Frederic Franklyn Van de Water.

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they ever take him to that place. He's a bad,

214 Grey Riders

bad man, Lew Hemaline. When is the rest of
you fellers comin'?"

When George explained that he was to han-
dle the case alone, the postmaster immediately
withdrew earlier offers of cooperation.

"I'll drive ye part the way to the farm he
lives on," he conceded, "but I won't go right up
to it. I wouldn't tech Lew with a twenty-foot
pole with only one man with me. No, sir."

Out through the wintry darkness, George and
the postmaster rode. At length the latter pulled
in his horse.

"You get out here," he quavered, "I'm a
goin' back. Lew he's that crazy he might be
hidin' anywhere 'long the roadside and he'll kill
ye. Yes, sir; quick as winkin'."

The hoof beats of his horse faded out in the
blackness. All alone, the trooper tramped for-
ward until he saw the bulk of a farmhouse
against the starry sky. The place was as silent
as a cemetery. The sound of George's fist
against the door seemed to echo through the

Presently from the inside came a husky
whisper :

"Who's there? Is that you, Lew?"

The trooper explained and the door was

The Art of Orpheus 215

opened cautiously. Through the crack, a farmer
peeped and when he saw the uniform pulled
back the portal.

'My God," he gasped, "I thought 'twas Lew.
He told me he was goin' to kill us all before


mornin'. I ain't dared to go to bed."

He swung a club the size of a ball bat in his
hand as he spoke. Lew had left, he explained,
three hours earlier after promising wholesale ex-
tinction for the farmer's family upon his return.
He had gone west, toward Ionia, four miles
away, driving a pony he owned in an open buggy.

It was nearly midnight now, but George set
out through the darkness toward Ionia.

Only one light shone in the little village as he
approached. This was in the general store
where the proprietor sat late over accounts.

He admitted George and by the light of the
single kerosene lamp, took up his part of the saga
of Lew Hemaline.

The madman had been in his store just before
closing time. He had said that he was going to
call on one Jamieson a farmer living some four
miles beyond the town. To the trooper, the
storekeeper explained that Jamieson was the only
man in the neighborhood w r ho could quiet Hema-
line when the spell of madness was upon him.

216 Grey Riders

Over the telephone, Jamieson admitted that.
Hemaline was there and had gone to bed.

"You had better stay where you are til]
morning," he advised the trooper. 'There'll be
trouble if you wake him up. I'll hold him till
you come after breakfast. He won't run away.
If you take him to-night, he will certainly resist
and Lew is a very bad man when he's in this

On this assurance, George accepted the room
offered by the storekeeper and caught a few
hours' sleep. At dawn, as he had requested, his
host aroused him. Over the breakfast table the
storekeeper and his wife talked of Hemaline and
the strange and savage things he did when the
madness gripped him.

With his sausages and cakes the trooper ab-
sorbed anecdote after anecdote of the strength, the
recklessness, and desperation of the man he had
been sent to get. And the burden of the cheer-
ing tales recounted by his host and hostess was :

" He's a bad, bad man. He's a-goin' to kill the
next man that tries to 'rest him."

"Lew come in last time he was took with a
crazy spell," said the storekeeper, "and told me
to move my gas pump back from the road and
put up a mile of hitchin' posts. Said he expected

The Art of Orpheus 217

three thousand wild ponies from the West and
he had to have somewhere to tie 'em while he
was breakin' 'em in for the soldiers. He told me
he'd saw me in half with a cross-cut saw if I
didn't. But they catched him that time before
he got the chanct. He's a tough, hard feller; a
bad man to cross when he's in one of his spells."

So, to the accompaniment of recitations of
outrage, and predictions of calamity, the break-
fast with comforters who might well have at-
tended Job, came to a close. At the end of a
tale of a peculiarly revolting atrocity committed
by Hemaline, George pushed back his chair and
went to the telephone. He called up a physician
at Honeoye Falls and announced he was bring-
ing Hemaline in that morning for commitment
papers to the Rochester Asylum.

"What! Again?" queried the physician.
"Was anybody hurt when you caught him."

"I'm catching him this morning," the trooper

"How many of you?"

"Just me."

"Hem!" said a dubious voice over the wire.
"Well, I'll be in all morning if you need me."

"I want a car to take me out to Jamieson's,"
George told the storekeeper.

