I stopped I dare not say concluded, where there was
no conclusion I found Jim and Mamie regarding me
" Well ? " said Jim.
"Well, that's all," said I.
" But how do you explain it ? " he asked.
" I can't explain it," said I.
Mamie wagged her head ominously.
CROSS-QUESTIONS AND CROOKED ANSWERS. 361
" But, great Caesar's ghost ! the money was offered ! "
cried Jim. "It won't do, Loudon; it's nonsense, on
the face of it ! I don't say but what you and Nares
did your best ; I'm sure, of course, you did ; but I do
say, you got fooled. I say the stuff is in that ship
to-day, and I say I mean to get it."
"There is nothing in the ship, I tell you, but old
wood and iron ! " said I.
"You'll see," said Jim. "Next time I go myselt
I'll take Mamie for the trip; Longhurst won't refuse
me the expense of a schooner. You wait till I get the
searching of her."
" But you can't search her !" cried I. " She's burned."
"Burned!" cried Mamie, starting a little from the
attitude of quiescent capacity in which she had hitherto
sat to hear me, her hands folc )d in her lap.
There was an appreciable pause.
"I beg your pardon, Loudon," began Jim at last,
"but why in snakes did you burn her ? "
" It was an idea of Nares's," said I.
"This is certainly the strangest circumstance of all,"
"I must say, Loudon, it does seem kind of unex-
pected," added Jim. "It seems kind of crazy even.
What did you what did Nares expect to gain by
burning her ? "
" I don't know ; it didn't seem to matter ; we had got
all there was to get," said L
362 THE WRECKER.
"That's the very point," cried Jim. "It was quite
plain you hadn't."
" What made you so sure ? " asked Mamie.
" How can I tell you ? " I cried. " We had been all
through her. We were sure ; that's all that I can say."
"I begin to think you were," she returned, with a
Jim hurriedly intervened. " What I don't quite make
out, Loudon, is that you don't seem to appreciate the
peculiarities of the thing," said he. "It doesn't seem
to have struck you same as it does me."
" Pshaw ! why go on with this ? " cried Mamie, sud-
denly rising. " Mr. Dodd is not telling us either what
he thinks or what he knows."
" Mamie ! " cried Jim.
" You need not be concerned for his feelings, James ;
he is not concerned for yours," returned the lady. " He
dare not deny it, besides. And this is not the first
time he has practised reticence. Have you forgotten
that he knew the address, and did not tell it you until
that man had escaped ? "
Jim turned to me pleadingly ; we were all on our feet.
"Loudon," he said, "you see Mamie has some fancy;
and I must say there's just a sort of a shadow of an
excuse; for it is bewildering even to me, Loudon,
with my trained business intelligence. For God's sake,
clear it up."
This serves me right," said I. "I should not have
CROSS-QUESTIONS AND CROOKED ANSWERS. 363
tried to keep you in the dark ; I should have told you
at first that I was pledged to secrecy; I should have
asked you to trust me in the beginning. It is all I can
do now. There is more of the story, but it concerns
none of us, and my tongue is tied. I have given my
word of honour. You must trust me and try to forgive
"I daresay I am very stupid, Mr. Dodd," begun
Mamie, with an alarming sweetness, "but I thought
you went upon this trip as my husband's representa-
tive and with my husband's money ? You tell us now
that you are pledged, but I should have thought you
were pledged first of all to James. You say it does not
concern us; we are poor people, and my husband is
sick, and it concerns us a great deal to understand how
we come to have lost our money, and why our repre-
sentative comes back to us with nothing. You ask that
we should trust you; you do not seem to understand;
the question we are asking ourselves is whether we have
not trusted you too much."
"I do not ask you to trust me," I replied. "I ask
Jim. He knows me."
" You think you can do what you please with James ;
you trust to his affection, do you not ? And me, I sup-
pose, you do not consider," said Mamie. "But it was
perhaps an unfortunate day for you when we were mar-
ried, for I at least am not blind. The crew run away,
the ship is sold for a great deal of money, you know that
364 THE WKECKER.
man's address and you conceal it, you do not find what
you were sent to look for, and yet you burn the ship ;
and now, when we ask explanations, you are pledged to
secrecy! But I am pledged to no such thing; I will
not stand by in silence and see my sick and ruined
husband betrayed by his condescending friend. I will
give you the truth for once. Mr. Dodd, you have been
bought and sold."
