by George Barr McCutcheon
CHAPTER I. THE FARAWAY CLUB
CHAPTER II. THE FLYERS CATCH THE FLYER
CHAPTER III. THE MORNING AFTER
CHAPTER IV. MRS. VAN TRUDER INTRUDES
CHAPTER V. AS NIGHT APPROACHES
CHAPTER VI. THE ROAD TO PARADISE
CHAPTER I. THE FARAWAY CLUB
A cold, thick drizzle, blown by a biting wind that sent chills to
the marrow, marred the early spring night, and kept indoors the few
hardy members who had haunted the clubhouse since the season's opening
a week before. Not more than a dozen loyal devotees to the sports of
the open air lounged about the big clubhouse. Three or four rangy
young women in sweaters and jackets strove bravely to dispel the gloom
of the night as it settled down upon the growling masculine majority.
The club steward hovered near, anxiously directing the movements of a
silent and as yet undrilled corps of servants who flitted from group
to group with decanters and checks, taking and mistaking orders with
the usual abandon. A huge fireplace threw out heat sufficient to make
the big lounging room comfortable. Now and then a spiteful gust of
wind swept the rain against the western window-panes with a menace
that set the teeth on edge.
"Rotten night," reflected the big man who monopolised the roomiest
chair and the best position in front of the blazing logs. "Going to
town to-night?" The question was general: there were half a dozen
answers. Every one was going in by the last express. All of them had
dined well: they had been hungry and the club was a wealthy one; even
the most exclusive of appetites could be entertained at the Faraway
Country Club. The last 'bus was to leave the clubhouse at ten minutes
past ten, and it was then half-past eight. Ten minutes' drive from the
clubhouse on the edge of the little town to the railway station—then
thirty minutes to the heart of the big city in which the members lived
and died at great risk to themselves.
Each succeeding spring saw the formal opening of the Faraway
Country Club. The boards were pulled down from the windows and the
door hinges were oiled properly after a winter of discontent. May saw
the reopening, but it was not until June that crowds began to fill the
house and grounds. Only the more restless and hardy had the temerity
to test the pleasures of the raw spring days and nights. The M.F.H.
was a loyal, eager chap; he knew what was required of him in his
official capacity. With the first symptoms of softening soil he led
his followers through field and wood, promising the "real hunt" inside
of a month. Following a pack of overfed hounds was what every one at
Faraway Club called a "real hunt."
The night so meagrely described at the beginning of this tale
followed hard upon a grey, chill day. A few golfers had spent the
afternoon upon the course, inanely cursing the temporary tees and
greens. A couple of polo enthusiasts tried out their ponies, and
several men and women took their hunters over the course, that fairly
bristled with spectres of last year's anise-seed. Now they were
comfortably ensconced in the clubhouse, berating the unfortunate
elements, and waiting for the last express with a persistency which
allowed three or four earlier trains to come and go unnoticed. The
cheerful highball was coming into its own. A stern winter of bridge
had not killed the ardour of certain worshippers; continuous criticism
of play arose from the table in the corner where two men and two women
were engaged with the cards.
The perennial bore, who noses into everything in order to sniff his
own wit, sauntered amiably from group to group, pouring out jests as
murky as the night itself. He saw none of the scowls nor heard the
toe-taps; he went blithely along his bridgeless way.
"I say, Brown, I saw your wife on the street yesterday, but she
didn't see me," he observed to the blase-looking man in corduroys.
"Ya-as," returned the other, calmly staring past him; "so she told
me last night." The bore and his blissful smile passed on to the next
group. There, two or three women were chatting with as many men,
yawning and puffing at their cigarettes, bored by the risque stories
the men were telling, but smiling as though they had not already heard
them from other men. Occasional remarks, dropped softly into the ears
of the women, may have brought faint blushes to their cheeks, but the
firelight was a fickle consort to such changes. The sly turn of a
sentence gave many a double meaning; the subtle glance of the eye
intended no harm. Dobson's new toast to "fair women" earned a roar of
laughter, but afterwards Dobson was called to account by a husband who
realised. A man over in the corner was thumping aimlessly on the
piano; a golf fanatic was vigorously contending that he had driven 243
yards against the wind; a tennis enthusiast was lamenting the fact
that the courts were too soft to be used; there was a certain odour of
rain-soaked clothes in the huge room, ascendant even above the smell
of cigarettes. Altogether, it was a night that owed much to the
Mrs. Scudaway, dashing horsewoman and exponent of the free rein,
was repeating the latest story concerning an intimate friend of every
one present—and, consequently, absent.
"She's just sailed for Europe, and that good-looking actor friend
of the family happened to go on the same steamer," she was saying with
a joyous smile.
"Accidents will happen," remarked some one, benevolently.
"Where's her husband? I haven't seen him with her in months," came
from one of the men.
"Oh, they have two children, you know," explained Mrs. Scudaway.
"Delicate, I hear," said Miss Ratliff.
"Naturally; he nurses them," said Mrs. Scudaway, blowing smoke
half- way across the room through her delicate nostrils.
"I say, Mrs. Scudaway," cried the rapt bore, "don't you ever do
anything but inhale?"
"Yes, I exhale occasionally. No, thanks," as he held forth an ash
tray. Then she flecked the ashes into the fireplace, ten feet away.
"Good Lord, it's a rotten night!" repeated the big man, returning
dismally from a visit to the window. "There's a beastly fog mixed in
with the rain."
"Better blow the fog horn for Henderson," said Ratliff, with a jerk
of his thumb. "He's half seas over already and shipping a lot of
water." Henderson, the convivial member, was on his third siphon.
"I don't care a whoop what McAlpine says," roared an irascible
gentleman on the opposite side of the fireplace; "a man ought to use a
midiron when he gets that kind of a lie. Nobody but an ass would take
a brassie. He's—"
"Just listen to that blethering idiot," said young Rolfe to the
lady beside him. "He ought to be choked."
"I like the way you speak of my husband," she responded gaily.
"Oh, I forgot. He is your husband, isn't he?" Then, after a
moment's easy contemplation of the pretty young woman and a scornful
glance at the golfer: "Lucky, but a very poor watchdog."
"He barks beautifully," resented the young wife, with a loyal
"That's why you're not afraid of him," he said quickly.
"Don't you think he'd bite?"
"They never do."
"Well, you just try him, that's all," remarked the young wife
coldly, rising and moving away, a touch of red in her cheeks.
"I will," he sang out genially, as he crossed his legs and
stretched his feet out to the fire. She looked back with a mirthless
smile on her lips.
The man at the piano struck up the insidious "La Mattchiche,"
suggestive of the Bal Tabarin and other Fourteenth of July devotions.
"Don't play that, Barkley," complained the big man, as every one
began beating time to the fascinating air. "I'm trying to forget
"Can you ever forget that night in Maxim's—" began Mrs. Scudaway.
"I recall the next day more vividly," he interrupted.
"Changing the subject," inserted the amiable bore, his moon-face
beaming, "I see that the Thursdales have opened their place across the
ravine. Isn't it rather early for them to leave town for the summer?"
"They come out every year about this time."
"Lot of people will be opening their places next week. I saw Mrs.
Gorgus to-day. She says they're putting her house in shape—"
"Impossible!" cried Mrs. Tanner. "It hasn't any shape."
"The only thing that could put the Gorgus house in shape is an
earthquake. Who was the architect of that abortion?" demanded Rolfe.
"Denison. He's an impressionist."
"The Thursdales have a new French car. Have you seen it? Eleanor
ran over here in it this afternoon with her Englishman. Showing off
both of her novelties at once, d'ye see?" said Carter, the tennis
"I understand the thing's a go—sure go," said the big man. "In the
fall some time. He's a rather decent chap, too."
"And, what's better, if his brother and his cousin should happen to
die, he'll be a duke."
"If they're as healthy as he seems to be, there'll be nothing doing
A good-looking young fellow, who had been staring at the fire all
evening, moved uneasily in his lounging chair. Several quick glances
were sent to where he sat moodily apart from the others, and then
surreptitious winks and nudges were exchanged.
"Joe is as crazy in love with her as ever, poor devil," whispered
Rolfe. Gradually the group of gossips came closer together over the
table top; the conversation was continued in more subdued tones.
"They're discussing me, damn 'em," said the moody young man to
himself. "I suppose they're pitying me. Damn cats! But I'll show 'em a
thing or two they're not looking for before long." He looked at his
watch for the twentieth time in an hour and scowled at the drenched
window-panes across the way. For some reason this exceedingly nice-
looking young man was in a state of extreme nervousness, a condition
which, luckily for him, he was able to keep within himself.
And this was what Mrs. Scudaway was saying in an urgent undertone
to the half dozen who leaned across the big table: "Joe is a mighty
good sort, and I'm sorry for him. He's been good enough for Eleanor
Thursdale ever since she came out two years ago, and I don't see why
he should cease being good enough for her now. This Englishman hasn't
any more money and he isn't half as good looking. He's English, that's
all. Her mother's crazy to have a look in at some of those London
functions she's read so much about. She's an awful ass, don't you
"Ya-as," said the blase man; "such as she is."
"Mighty hard lines, this thing of being an ordinary American,"
lamented the placid bore.
"One might just as well be called Abraham or Isaac," reflected
"No romantic young lover would live through the first chapter with
either of those names," said pretty Miss Ratliff, who read every novel
that came out.
"Dauntless has been terribly out of humour for the past week or
two," said Carter. "He's horribly cut up over the affair,—grouchy as
blazes, and flocks by himself all the time. That's not like him,
"He's the sweetest boy I know," commented little Mrs. Tanner, whose
husband had barked about the midiron.
"I've heard he's the only man you ever really loved," murmured
Rolfe, close to her ear.
"Nonsense! I've known him all my life," she replied, with quick and
"Trite phrase," scoffed he. "I'll wager my head that every woman
living has uttered that same worn expression a hundred times. 'Known
him all my life!' Ha, ha! It's a stock apology, my dear. Women, good
and bad, trade under that flag. Please, to oblige me, get a fresh
"The most ignorant duffer in the world could lay you a stymie
if—" the loud-voiced golfer was complaining just at that instant.
The man he was addressing was nodding his head politely and at the
same time trying to hear what was being said at the round table.
"Joe Dauntless is good enough for anybody's daughter," vouchsafed
the blase man in corduroys.
"He's a ripping good fellow," again said Mrs. Scudaway.
"Mrs. Thursdale's got an English governess for her kids, an English
butler, an English bull terrier, and a new Cobden-Sanderson binding on
that antique History of England she talks so much about," observed
"And she's beginning to wear her evening gowns on the street in the
morning. Besides, her shoes lob over at the heels," remarked the rangy
"Yes, she's getting to be thoroughly English. I've noticed a
tendency to chirp like a bird when she talks, too."
"That governess is a mighty stunning girl, by the way," said Rolfe.
"She's been over here a year, you know," said Mrs. Scudaway, with
no apparent relevancy.
"Have you heard when Eleanor's engagement is to be announced?"
asked Miss Ratliff.
"I'm not supposed to tell, but I have it on the best authority that
it will be announced next week, and the wedding will take place in
November. I suppose they'll ask Joe Dauntless to be an usher," said
"Hello! Joe's gone outside. He must have heard something we said,"
said Rolfe, setting his highball glass down with a thump.
"Oh, if he had only been educated at Cambridge instead of in
Cambridge," mourned Mrs. Carter.
It was true that the tall, good-looking Mr. Dauntless had left the
room, but not because he had heard the comments of his friends. He was
standing on the wind-swept verandah, peering through the mist toward a
distant splash of light across the ravine to the right of the club
grounds. The fog and mist combined to run the many lights of the
Thursdale windows into a single smear of colour a few shades brighter
than the darkness from which it protruded. Dauntless's heart was
inside that vague, impressionistic circle of colour, but his brain was
very much in evidence on the distant outside. What were the workings
of that eager brain will soon be revealed—to the reader, at least, if
not to the occupants of the rain-bound clubhouse.
A word concerning Dauntless. He was the good-looking son of old
banker Dauntless, who died immediately after his cashier brought ruin
to the concern of which he was president. This blow fell when his son
was in his senior year at Harvard. He took his degree, and then,
instead of the promised trip around the world, he came home and went
to work in the offices of a big brokerage firm. Everybody knew and
liked him. He was a steady, earnest worker, and likewise a sportsman
of the right temperament. Big, fashionable Faraway looked upon him as
its most gallant member; no one cared to remember that he might have
been very rich; every one loved him because he had been rich and was
worthy in spite of that. It was common knowledge that he was
desperately in love with pretty Eleanor Thursdale, daughter of the
eminently fashionable and snobbishly aristocratic widow Thursdale,
mistress of many millions and leader of select hundreds. Moreover, it
was now pretty well known that Mrs. Thursdale had utterly lost sight
of Dauntless in surveying the field of desirable husbands for Eleanor.
She could see nothing but Englishmen, behind whom lurked the historic
London drawing-rooms and British estates. That is how and why young
Windomshire, a most delightful Londoner, with prospects and a peerage
behind him, came to be a guest in her city house, following close upon
a long sojourn in the Bermudas. HE had been chosen; the battle was
over, so far as Eleanor's hand was concerned. What matter if Dauntless
had her heart?
The object of this indifference and scorn gazed long and hard at
the blob of light across the ravine. His heart was beating fast, and
his body tingled with a strange excitement, which made itself manifest
in a mixture of impatient frowns and prophetic smiles.
"If it wasn't such a beastly night," he was muttering in one
breath, and, "Still, it's just the sort of a night we want," in the
next. He was looking at his watch in the light from the window when an
automobile whizzed up the wet gravel drive and came to a stop in front
of the club steps. As Dauntless re-entered the house from the
verandah, a tall young man in a motor coat and goggles came in through
the opposite door. They paused and looked steadily at each other, then
nodded briefly. The crowd of loungers glanced at the two men with
instant curiosity and then breathed easily. The man who was going to
marry Miss Thursdale and the man who wanted to marry her were
advancing to shake hands—a trifle awkwardly, perhaps, but more or
"Rough weather for motoring," remarked Dauntless, nervously.
