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turned the tenth noiselessly, and reaching for the electric button, electric button, switched off the light. Immediately the door on the other side of the little room opened. For a moment they could see through the wicket into the main hall beyond. Then Then the door shut gently. "Sing song," said a soft voice in the darkness. "Sing song," repeated another decidedly feminine voice. "Come quickly the road is clear," translated Ma Kim, and without another word, the three left the room, Ah Quai in the center.
Quickly and silently they made. their way back. Most of the lights had gone out. The second door from the end was the only one that now glowed red round the keyhole. They reached it. It opened. A flood of electric light rushed
Chung Lung stepped quickly into the passage and softly drew the door to behind him. "Don't scream," he hissed, grabbing out into the darkness. Ma Kim felt his long, bony fingers close round her throat.
Then the girl showed what twelve months of Mission life had done for her. With a quick twist she threw both arms about Chung's neck, completely entangling him in her great red satin sleeves. "Go," she whispered, twisting her arms still tighter. She heard a little click, felt a quick puff of air, and knew that her companion had understood.
Chung Lung breathed heavily as he freed himself from the red satin arms. When he was quite free he took a stronger grip on Ma Kim's throat. "So, little Ah Quai," he chuckled, "your brave friends run quickly when you tell them." Then he began silently forcing Ma Kim back the way she had come. With all her strength she resisted. She must gain time for the others. Chung's fingers seemed to be closing down tighter and tighter. Ma Kim wondered vaguely whether he would beat her to death. She remembered very well what had happened three years before to another
siave girl who had tried to escape— and failed. Four steps now, only four. Just then a wild scream broke the stillness. The rickety old building shook to its foundations, as a series of heavy thuds, growing less and less, vanished in the distance below. With a fierce push Ma Kim and Chung Lung rolled over together into the darkness of of Ah Quai's room. Then the young man who ten minutes before had thrust Ah Quai to freedom stepped quickly in and turned up the light.
Chung's face went livid. His long fingers clutched wildly at the neck button of his heavily embroidered coat. Unable to speak, he mouthed like one of his own heathen gods. Then as he realized what had really happened, he lunged quickly at Ma Kim. But the young man was quicker. Stepping between the girl and the raving Chung, he loudly and distinctly defied him to take another step; but Chung gave a howl of rage and struck out again. Then the young man remembered the white men on the floor below, and drawing a police-whistle from his pocket blew three quick, sharp notes. Before the last note had died away the tiny room and passage clear to the hall door was choked with the terrified faces of the frightened Chinese who came pouring from parts of the building. As Chung jabbered wildly, pointing at the two in the corner, fear changed to anger. The furious crowd saw there were only two and began to close in. Ah Quai was lost. They might still save Ma Kim. One already had hold of the red satin coat, when the young man tore off the soft fedora and black wig he had worn all the evening. Miss John's own brown hair tumbled about her shoulders, and the crowd recognized the face of the hated Mission worker. "The she-devil, the she-devil," they screamed, shaking their yellow fists in her face; but they dared go no nearer. They knew only too well
a thick wad into his hand. But the Sergeant gave him a blow that sent him reeling among his countrymen. Sergeant gave them a blow that sent man on the squad that poor Chung could not be expected to know.
Two weeks later, Ah Fong, smiling and bland, came once more up the steps of the Methodist Mission and rang the bell. This time he stayed only a few minutes. When he emerge, he was neither smiling nor bland. The beautifu! Ah Quai was too well satisfied with the good Christian home he had provided to leave it for the still better one he promised in Bakersfield.
"It's that white devil," muttered the pious Fong as he came down the steps and turned up Washnitgon street. To this day Ah Fong never turns down Washington street when alone, for the morning after the rescue of Ah Quai, Chung Lung was closeted long with the head of the Hop Sing Tong. Many men in Chinatown would like to make $1000 for a few moments' work.
BY MABEL HAUGHTON BROWN
HIS is a story with two he
roes and only a hint of a heroine. Perhaps one hero should be called the villain, but the question is still undecided in the mind of the writer and is left to the kind discretion of the reader. When I told the story to Scroggs, my chum and confidant, he said:
"Man alive, no one could believe it."
