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The Face And The Mask
by Robert Barr
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"Why?"

"He comes here night after night, and he loses more than he can afford, I imagine. He has no income, so far as I can find out, except what he gets as salary, and it takes a mighty sight bigger salary than his to stand the strain he's putting on it."

"What is his business?"

"He is cashier in the Ninth National Bank. I don't know how much he gets, but it can't be enough to permit this sort of thing to go on."

Pony Rowell shrugged his shoulders.

"I don't think I would let it trouble me, if I were you, Mellish."

"Nevertheless it does. I have advised him to quit, but it is no use. If I tell the doorkeeper not to let him in here, he will merely go somewhere else where they are not so particular."

"I must confess I don't quite understand you, Mellish, long as I have known you. In your place, now, I would either give up keeping a gambling saloon or I would give up the moral reformation line of business. I wouldn't try to ride two horses of such different tempers at the same time."

"I've never tried to reform you, Pony," said Mellish, with reproach in his voice.

"No; I will give you credit for that much sense."

"It's all right with old stagers like you and me, Pony, but with a boy just beginning life, it is different. Now it struck me that you might be able to help me in this."

"Yes, I thought that was what you were leading up to," said Rowell, thrusting his hands deep in his trousers' pockets. "I'm no missionary, remember. What did you want me to do?"

"I wanted you to give him a sharp lesson. Couldn't you mark a pack of cards and get him to play high? Then, when you have taken all his ready money and landed him in debt to you so that he can't move, give him back his cash if he promises not to gamble again."

Rowell looked across at the subject of their conversation. "I don't think I would flatter him so much as to even stock the cards on him. I'll clean him out if you like. But it won't do any good, Mellish. Look at his eyes. The insanity of gambling is in them. I used to think if I had $100,000, I would quit. I'm old enough now to know that I wouldn't. I'd gamble if I had a million."

"I stopped after I was your age."

"Oh, yes, Mellish, you are the virtuous exception that proves the rule. You quit gambling the way the old woman kept tavern," and Rowell cast a glance over the busy room.

Mellish smiled somewhat grimly, then he sighed. "I wish I was out of it," he said. "But, anyhow, you think over what I've been talking about, and if you can see your way to giving him a sharp lesson I wish you would."

"All right I will, but merely to ease your tender conscience, Mellish. It's no use, I tell you. When the snake has bitten, the victim is doomed. Gambling isn't a simple thing like the opium habit."

* * * * *

Reggie Forme, the bank cashier, rose at last from the roulette table. He was flushed with success, for there was a considerable addition to the sum he had in his pockets when he sat down. He flattered himself that the result was due to the system he had elaborately studied out.

Nothing lures a man to destruction quicker than a system that can be mathematically demonstrated. It gives an air of business to gambling which is soothing to the conscience of a person brought up on statistics. The system generally works beautifully at first; then a cog slips and you are mangled in the machinery before you know where you are. As young Forme left the table he felt a hand on his shoulder, and looking around, met the impassive gaze of Pony Rowell.

"You're young at the business, I see," remarked the professional quietly.

"Why do you think that?" asked the youngster, coloring, for one likes to be taken for a veteran, especially when one is an amateur.

"Because you fool away your time at roulette. That is a game for boys and women. Have you nerve enough to play a real game?"

"What do you call a real game?"

"A game with cards in a private room for something bigger than half- dollar points."

"How big?"

"Depends on what capital you have. How much capital can you command?"

The cashier hesitated for a moment and his eyes fell from the steady light of Rowell's, which seemed to have an uncomfortable habit of looking into one's inmost soul.

"I can bring $1,000 here on Saturday night."

"All right. That will do as a starter. Is it an appointment then?"

"Yes, if you like. What time?"

"I generally get here pretty late, but I can make an exception in your case. What do you say to 10 o'clock?"

"That will suit me."

"Very well, then. Don't fool away any of your money or nerve until I come. You will need all you have of both."

* * * * *

The professional gambler and the amateur began their series of games a few minutes after ten in a little private room. The young man became more and more excited as the play went on. As for Pony, he was cool under any circumstances. Before an hour had passed the $1,000 was transferred from the possession of Forme into the pockets of the professional, and by midnight the younger man was another $1,000 in Rowell's debt.

"It isn't my practice," said Rowell slowly, "to play with a man unless he has the money in sight. I've made an exception in your case, as luck was against you, but I think this has gone far enough. You may bring me the $1,000 you owe any day next week. No particular hurry, you know."

The young fellow appeared to be dazed. He drew his hand across his brow and then said mechanically, as if he had just heard his opponent's remark:

"No hurry? All right. Next week. Certainly. I guess I'll go home now."

Forme went out, leaving Rowell idly shuffling the cards at the small table. The moment the young man had disappeared all Rowell's indolence vanished. He sprang up and put on his overcoat, then slipped out by the rear exit into the alley. He had made up his mind what Forme would do. Mentally he tracked him from the gambling rooms to the river and he even went so far as to believe he would take certain streets on his way thither. A gambler is nothing if not superstitious and so Rowell was not in the least surprised when he saw the young man emerge from the dark stairway, hesitate for a moment between the two directions open to him, and finally choose the one that the gambler expected him to take. The cold streets were deserted and so Rowell had more difficulty in following his late victim unperceived than he would have had earlier in the evening. Several times the older man thought the pursued had become aware of the pursuit, for Forme stopped and looked around him; once coming back and taking another street as if trying to double on the man who was following him.

* * * * *

Rowell began to realize the difficulty of the task he had set for himself, and as he had never had any faith in it anyhow, he began to feel uncomfortable and to curse the tender heart of Mellish. If the youngster got the idea into his head that he was followed he might succeed in giving his pursuer the slip, and then Rowell would find himself with the fool's death on his conscience, and what was to him infinitely worse, with a thousand dollars in his pocket that had been unfairly won. This thought made him curse Mellish afresh. It had been entirely against his own will that he had played with marked cards, but Mellish had insisted that they should take no chances, and the veteran knew too well the uncertainties of playing a fair game where a great object lesson was to be taught. It would make them look like two fools, Mellish had said, if Forme won the money. In answer to this Rowell had remarked that they were two fools anyhow, but he had finally succumbed to Mellish as the whole scheme was Mellish's. As Rowell thought bitterly of these things his attention was diverted from the very matter he had in hand. Few men can pursue a course of thought and a fellow-creature at the same time. He suddenly realized that young Forme had escaped him. Rowell stood alone in the dimly-lighted silent street and poured unuttered maledictions on his own stupidity. Suddenly a voice rang out from a dark doorway.

"What the devil are you following me for?"

"Oh, you're there, are you?" said Pony calmly.

"I'm here. Now what do you want of me? Aren't you satisfied with what you have done to-night?"

"Naturally not, or I wouldn't be fool-chasing at such an hour as this."

"Then you admit you have been following me?"

"I never denied it."

"What do you want of me? Do I belong to myself or do you think I belong to you, because I owe you some money?"

"I do not know, I am sure, to whom you belong," said Rowell with his slow drawl. "I suspect, however, that the city police, who seem to be scarce at this hour, have the first claim upon you. What do I want of you? I want to ask you a question. Where did you get the money you played with to-night?"

"It's none of your business."

"I presume not. But as there are no witnesses to this interesting conversation I will venture an opinion that you robbed the bank."

The young man took a step forward, but Pony stood his ground, using the interval to light another cigarette.

"I will also venture an opinion, Mr. Rowell, and say that the money came as honestly into my pocket as it did into yours."

"That wouldn't be saying much for it. I have the advantage of you, however, because the nine points are in my favor. I have possession."

"What are you following me for? To give me up?"

"You admit the robbery, then."

"I admit nothing."

"It won't be used against you. As I told you, there are no witnesses. It will pay you to be frank. Where did you get the money?"

"Where many another man gets it. Out of the bank."

"I thought so. Now, Forme, you are not such a fool as you look—or act. You know where all that sort of thing leads to. You haven't any chance. All the rules of the game are against you. You have no more show than you had against me to-night. Why not chuck it, before it is too late?"

"It is easy for you to talk like that when you have my money in your pocket."

"But that simply is another rule of the game. The money of a thief is bound to go into someone else's pocket. Whoever enjoys the cash ultimately, he never does. Now if you had the money in your pocket what would you do?"

"I would go back to Mellish's and have another try."

"I believe you," said Rowell with, for the first time, some cordiality in his voice. He recognized a kindred spirit in this young man. "Nevertheless it would be a foolish thing to do. You have two chances before you. You can become a sport as I am and spend your life in gambling rooms. Or you can become what is called a respectable business man. But you can't be both. In a very short time you will not have the choice. You will be found out and then you can only be what I am— probably not as successful as I have been. If you add bank robbery to your other accomplishments then you will go to prison or, what is perhaps worse, to Canada. Which career are you going to choose?"

"Come down to plain facts. What do you mean by all this talk? If I say I'll quit gambling do you mean that you will return to me the thousand dollars and call the other thousand square?"

"If you give me your word of honor that you will quit."

"And if I don't, what then?"

"Then on Monday I will hand over this money to the bank and advise them to look into your accounts."

"And suppose my accounts prove to be all right, what then?"

Rowell shrugged his shoulders. "In that remote possibility I will give the thousand dollars to you and play you another game for it."

"I see. Which means that you cheated to-night."

"If you like to put it that way."

"And what if I denounced you as a self-confessed cheat?"

"It wouldn't matter to me. I wouldn't take the trouble to deny it. Nobody would believe you."

"You're a cool hand, Pony, I admire your cheek. Still, you've got some silly elements in you."