Windomshire removed his cap and goggles.
"Beastly. I just ran over for something to warm the inside man.
Won't you join me?" His voice was pleasant to the ear, his manner easy
and appealing. He was not so good looking as Dauntless, true, but he
had the air of a thoroughbred in his make-up—from head to foot.
"Sit down here," called Mrs. Scudaway readily, creating a general
shift of chairs. The two men hesitated a moment, nervousness apparent
in both, and then sat down quickly. The Englishman was next Mrs.
Scudaway. "What were you doing out in the rain?" she asked after the
order for drinks had been taken.
"Hurrying to get out of it," he said with evasive good humour, "and
thinking how much nicer your fogs are than ours," he added quickly.
"Anybody come over with you?" asked the bore, agreeably.
"No, they're playing bridge over at Mrs. Thursdale's and that lets
me out. Beastly headache, too. Got out for a breath of air." The
silence that followed this observation seemed to call for further
explanations. "Miss Thursdale retired soon after dinner, wretchedly
under the weather. That rather left me adrift, don't you know. I'm not
playing bridge this year."
"You're not? Why not, pray?"
"Chiefly because of last year. My Mercedes came on from New York
yesterday and I got her out for a spin. Couldn't resist, don't you
know. She's working beautifully."
"There's one thing about a Mercedes that I don't like—and you
don't find it in a Panhard. I've got a Panhard and—" Dobson was
saying with all the arrogance of a motor fiend, when Mrs. Scudaway
ruthlessly and properly cut him off.
"We know all about your Panhard, Dobby. Don't bother. Is Eleanor
really ill, Mr. Windomshire?"
"I had it from her own lips, Mrs. Scudaway."
"Oh, you know what I mean. Is it likely to be serious?"
"Really, I can't say. I offered to go and fetch the doctor in my
car, but she assured me she'd be all right in the morning. What say,
"I didn't speak, Mr. Windomshire."
"I thought you did." More than one at the table had heard Joe's
"I say, Windomshire, what's the name of that pretty governess over
at Thursdale's?" asked the busy bore. "Saw her this morning."
The Englishman looked down and flecked the ashes from his cigarette
"Miss Courtenay," he responded.
"She's a corking pretty girl." Windomshire went through the
unnecessary act of flecking ashes again, but said nothing in reply.
"Are there any more at home like her?" with a fine chuckle in behalf
of his wit.
"She's of a very good family, I believe," said Windomshire, looking
about helplessly. Mrs. Scudaway caught the look in his eyes and
remembered that English gentlemen are not supposed to discuss women
outside of their own set.
"It must be time for the 'bus," she said. "We're all going in by
the 10.10, Mr. Windomshire."
"Can't I take some of you over to the station in my car?"
"The 'bus is dryer, I think, thank you." She led the way, and the
other women followed her upstairs. "We'll be down in time," she
"I'll take some of you men over in Hardy's machine," volunteered
Dauntless. "I've got it out here this week, while he's east."
"Ain't you going in, Joe?" demanded Rolfe.
"Not to-night. I'm staying overnight with my uncle in Cobberly
"The 'bus is good enough for me. I haven't forgotten how you ran
off the Peters Bridge last fall," said Carter.
"Hang it, man, he wasn't thinking about bridges that time," said
the cheerful bore. "There was a girl with him. Elea—Ahem! I say, old
man, what the devil time is it? Time for the confounded 'bus? Don't
want to miss the train." He had caught the scowl of warning from
Carter and, for a wonder, understood.
"By the way," said Windomshire, irrelevantly, "what was the
disturbance over in O'Brien's Lane this morning? Anybody hurt? I was
driving the car up Andrews' Hill when I saw the excitement. Couldn't
make it out. Were all of the horses running away?"
"Running away!" roared the blase man, forgetting his pose for the
first time. "Running away!" and he broke into a roar of laughter.
"Why, that was the advance guard of the Faraway Country Club. Good
Lord, did you see them coming in?"
"My word, they were coming in. But what was the rush? I came over
to- night to see if any of the women had been hurt. I could have sworn
the horses were absolutely unmanageable. They were tearing through
bushes and taking fences they'd never seen before. Egad, I give you my
word, one of the women took the fence at the south end of the golf
course, and she didn't turn out for the bunker at No. 7, either. She
took it like a bird, and straight across the course she flew on a dead
line for the home green. What the deuce—"
"Sh! Windomshire, it will cost you your life if she hears you. That
was Mrs. Scudaway. You don't know what happened, so I'll tell you.
Half a dozen of the women went out with us for a run over the usual
course. They are among our best and oldest hunters, too. Well, they
were keeping right up with the men and having a splendid hunt, when
all of a sudden a real, live fox dashed into view. By gad, sir, he
started a panic. They'd never seen one in their lives, and they set up
a howl that went clear to heaven. And they started for home—well, you
saw 'em on the stretch. It was great! There never has been such riding
in America. Mrs. Hooper lost her hat in the woods, and Mrs. Graves
lost part of her habit coming through that break in the hedge over
there. That skinny Miss Elperson, who never before has had nerve
enough to jump her horse over the lawn hose, cleared the wall that
runs along O'Brien's mill,—nobody's ever done it before,—and she
came in hanging to the horse's mane and yelling like a wild-cat. Gad,
it was two hours before we got 'em quiet and sent'em to town. They
thought it was a tiger, I understand, although some of them held out
for the lion and the hyena. Mrs. Scudaway was game enough to stay and
enjoy the laugh."
"What became of the fox?" demanded the Englishman, his eyes
glistening. At that moment the women came trooping down stairs; the
'bus bell was clanging sleepily.
"The fox? Oh—er—hanged if I know. I—er—"
"Were you riding?"
"Well—er—just a practice run, you know, old man. Er—I say,
ladies, the 'bus waits!"
Two minutes later the 'bus rolled away in the fog and drizzle,
leaving Dauntless and Windomshire alone on the steps.
"Good-night," said the Englishman, after an awkward silence.
"Good-night," was the response. Then, following a brief pause, both
started toward their cars. The next minute they were chugging away, in
the night and the lights in the clubhouse began to go out.
Two hours later a stealthy figure crept across the Thursdale lawn,
lurking behind the rose beds and lilac bushes, finally worming its way
to a dripping but secluded spot under the weather side of the house.
It was past twelve o'clock, but there were still lights in the front
part of the big summer-house. Quiet reigned there, however; the noise
of merry-making came from the servants' quarters overlooking the
ravine. A handful of gravel left an impatient hand and rattled against
the second-story window above. Almost instantaneously the window was
raised and a head came forth.
"Joe?" came a shrill whisper from above.
"What's the matter?" whispered the man below. "I've been waiting
out there for two hours—well, half an hour, at least. Aren't you
"I can't get out," came in a whispered wail. "I've had my hat on
for hours, but—"
"Why can't you get out? Good Lord, you just must!"
"They're playing bridge in the front part of the house and the
servants are having a reunion in the back. Oh, I've been nearly crazy.
What are we to do? Shall I jump?"
"Don't! Is there no way to sneak out?"
"I'm afraid of being seen. It would give everything away if any one
saw me in this automobile rigging at this time of night—and in a rain
like this, too. Oh, dear, dear, I know I shall go mad! You poor
darling, aren't you wet to the skin? I really couldn't help it. I just
couldn't be there at 11.30."
"We'll never make that train—never in the world," groaned
Dauntless. "It's ten miles, and the road's horrible all the way. By
Jove, Nell, you must get out some way. It's now or never. I've got
"Oh, Joe—listen! Do you think you can get a ladder out from under
the verandah? The painters left them there this morning. Look out for
paint, dear. Don't make a noise—not a sound. Mr. Windomshire's room
is just over the porte cochere. For Heaven's sake, don't arouse him."
"Drop your bag down first, dear,—here! I'll catch it."
"I've got to put some things in it first. It isn't quite ready,"
she gasped, darting away from the window.
"'T was ever thus," he muttered in despair. Cautiously he made his
way to the end of the verandah. A close listener might have heard him
snarl "damn" more than once as he tugged away at the painters'
ladders, which had been left there when the rain began. He was a good-
natured chap, but barking his knuckles, bumping his head, and banging
his shins, added to the misfortunes that had gone before, were enough
to demoralise a saint.
He imagined that he was making enough noise to rouse the neighbours
for blocks around. No time was to be lost in self-commiseration,
however. He hurriedly dragged out a ladder, which he managed to place
against the window-sill without accident.
"Here it is," she whispered excitedly. The next instant a heavy
object dropped at his feet with a crash. "Oh!" she exclaimed with
horror, "my perfume bottles!"
"Good Lord!" he gasped.
"I thought you were going to catch it. Oh, here's the ladder. Do
you think I'll fall? Oh, oh!"
"Don't be afraid. Climb out, dear—and hurry!"
She was brave enough in the crisis. While he held the bottom of the
ladder she scrambled through the window and hurried downward. Before
she reached the bottom he lifted her from the ladder in his strong
arms and held her close for a moment.
"Take the ladder down, dearest," she whispered between kisses. "I
don't want mother to know I left that way—not just yet,—nor Mr.
"Come this way," he whispered, after replacing the ladder. "I left
the car just around the corner. Come on, darling, and we'll soon be
safe. Don't make a noise!"
"Goodness, isn't it dark! What a horrid night! Oh, what's that?"
"Gad, I thought I heard something over there in the croquet ground.
Sounded like some one mixing it up with a wicket. Quick! Out this
way!" He had her hand in his, and was rushing ruthlessly through
flower-beds toward the big gate, her travelling bag banging against
his knee with the insistence of a hundredweight.
Panting and gasping for breath, they finally floundered into the
roadway, and dashed off through the muddy surface toward the unseen
She was half fainting with the panic of excitement as he started to
lift her into the tonneau of the car. "No, no! Please let me sit with
you in the front seat," she implored. She had her way, and a moment
later he was up beside her, both wrapped in the oil-cloths, the
drizzle blowing in their hot faces.
"We're off, thank God!" he whispered joyously, as the car leaped
forward under his hand.
"I wonder—oh, dear, how I wonder what mamma will say," she was
crying in his ear.
Dauntless grinned happily as the car shot onward through the
blackness of the night. Its lanterns were dark and cold, but he knew
CHAPTER II. THE FLYERS CATCH THE
No one would have recognised either of them had it been possible to
see them,—so carefully were their heads swathed in their coverings.
She was veiled and he was goggled, and both of them scrooged down in
the seat apprehensively. Hardy's car, borrowed in reality for the
occasion, was performing nobly. It careened through the muddy streets
of the village with a sturdiness that augured well for the enterprise.
Out into the country road, scudding northward, it sped. Dauntless
increased the speed, not to the limit, on account of the fog and
uncertainty of the road, but enough to add new thrills to the girl who
crouched beside him. Neither spoke until they were far from the town
line; the strain was too intense.
"What will everybody say?" she finally cried in his ear—the most
natural question in the world. "And the newspapers? Oh, dear!"
"You're not weakening, are you?" he cried. "Shall I turn back?"
She was silent for half a mile.
"No," she replied at last, "I couldn't climb UP that ladder. And
besides—" with a gasp as the car shot over the railroad tracks,—"we
never could get as good a start as this again."
"Bully for you!" he shouted.
"How far is it to Fenlock, Joe?" she asked, a quaver in her high-
"About seven miles. We'll take the short cut through O'Brien's Lane
and strike Cobberly Road again at the crossroads. Then it will be easy
going. We'll catch the flyer all right, Nell. Everything's arranged.
You go into Car 5 and I in Car 7—"
"With a whole car between us? Heavens!"
"It's safest, dear. There might happen to be some one on board
who'd know us and suspect. Keep your veil down until you get into the
berth. There's not much danger of any one being up at this time of
night, but don't take any chances."
"Goodness, isn't it thrilling! And when do we get to Omegon?"
"Little after seven in the morning. My cousin will meet us in a
hack and drive us straight to the church. His wife will go with us as
the extra witness. By eight o'clock we'll be married. Derby will be on
the train with us. He's a full-fledged preacher now, and he'll marry
us without a whimper."
"Oh," she sighed deliciously, in spite of the jarring of the motor,
"isn't it nice to have old college chums who can be depended upon?"
"Poor old Windomshire," he laughed in the buoyancy of conquest.
"I don't think he'll—" She stopped.
"Care very much," she concluded. He laughed doubtingly.
Mile after mile the car traversed the misty night, jolting over the
ruts in the lane, taking the hills blindly—driven entirely by the
hand of Good Luck.
Suddenly the "honk, honk!" of an invisible motor struck upon their
tense ears, the sound coming from some point ahead in the black,
narrow lane. Dauntless sat straight and peered ahead, sounding his
"I hope no one is coming toward us," he groaned, slowing up
sharply. "We never can pass in this confounded lane. If we get off
into the soft ground—Hello! Here he comes—and no lights either! Hey!
Look out!" He brought his car to an abrupt standstill.
"Where are we, Joe?" she cried.
"Near the crossroads, I'm sure. Curse an idiot that runs around
without lights on a night like this," he growled, forgetting that his
own lamps were dark.
Out of the misty blackness loomed another car, directly ahead. It
had come to a sudden stop not ten feet away. Both cars were tooting
their horns viciously.
"Where are your lights?" roared Dauntless.
"Where are yours?" came back angrily through the fog.
"Good Lord!" gasped Joe, panic-stricken.
"It's Mr. Windomshire," whispered Eleanor, in consternation.
Before she realised what was happening her companion lifted her
bodily over the back of the seat and deposited her in the bed of the
"Hide, dearest," he whispered. "Get under the storm blankets. He
must not see you! I'll—I'll bluff it out some way."
