The marshal found Durkee still at the wharf, seated on an upturned cask.
"I have this warrant for your arrest!" he proclaimed in a voice purposely loud.
"Yes? Let's see it," rejoined Durkee, lazily reaching out his hand.
He read the document through leisurely. His features betrayed no hint of his thoughts, but nevertheless his brain was very active. He read that he was accused of piracy against the might and majesty of the United States Government; and as his eyes slowly followed the involved and redundant legal phraseology, he reviewed the situation. The nature, of the trap became to him, partly evident. There was no doubt that technically he was a pirate, if these arms—as it seemed—belonged to the Government and not to the State. The punishment of piracy was death. Without appreciation of the fact, the committee had made him liable to the death penalty. And he had no doubt that the Federal Courts of California, as then constituted, would visit that penalty on him. He raised his head and looked about him. Within call were lounging a dozen resolute men belonging to the Committee of Vigilance. He had but to raise his voice to bring them to his assistance. Once inside Fort Gunnybags he knew that the committee would stand behind him to the last man.
But John Durkee had imagination as well as bulldog persistency. His mind flashed ahead into the future, envisaging the remoter consequences. He saw the majesty of the law's forces invoked to back this warrant which the tremendous power of the disciplined Vigilantes would repulse; he saw reinforcements, summoned. What reinforcements? A smile flitted across his lips, and he glanced up at the warship John Adams riding at anchor outside, her guns, their tampons in place, staring blackly at the city. He saw the whole plot.
"That's all right," he told the waiting marshal, folding the warrant and returning it to him. "Put your paper in your pocket. I'll go with you."
By this quietly courageous and intelligent deed John Durkee completely frustrated the fourth and most dangerous effort of the Law and Order party. There was no legal excuse for calling on Federal forces to take one man— who peaceably surrendered!
Undoubtedly, had not matters taken the decided and critical turn soon to be detailed, Durkee would have been immediately brought to trial, and perhaps executed. As it was, even the most rabid of the Law and Order party agreed it was inexpedient to press matters. The case was postponed again and again, and did not come to trial until several months, by which time the Vigilantes had practically finished their work. The law finally saved its face by charging the jury that "if they believed the prisoners took the arms with the intention of appropriating them to their own use and permanently depriving the owner of them, then they were guilty. But if they took them only for the purpose of preventing their being used against themselves and their associates, then they were not guilty." Under which hair-splitting and convenient interpretation the "pirates" went free, and everybody was satisfied!
After leaving the office where they had made their report to their employers, Rube Maloney and his two friends visited all the saloons. There they found sympathetic and admiring audiences. They reviled the committee collectively and singly; bragged that they would shoot Coleman, Truett, Durkee, and some others at sight; flourished weapons, and otherwise became so publicly and noisily obstreperous that the committee decided they needed a lesson. Accordingly they instructed Sterling Hopkins, with four others, to rearrest the lot and bring them in. Hopkins was a bulldog, pertinacious, rough, a faithful creature.
News of these orders ran ahead of their performance. Rube and his satellites dropped everything and fled to their masters like threatened dogs. Their masters, who included Terry, Bowie, Major Marmaduke Miles, and a few others, happened to be discussing the situation in the office of Richard Ashe, a Texan, and an active member of "the chivalry." The three redoubtables burst in on this gathering, wild-eyed, scared, with, the statement that a thousand stranglers were at their heels.
"Better hide 'em," suggested Bowie.
But hot-headed Terry, seconded by equally hot-headed Ashe, would have none of this.
"By gad, let them try it!" cried the judge. "I've been aching for this chance!"
Therefore when Hopkins, having left his small posse at the foot of the stairs, knocked and entered, he was faced by the muzzles of half a dozen pistols, and profanely told to get out of there. He was no fool, so he obeyed. If Terry had possessed the sense of a rooster, or a single quality of leadership, he would have seen that this was not the moment to precipitate a crisis. The forces of his own party were neither armed nor ready. But here, as in all other important actions of his career, he was governed by the haughty and headstrong passions of the moment—as when later he justified himself in attempting to shoot down an old and unarmed man. Hopkins left his men at the foot of the stairs, borrowed a horse from Dr. Beverly Cole, who was passing, and galloped to headquarters. There he was instructed to return, to keep watch, that reinforcements would follow. He arrived at the building in which Ashe's office was located, in time to see Maloney, Terry, Ashe, McNabb, Bowie, and Rowe all armed with shotguns, just turning the far corner. He dismounted and called on his men to follow. The little posse dogged the judge's party for some distance. For a time no attention was paid to them, but as they pressed closer Terry, Ashe, and Maloney whirled and presented their shotguns. The movement was probably intended only as a threat; but Hopkins, always bold to the point of rashness, made a sudden rush at Maloney. Judge Terry thrust his gun at the Vigilante officer who seized it by the barrel. At the same instant Ashe pressed the muzzle of his weapon against one Bovee's breast, but hesitated to pull the trigger. It was getting to be unhealthy to shoot men in the open street.
"Are you a friend?" he faltered.
"Yes," replied Bovee, and by a rapid motion struck the barrel aside.
Another of the Vigilantes named Barry covered Rowe with a pistol. Rowe's "chivalry" oozed. He dropped his gun and fled toward the armoury. The others struggled for possession of weapons, but nobody fired. Suddenly Terry whipped out a knife and plunged it into Hopkins's neck. Hopkins relaxed his hold on Terry's shotgun and staggered back.
"I am stabbed! Take them, Vigilantes!" he cried.
He sank to the pavement. Terry and his friends dropped everything and ran toward the armoury. Of the Vigilante posse only Bovee and Barry remained, but these two pursued the fleeing Law and Order men to the very portals of the armoury itself. When the door was slammed in their faces, they took up their stand outside, they two holding within several hundred men! At the end of ten minutes a pompous, portly individual came up under full sail, cast a detached and haughty glance at the two quiet men lounging unwarrantedly in his path, and attempted to pass inside.
"You cannot enter here," said Bovee grimly, as they barred his way.
The pompous man turned purple.
"Do you know who I am?" he demanded.
"I don't give a damn who you are," replied Bovee, still quietly.
"I am Major-General Volney E. Howard!"
"You cannot enter here," repeated Bovee, and this time he said it in a tone of voice that sent the major-general scurrying away.
After a short interval another man dashed up very much in a hurry. Mistaking Bovee and Barry for sentinels, he cried as he ran up:
"I am a lieutenant in Calhoun Bennett's company, and I have been sent here to—"
"I am a member of the Committee of Vigilance," interrupted Barry, "and you cannot enter."
"What!" cried the officer, in astonishment. "Have the Vigilance Committee possession of this building?"
"They have," was the reply of the dauntless two.
The lieutenant rolled up his eyes and darted away faster than he had come. A few moments later, doubtless to the vast relief of the "outside garrison" of the armoury within which five or six hundred men were held close by this magnificent bluff, the great Vigilante bell boomed out: one, two, three, rest; then one, two, three, rest; and repeat.
