Изображения страниц



Scraps of Yellow Paper

HEN Ben Gates was drafted, and departed with his contingent for the training camp, he as much about things outside the city as the average man knows about the fourth dimension. He was city-born, city-reared. His world was one of pavements, running water in pipes, a fair amount of work for a given wage, and as much pleasure as was possible, all within his sphere. He was not by nature narrow; his horizon was consistent with the walls wherein he worked and dwelt, and the streets which he trod, and even the limited scope of his playgrounds. He was but twentyfour then, and twenty-four, always pardonable, has its own to learn.

Like many of his companions, he looked upon his time of service not as a patriotic duty, but as a thing compulsory, which must be endured. It required less than a month to modify this opinion; he had half changed it in two; another month, and what he had looked upon with passive patience was an absolute pleasure. The cosmopolitan atmosphere of the training camp gripped him, gradually metamorphosed him. All about him were husky fellows from the big outdoors, hammer wielders and plow pushers, rather than pen pushers and adding machine thumpers, and he found. himself experiencing a half concious desire to be like them; he, Ben Gates, clerk in the railroad offices, desiring even half heartedly, to be like the hicks and rubes, he had, three months before, looked down upon from his pinnacle of metropolitan altitude with scorn and levity. Yet it was true.

When the "Big Affair" was over, Sergeant Gates came back to his home city. He had a small red scar upon his right breast, another just under his right shoulder blade. Between these scars lay the course of a Mauser bullet, which had passed clean through his lung, and gone its way, leaving no apparent bad effects beyond a two months' stay in a hospital and another month of convalescence. This was one of three vivid memories he had of life over there. The others were of a buddy he had left, and a girl he had looked down upon from the deck of his departing transport as she warped out of her berth at St. Nazaire.

The pairing off of urbane, loquacious Ben Gates and uncommunicative, mountain-bred Pat Gorman had merely been one of the inexplicable leveling incidents of the war. In but one character


istic were the two alike; they were workers. Gorman's striking trait was his tactiturnity. He talked of the past not at all beyond admitting that he had been a "wiggle-tail miner in the motherlode region." His definition of his occupation had been vague and was not fully comprehended by Gates. When Gorman talked at all it was more of the active present than of the future. Only once had Gates heard him say anything about the days ahead. This had been on the night before he stood in the way of an exploding shell.

[ocr errors]

"When this shindig is over, partner," he had volunteered to Gates, "and you and me get back, we're goin' up to my dad's place and rest up. It's up in the pine country, in God's country." Gates had agreed, but knowing his companion, had not pressed for details.

The third vivid memory was of the girl. Trivial as the incident had seemed, brief as was the time they had seen each other, she had indelibly stamped Gates' memory. It was when he, with his comrades, stood at the rail, watching the slipping of the moorings which would send them voyaging safely homeward. She had accompanied some wounded soldiers to the ship, and when they had been placed aboard had returned to the dock, where she stood watching the men above her.

some one.

She stood alone, as if waiting for She did not speak to the men above, nor they to her, till, noting her homesick expression Gates called, "Come on sister, there's room aboard, and if they won't give you a ticket we'll stow you away."

She did not reply for a moment, but her expression changed. Her wide set, brown eyes narrowed, and at first appeared inscrutable, then changed to bantering brilliance, only to be momentarily clouded by that look of longing which had forced Gates to speak to her.

"I'd like to alright, partner," she had returned with a smile, "but it can't be done. I'll be over later. So long." She might have said more, but a blast from the steamer's siren drowned her voice and when the roar subsided a joyous pandemonium broke from the throats of the soldiers. They were going home!

Gates remembered her as a rather tall girl, whose form was given to angles rather than to curves. Subconsciously he compared her with Pat Gorman, but Pat's hair had been flaming, hers was a

sort of rusty red. Pat's face had been thoroughly freckled, hers bore but a few, and these upon her slightly uptilted nose. Her chin was square like Pat's, but where his forehead had been high and wide hers was low and broad. The great difference was in their eyes. Pat's had been deep blue, hers were brown, but it was their deep, indefinable expression which impressed him, their manner of responding to her changing moods that made her image reassert itself before his own eyes whenever he thought of women. He had seen her less than ten minutes, had spoken one sentence to her, had received only one reply; yet of his three memories, she was the most striking.

