Tải bản đầy đủ

The man on the box


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Title:TheManontheBox
Author:HaroldMacGrath
PostingDate:February12,2013[EBook#6578]ReleaseDate:September,2004
FirstPosted:December29,2002
Language:English
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[Illustration:HenryE.Dixeyin"TheManontheBox."]
THEMANONTHEBOX



by
HAROLDMACGRATH

AuthorofTheGreyCloak,ThePuppetCrown
IllustratedbyscenesfromWalterN.Lawrence'sbeautifulproductionoftheplay
asseenfor123nightsattheMadisonSquareTheatre,NewYork

ToMissLouiseEverts


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
IIntroducesMyHero
IIIntroducesMyHeroine
IIITheAdventureBegins
IVAFamilyReunion
VThePlotThickens
VITheManontheBox
VIIAPoliceAffair
VIIIAnotherSaladIdea
IXTheHeroineHiresaGroom
XPirate
XITheFirstRide
XIIATicklishBusiness
XIIIARunaway
XIVAnOrdealorTwo
XVRetrospective


XVIThePreviousAffair
XVIIDinnerisServed
XVIIICaught!
XIX"Oh,MisterButler"
XXTheEpisodeoftheStovePipe
XXITheRose
XXIITheDramaUnrolls
XXIIISomethingAboutHeroes
XXIVAFineLover
XXVAFineHeroine,Too
XXVITheCastleofRomance



Heeitherfearshisfatetoomuch,
Orhisdesertsaresmall,
Whodaresnotputittothetouch
Towinorloseitall.

DramatisPersonae
ColonelGeorgeAnnesleyAretiredArmyOfficer
MissBettyAnnesleyHisdaughter
LieutenantRobertWarburtonLatelyresigned
Mr.JohnWarburtonHiselderbrother,oftheWarDepartment


Mrs.JohnWarburtonTheelderbrother'swife
MissNancyWarburtonThelieutenant'ssister
Mr.CharlesHendersonHerfiance
CountKarloffAnunattacheddiplomat
ColonelFrankRaleighTheLieutenant'sRegimentalColonel
Mrs.ChadwickAproductofWashingtonlife
MonsieurPierreAchef
MademoiselleCelesteAlady'smaid
JaneMrs.Warburton'smaid
TheHopefulAbaby
WilliamAstable-boy
FashionablePeopleNecessaryforadinnerparty
CelebritiesAlsonecessaryforadinnerparty
UnfashionablesPolice,cabbies,grooms,clerks,etc.

TIME—Withinthepasttenyears.
SCENE—Washington,D.C.,anditsenvirons.


I
INTRODUCESMYHERO

Ifyouwillcarefullyobserveanymapoftheworldthatisdividedintoinchesat
somanymilestotheinch,youwillbesurprisedasyoucalculatethedistance
betweenthatenchantingParisofFranceandthethird-precinctpolice-stationof
Washington,D.C,whichisnotenchanting.Itisseveralthousandmiles.Again,
ifyouwilltakethepainstorunyourglance,nodoubtdiscerning,overthe
police-blotteratthecourt(andfrankly,Irefusetotellyoutheexactdateofthis
whimsicaladventure),youwillnotewithevengreatersurprisethatallthis
hubbubwascausedbynocrimeagainstthecommonwealthoftheRepublicor
againstthepersonofanyofitsconglomeratepeople.Theblotterreads,inheavy
simplefist,"disorderlyconduct,"aphrasewhichisalmostasembracingasthe
worddiplomacy,orsociety,orrespectability.
Sofarasmyknowledgegoes,thereisnosuchapersonasJamesOsborne.If,by
anyunhappychance,hedoesexist,Itrustthathewillpardonthecivillawof
Washington,myownmeasureoffamiliarity,andthequestionabletasteonthe
partofmyhero—hero,because,fromtherisetothefallofthecurtain,he
occupiesthecenterofthestageinthislittlecomedy-drama,andbecauseauthors
haveyettofindahappysynonymfortheword.ThenameJamesOsbornewas
givenforthesimplereasonthatitwasthefirstthatoccurredtotheculprit's
mind,sodesperateaneffortdidhemaketohidehisidentity.Supposing,forthe
sakeofanargumentinhisfavor,supposinghehadsaidJohnSmithorWilliam
JonesorJohnBrown?Tothisverydayhewouldhavebeenhiringlawyersto
extricatehimfromlibelandfalse-representationsuits.Besides,hadhegivenany
ofthesenames,wouldnotthathound-likescentoftheeversuspiciouspolice
havebeenaroused?
Tomoveroundandroundinthecircleofcommonplace,andthentopopoutofit
likeatailedcomet!Suchisthehistoryofmanyaman'slife.Ihaveanearfriend


