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Hergard investments that shoot angel investment articles

Hergard investments that shoot

That boy has forgotten all about them, I'll be bound. I'll take the cart down myself. When they got back with the box and bag, which no one had touched since they were dropped on to the platform four hours before, they found that Nance and Bernel had got home and gone off to bed, having taken advantage of being across in Sark to call on some of their friends there.

He dreamed that night that he was cautiously treading an endless white path that swung up and down in the darkness like a piece of ribbon in a breeze. And a great white horse came plunging at him out of the darkness, and just as he gave himself up for lost, a sweet firm face in a black sun-bonnet appeared suddenly in front of him, and the white horse squealed and leaped over them and disappeared, while the stones he had displaced went rattling down into the depths below. As soon as the old captain's time was up, Gard took up his work in the mines with energetic hopefulness.

His hopefulness was unbounded. His energy he tempered with all the tact and discretion his knowledge of men, and his experience in handling them, had taught him. His father had been lost at sea the year after his son was born. His mother, a good and God-fearing woman, had strained every nerve to give her boy an education.

She died when Stephen was fourteen. He took to his father's calling and had followed it with a certain success for ten years, by which time he had attained the position of first mate. Then the owner of the Botallack Mine, in Cornwall, having come across him in the way of business, and been struck by his intelligence and aptitude, induced him by a lucrative appointment to try his luck on land. The managers of the Sark Mines, seeking a special man for somewhat special circumstances, had applied to Botallack for assistance, and Stephen Gard came to Sark as the representative of many hopes which, so far, had been somewhat lacking in results.

But, as old Tom Hamon had predicted, he very soon found that he had laid his hand to no easy plough. The Sark men were characteristically difficult, and made the difficulty greater by not understanding him—or declining to understand, which came to the same thing—when he laid down his ideas and endeavoured to bring them to his ways. Some, without doubt, had no English, and their patois was quite beyond him. Others could understand him an they would, but deliberately chose not to—partly from a conservative objection to any change whatever, and partly from an idea that he had been imported for the purpose of driving them, and driving is the last thing a Sark man will submit to.

Old Tom Hamon, and a few others who had a financial interest in the mines, assisted him all they could, in hopes of thereby assisting themselves, but they were few. As for the Cornishmen and Welshmen, the success or failure of the Sark Mines mattered little to them. There was always mining going on somewhere and competent men were always in demand. They were paid so much a week, small output or large, and without a doubt the small output entailed less labour than the large.

They naturally regarded with no great favour the man whose present aim in life it was to ensure the largest output possible. And so Gard found himself confronted by many difficulties, and, moreover, and greatly to the troubling of his mind, found himself looked upon as a dictator and an interloper by the men whom he had hoped to benefit. Concerning the mines themselves he was not called upon for an opinion. The managers had satisfied themselves as to the presence of silver. If his opinion had been asked it would have confirmed them.

But all he had to do was to follow the veins and win the ore in paying quantities, and he found himself handicapped on every hand by the obstinacy of his men. In such spare time as he had, he wandered over the Island with eager, open eyes, marvelling at its wonders and enjoying its natural beauties with rare delight. The great granite cliffs, with their deep indentations and stimulating caves and crannies; the shimmering blue and green sea, with its long slow heave which rushed in foam and tumult up the rock-pools and gullies; the softer beauties of rounded down and flower-and fern-clad slopes honeycombed with rabbit holes; the little sea-gardens teeming with novel life; in all these he found his resource and a certain consolation for his loneliness.

And in the Hamon household he found much to interest him and not a little ground for speculation. Old Mrs. Hamon—Grannie—had promptly ordered him in for inspection, and, after prolonged and careful observation from the interior of the black sun-bonnet, had been understood to approve him, since she said nothing to the contrary.

It took him some time to arrive at the correct relationship between young Tom and Nance and Bernel, for it seemed quite incredible that fruit so diverse should spring from one parent stem. For Tom was all that was rough and boorish—rude to Mrs. Hamon, coarse, and at times overbearing to Nance and Bernel, to such an extent, indeed, that more than once Gard had difficulty in remembering that he himself was only a visitor on sufferance and not entitled to interfere in such intimate family matters.

Tom was not slow to perceive this, and in consequence set himself deliberately to provoke it by behaviour even more outrageous than usual. Time and again Gard would have rejoiced to take him outside and express his feelings to their fullest satisfaction. With Mrs. Hamon and Bernel he was on the most friendly footing, his undisguised sentiments in the matter of Tom commending him to them decisively.

It was an absolutely new sensation to him, and a satisfaction the meaning of which he had not yet fully gauged, to be living under the same roof with a girl such as this. He found himself listening for her voice outside and the sound of her feet, and learned almost at once to distinguish between the clatter of her wooden pattens and any one else's when she was busy in the yard or barns.

Even though she held him at coolest arm's length, and repelled any slightest attempt at abridgment of the distance, he still rejoiced in the sight of her and found the world good because of her presence in it. He did not understand her feeling about him in the least. He did not know that she had had to give up her room for him—that she detested the mines and everything tainted by them, and himself as head and forefront of the offence—that she regarded him as an outsider and a foreigner and therefore quite out of place in Sark.

He only knew that he saw very little of her and would have liked to see a great deal more. The very reserve of her treatment of himself—one might even say her passive endurance of him—served but to stimulate within him the wish to overcome it. The attraction of indifference is a distinct force in life. There was something so trim and neat and altogether captivating to him in the slim energetic figure, in its short blue skirts and print jacket, as it whisked to and fro, inside and out, on its multifarious duties, and still more in the sweet, serious face, glimmering coyly in the shadow of the great sun-bonnet and always moulded to a fine, but, as it seemed to him, a somewhat unnatural gravity in his company.

And yet he was quite sure she could be very much otherwise when she would. For he had heard her singing over her work, and laughing merrily with Bernel; and her face, sweet as it was in its repression, seemed to him more fitted for smiles and laughter and joyousness. He saw, of course, that brother Tom was a constant source of annoyance to them all, but especially to her, and his blood boiled impotently on her account. He carried with him—as a delightful memory of her, though not without its cloud—the pretty picture she made when he came upon her one day in the orchard, milking—for, strictly as the Sabbath may be observed, cows must still be milked on a Sunday, not being endowed manna-like, with the gift of miraculous double production on a Saturday.

Her head was pressed into her favourite beast's side, and she was crooning soothingly to it as the white jets ping-panged into the frothing pail, and he stood for a moment watching her unseen. Then the cow slowly turned her head towards him, considered him gravely for a moment, decided he was unnecessary and whisked her tail impatiently. Nance's lullaby stopped, she looked round with a reproving frown, and he went silently on his way.

It was another Sunday afternoon that, as he lay in the bracken on the slope of a headland, he saw two slim figures racing down a bare slope on the opposite side of a wide blue gulf, with joyous chatter, and recognized Nance and Bernel. They disappeared and he felt lonely.

Then they came picking their way round a black spur below, and stood for a minute or two looking down at something beneath them. Which something he presently discovered must be a pool of size among the rocks, for after a brief retiral, Nance behind a boulder and Bernel into a black hollow, they came out again, she lightly clad in fluttering white and Bernel in nothing at all, and with a shout of delight dived out of sight into the pool below.

He could hear their shouts and laughter echoed back by the huge overhanging rocks. He saw them climb out again and sit sunning themselves on the grey ledge like a pair of sea-birds, and Nance's exiguous white garment no longer fluttered in the breeze. Then in they went again, and again, and again, till, tiring of the limits of the pool—huge as he afterwards found it to be—they crept over the barnacled rocks to the sea, and flung themselves fearlessly in, and came ploughing through it towards his headland.

And he shrank still lower among the bracken, for though he had watched the distant little figure in white with a slight sense of sacrilege, and absolutely no sense of impropriety but only of enjoyment, he would not for all he was worth have had her know that he had watched at all, since he could imagine how she would resent it. Nevertheless, these unconscious revelations of her real self were to him as jewels of price, and he treasured the memory of them accordingly.

He watched them swim back and disappear among the rocks, and presently go merrily up the bare slope again; and he lay long in the bracken, scarce daring to move, and when he did, he crept away warily, as one guilty of a trespass. And glad he was that he had done so, for he had proof of her feeling that same night at supper.

Peter Mauger came sheepishly in again with Tom, and Tom, when he had satisfied the edge of his hunger, must wax facetious in his brotherly way. Gard's innate honesty would not permit him to take up the cudgels this time. Inwardly he felt himself involved in her condemnation, though none but himself knew it. But he had taken at times to glowering at Tom, when his rudeness passed bounds, in a way which made that young man at once uncomfortable and angry, and at times provoked him to clownish attempts at reprisal.

Hamon bore with the black sheep quietly, since nothing else was possible to her, though her annoyance and distress were visible enough. Old Tom was completely obsessed with his visions of wealth ever just beyond the point of his pick. He toiled long hours in the damp darknesses below seas, with the sounds of crashing waves and rolling boulders close above him, and at times threateningly audible through the stratum of rocks between; and when he did appear at meals he was too weary to trouble about anything beyond the immediate satisfaction of his needs.

Besides, young Tom had long since proved his strength equal to his father's, and remonstrance or rebuke would have produced no effect. As to Bernel, he was only a boy as yet, but he was Nance's boy and all she would have wished him. In time he would grow up and be a match for Tom, and meanwhile she would see to it that he grew up as different from Tom in every respect as it was possible for a boy to be. His mother had been everything to him till she died, when he was fourteen, and he went to sea.

When she was gone, that which she had put into him remained, and kept him clear of many of the snares to which the life of the young sailorman is peculiarly liable. When he attained a position of responsibility he had had no time for anything else. And so, of his own experience, he knew little of women and their ways. Less, indeed, than Nance knew of men and their ways. And that was not very much and tended chiefly to scorn and dissatisfaction, seeing that her knowledge was gleaned almost entirely from her experiences of Tom and Peter Mauger.

Her father was, of course, her father, and on somewhat of a different plane from other men. And so, if Nance was a wonder and a revelation to Gard, Gard was no less of, at all events, a novelty in the way of mankind to Nance. His quiet bearing and good manners, after a life-long course of Tom, had a distinct attraction for her. That he could burst into flame if occasion required, she was convinced.

For, more than once, out of the corner of her eye and round the edge of her sun-bonnet, she had caught his thunderous looks of disgust at some of Tom's carryings-on. She would, perhaps, have been ashamed to confess it but, somewhere down in her heart, she rather hoped, sooner or later, to see his lightning as well. It would be worth seeing, and she was inclined to think it would be good for Tom—and the rest of the family.

For Gard looked as if he could give a good account of himself in case of need. His well-built, tight-knit figure gave one the impression that he was even stronger than he looked. If only he had been a Sark man and had nothing to do with those horrid mines!

But all her greatest dislikes met in him, and she could not bring herself to the point of relaxing one iota in these matters of which he was unfortunately and unconsciously guilty. The state of affairs at the mines improved not one whit as the months dragged on. There was a smouldering core of discontent which might break into flame at any moment—or into disastrous explosion if the necessary element were added.

Old Tom did his best, and stood loyally by the new captain and the interests of the mine and himself. But he was in a minority and could so far do no more than oppose vehement talk to vehement talk, and that, as a rule, is much like pouring oil on roaring flames.

Not many of those who were shareholders in the mine were also workers in it, and the workers met constantly at the house of a neighbour, who had turned his kitchen to an undomestic but profitable purpose by supplying drink to the miners at what seemed to the English and Welshmen ridiculously low prices. In that kitchen the new captain and his new methods were vehemently discussed and handled roughly enough—in words.

And hot words and the thoughts they excite, and wild thoughts and the words they find vent in, are at times the breeders of deeds that were better left undone. To all financially interested in the mines the need for strictest economy and fullest efficiency was patent enough. It was still a case of faith and hope—a case of continual putting in of work and money, and, so far, of getting little out—except the dross which intervened between them and their highest hopes.

There was silver there without a doubt, and the many thin veins they came across lured them on with constant hope of mighty pockets and deposits of which these were but the flying indications. And all putting in and getting nothing out results in stressful times, in business ventures as in the case of individuals. The great shafts sank deeper and deeper, the galleries branched out far under the sea, and there was a constant call for more and more money, lest that already sunk should be lost.

Hamon, disappointed in his view of raising money on the farm by Tom's obstinacy, in the bitterness of his spirit and the urgent necessities of the mines, conceived a new idea which, if he was able to carry it out, would serve the double purpose of satisfying his own needs at the recalcitrant Tom's expense. Hamon, doubtful of her own hearing. For selling the farm is the very last resource of the utterly unfortunate.

Why not? It'll all come back twenty times over when we strike the pockets, and then we can live where we will, or we can go across to Guernsey, or to England if you like. But Mrs. Hamon was silent and full of thought. She had no desire for wealth, and still less to live in Guernsey or in England, or anywhere in the world but Sark. He had been a good husband to her on the whole, until this silver craze absorbed him. She had never found it necessary to counter his wishes before.

But this idea of selling the farm cut to the very roots of her life. For Nance's sake and Bernel's she must oppose it with all that was in her. If the farm were sold the money would all go into those gaping black mouths and bottomless pits at Port Gorey. The home would be broken up—an end of all things. It must not be. But old Tom, having made up his mind, and the necessities of the case pressing, lost no time over the matter. He'll give me six hundred pounds for it and take the stock at what it's worth, and he's willing we should stop on as tenants at fifty pounds a year rent.

When we reach the silver, and the money begins to come back, we can decide what to do afterwards. Still his wife said nothing, but her face was white and set. It was hard for her to put herself in opposition to him, but here she found it necessary. He was going too far. It was only when the silence had grown ominous and painful, that she said, slowly and with difficulty—. If it was to buy another farm it would be different, for you could leave it as you choose.

But to throw away the money on those mines—". It's like you women. You never can see beyond the ends of your noses. I'll tell you what I'll do—I'll pay you out your dower right in hard cash. Will that satisfy you? If he died she would have a life interest in one-third of the farm, but could not, of course, will it to Nance or Bernel.

If he sold the farm and paid her her lawful third in cash, she could do what she chose with it. It was therefore distinctly to her own interest to fall in with his plan. But, dearly as she would have liked to make some provision, however small, for Nance and Bernel, her whole Sark soul was up in arms against the idea of selling the farm.