"Oh, you mean my trying to reform you? Don't make any mistake about that. It is Mellish's idea, not mine. I don't believe in you for a moment."

The young man laughed. He reflected for a few seconds, then said: "I'll take your offer. You give me back the money and I will promise never to gamble again in any shape or form."

"You will return the cash to the bank, if you took it from there?"

"Certainly. I will put it back the first thing on Monday morning."

"Then here is your pile," said Rowell, handing him the roll of bills.

Forme took it eagerly and, standing where the light struck down upon him, counted the bills, while Rowell looked on silently with a cynical smile on his lips.

"Thank you," said the young man, "you're a good fellow, Rowell."

"I'm obliged for your good opinion. I hope you found the money correct?"

"Quite right," said Forme, flushing a little. "I hope you did not mind my counting it. Merely a business habit, you know."

"Well, stick to business habits, Mr. Forme. Good night."

Rowell walked briskly back to Mellish's. Forme walked toward the railway station and found that there was a train for Chicago at 4 in the morning. He had one clear day and part of another before he was missed, and as it turned out all trace of him was lost in the big city. The bank found about $6,000 missing. Two years after, news came that Forme had been shot dead in a gambling hall in Southern Texas.

"We are two first-class fools," said Rowell to Mellish, "and I for one don't feel proud of the episode, so we'll say nothing more about it. The gambling mania was in his blood. Gambling is not a vice; it is a disease, latent in all of us."



THE BRUISER'S COURTSHIP.

While the Northern Bruiser sat in the chair in his corner and was being fanned he resolved to finish the fight at the next round. The superior skill of his opponent was telling upon him, and although the Bruiser was a young man of immense strength, yet, up to that time, the alertness and dexterity of the Yorkshire Chicken had baffled him, and prevented him from landing one of his tremendous shoulder thrusts. But even though skill had checkmated strength up to this point, the Chicken had not entirely succeeded in defending himself, and was in a condition described by the yelling crowd as "groggy."

When time was called the Bruiser was speedily on his feet. His face did not present the repulsive appearance so visible on the countenance of his opponent, but the Bruiser had experience enough to know that the body blows received in this fight had had their effect on his wind and staying powers; and that although the Chicken presented an appalling appearance with his swollen lips and cheeks, and his eyes nearly closed, yet he was in better trim for continuing the battle than the Bruiser.

The Chicken came up to the mark less promptly than his big antagonist, but whether it was from weakness or lack of sight, he seemed uncertain in his movements, and the hearts of his backers sank as they saw him stagger rather than walk to his place.

Before the Chicken, as it were, fully waked up to the situation, the Bruiser lunged forward and planted a blow on his temple that would have broken the guard of a man who was in better condition than the Chicken. The Yorkshireman fell like a log, and lay where he fell. Then the Bruiser got a lesson which terrified him. A sickly ashen hue came over the purple face of the man on the ground. The Bruiser had expected some defence, and the terrible blow had been even more powerful than he intended. A shivering whisper went round the crowd, "He is killed," and instantly the silenced mob quietly scattered. It was every man for himself before the authorities took a hand in the game.

The Bruiser stood there swaying from side to side, his gaze fixed upon the prostrate man. He saw himself indicted and hanged for murder, and he swore that if the Chicken recovered he would never again enter the ring. This was a phase of prize-fighting that he had never before had experience of. On different occasions he had, it is true, knocked out his various opponents, and once or twice he had been knocked out himself; but the Chicken had fought so pluckily up to the last round that the Bruiser had put forth more of his tremendous strength than he had bargained for, and now the man's life hung on a thread.

The unconscious pugilist was carried to an adjoining room. Two physicians were in attendance upon him, and at first the reports were most gloomy, but towards daylight the Bruiser learned with relief that the chances were in favor of his opponent.

The Bruiser had been urged to fly, but he was a man of strong common sense, and he thoroughly understood the futility of flight. His face and his form were too well known all around the country. It would have been impossible for him to escape, even if he had tried to do so.

When the Yorkshire Chicken recovered, the Bruiser's friends laughed at his resolve to quit the ring, but they could not shake it. The money he had won in his last fight, together with what he had accumulated before—for he was a frugal man—was enough to keep him for the rest of his days, and he resolved to return to the Border town where he was born, and where doubtless his fame had preceded him.

He buckled his guineas in a belt around him, and with a stout stick in his hand he left London for the North. He was a strong and healthy young man, and had not given way to dissipation, as so many prizefighters had done before, and will again. He had a horror of a cramped and confined, seat in a stage coach. He loved the free air of the heights and the quiet stillness of the valleys.

It was in the days of highwaymen, and travelling by coach was not considered any too safe. The Bruiser was afraid of no man that lived, if he met him in the open with a stick in his hand, or with nature's weapons, but he feared the muzzle of a pistol held at his head in the dark by a man with a mask over his face. So he buckled his belt around him with all his worldly gear in gold, took his own almost forgotten name, Abel Trenchon, set his back to the sun and his face to the north wind, and journeyed on foot along the king's highway. He stopped at night in the wayside inns, taking up his quarters before the sun had set, and leaving them when it was broad daylight in the morning. He disputed his reckonings like a man who must needs count the pennies, and no one suspected the sturdy wayfarer of carrying a fortune around his body.

As his face turned toward the North his thought went to the Border town where he had spent his childhood. His father and mother were dead, and he doubted now if anyone there remembered him, or would have a welcome for him. Nevertheless no other spot on earth was so dear to him, and it had always been his intention, when he settled down and took a wife, to retire to the quiet little town.

The weather, at least, gave him a surly welcome. On the last day's tramp the wind howled and the rain beat in gusts against him, but he was a man who cared little for the tempest, and he bent his body to the blast, trudging sturdily on. It was evening when he began to recognize familiar objects by the wayside, and he was surprised to see how little change there had been in all the years he was away. He stopped at an inn for supper, and, having refreshed himself, resolved to break the rule he had made for himself throughout the journey. He would push on through the night, and sleep in his native village.

The storm became more pitiless as he proceeded, and he found himself sympathizing with those poor creatures who were compelled to be out in it, but he never gave a thought to himself.

It was nearly midnight when he saw the square church tower standing blackly out against the dark sky; and when he began to descend the valley, on the other side of which the town stood, a thrill of fear came over him, as he remembered what he had so long forgotten—that the valley was haunted, and was a particularly dangerous place about the hour of midnight. To divert his thoughts he then began to wonder who the woman was he would marry. She was doubtless now sleeping calmly in the village on the hill, quite unconscious of the approach of her lover and her husband. He could not conceal from himself the fact that he would be reckoned a good match when his wealth was known, for, excepting the Squire, he would probably be the richest man in the place. However, he resolved to be silent about his riches, so that the girl he married would little dream of the good fortune that awaited her. He laughed aloud as he thought of the pleasure he would have in telling his wife of her luck, but the laugh died on his lips as he saw, or thought he saw, something moving stealthily along the hedge.

He was now in the depth of the valley in a most lonesome and eerie spot. The huge trees on each side formed an arch over the roadway and partially sheltered it from the rain.

He stood in his tracks, grasped his stick with firmer hold, and shouted valiantly, "Who goes there?"

There was no answer, but in the silence which followed he thought he heard a woman's sob.

"Come out into the road," he cried, "or I shall fire."

His own fear of pistols was so great that he expected everyone else to be terrorized by the threat of using them; and yet he had never possessed nor carried a pistol in his life.

"Please—please don't fire," cried a trembling voice, from out the darkness. "I will do as you tell me." And so saying the figure moved out upon the road.

Trenchon peered at her through the darkness, but whether she was old or young he could not tell. Her voice seemed to indicate that she was young.

"Why, lass," said Trenchon, kindly, "what dost thou here at such an hour and in such a night?"

"Alas!" she cried, weeping; "my father turned me out, as he has often done before, but to-night is a bitter night, and I had nowhere to go, so I came here to be sheltered from the rain. He will be asleep ere long, and he sleeps soundly. I may perhaps steal in by a window, although sometimes he fastens them down."

"God's truth!" cried Trenchon, angrily. "Who is thy brute of a father?"

The girl hesitated, and then spoke as if to excuse him, but again Trenchon demanded his name.

"He is the blacksmith of the village, and Cameron is his name."

"I remember him," said Trenchon. "Is thy mother, then, dead?"

"Yes," answered the girl, weeping afresh. "She has been dead these five years."

"I knew her when I was a boy," said Trenchon. "Thy father also, and many a grudge I owe him, although I had forgotten about them. Still, I doubt not but as a boy I was as much in fault as he, although he was harsh to all of us, and now it seems he is harsh to thee. My name is Trenchon. I doubt if any in the village now remember me, although, perhaps, they may have heard of me from London," he said, with some pride, and a hope that the girl would confirm his thoughts. But she shook her head.

"I have never heard thy name," she said.

Trenchon sighed. This, then, was fame!

"Ah, well!" he cried, "that matters not; they shall hear more of me later. I will go with thee to thy father's house and demand for thee admittance and decent usage."

But the girl shrank back. "Oh, no, no!" she cried; "that will never do. My father is a hard man to cross. There are none in the village who dare contend with him."

"That is as it may be," said Trenchon, with easy confidence. "I, for one, fear him not. Come, lass, with me, and see if I cannot, after all these years, pick out thy father's dwelling. Come, I say, thou must not longer tarry here; the rain is coming on afresh, and these trees, thick as they are, form scant protection. It is outrageous that thou should wander in this storm, while thy brutal father lies in shelter. Nay, do not fear harm for either thee or me; and as for him, he shall not suffer if thou but wish it so." And, drawing the girl's hand through his arm, he took her reluctantly with him, and without direction from her soon stood before the blacksmith's house.

