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WI^ LBVINGTON COMFORT
Routledge Rides Alone
ROUTLEDGE STARTED AT HER VOICE AND THE TOUCH OF HER HAND
BY WILL LEVINGTON COMFORT
WITH FRONTISPIECE IN COLORS
BY MARTIN JUSTICE
A. L. BURT COMPANY
PUBLISHERS NEW YORK
BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
Published March, 1910
TO THE LADY OF COURAGE
WHOM I MARRIED
IN CHEER STREET, LONDON f
MOTHER INDIA Is SAID TO BE QUIVERING WTH
HATRED FOR HER WHITE CHILD, THE BRITISH
THE BAFFLING INDIAN MYSTERY Is DISCUSSED BY
FOUR MEN WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIRST TO
SOLVE IT 42
ROUTLEDGE RELATES HOW A MASTER CAME DOWN
FROM THE GOODLY MOUNTAINS TO FIND His CHELA
IN THE BURNING PLAINS f i
ROUTLEDGE CONTEMPLATES THE PAST IN THE MIDST
OF A SHADOW FORECAST BY LARGE EVENTS 65
ROUTLEDGE STEPS OUT SPIRITEDLY IN THE yoG TO
FIND His FRIENDS, AND ENCOUNTERS THE HATE OF
A GRIM AND TERRIBLE TRADITION Is TOUCHED UPON
FOR THE RELATION IT BEARS TO THE TREACHERY IN
ROUTLEDGE BEGS FOR A STIMULANT THE STUFF
THAT SlNGS IN THE VEINS OF KlNGS IO4
THE SUPERLATIVE WOMAN EMPTIES HER HEART OP
ITS TREASURES FOR THE OUTCAST, AND THEY PART
AT CHARING CROSS no
MR. JASPER is INFORMED THAT MOTHER INDIA
CAUSED NAPOLEON'S DEFEAT, AND THAT FAMINES
ARE NOT WITHOUT VIRTUE 124
A SINGULAR POWER Is MANIFEST IN THE LITTLE
HUT AT RYDAMPHUR, AND ROUTLEDGE PERCEIVES
His WORK IN ANOTHER WAR 139
A HAND TOUCHES THE SLEEVE OF THE GREAT FRIEZE
COAT IN THE WINTRY TWILIGHT ON THE BUND AT
SHANGHAI i^ R
JOHNNY BRODIE OF BOOKSTALLS is INVITED TO
CHEER STREET, AND BOLTS, PERCEIVING A CON
SPIRACY FORMED AGAINST HIM 164
JERRY CARDINEGH OFFERS A TOAST TO THE OUTCAST
AND Is COMPELLED TO DRINK ALONE 175
ROUTLEDGE is ASSURED OF A WOMAN'S LO TF E -
THOUGH HE SHOULD LEAD THE ARMIES OF THE
WORLD TO BURN LONDON 187
NOREEN CARDINEGH APPEARS AFTER MIDNIGHT IN
THE BILLIARD-ROOM OF THE Imperial AN INEFFABLE
CERTAIN CIVILIANS SIT TIGHT WITH KUROKI, WHILE
THE BLOOD-FLOWER PUTS FORTH HER BRIGHT
LITTLE BUDS.. 211
FEENEY AND FINACUNE ARE PRIVILEGED TO "READ
THE FIERY GOSPEL WRIT IN BURNISHED Rows OF
BINGLEY BREAKS AWAY FROM THE CAMP OF THE
CIVILIANS TO WATCH "THE LEAN-LOCKED RANKS
Go ROARING DOWN TO DIE." 232
NOREEN CARDINEGH, ENTERING A JAPANESE HOUSE
AT EVENTIDE, is CONFRONTED BY THE VISIBLE
THOUGHT-FORM OF HER LOVER 243
ROUTLEDGE Is SEEN BY NoREEN CARDINEGH AT AN
EXCITING MOMENT IN WHICH SHE DARE NOT CALL
His NAME 255
ROUTLEDGE, BROODING UPON THE MIGHTY SPEC
TACLE OF A JAPANESE BIVOUAC, TRACES A WORLD-
WAR TO THE LEAK IN ONE MAN'S BRAIN 266
ROUTLEDGE STRIKES A CONTRAST BETWEEN THE
JAPANESE EMPEROR AND THE JAPANESE FIGHTING-
MAN, WHILE OKU CHARGES INTO A BLIZZARD OF
ROUTLEDGE ENCOUNTERS THE "HORSE-KILLER" ON
THE FIELD OF LIAOYANG, AND THEY RACE FOR THE
UNCENSORED CABLE AT SHANHAIKWAN 285
THE GREAT FRIEZE COAT AND THE WOMAN JOURNEY
DOWN THE COAST TOGETHER, AND CROSS INDIA TO
THE LEPER VALLEY 303
Routledge Rides Alone
IN CHEER STREET, LONDON
JERRY CARDINEGH, dean of the British word-painters
of war, was just home from China, where he had caught
the Allies in the act of relieving Peking. It had been a
goodly and enticing service, both to watch and to portray,
calling out much of glorious color and tension and peril,
and not enough slaughter to chill the world's apprecia
tion. Cardinegh sat by the fire in his little house in Cheer
Street, London, and was ministered to by his daughter,
Noreen, a heavenly dispensation which the old cam
paigner believed he had earned. A dinner together, just
the two, truly a feast after lean months crossing the
mountains of separation. Then whiskey, glasses, soda,
pipes, tobacco, papers of the afternoon all served by
the dearest of hands. The gray, hard veteran lived,
indeed, the maiden filling his eyes.