He remembered her years of wifely patience and faithful service, "—a foolish woman. A Sark wife should know which side of her bread the butter is on. Can't you see—". Your mother feels just as I do about it. We've talked it over—". But, see you here, mother, if I sell the farm it's not you and Nance that need trouble.

If I pay out your dowers in hard cash you're both of you better off than you are now, and I'm better off too. It's only Tom could complain, and—". Maybe it'll do him good to have to work for his living. I'll take care of myself, and we'll see who's wisest in the end. Now, will you agree to it? Hamon came in. Ch'est b'en! Your money and mine take more than half of what he gets. If you'll put yours to mine I'll make up the difference from what I've saved, and we'll retraite the farm, and it shall go to Nance and Bernel when the time comes.

Hamon, with less vigour than before. The idea appealed strongly to her maternal feelings and she had suffered much from Tom; still her instinct for right was there and was not to be stifled with a word. By a curious anomaly of Sark law, though a man may not mortgage his property without the consent of his next-in-succession, he can sell it outright and do what he chooses with the proceeds. His wife has a dower right of one-third of both real and personal estate, into which she enters upon his death.

The right, however, is there while he still lives, and must be taken into consideration in any sale of the property. If Grannie's scheme were carried out, therefore, she and Mrs. Hamon would become owners of the farm. Tom would be there on sufferance and might be kept within bounds or kicked out. Old Tom would have something more to throw into the holes at Port Gorey.

And Nance and Bernel could be adequately provided for. An excellent scheme, therefore, for all concerned—except young Tom, who would have to behave himself better than he was in the habit of doing or suffer the consequences. And if Tom behaves himself," at which Grannie grunted doubtfully, "he can have his share when the time comes. Young Tom had viewed John Guille's visits to the place with the lowering suspicion of a bull at a stranger's invasion of his field.

He wondered what was going on and surmised that it was nothing to his advantage. Words had been rare between him and his father since his refusal to lend himself to a loan on the farm, but his suspicion got the better of his obstinacy at last.

It'll all come back from the mines and you'll have your share if you behave yourself. Selling the estate away from the rightful heir was disinheritance, a blow below the belt which most testators reserve until they are safe from reach of bodily harm.

Tom left the house and cut all connection with his family. He drifted away like a threatening cloud, and the sun shone out, and Stephen Gard, with the rest, found greater comfort in his room than they had ever found in his company. So gracious, indeed, did the atmosphere of the house become, purged of Tom, that Gard, to his great joy, found even Nance not impossible of approach.

He had always treated her with extremest deference and courtesy, respecting, as far as he was able, her evident wish for nothing but the most distant intercourse. She caught his dark eyes fixed on her at times with a look that reminded her of Helier Baker's black spaniel's, who was a very close friend of hers. They had neither dog nor cat at present at La Closerie, both having been scrimped by the silver mines, when old Tom's first bad attack of economy came on.

Then, at table, Gard was always quietly on the look-out to anticipate her wants. That was a refreshing novelty. Even Bernel, her special crony, thought only of his own requirements when food stood before him. Now and again Gard began to venture on a question direct to her, generally concerning some bit of the coast he had been scrambling about, and she found it rather pleasant to be able to give information about things he did not know to this undoubtedly clever mine captain.

So, little by little, he grew into her barest toleration but apparently nothing more, and was puzzled at her aloofness and reserve, not understanding at all her bitter feeling against the mines and everything connected with them.

He had gone by himself once every Sunday, and done his best to follow the service in French, which he was endeavouring to pick up as best he could. And, if he could only now and again come across a word he understood, still the being in church and worshipping with others—even though it was in an unknown tongue—the sound of the chants and hymns and responses, and the mild austerity and reverent intonation of the good old Vicar, all induced a Sabbath feeling in him, and made a welcome change from the rougher routine of the week, which he would have missed most sorely.

On that special afternoon, he had been lying on the green wall of the old French fort, enjoying that most wonderful view over the shimmering blue sea, with Herm and Jethou resting on it like great green velvet cushions, and Guernsey gleaming softly in the distance, and Brecqhou and the Gouliot Head, and all the black outlying rocks fringed with creamy foam, till it should be time to go along to church.

When he heard voices in the road below and saw Nance and Bernel, he jumped up on the spur of the moment, and pushed through the gorse and bracken, and stood waiting for them. That's wind—sou'-west—you'll see what it's like after church. I suppose one must be born here to understand them.

We have a fine coast in Cornwall, but I think you beat us. The others had gone on; I'd been kept in, and it was nearly dark. It was blowing hard, and when I got to the first rock here I thought it was going to blow me over. So I went down on my hands and knees and was just going to crawl, when old Hirzel Mollet came down the other side with a great sheaf of wheat on his back. He was taking it to the Seigneur for his tithes. And then in a moment he gave a shout and I saw he was gone. But they could do nothing.

They went round in a boat from the Creux, but he was dead. The opening of the mines, and the influx of the Welsh and Cornishmen and their wives and children, with their new and up-to-date ideas of living and dressing, had wrought a great and not altogether wholesome change upon the original inhabitants. All the week they were hard at work in their fields or their boats, but on Sunday the lonely lanes leading to Little Sark were thronged with sightseers, curious to inspect the mines and the latest odd fashions among the miners' wives and daughters.

Odd, and extremely useless little parasols, were then the vogue in England. The miners' women-folk flaunted these before the dazzled eyes of the Sark girls, and Sark forthwith burst into flower of many-coloured parasols. The mine ladies dressed in printed cottons of strange and wonderful patterns. The Sark girls must do the same. And Rachel Guille has got a new print dress all red roses and lilac!

Mon Gyu, what are we coming to! She had many such comments and still more unspoken ones. But Stephen Gard, glancing, whenever he could do so unperceived, at the trim but plainly-dressed little sun-bonneted figure by his side, vowed in his heart that the whole of these others rolled into one were not to be compared with her, and that he would give all the silver in the mines of Sark to win her appreciation and regard.

As they turned the corner at Vauroque, they came suddenly on a number of men lounging on the low wall, and among them Tom Hamon, pipe in mouth and hands in pockets. As they passed he made some jocular remark in the patois which provoked a guffaw from the rest, and reddened Nance's face, and caused Bernel to glance up at Gard and jerk round angrily towards Tom.

Gard was surprised by the speedy verification of Bernel's weather forecast. Before the service was over the wind was howling round the building with the sounds of unleashed furies, and when they got out it was almost dark. As they passed Vauroque there seemed a still larger crowd of loafers at the corner, and again Tom's voice called rudely after them.

Gard turned promptly and strode back to where he was sitting on the wall, dangling his feet in devil-may-care fashion. Tom jumped down to meet him. Then Gard's left fist caught him on the hinge of the right jaw, and he reeled back among the others who had jumped down to back him up.

They might guffaw at Tom's unseemly pleasantries, but they held him in no high esteem—either for himself or for his position, since word of the sale of La Closerie had got about. Then they were a hardy crew and held personal courage and prowess in high respect. And in this matter there could be no possible doubt as to where the credit lay.

And Gard turned and went over to Nance and Bernel, who were sheltering from the storm in lee of one of the cottages. If he could have seen it, there was a warmer feeling in her heart for him than had ever been there before—a novel feeling, too, of respect and confidence such as she had never entertained towards any other man in all her life. For that quick blow had been struck on her behalf, she knew; and it was vastly strange, and somehow good, to feel that a great strong man was ready to stand up for her and, if necessary, to fight for her.

She pressed silently on against the gale, with an odd little glow in her heart, and a feeling as though something new had suddenly come into her life. Gard hesitated one moment and Nance stretched a hand to him, and he took it and went steadily across.

And, oh, the thrill of that first living touch of her! The feel of the warm nervous little hand sent a tingling glow through him such as he had never in his life experienced before. Verily, a white-stone day this, in spite of winds and darkness!

Gard confessed to himself that, alone, he would never have dared to face that perilous storm-swept bridge. But the small hand of a girl made all the difference and he stepped alongside her without a tremor. They had not gone more than a hundred yards when, through some freakish funnelling of the tumbled headlands, the gale gripped them like a giant playing with pigmies, caught them up, flung them bodily across the road and held Gard and Bernel pinned and panting against the green bank, while Nance disappeared over it into the shrieking darkness.

There the pressure was less, and, getting on to his hands and knees to crawl in search of Nance, he found her close beside him crouching in the lee of the grassy dyke. He crept into shelter beside her, and presently, in the lull after a fiercer blast than usual, she set off, bent almost double, and in a moment they were in comparative quiet. Nance crawled through a gap into the road and they found Bernel waiting for them. We've been through that lots of times, haven't we, Nance?

Before the six weeks allowed by Sark law for the retraiting of the property had expired, Grannie and Mrs. Hamon put in their claims, and it became generally known that they would become the new owners of La Closerie, in place of John Guille. When the rumour at length reached Tom's ears, he, not unnaturally perhaps, set down the whole matter as a plot to oust him from his heritage and put Nance and Bernel in his place. So his anger grew, and he was powerless.

And the impotence of an angry man may lead him into gruesome paths. Smouldering fires burst out at times into devastating flames, and maddened bulls put down their heads and charge regardless of consequences. When Tom Hamon asked Peter Mauger to lend him his gun to go rabbit-shooting one night, Peter, if he had been a thoughtful man, would have declined. But Peter was above all things easy-going, and anything but thoughtful of such matters as surged gloomily in Tom's angry head, and he lent him his gun as a matter of course.

For to rob a man of his rights in this fashion was past a man's bearing, and if he was to be ruined for the sake of that solemn-faced slip of a Nance and that young limb of a Bernel, he might as well take payment for it all, and cut their crowing, and give them something to remember him by. He had no very definite intentions. His mind was a chaos of whirling black furies. He would like to pay somebody out for the wrongs under which he was suffering—who, or how, was of little moment.

He had been wounded, he wanted to hit back. Should he lie in the hedge and shoot down the old man as he came in from those cursed mines which had started all the trouble? Or should he walk right into the house and shoot and fell whatever he came across? If he must suffer it would at all events be some satisfaction to think that he had made them suffer too. From where he stood he could look right in through the open door, and could hear their voices—Nance and Bernel and Mrs.

Hamon—the interlopers, the schemers, the stealers of his rights. The shaft of light was eclipsed suddenly as Nance came out and tripped across the yard on some household duty. He remembered how he used to terrify her by springing out of the darkness at her. She had helped to bring all this trouble about. And while his gun still shook in his hands to the wild throbbing of his pulses, Nance passed out of his sight into the barn.

The deed a man may do on the spur of the moment, when his brain is on fire, is not so readily done when it has to be thought about. Then Mrs. Hamon came to the door, and called to Nance to bring with her a piece or two of wood for the fire. Here was his chance! Here was the head and front of the offence, past, present, and future! If she had never come into the family there would have been no Nance, no Bernel, no selling of the farm, maybe. A movement of the arms, the crooking of a finger, and things would be even between them.

All through he had been the sufferer, and if he did this thing he must suffer still more—always he who must pay. The man who hesitates is lost, or saved. When the contemplator of evil deeds begins also to contemplate consequences, reason is beginning to resume her sway. Another chance! Gard he hated. There was a bruise on his right jaw still. And the old man! Mining is always more or less of a speculation. I would never, if I could help it, let any man put more into a mine than he can afford to lose.

Now they were all inside together. A full charge of small shot might do considerable and satisfactory damage. But thought of the certain consequences to himself welled coldly up in him again, and he slunk noiselessly away, cursing himself for leaving undone the work he had come out to do. On the common above the Pot, a terrified white scut rose almost under his feet and sped along in front of him.

He blew it into rags, and was so ashamed of his prowess that he kicked the remnants into the gorse and went home empty-handed. One of the first things Stephen Gard had seen to, when he got matters into his own hands, was the safeguarding of the mines from ever-possible irruption of the sea. The great steam pumps kept the workings reasonably clear of drainage water, but no earthly power could drain the sea if it once got in.

The central shafts had sunk far below sea-level. The lateral galleries had, in some cases, run out seawards and were now extending far under the sea itself. From the whirling coils of the tides and races round the coast, he judged that the sea-bed was as seamed and broken and full of faults as the visible cliffs ashore.

In bad weather, the men in those submarine galleries and the outbranching tunnels could hear the crash of the waves above their heads, and the rolling and grinding of the mighty boulders with which they disported. He therefore caused to be constructed and fitted inside each tunnel, at the point where it branched from its main gallery, a stout iron door, roughly hinged at the top and falling, in case of need, into the flange of a thick wooden frame. The framework was fitted to the opening on the seaward side, in a groove cut deep into the rock round each side and top and bottom.

The heavy iron door, when open, lay up against the roof of the tunnel and was supported by two wooden legs. If the sea should break through, the first rush of the water would sweep away the supporting legs, the iron door would fall with a crash into the flange of the wooden frame, and the greater the pressure the tighter it would fit. So the weight of the sea would seal the iron door against the wooden casement, which would swell and press always tighter against the rock, and that boring would be closed for ever.

And if any man should be inside the tunnel when the sea broke through, there he must stop, drowned like a rat in its hole, unless by a miracle he could make his way along the tunnel before the trap-door fell. Gard never ceased to enjoin the utmost caution on the men who undertook these outermost experimental borings. His strict injunctions were to cease work at the first sign of water in these undersea tunnels, make for the gallery, close the trap, and await events.

Believing absolutely in the existence of one or more great central deposits whence all these thin veins of silver had come, and hoping to strike them at every blow of his pick, old Tom Hamon was the keenest explorer and opener of new leads in the mine. He took his rightful pay along with the rest for the work he did, but it was not for wages he wrought. Ever just beyond the point of his energetic pick lay fortune, and he was after it with all his heart and soul and bodily powers.

For months he had been following up a vein which ran out under the sea, and grew richer and richer as he laid it bare. He believed it would lead him to the mother vein, and that to the heart of all the Sark silver. And so he toiled, early and late, and knew no weariness. His tunnel, in places not more than three and four feet high and between two and three feet wide, extended now several hundred feet under the sea, and was fitted at the gallery end with the usual raised iron door.

