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Ray's Daughter - A Story of Manila
by Charles King
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Twice he was conscious that Dr. Wells and Miss Porter had tip-toed close and were peering interestedly at him, but he shut his eyes and would not see or hear. He did not "want to be bothered," it was only too evident, and as the ship's bell chimed the hour of noon and the watch changed, his would-be visitors slipped silently away and he was alone.

When the doctor came cautiously towards him a few minutes later, Stuyvesant was to all appearances sleeping, and the "medico" rejoiced in the success of his scheme. When, not five minutes after the doctor peeped at him, the voice of the captain was heard booming from the bridge just over the patient's pillowed head, it developed that the patient was wide awake. Perhaps what the captain said would account for this.

A dozen times on the voyage that mariner had singled out Miss Ray for some piece of attention. Now, despite the fact that almost the entire Red Cross party were seated or strolling or reclining there under the canvas awning and he must have known it, although they were hidden from his view, he again made that young lady the object of his homage. She was at the moment leaning over the rail, with Sandy by her side, gazing at the dark blue, beautiful waters that, flashing and foam-crested, went sweeping beneath her. The monarch of the ship, standing at the outer end of the bridge, had caught sight of her and gave tongue at once. A good seaman was the captain and a stalwart man, but he knew nothing of tact or discretion.

"Oh, Miss Ray," he bawled, "come up on the bridge and I'll show you the chart. Bring the lieutenant."

For an instant she hesitated, reluctant. Not even the staff of the commanding officer had set foot on that sacred perch since the voyage began, only when especially bidden or at boat or fire drill did that magnate himself presume to ascend those stairs. As for her sister nurses, though they had explored the lower regions and were well acquainted with the interior arrangement of the Sacramento, and were consumed with curiosity and desire to see what was aloft on the hurricane-deck, the stern prohibition still staring at them in bold, brazen letters, "Passengers are Forbidden upon the Bridge," had served to restrain the impulse to climb.

And now here was Captain Butt singling out Miss Ray again and ignoring the rest of them. If she could have found any reasonable excuse for refusing Maidie Ray would have declined. But Sandy's eyes said "Come." Butt renewed his invitation. She turned and looked appealingly at Mrs. Wells, as though to say "What shall I do?" but that matron was apparently engrossed in a volume of Stevenson, and would not be drawn into the matter, and finally Marion caught Miss Porter's eye. There, at least, was a gleam of encouragement and sympathy. Impulsive and capricious as that young woman could be on occasions, the girl had learned to appreciate the genuine qualities of her room-mate, and of late had been taking sides for Marion against the jealousies of her fellows.

"Why don't you go?" she murmured, with a nod of her head towards the stairs, and with slightly heightened color, Miss Ray smiled acceptance at the captain, and, following Sandy's lead through the labyrinth of steamer-chairs about them, tripped briskly away over the open deck, and there, at the very foot of the steep, ladder-like ascent, became aware of Mr. Stuyvesant leaning on an elbow and gazing at her with all his big blue eyes.

She had to stop and go around under the stairs and take his thin, outstretched hand. She had to stop a moment to speak to him, though what he said, or she said, neither knew a moment after. All she was conscious of as she turned away was that now at least every eye in all the sisterhood was on her, and, redder than ever, she fairly flew up the steep steps, and was welcomed by the chivalric Butt upon the bridge.

That afternoon several of the Band were what Miss Porter was constrained to call "nastily snippy" in their manner to her, and, feeling wronged and misjudged, it was not to be wondered at that her father's daughter should resent it. And yet so far from exulting in having thus been distinguished and recognized above her fellows, Miss Ray had felt deeply embarrassed, and almost the first words she said after receiving the bluff seaman's effusive greeting were in plea for her associates.

"Oh, Captain Butt, it's most kind of you to ask me up here—and my brother, too, will be so interested in the chart-room, but, can't you—won't you ask Dr. Wells and at least some of the ladies? You know they all would be glad to come, and——"

"That's all right, Miss Ray," bawled old Butt, breaking in on her hurried words. "I'll ask 'em up here some other time. You see we're rolling a bit to-day, and like as not some of 'em would pitch over things, and—and—well, there ain't room for more'n three at a time anyhow."

"Then you ought to have asked Dr. Wells first and some of the seniors."—She hesitated about saying elders.—No one of the Band would have welcomed an invitation tendered on account of her advanced years.

"It'll be just as bad if I go and ask her now," said Butt testily. "The others will take offence, and life's too short for a shipmaster to be explaining to a lot of women why they can't all come at once on the bridge. I'll have 'em up to-morrow—any three you say."

But when the morrow came he didn't "have 'em up." Maidie had pleaded loyally for her associates, but was too proud or sensitive to so inform them. The captain had said he would do that, and meanwhile she tried not to feel exasperated at the injured airs assumed by several of the Band and the cutting remarks of one or two of their number.

That afternoon, however, the skies became overcast and the wind rose. That night the sea dashed high towards the rail and the Sacramento wallowed deep in the surges. Next morning the wind had freshened to a gale. All air-ports were closed. The spray swept the promenade deck along the starboard side and the Red Cross and two-thirds of the martial passenger-list forgot all minor ills and annoyances in the miseries of mal de mer. Three days and nights were most of the women folk cooped in their cabins, but Miss Ray was an old sailor and had twice seen far heavier weather on the Atlantic. Sheltered from the rain by the bridge-deck and from the spray and gale by heavy canvas lashed athwartship in front of the captain's room, and securely strapped in her reclining-chair, this young lady fairly rejoiced in the magnificent battle with the elements and gloried in the bursting seas. Sandy, too, albeit a trifle upset, was able to be on deck, and one of the "subs" from the port-side hearing of it, donned his outer garments and cavalry boots and joined forces with them, and Stuyvesant, hearing their merry voices, declared that he could not breathe in his stuffy cabin and demanded to be dressed and borne out on deck too. At first the surgeon said no, whereupon his patient began to get worse.

So on the second day the doctor yielded, and all that day and the third of the storm, by which time the starboard deck was slowly becoming peopled with a few spectral and barely animate feminine shapes, Stuyvesant reclined within arm's length of the dark-eyed girl who had so entranced him, studying her beauty, drinking in her words, and gaining such health and strength in the life-giving air and such bliss from the association that Sturgis contemplated with new complacency the happy result of his treatment, for when the gale subsided, and on the fourth day they ran once more into smooth and lazy waters, it was Stuyvesant's consuming desire to take up his bed and walk, except when Miss Ray was there to talk or read to him.

And this was the state of affairs when the Sacramento hove in sight of the bold headlands, green and beautiful, that front the sea at the northeast corner of mountainous Luzon. Once within soundings and close to a treacherous shore, with only Spanish authority to rely on as to rocks, reefs, and shoals, no wonder old Butt could have no women on the bridge, this, too, at the very time they most wished to be there, since everything worth seeing lay on the port or southern side, and that given up to those horrid officers and their pajamas.

Not until his anchor dropped in Manila Bay did the master of the Sacramento think to redeem his promise to bid the ladies of the Red Cross to the sacred bridge, and incidentally to tell them how Miss Ray had urged it in their behalf while they were out on blue waters, but now it was too late.



CHAPTER XI.

It was late in the afternoon when the Sacramento, slowly feeling her way southward, had come within view of El Fraile and Corregidor, looming up like sentinels at the entrance to the great, far-spreading bay.

Butt and his assistants, with the field officer in command of the troops, peered through their binoculars or telescopes for sign of cruiser or transport along the rocky shores, and marvelled much that none could be seen. Over against the evening sun just sinking to the west the dim outlines of the upper masts and spars of some big vessel became visible for three minutes, then faded from view. The passengers swarmed on deck, silent, anxious, ever and anon gazing upward at the bridge as though in hope of a look or word of encouragement.

It was midsummer and more when they left Honolulu, and by this time the American force, land and naval, in front of Manila ought to be ample to overcome the Spaniards. But there was ever that vexing problem as to what Aguinaldo and his followers might do rather than see the great city given over to the Americans for law and order instead of to themselves for loot and rapine. The fact that all coast lights thus far were extinguished was enough to convince the Sacramento's voyagers that they were still unwelcome to the natives, but both the shipmaster and the cavalry officer commanding had counted on finding cruiser, or despatch boat at least, on lookout for them and ready to conduct them to safe anchorage. But no such ship appeared, and the alternative of going about and steaming out to sea for the night or dropping anchor where he lay was just presenting itself to Butt when from the lips of the second officer, who had clambered up the shrouds, there came the joyous shout: "By Jove! There's Corregidor light!"

