We sat down in a corner of the lobby, our chairs side by side,
facing opposite ways. He lighted a cigar, and gave me one. In looks he
was young; in behavior he had the self-possession and poise of
maturity. He wore a long mackintosh which sparkled with mist. His
slouch hat looked new and was carefully dinted. His dress was almost
natty in an unconventional way, and his manners accorded with his garb.
He acted as if for years we had casually met daily. His tone and
attitude evinced respect, was entirely free from presumption, equally
devoid of reserve, carried with it no hint of familiarity, but assumed
a perfect understanding. The barrier which usually keeps strangers
apart he neither broke down, which must have been offensive, nor
overleaped, which would have been presumptuous. He covered it with that
demeanor of his, and together we sat down upon it.
I thought the Herald was an evening paper, said I.
It was, in the days of yore, he replied; but Mr. Elkins happened
to see me in Chicago one day, and advised me to come out and look the
old thing over with a view to purchasing the plant. You observe the
result. As fellow immigrants, I hope there will be a bond of sympathy
between us. You think, of course, that Lattimore is a coming city?
Its geographical situation seems to render its development
inevitable, doesn't it? And, he went on, the railway conditions seem
peculiarly promising just now?
Yes, said I, but the natural resources of the city and the
surrounding country appeal most strongly to me.
They are certainly very exceptional, aren't they? said he, as if
the matter had never occurred to him before. Then he went on telling me
things, more than asking questions, about the jobbing trades, the brick
and tile and associated industries, the cement factory, which he spoke
of as if actually in esse, the projected elevators, the
flouring-mills, and finally returned to railway matters.
What is your opinion of the Lattimore &Great Western, Mr. Barslow?
I cannot say that I have any, I answered, except that its
construction would bring great good to Lattimore.
It could scarcely fail, said he, to bring in two or three systems
which we now lack, could it?
I very sincerely said that I did not know. After a few more
questions concerning our plans for the future, Mr. Giddings vanished
into the night, silently, as an autumn leaf parting from its bough. I
thought of him no more until I unfolded the Herald in the
morning as we sat at breakfast, and saw that my interview was made a
feature of the day's news.
Mr. Albert F. Barslow, it read, of the firm of Elkins &Barslow,
is stopping at the Centropolis. He arrived by the 6:15 train last
evening, and with his family has taken a suite of rooms pending the
erection of a residence. They have not definitely decided as to the
location of their new home; but it may confidently be stated that they
will build something which will be a notable addition to the
architectural beauties of Lattimorealready proud of her title, the
City of Homes.
I am very glad to know about this, said Alice.
Your man Giddings has nerve, whatever else he may lack, said I to
the smiling Elkins across the table. Am I obliged to make good all
these representations? I ask, that I may know the rules of the game,
One rule is that you mustn't deny any accusations of future
magnificence, for two reasons: they may come true, and they help things
on. You are supposed to have left your modesty in cold storage
somewhere. Read on.
Mr. Barslow, I read, has long been a most potent political factor
in his native state, but is, first of all, a business man. He brings
his charming young wife
Really, a most discriminating journalist, interjected Alice.
and social circles, as well as the business world, will find them
a most desirable accession to Lattimore's population.
Why this is absolute, slavish devotion to facts, said Jim; where
does the word-painting come in?
Here it is, said I.
Mr. Barslow is some years under middle age, and looks the intense
modern business man in every feature. His mind seems to have already
become saturated with the conception of the enormous possibilities of
Lattimore. He impresses those who have met him as one of the few men
capable of pulling his share in double harness with James R. Elkins.
The fellow piles it on a little strong at times, doesn't he, Mrs.
Barslow? said Jim.
He brings to our city, I read on, his vigorous mind, his fortune,
and a determination never to rest until the city passes the 100,000
mark. To a Herald representative, last night, he spoke strongly
and eloquently of our great natural resources.
Then followed a skillfully handled expansion of our tête-à-tête
talk in the lobby.
Mr. Barslow, the report went on, very courteously declined to
discuss the L. &G. W. situation. It seems evident, however, from
remarks dropped by him, that he regards the construction of this road
as inevitable, and as a project which, successfully carried out, cannot
fail to make Lattimore the point to which all the Western and
Southwestern systems of railways must converge.
You're doing it like a veteran! cried Jim. Admirable! Just the
proper infusion of mystery; I couldn't have done better myself.
Credit it all to Giddings, I protested. And note that the center
of the stage is reserved to our mysterious fellow lodger and
Yes, I saw that, said Jim. Isn't Giddings a peach? Let Mrs.
Barslow hear it.
She ought to be able to hear these headlines, said I, without any
reading: 'J. Bedford Cornish arrives! Wall Street's Millions On the
Ground in the Person of One of Her Great Financiers! Bull Movement in
Real Estate Noted Last Night! Does He Represent the Great Railway
Real estate and financial circles, ran the article under these
headlines, are thrown into something of a fever by the arrival, on the
6:15 express last evening, of a gentleman of distinguished appearance,
who took five rooms en suite on the second floor of the
Centropolis, and registered in a bold hand as J. Bedford Cornish, of
New York. Mr. Cornish consented to see a Herald representative
last night, but was very reticent as to his plans and the objects of
his visit. He simply says that he represents capital seeking
investment. He would not admit that he is connected with any of the
great railway interests, or that his visit has any relation to the
building of the Lattimore &Great Western. The Herald is able to
say, however, that its New York correspondent informs it that Mr.
Cornish is a member of the firm of Lusch, Carskaddan &Mayer, of Wall
Street. This firm is well known as one of the concerns handling large
amounts of European capital, and said to be intimately associated with
the Rothschilds. Financial journals have recently noted the fact that
these concerns are becoming embarrassed by the plethora of funds
seeking investment, and are turning their attention to the development
of railway systems and cities in the United States. Their South
American and Australian investments have not proven satisfactory,
especially the former, owing to the character of the people of Latin
America. It has been pointed out that no real-estate investment can be
more than moderately profitable in climates which render the people
content with a mere living, and that the restless and unsatisfied vigor
of the Anglo-Saxon alone can make lands and railways permanently
remunerative. Mr. Cornish admitted these facts when they were pointed
out to him, and immediately changed the subject.
Mr. Cornish is a very handsome and opulent-looking gentleman, and
seems to live in a style somewhat luxurious for the Occident. He has a
colored body-servant, who seems to reflect the mystery of his master;
but if he has any other reflections, the Herald is none the
wiser for them. Admittance to the suite of rooms was obtained by
sending in the reporter's card, which vanished into a sybaritic gloom,
borne on a golden salver. Mr. Cornish seems to be very exclusive, his
meals being served in his rooms; and even his barber has instructions
to call upon him each morning. One wonders why the barber is called in
so frequently, until one marks the smooth-shaven cheeks above the
close-clipped, pointed, black, Vandyke beard. He is withal very cordial
and courtly in his manners.
James R. Elkins, when seen last evening, refused to talk, except to
say that, in financial circles, it has been known for some days that
important developments may be now momently expected, and that some such
thing as the visit of Mr. Cornish was imminent. Captain Marion Tolliver
expressed himself freely, and to the effect that this mysterious visit
is of the utmost importance to Lattimore, and a thing of national if
not world-wide importance.
Now, that justifies my confidence in Giddings, said Mr. Elkins,
fulfilling at the same time the requirements of journalism and
hypnotism. Come, Al, our bark is on the sea, our boat is on the shore.
The Spanish galleons are even now hiding in the tall grass, in
expectation of our cruise. Let us hence to the office!
CHAPTER IX. I Go Aboard and We
Unfurl the Jolly Roger.
We must act, and act at once! said the Captain, his voice
thrilling with intensity. This piece of property will be gone befo'
night! All it takes is a paltry three thousand dolla's, and within
ninety daysno man can say what its value will be. We can plat it, and
within ten days we may have ouah money back. Allow me to draw on you
fo' three thou
But, said I, I can make no move in such a matter at this time
without conference with Mr.
Very well, suh, very well! said the Captain, regarding me with a
look that showed how much better things he had expected of me.
Opportunity, suh, knocks onceBy the way, excuse me, suh!
And he darted from the office, took the trail of Mr. Macdonald, whom
he had seen passing, brought him to bay in front of the post-office,
and dragged him away to some doom, the nature of which I could only
This took place on the morning of my first day with Elkins &Barslow.
I was to take up the office work.
That will be easy for you from the first, said Jim. Your
experience as rob-ee down there in Posey County makes you a sort of
specialist in that sort of thing; and pretty soon all other things
shall be added unto it.
The Captain's onslaught in the first half-hour admonished me that a
good deal was already added to it. On that very day, too, we had our
first conference with Mr. Hinckley. We wanted to handle securities,
said Mr. Elkins, and should have a great many of them, and that was
quite in Mr. Hinckley's line. To carry them ourselves would soon absorb
all our capital. We must liberate it by floating the commercial paper
which we took in. Mr. Hinckley's bank was known to be strong, his
standing was of the highest, and a trust company in alliance with him
could not fail to find a good market for its paper. With an old
banker's timidity, Hinckley seemed to hesitate; yet the prospects
seemed so good that I felt that this consent was sure to be given. Jim
courted him assiduously, and the intimacy between him and the Hinckley
family became noticeable.
Jim, said I, one day, you have an unerring eye for the pleasant
things of life. I couldn't help thinking of this to-day when I saw you
for the twentieth time spinning along the street in Miss Hinckley's
carriage, beside its owner. She's one of the handsomest girls, in her
flaxen-haired way, that I know of.
Isn't she a study in curves and pink and white? said Jim. And she
understands this trust company business as well as her father.
The trust company's stock, he went on to explain, ignoring Antonia,
seemed to be already oversubscribed. Our firm, Hinckley, and Jim's
Chicago and New York friends, including Harper, all stood ready to take
blocks of it, and there was no reason for requiring Hinckley to put
much actual money in for this. He could pay for it out of his profits
soon, and make a fortune without any outlay. Good credit was the prime
necessity, and that Mr. Hinckley certainly had. So the celebrated Grain
Belt Trust Company was beguna name about which such mighty interests
were to cluster, that I know I should have shrunk from the
responsibility had I known what a gigantic thing we were creating.
As the days wore on, Captain Tolliver's dementia spread and raged
virulently. The dark-visaged Cornish, with his air of mystery, his
habits so at odds with the society of Lattimore, was in the very focus
For a day or so, the effect which Mr. Giddings's report attributed
to his invasion failed to disclose itself to me. Then the delirium
became manifest, and swept over the town like a were-wolf delusion
through a medieval village.
Its immediate occasion seemed to be a group of real-estate
conveyances, announced in the Herald one morning, surpassing in
importance anything in the history of the town. Some of the lands
transferred were acreage; some were waste and vacant tracts along
Brushy Creek and the river; one piece was a suburban farm; but the mass
of it was along Main Street and in the business district. The grantees
were for the most part strange names in Lattimore, some individuals,
some corporations. All the sales were at prices hitherto unknown. It
was to be remarked, too, that in most cases the property had been
purchased not long before, by some of the group of newer comers and at
the old modest prices. Our firm seemed to have profited heavily in
these transactions, as had Captain Tolliver also. We of the new crowd
had begun our mock-trading to establish the market. Prices were going
up, up; and all one had to do was to buy to-day and sell to-morrow.
Real values, for actual use, seemed to be forgotten.
The most memorable moment in this first, acutest stage in our
development was one bright day, within a week or so of our coming. The
lawns were taking on their summer emerald, robins were piping in the
maples, and down in the cottonwoods and lindens on the river front
crows and jays were jargoning their immemorial and cheery lingo.
Surveyors were running lines and making plats in the suburbs, peeped at
by gophers, and greeted by the roundelays of meadow-larks. But on the
street-corners, in the offices of lawyers and real-estate agents, and
in the lobbies of the hotels, the trading was lively.
Then for the first time the influx of real buyers from the outside
became noticeable. The landlord of the Centropolis could scarcely care
for his guests. They talked of blocks, quarter-blocks, and the choice
acreage they had bought, and of the profits they had made in this and
other cities and towns (where this same speculative fever was
epidemic), until Alice fled to the Trescott farmas she said, to avoid
the mixture of real estate with her meals. The telegraph offices were
gorged with messages to non-resident property owners, begging for
prices on good inside lots. Staid, slow-going lot-owners, who had grown
old in patiently paying taxes on patches of dog-fennel and sand-burrs,
dazedly vacillated between acceptance and rejection of tempting
propositions, dreading the missing of the chance so long awaited,
fearing misjudgment as to the height of the wave, dreading a future of
regret at having sold too low.
One of these, an old woman, toothless and bent, hobbled to our
office and asked for Mr. Elkins. He was busy, and so I received her.
It's about that quarter-block with the Donegal ruin on it, said
Jim; the one I showed you yesterday. Offer her five thousand,
one-fourth down, balance in one, two, and three years, eight per cent.
I wanted to ask Mr. Elkins about me home, said she. I tuk in
washin' to buy it, an' me son, poor Patsy, God rist 'is soul, he helped
wid th' bit of money from the Brotherhood, whin he was kilt betune the
cars. It was sivin hundred an' fifty dollars, an' now Thronson offers
me four thousan'. I told him I'd sell, fer it's a fortune for a workin'
woman; but befure I signed papers, I wanted to ask Mr. Elkins; he's
such a fair-spoken man, an' knowin' to me min-folks in Peoria.
If you want to sell, Mrs. Collins, said I, we will take your
property at five thousand dollars.
She started, and regarded me, first in amazement, then with
distrust, shading off into hostility.
Thank ye kindly, sir, said she; I'll be goin' now. I've med up me
moind, if that bit of land is wort all that money t' yees, it's wort
more to me. Thank ye kindly! and she fled from the presence of the
The town is full of Biddy Collinses, commented Jim. Well, we
can't land everything, and couldn't handle the catch if we did. In
fact, for present purposes, isn't it better to have her refuse?
This incident was the hint upon which our Syndicate, as it came to
be called, acted from time to time, in making fabulous offers to every
Biddy Collins in town. Offer twenty thousand, Jim would say. The
more you bid the less apt is he to accept; he's a Biddy Collins. And
whatever Mr. Elkins advised was done.
There were eight or ten of us in the Syndicate, dubbed by Jim The
Crew, among whom were Tolliver, Macdonald, and Will Lattimore. But the
inner circle, now drawing closer and closer together, were Elkins, our
ruling spirit; Hinckley, our great force in the banking world; and
myself. Soon, I was given to understand, Mr. Cornish was to take his
place as one of us. He and Jim had long known each other, and Mr.
Elkins had the utmost confidence in Mr. Cornish's usefulness in what he
called the thought-transference department.
Elkins &Barslow kept their offices open night and day, almost, and
the number of typewriters and bookkeepers grew astoundingly. I became
almost a stranger to my wife. I got hurried glimpses of Miss Trescott
and her mother at the hotel, and knew that she and Alice were becoming
fast friends; but so far the social prominence which the Herald
had predicted for us had failed to arrive.
This, to be sure, was our own fault. Miss Addison soon gave us up as
not available for the church and Sunday-school functions to which she
devoted herself. Her family connections would have made her the
social leader had it not been for the severity of her views and her
assumption of the character of the devoteein spite of which she
protestingly went almost everywhere. Antonia Hinckley, however, was
frankly fond of a good time, and with her dashing and almost hoydenish
character easily took the leadership from Miss Addison; and Miss
Hinckley sought diligently for means by which we could be properly
launched. As I left the office one day, a voice from the curb called my
name. It was Miss Hinckley in a smart trap, to which was harnessed a
beautiful horse, standard bred, one could see at a glance. I obeyed the
summons, and stepped beside the equipage.
I want to scold you, said she. Society is being defrauded of the
good things which your coming promised. Have you taken a vow of
seclusion, or what?
I've been spinning about in the maelstrom of business, I replied.
But do not be uneasy; some time we shall take up the matter of
inflicting ourselves, and pursue it as vigorously as we now follow our
Wouldn't you like to get into the trap, and take a spin of another
sort? said she. I'll deposit you safely with Mrs. Barslow in time for
I got in, glad of the drive, and for ten minutes her horse was sent
at such a pace that conversation was difficult. Then he was slowed down
to a walk, his head toward home. We chatted of casual thingsthe
scenery, the horse, the splendid color of the sunset. I was becoming
interested in her.
I had almost forgotten that there were such things in Lattimore,
said I, referring to the topics of our talk. I have become so
saturated with lands and lots.
I don't know much about business, said she, and I think I'll
improve my opportunity by learning something. And, first, aren't men
sometimes losers by the dishonesty of those who act for themagents,
they are called, aren't they?
Such, I admitted, was unfortunately the case.
I should be sorry forany one I likedto be injured in such a
way.... Now you must understand how the things you men are interested
in permeate the society of us women. Why, mamma has almost forgotten
the enslavement of our sex, in these new things which have changed our
old town so much; so you mustn't wonder if I have heard something of a
purely business nature. I heard that Captain Tolliver was about to sell
Mr. Elkins the land where the old foundry is, over there, for twenty
thousand dollars. Now, papa says it isn't worth it; and I knowSadie
Allen and I were in school together, and she comes over from Fairchild
several times a year to see me, and I go there, you know; and that land
is in her father's estateI know that the executor has told Captain
Tolliver to sell it for ever so much less than that. And it seemed so
funny, as the Captain was doing the business for both sidesisn't it
It does seem so, said I, and it is very kind of you. I'll talk
with Mr. Elkins about it. Please be careful, Miss Hinckley, or you'll
drop the wheel in that washout!
She reined up her horse and began speeding him again. I could see
that this conversation had embarrassed her somehow. Her color was high,
and her grip of the reins not so steady as at starting. This attempt to
do Jim a favor was something she considered as of a good deal of
consequence. I began to note more and more what a really splendid woman
she wastall, fair, her tailor-made gown rounding to the full, firm
curves of her figure, her fearless horsemanship hinting at the
possession of large and positive traits of character.
We women, said she, might as well abandon all the things commonly
known as feminine. What good do they do us?
They gratify your sense of the beautiful, suggested I.
You know, Mr. Barslow, said she, that it's not our own sense of
the beautiful, mainly, that we seek to gratify; and if the eyes for
which they are intended are looking into ledgers and blind to
everything except dollar-signs, what's the use?
Go down to the seashore, said I, where the people congregate who
have nothing to do.
Not I, said she; I'll go into real estate, and become as blind as
Jim paid no attention to my chaffing when I spoke of his conquest,
as I called Antonia. In fact, he seemed annoyed, and for a long time
You can see how the Allen estate proposition stands, said he, at
last. To let that sell for less than twenty thousand might cost us ten
times that amount in lowering the prevailing standard of values. The
old rule that we should buy in the cheapest market and sell in the
dearest is suspended. Base is the slave who paysless than the
necessary and proper increase.
CHAPTER X. We Dedicate Lynhurst
The Hindu adept sometimes suspends before the eyes of his subject a
bright ball of carnelian or crystal, in the steady contemplation of
which the sensitive swims off into the realms of subjectivitythat
mysterious bourn from whence no traveler brings anything back. J.
Bedford Cornish was Mr. Elkins's glittering ball; his psychic subject
was the world in general and Lattimore in particular. Scientific
principles, confirmed by experience, led us to the conclusion that the
attitude of fixed contemplation carried with it some nervous strain,
ought to be of limited duration, and hence that Mr. Cornish should
remove from our midst the glittering mystery of his presence, lest
familiarity should breed contempt. So in about ten days he went away,
giving to the Herald a parting interview, in which he expressed
unbounded delight with Lattimore, and hinted that he might return for a
longer stay. Editorially, the Herald expressed the hope that
this characteristically veiled allusion to a longer sojourn might mean
that Mr. Cornish had some idea of becoming a citizen of Lattimore. This
would denote, the editorial continued, that men like Mr. Cornish,
accustomed to the mighty world-pulse of New York, could find objects of
pursuit equally worthy in Lattimore.
Which is mixed metaphor, Mr. Giddings admitted in confidence;
but, he continued, if metaphors, like drinks, happen to be more
potent mixed, the Herald proposes to mix 'em.
All these things consumed time, and still our life was one devoted
to business exclusively. At last Mr. Elkins himself, urged, I feel
sure, by Antonia Hinckley, gave evidence of weariness.
Al, said he one day, don't you think it's about time to go ashore
for a carouse?
Unless something in the way of a let-up comes soon, said I, the
position of lieutenant, or first mate, or whatever my job is
piratically termed, will become vacant. The pace is pretty rapid. Last
night I dreamed that the new Hotel Elkins was founded on my chest; and
I have had troubles enough of the same kind before to show me that my
nervous system is slowly ravelling out.
I have arrangements made, in my mind, for a sort of al fresco
function, to come off about the time Cornish gets back with our London
visitor, he replied, which ought to knit up the ravelled sleeve
better than new. I'm going to dedicate Lynhurst Park to the nymphs and
deities of sportwhich wrinkled care derides.
I hadn't heard of Lynhurst Park, I was forced to say. I'm curious
to know, first, who named it, and, second, where it is.
Didn't I show you those blueprints? he asked. An oversight I
assure you. As for the scheme, you suggested it yourself that night we
first drove out to Trescott's. Don't you remember saying something
about 'breathing space for the populace'? Well, I had the surveys made
at once; contracted for the land, all but what Bill owns of it, which
we'll have to get later; and had a landscapist out from Chicago to
direct us as to what we ought to admire in improving the place. As for
the name, I'm indebted to kind nature, which planted the valley in
basswood, and to Josie, who contributed the philological knowledge and
the taste. That's the street-car line, said he, unrolling an elaborate
plat and pointing. We may throw it over to the west to develop section
seven, if we close for it. Otherwise, that line is the very thing.
Our street-railway franchise had been granted by the Lattimore city
councilthey would have granted the public square, had we asked for it
in the potent name of progressand Cornish was even now making
arrangements for placing our bonds. The impossible of less than a year
ago was now included in the next season's program, as an inconsiderable
feature of a great project for a street-railway system, and the
development of hundreds of acres of land.
The place so to be named Lynhurst Park was most agreeably reached by
a walk up Brushy Creek from Lattimore. Such a stroll took one into the
gorge, where the rocks shelved toward each other, until their crowning
fringes of cedar almost interlocked, like the eyelashes of drowsiness.
Down there in the twilight one felt a sense of being defrauded, in
contemplation of the fact that the stream was troutless: it was such an
ideal place for trout. The quiet and mellow gloom made the gorge a
favorite trysting-place, and perhaps the cool-blooded stream-folk had
fled from the presence of the more fervid dwellers on the banks. In the
crevices of the rocks were the nests of the village pigeons. The
combined effects of all these causes was to make this a spot devoted to
billing and cooing.
Farther up the stream the rock walls grew lower and parted wider,
islanding a rich bottom of lush grass-plot, alternating with groves of
walnut, linden, and elm. This was the Lynhurst Park of the blueprints
and plats. Trescott's farm lay on the right bank, and others on either
side; but the houses were none of them near the stream, and the entire
walk was wild and woodsy-looking. None but nature-lovers came that way.
Others drove out by the road past Trescott's, seeing more of corn and
barn, but less of rock, moss, and fern.
Mr. Cornish was to return on Friday with the Honorable De Forest
Barr-Smith, who lived in London and represented English capital. To
us Westerners the very hyphen of his name spoke eloquently of £ s. d.
Through him we hoped to get the money to build that street railway.
Cornish had written that Mr. Barr-Smith wanted to look the thing over
personally; and that, given the element of safety, his people would
much prefer an investment of a million to one of ten thousand. Cornish
further hinted that the London gentleman acted like a man who wanted a
side interest in the construction company; as to which he would sound
him further by the way.
He'll expect something in the way of birds and bottles, observed
Elkins; but they won't mix with the general society of this town,
where the worm of the still is popularly supposed to be the original
Edenic tempter. And he'll want to inspect Lynhurst Park. I want him to
see our beauty and our chivalry,meaning the ladies and Captain
Tolliver,and the rest of our best people. I guess we'll have to make
it a temperate sort of orgy, making up in the spectacular what it lacks
Mr. Cornish came, gradually moulting his mystery; but still far
above the Lattimore standard in dress and style of living. In truth, he
always had a good deal of the swell in his make-up, and can almost be
acquitted of deceit in the impressions conveyed at his coming. The
Honorable De Forest Barr-Smith fraternized with Cornish, as he could
with no one else. No one looking at Mr. Cornish could harbor a doubt as
to his morning tub; and his evening dress was always correct. With Jim,
Mr. Barr-Smith went into the discussion of business propositions freely
and confidentially. I feel sure that had he greatly desired a candid
statement of the very truth as to local views, or the exact judgment of
one on the spot, he would have come to me. But between him and Cornish
there was the stronger sympathy of a common understanding of the occult
intricacies of clothes, and a view-point as to the surface of things,
embracing manifold points of agreement. Cornish's unerring conformity
of vogue in the manner and as to the occasion of wearing the tuxedo or
the claw-hammer coat was clearly restful to Mr. Barr-Smith, in this new
and strange country, where, if danger was to be avoided, things had to
be approached with distended nostril and many preliminary snuffings of
There came with these two a younger brother of Mr. Barr-Smith,
Cecila big young civil engineer, just out of college, and as like his
brother in accent and dress as could be expected of one of his years;
but national characteristics are matters of growth, and college boys
all over the world are a good deal alike. Cecil Barr-Smith, with his
red mustache, his dark eyes, and his six feet of British brawn, was
nearer in touch with our younger people that first day than his
honorable brother ever became. To Antonia, especially, he took kindly,
and respectfully devoted himself.
At this distance, said Mr. Barr-Smith, as he saw his brother
sitting on the grass at Miss Hinckley's feet, I'd think them brother
and sister. She resembles sister Gritty remarkably; the same complexion
and the same style, you know. Quite so!
The Lynhurst function was the real introduction of these three
gentlemen to Lattimore society. I knew nothing of the arrangements,
except what I could deduce from Jim's volume of business with caterers
and other handicraftsmen; and I looked forward to the fête with much
curiosity. The weather, that afternoon, made an outing quite the
natural thing; for it was hot. The ladies in their most summery gowns
fluttered like white dryads from shade to shade, uttering bird-like
pipings of surprise at the preparations made for their entertainment.
The ravine had been transformed. At an available point in its bed
Jim had thrown a dam across the stream, and a beautiful little lake
rippled in the breeze, bearing on its bosom a bright-colored boat,
which in our ignorance of things Venetian we mistakenly dubbed a
gondola. At the upper end of this water the canvas of a large pavilion
gleamed whitely through the greenery, displaying from its top the
British and American flags, their color reflected in a particolored
streak on the wimpling face of the lake. The groves, in the tops of
which the woodpeckers, warblers, and vireos disturbedly carried on the
imperatively necessary work of rearing their broods, were gay with
festoons of Chinese lanterns in readiness for the evening. Hammocks
were slung from tree to tree, cushions and seats were arranged in cosy
nooks; and when my wife and I stepped from our carriage, all these
appliances for the utilization of shade and leisure were in full use.
The gondola was making, trips from the cascade (as the dam was
already called) to the pavilion, carrying loads of young people from
whom came to our ears those peals of merriment which have everywhere
but one meaning, and that a part of the world-old mystery of the way of
a man with a maid.
Jim was on the ground early, to receive the guests and keep the
management in hand. Josie Trescott and her mother walked down through
the Trescott pasture, and joined Alice and me under one of the splendid
lindens, where, as we lounged in the shade, the sound of the little
waterfall filled the spaces in our talk. Long before any one else had
seen them coming through the trees, Mr. Elkins had spied them, and went
forward to meet them with something more than the hospitable solicitude
with which he had met the others. In fact, the principal guests of the
day had alighted from their carriage before Jim, ensconced in a hammock
with Josie, was made aware of their arrival. I am not quick to see such
things; but to my eyes, even, the affair had assumed interest as a sort
of public flirtation. I had not thought that Josie would so easily fall
into deportment so distinctly encouraging. She was altogether in a
surprising mood,her eyes shining as with some stimulant, her cheeks a
little flushed, her lips scarlet, her whole appearance suggesting
suppressed excitement. And when Jim rose to meet his guests, she
dismissed him with one of those charmingly inviting glances and
gestures with which such an adorable woman spins the thread by which
the banished one is drawn back,and then she disappeared until the
dinner was served.
The green crown of the western hill was throwing its shadow across
the valley, when Mr. Hinckley came with Mr. Cornish and Mr. Barr-Smith
in a barouche; followed by Antonia, who brought Mr. Cecil in her
trapand a concomitant thrill to the company. Mr. Cornish, in his
dress, had struck a happy medium between the habiliments of business
and those of sylvan recreation. Mr. Barr-Smith on the other hand, was
garbed cap-a-pie for an outing, presenting an appearance with which the
racket, the bat, or even the alpenstock might have been conjoined in
perfect harmony. As for the men of Lattimore, any one of them would as
soon have been seen in the war-dress of a Sioux chief as in this
entirely correct costume of our British visitor. We walked about in the
every-day vestments of the shops, banks, and offices, illustrating the
difference between a state of society in which apparel is regarded as
an incident in life, and one rising to the height of realizing its true
significance as a religion. Mr. Barr-Smith bowed not the knee to the
Baal of western clothes-monotone, but daily sent out his sartorial
orisons, keeping his windows open toward the Jerusalem of his London
tailor, in a manner which would have delighted a Teufelsdröckh.
He was a short man, with protruding cheeks, and a nose ending in an
amorphous flare of purple and scarlet. His mustache, red like that of
his brother, and constituting the only point of physical resemblance
between them, grew down over a receding chin, being forced thereto by
the bulbous overhang of the nose. He had rufous side-whiskers, clipped
moderately close, and carroty hair mixed with gray. His erect shoulders
and straight back were a little out of keeping with the rotundity of
his figure in other respects; but the combination, hinting, as it did,
of affairs both gastronomic and martial, taken with a manner at once
dignified, formal, and suave, constituted the most intensely
respectable appearance I ever saw. To the imagination of Lattimore he
represented everything of which, Cornish fell short, piling Lombard
upon Wall Street.
The arrival of these gentlemen was the signal for gathering in the
pavilion where dinner was served. The tables were arranged in a great
L, at the apex of which sat Jim and the distinguished guests. On one
side of him sat Mr. Barr-Smith, who listened absorbedly to the
conversation of Mrs. Hinckley, filling every pause with a husky Quite
so! On the other sat Josie Trescott, who was smiling upon a very tall
and spare old man who wore a beautiful white mustache and imperial. I
had never met him, but I knew him for General Lattimore. His fondness
for Josie was well known; and to him Jim attributed that young lady's
lack of enthusiasm over our schemes for city-building. His presence at
this gathering was somewhat of a surprise to me.
Antonia and Cecil Barr-Smith, the Tollivers, Mr. Hinckley and Alice,
myself, Mr. Giddings, and Miss Addison sat across the table from the
host. Mrs. Trescott, after expressing wonder at the changes wrought in
the ravine, and confiding to me her disapproval of the useless expense,
had returned to the farm, impelled by that habitual feeling that
something was wrong there. Mr. Giddings was exceedingly attentive to
I know why you're trying to look severe, said he to her, as the
consommé was served; and it's the only thing I can imagine you making
a failure of, unless it would be looking anything but pretty. But you
are trying it, and I know why. You think they ought to have had some
one say grace before pulling this thing off.
I'm not trying to lookanyhow, she answered. But you are right
in thinking that I believe such duties should not be transgressed, for
fear that the world may call us provincial or old-fashioned.
And she shot a glance at Cornish and Barr-Smith as the visible
representatives of the world.
Don't listen to that age-old clash between fervor and
unregeneracy, said Josie across the narrow table, her remarks made
possible by the music of the orchestra, but tell us about Mr.
Barr-Smith andthe other gentlemen.
I wanted to ask you about the Britons, said I; are they good
specimens of the men you saw in England?
An art-student, with a consciousness of guilt in slowly eating up
the year's shipment of steers, isn't likely to know much more of the
Barr-Smiths' London than she can see from the street. But I think them
fine examples of not very rare types. I should like to try drawing the
Before he goes away, I predict I began, when my villainous pun
was arrested in mid-utterance by the voice of Captain Tolliver,
suddenly becoming the culminating peak in the table-talk.
The Anglo-Saxon, suh, he was saying, is found in his greatest
purity of blood in ouah Southe'n states. It is thah, suh, that those
qualities of virility and capacity fo' rulership which make the race
what is ah found in theiah highest developmenton this side of the
watah, suh, on this side!
Quite so! I dare say, quite so! responded Mr. Barr-Smith. I hope
to know the people of the South better. In fact, I may say, really, you
know, an occasion like this gives one the desire to become acquainted
with the whole American people.
General Lattimore, whose nostrils flared as he leaned forward
listening, like an opponent in a debate, to the remarks of Captain
Tolliver, subsided as he heard the Englishman's diplomatic reply.
What's the use? said he to Josie. He may be nearer right than I
We hope, said Mr. Elkins, that this desire may be focalized
locally, and grow to anything short of a disease. I assure you,
Lattimore will congratulate herself.
Mr. Barr-Smith's fingers sought his glass, as if the impulse were on
him to propose a toast; but the liquid facilities being absent, he
relapsed into a conversation with Mrs. Hinckley.
I'd say those things, too, if I were in his place, came the words
of Giddings, overshooting their mark, the ear of Miss Addison; but
it's all rot. He's disgusted with the whole barbarous outfit of us.
I am becoming curious, was the sotto voce reply, to know
upon what model you found your conduct, Mr. Giddings.
I know what you mean, said Mr. Giddings. But I have adopted
Why, Mr. Giddings! How shocking! Iago
Now, don't be horrified, said Giddings, with an air of candor,
but look at it from a practical standpoint. If Othello hadn't been
such a fool, Iago would have made his point all right. He had a right
to be sore at Othello for promoting Cassio over his head, and his
scheme was a good one, if Othello hadn't gone crazy. Iago is dominated
by reason and the principle of the survival of the fittest. He is an
Miss Addison, with a charming mixture of tragedy and archness,
suppressed this blasphemy by a gesture suggestive of placing her hand
over the editor's mouth.
Ah, Mrs. Hinckley, you shouldn't do us such an injustice! It was
Mr. Cornish, who took the center of the stage now. You seem to fail to
realize the fact that, in any given gathering, the influence of woman
is dominant; and as the entire life of the nation is the sum total of
such gatherings, woman is already in control. Now how can you fail to
I missed the rather extended reply of Mrs. Hinckley, in noting the
evident impression made upon the company by this first utterance of the
mysterious Cornish. It was not what he said: that was not important. It
was the dark, bearded face, the jetty eyes, and above all, I think, the
voice, with its clear, carrying quality, combining penetrativeness with
a repression of force which gave one the feeling of being addressed in
confidence. Every man, and especially every woman, in the company,
looked fixedly upon him, until he ceased to speakall except Josie.
She darted at him one look, a mere momentary scrutiny, and as he
discoursed of woman and her power, she seemed to lose herself in
contemplation of her plate. The blush upon her cheek became more rosy,
and a little smile, with something in it which was not of pleasure,
played about the corners of her mouth. I was about to offer her the
traditional bargain-counter price for her thoughts, when my attention
was commanded by Jim's voice, answering some remark of Antonia's.
This is the merest curtain-riser, just a sort of kick-off, he was
saying. In a year or two this valley will be the
pleasure-ground of all the countryside, a hundred miles around. This
tent will be replaced by a restaurant and auditorium. The conventions
and public gatherings of the state will be held herethere is no other
place for 'em; and our railway will bring the folks out from town.
There will be baseball grounds, and facilities for all sorts of sports;
and outings and games will center here. I promise you the next regatta
of the State Rowing Association, and a street-car line landing
passengers where we now sit.
Hear, hear! said Mr. Barr-Smith, and the company clapped hands in
Mr. Hinckley was introduced by Jim as one who had seen Lynhurst
Park when it was Indian hunting-ground; and made a speech in which he
welcomed Mr. Cornish as a new citizen who was already prominent. Dining
in this valley, he said, reminded him of the time when he and two other
guests now present had, on almost the identical spot, dined on venison
dressed and cooked where it fell. Then Lattimore was a trading-post on
the frontier, surrounded by the tepees of Indians, and uncertain as to
its lease of life. General Lattimore, who shot the deer, or Mr.
Macdonald, who helped eat it, could either of them tell more about it.
Mr. Barr-Smith and our other British guest might judge of the rapidity
of development in this country, where a man may see in his lifetime
progress which in the older states and countries could be discerned by
the student of history only.
Mr. Cornish very briefly thanked Mr. Hinckley for his words of
welcome; but begged to be excused from making any extended remarks.
Deeds were rather more in his line than words.
Title-deeds, said Giddings under his breath, as the real-estate
General Lattimore verified Mr. Hinckley's statement concerning the
meal of venison; and, politely expressing pleasure at being present at
a function which seemed to be regarded as of so much importance to the
welfare of the town in which he had always taken the pride of a
godfather, resumed his seat without adding anything to the oratory of
In fact, said Captain Tolliver to me, I wahned Mr. Elkins against
having him hyah. In any mattah of progress he's a wet blanket, and has
proved himself such by these remahks.