218 Grey Riders

" Sure, " the other complied. " Sure. Only-
well you'll have to drive it yourself. And that
wouldn't be any use because you'll have to keep
your gun in Lew's stomach all the time and
watch him like a fishhawk. I'd go with ye to
drive, but I'm busy and everything."

"Get the car," the trooper said. "I'll drive


Presently the roar and rattling outside told
that the Ford had been drawn up in front of the
store. The storekeeper entered and wished the
trooper a solemn good-bye. George went out
into the brisk morning air as a rickety buggy
drew up alongside the car and a tall rawboned
man clumped up the steps and into the store
after sweeping the trooper with a pair of singu-
larly piercing dark eyes.

A minute later, the storekeeper came tip-
toeing, stuttering in excitement.

"He's here now," he gasped, "that's Lew that
just went inside. What we better do?"

Without replying the trooper wheeled and re-
entered the building.

Hemaline had been peering into a show case
but swung around quickly as the man in grey
appeared. He came toward the trooper, great
hairy hands held ready, the unshaven lips curling

The Art of Orpheus 219

into a snarl. His threadbare coat seemed too
small for the mighty shoulders and thick chest.
He stared at the trooper with the fixed gaze of
one who looks through, rather than at, a thing.

'You are Lew Hemaline?" George asked

'I am. What of it?" the other retorted.

'I want to see you outside,' the trooper
ordered and turning on his heel, left the building.
The madman followed. On the steps he clutched
the other's shoulder with a heavy hand.

"And who in hell are you?" he croaked.

George told him and added in the tone of one
who imparts deep confidences: "I'm a State
Trooper, Lew. I want you to come with me and
see Dr. Fleming over at Honeoye Falls."

He met the bleak glare of the crazy man with-
out flinching.

"Can't go," Hemaline answered flatly, "I got
to do my chores."

''Suppose I help you with them," George
proposed. 'Put up your horse and we'll go
together in the car to Honeoye Falls. It's a
fine day for a ride."

A grin softened the stony face of the madman.
He grabbed the hand of the trooper and shook it

220 Grey Riders

'They've always told me," he remarked,
"that the State Cops beat hell out of a fellow
and then talk to him afterward. Let's go!"

He took the cigar that George offered, lit it
and then climbing into his buggy started down
the road, the trooper following in the car. The
amazed eyes of the storekeeper and his wife
trailed them out of sight.

Under the even more startled gaze of the
farmer, whom Hemaline had promised to kill
on his return, the madman and the trooper un-
hitched the horse in the barnyard and led it into
the stable. There they fed and watered the
stock and did the other chores while the trooper
talked, soothingly, inconsequentially; as one
might speak to a nervous horse or a frightened
child. They drew the wagon into the barn.
From beneath the seat, Hemaline drew out a
dinner pail and a large club. He stepped softly
toward the trooper, swinging the weapon about
his head, a strange leer on his face.

"We're not going to need that, Lew," George
said pleasantly, standing quite still. "Better
leave that here if we're going for a ride. What's
it for anyway?"

The madman hesitated a moment, then with a
weak grin he threw the weapon into a corner.

The Art of Orpheus 221

" It's for the Spaniards, " he whispered. ' They
live a ways down the road and they make
whiskey for the hull United States. I been lyin'
out every night for the last two weeks watchin'
them and collectin' evidence."

He opened the dinner pail. The upper part
was filled with crackers, the lower with oysters
frozen into a solid mass.

" I eat these," Lew explained, "while collectin'
the evidence. Let's go ridin'."

It was a bitter morning and the wind was
rising. Hemaline wore only trousers, shoes,
shirt, and thin jacket. George proposed that he
get an overcoat before they started. He fol-
lowed the madman up to his room which was
cluttered with battered suitcases.

"What's in these Lew?" the trooper asked

Instantly the baleful light that had flickered
in the maniac's eyes as he had swung the club
about his head, flared up once more. He
clutched George's arm.

'Mustard gas and dynamite," he hissed.
"I'm goin' to use it on the feller that lives here."

George opened one of the suitcases. It was
filled with old clothes. At once Hemaline flew
into a rage. He tramped up and down the room,

222 Grey Riders

cursing his employer and charging him with
stealing the original contents.

'I been watchin' him!" he stormed. "I'm
goin' to kill him ! Yes, sir. He's a thief and he's
got to die. He steals my things. He steals
horses, cows, everything. The world won't be
right till he's dead. I got his grave already dug.
I'll show you where we'll put him."

