The Mind Reader by Richard Harding Davis
When Philip Endicott was at Harvard, he wrote stories of
undergraduate life suggested by things that had happened to
himself and to men he knew. Under the title of "Tales of the
Yard" they were collected in book form, and sold surprisingly
well. After he was graduated and became a reporter on the New
York Republic, he wrote more stories, in each of which a reporter
was the hero, and in which his failure or success in gathering
news supplied the plot. These appeared first in the magazines,
and later in a book under the title of "Tales of the Streets."
They also were well received.
Then came to him the literary editor of the Republic, and said:
"There are two kinds of men who succeed in writing fiction--men
of genius and reporters. A reporter can describe a thing he has
seen in such a way that he can make the reader see it, too. A man
of genius can describe something he has never seen, or any one
else for that matter, in such a way that the reader will exclaim:
'I have never committed a murder; but if I had, that's just the
way I'd feel about it.' For instance, Kipling tells us how a
Greek pirate, chained to the oar of a trireme, suffers; how a
mother rejoices when her baby crawls across her breast. Kipling
has never been a mother or a pirate, but he convinces you he
knows how each of them feels. He can do that because he is a
genius; you cannot do it because you are not. At college you
wrote only of what you saw at college; and now that you are in
the newspaper business all your tales are only of newspaper work.
You merely report what you see. So, if you are doomed to write
only of what you see, then the best thing for you to do is to see
as many things as possible. You must see all kinds of life. You
must progress. You must leave New York, and you had better go to
"But on the Republic," Endicott pointed out, "I get a salary. And
in London I should have to sweep a crossing."
"Then," said the literary editor, "you could write a story about
a man who swept a crossing."
It was not alone the literary editor's words of wisdom that had
driven Philip to London. Helen Carey was in London, visiting the
daughter of the American Ambassador; and, though Philip had known
her only one winter, he loved her dearly. The great trouble was
that he had no money, and that she possessed so much of it that,
unless he could show some unusual quality of mind or character,
his asking her to marry him, from his own point of view at least,
was quite impossible. Of course, he knew that no one could love
her as he did, that no one so truly wished for her happiness, or
would try so devotedly to make her happy. But to him it did not
seem possible that a girl could be happy with a man who was not
able to pay for her home, or her clothes, or her food, who would
have to borrow her purse if he wanted a new pair of gloves or a
hair-cut. For Philip Endicott, while rich in birth and education
and charm of manner, had no money at all. When, in May, he came
from New York to lay siege to London and to the heart of Helen
Carey he had with him, all told, fifteen hundred dollars. That
was all he possessed in the world; and unless the magazines
bought his stories there was no prospect of his getting any more.
Friends who knew London told him that, if you knew London well,
it was easy to live comfortably there and to go about and even to
entertain modestly on three sovereigns a day. So, at that rate,
Philip calculated he could stay three months. But he found that
to know London well enough to be able to live there on three
sovereigns a day you had first to spend so many five-pound notes
in getting acquainted with London that there were no sovereigns
left. At the end of one month he had just enough money to buy him
a second-class passage back to New York, and he was as far from
Helen as ever.
Often he had read in stories and novels of men who were too poor
to marry. And he had laughed at the idea. He had always said that
when two people truly love each other it does not matter whether
they have money or not. But when in London, with only a
five-pound note, and face to face with the actual proposition of
asking Helen Carey not only to marry him but to support him, he
felt that money counted for more than he had supposed. He found
money was many different things--it was self-respect, and proper
pride, and private honors and independence. And, lacking these
things, he felt he could ask no girl to marry him, certainly not
one for whom he cared as he cared for Helen Carey. Besides, while
he knew how he loved her, he had no knowledge whatsoever that she
loved him. She always seemed extremely glad to see him; but that
might be explained in different ways. It might be that what was
in her heart for him was really a sort of "old home week"
feeling; that to her it was a relief to see any one who spoke her
own language, who did not need to have it explained when she was
jesting, and who did not think when she was speaking in perfectly
satisfactory phrases that she must be talking slang.
The Ambassador and his wife had been very kind to Endicott, and,
as a friend of Helen's, had asked him often to dinner and had
sent him cards for dances at which Helen was to be one of the
belles and beauties. And Helen herself had been most kind, and
had taken early morning walks with him in Hyde Park and through
the National Galleries; and they had fed buns to the bears in the
Zoo, and in doing so had laughed heartily. They thought it was
because the bears were so ridiculous that they laughed. Later
they appreciated that the reason they were happy was because they
were together. Had the bear pit been empty, they still would have
On the evening of the thirty-first of May, Endicott had gone to
bed with his ticket purchased for America and his last five-pound
note to last him until the boat sailed. He was a miserable young
man. He knew now that he loved Helen Carey in such a way that to
put the ocean between them was liable to unseat his courage and
his self-control. In London he could, each night, walk through
Carlton House Terrace and, leaning against the iron rails of the
Carlton Club, gaze up at her window. But, once on the other side
of the ocean, that tender exercise must be abandoned. He must
even consider her pursued by most attractive guardsmen,
diplomats, and belted earls. He knew they could not love her as
he did; he knew they could not love her for the reasons he loved
her, because the fine and beautiful things in her that he saw and
worshipped they did not seek, and so did not find. And yet, for
lack of a few thousand dollars, he must remain silent, must put
from him the best that ever came into his life, must waste the
wonderful devotion he longed to give, must starve the love that
he could never summon for any other woman.
