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DavisRichard Harding

The Reporter Who Made Himself King

 

 

The Old Time Journalist will tell you that the best reporter is the one whoworks his way up. He holds that the only way to start is as a printer's devil oras an office boyto learn in time to set typeto graduate from a compositorinto a stenographerand as a stenographer take down speeches at public meetingsand so finally grow into a real reporterwith a fire badge on your leftsuspenderand a speaking acquaintance with all the greatest men in the citynot even excepting Police Captains.

That is the old time journalist's idea of it. That is the way he was trainedand that is why at the age of sixty he is still a reporter. If you train up ayouth in this wayhe will go into reporting with too full a knowledge of thenewspaper businesswith no illusions concerning itand with no ignorantenthusiasmsbut with a keen and justifiable impression that he is not paidenough for what he does. And he will only do what he is paid to do.

 

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Nowyou cannot pay a good reporter for what he doesbecause he does notwork for pay. He works for his paper. He gives his timehis healthhis brainshis sleeping hoursand his eating hoursand sometimes his lifeto get newsfor it. He thinks the sun rises only that men may have light by which to readit. But if he has been in a newspaper office from his youth uphe finds outbefore he becomes a reporter that this is not soand loses his real value. Heshould come right out of the University where he has been doing "campusnotes" for the college weeklyand be pitchforked out into city workwithout knowing whether the Battery is at Harlem or Hunter's Pointand with theidea that he is a Moulder of Public Opinion and that the Power of the Press isgreater than the Power of Moneyand that the few lines he writes are of morevalue in the Editor's eyes than is the column of advertising on the last pagewhich they are not.

After three years -- it is sometimes longersometimes not so long -- hefinds out that he has given his nerves and his youth and his enthusiasm inexchange for a general fund of miscellaneous knowledgethe opportunity ofpersonal encounter with all the greatest and most remarkable men and events thathave risen in those three yearsand a

 

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great fund of resource and patience. He will find that he has crowded theexperiences of the lifetime of the ordinary young business mandoctororlawyeror man about towninto three short years; that he has learned to thinkand to act quicklyto be patient and unmoved when everyone else has lost hisheadactually or figuratively speaking; to write as fast as another man cantalkand to be able to talk with authority on matters of which other men do notventure even to think until they have read what he has written with a copy-boyat his elbow on the night previous.

It is necessary for you to know thisthat you may understand what manner ofman young Albert Gordon was.

Young Gordon had been a reporter just three years. He had left Yale when hislast living relative diedand had taken the morning train for New Yorkwherethey had promised him reportorial work on one of the innumerable Greatest NewYork Dailies. He arrived at the office at noonand was sent back over the sameroad on which he had just cometo Spuyten Duyvilwhere a train had beenwrecked and everybody of consequence to suburban New York killed. One of the oldreporters hurried him to the office again with his "copy" and afterhe had delivered thathe was

 

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sent to the Tombs to talk French to a man in Murderers' Rowwho could not talkanything elsebut who had shown some international skill in the use of a jimmy.And at eighthe covered a flower-show in Madison Square Garden; and at elevenwas sent over the Brooklyn Bridge in a cab to watch a fire and make guesses atthe losses to the insurance companies.

He went to bed at oneand dreamed of shattered locomotiveshuman beingslying still with blankets over themrows of cellsand banks of beautifulflowers nodding their heads to the tunes of the brass band in the gallery. Hedecided when he awoke the next morning that he had entered upon a picturesqueand exciting careerand as one day followed anotherhe became more and moreconvinced of itand more and more devoted to it. He was twenty thenand he wasnow twenty-threeand in that time had become a great reporterand had been toPresidential conventions in Chicagorevolutions in HaytiIndian outbreaks onthe Plainsand midnight meetings of moonlighters in Tennesseeand had seenwhat work earthquakesfloodsfireand fever could do in great citiesand hadcontradicted the Presidentand borrowed matches from burglars. And now hethought he would like to rest and breathe a bitand not to

 

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work again unless as a war correspondent. The only obstacle to his becoming agreat war correspondent lay in the fact that there was no warand a warcorrespondent without a war is about as absurd an individual as a generalwithout an army. He read the papers every morning on the elevated trains for warclouds; but though there were many war cloudsthey always drifted apartandpeace smiled again. This was very disappointing to young Gordonand he becamemore and more keenly discouraged.

And then as war work was out of the questionhe decided to write his novel.It was to be a novel of New York lifeand he wanted a quiet place in which towork on it. He was already making inquiries among the suburban residents of hisacquaintance for just such a quiet spotwhen he received an offer to go to theIsland of Opeki in the North Pacific Oceanas secretary to the American consulat that place. The gentleman who had been appointed by the President to act asconsul at Opeki was Captain Leonard T. Travisa veteran of the Civil Warwhohad contracted a severe attack of rheumatism while camping out at night in thedewand who on account of this souvenir of his efforts to save the Union hadallowed the Union he had saved to support him in one office

 

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or another ever since. He had met young Gordon at a dinnerand had had thepresumption to ask him to serve as his secretaryand Gordonmuch to hissurprisehad accepted his offer. The idea of a quiet life in the tropics withnew and beautiful surroundingsand with nothing to do and plenty of time inwhich to do itand to write his novel besidesseemed to Albert to be just whathe wanted; and though he did not know nor care much for his superior officerheagreed to go with him promptlyand proceeded to say good-by to his friends andto make his preparations. Captain Travis was so delighted with getting such aclever young gentleman for his secretarythat he referred to him to his friendsas "my attache of legation;" nor did he lessen that gentleman'sdignity by telling anyone that the attache's salary was to be five hundreddollars a year. His own salary was only fifteen hundred dollars; and though hisbrother-in-lawSenator Rainsfordtried his best to get the amount raisedhewas unsuccessful. The consulship to Opeki was instituted early in the '50'stoget rid of and reward a third or fourth cousin of the President'swhoseservices during the campaign were importantbut whose after-presence wasembarrassing. He had been created consul to Opeki as being more distant andunaccessible than

 

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any other known spotand had lived and died there; and so little was known ofthe islandand so difficult was communication with itthat no one knew he wasdeaduntil Captain Travisin his hungry haste for officehad uprooted the sadfact. Captain Travisas well as Alberthad a secondary reason for wishing tovisit Opeki. His physician had told him to go to some warm climate for hisrheumatismand in accepting the consulship his object was rather to follow outhis doctor's orders at his country's expensethan to serve his country at theexpense of his rheumatism.

Albert could learn but very little of Opeki; nothingindeedbut that it wassituated about one hundred miles from the Island of Octaviawhich islandinturnwas simply described as a coaling-station three hundred miles distant fromthe coast of California. Steamers from San Francisco to Yokohama stopped everythird week at Octaviaand that was all that either Captain Travis or hissecretary could learn of their new home. This was so very littlethat Albertstipulated to stay only as long as he liked itand to return to the Stateswithin a few months if he found such a change of plan desirable.

As he was going to what was an almost undiscovered countryhe thought itwould be advisable

 

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to furnish himself with a supply of articles with which he might trade with thenative Opekiansand for this purpose he purchased a large quantity of brassrodsbecause he had read that Stanley did soand added to thesebrasscurtain-chainsand about two hundred leaden medals similar to those sold bystreet pedlers during the Constitutional Centennial celebration in New YorkCity.

He also collected even more beautiful but less expensive decorations forChristmas-treesat a wholsesale house on Park Row. These he hoped to exchangefor furs or feathers or weaponsor for whatever other curious and valuabletrophies the Island of Opeki boasted. He already pictured his rooms on hisreturn hung fantastically with crossed spears and boomerangsfeatherhead-dressesand ugly idols.

His friends told him that he was doing a very foolish thingand argued thatonce out of the newspaper worldit would be hard to regain his place in it. Buthe thought the novel that he would write while lost to the world at Opeki wouldserve to make up for his temporary absence from itand he expressly andimpressively stipulated that the editor should wire him if there was a war.

Captain Travis and his secretary crossed the continent without adventureandtook passage

 

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from San Francisco on the first steamer that touched at Octavia. They reachedthat island in three daysand learned with some concern that there was noregular communication with Opekiand that it would be necessary to charter asailboat for the trip. Two fishermen agreed to take them and their trunksandto get them to their destination within sixteen hours if the wind held good. Itwas a most unpleasant sail. The rain fell with calmunrelentless persistencefrom what was apparently a clear sky; the wind tossed the waves as high as themast and made Captain Travis ill; and as there was no deck to the big boattheywere forced to huddle up under pieces of canvasand talked but little. CaptainTravis complained of frequent twinges of rheumatismand gazed forlornly overthe gunwale at the empty waste of water.

"If I've got to serve a term of imprisonment on a rock in the middle ofthe ocean for four years" he said"I might just as well have donesomething first to deserve it. This is a pretty way to treat a man who bled forhis country. This is gratitudethis is." Albert pulled heavily on hispipeand wiped the rain and spray from his face and smiled.

"Ohit won't be so bad when we get there" he

 

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said; "they say these Southern people are always hospitableand the whiteswill be glad to see anyone from the States."

"There will be a round of diplomatic dinners" said the consulwith an attempt at cheerfulness. "I have brought two uniforms to wear atthem."

It was seven o'clock in the evening when the rain ceasedand one of theblackhalf-naked fishermen nodded and pointed at a little low line on thehorizon.

"Opeki" he said. The line grew in length until it proved to be anisland with great mountains rising to the cloudsandas they drew nearer andnearershowed a level coast running back to the foot of the mountains andcovered with a forest of palms. They next made out a village of thatched hutsaround a grassy squareand at some distance from the village a wooden structurewith a tin roof.

"I wonder where the town is" asked the consulwith a nervousglance at the fishermen. One of them told him that what he saw was the town.