"You see," he said, triumphantly, "I knew the place, and yet I have not seen the town for years."

Trenchon rapped soundly on the oaken door with his heavy stick, and the blows re-echoed through the silent house. The girl shrank timidly behind him, and would have fled, but that he held her firmly by the wrist.

"Nay, nay," he said: "believe me there is naught to fear. I will see that thou art not ill-used."

As he spoke the window above was thrown up, and a string of fearful oaths greeted the two, whereat the girl once more tried to release her imprisoned wrist, but Trenchon held it lightly, though with a grip like steel.

The stout old man thrust his head through the open window.

"God's blight on thee!" he cried, "thou pair of fools who wish to wed so much that ye venture out in such a night as this. Well, have your way, and let me have my rest. In the name of the law of Scotland I pronounce ye man and wife. There, that will bind two fools together as strongly as if the Archbishop spoke the words. Place thou the money on the steps. I warrant none will venture to touch it when it belongs to me." And with that he closed the window.

"Is he raving mad or drunk?" cried Trenchon.

The girl gave a wailing cry. "Alas! alas!" she said; "he is neither. He is so used to marrying folk who come from England across the Border that he thinks not it his daughter who came with thee, but two who wished to wed. They come at all hours of the night and day, and he has married us. I am thy wife."

The astonished man dropped her wrist, and she put her hands before her eyes and wept.

"Married!" cried Trenchon. "We two married!"

He looked with interest at the girl, but in the darkness could see nothing of her. The unheeded rain pelted on them both.

"Hast thou"—he hesitated—"hast thou some other lover, since you weep?"

The girl shook her head. "No one," she said, "comes near us. They fear my father."

"Then, if this be true, why dost thou weep? I am not considered so bad a fellow."

"I weep not for myself, but for thee, who through the kindness of thy heart hast been led into this trap. Believe me, it was not my intention."

"Judging from thy voice, my girl, and if thou favorest thy mother, as I think, whom I remember well, this is a trap that I shall make little effort to get my foot out of. But thou art dripping, and I stand chattering here. Once more I will arouse my father-in-law."

So saying, he stoutly rapped again with his stick upon the door.

Once more the window was pushed up, and again the angry head appeared.

"Get you gone!" cried the maddened blacksmith, but before he could say anything further Trenchon cried out:

"It is thy daughter here who waits. Open the door, thou limb of hell, or I will burst it in and cast thee out as thou hast done thy daughter."

The blacksmith, who had never in his life been spoken to in tones or words like these, was so amazed that he could neither speak nor act, but one stout kick against the door so shook the fabric that he speedily saw another such would break into his domicile; so, leaving the window open that his curses might the better reach them, the blacksmith came down and threw the barrier from the door, flinging it open and standing on the threshold so as to bar all ingress.

"Out of the way," cried Trenchon, roughly placing his hand on the other's breast with apparent lightness, but with a push that sent him staggering into the room.

The young man pulled the girl in after him and closed the door.

"Thou knowest the way," he whispered. "Strike thou a light."

The trembling girl lit a candle, and as it shone upon her face Trenchon gave a deep sigh of happiness and relief. No girl in the village could be more fair.

The blacksmith stood, his fingers clenched with rage; but he looked with hesitation and respect upon the burly form of the prizefighter. Yet the old man did not flinch.

"Throw aside thy stick," he cried, "or wait until I can get me another."

Trenchon flung his stick into the corner.

"Oh! oh!" cried the girl, clasping her hands. "You must not fight." But she appealed to her husband and not to her father, which caused a glow of satisfaction to rise from the heart of the young man.

"Get thee out of this house," cried her father, fiercely, turning upon her.

"Talk not thus to my wife," said Trenchon, advancing upon him.

"Thy wife?" cried the blacksmith, in amaze.

"My wife," repeated the young man with emphasis. "They tell me, blacksmith, that thou art strong. That thou art brutal I know, but thy strength I doubt. Come to me and test it."

The old man sprang upon him, and the Bruiser caught him by the elbows and held him helpless as a child. He pressed him up against the wall, pushed his wrists together, and clasped them both in his one gigantic hand. Then, placing the other on the blacksmith's shoulder, he put his weight upon him, and the blacksmith, cursing but helpless, sank upon his knees.

"Now, thou hardened sinner," cried the Bruiser, bending over him. "Beg from thy daughter on thy knees for a night's shelter in this house. Beg, or I will thrust thy craven face against the floor."

The girl clung to her newly-found husband, and entreated him not to hurt her father.

"I shall not hurt him if he do but speak. If he has naught but curses on his lips, why then those lips must kiss the flags that are beneath him. Speak out, blacksmith: what hast thou to say?"

"I beg for shelter," said the conquered man.

Instantly the Bruiser released him.

"Get thee to bed," he said, and the old man slunk away.

"Wife," said Abel Trenchon, opening his arms, "I have come all the way from London for thee. I knew not then what drew me north, but now I know that One wiser than me led my steps hither. As far as erring man may promise I do promise thee that thou shalt ne'er regret being cast out this night into the storm."



THE RAID ON MELLISH.

Some newspapers differ from others. One peculiarity about the Argus was the frequency with which it changed its men. Managing editors came who were going to revolutionize the world and incidentally the Argus, but they were in the habit of disappearing to give place to others who also disappeared. Newspaper men in that part of the country never considered themselves full-fledged unless they had had a turn at managing the Argus. If you asked who was at the head of the Argus the answer would very likely be: "Well, So-and-so was managing it this morning. I don't know who is running it this afternoon."

Perhaps the most weird period in the history of the Argus was when the owners imported a crank from Pittsburg and put him in as local editor, over the heads of the city staff. His name was McCrasky, christened Angus or Archie, I forget which, at this period of time. In fact, his Christian name was always a moot point; some of the reporters saying it was Angus and others Archie, no one having the courage to ask him. Anyhow, he signed himself A. McCrasky. He was a good man, which was rather an oddity on the staff, and puzzled the reporters not a little. Most of his predecessors had differed much from each other, but they were all alike in one thing, and that was profanity. They expressed disapproval in language that made the hardened printers' towel in the composing room shrink.

McCrasky's great point was that the local pages of the paper should have a strong moral influence on the community. He knocked the sporting editor speechless by telling him that they would have no more reports of prize-fights. Poor Murren went back to the local room, sat down at his table and buried his head in his hands. Every man on a local staff naturally thinks the paper is published mainly to give his department a show, and Murren considered a fight to a finish as being of more real importance to the world than a presidential election. The rest of the boys tried to cheer him up. "A fine state of things," said Murren bitterly. "Think of the scrap next week between the California Duffer and Pigeon Billy and no report of it in the Argus! Imagine the walk- over for the other papers. What in thunder does he think people want to read?"

But there was another surprise in store for the boys. McCrasky assembled them all in his room and held forth to them. He suddenly sprung a question on the criminal reporter—so suddenly that Thompson, taken unawares, almost spoke the truth.

"Do you know of any gambling houses in this city?"

Thompson caught his breath and glanced quickly at Murren.

"No," he said at last. "I don't, but perhaps the religious editor does. Better ask him."

The religious editor smiled and removed his corn-cob pipe.

"There aren't any," he said. "Didn't you know it was against the law to keep a gambling house in this state? Yes, sir!" Then he put his corn- cob pipe back in its place.

McCrasky was pleased to see that his young men knew so little of the wickedness of a great city; nevertheless he was there to give them some information, so he said quietly:

"Certainly it is against the law; but many things that are against the law flourish in a city like this. Now I want you to find out before the week is past how many gambling houses there are and where they are located. When you are sure of your facts we will organize a raid and the news will very likely be exclusive, for it will be late at night and the other papers may not hear of it."

"Suppose," said the religious editor, with a twinkle in his eye, as he again removed his corn-cob, "that—assuming such places to exist—you found some representatives of the other papers there? They are a bad lot, the fellows on the other papers."

"If they are there," said the local editor, "they will go to prison."

"They won't mind that, if they can write something about it," said Murren gloomily. In his opinion the Argus was going to the dogs.

"Now, Thompson," said McCrasky, "you as criminal reporter must know a lot of men who can give you particulars for a first-rate article on the evils of gambling. Get it ready for Saturday's paper—a column and a half, with scare heads. We must work up public opinion."

When the boys got back into the local room again, Murren sat with his head in his hands, while Thompson leaned back in his chair and laughed.

"Work up public opinion," he said. "Mac had better work up his own knowledge of the city streets, and not put Bolder avenue in the East End, as he did this morning."

The religious editor was helping himself to tobacco from Murren's drawer. "Are you going to put Mellish on his guard?" he asked Thompson.

"I don't just know what I'm going to do," said Thompson; "are you?"

"I'll think about it," replied the R. E. "Beastly poor tobacco, this of yours, Murren. Why don't you buy cut plug?"

"You're not compelled to smoke it," said the sporting editor, without raising his head.

"I am when mine is out, and the other fellows keep their drawers locked."

Thompson dropped in on Mellish, the keeper of the swell gambling rooms, to consult with him on the article for Saturday's paper. Mellish took a great interest in it, and thought it would do good. He willingly gave Thompson several instances where the vice had led to ruin of promising young men.

"All men gamble in some way or another," said Mellish meditatively. "Some take it one way and some another. It is inherent in human nature, like original sin. The beginning of every business is a gamble. If I had $30,000 I would rather run my chance of doubling it at these tables here than I would, for instance, by starting a new newspaper or putting it on wheat or in railway stocks. Take a land boom, for instance, such as there was in California or at Winnipeg—the difference between putting your money in a thing like that or going in for legitimate gambling is that, in the one case, you are sure to lose your cash, while in the other you have a chance of winning some. I hold that all kinds of gambling are bad, unless a man can easily afford to lose what he stakes. The trouble is that gambling affects some people like liquor. I knew a man once who——" but you can read the whole article if you turn up the back numbers of the Argus.

