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“THE BRAVEST DEED I EVER KNEW”
THE OUTCAST OF RUTLEDGE
BY JEAN PARKMAN
TESTLING among the hills of west- home with Philip's family. He was a
ern New York lies a little village strange, quiet man who seemed to shun of a thousand inhabitants, which for con- everybody. He was respected and feared venience I will call Rutledge. The Em- by the community. Men said that Jonapire State has many small towns like it, than Wendall's word was as good as his quiet, sleepy places, where the world note, but they never sought his company. moves on with scarcely a ripple, and the A girl once laughingly said of him that he people are well-to-do, with a few rich was Jus:ice personified- astride a tombfamilies, such as are usually found in stone, and the word tombstone clung to small towns.
him for ever after. The village contained three licensed In 1880, Rutledge celebrated its hunhotels; namely, the Ardmore, the New- dredth anniversary, everybody joining bury, and the Riverside. The Ardmore heart and hand to make it a success. Newswas called the “up-to-date" house, and papers advertised it far and wide, and inwas frequented by people making preten- vitations to come and bring their friends sion to fashion; the Newbury catered to were issued to former residents of the the traveling public, and was patronized town, wherever they could be found. by politicians; while the Riverside took The result was most gratifying. All what was left. It was a quaint, old-fash- summer long people were coming and ioned inn, the proprietor an old man, going. It was one long holiday, and good-natured and kindly. He was every- scarcely a home in the village was without body's friend, and here congregated the guests. male population of Rutledge. For there A great time of rejoicing it was, too, as was a large, old-fashioned bar-room, with friend greeted friend, and at every turn a little office back of it, where a man could one would meet some one not looked for, take a friend for a private talk, and to the and perhaps not seen for years. Old men left a large, sunny parlor, always open, sat in shady places and laughed over boywhere every one
was welcome. There ish pranks of fifty years before, and old every one met on an equal footing, and ladies talked softly together of the changes such a thing as caste was not thought of. the intervening years had wrought since There, too, everybody's affairs were dis- they were girls together. Graves almost cussed, for while in general peace and har- forgotten in the old cemetery were visited mony prevailed, the town was by no means and covered with flowers. exempt from gossip.
Among the strangers came an old woAmong the prominent men in the com
Who she was or where she came munity was Philip Wendall, whose farm from, none could tell. She was just a vile, lay so close to the village that his house drunken old hag, wearing a tattered, bluestood at the end of Main Street. It was calico dress, a dirty, gray jacket, heavy a fine property, with a spacious, old brick calfskin shoes tied at the top with a white house of Revolutionary date. At the cord. Over her white, unkempt locks, time of the event which I am about to which seemed to be of all lengths, was tied narrate the farm was owned by Jonathan a dirty, torn, blue veil. Her face was Wendall, Philip's father, who made his weather-beaten and hard from exposure,
the blue eyes were bleared and of evil ex- side had tried in various ways to make the pression, the teeth broken and uneven- old woman tell who she was, but unsucaltogether a picture that people shrank cessfully. Finally she said, if they wanted from looking at the second time.
to help her, to send for Philip Wendall. vicious to the last degree, and carried an He would know who her people were, and old leather hand-bag, from which she was would give her money to go to Chicago, repeatedly seen to take a bottle and drink. where she came from. She slept under sheds, and begged her Accordingly messenger
defood at back doors, and when refused, spatched, and in a short time Philip Wenbroke into such a volley of oaths that peo- dall came. Crowds of people were out to ple were afraid, and nearly always called see the damage done by the storm, and her back and gave her something to eat. the word was passed from one to an
After a month had passed, and she other that Wendall knew who the old seemed in no way ready to leave town,
When he asked that the old people grew afraid of her, and were about village doctor be summoned, curiosity was to see what could be done to rid the town at its height, and standing on tiptoes. The of her presence, when one day late in Sep- ravages made by the storm were forgotten, tember a terrific wind-storm, accompanied and all interest was centered in the conby hail and rain, struck the village. It jecture as to where the human wreck was one of the heaviest storms Rutledge might belong. had ever experienced. It came so sud- To the astonishment of the crowd, the denly that people were unprepared for it, report passed from mouth to mouth that and there was much scurrying to reach Philip Wendall's mother was not dead, as home before the full force of the storm it had generally been thought, but many broke. Almost the first blast caught the years before had deserted her husband and shed under which the old woman was baby son for another man while on a trip lying, turning it completely over, and giv- to the West, and it was surmised that this ing her such a shock that she ran up Vain was she; that she had come not to claim a Street in great fright.
