Puslapio vaizdai

Drawn by Reginald Birch


Within seventeen hours I had got them all aboard the Cape boat, and had seen the women safely collapsed into seasickness. The next few weeks were for me, as for the invalids, a low delirium, clouded with fantastic memories of Portuguese officials trying to tax calves'-foot jelly; voluble doctors insisting that true typhoid was unknown in the island; nurses who had to be exercised, taken out of themselves, and returned on the tick of change of guard; night slides down glassy, cobbled streets, smelling of sewage and flowers, between walls whose every stone and patch Attley and I knew; vigils in stucco verandas, watching the curve and descent of great stars or drawing auguries from the break of dawn; insane interludes of gambling at the local casino, where we won heaps of unconsoling silver; blasts of steamers arriving and departing in the roads; help offered by total strangers, grabbed at or thrust aside; the long nightmare crumbling back into sanity one forenoon under a vine-covered trellis, where Attley sat hugging a nurse, while the others danced a noiseless, neat-footed breakdown never learned at the Middlesex Hospital. At last, as the tension came out all over us in

aches and tingles that we put down to the country wine, a vision of Mrs. Godfrey, her gray hair turned to spun-glass, but her eyes triumphant over the shadow of retreating death beneath them, with Milly, enormously grown, and clutching life back to her young breast, both stretched out on cane chairs, clamoring for food.

In this ungirt hour there imported himself into our life a youngish-looking middle-aged man of the name of Shend, with a blurred face and deprecating eyes. He said that he had gambled with me at the casino, which was no recommendation, and I remember that he gave me a basket of champagne and liqueur brandy for the invalids, which a sailor in a red-tasseled cap carried up to the cottage for me at 3 A.M. He turned out to be the son of some merchant prince in the oil and color line, and the owner of a four-hundred-ton steam yacht, into which, at his gentle insistence, we later shifted our camp, staff, and equipage, Milly weeping with delight to escape from the horrible cottage. There we lay off Funchal for weeks, while Shend did miracles of luxury and attendance through deputies, and never once asked how his guests were enjoying themselves. Indeed,

for several days at a time we would see nothing of him. He was, he said, subject to malaria. Giving as they do with both hands, I knew that Attley and Mrs. Godfrey could take nobly; but I never met a man who so nobly gave and so nobly received thanks as Shend did.

"Tell us why you have been so unbelievably kind to us Gipsies," Mrs. Godfrey said to him one day on deck.

He looked up from a diagram of some Thames-mouth shoals which he was explaining to me, and answered with his gentle smile:

"I will. It 's because it makes me happy-it makes me more than happy to be with you. It makes me comfortable. You know how selfish men are? If a man feels comfortable all over with certain people, he 'll bore them to death, just like a dog. You always make me feel as if pleasant things were going to happen to me."

"Have n't any ever happened before?" Milly asked.

"This is the most pleasant thing that has happened to me in ever so many years," he replied. "I feel like the man in the Bible, 'It 's good for me to be here.' As a rule I don't feel that it's good for me to be anywhere in particular." Then, as one begging a favor: "You'll let me come home with you-in the same boat I mean? I'd take you back in this thing of mine, and that would save you packing your trunks, but she 's too lively for winter work across the bay."

We booked our berths, and when the time came, he wafted us and ours aboard the Southampton mail-boat with the pomp. of plenipotentiaries and the precision of the navy. Then he dismissed his yacht, and became an inconspicuous passenger in a cabin opposite to mine, on the port side.

We ran at once into early British spring weather, followed by sou'west gales. Mrs. Godfrey, Milly, and the nurses disappeared. Attley stood it out, visibly yellowing, till the next meal, and followed suit, and Shend and I had the little table all to ourselves. I found him even more attractive when the women were away. The natural sweetness of the man, his voice, and bearing all fascinated me, and his knowledge of practical seamanship (he held an extra master's certificate) was a real joy. We sat long in the empty sa

loon and longer in the smoking-room, making dashes down-stairs over slippery decks at the eleventh hour.

It was on Friday night, just as I was going to bed, that he came into my cabin, after cleaning his teeth, which he did half a dozen times a day.

"I say," he began hurriedly, "do you mind if I come in here for a little? I'm a bit edgy." I must have shown surprise. "I'm ever so much better about liquor than I used to be, but-it 's the whisky in the suitcase that throws me. For God's sake! old man, don't go back on me tonight! Look at my hands!"

They were fairly jumping at the wrists. He sat down on a trunk that had slid out with the roll. We had reduced speed, and were surging in confused seas that pounded on the black port-glasses. The night promised to be a pleasant one!

"You understand, of course, don't you?" he chattered.

"Oh, yes," I said cheerfully; "but how


"No, no; on no account the doctor. Tell a doctor, tell the whole ship. Besides, I 've only got a touch of 'em. You'd never have guessed it, would you? The tooth-wash does the trick. I'll give you the prescription."