It was hot work in there, in the dim-lighted darkness, in spite of the fact that the sea was close above his head. Fortunately, here and there, he had come upon curious little chambers like empty bubbles in one-time molten rock, ten feet across and as much in height, some of them, and curiously whorled and wrought, and these allowed him breathing spaces and welcome relief from the crampings of the passage.

When he had broken into such a chamber it needed, at times, no little labour to rediscover his vein on the opposite side. But he always found it in time, and broke through the farther wall with unusual difficulty, and went on. The men generally worked in pairs, but old Tom would have no one with him. He did all the work, picking and hauling the refuse single-handed. The work should be his alone, his alone the glory of the great and ultimate discovery.

The rocks above him sweated and dripped at times, but that was only to be expected and gave him no anxiety. Alone with his eager hopes he chipped and picked, and felt no loneliness because of the flame of hope that burned within him. Above him he could hear the long roll and growl of the wave-tormented boulders—now a dull, heavy fall like the blow of a gigantic mallet, and again a long-drawn crash like shingle grinding down a hillside.

But these things he had heard before and had grown accustomed to. And so it was fated that, one day, after patiently picking round a great piece of rock till it was loosened from its ages-old bed, he felt it tremble under his hand, and leaning his weight against it, it disappeared into space beyond.

That had happened before when he struck one of the chambers, and he felt no uneasiness. If there had been water beyond, it would have given him notice by oozing round the rock as he loosened it. The brief rush of foul gas, which always followed the opening of one of these hollows, he avoided by lying flat on the ground until he felt the air about him sweeter again.

Then, enlarging the aperture with his pick, he scrambled through into this chamber now first opened since time began. It was like many he had seen before, but considerably larger. Holding his light at arm's length, above his head, a million little eyes twinkled back at him as the rays shot to and fro on the pointed facets of the rock crystals which hung from the roof and started out of the walls and ground.

The gleaming fingers seemed all pointed straight at him. Was it in mockery or in acknowledgment of his prowess? For, in among the pointing fingers, it seemed to him that the silver-bearing veins ran thick as the setting of an ancient jewel, twisted and curling and winding in and out so that his eyes were dazzled with the wonder of it all. A man at last! Since time began we have awaited him, and this is he at last!

But he had found his treasure and he heeded nought beside. Here, of a surety, he said to himself, was the silver heart from which the scattered veins had been projected. He had found what he had sought with such labours and persistency.

What else mattered? Just one universal collapse, one chaotic climacteric, begun and ended in the same instant, as the crust of the chamber, no longer supported by the in-pent air, dissolved under the irresistible pressure of the sea. Where the sparkling chamber had been was a whirling vortex of bubbling green water, in which tumbled grotesquely the body of a man.

The water boiled furiously along the tunnel and foamed into the gallery. The wooden supports of the iron door gave way; the door sank slowly into its appointed place. Tom Hamon heard it as he sat brooding over his wrongs and cursing the chicken-heartedness and fear of consequences which had robbed him of his revenge.

But there was no doubt about it. Old Tom was dead: the six weeks were still two days short of their fulfilment; the property was his; his day had come. He walked straight to La Closerie, and stalked grimly into the kitchen, where, as it happened, they were sitting over a doleful and long-delayed meal. Hamon had been too overwhelmed by the unexpected blow to consider all its bearings.

Grannie, looking beyond, had foreseen consequences and trouble with Tom, and had sent for Stephen Gard and given him some elementary instruction relative to the laws of succession in Sark. Tom stalked in upon them with malevolent triumph. They had tried their best to oust him from his inheritance and the act of God had spoiled them.

He felt almost virtuous. But his natural truculence, and his not altogether unnatural exultation at the frustration of these plans for his own upsetting, overcame all else. Of regret for their personal loss and his own he had none. Mighty fine, aren't we, feasting on the best," he began.

Eating my best butter, too! Until things are properly divided you'll keep out of this, if you're well advised. We'll see about that, Mister Bully. I know what you're up to, trying to fool our Nance with your foreign ways, and I won't have it. She's not for the likes of you or any other man that's got a wife and children over in England—". This was the suddenly-thought-of burden of a discussion over the cups one night at the canteen, soon after Gard's arrival, when the possibility of his being a married man had been mooted and had remained in Tom's turgid brain as a fact.

And Nance's face, which had unconsciously stiffened at Tom's words, glowed again at Gard's revelation of the natural man in him, and her eyes shone with various emotions—doubts, hopes, fears, and a keen interest in what would follow. The first thing that followed was the dish of butter, which hurtled past Gard's head and crashed into the face of the clock, and then fell with a flop to the earthen floor. The next was Tom's lowered head and cumbrous body, as he charged like a bull into Gard and both rolled to the ground, the table escaping catastrophe by a hair's-breadth.

Hamon had sprung up with clasped hands and piteous face. Nance and Bernel had sprung up also, with distress in their faces but still more of interest. They had come to a certain reliance on Gard's powers, and how many and many a time had they longed to be able to give Tom a well-deserved thrashing! Through the open door of her room came Grannie's hard little voice, "Now then! Now then! What are you about there? But this time Gard was ready for him, and a stout buffet on the ear as he passed sent him crashing in a heap into the bowels of the clock, which had witnessed no such doings since Tom's great-grandfather brought it home and stood it in its place, and it testified to its amazement at them by standing with hands uplifted at ten minutes to two until it was repaired many months afterwards.

Tom got up rather dazedly, and Gard took him by the shoulders and ran him outside before he had time to pull himself together. You're not wanted here at present, and if you make any more trouble you'll suffer for it," and he gave him a final whirl away from the house and went in and closed the door. Tom stood gazing at it in dull fury, thought of smashing the window, picked up a stone, remembered just in time that it would be his window, so flung the stone and a curse against the door and departed.

She came back presently and said briefly to Gard, "She wants you," and he went in to the old lady. He's a bad lot is Tom, and he'll make things uncomfortable when he comes here to live. When Nancy takes her third of what's left of the house, that'll be only two rooms, so you'll have to look out for another, and maybe you'll not find it easy to get one in Little Sark. I've told Nancy to get Philip Tanquerel of Val Creux to help her portion the lots, and it'll be no easy job, for Tom will choose the best and get all he can.

They were agreeably surprised to hear no more of Tom, but learned before long that, on the strength of his unexpected good fortune, he had gone over to Guernsey to pass, in ways that most appealed to him, the six weeks allowed by the law for the settlement of his father's affairs.

Hamon's behalf, to allot all old Tom's estate, house, fields, cattle, implements, furniture, into three as equal portions as he could contrive with his most careful balancing of pros and cons. For, with Solomon-like wisdom, Sark law entails upon the widow the apportionment of the three lots into which everything is divided, but allows the heir first choice of any two of them, the remaining lot becoming the widow's dower.

No light undertaking, therefore, the apportionment of those lots, or the widow may be left with only bedrooms to live in, and an ill proportion of grazing ground for her cattle and herself to live upon. For, be sure that when it comes to the picking of these lots, even the best of sons will pick the plums, and when such an one as Tom Hamon is in question it is as well to mingle the plums and the sloes with an exactitude of proportionment that will allow of no advantage either way.

Gard's isolation was brought home to him when he endeavoured to find another lodging in Little Sark. Accommodation was, of course, limited. Many of the miners had to tramp in each day from Sark. There was still, in spite of all his tact and efforts, somewhat of a feeling against him as a new-comer, an innovator, a tightener of loose cords, and no one offered to change quarters to oblige him. They were quiet, farmer-fisher folk who lived there, having nothing to do with the mines and little beyond a general interest in them.

When not at work, he was thrown much upon himself, and if in his rambles he chanced upon Bernel Hamon it was a treat, and if, as happened all too seldom, upon Nance as well, an enjoyment beyond words. But Nance was a busy maid, with hens and chickens, and cows and calves, and pigs and piglets claiming her constant attention, and it was only now and again that she could so arrange her duties as to allow of a flight with Bernel—a flight which always took the way to the sea and developed presently into a bathing revel wherein she flung cares and clothes to the winds, or into a fishing excursion, in which pleasure and profit and somewhat of pain were evenly mixed.

For, though she loved the sea and ate fresh-caught fish with as much gusto as any, she hated seeing them caught—almost as much as she hated having her fowls or piglets slaughtered for eating purposes, and never would touch them—a delicacy of feeling at which Bernel openly scoffed but could not laugh her out of.

She had sentiments also regarding the rabbits Bernel shot on the cliffs, but being wild, and she herself having had no hand in their upbringing and not having known them intimately, she accepted them as natural provision, though not without compunctions at times concerning possible families of orphans left totally unprovided for.

By degrees, and especially after her father's tragic death, Nance's feelings towards the stranger had perceptibly changed. He might be an alien, an Englishman; but he was at all events a Cornishman, and she had heard say that the men of Cornwall and of the Islands and of the Bretagne had much in common, just as their rugged coasts had. And England, after all, was allied to the Islands, belonged to them in fact, and was indeed quite as essential a part of the Queen's dominions as the Islands themselves, and to harbour unfriendly feeling towards your own relations—unless indeed, as in the case of Tom, they had given you ample cause—would be surely the mark of a small and narrow mind.

That staff ever since has been wrestling with the great problems that confront a powerful [Pg xiii] nation with multitudinous interests. Its accomplishments have satisfied the Department that its judgment was right when it established a peculiar standard for the men whom it selected to perform these delicate and difficult tasks. I have purposely cultivated these men in many cities, have seen them at work, have been given special privileges in my efforts to get a true conception of them and their methods.

Scores of the stars that have been developed in the service have told me their best stories, their most striking experiences. In the end, I have attempted to evolve a character who is typical of this new school of detectives. I have wanted him to work in my stories as he would have done in actual life.

I have wanted him to be true in every detail to those young men who to-day are actually performing those tasks for Uncle Sam. So has Billy Gard come into being. The cases upon which he goes forth have actually been ground through the mill of which he is a part. Each is founded on facts related to me by these special agents of the Department of Justice.

Billy Gard is not an individual but [Pg xiv] a type—a new detective who is effectually performing as important work as ever came to the lot of men of his kind. If the reader wants to know that his story pictures correctly the situation which it undertakes, I wish to assure him that I have taken infinite care that Billy Gard should work out his problems by the methods that are actually employed and that the Government machine operates in just this way.

On the face of it one might have questioned the wisdom of selecting for a task so difficult a man who knew absolutely nothing about it. When the work in hand was the apprehension of a band of violators of the law who had for years defied and intimidated the whole countryside, this course seemed even more unusual.

But the wonder would have still further multiplied itself if the casual observer could have given Billy Gard the once over as he sat nervously on the edge of the cane seat of the day coach as the accommodation train pulled into the hill country. For this special agent of the Department of Justice, mind you, was to take up a piece of work upon which local constables and sheriffs, [Pg 2] United States marshals and revenue agents had failed.

There was murder at one end of the road he was to travel and the gallows at the other. And Gard was a nondescript youngster who looked less than thirty, neither light nor dark, large nor small—inconspicuous, easily lost in a crowd. The careful observer might have noticed the breadth of brow and the wrinkles that come to the man who thinks, or the tenseness of his slim form that indicated physical fitness.

For to be sure, these federal sleuths of the new school are mostly college men, lawyers, expert accountants, as was Gard; but youngsters in whom is to be found the love of a bit of adventure and the steel of a set determination. And now this slip of a lad was going back into the Cumberlands where the whisky still whispers its secret to the mountaineer; where the revenue agent penetrates at his peril and the Long Tom speaks from the thickets; where the clansman sets what he considers his rights above the law of the land and stands ready to lay his life or that of any who oppose him on the altar he has built.

Gard was after a community of moonshiners who had defied all local authority and thrown down the gauntlet to the [Pg 3] Federal Government itself. He came alone with a little wicker grip. The doctor said I ought to stay in the mountains for a month or two.

Do you know such a place? The liveryman was accustomed to driving summer boarders out to the few places where they might stay in the Cumberlands. He sketched these possibilities and told of the location of each. Gard already had the map of the country well in mind and selected the farm near Sam Lunsford's, he being the mountaineer whom the agent most wanted to cultivate.

Todd reviewed the situation as between the mountaineers and the Government as he drove his customer out to the Tenney farm where he was to ask to be put up. They ain't many ideas gits into the head of a man who lives in the mountains, and when one gits set there, you can't get it out. They think they got a right to make whisky and whisky they are goin' to make or bust. We see that it ain't right to fight the Government and that whisky is no good anyhow, so whenever we find out where there is a still, we tell the revenue agents about it.

Well, we git warnin's that we better not do it no more, but them fellers can't skeer us so we go right ahead. Next mornin' we find his wagon standin' off to the side of the road and [Pg 5] Tom is down in front of the seat dead with a load of buckshot in his head. So things goes on for two months. Then, one night, Sam was up late with one of his babies that had the colic. He was settin' before the fire a rockin' the baby when, bang! Did you ever try to shoot the head off of a chicken as it walked across the yard?

Its head moves for'd and back and it is mighty hard to hit it. That's the way with Sam rockin' the baby, I reckon. Anyway, the buckshot just got Sam in the back part of his head and didn't kill him. Next day his old woman picked the buckshot out with a pocket knife because the doctor was afraid to go. Now Sam is as well as he ever was and he ain't changed his mind about the stills. Him and me reported two of them last week.

This story was about in accordance with the information Gard received from Washington. The murderers and those who attempted murder should be apprehended. As the wagon wound along the country road Todd called the special agent's attention to the report of a rifle from a hillside to the right. Soon another gun was discharged further ahead and a third still further on.

This, the liveryman said, was a system of signals that told of their presence. A little farther along the road wound into a hollow down which flowed a brook. Out of the brush in this hollow stepped the form of a mountaineer with a rifle across his arm. Todd drew up his team.

The mountaineer walked around to the back of the wagon where Gard's little wicker grip was carried. Without a word he opened the grip and carefully examined everything in it. You can't never tell whether you will git back when you start out with that skunk. It was three days later that Billy Gard, squirrel rifle on his shoulder, walked into the clearing about the house of Sam Lunsford, the man who had survived the charge of buckshot in the back of his head.

The Lunsford house consisted of one log room with a lean-to addition at the back. There was a clearing of some thirty acres where grew a most indifferent sprinkling of corn and cotton. There was a crib for the corn, a ramshackle wagon, a flea-bitten gray horse and some hogs running wild in the woods. Such was the Lunsford estate, presided over by this huge mountaineer and to which his eleven children were heir.