On the thirty-first of May he went to sleep utterly and
completely miserable. On the first of June he woke hopeless and
And then the miracle came.
Prichard, the ex-butler who valeted all the young gentlemen in
the house where Philip had taken chambers, brought him his
breakfast. As he placed the eggs and muffins on the tables to
Philip it seemed as though Prichard had said: "I am sorry he is
leaving us. The next gentleman who takes these rooms may not be
so open-handed. He never locked up his cigars or his whiskey. I
wish he'd give me his old dress-coat. It fits me, except across
Philip stared hard at Prichard; but the lips of the valet had not
moved. In surprise and bewilderment, Philip demanded:
"How do you know it fits? Have you tried it on?"
"I wouldn't take such a liberty," protested Prichard. "Not with
any of our gentlemen's clothes."
"How did you know I was talking about clothes," demanded Philip.
"You didn't say anything about clothes, did you?"
"No, sir, I did not; but you asked me, sir, and I--"
"Were you thinking of clothes?"
"Well, sir, you might say, in a way, that I was, answered the
valet. "Seeing as you're leaving, sir, and they're not over-new,
I thought "
"It's mental telepathy," said Philip.
"I beg your pardon," exclaimed Prichard.
"You needn't wait," said Philip.
The coincidence puzzled him; but by the time he had read the
morning papers he had forgotten about it, and it was not until he
had emerged into the street that it was forcibly recalled. The
street was crowded with people; and as Philip stepped in among
them, It was as though every one at whom he looked began to talk
aloud. Their lips did not move, nor did any sound issue from
between them; but, without ceasing, broken phrases of thoughts
came to him as clearly as when, in passing in a crowd, snatches
of talk are carried to the ears. One man thought of his debts;
another of the weather, and of what disaster it might bring to
his silk hat; another planned his luncheon; another was rejoicing
over a telegram he had but that moment received. To himself he
kept repeating the words of the telegram--"No need to come, out
of danger." To Philip the message came as clearly as though he
were reading it from the folded slip of paper that the stranger
clutched in his hand.
Confused and somewhat frightened, and in order that undisturbed
he might consider what had befallen him, Philip sought refuge
from the crowded street in the hallway of a building. His first
thought was that for some unaccountable cause his brain for the
moment was playing tricks with him, and he was inventing the
phrases he seemed to hear, that he was attributing thoughts to
others of which they were entirely innocent. But, whatever it was
that had befallen him, he knew it was imperative that he should
at once get at the meaning of it.
The hallway in which he stood opened from Bond Street up a flight
of stairs to the studio of a fashionable photographer, and
directly in front of the hallway a young woman of charming
appearance had halted. Her glance was troubled, her manner ill at
ease. To herself she kept repeating: "Did I tell Hudson to be
here at a quarter to eleven, or a quarter past? Will she get the
telephone message to bring the ruff? Without the ruff it would be
absurd to be photographed. Without her ruff Mary Queen of Scots
would look ridiculous!"
Although the young woman had spoken not a single word, although
indeed she was biting impatiently at her lower lip, Philip had
distinguished the words clearly. Or, if he had not distinguished
them, he surely was going mad. It was a matter to be at once
determined, and the young woman should determine it. He advanced
boldly to her, and raised his hat.
"Pardon me," he said, "but I believe you are waiting for your
As though fearing an impertinence, the girl regarded him in
"I only wish to make sure," continued Philip, "that you are she
for whom I have a message. You have an appointment, I believe, to
be photographed in fancy dress as Mary Queen of Scots?"
"Well?" assented the girl.
"And you telephoned Hudson," he continued, "to bring you your
The girl exclaimed with vexation.
"Oh!" she protested; "I knew they'd get it wrong! Not muff, ruff!
I want my ruff."
Philip felt a cold shiver creep down his spine.
"For the love of Heaven!" he exclaimed in horror; "it's true!"
"What's true?" demanded the young woman in some alarm.
"That I'm a mind reader," declared Philip. "I've read your mind!
I can read everybody's mind. I know just what you're thinking
now. You're thinking I'm mad!"
The actions of the young lady showed that again he was correct.
With a gasp of terror she fled past him and raced up the stairs
to the studio. Philip made no effort to follow and to explain.
What was there to explain? How could he explain that which, to
himself, was unbelievable? Besides, the girl had served her
purpose. If he could read the mind of one, he could read the
minds of all. By some unexplainable miracle, to his ordinary
equipment of senses a sixth had been added. As easily as, before
that morning, he could look into the face of a fellow-mortal, he
now could look into the workings of that fellow-mortal's mind.