Twenty he had left her, and she was twenty still,
but the added fraction of an inch made her look 'very
tall, and startled him. There was a mysterious bloom
under the luminous pallor of her skin; fathoms more
added to the depth of her eyes, and a suggestion of
volume to her voice. Nature and heritage had retouched
the girlish lips in color and curve, widened the tender
Irish eyes, added glow and amplitude to the red-gold
10 Routledge Rides Alone
hair. . . . There had only been two women in the
world for Jerry Cardinegh, and the other was a memory
" And who do you suppose is coming to-night,
deere ? " he asked. There was a silver lining of the
Tyrone tongue to all that Jerry said, but it was so subtle
and elusive as wholly to defy English letters, save pos
sibly that one word " deere " which he rolled fondly for
Noreen, and here and there in the structure of a sentence.
" Some of your war-men to relieve Peking again
to-night? Who, father?"
" Just one. The best and weirdest of them all. He's
on the way home to the States. You met him in Tokyo
five years since after the Japanese had whipped China,
and the Triple Alliance had stepped in to gobble the
The girl stirred the fire in the grate thoughtfully for
an instant, then started up in a glad, impatient way.
"The same. Now, that's queer after five years I
mean, the Japanese title of address ' Routledge-san.' '
" That's what I used to call him, and I always think
of him so. I think of him a great deal. His work in the
Review makes me. He is one of very few whom I could
welcome gladly this first home-night with you, father."
She spoke with the old fearless candor that Cardinegh
" So you think of Routledge a great deal ? And
why, deere ? "
" He sees deeply. His work is illuminating to me.
Sometimes I think of him sitting back of his work and
smiling because he knows so much that he dares not set
In Cheer Street, London 11
down. I think Routledge-san loves Asia as you, as
we love Ireland, father."
" You could not think about a better man, Noreen,"
said Cardinegh. " And so he knows a lot that he doesn't
write for the Review? Well, maybe so. ... He
talks quite as well as he writes when the spell is on him.
I don't know a man who can clear a mind of all save
what he's tossing into it like Routledge. And the
words seem to twist and work their way deep like
burrs when he leans forward with an idea."
Noreen smiled. " And why has he not been back to
London in all these years ? "
" You have said it because he loves Asia.*
" But he has not been back to America ? "
" Routledge is quite as much at home in London as in
Philadelphia, his native city. He has worked for the
American press as well as for the English. You see, he
needed us because England has something doing more
or less all the time in the field. In fact, since Japan
took the Chinese Port Arthur in '94, there has been
plenty for one man to do in following American and
British arms Cuba, South Africa, the Philippine Archi
pelago, and now China again. But I have met him off
and on around the world. They are good men of our
tribe, Noreen, strong, brave, and wise men, but Rout-
ledge, of them all, has warped his craft deepest into my
slip, so to speak. I love the lad."
She was moving about among the shadows of the
sitting-room a touch of her hand here and there, uncon
scious preparation, probably, for the guest, and a queer
tension in her eyes. It was nine, and a gusty winter
night, when Cardinegh admitted the world-wanderer and
12 Routledge Rides Alone
took his great frieze coat. Noreen watched from the
far-end of the hall. Routledge spoke low and laughingly,
and caught the elder man by the hand and shoulder. A
sense of exhilaration in full sweep dilated the veins of the
girl, and with it, too, was a certain chill of dread, some
nameless portent a blend of joy, and its price in pain,
all in that first glimpse. It was like the prelude of a
song, or the prologue of a story, which contains an
element of each emotion in the appeal of the whole. . . .