"That?" gasped the consul. "Is that where all the people onthe island live?"

The fisherman nodded; but the other added that there were other nativesfurther back in the mountainsbut that they were bad men who fought and

 

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ate each other. The consul and his attache of legation gazed at the mountainswith unspoken misgivings. They were quite near nowand could see an immensecrowd of men and womenall of them blackand clad but in the simplest garmentswaiting to receive them. They seemed greatly excited and ran in and out of thehutsand up and down the beachas wildly as so many black ants. But in thefront of the group they distinguished three men who they could see were whitethough they were clothedlike the otherssimply in a shirt and a short pair oftrousers. Two of these three suddenly sprang away on a run and disappeared amongthe palm-trees; but the third onewhen he recognized the American flag in thehalyardsthrew his straw hat in the water and began turning handsprings overthe sand.

"That young gentlemanat least" said Albertgravely"seemspleased to see us."

A dozen of the natives sprang into the water and came wading and swimmingtoward themgrinning and shouting and swinging their arms.

"I don't think it's quite safedo you?" said the consullookingout wildly to the open sea. "You seethey don't know who I am."

A great black giant threw one arm over the gunwale and shouted something thatsounded as if it

 

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were spelt OwahOwahas the boat carried him through the surf.

"How do you do?" said Gordondoubtfully. The boat shook the giantoff under the wave and beached itself so suddenly that the American consul wasthrown forward to his knees. Gordon did not wait to pick him upbut jumped outand shook hands with the young man who had turned handspringswhile the nativesgathered about them in a circle and chatted and laughed in delighted excitement.

"I'm awfully glad to see you" said the young maneagerly."My name's Stedman. I'm from New HavenConnecticut. Where are youfrom?"

"New York" said Albert. "This" he addedpointingsolemnly to Captain Traviswho was still on his knees in the boat"is theAmerican consul to Opeki." The American consul to Opeki gave a wild look atMr. Stedman of New Haven and at the natives.

"See hereyoung man" he gasped"is this all there is ofOpeki?"

"The American consul?" said young Stedmanwith a gasp ofamazementand looking from Albert to Captain Travis. "WhyI neversupposed they would send another here; the last one died about fifteen yearsagoand there hasn't been one

 

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since. I've been living in the consul's office with the Bradleysbut I'll moveoutof course. I'm sure I'm awfully glad to see you. It'll make it so much morepleasant for me."

"Yes" said Captain Travisbitterlyas he lifted his rheumaticleg over the boat; "that's why we came."

Mr. Stedman did not notice this. He was too much pleased to be anything buthospitable. "You are soaking wetaren't you?" he said; "andhungryI guess. You come right over to the consul's office and get on someother things."

He turned to the natives and gave some rapid orders in their languageandsome of them jumped into the boat at thisand began to lift out the trunksandothers ran off toward a largestout old nativewho was sitting gravely on alogsmokingwith the rain beating unnoticed on his gray hair.

"They've gone to tell the King" said Stedman; "but you'dbetter get something to eat firstand then I'll be happy to present youproperly."

"The King" said Captain Traviswith some awe; "is there aking?"

"I never saw a king" Gordon remarked"and I'm sure I neverexpected to see one sitting on a log in the rain."

 

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"He's a very good king" said Stedmanconfidentially; "andthough you mightn't think it to look at himhe's a terrible stickler foretiquette and form. After supper he'll give you an audience; and if you have anytobaccoyou had better give him some as a presentand you'd better say it'sfrom the President: he doesn't like to take presents from common peoplehe's soproud. The only reason he borrows mine is because he thinks I'm the President'sson."

"What makes him think that?" demanded the consulwith someshortness. Young Mr. Stedman looked nervously at the consul and at Albertandsaid that he guessed someone must have told him.

The consul's office was divided into four rooms with an open court in themiddlefilled with palmsand watered somewhat unnecessarily by a fountain.

"I made that" said Stedmanin a modestoffhand way. "I madeit out of hollow bamboo reeds connected with a spring. And now I'm making onefor the King. He saw this and had a lot of bamboo sticks put up all over thetownwithout any underground connectionsand couldn't make out why the waterwouldn't spurt out of them. And because mine spurtshe thinks I'm amagician."

<http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/images/modeng/public/DavRepo/DavRe154.jpg><http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/images/modeng/public/DavRepo/DavRe154.jpg>



 

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"I suppose" grumbled the consul"someone told him thattoo."

"I suppose so" said Mr. Stedmanuneasily.

There was a veranda around the consul's officeand inside the walls werehung with skinsand pictures from illustrated papersand there was a good dealof bamboo furnitureand four broadcool-looking beds. The place was as cleanas a kitchen. "I made the furniture" said Stedman"and theBradleys keep the place in order."

"Who are the Bradleys?" asked Albert.

"The Bradleys are those two men you saw with me" said Stedman;"they deserted from a British man-of-war that stopped here for coalandthey act as my servants. One is BradleySr.and the other BradleyJr."

"Then vessels do stop here occasionally?" the consul saidwith apleased smile.

"Wellnot often" said Stedman. "Not so very often; aboutonce a year. The Nelson thought this was Octaviaand put off again as soon asshe found out her mistakebut the Bradleys took to the bushand the boat'screw couldn't find them. When they saw your flagthey thought you might mean tosend them backso they ran off to hide again; they'll be backthoughwhenthey get hungry."

 

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The supper young Stedman spread for his guestsas he still treated themwasvery refreshing and very good. There was cold fish and pigeon-pieand a hotomelet filled with mushrooms and olives and tomatoes and onions all sliced uptogetherand strong black coffee. After supperStedman went off to see theKingand came back in a little while to say that his Majesty would give them anaudience the next day after breakfast. "It is too dark now" Stedmanexplained; "and it's raining so that they can't make the street-lamps burn.Did you happen to notice our lamps? I invented them; but they don't work verywell yet. I've got the right ideathoughand I'll soon have the townilluminated all overwhether it rains or not."

The consul had been very silent and indifferentduring supperto all aroundhim. Now he looked up with some show of interest.

"How much longer is it going to raindo you think?" he asked.

"OhI don't know" said Stedmancritically. "Not more thantwo monthsI should say." The consul rubbed his rheumatic leg and sighedbut said nothing.

The Bradleys returned about ten o'clockand came in very sheepishly. Theconsul had gone

 

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off to pay the boatmen who had brought themand Albert in his absence assuredthe sailors that there was not the least danger of their being sent away. Thenhe turned into one of the bedsand Stedman took one in another roomleavingthe room he had occupied heretofore for the consul. As he was saying good-nightAlbert suggested that he had not yet told them how he came to be on a desertedisland; but Stedman only laughed and said that that was a long storyand thathe would tell him all about it in the morning. So Albert went off to bed withoutwaiting for the consul to returnand fell asleepwondering at the strangenessof his new lifeand assuring himself that if the rain only kept uphe wouldhave his novel finished in a month.

The sun was shining brightly when he awokeand the palm-trees outside werenodding gracefully in a warm breeze. From the court came the odor of strangeflowersand from the window he could see the ocean brilliantly blueand withthe sun coloring the spray that beat against the coral reefs on the shore.

"Wellthe consul can't complain of this" he saidwith a laugh ofsatisfaction; and pulling on a bath-robehe stepped into the next room toawaken Captain Travis. But the room was quite

 

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emptyand the bed undisturbed. The consul's trunk remained just where it hadbeen placed near the doorand on it lay a large sheet of foolscapwith writingon itand addressed at the top to Albert Gordon. The handwriting was theconsul's. Albert picked it up and read it with much anxiety. It began abruptly--

"The fishermen who brought us to this forsaken spot tell me that itrains here six months in the yearand that this is the first month. I came hereto serve my countryfor which I fought and bledbut I did not come here to dieof rheumatism and pneumonia. I can serve my country better by staying alive; andwhether it rains or notI don't like it. I have been grossly deceivedand I amgoing back. Indeedby the time you get thisI will be on my return tripas Iintend leaving with the men who brought us here as soon as they can get the sailup. My cousinSenator Rainsfordcan fix it all right with the Presidentandcan have me recalled in proper form after I get back. But of course it would notdo for me to leave my post with no one to take my placeand no one could bemore ably fitted to do so than yourself; so I feel no compunctions at leavingyou behind. I herebythereforeaccordingly appoint you my substitute

 

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with full power to actto collect all feessign all papersand attend to allmatters pertaining to your office as American consuland I trust you willworthily uphold the name of that country and government which it has always beenmy pleasure and duty to serve.

"Your sincere friend and superior officer
"LEONARD T. TRAVIS.

"P. S. I did not care to disturb you by moving my trunkso I left itand you can make what use you please of whatever it containsas I shall notwant tropical garments where I am going. What you will need mostI thinkis awaterproof and umbrella.

"P. S. Look out for that young man Stedman. He is too inventive. I hopeyou will like your high office; but as for myselfI am satisfied with littleold New York. Opeki is just a bit too far from civilization to suit me."

Albert held the letter before him and read it over again before he moved.Then he jumped to the window. The boat was goneand there was not a sign of iton the horizon.

"The miserable old hypocrite!" he criedhalf angry and halflaughing. "If he thinks I am going to stay here alone he is very greatlymistaken.

 

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And yetwhy not?" he asked. He stopped soliloquizing and looked aroundhimthinking rapidly. As he stood thereStedman came in from the other roomfresh and smiling from his morning's bath.

"Good-morning" he said"where's the consul?"

"The consul" said Albertgravely"is before you. In me yousee the American consul to Opeki.

"Captain Travis" Albert explained"has returned to theUnited States. I suppose he feels that he can best serve his country byremaining on the spot. In case of another warnowfor instancehe would bethere to save it again."