Seldom did an echo of the outside world reach this home in the woods. Not a member of the family was able to read. Every Sunday Sam [Pg 8] Lunsford drove the flea-bitten gray or walked seven miles to a little mountain church where was preached a gospel of hellfire and brimstone. He was hated by his neighbors and constantly in the shadow of death.

Yet he went unswervingly on the way of his duty in accordance with his lights. Gard already had the measure of his man. No sooner had he presented himself than he put his business up to the mountaineer, "cold turkey," as the agents say when they lay all the cards on the table. Would Lunsford help the government in getting the facts that would bring the murderers of Tom Reynolds and the men who shot him to justice?

Lunsford would do all he could. The mountaineer placed the rocking chair in front of the fire directly between a hole in the window and a spot in the opposite wall where the buckshot had lodged themselves, [Pg 9] peppering up a surface two feet square. Thus was it easy to trace the flight of the shot through the room. The special agent examined both window pane and wall. He led the way into the yard and there pointed out a stout peg which had been driven into the ground not a dozen feet from the window.

The mountaineer had done so and had cut a stick just the length of the track. This stick had been carefully preserved. Even this precaution was taken by Lunsford. These men of the mountains mostly load their own shells and the wads in this case had been made by cutting pieces out of a pasteboard box. So there were a number of clues at hand. Special Agent Billy Gard stood on the spot [Pg 10] from which the shot had been fired.

From this point to that at which the buckshot had entered the wall of the cabin was not more than thirty feet. The shot at that distance are all in a bunch not bigger than your fist. Yet the shot in the cabin wall were scattered. The man with the gun must have been further away. Gard stated this view of the matter to the mountaineer, but that individual showed how it would have been impossible for the shot to have been fired from a greater distance because there was a depression that would have placed the man with the gun too low down to see in at the window.

The shot could have been fired from but the one spot. The window pane through which the shot had passed was about half way between the peg and the wall where the charge had lodged. The hole in the window was not more than half as large as the wall surface peppered by the shot. This scatter of shot at such short range was significant. Here was a probable case of Ty Jones being the man guilty of the attempt on the life of Lunsford. There was a possibility, as Gard saw it, of getting this suspicion confirmed.

Despite the animosity that existed between the heads of the families, the Jones youngsters and the Lunsford youngsters were playmates; so does the sociability of youth break down the bars set up by maturity. Lunsford had a boy of ten who was wise with the cunning of the woods and trustworthy in lending a hand in the [Pg 12] feuds to which he was born. This boy, in playing about the Jones household, was instructed to pick up every piece of pasteboard box he could find and bring those pieces home.

Likewise was he to measure the shoes of the Jones household, when an opportunity offered, and tie knots in a string to indicate their length. It was a week before this task had been completed by the boy, but the results indicated that the foot of a certain pair of shoes in the Jones home was like unto that of the man of the sawed-off shotgun. Scraps of cut-up shoe boxes had been found, white on one side and brown on the other, and from these had evidently been made wads for reloading shells.

Thus far was Special Agent Gard able to carry his case toward a solution. There were twenty men in the neighborhood who might have been implicated with Jones, if he were guilty, in this attempt and in the killing of Tom Reynolds. There were twenty and more makers of moonshine who had been reported or stood in danger. It was hard to determine which of the twenty were actually guilty.

The suspicions against Jones were not evidence. After a month on the case Gard decided that a complete solution [Pg 13] of the mystery was possible only through working in with the moonshiners themselves and gaining their confidence. So the summer boarder left the Tenney farm, stating that his health was greatly improved but that he would come back two months later for another stay.

A week after this there was nailed up at every post office and court house within a hundred miles of Wheeler a notice of reward for an escaped convict. A short, stout, curly-headed young outlaw had broken jail in South Carolina and when last heard of was bearing in this direction. Fifty dollars reward would be paid for his capture. His picture appeared with the notice.

After still another week the Jones children were playing in the woods back of their house when a strange man called them from a distance. The youngsters approached cautiously. The man was no less cautious. He was a short curly-headed young fellow with a stubby beard, with his clothing in shreds and very dirty. He looked as though he had slept in the woods for a month. There were stripes across an under garment that showed through his open shirt. You have demonstrated a hypothesis, confirmed a rumor, hit upon a great truth, sleuthed a primal fact to its lair.

The plain truth is that I haven't had anything to eat in so long that I have forgotten my last meal. I am the hungriest man in the world. I could eat tacks with a spoon. I have been lost in the woods and without food. Jones incisively, she who had spent a life in those mountains where the [Pg 15] sympathy was all with the man whose hand was turned against authority and where many fugitives from the law had found refuge.

Back of that there was the little matter of cracking a safe. Other than that I assure you my conduct has been of the best. So engaging was the manner of this young man of the rags from the great world beyond the mountains that Mrs. Jones immediately liked him.

He was a perfect cataract of words and talked incessantly. She was not able to understand half he said but was pleased with all of it. He ran on glibly but always stopped short of being smart in the sense that would call forth dislike. All the time he was eating corn bread and bacon with the relish of one who has long omitted the formality of dining.

Such was the introduction of Special Agent A. For all these situations Dowling had a stream of talk that never failed to amuse and disarm. Billy Gard had asked the department for his help on the moonshiners' case and Dowling had fallen into the plan with all the enthusiasm of adventurous youth. The features of the jail breaker for whom the reward was offered were those of Dowling. So had preparation been made for his coming. Gard had laid his plans with an understanding of the habits of the mountaineer to hide the fugitive.

He had figured that such a fugitive might get into the confidence of those iron men of few words and filch from them their secrets. With the right culprits behind the bars the backbone of this defiance of the law might be broken. Dowling's stream of talk won the friendship of Ty Jones and his sons as it had won his wife. The fugitive was tucked away in the hills and fed by the mountaineers.

He came to know the intimates of the Jones family and his stream of [Pg 17] talk entertained them for days and weeks. He hibernated with others of his kind for he found the hills full of men in hiding. He became a visitor at many a cabin and eventually struck the rock that responded to his confidence. A young mountaineer named Ed Hill maintained an active still high up in the mountains—a virgin still that had never known the desecration of a raid.

Hill was high spirited and companionable, unlike most of his neighbors. His was the soul of a poet, a lover of the wilds, a patriot of the mountains. The flame of adventure, the love of danger, the belief in the individual rights of the mountaineer, made him a moving spirit among the men who battled the government. Ed Hill told the fugitive the whole story of the killing of Tom Reynolds and the shooting of Sam Lunsford.

He told of the determination to rid the mountains of Todd, the livery stable man, and to preserve for the men of the Cumberlands the right to do as they chose in their own retreats. It seemed that of all the men of the mountains who made moonshine whisky, there were but four who were willing to go the limit of [Pg 18] spilling the blood of their fellows in resisting the law. Hill was one of these and saw his acts as those of the man who fights for his country.

Ty Jones, contrary to the suspicions of Sam Lunsford, always advised against violence. But Jones had a boy of eighteen, a heavy-faced, dull-witted lad, who was possessed of the desire to kill, to be known among his fellows as a bad man. This younger Jones it was who had aimed his father's sawed-off shotgun at Sam Lunsford as that hulking figure of a man swayed back and forth as he rocked the baby that suffered from colic.

The patriot Hill, Will Jones the born murderer, a father and son by the name of Hinton, had been the murderers of Tom Reynolds. There were no others who would go so far as to kill to avenge their fancied grievances. The summer was dragging to its close as the conversational special agent got his information together.

The yellow was stealing into the trees of the hillsides when Billy Gard, he whose health had been broken behind the ribbon counter, came back to Tenney's for another few weeks in the open. He wandered into the woods and met the fugitive from the South Carolina [Pg 19] jail. The jail bird and the ribbon counter clerk talked long together and when they parted the plans were laid for the nipping off of the men who would murder for their stills.

It was a week later and the quiet of after-midnight rested upon the little mountain town of Wheeler. In such towns there are no all-night industries, no street cars to drone through deserted thoroughfares, not even an arc light to sputter at street crossings. There is but the occasional stamping of a horse in its stall or the baying of a watch dog in answer to the howl of a wolf on the hillside. But murder was planned to take place that night in Wheeler and A.

Spaulding Dowling knew all about it. As the town slept four stealthy figures crept down the trail that cuts across the point of the Hunchback. Soft-footedly, rifles in hand, they passed down a side street beneath the dense shade of giant sycamores. It was but three blocks from the woods to Main street. Reaching this artery of the town, two of the men crouched in the shadow while two others crossed the street and went a block further, turning to the left.

Each group then shifted itself a hundred feet to the left and paused again. So stationed the four men found themselves in front and back of Todd's livery stable. The building itself sat back a little from the street. On the ground floor were the stalls for the horses and the sheds where the wagons were stored. Overhead were bins of corn and hay and a living room where Todd slept that he might always be near his teams. About the whole was a roomy barnyard enclosed by a high board fence.

The gates to the outer enclosure were locked, but once past this wall a man would have the run of the whole place. The mountaineers, two in front and two in the rear of the building, swung themselves to the top of the fence and leaped to the ground inside. Rifles at hip they started to close in on the building. Each party entered at opposite ends of the corridor down the middle through which a wagon might drive.

Nothing interfered with their progress and no sound was heard except a sleeping horse occasionally changing feet on the board floor of his stall. Stealthily the four figures gathered in a cluster and turned up the steep stairway that led to the sleeping room of Todd.

With every rifle ready for action they pushed open the door. Deliberately the four rifles came to bear upon it. There was a pause and then from the leader came the order:. Every finger pressed the trigger of its rifle. Every hammer came down on its cap. But no report followed. Not a gun had been discharged. The men in the room looked puzzled, one at the other, and then at the form on the bed.

They approached the latter and found it to be but a dummy to represent Todd. They had been trapped. They would fight their way out. The mountaineers charged down the stairway. As they came into the moonlight at the opening of the barn they faced the tall form of a man they knew well, the United States marshal of the district.

With no gun in his hands the marshal raised his hands on high. You are trapped. There are armed men at every corner of this building and every man who runs out of it will be shot dead. Your powder has been wet and none of you can fire a shot. You can't fight armed men. There is but one thing for you to do and that is to surrender. In the parley that followed the marshal asked each man to try his gun to see if it could be fired.

None would respond. The mountaineers found themselves caught in the very act of attempting to kill Todd, whom they had often threatened. They had been duped and trapped. So had these young detectives of the new school worked out a most difficult case and one which later proved, in the courts, to be effective, for every man arrested is now serving a long term in prison and the backbone of the defiance of law in this region is broken. Summer Boarder," said the curly-haired Dowling, "it is back to the ribbon counter for you.

Your little vacation is over. But I will say that you have shown remarkable intelligence in this matter. You called me in to help you. Little drops of water put in just the [Pg 23] right place saved all your lives. These mountaineers would have eaten you up if I hadn't fixed their ammunition. Please thank me—". Billy Gard was not thinking of business at all. As a healthy, ultranormal young man, he was drowsing over his breakfast as one has a way of doing when at peace with the world and when unaroused by any call of the present.

He had reached the rolls and coffee stage of his meal in a spirit of detachment that took no account of the somewhat garish flashiness of the hotel dining-room in this typical hostelry of a city that had become noted as a maker of industrial millionaires. Then as his glance idly trailed among the other breakfasters, it automatically picked up an incident that flashed a light into his dormant brain and brought it to full consciousness.

A spoon had started from a grape fruit to the mouth of the tall, curly-haired man two tables away. Half way on its journey the hand which held it had twitched violently and spilled [Pg 25] most of the contents. The brown eyes of the man stole out somewhat furtively to learn if anybody had noticed his nervousness.

Special Agent Billy Gard now gazed at the ceiling, but his mind was busy. It was running over the facts that it contained with relation to Bayard Alexander, who was this morning not himself and apprehensive lest the fact be noticed.

For Alexander was of the class of men of whom it was his business to know. He was cashier of the Second National bank and Uncle Sam keeps a pretty close watch on such institutions when they happen to be located in communities of feverish activity. So the special agent recalled that the tall man with the damp curls was a moving spirit in the city, an important instrument in its development, a man of many philanthropies, personal friend of a United States Senator, cashier and active head of one of the most powerful financial institutions in the community.

He was a man of very great energy, but one who led a normal, wholesome life and who, at the age of forty-five, seemed just coming into his stride. The bank examiner, Gard recalled, had steadily given the Second National a clean bill of health.

Why, then, should Alexander be nervous and, granting him that privilege, why should he fear its being noticed? All of which was the seemingly illogical reason why Gard went to Wheeling that very night and was not seen about the metropolis for a week thereafter.

I am on my way to the city of opportunity looking for a job. You are to convert me from a dweller in gilded palaces to a bank bookkeeper out of work, but with credentials. You introduce me to the cashier, he finds out what a really [Pg 27] good fellow I am, we become friends. He gives me a letter of introduction to the man I want to meet.

I return to the city and thrust myself properly into the affairs of one Sloan, bookkeeper for the Second National. The next time the corpulent examiner comes around he gets the surprise of his life. Do you follow me? Billy Gard had reached the conclusion that, if there was anything wrong with Bayard Alexander's bank the examiner was being deceived and that, therefore, there must be a juggling of accounts.

Bookkeeper Charley Sloan of the individual ledgers occupied the post most likely to be used for deception, and so the special agent was taking a lot of trouble to make the right opportunity for getting friendly with Charley.

That mild little man was therefore favorably impressed when he was handed a letter from his former associate who had gone to Wheeling and become a cashier. The two visited so agreeably together that a friendship developed and Gard came to live at the bookkeeper's boarding house. The two accountants grew to spend many evenings together and naturally talked shop.

Next to him was a bookkeeper who went wrong. He was induced to do this by a depositor who had a scheme for making them both rich. All the depositor needed was a little money. So he proposed that he draw checks against the bank and that the bookkeeper charge them temporarily to other accounts. The depositor would cash the checks at other banks and, when they came in, the teller would merely turn them over to the bookkeeper, probably asking if there was money to meet them.