whowentawayfromtownonefall,happyandcontentedwithhislot.Andwhat
doyousupposehefoundwhenhereturnedhome?Hehadbeennominatedfor
alderman.Itistooearlytopredictthefateofthisunhappyman.Andwhattools
Fateuseswithwhichtocarveoutherdeviouspeculiarpatterns!AnApache
Indian,besmearedwithbrilliantgreasesandsmellingofthewaterthatnever
freezes,anunderstudytoCupid?Fudge!youwillsay,orPshaw!orwhatever
slangphraseishandyand,prevalentatthemomentyoureadandrun.
Ipersonallywarnyouthatthisisareally-trulystory,thoughIdonotundertake
toforceyoutobelieveit;neitherdoIpurveymanygrainsofsalt.IfTruthwent
aboutheraffairslaughing,howmanymorepersonswouldturnandlisten!For
mypart,IbelieveitallnonsensethewayartistshavepicturedTruth.Theideais
prettyenough,butsofarashittingthings,itrecallsthewoman,thestone,and
thehen.IamconvincedthatTruthgoesaboutdressedinthedowdiestofclothes,
withblack-lislegloveswornatthefingers,andshoesrundownintheheels,an
exactportraitofoneofPhilMay'slydies.Thusitisthatwepassherby,forthe
artisticsenseineverybeingisrepelledatthesightofadowdywithweeping
eyesandanosethathasbeenrubbedtillitisasredasawinterapple.Anyhow,if
shedoesgoaboutinbeautifulnudity,sheoughtatleasttoclotheherselfwith
smilesandlaughter.Therearesorryenoughthingsintheworldasitis,withouta
lachrymal,hypochondriacalTruthpokingherfaceineverywhere.
Notmanymonthsago,whileseatedonthestoneverandaintherearofthe
MetropolitanClubinWashington(Ibelievewewerediscussingthemeritsof
someveryoldproduct),Irecountedsomeofthelighterchaptersofthis
adventure.
"Eempossible!"murmuredtheRussianattache,justasifthematterhadnotcome
underhisnoticesemi-officially.
Ipresumethatthisexclamationdisclosedanothersidetodiplomacy,which,
strippedofitsfineclothes,meansdexterityinhidingsecretsandinnegotiating
lies.Whenonediplomatbelieveswhatanothersays,itistimefortheformer's
governmenttosendhimpacking.However,theEnglishmanatmyrightgazed
smilingintohispartlyemptiedglassandgentlystirredtheice.Iadmirethe
Englishdiplomat;heneverwastesalie.Heisfrugalandsaving.
"Butthenewspapers!"criedthejournalist."Theyneverranaline;andanexploit
likethiswouldscarcehaveescapedthem."


"IfIrememberrightly,itwasreportedintheregularpoliceitemsoftheday,"
saidI.
"Strangethattheboysdidn'tlookbehindthescenes."
"Oh,Idon'tknow,"remarkedthecongressman;"lotsofthingshappenofwhich
youareallignorant.Thepublicmustn'tknoweverything."
"Butwhat'sthehero'sname?"askedthejournalist.
"That'sasecret,"Ianswered."Besides,whenitcomestothebottomofthe
matter,Ihadsomethingtodowiththesuppressingofthepolicenews.Inacase
likethis,suppressionbecomesalawnotexcelledbythatwhichgovernsselfpreservation.MyfriendhasabrotherintheWarDepartment;andtogetherwe
workedwonders."
"It'sajollydrollstory,howeveryoulookatit,"theEnglishmanadmitted.
"Nevertheless,ithaditstragicside;butthatisevenmorethaneverasecret."
TheEnglishmanlookedatmesharply,evengravely;buttheverandaisonly
dimlyilluminatedatnight,andhisscrutinywentunrewarded.
"Eh,well!"saidtheRussian;"yourphilosopherhasobservedthatallmankind
lovesalover."
"Asallwomankindlovesalove-story,"theEnglishmanadded."Yououghttobe
verysuccessfulwiththeladies,"—turningtome.
"Notinordinately;butIshallnotfailtorepeatyourepigram,"—andIrose.
Mywatchtoldmethatitwashalfaftereight;andonedoesnotreceiveeveryday
aninvitationtoadinner-danceattheChevyChaseClub.
Idislikeexceedinglytointrudemyownpersonalityintothisnarrative,butasI
waspassivelyconcerned,IdonotseehowIcanavoidit.Besides,beingapublic
man,Iamnotwhollyaversetopublicity;firstperson,singular,perpendicular,as
Thackerayhadit,intypelooksratheragreeabletotheeye.AndIratherbelieve
thatIhaveamoraltopointoutandaparabletoexpound.


MyappointmentinWashingtonatthattimewasextraordinary;thatistosay,I
wasamemberofoneofthosecommitteesthatarebornfrequentlyandsuddenly
inWashington,andwhichalmostimmediatelyafterregistrationinthevital
statisticsofnationalpolitics.IhadbeensenttoCongress,adazzlinghaloover
myhead,theprideandhopeofmylittlecountrytown;Ihadbeendefeatedfor
secondterm;hadbeenrecommendedtoserveonthecommitteeaforesaid;
servedwithhonor,gotmynameinthegreatnewspapers,andwassentbackto
Congress,whereIamstillto-day,waitingpatientlyforadiscerningpresident
andavacancyinthelegaldepartmentofthecabinet.That'saboutallIam
willingtosayaboutmyself.
Asforthisheroofmine,hewasthehandsomest,liveliestrascalyouwould
expecttomeetinaday'sride.ByhandsomeIdonotmeanperfectfeatures,red
cheeks,Byroniceyes,andsoforth.Thatstyleofbeautybelongstothe
departmentofladynovelists.Imeanthatpeculiarmanlybeautywhichattracts
menalmostaspowerfullyasitdoeswomen.ForthesakeofanameIshallcall
himWarburton.HisgivennameinactuallifeisRobert.ButIamafraidthat
nobodybuthismotherandoneotherwomanevercalledhimRobert.Theworld
atlargedubbedhimBob,andsuchhewillremainuptothatday(andmayitbe
manyyearshence!)whenrecoursewillbehadtoRobert,because"Bob"would
certainlylookverysillyonamarbleshaft.
Whatafriendlysignisanickname!ItisalwaysagoodfellowwhoiscalledBob
orBill,JackorJim,Tom,DickorHarry.EvenoutofTheodoretherecomesa
Teddy.IknowinmyowncasetheboysusedtocallmeChuck,simplybecauseI
wasnamedCharles.(Ihaven'ttheslightestdoubtthatIwasnamedCharles
becausemygoodmotherthoughtIlookedsomethinglikeVandyke'sCharlesI,
thoughatthetimeofmybaptismIworenobeardwhatever.)AndhowIhateda
boywithahigh-sounding,unnicknamablegivenname!—withhisroundwhite
collarandhislongglossycurls!Idaresayhehatedthename,thecollar,andthe
curlsevenmorethanIdid.Wheneveryourunacrossanamecardedinthis
stiltedfashion,"A.ThingumySoandso",youmaymakeupyourmindatonce
thattheownerisashamedofhisfirstnameandistryingmanfullytoliveitdown
andeventuallyforgivehisparents.
WarburtonwasgraduatedfromWestPoint,ticketedtoadesolatefrontierpost,
andwouldhavewornouthisexistencetherebutforhisguidingstar,whichwas
alwaysmakingfranticeffortstoboltitsestablishedorbit.Onedayhewasdoing
scoutduty,perhapshalfamileinadvanceofthepay-train,astheycalledthe


