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by an occasional gleam across the dull to the end. The decree against him had background of shadows. The seventh not yet been unalterably declared. Anxglass, however, shone in the lamplight ious as he was to end everything, he felt like a huge and baleful eye, winking occa- that he still must not judge the Fates hassionally with malevolent glee as the rum- tily. If they were playing with him, he ble of traffic in the street jarred its con- would show them that he could pay withtents to a momentary activity.
out flinching. There was still time for a The hot, lifeless atmosphere of the telegram, a special-delivery letter, a late summer night rolled in through the open caller, bringing him some favorable news. window, . bringing with it suffocating Twenty minutes! They ticked themselves odors of garbage, tarred pavements, and into eternity with intolerable slowness. dust. Occasional flashes of lightning irra- Presently he rose and, taking the clock diated the western sky, turning its opaque from the mantel, placed it on the table surface to a livid green, and giving sure beneath the lamp. He staggered with promise of a storm. Paul Remington set weakness as he returned to his chair and his teeth, dropped the unlighted cigarette resumed his contemplation of the glass. he held between his fingers, and, rising, Strange figures seemed to move about went toward the chiffonier.
within its fiery depths. He saw himself The single remaining glass stood at the struggling endlessly with a grisly gray end of the straggling line. He took it in presence, the demon of failure, strong, his hand, and, going to the table, sat cruel, relentless, crushing him down every down. For a moment he seemed about to time he strove to rise and overcome it. drink, but the impulse passed. Placing
Placing Beside him stood the figure of a woman, the glass before him, he sat regarding it a young girl, with brown eyes and a pout
a fixedly. Under the light of the lamp the ing red mouth. It was Aline, and she mobile liquid quivered and danced as watched the combat with a cynical smile, though inspired with life. Every night her white teeth pressed into the scarlet of for six successive nights he had gone her under lip. through all the agonies of death, only to Other shadowy figures moved here and realize that once again the Fates had stayed there, clutching at him with snake-like their hands. Now no further doubt re- hands-poverty, disgrace, madness. He mained: the seventh glass, glowing before shuddered as he strained his eyes into the him with almost diabolical intensity, held topaz depths of the glass. the destiny for which he had declared His emotions, as he contemplated drinkhimself ready. How like the Fates, he ing it, differed materially from those thought, to subject him to this sevenfold which had filled him on the occasion of agony. He pictured them in his mind, sit- drinking the other six. Then there had ting in judgment upon him, thumbs down, existed an element of uncertainty, a chance implacable, voting him death, yet willing that the glass he was about to drink might to give it to him only after they had pro- not, after all, contain the fatal dose. Now longed his sufferings to the very last mo- all such uncertainty had been removed. ment of the last day. No doubt they were The remaining glass held the poison which grinning with delight at the ironic an- would waft his soul, should he by chance swer they had accorded his feeble chal- find that he possessed one, gently and not lenge. Well, in a few moments all would painfully beyond the confines of this life. be over.
He was ready to do his part. The twenty minutes, which had by now And yet there was no reason for hurry. diminished to seventeen, alone stood beHe had drunk the first glass at ten o'clock tween him and the hereafter. He had of that first night seven days before. Not thrown his challenge to the Fates, and he until ten o'clock would the allotted time had lost, unless within those few brief and expire. He felt for his watch, only to fleeting moments his judges should relent. remember that he had long ago pawned it. The nickel alarm-clock ticked off the The cheap alarm-clock on the mantel moments with an astonishing amount of showed him that it still wanted twenty noise. The record of their passing grew minutes to ten.
louder and louder, until it resounded In twenty minutes many things might through the room like the pounding of a happen. He would play the game fairly trip-hammer. Yet despite the clamor with which they passed, the interval until the He felt distressingly weak from lack of hour seemed unbearably long. Reming- food, and the nervous excitement under ton was anxious to have the whole affair which he was laboring caused his heart over and done with. Time after time he to pound against the walls of his chest in wiped his sweating forehead and groaned a manner distinctly alarming. Its rapid as he watched the minute-hand of the beating sent a bewildering rush of blood clock creep with maddening slowness to- to his brain, and gave him a peculiar senward the hour.