home, but to beg for money, and go her Struggling against the wind, she at last way without letting the fact be made reached the Ardmore, and tried to gain en- known. trance to the bar-room, but was promptly The crowd about the Riverside disejected. She then tried the Newbury, but persed as the Wendall carriage came was turned out there also. She staggered slowly up the street, driven by the doctor, down the street, the wind taking her al- but only went a short distance, and, gathmost off her feet, and sat down on the ering into small groups, waited. curbstone in front of the Riverside, while When at last the door of the inn the rain fell in torrents on her back. opened, and Philip Wendall, aristocratic When the proprietor noticed her, he beck- to the finger-tips, came out, leading the old oned her to come in, and helped her up the woman, wrapped in shawls provided by steps and across the wide porch. Noticing the landlady, and, picking her up, placed the smiles as he entered the bar-room with her gently in the carriage, and seated himher, he said: “Gentlemen, my mother was self beside her, drawing the robes around a woman. For her sake, you will please her and placing an arm about her shoulomit remarks." The smiles died away as ders to hold the wraps, people were not he took her to the kitchen, and told his ashamed of the tears that coursed down wife to make her comfortable, and try to their cheeks, and men stood with bared learn who she was and where she might be heads, bowing reverently to the nobility of going: but in her drunken condition noth- the man who thus publicly acknowledged ing could be learned, so she was given a that degraded woman to be his mother. cot, where she slept heavily all night.
In the thirty years that have passed since All night the storm raged, unrooting dear old Rutledge celebrated its hunbuildings, uprooting trees, and doing great dredth anniversary, we have all witnessed damage to the town. The morning deeds that were brave; but all those that I dawned bright and glorious, but the air have ever met who witnessed that act say was piercing. The landlady at the River- it was the bravest deed they ever saw.
BY W. T. NICHOLS
he had slept when he could, and had eaten things, none of them pleasant: a load where he might combine celerity of service of scrap-iron, for instance, trying to pass with concentration of nutriment. At six by, and never succ
cceeding, or some mer- o'clock, with ten minutes for dinner, he ciless demon turned boiler-maker and had hurled himself upon a quick-lunch pounding away with a heart full of mal- stool and called for picked-up codfish. ice and untiring arms, filling the room “Baldy” esteemed this dish highly: it was with a staccato, metallic clatter that as- ready prepared; it was filling; it could be saulted the ear as with a swift series of bolted. Unhappily, somebody had been blows.
too lavish of salt. Whether the fault lay Perhaps, to one pausing to listen, the with bronzed fisherman or careless cook, idea of demoniac energy would have ap- "Baldy" at eight o'clock was in keen dispealed more strongly; for there was hint comfort; at a quarter of eleven his mouth of method in the madness. The racing and throat were as parched as the Sahara, rat-tat-tats, tat-tats, rat-tat-tat-tat-tats and while he mechanically recorded on his meant something; they were conveying a type-writer the doings of umpires and emmessage.
So much decided, the stranger pires, his soul's desire was that tank across might have strolled on, shrugging his the hall. . shoulders, and happy that it was not his There was an instant's pause after a lot to toil as the slave of that brutally in- despatch from Paris dealing with the fall sistent disturber of the peace.