"Mamie," cried Jim, "no more of this! It's me
you're striking; it's only me you hurt. You don't
know, you cannot understand these things. Why,
to-day, if it hadn't been for Loudon, I couldn't have
looked you in the face. He saved my honesty."
"I have heard plenty of this talk before," she replied.
"You are a sweet-hearted fool, and I love you for it.
But I am a clear-headed woman ; my eyes are open, and
I understand this man's hypocrisy. Did he not come
here to-day and pretend he would take a situation
pretend he would share his hard-earned wages with us
until you were well ? Pretend ! It makes me furious !
His wages! a share of his wages! That would have
been your pittance, that would have been your share
of the Flying Scud you who worked and toiled for him
when he was a beggar in the streets of Paris. But we
do not want your charity; thank God, I can work for
my own husband! See what it is to have obliged a
gentleman. He would let you pick him up when he
was begging; he would stand and look on, and let you
CROSS-QUESTIONS AND CROOKED ANSWERS. 365
black his shoes, and sneer at you. For you were always
sneering at my James; you always looked down upon
him in your heart, you know it ! " She turned back to
Jim. " And now when he is rich," she began, and then
swooped again on me. " For you are rich, I dare you to
deny it ; I defy you to look me in the face and try to
deny that you are rich rich with our money my
husband's money "
Heaven knows to what a height she might have risen,
being, by this time, bodily whirled away in her own
hurricane of words. Heart-sickness, a black depression,
a treacherous sympathy with my assailant, pity unutter.
able for poor Jim, already filled, divided, and abashed
my spirit. Flight seemed the only remedy ; and making
a private sign to Jim, as if to ask permission, I slunk
from the unequal field.
I was but a little way down the street, when I was
arrested by the sound of some one running, and Jim's
voice calling me by name. He had followed me with a
letter which had been long awaiting my return.
I took it in a dream. "This has been a devil of
a business," said I.
"Don't think hard of Mamie," he pleaded. "It's
the way she's made ; it's her high-toned loyalty. And
of course I know it's all right. I know your sterling
character; but you didn't, somehow, make out to give
us the thing straight, London. Anybody might have
I mean it I mean "
366 THE WRECKER.
"Never mind what you mean, my poor Jim," said I,
"She's a gallant little woman and a loyal wife: and
I thought her splendid. My story was as fishy as the
devil. I'll never think the less of either her or you."
" It'll blow over, it must blow over," said he.
" It never can," I returned, sighing : " and don't you
try to make it! Don't name me, unless it's with an
oath. And get home to her right away. Good by, my
best of friends. Good by, and God bless you. We
shall never meet again."
" London, that we should live to say such words ! "
I had no views on life, beyond an occasional impulse
X) commit suicide, or to get drunk, and drifted down
the street, semi-conscious, walking apparently on air,
jn the light-headedness of grief. I had money in my
pocket, whether mine or my creditors' I had no means
of guessing; and, the Poodle Dog lying in my path,
I went mechanically in and took a table. A waiter
attended me, and I suppose I gave my orders; for
presently I found myself, with a sudden return of con-
sciousness, beginning dinner. On the white cloth at my
elbow lay the letter, addressed in a clerk's hand, and
bearing an English stamp and the Edinburgh postmark.
A bowl of bouillon and a glass of wine awakened in one
corner of my brain (where all the rest was in mourning,
the blinds down as for a funeral) a faint stir of curi-
osity ; and while I waited the next course, wondering
CROSS-QUESTIONS AND CROOKED ANSWERS. 367
the while what I had ordered, I opened and began to
read the epoch-making document.
" DEAK SIB : I am charged with the melancholy duty
of announcing to you the death of your excellent grand-
father, Mr. Alexander Loudon, on the 17th ult. On
Sunday the 13th, he went to church as usual in the
forenoon, and stopped on his way home, at the corner
of Princes Street, in one of our seasonable east winds,
to talk with an old friend. The same evening acute
bronchitis declared itself; from the first, Dr. M'Combie
anticipated a fatal result, and the old gentleman ap-
peared to have no illusion as to his own state. He
repeatedly assured me it was ' by ' with him now ; ' and
high time, too,' he once added with characteristic
asperity. He was not in the least changed on the
approach of death : only (what I am sure must be
very grateful to your feelings) he seemed to think
and speak even more kindly than usual of yourself:
referring to you as ' Jeannie's yin,' with strong expres-
sions of regard. ' He was the only one I ever liket
of the hale jing-bang,' was one of his expressions ;