Immediately the streets were alive with men. Merchants left their customers, clerks their books, mechanics their tools. Dray-men stripped their horses of harness, abandoned their wagons where they stood, and rode away to their cavalry. Clancey Dempster's office was only four blocks from headquarters. At the first stroke of the bell he leaped from his desk, ran down the stairs, and jumped into his buggy. Yet he could drive only three of the four blocks, so dense already was the crowd. He abandoned his rig in the middle of the street and forced his way through afoot. Two days later he recovered his rig. In the building he found the companies, silently, without confusion, falling into line.
"All right!" he called encouragingly. "Keep cool! Take your time about it!"
"Ah, Mr. Dempster," they replied, "we've waited long! This is the clean sweep!"
James Olney was lying in bed with a badly sprained ankle when the alarm bell began to toll. He commandeered one boot from a fellow-boarder with extremely large feet, and hobbled to the street. There he seized by force of arms the passing delivery wagon of a kerosene dealer, climbed to the seat, and lashed the astonished horse to a run. San Francisco streets ran to chuck holes and ruts in those days, and the vehicle lurched and banged with a grand rattle and scatteration of tins and measures. The terrified driver at last mustered courage to protest.
"You are spilling my kerosene!" he wailed.
"Damn your kerosene, sir!" bellowed the general; then relenting: "I will pay you for your kerosene!"
Up to headquarters he sailed full tilt, and how he got through the crowd without committing manslaughter no one tells. There he was greeted by wild cheering, and was at once lifted bodily to the back of a white horse, the conspicuous colour of which made it an excellent rallying point.
Within an incredibly brief space of time they were off for the armoury; the military companies marching like veterans; the artillery rumbling over the rude pavements; the cavalry jogging along to cover the rear. A huge roaring mob accompanied them, followed them, raced up the parallel streets to arrive before the armoury at the same moment as the first files.
The armoury square was found to be deserted except for the intrepid Barry and Bovee, who still marched back and forth before the closed door. No one had entered or left the building.
Inside the armoury the first spirit of bravado and fight-to-the-last-ditch had died to a sullen stubbornness. Nobody had much, to say. Terry was very contrite as well he might be. A judge of the Supreme Court, who had no business being in San Francisco at all, sworn to uphold the law, had stepped out from his jurisdiction to commit as lawless and idiotic a deed of passion as could have been imagined! Whatever chances the Law and Order party might have had, could they have mobilized their forces, were dissipated. Their troops were scattered in small units; their rank and file were heaven knew where; their enemies, fully organized, had been mustered by the alarm bell to full alertness and compactness. And Terry's was the hand that had struck that bell! For the only time in his recorded history David Terry's ungoverned spirit was humbled. Until he found that nothing immediate was going to happen to him, and while under the silent but scathing disapprobation of his companions, he actually talked of resigning! Parenthetically, the fit did not last long, and he soon reared, his haughty crest as high as ever. But now, listening to the roar of the mob outside, peeping at the grim thousands of armed men deploying before the armoury, he regretted his deed.
"This is very unfortunate; very unfortunate!" he said, "But you shall not imperil your lives for me. It is I they want. I will surrender to them."
Instead of the prompt expostulation he expected, a dead silence greeted these words.
"There is nothing else to do," agreed Ashe at last.
An officer was sent to negotiate.
"We will deliver up the armoury if you will agree not to give us over to the mob," he told the committee.
"We hold, and intend to hold, the mob under absolute control. We have nothing in common with mobs," was Coleman's reply.
The doors were then thrown open, and a company of the Vigilante troops marched in. Within ten minutes, the streets were cleared. The six hundred prisoners, surrounded by a solid body of infantry with cavalry on the flanks, were marched to headquarters. The city was jubilant. This, at last, was the clean sweep! Men went about with shining faces, slapping each other on the back. And Coleman, the wise general, realizing that compromises were useless, peace impossible, came to a decision. Shortly from headquarters the entire Vigilante forces moved in four divisions toward the cardinal points of the compass. From them small squads were from time to time detached and sent out to right or left. The main divisions surrounded the remaining four big armouries; the smaller squads combed the city house by house for arms. In the early morning the armouries capitulated. By sun-up every weapon in the city had been taken to Fort Gunnybags.
Up to this time Nan Keith had undergone the experience of nine out of ten married women in early California: that is, she had been neglected. Neglect in some form or other was the common lot of the legally attached feminine. How could it logically be otherwise? In the turbulent, varied, restless, intensely interesting, deeply exciting life of the pioneer city only a poor-spirited, bloodless, nerveless man would have thought to settle down to domesticity. A quiet evening at home stands small chance, even in an old-established community, against a dog fight on the corner or a fire in the next block; and here were men fights instead, and a great, splendid, conflagration of desires, appetites, and passions, a grand clash of interests and wills that burned out men's lives in the space of a few years. It was a restless time, full of neglected women. This neglect varied in degree to be sure. Nan was lucky there. No other woman had thrust her way in, no other attraction lured Keith from her, as had happened to so many others. She possessed all his interest. But at present that interest seemed so attenuated, so remote!
After her revulsion of feeing the afternoon the Vigilantes first rose in their might, she withdrew within her pride. Nan was no meek and humble spirit. But the scales had dropped from her eyes as to affairs about her. San Francisco suddenly became something besides a crude collection of buildings. For the first time she saw it as a living entity, strong in the throes of growth. She devoured eagerly all the newspapers, collected avidly all the rumours. Whenever possible, she discussed the state of affairs; but this was difficult, for nearly every one was strongly partisan for one side or another, and incapable of anything but excitement and vituperation. The Sherwoods were a great comfort to her here. While approving of the new movement, they nevertheless refused to become heated, and retained a spirit of humour. Sherwood was not a member of the Committee of Vigilance, but he had subscribed heavily—and openly—to its funds; he had assisted it with his counsels; and it was hinted that, sub-rosa, he had taken part in some of the more obscure but dangerous operations.
"I am an elderly, peace-loving, respectable citizen," he told Nan, "and I stand unequivocably for law and order and for justice, for the orderly doing of things; and against violence, mob spirit, and high-handedness."
"Why, John Sherwood!" cried Nan, up in arms at once. "I'd never have believed you could be on the side of Judge Terry and that stripe."
"Oho!" cried Sherwood, delighted to have drawn her. "Now we have it! But what made you think I was on that side?"
"Why—didn't you just say—"
"Oh," said Sherwood comfortably, "I was using real meanings, not just word tags. In my opinion real law and order, orderly doing of things, et cetera, are all on the other side."
"And the men—" cried Nan, aglow.
"The men are of course all noble, self-sacrificing, patriotic, immaculate demigods who—" He broke off, chuckling at Nan's expression. "No, seriously, I think they are doing a fine work, and that they'll go down in history."