He led the way to the cellar. There in a corner
was the grave, a hole nine feet long, three wide
and about four deep, dug in the earth floor. The
dirt piled beside it was still fresh.

"Come on," Hemaline muttered, trembling
violently. "Let's fill it now ! "

'Well," the trooper temporized, "not right
now, Lew. Let's go for a ride first. We'll go
to Honeoye Falls and then to Rochester."

"Not to the 'sylum," the madman warned,
glaring at the trooper.

"Troopers don't take people to asylums,"
George pointed out. 'They put them in

'That's all right," Hemaline said, pacified.

For the first half of the journey to Honeoye
Falls, the madman leaned back in the front seat
of the Ford, eyes half closed and puffing at
the cigar the trooper had given him. George

The Art of Orpheus 223

watched him narrowly. No one could tell when
the smoldering fires w r ould flare up again.

Suddenly Hemaline swore and held up the
cigar he had been smoking. He grabbed the
trooper with his other hand so that the car
swerved and nearly left the road.

"Do you know what this is?' ; he shrieked.
"It's a bomb and liable to explode any minute!"

He threw it into a ditch and turned to watch
it as the car sped on.

"Yes, sir," he continued, the hard shrill note
of madness strong in his voice. "A cop in
Rochester was smoking one of these things in
front of the Chamber of Commerce Building
and the damn cigar exploded and blew his head
off which they found the next day five blocks
away on the banks of the Genesee River ! It's a
bomb, a bomb and

His voice broke into a shriek. His head
wagged from side to side.

The trooper reached into his pocket and drew
forth another.

"This one is all right, Lew," he assured him.
"This is the kind Caruso smokes."

"Caruso!" Lew scoffed, "I can sing better
than Caruso. So can you. Can't you?'

"Oh, yes," George agreed.

22 4 Grey Riders

"Well," the maniac suggested, "let's sing."

They sang. Not even the most tolerant critic
would have called it music, but it soothed Lew.
The louder the volume of sound, the calmer he
became. He slipped one arm over the shoulders
of the trooper and with his face close to George's
devoted himself to cooperating in unimaginable

The wild, strained look faded out of his face.
He leaned back and with mouth wide open,
gave vent to sounds such as an innocent country-
side had never known. George sang with
him. Lew refused a solo part. Mile after mile
they traveled and the fragments of the rav-
ished "Suwannee River" was strewn in their

The faces of both were red. The trooper's
throat grew sore. Yet they continued to mourn
together for the "old folks at home." Once
George suggested they rest. Instantly Hemaline
insisted that he be permitted to get out of the
car. He raved that he would not stay with any-
one who did not like good music. So they sang
some more.

They reached the outskirts of Honeoye Falls.
Little children ran shrieking home as they heard
them approaching. Only once the chant slack-

The Art of Orpheus 225

ened. Hemaline paused, drew a long breath,
turned to the gasping trooper and said :

"We're corning into town. Now let's sing
loud so's they all can hear us."

They sang loud. Dogs in back yards tugged
at their chains and protested to high heaven.
Traffic drew close to the curb and gave them as
much of the street as possible. When the trooper
lagged, Hemaline encouraged him. When they
finished the "Suwannee River," straightway
they began it over again. They sang, inter-
minably, intolerably.

So Trooper George of the State Police, by the
art of Orpheus, pacified the beast that dwelt in
the brain of Lew Hemaline. The spell of the
song they had chanted still lingered when he
took his meek prisoner into the office of Dr.
Fleming. Examination over, the physician took
the trooper aside.

"You must be crazy yourself," he said in a
low voice, "to try to bring this man in single-
handed. He's bad clear through. It's only bull
luck that has got you this far with him. One
little slip and he'll kill you if you're alone with

"No," replied George hoarsely. ; 'Not while
I can sing he won't. I can handle him alone."


226 Grey Riders

At the insistence of the physician, the chief of
police of Honeoye Falls accompanied them to
Rochester. Hemaline would not sit beside him
on the rear seat. Neither would he permit the
interloper to join in their further renditions of
the " Suwannee River." All alone in the tonneau
sat the chief of police and suffered.

Still apparently convinced he was going to
jail, Hemaline permitted himself to be taken
into the hospital for the insane at Rochester.
Only once did he exhibit violence. That was
when an indiscreet doctor in the office asked
him if he had ever been committed to an asylum

It took four men five minutes to subdue him
and fifteen more to rearrange the furniture.
Then the officials decided to withdraw the ques-
tion. In a whisper all that was left of his
voice George told his charge good-bye.