"I'll send a note to the doctor for a prescription, shall I?" I suggested.

"Right! I put myself unreservedly in your hands. Fact is, I always did. I said to myself-sure I don't bore you?the minute I saw you, I said, 'Thou art the man.'" He repeated the phrase as he picked at his knees. "All the same, you can take it from me that the ewe-lamb business is a rotten bad one. I don't care how unfaithful the shepherd may be. Drunk or sober, 't is n't cricket."

A surge of the trunk threw him across the cabin as the steward answered my bell. I wrote my requisition to the doctor while Shend was struggling to his feet.

"What's wrong?" he began. "Oh, I know. We 're slowing for soundings off Ushant; it's about time, too. You'd better ship the dead-lights when you come back, Matchem. It'll save you waking us later. This sea 's going to get up when the tide turns. That 'll show you," he said as the man left, "that I am to be trusted. You-you 'll stop me if I say anything I should n't, won't you?"

"Talk away," I replied, "if it makes you feel better."

"That's it; you 've exactly hit it. You always make me feel better. I can rely on you. It 's awkward soundings, but you'll see me through it. We'll defeat him yet. I may be an utterly worthless devil, but I 'm not a brawler. I told him so at breakfast. I said, 'Doctor, I detest brawling, but if ever you allow that girl to be insulted again as Clements insulted her, I will break your neck with my own hands.' You think I was right?"

"Absolutely," I agreed.

"Then we need n't discuss the matter any further. That man was a murderer in intention, outside the law, you understand, as it was then-but he never deceived me. I told him so. I said to him at the time, 'I don't know what price you 're going to put on my head, but if ever you allow Clements to insult her again, you'll never live to claim it.''

"And what did he do?" I asked, to carry on the conversation, for Matchem entered with the bromide.

"I 'ave n't 'eard," said that faithful servant of the Union-Castle Company.

"Quite right. Never alarm the passengers. Ship the dead-light, will you?" Matchem shipped it, for we were rolling very heavily. There were tramplings and gull-like cries from on deck. Shend looked at me with a mariner's eye.

"That 's nothing," he said protectingly. "Oh, it's all right for you," I said, jumping at the idea. "I have n't an extra master's certificate. I'm only a passenger. I confess it funks me."

Instantly his whole bearing changed to answer the appeal.

"My dear fellow, it 's as simple as houses. We're hunting for sixty-five fathom water. Anything short of sixty, with a sou'west wind means-but I'll get my Channel Pilot out of my cabin and give you the general idea. I'm only too grateful to do anything to put your mind at ease.”

And so, perhaps, for another hour,he declined the drink,-Channel Pilot in hand, he navigated us round Ushant, and at my request up-channel to Southampton, light by light, with explanations and reminiscences. I professed myself soothed at last, and suggested bed.

"In a second," said he. "Now, you would n't think, would you-" he glanced off the book toward my wildly swaying dressing-gown on the door-"that I've been seeing things for the last half-hour? Fact is, I'm just on the edge of 'em, skating on thin ice round the cornernor'east as near as nothing-where that dog's looking at me."

"Oh, crumpled up at once. Lead still ing? Come on! You know." A tremor going, Matchem?" shook him, and he put his hand on my knee, and whispered with great meaning: "I'll letter or halve it with you. There! You begin."

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"What's the dog like?" I asked. "Ah, that is comforting of you. Most men walk through 'em, to show me that they are n't real. As if I did n't know! But you're different. Anybody could see that with half an eye." He stiffened and pointed. "Damn it all! The dog sees it, too, with half an Why, he knows you. Knows you perfectly. D' you know him?” "How can I tell if he is n't real?" I insisted.

“But you can! You 're all right. I saw that from the first. Don't go back on me now or I shall go to pieces like the Drummond Castle-I beg your pardon, old man; but, you see, you do know the dog. I'll prove it. What 's that dog do

"S," said I, to humor him, for a dog would most likely be standing or sitting, or may be scratching or sniffing.

"Q," he went on, and I could feel the heat of his shaking hand.

"U," said I. There was no other letter possible; but I was shaking, too. “I." "N.".

"T-i-n-g," he ran out. "There! That proves it. I knew you knew him. You don't know what a relief that is. Between ourselves, old man, he-he 's been turning up lately a-a damn sight more often than I cared for. And a squinting dog-a dog that squints! I mean that 's a bit too much. Eh? What?" He gulped and half rose, and I thought that the full tide of delirium would be on him in another sentence.

"Not a bit of it," I said as a last chance, with my hand over the bell-punch. "Why, you've just proved that I know him; so there are two of us in the game, anyhow."

"By Jove! that is an idea! Of course there are. I knew you'd see me through.

We 'll defeat them yet. Hi, pup! He's gone! Absolutely disappeared!" He sighed with relief, and I caught the lucky


"Good business! I expect he only came to have a look at me," I said. "Now, get this drink down, and turn in to the lower bunk."