picturesquecaravanwhich,consistingofacanopiedwagonandasmalltroopof
cavalryindingyblue,madeprogressacrossthedesert-likeplainsofArizona.
Thetroopwassometenmilesfromthepost,andastherehadbeennosignof
RedEagleallthatday,theyconcludedthattherumorofhisbeingonadrunken
rampagewithhalfadozenbraveswasonlyarumor.Warburtonhadjustpassed
overarollofearth,andforamomentthepay-trainhaddroppedoutofsight.It
wastwilight;opalescentwavesofheatrolledabovetheblisteredsands.Apale
yellowsky,likeaninvertedbowlrimmedwithdelicateblueandcrimsonhues,
encompassedtheworld.Theblissofsolitudefellonhim,and,beingsomething
ofapoet,herosetothestars.Thesmokeofhiscorncobpipetrailedlazily
behindhim.Thehorseunderhimwaslopingalongeasily.Suddenlytheanimal
liftedhishead,andhisbrownearswentforward.
AtWarburton'sleft,somehundredyardsdistant,wasaclumpofosagebrush.
Evenashelooked,therecameapuffofsmoke,followedbytheevilsongofa
bullet.Myhero'shatwascarriedaway.Hewheeled,dughisheelsintohishorse,
andcutbackoverthetrail.Therecameasecondflash,ashock,andthena
terriblepaininthecalfofhisleftleg.Hefellovertheneckofhishorsetoescape
thethirdbullet.HecouldseetheApacheashestoodoutfrombehindthebush.
WarburtonyankedouthisColtandletfly.Heheardayell.Itwasvery
comforting.Thatwasallherememberedoftheskirmish.
Forfiveweekshelanguishedinthehospital.Duringthattimehecametothe
conclusionthathehadhadenoughofmilitarylifeintheWest.Heappliedforhis
discharge,asthecompulsorytermofservicewasatanend.Whenhispapers
camehewasabletogetaboutwiththeaidofacrutch.Onemorninghiscolonel
enteredhissubaltern'sbachelorquarters.
"Wouldn'tyouratherhaveayear'sleaveofabsence,thanquitaltogether,
Warburton?"
"Ayear'sleaveofabsence?"criedtheinvalid,"Iamlikelytogetthat,Iam."
"IfyouheldaresponsiblepositionIdaresayitwouldbedifficult.Asitis,Imay
saythatIcanobtainitforyou.Itwillbemonthsbeforeyoucanrideahorsewith
thatleg."
"Ithankyou,ColonelRaleigh,butIthinkI'llresign.Infact,Ihaveresigned."
"Wecanwithdrawthat,ifyoubutsaytheword.Idon'twanttoloseyou,lad.


You'retheonlymanaroundherewholikesajokeaswellasIdo.Andyouwill
haveacompanyifyou'llonlysticktoitalittlelonger."
"Ihavedecided,Colonel.I'msorryyoufeellikethisaboutit.Yousee,Ihave
somethingliketwenty-fivethousandlaidaway.Iwanttoseeatleastfive
thousanddollars'worthofnewscenerybeforeIshuffleoffthismortalcoil.The
sceneryaroundherepallsonme.Mythroatandeyesarealwaysfullofsand.I
amofftoEurope.Someday,perhaps,thebeewillbuzzagain;andwhenitdoes,
I'llhaveyougopersonallytothepresident."
"Asyouplease,Warburton."
"Besides,Colonel,IhavebeenreadingTreasureIslandagain,andI'vegotthe
feverinmyveinstohuntforadventure,evenatreasure.It'sinmybloodto
wanderanddostrangethings,andhereI'vebeenhamperedalltheseyearswith
routine.Ishouldn'tcareifwehadagoodfightonceinawhile.Mypoorolddad
traveledaroundtheworldthreetimes,andIhaven'tseenanythingofitbutthe
maps."
"Goahead,then.Only,talkingaboutTreasureIsland,don'tyouandyourtwentyfivethousandrunintosomeoldLongJohnSilver."
"I'lltakecare."
AndMr.Robertpackeduphiskitandsailedaway.Notmanymonthspassedere
hemethiscolonelagain,andunderratherembarrassingcircumstances.