"I'll never forget you," the madman said.
"You've been a friend to me. You can sing
better'n anybody except me."

"But as for you ! " he snarled, turning upon the
wholly innocent police chief, "if I ever get out of
here, I'm gonna kill you !

i >



ON an afternoon in June, 1920, Sergeant, now
Captain, D. E. Fox and Trooper Thomas Mc-
Quade tracked down and exorcised a ghost;
fought a wildman in his lair; captured two
creatures with the shapes of humans and the
hearts of beasts, and rescued a baby who, in the
six weeks of its life, had had no food but sour
milk and no clothing but newspapers.

All this took place near the placid little town of
Stamford toward whose staid houses the hills of
Delaware County stretch out mothering arms.

Pleasant are the streets of Stamford. An air
of peace and prosperity broods in the shade of the
great trees set upon their curbs. Beyond them
stretches a pastoral landscape of rolling hills and
fat farms.

Such is the background best fitted for a rural
idyll against which Sergeant Fox acted his part

in a drama belonging rightly to ten thousand


228 Grey Riders

years ago. It was in this frame that he and
Trooper McQuade stumbled upon a situation
lifted bodily out of the age of the mammoth and
the flint axe and set down amid the sleek Dela-
ware hills in the year of Our Lord, 1920.

For weeks before the troopers came, farms on
the outskirts of Stamford had been visited over
and over again by a ghost a lachrymose phan-
tom that wailed eerily and stole sour milk left
out for the pigs and, when opportunity offered,
made off with a chicken.

It wasn't an animal, for traps were employed
against it in vain. Therefore, the farmers de-
cided with uneasy stirrings of the hair on their
necks, it was a spirit. Half glimpses caught of a
figure drifting away through the dusk confirmed
this, and more than once in the evening a woman
lifted her eyes from work to window and
screamed at the apparition she saw momentarily

So, through that spring and early summer, the
ghost drifted at twilight through the outskirts of
Stamford, wailing fitfully, while tales of its horror
grew more swiftly than the springing corn.

A few generations earlier, and the townsfolk
would have called upon the village parson to
drive off the unhappy spirit. Instead, this being

The Ghost Catchers 229

the twentieth century, they called for the

George Taylor summoned the grey riders.
Less emotional or harder headed than his neigh-
bors, he did not hold to the ghost theory. But
of this much he was certain:

Something was astray on the countryside that
had no right to be there; a something that wailed
like a sick cat; that fled at the approach of men;
that lived upon small thievings.

Men in his employ had caught distant views
of the creature while they were at work in a
maple grove deep in the heart of the hills. Be-
fore they could summon sufficient courage to rush
it, it had flitted into the woods and vanished.

Others whom Fox and McQuade questioned
told of similar experiences; of the banshee wail
of the thing as it prowled about the out-buildings
at midnight ; of glimpses of a creature that looked
as it fled, like a man, and yet was not a man.

And the troopers, uncertain whether this was
the strangest case that had ever found its way
into the records of the department, or an enor-
mous hoax, set about capturing the phantom
quite as calmly as though they were searching
for a violator of the motor vehicle law.

It was certain that the creature had been seen

230 Grey Riders

on more than one occasion lurking about the
shack in the Taylor sugar grove. This was in a
somber valley set between hills in the depths of
Delaware County's wilderness. For this Fox
and McQuade set out, uncertain whether it
were best to start upon their quest armed with
issue ammunition or silver bullets for their

The macadam gave way to a dirt road and this
to a grass-grown trail leading down to the valley
and the maple grove in which, though it was only
a little past midday, the shadows hung heavy.

The two slipped through this grove as cau-
tiously as Indians and at length came within
sight of the sugar shack standing gaunt and
lonely in the clearing.

A little breeze set the leaves overhead sighing
mournfully, but nothing else stirred. The inte-
rior of the cabin was empty and the weird shape
that had been described to them so often was
nowhere visible.

But as they searched they became aware of a
path running off into the blackness of the deeper
woods scarcely even a path ; merely the shadow
of a track laid over the lush grass and the last
year's leaves.

This they followed. More than once they lost

Trooper and Mount; Parade Dress

The Ghost Catchers 231

it and had to circle like hounds to pick it up
again. Faint as the trail was, it drew them on,
down from the maple grove through underbrush
and swamp to the edge of a sluggish creek flowing
through the valley.

