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if the noise was coming nearer every mo-
ment? Don't it seem to you as if some
folks must be running to get away from
it?"

Evelyn May disdained to answer. She
was convinced that what the other said
was perfectly true : that the Confederates
had fallen upon the Union army in the
small hours, in the dark, and had routed it.

"To-morrow," called Mary Ellen, "or
maybe late to-day, we '11 be looking down
the road instead of up it, and hearing the
sounds dying slowly and mournfully away.
Won't it be a blow, though ? "

" It 's probably a blind to lead the Rebs
into a trap," said Evelyn May, sweetly.
" 'Pears to me those poor Rebs are always
falling into traps. If rats and mice did n't
have more sense, there would n't be any
rats and mice."

This was more than Mary Ellen could
bear or for the moment answer. She be-
came pink with smothered rage. But she
had a better view of the road than Evelyn
May, and of a sudden she saw that in the
distance it was filling with men and wagons.
She looked again to make sure.

" Here come the cats," she said trium-
phantly. "Puss, puss, puss, puss! Here,
puss!"



Evelyn May rushed into the road. Mary
Ellen followed.

Toward them came the rout— ammuni-
tion-wagons, hospital wagons, supply-
wagons, mules, camp-followers, soldiers
with hats and no guns, soldiers with guns
and no hats, an officer or two mounted:
the recession, pouring, as it did, over the
brow of a low hill, seemed interminable.
There was no order, no precision, nothing
to which Evelyn May could pin an excuse
or an argument. Yes ; there were no colors.
In the listless, apathetic flight their absence
was the one ray of hope.

The flight drew nearer, and Mary Ellen
and Evelyn May retreated into their re-
spective yards. As the first stragglers
passed, Mary Ellen began to shake her
skirts at them and fling taunting remarks :

" You '11 find mother a little further on ;
she 's just up the road. You 're nearly
home, boys ; one more effort ; step lively. Hi
there, you ! Hurry, or Early *11 catch you."

And Evelyn May, white with anger,
seized the fence by the pickets so that it
shook, and cried :

"Go back! go back— you— you— cow-
ards!"

A man in plain clothes, riding a big
sorrel, detached himself from the crowd
and drew up by Evelyn May's fence.

" Please take this,"— he handed her half
a dozen leaves covered with fine manu-
script,— "and see that it is forwarded to
its address. I have n't time myself. I 've
got to go back."



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MARY ELLEN AND EVELYN MAY



683



"What IS it?" Evelyn May had the
curiosity and boldness to ask.

" It 's a report of the surprise and rout,"
he said. " Telegraph it, if you can get to
an office." He tossed a wad of greenbacks
over the fence. " If you can't telegraph
it, mail it, and keep the change for the
wounded."

With no further talk, the man turned
and rode in the direction of the firing, and,
as he went, Evelyn May could see that he
was making frantic, if ineffectual, efforts
to induce others to go with him.

In ten minutes Evelyn May found her-
self astride of the old plow-horse, without
saddle or bridle, making for the nearest
telegraph office. She could not tell, herself,
exactly why she went, except that some
one had spoken orders and that she was
obeying. An unshaven face, white and
haggard, but young ; a pair of small, bright,
gray eyes ; a flash of white teeth ; a voice
that had made her heart beat— these things
never left her as she rode.

Mary Ellen, almost consumed with
curiosity to know what had passed be-
tween Evelyn May and the stranger, con-
tinued to lean on the fence and jeer the
stragglers. She remained thus for over an
hour, doing her very pertest, but to very
little effect. The men were too apathetic,
listless, heartless, to answer back. And
when the wounded began to come, she
became silent.

The rout now covered the long space
of road between the brows of the low hills,
appearing over the one and disappearing
over the other, much as a ragged strap
passes over two wheels in a factory. That
part of it directly in front of Mary Ellen's
house was full of wounded in wagons and
borne on stretchers. Suddenly, from the
direction toward which the dismal, un-
happy mass of men, guns, and wagons
was proceeding, came a faint sound of
cheering. The cheering grew louder and
nearer, just as from the other direction the
sounds of battle were momentarily in-
creasing.

Presently the rout halted. Men began
to curse and lash their horses, still eager to
go on; but the van seemed to have met
with an insurmountable obstruction. The
rear kept forging up, and the column
became packed to suffocation. But the
cheering became louder, and it was possi-
ble to see hats waving in the distance.