"You're an old dear!" cried Nan, impulsively kissing his cheek.
"Take care," he warned, "you're endangering my glasses and making my wife jealous."
Nan drew back, a little ashamed at having shown her feelings; and rather astonished herself at their intensity.
In the course of these conversations the pendulum with her began again to quiver at the descent. Through the calmly philosophical eye of the ex- gambler, John Sherwood, she partly envisaged the significance of what was happening—the struggling forth of real government from the sham. Her own troubles grew small by comparison. She began to feel nearer Keith in spirit than for some time past, to understand him better, even—though this was difficult—to get occasionally a glimpse of his relations toward herself. It was all very inchoate, instinctive, unformed; rather an instinct than a clear view. She became restless; for she had no outlet either for her own excitement or the communicated excitement of the times. It was difficult to wait, and yet wait she must. For what? She did not know!
On the crucial June evening she sat by the lamp trying in vain to concentrate her attention on a book. The sound of the door bell made her jump. She heard Wing Sam's shuffle, and his cheerful greeting which all her training had been unable to eliminate. Wing Sam always met every caller with a smiling "Hello!" A moment later she arose in some surprise as Mrs. Morrell entered the room.
Relations between the women had never been broken off, though the pretence of ordinary cordiality had long since been dropped. When Mrs. Morrell found it expedient to make this call, she spent several hours trying to invent a plausible excuse. She was unable to do so. Finally she gave it up in angry despair.
"As long as it is not too bald, what difference does it make?" she said to herself cynically.
And out of this desperation, and by no means from cleverness, she hit on the cleverest thing possible. Instead of coming to make a friendly call, she pretended to be on an errand of protest.
"It's about your dog," she told Nan, "he's a dear good dog, and a great friend of ours. But cannot you shut him up nights? He's inclined to prowl around under my windows, and just the sound of him there keeps me awake. I know it's foolish; but I am so nervous these days—"
"Why, of course," said Nan with real contrition. "I'd no idea—"
Gringo was at the moment ingratiating himself with Wing Sam in re one soup bone of no use to anybody but dogs. If he could have heard Mrs. Morrell's indictment, he would have been both grieved and surprised: Gringo never prowled anywhere. Like most rather meaty individuals, he was a very sound sleeper; and in the morning he often felt a little uneasy in his conscience as to the matter of stray trespassing cats or such small fry. He had every confidence that his instincts would warn him of really important things, like burglars. Still, the important things are not all of life, nor burglars all the duty of a dog.
Having slandered the innocent Gringo, Mrs. Morrell stayed for a chat. Apparently she was always just on the point of departure, but never went. Nan, being, as she thought, in the wrong as to the worthy Gringo, tried her best to be polite, but was miserably conscious of being snippy.
At the end of an hour the door bell rang again. If Nan had been watching, she might have seen Mrs. Morrell's body relax as though from a tension. After a moment Wing Sam shuffled into the room carrying a soiled folded paper.
"Man he tell you lead this chop-chop," said he.
Murmuring an apology, Nan opened the paper. With a cry she sprang to her feet. Her face had gone white.
"What is it?" cried Mrs. Morrell in apparent anxiety.
Without a word Nan extended the paper. Written in pencil were these words:
MADAM: Your husband has been injured in an attempt at arrest. He wants me to tell you he is at Jake's Place hurt bad. With respects. JOHN Q. ALDER.
For an instant Mrs. Morrell did not dare look up. She was thoroughly angry at what she thought to be her husband's stupidity.
"Why, that wouldn't deceive a child!" she thought contemptuously.
"How dreadful! Who is Alder?" she said, merely to say something.
Nan shook her head.
"I don't know," she replied rather wildly. "One of the Vigilantes, I suppose. I must go out there. At once!"
She ran to the hall where she began to rummage for cloaks. Mrs. Morrell followed her in wonderment. She was going to take this crude bait after all! Mrs. Morrell had not the slightest idea Nan still loved her husband.
"You can't go alone!" she cried in apparent sympathy. "You poor child! Jake's Place—at this time of night!"
"I'd go to hell if he needed me there!" cried Nan.
Mrs. Morrell became suddenly capable and commanding.
"Then I shall go with you," she announced firmly.
"Oh, you're good to me!" cried Nan, full of contrition, and feeling, beneath her anxiety, that she had misjudged her neighbour's heart.
Mrs. Morrell took charge. She lit the lantern, led the way to the stable, did the most toward harnessing the horse. They made rather a mess of it, but the horse was gentle and reliable. When they had backed the buggy out of the barn, she insisted on driving.
"You're in no fit condition," she told Nan, and Nan obediently climbed in beside her.
The drive was made in silence, except that occasionally Nan urged hurry. She sat bolt upright, her hands clasped in her lap, her figure rigid, trying to keep hold of herself. At Jake's Place a surly hostler appeared and led away their horse. Jake's Place was in darkness save for one lighted room on the ground floor and a dimly illuminated bar at the other end.
It is but just to a celebrated resort that had seen and was still to see much of life to say that it knew nothing of the plot. Sansome had engaged the ground-floor parlour, and ordered a fire and drinks. Morrell had commanded a little supper for later. Now two ladies appeared. This was all normal. Without drinks, little suppers, and the subsequent appearance of ladies, Jake's Place would soon have languished.
Nan leaped over the wheel to the ground as soon as the buggy had stopped, and before the dilatory hostler had cramped aside the wheel.
"Where is he?" she demanded breathlessly. The hostler jerked a thumb at the lighted windows. Without a word Nan ran up the steps and to the door. The hostler looked after her flying figure, then grinned up at Mrs. Morrell.
"Yum! yum!" said he, "but she's the eager little piece!"
Mrs. Morrell gave him a coin, and as he moved away with the horse, she, too, ran up the steps. Nan had entered the parlour door, leaving it open behind her. Mrs. Morrell closed it again, and locked it. Then, with a certainty that proved her familiarity with the place, she walked down the length of the veranda to a hall, which she entered.
Nan had burst into a parlour with an open fire. Before it stood a small table crowded with bottles and glasses. Sansome rose, rather unsteadily, from one of the easy chairs. Nan uttered an exclamation of relief as she recognized him.
"Oh, I'm glad you're here!" she cried. "This is kind! How is he? Where is he?"
Morrell had no easy day with Ben Sansome. He had been forced to spend the whole of it with his protege, save for the hour he had devoted to seeing Keith off on the piratical expedition. It was a terrible bore. In turn he had played on the youth's pique, the supposed insult to his manhood, his desire for the woman. Sansome was not naturally a valiant adventurer; but he had an exceedingly touchy vanity, which, with a little coddling, answered nearly as well. Morrell took the confident attitude that, of course, Sansome was not afraid; therefore Sansome was ashamed to be afraid.
