Puslapio vaizdai

Jason was sent from New York to see him. Can you not visualize it?

The ardent youngster arrives; is willing to take from Palatainos any orders, however desperate. And he finds that Palatainos is a traitor, is in the pay of the Turks! Sitting in the kitchen, by a fireplace of whitewashed bricks, Palatainos leers upon the horrified Yankee lad with the poisonous sophistication of an international spy. He bids Jason spy upon the Greeks in America. Staggered, Jason goes feebly up to bed. All next day he resists the traitor's beguilement. Palatainos plies him with brandy. The poet sits The poet sits brooding; suddenly he springs up, righteously attacks Palatainos, the lamp is upset, the house partly burned, and Jason, a stranger and friendless, is arrested by the besotted country constable. He was, in prison, as truly a martyr to freedom as if he had veritably been shot in a tender-colored Grecian afternoon!

My reconstruction of the history was-though now I was so distressed that I could take but little pride in itmuch quoted from "The Gonfalon" not only in America, but abroad. The "Mercure de France" mentioned it, inexcusably misspelling my name. I turned to the tracing of Jason's history after his release from the penitentiary, since now I did not know when and where he actually had died. I was making plans when there appeared another letter from Whitney Edgerton, the secret assassin of Jason. He snarled that Palatinus's name was not Palatainos. It was Palatinus. He was not a Greek; he was a Swede.

I wrote to Edgerton, demanded his proofs, his sources for all this information. He did not answer. swered none of my half-dozen letters.

He an

"The Gonfalon" announced that it had been deceived in regard to Jason, that it would publish nothing more about him. So for the third time Jason Sanders was killed, and this time he seemed likely to remain dead.

Shaky, impoverished by my explorations on Cape Cod and in Delaware, warned by the dean that I should do well to stick to my teaching and cease "these unfortunate attempts to gain notoriety," I slunk into quiet classwork, seemingly defeated. Yet all the while I longed to know when and where Jason really had died. Might he not have served valorously in the American Civil War? But how was I to know? Then came my most extraordinary adventure in the service of Jason Sanders.

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I'd thought you were almost indiffer- desk, with built-in cases containing ent to him."

"I" It flared out, that sound. She went on compactly: "Let's not talk about it, please. Now tell me, did n't you think they made a mistake at the symphony-"

I had a not at all pleasant conference with the dean before I took my train for Melanchthon, Nebraska.

I had a plan. This was toward the end of the academic year 1919-20. I would pretend to be a chap who, after working in offices, that sort of thing, desired to begin graduate work in English, but had first to make up for the courses he had forgotten since college. I wanted the celebrated Dr. Whitney Edgerton to tutor me. I would lure him into boarding me at his house; a young professor like Edgerton would be able to use the money. Once dwelling there, it would be easy enough to search his study, to find what histories or letters had furnished his secret knowledge of Jason.

I adopted as nom de guerre the name Smith. That was, perhaps, rather ingenious, since it is a common name, and therefore unlikely to arouse attention. It was all reasonable, and should have been easy.

But when, in Melanchthon, I was directed to Edgerton's house, I perceived that, instead of being a poor devil, he was uncomfortably rich. His was a monstrous Georgian house, all white columns and dormers and iron window-railings and brick terrace and formal gardens. Reluctantly, I gained entrance, and addressed my self to Edgerton.

He was a square-built, pompous, rimless-eye-glassed, youngish youngish man. His study was luxurious, with velvet curtains at the windows, with a vast

books I yearned to possess; a vast apartment, all white and tender blue, against which my two patchy rooms in Hendrik Hall seemed beggary. I had expected to have to conceal hatred, but instead I was embarrassed. Yet by the gods it was I, the shabby scholar, who had created Jason, and this silken, sulky dilettante who without reason had stabbed him!

While I peeped about, I was telling Edgerton, perhaps less deftly than I had planned, of my desire to be tutored. He answered:

"You 're very complimentary, I'm sure, but I 'm afraid it 's impossible. I'll recommend you to some oneBy the way, what was your college?"

Heaven knows how it popped into my head, but I recalled an obscure and provincial school, Titus College, of which I knew nothing.