of a ministry. Then the sounder began to The slave, as it happened, was divert- sputter. Rat-tat-tat, r’rat-tat-t't't, rat-tat ing himself with no fanciful notions. it went more furiously than ever, then “Baldy" Sanderson was a practical young suddenly halted. Somebody down the line man of practical concerns, two of which had “broken." “Baldy” approved that chanced to be fighting for control. One break; it was all very well to code freely, was that the fastest sender at division but there was a limit on arbitraries. Had headquarters of the great Amalgamated he been less like an overtaxed machine, he Press was trying to clear the wire before would have grinned in sympathy with the he gave the eleven o'clock luncheon signal; protest of his colleague fifty miles away. the other was that he, “Baldy” Sander- For a moment he sat motionless, while the son, was afflicted by more than fevered controversy was fought out, then fell to thirst. Under the theory that every one tapping the keys of his type-writer, while of us has a dual personality, it might be over the wire the message was repeated. said that the official “Baldy" heeded only Weary as he was, he caught the note of the withering speed and style eccentrici- scorn in the just perceptible slackening of ties of the sender, while the personal pace. It was as if the sender was saying: "Baldy” panted, if not for the water “The primary class will please give attenbrooks, at least for the iced tank in the tion-- no, the kindergarten! This, dear news-room across the corridor. “Nipper"
'Nipper” children, is in Morse, the telegraph-alphaHerron, night-trick operator, was ailing, bet, you know, all spelled out nicely for and Sanderson, the day man on the wire, beginners. Listen carefully, and see if you was doubling up; which, being inter- can't read it--now!” preted, meant that he had worked twenty- As for the message, it was clicked off in nine hours out of the last thirty-nine, that
“Washn 8. T pr thsv sent to t sa a Five minutes later Sanderson was at a num o diplomatic nmns incng tf"
quick-lunch counter clamoring for a secAll that was left for Sanderson to do ond cup of black coffee. Back in the was merely to transcribe it thus:
newspaper-office a man in shirt-sleeves, "WASHINGTON (in capital letters) with a green shade over his eyes, was incomma Feb period 8 dash The President vading the managing editor's room. In this evening sent to the Senate a number his hand was a type-written sheet, which of diplomatic nominations comma includ- he laid on the other's desk. ing the following colon."
"What you think of that, Mr. Shelby?" It was an important list, for it began he asked, his finger pointing to the de“Ambassadors." Also it was a terse re- spatch from Washington. cital, full of meaning-a name, a State, a The managing editor got upon his feet. foreign capital. One line told that the " Have somebody see Breelton, of course,” gentleman representing the United States he said crisply. "Bring him here, if he 'll at Rome was transferred to London; the come. It 's the story of the day fast next that a minister to a leading second- enough. Let me keep this a minute or rate nation was promoted to Berlin. Then two.” came:
The man in shirt-sleeves nodded and “Jerome H. Breelton of Vershire" departed. Shelby, bearing the sheet of
Another break! That man down the paper, hurried into the hall. Glancing in line demanded a repetition of the roster at an open door, he saw an elderly man from the beginning. “Baldy" reached for donning an overcoat with much deliberaa match, and relighted the stub of cigarette tion. hanging from the corner of his mouth; "I 'm just in time, Mr. Graves,” said then he straightened himself in his chair. he. “Here's something for a wearied The fellow at headquarters, nettled by the vision." interruption, was growling instead of set- The elderly man put on a pair of eyeting about honoring the request. "Baldy" glasses, read the despatch, and carefully reckoned the seconds. His tongue seemed replaced the glasses in their case. to be cracking; relief was temptingly near. "Mr. Shelby," he said
he said solemnly, He sprang up, rushed into the hall, and “words fail me. This is the most amazhurled himself into the
news-room; ingly preposterous thing that has occurred snatched a glass, filled it in two motions, in my experience in politics. You 'll get and emptied it in one. Then he sped back, a statement from him, naturally." spurred by the call of his sounder, audible “I 've told the boys to bring him here, afar; for it was set at its loudest, and re- if possible." enforced by a sheet of tin. Fate, however,
"Good! Better impress the urgency had decreed that others beside the operator should move with haste that night; and as Shelby started for
the news-room, “Baldy” shot from the news-room door, Graves following closely. They found tall and preoccupied young man strode
the man in shirt-sleeves talking earnestly toward it. There was a collision, a gruff to a stout youth. word of apology from the tall youth, a "I 've 'phoned Mr. Breelton's house, grunt from Sanderson. He had caught but he's out-the maid does n't know the repeated “Vershire,” but in the con- where,” he reported. “So Mason will go fusion of the impact with the other man there, and wait for him to come back. He lost what immediately followed. Then understands what 's wanted.” “St Petersb” reached him, but after 'Excellent!” said Shelby. Mason, that the dots and dashes were not quite while not gifted as a news-writer, was of clear. The crack sender jumbled things a bulldog tenacity of purpose, which ennow and then, as Baldy” knew by dire deared him to his superiors more than experience; but “St. Petersb” was all any could many adjectives. Graves, however, reasonable being should need to hear. He looked disturbed. dropped into his chair, and recorded "at “I must see Breelton," he said sharply. St. Petersburg" as the completion of the “Can't you find out where he is, and get line which began “Jerome H. Breelton of hold of him at once ?" Vershire."
A reporter, writing at a near-by desk,
looked up from his work. He was the tall herited income, and that makes him look chap who had collided with Sanderson, and down on anybody with brains enough to his manner was no less care-burdened than work; he has dabbled in local politics, and it had been at the time of that incident. that makes him think he's a master of
“You will find Mr. Breelton at Judge statecraft. He 'll turn us into the laughMeredith's house,” he said with somewhat ing-stock of the civilized world." of an effort. “There is a bridge-club that Shelby perched himself on a table near meets there to-night."
the editor's desk. “Then how does he get “Much obliged, Mr. Hamilton," said the job?” he asked. “What 's the politics Shelby, in a matter-of-fact way. The in the move?" modern newspaper may be prying at times, “Politics?" Graves's face was a study. but in some directions its managers can be “Politics? There 's only one possible exsingularly incurious; and to none of the planation-Effingham." group did it occur to inquire how and "What, Senator Effingham?" when a member of the staff had become so
Effingham is the enfant well acquainted with the doings of the terrible of the party. You know, in the next ambassador to Russia. “Take a car- present state of things, he's unlikely to be riage, Mr. Mason, drive to the Mere- reëlected to the senate, even if the other diths', and bring Breelton to the office," side does n't capture the next legislature. the managing editor went on. “I think We had a close shave last time to hold the he 'll come willingly enough; he ought to. State, you remember. Now, if you 'll adDo you imagine, Mr. Graves, it 'll be mit that Effingham believes his case hopenews to him?"
less, it is possible - just possible, mind you The editor-in-chief scowled. “Umph! - that he has engineered this farce to If Breelton 's possible as an ambassador, throw discredit on the faction which is anything else is possible. I 'm going to now in control of the machine. Of course my room. When you 've done with him, the appointment will be chalked up to its bring him in."
account, for Breelton has been identified “Very well, sir,” Shelby said; and with it after a fashion. In fact, he 's one thereupon Graves departed, Mason van- of Senator Worth's hangers-on." ished, and the news-room went back to “But Worth may have done this." commonplace affairs. Presently the noise “Not he. Worth has too much sense of the telegraph-instrument was heard, and too little imagination. But he 'll have lunch being over and "Baldy" Sanderson, to bear the odium. That 's the one reason refreshed and with thirst appeased, having for believing even the fantastic scheming returned to duty. Shelby, passing by, of Effingham could have evolved such a paused for a moment to watch the oper- public disgrace and humiliation. The ator, and then went on to Graves's sanc- theory 's far-fetched, I admit; I apologize tum. He discovered the editor freed of for it; I can't ask its acceptance— bar Bedhis overcoat and at his desk, his air being lam and Effingham.” that of a person confronted by a singularly Shelby laughed, and swung himself mysterious problem.
down from the table. “I'll turn the hero “This is a most extraordinary piece of over to you as soon as we 've extracted an business, Shelby," he said. "You know interview," he said as he departed. what the ambassadorship is, and you Graves, however, was to see Breelton know the sort of man to whom it now before the very capable inquisitors of the seems to be given. Jerome Breelton to news-department were privileged to quesrepresent the greatest republic at one of tion him. Mason's task, as the event the proudest courts of Europe ! Oh, proved, had made no demands upon his Lord!"
tenacity. As bad as that, sir?"
“Breelton 'd have come along in an Graves tapped the desk with his glasses. aëroplane, if I 'd had one handy,” the "Worse! Vastly worse! Breelton 's stout youth explained to the man in shirtideally unfit. He is a fool, Shelby. sleeves. “All he wanted, when he heard That's his one talent, and he 's developed what was up, was to get where he could it to the limit. He 's of decent family, hear more. Oh, yes; I gave him his first and that makes him a snob; he has an in- tip. He 'most forgot his hat and coat, and