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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe World For Sale - Book 2 - Chapter 8. The Sultan
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The World For Sale - Book 2 - Chapter 8. The Sultan Post by :mpruben Category :Long Stories Author :Gilbert Parker Date :May 2012 Read :2314

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The World For Sale - Book 2 - Chapter 8. The Sultan

BOOK II CHAPTER VIII. THE SULTAN

Ingolby's square head jerked forwards in stern inquiry and his eyes fastened those of Jowett, the horsedealer. "Take care what you're saying, Jowett," he said. "It's a penitentiary job, if it can be proved. Are you sure you got it right?"

Jowett had unusual shrewdness, some vanity and a humorous tongue. He was a favourite in both towns, and had had the better of both in horse-dealing a score of times.

That did not make him less popular. However, it was said he liked low company, and it was true that though he had "money in the bank," and owned a corner lot or so, he seemed to care little what his company was. His most constant companion was Fabian Osterhaut, who was the common property of both towns, doing a little of everything for a living, from bill-posting to the solicitation of an insurance agent.

For any casual work connected with public functions Osterhaut was indispensable, and he would serve as a doctor's assistant and help cut off a leg, be the majordomo for a Sunday-school picnic, or arrange a soiree at a meeting-house with equal impartiality. He had been known to attend a temperance meeting and a wake in the same evening. Yet no one ever questioned his bona fides, and if he had attended mass at Manitou in the morning, joined a heathen dance in Tekewani's Reserve in the afternoon, and listened to the oleaginous Rev. Reuben Tripple in the evening, it would have been taken as a matter of course.

He was at times profane and impecunious, and he had been shifted from one boarding-house to another till at last, having exhausted credit in Lebanon, he had found a room in the house of old Madame Thibadeau in Manitou. She had taken him in because, in years gone by, he had nursed her only son through an attack of smallpox on the Siwash River, and somehow Osterhaut had always paid his bills to her. He was curiously exact where she was concerned. If he had not enough for his week's board and lodging, he borrowed it, chiefly of Jowett, who used him profitably at times to pass the word about a horse, or bring news of a possible deal.

"It's a penitentiary job, Jowett," Ingolby repeated. "I didn't think Marchand would be so mad as that."

"Say, it's all straight enough, Chief," answered Jowett, sucking his unlighted cigar. "Osterhaut got wind of it--he's staying at old Mother Thibadeau's, as you know. He moves round a lot, and he put me on to it. I took on the job at once. I got in with the French toughs over at Manitou, at Barbazon's Tavern, and I gave them gin--we made it a gin night. It struck their fancy--gin, all gin! 'Course there's nothing in gin different from any other spirit; but it fixed their minds, and took away suspicion.

"I got drunk--oh, yes, of course, blind drunk, didn't I? Kissed me, half a dozen of the Quebec boys did--said I was 'bully boy' and 'hell-fellow'; said I was 'bon enfant'; and I said likewise in my best patois. They liked that. I've got a pretty good stock of monkey-French, and I let it go. They laughed till they cried at some of my mistakes, but they weren't no mistakes, not on your life. It was all done a-purpose. They said I was the only man from Lebanon they wouldn't have cut up and boiled, and they was going to have the blood of the Lebanon lot before they'd done. I pretended to get mad, and I talked wild. I said that Lebanon would get them first, that Lebanon wouldn't wait, but'd have it out; and I took off my coat and staggered about--blind-fair blind boozy. I tripped over some fool's foot purposely, just beside a bench against the wall, and I come down on that bench hard. They laughed--Lord, how they laughed! They didn't mind my givin' 'em fits--all except one or two. That was what I expected. The one or two was mad. They begun raging towards me, but there I was asleep on the bench-stony blind, and then they only spit fire a bit. Some one threw my coat over me. I hadn't any cash in the pockets, not much--I knew better than that--and I snored like a sow. Then it happened what I thought would happen. They talked. And here it is. They're going to have a strike in the mills, and you're to get a toss into the river. That's to be on Friday. But the other thing--well, they all cleared away but two. They were the two that wanted to have it out with me. They stayed behind. There was I snoring like a locomotive, but my ears open all right.

"Well, they give the thing away. One of 'em had just come from Felix Marchand and he was full of it. What was it? Why, the second night of the strike your new bridge over the river was to be blown up. Marchand was to give these two toughs three hundred dollars each for doing it."

"Blown up with what?" Ingolby asked sharply.

"Dynamite."

"Where would they get it?"

"Some left from blasting below the mills."

"All right! Go on."

"There wasn't much more. Old Barbazon, the landlord, come in and they quit talking about it; but they said enough to send 'em to gaol for ten years."

Ingolby blinked at Jowett reflectively, and his mouth gave a twist that lent to his face an almost droll look.

"What good would it do if they got ten years--or one year, if the bridge was blown up? If they got skinned alive, and if Marchand was handed over to a barnful of hungry rats to be gnawed to death, it wouldn't help. I've heard and seen a lot of hellish things, but there's nothing to equal that. To blow up the bridge--for what? To spite Lebanon, and to hurt me; to knock the spokes out of my wheel. He's the dregs, is Marchand."