Gates came back from the war weighing one hundred and eighty pounds, thirty more than when he had gone. He was as brawny as a hod-carrier, tanned as a farm hand, and his eyes were as clear as the skies in summer. It was with a sense of depression that he approached before his old employer, the G. F. A. of the N. D. & W. Railroad. His place had been held open for him, and he resumed it the following day.

Keeping fit in the army was one thing, in town another. Gates found the task of getting his exercise at baths, gymnasiums, or on the streets to be irksome. He was galled at the uselessness, the futility of it all. It was a waste of what he had come to term productive energy. He began to neglect his exercise, but not his work. The result was a flabbiness and loss of weight. With cold weather came the first twinges of a pain in the pierced lung; before spring he had developed a cough. His work no longer interested him, though in former years. it had been his one ambition. Gradually a feeling of helplessness overwhelmed him. He knew but two things, soldiering and clerking. He could not stick to the latter occupation, and he would not. again attempt the former, except in the event of a national emergency.

One foggy April day as Gates stepped from the elevator on his way to lunch, he almost bumped against Captain Crane. Crane had been Gates' regimental surgeon, and was still at the post. Gripping Gates' hand the doctor eyed him with critical doubt before he spoke. "Young man, what is the matter with you? Last time I saw you I had ambitions of using you to strip Dempsey of his laurels. Now you look as if you held a furlough from the nearest undertaker. Stiffen up! What's wrong, man?"

Unconsciously Gates thrust back his shoulders and smiled. "It's too much indoors and lack of exercise," replied the former soldier. "Captain, I used to think this the finest little spot on the earth. Now I don't know what has happened, overtrained while in the service, perhaps. I am going back, and feel as if I couldn't stem the current, take the grade."

"Going back, take the grade!" snapped the captain. "At your age! Damn it man, men of my age don't go back unless they wish to. Come here, let's talk this over." He gripped Gates by the arm and drew him aside from the moving throng in the corridor. Still holding his arm, he scrutinized Gates professionally.

"Damn it," he exploded, "what you need is work; not humping yourself over a desk, trying to bayonet a line of figures with a pen, but man's work, outside work and sunshine. Push a wheelbarrow, pitch hay, dig ditches, do anything that will make muscle, and cause your body to run right. Get out of here.' Then the memory that Gates had been wounded caused the surgeon to pause in his tirade. He questioned Gates about the wound.

"That accounts for most of it," he announced when Gates had narrated fully upon the subject. "You simply must get out."

"But what can I do outside?" Gates spread his hands in protest. "All I know is my work here. I'd starve at anything else. I—"

"Well, starve if it comes to that," interrupted the surgeon. "You'll die of T. B. if you remain here. Starvation, from my point of view, would be preferable. Let's see." The surgeon studied. "Would you take a job in the forest service?"

Gates replied that he would take anything that would offer a living and at the same time afford him the opportunity of remaining outside the city.

"I think it can be arranged," said Dr. Crane. "Glover, of the service is a friend of mine. I was just on my way to his office. Have a lunch appointment with him. Come along, and while we eat we can talk it over." Before Gates fully realized what was happening he was again in the elevator, ascending to the top floor, where the offices of the Forestry Service were located.

"Manna from heaven," exclained the forester, even before Crane had fully explained Gates' presence. "We've a place for you. We want men of your type, ex-service men, who know discipline, and how to use a gun if necessary. Cobb of the San Bruno Reserve phoned not an hour ago that Nelson, the patrol on the upper San Bruno, had quit

abruptly. His only explanation is that there are spirits in those mountains. Tush! Nelson was due for a drunk. He had to have an explanation for leaving so suddenly. May we depend on you, Mr. Gates?" The answer was a grateful affirmative, though Gates himself held some doubts as to the successful outcome of this new venture.

Gates resigned his place with the railroad that afternoon. The next day he received his appointment as ranger in the San Bruno Reserve. Two days later, from the jolting automobile, steadily climbing toward the east, he looked out upon a verdant, virgin timbered panorama of peak, and rugged ridge and deep


"Back in the pine country." Pat Gorman's words came to him. "I wonder if his pine country were anything like this?" Gates mused. "I wish he were along."

