Roy Glashan's Library
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First published in The Popular Magazine, 20 October 1921

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2022
Version Date: 2023-12-02

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The Popular Magazine, 20 October 1921, with
"B. Typhosus Takes a Hand"


HOW would you like to wake up in a Pullman, one fine morning, with no memory of having started your journey and with no least idea of where you were headed for—to say nothing of not being able to remember who you were, anyway? Embarrassing, you think? So thought the man to whom this happened in this story—especially as every one in South Tredegar seemed to know him well as the Rodney Hazzard who was swinging a deal big enough to dismay the ablest. How he handled this job is something you are certainly going to enjoy finding out.



I DIDN'T look to see what time it was when the Pullman porter called me, but the sun was not yet up. Raising the window shade I stared out, only half awake, upon a backward-racing panorama of wooded hills, isolated farmsteads, a willow-fringed creek paralleling the track, and on the other side of the creek, a country road.

When I sat up, blinking and rubbing my eyes and trying to place the passing panorama geographically, the porter came again, parting the berth curtains to look in. "'Scuse me, suh," he said, seeing that I was awake and stirring; and when he would have backed away I stopped him with a question:

"Whereabouts are we, George?"

"'Bout fifteen mile' out, suh; don' aim to hurry you-all, nossuh; but dis is de through car, and dey begins switchin' it 'bout as soon as we pulls in."

The good-natured, black face disappeared and I rubbed my eyes again. Fifteen miles out, he had said. Out from where? To what destination was I supposed to be going? How did it come that I didn't know? More perplexing still, how was it that I couldn't remember anything at all connected with the beginning of this journey—buying a ticket, boarding a train, going to bed in a sleeper?

Shocked into action, I flung off the covers and sat up with my feet in the aisle. Was I still asleep and struggling with a fantastic nightmare? No, it wasn't a dream. Was it sickness—a delirium of some sort coming on? A bit shakily I searched for my pulse. Nothing wrong there. The old heart pump was pounding away steadily; unless a sharp-set morning appetite could be called a symptom, there were no physical danger signals flying—nothing at all the matter with me save that terrifying vacancy in the place where memory should have been, and wasn't.

Mechanically I groped for my clothes and began to dress, telling myself that surely it could be only a temporarily slipped cog that made everything back of the moment when I had sleepily raised the window shade figure as a total blank. It would pass in another minute or so; it was too preposterous not to pass. I'd begin to recall things pretty soon; I'd have to recall them or be more helpless than a blind man. For now I began to realize that the blank was absolute: I couldn't even remember my own name, though now and then it seemed to be almost on the tip of my tongue.

My emotions, as I stumbled through the cluttered aisle on the way to the lavatory at the end of the car will have to be imagined. Once upon my feet, I was sufficiently convinced that there was nothing the matter with me physically. My glorious appetite might have told me something, if I had known to what it pointed. As it was, it merely conjured up visions of a well-provided breakfast table. But the total lapse of memory still persisted, though now I was perspiring like a gymnasium athlete in a frantic effort to bridge the terrific gap.

There were two other men in the Pullman washroom, and I was presently assured that neither of them noticed anything unusual in my appearance; from which I assumed that, in the eyes of others, I was normal and passably sane. I had found a suit-case under my berth, and in rummaging for toilet tools I made a furtive search for letters, papers, anything that might serve to connect me up with my immediate past and start the stopped machinery; something that might at least tell me who I was. There was the usual traveler's equipment of toilet conveniences and clean linen—but nothing else. And there was neither name nor initials on the bag itself.

Furtively, again, I searched my pockets, turning up a penknife, a bill-fold with something over three hundred dollars in it, a handful of silver coins, a pencil, a fountain pen; but still nothing with a name on it.

With the train rushing on to whatever destination it was at which I was supposed to debark, there was little time to spare for any collected attack upon the barrier which was so effectually cutting me off from the past. By the time the porter came along with his whisk we had thundered through a tunnel and the train was skirting the suburbs of a city, the greater part of which was hidden under a blanketing of morning fog. Off to the rear a wooded mountain lifted its summit above the fog bank, and far away to the left there was the dim outline of another mountain. So much I saw, and then the long string of Pullmans clattered over a succession of yard switch frogs and came to a stand among train sheds and concrete platforms. The porter, gathering up bags for the debarking, named the place for me: "Dis is yo' stop, cap'n—South Tredegar," and the name evoked no slightest stirring of the dormant memory.

Still more than half dazed, I joined the handful of people in the aisle. Though I knew of no reason why I should stop at South Tredegar, there seemed to be still less reason why I should go on traveling. Apart from this, if I were beginning to die from the brain downward, a swift sprint for a doctor's office was the prime need of the moment. And if a doctor couldn't help me, if the dismaying memory lapse were going to persist, one stopping place was as good as another.

A single fact ground itself in as I fell into the stream of outgoing passengers to walk up the long platform and through the concourse of a model union station. I saw nothing that tended in the slightest degree to awaken any sleeping recollections. The surroundings were as unfamiliar and strange to me as they might have been to a suddenly translated inhabitant of the planet Mars.

It was when I was crossing the little plaza upon which the station building faced that a uniformed black boy, with the single word "Marlboro" in gold letters on his cap, came up to me, grinning to show a mouthful of teeth and scraping his foot. "Glad to see yo' back, suh," he said, and reached for my bag.

Most naturally, I thought he was mistaken in his man; but since the neat uniform and gold lettering bespoke a modern hotel, I went with him, climbed into the taxi whose door he opened for me, and was promptly whirled away across a double medley of railroad tracks, up a curving street in which the early-morning traffic was just beginning to stir, and around the corner of another street to the canopied entrance of an up-to-date, many-storied hotel.

Entering the lobby at the heels of my bag-carrying black boy, I looked around. There was nothing even remotely familiar about the place, though I had a sort of vague feeling that I had been in many such lobbies before. There were a few people lounging in the chairs waiting for the breakfast room to be opened, and a few newcomers, like myself, lining up to write their names in the register.

When my turn came the clerk did not hand me the pen—wherewith I should have been obliged to sign "John Smith" or some other such harmless alibi: instead, he pushed a tagged key across the marble slab to me, saying, just as the black boy had said: "Glad to see you back, Mr. Hazzard. Feeling better than you did when you went away? You certainly look it. You'll want to go up to your rooms before breakfast? Here, boy; take Mr. Hazzard's bag."

If I had needed any additional passes of the conjurer's wand to hypnotize me completely, they were handed out to me in this friendly greeting. Of course, my first impulse was to tell the genial young man behind the counter that he was much mistaken. Then a huge doubt came along and clapped its hand upon my mouth. Perhaps the clerk wasn't mistaken; perhaps my name was Hazzard, and possibly I had taken a quick trip. I couldn't assert, and prove it, that either assumption wasn't true.

Anyway, there was no time for argument. There were others waiting for their chance at the clerk, and the boy had picked up my suit case and was pointing for an elevator. I followed him blindly, though still with a pretty strong conviction that I was usurping some other fellow's rights and privileges.

The elevator stop was at the seventh floor, and the boy led me to a suite of two rooms and a bath at the end of the corridor. Once inside, and alone, I sized things up. The sitting room was furnished like a bachelor's apartment, and was evidently the settled abiding place of whoever had been occupying it. There were many little touches not to be mistaken for mere hotel conveniences; easy-chairs, a well-filled bookcase, a homelike reading- and writing-table with a drop-light, an ornamental copper inkwell, and a blotting pad that had seen much use.

Crossing to the bookcase, I took out a volume at random. It was Kipling's "The Seven Seas," and on the flyleaf was written the name, "Rodney Hazzard." Was it my name? I couldn't tell. The surname seemed more or less familiar, in a way, and so did the "Rodney," for that matter, though in a lesser degree. Closing the book, I sat down at the writing table, uncapped my pen, and wrote the name on a sheet of the hotel paper. Then I opened the book and compared the two. If I had been a fairly skillful forger I couldn't have done much better. The signatures were as nearly alike as any two writings of the same name ever are.

Mystified beyond measure, I went on into the bedroom of the suite. Here there were more evidences of permanency—-and of recent, or comparatively recent, occupancy. There were copies of three or four of the current magazines on a stand at the bed's head. In a wardrobe closet there were two business suits slightly worn, and a dress suit; the three neatly disposed on stretchers. On the dressing case there was a soiled collar with the tie still in it; also a crumpled handkerchief, an empty cigar case, and a bunch of keys, as if the occupant of the room, changing hastily, had neglected some of his pocket contents. I opened the dresser drawers one after another. Their contents were tumbled about, as if the drawers had been rummaged in hurriedly, but there remained a good supply of underwear and linen, all marked plainly with the monogram "R.H."

On the little side brackets flanking the dresser mirror there were two photographs in silver frames. One was the picture of a generously beautiful young woman; an enlarged snapshot, I thought it must be, for there was a tennis net in the foreground, and the young woman, who was laughing, appeared to be in the act of trying to interpose her racket between her face and the camera.

The other picture I took from the bracket and examined closely. It, too, appeared to be an enlargement of a snapshot, taken with a roofed-over but unwalled power plant of some sort for a background. The surroundings were plainly tropical; palm fronds waved into the upper right-hand corner of the picture, and there were indistinct figures of dark-skinned, half-clothed men in and about the power plant shelter. The central figure was that of a white man in shirt sleeves, belted breeches and leggings, with a pith sun helmet on his head; he had pushed the helmet up to let the camera have a fair shot at his face. I held the photograph up beside the reflection of my own face in the dresser looking-glass and compared them. Making due allowance for the surroundings and maskings, the pictured face seemed to be unquestionably my own.

More bewildered than ever, I sat upon the edge of the bed and tried once more to thrust aside the curtain before which all these stupefying mysteries were parading. Like a phantom bit out of a dream, glimpsed one instant and lost the next, the man picture, or rather its background, seemed vaguely suggestive of something I ought to know; but before I could seize upon the impression and fix and analyze it, it had vanished. As for the young woman, there was no slightest stirring of recollection when I studied her picture; and I found myself saying that no man who had ever been permitted to frame her photograph for his dressing table could forget her. That would be admitting the impossible.

Next came some consideration of what I ought to do. In spite of all the evidences to the contrary, I could not rid myself of the belief that I was stepping into another man's shoes. But here again there were cross currents. "Hazzard" was the name the hotel clerk had given me, and, as I have said, in some way that I couldn't define the surname seemed to fit me. Yet the more I thought of it the more the "Rodney" part of it didn't fit. Nevertheless, Rodney was the name written in the volume of Kipling, and I had written it in facsimile and without hesitation on the blank sheet of hotel paper.

The puzzle was too deep for me, and by now the keen hunger I have spoken of was growing famine sized. I glanced at my watch. It was a quarter to eight, and by this time the hotel breakfast room would be open. Perhaps a square meal would help to clear my befuddled brain. Anyhow, it seemed worth trying, so I closed and locked the door of the usurped suite behind me and had myself dropped to the lobby floor.

When the elevator came to rest on the ground floor, and before the boy had slid the iron grille, I saw the man who was sitting with his back to the nearest of the marble-plated lobby columns. He was well dressed, well rounded, clean shaven, with a face that, but for the pin-point, birdlike eyes, might have been called cherubic. When I stepped out of the elevator car he jumped up, threw his cigarette away, and came to meet me.

"Well, I'll say!" he exclaimed. "So you've turned up at last, have you? The bell-hop captain told me you'd blown in on the early train, so I waited for you. It may not strike you that way, but I'm putting it up that you owe me an explanation a mile long. Haskins said he saw you taking the Limited at the station a week ago Thursday night, and I couldn't believe him—after you'd asked me to breakfast with you here the next morning." Then, with a curious look out of the birdlike eyes that was almost an appraisive stare, "What the devil have you been doing to yourself—besides getting a clean shave? You look different."

"In what way?" I asked, thinking that now, surely, there must be developments.

"Why—I don't know; healthier, I guess. Perhaps you've been sidetracking your troubles while you were away. Good idea. You looked as if you were on the ragged edge that Thursday night at the Town and Country, when you said you were making an early sneak, and asked me to come here to breakfast with you the next morning. Are you feeling as fit as you look?"

As he spoke I had the same prompting that had come to me when the clerk had called me "Mr. Hazzard" and had assumed to know me; namely, to tell this round-faced, round-bodied chipper-in that he was totally mistaken; that he hadn't seen me at the Town and Country—whatever that might be—and that I hadn't asked him, or anybody else, to breakfast with me. But something restrained me, and I answered his question by saying that I felt as well as I looked, if not better, adding that I stood ready to make the breakfast promise good if he cared to come with me.

"Surest thing you know," he answered crisply; adding: "I don't see how you got your own consent to take your hand off the steering wheel for a ten-day stretch, with things stacking up as they are. Perhaps you can tell me while we're eating." Then, as we were crossing toward the grillroom: "Don't you have to register me as your guest?"

"It isn't necessary," I told him, failing to add that, inasmuch as I didn't know his name from Adam's, it wasn't possible for me to register him.

In the grill the head waiter, who smiled a welcome and called me "Mr. Hazzard," gave us a table for two in a quiet corner. Telling my as yet unnamed guest to order what he liked for himself, I ran down the menu card and gave an order commensurate with the famine cry that was going up from every fiber of me. Cherub face paused in the giving of his own order to listen in what seemed to be awed astoundment.

"Well, I'll be damned!" he gasped, after the black boy had gone kitchenward. "You're certainly making up for lost time in the commissary department. How the devil do you get that way?"

"As' to appetite?" I queried.

"You've said it. Why, hell's bells!—you've ordered more than you ever did at any three meals I've eaten with you!"

His slant toward profanity awakened a curious sense of familiarity—as if I'd been used to hearing that kind of talk in the past. I made a note of this additional bit of information about myself—or the man I was substituting for. Besides having worn a beard, he, or I, had had a poor appetite in the past. If I were he, I had certainly gotten well over that particular phase physical, if the keen joy with which I attacked the grapefruit counted for anything. While I was eating, the gentleman with the pinpoint eyes played with his spoon and talked.

"Harking back to the dinner dance at the club a week ago Thursday: Her Beauteousness seemed a bit anxious about you that night," he said. "I happened to overhear her talking, to Mrs. Tom Jeff Gordon. She said she'd been trying for weeks to get you to go away somewhere and take a rest. When Haskins told me afterward that he'd seen you boarding the Limited, I thought maybe you'd taken her advice and skipped between two days. Yet I couldn't see how in the devil you could leave for any length of time, with the big deal hanging up like Mahomet's coffin."

Here were fresh mysteries, piling layer upon layer. Was "Her Beauteousness" the young woman whose picture stood on the dresser bracket in the seventh-floor suite? And what was "the big deal" which, in my absence, or that of my double, if I had a double, had been left hanging between heaven and earth? The interest aroused by these answerless questions went some little distance toward diverting my thoughts from the crude calamity which had befallen me.

"The deal," I said, wishing to lead him on; "of course I wouldn't want to leave that hung up for any length of time."

He was eying me curiously. "I should say not, when it means a cold half million in profits, if you pull it off." Then, "I suppose the hang-up is the reason why you haven't covered your bet in Mission Avenue—or did you do that before you went away?"

"No," I denied—wholly at random. "I didn't. And you've guessed the reason—nearly enough."

For just one flitting instant I thought I saw a gleam of the most malignant and deadly animosity flash into the eyes which, at their ordinary, had no more expression than those of a blackbird. But if there was such a look, it was immediately extinguished in what was evidently meant to be a jollying laugh.

"You're a lucky dog," he said. "Another man might be willing to lose the half million for your chance in the other field. But let's get down to business; the business that I warned you had to be settled definitely the night you cut stick and ran away. You've dodged and evaded long enough, Hazzard. You're going to let me in on the deal, you know—you've got to. All I'm asking is a fair show."

"What did I tell you that Thursday night at the dinner dance?" I asked cautiously.

"You know damned well what you told me; that if I'd keep still you'd meet me here at breakfast the next morning and we'd thrash it out. Don't make me stick a knife into you and turn it around, Hazzard. You need me in your business. I might go farther and say that you can't turn a wheel without me. You can afford to let me have my rake-off."

Feeling perfectly confident that what he was saying didn't apply to me, I was able to smile across the table at him and to say: "How much do you want?"

Instead of answering the question, he bored me again with the blackbird stare.

"What the devil have you been doing to your voice?" he snapped.

"What do I seem to have been doing?" I inquired mildly.

"I don't know: it's different—you're different. What kind of dope have you been taking while you were away?"

"That is my secret," I returned with the proper air of mystery. "But you haven't answered my question: how much do you want?"

The birdlike eyes dwindled to piercing needle points.

"I could take it all if I felt like it; you know good and well I could. Sometimes I'm tempted to do it—just to show you that you can't play horse with me all around the block and get by with it. But I'm willing to be decent about it. We'll say fifty-fifty on the swag—and you'll take your handsome mug off for a month or so after the deal's pulled and give me a white man's show in Mission Avenue. How about it? It's fish or cut bait for yours. If I pull the string, the whole damned house'll come down on you, and you know it."

Most naturally all this was simply Greek to me. Yet it seemed to be sufficiently serious, either for me or for somebody else, to merit looking into a bit. This stockily built, needle-eyed person across the grillroom table was making a cool demand upon me, or upon the man for whom he was mistaking me, for a quarter of a million; and for something else the nature of which I couldn't guess—unless it were connected in some way with the girl with the tennis racket whose picture was on the seventh floor above.

Slowly, and as if not wholly sure of its ground, a combative urge was beginning to knock at the door of my brain. Two courses were open to me. Should I tell this nickel-plated holdup artist that I hadn't the slightest idea what he was talking about, and so end it? Or should I stand solidly in the borrowed shoes of my mysterious double—or my other self—and play for the odd trick in whatever game it was that had been left unfinished, taking the long chance of learning the rules of the game as it went along? It was the combative urge, the feeling that I'd rather enjoy a scrap with this fellow, that had the casting vote.

"I'm glad you've been open-minded enough to stand the thing squarely upon its feet at last," I said, taking the first of the chances in assuming that he hadn't done so heretofore. "But you mustn't crowd the mourners. You'll have to give me a little time to think it over."

He paused to light a cigarette, inhaling deeply two or three times before he spoke again.

"Since the deal isn't closed yet, you may have the time," he conceded. "But you've got to secure me if you want me to go on holding my tongue about the thing I know—and that you know I know. It's up to you to find a way."

"That is a fair proposition," I allowed. "When shall I see you again?"

"I've got to run down to Bridgeville on the noon train, but I'll be back this evening. Make it to-night, here at the hotel. Will that do?"

"If it suits you," I acquiesced; and at that, since he had finished his breakfast, and I was still only fairly in the midst of the feast I had ordered for myself, he excused himself abruptly and went away.

I wasn't at all sorry to be left alone to wrestle with the fresh complications which the short breakfast-table talk had flung at me. Who was this full-fed scoundrel with the boyish face and blackbird eyes? Had he really been talking to and threatening a man he knew? Or should I cling to the apparently unprovable hypothesis that I was only a miraculous substitute for another man who had mysteriously dropped out?

In either case, this bird-eyed person seemed to be sorely in need of a good, vigorous manhandling, and as I was sipping my third cup of coffee I was wondering vaguely if—Providence permitting, and the South Tredegar hallucination as to my identity continuing to persist—I shouldn't be the individual to administer it.


WHEN I had eaten like the Great Ug, who, it will be recalled, ate till he could eat no more because there was no more to eat, the tobacco craving asserted itself; from which I gathered that in my hidden past I must have been a smoker. At the cigar counter in the hotel lobby a youngish man, who looked as if he might have stood for the artist's model in one of the Spookenhammer style advertisements, was filling his pocket case. As I approached he turned and let the splendid effulgence of his neck haberdashery bedazzle me.

"Well, look who's here!" he exclaimed, shaking hands with me as if I were a long-lost brother suddenly rediscovered. "Where have you been hiding out for a week back? And, say—what on top of earth have you been doing to yourself? You—why, with that clean shave you look like another man!"

"I am another man," I returned; and that certainly went two ways. Then, not to be left too far behind in the friendly race: "You're looking well, yourself; better than I've ever seen you look." Which also went two ways.

"Been out of town on one of your mysterious dickerings, I suppose?" he rattled on. "I haven't had a peek at you since—let me see: you were over at the dinner dance at the Town and Country a week ago last Thursday. I believe that was the last time we forgathered. I thought you were looking rather knocked out, then—off your feed or something; and the wife noticed it, too. Here; take your hand out of your pocket—have a smoke with me."

I took the gift cigar, and then the clerk behind the counter did me an unconscious but mighty welcome favor by saying: "You took six of them, didn't you, Mr. Norman? Shall I charge them? All right—thank you."

"I guess I must have been off my feed, as you say, when you saw me last," I agreed. "Everybody tells me I looked that way." Then: "Between us two and the gatepost, I'm not quite right yet, Norman." I forced myself to use the name the cigar clerk had given him and tried my best to make it sound as chummy as his familiar-handling of me warranted. "I wonder if you could steer me up against a really capable doctor?"

He gave me a brief little stare of surprise.

"Why, you know the doctors in this man's town as well as I do. What's the matter with Jack Requin? I thought you and he were buddies from away back."

"That is just it," I argued. "Perhaps he knows me too well. I've been thinking I'd like to consult a stranger—just for once in a way."

"Well, how about Wentworth? He is a new man, and they say he is a wizard.—Office in the Severance Building—sixth floor, I believe. Seen Wayne since you got in? Judie tells me he's been up at least twice a day, crazy to find out where you'd gone, and when you were coming back. I don't believe she told him a darned thing. Some bright little business girl you gathered in when you picked Judie Bledsoe, Rod."

"You've said it," I assented handsomely. Things were certainly developing rapidly. From what the bird-eyed man had said, the inference was plain that I had an office; now, it appeared, I owned an office girl who held her employer's interests warmly at heart. I was wondering if the "Wayne" of this Mr. Norman's running commentary wouldn't be the bird-eyed gentleman himself.

"Have you seen Wayne?" I asked craftily.

"Can't help seeing him," was the half-resentful reply. "He is around underfoot all the time, as you ought to know. I don't like him, Rod: reminds me too much of a magpie, or a crow; you know what I mean—inquisitive as the very devil, and none too scrupulous when it comes to swiping bright things left around where he can get his beak into 'em. I wouldn't tie up too hard with him, if I were you. I always feel like shying away from these pot-bellied, oily-tongued chaps with choir-boy faces."

The description fitted too accurately to leave any doubt in my mind as to the Wayne identity.

"I'm rather glad to hear you say that, Norman," I offered. "I am beginning to lean a trifle that way myself—about Wayne. Wentworth, you say this new medicine man's name is? I think I'll wander around and let him have a look at me. I'm feeling fine, but I believe there is a screw loose, somewhere, yet. See you later in the day, maybe? So long."

Casual inquiry made of the first policeman I came across gave me the lay of the brisk little' city, and the location of the Severance, one of its half dozen tall office buildings. Norman's guess as to the number of the Wentworth floor was correct, and I was presently introducing myself—by my stolen name—to an upstanding, grave-featured gentleman who stuck rigidly to the professional tradition of the pointed beard and cropped mustache.

"Oh, yes; I've often heard of you, Mr. Hazzard, and I'm glad to know you," said this doctor person, giving me the firm-handed grip of the successful nerve repairman. "What can I do for you?"

"That remains to be seen," I told him. "Do you want the symptoms?"

"I'll look you over first," he returned; and with that he took me into his operating room, made me strip to the waist and put me through a course of thumpings, auscultings—if that is the proper term—proddings, and the like, winding up with a blood-pressure test. Then came the verdict.

"You are as sound as a dollar, Mr. Hazzard, so far as I can determine; normal in every respect."

"Exactly," I agreed. "I feel just that way. But there is one small detail lacking. I've lost my memory."

"Aha!" he said; "that is something different. Tell me about it."

I told him what little there was to tell; how I had awakened in the sleeping car some few hours earlier with my past completely blotted out—so completely that I couldn't even remember my own name; shouldn't know it yet, if it hadn't, been handed to me by people who seemed to know me much better than I knew myself.

"You haven't had a recent severe illness of any kind?" he asked.

I shook my head. "How can I tell? I only know that I feel all right now."

"When did you leave town on this trip from which you returned this morning?"

"A week ago last Thursday, so they say."

At that, he gave me a cross-examination that would have made the fortune of any lawyer in the land. Then I had the summing up.

"Yours is a very interesting case—interesting and rather singular, Mr. Hazzard. If you had had a long and severe illness your condition might be accounted for quite readily. But if you were here in South Tredegar and attending to business no longer than a week or ten days ago, you can't have had the illness."

"That seems perfectly evident," I assented!

"Loss of memory comes under a number of different heads," he went on. "The commonest forms are the aphasic, in which the subject suffers some form of what might be called memory blindness; he may have lost the ability to write, or to read, though he understands perfectly what is read or spoken to him; or he may be unable to express himself, either in speech or writing. In your case the lapse seems to be complete only in one respect; you have merely lost the recollection of your personal and individual past. As I have said, this condition sometimes follows a severe illness where there has been long-continued delirium."

"But you also say that I couldn't have had the illness," I interjected.

"Not in any ten days. That is the singular thing about it—the unaccountable thing. You say you have forgotten everything, but a little reflection will convince you that this is far from being true. You can't remember your own individual past, but your answers to my questions prove that you have brought over from that past a very complete working knowledge of life as we are living it to-day; knowledge that you could have acquired only by observation and experience. The only thing you don't recall is your personal history. You are a consulting engineer by profession, aren't you?"

"Am I?" I grinned. No one had told me that, as yet.

He smiled. "As I have intimated, I have heard of you often, and I understood that was your calling. My advice to you is this: just go on quietly about your business and see what a little time will do for you. Possibly—quite probably—this condition in which you find yourself now will correct itself of its own accord. The recovery may be gradual; it has usually been so in the few lapse-of-memory cases that have come under my observation; yet we can't tell—you may wake up some morning to find the gears properly in mesh again and the machinery running smoothly. Meanwhile, you might drop in now and then and tell me what is happening to you."

I thanked this kindly gentleman, who was honest enough not to write a drug-store prescription for me, and turned to go. But at the door I faced about to ask a question.

"Doctor, can you tell me where my office is?"

He laughed quite heartily at that, and put a question of his own.

"I had forgotten that you are measurably helpless. Have you told any of your friends of your present condition?"

"No; not yet."

"Then I shouldn't, if I were you. It would embarrass you needlessly. Just keep your own counsel, pick up the dropped threads as you go along, and you'll soon be in harness again. Your office is in the Coosa Building, I believe. You'll find your name and the number in the lobby directory, no doubt."

"One thing more," I begged. "A young man whose surname is Norman directed me to you. He evidently knows me intimately, but if I had ever seen him before he accosted me in the Marlboro lobby a little while ago, the fact had escaped me. Can you tell me anything about him?"

"Oh, yes; Mr. Frederic Norman is sales manager for the Chiawassee Iron Works, of which Mr. Tom Jeff Gordon is the president. The Chiawassee offices are in your own building—the Coosa."

It will be noticed that I hadn't told this affable doctor anything about my private suspicion that I wasn't Rodney Hazzard at all; that I was merely a witless interloper who looked enough like Rodney Hazzard to fool that gentleman's friends and intimates. The reason why I didn't talk about this phase of it was a growing doubt as to the warrant for the suspicion. The truth of the matter was that the suspicion didn't have a leg to stand on, excepting the fact that I couldn't remember.

I may confess that I left the Severance Building handsomely appalled at the magnitude of the task which lay before me—if I were really the Rodney Hazzard of everybody's recognizing; the picking up of the threads of something which I could not as yet convince myself had ever been in my hands. Still, short of running away, there didn't seem to be anything else to do; so, once more, I inquired my way, two squares west and one north, to the Coosa Building.


THERE was a bank on the ground floor of the big office building, and I wondered, grinning again, if I—or the other man—had an account in it, and how many years I'd be sent up for if I should draw upon it and afterward find out that it wasn't mine.