Mr. Barr-Smith, in response to the allusions to him, assured us that
the presence of people such as he had had the pleasure of meeting in
Lattimore was sufficient in itself to account for the forward movement
in the community, which the visitor could not fail to observe.
In a state of society where people are not averse to changing their
abodes, he said, and where the social atom, if I may so express
myself, is in a state of mobility, the presence of such magnets as our
toastmaster, and the other gentlemen to whose courteous remarks I am
responding, must draw 'em to themselves, you may be jolly well assured
of that! And if the gentlemen should fail, the thing which should
resist the attractive power of the American ladies must be more fixed
in its habits than even the conservative English gentleman, who prides
himself upon his stability, erahhis taking a position and sticking
by it, in spite of theof anything, you know.
As his only contribution to the speechmaking, Mr. Cecil Barr-Smith
greeted this sentiment with a hearty Hear, hear! He fell into step
with Antonia as we left the pavilion. Then he went back as if to look
for something; and I saw Antonia summon Mr. Elkins to her side so that
she might congratulate him on the success of this carouse.
Everything seemed going well. There was, however, in that gathering,
as in the day, material for a storm, and I, of all those in attendance,
ought to have seen it, had my memory been as unerring as I thought it.
CHAPTER XI. The Empress and Sir John
The company emerged from the tent into the enchanted outdoors of the
star-dotted valley. The moon rode high, and flooded the glades with
silvery effulgency. The heat of the day had bred a summer storm-cloud,
which, all quivery with lightning, seemed sweeping around from the
northwest to the north, giving us the delicious experience of enjoying
calm, in view of storm.
The music of the orchestra soon told that the pavilion had been
cleared for dancing. I heard Giddings urging upon Miss Addison that it
would be much better for them to walk in the moonlight than to
encourage by their presence such a worldly amusement, and one in which
he had never been able to do anything better than fail, anyhow. Sighing
her pain at the frivolity of the world, she took his arm and strolled
away. I noticed that she clung closely to him, frightened, I suppose,
at the mysterious rustlings in the trees, or something.
They made up the dances in such a way as to leave me out. I rather
wanted to dance with Antonia; but Mr. Cecil was just leaving her in
disappointment, in the possession of Mr. Elkins, when I went for her. I
decided that a cigar and solitude were rather to be chosen than
anything else which presented itself, and accordingly I took possession
of one of the hammocks, in which I lay and smoked, and watched the
towering thunder-head, as it stood like a mighty and marvelous mountain
in the northern sky, its rounded and convoluted summits serenely white
in the moonlight, its mysterious caves palpitant with incessant
lightning. The soothing of the cigar; the new-made lake reflecting the
gleam of hundreds of lanterns; the illuminated pavilion, its whirling
company of dancers seen under the uprolled walls; the night, with its
strange contrast of a calm southern sky on the one hand pouring down
its flood of moonlight, and in the north the great mother-of-pearl dome
with its core of vibrant fire; the dance-music throbbing through the
lindens; and all this growing out of the unwonted and curious life of
the past few months, bore to me again that feeling of being yoked with
some thaumaturge of wondrous power for the working of enchantments.
Again I seemed in a partnership with Aladdin; and fairy pavilions,
sylvan paradises, bevies of dancing girls, and princes bearing gifts of
gold and jewels, had all obeyed our conjuration. I could have walked
down to the naphtha pleasure-boat and bidden the engineer put me down
at Khorassan, or some dreamful port of far Cathay, with no sense of
Two figures came from the tent and walked toward me. As I looked at
them, myself in darkness, they in the light, I had again that feeling
of having seen them in some similar way before. That same old
sensation, thought I, that the analytic novelist made trite ages ago.
Then I saw that it was Mr. Cornish and Miss Trescott. I could hear them
talking; but lay still, because I was loth to have my reveries
disturbed. And besides, to speak would seem an unwarranted assumption
of confidential relations on their part. They stopped near me.
Your memory is not so good as mine, said he. I knew you at once.
Knew you! Why
I'm not very good at keeping names and faces in mind, she replied,
unless they belong to people I have known very well.
Indeed! his voice dropped to the 'cello-like undertone now; isn't
that a little unkind? I fancied that we knew each other very
well! My conceit is not to be pandered to, I perceive.
Ye-e-sdoes it seem that way? said she, ignoring the last remark.
Well, you know it was only for a few days, and you kept calling
yourself by some ridiculous alias, and scarcely used your surname at
all, and I believe they called you Johnnyand you can't think what a
disguise such a beard is! But I remember you now perfectly. It quite
brings back those short months, when I was so youngand was finding
things out! I can see the vine-covered porch, and Madame Lamoreaux's
boarding-house on the South Side
And the old art gallery?
Why, there was one, wasn't there? said she, somewhere along the
lake front, wasn't it?... Such a pleasant meeting, and so odd!
I sat up in the hammock, and stared at them as they went on their
promenade. The old art gallery, the vine-covered porch, the young man
with the smooth-shaven dark face and the thrilling, vibrant voice, and
the young, young girl with the ruddy hair, and the little, round form!
She seemed taller now, and there was more of maturity in the figure;
but it was the same lissome waist and petite gracefulness which had so
fully explained to me the avid eyes of her lover on that day when I had
fled from the report of the Committee on Permanent Organization. It was
the Empress Josephine, I had known thatand her Sir John!
Then I thought of her flying from him into the street, and the
little bowed head on the street-car; and the old pity for her, the old
bitterness toward him, returned upon me. I wondered how he could speak
to her in this nonchalant way; what they were saying to each other;
whether they would ever refer to that night at Auriccio's; what Alice
would think of him if she ever found it out; whether he was a villain,
or only erred passionately; what was actually said in that palm alcove
that night so long ago; whether this man, with the eyes and voice so
fascinating to women, would renew his suit in this new life of ours;
what Jim would think about it; and, more than all, how Josie herself
would regard him.
She ought never to have spoken to him again! I hear some one say.
Ah, Madam, very true. But do you remember any authentic case of a
woman who failed to forgive the man whose error or offense had for its
excuse the irresistible attraction of her own charms?
They were coming back now, still talking.
You dropped out of sight, like a partridge into a thicket, said
he. Some of them said you had gone back toto
To the farm, she prompted.
Well, yes, he conceded; and others said you had left Chicago for
New York; and some, even Paris.
I fail to see the warrant, said Josie, as they approached the
limit of earshot, for any of the people at Madame Lamoreux's giving
themselves the trouble to investigate.
So far as that is concerned, said he, I should think that I
and his voice quite lost intelligibility.
My cigar had gone out, and the cessation of the music ought to have
apprised me of the breaking up of the dance, and still I lay looking at
the sky and filled with my thoughts.
Here he is, said Alice, asleep in the hammock! For shame, Albert!
This would not have occurred, once!
I am free to admit that, said I, but why am I now disturbed?
We're going on a cruise in the gondola, said Antonia, and Mr.
Elkins says you are lieutenant, and we can't sail without you. Come,
it's perfectly beautiful out there.
We're going to the head of navigation and back, said Jim, and
then our revels will be ended. Hang it! to me, they left the skull
and crossbones off all the flags!
Mr. Barr-Smith at once engaged the engineer in conversation, and
seemed worming from him all his knowledge of the construction of the
boat. The rest of us lounged on cushions and seats. We threaded our way
up the new pond, winding between clumps of trees, now in broad
moonlight, now in deepest shade. The shower had swept over to the
northeast, just one dark flounce of its skirt reaching to the zenith. A
cool breeze suddenly sprang up from the west, stirred by the suction of
the receding storm, and a roar came from the trees on the hilltops.
Better run for port, said Jim; I'd hate to have Mr. Barr-Smith
suffer shipwreck where the charts don't show any water!
As we ran down the open way, the remark seemed less and less of a
joke. The gale poured over the hills, and struck the boat like the
buffet of a great hand. She heeled over alarmingly, bumped upon a
submerged stump, righted, heeled again, this time shipping a little
sea, and then the sharp end of a hidden oak-limb thrust up through the
bottom, and ripped its way out again, leaving us afloat in the deepest
part of the lake, with a spouting fountain in the middle of the vessel,
and the chopping waves breaking over the gunwale. All at once, I
noticed Cecil Barr-Smith, with his coat off, standing near Antonia, who
sat as cool as if she had been out on some quiet road driving her
pacers. The boat sank lower in the water, and I had no doubt that she
was sinking. Antonia rose, and stretched her hands towards Jim. I do
not see how he could avoid seeing this; but he did, and, as if
abandoning her to her fate, he leaped to Josie's side. Cornish had
seized her by the arm, and seemed about to devote himself to her
safety, when Jim, without a word, lifted her in his arms, and leaped
lightly upon the forward deck, the highest and driest place on the
sinking craft. Then, as everything pointed to a speedy baptism in the
lake for all of us, we saw that the very speed of the wind had saved
us, and felt the gondola bump broadside upon the dam. Jim sprang to the
abutment with Josie, and Cecil Barr-Smith half carried and half led
Antonia to the shore. Alice and I sat calmly on the windward rail; and
Barr-Smith, laughing with delight, helped us across, one at a time, to
I'm glad it turned out no worse, said Jim. I hope you will all
excuse me if I leave you now. I must see Miss Trescott to a safe and
dry place. Here's the carriage, Josie!
Are you quite uninjured? said Cecil to Antonia, as Mr. Elkins and
Josie drove away.
Oh, quite so! said Antonia, unwittingly adopting Barr-Smith's
phrase. But for a moment I was awfully frightened!
It looked a little damp, at one time, for farce-comedy, said
Cornish. I wonder how deep it was out there!
Miss Trescott was quite drenched, said Mr. Barr-Smith, as we got
into the carriages. Too bad, by Jove!
You may write home, said Antonia, an account of being shipwrecked
in the top of a tree!
Good, good! said Cecil, and we all joined in the laugh, until we
were suddenly sobered by the fact that Antonia had bowed her head on
Alice's lap, and was sobbing as if her heart was broken.
CHAPTER XII. In which the Burdens of
wealth begin to fall upon Us.
If the town be considered as a quiescent body pursuing its
unluminous way in space, Mr. Elkins may stand for the impinging planet
which shocked it into vibrant life. I suggested this nebular-hypothesis
simile to Mr. Giddings, one day, as the germ of an editorial.
It's rather seductive, said he, but it won't do. Carry your
interplanetary collision business to its logical end, and what do you
come to? Gaseousness. And that's just what the Angus Falls Times, the Fairchild Star, and the other loathsome sheets printed in
prairie-dog towns around here accuse us of, now. No; much obliged; but
as a field for comparisons the tried old solar system is good enough
for the Herald.
I couldn't help thinking, however, that the thing had some
illustrative merit. There was Jim's first impact, felt locally, and
jarring things loose. Then came the atomic vivification, the heat and
motion, which appeared in the developments which we have seen taking
form. After the visit of the Barr-Smiths, and the immigration of
Cornish, the new star Lattimore began to blaze in the commercial
firmament, the focus of innumerable monetary telescopes, pointed from
the observatories of counting-rooms, banks, and offices, far and wide.
There was a shifting of the investment and speculative equilibrium,
and things began coming to us spontaneously. The Angus Falls railway
extension was won only by strenuous endeavor. Captain Tolliver's
interviews with General Lattimore, in which he was so ruthlessly
turned down, he always regarded as a sort of creative agony, marking
the origin of the roundhouse and machine-shops, and our connection with
the great Halliday railway system of which it made us a part. The
street-car project went more easily; and, during the autumn, the
geological and manufacturing experts sent out to report on the
cement-works enterprise, pronounced favorably, and gangs of men, during
the winter, were to be seen at work on the foundations of the great
buildings by the scarped chalk-hill.
The tension of my mind just after the Lynhurst Park affair was such
as to attune it to no impulses but the financial vibrations which
pulsated through our atmosphere. True, I sometimes felt the wonder
return upon me at the finding of the lovers of the art-gallery together
once more, in Josie and Cornish; and at other times Antonia's agitation
after our escape from shipwreck recurred to me in contrast with her
smiling self-possession while the boat was drifting and filling; but
mostly I thought of nothing, dreamed of nothing, but trust companies,
additions, bonds and mortgages.
Mr. Barr-Smith returned to London soon, giving a parting luncheon in
his rooms, where wine flowed freely, and toasts of many colors were
pushed into the atmosphere. There was one to the President and the
Queen, proposed by the host and drunk in bumpers, and others to Mr.
Barr-Smith, his brother, and the members of the Syndicate. The
enthusiasm grew steadily in intensity as the affair progressed. Finally
Mr. Cecil solemnly proposed The American Woman. In offering this
toast, he said, he was taking long odds, as it was a sport for which he
hadn't had the least training; but he couldn't forego the pleasure of
paying a tribute where tribute was due. The ladies of America needed no
encomiums from him, and yet he was sure that he should give no offense
by saying that they were of a type unknown in history. They were up to
anything, you know, in the way of intellectuality, and he was sure that
in a certain queenly, blonde way they were
Hear, hear! said his brother, and burst into a laugh in which we
all joined, while Cecil went on talking, in an uproar which drowned his
words, though one could see that he was trying to explain something,
and growing very hot in the process.
Pearson announced that their train would soon arrive, and we all
went down to see them off. Barr-Smith assured us at parting that the
tram-road transaction might be considered settled. He believed, too,
that his clients might come into the cement project. We were all the
more hopeful of this, for the knowledge that he carried somewhere in
his luggage a bond for a deed to a considerable interest in the cement
lands. Things were coming on beautifully; and it seemed as if Elkins
and Cornish, working together, were invincible.
We still lived at the hotel, but our architect, little Ed. Smith,
who lived over on the Hayes place when we were boys, and who was once
at Garden City with Jim, was busy with plans for a mansion which we
were to build in the new Lynhurst Park Addition the next spring. Mr.
Elkins was preparing to erect a splendid house in the same
Can I afford it? said I, in discussing estimates.
Afford it! he replied, turning on me in astonishment. My dear
boy, don't you see we are up against a situation that calls on us to
bluff to the limit, or lay down? In such a case, luxury becomes a duty,
and lavishness the truest economy. Not to spend is to go broke. Lay
your Poor Richard on the shelf, and put a weight on him. Stimulate the
outgo, and the income'll take care of itself. A thousand spent is five
figures to the good. No, while we've as many boom-irons in the fire as
we're heating now, to be modest is to be lost.
Perhaps, said I, you may be right, and no doubt are. We'll talk
it over again some time. And your remark about irons in the fire brings
up another matter which bothers me. It's something unusual when we
don't open up a set of books for some new corporation, during the
working day. Aren't we getting too many?
Do you remember Mule Jones, who lived down near Hickory Grove?
said he, after a long pause. Well, you know, in our old neighborhood,
the mule was regarded with a mixture of contempt, suspicion, and fear,
the folks not understanding him very well, and being especially
uninformed as to his merits. Therefore, Mule Jones, who dealt in mules,
bought, sold, and broke 'em, was a man of mark, and identified in name
with his trade, as most people used to be before our time. I was down
there one Sunday, and asked him how he managed to break the brutes.
'It's easy,' said he, 'when you know how. I never hook up less'n six of
'em at a time. Then they sort o' neutralize one another. Some on 'em'll
be r'arin' an' pitchin', an' some tryin' to run; but they'll be enough
of 'em down an' a-draggin' all the time, to keep the enthusiastic ones
kind o' suppressed, and give me the castin' vote. It's the only right
way to git the bulge on mules.' Whenever you get to worrying about our
various companies, think of the Mule Jones system and be calm.
I'm a little shy of being ruled by one case, even though so exactly
in point, said I.
Well, it's all right, he continued, and about these houses. Why,
we'd have to build them, even if we preferred to live in tents. Put the
cost in the advertising account of Lynhurst Park Addition, if it
worries you. Let me ask you, now, as a reasonable man, how can we
expect the rest of the world to come out here and spring themselves for
humble dwellings with stationary washtubs, conservatories, and porte
cochères, if we ourselves haven't any more confidence in the deal
than to put up Jim Crow wickiups costing not more than ten or fifteen
thousand dollars apiece? That addition has got to be the Nob Hill of
Lattimore. Nothing in the 'poor but honest' line will do for Lynhurst;
and we've got to set the pace. When you see my modest bachelor quarters
going up, you'll cease to think of yours in the light of an
extravagance. By next fall you'll be infested with money, anyhow, and
that house will be the least of your troubles.
Alice and I made up our minds that Jim was right, and went on with
our plans on a scale which sometimes brought back the Aladdin idea to
my mind, accustomed as I was to rural simplicity. But Alice,
notwithstanding that she was the daughter of a country physician of not
very lucrative practice, rose to the occasion, and spent money with a
spontaneous largeness of execution which revealed a genius hitherto
unsuspected by either of us. Jim was thoroughly delighted with it.
The Republic, he argued, cannot be in any real danger when the
modest middle classes produce characters of such strength in meeting
Jim was at his best this summer. He revelled in the work of filling
the morning paper with scare-heads detailing our operations. He enjoyed
being It, he said. Cornish, after the first few days, during which, in
spite of inside information as to his history, I felt that he would
make good the predictions of the Herald, ceased to be, in my
mind, anything more than I wasa trusted aide of Jim, the general.
Both men went rather frequently out to the Trescott farmJim with the
bluff freedom of a brother, Cornish with his rather ceremonious
deference. I distrusted the dark Sir John where women were concerned,
noting how they seemed charmed by him; but I could not see that he had
made any headway in regaining Josie's regard, though I had a lurking
feeling that he meant to do so. I saw at times in his eyes the old look
which I remembered so well.
Josie, more than ever this season, was earning her father's
commendation as his right-hand man. She insisted on driving the four
horses which drew the binder in the harvest. In the haying she operated
the horse-rake, and helped man the hay-fork in filling the barns. She
grew as tanned as if she had spent the time at the seashore or on the
links; and with every month she added to her charm. The scarlet of her
lips, the ruddy luxuriance of her hair, the arrowy straightness of her
carriage, the pulsing health which beamed from her eye, and dyed cheek
and neck, made their appeal to the women, even.
How sweet she is! said Alice, as she came to greet us one day when
we drove to the farm, and waited for her to come to us. How sweet she
Her father came up, and explained to us that he didn't ask any of
his women folks to do any work except what there was in the house. He
was able to hire the outdoors work done, but Josie he couldn't keep out
of the fields.
Why, pa, said she, don't you see you would spoil my chances of
marrying a fairy prince? They absolutely never come into the house; and
my straw hat is the only really becoming thing I've got to wear!
Don't give a dum if yeh never marry, said Bill. Hain't seen the
man yit that was good enough fer yeh, from my standpoint.
Bill's reputation was pretty well known to me by this time. He had
been for years a successful breeder and shipper of live-stock, in which
vocation he had become well-to-do. On his farm he was forceful and
efficient, treading his fields like an admiral his quarter-deck. About
town he was given to talking horses and cattle with the groups which
frequented the stables and blacksmith-shops, and sometimes grew a
little noisy and boisterous with them. Whenever her father went with a
shipment of cattle to Chicago or other market, Josie went too, taking a
regular passenger train in time to be waiting when Bill's stock train
arrived; and after the beeves were disposed of, Bill became her escort
to opera and art-gallery; on such a visit I had seen her at the Stock
Yards. She was fond of her father; but this alone did not explain her
constant attendance upon him. I soon came to understand that his prompt
return from the city, in good condition, was apt to be dependent upon
her influence. It was one of those cases of weakness, associated with
strength, the real mystery of which does not often occur to us because
they are so common.
He came into our office one day with a tremor in his hand and a
hunted look in his eye. He took a chair at my invitation, but rose at
once, went to the door, and looked up and down the street, as if for
pursuers. I saw Captain Tolliver across the street, and Bill's air of
excitement was explained. I was relieved, for at first I had thought
What's the matter, Bill? said I, after he had looked at me
earnestly, almost pantingly, for a few moments. You look nervous.
They're after me, he answered in repressed tones, to sell; and
I'll be blasted if I know what to do! Wha' d'ye' 'spose they're
offerin' me for my land?
The fact is, Bill, said I, that I know all about it. I'm
interested in the deal, somewhat.
Then you know they've bid right around a thousand dollars an acre?
Yes, said I, or at least that they intended to offer that.
An' you're one o' the company, he queried, that's doin' it?
Yes, I admitted.
Wal, said he, I'm kinder sorry you're in it, becuz I've about
concluded to sell; an' it seems to me that any concern that buys at
that figger is a-goin' to bust, sure. W'y, I bought that land fer two
dollars and a haff an acre. But, see here, now; I 'xpect you know your
business, an' see some way of gittin' out in the deal, 'r you wouldn't
pay that. But if I sell, I've got to have help with my folks.
Ah, said I, scenting the usual obstacle in such cases, Mrs.
Trescott a little unwilling to sign the deeds?
No, answered he, strange as it may seem, ma's kinder stuck on
comin' to town to live. How she'll feel after she's tried it fer a
month 'r so, with no chickens 'r turkeys 'r milk to look after, I'm
dubious; but jest now she seems to be all right.
Well, what's the matter then? said I.
Wal, it's Josie, to tell the truth, said he. She's sort o'
hangin' back. An' it's for her sake that I want to make the deal! I've
told her an' told her that there's no dum sense in raisin' corn on
thousand-dollar land; but it's no use, so fur; an' here's the only
chanst I'll ever hev, mebbe, a-slippin' by. She ortn't to live her life
out on a farm, educated as she is. W'y, did you ever hear how she's
I told him that in a general way I knew, but not in detail.
W'l, I want yeh to know all about it, so's yeh c'n see this movin'
business as it is, said he. You know I was allus a rough cuss. Herded
cattle over there by yer father's south place, an' never went to
school. Ma, Josie's ma, y' know, kep' the Greenwood school, an' crossed
the prairie there where I was a-herdin', an' I used to look at her
mighty longin' as she went by, when the cattle happened to be clost
along the track, which they right often done. You know how them things
go. An' fin'ly one morning a blue racer chased her, as the little
whelps will, an' got his dummed little teeth fastened in her dress, an'
she a-hyperin' around haff crazy, and a-screamin' every jump, so's't I
hed to just grab her, an' hold her till I could get the blasted snake
off,harmless, y' know, but got hooked teeth, an' not a lick o'
sense,an' he kinder quirled around my arm, an' I nacherally tore him
to ribbins a-gittin' of him off. An' then she sort o' dropped off, an'
when she come to, I was a-rubbin' her hands an' temples. Wa'n't that a
It's very interesting, said I; go on.
W'l you remember ol' Doc Maxfield? said Bill, well started on a
reminiscence. Wal, he come along, an' said it was the worst case of
collapse, whatever that means, that he ever seeher lips an' hands an'
chin all a-tremblin', an' flighty as a loon. Wal, after that I used to
take her around some, an' her folks objected becuz I was ignorant, an'
she learnt me some things, an' bein' strong an' a good dancer an' purty
good-lookin' she kind o' forgot about my failin's, an' we was married.
Her folks said she'd throwed herself away; but I could buy an' sell the
hull set of 'em now!
This seemed conclusive as to the merits of the case, and I told him
W'l Josie was born an' growed up, continued Bill, an' it's her I
started to tell about, wa'n't it? She was allus a cute little thing,
an' early she got this art business in her head. She'd read about
fellers that had got to be great by paintin' an' carvin', an' it made
her wild to do the same thing. Wa'n't there a feller that pulled hair
outer the cat to paint Injuns with? Yes, I thought they was; I allus
thought they could paint theirselves good enough; but that story an'
some others she read an' read when she was a little gal, an' she was
allus a-paintin' an' makin' things with clay. She took a prize at the
county fair when she was fourteen, with a picter of Washin'ton crossin'
the Delawarethree dollars, by gum! An' then we hed to give her
lessons; an' they wasn't any one thet knew anything around here, she
said, an' she went to Chicago. An' I went in to visit her when she
hedn't ben there more'n six weeks, on an excursion one convention time,
an' I found her all tore up, a good deal as her ma was with the blue
racer,I don't think she's ever ben the same light-hearted little gal
sence,an' from there I took her to New York; an' there she fell in
with a nice woman that was awful good to her, an' they went to Europe,
an' it cost a heap. An' you may've noticed thet Josie knows a pile
more'n the other women here?
I admitted that this had occurred to me.
W'l, she was allus apt to take her head with her, said Bill, but
this travelin' has fixed her like a hoss thet's ben druv in Chicago:
nothin' feazes her, street-cars, brass bands, circuses, overhead
trainsit's all the same to her, she's seen 'em all. Sometimes I git
the notion that she'd enjoy things more if she hadn't seen so dum many
of 'em an' so much better ones, y' know! Wal, after she'd ben over
there a long time, she wrote she was a-comin' home; an' we was tickled
to death. Only I was surprised by her writin' that she wanted us to
take all them old picters of hern, and put 'em out of sight! An' if
you'll b'lieve it, she won't talk picters nor make any sence she got
backonly, jest after she got back, she said she didn't see any use o'
her goin' on dobbin' good canvas up with good paint, an' makin' nothin'
but poor picters; an' she cried some.... I thought it was sing'lar that
this art business that she thought was the only thing thet'd ever make
her happy was the only thing I ever see her cry about.
It's the way, said I, with a great many of our cherished hopes.
W'l, anyhow, you can see thet it's the wrong thing to put as much
time an' money into fixin' a child up f'r a different kind o' life as
we hev, an' then keep her on a farm out here. An' thet's why I want you
to help this sale through, an' bring influence to bear on her. I give
up; I'm all in.
To me Bill seemed entirely in the right. The new era made it absurd
for the Trescotts to use their land longer as a farm. Lattimore was
changing daily. The streets were gashed with trenches for gas-and
water-mains; piled-up materials for curbing, paving, office buildings,
new hotels, and all sorts of erections made locomotion a peril; but we
The water company was organized in our office, the gas and
electric-light company in Cornish's; but every spout led into the same
Mr. Hinckley had induced some country dealers who owned a line of
local grain-houses to remove to Lattimore and put up a huge terminal
elevator for the handling of their trade. Captain Tolliver had been for
a long time working upon a project for developing a great water-power,
by tunneling across a bend in the river, and utilizing the fall. The
building of the elevator attracted the attention of a company of
Rochester millers, and almost before we knew it their forces had been
added to ours, and the tunnel was begun, with the certainty that a
two-thousand-barrel mill would be ready to grind the wheat from the
elevator as soon as the flume began carrying water. This tunnel cut
through an isthmus between the Brushy Creek valley and the river, and
brought to bear on our turbines the head from a ten-mile loop of shoals
and riffles. It opened into the gorge near the southern edge of
Lynhurst Park, and crossed the Trescott farm. So it was that Bill awoke
one day to the fact that his farm was coveted by divers people, who saw
in his fields and feed-yards desirable sites for railway tracks, mills,
factories, and the cottages of a manufacturing suburb. This it was that
had put the Captain, like a blood-hound, on his trial, to the end that
he was run to earth in my office, and made his appeal for help in
There she comes now, said he. Labor with her, won't yeh?
Bring her with us to the hotel, said I, to take dinner. If my
wife and Elkins can't fix the thing, no one can.
So we five dined together, and after dinner discussed the Trescott
crisis. Bill put the case, with all a veteran dealer's logic, in its
But we don't want to be rich, said Josie.
What've we ben actin' all these years like we have for, then?
inquired Bill. Seem's if I'd been lab'rin' under a mistake f'r some
time past. When your ma an' me was a-roughin' it out there in the old
log-house, an' she a-lookin' out at the Feb'uary stars through the
holes in the roof, a-holdin' you, a little baby in bed, we reckoned we
was a-doin' of it to sort o' better ourselves in a property way.
Wouldn't you 'a'thought so, Jim?
Well, said Mr. Elkins, with an air of judicial perpension, if you
had asked me about it, I should have said that, if you wanted to stay
poor, you could have held your own better by staying in Pleasant Valley
Township as a renter. This was no place to come to if you wanted to
conserve your poverty.
But, pa, we're not adapted to town life and towns, urged Josie.
I'm not, and you are not, and as for mamma, she'll never be contented.
Oh, Mr. Elkins, why did you come out here, making us all fortunes which
we haven't earned, and upsetting everything?
Now, don't blame me, Josie, Jim protested. You ought to consider
the fallacy of the post hoc, propter hoc argument. But to return
to the point under discussion. If you could stay there, a rural
Amaryllis, sporting in Arcadian shades, having seen you doing it once
or twice, I couldn't argue against it, it's so charmingly becoming.
If that were all the argument began Josie.
It's the most important oneto my mind, said Jim, resuming the
discussion, and you fail on that point; for you can't live in that way
long. If you don't sell, the Development Company will condemn grounds
for railway tracks and switch-yards; you'll find your fields and
meadows all shot to pieces; and your house will be surrounded by
warehouses, elevators, and factories. Your larks and bobolinks will be
scared off by engines and smokestacks, and your flowers spoiled with
soot. Don't parley with fate, but cash in and put your winnings in some
Once I thought I couldn't stay on the old farm a day longer; but I
feel otherwise now! What business has this 'progress' of yours to
It pushes you out of the nest, answered Jim. It gives you the
chance of your lives. You can come out into Lynhurst Park Addition, and
build your house near the Barslow and Elkins dwellings. We've got about
everything therecity water, gas, electric light, sewers, steam heat
from the traction plant, beautiful view, lots on an established
Don't, don't! said Josie. It sounds like the advertisements in
Well, I was just leading up to a statement of what we lack,
continued Jim. It's the artistic atmosphere. We need a dash of the
culture of Paris and Dresden and the place where they have the dinky
little windmills which look so nice on cream-pitchers, but wouldn't do
for one of our farmers a minute. Come out and supply our lack. You owe
it to the great cause of the amelioration of local savagery; and in
view of my declaration of discipleship, and the effective way in which
I have always upheld the standard of our barbarism, I claim that you
owe it to me.
I've abandoned the brush.
Take it up again.
I have made a vow.
She refused to yield, but was clearly yielding. Alice and I showed
Trescott, on a plat, the place for his new home. He was quite taken
with the idea, and said that ma would certainly be tickled with it.
Josie sat apart with Mr. Elkins, in earnest converse, for a long
time. She looked frequently at her father, Jim constantly at her. Mr.
Cornish dropped in for a little while, and joined us in presenting the
case for removal. While he was there the girl seemed constrained, and
not quite so fully at her ease; and I could detect, I thought, the old
tendency to scrutinize his face furtively. When he went away, she
turned to Jim more intimately than before, and almost promised that she
would become his neighbor in Lynhurst. After the Trescotts' carriage
had come and taken them away, Jim told us that it was for her father,
and the temptations of idleness in the town, that Miss Trescott feared.
This fairy-godmother business, said he, ain't what the prospectus
might lead one to expect. It has its drawbacks. Bill is going to cash
in all right, and I think it's for the best; but, Al, we've got to take
care of the old man, and see that he doesn't go up in the air.
CHAPTER XIII. A Sitting or Two in
the Game with the World and Destiny.
Our game at Lattimore was one of those absorbing ones in which the
sunlight of next morning sifts through the blinds before the players
are aware that midnight is past. Day by day, deal by deal, it went on,
card followed card in fateful fall upon the table, and we who sat in,
and played the World and Destiny with so pitifully small a pile of
chips at the outset, saw the World and Destiny losing to us, until our
hands could scarcely hold, our eyes hardly estimate, the high-piled
stacks of counters which were ours.
We saw the yellowing groves and brown fields of our first autumn; we
heard the long-drawn, wavering, mounting, falling, persistent howl of
the thresher among the settings of hive-shaped stacks; we saw the loads
of red and yellow corn at the corn-cribs,as men at the board of the
green cloth hear the striking of the hours. And we heeded them as
little. The cries of southing wild-fowl heralded the snow; winter came
for an hour or so, and melted into spring; and some of us looked up
from our hands for a moment, to note the fact that it was the
anniversary of that aguish day when three of us had first taken our
seats at the table: and before we knew it, the dust and heat and summer
clouds, like that which lightened over the fete in the park, admonished
us that we were far into our second year. And still shuffle, cut, deal,
trick, and hand followed each other, and with draw and bluff and
showdown we played the World and Destiny, and playing won, and saw our
stacks of chips grow higher and higher, as our great and absorbing game
Moreover, while we won and won, nobody seemed to lose. Josie spoke
that night of fortunes which people had not earned; but surely they
were created somehow; and as the universe, when the divine fiat had
formed the world, was richer, rather than poorer, so, we felt, must
these values so magically growing into our fortunes be good, rather
than evil, and honestly ours, so far as we might be able to secure them
to ourselves. I said as much to Jim one day, at which he smiled, and
remarked that if we got to monkeying with the ethics of the trade,
piracy would soon be a ruined business.
Better, far better keep the lookout sweeping the horizon for
sails, said he, and when one appears, serve out the rum and gunpowder
to the crew, and stand by to lower away the boats for a
I am afraid I have given the impression that our life at this time
was solely given over to cupidity and sordidness; and that idea I may
not be able to remove. Yet I must try to do so. We were in the game to
win; but our winnings, present and prospective, were not in wealth
only. To surmount obstacles; to drive difficulties before us like
scattering sparrows; to see a town marching before us into cityhood; to
feel ourselves the forces working through human masses so mightily
that, for hundreds of miles about us, social and industrial factors
were compelled to readjust themselves with reference to us; to be
masters; to createall these things went into our beings in thrilling
and dizzying pulsations of a pleasure which was not ignoble.
For instance, let us take the building of the Lattimore &Great
Western Railway. Before Mr. Elkins went to Lattimore this line had been
surveyed by the coöperation of Mr. Hinckley, Mr. Ballard, the president
of the opposition bank, and some others. It was felt that there was
little real competition among the railways centering there, and the L.
&G.W. was designed as a hint to them of a Lattimore-built connection
with the Halliday system, then a free-lance in the transportation
field, and ready to make rates in an independent and competitive way.
The Angus Falls extension brought this system in, but too late to do
the good expected; for Mr. Halliday, in his dealings with us, convinced
us of the truth of the rumors that he had brought the other roads to
terms, and was a free-lance no longer. Month by month the need of real
competition in our carrying trade grew upon us. Rates accorded to other
cities on our commercial fighting line we could not get, in spite of
the most persistent efforts. In the offices of presidents and general
managers, in St. Louis, Chicago, St. Paul and Minneapolis, Kansas City,
Omaha and New York we were received by suave princes of the highways,
who each blandly assured us that his road looked with especial favor
upon our town, and that our representations should receive the most
solicitous attention. But the word of promise was ever broken to the
After one of these embassies the syndicate held a meeting in
Cornish's elegant offices on the ground-floor of the new Hotel Elkins
building. We sent Giddings away to prepare an optimistic news-story for
to-morrow's Herald, and an editorial leader based upon it, both
of which had been formulated among us before going into executive
session on the state of the nation. Hinckley, who had an admirable
power of seeing the crux of a situation, was making a rather grave
prognosis for us.
If we can't get rates which will let us into a broader territory,
we may as well prepare for reverses, said he. Foreign cement comes
almost to our doors, in competition with ours. Wheat and live-stock go
from within twenty miles to points five hundred miles away. Who is
furnishing the brick and stone for the new Fairchild court-house and
the big normal-school buildings at Angus Falls? Not our quarries and
kilns, but others five times as far away. If you want to figure out the
reason of this, you will find it in nothing else in the world but the
It's a confounded outrage, said Cornish. Can't we get help from
I understand that some action is expected next winter, said I;
Senator Conley had in here the other day a bill he has drawn; and it
seems to me we should send a strong lobby down at the proper time in
support of it.
Ye-e-s, drawled Jim, but I believe in still stronger measures;
and rather than bother with the legislature, owned as it is by the
roads, I'd favor writing cuss-words on the water-tanks, or going up the
track a piece and makin' faces at one of their confounded
whistling-posts or cattle-guardsor something real drastic like that!
Cornish, galled, as was I, by this irony, flushed crimson, and rose.
The situation, said he, instead of being a serious one, as I have
believed, seems merely funny. This conference may as well end. Having
taken on things here under the impression that this was to be a city;
it seems that we are to stay a village. It occurs to me that it's time
to stand from under! Good-evening!
Wait! said Hinckley. Don't go, Cornish; it isn't as bad as that!
As he spoke he laid his hand on Cornish's arm, and I saw that he was
pale. He felt more keenly than did I the danger of division and strife
Yes, Mr. Hinckley, said Jim, as Cornish sat down again, it is
as bad as that! This thing amounts to a crisis. For one, I don't
propose to adopt the 'stand-from-under' tactics. They make an
unnecessary disaster as certain as death; but if we all stand under and
lift, we can win more than we've ever thought. In the legislature they
hold the cards and can beat us. It's no use fooling with that unless we
seek martyrs' deaths in the bankruptcy courts. But there is a way to
meet these men, and that is by bringing to our aid their greatest
Do you mean said Hinckley.
I mean Avery Pendleton and the Pendleton system, replied Elkins.
I mean that we've got to meet them on their own ground. Pendleton
won't declare war on the Halliday combination by building in here, but
there is no reason why we can't build to him, and that's what I propose
to do. We'll take the L. &G. W., swing it over to the east from the Elk
Fork up, make a junction with Pendleton's Pacific Division, and, in one
week after we get trains running, we'll have the freight combine here
shot so full of holes that it won't hold corn-stalks! That's what we'll
do: we'll do a little rate-making ourselves; and we'll make this danger
the best thing that ever happened to us. Do you see?