The thought was appalling. It was like living with one's ear to a
key-hole. In his dismay his first idea was to seek medical
advice--the best in London. He turned instantly in the direction
of Harley Street. There, he determined, to the most skilled
alienist in town he would explain his strange plight. For only as
a misfortune did the miracle appear to him. But as he made his
way through the streets his pace slackened.
Was he wise, he asked himself, in allowing others to know he
possessed this strange power? Would they not at once treat him as
a madman? Might they not place him under observation, or even
deprive him of his liberty? At the thought he came to an abrupt
halt His own definition of the miracle as a "power" had opened a
new line of speculation. If this strange gift (already he was
beginning to consider it more leniently) were concealed from
others, could he not honorably put it to some useful purpose?
For, among the blind, the man with one eye is a god. Was not
he--among all other men the only one able to read the minds of
all other men--a god? Turning into Bruton Street, he paced its
quiet length considering the possibilities that lay within him.
It was apparent that the gift would lead to countless
embarrassments. If it were once known that he possessed it, would
not even his friends avoid him? For how could any one, knowing
his most secret thought was at the mercy of another, be happy in
that other's presence? His power would lead to his social
ostracism. Indeed, he could see that his gift might easily become
a curse. He decided not to act hastily, that for the present he
had best give no hint to others of his unique power.
As the idea of possessing this power became more familiar, he
regarded it with less aversion. He began to consider to what
advantage he could place it. He could see that, given the right
time and the right man, he might learn secrets leading to
far-reaching results. To a statesman, to a financier, such a gift
as he possessed would make him a ruler of men. Philip had no
desire to be a ruler of men; but he asked himself how could he
bend this gift to serve his own? What he most wished was to marry
Helen Carey; and, to that end, to possess money. So he must meet
men who possessed money, who were making money. He would put
questions to them. And with words they would give evasive
answers; but their minds would tell him the truth.
The ethics of this procedure greatly disturbed him. Certainly it
was no better than reading other people's letters. But, he
argued, the dishonor in knowledge so obtained would lie only in
the use he made of it. If he used it without harm to him from
whom it was obtained and with benefit to others, was he not
justified in trading on his superior equipment? He decided that
each case must be considered separately in accordance with the
principle involved. But, principle or no principle, he was
determined to become rich. Did not the end justify the means?
Certainly an all-wise Providence had not brought Helen Carey into
his life only to take her away from him. It could not be so
cruel. But, in selecting them for one another, the all-wise
Providence had overlooked the fact that she was rich and he was
poor. For that oversight Providence apparently was now
endeavoring to make amends. In what certainly was a fantastic and
roundabout manner Providence had tardily equipped him with a gift
that could lead to great wealth. And who was he to fly in the
face of Providence? He decided to set about building up a
fortune, and building it in a hurry.
From Bruton Street he had emerged upon Berkeley Square; and, as
Lady Woodcote had invited him to meet Helen at luncheon at the
Ritz, he turned in that direction. He was too early for luncheon;
but in the corridor of the Ritz he knew he would find persons of
position and fortune, and in reading their minds he might pass
the time before luncheon with entertainment, possibly with
profit. For, while pacing Bruton Street trying to discover the
principles of conduct that threatened to hamper his new power, he
had found that in actual operation it was quite simple. He
learned that his mind, in relation to other minds, was like the
receiver of a wireless station with an unlimited field. For,
while the wireless could receive messages only from those
instruments with which it was attuned, his mind was in key with
all other minds. To read the thoughts of another, he had only to
concentrate his own upon that person; and to shut off the
thoughts of that person, he had only to turn his own thoughts
elsewhere. But also he discovered that over the thoughts of those
outside the range of his physical sight he had no control. When
he asked of what Helen Carey was at that moment thinking, there
was no result. But when he asked, "Of what is that policeman on
the corner thinking?" he was surprised to find that that officer
of the law was formulating regulations to abolish the hobble
skirt as an impediment to traffic.
As Philip turned into Berkeley Square, the accents of a mind in
great distress smote upon his new and sixth sense. And, in the
person of a young gentleman leaning against the park railing, he
discovered the source from which the mental sufferings emanated.
The young man was a pink-cheeked, yellow-haired youth of
extremely boyish appearance, and dressed as if for the
race-track. But at the moment his pink and babyish face wore an
expression of complete misery. With tear-filled eyes he was
gazing at a house of yellow stucco on the opposite side of the
street. And his thoughts were these: "She is the best that ever
lived, and I am the most ungrateful of fools. How happy were we
in the house of yellow stucco! Only now, when she has closed its
doors to me, do I know how happy! If she would give me another
chance, never again would I distress or deceive her."
So far had the young man progressed in his thoughts when an
automobile of surprising smartness swept around the corner and
drew up in front of the house of yellow stucco, and from it
descended a charming young person. She was of the Dresdenshepherdess
type, with large blue eyes of haunting beauty and
"My wife!" exclaimed the blond youth at the railings. And
instantly he dodged behind a horse that, while still attached to
a four-wheeler, was contentedly eating from a nose-bag.