There was no record of it except in the pass books. He got nearly all the money that came in for two months before he was found out. The accounts balance for the examiner. I'll bet there isn't one bank in a dozen that doesn't fool the examiner. The bookkeeper colored to his temples and was noticeably confused at the question. Then he said he had heard of its being done. The sleuth would have sworn he had led the bookkeeper into a confession. Nothing was more natural than that these two bank bookkeepers should recur occasionally to the possibility of so arranging accounts that were in questionable condition that they would be passed by the examiner.

Gard would lead to this in such a way that the bookkeeper would seem to have begun these discussions. Then he would talk freely. He would tell so many stories that the timid Sloan would want to relate a few in furnishing his part of the [Pg 30] entertainment. But Gard knew that the bookkeeper was a man without imagination and that he could relate only what had happened in his experience. So he was all ears when Sloan one night gave his opinions on the subject of kiting.

A depositor may turn in a check for a thousand dollars, drawn on a New York bank where he has no money. At the same time he sends the New York bank a check for the same amount, drawn on you. This causes the New York bank to honor the check drawn against it. The check drawn on you has to find its way through the clearing house and it will be a week before it gets back. In the meantime the depositor has had the use of a thousand dollars. The messenger gets the whole amount in cash.

It appears [Pg 31] as an asset of the bank. It will be two or three days before the check will come back through the clearing house and appear as a liability, or the friendly bank may hold it up even longer. The banks may be swapping this sort of favors.

The bank examiner does not know of the outstanding check. He is out of town before it appears. Special Agent Billy Gard was again practically certain that he had here been told a chapter out of the experience of the Second National. He began to see his way clear to a denouement. That same night events were transpiring of which he was to know a week later but which as yet were held in confidence among the directors of the Second National.

They took place at a meeting of these same directors called by a minority which was dissatisfied with certain features of its management. Director Hinton, a sprightly and quick-tempered little man, was the leader of the revolt.

Senator Bothdoldt was present as a supporter of the management of the bank as represented by the suave, forceful cashier, Bayard Alexander, whose hand sometimes shook at breakfast. It has been three years now that we have been pouring out our money to these people. It is time to call a halt. Hinton, "have reached the point where I insist on a new management.

I would like to know the sentiment of the board upon this question. But the cashier asked for a word of explanation. Broad-shouldered and upstanding he rose among these heavy, sleek, bald-headed business men. His high and intellectual brow and clear-cut features gave him a distinction that always made an impression. But the firm mouth and the damp curls were those of a man [Pg 33] of physical force and determination.

His voice was alluring and convincing as he made his plea and there was now no tremble of the hand. He stated and called upon Senator Bothdoldt to witness that the McGrath Construction Company had just received from the Government contracts for the building of numerous locks in the Ohio River. He agreed with the spirit of conservatism of the board and shared it. He had heard the rumors with relation to the Oldman Mercantile Company and had sifted them to their depths and had found them without basis in fact.

However, he had just called in a block of their notes. He painted a rosy picture of the condition of the bank and the prospects of the future. He reminded the directors that they had given him a free hand in the past and pointed to the institution as a monument to his accomplishment. At the termination of which speech, so convincing and so dominant was the personality of the man, Director Hinton withdrew his protest and the institution was left under the former guidance.

It was three days later that things began to happen. Gard had called upon Bank Examiner Allen to come to his assistance. The two of [Pg 34] them had conferred the night before and settled upon a plan of campaign for testing the stability of the affairs of the bank. It was in accordance with this plan that the rotund and genial Allen breakfasted in that dining-room where the special agent's suspicions had first been aroused. Bayard Alexander was at his usual table and Allen allowed the banker to see him although he appeared not to be aware of it.

It was also in accordance with the cards played by the men of the Government service that Special Agent Gard, still a bit seedy in his hand-me-down suit, was loafing on the sidewalk opposite the Second National bank when the cashier came to work.

It was a part of his plan that he should see as much as possible of what went on in the institution when the word was passed that the examiner was in town. Gard was not surprised, therefore, when a messenger emerged from the bank and hurried off down the street. He believed that the story of the bookkeeper of the kiting bank was to be enacted before his eyes. He followed the messenger to another bank two blocks away and [Pg 35] there saw him present a check.

Gard crowded in on the pretense of getting a bill changed and saw blocks of bills of large denominations being taken from the vault. The messenger hurried back to the bank with them. It was evident that that institution was making ready for the coming of the examiner. It was as evident that its affairs were not as they should be or this preparation would not be necessary. It was a part of the program that when Sloan, the bookkeeper, came out of the bank for lunch, Gard should be waiting for him.

It was not unusual that they thus went to their noonday meal together. It is a large photograph, rolled, that I have just received from home. Please be careful of it. The special agent assumed charge of the package which looked not unlike a roll of music.

Later he found his suspicions justified for in the roll were a number of leaves from the bank's individual ledger. Gard was appalled at the [Pg 36] amount of money that they represented. He carefully photographed them and returned them that night to the bookkeeper. No pretext was omitted for getting a look into what was transpiring in the Second National bank on this particular day. Examiner Allen had called in the afternoon and had carefully looked over the balances.

All appeared to be in order and no discrepancies were revealed. The bank seemed particularly strong from the standpoint of cash on hand. It was just at closing time that two things happened. Gard presented himself at the Second National and asked to see the cashier.

He had become known there as an associate of Sloan's. He was looking for a position as bookkeeper and it was for this he came. He waited. It often happens that an individual may wander unannounced into quarters the privacy of which are ordinarily closely guarded. Gard found the door open that led into the corridor off of which were to be found the offices of the officials of the bank.

He walked in and wandered down the row until he found that of the cashier. This he entered and found [Pg 37] entirely empty. It was a spacious room with a big, flat-topped desk. Across one corner of this was thrown a coat, and a hat rested upon it.

An open traveling bag stood on the table. The special agent, by leaning on the table in the attitude of waiting, could look into the bag. There he saw a package of what he recognized as a well-known issue of industrial bonds which the examiner had listed as one of the chief assets of the bank. It should have been in the bank's vaults, instead of which it was in the cashier's traveling bag.

This was a discovery well worth consideration. Cashier Alexander entered the room hurriedly from another part of the bank. He was visibly startled to find some one present and demanded bruskly what the intruder was doing there. The special agent took his dismissal. He had learned that the bank cashier was going away and that he was taking a package of the bank's most valuable securities with him. He was going some distance for the trip was to last three days.

His destination was probably New York. Meantime the genial examiner had rolled in upon the bank to which the Second National had sent its messenger, at about closing time. He had asked to see the transactions of the day. Among these was found the record of the check that had been cashed early in the morning. The time has come for his arrest. Particularly must we guard those assets and prevent any unnecessary demands upon the bank.

You try for his trail about town and report to me there. But after all it was a piece of luck that saved the day for Gard. He was racing for the station in a taxicab when his machine was halted at a crossing. Another taxicab pulled up beside his, waited a minute, two minutes.

He could see the driver from where that individual sat not six feet away and just opposite his window. Presently this chauffeur bent down to get instructions from his fare. The man in the taxicab was talking quietly, but so near was he to the special agent that he could be easily overheard.

We have already missed the If you head it off at the North side it is worth a twenty-dollar bill to you. The voice was smooth and unruffled. Yet it was dominant. It set the driver immediately upon edge and into motion. And there was in it a familiar note that puzzled the detective for a moment, then brought back the interview of the afternoon. Yes, it was Bayard Alexander talking. It was hard luck that caused a crossing policeman to let the first automobile through and shut off the second.

It was the worst sort of luck that caused the special agent to arrive at the North side station just as the gate was slammed and made it necessary for him to produce credentials to get through. He was barely able to swing into the vestibule of a sleeper as the train was getting under way.

It was particularly hazardous from the standpoint of accomplishing the end he had in mind, for he did not even know if Alexander was aboard and faced the danger of having ridden away on the fastest train to New York and left his work behind him. Even if the man he was after was aboard [Pg 41] there was the chance that he had become aware of the chase and would take precaution to out-wit him.

But now there was no hurry. His man was or was not on the train and the porter told him there would be no stop for two hours. The special agent was still a good deal of a youngster with an appreciation of the dramatic and here was a situation that appealed to him. He wondered if he were riding into the dusk on a wild goose chase, or if he had cornered this fugitive master-crook, with a traveling bag containing half a million dollars of other peoples' money.

He pictured the man he was after—the suave, confident, stealthy cashier, who had stolen his hundreds of thousands and had, by the very force of him, compelled his subordinates to hide his shortcomings. He wondered if this man of action was expecting pursuit or if he was riding on in confidence of being able to make his escape. He thought of the satchel that the cashier carried and of his responsibility, as a Government agent, for safeguarding its contents.

It was something of an assignment for a youngster. Whereupon William H. Gard of the United States Department of Justice arose and went to the front of the train. From this point he worked steadily back, making sure that he saw every passenger, looking each over with sufficient scrutiny that a disguise would not have escaped him, making sure that the man he sought was in the portion of the train to the rear. It began to look as though he had actually boarded a train which the fugitive had failed to catch.

Dark was just coming on. It was that hour when most of the passengers on a train are to be found in the diner. It happened that this train was running light and now the sleepers were practically deserted but for the nodding porters. Through one after another of these the special agent passed until there remained only the observation car at the end.

It was here that he would find his quarry or prove himself outwitted. When he came into the observation car through the narrow hall that leads to it, a lounging figure by the door drew itself taut. Instinctively it put its hand to a traveling bag that rested on the next chair. Then it remained still. The cashier was, after all, surprised. He was not aware that he was being followed.

He sprang forward in his chair but met the glint of a pistol in the hand of the special agent. Oh, I see! The tall figure of the cashier had risen from its chair. To the traveling bag he clung instinctively. The situation seemed entirely in the control of the special agent with gun drawn and the retreat cut off. Yet, like a flash, the cashier turned the knob of the door that led out upon the rear platform of the observation car.

But with a leap he was after and upon the fugitive. He suspected the intent of the cashier to throw himself from the train, to end all in suicide. He saw the traveling bag getting beyond his reach. It was the last thing that would have appealed to him to stand idly by while such incidents were taking place.

The two men grappled. A new purpose flashed into the mind of the cashier. Here was he given an unexpected opportunity for freedom. Only the special agent stood in his way. If he could but drop this youngster over the rail, suicide would be unnecessary. A new purpose came into his tall, lithe form. It was to be put to the task of fighting for its own preservation. And such a setting for a fight! The clamor of the train beat into the blood of the contestants like the applause of an arena.

The swish of the platform as the express dashed through the darkness at seventy miles an hour made the ordinary strategy of battle uncertain. Beyond the narrow rail that skirted this [Pg 45] platform upon which their fight was staged death waited expectant on three sides. There were now no weapons and the contestants went back to the primal in a tooth and fang grapple for existence as might two frenzied bears at bay.

The cashier was the larger man and one who had always kept in condition through gymnasium work. The special agent was lither and younger. The larger man was determined that he would thrust the smaller over the rail and fling him from the train.

He fought his way to the edge of the platform, forcing his antagonist farther and farther over it, hammering him down by the sheer superiority of weight and strength. But all the time the special agent was playing to his own advantage. He was getting low beneath the guard of the cashier. His arms had found an iron lock beneath his antagonist's coat and about his waist. He felt that this hold could not be broken and that a time would come when the strength of the larger man would wane.

He could afford to wait. It was but a swish of the train that gave him the slight advantage he sought in taking the aggressive. It swayed the tall form of his [Pg 46] enemy as it towered above him a little backward. This put the spine in a position where it could not immediately resist a strong pressure. Already he had felt a give in the body muscles that meant the first approach of weakness.

Like a flash his head was in the tall man's chest, all his strength was in his arms, and he was administering that treatment known in his youth as the "Indian hug. From the fall came a new grip to the advantage of the special agent. As they went down he flung his legs around his antagonist, and was able to get the wrestler's "scissors" about his waist, thus applying pressure where there was already exhaustion and allowing his legs, which were rested, to bear the brunt.

Thus were they locked when the brakeman came to the rear and found them. But the battle was already near its end. For the flash of a moment the cashier rallied and acted. In that moment his hands seized and flung from the train the grip with its precious burden. Then he sank into unconsciousness. Billy Gard had ridden back to the section of the road where the traveling bag had gone overboard, and had waited for the coming of daylight to search for it. In the gray dawn he walked down the track and met an Irish section man, who had already picked it up.

The man who had found the traveling bag looked inside and, as far as Billy Gard knows, never spoke again. He was still dumb with amazement when the young man drove away in his automobile. It is here set down for the first time that Special Agent Billy Gard of the United States Department of Justice trod the deck of the good German ship Esmiranga and smoked many Mexican cigarettes on that historic morning in April, , when she approached the port of Vera Cruz, loaded to the gunwales with ammunition for the Huertistas, and precipitated the landing of American marines.

Also it was here first told that it was the hand of Billy Gard that lighted the match that ignited the powder that caused the explosion that kept Yankee fighting men in Mexico for many months and the big American sister republics on the verge of war.

For the action of the head of the government of a hundred million of people, the orders extended to the military, the [Pg 49] shuttling of battleships and transports, were based upon mysteriously received messages from this young representative of the United States, who through a combination of chance and design found himself strangely placed in the center of a web of circumstance. It had all started in a New York hotel six months before. It was not entirely out of keeping with what was to follow that a huge and bewhiskered Russian should have staged the prologue of what was later to assume something of the nature of an international farce.

But it was such a man, registering himself as G. Egeloff, pronouncing some of his indifferent English with the explosiveness of Russia and some of it with the lilting softness of Latin America, who created a scene in a Manhattan hotel and thus first introduced the whole matter. He had arrived but a moment before, dusty, disheveled, empty handed. The room clerk had suggested that it was the custom of the hotel that guests without baggage should pay in advance.

Then had come the explosion accompanied by oaths in four languages. The man with the whiskers called upon all to witness that this indignity had been placed upon [Pg 50] him, G. Egeloff, the representative of rulers of nations, the bearer of credentials, the possessor of enough money in his one vest pocket to buy the hotel in question and turn it into a barracks for his peons.

Whereupon he produced from the vest pocket in question a draft on the Mexican treasury for the neat sum of three million dollars in gold, signed by none other than Victoriano Huerta himself. At which signal the entire hotel staff salaamed profoundly, the man who swore was escorted to the best suite and the house detective telephoned to the special agents of the Department of Justice.