sation of lightness, so that for a moment A curious dull feeling came over him. he gripped the arms of his chair as though He seemed no longer to belong to the to prevent himself from floating away into world of material things. Of all its space. He fixed his eyes upon the white myriad activities, its vast possessions, face of the clock, and watched the almost there remained to him only one thing, imperceptible movements of the hands. the glass of liquor which stood before The pounding of his heart increased him, glowing like some splendid and im- until he could hear it above the noisy tickpossible jewel.
ing of the clock. The two sounds raced Despite his willingness, his almost along side by side, filling the room with a eagerness, to abide by the results of his violent clamor. From time to time they experiment, Remington still strained his seemed to synchronize; then the beating ears, unconsciously perhaps, for some of his heart, being the more rapid, would sound that might indicate that even at this draw ahead of the ticking of the clock, eleventh hour his judges had relented. leaving him with a jarring and disagreeaThe faint ringing of the door-bell, three ble sense of discord, of lack of rhythm, flights below, might mean a message from which caused him inexpressible pain. He Aline, bidding him continue the fight. He found himself waiting with singular anxihad written to her that morning, sending ety for the moment when the two beats her a last farewell. There had been no would again merge into one. reply.
The first tumultuous, response of his The door-bell, however, did not ring. heart to the stimulant and the drug now The dull silence of the house remained began to disappear, and with it the burnunbroken save by the hum of traffic in the ing Alush which had suffused him. A cold street, the far-off playing of a hurdy- and disagreeable perspiration took its gurdy, the rattle of an elevated train. place, accompanied by a feeling of great
Remington, watching the clock, saw weakness. The action of his heart bethe minute-hand at last reach the vertical came less rapid; this he was able to deterposition which indicated the hour of ten. mine at once by observing the lengthening At almost the same moment a bell, far of the interval required for it to catch up off, began to beat its muffled strokes with the ticking of the clock. Soon they through the hot thickness of the night. were racing along side by side, matching He glanced swiftly, but unseeingly, about, beat for beat; then the heart began, allaughed a momentary laugh the very bit- most imperceptibly at first, to fall into terness of which stopped him as soon as the rear, and once again the unrhythmic he heard it, then turned to the table, and beating jarred his tensely drawn nerves. drank the seventh glass.
The effort to concentrate his gaze upon Remington knew very well the symp- the face of the clock became increasingly toms which would follow the drinking of painful. Try as he would, he found his that glass. The sudden rush of blood to eyes wandering about the room. The bed, his brain, the gradually weakening heart the chiffonier, the trunk beside the wall action, the labored respiration--all these seemed to have receded to immense and he had experienced in his imagination ghostly distances. Even the lamp, upon many times since he had first procured the which he could most easily fix his gaze, white powder which was to put an end to seemed to float away, and at the same all his earthly ills. He hurled the empty time to swell to absurd proportions. For glass defiantly across the
the room, and a time it hung in the air before him like laughed as it fell in a tinkling shower a huge grinning moon, then began to move along the wall. Then he sat back, and toward the far-off wall, growing larger with frozen lips waited for the end. and larger as it receded. The clock had vanished. He could no longer perceive Exerting all his strength, he rose from his it, but from a misty cloud about the table chair and staggered toward the window. its ominous ticking proclaimed the ebbing He must have air-air. If he could only moments of his life.
get that, nothing else mattered. He gasped for air, and found an ever- One step he took, two, with trembling increasing difficulty in breathing. The muscles and livid face. He could not see cloud about the table rose higher and the window; his senses no longer perhigher, enveloping him in a choking fog, formed their functions. Gasping, choking thick, gray, lifeless. · With a fierce effort for breath, he stumbled blindly toward he filled his lungs, and immediately the the wall. various objects in the room seemed to It appeared an incalculable distance rush back to their accustomed places. The away. His feet seemed made of stone, bed, the chiffonier, closed in about him, requiring an enormous effort to raise them the lamp winged its way back to the table, from the floor. A confused rumbling in while from the mists which surrounded it his brain deafened him. With one hand the face of the clock shone imperturbable he reached out, searching for the window. and bland.