"Wha—what is he doing out here in a machine?" she was whispering
wildly. "He is pursuing us! He has found out!"
In the other car Windomshire—for it was the tall Englishman—was
hoarsely whispering to some one beside him:
"It's Dauntless! Hang him! What's he doing here?" Then followed a
hurried scuffling and subdued whispers. A long silence, fraught with
an importance which the throbbing of the two engines was powerless to
disturb, followed the mutual discovery. Joe's brain worked the
quicker. Disguising his voice as best he could, he shouted through the
"We can't pass here."
"Is—is this Cobberly Road?" cried Windomshire, striving to obtain
what he considered the American twang.
"No, it's not. It's O'Brien's Lane."
Then, after a long silence, "Can't you back out?"
"It's rather—I mean sorter risky, mister. I don't know how far I'd
have to back, doncherknow—er, ahem!"
"The crossroads can't be more than a hundred yards behind you.
Where are you going?"
"I'm going for—a doctor," called Windomshire, hastily.
"Well, then, we ought not to stand here all night," groaned Joe,
his ears open to catch the sound of the locomotive's whistle. There
was no time to be lost.
"I'll—I'll try to back her out," shouted Windomshire. Eleanor
whispered something shrilly and anxiously from the tonneau, and Joe
called out instantly:
"Who is ill?"
"Mrs.—Mrs. Smith," replied the other, bravely.
"Good!" exclaimed Dauntless, heartily. Windomshire was not in the
least annoyed by the lack of sympathy. He began to drive his car
backward by jerks and jolts, blindly trusting to luck in the effort to
reach the road which he had passed in his haste a few minutes before.
Joe was shouting encouragement and pushing slowly forward in his own
machine. The noise of the engines was deafening.
"Hang it all, man, don't blow your horn like that!" roared
Windomshire at last, harassed and full of dread. Joe, in his
abstraction, was sounding his siren in a most insulting manner.
At last Windomshire's wheels struck a surface that seemed hard and
resisting. He gave a shout of joy.
"Here we are! It's macadam!"
"Cobberly Road," cried Joe. "Back off to the right and let me run
in ahead. I'm—I'm in a devil of a hurry."
"By Gad, sir, so am I. Hi, hold back there! Look out where you're
going, confound you!"
"Now for it," cried Joe to Eleanor. "We've got the lead; I'll bet a
bun he can't catch us." He had deliberately driven across the other's
bows, as it were, scraping the wheel, and was off over Cobberly Road
like the wind. "Turn to your right at the next crossing," he shouted
back to Windomshire. Then to himself hopefully: "If he does that,
he'll miss Fenlock by three miles."
They had covered two rash, terrifying miles before a word was
spoken. Then he heard her voice in his ear—an anxious, troubled voice
that could scarcely be heard above the rushing wind.
"What will we do if the train is late, dear? He'll be—be sure to
"She's never late. Besides, what if he does catch us? We don't have
to go back, do we? You're of age. Brace up; be a man!" he called back
"There are too many men as it is," she wailed, sinking back into
"Here we are!" he shouted, as the car whizzed into a murky, dimly
lighted street on the edge of Fenlock, the county seat. "There are the
station lights just ahead."
"Is the train in?" she cried, struggling to her feet eagerly.
"I think not." He was slowing down. A moment later the throbbing
car came to a stop beside the railway station platform. The lights
blinked feebly through the mist; far off in the night arose the faint
toot of a locomotive's whistle.
"We're just in time," he cried. "She's coming. Quick!" He lifted
her bodily over the side of the car, jerked two suitcases from beneath
the curtains, and rushed frantically to the shelter of the platform
"I'll leave you here, dear," he was saying rapidly. "Wait a second;
there is your railroad ticket and your drawing-room ticket, too. I'll
wake Derby when I get on board. I have to run the automobile down to
Henry's garage first. Won't take ten seconds. Don't worry. The train
won't be here for three or four minutes. Get on board and go to sleep.
I'll be two cars ahead."
"Oh, Joe, won't I see you again before we start?" she cried
"I'll be back in a minute. It's only half a block to Henry's. All I
have to do is to leave the car in front of his place. His men will
look after it. It's all understood, dearest; don't worry. I'll be here
before the train, never fear. Stand here in the shadow, dear." He gave
her what might have been a passionate kiss had it not been for the
intervention of veil and goggles. Then he was off to the motor, his
heart thumping frantically. Standing as stiff and motionless as a
statue against the damp brick wall, she heard the automobile leap away
and go pounding down the street. Apparently she was alone on the
platform; the ticking of telegraph instruments came to her anxious
ears, however, and she knew there were living people inside the long,
low building. The experience certainly was new to this tall, carefully
nurtured girl. Never before had she been left alone at such an hour
and place; it goes without saying that the circumstances were unique.
Here she was, standing alone in the most wretched of nights, her heart
throbbing with a dozen emotions, her eyes and ears labouring in a new
and thrilling enterprise, her whole life poised on the social dividing
line. She was running away to marry the man she had loved for years;
slipping away from the knot that ambition was trying to throw over her
rebellious head. If she had any thought of the past or the future,
however, it was lost among the fears and anxieties of the present. Her
soul was crying out for the approach of two objects—Joe Dauntless and
the north-bound flyer.
Her sharp ears caught the sound which told her that the motor had
stopped down the street; it was a welcome sound, for it meant that he
was racing back to the station—and just in time, too; the flyer was
pounding the rails less than half a mile away.
Fenlock was a division point in the railroad. The company's yards
and the train despatcher's office were located there. A huge
round-house stood off to the right; half a dozen big headlights glared
out at the shivering Eleanor like so many spying, accusing eyes. She
knew that all trains stopped in Fenlock. Joe had told her that the
flyer's pause was the briefest of any during the day or night; still
she wondered if it would go thundering through and spoil everything.
Miss Thursdale, watching the approaching headlight, her ears filled
with the din of the wheels, did not see or hear a second motor car
rush up to the extreme south end of the platform. She was not thinking
of Windomshire or his machine. That is why she failed to witness an
As the driver leaped from the car a second man disconnected himself
from the shadows, paused for a moment to take orders from the new
arrival, and then jumped into the seat just vacated. Whereupon the
one-time driver performed precisely the same feat that Dauntless had
performed three minutes before him. He jerked forth a couple of bags
and then proceeded to lift from the tonneau of the car a vague but
animate something, which, an instant later, resolved itself into the
form of a woman at his side.
"I've settled with the company, Meaders," hurriedly announced
Windomshire to the man on the seat. "The car is in your hands now."
"Yes, sir; I understand. Your week is up to-night. Hope it was
satisfactory, sir." The car shot off in the night, almost running down
a man who scudded across the street in its path.
"Just in time, Anne," said Windomshire to the tall, hooded figure
beside him. "Thank God, we didn't miss it."
"Hasn't it been good sport, Harry?" cried the young woman, with an
unmistakably English inflection. "It's just like a book."
"Only more so," he observed. "This has really happened, you know.
Things never really happen in books, don't you know. You've not lost
your tickets, dear?"
"No; they do that only in books. Really, I'm trembling like a leaf.
I can't realise that it is all taking place as we planned, and that I
am to be your wife after all. Ah, Harry! isn't it splendid?"
"'Gad, little woman, I am the one who hasn't the right to realise.
By Jove, I didn't give myself credit for the cleverness to fool every
one so neatly. Really, don't you know, however, I feel a bit sorry for
Miss Thursdale. She's a ripping good sort, and I'm sorry on that
Miss Courtenay—erstwhile governess—took hold of the lapels of his
raincoat and looked seriously up into his face. "Are you sure you'll
never regret giving her up for me—with all her money?"
"Oh, I say, Anne dear, it's I who am running away, not you. I've
always wanted you—all my life. I've been something of a cad—"
"It wasn't your fault. Mrs. Thursdale was bound to have you. It's
"It hurts my pride to say it, but hanged if I think—er—Eleanor
was very strong for the match. I've a notion she was bullied into it."
"I'm quite sure of it."
"You're doing her a good turn, my dear. You see, I couldn't love
her, and I'd probably have beaten her and all that. It wasn't as if I
had to marry her for her money. Deuce take it, I've got a few pounds
of my own."
"I'm only Anne Courtenay, the governess."
"You'll be Lady Windomshire some day, my word for it—if the other
chaps manage to die, God bless 'em. I say, here's the train. Good-
night, dear, up you go! I'll go up ahead. Don't forget! The wedding's
at noon to-morrow."
The long, shadowy train came to a stop. He elbowed the porter aside
and helped her up the steps. Neither of them noticed the vague figure
which rushed across the platform and into the second car below.
"Where's the luggage car?" shouted Windomshire to the porter.
"I mean the baggage van."
"Way up front, sir. Where they're puttin' on the trunks, sir."
Swinging his travelling bag almost at arm's length, the long
Englishman raced forward. His own and Miss Courtenay's pieces had come
over during the afternoon, skilfully smuggled out of the Thursdale
house. Just as he reached the baggage truck a panting, mud-covered
individual dashed up from the opposite direction, madly rushing for
the train. They tried to avoid a collision, but failed. A second later
the two men were staring into each other's eyes, open-mouthed and
"Hello!" gasped Dauntless, staggered.
"What the devil, sir, do—My word! It's Dauntless!" sputtered
"Where is she?" shouted Joe, convinced that his rival had captured
his runaway fiancee and was now confronting him for explanation.
"Confound you, sir, it's none of your business," roared
Windomshire, confident that Dauntless had been sent by Mrs. Thursdale
to intercept him in his flight with the governess. "Damn your
"Stand aside, Windomshire," exclaimed Joe, white with anger and
dread. "I'm going to find her. What have you done with her?"
"You sha'n't interfere, Dauntless," cried Windomshire, squaring
himself. "She's going to be my wife, and—"
"I guess NOT! Get out of my way, or—"
"She's on that train, confound you, and I'm going away with her
whether you like it or not—or anybody else, for that matter," said
Windomshire, refusing to budge an inch.
"Well, you'll have a damned hard time getting rid of me," roared
Joe, trying to break past his rival. A baggage-man leaped between them
in time to prevent blows. He held the angry, mistaken rivals apart,—
rivals no longer, if they only knew. "Let go of me! Hold this fellow
and I'll give you a hundred dollars—hold him till the train goes!"
"Hold me, will you? My word! What is this? A highway robbery!"
Both men broke away from the baggage-man and rushed frantically
down the line of cars, each trying to hold the other back. Joe
succeeded in grasping the handrail of the first sleeping-car, but his
adversary pulled him away. An instant later they were struggling
across the station platform, clasped in savage and hysterical combat.
The station employees were rushing up to separate them when the train
began to move slowly away.
[Illustration: Eleanor was still sitting ... stiff and silent]
They came to their senses a moment later to find themselves held
firmly by brawny peacemakers, the black cars rushing swiftly by
Forgetting the battle so inopportunely begun, they started off
madly in pursuit, shouting, yelling, commanding. But the flyer was
deaf to their cries, callous against their tears. It whistled off into
the north, carrying two trusting, nervous young women, who were secure
in the belief that their liege lords to be were aboard, utterly
unconscious of the true state of affairs. In the drawing-room of Car 5
Eleanor was still sitting, with her veil down, her raincoat saturating
the couch on which she sat stiff and silent. Anne Courtenay in Car 7
was philosophically preparing for bed, absolutely confident that the
Englishman she had loved for years was not going to fail her.
Windomshire, alas, came to grief in his useless pursuit. He fell
off the end of the platform and rolled in the mud, half stunned. When
he painfully picked himself up, he saw Dauntless sitting on the edge
of the walk, his haggard, staring face lighted by the glare of a
sympathetic lantern. The station agent was offering vain but well-
"Good God!" he heard Joe groan, but he did not catch the words,
"she's gone without me!"
The next instant the distracted eloper was on his feet demanding a
"I've got to have it!" he shouted.
Windomshire's wits returned. Why not have a special too? It was the
"You can order one for me, too," he exclaimed. "At once. It's
CHAPTER III. THE MORNING AFTER
The sun was peeping over the hilltops and shooting his merry glance
across the rain-soaked lowlands when Eleanor Thursdale awoke from her
final snatch of slumber. A hundred feverish lapses into restless
subconsciousness had marked the passage of nearly as many miles of
clatter and turmoil. Never before had she known a train to be so
noisy; never before had she lain awake long enough to make the natural
discovery. It seemed hours before she dropped off in the first
surrender to sleep; it seemed hours between the succeeding falls. Her
brain and heart were waging the most relentless battle against peace
and security. She KNEW Joe Dauntless was but two cars ahead, and yet
she wondered if were really there; she wondered and was troubled—oh,
Daylight was creeping in beneath the curtain of the window. She
stretched her fine, tired young body, and for the first time really
felt like going to sleep. The perversity of early morning! Gradually
it dawned upon her that the train was not moving; as far back as she
could recall in her now wakeful spell it occurred to her that the cars
had been standing still and that everything was as quiet as death. She
looked at her watch; it was six o'clock.
"Goodness!" she thought, sitting up suddenly, "what is the matter?"
The curtain flew up and her startled eyes blinked out upon the glaring
There was not a house in sight as far as her eyes could range
forward and behind. Instead, a wide sweep of farm lands partially
submerged by the flood water of many rains. Far away there were brown
hills and a long army of tall trees standing at attention,—a bleak
prospect despite the cheery intentions of the sun, which lurked behind
the hills. Despondent cornstalks of last year's growth stood guard
over the soggy fields; drenched, unhappy tufts of grass, and forlorn
but triumphant reeds arose here and there from the watery wastes,
asserting their victory over a dismantled winter. It was not a
glorious view that met the gaze of the bride on her wedding morn.