Suddenly the fit of cheering reached that
part of the line opposite Mary Ellen, and
shook it with excitement Color sprang
into white faces, fire into dull eyes; the
cheering became a yell— a scream of tri-
umph. Men wheeled in their tracks, shout-
ing and laughing, and slapping one an-
other's backs. As if by magic, the recession
became a procession, the rout an advance,
the retreat an attack. The column was
going the other way.

There came riding at a gallop in the
fields beside the road a short man on a
tremendous horse. The man's face was
stem and puckered, but his eyes flashed
and looked neither to the right nor the
left. In his right hand he carried his hat
There was not a vestige of the theater in
the continuous gesture, only a frank desire
to be recognized by all who saw him as
quickly as possible. He came ; he went.
After him came a little squad of cavalry,
who smiled as they rode. When she could
no longer see him, Mary Ellen could still
mark the progress of the man by the yells
and cheers, the triumphant bellicose shouts,
which that progress aroused. Mingled
with the hoarse, deep voices of the men
was a shrill, triumphant voice that soared
like a fife above them. Mary Ellen bit her
teeth together and the shrill voice ceased.

The day went on, and the battle became
stationary; the day waned, and the battle
began to roll back whence it had come.

Morning dawned bright and clear. Mary
Ellen was out bright and early. She went
to her neighbor's house and knocked.
There was no answer. Evelyn May had
not come home.

Down the road came a cart drawn by
a mule. In the cart, propped against
straw, sat a man with a bloody bandage
round his head. There was a band across
the man's knee. On the band were sheets
of paper, and the man was writing with a
little stub of a pencil.

" Did you send it ? " he called feebly to
Mary Ellen.

The cart was halted. She went into the
road.

" Send what ? "

" Oh, it was n't you, was it ? You are
the other girl. No matter; I sha'n't be
able to send this— will you? You must,
you know. It 's the rest of the battle for
my paper— about how Sh-Sheridan came



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b-back. You *11 f-find money in my clothes
to t-elegraph it. I 'm done for."

He closed his eyes. A moment later he
opened them. " Take it, please. It 's all—
f-inished."

His eyes rested on Mary Ellen's face,
and even to the dimming retina she was
very sweet to see.

" Look here, young lady," he said, and
his manner brightened a little ; " it *s 1-onely
goin' a-lone^and— and a man ought to
h-ave a woman b-by— when he g-oes out.
Wou— you would n't m-ind g-givin' me a
k-kiss for luck, now— w-would you? "

Mary Ellen's face was white with pity.
She climbed into the cart and bent over
the man. He put his arms around her and
drew her close on his breast, and held her
close, and she kissed him an honest kiss on
the mouth, and he kissed her back. She
made to rise; but he held her with his
feeble arms, and would not let her go.
He kissed her again, and— for she felt it
her duty— she kissed him back.

The man's arms opened, but for a mo-
ment Mary Ellen stayed as she was. And
she kissed the man's mouth of her own
accord.

" For luck," she whispered, and she
climbed out of the cart, red as a rose.

" We must get him into the house," she
said to the driver. He dismounted, and
together they bore the fainting correspon-
dent into the best bedroom and laid him
on the bed. He opened his eyes then.

"P-please," he said, "t-elegraph it if
you c-an ; and if you c-an't, mail it."

Mary Ellen, mounted on her pony, and
clasping a precious manuscript and a roll
of bills, galloped toward Winchester. She
met Evelyn May, bestriding the old plow-
horse, riding in the opposite direction.
They waved to each other, and, as they
passed, each cried to the other, "We
won!"

Evelyn May was happy with a sense of
duty done, and in her mind she hugged



the memory of a face, bold, resolute, and
of a voice that had made her heart beat
Mary Ellen was half dead with dread, and
kept alive only by the force of love which
had suddenly been bom in her. As she'
rode, she kept seeing the face of a man
sick unto death, and she kept hearing a
feeble, broken voice that had made her
heart beat.

" What 's that ? " said the correspondent-
He was sitting up in bed, and there was a
little show of color in his sunken lips. "It
sounds like a woman crying."

" It 's Evelyn May," said Mary Ellen,
gently. " Her father was killed that day,
and she 's only heard this morning."

" Where are your people, Mary Ellen ? "

" My mother 's dead, the same as Evel)m
May's, and my father and my brother are
—are on the other side."

" Mary Ellen, are you going to forgive
me for not dying— for obtaining bless-
ings under false pretenses— that— that
day?"

" I would n't have had it otherwise.**
said Mary Ellen.

"Suppose, then," said the correspon-
dent, " that you leave that book a moment
and k — bless me again."

" There," said Mary Ellen. " And now,
my own dear, I think I '11 go to poor
Evelyn May, because she 's crying her
heart out."