At Blue Slide he met Cobb, the chief ranger. Before leaving the city Gates had arranged to purchase Nelson's horses and outfit. They had been left in Cobb's charge, Nelson being in no mood to tarry for the sale of his equipment.

"Nelson was a weak sister," said Cobb in reply to a question from Gates as to the reason for his predecessor's sudden departure. "Said there were spirits in the mountains. Said they kept dogging him wherever he went. Said they wouldn't let him sleep at night, kept his horses scared. Like as not what he heard, for he says he saw nothing, was a bear or a mountain lion. There were plenty of those there. What Nelson meant was spiritus fomentus. He's likely full of them by now. We'll leave here in the morning if you'll be ready. It's the time of year when we have to be on the lookout for fires, and there's nobody on the Upper San Bruno till you get there."

Unaccustomed as he was to the saddle Gates found the twenty odd miles over the mountain trail tortuous. It was dark when he and Cobb reached the camp which Nelson had vacated. Stiff and saddle sore, Gates tumbled from his horse; assisted in the kindling of a fire, then flopping to earth he was asleep in less than half a minute. Next he had a hazy recollection of being roused by Cobb, of partaking of supper, and tumbling into his own bed, spread out for him by his chief.

Next morning, though the stiffness had not left him he felt a sense of exhilaration from the rare cool air. Hurriedly dressing he stepped from the log cabin to take his first look at the surroundings which were to be his home till the snows of next winter drove him to lower altitudes. The one room cabin stood at the edge of a pine circled

[ocr errors]

meadow which sloped to the bank of a brawling stream. All about him stretched a world primitive to Gates. High ridges, broken by granite crags, and timbered densely on their evener surfaces, rose on either side. Through a gap afforded by the lower canyon he saw what appeared to be an endless vista of pine clad ridges, softly billowing, and blue in the distance. Strolling to the other side of the cabin he looked up at a sheer cliff of gray granite, rising a hundred feet, its summit half hidden by a dense growth of brush, which extended up a gentle slope till another crag rose bare and gray.

At the foot of the lower cliff lay a small pond, and from it a tiny stream ran to meet the creek a hundred yards away. Here was a perpetual source of water, fed from subterranean currents beneath the cliff. Gates fell to his hands and knees and drank deeply. He resolved that here was the fountain of youth, and from it he would drink daily, at each dawn, or oftener, as occasion might demand. Then he bathed his face and hands in the clear, cold. water. He was watching the horses picketed in the meadow, and feeling like old times when Cobb called him to breakfast. He ate ravenously.

Cobb spent the morning instructing Gates in his routine work; in the afternoon they rode over some of the nearer trails. When they returned to camp Cobb called his headquarters at Blue Slide on the telephone, and received the news of the day. With the telephone at easy reach Gates felt that he was not to be so badly isolated after all. After supper a fire was built before the cabin and the men sat beside it, swapping experiences till late. Just before they were talked out Gates suddenly leapt half erect. His hair seemed to stiffen and rise in fearful manifestation, the skin over his spine actually moved upward like that of a dog raising his hackles. The dark crags reverbrated with a blood curling scream. The black, star-studded sky seemed to split with the sound. It was half human, half feline. Before Gates could reassert his self control it had been repeated.

"What is it?" he asked timorously. "I reckon it's one of Nelson's spirits out for a night of it," said Cobb, smilingly puffing at his pipe and watching Gates. "To be plain with you it's nothing more than a panther serenading us. He's harmless if he's a he. The female of the species is no more dangerous unless she has kittens. Then leave her wide if you meet up with her."

"No wonder Nelson left!" exclaimed Gates. A moment later he added coolly, "I'll stay, though."

"Well, you won't exactly find life

lively here," announced Cobb. "Your nearest neighbor'll be the lookout on Jackson Peak, off to the north, ten miles. Then to the south there is a cattle outfit, man by the name of Mordecai Gorman. Runs under permit, gives no trouble, and takes his stock down to the foothills in winter. Ride over to see him when you get lonesome. He's a good sort as far as I know. I haven't seen much of him though."

"Gorman," repeated Gates. "Gorman. I had a buddy by that name. I heard him say once that his father had a place up in the pine country. Did this Gorman have a son?"

"Not that I know of," was Cobb's answer. "I never heard, but you know we up here can't find out everything. He may have a dozen for all I know. He isn't much of a talker."

