xt7z610vr210 https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7z610vr210/data/mets.xml Page, Thomas Nelson, 1853-1922. 190618  books b92-230-31280747v7 English C. Scribner's sons, : New York : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Novels, stories, sketches, and poems of Thomas Nelson Page (vol. 7) text Novels, stories, sketches, and poems of Thomas Nelson Page (vol. 7) 1906 2002 true xt7z610vr210 section xt7z610vr210 














PLANTATION

  EDITION

    V mt4 V

VOLUMVE VII

 


























































" Sit down. I want to talk to you."
              (PAGE I43)

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A THE NOVELS, STORIES,
SKETCHES AND POEMS OF



THOMAS NELSON



PAGE 4



   GORDON KEITH

          11







CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
NEW YORK, & +  + 1908

 


























Copyright, 1902, 1906. by
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS


  -AU Rights Reserved

 







                  CONTENTS

CHAPTER                                      PAGE
   XIX WICKERSHAM AND PHRONY.                    I
   xx MRS. LANCASTER'S WIDOWHOOD  . . . . . . 38
   XXI THE DIRECTORS' MEETINC.. . . . . . . . 68
   XXII MRS. CREAMER'S BALL.. . . . . . . . . 88
 XXIII GENERAL KEITH VISE 'S STRANGE LANDS  . . . 125
 XXIV KEITH TRIES HIS FORrUNES IN ANOTHER LAND  . 144
 XXV THE DINNER AT MRS. WICKERSHAM'S . . . . . 164
 XXVI A MISUNDERSTANDING.  . . . . . . . . . 189
 XXVII PHRONY TRIPPER AND) THE REV. MR. RIMMER . .215
 XXVIII ALICE LANCASTER FINDS PHRONY .  . . . . .239
 XXIX THE MARRIAGE CER-IFICATE . . . . . . . . 257
 XXX "SNUGGLERS' ROOST'.. . . . . . . . . . 266
 XXXI TERPY'S LAST DANCE. AND WICKERSHAM'S FINAL
        THROW   ... .  . . . . . .  . . .   . 286
XxXII THE RUN ON THE BANK.. . . . . . . . . 325
XXXIII RECONCILIATION.... .  . . . . . .    . 356
XXXIV THE CONSULTATION . . . . . . . . . . . 383
XXXV THE MISTRESS OF THE LAWNS . . . . . . . 394
XXXVI THE OLD IDEAL.. . . . . . . . . . . . 420



v

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                 ILLUSTRATIONS
                     VOLUME 11

              From Drawirgs by George Wright


"SIT DOWN. I WANT TO TALK TO YOU '- . , . . .     Frcntispiece
                                             FACING PAG;E
"IT IS HEI 'TIS HEI SHE CRIED'....... .  . .. .   . 245

"LOIS-I HAVE COME" HE BEGAN ..... .   . . .. .   . 449

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GORDON KEITH
    VOL II.

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       GORDON KEITH


             CHAPTER XIX
          WICKERSHAM AND PHRONY

Kea EITH returned home and soon found him-
     self a much bigger man in New Leeds
than when he went away. The mine opened on
the Rawson property began to give from the
first large promises of success.
  Keith picked up a newspaper one day a little
later. It announced in large head-lines, as be-
fitted the chronicling of such an event, the death
of Mr. William Lancaster, capitalist. He had
died suddenly in his office. His wife, it was
stated, was in Europe and had been cabled the
sad intelligence. There was a sketch of his life
and also of that of his wife. Their marriage, it
was recalled, had been one of the "romances"
of the season a few years before. He had taken
society by surprise by carrying off one of the
belles of the season, the beautiful Miss Yorke.
The rest of the notice was taken up in con-jec-
VOL. 11.

 

              GORDON KEITH
tures as to the amount of his property and the
sums he would be likely to leave to the various
charitable institutions of which he had always
been a liberal patron.
  Keith laid the paper down on his knee and
went off in a revery. Mr. Lancaster was dead!
Of all the men he had met in New York he had
in some ways struck him the most. He had ap-
peared to him the most perfect type of a gen-
tleman; self-contained, and inclined to be cold,
but a man of elegance as well as of brains. He
felt that he ought to be sorry Mr. Lancaster
was dead, and he tried to be sorry for his wife.
He started to write her a letter of condolence,
but stopped at the first line, and could get no
further. Yet several times a day, for many days,
she recurred to him, each time giving him a feel-
ing of dissatisfaction, until at length he was
able to banish her from his mind.
  Prosperity is like the tide. It comes, each
wave higher and higher, until it almost appears
that it will never end, and then suddenly it
seems to ebb a little, comes up again, recedes
again, and, before one knows it, is passing away
as surely as it came.
  Just when Keith thought that his tide was in
full flood, it began to ebb without any apparent
                     2

