He shook hands with

Edward Floyd-Rosney in some sort habitually confused cause and effect.
In his normal entourage he mistook the swift potencies of his wealth,
waiting on his will, like a conjurer’s magic, for an individual
endowment of ability. He had great faith in his management. In every
group of business men with whom his affairs brought him in contact his
financial weight gave him a predominance and an influence which
flattered his vanity, and which he interpreted as personal tribute, and
yet he did not disassociate in his mind his identity from his income.
His wealth was an integral part of him, one of the many great values
attached to his personality–he felt that he was wise and witty, capable
and coercive. He addressed himself to the manipulation of a difficult
situation with a certainty of success that gave a momentum to the force
with which his money carried all before him. So rarely had he been
placed on a level with other men, in a position in which wealth and
influence were inoperative, that he had had scant opportunities to
appraise his own mental processes–his judgment, his initiative, his
powers of ratiocination.

He did not feel like a fool when Randal Ducie walked deliberately into
the hall of his fathers, staring in responsive surprise to see the
Floyd-Rosneys still lingering there. That admission was impossible to
Floyd-Rosney’s temperament. He felt as if contemplating some revulsion
of nature. He had seen this man among the crowd, boarding the steamer,
and lo, here he was again, on dry land and the boat now miles distant.

He stood stultified, all his plans for the avoidance of Ducie strangely
dislocated and set at naught by the unexpected falling out of events.

He was not calculated to bear tamely any crossing of his will, and the
blood began to throb heavily in his temples with the realization that
his wife had understood his clumsy maneuver, of which she was the
subject, and witnessed its ludicrous discomfiture. His pride would not
suffer him to glance toward her, where she sat perched up on the grand
staircase, in the attitude of a coquettish girl. He curtly addressed

“Thought you were gone!”

“No,” said Ducie, almost interrogatively, as to why this conclusion.

Floyd-Rosney responded to the intonation.

“I saw you going down to the landing.”

“To see my brother off.”


What more obvious–what more natural? The one resumed his interrupted
journey, and the other was to take up his usual course of life. That is,
thought Floyd-Rosney, if this one is Randal Ducie. But, for some reason,
they might have reversed the program, and this is the other one.

Floyd-Rosney struggled almost visibly for his wonted dominance, but
Ducie had naught at stake on his favor, naught to give or to lose, and
his manner was singularly composed and inexpressive–too well bred to
even permit the fear of counter questions as to why they lingered here
and let the steamer leave without them. Perhaps, he felt such inquiries
intrusive, for, after a moment, he turned away, and Floyd-Rosney still
confronted him with eyes round and astonished and his face a flushed and
uneasy mask of discomfiture.

Momentarily at a loss how to dispose of himself, Ducie looked about the
apartment, devoid of chairs or any furniture, and, finally, resorted to
the staircase, taking up a position on one of the lower steps. Perhaps,
had he known that the Floyd-Rosneys were within he would have lingered
outside. But dignity forbade a retreat, although his disinclination for
their society was commensurate with Floyd-Rosney’s aversion to him and
his brother. For his life Floyd-Rosney, still staring, could not decide
which of the twain he had here, and Paula, with a perverse relish of his
quandary, perceived and enjoyed his dilemma. Although he was aware she
could discern the difference her manner afforded him no clew, as she sat
silent and intentionally looking very pretty, to her husband’s
indignation, as he noted the grace of her studied attitude, her face
held to inexpressive serenity, little in accord with the tumult of
vexation the detention had occasioned her.

Floyd-Rosney could not restrain his questions. Perhaps they might pass
with Ducie as idle curiosity, although with Paula he had now no

“You are waiting—-?”

“For my horse,” returned Ducie, with the accent of surprise. “There was
no room in the phaeton for me, as Colonel Kenwynton and Major Lacey
concluded to accompany the doctor and his patient to the sanatorium.”

So this was Randal Ducie, and the brother had resumed his journey down
the river.

“The doctor promised to send the horse back for me—-” he paused a
moment. “I hope he will send the phaeton, too, for if you have made no
other arrangements—-” Once more he paused blankly–it seemed so
strange that Floyd-Rosney should allow himself to be marooned here in
this wise. “If you have made no other arrangements it will give me
pleasure to drive you to the station near Glenrose.”

“We are due at the sanatorium for the insane, I think,” cried Paula,
with her little fleering laugh, her chin thrust up in her satirical

Floyd-Rosney, sore bestead and amazed by her manner, made a desperate
effort to recover his composure.

“Oh, I sent a telegram by one of the passengers to be transmitted when
the boat touches at the landing at Volney, and this will bring an
automobile here for my family.”

“If the passenger does not forget to send it, or if, when the boat
touches he is not asleep, after his vigils here, or if he is not taking
a walk, or eating his lunch, or, like Baal of old, otherwise engaged,
when we, too, may cry Baal, Baal, unavailingly. For my part, I accept
your offer, Mr. Ducie, if your vehicle comes first; if not I hope you
will take a seat in the automobile with us.”

“That is a compact,” said Ducie graciously.

Floyd-Rosney felt assured that this was Randal. He was more suave than
his brother–or was it that old associations still had power to gentle
his temper? He could not understand his wife’s revolt. Now and again he
looked at her with an unconscious inquiry in his eyes. So little was he
accustomed to subject his own actions to criticism that it did not occur
to him that he had gone too far. The worm had turned, seeming unaware
how lowly and helpless was its estate. He had all the sentiment of
grinding it under his heel, as he said loftily:

“We shall have no need to impose upon you, Mr. Ducie. Our own conveyance
will be here in ample time,”–then, like a jaw-breaker–“Thanks.”

“I march with the first detachment,” declared Paula hardily. “I shall
accept your offer of transportation, Mr. Ducie, if the auto does not
come first.”

Floyd-Rosney thought this must surely be Adrian Ducie, and not his
brother. For some reason of their own they _must_ have exchanged their
missions, and Randal had gone down the river, leaving his brother here.
For she–a stickler on small points of the appropriate–could never say
this if it were her old lover. Her sense of decorum, her respect for her
husband, her habitual exercise of good taste would alike forbid the
suggestion. Doubtless, it was Adrian Ducie.

“I don’t think an automobile will come,” remarked Ducie. “The roads are
very rough between here and Volney.”

Paula’s next words seemed to mend the matter a trifle in Floyd-Rosney’s

“I think we have all had enough of Duciehurst for one time! I would not
risk remaining here, as evening closes in, for any consideration. All
the riverside harpies will be flocking here when this story of treasure
trove is bruited abroad. The old place will be fairly torn stone from
stone, and there will be horrible orgies of strife and bloodshed. There
ought to be a guard set, though there is nothing now to guard.”

“Do you suppose Captain Treherne’s story of the river pirates was all
fact or was partly the effect of his hallucination?” Ducie asked.

“The cords he was bound with were pretty circumstantial evidence,” said
Mrs. Floyd-Rosney, not waiting, as usual, for her husband’s word, but
taking the lead in the conversation with aplomb and vivacity–he
remembered scornfully that before her marriage she had been accounted in
social circles intellectual, a _bel esprit_ among the frivols.