" Do that," said her " own dear." " And
then— and then, Mary Ellen— suppose you
stop round to the minister's and bring him
here."

" Do you wish it very much ? " said
Mary Ellen.

" Come close— and I '11 whisper," said
he. " And now, darling, go to poor Evelyn
May."

And Mary Ellen went, and sweet she
was, and honest and tender; but she was
the last woman in the world to try to stop
the tears of Evelyn May.




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"OLD CLINKERS"

BY HARVEY J. O'HIGGINS

Author of •• The Smoke-eaters"
WITH PICTURES BY MARTIN JUSTICE




N alarm of fire was rung in the
pier-house of the new fire-bgat,
the Manhattan, one warm night
in August when the Manhattan
herself,— cuddling up against the wharf,
purring a little fume of steam from the
exhaust-pipe,— had just been roused from
her sleep by the engineer in charge turning
over the engines to get the water out of
the low-pressure cylinder; and Captain
Keighley's gray head still showed at the
lighted office window of the pier-house,
bowed over a report which he was writing
to " Headquarters " on this very difficulty
of keeping the low-pressure cylinder warm
and ready to start.

" I can't see the sense of puttin' triple-
expansion engines 'into a fire-boat, any-
way," the engineer had complained. " That
third cylinder *s just a drag on the other
two. She goes cold here, layin' in the dock,
an' we 're half-way to a fire before she
gets hot enough to handle the steam."

Captain Keighley had replied, "Well,
send in yer kick to Headquarters," and had
avoided the engineer's eye as he said it;
for it was the captain's duty to make all
such reports. The engineer had looked at
him, looked at the floor, and then rubbed
his nose with the back of an oily hand. " I
guess you better do it, cap'n," he said
meekly. " I ain't much of an ink-slinger."
And Keighley's greater sense of dignity
had compelled him to answer, with an
affected indifference, " All right ; all right."

But when he had shut the door of his
office and taken out his pocket Webster
from the locked drawer in which he kept
it,— with as much secrecy as if it were a
rhyming dictionary,— he had sat down be-
fore his official letter paper to nurse his jaw.



with no more dignity than a school-boy.
Then he had begun to screw out the tor-
tuous scrawl of his report, — with a period
placed carefully after each word,— breath-
ing hard at the end of every line and mut-
tering curses at the beginning of the next ;
and when the alarm of fire burst on the jig-
ger, he had just decided that he had come
to the end of his first sentence and had put
down his pen to relax the muscles of his
mouth and wipe his forehead. He counted
the strokes of the bell, brightening with the
hope that there was a fire in his district to
release him from his desk.

In the adjoining sitting-room Lieutenant
Moore had been tilted back against the
wall in a cane chair, reading a newspaper
with the ease that comes of a public-school
education. It had once been his duty to
write the captain's reports for him; but
for the best of reasons he was allowed to
do so no longer, and whenever he looked
over his paper at the closed door of the
office, it was with an expression of sulky
resentment. That expression did not
change when he glanced aside at the
men who were reading, loafing, and play-
ing dominoes in the room with him ; for
there was nothing of the genial atmosphere
of an engine-house's leisure-hour about
the scene. There was nothing but con-
straint, and silence, and side-mouthed
whispers, and a feeling of suspicious aloof-
ness between group and group.

They were a mixed lot, picked from all
the battalions of the city to serve on the
Manhattan, In a far corner a blue-jowled
Bowery type, nicknamed "Shine," had
been saying in a husky undertone to a
freckled fireman beside him : " I s'pose
Moore 's sore on us 'cause we won't fight



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it out to a finish fer 'm. What 'd we make
by it, supposin' we got the ol* man trun
out of his job, eh ? "

The other shut his eyes and nodded
solemnly. He was a sly, sandy youth
named Cripps.

These two were members of a fire-
man's "benevolent association" called
"the Brownies," of which Lieutenant
Moore was the " financial secretary," and
they had lately been participants with
Moore in a plot to drive Captain Keighley
from his command for having " broken "
one of their association. Captain Keighley
had learned of the plot, and had suppressed
it; and that was the simple reason why
Moore no longer wrote the reports.