"For the moment," said the Englishman, "she's carried away by the glamour of this Vigilante movement. They seem to her strong men. She contrasts them with us men of the world, and as she cannot see that a polished exterior is not incompatible with strength, she has a faint growing contempt for us. Women like strength, masterfulness. It is the chance of your life to show her that a man comme il faut is the equal of these squalid brutes in that respect. She is in love with you already, but she doesn't know it. All that is necessary is a show of masterfulness to make her realize it." He stifled a yawn. "Lord, what dreary piffle!" he confided to himself. He painted Keith as a contemptible renegade from his own class, currying favour with those below him, a cheap demagogue, a turncoat avid for popular power.
"At heart he's a coward—all such men are. And he's so wrapped up in his ambition that his wife is a small matter to him. There's no danger from him, for he's away; and after the first flare-up we'll be able to handle him among us, never fear!" But after impressing this point, Morrell always was most careful to interpose the warning: "If it should come to trouble, don't let him get near you! He's absolutely rotten with a gun—you saw him in that farce of a duel—but he's a strong beggar. Don't let him get his hands on you!"
"I won't," promised Sansome, a trifle shakily.
Then Morrell, lighting a fresh cigar and fortifying his bored soul with another drink, skilfully outlined a portrait of Sansome himself as a hero, a dashing man of the world, a real devil among the ladies, the haughty and proud exponent of aristocratic high-handedness. He laid this on pretty thick, but Sansome had by now consumed a vast number of drinks, and was ready to swallow almost anything in addition. Morrell's customary demeanour was rather stolid, silent, and stupid; but when he was really interested and cared to exert himself, he became unexpectedly voluble and plausible. Mid-evening he drove this creature of his own fashioning out to Jake's Place, and deposited him in the parlour with the open fire, the table of drinks, and the easy chairs.
His plans from this point on were based on the fact that he had started Keith out on an expedition that should last all night. Had there been the slightest chance that the injured husband could appear, you may be sure Morrell would not have been present. Of course witnesses were necessary to the meeting at the road house. With Keith imminent, hirelings would have been arranged for. With Keith safety away, Morrell saw no reason why he should not enjoy the situation himself. Therefore he had arranged a little supper party. Teeny McFarlane and Jimmy Ware were his first thought. Then he added Pop McFarlane. If he wanted Teeny as a witness, the party must be respectable!
At the sound of wheels outside Morrell arose and slipped out the back door of the parlour.
"Now, remember!" he told Sansome from the doorway. "Now's the chance of your life! You've got her love, and you must keep her. She'll cut up rough at first. That's when you must show what's in you. Go right after her!"
As Nan burst into the room by one door he softly closed—and locked—the other behind him.
But Sansome, although he had put up a brave front to the last moment, was not in reality feeling near the hero of romance he looked. In spite of Morrell's cleverness, the Englishman had failed to observe that Sansome had touched the fringe of that second stage of semi-drunkenness when the "drinks were dying on him." While outwardly fairly sober, inwardly he was verging toward the incoherent. First one phase or mood would come to the top, then another, without order; sequence, or logical reason. He was momentarily dangerous or harmless. Nan's abrupt entrance scattered his last coherences. For the moment he fell back on habit, and habit was with him conventional He smiled his best smile.
"Do sit down," he urged in his most society manner.
This immediately convinced Nan that Keith must be badly hurt.
"Tell me at once!" she demanded "Where is Milton? Is he—is—"
"As far as I know," replied Sansome, still in his courtly manner, "Mr. Keith is in perfect health. As to where he is"—he waved an airy hand—"I do not know. It does not matter, does it? The point is we are cozy here together. Do sit down."
"I don't understand," said she, advancing a step nearer, her brows knit, "Don't put me off. I got a note saying—"
"I know; I wrote it," boasted Sansome fatuously.
The blood mounted her face, her fists clenched, she advanced several steps fearlessly.
"I don't, quite understand," she repeated, in hard, crisp tones. "You wrote it?' Isn't it true? What did you do such a thing for?"
"To get you here, my dear, of course," rejoined Sansome gallantly. "I knew your puritanical scruples—I love them every one—but—"
"Do you mean to say you dared decoy me here!" challenged Nan, all aflame. Her whole emotion was one of rage. It did not occur to her to be afraid of Ben Sansome, the conventional, the dilettante exquisite, without the gumption to say boo to a goose!
This Sansome answered her, the habit of society strong within him. He became deprecatory, pleading, almost apologetic. His manners were on top and his rather weak nature quailed before the blaze of her anger.
"I know it was inexcusable," he babbled, "but what could I do? I am mad about you! Do forgive me! Just sit down for a few moments. I don't blame you for being angry—any one is angry at being deceived—but do forgive me. If you'll only consider why I did it, you won't be angry. That's right," he ended soothingly, seeing that she neither spoke nor moved, "Just sit right down here and be comfortable. It must be cold driving. Let me give you a glass of sherry." He fussed about, shoving forward an armchair, arranging pillows, unstopping the decanter.
"You fool!" she ejaculated in a low voice. She looked him all up and down, and turned to go.
The door was locked! For the first time she noticed that Mrs. Morrell had not followed her in. Her heart fluttered in sudden panic, which she subdued. She moved toward the other door.
The words, and especially the frustration of her intention, brought another mood to the surface of Sansome's intoxication. The polished society man with the habit of external unselfishness disappeared. Another Sansome, whom Nan did not recognize, sprang to take his place.
"No, you don't!" he snarled. "That door's locked, too. You don't get out of here until I choose to let you out!"
"You'll let me out; and you'll let me out right now, or I'll call for help," said Nan determinedly.
Sansome deliberately seated himself, stretching his legs out straight before him, his hands in his pockets. This was the masterful role he had seen himself playing, and he instinctively took the attitude approved by the best melodramatic masters.
"Call all you please," he sneered. "Nobody's going to pay any attention to your calls at Jake's Place!"
Nan's heart went cold as she realized the complete truth of this. She was beginning to know fear. This was a new sort of creature before her, one with which she was acquainted only by instinct. She did not know what to do next, except that she saw surely that open opposition would only aggravate the situation.
"I must gain time!" she told herself, though to what end she could not have said.
Her pulses beat wildly, but she forced herself to a specious calmness.
"But Ben," she said as naturally as she could, "why did you do so foolish a thing as this? It might make all kinds of trouble. You can always see me at the house; you know that. Why did you get me out on this mad expedition? If we were to be seen here by anybody we would be deeply compromised."
The words reminded her of Mrs. Morrell; but out of sheer terror she resolutely thrust that idea from her mind. At this appeal Sansome suddenly became maudlin.
"You've treated me like a dog lately—a yellow dog!" he mourned. "What good did it do to go to your house and be treated like a yellow dog?"
Nan's faculties were beginning to rally after the first panic. Her heart was still thumping violently, but her eyes were bright, and her fighting courage was flowing back. For the first time his obvious condition registered on her brain.
"He's drunk!" she thought.