and you will be glad to know that he dwelt par-
ticularly on the dutiful respect you had always dis-
played in your relations. The small codicil, by which
he bequeaths you his Molesworth and other profes-
sional works, was added (you will observe) on the day
before his death ; so that you were in his thoughts
until the end. I should say that, though rather a
368 THE WRECKER.
trying patient, he was most tenderly nursed by your
uncle, and your cousin, Miss Euphemia. I enclose a
copy of the testament, by which you will see that you
share equally with Mr. Adam, and that I hold at your
disposal a sum nearly approaching seventeen thousand
pounds. I beg to congratulate you on this considerable
acquisition, and expect your orders, to which I shall
hasten to give my best attention. Thinking that you
might desire to return at once to this country, and not
knowing how you may be placed, I enclose a credit for
six hundred pounds. Please sign the accompanying
slip, and let me have it at your earliest convenience.
" I am, dear sir, yours truly,
"W. RUTHERFORD GREGG."
"God bless the old gentleman!" I thought; "and
for that matter God bless Uncle Adam ! and my cousin
Euphemia ! and Mr. Gregg ! " I had a vision of that
grey old life now brought to an end " and high
time too " a vision of those Sabbath streets alter-
nately vacant and filled with silent people; of the
babel of the bells, the long-drawn psalmody, the shrewd
sting of the east wind, the hollow, echoing, dreary
house to which "Ecky" had returned with the hand
of death already on his shoulder ; a vision, too, of the
long, rough country lad, perhaps a serious courtier of
the lasses in the hawthorn den, perhaps a rustic dancer
on the green, who had first earned and answered to
CROSS-QUESTIONS AND CROOKED ANSWERS. 369
that harsh diminutive. And I asked myself if, on
the whole, poor Ecky had succeeded in life; if the
last state of that man were not on the whole worse
than the first; and the house in Randolph Crescent
a less admirable dwelling than the hamlet where he
saw the day and grew to manhood. Here was a con-
solatory thought for one who was himself a failure.
Yes, I declare the word came in my mind; and all
the while, in another partition of the brain, I was
glowing and singing for my new-found opulence. The
pile of gold four thousand two hundred and fifty
double eagles, seventeen thousand ugly sovereigns,
twenty-one thousand two hundred and fifty Napole-
ons danced, and rang and ran molten, and lit up life
with their effulgence, in the eye of fancy. Here were
all things made plain to me : Paradise Paris, I mean
Regained, Carthew protected, Jim restored, the cred-
itors . . .
" The creditors ! " I repeated, and sank back benumbed.
It was all theirs to the last farthing : my grandfather
had died too soon to save me.
I must have somewhere a rare vein of decision. In
that revolutionary moment, I found myself prepared
for all extremes except the one: ready to do anything,
or to go anywhere, so long as I might save my money.
At the worst, there was flight, flight to some of those
blest countries where the serpent, extradition, has not
yet entered in.
370 THE WRECKER.
On no condition is extradition
Allowed in Callao !
the old lawless words haunted me; and I saw my.
self hugging my gold in the company of such men as
had once made and sung them, in the rude and bloody
wharfside drinking-shops of Chili and Peru. The run
of my ill-luck, the breach of my old friendship, this
bubble fortune flaunted for a moment in my eyes and
snatched again, had made me desperate and (in the
expressive vulgarism) ugly. To drink vile spirits among
vile companions by the flare of a pine-torch ; to go
burthened with my furtive treasure in a belt ; to fight
for it knife in hand, rolling on a clay floor; to flee
perpetually in fresh ships and to be chased through
the sea from isle to isle, seemed, in my then frame of
mind, a welcome series of events.
That was for the worst ; but it began to dawn slowly
on my mind that there was yet a possible better. Once
escaped, once safe in Callao, I might approach my cred-
itors with a good grace; and properly handled by a
cunning agent, it was just possible they might accept
some easy composition. The hope recalled me to the
bankruptcy. It was strange, I reflected : often as I had
questioned Jim, he had never obliged me with an answer.
In his haste for news about the wreck, my own no less
legitimate curiosity had gone disappointed. Hateful as
the thought was to me, I must return at once and find
out where I stood.
CROSS-QUESTIONS AND CROOKED ANSWERS. 371
I left my dinner still unfinished, paying for the whole
of course, and tossing the waiter a gold piece. I was
reckless; I knew not what was mine and cared not:
1 must take what I could get and give as I was able ;
to rob and to squander seemed the complementary parts
of my new destiny. I walked up Bush Street, whistling,
brazening myself to confront Mamie in the first place,
and the world at large and a certain visionary judge
upon a bench in the second. Just outside, I stopped
and lighted a cigar to give me greater countenance;
and puffing this and wearing what (I am sure) was a
wretched assumption of braggadocio, I reappeared on
the scene of my disgrace.
My friend and his wife were finishing a poor meal
rags of old mutton, the remainder cakes from breakfast
eaten cold, and a starveling pot of coffee.
" I beg your pardon, Mrs. Pinkerton," said I. " Sorry
to inflict my presence where it cannot be desired; but
there is a piece of business necessary to be discussed."
"Pray do not consider me," said Mamie, rising, and
she sailed into the adjoining bedroom.
Jim watched her go and shook his head; he looked
miserably old and ill.
" What is it, now ? " he asked.
"Perhaps you remember you answered none of my
questions," said I.
" Your questions ? " faltered Jim.
"Even so, Jim. My questions," I repeated. "I put
372 THE WRECKER.
questions as well as yourself ; and however little I may
have satisfied Mamie with my answers, I beg to remind
you that you gave me none at all."
" You mean about the bankruptcy ? " asked Jim.
He writhed in his chair. "The straight truth is, I
was ashamed," he said. "I was trying to dodge you.
I've been playing fast and loose with you, Loudon;
I've deceived you from the first, I blush to own it.
And here you came home and put the very question I
was fearing. Why did we bust so soon? Your keen
business eye had not deceived you. That's the point,
that's my shame ; tnat's what killed me this afternoon
when Mamie was treating you so, and my conscience
was telling me all the time, Thou art the man."
" What was it, Jim ? " I asked.
"What I had been at all the time, Loudon," he
wailed; "and I don't know how I'm to look you in
the face and say it, after my 1 duplicity. It was stocks,"
he added in a whisper.
" And you were afraid to tell me that ! " I cried.
"You poor, old, cheerless dreamer! what would it
matter what you did or didn't? Can't you see we're
doomed ? And anyway, that's not my point. It's how
I stand that I want to know. There is a particular
reason. Am I clear? Have I a certificate, or what
have I to do to get one ? And when will it be dated ?
You can't think what hangs by it ! "
CKOSS-QUESTIONS AND CROOKED ANSWERS. 373
"That's the worst of all," said Jim, like a man in
a dream, " I can't see how to tell him ! "
"What do you mean ? " I cried, a small pang of terror
at my heart.
" I'm afraid I sacrificed you, Loudon," he said, looking
at me pitifully.
" Sacrificed me ?" I repeated. " How ? What do you
mean by sacrifice ? "
"I know it'll shock your delicate self-respect," he
said; "but what was I to do? Things looked so bad.
The receiver " (as usual, the name stuck in his throat,
and he began afresh). "There was a lot of talk; the
reporters were after me already; there was the trouble
and all about the Mexican business; and I got scared
right out, and I guess I lost my head. You weren't
there, you see, and that was my temptation."
I did not know how long he might thus beat about the
bush with dreadful hintings, and I was already beside
myself with terror. What had he done ? I saw he
had been tempted ; I knew from his letters that he was
in no condition to resist. How had he sacrificed the
"Jim," I said, "you must speak right out. I've got
all that I can carry."
"Well," he said "I know it was a liberty I made
it out you were no business man, only a stone-broke
painter; that half the time you didn't know anything
anyway, particularly money and accounts. I said you
874 THE WRECKER.
never could be got to understand whose was whose. I
had to say that because of some entries in the books "
" For God's sake," I cried, " put me out of this agony !
What did you accuse me of ? "
"Accused you of?" repeated Jim. "Of what I'm
telling you. And there being no deed of partnership, I
made out you were only a kind of clerk that I called a
partner just to give you taffy; and so I got you ranked
a creditor on the estate for your wages and the money
you had lent. And "
I believe I reeled. " A creditor ! " I roared ; " a cred-
itor ! I'm not in the bankruptcy at all ? "
"No," said Jim. "I know it was a liberty "
" damn your liberty ! read that," I cried, dashing
the letter before him on the table, "and call in your
wife, and be done with eating this truck " as I spoke,
I slung the cold mutton in the empty grate " and let's
all go and have a champagne supper. I've dined I'm
sure I don't remember what I had ; I'd dine again ten
scores of times upon a night like this. Eead it, you
blaying ass ! I'm not insane. Here, Mamie," I contin-
ued, opening the bedroom door, "come out and make it
up with me, and go and kiss your husband ; and I'll tell
you what, after the supper, let's go to some place where
there's a band, and I'll waltz with you till sunrise."
