WILLIS ROUND ESCAPES

No man, or boy, for that matter, knows just what he can do until put to
the test. We may think we know the limit of our strength or endurance,
but we cannot prove it until an emergency arises. Then we are often
found mistaken in our previous surmises, and, need it be said, much to
our amazement.
Nature is a wise mother. She has provided in all a reserve force which
only needs the touch of an exigency to cause it to appear full powered.
A task is set before you–you cannot do it in your opinion; but you
try–and succeed. You are in peril; only a miracle of strength or
shrewdness will save you. Involuntarily you act, and, lo! the miracle
comes from your good right arm or your brain.
A lad learning to swim places a dozen yards as the extent of his powers.
He enters the water; is carried beyond his depth; swept away by an
undertow, and swims successfully the length of three city blocks. It was
his reserve force and the stimulating fear of death that brought him
safely to shore.
When Nattie Manning felt himself falling into the canal, sent there by
Willis Round’s cunning arm, he realized only one emotion, and that was
rage–overpowering, consuming anger. He was wild with wrath to think
that he had been tricked by the ex-bookkeeper, and the flames of his
passion were not lessened by discomfiture.
It seemed that he had barely touched the water before he was out,
climbing hand over hand up the jagged stone side. To this day he does
not know how he emerged so quickly, or by what latent force of muscle he
dragged himself to the passageway.
He gained the spot, however, and, thoroughly saturated with water, set
out at the top of his speed after his assailant, whose shadowy figure
scurried along in front of him toward the bay. What the lad hoped to
accomplish he could not well tell himself, but he continued the pursuit
with the keen determination of a bloodhound.
A short distance back of the “go-down,” a narrow street ran from the
bluff to the center of the city. It crossed the canal with the aid of a
low bridge, and was occupied by storehouses.
The storm was passing away. The rain had slackened perceptibly, and the
wind had died down to occasional puffs. In the south lightning could
still be seen, but it was the mere glowing of atmospheric heat.
In that part of Yokohama devoted to mercantile warehouses, the street
lamps were few and far between. There was one at the junction of the
bridge and passageway, however, and when Nattie dashed into its circle
of illumination, he suddenly found himself confronted by a uniformed
policeman.
The latter immediately stretched out his arms and brought the lad to a
halt. Then drawing his short-sword, he demanded in peremptory tones the
meaning of his haste. Seeing the futility of resisting the official,
Nattie hurriedly made known his identity, and explained the events of
the night.
Brief as was the delay, when the two started in pursuit of the fugitive,
enough time had been wasted to permit him to escape. A hasty search of
the neighborhood brought no results. Willis Round was out of reach.
“No matter,” remarked the lad, at last. “I know him, and it won’t be
difficult to apprehend the scoundrel.”
Returning to the “go-down” with the officer, he closed the window and
then dispatched the man to the nearest messenger office with a note for
Grant. In due time the police official returned with assistance. Patrick
Cronin was found helplessly intoxicated in a nearby house, and
unceremoniously lugged away to jail.
The lame youth was prompt in his appearance on the scene. He brought
with him a servant of the family, who was installed as watchman until
the morrow. Relieved from his responsibility, Nattie accompanied his
brother home, and after explaining the affair in detail, proceeded to
take the rest he needed for the wrestling match of the next day.
On reporting at the office the following morning, he found Grant and
Mori still discussing Willis Round’s actions. A report from the police
stated that nothing had been accomplished. The fugitive was still at
liberty, and in all probability had left the city.
“I’ll wager a _yen_ he is speeding as fast as the train can carry him to
either Nagasaki or Kobe,” remarked Mori. “He’ll try to get a ship and
leave the country.”
Grant shook his head doubtfully.
“In my opinion, he will not do that,” he said. “There are too many
places in the interior where he can hide until this affair blows over.”
“If the scoundrel ever shows his face in Yokohama I’ll see that he is
placed behind the bars,” exclaimed Nattie, vindictively. “He deserves
little mercy at our hands. If an all-wise Providence had not sent me to
the ‘go-down’ last night we would now be considerably out of pocket.”
“What will we do with Patrick Cronin?”
“Discharge him; that’s all. We can’t prove any connection with Round.
The latter simply tempted him away from his duty with a bottle of
whiskey. It will be impossible to bring a criminal charge against the
Irishman.”
“I will see that he remains in jail for a couple of weeks, anyway,”
decided Grant. “He deserves some punishment.”
“When shall we close up?” asked Nattie, gayly. “This is a great holiday,
you know. We are due at the race track by ten.”
“It’s a quarter past nine now,” replied the young Japanese, looking at
his watch. “Suppose we start at once?”
The suggestion was acted upon with alacrity. Leaving the office in
charge of a native watchman, the three youths took _jinrikishas_ and
proceeded to the “bluff,” where the sports of the day were to take
place.
The storm of the preceding night had ended in delightful weather. The
tropical rays of the sun were tempered by a cooling breeze from the bay.
The air was glorious with briskness, and so clear that the majestic peak
of Fuji San seemed within touch.
The city was in gala attire. Banners of all nations were flaunting in
the breeze, but after the Japanese flag of the Rising Sun, the grand old
Stars and Stripes predominated. It could not be said that the firm of
Manning Brothers & Okuma had failed in patriotism.
Streaming from a lofty flagstaff on the roof was an immense American
ensign, and draping the _façade_ of the building were others intertwined
with the standard of the country. The streets were decorated with arches
and bunting, and every second native wore a little knot of red, white
and blue.
It was a unique celebration, from one point of view. Many years before,
the gallant Commodore Perry had sailed into the Bay of Yokohama with a
message of good will from the then President of the United States to the
ruler of Japan.
At that time the island kingdom was walled in by impassable bulwarks of
exclusiveness and hatred of foreigners. For thousands of years she had
calmly pursued her course of life, lost to civilization, and satisfied
with her reign of idols and depths of barbarism.
It required a strong hand to force a way to the central power, and time
waited until the Yankee commodore appeared with his fleet of ships.
Other nations had tried to pierce the barrier. England, France, Germany
made repeated attempts, but were repulsed.


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The Dutch secured a foothold of trade, but on the most degrading terms.
Their representatives were compelled to approach the mikado and grovel
upon their knees with heads bowed in the dust. In this debasing attitude
were they greeted with the contempt they deserved, and as slaves to
Japan.
Much as Americans desired commercial relations with the country, they
would not accept them with humility. In the selection of an envoy the
United States could not have decided on a better man than Commodore
Perry, brother of the hero of Lake Erie.
Firm, implacable, intelligent, and generous withal, he was the fitting
choice. On reaching Japan he was met with refusals and evasions. He
persisted, and finally the august ruler sent a minor official to confer
with the foreigner.
“I am here as personal representative of the United States of America,
and I will see no one save the mikado himself, or his highest official,”
replied the bluff naval officer. “I have ten ships and two hundred guns,
and here I stay until I am received with the formalities due my
President.”
He finally won the point, and after the usual delay, a treaty was made
between the two countries, to the amazement of the civilized world. This
was the entering wedge which resulted in the Japan of to-day. Lifted
from her barbarism, she has reached a high plane among nations. Small
wonder that her people celebrate the anniversary, and honor the memory
of the immortal Commodore Perry.
With apologies for this digression, I will again take up the thread of
the story.