Billy Gard was forthwith sent out to determine the legitimacy of the mission of this strange representative of turbulent Mexico. He also knew that the Russian had called up from his hotel room certain manufacturers of munitions whose factories were in Hartford and that [Pg 51] representatives of those firms had visited him. Gard had drawn the conclusion that the Russian was buying ammunition for the Mexican government. Since the United States was denying clearance to ships with such cargoes destined to either faction to the controversy to the south, it was necessary that all the facts be ascertained.

But it developed that the strong current of the plans of the man from Mexico ran through Valentines, that outfitter of revolutionists and dealer in second-hand and out-of-date war material. Valentines based his operations upon the principle that the discarded munitions of progressive nations are plenty good enough for use in Latin-America and that the purchase of all such, no matter how antiquated, offers a good opportunity for profit. Hardly a warlike venture in the tumultuous lands to the south has run its course within recent years without leaning heavily upon Valentines.

Knowing this, Gard was particularly anxious to find out what was transpiring within when, on a murky Saturday night, he followed the Russian and three of his Mexican associates through the narrow lanes of the lower East [Pg 52] Side, beneath its clanging elevated, and to the side door of Valentines, within which they disappeared.

He had previously reconnoitered the surroundings. He knew that Valentines had taken great care in guarding the privacy of his establishment. The dark back room in which his conferences were held had but one entrance, which was from the main establishment. The area-way upon which its single window looked faced the wall of a printing house, broken by but three or four small windows, as is so often the case with these blank surfaces.

Gard had made note of the fact that one of these windows was opposite and above that in the back room of Valentines. He had gained admission to the printing house and had viewed the adjoining premises from this high window. A single possibility presented itself.

This was that Valentines might leave his curtain up and that Jane Gates might help with the case. Jane Gates occupied a warm spot in the hearts of the special agents and they were always particular that when they called upon her there was no possibility of unpleasant experiences, and the way seemed clear here. Her face was of a cameo beauty, with a touch of pathos because of her isolation. She was the warm spot in the heart of the office but, as its very spirit was the untangling of riddles, she had found opportunity to help in a novel way in several difficult cases through her ability at lip reading.

By prearrangement Jane Gates, on this Saturday night, was awaiting at the office not half a dozen blocks away a possible call from Billy Gard. Barrett had a taxi at the front door and the expected summons brought him to the publishing house in five minutes.

Beneath a light in the hall Gard told the deaf girl of the situation, for lip reading needs light. Soon they were in the gloom by the little window and the eager eyes of the Lily Maid were looking into the office opposite where the conference on munitions was going forward. Fortunately Valentines did not speak Spanish and an [Pg 54] interpreter was necessary. The face of this man was in plain view not thirty feet away.

Soon Jane Gates was repeating in the peculiar, hollow voice of those who do not hear but have learned to form words with the lips:. Gard stepped beyond the range of view from the opposite window. He turned a pocket flashlight on his own lips. We know how to evade embargo regulations. Valentines had been walking nervously about the room.

At this moment he approached the window and pulled down the curtain that looked into the courtyard. The work of the lip reader was at an end. It was a month later when Gard had traced a consignment of ammunition from the factory at Hartford to its place on a Brooklyn pier where it lay ready for shipment. It seemed the last of the American goods that were needed to complete the cargo of the Italian bark, City of Naples , that was ready to sail.

It appeared that papers had already been taken out, that the manifests acknowledged the presence of great quantities of war munitions, but that the claim was made that the cargo was bought for South Russian dealers and bound for Odessa. Gard hurriedly ascertained that the United States would not refuse permission for the ship to sail. It was, however, anxious to keep in touch with its movements. Could the special agent find a way to accompany her?

Gard would try. Half an hour later a young Italian strolled down the pier just as the last of the cargo was being taken aboard the City of Naples. He was dressed in a well-worn, light-checked, somewhat flashy suit, a scarlet vest, a flowing tie.

His dark locks breathed forth odors of the lotions of cheap barber shops. He walked [Pg 56] nonchalantly aboard the Italian bark and went below. The vessel was just breaking loose from her moorings when the stowaway was discovered. There had been great haste in her sailing and she was making for the seas two hours ahead of her appointed time.

The stowaway surmised that there was every reason why her officers would fear delay and that, if he could remain below decks until she was under way, the vessel would not be stopped to put him ashore. It was from this situation that an unequal fight developed in which three sailormen sought to drag an unwilling youngster in a plaid suit from the hold to the deck that he might be put off the ship.

But the first of the attacking force proved himself unfamiliar with the strategy of a lead with the left to make an opening for a swing with the right, and so this latter blow caught him on the chin and he went down and out. The second sailor was a squarehead and rushed his antagonist. The stowaway ducked and the force of the Swede increased the severity of a mighty jab with the right in the pit of [Pg 57] the stomach, which happened at the time to be unusually full, and the attacker crumbled with an agony in his inwards.

The stowaway grappled with the third man and showed an additional knowledge of the science of the rough and tumble. He twisted one of that individual's hands behind him and pushed it up, using the favorite jiu jitsu trick that American policemen have borrowed from the Japanese.

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The body whatever. Next day his old woman picked the buckshot out with a pocket knife because the doctor was afraid to go. Now Sam is as well as he ever was and he ain't changed his mind about the stills. Him and me reported two of them last week. This story was about in accordance with the information Gard received from Washington.

The murderers and those who attempted murder should be apprehended. As the wagon wound along the country road Todd called the special agent's attention to the report of a rifle from a hillside to the right. Soon another gun was discharged further ahead and a third still further on. This, the liveryman said, was a system of signals that told of their presence.

A little farther along the road wound into a hollow down which flowed a brook. Out of the brush in this hollow stepped the form of a mountaineer with a rifle across his arm. Todd drew up his team. The mountaineer walked around to the back of the wagon where Gard's little wicker grip was carried.

Without a word he opened the grip and carefully examined everything in it. You can't never tell whether you will git back when you start out with that skunk. It was three days later that Billy Gard, squirrel rifle on his shoulder, walked into the clearing about the house of Sam Lunsford, the man who had survived the charge of buckshot in the back of his head. The Lunsford house consisted of one log room with a lean-to addition at the back. There was a clearing of some thirty acres where grew a most indifferent sprinkling of corn and cotton.

There was a crib for the corn, a ramshackle wagon, a flea-bitten gray horse and some hogs running wild in the woods. Such was the Lunsford estate, presided over by this huge mountaineer and to which his eleven children were heir. Seldom did an echo of the outside world reach this home in the woods. Not a member of the family was able to read. Every Sunday Sam [Pg 8] Lunsford drove the flea-bitten gray or walked seven miles to a little mountain church where was preached a gospel of hellfire and brimstone.

He was hated by his neighbors and constantly in the shadow of death. Yet he went unswervingly on the way of his duty in accordance with his lights. Gard already had the measure of his man. No sooner had he presented himself than he put his business up to the mountaineer, "cold turkey," as the agents say when they lay all the cards on the table. Would Lunsford help the government in getting the facts that would bring the murderers of Tom Reynolds and the men who shot him to justice?

Lunsford would do all he could. The mountaineer placed the rocking chair in front of the fire directly between a hole in the window and a spot in the opposite wall where the buckshot had lodged themselves, [Pg 9] peppering up a surface two feet square. Thus was it easy to trace the flight of the shot through the room. The special agent examined both window pane and wall.

He led the way into the yard and there pointed out a stout peg which had been driven into the ground not a dozen feet from the window. The mountaineer had done so and had cut a stick just the length of the track. This stick had been carefully preserved.

Even this precaution was taken by Lunsford. These men of the mountains mostly load their own shells and the wads in this case had been made by cutting pieces out of a pasteboard box. So there were a number of clues at hand. Special Agent Billy Gard stood on the spot [Pg 10] from which the shot had been fired. From this point to that at which the buckshot had entered the wall of the cabin was not more than thirty feet.

The shot at that distance are all in a bunch not bigger than your fist. Yet the shot in the cabin wall were scattered. The man with the gun must have been further away. Gard stated this view of the matter to the mountaineer, but that individual showed how it would have been impossible for the shot to have been fired from a greater distance because there was a depression that would have placed the man with the gun too low down to see in at the window.

The shot could have been fired from but the one spot. The window pane through which the shot had passed was about half way between the peg and the wall where the charge had lodged. The hole in the window was not more than half as large as the wall surface peppered by the shot. This scatter of shot at such short range was significant. Here was a probable case of Ty Jones being the man guilty of the attempt on the life of Lunsford. There was a possibility, as Gard saw it, of getting this suspicion confirmed.

Despite the animosity that existed between the heads of the families, the Jones youngsters and the Lunsford youngsters were playmates; so does the sociability of youth break down the bars set up by maturity. Lunsford had a boy of ten who was wise with the cunning of the woods and trustworthy in lending a hand in the [Pg 12] feuds to which he was born.

This boy, in playing about the Jones household, was instructed to pick up every piece of pasteboard box he could find and bring those pieces home. Likewise was he to measure the shoes of the Jones household, when an opportunity offered, and tie knots in a string to indicate their length.

It was a week before this task had been completed by the boy, but the results indicated that the foot of a certain pair of shoes in the Jones home was like unto that of the man of the sawed-off shotgun. Scraps of cut-up shoe boxes had been found, white on one side and brown on the other, and from these had evidently been made wads for reloading shells.

Thus far was Special Agent Gard able to carry his case toward a solution. There were twenty men in the neighborhood who might have been implicated with Jones, if he were guilty, in this attempt and in the killing of Tom Reynolds. There were twenty and more makers of moonshine who had been reported or stood in danger. It was hard to determine which of the twenty were actually guilty. The suspicions against Jones were not evidence. After a month on the case Gard decided that a complete solution [Pg 13] of the mystery was possible only through working in with the moonshiners themselves and gaining their confidence.

So the summer boarder left the Tenney farm, stating that his health was greatly improved but that he would come back two months later for another stay. A week after this there was nailed up at every post office and court house within a hundred miles of Wheeler a notice of reward for an escaped convict. A short, stout, curly-headed young outlaw had broken jail in South Carolina and when last heard of was bearing in this direction.

Fifty dollars reward would be paid for his capture. His picture appeared with the notice. After still another week the Jones children were playing in the woods back of their house when a strange man called them from a distance. The youngsters approached cautiously. The man was no less cautious. He was a short curly-headed young fellow with a stubby beard, with his clothing in shreds and very dirty.

He looked as though he had slept in the woods for a month. There were stripes across an under garment that showed through his open shirt. You have demonstrated a hypothesis, confirmed a rumor, hit upon a great truth, sleuthed a primal fact to its lair. The plain truth is that I haven't had anything to eat in so long that I have forgotten my last meal.

I am the hungriest man in the world. I could eat tacks with a spoon. I have been lost in the woods and without food. Jones incisively, she who had spent a life in those mountains where the [Pg 15] sympathy was all with the man whose hand was turned against authority and where many fugitives from the law had found refuge.

Back of that there was the little matter of cracking a safe. Other than that I assure you my conduct has been of the best. So engaging was the manner of this young man of the rags from the great world beyond the mountains that Mrs. Jones immediately liked him. He was a perfect cataract of words and talked incessantly. She was not able to understand half he said but was pleased with all of it. He ran on glibly but always stopped short of being smart in the sense that would call forth dislike.

All the time he was eating corn bread and bacon with the relish of one who has long omitted the formality of dining. Such was the introduction of Special Agent A. For all these situations Dowling had a stream of talk that never failed to amuse and disarm.

Billy Gard had asked the department for his help on the moonshiners' case and Dowling had fallen into the plan with all the enthusiasm of adventurous youth. The features of the jail breaker for whom the reward was offered were those of Dowling. So had preparation been made for his coming. Gard had laid his plans with an understanding of the habits of the mountaineer to hide the fugitive.

He had figured that such a fugitive might get into the confidence of those iron men of few words and filch from them their secrets. With the right culprits behind the bars the backbone of this defiance of the law might be broken. Dowling's stream of talk won the friendship of Ty Jones and his sons as it had won his wife. The fugitive was tucked away in the hills and fed by the mountaineers.

He came to know the intimates of the Jones family and his stream of [Pg 17] talk entertained them for days and weeks. He hibernated with others of his kind for he found the hills full of men in hiding. He became a visitor at many a cabin and eventually struck the rock that responded to his confidence. A young mountaineer named Ed Hill maintained an active still high up in the mountains—a virgin still that had never known the desecration of a raid.

Hill was high spirited and companionable, unlike most of his neighbors. His was the soul of a poet, a lover of the wilds, a patriot of the mountains. The flame of adventure, the love of danger, the belief in the individual rights of the mountaineer, made him a moving spirit among the men who battled the government. Ed Hill told the fugitive the whole story of the killing of Tom Reynolds and the shooting of Sam Lunsford.

He told of the determination to rid the mountains of Todd, the livery stable man, and to preserve for the men of the Cumberlands the right to do as they chose in their own retreats. It seemed that of all the men of the mountains who made moonshine whisky, there were but four who were willing to go the limit of [Pg 18] spilling the blood of their fellows in resisting the law. Hill was one of these and saw his acts as those of the man who fights for his country. Ty Jones, contrary to the suspicions of Sam Lunsford, always advised against violence.

But Jones had a boy of eighteen, a heavy-faced, dull-witted lad, who was possessed of the desire to kill, to be known among his fellows as a bad man. This younger Jones it was who had aimed his father's sawed-off shotgun at Sam Lunsford as that hulking figure of a man swayed back and forth as he rocked the baby that suffered from colic.

The patriot Hill, Will Jones the born murderer, a father and son by the name of Hinton, had been the murderers of Tom Reynolds. There were no others who would go so far as to kill to avenge their fancied grievances. The summer was dragging to its close as the conversational special agent got his information together. The yellow was stealing into the trees of the hillsides when Billy Gard, he whose health had been broken behind the ribbon counter, came back to Tenney's for another few weeks in the open.

He wandered into the woods and met the fugitive from the South Carolina [Pg 19] jail. The jail bird and the ribbon counter clerk talked long together and when they parted the plans were laid for the nipping off of the men who would murder for their stills. It was a week later and the quiet of after-midnight rested upon the little mountain town of Wheeler. In such towns there are no all-night industries, no street cars to drone through deserted thoroughfares, not even an arc light to sputter at street crossings.