II
INTRODUCESMYHEROINE

Letmebeginatthebeginning.TheboathadbeentwodaysoutofSouthampton
beforethefogclearedaway.Ontheafternoonofthethirdday,Warburtoncurled
upinhissteamer-chairandlazilyviewedtheblueOctoberseasastheymetand
mergedwiththeblueOctoberskies.Idonotrecollectthepopularnovelofthat
summer,butatanyrateitlayflappingatthesideofhischair,forgotten.Itnever
enteredmyhero'smindthatsomepoordevilofanauthorhadsweatedand
laboredwithinfinitepainsovereveryline,andparagraph,andpage-laboredwith
allthecareandlovehisheartandmindwerecapableof,toproducethisfinished
childoffancy;orthatthissameauthor,evenatthisverymoment,mightbe
seatedontheverandaofhisbeautifulsummervilla,figuringoutroyaltiesonthe
backsofstrayenvelopes.No,heneverthoughtofthesethings.
Whatwiththewindandthesoft,ceaselessjarofthethrobbingengines,halfa
dreamhoveredabovehishead,andtouchedhimwithagentle,insistentcaress.If
youhadpassedbyhimthisafternoon,andhadbeenanythingofamathematician
whocouldstraightenoutgeometricalangles,youwouldhavecomeclosetohis
heighthadyoustoppedatfivefeetnine.Indeed,hadyouclippedofftheheelsof
hislowshoes,youwouldhavebeenexact.Butallyournicecalculationswould
nothavesolvedhisweight.Hewasslender,buthewashardandcompact.These
hard,slenderfellowssometimesweighmorethanyourmenofgreaterbulk.He
tippedthescalesatonehundredsixty-two,andhelookedtwentypoundsless.He
wastwenty-eight;acasualglanceathim,andyouwouldhavebeenwillingto
wagerthatthejoyofcastinghisfirstvotewasyettobehis.
TheprincesscommandsthatIdescribeindetailthecharmsofthisArmyAdonis.
FarbeitthatIshoulddisobeysoaugustacommand,being,asIam,theprime
ministerinthisherprincipalityofDomesticFelicity.Herbrotherhasnever
ceasedtobeamongthefirstinherdearregard.Hepossessedthemerriestblack


eyes:hismother'seyes,asI,aboy,rememberthem.Nomatterhowimmobilehis
featuresmightbe,theseeyesofhiswereeverreadyforlaughter.Hisnosewas
clean-cutandshapely.Aphrenologistwouldhavesaidthathisheaddidnotlack
thebumpofcaution;butIknowbetter.Atpresentheworeabeard;sothisisas
largeaninventoryofhispersonalattractionsasIamabletogive.Whenhe
shavesoffhisbeard,Ishallbepleasedtoaddfurtherparticulars.Ioftenmarvel
thatthewomendidnotturnhishead.Theywerealwayssendinghimnotesand
invitationsandcuttingdancesforhim.Perhapshisdevil-may-careairhad
somethingtodowiththeenchantment.Ihaveyettoseehisequalasahorseman.
Hewouldhavemadeitinterestingforthatpairofmilk-whiteswhichourold
friend,Ulysses(orwasitDiomedes?)hadsuchadoabout.
Everymanhassomeviceorother,evenifitisonlybeinggood.Warburtonhad
perhapstwo:pokerandtobacco.Hewouldgetoutofbedatanyhourifsome
congenialspiritknockedatthedoorandwhisperedthatalittlegamewasin
progress,andthathismoneywasneededtokeepitgoing.Idaresaythatyou
knowallabouttheselittlegames.Butwhatwouldyou?Whatisamantodoina
countrywhereyoumaybuyawholevillagefortendollars?Warburtonseldom
drank,and,liketheauthorofthispreciousvolume,onlyspecialvintages.
Atthisparticularmomentthisheroofminewasgoingoverthemonotonyofthe
olddaysinArizona,thesand-deserts,theunlovelylandscapes,thedullroutine,
theindifferentskirmisheswithcattle-menandIndians;thepaganbulletwhich
hadplowedthroughhisleg.Andnowitwasallover;hehadsurrenderedhis
straps;hewasaprivatecitizen,withanincomesufficientforhisneeds.Itwillgo
alongway,forty-fivehundredayear,ifonedoesnotattempttocoverthe
distanceinafive-thousandmotor-car;andhehatedalllocomotionthatwasnot
horse-flesh.
ForninemonthshehadbeenwanderingoverEurope,ifnothappy,atleastina
satisfiedframeofmind.Fourofthesemonthshadbeendelightfullypassedin
Paris;and,ashisnomadexcursionshadinvariablyterminatedinthatqueenof
cities,ImakeParisthestartingpointofhissomewhatremarkableadventures.
Besides,itwasinParisthathefirstsawHer.Andnow,herehewasatlast,
homeward-bound.Thatphrasehadamightypleasantsound;itwastotheear
whathoneyistothetongue.Still,hemightyethavebeeninParisbutforone
thing:Shewasonboardthisveryboat.
Suddenlyhiseyesopenedfullwide,brightwitheagerness.


"ItisShe!"hemurmured.Heclosedhiseyesagain,thehypocrite!
Permitmetointroduceyoutomyheroine.Mindyou,sheisnotmycreation;
onlyHeavenmayproduceherlike,andbutonce.Sheiswellworthturning
aroundtogazeat.IndeedIknowmorethanonefinegentlemanwhoforgotthe
timeofday,theimportantengagement,orthetrendofhisthought,whenshe
passedby.
Shewascomingforward,leaningagainstthewindandincliningtotheuncertain
rolloftheship.Agrayraincoatfittedsnuglytheyouthfulroundedfigure.Her
handswereplungedintothepockets.YoumaybesurethatMr.Robertnoted
throughhishalf-closedeyelidstheseinconsequentdetails.Atouristhatsat
jauntilyonthefinelightbrownhair,thatcolorwhichhasnoappropriate
metaphor.(Atleast,Ihaveneverfoundone,andIamnotinlovewithherand
neverwas.)Warburtonhasdescribedtomehereyes,soIampositivethatthey
wereasheavenlyblueasarajah'ssapphire.Herheightisofnomoment.What
manevertroubledhimselfabouttheheightofawoman,solongashewasn't
undersizedhimself?WhatpleasedWarburtonwastheexquisiteskin.Hewas
alwayshappywithhiscomparisons,andparticularlywhenhelikenedherskinto
thebloomyolivepallorofayoungpeach.Theindependentstridewas
distinguishinglyAmerican.Ah,thecharmofthesewomenwhoaremy
countrywomen!Theycome,theygo,alone,unattended,courageouswithout
beingbold,self-reliantwithoutbeingrude;inimitable.Inwhatanamiableframe
ofmindNaturemusthavebeenonthedayshecastthesemolds!ButIproceed.
Theyoungwoman'schinwastilted,andWarburtoncouldtellbythedilated
nostrilsthatshewasbreathinginthegalewithallthejoyofliving,fillingher
healthylungswithitasthatraredaughteroftheCyprianIslemighthavedoneas
shesprangthatmornfromthejeweledMediterraneanspray,thatbeggar'sbrooch
ofNeptune's.
Warburton'shearthadn'tthrilledsosincethedaywhenhefirstdonnedcadet
gray.Therewasscarceanyroomforhertopassbetweenhischairandtherail;
andthisknowledgefilledtherascalwithexultation.Nearerandnearershecame.
Hedrewinhisbreathsharplyasthecornerofhisfoot-rest(aidedbythesly
wind)caughtherraincoat.
"Ibegyourpardon!"hesaid,sittingup.
Shequicklyreleasedhercoat,smiledfaintly,andpassedon.