Strangest of all, the train was so quiet, so utterly inactive, that
an absurd feeling of loneliness grew upon her, gradually developing
into the alarming certainty that she was the only living person in the
world. Then she heard men's voices outside of the window; her relief
was almost hysterical. Scrambling out of the berth, she began a hasty,
nervous toilet. Three sharp pushes on the button brought the company's
ladies' maid—advertised as a part of the luxury and refinement which
made the flyer "the finest train in the world."
"What has happened? Where are we?" she demanded, upon the entrance
of the sleepy young coloured woman.
"The Pride River bridge is washed away, ma'am," said the maid. "We
can't go on no furder."
"Dear me," sighed Eleanor, turning to be buttoned at the back. "And
where is Pride River bridge—or where was it, I mean?"
"'Bout twenty mile south of Omegon, ma'am—miss. The river's a
sight— highest 'at it's ever been known. It's all over the bottoms.
This here train came mighty nigh running into it, too. A boy flagged
it just in time, 'bout five o'clock."
"Have we been standing here a whole hour?"
"Yes, miss; right here. They say we can't go back till the section
boss has examined the track in Baxter's Cut. Seems as though there's
some danger of a washout back yander."
"Do you mean to say we are likely to stay here indefinitely?"
gasped Eleanor. "Ouch! Be careful, please!"
"Oh, it won't be long. The porter says they've sent back over the
line to telegraft for the section men."
"Good Heavens, is there no station here?"
"No, ma'am; five miles back. They's one jest across the river, but
it might as well be in Africa."
"Be quick, please, and then send the conductor to me—and the
porter too," urged Eleanor, in distress.
The porter was the first to arrive.
"Porter, will you go to Car 7 and see if the occupant of lower 4 is
awake? I am quite sure that is right, but if it should happen to be
wrong, please let me know at once."
"Yes, miss; and what shall I tell her?"
"Ahem! It's a—a gentleman. Ask him to—to come to the rear end of
the train. That's all. Oh, conductor, how soon will we be on the track
again?" The conductor was standing in the door, evidently impressed by
the summons from the drawing-room.
"We're not off the track, madam. There is no danger—just a little
delay. I have telegraphed to see if I can have a relief train come
down from Omegon and pick us up after we've been ferried across the
"This is the very worst road I've ever travelled over—the very
worst," was Eleanor's natural complaint. "When will that get us to
"We should be there in an hour after leaving here."
"And when did you say we'd leave here?"
"I didn't say. I don't know."
"Who does know, if you don't?" demanded Eleanor.
"God, I presume," observed the harassed conductor, turning away
with the realisation that he had erred in coming to her in the first
place. The porter returned at that moment.
"Nobody in that section, ma'am. It was sold, but the party didn't
"Good Heavens, you—but he DID show up. I—I know he did. Look
again. Try—but wait! Ask for Mr. Dauntless. Ask quietly, please."
Her nerves at highest tension, Miss Thursdale made her way toward
the rear platform of the train. She passed down the curtained aisles
of two coaches, wondering how people could sleep so soundly in a
crisis like this. A porter politely opened a door and she slipped out
upon the last platform. As far as the eye could reach stretched the
roadbed and its telegraph poles, finally disappearing in the haze of
the morning. Wide-spread flood, soaking the flat—
A sharp cry of amazement came from the track just below her. She
looked down and into the eyes of Anne Courtenay, the governess. For a
full minute they stared blankly at each other, apparently bereft of
all the agencies that fall to the lot of woman.
"Miss Courtenay!" finally came from the lips of the girl on the
"Miss Thursdale!" murmured Anne, reaching out to support herself
against the bumper. Other words failed to come for the time being. In
sheer despair, neither could accomplish more than a pallid smile. To
the reader is left the privilege of analysing the thoughts which
surged through the brains of the bewildered young women,—the fears,
the doubts, the resentments.
"Where—where have you been?" at last fell from Miss Thursdale's
"Been?" repeated Miss Courtenay, vaguely. "Oh, yes; I've been
taking a walk—a constitutional. I always do."
Eleanor stared harder than ever. "All this distance?" she murmured.
"Down the track for half a mile, Miss Thursdale."
"Are—were you on this train?" ejaculated Eleanor.
"Yes—but I—I—" stammered Anne, her face growing red with rising
resentment. "I did not think this of you."
"What do you mean? It is—May I ask why you are here, Miss
Courtenay? It is most extraordinary."
"It is very easily explained," said Miss Courtenay, after a
moment's battle with veracity. "My aunt is very ill in Vancouver." To
herself she was saying: "I must keep her from really seeing Harry. She
knows what he has done—in heaven's name, how could she have found it
out?— and she is waiting to catch us if she can. She has followed us!
Thank goodness, I've seen her first."
Eleanor was not blessed with the possibility of such an explanation
for Anne's presence; she could only believe that the governess had
been suddenly called to the bedside of her aunt—a real person, she
happened to know, and very rich. But how was she to account for her
own astonishing departure from home? Miss Courtenay had seen her at
dinner; nothing had been said regarding "an unexpected journey." In
truth, Eleanor remembered with inflexible accuracy that she had
announced her intention to go to bed with a headache. Then, what must
Miss Courtenay be thinking at this very instant?
An inspiration came to her like a flash. "I—I am running away,
Miss Courtenay," she cried, with a brave attempt to appear naive.
"I don't understand," murmured poor Anne.
"Of course you don't," said Eleanor, inspiration heaping itself up
within her. "Not really, you know, but just for a few days' rest.
Mother thinks I'm looking wretchedly. We didn't say anything about it-
-except to Mr. Windomshire, of course. He knows. Perhaps he will run
up to Omegon in a day or two to see me. It's very quiet there, and
I'll get a good rest. The hotel is delightful—facing the lake. And
the bathing's good. Dear me, I'm so sorry about your aunt." Miss
Courtenay's eyes actually blinked with perplexity. This was a most
staggering bit of news. Eleanor flushed painfully under the gaze of
the other; utter rout followed. She stammered some flimsy excuse and
dashed back into the car. To herself she was crying: "I must find Joe
and tell him to keep out of sight. Oh, how awful this is!"
Just inside the door she met her porter.
"There's nobody named Dauntless on the train, miss. A gentleman who
said he was his friend thinks he missed the train perhaps."
"He—he—oh, I see!" said Eleanor, suddenly perceiving method in
Joe's reluctance to answer to his own name. "Thank you. That's all."
Then, to herself: "He has seen Miss Courtenay, and she HASN'T seen
him,— that's plain." She handed the porter a coin.
"I went to the berth you mentioned, ma'am, and I asked through the
curtains: 'Is Mr. Dauntless in here?' There was a lady in the upper,
miss, an'—an'—well, I'll never forget what she said to me." Eleanor
had gone before he concluded, determined to unearth her cautious
lover, if possible.
Anne caught the porter before he could follow.
"See here, porter," she whispered softly, "go to Car 5, section 6,
and call its occupant. Tell him NOT to get up. Do you understand? NOT
to get up!"
It goes without saying, of course, that all efforts, secret or
otherwise, failed to locate the missing men. The distracted brides,
each trying to run away from the other in a way, were in a state of
collapse, necessarily subdued but most alarming. The Rev. Henry Derby,
a nice-looking young fellow, who looked more like a tennis player than
a minister of the gospel, eventually identified his old friend's ladye
faire, and introduced himself with a discreetness that proved him to
have been in college at the proper period and in a somewhat different
class from that which he now sought to lead. In the privacy of her
drawing-room the bewitching but distressed young woman discussed the
situation with the man who had been chosen to perform the clandestine
ceremony in the far-away town of Omegon. Derby, coming on from his
eastern home in loyal acquiescence to his friend's request, had
designedly taken this train, it being understood that Dauntless would
board it at Fenlock with his fair conspirator. We all know why
Dauntless failed to perform his part of the agreement; Derby, with the
perspicuity of a college man, finally advanced a reason for his
inexplicable failure to appear. Eleanor had begun tearfully to accuse
him of abandoning her at the last moment; Mr. Derby indignantly
scouted the idea. When she related their chase in the motor and their
escape from Windomshire, he formed his conclusions, and they were in
the main remarkably correct.
"I'm afraid, Miss Thursdale, that your disappointed lover, our
ancient enemy, the Englishman, was not to be overcome so neatly. Has
it occurred to you that he may have reached Fenlock before the train
left, and that he is the explanation for Joe's non-appearance?"
"You—you don't mean that he has killed—" she was gasping,
growing whiter and whiter. He hastened to reassure her.
"Oh, no; not so bad as that. But it is possible and quite probable
that he—if, as you say, he was on to your—I should say, aware of
your flight, it is probable that he succeeded in detaining Joe in
Fenlock. That would—" "Impossible! Joe wouldn't let him!" she cried
"Perhaps Joe couldn't help himself. Such things happen. At any
rate, you'll understand, the despised enemy could have—"
"Mr. Windomshire is not a despised enemy. He's a VERY nice man, Mr.
Derby," she interrupted.
"Certainly, Miss Thursdale. What I meant to say was, that he was
morally sure of preventing the wedding if he could only keep you far
enough apart. Now that is probably what he has done. You can't marry
Joe in Omegon or anywhere else unless he is there and not in Fenlock."
"I see. Well, I'll go back to Fenlock!" she exclaimed emphatically,
a little line of determination and stubbornness settling about the
erstwhile trembling lips.
"I admire your loyalty," he said warmly. "Just at present, however,
we are water-bound here, and we've got to make the best of it. I fancy
Joe will telegraph before long."
"If—if he hasn't been hurt. Oh, Mr. Derby, they may have fought.
It would be just like them. It may be dreadfully serious. You don't
know as much about men as I do. They're terribly—"
"Please don't worry, Miss Thursdale," he said, smiling in
recollection of his football days. "You'll find there's been nothing
bloody about all this. The delay is vexatious, but only temporary, I'm
"I'll marry Joe Dauntless now if it has to be delayed a hundred
years," she cried, her eyes flashing.
During the next half-hour poor Derby ran errands, carried messages
and complaints to every one of the train men, finally administering
smelling salts when it occurred to Eleanor that Joe might have fallen
off the train during the night.
In the meantime Anne Courtenay was having a sad half-hour of it.
She had no one to turn to, no one to think it all out for her; she was
alone and in great despair. The porter had failed to find the tall
Englishman; the conductor had been equally unsuccessful; she herself
had searched in vain. His trunks and hers were in the baggage car, she
found, but there was no sign of the man himself. She was a self-
reliant, sensible young woman, accustomed to the rigours of the world,
but this was quite too overwhelming. The presence on the train of the
girl that she had, to all intents and purposes, cruelly deceived, did
not add to her comfort. As a matter of fact, she was quite fond of
Eleanor; they were warm friends despite the vagaries of love. Miss
Courtenay, among other things, began to wonder, as she sat in her
tumbled berth, if retribution had more to do with this than chance.
"Could he have fallen off the train?" she wondered, with a sudden
chill of apprehension. The next instant she was calling to the porter.
"Send the conductor to me at once. My friend has fallen off the train-
-out of his window, perhaps. I am quite sure of it. I want an engine
to go back and look for him. Hurry, please! don't stand there
The Pullman conductor came up at that moment.
"Are you the young lady who was asking for Mr. Dauntless?" he
"Dauntless?" she murmured. "No, I'm asking for an engine. Have
"There's another young lady asking for an engine, too, madam. It's
"Am I to understand that I shall have to walk?—Oh," with a sudden
start, "is—is there a Mr. Dauntless missing too?"
"Seems so. He's gone."
Anne dropped the curtains in his face, and then stared at them for
a long time. Gradually she began to comprehend. A panic of fear came
"They have met somewhere and quarrelled! Mr. Dauntless was
jealous— terribly so. He may have—good Heavens!—he may have killed
him in the mistaken idea that Harry was running away with Eleanor.
She's on this very train! It's perfectly natural. Porter," she called,
"there has been foul play!"
"Gee, miss! That's what the other lady is saying!"
"The other—then it is a double murder! Don't laugh! It's—it's—"
"Don't cry, miss; it's all right." She looked at him piteously for
a moment, and then smiled at the absurdity of her conjecture.
A tousled head came from between the curtains of the upper berth
opposite, and a sleepy, hoarse voice demanded:
"How long will we be here? What's the latest?"
"We're on time, sah," replied the porter, from sheer force of
"The devil we are! Say, I've got to be in Omegon by ten o'clock.
I'll sue this infernal road," snarled the irascible party, snapping
the curtains together. It transpired that he was an agent for a
medical college, travelling to Omegon on a most unwholesome but
edifying mission. He was going up to take possession of the body of a
man who had willed his carcass to the school. As the poor chap was not
yet dead, but hopelessly ill, the desire for haste on the part of the
agent may be misunderstood. It seems, however, that there was some
talk of interference by relatives—and the disquieting prospect of a
"If I were you, miss," counselled the porter, "I'd go out and take
a little walk. The sun is up, an' it's fine. The relief train will be
here 'fore long—an' you all will be rowed acrost the river. Don't
"But I want to go back the way I came," expostulated Anne, feebly.
"I can't go on without—until I know what has happened to—to Mr.
Windomshire." She took his advice, however, and made her way to the
A number of disgruntled passengers were now abroad, and complaining
bitterly of the delay. There was no hope of breakfast until the train
reached Omegon, where a dining car was waiting. She stood on the
platform and looked gloomily back over the long stretch of roadbed.
"Isn't that an engine coming?" some one asked excitedly at her
side. She turned and found Miss Thursdale, attended by a gentleman, to
whom the question was addressed.
"I believe—yes, it is, Miss Thursdale."
"Then—then we'll all be taken back to the city," she said
"I fancy not. It's probably bringing relief."
"They—they may be bringing bad news," Eleanor groaned. "Oh, Miss
Courtenay, how do you do—again? How is your—your grandmother, wasn't
"I—I—yes, I think so—I mean, I think she's no better. They may
be bringing his body!" said the other girl, her eyes fixed on the
"Oh!" almost screamed Eleanor, and stared wildly without words.