There is but the occasional stamping of a horse in its stall or the baying of a watch dog in answer to the howl of a wolf on the hillside. But murder was planned to take place that night in Wheeler and A. Spaulding Dowling knew all about it. As the town slept four stealthy figures crept down the trail that cuts across the point of the Hunchback. Soft-footedly, rifles in hand, they passed down a side street beneath the dense shade of giant sycamores.

It was but three blocks from the woods to Main street. Reaching this artery of the town, two of the men crouched in the shadow while two others crossed the street and went a block further, turning to the left. Each group then shifted itself a hundred feet to the left and paused again. So stationed the four men found themselves in front and back of Todd's livery stable. The building itself sat back a little from the street. On the ground floor were the stalls for the horses and the sheds where the wagons were stored.

Overhead were bins of corn and hay and a living room where Todd slept that he might always be near his teams. About the whole was a roomy barnyard enclosed by a high board fence. The gates to the outer enclosure were locked, but once past this wall a man would have the run of the whole place. The mountaineers, two in front and two in the rear of the building, swung themselves to the top of the fence and leaped to the ground inside. Rifles at hip they started to close in on the building.

Each party entered at opposite ends of the corridor down the middle through which a wagon might drive. Nothing interfered with their progress and no sound was heard except a sleeping horse occasionally changing feet on the board floor of his stall. Stealthily the four figures gathered in a cluster and turned up the steep stairway that led to the sleeping room of Todd.

With every rifle ready for action they pushed open the door. Deliberately the four rifles came to bear upon it. There was a pause and then from the leader came the order:. Every finger pressed the trigger of its rifle. Every hammer came down on its cap. But no report followed. Not a gun had been discharged.

The men in the room looked puzzled, one at the other, and then at the form on the bed. They approached the latter and found it to be but a dummy to represent Todd. They had been trapped. They would fight their way out. The mountaineers charged down the stairway. As they came into the moonlight at the opening of the barn they faced the tall form of a man they knew well, the United States marshal of the district.

With no gun in his hands the marshal raised his hands on high. You are trapped. There are armed men at every corner of this building and every man who runs out of it will be shot dead. Your powder has been wet and none of you can fire a shot. You can't fight armed men. There is but one thing for you to do and that is to surrender. In the parley that followed the marshal asked each man to try his gun to see if it could be fired.

None would respond. The mountaineers found themselves caught in the very act of attempting to kill Todd, whom they had often threatened. They had been duped and trapped. So had these young detectives of the new school worked out a most difficult case and one which later proved, in the courts, to be effective, for every man arrested is now serving a long term in prison and the backbone of the defiance of law in this region is broken.

Summer Boarder," said the curly-haired Dowling, "it is back to the ribbon counter for you. Your little vacation is over. But I will say that you have shown remarkable intelligence in this matter. You called me in to help you. Little drops of water put in just the [Pg 23] right place saved all your lives. These mountaineers would have eaten you up if I hadn't fixed their ammunition. Please thank me—". Billy Gard was not thinking of business at all. As a healthy, ultranormal young man, he was drowsing over his breakfast as one has a way of doing when at peace with the world and when unaroused by any call of the present.

He had reached the rolls and coffee stage of his meal in a spirit of detachment that took no account of the somewhat garish flashiness of the hotel dining-room in this typical hostelry of a city that had become noted as a maker of industrial millionaires. Then as his glance idly trailed among the other breakfasters, it automatically picked up an incident that flashed a light into his dormant brain and brought it to full consciousness.

A spoon had started from a grape fruit to the mouth of the tall, curly-haired man two tables away. Half way on its journey the hand which held it had twitched violently and spilled [Pg 25] most of the contents. The brown eyes of the man stole out somewhat furtively to learn if anybody had noticed his nervousness. Special Agent Billy Gard now gazed at the ceiling, but his mind was busy. It was running over the facts that it contained with relation to Bayard Alexander, who was this morning not himself and apprehensive lest the fact be noticed.

For Alexander was of the class of men of whom it was his business to know. He was cashier of the Second National bank and Uncle Sam keeps a pretty close watch on such institutions when they happen to be located in communities of feverish activity. So the special agent recalled that the tall man with the damp curls was a moving spirit in the city, an important instrument in its development, a man of many philanthropies, personal friend of a United States Senator, cashier and active head of one of the most powerful financial institutions in the community.

He was a man of very great energy, but one who led a normal, wholesome life and who, at the age of forty-five, seemed just coming into his stride. The bank examiner, Gard recalled, had steadily given the Second National a clean bill of health. Why, then, should Alexander be nervous and, granting him that privilege, why should he fear its being noticed? All of which was the seemingly illogical reason why Gard went to Wheeling that very night and was not seen about the metropolis for a week thereafter.

I am on my way to the city of opportunity looking for a job. You are to convert me from a dweller in gilded palaces to a bank bookkeeper out of work, but with credentials. You introduce me to the cashier, he finds out what a really [Pg 27] good fellow I am, we become friends.

He gives me a letter of introduction to the man I want to meet. I return to the city and thrust myself properly into the affairs of one Sloan, bookkeeper for the Second National. The next time the corpulent examiner comes around he gets the surprise of his life. Do you follow me? Billy Gard had reached the conclusion that, if there was anything wrong with Bayard Alexander's bank the examiner was being deceived and that, therefore, there must be a juggling of accounts.

Bookkeeper Charley Sloan of the individual ledgers occupied the post most likely to be used for deception, and so the special agent was taking a lot of trouble to make the right opportunity for getting friendly with Charley. That mild little man was therefore favorably impressed when he was handed a letter from his former associate who had gone to Wheeling and become a cashier. The two visited so agreeably together that a friendship developed and Gard came to live at the bookkeeper's boarding house.

The two accountants grew to spend many evenings together and naturally talked shop. Next to him was a bookkeeper who went wrong. He was induced to do this by a depositor who had a scheme for making them both rich. All the depositor needed was a little money. So he proposed that he draw checks against the bank and that the bookkeeper charge them temporarily to other accounts. The depositor would cash the checks at other banks and, when they came in, the teller would merely turn them over to the bookkeeper, probably asking if there was money to meet them.

There was no record of it except in the pass books. He got nearly all the money that came in for two months before he was found out. The accounts balance for the examiner. I'll bet there isn't one bank in a dozen that doesn't fool the examiner. The bookkeeper colored to his temples and was noticeably confused at the question. Then he said he had heard of its being done. The sleuth would have sworn he had led the bookkeeper into a confession.

Nothing was more natural than that these two bank bookkeepers should recur occasionally to the possibility of so arranging accounts that were in questionable condition that they would be passed by the examiner. Gard would lead to this in such a way that the bookkeeper would seem to have begun these discussions.

Then he would talk freely. He would tell so many stories that the timid Sloan would want to relate a few in furnishing his part of the [Pg 30] entertainment. But Gard knew that the bookkeeper was a man without imagination and that he could relate only what had happened in his experience.

So he was all ears when Sloan one night gave his opinions on the subject of kiting. A depositor may turn in a check for a thousand dollars, drawn on a New York bank where he has no money. At the same time he sends the New York bank a check for the same amount, drawn on you. This causes the New York bank to honor the check drawn against it. The check drawn on you has to find its way through the clearing house and it will be a week before it gets back.

In the meantime the depositor has had the use of a thousand dollars. The messenger gets the whole amount in cash. It appears [Pg 31] as an asset of the bank. It will be two or three days before the check will come back through the clearing house and appear as a liability, or the friendly bank may hold it up even longer.

The banks may be swapping this sort of favors. The bank examiner does not know of the outstanding check. He is out of town before it appears. Special Agent Billy Gard was again practically certain that he had here been told a chapter out of the experience of the Second National. He began to see his way clear to a denouement. That same night events were transpiring of which he was to know a week later but which as yet were held in confidence among the directors of the Second National.

They took place at a meeting of these same directors called by a minority which was dissatisfied with certain features of its management. Director Hinton, a sprightly and quick-tempered little man, was the leader of the revolt. Senator Bothdoldt was present as a supporter of the management of the bank as represented by the suave, forceful cashier, Bayard Alexander, whose hand sometimes shook at breakfast. It has been three years now that we have been pouring out our money to these people.

It is time to call a halt. Hinton, "have reached the point where I insist on a new management. I would like to know the sentiment of the board upon this question. But the cashier asked for a word of explanation. Broad-shouldered and upstanding he rose among these heavy, sleek, bald-headed business men.

His high and intellectual brow and clear-cut features gave him a distinction that always made an impression. But the firm mouth and the damp curls were those of a man [Pg 33] of physical force and determination. His voice was alluring and convincing as he made his plea and there was now no tremble of the hand. He stated and called upon Senator Bothdoldt to witness that the McGrath Construction Company had just received from the Government contracts for the building of numerous locks in the Ohio River.

He agreed with the spirit of conservatism of the board and shared it. He had heard the rumors with relation to the Oldman Mercantile Company and had sifted them to their depths and had found them without basis in fact. However, he had just called in a block of their notes. He painted a rosy picture of the condition of the bank and the prospects of the future. He reminded the directors that they had given him a free hand in the past and pointed to the institution as a monument to his accomplishment.

At the termination of which speech, so convincing and so dominant was the personality of the man, Director Hinton withdrew his protest and the institution was left under the former guidance. It was three days later that things began to happen. Gard had called upon Bank Examiner Allen to come to his assistance. The two of [Pg 34] them had conferred the night before and settled upon a plan of campaign for testing the stability of the affairs of the bank.

It was in accordance with this plan that the rotund and genial Allen breakfasted in that dining-room where the special agent's suspicions had first been aroused. Bayard Alexander was at his usual table and Allen allowed the banker to see him although he appeared not to be aware of it. It was also in accordance with the cards played by the men of the Government service that Special Agent Gard, still a bit seedy in his hand-me-down suit, was loafing on the sidewalk opposite the Second National bank when the cashier came to work.

It was a part of his plan that he should see as much as possible of what went on in the institution when the word was passed that the examiner was in town. Gard was not surprised, therefore, when a messenger emerged from the bank and hurried off down the street. He believed that the story of the bookkeeper of the kiting bank was to be enacted before his eyes.

He followed the messenger to another bank two blocks away and [Pg 35] there saw him present a check. Gard crowded in on the pretense of getting a bill changed and saw blocks of bills of large denominations being taken from the vault. The messenger hurried back to the bank with them. It was evident that that institution was making ready for the coming of the examiner. It was as evident that its affairs were not as they should be or this preparation would not be necessary.

It was a part of the program that when Sloan, the bookkeeper, came out of the bank for lunch, Gard should be waiting for him. It was not unusual that they thus went to their noonday meal together. It is a large photograph, rolled, that I have just received from home. Please be careful of it. The special agent assumed charge of the package which looked not unlike a roll of music.

Later he found his suspicions justified for in the roll were a number of leaves from the bank's individual ledger. Gard was appalled at the [Pg 36] amount of money that they represented. He carefully photographed them and returned them that night to the bookkeeper. No pretext was omitted for getting a look into what was transpiring in the Second National bank on this particular day. Examiner Allen had called in the afternoon and had carefully looked over the balances. All appeared to be in order and no discrepancies were revealed.

The bank seemed particularly strong from the standpoint of cash on hand. It was just at closing time that two things happened. Gard presented himself at the Second National and asked to see the cashier. He had become known there as an associate of Sloan's.

He was looking for a position as bookkeeper and it was for this he came. He waited. It often happens that an individual may wander unannounced into quarters the privacy of which are ordinarily closely guarded. Gard found the door open that led into the corridor off of which were to be found the offices of the officials of the bank. He walked in and wandered down the row until he found that of the cashier. This he entered and found [Pg 37] entirely empty. It was a spacious room with a big, flat-topped desk.

Across one corner of this was thrown a coat, and a hat rested upon it. An open traveling bag stood on the table. The special agent, by leaning on the table in the attitude of waiting, could look into the bag. There he saw a package of what he recognized as a well-known issue of industrial bonds which the examiner had listed as one of the chief assets of the bank.

It should have been in the bank's vaults, instead of which it was in the cashier's traveling bag. This was a discovery well worth consideration. Cashier Alexander entered the room hurriedly from another part of the bank. He was visibly startled to find some one present and demanded bruskly what the intruder was doing there. The special agent took his dismissal. He had learned that the bank cashier was going away and that he was taking a package of the bank's most valuable securities with him.

He was going some distance for the trip was to last three days. His destination was probably New York. Meantime the genial examiner had rolled in upon the bank to which the Second National had sent its messenger, at about closing time. He had asked to see the transactions of the day.

Among these was found the record of the check that had been cashed early in the morning. The time has come for his arrest. Particularly must we guard those assets and prevent any unnecessary demands upon the bank. You try for his trail about town and report to me there. But after all it was a piece of luck that saved the day for Gard. He was racing for the station in a taxicab when his machine was halted at a crossing. Another taxicab pulled up beside his, waited a minute, two minutes.

He could see the driver from where that individual sat not six feet away and just opposite his window. Presently this chauffeur bent down to get instructions from his fare. The man in the taxicab was talking quietly, but so near was he to the special agent that he could be easily overheard.

We have already missed the If you head it off at the North side it is worth a twenty-dollar bill to you. The voice was smooth and unruffled. Yet it was dominant. It set the driver immediately upon edge and into motion. And there was in it a familiar note that puzzled the detective for a moment, then brought back the interview of the afternoon.

Yes, it was Bayard Alexander talking. It was hard luck that caused a crossing policeman to let the first automobile through and shut off the second. It was the worst sort of luck that caused the special agent to arrive at the North side station just as the gate was slammed and made it necessary for him to produce credentials to get through. He was barely able to swing into the vestibule of a sleeper as the train was getting under way.

It was particularly hazardous from the standpoint of accomplishing the end he had in mind, for he did not even know if Alexander was aboard and faced the danger of having ridden away on the fastest train to New York and left his work behind him. Even if the man he was after was aboard [Pg 41] there was the chance that he had become aware of the chase and would take precaution to out-wit him.

But now there was no hurry. His man was or was not on the train and the porter told him there would be no stop for two hours. The special agent was still a good deal of a youngster with an appreciation of the dramatic and here was a situation that appealed to him.