He obeyed, protesting that he could not inconvenience me, and in the midst of apologies sank into a dead sleep. I expected a wakeful night, having a certain amount to think over; but no sooner had I scrambled into the top bunk than sleep came on me like a wave from the other side of the world.

In the morning there were apologies, which we got over at breakfast before our party were about.

"I suppose-after this-well, I don't blame you. I'm rather a lonely chap, though." His eyes lifted dog-like across the table.

"Shend," I replied, "I'm not running a Sunday-school. You 're coming home with me in my car as soon as we land."

"That is kind of you-kinder than you think."

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Romsey. Then I sat in front for a little while to talk to my Malachi. When I looked back, Shend was solidly asleep, and stayed so for the next two hours, while Leggatt chased Attley's fat limousine along the green-speckled hedges. He woke up when we said good-by at Mittleham, with promises to meet again very


"Moira," he whispered; and just then. Mrs. Godfrey and Milly came to table with their shore-going hats on.

We did not tie up till noon, but the faithful Leggatt had intrigued his way down to the dock-edge, and beside him sat Malachi, wearing the collar of gold, or Leggatt makes it look so, as eloquent as Demosthenes. Shend flinched a little when he saw him. We packed Mrs. Godfrey and Milly into Attley's car, they were going with him to Mittleham, of course, and drew clear across the railway lines to find England all lit and perfumed for spring. Shend sighed with happiness.

"D' you know," he said, "if-if you 'd chucked me-I should have gone down to my cabin after breakfast and cut my throat. And now-it 's like a dream-a good dream, you know."

We lunched with the other three at

"And I hope," said Mrs. Godfrey, "that everything pleasant will happen to you."

"Heaps and heaps-all at once," cried long, weak Milly, waving her wet handkerchief.

"I've just got to look in at a house near here for a minute to inquire about a dog," I said, "and then we will go home."

"I used to know this part of the world," he replied, and said no more till Leggatt shot past the lodge at the Sichliffes' gate. Then I heard him gasp.

Miss Sichliffe, in a green waterproof, an orange jersey, and a pinkish leather hat, was working at a bulb-border. She straightened herself as the car stopped and breathed hard. Shend got out and walked toward her. They shook hands, turned round together, and went into the house. Then the dog Harvey pranced out corkily from under the lee of a bench. Malachi, with one joyous whoop, fell on him as an enemy and an equal. Harvey, for his part, freed from all burden whatsoever except the obvious duty of a man dog on his own ground, met Malachi without reserve or remorse, and with six months' additional growth to come and go on.

"Don't check 'em!" cried Leggatt, dancing round the flurry. "They 've both been saving up for each other all this time. It 'll do 'em worlds of good."

"Leggatt," I said, "will you take Mr. Shend's bag and suitcase up to the house and put them down just inside the door? Then we will go on.”

So I enjoyed the finish alone. It was a red, dead heat, and they licked each other's jaws in amity till Harvey, one imploring eye on me, leaped into the front seat, and Malachi backed his appeal. It was theft, but I took him, and we talked all the way home of r-rats and r-rabbits and bones and baths and the other basic facts of life. That evening after dinner they slept before the fire, with their warm

chins across the hollows of my ankles-to each chin an ankle-till I kicked them up-stairs to bed.

I WAS not at Mittleham when she came over to announce her engagement, but I heard of it when Attley and Mrs. Godfrey came, forty miles an hour, over to me, and Mrs. Godfrey called me names of the worst for suppression of information.

"Oh, that's it, is it?" I cried incautiously. "That was why I ought to have verified my quotations. The spelling de

"As long as it was n't me, I don't feated me. Wait a moment, and it will care," said Attley. come back. Dr. Johnson said: 'He was a vicious man,' " I began.

"I believe you knew it all along," Mrs. Godfrey repeated. "Else what made you drive that man literally into her arms?"

"To ask after the dog Harvey," I replied.

"Then, what's the beast doing here?" Attley demanded, for Malachi and the dog Harvey were deep in a council of the family with Bettina, who was being outargued.

"Oh, Harvey seemed to think himself de trop where he was," I said. "And she has n't sent after him. You'd better save Bettina before they kill her."

was n't born in lies, he was baptized in 'em. D' you know why she called him Harvey? It only occurred to me in those dreadful days when I was ill, and one can't keep from thinking, and thinks everything. D' you know your Boswell? What did Dr. Johnson say about Hervey with an e!"

"There's been enough lying about that dog," said Mrs. Godfrey to me. "If he

"But very kind to me,'" Mrs. Godfrey prompted. Then, both together: 'If you call a dog Hervey, I shall love him.''


"So you were mixed up in it. At any rate, you had your suspicions from the first? Tell me," she said.

"Ella," I said, "I don't know anything rational or reasonable about any of it. It was all woman work, and it scared me horribly."

"Why?" she asked.

That was six years ago. I have written this tale to let her know, wherever she may be.

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