Thompson told Mellish about McCrasky. Mellish was much interested, and said he would like to meet the local editor. He thought the papers should take more interest in the suppression of gambling dens than they did, and for his part he said he would like to see them all stopped, his own included. "Of course," he added, "I could shut up my shop, but it would simply mean that someone else would open another, and I don't think any man ever ran such a place fairer than I do."

McCrasky called on the chief of police, and introduced himself as the local editor of the Argus.

"Oh," said the chief, "has Gorman gone, then?"

"I don't know about Gorman," said McCrasky; "the man I succeeded was Finnigan. I believe he is in Cincinnati now."

When the chief learned the purport of the local editor's visit he became very official and somewhat taciturn. He presumed that there were gambling houses in the city. If there were, they were very quiet and no complaints ever reached his ears. There were many things, he said, that it was impossible to suppress, and the result of attempted suppression was to drive the evil deeper down. He seemed to be in favor rather of regulating, than of attempting the impossible; still, if McCrasky brought him undoubted evidence that a gambling house was in operation, he would consider it his duty to make a raid on it. He advised McCrasky to go very cautiously about it, as the gamblers had doubtless many friends who would give a tip and so frustrate a raid, perhaps letting somebody in for damages. McCrasky said he would be careful.

Chance played into the hands of McCrasky and "blew in" on him a man who little recked what he was doing when he entered the local editor's room. Gus Hammerly, sport and man-about-town, dropped into the Argus office late one night to bring news of an "event" to the sporting editor. He knew his way about in the office, and, finding Murren was not in, he left the item on his table. Then he wandered into the local editor's room. The newspaper boys all liked Hammerly, and many a good item they got from him. They never gave him away, and he saw that they never got left, as the vernacular is.

"Good-evening. You're the new local editor, I take it. I've just left a little item for Murren, I suppose he's not in from the wrestle yet. My name's Hammerly. All the boys know me and I've known in my time fourteen of your predecessors, so I may as well know you. You're from Pittsburg, I hear."

"Yes. Sit down, Mr. Hammerly. Do you know Pittsburg at all?"

"Oh, yes. Borden, who keeps the gambling den on X street, is an old friend of mine. Do you happen to know how old Borden's getting along?"

"Yes, his place was raided and closed up by the police."

"That's just the old man's luck. Same thing in Kansas City."

"By the way, Mr. Hammerly, do you know of any gambling houses in this city?"

"Why, bless you, haven't the boys taken you round yet? Well, now, that's inhospitable. Mellish's is the best place in town. I'm going up there now. If you come along with me I'll give you the knock-down at the door and you'll have no trouble after that."

"I'll go with you," said McCrasky, reaching for his hat, and so the innocent Hammerly led the lamb into the lion's den.

McCrasky, unaccustomed to the sight, was somewhat bewildered with the rapidity of the play. There was a sort of semicircular table, around the outside rim of which were sitting as many men as could be comfortably placed there. A man at the inside of the table handled the cards. He flicked out one to each player, face downward, with an expertness and speed that dazzled McCrasky. Next he dealt out one to each player face upward and people put sums of money on the table beside their cards, after looking at them. There was another deal and so on, but the stranger found it impossible to understand or follow the game. He saw money being raked in and paid out rapidly and over the whole affair was a solemn decorum that he had not been prepared for. He had expected fierce oaths and the drawing of revolvers.

"Here, Mellish," said the innocent Hammerly, "let me introduce you to the new local editor of the Argus. I didn't catch your name," he said in a whisper.

"My name's McCrasky."

"Mr. McCrasky; Mr. Mellish. Mellish is proprietor here and you'll find him a first-rate fellow."

"I am pleased to meet you," said Mellish quietly; "any friend of Hammerly's is welcome. Make yourself at home."

Edging away from the two, Mellish said in a quick whisper to Sotty, the bartender: "Go and tell the doorkeeper to warn Thompson, or any of the rest of the Argus boys, that their boss is in here."

At 12 o'clock that night the local editor sat in his room. "Is that you, Thompson?" he shouted, as he heard a step.

"Yes, sir;" answered Thompson, coming into the presence.

"Shut the door, Thompson. Now I have a big thing on for to-night, but it must be done quietly. I've unearthed a gambling den in full blast. It will be raided to-night at 2 o'clock. I want you to be on the ground with Murren; will you need anybody else?"

"Depends on how much you wish to make of it."

"I want to make it the feature of to-morrow's paper. I think we three can manage, but bring some of the rest if you like. The place is run by a man named Mellish. Now, if you boys kept your eyes open you would know more of what is going on in your own city than you do."

"We haven't all had the advantage of metropolitan training," said Thompson humbly.

"I will go there with the police. You and Murren had better be on the ground, but don't go too soon, and don't make yourselves conspicuous or they might take alarm. Here is the address. You had better take it down."

"Oh, I'll find the place all——" Then Thompson thought a moment and pulled himself together. "Thanks," he said, carefully noting down the street and number.

The detachment of police drew up in front of the place a few minutes before 2 o'clock. The streets were deserted, and so silent were the blue coats that the footsteps of a belated wayfarer sounded sharply in the night air from the stone pavement of a distant avenue.

"Are you sure," said McCrasky to the man in charge of the police, "that there is not a private entrance somewhere?"

"Certainly there is," was the impatient reply: "Sergeant McCollum and four men are stationed in the alley behind. We know our business, sir."

McCrasky thought this was a snub, and he was right. He looked around in the darkness for his reporters. He found them standing together in a doorway on the opposite side of the street.

"Been here long?" he whispered.

Murren was gloomy and did not answer. The religious editor removed his corn-cob and said briefly; "About ten minutes, sir." Thompson was gazing with interest at the dark building across the way.

"You've seen nobody come out?"

"Nobody. On the contrary, about half a dozen have gone up that stairway."

"Is that the place, sir?" asked Thompson with the lamb-like innocence of the criminal reporter.

"Yes, upstairs there."

"What did I tell you?" said the religious editor. "Thompson insisted it was next door."

"Come along," said McCrasky, "the police are moving at last."

A big bell in the neighborhood solemnly struck two slow strokes, and all over the city the hour sounded in various degrees of tone and speed. A whistle rang out and was distantly answered. The police moved quickly and quietly up the stairway.

"Have you tickets, gentlemen," asked the man at the door politely; "this is a private assembly."

"The police," said the sergeant shortly, "stand aside."

If the police were astonished at the sight which met their gaze, their faces did not show it. But McCrasky had not such control over his features and he looked dumbfounded. The room was the same, undoubtedly, but there was not the vestige of a card to be seen. There were no tables, and even the bar had disappeared. The chairs were nicely arranged and most of them were occupied. At the further end of the room Pony Rowell stood on a platform or on a box or some elevation, and his pale, earnest face was lighted up with the enthusiasm of the public speaker. He was saying: "On the purity of the ballot, gentlemen, depends the very life of the republic. That every man should be permitted, without interference or intimidation, to cast his vote, and that every vote so cast should be honestly counted is, I take it, the desire of all who now listen to my words." (Great applause, during which Pony took a sip from a glass that may have contained water.)

The police had come in so quietly that no one, apparently, had noticed their entrance, except that good man Mellish, who hurried forward to welcome the intruders.

"Will you take a seat?" he asked. "We are having a little political talk from Mr. Rowell, sergeant."

"Rather an unusual hour, Mr. Mellish," said the sergeant grimly.

"It is a little late," admitted Mellish, as if the idea had not occurred to him before.

The police who had come in by the back entrance appeared at the other end of the room and it was evident that Rowell's oration had come to an untimely end. Pony looked grieved and hurt, but said nothing.

"We will have to search the premises, Mr. Mellish," said the sergeant.

Mellish gave them every assistance, but nothing was found.

As the four men walked back together to the Argus office, McCrasky was very indignant.

"We will expose the police to-morrow," he said. "They evidently gave Mellish the tip."

"I don't think so," said Thompson. "We will say nothing about it."

"You forget yourself, Mr. Thompson. It rests with me to say what shall go on the local page. Not with you."

"I don't forget myself," answered Thompson sadly; "I've just remembered myself. The Directors of the Argus appointed me local editor yesterday. Didn't they tell you about it? That's just like them. They forgot to mention the fact to Corbin that he had been superseded and the manager went off fishing after appointing Jonsey local editor, so that for a week we had two local editors, each one countermanding the orders of the other. It was an awful week. You remember it, Murren?" Murren's groan seemed to indicate that his recollection of the exciting time was not a pleasant memory.

"In case of doubt," murmured the religious editor, this time without removing his corn-cob, "obey the orders of the new man where the Argus is concerned. Thompson, old man, I'm wid you. When did the blow fall?"

"Yesterday afternoon," said Thompson, almost with a sob; "I'll be dismissed within a month, so I am rather sorry. I liked working on the Argus—as a reporter. I never looked for such ill luck as promotion. But we all have our troubles, haven't we, Mac?"

McCrasky did not answer. He is now connected with some paper in Texas.



STRIKING BACK.

George Streeter was in Paris, because he hoped and expected to meet Alfred Davison there. He knew that Davison was going to be in Paris for at least a fortnight, and he had a particular reason for wishing to come across him in the streets of that city rather than in the streets of London.