" And this is Noreen the little Noreen whom I once
dared to call my Japanese sweetheart. Why, it's water
out of the rock to see you again, Miss Noreen! . . .
Jerry, the years have been consummate artists here in
Cheer Street while we've been away growing old."
Noreen heard herself saying, " I have felt close to
you a great many times, Routledge-san, all wrapped
up, as in a blanket, in those fat Review columns under
"Tis true," said Cardinegh. "We're all flawful
imitations beside you, son."
" I was thinking how good, how ripping good,
' Routledge-san ' sounds again," the guest declared.
" It's like a song of home heard from a passing ship."
Before the fire, the two correspondents unshipped
once more under the guns of the Taku forts, for the
listening girl, and followed the Pei-ho, that roiled drain
of a bitter land, up to the Tientsin wall.
" Routledge deserted us that day went back to his
own countrymen the American column," said the father.
Jerry wanted the story told for Noreen, and his
memories challenged and animated Routledge. " Yes,
I wanted to see my boys again," he acknowledged. " I
In Cheer Street, London 13
had one good look at them in Cuba, under Lawton,
who was killed a year or so later, under my eyes, on
the banks of the Maraquina River in Luzon. The Philip
pines was a rapid, pretty service, but a service of detach
ments. I was eager to see how the boys worked in
numbers. The American troops are nervous, you know,
a little too highly evolved to be atoms. They live for a
higher game in their country commerce and inventions.
Some time the nation will rise even to a better growth
than that I mean, to the spiritual evolution.
" The boys were mostly ill in China, thin-blooded from
the tropical Philippines. The column was full of fever,
coughing and cursing a little. They shook in the chill
damps of the nights up Tientsin way. . . . Poor
chaps, but it was good to hear them talk, before the gray
old walls of Tientsin that night when the world was
hanging to the cable-ends for the flash, ' battle.' I rode
along the huddled column and heard Texas, Indiana, Nob
Hill and the Bronx, Halsted Street and Back Bay all
from the shadows on the ground, that breathed tired
oaths and shivered in the drive of the fine, chilled rain."
Jerry took up the picture excitedly : " Do you remem
ber when the spray of sparks shook out from behind the
wall? the party in charge of the fireworks was trying
the night to see if it were dark enough. Then followed
a succession of booming crashes. It was as if the
plain was drawn tight as a drum-head, and they dropped
comets on it. ... The Chinos got the Russian
range about that time, and left open sores in the snaky
Slav line. And I want to know, Routledge, did you hear
the high-pitched scream from the Japanese when they
snatched the glory of the lead? . . . Ah, we'll hear
from those brown dwarfs again ! "
14 Routledge Rides Alone
" I think so," said Routledge. " They ran forward
like hounds, snapped at each other and gave tongue like
a pack closing in for the kill. Yes, I remember, and then
the fire broke out behind the wall in the native city, and
the sky took on the red the red of an Indian blanket!
It shone red on the faces of the boys from the States.
. . . Miss Noreen, you listen large-eyed as Des-
" Tell me more about your boys," she whispered.
" The trumpet screeched ( forward/ and the column
quickened into life," Routledge explained, " sprang like
magic into formation and swept past, panting, laughing,
shouting in the rain. God, pity them ! They were good
boys good boys, all. I wish they had all come back
with their dreams all turned true. . . . They didn't
know what was ahead, except they had seen the blind
gray stones of the wall through the dusk at the end of
the day's march. They didn't know what the fight was
about, but they ran to break the wall, gladly, against the
rock of centuries into fire and steel and the yellow hate
from all the hells. It meant nothing to them after the
wall was broken. That's the queer, ugly part of it.
The man in the ranks always gets the worst end and
so pitifully often doesn't even have a sentiment to en
thuse over. He's apt to fall in a fight against as good
friends as he has anywhere on this spinning planet, and
what meaning has the change of national boundaries
to his mother ? " Routledge was thoughtful for a
moment. . . .
" It seems hard to use grown-ups like that men,
white men, with spines at right-angles from the snake's,
and a touch of eternity in their insides somewhere. Poor
In Cheer Street, London 15
devils, getting the worst of it that's always the wayl
. . . I watched the tail of the column swaying by
watched the last fragments blotted up in the rain and
the night Already, in a red mist on the Tientsin Wall
the dance of death had begun."