Cornish saw, sooner than any one else. As he spoke, Jim had unrolled
a map, and pointed out the places as he referred to them, like a
general, as he was, outlining the plan of a battle. He began this
speech in that quiet, convincing way of his, only a little elevated
above the sarcasm of a moment before. As he went on, his voice
deepened, his eye gleamed, and in spite of his colloquialisms, which we
could not notice, his words began to thrill us like potent oratory. We
felt all that ecstasy of buoyant and auspicious rebellion which
animated Hotspur the night he could have plucked bright honor from the
pale-faced moon. At Jim's final question, Cornish, forgetting his
pique, sprang to the map, swept his finger along the line Elkins had
described, followed the main ribs of Pendleton's great gridiron, on
which the fat of half a dozen states lay frying, on to terminals on
lakes and rivers; and as he turned his black eyes upon us, we knew from
the fire in them that he saw.
By heavens! he cried, you've hit it, Elkins! And it can be done!
From to-night, no more paper railroads for us; it must be grading-gangs
and ties, and steel rails!
So, also, there was good fighting when Cornish wired from New York
for Elkins and me to come to his aid in placing our Lattimore &Great
Western bonds. Of course, we never expected to build this railway with
our own funds. For two reasons, at least: it is bad form to do
eccentric things, and we lacked a million or two of having the money.
The line with buildings and rolling stock would cost, say, twelve
thousand dollars per mile. Before it could be built we must find some
one who would agree to take its bonds for at least that sum. As no one
would pay quite par for bonds of a new and independent road, we must
add, say, three thousand dollars per mile for discount. Moreover, while
the building of the line was undertaken from motives of
self-preservation, there seemed to be no good reason why we should not
organize a construction company to do the actual work of building, and
that at a profit. That this profit might be assured, something like
three thousand dollars per mile more must go in. Of course, whoever
placed the bonds would be asked to guarantee the interest for two or
three years; hence, with two thousand more for that and good measure,
we made up our proposed issue of twenty thousand dollars per mile of
first-mortgage bonds, to dispose of which the former member of the
firm of Lusch, Carskaddan &Mayer was revisiting the glimpses of Wall
Street, and testing the strength of that mighty influence which the
Herald had attributed to him.
You've just got to win, said Giddings, who was admitted to
the secret of Cornish's embassy, not only because Lattimore and all
the citizens thereof will be squashed in the event of your slipping up;
but, what is of much more importance, the Herald will be laid in
a lie about your Wall Street pull. Remember that when foes surround
When we joined him, Cornish admitted that he was fairly well
surrounded. He had failed to secure the aid of Barr-Smith's friends,
who said that, with the street-car system and the cement works, they
had quite eggs enough in the Lattimore basket for their present
purposes. In fact, he had felt out to blind ends nearly all the
promising burrows supposedly leading to the strong boxes of the
investing public, of which he had told us. He accounted for this lack
of success on the very natural theory that the Halliday combination had
found out about his mission, and was fighting him through its influence
with the banks and trust companies. So he had done at last what Jim had
advised him to do at firstsecured an appointment with the mighty Mr.
Pendleton; and, somewhat humbled by unsuccess, had telegraphed for us
to come on and help in presenting the thing to that magnate.
Whom, being fenced off by all sorts of guards, messengers, clerks,
and secretaries, we saw after a pilgrimage through a maze of offices.
He had not the usual features which make up an imposing appearance; but
command flowed from him, and authority covered him as with a mantle. We
knew that he possessed and exerted the power to send prosperity in this
channel, or inject adversity into that, as a gardener directs water
through his trenches, and this knowledge impressed us. He was rather
thin; but not so much so as his sharp, high nose, his deep-set eyes,
and his bony chin at first sight seemed to indicate. Whenever he spoke,
his nostrils dilated, and his gray eyes said more than his lips
uttered. He was courteous, with a sort of condensed courtesythe
shorthand of ceremoniousness. He turned full upon us from his desk as
we entered, rose and met us as his clerk introduced us.
Mr. Barslow, I'm happy to meet you; and you also, Mr. Cornish. Mr.
Wilson 'phoned about your enterprise just now. Mr. Elkins, as he took
Jim's hand, I have heard of you also. Be seated, gentlemen. I have
given you a time appropriation of thirty minutes. I hope you will
excuse me for mentioning that at the end of that period my time will be
no longer my own. Kindly explain what it is you desire of me, and why
you think that I can have any interest in your project.
And, with a judgment trained in the valuing of men, he turned to Jim
as our leader.
If our enterprise doesn't commend itself to your judgment in twenty
minutes, said Jim, with a little smile, and in much the same tone that
he would have used in discussing a cigar, there'll be no need of
wasting the other ten; for it's perfectly plain. I'll expedite matters
by skipping what we desire, for the most part, and telling you why we
think the Pendleton system ought to desire the same thing. Our plan, in
a word, is to build a hundred and fifty miles of line, and from it
deliver two full train-loads of through east-bound freight per day to
your road, and take from you a like amount of west-bound tonnage, not
one pound of which can be routed over your lines at present.
Mr. Pendleton smiled.
A very interesting proposition, Mr. Elkins, said he; my business
is railroading, and I am always glad to perfect myself in the knowledge
of it. Make it plain just how this can be done, and I shall consider my
half-hour well expended.
Then began the fateful conversation out of which grew the building
of the Lattimore &Great Western Railway. Jim walked to the map which
covered one wall of the room, and dropped statement after statement
into the mind of Pendleton like round, compact bullets of fact. It was
the best piece of expository art imaginable. Every foot of the road was
described as to gradients, curves, cuts, fills, trestles, bridges, and
local traffic. Then he began with Lattimore; and we who breathed in
nothing but knowledge of that city and its resources were given new
light as to its shipments and possibilities of growth. He showed how
the products of our factories, the grain from our elevators, the
live-stock from our yards, and the meats from our packing-houses could
be sent streaming over the new road and the lines of Pendleton.
Then he turned to our Commercial Club, and showed that the
merchants, both wholesale and retail, of Lattimore were welded together
in its membership, in such wise that their merchandise might be routed
from the great cities over the proposed track. He piled argument on
argument. He hammered down objection after objection before they could
be suggested. He met Mr. Pendleton in the domain of railroad
construction and management, and showed himself familiar with the
relative values of Pendleton's own lines.
Your Pacific Division, said he, must have disappointed some of
the expectations with which it was built. Its earnings cannot, in view
of the distance they fall below those of your other lines, be quite
satisfactory to you. Give us the traffic agreement we ask; and your
next report after we have finished our line will show the Pacific
Division doing more than its share in the great showing of revenue per
mile which the Pendleton system always makes. I see that my twenty
minutes is about up. I hope I have made good our promises as to showing
cause for coming to you with our project.
Mr. Pendleton, after a moment's thought, said: Have you made an
engagement for lunch?
We had not. He turned to the telephone, and called for a number.
Is this Mr. Wade's office?... Yes, if you please.... Is this Mr.
Wade?... This is Pendleton talking to you.... Yes, Pendleton.... There
are some gentlemen in my office, Mr. Wade, whom I want you to meet, and
I should be glad if you could join us at lunch at the club.... Well,
can't you call that off, now?... Say, at one-thirty.... Yes.... Very
kind of you.... Thanks! Good-by.
Having made his arrangements with Mr. Wade, he hung up the
telephone, and pushed an electric button. A young man from an outer
Tell Mr. Moore, said Pendleton to him, that he will have to see
the gentlemen who will call at twelveon that lake terminal matterhe
will understand. And see that I am not disturbed until after lunch....
And, say, Frank! See if Mr. Adams can come in hereat once, please.
Mr. Adams, who turned out to be some sort of a freight expert, came
in, and the rest of the interview was a bombardment of questions, in
which we all took turns as targets. When we went to lunch we felt that
Mr. Pendleton had possessed himself of all we knew about our
enterprise, and filed the information away in some vast pigeon-hole
case with his own great stock of knowledge.
We met Mr. Wade over an elaborate lunch. He said, as he shook hands
with Cornish, that he believed they had met somewhere, to which Cornish
bowed a frigid assent. Mr. Wade was the head of The Allen G. Wade Trust
Company, and seemed in a semi-comatose condition, save when cates,
wine, or securities were under discussion. He addressed me as Mr.
Corning, and called Cornish Atkins, and once in a while opened his
mouth to address Jim by name, but halted, with a distressful look, at
the realization of the fact that he could not remember names enough to
go around. He made an appointment with me for the party for the next
If you will come to my office before you call on Mr. Wade, said
Mr. Pendleton, I will have a memorandum prepared of what we will do
with you in the way of a traffic agreement: it may be of some use in
determining the desirability of your bonds. I'm very glad to have met
you, gentlemen. When Lattimore gets into my worldby which I mean our
system and connectionsI hope to visit the little city which has so
strong a business community as to be able to send out such a committee
as yourselves; good-afternoon!
Well, said I, as we went toward our hotel, this looks like
progress, doesn't it?
I sha'n't feel dead sure, said Jim, until the money is in bank,
subject to the check of the construction company. But doesn't it look
juicy, right now! Why, boys, with that traffic agreement we can get the
money anywhereon the prairie, out at seaanywhere under the shining
sun! They can't beat us. What do you say, Cornish? Will, your friend
Wade jar loose, or shall we have to seek further?
He'll snap at your bonds now, said Cornish, rather glumly, I
thought, considering the circumstances; but don't call him a friend of
mine! Why, damn him, not a week ago he turned me out of his office,
saying that he didn't want to look into any more Western railway
schemes! And now he says he believes we've met before!
This seemed to strike Mr. Elkins as the best practical joke he had
ever heard of; and Cornish suggested that for a man to stop in Homeric
laughter on Broadway might be pleasant for him, but was embarrassing to
his companions. By this time Cornish himself was better-natured. Jim
took charge of our movements, and commanded us to a dinner with him, in
the nature of a celebration, with a theater-party afterward.
Let us, said he, hear the chimes at midnight, or even after, if
we get buncoed doing it. Who cares if we wind up in the police court!
We've done the deed; we've made our bluff good with Halliday and his
gang of highwaymen; and I feel like taking the limit off, if it lifts
the roof! Al, hold your hand over my mouth or I shall yell!
Come into my parlor, and yell for me, said Cornish, and you may
do my turn in police court, too. Come in, and behave yourself!
I began writing a telegram to my wife, apprising her of our good
luck. The women in our circle knew our hopes, ambitions, and troubles,
as the court ladies know the politics of the realm, and there were
anxious hearts in Lattimore.
I'm going down to the telegraph-office with this, said I; can I
take yours, too?
When I handed the messages in, the man who received them insisted on
my reading them over with him to make sure of correct transmission.
There was one to Mr. Hinckley, one to Mr. Ballard, and two to Miss
Josephine Trescott. One ran thus, Success seems assured. Rejoice with
me. J. B. C. The other was as follows: In game between Railway Giants
and Country Jakes here to-day, visiting team wins. Score, 9 to 0.
Barslow, catcher, disabled. Crick in neck looking at high buildings.
Have Mrs. B. prepare porous plaster for Saturday next. Sell Halliday
stock short, and buy L. &G. W. And in name all things good and holy
don't tell Giddings! J. R. E.
CHAPTER XIV. In which we Learn
Something of Railroads, and Attend Some Remarkable Christenings.
And so, in due time, it came to pass that, our Aladdin having rubbed
the magic ring with which his Genius had endowed him, there came, out
of some thunderous and smoky realm, peopled with swart kobolds, and lit
by the white fire of gushing cupolas and dazzling billets, a train of
carriages, drawn by a tamed volcanic demon, on a wonderful way of
steel, armed strongly to deliver us from the Castle Perilous in which
we were besieged by the Giants. The way was marvelously prepared by
theodolite and level, by tented camps of men driving, with shouts and
cracking whips, straining teams in circling mazes, about dark pits on
grassy hillsides, and building long, straight banks of earth across
swales; by huge machines with iron fists thrusting trunks of trees into
the earth; by mighty creatures spinning great steel cobwebs over
At last, a short branch of steel shot off from Pendleton's Pacific
Division, grew daily longer and longer, pushed across the level
earth-banks, the rows of driven tree-trunks, and the spun steel
cobwebs, through the dark pits, nearer and nearer to Lattimore, and at
last entered the beleaguered city, amid rejoicings of the populace.
Most of whom knew but vaguely the facts of either siege or deliverance;
but who shouted, and tossed their caps, and blew the horns and beat the
drums, because the Herald in a double-leaded editorial assured
them that this was the event for which Lattimore had waited to
be raised to complete parity with her envious rivals. Furthermore,
Captain Tolliver, magniloquently enthusiastic, took charge of the
cheering, artillery, and band-music, and made a tumultuous success of
He told me, said Giddings, that when the people of the North can
be brought for a moment into that subjection which is proper for the
masses, 'they make devilish good troops, suh, devilish good troops!'
And so it also happened that Mr. Elkins found himself the president
of a real railway, with all the perquisites that go therewith. Among
these being the power to establish town-sites and give them names. The
former function was exercised according to the principles usually
governing town-site companies, and with ends purely financial in view.
The latter was elevated to the dignity of a ceremony. The rails were
scarcely laid, when President Elkins invited a choice company to go
with him over the line and attend the christening of the stations. He
convinced the rest of us of the wisdom of this, by showing us that it
would awaken local interest along the line, and prepare the way for the
auction sales of lots the next week.
It's advertising of the choicest kind, said he. Giddings will sow
it far and wide in the press dispatches, and it will attract attention;
and attention is what we want. We'll start early, run to the station
Pendleton has called Elkins Junction, at the end of the line, lie over
for a couple of hours, and come home, bestowing names as we come. Help
me select the party, and we'll consider it settled.
As the train was to be a light one, consisting of a buffet-car and a
parlor-car, the party could not be very large. The officers of the
road, Mr. Adams, who was general traffic manager, and selected by the
bondholders, and Mr. Kittrick, the general manager, who was found in
Kansas City by Jim, went down first as a matter of course. Captain
Tolliver and his wife, the Trescotts, the Hinckleys, with Mr. Cornish
and Giddings, were put down by Jim; and to these we added the
influential new people, the Alexanders, who came with the cement-works,
of which Mr. Alexander was president, Mr. Densmore, who controlled the
largest of the elevators, and Mr. Walling, whose mill was the first to
utilize the waters of our power-tunnel, and who was the visible
representative of millions made in the flouring trade. Smith, our
architect, was included, as was Cecil Barr-Smith, sent out by his
brother to be superintendent of the street-railway, and looking upon
the thing in the light of an exile, comforted by the beautiful native
princess Antonia. We left Macdonald out, because he always called the
young man Smith, and could not be brought to forget an early
impression that he and the architect were brothers; besides, said Jim,
Macdonald was afraid of the cars as he was of the hyphen, being most of
the time on the range with the cattle belonging to himself and
Hinckley. Which, being interpreted, meant that Mr. Macdonald would not
care to go.
Mr. Ballard was invited on account of his early connection with the
L. & G. W. project, although he was holding himself more and more aloof
from the new movements, and held forth often upon the value of
conservatism. Miss Addison, who was related to the Lattimore family,
was commissioned to invite the old General, who very unexpectedly
consented. His son Will, as solicitor for the railway company and one
of the directors, was to be one of us if he could. These with their
wives and some invited guests from near-by towns made up the party.
We were well acquainted with each other by this time, so that it was
quite like a family party or a gathering of old friends. Captain
Tolliver was austerely polite to General Lattimore, whose refusal to
concern himself with the question as to whether our city grew to a
hundred thousand or shrunk to five he accounted for on the ground that
a man who had led hired ruffians to trample out the liberty of a brave
people must be morally warped.
The General came, tall and spare as ever, wearing his beautiful
white moustache and imperial as a Frenchman would wear the cross of the
Legion of Honor. He was quite unable to sympathize with our
lot-selling, our plenitude of corporations, or our feverish pushing of
developments. But the building of the railway attracted him. He
looked back at the new-made track as we flew along; and his eyes
flashed under the bushy white brows. He sat near Josie, and held her in
conversation much of the outward trip; but Jim he failed to appreciate,
and treated indifferently.
He is History incarnate, said Mrs. Tolliver, and cannot rejoice
in the passing of so much that is a part of himself.
Giddings said that this was probably true; and under the
circumstances he couldn't blame him. He, Giddings, would feel a little
sore to see things which were a part of himself going out of
date. It was a natural feeling. Whereupon Mrs. Tolliver addressed her
remarks very pointedly elsewhere; and Antonia Hinckley privately
admonished Giddings not to be mean; and Giddings sought the buffet and
smoked. Here I joined him, and over our cigars he confessed to me that
life to him was an increasing burden, rapidly becoming intolerable.
We had noticed, I informed him, an occasional note of gloom in his
editorials. This ought not to be, now that the real danger to our
interests seemed to be over, and we were going forward so wonderfully.
To which he replied that with the gauds of worldly success he had no
concern. The editorials I criticised were joyous and ebulliently
hilarious compared with those which might be expected in the future. If
we could find some blithesome ass to pay him for the Herald
enough money to take him out of our scrambled Bedlam of a town, bring
the idiot on, and he (Giddings) would arrange things so we could have
our touting done as we liked it!
Now the Herald had become a very valuable property, and of
all men Giddings had the least reason to speak despitefully of
Lattimore; and his frame of mind was a mystery to me, until I
remembered that there was supposed to be something amiss between him
and Laura Addison. Craftily leading the conversation to the point where
confidences were easy, I was rewarded by a passionate disclosure on his
part, which would have amounted to an outburst, had it not been
restrained by the presence of Cornish, Hinckley, and Trescott at the
other end of the compartment.
Oh, pshaw! said I, you've no cause for despair. On your own
showing, there's every reason for you to hope.
You don't know the situation, Barslow, he insisted, shaking his
head gloomily, and there's no use in trying to tell you. She's too
exalted in her ideals ever to accept me. She's told me things about the
qualities she must have in the one who should be nearest to her that
just simply shut me out; and I haven't called since. Oh, I tell you,
Barslow, sometimes I feel as if I couldYes, sir, it'll be accepted as
the best piece of railroad building for years!
I was surprised at the sudden transition, until I saw that our
fellow passengers were crowding to our end of the car in response to
the conductor's announcement that we were coming into Elkins Junction.
I made a note of Giddings's state of mind, as the subject of a
conference with Jim. The Herald was of too much importance to us
for this to be neglected. The disciple of Iago must in some way be
restored to his normal view of things. I could not help smiling at the
vast difference between his view of Laura and mine. I, wrongly perhaps,
thought her affectedly pietistic, with ideals likely to be yielding in
spirit if the letter were preserved.
Elkins Junction was a platform, a depot, an eating-house, and a Y;
and it was nothing else.
We've come up here, said Jim, to show you probably the smallest
town in the state, and the only one in the world named after me. We
wanted to show you the whole line, and Mr. Schwartz felt as if he'd
prefer to turn his engine around for the return trip. The last two
towns we came through, and hence the first two going back, are old
places. The third station is a new town, and Conductor Corcoran will
take us back there, where we'll unveil the name of the station, and
permit the people to know where they live. While we're doing the
sponsorial act, lunch will be prepared and ready for us to discuss
during the next run.
On the way back there was a stir of suppressed excitement among the
It's about this name, said Miss Addison to her seat-mate. The
town is on the shore of Mirror Lake, and they say it will be an
important one, and a summer resort; and no one knows what the name is
to be but Mr. Elkins.
Really, a very odd affair! said Miss Allen, of Fairchild,
Antonia's college friend. It makes a social function of the naming of
Yes, said Mr. Elkins, and it is one of the really enduring things
we can do. Long after the memory of every one here is departed, these
villages will still bear the names we give them to-day. If there's any
truth in the belief that some people have, that names have an influence
for good or evil, the naming of the towns may be important as building
I was sitting with Antonia. Miss Allen and Captain Tolliver were
with us, our faces turned toward one another. General Lattimore, with
Josie and her father, was on the opposite side of the car. Most of the
company were sitting or standing near, and the conversation was quite
Oh, it's like a romance! half whispered Antonia to us. I envy you
men who build roads and make towns. Look at Mr. Elkins, Sadie, as he
stands there! He is master of everything; to me he seems as great as
She neither blushed nor sought to conceal from us her adoration for
Jim. It was the day of his triumph, and a fitting time to acknowledge
his kinghood; and her admission that she thought him the greatest, the
most excellent of men did not surprise me. Yet, because he was older
than she, and had never put himself in a really loverlike attitude
toward her, I thought it was simply an exalted girlish regard, and not
at all what we usually understand by an affair of the heart. Moreover,
at that time such praise as she gave him would not have been thought
extravagant in almost any social gathering in Lattimore. Let me confess
that to me it does not now seem so ... Cecil Barr-Smith walked out and
stood on the platform.
General Lattimore was apparently thinking of the features of the
situation which had struck Antonia as romantic.
You young men, said he, are among the last of the city-builders
and road-makers. My generation did these things differently. We went
out with arms in our hands, and hewed out spaces in savagery for homes.
You don't seem to see it; but you are straining every nerve merely to
shift people from many places to one, and there to exploit them. You
wind your coils about an inert mass, you set the dynamo of your power
of organization at work, and the inert mass becomes a great magnet.
People come flying to it from the four quarters of the earth, and the
first-comers levy tribute upon them, as the price of standing-room on
I nevah hea'd the real merit and strength and safety of ouah
real-estate propositions bettah stated, suh! said Captain Tolliver
Jim stood looking at the General with sober regard.
Go on, General, said he.
Not only that, went on the General, but people begin forestalling
the standing-room, so as to make it scarcer. They gamble on the power
of the magnet, and the length of time it will draw. They buy to-day and
sell to-morrow; or cast up what they imagine they might sell for, and
call the increase profit. Then comes the time when the magnet ceases to
draw, or the forestallers, having, in their greed, grasped more than
they can keep, offer too much for the failing market, and all at once
the thing stops, and the dervish-dance ends in coma, in cold forms and
still hands, in misery and extinction!
There was a pause, during which the old soldier sat looking out of
the widow, no one else finding aught to say. Elkins remained standing,
and once or twice gave that little movement of the head which precedes
speech, but said nothing. Cornish smiled sardonically. Josie looked
anxiously at Jim, apprehensive as to how he would take it. At last it
was Ballard the conservative who broke silence.
I hope, General, said he, that our little movement won't develop
into a dervish-dance. Anyhow, you will join in our congratulations upon
the completion of the railroad. You know you once did some
railroad-building yourself, down there in TennesseeI know, for I was
there. And I've always taken an interest in track-laying ever since.
So have I, said the General; that's what brought me out to-day.
Oh, tell us about it, said Josie, evidently pleased at the change
of subject; tell us about it, please.
No, no! he protested, you may read it better in the histories,
written by young fellows who know more about it than we who were there.
You'll find, when you read it, that it was something like this: Grant's
host was over around Chattanooga, starving for want of means for
carrying in provisions. We were marching eastward to join him, when a
message came telling us to stop at Decatur and rebuild the railroad to
Nashville. So, without a thought that there was such a thing as an
impossibility, we stoppedwe seven or eight thousand common Americans,
volunteer soldiers, picked at random from the legions of heroes who
saved liberty to the worldand without an engineering corps, without
tools or implements, with nothing except what any like number of our
soldiers had, we stopped and built the road. That is all. The rails had
been heated, and wound about trees and stumps. The cross-ties were
burned to heat the rails. The cars had been destroyed by fire, and
their warped ironwork thrown into ditches. The engines lay in
scrap-heaps at the bottoms of ravines and rivers. The bridges were
gone. Out of the chaos to which the structure had been resolved, there
was nothing left but the road-bed.
When I think of what we did, I know that with liberty and
intelligence men with their naked hands could, in short space,
re-create the destroyed wealth of the world. We made tools of the
scraps of iron and steel we found along the line. We felled trees. We
impressed little sawmills and sawed the logs into timbers for bridges
and cars. Out of the battle-scarred and march-worn ranks came creative
and constructive genius in such profusion as to astound us, who thought
we knew them so well. Those blue-coated fellows, enlisted and serving
as food for powder, and used to destruction, rejoiced in once more
feeling the thrill there is in making things.
Out of the ranks came millers, and ground the grain the foragers
brought in; came woodmen, and cut the trees; came sawyers, and sawed
the lumber. We asked for blacksmiths; and they stepped from the ranks,
and made their own tools and the tools of the machinists. We called for
machinists; and out of the ranks they stepped, and rebuilt the engines,
and made the cars ready for the carpenters. When we wanted carpenters,
out of the same ranks of common soldiers they walked, and made the
cars. From the ranks came other men, who took the twisted rails,
unwound them from the stumps and unsnarled them from one another, as
women unwind yarn, and laid them down fit to carry our trains. And in
forty days our message went back to Grant that we had 'stopped and
built the road,' and that our engines were even then drawing supplies
to his hungry army. Such was the incomparable army which was commanded
by that silent genius of war; and to have been one of such an army is
to have lived!
The withered old hand trembled, as the great past surged back
through his mind. We all sat in silence; and I looked at Captain
Tolliver, doubtful as to how he would take the old Union general's
speech. What the Captain's history had been none of us knew, except
that he was a Southerner. When the general ceased, Tolliver was sitting
still, with no indication of being conscious of anything special in the
conversation, except that a red spot burned in each dark cheek. As the
necessity for speech grew with the lengthening silence, he rose and
faced General Lattimore.
Suh, said he, puhmit a man who was with the victohs of Manasses;
who chahged with mo' sand than sense at Franklin; and who cried like a
child aftah Nashville, and isn't ashamed of it, by gad! to offah his
hand, and to say that he agrees with you, suh, in youah tribute to the
soldiers of the wah, and honahs you, suh, as a fohmah foe, and a worthy
one, and he hopes, a future friend!
Somehow, the Captain's swelling phrases, his sonorous allusions to
himself in the third person, had for the moment ceased to be
ridiculous. The environment fitted the expression. The general grasped
his hand and shook it. Then Ballard claimed the right, as one of the
survivors of Franklin, to a share in the reunion, and they at once
removed the strain which had fallen upon us with the General's first
speech, by relating stories and fraternizing soldierwise, until
Conductor Corcoran called in at the door, Mystery Number One! All out
for the christening!
As we gathered on the platform, we saw that the signboard on the
station-building, for the name of the town, had been put up, but was
veiled by a banner draped over it. Tents were pitched near, in which
people lived waiting for the lot-auction, that they might buy sites for
shops and homes. The waters of the lake shone through the trees a few
rods away; and in imagination I could see the village of the future,
sprinkled about over the beautiful shore. The future villagers gathered
near the platform; and when Jim stepped forward to make the speech of
the occasion, he had a considerable audience.
Ladies and gentlemen, said he, our visit is for the purpose of
showing the interest which the Lattimore &Great Western takes and will
continue to take in the towns on its line, and to add a name to what, I
notice, has already become a local habitation. In conferring that name,
we are aware that the future citizens of the place have claims upon us.
So one has been selected which, as time passes, will grow more and more
pleasant to your ears; and one which the person bestowing it regards as
an honor to the town as high as could be conferred in a name. No
station on our lines could have greater claims upon our regard than the
possession of this name. And now, gentlemen
Mr. Elkins removed his hat, and we all followed his example. Some
one pulled a cord, the banner fell away, and the name was revealed. It
was JOSEPHINE. The women looked at it, and turned their eyes on
Josie, who blushed rosily, and shrank back behind her father, who burst
into a loud laugh of unalloyed pleasure.
I propose three cheers for the town of Josephine, went on Mr.
Elkins, and for the lady for whom it is named!
They were real cheersgood hearty ones; followed by an address, in
the name of the town, by a bright young man who pushed forward and with
surprising volubility thanked President Elkins for his selection of the
name, and closed with flowery compliments to the blushing Miss
Trescott, whose identity Jim had disclosed by a bow. He was afterwards
a thorn in our flesh in his practice as a personal-injury lawyer. At
the time, however, we warmed to him, as under his leadership the
dwellers in the tents and round about the waters of Mirror Lake all
shook hands with Jim and Josie.
Cornish stood with a saturnine smile on his face, and glared at some
of the more pointed hits of the young lawyer. Cecil Barr-Smith beamed
radiant pleasure, as he saw the evident linking in this public way of
Jim's name and Josie's. Antonia stood close to Cecil's side, and
chatted vivaciously to himnot with him; for her words seemed to have
no correlation with his.
Quite like the going away of a bridal party! said she with
exaggerated gayety, and with a little spitefulness, I thought. Has any
one any rice?
All aboard! said Corcoran; and the joyful and triumphant party,
with their outward intimacy and their inward warfare of passions and
desires, rolled on toward Mystery Number Two, which was duly
christened Cornish, and celebrated in champagne furnished by its
Don't you ever drink champagne? said Cornish, as Josie declined to
Never, said she.
What, never? he went on, Pinaforically.
My God! thought I, the assurance of the man! And the
palm-encircled alcove at Auriccio's, as it was wont so often to do,
came across my vision, and shut out everything but the Psyche face in
its ruddy halo, speeding by me into the street, and the vexed young man
in the faultless attire slowly following.
Mystery Number Three was Antonia, a lovely little place in embryo;
Barslow came next, followed by Giddings and Tolliver. We were
tired of it when we reached Hinckley, platted on a farm owned by
Antonia's father, and where we ceased to perform the ceremony of
unveiling. It was a memorable trip, ending with sunset and home.
Captain Tolliver assisted General Lattimore to alight from the train,
and they went arm in arm up to the old General's home.
That night, according to his wont, Jim came to smoke with me in the
late evening. Let's take a car, said he, and go up and have a look
at the houses.
These were our new mansions up in Lynhurst Park Addition, now in
process of erection. In the moonlight we could see them dimly, and at a
little distance they looked like masses of ruinsthe second childhood
of houses. A stranger could have seen, from the polished columns and
the piles of carved stone, that they were to be expensive and probably
What do you think of the General in the rôle of Cassandra? asked
Jim, as we sat in the skeleton room which was to be his library.
It struck me, said I, as a particularly artistic bit of
The Captain says frequently, said Jim, his cigar glowing like a
variable star, that opportunity knocks once. The General, I'm afraid,
knocks all the time. But if it should turn out that he's right about
thethedervish-dance ... it would be ... to put it mildly ... a
horse on us, Al, wouldn't it?
I had no answer to this fanciful speech, and made none. Instead, I
told him of Giddings's love-sickness.
The philosophy of Iago has broken down, said he, and the boy is
sort of short-circuited. Antonia can take him in hand, and turn him out
full of confidence; and with that, I'll answer for the lady. That can
be fixed easy, and ought to be. Let's walk back.
What was it he said? he asked, as we parted. 'Coma, cold forms,
still hands, and extinction.' Well, if the dervish-dance does wind up
in that sort of thing, it's only a short-cut to the inevitable. Those
are pretty houses up there; we'd have been astounded over them when we
used to fish together on Beaver Creek;but suppose they are?
'They say the Lion and the Lizard keep
The Courts where Jamshyd gloried and drank deep;
And Bahram, that great hunterthe Wild Ass
Stamps o'er his Head, but cannot break his Sleep!'
CHAPTER XV. Some Affairs of the
Heart Considered in their Relation to Dollars and Cents.
Antonia was sitting in a hammock. Josie and Alice were not far away
watching Cecil Barr-Smith, who was wading into the lake to get
water-lilies for them, contrary to the ordinances of the city of
Lattimore in such cases made and provided. The six were dawdling away
our time one fine Sunday in Lynhurst Park. I forgot to say Mr. Elkins
and myself were discussing affairs of state with Miss Hinckley.
He's such a ninny, said Antonia.
Aren't all people when in his forlorn condition? asked Jim.
Antonia looked away at the clouds, and did not reply.
But if he had a morsel of the cynical philosophy he boasts of,
said she, he could see.
I don't know about that, said Jim lazily, looking over at the
other group; a woman can conceal her feelings in such a case pretty
I don't know about that, echoed Antonia. I wish I did; it would
I believe, said I, that it's a simple enough matter for you to
solve and manage as it is.
But it's so absurd to bother with! said she; and what's the use?
Doesn't it seem that way? said Jim. And yet you know we brought
him here for a definite purpose; and in his present state he can't make
good. Just read his editorial this morning: it would add gloom to the
proceedings, read at a funeral. We want things whooped up, and he wants
to whoop 'em; but long screeds on 'The Sacred Right of
Self-destruction' hurt things, and bring the paper into disrepute, and
crowd out optimistic matter that we desire. And as long as both
families want the thing brought about, and there is good reason to
think that Laura will not prove eternally immovable, I take it to be an
important enough matter, from the standpoint of dollars and cents, for
the exercise of our diplomacy.
Well, then, said Antonia, get the people together on some social
occasion, and we'll try.
I've thought, said Jim, of having a house-warmingas soon as the
weather gets so that the very name of the function won't keep folks
away. My house is practically done, you know.
Just the thing, said Antonia. There are cosy nooks and deep
retreats enough to make it a sort of labyrinth for the ensnaring of our
Isn't it a queer thing in language, said Jim, that these retreats
are the places where advances are made!
Not when you consider, said Antonia, that retreats follow
We ought to have the Captain and the General here, if this military
conversation is to continue, said I. And here comes Cecil. Stop
before he comes, or we shall never get through with the explanation of
This remark elicited the laughter which the puns failed to provoke;
for Cecil was color-blind in all things relating to the American joke.
The humor of Punch appealed to him, and the wit of Sterne and
Dean Swift; but the funny column and the paragrapher's niche of our
newspapers he regarded as purely pathological phenomena. I sometimes
feel that Cecil was right about this. Can the mind which continues to
be charmed by these paragraphic strainings be really sound?but this
is not a dissertation. Cecil reconciled himself to his position as the
local exemplification of the traditional Englishman whose trains of
ideas run on the freight scheduleand was one of the most popular
fellows in Lattimore. He gloried in his slavery to Antonia, and seemed
to glean hope from the most sterile circumstances.
It was easy to hope, in Lattimore, then. It was not many days after
our talk in the park before I noticed a change for the better in
Giddings, even. Just before Jim's house-warming, he came to me with
something like optimism in his appearance. I started to cheer him up,
and went wrong.
I'm glad to see by your cheerful looks, said I, that the
philosophy of Iago
Say, now! cried he, don't remind me of that, for Heaven's sake!
Why, certainly not, said I, if you object.
I do object, said he most earnestly; why, that damned-fool
philosophy may have ruined my life, you know.
Of course I know what you mean, said I; but I'm convinced, and so
are all your friends, that if you fail, it'll be your own lack of
nerve, and nothing else, that you'll owe the disaster to. You should
I should have refrained from trampling under foot the dearest
ideals of the only girlHowever, I can't talk of these things to any
one, Barslow. But I have some hope now. Antonia and Josie have both
been very kind latelyand say, Barslow, I see now how little
foundation there is for that old gag about the women hating each
I've always felt, said I, anxious to draw him out so that I might
see what the conspirators had been doing, that there's nothing in
that idea. But what has changed your view?
Antonia, and Josie, and even your wife, said he, have been
keeping up a regular lobby in my behalf with Laura. They think they've
got the deal plugged up now, so that she'll give me a show again,
Why, surely, said I; in my opinion, there never was any need for
you to feel downcast.
Barslow, he said, with the air of a man who has endured to the
limit, you are a good fellow, but you make me tired when you talk like
that. Why, four weeks ago I had no more show than a snowball inin the
crater of Vesuvius. But now I'm encouraged. These girls have been doing
me good, as I just said, and I'm convinced that my series of editorials
on 'The Influence of Christianity on Civilization,' in which I've given
the Church the credit of being the whole thing, has helped some.
They ought to do good somewhere, said I, they certainly haven't
boomed Lattimore any.
Damn Lattimore! said he bitterly. When a man's very lifeBut see
here, Barslow, I know you're not in earnest about this. And I'll be all
right in a day or two, or I'll be eternally wrong. I'm going to make
one final cast of the die. I may go down to bottomless perdition, or I
may be caught up to the battlements of heaven; but such a mass of
doubts and miseries as I've been lately, I'll no longer be! Pray for
me, Barslow, pray for me!
This despairing condition of Giddings's was a sort of continuing
sensation with us at that time. We discussed it quite freely in all its
aspects, humorous and tragic. It was so unexpected a development in the
young man's character, and, with all due respect to the discretion and
resisting powers of Miss Addison, so entirely gratuitous and
He has ability as a writer, said the Captain; but in such a
mattah anybody but a fool ought to see that the thing to do is to
chahge the intrenchments. I trust that I may not be misunde'stood when
I say that, in my opinion, a good rattling chahge would not be a
It bothers, said Jim; and if it weren't for that, I'd feel
conscience-stricken at doing anything to rob the idiot of a most
The coolness of early autumn was in the air the night of Jim's
house-warming. To describe his dwelling, in these days when fortunes
are spent on the details of a stairway, and a king's ransom for the
tapestries of a salon, all of which luxuries are spread before the eyes
of the public in the columns of Sunday papers and magazines, would be
to court an anticlimax. But this was before the multimillionaire had
made the need for an augmentative of the word luxury; and Jim's house
was noteworthy for its beauty: its cunningly wrought iron and wood; and
columned halls and stairways; and wide-throated fireplaces, each a
picture in tile, wood, and metalwork; and vistas like little fairylands
through silken portières; and carven chairs and couches, reminiscent of
royal palaces; and chambers where lovely color-schemes were worked out
in rug, and bed, and canopy. There were decorations made by men whose
names were known in London and Paris. From out-of-the-way places Mr.