He wondered if he were riding into the dusk on a wild goose chase, or if he had cornered this fugitive master-crook, with a traveling bag containing half a million dollars of other peoples' money. He pictured the man he was after—the suave, confident, stealthy cashier, who had stolen his hundreds of thousands and had, by the very force of him, compelled his subordinates to hide his shortcomings.

He wondered if this man of action was expecting pursuit or if he was riding on in confidence of being able to make his escape. He thought of the satchel that the cashier carried and of his responsibility, as a Government agent, for safeguarding its contents. It was something of an assignment for a youngster. Whereupon William H. Gard of the United States Department of Justice arose and went to the front of the train. From this point he worked steadily back, making sure that he saw every passenger, looking each over with sufficient scrutiny that a disguise would not have escaped him, making sure that the man he sought was in the portion of the train to the rear.

It began to look as though he had actually boarded a train which the fugitive had failed to catch. Dark was just coming on. It was that hour when most of the passengers on a train are to be found in the diner. It happened that this train was running light and now the sleepers were practically deserted but for the nodding porters.

Through one after another of these the special agent passed until there remained only the observation car at the end. It was here that he would find his quarry or prove himself outwitted. When he came into the observation car through the narrow hall that leads to it, a lounging figure by the door drew itself taut.

Instinctively it put its hand to a traveling bag that rested on the next chair. Then it remained still. The cashier was, after all, surprised. He was not aware that he was being followed. He sprang forward in his chair but met the glint of a pistol in the hand of the special agent. Oh, I see! The tall figure of the cashier had risen from its chair. To the traveling bag he clung instinctively. The situation seemed entirely in the control of the special agent with gun drawn and the retreat cut off.

Yet, like a flash, the cashier turned the knob of the door that led out upon the rear platform of the observation car. But with a leap he was after and upon the fugitive. He suspected the intent of the cashier to throw himself from the train, to end all in suicide.

He saw the traveling bag getting beyond his reach. It was the last thing that would have appealed to him to stand idly by while such incidents were taking place. The two men grappled. A new purpose flashed into the mind of the cashier. Here was he given an unexpected opportunity for freedom. Only the special agent stood in his way. If he could but drop this youngster over the rail, suicide would be unnecessary.

A new purpose came into his tall, lithe form. It was to be put to the task of fighting for its own preservation. And such a setting for a fight! The clamor of the train beat into the blood of the contestants like the applause of an arena. The swish of the platform as the express dashed through the darkness at seventy miles an hour made the ordinary strategy of battle uncertain.

Beyond the narrow rail that skirted this [Pg 45] platform upon which their fight was staged death waited expectant on three sides. There were now no weapons and the contestants went back to the primal in a tooth and fang grapple for existence as might two frenzied bears at bay. The cashier was the larger man and one who had always kept in condition through gymnasium work. The special agent was lither and younger. The larger man was determined that he would thrust the smaller over the rail and fling him from the train.

He fought his way to the edge of the platform, forcing his antagonist farther and farther over it, hammering him down by the sheer superiority of weight and strength. But all the time the special agent was playing to his own advantage. He was getting low beneath the guard of the cashier. His arms had found an iron lock beneath his antagonist's coat and about his waist.

He felt that this hold could not be broken and that a time would come when the strength of the larger man would wane. He could afford to wait. It was but a swish of the train that gave him the slight advantage he sought in taking the aggressive. It swayed the tall form of his [Pg 46] enemy as it towered above him a little backward.

This put the spine in a position where it could not immediately resist a strong pressure. Already he had felt a give in the body muscles that meant the first approach of weakness. Like a flash his head was in the tall man's chest, all his strength was in his arms, and he was administering that treatment known in his youth as the "Indian hug. From the fall came a new grip to the advantage of the special agent.

As they went down he flung his legs around his antagonist, and was able to get the wrestler's "scissors" about his waist, thus applying pressure where there was already exhaustion and allowing his legs, which were rested, to bear the brunt. Thus were they locked when the brakeman came to the rear and found them. But the battle was already near its end.

For the flash of a moment the cashier rallied and acted. In that moment his hands seized and flung from the train the grip with its precious burden. Then he sank into unconsciousness. Billy Gard had ridden back to the section of the road where the traveling bag had gone overboard, and had waited for the coming of daylight to search for it. In the gray dawn he walked down the track and met an Irish section man, who had already picked it up. The man who had found the traveling bag looked inside and, as far as Billy Gard knows, never spoke again.

He was still dumb with amazement when the young man drove away in his automobile. It is here set down for the first time that Special Agent Billy Gard of the United States Department of Justice trod the deck of the good German ship Esmiranga and smoked many Mexican cigarettes on that historic morning in April, , when she approached the port of Vera Cruz, loaded to the gunwales with ammunition for the Huertistas, and precipitated the landing of American marines.

Also it was here first told that it was the hand of Billy Gard that lighted the match that ignited the powder that caused the explosion that kept Yankee fighting men in Mexico for many months and the big American sister republics on the verge of war. For the action of the head of the government of a hundred million of people, the orders extended to the military, the [Pg 49] shuttling of battleships and transports, were based upon mysteriously received messages from this young representative of the United States, who through a combination of chance and design found himself strangely placed in the center of a web of circumstance.

It had all started in a New York hotel six months before. It was not entirely out of keeping with what was to follow that a huge and bewhiskered Russian should have staged the prologue of what was later to assume something of the nature of an international farce. But it was such a man, registering himself as G. Egeloff, pronouncing some of his indifferent English with the explosiveness of Russia and some of it with the lilting softness of Latin America, who created a scene in a Manhattan hotel and thus first introduced the whole matter.

He had arrived but a moment before, dusty, disheveled, empty handed. The room clerk had suggested that it was the custom of the hotel that guests without baggage should pay in advance. Then had come the explosion accompanied by oaths in four languages. The man with the whiskers called upon all to witness that this indignity had been placed upon [Pg 50] him, G. Egeloff, the representative of rulers of nations, the bearer of credentials, the possessor of enough money in his one vest pocket to buy the hotel in question and turn it into a barracks for his peons.

Whereupon he produced from the vest pocket in question a draft on the Mexican treasury for the neat sum of three million dollars in gold, signed by none other than Victoriano Huerta himself. At which signal the entire hotel staff salaamed profoundly, the man who swore was escorted to the best suite and the house detective telephoned to the special agents of the Department of Justice.

Billy Gard was forthwith sent out to determine the legitimacy of the mission of this strange representative of turbulent Mexico. He also knew that the Russian had called up from his hotel room certain manufacturers of munitions whose factories were in Hartford and that [Pg 51] representatives of those firms had visited him. Gard had drawn the conclusion that the Russian was buying ammunition for the Mexican government.

Since the United States was denying clearance to ships with such cargoes destined to either faction to the controversy to the south, it was necessary that all the facts be ascertained. But it developed that the strong current of the plans of the man from Mexico ran through Valentines, that outfitter of revolutionists and dealer in second-hand and out-of-date war material. Valentines based his operations upon the principle that the discarded munitions of progressive nations are plenty good enough for use in Latin-America and that the purchase of all such, no matter how antiquated, offers a good opportunity for profit.

Hardly a warlike venture in the tumultuous lands to the south has run its course within recent years without leaning heavily upon Valentines. Knowing this, Gard was particularly anxious to find out what was transpiring within when, on a murky Saturday night, he followed the Russian and three of his Mexican associates through the narrow lanes of the lower East [Pg 52] Side, beneath its clanging elevated, and to the side door of Valentines, within which they disappeared.

He had previously reconnoitered the surroundings. He knew that Valentines had taken great care in guarding the privacy of his establishment. The dark back room in which his conferences were held had but one entrance, which was from the main establishment. The area-way upon which its single window looked faced the wall of a printing house, broken by but three or four small windows, as is so often the case with these blank surfaces. Gard had made note of the fact that one of these windows was opposite and above that in the back room of Valentines.

He had gained admission to the printing house and had viewed the adjoining premises from this high window. A single possibility presented itself. This was that Valentines might leave his curtain up and that Jane Gates might help with the case. Jane Gates occupied a warm spot in the hearts of the special agents and they were always particular that when they called upon her there was no possibility of unpleasant experiences, and the way seemed clear here.

Her face was of a cameo beauty, with a touch of pathos because of her isolation. She was the warm spot in the heart of the office but, as its very spirit was the untangling of riddles, she had found opportunity to help in a novel way in several difficult cases through her ability at lip reading.

By prearrangement Jane Gates, on this Saturday night, was awaiting at the office not half a dozen blocks away a possible call from Billy Gard. Barrett had a taxi at the front door and the expected summons brought him to the publishing house in five minutes. Beneath a light in the hall Gard told the deaf girl of the situation, for lip reading needs light.

Soon they were in the gloom by the little window and the eager eyes of the Lily Maid were looking into the office opposite where the conference on munitions was going forward. Fortunately Valentines did not speak Spanish and an [Pg 54] interpreter was necessary. The face of this man was in plain view not thirty feet away. Soon Jane Gates was repeating in the peculiar, hollow voice of those who do not hear but have learned to form words with the lips:.

Gard stepped beyond the range of view from the opposite window. He turned a pocket flashlight on his own lips. We know how to evade embargo regulations. Valentines had been walking nervously about the room. At this moment he approached the window and pulled down the curtain that looked into the courtyard. The work of the lip reader was at an end. It was a month later when Gard had traced a consignment of ammunition from the factory at Hartford to its place on a Brooklyn pier where it lay ready for shipment.

It seemed the last of the American goods that were needed to complete the cargo of the Italian bark, City of Naples , that was ready to sail. It appeared that papers had already been taken out, that the manifests acknowledged the presence of great quantities of war munitions, but that the claim was made that the cargo was bought for South Russian dealers and bound for Odessa. Gard hurriedly ascertained that the United States would not refuse permission for the ship to sail.

It was, however, anxious to keep in touch with its movements. Could the special agent find a way to accompany her? Gard would try. Half an hour later a young Italian strolled down the pier just as the last of the cargo was being taken aboard the City of Naples. He was dressed in a well-worn, light-checked, somewhat flashy suit, a scarlet vest, a flowing tie. His dark locks breathed forth odors of the lotions of cheap barber shops. He walked [Pg 56] nonchalantly aboard the Italian bark and went below.

The vessel was just breaking loose from her moorings when the stowaway was discovered. There had been great haste in her sailing and she was making for the seas two hours ahead of her appointed time. The stowaway surmised that there was every reason why her officers would fear delay and that, if he could remain below decks until she was under way, the vessel would not be stopped to put him ashore. It was from this situation that an unequal fight developed in which three sailormen sought to drag an unwilling youngster in a plaid suit from the hold to the deck that he might be put off the ship.

But the first of the attacking force proved himself unfamiliar with the strategy of a lead with the left to make an opening for a swing with the right, and so this latter blow caught him on the chin and he went down and out.

The second sailor was a squarehead and rushed his antagonist. The stowaway ducked and the force of the Swede increased the severity of a mighty jab with the right in the pit of [Pg 57] the stomach, which happened at the time to be unusually full, and the attacker crumbled with an agony in his inwards. The stowaway grappled with the third man and showed an additional knowledge of the science of the rough and tumble.

He twisted one of that individual's hands behind him and pushed it up, using the favorite jiu jitsu trick that American policemen have borrowed from the Japanese. In this way he had his man at his mercy. The stowaway looked up and saw the huge form of the bearded Russian who represented the government of Mexico standing there. It should be remembered that Billy Gard, for it was he, had lived abroad when a boy with his father who was in the consular service.

He had learned the languages of the Mediterranean almost before he spoke English and was therefore much at home among its people. And [Pg 58] because of this he had been able to become an Italian stowaway in half an hour at a second-hand store in Brooklyn. They would put me ashore. I not go.

You see the result. You may come on deck with me. It happened in this way that Billy Gard went to sea with a large cargo of Mexican ammunition, little believing that it would ever cross to Europe. Since he was aboard and might not be otherwise disposed of, the Italian captain set him to work as a clerk, and got much good service out of him on the ship's books before land was again sighted.

It happened in this way, also, that he was given an opportunity to study and cultivate G. Egeloff, but little came of it because of the all-sufficiency of that gentleman within himself. Gard was greatly surprised when the [Pg 59] City of Naples maintained her course straight across the Atlantic. Even more surprised was he when she passed in at Gibraltar, ignored the ports of Spain, sailed past the towns of her nativity in Italy and on to the east.

Not until the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus were passed was he convinced that she was bound for the port for which she had cleared. But after six weeks at sea she reached Odessa, on the Black Sea, and there put into port. But at Odessa the unexpected happened. The authorities, being by temperament suspicious and ever-vigilant of anarchistic plots, refused to let the ship unload her cargo of ammunition.

Egeloff stormed and swore and bribed, but all to no avail. The ammunition might not be landed. Billy Gard managed to get ashore and find his way to the American consulate. From there he was able to make his report to the home office and receive instructions that he was to remain with the ammunition cargo. The special agent found his task comparatively easy here, and merely had to wait for events to take their normal course. His chief interest was G. Egeloff, who had remained a [Pg 60] mystery to him despite a semi-friendship that had slowly grown up between them.

He had attempted in vain to lead the Russian into a discussion of his future plans in Mexico, and had grown to suspect that the gentleman had no such plans. At Odessa the big man seemed impatient of delay, and, Gard thought, rather reckless of the disposition of his charge. The special agent was still attached to the City of Naples as clerk when, after ten days of futile attempts at landing her cargo, she again turned her nose to the sea.

She was two days out when he became assured of a fact which he had suspected. The Russian was not aboard. At Hamburg there was assurance of ability to discharge cargo. No sooner had the ship tied up than its long-restrained personnel of officers and crew availed themselves of the freedom of shore leave. As the afternoon wore on, the vessel was deserted with the exception of the Italian second mate and a few members of the crew. Gard stuck to his desk in the purser's cabin.

It was from this point of vantage that he became aware of an altercation on deck. An American voice was saying in English:. The second mate protested his inability to speak English, whereupon a second voice repeated the request in Spanish, with no better result. Then of a sudden a great light seemed to break on the second mate.

Whereupon he led the strangers to the cabin, [Pg 62] where he knew Gard to be at work, and, remembering that the supposed clerk spoke many languages, he turned the visitors over to him. The special agent was taken entirely by surprise.

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