A brakeman far down the track was flagging the locomotive; it came
to a stop, and several men were seen climbing down from the cab. Two
of them eventually disengaged themselves from the little group and
hurried forward. One was carrying a suitcase, and both walked as
though they were either in pain or attended by extreme old age.
"Why—why—" gasped Eleanor, "it's Joe!"
"And—yes, thank God, it's Har—Mr. Windomshire," almost shrieked
Then they turned and looked at each other in confusion. Neither had
the courage to carry out the desire to fly to the arms of the man she
longed to see more than all else in the world. They felt themselves to
be caught red-handed.
CHAPTER IV. MRS. VAN TRUDER INTRUDES
None but the most eager, loving eyes could possibly have recognised
the newcomers. It is not unlikely that the remaining passengers
mistook them for tramps. The rivals, morbidly suspicious of each
other, taciturn to the point of unfriendliness, had indeed chartered a
locomotive—not jointly by intention, but because of provoking
necessity. There was but one engine to be had. It is safe to say that
while they travelled many sore and turbulent miles in close proximity
to each other, neither felt called upon to offer or to demand an
Five hours in the tender of an engine had done much to reduce them
to the level of the men in the cab, so far as personal appearance was
concerned. They were still wearing their raincoats, much crumpled and
discoloured; their faces were covered with coal dust; they were wet,
bedraggled, and humble to the last degree. The American, naturally,
was the one who clung to his suitcase; he had foreseen the need for a
change of linen. They came toward the train with hesitating, uncertain
steps. If their souls were gladdened by the sight of the two young
women, general appearances failed to make record of it. It was noted
by those who watched their approach that once both of them stopped
short and seemed to waver in their determination to advance. That was
when each became suddenly aware of the presence of an unexpected girl.
Naturally, the Englishman was seriously staggered. The unexplained
Eleanor appeared before his very eyes as an accusing nemesis; it is no
wonder that his jaw dropped and his befuddled brain took to whirling.
The girls, less regardful of appearances, climbed down from the
platform and started forward to meet their knights-errant. The reader
may readily appreciate the feelings of the quartette. Not one of them
knew just precisely how much or how little the others knew; they were
precariously near to being lost in the labyrinth. Something intangible
but regular urged Windomshire to be politic; he advanced to meet
Eleanor as if it were her due. Anne fell back, perplexed and hurt.
"Hang it all," thought Joe, rage in his heart, "he beat me to her,
after all. He'll be enough of a damned ass to try to kiss her before
all these people, too." Whereupon, he closed his eyes tightly. When he
opened them, Miss Courtenay was walking beside him and asking
questions about the weather. Her cheeks were very pink. Windomshire
had awkwardly clasped the hand of Miss Thursdale, muttering something
not quite intelligible, even to himself. Eleanor was replying with
"How nice of you to come. Where are you going?"
"Surprised, are you?" he was floundering. "Charmed. Ha, ha! By
Jove, Eleanor—er—I heard you were booked by this train and I—I
tried to catch it for a bit of a ride with you. I missed it, don't you
know. I'll—I'll wager you don't know what I did in my desperation."
"I couldn't guess," she said, trying to catch Joe's eye.
"I hired a private engine, 'pon my word, and then telegraphed ahead
to stop this train!"
"Di—did you do that?" she gasped, forgetting that the bridge was
Dauntless, meantime, was trying to explain to Miss Courtenay. She
already had told him that her aunt was ill in Vancouver, and he had
smiled politely and aimlessly.
"I'm on my way to M——. Sudden trip, very important," he was
saying. "Missed the train—I dare say it was this one—so I took an
engine to follow up. Had to ride in the tender."
"It must have been important," she ventured.
"It was. I—" then with an inspired plunge—"I was due at a
"How unfortunate! I hope you won't miss it altogether."
Joe caught his breath and thought: "Now what the devil did she mean
by that? Has Eleanor told her the whole story?"
It must not be supposed that these young persons were lacking in
the simpler gifts of intelligence; they were, individually, beginning
to put two and two together, as the saying goes. They were grasping
the real situation—groping for it, perhaps, but with a
clear-sightedness and acumen which urged that a cautious tongue was
expedient. If the duplicity was really as four-handed as it seemed,
there could be no harm in waiting for the other fellow to blunder into
exposure. Nothing could be explained, of course, until the
conspirators found opportunity to consult privately under the new
order of assignment.
"How romantic!" Eleanor said, as she walked stiffly ahead with her
"Eh?" was his simple remark. He was suddenly puzzled over the fact
that he HAD caught up to the train. There was something startling in
that. "Oh—er—not at all romantic, most prosaic. Couldn't get a
coach. Been here long?"
"Since five o'clock."
"I—I suppose you got up to see the sunrise."
"No, to see the river rise," she replied. "The bridge is gone." He
was silent for twenty paces, trying to recall what he had said about
"You don't mean it! Then I daresay they haven't got my telegram
stopping the train."
Dauntless had just said to Anne, in a fit of disgust:
"Windomshire's got a lot of nerve. That was my engine, you know. I
Windomshire went on to say, careful that Joe was quite out of
hearing: "Mr. Dauntless was quite annoying. He got into my engine
without an invitation, and I'm hanged if he'd take a hint, even after
I hired a stoker to throw a spadeful of coal over him. I don't know
why he should be in such a confounded hurry to get to—what's the name
of the place? I—er—I really think I must go and speak to Miss
Courtenay, Eleanor. She—er—looks ill."
"It's her grandmother who is ill—not she. But, yes! Please try to
cheer her up a bit, Harry. She's terribly upset."
"I'm sure she is," muttered he, dropping back with more haste than
gallantry. Mr. Dauntless sprang forward with equal alacrity, and wrong
was right a moment later.
"Joe dear," whispered Eleanor, "I've been nearly crazy. What
happened?" He was vainly trying to clasp her hand.
"Nell, he's on to us. I wish I knew just why Miss Courtenay is
here. Lord, I'll never forget that ride."
"It was just like you to take advantage of his engine."
"His engine!" exploded Joe, wrathfully. Securely separated from the
others, the elopers analysed the situation as best they could. Two
separate enterprises struggled earnestly for an outcome. On the
surface, the truth seemed plain enough: it was quite clear to both
parties that the extraordinary chain of coincidence was not entirely
due to Providence. There was something of design behind it all. The
staggering part was the calamitous way in which chance had handled
their dear and private affairs.
"He doesn't know that you were in my automobile," concluded
Dauntless, almost at the same time that a like opinion was being
expressed by Windomshire. "Are you willing to go on with it, Nell? Are
you scared out of it?"
"No, indeed," she exclaimed, perplexity leaving her brow. "At first
I feared he might have telegraphed to mother, but now I am sure he
hasn't. He was not following me at all. He is in love with Anne, and
he was surreptitiously off for a part of the distance with her. He
really doesn't want to marry me, you know."
"Well, he isn't going to, you see. By all that is holy, nothing
shall stop us now, dear. We'll go on to Omegon and carry out
everything just as we planned. If he's running off after another girl,
it's time you put an end to him. Don't give him a thought."
"Don't you think we'd better talk it over with Mr. Derby? He
discreetly disappeared when he saw it was you."
"Right! Let's hunt him out. By Jove, we can have him marry us right
"No," she cried firmly, "it MUST be in a church." He could not move
her from that stand.
"Oh, if we could only get across that confounded river!" scolded
Joe, as they went off in search of Derby.
Windomshire was slowly reconciling himself to the fact that Eleanor
loved Dauntless, but he could not get it out of his head that she
still expected to marry as her mother had planned.
"See here, Anne, it's all very well to say that she loves
Dauntless. Of course she does. But that isn't going to prevent her
from marrying me. I don't believe she was running away with him, don't
you know. He was simply following her. That's the way these Americans
do, you know. Now, the question is, won't she think it odd that you
and I should happen to be doing almost the same thing?"
"To be sure she will," said Anne, coolly. "She has a very bad
opinion of me. I'm sure she doesn't believe you expect to marry me."
"By Jove, dear, it sounds rather dreadful, doesn't it?" he groaned.
"But of course you ARE going to marry me, so what's the odds? Then she
can marry Dauntless to her heart's content. I say, are we never to get
away from this beastly place?"
"They are to row us across the river in boats. We'll be taken up by
another train over there and carried on. Poor Mr. Dauntless, he looks
"By Jove, I feel rather cut up about him. He ought to have her,
Anne. He's a decent chap, although he was da—very unreasonable last
night. I like him, too, in spite of the fact that he kicked coal over
me twice in that confounded bin. He was good enough to take a cinder
out of my eye this morning, and I helped him to find his watch in the
coal-bin. I say, Anne, we might get a farm wagon and drive to some
village where there is a minister—"
"No, Harry! you know I've set my heart on being married in a
church. It seems so much more decent and—regular; especially after
what has just happened."
A porter appeared in the rear platform and shouted a warning to all
those on the ground.
"Get yo' things together. The boats'll be ready in ten minutes,
ladies and gen'l'men." The locomotive uttered a few sharp whistles to
reinforce his shouts, and everybody made a rush for the cars.
The conductor and other trainmen had all they could do to reassure
the more nervous and apprehensive of the passengers, many of whom were
afraid of the swollen, ugly river just ahead. Boats had been sent up
from a town some miles down the stream, and the passengers with their
baggage, the express, and the mail pouches were to be ferried across.
Word had been received that a makeshift train would pick them up on
the other side, not far from the wrecked bridge, and take them to
Omegon as quickly as possible.
It was also announced that the company would be unable to send a
train beyond Omegon and into the northwest for eight or ten hours,
owing to extensive damage by the floods. Repairs to bridges and
roadbed were necessary. In the meantime, the passengers would be cared
for at the Somerset Hotel in Omegon, at the company's expense. The
company regretted and deplored, etc.
There was a frightful clamour by the through passengers, threats of
lawsuits, claims for damage, execrations, and groans. In time,
however, the whole company went trooping down the track under the
leadership of the patient conductor. It was a sorry, disgruntled
parade. Everybody wanted a porter at once, and when he could not get
one, berated the road in fiercer terms than ever; men who had always
carried their own bags to escape feeing a porter, now howled and raged
because there was not an army of them on the spot. Everybody was
constantly "damning" the luck.
The conductor led his charges from the track through a muddy
stubble- field and down to a point where half a dozen small rowboats
were waiting among the willows. Dauntless and Eleanor were well up in
front, their faces set resolutely toward Omegon. For some well-defined
reason, Windomshire and Anne were the last in the strange procession.
The medical college agent, the tall and sombre Mr. Hooker, was the
first man into a boat. He said it was a case of life or death.
Eleanor looked backward down the long file of trailers, a little
smile on her lips.
"They are not all going away to be married, are they, Joe?" she
said, taking note of the unbroken array of sour countenances.
"It looks like a funeral, my dear. Look at the cadaverous
individual beside the con—Heavens, Nell, isn't that—by George, it
is! It's old Mrs. Van Truder! Back there about half-way—the fat one.
See her? Good Lord!"
Eleanor turned pale and the joyous light fled from her eyes.
"Oh, dear! I forgot that the Van Truders spend all their summers at
Omegon. And it is she—and he, too. Oh, Joe, it's just awful!"
"She's the worst old cat in town," groaned Dauntless. "We can't
escape her. She'll spot us, and she'll never let go of us. I don't
mind him. He's so near-sighted he couldn't see us. But she!"
"She will suspect, Joe—she's sure to suspect, and she'll watch us
like a hawk," whispered the distressed Eleanor. The Van Truders lived
in the same block with the Thursdales in town. "She'll telegraph to
"That reminds me," muttered Joe, looking at his watch. "I had hoped
to telegraph to your mother about this time."
"She will forgive us," said she, but she failed in her assumption
of confidence. As a matter of fact she felt that her mother would not
"Well, you left a note pinned on your pillow," said he, as if that
covered all the sins.
"Yes, but it was directed to Miss Courtenay, asking her to break it
gently to mamma," said she, dismally.
They had reached the edge of the river by this time and others came
up with them. For a while they managed to keep out of old Mrs. Van
Truder's range of vision, but her sharp eyes soon caught sight of them
as they tried to slip into a boat that was already crowded to its full
"Why, Eleanor Thursdale!" shouted the old lady, her aristocratic
eyes almost crossing in their stare of amazement.
"Discovered!" groaned Dauntless to the willows.
Mrs. Van Truder pounced upon Eleanor and, between personal
questions and impersonal reflections upon non-government railways,
gave her a dizzy quarter of an hour. She ignored Mr. Dauntless almost
completely,—quite entirely when she discovered Mr. Windomshire in the
background. Little old Mr. Van Truder, in his usual state of
subjection, was permitted to study the scenery at close range.
"I was so afraid you'd marry that horrid Dauntless fellow,"
whispered Mrs. Van Truder. Eleanor gave vent to a constrained laugh.
"How perfectly preposterous!"
"When are you to be married, my dear?"
"At once—I mean, quite soon. Isn't the scenery beautiful, Mr. Van
Truder?" asked Eleanor in desperation.
"It's too far away. I can't see it," grumbled the old gentleman.
"He's so very near-sighted," explained his wife. "Do you expect to
stay long at the Somerset?"
"It all depends," said Eleanor, with a glance at Dauntless.
"Isn't that your governess with Mr. Windomshire? I can't be
"Yes, she's going out to spend a few weeks with a rich aunt,—her
sister's mother, I think."
"How's that?" gasped the old lady.
"I mean her mother's sister."
"It sounded very strange, my dear."
"About the mother having a sister?" guessed old Mr. Van Truder,
sharply. "Seems all right to me."
"They are going to row us across the river," volunteered Eleanor,
"Good-morning, Mr. Windomshire," called Mrs. Van Truder.