“The gag failed of its function of silence,” she continued, “it told the
whole story. You would have known that it was stern truth if you had
seen it.”

Floyd-Rosney vacillated once more.

“This _must_ be Randal Ducie,” he thought, “for Adrian was present at
the liberation of Captain Treherne–indeed, he was with the group
searching among the series of ruined vacant apartments when the prisoner
was discovered.”

“The finding of the box was very singular,” speculated Ducie, “the
closest imaginable shave. It was just as possible to one of the parties
on the verge of discovery as the other.”

He was in that uneasy, disconcerted state of mind usual with a stranger
present at a family discord which he feels, yet must not obviously
perceive and cannot altogether ignore.

“It seems the hand of fate,” said Paula.

“I went up to the third story this morning and looked at the place,”
remarked Randal. “I really don’t see how, without tools, you contrived
to wrench the heavy washboard away, and get at the bricks and the
interior of the capital of the pilaster.”

“It seems a feat more in keeping with Miss Dean,” suggested
Floyd-Rosney, “she has such a splendid physique.”

“Hilda is as strong as a boy,” declared Paula. “She does ‘the
athletic’–affects very boyish manners, don’t you think?” she added,
addressing Ducie directly.

There were few propositions which either of the Floyd-Rosneys could put
forth with which Randal Ducie would not have agreed, so eager was he to
close the incident without awkward friction. To let the malapropos
encounter pass without result was the instinct of his good breeding.
But, upon this direct challenge, he felt that he could not annul his
individuality, his convictions.

“Why, not at all boyish,” he said. “On the contrary, I think her manners
are most feminine in their fascination. Did you notice that the old
blind Major was having the time of his life?”

Floyd-Rosney, without the possibility of seating himself unless he, too,
resorted to the stair, was pacing slowly back and forth, his head bent
low, his hands lightly clasped behind him. Now and again he sent forth a
keenly observant glance at the two disposed on the stair, like a couple
of young people sitting out a dance at a crowded evening function.

“Hildegarde will flirt with anything or anybody when good material
cannot be had,” said Mrs. Floyd-Rosney, with a manner of vague

“Well, that is scarcely fair to my brother,” said Randal. He would not
let this pass.

“Oh, I should judge his flirting days are over,” cried Paula, wilfully
flippant. “He is as crusty as a bear with a sore head.”

“Or a sore heart,” said Randal, thinking of Adrian’s long exile, and his
hard fate, ousted from his home and fortune; then he could have bitten
his tongue out, realizing the sentimental significance of the words.
Still one cannot play with fire without burning one’s fingers, and there
are always embers among the ashes of an old flame.

For her life Paula could but look conscious with the eyes of both men on
her face.

“He doesn’t seem an exponent of a sore heart.” She stumbled inexcusably
in her clumsy embarrassment. There was an awkward silence. The
implication that Adrian might be representative passed as untenable, and
the subject of hearts was eschewed thereafter.

“Miss Dean has been quite famous as a beauty and belle in her brief
career,” Mr. Floyd-Rosney deigned to contribute to the conversation.

“She is wonderfully attractive–so original and interesting,” said Ducie

“It seems to me Hilda carries her principal assets in her face,” said
Mrs. Floyd-Rosney. “They say she wouldn’t learn a thing at the
convent–and what is worse, she feels no lack.”

“What does any woman learn?” demanded Floyd-Rosney iconoclastically,
“and what does any woman’s education signify? A mosaic of worthless
smattering, expensive to acquire, and impossible to apply. Miss Dean
lacks nothing in lacking this equipment.”

Paula sat affronted and indignant. In her husband’s sweeping assertion
he had not had the courtesy to except her, and it was hardly admissible
for Ducie to repair the omission. He could only carry the proposition
further and make it general, and his tact seized the opportunity.

“I think that might be said of the youth of both sexes. The fakir, with
his learning made-easy, is the foible of the age and its prototype
extends to business methods–the get-rich-quick opportunities match the
education-while-you-wait, and the art, reduced to a smudge with a thumb,
and the ballads of a country–the voice of the heart of the people,
superseded by ragtime.”

But Paula would not be appeased.

“If women are constitutionally idiots and cannot be taught,” she cried,
“they ought not to be responsible for folly. That is a charter wide as
the winds.”

“Not at all–not at all,” said her husband dogmatically. But how he
would have reconciled the variant dicta of incapacity and accountability
must remain a matter of conjecture, for there came suddenly on the air
the iterative sound of the swift beat of hoofs and, through the open
door in another moment, was visible a double phaëton drawn by a glossy,
spirited blood bay, brought with difficulty to a pause and lifting
alternately his small forefeet with the ardor of motion, even when the
pressure on the bit in his mouth constrained his eager activity and
brought him to a halt.

“I have won out,” said Ducie genially. Since it had awkwardly fallen to
his lot to offer civilities to these people he did it with a very
pretty grace. “I shall be glad to see you and your family to the
station, Mr. Floyd-Rosney.”

Floyd-Rosney’s eyes were on the space beyond the portico.

“That’s a good horse you have,” he remarked seriously.

“Yes–before I bought him he was on the turf,–winner in several

“You don’t often see such an animal in private use,” said Floyd-Rosney,
unbending a trifle. He, too, loved a good horse for its own sake.

“True, but I am located at a considerable distance from the plantations
I lease, and going to and fro he is of special use to me. I can’t stand
a slow way of getting through the world, and the roads won’t admit of an

The two men were quite unconstrained for the moment in the natural
interest of a subject foreign to their difficult mutual relations.
Randal Ducie’s head was thrown up, his eyes glowed; he was looking at
the horse with a sort of glad admiration–an expression which Paula well
remembered. Floyd-Rosney’s eyes narrowed as they scanned successively
the points of the fine animal, his own face calm, patronizing,
approving. Neither of them, for the moment, was thinking of her. She had
followed them out upon the wide stone portico and stood in the sun, her
head tilted a trifle that her broad hat of taupe velvet might shade her
eyes. She brought herself potently into the foreground, seizing the fact
that Randal was unincumbered with baggage of any sort.

“Where is the treasure trove?” she cried. “Surely you are not going to
leave it in the ruins of this old mansion!”

Her husband flashed at her a glance of reproof which would once have
silenced her, abashed to the ground. Now she repeated her words,
wondering to feel so composed, so possessed of all her faculties.
Without a conscious effort of observation the details of the scene were
registered in her mind unbefogged by her wonted bewilderment in her
husband’s disapproval. She even noticed the groom who had driven the
vehicle back from the livery stable–no colored servant, but a
carrot-headed youth, with jockey boots, riding breeches, a long freckled
face, and small red-lidded eyes, very close together, gazing at Ducie
with a keen intentness as she asked the question. The fame of the
discovery must have been bruited abroad already, and she vaguely
wondered at this, for, as yet, no one on land knew the facts, except the
alienist and his party, safely housed at the sanatorium.

“The chest of valuables found here last night?” replied Ducie. “Why, I
haven’t it. My brother took it on the boat in his suitcase, and, before
nightfall, it will be in one of the banks in Vicksburg.”