 

      WICKERSHA.M AND PHRONY
cause, and before he was aware of it, the pros-
perity which for the Last few years had been
setting in so steadily in those mountain regions
had passed away, and New Leeds and he were
left stranded upon the rocks.
  Rumor came down to New Leeds from the
North. The Wickersham enterprises were said
to be hard hit by some of the failures which had
occurred.
  A few weeks later Keith heard that Mr. Aaron
Wickersham was dead. The clerks said that he
had had a quarrel with his son the day after the
panic and had fallen in an apoplectic fit soon
afterwards. But then the old clerks had been
discharged immediately after his death. Young
Wickersham said he did not want any dead-
wood in his offices. Also he did not want any
dead property. Among his first steps was the
sale of the old Keith plantation. Gordon, learn-
ing that it was for sale, got a friend to lend him
the money and bought it in, though it would
scarcely have been known for the same place.
The mansion had been stripped of its old fur-
niture and pictures soon after General Keith
had left there, and the plantation had gone down.
  Rumor also said that Wickersham's affairs
were in a bad way. Certainly the new head of
                     3

 

             GORDONT KEITH
the house gave no sign of it. He opened a yet
larger office and began operations on a more ex-
tensive scale. The Clarion said that his South-
ern enterprises would be pushed actively, and
that the stock of the Great Gun Mine would soon
be on the New York Exchange.
  Ferdy Wickersham suddenly returned to New
Leeds, and New Leeds showed his presence.
Machinery was shipped sufficient to run a dozen
mines. He not only pushed the old mines, but
opened a new one. It was on a slip of land that
lay between the Rawson property and the stream
that ran down from the mountain. Some could
not understand why he should run the shaft
there, unless it was that he was bent on cutting
the Rawson property off from the stream. It
was a perilous location for a shaft, and Mathe-
son, the superintendent, had protested against
it.
  Matheson 's objections proved to be well
founded. The mine was opened so near the
stream that water broke through into it, as Ma-
theson had predicted, and though a strong wall
was built, the water still got in, and it was diffi-
cult to keep it pumped out sufficiently to work.
Some of the men struck. It was known that
Wickersham had nearly come to a rupture with
                     4

 

      WICKERSHAM AND PHRONY
the hard-headed Scoclchman over it; but Wick-
ersham won. Still, the coal did not come.
It was asserted that the shafts had failed to
reach coal. Wickersham laughed and kept
on-kept on till coal did come. It was her-
alded abroad. The Clarion devoted columns to
the success of the "Great Gun Mine" and
Wickersham.
  Wickersham naturally showed his triumph.
He celebrated it in a great banquet at the New
Windsor, at which speeches were made which
likened him to Napoleon and several other gen-
erals. Mr. Plume declared him "greater than
Themistocles, for he could play the lute and
make a small city a great one."
  Wickersham himself made a speech, in which
he professed his joy that he had silenced the
tongue of slander and wrested from detraction
a victory not for himself, but for New Leeds.
His enemies and the enemies of New Leeds
were, he declared, the same. They would soon
see his enemies suing for aid. He was applauded
to the echo. All this and much more was irn the
Clarion next day, with some very pointed sa-
tire about "rival mines."
Keith, meantime, wras busy poring over plats
and verifying lines.
                    5

 

            GORDON KEITH
  The old squire came to town a morning or two
later.
  " I see Mr. WVickersham 's struck coal at last, "
he said to Keith, after he had got his pipe lit.
His face showed that he was brimming with in-
formation.
  "Yes-our coal."   Keith showed him the
plats. "He is over our line-I do not know
just where, but in here somewhere."
  The old fellow put on his spectacles and
looked long and carefully.
  "He says he owns it all; that he'll have us
suin' for pardon I"
  "'Suing for damages."
  The old squire gave a chuckle of satisfaction.
"He is in and about there." He pointed with
a stout and horny finger.
  "How did you know"
  "Well, you see, little Dave Dennison-you
remember Dave You taught him."
  "Perfectly-I mean, I remember him per-
fectly. He is now in New York."
  "Yes. Well, Dave he used to be sweet on
Phrony, and he seems to be still sweet on her."
Mr. Keith nodded.
"Well, of course, Phrony she's lookin' higher
than Dave--but you know how women air"
                    6