Windomshire started and got very red in the face. Miss Courtenay's bow
went unnoticed by the old lady. In sheer despair, the Englishman
turned to Dauntless, a fellow-sufferer.
"I say, old man," he began nervously, "I'd like to ask a favour of
"Go ahead—anything I can do," said the other, blankly. Windomshire
continued in lowered tones:
"Deucedly awkward, but I forgot my bags at Fenlock. I see you've
got yours. Would you mind lending me a fresh shirt and a collar, old
"Gladly," cried Joe, very much relieved. "Will you take them now?"
starting to open his bag. Windomshire hastily interposed.
"I'd rather not, old chap. It's rather exposed here, don't you
know. Later on, if you please. Thanks, old man; I'll not forget this."
They shook hands without any apparent excuse.
"Mr. Windomshire!" called Mrs. Van Truder. He turned with a
hopeless look in his eyes. The two girls had misery and consternation
plainly stamped in their faces. "We can't all go over in the next
boats, you know. I've no doubt you and Miss Thursdale would not in the
least mind being left to the last," with a sly smile.
"Oh—er—ah, by Jove!" gasped Windomshire, with a glance at the
still faces of the young women. He saw no relief there.
"Blamed cat!" muttered Dauntless, gritting his teeth.
"Mr. Dauntless, will you and Miss Courtenay come with us in this
boat? I want some one to keep the snakes away; Mr. Van Truder can't
see them, you know."
There was no way out of it. Joe and Anne meekly followed the Van
Truders into the wobbly boat, resentment in their hearts, uncertainty
in their minds. They rowed away, leaving Windomshire and Eleanor
standing among the willows, ill at ease and troubled beyond
CHAPTER V. AS NIGHT APPROACHES
Neither spoke until the boat came to its slippery, uncertain
landing- place on the opposite side of the river. Then each breathed
easier, in a sigh that seemed to express both relief and dismay.
"It's a very ugly looking river," she murmured encouragingly. She
was afraid he might feel obliged, in honour, to offer an explanation
for his presence, perhaps attempt to convince her in some tangible way
that she was to expect nothing but slavish devotion from him in the
"I don't wonder that the bridge gave way," he replied politely.
They looked at each other involuntarily, and then instantly looked
"I'd give my head to know what she expects of me," thought
"How I despise that old woman!" welled up in Eleanor's bitter
heart. Everything was awry. Luckily for both of them a small boy
slipped into the river at that moment. He was rescued by the brakeman,
but not until the catastrophe had served its purpose as a godsend. The
excitement which attended the rescue saved the couple an uncomfortable
ten minutes. Eleanor went to the assistance of the distracted mother;
Windomshire, in his eagerness to do something, offered to exchange
clothes with the dripping trainman; the small boy howled as lustily as
his wheezy lungs would permit. Everybody shouted advice to the mother,
rebukes to the boy, and praise to the hero; altogether Providence was
acting most handsomely.
At last the final boatload of passengers crossed the river and drew
up at the landing; Eleanor, with her bewildered fiance, stepped into
the beaming presence of Mrs. Van Truder.
"Come with us," she said with a friendliness that shattered all
hope. "Mr. Van Truder has just arranged for breakfast at that
farmhouse over there. The relief train won't be here for half an hour
or more and you must be famished." Eleanor's flimsy excuses were
unavailing; her protestations that she could not eat a mouthful fell
on obdurate ears. Windomshire, catching sight of the forlorn Anne, was
about to assert himself vigorously in declining the invitation when a
meaning look from the governess caused him to refrain. The look very
plainly told him to accept.
The unhappy couple followed the Van Truders to the nearby
farmhouse. They left behind them on the edge of the crowd, seated side
by side on a pile of ties, two miserable partners in the fiasco.
Gloomy, indeed, was the outlook for Miss Courtenay and the despised
Mr. Dauntless. They were silent for many minutes after the departure,
rage in their hearts. Then Mr. Dauntless could hold his tongue no
"Damn her!" he exploded so viciously that Anne jumped and cried
"Oh, you feel just as I do about it only you won't say it aloud,"
he exclaimed. "I won't stand for it!"
"I—I am sure Miss Thursdale has done nothing to deserve your
curses," she began diplomatically.
"Good Heavens, Miss Courtenay, you—Oh, I say, you know I didn't
mean Eleanor. The old pelican—that's the one. Old Mrs. Intruder," he
"I am sure it is all quite regular," observed Anne, so seriously
that he looked at her in wonder. It began to creep into his head that
his speculations were wrong, after all. At any rate it seemed
advisable to put a sharp curb on his tongue.
"I'm sorry I spoke as I did about the old lady," he said, after a
moment's reflection. "I was thinking of the way in which she left you
out of her invitation to breakfast."
"And yourself, incidentally," she smiled.
"Miss Courtenay, I'm—I'm a confounded ass for not thinking of your
breakfast. It's not too late. We are both hungry. Won't you come with
me and have a bit of something to eat? We'll try that farmhouse
ourselves. Come, let us hurry or the crowd will get in ahead of us.
Ham and eggs and coffee! they always have that sort of breakfast in
farmhouses, I'm told. Come."
[Illustration: Seated side by side...two miserable partner in the
She sprang up cheerfully, and followed him across the meadow to the
farmhouse. The Van Truder party was entering the door, smoke pouring
forth suggestively from a chimney in the rear of the house. The sudden
desire for ham and eggs was overcoming, in a way, the pangs of
outraged love; there was solace in the new thought.
That breakfast was one never to be forgotten by four persons; two
others remembered it to their last days on account of its amazing
excellence. A dozen persons were crowded into the little dining-room;
no one went forth upon his travels with an empty stomach. No such
profitable harvest had ever been reaped by the farmer. Dauntless and
Anne ate off of a sewing-table in the corner. Mrs. Van Truder
deliberately refused to hear Mr. Windomshire's timorous suggestion
that they "make room" for them at the select table. Silent anathemas
accompanied every mouthful of food that went down the despot's throat,
but she did not know it. Fortunately the lovers were healthy and
They fared forth after that memorable breakfast with lighter
hearts, though still misplaced by an unrelenting fate.
All the way to Omegon Anne sat in the seat with the seething
Dauntless, each nursing a pride that had received almost insupportable
injuries during the morning hours. Windomshire and Eleanor, under the
espionage of the "oldest friend of the family," moped and sighed with
a frankness that could not have escaped more discerning eyes. Mrs. Van
Truder, having established herself as the much needed chaperon, sat
back complacently and gave her charges every opportunity to hold
private and no doubt sacred communication in the double seat just
across the aisle.
Eleanor pleaded fatigue, and forthwith closed her wistful eyes.
Windomshire, with fine consideration, sank into a rapt study of the
flitting farm lands. Having got but little sleep among the coals, he
finally dropped off into a peaceful cat nap.
Omegon was reached before Eleanor had the courage to awaken him.
She did so then only because it was impossible for her to crawl over
his knees without losing her dignity; they were planted sturdily
against the seat in front. She fled like a scared child to Joe's side,
her mind made up to cling to him now, no matter what manner of
"I'll go with you, Joe," she whispered fiercely. "I don't care what
any one says or thinks. Your cousin WILL meet us with the carriage,
won't he?" she concluded piteously. Windomshire also had taken the
bull by the horns and was helping Miss Courtenay from the train with
an assiduity that brought down the wrath of obstructing passengers
upon his devoted head.
"He said he would," replied Dauntless, his spirits in the clouds.
"We must get away from these people, Nell. I'll go crazy in another
minute. There's Derby waiting for instructions. Dear old Darb—he's a
brick. My cousin Jim is a deacon or something in the village church,
dear, and he has promised to let us in. I suppose he has a key. He and
his wife will be the only witnesses. By George, nothing can stop us
now, dear, if you have the nerve to—Where the dickens is Jim?
Confound him, I don't see him on the platform."
He looked about the station platform—first anxiously, then
impatiently, then—with consternation! His cousin was nowhere in
sight. Cold with apprehensiveness, he dashed over to a citizen who
wore a star upon his coat, almost dragging Eleanor after him.
"Is Jim Carpenter here? Have you seen him? Do you know him?" he
"He was here, mister. 'Bout two hours ago, I reckon. I guess you
must be the fellow he was to meet—"
"Yes, yes,—where is he now?"
"I don't know, mister. His wife's got pneumonia, an' he told me to
tell you he couldn't wait. He took the doctor right out to—"
"Good Lord!" exploded Joe. The citizen jumped a few inches into the
air. "He's gone?"
"Yep. But he told me to tell you to go over to the Somerset an'
wait till you hear from him."
"Wait—till—I hear—from—him?" groaned Dauntless, wild-eyed but
faint. He and Eleanor looked at each other in despair.
"Go—to—the—hotel?" she murmured, her heart in her boots. "I
never can do that," she continued. Her voice was full of tears.
Mrs. Van Truder bore down upon them like an angry vulture. They saw
her coming, but neither had the strength of purpose to move.
Before they really knew how it happened, she was leading Eleanor to
the hotel 'bus and he was limply following, lugging both bags with a
faithfulness that seemed pathetic. Two minutes later they were in the
'bus, touching knees with the equally dazed and discomfited English
Back on the platform the elongated medical gentleman, Mr. Hooker,
was talking loudly, wrathfully to the station agent. His voice rang in
their ears long after the 'bus rolled away on its "trip" to the big
"You say old man Grover ain't dead yet?" Mr. Hooker was growling
resentfully, even indignantly.
"He ain't expected to live till night, sir, poor old man," replied
"Well, I'll be damned!" roared Mr. Hooker. "I don't see any sense
in a man of his age hanging on like this. He's eighty-three. My time
is valuable"—looking at his big silver watch—"and I can't afford to
hang around here if he's going to act like this." The agent stared
after him as if he were looking at a maniac. Mr. Hooker set off in the
direction of old Mr. Grover's house, which had been pointed out to him
by a gaping small boy. "I'll go up and see about it," he remarked, as
he stepped across a wide rivulet in the middle of the main street. The
Somerset Hotel was situated on the most beautiful point of land
touching that trim little lake which attracted hundreds of city people
annually by its summer wiles. It was too sedate and quiet to be
fashionable; the select few who went there sought rest from the
frivolities of the world. Eleanor Thursdale had spent one tiresome but
proper season there immediately after the death of her father. She
hated everything in connection with the place except the little old-
fashioned church at the extreme end of the village street, fully half
a mile from the hotel. She had chosen it, after romantic reflection,
as the sanctuary in which she should become the wife of the man she
loved, spurning the great church in town and one of its loveless
The forenoon is left to the imagination of the reader,—with all of
its unsettled plans, its doubts and misgivings, its despairs and its
failures, its subterfuges and its strategies, its aggravations and
complaints. Bell-boys carried surreptitious notes from room to room;
assurances, hopes, and reassurances passed one another in systematic
confusion. Love was trying to find its way out of the maze.
Immediately after luncheon Dauntless set out to discover his
faithless cousin. Eleanor kept close to her room, in readiness for
instant flight. The necessary Mr. Derby had his instructions to remain
where he could be found without trouble. Mrs. Van Truder, taking up
Eleanor's battles, busied herself and every one else in the impossible
task of locating the young woman's trunks, which, according to
uncertain reports, had gone mysteriously astray. Moreover, she had
prepared a telegram to the young lady's mother, assuring her that she
was quite safe; but Mr. Dauntless boldly intercepted Mr. Van Truder on
his way to the desk.
"Allow me," he remarked, deliberately taking the despatch from the
old gentleman. "I'll send it from the station. Don't bother about it,
Mr. Van Truder." He drove through the village, but did not stop at the
station; his instructions to the driver did not include a pause
anywhere. It is not necessary to relate what took place when he
descended upon the unfortunate Jim; it is sufficient to say that he
dragged him from his sick wife's bedside and berated him soundly for
his treachery. Then it was all rearranged,—the hapless Jim being
swept into promises which he could not break, even with death staring
his wife in the face. The agitated Mr. Dauntless drove back to the
hotel with a new set of details perfected. This time nothing should go
His first action was to acquaint Derby with the plans, and then to
send a note of instructions to Eleanor, guarding against any chance
that they might not be able to communicate with each other in person.
"It's all fixed," he announced to Derby, in a secluded corner of
the grounds. "To-night at nine we are to be at the church down the
road there—see it? Nobody is on to us, and Jim has a key. He will
meet you there at a quarter of nine. But, hang it all, his wife can't
act as a witness. We've got to provide one. He suggested the
postmaster, but I don't like the idea; it looks too much like a cheap
elopement. I'd just as soon have the cook or the housemaid. I'll get
Eleanor there if I have to kill that Van Truder woman. Now, whom shall
we have as the second witness?"
"Windomshire, I'm afraid," lamented Derby. "You won't be able to
get rid of him."
"Hang him!" groaned Dauntless, his spirits falling, but instantly
reviving. "But he's dead in love with Miss Courtenay. It's pitiful,
old man. He feels that he's got to marry Nell, but it's not in his
heart to do it. Now if we could only shunt him off on to Miss
Courtenay this evening! Her train leaves at nine, they say. He might
be forced to take her to the station if you will only get busy and
make him jealous."
"Certainly. It won't be much of an effort for you, and it will help
me immensely. Make love to her this afternoon, and when you suggest
taking her to the station this evening he'll be so wrought up that he
won't stand for it. See what I mean?"
"Now see here, Joe, I'm willing to do a great deal for you, but
this is too much. You forget that I am a minister of the gospel.
"I know, old man, but you might do a little thing like this for—By
Jove, I've got it! Why not have old Mr. Van Truder for the other
Mr. Van Truder was crossing the lawn, picking his way carefully.
"Good afternoon," greeted Dauntless.
"Afternoon," responded Mr. Van Truder. "Is this the hotel?"
"No, sir; the hotel is about ten feet to your left. By the way, Mr.