"I guess he's a shyster by nature, that fellow," interposed Jowett. "He was boilin' hot when he was fifteen. He spoiled a girl I knew when he was twenty-two, not fourteen she was--Lil Sarnia; and he got her away before--well, he got her away East; and she's in a dive in Winnipeg now. As nice a girl--as nice a little girl she was, and could ride any broncho that ever bucked. What she saw in him--but there, she was only a child, just the mind of a child she had, and didn't understand. He'd ha' been tarred and feathered if it'd been known. But old Mick Sarnia said hush, for his wife's sake, and so we hushed, and Sarnia's wife doesn't know even now. I thought a lot of Lil, as much almost as if she'd been my own; and lots o' times, when I think of it, I sit up straight, and the thing freezes me; and I want to get Marchand by the scruff of the neck. I got a horse, the worst that ever was--so bad I haven't had the heart to ride him or sell him. He's so bad he makes me laugh. There's nothing he won't do, from biting to bolting. Well, I'd like to tie Mr. Felix Marchand, Esquire, to his back, and let him loose on the prairie, and pray the Lord to save him if he thought fit. I fancy I know what the Lord would do. And Lil Sarnia's only one. Since he come back from the States, he's the limit, oh, the damnedest limit. He's a pest all round-and now, this!"

Ingolby kept blinking reflectively as Jowett talked. He was doing two things at once with a facility quite his own. He was understanding all Jowett was saying, but he was also weighing the whole situation. His mind was gone fishing, figuratively speaking. He was essentially a man of action, but his action was the bullet of his mind; he had to be quiet physically when he was really thinking. Then he was as one in a dream where all physical motion was mechanical, and his body was acting automatically. His concentration, and therefore his abstraction, was phenomenal. Jowett's reminiscences at a time so critical did not disturb him--did not, indeed, seem to be irrelevant. It was as though Felix Marchand was being passed in review before him in a series of aspects. He nodded encouragement to Jowett to go on.

"It's because Marchand hates you, Chief. The bump he got when you dropped him on the ground that day at Carillon hurts still. It's a chronic inflammation. Closing them railway offices at Manitou, and dislodging the officials give him his first good chance. The feud between the towns is worse now than it's ever been. Make no mistake. There's a whole lot of toughs in Manitou. Then there's religion, and there's race, and there's a want-to-stand-still and leave-me-alone-feeling. They don't want to get on. They don't want progress. They want to throw the slops out of the top windows into the street; they want their cesspools at the front door; they think that everybody's got to have smallpox some time or another, and the sooner they have it the better; they want to be bribed; and they think that if a vote's worth having it's worth paying for--and yet there's a bridge between these two towns! A bridge--why, they're as far apart as the Yukon and Patagonia."

"What'd buy Felix Marchand?" Ingolby asked meditatively. "What's his price?"

Jowett shifted with impatience. "Say, Chief, I don't know what you're thinking about. Do you think you could make a deal with Felix Marchand? Not much. You've got the cinch on him. You could send him to quod, and I'd send him there as quick as lightning. I'd hang him, if I could, for what he done to Lil Sarnia. Years ago when he was a boy he offered me a gold watch for a mare I had. The watch looked as right as could be--solid fourteen-carat, he said it was. He got my horse, and I got his watch. It wasn't any more gold than he was. It was filled--just plated with nine-carat gold. It was worth about ten dollars."

"What was the mare worth?" asked Ingolby, his mouth twisting again with quizzical meaning.

"That mare--she was all right."

"Yes, but what was the matter with her?"

"Oh, a spavin--she was all right when she got wound up--go like Dexter or Maud S."

"But if you were buying her what would you have paid for her, Jowett? Come now, man to man, as they say. How much did you pay for her?"

"About what she was worth, Chief, within a dollar or two."

"And what was she worth?"

"What I paid for her-ten dollars."

Then the two men looked at each other full in the eyes, and Jowett threw back his head and laughed outright--laughed loud and hard. "Well, you got me, Chief, right under the guard," he observed.

Ingolby did not laugh outright, but there was a bubble of humour in his eyes. "What happened to the watch?" he asked.

"I got rid of it."

"In a horse-trade?"

"No, I got a town lot with it."

"In Lebanon?"

"Well, sort of in Lebanon's back-yard."

"What's the lot worth now?"

"About two thousand dollars!"

"Was it your first town lot?"

"The first lot of Mother Earth I ever owned."

"Then you got a vote on it?"

"Yes, my first vote."

"And the vote let you be a town-councillor?"

"It and my good looks."

"Indirectly, therefore, you are a landowner, a citizen, a public servant, and an instrument of progress because of Felix Marchand. If you hadn't had the watch you wouldn't have had that town lot."

"Well, mebbe, not that lot."

Suddenly Ingolby got to his feet and squared himself, and his face became alight with purpose. His mind had come back from fishing, and he was ready now for action. His plans were formed. He was in for a fight, and he had made up his mind how, with the new information to his hand, he would develop his campaign further.

"You didn't make a fuss about the watch, Jowett. You might have gone to Felix Marchand or to his father and proved him a liar, and got even that way. You didn't; you got a corner lot with it. That's what I'm going to do. I can have Felix Marchand put in the jug, and make his old father, Hector Marchand, sick; but I like old Hector Marchand, and I think he's bred as bad a pup as ever was. I'm going to try and do with this business as you did with that watch. I'm going to try and turn it to account and profit in the end. Felix Marchand's profiting by a mistake of mine--a mistake in policy. It gives him his springboard; and there's enough dry grass in both towns to get a big blaze with a very little match. I know that things are seething. The Chief Constable keeps me posted as to what's going on here, and pretty fairly as to what's going on in Manitou. The police in Manitou are straight enough. That's one comfort. I've done Felix Marchand there. I guess that the Chief Constable of Manitou and Monseigneur Lourde and old Mother Thibadeau are about the only people that Marchand can't bribe. I see I've got to face a scrimmage before I can get what I want."

"What you want you'll have, I bet," was the admiring response.