"I'll ride over and find out for myself one of these days. Now me for the hay. Good night."

On the following day they rode to the lookout station on Jackson Peak, from where Cobb pointed out to Gates the lay of the land over which he was to patrol. It was late when they arrived at their own camp, and the next morning after giving Gates final instructions, Cobb left for his headquarters at Blue Slide. Though not in the least afraid, Gates felt like a lonely atom in the big primitive sweep of the world around him.

Gates' army experience alone prevented his being an absolute tenderfoot at his new work. He could cook his own food after a fashion, but he knew little of woodcraft, though he was willing and anxious to learn. Although his sole companions in this vast solitude were his two horses, he was not lonesome, nor did he hold any fears of seen or unseen; he was well armed and knew how to use his weapons. To the probable cause of Nelson's hurried departure he gave hardly a thought.

Gates spent the forenoon of Cobb's departure in familiarizing himself with the camp routine. In the afternoon he saddled and set out for a short ride over the nearest trail. Nig, the pack pony, followed like a dog. Often he would lead the way, though never going far in advance of Buck, his companion, ridden by Gates. Already Gates had seen many deer; bear signs abounded; and the mountain lion had screamed nightly. This afternoon Gates had his first momentary fright. Nig had been some distance ahead as they threaded the brushy trail. Suddenly, hearing a loud snort of fear from the pack pony, Gates beheld him dashing back along the trail, ears flat, nostrils wide. He swerved into the brush, passed Gates, and running some distance back on the trail, turned and

slowly came back to the protection of the rear position. Gates, by this time. was having difficulty in forcing his mount ahead. Looking up, he saw a huge brown bear sitting erect in the narrow trail. Gates saw no more of the bear than the first glance. Buck snorted, reared upon his hind legs, almost unseating his rider, and dashed toward camp.

Though he had no fear of the beasts of the forest, Gates now realized that he had much to learn, not the least of which was to sit in his saddle in times of emergency. Several times he had nearly been unseated as Buck dashed madly down the trail for a hundred yards or more. Then he managed to draw the horse to a walk, and to think rationally.

The meadow about the cabin was not


O bird that sweetly singest here
Upon the threshold of the year;
You nothing know of all our ills,
Nor how your merry music thrills
The weary soul that listens long
And feels itself grow young and strong.

And you, O little flower of May,
That lookest up beside the way
With eyes that prove your Soul divine-
You cannot see the love in mine;
You cannot know the joy you give,
The joy that bids your lover live.

'Tis well that nature hides from flower
And bird their beauty and their power,
Or else, like men, they might become
To all the higher instincts dumb;
And bloom and sing for gold-and heal
No wound, no urn of hope unseal.

-Charles Granger Blanden

fenced, so it was necessary to picket the horses. After feeding them their grain that evening Gates saw that they were securely staked for the night. Before retiring he went to them, to reassure himself that they were safe. In the morning he went first thing for a look at the horses. They were picketed safely, but Gates scratched his head and swore incredulously. Nig was where Buck had incredulously. Nig was where Buck had been the night before, and Buck was fastened to Nig's picket pin. A thorough examination convinced him that the horses had been shifted during the night. This must have been accomplished through human agency. Gates searched for footprints, but the lush grass left no tell-tale marks. More mystified and a little fearful, he went back to prepare his breakfast. There might, after all, be some ground for Nelson's leaving. After he had eaten he decided to call Cobb and report the incident. He rang repeatedly, but received no answer. He


became convinced that the line had been put out of commission, probably by the same hand that had shifted the horses. Taking his rifle and revolver, he saddled and set out to locate the break. He found it less than a mile from camp. Where the wire hung low between two trees there it had been cut. Its ends had been bent back, and were tied together by a cord, to which was attached to a small scrap of yellow paper. Riding close, Gates pulled off the paper and read: "You had better beat it while the beating is good." There was no signature, and the message had been printed cleverly.

Now Gates was angry. Was this the work of some practical joker, or of a plain fool, or could it have been done by a man demented? He swung about for a quick survey of the vicinity. A hundred men might have lurked on the timbered slope or in the gulch below. Before he dismounted Gates spliced the broken ends, and put the note and card into his pocket.