Surely enough, even before the brief tropic twilight was over and darkness had settled down, away to the southward, at regular ten-second intervals, from the crest of the rock-bound, crumbling parapet on Corregidor Island, a brilliant light split the cloudy vista and flashed a welcome to the lone wanderer on the face of the waters. It could mean only one thing: Manila Bay was dominated by Dewey's guns. The Yankee was master of Corregidor, and had possessed himself of both fort and light-house. In all probability Manila itself had fallen.

"Half speed ahead!" was the order, and again the throb of the engines went pulsing through the ship, and the Sacramento slowly forged ahead over a smooth summer sea. At midnight the pilot and glad tidings were aboard, and at dawn the decks were thronged with eager voyagers, and a great, full-throated cheer went up from the forecastle head as the gray, ghost-like shapes of the war-ships loomed up out of the mist and dotted the unruffled surface.

But that cheer sank to nothingness beside one which followed fifteen minutes later, when the red disk of the sun came peeping over the low, fog-draped range far to the eastward and, saluted by the boom of the morning gun from the battlements of the old city, there sailed to the peak of the lofty flag-staff the brilliant colors and graceful folds of the stars and stripes.

The three-century rule of Castile and Aragon was ended. The yellow and red of Spain was supplanted by the scarlet, white, and blue of America, and in a new glory of its own "Old Glory" unfolded to the faintly rising breeze, and all along the curving shore and over the placid waters rang out the joyous, life-giving, heart-stirring notes of the Yankee reveille.

For long hours later there came launches, bancas, and cascoes from fleet and shore. The debarkation of the cavalry began in the afternoon. They had left their horses at the Presidio, six thousand miles away, and were troopers only in name. The officers who came as passengers got ashore in the course of the day and made their way to the Ayuntamiento to report their arrival and receive their assignments.

The Red Cross nurses looked in vain for the hospital launch that, it was supposed, would hasten to convey them to comfortable quarters adjoining the sick-wards or convalescent camps. They listened with the deepest interest to the description of the assault of the 13th of August that made Merritt master of Manila, and the elders, masculine and feminine, who knew something of what battle meant when American was pitted against American, looked at each other in wonderment as they heard how much had been won at cost of so little.

Sandy Ray, kissing Marion good-by and promising to see Stuyvesant in the near future, went over the side with his troop and, landing at the stone dock at the foot of the Paseo de Santa Lucia, found himself trudging along at the head of his men under massive walls nearly three centuries old, bristling with antiquated, highly ornamented Spanish guns, and streaked with slime and vegetation, while along the high parapets across the moat thousands of Spanish soldiers squatted and stared at them in sullen apathy.

Maidie's knight and champion indeed! His duty called him with his fellows to a far-away suburb up the Pasig River. Her duty held her to await the movements of the sisterhood, and what she might lack for sympathy among them was made up in manifest yet embarrassing interest on part of the tall young aide-de-camp, for Stuyvesant was bidden to remain aboard ship until suitable accommodation could be found for him ashore.

Under any other circumstances he would have objected vehemently, but, finding that the Red Cross contingent was to share his fate, and that Miss Ray was one of the dozen condemned to remain, he bore his enforced lot with Christian and soldierly resignation.

"Only," said Dr. Wells, "one would suppose that the Red Cross was entitled to some consideration, and that all preparation would have been made for our coming." It was neither flattering nor reassuring, nor, indeed, was it kind, that they should be so slighted, said the sisterhood that evening; but worse still was in store, for on the morrow, early, the Esmeralda came steaming in from Hong Kong, where, despite her roundabout voyage, the Belgic had arrived before the slow-moving Sacramento had rounded the northern point of Luzon, and, on the deck of the Esmeralda as she steered close alongside the transport, and thence on the unimpeded way to her moorings up the Pasig, in plain view of the sisterhood, tall, gaunt, austere, but triumphant, towered the form of the vice-president of the Patriotic Daughters of America.

For two days more the Sacramento remained at anchor in the bay over a mile from the mouth of the river, and for two days and nights the Red Cross remained aboard, unsought, unsummoned from the shore. The situation became more strained than ever, the only betterment arising from the fact that now there was more space and the nurses were no longer crowded three in a room. Mrs. Dr. Wells moved into that recently vacated by the cavalry commander, and Miss Ray and her now earnest friend, Miss Porter, were relieved by the desertion of their eldest sister, who pre-empted a major's stateroom on the upper deck.

Butt stirred up a new trouble by promptly coming to Miss Ray and bidding her move out of that stuffy hole below and take Major Horton's quarters, and bring Miss Porter with her "if that was agreeable."

It would have been, very, but "Miss Ray's head was level," as the purser put it, and despite the snippy and exasperating conduct of most of the sisterhood, that wise young woman pointed out to the shipmaster that theirs was a semi-military organization, and that the senior, Mrs. Dr. Wells, and one or two veteran nurses should have choice of quarters.

By this time Miss Porter's vehement championship of her charming and much misjudged friend had excited no little rancor against herself. The more she proved that they had done Miss Ray injustice, the less they liked Miss Ray's advocate. It is odd but true that many a woman finds it far easier to forgive another for being as wicked as she has declared her to be than for proving herself entirely innocent.

One thing, anyhow, Miss Porter couldn't deny, said the sisterhood,—she was accepting devoted attentions from Mr. Stuyvesant, and in her capacity as a Red Cross nurse that was inexcusable.

"Fudge!" said Miss Porter. "If it were you instead of Miss Ray he was in love with, how long would you let your badge keep him at a distance?"

The sun went down on their unappeased wrath that second night in Manila Bay, and with the morrow came added cause for disapprobation. Before the noon hour a snow-white launch with colors flying fore and aft steamed alongside, and up the stairs, resplendent, came Stuyvesant's general with a brace of staff officers, all three precipitating themselves on the invalid and, after brief converse with him, all three sending their cards to Miss Ray, who had taken refuge on the other deck.

And even while she sat reflecting what would be the wiser course, the general himself followed the card-bearer, and that distinguished warrior, with all the honors of his victorious entry fresh upon him, inclined his handsome head and begged that he might present himself to the daughter of an old and cherished friend of cadet days, and seated himself by her side with hardly a glance at the array of surrounding femininity and launched into reminiscence of "Billy Ray" as he was always called, ana it was some little time before she could say,—

"Will you let me present you to Dr. Wells, who is practically my commanding officer?" a request the general was too much of a gentleman not to accede to at once, yet looked not too much pleased when he was led before that commanding dame, and then distinctly displeased as, taking advantage of her opportunity, the indignant lady burst forth with her grievance:

"Oh! This is General Vinton! Well, I must say that I think you generals have treated the ladies of the Red Cross with precious little courtesy. Here we've been waiting thirty-six hours, and not a soul has come near us or shown us where to go or told us what to do, while everybody else aboard is looked after at once."

"It is a matter entirely out of my jurisdiction, madame," answered the general with grave and distant dignity. "In fact, I knew nothing of the arrival of any such party until, at the commanding general's this morning, your vice-president—is it?—was endeavoring to——"

"Our vice-president, sir," interposed the lady promptly, "is in San Francisco, attending to her proper functions. The person you saw is not recognized by the Red Cross at all, nor by any one in authority that I know of."

General Vinton reddened. A soldier, accustomed to the "courtesies indispensable among military men," ill brooks it that a stranger and a woman should take him to task for matters beyond his knowledge or control.

"You will pardon me if in my ignorance of the matter I fancied the lady in question to be a representative of your order, and for suggesting that the chief surgeon is the official to whom you should address your complaint—and rebukes. Good-morning, madame. Miss Ray," he continued, as he quickly turned and led that young lady away, "two of my staff desire to be presented. May I have the pleasure?"

There was no mistaking the general's disapprobation of the official head of the sisterhood as represented on the Sacramento. Though he and his officers remained aboard an hour, not once again would he look towards Dr. Wells or seem to see any of the party but Miss Ray,—this, too, despite the fact that she tried to explain matters and pour oil on such troubled waters.

Captain Butt sent up champagne to the distinguished party, and Miss Ray begged to be excused and slipped away to her stateroom, only to be instantly recalled by other cards—Colonel and Mrs. Brent, other old friends of her father and mother. She remembered them well, and remembered having heard how Mrs. Brent had braved all opposition and had started for Hong Kong the day after the colonel steamed for Manila; and their coming with most hospitable intent only added to the poor girl's perplexities, for they showered welcomes upon her and bade her get her luggage up at once. They had come to take her to their own roof. They had secured such a quaint, roomy house in Ermita right near the bay shore, and looking right out on the Luneta and the parade grounds.