At a round table in the center of the
room a young Irishman named Farley,
with a curled mustache, had been playing
dominoes with a huge nondescript named
Sturton, and nicknamed "the Terrible
Turk " ; and Farley, being an expert, had
been lolling back in his chair and playing
absent-mindedly, while "the Turk," to
whom the game was an almost violent
mental exercise, had been bent over his
dominoes, with his big-boned face set in a
thoughtful scowl, playing deliberately, with
slow movements of his hairy paws. And
these two had been on their captain's side
in the quarrel between the two officers,
though for different reasons— Farley be-
cause he belonged to the association of
firemen that was the rival of " the Brown-
ies," and " the Turk " because he was by
nature loyal to appointed authority and
solemnly conscientious in the fulfilment of
all his duties.

Farley had been watching Lieutenant
Moore in his corner. He had spoken once,
to say in a low voice : " That loofnt looks
like a bull-pup shut out on a door-step."
But " the Turk " had merely grunted with-
out letting his attention be drawn from
the game; and they had continued to
play in silence until the jigger sounded the
alarm.

Then, like all the other men, they looked
up without rising, and counted the strokes.
When the little bell started to ring the third
number of a station in their district, they
bolted eagerly for the door ; and with the
first stroke of the larger gong the sitting-
room was empty. Captain Keighley was
shouting to the pilot, "All right, there!
Pier , North River!" and the Man-



hattan was imder way for the fire that was
to weld her crew into a fit company of
firemen, with a proper camaraderie and
some of the spirit of a corps.

The river was as crowded with a summer
evening's traffic as Broadway with cars
and hansoms on a theater night ; and the
Manhattan had no shore engine's right of
way under the law. She went whistling up
the stream, dodging and spurting, throb-
bing, grunting, and checking speed. Blaz-
ing excursion boats, bedecked with colored
lights, answered her impatient signals with
cheerful impudence, and held their courses.
Squat ferries paddled serenely across her
path. An impertinent tug cut in ahead of
her to race with her for salvage, and wor-
ried her like a cur at a horse's head. The
pilot twirled his wheel, worked his engine-
room signals, and swore despairingly ; and
Captain Keighley stared at the shore lights
in the distance and revolved the first sen-
tence of his report in memory.

When the river opened into a free
stretch of water, the tug fell behind, and
Captain Keighley saw the pier-end lamp
toward which they were heading blinking
like the intermittent flash of a lighthouse.
It disappeared, and he guessed that it had
been blotted out by the drift of smoke.

" Wind from the south ? " he asked. The
pilot answered, " Yes^ 'r." Keighley said,
"Take us in on this side o' the pier," and
stepped out of the wheel-house to go aft
to the crew. " Get out two two-inch lines
from the port gates," he ordered Lieuten-
ant Moore.

"Shine" came running back from the
bows and joined the men who were taking
the hose from its metal-sheathed box.
" Banana fritters fer ours," he said. " It 's
the fruit-pier ! " And Captain Keighley
observed that some of the men laughed,
that the others at least smiled, and that
Lieutenant Moore was the only one who
remained out of reach of the invitation
to good humor. He got a glimpse of
Moore's isolation, and returned forward
again, frowning thoughtfully.

The pier-shed, as they swung in toward
it, was fuming at every door with puffs of
a heavy smoke from the burning grasses
in which the fruit was packed, and Keigh-
ley saw that the fire was going to be, in
department slang, a "worker." He could
see the steamers of two shore companies



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**OLD CLINKERS"



687



drawing water from the end of the slip.
He understood that their crews were in
the shed, trying to drive the fire for-
ward ; and he knew that it would be his
duty to enter from the other end of the
pier and catch the flames between the
two attacks.
He shouted to the pilot, " Hold us up to



half-way up the dock. " Hoi' on ! " he
cried to the four men who had leaped to
the pier. " Drop one of those lines. Take
yer axes. Chop a hole in the floor planks
inside. The fire 's 'n underneath."

The men aboard tossed the axes out
to the others, and these rushed into the
smoke, dragging the single line. Keighley



I %^



HaH-tdiie jilalc cn^ravcil by i;. M. Lewis

THK REFORl



the door there!" and ran back to Lieu-
tenant Moore. " Stay aboard here," he
ordered. " If the blaze shows in the roof,
take the top off her with the monitor. Go
slow, though. Don't bring it down on us."
He called to the men: "Throw out yer
lines! Make fast, now! Hang on to that
line aft! Hold it! Hold it! — All right.
Stretch in — in through the door here!
Come on ! "

He jumped up on the bulwarks as the
engines reversed with a frantic churning
astern, and then he saw a flicker of flame
glimmer and grow between the timbers of
the cribwork, just above the water-line,



said to the lieutenant : ** (lo in an* take
charge there. See 't no one gets lost in
that smoke." Moore scrambled to the
pier, and the captain ran forward along
the bulwarks, peering down for an opening
between the stringers of the cribbing.