Van Truder, would you mind doing me a favour this evening?"
"Gladly. Who are you?"
"Anything, my dear Joe."
"Well, it's a dead secret."
"A secret? Trust me," cried the old man, joyfully.
"First, let me introduce my friend, the Rev. Mr. Derby. He's in the
secret. It will go no farther, I trust, Mr. Van Truder."
"My wife says I can't keep a secret, but I'll show her that I can.
Trust me, my boy."
"I'll bet you a hundred dollars you can't keep this one," said Joe,
"Well," bravely but cautiously, "I'm going to be married to-night.
Be careful now! Look out! Don't explode! Remember the bet!" The old
gentleman repressed his feelings.
"Beautiful!" he exclaimed. "Congratulations, my boy."
"Now for the favour. I want you to act as a witness. It's to be a
very quiet affair." Dauntless explained as much of the situation to
him as he thought necessary, omitting the lady's name. Mr. Van Truder
bubbled over with joy and eagerness. He promised faithfully to
accompany Mr. Derby, pooh-hooing the suggestion that he could not slip
away from the hotel without his wife being aware of the fact.
"Trust me, my boy. Don't worry. I'm always Johnny-on-the-spot.
Where did you say the hotel was? I'll go up and get ready. Oh, by the
way, who is the young lady?"
"She's a friend of Mr. Dauntless's," said Mr. Derby.
"To be sure; I might have known. Silly question."
The young men watched him enter the hotel, but they did not see him
fall into the clutches of his wife just inside the door.
"Where have you been?" demanded Mrs. Van Truder.
"I've been looking everywhere for you, my dear," he said, almost
whimpering. "I've got a grand secret, but I can't tell you. Don't ask
"Is it a wedding?" she demanded sternly.
"Dear me! Do you know it too?" he cried, bewildered. "But that's
not the real secret; it's only part of it. Joe is going to marry some
friend of his to-night—but that's as far as I'll go. I'll NOT betray
the secret." He hurried away to avoid questions, muttering to himself
as he went: "She's dying to know. But a secret's a secret. She sha'n't
know that I am to be a witness."
Mrs. Van Truder pondered long and deeply, but she was not well
enough acquainted with all of the facts to hazard a guess as to who
the girl might be. It came to her memory that Dauntless had been with
Miss Courtenay all morning, however, and she wondered not a little.
Windomshire was approaching in search of Anne, who was to have met him
as if by accident in a corner of the reading-room.
"Oh, Mr. Windomshire," exclaimed Mrs. Van Truder, darting toward
"How do, Mrs. Van Truder? How are you to-day?" he asked, scarcely
able to hide his annoyance.
"That is the tenth time you've asked me that question. I must
repeat: I am quite well."
"Oh, pardon my inquisitiveness. It has been a very long day, you
"I want you and Miss Thursdale to dine with me at eight this
evening. I think I'll have a little surprise for you," she said
mysteriously. Windomshire glared, and then managed to give a
provisional acceptance. It all depended on the hour for leaving for
the train. As he hurried off to find Anne he was groaning to himself:
"How the deuce can I go to a dinner and run off again with Anne? I've
got everything arranged. I can't let a beastly dinner interfere. I
won't go, hang me if I do." He came upon Anne in the corner of the
library—the most unfrequented corner.
"Well?" she questioned eagerly. He clasped her hands, beaming once
"I've seen him, dear. It's all right. My word, I've had no end of a
busy day. The confounded fellow was out making calls on the
congregation, as they say, and I had to pursue him from house to
house, always missing him, by Jove."
"But you DID find him?" anxiously.
"Of course. He will be at the church at nine to-night—sharp. He
understands that no one is to know about it. His fee is ten pounds—
quite a bit for a chap like him. I found him calling upon a fellow who
is about to die—a Mr. Grover. He sent out word I'd have to wait as
the old gentleman was passing away. By Jove, do you know I was that
intense that I sent in word that the old gentleman would have to wait
a bit—I COULDN'T. The pastor came out and—well, it seems that the
fee for helping a chap to get married is more substantial than what he
gets for helping one to die. And, as luck would have it, I found a
fellow who will act as one of the witnesses to the ceremony at this
same house,—a Mr. Hooker, Anne. He came down on the train with us.
Tall, dark, professional looking man. He was sitting on Mr. Grover's
front steps when I got there. The other witness—must have two, you
know—is the head-waiter in the dining-room here—"
"The—head-waiter?" she gasped.
"He's a very decent sort of chap, my dear—and, besides, we can't
be choosers. Waiters are most discreet fellows, too. He's to get two
pounds for his trouble. By Jove, I think I've done rather well. I'm
sorry if you don't approve," he lamented.
"But I do approve, Harry," she cried bravely. "It's lovely!"
"Good! I knew you would. Now all we have to do is to slip away from
here this evening, and—Oh, I say, hang it all! Mrs. Van Truder has
asked me to dine with them this evening."
"Isn't she running you a bit?" cried Anne, indignantly. "She had
you for breakfast and luncheon and now it's dinner. I daresay she'll
have you for tea too."
"But I'm not going to her confounded dinner. That's settled. I
can't do it, you know, and be on time for the wedding. Deuce take it,
what does she take a fellow for? Hello, here comes the chap that
Dauntless introduced to us this morning." Derby was approaching with a
warm and ingratiating smile. "What's his name? Confound him."
"Mr. Derby, I think. Why can't they give us a moment's peace?" she
pouted. Derby came up to them, his eyes sparkling with a fire which
they could not and were not to understand. He had surveyed them from a
distance for some time before deciding to ruthlessly, cruelly break in
upon the tranquil situation.
"She's a pretty girl," he reflected, unconsciously going back to
his college days, and quite forgetting his cloth—which, by the way,
was a neat blue serge with a tender stripe. Consoling himself with the
thought that he was doing it to accommodate an old friend, the good-
looking Mr. Derby boldly entered the lists for the afternoon. He felt,
somehow, that he had it in his power to make Mr. Windomshire quite
jealous—and at the same time do nothing reprehensible. What he did
succeed in doing, alas, was to make two young people needlessly
miserable for a whole afternoon—bringing on grievous headaches and an
attack of suppressed melancholia that savoured somewhat of actual
True to his project, he laboured hard and skilfully for hours.
Windomshire moved about in solitude, gnashing his teeth, while Derby
unceremoniously whisked the dazed Anne off for pleasant walks or held
her at bay in some secluded corner of the parlours. By dinner-time,
encouraged by Joe's wild but cautious applause, he had driven
Windomshire almost to distraction. A thing he did not know, however,—
else his pride might have cringed perceptibly,—was that Anne
Courtenay was growing to hate him as no one was ever hated before.
"Well," he said to the nervous Mr. Dauntless at seven o'clock that
evening, having arrived at what he called the conclusion of his day's
work, "I think I've done all that was expected, haven't I?"
"You've got him crazy, old boy. Look at him! It's the first minute
he's had since half-past two. Say, what do you think of this cursed
weather? It's raining again—and muddy! Great Scot, old man! it's knee
deep, and we don't dare take a carriage to the church. One can't sneak
worth a cent in a cab, you know. See you later! There's Eleanor
waiting to speak to me. By George, I'm nervous. You WON'T fail us, old
"I'll do my part, Joe," said Derby, smiling.
"Well, so long, if I don't see you before nine. You look out for
old Mr. Van Truder, will you? See that he sneaks out properly. And—"
"Don't worry, old chap. Go to Miss Thursdale. She seems nervous."
CHAPTER VI. THE ROAD TO PARADISE
Night again—and again the mist and the drizzle; again the country
lane, but without the warm club-house fire, the cheery lights, the
highball, and the thumping motor car. Soggy, squashy mud instead of
the clean tonneau; heavy, cruel wading through unknown by-ways in
place of the thrilling rush to Fenlock. Not twenty-four hours had
passed, and yet it seemed that ages lay between the joyous midnight
and the sodden, heart-breaking eve that followed.
The guests at the Somerset kept close indoors,—that is, most of
them did. It is with those who fared forth resolutely into the night
that we have to do; the rest of the world is to be barred from any
further connection with this little history. It is far out in the
dreary country lane and not inside the warm hotel that we struggle to
attain our end. First one, then another stealthy figure crept forth
into the drizzle; before the big clock struck half-past eight, at
least six respectable and supposedly sensible persons had mysteriously
disappeared. Only one of our close acquaintances remained in the
hotel,—Mrs. Van Truder. It was not to be long, however, before she,
too, would be adventuring forth in search of the unknown.
By this it may be readily understood that Mr. Van Truder had
succeeded in escaping from beneath her very nose, as it were.
The little village church stood at the extreme end of the street,—
dark, dismal, quite awe-inspiring on a night like this. A narrow lane
stretched from the hotel to the sanctuary and beyond. There is nothing
at hand to show whether it is a Methodist, a Presbyterian, or a
Baptist church. As the two young women most vitally concerned in this
tale were professedly high church, it is therefore no more than right
that, in the darkness, it should be looked upon as an Episcopalian
Two stumbling figures, pressing close to each other in the shelter
of a single wobbly umbrella, forged their uncertain way through the
muddy lane. Except for the brief instants when the dull flicker of
lightning came to their relief, they were in pitch darkness.
"Beastly dark, isn't it?" said one of the figures.
"And beastly muddy too," said the other, in a high, disconsolate
treble. "Oh, dear, where are we?"
"I don't know, but I feel as though we were about to step off of
something every moment. Do you know, Anne, it's extraordinary that I
shouldn't know how to light one of these confounded lanterns."
"Try it again, Harry dear. I'll hold the umbrella."
"Oh, I see! By Jove, one has to open the thing, don't you know. Ah,
there we are! That's better," he said, after he had succeeded in
finally lighting the wick. He held the lantern up close to her face
and they looked at each other for a moment. "Anne, I do love you!" he
exclaimed. Then he kissed her. "That's the first time I've had a
chance to kiss you in thirty-six hours."
They plodded onward, closer together than ever, coming at last to
the little gate which opened into the churchyard. Before them stood
the black little building with its steeple, but the windows were as
dark as Erebus. They stopped in consternation. He looked at his watch.
"Confound him, he's not here!" growled Windomshire.
"Perhaps we are early," suggested Anne, feebly.
"It's a quarter to nine," he said. "I suppose there is nothing left
for us to do but to wait. I'll look around a bit, dear. Perhaps the
witnesses are here somewhere."
"Oo-oo-ooh! Don't leave me!" she almost shrieked. "Look! There is a
graveyard! I won't stay here alone!" They were standing at the foot of
the rough wooden steps leading up to the church door.
"Pooh! Don't be afraid of tombstones," he scoffed; but he was
conscious of a little shiver in his back. "They can't bite, you know.
Besides, all churches have graveyards and crypts and—"
"This one has no crypt," she announced positively. "Goodness, I'm
mud up to my knees and rain down to them. Why doesn't he come?"
"I'll give the signal; we had to arrange one, you know, for the
sake of identity." He gave three loud, guttural coughs. A dog in the
distance howled mournfully, as if in response. Anne crept closer to
"It sounded as if some one were dying," she whispered. "Look, isn't
that a light?—over there among the gravestones!" A light flickered
for an instant in the wretched little graveyard and then disappeared
as mysteriously as it came. "It's gone! How ghostly!"
"Extraordinary! I don't understand. By Jove, it's beginning to rain
again. I'm sure to have tonsilitis. I feel it when I cough." He
coughed again, louder than before.
Suddenly the steady beam of a dark lantern struck their faces
squarely; a moment later the cadaverous Mr. Hooker was climbing over
the graveyard fence.
"Am I late?" he asked, as he came forward.
"I say, turn that beastly light the other way," complained
Windomshire, half blinded. "I thought no one but robbers carried dark
"The darker the deed, the darker the lantern," said Mr. Hooker,
genially. "Good-evening, madam. Are we the only ones here?" He was
very matter-of-fact and business-like; Anne loathed him on the
"We're all here but the minister and the other witness. I'll cough
again—although it hurts me to do it."
He coughed thrice, but instead of a response in kind, three sharp
whistles came from the trees at the left.
"What's that?" he gasped. "Has he forgotten the signal?"
"Maybe he is trying to cough," said Hooker, "and can't do any
better than wheeze. It's this rotten weather."
"No, it was a whistle. Good Heavens, Anne—it may be detectives."
"Detectives!" exclaimed Mr. Hooker, hoarsely. "Then this is no
place for me. Excuse me, I'll just step around the corner." As he
scurried off, he might have been heard to mutter to himself: "They've
been hounding me ever since that job in the Cosgrove cemetery. Damn
'em, I wonder if they think I'm up here to rob the grave of one of
these jays." From which it may be suspected that Mr. Hooker had been
employed in the nefarious at one time or another.
"Detectives, Harry?" gasped Anne. "Why should there be detectives?
We're not criminals."
"You can't tell what Mrs. Thursdale may have done when she
discovered- -Hello! There's a light down the road! 'Gad, I'll hide
this lantern until we're sure." He promptly stuck the lantern inside
his big raincoat and they were in darkness again. A hundred yards to
the left a light bobbed about, reminding them of childhood's
will-o'-the-wisp. Without a word Windomshire drew her around the
church, stumbling over a discarded pew seat that stood against the
wall. Groaning with pain, he urged her to crouch down with him behind
the seat. All the while he held the umbrella manfully over her devoted
Voices were heard, drawing nearer and nearer—one deep and cheery,
the other high and querulous.
"It—it—oh, Harry, it's that Mr. Derby!" she whispered. "I'd know
his voice in a thousand."
"The devil!" he whispered intensely, gripping her hand.
Mr. Derby was saying encouragingly: "There is the church, Mr. Van
Trader. Brace up. We seem to be the first to arrive."
"It's much farther away than you think," growled Mr. Van Truder. "I
can't see the lights in the window."
"There are no lights yet. We are ahead of them. I'll try the door."