On the lobby blackboard my name, or the one that had been wished upon me, appeared displayed among the "H's," and I learned that my office was on the ninth floor. When I entered an elevator the negro elevator boy showed a fine set of teeth and said, "Howdy, Mistuh Hazzard," and a number of the people who were crowding in either spoke to me or nodded. Sooner or later, all of these people who seemed to know me so well would have to be identified, placed, and their relations to me—or to my double—clearly defined; the penalty for failure being endless embarrassment or worse.

As it chanced, I was the only passenger for the ninth floor on that particular trip. Hence I was spared the humiliation of having some one look on while I wandered through the E-shaped corridor searching for my own office. I found it at last, at the extreme end of one of the branches of the E, and paused to read the legend on the ground glass of the door:

### SIGN

RODNEY HAZZARD, Consulting Engineer, Mines and Mining Investments.

Beyond that door lay my Rubicon. Once fairly across the fatal threshold I should have to go on; for richer, for poorer, for better or worse. Short of becoming a fleeing absconder I couldn't turn back.

Also, beyond that door lurked a young woman; a "bright, little business girl," in Norman's description, who was devoted to the interests of "Rodney Hazzard, Consulting Engineer," and whose eyes might well be much sharper than those cruder masculine organs which had so far already appraised and accepted me. It was only a wavering of the suspicion that I was a usurper; a swift feeling that, after all, I might be only entering my own office; that enabled me to turn the doorknob.

The first step—I suppose I took it so gingerly as to make no noise—was not particularly terrifying. The office was a suite of two rooms, the one I had entered being divided in half by a railing behind which stood an unoccupied desk and a pair of trestles supporting a large drawing board. On the board lay a T-square and an open case of drawing instruments.

This room proved to be untenanted, but just as I was keying myself up for the real plunge a vision appeared in the doorway connecting this outer room with the one beyond. For some unexplained reason I had been half expecting to find the original of the tennis-girl picture holding the fort in Mr. Rodney Hazzard's office; but the bewitching young person with snapping, black eyes, a wealth of dark hair, ripe, red lips, a firm, round little chin, and a nose which halted just soon enough to give it the entrancing tilt beloved of the gods, was no more like the picture girl than chalk is like cheese.

"Good morning," she said, a bit nippily, I thought; and then, "So you've got here at last. I thought you were never coming!"

"Nothing like that," I hastened to say, letting myself through the railing gate. Then I took the plunge. "I hope you've been getting along all right in my—er—absence?"

The look she gave me couldn't be described. It was a sort of combination of shock, astonishment, and wavering uncertainty.

"Why, you—" She stopped short, went through the motion of swallowing hard, and then began again. "I—I should have got along a great deal better if you had remembered to tell me where you were going, and how I could reach you by wire or mail. I've had a perfectly frightful time trying to keep people from finding out that I didn't know."

"Too bad!" I said; then I made my first descent into the troubled sea of equivocation. "Didn't you get my note?"

"Not a single word. Was it put in the mail?"

"It ought to have been—there is no question about that. But never mind; Norman tells me you've been doing fine, and I'm sure you have. Is the morning mail in?"

Watching her out of the tail of my eye as I went to the opened desk in the private-office room of the suite, I thought I could discern a curious sort of detachment in her manner; either that or puzzled abstraction—as if she were trying to make up her mind about something and couldn't. Every instant I was expecting to hear her burst out with, "Why, you are not Mr. Hazzard!" or some such exclamation as would serve to introduce the cataclysm, so I concluded I might as well give her the chance and have it over with.

"Say it," I prompted, smiling at her. "Everybody else has been saying it ever since I got off the sleeper this morning."

"What have they been saying?" she asked, busying herself with her typewriter, or pretending to.

"That I don't look like myself."

"Of course they would say that," she remarked.

"I suppose the clean shave makes some difference," I suggested.

Again she gave me that queer look that I can't describe.

"That—and some other things," she said, with the air of one dismissing an unwelcome subject.

I couldn't tell, for the life of me, just where she stood. Her attitude had grown suddenly neutral, gray, no color at all. Was she accepting me as Rodney Hazzard? Or did she know that I wasn't Rodney Hazzard? And if I were the impostor that I was still half convinced that I was, why didn't she say so and telephone for the police?

As the event proved, Rodney Hazzard's job—or mine—wasn't half as formidable as it might have been. There was an accumulation of perhaps a score of letters, the contents of which, by all odds, should have been pure Choctaw to me. But right here was where the second mysterious thing in the series broke in. While the signatures were all unfamiliar, and the subject matter of nearly all of the letters was like reading a few disconnected sentences out of a hitherto unperused book, it was none, the less made clear to me that Rodney Hazzard's business, or at least something in an identical field, had been my business in the past which I couldn't recall.

While I was reading the letters the bright, little business girl was cleaning and oiling her typewriter and sharpening her pencils, and I had a feeling that she was watching me curiously out of the corner of the nearest eye. Between lines in the letter reading I was wondering what I—or the other man—had been calling her; "Judie," or "Miss Judith," or "Miss Bledsoe." Since there was no possibility of settling this question definitely, I decided to play the middle against both ends.

"Miss Judith," I began, "I find that my—er—vacation has put me out of touch with some of these matters. If you will kindly dig into the files and attach the previous correspondence to these"—handing her a bunch of the blindest of the letters—"we'll try and clear the decks."

She took the letters without saying a word and went to the filing case; and while she was busy there, I put in the time rummaging in the big desk, soaking up every note and memorandum I could find, and piecing odds and ends together until I had gained some slight working notion of the various projects in which the former owner of the desk and office had been—or should I say, was?—interested.

In this process I am bound to say that I found my mind working like a well-regulated clock. Though I recognized none of the data in the sense of remembering them, I had practically no difficulty in understanding most of them, and the total absence of recollection didn't seem to muddle the understanding to any appreciable extent. The discovery that I could readily absorb these details made one of two hypotheses certain: either I had been, in the vanished past, a fairly competent business man and engineer, or—and this was now beginning to seem far the more probable—I was really the man everybody was taking me to be; the one only and original Rodney Hazzard.

With the letter files in hand it was not difficult to answer the mail. It was routine stuff, most of it; askings for expert advice on this, that, or the other industrial project; and the facility with which I was able to work out the needed data added still more to the growing convincement that I was not, after all, the interloper I had at first taken myself to be. It was utterly incredible, I decided, that a stranger could thus seat himself at another man's desk and take up any considerable number of the dropped threads with any degree of success.

To give credit where credit is due, I must say that a good share of the success was owing to my gifted little helper. She had every detail of the office business at her fingers' ends. Where I hesitated or was about to stumble, she was always ready to come to the rescue. In addition, she was a past mistress of the pothooks and word signs, her flying pencil keeping pace with the best I could do in the way of dictating.

All this business of business dispatching went on without a ripple, as you might say. Most of the time the lustrous black eyes were modestly veiled and their owner's attitude toward me was as impersonal as if she had been one of a score of stenographers called in out of a big office to take letters for a man she had never seen before.

This was her attitude, mind you; mine was quite different. Time and again I had to pull myself up with a jerk when I found my mind wandering, fairly in the midst of things. The faultless curve of the pretty cheek, the pure adorableness of the round little chin, the fetching manner in which she did her hair—if it wasn't one thing, it was another. The biggest doubt of the Rodney Hazzard identity now centered upon this dark-eyed little heartbreaker industriously jotting my letters down. Was it even remotely credible that I had been associated with her from day to day, and had yet been so besotted as not to save some memory of her out of the wreck which had swallowed up all other—and lesser—things?

When the last of the letters had been faced down I asked her if I had any appointments for the day, and she shook her head.

"I couldn't make any," she reminded me—which was quite obvious. "Mr. Wayne has been in any number of times, but—"

"Oh, yes—Wayne," I broke in; then, taking a shot at the conclusion drawn from Norman's description of the man: "I saw him at the hotel this morning; took breakfast with him. He has an appointment with me for this evening."

I hoped she would go on and say something about the big deal which was to net somebody half a million dollars, but she didn't. While she was at the machine typing the dictated letters, I did some more rummaging in the desk. Among other things, the office check book came to light. There was an apparent balance of something over two thousand dollars. The last check drawn was two weeks old and was in favor of Judith Bledsoe. From the amount, and the fact that the stubs showed other checks at regular intervals for like amounts, I took it to be her weekly salary.

"You haven't had any money for two weeks," I said, interrupting the rattle and clack of the typewriter. "If you will make out a check to yourself, I'll sign it."

"There isn't any hurry about that," she returned, without looking up from her notes, adding: "I haven't done anything to earn it, anyway."

The manner in which she said this still preserved that attitude of cool impersonality—aloofness. I wondered if she were-Still a bit resentful because I didn't loosen up and tell her where I'd been—and why? I only wished I might be able to tell her—her or anybody else.

Continuing the desk search, a number of things that meant nothing to me were turned up, among them a typewritten list of names with a note at the bottom, "In S. B." After puzzling over it a few minutes I handed it to the busy one.

"What is that?" I asked.

She did not comment upon my failure to recognize what was presumably one of my own memoranda. She merely glanced at the slip of paper and passed it back.

"It is a list of the people who signed the Guess Mountain options. It was made as a desk record of the papers that are put away in the safety box in the bank."

Having this explanation of the cabalistic "In S B.," I began to speculate a bit. Might not these papers in the safety box have some bearing upon the half million that the bird-eyed gentleman was proposing to split with me—or to have me split with him? I think I can say with complete sincerity that, at the moment, the possibility of coming in for such a huge fee or profit, or whatever it might be called, didn't have the thunderous appeal that such things are supposed to have. Perhaps I was a little like the old negro who was offered a hundred dollars reward for finding a lost pocketbook, and who said it wouldn't do him any good because he couldn't count above ten. But the urge to jam this Wayne person solidly back into his place was strong enough to substitute for any lack of the money hunger, and the mention of "options" seemed to indicate that these safety-box papers might connect up with the deal which, as Wayne had remarked, had been left like Mahomet's coffin. Hence I determined to have a look at them.

Acting upon this decision, I told Judie Bledsoe that I was going downstairs to the bank, and asked her if she had the duplicate key to the safety box, explaining that I had left my bunch of keys at the hotel. She found the duplicate and gave it to me without question.

In the bank lobby I immediately ran afoul of a number of people who nodded or spoke to me, and again I was obliged to carry things off as best I could. As I was passing a marble counter-rail fencing off a space with desks behind it, a baldish man with twinkling, gray eyes looked up and waved a hand to me. On top of his desk stood a brass sign with "Mr. Clegg, Cashier" on it, and I ventured to stop and say "Good morning."

The talk for a minute or so was purely commonplace. Then:

"Parker Wayne was here a few minutes ago, and he told me you got in town this morning. I was about to telephone your office and ask you to come down. About that paper you are carrying with us; we know it is all right, and the collateral is good, but we don't like to let these call loans run along indefinitely. What' is the prospect? I'm asking because our—that is, some of our directors are beginning to look a little cross-eyed at it."

Here was an entirely new knot in the tangle. Up to date, there had been nothing to make me overreluctant to shoulder Mr. Rodney Hazzard's back load, whatever it might be. But a bank debt was something different. I waded cautiously.

"Let me see," I said reflectively; "how much is it now?"

"Just what it has been from the beginning—seventy-four thousand."

If I didn't turn pale and gasp for breath, I should have. As I have said, I was like the old negro—couldn't count above ten. Without being able to recall any of the financial transactions of my buried past, some inner sense was crying out that I had never in my life dealt with any such debtor figures as this.

"Aw—all right," I contrived to gurgle. "I g-guess I'll have to be getting busy." Then I made matters worse by saying that I supposed I shouldn't have gone away.

"You needed a vacation," returned the baldish gentleman, quite kindly. "You had been under a pretty stiff strain, I imagine, and I hope you managed to take a complete rest. Anyway, you are looking a lot better. And about the notes: of course, there is no frantic rush. But it is demand paper, and we have two or three right cautious old gentlemen on the board, as you know. One of them was asking me only this morning if I didn't think it was about time to tell you you'd have to lift the paper. I told him you were all right, and so tided the matter over—for the time."

"That was mighty good of you," I returned, and then, as may be imagined, I moved along very willingly to make room for another customer who was waiting to have his chance at Mr. Clegg.

Back in the safety-deposit department I found I had to deal with a trim, little lady custodian who looked up and smiled her recognition, bidding me good morning in pleasant Southern fashion, and commenting, as everybody did, upon my improved appearance. I produced the duplicate key and was given the Hazzard box without question.

Shutting myself into one of the cell-like retiring rooms, I opened the treasure-trove. There was quite a collection of papers in the box; some few securities—stocks and bonds of companies whose very names were strange to me; agreements with contractors; a couple of life-insurance policies, and finally a large document envelope marked "Guess Mountain."

When I opened the fat envelope I had my first inkling of the reason for the stupendous loan the bank was carrying. The contents of the packet were a thick sheaf of options on certain tracts of land variously described in surveyors' verbiage, each option setting forth the amount which had been paid for it, together with the purchase price of the land if the option should be taken up. I did a hasty sum in addition. The bunch of options had cost somebody upward of seventy thousand dollars of real money.

When I got a fair grasp of the situation I could actually feel a cold wind blowing up the back of my neck. Reduced to its simplest terms, my predecessor—or I—had taken options on certain tracts of land with a total aggregate acreage running into the thousands, and for these options the various owners of the tracts—and their name was legion—had been paid, again in the aggregate, over seventy thousand dollars. And if the options were allowed to expire, the seventy thousand, which was four thousand less than the sum owed to the bank, was just like so much money thrown into the fire.

As I sat there gasping and wheezing in that close little mahogany cell with the terrifying figures before me, I had a swift recurrence of the conviction that I wasn't—that I couldn't be—Rodney Hazzard. While my past was as a closed book clamped in a vise, I told myself over and over that, unless I had been ripe for a strait-jacket and a padded cell in that period which I couldn't recall, I should never have had the nerve to plunge, with borrowed money, into any speculation so tremendous as this.

No, I insisted, determined to believe what I must believe, if I were to retain any sort of hold upon common sense and reason, it simply couldn't be possible. By some miraculous hocus-pocus I had stepped into the shoes of some vanished man; some reckless plunger who, scenting a market from afar, had staked his money and his reputation upon a lucky throw of the dice—had staked and lost. For now I hadn't the slightest doubt that my double was an absconder. By some unlucky turn of the wheel he had lost his expected market, and, seeing nothing but black ruin ahead, he had taken the coward's remedy and fled.


IT was with a fixed determination to drop my vicarious responsibilities squarely in their tracks that I replaced the contents of the safety box, had the smiling little custodian lady put it away, and passed out into the bank lobby. Of course it was my luck to meet somebody who apparently knew me intimately, and to be asked where I'd been, and when I'd got back, and a lot of things like that.

If I had had the entire courage of my convictions I should have told this kindly, inquiring gossip that I wasn't the man he was mistaking me for. But I hadn't quite worked myself up to that sticking place as yet, so I let him go on talking, hoping he would presently talk himself out.

Now it so happened that our joint halting spot was beside a square, marble column which marked the angle of the inclosure holding the desks of the cashier and the other bank officers, and by moving a little to the right I could see the back of Mr. Clegg's baldish head, and about half of his desk. Sitting at his elbow was a little, old gentleman with a face like a wrinkled winter apple, and the two were in close conference. It was a mention, by the old man, of the name I was parading under that made me instantly cock my ears and lose track of what my friendly gossip was saying. As distinctly as if I had been sitting in Mr. Clegg's chair I heard the thin, high-pitched voice of the older man as he said:

"Ah—er—yes; his name—Hazzard—fits him too well. I don't know just what he thinks he's trying to do; my informant couldn't tell me that. But I'll warrant you, Clegg, it's a hazard, all right. He's—ah—, a plunger, in all that the word implies. He has dropped out once, without telling anybody he was going, and he may do it again—and stay dropped out As you say, the security is good, but we don't want the talk that would be stirred up if we should have to protest his paper. I'd put a man on him, if I were you."

I didn't overhear what the cashier said in reply, but I did hear the thin rasp when it began again.

"That's the sensible thing to do, Clegg. He—ah—needn't know anything about it, and if he's all right and straight, it won't hurt him. And you do it now—to-day. There are other reasons, too—personal reasons—why I'd like to have him—er—investigated, but we needn't say anything about that phase of it."

I got rid of my unknown buttonholer as quickly and easily as I could, sank out of sight without leaving a ripple, and didn't venture to come up for air until I was out of the bank and back in the elevator hallway of the great building. The little old gentleman with the winter-apple face was undoubtedly one of the bank's directors who had been objecting to the further extension of the seventy-four-thousand-dollar loan. And in deference to his urgings I was to be dogged, watched, shadowed.

The full force of this didn't strike me until I had entered a waiting elevator to be lifted to the ninth-floor office. Then it came to me with a prickling shock that now I couldn't duck and run, no matter how badly I might want to. I was trapped. All South Tredegar seemed ready to accept me as Rodney Hazzard—had so accepted me, so far as heard from. If I should attempt to sidestep, to lay down this terrific burden I had so casually and idiotically taken up, I would be followed, brought back, haled into court.

A cold sweat started out on me when I realized fully what I had let myself in for. There was only one possible avenue of escape, so far as I could see; and that one wasn't any bigger than a mousehole. If I could go ahead and pull off this deal which I, or somebody else, had left hanging in the air, and pay the bank. But where was I to begin?

The dictations, neatly and accurately typed, were lying on the desk waiting for my signature when I entered the two-room suite at the end of the ninth-floor corridor. While I was glancing over the letters in a mechanical fashion and signing them I was racking my brain in an effort to find some way of enlarging the mousehole of escape. What sort of land was it upon which options had been taken covering such enormous acreages? The answer to that came pat enough. South Tredegar lay in the heart of the Southern Appalachians, and coal and iron were the leading products of the region. Doubtless the land which was to be bought and sold was mineral land.

Next, who were the prospective purchasers? Unquestionably, I, or the other man, had had them on the string before the huge investment had been made in the options. Certainly nobody but a born fool would make such an investment without seeing, or thinking he saw, his way out. I glanced aside at the trim, competent little figure sitting at the typewriter. There sat the answer to all the questions—and they might as well have been buried at the bottom of the deep blue sea. For the moment I should begin trying to fish them up I should be lost. It would be equivalent to telling Miss Judith Bledsoe in so many words that I had no right to be sitting at Rodney Hazzard's desk. Still, nothing venture, nothing have; and again I took the plunge.

"Those Guess Mountain papers, Miss Judith—will you get them for me, please?" I said, trying to say it as casually as one smoker would ask another for a match.

She looked up, and I remarked again how alluringly beautiful were the quick-glancing black eyes with their impenetrable depths.

"They are in the safety box," she answered evenly.

"But I mean the correspondence."

"Letters? There have been none."

Up against a blank wall again; and, at that, I hadn't escaped unscathed. Who should know better than I that there had been no correspondence? The negotiations, whatever they were, had been carried on by word of mouth. Secrecy, of course, would be the very lifeblood of a transaction involving millions. Once more the crooked talons of the law were reaching for me. Whether I had or had not made the stifling bank loan, I was the one who would have to pay the penalty.

I dare say some of the signatures on those first-day letters were a bit shaky. Furtively I kept an eye on the "bright little business girl" as she arranged the carbon copies for filing. Was she, or was she not, accepting me fully as her aforetime employer? There was still that silent restraint in her manners was it natural? Or was she suspicious of me?

It was she who next broke the office silence.

"Miss Treadway was telephoning while you were down in the bank," she said. "She wanted to know if Mr. Hazzard had come back."

I marked the fact that she said "Mr. Hazzard" instead of "you," and braced myself for what might be coming next.

"And you told her that 'Mr. Hazzard' was here?"

"Of course. She said she would drive down a little later and take you to luncheon with her."

Again I felt a cool breeze blowing up the back of my neck. What new complication was this which was getting in shape to dump itself upon my already overloaded shoulders? Before I could stop myself, I had said:

"I'm pretty middling busy. I wish you had told her that she needn't come."

For the first time since I had made—or renewed—my acquaintance with her, my charming little handmaiden laughed; laughed deliciously, provokingly, tantalizingly, as if I were the cap-sheaf joke of the season.

"How like a man!" she gurgled; and then, with an imp of mischief dancing in die dark eyes: "Don't you think it was rather horrid of you not to write Miss Alicia while you were away?"

"Didn't I write her?" I asked.

"I'm just supposing that you didn't. She has called up two or three times every day to ask if I'd had any word."

This was worse, and more of it. Surely, if any man had been as intimate with any woman as I seemed to have been with this telephoning lady, he ought to be able to remember her—even if he were dead and buried. Yet this part of my past was as blank as all the rest of it.

"I'm too busy to go to luncheon with anybody, to-day," I protested.

"Then you'd better call her up and tell her so," cut in my pretty prompter.

I said "damn," and thought I said it under my breath. But a slow mantling of color in the neck and cheek of the typewriter maiden told me that she had heard.

"I beg your pardon," I blurted out; but the only answer I got to the apology was a smothered laugh that lacked little of being a schoolgirl giggle, and a half-whispered remark which might have been a prayer in Tibetan for all it meant to me:

"Oh, me—oh, my! I hope I may be here to see!"

After this, I had a rather bad half hour. A dozen times I was on the point of pretending to remember something of vital importance and dashing out, to be gone indefinitely. But each time a battery of four little words brought me down, wing-broken and helpless. What was the use? But it may say itself that the business part of my mind was wrecked beyond any hope of salvage for the time being. I could only make a pretense of being busy by pawing over the papers on the desk and arranging and rearranging the contents of the pigeonholes.

It was not until half of the fatal half hour had dragged itself past, leaden-footed, that the meaning of that Tibetan prayer of Miss Judith's began to worm itself into my tortured brain. There would be a charming little scene—for the bystander. This Miss Treadway—I was beginning to shudder at the very sound of the name—would doubtless take me sharply to task for my remissness in not writing. Also, she might easily ask me a thousand questions that I couldn't answer. And, with Miss Judith looking on and—

"Isn't it about your luncheon time, Miss Judith?" I asked desperately, as I went on with the aimless paper shuffling.

"Oh, no," she returned sweetly. "I haven't changed it; I go at one o'clock, as usual."

My feeble effort to turn the coming comedy—-or tragedy—into a private dress rehearsal had failed. The piece would be put on before an audience—a highly appreciative audience—of one.

In the fullness of time my straining ears caught the sounds they were listening for; the tap-tap of clicking heels on the tessellated floor of the corridor. Next they recorded the squeak of a dry door hinge and the heel tappings in the outer office. My hour was come.

It wasn't so excruciatingly bad, after all. When I sprang out of my chair, it was a mighty handsome young woman—the flesh-and-blood incarnation of the tennis-court picture—who rushed to meet me, both hands outheld. She was a warm blonde, as I had thought, from the photograph, she would be, rather above the middle height for women, and generously proportioned. Her face—well, you've seen it, or one like it, time and again on the pretty-girl magazine covers, and it is no exaggeration to say that the handsomest of the cover designs couldn't give her any odds and stand a French doll's chance of winning out.

Her first outburst as she put her hands in mine was an excited, "Oh, I'm so glad!" Then, in practically the same breath: "But, Rodney!—wha-what have you been doing to yourself?"

"What should I have been doing," I countered, trying to galvanize the smile that was expected of me. Then I let her have her hands back, but not until after I had marked the exceedingly beautiful, platinum-set diamond she was wearing upon her engagement finger.

"But you look so—so different!" she protested.

"I hope the change is for the better," I said, calling up another of the static smiles.

"It is, and it isn't," she fluttered. "You look as fit as can be, but I hardly know you without your beard and mustache."

I had totally forgotten Wayne's and Norman's remarks about my lack of hair on my face.

"A beard is a nuisance," I explained. "Haven't I always said it was?"

"Indeed, you haven't! I've always fancied you were rather vain of yours. But never mind; you can grow another one—you've got to grow another one. I don't like you half as well without it. Put on your glasses and we'll go. I have the car down in the street."

I turned to rummage blindly in the desk. The spectacles were a new one on me. If I had ever worn glasses, I certainly didn't recall the fact. It was Judie Bledsoe who came to my rescue, and, somehow, I felt that she did it with her tongue in her cheek.

"Here is your extra pair," she said, with the mischief imp again looking out of the dancing eyes, and she handed me a pair of goggle-sized spectacles with heavy tortoise-shell bows.

"I don't know what you'd do without Miss Judie to look after you," laughed the handsome blonde, as I adjusted the clumsy glasses—and found that, happily, they didn't blur everything hopelessly for me. "That's better," she went on. "Now you look a little bit more natural. Let's go."

"You'll be back this afternoon?" inquired my dark-eyed good angel, calling to me as we were going out.

"Surely," I promised.

When we reached the sidewalk I found that the waiting car was a pretty gorgeous, wine-colored limousine, with a good-looking young negro sitting statuesquely behind the wheel.

"To the Town and Country, William," said my companion as we got in and latched the door; whereupon the motor began to hum musically and the big car moved out to back and fill and fall into its place in the traffic stream. Lapped in the luxury of the costly upholstering, the beauteous one began on me.

"Now, Roddy, dear, tell me all about it. Where did you go? And why didn't you tell me you were going? You knew how anxious I'd been about the way you were working yourself to death. Didn't you realize that I'd be scared out of my wits?"

"Really, Alicia," I returned, twisting my tongue as best I might to the totally unfamiliar name, "I don't know; and that is the honest truth. Weren't you—didn't you suspect there was something wrong with me—that evening at the—at the dinner dance?"

"I did," she came back promptly. "You were a sick man that night, Roddy, just keeping up on sheer nerve and will power. I knew it—knew every minute. Don't you remember how I begged you to do something for yourself? And Doctor Jack Requin told you, right before me, that you'd break and go all to pieces if you didn't give yourself a complete rest. Didn't you really know when you went away?"

I shook my head soberly.

"I haven't the slightest remembrance of it."

"How very strange!" she exclaimed sympathetically. "It must have been almost like a—like a stroke! If it hadn't been for Joe Haskins I might have thought you had been murdered!" This with a little shiver. "Joe told me he saw you getting on the midnight train. Where were you when you came to yourself?"

"I was on the train," I replied; and I did hope she wouldn't press for any further particulars. But she did.

"Going somewhere?"

"No; coming back."

"How strange!" she repeated. "And you don't know where you went, or when you shaved off your beard, or what you did?"

"I—I'd hate to confess it to anybody else, but that is the exact fact."

"You poor, poor boy!" she cooed, patting my arm. "But you are feeling quite well-again now, aren't you?"

"So well that if I felt any better it would hurt."

"Then we'll just let it all go and forget it; whiff! just like that: now it's gone."

She was looking at her ring—and so was I, for that matter. "It's a perfectly beautiful stone, Roddy, dear. Are you sure you could afford it, the way diamonds are now?"

"He would be a mighty poor man who would admit that anything was too good for you," I said, as gallantly as I knew how.

"That is lover talk," she bubbled, nestling a bit nearer to me. "But I know how hard you've been trying to make good ever since daddy told you you'd have to be able to write a big check if you were going to keep on coming to see me; and when I look at this stone I feel horribly conscience-stricken."

When I looked at it, I was conscience-stricken, too. If I had bought it—and now the scales had tipped again to make me believe, that I must have been its buyer—I must assuredly have been crazier than a hopeless Bedlamite—with that awful bank debt looming like a tornado storm cloud in the immediate background.

"I really didn't want to take it—that night at the dinner dance," she went on, still talking about the ring. "You were not acting like yourself, and I was afraid you had just gone ahead and plunged recklessly when you bought it. Is the Big Deal so nearly a reality that you could afford to give me a thousand-dollar stone?"

"There will probably never be a time when I could afford it any better," I said.

"Then we'll forget that, too," she said, laughing happily; adding: "It's so dear to have you back, and—and entirely well."

It was no chivalrous prompting of decent loyalty to a faintly possible "other man" that kept me from putting my arms around her and kissing her—taking a chance that the negro driver didn't have eyes in the back of his head. I simply didn't want to; that was all. And a cold little chill went chasing up and down my spine when I realized that the change which had been wrought in me went miles deeper than the mere loss of memory. Whatever I had been to this luscious beauty in the past, there were no loverlike thrillings to answer her very manifest invitation now. And I was as sorry as any red-blooded man with a proper respect for a good woman could be.


SINCE it was noon of a business day there were not many people about the Town and Country Club. But the few seemed to know me well enough to stop and shake hands with me, congratulating me upon my improved appearance. There was one man, however, who didn't; a flashily dressed fellow with a hooked nose and boldly staring eyes. He came along and took a seat at a table in a far corner of the dining room, sat down, hid the staring eyes behind a pair of smoked glasses, and signaled a waiter. Besides ourselves, he was the only person in the room.

"Are you ready now to tell me all I've been wanting to know about the Big Deal, Roddy?" asked my handsome tablemate, after we had given our order.

"We shan't be so—er—so rotten rich," I deprecated.

"But you are going to win, aren't you?" she asked, a bit anxiously.

"It looks as if I'd got to win," I returned.

"You must, and you will," she asserted loyally. "You know, dear, I don't care the least little bit for myself; I'd go and live in a log cabin with you. But daddy is flint and adamant. He says I'm luxury-spoiled and he doesn't propose to see me taking in washing for a Jiving—as if it could ever come to anything like that! But daddy's awfully good to me, and I hate to deceive him."

"You mustn't deceive him," I put in, with the best air of conscious rectitude I could assume.

"But I've had to. I haven't dared tell him we're engaged. He—he almost made me promise that I wouldn't listen to anything you might say until after you'd 'made good,' as he calls it."

"But see here," I blurted out; "hasn't he seen your ring?"

She blushed as prettily as a warm blonde can blush—and that, as all the world knows, is perfection itself.

"I—I don't wear it at home," she confessed. "That is why I'm so anxious to have you tell me all the things I don't know—about the Big Deal. You've always said I couldn't understand: couldn't I, dear, if you tried to make me?"

"It is just business, you know," I evaded; "buying and selling, and that sort of thing. I—I have something to sell, and if I can make the turn it will run into a good bit of money." Then I took a long shot. "Wayne thinks my deal is a sure thing, cientemente."

The wide-set blue eyes narrowed a trifle. "Parker Wayne?" she queried; "has Parker Wayne anything to do with the Big Deal, Roddy?"

"He knows about it."

A little issue of strained silence, and then:

"Do you trust Parker Wayne when you wouldn't trust me?"

"Bless you!" I burst out; "it isn't a matter of trust, so far as you are concerned. And as for Wayne—"

"Listen," she broke in. "I haven't told you before, because—well, because I couldn't, you know. But now that we are engaged—Parker Wayne has asked me, dozens of times, to marry him; he asked me again the night you went away. I—I wanted to let him see your ring, but I didn't dare to. I was afraid he'd chatter and it would get around to daddy. I don't care for Parker Wayne; I think I don't trust him, Roddy, dear."

She was as right as rain. The round-bodied gentleman with the magpie eyes might be a person to be feared—but not trusted.

"He had a cast-iron nerve!" I commented. "I hope you told him where to get off, pronto."

"How funny you talk!" she laughed. "That is twice you've used words that I don't understand. What is pronto?"

"It is Spanish for 'quick;' I supposed everybody knew that."

"I never heard you use it before," she offered. "And that other word: 'cien'—'cienta'—what was it?"

"'Cientemente?' That means 'certainly,' 'surely.'"

"You must have been studying Spanish while you were gone. But about Parker Wayne: yes, I told him, as I have told him lots of times, that he didn't—er—intrigue me. Then he tried to say something about you—you and the Big Deal—but I wouldn't listen."

I heard what she said, but it didn't get fully across to me at the moment. I was thinking about that other thing she had said; that she had never heard me use Spanish words or phrases. For I had Spanish! A dozen times in that one forenoon of my life I had found myself thinking in Spanish. Dismissing this finally as another of the celestial—or infernal—mysteries, I came back to Parker Wayne.

"Wayne breakfasted with me this morning," I said. "He seems to think I owe him something."

"What kind of a thing?"

"Money, for one; and more absence, for another."

"How could you owe him money? You don't, do you?"

I smiled across the table at her. "That, my dear Alicia, is another of the things I can't remember."

"Didn't he tell you what you owed him for?"

"No; he merely mentioned the amount."

"Why didn't you pay him and let him go?"

"For a most excellent reason. I didn't happen to have a quarter of a million dollars in my clothes at the moment."

"Roddy!" she exclaimed. And then: "Why, he must have been crazy!"

"It struck-me that way, too. He promised to tell me all about it later; why I should hand him a quarter of a million, and why, after it is handed, I should disappear again."

Again her wide-set eyes grew thoughtful.

"I wish you wouldn't have anything to do with Parker Wayne, Roddy, dear; at least, not any more than you can help. You may call it just a woman's notion, if you like, but there are times when I fancy I can see a perfect villain behind that chubby, good-natured face of his. Why did he want you to disappear again?"

I chuckled and said, "Any time you'll look in a mirror I think you'll find the reason."

"Absurd!" she scoffed; and then: "If you're through, let's go and play a few holes of golf. I'd like to see if you have forgotten your famous drive along with the other things."

At this, I kicked out free and clear. I was entirely confident that I knew nothing about golf; which, as it appeared, I had known well enough to have a "famous drive" only a short ten days in the past. Business was the excuse for my refusal. It was accepted generously and we left the table and the dining room.

As we were passing through the archway into the clubhouse lobby I saw the flashily dressed man in the corner toss his napkin aside and push back his chair; this though he didn't seem to be more than halfway through the liberal meal he had ordered. Immediately cause and effect went into a clinch like that of a pair of affectionate box fighters. The winter-apple-faced old gentleman in the bank had asked to have me shadowed—and here was the result.

With a sigh that almost vocalized itself as a groan, I went with my charmer To the waiting machine, handed her in, and got in beside her. At the starting instant I stole a backward glance through the rear window—and saw what I fully expected to see. The man with the vociferous clothes was hastily climbing into another waiting machine which would doubtless follow ours.

It did. After a quick flight of a mile or so, our car drew up at the curb in front of the Coosa Building, and I saw the hack auto creeping along the street in search of a parking place, with the man in the checked suit holding the door half opened and waiting for a chance to spring out. Small wonder, then, that I was scarcely more than half alive to what my luncheon hostess was saying as I got out upon the sidewalk. But it did finally reach me.

"You're coming up to the house this evening, aren't you, Roddy?"

"I hardly think I shall be able to," I stammered. And then I snatched at the chance to tell the straight truth, for once, in a way: "I have a business appointment. A man is coming to see me to-night at the hotel; and I've been neglecting business so long—"

"Foolish!" she said, with the intonation that made the word a caress; "you don't have to apologize so profusely to me. I'll see you to-morrow."

And with that she told her driver to take her home.


FRESHLY reminded, by the presence of the tagging shadow artist, of the chains binding me to the treadmill which I had so lightly mounted, I entered the first elevator that offered—and saw the man in the loud clothes crowd himself rudely into the same car after the starter had tried to wave him aside to the next one. I thought I called my number plainly enough, but upon leaving the car I found myself on the tenth floor instead of the ninth. Searching for the stairs by which to descend, I ran across Mr. Frederic Norman; and a glance at the door signs showed me that the entire tenth floor was taken up by the Chiawassee Iron Works offices.

"Right-o! here you are again," bubbled the cheerful displayer of flamboyant neckwear. "Been to luncheon?"

I admitted that I had.

"So have I. Come on into my shack and have a smoke."

Being nervously eager to get back on the jail-breaking job, I was about to decline. Then I remembered that Miss Bledsoe would be out at luncheon, and that I had no key to the office. So I went along with Norman and lit a pipe which he was good enough to lend me.

"I can't seem to get used to you, without the beard, Rod," said the chipper sales manager when we were at ease in his private office. "You must have had a pretty violent change of heart to sacrifice it. The fellows at the club won't know you."

Here was another small rill to swell the growing stream of revealments: I was a member of a club, in which, as a matter of course, I would have to resume my activities—whatever they might have been. But that was merely a passing detail. What was most pressing just now was the avenue of escape in business. Because I was fairly desperate, I thrust out a feeler in the sales manager's direction.

"Fred, did I ever tell you anything about my big deal?" I asked.

He grinned. "Not enough to hurt."

"But I have told you something, haven't I?"

"Why, yes; in a general way. One night when we were driving over from the Town and Country you bragged a bit about a big bunch of fishing lines you had out that might bring in half a million or so. From what little you said, I gathered that it was a coal-land deal somewhere up in the mountains. I remember you added that you had stretched your bank credit to the limit to swing the thing."

"What else did I tell you?"

"You said that you had just had a streak of luck, but that it had cost a man his life. When I tried to get you to tell me how that could be, you shut up like a jolly old clam. Surely you remember that, don't you?"

"Dimly, if at all," I dodged; and for the third time in that thrilling day I thought I could feel the hair rising at the back of my head. "I didn't tell you I'd had anything to do with the man's death, did I?"

"Hardly," he said, with a laugh. "But how about it now? Are you ready to loosen up?"

"Not quite yet," I answered.

"Is the deal going through?"

"Here's hoping; and if you know a stronger word, let me have it and I'll use it."

At that he became deprecatory in a friendly way. "You throw yourself too hard on your job, old man," he said, as chummily as possible. "I'm wise to your reason, of course; but that's largely bunk. If Alicia Treadway wants to marry you, she'll do it; and it won't make any difference whether you lack a bawbee or a million. She's a mighty fine girl, Rodney—and that isn't saying half enough for her. I suppose you've seen her since you got back?"

"I've just been to luncheon with her."

"Good boy! You keep the rigging taut on that side of the boat and old Josiah can't capsize you, no matter what he says or does. He—"

The day being springtime warm, the corridor door had been left open when we entered. At the sound of footsteps we both looked up—I to see the winter-apple-faced, sharp-eyed old gentleman of the bank conference passing the open door, Norman to break off short in the middle of his sentence. When a door opened and shut somewhere farther down the corridor, Norman grinned at me.

"Speak of the 'Old Nick' and you straightway hear the clatter of his hoofs," he chuckled.

I was far beyond making any fitting response to this light-hearted jest. There was a horrible, choking sensation in my throat, but I contrived to keep the symptoms submerged. I thought I had sounded the depths upon finding that I was engaged to a young woman who, however charming she might be, was still a stranger to me. But here was a bottomless pit of a deeper depth; Alicia's father, and the old man who had, vicariously at least, set the shadow hound upon me, were one and the same. I recalled his final word to Cashier Clegg: "There are other reasons, too—personal reasons—why I'd like to have him—er—investigated." The personal reasons were plain enough now!

"I'll have to be getting back to the grind," I broke out, as soon as I could trust myself to speak; and then, as casually as I could say it: "Where was Mr. Treadway going?"

Norman laughed.

"To President Gordon's office, for a guess. He bought some Chiawassee stock a month or so ago, and he's been deviling Gordon ever since, trying to find out whether there's any chance of making our next quarterly dividend two and three-quarters instead of two and a half."

I took my time descending the single flight of stairs and traversing the corridor on the floor below. Every step was leading me deeper into a morass from which escape seemed blankly impossible. Fervently I cursed the fate which had led me to leave the train at South Tredegar merely because a Pullman porter had told me that South Tredegar was my destination. Why hadn't I paid another fare and kept on going?

Back in that past which was buried in such a deep grave I must have had some reason for taking a ticket from somewhere to South Tredegar. And what could that reason have been unless I were really Rodney Hazzard returning from the runaway trip begun ten days before?

That was one view of it, and the other was no less bewildering. If all these things that were happening to me were any part of the life I had been living up to a period which evidently dated from that delirious Thursday night of the Town and Country dinner dance, the short interval between that and this had assuredly wiped the slate clean. On the other hand, it was baldly incredible that so many people would accept me unquestioningly as Rodney Hazzard if I were not Rodney Hazzard. Casual acquaintances might be so misled, but it was beyond belief that the young woman who was secretly wearing Rodney Hazzard's engagement ring should be.

And here was another grief. I was engaged to a charming young woman who seemed to be well worthy of the best that any man could give her, but if I'd ever been in love with her, I couldn't recall the fact. Contrariwise, I found myself perilously near to falling in love with a very different type of young woman. It was a lovely mess.

Miss Bledsoe was back in her place when I entered the ninth-floor office, and with her, and waiting for my return, was a big, burly man whom Miss Judith introduced as Mr. Daniel Hilliard, owner of certain Alabama coal lands.

Mr. Hilliard, it transpired, had been sent to me by one of my—or Rodney Hazzard's—many friends, and he wished to consult me professionally. This gentleman, with his thick roll of blue prints and enough data to have filled a small volume, accounted for the entire afternoon. His purpose was to operate his coal properties himself, and what he wanted was a complete layout of a mining plant.

Here, again, the mysteries took the center of the stage. Without the slightest knowledge of how I had come by it, I found that I possessed the workable equipment of a technical and practical mining engineer; was able to enter easily into the details of my patron's plans, to draw sketches for him, to make cost estimates. At the close of the long conference he shook my hand warmly.

"You are precisely the man I've been looking for, Mr. Hazzard," he said gratefully. "My friend and yours—Mr. Tom Jeff Gordon, didn't overrate you at all. He said that if I could catch you when you weren't neck deep in some of your own enterprises, you could give me exactly what I wanted. Now, if you'll let me use your desk a moment—" I got up and gave him the desk and my chair; saw him take a slip of paper from his pocket and write upon it. The next thing I knew he was handing me his check for five hundred dollars.

"That is by way of a retaining fee," he explained. "I want to make sure of you, Mr. Hazzard A little later I'm going to ask you to take a day or so and run down to my place for a look-over. This talk we have had is going to be worth a good deal of money to me, and if you'll stay with me you'll find that I'm no piker. Mr. Gordon has been kind enough to put me up at his club, the Cupola, and if you can come around this evening, I'll be glad to have you take dinner with me."

When he bowed himself out my bright little business girl was fussing over her typewriter. With a feeling that I was letting myself in for at least another ten years in the penitentiary, I wrote "Rodney Hazzard" on the back of Mr. Hilliard's check and passed it over to her.

"We are doing business," I observed. "You may put that in your bank deposit to-morrow."

As once or twice at the beginning of things that day, she gave me that curious look which was as unreadable as a sentence in Sanskrit. And what she said had no bearing whatever upon the Hilliard check.

"I hope you had a pleasant luncheon."

"Why shouldn't it have been pleasant?" I inquired.

"I'm sure I don't know—if you don't." Then, like a bolt from the blue, and with a flash in the dark eyes: "Did you tell Miss Alicia?"

The sudden demand nearly bowled me out of my chair. What was it that I should have told Miss Treadway? I evaded craftily.

"I told her everything she wanted to know—so far as I could."

"That is better," was the cryptic reply. "I—I was afraid you might not be going to. Now if you will give me that data of Mr. Hilliard's, I'll put it in type and send it around to the Cupola Club. If you take dinner with him, he will want to talk over his plans some more."

"But you needn't work overtime," I protested.

"Mr. Hilliard has been in town for the better part of a week trying to give this office a commission," she answered with a touch of asperity. "The least you can do is to give him all the time you can spare."

I took this meekly, even humbly. So far from provoking any feeling of resentment, her air of calm proprietorship was the most grateful thing I had encountered in all that day of chaotic upsettings. For a thrilling moment I forgot the menace of the huge bank loan, the man with the loud clothes, even the exasperating loss of memory that was making me trip and stumble and blunder like a blind man in new and strange encompassments; forgot, also, that I was duly engaged to marry the daughter of the winter-apple-faced gentleman who was going to prove me a criminal, if he could.

It was the resurgence of the memory of all these things, and particularly of the sudden loveless engagement manacling me, that made me slam down the curtain of the roll-top desk and get out. As I was heading for the elevators I had another glimpse of the man in the loud-voiced garments. He was sitting in the window seat at the corridor end, and when he saw me he started up to hurry toward the elevators. But he was too late to catch the car that I went down in.

Since I had nothing in particular to conceal—as yet—I ignored Mr. Josiah Treadway's Flawkshaw person and took a turn around the block to locate the situation of the Cupola Club. Having done this, I betook myself to the Marlboro and to the seclusion of the seventh-floor suite, where I sat and smoked, and wrestled like Jacob of old with his crippling angel in despairing—and futile—efforts to rediscover myself; this until it came time to go and keep the dinner engagement with Mr. Hilliard.

At the club I had to run the gantlet of a bunch of men who knew me most intimately, as it seemed, and who were as unknown to me as if I had never seen a single one of them before. If I were the impostor I so keenly wished to be, no man of them all appeared even to suspect it. With such a cloud of witnesses I saw that any alibi for me was out of the question. If I should swear on a stack of Bibles a mile high that I wasn't Rodney Hazzard, there were scores of South Tredegarites who would cheerfully rise up to testify that I was either a liar or had lost my mind.

I suppose it is possible for the human mind to hold its own for a certain length of time against any number of batterings from without; to stand alone in its own convictions, no matter how much pressure may be brought to bear upon it by other minds. But in the nature of things there must be a limit, a moment when the batterings have their due and inevitable effect. Tell a person often enough that he is a sick man, and in time he becomes a sick man. More and more as the exciting day had worn on, the confident, early-morning Resumption that I wasn't—that I couldn't be—Rodney Hazzard had been breaking down under the overwhelming assault of evidence to the contrary; and the good-natured rallyings and handshakings of the club members finally tipped the scale. If I wasn't the original and only Rodney Hazzard, one of two things was certain: either I was dreaming or South Tredegar was a community of credulous simpletons ripe for a visit of the fool killer.

The dinner with the Alabama coal-land owner was a pretty long-drawn-out affair, be-studded with much business talk, so it was after nine o'clock when I bade my genial entertainer good night and walked around to the Marlboro. As I pushed through the swing doors of the lobby entrance the first person I saw was Wayne. He was leaning back in one of the leather-cushioned lounging chairs, smoking a cigarette, but he sprang quickly to his feet when he caught sight of me.

"You're here at last, are you?" he said brusquely: "I've been waiting an hour and more. Let's go up to your rooms."

"What for?" I asked bluntly.

"Because our business is private—or, at least, it had better be."

I offered no objections. Apart from Miss Judith Bledsoe, this man was my only known source of information regarding the big deal.

In the sitting room of the suite, and with the lights switched on, Wayne turned the key in the door and closed the transom.

"Not for my sake, but for yours," he threw out snappily as he planted himself in a chair on the opposite side of the writing table from me. "Now, if you'll kindly keep your hands where I can see them—" This was the back-breaking straw. I had no means of knowing how gentle and easygoing I had been with him in the past; but I did know that this cool demand of his made me see red.

"My hands are my own!" I rapped out angrily. "If you don't want to feel the weight of them, you'll keep a. civil tongue in your head I What are you driving at, anyway?"

He leaned back and lighted another cigarette, and over the blaze of the match I saw that he was regarding me with something like a little shock of surprise. But his answer was collected enough.

"Nothing that you need to get so explosive about. But the way you acted this morning when I told you you'd have to whack up with me on the Guess Mountain rake-off makes me a bit prudent; that's all. Judging from your new attitude, you've been kidding yourself into the notion that you can scrap it out with me; but you know you can't; you're not built right for the rough stuff. I found that out a good while ago. If you'd had any really red blood in you at all—"

"Cut out the personalities. They're not getting you anywhere."

"They are getting something, however—your goat, for example," he flung out, with a mean little sneer. Then he sat up to drill me with the unwinking eyes. "You've got to come across, Hazzard, if you want me to keep my mouth shut. You're going to listen to reason."

"Suppose you spill a little of this superfluous reason."

"I'm going to. Two hundred and fifty thousand is my price, and I want to be reasonably certain that I'm going to get it. The assurance part of it is a very simple one. You have a safety-deposit box in the Coosa Security, and so have I. In your box you doubtless have the options without which you cannot close the deal with Muhlenberg and his principals. To-morrow morning at nine o'clock sharp we'll go to the bank together and transfer that bunch of options from your box to mine. When the thing comes to a head, you give me a certified check for my share, and I give you the options. What more could you ask?"

"A mere nothing—the answers to a couple of trivial questions. Why, in the name of ten thousand devils, should I give you two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, or even that many copper pennies? Why, on the other hand, shouldn't I throw you out of this room and kick you down half a dozen flights of stairs?"

"My commission—brokerage," he tossed out, defining the first "why." "Who put you next in this Guess Mountain deal in the first place? And how far along would you have got if I had told these mountaineer hicks how much you were going to make out of them? You thought you were keeping things dark, but I know every move you've made; got 'em down in black and white. I could queer the deal to-morrow, if I wanted to. You've borrowed up to your neck in the bank and a word in Clegg's ear would bring him down on you like a thousand of brick. And as to the kicking part. Say, Hazzard; you wouldn't kick a stray yellow dog—not if I claimed to own it. You haven't that kind of sand."

Disconcerted as I was over the discovery that this bird-eyed footpad knew so much more about my affairs than I myself did, I still found time to wonder what reason I had given him in the past to believe that I was in the habit of taking any man's bluff lying down.

"You seem to be taking a lot for granted," I told him. "But I'm still waiting to be shown. Got anything else up your sleeve?"

He gave me a queer look, as if this line of talk wasn't what he had been used to hearing from me. Then he shook his head.

"It won't go, Hazzard; it's too late for you to try to put up a front, now. You won't fight man-fashion; it isn't in you. And you'll come across; first with those options, and later with the kale. The grand jury is now in session in Talbot County. If you weaken, I might be tempted to go before that jury and tell it how you plotted to get old Jeff Layne killed off out of the way, so that his Cousin Joab, with whom he was at feud, would fall heir to that key-piece tract in Noble's Gap and sign the one option without which all the others were worthless. If you will make me stick the knife into you and turn it around a few times, I can do it!"

Before the words were fairly out of his mouth I was over the table and at him, and if he hadn't been wearing a stiff collar, I should have choked the breath out of him while he was struggling free of me, and of the wrecked chair in which he had been sitting. Naturally, I expected to see the flash of a weapon next; and I was kicking the broken chair out of the way for another jump at him when I saw it wasn't going to be needed. He was coughing and clawing at his collar, and the look in the magpie eyes was about equally divided between fright and a shocked and incredulous astoundment.

I didn't give him time to say anything. With the red haze still blurring things for me, I ran to the door, unlocked it, and flung it open. Grabbing him again I chucked him into the corridor, where he got his feet tangled and fell down. When he bounded up like a smitten rubber ball the fright and astoundment in his face had given place to a mask of the most malignant rage a round, fat face could harbor.

"So you dug around until you found a scrap or two of a fighting man's nerve, did you?" he yelped; and then, shaking like a person coming down with an ague fit: "This is going to cost you the other half of your rake-off—that, and the girl! And I'll live to see you hanged, or rotting in a convict coal mine! I'll—"

The interruption was a foot race, up one corridor and down another to the elevator alcove. He beat me to it by a neck, as you might say, and had the good luck to find a down-going car just stopping at the seventh floor.

I went back to Suite 709, puffing and blowing a bit and feeling strangely elated. It was as if the brief red-blooded struggle had suddenly opened a wide door into spaces that were half familiar; areas in which I had aforetime been able to fight for my own hand as a man among men. And with the exultant feeling came a sort of war-horse lilt—"as the steed smelleth the battle afar off," as the old Hebrew writer puts it. Providence or Fate—name it as you will—had been pleased to draw an impenetrable curtain between me and my past, but it hadn't palsied my fighting hand. With all the handicaps, or in spite of them, I would pry Rodney Hazzard's stalled wagon out of the mud, or break a leg trying.

It was with this fine resolution singing in my brain that I turned off the sitting-room lights and retreated to Rodney Hazzard's bedroom. And I didn't know what prompting it was that made me turn the photograph of Alicia Treadway with its back to the room before I began to prepare for bed.


AS I was shaving and bathing the next morning, I noted that a night's sleep had in nowise abated the fighting mood in which I had gone to bed. Taking a bit of setting-up exercise while I was still aglow from the rough toweling, I fairly ached to get my hands one more time upon the round-bodied, fat-faced scoundrel who had so coolly assumed that he could hold me up for a quarter of a million.

The gravamen of his charge; that I had procured the death of a man to further the deal, had not yet assumed its full weight with me. But presently it began to ask for something like sober consideration. Had I really, in that past which was so effectually hidden from me, fallen so low as to connive at the killing of a man who happened to be in my way?

I set the circumstances, so far as they had developed, in orderly array; the huge transaction financed with borrowed capital; at the critical conjuncture, the road to fortune—and consequently to Alicia Treadway add happiness—blocked by one stubborn old man at feud with his relatives and quite probably with his neighbors. Could I—had I—in a moment of half-mad desperation, prompted or paid one of these feudatories to abolish the obstacle? It seemed grossly, inhumanly incredible: and yet I, or Rodney Hazzard, was the one who would profit most largely by the crime.

Again my thoughts flicked to the bright little business girl whose manner toward me was so curiously half aloof and half mandatory. She doubtless knew all the ins and outs of the tragedy. Could I contrive to make her tell me—without betraying my own utter ignorance of all the details?

It was a letter in the morning mail that gave me an opportunity, of a sort. Miss Judith was tidying up the office when I let myself in, and her greeting of me had been little more than a nod, and a glance of those transcendentally beautiful—and unreadable—eyes. The letter in question bore the office heading of an attorney in a town named Shotwell, and the writer, who signed himself "T.J. Blantley," had evidently been employed by me—or Rodney Hazzard—in the dickering for the coal-land option's. He wrote:


This world wouldn't be complete without the trouble makers. A man whom we both know—Parker Wayne—has been up here nosing into the quarrel between old Jeff Layne and his kin, and trying to make out that the killing wasn't altogether the result of the feud. I couldn't learn what his object was, or is, but I thought you ought to be tipped off. As nearly as I can judge, he seems to have been laying strings to mix you up in it. He let drop a few hints that have set people talking. Layne wouldn't agree to sell his Noble's Gap land, and Joab Layne, his next of kin and residuary legatee, was willing to give you an option, and, after Jeff's death, he did it. The hint Wayne left lying around was to the effect that you are the only man who benefited by the homicide.

It's a thousand pities Sheriff Quade didn't capture young Tryan before Tryan skipped the country after the shooting. Bud had his own reasons for killing Layne, and if he could have been brought into court he would have cleared the air. He is a tough youngster, but I believe he would tell the truth and shame the devil if he were brought to book.

If there is anything I can do at this end of the line, let me know. It is only talk, as yet, but you never can tell where the gossips will stop. In the meantime, if I might venture to advise, I would suggest that it would be well for you to close your deal at as early a date as possible. With a great corporation in actual possession and development work under way, the Layne episode will soon be forgotten. I shall be in Cincinnati for the next few days, but after that I'm entirely at your service.

After I had read this letter carefully twice, I turned to my silent and self-contained little helper.

"Miss Judith, I think you must have known, before I—er—went away, that I was a sick man?" I began.

"Were you?" she remarked, rather enigmatically, I thought.

"Everybody says I was, so I must have been," I returned. "And that brings on more talk: while I am perfectly well and fit now, so far as I can determine, my—er—sickness has left me a bit hazy, so to speak, about matters that went on before I turned up missing. I wish you'd read this letter and tell me what you make of it." And I handed her Attorney Blantley's scrawl.

"Well?" she queried, giving the letter back after the long-lashed, slumberous eyes had swept the page. "What is it you want me to tell you?"

"I wish you would refresh my memory about this Layne affair. I don't seem to recall that I was mixed up in it in any way."

She gave me the strangest look I have ever seen on a woman's face.

"You were not," she said promptly. Then came another bolt from the blue: "Why do you go on trying to keep up this farce with me, Mr. Hazzard? Surely you ought to know that you can trust me, at least."

"Well, then, I will trust you," I broke out impulsively. "I've simply got to trust somebody. I've lost my memory, Miss Judith—lost it completely."

Again she gave me that strange look.

"You have lost your—" She got that far and then stopped abruptly with a little toss of the pretty head, leaving the sentence in the air. Then, as from a new beginning, "Very well; if you wish to put it that way, I suppose I can play my part—only I don't see any sense in it. What is it you wish me to tell you about the Layne murder?"

"Everything you know about it."

Soberly she gave me the details, enlarging a bit upon Wayne's story. Jefferson Layne, a hard-headed old mountaineer, owned a hill farm in a certain mountain gap which offered the only practicable railroad approach to the valuable coal lands owned by other members of the Layne clan beyond and behind it. The old man had no use for modern progress—or for money, as it seemed—and had steadily refused to option his land. Out of his stubbornness an old family feud had sprung alight and there had been bitter quarreling between the octogenarian and his kinsmen who wanted him to sell. One thing had Drought on another until finally the old man had taken a tempery shot at another old man—one of his cousins. Whereupon a wild and rather dissolute son of the shot-at one had gone gunning for Layne and had killed him.

"And by that means the option on the Noble's Gap land was obtained?" I queried.

She nodded.

"It does look a little bad for me, doesn't it?" I said.

"It wouldn't look so if young Tryan hadn't been here so often during the negotiations for his father's land."

So I had hobnobbed with this young murderer in the past, it appeared. Quite possibly I had paid his town board bills and the like while he was dickering with me on behalf of his father. It gave me a mighty helpless feeling not to know exactly how far. I had laid myself open to suspicion. I say "I," for by this time I was pretty well over the fence on the Rodney Hazzard side of things. It was foolish to go on denying the multiplied and constantly multiplying evidences on that score when I had nothing but a silly blank to set over against them.

It was while I sat mulling over the bewildering tangle that was growing more and more binding at every turn, that I chanced to glance at the little desk clock ticking away industriously in its paper-weight case. The hands were pointing to nine, and precisely upon the stroke of the hour the door of the outer office opened and I spun my chair in time to see Wayne letting himself in.

The sight of the blackmailer, coming thus to insist upon his security terms after the lesson he had had the night before, promptly started another brain storm, and the next thing I knew we were at it again, hammer and tongs; crashing over the furniture in the outer room, knocking the trestle legs from under the big drawing board to let it careen and break a window, surging against the light counter railing to wrench it loose from one of its wall anchorings, rough-housing the game like a pair of frantic cave men.

This time I didn't have quite such an easy victory. Wayne was short, but stubby and pretty solid on his feet, and he fought like a tiger. Moreover, he was ready for me, and his first move when he saw me coming was to whip an automatic out of a hip pocket. It was my efforts to get the gun away from him that brought on the office wreckage, and when I finally twisted it out of his hand, discretion got the better part of valor and the battle ended as the other one had—in a breakaway and a race for safety, the racer slamming the corridor door to baffle pursuit as he shot through it.

I guess I wasn't a very pretty object to look at as I strode back into the private office, puffing and blowing a bit, and more or less rumpled and disheveled by the rough-and-tumble wrestling match. Judie Bledsoe was sitting as I had left her, half crouching in her typewriter chair with her hands to her ears, but she didn't look half as shocked as she had a right to when I tossed the captured piece of artillery upon the desk with a gritted out, "That's that!" On the contrary, her lips were twitching as if she wanted to laugh. It was the sight of the weapon that made her say, with a little gasp:

"Good gracious!—was he—did he try to shoot you?"

"He may have had something like that in mind, but it didn't work out," I bragged. "If he ever shows his fat face in this office again, there'll be something doing!"

"My—oh, my!" she breathed; and then: "I'm rather glad, you know. He—he hasn't been very nice to me."

"Huh!" said I. "If I'd known that, I'd have broken him in two and thrown him out of the window!" And I meant it.

"I believe you could do it if you wanted to. What a perfectly splendid temper you have!"

"Haven't I always had temper enough?" I demanded.

She shook her head a bit doubtfully.

"How can I tell? You're so different from the Mr. Hazzard I thought I knew so well. You—he was always too easy and good-natured, especially with this Mr. Wayne. I—I think you must have lost a good many things besides your—er—memory, don't you know?"

"I haven't lost nearly as many as I'm going to lose, if you don't stand by me and help me remember a few things," I asserted solemnly. "Do you happen to know how much of a loan account is charged up against this office in the bank?"

"Yes, I know," she nodded.

"Well, you know what the money was borrowed for and where it went. Mr. Clegg told me yesterday that I'd have to be doing something about those notes. Do you happen to know anything about a Mr. Muhlenberg?"

"Why—yes; I know that he has been here a number of times. He is the attorney for the New York people who want to buy the' Guess Mountain lands."

"Was there any word from him while I was—um—away?"


I looked her squarely in the eyes and tried to remember that this was business and not sentiment—and it wasn't so easy to do.

"I can see that you don't more than half believe me when I tell you that I can't recollect; but—"

"Let that go," she broke in. "Ask me anything you like."

"All right; thank you. Were you present when this Mr. Muhlenberg was here last?"

"I was."

"You heard what was said?"

"Not all of it."

"Can you tell me where the hitch is in the land sale?"

"I can't... There didn't seem to be any. The New York people had tried very hard to beat us to it, but we beat them."

"I see," I said. "By cutting in ahead of them and getting the options."

"That was some time ago," she went on. "After they found that they had to do business with us instead of with the owners of the land, Mr. Muhlenberg came with a proposal. The last time he was here, I understood, from what was said, that the syndicate was willing to come to our terms, but that the land titles would have to be reexamined by another guaranty company."

"Then, if everything proved satisfactory, the deal was to go through?" I asked.

"That is what I understood."

"Have we, or ought we to have, this Mr. Muhlenberg's address hidden away somewhere?"

"It would certainly seem as if we ought—though it isn't in the files."

"Very well," I replied; "help me to find it."

She came obediently, and together we began to ransack the big, roll-top desk. Her attitude toward me was still more or less puzzling. Her disbelief in the loss-of-memory plea was perfectly evident, and yet she seemed to accept it, in a way, and to be willing to help. As we pulled out the desk drawers and examined their contents together I found that the physical nearness of her affected me in quite a different manner from the limousine-seat proximity of Miss Alicia Treadway, and I found myself wondering why under the sun, in that past which was so completely bottled up, I had been so besotted as to prefer the cool-eyed, Junoesque daughter of much money to this warm-blooded, capable little beauty with whom, apparently, I had been in daily association for goodness knows how long.

While we were still rummaging, to no effect, it was purely a mad impulse that prompted me to say: "Did you tell me, before I went away, that you were going to be married, Miss Judith?"

"What a question!" she laughed; but she did not answer it with a "yes" or "no."

"I wonder if I could have dreamed it?" I suggested.

"How should I know what you have dreamed?"

"Quite so," I admitted; adding, "all the more, since I don't know, myself. This is a great old life we're living—if one doesn't weaken."

"Judging from what you did to Mr. Wayne a few minutes ago, I should say you are not the weakening kind," she put in; and, as she pulled out another of the desk drawers, "If you only hadn't tried to make me believe that you had lost your memory."

"I didn't want to tell you that," I qualified.

"Then why did you?"

"Because it is the truth, and I had to tell you."

She sat back in the chair she had drawn up, with a bunch of papers in her lap; sat back and gave me a sort of Mona Lisa smile.

"It was awfully clumsy, you know; and altogether unnecessary; at least, with me, and—well—er—with Miss Treadway. I can understand how you might not wish to tell other people, after you found out that they didn't need to know. But with Miss Alicia and me——"

As nearly as I could make out, this dark-eyed little mixture of hard common sense and bewitching loveliness still thought I had been lying to her about the memory lapse. More than this, it was quite apparent that she was keeping something back that she knew, or thought she knew, a lot more than she was willing to put into words.

"We don't seem to be finding out very rapidly what Mr. Muhlenberg's address is," I remarked, as we turned over the contents of the last of the desk drawers, "and without it I can't make a move. Meanwhile, the situation in the bank downstairs is growing sort of calido."

"'Calido?' What is that?" she asked.

"'Calido' is Spanish for 'warm,'" I explained. "Didn't you ever hear me use any Spanish words?"

"Never," she denied soberly. "But it is quite natural that you should use them."

Here was another little layer to add to the thickening mass of puzzles. Why should she say anything like that? Why, if she had never heard me use Spanish, should she remark that it was quite natural that I should use it? It was maddening.

I was wandering in the maze into which these and the other bewildering and befogging questions led when the door of the outer office swung wide to admit a big, two-fisted brother who looked as if he might be a foreman of laborers on a construction job. As one who knew precisely what he was about, he came on in, tapping me on the shoulder, and flipped the lapel of his coat to show me a silver star.

"You're arrested on a wire from the sheriff o' Talbot County," he grunted. "Orders to hold yuh till they can send down for yuh. Reckon yuh'll come along peaceable? Or will I—" and he jingled something that clinked ominously in his coat pocket.

"What's the charge?" I demanded, struggling to my feet.

"Dunno," he returned sourly. "Mebbe the gran' jury up at Shotwell's a-layin' of to ask yuh a few questions about the way ol' man Layne come to get hisself shot up. Yuh'll find out when you get there. Let's be goin'."

I reached for my hat, with my brain in a whirl. This was as swift as the snappy return of a hit punching bag. Whatever else might be said of him, Mr. Parker Wayne had certainly slept no great while upon his wrongs.


WHEN the burly deputy tapped me on the shoulder and told me I was under arrest, Judie Bledsoe gave a little suppressed shriek and dropped her lapful of papers. But the next minute she got her grip again.

"Won't you please let me have a word with Mr. Hazzard before you take him away?" she begged of the burly one, with honey on her tongue.

"Make it short," he grated, and went into the outer room.

"They can't prove a single thing against you!" she protested, in a feverish whisper, when the big man's back was turned. "If it comes to the worst, you must let me know. Promise me that!"

"Then you know more than you have told me?" I asked.

"I know everything. But I—I'll keep your foolish secret until you tell me that I don't need to—or until I have to tell it. And I'll go on trying to find out how Mr. Muhlenberg can be reached. You'll trust me that far, won't you?"

"I'd trust you with my head. But this begins to look rather fierce. If I only knew how much or little I'm mixed up in this Layne murder—"

"You are not mixed up in it at all! You must know, perfectly well, that you are not; but if you don't know it, I do!"

The deputy was coming in and my short reprieve was ended. To put as good a face as possible upon the matter, I said, so that he could hear:

"There is nothing to this, Miss Judith. Just keep the office open, as usual, and when you have time, call up Mr. Fred Norman and tell him what has happened."

As we were passing out through the anteroom my captor noticed the shattered windowpane and wrecked furniture.

"Been breakin' up housekeepin'?" he interrogated.

"Little scrap with a holdup man," I explained. "He tried to pull a gun on me—did pull one on me—and I took it away from him and threw him out."

"Huh!" he remarked, as we were pacing the corridor together. "They didn't tell me yuh was a scrapper. Maybe I'd better put the 'come-alongs' on yuh, after all."

"Don't worry," I laughed. "I'm crazy, I suppose, but not crazy enough to try to mix it with an officer of the law. Where are we headed for—the county jail?"

"You're a mighty good little guesser," he returned.

At the county institution for transgressors I got some little consideration from the sheriff, a lean, lank man with rather shifty eyes, but with the manner of a bluff and genial tavern keeper.

"Mighty sorry to have to rile the water for you this a way, Mistuh Hazzard," he said, in a slow, Southern drawl, "but a wire requisition from another county don't give us no leeway." Then to the deputy, "Take Mistuh Hazzard upstairs to Number Two and let him send for anybody he wants to see. I don't reckon Quade'll be down for him till some time this afte'noon."

The prison cell to which I was conducted was a plainly furnished sleeping room in the second story of the jail office, and, apart from the locked door and the barred windows, there was little suggestion of a prison about it. Left to myself, I began to try to piece the possibilities together. How far could Wayne go in his attempt to involve me in the Layne murder? If I were to take Judie Bledsoe's impassioned whisper at its face value, I might believe myself entirely innocent; but between this belief and the proving of it there was a great gulf fixed, as the Good Book says.

One point seemed reasonably clear. Wayne was out for money, and the mere fact of getting me accused of complicity in a murder wasn't going to enable him to arrive anywhere in the money field. So long as the land options remained locked up in my safety box, there would be nothing doing in Finance Street. Just the same, I did wish most heartily that I could remember a few things.

With plenty of time in which to gather my mind, I bethought me of the sheriff's permission to shout for help. The enlistment of an able lawyer seemed to be the first and most important requisite, and doubtless, in my former incarnation, I had had—must have had—a good legal adviser; the careful manner in which the options had been prepared told me that much. Why hadn't I asked Judie Bledsoe who my attorney was? I was metaphorically flagellating myself for this omission when a key rasped in the lock of the door, the bolt was shot, and Mr. Frederic Norman breezed in.

"Great land, Rodney, old man!" he ejaculated, wringing my hand sympathetically, "this is something fierce!" Then, "I came as soon as I got the word. I happened to be out when Judie telephoned first. What on top of the footstool are they trying to do to you now?"

I told him as much as I could—which was mighty little: how I had been accused by somebody of complicity in the killing of an old mountaineer up-State—a man who had been blocking a deal on some coal lands—the deal we had talked about the day before. On the strength of that accusation I was to be taken before the grand jury of Talbot County.

"Rot!" said Rodney Hazzard's good friend. "Somebody must have been having fried brains for breakfast! But Berwick will pull you out of this all right. Have you sent for him?"

Here was my hope of salvation again, handed me on a silver platter, as one might say. Berwick was doubtless the attorney whose name I couldn't recall.

"No," I confessed, "I haven't sent for him. To tell the plain truth, this thing hit me so unexpectedly that I—"

"Of course," he agreed; "it would knock anybody out of the box. I'll go dig Berwick up myself and get him here in a holy jiffy. How much time have you got before they ship you off to Talbot County?"

I told him what the sheriff had said about the other sheriff's afternoon probability.

"A rough road and an auto drive," said Norman; "there is no afternoon train. But you won't mind the drive. I suppose you've made it often enough to be used to it by this time."

I said "Yes," because I supposed I was used to the drive, if he thought I was. But if I had ever driven anywhere out of South Tredegar, the fact was still eluding me.

"I snatched a minute to tell Gordon about your arrest," Norman went on. "He says it's an outrage, and that is what all of your friends will say. If it should happen to develop into anything serious, you'll have plenty of backing. Now I'll chase out and find Berwick and get him up here. Anything else I can do for you on the outside?"

"Nothing that I think of—except to tell Miss Judith she's not to worry about me."

"There is a mighty fine little girl, Rod—one in a thousand. I don't believe you more than half appreciate what a treasure you have in her. But, of course, you wouldn't—while you're carrying an eyeful of Alicia Treadway. That reminds me: how is Alicia going to take this arrest-and-prosecution business?—or, rather, I should say, how is old Josiah going to take it?"

"Alicia will take it sensibly, I am sure," I ventured to forecast. "As for her father—well, I'm afraid I'm in rather bad in that quarter, Fred."

"I've guessed as much. But if you can emulate Little Jack Horner—put in your thumb and pull out a plum, you know—the old man will forgive you. Poverty is the one thing he doesn't forgive."

"Here's hoping," I smiled; and at that Norman left on his errand of succor.

I had waited less than half an hour when there came another rattling of the key in the lock, and my lawyer was with me; an undersized, alert little man, with cool, gray eyes, an aggressive nose, a mouth that was a mere straight line, and the jaw of a stubborn fighter.

"Well, well, Rodney, my boy!—they told me yesterday you were back in town, and I've been looking for you to drop in on me," he began. Then he made the customary comment upon my changed appearance. "If I didn't know you so well, I shouldn't recognize you, with that clean shave. But what have you been doing to get yourself behind the bars?"

Once more I briefed the facts, only this time I made them a little more circumstantial, inserting Mr. Parker Wayne in his proper place in the account.

"Ha!" said my attentive listener. "So Wayne has shown his hand at last, has he? I told you he was holding something in the background, as you will remember."

"As I don't remember," I returned, seeing at once that there was no use trying to keep my immense handicap concealed from my lawyer—not if I expected him to defend me intelligently.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"Just what I say. I don't remember your telling me anything at all. As a matter of fact, I don't even remember you, Mr. Berwick," and with that I described the crude, amnesic misfortune which had befallen me.

"You've been to see a doctor?" he queried.

"It was the first thing I did, yesterday; morning, Wentworth, the nerve specialist in the Severance Building. It puzzled him as much as it puzzles me. Everybody tells me that I was a sick man when I went away some ten days ago, and this thing, whatever it is, may have been coming on at that time. However that may be, it is here and with me now. I can't recall a single happening that dates back of six o'clock yesterday morning."

The little lawyer's thin lips grew thinner as he pressed them together and shook his head.

"That certainly complicates matters rather desperately for us, Rodney, as you must see. Have you told anybody else about this—ah—memory lapse?"

"The doctor, Miss Judith Bledsoe, and Miss Alicia Treadway. The doctor accepts it in all seriousness; Miss Treadway brushes it aside as a matter of no moment—though it is only fair to her to say that I didn't go very deeply into particulars with her; and Miss Judith doesn't believe it at all."

"What reason has she for doubting it?"

"I wish I knew."

He jumped up, walked to a window, and stood for a time jingling the keys in his pocket. When he turned back to me it was to say: "That this should have come upon you just now is little short of a calamity, Rodney; but I suppose we shall have to accept it and do the best we can, hoping that your memory machinery will start up again in time to help us out. I'm assuming that you can't recall having had any dealings at all with this young hothead, Tryan, who did the shooting?"

"Naturally not."

"Tryan's father owns one of the most promising of the coal tracts on Guess Mountain, and like most of the others it was shut off from any possible transportation line by Layne's refusal to sell even a right of way for a spur track through Noble's Gap. Young Tryan did all the figuring with you on his father's property; was down here a number of times to confer with you. You were hospitable to him, as you would have been to any prospective seller. This will be used against you."

"Doubtless," I agreed. "I probably paid his railroad fare and hotel bills."

"You did this on one occasion that I know of, and there were most likely others. In ordinary circumstances I should merely advise you to tell the grand jury exactly and precisely what your relations were with young Tryan. That would probably be sufficient to clear you. But your affliction makes that course impossible; you don't know what you said to Tryan, or what he said to you. So we have the choice of two alternatives: Will you tell the jurors frankly just what has happened to you?"

"If I tell them they won't believe it—nobody would."

"I am afraid you are right as to that. We must do what we can in the time at our disposal and trust something to luck. Is Sheriff Quade coming after you himself?"

"I inferred as much from what the sheriff downstairs said."

"All right. No doubt Quade will drive down, and I'll ask for a seat in his auto going back. Meanwhile, I'll gather up all the facts that can be had here in town, and arrange for your bond—if it should turn out that you need to be bailed."

"Have I friends here who would go the length of bailing me on a murder charge?" I asked.

"You certainly have—any number of them," was the brisk rejoinder. "If I weren't your counsel, I'd be one of the signers myself."

This piece of unmitigated loyalty nearly brought the tears to my eyes.

"You'd have to stand in my shoes, Mr. Berwick, to know how good that sounds to me," I broke out. "So far as I know, or can tell from anything inside of me, I am a stranger in a strange land. Why, I don't even know my way about in this town where, as it seems, I have friends at every turn. Surely no other man has ever had such an experience as this in the history of the world!"

"Oh, I don't know," said this level-headed, little attorney. "Shakespeare puts it into the mouth of Hamlet to say, 'There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy,' and that is as true now as it was in the sixteenth century. I'll trot along and get busy."

It was not until he was about to rattle the door as a summons for the turnkey to come and let him out that I recalled one small thing I had omitted to tell him.

"Just a minute," I said. "I have told you something of Miss Judith's attitude—an attitude that I can't begin to understand or explain. This morning when I was arrested she was quite excited, as a matter of course. She begged for a minute alone with me and got it. What she wanted to do, and did do, was to assure me that I wasn't guilty, and to beg me not to let anybody make me believe that I was. In the same breath she told me I must call her in, if things came to the worst."

"That is a ray of hope," was the consoling comment. "Most likely Miss Judie knows more about your relations with young Tryan than all the rest of us put together. Anything else?"

"Nothing that I can think of."

"I'll be around again this afternoon, ready to go along with you to Talbot County."

After he was gone I had still more time in which to think over my prospects. The windows of the upper room commanded a view of the street and a stately building opposite which I took to be the courthouse. On the stone steps leading up to the higher ground of the courthouse yard I saw the bank detective killing time and watching the rat hole.

This flashily dressed shadower would tell Cashier Clegg of my predicament, and Clegg would report to Mr. Josiah Tread way. And, if I had read Mr. Treadway's sour-apple face aright, he would tell his daughter. What would Alicia do? Also, what would the bank do when it found that its debtor had been arrested on a charge of murder? Plenty, probably!

In due time the surly deputy came to the door to ask if I'd have a jail dinner, or if I wanted to send out and buy the meal at the "caffay" around the corner. I gave him money to cover the price of a luncheon commensurate with my ever-ready appetite, and a liberal margin for himself.

After a short interval a huge tray was brought in, loaded with food enough for two ordinary persons. Just as I was sitting down, the handsome, wine-colored limousine whose luxurious upholstering I had shared twenty-four hours earlier with Alicia Tread-way, drew up in front of the jail, and Alicia herself, radiantly Junoesque, stepped out over the running board. I groaned, and lost some of the keener edges of that fine appetite.

I made no doubt that Alicia would honeyfuggle her way past the outer and inner guard, and she did it. I had no more than struggled to my feet when the door was opened to admit her.

"Oh, you poor, poor boy!" she burst out. "What are they trying to do to you now?"

I made her sit down and listen to my sorry tale of woe; treating it as lightly as I could, and trying to make it appear as nothing worse than a poor joke. Happily, she proved to be easily convinced.

"And you were just going to have your luncheon?" she cried, indicating the napkin-covered tray. "How nice! Yesterday we ate together at the Town and Country, and to-day we eat in jail! You'll let me share with you, won't you?"

Luckily there were two chairs, and we sat down and uncovered the feast. There was enough and to spare, and we made merry over it; or, at least, my charming tablemate did. For my own part, I am free to confess that the mirth was only from the lips outward. Try as I would to make it quit, the back part of my brain was continually staging a scene in which a stolid group of my peers was listening to my halting, stumbling testimony in my own behalf, becoming more and more incredulous as the stumbling progressed, and finally bringing in a true bill against me as an accessory before the fact to the murder of one Jefferson Layne.

And this wasn't all—or even the worst. Like a sentence of doom it was borne in upon me as we talked that whatever sentiment I had entertained toward this lovely and affectionate young woman in the past, she was now no more to me than a charmingly sympathetic acquaintance. Even now, as I sat across the tray from her, twisting my lips into a sham grin as we jested over the prison meal, the image of another young woman—a girl with slumberous, black eyes and a wealth of dark hair—was constantly coming between.

With her hunger satisfied, my handsome goddess sat back and regarded me with a thoughtful gaze.

"Don't you know, Roddy, you've changed enormously in these few days you've been away," she asserted.

"In looks, you mean?"

"Not so much that; shaving your beard and mustache would make you look different, of course. But in other ways: your voice isn't quite the same, and you talk so differently, and—oh, I don't know; I can't put it in words; but you don't seem to look at things in the same way. Why, if a thing like this arrest had happened to you two weeks ago, you would have flown all to pieces."

At this I summoned the sham grin again.

"Maybe I am flying all to pieces—inside—right now."

"You are not. In the old days you used to say that I was the strong one; and, really, you know, you did lean on me—and I liked it. But you are not leaning on me now."

"The times change, and we change with them," I said, offering no excuse for the banality.

"I wonder?" she queried. And, after a little pause: "I've changed, too, Roddy. Don't ask me how; I can't tell. But, somehow, I feel as if I should have to get acquainted with you all over again. Yesterday I gave you a chance to kiss me—in the car, you know. If you had taken it, I believe I should have screamed. You'll be patient with me, won't you?"

"If you need patience—surely."

"I'm going to need it. At this very minute I ought to be trying to buck you up to face whatever it is you have to face up at Shotwell: if you were the Roddy of two weeks ago I should be doing it."

"But you said I was a sick man two weeks ago."

"You were; sick and nervous, and—you won't mind it if I say it now?—half in terror of Parker Wayne. You wouldn't tell me why."

"Um," said I; "I've had two short interviews with Mr. Parker Wayne since we were at luncheon together yesterday, you and I. One was in my rooms at the Marlboro last night, when I threw him into the corridor and chased him to the elevators; the other was in my office this morning, when the performance was repeated."

"Roddy!" she gasped. "Why, of all things!" Then, "There it is again. Two weeks ago, or at any other time I've known you, you wouldn't have thought of doing such a thing as that! You—why, you couldn't have done it!"

"Which only goes to prove that you haven't known all the different facets of me," I smiled; adding: "It is a poor sort of man who won't fight for his own hand."

Again that far-away look came into her wide-set blue eyes.

"You are needing me less and less," she murmured half regretfully. And, with a mirthless little laugh, "What will they do to you in Shotwell—lock you up in jail? And if they do, what will become of the Big Deal that you haven't half told me about yet?"

I explained that what was immediately awaiting me was an appearance before the grand jury; that if that body found a true bill against me, I would be bound over to stand trial. Also, I told her that Berwick was going along with me, and that, in case I should be bound over, he would be prepared to furnish bail for me.

"Which means that, in any event, you'll be back soon?"

"That is the probability."

"I do hope you won't have to stay long," she said, as she prepared to go. Then with the pretty eyes downcast, "You—you've borrowed a lot of money from the bank, haven't you?"

"They tell me I have," I laughed.

"It isn't any laughing matter," she averred, shaking her head. "Daddy is almost having a fit over what is happening to you now."

"We can't blame him so awfully much," I returned; and just at this point in the talk the turnkey came; not only to let Miss Treadway out, but to tell me that Sheriff Quade had come, and that he and Mr. Berwick were waiting for me in the jail office.


ALICIA shook hands with me in comradely fashion, wished me luck, and tripped out to her waiting car. Then I turned to my new jailer to give him the once-over, and got a bit of a jolt when he, too, shook hands quite heartily with me and called me by name.

"It's a tolerably sorry job they've loaded onto me, this time, Mr. Hazzard," he said, with a good-natured grin spreading itself over his broad-featured face. "Here's hopin' it'll blow up when they come to touch a match to it. I could promise you sure enough it would, if we hadn't drawn a bunch of old Jeff Layne's kind on the gran' jury."

"Then you didn't bring the handcuffs and leg irons along?" I bantered, trying to match his jollying mood.

"For you? Not so's you could notice it any: you-all've been too mighty white to me in days gone by. I ain't forgot the good fee money you and Mr. Berwick, here, shoved my way when you was gettin' up them land papers."

It was here that Berwick cut in to ask upon what grounds the Shotwell grand jury had caused my arrest. Quade readily told us all he knew about it. Early in the forenoon somebody had called up the county attorney's office on long-distance from South Tredegar, and on the strength of that call a warrant had been issued for me. Quade couldn't say who had done the telephoning, but I made no doubt it was Wayne.

When we reached the sidewalk the sheriff became apologetic for his car.

"Sorry I ain't got nothin' but the flivver for you-all to ride' in. Maybe you'd like to take your own car, Mr. Hazzard? If you would, we'll leave the li'l' old flivver here, and I can send one o' the boys down after it."

This was my first intimation that I owned a car.

"Better take your own wagon, Rodney," advised Berwick. "It will ride easier than this thing of Quade's, and I'm getting old enough to appreciate the luxuries. Let me see; you keep your car in Blick's garage, don't you? If you'll drive us around there, Quade, we'll make the swap."

On the way to the garage which, as it appeared, was across town and in the neighborhood of the Cupola Club, I was tormented by the fear that, since we were going to take my car, I might be expected to drive it. If I hadn't lost the "know how" along with my memory, I might be able to handle the controls; but one thing was certain—I didn't know the road to Shotwell, or even which way to turn to get started upon it.

When we reached the storage place I discovered that I was the possessor of an exceedingly smart, high-powered, four-seater machine. Catching at a straw, I turned to the sheriff when I saw him looking the car Over with the eye of an auto enthusiast.

"You are going to do me the favor of taking the wheel on this trip, Mr. Quade," I told him in my best manner; and the readiness with which he accepted proved that I hadn't missed my guess as to the enthusiasm.

On the sixty-odd-mile drive over mountain roads that sometimes seemed vaguely familiar and at others convinced me beyond doubt that I was seeing them for the first time, I had ample opportunity to talk things over with Berwick; and it was thus, and indirectly, as one might say, that my arrest proved a blessing in disguise. Since he had drawn all the papers in the Guess Mountain options, Berwick was able to tell me a lot of the things that I didn't know. But for the arrest it might have been a long time before I should have discovered that I had had a lawyer.

It appeared that for months a huge aggregation of Northern capital had been reaching out after these particular coal lands upon which I now held options. In the face of stupendous difficulties, I, with only the capital that I had persuaded the bank to advance me, bad fought a pitched battle with the forces of Big Money, and had neatly outflanked them. Instead of dealing with a parcel of unlettered mountaineers, the buying syndicate now had to deal with me.

"I'll give you all the credit you want, Rodney, and admit that you've earned it," Berwick said at the wind-up. "It is just as I've told you all along; you belong in a much bigger field than South Tredegar can give you. You have simply had nerve to burn, all the way through this deal. I don't wonder it made your brain slip a cog at the last."

It didn't seem to me that I'd ever had exactly the kind of nerve he was describing, but I let the assertion ride.

"About this man Wayne," I interpolated, pulling the talk down to matters present and pressing: "Is there anything more than sheer cupidity in his motive?"

"I have been considering that. As you would know, if you could remember, his business in South Tredegar has never been very obvious. He poses as a stock and bond salesman, but it was you yourself who first gave me the idea that the business front was only a mask for something else."

"For a bit of underground work in behalf of the coal trust?" I suggested.

"Perhaps," said Berwick, nodding gravely. "That may have been his object in coming South. But if he found that he could make a bigger stake out of you than out of them, I fancy he-wouldn't hesitate to shift his ground. Or he may be playing both ends against the middle. So far, you say, he has failed to hold you up; continuing to fail, his next best play would be to smash your deal in the interest of the trust, which would doubtless reward him quite handsomely for such a service."

"I see," I said; and then, thinking it only fair that my lawyer should know all the facts, I told him that Wayne had another motive for wishing to efface me; namely, his designs upon Miss Alicia Treadway.

"That, I imagine, is purely a side issue," was my adviser's comment. "However, it may cut some figure. A woman in the case usually does."

For some little time our car had been descending a rough mountain road, the lower loopings of which were leading us to a covelike valley in which nestled the county seat to which we were destined. It was sunset in the valley by the time we reached the shabby country town built in the stereotyped fashion about the four sides of a courthouse square, though the upper air was still flooded with level rays of sunlight. That it was "court session" was evinced by the number of people in and around the square, and the teams and cars parked in the open spaces.

Most naturally, I expected to be taken to the jail, but when Quade switched the motor off, the car was stopped in front of a tavern which looked as if it might date back to the Andrew Jackson period at the very least.

"You're not going to lock me up, sheriff?" I asked.

"I reckon I don't have to," he returned, with his good-natured grin. "I'm a-remandin' you to the custody of your attorney."

Again I seemed to have fallen among friends; or, at any rate, into the hands of one good friend; and when Quade drove away I was free to follow Berwick into the rambling old inn, where, it presently appeared, I was known almost, if not quite, as well as I was in South Tredegar.

"Been a-missin' you right smart for a week 'r two back, Mr. Hazzard," said the gray-bearded patriarch behind the pine counter which did duty for a desk in the tavern office. And then, in answer to Berwick's query: "Room? You're mighty right, Mr. Berwick; we've always got a room for you and Mr. Hazzard. Ain't been to supper, I allow?"

Berwick said we hadn't; and a little later we filed into the long, low-ceiled dining room with the throng of office loiterers, made up, so Berwick said, of about equal parts of country litigants and their lawyers, and were given a homelike meal. It was while we were at the supper table that Berwick pointed out a slope-shouldered man with thin, red hair, a lean and hungry face, high cheek bones, and a pair of angry eyes, eating his supper at another table.

"That is Scarron—county attorney," he told me. "He is the man who will try to make trouble for you to-morrow. Have you met him before?"

"You forget," I replied. "I shouldn't know it if I'd met him a dozen times. He looks as if he might be a terror to evildoers."

"He is," was the succinct answer; and later, when we were trying to burn a couple of our patriarchal host's terrible cigars on the tavern porch, Berwick enlarged a bit upon this phase of Attorney Scarron's character. The man was a country lawyer who had battered his way up to the elective office by sheer hard knocks; an honest man but a bitter one. His methods with a grand jury were simple—and primitive. Though a prosecutor's relation to the indicting body is supposed to be strictly advisory, it was his practice to prepare his bills beforehand, and unless some hard-headed talesman fought him down, he would use the grand jury merely as a rubber stamp to confirm the indictments already drawn.

"That is probably what he will try to do in our case," Berwick predicted. "If he does, you'll have to put up the best fight you can, and do it off your own bat. I shall not be allowed to appear with you. You still think you won't tell them what has happened to your memory?"

I shook my head. "You don't dare to advise it."

"No," he said, "I don't. The average person—to say nothing of the average juror—wouldn't believe it; not without better proof than you will be able to offer. It looks as if you would have to go it blind, trusting something to luck. After you go to bed, I'll pry around a bit and see if I can find out, through Quade or somebody else, what evidence they think they have against you."

Taking the hint thus offered, I retired early to the big double room which had been assigned us, went to bed, and slept so soundly that I did not know when Berwick came in. The next morning, while we were taking turns at the single washstand the room afforded, Berwick told me the net result of his pryings. So far as he could learn, Scarron had no direct evidence against me. My implication in the murder rested, or seemed to rest, upon my dealings with "Bud" Tryan, and upon the fact that I had profited, or was to profit, by the death of Jefferson Layne.

After a breakfast of ham and eggs, country sausage, and hot biscuits, to which, strange as it may seem, I brought a magnificent appetite, Quade came for me and I was escorted across to the weathered old courthouse. A rather unnerving interval of waiting intervened, and then my case was called and I was ushered into the grand-jury room. One glance at the assembled talesmen told me what I was up against. Most likely it was only the average country jury, but I fancied I could see "hangman" written upon every sober face of it.

In a rasping voice that made me think of a cat sharpening her claws on the bark of a tree, Scarron read his notes to the jury. The facts upon which the indicting body was to make its finding were briefly these: I had been in close association with the Tryans from the beginning of the negotiations for the mountain coal lands; I had frequently paid Bud Tryan's railroad fare to South Tredegar, and his hotel bills while there; I had paid him other moneys from time to time, and it had been Bud Tryan's boast—as would be proved upon trial—that the coal-land deal would go through, "even if it had to ride over Jeff Layne's grave." Finally, the jury should give due weight to the fact that I was the person to be benefited most by Layne's death and the passing of his property to an heir who was willing to dispose of, and did so dispose of, the option which Layne had refused to give.

Thereupon I got a grilling which lasted for a full hour, and which was little short of the "third degree." If there was anything those hard-eyed valley farmers and mountaineers didn't ask me, it must have been something they had inadvertently forgotten. Again and again I made sure they had me cornered, nipped in a vise from which the only way of escape lay in a frank confession of the facts in the matter of the lost memory; but each time I contrived, some way, to slip aside and so to postpone the evil moment.

It ended at last, but I saw only too plainly that I had succeeded in merely deepening whatever measure of suspicion my inquisitors had entertained in the beginning. I had admitted the dealings with young Tryan, the paying of his expenses, and all that, putting these outlays upon the ground of mere business courtesies; but it was evident that few, if any, of the hard-headed ones were giving me the benefit of the doubt when I was finally dismissed and turned over to Sheriff Quade.

"Well?" queried Berwick, when the three of us forgathered in the dingy corridor.

I told him and Quade what had happened in the jury room, and the thin-lipped little attorney shook his head.

"Scarron will swing them his way, as he always does," he prophesied. "We may as well go down to the courtroom. We won't have long to wait."

Once more Berwick proved to be a true prophet. We had waited scarcely half an hour when court proceedings were interrupted by a communication from the grand jury and we knew the worst. A true bill had been found against me as an accessory before the fact to the murder of Jefferson Layne.


THE fact that I was formally accused of, and indicted for, a crime the very existence of which I had known only two days, and at that, only by hearsay, came with a good bit of a shock. But Berwick eased the impact of the blow somewhat by saying that the motto of the average grand jury was, "When in doubt, indict."

"It simply means that we have our day in court," he went on, whispering to me while the judge was making his notes. "The charge is absurd, of course, and we'll be able to show it up all right. I'll ask to have your trial put over to the fall term, and perhaps by that time—"

"Let's have it over quickly—the quicker the sooner," I begged. "I'd choke to death if I had to have this thing hanging over me for the next six months. Besides, it will kill the coal-land deal dead in its tracks. Those New York people won't make another move until this business is cleared up; they'd be fools if they should!"

Berwick nodded.

"I'm game for a quick decision, if you are."

And with that he went with the other lawyers to the judge's desk where there was a bit of low-toned talk, and, as I supposed, some rearranging of the docket. Next I saw Berwick take a paper from his pocket, and I assumed that he was making my bond—which he was. When he came back it was to tell me that I was released on bail, and that my trial was set for the following Thursday.

The court business disposed of, Quade brought my car around, and with Berwick for a seatmate I took the wheel for the drive back to South Tredegar, though not without some little uncertainty, both as to my driving skill and the ability to find the way. As for the car handling, that doubt vanished with the first shifting of gears. Though I could have sworn that I had never seen the car before my introduction to it the previous day, the instinctive and purely mechanical readiness with which I was able to drive it seemed to give the lie direct to any such assumption.

On the other count—the finding of the way—there was little chance of going astray. There was but the one road leading over the mountains to the southward, and with its course fresh in mind, I was able to take it in reverse and to make better time over it than Quade had made—being less concerned, perhaps, than he was over the chance of breakage and repairs. I was anxious to get back and get my hand on the throttle of my sadly entangled affairs.

Berwick didn't have much to say as we tore along over the return road, possibly because he was kept too busily occupied holding himself in his seat in the bounding, lurching machine. One remark of his I do recall, however, and that was to the effect that my short vacation had given me a new and altogether different driving nerve.

It was on the final ten-mile fraction of the race, when we had come into the stretch of oiled pike leading to the city where the jouncing gave place to a smooth straightaway, that he talked a bit more, telling me, among other things, that Gordon, president of the Chiawassee Company, and Mr. Dan Dandridge, one of the principal stockholders in Mussel Bar Power & Light, had signed my bail bond.

"Again you titivate the grateful nerve," I said. "Do I know these gentlemen personally?"

"I can't say as to that," he answered, with a grim little smile. "But they know you very well, indeed. You've played golf with both of 'em, and you've probably been a week-end guest more than once in both of their homes."

"Um," said I; "presidents of iron companies and heavy stockholders in public utilities: so that is the sort of crowd I run with, is it? It is no wonder that I owe the Security Bank a small fortune."

Though I had my eyes on the road, I knew he was regarding me curiously.

"It is almost uncanny to hear you talk that way," he remarked; "as if you were a total stranger to all the people you know, or ought to know, so well. Can't you remember anything at all of this near-by past of yours, Rodney?"

I was easing the car down the final long hill, with the city less than a mile away.

"Not only that," I amended; "but, even more than at first, everything connected with South Tredegar and my placing in it seems utterly strange and unaccustomed. I feel as if I didn't 'belong,' and the feeling grows upon me in spite of all the multiplied and multiplying evidences that I must 'belong.'"

"You didn't recognize anybody or anything over at Shotwell?"

"Not in the slightest degree. And yet I must have been there a good many times."

"You have been; I've been with you a number of the times. You have passed through a most curious transformation of some sort, Rodney. It is almost like an exchange of personalities. I've been studying you closely on this trip, and in many ways you are a totally different man. The mere loss of memory wouldn't seem to be sufficient to account for the changes in you."

"Could you schedule the changes?" I asked.

"I can sum them up better than I can catalogue them. Your point of view, your outlook upon life, seems to have been completely reorganized. For example: if what you went through yesterday and this morning had come upon you two weeks ago, you would have been a swift candidate for the ambulance and a rush drive to the nearest hospital. You were a bundle of sensitive nerves then, as you'd always been in my acquaintance with you; quick, keen, alert in business, but ready to fly into pieces if the pressure became too great. If you haven't swapped souls with somebody else, you have certainly worked a marvelous change of base in yourself."

Berwick's description of the Rodney Hazzard of the near-by past awoke a curious feeling of half recollection in me, as if somewhere in the dim and faded background I had once known a person it would fit. But if that person were my other self, all traces of the former characterization had vanished. Letting the involvements—the terrifying bank debt, the lost trail of the big deal, my engagement to a young woman for whom I had as yet no spark of the love that demands marriage, Wayne's bold machinations, and now finally this indictment on a charge of murder—letting all these misfortunes stand at their worst, I was still far from being ready "to fly into pieces," as Berwick put it. Quite the contrary, each added buffet thus far had served only to arouse a shrewder fighting spirit in me.

"I can't understand the thing any better than you can," I told Berwick, as the car swung up to the approach to one of the two South Tredegar bridges. "But I can assure you that I couldn't possibly feel readier to go to the mat with a bunch of difficulties than I do at this moment. I may wind up as a total failure, and with a life sentence to the penitentiary, but there has to be considerable 'showing' done, and some harder knocks than I've had yet, before I go down for the count."

"By George!" exclaimed the little attorney, warming up enough to put a hand on my arm, "it is worth a good half of my fee to hear you talk that way, Rodney. For weeks I've been trying to pump a little of the real fighting juice into you—the stand up and give and take, you know—and here you've gone off somewhere and soaked yourself full of it while my back was turned!"

After I had dropped Berwick at his office, I drove the car to its garage, got a hearty luncheon at the club, and then hastened around to the office. Miss Judie Bledsoe, as alluringly attractive as a ripe peach, was clattering away at her typewriter when I entered, but at sight of me she sprang up quickly with a little cry either of welcome or relief.

"Oh, I'm so glad you are back!" she burst out. "Another day like yesterday and today would have finished me! What did they do to you at Shotwell?"

"Indicted me on the murder charge," I said; and because those unfathomable eyes of hers began to grow horrifiedly large, I tried to turn it off lightly. "An indictment isn't a trial, you must remember; and even a trial isn't necessarily a conviction. What's been happening on the firing line?"

"Everything!" she panted. "There is a notice from the bank saying that they must positively cancel your loan at once, and Mr. Drew, the assistant cashier, has been up here twice since the bank opened this morning, asking what I'd heard, and when you were expected, and a thousand other things. And ever since yesterday morning, people have been dropping in to pry around, trying to find out why you were arrested, and what you'd been doing. It's been simply maddening!"

"So it must have been," I sympathized. "I should have told you to lock the office and go home. That would have been the easy way out of it. But I'm here now and ready for the fray. Where is that bank notice?"

She found it for me; a formal letter from Clegg telling me in curt business phrases that my demand notes were now due and collectible, and asking me to call at once and take up the loan. This was a summons that couldn't safely be ignored, so I hustled down to the bank to have it out with my masters, the money lenders.

Clegg, after he had taken me into a small empty room with "President" in black lettering on its glass door, was coldly impersonal. In view of what had taken place I must understand that it was impossible for the bank to carry me any longer. I had already been given more time than I had asked for when the loan was made, and something must be done at once. The bank was always reluctant to go to extremes with its customers, but—and so forth and so on.

Instead of being scared stiff, as I suppose I should have been, I found myself growing militantly confident as Clegg handed out his formal phrases.

"And if I say I can't pay on any such short notice as this?" I asked, after he was quite through.

"In that case we shall have to realize upon your collateral."

My jaw dropped. Here was an entirely new twist to the tangle. If I had stopped to think of it, I might have known that I must have had some sort of collateral to put up to secure such a huge line of credit. But what was the nature of that collateral? It would never do to let Clegg know that I didn't know. It was merely a sparring to gain time to think that made me say:

"Isn't this a rather chilly deal to hand out to a good customer of the bank, Mr. Clegg?"

He shifted uneasily in his chair.

"We needn't mince matters, Hazzard. You are a plunger, and everybody knows it. That is all right if you plunge safely. But it looks now as if you had mistaken your depth. In President Stuart's absence from the city I can't afford to take any chances. You are in pretty bad in that Guess Mountain affair."

"Oh," said I; "so that's it, is it? Did somebody long-distance the news to you from Shotwell this morning?" I was still sparring for time.

"It was known yesterday that you were arrested for alleged complicity in a crime; it is known now that you have been indicted by a Talbot County grand jury. Your own good sense must tell you that the bank must protect itself. I don't wish to be unduly harsh with you, but—"

"But Mr. Josiah Treadway insists that you shall be," I finished for him.

"Mr. Treadway is one of our vice presidents and chairman of the board," he explained in extenuation. "In Mr Stuart's absence—"

"I see," I cut in. Then I glanced at my watch. "I haven't had time, to-day, to look at my mail and telegrams. Give me until to-morrow morning and I'll see what can be done."

He looked away, frowning reflectively—and reluctantly, I fancied.

"Make it to-morrow morning, then, at ten o'clock," he said shortly. "But I must warn you that that is the limit."

With the brief reprieve fought for and won, I made a bolt, for the elevators and the ninth-floor office. And my first care upon entering the inner room was to snap the door catch against possible interruptions.

"Tell me, Miss Judith," I began abruptly, "what sort of collateral did I put up when I made the big borrow from the Security Bank?"

Once more she gave me that Mona Lisa smile.

"Of course, with your loss of memory, you wouldn't recollect," she said, with a touch of what I imagined was faint sarcasm. Then, "The collateral is perfectly good. It consists of eighty thousand dollars of Mussel Bar Power & Light first-mortgage bonds, which are quoted now—or they were yesterday—at one hundred and five."

"Eighty thousand dev—" I begged her pardon, changed it to "dollars," and demanded to know where under the sun I had acquired any such bunch of securities as that.

"The bonds are not yours," she returned evenly. "They belong to Mr. Frederic Corydel. Perhaps you have forgotten who Mr. Corydel is?"

"You've said it," I snapped. "And how did he come to lend me eighty thousand dollars in perfectly good and marketable bonds?"

"Mr. Corydel is one of the largest owners in Mussel Bar; and he is a gentleman who is always willing to take what he calls 'a sporting chance' on a friend. Of course, you don't remember the morning he dropped in here when the Guess Mountain deal had reached a point where the options had to be paid for and there was no money in the bank?"

"I've told you that I don't remember anything."

"Naturally, you wouldn't remember that," she put in, with another of those impenetrable half smiles. "Mr. Corydel said Guess Mountain looked like a good bet. He said, 'Go to it, Rodney, old dear. I've a few pieces of engraved paper in Gordon's safe that are not working just now, and you can hock 'em with Stuart for the ready needful. I'll go get 'em for you.' And he went right away and did it."

"But why should he do that for me?"

"Because it is his way, I suppose," she answered evenly. "If any one were to tell Mr. Corydel that the end of the world was coming to-morrow, he'd be willing to bet that it was or it wasn't, whichever way anybody would take him."

"Where is he now?" I asked.

"Goodness knows. They have a country house on Long Island, a cottage at Mount Desert, a bungalow at Palm Beach, and the Manor House at Mussel Bar. You never know where to find them."

This borrowed collateral business mixed things infinitely worse than ever. I hadn't the remotest recollection of having taken this generous gentleman's gilt-edged bonds, but since I had done so, I was bound by all the canons of loyal friendship and decency to see to it that he shouldn't suffer loss. And I had only the closing fragment of one day arid the opening hours of another in which to make the turn.

"Have you succeeded in tracing the elusive Mr. Muhlenberg to his lair?" I inquired.

"No; I've searched everywhere, and the address isn't in any of the office papers or files. I almost knew it wouldn't be."

"Why do you say that?"

Instead of answering my question she asked one of her own.

"Have you looked in your pockets?"

"Nothing doing," I answered shortly.

"But I mean in all of your pockets."

"What should I look for?"

"A little memorandum book, bound in dark, red leather."

"You think the address would be in that? I haven't seen any such book since I got back."

"But are you sure you have looked in all your pockets?"

I remembered then that there were a couple of business suits hanging in the wardrobe closet of my bedroom at the hotel. I hadn't looked in the pockets of these. It was a slender chance, but I determined to take it at once. Before leaving the office, I gave Miss Judith her chance to escape.

"Things seem to be lining themselves up for a grand smash here," I said. "It's an unnecessary cruelty for you to stay and be pinned down in the wreck. I shall take it in quite the proper spirit if you duck and run."

"The ideal" she retorted; and then, "You are not going to stop fighting, are you?"

"Nothing like it. But it seems to be shaping itself as a fight to a finish, and there is no need of your sticking around to be my bottle holder."

"You mean you don't want me any more?"

"That isn't it at all. But you can't afford to go on working for a man who is due to be hauled into court on a criminal charge. Your own family will tell you that, I'm sure."

"My family? I haven't any. And if you think I'd—"

She stopped short and turned to face a window, and I fancied she did it to swallow something suspiciously like a sob. In a flash I lost sight of Alicia Treadway and the big diamond which she had reproached me for buying.

"Judith!" I breathed.

In two strides I had the dark-eyed, little witch in my arms. For a single instant she made no resistance. Then she freed herself with a little jerk and turned upon me, more in sorrow than in anger, I thought.

"No," she said; "you don't trust me. You've shown that you don't. But if you think I'd desert anybody in such trouble as you've got into, why you—you'll just have to guess again. You need me, and you're going to need me a lot more when they take you back to Shotwell. Now, please go and look in those other pockets!"

I had reached the street and was halfway around to the Marlboro before I woke up sufficiently to be properly disgusted with myself. What sort of a scoundrel had I been in the past to win the confidence and loyalty—not to call it by any stronger name—of this unprotected little witch girl, and at the same time to carry on a courtship with Alicia Treadway; a courtship which had finally resulted in a hard-and-fast engagement? Why was it that neither of the women seemed to be in the slightest degree jealous of the other?

As I was turning the corner of the last block I ran plump into the grave-faced physician in whom I had confided two days earlier.

"Hello!" he said, shaking hands with me; "here you are again. What is the good news by this time? Are you getting any glimpses into that lost past?"

"Not a shadow of a glimpse," I told him. "If anything, it grows worse as time goes oh."

"Well, well," he commented sympathetically. "Did you take my advice and try to pick up the business threads where they were dropped when you went away?"

"They've picked me up!" I snorted; "grabbed me and wound me up in a snarl that the devil himself couldn't unravel!"

"And the snarl doesn't stir anything in that dormant memory?"

"It is just the other way around. Every fresh thing that hits me is fire-new. I'd swear I never heard or thought of them before."

He shook his head. "I've been reading up a bit—on cases similar to yours, Mr. Hazzard. There are a few of them on record, but usually the memory lapse was due to a long and severe illness. Do you have any difficulty in recalling particular words?"

"I haven't noticed anything like that. It is the events that I can't recall; those, and my surroundings, which ought to be as familiar to me as sunlight. But they're not. I can't persuade myself that I've ever lived and done business and made friends in this town. There isn't an atom of suggestive familiarity in anything I see or hear or come in contact with."

"Yet you have proof that all these things should be familiar, haven't you?"

"Suffocating floods of it! If there is any doubt at all as to my identity, I hold it alone. My closest friends would be the first to try to argue me out of it."

"Well, there is nothing to do but to go on—being thankful, meanwhile, that none of your other faculties are involved. Sooner or later something—some little chance happening, it may be—will start the wheels for you. After that, the recovery may come slowly, but it will come, once it begins. The main thing now is to keep yourself fit and in prime physical condition. Don't let your malady—or anything else—worry you. Come and see me now and then."

Yes! It was all right for this pleasant-spoken doctor to tell me not to let anything worry me. But if any man in South Tredegar had better cause for worry than I had, I thought I should like to meet him and buy him the best dinner the Marlboro's chef could devise.


GOING on to the hotel, I went up to my rooms and made a hasty pocket search in the two suits hanging in the wardrobe closet of the bedroom. A red-leather memorandum book, Judie had said; but there wasn't so much as a scrap of paper in any of the pockets. Next I went through the dress clothes, breast, tail, waistcoat, and trousers pockets—all empty.

But with this extended search came a suggestion. According to all accounts, the last evening in my former personality had been spent at a dinner dance at the Town and Country Club; therefore I must have worn this dress suit. But since it was here on its proper stretchers, I must have changed before taking the midnight train. Just here I recalled the crumpled handkerchief, the empty cigar case, and the bunch of keys found on the dressing case: evidences, these, that there had been a change of pocket contents, though only half completed.

While I was trying to push the deductions a step farther, one of the house women, a bright, intelligent-looking mulatto girl, came in, carrying an armful of clean bed linen. When she saw that the suite was occupied she started to back out, but I stopped her.

"Just a minute," I said; "you've been missing your tip for a good while, Mary-it is Mary, isn't it?"

"No, suh," she smiled, pocketing the coin I gave her, "it's Mandy; but you never does remembeh. Thank you kin'ly, suh."

"Listen, Mandy," I went on; "did you make up my rooms the day after I left town?"

"Yes, suh," was the prompt reply. "But you didn't go 'way in de daytime."

"How do you know?" I queried.

"Corridor boy told me so. Besides, de baid hadn't been slept in, no, suh, and your clothes was layin' 'round jess where you lef 'em."

"My dress clothes?"

"Yes, suh."

"And you put them away for me, like a good girl," I said. "Did you happen to see a little red-leather memorandum book when you were straightening up the bedroom?"

"Yes, suh," she replied, as promptly as if she had been waiting for that very identical question to be asked. "It was layin' on de floor. I picked it up and put it in de draw' of you-all's writin' table in de sittin' room."

"Show me," I suggested, and we went together to the larger room where the girl pulled open the drawer of the writing table. There was no memorandum book in it; nothing but a few sheets of the hotel stationery, some envelopes, a box of steel pens, and an extra pen staff.

"De Lawd have mussy!" said the girl with a gasp; then: "I neveh took it, Mistuh Hazzard—I's lay my han' on de Bible and swear I neveh took it! All I is done is to puck it up off de floor in de baidroom and put it in dat draw'!"

"That's all right, Mandy," I hastened to say; "I'm not accusing you of taking it. You are sure you put it here in this drawer?"

"Yes, suh, I is!"

"Was there anybody else in the room with you?"

"No, suh; not wid me. Mistuh Wayne, he come to de do' while I'm washin' out de bathtub and ast did I know where you was. He say he's goin' to breakfus' wid you-all."

"Wayne, eh?" I said. "You say he came to the door; do you mean the door here, or the door to the bathroom?"

"De do' to de bathroom, yes, suh. I was washin' out de tub. When I say I dunno where you is at, he tu'n 'round and go 'way."

"Never mind," said I; "it's no matter, and I'm not blaming you." But after the girl had gone I had another of those brain-storm things, with the fighting blood hammering in my veins and a thirsty desire to get my hands once more upon Mr. Parker Wayne consuming me. For now I knew why he had been so cocksure with me from the very first, and how he came to know so much more about my private affairs than I did. He had seen the mulatto girl put the memorandum book in the drawer and had slipped in and stolen it.

There was a telephone in the room, and I asked for a connection with my own office in the Coosa Building; this on the bare chance that Judie Bledsoe had not yet gone. In due time her voice, cool and businesslike, came over the wire: "This is Pine two-eight-four-five."

"Hazzard speaking," I announced. "What was in that memorandum book besides the address we were looking for?"

The answer came promptly.

"Notes of everything that couldn't be trusted to the office files."

"Well," I rasped, "it's in the hands of the enemy—I needn't name him for you."

A faint little shriek greeted this information. Then, in bewildered despair: "Whatever are you going to do?"

"I'm going on a still hunt for the thief and get that book back, if I have to take him apart to find it."

"Oh!—do be—" But here either the hotel exchange or the main central plugged us out and the connection was broken.

Five minutes later I was at the counter in the lobby riffling the leaves of the telephone directory in search of Wayne's office address. The number given was on the third floor of the Iron City National Bank Building, and thither I posted, as fast as a taxi could cover the ground. But it was only to draw a blank. Wayne's office was locked, and the elevator boy thought there had been no one in, all day.

Coming out of the bank building, I saw Norman preparing to climb into one of the many parked cars on the other side of the street. I called out, and went across to him.

"Hello, there; back again and right side up with care, are you?" he said in friendly congratulation. "Mighty glad to see you foot-loose again. What's the good word?"

"I'm foot-loose, but that is about all," I qualified. Then: "Where does Wayne keep himself when he's not in his office?"

Norman shook his head.

"Anybody's guess is as good as mine. He has rooms somewhere up on the hill, but I think he uses them only to sleep in. Takes his meals wherever he happens to be. Say, there is a story going around in the Coosa that you threw him out of your office yesterday morning. Did you?"

"I didn't throw him half hard enough!" I gritted. "I've got to find him quick. Can you help me?"

"Get in," he said, holding the auto door open; and as he let the clutch take hold: "He shoots pool a good bit. We'll make a round of the joints."

This led to the drawing of more blanks. Wayne was not to be found in any of the public pool rooms, and we wound up the search at the Marlboro. Norman had been most friendly, curbing his curiosity, if he had any, and asking no questions. But as we were descending the stairs to the hotel billiard rooms in the basement he broke over.

"Is there blood on the moon, Rod?" he asked.

"There is," I growled. "Wayne has stolen something of mine and I'm going to have it back."


"The handle to more money than I've ever seen at any one time. If I get my hands on him again, he'll wish he'd never been born!"

He stopped right in the middle of the descending stairs to give me a curious onceover.

"I don't know you any more at all, Rod," he remarked, with a puzzled frown. "I'd like to know what kind of liquor you found to drink while you were away."

"You haven't had the proper line on me," I returned grimly. "Come on and let's see if he is down here anywhere."

He wasn't, and we started back toward the lobby. On the way it occurred to me that Norman was putting himself to a great deal of trouble on my account, and I tried to turn him loose.

"You go on home to your dinner," I told him. "Wayne will turn up somewhere, sooner or later, and I'll find him."

"Your chance is as good here as anywhere," the sales manager suggested. "He comes here to dinner oftener than he goes anywhere else. But see here, Rod—you mustn't raise a rookus in a public place like this!" Then he laughed: "The idea of my having to say anything like that to you!"

"You mean that the Rodney Hazzard I used to be wouldn't need it?"

"I should say not! Why, great man!—you would have gone blocks out of your way to dodge anything like a hand-to-hand scrap with anybody!"

"Well, I'm not built that way now," I offered.

As we entered the lobby the travelers from an early evening train were coming in, a straggling procession interlarded with bell hops carrying bags. One of the newcomers, a burly, red-faced, and bewhiskered man, saw me, batted his eyes once or twice, and then stepped out of line "to shake hands with me. I had a fleeting impression that his face and figure were, or ought to be, familiar.

"Well, well, I'm glad to see you again," he broke out. "You are looking a lot better than you did when I saw you last, and that's the truth. You sure had a pretty close call." Then, perhaps in deference to the lack of recognition in my response: "Talbot's my name: Of course, you don't remember me. I was only one of the sympathetic bystanders on the boat—one of your fellow passengers."

"One of my fellow passengers?" I echoed inanely.

"Yes; from Puerto Barrios, you know. But you wouldn't remember. You were already pretty far gone with the fever when you came aboard."

Slowly, and as with the effort of a sleeper trying to arouse himself, something turned over in my brain—or at least, that was the feeling I had. Dimly, like pictures thrown upon a screen in a room insufficiently darkened, I had broken glimpses of a low-lying coast line, of a port, of a ship with hazy smoke wreaths rising from its funnel; all these in the flitting of a second of time.

"Oh—yes—the fever," I stammered; and then the big man took his leave.

"If you are stopping here in the hotel, I'll see you again. I shall be staying over for a day or so." And with that he went across to the desk to register.

"Who is he, and what was he talking about?" Norman asked.

With that curious turning and twisting in my brain, I could scarcely answer him intelligently.

"Really, I—I don't know," I muttered, half absently; adding, "He said his name is Talbot."

"Do you know him? Had you ever met him before?"

"I—I can't tell, Fred; and that is the plain truth. It seems as if I ought to know him, but—"

"But he said Puerto Barrios: you haven't been in Puerto Barrios!"

More than anything else in the world at that moment I wished to be rid of Norman; to have a chance to wrestle alone with the shadowy phantoms which seemed to be trying to visualize themselves upon my mental screen. Other flitting pictures there were now; of dense jungle growths on hot and steaming coastal plains; of scarred mountains and bare gulches into which the sun poured heat as molten metal; of trees with great white boles and feather-duster crowns; of torrential rain hoods beating upon metal roofs.

Norman glanced at his watch.

"We are due out to dinner with the Blaisdells this evening, Gladys and I," he said. "If I can't do anything more to help you find Wayne, I think I'll be toddling."

"That's right," I hastened to say, and I was most inhospitably glad. "I shouldn't have taken so much of your time. I'll corner Wayne somewhere, if he hasn't left town."

"Take a grip on yourself when you do," he laughed, in good-natured warning. "Cut out the rough stuff, I mean. There's nothing in it that can't be got at in easier ways."

After he left me I dropped into the nearest chair and renewed the grapple with the brain turmoil stirred up by the chance meeting with the big man who thought he knew me. A fever, he had said; and Puerto Barrios. Could I have reached the Guatemalan port, caught a fever, recovered from it, and returned to South Tredegar, all within a period of two weeks or less? It was a physical impossibility. The interval would scarcely account for the bare travel time.

What then? There was only one answer. The Talbot gentleman was mistaken. His Puerto Barrios fever patient was merely somebody who resembled me closely enough to make the mistake possible. Such things were always happening. Everybody has at least one "double" for whom he is likely to be mistaken.

This conclusion settled Talbot's part of the little mystery, but how about my own? Why should his mention of the Central American port stir, or seem to stir, half-baked memories in me? Calm reason presently handed down the answer. The lapsed memory had left a blank mental page upon which any other mind could write at will. This man Talbot had projected me—for my "double"—upon his own mental screen, and, having no memories of my own wherewith to combat the picture which he had suggested to me, I had momentarily accepted his envisionings as pictures of myself.

While I was thus giving sober reason its chance to clear the air, a party of automobilists, as I took them to be, came in at the side entrance and crossed the lobby to the dining room, the doors of which had just been opened. There were three young women and three men, and I shouldn't have given them a second glance if I hadn't happened to recognize Alicia Treadway as one of the young women. The sight of Alicia made me look again, and my gorge rose when I saw that Parker Wayne was one of the three men.

In a twinkling the psychological argument was thrust aside and the brain storm returned. Wayne had my memorandum book; the little red-leather book in which was wrapped up a possible release from the staggering obligation under which I had placed myself by the acceptance of Mr. Corydel's bonds; this, and doubtless a thousand other things besides. Most likely he had the book with him—on his person—in his pocket. I followed the group into the dining room, saw it seated, waited at my own corner table until the dinner orders had been given. Then I sprang up and walked across to where the six were sitting. Wayne had his back to me; he wasn't aware of my presence until I laid a hand on his shoulder.

"I want that memorandum book you stole out of my rooms two weeks ago," I said, and tried to say it calmly.

I suppose he felt reasonably safe in such a public place, and with his friends and the women at the table. Anyway, he bluffed me angrily.

"What do you mean—memorandum book?" he demanded. "I don't know what you're talking about. Go away. You're drunk!"

"I'm giving you a fair chance," I rapped out, loud enough for all of them to hear. "I want that book, and I'm going to have it right here and now, if I have to strip you naked to find it!"

He made no move to comply, or even to get up, and his cool assumption that I wouldn't do anything—an assumption based doubtless upon his still lingering estimate of the Rodney Hazzard of the past—fired the powder train. The next instant I had laid hold of him and whipped him out of his chair, and again the cave-man stuff held the center of the stage.

It was short and sweet, as it had to be, with a whole dining room full of people to interfere. As in the office tussle of the previous day, Wayne fought like a dog-cornered cat, clawing and clutching, and I think he would have bitten me with his teeth if he'd, had a chance. But almost at once I contrived to trip him and fall upon him; after which it was but the work of a moment to put a knee in his round paunch and go through his pockets. I was hot after that stolen memorandum book, and I got it before the waiters and other uprushing interferers dragged me off of him.

Of course, there was an immediate attempt made to hush things up and gloze the mess over, and it succeeded fairly well. I was hustled off through the kitchen, with a couple of husky negro waiters to see to it that I reached the freight elevator in the rear and got lifted to my room floor, and escorted to the door of the seventh-floor suite by my black bodyguards.

I tipped the black boys liberally, and they had barely vanished when the manager came hastening up.. Most naturally, I apologized copiously to him for what figured in the apology as an uncontrollable outburst of temper; told him I was sorry—which was a brazen falsehood—and assured him that the like wouldn't happen again. He was exceedingly decent about it; said he had a temper of his own which gave him trouble at times, and asked if, in the circumstances, I wouldn't prefer to have my dinner sent up to me. I told him I should, and he went away, rubbing his hands, and saying he hoped Mr. Wayne wouldn't deem it necessary to take any legal steps, and so bring on more publicity.

The moment the door closed behind this affable gentleman I opened the retrieved memorandum book. The little book was full of brief notes written in a fine, copperplate hand that wasn't at all like my own; all the various data concerning the Guess Mountain deal; the names and addresses of the different landowners from whom the options had been secured; briefs of conferences with the coal syndicate's lawyer and financial agent—who figured in them always under the single initial "M;" and finally the one vital bit of information—"M's" addresses for letters and telegrams—a certain number in the Bankers Trust Building, Wall and Nassau Streets, New York, and a Riverside Drive apartment house for emergency calls.

By the time one of the dining-room boys brought my dinner up I had a telegram written and ready to send down to the wire office in the lobby. The wording of the message was a bit difficult—to make it vital enough without tearing a hole in my defenses as a seller—but I hoped it would answer:

Cannot hold Guess Mountain offer open any longer. Wire before nine o'clock to-morrow what action your principals will take.

The wire sent, and the dinner dispatched, I lighted a pipe and took time to go carefully through the little red book. It was mostly Greek to me. There were records of transactions which awakened no scintilla of recollection, and on the last few pages some personal memoranda: the number of a watch; a cipher which I took to be the number of a key, doubtless that of the safety box in the Security Bank; an address in Florida with a string of dates following it, the dates being a week apart, and the latest of them dating back a little over three weeks.

I could make nothing of these notes; and when I opened my watch and compared its movement number with that in the book, they didn't agree. By and large, the little red book merely added another layer of mystery to the rapidly accumulating supply, and I had to let it go at that.


WHILE I was puzzling over the notebook mysteries, and telling myself that Judie Bledsoe would probably be able to clear up some of them, a lobby boy came to the door to tell me that a lady wished to see me in the mezzanine lounge. I jumped at once to the conclusion that it was Judie come to tell me of some new cataclysm impending; but when I went down it was Alicia who came to meet me. At the same moment I caught sight of the flashily dressed shadower who had been set upon me by the bank.

Being still, as you might say, in a first-class fighting humor, I stepped aside, confronting the spy and saying:

"See here, brother; I know who you are and what you are doing. It's a cold trail, and if I catch you dogging me any more it will be the emergency hospital for yours. Do you get that?"

He bristled up and began to say that the lounge was a public place, and he had as good a right to be there as I had; but I cut him short.

"There are the stairs," I pointed out. "You may take your choice of going down on your two feet, or being thrown down. Say which, and say it quick!"

He took the reasonable alternative, and then I turned to Alicia.

"You'll pardon the little curtain raiser, won't you?" I said. "That fellow—employed by your father—has been chasing me around until I'm tired of it. I suppose you'll tell me that you can forgive anything but the holy show I made of myself in the dining room a while ago."

"I don't know you any more at all, Roddy," she returned, handing me the phrase that so many others were beginning to work off on me, and as she spoke there was something at the back of the clear-seeing eyes that looked almost like nervous fright. "But I had to come. What terrible change is it that has come over you in just two little short weeks?"

I led her to one of the divan things and sat down beside her.

"I'm not conscious of any change," I told her; "but everybody else seems to be."

"You are changed; fearfully changed. Nobody who knew you as you used to be would know you now. You don't even look the same. But that is not what I came to talk about—and I can stay only a minute because Aunt Jane is waiting for me in the car. Daddy is all up in arms about what has been happening to you, and he'll be worse when he hears about the—the fuss in the dining room this evening. How could you ever do a thing like that?"

"It was as easy as twice two," I grinned. "Wayne had stolen something of mine, and I had good reasons for believing that he had it on his person. I meant to have it back, and I got it back."

"But it was so awfully public! And you've always been so strictly conventional and—and—"

"And well-behaved," I finished for her. "But go on; you were telling me about your father and his up-in-armsness."

"Yes; he saw my ring to-day and fairly blew up. He said it was disgraceful for me to be engaged to a man who was under indictment for a crime, and who couldn't pay his debts. Can't you pay your debts, Roddy?"

"No; not yet. But if those people in the dining room hadn't choked me off quite so quickly I might have paid one of them this evening. I thought you said you didn't have any use for Wayne—or something like that."

"He wasn't invited at all," she explained. "We were over at the Town and Country—the Stacy girls and I—and Ted Buford and Hal Stacy came along in Ted's big car and asked us to go to dinner with them. Parker Wayne simply invited himself, and I didn't say anything because I thought—well, you seemed to think he was trying to do something to you, and I thought maybe I could find out about it."

"That was more than kind," I praised. "He was the one who got me hauled before the grand jury at Shotwell."

"Oh!" she gasped. Then, "You haven't told me what happened to you there."

"But your father has told you; and I fancy Wayne was the one who told him. I'm to stand trial for the murder of the old mountaineer—or for instigating it."

"But you didn't do any such horrible thing!"

"Didn't I? I hope not. But let's get back to the main thing. Your father wants you to break our engagement. How do you feel about it?"

"What a savage, cold-blooded way to put it! You ought to know how I feel about it. If daddy had made any such demand two weeks ago—"

"But this is the here and the now," I interposed. "It is better that we should be perfectly frank—both of us—don't you think? You say I have changed in two weeks: haven't you changed, too?"

There was the deepest depth of honesty in the blue eyes, when she turned them upon me.

"Roddy, when I was in college, I had a chum, and in our junior year she married. It was one of those awfully swift affairs. She met a man when she was home at Easter, and three weeks later they were married. I saw her that summer at Virginia Beach, and I hardly recognized her, she was so changed. I knew she was unhappy, but when I tried to make her tell me about it, all she would say was, 'When you marry, Allie, be very sure that you're not going to wake up the next morning to find that you've married a stranger.'"

"And you feel that way about me?" I asked.

Her eyes dropped.

"I try to be honest, Roddy—with others and with myself. I do feel that way, and I can't help it."

"'Honest confession is good for the soul,'" I quoted. "Possibly, in the course of time, I may change back into the man you've been thinking I was, but it is only fair to say that I don't see any immediate prospect of it."

"Then you don't l-love me any more?"

At this I said the lamest thing in the entire category.

"I don't remember, Alicia."

"That is enough, Roddy, dear," she said, with a little catch in her voice; and she pulled her ring off and gave it to me.

I took her down to her car, as a matter of course, and couldn't help thinking that she was very brave, and that I was something worse than a brute for having so wretchedly disappointed her. But the thing was done and couldn't be undone; and when I shut the limousine door upon her and turned back to the hotel, I could imagine that the half-tearful smile she gave me at parting was one of those things that threatened to haunt a man to his grave.

It was with a decided feeling of relief that I encountered the big, bewhiskered gentleman who had named himself Talbot, almost as soon as I reentered the lobby. Here was a diversion, of a sort.

"Now, if we have a little time," he said, "suppose we sit down and have a smoke and talk it out. Did you have a long run of the fever?"

I looked him squarely in the eyes.

"Mr. Talbot, are you quite sure you are not mistaken in your man?"

He took hold of me in a masterful sort of way and turned my face to the lights. After a rather prolonged scrutiny he said, "How do you mean—mistaken?"

"I mean that I think you must be mistaken. When was it you thought you saw me on the boat at Puerto Barrios?"

"It was—about eight weeks ago."

"But two weeks ago, if I am to believe the testimony of any number of eye-witnesses, I was here in South Tredegar."

"And you had been here previous to that?"

"I have been in business here for a long time."

"Um-m," he rumbled, looking narrowly at me again; "that goes to show how little the average onlooker's testimony is worth in court. I would have sworn by all that's good and great that you were the young mining engineer who came aboard the boat at Puerto Barrios eight weeks ago, half delirious with fever. Haven't you ever been in Central America?"

Again I felt myself slipping into the pool of suggestion. Had I ever been in the tropics? Was that a part of the past that couldn't be recalled? I didn't answer Talbot's question because I couldn't.

"This sick man," I said; "what became of aim?"

"They got him through quarantine at New Orleans—his fever was not one of the contagious kind—and he was taken to the Charity Hospital."

"Did you learn his name?"

"I knew it at the time, but I can't recall it now."

"Would you recognize it if you should hear it? Was it Hazzard?"

He frowned reflectively and then shook his head.

"It has escaped me. But it wasn't Hazzard. It was more like Broderick, or Hodderwicke—something like that. You'd pass for twins, you two, anywhere."

It was at this conjuncture that some acquaintance of Talbot's came along and took him away, and I was left to puzzle over this new bit of mystery. Who was this fever-stricken mining engineer who looked so much like me that Talbot couldn't tell us apart? And how did it come that this curious double of mine owned my profession? I pushed the bewildering mess aside and harked back to the recent, rather heart-rending interview with Alicia Treadway, and to the new status it introduced.

Oddly enough, the aftermath of this, I found, was a feeling of immense relief. Whatever Gehenna of torment I might be preparing for myself in a future in which full recollection might reassert its sway, there was nothing now but a lilting sense of freedom in the assurance that I wasn't going to be obliged to marry blue eyes when a pair of black ones were setting me afire every time I looked into them.

Warm thoughts of those wonderful, passionate eyes—cooled a bit, to be sure, by the recollection of their possessor's peculiar and inexplicable attitude toward me—went with me as I turned my back upon the busy lobby and sought my rooms. It had been an exciting day; and since there was another which promised to be equally strenuous lying just ahead, I turned in early for the night's rest to fit me for it.

I had gone to bed and was just falling asleep when the bell of the suite telephone in the sitting room rang. When I answered, Berwick's voice came from the other end of the wire.

"Here's a cold-blooded thing to spring on you, Rodney," was the way he began. "I've just had a long-distance call from Quade at Shotwell, and he tells me that they've advanced your case on the docket, owing to a number of continuances that have been allowed to-day—other cases not ready for trial, you know. We're summoned for nine o'clock, the day after to-morrow. It's a nuisance, of course, and it will mean that we shall have to ask for more preparation time. But we'll have to be on hand, just the same, when the case is called, and if you have any pressing business to attend to, clean it up to-morrow forenoon and we'll drive over after luncheon. Don't let this thing make you lose any sleep. It will come out all right, in the end."

Oh, yes; it was a lawyer's advice, and, like the doctor's, it was soundly sensible, no doubt. Just the same, what with grilling over this new tightening of the law's grip, and upon what the next day must bring forth, it was small wonder that I heard the tiny clock on the dressing case strike all the hours up to midnight before I closed my eyes.


WITH the devil to pay and no pitch hot, I had an early breakfast on the morning following the night of troubled reflections; but early as it was when I got around to the office in the Coosa Building, I found Judie Bledsoe there ahead of me.

"For Heaven's sake!" I expostulated; "do you get up at daybreak to come down here, I'd like to know?"

"No-o; but—well, you remember you telephoned yesterdayevening after you went to the hotel, and—"

"And you couldn't be easy in your mind until you knew how the thief chase came out. If I am the unluckiest man alive in one way, I'm also the luckiest in another."

"You mean that you have found the little book?"

"Yes; I have the book. But that isn't what I meant; I mean lucky in the matter of having friends."

She ignored the friendship mention and asked excitedly:

"Where did you find the book?"

"In Wayne's coat pocket—just where I expected to. I took it away from him."

"Tell me!" she begged, and the dark eyes were like stars.

"I'm not so poison proud of it," I said. "I had to take the beggar where I found him, and the place happened to be the public dining room of the Marlboro. It rumpled things up a bit."

"Delicious!" she murmured; and then, "Why wasn't I there to see! What did they do to you?"

"Dragged me off of him and hustled me out the kitchen way and up to my rooms. I apologized to the manager, and to the only one of Wayne's table party who needed to be apologized to."

"And that was—"

"Miss Treadway."

"Oh—for mercy's sake!"

"Also, I've wired Mr. Muhlenberg."

"His address was in the memorandum book?"

"That, and a lot of other things." I tossed the little red book across to her desk. "You'd better keep it for me. I might lose it again."

"Wasn't Miss Alicia horrified?"

"More astonished than horrified, I think. She was quite human about it."

"You saw her after the—after the—"

"Yes. She came to the hotel later, on purpose to see me. Her father wanted her to break our engagement."

She turned away, and I saw a little hitch of the shapely shoulders that was suggestive of a sob. But it was not grief that was in the starry eyes when she faced me again.

"Say it," I prompted. "It's no worse to say it than it is to think it."

"You are really the most absurd person I have ever known," she murmured; and what more she would have said I don't know, for just then a telegraph boy came in with a message.

I let Judie sign the receipt while I tore the envelope across. It was a wire from New York signed "Borden, Secretary," and the wording was brief but explicit: "Mr. Muhlenberg is on his way South. Should be with you by noon to-day." I showed it to my pretty helper, and to my utter astonishment she read it and then put her head down and hid her face in the crook of a rounded arm.

"Why, Judie!" I exclaimed. "I just couldn't help it," she protested, looking up with the dark eyes swimming.

"It's—it's been hanging in the balance for so long!"

"Let us hope the balance has tipped, or is tipping, our way at last," I responded; "only I wish it would hurry a bit. I'm due to go back to Shotwell this afternoon."

"But you can't go!" she objected almost tearfully. "With Mr. Muhlenberg coming, and the bank threatening the way it is and all. It would—it would be flying in the face of Providence for you to go away!"

I glanced at the paper-weight clock on the desk. Its hands were pointing to nine, and my bank reprieve was about to expire. But I took time to explain.

"It isn't a question of can or can't; my trial has been moved up to to-morrow morning, and my bond will be forfeited if I don't present myself in court. Mr. Muhlenberg will have to wait—unless he betters his secretary's time schedule. Because, you see, the court won't wait."

"But you may be gone for days!" she wailed.

"No; Berwick will move for a continuance. The court ought to grant it, in all conscience."

With the telegram in my pocket I went down to the bank. Clegg was busy with another and still earlier customer, and as I stood aside to await my turn, a mild-mannered little gentleman stepped up to the other side of the marble counter railing and held out his hand.

"Clegg telegraphed me yesterday about your troubles, Mr. Hazzard," he said, after the commonplaces were passed. "Come in and let's talk them over," and he opened the gate in the railing and led the way to the private room in the rear marked "President."

Of course, I was immediately able to put two and two together. This was Mr. Stuart, the bank president with whom I had, in all probability, negotiated the enormous accommodation loan. There was no incertitude in his manner when he waved me to a chair at the desk end and said: "Now, then, tell me all about it. How did they contrive to mix you up in the killing of old Jeff Layne?"

I told him all I could—all I knew; and it seemed to be sufficient. Then he went straight to the heart of the business matter.

"About your loan. Is there any probability that you will be able to lift it shortly?"

At this, I showed him the telegram from Muhlenberg's secretary. "You think he is coming to close your deal for the Guess Mountain coal lands?" he asked.

Again I drew upon my scanty stock of information.

"The deal was practically closed some time ago. As a final precaution, Muhlenberg said his principals wished to have the land titles gone over by their own abstractors. I assume that this has now been done."

"It is unfortunate that you are obliged to answer this court summons to-day. Will you be able to see Muhlenberg before you leave for Shotwell?"

"I hope to. It seems vitally necessary that I should."

"It does. Have you had any intimation that Muhlenberg or his principals have heard of this criminal charge against you?"

"I have not. But since it was published in the Tribune here, it probably got on the wires."

"That is bad," he said, shaking his head. "As a shrewd corporation lawyer—and he is all of that, as you have doubtless discovered—Muhlenberg will be pretty apt to try to take advantage of your involvement on the criminal charge. You mustn't let him bluff you."

"I have no intention of doing so, I assure you," I said.

He looked at me curiously. "That is the right spirit," he commended; and then, "I am glad to see you looking so well and fit. When I last saw you, three weeks ago, you seemed to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Your friends were quite anxious about you. Clegg tells me you went away and took a rest."

"Yes," I admitted; "I have had a rest"—which was another of those sayings that went two ways for the jack. "The only thing I've been greatly worried about is this bank loan. Mr. Clegg—and Mr. Treadway—have been—er—rather pressing."

He gave me a sort of inscrutable smile which might have meant that he knew more about the pressing business than I did; knew—what I learned later—that the winter-apple-faced old gentleman with the avid money nerve meant to take unto himself the forfeited Power & Light bonds when the bank should be forced to realize upon them.

"I think we can arrange to give you a little more time on your notes," said this cool-voiced, mild-mannered little bank president. "And as to the legal involvement; this attempt to incriminate you is simply ridiculous. Jeff Layne was shot, in a family feud, over two months ago. Why didn't they try to implicate you at the time?"

It seemed to be a favorable opportunity to put into effect the time-tried maxim that one-should have no secrets from his banker. So I told Mr. Stuart all there was to tell about one Parker Wayne, and his part in bringing on this fresh trouble.

"Wayne is a grand scoundrel," was the quiet reply. "Unluckily, you have no legal recourse. I've known of a number of shady transactions of his, but nothing so frankly criminal as this attempt to blackmail you. Of course, he didn't make the attempt before witnesses?"

"Certainly not."

"That's a pity. Such a man ought not to go unpunished. If you ever get a chance to make him commit himself, it will be your duty to do it. By the way, is Berwick to defend you in the murder case?"

I nodded.

"You couldn't have better counsel. Unless there should be a bald miscarriage of justice, you have little to fear from your indictment by this grand jury of countrymen. As to the bank loan, we'll arrange to give you at least time enough in which to turn around. If you need any character testimony over at Shotwell, you must let us know. I am sure you have friends enough here in South Tredegar to fill a special train. Good morning."

I supposed, as I left the bank, that I should have known well enough that this quiet-mannered little man was gold of the finest; but, though I couldn't remember knowing it, I certainly knew it now. So it was with a much lighter heart that I reentered the ninth-floor office.

"Any luck?" queried the bright little business girl, looking up from her machine as I breezed in.

"The best of luck. Mr. Stuart has come back, and—"

"You needn't say any more," she broke in. "I knew it would be all right if he were here." Then, "Mr. Berwick has just been telephoning. He will be over a little later. Do you want to get your mail out before he comes?"

I said I did, and we put in an hour or more over the letters much as if nothing had happened or was scheduled to happen. As

I finished dictating the final letter, Berwick came in, and Judie promptly moved her typewriter to the outer room to do the transcribing, closing the door behind her.

In a few words I told my lawyer of the loss and recovery of the memorandum book, and of my telegram to Muhlenberg and its answer. While we were talking, the phone rang, and I took the receiver from its hook. To my amazement, the first words I heard were: "Wayne speaking. Is that Hazzard?"

I answered shortly that it was, and he went on.