Floyd-Rosney, thrown out of all his reckonings by the unaccountable
behavior of his wife, spoke at random, more to obviate its effects than
with any valid intendment.

“I saw the box opened,” he said; “only family jewels and a lot of gold
coin and papers, but I should think, from the pretensions of this place,
there must have been elaborate table services of silver, perhaps of gold
plate. Were any such appurtenances hidden, do you know, and recovered?”

Ducie shook his head. “I know nothing of such ware. It may be, or it may
not be here. The absence of the papers brought out the story of the
hiding of the family diamonds, else the box would have remained in the
capital of the pilaster, where my uncle left it, till the crack of

Paula never understood the impulse that possessed her. Boldly, in the
presence of her husband, she took from her dainty mesh bag a small key
set with rubies and one large diamond.

“Your brother carelessly left one of the Ducie jewels on the table and I
picked it up. I am so glad I remembered to restore it to you. It should
have been in your possession long ago.”

Floyd-Rosney was watching her like a hawk, and she began to quail before
his eyes. Oh, why had she not remembered that he was a connoisseur in
bijouterie and bric-à-brac of many sorts and would detect instantly, at
a glance, the modern fashion and comparatively slight value of the
trinket. More than all, why had she not reckoned on the fact that Randal
Ducie was no actor. Who could fail to interpret the surprised
recognition in his eyes, his gentle upbraiding look before the
associations thus ruthlessly summoned? It was as if some magic had
materialized all the tender poignancy of first love, all his winged
hopes, all the heartbreak of a cruel disappointment crystallized in this
scintillating bauble in his hand. He glanced from it to her, then back
at the flashing stones, red as his heart’s blood. He looked so wounded,
so passive, as if content to succumb to a blow which he was too
generous, too magnanimous to return in kind.

And he said never a word.

She felt that her face was flaring scarlet; the hot tears were smitten
into her eyes. She could not speak, and, for a long moment neither of
the two men moved, although the horse, restive and eager to be off,
plunged now and again, almost lifting from his feet the groom at his
head, still swinging at the bit, but staring, as if resolved into eyes,
at the group on the piazza.

“It is the key to something of value”–she found her voice suddenly–“or
it would never have been so charmingly decorated. I hope it will unlock
all the doors shut against you,” she concluded with a little bow.

“Thank you,” he said formally. And he said no more.

“And now shall we go?” asked Floyd-Rosney curtly.

There being only four places, the gentlemen occupying the front seats,
Mrs. Floyd-Rosney, the nurse and the baby the others, there was no room
for the groom, and Ducie, gathering up the reins preparatory to driving,
directed him to return to the livery stable on one of the cotton wagons
which would be starting in an hour or so. The ill-looking fellow touched
his cap, loosed the bit and the horse sprang away with an action so
fine, so well sustained, that Floyd-Rosney’s brow cleared. The pleasure
of the moment was something.

“What will you take for him?” he asked, quite human for the nonce.

“Not for sale. Couldn’t spare him,” Ducie responded, the reins wound
about his forearms, all his strength requisite to hold the abounding
vitality and eagerness of the animal to the trot, the hoofs falling
with the precision of machinery, mile after mile.

Only once did the pace falter. Suddenly the animal plunged. A man dashed
out from the Cherokee rose hedge that bordered the high-way and clutched
the bit. With the momentum of his pace the horse swung him off his feet,
and frightened and swerving from the road, reared high. As the forefeet
crashed to the ground once more with a sharp impact the man was thrown
sprawling to the roadside, and the horse was a mile away before the
occupants of the vehicle knew exactly what had happened.

“Oh,–oh—-” cried Paula, “was the man hurt? What did he want?”

“No good,” said her husband grimly.

“Oh, oughtn’t we go back and see what we have done?” She could scarcely
speak with the wind of their transit blowing the words down her throat.
“Oh, I know Mr. Floyd-Rosney won’t, but, Randal, don’t you think we

“Hardly,” said Randal.

Floyd-Rosney’s head slowly turned, and his slumberous eyes, with a bated
fury smoldering in their depths, looked their sneering triumph at his

“That crack,–was it—-?” he asked of Randal.

“A pistol ball, I think. I saw–I thought I saw a puff of smoke from the
Cherokee hedge. My head feels hot yet. For simple curiosity look at my

Floyd-Rosney removed the hat from the head of the man by him. He turned
it in his hand and his eyes glittered. Then he held it out for Ducie’s

There was a small orifice on one side, and a corresponding rift,
higher, on the other. Evidently, the ball had passed through.

“Thirty caliber, I should judge,” Floyd-Rosney ventured.

“Looks so?” Randal assented.

“But why–_why_—-” exclaimed Paula, “should Randal be shot at–he
might have been killed–oh, any of us might have been killed!”

“The story of the treasure trove–out already, I suppose,” suggested

“And it is believed that I have it now in my possession, carrying it to
a place of safety,” said Ducie.

“Just as well for you to get to town as speedily as possible,” remarked

To have escaped an attempt at highway robbery is not an agreeable
sensation, however futile and ill advised the enterprise. This
possibility had not occurred to Floyd-Rosney, yet he perceived its
logic. It was obvious that the rich find of gold and jewels must be
removed from Duciehurst, and by whom more probably than their owner?
Doubtless, the miscreants had expected Ducie to be accompanied only by
the groom, perhaps a party to the conspiracy, and albeit this
supposition had gone awry, there was only one unarmed man beside himself
to contend against a possible second attack. Floyd-Rosney would be glad
to be rid of Ducie on every account. No such awkward association had
ever befallen him, significant at every turn. But, when actual physical
danger to himself and his family was involved in sitting beside him, he
felt all other objections frivolous indeed, and it was in the nature of
a rescue when the fast horse drew up beside the platform of the little
station near Glenrose, where the train was already standing.

The _congé_ was of the briefest, although Randal omitted no observance
which a courteous voluntary host might have affected. He left the horse
in charge of an idler about the station, assisted Mrs. Floyd-Rosney into
the coach, where, to her husband’s satisfaction, the stateroom was
vacant and they might thus be spared the presence of the vulgar horde of
travelers. He shook hands with both husband and wife, only leaving the
train as it glided off. Paula, looking from her window, had her last
glimpse of him, standing on the platform, courteously lifting his hat in
farewell. She had a wild, unreasoning protest against the parting, her
eyes looked a mute appeal, and she felt as if delivered to her fate.

The ex-jockey, left standing alone on the drive in front of the old
mansion, had watched, with glowing eyes, the departure of the phaëton
from Duciehurst.

“Ai-yi, Ran Ducie,” he jeered, “ridin’ for a fall you are, if you did
but know it!”

The vehicle was out of sight in a moment. He thrust his cap on the back
of his head, sunk his hands deep in his pockets and strode up the flight
of steps to the broad stone-floored portico. He stood for a moment,
watching the great shining, rippling expanse of the silent river, vacant
save for a small steamer of the government fleet, whisking along in
haste on the opposite side, with a heavy coil of smoke and a fluttering
flag. Then he strolled into the house, looking about keenly and
furtively as he went. The place was obviously familiar to him, doubtless
from many secret explorations, and, without hesitation, he took his way
up two flights of stairs, threading the vacant apartments, coming, at
last, to the third story which gave access to the interior of the
capital of the pilaster where the treasure had been found.

