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Ray's Daughter - A Story of Manila
by Charles King
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The lieutenant, as they delighted in calling him, joined them at Denver, looking perfectly at home in his field uniform and perfectly happy. They left Maidie to spend a week with old army friends at Fort Douglas, and as soon as Sandy was settled in his new duties and the loving mother had satisfied herself the cavalry would not be spirited away before July, she accepted the eager invitation of other old friends to visit them at Sacramento, and there they were, mother and daughter, again united this very raw and foggy evening, when Mr. Ray, as officer of the guard, stood at the bend of the roadway east of the Presidio guard-house, gazing after the vanishing forms of Captain Kress and the burly stranger in civilian clothes, and wondering where on earth it was he had seen the latter before.

So engrossed was he in this that it was only when a second time addressed that he whirled about and found himself confronting a tall and slender young officer, with frank, handsome blue eyes and fine, clear-cut face, a man perhaps five years his senior in age and one grade in rank, for his overcoat sleeve bore the single loop and braid of a first lieutenant.

He was in riding boots and spurs, as Ray noted at first glance, and there behind him stood an orderly holding the horses of both.

"Pardon me. I am Lieutenant Stuyvesant of General Vinton's staff. This is the officer of the guard, I believe, and I am sent to make some inquiry of a prisoner—a man named Murray."

"We have such a man," said Ray, eying the newcomer with soldierly appreciation of his general appearance and not without envy of his inches. "But he's just been locked in a cell, and it will take an order from the officer of the day to fetch him out—unless you could see him in there with other prisoners within earshot."

"Not very well," answered Stuyvesant, looking curiously into the dark eyes of the youngster. "Perhaps I'd better see the officer of the day at once."

"You'll find him at the club. He's just gone in," said Ray, mindful of the fact that this was the captain's time for a cocktail, and with a courteous salute the aide-de-camp hastened away.

In five minutes he was back with a pencilled scrawl from Kress to the effect that Lieutenant Stuyvesant was to be permitted to interview the prisoner Murray outside the guard-house, but sentries must be placed to prevent escape.

Quickly young Ray called out the corporal and two men, warned them of the duty demanded, stationed them up and down the road and opposite the guard-house, but just out of ear-shot, ordered the prisoner brought forth, and then, leaving Stuyvesant standing at the post of Number One, stepped a dozen yards away into the mist.

A minute later out came the sergeant, marshalling Murray after him, a sentry at his heels. Then in the gathering darkness the tall officer and the short, thick-set soldier met face to face, and the latter recoiled and began glancing quickly, furtively about him.

Just how it all happened Ray could never quite tell. The light was now feeble, the lamps were only just beginning to burn. There was a moment of low-toned talk between the two, a question twice repeated in firmer tone, then a sudden, desperate spring and dash for liberty.

Like a centre rush—a charging bull—the prisoner came head on straight to where young Ray was standing, heedless of a yell to halt, and in less time than it takes to tell it, the lithe little athlete of West Point's crack football team had sprung and tackled and downed him in his tracks.

Biting, cursing, straining, the big bully lay in the mud, overpowered now by the instant dash of the guard, while their bantam officer, rising and disgustedly contemplating the smear of wet soil over his new overcoat, was presently aware of Stuyvesant, bending forward, extending a helping hand, and exclaiming:

"By Jove, but that was a neat tackle! You must have been a joy to your team. What was it?"

"West Point—last year's."

"And may I ask—the name?"

"My name's Ray," said Sandy with beaming smile, showing a row of even, white teeth under the budding, dark mustache, and Stuyvesant felt the warm blood surging to his forehead, just as it had before that day in the general's tent.

"I think I should have known that," he presently stammered. "It was Miss Ray who so skilfully treated those poor fellows burned out on our train. I suppose you heard of it."

"Why, yes," answered the youngster, again curiously studying the face of his tall visitor. "Then it was you she—I heard about. Wish I weren't on duty. I'd be glad to have you over at my quarters or the club."

"I wish so too, and yet I'm lucky in finding you here, since"—and here Stuyvesant turned and looked resentfully towards the bedraggled figure of Murray, now being supported back to the cells—"since that fellow proved so churlish and ungrateful. He's all wrath at being put behind the bars and won't answer any questions."

"What else could he expect?" asked Ray bluntly. "He's a deserter."

"A deserter!" exclaimed Stuyvesant in surprise. "Who says so?"

"Captain Kress, officer of the day, or at least a cit who came with him to identify him. They say he skipped from the Seventh Cavalry."

At this piece of information Mr. Stuyvesant whirled about again in added astonishment. "Why," said he, "this upsets—one theory completely. I declare, if that's true we're all at sea. I beg pardon," he continued, but now with marked hesitancy—"you know—you've heard, I suppose, about—Foster?"

"What Foster?"

"Why, the recruit, you know, the one we lost at Port Costa," and the blue eyes were curiously and intently studying the face of the younger soldier, dimly visible now that the guard-house lamps were beginning to glow.

"I knew there was a recruit missing, and—seems to me that was the name," answered Ray.

"And—didn't you know who he was—that it was—pardon me, the man who—lived near you—had a ranch——"

"Great Scott! You don't mean Wally Foster! He enlisted and in the cavalry? Well, I'm——" And now Mr. Ray's merriment overcame him. "I never thought there was that much to Wally. He was a lackadaisical sort of a spook when I saw him. What possessed him to enlist? He's no stuff for a soldier."

Stuyvesant hesitated. That letter of old Colonel Martindale's was shown him in confidence. But Ray's next impetuous outburst settled it.

"Oh, by Jove! I see it,—it's——" And here the white teeth gleamed in the lamplight, for Mr. Ray was laughing heartily.

"Yes? It's what?" smiled Stuyvesant sympathetically.

"It's—my sister, I reckon," laughed Ray. "She once said she wouldn't marry outside of the army, and he heard it."

"Oh,—did she?" said Stuyvesant reflectively, and then he was silent.



CHAPTER VI.

When Vinton's flotilla drew out into that wonderful bay, and the crowded transports rode at anchor on the tide, there came swarming about them all manner of harbor craft, some laden with comforts for the departing soldiery, some with curiosity seekers, some with contraband of war in the shape of fruit and fluids, but all were warned to keep a cable's length at least away.

The commanding general, with other officers of rank, was darting from ship to ship in a swift steam launch, holding brief conference with the colonel in command of each, and finally repairing to his own—the flagship—where the final adieux were exchanged.

The general and his aides nimbly mounted the steep stairway to the bridge, the launch swung loose, and then up to the mast-head flew a little bunch of bunting that broke as it reached the truck, and there fluttered in the strong salt wind whistling in from sea the eagerly awaited signal to "up anchor and follow."

And then at the stern of the Vanguard the waves were churned into foam as the massive screw began its spin, and slowly, steadily the flagship forged ahead to the accompaniment of a deafening din of steam whistles and sirens all over the bay. Promptly the other transports followed the movements of the leader, and presently, in trailing column, five big black steamships, thronged with cheering soldiery, were slowly ploughing their way towards the grand entrance of that spacious harbor, the matchless Golden Gate.

Coming abreast of rock-ribbed Alcatraz, still moving at less than half speed, the flagship was greeted by the thunder of the parting salute, and the commanding general, standing with his staff upon the bridge, doffed his cap and bared his handsome head in acknowledgment.

"The next guns we're apt to hear will be the Spaniard's at Manila, and shotted guns instead of blanks," said a staff officer to the tall, fair-haired aide-de-camp. "What's the matter, Stuyvesant? Beginning to feel wabbly already? There's no sea here to speak of."

"I was watching that boat," was the quiet reply, as the young officer pointed to a small white steamer that appeared coming in pursuit, carefully picking a way through the host of harbor craft still screeching and steaming along as escort to the fleet.

There was an eager light in the bright blue eyes, but the high color had fled. Stuyvesant looked as though he had not slept as much or as well of late as perfect health required, and his questioner gazed keenly into his face, then turned away with a smile.

Only three days before, on the register of the Occidental appeared among the arrivals the entry "Mrs. William P. Ray, Miss Ray, Fort Leavenworth," and that evening at least a dozen officers called and sent up their cards, and Lieutenant Ray came in from the Presidio and was with his mother and sister an hour or more.

The ladies held quite a little levee in the parlor of the familiar old army hostelry, and Mr. Stuyvesant, after a long and fatiguing day's duty at camp, accompanied his general to their very handsome apartments at The Palace, and then falteringly asked if he might be excused awhile—he had a call or two to make.

The evening papers had announced the arrival of the wife and daughter of "the gallant officer so well known for quarter of a century gone by to many of our citizens—Captain 'Billy' Ray, now colonel of the —th Kentucky," and Stuyvesant had determined to make an effort to meet them. But he was a stranger to the officers who called and sent up their cards—all old regulars.