Elkins had brought collections of queer and interesting and pretty
things which, all his life, he had been accumulating; and in his
library were broad areas of well-worn book-backs. Somehow, people
looked upon the Mr. Elkins who was master of all these as a more
important man than the Elkins who had blown into the town on some
chance breeze of speculation, and taken rooms at the Centropolis.
It was all light and color, that night. Even the formal flower-beds
of the grounds and the fountain spouting on the lawn were like scenery
in the lime-light. Only, back in the shrubbery there were darker nooks
in summer-houses and arbors for those who loved darkness rather than
light, because their deeds, to the common mind, were likely to seem
foolish. I remember thinking that if Mr. Giddings really wanted a
chance to take the high dive of which he had spoken to me, the
opportunity was before him.
His Laura was there, her devotee-like expression striving with an
exceedingly low-cut dress to sound the distinguishing note of her
personality. Giddings was at the punch-bowl as on their arrival she
swept past with the General. When he saw the nun-like glance over the
swelling bosom, the poor stricken cynic blushed, turned pale, and
wheeled to flee. But Cecil, as if following orders, arrested him and
began plying him with the punchfrom which Giddings seemed to draw
courage: for I saw him, soon, gravitate to her whom he loved and so
It's a pe'fect jewel-case of a house! said the Captain, as he
moved with the trooping company through the mansion.
Indeed, indeed it is, said Mrs. Tolliver to Alice; the jewel,
whoever it may be, is to be envied.
I hope, said Jim to Josie, that you agree with Mrs. Tolliver?
Oh, yes, said Josie, but you attach far too much importance to my
judgment. If it is any comfort to you, however, I want to
I won't know, for a while, said Jim, whether it is to be my house
only, or home in the full sense of the word.
One doesn't know about that, I fancy, said Cecil; for a long
I mean to know soon, said Jim.
Josie was looking intently at the carving on one of the chairs, and
paid no heed, though the remark seemed to be addressed to her.
What I mean, you know, said Cecil, is that, no matter how well
the house may be built and furnished, it's the associations, the
history of the place, the things that are in the air, that makes 'Ome!
There was in the manner of his capitalizing the word as he uttered
it, and in the unwonted elision of the H, that tribute to his dear
island which the exiled Briton (even when soothed by the consolation
offered by street-car systems to superintend, and rose-pink blondes to
serve), always pays when he speaks of Home.
Associations, said Jim, may be historical or prophetic. In the
former case, we have to take them on trust; but as to those of the
future, we are sure of them.
Yahs, said Cecil, using the locution which he always adopted when
something subtle was said to him, I dare say! I dare say!
Well, then, Jim went on, I have this matter of the atmosphere or
associations under my own control.
Just so, said Cecil. Clever conceit, Miss Trescott, isn't it,
But Miss Trescott had apparently heard nothing of Jim's speech, and
begged pardon; and wouldn't they go and show her the bronzes in the
This mansion, General, said the Captain, takes one back, suh, to
the halcyon days of American history. I refeh, suh, to those times when
the plantahs of the black prairie belt of Alabama lived like princes,
in the heart of an enchanted empire!
A very interesting period, Captain, said the General. It is a
pity that the industrial basis was one which could not endure!
In the midst of fo'ests, suh, went on the Captain, we had ouah
mansions, not inferio' to thiseach a little kingdom with its complete
wo'ld of amusements, its cote, and its happy populace, goin' singin' to
the wo'k which supported the estate!
Yes, said the General, I thought, when we were striking down that
state of things, that we were doing a great thing for that populace.
But I now see that I was only helping the black into a new slavery, the
fruits of which we see here, around us, to-night.
I hahdly get youah meaning, suh
Well, said the General, looking about at the little audience. (It
was in the smoking-room, and those present were smokers only.) Well,
now, take my case. I have some pretty valuable grounds down there where
I live. When I got them, they were worthless. I could build as good a
mansion as this or any of your ante-bellum Alabama houses for what I
can get out of that little tract. What is that value? Merely the
expression in terms of money of the power of excluding the rest of
mankind from that little piece of ground. I make people give me the
fruits of their labor, myself doing nothing. That's what builds this
house and all these great houses, and breeds the luxury we are
beginning to see around us; and the consciousness that this slavery
exists, and is increasing, and bids fair to grow greatly, is what is
making men crazy over these little spots of ground out here in the
West! It is this slavery
Suh, exclaimed the Captain, rising and grasping the General's
hand, you have done me the favo' of making me wisah! I nevah saw so
cleahly the divine decree which has fo'eo'dained us to this opulence.
Nothing so satisfactory, suh, as a basis and reason foh investment, has
been advanced in my hearing since I have been in the real-estate
business! Let us wo'k this out a little mo' in detail, if you please,
Let us escape while there is yet time! said Cornish; and we fled.
After supper there was a cotillion. The spacious ballroom, with its
roof so high that the lights up there were as stars, was a sight which
could scarcely be reconciled with the village community which he had
found and changed. The palms, and flowers, and lights which decorated
the room; the orchestra's river of dance-music; the men, all in the
black livery whichon the surfacemarks the final conquest of
civilization over barbarism; the beautiful gowns, the sparkling jewels,
and the white shoulders and arms of the ladiesall these made me
wonder if I had not been transported to some Mayfair or Newport, so
pictorial, so decorative, so charged with art, it seemed to be. The
young people, carrying on their courtships in these unfamiliar halls,
their disappearances into the more remote and tenebrous outskirts of
the assemblyall seemed to me to be taking place on the stage, or in
I told Alice about this as we walked homeit was only across the
streetto our own new house.
Don't tell any one about this feeling of yours, said she. It
betrays your provincialism, my dear. You should feel, for the first
time in your life, perfectly at home. 'Armor, rusting on his walls, On
the blood of Clifford calls,' you know.
Mine didn't hear the call, said I; I'm probably the first of my
race to wear thisBut I enjoyed it.
Well, I am too full of something that took place to discuss the
matter, said she, as we sat down at home. I am perplexed. You know
about Mr. Cornish and Josie, don't you?
She startled me, for I had never told her a word.
Know about them! I cried, a little dramatically. What do you
mean? No, I don't!
Why, what's the matter, Albert? she queried. I haven't charged
them with midnight assassination, or anything like that! Only, it seems
that he has been making love to her, for some time, in his cool and
self-contained way. I've known it, and she's been perfectly conscious,
that I knew; but never said anything to me of it, and seemed unwilling
even to approach the subject. But to-night Cecil and I found her out in
the canopied seat by the fountain, and I knew something was the matter,
and sent Cecil away. Something told me that Mr. Cornish was concerned
in it, and I asked her at once where he went.
'He is gone!' said she. 'I don't know where he is, and I don't
care! I wish I might never see him any more!'
You may imagine my surprise. When a young woman uses such language
about a man, it is a certainty that she isn't voicing her true
feelings, or that it isn't a normal love affair. So I wormed out of her
that he had made her an offer.
'Well,' said I, 'if, as I infer from your conversation, you have
refused him, there's an end of the matter; and you need not worry about
seeing him any more.'
'But,' said she, 'Alice, I haven't refused him!'
That took me aback a little, went on Alice, for I had other plans
for her; so I said: 'You haven't accepted the fellow, have you?'
'Oh, no, no!' said she, in a sort of quivery way, 'but what right
have you to speak of him in that way?' And that is all I could get out
of her. She was so unreasonable and disconnected in her talk, and the
others came out, and I tell you what, Albert Barslow, that man Cornish
will do evil yet, among us! I have always thought so!
I don't see any ground for any such prediction, said I, in
anything you have told me. Her inability to make up her mind
Means that there's something wrong, said my wife dogmatically. It
means that he has some sinister influence over her, as he has over
almost everybody, with those coal-black eyes of his and his satanic
ways. And worse than all else, it means that he'll finally get her, in
spite of herself!
Pshaw! said I.
Go away, Albert! said she, or we shall quarrel. Go back and find
my fanI left it on the mantel in the library. The house is lighted
yet; and I was going to send you back anyhow. Kiss me, and go, please.
I felt that if Alice had had in her memory my vision of the supper
at Auriccio's, she would have been confirmed in her fears; but to me,
in spite of the memory, they seemed absurd. My only apprehension was
that she might be right as to the final outcome, to the wreck of Jim's
hopes. I did not take the matter at all seriously, in fact. I think we
men must usually have such an affair worked out to some conclusion, for
weal or woe, before we regard it otherwise than lightly. That was the
reason that Giddings's distraught condition was only a matter of
laughter to all of us. And as something like this passed through my
mind, Giddings himself collared me as I crossed the street.
Old man! said he, congratulate me! It's all right, Barslow, it's
Up on the battlements, are you? said I. Well, I congratulate you,
Giddings; and don't make such an ass of yourself, please, any more. I
never noticed until this evening what a fine girl Laura is. You're
really a very fortunate fellow indeed!
You never noticed it! said he with utter scorn. Well, if
It's late, said I. Come and see me in the morning! Good-night.
I went in at the front door of the house. It stood wide open, as if
the current of guests passing out had removed its tendency to swing
shut. It seemed lonely now, inside, with all the decorations of the
assembly still in place in the empty hall. I passed into the library,
and found Jim sitting idly in a great leather chair. He seemed not to
see me; or if he did, he paid no attention. I went to the mantel,
picked up Alice's fan, and turned to Jim.
Sit down, said he.
Having a sort of 'oft in the stilly night' experience, Jim, or a
case of William the Conqueror on the Field of Hastings?
Yes, said he. Something like that.
Well, your house-warming has been a success, Jim, said I, though
a fellow wouldn't think so to look at you. And the house is faultless.
I envy you the house, but the ability to plan and furnish it still
more. I didn't think it was in you, old man! Where did you learn it
You may have the house, if you want it, Al, said he. I don't
think it's going to be of any use to me.
Why, Jim, said I, seeing that it was something more than a mere
mood with him, what is it? Has anything gone wrong?
Nothing that I've any right to complain of, said he. Of course,
no man puts as much of his life into such a thing as I have into
thiswithout thinking of more than living in italone. I've never had
what you can really call a homenot since I was a little chap, when it
was home wherever there were trees and mother. I've filled thiswith
those associations I spoke to Barr-Smith aboutto-nighta little more
than I seem to have had any warrant to do. I tried to make sure about
the jewel for the jewel-case to-night, and it went wrong, Al; and
that's all there is of it. I don't think I shall need the house, and if
you like it you can have it.
Do you mean that Josie has refused you? said I.
She didn't put it that way, said he, but it amounts to that.
Nothing that isn't a refusal, said I, ought to be accepted as
such. What did she say?
Nothing definite, he answered wearily, only that it couldn't be
'yes,' and when I urged her to make it 'yes' or 'no,' she refused to
say either; and asked me to forget that I had ever said anything to her
about the matter. There have been some things whichled me to
hopefor a different answer; and I'm a good deal taken down, Al ... I
wouldn't like to talk this waywith any one else.
There seemed to be no reason for abandonment of hope, I urged upon
him, and after a cigar or so I left him, evidently impressed with this
view of the case, but nevertheless bitterly disappointed. It meant
delay and danger to his hopes; and Jim was not a man to brook delay, or
suffer danger to go unchallenged. I dared not tell him of Cornish's
offer, and of its fate, so similar to his.
I wonder if it is coquetry on her part, thought I, as I went back
with the fan. I wonder if it will cause things to go wrong in our
business affairs. I wonder if it is possible for her to be sincerely
unable to make up her mind, or if there is anything in Alice's
malign-influence theory. Anyhow, in the department of Cupid business
certainly is picking up!
CHAPTER XVI. Some Things which
Happened in Our Halcyon Days.
If there was any tension among us just after the house-warming, it
was not noticeable. Mr. Cornish and Mr. Elkins seemed unaware of their
rivalry. Had either of the two been successful, it might have made
mischief; but as it was, neither felt that his rejection was more than
temporary. Neither knew much of the other's suit, and both seemed full
of hope and good spirits.
Altogether, these were our halcyon days. It seemed to crew and
captain a time for the putting off of armor, and the donning of the
garlands of complacent respite from struggle. The work we had
undertaken seemed accomplishedour village was a city. The great wheel
we had set whirling went spinning on with power. Long ago we had ceased
to treat the matter jocularly; and to regard our operations as applied
psychology only, or as a piratical reunion, no longer occurred to us.
There is such a thing, I believe, as self-hypnotism; but if we knew it,
we made no application of our knowledge to our own condition. This
great, scattered, ebullient town, grown from the drowsy Lattimore of a
few years ago, must surely be, even now, what we had willed it to be:
and therefore, could we not pause and take our ease?
There was the General, of course. He, Jim said, 'knocked' so
constantly as to be sort of ex-officio President of the Boiler-makers'
Union, and talked of the inevitable collapse. But who ever heard of a
city built by people of his way of thinking? And there was Josie
Trescott, with her agreement on broad lines with the General, and her
deprecation of the giving of fortunes to people who had not earned
them; but Josie was only a woman, who, to be sure, knew more of most
matters than the rest of us, but could not have any very valuable
knowledge of the prospects for commercial prosperity.
That we were in the midst of an era of the most wonderful commercial
prosperity none denied. How could they? The streets, so lately bordered
with low stores, hotels, and banks, were now craggy with tall office
buildings and great hostelries, through which the darting elevators
shot hurrying passengers. Those trees which made early twilight in the
streets that night when Alice, Jim, and I first rode out to the
Trescott farm were now mostly cut down to make room for improvements.
Brushy Creek gorge was no longer dark and cool, with its double
sky-line of trees drowsing toward one another, like eyelashes, from the
friendly cliffs. The cooing of the pigeons was gone forever. The
muddied water from the great flume raced down through the ravine,
turning many wheels, but nowhere gathering in any form or place which
seemed good for trout. On either side stood shanties, and ramshackle
buildings where such things as stonecutting and blacksmithing were
done. Along the waterside ran the tracks of our Terminal and Belt Line
System, on which trains of flat-cars always stood, engaged in the work
of carrying away the cliffs, in which they were aided and abetted by
giant derricks and the fiends of dynamite and nitro-glycerin. Limekilns
burned all the time, turning the companionable gray ledges into
something offensive and corrosive. One must now board a street-car, and
ride away beyond Lynhurst Park before one could find the good and pure
little Brushy Creek of yore.
The dwellers in the houses which stood in their lawns of vivid green
had gone away into the new additions, to be in the fashion, and to
escape from the smoke and clang of engine and factory. Their old houses
were torn away, or converted, by new and incongruous extensions, into
cheap boarding-houses. Only the Lattimore house kept faith with the
past, and stood as of old, in its five acres of trees and grass,
untouched of the fever for platting and subdivision, its very skirts
drawn up from the asphalt by austere retaining-walls. And here went on
the preparation for the time when Laura and Clifford were to stand up
and declare their purposes and intentions with reference to each other.
The first wedding this was to be, in all our close-knit circle.
I am glad, said I, that they are all so sensible as not to permit
rivalries to breed discord among us. It might be disastrous.
There is time, said Alice, for that to develop yet.
Not that everything happened as we wished. Indeed, some things gave
us much anxiety. Bill Trescott, for instance, began at last to show
signs of that going up in the air which Jim had said we must keep him
from. Even Captain Tolliver complained that Bill's habits were getting
bad: and he was the last person in the world to censure excess in the
vices which he deemed gentlemanly. His own idea of morning, for
instance, was that period of the day when the bad taste in the mouth so
natural to a gentleman is removed by a stiff toddy, drunk just before
prayers. He would, no doubt, have conceded to the inventor of the
alphabet a higher place among men than that of the discoverer of the
mint julep, had the matter been presented to him in concrete form; but
would have qualified the admission by adding, with a seriousness
incompatible with the average conception of a joke: But the question
is sutt'nly one not entiahly free from doubt, suh; not entiahly free
However, the Captain had his standards, and prescribed for himself
limits of time, place, and degree, to which he faithfully conformed.
But he had been for a long time doing business under a sort of
partnership arrangement with Bill, and their affairs had become very
much interwoven. So he came to us, one day, in something like a panic,
on finding that Bill had become a frequenter of one of the local
bucket-shops, and had been making maudlin boasts of the profitable
deals he had made.
This means, gentlemen, said the Captain, that influences entiahly
fo'eign to ouah investments hyah ah likely to bring a crash, which will
not only wipe out Mr. Trescott, but, owin' to ouah association in the
additions we have platted, cyah'y me down also! You can see that with
sev'al hundred thousand dolla's of deferred payments on what we have
sold, most of which have been rediscounted in the East by the G. B. T.,
Mr. Trescott's condition becomes something of serious conce'n fo'
you-all, as well as fo' me. Nothing else, I assuah you, gentlemen,
could fo'ce me to call attention to a mattah so puahly pussonal as a
diffe'nce between gentlemen in theiah standahds of inebriety! Nothing
else, believe me!
By the G. B. T. the Captain meant the Grain Belt Trust Company, and
anything which affected its solvency or welfare was, as he said, a
matter of serious concern for all of us. In fact, at that very moment
there were in Lattimore two officers of New England banks with whom we
had placed a rather heavy line of G. B. T. securities, and who had made
the trip for the purpose of looking us up. Suppose that they found out
that the notes and mortgages of William S. Trescott &Co. really had
back of them only some very desirable suburban additions, and the
personal responsibility of a retired farmer, who was daily handing his
money to board-of-trade gamblers, with whom he was getting an education
in the great strides we are making in the matter of mixed drinks? This
thought occurred to all of us at once.
Well, said Cornish, stating the point of agreement after the
Captain's trouble had been fully discussed, unfortunately 'the right
to be a cussed fool is safe from all devices human,' and there doesn't
seem to be any remedy.
It all came, thought I, as Jim and I sat silent after Cornish and
the Captain went out, from the fact that Bill's present condition in
life gave those tendencies to which he had always been prone to yield,
a chance for unrestricted growth. He ought to have staid with his
steers. Cattle and corn were the only things in which he could take an
interest sufficiently keen to keep him from drink. These habits of his
were enacting the old story of the lop-eared rabbits in
Australiaoverrunning the country. Bill had been as sober a citizen as
one could desire, as long as his house-building occupied his time; and
he and Josie had worked together as companionably as they used to do in
the hay and wheat. But now he was drifting away from her. Her father
should have staid on the farm.
Do you know, said I, that Giddings is making about as great a
fool of himself as Bill?
Yes, said Jim, but that's because he's in a terrible state of
mind about his marriage. If we can keep him from delirium tremens until
after the wedding, he'll be all right. Some Italian brain-sharp has
written up cases like his, and he'll be all right. But with Bill it's
different.... Do you remember our old Shep?
No, I returned wonderingly, almost impatiently. What about him?
Well, he mused, I've been picking up knowledge of men for a while
along back; and I've come to prize more highly the personal history of
dogs; and Shep was worth a biography for its own sake, to say nothing
of the value of a typical case. He was a woolly collie, who would
cheerfully have given up his life for the cows and sheep. Anything in
his line, that a dog could grasp, Shep knew, and he was busier than a
cranberry-merchant the year around, and the happiest thing on the farm.
Then our folks moved to Mayville, and took him along. He wasn't fitted
for town life at all. He'd lie on the front piazza, and search the
street for cows and sheep, and when one came along he'd stick his sharp
nose through the fence, and whine as if some one was whipping him. In
less than six weeks he bit a baby; in two months he was the most
depraved dog in Mayville, and in three ... he died.
I had no answer for the apologuenot even for the self-condemnatory
tone in which he told it. Presently he rose to go, and said that he
would not be back.
Don't forget our date at the club this evening, said he, as he
passed out. Your style of diplomacy always seems to win with these
down-East bankers. Your experience as rob-ee gives you the right
handshake and the subscribed-and-sworn-to look that does their business
for 'em every time. Good-by until then.
Our club was the terminal bud of our growth, and was housed in a
building of which we were enormously proud. It was managed by a steward
imported from New York, whose salary was made large to harmonize with
his mannersthat being the only way in which the majority of our
members felt equal to living up to them. So far as money could make a
club, ours was of high rank. There were meat-cooks and pastry-cooks in
incredible numbers, under the command of a French chef, who ruled the
house committee with a rod of iron. We were all members as a matter of
public duty. I have often wondered what the servants, brought from
Eastern cities, thought of it all. To see Bill Trescott and Aleck
Macdonald going in through the great door, noiselessly swung open for
them by an attendant in livery, was a sight to be remembered. The chief
ornament of the club was Cornish, who lived there.
I want to see Mr. Cornish, said I to the servant who took my
overcoat, that evening.
Right this way, sir, said he. Mr. Giddings is with him. He gave
orders for you to be shown up.
Cornish sat at a little round table on which there were some bottles
and glasses. The tipple was evidently ale, and Mr. Giddings was
standing opposite, lifting a glass in one hand and pointing at it with
the other, in evident imitation of the attitude in which the late Mr.
Gough loved to have himself pictured; but the sentiments of the two
speakers were quite different.
'Turn out more ale; turn up the light!'
Giddings glanced at the electric light-fixtures, and then looked
about as if for a servant to turn them up.
'I will not go to bed to-night!
For, of all foes that man should dread,
The first and worst one is a bed!
Friends I have had, both old and young;
Ale have we drunk, and songs we've sung.
Enough you know when this is said,
That, one and all, they died in bed!'
Here Giddings's voice broke with grief, and he stopped to drink the
rest of the glassful, and went on:
'In bed they died, and I'll not go
Where all my friends have perished so!
Go, ye who fain would buried be;
But not to-night a bed for me!'
Do you often have these Horatian fits? I inquired.
Base groveler! said he, if you can't rise to the level of the
occasion, don't butt in.
'For me to-night no bed prepare,
But set me out my oaken chair,
And bid me other guests beside
The ghosts that shall around me glide!'
You will, of course, said Cornish, permit us to withdraw for the
purpose of having our conference with our Eastern friends? If I take
your meaning, you'll not be alone.
Not by a jugful, I'll not be alone! said Giddings, tossing off
'In curling smoke-wreaths I shall see
A fair and gentle company.
Though silent all, fair revelers they,
Who leave you not till break of day!
Go, ye who would not daylight see;
But not to-night a bed for me!
For I've been born, and I've been wed,
And all man's troubles come of bed!'
Here Giddings sank down in his chair and began weeping.
The divinest attribute of poetry, said he, is that of bringing
tears. Let me weep awhile, fellows, and then I'll give you the last
stanza. Last stanza's the best
And in the midst of his critique he went to sleep, thereby breaking
his rule adopted in Dum Vivemus Vigilemus.
Is he this way often? said I to Cornish, as we went down to meet
Jim and the bankers.
Pretty often, said Cornish. I don't know how I'd amuse my
evenings if it weren't for Giddings. He's too far gone to-night,
though, to be entertaining. Gets worse, I think, as the wedding-day
approaches. Trying to drown his apprehensions, I suspect. Funny fellow,
Giddings. But he's all right from noon to nine P.M.
I think we'll have to organize a dipsomaniacs' hospital for our
crowd, said I, if things keep going on as they are tending now! I
didn't think Giddings was so many kinds of an ass!
My complainings were cut short by our entrance into the presence of
Mr. Elkins and the New England bankers. I asked to be excused from
partaking of the refreshments which were served. I had seen and heard
enough to spoil my appetite. I was agreeably surprised to find that
their independent investigations of conditions in Lattimore had
convinced them of the safety of their investments. Really, they said,
were it not for the pleasure of meeting us here at our home, they
should feel that the time and expense of looking us up were wasted.
But, handling, as they did, the moneys of estates and numerous savings
accounts, their customers were of a class in whom timidity and
nervousness reach their maximum, and they were obliged to keep
themselves in position to give assurances as to the safety of their
investments from their personal investigations.
Mr. Hinckley, who was with us, assured them that his life as a
banker enabled him fully to realize the necessity of their carefulness,
which we, for our own parts, were pleased to know existed. We were only
too glad to exhibit our books to them, make a complete showing as to
our condition generally, and even take them to see each individual
piece of property covered by our paper. Mr. Hinckley went with them to
their hotel, having proposed enough work in the way of investigation to
keep them with us for several months. They were to leave on the evening
of the next day.
But, said Jim, as we put on our overcoats to go home, it shows
our good will, you see.
At that moment the steward, with an anxious look, asked Mr. Elkins
for a word in private.
Ask Mr. Barslow if he will kindly step over here, I heard Jim say;
and I joined them at once.
I was just saying, sir, to Mr. Elkins, said the steward, that
ordinarily I'd not think of mentioning such a thing as a gentleman's
being indisposed but should see that he was cared for here. But Mr.
Trescott being in such a state, I felt it was a case for his friends or
the hospital. He's beenaseeing things this afternoon; and while
he's better now in that regard, his
Have a closed carriage brought at once, said Mr. Elkins. Al,
you'd better go up to the house, and let them know we're coming. I'll
take him home!
I shrank from the meeting with Mrs. Trescott and Josie, more, I
think, than if it had been Bill's death which I was to announce. As I
approached the house, I got from it, somehow, the impression that it
was a place of night-long watchfulness; and I was not surprised by the
fact that before I had time to ring or knock at the door Mrs. Trescott
herself opened it, with an expression on her face which spoke of long
vigils, and of fear passing on to certainty. She peered past me for an
expected Something on the street. Her leisure and its new habits had
assimilated her in dress and make-up to the women of the wealthier sort
in the city; but there was an immensity of trouble in the agonized eye
and the pitiful droop of her mouth, which I should have rejoiced to see
exchanged again for the ill-groomed exterior and the old fret of the
farm. Her first question ignored all reference to the things leading to
my being there, in the dead vast and middle of the night, but went
past me to the core of her trouble, as her eye had gone on from me to
the street, in the search for the thing she dreaded.
Where is he, Mr. Barslow? said she, in a hushing whisper; where
He is a little sick, said I, and Mr. Elkins is bringing him home.
I came on to tell you. Then he is not she went on, still in that
hushed voice, and searching me with her gaze.
No, I assure you! I answered. He is in no immediate danger,
Josie came quietly forward from the dusk of the room beyond, where I
saw she had been listening, reminding me, in spite of the incongruity
of the idea, of that time when she emerged from the obscurity of her
garden, and stood at the foot of the windmill tower, leaning on her
father's arm, her hands filled with petunias, the night we first
visited the Trescott farm. And then my mind ran back to that other
night when she had thrown herself into his arms and begged him to take
her away; and he had said, W'y, yes, little gal, of course I'll take
yeh away, if yeh don't like it here! I think that I, perhaps, was more
nearly able than any one else in the world beside herself to gauge her
grief at this long death in which she was losing him, and he himself.
She took my hand, pressed it silently, and began caressing her
mother and whispering to her things which I could not hear. Mrs.
Trescott sat upon a sort of divan, shaking with terrible, soundless
sobs, and clasping and unclasping her hands, but making no other
gesture. I stood helpless at the hidden abyss of woe so suddenly
uncovered before me and until this very moment screened by the
conventions which keep our souls apart like prisoners in the cells in
some great prison. These two women had been bearing this for a long
time, and we, their nearest friends, had stood aloof from them. As I
stood thinking of this, the carriage-wheels ground upon the pavement in
the porte cochère; and a moment later Jim came in, his face
graver than I had ever seen it. He sat down by Mrs. Trescott, and
gently took one of her hands.
Dr. Aylesbury has given him a morphia injection, said he, and he
is sound asleep. The doctor thinks it best for us to carry him right to
his room. There is a man here from the hospital, who will stay and
nurse him; and the doctor came, too.
Mrs. Trescott started up, saying that she must arrange his room.
Soon the four of us had placed him in bed, where he lay, puffy and
purple, with a sort of pasty pallor overspreading his face. His limbs
occasionally jerked spasmodically; but otherwise he was still under the
spell of the opiate. His wife, now that there was something definite to
do, was self-possessed and efficient, taking the physician's
instructions with ready apprehension. The fact that Bill had now
assumed the character of a patient rather than that of a portent seemed
to make the trouble, somehow, more normal and endurable. The wife and
daughter insisted upon assuming the care of him, but assented to the
nurse's remaining as a help in emergencies. It was nearing dawn when I
took my leave. As I approached the door, I saw Jim and Josie in the
hall, and heard him making some last tenders of aid and comfort before
his departure. He put out his hand, and she clasped it in both of hers.
I want to thank you, said she, for what you have done.
I have done nothing, he replied. It is what I wish to do that I
want you to think of. I do not know whether I shall ever be able to
No, no! said she. You must not talkyou must not allow yourself
to feel in that way. It is unjustto yourself and tomefor you to
I advanced to them, but she still stood looking into his face and
holding his hand clasped in hers. There was something of appeal, of an
effort to express more than the words said, in her look and attitude.
He answered her regard by a gaze so pathetically wistful that she
averted her face, pressed his hand, and turned to me.
Good-night to you both, and thank you both, a thousand times! said
* * * * *
I wonder if old Shep's relations and friends, said Jim, as we
stood under the arc light in front of my house, ever came to forgive
the people who took him away from his flocks and herds.
After what I've seen in the last few minutes, said I, I haven't
the least doubt of it.
Al, said he, these be troublous times, but if I believed all that
what you say implies, I'd go home happy, if not jolly. And I almost
believe you're right.
Well, said I, assuming for once the rôle of the mentor, I think
that you are foolish to worry about it. We have enough actual,
well-defined, surveyed and platted grief on our hands, without any
mooning about hunting for the speculative variety. Go home, sleep, and
bring down a clear brain for to-morrow's business.
To-day's, said he gaily. Tear off yesterday's leaf from the
calendar, Al. For, look! the morn, dressed as usual, 'walks o'er the
dew of yon high eastern hill.'
CHAPTER XVII. Relating to the
Disposition of the Captives.
It was not later than the next day but one, that I met Giddings,
alert, ingratiating, and natty as ever.
When am I to have the third stanza? I inquired, the one that's
'the best of all.'
This question he seemed to take as a rebuke; for he reddened, while
he tried to laugh.
Barslow, said he, there isn't any use in our discussing this
thing. You couldn't understand it. A man like you, who can calculate to
a hair just how far he is going and just where to turn back, andOh,
damn! There's no use!
I sympathize with Giddings, at this present moment, in his despair
of making people understand; for I doubt, sometimes, whether it is
possible for me to make the reader understand the conditions with us in
Lattimore at the time when poor Trescott lay there in his fine house,
fighting for life, and for many things more important, and while the
wedding preparations were going forward at the General's house.
To the steady-going, stationary, passionless community these
conditions approach the incomprehensible. No one seemed to doubt the
city's future now. Sometimes the abnormal basis upon which our great
new industries had been established struck the stranger with distrust,
if he happened to have the insight to notice it; but the concerns
were there most undeniably, and had shifted population in their
coming, and were turning out products for the markets of the world.
That they had been evolved magically, and set in operation, not by
any slow process of meeting a felt want, but for this sole purpose of
shifting population, might be, and undoubtedly was, unusual; but given
the natural facilities for carrying the business on, and how did this
forced genesis adversely affect their prospects?
I, for one, could see no reason for apprehension. Yet when the story
of Trescott's maudlin plunging came to our ears, and the effect of his
possible failure received consideration, or I thought of the business
explosion which would follow any open breach between Jim and Cornish
(though this seemed too remote for serious consideration), I began to
ponder on the enormously complex system of credits we had built up.
Besides the regular line of bonds and mortgages growing out of debts
due us on our real-estate sales, and against which we had issued the
debentures and the guaranteed rediscounts of the Grain Belt Trust
Company, the factories, stock yards, terminals, street-car system, and
most of our other properties were pretty heavily bonded. Some of them
were temporarily unproductive, and funds had from time to time to be
provided, from sources other than their own earnings, for the payment
of their interest-charges. On the whole, however, we had been able to
carry the entire line forward from position to position with such
success that the people were kept in a fever, and accessions to our
population kept pouring in which, of their own force, added fuel to the
fire of expectancy.
This one thing began to make me uneasythere was no place to stop.
A failure among us would quench this expectancy, and values would no
longer increase. And everything was organized on the basis of the
continued crescendo. That was the reason why every uplift in prices had
been followed by a new and strenuous effort on our part to hoist them
still higher. For that reason, we, who had become richer than we had
ever hoped to be, kept toiling on to rear to greater and greater
heights an edifice which the eternal forces of nature itself clutched,
to drag down.
I was the first to suggest this feature in conference. The Trescott
scare had made me more thoughtful. True, outwardly things were more
than ever booming. The very signs on the streets spoke of the boom. It
was Lumber, Coal, and Real Estate; Burbank's Livery, Feed, and Sale
Stable. Office of Burbank Realty Co.; or Thronson &Larson, Grocers.
Choice Lots in Thronson's Addition. Even Giddings had platted the
Herald Addition, and was offering a choice quarter-block as a prize
to the person who could guess nearest to the average monthly increase
in values in the addition, as shown by the record of sales. Real estate
appeared as a part of the business of hardware stores and milliners'
shops, so that one was constantly reminded of the heterogeneous
announcements on the signboard of Mr. Wegg. But while all this went on,
and transactions in dirt were larger than ever, one could see
indications that there was in them a larger and larger element of
credit, and less and less cash. So one day, at a syndicate conference,
I sought to ease my mind by asking where this thing was to stop, and
when we could hope for a time when the town would not have to be held
up by main strength.
Why, that's a very remarkable question! said Mr. Hinckley. We
surely haven't reached the point where we can think of stopping. Why,
with the history before us of the cities of America which, without half
our natural advantages, have grown to so many times the size of this,
I'm surprised that such a thing should be thought of! Just think of
what Chicago was in '54 when I came through. A village without a
harbor, built along the ditches of a frog-pond! And see it now; see it
There was a little quiver in Mr. Hinckley's voice, a little
infirmity of his chin, which told of advancing years. His ideas were
becoming more fixed. It was plain that the notion of Lattimore's
continued and uninterrupted progress was one to which he would cling
with the mild and unreasoning stubbornness of gentlemanly senility. But
Cornish welcomed the discussion with something like eagerness.
I'm glad the matter has come up, said he. We've had a few good
years here; but, in the nature of things, won't the time come when
things will beslower? We've got our first plans pretty well worked
out. The mills, factories, and live-stock industries are supporting
population, and making tonnage which the railroad is carrying. But what
next? We can't expect to build any more railroads soon. No line of less
than five hundred miles will do any good, strategically speaking, and
sending out stubs just to annex territory for our shippers is too slow
and expensive business for this crowd. Things are booming along now;
but the Eastern banks are getting finicky about paper, andI think
things are going to beslowerand that we ought to act accordingly.
There was a long silence, broken only by a dry laugh from Hinckley,
and the remark that Barslow and Cornish must be getting dyspeptic from
Well, said Elkins at last, ignoring Hinckley and facing Cornish,
get down to brass nails! What policy would you adopt?
Oh, our present policy is all right, answered he of the Van Dyke
Yes, yes! interjected Hinckley. My view exactly. A wonderfully
and, Cornish continued, I would only suggest that we cease
spreading outnot cease talking it, but only just sort of stop doing
itand begin to realize more rapidly on our holdings. Not so as to
break the market, you understand; but so as to keep the demand fairly
Mr. Elkins was slow in replying, and when the reply came it was of
the sort which does not answer.
A most important, not to say momentous question, said he. Let's
figure the thing over and take it up again soon. We'll not begin to
disagree at this late day. Mr. Hinckley has warned us that he has an
engagement in thirty minutes. It seems to me we ought to dispose of the
matter of the appropriation for the interest on those Belt Lines bonds.
Wade's mash on 'Atkins, Corning &Co.' won't last long in the face of a
Mr. Hinckley staid his thirty minutes and withdrew. Mr. Cornish went
to the telephone and ordered his dog-cart.
Immediately, he instructed, over here at the Grain Belt Trust
Make it in half an hour, can't you, Cornish? said Jim. There are
some more things we ought to go over.
Say! shouted Cornish into the transmitter. Make that in half an
hour instead of at once.
He hung up the telephone, and turned to Elkins inquiringly. Jim was
walking up and down on the rug, his hands clasped behind him.
Since we've spread out into that string of banks, said he, still
keeping up his walk, and made Mr. Hinckley the president of each of
'em, he's reverting to his old banker's timidity. Which consists, in
all cases, in an aversion to any change in conditions. To suggest any
change, even from an old, dangerous policy to a new safe one, startles
a 'conservative' banker. If we had gone on a little longer with our
talk about shutting off steam and taking the nigger off the
safety-valve, you'd have seen him scared into a numbness. But, now that
the question has been brought up, let's talk it over. What's your
notion about it, anyhow, Al?
