Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

They had, indeed, done it with talent. Fine white coal-ash, scattered over the hastily arranged cloths and then fanned off to avoid unnatural surplus, suggested an inference that might easily deceive. But when the two officers had jerked the last obstructing gunny-sack out of that chimney-hole the view that rewarded them comprised one large splay-foot.

They got him down, sooty and perspiring, and very wroth. They searched him for arms and found that he had turned his gun and razor over to the woman before making his ascent. At first he was confused, but as he breathed less creosote he grew more threatening and bold.

the force were recruits together, had not the major himself impressed upon his troopers, one and all,

'In making an arrest you may use no force beyond the minimum necessary." That crowd, then, must not be allowed to conceive ideas that would necessitate violence.

"They will centre at first on the horses,' the sergeant theorized to himself. 'I'll amuse them with the horses while Gjertsen gets ahead with the man. 'Gjertsen,' he said, 'remain dismounted and start away with the prisoner. I'll follow you.'

Sergeant Jacobs killed as much time as he could in untying the two mounts. The crowd looked on, intent, sullen,

'We'll handcuff this man,' said the and muttering. At last one in the front sergeant.

As the irons clicked fast, the woman burst out again into railings. "Tin soldiers!' she screamed, and launched into her malodorous vocabulary.

II

Meanwhile, a mob of no mean dimensions had assembled around the house. It numbered several hundred persons, chiefly negroes and foreign miners, with the negroes everywhere well to the fore. Sergeant Jacobs, with a practiced glance, estimated its temper and its probable trend of thought, Much, as he well knew, depended on the justice of that quick estimate. His object was, first, to get his prisoner out of Cherry Valley and over to the Burgettstown jail without harm to the man; and, second but not less, to avoid any outbreak and consequent birth of ill feeling on the part of the crowd itself.

'Got to make good in that county,' Captain Pitcher had said. 'You are going to establish a name for the force.'

rank shouted,

[ocr errors]

'What are you taking this man away

for?'

'Why do you ask?' responded the officer.

'I got a right to know. He lives here. I demand to know.'

The speaker was a blue-black giant with a mouth like a collapsible megaphone. His manner was truculent.

'If you want to find out,' coolly replied the sergeant, 'come down to the squire's office by and by. Then you can hear all about it.'

The murmurs of the negroes swelled, bordered on abuse. The sergeant faced around.

'I am an officer of the State Police,' said he, very sharply and distinctly. 'Remember that you are permitted to show no disrespect and to use no bad language concerning the uniform of the State of Pennsylvania, which I wear.'

As yet they guessed but dimly of what he spoke. The meaning had still to be proved to them. But something in his bearing gave them pause, nevertheless.

With all their lawless ill-will, with And back in the first days, when all all their old impunity, with all their

swarming numbers, they hesitated and held back in the presence of this one stranger. In the crowd there were a hundred young men of far more than the sergeant's weight, men of ox-like strength, bred to blood and violence. A sheriff's posse, however well armed, would have been their half-holiday joy. But this solitary figure now confronting them diffused some unknown influence was as strange as if it had descended from Mars. The uniform, color of a thunder-cloud, severe as if cast in steel, suggesting a power somewhere unseen; the body that moulded the uniform, lithe, clean-muscled, hard, suggested an iron discipline that itself is power; the face, clear-cut, lean, quick, with dark, live eyes, faithfully promising surprise to whoever should go too far-all these contributed their parts. The crowd held back.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Jacobs, watching the progress of his comrade, saw him safely turn the corner of the street. In a moment more he would be passing the Coal Company's store. "There,' thought the sergeant, 'we shall certainly get backing. The superintendent will come out with his men.'

Leading the horses, and at a deliberate pace, not to excite the mob, he moved on to rejoin Gjertsen.

They passed the company store. It was crowded with the very people on whom officers of the State should have been able to count for staunch support. But not a man of them came forth. Instead, they hung in the windows and doors, with jeers on their faces, voicing grotesque solicitude as to the fate of 'tin soldiers' in Cherry Valley-betting on the number of pieces into which they would be dissected before the hour was done.

The two officers paid no heed - kept straight on their homeward course. The manacled negro walked before them. The crowd, bunched dark and

swollen, like swarming bees, hung buzzing where the sergeant had left it.

'I guess we're all right now,' said Gjertsen.

'We'll mount in a moment,' the sergeant assented.

But at this the prisoner, who had so far submitted, sullenly dumb, aroused himself to dispute his fate.

'I ain't goin' to walk to Burgettstown,' he announced. 'If you want me to go to Burgettstown, you got to take me in a rig.'

'Keep right along going. We can't get any conveyance here. A four-mile walk won't hurt anybody,' answered the sergeant good-naturedly.