This discovery at first induced in her another, small panic. Then her courage boldly took it as a point of attack. The man was drunk and dangerous; very well, let us make him more drunk and less dangerous. That was a desperate enough expedient, but at least it was definite. She crossed deliberately to the other easy chair, and sat down.
"Well, let's sit down," she agreed. "No!" more decidedly, "you sit there, on the other side. It's more cozy," she continued, at just the right moment to get her effect on his instinct of good manners. "Now, I will have that sherry. No, don't bother; it is next my hand. You must drink with me. Let me pour it for you—with my own hands—aren't you flattered?"
She smiled across at him. This sudden reversion to an easy every-day plane had brought Sansome's first mood again to the surface. In this atmosphere of orderly tete-a-tete he was again the society man. Nan breathed freer. He murmured something inane and conventional about Hebe.
"Meaning you're a little tin god?" she chaffed.
He said something still more involved, to the effect that her presence would make a god out of the most unworthy mortal. It was all vapid, unreal, elaborate, artificial.
"If I can only keep him at this!" thought she desperately.
She had drunk her glass of sherry because she felt she needed it. Now she poured another, and without comment, refilled Sansome's whiskey glass.
"Here's to us!" she cried, lifting her glass.
Nan's plan of getting him so drunk that he would not interfere with her escape had the merit of simplicity, and also of endorsement by such excellent authority as melodrama and the novel. It had the defect of being entirely theoretical. Nan's innocence of the matter in hand had not taken into account the intermediate stages of drunkenness, nor did she realize the strength inherent in the association of ideas. As she leaned forward to fill the glasses, Sansome's eyes brightened. He had seen women pouring wine many times before. The picture before him reminded him of a dozen similar pictures taken from the gallery of his rather disreputable past. His elaborate complimentary mood vanished. He pledged her ardently, and deep in his eyes began to burn a secret covetous flame. Nan poured her, sherry under the table.
"This really is a cozy party!" she cried. "Will you have another with me?"
The third glass of neat whiskey whirled in Sansome's head. He was verging toward complete drunkenness, but in the meantime became amorous. His eyes burned, his lips fell apart. Nan tried in desperation to keep on a plane of light persiflage, to hold him to his chair and to the impersonal. Deep fear entered her. She urged more drink on him, hoping that he would be overpowered. It was like a desperate race between this man's passions and the deep oblivion that reached for them. Her mouth was dry, and her brain whirled. Only by the greatest effort could she prevent herself from flying to pieces. Sansome hardly appeared to hear her. He wagged his head at her, looking upon her with swimming, benevolent eyes. Suddenly, without warning, he sprang up, overturning with a crash the small table and the bottles and glasses.
"By God, you're the most beautiful woman I ever saw!" he cried. "Come here!"
He advanced on her, his eyes alight. She saw that the crisis had come, and threw aside all pretence.
"Keep away! Keep away!" she warned him through, gritted teeth; then, as he continued to stumble toward her, she struck at him viciously again and again with one of the small light chairs.
For a moment or so she actually managed to beat him off; but he lunged through the blows and seized her around the shoulders.
"Reg'lar little tiger cat!" he murmured with fond admiration.
His reeking breath was on her neck as he sought her mouth. She threw her head back and to one side, fighting desperately and silently, tearing at him with her hands, writhing her body, lowering her head as he forced her around, kicking at his shin. The man's strength was as horrible as it was unexpected. The efforts to which she was giving her every ounce did not appear to have the slightest effect on him, His handsome weak face continued to smile foolishly and fondly down on her.
"Reg'lar little tiger cat!" he repeated over and over.
The terrible realization dawned on her that he was too much for her. Her body suddenly went lax. She threw back her and screamed.
The plot which Morrell had first suggested idly and as sort of a joke, but which later he had entered into with growing belief, was quite perfect in all details but one: he assumed that Keith had accompanied Durkee's expedition, and was sure that he had seen the young lawyer off. As a matter of fact, Keith had been recalled. A messenger had at the very last moment handed him an order sealed with the well-known open eye, and signed "33 Secretary." It commanded him to proceed with certain designated men to the arrest of certain others inscribed on the black list. This was a direct order, whereas the present expedition was wholly a voluntary affair. Keith had no alternative but to obey, though he did so reluctantly, for this search for arms had promised sport. Therefore, he stepped ashore at the last instant; a proceeding unobserved by Morrell, who was surveying the scene from a distance, and who turned away once the sails were hoisted.
The duty to which Keith had been assigned took some time. The men had to be searched out one by one, escorted to headquarters, and the usual formalities there accomplished. It was late in the evening before he was free to go home. He let himself in with his latchkey, and had just turned up the low-burning gas in the hall when the sound of hurrying feet brought him back to the door. He flung it open to confront Mrs. Sherwood and Krafft. They were both panting as though they had run some distance and Krafft's usually precise attire was dishevelled and awry, as though it had been hastily put on.
"Nan!" gasped Mrs. Sherwood. "Is she here?"
Keith, with instant decision, asking no questions, threw open the parlour door, glanced within, ran upstairs three steps at a time, but almost immediately returned after a hasty inspection of the upper story. His face had gone very pale, but he had himself in perfect control.
"Well?" he demanded crisply, looking from one to the other.
But Mrs. Sherwood did not stop to answer. With a stifled exclamation she darted from the house. Krafft looked after her, bewildered. Keith shook him savagely by the shoulder.
"Speak up, man! Quick! What is it?" demanded Keith. His voice was vibrant with suppressed excitement, but he held himself outwardly calm, and waited immobile until the end of Krafft's story. It was characteristic of him as of all strong men in a crisis that he made no move whatever until he was sure he had grasped the whole situation.
Krafft was just going to bed—he always retired early—when he was called to the door by Mex Ryan. Mex had never come to his house before. He was a shoulder striker and a thug; but he had one sure streak of loyalty in that nothing could ever induce him to go back on a pal. For various reasons he considered Krafft a pal. He was very much troubled.
"Look here, boss," he said to Krafft, "It just come to my mind a while ago: what was the name of that bloke you told me to keep off'n? The Cora trial man, I mean."
Krafft recalled the circumstance, and named Keith.
Mex slapped his head.
"That's right! It come to me afterward. Well, there's dirty work with his wife. That's where I see the name, on the outside of the note. I just give her a fake letter that says her husband is shot, and she's to go to him."
"How did he know what the letter said?" interjected Keith at this point.
"He'd read anything given him, of course. Mex knew the letter was false. I came up to find your house. I didn't know where you lived, so I stopped at John Sherwood's to inquire. Mrs. Sherwood was home alone. She came with me."
"Where did this letter say I was supposed to be?" asked Keith,
"My God!" cried Keith, and leaped for the door. At the same instant Mrs. Sherwood's voice was heard from the darkness.
"Come here," she cried, "I have a rig."