Lieutenant Ray was with the party in the parlor, and Stuyvesant felt a strange shyness when striving to persuade himself to send his card to that young officer and boldly ask to be presented. Surely it was the proper thing to seek and meet her and thank her for her deft ministrations the night of the fire. Surely a man of his distinguished family and connections need not shrink from asking to be introduced to any household in all our broad domain, and yet Stuyvesant found himself nervous and hesitant, wandering about the crowded office, making pretense of interest in posters and pictures, wistfully regarding the jovial knots of regulars who seemed so thoroughly at home.

Over at The Palace, where so many of the general officers and their staffs were quartered, he had dozens of friends. Here at this favorite old resort of the regular service he stood alone, and to his proud and sensitive spirit it seemed as though there were a barrier between him and these professional soldiers.

There was the whole secret of his trouble. Absurd and trivial as it may seem, Stuyvesant shrank from the enterprise, even at the very threshold,—shrank even from sending his card and asking for Lieutenant Ray, for no other or better reason than that he did not know how a volunteer would be welcomed.

And so for nearly half an hour he hovered irresolute about the office, unconscious of the many glances of interest and admiration from the keen eyes of the officers gathered in laughing groups about the marbled floor. Not one of their number was his superior in form and feature, and his uniform was the handiwork of Gotham's best military tailor. They saw that the instant he threw off his cape.

One of their number whispered that it was Mr. Stuyvesant, General Vinton's aide, for everybody knew Vinton, and more than one would have been glad to take the aide-de-camp by the hand and bid him welcome to their coterie but for that same odd shyness that, once away from camp or garrison and in the atmosphere of metropolitan life, seems to clog and hamper the kindlier impulses of the soldier.

Presently, as Stuyvesant stood at the desk looking over the register, he heard himself accosted by name, and turning quickly, hopefully, found to his disappointment only a stocky little man in civilian dress. Yet the face was familiar, and the trouble in the honest brown eyes looking up to him, as though for help and sympathy, went right to his heart. Even before the man could give his name or tell his need, Stuyvesant knew him and held out a cordial hand:

"Why! You're our brakeman! I'm glad to see you. What's wrong?"

"I've lost me job, sir," was the answer, with a little choke. "They let me out two days ago—for sayin' their rotten old car caught fire from the boxes, I reckon."

"You don't tell me!" exclaimed Stuyvesant in honest indignation. "Now, how can I help you? What shall we do?"

"Take me to Manila, sir. I don't need this place. There's no one dependent on me—I can't soldier. They won't 'list a fellow with only two fingers," and he held up a maimed hand. "Lost the others in a freight smash-up six years ago. But there's a railway out there that'll be ours in a few months. Then you'll want Yankee train-hands. Can you do that much for me, lieutenant?"

"Come to me at The Palace at eight o'clock in the morning," answered Stuyvesant. "I'll have had a chance to talk to my general by that time. Meanwhile"—and with a blush he began drawing forth his purse.

The brakeman smiled. "I've got money enough, sir. They paid me off and I had some put by. Thank you all the same, Mr. Stuyvesant.—Oh, yes, sir, I'm ready," he broke off suddenly in addressing some other person, and Stuyvesant, turning quickly to see, was confronted by Lieutenant Ray.

"Oh, how-de-do? Going to be here long?" promptly queried that young gentleman. "Haven't seen you since the night at the Presidio. 'Scuse me, will you, I've got to take—er—my sister wants to see the brakeman, you know.—With you the night of the fire." And with that Mr. Ray hopped briskly away to the elevator, the ex-trainman following, leaving Stuyvesant standing enviously at the counter.

Even a brakeman could go to her and hear her pleasant words and receive that beaming smile and perhaps a clasp of that cool, slender little hand, while he who so longed for it all stood without the pale.

Then an impulse that had been spurring him for half an hour overmastered him. The parlors were public. At least he could go and take a peep at her.

He started for the elevator, then changed his plan, turned, and, with his cape still thrown over his arm, ascended the stairs. The clerk at the office desk glanced curiously at him, but the uniform was sufficient. In a moment he found himself in the broad corridor and almost in front of the door-way to the parlor. Half a dozen groups, women and officers, were scattered about in merry conversation, but Stuyvesant's eyes were riveted instantly on a little party close by the elevator shaft. There, hat in hand, bowing and blushing, stood the brakeman. There, with a bright, genial smile on her serene and happy face, stood a matronly woman who, despite her soft blue eyes and fair hair and complexion, was patent at once as the mother of the lovely, dark-eyed girl and the trim young soldier who formed the other members of the group.

Three or four officers, some of them past the meridian, others young subalterns, stood looking on in evident interest, and Stuyvesant halted spellbound, not knowing just what to do.

It was over in a moment. The railwayman, confused but happy, had evidently been the recipient of kind and appreciative words, for his face was glowing, and Miss Ray's fairly beamed with the radiance of its smile. Then the door flew open as the elevator-car stopped for passengers, and the ex-brakeman backed in and disappeared from view. Then the mother twined an arm about her daughter's slender waist and two young officers sprang forward to her side. Together they came sauntering towards the parlor door, and then, all on a sudden, she looked up and saw him.

There was no mistaking the flash of instant recognition in her beautiful eyes. Stuyvesant's heart leaped as his eager gaze met the swift glance, and noted with joy that she certainly saw and knew him: more than that, that the sight gave her pleasure. But in another instant she had recovered herself, and turned to ask some quick question of the young gallant at her side, and Stuyvesant, who was almost at the point of bowing low, found himself savagely hating those yellow straps and stripes and wishing the cavalry in perdition. Somebody was speaking to Mr. Ray, and he couldn't catch that young officer's eye. The party stopped a moment at the threshold, one of the officers was saying good-night, and then a voice at Stuyvesant's elbow said "Which is Lieutenant Ray?" It was the bell-boy.

A sudden inspiration came to Stuyvesant. "What is it?" he said. "Have you a message for him?"

"Yes," was the answer. "They're telephoning for him from the Presidio,—want him to come at once."

"Tell me the whole message and I'll give it," said Stuyvesant. "Anything wrong?"

"Yes, sir. The clerk's at the 'phone now, but I couldn't get the trouble. Something's broke loose, as I understand it."

And that delay was fatal. Bounding up the steps, three at a stride, came a young officer, breathless, and made straight for the group. Seeing that Mrs. Ray and Miss Marion were close at hand, he paused one moment, then with significant gesture called Ray to his side. Then Stuyvesant could not but hear every word of the sudden and startling message.

"Ray, you're wanted at the barracks at once. Prisoners 'scaped and your house is robbed!"

Stuyvesant ran beside him as Ray went bounding down the stairs and out into Montgomery Street.

"Can I be of any service? Can I help you some way?" he urged, for he saw the young officer was looking white and anxious. But Ray hurriedly thanked him and declined. He could not imagine, he said, what his loss might be, yet something told him if anybody had escaped it was that hulking sinner Murray.

He sprang upon the first street-car at the corner, waved his hand in parting, and was whisked away westward, leaving Stuyvesant standing disconsolate.

How now could he hope to meet her? The clerk at the office seemed friendly and sympathetic when Stuyvesant wandered back there, and gave him such particulars of the situation at the Presidio as he had been able to gather over the wire. It seemed that a rumor had reached the commanding officer that a number of tools had been smuggled into the guard-house by the prisoners, and by the aid of these they hoped to cut their way out. Despite the fact that it was growing dark, a search of the prison room and cells was ordered while the prisoners stood in line in front awaiting the usual evening inspection. There was no one to tell just who started it or how, but, all on a sudden, while many of the guard were aiding in the search inside, the whole array of prisoners, regular and volunteer, old and young, except those few in irons, made a sudden and simultaneous dash for liberty, scattering in every direction. Some had already been recaptured, but at least twenty-five were still at large, and the post adjutant, telephoning for Ray, briefly added that there was every evidence that his quarters had been robbed.

All this Stuyvesant heard with an absorbing interest, wondering whether it might not be possible to make it a plea or pretext on which to present himself to Mrs. Ray, and then ask to be presented to her daughter. A second time he ascended the stairs and, sauntering by, peered in at the parlor-door. Yes, there sat the charming matron looking so winsome and kind as she smiled upon her circle of visitors, but, alas, they were four in number and all officers of rank in the regular service, and Stuyvesant's shyness again overcame him.