I'm seeking light, said I. The people are rushing in, and the
town's doing splendidly. But prices, there's no denying it, are
beginning to sort of strangle things. They prevent doing, any more,
what we did at first. Kreuger Brothers' failure yesterday was small;
but it's a clear case of a retailer's being eaten up with fixed
chargesor so Macdonald told me this morning; and I know that frontage
on Main Street is demanding fully as much as the traffic will bear. And
then our fright over Trescott's gambling gave me some bad dreams over
our securities. It has bothered me to see how to adjust our affairs to
a stationary condition of things; that's all.
Of course, said Cornish, we must keep boosting. Fortunately
society here is now thoroughly organized on the principle of whooping
it up for Lattimore. I could get up a successful lynching-party any
time to attend to the case of any miscreant who should suggest that
property is too high, or rents unreasonable, or anything but a steady
up-grade before us. But I think we ought to stop buyingexcept among
ourselves, and keep the transfers from falling offand begin salting
If you can suggest any way to do that, and still take care of our
paper, said Jim, I shall be with you.
I've never anticipated, said Cornish, that such a mass of
business could be carried through without some losses. Investors can't
The first loss in the East through our paper, said Jim, means a
taking up of the Grain Belt securities everywhere, and no market for
more. And you know what that spells.
It mustn't be allowed to happenyet awhile, answered Cornish. As
I just now said, we must keep on boosting.
You know where the Grain Belt debentures and other obligations are
mostly held, of course? asked Mr. Elkins.
When a bond or mortgage is sold, was the answer, my interest in
it ceases. I conclusively presume that the purchaser himself personally
looked to the security, or accepted the guaranty of the negotiating
trust company. Caveat emptor is my rule.
Mr. Elkins looked out of the window, as if he had forgotten us.
We should push the sale of the Lattimore &Great Western, said he,
and the Belt Line System.
I concur, said Cornish. Our interest in those properties is a
two-million-dollar cash item.
It wouldn't be two million cents, said Jim, if our friends on
Wall Street could hear this talk. They'd wait to buy at receiver's sale
after some Black Friday. Of course, that's what Pendleton and Wade have
been counting on from the first.
You ought to see Halliday and Pendleton at once, said I.
Yes, I think so, too, he rejoined. Pendleton'll pay us more than
our price, rather than see the Halliday system get the properties.
They're deep ones; but we ought to be able to play them off against
each other, so long as we can keep strong at home. I'll begin the
flirtation at once.
Cornish, assuming that Jim had fully concurred in his views, bade us
a pleasant good-day, and went out.
My boy, said Jim, cheer up. If gloom takes hold of you like this
while we're still running before a favoring wind, it'll bother you to
keep feeling worse and worse, as you ought, as we approach the real
thing. Cheer up!
Oh, I'm all right! said I. I was just trying to make out
Let's make out our own, he replied, that's the first thing. Bear
in mind that this is a buccaneering proposition, and you're first mate:
remember? Well, Al, we've had the merriest cruise in the books. If any
crew ever had doubloons to throw to the birds, we've had 'em. But, you
know, we always draw the line somewhere, and I'm about to ask you to
join me in drawing the line, and see just what moral level piracy has
risen or sunk to.
He still walked back and forth, and, as he spoke of drawing the
line, he drew an imaginary one with his fingers on the green baize of
the flat-topped desk.
You remember what those fellows, Dorr and Wickersham, said the
other night, about having invested the funds of estates, and savings
accounts in our obligations? he went on. But I never told you what
Wickersham said privately to me. The infernal fool has more of our
paper than his bank's whole capital stock, with the surplus added,
amounts to! And he calls himself a 'conservative New England banker'!
It wouldn't be so bad if the states back East weren't infested with the
same sort of idiotsI've had Hinckley make me a report on it since
that night. It means that women and children and sweaty breadwinners
have furnished the money for all these things we're so proud of having
built, including the Mt. Desert cottages and the Wyoming hunting-lodge.
It means that we've got to be able to read our book of the Black Art
backwards as well as forwards, or the Powers we've conjured up will
tear piecemeal both them and us. God! it makes me crawl to think of
what would happen!
He sat down on the flat-topped desk, and I saw the beaded pallor of
a fixed and digested anxiety on his brow. He went on, in a lighter way:
These poor people, scattered from the Missouri to the Atlantic, are
our prisoners, Al. I think Cornish is ready to make them walk the
plank. But, Al, you know, in our bloodiest days, down on the Spanish
Main, we used to spare the women and children! What do you say now,
The way in which he repeated the old nickname had an irresistible
appeal in it; but I hope no appeal was needed. I said, and said truly,
that I should never consent to any policy which was not mindful of the
interests of which he spoke; and that I knew Hinckley would be with us.
So, if Cornish took any other view, there would be three to one against
I knew you'd be with me, he continued. It would have been a
sure-enough case of et tu, Brute, if you hadn't been. But don't
let yourself think for a minute that we can't fight this thing to a
finish and come off more than conquerors. We'll look back at this talk
some time, and laugh at our fears. The troublous times that come every
so often are nearer than they were five years ago, but they're some
ways off yet, and forewarned is insured.
But the hard times always catch people unawares, said I.
They do, he admitted, but they never tried to stalk a covey of
boom specialists before.... You remember all that rot I used to talk
about the mind-force method, and psychological booms? We've been false
to that theory, by coming to believe so implicitly in our own
preaching. Why, Al, this work we've begun here has got to go on! It
must go on! There mustn't be any collapse or failure. When the hard
times come, we must be prepared to go right on through, cutting a
little narrower swath, but cutting all the same. Stand by the guns with
me, and, in spite of all, we'll win, and save Lattimoreand spare the
There was the fire of unconquerable resolution in his eye, and a
resonance in his voice that thrilled me. After all he had done, after
the victories we had won under his leadership, the admiration and love
I felt for him rose to the idolatry of a soldier for his general, as I
saw him stiffening his limbs, knotting his muscles, and, with teeth set
and nostrils dilated, rising to the load which seemed falling on him
I'll make the turn with these railroad properties, he went on. We
must make Pendleton and Halliday bid each other up to our figure. And
there'll be no 'salting down' done, eitheryet awhile. I hope things
won't shrink too much in the washing; but the real-estate hot air of
the past few years must cause some trouble when the payments deferred
begin to make the heart sick. The Trust Company will be called on to
make good some of its guarantiesand must do it. The banks must be
kept strong; and with two millions to sweeten the pot we shall be with
'em to the finish. Why, they can't beat us! And don't forget that right
now is the most prosperous time Lattimore ever saw; and put on a look
that will corroborate the statement when you go out of here!
Bravo, bravo! said a voice from near the door. I don't understand
any of it, but the speech sounded awfully telling! Where's papa?
It was Antonia, who had come in unobserved. She wore a felt hat with
one little feather on it, driving-gloves, and a dark cloth dress. She
stood, rosy with driving, her blonde curls clustering in airy confusion
about her forehead, a tailor-gowned Brunhilde.
Why, hello, Antonia! said Jim. He went away some time ago. Wasn't
that a corking good speech? Ah! You never know the value of an old
friend until you use him as audience at the dress rehearsal of a
speech! Pacers or trotters?
Pacers, said she, Storm and The Friar.
If you'll let me drive, he stipulated, I'd like to go home with
Nobody but myself, said she, ever drives this team. You'd spoil
The Friar's temper with that unyielding wrist of yours; but if you are
good, you may hold the ends of the lines, and say 'Dap!' occasionally.
And down to the street we went together, our cares dismissed. Jim
handed Antonia into the trap, and they spun away toward Lynhurst,
apparently the happiest people in Lattimore.
CHAPTER XVIII. The Going Away of
Laura and Clifford, and the Departure of Mr. Trescott.
Thet little quirly thing there, said Mr. Trescott, spreading a map
out on my library table and pointing with his trembling and knobby
forefinger, is Wolf Nose Crick. It runs into the Cheyenne, down about
there, an' 's got worlds o' water fer any sized herds, an' carries yeh
back from the river fer twenty-five miles. There's a big spring at the
head of it, where the ranch buildin's is; an' there's a clump o' timber
therebox elders an' cottonwoods, y' know. Now see the advantage I'll
have. Other herds'll hev to traipse back an' forth from grass to water
an' from water to grass, a-runnin' theirselves poor; an' all the time
I'll hev livin' water right in the middle o' my range.
His wife and daughter had carefully nursed him through the fever, as
Dr. Aylesbury called it, and for two weeks Mr. Trescott was seen by no
one else. Then from our windows Alice and I could see him about his
grounds, at work amongst his shrubbery, or busying himself with his
horses and carriages. Josie had transformed herself into a woman of
business, and every day she went to her father's office, opened his
mail, and held business consultations. Whenever it was necessary for
papers to be executed, Josie went with the lawyer and notary to the
Trescott home for the signing.
The Trescott and Tolliver business brought her into daily contact
with the Captain. He used to open the doors between their offices, and
have the mail sorted for Josie when she came in. There was something of
homage in the manner in which he received her into the office, and laid
matters of business before her. It was something larger and more
expansive than can be denoted by the word courtesy or politeness.
Captain, she would say, with the half-amused smile with which she
always rewarded him, here is this notice from the Grain Belt Trust
Company about the interest on twenty-five thousand dollars of bonds
which they have advanced to us. Will you please explain it?
Sutt'nly, Madam, sutt'nly, replied he, using a form of address
which he adopted the first time she appeared as Bill's representative
in the business, and which he never cheapened by use elsewhere. Those
bonds ah debentures, which
But what are debentures, Captain? she inquired.
Pahdon me, my deah lady, said he, fo' not explaining that at
fuhst! Those ah the debentures of the Trescott Development Company,
fawmed to build up Trescott's Addition. We sold those lands on credit,
except fo' a cash payment of one foath the purchase-price. This brought
to us, as you can see, Madam, a lahge amount of notes, secured by fuhst
mortgages on the Trescott's Addition properties. These notes and
mortgages we deposited with the Grain Belt Trust Company, and issued
against them the bonds of the Trescott Development
Companydebenturesand the G. B. T. people floated these bonds in the
East and elsewhah. This interest mattah was an ovahsight; I should have
looked out fo' it, and not put the G. B. T. to the trouble of advancing
it; but as we have this mawnin' on deposit with them several thousand
dollahs from the sale of the Tolliver's Subdivision papah, the thing
becomes a mattah of no impo'tance whatevah!
But, went on Josie, how shall we be able to pay the next
installment of interest, and the principal, when it falls due?
Amply provided foh, my deah Madam, said the Captain, waving his
arm; the defe'ed payments and the interest on them will create an
ample sinking fund!
But if they don't? she inquired.
That such a contingency can possibly arise, Madam, said the
Captain in his most impressive orotund, and with his hand thrust into
the bosom of his Prince Albert coat, is something which my loyalty to
Lattimore, my faith in my fellow citizens, my confidence in Mr. Elkins
and Mr. Barslow, and my regahd fo' my own honah, pledged as it is to
those to whom I have sold these properties on the representations I
have made as to the prospects of the city, will not puhmit me to
This seemed to him entirely conclusive, and cut off the
investigation. Conversation like this, in which Josie questioned the
Captain and seemed ever convinced by his answers, gave her high rank in
the Captain's estimation.
Like most ladies, said he, Miss Trescott is a little inclined to
ovah-conservatism; but unlike most people of both sexes, she is quite
able to grasp the lahgest views when explained to huh, and huh mental
processes ah unerring. I have nevah failed to make the most complicated
situation cleah to huhnevah!
And all this time Mr. Trescott was safeguarded at home, looking
after his horses, carriages, and grounds, and at last permitted to come
over to our house and pass the evening with me occasionally. It was on
one of these visits that he spread out the map on the table and
explained to me the advantages of his ranch on Wolf Nose Creek. The
very thought of the open range and the roaming herds seemed to
You talk, said I, as if it were all settled. Are you really going
Wal, said he, after some hesitation, it kind o' makes me feel
good to lay plans f'r goin'. I've made the deal with Aleck Macdonald
f'r the water frontit's a good spec if I never go near itan' I
guess I'll send a bunch o' steers out to please Josie an' her ma.
They're purtendin' to be stuck on goin', an' I've made the bargain to
pacify 'em; but, say, do you know what kind of a place it is out on one
o' them ranches?
In a general way, yes, said I.
W'l, a general way wun't do, said he. You've got to git right
down to p'ticklers t' know about it, so's to know. It's seventy-five
miles from a post-office an' twenty-five to the nearest house. How
would you like to hev a girl o' yourn thet you'd sent t' Chicago an'
New York and the ol' country, an' spent all colors o' money on so's t'
give her all the chanst in the world, go out to a place like that to
spend her life?
I don't know, said I, for I was in doubt; it might be all right.
You wouldn't say that if it was up to you to decide the thing,
said he. W'y it would mean that this girl o' mine, that's fit for to
bewal, you know Josiewould hev to leave this home we've builtthat
she's builthere, an' go out where there hain't nobody to be seen from
week's end to week's end but cowboys, an' once in a while one o' the
greasy women o' the dugouts. Do you know what happens to the nicest
girls when they don't see the right sort o' menat all, y' know?
I nodded. I knew what he meant. Then I shook my head in denial of
I don't b'lieve it nuther, said he; but is it any cinch, now? An'
anyhow, she'll be where she wun't ever hear a bit o' music, 'r see a
picter, 'r see a friend. She'll swelter in the burnin' sun an' parch in
the hot winds in the summer, an' in the winter she'll be shet in by
blizzards an' cold weather. She'll see nothin' but kioats,
prairie-dogs, sage-brush, an' cactus. An' what fer! Jest for nothin'
but me! To git me away from things she's afraid've got more of a pull
with me than what she's got. An' I say, by the livin' Lord, I'll go
under before I'll give up, an' say I've got as fur down as that!
It is something rending and tearing to a man like Bill, totally
unaccustomed to the expression of sentiment, to give utterance to such
depths of feeling. Weak and trembling as he was, the sight of his
agitation was painful. I hastened to say to him that I hoped there was
no necessity for such a step as the one he so strongly deprecated.
I d' know, said he dubiously. I thought one while that I'd never
want to go near town, 'r touch the stuff agin. But I'll tell yeh
something that happened yisterday!
He drew up his chair and looked behind him like a child preparing to
relate some fearsome tale of goblin or fiend, and went on:
Josie had the team hitched up to go out ridin', an' I druv around
the block to git to the front step. An' somethin' seemed to pull the
nigh line when I got to the cawner! It wa'n't that I wanted to goand
don't you say anything about this thing, Mr. Barslow; but somethin'
seemed to pull the nigh line an' turn me toward Main Street; an' fust
thing I knew, I was a-drivin' hell-bent for O'Brien's place! Somethin'
was a-whisperin' to me, 'Go down an' see the boys, an' show 'em that
yeh can drink 'r let it alone, jest as yeh see fit!' And the thought
come over me o' Josie a-standin' there at the gate waitin' f'r me, an'
I set my teeth, an' jerked the hosses' heads around, an' like to upset
the buggy a-turnin'. 'You look pale, pa,' says Josie. 'Maybe we'd
better not go.' 'No,' says I, 'I'm all right.' But what ... gits me ...
is thinkin' that, if I'll be hauled around like that when I'm two miles
away, how long would I last ... if onst I was to git right down in the
midst of it!
I could not endure the subject any longer; it was so unutterably
fearful to see him making this despairing struggle against the foe so
strongly lodged within his citadel. I talked to him of old times and
places known to us both, and incidentally called to his mind instances
of the recovery of men afflicted as he was. Soon Josie came after him,
and Jim dropped in, as he was quite in the habit of doing, making one
of those casual and informal little companies which constituted a most
distinctive feature of life in our compact little Belgravia.
Josie insisted that life in the cow country was what she had been
longing for. She had never shot any one, and had never painted a
cowboy, an Indian, or a coyotethings she had always longed to do.
You must take me out there, pa, said she. It's the only way to
utilize the capital we've foolishly tied up in the department of the
I reckon we'll hev to do it, then, little gal, said Bill.
My mind, said Jim, is divided between your place up on the
headwaters of Bitter Creek and Paris. Paris seems to promise pretty
well, when this fitful fever of business is over and we've cleaned up
the mill run.
Art, he went on, seemed to be a career for which he was really
fitted. In the foreground, as a cowboy, or in the middle distance, in
his proper person as a tenderfoot, it seemed as if there was a vocation
for him. Josie made no reply to this, and Jim went away downcast.
The Addison-Giddings wedding drew on out of the future, and seemed
to loom portentously like doom for the devoted Clifford. It may have
suggested itself to the reader that Mr. Giddings was an abnormally
timid lover. The eternal feminine at this time seemed personified in
Laura, and worked upon him like an obsession. I have never seen a case
quite like his. The manner in which the marriage was regarded, and the
extent to which it was discussed, may have had something to do with
The boom period anywhere is essentially an era in which public
events dominate those of a private character, and publicity and
promotion, hand in hand, occupy the center of the stage. Giddings, as
editor and proprietor of the Herald, was one of the actors on
whom the lime-light was pretty constantly focussed. Miss Addison,
belonging to the Lattimore family, and prominent in good works, was
more widely known than he among Lattimoreans of the old days, sometimes
referred to by Mr. Elkins as the trilobites, who constituted a sort of
ancient and exclusive caste among us, priding themselves on having
become rich by the only dignified and purely automatic mode, that of
sitting heroically still, and allowing their lands to rise in value.
These regarded Laura as one of themselves, and her marriage as a
sacrament of no ordinary character.
Giddings, on the other hand, as the type of the new crowd who had
done such wonders, and as the embodiment of its spirit, was dimly
sensed by all classes as a sort of hero of obscure origin, who by
strong blows had hewed his way to the possession of a princess of the
blood. So the interest was really absorbing. Even the Herald's
rival, the Evening Times, dropped for a time the normal acrimony
of its references to the Herald, and sent a reporter to make a
laudatory write-up of the wedding.
On the night before the event, deep in the evening, Giddings and a
bibulous friend insisted on having refreshments served to them in the
parlor of the clubhouse. This was a violation of rules. Moreover, they
had involuntarily assumed sitting postures on the carpet, rendering
waiting upon them a breach of decorum as well. At least this was the
view of Pearson, who was now attached to the club.
You must excuse me, gentlemen, he said, but Ah'm bound to obey
Bring us, said Giddings, two cocktails.
Can't do it, sah, said Pearson, not hyah, sah!
Bring us paper to write resignations on! said Giddings. We won't
belong to a club where we are bullied by niggers.
Pearson brought the paper.
They's no rule, suh, said he, again' suhvin' resignation papah
anywhah in the house. But let me say, Mistah Giddings, that Ah wouldn't
be hasty: it's a heap hahder to get inter this club now than what it
was when you-all come in!
This suggestion of Pearson's was in every one's mouth as the most
amusing story of the time. Even Giddings laughed about it. But all his
laughter was hollow.
Some bets were offered that one of two things would happen on the
wedding-day: either Giddings (who had formerly been of abstemious
habits) would overdo the attempt to nerve himself up to the occasion
and go into a vinous collapse, or he would stay sober and take to his
heels. Thus, in fear and trembling, did the inexplicable disciple of
Iago approach his happiness; but, like most soldiers, when the battle
was actually on, he went to the fighting-line dazed into bravery.
It was quite a spectacular affair. The church was a floral grotto,
and there were, in great abundance, the adjuncts of ribbon barriers,
special electric illuminations, special music, full ritual, ushers,
bridesmaids, and millinery. Antonia was chief bridesmaid, and Cornish
best man. The severe conformity to vogue, and preservation of good
form, were generally attributed to his management. It was a great
There was an elaborate supper, of which Giddings partook in a manner
which tended to prove that his sense of taste was still in his
possession, whatever may have been the case with his other senses.
Josie was there, and Jim was her shadow. She was a little pale, but not
at all sad; her figure, which had within the past year or so acquired
something of the wealth commonly conceded to matronliness, had waned to
the slenderness of the day I first saw her in the art-gallery, but now,
as then, she was slim, not thin. To two, at least, she was a vision of
delight, as one might well see by the look of adoration which Jim
poured into her eyes from time to time, and the hungry gaze with which
Cornish took in the ruddy halo of her hair, the pale and intellectual
face beneath it, and the sensuous curves of the compact little form.
For my own part, my vote was for Antonia, for the belle of the
gathering; but she sailed through the evening, like some full-breasted
swan, accepting no homage except the slavish devotion of Cecil, whose
constant offering of his neck to her tread gave him recognition as
entitled to the reward of those who are permitted only to stand and
Mr. Elkins had furnished a special train over the L. &G. W. to make
the run with the bridal party to Elkins Junction, connecting there with
the east-bound limited on the Pendleton line, thence direct to Elysium.
Laura, rosy as a bride should be, and actually attractive to me for
the first time in her life, sat in her traveling-dress trying to look
matter-of-fact, and discussing time-tables with her bridegroom, who
seemed to find less and less of dream and more of the actual in the
situation,calm returning with the cutaway. Cecil and the coterie of
gilded youth who followed him did their share to bring Giddings back to
earth by a series of practical jokes, hackneyed, but ever fresh. The
largest trunk, after it reached the platform, blossomed out in a sign
reading: The Property of the Bride and Groom. You can Identify the
Owners by that Absorbed Expression! Divers revelatory incidents were
arranged to eventuate on the limited train. Precipitation of rice was
produced, in modes known to sleight-of-hand only. So much of this
occurred that Captain Tolliver showed, by a stately refusal to see the
joke, his disapproval of ita feeling which he expressed in an aside
Hoss-play of this so't, suh, said he, ought not to be tolerated
among civilized people, and I believe is not! In the state of society
in which I was reahed such niggah-shines would mean pistols at ten
paces, within fo'ty-eight houahs, with the lady's neahest male
relative! And propahly so, too, suh; quite propahly!
Shall we go to the train, Albert? said Alice, as the party made
ready to go.
No, said I, unless you particularly wish it; we shall go home.
Mr. Barslow, said one of the maids, you are wanted at the
Is this you, Al? said Jim's voice over the wire. I'm up here at
Josie's, and I am afraid there's trouble with her father. When we got
here we found him gone. Hadn't you better go out and look around for
Have you any idea where I'm likely to find him? I asked. I saw at
once the significance of Bill's absence. He had taken advantage of the
fact of his wife and daughter's going to the wedding, and had yielded
to the thing which drew him away from them.
Try the Club, and then O'Brien's, answered Jim. If you don't find
him in one place or the other, call me up over the 'phone. Call me up
anyhow; I'll wait here.
The Times man heard my end of the conversation, saw me
hastily give Alice word as to the errand which kept me from going home
with her, observed my preparations for leaving the company, and,
scenting news, fell in with me as I was walking toward the Club.
Any story in this, Mr. Barslow? he asked.
Oh, is that you, Watson? I answered. I was going on an errand
which concerns myself. I was going alone.
If you're looking for any one, he said, trotting along beside me,
I can find him a good deal quicker than you can, probably. And if
there's news in it, I'll get it anyhow; and I'll naturally know it more
from your standpoint, and look at it more as you do, if we go together.
Don't you think so?
See here, Watson, said I, you may help if you wish. But if you
print a word without my consent, I can and will scoop the Times
every day, from this on, with every item of business news coming
through our office. Do you understand, and do you promise?
Why, certainly, said he. You've got the thing in your own hands.
What is it, anyhow?
I told him, and found that Trescott's dipsomania was as well known
to him as myself.
He's been throwing money to the fowls for a year or two, he
remarked. It's better than two to one you don't find him at the Club:
the atmosphere won't be congenial for him there.
At the Club we found Watson's forecast verified. At O'Brien's our
knocking on the door aroused a sleepy bartender, who told us that no
one was there, but refused to let us in. Watson called him aside, and
they talked together for a few minutes.
All right, said the reporter, turning away from him, much
obliged, Hank; I believe you've struck it.
Watson was leader now, and I followed him toward Front Street, near
the river. He said that Hank, the barkeeper, had told him that Trescott
had been in his saloon about nine o'clock, drinking heavily; and from
the company he was in, it was to be suspected that he would be steered
into a joint down on the river front. We passed through an alley, and
down a back basement stairway, came to a door, on which Watson
confidently knocked, and which was opened by a negro who let us in as
soon as he saw the reporter. The air was sickening with an odor which I
then perceived for the first time, and which Watson called the dope
smell. There was an indefinable horror about the place, which so
repelled me that nothing but my obligation could have held me there.
The lights were dim, and at first I could see nothing more than that
the sides of the room were divided into compartments by dull-colored
draperies, in a manner suggesting the sections of a sleeping-car. There
were sounds of dreadful breathings and inarticulate voices, and over
all that sickening smell. I saw, flung aimlessly from the crepuscular
and curtained recesses, here the hairy brawn of a man's arm, there a
woman's leg in scarlet silk stocking, the foot half withdrawn from a
red slipper with a high French heel. The Gate of a Hundred Sorrows had
opened for me, and I stood as if gazing, with eyes freshly unsealed to
its horrors, into some dim inferno, sibilant with hisses, and enwrapped
in indeterminate dragon-foldsand I in quest of a lost soul.
He wouldn't go with his pal, boss, I heard the negro say. Ah
tried to send him home, but he said he had some medicine to take, an'
he 'nsisted on stayin'.
As he ceased to speak, I knew that Watson had been interrogating
him, and that he was referring to the man we sought.
Show me where he is, I commanded.
Yes, boss! Right hyah, sah!
In an inner room, on a bed, not a pallet like those in the first
chamber, was Trescott, his head lying peacefully on a pillow, his hands
clasped across his chest. Somehow, I was not surprised to see no
evidence of life, no rise and fall of the breast, no sound of
breathing. But Watson started forward in amazement, laid his hand for a
moment on the pallid forehead, lifted for an instant and then dropped
the inert hand, turned and looked fixedly in my face, and whispered,
My God! He's dead!
As if at some great distance, I heard the negro saying, He done
said he hed ter tek some medicine, boss. Ah hopes you-all won't make no
trouble foh me, boss!
Send for a doctor! said I. Telephone Mr. Elkins, at Trescott's
Watson darted out, and for an eternity, as it seemed to me, I stood
there alone. There was a scurrying of the vermin in the place to snatch
up a few valuables and flee, as if they had been the crawling things
under some soon-to-be-lifted stone, to whom light was a calamity. I was
left with the Stillness before me, and the dreadful breathings and
inarticulate voices outside. Then came the clang and rattle of
ambulance and patrol, and in came a policeman or two, a physician, a
Herald man and Watson, who was bitterly complaining of Bill for
having had the bad taste to die on the morning paper's time.
And soon came Jim, in a carriage, whirled along the street like a
racing chariotwith whom I rode home, silent, save for answering his
questions. Now the wife, gazing out of her door, saw in the street the
Something for which she had peered past me the other night.
The men carried it in at the door, and laid it on the divan. Josie,
her arms and shoulders still bare in the dress she had worn to the
wedding, broke away from Cornish, who was bending over her and saying
things to comfort her, and swept down the hall to the divan where Bill
lay, white and still, and clothed with the mystic majesty of death. The
shimmering silk and lace of her gown lay all along the rug and over the
divan, like drapery thrown there to conceal what lay before us. She
threw her arms across the still breast, and her head went down on his.
Oh, pa! Oh, pa! she moaned, you never did any one any harm!...
You were always good and kind!... And always loving and forgiving....
And why should they come to you, poor pa ... and take you from the
things you loved ... and ... murder you ... like this!
Jim fell back, as if staggering from a blow. Cornish came forward,
and offered to raise up the stricken girl, whose eyes shone in her
grief like the eyes of insanity. Alice stepped before Cornish, raised
Josie up, and supported her from the room.
* * * * *
Again it was morning, when weAlice, Jim, and Isat face to face
in our home. An untasted breakfast was spread before us. Jim's eyes
were on the cloth, and nothing served to rouse him. I knew that the
blow from which he had staggered still benumbed his faculties.
Come, said I, we shall need your best thought down at the Grain
Belt Building in a couple of hours. This brings things to a crisis. We
shall have a terrible dilemma to face, it's likely. Eat and be ready to
God! said he, it's the old tale over again, Al: throw the dead
and wounded overboard to clear the decks, and on with the fight!
CHAPTER XIX. In Which Events Resume
their Usual Courseat a Somewhat Accelerated Pace.
The death of Mr. Trescott was treated with that consideration which
the affairs of the locally prominent always receive in towns where
local papers are in close financial touch with the circle affected.
Nothing was said of suicide, or of the place where the body was found;
and in fact I doubt if the family ever knew the real facts; but the
property matters were looked upon as a legitimate subject for comment.
Yesterday, said, in due time, the Herald, the Trescott
estate passed into the hands of Will Lattimore, as administrator. He
was appointed upon the petition of Martha D. Trescott, the widow. His
bond, in the sum of $500,000, was signed by James R. Elkins, Albert F.
Barslow, J. Bedford Cornish, and Marion Tolliver, as sureties, and is
said to be the largest in amount ever filed in our local Probate Court.
Mr. Lattimore is non-committal as to the value of the estate. The
bond is not to be taken as altogether indicative of this value, as
additional bonds may be called for at any time, and the individual
responsibility of the administrator is very large. He will at once
enter upon the work of settling up the estate, receiving and filing
claims, and preparing his report. He estimates the time necessary to a
full understanding of the extent and condition of his trust at weeks
and even months.
The petition states that the deceased died intestate, leaving
surviving him the petitioner and an only child, a daughter, Josephine.
As Miss Trescott has attained her majority, she will at once come into
the possession of the greater part of this estate, becoming thereby the
richest heiress in this part of the West. This fact of itself would
render her an interesting person, an interest to which her charming
personality adds zest. She is a very beautiful girl, petite in figure,
with splendid brown hair and eyes. She is possessed of a strong
individuality, has had the advantages of the best American and
Continental schools, and is said to be an artist of much ability. Mrs.
Trescott comes of the Dana family, prominent in central Illinois from
the earliest settlement of the state.
President Elkins, of the L. &G. W., who, perhaps, knows more than
any other person as to the situation and value of the various Trescott
properties, could not be seen last night. He went to Chicago on
Wednesday, and yesterday wired his partner, Mr. Barslow, that business
had called him on to New York, where he would remain for some time.
In another column of the same issue was a double-leaded news-story,
based on certain rumors that Jim's trip to New York was taken for the
purpose of financing extensions of the L. &G. W. which would develop it
into a system of more than a thousand miles of line.
Their past successes have shown, said the Herald in
editorial comment on this, that Mr. Elkins and his associates are
resourceful enough to bring such an undertaking, gigantic as it is,
quite within their abilities. The world has not seen the best that is
in the power of this most remarkable group of men to accomplish.
Lattimore, already a young giantess in stature and strength, has not
begun to grow, in comparison with what is in the future for her, if she
is to be made the center of such a vast railway system as is outlined
in the news item referred to.
From which one gathers that the young men left by Mr. Giddings in
charge of his paper were entirely competent to carry forward his
Jim had gone to Chicago to see Halliday, hoping to rouse in him an
interest in the Belt Line and L. &G. W. properties; but on arriving
there had telegraphed to me that he must go to New York. This message
was followed by a letter of explanation and instructions.
Halliday spends a good deal of his time in New York now, the
letter read, and is there at present. His understudy here advised me
to go on East. I should rather see him there than here, on account of
the greater likelihood that Pendleton may detect us: so I'm going. I
shall stay as long as I can do any good by it. Lattimore won't get the
condition of the estate worked out for a month, and until we know about
that, there won't anything come up of the first magnitude, and even if
there should, you can handle it. I don't really expect to come back
with the two million dollars for the L. &G. W., but I do hope to have
it in sight!
In all your prayers let me be remembered; 'if it don't do no good,
it won't do no harm,' and I'll need all the help I can get. I'm going
where the lobster à la Newburg and the Welsh rabbit hunt in couples in
the interest of the Sure-Thing game; where the bird-and-bottle combine
is the stalking-horse for the Frame-up; and where the Flim-flam (I use
the word on the authority of Beaumont, Fletcher &Giddings) has its
natural habitat. I go to foster the entente cordiale between our
friends Pendleton and Halliday into what I may term a mutual
cross-lift, of which we shall be the beneficiariesin trust, however,
for the use and behoof of the captives below decks.
Giddings and Laura are here. I had them out to a box party last
night. They are most insufferably happy. Clifford is not sane yet, but
is rallying. He is rallying considerably; for he spoke of plans for
pushing the Herald Addition harder than ever when he gets home.
And you know such a thing as business has never entered his mind for
six monthsunless it was business to write that 'Apostrophe to the
Heart,' which he called a poem, and which, I don't mind admitting now,
I hired his foreman to pi after the copy was lost.
Keep everything as near ship-shape as you can. Watch the papers, or
they may do us more harm in a single fool story than can be remedied by
wise counter-mendacity in a year. Especially watch the Times,
although there's mighty little choice between them. You and Alice ought
to spend as much time at the Trescotts' as you can spare. You'll hear
from me almost daily. Wire anything of importance fully. Keep the L.
&G. W. extension story before the people; it may make some impression
even in the East, but it's sure to do good in the local fake market.
Don't miss a chance to jolly our Eastern banks. I should declare a
dividendsay 4%on Cement stock. At Atlas Power Company meeting ask
Cornish to move passing earnings to surplus in lieu of dividend, on the
theory of building new factoriesanyhow, consult with the fellows
about it: that money will be handy to have in the treasury before the
year is out, unless I am mistaken. Sorry I can't be at these meetings.
Will be back for those of Rapid Transit and Belt Line Companies.
P. S.Coming in, I saw a group of children dancing on a bridge,
close to a schoolhouse, down near the Mississippi. I guess no one but
myself knew what they were doing; but I recognized our old 'Weevilly
Wheat' dance. I could imagine the ancient Scotch air, which the noise
of the train kept me from hearing, and the old words you and I used to
sing, dancing on the Elk Creek bridge:
'We want no more of your weevilly wheat,
We want no more your barley;
But we want some of your good old wheat,
To make a cake for Charley!'
You remember it all! How we used to swing the little girls around,
and when we remembered it afterwards, how we would float off into
realms of blissful companionship with freckled, short-skirted,
bare-legged angels! Things were simpler then, Al, weren't they? And to
emphasize that fact, my mind ran along the trail of the 'Weevilly
Wheat' into the domain of tickers, margins, puts and calls, and all the
cussedness of the Board of Trade, and came bump against poor Bill's
bucket-shop deals, and settled down to the chronic wonder as to just
how badly crippled he was when he died. If Will gets it figured out
soon, at all accurately, wire me.
The wedding tour came to an end, and the bride and groom returned
long before Mr. Elkins did. Giddings dropped into my office the day
after their return, and, quite in his old way, began to discuss affairs
I'm going to close out the Herald Addition, said he. Real
estate and newspaper work don't mix, and I shall unload the real
estate. What do you say to an auction?
How can you be sure of anything like an adequate scale of prices?
said I; and won't you demoralize things?
It'll strengthen prices, he replied, the way I'll manage it. This
is the age of the sensationalthe yellowand you people haven't been
yellow enough in your methods of selling dirt. If you say
sensationalism is immoral, I won't dispute it, but just simply ask how
the fact happens to be material?
I saw that he was going out of his way to say this, and avoided
discussion by asking him to particularize as to his methods.
We shall pursue a progressively startling course of advertising, to
the end that the interest shall just miss acute mania. I'll have the
best auctioneer in the world. On the day of the auction we'll have a
series of doings which will leave the people absolutely no way out of
buying. We'll have a scale of upset prices which will prevent loss.
Why, I'll make such a killing as never was known outside of the Fifteen
Decisive Battles. I sha'n't seem to do all this personally. I shall
turn the work over to Tolliver; but I'll be the power behind the
movement. The gestures and stage business will be those of Esau, but
the word-painting will be that of Jacob.
Well, said I, I see nothing wrong about your plan; and it may be
There being nothing wrong about it is no objection from my
standpoint, said he. In fact, I think I prefer to have it morally
right rather than otherwise, other things being equal, you know. As for
its practicability, you watch the Captain, and you'll see!
This talk with Giddings convinced me that he was entirely himself
again; and also that the boom was going on apace. It had now long
reached the stage where the efforts of our syndicate were reinforced by
those of hundreds of men, who, following the lines of their own
interests, were powerfully and effectively striving to accomplish the
same ends. I pointed this out in a letter to Mr. Elkins in New York.
I am glad to note, said he in reply, that affairs are going on so
cheerfully at home. Don't imagine, however, that because a horde of
volunteers (most of them nine-spots) have taken hold, our old guard is
of any less importance. Do you remember what a Prince Rupert's drop is?
I absolutely know you don't, and to save you the trouble of looking it
up, I'll explain that it is a glass pollywog which holds together all
right until you snap off the tip of its tail. Then a job lot of
molecular stresses are thrown out of balance, and the thing develops
the surprising faculty of flying into innumerable fragments, with a
very pleasing explosion. Whether the name is a tribute of Prince
Rupert's propensity to fly off the handle, or whether he discovered the
drop, or first noted its peculiarities, I leave for the historian of
the Cromwellian epoch to decide. The point I make is this. Our
syndicate is the tail of the Lattimore Rupert's drop; and the Grain
Belt Trust Co. is the very slenderest and thinnest tip of the
pollywog's propeller. Hence the writer's tendency to count the strokes
of the clock these nights.