Alighting, he tied Buck's reins to a sapling, and scruntinized the ground beneath the wire. Almost his first glance assured him that he had read no spirit writing in the warning note; footprints were plain upon the damp earth. However the sex of the person who had made the footprints was as doubtful as that of the writer of the note. The tracks might have been made by the heavy walking boots of a mountaineering woman, or by the shoes of a small man. Gates judged that they were about number sixes. A wave of angry resentment swept through him. He would not be driven from the upper San Bruno as Nelson had been, by some lunatic or prank-player. He would follow the track, and settle matters at once, if it took a week.

The trail was easy to follow. For some distance it led amidst the underbrush, straight up the slope, as if the culprit, after committing the mischief, had decided to get away by the nearest route. Soon the trail swung to the right, then still more to the right, till it was descending the brushy slope. Gates was impressed by the freshness of the upturned soil, and the plain prints of the boots. Whoever had made these tracks, he mused, must indeed be a novice. The tracks descended the slope abruptly, crossed the pack trail, went beneath the wire less than a hundred yards from where it had been cut, and kept on down the mountain side. The going now became broken and rocky and Gates made slower progress, but he kept the trail and found it still bending to the right. It was some time before he realized that

(Continued on Page 30)


Commuters' Comedy

HE San Francisco Ferry, where the constant hum of machinery ceaselessly vibrates in never ending inundating volume-where the tide of travel ebbs and flows each twenty minutes with clock-like regularity, pouring into and drawing from the Golden City with its human burden.

Huge ferries pour great rivers of human souls upon the waterfront where they seem to break up into little streams and hurry here and there down streets closely lined with office buildings and business houses where they are absorbed even as dry sands absorb the drops of rain; yet with the ebb, the departing boat has gathered its load, poured onto its decks as though a great funnel had been inverted and the city was endeavoring desperately to depopulate itself. This the San Francisco Ferry.

At no other terminal in the world is this great volume of traffic equalledover 46,000,000 people in the year-a stupendous figure, yet each one of this great number of individuals is a human soul, each has its own peculiar personality, each its own troubles, each one intent upon its own thoughts, each one its own joys and sorrows. Wealth rubs elbows with poverty here, Christian and Pagan sit side by side, death chats evenly with life, and capitalist borrows the latest news over the shoulder of labor. What atmosphere you choose to find in this great mill of humanity, that you may find; what kind of incident you choose to see, that you may witness.

In the handling of so vast a bulk of humanity, we may run the full scale of human emotions from comedy to tragedy, then reverse. it and begin again. The many comic situations which have been repeated until shop worn are true enough here, such as that of the family who sat in the waiting room for an hour thinking they were aboard the ferry boat and only learned different when the head of the group asked if it were not "about time for the boat to land," or the little old lady and gentleman who crowded themselves and all their luggage into the telephone booth, believing that was the entrance to the boat. Or one equally true of the lady who telephoned from a nearby town to the Station Master, saying that she was leaving at a certain time and asking him to have ready for her a half dozen anticolic nipples for baby's bottle.

What this great travelling public expects and how much it depends upon a Station Master's force, together with


the great opportunity the Station Master and his force may have for the good of the traveler, is a story as never ending as life itself. Innumerable things, small and unimportant, many things big. and of inestimable value. Incidents of the most trifling nature occur, ranging from the loss of a lady's hair pin to the capture of a murderer, the entrance into the world of a tiny speck of life, or the mad ravings of a maniac firing a revolver wildly about the waiting room. Or even to that of a robust looking man who seats himself comfortably in one of the settees to read his evening paper while waiting for the boat, but whom death quietly claims without warning, and whose body is found after the crowd has gone.

It is always "open season" here for lost articles. They range from beauty pins to lost babes, including, of course, all kinds of transportation, umbrellas, purses, suitcases, wearing apparel, earrings, right hand gloves, and every description of merchandise. The big bulk of these articles is generally located at some other place than that where the owner claimed to have lost it. It is always "open season" in the hunt for lost persons and runaways-not always children in the latter case either, for I recall the case of a few days ago where the culprit was eighty years of age. Each incident has its own vital interest, some humorous, some tragic.

To illustrate a trifling incident-Watson the train agent for the transfer company had worked train No. 109 and reported to me that he had not only marked the tag on the crate "special delivery" but that he had also seen Hogan, the dock foreman, personally and called his attention to the fact that the cat was to be delivered as soon after arrival as possible.