They stormed at her plea that she must not leave her companions. They bade her send for Miss Porter, and included her in their warm-hearted invitation; but by the time Maidie was able to get a word in edgewise on her own account, and begged them to come and meet Mrs. Dr. Wells and the Red Cross sisterhood, they demurred.

The general, in Marion's brief absence, had expressed his opinion of that official head, and the Brents had evidently accepted his views. Then Vinton and his officers loudly begged Mrs. Brent to play chaperon and persuade Miss Ray and Miss Porter to accompany them in their fine white launch on a visit to the admiral on the flag-ship, and said nothing about others of the order.

The idea of seeing Dewey on his own deck and being shown all over the Olympia! Why, it was glorious! But Miss Ray faltered her refusal, even against Miss Porter's imploring eyes. Then Stuyvesant declared he didn't feel up to it.

The general went off to the fleet and the Brents back to shore without the girls. But in the course of the afternoon four more officers came to tender their services to "Billy Ray's daughter," and none, not even a hospital steward, came to do aught for the Red Cross, and by sundown Maidie Ray had every assurance that the most popular girl at that moment in Manila army circles was the least popular aboard the Sacramento, and Kate Porter cried herself to sleep after an out-and-out squabble with two of the Band, and the emphatic assertion that if she were Marion Ray she would cut them all dead and go live with her friends ashore.

But when the morrow came was it to be wondered at that Miss Ray had developed a high fever? Was it not characteristic that before noon, from the official head down, from Dr. Wells to Dottie Fellows, the most diminutive of the party, there lived not a woman of their number who was not eager in tender of services and in desire to be at the sufferer's bedside? Was it not manlike that Stuyvesant, who had shunned the sisterhood for days, now sought the very women he had scorned, and begged for tidings of the girl he loved?



CHAPTER XII.

October had come and the rainy season was going, but still the heat of the mid-day sun drove everybody within doors except the irrepressible Yankee soldiery, released "on pass" from routine duty at inner barracks or outer picket line, and wandering about this strange, old-world metropolis of the Philippines, reckless of time or temperature in their determination to see everything there was to be seen about the whilom stronghold of "the Dons" in Asiatic waters.

Along the narrow sidewalks of the Escolta, already bordered by American signs—and saloons,—and rendered even more than usually precarious by American drinks, the blue-shirted boys wandered, open-eyed, marvelling much to find 'twixt twelve and two the shutters up in all the shops not conducted, as were the bars, on the American plan, while from some, still more Oriental, the sun and the shopper both were excluded four full hours, beginning at eleven.

All over the massive, antiquated fortifications of Old Manila into the tortuous mazes of the northern districts, through the crowded Chinese quarter, foul and ill savored, the teeming suburbs of the native Tagals, humble yet cleanly; along the broad, shaded avenues, bordered by stately old Spanish mansions, many of them still occupied by their Castilian owners, the Yankee invaders wandered at will, brimful of curiosity and good nature, eager to gather in acquaintance, information, and bric-a-brac, making themselves perfectly at home, filling the souls of the late lords of the soil with disdain, and those of the natives with wonderment through their lavish, jovial, free and easy ways. Within a month from the time Merritt's little division had marched into the city, Manila was as well known to most of those far-Western volunteers as the streets of their own home villages, and, when once the paymaster had distributed his funds among them and, at the rate of ten cents off on every dollar, they had swapped their sound American coin for "soft" Mexican or Spanish pesos, the prodigality with which they scattered their wealth among their dusky friends and admirers evoked the blessings of the church (which was not slow to levy on the beneficiaries), the curses of the sons of Spain, who had generally robbed and never given, and, at first, the almost superstitious awe of the Tagals, who, having never heard of such a thing before, dreaded some deep-laid scheme for their despoilment. But this species of dread lived but a few short weeks, and, before next payday, was as far gone as the money of the Americanos.

Those were blithe days in Manila as the autumn came on and the insurrection was still in the far future. There were fine bands among the Yankee regiments that played afternoon and evening in the kiosk on the Luneta, and every household possessed of an open carriage, or the means of hiring one, appeared regularly each day as the sun sank to the westward sea, and after making swift yet solemn circuit of the Anda monument at the Pasig end of the Paseo de Santa Lucia, returned to the Luneta proper, and wedged in among the closely packed vehicles that covered the broad, smooth driveways on both sides of the esplanade and for some hundred yards each way north and south of the band-stand. Along the shaded and gravelled walks that bordered the Paseo, within short pistol-shot of the grim bastions beyond the green glacis and even greener moat, many dark-haired, dark-eyed daughters of Spain, leaving their carriages and, guarded by faithful duenna, strolled slowly up and down, exchanging furtive signal of hand or kerchief with some gallant among the throngs of captive soldiery that swarmed towards sunset on the parapet. Swarthy, black-browed Spanish officers in cool summer uniform and in parties of three or four lined the roadway, or wandered up and down in search of some distraction to the deadly ennui of their lives now that their soldier occupation was gone, vouchsafing neither glance nor salutation to their Yankee conquerors, no matter what the rank, until the wives and daughters of American officers began to arrive and appear upon the scene, when the disdain of both sexes speedily gave way to obvious, if reluctant, curiosity.

South of the walls and outworks of Old Manila and east of the Luneta lay a broad, open level, bounded on the south by the suburb of Ermita, and in the midst of the long row of Spanish-built houses extending from the battery of huge Krupps at the bay-side, almost over to the diagonal avenue of the Nozaleda, stood the very cosey, finely furnished house which had been hired as quarters for Colonel Brent, high dignitary on the department staff.

Its lower story of cut stone was pierced by the arched drive-way through which carriages entered to the patio or inner court, and, as in the tenets of Madrid the Queen of Spain is possessed of no personal means of locomotion, so possibly to no Spanish dame of high degree may be attributed the desire, even though she have the power, to walk.

No other portal, therefore, either for entrance or exit, could be found at the front. Massive doors of dark, heavy wood from the Luzon forests, strapped with iron, swung on huge hinges that, unless well oiled, defied the efforts of unmuscular mankind. A narrow panel opening in one of these doors, two feet above the ground and on little hinges of its own, gave means of passage to household servants and, when pressed for time, to such of their superiors as would condescend to step high and stoop low.

To the right and left of the main entrance were store-rooms, servants' rooms, and carriage-room, and opposite the latter, towards the rear, the broad stairway that, turning upon itself, led to the living-rooms on the upper floor—the broad salon at the head of the stairs being utilized as a dining-room on state occasions, and its northward end as the parlor. Opening from the sides of the salon, front and rear, were four large, roomy, high-ceilinged chambers.

Overlooking and partially overhanging the street and extending the length of the house was a wide enclosed veranda, well supplied with tables, lounging-chairs, and couches of bamboo and wicker, its floor covered here and there with Indian rugs, its surrounding waist-high railing fitted with parallel grooves in which slid easily the frames of the windows of translucent shells, set in little four-inch squares, or the dark-green blinds that excluded the light and glare of mid-day.

With both thrown back there spread an unobstructed view of the parade-ground even to the edge of the distant glacis, and here it was the household sat to watch the military ceremonies, to receive their guests, and to read or doze throughout the drowsier hours of the day. "Campo de Bagumbayan" was what the natives called that martial flat in the strange barbaric tongue that delights in "igs" and "ags," in "ings" and "angs," even to repetition and repletion.

And here one soft, sensuous October afternoon, with a light breeze from the bay tempering the heat of the slanting sunshine, reclining in a broad bamboo easy-chair sat Maidie Ray, now quite convalescent, yet not yet restored to her old-time vigorous health.

Her hostess, the colonel's amiable wife, was busy on the back gallery leading to the kitchen, deep in counsel with her Filipino major-domo and her Chinese cook, servitors who had been well trained and really needed no instruction, and for that matter got but little, for Mrs. Brent's knowledge of the Spanish tongue was even less than her command of "Pidgin" English. Nevertheless, neither Ignacio nor Sing Suey would fail to nod in the one case or smile broadly in the other in assent to her every proposition,—it being one of the articles of their domestic faith that peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety, could best be promoted throughout the establishment by never seeming to differ with the lady of the house. To all outward appearances, therefore, and for the first few weeks, at least, housekeeping in the Philippines seemed something almost idyllic, and Mrs. Brent was in ecstasies over the remarkable virtues of Spanish-trained servants.