And then, with a flash of unspeakable The relief, however, was only momen- brilliance, the lamp whirled itself upon tary. With the increase of his muscular him. For a moment it dazzled his eyes; weakness and the greater difficulty he ex- then it seemed all of a sudden to explode perienced in breathing, the vagueness of to the accompaniment of cyclopean thunthings about him returned with even der. greater force. This time the pieces of Remington's heart gave a final, despairfurniture vanished entirely, as though the ing beat. He flung his arms outward as walls of the room had opened and allowed all the rigidity which held his body upthem to be swallowed by the darkness right passed from it. With a choking cry without. The lamp, swollen to impossible he fell headlong upon the floor. size, now occupied the entire side of the The clock continued its monotonous room, the cracks in the shade giving to it ticking. The lamp glowed faintly from the appearance of an evil and grinning the table. Paul Remington, however, had face.
passed beyond all realization of their presThe ticking of the clock had by this It was just seven minutes past ten. time become a mighty pounding, as of a Outside, the thunder-storm raged with sledge-hammer on hollow pieces of iron. almost tropical fury. It drowned completely the faint beating Half a block in the direction of Broadof his heart. Above the tumult which way a diminutive figure in a dripping, filled the room came a roar as of distant black rubber coat struggled manfully thunder. It seemed to be the face in the westward against the swirl of the storm. lamp, addressing him. “Fate!" it mut- It was a messenger-boy, and beneath his tered with grinning lips-“Fate! Fate! coat he clutched a book containing a yelFate!" The words died away in a long low envelop. He zigzagged slowly along crackle of laughter. A luminous arm pro- the slippery pavement in the manner of a jected itself from the mists about the ta- vessel tacking against a head wind. From ble, the thumb of its huge, misshapen time to time he looked up at the numbers hand turned downward. Again the sharp, of the houses as he passed. rattling laugh vibrated through the room, At last, with a snort of relief, he accompanied by the thunderous roar of stopped, and, ascending the crumbling “Fate!"
brownstone steps of a house near the end Remington could endure no more. He of the block, jerked viciously at the oldknew that the next symptom would be a fashioned door-bell. paralysis of his muscles, followed by the A slender and acute-looking Irish girl stopping of his rapidly weakening heart. answered the summons. The boy fumbled He wanted to die, yet the instinct to live with his book. caused him to struggle against death with “Telegram for Mr. Remington," he all his strength. He felt himself unable announced stolidly. “Sign here." His longer to endure the choking sensation stubby forefinger indicated wetly a printed which accompanied his efforts to breathe. line upon the page.
The girl manipulated the bit of pencil sage meant that his affairs were on the which hung from the book by a string, mend. Of the ironic Fate which had then took the telegram and ascended caused the message to be delayed half an with increasing slowness to the third-floor hour by the storm and his changed adhall bedroom. Here she proceeded to dress she realized nothing. Closely folknock, at first gently, then with greater lowed by the maid, she ascended to Remand greater asperity. Her efforts, how- ington's door. ever, were unproductive of any result. The knocking was repeated, with no She tried the knob, only to find that the better results than before. Mrs. Perry door was locked. A feeling of alarm be- soon desisted. The noise bade fair to gan to creep over her. Soon her staccato rouse the entire house. assaults upon the door brought forth a "I'm going to break it open," she shrill chorus of disapproval from the oc- remarked, placing her strong shoulder cupants of the adjoining rooms.
against the door. The operation would Above the excitement thus created she present no serious difficulties, she very heard the penetrating voice of Mrs. Perry, well knew. The locks on the bedroom the landlady, ascending from the ground doors in her house were purposely frail, floor.
with an eye to just such contingencies. "Ellen!" it said warningly, "what are In a moment the door had splintered you doing up there?
itself softly open, and the two women “I 've got a telegram for Mr. Reming- stood horrified on the threshold. Remington. He won't answer."
ton's body lay huddled on the floor beMrs. Perry, grown gray in her profes- neath the window. Ellen started toward sion, scented trouble at once. Only the it, but her employer stopped her. previous winter a discouraged actor had "Don't touch a thing until the police deprived her of three weeks' board and get here," she warned. “Better go for brought unpleasant notoriety upon the one at once." house by turning on the gas.