He stood, his hands still in his pockets, gazing into the cavity, the
washboard left where it had been prized away from the wall. He stooped
down presently and sought to explore the interior of the pillar,
pulling out first the rotten fragments of the ancient knapsack. He gazed
at these remnants with great scorn of their obsolete fashioning, then
set to work to ransacking them, deftly manipulating the flaps lest
something hidden there should escape his scrutiny. The search resulted
in naught, save a handful of crumbs of desiccated leather. He even
paused to examine the quality of the fabric and the stitching of the

“Sewed by hand, by jinks!” he muttered. But the article had evidently
been used merely as protection, or concealment, perhaps, for the box it
had contained. He made a long-armed lunge into the depths of the cavity
in hopes of further booty, realizing that he was the first intruder into
the place after the departure of the refugees from the _Cherokee Rose_,
and might make prize of whatever they had possibly overlooked. His heart
quickened its beats as his fingers touched straw, but when he dragged
forth a bundle holding persistently together he discovered that it was
but one of the well-woven, enormous nests of the tiny sparrow, creeping
in through a crevice without, and, like some human builders, having a
disproportionate idea of suitable housing for its station. He spat a
flood of tobacco juice upon the cunning work of the vanished architects,
and, with a curse as grotesque as profane, made a circuit of the
interior of the cavity in the pillar with his bare palms. Nothing–quite
empty. The treasure had lain here for forty years, the fact bruited
throughout the traditions of the country. Hundreds, of whom he was one,
had made vain search–“and Randal Ducie had found it first go! Some
people have _all_ the luck!” He had ventured to the window of the great
dining-room last night, after his confederates had fled, and had gazed
with gloating eyes on the pile of gold and jewels on the table before
Adrian Ducie, whom he mistook for the man familiar to the neighborhood.
The sight had maddened him. He had urgently sought to stimulate his
confederates to an attack on the place while the money lay undefended,
openly on the table. He thought that in the tumult of surprise a rich
capture might be effected.

“To snatch jes’ a handful would have done me a heap o’ good,” he

But no! Binnhart had declared they were too far outnumbered, that the
enterprise was impracticable. And Binnhart had seemed slow and dazed,
and himself the victim of surprise. Colty’s loose lips curled with
bitter scorn as he recalled how owlishly wise Binnhart had looked when
he had declared that he would try first the inside and then the outside
of this pilaster from the ground floor, instead of at once essaying the
capital,–but he did not know what a “capital” was,–nor, indeed, did
the jovial “Colty” until he heard the word from Randal Ducie a few
minutes ago. In fact, Binnhart did not know the difference between a
“pillar” and a “pilaster,” except as the builder in Caxton had expounded
the terms. Indeed, Binnhart, assuming to be a leader of men, should be
better informed. Leader! He would lead them all to the penitentiary if
they followed him much farther. It was an ill-omened association of
ideas. Colty Connover began to wonder if any of the refugees from the
_Cherokee Rose_ had acquired any knowledge of the search for the
treasure prosecuted from without. He remembered how suddenly the sound
of a woman’s screams had frightened the marauders from their occupation
in what they had deemed the deepest solitude. If some woman had been
sitting at this window she could easily have heard their unsuspecting
talk. He looked down speculatively. Through the broken roof of the
portico he could discern some of their abandoned tools still beside the
base of the column. “Pilaster,” he sneered. The word had for him the
tang of an opprobrious epithet. She could have heard everything. Had
she, indeed, heard aught? Could she remember the names? She could
doubtless recall “Colty.” That was within the scope of the meanest
intelligence. He began to quail with the realization of disastrous
possibilities. What woman was it, he wondered. The one in the phaëton?
He hoped Binnhart might shoot her in the hold-up planned on the road. A
pistol ball would tie her tongue if–if she had not already told all she
knew! Yet what would his name signify? Only that he was one of the
seekers who from time immemorial had ransacked the house for its
treasure. Robbery, perhaps, in a way, yet what was so definitely
abandoned to the will of the marauder could scarcely be esteemed in the
pale of ownership. If only the gang had not left their insane victim
bound and gagged, as evidence of their brutality. “Colonel Kenwynton
will never rest till he ferrets out who done that job.” He winced and
lifted one foot high, and let it down with a stamp. “I’d hate for the
old Colonel to git on my track, sure,” he muttered.

He reflected that this was what had queered the whole run, through
Binnhart’s self-sufficiency, though that fellow, Treherne, did tell, in
his sleep, where the money was hid. If they had known–if they had only
known–what constituted the capital of a pillar. It had been
mismanaged–mismanaged from the beginning, and once more he declared
that it was Captain Hugh Treherne who had queered the whole run.

He walked slowly down the stairs into the broad hall, and then,
threading the vacant apartments with the definite intention of
familiarity, he came into the room where poor Hugh Treherne had lain for
hours bound and gagged, not knowing whether his sufferings were actual
or the distraught illusions of his mental malady.

Connover stood looking at the many footprints in the dust on the floor,
clustered about the clear space where the man had lain. In the corners
of the apartment the dust was thick and gray and evidently had not been
disturbed in years. Here it was that the refugees of the _Cherokee Rose_
had found Captain Treherne. But _he_ could not have informed his
rescuers where the swag was hidden. He himself did not know,–he could
not say when he was awake. By reason of his distorted mental processes
only in dreams did his memory rouse itself; only his somnolent words
could reveal the story of the hiding of the treasure in the capital of
the pilaster. As, in his ignorant fashion, Connover sought to realize
the situation he groped for the clew of its discovery. How had they
chanced to find it? Could the woman have overheard the talk of the gang
from the window of the attic, and, knowing the signification of the
terms “pilaster” and “capital,” could she have fallen like a hawk upon
her prey? Oh, Binnhart was distanced by the whole field,–a fool and a
fake. And if he should botch this hold-up that he had planned for Randal
Ducie—- Suddenly a nervous thrill agitated Connover. He was conscious
that an eye was upon him, a fixed, furtive scrutiny. He gazed wildly
about the desolate, empty room. Almost he could see a vague figure at
the door withdrawing abruptly as he glanced toward it, but when he ran
into the hall there was naught for sixty feet along which any spy upon
him must have passed. Still, as he returned, reassured, he felt again
that covert gaze. Nothing was visible at the window on one side of the
apartment. On the other side the room was lighted by a glass door
opening on a veranda, in which the panes had recently been shattered,
and broken glass lay about. When he pulled it ajar loose bits fell from
the frame and crashed upon the floor, setting astir keen shrill echoes
through the empty desolation that put every quivering nerve to the
torture. Outside he heard a vague, silly laugh even before he perceived
Mrs. Berridge standing close against the wall in her effort to escape
observation, her head, with its towsled copper hair, all bare, but an
apron pinned shawl-wise around her shoulders in lieu of a wrap.

“I’m cotched,” she exclaimed deprecatingly. “I thought I’d peek in and
find out what’s going on, though I reckon I ain’t wanted.”