Dating from the night of Trescott's death, and therefore covering
the period of Jim's absence, I could not fail to notice the renewed
ardor with which Cornish devoted himself to the Trescott family. Alice
and I, on our frequent visits, found him at their home so much that I
was forced to the conclusion that he must have had some encouragement.
During this period of their mourning his treatment of both mother and
daughter was at once so solicitously friendly, and so delicate, that no
one in their place could have failed to feel a sense of obligation. He
sent flowers to Mrs. Trescott, and found interesting things in books
and magazines for Josie. Having known him as a somewhat cold and formal
man, Mrs. Trescott was greatly pleased with this new view of his
character. He diverted her mind, and relieved the monotony of her
grief. Cornish was a diplomat (otherwise Jim would have had no use for
him in the first place), and he skilfully chose this sad and tender
moment to bring about a closer intimacy than had existed between him
and the afflicted family. It was clearly no affair of mine.
Nevertheless, after several experiences in finding Cornish talking with
Josie by the Trescott grate, I considered Jim's interests menaced.
Well, said Alice, when I mentioned this feeling, Mr. Cornish is
certainly a desirable match, and it can scarcely be expected that Josie
will remain permanently unattached.
There was a little resentment in her voice, for which I could see no
reason, and therefore protested that, under all circumstances, it was
scarcely fair to blame me for the lady's unappropriated state.
Under other conditions, said I, I assure you that I should not
permit such an anomaly to existif I could help it.
The incident was then declared closed.
During this absence of Jim's, which, I think, was the real cause of
Alice's displeasure, the Herald Addition sale went forward, with
all the yellow features which the minds of Giddings and Tolliver
could invent. It began with flaring advertisements in both papers.
Then, on a certain day, the sale was declared open, and every
bill-board and fence bore posters puffing it. A great screen was built
on a vacant lot on Main Street, and across the street was placed, every
night, the biggest magic lantern procurable, from which pictures of all
sorts were projected on the screen, interlarded with which were
statements of the Herald Addition sales for the day, and
quotations showing the advance in prices since yesterday. And at all
times the coming auction was cried abroad, until the interest grew to
something wonderful. Every farmer and country merchant within a hundred
miles of the city was talking of it. Tolliver was in his highest
feather. On the day of the auction he secured excursion rates on all of
the railroads, and made it a holiday. Porter's great military band,
then touring the country, was secured for the afternoon and evening.
Thousands of people came in on the excursions and it seemed like a
carnival. Out at the piece of land platted as the Herald
Addition, whither people were conveyed in street-cars and carriages
during the long afternoon the great band played about the stands
erected for the auctioneer, who went from stand to stand, crying off
the lots, the precise location of the particular parcel at any moment
under the hammer being indicated by the display of a flag, held high by
two strong fellows, who lowered the banner and walked to another site
in obedience to signals wigwagged by the enthusiastic Captain. The
throng bid excitedly, and the clerks who made out the papers worked
desperately to keep up with the demands for deeds. It was clear that
the sale was a success. As the sun sank, handbills were scattered
informing the crowd that in the evening Tolliver &Company, as a slight
evidence of their appreciation of the splendid business of the day,
would throw open to their friends the new Cornish Opera House, where
Porter's celebrated band would give its regular high-class concert.
Tolliver & Company, the bill went on, took pleasure in further
informing the public that, in view of the great success of the day's
sale, and the very small amount to which their holdings in the
Herald Addition were reduced, the remainder of this choice piece of
property would be sold from the stage to the highest bidder, absolutely
without any reservation or restriction as to the price!
I had received a telegram from Jim saying that he would return on a
train arriving that evening, and asking that Cornish, Hinckley, and
Lattimore be at the office to meet him. I was on the street early in
the evening, looking with wonder at the crowds making merry after the
dizzy day of speculative delirium. At the opera house, filled to
overflowing with men admitted on tickets, the great band was
discoursing its music, in alternation with the insinuating oratory of
the auctioneer, under whose skilful management the odds and ends of the
Herald Addition were changing owners at a rate which was simply
Don't you see, said Giddings delightedly, that this is the only
way to sell town lots?
Jim came into the office, fresh and buoyant after his long trip, his
laugh as hearty and mirth-provoking as ever. After shaking hands with
all, he threw himself into his own chair.
Boys, said he, I feel like a mouse just returning from a visit to
a cat convention. But what's this crowd for? It's nearly as bad as
We explained what Giddings and Tolliver had been doing.
But, said he, do you mean to tell me that he's sold that Addition
to this crowd of reubs?
He most certainly has, said Cornish.
Well, fellows, replied Jim, put away the accounts of this as
curiosities! You'll have some difficulty in making posterity believe
that there was ever a time or place where town lots were sold with
magic lanterns and a brass band! And don't advertise it too much with
Dorr, Wickersham and those fellows. They think us a little crazy now.
But a brass band! That comes pretty near being the limit.
Gentlemen, said Mr. Lattimore, I shall have to leave you soon;
and will you kindly make use of me as soon as you conveniently can, and
let me go?
Have you got the condition of the Trescott estate figured out?
said Mr. Elkins.
Yes, said the lawyer.
We all leaned forward in absorbed interest; for this was news.
Have you told these gentlemen? Jim went on.
I have told no one.
Please give us your conclusions.
Gentlemen, said Mr. Lattimore, I am sorry to report that the
Trescott estate is absolutely insolvent! It lacks a hundred thousand
dollars of being worth anything!
There was a silence for some moments.
My God! said Hinckley, and our trust company is on all that paper
of Trescott's scattered over the East!
What's become of the money he got on all his sales? asked Jim.
From the looks of the check-stubs, and other indications, said Mr.
Lattimore, I should say the most of it went into Board of Trade
Cornish was swearing in a repressed way, and above his black beard
his face was pale. Elkins sat drumming idly on the desk with his
Gentlemen, said he, I take it to be conceded that unless the
Trescott paper is cared for, things will go to pieces here. That's the
same as saying that it must be taken up at all hazards.
Not exactly, said Cornish, at all hazards.
Well, said Jim, it amounts to that. Has any one any suggestions
as to the course to be followed?
Mr. Cornish asked whether it would not be best to take time, allow
the probate proceedings to drag along, and see what would turn up.
But the Trust Company's guaranties, said Mr. Hinckley, with a
banker's scent for the complications of commercial paper, must be made
good on presentation, or it may as well close its doors.
The thing won't 'drag along' successfully, said Jim. Have you a
schedule of the assets?
Yes, said Mr. Lattimore. The life-insurance money and the home
are exempt from liability for debts, and I've left them out; but the
other properties you'll find listed here.
And he threw down on the desk a folded document in a legal wrapper.
The family, said Jim gravely, must be told of the condition of
things. It is a hard thing to do, but it must be done. Then conveyances
must be obtained of all the property, subject to debts; and we must
take the property and pay the debts. That also will be a hard thing to
doin several ways; but it must be done. It must be donedo you all
Let me first ask, said Mr. Cornish, turning to Mr. Hinckley, how
long would it be before there would have to be trouble on this paper?
It couldn't possibly be postponed more than sixty days, was the
Is there any prospect, Cornish went on, addressing Mr. Elkins, of
closing out the railway properties within sixty days?
A prospect, yes, said Jim.
Anything like a certainty?
No, not in sixty days.
Then, said Cornish reluctantly, there seems to be no way out of
it, and I agree. But I feel as if I were being held up, and I assent on
this ground only: that Halliday and Pendleton will never deal on equal
terms with a set of financial cripples, and that any trouble here will
seal the fate of the railway transaction. But, lest this be taken as a
precedent, I wish it to be understood that I'm not jeopardizing my
fortune, or any part of it, out of any sentimental consideration for
these supposed claims of any one who holds Lattimore paper, in the East
Jim sat drumming on the desk.
As we are all agreed on what to do, said he drawlingly, we can
skip the question why we do it. Prepare the necessary papers, Mr.
Lattimore. And perhaps you are the proper person to apprise the family
as to the true condition of things. We'll have to get together
to-morrow and begin to dig for the funds. I think we can do no more
We walked down the street and dropped into the opera house in time
to hear the grand finale of the last piece by the band. As the great
outburst of music died away, Captain Tolliver radiantly stepped to the
footlights, dividing the applause with the musicians.
Ladies and gentlemen, said he, puhmit me to say, in bidding
you-all good-night, that I congratulate the republic on the possession
of a citizenship so awake to theiah true interests as you have shown
you'selves to-day! I congratulate the puhchasers of propahty in the
Herald Addition upon the bahgains they have secuahed. Only five
minutes' walk from the cyahs, and well within the three-mile limit, the
time must soon come when these lots will be covahed with the mansions
of ouah richah citizens. Even since the sales of this afternoon, I am
infawmed that many of the pieces have been resold at an advance,
netting the puhchasers a nice profit without putting up a cent. Upon
all this I congratulate you. Lattimore, ladies and gentlemen, has nevah
been cuhsed by a boom, and I pray God she nevah may! This rathah brisk
growth of ouahs, based as it is on crying needs of ouah trade
territory, is really unaccountably slow, all things considered. But I
may say right hyah that things ah known to be in sto' foh us which will
soon give ouah city an impetus which will cyahy us fo'ward by leaps and
boundsby leaps and bounds, ladies and gentlemento that highah and
still mo' commandin' place in the galaxy of American cities which is
ouahs by right! And now as you-all take youah leave, I propose that we
rise and give three cheers fo' Lattimore and prosperity.
The cheers were given thunderously, and the crowd bustled out,
filling the street.
Well, wouldn't that jar you! said Jim. This is a case of 'Gaze
first upon this picture, then on that' sure enough, isn't it, Al?
Captain Tolliver joined us, so full of excitement of the evening
that he forgot to give Mr. Elkins the greeting his return otherwise
would have evoked.
Gentlemen, said he, it was glorious! Nevah until this moment have
I felt true fawgiveness in my breast faw the crime of Appomattox! But
to-night we ah truly a reunited people!
Glad to know it, said Jim, mighty glad, Captain. The news'll send
stocks up a-whooping, if it gets to New York!
CHAPTER XX. I Twice Explain the
Condition of the Trescott Estate.
Nothing had remained unchanged in Lattimore, and our old offices in
the First National Bank edifice had long since been vacated by us. The
very building had been demolished, and another and many-storied
structure stood in its place. Now we were in the big Grain Belt Trust
Company's building, the ground-floor of which was shared between the
Trust Company and the general offices of the Lattimore and Great
Western. In one corner, and next to the private room of President
Elkins, was the office of Barslow &Elkins, where I commanded. Into
which entered Mrs. Trescott and her daughter one day, soon after Mr.
Lattimore had been given his instructions concerning the offer of our
syndicate to pay the debts of their estate and take over its
Josie and I have called, said the widow, to talk with you about
the estate matters. Mr. Lattimore came to see us last night andtold
She seemed a little agitated, but in nowise so much cast down as
might be expected of one who, considering herself rich, learns that she
is poor. She had in her manner that mixture of dignity and constraint
which marks the bearing of people whose relations with their friends
have been affected by some great grief. A calamity not only changes our
own feelings, but it makes us uncertain as to what our friends expect
What we wish explained, said Josie, is just how it comes that our
property must be deeded away.
I can see, said I, that that is a matter which demands
investigation on your part. Your request is a natural and a proper
It is not that, said she, evidently objecting to the word
investigation; we are not so very much surprised, and we have no doubt
as to the necessity of doing it. But we want to know as much as
possible about it before we act.
Quite right, said I. Mr. Elkins is in the next office; let us
call him in. He sees and can explain these things as clearly as any
Jim came in response to a summons by one of his clerks. He shook
hands gravely with my visitors.
We are told, said Mrs. Trescott, that our debts are a good deal
more than we can paythat we really have nothing.
Not quite that, said Jim; the law gives to the widow the home and
the life insurance. That is a good deal more than nothing.
As to whether we can keep that, said Josie, we are not discussing
now; but there are some other things we should like cleared up.
We don't understand Mr. Cornish's offer to take the property and
pay the debts, said Mrs. Trescott.
Jim's glance sought mine in a momentary and questioning
astonishment; then he calmly returned the widow's look. Josie's eyes
were turned toward the carpet, and a slight blush tinged her cheeks.
Ah, said Jim, yes; Mr. Cornish's offer. How did you learn of it?
I got my understanding of it from Mr. Lattimore, said Mrs.
Trescott, and told Josie about it.
Before we consent to carry out this plan, said Josie, we ... I
want to know all about the motives and considerations back of it. I
want to know whether it is based on purely business considerations, or
on some fancied obligation ... or ... or ... on merely friendly
As to motives, said Mr. Elkins, if the purely business
requirements of the situation fully account for the proposition, we may
waive the discussion of motives, can't we, Josie?
I imagine, said Mrs. Trescott, finding that Jim's question
remained unanswered, that none of us will claim to be able to judge
Mr. Cornish's motives.
Certainly not, acquiesced Mr. Elkins. None of us.
This is not what we came to ask about, said Josie. Please tell us
whether our house and the insurance money would be mamma's if this plan
were not adoptedif the courts went on and settled the estate in the
Yes, said I, the law gives her that, and justly. For the
creditors knew all about the law when they took those bonds. So you
need have no qualms of conscience on that.
As none of it belongs to me, said Josie, I shall leave all that
to mamma. I avoid the necessity of settling it by ceasing to be 'the
richest heiress in this part of the West'one of the uses of
adversity. But to proceed. Mamma says that there is a corporation, or
something, forming to pay our debts and take our property, and that it
will take a hundred thousand dollars more to pay the debts than the
estate is worth. I must understand why this corporation should do this.
I can see that it will save pa's good name in the business world, and
save us from public bankruptcy; but ought we to be saved these things
at such a cost? And can we permita corporationor any one, to do
this for us?
Mr. Elkins nodded to me to speak.
My dear, said I, it's another illustration of the truth that no
man liveth unto himself alone
She shrank, as if she feared some fresh hurt was about to be
touched, and I saw that it was the second part of the text the
anticipation of which gave her pain. Quotation is sometimes ill for a
The fact is, I went on, that things in Lattimore are not in
condition to bear a shockgeneral money conditions, I mean, you know.
I know, she said, nodding assent; I can see that.
Your father did a very large business for a time, I continued;
and when he sold lands he took some cash in payment, and for the
balance notes of the various purchasers, secured by mortgages on the
properties. Many of these persons are mere adventurers, who bought on
speculation, and when their first notes came due failed to pay. Now if
you had these notes, you could hold them, or foreclose the mortgages,
and, beyond being disappointed in getting the money, no harm would be
I understand, said Josie. I knew something of this before.
But if we haven't the notes, inquired her mother, where are
Well, I went on, you know how we have all handled these matters
here. Mr. Trescott did as we all did: he negotiated them. The Grain
Belt Trust Company placed them for him, and his are the only securities
it has handled except those of our syndicate. He took them to the Trust
Company and signed them on the back, and thus promised to pay them if
the first signer failed. Then the trust company attached its guaranty
to them, and they were resold all over the East, wherever people had
money to put out at interest.
I see, said Josie; we have already had the money on these notes.
Yes, said I, and now we find that a great many of these notes,
which are being sent on for payment, will not be paid. Your father's
estate is not able to pay them, and our trust company must either take
them up or fail. If it fails, everyone will think that values in
Lattimore are unstable and fictitious, and so many people will try to
sell out that we shall have a smashing of values, and possibly a panic.
Prices will drop, so that none of our mortgages will be good for their
face. Thousands of people will be broken, the city will be ruined, and
there will be hard and distressful times, both here and where our paper
is held. But if we can keep things as they are until we can do some
large things we have in view, we are not afraid of anything serious
happening. So we form this new corporation, and have it advance the
funds on the notes, so as not to weaken the trust companyand because
we can't afford to do it otherwiseand we know you would not permit it
anyhow; and we ask you to give to the new corporation all the property
which the creditors could reach, which will be held, and sold as
opportunity offers, so as to make the loss as small as possible. But we
must keep off this panic to save ourselves.
I must think about this, said Josie. I don't see any way out of
it; but to have one's affairs so wrapped up in such a great tangle that
one loses control of them seems wrong, somehow. And so far as I am
concerned, I think I should prefer to turn everything over to the
creditorshouse and allthan to have even so good friends as yourself
take on such a load for us. It seems as if we were saying to you, 'Pay
our debts or we'll ruin you!' I must think about it.
You understand it now? said Jim.
Yes, in a way.
Let me come over this evening, said he, and I think I can remove
this feeling from your mind. And by the way, the new corporation is not
going to have the ranch out on the Cheyenne Range. The syndicate says
it isn't worth anything. And I'm going to take it. I still believe in
the headwaters of Bitter Creek as an art country.
Thank you, said she vaguely.
Somehow, the explanation of the estate affairs seemed to hurt her.
Her color was still high, but her eyes were suffused, her voice grew
choked at times, and she showed the distress of her recent trials, in
something like a loss of self-control. Her pretty head and slender
figure, the flexile white hands clasped together in nervous strain to
discuss these so vital matters, and, more than all, the departure from
her habitual cool and self-possessed manner, was touching, and appealed
powerfully to Jim. He walked up to her, as she stood ready to leave,
and laid his hand lightly on her arm.
The way Barslow puts these property matters, said he, you are
called upon to think that all arrangements have been made upon a cold
cash basis; and, actually, that's the fact. But you mustn't either of
you think that in dealing with you we have forgotten that you are dear
to usfriends. We should have had to act in the same way if you had
been enemies, perhaps, but if there had been any way in which
ourregard could have shown itself, that way would have been
Yes, said Mrs. Trescott, we understand that. Mr. Lattimore said
almost the same thing, and we know that in what he did Mr. Cornish
We must go now, mamma, said Josie. Thank you both very much. It
won't do any harm for me to take a day or so for considering this in
all its phases; but I know now what I shall do. The thought of the
distress that might come to people here and elsewhere as a result of
these mistakes here is a new one, and a little big for me, at first.
Jim sat by the desk, after they went away, folding insurance
blotters and savagely tearing them in pieces.
I wish to God, said he, that I could throw my hand into the deck
What's the matter? said I.
Ohnothing, he returned. Only, look at the situation. She comes
in, filled with the idea that it was Cornish who proposed this plan,
and that he did it for her sake. I couldn't very well say, like a boy,
''Twasn't Cornish; 'twas me!', could I? And in showing her the purely
mercenary character of the deal, I'm put in the position of backcapping
Cornish, and she goes away with that impression! Oh, Al, what's the
good of being able to convince and control every one else, if you are
always further off than Kamschatka with the only one for whose feelings
you really care?
I don't think it struck her in that way at all, said I. She could
see how it was, and did, whatever her mother may think. But what
possessed Lattimore to tell Mrs. Trescott that Cornish story?
Oh, Lattimore never said anything like that! he returned
disgustedly. He told her that it was proposed by a friend, or one of
the syndicate, or something like that; and they are so saturated with
the Cornish idea up there lately, that they filled up the blank out of
their own minds. Another mighty encouraging symptom, isn't it?
Not more than a day or two after this, and after the news of the
purchase of the Trescott estate was being whispered about, my
telephone rang, just before my time for leaving the office, and, on
answering, I found that Antonia was at the other end of the wire.
Is this Mr. Barslow? said she. How do you do? Alice is with us
this afternoon, and she and mamma have given me authority to bring you
home to dinner with us. Do you surrender?
Always, said I, at such a summons.
Then I'll come for you in ten minutes, if you'll wait for me. It's
ever so good of you.
From her way of finishing the conversation, I knew she was coming to
the office. So I waited in pleasurable anticipation of her coming,
thinking of the perversity of the scheme of things which turned the
eyes of both Jim and Cornish to Josie, while this girl coming to fetch
me yearned so strongly toward one of them that her sorrowborne
lightly and cheerfully as it waswas an open secret. When she came she
made her way past the clerks in the first room and into my private den.
Not until the door closed behind her, and we were alone, did I see that
she was not in her usual spirits. Then I saw that unmistakable quiver
in her lips, so like a smile, so far from mirth, which my acquaintance
with the girl, so sensitive and free from secretiveness, had made me
I want to know about some things, said she, that papa hints about
in a blind sort of a way, but doesn't tell clearly. Is it true that
Josie and her mother are poor?
That is something which ought not to be known yet, said I, but it
Oh, said she tearfully, I am so sorry, so sorry!
Antonia, said I, as she hastily brushed her eyes, these tears do
your kind heart credit!
Oh, don't, don't talk to me like that! she exclaimed passionately.
My kind heart! Why, sometimes I hate her; and I would be glad if she
was out of the world! Don't look like that at me! And don't pretend to
be surprised, or say you don't understand me. I think every one
understands me, and has for a long time. I think everybody on the
street says, after I pass, 'Poor Antonia!' I must talk to
somebody! And I'd rather talk to you because, even though you are a man
and can't possibly know how I feel, you understand him better
than any one else I knowand you love him too!
I started to say something, but the situation did not lend itself to
words. Neither could I pat her on the shoulders, or press her hand, as
I might have done with a man. Pale and beautiful, her jaunty hat a
little awry, her blonde ringlets in some disorder, she sat
unapproachable in her grief.
You look at me, said she, with a little gasping laugh, as if I
were a drowning girl, and you chained to the bank. If you haven't
pitied me in the past, Albert, don't pity me now; for the mere saying
openly to some human being that I love him seems almost to make me
I lamely murmured some inanity, of which she took not the slightest
Is it true, she asked, that Mr. Elkins is to pay their debts, and
that they are to bemarried?
No, said I, glad, for some reason which is not very clear, to find
something to deny. Nothing of the sort, I assure you.
And again, this time something wearily, for it was the second time
over it in so short a time, I explained the disposition of the Trescott
But he urged it? she said. He insisted upon it?
She arose, buttoned her jacket about her, and stood quietly as if to
test her mastery of herself, once or twice moving as if to speak, but
stopping short, with a long, quivering sigh. I longed to take her in my
arms and comfort her; for, in a way, she attracted me strongly.
Mr. Barslow, said she at last, I have no apology to make to you;
for you are my friend. And I have no feeling toward Mr. Elkins of
which, in my secret heart, and so long as he knows nothing of it, I am
not proud. To know him ... and love him may be death ... but it is
honor!... I am sorry Josie is poor, because it is a hard thing for her;
but more because I know he will be drawn to her in a stronger way by
her poverty. Shake hands with me, Albert, and be jolly, I'm jollier,
away down deep, than I've been for a long, long time; and I thank you
We shook hands warmly, like comrades, and passed down to her
carriage together. At dinner she was vivacious as ever; but I was
downcast. So much so that Mrs. Hinckley devoted herself to me, cheering
me with a dissertation on Sex in Mind. I asked myself if the
atmosphere in which she had been reared had not in some degree
contributed to the attitude of Antonia toward the expression to me of
her regard for Jim.
So the Trescott estate matter was arranged. In a few days the boom
was strengthened by newspaper stories of the purchase, by heavy
financial interests, of the entire list of assets in the hands of the
This immense deal, said the Herald, is new proof of the
desirability of Lattimore property. The Acme Investment Company, which
will handle the properties, has bought for investment, and will hold
for increased prices. It may be taken as certain that in no other city
in the country could so large and varied a list of holdings be so
quickly and advantageously realized upon.
This was cheeringto the masses. But to us it was like praise for
the high color of a fever patient. Even while the rehabilitated
Giddings thus lifted his voice in pæans of rejoicing, the lurid signals
of danger appeared in our sky.
CHAPTER XXI. Of Conflicts, Within
I have often wished that some sort of a business weather-chart might
be periodically got out, showing conditions all over the world. It
seems to me that with such a map one could forecast financial storms
and squalls with an accuracy quite up to the weather-bureau standard.
Had we at Lattimore been provided with such a chart, and been
reminded of the wisdom of referring to it occasionally, we might have
saved ourselves some surprises. We should have known of certain areas
of speculative high pressure in Australasia, Argentina, and South
Africa, which existed even prior to my meeting with Jim that day in the
Pullman smoking-room coming out of Chicago. These we should have seen
changing month by month, until at the time when we were most gloriously
carrying things before us in Lattimore, each of these spots on the
other side of the little old world showed financial
disturbancespronounced lows. We should have seen symptoms of storm
on the European bourses; and we should have thought of the natural
progress of the moving areas, and derived much benefit from such
consideration. We should certainly have paid some attention to it, if
we could have seen the black isobars drawn about London, when the great
banking house of Fleischmann Brothers went down in the wreck of their
South African and Argentine investments. But having no such chart, and
being much engrossed in the game against the World and Destiny, we
glanced for a moment at the dispatches, seeing nothing in them of
interest to us, congratulated ourselves that we were not as other
investors and speculators, and played on.
Once in a while we found some over-cautious banker or broker who had
inexplicable fears for the future.
Here is an idiot, said Cornish, while we were placing the paper to
float the Trescott deal, who is calling his loans; and why, do you
Can't guess, said Jim, unless he needs the money. How does he
account for it?
Read his letter, said Cornish. Says the Fleischmann failure in
London is making his directors cautious. I'm calling his attention to
the now prevailing sun-spots, as bearing on Lattimore property.
Mr. Elkins read the letter carefully, turned it over, and read it
Don't, said he; he may be one of those asses who fail to see the
business value of the reductio ad absurdum.... Fellows, we must
push this L. &G. W. business with Pendleton. Some of us ought to be
down there now.
That is wise counsel, I agreed, and you're the man.
No, said he positively, I'm not the man. Cornish, can't you go,
starting, say, to-morrow?
No indeed, said Cornish with equal positiveness; since my
turn-down by Wade on that bond deal, I'm out of touch with the lower
Broadway and Wall Street element. It seems clear to me that you are the
only one to carry this negotiation forward.
I can't go, absolutely, insisted Jim. Al, it seems to be up to
I knew that Jim ought to do this work, and could not understand the
reasons for both himself and Cornish declining the mission. Privately,
I told him that it was nonsense to send me; but he found reasons in
plenty for the course he had determined upon. He had better control of
the hot air, he said, but as a matter of fact I was more in Pendleton's
class than he was, I was more careful in my statements, and I saw
further into men's minds.
And if, as you say, said he, Pendleton thinks me the whole works
here, it will show a self-possession and freedom from anxiety on our
part to accredit a subordinate (as you call yourself) as envoy to the
court of St. Scads. Again, affairs here are likely to need me at any
time; and if we go wrong here, it's all off. I don't dare leave.
Anyhow, down deep in your subconsciousness, you know that in diplomacy
you really have us all beaten to a pulp: and this is a matter as purely
diplomatic as draw-poker. You'll do all right.
My wife was skeptical as to the necessity of my going.
Why doesn't Mr. Cornish go, then? she inquired, after I had
explained to her the position of Mr. Elkins. He is a native of Wall
Street, I believe.
Well, I repeated, they both say positively that they can't go.
Your natural specialty may be diplomacy, said she pityingly, but
if you take the reasons they give as the real ones, I must be permitted
to doubt it. It's perfectly obvious that if Josie were transferred to
New York, the demands of business would take them both there at once.
This remark struck me as very subtle, and as having a good deal in
it. Josie had never permitted the rivalry between Jim and Cornish to
become publicly apparent; but in spite of the mourning which kept the
Trescott's in semi-retirement, it was daily growing more keen. Elkins
was plainly anxious at the progress Cornish had seemed to make during
his last long absence, and still doubtful of his relations with Josie
after that utterance over her father's body. But he was not one to give
up, and so, whenever she came over for an evening with Alice, Jim was
sure to drop in casually and see us. I believe Alice telephoned him. On
the other hand, Cornish was calling at the Trescott house with
increasing frequency. Mrs. Trescott was decidedly favorable to him,
Alice a pronounced partisan of Elkins; and Josie vibrated between the
two oppositely charged atmospheres, calmly non-committal, and
apparently pleased with both. But the affair was affecting our
relations. There was a new feeling, still unexpressed, of strain and
stress, in spite of the familiarity and comradeship of long and
intimate intercourse. Moreover, I felt that Mr. Hinckley was not on the
same terms with Jim as formerly, and I wondered if he was possessed of
It was with a prevision of something out of the ordinary, therefore,
that I received through Alice a request from Josie for a private
interview with me. She would come to us at any time when I would
telephone that I was at home and would see her. Of course I at once
decided I would go to her. Which, that evening, my last in Lattimore
before starting for the East, I did.
There was a side door to my house, and a corresponding one in the
Trescott home across the street. We were all quite in the habit, in our
constant visiting between the households, of making a short cut by
crossing the road from one of these doors to the other. This I did that
evening, rapped at the door, and imagining I heard a voice bid me come
in, opened it, and stepping into the library, found no one. The door
between the library and the front hall stood open, and through it I
heard the voice of Miss Trescott and the clear, carrying tones of Mr.
Cornish, in low but earnest conversation.
Yes, I heard him say, perhaps. And if I am, haven't I abundant
I have told you often, said she pleadingly, that I would give you
a definite answer whenever you definitely demand it
And that it would in that case be 'No,' he added, completing the
sentence. Oh, Josie, my darling, haven't you punished me enough for my
bad conduct toward you in that old time? I was a young fool, and you a
strange country girl; but as soon as you left us, I began to feel your
sweetness. And I was seeking for you everywhere I went until I found
you that night up there by the lake. Does that seem like slighting you?
Why, I hope you don't deem me capable of being satisfied in this hole
Lattimore, under any circumstances, if it hadn't been for the hope and
comfort your being here has given me!
I thought we were to say no more about that old time, said she; I
thought the doings of Johnny Cornish were not to be remembered by or of
The name I've asked you to call me by! said he passionately. Does
It means nothing, said she. Oh, please, please!Good-night!
I retired to the porch, and rapped again. She came to the door
blushing redly, and so fluttered by their leave-taking that I thanked
God that Jim was not in my place. There would have been division in our
ranks at once; for it seemed to me that her conduct to Cornish was too
complaisant by far.
I came over, said I, because Alice said you wanted to see me.
I think there must have been in my tone something of the reproach in
my thoughts; for she timidly said she was sorry to have given me so
Oh, don't, Josie! said I. You know I'd not miss the chance of
doing you a favor for anything. Tell me what it is, my dear girl, and
don't speak of trouble.
If you forbid reference to trouble, said she, smiling, it will
stop this conference. For my troubles are what I want to talk to you
about. May I go on?You see, our financial condition is awfully queer.
Mamma has some money, but not much. And we have this big house. It's
absurd for us to live in it, and I want to ask you first, can you sell
it for us?
It was doubtful, I told her. A year or so ago, I went on, it would
have been easy; but somehow the market for fine houses was dull now. We
would try, though, and hoped to succeed. We talked at length, and I
took copious memoranda for my clerks.
There is another thing, said she when we had finished the subject
of the house, upon which I want light, something upon which depends my
staying here or going away. You know General Lattimore and I are
friends, and that I place great trust in his conclusions. He says that
the most terrible hard times here would result from anything happening
to your syndicate. You have said almost the same thing once or twice,
and the other day you said something about great operations which you
have in view which will, somehow, do away with any danger of that kind.
Is it true that you would all beruined by abreaking upor anything
of that sort?
Just now, I confessed, such a thing would be dangerous; but I
hope we shall soon be past all that.
I told her, as well as I could, about our hopes, and of my mission
to New York.
You must suspect, said she, that my presence here is danger to
your harmony; and through you, to all these people whose names even we
have never heard. Shall I go away? I can go almost anywhere with mamma,
and we can get along nicely. Now that pa is gone, my work here is over,
and I want to get into the world.
I thought of the parallelism between her discontent and the speech
Mr. Cornish had made, referring so contemptuously to Lattimore. I began
to see the many things in common between them, and I grew anxious for
Of all things, said she, I want to avoid the rôle of Helen
setting a city in flames. It would be so absurdand so terrible; and
rather than do such a hackneyed and harmful thing, I want to go away.
Do you really mean that? I asked, Haven't you a desire to make
your choice, and stay?
You mustn't ask that question, Albert, said she. The answer is a
secretfrom every one. But I will saythat if you succeed in this
mission, so as to put people here quite out of dangerI may not go
awaynot for some time!
She was blushing again, just as she blushed when she admitted me. I
thought once more of the fluttering cry, Oh, pleaseplease! and the
pause before she added the good-night, and my jealousy for Jim rose
Well, said I, rising, all I can say is that I hope all will be
safe when I return, and that you will find it quite possible
toremain. My advice is: do nothing looking toward leaving until I
Don't be cross with me, Mr. Barslow, said she, for really,
reallyI am in great perplexity.
I am not cross, said I, but don't you see how hard it is for me
to advise? Things conflict so, and all among your friends!
They do conflict, she assented, they do conflict, every way, and
all the timeand do, do give me a little credit for keeping the
conflict from getting beyond control for so long; for there are
conflicts within, as well as without! Don't blame Helen altogether, or
me, whatever happens!
She hung on my arm, as she took me to the door, and seemed deeply
troubled. I left her, and walked several times around the block,
ruminating upon the extraordinary way in which these dissolving views
of passion were displaying themselves to me. Not that the mere matter
of outburst of confidences surprised me; for people all my life have
bored me with their secret woes. I think it is because I early formed a
habit of looking sympathetic. But these concerned me so nearly that
their gradual focussing to some sort of climax filled me with anxious
The next day I spent in the sleeping-car, running into Chicago. As
the clickety-clack, clickety-clack, clickety-clack
of the wheels vibrated through my couch, I pondered on the ridiculous
position of that cautious Eastern bank as to the Fleischmann Brothers'
failure; then on the Lattimore &Great Western and Belt Line sale; and
finally worked around through the Straits of Sunda, in a suspicious
lateen-rigged craft manned by Malays and Portuguese. Finally, I was
horrified at discovering Cornish, in a slashed doublet, carrying Josie
away in one of the boats, having scuttled the vessel and left Jim bound
to the mast.
Chicago in fifteen minutes, suh, said the porter, at this critical
point. Just in time to dress, suh.
And as I awoke, my approach toward New York brought to me a
sickening consciousness of the struggle which awaited me there, and the
fatal results of failure.
CHAPTER XXII. In which I Win my
My plan was our old oneto see both Pendleton and Halliday, and, if
possible, to allow both to know of the fact that we had two strings to
our bow, playing the one off against the other. Whether or not there
was any likelihood of this course doing any good was dependent on the
existence of the strained personal relations, as well as the business
rivalry, generally supposed to prevail between the two Titans of the
highways. As conditions have since become, plans like mine are quite
sure to come to naught; but in those days the community of interests in
the railway world had not reached its present perfection of
organization. Men like Pendleton and Halliday were preparing the way
for it, but the personal equation was then a powerful factor in the
problem, and these builders of their own systems still carried on their
private wars with their own forces. In such a war our properties were
The Lattimore &Great Western with the Belt Line terminals would make
the Pendleton system dominant in Lattimore. In the possession of
Halliday it would render him the arbiter of the city's fortunes, and
would cut off from his rival's lines the rich business from this
feeder. Both men were playing with the patience of Muscovite diplomacy
the old and tried game of permitting the little road to run until it
got into difficulties, and then swooping down upon it; but either, we
thought, and especially Pendleton, would pay full value for the
properties rather than see them fall into his opponent's net.
I wired Pendleton's office from home that I was coming. At Chicago I
received from his private secretary a telegram reading: Mr. Pendleton
will see you at any time after the 9th inst. SMITH.
We had been having some correspondence with Mr. Halliday's office on
matters of disputed switching and trackage dues. The controversy had
gone up from subordinate to subordinate to the fountain of power
itself. A contract had been sent on for examination, embodying a
modus vivendi governing future relations. I had wired notice of my
coming to him also, and his answer, which lay alongside Pendleton's in
the same box, was evidently based on the supposition that it was this
contract which was bringing me East, and was worded so as to relieve me
of the journey if possible.
Will be in New York on evening of 11th, it read, not before. With
slight modifications, contract submitted as to L. &G. W. and Belt Line
matter will be executed. HALLIDAY.
I spent no time in Chicago, but pushed on, in the respectable
isolation of a through sleeper on a limited train. Once in a while I
went forward into the day coach, to give myself the experience of the
complete change in the social atmosphere. On arrival, I began killing
time by running down every scrap of our business in New York. My gorge
rose at all forms of amusement; but I had a sensation of doing
something while on the cars, and went to Boston, and down to
Philadelphia, all the time feeling the pulse of business. There was a
lack of that confident hopefulness which greeted us on our former
visits. I heard the Fleischmann failure spoken of rather frequently.
One or two financial establishments on this side of the water were
looked at askance because of their supposed connections with the
Fleischmanns. Mr. Wade, in hushed tones, advised me to prepare for some
little stringency after the holidays.
Nothing serious, you know, Mr. Borlish, said he, still paying his
mnemonic tribute to the other names of our syndicate; nothing to be
spoken of as hard times; and as for panic, the financial world is too
well organized for that ever to happen again! But a little
tightening of things, Mr. Cornings, to sort of clear the decks for
action on lines of conservatism for the year's business.
I talked with Mr. Smith, Mr. Pendleton's private secretary, and with
Mr. Carson, who spoke for Mr. Halliday. In fact I went over the L. &G.
W. proposition pretty fully with each of them, and each office had a
well-digested and succinct statement of the matter for the examination
of the magnates when they came back. Once while Mr. Carson and I were
on our way to take luncheon together, we met Mr. Smith, and I was glad
to note the glance of marked interest which he bestowed upon us. The
meeting was a piece of unexpected good fortune.