Sometimesthemostlastingimpressionsarethosewhichareprintedmostlightly
onthememory.Mr.Robertsaysthatheneverwillforgetthatfirstsmile.Andhe
didn'tevenknowhernamethen.
Iwasabouttoengageyourattentionwithadescriptionofthevillain,buton
secondthoughtIhavedecidedthatitwouldberatherunfair.Foratthatmoment
hewasatadisadvantage.Naturewaspunishinghimforafewshortcomings.The
stewardthatnightinformedWarburton,inanswertohisinquiries,thathe,the
villain,wasdreadfullyseasick,andwasbegginghim,thesteward,toscuttlethe
shipandhavedonewithit.Ihavemydoubtsregardingthis.Mr.Robertis
inclinedtoflippancyattimes.Itwasn'tseasickness;andafterallissaidand
done,itisputtingitharshlytocallthismanavillain.Irecant.Truevillainyis
alwaysbaseduponselfishness.Rememberthis,mywiseones.
Warburtonwassomewhatsubduedwhenhelearnedthatthesufferinggentleman
washerfather.
"Whatdidyousaythenamewas?"heaskedinnocently.Untilnowhehadn'thad
thecouragetoputthequestiontoanyone,ortoprowlaroundthepurser'sbooks.
"Annesley;ColonelAnnesleyanddaughter,"answeredtheunsuspecting
steward.
Warburtonknewnothingthenofthementaltragedygoingonbehindthe
colonel'sstate-roomdoor.Howshouldhehaveknown?Onthecontrary,he
believedthatthefatherofsuchagirlmustbeamostknightlyandcourtly
gentleman.Hewas,inalloutwardappearance.Therehadbeenatime,notlong
since,whenhehadbeenknightlyandcourtlyinallthings.
Surroundingeveryuprightmanthereisamire,andifhestepnotwisely,heis
lost.Thereisnocomingback;stepbystephemustgoonandon,tillhevanishes
andabubblerisesoverwherehebutlatelystood.Thathemissteppedinnocently
doesnotmatter;mireandevilhaveneitherpitynorreason.Tospendwhatisnot
oursandthentotrytorecoverit,tohidetheguiltystep:thisisfutility.Fromthe
alphamenhavemadethisstep;totheomegatheywillmakeit,withthesame
unchangingfutility.Afterall,itismoney.Moneyistherootofallevil;lethim
laughwhowill,inhisheartofheartsheknowsit.
Money!Haveyouneverheardthatsirencalltoyou,callseductivelyfromher
raggedisle,wherelurkthereefsofgreedandselfishness?Money!Whathasthis


sirennottooffer?Power,ease,glory,luxury;aye,Ihadalmostsaidlove!But,
no;loveisthegiftofGod,moneyistheinventionofman:allthegood,allthe
evil,intheheartofthisgreathumanity.


III
THEADVENTUREBEGINS

Itwasonlywhentheshipwaslessthanaday'sjourneyoffSandyHookthatthe
colonelcameondeck,oncemoretoresumehisinterestinhumanaffairs.How
thegirlhoveredabouthim!Shetuckedtheshawlmoresnuglyaroundhisfeet;
shearrangedandrearrangedthepillowsbackofhishead;shefedhimfroma
bowlofsoup;shereadfromsomefavoritebook;shesmoothedthefurrowed
brow;shestilledthelong,white,nervousfingerswithherownsmall,firm,
brownones;shewasmotheranddaughterinone.Wherevershemoved,the
parenteyefollowedher,andtherelayinitsdeepsastrangemixtureoffear,and
trouble,andquestioninglove.Allthewhilehedrummedceaselesslyonthearms
ofhischair.
AndMr.Robert,watchingallthesethingsfromafar,Mr.Robertsighed
dolorously.Theresidueairinhislungswasrenewedmorefrequentlythannature
originallyintendeditshouldbe.Lovehasitsbeneficencesaswellasitspangs,
onlytheyarenotwhollyappreciablebytherecipient.Forwhatisbetterthana
goodpairoflungsconstantlyfilledandrefilledwithpureair?Mr.Roberteven
feltatwingeofremorsebesides.Hewasbrothertoagirlalmostasbeautifulas
yonderone(tomymindfarmorebeautiful!)andherecalledthatintwoyearshe
hadnotseenhernormadestrenuouseffortstokeepupthecorrespondence.
Anothergoodpointaddedtothescoreoflove!And,alas!hemightneversee
thischarminggirlagain,thisdaughtersofulloffilialloveandcare.Hehad
soughtthecaptain,butthathaleandheartyoldsea-doghadpolitelyrebuffed
him.
"Mydearyoungman,"hesaid,"IdoallIpossiblycanfortheentertainmentand
comfortofmypassengers,butinthiscaseImustrefuseyourrequest."
"Andpray,why,sir?"demandedMr.Robert,withdignity.