They found her seated in a buggy. Both climbed in beside her. Keith took the reins, and lashed the horse with the light whip. The astonished animal leaped; the buggy jerked forward.
Then began a wild, careering, bumpy ride into the night. The road was fearful and all but invisible. The carriage swayed and swung dangerously. Keith drove, every faculty concentrated. No one spoke. The dim and ghostly half-guessed forms of things at night streamed past.
"Who sent that letter?" demanded Keith finally.
"Mex wouldn't tell me," replied Krafft.
"How long ago did he deliver it?"
"About an hour."
The horse plunged frantically under the lash as this reply reached Keith. The buggy was all but overturned. He pulled the frantic animal down to a slower pace, and with an obvious effort regained control of himself.
"Can't afford an accident!" he warned himself.
"Are you armed?" Mrs. Sherwood asked him suddenly.
"Yes—no, I left my gun at headquarters—that doesn't matter."
Mrs. Sherwood made no comment. The wind caught her hair and whipped it about. In the distance now twinkled the lights of Jake's Place. Keith took a firmer grip on the reins, and again applied the whip. They swept into the gravelled driveway on two wheels, righted themselves, and rounded to the veranda. Keith pulled up and leaped to the ground. Nobody was visible. From the veranda he turned on them.
"Here, you!" he commanded Mrs. Sherwood sharply, "I can't have you in this row! Stay here, outside. You take care of her," he told Krafft. "No, I mean it!"
On his words a scream burst from the lighted room. Keith sprang to the door, found it locked, and drew back. With a low mighty rush he thrust his shoulder against the panel near the lock. The wood splintered. He sprang forward into the room.
After turning the key in the lock outside the parlour door Mrs. Morrell slipped along the dark veranda, passed through a narrow hall, and entered a small back sitting-room. Jake's Place especially abounded in sitting-rooms. This particular one was next the parlour, so that one listening intently could be more or less aware of what was going on in the larger room. Here Morrell was already seated, a bottle of beer next his hand. He raised his eyebrows on her entrance, and she nodded back reassuringly. She, too, sat down and helped herself to beer. Both smoked. For a long time neither said anything.
"Don't hear much in there," observed Mrs. Morrell finally, in a low guarded tone.
"Not a sound," agreed Morrell. "You don't suppose she—"
"No, I don't think so."
"Then I don't see what ails that fool, Sansome! It'd be just like him to jib."
"What does it matter?" observed Mrs. Morrell philosophically, "We don't care what is happening inside as long as those two doors stay locked until Teeny and Jimmy Ware get here."
As has been mentioned, Pop McFarlane was also of the party; but, characteristically, neither would have thought that fact worth mentioning.
"Just the same, as a matter of academic interest, I'd have expected her to make more of a row," said Morrell. "I'll wager for all her airs she runs the same gait as all the rest of you."
"Do you mean me?" demanded Mrs. Morrell, her eyes flashing dangerously.
"Moderate your voice, my dear," advised he. "My remark was wholly general of your charming sex."
From the parlour now they heard faintly the first sounds of struggle.
"That's more like," he said with satisfaction. "I hate to have my ideals shattered."
Wheels became audible.
"There's Teeny, now," he observed, arising. He sauntered down the hall and looked out. "Keith!" he whispered back over his shoulder. "Where in hell did he come from?" He continued to peer into the darkness. "There's two others. Well, at any rate, we have plenty of witnesses!" He turned to Mrs. Morrell. "You'd better make yourself scarce. You locked that door, you know!"
"Scarce!" she repeated, staring at him. "Where? How?"
He looked at her through narrowed lids.
"Get a horse of Jake," he said at last. "I'll meet you—oh, at the house. We'll arrange later."
He watched her rather opulent figure steal down the dim hallway. A cynical smile flashed under his moustache. He turned back to the drama before him. The buggy had disappeared; the veranda was apparently empty.
"Now I wonder who will shoot who?" speculated Morrell.
He stole to the first of the windows. The lower blinds were drawn, but the upper half of the window was clear. Morrell cautiously placed a stool nearby, and mounted it so he could see into the room. For several minutes he watched. Then his hand stole to his pocket. He produced a revolver.
Blinded by the light, Keith stood for a barely appreciable moment in the wrecked doorway. Sansome, startled by the crash, relaxed his efforts. Nan thrust him from her so strongly that he staggered back. Keith's vision cleared. He appreciated the meaning of the tableau, uttered a choked growl, and advanced.
Immediately Sansome drew and presented his weapon. He was shocked far toward sobriety, but the residue of the whiskey fumes in combination with a sudden sick and guilty panic imbued him with a sort of desperation. Sansome was a bold and dashing villain only as long as things came his way. His amours had always been of the safe rather than the wildly adventurous sort. Sansome had no morals; but being found out produced effects so closely resembling those of conscience that they could not be distinguished. In the chaotic collapse of this heroic episode he managed to cling to but one thing. That was Morrell's often reiterated warning: "Don't let Keith get his hands on you!"
At the sight of his levelled weapon, Nan, who was nearest, uttered a stifled cry and made as though to throw herself on him.
"Stop!" commanded Keith, without looking toward her. But so quietly authoritative was his voice and manner that in spite of herself her impulse was checked. She remained rigid.
Keith advanced steadily on Sansome, his hands clenched at his side, his eye's fixed frowningly and contemptuously on those of the other man. The pistol barrel was held on his breast. Sansome fully intended to shoot, but found himself unable to pull the trigger. This is a condition every rifleman knows well by experience; he calls it being "frozen on the bull's eye," when, the alignment perfect, his rifle steady as a rock, he nevertheless cannot transmit just the little nerve power necessary to crook the forefinger. Three times Sansome sent the message to his trigger finger; three times the impulse died before it had compassed the distance between his brain and his hand. This was partly because his correlations had been weakened by the drink; partly because his fuddled mind was divided between fear, guilt, despair, and a rage at himself for having got into such a mess; but principally because he was hypnotically dominated by the other man's stronger personality.
So evident was this that a sudden feeling of confidence replaced in Nan the sick terror at the sight of the weapon. She seemed to know positively that here was no real peril. A wave of contempt for Sansome, even as a dangerous creature, mingled with a passionate admiration for the man who thus dominated him unarmed.
Sansome's nerve broke. He dropped his hand, looked to right and left frantically like a rat in a corner, uttered a very ratty squeak. Suddenly he hurled the loaded pistol blindly at Keith, and plunged bodily, with an immense crash of breaking glass, through the closed window. Keith, with a snarl of baffled rage, dashed forward.
The sight seemed to touch Nan's sense of humour. She laughed at the picture, caught her breath, gasped. Keith whirled and snatched her fiercely in his arms.
"Nan!" he cried in an agony, "are you all right? What did that beast—"
She clung to him, still choking, on the edge of hysterics. In a moment of illumination she realized that the intangible barrier these past years had so slowly built between them had gone crashing down before the assault of the old love triumphant.