“Not much you ain’t,” he declared, recovering his composure with
difficulty. “How’d you come?”

“In the dug-out,” she explained. “I tied Possum in his bunk, and locked
him up, and took out. He’s safe enough.”

“Oh, that’s all right. He’ll spend most of his days locked up, ennyhow,”
Colty roughly joked.

“He won’t nuther.” She struck at him with an affectation of retaliation.
But her face was not jocose, and a tallowy pallor accented the freckles.

“Colty,” she lowered her voice mysteriously, “I have heard shootin’.”

“Naw!” he cried remonstrantly, as if the reluctance to entertain the
fact could annul it.

“Whenst on the ruver I heard shootin’,” she declared again.

“Oh, shucks, gal,” he exclaimed. “You couldn’t hear it so fur off.”

“On the water!” she cried, lifting her eyebrows. “The water fetches the

“He _said_ he wouldn’t shoot,” cried Colty Connover, his lip pendulously
drooping. “He said on no account.”

“You b’lieve his gab? Well, you _are_ a softy!” she flung at him. Then,
with one end of the apron string in her mouth, she ejaculated
murmurously: “I heard shootin’,” looking doubtfully and vaguely over her

“Then he’ll swing for it ef he’s killed Ran Ducie. There ain’t a more
pop’lar man in the county, nor a better judge of horseflesh.”

“I ain’t carin’ fur Binnhart arter the way he made me trick that crazy
loon out’n his secrets an’ then declared he’d gimme nuthin’ thout he
found the truck.”

“Pulled the horse an’ lost yer pay, too,” grinned Colty.

“But all the rest will be tarred with the same stick—-”

“Not me nor you,” interrupted Colty Connover,–“’cause he said he
wouldn’t shoot. He swore he wouldn’t.”

Suddenly she pushed back her tousled red hair as she stood near the
glass door, and looked up with a startled apprehension on her face.

“Listen, Colty, listen—-! What is that sound–what is that sound?”

Then a strange thing happened. The sun, low in its circuit, was already
westering on the October day. Even now its radiance fell through the
great windows and open doors all aslant, and lay in deep orange tints
athwart the bare, dusty floors. Many a skein-like effulgence was
suspended from the panes, and on these fine and fiery lines illuminated
motes were scattered like the notation of music on an immaterial cleff.
There was no wind, no rustle of the magnolia trees glimpsed without. The
river was silent as always. The stillness was intense, indescribable,
and, suddenly, with a long drawn sigh, a creaking dissonance, the old
house gave forth one loud moan, voicing its sorrows, its humiliation,
its inanimate woe.

The two looked at each other with aghast, white faces. Then, with a
common impulse, they fled from–they knew not what. The woman sprang out
of the shattered glass door and sped through the shrubbery, across the
ruined levee to her dug-out, swinging at the old landing. The groom
dashed down the hall, the echoes of his steps hard on his heels like
swift pursuers, out into the road, and thence, scarcely relaxing his
pace, ran along the rugged ground till he was in the turn-row, where his
speed was aided by the smooth hard-beaten earth. The cotton was breast
high, and glittering in the afternoon sun–a famous crop. He could
scarcely see the pickers, although he noted here and there their big
cylindrical baskets, filled as the bags, suspended from their necks,
overflowed from time to time. A great wagon was drawing up at one side
where the road struck the turn-row, and this notified him that the
weigher, with his steelyards, had arrived to pay off the laborers
according to the weight of the contents of their baskets, and to convey
the product to Ran Ducie’s gin. He welcomed the sight of another white
man, for he desired more credible testimony, in case it should be
needed, than the haphazard observation of the darkey cotton pickers that
he was miles distant from the scene of Binnhart’s hold-up at the time of
the shooting. Hence he attached himself to the society of the weigher,
and made himself unpleasantly conspicuous, and was officious and
obstructive during the weighing process, as much from latent intention
as maladroit folly. When, at last, the wagons were heaped and he and the
weigher took their seats behind two of the big mules, the pickers,
trailing on foot contentedly in the rear, his companion observed: “I’m
goin’ to tell Mr. Ducie that the nex’ time he treats you to a ride he
may pervide a coach and four, for durned if I’ll have you monkeying in
the cotton fields along of me another time.” Colty Connover had made the
desired impression and on this score he was content. Nevertheless, again
and again during the afternoon, throughout the process of the weighing,
and on the road to the town, and in the midst of his duties at the
livery stable there recurred to him a stupefied, stunned realization of
some uncomprehended crisis, and again and again he asked himself
helplessly: “What was that strange sound in the old house? What was it?”

And on the river bank, in the little amphibious cabin upon its grotesque
high-water stilts, through all the afternoon and deep into the night,
the woman with a vague thrill of terror futilely wondered, “What was
that strange, strange sound in the old house? What was it?”

Certainly no institution of its type ever had such cheerful inmates as
the Glenrose Sanatorium could boast so long as Colonel Kenwynton and the
blind Major sojourned within its gates, the guests of the alienist and
Captain Hugh Treherne. The patient experienced no recurrence of his
malady during the visit. Indeed, the beneficial influence, with the
incident change of thought, conversation, and occupation, was so obvious
that the physician acceded to Colonel Kenwynton’s earnest urgency to
allow the Captain to go home with him and spend a few weeks at his
plantation, in a neighboring county. They made a solemn compact for the
conservation of his safety and the promotion of his mental health.

“Captain,” said the Colonel the first evening that they spent together
over the wood fire in the old plantation house, “I don’t know what is
the particular devil that you say possesses you at times, and I don’t
want to know. He is an indignity to you and an affront to me. Never
mention the nature of the obsession to me for I won’t hear it. Never let
me have so much as a glimpse of his horn or his hoof. But if you,
unhappily, ever feel again the clutch of his claw fastening on you, just
report to me, and we’ll both strike out in a dog-trot for that insane
asylum, and let the doctor exorcise him a bit. And I swear to you before
God on our sacred bonds as comrades in the Lost Cause I will stay there
with you till you are ready to come home with me. Shake hands on it,
dear old fellow–shake hands on it.”

Perhaps because the topic was interdicted in conversation it was the
less intrusive in thought. Hugh Treherne maintained an observance of the
Colonel’s mandate as strict and as soldierly as if it had been read in
general orders at the head of the regiment. He found an interest in the
Colonel’s affairs in the ramshackle old place, which was but a meager
remnant of his former princely domain. Colonel Kenwynton had brought
down from the larger methods of the old times a constitutional disregard
of minutæ. Hence men, “indifferent honest,” otherwise would overreach
him in negotiation. Servants filched ruthlessly his minor possessions.
His pastures, fields, barns, orchards, were plundered with scarcely a
realization of the significance of robbery, the facile phrase, “The old
Cunnel won’t care,” or “The old Cunnel won’t ever know the difference,”
sufficient to numb any faint prick of conscience.