 

     WICKERSHAM AND PHRONY
  "I don't know-I know they are strange crea-
tures," said Keith, almost with a sigh, as his
past with one woman caine vividly before him.
  "Well, they won't let a man go, noway, not
entirely-unless he's in the way. So, though
Phrony don't keer nothin' in the world about
Dave, she sort o' kep' him on-an '-off-like till
this here young Wickersham come down here.
You know, I think she and him like each ot'l.ier 
He's been to see her twicet and is always a-
writin'to her " His voice had an inquiry in it;
but Keith took no notice of it, and the old man
went on.
  "Well, since then she's sort of cooled off to
Dave-won't have him around-and Dave's got
sort of sour. Well, lie hates Wickersham, and
he up and told her t'other night 't Wickershami
was the biggest rascal in New York; that he had
'most broke his father and had put the stock of
this here new mine on the market, an' that he
didn't have coal enough in it to fill his hat; that
he'd been down in it an' that the coal all come
out of our mine."I
Keith's eyes glistened.
" Exactly. "
"'Well, with that she got so mad with Dave,
she wouldn't speak tc him; and Dave left, swear-

 

             GORDON KEITH
in' he'd settle Wickersham and show him up,
and he'll do it if he can."
  "Where is he" asked Keith, in some anx-
iety. "Tell him not to do anything till I see
him."
  "No; I got hold of him and straightened him
out. He told me all about it. He was right
mulch cut up. He jest cried about Phrony."
  Keith wrote a note to Wickersham. He re-
ferred to the current rumors that the cutting
had run over on their side, suggesting, however,
that it might have been by inadvertence.
  When this letter was received, Wickersham
was in conference with his superintendent, Mr.
Matheson. The interview had been somewhat
stormy, for the superintendent had just made
the very statement that Keith's note contained.
He was not in a placid frame of mind, for the
work was going badly; and Mr. Plume was
seated in an arm-chair listening to his report.
He did not like Plume, and had wished to speak
privately to Wickersham; but Wickersham had
told him to go ahead, that Plume was a friend
of his, and as much interested in the success of
the work as Matheson was. Plume's satisfac-
tion and nonchalant air vexed the Scotchman.
Just then Keith's note came, and Wickersham,
                     8

 

      WICKERSHAM AND PHRONY
after reading it, tossed it over first to Plume.
Plume read it and handed it back without the
least change of expression. Then Wickersham,
after some reflection, tossed it to Matheson.
  " That's right, I" he nodded, when he had read
it. "We are already over the line so far that
the men know it."
  Wickersham's temper gave way.
  "Well, I know it. Do you suppose I am so
ignorant as not to know anything But I am
not fool enough to give it away. You need not
go bleating around about it everywhere. "
  Plume's eye glistened with satisfaction.
  The superintendent's brow, which had
clouded, grew darker. He had already stood
much from this young man. He had followed his
orders in running the mine beyond the lines
shown on the plats; but he had accepted Wick-
ersham's statement that the lines were wrong,
not the workings.
  "I wush you to understand one thing, Mr.
Wickersham," he said. "I came here to su-
perintend your mines and to do my work like
an honest man; but I don't propose to soil my
hands with any dirrty dealings, or to engage in
any violation of the law; for I am a law-abiding,
God-fearing man, and before I'll do it I'll go."
                    9

 

             GORDON KEITH
  "Then you can go," said Wickersham, an-
grily. "Go, and be d-d to you! I will show
you that I know my own business. "
  " Then I will go. I do not think you do know
it. If you did, you would not-"
  "Never mind. I want no more advice from
you," snarled Wickersham.
  "I would like to have a letter saying that the
work that has been done since you took charge
has been under your express orders. "
  "I'll see you condemned first. I suppose it
was by my orders that the cutting ran so near
to the creek that that work had to be done to
keep the mine from being flooded"
  "It was, by your express orders."
  "I deny it. I suppose it was by my orders
that the men were set on to strike"
  "You were told of the danger and the proba-
ble consequences of your insisting."
  "Oh, you are always croaking-"
  "And I will croak once more," said the dis-
charged official. " You will never make that
mine pay, for there is no coal there. It is all on
the other side of the line. "
  "I won't! Well, I will show you. I, at least,
stand a better chance to make it pay than I
ever did before. I suppose you propose now to
                    10