He lightened.

"Oh, really? Did you know I had my first instructorship in Titus? Have n't had any news from there for years. How is President Dolson, and Mrs. Siebel? Oh, and how is dear old Cassaworthy?"

May the trustees of Titus College forgive me! I had President Dolson sick of a fever, and Cassaworthy— professor, janitor, village undertaker, or whatever he was-taking to golf. As for Mrs. Siebel, she 'd given me a cup of tea only a few months ago. Edgerton seemed astonished. I have often wondered whether Mrs. Siebel would actually be most likely to serve tea, gin, or vitriol.

Edgerton got rid of me. He amiably kicked me out. He smiled, gave me the name of a "suitable tutor," mesmerized me toward the door, and did not invite me to return. I sat on a

bench in the Melanchthon station. Apparently I had come from the Atlantic seaboard to Nebraska to sit on this broken bench and watch an undesirable citizen spit at a box of sawdust.

I spent the night at a not agreeable tavern or hotel, and next day I again called on Edgerton. I had surmised that he would be bored by the sight of me. He was. I begged him to permit me to look over his library. Impatiently, he left me alone, hinting, "When you go out, be sure and close the front door."

With the chance of some one entering, it would not have been safe to scurry through his desk and his ingenious cabinets in search of data regarding Jason. But while I stood apparently reading, with a pen-knife I so loosened the screws in a window-catch that the window could be thrust up from outside.

I was going to burglarize the study. That night, somewhat after twelve, I left my room in the hotel, yawned about the office, pretended to glance at the ragged magazines, sighed to the drowsy night clerk, "I think I'll have some fresh air before I retire," and sauntered out. In my inner pocket were a screw-driver and a small electric torch which I had that afternoon purchased at a hardware shop. I knew from the fiction into which I had sometimes dipped that burglars find these torches and screw-drivers, or "jimmies," of value in their work.

I endeavored, as I stole about the streets, to assume an expression of ferocity, to intimidate whoever might endeavor to interrupt me. For this purpose I placed my spectacles in my pocket and disarrayed my bow-tie.

I was, perhaps, thrown off my nor

mal balance. For the good name of Jason Sanders I would risk all of serene repute that had been precious to me. So I, who had been a lecturer to respectful students, edged beneath the cottonwoods, slipped across a lawn, crawled over a wire fence, and stood in the garden of Whitney Edgerton. It was fenced and walled on all sides save toward the street. That way, then, I should have to run in case of eruption

out into the illumination of a street lamp. I might be very prettily trapped. Suddenly I was a-tremble, utterly incredulous that I should be here.

I could n't do it.

I was menaced from every side. Was n't that some one peering from an upper window of the house? Did n't a curtain move in the study? What was that creak behind me? I, who had never in my life spoken to a policeman save to ask a direction, had thrust myself in here, an intruder, to be treated like a common vagrant, to be shamed and roughly handled. As I grudgingly swayed toward the study windows I was uneasy before imaginary eyes. I do not remember a fear of being shot. It was something vaguer and more enfeebling: it was the staring disapproval of all my civilization, schools, churches, banks, the courts, and Quinta. But I came to the central window of the study, the window whose catch I had loosened.

I could n't do it.

It had seemed so easy in fiction; but crawl in there? Into the darkness? Face the unknown? Shin over the sill like a freshman? Sneak and pilfer like a mucker?

I touched the window; I think I tried to push it up. It was beyond my strength.

Disgust galvanized me. I to thieve

from the thief who had slain Jason Sanders? Never! I had a right to know his information; I had a right. By heavens! I'd shake it out of him; I 'd face, beat, kill that snobbish hound. I remember running about the corner of the house, jabbing the button of the bell, bumping the door panels with sore palms.

A light, and Edgerton's voice: "What is it? What is it?" "Quick! A man hurt! Motor accident!" I bellowed.

He opened the door. I was on him, pushing him back into the hall, demanding.

"I want everything you have about Jason Sanders!" I noticed then that he had a revolver. I am afraid I hurt his wrist. Somewhat after, when I had placed him in a chair in the study, I said: "Where did you get your data? And where did Sanders die?"