There had been anxious days during Maidie's illness. The Sacramento had been ordered away, and the little patient had to be brought ashore. But the chief quartermaster sent his especial steam-launch for "Billy Ray's daughter," the chief surgeon, the best ambulance and team to meet her at the landing; a squad of Sandy's troopers bore her reclining-chair over the side into the launch, out of the launch to the waiting ambulance, and out of the ambulance upstairs into the airy room set apart for her, and, with Mrs. Brent and Miss Porter, Sandy and the most devoted of army doctors to bear her company and keep the fans going, Maidie's progress had been rather in the nature of a triumph.

So at least it had seemed to the austere vice-president of the Patriotic Daughters of America, who, as it happened, looked on in severe disapproval. She had asked for that very ambulance that very day to enable her to make the rounds of regimental hospitals in the outlying suburbs, and had been politely but positively refused.

By that time, it seems, this most energetic woman had succeeded in alienating all others in authority at corps head-quarters, to the end that the commanding general declined to grant her further audience, the surgeon-general had given orders that she be not admitted to his inner office, the deputy surgeon-general had asked for a sentry to keep her off his premises, the sentries at the First and Second Reserve Hospital had instructions to tell her, also politely but positively, that she could not be admitted except in visiting hours, when the surgeon, a steward, or—and here was "the most unkindest cut of all"—some of the triumphant Red Cross could receive and attend to her, for at last the symbol of Geneva had gained full recognition. At last Dr. Wells and the sisterhood were on duty, comfortably housed, cordially welcomed, and presumably happy.

But Miss Perkins was not. She had come to Manila full of high purpose as the self-styled, accredited representative of any quantity of good Americans, actuated by motives, no doubt, of purest patriotism. The nation was full of it,—of men who wanted to be officers, of women who wanted to be officials, many of whom succeeded only in becoming officious. There were not staff or line positions enough to provide for a hundredth part of the men, or societies and "orders" sufficient to cater to the ambitions of a tenth part of the women. The great Red Cross gave abundant employment for thousands of gentle and willing hands, but limited the number of directing heads, and Miss Perkins and others of the Jellaby stamp were born, as they thought, not to follow but to lead. Balked in their ambitious designs to become prominent in that noble national association, women possessed of the unlimited assurance of Miss Perkins started what might be termed an anti-crusade, with the result that in scores of quiet country towns, as well as in the cities of the East and Middle West, many subscriptions were easily gained, and hundreds of honest, earnest women were rewarded with paper scrolls setting forth that they were named as Sisters of the American Soldier, Patriotic Daughters of America, or Ministering Angels of the Camp and Cot. Shades of Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton! the very voice of such self-appointed angels as Miss Perkins was enough to set the nerves of strong men on edge and to drive fever patients to madness! Even the Red Cross could not always be sure of its selection. It did prevent the sending to Manila of certain undesirable applicants, but it could not prevent the going of Miss Perkins at the expense of the deluded, on ships that were common carriers, even though she were a common scold. There she was, portentous as the British Female portrayed by Thackeray. Backed by apparently abundant means and obviously indomitable "gall," she counted on carrying all before her by sheer force of her powers of self-assertion and the name of the Patriotic Daughters of America. But the commanding general was the most impassive of men, gifted with a keen though little suspected sense of humor, and no little judgment in estimating motive and character. He actually enjoyed the first call made by Miss Perkins, suggested her coming again on the morrow, and summoned his chief surgeon and his provost marshal, another keen humorist, to be present at the interview. It has been asserted that this triumvirate went so far as to encourage the lady to even wilder flights of assertion. We have her own word for it that then and there she was promised as offices three big rooms in the Palace,—the Ayuntamiento,—six clerks, and a private secretary, but an impartial witness avows that the sole basis for this was a question propounded to the provost marshal by the chief surgeon as to whether the chief quartermaster or the chief engineer should be called on to vacate the rooms assigned to them as officers in order that the P. D. A. might be properly recognized and quartered, to which the response was made with unflinching gravity that something certainly should be vacated "P. D. Q." if it took all his clerical force to effect it, but this was sotto voce, so to speak, and presumably unheard by the general commanding. It was gall of another kind, and wormwood, after these first few flattering receptions, to be greeted thereafter only by aides-de-camp or a military secretary; then to be told by the chief surgeon that, under instructions from Washington, only those nurses and attendants recognized and employed by the general government could be permitted to occupy quarters or walk the wards about the hospitals. It was bitter to find her criticisms and suggestions set at naught by "impudent young quacks," as she called the delighted doctors of the reserve hospitals, to see the sisterhood of the Red Cross presently clothed with the purple of authority as well as white caps and aprons, while she and, through her, the P. D. A.'s were denied the privilege of stirring up the patients and overhauling the storerooms. Then in her wrath Miss Perkins unbosomed herself to the press correspondents, a few of whom, seeking sensation, as demanded by their papers, took her seriously and told tremendous tales of the brutal neglect of our sick and wounded boys in hospital, of doctors and nurses in wild debauch on the choice wines and liquors sent for the sole use of the sick and wounded by such patriotic societies as the P. D. A.'s, and hinting at other and worse debaucheries (which she blushed to name), and involved in which were prominent officers and favorite members of a rival society "which shall be as nameless as it is shameless." All this had Miss Perkins accomplished within the first eight days of her sojourn, and by way of Hong-Kong the unexpurgated edition of her romance, thrown out by the conscienceless censor at head-quarters, eventually found its way to the United States. It was while in this uncharitable frame of mind that Miss Perkins caught sight of the little procession up the Santa Lucia when Maidie was transferred from ship to shore, and the refusal of the best looking of the "impudent young quacks" to permit her to see his patient that afternoon augmented her sense of indignity and wrong. Miss Ray herself went down in the black book of the P. D. A.'s forthwith.

But all this time the officials remained in blissful ignorance of the tremendous nature of the charges laid at their door by this much injured woman, and Maidie Ray, while duly informed of the frequent calls and kind inquiries of many an officer, and permitted of late to welcome Sandy for little talks, had been mercifully spared the infliction of the personal visitation thrice attempted by her fellow-traveller on the train. That awful voice, however, uplifted, as was the habit of the vice-president when aroused, could not fail to reach the sick-room, and when convalescence came and Miss Perkins came not, Maidie made inquiries both of Dr. Frank and of her hostess. Frank showed his handsome teeth and smiled, but Mrs. Brent showed fight. "I won't have such a creature within my doors!" said she. "I don't believe you were ever intimate friends, and that she nursed and cared for you in the cars when you were suffering from shock and fright because of a fire. That's what she says though. What was it, Maidie? Was it there Mr. Stuyvesant got that burn on his face?—and lost his eyebrows?"

And then it transpired that Mr. Stuyvesant had been a frequent and assiduous caller for a whole fortnight, driving thither almost every evening.

But Maidie was oddly silent as to the episode of the fire on the train. She laughed a little about Miss Perkins and her pretensions, but to the disappointment of her hostess could not be drawn into talk about that tall, handsome New Yorker.

And what seemed strange to Mrs. Brent was that now, when Maidie could sit up a few hours each day and see certain among the officers' wives, arriving by almost every steamer from the States, and have happy chats with Sandy every time he could come galloping in from Paco, and was taking delight in watching the parades and reviews on the Bagumbayan, and listening to the evening music of the band, Stuyvesant had ceased to call.

Had Maidie noticed it? Mrs. Brent wondered, as, coming in from her conference with the House of Commons, she stood a moment at the door-way gazing at the girl, whose book had fallen to the floor and whose dark eyes, under their veiling lids were looking far out across the field to the walls and church towers of Old Manila.

It was almost sunset. There was the usual throng of carriages along the Luneta and a great regiment of volunteers, formed in line of platoon columns, was drawn up on the "Campo" directly in front of the house. Sandy had spent his allotted half hour by his sister's side, and, remounting, had cantered out to see the parade. Miss Perkins had declared on the occasion of her third fruitless call that not until Miss Ray sent for her would she again submit herself to be snubbed. So there seemed no immediate danger of her reappearance, and yet Mrs. Brent had given Ignacio orders to open only the panel door when the gate bell clanged, and to refuse admission, even to the drive-way, to a certain importunate caller besides Miss Perkins.

Three days previous there had presented himself a young man in the white dress of the tropics and a hat of fine Manila straw, a young man who would not send up his card, but in very Mexican Spanish asked for Miss Ray. Ignacio sent a boy for Mrs. Brent, who came down to reconnoitre, and the youth reiterated his request.