 

      WICKERSHAM AND PHRONY
go over to Keith and tell him all you know about
our work. I imagine he would like to know it--
more than he knows already."
  "I am not in the habit of telling the private
affairs of my employers," said the man, coldly.
"He does not need any information from me.
He is not a fool. He knows it."
  "Oh, he does, does he! Then you told him,"
asserted Wickersham, furiously.
  This was more than the Scotchman could bear.
He had already stood much, and his face might
have warned Wickersham. Suddenly it flamed.
He took one step forward, a long one, and
rammed his clinched and hairy fist under the
young man's nose.
  " You lie! And, -- you! you know you lie.
I'm a law-abiding, God-fearing man; but if you
don't take that back, I will break every bone in
your face. I've a miiad to do it anyhow."
  Wickersham rolled back out of his chair as
if the knotted fist under his nose had driven
him. His face was white as he staggered to his
feet.
  "I didn't mean-I don't say-. What do you
mean anyhow" he stammered.
"Take it back."   The foreman advanced
slowly.
                    11

 

             GORDON KEITH
  "Yes-I didn't mean anything. What are
you getting so mad about"
  The foreman cut him short with a fierce ges-
ture. " Write me that paper I want, and pay
me my money. "
  "Write what-"
  "That the lower shaft and the last drift was
cut by your order. Write it!" He pointed to
the paper on the desk.
  Wickersham sat down and wrote a few lines.
His hand trembled.
  "Here it is," I he said sullenly.
  "Now pay me," said the glowering Scotch-
man.
  The money was paid, and Matheson, without
a word, turned and walked out.
  "Do    him! I wish the mine had fallen in
on him," Wickersham growled.
  "You are well quit of him," said Mr. Plume,
consolingly.
  "I'll get even with him yet."
  "You have to answer your other friend," ob-
served Mr. Plume.
  "I'll answer him."  He seized a sheet of
paper and began to write, annotating it with
observations far from complimentary to Keith
and Matheson. He read the letter to Plume.
                    12

 

      WICKERSHAM AND PHRONY
It was a curt inquiry whether Mr. Keith meant
to make the charge t1hat he had crossed his line.
If so, Wickersham & Company knew their rem-
edy and would be glad to know at last the source
whence these slanderous reports had come.
  " That will settle him."
  Mr. Plume nodded. "It ought to do it."
  Keith's reply to this note was sent that night.
  It stated simply that he did make the charge,
and if Mr. Wickersbam wished it, he was pre-
pared to prove it.
  Wickersham 's face fell. "Matheson 's been
to him. "
  "Or some one else.," said Mr. Plume. "That
Bluffy hates you like. poison. You've got to do
something and do it quick. "
  Wickersham glanced up at Plume. He met
his eye steadily. Wickersham 's face showed
the shadow of a frown; then it passed, leaving
his face set and a shade paler. He looked at
Plume again and licked his lips. Plume's eye
was still on him.
  "What do you knowin" he asked Plume.
  "Only what others know. They all know it
or will soon. "
Wickersham's face settled more. He cursed
in a low voice and then relapsed into reflection.
                    13

 

             GORDON KEITH
  "Get up a strike," said Plume. "They are
ripe for it. Close her down and blow her up."
  Wickersham 's countenance changed, and pres-
ently his brow cleared.
  "It will serve them right. I'll let them know
who owns these mines. "
  Next morning there was posted a notice of a
cut of wages in the Wickersham mines. There
was a buzz of excitement in New Leeds and
anger among the mining population. At din-
ner-time there were meetings and much talk-
ing. That night again there were meetings and
whiskey and more talking,-louder talking,-
speeches and resolutions. Next morning a com-
mittee waited on Mr. Wickersham, who received
the men politely but coldly. He "thought he
knew how to manage his own business. They
must be aware that he had spent large sums
in developing property which had not yet begun
to pay. When it began to pay he would be
happy, etc. If they chose to strike, all right.
He could get others in their places."
  That night there were more meetings. Next
day the men did not go to work. By evening
many of them were drunk. There was talk of
violence. Bill Bluffy, who was now a miner,
was especially savage.
                    14

 