Moreover, his brief glance into the brightly lighted apartment, all decorated as it was with flags and flowers, revealed Miss Ray seated near the window with two young cavalrymen in devoted attendance—all three apparently so absorbed in their chat that he, lonely and wistful, escaped observation entirely until, just as he passed from view, her lovely dark eyes were for an instant quickly raised, and though he knew it not, she saw him, and saw too that he was wandering aimlessly about, but, quick as woman's intuition, her eyes returned to the face of the eager young trooper by her side, for Stuyvesant turned for one more longing glance before descending, defeated, to the office floor.

It was his last opportunity, and fate seemed utterly against him, for when on the following evening his general went to call upon Mrs. Ray and took his handsome and hopeful aide, "The ladies are out," said the bell-boy. They were dining at the adjutant-general's.

In desperation, Stuyvesant went over to a florist's on Post Street, bought a box of superb roses, and sent them with his card to Miss Ray, expressing deep regret that he had been denied opportunity to thank her in person for her kindness to him the night of the fire. He wanted to say that he owed his eyes to her, but felt that she knew better and would be more offended than pleased.

He was to sail on the morrow, and he had not even seen her brother again.

But the department commander had said he purposed coming out with a party of friends to run alongside the flag-ship as she steamed slowly out to sea, and that was why Mr. Stuyvesant stood so eagerly watching the ploughing side-wheeler so swiftly coming in pursuit. Already he had made out the double stars in the bunting at the jack-staff. Already he could distinguish the forms of several general officers whose commands were not yet ready for embarkation and the fluttering garments of a score of women.

Something told him she would be of the party, and as the Vanguard slowed down to let the head-quarters' boat run alongside, his heart beat eagerly when his general said: "We'll go down, gentlemen, and board her. It'll be much easier than the climb would be to them."

So it happened that five minutes later he found himself at the heels of his chief shaking hands mechanically with a dozen officers, while his eyes kept peering beyond them to where, on the after-deck, the smiling group of women stood expectant.

And presently the general pushed on for a word of farewell with them, the aides obediently following, and then came more presentations to cordial and kindly people whose names he did not even hear, for just a little farther on, and still surrounded by cavaliers, stood Mrs. Ray, the handsomest and most distinguished-looking woman of the party, and close beside her, petite and graceful, her dark beauty even the more noticeable in contrast with the fair features of her mother, stood Maidie. And then at last it came, the simple words that threw down the social barrier that so long had balked him.

"My aide-de-camp, Mr. Stuyvesant, Mrs. Ray,—Miss Ray," and with his soul in his eyes he looked down into that radiant face, smiling so cordially, unconstrainedly into his, and then found himself striving to recall what on earth it was he was so anxious to say.

He knew that he was flushing to the peak of his forage-cap. He knew he was trying to stammer something. He saw that she was perfectly placid and at her ease. He saw, worse luck, that she wore a little knot of roses on the breast of her natty jacket, but that they were not his. He faltered something to the effect that he had been trying to see her ever since the night of the fire—had so much to thank her for; and her white, even, beautiful teeth gleamed as she laughingly answered that the cherries had more than cancelled the score.

He asked for news of her brother, and was told that he had been too much occupied to come in again. They were going out to the Presidio that afternoon.

And then he ventured to hope Mr. Ray had sustained no great loss in the robbery of his quarters, and saw at once that he was breaking news, for the smile vanished instantly, the lovely face clouded with concern, and he had only time to stammer: "Then, probably, there was no truth in the story. I merely happened to hear two nights ago that Mr. Ray's quarters had been robbed,—about the time the prisoners escaped." And then he heard his general calling, and saw that the party was already clambering back to the Vanguard.

"I—I—I hope I may see you when we get back from Manila, Miss Ray," he said, as he bowed over her hand.

"I think you may see me—before that," was the smiling answer. And then Captain Hawley grabbed him by the arm and rushed him to the side.

Two minutes more and he was on the deck of the transport. The lines were cast off, the white side-wheeler, alive with sympathetic faces, some smiling, some tearful, and a forest of fluttering kerchiefs, dropped slowly astern, and all that long evening as they bored through the fogs of the Farallones and bowed and dipped to the long swell of the sea, and all the long week that followed as they steamed over a sunlit summer ocean, Stuyvesant found himself repeating again and again her parting words, and wondering what could have been the explanation of her knowing nothing of the robbery of her brother's quarters, or what could have been her meaning when she said "I think you may see me—before that."

Only once on the run to Honolulu was the flotilla of transports neared by other voyagers. Three days out from San Francisco the "O. and O." liner Doric slowly overhauled and gradually passed them by. Exchanging signals, "All well on board," she was soon lost in the shadows of the night long miles ahead.



CHAPTER VII.

There was trouble at the Presidio.

All but ten of the escaped prisoners had been recaptured or self-surrendered, but the ten still at large were among the worst of the array, and among the ten was the burly, hulking recruit enlisted under the name of Murray, but declared by Captain Kress, on the strength of the report of a detective from town, to be earlier and better known as Sackett and as a former member of the Seventh Cavalry, from which regiment he had parted company without the formality of either transfer or discharge.

Murray was a man worth his keep, as military records of misdemeanors went, and a sore-hearted fellow was the sergeant of the guard, held responsible for the wholesale escape. And yet it was not so much the sergeant's fault. The evening had come on dark, damp, and dripping. Gas-lamps and barrack-lanterns were lighted before the sunset gun. The sergeant himself and several of the guard had been called inside to the prison room by the commanding officer and his staff. There was a maze of brick and wooden buildings in front of the guard-house, and a perfect tangle of dense shrubbery only fifty yards away to the west. It was into this that most of the fugitives dived and were instantly lost to sight, while others had doubled behind the guard-house and rushed into an alley-way that passed in rear of the club and a row of officers' quarters.

Some of them apparently had taken refuge in the cellars or wood- and coal-sheds until thick darkness came down, and others had actually dared to enter the quarters of Lieutenant Ray, for the back door was found wide open, the sideboard, wherein had been kept some choice old Kentucky whiskey produced only on special occasions, had been forced, and the half-emptied demijohn and some glasses stood on the table in a pool of sloppy water.

But what was worse, the lieutenant's desk in the front room, securely locked when he went to town, had been burst open with a chisel, and Mr. Ray had declined to say how much he had lost. Indeed, he did not fully know.

"Too busy to come in," was the message he had sent his mother the morning after the discovery, and yet all that morning he remained about his quarters after one brief interview with the perturbed and exasperated post commander, ransacking desks, drawers, and trunks in the vain hope that he might find in them some of the missing property, for little by little the realization was forced upon him that his loss would sum up several hundreds—all through his own neglect and through disregard of his father's earnest counsel.

Only three days before the lieutenant commanding his troop had been sent to Oregon and Washington on duty connected with the mustering of volunteers,—their captain was a field officer of one of the regiments of his native State,—and, in hurriedly leaving, Lieutenant Creswell had turned over to his young subordinate not only the troop fund, amounting to over four hundred dollars, but the money belonging to the post athletic association, and marked envelopes containing the pay of certain soldiers on temporary detached service—in all between nine hundred and one thousand dollars.

"Whenever you have care of public money—even temporarily—put it at once into the nearest United States depository," said his father. "Even office safes in garrison are not safe," he had further said. "Clerks, somehow, learn the combination and are tempted sometimes beyond their strength. Lose no time, therefore, in getting your funds into the bank."

And that was what he meant to do in this case, only, as the absent troopers were expected to return in two days, what was the use of breaking up those sealed envelopes and depositing the whole thing only to have to draw it out in driblets again as the men came to him for it. Surely he could safely leave that much at least in the quartermaster's safe. Creswell never thought of depositing the cash at all. He carried it around with him, a wad of greenbacks and a little sack of gold, and never lost a cent.

Ray took the entire sum to the quartermaster's office Tuesday evening and asked to store it in the safe. The clerk looked up from his desk and said he was sorry, but the quartermaster was the only man who knew the combination, and he had gone over to Camp Merritt.

So Ray kept it that night and intended taking it to town Wednesday morning, but drills interposed. He carried a little fortune with him when he went in to meet his mother and sister Wednesday evening, half intending to ask the genial "major,"—mine host of the Occidental,—to take care of it for him in the private safe, but the major was out and the money was still bulging in Ray's pockets when he returned to the post late that night, and it had been very much in his way. Thursday he fully expected the troopers back, and yet when stables were over Thursday evening and he was ready to start for town to join his dear ones, and was arraying himself in his most immaculate uniform and secretly rejoicing in the order prohibiting officers from wearing for the time being civilian dress, he found himself still burdened by the money packages and in a hurry to catch a certain car or else keep them waiting for dinner.

The quartermaster's office was several hundred yards away, and there stood his own desk, a beautiful and costly thing—his mother's gift—with its strong locks and intricate system of pigeon-holes and secret drawers. He would "chance it" one night, he said, and give his trusted servant orders to stand guard over the premises, and so the little bag of gold went into one closed compartment, the envelopes and wads of treasury notes into the hidden drawer, and the key into his watch-pocket.