"I'm all right, dear," she gasped; "really all right. And I never was so happy in my life!"
They clung together frantically, he patting her shoulder, her cheek against his own, murmuring broken, soothing little phrases. The time and the place did not exist for them.
A scuffle outside, which they had only vaguely sensed, and which had not at all penetrated to their understandings, came to an end. Mrs. Sherwood appeared in the doorway. Her dress was torn and dishevelled, a strand of her smooth hair had fallen across her forehead, an angry red mark showed on one cheek. But she was in high spirits. Her customary quiet poise had given place to a vibrant, birdlike, vital, quivering eagerness. To the two in the centre of the room, still clasped in each other's arms, came the same thought: that never, in spite of her ruffled plumes, in spite of the cheek already beginning to swell, had this extraordinary woman looked so beautiful! Then Keith realized that she was panting heavily, and was clinging to the doorway. He sprang to her assistance.
"What is it? Where is Krafft?" he asked.
She laughed a little, and permitted him to help her to an armchair into which she sank. She waved aside Keith's attempts to find a whole glass in the wreckage of the table.
"I'm all right," she said, "and isn't this a nice little party?"
"What has happened? Where is Krafft?" repeated Keith.
"I sent him to the stable for help. There didn't seem to be anybody about the place."
"But what happened to you? Did that brute Sansome—"
"Sansome? was that Sansome? the one who came through the window?" She dabbed at her cheek. "You might wet me a handkerchief or a towel or something," she suggested. "No, he didn't stop!" she laughed again. "Are you all right?" she asked anxiously of Nan.
"Yes. But tell us—"
"Well, children, I was waiting on the veranda, obeying orders like a good girl, when, in the dim light I saw a man mount a stool and look into the room. He was very much interested. I crept up quite close to him without his knowing it. I heard him mutter to himself something about a 'weak kneed fool.' Then he drew a revolver. He looked quite determined and heroic"—she giggled reminiscently—"so I kicked the stool out from under him! About that time there was a most terrific crash, and somebody came out through the window."
"But your cheek, your hair—"
"I tried to hold him, but he was too strong for me. He hit me in the face, wrenched himself free, and ran. That was all; except that he dropped the pistol, and I'm going to keep it as a trophy."
Keith was looking at her, deep in thought.
"I don't understand," he said slowly. "Who could it have been?"
Mrs. Sherwood shook her head.
"Somebody about to shoot a pistol; that's all I know. I couldn't see his face."
"Whoever it was, you saved one or both of us," said Keith, "there's no doubt in my mind of that. Let's see the pistol."
It proved to be one of the smaller Colt's models, about 31 calibre, cap and ball, silver plated, with polished rosewood handles, and heavily engraved with scrollwork. Turning it over, Keith finally discovered on the bottom of the butt frame two letters scratched rudely, apparently with the point of a knife. He took it closer to the light.
"I have it," said he. "Here are the letters C.M."
"Charles Morrell!" cried both women in a breath.
At this moment appeared Krafft, somewhat out of wind, followed by the surly and reluctant proprietor from whom the place took its name. Jake had been liberally paid to keep himself and his staff out of the way. Now finding that he was not wanted, he promptly disappeared.
"Let's get to the bottom of this thing," said Keith decisively. "If those are really meant for Morrell's initials, what was he doing here?"
"Mrs. Morrell came out with me," put in Nan.
"Jake told me there was to be a supper party later," said Krafft.
"It's clear enough," contributed Mrs. Sherwood. "The whole thing is a plot to murder or do worse. I've been through '50 and '51, and I know."
"I can't believe yet that Sansome—" said Keith doubtfully.
"Oh, Sansome is merely a tool, I don't doubt," replied Mrs. Sherwood.
"I can find out to-morrow from Mex Ryan who sent the note," said Krafft.
"Let's get out of this horrible place!" cried Nan with a convulsive shiver.
Again they had great difficulty in finding any one to get their rigs, but finally repeated calls brought the hostler and Jake himself. The latter made some growl about payment for the entertainment, but at this Keith turned on him with such concentrated fury that he muttered something and slouched away. It was agreed that Krafft should conduct Mrs. Sherwood. They clambered into the two buggies and drove away.
The horse plodded slowly down the gravelled drive of the road house and turned into the main highway. It was very dark on earth, and very bright in the heavens. The afternoon fog had cleared away, dissipated in the warm air from the sand hills, for the day had been hot. Overhead flared thousands of stars, throwing the world small. Nan, shivering in reaction, nestled against her husband. He drew her close. She rested her cheek against his shoulder and sighed happily. Neither spoke.
At first Keith's whole being was filled with rage. His mind whirled with plans for revenge. On the morrow he would hunt down Morrell and Sansome. At the thought of what he would do to them, his teeth clamped and his muscles stiffened. Then he became wholly preoccupied with Nan's narrow escape. His quick mind visualized a hundred possibilities—suppose he had gone on Durkee's expedition? Suppose Mex Ryan had not happened to remember his name? Suppose Mrs. Sherwood and Krafft had not found him? Suppose they had been an hour later? Suppose—He leaned over tenderly to draw the lap robe closer about her. She had stopped shivering and was nestling contentedly against him.
But gradually the storm in Keith's soul fell. The great and solemn night stood over against his vision, and at last he could not but look. The splendour of the magnificent skies, the dreamy peace of the velvet-black earth lying supine like a weary creature at rest—these two simple infinities of space and of promise took him to themselves. An eager glad chorus of frogs came from some invisible pool. The slithering sound of the sand dividing before the buggy wheels whispered. Every once in a while the plodding horse sighed deeply.
With the warm cozy feel of the woman, his woman, in the hollow of his arm, his spirit stilled and uplifted by the simple yet august and eternal things before him, Keith fell into inchoate rumination. The fever of activity in the city, the clash of men's interests, greeds, and passions, the tumult and striving, the sweat and dust of the arena fell to nothing about his feet. He cleared his vision of the small necessary unessentials, and stared forth wide-eyed at the big simplicities of life—truth as one sees it, loyalty to one's ideal, charity toward one's beaten enemy, a steadfast front toward one's unbeaten enemy, scorn of pettiness, to be unafraid. Unless the struggle is for and by these things, it is useless, meaningless. And one's possessions—Keith's left arm tightened convulsively. He had come near to losing the only possession worth while. At the pressure Nan stirred sleepily.
"Are we there, dear?" she inquired, raising her head.
Keith had reined in the horse, and was peering into the surrounding darkness. He laughed.
"No, we seem to be here," he replied, "And I'm blest if I know where 'here' is! I've been day-dreaming!"
"I believe I've been asleep," confessed Nan.
They both stared about them, but could discern nothing familiar in the dim outlines of the hills. Not a light flickered.
"Perhaps if you'd give the horse his head, he'd take us home. I've heard, they would," suggested Nan.