With a key the Dresden shepherdess opened the door to the yellow
house and disappeared.
The calling of the reporter trains him in audacity, and to act
quickly. He shares the troubles of so many people that to the
troubles of other people he becomes callous, and often will rush
in where friends of the family fear to tread. Although Philip was
not now acting as a reporter, he acted quickly. Hardly had the
door closed upon the young lady than he had mounted the steps and
rung the visitor's bell. As he did so, he could not resist
casting a triumphant glance in the direction of the outlawed
husband. And, in turn, what the outcast husband, peering from
across the back of the cab horse, thought of Philip, of his
clothes, of his general appearance, and of the manner in which he
would delight to alter all of them, was quickly communicated to
the American. They were thoughts of a nature so violent and
uncomplimentary that Philip hastily cut off all connection.
As Philip did not know the name of the Dresden-china doll, it was
fortunate that on opening the door, the butler promptly
"Her ladyship is not receiving."
"Her ladyship will, I think, receive me," said Philip pleasantly,
"when you tell her I come as the special ambassador of his
From a tiny reception-room on the right of the entrance-hall
there issued a feminine exclamation of surprise, not unmixed with
joy; and in the hall the noble lady instantly appeared.
When she saw herself confronted by a stranger, she halted in
embarrassment. But as, even while she halted, her only thought
had been, "Oh! if he will only ask me to forgive him!" Philip
felt no embarrassment whatsoever. Outside, concealed behind a cab
horse, was the erring but bitterly repentant husband; inside, her
tenderest thoughts racing tumultuously toward him, was an unhappy
child-wife begging to be begged to pardon.
For a New York reporter, and a Harvard graduate of charm and good
manners, it was too easy.
"I do not know you," said her ladyship. But even as she spoke she
motioned to the butler to go away. "You must be one of his new
friends." Her tone was one of envy.
"Indeed, I am his newest friend," Philip assured her; "but I can
safely say no one knows his thoughts as well as I. And they are
all of you!"
The china shepherdess blushed with happiness, but instantly she
shook her head.
"They tell me I must not believe him," she announced. "They tell
"Never mind what they tell you," commanded Philip. "Listen to ME.
He loves you. Better than ever before, he loves you. All he asks
is the chance to tell you so. You cannot help but believe him.
Who can look at you, and not believe that he loves you! Let me,"
he begged, "bring him to you." He started from her when,
remembering the somewhat violent thoughts of the youthful
husband, he added hastily: "Or perhaps it would be better if you
called him yourself."
"Called him!" exclaimed the lady. "He is in Paris-at the
"If they tell you that sort of thing," protested Philip
indignantly, "you must listen to me. He is not in Paris. He is
not with her. There never was a her!"
He drew aside the lace curtains and pointed. "He is there--
behind that ancient cab horse, praying that you will let him tell
you that not only did he never do it; but, what is much more
important, he will never do it again."
The lady herself now timidly drew the curtains apart, and then
more boldly showed herself upon the iron balcony. Leaning over
the scarlet geraniums, she beckoned with both hands. The result
was instantaneous. Philip bolted for the front door, leaving it
open; and, as he darted down the steps, the youthful husband, in
strides resembling those of an ostrich, shot past him. Philip did
not cease running until he was well out of Berkeley Square. Then,
not ill-pleased with the adventure, he turned and smiled back at
the house of yellow stucco.
"Bless you, my children," he murmured; "bless you!"
He continued to the Ritz; and, on crossing Piccadilly to the
quieter entrance to the hotel in Arlington Street, found gathered
around it a considerable crowd drawn up on either side of a red
carpet that stretched down the steps of the hotel to a court
carriage. A red carpet in June, when all is dry under foot and
the sun is shining gently, can mean only royalty; and in the rear
of the men in the street Philip halted. He remembered that for a
few days the young King of Asturia and the Queen Mother were at
the Ritz incognito; and, as he never had seen the young man who
so recently and so tragically had been exiled from his own
kingdom, Philip raised himself on tiptoe and stared expectantly.
As easily as he could read their faces could he read the thoughts
of those about him. They were thoughts of friendly curiosity, of
pity for the exiles; on the part of the policemen who had
hastened from a cross street, of pride at their temporary
responsibility; on the part of the coachman of the court
carriage, of speculation as to the possible amount of his
Majesty's tip. The thoughts were as harmless and protecting as
the warm sunshine.
And then, suddenly and harshly, like the stroke of a fire bell at
midnight, the harmonious chorus of gentle, hospitable thoughts
was shattered by one that was discordant, evil, menacing. It was
the thought of a man with a brain diseased; and its purpose was
"When they appear at the doorway," spoke the brain of the maniac,
"I shall lift the bomb from my pocket. I shall raise it above my
head. I shall crash it against the stone steps. It will hurl them
and all of these people into eternity and me with them. But I
shall LIVE--a martyr to the Cause. And the Cause will flourish!"
