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tered, and she did not propose to try. She demanded comforts that Ben could not procure for her, and was stunned by his apparent imperviousness to her tears or gibes. How he could act so she did not see almost as if he liked such a life. She could not know that the revulsion from despair to hope, from the shadow of the prison to the light of freedom colored everything with a roseate glow that hid all discomfort and privation.
In a few weeks the firm started up again across the bay in Oakland. Ben and Rose took two tiny rooms, all they could secure in San Francisco's suddenly congested "bedroom," and began life over again with less than they had in their bridal days. To Rose's amazement, she found her husband changed as radically as her environment. His will had become adament. He dominated her-not unkindly, but unequivocably. She was reduced to the position of a child who learns that his wailings for injurious playthings are disregarded, and though she struggled gallantly, her boasted means of "managing Ben" failed at every trial. She found no solution for such marvelous innovations as saving money for a bank account, the stern cutting down of her dress allowance to fifty dollars a month, and his unalterable determination to keep his salary in his own hands for expenditure.
On his part, Ben was happy. The sudden removal of the heart-breaking load he had carried had taken from him the weight of years. He seemed like a boy again. His work was mere play, and the heap of debris over on Sansome street held in its mass of twisted iron, bricks and rubbish the secret that was now inviolate. He was only forty. By economy and careful planning he calculated that in ten years he could restore to the firm the money he had stolen. Just how he was to make restitution he did not know, but a way would present itself. Only ten years more and he would be free, body and soul, free to look every man in the face and ask no odds of any one.
It had not occurred to him that the records in the safe could have withstood the enormous heat of the seething furnace that the street had been. To be sure, he had seen the guard posted at the hole in the ground where the building had stood,
watching the inert mass of metal that had held his death warrant, and that the gold could be recovered he did not doubt, but not the books. That contingency had not troubled him.
It was not until the middle of June that Billings stopped at the office door one afternoon to say casually: "Like to go over and see the safe opened, Halleck? McCracken thinks it is cool enough now, and he says the books will be all right."
Plunged in one instant from the heights of security and hope to the bottomless pit of despair, Ben saw the room whirl madly around, and right itself with a crash; heard his stiff lips form the words, "Thank you; I'd like to go,' without a tremor, and followed the men to the street car, wondering, as he walked, if a felon ascending the steps of the scaffold was as unfeeling as he, on his way to certain disgrace.
The passage across the bay seemed endless. He listened to McCracken's stories of the marvelous salvation of papers subjected to extraordinary heat in the safes for which he was agent. He heard Billings and Stiffins congratulating themselves on recovering the voluminous accounts of the firm. He heard the raucous cries of the sea gulls, swooping for the food the passengers threw to them; but under it all he heard, far more distinctly, droningly reiterated over and over again, “We find the prisoner guilty as charged." And he saw the courtroom, crowded with a curious mob; saw his wife, surrounded by sympathetic friends; saw the judge on the bench; saw himself, shrinking as he stood to hear his sentence.
He moved off the boat as one trance; followed the party up the narrow footway on Market street; climbed over the piles of brick and rubbish on Sansome street; watched McCracken and his assistants surround the big steel box that had waited to betray him; saw the preparations for the dynamite; saw the tiny puff of smoke; heard the detonation that sounded in his ears like the crack of doom. It was not for him, the new life of uprightness and probity, that he had essayed so happily, and from which he knew nothing could ever have tempted him again. Not for him the esteem of his fellowmen, the respect and confidence of his employers and associates, but he must set his feet
in the dolorous way of detection, to trial, and to a living death. It would have been easier without this few weeks' respite, the deceitful hope of a chance to atone. He wished they would hurrythat it could be over quickly. He knew that he could bear but little more.
The door was finally wrenched open; he heard the agent say, triumphantly, "Ever see anything prettier than that, gentlemen?" He saw the neat row of ledgers, just as he had placed them; saw
Billings step forward to pull one out-the very one he feared; saw-Oh, merciful God; saw the flames that had brooded in abeyance for two months, spring up fiercely, seize their escaping prey, and with an exultant roar fill the black interior of the safe with one huge, angry blaze that shriveled the books and papers to ashes before their eyes, blotting out forever all evidence against him; giving him back-irrevocably, this time-the chance for which Ben Halleck had prayed.
IN THE HILLS
BY KENNETH O'NEILL
Our trail had better fork, you say?