Hogan swore softly under his breath as he looked at the Daly City address. Number 109, due at 6:30 P. M. had been 20 minutes late and Daly City was a long drive. He disliked to keep the driver overtime but the public must be served. And as prompt and efficient service was the watch word of the company, as soon as the crated feline had been sent out from the baggage room, it was placed first out for the small machine, which would return in a few minutes to pick up and deliver.

Five minutes later as Hogan passed the crate he noticed that the screen was

loosened on one end and upon a hurried examination found the crate to be empty. Immediately excitement prevailed. Hurried questioning of the baggage room employes who had handled the crate developed the fact that a solid black cat was in the crate when it was received and was still in the crate when turned over to the transfer company employee.

Search for the cat among the trunks, valises, bundles, etc., was made without result. Gradually the range of the search grew until it reached the commissary dock. Here, Schultz, the apron tender, had seen a black cat just a few minutes before. Men from the baggage room and gangway augmented the searching force, until it grew to the proportion of a small army, two of the city police having in the meantime become interested.

Again it was Schultz who spied the cat hiding back among the piling. After considerable difficulty and at the risk of being catapulted into the cold water of the bay at one moment and being bumped into oblivion by the landing of the ferries at the next, he grasped puss firmly by the scruff of the neck and jammed her into her waiting crate.

Delivery was made much to the disgust of the driver who could not quite appreciate the importance of the cat sleeping at home. One night out would not hurt it he thought.

The driver claimed that he had left the cat at the house at eight P. M. He had handed over the crate to the lady who had answered the bell, and had hurried away.

It was not later than 8:15 P. M. when the office telephone rang and an irate voice fairly shouted, "what do you mean?"-then it seemed to choke and sob and splutter all at the same time, "My cat, I want my own cat—you have sent me the wrong one."

"Why, what is the trouble? What cat?" asked the bewildered baggage agent.

"I had my cat crated and sent by baggage from Fresno to San Francisco. It came on the same train that I did and was to be delivered to me tonight. They sent a cat in my cat's crate, but it is not my cat. Oh, I am sure that some one has stolen my cat. She was black and had a blue ribbon tied around her neck. She was a Susie cat and this cat is not-" here the voice seemed to trail off into a half sob.

The whole thing then dawned on the baggage agent.

"Hold the wire a moment madam,"

he said, and dashed madly out to Hogan who had just entered the transfer office. As he entered, Hogan was standing open mouthed, staring at a black cat lying on the desk and purring serenely. A blue ribbon ending in a straggly bow encircled its furry neck.

"Where in the-" began Hogan. "Is that cat twins? Where did this come from, or am I seeing double?"

The baggage agent explained hurriedly and returned to the office to assure the lady that her Susie would be delivered at once. In the meantime, she informed him that the cat which had been delivered in error had escaped.

Mr. Klink, superintendent of the steamer commissary, is mourning the loss of his black cat, Jimmy, which I sometimes feel was delivered to a certain lady in Daly City in error. For three mornings in succession I have heard him out on the commissary dock calling, "Kitty, kitty, kitty," but no welcoming meow answers his call and there is a certain feeling of guilty knowledge that creeps into my conscience, particularly when I see the smile that spreads over Schultz's features, and I hope that Klink will forget about his Jimmy soon.

One evening my telephone rang exasperatingly-I was ready to go homeone minute more and my ferry would be on its way.

Again it rang. Well, I would miss my boat, I thought, as I took down the receiver. It was the Pullman company inquiring if I had a small toilet suit case. My reply was in the negative. "Alright, thanks; I'll call and see you tomorrow."

The following morning at 9 A. M., he came accompanied by a woman- -(I was busy and had been so busy since early morning that I had found no time to get into my uniform). She was a small woman, very excitable and nervous, and as I questioned her, tears came to her eyes, her lips trembled and her hands constantly opened and closed with nervous tension. It was almost incomprehensible that she could feel so deeply the loss of her toilet case. Finally I got the information that she had given her checks to a porter at Omaha to get her hand luggage from the parcel check stand in the station and place it on the San Francisco Overland Limited. When a short distance out of Omaha, she had occasion to open her toilet case, she found that it was not hers.