"It's up to you to see me before you start for Shotwell. Will you come to my office in Temple Court?"

"No!" I bellowed. Then Mr. Stuart's suggestion—that I ought to show Wayne up if the chance should offer—made me add, "If you want to see me, you can come here."

"All right," was the reply. "But there'll be none of the rough stuff, this time. If you try it, you won't go to Shotwell—it'll be the bone yard for yours. Write that down somewhere so you won't forget it."

When he hung up I turned to Berwick.

"That was Wayne. He says he wants to see me before I leave for Shotwell. You heard what I said to him?"

"He is coming here?" Berwick asked.

"Yes; and I'd like to have you hear what he says."

"Fix it," was the snapped-out acquiescence.

There was a small lavatory partitioned off at the end of the office, and I motioned toward it. "Take your chair in there and leave the door ajar. I'll get Miss Bledsoe out of the way."

Judie was easily disposed of. I told her what was to the fore, and she said she'd go down to the bank and get my account balanced. In a very few minutes after the stage was set, Wayne came in, pausing in the doorway of the private office to pull a gun from his hip pocket.

"There are seven shots in this thing," he remarked, tapping the weapon with a finger tip. "You'll get all of them if you lay a hand on me. I've taken about enough from you."

"Go to it," I invited, kicking out a chair for him.

He sat down and looked around suspiciously.

"Where's the girl?" he demanded. "Miss Bledsoe has gone out on an errand."

"That's better; then we'll get down to business. You're in bad up at Shotwell."

"I am; thanks to your lying tongue."

"And you are going to get in worse, if I don't help you out. You'll have a jury of the mountaineers, and they'll sock it to you good and proper."

"All right; go on."

"I can knock the charge into a cocked hat—if you'll make it worth my while."

"How much?" I asked.

"The same old proposition. Fifty-fifty on your profit in the land deal—and you turn over those options to me before you leave town."

"Let's get it straight," I interposed. "I stand charged with a crime. You say you can free me from this charge if I will hand you a certain sum of money; and that if I don't agree to come across with the bribe, you'll let the charge ride. Is that the size of it?"

"That is exactly the size of it."

"What guaranty do you offer that you can do what you say you can?"

"That is my business. I can do it, all right."

"Do you happen to know that an attempt to blackmail is a felony under the law?"

"Call it by any name you please. You'll divvy up with me on your big rake-off, or you'll go and dig coal for the State."

I turned to face the cracked-open lavatory door.

"How about that, Mr. Berwick?" I asked.

If I had fired a bomb under Wayne's chair, he couldn't have jumped any higher. When he came down it was with a cluttering oath in his mouth.

"D-damn you!" he yelled; "you'll swing for this! I'll—"

But here Berwick opened the door and showed himself, and the place that knew the would-be blackmailer knew him no more. There were merely the violent slamming of a door and swiftly padding footsteps in the corridor to notify us that he was on his way.

"You are altogether too quick on the trigger, Rodney," said Berwick reprovingly. "You should have let him go without learning that you had a witness. It is very doubtful now if we shall ever be able to lay hands on him. If he has the sense of a potato bug he'll vanish into thin air."

After I had admitted, and regretted, the too-swift trigger finger, we settled down to talk the Shotwell prospects out to some sort of a conclusion. Berwick was confident that the judge would grant a continuance, and the worst feature of the situation seemed to be the fact that I must leave town, at the very latest, shortly after Muhlenberg would arrive. As to this, however, Berwick reassured me. We would be away less than twenty-four hours, in the ordinary course of events, and Muhlenberg would wait.

Altogether, things were looking much more hopeful and promising when Berwick left me to go home and pack his traveling bag. As before, we were to drive across the mountain, there being only one train up the Shot-well branch of the railroad, and that leaving South Tredegar early in the morning. The New York train was due at twelve forty-five, and after a noon luncheon at the club I hurried back to the office to be on hand if the trust's emissary should come in or call up. But Judie dashed my hopes of any speedy termination of the period of suspense the moment I entered.

"I've just been talking to 'Information' at the Central Station," she said. "The New York train is bulletined an hour late."

This was awkward, but there was still a margin of time. The Shotwell drive over the rough roads would ask for about four hours of daylight; more if it should have to be made in the night. I phoned Berwick, and told Judie to go and get her luncheon. With the Hilliard data before me, I employed the interval in rough-sketching a plan for the Alabama man's coal plant, and was happily able to forget, for the moment, everything else.

When Judie came back, the first thing she did was to call the railroad station again. This time the report was that the New York train was detained behind a freight wreck, and its time of arrival was uncertain. Once more I called Berwick and gave him the news.

"Bad," he commented. "I don't want to have to ride that trail over the hills in the dark. It is dangerous enough in daylight."

"What do you advise?" I asked.

"Leave a note for Muhlenberg at the Marlboro and let's go."

I dictated the note to Judie with a queer sinking sensation at the pit of my stomach. It did seem as if all the malignant fates were linked up against me. If I could have had a few minutes' personal talk with Muhlenberg to explain matters But that was now impossible. He would arrive in my absence, would hear at firsthand and through the town gossips the story of my implication in the Layne murder, and if he were the shrewd bargainer he was said to be, the big deal would be off until the legal questions involved were thoroughly and unmistakably cleared up.

"Please see that this gets to the Marlboro," I told Judie, after she had typed and I had signed the note; and then I closed my desk and made ready to go around to the garage, which was the agreed-upon rendezvous with Berwick.

"Is—isn't there anything else I can do for you?" she asked as I was about to leave.

I smiled grimly. "You may pray for me, if you feel like it."

She looked away and did not speak again until my hand was on the doorknob.

"If—if the trial shouldn't be postponed, will you send for me as a—a witness?"

"No," said I, thinking that I'd make any sacrifice imaginable rather than have her dragged into court to be badgered and harried by the merciless, angry-eyed, county attorney.

"But you must!" she insisted, in a flutter of vehemence. "I—I was present most of the times that Bud Tryan came to see—came here, I mean—and I heard all that was said."

"No," I said again.

"But why?"

"Let it go on general principles," I offered, trying to say it casually. "I've had a taste of Scarron's quality—he is the prosecuting attorney over at Shotwell—and if he should put you on the stand for cross-examination, I'd have to murder him. Good-by." And I hurried away before I should be obliged to tell her that in something less than four short days she had pushed Alicia—all the Alicias—aside to become the only woman on the footstool for me.

Berwick was a bit nervous, I thought, when I met him at the garage; and on the long, hard drive he had very little to say for himself. We reached Shotwell and the old tavern at late supper time, and again my marvelous appetite asserted itself. Berwick ate little, and said nothing; but later, while we were burning tobacco on the tavern porch before turning in, he said he'd been thinking the situation over, and had about reached the conclusion that we might as well go through with the thing and have done with it, once for all.

"Here is the way it stacks up," he argued. "If we take a continuance, you will be left under a cloud—from the New York point of view; you will figure as a man under indictment for a crime' connected with this land deal, and Muhlenberg will be very apt to take a shrewd advantage of this. On. the other hand, if you go back to South Tredegar acquitted, the advantage will be yours. I'm ready to fight it through, if you are."

I considered for a moment and then told him to go ahead, and we'd take a chance.

"That's business," he said. "I see there are a good many of the Tryan tribe here for the trial. We'll pick our witnesses from that bunch, and let Scarron do his worst."


I SLEPT soundly, rose early, ate a hearty country-tavern breakfast in the long, low-ceilinged dining room, and at the appointed hour went over to the courthouse with Berwick in a frame of mind that was at least reasonably equable and tranquil.

In the central hallway of the weathered old building there was a jam, and as we were working through it toward the door of the courtroom, Quade came elbowing his way to us, his big, plain face beaded with perspiration.

"Just a minute," he wheezed hoarsely in my ear. "Can I borray your car for a little spell, Mr. Hazzard?"

"Surest thing in the world," I told him promptly.

In the courtroom, after, we had taken our places within the bar, I had a chance to look around. The spectators' two thirds of the place was filled to overflowing, and there didn't seem to be any striking display of sympathy in the sea of faces that met my eye.

A short time after we were settled, the judge, a tired-looking, old man, wearing the traditional frock coat, high, turn-down collar and stock tie of Andrew Jackson's time, came to the bench, and the jurymen stumbled to their places in the box. The preliminaries of court opening followed immediately, and then my case was called. The judge looked over his spectacles at us and asked the two attorneys if they were ready for trial. Scarron, grim and angry-eyed, snapped out, "Ready, your honor," and I thought he seemed a shade disconcerted, or at least surprised, when Berwick promptly made the same response.

I didn't follow the indictment very closely as Scarron rattled through his reading of it, but out of the mess of whereases and legal doublings and turnings and twistings I gathered that I was charged as feloniously and with malice aforethought aiding and abetting and conniving at a high crime against the peace and dignity of the commonwealth, to wit, the doing to death of one Jefferson Layne, of the county and district aforesaid, the motive thereto, as would be shown by the evidence, being a desire to expropriate, for the profit and benefit of the prisoner at the bar, certain properties and holdings of said Jefferson Layne, in and of the cove, ravine, or gulch known as Noble's Gap.

The reading finished, Scarron called his witnesses, one after another, in rapid succession. Their testimony brought out quite clearly all the facts in the land deal; proved pretty conclusively that without Layne's holdings the deal must have fallen flat. Other witnesses told of young Tryan's frequent visits to South Tredegar, and testified to the fact that he had met me by appointment at various times, either in Shotwell or at his father's house on the mountain. Also, it was brought out that Tryan had had more money than his circumstances would account for.

In this rapid-fire examination of witnesses, Berwick did his part ably, objecting to irrelevancies, and doing his best in cross-examination to shake the testimony of these men who, so far as I could judge, were but telling the simple truth in homely fashion. These cross-examinations were not helping us. If I had been a member of the jury I should have said that Berwick was merely clogging the wheels in the hope of stopping the machine before the pace became a runaway.

While all this was going on I heard a locomotive whistle announcing the arrival of the morning train from South Tredegar. Most naturally, this meant nothing to me; but shortly afterward there was a stir among the standing onlookers near the courtroom door and to my astonishment and dismay I saw Judie Bledsoe slip in quietly and take her place among the country women in the back part of the room. It was just as Scarron had called his final witness that a slip of paper was passed to Berwick by a deputy sheriff. On it was written, in Judie's fine, copperplate hand, "If you find you are going to need me, don't fail to call me."

Berwick whispered to ask what I made of this, and I shook my head.

"She must have come on the train. She told me yesterday that I was to send for her if it came to the worst," I whispered back.

"What does she know?"

"I can't say. But she seemed quite sure that she would be able to clear me. I don't want her called. I won't have that man Scarron—"

Berwick put up his hand to silence me. Scarron's concluding witness had taken the stand. He was a slow-speaking, sober-faced young mountaineer answering to the name of John Dillon, and Scarron was directing him to tell, in his own language, exactly what had taken place on the South Tredegar road on a certain night two weeks before the murder of Jefferson Layne.

I shan't attempt to set down circumstantially the rambling tale this boy told. Summarized, it amounted to this: on the night in question he had been returning to his home on Guess Mountain by a short cut through the woods. At a point where his path neared the "big road" he had seen an automobile, which was pulled out at the side of the road. Its motor was stopped, and the lights were turned off. Near the car two men were standing under the shadow of a pine tree, talking. One of the men was urging the other not to "go to sleep on his wrongs," and offering to help with money and assistance if the other "got into trouble."

Scarron handled his rather dumb witness very skillfully. By clever questioning he elicited the fact that this was after Layne had had the trouble with Bud Tryan's father and had taken a shot at him with his squirrel gun. Asked, finally, if he had identified the two men talking under the pine tree, Dillon said he had; one of them was Bud Tryan, and the other was—"him," pointing to me.

"Say 'the prisoner at the bar,'" snapped Scarron; and the boy repeated the phrase like an automaton. Asked how he could be certain of the identity, he replied that he "reckoned" he knew Tryan's voice—and mine. Besides, he knew my automobile, and it was the one that was standing in the road.

Back and forth over the now familiar ground Scarron led the witness, getting all the effect of reiteration for the benefit of the jury, and, what was quite as much to the purpose, sealing up, or trying to seal, all the nooks and crannies through which Berwick's coming cross-examination might penetrate. Again and again the boy was made to repeat what he had heard of the talk. There had been no mention of a crime as a crime, and no specific offer of a bribe, but the inference was made perfectly clear; Try an had wanted to take vengeance upon the would-be slayer of his father, and the man who had come in the auto was willing to befriend him if he "got into trouble."

Leaving that phase of it, Scarron went back to the identifying. Dillon admitted that he hadn't seen me clearly; it was too dark. But he knew my voice and my car. Asked to describe the car, he did it. It was a "furrin" car—meaning, as I supposed, that it was unusual. It had a queer scoop-shovel top and was painted green, and was the only one of its kind that had ever been in Shotwell. He knew the car well; had seen me driving it many times before. Asked what happened after the talk was ended, he said that Bud Tryan had "struck off" through the woods, and that I had got into the car and turned it to drive back toward South Tredegar.

When the direct examination of the witness was drawing to its close, Berwick whispered to ask me if I had any recollection at all of this night visit to the lonely spot in the road. Of course I hadn't, and I said so emphatically. But my denial meant nothing. For all I could adduce to the contrary, Dillon might have been telling the simple truth and nothing but the truth—as, indeed, he appeared to be.

Scarron asked one final question before dismissing the witness.

"Did you warn Jeff Layne after you heard this talk?"

"I shore did," was the sober reply.

"That will do. Stand down."

Berwick immediately called Dillon back to the stand and grilled him unmercifully. But Scarron had so thoroughly covered the ground that there was little more to be dug out of the witness. Doggedly he held to his story, repeating it almost word for word; and though Berwick, half desperate, as any one could see, employed every trick and device of the trained cross-examiner, he was unable to shake Dillon's testimony, or to make him trip or stumble. The only additional fact brought to light was that Dillon was a member of the Layne tribe and distantly related to the murdered man.

When Berwick began calling the few witnesses he had contrived to single out and summon the night before, it was unnervingly evident to me that the jury had already made up its mind. Dillon's straightforward story, substantiated, as it seemed, at all points, had settled the question of my culpability, and the half dozen witnesses who testified that my relations with all of the option sellers, including Layne who had refused to sell, had been perfectly businesslike and aboveboard, and even friendly, did us little good.

In his cross-examinations Scarron riddled them one by one; held them up to ridicule and confused them until most of them were fain to take back all the favorable things they had said of me. Naturally, in the circumstances, Berwick did not dare to put me on the stand in my own defense. That would have been suicidal. As matters stood it was more than a defeat; it was a rout.

Berwick leaned over and whispered to me.

"If we rest our case here it will be a conviction, as sure as the Lord made little apples," he declared. "We must call Judie Bledsoe. She is positively our only hope."

"No," I objected stubbornly.

"But why not?"

"I've told you. I won't drag her into this and give Scarron a chance to bully her as he has bullied these other witnesses."

In a few well-chosen words, hot from the skillet, as one might say, Berwick told me what he thought of me and my obstinacy. I would get the hook, and I deserved to get it. The girl was present and ready to testify. My opposition was simply asinine. If he should do what he ought to do, he'd throw up the case and tell the court the reason why.

It was while he was pouring all this ire-fully into my ear that a small commotion began to stage itself at the courtroom door. The judge brought his gavel down with a smack and peered, frowning, over his spectacles. Then everybody craned to look. What we saw was Sheriff Quade entering with a prisoner; a young man, red-eyed and sullenly defiant. Berwick gave one look and leaped to his feet. "Your honor!" he barked; "we wish to call one other witness. I summon Buford Tryan, commonly known as Bud Tryan!"

Scarron protested bitterly, as a matter of course. The defense had closed its case, he urged, and the honorable counsel's request was entirely out of order. But the judge overruled the objection and Tryan was put upon the stand. Berwick took him in hand quickly.

"Tryan, tell the court and the jury where you were on the night of May fifteenth last," he rapped out.

"I don't ricollect," was the answer, which was probably true as to the matter of the date.

Instantly Berwick took a new tack.

"Look at this gentleman sitting here beside me; did you ever see him before?"

Tryan twisted himself in the witness chair and glanced at me.

"Yep; I've seed him a heap o' times."

"Where have you seen him?"

"Here in Shotwell, and in South Tredegar."

"Anywhere else?"

"Not as I ricollect—'ceppin' up at pappy's house on the mountain."

"Did you, or did you not, meet him at a place on the South Tredegar road on or about the night of the fifteenth of May last?"

Scarron objected to this as a leading question, but the judge let it stand.

"The witness may answer," he said; and Tryan, scowling down at his own feet, made his denial.

"No, I didn't meet him; hit wa'n't Mr. Hazzard. Hit war a feller named Wayne, a-drivin' Mr. Hazzard's car. He allowed he'd borrayed hit."

There was a sensation in the crowded courtroom; a sound like the sighing of the wind in the treetops. The strained look vanished out of Berwick's face and his attitude toward the witness became placatory, almost friendly.

"All right. Now, Bud, tell the court and jury in your own language just what took place between you and Wayne on that night when you met Wayne on the mountain road."

Again Scarron protested, and again he was overruled. Tryan told his story piecemeal, as Berwick's questionings drew it out. Wayne had always been friendly with him; he hadn't known why, but now he did know; it was because he'd been fool enough to keep Wayne informed as to what was going on in the land deal. Wayne had given him money at times, and had promised to help him to get out of the State if he got into trouble with Layne; he was promising this again on the night when he drove out from South Tredegar in the "borrowed" car.

Berwick, wholly master of the situation now, was still genial, but he was as ruthless as a hound upon a scent which had been lost and was found again. Times without number the judge warned Tryan, telling him that he was not required to incriminate himself in his answers, but at length the young fellow burst out sullenly.

"I ain't a-keerin' much, judge. Ever'-body knows I plugged ol' Jeff Layne for turnin' loose on pappy, an' I'd do hit ag'in, ef I had to. Nobody didn't put me up to hit 'ceppin' this yer skunk Wayne, an' I reckon all he wanted was to git Mr. Hazzard hooked up in hit, somehow. 'Pears that a way to me, now."

Beyond this open confession Tryan's story simplified itself. On the day of the shooting of Layne, Tryan had been picked up by Wayne in an auto on a lonely mountain road in agreement with a prearranged plan. But instead of helping him to get out of the State, Wayne had driven him to a deserted cabin in the forest and told him he would come after him later, after the hue and cry had died down.

Here Tryan had been left from day to day and week to week. Wayne had visited him a number of times, but only to bring provisions, and to tell Tryan that it was not yet safe for him to make a run for it. Berwick knew, and so did I, why Wayne had been holding Tryan thus within reach. He was willing to save my neck by betraying Tryan's hiding place if, by doing so, he could win the big stake for which he was playing. True, if he should betray Tryan, he would have to take a chance upon what Tryan would say and do in reprisal; but apparently he had been willing to take that chance. It was a bold game, with the odds in favor of its success. If I had been the nerve-broken Rodney Hazzard that everybody said I was up to the night of the dinner dance at the Town and Country Club, the big stake might have been won.

When Berwick finally released the witness, Scarron declined morosely to cross-question him, and the judge turned to the jury. His charge was brief, and was chiefly a definition of the law of evidence under which they were to render their verdict. Like the judge, the jury was also brief. In less than ten minutes after they retired the twelve men were back in the box and the foreman was giving their decision. I was acquitted.


BRIEF as it had been, the trial had filled the entire forenoon session, and the noon recess was called immediately after the jury had rendered its verdict. While we were making our way out of the crowded courtroom I found that the thronging spectators, whom I had thought were only morbidly curious, were really most friendly. It seemed as if a good half of them came elbowing and shoving to shake hands with me, calling me by name and congratulating me upon my acquittal.

These crowdings and haltings made me restively impatient. I wanted to get out and find Judie, but she was lost in the shuffle and I did not see her again until we met in the office of the tavern across the square. Even then there was no chance to talk with her, to ask her if Muhlenberg had turned up, and why she had made the long, roundabout train journey to Shotwell. Dinner was on the table, and Berwick rushed us into the dining room; and after the hurried meal he took things masterfully into his own hands.

"You'll want to be getting back to South Tredegar in a hurry," he told me, "and you'd better take your car and make a fast run of it. Blantley, our local attorney here, came in on the train, and I'm going to stay over and arrange for Tryan's defense on the murder charge. I think we owe Bud that much. Do you know how he came to turn up so opportunely to-day?"

"I suppose Quade got a tip and followed it up."

"Not at all. Tryan heard, through some of his people who were keeping in touch with him, that you were to be tried on a charge of complicity. He sent word to Quade, volunteering to come in and clear you if Quade would come after him. He was.-afraid the Layne tribe would mob him if he came to Shotwell alone. That was why Quade borrowed your car."

I thought that was a pretty fine thing for the young mountaineer to do, and said so, adding that I hoped Berwick would leave no stone unturned to get the boy off with a light sentence. Then I got hold of Judie.

"You'll go back to South Tredegar in the car with me?" I asked.

She shook her head. "I'll wait and take the train."

"But that won't get you in until after dark. Why won't you go with me? Are you afraid of my driving?"

"Maybe that is it," she said. "You may call it that, if you like."

I didn't believe this excuse for a moment, but I had no alternative if she chose to urge it.

"I'm sorry," I said. Then, "Did Muhlenberg come?"

"Yes; he is at the Marlboro, waiting for you."

"You sent my note to him?"

"I took it' to him myself."

"Oh; then you have seen him?" She nodded brightly.

"I have seen him and talked with him. He doesn't know anything about this foolish murder trial—unless he has heard of it in South Tredegar to-day. I told him you'd be back this evening."

"How did you know I'd be back?"

"Because I meant to see to it that you got back."

"Huh!" I said; "so you still think you could have cleared me?"

"I know I could. I told you so before you left town."


"Never mind that now; it will keep." Then, with a glance at her wrist watch: "You are wasting time. You ought to get back as soon as you can."

It was a flat dismissal, and I had to take it.

"All right; I'm gone," I told her; but after I had turned to go it occurred to me that in the round-up with Muhlenberg I might need some help that only she could give me.

"The train will get you in town between six and seven. Would you mind going to the office for a while after you've had your dinner?" I asked.

"Not in the least," she assured me. "I meant to do that, anyway."

"Thank you," I said. "I may have to bring Muhlenberg around, and, if I do, it will be because I need your help."

At that, she handed me another of those cryptic remarks of hers.

"I've given you all the help I could—all you'd take. But I'll be at the office from seven o'clock on."

Quade had left my car standing in front of the tavern, and I was soon on my solitary way across the mountain. Nothing happened until after I had jounced and hurtled over some forty of the sixty-odd miles of impossible road, and then I was careless enough to run over a stump that stuck up high enough to catch and bend the left-hand steering knuckle of the car. Since the accident happened miles from any human habitation, the only thing to do was to repair the damage as best I could. Fortunately, the car's tool box proved to be well supplied, and after a couple of hours of hard work I got the knuckle straightened and was able to go on. But since I couldn't be sure that I hadn't cracked the steel in the hammering, there was no more speeding for me, and it was fully dark when I finally reached South Tredegar.

Driving the car to its garage and giving the order for its repair, I turned my steps toward the Marlboro. The critical hour had struck. Within the next few shifts of the clock hands I should know definitely what fate had in store for me, and on the short walk to the hotel the coward that lies dormant in every man born of woman rose up to tell me that whatever the outcome of the conference with Muhlenberg might be, I'd better run for it; that sooner or later the lost memory would make me trip and stumble and bring disaster irretrievable; that my only chance of recovery lay in getting away from South Tredegar and fighting free of the associations which, so far from helping me to remember, seemed to be plunging me deeper and deeper into the dark pit of confusion.

It was with this runaway thought in mind that I entered the great hotel by the side door and went directly to my rooms, where I packed a grip and left it where it could be found if I should send for it. Then I went down to the lobby floor to take the big jump—and did it, I am ashamed to say, with my heart in my mouth.

Asking at the desk for Mr. Muhlenberg, I learned that he had gone out to dinner with some one whose name I did not catch, and had left word with the clerk to tell me that he would return early. This gave me a chance to get my own dinner, which—in deference to the impending crisis—was eaten with some little abatement of the magnificent appetite I had lately been trying to satisfy.

After worrying through the meal I returned to the lobby to wait for Muhlenberg, and not until that moment did it occur to me that I shouldn't know him when I saw him. Judie could help me in this, and since she was probably by this time waiting in the Coosa Building office, I started for the telephone booth, meaning to ask her to describe the trust's emissary for me. Before I had taken two steps I ran plump into Mr. Stuart, the mild-mannered little president of the Coosa Security Bank; and recognizing this as a piece of the sheerest luck, I made haste to harvest it.

"It is in your power to do me the greatest possible service, Mr. Stuart," I told him, after the greetings had passed and he had warmly congratulated me upon the outcome of the Shotwell trial. "Mr. Muhlenberg has arrived. He is dining out, but I am expecting him back at any moment. I wish, if possible, to close the Guess Mountain deal with him this evening. I am confident that I shall be able to drive a better bargain if you, as my banker, will consent to be present."

To my great satisfaction he smiled a ready acquiescence.

"Berwick would serve your purpose better," he said, "but since you say he can't be had, I'll be glad to sit in at your conference. Is Muhlenberg fully-empowered to close the transaction?"

I answered that I hadn't yet seen him, but that I inferred he had come prepared. Thereupon we sat down to wait, and I told the banker more about the Shotwell trial and its dramatic conclusion involving Parker Wayne in something closely resembling a conspiracy to procure the murder of Jefferson Layne.

"Perhaps it didn't go quite that far," I qualified. "But the old mountaineer was blocking the deal; and if the deal couldn't go through, Wayne would lose his chance in the hold-up game. Berwick thinks he has been carrying double; that at first he was employed by the trust to obtain the options direct, but that later he saw a chance for more money in the blackmailing scheme. At any rate, it is proved conclusively that he was holding Tryan solely for the purpose of extorting money from me."

"I imagine Wayne will turn up permanently missing, after this," was Stuart's comment; and then, as the screen doors of the main entrance parted to admit a stout, clean-shaven person who looked enough like the cartoonists' caricatures of predatory wealth to be the twin brother of big money itself, "Here is your man, now," he added.

Stuart's presence at the moment of meeting gave me some small chance to appraise the trust's emissary, and at the same time to get a little better grip upon myself. Unless I were greatly mistaken, this gentleman was going to give me a run for my money.

He didn't seem particularly joyous when I told him that Mr. Stuart, as my banker, had consented to be present at our interview; and more than once I caught him prying into me with shrewd, unwinking eyes, as if he were seeking to determine what change, other than the absence of the beard and mustache, had taken place in me. This, I felt, was the crucial test; a sharper one than any I had undergone at the hands of any of the South Tredegar folk. If I were the impostor that I had at first believed I was, this hawk-eyed gentleman would unmask me. But there was only suave deprecation in his tone when he said:

"We can hardly talk business here, Mr. Hazzard. Shall we go up to my rooms—or to yours?"

"Mine, if you please," I replied, unwilling to forgo even the trifling advantage of fighting upon my own ground; and accordingly we had ourselves lifted to the seventh floor.

As we sat down at the small writing table in my sitting room, Muhlenberg produced a handful of cigars. Stuart declined to smoke, but I took one of the gold-banded perfectos and lighted it. If there were any steadying influence in tobacco, I wanted it.

At the striking of the matches, Muhlenberg opened the business matter with a canny bargainer's attempt to bear the market. The New York specialists had completed their examination of the land titles, and so far as that went, the results were satisfactory. There were reasons why the purchasing syndicate wished to acquire ownership of the Guess Mountain lands, but there were also reasons deterrent. The coal veins were difficult of access, and a tremendous amount of development capital would be required. In addition, the labor element entered into the question; labor costs in such an out-of-the-way region would doubtless be next door to prohibitory; and so on.