"An old friend" was all he would say in response to her demand for his name and purpose. She put him off, saying Miss Ray was still too far from well to see anybody, bade him call next day when Dr. Frank and her husband, she knew, would probably be there, duly notified them, and Frank met and received the caller when he came and sent him away in short order.

"The man is a crank," said he, "and I shall have him watched." The colonel asked that one or two of the soldier police guard should be sent to the house to look after the stranger. A corporal came from the company barrack around on the Calle Real, and it was after nightfall when next the "old friend" rang the bell and was permitted by Ignacio to enter.

But the instant the corporal started forward to look at him the caller bounded back into outer darkness. He was tall, sinewy, speedy, and had a twenty-yard start before the little guardsman, stout and burly, could squeeze into the street. Then the latter's shouts up the San Luis only served to startle the sentries, to spur the runner, and to excite and agitate Maidie.

Dr. Frank was disgusted when he tried her pulse and temperature half an hour later and said things to the corporal not strictly authorized by the regulations. The episode was unfortunate, yet might soon have been forgotten but for one hapless circumstance. Despite her announcement, something had overcome Miss Perkins's sense of injury, for she had stepped from a carriage directly in front of the house at the moment of the occurrence, was a witness to all that took place, and the first one to extract from the corporal his version of the affair and his theory as to what lay behind it. In another moment she was driving away towards the Nozaleda, the direction taken by the fugitive, fast as her coachman could whip his ponies, the original purpose of her call abandoned.

As in duty bound, both Mrs. Brent and Dr. Frank had told Sandy of this odd affair. Mrs. Brent described the stranger as tall, slender, sallow, with big cavernous dark eyes that had a wild look to them, and a scraggly, fuzzy beard all over his face, as though he hadn't shaved for long weeks. His hands—of course, she had particularly noticed his hands; what woman doesn't notice such things?—were slim and white. He had the look of a man who had been long in hospital; was probably a recently discharged patient, perhaps one of the many men just now getting their home orders from Washington.

"Somebody who served under your father, perhaps," said Mrs. Brent soothingly to Marion, "and thought he ought to see you."

"Somebody who had not been a soldier at all," said she to Sandy. "He had neither the look nor the manner of one." And Sandy marvelled a bit and decided to be on guard.

"Maidie," he had said that afternoon, before riding away, "when you get out next week we must take up pistol practice again. You beat me at Leavenworth, but you can't do it now. Got your gun—anywhere?—the one Dad gave you?" And Dad or Daddy in the Ray household was the "lovingest" of titles.

Maidie turned a languid head on her pillow. "In the upper drawer of the cabinet in my room, I think," said she. "I remember Mrs. Brent's examining it."

Sandy went in search, and presently returned with the prize, a short, big-barrelled, powerful little weapon of the bull-dog type, sending a bullet like that of a Derringer, hot and hard, warranted to shock and stop an ox at ten yards, but miss a barn at over twenty: a woman's weapon for defence of her life, not a target pistol, and Sandy twirled the shining cylinder approvingly. It was a gleaming toy, with its ivory stock and nickeled steel.

"Every chamber crammed," said Sandy, "and sure to knock spots out of anything from a mad dog to an elephant, provided it hits. Best keep it by you at night, Maidie. These natives are marvellous sneak-thieves. They go all through these ramshackle upper stories like so many ghosts. No one can hear them."

Then, when he took his leave, the pistol remained there lying on the table, and Frank, coming in to see his most interesting patient just as the band was trooping back to its post on the right of the long line, picked it up and examined it, muzzle uppermost, with professional approbation.

"Yours I see, Miss Ray;—and from your father. A man hit by one of these," he continued musingly, and fingering the fat leaden bullets, "would drop in his tracks. You keep it by you?—always?"

"I? No!" laughed Maidie. "I'm eager to get to my work,—healing—not giving—gunshot wounds."

"You will have abundant time, my dear young lady," said the doctor slowly, as he carefully replaced the weapon on the table by her side, "and—opportunity, if I read the signs aright, and we must get you thoroughly well before you begin. Ah! What's that? What's the matter over there?" he lazily asked. It was a fad of the doctor's never to permit himself to show the least haste or excitement.

A small opera-glass stood on the sill, and, calmly adjusting it as he peered, Frank had picked it up and levelled it towards the front and centre of the line just back of where the colonel commanding sat in saddle. A lively scuffle and commotion had suddenly begun among the groups of spectators. Miss Ray's reclining-chair was so placed that by merely raising her head she could look out over the field. Mrs. Brent ran to where the colonel's field-glasses hung in their leathern case and joined the doctor at the gallery rail.

Three pairs of eyes were gazing fixedly at the point of disturbance, already the centre of a surging crowd of soldiers off duty, oblivious now to the fact that the band was playing the "Star-Spangled Banner," and they ought to be standing at attention, hats off, and facing the flag as it came floating slowly to earth on the distant ramparts of the old city.

Disdainful of outside attractions, the adjutant came stalking out to the front as the strain ceased, and his shrill voice was heard turning over the parade to his commander. Then the surging group seemed to begin to dissolve, many following a little knot of men carrying on their shoulders an apparently inanimate form. They moved in the direction of the old botanical garden, towards the Estado Mayor, and so absorbed were the three in trying to fathom the cause of the excitement that they were deaf to Ignacio's announcement. A tall, handsome, most distinguished-looking young officer stood at the wide door-way, dressed cap-a-pie in snowy white, and not until, after a moment's hesitation, he stepped within the room and was almost upon them, did Miss Ray turn and see him.

"Why, Mr. Stuyvesant!" was all she said; but the tone was enough. Mrs. Brent and the doctor dropped the glasses and whirled about. Both instantly noted the access of color. It had not all disappeared by any means, though the doctor had, when, ten minutes later, Colonel Brent came in.

At the moment of his entrance, Stuyvesant, seated close to Marion's reclining-chair, was, with all the doctor's caution and curiosity, examining her revolver. "Rather bulky for a pocket-pistol," he remarked, as, muzzle downward, he essayed its insertion in the gaping orifice at the right hip of his Manila-made, flapping white trousers. It slipped in without a hitch.

"What was the trouble out there a while ago?" asked the lady of the house of her liege lord. "You saw it, I suppose?"

"Nothing much. Man had a fit, and it took four men to hold him. Maidie, look here. Captain Kress handed this to me—said they picked it up just back of where the colonel stood at parade. Is he another mash?"

Marion took the envelope from the outstretched hand, drew forth a little carte-de-visite, on which was the vignette portrait of her own face, gave one quick glance, and dropped back on the pillow. All the bright color fled. The picture fell to the floor. "Can you—find Sandy?" was all she could say, as, with imploring eyes, she gazed into honest Brent's astonished face.

"I can, at once," said Stuyvesant, who had risen from his chair at the colonel's remark. With quick bend he picked up the little card, placed it face downward on the table by her side, never so much as giving one glance at the portrait, and noiselessly left the room.



CHAPTER XIII.

Like many another man's that summer and autumn of '98, Mr. Gerard Stuyvesant's one overwhelming ambition had been to get on to Manila. The enforced sojourn at Honolulu had been, therefore, a bitter trial. He had reached at last the objective point of his soldier desires, and with all his heart now wished himself back on the Sacramento with one, at least,—or was it at most?—of the Sacramento's passengers. The voyage had done much to speed his recovery. The cordial greeting extended by his general and comrade officers had gladdened his heart. Pleasant quarters on the breezy bay shore, daily drives, and, presently, gentle exercise in saddle had still further benefited him.

He had every assurance that Marion Ray's illness was not of an alarming nature, and that, soon as the fever had run its course, her convalescence would be rapid. He was measurably happy in the privilege of calling every day to ask for her, but speedily realized the poverty of Oriental marts in the means wherewith to convey to the fair patient some tangible token of his constant devotion. Where were the glorious roses, the fragrant, delicate violets, the heaping baskets of cool, luscious, tempting grapes, pears, and peaches with which from Saco to Seattle, from the Sault de Sainte Marie to Southwest Pass, in any city outside of Alaska in the three million square miles of his own native land, he could have laid siege to her temporary retreat? Ransack the city as he might,—market, shops, and gardens,—hardly a flower could he find worthy her acceptance—a garish, red-headed hybrid twixt poppy and tulip and some inodorous waxen shoots that looked like decrepit hyacinths and smelled like nothing, representing the stock in trade at that season of the few flower-stands about Manila. As for fruit, some stunted sugar bananas about the size of a shoehorn and a few diminutive China oranges proved the extent of the weekly exhibit along the Escolta. Once, La Extremena displayed a keg of Malaga grapes duly powdered with cork, and several pounds of these did Stuyvesant levy upon forthwith, and, after being duly immersed in water and cooled in the ice-chest, send them in dainty basket by a white-robed lackey, with an unimpeachable card bearing the legend "Mr. Gerard Stuyvesant, One-Hundred-and-Sixth New York Infantry Volunteers," and much were they admired on arrival, but that was in the earlier days of Maidie's convalescence, and Dr. Frank shook his head. Grape-seeds were "perilous stuff," and Mrs. Brent knew they would not last until Maidie was well enough to enjoy them, and so—they did not.

Military duty for the staff was not exacting about Manila in the autumn days. It was the intermission. The Spanish war was over; the Filipino yet to come. There was abundant time for "love and sighing," and Stuyvesant did both, for there was no question the poor fellow had found his fate, and yet thought it trembling in the balance. Not one look or word of hers for him could Stuyvesant recall that was more winsome and kind than those bestowed on other men. Indeed, had he not seen with jealous eyes with what beaming cordiality and delight she had met and welcomed one or two young gallants, who, having been comrades of Sandy in "the Corps" at the Point, had found means to get out to the Sacramento, obviously to see her, just before that untimely illness claimed her for its own? Had he not heard his general, his fellow staff officers, speaking enthusiastically of her beauty and fascinations and their destructive effects in various quarters? Had he not been compelled in silence to listen again and in detail to the story of old Sam Martindale's nephew?—Sam Martingale, the cavalry called him—"Martinet Martindale" he was dubbed by the "doughboys"—that conscientious, dutiful, and therefore none too popular veteran, whose sister's children much more than supplied the lack of his own.

Farquhar of the cavalry, scion of a Philadelphia family well known to the Stuyvesants of Gotham and "trotting in the same class," had come over from department head-quarters, where he had a billet as engineer officer, to call on Stuyvesant and to cheer him up and contribute to his convalescence, and did so after the manner of men, by talking on all manner of topics for nearly an hour and winding up by a dissertation on Billy Ray's pretty daughter and "Wally" Foster's infatuation. Farquhar said it was the general belief that Maidie liked Wally mighty well and would marry him were he only in the army. And Stuyvesant wondered how it was, in all the years he had known Farquhar and envied him his being a West Pointer and in the cavalry, he had never really discovered what a bore, what a wearisome ass, Farquhar could be.

Then just as Miss Ray was reported sitting up and soon to be able to "see her friends,"—with what smiling significance did Mrs. Brent so assure him!—what should Stuyvesant's general do but select Stuyvesant himself to go on a voyage of discovery to Iloilo and beyond. The commanding general wanted a competent officer who spoke Spanish to make a certain line of investigation. He consulted Vinton. Vinton thought another voyage the very thing for Stuyvesant, and so suggested his name.

It sent the luckless Gothamite away just at the time of all others he most wished to remain. When he returned, within a dozen days, the first thing was to submit his written report, already prepared aboard ship. The next was to report himself in person at Colonel Brent's, to be asked into the presence of the girl he loved and longed to see, and, as has been told, ushered out almost immediately, self-detailed, in search of Sandy.

He had found the lad easily enough, but not so the man with the fit, whom, for reasons of his own and from what he had seen and heard, Stuyvesant was most anxious to overtake. His carriage whirled him rapidly past the parade-ground and over to the First Reserve Hospital, whither he thought the victim had been borne, but no civilian, with or without fits, had recently been admitted.

Inquiry among convalescent patients and soldiers along the road without resulted at last in his finding one of the party that carried the stricken man from the field. He had come to, said the volunteer, before they had gone quarter of a mile, had soused his head in water at a hydrant, rested a minute, offered them a quarter for their trouble, buttoned up the light coat that had been torn open in his struggle, and nervously but positively declared himself all right and vastly obliged, had then hailed a passing carromatta, and been whisked away across the moat and drawbridge into the old city. There all trace was lost of him.

Baffled and troubled, Stuyvesant ordered his coachman to take him to the Luneta. The crowd had disappeared. The carriages were nearly all departed. The lights were twinkling here and there all over the placid bay. It was still nearly an hour to dinner-time at the general's mess, and he wished to be alone to think over matters, to hear the soothing plash and murmur of the little waves, and Stuyvesant vowed in his wrath and vexation that Satan himself must be managing his affairs, for, over and above the longed-for melody of the rhythmic waters, he was hailed by the buzz-saw stridencies of Miss Perkins, whose first words gave the lie to themselves.

"I'm all out of breath, and so het up runnin' after you I can't talk, but I was just bound to see you, an' I've been to your house so often the soldiers laugh at me. Those young men haven't any sense of decency or respect, but I'll teach 'em, and you see they'll sing another song. Where can we sit down?" continued the lady, her words chasing each other's heels in her breathless haste. "These lazy, worthless Spanish officers take every seat along here. Why, here! your carriage will do, an' I've got a thousand things to say!" ("Heaven be merciful," groaned Stuyvesant to himself.) "I saw you driving, and I told my cabman to catch you if he had to flog the hide off his horse. Come, aren't you—don't you want to sit down? I do, anyhow! There's no comfort in my cab. Here, I'll dismiss it now. You can just drop me on the way home, you know. I'm living down the Calle Real a few blocks this side of you. All the soldiers know me, and if they had their say it wouldn't be the stuck-up Red Cross that's flirting with doctors and living high on the dainties our folks sent over. The boys are all right. It's your generals that have ignored the P. D. A.'s, and I'll show 'em presently what a miss they've made. Wait till the papers get the letters I have written. But, say—"("And this is the woman I thought might be literary!" moaned Stuyvesant as he meekly followed to the little open carriage and, with a shiver, assisted his angular visitor to a seat.)

"A Key!" she shouted, "A Key, Cochero! No quiere mas hoy. Manana! Ocho! Sabe, Cochero? Ocho! Now don't chewbe—What's late in their lingo, anyhow? 'Tisn't tardy, I know; that's afternoon. Tardeeo? Thank you. Now—well, just sit down, first, lieutenant. You see we know how to address officers by their titles, if the Red Cross don't. I'd teach 'em to Mister me if I was an officer. Now, what I want to see you about first is this. Your general has put me off one way or another every time I've called this last two weeks. I've always treated him politely, but for some reason he'll never see me now, and yet they almost ran after me at first. Now, you can fix it easy enough, and you do it and you won't regret it. I only want him to listen to me three minutes, and that's little enough for anybody to ask. You do it, and I can do a good deal more for you than you think for, an' I will do it, too, if certain people don't treat me better. It's something you'll thank me for mightily later on if you don't now. I've had my eyes open, lieutenant, an' I see things an' I hear things an' I know things you mighty little suspect."

"Pardon me, Miss Perkins," interposed Stuyvesant at this juncture, his nerves fairly twitching under the strain. "Let us get at the matters on which you wish to speak to me. Malate, Cochero!" he called to the pygmy Filipino on the box. "I am greatly pressed for time," he added, as the carriage whirled away, the hoofs of the pony team flying like shuttles the instant the little scamps were headed homeward.

"Well, what I want mostly is to see the general. He's got influence with General Drayton and I know it, and these Red Cross people have poisoned his ears. Everybody's ears seem to be just now against me and I can get no hearing whatever. Everything was all right at first; everything was promised me, and then, first one and then another, they all backed out, and I want to know why—I'm bound to know why, and they'd better come to me and make their peace now than wait until the papers and the P. D. A.'s get after 'em, as they will,—you hear my words now,—they will do just as soon as my letters reach the States. You're all right enough. I've told them how you helped with those poor boys of mine aboard the train. Bad way they'd been in if we hadn't been there, you and I. Why, I just canvassed that train till I got clothes and shoes for every one of those poor burned-out fellows, but there wouldn't anybody else have done it. And nursing?—you ought to have seen those boys come to thank me the day I went out to the Presidio, an' most cried—some of them did;—said their own mothers couldn't have done more, and they'd do anything for me now. But when I went out to their camp at Paco their major just as much as ordered me away, and that little whipper-snapper, Lieutenant Ray, that I could take on my knee and spank—— He—Lieutenant Ray—a friend of yours? Well, you may think he is, or you may be a friend of his, but I can tell you right here and now he's no friend, and you'll see he isn't. What's more, I hate to see an honest, high-toned young gentleman just throwing himself away on people that can't appreciate him. I could tell you——"

"Stop, driver!" shouted Stuyvesant, unable longer to control himself. "Miss Perkins," he added, as the little coachman manfully struggled to bring his rushing team to a halt at the curb, "I have a call to make and am late. Tell my coachman where to take you and send him back to this corner. Good-night, madam," and, gritting his teeth, out he sprang to the sidewalk.

It happened to be directly in front of one of those native resorts where, day and night, by dozens the swarthy little brown men gather about a billiard-table with its centre ornament of boxwood pins, betting on a game resembling the Yankee "pin pool" in everything but the possibility of fair play. Hovering about the entrance or on the outskirts of the swarm of men and boys, a dozen native women, some with babies in their arms and nearly all with cigars between their teeth, stood watching the play with absorbing interest, and a score of dusky, pot-bellied children from two to twelve years of age sprawled about the premises, as much at home as the keeper of the place.

The lamps had been lighted but a few minutes and the game was in full blast. Some stalwart soldiers, regulars from the Cuartel de Malate from down the street or the nipa barracks of the Dakotas and Idahos, were curiously studying the scene, making jovial and unstinted comment after their fearless democratic fashion, but sagely abstaining from trying their luck and not so sagely sampling the sizzling soda drinks held forth to them by tempting hands. Liquor the vendors dare not proffer,—the provost marshal's people had forbidden that,—and only at the licensed bars in town or by bribery and stealth in the outlying suburbs could the natives dispose of the villainous "bino" with which at times the unwary and unaccustomed American was overcome.

Three or four men in civilian dress, that somehow smacked of the sea, as did their muttered, low-toned talk, huddled together at the corner post, furtively eying the laughing soldiers and occasionally peering up and down the darkened street. It was not the place Stuyvesant would have chosen to leave his carriage, but it was a case of any port in a storm,—anything to escape that awful woman. With one quick spring he was out of the vehicle and into the midst of the group on the narrow sidewalk before he noticed them at all, but not before they saw him. Even as Miss Perkins threw forward a would-be grasping and detaining hand and called him by name, one of the group in civilian dress gave sudden, instant start, sprang round the corner, but, tripping on some obstacle, sprawled full length on the hard stone pavement. Despite the violence of the fall, which wrung from him a fierce curse, the man was up in a second, away, and out of sight in a twinkling.

"Go on!" shouted Stuyvesant impatiently, imperiously, to his coachman, as, never caring what street he took, he too darted around the same corner, and his tall white form vanished on the track of the civilian.

But the sound of the heavy fall, the muttered curse, and the sudden question in the nearest group, "What's wrong with Sackett?" had reached Miss Perkins's ears, for while once more the little team was speeding swiftly away, the strident voice of the lone passenger was uplifted in excited hail to the coachman to stop. And here the Filipino demonstrated to the uttermost that the amenities of civilization were yet undreamed of in his darkened intellect—as between the orders of the man and the demands of the woman he obeyed the former. Deaf, even to that awful voice, he drove furiously on until brought up standing by the bayonets of the patrol in front of the English Club, and in a fury of denunciation and quiver of mingled wrath and excitement, Miss Perkins tumbled out into the arms of an amazed and disgusted sergeant, and demanded that he come at once to arrest a vile thief and deserter.



CHAPTER XIV.

That night the sentries all over the suburbs of Ermita and Malate were peering into every dark alleyway and closely scrutinizing every human being nearing their posts. Few and far between were these, for the natives were encouraged to remain indoors after nine o'clock, and the soldiers forbidden to be out. The streets were deserted save by occasional carriage or carromatta bearing army or navy officers, or what were termed the foreign residents—English or German as a rule—from club or calls to their quarters.

"Lights out" sounded early at the barracks of the soldiery, for they were up with the dawn for breakfast that they might be through with their hardest drills before the heat of the day. The "pool rooms," as the big Americanos called these "wide open," single-tabled billiard saloons that flourished in almost every block, were required to put up their shutters at nine o'clock, and every discoverable establishment in which gambling had prevailed in other form had long since been closed by a stony-hearted chief of police, whose star was worn on each shoulder rather than the left breast, and who, to the incredulous amaze of Spaniard and Filipino alike, listened unmoved to the pleas of numerous prominent professors of the gambling industry, even when backed by proffers of a thousand a week in gold. That the "partida de billar" had not also been suppressed was due to the fact that, like Old Sledge in the Kentucky Court, its exponents established it to be, not a game of chance, but skill, and such, indeed, it proved to every Yankee who put up his money against the bank. With an apparently congenital gift of sleight of hand, developed by years of practice at pitch penny from toddling babyhood to cock-fighting adolescence, the native could so manipulate the tools of his game that no outsider had the faintest "show for his money," while, as against each other, as when Greek met Greek, it became a battle of the giants, a trial of almost superhuman skill. It was the one game left to adult Tagalhood in which he might indulge his all-absorbing and unconquerable passion to play for money. All over town and suburbs wandered countless natives with wondering game-cocks under their arms, suffering for a chance to spur if not to "scrap," for even the national sport had been stopped. Never in all the services in all the churches of Luzon had such virtue been preached as that practised by these heartless, soulless invaders from across the wide Pacific—men who stifled gambling and scorned all bribes. "Your chief of police is no gentleman," declared certain prominent merchants, arrested for smuggling opium, and naturally aggrieved and indignant at such unheard-of treatment. "He did not tell us how much he wanted! He did not even ask us to pay!" Retained in responsible positions in the office of the collector of customs, two Spanish officers of rank were presently found to have embezzled some twelve thousand dollars in some six weeks of opportunity. "But this is outrage! This is scandalous!" quoth they, in righteous wrath on being bidden to disgorge and ordered before a court-martial. "We have nothing but the customary perquisite! It is you who would rob us!" From highest to lowest, in church, in state, in school,—in every place,—there seemed no creed that barred the acquisition of money by any means short of actual robbery of the person. As for thieving from the premises, the Filipino stood unequalled—the champion sneak-thief of the universe.

And the sentries this night, softly lighted by a waning old moon, were on the lookout everywhere among the suburbs for two malefactors distinctly differing in type, yet equally in demand. One, said the descriptions, compiled from the original information of Zenobia Perkins, Spinster; residence 259 Calle Real, Ermita; occupation, Vice-President and Accredited Representative for the Philippine Islands of the Patriotic Daughters of America, and the additional particulars later obtained from Lieutenant Gerard Stuyvesant, aide-de-camp to General Vinton, 595 Calle Real, Malate—one, said the descriptions, was a burly, thick-set, somewhat slouching American, in clothing of the sailor slop-shop variety, a man of five feet six and maybe forty years, though he might be much younger; a coarse-featured, heavy-bearded man, with gray eyes, generally bleary, and one front tooth gone, leaving a gap in the upper jaw next the canine, which was fang-like, yellow, and prominent; a man with harsh voice and surly ways; a man known as Sackett among seamen and certain civilians who probably had made their way to Manila in the hope of picking up an easy living; a man wanted as Murray among soldiers for a deserter, jail-bird, and thief.

The other malefactor was less minutely described. A native five feet eight, perhaps. Very tall for a Tagal, slender, sinewy, and with a tuft of wiry hair and sixteen inches of shirt missing. "For further particulars and the missing sixteen inches, as well as the hair, inquire at Colonel Brent's, Number 199 Calle San Luis, Ermita."

It seems that soon after dark that eventful evening Mrs. Brent and Miss Porter had seen Maidie comfortably bestowed in the big, broad, cane-bottomed bed in her airy room, and had left her to all appearances sleeping placidly towards eight o'clock, and then gone out to dinner. Whatever the cause of her agitation on receiving at Brent's hands the little card photograph of herself, it had subsided after a brief, low-toned conference with Sandy, who quickly came and speedily hastened away, and a later visit from Dr. Frank, whose placid, imperturbable, restful ways were in themselves well-nigh as soothing as the orange-flower water prescribed for her. Even the little night-light, floating in its glass, had been extinguished when the ladies left her.

The room assigned to Marion was at the north-west corner of the house. Its two front windows opened on the wide gallery, that in turn opened out on the Bagumbayan parade. Its west windows, also two in number, were heavily framed. There were sliding blinds to oppose to the westering sun, translucent shells in place of brittle glass to temper, yet admit, the daylight, and hanging curtains that slid easily on their supporting rods and rendered the room dark as could be desired for the siesta hours of the tropic day.

The dinner-table, brightly lighted by lamps hung from hooks securely driven in the upper beams (lath and plaster are unknown in this seismic land), was set on the rear gallery overlooking the patio, and here, soon after eight, Brent, his little household, the doctor, and two more guests were cosily chatting and dining, while noiseless native servants hovered about and Maidie Ray presumably slept.