And thus it was that his home had fallen to decay; his barns and fences
rotted; his gin was broken and patched and deteriorated in common with
all his farm machinery; his hedges of Cherokee rose, widened, unpruned
and untended, becoming veritable land grabbers, rather than boundaries,
and yearly more and more of his acres must needs be rented for lack of
funds to pay a force of laborers. Colonel Kenwynton lived on in his
mortgaged home and “scuffled up the money,” as he phrased the process,
to meet the interest year by year, and kept but sorry cheer by a bleak
and lonely fireside. Nevertheless, he twirled up the ends of his white
mustachios jauntily and faced the world with a bold front.

From his own account it seemed wonderful that he had any income at all,
and as if much business tact must be requisite to hold his mortgages
together in such shape that they should assume all the enlightened
functions of a fortune. The age of some of these obligations was a
source of special pride with him, although sometimes with an air of
important dismay he would compute the amount of interest he had paid in
the course of years on their several renewals aggregating more than the
property would sell for in the present collapsed condition of such real
estate values. When he came to speak of the interest he had promised to
pay, he would pause with an imperative shake of the head, as if to abash
the futurity which was fast bringing about the maturity of these notes.

“Why, Colonel, this is not good business,–you have practically bought
your own property twice over,” Treherne attempted to argue with him one
day when his mood waxed confidential. “You should have given up the
fight long ago and let them foreclose.”

“Foreclose on my home place, sir,–the remnant of my father’s
plantation?” he replied in amaze. “Why, what would the snail do without
the shell he was born with? I shall need a narrower one before that day
comes, I humbly trust in Providence.”

Colonel Kenwynton could scarcely imagine existence without a mortgage. A
deed of trust seemed as natural and essential an incident of a holding
in fee simple as the title papers.

Treherne discovered as time went on opportunities for betterment in the
Colonel’s affairs, small it is true, pitiful in comparison with the
ideals of the old gentleman, who lifted his brows in compassionate
surprise when the subject was broached, and, but that he could not
contravene the common sense of the proposition, he might have thought it
an insane impulse, manifesting itself in schemes of domestic economy on
a minute scale.

“Colonel, this place ought to make its own meat. There is plenty of corn
in that rearward barn. I put a padlock on its door to-day. Those young
shoats will be as fine a lot of meat as ever stepped by hog-killing
time. I had them turned into the oak woods to-day,–to give them a
chance at the mast,–makes the meat streaked lean and fat, you know.”

“You surprise me,” said the Colonel, looking blankly over his
spectacles. “I didn’t know there was any corn left. And a few hogs
didn’t seem worth wasting time about. I don’t go into such matters, dear
boy,–cotton is my strong suit. Cotton is the only play.”

“You spent your time in the war mostly on the firing line, Colonel.
Somebody ought to be mighty thankful you were not in the quartermaster’s
office. That ham we cut to-day came from the store, and the cook tells
me so does every pound of lard that goes into your frying pan, and all
the bacon you furnish to your force of hands. And yet you have here an
ample lot of bacon on the hoof and abundance of good feed to fatten it.”

The Colonel appraised the logic and sat humiliated and silent.

“I had the shoats all marked and sent the mark to the county court to be
registered. And now you’ll eat your own meat after January or go
without,” said Treherne sternly, in command of the situation.

By some accident, searching in the Colonel’s desk for an envelope or
some such matter, Treherne chanced to discover a receipt for a bill
which the old gentleman had carelessly paid twice.

“I took his word, of course,” said the Colonel in vicarious abasement,
“as the word of a gentleman and an old soldier.”

“An old soldier on the back track generally. I remember him well,” said
Treherne uncompromisingly. “He shall refund as sure as my name is

And he did refund, protesting that the matter was an accident, an
oversight, which excuses the Colonel accepted in good faith and brought
back to the skeptical Hugh Treherne.

“So queer those mistakes never happen to your advantage, Colonel,” he
snarled, and although his contention was obviously logical, the Colonel
listened dubiously.

In truth, Colonel Kenwynton was of a different animus, of a dead day, of
a species as extinct as the Plesiosaurus. He could not even adapt
himself to the conditions of his survival. He could neither hear nor
speak through the telephone, although all his faculties were unimpaired.
He held himself immune from diseases of modern diagnosis; for him there
was no microbe, no appendicitis, no neurasthenia. His credulity revolted
against the practicability of wireless telegraphy and aviation. He clove
to his old books, and, except for the newspapers, he read nothing that
had been printed within the last fifty years. His ideas of amusement
were those of previous generations. He was a skilled sportsman, a dead
shot, indeed; his play at billiards held the record at his club; he was
versed in many games of chance and had the nerve to back his hand or his
opinion to the limit of his power.

He was a shrewd judge of horseflesh, and, as he often remarked since he
could no longer own and race a string, he took pleasure in seeing the
fine animals of other men achieve credit on the turf. Despite his early
gambling and racing proclivities he had always been esteemed a man of
immaculate honor and held a high social position. This ascendancy was
supplemented by certain associations of special piety incongruously
enough. As long as his wife had lived he accompanied her to church every
Sunday morning; he drew the line, it is true, at the evening service. He
carried a large prayerbook, and his notable personality rendered his
presence marked. He read the responses with a devotional air and a
solemn voice and listened to the sermon with an appearance of unflagging
interest and absorption; as he seemed to take it for granted that he
could go to heaven on the footing of an honorary member, his persuasion
was in a manner accepted, and it might have been a source of surprise to
his friends to realize that, after all, he was not a professedly
religious man.

For some weeks the two incongruous companions lived on in great peace
and amity in the seclusion of the old plantation house, a rambling frame
structure far too large for the shrunken number of its inmates. The
broad verandas surrounding it on three sides scarcely knew a footfall;
the upper story was unoccupied save for the Colonel’s bedroom, for
Treherne had selected a chamber among the vacant apartments on the
ground floor that, through a glass door opening on the veranda,
permitted his egress betimes to take up his self-arrogated supervisory
duties on the place hours before his host, always a late riser, was

One night,–a memorable night,–a dreadful thing happened. The Colonel
lay asleep in his big mahogany four-poster; the placidity of venerable
age on his face was scarcely less appealing than the innocence of
childhood; his snowy hair on the pillow gave back a silvery gleam to the
red suffusions from the hearth. If he dreamed, it was of some gentle
phase of yore, for his breathing was soft and regular, his consciousness
far away adown the misty realms of the past, irrevocable save in these
soft and sleeping illusions. The old house was still and silent. At long
intervals an errant gust stole around a corner and tried a window. Then
it skulked away and, for a time, a mute peace reigned.

Suddenly a sound,–not of the elements, not from without. A sound that
in the deep peace of dreams smote no fiber of consciousness. It came
again and again. It was the sound of a step ascending the stair. A
slender shaft of light preceded it–the dim radiance showed first in a
line under the door. Then the door slowly swung ajar, and Hugh Treherne
entered, his candle in his hand–not the officer that the old Colonel
had known and trusted in the years that tried men’s souls, who never
broke faith or failed in a duty; not the piteous wreck whom he had met
on the tow-head where the _Cherokee Rose_ lay aground, who wept on his
neck and besought his aid; not the earnest altruist, who planned and
contrived his escape from durance, through suffering and dread, to
retrieve the injustice done to an old comrade’s heirs, and with his
first recall of memory to reveal hidden treasure to enrich other men.
This was Hugh Treherne, of the obsession, a man who believed himself
possessed of the devil.