The girl had just reached the lower “Ellen," she commanded sharply, hall when there came a sound of furious “come here at once."
ringing at the front door-bell. It vibrated “Yes, 'm." The girl descended the shrilly through the otherwise silent house. stairs and mechanically gave Mrs. Perry What commotion the noise of Ellen's the yellow envelop. Equally mechanically knocking had created had long since subthe latter took it and tore it open.
sided with its cause. Mrs. Perry peered
. "Maybe he's out," she suggested. downward over the balustrade of the
“No, 'm, he ain't out. He ain't been landing as the maid opened the door for out since noon. And, besides, his door 's the caller. locked on the inside. I tried to look From the darkness of the vestibule came through the keyhole. The key 's in it." a sound of excited whispering, followed
Mrs. Perry mumbled the telegram by a cry as a hurried figure swept into the aloud:
hall and up the stairs. Ellen followed,
murmuring unheeded protests. SimultaOwe you sincerest apologies. Have just neously they faced Mrs. Perry at the door been informed that wallet containing stolen
of the room. money has been traced to Zimmerman, who "Where is he?" the new-comer dehas confessed theft. Placed same in your manded on the crest of a sob. She was a pocket to avoid detection, meaning to claim
young girl, with red, pouting lips, their it from you as soon as you left the bank.
redness made the more noticeable by the Report to me in morning.
pallor of her face. HENRY LANGHAM.
The landlady raised her hand warnter he wrote me, that he means to com- into her native brogue. She pointed to mit suicide. Where is he? Quick! quick! the glasses. We may be too late.” With quivering Remington nodded. lips she strove to force her way into the The girl burst into a fit of hysterical room.
ingly. Such disturbance was not well for A look of grim understanding crossed the comfort and peace of mind of her Mrs. Perry's face. Remington's roomrent was three weeks in arrears, and she “Who are you?" she demanded. “What had about reached the conclusion that it do
you want?” was likely to remain so. If he had not “I 'm Aline Barnes. I want to see already done anything desperate, this mes- Mr. Remington. I 'm afraid, from a let
laughter. “We are too late," the landlady an- “Praise be!" she screamed. “Praise nounced sepulchrally as she stood aside be!" then sank into a chair and began to and motioned to the silent figure upon the rock herself to and fro. floor.
“Ellen, what 's the matter with you?” Aline gave a pitiful cry and tottered Mrs. Perry demanded sharply. toward Remington's prostrate form.
The girl was choking between laughter “He 's done it! he's done it !” she and tears. gasped. “O my God! my God!”
“I-1-praise be !— I knocked over three “He must have had it in one of them of thim glasses last Tuesday mornin' whin glasses,” Mrs. Perry said, her eyes fixed I was dustin' out the room. 1- I thought upon the array on the chiffonier.
it was just whisky in 'em, so I-I filled Ellen followed her glances.
'em up ag'in from the bottle in the closet.” "Mother Mary!" she gasped as she Remington rose unsteadily to his feet. heard the landlady's words. “Mother Aline was still clinging with frantic eagerMary!" With bulging eyes she crossed ness to his arm. Mrs. Perry thrust the the room.
telegram from Mr. Langham into his And then an amazing thing happened. hand. Paul Remington gave a sigh, opened his “I opened it,” was all she said. eyes, and slowly sat up. With incredu- He read the telegram through. Then lous face he gazed at the three women. he looked down at Aline. He had taken Aline, kneeling beside him, was the first no poison. The whisky, his weakened to recover her voice.
condition, his imagination - he had only “Paul," she screamed, "what is the fainted, after all. A feeling of littleness, matter?"
of humiliation, came over him. How He looked at her, wondering.
absurd now seemed his defiance of the "I–I don't know," he gasped. “I-I Fates. He glanced at Ellen, their unconmust have fainted. I can't understand. scious instrument, rocking to and fro in I took the poison—".
the chair. The challenge he had Aung to “Was it in wan o' thim ye had it?" them they had answered, through her, six cried the maid, relapsing for the moment days before.
BY DOUGLAS DUER
HILD of those lovers, mortal mirth and woe,
Poor Pagliaccio, fool and lover both,
Not dreaming that your play was mingled so
Of gaudy silks could hide so red a heart,
A soul so taunted of the powers below.
The flaring lights, and frightened faces round
A stained and sinking form! Oh, sure I know
A lovely sheath! Aha, Pagliaccio!