"That's because it's true," I said, and Scroggs looked at me long and earnestly.
"Do you believe such rubbish?" he asked with the air of an insanity inspector.
"I tell you it happened," I affirm ed, "and I'm going to write it down." Scroggs blinked an eye.
"You'll be sent to Agnews," he said, and that is all the satisfaction. I got out of him-no queries-no wonderment-just cooly expressed
The attitude of Scroggs is not to be considered seriously. He is a "dreamless man," highly unemotional, although high-strung. I like him, but his logic annoys me at times. I have always believed the story myself—that is, it seems entirely plausible, although I am inclined to regard it from two points of view. My opinion, however, may be biased, for I was the intimate friend of one hero and came near knowing the other.
The first man was fair-your true blonde type, with light hair, almost white, against his florid face; of medium height, slightly inclined to stoop and his name was Walter Kent. He was not a handsome man, but rather a massive, wholesomelooking fellow-the kind of man you would trust if you had to, and stake a good deal on his doing the square thing. Men liked Kent; he was a
rattling good fellow-but no one would have ever taken him for a hero of romance.
He was inclined to be shy. His great clumsy hands usually sought his pockets and stayed there when he talked to men. With women he
was different; he tried to appear perfectly at his ease and failed dismally. It was all too bad. He was about the best kind of a friend that a woman could have had under any circumstances, but not one of the fair sex knew him well. Poor Kent, he couldn't stand it to talk to a woman long enough to let her get acquainted with him; and yet I know that in the inner recesses of his soul he treasured a high, idealistic opinion of women in general, and had his day dreams like the rest of us.
(If I were a woman, I think I would marry a man like Kentknowing what I do of men-but to my knowledge, Kent had never proposed to a woman in his life, and not one of the women he had met had ever shown him the slightest favor. Not to my knowledge, you you say? Well, Kent told me all about it.)
The foothills of a State like Colorado seemed just the place that a man like Kent would go eventually. We all have something of the cowboy spirit in our natures, I think, and in Kent it was more strongly developed than it is in most of us. He was a child of nature deep down in his sturdy old heart-the fresh fields and green woods were near akin to him, or so it seemed to me when I mused on things sentimental, and I was much given to musing in those days. Perhaps the reader has surmised before this that I was somewhat devoted to Kent. I was, and when he started to the hills, I picked up and went with him. I fancied that we two would get along
swimmingly out there. The thought of the free, out-door life held for me all the romance of a quaint old story. I should be enabled to put my knowledge of surveying to practical use, I thought, and, moreover, would be getting in fine shape for my coming career. I was just out of college, and my 'coming career' was a sweet hallucination under
which I labored at the time.
But I had misinterpreted my own. nature, even though I was pretty correct in my estimate of Kent. I soon learned that the cowboy spirit in my nature had spent itself long years before, and a little of green field and open air went a long way with me. In short, I fairly hated the solitude of the great wide place, and the surveying work proved particularly irksome. Hanging over a cliff with a line is not nearly as bracing as it seems to a tenderfoot. But the work was the least of my worries. The roar of the city still lingered in my ears, and I decided that scenery and fresh air could not compose my all in life. As for Kent, he was an ideal camper. With his clay pipe and a blanket roll he was in his element. The memory of a sweet face haunted me sometimes, and with the postoffice ten miles away, this grew to a serious consideration. At last, I showed the white feather to such a degree that I wanted to go back. I nerved myself and told Kent about it.
Kent listened to me lazily, with the kindly indulgence of a big brother.
"Go back, then," he said with an odd little twinkle in his eye, "The Survey can get on without youmaybe! At any rate, I can find some one to take your place."
In a day or two I went. The alacrity with which I took my departure amuses me when I look back on it now. I went, and left Kent to his romance and to the "other man." Perhaps when you hear the story, you will say, "And do you call that a romance?" Perhaps it is not much
of a one, but you must remember it is the only romance Kent ever had. The other man, the man who took my place, brought it with himthe romance I mean, all done up in a nice little packet, one might say, for so it proved. I had the good fortune to stumble over him on my way back, although I did not know him at the time, but the descriptions. tally. He brushed against me at one of the stations-almost knocked me down, in fact, in his mad rush to get off the train. I seized him by his shoulders and held him back. He shook me off with more than necessary force; then, noting my surprised laugh, he bowed in a genteel fashion and begged my pardon.