The fellow slouched on for a few yards, obedient though glowering. But he had caught his cue. His aim now was to communicate it to his timorous friends behind.

'By Moses, I ain't goin' on!' he bellowed; and stopped short in his tracks.

'Go on,' said the sergeant.

The prisoner obeyed once more. But he had gained a moment's time, and time was all that was needed for his policy to take effect. This also the troopers appreciated.

Another rod or two, and then the black played his trump card. He flung himself flat on the ground. 'I won't walk no fo' miles for nobody!' he howled. 'I won't walk no fo' miles for nobody on earth! Yah! Yah! Yah!'

Trooper Gjertsen jerked him upright. It was not too easily done, for the fellow made himself a dead, disjointed, flaccid mass. Yet done it was, and quickly, for such a job. Meanwhile Sergeant Jacobs held the horses, and kept a corner of his eye on the crowd.

The crowd was moving at last. The big blue-black spokesman, leading it, was coming on at a dead run. By the posture of his hand, the sergeant thought that he was holding concealed

a revolver. Therefore, interposing himself between Private Gjertsen with his captive and the oncoming giant, and holding the horses with his left arm as a man holds a shield, he awaited the moment. It came. He saw that the negro's hands were empty - and that he was making for the prisoner first.

'Here,' shouted the new arrival, at the top of his bull-like lungs, 'you don't have to go with these men. They don't have no authority here. They can't take you, I say.'

From the rapidly nearing crowd rose an inarticulate howl of applause.

Sergeant Jacobs, enveloped in calm, proceeded like a methodical nurse with an infant lunatic. Without difficulty or seeming exertion, he encircled the big negro with his grip, pinning the two flapping arms tight to the body.

He had dropped the horses. Apache, he knew, would stand alone, like the friend and brother that he was, in the hour of need.

"Take the cuff off that other fellow's right hand, Gjertsen. Snap it on this one's left. So! There's a pair of love-birds for you!-Now, you two, you are not going to start a riot. March!'

The thing was done so quickly, so unexpectedly, that it had the effect of a stroke of fate. The big bold leader, the dare-devil spokesman, had been plucked like a wayside weed. In an instant it was over. Shame sat upon him. His place of glory could know him no

more.

Where the leader had fallen so desperately, would the crew rush in and dare? It parleyed. It hesitated.

But the two burly blacks were not yet subdued. 'We'll have our rights!' bellowed the giant, a sea-lawyer ashore. 'You're obliged to give us transportation.'

"Transpo'tation! Transpo'tation!' howled the other. 'We want transpo'tation!'

'You can't compel us to walk. It's against the law.'

Said Sergeant Jacobs, 'You'll walk or be dragged.'

Then each trooper pulled his hitching-strap from his saddle, each fastened a strap to a negro's unmanacled wrist, and mounted.

'Start up,' ordered the sergeant.

The blacks came to their feet with sprawling haste. Handcuffed together like Siamese twins, and with their free hands lariated by a taut line, they had no choice.

'Well I guess we'll walk,' growled

one.

'Until you're done guessing and are quite sure of it, you'll walk as you are,' the sergeant replied.

They plunged on for a few yards, between the two horses.

'Please, sir, won't you kindly allow us to walk in front of the horses in the natural way, if you please, sir!'

It was the big spokesman this time, his insolence suddenly gone.

As Gjertsen unfastened the straps, the sergeant looked back. The crowd, so shortly before on the ragged verge of an outbreak that would have put enmity between the people and the force in that valley for years to come- that crowd of hostile hundreds was melting away. No more fight was left in it. It was thinking. It was going home. It was almost won to a laugh.

'I believe the major would like that,' Sergeant Jacobs murmured.

'I think Captain Pitcher would say it's a right start,' Gjertsen elaborated. 'But there were moments-'

"There were,' the sergeant concurred. The march ended at the squire's office door.

'Now, what about the other man?' asked the justice, having disposed of the subject of the first arrest.

'In his case,' responded the sergeant,

'we ask for a considerable penalty. These are our first arrests in Washington County. We intend to be fair, square, and not too severe. But this man tried his best to cause a riot in resistance to the execution of the Law. We do not intend to encourage such enterprise.'

'I'll give him four months,' said the squire.

Later, the prisoner begged that he might speak to Sergeant Jacobs alone. 'Cap'n,' said he, 'squire's given me four months. But before I go away, I want to explain to you that I did n't know you was a State Police officer. Didn't know what a State Police officer is. I came up from Virginny, I did. I thought you was just like all the militia down there just tin soldiers that nobody don't mind. An', cap'n, I want to ask your pardon before I go away, because, when I get out, Cherry Valley ain't no place for me unless you know I'm your man.'