Through the unsuspecting crowd, like a football player diving for
a tackle, Philip hurled himself upon a little dark man standing
close to the open door of the court carriage. From the rear
Philip seized him around the waist and locked his arms behind
him, elbow to elbow. Philip's face, appearing over the man's
shoulder, stared straight into that of the policeman.
"He has a bomb in his right-hand pocket!" yelled Philip. "I can
hold him while you take it! But, for Heaven's sake, don't drop
it!" Philip turned upon the crowd. "Run! all of you!" he shouted.
"Run like the devil!"
At that instant the boy King and his Queen Mother, herself still
young and beautiful, and cloaked with a dignity and sorrow that
her robes of mourning could not intensify, appeared in the
"Go back, sir!" warned Philip. "He means to kill you!"
At the words and at sight of the struggling men, the great lady
swayed helplessly, her eyes filled with terror. Her son sprang
protectingly in front of her. But the danger was past. A second
policeman was now holding the maniac by the wrists, forcing his
arms above his head; Philip's arms, like a lariat, were wound
around his chest; and from his pocket the first policeman
gingerly drew forth a round, black object of the size of a glass
fire-grenade. He held it high in the air, and waved his free hand
warningly. But the warning was unobserved. There was no one
remaining to observe it. Leaving the would-be assassin struggling
and biting in the grasp of the stalwart policeman, and the other
policeman unhappily holding the bomb at arm's length, Philip
sought to escape into the Ritz. But the young King broke through
the circle of attendants and stopped him.
"I must thank you," said the boy eagerly; "and I wish you to tell
me how you came to suspect the man's purpose."
Unable to speak the truth, Philip, the would-be writer of
fiction, began to improvise fluently.
"To learn their purpose, sir," he said, "is my business. I am of
the International Police, and in the secret service of your
"Then I must know your name," said the King, and added with a
dignity that was most becoming, "You will find we are not
Philip smiled mysteriously and shook his head.
"I said in your secret service," he repeated. "Did even your
Majesty know me, my usefulness would be at an end." He pointed
toward the two policemen. "If you desire to be just, as well as
gracious, those are the men to reward."
He slipped past the King and through the crowd of hotel officials
into the hall and on into the corridor.
The arrest had taken place so quietly and so quickly that through
the heavy glass doors no sound had penetrated, and of the fact
that they had been so close to a possible tragedy those in the
corridor were still ignorant. The members of the Hungarian
orchestra were arranging their music; a waiter was serving two
men of middle age with sherry; and two distinguished-looking
elderly gentlemen seated together on a sofa were talking in
One of the two middle-aged men was well known to Philip, who as a
reporter had often, in New York, endeavored to interview him on
matters concerning the steel trust. His name was Faust. He was a
Pennsylvania Dutchman from Pittsburgh, and at one time had been a
foreman of the night shift in the same mills he now controlled.
But with a roar and a spectacular flash, not unlike one of his
own blast furnaces, he had soared to fame and fortune. He
recognized Philip as one of the bright young men of the Republic;
but in his own opinion he was far too self-important to betray
Philip sank into an imitation Louis Quatorze chair beside a
fountain in imitation of one in the apartment of the Pompadour,
and ordered what he knew would be an execrable imitation of an
American cocktail. While waiting for the cocktail and Lady
Woodcote's luncheon party, Philip, from where he sat, could not
help but overhear the conversation of Faust and of the man with
him. The latter was a German with Hebraic features and a pointed
beard. In loud tones he was congratulating the American many-time
millionaire on having that morning come into possession of a rare
and valuable masterpiece, a hitherto unknown and but recently
discovered portrait of Philip IV by Velasquez.
Philip sighed enviously.
"Fancy," he thought, "owning a Velasquez! Fancy having it all to
yourself! It must be fun to be rich. It certainly is hell to be
The German, who was evidently a picture-dealer, was exclaiming in
tones of rapture, and nodding his head with an air of awe and
"I am telling you the truth, Mr. Faust," he said. "In no gallery
in Europe, no, not even in the Prado, is there such another
Velasquez. This is what you are doing, Mr. Faust, you are robbing
Spain. You are robbing her of something worth more to her than
Cuba. And I tell you, so soon as it is known that this Velasquez
is going to your home in Pittsburgh, every Spaniard will hate you
and every art-collector will hate you, too. For it is the most
wonderful art treasure in Europe. And what a bargain, Mr. Faust!
What a bargain!"
To make sure that the reporter was within hearing, Mr. Faust
glanced in the direction of Philip and, seeing that he had heard,
frowned importantly. That the reporter might hear still more, he
also raised his voice.
"Nothing can be called a bargain, Baron," he said, "that costs
three hundred thousand dollars!"
Again he could not resist glancing toward Philip, and so eagerly
that Philip deemed it would be only polite to look interested. So
he obligingly assumed a startled look, with which he endeavored
to mingle simulations of surprise, awe, and envy.
The next instant an expression of real surprise overspread his
Mr. Faust continued. "If you will come upstairs," he said to the
picture-dealer, "I will give you your check; and then I should
like to drive to your apartments and take a farewell look at the
"I am sorry," the Baron said, "but I have had it moved to my art
gallery to be packed."