I turned to look at him, the same way I had turned to look at everybody after leaving the foothills. He was well dressed and well groomed. His hands were soft looking and white, and his nails highly polished. One would not have taken him for a prospective lineman, but such he proved to be.
It is necessary to take up the story now from Kent's standpoint, for I drop out of the scene here, though slightly against my will. I am rather fond of mixing in things. If I were not, I would have told this story in a straightforward fashion, and not have beaten about the bush in the way I have. But the reader will please remember that this is the only story I know, or at least the only one I ever attempted to tell in my life.
This man, Jack Cassic (I wonder why it is that when a man chooses an alias he always lights on Jack), appeared at the camp the next morning and asked for Mr. Kent. That in itself should have excited suspicion, for Kent had not sent out "at home" cards, nor introduced himself by name to the natives. But Kent was born to be fooled. Mind, I do not say the man fooled him, but there is a possibility of it. At any rate, when he asked for work, Kent
promptly handed him out my place and asked no questions.
Kent was not exactly daft on the subject of trusting people, but he came dangerously near being so. He had a cheerful theory tucked away in his soul that the best way to
treat every man is to trust him; then if the man is dishonest, he'll give himself away, and if not, it is all right. Kent could afford to take chances, for, from a worldly reckoning he was remarkably well off.
His salary on the Survey did. not amount to a row of pins to him, although he was at the head of the party. Money did not seem to represent to him what it does to most of us. He had a careless way of leaving his wallet around. One day
he rushed from his tent with an exclamation akin to an oath.
"I've been robbed!" he swore. "Serves you right," I replied, "for leaving your money around."
"It isn't my money," he said with a snap of his fingers; "it's my collar, and the only clean collar I had." And that to Kent was a real tragedy.
But even Kent had a little suspicion in his make-up, and Jack Cassic aroused it after a few days. Who was he, and where had he come from? It was at this point that Cassic, waking up to the fact that he might be questioned, proceeded to tell Kent the story of his life.
A love affair was connected with his determination to join the Survey, he said. He had been engaged to be married to a young woman who had fallen heir to a large sum of money.
With her wealth had come a desire to probe into occult sciences, and she proceeded to use her money as a key to the mystical. She began to associate with gypsies, wonder-workers, and all the odd freaks in the place. Cassic pleaded with her in vain; she was wedded to the black arts, and they seemed to have supplanted him in her affections. Finally, she took up the study of hypnotism. This proved
too much for even a lover to stand, and he informed her that unless she gave it up, he should feel justified. in breaking their engagement. The girl laughed at him. She said that she had made a study of personal magnetism, and that she could win the esteem or love of any man she wished, and she really did not know whether she wished his love or not; she would let him know later.
"You are very narrow-minded,". she said, "and could not assist me in my researches, except possibly as a subject. If I wish your love I will retain it."
Cassic left her abruptly. He had grave apprehensions regarding her sanity, and decided that the marriage should never take place. But the break was not to be brought about as easily as he had anticipated. She was a remarkably handsome woman, with natural charm enough to satisfy most men. did not sever all connection with her at once, and therein lay his folly. She began to play with him much. as a cat does with a mouse. She he would make an excellent subject. was evidently of the opinion that Cassic fought against the power which she seemed to exert over him, but his efforts were unavailing. In his calm moments he was of the opinion that he hated her as cordially as he had once loved her, but she was evidently of a different opinion. One day she turned. to him and riveting his eyes with her own, said authoritatively.
"You love me."
Cassic's head swam for an instant; then a wild exhilaration filled his being. He strove to go toward her, but found himself rooted to the spot.
"Bah, I command you to hate me," she exclaimed.
Instantly his mood changed, and a deadly passion imbued his soul. A few passages of her hands, and he was his normal self again, standing sheepishly before her.