"FortheoneandsimplereasonthatColonelAnnesleyexpressedthedesiretobe
therecipientofnoshipintroductions."
"Whatthedeuceishe,abillionaire?"
"Youhavemethere,sir.IconfessthatIknownothingwhateverabouthim.This
isthefirsttimehehaseversailedonmydeck."
AllofwhichperfectlyaccountsforMr.Robert'ssighsinwhatmusicianscallthe
doloroso.Ifonlyheknewsomeonewhoknewthecolonel!Howsimpleitwould
be!Certainly,aWestPointgraduatewouldfindsomeconsideration.Butthe
colonelspoketonoonesavehisdaughter,andhisdaughtertononebuther
parent,hermaid,andthestewardess.WouldtheyremaininNewYork,orwould
theyseektheirfar-offsouthernhome?Oh,thethousandsofquestionswhich
surgedthroughhisbrain!Fromtimetotimeheglancedsympatheticallyatthe
colonel,whosefingersdrummedanddrummedanddrummed.
"Poorwretch!hisstomachmustbeinbadshape.Ormaybehehasthepalsy."
Warburtonmuseduponthecuriousincertitudeofthehumananatomy.
ButColonelAnnesleydidnothavethepalsy.Whathehadisatoncethegreatest
blessingandthegreatestcurseofGod—remembrance,orconscience,ifyou
will.
Whatabeautifulcolorherhairwas,dappledwithsunshineandshadow!…
Pshaw!Mr.Robertthrewasidehisshawlandbook(itisofnorealimportance,
butImayaswelladdthathenevercompletedthereadingofthatsummer'smost
popularnovel)andsoughtthesmoking-room,where,withtheaidofafat
perfectoandaliberalstackofblues,heproceededtodiverthimselftilltheboat
reachedquarantine.Ishallnotsaythatheleftanyofhispatrimonyatthe
mahoganytablewithitsgreen-baizecoveringanditslittlebrassdisksforcigar
ashes,butIamcertainthathedidnotmakeoneofthosestupendouswinnings
weoftenreadaboutandneverwitness.Thismuch,however:hemadethe
acquaintanceofaveryimportantpersonage,whowaspresentlytoaddno
insignificantweightonthescalesofMr.Robert'sdestiny.
HewasaRussian,young,handsome,suave,ofwhatthenewspapersinsiston
callingdistinguishedbearing.HespokeEnglishpleasantlybutimperfectly.He
possessedacapitalfundofanecdote,andWarburton,beinganArmyman,loved
agooddrollstory.Itwasarevelationtoseethewayhedippedtheendofhis


cigarintohiscoffee,astimulantwhichhedrankwithBalzacianfrequencyand
relish.Besidestheseaccomplishments,heplayedaverysmoothhandatthegreat
Americangame.WhileMr.Robert'sadmirationwasnotaroused,itwassurely
awakened.
Myherohadnotroublewiththecustomsofficials.AbraceofoldFrenchdueling
pistolsandaTurkishsimitarweretheonlyarticleswhichmightpossiblyhave
beendutiable.Theinspectorlookedhard,buthewasfinallyconvincedthatMr.
Robertwasnotaprofessionalcurio-collector.Warburton,neverhavingreturned
fromabroadbefore,foundadealofamusementandfoodforthoughtinthe
ensuingscenes.Therewasoneman,aprim,irascibleoldfellow,whowasnot
allowedtopassintwodozenfineGermanrazors.Therewasatimeofit,angry
words,threats,protestations.Theinspectorstoodfirm.Theoldgentleman,ina
fineburstofpassion,tossedtherazorsintothewater.Thentheyweregoingto
arresthimforsmuggling.Afriendextricatedhim.Theoldgentlemanwentaway,
sayingsomethingaboutthetariffandanunreasonablywarmplacewhichhasas
manysynonymsasanoctopushastentacles.
Anotherman,hismouthcoveredbyanenormousblackmustachewhichmust
havereceivedabatheverymorningincoffeeorsomethingstronger,came
forwardpompously.Idon'tknowtothisdaywhatmagicwordhesaid,butthe
inspectorstookneverapeepintohisbelongings.Doubtlesstheyknewhim,and
thathiswordwasasgoodashisbond.
HereawomanweptbecausethenecklaceshebroughttrustinglyfromRotterdam
mustbepaidforonceagain;andhereanother,whoclenchedherfists(dowomen
havefists?)andiflookscouldhavekilledtherewouldhavebeenavacancyin
customsforthwith.Allherchoicestlinenstrewnaboutonthedirtyboards,all
soiledandrumpledanduseless!
Whenthecolonel'sturncame,Warburtonmovedwithinhearingdistance.How
gloriousshelookedinthatsmartgraytravelinghabit!Withwhatwell-bred
indifferenceshegazeduponthescene!Calmlyherglancepassedamongthe
circlesofstrangefaces,andeverandanonreturnedtothegreatshipwhichhad
safelybroughtherbacktohernativeland.Therewereotherwomenwhowere
justaswell-bredandindifferent,onlyWarburtonhadbutonepairofeyes.Sighs
inthedolorosoagain.Ha!ifonlyoneofthesemeddlingjackasseswouldshow
hersomedisrespectandgivehimtheopportunityofavengingtheaffront!