His servant was a young man whose father had been with Colonel Ray for quarter of a century, a faithful Irishman by the name of Hogan. He was honest to the core and had but one serious failing—he would drink. He would go for months without a lapse, and then something would happen to give him a start, and nothing short of a spree would satisfy his craving. It was said that in days gone by "old man Hogan" was similarly afflicted, but those were times when an occasional frolic was the rule rather than the exception with most troopers on the far frontier, and Hogan senior had followed the fortunes of the —th Cavalry and Captain Ray until an Indian bullet had smashed his bridle-arm and compelled his discharge.

Whereupon Mrs. Ray had promptly told the gallant fellow that their army home was to be his, and that if he would consent to serve as butler or as the captain's own man to look after his boots, spurs, and sabres he would never lack for money comforts, or home.

Perhaps had Mrs. Ray foreseen that the dashing Irishman was destined to lay siege to the heart of her pretty maid, she might have suggested setting Hogan up in business farther away. Perhaps, too, she would not, for his almost pathetic devotion to her beloved husband was something she could never forget. Hogan, the crippled veteran, and Kitty, the winsome maid, were duly wed, and continued as part of the army household wherever they went. And in course of the quarter century it seemed to be but a case of domestic history repeating itself that young "Mart" should become Mr. Sandy's factotum and valet, even though Sandy could have secured the services of a much better one for less money. Young Mart had all his father's old-time dash and impetuosity, but less of his devotion, and on this particular Thursday evening, just when his master most needed him, Mart was not to be found. Ray stormed a bit as he finished his toilet. Then, as there was no time to be lost, he closed the door of his bedroom behind him and hastened away to the east gate. Just outside the reservation was a resort kept by a jovial compatriot of Hogan's,—assuming that an Irishman is always an Irishman whether born on the sod or in the States,—and there Ray felt pretty sure of finding his servant and sending him home to mount guard. And there, sure enough, he learned that Hogan had been up to within five minutes, and had left saying he must go to help the lieutenant. He was perfectly sober, said the publican, and it was more than half a mile back to quarters. Ray would be late for dinner as it was, the car was coming, and so, though dissatisfied and ill at ease, he jumped aboard, hurried to the Occidental, and within three hours was stunned and almost crushed by the tidings that the house had been entered and robbed, probably within an hour after he left it.

And now Saturday morning, while the guns of Alcatraz were booming in salute across the bay and all the garrison was out along the shore or on the seaward heights, waving farewell to the Vinton flotilla, and his mother and Maidie had gone out with the department commander to bid them god-speed, poor Sandy sat wretchedly in his quarters.

Hogan, overwhelmed by the magnitude of his master's misfortune, and realizing that it was due in no small degree to his own neglect, was now self-exiled from the lieutenant's roof, and seeking such consolation as he could find at the Harp of Erin outside the walls, a miserable and contrite man,—contrite, that is to say, as manifested in the manner of his country, for Hogan was pottle deep in his distress.

Although vouched for as perfectly sober from the Hibernian point of view, he well knew that he had taken so much that fatal Thursday evening as to be fearful of meeting his master, and so had kept out of the way until full time for him to be gone to dinner. Then, working his way homeward in the darkness of the night, he had marvelled much at finding the back door open, rejoiced at sight of the demijohn and disorder in the little dining-room, arguing therefrom that the lieutenant had had some jovial callers and therefore hadn't missed him.

Hogan drank, in his master's priceless old Blue Grass Bourbon, to the health of the party, and then, stumbling into the bedroom and lighting the lamp, came upon a sight that filled him with dismay—the beautiful desk burst open, drawers and letters and papers scattered about in utter confusion,—and in his excitement and terror he had gone on the run to the adjutant's quarters, told that official of his discovery, and then learned of the wholesale jail delivery that occurred at retreat.

He wrung his hands and wept as he listened to his young master's wrathful rebuke and the recital of his losses. He hung meekly about the house all night long, but, unable to bear the sight of poor Ray's mingled anger and distress, he had fled with the coming of the day and gone to tell his woes to his friend of the Harp.

Afternoon of Saturday came, and still Ray sat there nerveless.

He knew that any moment now would bring that loving mother and sister. He had cleared up the litter left by the robbers, put his desk in order, and Hogan had done his best with the sideboard in the other room.

Sympathetic souls among his brother officers had been in from time to time consoling him with theories that the thief could not escape,—would surely be recaptured and the money recovered. But on the other hand he was visited by the returned troopers in quest of their money, and was compelled to tell them of the robbery and to ask them to wait until Monday, when he would be able to pay them.

Luckier than others who have been overtaken in the army by somewhat similar misfortune, Ray knew that he had only to acquaint his parents with the extent of his loss, and, even though the sum was great, it would be instantly made good. Yet the thought of having to tell his mother was a sore thing. He had disregarded his father's caution. He had proved unworthy of trust before the gloss had begun to wear from his first shoulder-straps, and he well knew that his mother's fortune was no longer what it was at the time of her marriage.

In the years of their wanderings all over the West all her business affairs had been in the hands of a trusted agent at home, and it so often happens that in the prolonged absence of owners trusted agents follow the lead of the unjust steward of Holy Writ and make friends of the mammon of unrighteousness and ducks and drakes of their employers' assets.

The ranch bought for him the year gone by was a heavy drain. His father, in giving him a few hundred dollars for his outfit, had told him that now he must live entirely on his pay, and that he should be able to "put by" a little every month.

But, as was to be expected of his father's son and his Kentucky blood, Sandy could not bid farewell to his associates at the ranch or the citizens of the little cow and mining town on the Big Horn without a parting "blow out," in which his health was drunk a dozen times an hour. Oh, that he had that money now instead of certain unpaid bills in that ravished secret drawer! It was humiliation inexpressible to have to send those men away empty-handed, and in his dejection and misery, poor boy, he wandered to his sideboard instead of going to luncheon at the mess, and all he had had to eat or drink that day, by the time Mrs. Ray and Maidie came late in the afternoon, was some crackers and cheese and he didn't know how many nips of that priceless Blue Grass Bourbon.

The bright, brave young eyes were glassy and his dark cheek heavily flushed when at four o'clock he hastened out to assist his mother from her carriage, and the color fled from her beautiful face; her heart seemed to stand still and her hand trembled violently as she noted it all, but took his arm without a word, and, with Maidie silently following, went up the steps and into the little army home, where the door closed behind them, and the knot of lookers-on, officers awaiting the call for afternoon stables, glanced significantly at each other, then went on their way.



CHAPTER VIII.

Vinton's flotilla came steaming into Honolulu harbor just as the smoke of the Doric was fading away on the westward horizon.

Cheers and acclamations, a banquet tendered to the entire force in the beautiful grounds about the Palace, and a welcome such as even San Francisco had not given awaited them. Three days were spent in coaling for the long voyage to Manila, and during that time officers and men were enabled to spend hours in sea-bathing and sight-seeing.

Vinton, eager to push ahead, fumed with impatience over the slow and primitive methods by which his ships were coaled, but the junior officers found many a cause for rejoicing over their enforced detention. Dinners, dances, and surf-rides were the order of every evening. Riding parties to the Pali and picnics at Pearl Harbor and the plantations along the railway filled up every hour of the long, soft, sensuous days.

The soldiers explored every nook and corner of the town and, for a wonder, got back to ship without serious diminution in their number, and with a high opinion of the police, who seemed bent on protecting the blue-coats from the States and making the best of their exuberance of spirits.

Only one row of any consequence occurred within the forty-eight hours of their arrival. Three of the Colorado volunteers playing billiards in a prominent resort were deliberately annoyed and insulted by some merchant sailors who had been drinking heavily at the expense of a short, thick-set, burly fellow in a loud check suit and flaming necktie, a stranger to the police, who knew of him only that he had landed from the Doric and was waiting the coming of the Miowera from Vancouver for Australia, and she was due on the morrow.

He had taken quarters at a second-rate sailors' lodging-house and at first kept much to himself, but, once started to drinking with his maritime neighbors, he became noisy and truculent, and sallied forth with four of his new-found friends, all half drunk and wholly bent on mischief.

The sight of three quiet-mannered young fellows playing pool in the saloon was just the thing to excite all the blackguard instinct latent in their half-sodden skins, and from sneering remark they had rapidly passed to deliberate insult.

In less than a minute thereafter the three young volunteers, flushed and panting, were surveying the police and bystanders busily engaged in dragging out from under the tables and propping up some wrecks of humanity, while the head devil of the whole business, the burly civilian in the loud-checked suit, pitched headlong out of the rear window, was stanching the blood from his broken nose at the hydrant of a neighboring stable.