"I'm going to have a good try. I want these two towns to be one. That'll be good for your town lots, Jowett," he added whimsically. "If my policy is carried out, my town lot'll be worth a pocketful of gold-plated watches or a stud of spavined mares." He chuckled to himself, and his fingers reached towards a bell on the table, but he paused. "When was it they said the strike would begin?" he asked.

"Friday."

"Did they say what hour?"

"Eleven in the morning."

"Third of a day's work and a whole day's pay," he mused. "Jowett," he added, "I want you to have faith. I'm going to do Marchand, and I'm going to do him in a way that'll be best in the end. You can help as much if not more than anybody--you and Osterhaut. And if I succeed, it'll be worth your while."

"I ain't followin' you because it's worth while, but because I want to, Chief."

"I know; but a man--every man--likes the counters for the game." He turned to the table, opened a drawer, and took out a folded paper. He looked it through carefully, wrote a name on it, and handed it to Jowett.

"There's a hundred shares in the Northwest Railway, with my regards, Jowett. Some of the counters of the game."

Jowett handed it back at once with a shake of the head. "I don't live in Manitou," he said. "I'm almost white, Chief. I've never made a deal with you, and don't want to. I'm your man for the fun of it, and because I'd give my life to have your head on my shoulders for one year."

"I'd feel better if you'd take the shares, Jowett. You've helped me, and I can't let you do it for nothing."

"Then I can't do it at all. I'm discharged." Suddenly, however, a humorous, eager look shot into Jowett's face. "Will you toss for it?" he blurted out. "Certainly, if you like," was the reply.

"Heads I win, tails it's yours?"

"Good."

Ingolby took a silver dollar from his pocket, and tossed. It came down tails. Ingolby had won.

"My corner lot against double the shares?" Jowett asked sharply, his face flushed with eager pleasure. He was a born gambler.

"As you like," answered Ingolby with a smile. Ingolby tossed, and they stooped over to look at the dollar on the floor. It had come up heads. "You win," said Ingolby, and turning to the table, took out another hundred shares. In a moment they were handed over.

"You're a wonder, Jowett," he said. "You risked a lot of money. Are you satisfied?"

"You bet, Chief. I come by these shares honestly now."

He picked up the silver dollar from the floor, and was about to put it in his pocket.

"Wait--that's my dollar," said Ingolby.

"By gracious, so it is!" said Jowett, and handed it over reluctantly.

Ingolby pocketed it with satisfaction.

Neither dwelt on the humour of the situation. They were only concerned for the rules of the game, and both were gamesters in their way.

After a few brief instructions to Jowett, and a message for Osterhaut concerning a suit of workman's clothes, Ingolby left his offices and walked down the main street of the town with his normal rapidity, responding cheerfully to the passers-by, but not encouraging evident desire for talk with him. Men half-started forward to him, but he held them back with a restraining eye. They knew his ways. He was responsive in a brusque, inquisitive, but good-humoured and sometimes very droll way; but there were times when men said to themselves that he was to be left alone; and he was so much master of the place that, as Osterhaut and Jowett frequently remarked, "What he says goes!" It went even with those whom he had passed in the race of power.

He had had his struggles to be understood in his first days in Lebanon. He had fought intrigue and even treachery, had defeated groups which were the forces at work before he came to Lebanon, and had compelled the submission of others. All these had vowed to "get back at him," but when it became a question of Lebanon against Manitou they swung over to his side and acknowledged him as leader. The physical collision between the rougher elements of the two towns had brought matters to a head, and nearly every man in Lebanon felt that his honour was at stake, and was ready "to have it out with Manitou."

As he walked along the main street after his interview with Jowett, his eyes wandered over the buildings rising everywhere; and his mind reviewed as in a picture the same thinly inhabited street five years ago when he first came. Now farmers' wagons clacked and rumbled through the prairie dust, small herds of cattle jerked and shuffled their way to the slaughter-yard, or out to the open prairie, and caravans of settlers with their effects moved sturdily forward to the trails which led to a new life beckoning from three points of the compass. That point which did not beckon was behind them. Flaxen-haired Swedes and Norwegians; square-jawed, round-headed North Germans; square-shouldered, loose-jointed Russians with heavy contemplative eyes and long hair, looked curiously at each other and nodded understandingly. Jostling them all, with a jeer and an oblique joke here and there, and crude chaff on each other and everybody, the settler from the United States asserted himself. He invariably obtruded himself, with quizzical inquiry, half contempt and half respect, on the young Englishman, who gazed round with phlegm upon his fellow adventurers, and made up to the sandy-faced Scot or the cheerful Irishman with his hat on the back of his head, who showed in the throng here and there. This was one of the days when the emigrant and settlers' trains arrived both from the East and from "the States," and Front Street in Lebanon had, from early morning, been alive with the children of hope and adventure.

With hands plunged deep in the capacious pockets of his grey jacket, Ingolby walked on, seeing everything; yet with his mind occupied intently, too, on the trouble which must be faced before Lebanon and Manitou would be the reciprocating engines of his policy. Coming to a spot where a great gap of vacant land showed in the street-land which he had bought for the new offices of his railway combine--he stood and looked at it abstractedly. Beyond it, a few blocks away, was the Sagalac, and beyond the Sagalac was Manitou, and a little way to the right was the bridge which was the symbol of his policy. His eyes gazed almost unconsciously on the people and the horses and wagons coming and going upon the bridge. Then they were lifted to the tall chimneys rising at two or three points on the outskirts of Manitou.

"They don't know a good thing when they get it," he said to himself. "A strike--why, wages are double what they are in Quebec, where most of 'em come from! Marchand--"

A hand touched his arm. "Have you got a minute to spare, kind sir?" a voice asked.