Messages were exchanged and she was assured that her toilet case would follow her on No. 19, the following train. Although she had arrived on Sunday and it was now Wednesday morning, her baggage had not yet arrived and she was sailing at 12, noon, Thursday for Honolulu. The Pullman com

pany's search had been unsuccessful. I promised that I would do my best to locate the bag.

Immediate investigation of all the lost property departments of the railroad company, express companies and Ferry post office failed to yield results. Baggage rooms at Oakland, Oakland Pier and San Francisco Ferry were combed without success. The general baggage office was interrogated and I found that they had wired Omaha but that they had not been furnished with the important facts of the case. I supplemented their wire at 11 A. M., asking them to rush a reply, and waited. No. 9 came, followed by No. 1, then No. 5, the following day, but no trace of the missing toilet case. At 8 o'clock Thursday morning, Third Street Station Master communicated to me a message he had received at 7:30 A. M. reading: "Toilet case for Mrs. H— by express care Clift Hotel, Friday the 19th."


I try to count them over-all
The blessings that upon me fall,
Then turn to one whose words express
Deep joy at varied loveliness
And quote his fitting phrase and rime,

"Rich gift of God, a year of time."
A year of time, the gift sun-kissed,
Or wrapped in cloud or ocean mist,
Its cloudier mornings, none the less,
I number now with thankfulness.
I would not pick out there and here;
Father, I thank Thee for the year.

-Laura Bell Everett

Our only hope was that the missing case would be on No. 21, due at 10:30 A. M. At my request, Oakland Pier had a man enter the express car upon the arrival of the train at that point, and the case was located at once. I phoned Mrs. H, to be at the Ferry at 11:10 and the express company to have an employee ready to make the collections. The express company's employee arrived first and was preparing the tags and charges when Mrs. H. arrived. At first, she did not see the case upon my desk, then as her eyes fell upon it, she clutched it into her arms, holding it closely to her breast, with tears of joy streaming down her face and crooning over it as though it had been a baby. The wonder of it all was beyond my power of imagination. Why such a demonstration for a toilet case? Then she set it down and opened it hurriedly, ran her fingers nervously through the contents, and then I knew as I heard her breathe a sigh of relief as she brought forth a tray, which when uncovered, displayed several thousand dollars' worth of jewelry.

One night I was kept late by unfinished monthly reports. Passing from my office through the waiting rooms, my attention was attracted by the figure of a girl. So pathetic she seemed that my gaze followed her as she slipped through the gate in a hesitating manner—rather as if she were not sure whether she wanted to go yet or not, moved over to the benches, choosing one in the rear of the room and sat down.

She was a slender thing with large timid eyes that looked out into the waiting room wonderingly-as if they were trying to fathom what the whole world about her meant, yet they were sad, hollow eyes that seemed to show an aching heart-vainly trying to see clearly.

When the door leading to the boat opened, she appeared to shrink a little as if suddenly filled with fear, drew her worn coat more closely about her, undecided about moving out with the crowd. Then she rose slowly and joined the throng-walking with head bowed -the picture of despair. I am sure that her eyes would have been filled with tears had there been heart left to weep.

The wharfinger afterwards told me that she did not go aboard the boat but suddenly shook off the faltering attitude, left the crowd at the slip and walked firmly down the passage way. Walking rapidly she passed the Alameda exit, Alameda slip-baggage room and slip No. 7, looking neither to the right nor left until she had passed the mail sheds where the lights were not so bright and there appeared less life. There he lost sight of her.

Boat slip No. 8 was quiet. The landing lights were out, to its front a view of the bay, where the lights of Angel Island, Berkeley and Oakland glittered coldly against the black background of the hills beyond. Two ferry boats were moving ponderously, the sound of their splashing wheels falling faintly on her unheeding ears.

For a moment only, she hesitated here, then turned sharply to the left and entered the covered slip. She could hear the men at work separating the mail, calling out the sacks. It all sounded so foolish and incoherent to her these chanting voices calling, "Cal and Val Santa Fe six-No. 10-Weed-fifty-four-twenty-eight-"

Her hand grasped the iron railing as she looked down into the cold black waters below. She shuddered involuntarily then instinctively she thought of the rocks, the rough piling which might mangle her flesh if she jumped, broken bones perhaps or ragged cuts and bruises. She would slide down carefully-just sink quietly into the water-gently out of life into death, away from shame. Carefully she sat down and slid over the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »