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Ranson's Folly
by Richard Harding Davis
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Ranson greeted him with respectful deference, and while Cahill seated himself, Ranson, chatting hospitably, placed cigars and glasses before him. He began upon the subject that touched him the most nearly.

"Miss Cahill was good enough to bring up my breakfast this morning," he said. "Has she told you of what I said to her?"

Cahill shook his head. "No, I haven't seen her. We've been taking account of stock all morning."

"Then—then you've heard nothing from her about me?" said Ranson.

The post trader raised his head in surprise. "No. Captain Carr spoke to me about your arrest, and then said you wanted to see me first about something private." The post trader fixed Ranson with his keen, unwavering eyes. "What might that be?" he asked.

"Well, it doesn't matter now," stammered Ranson; "I'll wait until Miss Cahill tells you."

"Any complaint about the food?" inquired the post trader.

Ranson laughed nervously. "No, it's not that," he said. He rose, and, to protect what Miss Cahill evidently wished to remain a secret, changed the subject. "You see you've lived in these parts so long, Mr. Cahill," he explained, "and you know so many people, I thought maybe you could put me on the track or give me some hint as to which of that Kiowa gang really did rob the paymaster." Ranson was pulling the cork from the whiskey bottle, and when he asked the question Cahill pushed his glass from him and shook his head. Ranson looked up interrogatively and smiled. "You mean you think I did it myself?" he asked.

"I didn't understand from Captain Carr," the post trader began in heavy tones, "that it's my opinion you're after. He said I might be wanted to testify who was present last night in my store."

"Certainly, that's all we want," Ranson answered, genially. "I only thought you might give me a friendly pointer or two on the outside. And, of course, if it's your opinion I did the deed we certainly don't want your opinion. But that needn't prevent your taking a drink with me, need it? Don't be afraid. I'm not trying to corrupt you. And I'm not trying to poison a witness for the other fellows, either. Help yourself."

Cahill stretched out his left hand. His right remained hidden in the side pocket of his coat. "What's the matter with your right hand?" Ranson asked. "Are you holding a gun on me? Really, Mr. Cahill, you're not taking any chances, are you?" Ranson gazed about the room as though seeking an appreciative audience. "He's such an important witness," he cried, delightedly, "that first he's afraid I'll poison him and he won't drink with me, and now he covers me with a gun."

Reluctantly, Cahill drew out his hand. "I was putting the bridle on my pony last night," he said. "He bit me."

Ranson exclaimed sympathetically, "Oh, that's too bad," he said. "Well, you know you want to be careful. A horse's teeth really are poisonous." He examined his own hands complacently. "Now, if I had a bandage like that on my right hand they would hang me sure, no matter whether it was a bite, or a burn, or a bullet."

Cahill raised the glass to his lips and sipped the whiskey critically. "Why?" he asked.

"Why? Why, didn't you know that the paymaster boasted last night to the surgeons that he hit this fellow in the hand? He says—"

Cahill snorted scornfully. "How'd he know that? What makes him think so?"

"Well, never mind, let him think so," Ranson answered, fervently. "Don't discourage him. That's the only evidence I've got on my side. He says he fired to disarm the man, and that he saw him shift his gun to his left hand. It was the shot that the man fired when he held his gun in his left that broke the colonel's arm. Now, everybody knows I can't hit a barn with my left. And as for having any wounds concealed about my person"—Ranson turned his hands like a conjurer to show the front and back—"they can search me. So, if the paymaster will only stick to that story—that he hit the man—it will help me a lot." Ranson seated himself on the table and swung his leg. "And of course it would be a big help, too, if you could remember who was in your Exchange when I was planning to rob the coach. For someone certainly must have overheard me, someone must have copied my disguise, and that someone is the man we must find. Unless he came from Kiowa."

Cahill shoved his glass from him across the table and, placing his hands on his knees, stared at his host coldly and defiantly. His would-be son-in-law observed the aggressiveness of his attitude, but, in his fuller knowledge of their prospective relations, smiled blandly.

"Mr. Ranson," began Cahill, "I've no feelings against you personally. I've a friendly feeling for all of you young gentlemen at my mess. But you're not playing fair with me. I can see what you want, and I can tell you that you and Captain Carr are not helping your case by asking me up here to drink and smoke with you, when you know that I'm the most important witness they've got against you."

Ranson stared at his father-in-law-elect in genuine amazement, and then laughed lightly.

"Why, dear Mr. Cahill," he cried, "I wouldn't think of bribing you with such a bad brand of whiskey as this. And I didn't know you were such an important witness as all that. But, of course, I know whatever you say in this community goes, and if your testimony is against me, I'm sorry for it, very sorry. I suppose you will testify that there was no one in the Exchange who could have heard my plan?"

Cahill nodded.

"And, as it's not likely two men at exactly the same time should have thought of robbing the stage in exactly the same way, I must have robbed it myself."

Cahill nursed his bandaged hand with the other. "That's the court's business," he growled; "I mean to tell the truth."

"And the truth is?" asked Ransom

"The truth is that last night there was no one in the Exchange but you officers and me. If anybody'd come in on the store side you'd have seen him, wouldn't you? and if he'd come into the Exchange I'd have seen him. But no one come in. I was there alone—and certainly I didn't hear your plan, and I didn't rob the stage. When you fellows left I went down to the Indian village. Half the reservation can prove I was there all the evening—so of the four of us, that lets me out. Crosby and Curtis were in command of the pay escort—that's their alibi—and as far as I can see, lieutenant, that puts it up to you."

Ranson laughed and shook his head. "Yes, it certainly looks that way," he said. "Only I can't see why you need be so damned pleased about it." He grinned wickedly. "If you weren't such a respectable member of Fort Crockett society I might say you listened at the door, and rode after me in one of your own ponchos. As for the Indian village, that's no alibi. A Kiowa swear his skin's as white as yours if you give him a drink."

"And is that why I get this one?" Cahill demanded. "Am I a Kiowa?"

Ranson laughed and shoved the bottle toward his father-in-law-elect.

"Oh, can't you take a joke?" he said. "Take another drink, then."

The voice outside the hut was too low to reach the irate Cahill, but Ranson heard it and leaped to his feet.

"Wait," he commanded. He ran to the door, and met Sergeant Clancey at the threshold.

"Miss Cahill, lieutenant," said the sergeant, "wants to see her father."

Cahill had followed Ranson to the door, "You want to see me, Mame? "he asked.

"Yes," Miss Cahill cried; "and Mr. Ransom, too, if I may." She caught her father eagerly by the arm, but her eyes were turned joyfully upon Ranson. They were laughing with excitement. Her voice was trembling and eager.

"It is something I have discovered," she cried; "I found it out just now, and I think—oh, I hope!—it is most important. I believe it will clear Mr. Ranson!" she cried, happily. "At least it will show that last night someone went out to rob the coach and went dressed as he was."

Cahill gave a short laugh. "What's his name?" he asked, mockingly. "Have you seen him?"

"I didn't see him and I don't know his name, but—"

Cahill snorted, and picked up his sombrero from the table. "Then it's not so very important after all," he said. "Is that all that brought you here?"

"The main thing is that she is here," said Ranson; "for which the poor prisoner is grateful—grateful to her and to the man she hasn't seen, in the mask and poncho, whose name she doesn't know. Mr. Cahill, bad as it is, I insist on your finishing your whiskey. Miss Cahill, please sit down."

He moved a chair toward her and, as he did so, looked full into her face with such love and happiness that she turned her eyes away.

"Well?" asked Cahill.

"I must first explain to Lieutenant Ranson, father," said his daughter, "that to-day is the day we take account of stock."

"Speaking of stock," said Ranson, "don't forget that I owe you for a red kerchief and a rubber poncho. You can have them back, if you like. I won't need a rain coat where I am going."

"Don't," said Miss Cahill. "Please let me go on. After I brought you your breakfast here, I couldn't begin to work just at once. I was thinking about—something else. Everyone was talking of you—your arrest, and I couldn't settle down to take account of stock." She threw a look at Ranson which asked for his sympathy. "But when I did start I began with the ponchos and the red kerchiefs, and then I found out something." Cahill was regarding his daughter in strange distress, but Ranson appeared indifferent to her words, and intent only on the light and beauty in her face. But he asked, smiling, "And that was?"

"You see," continued Miss Cahill, eagerly, "I always keep a dozen of each article, and as each one is sold I check it off in my day-book. Yesterday Mrs. Bolland bought a poncho for the colonel. That left eleven ponchos. Then a few minutes later I gave Lightfoot a red kerchief for his squaw. That left eleven kerchiefs."

"Stop!" cried Ranson. "Miss Cahill," he began, severely, "I hope you do not mean to throw suspicion on the wife of my respected colonel, or on Mrs. Lightfoot, 'the Prairie Flower.' Those ladies are my personal friends; I refuse to believe them guilty. And have you ever seen Mrs. Bolland on horseback? You wrong her. It is impossible."

"Please," begged Miss Cahill, "please let me explain. When you went to hold up the stage you took a poncho and a kerchief. That should have left ten of each. But when I counted them this morning there were nine red kerchiefs and nine ponchos."

Ranson slapped his knee sharply. "Good!" he said. "That is interesting."

"What does it prove?" demanded Cahill.

"It proves nothing, or it proves everything," said Miss Cahill. "To my mind it proves without any doubt that someone overheard Mr. Ranson's plan, that he dressed like him to throw suspicion on him, and that this second person was the one who robbed the paymaster. Now, father, this is where you can help us. You were there then. Try to remember. It is so important. Who came into the store after the others had gone away?"

Cahill tossed his head like an angry bull.

"There are fifty places in this post," he protested, roughly, "where a man can get a poncho. Every trooper owns his slicker."

"But, father, we don't know that theirs are missing," cried Miss Cahill, "and we do know that those in our store are. Don't think I am foolish. It seemed such an important fact to me, and I had hoped it would help."

"It does help—immensely!" cried Ranson.

"I think it's a splendid clue. But, unfortunately, I don't think we can prove anything by your father, for he's just been telling me that there was no one in the place but himself. No one came in, and he was quite alone—" Ranson had begun speaking eagerly, but either his own words or the intentness with which Cahill received them caused him to halt and hesitate—"absolutely—alone."

"You see," said Cahill, thickly, "as soon as they had gone I rode to the Indian village."

"Why, no, father," corrected Miss Cahill. "Don't you remember, you told me last night that when you reached Lightfoot's tent I had just gone. That was quite two hours after the others left the store." In her earnestness Miss Cahill had placed her hand upon her father's arm and clutched it eagerly. "And you remember no one coming in before you left?" she asked. "No one?"

Cahill had not replaced the bandaged hand in his pocket, but had shoved it inside the opening of his coat. As Mary Cahill caught his arm her fingers sank into the palm of the hand and he gave a slight grimace of pain.

"Oh, father," Miss Cahill cried, "your hand! I am so sorry. Did I hurt it? Please—let me see."

Cahill drew back with sudden violence.

"No!" he cried. "Leave it alone! Come, we must be going." But Miss Cahill held the wounded hand in both her own. When she turned her eyes to Ranson they were filled with tender concern.

"I hurt him," she said, reproachfully. "He shot himself last night with one of those new cylinder revolvers."

Her father snatched the hand from her. He tried to drown her voice by a sudden movement toward the door. "Come!" he called. "Do you hear me?"

But his daughter in her sympathy continued. "He was holding it so," she said, "and it went off, and the bullet passed through here." She laid the tip of a slim white finger on the palm of her right hand.

"The bullet!" cried Ranson. He repeated, dully, "The bullet!"

There was a sudden, tense silence. Outside they could hear the crunch of the sentry's heel in the gravel, and from the baseball field back of the barracks the soft spring air was rent with the jubilant crack of the bat as it drove the ball. Afterward Ranson remembered that while one half of his brain was terribly acute to the moment, the other was wondering whether the runner had made his base. It seemed an interminable time before Ranson raised his eyes from Miss Cahill's palm to her father's face. What he read in them caused Cahill to drop his hand swiftly to his hip.

Ranson saw the gesture and threw out both his hands. He gave a hysterical laugh, strangely boyish and immature, and ran to place himself between Cahill and the door. "Drop it!" he whispered. "My God, man!" he entreated, "don't make a fool of yourself. Mr. Cahill," he cried aloud, "you can't go till you know. Can he, Mary? Yes, Mary." The tone in which he repeated the name was proprietary and commanding. He took her hand. "Mr. Cahill," he said, joyously, "we've got something to tell you. I want you to understand that in spite of all I'VE done—I say in spite of all I'VE done—I mean getting into this trouble and disgrace, and all that—I've dared to ask your daughter to marry me." He turned and led Miss Cahill swiftly toward the veranda. "Oh, I knew he wouldn't like it," he cried. "You see. I told you so. You've got to let me talk to him alone. You go outside and wait. I can talk better when you are not here. I'll soon bring him around."

"Father," pleaded Miss Cahill, timidly. From behind her back Ranson shook his head at the post-trader in violent pantomime. "She'd better go outside and wait, hadn't she, Mr. Cahill?" he directed.

As he was bidden, the post-trader raised his head and nodded toward the door. The onslaught of sudden and new conditions overwhelmed and paralyzed him.

"Father!" said Miss Cahill, "it isn't just as you think. Mr. Ranson did ask me to marry him—in a way—At least, I knew what he meant. But I did not say—in a way—that I would marry him. I mean it was not settled, or I would have told you. You mustn't think I would have left you out of this—of my happiness, you who have done everything to make me happy."

She reproached her father with her eyes fastened on his face. His own were stern, fixed, and miserable. "You will let it be, won't you, father?" she begged. "It—it means so much. I—can't tell you—" She threw out her hand toward Ranson as though designating a superior being. "Why, I can't tell HIM. But if you are harsh with him or with me it will break my heart. For as I love you, father, I love him—and it has got to be. It must be. For I love him so. I have always loved him. Father," she whispered, "I love him so."

Ranson, humbly, gratefully, took the girl's hand and led her gently to the veranda and closed the door upon her. Then he came down the room and regarded his prospective father-in-law with an expression of amused exasperation. He thrust his hands deep into the pockets of his riding-breeches and nodded his head. "Well," he exclaimed, "you've made a damned pretty mess of it, haven't you?"

Cahill had sunk heavily into a chair and was staring at Ranson with the stupid, wondering gaze of a dumb animal in pain. During the moments in which the two men eyed each other Ranson's smile disappeared. Cahill raised himself slowly as though with a great effort.

"I done it," said Cahill, "for her. I done it to make her happy."

"That's all right," said Ranson, briskly. "She's going to be happy. We're all going to be happy."

"An' all I did," Cahill continued, as though unconscious of the interruption, "was to disgrace her." He rose suddenly to his feet. His mental sufferings were so keen that his huge body trembled. He recognized how truly he had made "a mess of it." He saw that all he had hoped to do for his daughter by crime would have been done for her by this marriage with Ranson, which would have made her a "lady," made her rich, made her happy. Had it not been for his midnight raids she would have been honored, loved, and envied, even by the wife of the colonel herself. But through him disgrace had come upon her, sorrow and trouble. She would not be known as the daughter of Senator Ranson, but of Cahill, an ex-member of the Whyo gang, a highway robber, as the daughter of a thief who was serving his time in State prison. At the thought Cahill stepped backward unsteadily as though he had been struck. He cried suddenly aloud. Then his hand whipped back to his revolver, but before he could use it Ranson had seized his wrist with both hands. The two struggled silently and fiercely. The fact of opposition brought back to Cahill all of his great strength.

"No, you don't!" Ranson muttered. "Think of your daughter, man. Drop it!"

"I shall do it," Cahill panted. "I am thinking of my daughter. It's the only way out. Take your hands off me—I shall!"

With his knuckles Ranson bored cruelly into the wounded hand, and it opened and the gun dropped from it; but as it did so it went off with a report that rang through the building. There was an instant rush of feet upon the steps of the veranda, and at the sound the two men sprang apart, eyeing each other sheepishly like two discovered truants. When Sergeant Clancey and the guard pushed through the door Ranson stood facing it, spinning the revolver in cowboy fashion around his fourth finger. He addressed the sergeant in a tone of bitter irony.

"Oh, you've come at last," he demanded. "Are you deaf? Why didn't you come when I called?" His tone showed he considered he had just cause for annoyance.

"The gun brought me, I—" began Clancey.

"Yes, I hoped it might. That's why I fired it," snapped Ranson. "I want two whiskey-and-sodas. Quick now!"

"Two—" gasped Clancey.

"Whiskey-and-sodas. See how fast one of you can chase over to the club and get 'em. And next time I want a drink don't make me wake the entire garrison."

As the soldiers retreated Ranson discovered Miss Cahill's white face beyond them. He ran and held the door open by a few inches.

"It's all right," he whispered, reassuringly. "He's nearly persuaded. Wait just a minute longer and he'll be giving us his blessing."

"But the pistol-shot?" she asked.

"I was just calling the guard. The electric bell's broken, and your father wanted a drink. That's a good sign, isn't it? Shows he's friendly, What kind did you say you wanted, Mr. Cahill—Scotch was it, or rye?" Ranson glanced back at the sombre, silent figure of Cahill, and then again opened the door sufficiently for him to stick out his head. "Sergeant," he called, "make them both Scotch—long ones."

He shut the door and turned upon the post-trader. "Now, then, father- in-law," he said, briskly, "you've got to cut and run, and you've got to run quick. We'll tell 'em you're going to Fort Worth to buy the engagement ring, because I can't, being under arrest. But you go to Duncan City instead, and from there take the cars, to—"

"Run away!" Cahill repeated, dazedly. "But you'll be court- martialled."

"There won't be any court-martial!"

Cahill glanced around the room quickly. "I see," he cried. In his eagerness he was almost smiling. "I'm to leave a confession and give it to you."

"Confession! What rot!" cried Ranson.

"They can't prove anything against me. Everyone knows by now that there were two men on the trail, but they don't know who the other man was, and no one ever must know—especially Mary."

Cahill struck the table with his fist. "I won't stand for it!" he cried. "I got you into this and I'm goin'—"

"Yes, going to jail," retorted Ranson. "You'll look nice behind the bars, won't you? Your daughter will be proud of you in a striped suit. Don't talk nonsense. You're going to run and hide some place, somewhere, where Mary and I can come and pay you a visit. Say— Canada. No, not Canada. I'd rather visit you in jail than in a Montreal hotel. Say Tangier, or Buenos Ayres, or Paris. Yes, Paris is safe enough—and so amusing."

Cahill seated himself heavily. "I trapped you into this fix, Mr. Ranson," he said, "you know I did, and now I mean to get you out of it. I ain't going to leave the man my Mame wants to marry with a cloud on him. I ain't going to let her husband be jailed."

Ranson had run to his desk and from a drawer drew forth a roll of bills. He advanced with them in his hand.

"Yes, Paris is certainly the place," he said. "Here's three hundred dollars. I'll cable you the rest. You've never been to Paris, have you? It's full of beautiful sights—Henry's American Bar, for instance, and the courtyard of the Grand Hotel, and Maxim's. All good Americans go to Paris when they die and all the bad ones while they are alive. You'll find lots of both kinds, and you'll sit all day on the sidewalk and drink Bock and listen to Hungarian bands. And Mary and I will join you there and take you driving in the Bois. Now, you start at once. I'll tell her you've gone to New York to talk it over with father, and buy the ring. Then I'll say you've gone on to Paris to rent us apartments for the honeymoon. I'll explain it somehow. That's better than going to jail, isn't it, and making us bow our heads in grief?"

Cahill, in his turn, approached the desk and, seating himself before it, began writing rapidly.

"What is it?" asked Ranson.

"A confession," said Cahill, his pen scratching.

"I won't take it," Ranson said, "and I won't use it."

"I ain't going to give it to you," said Cahill, over his shoulder. "I know better than that. But I don't go to Paris unless I leave a confession behind me. Call in the guard," he commanded; "I want two witnesses."

"I'll see you hanged first," said Ranson.

Cahill crossed the room to the door and, throwing it open, called, "Corporal of the guard!"

As he spoke, Captain Carr and Mrs. Bolland, accompanied by Miss Post and her aunt, were crossing the parade-ground. For a moment the post- trader surveyed them doubtfully, and then, stepping out upon the veranda, beckoned to them.

"Here's a paper I've signed, captain," he said; "I wish you'd witness my signature. It's my testimony for the court-martial."

"Then someone else had better sign it," said Carr. "Might look prejudiced if I did." He turned to the ladies. "These ladies are coming in to see Ranson now. They'll witness it."

Miss Cahill, from the other end of the veranda, and the visitors entered the room together.

"Mrs. Truesdale!" cried Ranson. "You are pouring coals of fire upon my head. And Miss Post! Indeed, this is too much honor. After the way I threatened and tried to frighten you last night I expected you to hang me, at least, instead of which you have, I trust, come to tea."

"Nothing of the sort," said Mrs. Bolland, sternly. "These ladies insisted on my bringing them here to say how sorry they are that they talked so much and got you into this trouble. Understand, Mr. Ranson," the colonel's wife added, with dignity, "that I am not here officially as Mrs. Bolland, but as a friend of these ladies."

"You are welcome in whatever form you take, Mrs. Bolland," cried Ranson, "and, believe me, I am in no trouble—no trouble, I assure you. In fact, I am quite the most contented man in the world. Mrs. Bolland, in spite of the cloud, the temporary cloud which rests upon my fair name, I take great pride in announcing to you that this young lady has done me the honor to consent to become my wife. Her father, a very old and dear friend, has given his consent. And I take this occasion to tell you of my good fortune, both in your official capacity and as my friend."

There was a chorus of exclamations and congratulations in which Mrs. Bolland showed herself to be a true wife and a social diplomatist. In the post-trader's daughter she instantly recognized the heiress to the Ranson millions, and the daughter of a Senator who also was the chairman of the Senate Committee on Brevets and Promotions. She fell upon Miss Cahill's shoulder and kissed her on both cheeks. Turning eagerly upon Mrs. Truesdale, she said, "Alice, you can understand how I feel when I tell you that this child has always been to me like one of my own."

Carr took Ranson's hand and wrung it. Sergeant Clancey grew purple with pleasure and stole back to the veranda, where he whispered joyfully to a sentry. In another moment a passing private was seen racing delightedly toward the baseball field.

At the same moment Lieutenants Crosby and Curtis and the regimental adjutant crossed the parade ground from the colonel's quarters and ran up the steps of Ranson's hut. The expressions of good-will, of smiling embarrassment and general satisfaction which Lieutenant Crosby observed on the countenances of those present seemed to give him a momentary check.

"Oh," he exclaimed, disappointedly, "someone has told you!"

Ranson laughed and took the hand which Crosby held doubtfully toward him. "No one has told me," he said. "I've been telling them."

"Then you haven't heard?" Crosby cried, delightedly. "That's good. I begged to be the first to let you know, because I felt so badly at having doubted you. You must let me congratulate you. You are free."

"Free?" smiled Ranson.

"Yes, relieved from arrest," Crosby cried, joyfully. He turned and took Ranson's sword from the hands of the adjutant. "And the colonel's let your troop have the band to give you a serenade."

But Ranson's face showed no sign of satisfaction.

"Wait!" he cried. "Why am I relieved from arrest?"

"Why? Because the other fellow has confessed."

Ranson placed himself suddenly in front of Mary Cahill as though to shield her. His eyes stole stealthily towards Cahill's confession. Still unread and still unsigned, it lay unopened upon the table. Cahill was gazing upon Ranson in blank bewilderment.

Captain Carr gasped a sigh of relief that was far from complimentary to his client.

"Who confessed?" he cried.

"'Pop' Henderson," said Crosby.

"'Pop' Henderson!" shouted Cahill. Unmindful of his wound, he struck the table savagely with his fist. For the first time in the knowledge of the post he exhibited emotion. "'Pop' Henderson, by the eternal!" he cried. "And I never guessed it!"

"Yes," said Crosby, eagerly. "Abe Fisher was in it. Henderson persuaded the paymaster to make the trip alone with him. Then he dressed up Fisher to represent the Red Rider and sent him on ahead to hold him up. They were to share the money afterward. But Fisher fired on 'Pop' to kill, so as to have it all, and 'Pop's' trying to get even. And what with wanting to hurt Fisher, and thinking he is going to die, and not wishing to see you hanged, he's told the truth. We wired Kiowa early this morning and arrested Fisher. They've found the money, and he has confessed, too."

"But the poncho and the red kerchief?" protested Carr. "And he had no stirrups!"

"Oh, Fisher had the make-up all right," laughed Crosby; "Henderson says Fisher's the 'only, original' Red Rider. And as for the stirrups, I'm afraid that's my fault. I asked the colonel if the man wasn't riding without stirrups, and I guess the wish was father to the fact. He only imagined he hadn't seen any stirrups. The colonel was rattled. So, old man," he added, turning to Ranson, "here's your sword again, and God bless you."

Already the post had learned the news from the band and the verandas of the enlisted men overflowed with delighted troopers. From the stables and the ball field came the sound of hurrying feet, and a tumult of cheers and cowboy yells. Across the parade-ground the regimental band bore down upon Ranson's hut, proclaiming to the garrison that there would be a hot time in the old town that night. But Sergeant Clancey ran to meet the bandmaster, and shouted in his ear. "He's going to marry Mary Cahill," he cried. "I heard him tell the colonel's wife. Play 'Just Because She Made Them Goo-goo Eyes.'"

"Like hell!" cried the bandmaster, indignantly, breaking in on the tune with his baton. "I know my business! Now, then, men," he commanded, "'I'll Leave My Happy Home for You.'"

As Mrs. Bolland dragged Miss Cahill into view of the assembled troopers Ranson pulled his father-in-law into a far corner of the room. He shook the written confession in his face.

"Now, will you kindly tell me what that means?" he demanded. "What sort of a gallery play were you trying to make?"

Cahill shifted his sombrero guiltily. "I was trying to get you out of the hole," he stammered. "I—I thought you done it."

"You thought I done it!"

"Sure. I never thought nothing else."

"Then why do you say here that YOU did it?"

"Oh, because," stammered Cahill, miserably, "'cause of Mary, 'cause she wanted to marry you—'cause you were going to marry her."

"Well—but—what good were you going to do by shooting yourself?"

"Oh, then?" Cahill jerked back his head as though casting out an unpleasant memory. "I thought you'd caught me, you, too—between you!"

"Caught you! Then you did—?"

"No, but I tried to. I heard your plan, and I did follow you in the poncho and kerchief, meaning to hold up the stage first, and leave it to Crosby and Curtis to prove you did it. But when I reached the coach you were there ahead of me, and I rode away and put in my time at the Indian village. I never saw the paymaster's cart, never heard of it till this morning. But what with Mame missing the poncho out of our shop and the wound in my hand I guessed they'd all soon suspect me. I saw you did. So I thought I'd just confess to what I meant to do, even if I didn't do it."

Ranson surveyed his father-in-law with a delighted grin. "How did you get that bullet-hole in your hand?" he asked.

Cahill laughed shamefacedly. "I hate to tell you that," he said. "I got it just as I said I did. My new gun went off while I was fooling with it, with my hand over the muzzle. And me the best shot in the Territory! But when I heard the paymaster claimed he shot the Red Rider through the palm I knew no one would believe me if I told the truth. So I lied."

Ranson glanced down at the written confession, and then tore it slowly into pieces. "And you were sure I robbed the stage, and yet you believed that I'd use this? What sort of a son-in-law do you think you've got?"

"You thought I robbed the stage, didn't you?"

"Yes."

"And you were going to stand for robbing it yourself, weren't you? Well, that's the sort of son-in-law I've got!"

The two men held out their hands at the same instant.

Mary Cahill, her face glowing with pride and besieged with blushes, came toward them from the veranda. She was laughing and radiant, but she turned her eyes on Ranson with a look of tender reproach.

"Why did you desert me?" she said. "It was awful. They are calling you now. They are playing 'The Conquering Hero.'"

"Mr. Cahill," commanded Ranson, "go out there and make a speech." He turned to Mary Cahill and lifted one of her hands in both of his. "Well, I AM the conquering hero," he said. "I've won the only thing worth winning, dearest," he whispered; "we'll run away from them in a minute, and we'll ride to the waterfall and the Lover's Leap." He looked down at her wistfully. "Do you remember?"

Mary Cahill raised her head and smiled. He leaned toward her breathlessly.

"Why, did it mean that to you, too?" he asked.

She smiled up at him in assent.

"But I didn't say anything, did I?" whispered Ranson. "I hardly knew you then. But I knew that day that I—that I would marry you or nobody else. And did you think—that you—"

"Yes," Mary Cahill whispered.

He bent his head and touched her hand with his lips.

"Then we'll go back this morning to the waterfall," he said, "and tell it that it's all come right. And now, we'll bow to those crazy people out there, those make-believe dream-people, who don't know that there is nothing real in this world but just you and me, and that we love each other."

A dishevelled orderly bearing a tray with two glasses confronted Ranson at the door. "Here's the Scotch and sodas, lieutenant," he panted. "I couldn't get 'em any sooner. The men wanted to take 'em off me—to drink Miss Cahill's health."

"So they shall," said Ranson. "Tell them to drink the canteen dry and charge it to me. What's a little thing like the regulations between friends? They have taught me my manners. Mr. Cahill," he called.

The post-trader returned from the veranda.

Ranson solemnly handed him a glass and raised the other in the air. "Here's hoping that the Red Rider rides on his raids no more," he said; "and to the future Mrs. Ranson—to Mary Cahill, God bless her!"

He shattered the empty glass in the grate and took Cahill's hand.

"Father-in-law," said Ranson, "let's promise each other to lead a new and a better life."



THE BAR SINISTER

PART I

The Master was walking most unsteady, his legs tripping each other. After the fifth or sixth round, my legs often go the same way.

But even when the Master's legs bend and twist a bit, you mustn't think he can't reach you. Indeed, that is the time he kicks most frequent. So I kept behind him in the shadow, or ran in the middle of the street. He stopped at many public-houses with swinging doors, those doors that are cut so high from the sidewalk that you can look in under them, and see if the Master is inside. At night when I peep beneath them the man at the counter will see me first and say, "Here's the Kid, Jerry, come to take you home. Get a move on you," and the Master will stumble out and follow me. It's lucky for us I'm so white, for no matter how dark the night, he can always see me ahead, just out of reach of his boot. At night the Master certainly does see most amazing. Sometimes he sees two or four of me, and walks in a circle, so that I have to take him by the leg of his trousers and lead him into the right road. One night, when he was very nasty- tempered and I was coaxing him along, two men passed us and one of them says, "Look at that brute!" and the other asks "Which?" and they both laugh. The Master, he cursed them good and proper.

This night, whenever we stopped at a public-house, the Master's pals left it and went on with us to the next. They spoke quite civil to me, and when the Master tried a flying kick, they gives him a shove. "Do you want we should lose our money?" says the pals.

I had had nothing to eat for a day and a night, and just before we set out the Master gives me a wash under the hydrant. Whenever I am locked up until all the slop-pans in our alley are empty, and made to take a bath, and the Master's pals speak civil, and feel my ribs, I know something is going to happen. And that night, when every time they see a policeman under a lamp-post, they dodged across the street, and when at the last one of them picked me up and hid me under his jacket, I began to tremble; for I knew what it meant. It meant that I was to fight again for the Master.

I don't fight because I like it. I fight because if I didn't the other dog would find my throat, and the Master would lose his stakes, and I would be very sorry for him and ashamed. Dogs can pass me and I can pass dogs, and I'd never pick a fight with none of them. When I see two dogs standing on their hind-legs in the streets, clawing each other's ears, and snapping for each other's windpipes, or howling and swearing and rolling in the mud, I feel sorry they should act so, and pretend not to notice. If he'd let me, I'd like to pass the time of day with every dog I meet. But there's something about me that no nice dog can abide. When I trot up to nice dogs, nodding and grinning, to make friends, they always tell me to be off. "Go to the devil!" they bark at me; "Get out!" and when I walk away they shout "mongrel," and "gutter-dog," and sometimes, after my back is turned, they rush me. I could kill most of them with three shakes, breaking the back-bone of the little ones, and squeezing the throat of the big ones. But what's the good? They are nice dogs; that's why I try to make up to them, and though it's not for them to say it, I am a street-dog, and if I try to push into the company of my betters, I suppose it's their right to teach me my place.

Of course, they don't know I'm the best fighting bull-terrier of my weight in Montreal. That's why it wouldn't be right for me to take no notice of what they shout. They don't know that if I once locked my jaws on them I'd carry away whatever I touched. The night I fought Kelley's White Rat, I wouldn't loosen up until the Master made a noose in my leash and strangled me, and if the handlers hadn't thrown red pepper down my nose, I never would have let go of that Ottawa dog. I don't think the handlers treated me quite right that time, but maybe they didn't know the Ottawa dog was dead. I did.

I learned my fighting from my mother when I was very young. We slept in a lumber-yard on the river-front, and by day hunted for food along the wharves. When we got it, the other tramp-dogs would try to take it off us, and then it was wonderful to see mother fly at them, and drive them away. All I know of fighting I learned from mother, watching her picking the ash-heaps for me when I was too little to fight for myself. No one ever was so good to me as mother. When it snowed and the ice was in the St. Lawrence she used to hunt alone, and bring me back new bones, and she'd sit and laugh to see me trying to swallow 'em whole. I was just a puppy then, my teeth was falling out. When I was able to fight we kept the whole river-range to ourselves, I had the genuine long, "punishing" jaw, so mother said, and there wasn't a man or a dog that dared worry us. Those were happy days, those were; and we lived well, share and share alike, and when we wanted a bit of fun, we chased the fat old wharf-rats. My! how they would squeal!

Then the trouble came. It was no trouble to me. I was too young to care then. But mother took it so to heart that she grew ailing, and wouldn't go abroad with me by day. It was the same old scandal that they're always bringing up against me. I was so young then that I didn't know. I couldn't see any difference between mother—and other mothers.

But one day a pack of curs we drove off snarled back some new names at her, and mother dropped her head and ran, just as though they had whipped us. After that she wouldn't go out with me except in the dark, and one day she went away and never came back, and though I hunted for her in every court and alley and back street of Montreal, I never found her.

One night, a month after mother ran away, I asked Guardian, the old blind mastiff, whose Master is the night-watchman on our slip, what it all meant. And he told me.

"Every dog in Montreal knows," he says, "except you, and every Master knows. So I think it's time you knew."

Then he tells me that my father, who had treated mother so bad, was a great and noble gentleman from London. "Your father had twenty-two registered ancestors, had your father," old Guardian says, "and in him was the best bull-terrier blood of England, the most ancientest, the most royal; the winning 'blue-ribbon' blood, that breeds champions. He had sleepy pink eyes, and thin pink lips, and he was as white all over as his own white teeth, and under his white skin you could see his muscles, hard and smooth, like the links of a steel chain. When your father stood still, and tipped his nose in the air, it was just as though he was saying, 'Oh, yes, you common dogs and men, you may well stare. It must be a rare treat for you Colonials to see a real English royalty.' He certainly was pleased with hisself, was your father. He looked just as proud and haughty as one of them stone dogs in Victoria Park—them as is cut out of white marble. And you're like him," says the old mastiff—"by that, of course, meaning you're white, same as him. That's the only likeness. But, you see, the trouble is, Kid—well, you see, Kid, the trouble is—your mother- -"

"That will do," I said, for I understood then without his telling me, and I got up and walked away, holding my head and tail high in the air.

But I was, oh, so miserable, and I wanted to see mother that very minute, and tell her that I didn't care.

Mother is what I am, a street-dog; there's no royal blood in mother's veins, nor is she like that father of mine, nor—and that's the worst—she's not even like me. For while I, when I'm washed for a fight, am as white as clean snow, she—and this is our trouble, she— my mother, is a black-and-tan.

When mother hid herself from me, I was twelve months old and able to take care of myself, and, as after mother left me, the wharves were never the same, I moved uptown and met the Master. Before he came, lots of other men-folks had tried to make up to me, and to whistle me home. But they either tried patting me or coaxing me with a piece of meat; so I didn't take to 'em. But one day the Master pulled me out of a street-fight by the hind-legs, and kicked me good.

"You want to fight, do you?" says he. "I'll give you all the FIGHTING you want!" he says, and he kicks me again. So I knew he was my Master, and I followed him home. Since that day I've pulled off many fights for him, and they've brought dogs from all over the province to have a go at me, but up to that night none, under thirty pounds, had ever downed me.

But that night, so soon as they carried me into the ring, I saw the dog was over-weight, and that I was no match for him. It was asking too much of a puppy. The Master should have known I couldn't do it. Not that I mean to blame the Master, for when sober, which he sometimes was, though not, as you might say, his habit, he was most kind to me, and let me out to find food, if I could get it, and only kicked me when I didn't pick him up at night and lead him home.

But kicks will stiffen the muscles, and starving a dog so as to get him ugly-tempered for a fight may make him nasty, but it's weakening to his insides, and it causes the legs to wabble.

The ring was in a hall, back of a public-house. There was a red-hot whitewashed stove in one corner, and the ring in the other. I lay in the Master's lap, wrapped in my blanket, and, spite of the stove, shivering awful; but I always shiver before a fight; I can't help gettin' excited. While the men-folks were a-flashing their money and taking their last drink at the bar, a little Irish groom in gaiters came up to me and give me the back of his hand to smell, and scratched me behind the ears.

"You poor little pup," says he. "You haven't no show," he says. "That brute in the tap-room, he'll eat your heart out."

"That's what you think," says the Master, snarling. "I'll lay you a quid the Kid chews him up."

The groom, he shook his head, but kept looking at me so sorry-like, that I begun to get a bit sad myself. He seemed like he couldn't bear to leave off a-patting of me, and he says, speaking low just like he would to a man-folk, "Well, good-luck to you, little pup," which I thought so civil of him, that I reached up and licked his hand. I don't do that to many men. And the Master, he knew I didn't, and took on dreadful.

"What 'ave you got on the back of your hand?" says he, jumping up.

"Soap!" says the groom, quick as a rat. "That's more than you've got on yours. Do you want to smell of it?" and he sticks his fist under the Master's nose. But the pals pushed in between 'em.

"He tried to poison the Kid!" shouts the Master.

"Oh, one fight at a time," says the referee. "Get into the ring, Jerry. We're waiting." So we went into the ring.

I never could just remember what did happen in that ring. He give me no time to spring. He fell on me like a horse. I couldn't keep my feet against him, and though, as I saw, he could get his hold when he liked, he wanted to chew me over a bit first. I was wondering if they'd be able to pry him off me, when, in the third round, he took his hold; and I began to drown, just as I did when I fell into the river off the Red C slip. He closed deeper and deeper, on my throat, and everything went black and red and bursting; and then, when I were sure I were dead, the handlers pulled him off, and the Master give me a kick that brought me to. But I couldn't move none, or even wink, both eyes being shut with lumps.

"He's a cur!" yells the Master, "a sneaking, cowardly cur. He lost the fight for me," says he, "because he's a————-cowardly cur." And he kicks me again in the lower ribs, so that I go sliding across the sawdust. "There's gratitude fer yer," yells the Master. "I've fed that dog, and nussed that dog, and housed him like a prince; and now he puts his tail between his legs, and sells me out, he does. He's a coward; I've done with him, I am. I'd sell him for a pipeful of tobacco." He picked me up by the tail, and swung me for the men-folks to see. "Does any gentleman here want to buy a dog," he says, "to make into sausage-meat?" he says. "That's all he's good for."

Then I heard the little Irish groom say, "I'll give you ten bob for the dog."

And another voice says, "Ah, don't you do it; the dog's same as dead- -mebby he is dead."

"Ten shillings!" says the Master, and his voice sobers a bit; "make it two pounds, and he's yours."

But the pals rushed in again.

"Don't you be a fool, Jerry," they say. "You'll be sorry for this when you're sober. The Kid's worth a fiver."

One of my eyes was not so swelled up as the other, and as I hung by my tail, I opened it, and saw one of the pals take the groom by the shoulder.

"You ought to give 'im five pounds for that dog, mate," he says; "that's no ordinary dog. That dog's got good blood in him, that dog has. Why, his father—that very dog's father—"

I thought he never would go on. He waited like he wanted to be sure the groom was listening.

"That very dog's father," says the pal, "is Regent Royal, son of Champion Regent Monarch, champion bull-terrier of England for four years."

I was sore, and torn, and chewed most awful, but what the pal said sounded so fine that I wanted to wag my tail, only couldn't, owing to my hanging from it.

But the Master calls out, "Yes, his father was Regent Royal; who's saying he wasn't? but the pup's a cowardly cur, that's what his pup is, and why—I'll tell you why—because his mother was a black-and- tan street-dog, that's why!"

I don't see how I get the strength, but some way I threw myself out of the Master's grip and fell at his feet, and turned over and fastened all my teeth in his ankle, just across the bone.

When I woke, after the pals had kicked me off him, I was in the smoking-car of a railroad-train, lying in the lap of the little groom, and he was rubbing my open wounds with a greasy, yellow stuff, exquisite to the smell, and most agreeable to lick off.



PART II

"Well—what's your name—Nolan? Well, Nolan, these references are satisfactory," said the young gentleman my new Master called "Mr. Wyndham, sir." "I'll take you on as second man. You can begin to- day."

My new Master shuffled his feet, and put his finger to his forehead. "Thank you, sir," says he. Then he choked like he had swallowed a fish-bone. "I have a little dawg, sir," says he.

"You can't keep him," says "Mr. Wyndham, sir," very short.

"'Es only a puppy, sir," says my new Master; "'e wouldn't go outside the stables, sir."

"It's not that," says "Mr. Wyndham, sir;" "I have a large kennel of very fine dogs; they're the best of their breed in America. I don't allow strange dogs on the premises."

The Master shakes his head, and motions me with his cap, and I crept out from behind the door. "I'm sorry, sir," says the Master. "Then I can't take the place. I can't get along without the dog, sir."

"Mr. Wyndham, sir," looked at me that fierce that I guessed he was going to whip me, so I turned over on my back and begged with my legs and tail.

"Why, you beat him!" says "Mr. Wyndham, sir," very stern.

"No fear!" the Master says, getting very red. "The party I bought him off taught him that. He never learnt that from me!" He picked me up in his arms, and to show "Mr. Wyndham, sir," how well I loved the Master, I bit his chin and hands.

"Mr. Wyndham, sir," turned over the letters the Master had given him. "Well, these references certainly are very strong," he says. "I guess I'll let the dog stay this time. Only see you keep him away from the kennels—or you'll both go."

"Thank you, sir," says the Master, grinning like a cat when she's safe behind the area-railing.

"He's not a bad bull-terrier," says "Mr. Wyndham, sir," feeling my head. "Not that I know much about the smooth-coated breeds. My dogs are St. Bernards." He stopped patting me and held up my nose. "What's the matter with his ears?" he says. "They're chewed to pieces. Is this a fighting dog?" he asks, quick and rough-like.

I could have laughed. If he hadn't been holding my nose, I certainly would have had a good grin at him. Me, the best under thirty pounds in the Province of Quebec, and him asking if I was a fighting dog! I ran to the Master and hung down my head modest-like, waiting for him to tell my list of battles, but the Master he coughs in his cap most painful. "Fightin' dog, sir," he cries. "Lor' bless you, sir, the Kid don't know the word. 'Es just a puppy, sir, same as you see; a pet dog, so to speak. 'Es a regular old lady's lap-dog, the Kid is."

"Well, you keep him away from my St. Bernards," says "Mr. Wyndham, sir," "or they might make a mouthful of him."

"Yes, sir, that they might," says the Master. But when we gets outside he slaps his knee and laughs inside hisself, and winks at me most sociable.

The Master's new home was in the country, in a province they called Long Island. There was a high stone wall about his home with big iron gates to it, same as Godfrey's brewery; and there was a house with five red roofs, and the stables, where I lived, was cleaner than the aerated bakery-shop, and then there was the kennels, but they was like nothing else in this world that ever I see. For the first days I couldn't sleep of nights for fear someone would catch me lying in such a cleaned-up place, and would chase me out of it, and when I did fall to sleep I'd dream I was back in the old Master's attic, shivering under the rusty stove, which never had no coals in it, with the Master flat on his back on the cold floor with his clothes on. And I'd wake up, scared and whimpering, and find myself on the new Master's cot with his hand on the quilt beside me; and I'd see the glow of the big stove, and hear the high-quality horses below-stairs stamping in their straw-lined boxes, and I'd snoop the sweet smell of hay and harness-soap, and go to sleep again.

The stables was my jail, so the Master said, but I don't ask no better home than that jail.

"Now, Kid," says he, sitting on the top of a bucket upside down, "you've got to understand this. When I whistle it means you're not to go out of this 'ere yard. These stables is your jail. And if you leave 'em I'll have to leave 'em, too, and over the seas, in the County Mayo, an old mother will 'ave to leave her bit of a cottage. For two pounds I must be sending her every month, or she'll have naught to eat, nor no thatch over 'er head; so, I can't lose my place, Kid, an' see you don't lose it for me. You must keep away from the kennels," says he; "they're not for the likes of you. The kennels are for the quality. I wouldn't take a litter of them woolly dogs for one wag of your tail, Kid, but for all that they are your betters, same as the gentry up in the big house are my betters. I know my place and keep away from the gentry, and you keep away from the Champions."

So I never goes out of the stables. All day I just lay in the sun on the stone flags, licking my jaws, and watching the grooms wash down the carriages, and the only care I had was to see they didn't get gay and turn the hose on me. There wasn't even a single rat to plague me. Such stables I never did see.

"Nolan," says the head-groom, "some day that dog of yours will give you the slip. You can't keep a street-dog tied up all his life. It's against his natur'." The head-groom is a nice old gentleman, but he doesn't know everything. Just as though I'd been a street-dog because I liked it. As if I'd rather poke for my vittles in ash-heaps than have 'em handed me in a wash-basin, and would sooner bite and fight than be polite and sociable. If I'd had mother there I couldn't have asked for nothing more. But I'd think of her snooping in the gutters, or freezing of nights under the bridges, or, what's worse of all, running through the hot streets with her tongue down, so wild and crazy for a drink, that the people would shout "mad dog" at her, and stone her. Water's so good, that I don't blame the men-folks for locking it up inside their houses, but when the hot days come, I think they might remember that those are the dog-days and leave a little water outside in a trough, like they do for the horses. Then we wouldn't go mad, and the policemen wouldn't shoot us. I had so much of everything I wanted that it made me think a lot of the days when I hadn't nothing, and if I could have given what I had to mother, as she used to share with me, I'd have been the happiest dog in the land. Not that I wasn't happy then, and most grateful to the Master, too, and if I'd only minded him, the trouble wouldn't have come again.

But one day the coachman says that the little lady they called Miss Dorothy had come back from school, and that same morning she runs over to the stables to pat her ponies, and she sees me.

"Oh, what a nice little, white little dog," said she; "whose little dog are you?" says she.

"That's my dog, miss," says the Master. "'Is name is Kid," and I ran up to her most polite, and licks her fingers, for I never see so pretty and kind a lady.

"You must come with me and call on my new puppies," says she, picking me up in her arms and starting off with me.

"Oh, but please, Miss," cries Nolan, "Mr. Wyndham give orders that the Kid's not to go to the kennels."

"That'll be all right," says the little lady; "they're my kennels too. And the puppies will like to play with him."

You wouldn't believe me if I was to tell you of the style of them quality-dogs. If I hadn't seen it myself I wouldn't have believed it neither. The Viceroy of Canada don't live no better. There was forty of them, but each one had his own house and a yard—most exclusive— and a cot and a drinking-basin all to hisself. They had servants standing 'round waiting to feed 'em when they was hungry, and valets to wash 'em; and they had their hair combed and brushed like the grooms must when they go out on the box. Even the puppies had overcoats with their names on 'em in blue letters, and the name of each of those they called champions was painted up fine over his front door just like it was a public-house or a veterinary's. They were the biggest St. Bernards I ever did see. I could have walked under them if they'd have let me. But they were very proud and haughty dogs, and looked only once at me, and then sniffed in the air. The little lady's own dog was an old gentleman bull-dog. He'd come along with us, and when he notices how taken aback I was with all I see, 'e turned quite kind and affable and showed me about.

"Jimmy Jocks," Miss Dorothy called him, but, owing to his weight, he walked most dignified and slow, waddling like a duck as you might say, and looked much too proud and handsome for such a silly name.

"That's the runway, and that's the Trophy House," says he to me, "and that over there is the hospital, where you have to go if you get distemper, and the vet. gives you beastly medicine."

"And which of these is your 'ouse, sir?" asks I, wishing to be respectful. But he looked that hurt and haughty. "I don't live in the kennels," says he, most contemptuous. "I am a house-dog. I sleep in Miss Dorothy's room. And at lunch I'm let in with the family, if the visitors don't mind. They most always do, but they're too polite to say so. Besides," says he, smiling most condescending, "visitors are always afraid of me. It's because I'm so ugly," says he. "I suppose," says he, screwing up his wrinkles and speaking very slow and impressive, "I suppose I'm the ugliest bull-dog in America," and as he seemed to be so pleased to think hisself so, I said, "Yes, sir, you certainly are the ugliest ever I see," at which he nodded his head most approving.

"But I couldn't hurt 'em, as you say," he goes on, though I hadn't said nothing like that, being too polite. "I'm too old," he says; "I haven't any teeth. The last time one of those grizzly bears," said he, glaring at the big St. Bernards, "took a hold of me, he nearly was my death," says he. I thought his eyes would pop out of his head, he seemed so wrought up about it. "He rolled me around in the dirt, he did," says Jimmy Jocks, "an' I couldn't get up. It was low," says Jimmy Jocks, making a face like he had a bad taste in his mouth. "Low, that's what I call it, bad form, you understand, young man, not done in our circles—and—and low." He growled, way down in his stomach, and puffed hisself out, panting and blowing like he had been on a run.

"I'm not a street-fighter," he says, scowling at a St. Bernard marked "Champion." "And when my rheumatism is not troubling me," he says, "I endeavor to be civil to all dogs, so long as they are gentlemen."

"Yes, sir," said I, for even to me he had been most affable.

At this we had come to a little house off by itself and Jimmy Jocks invites me in. "This is their trophy-room," he says, "where they keep their prizes. Mine," he says, rather grand-like, "are on the sideboard." Not knowing what a sideboard might be, I said, "Indeed, sir, that must be very gratifying." But he only wrinkled up his chops as much as to say, "It is my right."

The trophy-room was as wonderful as any public-house I ever see. On the walls was pictures of nothing but beautiful St. Bernard dogs, and rows and rows of blue and red and yellow ribbons; and when I asked Jimmy Jocks why they was so many more of blue than of the others, he laughs and says, "Because these kennels always win." And there was many shining cups on the shelves which Jimmy Jocks told me were prizes won by the champions.

"Now, sir, might I ask you, sir," says I, "wot is a champion?"

At that he panted and breathed so hard I thought he would bust hisself. "My dear young friend!" says he. "Wherever have you been educated? A champion is a—a champion," he says. "He must win nine blue ribbons in the 'open' class. You follow me—that is—against all comers. Then he has the title before his name, and they put his photograph in the sporting papers. You know, of course, that I am a champion," says he. "I am Champion Woodstock Wizard III., and the two other Woodstock Wizards, my father and uncle, were both champions."

"But I thought your name was Jimmy Jocks," I said.

He laughs right out at that.

"That's my kennel name, not my registered name," he says. "Why, you certainly know that every dog has two names. Now, what's your registered name and number, for instance?" says he.

"I've only got one name," I says. "Just Kid."

Woodstock Wizard puffs at that and wrinkles up his forehead and pops out his eyes.

"Who are your people?" says he. "Where is your home?"

"At the stable, sir," I said. "My Master is the second groom."

At that Woodstock Wizard III. looks at me for quite a bit without winking, and stares all around the room over my head.

"Oh, well," says he at last, "you're a very civil young dog," says he, "and I blame no one for what he can't help," which I thought most fair and liberal. "And I have known many bullterriers that were champions," says he, "though as a rule they mostly run with fire- engines, and to fighting. For me, I wouldn't care to run through the streets after a hose-cart, nor to fight," says he; "but each to his taste."

I could not help thinking that if Woodstock Wizard III. tried to follow a fire-engine he would die of apoplexy, and that, seeing he'd lost his teeth, it was lucky he had no taste for fighting, but, after his being so condescending, I didn't say nothing.

"Anyway," says he, "every smooth-coated dog is better than any hairy old camel like those St. Bernards, and if ever you're hungry down at the stables, young man, come up to the house and I'll give you a bone. I can't eat them myself, but I bury them around the garden from force of habit, and in case a friend should drop in. Ah, I see my Mistress coming," he says, "and I bid you good-day. I regret," he says, "that our different social position prevents our meeting frequent, for you're a worthy young dog with a proper respect for your betters, and in this country there's precious few of them have that." Then he waddles off, leaving me alone and very sad, for he was the first dog in many days that had spoken to me. But since he showed, seeing that I was a stable-dog, he didn't want my company, I waited for him to get well away. It was not a cheerful place to wait, the Trophy House. The pictures of the champions seemed to scowl at me, and ask what right had such as I even to admire them, and the blue and gold ribbons and the silver cups made me very miserable. I had never won no blue ribbons or silver cups; only stakes for the old Master to spend in the publics, and I hadn't won them for being a beautiful, high-quality dog, but just for fighting—which, of course, as Woodstock Wizard III. says, is low. So I started for the stables, with my head down and my tail between my legs, feeling sorry I had ever left the Master. But I had more reason to be sorry before I got back to him.

The Trophy House was quite a bit from the kennels, and as I left it I see Miss Dorothy and Woodstock Wizard III. walking back toward them, and that a fine, big St. Bernard, his name was Champion Red Elfberg, had broke his chain, and was running their way. When he reaches old Jimmy Jocks he lets out a roar like a grain-steamer in a fog, and he makes three leaps for him. Old Jimmy Jocks was about a fourth his size; but he plants his feet and curves his back, and his hair goes up around his neck like a collar. But he never had no show at no time, for the grizzly bear, as Jimmy Jocks had called him, lights on old Jimmy's back and tries to break it, and old Jimmy Jocks snaps his gums and claws the grass, panting and groaning awful. But he can't do nothing, and the grizzly bear just rolls him under him, biting and tearing cruel. The odds was all that Woodstock Wizard III. was going to be killed. I had fought enough to see that, but not knowing the rules of the game among champions, I didn't like to interfere between two gentlemen who might be settling a private affair, and, as it were, take it as presuming of me. So I stood by, though I was shaking terrible, and holding myself in like I was on a leash. But at that Woodstock Wizard III., who was underneath, sees me through the dust, and calls very faint, "Help, you!" he says. "Take him in the hind- leg," he says. "He's murdering me," he says. And then the little Miss Dorothy, who was crying, and calling to the kennel-men, catches at the Red Elfberg's hind-legs to pull him off, and the brute, keeping his front pats well in Jimmy's stomach, turns his big head and snaps at her. So that was all I asked for, thank you. I went up under him. It was really nothing. He stood so high that I had only to take off about three feet from him and come in from the side, and my long, "punishing jaw" as mother was always talking about, locked on his woolly throat, and my back teeth met. I couldn't shake him, but I shook myself, and every time I shook myself there was thirty pounds of weight tore at his windpipes. I couldn't see nothing for his long hair, but I heard Jimmy Jocks puffing and blowing on one side, and munching the brute's leg with his old gums. Jimmy was an old sport that day, was Jimmy, or, Woodstock Wizard III., as I should say. When the Red Elfberg was out and down I had to run, or those kennel-men would have had my life. They chased me right into the stables; and from under the hay I watched the head-groom take down a carriage-whip and order them to the right about. Luckily Master and the young grooms were out, or that day there'd have been fighting for everybody.

Well, it nearly did for me and the Master. "Mr. Wyndham, sir," comes raging to the stables and said I'd half-killed his best prize-winner, and had oughter be shot, and he gives the Master his notice. But Miss Dorothy she follows him, and says it was his Red Elfberg what began the fight, and that I'd saved Jimmy's life, and that old Jimmy Jocks was worth more to her than all the St. Bernards in the Swiss mountains—where-ever they be. And that I was her champion, anyway. Then she cried over me most beautiful, and over Jimmy Jocks, too, who was that tied up in bandages he couldn't even waddle. So when he heard that side of it, "Mr. Wyndham, sir," told us that if Nolan put me on a chain, we could stay. So it came out all right for everybody but me. I was glad the Master kept his place, but I'd never worn a chain before, and it disheartened me—but that was the least of it. For the quality-dogs couldn't forgive my whipping their champion, and they came to the fence between the kennels and the stables, and laughed through the bars, barking most cruel words at me. I couldn't understand how they found it out, but they knew. After the fight Jimmy Jocks was most condescending to me, and he said the grooms had boasted to the kennel-men that I was a son of Regent Royal, and that when the kennel-men asked who was my mother they had had to tell them that too. Perhaps that was the way of it, but, however, the scandal was out, and every one of the quality-dogs knew that I was a street- dog and the son of a black-and-tan.

"These misalliances will occur," said Jimmy Jocks, in his old- fashioned way, "but no well-bred dog," says he, looking most scornful at the St. Bernards, who were howling behind the palings, "would refer to your misfortune before you, certainly not cast it in your face. I, myself, remember your father's father, when he made his debut at the Crystal Palace. He took four blue ribbons and three specials."

But no sooner than Jimmy would leave me, the St. Bernards would take to howling again, insulting mother and insulting me. And when I tore at my chain, they, seeing they were safe, would howl the more. It was never the same after that; the laughs and the jeers cut into my heart, and the chain bore heavy on my spirit. I was so sad that sometimes I wished I was back in the gutter again, where no one was better than me, and some nights I wished I was dead. If it hadn't been for the Master being so kind, and that it would have looked like I was blaming mother, I would have twisted my leash and hanged myself.

About a month after my fight, the word was passed through the kennels that the New York Show was coming, and such goings on as followed I never did see. If each of them had been matched to fight for a thousand pounds and the gate, they couldn't have trained more conscientious. But, perhaps, that's just my envy. The kennel-men rubbed 'em and scrubbed 'em and trims their hair and curls and combs it, and some dogs they fatted, and some they starved. No one talked of nothing but the Show, and the chances "our kennels" had against the other kennels, and if this one of our champions would win over that one, and whether them as hoped to be champions had better show in the "open" or the "limit" class, and whether this dog would beat his own dad, or whether his little puppy sister couldn't beat the two of them. Even the grooms had their money up, and day or night you heard nothing but praises of "our" dogs, until I, being so far out of it, couldn't have felt meaner if I had been running the streets with a can to my tail. I knew shows were not for such as me, and so I lay all day stretched at the end of my chain, pretending I was asleep, and only too glad that they had something so important to think of, that they could leave me alone.

But one day before the Show opened, Miss Dorothy came to the stables with "Mr. Wyndham, sir," and seeing me chained up and so miserable, she takes me in her arms.

"You poor little tyke," says she. "It's cruel to tie him up so; he's eating his heart out, Nolan," she says. "I don't know nothing about bull-terriers," says she, "but I think Kid's got good points," says she, "and you ought to show him. Jimmy Jocks has three legs on the Rensselaer Cup now, and I'm going to show him this time so that he can get the fourth, and if you wish, I'll enter your dog too. How would you like that, Kid?" says she. "How would you like to see the most beautiful dogs in the world? Maybe, you'd meet a pal or two," says she. "It would cheer you up, wouldn't it, Kid?" says she. But I was so upset, I could only wag my tail most violent. "He says it would!" says she, though, being that excited, I hadn't said nothing.

So, "Mr. Wyndham, sir," laughs and takes out a piece of blue paper, and sits down at the head-groom's table.

"What's the name of the father of your dog, Nolan?" says he. And Nolan says, "The man I got him off told me he was a son of Champion Regent Royal, sir. But it don't seem likely, does it?" says Nolan.

"It does not!" says "Mr. Wyndham, sir," short-like.

"Aren't you sure, Nolan?" says Miss Dorothy.

"No, Miss," says the Master.

"Sire unknown," says "Mr. Wyndham, sir," and writes it down.

"Date of birth?" asks "Mr. Wyndham, sir."

"I—I—unknown, sir," says Nolan. And "Mr. Wyndham, sir," writes it down.

"Breeder?" says "Mr. Wyndham, sir."

"Unknown," says Nolan, getting very red around the jaws, and I drops my head and tail. And "Mr. Wyndham, sir," writes that down.

"Mother's name?" says "Mr. Wyndham, sir."

"She was a—unknown," says the Master. And I licks his hand.

"Dam unknown," says "Mr. Wyndham, sir," and writes it down. Then he takes the paper and reads out loud: "Sire unknown, dam unknown, breeder unknown, date of birth unknown. You'd better call him the 'Great Unknown,'" says he. "Who's paying his entrance-fee?"

"I am," says Miss Dorothy.

Two weeks after we all got on a train for New York; Jimmy Jocks and me following Nolan in the smoking-car, and twenty-two of the St. Bernards, in boxes and crates, and on chains and leashes. Such a barking and howling I never did hear, and when they sees me going, too, they laughs fit to kill.

"Wot is this; a circus?" says the railroad-man.

But I had no heart in it. I hated to go. I knew I was no "show" dog, even though Miss Dorothy and the Master did their best to keep me from shaming them. For before we set out Miss Dorothy brings a man from town who scrubbed and rubbed me, and sand-papered my tail, which hurt most awful, and shaved my ears with the Master's razor, so you could most see clear through 'em, and sprinkles me over with pipe- clay, till I shines like a Tommy's cross-belts.

"Upon my word!" says Jimmy Jocks when he first sees me. "What a swell you are! You're the image of your grand-dad when he made his debut at the Crystal Palace. He took four firsts and three specials." But I knew he was only trying to throw heart into me. They might scrub, and they might rub, and they might pipe-clay, but they couldn't pipe-clay the insides of me, and they was black-and-tan.