"Then let's go to the gallery," urged the patron of art. "We've
just time before lunch." He rose to his feet, and on the instant
the soul of the picture-dealer was filled with alarm.
In actual words he said: "The picture is already boxed and in its
lead coffin. No doubt by now it is on its way to Liverpool. I am
sorry." But his thoughts, as Philip easily read them, were:
"Fancy my letting this vulgar fool into the Tate Street workshop!
Even HE would know that old masters are not found in a
half-finished state on Chelsea-made frames and canvases. Fancy my
letting him see those two half-completed Van Dycks, the new Hals,
the half-dozen Corots. He would even see his own copy of
Velasquez next to the one exactly like it--the one MacMillan
finished yesterday and that I am sending to Oporto, where next
year, in a convent, we shall 'discover' it."
Philip's surprise gave way to intense amusement. In his delight
at the situation upon which he had stumbled, he laughed aloud.
The two men, who had risen, surprised at the spectacle of a young
man laughing at nothing, turned and stared. Philip also rose.
"Pardon me," he said to Faust, "but you spoke so loud I couldn't
help overhearing. I think we've met before, when I was a reporter
on the Republic."
The Pittsburgh millionaire made a pretense, of annoyance.
"Really!" he protested irritably, "you reporters butt in
everywhere. No public man is safe. Is there no place we can go
where you fellows won't annoy us?"
"You can go to the devil for all I care," said Philip, "or even
He saw the waiter bearing down upon him with the imitation
cocktail, and moved to meet it. The millionaire, fearing the
reporter would escape him, hastily changed his tone. He spoke
with effective resignation.
"However, since you've learned so much," he said, "I'll tell you
the whole of it. I don't want the fact garbled, for it is of
international importance. Do you know what a Velasquez is?"
"Do you?" asked Philip.
The millionaire smiled tolerantly.
"I think I do," he said. "And to prove it, I shall tell you
something that will be news to you. I have just bought a
Velasquez that I am going to place in my art museum. It is worth
three hundred thousand dollars."
Philip accepted the cocktail the waiter presented. It was quite
as bad as he had expected.
"Now, I shall tell you something," he said, "that will be news to
you. You are not buying a Velasquez. It is no more a Velasquez
than this hair oil is a real cocktail. It is a bad copy, worth a
"How dare you!" shouted Faust. "Are you mad?"
The face of the German turned crimson with rage.
"Who is this insolent one?" he sputtered.
"I will make you a sporting proposition," said Philip. "You can
take it, or leave it. You two will get into a taxi. You will
drive to this man's studio in Tate Street. You will find your
Velasquez is there and not on its way to Liverpool. And you will
find one exactly like it, and a dozen other 'old masters'
half-finished. I'll bet you a hundred pounds I'm right! And I'll
bet this man a hundred pounds that he DOESN'T DARE TAKE YOU TO
"Indeed, I will not," roared the German. "It would be to insult
"It would be an easy way to earn a hundred pounds, too," said
"How dare you insult the Baron?" demanded Faust. "What makes you
"I don't think, I know!" said Philip. "For the price of a
taxi-cab fare to Tate Street, you win a hundred pounds."
"We will all three go at once," cried the German. "My car is
outside. Wait here. I will have it brought to the door?"
Faust protested indignantly.
"Do not disturb yourself, Baron," he said; "just because a fresh
But already the German had reached the hall. Nor did he stop
there. They saw him, without his hat, rush into Piccadilly,
spring into a taxi, and shout excitedly to the driver. The next
moment he had disappeared.
"That's the last you'll see of him," said Philip.
"His actions are certainly peculiar," gasped the millionaire. "He
did not wait for us. He didn't even wait for his hat! I think,
after all, I had better go to Tate Street."
"Do so," said Philip, "and save yourself three hundred thousand
dollars, and from the laughter of two continents. You'll find me
here at lunch. If I'm wrong, I'll pay you a hundred pounds."
"You should come with me," said Faust. "It is only fair to
"I'll take your word for what you find in the studio," said
Philip. "I cannot go. This is my busy day."
Without further words, the millionaire collected his hat and
stick, and, in his turn, entered a taxi-cab and disappeared.
Philip returned to the Louis Quatorze chair and lit a cigarette.
Save for the two elderly gentlemen on the sofa, the lounge was
still empty, and his reflections were undisturbed. He shook his
"Surely," Philip thought, "the French chap was right who said
words were given us to conceal our thoughts. What a strange world
it would be if every one possessed my power. Deception would be
quite futile and lying would become a lost art. I wonder," he
mused cynically, "is any one quite honest? Does any one speak as
he thinks and think as he speaks?"
At once came a direct answer to his question. The two elderly
gentlemen had risen and, before separating, had halted a few feet
"I sincerely hope, Sir John," said one of the two, "that you have
no regrets. I hope you believe that I have advised you in the
best interests of all?"