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"You must be this idiot that 's been responsible for the Sanders folderol, he was gasping.

"Will you be so good as to listen? I am going to kill you unless you give me what I wish, and immediately."

"Wh-what! See here!"

I don't remember. It 's curious; my head aches when I try to recall that part. I think I must have struck him, yet that seems strange, for certainly he was larger than I and better fed. But I can hear him piping:

"This is an outrage! You're insane! But if you insist, I had all my facts about Sanders from Peter Williams, a clergyman out in Yancey, Colorado." "Let me see your letters from him." "Is that necessary?"

"Do you think I'd trust you?” "Well, I have only one letter here. The others are in my safe-deposit vault. Williams first wrote to me

when he read my letter criticizing your articles. He has given me a good many details. He apparently has some reason to hate the memory of Sanders. Here's his latest epistle, some more facts about Sanders's delightful poetic career."

One glance showed me that this was indeed the case. The sheet which Edgerton handed me had inartistically printed at the top, "Rev. Peter F. Williams, Renewalist Brotherhood Congregation, Yancey, Colo.," and one sentence was, "Before this, Sanders's treatment of women in Kennuit was disgraceful-can't be too strongly condem'd."

I had the serpent of whose venom Edgerton was but the bearer!


I backed out, left Edgerton. said a silly thing, which shows that he was at least as flustered as I was:

"Good-by, Lieutenant Sandec!"

I was certain that he would have me apprehended if I returned to my hotel, even for so long as would be needed to gather my effects. Instantly, I decided to abandon my luggage, hasten out of town. Fortunately, I had with me neither my other suit nor the fitted bag which Quinta had given me. Traversing only side streets, I sped out of town by the railway track. Then I was glad of the pocket flash-light, which, outside the study window, had seemed absurd. I sat on the railway embankment. I can still feel the grittiness of sharp-cornered cinders and cracked rock, still see the soggy pile of rotting logs beside the embankment upon which my flash-light cast a milky beam as I switched it on in order that I might study Peter Williams's letter. Already I had a clue.

Peter Williams was also the name of that son of the Reverend Abner

Williams of Kennuit whom Jason had often trounced. I wished that he had I wished that he had trounced him oftener and more roundly. The Reverend Abner had hurled Jason out of his church. All this would naturally institute a feud between Jason and the Williamses. There might have been additional causes, perchance rivalry for a girl.

Well! The Reverend Peter Williams's letter to Edgerton was typewritten. That modernity would indicate, in a village parson, a man not over forty years old. Was it not logical to guess that Peter Williams of Colorado was the grandson of Peter Williams of Kennuit, and that he had utilized information long possessed by the whole tribe of the Williamses to destroy his grandsire's enemy, Jason?

By dawn I was on a way-train; in the afternoon of the next day I was in Yancey, Colorado.

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My rage was sated by perceiving that I had to deal not with any grandson of Jason's foe, but with the actual original Peter Williams himself! I was beholding one who had been honored by the fists of Jason Sanders. He was too precious a serpent not to draw him with cunning. Filially, I pursued:

"I was told-I once spent a summer on Cape Cod-"

"Who are you, young man?" "Smith, William Smith. I am atraveling salesman."

"Well, well, let's have it."

"I was told you came from the Cape-from Kennuit." "Who told ye?"

“Really, I can't seem for the moment to remember."

"Well, what of it?"

"I just wondered if you were n't the son of the Reverend Abner Williams who used to be pastor in Kennuit way back about 1840."

"I be. I am the son in the spirit of that man of holiness."

Cautiously, oh, so cautiously, simulating veneration, I hinted:

"Then you must have known this fellow I've been reading about; this Jason-what was it?-Sandwich?"

"Jason Sanders. Yes, sir, I knew him well, too well. A viler wretch never lived. A wine-bibber, a man of wrath, blind to the inner grace, he was all that I seek to destroy." Williams's voice loomed like a cathedral service. I hated him, yet I was impressed. I ventured:

"One thing I 've often wondered.

"Is this the Reverend Peter Wil- They say this Sanders fellow did n't

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