     WICKERSHAM AND PHRONY
  Keith was surprised, a few days later, as he
was passing along the street, to meet Euphronia
Tripper. He spoke to her cordially. She was
dressed showily and was handsomer than when
he saw her last. The color mounted her face
as he stopped her, and he wondered that 11ick-
ersham had not thought her pretty. When she
blushed she was almost a beauty. He asked
about her people at home, inquiring in a breath
when she came, where she was staying, how long
she was going to remain, etc.
  She answered the first questions gFbly
enough; but when he inquired as to the length
of her visit and where she was staying, she
appeared somewhat confused.
  "I have cousins he-re, the Turleys."
  "Oh! You are witL Mr. Turlev " Keith felt
relieved.
  "Ur-no-I am not staying with them. I am
with some other friends." Her color was com-
ing and going.
"'What is their name  "
"Their name Oh--uh-I don't know their
names. "
"Don't know their names!"
"No. You see it's a sort of private board-
ing-house, and they took me in."
                    15

 

            GORDON KEITH
  "Oh, I thought you said they were friends,"
said Keith.
  "Why, yes, they are, but-I have forgotten
their names. Don't you understand"
  Keith did not understand.
  "I only came a few days ago, and I am going
right away."
  Keith passed on. Euphronia had clearly not
changed her nature. Insensibly, Keith thought
of Ferdy Wickersham. Old Rawson's conversa-
tion months before recurred to him. He knew
that the girl was vain and light-headed. He also
knew Wickersham.
  He mentioned to Mr. Turley having seen the
girl in town, and the old fellow went immedi-
ately and took her out of the little boarding-
house where she had put up, and brought her
to his home.
  Keith was not long in doubt as to the con-
nection between her presence and Wicker-
sham's.
  Several times he had occasion to call at Mr.
Turley's. On each occasion he found Wicker-
sham there, and it was very apparent that lie
was not an unwelcome visitor.
It was evident to Keith that Wickersham was
trying to make an impression on the young girl.
                    16

 
      WICKERSHAM AND PHRONY
  That evening so long ago when he had come
on her and Wickersham in the old squire's or-
chard came back to him, and the stalwart old
countryman, with his plain ways, his stout pride,
his straight ideas, stood before him. He knew
his pride in the girl; how close she was to his
heart; and what a deadly blow it would be to
him should anything befall her. He knew,
moreover, how fiercely he would avenge any
injury to her.
  He determined to give Wickersham a hint of
the danger he was running, if, as he believed, he
was simply amusing 'himself with the girl. He
and Wickersham still kept up relations osten-
sibly friendly. Wick:ersham had told him he
was going back to New York on a certain day;
but three days later, as Keith was returning
late from his mines, he came on Wickersham
and Phrony in a byway outside of the town.
His arm was about her. They were so closely
engaged that they did not notice him until he
was on them. Phrony appeared much excited.
"Well, I will not go otherwise," Keith heard
her say. She turned h astily away as Keith came
up, and her face was scarlet with confusion, and
even Wickersham looked disconcerted.
  That night Keith waited for. Wickersham at
  VOL. II.         17

 

             GORDON KEITH
the hotel till a late hour, and when at length
Wickersham came in he met him.
  " I thought you were going back to New
York" he said.
  "I find it pleasanter here," said the young
man, with a significant look at him.
  "You appear to find it pleasa3At."
  "I always make it pleasant for myself wher-
ever I go, my boy. You are a Stoic; I prefer the
Epicurean philosophy. "
  "Yes And how about others "
  "Oh, I make it pleasant for them too. Didn 't
it look so to-day " The glance he gave him au-
thorized Keith to go on.
  "Did it ever occur to you that you might
make it too pleasant for them-for a time"'
  "Ah! I have thought of that. But that's
their lookout. "
  "Wickersham," said Keith, calmly, "that's
a very young girl and a very ignorant girl, and,
so far as I know, a very innocent one."
  "Doubtless you know!" said the other, inso-
lently.
  "Yes, I believe she is. Moreover, she comes
of very good and respectable people. Iler
grandfather-"
  "My dear boy, I don't care anything about
                    18

 