Streeter was a young author who had published several books, and who was getting along as well as could be expected, until suddenly he met a check. The check was only a check as far as his own self-esteem was concerned; for it did not in the least retard the sale of his latest book, but rather appeared to increase it. The check was unexpected, for where he had looked for a caress, he received a blow. The blow was so well placed, and so vigorous, that at first it stunned him. Then he became unreasonably angry. He resolved to strike back.

The review of his book in the Argus was vigorously severe, and perhaps what maddened him more than anything else was the fact that, in spite of his self-esteem he realized the truth of the criticism. If his books had been less successful, or if he had been newer as an author, he might possibly have set himself out to profit by the keen thrusts given him by the Argus. He might have remembered that although Tennyson struck back at Christopher North, calling him rusty, crusty, and musty, yet the poet eliminated from later editions all blemishes which musty Christopher had pointed out.

Streeter resolved to strike back with something more tangible than a sarcastic verse. He quite admitted, even to himself, that a critic had every right to criticise—that was what he was for—but he claimed that a man who pretended to be an author's friend and who praised his books to his face, had no right to go behind his back and pen a criticism so scathing as that which appeared in the Argus: for Streeter knew that Alfred Davison had written the criticism in the Argus, and Davison had posed as his friend; and had pretended as well, that he had a great admiration for Streeter's books.

As Streeter walked down the Boulevard des Italians, he saw, seated in front of a cafe, the man whom he hoped to meet: and furthermore, he was pleased to see that the man had a friend with him. The recognition of author and critic was mutual.

"Hallo, Streeter," cried Davison; "when did you come over?"

"I left London yesterday," answered Streeter.

"Then sit down and have something with us," said Davison, cordially. "Streeter, this is my friend Harmon. He is an exile and a resident in Paris, and, consequently, likes to meet his countrymen."

"In that case," said Streeter, "he is probably well acquainted with the customs of the place?"

"Rather!" returned Davison; "he has become so much of a Frenchman—he has been so contaminated, if I may put it that way—that I believe quite recently he was either principal or second in a duel. By the way, which was it, Harmon?"

"Merely a second," answered the other.

"I don't believe in duelling myself," continued Davison: "it seems to me an idiotic custom, and so futile."

"I don't agree with you," replied Streeter, curtly; "there is no reason why a duel should be futile, and there seem to be many reasons why a duel might be fought. There are many things, worse than crimes, which exist in all countries, and for which there is no remedy except calling a man out; misdemeanors, if I may so term them, that the law takes no cognisance of; treachery, for instance;—a person pretending to be a man's friend, and then the first chance he gets, stabbing him in the back."

Harmon nodded his approval of these sentiments, while Davison said jauntily:

"Oh, I don't know about that! It seems to me these things, which I suppose undoubtedly exist, should not be made important by taking much notice of them. What will you have to drink, Streeter?"

"Bring me a liqueur of brandy," said Streeter to the garcon who stood ready to take the order.

When the waiter returned with a small glass, into which he poured the brandy with the deftness of a Frenchman, filling it so that not a drop more could be added, and yet without allowing the glass to overflow, Streeter pulled out his purse.

"No, no!" cried Davison; "you are not going to pay for this—you are drinking with me."

"I pay for my own drinks," said Streeter, surlily.

"Not when I invite you to drink with me," protested the critic. "I pay for this brandy."

"Very well, take it, then!" said Streeter, picking up the little glass and dashing the contents in the face of Davison.

Davison took out his handkerchief.

"What the devil do you mean by that, Streeter?" he asked, as the color mounted to his brow.

Streeter took out his card and pencilled a word or two on the pasteboard.

"There," he said, "is my Paris address. If you do not know what I mean by that, ask your friend here; he will inform you."

And with that the novelist arose, bowed to the two, and departed.

When he returned to his hotel, after a stroll along the brilliantly- lighted Boulevards, he found waiting for him Mr. Harmon and a Frenchman.

"I had no idea you would come so soon," said Streeter, "otherwise I would not have kept you waiting."

"It does not matter," replied Harmon; "we have not waited long. Affairs of this kind require prompt action. An insult lasts but twenty-four hours, and my friend and principal has no desire to put you to the inconvenience of repeating your action of this evening. We are taking it for granted that you have a friend prepared to act for you; for your conduct appeared to be premeditated."

"You are quite right," answered Streeter; "I have two friends to whom I shall be pleased to introduce you. Come this way, if you will be so kind."

The preliminaries were speedily arranged, and the meeting was to take place next morning at daylight, with pistols.

Now that everything was settled, the prospect did not look quite so pleasant to Streeter as it had done when he left London. Davison had asked for no explanation; but that, of course, could be accounted for, because this critical sneak must be well aware of the reason for the insult. Still, Streeter had rather expected that he would perhaps have simulated ignorance, and on receiving enlightenment might have avoided a meeting to apologizing.

Anyhow, Streeter resolved to make a night of it. He left his friends to arrange for a carriage, and see to all that was necessary, while he donned his war-paint and departed for a gathering to which he had been invited, and where he was to meet many of his countrymen and countrywomen, in a fashionable part of Paris.

His hostess appeared to be overjoyed at seeing him.

"You are so late," she said, "that I was afraid something had occurred to keep you from coming altogether."

"Nothing could have prevented me from coming," said Streeter, gallantly, "where Mrs. Woodford is hostess!"

"Oh, that is very nice of you, Mr. Streeter!" answered the lady; "but I must not stand here talking with you, for I have promised to introduce you to Miss Neville, who wishes very much to meet you. She is a great admirer of yours, and has read all your books."

"There are not very many of them," said Streeter, with a laugh; "and such as they are, I hope Miss Neville thinks more of them than I do myself."

"Oh, we all know how modest authors are!" replied his hostess, leading him away to be introduced.

Miss Neville was young and pretty, and she was evidently pleased to meet the rising young author.

"I have long wanted to see you," she said, "to have a talk with you about your books."

"You are very kind," said Streeter, "but perhaps we might choose something more profitable to talk about?"

"I am not so sure of that. Doubtless you have been accustomed to hear only the nice things people say about you. That is the misfortune of many authors."

"It is a misfortune," answered Streeter.

"What a writer needs is somebody to tell him the truth."

"Ah!" said Miss Neville, "that is another thing I am not so sure about. Mrs. Woodford has told you, I suppose, that I have read all your books? Did she add that I detested them?"

Even Streeter was not able to conceal the fact that this remark caused him some surprise. He laughed uneasily, and said:

"On the contrary, Mrs. Woodford led me to believe that you had liked them."

The girl leaned back in her chair, and looked at him with half-closed eyes.

"Of course," she said, "Mrs. Woodford does not know. It is not likely that I would tell her I detested your books while I asked for an introduction to you. She took it for granted that I meant to say pleasant things to you, whereas I had made up my mind to do the exact reverse. No one would be more shocked than Mrs. Woodford—unless, perhaps, it is yourself—if she knew I was going to speak frankly with you."

"I am not shocked," said the young man, seriously; "I recognize that there are many things in my books that are blemishes."

"Of course you don't mean that," said the frank young woman; "because if you did you would not repeat the faults in book after book."

"A man can but do his best," said Streeter, getting annoyed in spite of himself, for no man takes kindly to the candid friend. "A man can but do his best, as Hubert said, whose grandsire drew a longbow at Hastings."

"Yes," returned Miss Neville, "a man can but do his best, although we should remember that the man who said that, said it just before he was defeated. What I feel is that you are not doing your best, and that you will not do your best until some objectionable person like myself has a good serious talk with you."

"Begin the serious talk," said Streeter; "I am ready and eager to listen."

"Did you read the review of your latest book which appeared in the Argus?"

"Did I?" said Streeter, somewhat startled—the thought of the meeting that was so close, which he had forgotten for the moment, flashing over him. "Yes, I did; and I had the pleasure of meeting the person who wrote it this evening."

Miss Neville almost jumped in her chair.

"Oh, I did not intend you to know that!" she said. "Who told you? How did you find out that I wrote reviews for the Argus?"

"You!" cried Streeter, astonished in his turn. "Do you mean to say that you wrote that review?"

Miss Neville sank back in her chair with a sigh.

"There!" she said, "my impetuosity has, as the Americans say, given me away. After all, you did not know I was the writer!"

"I thought Davison was the writer. I had it on the very best authority."

"Poor Davison!" said Miss Neville, laughing, "why, he is one of the best and staunchest friends you have: and so am I, for that matter— indeed, I am even more your friend than Mr. Davison; for I think you can do good work, while Mr. Davison is foolish enough to believe you are doing it."

At this point in the conversation Streeter looked hurriedly at his watch.

"Ah! I see," said Miss Neville; "this conversation is not to your taste. You are going to plead an appointment—as if anyone could have an appointment at this hour in the morning!"

"Nevertheless," said Streeter, "I have; and I must bid you good-bye. But I assure you that my eyes have been opened, and that I have learned a lesson to-night which I will not soon forget. I hope I may have the pleasure of meeting you again, and continuing this conversation. Perhaps some time I may tell you why I have to leave."

Streeter found his friends waiting for him. He knew it was no use trying to see Davison before the meeting. There was a long drive ahead of them, and it was grey daylight when they reached the ground, where they found the other party waiting.

Each man took his place and the pistol that was handed to him. When the word "Fire!" was given, Streeter dropped his hand to his side. Davison stood with his pistol still pointed, but he did not fire.

"Why don't you shoot, George?" said Davison.

Harmon, at this point, rebuked his principal, and said he must have no communication with the other except through a second.

"Oh!" said Davison, impatiently, "I don't pretend to know the rules of this idiotic game!"

Streeter stepped forward.

"I merely wished to give you the opportunity of firing at me if you cared to do so," he said; "and now I desire to apologize for my action at the cafe. I may say that what I did was done under a misapprehension. Anything that I can do to make reparation I am willing to do."