Far above, the Catskill peaks shone golden in
the afternoon sunlight, while they, where they
stood, were in deep shadow. The fitful breeze
running through the leaves and the slow voice of
the water were the only sounds that rose above
their own breathing.

All at once McQuade halted and turned to his

Hear it?" he asked.

What?" demanded Fox with the irritability
of strained nerves.

The trooper was silent for a moment and then

"This ghost chasing is getting my goat," he
confessed. "I thought I heard the darned
thing. Let's go."

Fox in the lead, they pressed forward along
the faint trail. The woodland through which it
threaded was virgin. Its shadowy depths had
held out no inducement to the local explorer.
And yet that wraith of a track ran on through
it and once or twice in damp stretches the men

. .


232 Grey Riders

in grey thought they discerned the impress of
human feet.

At length they came to an open space beside
the creek and halted to rest and war against the
wood flies that sang about their ears. Fox sud-
denly gripped McQuade's arm.

'Listen!" he commanded tensely.

Over the brawl of the stream and the incessant
singing of the flies came another sound; a far-
away, faint, wailing cry.

'Wildcat," said McQuade without conviction.

! ' No," Fox replied, with a forced grin. " Guess
we're on the trail of our ghost, all right."

On through the gloom of the heavy under-
growth, they pressed toward the sound.

All at once, before them, the trees began to thin
out again and Fox, stepping cautiously forward,
found they were coming out on another loop of
the creek.

McQuade saw him stiffen suddenly like a dog
coming to point. Then he nodded dumbly toward
something on the bank across the stretch of
murky water.

"God!" McQuade whispered.

Over the pool at their feet, a bank of shale ran
up to the perpendicular rock above. Where
talus slope met cliff, there gaped a black hole

The Ghost Catchers 233

as though the precipice snarled and, seemingly
from this, came the wailing cry that had drawn
them on.

But it was not this that had inspired Mc-
Quade's exclamation. Something stood on the
shore listening intently; something that might
have been a man, and yet was not; something
with matted hair covering skull and face and with
a shirt in tatters about long, stringy, apelike
arms. Lean legs reached down from shreds of
what had once been a pair of overalls. The
creature's mouth was slack and half open, show-
ing yellow teeth. His little eyes shot suspicious
glances here and there.

Fox gasped. Out of the underbrush came
another creature and stood at the side of the
first. This was, or had once been, a woman.
Rags that had lost all semblance of garments
clung about her. Her face was vacant, brutal
and hideously thin; her hair clotted with burs
and bits of stick.

There in the afternoon sunlight they stood be-
side the stream, a paleolithic man and woman
recreated beneath the gaze of two members of the
police of New York State. Above, where the
door of their home gaped, the crying continued.
The man turned and his teeth shone in a snarl.

2 34 Grey Riders

One of the troopers shifted his weight and a stick
broke beneath his foot.

Instantly, as though snapped by a spring, the
strange things across the creek wheeled and
catching sight of McQuade and Fox scrambled
hastily up the bank to their cave, uttering
squawks and gabbles of alarm.

Fighting back their horror, the men in grey
followed. Throaty snarling mingled with the
wails as the men clawed their way up toward
the cave's mouth, and then adding immeasur-
ably to the hideousness the wild animal noises
were supplemented by perfectly plain and en-
tirely unprintable words.

Fox pulled himself up to the mouth of the
cave first, and the stench of the place rolled out
like a blast of heat from a furnace to meet him.
Here were humans who had lost their human
tradition and had not assumed the decent con-
ventions of the lower animals.

The sergeant had no time to debate the par-
ticulars of their throwback, though, for the male-
thing that dwelt in the den was upon him,
screeching with rage, teeth and long sharp
fingers searching for any hold whatever.

For a few minutes, the filthy place was filled
with a whirl of fight. McQuade, following Fox,

The Ghost Catchers 235

gripped the woman and held her back from the
struggle, though she bit and clawed as well as
she might for the newspaper bundle she held in
her arms. Meanwhile the sergeant was having all
he could do to beat down and overcome a madman
who fought with a catlike fury and with that ani-
mal's complete disregard for the rules of combat.

At length, the bearded, frenzied creature was
on his back on the floor with Fox sitting gingerly
on his chest while McQuade made him fast. They
dragged their prisoners out from the cave, devoid

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