But Maidie was not sleeping. Full of a new anxiety, if not of dread, and needing to think calmly and clearly, she had turned away from her almost too assiduous attendants and closed her eyes upon the world about her. A perplexity, a problem such as never occurred to her as a possibility, one that sorely worried Sandy, as she could plainly see, had suddenly been thrust upon her. Hitherto she had ever had a most devoted mother as her counsellor and friend, but now a time had come when she must think and act for herself.

The little card photograph picked up by the men on the scene of the scuffle at the edge of the Bagumbayan had told its story to her at least and to Sandy. It could only mean that Foster, he who spent whole days and weeks at their New Mexican station to the neglect of his cattle-ranch, he who had 'listed in the cavalry and disappeared—deserted, maybe—at Carquinez, had eluded search, pursuit, inquiry of every kind, and, all ignorant, probably, of the commission obtained for him, had, still secretly, as though realizing his danger, followed her to Manila.

This then must have been the tall stranger who called himself an old friend and would give no name, for it was to Foster, in answer to his most urgent plea,—perhaps touched by his devoted love for her lovely daughter,—that Mrs. Ray had given that little vignette photograph long months before. There, on the back, was the date in her mother's hand, "Fort Averill, New Mexico, February 15, 1898." Well did Marion remember how he had begged her to write her name beneath the picture, and how, for some reason she herself could not describe, she had shrunk from so doing. There had been probably half a dozen pictures of Foster about their quarters at Averill,—photographs in evening dress, in ranch rig, in winter garb, in tennis costume,—but only one had he of Maidie, and that not of her giving.

Now, what could his coming mean? What madness prompted this stealth and secrecy? If innocent of wilful desertion, his proper course was to have reported without delay to the military authorities at San Francisco and told the cause of his disappearance or detention. But he had evidently done nothing of the kind. They would surely have heard of it, and now he was here, still virtually in hiding and possibly in disguise, and one unguarded word of hers might land him a prisoner, a war-time deserter, within the walls of the gloomy carcel in Old Manila.

Sandy she had to tell, and he was overwhelmed with dismay, had galloped to Paco to see his colonel and get leave for "urgent personal and family reasons," as he was to say, to spend forty-eight hours in and about Manila. If a possible thing, Sandy was to trail and find poor Foster, induce him to surrender himself at once, to plead illness, inexperience,—anything,—and throw himself on the mercy of the authorities. Sandy would be back by nine unless something utterly unforeseen detained him at East Paco. Meantime what else could she do?—what could she plan to rescue that reckless, luckless, hare-brained, handsome fellow from the plight into which his misguided, wasted passion had plunged him?

From the veranda the clink of glass and china, the low hum of merry chat, the sound of half-smothered laughter, fell upon the ear and vexed her with its careless jollity. Impatiently she threw herself upon the other—the left—side, and then—sat bolt upright in bed.

Not a breath of air was stirring. The night was so still she could hear the soft tinkle of the ships' bells off the Luneta,—could almost hear the soothing plash of the wavelets on the beach. There was nothing whatever to cause that huge mahogany door to swing upon its well-oiled hinges. She heard them close it when they went out; she saw that it was closed when they were gone, yet, as she turned on her pillow and towards the faint light through the northwest windows, that door was slowly, stealthily turning, until at last, wide open, it interposed between her and the outward light at the front.

Many an evening lately she had lain with hands clasped under the back of her bonny head looking dreamily out through that big open window, across the gallery beyond and the open casements in front, watching the twinkle of the electric lights above the distant ramparts of the old city and the nearer gleam of the brilliant globes that hung aloft along the west edge of the Bagumbayan.

Now one-half of that vista was shut off by the massive door, the other was unobscured, but even as with beating heart, still as a trembling mouse, she sat and gazed, something glided slowly, stealthily, noiselessly between her and those betraying lights, something dark, dim, and human, for the shape was that of a man, a native, as she knew by the stiffly brushed-up hair above the forehead, the loosely falling shirt—a native taller than any of their household servants—a native whose movements were so utterly without sound that Maidie realized on the instant that here was one of Manila's famous veranda-climbing house-thieves, and her first thought was for her revolver. She had left it, totally forgotten, on the little table on the outer gallery.

Even though still weak from her long and serious illness, the brave, army-bred girl was conscious of no sentiment of fear. To cry out was sure to bring about the instant escape of the intruder, whereas to capture him and prevent his getting away with such valuables as he had probably already laid hands on became instantly her whole ambition. The side windows were closed by the sliding blinds. Even if he leaped from them it would be into a narrow court shut in by a ten-foot, spike-topped stone wall. He had chosen the veranda climber's favorite hour, that which found the family at dinner on the back gallery, and the quiet streets well-nigh deserted save by his own skilled and trusted "pals," from whose shoulders he had easily swung himself to the overhanging structure at the front. He would doubtless retire that way the moment he had stowed beneath his loose, flapping ropas such items as he deemed of marketable value.

He was even now stealthily moving across the floor to where her dressing-table stood between the westward windows. The man must have the eyes of a cat to see in the dark, or else personal and previous knowledge of the premises. If she could only slip as noiselessly out by the foot of the bed, interpose between him and the door and that one wide-open window, then scream for help and grab him as he sprang, she might hope to hold him a second or two, and then Brent and Dr. Frank would be upon him.

All her trembling was from excitement: she knew no thought of fear. But strong and steady hands were needed, not the fever-shattered members only just beginning to regain their normal tone. She slid from underneath the soft, light coverlet without a sound. The sturdy yet elastic bottom of platted cane never creaked or complained. She softly pushed outward the fine mosquito netting, gathered her dainty night-robe closely about her slender form, and the next minute her little bare feet were on the polished, hard-wood floor, the massive door barely five short steps away. She cautiously lifted the netting till it cleared her head, and then, crouching low, moved warily towards the dim, vertical slit that told of subdued light in the salon.

There was no creak to those thick, black-wood planks with which Manila mansions are floored. Her outstretched hand had almost reached the knob when her knee collided with a light bamboo bedroom chair. There was instant bamboo rasp and protest, followed by instant vigorous spring across the room, and instant piercing scream from Maidie's lips.

Something dusky white shot before her eyes, something inky black and dusky white was snatched at and seized by those nervous, slender, but determined little hands. Something dropped with clash and clatter on the resounding floor. Something ripped and tore as an agile, slippery, squirming form bounded from her grasp over the casement to the veranda, over the sill into the street, and when Brent and the doctor and the women-folk came rushing in and lamps were brought and Brent went shouting to sentries up and down the San Luis and shots were heard around the nearest corner, Maid Marion, Second, was found crouching upon the cane-bottomed chair that had baffled her plans, half-laughing, half-crying with vexation, but firmly grasping in one hand a tuft of coarse, straight black hair, and in the other a section of Filipino shirt the size of a lady's kerchief—all she had to show of her predatory visitor and to account for the unseemly disturbance they had made.

"Just to think—just to think!" exclaimed Mrs. Brent, with clasping hands, "that this time, when you might most have needed it, Mr. Stuyvesant should have gone off with your pistol!"



CHAPTER XV.

But there was little merriment when, five minutes later, the household had taken account of stock and realized the extent of their losses.

Maidie's had evidently been the last room visited. The dressing-table and wardrobe of the opposite chamber—that occupied by Colonel and Mrs. Brent—had been ransacked. The colonel's watch and chain,—too bulky, he said, to be worn at dinner in white uniform,—his Loyal Legion and Army of the Potomac insignia, and some prized though not expensive trinkets of his good wife were gone. Miss Porter's little purse with her modest savings and a brooch that had been her mother's were missing. And with these items the skilled practitioner had made good his escape.

On the floor, just under the window in Maidie's room, lay a keen, double-edged knife. The stumps of two or three matches found in the colonel's apartment and others in Miss Porter's showed that the thief had not feared to make sufficient light for his purpose, and from the floor of Marion's room, close to the bureau, just where it had been dropped when the prowler was alarmed, Miss Porter picked up one of the old-fashioned "phosphors" that ignite noiselessly and burn with but a tiny flame.

Marion's porte-monnaie was in the upper drawer, untouched, and such jewelry as she owned, save two precious rings she always wore, was stored in her father's safe deposit box in the bank at home. The colonel was really the greatest loser and declared it served him right, both provost-marshal and chief of police having warned him to leave nothing "lying around loose."

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