Ingolby turned and saw Nathan Rockwell, the doctor. "Ah, Rockwell," he responded cheerfully, "two minutes and a half, if you like! What is it?"

The Boss Doctor, as he was familiarly called by every one, to identify him from the newer importations of medical men, drew from his pocket a newspaper.

"There's an infernal lie here about me," he replied. "They say that I--"

He proceeded to explain the misstatement, as Ingolby studied the paper carefully, for Rockwell was a man worth any amount of friendship.

"It's a lie, of course," Ingolby said firmly as he finished the paragraph. "Well?"

"Well, I've got to deal with it."

"You mean you're going to deny it in the papers?"

"Exactly."

"I wouldn't, Rockwell."

"You wouldn't?"

"No. You never can really overtake a newspaper lie. Lots of the people who read the lie don't see the denial. Your truth doesn't overtake the lie--it's a scarlet runner."

"I don't see that. When you're lied about, when a lie like that--"

"You can't overtake it, Boss. It's no use. It's sensational, it runs too fast. Truth's slow-footed. When a newspaper tells a lie about you, don't try to overtake it, tell another."

He blinked with quizzical good-humour. Rockwell could not resist the audacity. "I don't believe you'd do it just the same," he retorted decisively, and laughing.

"I don't try the overtaking anyhow; I get something spectacular in my own favour to counteract the newspaper lie."

"In what way?"

"For instance, if they said I couldn't ride a moke at a village steeplechase, I'd at once publish the fact that, with a jack-knife, I'd killed two pumas that were after me. Both things would be lies, but the one would neutralize the other. If I said I could ride a moke, nobody would see it, and if it were seen it wouldn't make any impression; but to say I killed two mountain-lions with a jack-knife on the edge of a precipice, with the sun standing still to look at it, is as good as the original lie and better; and I score. My reputation increases."

Nathan Rockwell's equilibrium was restored. "You're certainly a wonder," he declared. "That's why you've succeeded."

"Have I succeeded?"

"Thirty-three-and what you are!"

"What am I?"

"Pretty well master here."

"Rockwell, that'd do me a lot of harm if it was published. Don't say it again. This is a democratic country. They'd kick at my being called master of anything, and I'd have to tell a lie to counteract it."

"But it's the truth, and it hasn't to be overtaken."

A grim look came into Ingolby's face. "I'd like to be master-boss of life and death, holder of the sword and balances, the Sultan, here just for one week. I'd change some things. I'd gag some people that are doing terrible harm. It's a real bad business. The scratch-your-face period is over, and we're in the cut-your-throat epoch."

Rockwell nodded assent, opened the paper again, and pointed to a column. "I expect you haven't seen that. To my mind, in the present state of things, it's dynamite."

Ingolby read the column hastily. It was the report of a sermon delivered the evening before by the Rev. Reuben Tripple, the evangelical minister of Lebanon. It was a paean of the Scriptures accompanied by a crazy charge that the Roman Church forbade the reading of the Bible. It had a tirade also about the Scarlet Woman and Popish idolatry.

Ingolby made a savage gesture. "The insatiable Christian beast!" he growled in anger. "There's no telling what this may do. You know what those fellows are over in Manitou. The place is full of them going to the woods, besides the toughs at the mills and in the taverns. They're not psalm-singing, and they don't keep the Ten Commandments, but they're savagely fanatical, and--"

"And there's the funeral of an Orangeman tomorrow. The Orange Lodge attends in regalia."

Ingolby started and looked at the paper again. "The sneaking, praying liar," he said, his jaw setting grimly. "This thing's a call to riot. There's an element in Lebanon as well that'd rather fight than eat. It's the kind of lie that--"

"That you can't overtake," said the Boss Doctor appositely; "and I don't know that even you can tell another that'll neutralize it. Your prescription won't work here."

An acknowledging smile played at Ingolby's mouth. "We've got to have a try. We've got to draw off the bull with a red rag somehow."

"I don't see how myself. That Orange funeral will bring a row on to us. I can just see the toughs at Manitou when they read this stuff, and know about that funeral."

"It's announced?"

"Yes, here's an invitation in the Budget to Orangemen to attend the funeral of a brother sometime of the banks of the Boyne!"

"Who's the Master of the Lodge?" asked Ingolby. Rockwell told him, urging at the same time that he see the Chief Constable as well, and Monseigneur Lourde at Manitou.

"That's exactly what I mean to do--with a number of other things. Between ourselves, Rockwell, I'd have plenty of lint and bandages ready for emergencies if I were you."

"I'll see to it. That collision the other day was serious enough, and it's gradually becoming a vendetta. Last night one of the Lebanon champions lost his nose."

"His nose--how?"

"A French river-driver bit a third of it off."

Ingolby made a gesture of disgust. "And this is the twentieth century!"

They had moved along the street until they reached a barber-shop, from which proceeded the sound of a violin. "I'm going in here," Ingolby said. "I've got some business with Berry, the barber. You'll keep me posted as to anything important?"

"You don't need to say it. Shall I see the Master of the Orange Lodge or the Chief Constable for you?" Ingolby thought for a minute. "No, I'll tackle them myself, but you get in touch with Monseigneur Lourde. He's grasped the situation, and though he'd like to have Tripple boiled in oil, he doesn't want broken heads and bloodshed."

"And Tripple?"

"I'll deal with him at once. I've got a hold on him. I never wanted to use it, but I will now without compunction. I have the means in my pocket. They've been there for three days, waiting for the chance."