Noreen's eyes were filled with mysteries and misti
ness. As in his work, Routledge now suggested to her
volumes unsaid. Her heart sensed the great wealth of
the man. She felt an inner expansion. Pity was almost
a passion in his face; and there was hate, too hate for
the manipulations of the rulers of the earth, which drove
forward that poor column cursing and coughing in the
rain. She saw it all as if she had been at his side that
night the fire-lit field running with the reddest blood
of earth. And across the world she seemed to see the
faces of the maids and mothers of these boys faces
straining toward them, all white with tragedy. And
more, she seemed to see for an instant the Face of the
high God, averted from His images, because they were
obsessed in that profane hour by the insane devils of
war. . . . The profile of Routledge fascinated her.
He had spoken lightly as he was accustomed to speak
before men to whom war was a career but the aroused
girl saw in his eyes, tightly drawn against the lamp
light, a mystic's rebellion against the inhumanity of
material power. About his eyes and graven entire upon
the tropically embrowned face was a look impossible to
the men her life had known,
" I was tangled up in a reserve of Russian infantry
afterward," Routledge concluded. " Jerry, you've heard
the Russians sing? "
16 Routledge Rides Alone
" Aye, at Plevna and before, son."
" It's a thing worth living long to hear wild and
mournful as a Siberian winter. . . . This reserve
roared its song as it bored into Tientsin a song of
snow-bound hills and ice-bound hearts poor muzhiks!
And a British battery, tons of charging steel and brass,
thundered thfc bass ! "
So between them, the two correspondents covered
the story of that one fight in the night on the way to
lift the lid from the legations at Peking. A messenger
from the Witness office at this . point brought certain
cable copies for Cardinegh to comment upon for an
editorial paragraph or two. He went into his study.
" Routledge-san, do you mind if I ask you to talk
more ? "
Noreen edged her chair closer like a little girl antici
pating a story.
" Such listening as yours," he laughed, " would make
a Napoleon disclose his plans for the next morning's
battle. It would bring out the best of any man's
tales. Ask me anything that I know and it is yours."
" Always when the other correspondents come
here to Cheer Street and nearly all of them call to see
father I have made them all tell me about the bravest
deed the bravest man they have ever seen or known in
all their services. I think I know them all but yours."
" And what do you think my bravest man will be
like, you collector of heroisms ? "
" That's just the point, Routledge-san. I think yours
won't be a man of merely brute courage. That's why
I am so anxious to hear."
" In this case I am like one of the messengers to
In Cheer Street, London 17
Job I alone remain to tell you. I have never told any
one, but sometimes it occurs to me to write the story of
Rawder for the few who care to understand. He is my
property, Miss Noreen, a humble martyr with a mighty
soul like Saint Paul's.
" He is a man born to suffer, as all the great are,
who crucify themselves in various ways to lessen the
sufferings of commoner men. I have never felt the same
about any other man. There is something quite miracu
lous about our relation. Accidentally, as it appears, I
have met him somewhere every second year for a double
decade the last time in Hong Kong this trip home. I
surely shall see him again ? Does it sound foolish to you
this idea of being destined to meet a certain some one
from time-to-time somewhere until the End ? "
" No. I want to hear it all, just as it comes to you,
with all your thoughts about it please. Father will be
busy for a half-hour in his study. I think I shall
Routledge leaned back with a cigarette, which with
him was only an occasional indulgence. " As I say, I
meet bim every second year in my wanderings, and I
am always healed from the jangle of the world and
world-politics after a day with Rawder," he resumed,
watching her. " He had a strangely unattractive face
as a boy slow with that dullness which sometimes goes
with the deaf, and a moist, diffused pallor that suggests
epilepsy. His original home was away up in a New
England village, restricted as a mortise-box in its thought
and heart. The Rawders were a large, brief family
six or seven children the whole in harrowing poverty.
Certain of the littler ones were hare-lipped ; all were the
18 Routledge Rides Alone
fright of other children. I never liked New England.
. . . I can see yet the gray, unpainted house of the
Rawders, high on a barren hill against the gray, bitter
sky rags in the broken window-panes ; voices in the
house that you could not forget, yet loathed to remem
ber. . . . All died in a year except this boy who
became my friend. All met the Reaper without pomp or
heraldry, the funerals overlapping, so that the village
was dazed, and the name of Rawder stands to-day for
Old Mortality at his worst. So there was left only this
one, a strange, wordless type of Failure in the eyes of
" He was a little older than I but a sort of slave of
mine. I see it now. I had everything that good family
and parental wisdom could bless a boy with, and he had
nothing. That I pitied him seemed to warm his soul
with gratitude. He expected so little and was willing to
give so much. I wish I had understood better then.