"And what are you going to do?" asked Stedmananxiously. "Youwill not run away toowill you?"

Albert said that he intended to remain where he was and perform his consulardutiesto appoint him his secretaryand to elevate the United States in theopinion of the Opekians above all other nations.

"They may not think much of the United States in England" he said;"but we are going to teach the people of Opeki that America is first on themap and that there is no second."

"I'm sure it's very good of you to make me your

 

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secretary" said Stedmanwith some pride. "I hope I won't make anymistakes. What are the duties of a consul's secretary?"

"That" said Albert"I do not know. But you are rather goodat inventingso you can invent a few. That should be your first duty and youshould attend to it at once. I will have trouble enough finding work for myself.Your salary is five hundred dollars a year; and now" he continuedbriskly"we want to prepare for this reception. We can tell the King thatTravis was just a guard of honor for the tripand that I have sent him back totell the President of my safe arrival. That will keep the President from gettinganxious. There is nothing" continued Albert"like a uniform toimpress people who live in the tropicsand Travisit so happenshas two inhis trunk. He intended to wear them on State occasionsand as I inherit thetrunk and all that is in itI intend to wear one of the uniformsand you canhave the other. But I have first choicebecause I am consul."

Captain Travis's consular outfit consisted of one full dress and one undressUnited States uniform. Albert put on the dress-coat over a pair of white flanneltrousersand looked remarkably brave and handsome. Stedmanwho was onlyeighteen and

 

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quite thindid not appear so welluntil Albert suggested his padding out hischest and shoulders with towels. This made him rather warmbut helped hisgeneral appearance.

"The two Bradleys must dress uptoo" said Albert. "I thinkthey ought to act as a guard of honordon't you? The only things I have areblazers and jerseys; but it doesn't much matter what they wearas long as theydress alike."

He accordingly called in the two Bradleysand gave them each a pair of thecaptain's rejected white duck trousersand a blue jersey apiecewith a bigwhite Y on it.

"The students of Yale gave me that" he said to the youngerBradley"in which to play footballand a great man gave me the other. Hisname is Walter Camp; and if you rip or soil that jerseyI'll send you back toEngland in irons; so be careful."

Stedman gazed at his companions in their different costumesdoubtfully."It reminds me" he said"of private theatricals. Of the timeour church choir played `Pinafore.'"

"Yes" assented Albert; "but I don't think we look quite gayenough. I tell you what we need-- medals. You never saw a diplomat without alot of decorations and medals."

 

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"WellI can fix that" Stedman said. "I've got a trunkful. Iused to be the fastest bicycle-rider in Connecticutand I've got all my prizeswith me."

Albert said doubtfully that that wasn't exactly the sort of medal he meant.

"Perhaps not" returned Stedmanas he began fumbling in his trunk;"but the King won't know the difference. He couldn't tell a cross of theLegion of Honor from a medal for the tug of war."

So the bicycle medalsof which Stedman seemed to have an innumerablequantitywere strung in profusion over Albert's uniformand in a lesserquantity over Stedman's; while a handful of leaden onesthose sold on thestreets for the Constitutional Centennialwith which Albert had providedhimselfwere wrapped up in a red silk handkerchief for presentation to theKing; with them Albert placed a number of brass rods and brass chainsmuch toStedman's delighted approval.

"That is a very good idea" he said. "Democratic simplicity isthe right thing at homeof course; but when you go abroad and mix with crownedheadsyou want to show them that you know what's what."

"Well" said Albertgravely"I sincerely hope

 

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this crowned head don't know what's what. If he reads `Connecticut AgriculturalState Fair. One mile bicycle race. First Prize' on this badgewhen we aretrying to make him believe it's a war medalit may hurt his feelings."

BradleyJr.went ahead to announce the approach of the American embassywhich he did with so much manner that the King deferred the audience ahalf-hourin order that he might better prepare to receive his visitors. Whenthe audience did take placeit attracted the entire population to the greenspot in front of the King's palaceand their delight and excitement over theappearance of the visitors was sincere and hearty. The King was too polite toappear much surprisedbut he showed his delight over his presents as simply andopenly as a child. Thrice he insisted on embracing Albertand kissing him threetimes on the foreheadwhichStedman assured him in a side-whisperwas a greathonor; an honor which was not extended to the secretaryalthough he was given anecklace of animals' claws insteadwith which he was better satisfied.

After this receptionthe embassy marched back to the consul's officesurrounded by an immense number of the nativessome of whom ran ahead andlooked back at themand crowded so close

 

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that the two Bradleys had to poke at those nearest with their guns. The crowdremained outside the office even after the procession of four had disappearedand cheered. This suggested to Gordon that this would be a good time to make aspeechwhich he accordingly didStedman translating itsentence by sentence.At the conclusion of this effortAlbert distributed a number of brass ringsamong the married men presentwhich they placed on whichever finger fittedbestand departed delighted.

Albert had wished to give the rings to the married womenbut Stedman pointedout to him that it would be much cheaper to give them to the married men; forwhile one woman could only have one husbandone man could have at least sixwives.

"And nowStedman" said Albertafter the mob had gone"tellme what you are doing on this island."

"It's a very simple story" Stedman said. "I am therepresentativeor agentor operatorfor the Yokohama Cable Company. TheYokohama Cable Company is a company organized in San Franciscofor the purposeof laying a cable to Yokohama. It is a stock company; and though it started outvery wellthe stock has fallen very low. Between ourselvesit is not worthover three or

 

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four cents. When the officers of the company found out that no one would buytheir stockand that no one believed in them or their schemethey laid a cableto Octaviaand extended it on to this island. Then they said they had run outof ready moneyand would wait until they got more before laying their cable anyfarther. I do not think they ever will lay it any fartherbut that is none ofmy business. My business is to answer cable messages from San Franciscoso thatthe people who visit the home office can see that at least a part of the cableis working. That sometimes impresses themand they buy stock. There is anotherchap over in Octaviawho relays all my messages and all my replies to thosemessages that come to me through him from San Francisco. They never send amessage unless they have brought someone to the office whom they want toimpressand whothey thinkhas money to invest in the Y.C.C. stockand so wenever go near the wireexcept at three o'clock every afternoon. And thengenerally only to say `How are you?' or `It's raining' or something like that.I've been saying `It's raining' now for the last three monthsbut to-day Iwill say that the new consul has arrived. That will be a pleasant surprise forthe chap in Octaviafor he must be tired hearing about the weather. He

 

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generally answers`Here too' or `So you said' or something like that. I don'tknow what he says to the home office. He's brighter than I amand that's whythey put him between the two ends. He can see that the messages are transmittedmore fully and more correctlyin a way to please possible subscribers."

"Sort of copy editor" suggested Albert.

"Yessomething of that sortI fancy" said Stedman.

They walked down to the little shed on the shorewhere the Y.C.C. office wasplacedat three that dayand Albert watched Stedman send off his message withmuch interest. The "chap at Octavia" on being informed that theAmerican consul had arrived at Opekiinquiredsomewhat disrespectfully"Is it a life sentence?"

"What does he mean by that?" asked Albert.

"I suppose" said his secretarydoubtfully"that he thinksit a sort of a punishment to be sent to Opeki. I hope you won't grow to thinkso."

"Opeki is all very well" said Gordon"or it will be when weget things going our way."

As they walked back to the officeAlbert noticed a brass cannonperched ona rock at the entrance to the harbor. This had been put there by the last

 

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The. Reporter Who consulbut it had not been fired for many years. Albertimmediately ordered the two Bradleys to get it in orderand to rig up aflag-pole beside itfor one of his American flagswhich they were to saluteevery night when they lowered it at sundown.

"And when we are not using it" he said"the King can borrowit to celebrate withif he doesn't impose on us too often. The royal saluteought to be twenty-one gunsI think; but that would use up too much powdersohe will have to content himself with two."

"Did you notice" asked Stedmanthat nightas they sat on theveranda of the consul's housein the moonlight"how the people bowed tous as we passed?"

"Yes" Albert said he had noticed it. "Why?"

"Wellthey never saluted me" replied Stedman. "That sign ofrespect is due to the show we made at the reception."

"It is due to usin any event" said the consulseverely. "Itell youmy secretarythat weas the representatives of the United StatesGovernmentmust be properly honored on this island. We must become a power. Andwe must do so without getting into trouble with the King. We must make themhonor himtooand then as we

 

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push him upwe will push ourselves up at the same time."

"They don't think much of consuls in Opeki" said Stedmandoubtfully. "You see the last one was a pretty poor sort. He brought theoffice into disreputeand it wasn't really until I came and told them what afine country the United States wasthat they had any opinion of it at all. Nowwe must change all that."

"That is just what we will do" said Albert. "We willtransform Opeki into a powerful and beautiful city. We will make these peoplework. They must put up a palace for the Kingand lay out streetsand buildwharvesand drain the town properlyand light it. I haven't seen this patentlighting apparatus of yoursbut you had better get to work at it at onceandI'll persuade the King to appoint you commissioner of highways and gaswithauthority to make his people toil. And I" he criedin free enthusiasm"will organize a navy and a standing army. Only" he addedwith arelapse of interest"there isn't anybody to fight."

"Thereisn't?" said Stedmangrimlywith a scornful smile."You just go hunt up old Messenwah and the Hillmen with your standing armyonce and you'll get all the fighting you want."

"The Hillmen?" said Albert.

 

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"The Hillmen are the natives that live up there in the hills"Stedman saidnodding his head toward the three high mountains at the other endof the islandthat stood out blackly against the purplemoonlit sky."There are nearly as many of them as there are Opekiansand they hunt andfight for a living and for the pleasure of it. They have an old rascal namedMessenwah for a kingand they come down here about once every three monthsandtear things up."

Albert sprang to his feet.