"It doesn't look like war, does it?" said Rockwell, looking up the street and out towards the prairie where the day bloomed like a flower. Blue above--a deep, joyous blue, against which a white cloud rested or slowly travelled westward; a sky down whose vast cerulean bowl flocks of wild geese sailed, white and grey and black, while the woods across the Sagalac were glowing with a hundred colours, giving tender magnificence to the scene. The busy eagerness of a pioneer life was still a quiet, orderly thing, so immense was the theatre for effort and movement. In these wide streets, almost as wide as a London square, there was room to move; nothing seemed huddled, pushing, or inconvenient. Even the disorder of building lost its ugly crudity in the space and the sunlight.

"The only time I get frightened in life is when things look like that," Ingolby answered. "I go round with a life-preserver on me when it seems as if 'all's right with the world.'"

The violin inside the barber-shop kept scraping out its cheap music--a coon-song of the day.

"Old Berry hasn't much business this morning," remarked Rockwell. "He's in keeping with this surface peace."

"Old Berry never misses anything. What we're thinking, he's thinking. I go fishing when I'm in trouble; Berry plays his fiddle. He's a philosopher and a friend."

"You don't make friends as other people do."

"I make friends of all kinds. I don't know why, but I've always had a kind of kinship with the roughs, the no-accounts, and the rogues."

"As well as the others--I hope I don't intrude!"

Ingolby laughed. "You? Oh, I wish all the others were like you. It's the highly respectable members of the community I've always had to watch."

The fiddle-song came squeaking out upon the sunny atmosphere. It arrested the attention of a man on the other side of the street--a stranger in strange Lebanon. He wore a suit of Western clothes as a military man wears mufti, if not awkwardly, yet with a manner not wholly natural--the coat too tight across the chest, too short in the body. However, the man was handsome and unusual in his leopard way, with his brown curling hair and well-cared-for moustache. It was Jethro Fawe.

Attracted by the sound of the violin, he stayed his steps and smiled scornfully. Then his look fell on the two figures at the door of the barber-shop, and his eyes flashed.

Here was the man he wished to see--Max Ingolby, the man who stood between him and his Romany lass. Here was a chance of speaking face to face with the man who was robbing him. What he should do when they met must be according to circumstances. That did not matter. There was the impulse storming in his brain, and it drove him across the street as the Boss Doctor walked away, and Ingolby entered the shop. All Jethro realized was that the man who stood in his way, the big, rich, masterful Gorgio was there.

He entered the shop after Ingolby, and stood for an instant unseen. The old negro barber with his curly white head, slave-black face, and large, shrewd, meditative eyes was standing in a corner with a violin under his chin, his cheek lovingly resting against it, as he drew his bow through the last bars of the melody. He had smiled in welcome as Ingolby entered, instantly rising from his stool, but continuing to play. He would not have stopped in the middle of a tune for an emperor, and he put Ingolby higher than an emperor. For one who had been born a slave, and had still the scars of the overseer's whip on his back, he was very independent. He cut everybody's hair as he wanted to cut it, trimmed each beard as he wished to trim it, regardless of its owner's wishes. If there was dissent, then his customer need not come again, that was all. There were other barbers in the place, but Berry was the master barber. To have your head massaged by him was never to be forgotten, especially if you found your hat too small for your head in the morning. Also he singed the hair with a skill and care, which had filled many a thinly covered scalp with luxuriant growth, and his hair-tonic, known as "Smilax," gave a pleasant odour to every meeting-house or church or public hall where the people gathered. Berry was an institution even in this new Western town. He kept his place and he forced the white man, whoever he was, to keep his place.

When he saw Jethro Fawe enter the shop he did not stop playing, but his eyes searched the newcomer. Following his glance, Ingolby turned round and saw the Romany. His first impression was one of admiration, but suspicion was quickly added. He was a good judge of men, and there was something secluded about the man which repelled him. Yet he was interested. The dark face had a striking racial peculiarity.

The music died away, and old Berry lowered the fiddle from his chin and gave his attention to the Romany.

"Yeth-'ir?" he said questioningly.

For an instant Jethro was confused. When he entered the shop he had not made up his mind what he should do. It had been mere impulse and the fever of his brain. As old Berry spoke, however, his course opened out.

"I heard. I am a stranger. My fiddle is not here. My fingers itch for the cat-gut. Eh?"

The look in old Berry's face softened a little. His instinct had been against his visitor, and he had been prepared to send him to another shop-besides, not every day could he talk to the greatest man in the West.

"If you can play, there it is," he said after a slight pause, and handed the fiddle over.

It was true that Jethro Fawe loved the fiddle. He had played it in many lands. Twice, in order to get inside the palace of a monarch for a purpose--once in Berlin and once in London--he had played the second violin in a Tzigany orchestra. He turned the fiddle slowly round, looking at it with mechanical intentness. Through the passion of emotion the sure sense of the musician was burning. His fingers smoothed the oval brown breast of the instrument with affection. His eyes found joy in the colour of the wood, which had all the graded, merging tints of Autumn leaves.

"It is old--and strange," he said, his eyes going from Berry to Ingolby and back again with a veiled look, as though he had drawn down blinds before his inmost thoughts. "It was not made by a professional."

"It was made in the cotton-field by a slave," observed old Berry sharply, yet with a content which overrode antipathy to his visitor.

Jethro put the fiddle to his chin, and drew the bow twice or thrice sweepingly across the strings. Such a sound had never come from Berry's violin before. It was the touch of a born musician who certainly had skill, but who had infinitely more of musical passion.

"Made by a slave in the cotton-fields!" Jethro said with a veiled look, and as though he was thinking of something else: "'Dordi', I'd like to meet a slave like that!"