      WICKERSHAM AND PHRONY
the grandfather! It is only the granddaughter
I am interesting myself in. She is the only
pretty girl within a hundred miles of here, un-
less you except your old friend of the dance-
hall, and I always interest myself in the prettiest
woman about me."
  "Do you intend to marry her"
  Wickersham laughed, heartily and spontane-
ously.
  "Oh, come now, Keith. Are you going to
marry the dance-hal]. keeper, simply because
she has white teeth "
  Keith frowned a little.
  "Never mind about; me. Do you propose to
marry her She, at least, does not keep a dance-
hall. "
  "No; I shall leave that for you." His face
and tone were insolent, and Keith gripped his
chair. He felt himself flush. Then his blood
surged back; but he controlled himself and put
by the insolence for the moment.
  "Leave me out of the matter. Do you know
what you are doing" His voice was a little
unsteady.
  "I know at least whLt you are doing: interfer-
ing in my business. I know how to take care
of myself, and I don't need your assistance."
                    19

 

             GORDON KEITH
  "I was not thinking of you, but of her-"
  "That's the difference between us. I was,"
said Ferdy, coolly. He rolled a cigarette.
  "Well, you will have need to think of yourself
if you wrong that girl," said Keith. "For I
tell you now that if anything were to happen
to her, your life 'would not be worth a button in
these mountains.'
  "There are other places besides the moun-
tains," observed Wickersham. But Keith no-
ticed that he had paled a little and his voice had
lost some of its assurance.
  "I don't believe the world would be big
enough to hide you. I know two men who would
kill you on sight. "
  "Who is the other one" asked Wickershain.
  "I am not counting myself-yet," said Keith,
quietly. "It would not be necessary. The old
squire and Dave Dennison would take my life
if I interfered with their rights."
  "You are prudent," said Ferdy.
  "I am forbearing," said Keith.
  Wickersham's tone was as insolent as ever,
but as he leaned over and reached for a match,
Keith observed that his hand shook slightly.
And the eyes that were levelled at Keith through
the smoke of his cigarette were unsteady.
                     20

 

      WICKERSHAM AND PHRONY
  Next morning Ferdy Wickersham had a long
interview with Plume, and that night Mr. Plume
had a conference in his private office with a
man-a secret conference, to judge from the
care with which doors were locked, blinds pulled
down, and voices kept lowered. He was a stout,
youngish fellow, with a low forehead, lowering
eyes, and a sodden face. He might once have
been good-looking, but drink was written on -Mr.
William Bluffy now in ineffaceable characters.
Plume alternately cajoled him and hectored
him, trying to get his sconsent to some act wbicel
he was unwilling to perform.
  "I don't see the slightest danger in it," in-
sisted Plume, " and you did not use to be afraid.
Your nerves must be getting loose."
  The other man's eyes rested on him with
something like contempt.
  "My nerves 're all right. I ain't skeered;
but I don 't want to mix up in your - business.
If a man wants trouble with me, he can get it
and he knows how to do it. I don't like yer man
Wickersham-not a little bit. But I don't want
to do it that way. I'd like to meet him fair and
full on the street and settle which was the best
man. "
Plume began again. "You can't do that way
                    21

 

             GORDON KEITH
here now. That 's broke up. But the way
I tell you is the real way. " He pictured Wick-
ersham's wealth, his hardness toward his em-
ployees, his being a Yankee, his boast that he
would in- ure Keith and shut up his mine.
  "What 've you got against him " demanded
Mr. Bluffy. "I thought you and him was thick
as thieves"
  "It's a public benefit I'm after," declared
Plume, unblushingly. "I am for New Leeds
first, last, and all the time. "
  "You must think you are New Leeds," ob-
served Bluffy.
  Plume laughed.
  "I've got nothing against him particularly,
though he's injured me deeply. Hasn't he
thrown all the men out of work!" He pushed
the bottle over toward the other, and he poured
out another drink and tossed it off. "You
needn't be so easy about him. He's been mean
enough to you. Wasn't it him that gave the
description of you that night when you stopped
the stage "
  Bill Bluffy's face changed, and there was a
flash in his eye.
  "Who says I done it"
  Plume laughed. "I don't say you did it.
                    22

 

      WICKERSHAM AND PHRONY
You needn't get mad with me. He says you (lid
it. Keith said he didn't know what sort of man
it was. Wickersham described you so that
everybody knew you. I reckon if Keith had
back-stood him you'd have had a harder time
than you did."
  The cloud had gathered deeper on Bluffy's
brow. He took another drink.
  it-_ him! I'll blow up his-   mine and
him, too!" he growled. "How did you say
'twas to be done"
  Plume glanced around at the closed windows
and lowered his voice as he made certain ex-
planations.
  "I'll furnish the dynamite."
  "All right. Give me the money."
  But Plume demurred.
  " Not till it's done. I haven't any doubt about
your doing it," he explained quickly, seeing a
black look in Bluffy 's eyes. "But you know
yourself you're liable t c get full, and you mayn't
do it as well as you otherwise would."
  " Oh, if I say I'll do it, I'll do it."
  "You needn't be afraid of not getting your
money. "
  "I ain't afraid," said Bluffy, with an oath.
"If I don't get it I'll get blood." His eyes as
                    23