"Ohthey dodo they?" he saidstaring up at the mountain-tops."They come down here and tear up thingsdo they? WellI think we'll stopthatI think we'll stop that! I don't care how many there are. I'll get the twoBradleys to tell me all they know about drillingto-morrow morningand we'lldrill these Opekiansand have sham battlesand attacksand repulsesuntil Imake a lot of wildhowling Zulus out of them. And when the Hillmen come down topay their quarterly visitthey'll go back again on a run. At least some of themwill" he addedferociously. "Some of them will stay righthere."

"Dear medear me!" said Stedmanwith awe; you are a born fighteraren't you?"

"Wellyou wait and see" said Gordon; maybe

 

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I am. I haven't studied tactics of war and the history of battlesso that Imight be a great war-correspondentwithout learning something. And there isonly one king on this islandand that is old Ollypybus himself. And I'll goover and have a talk with him about it to-morrow."

Young Stedman walked up and down the length of the verandain and out of themoonlightwith his hands in his pocketsand his head on his chest. "Youhave me all stirred upGordon" he said; "you seem so confident andboldand you're not so much older than I ameither."

"My training has been different; that's all" said the reporter."Yes" Stedman saidbitterly. "I have been sitting in an officeever since I left schoolsending news over a wire or a cableand you have beenout in the worldgathering it."

"And now" said Gordonsmilingand putting his arm around theother boy's shoulders"we are going to make news ourselves."

"There is one thing I want to say to you before you turn in" saidStedman. "Before you suggest all these improvements on Ollypybusyou mustremember that he has ruled absolutely here for twenty yearsand that he doesnot think much of consuls. He has only seen your predecessor and

 

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yourself. He likes you because you appeared with such dignityand because ofthe presents; but if I were youI wouldn't suggest these improvements as comingfrom yourself."

"I don't understand" said Gordon; "who could they comefrom?"

"Well" said Stedman"if you will allow me to advise -- andyou see I know these people pretty well -- I would have all these suggestionscome from the President direct."

"The President!" exclaimed Gordon; "but how? What does thePresident know or care about Opeki? and it would take so long -- ohI seethecable. Is that what you have been doing?" he asked.

"Wellonly once" said Stedmanguiltily; "that was when hewanted to turn me out of the consul's officeand I had a cable that veryafternoonfrom the Presidentordering me to stay where I was. Ollypybusdoesn't understand the cableof coursebut he knows that it sends messages;and sometimes I pretend to send messages for him to the President; but he beganasking me to tell the President to come and pay him a visitand I had to stopit."

"I'm glad you told me" said Gordon. "The President shallbegin to cable to-morrow. He will need an extra appropriation from Congress topay for his private cablegrams alone."

 

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"And there's another thing" said Stedman. "In all your plansyou've arranged for the people's improvementbut not for their amusement; andthey are a peacefuljollysimple sort of peopleand we must pleasethem."

"Have they no games or amusements of their own?" asked Gordon.

"Wellnot what we would call games."

"Very wellthenI'll teach them base-ball. Foot-ball would be toowarm. But that plaza in front of the King's bungalowwhere his palace is goingto beis just the place for a diamond. On the wholethough" added theconsulafter a moment's reflection"you'd better attend to that yourself.I don't think it becomes my dignity as American consul to take off my coat andgive lessons to young Opekians in sliding to bases; do you? No; I think you'dbetter do that. The Bradleys will help youand you had better begin to-morrow.You have been wanting to know what a secretary of legation's duties areand nowyou know. It's to organize base-ball nines. And after you get yours ready"he addedas he turned into his room for the night"I'll train one thatwill sweep yours off the face of the island. For this American consul canpitch three curves."

The best laid plans of men go far astraysometimes

 

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and the great and beautiful city that was to rise on the coast of Opeki was notbuilt in a day. Nor was it ever built. For before the Bradleys could mark outthe foul-lines for the base-ball field on the plazaor teach their standingarmy the goose stepor lay bamboo pipes for the water-mainsor clear away thecactus for the extension of the King's palacethe Hillmen paid Opeki theirquarterly visit.

Albert had called on the King the next morningwith Stedman as hisinterpreteras he had said he wouldandwith maps and sketcheshad shown hisMajesty what he proposed to do toward improving Opeki and ennobling her kingand when the King saw Albert's free-hand sketches of wharves with tall shipslying at anchorand rows of Opekian warriors with the Bradleys at their headand the design for his new palaceand a royal sedan chairhe believed thatthese things were already hisand not still only on paperand he appointedAlbert his Minister of WarStedman his Minister of Home Affairsand selectedtwo of his wisest and oldest subjects to serve them as joint advisers. Hisenthusiasm was even greater than Gordon'sbecause he did not appreciate thedifficulties. He thought Gordon a semi-goda worker of miraclesand urged theputting up of a monument

 

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to him at once in the public plazato which Albert objectedon the ground thatit would be too suggestive of an idol; and to which Stedman also objectedbutfor the less unselfish reason that it would "be in the way of the pitcher'sbox."

They were feverishly discussing all these great changesand Stedman wastranslating as rapidly as he could translatethe speeches of four different men-- for the two counsellors had been called in -- all of whom wanted to speak atonce when there came from outside a great shoutand the screams of womenandthe clashing of ironand the pattering footsteps of men running.

As they looked at one another in startled surprisea native ran into theroomfollowed by BradleyJr.and threw himself down before the King. While hetalkedbeating his hands and bowing before OllypybusBradleyJr.pulled hisforelock to the consuland told how this man lived on the far outskirts of thevillage; how he had been captured while out huntingby a number of the Hillmen;and how he had escaped to tell the people that their old enemies were on thewar-path againand rapidly approaching the village.

Outsidethe women were gathering in the plazawith the children about themand the men were running from hut to hutwarning their fellows

 

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and arming themselves with spears and swordsand the native bows and arrows.

"They might have waited until we had that army trained" saidGordonin a tone of the keenest displeasure. "Tell mequickwhat do theygenerally do when they come?"

"Steal all the cattle and goatsand a woman or twoand set fire to thehuts in the outskirts" replied Stedman.

"Wellwe must stop them" said Gordonjumping up. "We musttake out a flag of truce and treat with them. They must be kept off until I havemy army in working order. It is most inconvenient. If they had only waited twomonthsnowor six weeks evenwe could have done something; but now we mustmake peace. Tell the King we are going out to fix things with themand tell himto keep off his warriors until he learns whether we succeed or fail."

"ButGordon!" gasped Stedman. "Albert! You don't understand.Whymanthis isn't astreet-fight or a cane-rush. They'll stick you full ofspearsdance on your bodyand eat youmaybe. A flag of truce! -- you'retalking nonsense. What do they know of a flag of truce?"

"You're talking nonsensetoo" said Albert"and you'retalking to your superior officer. If

 

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you are not with me in thisgo back to your cableand tell the man in Octaviathat it's a warm dayand that the sun is shining; but if you've any spirit inyou -- and I think you have -- run to the office and get my Winchester riflesand the two shotgunsand my revolversand my uniformand a lot of brassthings for presentsand run all the way there and back. And make time. Playyou're riding a bicycle at the Agricultural Fair."

Stedman did not hear this lastfor he was already off and awaypushingthrough the crowdand calling on BradleySr.to follow him. BradleyJr.looked at Gordon with eyes that snappedlike a dog that is waiting for hismaster to throw a stone.

"I can fire a Winchestersir" he said. "Old Tom can't. He'sno good at long range 'cept with a big gunsir. Don't give him the Winchester.Give it to mepleasesir."

Albert met Stedman in the plazaand pulled off his blazerand put onCaptain Travis's -- now his -- uniform coatand his white pith helmet.

"NowJack" he said"get up there and tell these people thatwe are going out to make peace with these Hillmenor bring them back prisonersof war. Tell them we are the preservers of their homes and wives and children;and youBradley

 

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take these presentsand young Bradleykeep close to meand carry thisrifle."

Stedman's speech was hot and wild enough to suit a critical and feverishaudience before a barricade in Paris. And when he was throughGordon andBradley punctuated his oration by firing off the two Winchester rifles in theairat which the people jumped and fell on their kneesand prayed to theirseveral gods. The fighting men of the village followed the four white men to theoutskirtsand took up their stand there as Stedman told them to doand thefour walked on over the roughly hewn roadto meet the enemy.

Gordon walked with BradleyJr.in advance. Stedman and old Tom Bradleyfollowed close behindwith the two shot-gunsand the presents in a basket.

"Are these Hillmen used to guns?" asked Gordon. Stedman said nothey were not.

"This shot-gun of mine is the only one on the island" heexplained"and we never came near enough them before to do anything withit. It only carries a hundred yards. The Opekians never make any show ofresistance. They are quite content if the Hillmen satisfy themselves with theoutlying hutsas long as they leave them and the town alone; so they seldomcome to close quarters."

 

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The four men walked on for half an hour or so in silencepeering eagerly onevery side; but it was not until they had left the woods and marched out intothe level stretch of grassy country that they came upon the enemy. The Hillmenwere about forty in numberand were as savage and ugly-looking giants as any ina picture-book. They had captured a dozen cows and goatsand were driving themon before themas they advanced farther upon the village. When they saw thefour menthey gave a mixed chorus of cries and yellsand some of them stoppedand others ran forwardshaking their spearsand shooting their broad arrowsinto the ground before them. A tallgray-beardedmuscular old manwith askirt of feathers about himand necklaces of bones and animals' claws aroundhis bare chestran in front of themand seemed to be trying to make themapproach more slowly.

"Is that Messenwah?" asked Gordon.

"Yes" said Stedman; "he is trying to keep them back. I don'tbelieve he ever saw a white man before."