At the Romany exclamation Ingolby swept the man with a searching look. He had heard the Romany wife of Ruliff Zaphe use the word many years ago when he and Charley Long visited the big white house on the hill. Was the man a Romany, and, if so, what was he doing here? Had it anything to do with Gabriel Druse and his daughter? But no--what was there strange in the man being a Romany and playing the fiddle? Here and there in the West during the last two years, he had seen what he took to be Romany faces. He looked to see the effect of the stranger's remark on old Berry.

"I was a slave, and I was like that. My father made that fiddle in the cotton-fields of Georgia," the aged barber said.

The son of a race which for centuries had never known country or flag or any habitat, whose freedom was the soul of its existence, if it had a soul; a freedom defying all the usual laws of social order--the son of that race looked at the negro barber with something akin to awe. Here was a man who had lived a life which was the staring antithesis of his own, under the whip as a boy, confined to compounds; whose vision was constricted to the limits of an estate; who was at the will of one man, to be sold and trafficked with like a barrel of herrings, to be worked at another's will--and at no price! This was beyond the understanding of Jethro Fawe. But awe has the outward look of respect, and old Berry who had his own form of vanity, saw that he had had a rare effect on the fellow, who evidently knew all about fiddles. Certainly that was a wonderful sound he had produced from his own cotton-field fiddle.

In the pause Ingolby said to Jethro Fawe, "Play something, won't you? I've got business here with Mr. Berry, but five minutes of good music won't matter. We'd like to hear him play--wouldn't we, Berry?"

The old man nodded assent. "There's plenty of music in the thing," he said, "and a lot could come out in five minutes, if the right man played it."

His words were almost like a challenge, and it reached to Jethro's innermost nature. He would show this Gorgio robber what a Romany could do, and do as easily as the birds sing. The Gorgio was a money-master, they said, but he would find that a Romany was a master, too, in his own way. He thought of one of the first pieces he had ever heard, a rhapsody which had grown and grown, since it was first improvised by a Tzigany in Hungary. He had once played it to an English lady at the Amphitryon Club in London, and she had swooned in the arms of her husband's best friend. He had seen men and women avert their heads when he had played it, daring not to look into each other's eyes. He would play it now--a little of it. He would play it to her--to the girl who had set him free in the Sagalac woods, to the ravishing deserter from her people, to the only woman who had told him the truth in all his life, and who insulated his magnetism as a ground-wire insulates lightning. He would summon her here by his imagination, and tell her to note how his soul had caught the music of the spheres. He would surround himself with an atmosphere of his own. His rage, his love, and his malignant hate, his tenderness and his lust should fill the barber's shop with a flood which would drown the Gorgio raider. He laughed to himself, almost unconsciously. Then suddenly he leaned his cheek to the instrument and drew the bow across the strings with a savage softness. The old cottonfield fiddle cried out with a thrilling, exquisite pain, but muffled, as a hand at the lips turns agony into a tender moan. Some one--some spirit--in the fiddle was calling for its own.

Five minutes later-a five minutes in which people gathered at the door of the shop, and heads were thrust inside in ravished wonder--the palpitating Romany lowered the fiddle from his chin, and stood for a minute looking into space, as though he saw a vision.

He was roused by old Berry's voice. "Das a fiddle I wouldn't sell for a t'ousand dollars. If I could play like dat I wouldn't sell it for ten t'ousand. You kin play a fiddle to make it worth a lot--you."

The Romany handed back the instrument. "It's got something inside it that makes it better than it is. It's not a good fiddle, but it has something--ah, man alive, it has something!" It was as though he was talking to himself.

Berry made a quick, eager gesture. "It's got the cotton-fields and the slave days in it. It's got the whip and the stocks in it; it's got the cry of the old man that'd never see his children ag'in. That's what the fiddle's got in it."

Suddenly, in an apparent outburst of anger, he swept down on the front door and drove the gathering crowd away.

"Dis is a barber-shop," he said with an angry wave of his hand; "it ain't a circuse."

One man protested. "I want a shave," he said. He tried to come inside, but was driven back.

"I ain't got a razor that'd cut the bristle off your face," the old barber declared peremptorily; "and, if I had, it wouldn't be busy on you. I got two customers, and that's all I'm going to take befo' I have my dinner. So you git away. There ain't goin' to be no more music."

The crowd drew off, for none of them cared to offend this autocrat of the shears and razor.

Ingolby had listened to the music with a sense of being swayed by a wind which blew from all quarters of the compass at once. He loved music; it acted as a clearing-house to his mind; and he played the piano himself with the enthusiasm of a wilful amateur, who took liberties with every piece he essayed. There was something in this fellow's playing which the great masters, such as Paganini, must have had. As the music ceased, he did not speak, but remained leaning against the great red-plush barber's chair looking reflectively at the Romany. Berry, however, said to the still absorbed musician: "Where did you learn to play?"

The Romany started, and a flush crossed his face. "Everywhere," he answered sullenly.

"You've got the thing Sarasate had," Ingolby observed. "I only heard him play but once--in London years ago: but there's the same something in it. I bought a fiddle of Sarasate. I've got it now."

"Here in Lebanon?" The eyes of the Romany were burning. An idea had just come into his brain. Was it through his fiddling that he was going to find a way to deal with this Gorgio, who had come between him and his own?

"Only a week ago it came," Ingolby replied. "They actually charged me Customs duty on it. I'd seen it advertised, and I made an offer and got it at last."

"You have it here--at your house here?" asked old Berry in surprise.

"It's the only place I've got. Did you think I'd put it in a museum? I can't play it, but there it is for any one that can play. How would you like to try it?" he added to Jethro in a friendly tone. "I'd give a good deal to see it under your chin for an hour. Anyhow, I'd like to show it to you. Will you come?"