For it gives me a hurt, in the heart.
We came to the camp together
When the hills were full of gold;
There were times when the way was hard
But we eased each other's burdens
With a hand-clasp-warm and strong.
A long road leads before us yet:
Must a few harsh words decide
That we must pull in different ways
Do you remember the fever
That once laid me low with pain?
You fought your way through storm and cold
You pulled me back from the darkness.
Our trail had better fork, you say?
(Seems like the pines are singing sweet
Seems like the roses on the hill
Have clean forgotten the snow!)
BY JOSEPH NOEL
HERE WAS plenty of room on the Market street car when Mrs. Ellen Taggart climbed on board. But the car was due at the ferry and the gripman gave evidence of impatience as he glanced over his shoulder to watch her struggles with several large and apparently self-willed bundles. On the signal to go ahead, he snapped the grip at the rope viciously, and in the lurch that followed, Mrs. Taggart lost her equilibrium and sat down on the lap of a small foreign-looking man, who was engrossed in a newspaper account of Japan's easy victory over a section of the Czar's navy.
"What it is?" cried the small man, with an accent it would be hard for one not an authority on the dialects of the thirty odd. nationalities comprising the Russian Empire to classify. "You can't find another seat only on me? And the car is only half full-yes?"
The laugh that rippled among the passengers made Mrs. Ellen Taggart think things outside the domain of this story. She picked up her scattered bundles, giving special care to a box containing her bonnet, and sat silent and morose. At Powell street the foreigner grasped firmly a pasteboard box that had been lying near his feet, and went to the rear platform. Mrs. Taggart glared at him till he dropped off midway in the block; then she glared at the conductor, about the corners of whose mouth hovered the ghost of a smile.
It was not until she arrived at Ewing Court, near the entrance of which stood three of her neighbors, that the tension was relieved. The memory of the bundles and the triumph they contained pushed everything disagreeable to the back of the head, which may account for the very decided tilt to her nose as she mounted the steps. Once inside the house she laid the bundles on the table so the firm name where the purchases were made would
show, then began to make tea. Not a second was wasted, but she was none too soon.
"It's cozy ye are," said Mrs. Dunleavy, the advance guard of the army of gossips, sticking her head in at the door. "For a lone widder without no childer, ye do get a lot of comfort."
Mrs. Dunleavy's brood of six kept her half the time ready for a sojourn in the psychopathic ward, but she had fallen into the habit of saving her face by extending pity to the childless. She made room for the other members of the army to pass, and as they sipped the tea, boiled to get the full flavor, and talked of the finery they used to wear before evil fortune compelled them to move south of the tracks, she shared their covert glances at the evidence of wealth piled on the table. Mrs. Taggart smiled complacently, and stifling a half yawn, as she was sure "a real lady" would under like circumstances, and mincing her words to keep in character, she confessed that she had been replenishing her wardrobe against the advancing sea
"And they're all new," she concluded, glancing significantly at Mrs. Dunleavy, busy tearing the wrappings from one of the bundles. Holding the box that contained her bonnet aloof, she listened to the unguarded comments on texture, color and probable price of each article as it was displayed. The bonnet was to be produced as the climax of the exhibition.
"It's real chiffon," she said at last, raising the lid a trifle, "and a ostrich feather right off of a ostrich, a Pasadena ostrich.” There was a slight vibration that caused a puzzled look to overspread her face. After a pause, during which she stood surprised, she attributed this to a passing wagon, and went on. "It isn't every day that I get my yearly pension from the Government for poor Michael, and when I do when I do-I-do
tated again, and her face went the color of ashes.
"Mother of God, what is it?" she gasped -drawing back from the box, which was now trembling like a thing possessed of life.
"Look! Look!" screamed one of the gossips, pointing to a spoon that was slowly circling in a cup on the table. When the spoon began to move faster and faster and finally flew across the intervening space and lodged against the side of the box, Mrs. Taggart threw her hands despairingly in the air and fainted.
One after the other the remaining spoons in the cups farther away began to revolve madly. After keeping this up for a few seconds, they also flew towards the box. It was not, however, till the small bronze Napoleon-on-horseback that had rested peacefully for years on the top of the clock began to move about, as if suddenly possessed of the restless spirit of the Little Corporal, that the women gave expression to the superstitious fear which had been gathering in their eyes.