"Stedman" said Albertspeaking quickly"give your gun toBradleyand go forward with your arms in the airand waving your handkerchiefand tell them in their language that the King is coming.

 

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If they go at youBradley and I will kill a goat or twoto show them what wecan do with the rifles; and if that don't stop themwe will shoot at theirlegs; and if that don't stop them -- I guess you'd better come backand we'llall run."

Stedman looked at Albertand Albert looked at Stedmanand neither of themwinced or flinched.

"Is this another of my secretary's duties?" asked the younger boy.

"Yes" said the consul; "but a resignation is always in order.You needn't go if you don't like it. You seeyou know the language and I don'tbut I know how to shootand you don't."

"That's perfectly satisfactory" said Stedmanhanding his gun toold Bradley. "I only wanted to know why I was to be sacrificed instead ofone of the Bradleys. It's because I know the language. BradleySr.you see theevil results of a higher education. Wish me luckplease" he said"and for goodness' sake" he added impressively"don't wastemuch time shooting goats."

The Hillmen had stopped about two hundred yards offand were drawn up in twolinesshoutingand dancingand hurling taunting remarks at their fewadversaries. The stolen cattle were bunched together back of the King. AsStedman walked steadily forward with his handkerchief fluttering

<http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/images/modeng/public/DavRepo/DavRe180.jpg><http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/images/modeng/public/DavRepo/DavRe180.jpg>



 

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and howling out something in their own tonguethey stopped and listened. As headvancedhis three companions followed him at about fifty yards in the rear. Hewas one hundred and fifty yards from the Hillmen before they made out what hesaidand then one of the young bravesresenting it as an insult to his chiefshot an arrow at him. Stedman dodged the arrow and stood his ground without eventaking a step backwardonly turning slightly to put his hands to his mouthandto shout something which sounded to his companions like"About time tobegin on the goats." But the instant the young man had firedKingMessenwah swung his club and knocked him downand none of the others moved.Then Messenwah advanced before his men to meet Stedmanand on Stedman's openingand shutting his hands to show that he was unarmedthe King threw down his cluband spearsand came forward as empty-handed as himself.

"Ah" gasped BradleyJr.with his finger trembling on his lever"let me take a shot at him now." Gordon struck the man's gun upandwalked forward in all the glory of his gold and blue uniform; for both he andStedman saw now that Messenwah was more impressed by their appearanceand inthe fact that they were white menthan with any

 

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threats of immediate war. So when he saluted Gordon haughtilythat young mangave him a haughty nod in returnand bade Stedman tell the King that he wouldpermit him to sit down. The King did not quite appear to like thisbut he satdownneverthelessand nodded his head gravely.

"Now tell him" said Gordon"that I come from the ruler ofthe greatest nation on earthand that I recognize Ollypybus as the only King ofthis islandand that I come to this little three-penny King with either peaceand presentsor bullets and war."

"Have I got to tell him he's a little three-penny King?" saidStedmanplaintively.

" No; you needn't give a literal translation; it can be as free as youplease."

"Thanks" said the secretaryhumbly.

"And tell him" continued Gordon"that we will give presentsto him and his warriors if he keeps away from Ollypybusand agrees to keep awayalways. If he won't do thattry to get him to agree to stay away for threemonths at leastand by that time we can get word to San Franciscoand have adozen muskets over here in two months; and when our time of probation is upandhe and his merry men come dancing down the hillsidewe will blow them up ashigh as his mountains. But

 

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you needn't tell him thateither. And if he is proud and haughtyand wouldrather fightask him to restrain himself until we show what we can do with ourweapons at two hundred yards."

Stedman seated himself in the long grass in front of the Kingand with manyrevolving gestures of his armsand much pointing at Gordonand profound nodsand bowsretold what Gordon had dictated. When he had finishedthe King lookedat the bundle of presentsand at the gunsof which Stedman had given a verywonderful accountbut answered nothing.

"I guess" said Stedmanwith a sigh"that we will have togive him a little practical demonstration to help matters. I am sorrybut Ithink one of those goats has got to die. It's like vivisection. The lower orderof animals have to suffer for the good of the higher."

"Oh" said BradleyJr.cheerfully"I'd just as soon shootone of those niggers as one of the goats."

So Stedman bade the King tell his men to drive a goat toward themand theKing did soand one of the men struck one of the goats with his spearand itran clumsily across the plain.

"Take your timeBradley" said Gordon. "Aim lowand if youhit ityou can have it for supper."

 

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"And if you miss it" said Stedmangloomily"Messenwah mayhave us for supper."

The Hillmen had seated themselves a hundred yards offwhile the leaders weredebatingand they now rose curiously and watched Bradleyas he sank upon onekneeand covered the goat with his rifle. When it was about one hundred andfifty yards off he firedand the goat fell over dead.

And then all the Hillmenwith the King himselfbroke away on a runtowardthe dead animalwith much shouting. The King came back aloneleaving hispeople standing about and examining the goat. He was much excitedand talkedand gesticulated violently.

"He says -- " said Stedman; "he says -- -- "

"What? yesgo on."

"He says -- goodness me! -- what do you think he says?"

"Wellwhat does he say?" cried Gordonin great excitement."Don't keep it all to yourself."

"He says" said Stedman"that we are deceived; that he is nolonger King of the Island of Opeki; that he is in great fear of usand that hehas got himself into no end of trouble. He says he sees that we are indeedmighty menthat to us he is as helpless as the wild boar before the javelin ofthe hunter."

 

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"Wellhe's right" said Gordon. "Go on."

"But that which we ask is no longer his to give. He has sold hiskingship and his right to this island to another kingwho came to him two daysago in a great canoeand who made noises as we do -- with gunsI suppose hemeans -- and to whom he sold the island for a watch that he has in a bag aroundhis neck. And that he signed a paperand made marks on a piece of barkto showthat he gave up the island freely and forever."

"What does he mean?" said Gordon. "How can he give up theisland? Ollypybus is the king of half of itanywayand he knows it."

"That's just it" said Stedman. "That's what frightens him. Hesaid he didn't care about Ollypybusand didn't count him in when he made thetreatybecause he is such a peaceful chap that he knew he could thrash him intodoing anything he wanted him to do. And now that you have turned up and takenOllypybus's parthe wishes he hadn't sold the islandand wishes to know if youare angry."

"Angry? of course I'm angry" said Gordonglaring as grimly at thefrightened monarch as he thought was safe. "Who wouldn't be angry? Who doyou think these people were who made

 

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a fool of himStedman? Ask him to let us see this watch."

Stedman did soand the King fumbled among his necklaces until he had broughtout a leather bag tied round his neck with a cordand containing a plainstem-winding silver watch marked on the inside "Munich."

"That doesn't tell anything" said Gordon. "But it's plainenough. Some foreign ship of war has settled on this place as a coaling-stationor has annexed it for colonizationand they've sent a boat ashoreand they'vemade a treaty with this old chapand forced him to sell his birthright for amess of porridge. Nowthat's just like those monarchical piratesimposing upona poor old black."

Old Bradley looked at him impudently.

"Not at all" said Gordon; "it's quite different with us; wedon't want to rob him or Ollypybusor to annex their land. All we want to do istoimprove itand have the fun of running it for them and meddling in theiraffairs of state. WellStedman" he said"what shall we do?"

Stedman said that the best and only thing to do was to threaten to take thewatch away from Messenwahbut to give him a revolver insteadwhich would makea friend of him for lifeand to keep

 

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him supplied with cartridges only as long as he behaved himselfand then tomake him understand thatas Ollypybus had not given his consent to the loss ofthe islandMessenwah's agreementor treatyor whatever it wasdid not standand that he had better come down the next dayearly in the morningand join ina general consultation. This was doneand Messenwah agreed willingly to theirpropositionand was given his revolver and shown how to shoot itwhile theother presents were distributed among the other menwho were as happy over themas girls with a full dance-card.

"And nowto-morrow" said Stedman"understandyou are allto come down unarmedand sign a treaty with great Ollypybusin which he willagree to keep to one-half of the island if you keep to yoursand there must beno more wars or goat-stealingor this gentleman on my right and I will come upand put holes in you just as the gentleman on the left did with the goat."

Messenwah and his warriors promised to come earlyand saluted reverently asGordon and his three companions walked up together very proudly and stiffly.

"Do you know how I feel?" said Gordon.

"How?" asked Stedman.

"I feel as I used to do in the citywhen the

 

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boys in the street were throwing snowballsand I had to go by with a high haton my head and pretend not to know they were behind me. I always felt a coldchill down my spinal columnand I could feel that snowballwhether it came ornotright in the small of my back. And I can feel one of those men pulling hisbow nowand the arrow sticking out of my right shoulder."

"Ohnoyou can't" said Stedman. "They are too much afraidof those rifles. But I do feel sorry for any of those warriors whom old manMessenwah doesn't likenow that he has that revolver. He isn't the sort topractise on goats."

There was great rejoicing when Stedman and Gordon told their story to theKingand the people learned that they were not to have their huts burned andtheir cattle stolen. The armed Opekians formed a guard around the ambassadorsand escorted them to their homes with cheers and shoutsand the women ran attheir side and tried to kiss Gordon's hand.

"I'm sorry I can't speak the languageStedman" said Gordon"or I would tell them what a brave man you are. You are too modest to do ityourselfeven if I dictated something for you to say. As for me" he saidpulling off his uniform"I am thoroughly disgusted and disappointed.

 

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It never occurred to me until it was all over that this was my chance to be awar-correspondent. It wouldn't have been much of a warbut then I would havebeen the only one on the spotand that counts for a great deal. Stillmy timemay come."

"We have a great deal on hand for to-morrow" said Gordon thatevening"and we had better turn in early."