The volunteers were escorted to the landing with all honors, and their antagonists, barring the ringleader, to the police station. The affair was over so quickly that few had seen anything of it and only one man had pitched in to the support of the soldiers—a civilian who came over on the Vanguard by the authority of General Vinton, the ex-brakeman of the Southern Pacific. While the Colorado men had little to say beyond the statement that they had been wantonly insulted if not actually assailed by a gang of strangers, the railway man was ablaze with excitement and wrath over the escape of the leader of the vanquished party.

"I've seen that cur-dog face of his somewhere before," said he, "and the quicker you find him and nab him the better. That man's wanted in more than one place, or I'm a duffer."

And so the police spent hours that night in search of the stranger, but to no purpose. He kept in hiding somewhere, and their efforts were vain. Search of his luggage at the lodging-house revealed the fact that he had a lot of new shirts, underwear, etc., but not a paper or mark that revealed his identity. The proprietor said the man had given the name of Spence, but he heard two of the sailors call him Sackett.

The following evening the general and his staff dined at the beautiful home of one of the old and wealthy residents, and towards nine o'clock Mr. Stuyvesant asked his general's permission to withdraw, as he had two calls to make before returning aboard ship. They were to sail at dawn.

Bidding good-night and good-by to his charming hostess, and declining the hospitable offer of a post-prandial "peg" from her genial lord, the young officer stepped blithely away down the moonlit avenue.

It was a beautiful summer night. The skies were cloudless, the air soft and still. Somewhere, either at the park or in the grounds of the Royal Hawaiian, the famous band of Honolulu was giving a concert, and strains of glorious music, rich and full, came floating on the gentle breeze. Here and there the electric lights were gleaming in the dense tropical foliage, and sounds of merry chat and musical laughter fell softly on the ear.

The broad thoroughfare of Beretania Street was well nigh deserted, though once in a while the lights of a cab on noiseless wheel flashed by, and at rare intervals Stuyvesant met or overtook some blissful pair whispering in the deep shadows of the overhanging trees.

It was quite a walk to the consul-general's, his first objective point, but he enjoyed it and the brief visit that followed. Naturally the affair of the previous evening came up for discussion, and there was some conjecture and speculation as to the identity of the leader of the attack on the Denver boys. Stuyvesant repeated what his friend the brakeman said, that somewhere he had seen the fellow's face before, but he had only a second's glimpse of it, for the moment he launched in to the aid of the volunteers the man in the check suit caught sight of him—and a simultaneous crack on the nose that sent him reeling towards the open window, through which he darted the instant he could recover balance, leaving the field equally divided, four to four in point of numbers, but otherwise with overwhelming advantage on the side of the clear heads and trained muscles of the soldiers.

A grewsome sight those sailors had presented when called up for sentence in the morning, and a remorseful quartette they proved. Moreover, to the consul-general, who had been called in in the interest of fair play for Jack, they declared that they were innocent of all evil intent. They only went in for a little fun with the soldiers. It was that San Francisco fellow who called himself Spence when he was sober and Sackett when he got drunk who brought on the row, and then abandoned them to their fate. He had owned that he "had it in" for soldiers in general,—hated the whole gang of them and wanted to see them well licked. He had plenty of money and would pay their fines if the police "ran them in," and now he had left them in the lurch.

They had no money and were confronted with the probability of a month's labor with the "chain-gang" on the public roads if the consul-general couldn't get them off. So that amiable official had gone out to the flotilla and had a talk with the Colorado officers and the three brawny heroes of the billiard-room battle, with the result that everybody agreed to heap all the blame on the vanished culprit in the check suit, and the sailors got off with a nominal fine and went home to nurse their bruises and their wrath against Spence, alias Sackett. That fellow shouldn't get away on the Miowera if they could help it.

All this Stuyvesant was pondering over as, after stopping to leave his P. P. C. at the Pacific Club, he strolled down Fort Street on his way to the boat-landing. The big whistle of an incoming steamer had attracted his attention as he left the consul-general's to make one more call, and at the club he heard someone say the Miowera had reached her dock and would sail for Australia in the morning.

The sky, that had been so cloudless early in the evening, became somewhat overcast by eleven, and the moonlight was dim and vague as he reached the landing.

In his several trips to and from the transport it happened that he had fallen frequently into the hands of a bright Kanaka boatboy whose admirable rowing and handling of the boat had pleased and interested him.

"Be ready to take me out about 11.30," he had told him, and now where was he?

Several officers and soldiers were there bargaining with the boatmen, and three or four of these amphibious Hawaiians precipitated themselves on Stuyvesant with appeals for a job, but he asked for Joe.

"Him gone," was the answer of an eager rival. "Him other job;" but even as they would have persuaded Stuyvesant that Joe was not to be had and his selection must be one of their number, Joe himself came running from the direction of a warehouse a short pistol-shot away.

"What kept you, Joe?" asked Stuyvesant, as the light boat danced away on the tide.

"Feller want me take him outside Miowera," was the answer, "him behind warehouse."

"The deuce you say!" exclaimed Stuyvesant, turning about in the stern-sheets and gazing back to shore. "Are there landing-stairs at the warehouse, and is he waiting for you there?"

"Huh," nodded Joe.

"Then here," said Stuyvesant, glancing moon-ward and noting with satisfaction that the luminary was behind a thick bank of clouds. "Turn back and row to the warehouse steps. I want to look at that fellow." So saying, he quickly threw off his uniform coat with its gleaming shoulder-straps and collar device, stowed his forage-cap under the seat, and sat bareheaded and in his shirt-sleeves.

Obedient to Joe's powerful strokes, the little boat was speedily gliding in among the shadows of the sailing-ships moored along the quay, and presently her stern was swung round to a flight of stone steps, and Stuyvesant bounded ashore. Over at the boat-landing the electric lights were gleaming and the sound of many voices chaffering over boat-fares was heard. Here among the sheds and warehouses all was silence and darkness, but Stuyvesant unhesitatingly strode straight to the corner of the big building and into the blackness of the westward side, peering right and left in search of the skulker who dared not come to the open dock, yet sought means of reaching the Australian steamer.

For a moment he could distinguish no living object, then paused to listen, and within ten seconds was rewarded. Somewhere close at hand between him and a low shed to his left there was the sound of sudden collision and a muttered oath. Some invisible body had bumped against some invisible box, and, turning sharply, Stuyvesant made a spring, and the next instant had grappled with some burly, powerful form, and was dragging it, despite furious resistance, towards the light.

He was conscious of the sickening odor of sour whiskey, of a volley of mad threats and imprecations, of a stinging blow in the face that only served to make him cling the tighter to his prisoner. Then, as they swayed and struggled to and fro, he felt that he was not gaining ground, and that this unseen ruffian might after all escape him. He lifted up his voice in a mighty shout:

"Police! Police! This way!"

Then he heard a savage oath, a sputtering, savage "Let go, damn your soul!" and then felt a sharp, stinging pang in the right side—another—another! and earth and sky reeled as his grasp relaxed, and with a moan of anguish he sank fainting on the dock.



CHAPTER IX.

Vinton's fleet had reached Manila. A third expedition had coaled at Honolulu and gone on its way. More transports were coming, and still there lingered in this lovely land of sun and flowers—lingered for a time 'twixt life and death—Vinton's stricken aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Stuyvesant.

Of his brutal antagonist no trace had been found. The shrill cries of the Kanaka boat-boy, supplementing the young officer's stentorian shout for the police, had brought two or three Hawaiian star-bearers and club-wielders to the scene of that fierce and well-nigh fatal struggle. All they found was the gallant victim writhing in pain upon the dock, his hand pressed to his side and covered with the blood that poured from his wounds.

It was half an hour before a surgeon reached them, rowed in with the general from the Vanguard. By that time consciousness had fled and, through loss of the vital fluid, Stuyvesant's pulse was well-nigh gone. They bore him to the Royal Hawaiian, where a cool and comfortable room could be had, and there, early on the following morning, and to the care of local physicians, the general was compelled to leave him.

With the brakeman to aid them, the police searched every nook and corner of the Miowera, and without result. Murray, alias Spence, alias Sackett, fugitive from justice, could not be aboard that ship unless he had burrowed beneath the coal in the bunkers, in which event the stokers promised he should be shovelled into the furnaces as soon as discovered. Every sailor's lodging in the town was ransacked, but to no purpose: Murray could not be found.

For a fortnight Stuyvesant's fate was in doubt. Officers of the third expedition could carry with them to Manila only the hope that he might recover. Not until the ships of the fourth flotilla were sighted was the doctor able to say that the chances were now decidedly in his favor.