(Come,now;letmebeyourconfessor.Haveyouneverthoughtandactedlike
thisheroofmine?Haven'tyoubeenjustasmelodramaticandridiculous?Itis
nothingtobeashamedof.Formypart,Ishouldconfesstoitwiththesame
equanimityasIshouldtothemumpsorthemeasles.Itcomeswith,andispart
andparcelof,allthatstrangemedleywefindinthePandoraboxoflife.Love
hasnodiagnosis,sothedoctorssay.'Tisallintheangleofvision.)
Butnothinghappened.ColonelAnnesleyandhisdaughterwereoldhands;they
hadgonethroughallthisbefore.Scarceanarticleintheirtrunkswasdisturbed.
Therewasaslightdutyofsometwelvedollars(Warburton'smemoryis
marvelous),andtheirluggagewasfree.Butalas,fortheperspicacityofthe
inspectors!Icanverywellimaginethegodofironyinnobetterormorefitting
placethanintheUnitedStatesCustomsHouse.
Onceoutside,thecolonelcaughttheeyeofacabby,andheandhisdaughter
steppedin.
"HollandHouse,sir,didyousay?"askedthecabby.
Thecolonelnodded.Thecabbycrackedhiswhip,andawaytheyrolledoverthe
pavement.
Warburton'sheartgaveagreatbound.Shehadactuallyleanedoutofthecab,
andforonebriefmomenttheirglanceshadmet.Scarceknowingwhathedid,he
jumpedintoanothercabandwentpoundingafter.Itwaseasilytenblocksfrom
thepierwhenthecabbyraisedthelidandpeereddownathisfare.
"Doyouwantt'follythemahead?"hecried.
"No,no!"Warburtonwasstartledoutofhiswilddream."DrivetotheHolland
House—no—totheWaldorf.Yes,theWaldorf;andkeepyournaggoing."
"Waldorfitis,sir!"Thelidaboveclosed.
Cloudshadgatheredintheheavens.Itwasbeginningtorain.ButWarburton
neithersawthecloudsnorfeltthefirstfewdropsofrain.Allthewayup-townhe
plannedandplanned—asmanyplansasthereweredropsofrain;therainwet
him,buttheplansdrownedhim—hebecamesubmerged.IfIwereanexpertat
analysis,whichIamnot,IshouldsaythatMr.Robertwasnotviolentlyinlove;
ratherIshouldobservethathewasfascinatedwiththefirstreallyfinefacehe


hadseeninseveralyears.LethimneverseeMissAnnesleyagain,andintwo
weekshewouldentirelyforgether.Iknowenoughoftheracetobeabletoput
forwardthisstatement.Ofcourse,itisunderstoodthathewouldhavetomingle
forthetimeamongotherhandsomewomen.Now,striveashewould,hecould
notthinkoutafeasibleplan.Oneplanmighthavegivenhimlight,butthe
thousandthatcametohimsimplyoverwhelmedhimfathomsdeep.Ifhecould
findsomeoneheknewattheHollandHouse,someonewhowouldstrikeupa
smoking-roomacquaintancewiththecolonel,therestwouldbesimpleenough.
Annesley—Annesley;hecouldn'tplacethename.Washearegular,retired,ora
veteranoftheCivilWar?Andyet,thenamewasnottotallyunfamiliar.
Certainly,hewasafine-lookingoldfellow,withhiswhitehairandAlexandrian
nose.Andherehewas,he,RobertWarburton,inNewYork,simplybecausehe
happenedtobeinthebookingofficeoftheGareduNordonemorningand
overheardaverybeautifulgirlsay:"ThenweshallsailfromSouthamptonday
afterto-morrow."Ofatruth,itistheinfinitesimalthingsthatcountheaviest.
Sodeepwasheinthemazeofhistentativeromancethatwhenthecabfinally
stoppedabruptly,hewastotallyunawareofthetransitionfromactivityto
passivity.
"Hotel,sir!"
"Ah,yes!"Warburtonleapedout,fumbledinhispocket,andbroughtfortha
five-dollarnote,whichhegavetothecabby.Hedidnotrealizeit,butthiswas
theonlypieceofAmericanmoneyhehadonhisperson.Nordidhewaitforthe
change.Mr.Robertwasexceedinglycarelesswithhismoneyatthisstageofhis
infatuation;beingasoldier,heneverknewtherealvalueoflegaltender.Iknow
thatIshouldneverhavebeenguiltyofsuchliberality,notevenifMisterCabby
hadbowledmefromHarlemtoBrooklyn.Andyoumaytakemywordforit,the
gentlemanintheancientplug-hatdidnotwaittoseeifhisfarehadmadea
mistake,buttrottedawaygoodandhearty.Thecabsystemisoneofthemost
pleasingandamiablephasesofmetropolitanlife.
Warburtonrushedintothenoisy,gorgeouslobby,andwanderedabouttillhe
espiedthedesk.Hereheturnedoverhisluggagecheckstotheclerkandsaidthat
theseaccessoriesoftravelmustbeinhisroombeforeeighto'clockthatnight,or
therewouldbetrouble.Itwasnowhalfafterfive.Theclerkeagerlyscannedthe
register.Warburton,RobertWarburton;itwasnotanamewithwhichhewas
familiar.Athinfilmoficyhauteurspreadoverhisface.


"Verywell,sir.Doyouwishabathwithyourroom?"
"Certainly."Warburtonglancedathiswatchagain.
"Theprice—"
"Hangtheprice!Aroom,aroomwithabath—that'swhatIwant.Haveyougot
it?"Thiswassaidwithadealofrealimpatienceandahauteurthatovertopped
theclerk's.
Thefilmoficemeltedintoagracioussmile.Somenewmillionairefrom
Pittsburg,thoughttheclerk.Heswungthebookaround.
"Youhaveforgottenyourplaceofresidence,sir,"hesaid.
"Placeofresidence!"
Warburtonlookedattheclerkinblankastonishment.Placeofresidence?Why,
heavenhelphim,hehadnone,none!ForthefirsttimesincehelefttheArmythe
knowledgecamehometohim,anditstruckratherdeep.Hecaughtupthepen,
poiseditanindecisivemoment,thenhastilyscribbledParis:aswellParisas
anywhere.Thenhetookouthiswallet,comfortablypackedwithEnglishand
Frenchbank-notes,andasecondwaveofastonishmentrolledoverhim.
Altogether,itwasararegoodchancethatheevercametothesurfaceagain.No
plan,noplaceofresidence,noAmericanmoney!
"GoodLord!Iforgotallaboutexchangingitonshipboard!"heexclaimed.
"Don'tletthattroubleyou,sir,"saidtheclerk,withrealaffability."Ourown
bankwillexchangeyourmoneyinthemorning."
"ButIhaven'tapennyofAmericanmoneyonmyperson!"
"Howmuchwillyouneedfortheevening,sir?"
"Notmorethanfifty."
Theclerkbroughtforthaslipofpaper,wrotesomethingonit,andhandeditto
Warburton.