Colonel Kenwynton, gazing wincingly up with eyes heavy with sleep, and
dazed by the glare of the candle held close to his face, hardly
recognized the lineaments bent above him–wild, distorted, with a
sinister smile, a queer furtive doubt, as if some wicked maniacal
impulse debated with the vanishing instinct of reason in his brain.

The Colonel feared no man. The instinct of fear, if ever it had existed
in him, was annulled, atrophied. But in this lonely house, in the
presence of this strange and inexplicable possession, in all that this
change, so curiously wrought, so radical, so sinister, intimated, his
blood ran cold.

“He has come, Colonel,” hissed the strange man, for the Colonel could
hardly make shift to recognize him, “the Devil has come!”

There was an aghast pause. Then Colonel Kenwynton understood the
significance of the catastrophe. He plunged up in the bed, throwing off
the cover, and gazed wildly around the room.

“The Devil has come?–Then skirmish to the front, Hugh! Hold him in
check, while I get on my clothes, and I’ll flank him. By George, I’ve
led a forlorn hope in my time, and I’m not to be intimidated by any
little medical fiend like this!”

It was not long, however, that they sojourned at the sanatorium, but the
doctor, who had heard of the suddenness of the seizure, warned Colonel
Kenwynton that he had always best have help at hand in case of a
relapse as sudden.

“You might be in danger of violence from him,” the doctor explained,
seeing that Colonel Kenwynton stared in blank amaze.

“In danger of violence, sir, _from my own officer_,” he exclaimed,
flouting the obvious absurdity, as if the Confederate army were in
complete organization, the loyal submission to a superior in rank at
once the dearest behest and the instinct of second nature with the

And, indeed, Hugh Treherne justified the trust. He wrought Colonel
Kenwynton nothing but good. His mental health was so far restored to its
normal strength that when they had returned together to the old home he
took the lead in all those practical little affairs of life which bored
the Colonel, and which he at once misunderstood and despised. He shrank
from society, in which, indeed, he was more feared than welcomed, and
the Colonel, in compassion for his infirmity and loneliness, had given
up most of his cronies. The Colonel suffered from this deprivation more
than Treherne, who took an intense and almost pathetic interest in
trifling improvements; the fences were mended; the farm buildings were
repaired; various small peculations ceased, for the servants and the
hands whose interests brought them about the place were afraid of the
“crazy man,” and were alert and capable in obeying his orders,–the
anger that flashed in his wild dark eyes was not reassuring. He pottered
in placid content about these industrial pursuits till chance led to a
greater utility.

He displayed unexpected judgment in advice which saved the Colonel from
taking a financial step that would, indeed, have bereft the simple snail
of his rickety old shell in his defenseless years, and certain
financiers of a dubious sort, baffled in the expectation of gain at the
old man’s loss, looked askance at Hugh Treherne and his influence with
his former commander which promised in time to remove him altogether
from their clutches. They made great talk of having considered his
interest rather than their own, and in set phrase withdrew the sun of
their favor to shine on his shattered affairs no more. But his affairs
were on the mend. Through Treherne’s urgency he devoted the returns from
the bulk of his cotton crop, unusually large this year, to the lifting
of a mortgage on a pretty tract of land nearer the county town than his
plantation, almost in the suburbs, in truth, and which was thus left
unencumbered. In this matter he was difficult of persuasion, and yielded
only at last to be rid of importunacy.

“Lord, Hugh, how lonesome I do feel without that money,” he said
drearily, lighting his candle one night.

“But you have got the land free of all encumbrance, Colonel,–dead to
rights,–within two miles of the town, right out there in the night.”

“It is a cold night and dark,” said the Colonel, toying with the
snuffers. “It seems cruel to leave it there, bare and bleak, with no
sort of a little old mortgage to cover it.”

But then he laughed and took himself upstairs to his rest.

A similar application of funds betided his later shipments of bales, the
receipts from which were formerly wont to vanish in driblets he hardly
knew how.

“Hugh, this way of paying debts that I thought would last through my
time and be discharged by my executors almost takes my breath away,” he
said half jocosely, half upbraiding. “You scarcely leave me a dollar for
myself,–to buy me a little ‘baccy.’” And then they both laughed.

In the forty years of Hugh Treherne’s incarceration such independent
means as he had possessed had barely sufficed for his maintenance at the
sanatorium, constantly dwindling until now becoming inadequate for that
purpose. His relatives greatly disapproved of the course that events had
taken and were also solicitous for his safety while at large and the
possibility of injury to others at his hands. One of them, a man of
ample fortune, by way of coercing acquiescence in their views, notified
Colonel Kenwynton that they would not be responsible for any expenses
which Captain Treherne might incur during his absence from the asylum,
where he had been placed with the sanction of his kindred, and where the
writer of this communication was prepared to defray all the costs of his
sojourn and treatment. Colonel Kenwynton, in a letter as formal and
courteous as a cartel and as smoothly fierce, expressed his ignorance
that any moneys had been asked of Captain Treherne’s relatives, and
begged to know when and by whom such requests had been made. Then a
significant silence settled on the subject.

The old Colonel felt that he had routed the enemy, but Hugh Treherne, to
whom he detailed the circumstances, for he treated his friend in every
respect as a sane man and kept nothing from him, did not share his
host’s elation. A deep gloom descended upon his spirits and a furtive
apprehension looked out of his eyes. He cautiously scanned the personnel
of every approach to the house before he ventured to appear and greet
the newcomers, and in his small interests about the place he kept within
close reach of refuge. The negroes began to notice that he discontinued
his supervisory errands to the fields where the picking of cotton was
still in progress and where he had shown himself exceedingly suspicious
of the accounts of the weigher and the bulk of the cotton delivered as
compared with the distribution of the money furnished by Colonel
Kenwynton for paying the cotton pickers. “The ole Cunnel’s crap will
sho’ly turn out fur all hit is worf’ dis time,” the grinning darkeys
were in the habit of commenting.

The old gentleman was constitutionally and by training incapable of
detecting this deviation from the established routine, but affection
whetted his wits and he observed the change in Hugh Treherne’s
appearance when it began to be so marked as scarcely to be imputed to
fluctuations in his malady.

“Why are you looking so down-in-the-mouth, Hugh?” he demanded one
morning after breakfast as he sprawled comfortably with his pipe before
the crackling fire, agreeable in the chill of the early December day
despite the bland golden sunshine of the southern winter. Treherne cast
at him a glance helplessly terrified, like a child in the face of
danger, and said not a word. “You are losing your relish for country
life, I am afraid,” the Colonel went on. “Why, you haven’t put your foot
in stirrup for a week. Why don’t you take your horse out for a canter?”

The hearty genial tones opened the floodgates of confidence. It was
impossible for Treherne to resist the look of affectionate solicitude,
of kindly sympathy in those transparently candid eyes.


“Zounds, sir. Afraid of what?”

“Capture,” the hunted creature replied succinctly.