And so the people were still singing and rejoicing down in the village whenthe two conspirators for the peace of the country went to sleep for the night.It seemed to Gordon as though he had hardly turned his pillow twice to get thecoolest side when someone touched himand he sawby the light of the dozenglow-worms in the tumbler by his bedsidea tall figure at its foot.

"It's me -- Bradley" said the figure.

"Yes" said Gordonwith the haste of a man to show that sleep hasno hold on him; "exactly; what is it?"

"There is a ship of war in the harbor" Bradley answered in awhisper. "I heard her anchor chains rattle when she came toand that wokeme. I could hear that if I were dead. And then I made sure by her lights; she'sa great boatsirand I can know she's a ship of war by the challenging when

 

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they change the watch. I thought you'd like to knowsir."

Gordon sat up and clutched his knees with his hands. "Yesofcourse" he said; "you are quite right. StillI don't see what thereis to do."

He did not wish to show too much youthful interestbut though fresh fromcivilizationhe had learned how far from it he wasand he was curious to seethis sign of it that had come so much more quickly than he had anticipated.

"Wake Mr. Stedmanwill you?" said he"and we will go andtake a look at her."

"You can see nothing but the lights" said Bradleyas he left theroom; "it's a black nightsir."

Stedman was not new from the sight of men and ships of warand came in halfdressed and eager.

"Do you suppose it's the big canoe Messenwah spoke of?" he said.

"I thought of that" said Gordon.

The three men fumbled their way down the road to the plazaand sawas soonas they turned into itthe great outlines and the brilliant lights of animmense vesselstill more immense in the darknessand glowing like a strangemonster of the seawith just a suggestion here and therewhere the lightsspreadof her cabins and bridges. As they stood

 

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on the shoreshivering in the cool night-windthey heard the bells strike overthe water.

"It's two o'clock" said Bradleycounting.

"Wellwe can do nothingand they cannot mean to do muchto-night" Albert said. "We had better get some more sleepandBradleyyou keep watch and tell us as soon as day breaks."

"Ayeayesir" said the sailor.

"If that's the man-of-war that made the treaty with MessenwahandMessenwah turns up to-morrowit looks as if our day would be pretty well filledup" said Albertas they felt their way back to the darkness.

"What do you intend to do?" asked his secretarywith a voice ofsome concern.

"I don't know" Albert answered gravelyfrom the blackness of thenight. "It looks as if we were getting ahead just a little too fastdoesn't it? Well" he addedas they reached the house"let's try tokeep in step with the processioneven if we can't be drum-majors and walk infront of it." And with this cheering tone of confidence in their earsthetwo diplomats went soundly asleep again.

The light of the rising sun filled the roomand the parrots were chatteringoutsidewhen Bradley woke him again.

"They are sending a boat ashoresir" he said

 

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excitedlyand filled with the importance of the occasion. "She's a Germanman-of-warand one of the new model. A beautiful boatsir; for her lines werelaid in Glasgowand I can tell thatno matter what flag she flies. You hadbest be moving to meet them: the village isn't awake yet."

Albert took a cold bath and dressed leisurely; then he made BradleyJr.whohad slept through it allget up breakfastand the two young men ate it anddrank their coffee comfortably and with an air of confidence that deceived theirservantsif it did not deceive themselves. But when they came down the pathsmoking and swinging their sticksand turned into the plazatheir composureleft them like a maskand they stopped where they stood. The plaza was enclosedby the natives gathered in whispering groupsand depressed by fear and wonder.On one side were crowded all the Messenwah warriorsunarmedand as silent anddisturbed as the Opekians. In the middle of the plaza some twenty sailors werebusy rearing and bracing a tall flag-staff that they had shaped from a royalpalmand they did this as unconcernedly and as contemptuouslyand with as muchindifference to the strange groups on either side of themas though they wereworking on a barren coastwith nothing but the startled sea-gulls about

 

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them. As Albert and Stedman came upon the scenethe flag-pole was in placeandthe halyards hung from it with a little bundle of bunting at the end of one ofthem.

"We must find the King at once" said Gordon. He was terriblyexcited and angry. "It is easy enough to see what this means. They aregoing through the form of annexing this island to the other lands of the GermanGovernment. They are robbing old Ollypybus of what is his. They have not evengiven him a silver watch for it.

The King was in his bungalowfacing the plaza. Messenwah was with himandan equal number of each of their councils. The common danger had made them liedown together in peace; but they gave a murmur of relief as Gordon strode intothe room with no ceremonyand greeted them with a curt wave of the hand.

"Now thenStedmanbe quick" he said. "Explain to them whatthis means; tell them that I will protect them; that I am anxious to see thatOllypybus is not cheated; that we will do all we can for them."

Outsideon the shorea second boat's crew had landed a group of officersand a file of marines. They walked in all the dignity of full dress across

 

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the plaza to the flag-poleand formed in line on the three sides of itwiththe marines facing the sea. The officersfrom the captain with a prayer-book inhis handto the youngest middywere as indifferent to the frightened nativesabout them as the other men had been. The nativesawed and afraidcrouchedback among their hutsthe marines and the sailors kept their eyes frontandthe German captain opened his prayer-book. The debate in the bungalow was over.

"If you only had your uniformsir" said BradleySr.miserably.

"This is a little bit too serious for uniforms and bicycle medals"said Gordon. "And these men are used to gold lace."

He pushed his way through the nativesand stepped confidently across theplaza. The youngest middy saw him comingand nudged the one next him with hiselbowand he nudged the nextbut none of the officers movedbecause thecaptain had begun to read.

"One minuteplease" called Gordon.

He stepped out into the hollow square formed by the marinesand raised hishelmet to the captain.

"Do you speak English or French?" Gordon said in French; "I donot understand German."

 

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The captain lowered the book in his hands and gazed reflectively at Gordonthrough his spectaclesand made no reply.

"If I understand this" said the younger mantrying to be veryimpressive and polite"you are laying claim to this landin behalf of theGerman Government."

The captain continued to observe him thoughtfullyand then said"Thatiss so" and then asked"Who are you?"

"I represent the King of this islandOllypybuswhose people you seearound you. I also represent the United States Governmentthat does nottolerate a foreign power near her coastsince the days of President Monroe andbefore. The treaty you have made with Messenwah is an absurdity. There is onlyone king with whom to treatand he -- -- "

The captain turned to one of his officers and said somethingand thenaftergiving another curious glance at Gordonraised his book and continued readingin a deepunruffled monotone. The officer whispered an orderand two of themarines stepped out of lineand dropping the muzzles of their musketspushedGordon back out of the enclosureand left him there with his lips whiteandtrembling all over with indignation. He would

 

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have liked to have rushed back into the lines and broken the captain'sspectacles over his sun-tanned nose and cheeksbut he was quite sure this wouldonly result in his getting shotor in his being made ridiculous before thenativeswhich was almost as bad; so he stood still for a momentwith his bloodchoking himand then turned and walked back to where the King and Stedman werewhispering together. Just as he turnedone of the men pulled the halyardstheball of bunting ran up into the airbobbedtwitchedand turnedand brokeinto the folds of the German flag. At the same moment the marines raised theirmuskets and fired a volleyand the officers saluted and the sailors cheered.

"Do you see that?" cried Stedmancatching Gordon's humortoOllypybus; "that means that you are no longer kingthat strange people arecoming here to take your landand to turn your people into servantsand todrive you back into the mountains. Are you going to submit? are you going to letthat flag stay where it is?"

Messenwah and Ollypybus gazed at one another with fearfulhelpless eyes."We are afraid" Ollypybus cried; "we do not know what we shoulddo."

"What do they say?"

 

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"They say they do not know what to do."

"I know what I'd do" cried Gordon. "If I were not an AmericanconsulI'd pull down their old flagand put a hole in their boat and sinkher."

"WellI'd wait until they get under way before you do either of thosethings" said Stedmansoothingly. "That captain seems to be a man ofmuch determination of character."

"But I will pull it down" cried Gordon. "I will resignasTravis did. I am no longer consul. You can be consul if you want to. I promoteyou. I am going up a step higher. I mean to be king. Tell those two" heran onexcitedly"that their only course and only hope is in me; thatthey must make me ruler of the island until this thing is over; that I willresign again as soon as it is settledbut that someone must act at onceand ifthey are afraid toI am notonly they must give me authority to act for them.They must abdicate in my favor."

"Are you in earnest?" gasped Stedman.

"Don't I talk as if I were?" demanded Gordonwiping theperspiration from his forehead.

"And can I be consul?" said Stedmancheerfully.

"Of course. Tell them what I propose to do."

 

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Stedman turned and spoke rapidly to the two kings. The people gathered closerto hear.

The two rival monarchs looked at one another in silence for a momentandthen both began to speak at oncetheir counsellors interrupting them andmumbling their guttural comments with anxious earnestness. It did not take themvery long to see thatthey were all of one mindand then they both turned toGordon and dropped on one kneeand placed his hands on their foreheadsandStedman raised his cap.

"They agree" he explainedfor it was but pantomime to Albert."They salute you as a ruler; they are calling you Tellamanwhich meanspeacemaker. The Peacemakerthat is your title. I hope you will deserve itbutI think they might have chosen a more appropriate one."

"Then I'm really King?" demanded Albertdecidedly"and I cando what I please? They give me full power. Quickdo they?"

"Yesbut don't do it" begged Stedman"and just remember Iam American consul nowand that is a much superior being to a crowned monarch;you said so yourself."

Albert did not reply to thisbut ran across the plazafollowed by the twoBradleys. The boats had gone.

 

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"Hoist that flag beside the brass cannon" he cried"andstand ready to salute it when I drop this one."