It was like him to bring matters to a head so quickly.

The Romany's eyes glistened. "To play the Sarasate alone to you?" he asked.

"That's it-at nine o'clock to-night, if you can."

"I will come--yes, I will come," Jethro answered, the lids drooping over his eyes in which were the shadows of the first murder of the created world.

"Here is my address, then." Ingolby wrote something on his visiting-card. "My man'll let you in, if you show that. Well, good-bye."

The Romany took the card, and turned to leave. He had been dismissed by the swaggering Gorgio, as though he was a servant, and he had not even been asked his name, of so little account was he! He could come and play on the Sarasate to the masterful Gorgio at the hour which the masterful Gorgio fixed--think of that! He could be--a servant to the pleasure of the man who was stealing from him the wife sealed to him in the Roumelian country. But perhaps it was all for the best--yes, he would make it all for the best! As he left the shop, however, and passed down the street his mind remained in the barber-shop. He saw in imagination the masterful Gorgio in the red-plush chair, and the negro barber bending over him, with black fingers holding the Gorgio's chin, and an open razor in the right hand lightly grasped. A flash of malicious desire came into his eyes as the vision shaped itself in his imagination, and he saw himself, instead of the negro barber, holding the Gorgio chin and looking down at the Gorgio throat with the razor, not lightly, but firmly grasped in his right hand. How was it that more throats were not cut in that way? How was it that while the scissors passed through the beard of a man's face the points did not suddenly slip up and stab the light from helpless eyes? How was it that men did not use their chances? He went lightly down the street, absorbed in a vision which was not like the reality; but it was evidence that his visit to Max Ingolby's house was not the visit of a virtuoso alone, but of an evil spirit.

As the Romany disappeared, Max Ingolby had his hand on the old barber's shoulder. "I want one of the wigs you made for that theatrical performance of the Mounted Police, Berry," he said. "Never mind what it's for. I want it at once--one with the long hair of a French-Canadian coureur-de-bois. Have you got one?"

"Suh, I'll send it round-no, I'll bring it round as I come from dinner. Want the clothes, too?"

"No. I'm arranging for them with Osterhaut. I've sent word by Jowett."

"You want me to know what it's for?"

"You can know anything I know--almost, Berry. You're a friend of the right sort, and I can trust you."

"Yeth-'ir, I bin some use to you, onct or twict, I guess."

"You'll have a chance to be of use more than ever presently."

"Suh, there's gain' to be a bust-up, but I know who's comin' out on the top. That Felix Marchand and his roughs can't down you. I hear and see a lot, and there's two or three things I was goin' to put befo' you; yeth-'ir."

He unloaded his secret information to his friend, and was rewarded by Ingolby suddenly shaking his hand warmly.

"That's the line," Ingolby said decisively. "When do you go over to Manitou again to cut old Hector Marchand's hair? Soon?"

"To-day is his day--this evening," was the reply.

"Good. You wanted to know what the wig and the habitant's clothes are for, Berry--well, for me to wear in Manitou. In disguise I'm going there tonight among them all, among the roughs and toughs. I want to find out things for myself. I can speak French as good as most of 'em, and I can chew tobacco and swear with the best."

"You suhly are a wonder," said the old man admiringly. "How you fin' the time I got no idee."

"Everything in its place, Berry, and everything in its time. I've got a lot to do to-day, but it's in hand, and I don't have to fuss. You'll not forget the wig--you'll bring it round yourself?"

"Suh. No snoopin' into the parcel then. But if you go to Manitou to-night, how can you have that fiddler?"

"He comes at nine o'clock. I'll go to Manitou later. Everything in its own time."

He was about to leave the shop when some one came bustling in. Berry was between Ingolby and the door, and for an instant he did not see who it was. Presently he heard an unctuous voice: "Ah, good day, good day, Mr. Berry. I want to have my hair cut, if you please," it said.

Ingolby smiled. The luck was with him to-day so far. The voice belonged to the Rev. Reuben Tripple, and he would be saved a journey to the manse. Accidental meetings were better than planned interviews. Old Berry's grizzled beard was bristling with repugnance, and he was about to refuse Mr. Tripple the hospitality of the shears when Ingolby said: "You won't mind my having a word with Mr. Tripple first, will you, Berry? May we use your back parlour?"

A significant look from Ingolby's eyes gave Berry his cue.

"Suh, Mr. Ingolby. I'm proud." He opened the door of another room.

Mr. Tripple had not seen Ingolby when he entered, and he recognized him now with a little shock of surprise. There was no reason why he should not care to meet the Master Man, but he always had an uncanny feeling when his eye met that of Ingolby. His apprehension had no foundation in any knowledge, yet he had felt that Ingolby had no love for him, and this disturbed the egregious vanity of a narrow nature. His slouching, corpulent figure made an effort to resist the gesture with which Ingolby drew him to the door, but his will succumbed, and he shuffled importantly into the other room.

Ingolby shut the door quietly behind him, and motioned the minister to a chair beside the table. Tripple sank down, mechanically smiling, placed his hat on the floor, and rested his hands on the table. Ingolby could not help but notice how coarse the hands were--with fingers suddenly ending as though they had been cut off, and puffy, yellowish skin that suggested fat foods, or worse.

Ingolby came to grips at once. "You preached a sermon last night which no doubt was meant to do good, but will only do harm," he said abruptly.

The flabby minister flushed, and then made an effort to hold his own.

"I speak as I am moved," he said, puffing out his lips. "You spoke on this occasion before you were moved--just a little while before," answered Ingolby grimly. "The speaking was last night, the moving comes today."