'Marse Sergeant Jacobs' man, indeed!' snorted old Uncle White-wool when he heard the tale. He had already

attached himself, body, soul, and lonely heart, to his new hero, and had endowed him with all the attributes of long ago. 'Marse Sergeant Jacobs don't have no use fo' dat common new trash! I'se de onlies' nigger he tolerate 'bout his pusson. My name is Jacobs, sah, if you please. I'se changed it to suit de occasion.'

Such was the introduction of the State Police to Washington County; and the sub-station details, one after another over a long period, followed a good start. But at last came a day when the 'economy' of the State Legislature so operated that Burgettstown sub-station must be withdrawn for lack of funds to sustain its Spartan cost; and then was afforded a gauge of the real feeling of the farmers toward the force. That thinly populated region sent in a petition signed by nearly four thousand persons, urgently protesting against the withdrawal of the devoted friends and protectors without whose presence they scarcely now knew how to live.

FROM SEA TO MOUNTAIN-TOP IN MALAYSIA

BY WILLIAM BEEBE

I

WITH a frantic dab of my butterflynet I scooped up a big sea-snake banded with scarlet and blue, writhing and striving to stand on his flat tail and climb out. The Chinaboy who manœuvred the sampan against the tide screamed, 'Uler laut! Uler bisa!'

and even my Eurasian collector did not look happy at the approaching bagful of poisonous snake.

Like an extremely unsteady Colossus of Rhodes, I stood astride the bow, facing the racing tide, and now and then dipped up treasures which were borne toward me. This was an Alicein-Wonderland inversion of my im

agined first day in the Malay Peninsula. I had pictured mountainous jungles with their buffalo-like sladangs, with tigers and peacocks, and with gayly garbed Malays in sarong and kris. Here I was, close to shore, but marooned by red tape for a day and a night. Even the quarantine officials could find no fault with my going zoölogizing off the steamer, and so, greatly to the edification of the passengers and crew, I spent hours in scooping weird things from the swift tide.

Aside from their scientific interest, our catches were marvels of beautiful color. There were jelly-fish of opalescent silver, scalloped with sepia, alive with medusa locks-a tangle of writhing, stinging strands. To a touch of the hand these were like burning nettles; the slightest contact with any worm or crab meant death; and yet, in our glass jars, swimming in and out of the terrible tresses, were little fish, some silvery pink, others glowing with a sheen of coppery gold. Immune from paralysis and death, these small, communal creatures not only were fearless of the tentacles, but subsisted on the prey of the jelly-fish, living their whole lives as parasitic guests, unbidden, yet protected and fed by their involuntary hosts. Iridescent, feathery-footed seaworms, pale green sea-snakes, blue translucent shrimps - all came to our net; and when the sun sank, I dabbled for phosphorescent creatures of strange forms and unknown names. With the water reflecting the tarnished silver of a lop-sided moon, I finally climbed on board, and the Chinaboy steward refused to make up my berth until the sea-snakes were safe in the alcohol tanks.

Before I turned in, I went to my favorite spot, the very point of the bow, and watched the brilliant phosphorescence. The anchor-chains of the steamer, and the stern, and even my face

high above the water, were brightly lighted by the baleful, greenish wave which ever rolled outward, driven by the onrushing tide; and overhead the green glow of the great tail of Halley's comet, sicklied by the moonlight, seemed also to partake of the phosphorescent illumination. Far up in the peak of the steamer's bow, hidden in some rusty crevice, a cricket chirped strongly, continuously, and shrilly - a tiny passenger who had sung at intervals all the way from Calcutta. He had paid no fare, and to-night he might, if he chose, defy the quarantine which kept me so impatiently immured. He would spread his wings and fly ashore to this strange region so many hundreds of miles south of the low marshes of the Hoogly.

My second day in Malaysia was almost spoiled by an attempt to eat a durian. Eating a durian, or, as in my case, essaying to do so, is an experience not soon lost to memory. Its achievement must be productive of a noticeable growth of ego. I often think how I should enjoy being able casually to boast, 'I have eaten durians in the East,' or, "This tastes as good as a durian.' The durian has a powerful personality. It is large and green, not unlike a breadfruit, and it is covered with unpleasant spikes. But these, I am told, are no deterrent to the man or beast who has once acquired the durian habit who, by complete suppression or mortification of the organs of smell, has succeeded in swallowing even a section of the fruit. It grows on tall trees, and natives will sit for days waiting for a ripening durian to drop. White children, once immune, prefer it to all other fruit; tigers will approach close to Malay villages, risking their lives to vary their carnivorous diet with a mouthful of durian.

If simplicity in diction indicates strength, I will state tersely that the

« AnkstesnisTęsti »