On the 10th I had my audience with Mr. Pendleton. He had the
typewritten statement of the proposition before him, and was ready to
discuss it with his usual incisiveness.
I am willing to say to you, Mr. Barslow, said he, that we are
willing to take over your line when the propitious time comes. We don't
think that now is such a time. Why not run along as we are?
Because we are not satisfied with the railroad business as a side
line, Mr. Pendleton, said I. We must have more mileage or none at
all, and if we begin extensions, we shall be drawn into railroading as
an exclusive vocation. We prefer to close out that department, and to
put in all our energies to the development of our city.
When must you know about this? he asked.
I came East to close it up, if possible, I answered. You are
familiar with the situation, and we thought must be ready to decide.
Two and a quarter millions, he objected, is out of the question.
I can't expect my directors to view half the price with any favor. How
Show them our earnings, I suggested.
Yes, said he, that will do very well to talk to people who can be
made to forget the fact that you've been building a city there from a
country village, and your line has been pulling in everything to build
it with. The next five years will be different. Again, while I feel
sure the business men of your town will still throw things our way, as
they have your waytonnage I meanthere might be a tendency to divide
it up more than when your own people were working for the trade. And
the next five years will be different anyhow.
Do you remember, said I, how skeptical you were as to the past
I acknowledge it, said he, laughing. The fact is I didn't give
you credit for being as big men as you are. But even a big man, or a
big town, can reach only as high as it can. But we can't settle that
question. I shouldn't expect a Lattimore boomer ever to adopt my view
of it. I shall give this matter some attention to-day, and while I feel
sure we are too far apart ever to come together, come in in the
morning, and we will look at it again.
I hope we may come together, said I, rising; we built the line to
bring you into Lattimore, and we want to keep you there. It has made
our town, and we prize the connection highly.
Ah, yes, he answered, countering. Well, we are spread out a good
deal now, you know; and some of our directors look with suspicion upon
your sudden growth, and would not feel sorry to withdraw. I don't agree
with 'em, you know, but I must defer to others sometimes.
I passed the evening with Carson at the theatre, and supped with him
afterward. He gave me every opportunity to indulge in champagne, and
evinced a desire to know all about business conditions in Lattimore,
and the affairs of the L. &G. W. I suspected that the former fact had
some connection with the latter. I went to my hotel, however, in my
usual state of ebriety, while Mr. Carson had attained a degree of
friendliness toward me bordering on affection, as a direct result of
setting the pace in the consumption of wine. I listened patiently to
his complaints of Halliday's ungratefulness toward him in not giving
him the General Managership of one of the associated roads; but when he
began to confide to me the various pathological conditions of his
family, including Mrs. Carson, I drew the line, and broke up the party.
I retired, feeling a little resentful toward Carson. His device seemed
rather cheap to try on a full-grown man. Yet his entertainment had been
Next morning I was admitted to the presence of the great man with
less than half an hour's delay. He turned to me, and plunged at once
into the midst of the subject. Evidently some old misunderstanding of
the question came up in his mind by association of ideas, as a rejected
paper will be drawn with its related files from a pigeon-hole.
That terminal charge, said he, has not counted for much against
the success of your road, yet; but the contract provides for increasing
rentals, and it is already too much. The trackage and depots aren't
worth it. It will be a millstone about your necks!
Well, said I, you can understand the reason for making the
rentals high. We had to show revenue for the Belt Line system in order
to float the bonds, but the rentals become of no consequence when once
you own both propertiesand that's our proposal to you.
Oh, yes! said he, and at once changed the subject.
This was the only instance, in all my observation of him, in which
he forgot anything, or failed correctly to see the very core of the
situation. I felt somehow elated at being for a moment his superior in
We began discussing rates and tonnage, and he sent for his freight
expert again. I took from my pocket some letters and telegrams and made
computations on the backs of them. Some of these figures he wanted to
keep for further reference.
Please let me have those figures until this afternoon, said he. I
must ask you to excuse me now. At two I'll give the matter another
half-hour. Come back, Mr. Barslow, prepared to name a reasonable sum,
and I will accept or reject, and finish the matter.
I left the envelopes on his desk and went out. At the hotel I sat
down to think out my program and began arranging things for my
departure. Was it the 11th or the 12th that Mr. Halliday was to return?
I would look at his message. I turned over all my telegrams, but it was
Then I thought. That was the telegram I had left with Pendleton!
Would he suspect that I had left it as a trick, and resent the act? No,
this was scarcely likely, for he himself had asked for it. Suddenly the
construction of which it was susceptible flashed into my mind. With
slight modifications contract submitted as to L. &G. W. and Belt Line
matter will be executed. HALLIDAY.
I was feverish until two o'clock; for I could not guess the effect
of this telegram, should it be read by Pendleton. I found him impassive
and keen-eyed, and I waited longer than usual for that aquiline swoop
of his, as he turned in his revolving chair. I felt sure then that he
had not read the message. I think differently now.
Well, Mr. Barslow, said he smilingly, how far down in the
millions are we to-day?
Mr. Pendleton, I replied, steady as to tone, but with a quiver in
my legs, I can say nothing less than an even two millions.
It's too much, said he cheerfully, and my heart sank, but I like
Lattimore, and you men who live there, and I want to stay in the town.
I'll have the legal department prepare a contract covering the whole
matter of transfers and future relations, and providing for the price
you mention. You can submit it to your people, and in a short time I
shall be in Chicago, and, if convenient to you, we can meet there and
close the transaction. As a matter of form, I shall submit it to our
directors; but you may consider it settled, I think.
One of our number, said I, as calmly as if a two-million-dollar
transaction were common at Lattimore, can meet you in Chicago at any
time. When will this contract be drawn?
Call to-morrow morningsay at ten. Show them in, this last to his
clerk, Good-morning, Mr. Barslow.
One doesn't get as hilarious over a victory won alone as when he
goes over the ramparts touching elbows with his charging fellows. The
hurrah is a collective interjection. So I went in a sober frame of mind
and telegraphed Jim and Alice of my success, cautioning my wife to say
nothing about it. Then I wandered about New York, contrasting my way of
rejoicing with the demonstration when we three had financed the
Lattimore &Great Western bonds. I went to a vaudeville show and
afterward walked miles and miles through the mysteries of the night in
that wilderness. I was unutterably alone. The strain of my solitary
mission in the great city was telling upon me.
Telegram for you, Mr. Barslow, said the night clerk, as I applied
for my key.
It was a long message from Jim, and in cipher. I slowly deciphered
it, my initial anxiety growing, as I progressed, to an agony.
Come home at once, it read. Cornish deserting. Must take care of
the hound's interest somehow. Threatens litigation. A hold-up, but he
has the drop. Am in doubt whether to shoot him now or later. Stop at
Chicago, and bring Harper. Bring him, understand? Unless Pendleton deal
is made, this means worse things than we ever dreamed of; but don't
wait. Leave Pendleton for later, and come home. If I follow my
inclinations, you will find me in jail for murder. ELKINS.
All night I sat, turning this over in my mind. Was it ruin, or would
my success here carry us through? Without a moment's sleep I ate my
breakfast, braced myself with coffee, engaged a berth for the return
journey, and promptly presented myself at Pendleton's office at ten.
Wearily we went over the precious contract, and I took my copy and
All that day I rode in a sort of trance, in which I could see before
my eyes the forms of the hosts of those whom Jim had called the
captives below decks, whose fortunes were dependent upon whether we
striving, foolish, scheming, passionate men went to the wall. A hundred
times I read in Jim's telegram the acuteness of our crisis; and a sense
of our danger swept dauntingly over my spirit. A hundred times I wished
that I might awake and find that the whole thingAladdin and his ring,
the palaces, gnomes, genies, and allcould pass away like a tale that
is told, and leave me back in the rusty little town where it found me.
I slept heavily that night, and was very much much more myself when
I went to see Harper in Chicago. He had received a message from Jim,
and was ready to go. He also had one for me, sent in his care, and just
You have saved the fight, said the message; your success came
just as they were counting nine on us. With what you have done we can
beat the game yet. Bring Harper, and come on.
Harper, cool and collected, big and blonde, with a
hail-fellow-well-met manner which spoke eloquently of the West, was a
great comfort to me. He made light of the trouble.
Cornish is no fool, said he, and he isn't going to saw off the
limb he stands on.
I tried to take this view of it; but I knew, as he did not, the real
source of the enmity between Elkins and Cornish, and my fears returned.
Business differences might be smoothed over; but with two such men, the
quarrel of rivals in love meant nothing but the end of things between
CHAPTER XXIII. The Dutchman's Mill
and What It Ground.
We sat in conclave about the table. I saw by the lined faces of
Elkins and Hinckley that I had come back to a closely-beleaguered camp,
where heavy watching had robbed the couch of sleep, and care pressed
down the spirit. I had returned successful, but not to receive a
triumph: rather, Harper and myself constituted a relief force, thrown
in by stratagem, too weak to raise the siege, but bearing glad tidings
of strong succor on the way.
It was our first full meeting without Cornish; and Harper sat in his
place. He was unruffled and buoyant in manner, in spite of the stock in
the Grain Belt Trust Company which he held, and the loans placed with
his insurance company by Mr. Hinckley.
I believe, said he, that we are here to consider a communication
from Mr. Cornish. It seems that we ought to hear the letter.
I'll read it in a minute, said Jim, but first let me say that
this grows out of a talk between Mr. Cornish and myself. Hinckley and
Barslow know that there have been differences between us here for some
Quite natural, said Harper; according to all the
experience-tables, you ought to have had a fight somewhere in the crowd
long before this.
Mr. Cornish, went on Mr. Elkins, has favored the policy of
converting our holdings into cash, and letting the obligations we have
floated stand solely on the assets by which they are secured. The rest
of us have foreseen such rapid liquidation, as a certain result of such
a policy, that not only would our town receive a blow from which it
could never recover, but the investment world would suffer in the
I should say so, said Harper; we'll have to look closely to the
suicide clause in our policies held in New England, if that takes
Well, said Jim, continuing, last Tuesday the matter came to an
issue between us, and some plain talk was indulged in; perhaps the
language was a little strong on my part, and Mr. Cornish considered
himself aggrieved, and said, among other things, that he, for one,
would not submit to extinguishment, and he would show me that I could
not go on in opposition to his wishes.
What did you say to that? asked Hinckley.
I informed him, said Jim, that I was from Missouri, or words to
that effect; and that my own impression was, the majority of the stock
in our concerns would control. My present view is that he's showing
A ghost of a smile went round at this, and Jim began reading
Events of the recent past convince me, the secessionist had
written, that no good can come from the further continuance of our
syndicate. I therefore propose to sell all my interest in our various
properties to the other members, and to retire. Should you care to
consider such a thing, I am prepared to make you an alternative offer,
to buy your interests. As the purchase of three shares by one is a
heavier load than the taking over of one share by three, I should
expect to buy at a lower proportional price than I should be willing to
sell for. As the management of our enterprises seems to have abandoned
the tried principles of business, for some considerations the precise
nature of which I am not acute enough to discern, and as a sale to me
would balk the very benevolent purposes recently avowed by you, I
assume that I shall not be called upon to make an offer.
There is at least one person among those to whom this is addressed
who knows that in beginning our operations in Lattimore it was
understood that we should so manage affairs as to promote and take
advantage of a bulge in values, and then pull out with a profit. Just
what may be his policy when this reaches him I cannot, after my
experience with his ability as a lightning change artist, venture to
predict; but my last information leads me to believe that he is
championing the utopian plan of running the business, not only past the
bulge, but into the slump. I, for one, will not permit my fortune to be
jeopardized by so palpable a piece of perfidy.
I may be allowed to add that I am prepared to take such measures as
may seem to my legal advisers best to protect my interests. I am
assured that the funds of one corporation will not be permitted by the
courts to be donated to the bolstering up of another, over the protest
of a minority stockholder. You may confidently assume that this advice
will be tested to the utmost before the acts now threatened are
permitted to be actually done.
I attach hereto a schedule of our holdings, with the amount of my
interest in each, and the price I will take. I trust that I may have an
answer to this at your earliest convenience. I beg to add that any
great delay in answering will be taken by me as a refusal on your part
to do anything, and I shall act accordingly.
J. Bedford Cornish.
Huh! ejaculated Harper, would he do it, d'ye think?
He's a very resolute man, said Hinckley.
He calculates, said Jim, that if he begins operations, he can
have receiverships and things of that kind in his interest, and in that
way swipe the salvage. On the other hand, he must know that his loss
would be proportioned to ours, and would be great. He's sore, and that
counts for something. I figure that the chances are seven out of ten
that he'll do itand that's too strong a game for us to go up
What would be the worst that could happen if he began proceedings?
The worst, answered Jim laconically. I don't say, you know, he
went on after a pause, that Cornish hasn't some reason for his
position. From a cur's standpoint he's entirely right. We didn't
anticipate the big way in which things have worked out here, nor how
deep our roots would strike; and we did intend to cash in when the wave
came. And a cur can't understand our position in the light of these
developments. He can't see that in view of the number of people sucked
down with her when a great ship like ours sinks, nobody but a murderer
would needlessly see her wrecked. What he proposes is to scuttle her.
Sell to him! I'd as soon sell Vassar College to Brigham Young!
This tragic humorousness had the double effect of showing us the
dilemma, and taking the edge off the horror of it.
If it were my case, said Harper, I'd call him. I don't believe
he'll smash things; but you fellows know each other best, and I'm here
to give what aid and comfort I can, and not to direct. I accept your
judgment as to the danger. Now let's do business. I've got to get back
to Chicago by the next train, and I want to go feeling that my stock in
the Grain Belt Trust Company is an asset and not a liability. Let's do
As for going back on the next train, said Mr. Elkins, you've got
another guess coming: this one was wrong. As for doing business, the
first thing in my opinion is to examine the items of this bill of
larceny, and see about scaling them down.
We might be able, said I, to turn over properties instead of
cash, for some of it.
Elkins appointed Harper and Hinckley to do the negotiating with
Cornish. It was clear, he said, that neither he nor I was the proper
person to act. They soon went out on their mission and left me with
Do you see what a snowfall we've had? he asked. It fell deeper
and deeper, until I thought it would never stop. No such sleighing for
years. And funny as it may seem, it was that that brought on this
crisis. Josie and I went sleighing, and the hound was furious. Next
time we met he started this business going.
I was studying the schedule, and said nothing. After a while he
began talking again, in a slow manner, as if the words came lagging
behind a labored train of thought.
Remember the mill the Dutchman had?... Ground salt, and nothing but
salt ... Ours won't grind anything but mortgages ... Well, the hair of
the dog must cure the bite ... Fight fire with fire ... Similia
similibus curantur ... We can't trade horses, nor methods, in the
middle of the ford.... The mill has got to go on grinding mortgages
until we're carried over; and Hinckley and the Grain Belt Trust must
float 'em. Of course the infernal mill ground salt until it sent the
whole shooting-match to the bottom of the sea; but you mustn't be
misled by analogies. The Dutchman hadn't any good old Al to lose
telegrams in an absent-minded way where they would do the most good,
and sell railroads to old man Pendleton ... As for us, it's the
time-worn case of electing between the old sheep and the lamb. We'll
take the adult mutton, and go the whole hog ... And if we lose, the
tail'll have to go with the hide.... But we won't lose, Al, we won't
lose. There isn't treason enough in all the storehouses of hell to balk
or defeat us. It's a question of courage and resolution and confidence,
and imparting all those feelings to every one else. There isn't malice
enough, even if it were a whole pack, instead of one lone hyena, to put
out the fires in those furnaces over there, or stop the wheels in that
flume, or make our streets grow grass. The things we've built are going
to stay built, and the word of Lattimore will stand!
My hand on that! said I.
* * * * *
There was little in the way of higgling: for Cornish proudly refused
much to discuss matters; and when we found what we must pay to prevent
the explosion, it sickened us. Jim strongly urged upon Harper the
taking of Cornish's shares.
No, said Harper, the Frugality and Indemnity is too good a thing
to drop; and I can't carry both. But if you can show me how, within a
short time, you can pay it back, I'll find you the cash you lack.
We could not wait for the two millions from Pendleton; and the
interim must be bridged over by any desperate means. We took, for the
moment only, the funds advanced through Harper; and Cornish took his
The day after Harper went away we were busy all day long, drawing
notes and mortgages. Every unincumbered piece of our property, the
orts, dregs, and offcast of our operations, were made the subjects of
transfers to the rag-tag and bobtail of Lattimore society. A lot worth
little or nothing was conveyed to Tom, Dick, or Harry for a great
nominal price, and a mortgage for from two-thirds to three-fourths of
the sum given back by this straw-man purchaser. Our mill was grinding
I do not expect that any one will say that this course was justified
or justifiable; but, if anything can excuse it, the terrible difficulty
of our position ought to be considered in mitigation, if not excuse.
Pressed upon from without, and wounded by blows dealt in the dark from
within; with dreadful failure threatening, and with brilliant success,
and the averting of wide-spread calamity as the reward of only a little
delay, we used the only expedient at hand, and fought the battle
through. We were caught in the mighty swirl of a modern business
maelstrom, and, with unreasoning reflexes, clutched at man or log
indifferently, as we felt the waters rising over us; and broadcast all
over the East were sown the slips of paper ground out by our mill,
through the spout of the Grain Belt Trust Company; and wherever they
fell they were seized upon by the banks, which had through years of
experience learned to look upon our notes and bonds as good.
Past the bulge, quoted Jim, and into the slump! We'll see what
the whelp says when he finds that, in spite of all his attempts to
scuttle, there isn't going to be any slump!
By which observation it will appear that, as our operations began to
bring in returns in almost their old abundance, our courage rose. At
the very last, some bank failures in New York, and a bad day on 'Change
in Chicago, cut off the stream, and we had to ask Harper to carry over
a part of the Frugality and Indemnity loan until we could settle with
Pendleton; but this was a small matter running into only five figures.
Perhaps it was because we saw only a part of the situation that our
courage rose. We saw things at Lattimore with vivid clearness. But we
failed to see that like centers of stress were sprinkled all over the
map, from ocean to ocean; that in the mountains of the South were the
Lattimores of iron, steel, coal, and the winter-resort boom; and in the
central valleys were other Lattimores like ours; that among the peaks
and canyons further west were the Lattimores of mines; that along the
Pacific were the Lattimores of harbors and deep-water terminals; that
every one of these Lattimores had in the East and in Europe its
clientage of Barr-Smiths, Wickershams, and Dorrs, feeding the flames of
the fever with other people's money; and that in every village and
factory, town and city, where wealth had piled up, seeking investment,
were the captives below decks, who, in the complex machinery of this
end-of-the-century life, were made or marred by the same influences
which made or marred us.
The low area had swept across the seas, and now rested on us. The
clouds were charged with the thunder and lightning of disaster. Almost
any accidental disturbance might precipitate a crash. Had we known all
this, as we now know it, the consciousness of the tragical race we were
running to reach the harbor of a consummated sale to Pendleton might
have paralyzed our efforts. Sometimes one may cross in the dark, on
narrow footing, a chasm the abyss of which, if seen, would dizzily draw
one down to destruction.
CHAPTER XXIV. The Beginning of the
Court parties and court factions are always known to the populace,
even down to the groom and scullions. So the defection of Cornish soon
became a matter of gossip at bars, in stables, and especially about the
desks of real-estate offices. Had it been a matter of armed internecine
strife, the Elkins faction would have mustered an overwhelming
majority; for Jim's bluff democratic ways, and his apparent identity of
fibre with the mass of the people, would have made him a popular idol,
had he been a thousand times a railroad president.
While these rumors of a feud were floating about, Captain Tolliver
went to Jim's office several times, dressed with great care, and sat in
silence, and in stiff and formal dignity, for a matter of five minutes
or so, and then retired, with the suggestion that if there was any way
in which he could serve Mr. Elkins he should be happy.
Do you know, said Jim to me, that I'm afraid Hamlet's 'bugs and
goblins' are troubling Tolliver; in other words, that he's getting
No, said I; while I haven't the slightest idea what ails him,
you'll find that it's something quite natural for him when you get a
full view of his case.
Finally, Jim, in thanking him for his proffered assistance, inquired
diplomatically after the thing which weighed upon the Captain's mind.
I may be mistaken, suh, said he, drawing himself up, and thrusting
one hand into the tightly-buttoned breast of his black Prince Albert,
entiahly mistaken in the premises; but I have the impression that
diffe'ences of a pussonal nature ah in existence between youahself and
a gentleman whose name in this connection I prefuh to leave
unmentioned. Such being the case, I assume that occasion may and
naturally will arise foh the use of a friend, suh, who unde'stands the
codethe code, suhand is not without experience in affaiahs of
honah. I recognize the fact that in cehtain exigencies nothing, by Gad,
but pistols, ovah a measu'ed distance, meets the case. In such an
event, suh, I shall be mo' than happy to suhve you; mo' than happy, by
Captain, said Jim feelingly, you're a good fellow and a true
friend, and I promise you I shall have no other second.
In that promise, replied the Captain gravely, you confeh an
After this it was thought wise to permit the papers to print the
story of Cornish's retirement; otherwise the Captain might have
fomented an insurrection.
The reasons for this step on the part of Mr. Cornish are purely
personal, said the Herald. While retaining his feeling of
interest in Lattimore, his desire to engage in certain broader fields
of promotion and development in the tropics had made it seem to him
necessary to lay down the work here which up to this time he has so
well done. He will still remain a citizen of our city. On the other
hand, while we shall not lose Mr. Cornish, we shall gain the active and
powerful influence of Mr. Charles Harper, the president of the
Frugality and Indemnity Life Insurance Company. It is thus that
Lattimore rises constantly to higher prosperity, and wields greater and
greater power. The remarkable activity lately noted in the local
real-estate market, especially in the sales of unconsidered trifles of
land at high prices, is to be attributed to the strengthening of
conditions by these steps in the ascent of the ladder of progress.
Cornish, however, was not without his partisans. Cecil Barr-Smith
almost quarreled with Antonia because she struck Cornish off her books,
Cecil insisting that he was an entirely decent chap. In this position
Cecil was in accord with the clubmen of the younger sort, who had much
in common with Cornish, and little with the overworked and busy railway
president. Even Giddings, to me, seemed to remain unduly intimate with
Cornish; but this did not affect the utterances of his paper, which
still maintained what he called the policy of boost.
The behavior of Josie, however, was enigmatical. Cornish's
attentions to her redoubled, while Jim seemed dropped out of the
raceand therefore my wife's relations with Miss Trescott were
subjected to a severe strain. Naturally, being a matron, and of the age
of thirty-odd years, she put on some airs with her younger friend,
still in the chrysalis of maidenhood. Sometimes, in a sweet sort of a
way, she almost domineered over her. On this Elkins-Cornish matter,
however, Josie held her at arms' length, and refused to make her
position plain; and Alice nursed that simulated resentment which one
dear friend sometimes feels toward another, because of a real or
imagined breach of the obligations of reciprocity.
One night, as we sat about the grate in the Trescott library, some
veiled insinuations on Alice's part caused a turning of the worm.
If there is anything you want to say, Alice, said Josie, there
seems to be no good reason why you shouldn't speak out. I have asked
your adviceyours and Albert'sfrequently, having really no one else
to trust; and therefore I am willing to hear your reproof, if you have
it for me. What is it?
Oh, Josie, said I, seeking cover. You are too sensitive. There
isn't anything, is there, Alice?
Here I scowled violently, and shook my head at my wife; but all to
Yes, there is, said Alice. We have a dear friend, the best in the
world, and he has an enemy. The whole town is divided in allegiance
between them, about nine on one side to one on the other
Which proves nothing, said Josie.
And now, Alice went on, you, who have had every opportunity of
seeing, and ought to know, that one of them is, in every look, and
thought, and act, a man, while the other is
A friend of mine and of my mother's, said Josie; please omit the
character-sketch. And remember that I refuse even to consider these
business differences. Each claims to be right; and I shall judge them
by other things.
Business differences, indeed! scoffed Alice, albeit a little
impressed by the girl's dignity. As if you did not know what these
differences came from! But it isn't because you remain neutral that we
You complain, Alice, said I; I am distinctly out of this.
That I complain, then, amended Alice reproachfully. It is because
you dismiss the man and keep theother! You may say I have no
right to be heard in this, but I'm going to complain Josie Trescott,
just the same!
This seemed to approach actual conflict, and I was frightened. Had
it been two men, I should have thought nothing of it, but with women
such differences cut deeper than with us. Josie stepped to her
writing-desk and took from it a letter.
We may as well clear this matter up, said she, for it has stood
between us for a long time. I think that Mr. Elkins will not feel that
any confidences are violated by my showing you thisyou who have been
my dearest friends
She stopped for no reason, unless it was agitation.
Are, said I, I hope, not 'have been.'
Well, said she, read the letter, and then tell me who has been
I shrank from reading it; but Alice was determined to know all. It
was dated the day before I left New York.
Dear Josie, it read, I have told you so many times that I love
you that it is an old story to you; yet I must say it once more. Until
that night when we brought your father home, I was never able to
understand why you would never say definitely yes or no to me; but I
felt that you could not be expected to understand my feeling that the
best years of our lives were wastingyou are so much younger than
Iand so I hoped on. Sometimes I feared that somebody else stood in
the way, and do fear it now, but that alone would have been a much
simpler thing, and of that I could not complain. But on that fearful
night you said something which hurt me more than anything else could,
because it was an accusation of which I could not clear myself in the
court of my own conscienceexcept so far as to say that I never
dreamed of doing your father anything but good. Surely, surely you must
Since that time, however, you have been so kind to me that I have
become sure that you see that terrible tragedy as I do, and acquit me
of all blame, except that of blindly setting in motion the machinery
which did the awful deed. This is enough for you to forgive, God knows;
but I have thought lately that you had forgiven it. You have been very
kind and good to me, and your presence and influence have made me look
at things in a different way from that of years ago, and I am now doing
things which ought to be credited to you, so far as they are good. As
for the bad, I must bear the blame myself!
Thus far Alice had read aloud.
Don't, don't, said Josie, hiding her face. Don't read it aloud,
But now I am writing, not to explain anything which has taken
place, but to set me right as to the future. You gave me reason to
think, when we met, that I might have my answer. Things which I cannot
explain have occurred, which may turn out very evilly for me, and for
any one connected with me. Therefore, until this state of things
passes, I shall not see you. I write this, not that I think you will
care much, but that you may not believe that I have changed in my
feelings toward you. If my time ever comes, and I believe it will, and
that before very long, you will find me harder to dispose of without an
answer than I have been in the past. I shall claim you in spite of
every foe that may rise up to keep you from me. You may change, but I
'Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds.'
And mine will not alter. J. R. E.
My dear, said Alice very humbly, I beg your pardon. I have
misjudged you. Will you forgive me?
Josie came to take her letter, and, in lieu of other answer, stood
with her arm about Alice's waist.
And now, said Alice, have you no other confidences for us?
No! she cried, no! there is nothing more! Nothing, absolutely
nothing, believe me! But, now, confidence for confidence, Albert, what
is this great danger? Is it anything for which any one herefor which
I am to blame? Does it threaten any one else? Can't something be done
about it? Tell me, tell me!
I think, said I, that the letter was written before my telegram
from New York came, and aftersome great difficulties came upon us. I
don't believe he would have written it five hours later; and I don't
believe he would have written it to any one in anything but the
depression ofthe feeling he has for you.
If that is true, said she, why does he still avoid me? Why does
he still avoid me? You have not told me all; or there is something you
do not know.
As we went home, Alice kept referring to Jim's letter, and was as
much troubled by it as was Josie.
How do you explain it? she asked.
I explain it, said I, by ranging it with the well-known
phenomenon of the love-sick youth of all lands and in every time, who
revels in the thought of incurring danger or death, and heralding the
fact to his loved one. Even Jim is not exempt from the feelings of the
boy who rejoices in delicious tears at the thought of being found cold
and dead on the doorstep of the cruel maiden of his dreams. And that
letter, with a slight substratum of fact, is the result. Don't bother
about it for a moment.
This answer may not have been completely frank, or quite expressive
of my views; but I was tired of the subject. It was hardly a time to
play with mammets or to tilt with lips, and it seemed that the matter
might wait. There was a good deal of the pettishness of nervousness
among us at that time, and I had my full share of it. Insomnia was
prevalent, and gray hairs increased and multiplied. The time was
drawing near for our meeting with Pendleton in Chicago. We had advices
that he was coming in from the West, on his return from a long journey
of inspection, and would pass over his Pacific Division. We asked him
to run down to Lattimore over our road, but Smith answered that the
running schedule could not be altered.
There seemed to be no reason for doubting that the proposed contract
would be ratified; for the last desperate rally on our part appeared to
have put a crash out of the question, for some time at least. To him
that hath shall be given; and so long as we were supposed to possess
power, we felt that we were safe. Yet the blow dealt by Cornish had
maimed us, no matter how well we hid our hurt; and we were all too
keenly conscious of the law of the hunt, by which it is the wounded
buffalo which is singled out and dragged down by the wolves.
On Wednesday Jim and I were to start for Chicago, where Mr.
Pendleton would be found awaiting us. On Sunday the weather, which had
been cold and snowy for weeks, changed; and it blew from the southeast,
raw and chill, but thawy. All day Monday the warmth increased; and the
farmers coming into town reported great ponds of water dammed up in the
swales and hollows against the enormous snow-drifts. Another warm day,
and these waters would break through, and the streams would go free in
freshets. Tuesday dawned without a trace of frost, and still the strong
warm wind blew; but now it was from the east, and as I left the
carriage to enter my office I was wet by a scattering fall of rain. In
a few moments, as I dictated my morning's letters, my stenographer
called attention to the beating on the window of a strong and
Elkins, too much engrossed in his thoughts to be able to confine
himself to the details of his business, came into my office, where,
sometimes sitting and sometimes walking uneasily about, he seemed to
get some sort of comfort from my presence. He watched the rain, as one
By morning, said he, there ought to be ducks in Alderson's pond.
Can't we do our chores early and get into the blind before daylight,
and lay for 'em?
I heard Canada geese honking overhead last night, said I.
What time last night?
Well, that lets us out on the Alderson's pond project, said he;
the boys who hunted there weren't out walking at two. In those days
they slept. It can't be that we're the fellows.... Why, there's
Antonia, coming in through the rain!
I wonder, said I, if la grippe isn't taking a bad turn with her
She came in, shedding the rain from her mackintosh like a
water-fowl, radiant with health and the air of outdoors.
Gentlemen, said she gaily, who but myself would come out in
anything but a diving-suit to-day!
It's almost an even thing, said Jim, between a calamity, which
brings you, and good fortune, which keeps you away. I hope it's only
your ordinary defiance of the elements.
The fact is, said she, that it's a very funny errand. But don't
laugh at me if it's absurd, please. It's about Mr. Cornish.
Yes! said Jim, what of him?
You know papa has been kept in by la grippe for a day or so, she
went on, and we haven't been allowing people to see him very much; but
Mr. Cornish has been in two or three times, and every time when he went
away papa was nervous and feverish. To-day, after he left, papa
asked here she looked at Mr. Elkins, as he stood gravely regarding
her, and went on with redder cheeksasked me some questions, which
led to a long talk between us, in which I found out that he has almost
persuaded papa toto change his business connections completely.
Yes! said Jim. Change, how?
Why, that I didn't quite understand, said Antonia, except that
there was logwood and mahogany and Mexico in it, andand that he had
made papa feel very differently toward you. After what has taken place
recently I knew that was wrongyou know papa is not as firm in his
ideas as he used to be; and I felt that heand you, were in danger,
somehow. At first I was afraid of being laughed atwhy, I'd rather
you'd laugh at me than to look like that!
You're a good girl, Antonia, said Jim, and have done the right
thing, and a great favor to us. Thank you very much; and please excuse
me a moment while I send a telegram. Please wait until I come back.
No, I'm going, Albert, said she, when he was gone to his own
office. But first you ought to know that man told papa
How do you know about this? said I.
Papa asked meif I hadany complaints to makeof Mr. Elkins's
treatment of me! What do you suppose he dared to tell him?
What did you tell your father? I asked.
What could I tell him but 'No'? she exclaimed. And I just had a
heart-to-heart talk with papa about Mr. Cornish and the way he has
acted; and if his fever hadn't begun to run up so, I'd have got the
rubber, or Peruvian-bark idea, or whatever it was, entirely out of his
mind. Poor papa! It breaks my heart to see him changing so! And so I
gave him a sleeping-capsule, and came down through this splendid rain;
and now I'm going! But, mind, this last is a secret.
And so she went away.
Where's Antonia? asked Jim, returning.
Gone, said I.
I wanted to talk further about this matter.
I don't like it, Jim. It means that the cruel war is not over.
Wait until we pass Wednesday, said Jim, and we'll wring his neck.
What a poisonous devil, to try and wean from us, to his ruin, an old
man in his dotage!I wish Antonia had stayed. I went out to set the
boys wiring for news of washouts between here and Chicago. We mustn't
miss that trip, if we have to start to-night. This rain will make
trouble with the track.No, I don't like it, either. Wasn't it
thoughtful of Antonia to come down! We can line Hinckley up all right,
now we know it; but if it had gone onwe can't stand a third
The sky darkened, until we had to turn on the lights, and the rain
fell more and more heavily. Once or twice there were jarring rolls of
distant thunder. To me there was something boding and ominous in the
weather. The day wore on interminably in the quiet of a business office
under such a sky. Elkins sent in a telegram which he had received that
no trouble with water was looked for along our way to Chicago, which
was by the Halliday line. As the dark day was lowering down to its
darker close, I went into President Elkins's office to take him home
with me. As I entered through my private door, I saw Giddings coming in
through the outer entrance.
Say, said he, I wanted to see you two together. I know you have
some business with Pendleton, and you've promised the boys a story for
Thursday or Friday. Now, you've been a little sore on me because I
haven't absolutely cut Cornish.
Not at all, said Jim. You must have a poor opinion of our
Well, you had no cause to feel that way, he went on, because, as
a newspaperman, I'm supposed to have few friends and no enemies.
Besides, you can't tell what a man might sink to, deprived all at once
of the friendship of three such men as you fellows!
Quite right, said I; but get to the point.
I'm getting to it, said he. I violate no confidence when I say
that Cornish has got it in for your crowd in great shape. The point is
involved in that. I don't know what your little game is with old
Pendleton, but whatever it is, Cornish thinks he can queer it, and at
the same time reap some advantages from the old man, if he can have a
few minutes' talk with Pen before you do. And he's going to do it, if
he can. Now, I figure, with my usual correctness of ratiocination, that
your scheme is going to be better for the town, and therefore for the
Herald, than his, and hence this disclosure, which I freely admit
has some of the ear-marks of bad form. Not that I blame Cornish, or am
saying anything against him, you know. His course is ideally Iagoan: he
stands in with Pendleton, benefits himself, and gets even with you all
at one fell
Stop this chatter! cried Jim, flying at him and seizing him by the
collar. Tell me how you know this, and how much you know!
My God! said Giddings, his lightness all departed, is it as vital
as that? He told me himself. Said it was something he wouldn't put on
paper and must tell Pendleton by word of mouth, and he's on the train
that just pulled out for Chicago.
He'll beat us there by twelve hours, said I, and he can do all he
threatens! Jim, we're gone!
Elkins leaped to the telephone and rang it furiously. There was the
ring of command sounding through the clamor of desperate and dubious
conflict in his voice.
Give me the L. &G. W. dispatcher's office, quick! said he. I
can't remember the number ... it's 420, four, two, naught. Is this
Agnew? This is Elkins talking. Listen! Without a moment's delay, I want
you to find out when President Pendleton's special, east-bound on his
Pacific Division, passes Elkins Junction. I'm at my office, and will
wait for the information here.... Don't let me wait long, please,
understand? And, say! Call Solan to the 'phone.... Is this Solan? Mr.
Solan, get out the best engine you've got in the yards, couple to it a
caboose, and put on a crew to make a run to Elkins Junction, as quick
as God'll let you! Do you understand? Give me Schwartz and his
fireman.... Yes, and Corcoran, too. Andy, this is a case of life and
deathof life and death, do you understand? See that the line's clear,
and no stops. I've got to connect east at Elkins Junction with a
special on that line.... Got to, d'ye see? Have the special wait
at the State Street crossing until we come aboard!
CHAPTER XXV. That Last Weird Battle
in the West.
There was still some remnant of daylight left when we stepped from a
closed carriage at the State Street crossing and walked to the train
prepared for us. The rain had all but ceased, and what there was came
out of some northern quarter of the heavens mingled with stinging
pellets of sleet, driven by a fierce gale. The turn of the storm had
come, and I was wise enough in weather-lore to see that its rearguard
was sweeping down upon us in all the bitterness of a winter's tempest.
Beyond the tracks I could see the murky water of Brushy Creek racing
toward the river under the State Street bridge.
I believe, said I, that the surface-water from above is showing
the flow from the flume.
Yes, said Jim absently, it must be about ready to break up. I
hope we can get out of the valley before dark.