"I don't get your meaning," was the thick rejoinder. The man had a feeling that there was some real danger ahead.

"You preached a sermon last night which might bring riot and bloodshed between these two towns, though you knew the mess that's brewing."

"My conscience is my own. I am responsible to my Lord for words which I speak in His name, not to you."

"Your conscience belongs to yourself, but your acts belong to all of us. If there is trouble at the Orange funeral to-morrow it will be your fault. The blame will lie at your door."

"The sword of the Spirit--"

"Oh, you want the sword, do you? You want the sword, eh?" Ingolby's jaw was set now like a millstone. "Well, you can have it, and have it now. If you had taken what I said in the right way, I would not have done what I'm going to do. I'm going to send you out of Lebanon. You're a bad and dangerous element here. You must go."

"Who are you to tell me I must go?"

The fat hands quivered on the table with anger and emotion, but also with fear of something. "You may be a rich man and own railways, but--"

"But I am not rich and I don't own railways. Lately bad feeling has been growing on the Sagalac, and only a spark was needed to fire the ricks. You struck the spark in your sermon last night. I don't see the end of it all. One thing is sure--you're not going to take the funeral service to-morrow."

The slack red lips of the man of God were gone dry with excitement, the loose body swayed with the struggle to fight it out.

"I'll take no orders from you," the husky voice protested. "My conscience alone will guide me. I'll speak the truth as I feel it, and the people will stand by me."

"In that case you WILL take orders from me. I'm going to save the town from what hurts it, if I can. I've got no legal rights over you, but I have moral rights, and I mean to enforce them. You gabble of conscience and truth, but isn't it a new passion with you--conscience and truth?"

He leaned over the table and fastened the minister's eyes with his own. "Had you the same love of conscience and truth at Radley?"

A whiteness passed over the flabby face, and the beady eyes took on a glazed look. Fight suddenly died out of them.

"You went on a missionary tour on the Ottawa River. At Radley you toiled and rested from your toil--and feasted. The girl had no father or brother, but her uncle was a railway-man. He heard where you were, and he hired with my company to come out here as a foreman. He came to drop on you. The day after he came he had a bad accident. I went to see him. He told me all; his nerves were unstrung, you observe. He meant to ruin you, as you ruined the girl. He had proofs enough. The girl herself is in Winnipeg. Well, I know life, and I know man and man's follies and temptations. I thought it a pity that a career and a life like yours should be ruined--"

A groan broke from the twitching lips before him, and a heavy sweat stood out on the round, rolling forehead.

"If the man spoke, I knew it would be all up with you, for the world is very hard on men of God who fall. I've seen men ruined before this, because of an hour's passion and folly. I said to myself that you were only human, and that maybe you had paid heavy in remorse and fear. Then there was the honour of the town of Lebanon. I couldn't let the thing take its course. I got the doctor to tell the man that he must go for special treatment to a hospital in Montreal, and I--well, I bought him off on his promising to keep his mouth shut. He was a bit stiff in terms, because he said the girl needed the money. The child died, luckily for you. Anyhow I bought him off, and he went. That was a year ago. I've got all the proofs in my pocket, even to the three silly letters you wrote her when your senses were stronger than your judgment. I was going to see you about them to-day."

He took from his pocket a small packet, and held them before the other's face. "Have a good look at your own handwriting, and see if you recognize it," Ingolby continued.

But the glazed, shocked eyes did not see. Reuben Tripple had passed the several stages of horror during Ingolby's merciless arraignment, and he had nearly collapsed before he heard the end of the matter. When he knew that Ingolby had saved him, his strength gave way, and he trembled violently. Ingolby looked round and saw a jug of water. Pouring out a glassful, he thrust it into the fat, wrinkled fingers.

"Drink and pull yourself together," he said sternly. The shaken figure straightened itself, and the water was gulped down. "I thank you," he said in a husky voice.

"You see I treated you fairly, and that you've been a fool?" Ingolby asked with no lessened determination.

"I have tried to atone, and--"

"No, you haven't had the right spirit to atone. You were fat with vanity and self-conceit. I've watched you."

"In future I will--"

"Well, that rests with yourself, but your health is bad, and you're not going to take the funeral tomorrow. You've had a sudden breakdown, and you're going to get a call from some church in the East--as far East as Yokohama or Bagdad, I hope; and leave here in a few weeks. You understand? I've thought the thing out, and you've got to go. You'll do no good to yourself or others here. Take my advice, and wherever you go, walk six miles a day at least, work in a garden, eat half as much as you do, and be good to your wife. It's bad enough for any woman to be a parson's wife, but to be a parson's wife and your wife, too, wants a lot of fortitude."

The heavy figure lurched to the upright, and steadied itself with a force which had not yet been apparent.

"I'll do my best--so help me God!" he said and looked Ingolby squarely in the face for the first time.

"All right, see you keep your word," Ingolby replied, and nodded good-bye.

The other went to the door, and laid a hand on the knob.

Suddenly Ingolby stopped him, and thrust a little bundle of bills into his hand. "There's a hundred dollars for your wife. It'll pay the expense of moving," he said.

A look of wonder, revelation and gratitude crept into Tripple's face. "I will keep my word, so help me God!" he said again.

"All right, good-bye," responded Ingolby abruptly, and turned away.

A moment afterwards the door closed behind the Rev. Reuben Tripple and his influence in Lebanon. "I couldn't shake hands with him," said Ingolby to himself, "but I'm glad he didn't sniffle. There's some stuff in him--if it only has a chance."

"I've done a good piece of business, Berry," he said cheerfully as he passed through the barber-shop. "Suh, if you say so," said the barber, and they left the shop together.

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