"Oh, that's all right!" said Davison; "nothing more need be said. I am perfectly satisfied. Let us get back to the city; I find it somewhat chilly out here."

"And yet," said Harmon, with a sigh, "Englishmen have the cheek to talk of the futility of French duels!"



CRANDALL'S CHOICE.

John Crandall sat at his office desk and thought the situation over. Everybody had gone and he was in the office alone. Crandall was rather tired and a little sleepy, so he was inclined to take a gloomy view of things. Not that there was anything wrong with his business; in fact, it was in a first-rate condition so far as it went, but it did not go far enough; that was what John thought as he brooded over his affairs. He was making money, of course, but the trouble was that he was not making it fast enough.

As he thought of these things John gradually and imperceptibly went to sleep, and while he slept he dreamt a dream. It would be quite easy to pretend that the two persons who came to him in the vision, actually entered the office and that he thought them regular customers or something of that sort, while at the end of the story, when everybody was bewildered, the whole matter might be explained by announcing the fact that it was all a dream, but this account being a true and honest one, no such artifice will be used and at the very beginning the admission is made that John was the victim of a vision.

In this dream two very beautiful ladies approached him. One was richly dressed and wore the most dazzling jewelry. The other was clad in plain attire. At first, the dreaming Mr. Crandall thought, or dreamt he thought, that the richly dressed one was the prettier. She was certainly very attractive, but, as she came closer, John imagined that much of her beauty was artificial. He said to himself that she painted artistically perhaps, but at any rate she laid it on rather thick.

About the other there was no question. She was a beauty, and what loveliness she possessed was due to the bounties of Providence and not to the assistance of the chemist. She was the first to speak.

"Mr. Crandall," she said, in the sweetest of voices, "we have come here together so that you may choose between us. Which one will you have?"

"Bless me," said Crandall, so much surprised at the unblushing proposal that he nearly awoke himself, "bless me, don't you know that I am married?"

"Oh, that doesn't matter," answered the fair young lady, with the divinest of smiles.

"Doesn't it?" said Mr. Crandall. "If you had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Crandall I think you would find that it did—very much indeed."

"But we are not mortals; we are spirits."

"Oh, are you? Well, of course that makes a difference," replied Mr. Crandall much relieved, for he began to fear from the turn the conversation had taken that he was in the presence of two writers of modern novels.

"This lady," continued the first speaker, "is the spirit of wealth. If you choose her you will be a very rich man before you die."

"Oh, ho!" cried Crandall. "Are you sure of that?"

"Quite certain."

"Well, then I won't be long making my choice. I choose her, of course."

"But you don't know who I am. Perhaps when you know, you may wish to reverse your decision."

"I suppose you are the spirit of power or of fame or something of that sort. I am not an ambitious person; money is good enough for me."

"No, I am the spirit of health. Think well before you make your choice. Many have rejected me, and afterwards, have offered all their possessions fruitlessly, hoping to lure me to them."

"Ah," said Mr. Crandall, with some hesitation. "You are a very pleasant young person to have around the house. But why cannot I have both of you? How does that strike you?"

"I am very sorry, but I am not permitted to give you the choice of both."

"Why is that? Many people are allowed to choose both."

"I know that; still we must follow our instructions."

"Well, if that is the case, without wishing to offend you in the least, I think I will stand by my first choice. I choose wealth."

As he said this the other lady advanced toward him and smiled somewhat triumphantly as she held out her hand. Crandall grasped it and the first spirit sighed. Just as the spirit of wealth seemed about to speak, there was a shake at the office door, and Mr. John Crandall saw the spirits fade away. He rubbed his eyes and said to himself: "By George! I have been asleep. What a remarkably vivid dream that was."

As he yawned and stretched his arms above his head, the impatient rattle at the door told him that at least was not a part of the dream.

He arose and unlocked the door.

"Hello, Mr. Bullion," he said, as that solid man came in. "You're late, aren't you."

"Why, for that matter, so are you. You must have been absorbed in your accounts or you would have heard me sooner. I thought I would have to shake the place down."

"Well, you know, the policeman sometimes tries the door and I thought at first it was he. Won't you sit down?"

"Thanks! Don't care if I do. Busy tonight?"

"Just got through."

"Well, how are things going?"

"Oh, slowly as usual. Slowly because we have not facilities enough, but we've got all the work we can do."

"Does it pay you for what work you do?"

"Certainly. I'm not in this business as a philanthropist, you know."

"No. I didn't suppose you were. Now, see here, Crandall, I think you have a good thing of it here and one of the enterprises that if extended would develop into a big business."

"I know it. But what am I to do? I've practically no capital to enlarge the business, and I don't care to mortgage what I have and pay a high rate of interest when, just at the critical moment, we might have a commercial crisis and I would then lose everything."

"Quite right; quite right, and a safe principle. Well, that's what I came to see you about. I have had my eye on you and this factory for some time. Now, if you want capital I will furnish it on the condition that an accountant of mine examines the books and finds everything promising a fair return for enlarging the business. Of course I take your word for the state of affairs all right enough, but business is business, you know, and besides I want to get an expert opinion on how much enlargement it will stand. I suppose you could manage a manufactory ten or twenty times larger as easily as you do this one."

"Quite," said Mr. Crandall.

"Then what do you say to my coming round to-morrow at 9 with my man?"

"That would suit me all right."

Mr. John Crandall walked home a very much elated man that night.

* * * * *

"Well, doctor," said the patient in a very weak voice, "what is the verdict!"

"It is just as I said before. You will have to take a rest. You know I predicted this breakdown."

"Can't you give me something that will fix me up temporarily? It is almost imperative that I should stay on just now."

"Of course it is. It has been so for the last five years. You forget that in that time you have been fixed up temporarily on several occasions. Now, I will get you 'round so that you can travel in a few days and then I insist on a sea voyage or a quiet time somewhere on the continent. You will have to throw off business cares entirely. There are no ifs or buts about it."

"Look here, doctor. I don't see how I am to leave at this time. I have been as bad as this a dozen times before. You know that. I'm just a little fagged out and when I go back to the office I can take things easier. You see, we have a big South American contract on hand that I am very anxious about. New business, you know."

"I suppose you could draw your cheque for a pretty large amount, Mr. Crandall."

"Yes, I can. If money can bridge the thing over, I will arrange it."

"Well, money can't. What I wanted to say was that if, instead of having a large sum in the bank, you had overdrawn your account about as much as the bank would stand, would you be surprised if your cheque were not honored?"

"No, I wouldn't."

"Well, that is your state physically. You've overdrawn your vitality account. You've got to make a deposit. You must take a vacation."

"Any other time, doctor. I'll go sure, as soon as this contract is off. Upon my word I will. You needn't shake your head. A vacation just now would only aggravate the difficulty. I wouldn't have a moment's peace knowing this South American business might be bungled. I'd worry myself to death."

* * * * *

The funeral of Mr. Crandall was certainly one of the most splendid spectacles the city had seen for many a day. The papers all spoke highly of the qualities of the dead manufacturer, whose growth had been typical of the growth of the city. The eloquent minister spoke of the inscrutable ways of Providence in cutting off a man in his prime, and in the very height of his usefulness.



THE FAILURE OF BRADLEY.

The skater lightly laughs and glides, Unknowing that beneath the ice On which he carves his fair device A stiffened corpse in silence glides.

It glareth upward at his play; Its cold, blue, rigid fingers steal Beneath the tracings of his heel. It floats along and floats away.

—Unknown Poem.

"If I only had the courage," said Bradley, as he looked over the stone parapet of the embankment at the dark waters of the Thames as they flashed for a moment under the glitter of the gaslight and then disappeared in the black night to flash again farther down.

"Very likely I would struggle to get out again the moment I went over," he muttered to himself. "But if no help came it would all be done with, in a minute. Two minutes perhaps. I'll warrant those two minutes would seem an eternity. I would see a hundred ways of making a living, if I could only get out again. Why can't I see one now while I am out. My father committed suicide, why shouldn't I? I suppose it runs in the family. There seems to come a time when it is the only way out. I wonder if he hesitated? I'm a coward, that's the trouble."

After a moment's hesitation the man slowly climbed on the top of the stone wall and then paused again. He looked with a shudder at the gloomy river.

"I'll do it," he cried aloud, and was about to slide down, when a hand grasped his arm and a voice said:

"What will you do?"

In the light of the gas-lamp Bradley saw a man whose face seemed familiar and although he thought rapidly, "Where have I seen that man before?" he could not place him.

"Nothing," answered Bradley sullenly.

"That's right," was the answer. "I'd do nothing of that kind, if I were you."

"Of course you wouldn't. You have everything that I haven't—food, clothes, shelter. Certainly you wouldn't. Why should you?"

"Why should you, if it comes to that?"

"Because ten shillings stands between me and a job. That's why, if you want to know. There's eight shillings railway fare, a shilling for something to eat to-night and a shilling for something in the morning. But I haven't the ten shillings. So that's why."

"If I give you the ten shillings what assurance have I that you will not go and get drunk on it?"

"None at all. I have not asked you for ten shillings, nor for one. I have simply answered your question."

"That is true. I will give you a pound if you will take it, and so if unfortunately you spent half of it in cheering yourself, you will still have enough left to get that job. What is the job?"

"I am a carpenter."

"You are welcome to the pound."

"I will take it gladly. But, mind you, I am not a beggar. I will take it if you give me your address, so that I may send it back to you when I earn it."

By this time Bradley had come down on the pavement. The other man laughed quietly.

"I cannot agree to that. You are welcome to the money. More if you like. I merely doubled the sum you mentioned to provide for anything unseen."