. . . He aspired to the ministry, but his ordination
was long denied him. He was second in his class after
years of study in a theological school, earned with incred
ible penury, but his trial sermon or something about him
shocked the community. I know now that it was a
wider, gentler piety. About this time I had come in
from my first trip around the world. Unable to get a
church, he asked for a foreign mission, the smallest
mission in the loneliest, most dreadful land. His answer
was a whisper through the assembly of preachers, chal
lenging his sanity. Forgive them, as he did, Miss
Noreen. I could not have fully understood the features
of his tragedy, but I remember that when I parted from
him that time, there was a vague desolation in my heart.
In Cheer Street, London 19
I could not forget the deep, troubled eyes nor the heavy
homely face, all scourged with harshness from a babe,
a veritable magnet of evil fortunes.
" Back from England again, I encountered him in
Boston under the banners and torches of the Salvation
Army. He was thinner, deeper-eyed, richer-voiced, and
all animate with love for his race. For the first time I
felt the real spell of the man. It was something in his
eyes, I think something that you see in the eyes of a
little child that is dying without pain."
" Visions," she whispered.
" Yes, that is the word. Some God-touched thing
about the man in the streets of Boston. But I am making
my story long, Miss Noreen. I did not know that I had
all these details. It has become rather an intimate fancy
of mine this story."
" Please tell me all. I think it is to be the story of a
" Yes, the years to come will end it so. ... Two
years ago, I was riding with Tarrant's cavalry in southern
Luzon when I discovered Rawder among the troopers.
It was in the midst of a blistering march of twelve hours
from San Pedro Macati to Indang, without a halt for
coffee or bacon. He did not see me, and I could not
get to him until the column broke formation. What he
must have suffered climbing Fool's Hill as a regular
cavalry recruit ! There was a fight in the afternoon, and
the column was badly jumbled. Every fourth man stayed
behind with three horses and his own. The rest ad
vanced, dismounted, into action. Rawder was with the
fighting force. I caught a glimpse of him during the
early stress of things. There was just as much iron in
20 Routledge Rides Alone
his jaw as in Tarrant's, whose valor had vibrated across
the Pacific. Even so, I heard a non-commissioned officer
abuse him like a cur God knows why, unless it was
because Rawder did not shoot to kill. That night when
we entered Indang, I could not find him. He was not in
the formation next morning. Tarrant rode on without
him. Apparently, I was the only one who cared. I
think he was regarded much the same in the cavalry as
he was by the Methodist conference and before the com
mittee on foreign missions.
" The next week Tarrant's column struck war a bit
of real war. I found all that archipelago-service inter
esting, hit-and-run campaigning, with all the human
interest of bigger lines. We were caught on a sunken
jungle-trail and fired upon from three sides. Small in
numbers, but that fight was of the sort which makes
the mess-talk of English regiments for decades, and
their flag decorations. I never saw a bit of action at
closer range. It was even shown to me the peculiar
way men open their mouths when struck about the belt.
I heard souls speak as they passed strange, befuddled
utterances, from brains and lips running down, but full of
meaning sayings of great and memorable meaning. I
saw Tarrant stand for thirty seconds under the first
volleys, dismayed in the yellow glare. There is no sight
for a soldier so terrible as a glimpse of havoc in the face
of his chief, but he righted quickly enough. For the
moment the men tried to cover themselves in the soiled
short straws of their religion.
" It was a voice in the jungle that had startled
Tarrant. I tell you the whole story, Miss Noreen,
because of that voice in the jungle. The natives were
In Cheer Street, London 21
led by a white man, who wore the khaki of an American
soldier. It was this white leadership which had herded
Tarrant's column for slaughter in that hot sink of the
jungle. The cry of ' Rawder ! Rawder ! ' went up from
the American command. Something in the voice troubled
me just for a second with the fear that Rawder might
have run mad at the last. . . . Listen, I think there
is no hate in the world so baleful and destructive as that
aroused by a deserter who leads the enemy against his
own people. And this man led a black force of Malays !
. . . The natives retired finally, and the white man
with them. An Indiana soldier was dying in the sun
when all was still. I heard him say wearily, ' Gawd, if
I could only have killed Rawder, hell would have been
a cinch for me ! '
" That's how they hated him that day. The story of
Rawder, the deserter, went around the world. It had
the eternal grip of interest of a scapegoat who turns into
a fire-brand. Manila sent column after column of infan
try into the Indang country and down below to the
Camarines, but the renegade was not to be captured just
" I continued to ride with Tarrant for awhile after
that. He found action when there was any ; moreover, I
felt that the real story of Rawder had not been written.
He was big to me, and I could not believe the voice from
the jungle was his. Tarrant was ordered with his troop
and two others, dismounted, to Minday, a little island