“Why, look here, man,” the Colonel rallied him, “I really think you have
been captured before this time. How long were you in prison at Camp

“But, Colonel, this is different. I think my friends–my unfriends,–are
bent on restoring me to seclusion.”

“Doctor Vailer won’t receive you,–professional pride much lacerated by
the criticism of his course expressed by your precious relative, Tom
Treherne,–excuse me if I pause here to particularly curse him–and you
know when you touch a really learned technician of any sort on his
professional pride, you have got hold of his keenest susceptibility,
where he feels most acutely and most high-mindedly, the very nerves of
his soul, so to speak, his spiritual essence. Doctor Vailer won’t have

“But there are other alienists, other asylums in Mississippi.”

“And under your favor there is _me_ in Mississippi,–and there is the
law of the land. I tell you, Hugh, that Tom Treherne might as well try
to bottle up the Mississippi River as to incarcerate you again without
Doctor Vailer’s sanction, of course, so long as I am out of the

Hugh Treherne stirred uneasily and crossed and uncrossed his legs as he
sat opposite the Colonel in a big mahogany chair before the frowsy
hearth where the ashes of nearly all the fires since fall set in were
banked behind the big tarnished brass dogs–the Colonel was no dainty
housekeeper, and deserved the frequent declaration that “de Cunnel don’t
know de diffunce.”

“People generally, Colonel, will approve the course of my relations,”
Treherne argued. “It will seem the proper thing as long as I

“Well, you are all here, now, in one piece,” declared the old man,
wagging his head with vehement emphasis.

“It will seem very generous of Tom Treherne to offer, to desire to
maintain me at his own expense at a high-priced private sanatorium,
since I have no means of my own.”

He paused, a bitter look of repulsion on his face. All these
years–these long years, the men of his own age, the compeers of his
youth, had been at work restoring their shattered fortunes, after the
terrible cataclysm of war that had wrecked the financial interests as
well as the face of the southern country, achieving eminence and
distinction in their varied lines of effort, life signifying somewhat of
attainment even to those of meanest ability, while he was gone to waste,
destroyed by his own gallant exploit; the blow of the sabre, the jeering
accolade of Fate, when he had triumphantly led his troop to the capture
of a strong battery, had consigned him to forty years of idleness,
helplessness, imprisonment, in effect. “Be brave, loyal, and
fortunate,” quotha.

He was silently revolving these reflections so long that Colonel
Kenwynton, puffing his pipe with gusto, declared:

“I’ll make Tom Treherne’s liberality look like thirty cents before I am
done with him. He can’t choke you off and hide you out because he is
afraid you might be troublesome to _him_ in the future,–dispose of you
for good and all,–not while I am alive. Why, damme, man, you commanded
a troop in my regiment.”

“If he should once more lay hands on me I could never get away from him
and his precautions and anxieties, and considerations for the safety of
the public and open-handed generosity. And, Colonel, you might not know
where he had stowed me away next time.”

“Hoh,” snorted the Colonel, “I never lose sight of you longer than
between breakfast and dinner. I’d be on his track with every detective
in the State before dark. Why, Hugh, I’m a moneyed man. I’d take
advantage of your absence to mortgage that little tract of land out
yonder bare of all encumbrance, and I’d spend the last nickel of it
making publicity for Tom Treherne. _He_ isn’t going to spend any money
except for his own objects. Now, boots and saddles! Time for you to be
on the march!”

In two hours Treherne was back again, with a flush on his face and a
light in his eyes, bearing the mail, for which he had ridden to the
nearest town, and this contained matters of interest both for him and
the Colonel. It was, indeed, a rare occurrence when he received a
letter–in forty years he could count the missives on the fingers of
one hand. To-day the post brought him one addressed directly to him by
Adrian Ducie, although the counsel for the two brothers wrote instead to
Colonel Kenwynton. In common with all people of advancing years,
Treherne was continually impressed with the superiority of the methods
of the past in comparison with those of to-day. He noted the courtesy,
the consideration of the tone of the letter, and at once likened it to
the manner of the writer’s boy uncle, who had been his chum and comrade
in the ancient days. His heart warmed to the perception of tact which
had induced this one of the brothers to write who had been present at
the finding of the box and the valuable papers, that it was hoped would
return to the Ducie heirs the estate which had been so long wrested from
them. Adrian and Randal had both taken care on that occasion to express
their deep appreciation of the efforts of Archie Ducie’s friend to
restore to them their rights, although they had been the victims of his
disqualified memory. But now Adrian repeated their realization of the
extreme and friendly interest which had caused this object to so
persistently cling to the mind and intention of Captain Treherne, and
asked if he would object to giving testimony in a sort which the counsel
recommended, immediately after the filing of the bill for the recovery
of the property, a proceeding _de bene esse_, to be used in case of
death or a recurrence of a malady which would prevent the taking of his
deposition in the regular proceedings in the cause.

It was a difficult letter to write, a delicate proposition to make, and
it was done with a simple directness, a lack of circumlocution which
might imply that Adrian Ducie thought it a usual matter that gentlemen
could be seized with a recurrence of acute mania, obstructing the course
of business, and tending to impede justice. Treherne declared that it
was exactly the sort of letter that Archibald Ducie would have written,
and he was eager to comply with the request.

“Only,” he began, and paused abruptly.

“Only what?” asked the Colonel, looking up with grizzled eyebrows drawn.

“You don’t know how–how baffling it is to talk, to speak, when you are
aware that everybody is all the time disparaging every word as insanity.
Even you could scarcely hold your own under such circumstances.”

“I could,” declared the Colonel hardily. “I’d know that nine out of
every ten men are crazy anyhow, with no lucid intervals,–natural fools,
born fools–fools for the lack of sense,–only,” with a crafty leer,
“the rest of the fellows are so looney themselves that nobody has found
it out.”

Treherne laughed, and the Colonel went on with his prelection.

“Never stop to consider what people will think, Hugh. They will think
what they damn please. It is the root of most of the troubles that beset
this world,–trying to square our preferences and duty to what people
will think.”

Thus the testimony _de bene esse_ was taken, Captain Treherne’s story
from the beginning;–his part in the concealment of the treasure at
Duciehurst, assisting his friend and comrade Archibald Ducie; his
knowledge of the nature of the papers among the jewels; the early death
of his friend; his own wound and his consequent mental disability; his
incarceration for forty years in an insane asylum; his recent recovery
of memory, and his resolve to right this wrong which impelled him to
make his escape from Glenrose; his meeting with Colonel Kenwynton; the
strange attack he sustained from unknown miscreants after quitting the
sand-bar; the transit, bound and gagged, to Duciehurst, supplemented by
the circumstances of his liberation by Colonel Kenwynton and Adrian
Ducie. The affidavit of the alienist as to his lucid condition at the
time and his present mental reliability completed the proceedings.

This was merely a precautionary measure, designed to guard against a
relapse of Captain Treherne into his malady. The Ducie heirs had already
made formal demand for the restoration of their ancestral estate,
alleging the full satisfaction of the indebtedness, recording the
release of the mortgage and the quit-claim deed, and bringing suit
against all in interest.