"Unless you let me return it, I will not take the money."

"I have perfect confidence in your honesty. If I had not, I would not offer the money. I cannot give you my address, or, rather, I will not. If you will pay the pound to some charity or will give it to someone who is in need, I am more than satisfied. If you give it to the right man and tell him to do the same, the pound will do more good than ever it will in my pocket or in my usual way of spending it."

"But how are you to know I will do that?"

"I am considered rather a good judge of men. I am certain you will do what you say."

"I'll take the money. I doubt if there is anyone in London to-night who needs it much worse than I do."

Bradley looked after the disappearing figure of the man who had befriended him.

"I have seen that man somewhere before," he said to himself. But in that he was wrong. He hadn't.

* * * * *

Wealth is most unevenly and most unfairly divided. All of us admit that, but few of us agree about the remedy. Some of the best minds of the century have wrestled with this question in vain. "The poor ye have always with you" is as true to-day as it was 1800 years ago. Where so many are in doubt, it is perhaps a comfort to meet men who have no uncertainty as to the cause and the remedy. Such a body of men met in a back room off Soho Square.

"We are waiting for you, Bradley," said the chairman, as the carpenter took his place and the doors were locked. He looked better than he had done a year before on the Thames embankment.

"I know I'm late, but I couldn't help it. They are rushing things at the exhibition grounds. The time is short now, and they are beginning to be anxious for fear everything will not be ready in time."

"That's it," said one of the small group, "we are slaves and must be late or early as our so-called masters choose."

"Oh, there is extra pay," said Bradley with a smile, as he took a seat.

"Comrades," said the chairman, rapping on the desk, "we will now proceed to business. The secret committee has met and made a resolution. After the lots are drawn it will be my task to inform the man chosen what the job is. It is desirable that as few as possible, even among ourselves, should know who the man is, who has drawn the marked paper. Perhaps it may be my own good fortune to be the chosen man. One of the papers is marked with a cross. Whoever draws that paper is to communicate with me at my room within two days. He is to come alone. It is commanded by the committee that no man is to look at his paper until he leaves this room and then to examine it in secret. He is bound by his oath to tell no one at any time whether or not he is the chosen man."

The papers were put into a hat and each man in the room drew one. The chairman put his in his pocket, as did the others. The doors were unlocked and each man went to his home, if he had one.

Next evening Bradley called at the room of the chairman and said: "There is the marked paper I drew last night."

* * * * *

The exhibition building was gay with bunting and was sonorous with the sounds of a band of music. The machinery that would not stop for six months was still motionless, for it was to be started in an hour's time by His Highness. His Highness and suite had not yet arrived but the building was crowded by a well-dressed throng of invited guests—the best in the land as far as fame, title or money was concerned. Underneath the grand stand where His Highness and the distinguished guests were to make speeches and where the finger of nobility was to press the electric button, Bradley walked anxiously about, with the same haggard look on his face that was there the night he thought of slipping into the Thames. The place underneath was a wilderness of beams and braces. Bradley's wooden tool chest stood on the ground against one of the timbers. The foremen came through and struck a beam or a brace here and there.

"Everything is all right," he said to Bradley. "There will be no trouble, even if it was put up in a hurry, and in spite of the strain that will be on it to-day."

Bradley was not so sure of that, but he said nothing. When the foreman left him alone, he cautiously opened the lid of his tool chest and removed the carpenter's apron which covered something in the bottom. This something was a small box with a clockwork arrangement and a miniature uplifted hammer that hung like the sword of Damocles over a little copper cap. He threw the apron over it again, closed the lid of the chest, leaned against one of the timbers, folded his arms and waited.

Presently there was a tremendous cheer and the band struck up. "He is coming," said Bradley to himself, closing his lips tighter. "Carpenter," cried the policeman putting in his head through the little wooden door at the foot of the stage, "come here, quick. You can get a splendid sight of His Highness as he comes up the passage." Bradley walked to the opening and gazed at the distinguished procession coming toward him. Suddenly he grasped the arm of the policeman like a vice.

"Who is that man in the robes—at the head of the procession?"

"Don't you know? That is His Highness."

Bradley gasped for breath. He recognized His Highness as the man he had met on the embankment.

"Thank you," he said to the policeman, who looked at him curiously. Then he went under the grand stand among the beams and braces and leaned against one of the timbers with knitted brows.

After a few moments he stepped to his chest, pulled off the apron and carefully lifted out the machine. With a quick jerk he wrenched off the little hammer and flung it from him. The machinery inside whirred for a moment with a soft purr like a clock running down. He opened the box and shook out into his apron a substance like damp sawdust. He seemed puzzled for a moment what to do with it. Finally he took it out and scattered it along the grass-grown slope of a railway cutting. Then he returned to his tool chest, took out a chisel and grimly felt its edge with his thumb.

* * * * *

It was admitted on all hands that His Highness never made a better speech in his life than on the occasion of the opening of that exhibition. He touched lightly on the country's unexampled prosperity, of which the marvelous collection within those walls was an indication. He alluded to the general contentment that reigned among the classes to whose handiwork was due the splendid examples of human skill there exhibited. His Highness was thankful that peace and contentment reigned over the happy land and he hoped they would long continue so to reign. Then there were a good many light touches of humor in the discourse— touches that are so pleasing when they come from people in high places. In fact, the chairman said at the club afterwards (confidentially, of course) that the man who wrote His Highness's speeches had in that case quite outdone himself.

* * * * *

The papers had very full accounts of the opening of the exhibition next morning, and perhaps because these graphic articles occupied so much space, there was so little room for the announcement about the man who committed suicide. The papers did not say where the body was found, except that it was near the exhibition buildings, and His Highness never knew that he made that excellent speech directly over the body of a dead man.



RINGAMY'S CONVERT.

Mr. Johnson Ringamy, the author, sat in his library gazing idly out of the window. The view was very pleasant, and the early morning sun brought out in strong relief the fresh greenness of the trees that now had on their early spring suits of foliage. Mr. Ringamy had been a busy man, but now, if he cared to take life easy, he might do so, for few books had had the tremendous success of his latest work. Mr. Ringamy was thinking about this, when the door opened, and a tall, intellectual-looking young man entered from the study that communicated with the library. He placed on the table the bunch of letters he had in his hand, and, drawing up a chair, opened a blank notebook that had, between the leaves, a lead pencil sharpened at both ends.

"Good morning, Mr. Scriver," said the author, also hitching up his chair towards the table. He sighed as he did so, for the fair spring prospect from the library window was much more attractive than the task of answering an extensive correspondence.

"Is there a large mail this morning, Scriver?"

"A good-sized one, sir. Many of them, however, are notes asking for your autograph."

"Enclose stamps, do they?"

"Most of them, sir; those that did not, I threw in the waste basket."

"Quite right. And as to the autographs you might write them this afternoon, if you have time."

"I have already done so, sir. I flatter myself that even your most intimate friend could not tell my version of your autograph from your own."

As he said this, the young man shoved towards the author a letter which he had written, and Mr. Ringamy looked at it critically.

"Very good, Scriver, very good indeed. In fact, if I were put in the witness-box I am not sure that I would be able to swear that this was not my signature. What's this you have said in the body of the letter about sentiment? Not making me write anything sentimental, I hope. Be careful, my boy, I don't want the newspapers to get hold of anything that they could turn into ridicule. They are too apt to do that sort of thing if they get half a chance."

"Oh, I think you will find that all right," said the young man; "still I thought it best to submit it to you before sending it off. You see the lady who writes has been getting up a 'Ringamy Club' in Kalamazoo, and she asks you to give her an autographic sentiment which they will cherish as the motto of the club. So I wrote the sentence, 'All classes of labor should have equal compensation.' If that won't do, I can easily change it.'

"Oh, that will do first rate—first rate."

"Of course it is awful rot, but I thought it would please the feminine mind."

"Awful what did you say, Mr. Scriver?"

"Well, slush—if that expresses it better. Of course, you don't believe any such nonsense."

Mr. Johnson Ringamy frowned as he looked at his secretary.

"I don't think I understand you," he said, at last.

"Well, look here, Mr. Ringamy, speaking now, not as a paid servant to his master, but——"

"Now, Scriver, I won't have any talk like that. There is no master or servant idea between us. There oughtn't to be between anybody. All men are free and equal."

"They are in theory, and in my eye, as I might say if I wanted to make it more expressive."

"Scriver, I cannot congratulate you on your expressive language, if I may call it so. But we are wandering from the argument. You were going to say that speaking as——Well, go on."

"I was going to say that, speaking as one reasonably sensible man to another, without any gammon about it; don't you think it is rank nonsense to hold that one class of labor should be as well compensated as another. Honestly now?"

The author sat back in his chair and gazed across the table at his secretary. Finally, he said:

"My dear Scriver, you can't really mean what you say. You know that I hold that all classes of labor should have exactly the same compensation. The miner, the blacksmith, the preacher, the postal clerk, the author, the publisher, the printer—yes, the man who sweeps out the office, or who polishes boots, should each share alike, if this world were what it should be—yes, and what it will be. Why, Scriver, you surely couldn't have read my book——"

"Read it? why, hang it, I wrote it."

"You wrote it? The deuce you did! I always thought I was the author of ——"

"So you are. But didn't I take it all down in shorthand, and didn't I whack it out on the type-writer, and didn't I go over the proof sheets with you. And yet you ask me if I have read it!"

"Oh, yes, quite right, I see what you mean. Well, if you paid as much attention to the arguments as you did to the mechanical production of the book, I should think you would not ask if I really meant what I said."