" What does it all mean ? " cried Jim.
" It means we have a champagne supper to-night, and
all go to Napa Valley or to Monterey to-morrow," said
TRAVELS WITH A SHYSTER. 375
I. "Mamie, go and get your things on; and you, Jim,
sit down right where you are, take a sheet of paper, and
tell Franklin Dodge to go to Texas. Mamie, you were
right, my dear; I was rich all the time, and didn't
TBAVELS WITH A SHYSTEB.
The absorbing and disastrous adventure of the Flying
Scud was now qrite ended; we had dashed into these
deep waters and we had escaped again to starve, we had
been ruined and were saved, had quarrelled and made
up ; there remained nothing but to sing Te Deum, draw
a line, and begin on a fresh page of my unwritten diary.
I do not pretend that I recovered all I had lost with
Mamie ; it would have been more than I had merited ;
and I had certainly been more uncommunicative than
became either the partner or the friend. But she ac-
cepted the position handsomely; and during the week
that I now passed with them, both she and Jim had the
grace to spare me questions. It was to Calistoga that
we went ; there was some rumour of a Napa land-boom
at the moment, the possibility of stir attracted Jim,
and he informed me he would find a certain joy in
looking on, much as Napoleon on St. Helena took a
376 THE WRECKER.
pleasure to read military works. The field of his ambi-
tion was quite closed ; he was done with action ; and
looked forward to a ranch in a mountain dingle, a patch
of corn, a pair of kine, a leisurely and contemplative
age in the green shade of forests. "Just let me get
down on my back in a hayfield," said he, "and you'll
find there's no more snap to me than that much putty."
And for two days the perfervid being actually rested.
The third, he was observed in consultation with the
local editor, and owned he was in two minds about
purchasing the press and paper. " It's a kind of a hold
for an idle man," he said, pleadingly; "and if the sec-
tion was to open up the way it ought to, there might
be dollars in the thing." On the fourth day he was
gone till dinner-time alone ; on the fifth we made a long
picnic drive to the fresh field of enterprise ; and the
sixth was passed entirely in the preparation of pro-
spectuses. The pioneer of McBride City was already
upright and self-reliant as of yore; the fire rekindled
in his eye, the ring restored to his voice; a charger
sniffing battle and saying ha-ha, among the spears. On
the seventh morning we signed a deed of partnership,
for Jim would not accept a dollar of my money other-
wise ; and having once more engaged myself or that
mortal part of me, my purse among the wheels of his
machinery, I returned alone to San Francisco and took
quarters in the Palace Hotel.
The same night I had Nares to dinner. His sunburnt
TRAVELS WITH A SHYSTER. 377
face, his queer and personal strain of talk, recalled days
that were scarce over and that seemed already distant.
Through the music of the band outside, and the chink
and clatter of the dining-room, it seemed to me as if I
heard the foaming of the surf and the voices of the
sea-birds about Midway Island. The bruises on our
hands were not yet healed ; and there we sat, waited on
by elaborate darkies, eating pompano and drinking iced
"Think of our dinners on the Norah, captain, and
then oblige me by looking round the room for contrast."
He took the scene in slowly. "Yes, it is like a
dream," he said: "like as if the darkies were really
about as big as dimes ; and a great big scuttle might
open up there, and Johnson stick in a great big head
and shoulders, and cry, ' Eight bells ! ' and the whole
"Well, it's the other thing that has done that," I
replied. "It's all bygone now, all dead and buried.
Amen ! say I."
"I don't know that, Mr. Dodd; and to tell you the
fact, I don't believe it," said Nares. "There's more
Flying Scud in the oven ; and the baker's name, I take
it, is Bellairs. He tackled me the day we came in : sort
of a razee of poor old humanity jury clothes full
new suit of pimples : knew him at once from your
description. I let him pump me till I saw his game.
He knows a good deal that we don't know, a good deal
378 THE WKECKER.
that we do, and suspects the balance. There's trouble
brewing for somebody."
I was surprised I had not thought of this before.
Bellairs had been behind the scenes; he had known
Dickson ; he knew the flight of the crew ; it was hardly
possible but what he should suspect; it was certain if
he suspected, that he would seek to trade on the sus-
picion. And sure enough, I was not yet dressed the
next morning ere the lawyer was knocking at my door.
I let him in, for I was curious ; and he, after some
ambiguous prolegomena, roundly proposed I should go
shares with him.
"Shares in what?" I inquired.
" If you will allow me to clothe my idea in a some-