"I do, indeed," the other replied heartily "We shall be thought
entirely selfish; but you know and I know that what we have done
is for the benefit of the shareholders."
Philip was pleased to find that the thoughts of each of the old
gentlemen ran hand in hand with his spoken words. "Here, at
least," he said to himself, "are two honest men."
As though loath to part, the two gentlemen still lingered.
"And I hope," continued the one addressed as Sir John, "that you
approve of my holding back the public announcement of the combine
until the afternoon. It will give the shareholders a better
chance. Had we given out the news in this morning's papers the
stockbrokers would have--"
"It was most wise," interrupted the other. "Most just."
The one called Sir John bowed himself away, leaving the other
still standing at the steps of the lounge. With his hands behind
his back, his chin sunk on his chest, he remained, gazing at
nothing, his thoughts far away.
Philip found them thoughts of curious interest. They were
concerned with three flags. Now, the gentleman considered them
separately; and Philip saw the emblems painted clearly in colors,
fluttering and flattened by the breeze. Again, the gentleman
considered them in various combinations; but always, in whatever
order his mind arranged them, of the three his heart spoke always
to the same flag, as the heart of a mother reaches toward her
Then the thoughts were diverted; and in his mind's eye the old
gentleman was watching the launching of a little schooner from a
shipyard on the Clyde. At her main flew one of the three flags--a
flag with a red cross on a white ground. With thoughts tender and
grateful, he followed her to strange, hot ports, through
hurricanes and tidal waves; he saw her return again and again to
the London docks, laden with odorous coffee, mahogany, red
rubber, and raw bullion. He saw sister ships follow in her wake
to every port in the South Sea; saw steam packets take the place
of the ships with sails; saw the steam packets give way to great
ocean liners, each a floating village, each equipped, as no
village is equipped, with a giant power house, thousands of
electric lamps, suite after suite of silk-lined boudoirs, with
the floating harps that vibrate to a love message three hundred
miles away, to the fierce call for help from a sinking ship. But
at the main of each great vessel there still flew the same
house-flag--the red cross on the field of white--only now in the
arms of the cross there nestled proudly a royal crown.
Philip cast a scared glance at the old gentleman, and raced down
the corridor to the telephone.
Of all the young Englishmen he knew, Maddox was his best friend
and a stock-broker. In that latter capacity Philip had never
before addressed him. Now he demanded his instant presence at the
Maddox greeted him genially, but Philip cut him short.
"I want you to act for me," he whispered, "and act quick! I want
you to buy for me one thousand shares of the Royal Mail Line, of
the Elder-Dempster, and of the Union Castle."
He heard Maddox laugh indulgently.
"There's nothing in that yarn of a combine," he called. "It has
fallen through. Besides, shares are at fifteen pounds."
Philip, having in his possession a second-class ticket and a
five-pound note, was indifferent to that, and said so.
"I don't care what they are," he shouted. "The combine is already
signed and sealed, and no one knows it but myself. In an hour
everybody will know it!"
"What makes you think you know it?" demanded the broker.
"I've seen the house-flags!" cried Philip. "I have--do as I tell
you," he commanded.
There was a distracting delay.
"No matter who's back of you," objected Maddox, "it's a big order
on a gamble."
"It's not a gamble," cried Philip. "It's an accomplished fact.
I'm at the Ritz. Call me up there. Start buying now, and, when
you've got a thousand of each, stop!"
Philip was much too agitated to go far from the telephone booth;
so for half an hour he sat in the reading-room, forcing himself
to read the illustrated papers. When he found he had read the
same advertisement five times, he returned to the telephone. The
telephone boy met him half-way with a message.
"Have secured for you a thousand shares of each," he read, "at
Like a man awakening from a nightmare, Philip tried to separate
the horror of the situation from the cold fact. The cold fact was
sufficiently horrible. It was that, without a penny to pay for
them, he had bought shares in three steamship lines, which
shares, added together, were worth two hundred and twenty five
thousand dollars. He returned down the corridor toward the
lounge. Trembling at his own audacity, he was in a state of
almost complete panic, when that happened which made his
outrageous speculation of little consequence. It was drawing near
to half-past one; and, in the persons of several smart men and
beautiful ladies, the component parts of different luncheon
parties were beginning to assemble.
Of the luncheon to which Lady Woodcote had invited him, only one
guest had arrived; but, so far as Philip was concerned, that one
was sufficient. It was Helen herself, seated alone, with her eyes
fixed on the doors opening from Piccadilly. Philip, his heart
singing with appeals, blessings, and adoration, ran toward her.
Her profile was toward him, and she could not see him; but he
could see her. And he noted that, as though seeking some one, her
eyes were turned searchingly upon each young man as he entered
and moved from one to another of those already in the lounge. Her
expression was eager and anxious.
"If only," Philip exclaimed, "she were looking for me! She
certainly is looking for some man. I wonder who it can be?"
As suddenly as if he had slapped his face into a wall, he halted
in his steps. Why should he wonder? Why did he not read her mind?