"He's had his head completely for the last two hours. That theory is exploded. We must have turned wrong after leaving Jake's Place."
"Well, we're on a road. It must go somewhere."
Keith, with some difficulty, managed to awaken the horse. It sighed and resumed its plodding.
"I'm afraid we're lost," confessed Keith.
"I don't much care," confessed Nan.
"He seems to be a perfectly safe horse," said he.
By way of answer to this she passed her arms gently about his neck and bent his lips to hers. The horse immediately stopped.
"Seems a fairly intelligent brute, too," observed Keith, after a few moments.
"Did you ever see so many stars?" said she.
The buggy moved slowly, on through the night. They did not talk. Explanations and narrative could wait until the morrow—a distant morrow only dimly foreseen, across this vast ocean of night. All sense of tune or direction left them; they were wandering irresponsibly, without thought of why, as children wander and get lost. After a long time they saw a silver gleam far ahead and below them.
"That must be the bay," said Keith. "If we turn to the right we ought to get back to town."
"I suppose so," said Nan.
A very long time later the horse stopped short with an air of finality, and refused absolutely to proceed. Keith descended to see what was the matter.
"The road seems to end here," he told her. "There's a steep descent just ahead."
"Nothing," he replied, climbing back into the buggy.
The horse slumbered profoundly. They wrapped the lap robe around themselves. For a tune they whispered little half-forgotten things to each other. The pauses grew longer and longer. With an effort she roused herself to press her lips again to his. They, too, slept. And as dawn slowly lighted the world, they must have presented a strange and bizarre silhouette atop the hill against the paling sky—the old sagging buggy, the horse with head down and ears adroop, the lovers clasped in each other's arms.
Silently all about them the new day was preparing its great spectacle. The stars were growing dim; the masses of eastern hills were becoming visible. A full rich life was swelling through the world, quietly, stealthily, as though under cover of darkness multitudes were stealing to their posts. Shortly, when the signal was given, the curtain would roll up, the fanfare of trumpets would resound—A meadow lark chirped low out of the blackness. And another, boldly, with full throat, uttered its liquid, joyous song. This was apparently the signal. The east turned gray. Mt. Tamalpais caught the first ghostly light. And ecstatically the birds and the insects and the flying and crawling and creeping things awakened, and each in his own voice and manner devoutly welcomed the brand-new day with its fresh, clean chances of life and its forgetfulness of old, disagreeable things. The meadow larks became hundreds, the song sparrows trilled, distant cocks crowed, and a dog barked exuberantly far away.
Keith stirred and looked about him. Objects were already becoming dimly visible. Suddenly something attracted his attention. He held his head sideways, listening. Faintly down the little land breeze came the sound of a bell. It was the Vigilante tocsin. Nan sat up, blinking and putting her hair back from her eyes. She laughed a little happily.
"Why, it's the dawn!" she cried, "We've been out all night!"
"The dawn," repeated Keith, his arm about her, but his ear attuned to the beat of the distant bell. "The gray dawn of better things."
As the Keiths, on the way, drove across what is now Harbour View, they stopped to watch a bark standing out through the Golden Gate before the gentle morning land breeze. She made a pretty sight, for the new-risen sun whitened her sails. Aboard her was the arch-plotter, Morrell. Had they known of that fact, it is to be doubted whether they would have felt any great disappointment over his escape, or any deep animosity at all. The outcome of his efforts had been clarifying. The bark was bound for the Sandwich Islands. Morrell's dispositions for flight at a moment's notice had been made long since; in fact, since the first days of Vigilante activity. He lingered in the islands for some years, at first cutting quite a dash; then, as his money dwindled and his schemes failed, he degenerated slowly. His latter end was probably as a small copra trader in the South Seas; but that is unknown. Mrs. Morrell—if indeed she was the man's legal wife at all—thus frankly abandoned, put a bold front on the whole matter. She returned to her house. As the Keiths in no manner molested her, she took heart. With no resources other than heavily mortgaged real property, she found herself forced to do something for a living. In the course of events we see Mrs. Morrell keeping a flashy boarding-house, hanging precariously on the outer fringe of the lax society of the times, frowned upon by the respectable, but more or less sought by the fast men and young girls only too numerous among the idle of that day.
Ben Sansome went south. For twenty years he lived in Los Angeles, where he cut a figure, but from which he always cast longing eyes back upon San Francisco. He had a furtive lookout for arrivals from the north. One day, however, he came face to face with Keith. As the latter did not annihilate him on the spot, Sansome plucked up courage. He returned to San Francisco, There in time he attained a position dear to his heart; he became an "old beau," frequenting the teas and balls, appraising the debutantes, giving his opinion on vintage wines, leading a comfortable, idle, selfish, useless, graceful life. His only discomfort was his occasional encounters with the Keiths. Mrs. Keith never distinguished him from thin air unless others were present. Keith had always in his eye a gleam of contempt which, perhaps, Sansome acknowledged, was natural; but it was a contempt with a dash of amusement in it, and that galled. Still—Ben was satisfied. He gained the distinction of having discovered the epicurean value of sand- dabs.
The Sherwoods founded the family of that name.
Terry, arrested for the stabbing of Hopkins, was at first very humble, promising to resign his Supreme Court Judgeship. As time went on he became arrogant. The Committee of Vigilance was rather at a loss. If Hopkins died, they could do no less than hang Terry: and they realized fully that in executing a Justice of the Supreme Court they were entering deep waters. To the relief of everybody Hopkins fully recovered. After being held closely in custody, Terry was finally released, with a resolution that he be declared unfit for office. Once free, however, he revised his intention of resigning. His subsequent career proved as lawless and undisciplined as its earlier promise. Finally he was killed while in the act of attempting to assassinate Justice Stephen Field, an old, weak, helpless, and unarmed man. If Terry holds any significance in history, it is that of being the strongest factor in the complete wrecking of the Law and Order party!
For with the capture of the arsenals, and all their arms, open opposition to the Committee of Vigilance came to an end. The Executive Committee continued its work. Numberless malefactors and suspects were banished; two more men, Hetherington and Brace, were solemnly hanged. On the 8th. of August the cells were practically empty. It was determined to disband on the 21st.
That ceremony was signalized by a parade on the 18th. Four regiments of infantry, two squadrons of cavalry, a battalion of riflemen, a battalion of pistol men, and a battalion of police were in line. The entire city turned out to cheer.
As for the effects of this movement, the reader must be referred to the historians. It is sufficient to say that for years San Francisco enjoyed a model government and almost complete immunity from crime.
One evening about twilight two men stood in the gathering shadows of the Plaza. They were old friends, but had in times of stress stood on opposite sides. The elder man shook his head skeptically.
"That is all very well," said he, "but where are your Vigilantes now?"
The other raised his hand toward the great bell of the Monumental silhouetted against the afterglow in the sky.
"Toll that bell, sir, and you will see!" replied Coleman solemnly.