BradleyJr.grasped the halyards of the flagwhich he had forgotten toraise and salute in the morning in all the excitement of the arrival of theman-of-war. BradleySr.stood by the brass cannonblowing gently on hislighted fuse. The Peacemaker took the halyards of the German flag in his twohandsgave a quicksharp tugand down came the redwhiteand black piece ofbuntingand the next moment young Bradley sent the Stars and Stripes up intheir place. As it roseBradley's brass cannon barked merrily like a littlebull-dogand the Peacemaker cheered.

"Why don't you cheerStedman?" he shouted. "Tell those peopleto cheer for all they are worth. What sort of an American consul are you?"

Stedman raised his arm half-heartedly to give the timeand opened his mouth;but his arm remained fixed and his mouth openwhile his eyes stared at theretreating boat of the German man-of-war. In the stern sheets of this boat thestout German captain was struggling unsteadily to his feet; he raised his armand waved it to someone on the great man-of-waras though giving an order. Thenatives looked from Stedman to the

 

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boatand even Gordon stopped in his cheeringand stood motionlesswatching.They had not very long to wait. There was a puff of white smokeand a flashand then a loud reportand across the water came a great black ball skippinglightly through and over the wavesas easily as a flat stone thrown by a boy.It seemed to come very slowly. At least it came slowly enough for everyone tosee that it was coming directly toward the brass cannon. The Bradleys certainlysaw thisfor they ran as fast as they couldand kept on running. The ballcaught the cannon under its mouth and tossed it in the airknocking theflagpole into a dozen piecesand passing on through two of the palm-coveredhuts.

"Great HeavensGordon!" cried Stedman; "they are firing onus."

But Gordon's face was radiant and wild.

"Firing on us!" he cried. "On us! Don't you see? Don'tyou understand? What do we amount to? They have fired on the Americanflag! Don't you see what that means? It means war. A great international war.And I am a war-correspondent at last!" He ran up to Stedman and seized himby the arm so tightly that it hurt.

"By three o'clock" he said"they will know in the officewhat has happened. The country will

 

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know it to-morrow when the paper is on the street; people will read it all overthe world. The Emperor will hear of it at breakfast; the President will cablefor further particulars. He will get them. It is the chance of a lifetimeandwe are on the spot!"

Stedman did not hear this; he was watching the broadside of the ship to seeanother puff of white smokebut there came no such sign. The two rowboats wereraisedthere was a cloud of black smoke from the funnela creaking of chainssounding faintly across the waterand the ship started at half-speed and movedout of the harbor. The Opekians and the Hillmen fell on their kneesor todancingas best suited their sense of reliefbut Gordon shook his head.

"They are only going to land the marines" he said; "perhapsthey are going to the spot they stopped at beforeor to take up anotherposition farther out at sea. They will land men and then shell the townand theland forces will march here and co-operate with the vesseland everybody willbe taken prisoner or killed. We have the centre of the stageand we are makinghistory."

"I'd rather read it than make it" said Stedman. "You've gotus in a senselesssilly positionGordonand a mighty unpleasant one. And forno

 

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reason that I can seeexcept to make copy for your paper."

"Tell those people to get their things together" said Gordon"and march back out of danger into the woods. Tell Ollypybus I am going tofix things all right; I don't know just how yetbut I willand now come afterme as quickly as you can to the cable office. I've got to tell the paper allabout it."

It was three o'clock before the "chap at Octavia" answeredStedman's signalling. Then Stedman delivered Gordon's messageand immediatelyshut off all connectionbefore the Octavia operator could question him. Gordondictated his message in this way: --

"Begin with the date line`OpekiJune 22.'

"At seven o'clock this morningthe captain and officers of the Germanman-of-war Kaiser went through the ceremony of annexing this island in the nameof the German Emperorbasing their right to do so on an agreement made with aleader of a wandering tribe known as the Hillmen. King Ollypybusthe presentmonarch of Opekidelegated his authorityas also did the leader of theHillmento King Tellamanor the Peacemakerwho tore down the German flagandraised that of the United States in its place. At the same moment the flag wassaluted by the battery. This

 

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salutebeing mistaken for an attack on the Kaiserwas answered by that vessel.Her first shot took immediate effectcompletely destroying the entire batteryof the Opekianscutting down the American flagand destroying the houses ofthe people -- -- "

"There was only one brass cannon and two huts" expostulatedStedman.

"Wellthat was the whole batterywasn't it?" asked Gordon"and two huts is plural. I said houses of the people. I couldn't say twohouses of the people. Just you send this as you get it. You are not an Americanconsul at the present moment. You are an under-paid agent of a cable companyand you send my stuff as I write it. The American residents have taken refuge inthe consulate -- that's us" explained Gordon"and the Englishresidents have sought refuge in the woods -- that's the Bradleys. King Tellaman-- that's me -- declares his intention of fighting against the annexation. Theforces of the Opekians are under the command of Captain Thomas Bradley -- Iguess I might as well make him a colonel -- of Colonel Thomas Bradleyof theEnglish army.

"The American consul says -- Nowwhat do you sayStedman? Hurry upplease" asked Gordon"and say something good and strong."

 

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"You get me all mixed up" complained Stedmanplaintively."Which am I nowa cable operator or the American consul?"

"Consulof course. Say something patriotic and about your determinationto protect the interests of your governmentand all that." Gordon bit theend of his pencil impatientlyand waited.

"I won't do anything of the sortGordon" said Stedman; "youare getting me into an awful lot of troubleand yourself too. I won't say aword."

"The American consul" read Gordonas his pencil wriggled acrossthe paper"refuses to say anything for publication until he hascommunicated with the authorities at Washingtonbut from all I can learn hesympathizes entirely with Tellaman. Your correspondent has just returned from anaudience with King Tellamanwho asks him to inform the American people that theMonroe doctrine will be sustained as long as he rules this island. I guessthat's enough to begin with" said Gordon. "Now send that off quickand then get away from the instrument before the man in Octavia begins to askquestions. I am going out to precipitate matters."

Gordon found the two kings sitting dejectedly side by sideand gazing grimlyupon the disorder of the villagefrom which the people were taking

 

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Made Himself King their leave as quickly as they could get their fewbelongings piled upon the ox-carts. Gordon walked among themhelping them inevery way he couldand tastingin their subservience and gratitudethe sweetsof sovereignty. When Stedman had locked up the cable office and rejoined himhebade him tell Messenwah to send three of his youngest men and fastest runnersback to the hills to watch for the German vessel and see where she wasattempting to land her marines.

"This is a tremendous chance for descriptive writingStedman"said Gordonenthusiastically; "all this confusion and excitementand thepeople leaving their homesand all that. It's like the people getting out ofBrussels before Waterlooand then the scene at the foot of the mountainswhilethey are camping out thereuntil the Germans leave. I never had a chance likethis before."

It was quite dark by six o'clockand none of the three messengers had as yetreturned. Gordon walked up and down the empty plaza and looked now at thehorizon for the man-of-warand again down the road back of the village. Butneither the vessel nor the messengers bearing word of her appeared. The nightpassed without any incidentand in the morning Gordon's impatience

 

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became so great that he walked out to where the villagers were in camp andpassed on half way up the mountainbut he could see no sign of the man-of-war.He came back more restless than beforeand keenly disappointed.

"If something don't happen before three o'clockStedman" he said"our second cablegram will have to consist of glittering generalities And alengthy interview with King Tellamanby himself."

Nothing did happen. Ollypybus and Messenwah began to breathe more freely.They believed the new king had succeeded in frightening the German vessel awayforever. But the new king upset their hopes by telling them that the Germans hadundoubtedly already landedand had probably killed the three messengers.

"Now then" he saidwith pleased expectationas Stedman and heseated themselves in the cable office at three o'clock"open it up andlet's find out what sort of an impression we have made."

Stedman's faceas the answer came in to his first message of greetingwasone of strangely marked disapproval.

"What does he say?" demanded Gordonanxiously.

"He hasn't done anything but swear yet" answered Stedmangrimly.

 

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"What is he swearing about?"

"He wants to know why I left the cable yesterday. He says he has beentrying to call me up for the last twenty-four hoursever since I sent mymessage at three o'clock. The home office is jumping madand want medischarged. They won't do thatthough" he saidin a cheerful aside"because they haven't paid me my salary for the last eight months. He says-- great Scott! this will please youGordon -- he says that there have beenover two hundred queries for matter from papers all over the United Statesandfrom Europe. Your paper beat them on the newsand now the home office is packedwith San Francisco reportersand the telegrams are coming in every minuteandthey have been abusing him for not answering themand he says that I'm a fool.He wants as much as you can sendand all the details. He says all the paperswill have to put `By Yokohama Cable Company' on the top of each message theyprintand that that is advertising the companyand is sending the stock up. Itrose fifteen points on 'change in San Francisco to-dayand the president andthe other officers are buying -- -- "

"OhI don't want to hear about their old company" snapped outGordonpacing up and down in despair. "What am I to do? that's what I want

 

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to know. Here I have the whole country stirred up and begging for news. On theirknees for itand a cable all to myselfand the only man on the spotandnothing to say. I'd just like to know how long that German idiot intends to waitbefore he begins shelling this town and killing people. He has put me in a mostabsurd position."

"Here's a message for youGordon" said Stedmanwithbusiness-like calm. "Albert GordonCorrespondent" he read: "TryAmerican consul. First message 0. K.; beat the country; can take all you send.Give names of foreign residents massacredand fuller account blowing up palace.Dodge."

The expression on Gordon's face as this message was slowly read off to himhad changed from one of gratified pride to one of puzzled consternation.

"What's he mean by foreign residents massacredand blowing up ofpalace?" asked Stedmanlooking over his shoulder anxiously. "Who isDodge?"

"Dodge is the night editor" said Gordonnervously. "Theymust have read my message wrong. You sent just what I gave youdidn'tyou?" he asked.