"Signhere,"hesaid,indicatingablankspace.
AndpresentlyMr.Robert,havingdepositedhisforeignmoneyinthesafe,
pocketedthereceiptforitsdepositalongwithfivecrispAmericannotes.There
isnothinglackinginthesemodernhostelries,exceptingitbeachurch.
Ourhomelessyounggentlemanlightedacigarandwentoutundertheportico.
Anearlydarknesshadsettledoverthecity,andaheavysteadyrainwasfalling.
Theasphaltpavementsglistenedandtwinkledasfarastheeye'srangecould
reach.Athousandlightsgleameddownonhim,andheseemedtobestandingin
acanondappledwithfireflies.Placeofresidence!Neitherthefig-treenorthe
vine!Didhelosehismoneyto-morrow,thesourceofhissmallincome,he
wouldbewithoutaroofoverhishead.True,hisbrother'sroofwouldalways
welcomehim:butaroof-treeofhisown!Andhecouldlayclaimtonocity,
either,havinghadthegoodfortunetobeborninahealthycountrytown.Place
ofresidence!Trulyhehadnone;amelancholyfactwhichhehadnotappreciated
tillnow.Andallthishadslippedhismindbecauseofapairofeyesasheavenly
blueasarajah'ssapphire!
Hangit,whatshouldhedo,nowthathewasnolongertraveling,nowthathis
timewasnolongerUncleSam's?Hehadnevertillnowknownidleness,andthe
thoughtofitdidnotrunsmoothlywiththegrain.Hewasessentiallyamanof
action.TheremightbesomegoodsportforasoldierinVenezuela,butthatwas
farawayanduncertain.ItwasquitepossibleJack,hisbrother,mightfindhima
postasmilitaryattache,perhapsinFrance,perhapsinBelgium,perhapsin
Vienna.Thatwasthegoalofmorethanonesubaltern.TheEnglishnovelististo
beblamedforthisambition.ButWarburtoncouldspeakFrenchwithacertain
fluency,andhisGermanwasgoodenoughtoswearby;soitwillbeseenthathe
hadsomegrounduponwhichtobuildthisambition.
Heigho!Theoldhomesteadwasgone;hissisterdweltundertheelderbrother's
roof;theprodigalwasalone.
"Butthere'salwaysafattedcalfwaitinginWashington,"helaughedaloud.
"Onceasoldier,alwaysasoldier.IsupposeI'llbebeggingthecoloneltohavea
chatwiththepresident.Theredoesn'tseemtobeanywayofgettingoutofit.I'll
havetodontheoldtogsagain.IoughttowritealettertoNancy,butitwillbe
finertodropinon'emunexpectedly.Blessherheart!(SosayI!)AndJack's,too,
andhislittlewife's!AndIhaven'twrittenalineineightweeks.ButI'llmakeit


allupintenminutes.AndifIhaven'taroof-tree,atleastI'vegotthereadycash
andcanbuyoneanyday."AllofwhichprovesthatMr.Robertpossesseda
buoyantspirit,andrefusedtobedowncastformorethanoneminuteatatime.
Hethrewawayhiscigarandreenteredthehotel,andthreadedhiswaythrough
theappallinglabyrinthsofcorridorstillhefoundsomeonetoguidehimtothe
barbershop,wherehecouldhavehishaircutandhisbeardtrimmedinthegood
oldAmericanway,moneynoobject.Foraplanhadatlastcometohim;andit
wasn'tatallbad.HedeterminedtodineattheHollandHouseateight-thirty.It
wasquitepossiblethathewouldseeHer.
Myonlywishisthat,whenIputoneveningclothes(inmyhumbleopinion,the
homeliestandmostuncomfortablegarbthatmaneverinvented!)Imightlook
one-quarterashandsomeandelegantasMr.Robertlooked,ashecamedown
stairsateight-tenthatnight.Hewasn'ttobeblamedifthewomenglancedinhis
direction,andthenwhisperedandwhispered,andnoddedandnodded.
Ordinarilyhewouldhaveobservedthesesignsoffeminineapproval,forthere
waswarmbloodinhisveins,anditisproverbialthattheArmymanisgallant.
Butto-nightDianaandherwhitehuntressesmighthavepassedhimbyandnot
arousedevenaflickerofinterestorsurpriseonhisface.Therewasonlyonepair
ofeyes,oneface,andtoseethesehewouldhavegladlygonetotheendsofthe
earth,travel-wearythoughhewas.
Hesmokedfeverishly,andwassomewhattroubledtofindthathehadn'tquite
gothislandlegs,astheysay.Thefloorswayedatintervals,andthethrobbingof
theenginescameback.Heleftthehotel,hailedacab,andwasdrivendownFifth
Avenue.Hestoppedbeforethefortressofprivileges.Fromthecabitlookedvery
formidable.Worldlyashewas,hewassomewhatinnocent.Hedidnotknowthat
NewYorkhotelsareformidableonlywhenyourmoneygivesout.Togetpastall
thesebrass-buttonedlackeysandtogoonasthoughhereallyhadbusiness
withintooknosmallquantityofnerve.However,heslippedbytheoutpost
withoutanychallengeandboldlyapproachedthedesk.Aquickglanceatthe
registertoldhimthattheyhadindeedputupatthishotel.Hecouldnotexplain
whyhefeltsohappyoverhisdiscovery.Therearecertainexultationswhichare
inexplicable.Asheturnedawayfromthedesk,hebumpedintoagentleman
almostaselegantlyattiredashimself.
"Ibegyourpardon!"hecried,steppingaside.


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