"All of which must have been clearly understood by your principals when the negotiations began," I pointed out, after the bargaining argument was concluded. "Are you trying to tell me that the syndicate you represent wishes to be released from our agreement? Because, if you are, I shall be only too—"

"Oh, no, no; nothing like that!" he broke in smoothly. "But the price you are asking is far too much, Mr. Hazzard. Five million dollars for a few tracts of wild mountain land—" He spread his hands and his shoulders went up.

Gasping inwardly at this, the first intimation I had had of the prodigious sum involved in the wild speculation, I none the less tried to rise to the occasion.

"The matter of the price—my price—has all been thrashed out in the past, Mr. Muhlenberg"—I truly hoped from the bottom of my heart that it had—"and an understanding was definitely arrived at. I stand ready to carry out the seller's half of the bargain. Of course, if you don't want the property—if I am obliged to look elsewhere for my market—" The shadow of a smile wrinkled at the corners of the hawklike eyes.

"You would scarcely be able to find one offhand," he thrust in smartly. "Moreover, I have been hearing some very disturbing things about you to-day, Mr. Hazzard; things which complicate this matter most unfortunately. I hear you have been indicted for alleged complicity in a murder in connection with the securing of these land options, and while, of course, we—"

"You haven't heard it all," I interrupted. "I was indicted day before yesterday, and tried and acquitted in open court this morning. The charge was utterly absurd, as was clearly proved when the facts were brought out in court. We are wasting time; yours and Mr. Stuart's and mine. If your principals wish to withdraw, please say so plainly and I shall look elsewhere for a purchaser."

At this, for the first time in the interview, he let the real man under the suave and genial exterior show through.

"You'll look a damned long while, Mr. Hazzard; I can assure you of that," he rapped out. "Five million dollars don't grow on every tree!"

It was here that the banker spoke for the first time, breaking in quietly to say, "Very true, Mr. Muhlenberg. But, on the other hand, the time has passed when all the capital-bearing trees grow exclusively in New York." Then turning to me: "I think possibly we might be able to finance your proposition right here in South Tredegar, Hazzard, if these New York gentlemen would like to be released. In fact, I don't know but I'd be willing to offer to organize a corporation to that end."

Apparently the New Yorker knew Stuart, or knew enough about him to be sure that the quiet proposal meant just what it purported to mean; that it wasn't a bluff. At all events, he changed his tone immediately, and after haggling a little longer to save his face he drew from an inner pocket the papers which were to bind the tremendous transaction. I signed, with Stuart for a witness, and in a few minutes, with no more to-do about it than if I had been selling, and the trust had been buying, a building site in the suburbs, the five-million-dollar bargain was closed.

By mutual agreement the actual transfer of cash and property was deferred to the following day; and to avert any chance of further complications, I asked Mr. Stuart to act for me in the fiduciary capacity, handing him, in Muhlenberg's presence, the key to the safety-deposit box, and giving him written authority as my agent, in fact.

As soon as the business was concluded, Muhlenberg bowed himself out. When the door closed behind the New York lawyer, Stuart congratulated me in his quiet way, and, in turn, I thanked him out of a full heart for helping me out.

"I doubt if I should have been able to hold him up to the mark, if you hadn't said what you did," I admitted. "He was about to get me on the run."

"Oh, I think you would have held him," returned the little banker, with his affable smile. "Your profit in this transaction will be very considerable, won't it?"

I said it would.

"Going out of town?" he asked, as he found his hat and prepared to take his leave.

I snatched at the Daniel Hilliard undertaking in Alabama as an excuse, telling him briefly what I had promised to do for Hilliard, and saying that I really ought to get about it without any more delay. At this he smiled again.

"Keen as ever, aren't you?" he commented. "With a clean-up as big as the one you've just now concluded, most men would think themselves entitled to a real vacation. But I commend your energy." And with that he left me, promising to handle the settlement with Muhlenberg, if, as I intimated, I might not be able to be present myself.

After he went out I dropped into a chair and let the fierce reaction have its will with me. In five short days I had lived a strenuous lifetime, and now that the strain was off I found myself gasping like an exhausted swimmer cast suddenly by a kindly tide rip into safe wading depth. Incidentally, over and above the triumph of my escape from the machinations of Wayne, and the involvement in the Layne murder, greater than the successful closing of the big deal and the saving of Mr. Corydel's bonds, arose a mighty desire to duck and run—the instinct which prompts the wounded animal to hide itself until it can either die or get the better of its hurt. For now, as never before during the five strenuous days, the crippling memory blank shut down upon me like a lid.

Fortunately, there was now no reason why I shouldn't obey the prompting that was urging me to run and hide. Some three weeks earlier, so they said, I had caught a midnight train and had vanished, leaving no trace. Why shouldn't I do it again? My bag was packed, and I had only to walk out and disappear. If I could only take Judie Bledsoe with me—

That thought of Judie reminded me that she was doubtless still at the office in the Coosa Building waiting for some word from me. I would go around that way and see her; tell her what had been done and what I must do. I thought she would understand; I was sure she would, if I could make her believe that I was telling the truth about my grievous handicap.

Accordingly, traveling bag in hand, I directed my steps toward the great office building three squares distant. As I turned the second corner my gaze went automatically to the ninth story, and to the suite at the farther end of the corridor. The windows were lighted. Judie was there.


WHEN I entered the ninth-floor office in the Coosa Building, I tossed the traveling bag aside and sank down in the armchair at the big desk. Judie was at the typewriter, and I took it she had been writing letters; she was pulling a sheet out of the rolls as I came in.

"Tired?" she asked, putting a heartwarming note of womanly sympathy in the single word.

"Just about all in, down and out," I told her. "It's the pace that kills."

"I should say as much," she assented with a little laugh. Then, "Have you seen Mr. Muhlenberg?"

I nodded. "'I came, I saw, I conquered,' as the old Roman egoist remarked. The big deal has gone through. I was lucky enough to have Mr. Stuart with me, and he and Muhlenberg will make the transfer of the property and the cash to-morrow. I kicked out of that part of it."

"You would, naturally," she said. "The money doesn't mean anything to you."

I wondered for a minute why she should say that. But now that I came to think of it, it was perfectly true. The huge profit in the transaction hadn't appealed to me at all; I had scarcely thought of it in the sharp bargaining with the trust's emissary. Even now it seemed a thing apart.

"You are right," I conceded; "I don't care a bawbee for the money. I guess I was fighting chiefly for the pure joy of the scrap."

"Anybody could see that," she agreed quickly; "and it was fine." Then, with a glance aside for the dropped traveling bag, "You are going away?"

"You've said it. One more day like any one of the past five would finish me."

"I know it has been frightfully trying," she said, again with that sympathetic stop pulled all the way out. "But it is all over now, isn't it? You have done the big thing you came to do, and you are free to go on to Florida."

"To Florida?" I queried. "Why should I want to go to Florida, in particular?"

She looked across at me with a quaint little pursing of the pretty lips.

"It is for you to say, of course, but—must we keep it up straight through to the end?"

"Keep what up?"

"The absurd mystery you have been trying to wrap yourself up in—just why, I can't imagine."

"But there isn't any mystery about me—apart from my ridiculous loss of memory," I insisted.

She started and gave a little gasp.

"Did you—did you honestly mean that—about losing your memory?"

"I did and do. Five mornings ago I woke up in a Pullman car on the Great Southwestern as the train was approaching South Tredegar. You must believe me when I tell you that I haven't the faintest recollection of anything that ever happened to me before that morning awakening."

"But how—why—"

I knew what she was going to ask, and answered accordingly.

"I tumbled into the proper rut, as you might say, almost by chance. A Marlboro porter picked me up at the railroad station and I went with him to the hotel. There everybody seemed to know me, and I was shown up to my rooms—which was lucky because I couldn't have found them myself. I didn't even know my own name until after people began calling me by it."

"But—but," she cried out excitedly, "don't you know you are not Rodney Hazzard at all?"

At this, if the swivel chair hadn't had confining arms, I might have fallen out of it.

"My dear girl!" I exclaimed; "are you crazy? Or am I?"

"Neither of us," she answered, and now she was quite herself again. "Have you really been thinking all the time that you were Rodney Hazzard?"

"I've been forced to think it!" I exploded. "I'll leave it to you if I've been given a lost dog's chance to think anything else!"

"Well, you are not," she said this with such evident sincerity as to leave no loophole of uncertainty. "You merely look enough like Rodney Hazzard to mislead people."

"Good heavens!" I gasped; "do you mean to tell me—-but it can't be! Surely all these people I've been meeting—or some of them, at least—would have—"

"It can be, and is," she broke in decisively. "Don't you remember now who you are?"

"I remember nothing; absolutely nothing. And if what you are saying is true, I'm nobody; I'm a wraith—a shadow—a lost man. You've knocked out the one little identity prop I had to lean upon!"

"But you've been trying to remember, haven't you?"

"Trying? I've tried until my brain is like a mess of scrambled eggs! Sometimes the past that I can't reach seems just over the edge of things, but I can't grasp it. All I can say is that nothing here in South Tredegar, nor yet in Shotwell, has served to recall it. Everything was and is strange; nothing is familiar."

"Naturally it wouldn't be," she cut in soothingly. Then she turned to her desk and rummaged in a drawer. What she found and handed me was a cabinet photograph; the picture of a handsome young man with a pointed beard and neatly trimmed mustache. "Do you know what that is?" she asked.

She had touched the hidden spring. Something seemed to burst with a clatter and crash in the back part of my brain, and I heard myself say: "Of course I know; it's Rodney—my brother." Then, as I sprang up and began to walk the floor, the vanished past began to reveal itself like a slowly unrolling scroll; my boyhood with Rodney in the little home town in Indiana; our schooldays, when we looked so much alike that our teachers couldn't tell us apart; our college, where we had taken the same course in mining engineering. Even our handwriting had been characteristic of the twin similarity; the home folks could never tell which one of us was writing until they came to the signature of the letter.

Judie gave me time to right the boat and bail it a bit, and I needed it. Finally she broke the silence.

"Is it coming back to you now?"

"Piecemeal," I said, drawing a long breath. "It is just as the doctor predicted; that some little thing would start the stopped, machinery. Your showing me that picture did it."

"What doctor was that?" she queried.

"Wentworth; in the Severance Building. Norman told me about him and I went to him that first morning, before I came here. He said there'd be a comeback, sooner or later, and it is here. Only it is beginning from the far end; I can't seem to bring it down to date. I can remember that after we were graduated, Rodney came South somewhere to go into business for himself, and I—I went to Central America, didn't I?"

"You did. You were in Guatemala for three years or more, doing some engineering work for a gold-mining company. Don't you remember that?"

Instantly I recalled the series of glimpse pictures evoked by the man Talbot's bit of talk in the Marlboro lobby. Talbot had not been mistaken; he was as right as rain. I was the fever-stricken mining engineer who had come aboard the steamer at Puerto Barrios; I, myself, and no other. But how I came to be there, and what I was trying to do, were still among the things unrecallable.

"You'll have to help me a bit," I pleaded. "Two nights ago I met a man in the hotel who said he was a fellow passenger of mine on a boat from Puerto Barrios to New Orleans; that I had a fever and was delirious. I supposed, as a matter of course, that he was mistaking me for somebody else, and told him so; but I guess he wasn't. Do you happen to know what I was trying to do?"

"Since I wrote your brother's letters and saw your replies, I do know all about it," she returned. "Mr. Rodney wrote, begging you to come and help him in this Guess Mountain deal. That was about two months ago. He was breaking down, even then, and was afraid he couldn't keep going long enough to carry the deal through. You wrote back that you would come; and then again to say you were about to start.

"That was the last we heard, and we couldn't imagine what had become of you. Your brother held up as long as he could, but the strain broke him at last. I don't know definitely where he went, but I've been taking it for granted that when the collapse came he just went to pieces and ran away to your father and mother in Florida. They went down there a short time ago and bought an orange grove near Sanford. That was what made me say what I did a little while ago—about your being free, now, to go and hunt your brother up."

"Poor Rod!" I broke in; "it was a rather low-down trick I played on him; getting sick and dropping out just when I was needed most."

"Don't you remember anything at all about your sickness?"

"Next to nothing. I fancy it was typhoid or paratyphoid—which would account for the enormous appetite I'm carrying around with me now. Talbot said I was taken to the Charity Hospital in New Orleans upon the arrival of the steamer, and the hospital doctors must have thought I was fully recovered, since they evidently turned me loose. And I must have had some glimmerings of memory while I was convalescing, because I apparently knew enough to take a ticket to South Tredegar. But tell me; have you known all along that I was Roderick and not Rodney?"

"Of course!" she replied scoffingly; "that is, almost from the first. You look enough like your twin to pass for him anywhere, but that is all. The moment you began to talk, I knew who you were. But if I hadn't known then, you said and did any number of things that first day to prove that you weren't Mr. Rodney. And the next day—T nearly went to pieces when I tried to imagine Mr. Rodney doing what you did to Parker Wayne! What I couldn't understand was why you were trying to make people believe you were Mr. Rodney."

"I didn't have to try," I pointed out. "It was the other side to; as I've said, I wasn't given a yellow dog's chance to believe anything else, myself. Still, it doesn't seem possible that all of Rod's friends could be so blind as to let another man step in and double for him."

"Think a minute," she urged. "You haven't met so very many of his really intimate friends in these five days, have you? And hasn't nearly everybody commented upon your changed looks?"

"I give you right, there," I conceded; "it has been the first word handed me whenever I met a new one. But there is Miss Treadway: don't tell me that a woman who has promised to marry a man could calmly swap him for another without—"

Out of the corner of my eye I saw her give a little toss of the shapely head.

"I'm not a mind reader. I don't know what you've been saying to Alicia Treadway, or what she has been saying to you."

"What she has said was a good bit to the doubtful, I'll have to admit," I confessed. "It was the same song that everybody else has been singing: 'You're so changed that I hardly know you'—that sort of thing, you know. Mighty little wonder she doesn't know me! But I'll never get over being thankful for one thing, at least."

"What is that?"

"That I don't have to marry Miss Alicia Treadway."

Silence for a minute or so while I dropped into the desk chair again and tried to drag myself around to the point of view which had so violently, not to say brutally, reversed itself. Out of the new tangle which the restoration of my own identity had precipitated I could draw only one clear-cut conclusion. Now, more than ever, it was binding upon me to vanish and leave no trace.

There was no slightest chance that I could go on impersonating Rodney now that I knew I was a rank impostor. And if I should take the other course—tell it abroad that I wasn't Rod, but only Rod's brother substituting for him. Heavens! the cumulative consequences were fairly appalling. The land transaction would blow up with a loud noise, Rod would be ruined, and the court at Shotwell, learning that it had been hoaxed into trying the wrong man, would undoubtedly insist upon trying the right one.

"You went to Shotwell to-day meaning to tell the judge and jury that they had the wrong Hazzard?" I said.

"If I was obliged to," she qualified. "I knew it would upset things dreadfully, if I should have to, but I didn't intend to let them punish you for something you didn't do, or even know about."

I twisted my chair to face her.

"In that case you would have had to choose between Rod and me. If you had cleared me it would only have been a shifting of the charge over to Rod. Had you thought of that?"

She pressed her lips tightly together and nodded.

"I had thought of everything. I knew that if it came out that you were only Mr. Rodney's brother, there would be an awful mix-up with everybody—the bank, and Mr. Stuart and Mr. Muhlenberg. Unless you had legal authority—as I knew you didn't have—none of them would have let you act for Mr. Rodney. But I didn't care; I wasn't going to let them send you to the penitentiary coal mines as a convict."

Here was an entirely new wrinkle in the tangle, and it made my blood tingle.

"Would you have pulled down the whole house of cards like that for the sake of a man you didn't know and never saw until five short days ago, Judie?"

She turned away and her answer was made to her type machine rather than to me.

"I know you much better than you know me. I've been here with your brother for a year and a half, and when he wasn't talking business, or about Alicia Treadway, he would fill in the time telling me what a miracle of a twin brother he had. He—he seemed to think that the sun rises and sets in you. He used to keep your photograph here on his desk—one taken at the mine in Guatemala: I don't know what he has done with it now."

I knew what he'd done with it; it was the snapshot that was paired off with Alicia's on the dressing table in his bedroom at the Marlboro. The recollection of Alicia's picture reminded me that I had a duty yet to perform before I should vanish, and I took up the desk-set phone and called the Treadway house number. Fortunately, it was Alicia herself who answered.

"Roddy talking," I said, adding the first conscious lie to the many unconscious ones I had been telling.

"Yes, I know," she answered, and in her voice there was a little tremolo thrill that was hopeful—for Rod. "I've just had Mr. Berwick on long-distance from Shotwell," she went on, "and he has told me what happened, to-day. You don't know how glad and thankful I am! Did you drive back over the mountain?"

"Yes," I replied; "and listen, Alicia—er—dear; the Big Deal has gone through at last, and to-morrow—unless the world should come to an end in the meantime—a fellow named Rodney Hazzard will be able to buy and sell any number of those little bush-league capitalists your father would like to have you pick from when you marry. Don't you think, in the circumstances, we'd better forget what was said in the Marlboro lounge a couple of evenings ago—after my little fracas with Parker Wayne in the dining room?"

"Oh, Roddy, dear!" she came back. "Do you want to forget it?"

"It's the surest thing you know. And now listen once more. I'm leaving town tonight and I shan't be able to see you again before I go. But I'll promise you this: when you see him next, the fellow who asked you to marry him will be the same little old Roddy Hazzard that you've always known, conventionalities and all. If you should put him under a microscope you won't be able to detect any of those differences that have been troubling you so. I realize that I haven't been—er—quite the man you used to know, for the past few days, but it will be all right from this time on. And say: I'm going to leave a little piece of jewelry with Judie Bledsoe for you. I want you to put it on your finger again. You'll do that for your Roddy, won't you, Alicia—er—dear?"

I caught her fluttering "yes" before central cut us off, and was glad the interruption came before I should be obliged to stultify myself to any more unforgivable degree. When I hung the receiver on its hook, Judie's eyes were dancing.

"They tell only half the truth when they talk about love being blind," she derided. "It is deaf, as well; as deaf as a little old June-bug beetle! The very idea of Alicia Treadway thinking for a moment that it was Mr. Rodney talking to her at this end of the wire!"

"What do you know about love?" I demanded.

She laughed in my face.

"Sir James Barrie once wrote a play called 'What Every Woman Knows.' I suppose you never had a chance to see it—in Guatemala."

I had a prodding hunch that here was my opening to say a thing that was fairly aching to be said, but I postponed it in deference to the crowding and exacting demands of the moment in a different field.

"About the business of covering my tracks; that is the important thing just now," I said. "It must never be known that Rod's had an understudy playing his part for the past five days. I'm going to try to find him and get him back here. But if I shouldn't find him—if we should miss and he should turn up before I can get hold of him—you'll have to good-angel him to a fare-you-well—put him next so that he'll know everything that has been said and done and be able to take up the threads where I'm dropping them. It's asking an awful lot of you, but—"

"I'm still on Mr. Rodney's pay roll," she minded me, half jestingly. "Of course I shall tell him all I know."

"You'll know how to steer him straight," I hastened to say. "He'll have a harder job shifting from me to himself than I had in substituting for him because he will know what he is doing, and I was in a state of blessed ignorance. Nobody must know that he's been out and I've been in. It would set the clock back to just where it was five days ago, with a thousand added tangles to make matters worse."

"Indeed it would," she agreed readily; and then, with the rapturous eyes veiled:

"You are quite right in saying that you must go away, and—and never come back."

"Oh—oh, hold on," I protested. "I didn't say I was never coming back."

"But you mustn't—ever. Because, if you do, people will find out, and—"

"Leave that to your little Roderick; I'm coming, if I have to grow a red beard and dye my hair to match it."

She laughed a bit at that. "Would your beard be red? That is the fighting color, isn't it?" Then she went on half musingly: "It was the most wonderful thing that ever happened—your coming just when you did. It's trite to say that it was the psychological moment, but that is what it was really. Even if your brother hadn't broken down he would never have been able to carry things through. I knew it—felt it—all along."

"Why wouldn't he?"

"Because he hasn't—because his beard isn't red. He has everything that goes to make the successful business man; he is a genius in that way, and a perfectly gorgeous one. But he won't fight; you know what I mean—stand up and take blows and give them. Parker Wayne would have robbed him in the end; I know he would."

"Um," said I; "you've called the turn on Rod; he was never much of a rough-and-tumble scrapper, even as a boy; but he makes it up by being lovable and generous to a fault. As for me, I don't much mind the hard knocks—not if I can hand a few of them back. But the hardest one is coming right now."

It was a bunglesome little trap, but she fell into it as neatly as anything you ever saw, saying, as I hoped she would: "And what is that?"

"Leaving you," I asserted baldly. "But, as I've said, I'm coming back after you."

"I—I don't know what you mean," she stammered.

"Then I'll make it plainer. You are the only woman in the wide world. I knew it the moment I laid eyes on you."

"Ridiculous!" she scoffed. "You have known me only five little days, and no longer ago than yesterday you were trying to make yourself believe that you ought to be in love with Alicia Treadway!"

"'Trying' is right," I grinned. "But it was like building a fire under a balky mule; all it did was to burn the wagon up. I realize that you don't know me yet, and I'm perfectly willing to give you time; a month, or even two of them, if you think it will take that long."

"How am I going to get to know you any better if you go away?" she asked, all too unconcernedly, I thought.

"But, don't you see, I've got to go!" I lamented. "It is equally impossible for me to go on impersonating Rodney, or to declare myself—after the part I've been playing—as Rodney's brother. A few of Rod's friends might credit the story of the memory lapse, but more of them wouldn't. And those who didn't credit it would set both Rod and me down as a pair of sharp rascals who, for some reason that was not apparent on the surface of things, had conspired to pull some sort of game upon a trusting and confiding public. More than that, the big land deal would blow up into small fragments and scatter itself all over the scenery. I committed a forgery no longer than an hour ago when I signed Rod's name to Muhlenberg's papers."

She nodded, half absently, I fancied; and then I went back to the main contention.

"But these things are only side issues. I'm going away because I'm obliged to, and I'll stay away long enough to raise that red beard I spoke of—so that I won't look too criminally much like the shaved person these South Tredegarites have been welcoming to their hearts and homes during the past five days. Then I'm coming back—for you."

She looked aside, and it was only the twitching of the ripe red lips in a teasing smile that saved my life when she said: "You may not find me then; I may be married and gone."

It seemed to be time for a little tour de force—if I have the French of it right—and it was only a lover's leap, as you might say, from my chair to hers. When I gathered her in my arms she fought me a little, but I guess that was only the eternal feminine asserting itself automatically. For, the next minute, she was hiding a hot little face on my shoulder and trying to tell me brokenly that, after all, she was nothing but a silly, sentimental little fool, because she had long ago fallen in love with Rod's picture of me—with that and his brother-foolish praisings of me.

"Of course, at that time I didn't ever expect to see you," she protested in sweet confusion. "It was such a gushy, school-girly thing to do! But I couldn't help it; and when you wa-walked in that morning—" It was the snap of a door latch and quick, nervous footsteps in the outer office that made us hastily break the clinch and fall apart; and, speaking for myself, I'm not at all sure that I had the mask of complete innocence well pulled on before the door opened and Rod—Rod himself in his own proper person, brown beard, neatly trimmed mustache, tortoise-shell spectacles and all stood before us.


WHEN Rodney saw me he flung the hand-bag he was carrying to the farthest corner of the room and made a rush for me quite in the old affectionate and brotherly fashion.

"Rick!—you old berserk!" he burst out, wringing my hand. "So you got here at last, did you? But it's too late. I held on as long as I could—-until I went off my head and ran away without realizing what I was doing. I've come back now to go to jail—where I belong."

Together Judie and I pushed him into a chair—his own swivel chair—and made him listen to the story of the five weird days, briefed and simplified into words of one syllable. When it was told he put his face in his hands and his shoulders were shaking.

"I don't deserve it!" he cried out brokenly. "I ought to have had nerve enough to stand the gaff, but I hadn't. It's your fortune, Rick—not mine. You've earned every dollar of it!"

"Nothing like it!" I laughed. "I couldn't frame up a deal of that size in a thousand years. Judie and I merely shook the tree when the apple was ripe. Now you must take your orders and take 'em swiftly. Have you been to the hotel?"

"No; I'm just off the Florida train. As I turned the corner from the station I saw the office lights and came up to see what they meant."

"All right; here's the program, You go into that lavatory, before you show yourself anywhere else, and shave; oh, don't kick—you've got to do it. I have the tools right here in my grip. After you've done that, I'll give you your cues—and there are about a million of them. You'll have to drop into the place I'm leaving, and do it letter-perfect. You'll know what I mean when I repeat that I've been doubling for you the best I could, even with Miss Treadway. Among other things, you'll have to promise her that you'll let your beard grow again; she doesn't quite fancy the clean shave.

"While you are disguising yourself, I'll take Miss Judie home. Lock the door behind us, and stay right here until I come back. My train doesn't leave until midnight, and I'll give you all the time there is in between."

Like a man in a dream he began to unbuckle the straps of my grip. Suddenly he looked up as if he had just realized what I had been saying.

"But you're not going away!" he protested. "That's pure piffle. I want you to stay here with me—work with me—share this boodle with me. You've got to stay!"

"Nothing doing!" I retorted. "You haven't grasped the situation. Just at the present time there is room for only one of us in this thriving little city of yours; do you get that?"

"But see here!" he pleaded; "I can never play up to my part unless you stay and coach me!"

"Yes, you can—after I get through with you to-night; and what I can't tell you, Judie will." And with that I took Judie under my arm and ducked.

We found a taxi, and I put her in and went with her to the house on Battery Hill where she roomed and boarded. The parting had to be brief, with the taxi waiting to take me back to the office. But there was time for a word or two on the front door-step.

"Did you really mean it when you said you'd come back?" she whispered.

"You'll see me the very day that my beard will pass muster."

"I shan't like you so well with a beard—a red beard; I know I shan't."

"Then we'll be married and skip for it, and I'll shave the beard off the minute we're out of town."

"Tommie!" she said, meaning the Sentimental variety, I suppose; but since the street wasn't very well lighted, and the house was dark as a pocket, she let me wrap her in my arms and kiss her, and this time there were no echoing footsteps to make me cut it short.

Rod had made his sorrowful sacrifice to the necessities by the time I reached the office, and I scarcely recognized him. But when we looked together in the lavatory glass, I had to make a face before I could tell which was my own reflection in the quicksilver.

"You'll do," I decided; and then we settled ourselves for the cramming course in prompt cues.

It lacked only fifteen minutes of the midnight train time when all the arrears were brought up to date, and I told Rod that, so far as I could see, he was pretty well prepared to fall in where I was falling out.

"But there is one more hitch," I pointed out. "I've told Stuart, and also Alicia, that I'm leaving town to-night. In view of that, it won't do for you to be here to-morrow; besides, it would be more than dangerous if you should have to meet Muhlenberg—he is too sharp-eyed for you to take a chance on him, and there is no need of it, since Stuart will act for you in closing the deal."

"But what shall I do?—run away again?" he asked.

I fished out the sketches I had made for Daniel Hilliard and went rapidly over the data I had figured out for that gentleman.

"Here's your chance," I said. "I've already banked five hundred dollars of Mr. Hilliard's money for you, and you can get out and earn it. There's a train for his place in Alabama at four o'clock in the morning. Keep yourself out of sight until that time, and then make a sneak for it. How will that do?"

"Fine," he said; "and when I come back, I'll lean good and hard on Judie for more of the cues."

"All right," I grumbled; "but do all of your leaning in the next month or so. Now I must go."

"You won't fail to come back?" was his last plea.

"Not unless old B. Typhosus takes a hand again," I laughed. "With Judie here and waiting for me, I'd come if I had to count the ties."

I made for the station and the train which was to carry me three fourths of the way on my twenty-four-hour jump to Florida and the new home of my father and mother.

AND now? For a weary month I've been loafing here under the Florida orange trees, jotting these foolish things down to kill time while my beard was growing. It's grown now; long enough to trim, at least. To-morrow I'm going back—to Judie.



Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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