He was lifted into a reclining chair the day of the flag-raising—that pathetic ceremony in which, through tear-dimmed eyes, the people saw their old and much-loved emblem supplanted by the stars and stripes of their new hope and aspirations. He was sitting up, languid, pallid, and grievously thin, when the tidings reached him that the transport with six troops of the —th Cavalry among others had arrived, and the doctor, with a quizzical grin on his genial face, informed his patient that some Red Cross nurses were with the command, and that two very nice-looking young women, in their official caps, aprons, and badges, were at that moment inquiring at the office if they could not see the invalid officer and be of some service to him.

Sore in body and spirit, wrathful at the fate that robbed him of a share of the glory he felt sure awaited his comrades at Manila, Stuyvesant was in no humor for a joke and plainly showed it. He gave it distinctly to be understood that he needed no coddling of any kind and preferred not to see the ladies, no matter what they belonged to. Not to put too fine a point upon it, Mr. Stuyvesant said he didn't "wish to be bothered," and this was practically the reply that reached two very earnest, kind-hearted young women, for the attendant, scenting the possible loss of a big fee if he should be supplanted by superior attractions, communicated the invalid's exact words to the Red Cross nurses, and they went back, wounded, to their ship.

Stuyvesant's room was on the ground-floor in one of the outlying cottages, and its Venetian blinds opened on the broad and breezy veranda. It was far more quiet and retired than apartments in the main building, the rooms overhead being vacant and the occupants of that which adjoined his having left for San Francisco within a day or two of his coming.

"I feel too forlorn to see anybody," was his explanation to the doctor. "So don't let anybody in." But several officers from the transport got leave to come ashore and take quarters at the Hawaiian. The rooms above had to be given to them, and their resounding footsteps made him wince.

"There's two ladies to take this next-door room," said his garrulous attendant that afternoon, and Stuyvesant thought opprobrious things. "They'll be giggling and talking all night, I suppose," said he disgustedly when the "medico" came in late that afternoon. "I wish you'd move me, if you can't them."

The doctor went and consulted the head of the house. "Certainly," said that affable Boniface. "If Mr. Stuyvesant is well enough to be carried up one flight I can give him a larger, airier room with bath attached, where he'll be entirely isolated. It was too expensive for our visitors from the transports, but—I believe you said Mr. Stuyvesant—wouldn't mind"—a tentative at which the doctor looked wise and sagely winked.

When that able practitioner returned to the cottage two young women with Red Cross badges were seated on the veranda, just in from a drive, apparently, and a dark-eyed little chap in the uniform of a subaltern of the cavalry was with them. They had drawn their chairs into the shade and close to the Venetian blinds, behind which in his darkened room reclined the languid patient.

"That will drive him simply rabid," said the doctor to himself, and prepared a professional smile with which to tell the glad tidings that he should be borne forthwith to higher regions.

He had left Stuyvesant peevish, fretful, but otherwise inert, asking only to be spared from intrusion. He found him alert, attent, eager, his eyes kindling, his cheeks almost flushing. The instant the doctor began to speak the patient checked him and bent his ear to the sound of soft voices and laughter from without.

"I've fixed it all," whispered the medical man reassuringly. "We'll move you in a minute—just as soon as I can call in another man or two," and he started for the door, whereat his erratic patient again uplifted a hand and beckoned, and the doctor tip-toed to his side and bent his ear and looked puzzled, perturbed, but finally pleased. Stuyvesant said that, thinking it all over, he "guessed" he would rather stay where he was.

And then, when the doctor was gone, what did he do but take a brace in his chair and bid the attendant go out and say to the officer on the veranda, Lieutenant Ray, that Mr. Stuyvesant would be very glad to speak with him if he'd be so kind as to come in, whereat the soft laughter suddenly ceased.

There was a sound of light footsteps going in one direction and a springy, soldierly step coming in the other. Then entered Mr. Sanford Ray, with outstretched hands, and the attendant, following and peering over his shoulder, marvelled at the sudden change that had come over his master.

Three days later, when the City of Sacramento was pronounced ready to proceed, and the officers and Red Cross nurses en route to Manila were warned to rejoin the ship, Lieutenant Stuyvesant "shook," so to speak, his civil physician, persuaded the army surgeons with the fleet that a sea-voyage was all he needed to make a new man of him, and was carried aboard the Sacramento and given an airy stateroom on the upper deck, vacated in his favor by one of the ship's officers,—consideration not made public, but Claus Spreckles & Co., bankers, had never before received such a deposit from this very able seaman in all the years he had been sailing or steaming in and out of Honolulu harbor.

And now retribution overtook the invalid. The Red Cross had made a marvellous name for itself in San Francisco, and was already organized and doing wonders at Honolulu. Its ministrations had been gladly accepted by the scores of officers and men among the volunteers, to whom the somewhat bare and crude conditions of camp hospitals were doubtless very trying. Women of gentlest birth and most refined associations donned its badge and dress and wrought in ward, kitchen, or refectory. It was a noble and patriotic purpose that inspired such sacrifice.

It was a joy to the embryo soldiery to be fed and comforted day by day with the delicacies of the Red Cross tables; but there were military magnates and martinets who dared to question the wisdom of such preparation for the stern scenes of campaigning ahead of the volunteers, and who presumed to point out to the officers of this great and far-reaching charity that, while they were most grateful for such dainties for the invalids of their command, the daily spectacle of scores of lusty, hearty young heroes feasting at the tables of the Red Cross, to the neglect of their own simple but sufficient rations, prompted the query as to what the boys would do without the Red Cross when they got into the field and couldn't have cake and pie and cream with their coffee.

The Red Cross, very properly, took umbrage at such suggestions and branded the suggesters as horrid. The Red Cross had done such widespread good and was ready to do so much more that criticism of its methods was well-nigh unbearable. And now that it had obtained the sanction of the government to send out to Manila not only supplies and dainties of every possible kind, but dozens of its members to serve as nurses to the sick and wounded, it scored a triumph over rival organizations, notably the Patriotic Daughters of America, whose vice-president, the austere Miss Perkins, first bombarded the papers in vain protest and denunciation, the Red Cross being her main objective, and with abuse of the commanding officers in camp; then called in person on the same officers to demand transportation to Manila with the next expedition.

The Red Cross held its head very high, and with reason. It ruffled its feathers and resented any slight. It sometimes mistook courteous protest against its lavish gifts to such soldiers as were in no wise needy as vicious and unhallowed criticism, and occasionally—only occasionally—it grievously enlarged and exaggerated alleged slights received at the hands of luckless officials. And then even those soft and shapely hands could develop cat-like claws, and the soothing voices take on an acid and scathing intonation, and the eyes, so ready to moisten with pity and sympathy at the sight of suffering, could shoot spiteful little fires at the objects of such divine displeasure, and poor Stuyvesant's petulant words, wrung from him in a moment of exasperation and never intended to reach the fair band of sisters of the Cross, were piled high with additions, impolitic, impolite, discourteous, impudent, intolerable, yes, even profane and blasphemous.

Eleven of the twelve Red Cross nurses, packed three in a room aboard the Sacramento, swore they would not have anything to do with Mr. Stuyvesant. The twelfth, the one soldier's daughter in the band, said nothing at all.

"Well, now, Miss Ray, don't you think it was most discourteous, most ungentlemanly, in him to send such a message?" demanded a flushed and indignant young woman, one of the most energetic of the sisterhood, as they stood together on the promenade deck in the shade of the canvas awnings, shunning the glare of the August sun.

"Are you sure such a message was sent?" was the serious reply.

"Sure? Why, certainly he did! and by his own servant, too!" was the wrathful answer. "Didn't he, Miss Porter?"

And Miss Porter, the damsel appealed to, and one of the two nurses who sent in their message from the office, promptly assented. Miss Ray looked unconvinced.

"Servants, you know, sometimes deliver messages that were never sent," she answered with quiet decision. "We have seen quite a little of that in the army, and it is my father's rule to get all the facts before passing judgment. My brother thought Mr. Stuyvesant's attendant garrulous and meddlesome."

"But I asked him if he was sure that was what Mr. Stuyvesant said," persisted Miss Porter, bridling, "and he answered they were just the very words."

"And still I doubt his having sent them as a message," said Miss Ray, with slight access of color, and that evening she walked the deck long with a happy subaltern and added to her unpopularity.

There were several well-informed and pleasant women, maids and matrons both, in the little sisterhood, but somehow "the boys" did not show such avidity to walk or chat with them as they did with Miss Ray. She sorely wanted a talk with Sandy that evening, but the Belgic had come in from 'Frisco only six hours before they sailed and huge bags of letters and papers were transferred from her to the Sacramento.

There were letters for Maidie and Sandy both,—several,—but there was one bulky missive for him that she knew to be from her father, from far-away Tampa, and the boy had come down late to dinner. They had seats at the table of the commanding officer, a thing Maidie had really tried to avoid, as she felt that it discriminated, somehow, against the other nurses, who, except Mrs. Doctor Wells, their official head, were distributed about the other tables, but the major had long known and loved her father, and would have it so. This night, their first out from Honolulu, he had ordered wine-glasses on the long table and champagne served, and when dinner was well-nigh over, noticed for the first time that Ray had turned his glass down.

"Why, Sandy," he cried impulsively, "it is just twenty-two years ago this summer that your father made the ride of his life through the Indian lines to save Wayne's command on the Cheyenne. Now, there are just twenty-two of us here at table, and I wanted to propose his health and promotion. Won't you join us?"

The boy colored to the roots of his dark hair. His eyes half filled. He choked and stammered a moment and then—back went the head with the old familiar toss that was so like his father, and through his set lips Sandy bravely spoke:

"Can't, major. I swore off—to-day!"

"All right, my boy, that ends it!" answered the major heartily, while Marion, her eyes brimming, barely touched her lips to the glass, and longed to be on Sandy's side of the table that she might steal a hand to him in love and sympathy and sisterly pride. But he avoided even her when dinner was over, and was busy, he sent word, with troop papers down between-decks, and she felt, somehow, that that letter was at the bottom of his sudden resolution and longed to see it, yet could not ask.

At three bells, half-past nine, she saw him coming quickly along the promenade-deck, and she stopped her escort and held out a detaining hand.

"You'll come and have a little talk with me, won't you, Sandy?" she pleaded. "I'll wait for you as long as you like."

"After I've seen Stuyvesant awhile," he answered hurriedly. "He isn't so well. I reckon he must have overdone it," and away he went with his springy step until he reached the forward end of the promenade, where he tapped at the stateroom door. The surgeon opened it and admitted him.

His eyes were grave and anxious when, ten minutes later, he reappeared. "Norris is with him," he said in low tone, as he looked down into the sweet, serious, upturned face. "He shouldn't have tried it. He fooled the doctors completely. I'll tell you more presently," he added, noting that Mrs. Wells, with two or three of the band, were bearing down upon him for tidings of the invalid, and Sandy had heard,—as who had not?—the unfavorable opinions entertained by the sisterhood of his luckless, new-found friend.

"The doctor says he mustn't be both—I mean disturbed—wants to get him to sleep, you know," was his hurried and not too happy response to the queries of the three. "Matter of business he wanted to ask me about, that's all," he called back, as he broke away and dodged other inquiries. Once in the little box of a stateroom to which he and a fellow subaltern had been assigned, he bolted the door, turned on the electric light, and took from under his pillow a packet of letters and sat him down to read. There was one from his mother, written on her way back to Leavenworth, which he pored over intently and then reverently kissed. Later, and for the second time, he unfolded and read the longest letter his father had ever penned. It was as follows:

"I have slipped away from camp and its countless interruptions and taken a room at the hotel to-night, dear Sandy, for I want to have a long talk with my boy,—a talk we ought to have had before, and it is my fault that we didn't. I shrank from it somehow, and now am sorry for it.

"Your frank and manful letter, telling me of your severe loss and of the weakness that followed, reached me two days ago. Your mother's came yesterday, fonder than ever and pleading for you as only mothers can. It is a matter that has cost us all dear financially, but, thanks to that loving mother, you were promptly enabled to cover the loss and save your name. You know and realize the sacrifices she had to make, and she tells me that you insisted on knowing. I am glad you did, my boy. I am going to leave in your hands the whole matter of repayment.

"A young fellow of twenty can start in the army with many a worse handicap than a debt of honor and a determination to work it off. That steadies him. That matter really gives me less care than you thought for. It is the other—your giving way to an impulse to drink—that fills me with concern. You come up like a man, admit your fault, and say you deserve and expect my severe censure. Well, I've thought it all over, Sandy. My heart and my arms go out to you in your distress and humiliation, and—I have not one word of reproach or blame to give you.

"For now I shall tell you what I had thought to say when your graduation drew nigh, had we been able to master mechanics and molecules and other mathematical rot as useful to a cavalry officer as a binocular to a blind man, and that I ought to have told you when you started out for yourself as a young ranchero, but could not bring myself to it so long as you seemed to have no inclination that way. Times, men, and customs have greatly changed in the last forty or fifty years, my boy, and greatly for the better. Looking back over my boyhood, I can recall no day when wine was not served on your grandfather's table. The brightest minds and bravest men in all Kentucky pledged each other day and night in the cup that sometimes cheers and ofttimes inebriates, and no public occasion was complete without champagne and whiskey in abundance, no personal or private transaction considered auspicious unless appropriately 'wet.'

"Those were days when our statesmen revelled in sentiment and song, and drank and gambled with the fervor of the followers of the races. I was a boy of tender years then, and often, with my playmates, I was called from our merry games to join the gentlemen over their wine and drain a bumper to our glorious 'Harry of the West,' and before I went to the Point, Sandy, I knew the best, and possibly the worst, whiskeys made in Kentucky,—we all did,—and the man or youth who could not stand his glass of liquor was looked upon as a milksop or pitied, and yet, after all, respected, as a 'singed cat,'—a fellow who owned that John Barleycorn was too much for him, and he did not dare a single round with him.

"Then came the great war, and wars are always in one way demoralizing. West Point in the early sixties was utterly unlike the West Point of to-day, and no worse than a dozen of our greatest colleges. The corps still had its tales and traditions of the old time Fourth-of-July dinners at the mess hall, when everybody made a dash for the decanters and drank everything in sight. It was the only day in the year on which wine was served. It was in my time the invariable custom for the superintendent to receive the Board of Visitors on the day of their arrival at his quarters and to invite the officers and the graduating class to meet them, and to set forth, as for years had been the fashion at Washington, wine and punch in abundance, and the very officers detailed as our instructors would laughingly invite and challenge the youngsters so soon to shed the gray and wear the blue to drink with them again and again. I have seen dozens of the best and bravest of our fellows come reeling and shouting back to barracks, and a thoughtless set of boys laughing and applauding.

"I was stationed at the Point soon after graduation, and the men who drank were the rule, not the exception. Social visits were rarely exchanged without the introduction of the decanter. The marvel is that so many were 'temperate in our meat and drink,' as my father and grandfather used to plead when, regularly every morning, the family and the negro servants were mustered for prayers. At every post where I was stationed, either in the East or where I was most at home,—the far frontier,—whiskey was the established custom, and man after man, fellows who had made fine records during the war, and bright boys with whom I had worn the gray at the Point, fell by the wayside and were court-martialled out of service.

"In '70 and '71 we had a Board that swept the army like a seine and relegated scores of tipplers to civil life, but that didn't stop it. Little by little the sense and manhood of our people began to tell. Little by little the feeling against stimulant began to develop at the Point. It was no longer a joke to set a fledgling officer to taste the tempter—it was a crime. Four years after I was commissioned we had only one total abstainer out of some fifty officers at the mess, and he was a man whose life and honor depended on it. Three years ago, when I went to see you, there were dozens at the mess who never drank at all, and only eight who even smoked. Athletics and rifle-practice had much to do with this, I know, but there has gradually developed all over our land, notably in those communities where the custom used to be most honored in the observance, a total revulsion of sentiment.

"Quarter of a century ago, even among many gently nurtured women, the sight of a man overcome by liquor excited only sorrow and sympathy; now it commands nothing less than abhorrence. I and my surviving contemporaries started in life under the old system. You, my dear boy, are more fortunate in having begun with the new. Among the old soldiers there are still some few votaries of Bacchus who have to count their cups most carefully or risk their commissions. Among those under forty our army has far more total abstainers than all the others in the world, and such soldiers as Grant, Crook, Merritt, and Upton, of our service, and Kitchener of Khartoum, are on record as saying that the staying powers of the teetotaller exceed those even of the temperate man, and staying power is a thing to cultivate.

"As you know, I have never banished wine from our table, my boy. Both your mother and I had been accustomed to seeing it in daily use from childhood, yet she rarely touches it, even at our dinners. But, Sanford, I sent John Barleycorn to the right about the day your blessed mother promised to be my wife, and though I always keep it in the sideboard for old comrades whose heads and stomachs are still sound, and who find it agrees with them better than wine, I never offer it to the youngsters. They don't need it, Sandy, and no more do you.

"But you come of a race that lived as did their fellow-men,—to whom cards, the bottle, and betting were everyday affairs. It would be remarkable if you never developed a tendency towards one or all of them, and it was my duty to warn you before. I mourn every hour I wasted over cards and every dollar I ever won from a comrade more than—much more than—the many hundred dollars I lost in my several years' apprenticeship to poker. It's just about the poorest investment of time a soldier can devise.