The engine stood ready, the superabundant power popping off in a
deafening hiss. The fireman threw open the furnace-door and stoked the
fire as we approached. Engineer Schwartz, the same who had pulled us
over the road that first trip, was standing by his engine, talking with
our old conductor, Corcoran.
Here's a message for you, Mr. Elkins, said Corcoran, handing Jim a
yellow paper, from Agnew.
We read it by Corcoran's lantern, for it was getting dusky for the
reading of telegraph operator's script.
Water out over bottoms from Hinckley to the Hills, so went the
message. Flood coming down valley. Snow and drifting wind reported
from Elkins Junction and Josephine. Look out for washouts, and culverts
and bridges damaged by running ice and water. Pendleton special fully
up to running schedule, at Willow Springs.
Who've you got up there, Schwartz? Oh, is that you, Ole? said Mr.
Elkins. Good! Boys, to-night our work has got to be done in time, or
we might as well go to bed. It's a case of four aces or a four-flush,
and no intermediate stations. Mr. Pendleton's special will pass the
Junction right around ninenot ten minutes either way. Get us there
before that. If you can do it safely, all right; but get us there. And
remember that the regular rule in railroading is reversed to-night, and
we are ready to take any chance rather than missany chances,
We're ready and waiting, Mr. Elkins, said Schwartz, but you'll
have to get on, you know. Looks like there was time enough if we keep
the wheels turning, but this snow and flood business may cut some
figure. Any chances, I believe you said, sir. All right! Ready
when you are, Jack.
All aboard! sang out Corcoran, and with a commonplace ding-dong of
the bell, and an every-day hiss of steam, which seemed, somehow, out of
keeping with the fearful and unprecedented exigency now upon us, we
moved out through the yards, jolting over the frogs, out upon the main
line; and soon began to feel a cheering acceleration in the recurrent
sounds and shocks of our flight, as Schwartz began rolling back the
miles under his flying wheels.
We sat in silence on the oil-cloth cushions of the seats which ran
along the sides of the caboose. Corcoran, the only person who shared
the car with us, seemed to have some psychical consciousness of the
peril which weighed down upon us, and moved quietly about the car, or
sat in the cupola, as mute as we.
There was no need for speech between my friend and me. Our minds,
strenuously awake, found a common conclusion in the very nature of the
case. Both doubtless had considered and rejected the idea of
telegraphing Pendleton to wait for us at the Junction. No king upon his
throne was more absolute than Avery Pendleton, and to ask him to waste
a single quarter-hour of his time might give great offense to him whom
we desired to find serene and complaisant. Again, any apparent anxiety
for haste, any symptom of an attempt to rush his line of defenses,
would surely defeat its object. No, we must quietly and casually board
his train, and secure the signing of the contract before we reached
Chicago, if possible.
You brought that paper, Al? said Jim, as if my thoughts had been
audible to him.
Yes, said I, it's here.
I think we'd better be on our way to St. Louis, said he. He can
hardly refuse to oblige us by going through the form of signing, so as
to let us turn south at the river.
Very well, said I, St. Louisyes.
Out past the old Trescott farm, now covered with factories,
cottages, and railway tracks, leaving Lynhurst Park off to our left,
curving with the turnings of Brushy Creek Valley, through which our
engineers had found such easy grades, dropping the straggling suburbs
of the city behind us, we flew along the rails in the waning twilight
of this grewsome day. On the windward windows and the roof rattled
fierce flights of sleet and showers of cinders from the engine.
Occasionally we felt the car sway in the howling gusts of wind, as we
passed some opening in the hills and neared the more level prairie.
Stories of cars blown from the rails flitted through my mind; and in
contemplating such an accident my thoughts busied themselves with the
details of plans for getting free from the wrecked car, and pushing on
with the engine, the derailing of which somehow never occurred to me.
We're slowing down! cried Jim, after a half-hour's run. I wonder
what's the matter!
For God's sake, look ahead! yelled Corcoran, leaping down from the
cupola and springing to the door. We followed him to the platform, and
each of us ran down on the step and, swinging out by the hand-rail,
peered ahead into the dusk, the sleet stinging our cheeks like shot.
We were running along the right bank of the stream, at a point where
the valley narrowed down to perhaps sixty rods of bottom. At the first
dim look before us we could see nothing unusual, except that the
background of the scene looked somehow as if lifted by a mirage. Then I
noticed that up the valley, instead of the ghostly suggestions of trees
and hills which bounded the vista in other directions, there was an
appearance like that seen on looking out to sea.
The flood! said Jim. He's not going to stop, is he Corcoran?
At this moment came at once the explanation of Schwartz's hesitation
and the answer to Jim's question. We saw, reaching clear across the
narrow bottom, a great wave of water, coming down the valley like a
liquid wall, stretching across the track and seeming to forbid our
further progress, while it advanced deliberately upon us, as if to
drown engine and crew. Driven on by the terrific gale, it boiled at its
base, and curled forward at its foamy and wind-whipped crest, as if the
upper waters were impatient of the slow speed of those below. Beyond
the wave, the valley, from bluff to bluff, was a sea, rolling
white-capped waves. Logs, planks, and the other flotsam of a freshet
moved on in the van of the flood.
It looked like the end of our run. What engineer would dare to dash
on at such speed over a submerged trackpossibly floated from its bed,
possibly barricaded by driftwood? Was not the wave high enough to put
out the fires and kill the engine? As we met the roaring eagre we felt
the engine leap, as Schwartz's hesitation left him and he opened the
throttle. Like knight tilting against knight, wave and engine met.
There was a hissing as of the plunging of a great red-hot bar into a
vat. A roaring sheet of water, thrown into the air by our momentum,
washed cab and tender and car, as a billow pours over a laboring ship;
and we stood on the steps, drenched to the skin, the water swirling
about our ankles as we rushed forward. Then we heard the scream of
triumph from the whistle, with which Schwartz cheered us as the
dripping train ran on through shallower and shallower water, and
turning, after a mile or so, began climbing, dry-shod, the grade which
led from the flooded valley and out upon the uplands.
Come in, Mr. Elkins, said Corcoran. You'll both freeze out there,
wet as you are.
Not until I heard this did I realize that we were still standing on
the steps, our clothes congealing about us, peering through the now
dense gloom ahead, as if for the apparition of some other grisly foe to
daunt or drive us back.
We went in, and sat down by the roaring fire, in spite of which a
chill pervaded the car. We were now running over the divide between the
valley we had just left and that of Elk Fork. Up here on the highlands
the wind more than ever roared and clutched at the corners of the car,
and sometimes, as with the palm of a great hand, pressed us over, as if
a giant were striving to overturn us. We could hear the engine
struggling with the savage norther, like a runner breathing hard, as he
nears exhaustion. Presently I noticed fine particles of snow, driven
into the car at the crevices, falling on my hands and face, and
striking the hot stove with little hissing explosions of steam.
We're running into a blizzard up here, said Corcoran. It's a
A terror; yes, said Jim. What sort of time are we making?
Just about holding our own, said Corcoran. Not much to spare. Got
to stop at Barslow for water. But there won't be any bad track from
there on. This snow won't cut any figure for three hours yet, and mebbe
not at all, there's so little of it.
Kittrick has been asking for an appropriation to rebuild the Elk
Fork trestle, said Jim. Will it stand this flood?
Well, said Corcoran, if the water ain't too high, and the ice
don't run too swift in the Fork, it'll be all right. But if there's any
such mixture of downpour and thaw as there was along the Creek back
there, we may have to jump across a gap. It'll probably be all right.
I remembered the Elk Fork, and the trestle just on the hither side
of the Junction. I remembered the valley, green with trees, and
populous with herds, winding down to the lake, and the pretty little
town of Josephine. I remembered that gala day when we christened it. I
groaned in spirit, as I thought of finding the trestle gone, after our
hundred-and-fifty-mile dash through storm and flood. Yet I believed it
would be gone. The blows showered upon us had beaten down my courage. I
felt no shrinking from either struggle or danger; but this was merely
the impulse which impels the soldier to fight on in despair, and sell
his life dearly. I believed that ruin fronted us all; that our great
system of enterprises was going down; that, East and West, where we had
been so much courted and admired, we should become a by-word and a
hissing. The elements were struggling against us. That vengeful flood
had snatched at us, and barely missed; the ruthless hurricane was
holding us back; and somehow fate would yet find means to lay us low. I
had all day kept thinking of the lines:
Nor ever yet had Arthur fought a fight
Like this last dim, weird battle of the west.
A death-white mist slept over land and sea:
Whereof the chill, to him who breathed it, drew
Down to his blood, till all his heat was cold
With formless fear: and even on Arthur fell
Confusion, since he saw not whom he fought.
And this, thought I, was the end of the undertaking upon which we
had entered so lightly, with frolic jests of piracy and Spanish
galleons and pieces-of-eight, and with all that mock-seriousness with
which we discussed hypnotic suggestion and psychic force! The
bitterness grew sickening, as Corcoran, hearing the long whistle of the
engine, said that we were coming into Barslow. The tragic foolery of
giving that name to any place!
Out upon the platform here, in the blinding whirl of snow. The night
operator came out and talked to us of the news of the line, while the
engine ran on to the tank for water. There was another telegram from
Agnew, saying that the Pendleton special was on time, and that Mr.
Kittrick was following us with another train in case of need.
The operator was full of wild stories of the Brushy Creek flood,
caused by the thaw and the cloudburst. We cut him short in this
narration, and asked him of the conditions along the Elk Fork.
She's up and boomin', said he. The trestle was most all under
water an hour ago, and they say the ice was runnin' in blocks. You may
find the track left without any underpinnin'. Look out for yourselves.
Al, said Jim slowly, can you fire an engine?
I guess so, said I, seeing his meaning dimly. Why?
Al, said he, as if stating the conclusion of a complicated
calculation, we must run this train in alone!
I saw his intent fully, and knew why he walked so resolutely up to
the engine, now backed down to take us on again. Schwartz leaned out of
his cab, a man of snow and ice. Ole stood with his shovel in his hand
white and icy like his brother worker. Both had been drenched, as we
had; but they had had no red-hot stove by which to sit; and buffeted by
the blizzard and powdered by the snow, they had endured the benumbing
cold of the hurricane-swept cab.
Get down here, boys, said Jim. I want to talk with you.
Ole leaped lightly down, followed by Schwartz, who hobbled
laboriously, stiffened with cold. Youth and violent labor had kept the
Schwartz, said Jim, there is a chance that we'll find the trestle
weakened and dangerous. We'll stop and examine it if we have time, but
if it is as close a thing as I think it will be, we propose to make a
run for it and take chances. Barslow and I are the ones, and the only
ones, who ought to do this, because we must make this connection. We
can run the engine. You and Ole and Corcoran stay here. Mr. Kittrick
will be along with another train in a few hours. Uncouple the caboose
and we'll run on.
Schwartz blew his nose with great deliberation.
Ole, said he, what d'ye think of the old man's scheme?
Ay tank, said Ole, dat bane hellufa notion!
Come, said Mr. Elkins, we're losing time! Uncouple at once!
We started to mount the engine; but Schwartz and Ole were before us,
barring the way.
Wait, said Schwartz. Jest look at it, now. It's quite a run yet;
and the chances are you'd have the cylinder-heads knocked out before
you'd got half way; and then where'd you be with your connections?
Do you mean to say, said Jim, that there's any likelihood of the
engine's dying on us between here and the Junction?
It's a cinch! said Schwartz.
For God's sake, then, let's get on! said Jim. I believe you're
lying to me, Schwartz. But do this: As you come to the trestle, stop.
From the approach we can see down the other track for ten miles. If
Pendleton's train is far enough off so as to give us time, we'll see
how the bridge is before we cross. If we're pressed for time too much
for this, promise me that you'll stop and let us run the engine across
I'll think about it, said Schwartz; and if I conclude to, I will.
It's got to clear up, if we can see even the headlight on the other
road very far. Ready, Jack?
We wrung their hard and icy hands, leaped upon the train, and were
away again, spinning down the grade toward the Elk Fork, and comforted
by our speed. Jim and I climbed into the cupola and watched the track
ahead, and the two homely heroes in the cab, as the light from the
furnace blazed out upon them from time to time. Now we could see
Schwartz stoking, to warm himself; now we could see him looking at his
watch and peering anxiously out before him.
It was wearing on toward nine, and still our goal was miles away.
Overhead the sky was clearing, and we could see the stars; but down on
the ground the light, new snow still glided whitely along before the
lessening wind. Once or twice we saw, or thought we saw, far ahead,
lights, like those of a little prairie town. Was it the Junction? Yes,
said Corcoran, when we called him to look; and now we saw that we were
rising on the long approach to the trestle.
Would Schwartz stop, or would he run desperately across, as he had
dashed through the flood? That was with him. His hand was on the lever,
and we were helpless; but, if there was time, it would be mere
foolhardiness to go upon the trestle at any but the slowest speed, and
without giving all but one an opportunity to walk across. One, surely,
was enough to go down with the engine, if it, indeed, went down.
Don't stay up there, shouted Corcoran, go out on the steps so you
can jump for it if you have to!
Out upon the platform we went in the biting wind, which still came
fiercely on, sweeping over the waste of waters which covered the fields
like a great lake. There was no sign of slowing down: right on, as if
the road were rock-ballasted, and thrice secure, the engine drove
toward the trestle.
She's there, anyhow, I b'lieve, said Corcoran, swinging out and
looking ahead; but I wouldn't bet on how solid she is!
Can't you stop him? said Jim.
Stop nothing! said Corcoran. Look over there!
We looked, and saw a light gleaming mistily, but distinct and
unmistakable, across the water on the other track. It was the Pendleton
special! Not much further from the station than were we, the train of
moving palaces to which we were fighting our way was gliding to the
point beyond which it must not pass without us. There was now no more
thought of stopping; rather our desires yearned forward over the
course, agonizing for greater speed. I did not see that we were
actually upon the trestle until for some rods we had been running with
the inky water only a few feet below us; but when I saw it my hopes
leaped up, as I calculated the proportion of the peril which was
passed. A moment more, and the solid approach would be under our
But the moment more was not to be given us! For, even as this joy
rose in my breast, I felt a shock; I heard a confused sound of men's
cries, and the shattering of timbers; the caboose whirled over
cornerwise, throwing up into the air the step on which I stood; the
sounds of the train went out in sudden silence as engine and car
plunged off into the stream; and I felt the cold water close over me as
I fell into the rushing flood. I arose and struck out for the shore;
then I thought of Jim. A few feet above me in the stream I saw
something like a hand or foot flung up out of the water, and sucked
down again. I turned as well as I could toward the spot, and collided
with some object under the surface. I caught at it, felt the skirt of a
garment in my hand, and knew it for a man. Then, I remember helping
myself with a plank from some washed-out bridge, and soon felt the
ground under my feet, all the time clinging to my man. I tried to lift
him out, but could not; and I locked my hands under his arm-pits and,
slowly stepping backwards, I half carried, half dragged him, seeking a
place where I could lay him down. I saw the dark line of the railroad
grade, and made wearily toward it. I walked blindly into the water of
the ditch beside the track, and had scarcely strength to pull myself
and my burden out upon the bank. Then I stopped and peered into his
face, and saw uncertainly that it was Jimwith a dark spot in the edge
of the hair on his forehead, from which black streaks kept stealing
down as I wiped them off; and with one arm which twisted unnaturally,
and with a grating sound as I moved it; and from whom there came no
other sound or movement whatever.
And over across the stream gleamed the lights of the Pendleton
special as it sped away toward Chicago.
CHAPTER XXVI. The Endand a
As to our desperate run from Lattimore to the place where it came to
an end in a junk-heap which had been once an engine, a car reduced to
matchwood, a broken trestle, and a chaos of crushed hopes, and of the
return to our homes thereafter, no further details need be set forth.
The papers in Lattimore were filled with the story for a day or two,
and I believe there were columns about it in the Associated Press
reports. I doubt not that Mr. Pendleton and Mr. Cornish each read it in
the morning papers, and that the latter explained it to the former in
Chicago. From these reports the future biographer may glean, if he
happens to come into being and to care about it, certain interesting
facts about the people of this history. He will learn that Mr. Barslow,
having (with truly Horatian swimming powers) rescued President Elkins
from a watery grave, waited with his unconscious derelict in great
danger from freezing, until they were both rescued a second time by a
crew of hand-car men who were near the trestle on special work
connected with the flood and its ravages. That President Elkins was
terribly injured, having sustained a broken arm and a dangerous wound
in the forehead. Moreover, he was threatened with pneumonia from his
exposure. Should this disease really fasten itself upon him, his
condition would be very critical indeed. That Mr. Barslow, the hero of
the occasion, was uninjured. And I am ashamed to say that such student
of history will find in an inconspicuous part of the same news-story,
as if by reason of its lack of importance, the statement that O.
Hegvold, fireman, and J. J. Corcoran, conductor of the wrecked train,
escaped with slight injuries. And that Julius Schwartz, the engineer,
living at 2714 May Street, and the oldest engineer on the L. &G. W.,
being benumbed by the cold, sank like a stone and was drowned. Poor
Schwartz! Magnificent Schwartz! No captain ever went down, refusing to
leave the bridge of his sinking ship, with more heroism than he; who,
clad in greasy overalls, and sapped of his strength by the icy
hurricane, finding his homely duty inextricably entangled with death,
calmly took them both, and went his way.
This mine for the historian will also disclose to him the fact that
the rescued crew and passengers were brought home by a relief-train in
charge of General Manager Kittrick, and that Mr. Elkins was taken
directly to the home of Mr. Barslow, where he at once became subject to
the jurisdiction of physicians and nurses and could not be seen. But
as to the reasons for the insane dash in the dark the historian will
look in vain. I am disposed now to think that our motives were entirely
creditable; but for them we got no credit.
Much less than a nine days' wonder, however, was this tragedy of the
Elk Fork trestle, for other sensations came tumbling in an army upon
its very heels. Times of war, great public calamities, and panic are
the harvest seasons of the newspapers; and these were great days for
the newspapers in Lattimore. Not that they learned or printed all the
news. I received a telegram, for instance, the day after the accident,
which merely entered up judgment on the verdict of the day before. It
was a message from Mr. Pendleton in Chicago.
In matter of Lattimore &Great Western, this telegram read,
directors refuse to ratify contract. This sent to save you trip to
No news in that, said I to Mr. Hinckley; I wonder that he
bothered to send it.
But, in the era of slug heads which set in about three days after,
and while Jim was still helpless up at my house, it would have received
recognition as newsalthough they did very well without it.
Great Failure! said the Times. Grain Belt Trust Company
Goes to the Wall! Business Circles Convulsed! Receiver Appointed at
Suit of Charles Harper of Chicago! Followed by Assignment of Hinckley
&Macdonald, Bankers! Western Portland Cement Company Assigns! Atlas
Power Company Follows Suit! Reason, Money Tied up in Banks and Trust
Company. Where will it Stop? A Veritable Black Friday!
Thus the headlines. In the news report itself the Times
remarked upon the intimate connection of Mr. Elkins and myself with all
the failed concerns. The firm of Elkins &Barslow, being primarily a
real-estate and insurance agency, would not assign. As to the condition
of the business of James R. Elkins &Company, whose operations in bonds
and debentures had been enormous, nothing could be learned on account
of the critical illness of Mr. Elkins.
It is not thought, said the Herald, that the failures will
carry down any other concerns. The run on the First National Bank was
one of those panicky symptoms which are dangerous because so
unreasoning. It is to be hoped that it will not be renewed in the
morning. The banks are not involved in the operations of the Grain Belt
Trust Company, the failure of which, it must be admitted, is sure to
cause serious disturbances, both locally and elsewhere, wherever its
wide-spread operations have extended.
The physical system adjusts itself to any permanent lesion in the
body, and finally ceases even to send out its complaining messages of
pain. So we in Lattimore, who a few weeks ago had been ready to
sacrifice anything for the keeping of our good name; who by stealth
justly foreclosed mortgages justly due, lest the world should wonder at
their nonpayment; who so greatly had rejoiced in our own strength; who
had felt that, surely, we who had wrought such wonders could not now
fail:even we numbly came to regard receiverships and assignments as
quite the thing to be expected. The fact that, all over the country,
panic, ruin, and business stagnation were spreading like a pestilence,
from just such centers of contagion as Lattimore, made it easier for
us. Surely, we felt, nobody could justly blame us for being in the path
of a tempest which, like a tropic cyclone, ravaged a continent.
This may have been weak self-justification; but, even yet, when I
think of the way we began, and how the wave of prosperity rose and
rose, by acts in themselves, so far as we could see, in every way
praiseworthy; how with us, and with people engaged in like operations
everywhere, the most powerful passions of society came to aid our
projects; how the winds from the unknown, the seismic throbbings of the
earth, and the very stars in their courses fought for us; and when, at
last, these mightinesses turned upon us the cold and evil eye of their
displeasure, how the heaped-up sea came pouring over here, trickling
through there, and seeping under yonder, until our great dike toppled
over in baleful tumult, and all the world was in the sea; how
business, east, west, north, and south, went paralyzed with fear and
distrust, and old concerns went out like strings of soap-bubbles, and
shocks of pain and disease went round the world, and everywhere there
was that hellish and portentous thing known to the modern world only,
and called a commercial panic: when I broadly consider these things,
I am not vain enough seriously to blame myself.
These thoughts are more than ever in my mind to-day, as I look back
over the decade of years which have elapsed since our Waterloo at the
Elk Fork trestle. I look out from the same library in which I once felt
a sense of guilt at the expense of building it, and see the solid and
prosperous town, almost as populous as we once saw it in our dreams. I
am regarded locally as one of the creators of the city; but I know that
this praise is as unmerited as was that blame of a dozen years ago. We
rode on the crest of a wave, and we weltered in the trough of the sea;
but we only seemed to create or control. I hold in my hand a letter
from Jim, received yesterday, and eloquent of the changes which have
I am sorry, says he, to be unable to come to your business men's
banquet. The building of a great auditorium in Lattimore is proof that
we weren't so insane, after all. I suppose that the ebb and flow of the
tide of progress, which yearly gains upon the shore, is inevitable, as
things are hooked up; but, after the ebb, it's comforting to see your
old predictions as to gain coming true, even if you do find yourself in
the discard. It would be worth the trip only to see Captain Tolliver,
and to hear him eliminate the r's from his mother tongue. Give
the dear old secesh my dearest love!
But I can't come, Al. I must be in Washington at that time on
business of the greatest (presumptive) importance to the cattle
interests of the buffalo-grass country. I could change my own dates;
but my wife has arranged a tryst for a day certain with some
specialists in her line in New York. She's quite the queen of the
cattle rangein New York: and, to be dead truthful, she comes pretty
near it out here. It is rumored that even the sheepmen speak well of
These Eastern trips are great things for her and the children. I'm
riding the range so constantly, and get so much fun out of it, that I
feel sort of undressed and embarrassed out of the saddle. In Washington
I'm pointed out as a typical cowboy, the descendant of a Spanish
vaquero and a trapper's daughter. This helps me to represent my
constituents in the sessions of the Third House, and to get
Congressional attention to the ax I want ground. I am looked upon as in
line for the presidency of the Amalgamated Association of American
If we can make it, we'll look in on you on our way back; but we
don't promise. With cattle scattered over two counties of buttes and
canyons, we feel in a hurry when we get started home, after an absence
sure to have been longer than we intended. Then, you know how I
feel;I wish the old town well, but I don't enjoy every
incident of my visits there.
We expect to see the Cecil Barr-Smiths in New York. Cecil is the
whole thing now with their companiesa sort of professional president
in charge of the American properties; and Mrs. Cecil is as well known
in some mighty good circles in London as she used to be in Lynhurst
I am glad to know that things are going toward the good with you.
Personally, I never expect to be a seven-figure man again, and don't
care to be. I prefer to look after my few thousands of steers, laying
on four hundred pounds each per year, far from the madding crowd. You
know Riley's man who said that the little town of Tailholt was good
enough for him? Well, that expresses my view of the 'J-Up-and-Down'
Ranch as a hermitage. It'll do quite well. But these Eastern interests
of Mrs. Jim are just now menacing to life in any hermitage. She has
specifically stated on two or three occasions lately that this is no
place to bring up a family. Think of a rough-rider like me in the wilds
of New York! I can see plenty of ways of amusing myself down there, but
not such peaceful ways as putting on my six-shooters and going out
after timber wolves or mountain lions, or our local representative of
the clan of the Hon. Maverick Brander. The future lowers dark with the
multitudinous mouths of avenues of prosperity!
This letter was a disappointment to Mr. Giddings. His special
edition of the Herald commemorative of the opening of our
Auditorium must now be deprived of its James R. Elkins feature, so far
as his being the guest of honor goes. But there will be Jim's
photograph on the first page, and a half-tone reproduction of a picture
of the wreck at the Elk Fork trestle.
It is a matter of the deepest regret, said the Herald this
morning, that Mr. Elkins cannot be with us on this auspicious
occasion. He was the head of that most remarkable group of men who laid
the foundations of Lattimore's greatness. Only one of them, Mr.
Barslow, still lives in Lattimore, where he has devoted his life, since
the crash of many years ago, to the reorganization of the failed
concerns, and especially the Grain Belt Trust Company, and to the
salving of their properties in the interests of the creditors. His
present prominence grows out of the signal skill and ability with which
he has done this work; and he must prove a great factor in the city's
future development, as he has been in its past. Mr. Hinckley, the third
member of the syndicate, now far advanced in years, is living happily
with his daughter and her husband. The fourth, Mr. Cornish, resides in
Paris, where he is well known as a daring and successful financial
operator. He, of all the syndicate, retired from the Lattimore
There have been years when the names of these men were not held in
the respect and esteem they deserve. The town was going backward.
People who had been rich were, many of them, in absolute distress for
the necessaries of life. And these men, in a vague sort of way, were
blamed for it. Now, however, we can begin to see the wisdom of their
plans and the vastness of the scope of their combinations. Nothing but
the element of time was wanting, abundantly to vindicate their judgment
and sagacity. The industries they founded succeeded as soon as they
were divorced from the real-estate speculation which unavoidably
entered into their management at the outset. It is regrettable that
their founders could not share in their success.
Nothing but the element of time, said I to Captain Tolliver, who
sat by me in the car as I read this editorial, prevents the hot-air
balloon from carrying its load over the Rockies.
Nothing but luck, said the Captain, evah could have beaten us. It
was the Fleischmann failure, and it was nothing else. As to the great
qualities of Mr. Elkins, suh, the editorial puts it too mild by fah. He
was a Titan, suh, a Titan, and we shall not look upon his like again.
This town at this moment is vegetating fo' the want of some fo'ceful
Elkins to put life into it. The trilobites, as he so well dubbed them,
ah in control again. What's this Auditorium we've built? A good thing
fo' the city, cehtainly, a ve'y good thing: but see the difficulty, the
humiliatin' difficulty we had, in gettin' togethah the paltry and
trivial hundred and fifty thousand dolla's! Why in that elder day, in
such a cause, we'd have called a meetin' in that old office of Elkins &
Barslow's, and made it up out of ouah own funds in fifteen minutes.
It's the so't of cattle we've got hyah as citizens that's handicappin'
us; but in spite of this, suh, ouah unsuhpassed strategical position is
winnin' fo' us. We ah just now on the eve of great developments,
Barslow, great developments! All my holdin's ah withdrawn from mahket
until fu'theh notice. Foh, as we ah so much behind the surroundin'
country in growth, we must soon take a great leap fo'wahd. We ah past
the boom stage, I thank God, and what we ah now goin' to get is a
rathah brisk but entiahly healthy growth. A good, healthy growth,
Barslow, and no boom!
The disposition to moralize comes on with advancing middle age, and
I could not help philosophizing on this perennial optimism of the
Captain's. He had used these very words when, so long ago, we had begun
our cruise. The financial cycle was complete. The world had passed
from hope to intoxication, from intoxication to panic, from panic to
the depths, from this depression, ascending the long slope of gradual
recovery, to the uplands of hope once more. Now, as twenty years ago,
this feeling covered the whole world, was most pronounced in the newer
and more progressive lands, and was voiced by Captain Tolliver, the
grizzled swashbuckler of the land market. In it I recognized the ripple
on the sands heralding the approach of another wave of speculation,
which must roll shoreward in splendor and might, and, like its
predecessors, must spend itself in thunderous ruin.
I often think of what General Lattimore was accustomed to say about
these matters, and how Josie echoed his words as to the evil of
fortunes coming to those who never earned them. Some time, I hope, we
shall grow wise enough to
I humbly beg your pardon, Madam, and thank you. That charming
gesture of impatience was the one thing needful to admonish me that
lectures are dull, and that the time has come to write finis.
The rest of the story? CornishJimJosieAntonia? Oh, this proneness
of the business man to talk shop! Left to myself, I should have allowed
their history to remain to the end of time, unresolved as to
entanglements, and them unhealed as to bruises, bodily and sentimental.
And, yet, those were the things which most filled our minds in the dark
days after we missed connection with the Pendleton special.
In the first spasm of the crisis I was more concerned for Jim's
safety than with the long-feared monetary cataclysm. That was
upon us in such power as to make us helpless; but Jim, wounded and
prostrated as he was, his very life in danger, was a concrete subject
of anxiety and a comfortingly promising object of care.
If we can keep this from assuming the character of true pneumonia,
said Dr. Aylesbury, there's no reason why he shouldn't recover.
He had been unconscious and then delirious from the time when he and
I had been picked up there by the railroad-dump, until we were well on
our way home on Kittrick's relief-train. At last he looked about him,
and his eyes rested on Corcoran.
Hello, Jack! said he weakly; and as his glance took in Ole, he
smiled and said: A hellufa notion, you tank, do you? Ole, where's
Ole twisted and squirmed, but found no words.
We couldn't find Schwartz, said Kittrick. He was so cold, he went
right down with the cab.
I see, said Jim. It was bitter cold!
He said no more. I wondered at this, and almost blamed him, even in
his stricken state, for not feeling the peculiar poignancy of our
regret for the loss of Schwartz. And then, his face being turned away,
I peeped over to see if he slept, and saw where his tears had dropped
silently on the piled-up cushions of his couch.
* * * * *
Mrs. Trescott came several times a day to inquire as to Mr. Elkins's
welfare; but Josie not at all. Antonia's carriage stopped often at the
door; and somebody stood always at the telephone, answering the stream
of questions. But when, on that third evening, it became known that the
last battle in the west had gone against us, that all our great Round
Table was dissolved, and that Jim's was a sinking and not a rising sun,
public interest suddenly fell off. And the poor fellow whose word but
yesterday might have stood against the world, now lay there fighting
for very life, and few so poor to do him reverence. I had been so proud
of his splendid and dominant strength that this, I think, was the thing
that brought the bitterness of failure most keenly home to me. I could
not feel satisfied with Josie. There were good reasons why she might
have refused to choose between Jim and the man who had ruined him,
while there was danger of her choice itself becoming the occasion of
war between them. But that was over now, and Cornish was victorious.
Gradually the fear grew upon me that we had rated Josie's womanhood
higher than she herself held it, and that Cornish was to win her also.
He had that magnetism which so attracted her as a girl, but that I had
believed incapable of holding her as a woman. And now he had wealth,
and Jim was poor, and the whole world stood with its back to us, and
Josie held aloof. I was afraid he would speak of it, every time he
tried to talk.
That night when the evening papers came out with all their plenitude
of bad news (for we had pleased Watson by dying on the evening papers'
time), it was a dark moment for us. Jim lay silent and unmoving, as if
all his ebullient energy had gone forever. The physician omitted the
dressing of his wound, because, he said, he feared the patient was not
strong enough to bear it: and this, as well as the strange semi-stupor
of the sufferer, frightened me. Jim had said little, and most of his
words had been of the trivial things of the sick-room. Only once did he
refer to the great affairs in which we had been for so long engrossed.
What day is this? he asked.
Friday, said I, the twenty-first.
By this time, said he feebly, we must be pretty well shot to
Never mind about that, said I, holding his hands in mine. Never
Some of those gophers, said he, after a while, used to learn to
... rub their noses ... in the dirt ... and always stick their heads
upoutside the snare!
Yes, said I, I remember. Go to sleep, old man!
I thought him delirious, and he knew and resented it; being
evidently convinced that he had just made a wise remark. It touched me
to hear him, even in his extremity, return to those boyhood days when
we trapped and hunted and fished together. He saw my pitying look.
I'm all right, said he; but he said no more.
The nurse came in, and told me that Mrs. Barslow wished to see me in
the library. I went down, and found Josie and Alice together.
I got a letter fromfrom Mr. Cornish, said she, telling me that
he was returning from Chicago to-night, and was coming to see me. I ran
over, becauseand told mamma to say that I couldn't see him.
See him by all means, said I with some bitterness. You should
make it a point to see him. Mr. Cornish is a success. He alone of us
all has shown real greatness.
And it dawned upon me, as I said it, what Jim had meant by his
reference to the gopher which learns to stick its head up outside the
I want to ask you, said Josie, is it all truewhat was in the
paper to-night about all of you, Mr. Hinckley and yourself, andall of
you having failed?
It is only a part of the truth, I replied. We are ruined
She said nothing by way of condolence, and uttered no expressions of
regret or sympathy. She was apparently in a state of suppressed
excitement, and started at sounds and movements.
Is Mr. Elkins very ill? said she at length.
So ill, said Alice, that unless he rallies soon, we shall look
for the worst.
No more at this than at the other ill news did Josie express any
regret or concern. She sat with her fingers clasped together, gazing
before her at the fire in the grate, as if making some deep and
abstruse calculation. But when the door-bell rang, she started and
listened attentively, as the servant went to the door, and then
returned to us.
A gentleman, Mr. Cornish, to see Miss Trescott, said the maid.
And he says he must see her for a moment.
Alice, said Josie, under her breath, you go, please! Say to him
that I cannot see himnow! Oh, why did he follow me here?
Josie, said Alice dramatically, you don't mean to say that you
are afraid of this man! Are you?
No, no! said the girl doubtfully and distressfully; but it's so
hard to say 'No' to him! If you only knew all, Alice, you wouldn't
blame meand you'd go!
If you're so far goneunder his influence, said Alice, that you
can't trust yourself to say 'No,' Josephine Trescott, go, in Heaven's
name, and say 'Yes,' and be the wife of a millionaireand a traitor
As Alice said this she came perilously near the histrionic standard
of the tragic stage. Josie rose, looked at her in surprise, in which
there seemed to be some defiance, and walked steadily out to the
parlor. I was glad to be out of the affair, and went back to Jim. I
stood regarding my broken and forsaken friend, in watching whose uneasy
sleep I forgot the crisis downstairs, when I was startled and angered
by the slamming of the front door, and heard a carriage rattle
furiously away down the street.
Soon I heard the rustle of skirts, and looked up, thinking to see my
wife. But it was Josie. She came in, as if she were the regularly
ordained nurse, and stepped to the bedside of the sleeping patient. The
broken arm in its swathings lay partly uncovered; and across his
wounded brow was stretched a broad bandage, below which his face showed
pale and weary-looking, in the half-stupor of his deathlike slumber:
for he had become strangely quiet. His uninjured arm lay inertly on the
counterpane beside him.
She took his hand, and, seating herself on the bed, began softly
stroking and patting the hand, gazing all the time in his face. He
stirred, and, turning his eyes toward her, awoke.
Don't move, my darling, said she quietly, and as if she had been
for a long, long time quite in the habit of so speaking to him; don't
move, or you'll hurt your arm. Then she bent down her head, lower and
lower, until her cheek touched his.
I've come to sit with you, Jim, dear, said she, softlyif you
want meif I can do you any good.
I want you, always, said he.
She stooped again, and this time laid her lips lingeringly on his;
and his arm stole about the slim waist.
If you'll just get well, she whispered, you may have mealways!
He passed his fingers over her hair, and kissed her again and again.
Then he looked at her long and earnestly.
Where's Al? said he; I want Al!
I came forward promptly. I thought that this violation of the
doctor's regulation requiring rest and quiet had gone quite far enough.
Al, said he, still holding her hand, do you remember out there by
the windmill tower that night, and the petunias and four-o'clocks?
Yes, Jim, I remember, said I. But you mustn't talk any more now.
No, I won't, said he, and went right on; but even before that,
and ever since, I haven't wanted anything we've been trying so hard to
get, half as much as I've wanted Josie; and nowwe lost the fight,
didn't we? Things have been slipping away from us, haven't they? Gone,
Go to sleep now, Jim, said I. Plenty of time for those things
when you wake up.
Yes, said he; but before I do, I want you to tell me one thing,
honest injun, hope to die, you know!
Yes, said I; what is it, Jim?
I've been seeing a lot of funny things in the dark corners about
here; but this seems more real than any of them, he went on; and I
want you to tell meis this really Josie?
Really, I assured him, really, it is.
Oh, Jim, Jim! she cried, have you learned to doubt my reality,
just because I'm kind! Why, I'm going to be good to you now, dearest,
always, always! And kinder than you ever dreamed, Jim. And I'm going to
show you that everything has not slipped away from you, my poor, poor
boy; and that, whatever may come, I shall be with you always. Only get
well; only get well!
Josie, said he, smiling wanly, you couldn't kill menownot
with an ax!