He knew that the crew on the pier
would take at least ten minutes to cut a
hole through the three-inch planks, in the
blind suffocation of that shed ; and, mean-
while, the fire below would travel from
end to end of the pier. He could see no
opening larger than an inch slit between
the foot- timbers beside the bow of the boat.
He started aft again.



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"Shine,-' behind him, said: "It 's cov-
ered at high water, cap."

Keighley spun around. " What is? "

"The hole. 1 t' ought — **

Keighley jumped down at him. " Where
is it ? Will 't take a line in ? "

"Sure," "Shine" said. "It '11 take a
bunch o' bananas in."

"Where is it?"

" It 's— it 's about there." He pointed
down the pier. " It *s under water at high
tide."

Keighley ran his fingers up the buttons
of his rubber coat, and it fell off him like
sleight-of-hand. His helmet dropped be-
side it. " Get me a heavin'-line," he said ;
and " Shine " gasped excitedly : " Say, cap,
you can't find it. Y* have to dive. It *s
where the gang ust to get to hide the stuff
we swiped, till the cop got nex' t* it. I
c'u'd make it in the dark. We fixed up a
reg'lar joint in there."

The captain said : " Peel off, then. Hi,
there ! Bring us a heavin'-line ! " and ran
back to get it.

"Shine" dropped to the deck with a
chuckle and began a race for " First in,"
gurgling an excited profanity as he kicked
off his rubber boots. He had been news-
boy, bootblack, wharf-rat, deck-hand,
truck-driver, plug-ugly, and leader of his
gang, and he had come into the depart-
ment from the ranks of the " Con Scully
Association " to earn a regular salary for
the support of "the ol* crow," his mother.
Diving on the water-front of a midsummer
night was a way of earning it that ap-
pealed to him.

"Beat y' in, Turk," he challenged.
" Come on. Saturday 's wash-day."

" The Turk " asked cautiously : " What 's
on?" He had an instinctive distrust of
" Shine " as a type, as well as a political
distrust of him as a " Brownie."

"Nuthin* 's on," "Shine" said as he
came out of his blue-flannel shirt and stood
up, grinning, naked. " Where 's the rope ? "

Young Farley, from behind, tied one
line under his arms. Captain Keighley
gave him the end of another. " That 's f er
signalin'," he explained. "Jerk it three
times if yuh want us to haul y' out. Jerk it
twice if yuh 're all right an' ready to take
in the hose. We '11 tie this other one to
the pipe. Jerk once to start the water.
Over yuh go now ! Strip ! " he said to
Cripps, the freckled fireman.



" Shine " sprang on the bulwarks, took
the signaling-line between his teeth, and
dived. He struck the water and went in
as clean as a fish. A few bubbles rose
and burst in the streak of light from the
wheel-house window. The lines paid out
smoothly through Keighley's hand. They
stopped ; and he began to gather in the
slack stealthily. They jerked forward and
ran out with a rush. TTiere was the pause
of a crisis. Then the signal-line jumped
twice, and Keighley cried: "He 's in!
Give him the pipe ! Light up there\ "
Cripps tossed the nozle overboard, and
the others ran aft to lighten up the h©«e.

Meanwhile, "Shine" had wriggled
through the opening in the timbers and
risen under the floor of the pier in a dense
smoke that was lighted with flames. He
had swum to a cross-beam and straddled
it to draw a deep breath through a crack
in the wall of the cribbing. And now he
was hauling in the line, hand over hand,
choking and sputtering. The nozle rose
between his knees. He jerked once on the
signal-rope, heard Keighley's muffled or}'
of "Start yer water! " and threw himself
on his stomach on the nozle and the
beam. The air gushed in a mighty sough
from the pipe. The hose bucked and
kicked up under him. The stream spurted
from it and broke hissing on the blaze.
" Go it ! " he said, riding the hose and
clinging to the slimy timbers. " Go it, yuh
son of a mut! "

He had left the weight of discipline on
the deck behind him with his uniform, and
he had returned to the naked audacity of
the days when he had obeyed no rules but
those of the " club." He was no longer a
fireman ; he was a young hoodlum enjoying
an adventure, and he looked up at the
blaze before him with a grin. He heard
Lieutenant Moore's squad chopping at th^e
planks behind him, and he listened con-
temptuously. He thought of Captain
Keighley, and it was with the thought of
a younger " Shine " for the leader of his
gang.

He was still clinging to his beam when
Cripps rose blowing behind him ; but the



Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Barton) RendleThe Century → online text (page 84 of 120)