"Knowing all I do, and looking back over the path of my life, strewn as it is with the wrecks of fellow-men ruined by whiskey, I declare if I could live it over again it would be with the determination never to touch a card for money or a glass for liquor.

"And now, my own boy, let me bear the blame of this—your first transgression. You are more to us than we have ever told you. You are now your sister's guardian and knight, for, though she goes under the wing of Mrs. Dr. Wells, and, owing to her intense desire to take a woman's part we could not deny her, both your mother and I are filled with anxiety as to the result. To you we look to be her shield in every possible way. We have never ceased to thank God for the pride and joy He has given us in our children. (You yourself would delight in seeing what a tip-top little soldier Will is making.) You have ever been manful, truthful, and, I say it with pride and thankfulness unutterable, square as boy could be. You have our whole faith and trust and love unspeakable. You have the best and fondest mother in the world, my son. And now I have not one more word to urge or advise. Think and decide for yourself. Your manhood, under God, will do the rest.

"In love and confidence,

"Father."

When Marion came tapping timidly at the stateroom door there was for a moment no answer. Sandy's face was buried in his hands as he knelt beside the little white berth. He presently arose, dashed some water over his eyes and brows, then shot back the bolt and took his sister in his arms.



CHAPTER X.

Not until the tenth day out from Honolulu was Mr. Stuyvesant so far recovered as to warrant the surgeons in permitting his being lifted from the hot and narrow berth to a steamer-chair on the starboard side. Even then it was with the caution to everybody that he must not be disturbed. The heat below and in many of the staterooms was overpowering, and officers and soldiers in numbers slept upon the deck, and not a few of the Red Cross nurses spent night after night in the bamboo and wicker reclining-chairs under the canvas awnings.

Except for the tropic temperature, the weather had been fine and the voyage smooth and uneventful. The Sacramento rolled easily, lazily along. The men had morning shower-baths and, a few at a time, salt-water plunges in big canvas tanks set fore and aft on the main deck. On the port or southern side of the promenade deck the officers sported their pajamas both day and night, and were expected to appear in khaki or serge, and consequent discomfort, only at table, on drill or duty, and when visiting the starboard side, which, abaft the captain's room, was by common consent given up to the women.

They were all on hand the morning that the invalid officer was carefully aided from his stateroom to a broad reclining-chair, which was then borne to a shaded nook beneath the stairway leading to the bridge and there securely lashed. The doctor and Mr. Ray remained some minutes with him, and the steward came with a cooling drink. Mrs. Wells, doctor by courtesy and diploma, arose and asked the surgeon if there were really nothing the ladies could do—"Mr. Stuyvesant looks so very pale and weak,"—and the sisterhood strained their ears for the reply, which, as the surgeon regarded the lady's remark as reflecting upon the results of his treatment, might well be expected to be somewhat tart.

"Nothing to-day, Mrs.—er—Dr. Wells," said the army man, half vexed, also, at being detained on way to hospital. "The fever has gone and he will soon recuperate now, provided he can rest and sleep. It is much cooler on deck and—if it's only quiet——"

"Oh, he sha'n't be bothered, if that's what you mean," interposed Dr. Wells with proper spirit. "I'm sure nobody desires to intrude in the least. I asked for my associates from a sense of duty. Most of them are capable of fanning or even reading aloud to a patient without danger of over-exciting him."

"Unquestionably, madam," responded the surgeon affably, "and when such ministrations are needed I'll let you know. Good-morning." And, lifting his stiff helmet, the doctor darted down the companion-way.

"Brute!" said the lady doctor. "No wonder that poor boy doesn't get well. Miss Ray, I marvel that your brother can stand him."

Miss Ray glanced quietly up from her book and smiled. "We have known Dr. Sturgis many years," she said. "He is brusque, yet very much thought of in the army."

But at this stage of the colloquy there came interruption most merciful—for the surgeon. The deep whistle of the steamer sounded three quick blasts. There was instant rush and scurry on the lower deck. The cavalry trumpets fore and aft rang out the assembly.

It was the signal for boat-drill, and while the men of certain companies sprang to ranks and stood in silence at attention awaiting orders, other detachments rushed to their stations at the life-rafts, and others still swarmed up the stairways or clambered over the rails, and in less than a minute every man was at his post. Quickly the staff officers made the rounds, received the reports of the detachment commanders and the boat crews, and returning, with soldierly salute, gave the results to the commanding officer, who had taken position with the captain on the bridge.

For five or ten minutes the upper deck was dotted by squads of blue-shirted soldiers, grouped in disciplined silence about the boats. Then the recall was sounded, and slowly and quietly the commands dispersed and went below.

It so happened that in returning to the forecastle about a dozen troopers passed close to where Stuyvesant lay, a languid spectator, and at sight of his pale, thin face two of them stopped, raised their hands in salute, looked first eager and pleased, and then embarrassed. Their faces were familiar, and suddenly Stuyvesant remembered. Beckoning them to come nearer, he feebly spoke:

"You were in the car-fire. I thought I knew your faces."

"Yes, sir," was the instant reply of the first. "We're sorry to see the lieutenant so badly hurt—and by that blackguard Murray too, they say. If the boys ever get hold of him, sir, he'll never have time for his prayers."

"No, nor another chance to bite," grinned the second, whom Stuyvesant now recognized as the lance corporal of artillery. "He's left his mark on both of us, sir," and, so saying, the soldier held out his hand.

In the soft and fleshy part of the palm at the base of the thumb were the scars of several wounds. It did not need an expert eye to tell that they were human-tooth marks. There were the even traces of the middle incisors, the deep gash made by the fang-like dog tooth, and between the mark of the right upper canine and those of three incisors a smooth, unscarred space. There, then, must have been a vacancy in the upper jaw, a tooth broken off or gone entirely, and Stuyvesant remembered that as Murray spoke the eye-tooth was the more prominent because of the ugly gap beside it.

"He had changed the cut of his jib considerably," faintly whispered Stuyvesant, after he had extended a kind but nerveless hand to each, "but that mark would betray him anywhere under any disguise. Was Foster ever found?"

"No, sir. They sent me back to Sacramento, but nobody could remember having seen anybody like him. I'm afraid he was drowned there at Carquinez. My battery went over with the third expedition while I was up there. That's how I happen to be with the cavalry on this trip." Then up went both hands to the caps again and both soldiers sprang to attention.

Stuyvesant, looking languidly around, saw that Mr. Ray had returned, saw, moreover, that his sister was leaning on his arm, her eyes fixed on the speaker's weather-beaten face. Again it all flashed upon him—the story of Foster's infatuation for this lovely girl, his enlistment, and then his strange and unaccountable disappearance.

"I'm sorry, men," interposed Mr. Ray in pleasant tone, "but the surgeon has ordered us not to talk with Lieutenant Stuyvesant, and I shall have to repeat his order to you. You were in the car that was burned, I suppose?"

"Yes, sir. Beg pardon—we didn't know about the doctor's orders. We're mighty glad to see the lieutenant again. Come 'long, Mellen."

"Wait," whispered Stuyvesant. "Come and see me again. I want to talk with you, and—thank you for stopping to-day."

The soldiers departed happy, and Stuyvesant turned wistfully to greet Miss Ray. She was already beyond reach of his voice, leaning on Sandy's arm and gazing steadfastly into his face. He saw Mrs. Dr. Wells coming swiftly towards him with inquiry in her eyes, and impulsively, peevishly, and in disappointment he turned again his face to the wall, as it were. At least that was not the Red Cross nurse he longed for, good and sympathetic and wise in her way as she undoubtedly was.

He wished now with all his heart that they had placed his chair so that he could look back along the promenade deck instead of forward over the forecastle at the sparkling sea. He felt that, pacing up and down together, the brother and sister must come within ten feet of his chair before they turned back, and he longed to look at her, yet could not. Sturgis had said he would return in a few minutes, and he hadn't come. Stuyvesant felt aggrieved. It would be high noon before many minutes. Already the ship officers were on the bridge ready to "take the sun," and mess-call for the men was sounding on the lower decks. He would give a fortune, thought he, to feel once more that cool, soft, slender little hand on his forehead. There were other hands, some that were certainly whiter than Miss Ray's, and probably quite as soft and cool, hands that before the report of his slur upon the Red Cross would gladly have ministered to him, but he shrank from thought of any touch but one. He would have given another fortune, if he had it, could Marion Ray but come and sit by him and talk in her cordial, pleasant tones. There were better talkers, wittier, brighter women within hail—women who kept their hearers laughing much of the time, which Miss Ray did not, yet he shrank from the possibility of one of their number accosting him.

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