Why did he not KNOW? A waiter was hastening toward him. Philip
fixed his mind upon the waiter, and his eyes as well. Mentally
Philip demanded of him: "Of what are you thinking?"
There was no response. And then, seeing an unlit cigarette
hanging from Philip's lips, the waiter hastily struck a match and
proffered it. Obviously, his mind had worked, first, in observing
the half-burned cigarette; next, in furnishing the necessary
match. And of no step in that mental process had Philip been
conscious! The conclusion was only too apparent. His power was
gone. No longer was he a mind reader!
Hastily Philip reviewed the adventures of the morning. As he
considered them, the moral was obvious. The moment he had used
his power to his own advantage, he had lost it. So long as he had
exerted it for the happiness of the two lovers, to save the life
of the King, to thwart the dishonesty of a swindler, he had been
all-powerful; but when he endeavored to bend it to his own uses,
it had fled from him. As he stood abashed and repentant, Helen
turned her eyes toward him; and, at the sight of him, there
leaped to them happiness and welcome and complete content. It was
"the look that never was on land or sea," and it was not
necessary to be a mind reader to understand it. Philip sprang
toward her as quickly as a man dodges a taxi-cab.
"I came early," said Helen, "because I wanted to talk to you
before the others arrived." She seemed to be repeating words
already rehearsed, to be following a course of conduct already
predetermined. "I want to tell you," she said, "that I am sorry
you are going away. I want to tell you that I shall miss you very
much." She paused and drew a long breath. And she looked at
Philip as if she was begging him to make it easier for her to go
Philip proceeded to make it easier.
"Will you miss me," he asked, "in the Row, where I used to wait
among the trees to see you ride past? Will you miss me at dances,
where I used to hide behind the dowagers to watch you waltzing
by? Will you miss me at night, when you come home by sunrise, and
I am not hiding against the railings of the Carlton Club, just to
see you run across the pavement from your carriage, just to see
the light on your window blind, just to see the light go out, and
to know that you are sleeping?"
Helen's eyes were smiling happily. She looked away from him.
"Did you use to do that?" she asked.
"Every night I do that," said Philip. "Ask the policemen! They
arrested me three times."
"Why?" said Helen gently.
But Philip was not yet free to speak, so he said:
"They thought I was a burglar."
Helen frowned. He was making it very hard for her.
"You know what I mean," she said. "Why did you keep guard outside
"It was the policeman kept guard," said Philip. "I was there only
as a burglar. I came to rob. But I was a coward, or else I had a
conscience, or else I knew my own unworthiness." There was a long
pause. As both of them, whenever they heard the tune afterward,
always remembered, the Hungarian band, with rare inconsequence,
was playing the "Grizzly Bear," and people were trying to speak
to Helen. By her they were received with a look of so complete a
lack of recognition, and by Philip with a glare of such savage
hate, that they retreated in dismay. The pause seemed to last for
At last Helen said: "Do you know the story of the two roses? They
grew in a garden under a lady's window. They both loved her. One
looked up at her from the ground and sighed for her; but the
other climbed to the lady's window, and she lifted him in and
kissed him--because he had dared to climb."
Philip took out his watch and looked at it. But Helen did not
mind his doing that, because she saw that his eyes were filled
with tears. She was delighted to find that she was making it very
hard for him, too.
"At any moment," Philip said, "I may know whether I owe two
hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars which I can never pay,
or whether I am worth about that sum. I should like to continue
this conversation at the exact place where you last spoke--AFTER
I know whether I am going to jail, or whether I am worth a
quarter of a million dollars."
Helen laughed aloud with happiness.
"I knew that was it!" she cried. "You don't like my money. I was
afraid you did not like ME. If you dislike my money, I will give
it away, or I will give it to you to keep for me. The money does
not matter, so long as you don't dislike me."
What Philip would have said to that, Helen could not know, for a
page in many buttons rushed at him with a message from the
telephone, and with a hand that trembled Philip snatched it. It
read: "Combine is announced, shares have gone to thirty-one,
shall I hold or sell?"
That at such a crisis he should permit of any interruption hurt
Helen deeply. She regarded him with unhappy eyes. Philip read the
message three times. At last, and not without uneasy doubts as to
his own sanity, he grasped the preposterous truth. He was worth
almost a quarter of a million dollars! At the page he shoved his
last and only five-pound note. He pushed the boy from him.
"Run!" he commanded. "Get out of here, Tell him he is to SELL!"
He turned to Helen with a look in his eyes that could not be
questioned or denied. He seemed incapable of speech, and, to
break the silence, Helen said: "Is it good news?"
"That depends entirely upon you," replied Philip soberly.
"Indeed, all my future life depends upon what you are going to
Helen breathed deeply and happily.
"And--what am I going to say?"
"How can I know that?" demanded Philip. "Am I a mind reader?"
But what she said may be safely guessed from the fact that they
both chucked Lady Woodcotes luncheon, and ate one of penny buns,
which they shared with the bears in Regents Park.
Philip was just able to pay for the penny buns. Helen paid for