The young minister kicked the mud from his shoes as he went up the
steps with the lantern. He tried the door vigorously, and then,
holding the lantern high, surveyed the surroundings. Mr. Van Truder,
bundled up like a motorman, stood below shivering—but with joy.
"This is a great night for an affair of this kind," he quaked. "By
George, I feel twenty years younger. I believe I could turn
"I wouldn't if I were you. Don't forget your somersault over that
log back there, and your splendid headspin in the mud puddle. It's
past nine o'clock. Joe's cousin was to be here at 8.45. Wonder what
keeps him. Joe will be here himself in a jiffy. Dear me, what a
dreadful night they have chosen for a wedding!"
Windomshire whispered in horror to the girl beside him: "Good Lord,
Anne, they're following us."
"Please, Harry," she whispered petulantly, "hold the umbrella
still. The water from the rainspout is dripping down my back."
"By George, I wish Mrs. Van Truder could see me now," came
valiantly from the old gentleman around the corner. "Say, whistle
again." Derby gave three sharp, shrill whistles. In silence they
waited a full minute for the response. There was not a sound except
the dripping of the rain.
"I'm afraid something is wrong," said Derby. Just at that instant
Windomshire, despite most heroic efforts to prevent the catastrophe,
sneezed with a violence that shook his entire frame. "Sh! don't
speak," hissed the startled minister. "We are being watched. That was
unmistakably a sneeze."
"I can't see any one," whispered Mr. Van Trader, excitedly. "I see
just as well in the dark as I do in the light, too."
"Some one is coming. See! There's a light down the road. Let's step
out of sight just for a moment."
Windomshire sneezed again, as if to accelerate the movements of the
"Hang it all!" he gurgled in despair. Mr. Derby had blinded his
lantern and was hurrying off into the grove with his companion.
"I can't help laughing, Harry," whispered Anne, giggling softly.
"You sneeze like an elephant."
"But an elephant has more sense than to sneeze as I do. I knew I'd
take cold. Anne, they're after us. It's old Mrs. Van Truder's work.
What are they up to?"
"Whatever it is, dear, they're just as much mystified as we are.
Did you hear him whistle? It is a signal."
"I say, Anne, it's a beastly mess I've got you into," groaned he.
"Dear old Harry, it is but the beginning of the mess you're getting
yourself into. I love this—every bit of it."
"You're ripping, Anne; that's what you are. I—Great Scotland! Here
comes the head-waiter, but we don't dare show ourselves. Did you ever
know such beastly luck?"
"There's another man too, away back there. And, look! Isn't that a
light coming through the trees back of the gravestones? Good Heavens,
Harry, we can't be married in a public thoroughfare. Everybody is
walking with lanterns. It's awful."
"Let's go around to the rear of the church," he exclaimed suddenly.
"Perhaps we can get our brains to work on a plan of action. But, look
here, Anne, no matter who they are or what they want, I'm going to
marry you to-night if I have to do it in the face of the entire
As they scurried off through the tall wet grass to a less exposed
station, a solitary figure came haltingly through the little gate. It
was the head-waiter, and, as he carried no lantern, he was compelled
to light matches now and then; after getting his bearings he would
dart resolutely on for a dozen paces before lighting another. Stopping
in front of the church door, he nervously tried to penetrate the gloom
with an anxious gaze; then, suddenly bethinking, he gave three timid
little coughs. Getting no immediate response, he growled aloud in his
"I've coughed my head off in front of every house between here and
the hotel, and I'm gettin' darned tired of it. I don't like this
business; and I never could stand for graveyards. Good Lord! what's
Three sharp whistles came to his alert ears, coming, it seemed,
from the very heart of some grim old gravestone. A man strode boldly
across the yard from the gate, his walk indicating that he was
perfectly familiar with the lay of the land.
"Who coughed?" he demanded loudly. "Is there no one here? What the
dickens does it mean? Joe Dauntless! Where are you? No fooling now; my
wife's worse, and I can't stay here all night." He whistled again, and
the head-waiter coughed in a bewildered reply. "That's queer. Nothing
was said about coughing."
"Hello!" called the head-waiter. "Is it you, sir?"
Joe Dauntless's cousin held his lantern on high and finally
discovered the waiter near the pile of cordwood, ready to run at a
"Who are you?" demanded Mr. Carpenter.
"Gustave. But you ain't the man."
"I ain't, eh? Didn't you whistle a minute ago?"
"I ain't supposed to. I cough. Say, do you know if a wedding has
taken place here? I am a witness."
"Oh, I see. He said he'd bring one. Are you alone?"
"I don't know. It feels like a crowd every time I cough. Are you
"No, I'm the bridegroom's cousin. We've got to get in through a
window. I couldn't find my key. Would you mind giving me a leg?"
"A leg? Nothing was said about legs," said the waiter, moving away.
"I mean a boost up to the window."
"There's one in the rear I can smash. We'll get inside and light
up. I can open the door from that side, too. Come on—follow me." They
turned the corner and followed the path so lately taken by Windomshire
and Anne. As they came to the back of the church they were startled
and not a little alarmed by the sound of sudden scurrying and a well-
defined imprecation, but it was too dark for them to distinguish any
one. While they were trying to effect an entrance through one of the
windows, other mystified participants in the night's affairs were
looking on from secret and divers hiding-places. Far out in the little
grove Derby and his old companion watched the operations of the
church-breakers, the sickly glare of Carpenter's lantern as it stood
upon the edge of the rain barrel affording an unholy light for the
occasion. Windomshire and Anne, crouching behind a stack of old
benches, looked on in amazement. Mr. Hooker, whose conscience was none
too easy, doubtless for excellent reasons, peered forth from behind a
tall tombstone. He had arrived at the conclusion that he was being
hounded down as a body-snatcher.
"This is a devil of a mess," he muttered dolefully. "If they catch
me in this graveyard, I'll have a hard time proving an alibi. What an
idiot I was to get into this thing! I guess I'll get out of it. He's
got plenty of witnesses and I've got his ten dollars." He began
sneaking off toward the extreme west end of the graveyard, bent on
finding the road to town. "Holy smoke!" stopping short. "Another bunch
of them coming! I'm surrounded!" He dropped down behind a weed-covered
mound and glared straight ahead. Almost directly in his path a lantern
wobbled and reeled slowly, finally bringing its bearer to the fence
between the burying-ground and the churchyard. A man carried the light
and half carried the form of a woman besides.
"Brace up, Nell dear," Mr. Hooker heard the newcomer say as
tenderly as his exertions would allow. "The worst is over. Here's the
church. Good Heavens, just think of being lost in a graveyard!"
"And climbing four fences and a tree," moaned Eleanor Thursdale.
They had come up through the graveyard by mistake.
"It wasn't a tree; it was a fence post. Great Scot! There's no
light in the church. What's up? Wait here, dear, and I'll
"Alone? Never!" she cried. They climbed their fifth fence,
notwithstanding the fact that a gate was near at hand.
"This is an awful pickle I've got you into. You ought to hate me—"
he was groaning, but she checked him nobly.
"Hush, Joe, I LOVE it," she cried.
"You just wait and see how happy I'll make you for this." He was
about to kiss her rapturously, but the act was stayed by the sound of
a shrill whistle, thrice given. "There's Jim Carpenter and Derby," he
exclaimed, and whistled in response. A moment later Derby strolled up
from the grove, followed by the chattering Mr. Van Truder.
"That you, Joe?"
"Hello, Darb. Good! Where's Jim?"
Some one whistled sharply off to the left, and then Jim Carpenter
came hurrying up, the head-waiter close behind.
"Hello, Joe. Say, has either of you been coughing?" demanded
Carpenter, his hair ready to stand on end.
"I should say not," said Joe. "I've scarcely been breathing."
"Then some ghost is having a hemorrhage," said the head-waiter,
[Illustration: "Hush, Joe, I LOVE it," she cried.]
"Hello, Mr. Dauntless, are you a witness too?"
"Say, Joe," said his cousin, quickly, "there's something strange
going on. The whole place is full of people. I went back there to open
a window and at least two men coughed—one of 'em sneezed. We're being
watched. This man says he heard a woman back there, and I saw a funny
kind of light in the graveyard."
"Hang 'em!" growled Joe. "We can't stop now. Open up the church,
"Can't. Lost my key. Is this Miss Thursdale? Glad to meet you. The
window's the only way and they're surely watching back there."
"Mamma has sent the officers after us," wailed Eleanor.
"Let's go home," said the waiter. "I didn't agree to stay out all
"Agree? Aha, I see. You are a spy!" cried Joe.
"A spy? I guess not. I'm a witness."
"It's the same thing," cackled Mr. Van Truder. "You're a spy
"Joe, isn't this fellow your witness?" demanded Carpenter.
"I should say not. Mr. Van Truder is mine."
"By George, I don't understand—"
"Never mind, Jim, break into the church and let's have it over
with. It's going to rain again."
"Oh, I'm so tired," moaned the poor bride, mud-spattered, wet, and
very far from being the spick and span young woman that fashionable
society knew and loved.
"By Jove!" came suddenly from the darkness, startling the entire
party—a masculine voice full of surprise and—yes, consternation.
Then there strode into the circle of light a tall figure in a
shimmering mackintosh, closely followed by a young, resolute woman.
"Windomshire!" gasped Dauntless, leaping in front of Eleanor,
prepared to defend her with his life.
"Miss Courtenay, too," murmured Eleanor, peeking under his arm.
"Yes, by Jove," announced the harassed Englishman, at bay,—
"Windomshire and Miss Courtenay." There was a long silence—a tableau,
in fact. "Well, why doesn't some one say something? You've got us,
don't you know."
Eleanor Thursdale was the first to find words. She was faint with
humiliation, but strong with the new resolve. Coming forth from behind
Dauntless, she presented herself before the man her mother had chosen.
"So you have found me out, Mr. Windomshire," she said pleadingly, a
wry little smile on her lips. "You know all about it?"
"I—er—by Jove, this is quite beyond me. Found you out? My word,
you don't mean to say—"
"I say, old man," said Dauntless, manfully, "let me explain. We've
always loved each other. It isn't that she—"
"Hang it all, man, I knew that," expostulated Windomshire. "It was
a mistake all around. I love Anne, don't you know. There's no real
harm done, I'm sure. But what puzzles me is this: why does Miss
Thursdale persist in pursuing us if she loves you and doesn't care to
"The deuce! I like that," cried Dauntless. "You'd better begin by
asking questions at home."
"I take it," interposed Mr. Derby, with rare tact and discernment,
"that both of you expect to be married, but not to each other as
originally planned." Both Eleanor and Windomshire signified eager
affirmation in more ways than one. "Then it seems to me a simple case
of coincidence, which may be explained later on. Why discuss it now? I
am in reality a minister, Miss Courtenay, and I am here to unite Miss
Thursdale and Mr. Dauntless in the holy bonds of matrimony. I trust we
may expect no interference on the part of Mr. Windomshire?"
"Good Lord! No!" almost shouted Windomshire, clasping Anne's hand
in a mighty grasp. "That's what we are here for ourselves—to be
married— but the damned parson has deceived us." Jim Carpenter came
out of his trance at this. "Say, are you the fellow Rev. Smith was to
marry? Well, he won't be here. There's a surprise pound party at his
house and the whole town is there. He couldn't leave to save his soul.
It's the way he gets his living."
"Oh, Anne!" cried Windomshire, in real despair.
Anne slipped into the breach with rare old English fortitude. She
addressed herself sweetly to Mr. Derby.
"Mr. Derby, do you remember saying this afternoon that you'd do
anything in the world for me?" Mr. Derby blushed and looked most
unworthy of his calling, but managed to say that he WOULD do anything
in the world for her. "Then, please take the place of the minister who
"Good!" cried Dauntless, almost dancing.
"I will, Miss Courtenay," said Derby. Windomshire grasped him by
the hand, speechless with joy and relief.
"I don't understand all this," complained Mr. Van Truder, vainly
trying to see the excited, jubilant quartette. He only knew that they
were all talking at once, suddenly without restraint. "I wish my wife
were here; she'd understand."
Jim Carpenter at last came to his senses and, dragging the
head-waiter after him, sped to the rear of the church. A few minutes
later lights flashed in the windows and then the front door swung
open. Carpenter and Gustave stood smiling upon the threshold.
"Enter!" called out the former. As the group quickly passed through
the doorway, a long figure climbed down from the fence hard by and
ventured up to the portal. It was Mr. Hooker, his face the picture of
"Well, this beats me!" he ejaculated, leaning against the door
jamb; none of those at the altar heard his remark. He stood there
listening until the last words of the service which united two couples
were uttered. Then he turned sorrowfully away and started across the
yard. The sound of a wedding march played upon the wheezy cabinet
organ by Jim Carpenter followed him into the gloom; above the gasp of
the organ was lifted the unmistakable chatter of joyous voices.
As he passed through the gate a great vehicle rolled up and
stopped. It was drawn by two steaming horses, and the wagon lanterns
told him that it was the Somerset Hotel 'bus. "I'll ride back with
'em," he thought comfortably.
Some one climbed down from the rear of the 'bus, assisted by two
young men in brass buttons. Mr. Hooker made way for a corpulent,
puffing old lady. She stopped in front of him and demanded in hot,
"Where is my husband?"
"Your husband?" repeated Mr. Hooker, politely. "Madam, you can
search me. There's a whole churchful of husbands up there."
"You—you—" she sputtered. "Am I too late? Support me, you
fools," she cried to the two bell-boys. They hurried across the
churchyard, Mr. Hooker following. At the doorway she stopped, glaring
hard at the well-lighted interior. "Mr. Van Truder! Mr. Van Truder!"
she called out angrily, but her joyful other half did not hear her. He
was trying at that moment to organise the company into a wedding
"Say," said Mr. Hooker, "maybe you'd better cough three times."