 

             GORDON KEITH
they rested on Plume had a sudden gleam in
them.
  When Wickersham and Plume met that night
the latter gave an account of his negotiation.
"It's all fixed," he said, "but it costs moie
than I expected-a lot more," he said slowly,
gauging Wickersham's views by his face.
  "How much more I told you my limit."
  "We had to do it," said Mr. Plume, without
stating the price.
  Wickersham swore.
  "He won't do it till he gets the cash," pur-
sued Plume. " But I'll be responsible for him, "
he added quickly, noting the change in Wicker-
sham's expression.
  Again Wickersham swore; and Plume
changed the subject.
  "How'd you come out" he asked.
  "When-what do you mean"
  Plume jerked his thumb over his shoulder.
"With the lady'"
  Wickersham  sniffed.  "All right."  He
drifted for a moment into reflection. "The lit-
tle fool 's got conscientious doubts," he said
presently, with a half-smile. " Won't go un-
less-." His eyes rested on Plume's with a
gauging expression in them.
                    24

 

     WICKERSHAM AND PHRONY
  "Well, why not That's natural enough.
She's been brought up right. They're proud as
anybody. Her grandfather-"
  "You're a fool !" said Wickersham, briefly.
  "You can get some one to go through a
ceremony for you that would satisfy her and
wouldn't peach afterwards-"
  " What a damned scoundrel you are, Plume!"
said Mr. Wickersham, coldly.
  Plume's expression was between a smile and
a scowl, but the smile was less pleasant than the
frown.
  "Get her to go to New York- When you've
got her there you've got her. She can't come
back. Or I could perform it myself I've been
a preacher-am one now," said Plume, without
noticing the interruption further than by a cold
gleam in his eyes.
Wickersham laughed derisively.
  "Oh, no, not that. I may be given to my own
diversions somewhat recklessly, but I'm not so
bad as to let you touch any one I-I take an in-
terest in. "
  "As you like," said Plume, curtly. "I just
thought it might be a convenience to you. I'd
help you out. I don't see 't you need be so -
squeamish. What you're doing ain't so pure
                    25

 

             GORDON KEITH
an' lofty 't you can set up for Marcus Aurelius
and St. Anthony at once."
  "At least, it's better than it would be if I let
you take a hand in it," sneered Wickersham.
  The following afternoon Wickersham left
New Leeds somewhat ostentatiously. A few
strikers standing sullenly about the station
jeered as he passed in. But lie took no notice
of them. He passed on to his train.
  A few nights later a tremendous explosion
shook the town, rattling the windows, awaken-
ing people from their beds, and calling the timid
and the curious into the streets.
  It was known next morning that some one
had blown up the Great Gun Mine, opened at
such immense cost. The dam that kept out the
water was blown up; the machinery had been
wrecked, and the mine was completely de-
stroyed.
  The Clarion denounced it as the deed of the
strikers. The strikers held a meeting and de-
nounced the charge as a foul slander; but the
Clarrion continued to denounce them as hostes
huamani generis.
  It was, however, rumored around that it was
not the strikers at all. One rumor even declared
that it was done by the connivance of the com-
                     26

 

     WICKERSHAM AND PHRONY
pany. It was said that Bill Bluffy had boasted
of it in his cups. But when Mr. Bluffy was
asked about it he denied the story in toto. H-e
wasn't such a     fool as to do such a thing
as that, he said. For the rest, he cursed Mr.
Plume with bell, book, and candle.
  A rumor came to Keith one morning a few
days later that Phrony Tripper had disap-
peared.
  She had left New Leeds more than a week
before, as was supposed by her relatives, the
Turleys, to pay a visit 1;o friends in the adjoin-
ing State before returning home. To others
she had said that she was going to the North
for a visit, whilst yet others affirmed that she
had given another destination. However this
might be, she had left not long after Wicker-
sham had taken his departure, and her leavi