Then we came to a Garden, which it was not, but the biggest hall in the world. Inside there was lines of benches, a few miles long, and on them sat every dog in the world. If all the dog-snatchers in Montreal had worked night and day for a year, they couldn't have caught so many dogs. And they was all shouting and barking and howling so vicious, that my heart stopped beating. For at first I thought they was all enraged at my presuming to intrude, but after I got in my place, they kept at it just the same, barking at every dog as he come in; daring him to fight, and ordering him out, and asking him what breed of dog he thought he was, anyway. Jimmy Jocks was chained just behind me, and he said he never see so fine a show. "That's a hot class you're in, my lad," he says, looking over into my street, where there were thirty bull-terriers. They was all as white as cream, and each so beautiful that if I could have broke my chain, I would have run all the way home and hid myself under the horse- trough.

All night long they talked and sang, and passed greetings with old pals, and the home-sick puppies howled dismal. Them that couldn't sleep wouldn't let no others sleep, and all the electric lights burned in the roof, and in my eyes. I could hear Jimmy Jocks snoring peaceful, but I could only doze by jerks, and when I dozed I dreamed horrible. All the dogs in the hall seemed coming at me for daring to intrude, with their jaws red and open, and their eyes blazing like the lights in the roof. "You're a street-dog! Get out, you street- dog!" they yells. And as they drives me out, the pipe-clay drops off me, and they laugh and shriek; and when I looks down I see that I have turned into a black-and-tan.

They was most awful dreams, and next morning, when Miss Dorothy comes and gives me water in a pan, I begs and begs her to take me home, but she can't understand. "How well Kid is!" she says. And when I jumps into the Master's arms, and pulls to break my chain, he says, "If he knew all as he had against him, Miss, he wouldn't be so gay." And from a book they reads out the names of the beautiful high-bred terriers which I have got to meet. And I can't make 'em understand that I only want to run away, and hide myself where no one will see me.

Then suddenly men comes hurrying down our street and begins to brush the beautiful bull-terriers, and Nolan rubs me with a towel so excited that his hands trembles awful, and Miss Dorothy tweaks my ears between her gloves, so that the blood runs to 'em, and they turn pink and stand up straight and sharp.

"Now, then, Nolan," says she, her voice shaking just like his fingers, "keep his head up—and never let the Judge lose sight of him." When I hears that my legs breaks under me, for I knows all about judges. Twice, the old Master goes up before the Judge for fighting me with other dogs, and the Judge promises him if he ever does it again, he'll chain him up in jail. I knew he'd find me out. A Judge can't be fooled by no pipe-clay. He can see right through you, and he reads your insides.

The judging-ring, which is where the Judge holds out, was so like a fighting-pit, that when I came in it, and find six other dogs there, I springs into position, so that when they lets us go I can defend myself, But the Master smoothes down my hair and whispers, "Hold 'ard, Kid, hold 'ard. This ain't a fight," says he. "Look your prettiest," he whispers. "Please, Kid, look your prettiest," and he pulls my leash so tight that I can't touch my pats to the sawdust, and my nose goes up in the air. There was millions of people a- watching us from the railings, and three of our kennel-men, too, making fun of Nolan and me, and Miss Dorothy with her chin just reaching to the rail, and her eyes so big that I thought she was a- going to cry. It was awful to think that when the Judge stood up and exposed me, all those people, and Miss Dorothy, would be there to see me driven from the show.

The Judge, he was a fierce-looking man with specs on his nose, and a red beard. When I first come in he didn't see me owing to my being too quick for him and dodging behind the Master. But when the Master drags me round and I pulls at the sawdust to keep back, the Judge looks at us careless-like, and then stops and glares through his specs, and I knew it was all up with me.

"Are there any more?" asks the Judge, to the gentleman at the gate, but never taking his specs from me.

The man at the gate looks in his book. "Seven in the novice-class," says he. "They're all here. You can go ahead," and he shuts the gate.

The Judge, he doesn't hesitate a moment. He just waves his hand toward the corner of the ring. "Take him away," he says to the Master. "Over there and keep him away," and he turns and looks most solemn at the six beautiful bull-terriers. I don't know how I crawled to that corner. I wanted to scratch under the sawdust and dig myself a grave. The kennel-men they slapped the rail with their hands and laughed at the Master like they would fall over. They pointed at me in the corner, and their sides just shaked. But little Miss Dorothy she presses her lips tight against the rail, and I see tears rolling from her eyes. The Master, he hangs his head like he had been whipped. I felt most sorry for him, than all. He was so red, and he was letting on not to see the kennel-men, and blinking his eyes. If the Judge had ordered me right out, it wouldn't have disgraced us so, but it was keeping me there while he was judging the high-bred dogs that hurt so hard. With all those people staring too. And his doing it so quick, without no doubt nor questions. You can't fool the judges. They see insides you.

But he couldn't make up his mind about them high-bred dogs. He scowls at 'em, and he glares at 'em, first with his head on the one side and then on the other. And he feels of 'em, and orders 'em to run about. And Nolan leans against the rails, with his head hung down, and pats me. And Miss Dorothy comes over beside him, but don't say nothing, only wipes her eye with her finger. A man on the other side of the rail he says to the Master, "The Judge don't like your dog?"

"No," says the Master.

"Have you ever shown him before?" says the man.

"No," says the Master, "and I'll never show him again. He's my dog," says the Master, "an' he suits me! And I don't care what no judges think." And when he says them kind words, I licks his hand most grateful.

The Judge had two of the six dogs on a little platform in the middle of the ring, and he had chased the four other dogs into the corners, where they was licking their chops, and letting on they didn't care, same as Nolan was.

The two dogs on the platform was so beautiful that the Judge hisself couldn't tell which was the best of 'em, even when he stoops down and holds their heads together. But at last he gives a sigh, and brushes the sawdust off his knees and goes to the table in the ring, where there was a man keeping score, and heaps and heaps of blue and gold and red and yellow ribbons. And the Judge picks up a bunch of 'em and walks to the two gentlemen who was holding the beautiful dogs, and he says to each "What's his number?" and he hands each gentleman a ribbon. And then he turned sharp, and comes straight at the Master.

"What's his number?" says the Judge. And Master was so scared that he couldn't make no answer.

But Miss Dorothy claps her hands and cries out like she was laughing, "Three twenty-six," and the Judge writes it down, and shoves Master the blue ribbon.

I bit the Master, and I jumps and bit Miss Dorothy, and I waggled so hard that the Master couldn't hold me. When I get to the gate Miss Dorothy snatches me up and kisses me between the ears, right before millions of people, and they both hold me so tight that I didn't know which of them was carrying of me. But one thing I knew, for I listened hard, as it was the Judge hisself as said it.

"Did you see that puppy I gave 'first' to?" says the Judge to the gentleman at the gate.

"I did. He was a bit out of his class," says the gate-gentleman.

"He certainly was!" says the Judge, and they both laughed.

But I didn't care. They couldn't hurt me then, not with Nolan holding the blue ribbon and Miss Dorothy hugging my ears, and the kennel-men sneaking away, each looking like he'd been caught with his nose under the lid of the slop-can.

We sat down together, and we all three just talked as fast as we could. They was so pleased that I couldn't help feeling proud myself, and I barked and jumped and leaped about so gay, that all the bull- terriers in our street stretched on their chains, and howled at me.

"Just look at him!" says one of those I had beat. "What's he giving hisself airs about?"

"Because he's got one blue ribbon!" says another of 'em. "Why, when I was a puppy I used to eat 'em, and if that Judge could ever learn to know a toy from a mastiff, I'd have had this one."

But Jimmy Jocks he leaned over from his bench, and says, "Well done, Kid. Didn't I tell you so!" What he 'ad told me was that I might get a "commended," but I didn't remind him.

"Didn't I tell you," says Jimmy Jocks, "that I saw your grandfather make his debut at the Crystal—"

"Yes, sir, you did, sir," says I, for I have no love for the men of my family.

A gentleman with a showing leash around his neck comes up just then and looks at me very critical. "Nice dog you've got, Miss Wyndham," says he; "would you care to sell him?"

"He's not my dog," says Miss Dorothy, holding me tight. "I wish he were."

"He's not for sale, sir," says the Master, and I was that glad.

"Oh, he's yours, is he?" says the gentleman, looking hard at Nolan. "Well, I'll give you a hundred dollars for him," says he, careless- like.

"Thank you, sir, he's not for sale," says Nolan, but his eyes get very big. The gentleman, he walked away, but I watches him, and he talks to a man in a golf-cap, and by and by the man comes along our street, looking at all the dogs, and stops in front of me.

"This your dog?" says he to Nolan. "Pity he's so leggy," says he. "If he had a good tail, and a longer stop, and his ears were set higher, he'd be a good dog. As he is, I'll give you fifty dollars for him."

But before the Master could speak, Miss Dorothy laughs, and says, "You're Mr. Polk's kennel-man, I believe. Well, you tell Mr. Polk from me that the dog's not for sale now any more than he was five minutes ago, and that when he is, he'll have to bid against me for him." The man looks foolish at that, but he turns to Nolan quick- like. "I'll give you three hundred for him," he says.

"Oh, indeed!" whispers Miss Dorothy, like she was talking to herself. "That's it, is it," and she turns and looks at me just as though she had never seen me before. Nolan, he was a gaping, too, with his mouth open. But he holds me tight.

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