"Oh, I suppose you meant it all right enough—in a way—in theory, perhaps, but——"

"My dear sir, allow me to say that a theory which is not practical, is simply no theory at all. The great success of 'Gazing Upward,' has been due to the fact that it is an eminently practical work. The nationalization of everything is not a matter of theory. The ideas advocated in that book, can be seen at work at any time. Look at the Army, look at the Post Office."

"Oh, that's all right, looking at things in bulk. Let us come down to practical details. Detail is the real test of any scheme. Take this volume, 'Gazing Upward.' Now, may I ask how much this book has netted you up to date?"

"Oh, I don't know exactly. Somewhere in the neighborhood of L20,000."

"Very well then. Now let us look for a moment at the method by which that book was produced. You walked up and down this room with your hands behind your back, and dictated chapter after chapter, and I sat at this table taking it all down in shorthand. Then you went out and took the air while I industriously whacked it out on the type-writer."

"I wish you wouldn't say 'whacked,' Scriver. That's twice you've used it."

"All right:—typographical error—For 'whacked' read 'manipulated.' Then you looked over the type-written pages, and I erased and wrote in and finally got out a perfect copy. Now I worked as hard—probably harder—than you did, yet the success of that book was entirely due to you, and not to me. Therefore it is quite right that you should get L20,000 and that I should get two pounds a week. Come now, isn't it? Speaking as a man of common sense."

"Speaking exactly in that way I say no it is not right. If the world were properly ruled the compensation of author and secretary would have been exactly the same."

"Oh, well, if you go so far as that," replied the Secretary, "I have nothing more to say."

The author laughed, and the two men bent their energies to the correspondence. When the task was finished, Scriver said:

"I would like to get a couple of days off, Mr. Ringamy. I have some private business to attend to."

"When could you get back?"

"I'll report to you on Thursday morning."

"Very well, then. Not later than Thursday. I think I'll take a couple of days off myself."

* * * * *

On Thursday morning Mr. Johnson Ringamy sat in his library looking out of the window, but the day was not as pleasant as when he last gazed at the hills, and the woods, and green fields. A wild spring storm lashed the landscape, and rattled the raindrops against the pane. Mr. Ringamy waited for some time and then opened the study door and looked in. The little room was empty. He rang the bell, and the trim servant-girl appeared.

"Has Mr. Scriver come in yet?"

"No, sir, he haven't."

"Perhaps the rain has kept him."

"Mr. Scriver said that when you come back, sir, there was a letter on the table as was for you."

"Ah, so there is. Thank you, that will do."

The author opened the letter and read as follows:

"MY DEAR MR. RINGAMY,—Your arguments the other day fully convinced me that you were right, and I was wrong ("Ah! I thought they would," murmured the author). I have therefore taken a step toward putting your theories into practice. The scheme is an old one in commercial life, but new in its present application, so much so that I fear it will find no defenders except yourself, and I trust that now when I am far away ("Dear me, what does this mean!" cried the author) you will show any doubters that I acted on the principles which will govern the world when the theories of 'Gazing Upward' are put into practice. For fear that all might not agree with you at present, I have taken the precaution of going to that undiscovered country, from whose bourne no extradition treaty forces the traveler to return—sunny Spain. You said you could not tell my rendition of your signature from your own. Neither could the bank cashier. My exact mutation of your signature has enabled me to withdraw L10,000 from your bank account. Half the profits, you know. You can send future accumulations, for the book will continue to sell, to the address of "ADAM SCRIVER. "Poste Restant, Madrid, Spain"

Mr. Ringamy at once put the case in the hands of the detectives, where it still remains.



A SLIPPERY CUSTOMER.

When John Armstrong stepped off the train at the Union Station, in Toronto, Canada, and walked outside, a small boy accosted him.

"Carry your valise up for you, sir?"

"No, thank you," said Mr. Armstrong.

"Carry it up for ten cents, sir?"

"No."

"Take it up for five cents, sir?"

"Get out of my way, will you?"

The boy got out of the way, and John Armstrong carried the valise himself.

There was nearly half a million dollars in it, so Mr. Armstrong thought it best to be his own porter.

* * * * *

In the bay window of one of the handsomest residences in Rochester, New York, sat Miss Alma Temple, waiting for her father to come home from the bank. Mr. Horace Temple was one of the solid men of Rochester, and was president of the Temple National Bank. Although still early in December, the winter promised to be one of the most severe for many years, and the snow lay crisp and hard on the streets, but not enough for sleighing. It was too cold for snow, the weatherwise said. Suddenly Miss Alma drew back from the window with a quick flush on her face that certainly was not caused by the coming of her father. A dapper young man sprang lightly up the steps, and pressed the electric button at the door. When the young man entered the room a moment later Miss Alma was sitting demurely by the open fire. He advanced quickly toward her, and took both her outstretched hands in his. Then, furtively looking around the room, he greeted her still more affectionately, in a manner that the chronicler of these incidents, is not bound to particularize. However, the fact may be mentioned that whatever resistance the young woman thought fit to offer was of the faintest and most futile kind, and so it will be understood, at the beginning, that these two young persons had a very good understanding with each other.

"You seem surprised to see me," he began.

"Well, Walter, I understood that you left last time with some energetically expressed resolutions never to darken our doors again."

"Well, you see, my dear, I am sometimes a little hasty; and, in fact, the weather is so dark nowadays, anyhow, that a little extra darkness does not amount to much, and so I thought I would take the risk of darkening them once more."

"But I also understood that my father made you promise, or that you promised voluntarily, not to see me again without his permission?"

"Not voluntarily. Far from it. Under compulsion, I assure you. But I didn't come to see you at all. That's where you are mistaken. The seeing you is merely an accident, which I have done my best to avoid. Fact! The girl said, 'Won't you walk into the drawing-room,' and naturally I did so. Never expected to find you here. I thought I saw a young lady at the window as I came up, but I got such a momentary glimpse that I might have been mistaken."

"Then I will leave you and not interrupt——"

"Not at all. Now I beg of you not to leave on my account, Alma. You know I would not put you to any trouble for the world."

"You are very kind, I am sure, Mr. Brown."

"I am indeed, Miss Temple. All my friends admit that. But now that you are here—by the way, I came to see Mr. Temple. Is he at home?"

"I am expecting him every moment."

"Oh, well, I'm disappointed; but I guess I will bear up for awhile— until he comes, you know."

"I thought your last interview with him was not so pleasant that you would so soon seek another."

"The fact is, Alma, we both lost our tempers a bit, and no good ever comes of that. You can't conduct business in a heat, you know."

"Oh, then the asking of his daughter's hand was business—a mere business proposition, was it?"

"Well, I confess he put it that way—very strongly, too. Of course, with me there would have been pleasure mixed with it if he had—but he didn't. See here, Alma—tell me frankly (of course he talked with you about it) what objection he has to me anyhow."

"I suppose you consider yourself such a desirable young man that it astonishes you greatly that any person should have any possible objection to you?"

"Oh, come now, Alma; don't hit a fellow when he's down, you know. I don't suppose I have more conceit than the average young man; but then, on the other hand, I am not such a fool, despite appearances, as not to know that I am considered by some people as quite an eligible individual. I am not a pauper exactly, and your father knows that. I don't think I have many very bad qualities. I don't get drunk; I don't —oh, I could give quite a list of the things I don't do."

"You are certainly frank enough, my eligible young man. Still you must not forget that my papa is considered quite an eligible father-in-law, if it comes to that."

"Why, of course, I admit it. How could it be otherwise when he has such a charming daughter?"

"You know I don't mean that, Walter. You were speaking of wealth and so was I. Perhaps we had better change the subject."

"By the way, that reminds me of what I came to see you about. What do——"

"To see me? I thought you came to see my father."

"Oh, yes—certainly—I did come to see him, of course, but in case I saw you, I thought I would ask you for further particulars in the case. I have asked you the question but you have evaded the answer. You did not tell me why he is so prejudiced against me. Why did he receive me in such a gruff manner when I spoke to him about it? It is not a criminal act to ask a man for his daughter. It is not, I assure you. I looked up the law on the subject, and a young friend of mine, who is a barrister, says there is no statute in the case made and provided. The law of the State of New York does not recognize my action as against the peace and prosperity of the commonwealth. Well, he received me as if I had been caught robbing the bank. Now I propose to know what the objection is. I am going to hear——"

"Hush! Here is papa now."

Miss Alma quickly left the room, and met her father in the hall. Mr. Brown stood with his hands in his pockets and his back to the fire. He heard the gruff voice of Mr. Temple say, apparently in answer to some information given him by his daughter: "Is he? What does he want?"

There was a moment's pause, and then the same voice said:

"Very well, I will see him in the library in a few minutes."

Somehow the courage of young Mr. Brown sank as he heard the banker's voice, and the information he had made up his mind to demand with some hauteur, he thought he would ask, perhaps, in a milder manner.

Mr. Brown brightened up as the door opened, but it was not Miss Alma who came in. The servant said to him:

"Mr. Temple is in the library, sir. Will you come this way!"

He followed and found the banker seated at his library table, on which he had just placed some legal-looking papers, bound together with a thick rubber band. It was evident that his work did not stop when he left the bank. Young Brown noticed that Mr. Temple looked careworn and haggard, and that his manner was very different from what it had been on the occasion of the last interview.

"Good evening, Mr. Brown. I am glad you called. I was on the point of writing to you, but the subject of our talk the other night was crowded from my mind by more important matters."

Young Mr. Brown thought bitterly that there ought not to be matters more important to a father than his daughter's happiness, but he had the good sense not to say so.

"I spoke to you on that occasion with a—in a manner that was—well, hardly excusable, and I wish to say that I am sorry I did so. What I had to state might have been stated with more regard for your feelings."

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