"Of course I did" said Stedmanindignantly. "I didn't sayanything about the massacre of

 

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anybodydid I?" asked Gordon. "I hope they are not improving on myaccount. What am I to do? This is getting awful. I'll have to go out andkill a few people myself. Ohwhy don't that Dutch captain begin to dosomething! What sort of a fighter does he call himself? He wouldn't shoot at aschool of porpoises. He's not -- -- "

"Here comes a message to Leonard T. TravisAmerican consulOpeki" read Stedman. "It's raining messages to-day. `Send fulldetails of massacre of American citizens by German sailors.' Secretary of --great Scott!" gasped Stedmaninterrupting himself and gazing at hisinstrument with horrified fascination -- "the Secretary of State."

"That settles it" roared Gordonpulling at his hair and buryinghis face in his hands. "I have got to kill some of them now."

"Albert GordonCorrespondent" read Stedmanimpressivelylikethe voice of Fate. "Is Colonel Thomas Bradley commanding native forces atOpekiColonel Sir Thomas Kent-Bradley of Crimean war fame? Correspondent LondonTimesSan Francisco Press Club."

"Go ongo on!" said Gordondesperately. "I'm getting used toit now. Go on!"

"American consulOpeki" read Stedman.

 

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"Home Secretary desires you to furnish list of names English residentskilled during shelling of Opeki by ship of war Kaiserand estimate of amountproperty destroyed. StoughtonBritish EmbassyWashington."

"Stedman!" cried Gordonjumping to his feetthere's a mistakehere somewhere. These people cannot all have made my message read like that.Someone has altered itand now I have got to make these people here live up tothat messagewhether they like being massacred and blown up or not. Don'tanswer any of those messages except the one from Dodge; tell him things havequieted down a bitand that I'll send four thousand words on the flight of thenatives from the villageand their encampment at the foot of the mountainsandof the exploring party we have sent out to look for the German vessel; and now Iam going out to make something happen."

Gordon said that he would be gone for two hours at leastand as Stedman didnot feel capable of receiving any more nerve-stirring messageshe cut off allconnection with Octavia by saying"Good-by for two hours" andrunning away from the office. He sat down on a rock on the beachand mopped hisface with his handkerchief.

"After a man has taken nothing more exciting

 

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than weather reports from Octavia for a year" he soliloquized"it'sa bit disturbing to have all the crowned heads of Europe and their secretariescalling upon you for details of a massacre that never came off."

At the end of two hours Gordon returned from the consulate with a mass ofmanuscript in his hand.

"Here's three thousand words" he saiddesperately. "I neverwrote more and said less in my life. It will make them weep at the office. I hadto pretend that they knew all that had happened so far; they apparently do knowmore than we doand I have filled it full of prophesies of more trouble aheadand with interviews with myself and the two ex-Kings. The only news element init isthat the messengers have returned to report that the German vessel is notin sightand that there is no news. They think she has gone for good. Supposeshe hasStedman" he groanedlooking at him helplessly"what amI going to do?"

"Wellas for me" said Stedman"I'm afraid to go near thatcable. It's like playing with a live wire. My nervous system won't stand manymore such shocks as those they gave us this morning."

Gordon threw himself down dejectedly in a

 

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chair in the officeand Stedman approached his instrument gingerlyas thoughit might explode.

"He's swearing again" he explainedsadlyin answer to Gordon'slook of inquiry. "He wants to know when I am going to stop running awayfrom the wire. He has a stack of messages to sendhe saysbut I guess he'dbetter wait and take your copy first; don't you think so?"

"YesI do" said Gordon. "I don't want any more messages thanI've had. That's the best I can do" he saidas he threw his manuscriptdown beside Stedman. "And they can keep on cabling until the wire burns redhotand they won't get any more."

There was silence in the office for some timewhile Stedman looked overGordon's copyand Gordon stared dejectedly out at the ocean.

"This is pretty poor stuffGordon" said Stedman. "It's likegiving people milk when they want brandy."

"Don't you suppose I know that?" growled Gordon. "It's thebest I can doisn't it? It's not my fault that we are not all dead now. I can'tmassacre foreign residents if there are no foreign residentsbut I can commitsuicidethoughand I'll do it if something don't happen."

There was a long pausein which the silence of

 

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the office was only broken by the sound of the waves beating on the coral reefsoutside. Stedman raised his head wearily.

"He's swearing again" he said; "he says this stuff of yoursis all nonsense. He says stock in the Y.C.C. has gone up to one hundred and twoand that owners are unloading and making their fortunesand that this sort ofdescriptive writing is not what the company want."{sic}

"What's he think I'm here for?" cried Gordon. "Does he think Ipulled down the German flag and risked my neck half a dozen times and had myselfmade King just to boom his Yokohama cable stock? Confound him! You might atleast swear back. Tell him just what the situation is in a few words. Herestopthat rigmarole to the paperand explain to your home office that we areawaiting developmentsand thatin the meanwhilethey must put up with thebest we can send them. Wait; send this to Octavia."

Gordon wrote rapidlyand read what he wrote as rapidly as it was written.

"OperatorOctavia. You seem to have misunderstood my first message. Thefacts in the case are these. A German man-of-war raised a flag on this island.It was pulled down and the American flag raised in its place and saluted by abrass cannon.

 

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The German man-of-war fired once at the flag and knocked it downand thensteamed away and has not been seen since. Two huts were upsetthat is all thedamage done; the battery consisted of the one brass cannon before mentioned. Nooneeither native or foreignhas been massacred. The English residents are twosailors. The American residents are the young man who is sending you this cableand myself. Our first message was quite true in substancebut perhapsmisleading in detail. I made it so because I fully expected much more to happenimmediately. Nothing has happenedor seems likely to happenand that is theexact situation up to date. Albert Gordon."

"Now" he askedafter a pause"what does he say tothat?"

"He doesn't say anything" said Stedman.

"I guess he has fainted. Here it comes" he added in the samebreath. He bent toward his instrumentand Gordon raised himself from his chairand stood beside him as he read it off. The two young men hardly breathed in theintensity of their interest.

"Dear Stedman" he slowly read aloud. "You and your youngfriend are a couple of fools. If you had allowed me to send you the messagesawaiting transmission here to youyou would not

 

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have sent me such a confession of guilt as you have just done. You had betterleave Opeki at once or hide in the hills. I am afraid I have placed you in asomewhat compromising position with the companywhich is unfortunateespecially asif I am not mistakenthey owe you some back pay. You should havebeen wiser in your dayand bought Y.C.C. stock when it was down to five centsas `yours truly' did. You are notStedmanas bright a boy as some. And as foryour friendthe war-correspondenthe has queered himself for life. You seemydear Stedmanafter I had sent off your first messageand demands for furtherdetails came pouring inand I could not get you at the wire to supply themItook the liberty of sending some on myself."

"Great Heavens!" gasped Gordon.

Stedman grew very white under his tanand the perspiration rolled on hischeeks.

"Your message was so general in its naturethat it allowed myimagination full playand I sent on what I thought would please the papersandwhat was much more important to mewould advertise the Y.C.C. stock. ThisI have been doing while waiting for material from you. Not having a clear ideaof the dimensions or population of Opekiit is possible that I have done youand your newspaper

 

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friend some injustice. I killed off about a hundred American residentstwohundred Englishbecause I do not like the Englishand a hundred French. I blewup old Ollypybus and his palace with dynamiteand shelled the citydestroyingsome hundred thousand dollars' worth of propertyand then I waited anxiouslyfor your friend to substantiate what I had said. This he has most unkindlyfailed to do. I am very sorrybut much more so for him than for myselffor Imy dear friendhave cabled on to a man in San Franciscowho is one of thedirectors of the Y.C.C.to sell all my stockwhich he has done at one hundredand twoand he is keeping the money until I come. And I leave Octavia thisafternoon to reap my just reward. I am in about twenty thousand dollars on yourlittle warand I feel grateful. So much so that I will inform you that the shipof war Kaiser has arrived at San Franciscofor which port she sailed directlyfrom Opeki. Her captain has explained the real situationand offered to makeevery amend for the accidental indignity shown to our flag. He says he aimed atthe cannonwhich was trained on his vesseland which had first fired on him.But you must knowmy dear Stedmanthat before his arrivalwar-vesselsbelonging to the several powers mentioned in my revised despatches

 

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had started for Opeki at full speedto revenge the butchery of the foreignresidents. A wordmy dear young friendto the wise is sufficient. I amindebted to you to the extent of twenty thousand dollarsand in return I giveyou this kindly advice. Leave Opeki. If there is no other wayswim. But leaveOpeki."

The sunthat nightas it sank below the line where the clouds seemed totouch the seamerged them both into a blazingblood-red curtainand coloredthe most wonderful spectacle that the natives of Opeki had ever seen. Six greatships of warstretching out over a league of seastood blackly out against thered backgroundrolling and risingand leaping forwardflinging back smoke andburning sparks up into the air behind themand throbbing and panting likeliving creatures in their race for revenge. From the south came a three-deckedvessela great island of floating steelwith a flag as red as the angry skybehind itsnapping in the wind. To the south of it plunged two long low-lyingtorpedo-boatsflying the French tri-colorand still farther to the northtowered three magnificent hulls of the White Squadron. Vengeance was written onevery curve and lineon each straining engine-rodand on each polishedgun-muzzle.

 

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And in front of thesea clumsy fishing-boat rose and fell on each passingwave. Two sailors sat in the sternholding the rope and tillerand in the bowwith their backs turned forever toward Opekistood two young boystheir faceslit by the glow of the setting sun and stirred by the sight of the great enginesof war plunging past them on their errand of vengeance.

"Stedman" said the elder boyin an awe-struck whisperand with awave of his hand"we have not lived in vain."