"Wake up," they shouted, as they poured water on the face and down the neck of their prostrate hostess. "Your house is possessed."
When the Napoleon-on-horseback fell from its pedestal into the ashes of the fireplace there was a stampede for the door. They huddled in the hall, a look of awe on every face as the battered bronze struggled fitfully towards the table. SimulSimultaneously with the crash of the clock against the bars of the grate, Mrs. Taggert recovered her senses. She sat on the floor in wonderment as the wheels of the dismembered time-piece circled about the
A commotion among the pots and pans made her scramble to her feet. She crossed to the kitchen and was met by one of the smaller skillets. The wash-boiler The wash-boiler came bumping over the floor by easy stages, followed by a frying pan and tea kettle, which hopped along like a largebeaked bird in search of worms. A louder crash than any yet coming from the kitchen was now heard, followed by clouds of smoke and soot.
"It's the stove," half-whispered one of the women in a mysterious, far-away voice. As if in answer, a section of stove-pipe,
In the meantime, the small foreignlooking man, whose lap Mrs. Taggart had inadvertently occupied for a few seconds, was stamping impatiently up and down the rooms of the Russian Consulate.
"Will he never come?" he said to the blonde clerk, seated at the desk near the window. "It is this indifference to the fate of our fatherland by those in authority which makes our army and navy mere toys for the little brown pagans of Japan."
His lips closed firmly as he watched the clerk scribble industriously without evincing enough interest in his statement to move an eyelash. Crossing to the table on which rested the pasteboard box he had picked up in the car, he continued: "We have only a few minutes, then the demonstration will begin with or without the consul."
At the word demonstration, the blonde clerk raised his head and shot a significant glance in the direction of the curtain that hung against the opposite wall. The curtain seemed to give a tremor in answer, and the clerk resumed his scribbling.
Up and down stamped the visitor. At last he took the poker from the fire-place as he was passing and went toward the box. The clerk gave another significant glance at the curtain, which was pulled noiselessly back, revealing two soldiers wearing the uniform of the Czar, each with a KragJorgensen ready for instant use. At the same moment, the outer door opened and a stout, well-groomed man entered.
"You are late," snapped the little man sourly. He turned without ceremony and began untying the strings of the box.
"Late or early, I forbid you to touch. that box. Keep away!" yelled the consul, fear ringing in the tone. "My men have orders to shoot if you move.'
For the first time the small man noticed
"I applied my knowledge of chemistry and physics to discover a means of destroying the Japanese navy," went on the other, desperately. "The result is here in this box."
"But what is the nature of your invention? Of what does it consist ?"
There was a malicious gleam in the eyes of the inventor as he answered: "It is no more than the application of an old belief to new materials. The recent researches in chemistry have made nature give up more than one important secret." "But what is the action ?"
"The action? When two of the newly discovered elements are converted into gas through a process of which I am the discoverer, a magnetic current results with the power of an ordinary current multiplied a million times. No brass, steel, copper, iron or tin within fifty, yes, a hundred feet of it can escape its influence. Imagine the effect of one or two smuggled on board each vessel composing the
"Yes, yes," cried the stout man, eagerly, bending forward as if to drive the words home. "Placed near the engines and timed to go off at a certain hour of which Makaroff should have cognizance."
"Exactly," exclaimed the inventor, the malicious look in his eyes becoming more intense. "It would save Russia. See !" he continued, toying with the poker. "This box looks as harmless as any box you ever One might take it for a hat box. The pasteboard not only serves to disarm suspicion, but it interferes not at all with the magnetic current. When wood is used the nails are pulled out and the box falls apart; metal of any kind collapses." "Is it ready for demonstration? you exhibit its power ?"
"No, not at this time," was the answer. "Unfortunately there is an element missing, an element, I fear, that will always be missing when one deals with Russian officials."
"And that?" asked the consul.
"Freedom from insult," cried the small man, raising the poker above the box. Before he could bring it down, the blonde clerk grappled with him. There was a fierce struggle, in which the small man gave good account of himself for one of his inches, and it was only with the help. of the soldiers that he was finally over
"Well done, Vladimir," said the stout man, composedly, when peace had been restored. "You have saved the invention which will turn the tide of war in Russia's favor. Open the box."
In an instant the strings were cut, and Vladimir drew forth Mrs. Taggart's bonnet.