Newspaper Page Text
The Mm with the Moles.
The flrist time that Col. Rupert Win
tcr saw Cary Mercer was under cir
cumstnnces calculated to fit tho Inci-
dent firmly in hlr memory. In the
year 1903, homo from tho Philippines
on furlough, and preparing to return
to a task1 bis enough to attract hlrn
In splto of lis exllo and hardships, he
had visited Iho son of a friend at Har
vard. They were walking through the
corridors of one of the prlvntc dormi
tories whero the boy roomed, ltnthor
Krlmly tho soldier's eyes wcro noting
.ujarblo wainscoting and tiled floors,
nnd contrasting this academic en
vironment with his own at West Point.
A rcaustlc comment- roso to his lips,
but 'it, 'was .not uttqred. for he heard
the sharp bark of a pistol, followed by
a thud, and a crackle as of breaking
"Do you fellows amuse yourselves
shooting up tho dormitory?" said he.
The boy halted; ho had gone white.
, "It camo from Mercer's .room!" he
cried, and ran acrojs the corridor to
a door with tho usual labeling of two
visiting cards. The door was not
locked. Entering, they passed Into a
vestibule, thence through another
door which stood open. Kor many a
day after the colonel could see Just
how the slender young figure looked.
' the shoulders In a huddle on the study
table, one arm swinging nerveless; bc
Bldc him, on tho floor, n revolver and
a broken glass bottle. Tho latter
must havo made tho crackling sound.
Some, dark red liquid, soaking the
open sheets of a nowspapor, filled the
room with tho pungent odor of alco
hol. Only tho top of tho lad's head
showed a curly, silky, dark brown
head; but even before the colonel lift
ed it he had seen a few thick drops
matting tho brown curls. He laid the
head back gently and his hand slipped
to the boys wrist.
".No use, Ralph." he said in the sub
dued tones that the voice takes un
consciously in the presence of death.
"And Endy was going to help him,"
almost sobbed Ralph. "Ho told me
ho would. Oh, why couldn't ho havo
trusted his friends!"
.The colonel was looking .at' the
ncwspatfer-'Was'lt money?" said he;
Tor a' glance at the dabbled sheet had
brought him the headings of the stock
quotations: "Another Sharp Break
In Stocks. New London Records." It
had been money. Later, after 'hat
needed to be done was over, after doc
tors and officers of the law were gone.
Col. Winter heard tho wretched story.
A young, reckless, fatally attractive
Southerner, rich frlendc, collego so
cieties, , Joyous times; nothing really
wicked or vicious, only a surrender to
youth and friendship and pleasure,
and then the day of reckoning duns,
college warnings, the menace of. black
disgrace. Tho young fellow was an
orphan, with no near kindred save one
brother much older than he. The
brother was reputed to be rich, ac
cording to southern standards, and
young Mercer, who had Just come Into
a modest patrimony of bis own, invest
ed in his brother's ventures. As to
the charactor of those ventures,
whether flimsy or substantia tho col
onel's informants were absolutely
Ignorant. All tbeyj knew ot tho elder
Mercer was that ho was often in New
York andhad "a Jot to do with Wall
street."-- Ho -wasn't a broker; no, ho
was trying to raise money to hang on
to some big properties that he had;
and the stocks seemed to bo going at
remarkable rates Just now, tho bot
tom dropping out of tho market. If a
certain stock of tho Mercers they
didn't know the name could bo kept
abovo 27 he would pull through. Col.
Winter made no comment, but he
romembered that when he had studied
tho morning's stock-market pages for
himself, he had noted "bad slump in
the southern steels," and "Tidewater
on the toboggan slide,; off three to
four points, declining from 27 and a
fraction to 23."
"Another victim of the Wall street
pirates," was the colonol's silent Judg
ment on tho tfagody.? "Luckyfor her
bis mother's dead." 0
. Tho next morning ho had roturned
and had gqne to his young friend's
Tho boy was still full of the horror
ot th'e day before. Mercer's brother
was in Cambridge, he said arriving
that morning from New York. "Kndy
Is going to fetch him round to get bim
out of tho reporters' way sometime
this evening; maybe thcro's something
I can do" this in explanation of
his declining to dino with tho colonel.
As tho two entered tho rooms, Win
ter was a llttlo in advance, nnd caught
the first glimpse, of a man sitting In u
big mission arm-chair, bis head sunk
on his breast. So absorbed was this
man in his own distompered musings
that' tde'Bowoeratra' approach "did
BoVuro'use him. Ho sat with knitted
brews and clenched hands, staring
' iHto vacancy: hs rigid npd, pallid
feature sot Jn'ji giastly intensity ot
Uraur-M' There waa RUffcrlng in the
took; but thero was more; tho Colonel,
who had been living ainoni the. u
Btnt passions of tho prlent. know
deadly niigcr when ho saw It, It was
branded on tho fnco beforo htm. In
voluntarily ho fell back; he felt as If
ho had blundered In on a naked soul
Noiselessly he slipped out of tho range
ot vision. Ho spoko loudly, halting to
ask sonic question about tho rooms;
this mndo a moment's pause
It was sufilclpnt; In the study (hoy
found n quiet, calm, although rather
haggard-looking man, who greeted
Winter's companion courteously, with
a southern accent, nnd a very good
manner. He was presented to tho col
onel ns Mr. Mercer. He would have
excused himself, professing that ho
was Just going, but tho colonel took
the words out of his mouth. "Ralph,
here, has a cigar tor me that Is all I
came for; seo' you nt tho Touralno,
Ralph, to morrow for luncheon, then."
He did not sec the man again; neither
did ho seo Ralph, although he mado
good, so far as In him lay, his fiction
of an engagement at tho Touralno.
Hut Ralph could not come; and Winter
had lunched. Instead, with an old
friend at his club, and had watched,
through a atatoly Georgian window
the shifting greenery of the common
In an cast wind.
All thrqjigfi tho luncheon tho sol
dier's mind kept swerving from tho
talk In hand to Cary Mercer's face.
Yet he never expected to see It again.
Three years Jator he did soe it; and
thla sccoad encounter, of which, by tho
way. Mercer was unconscious, was tho
beginning of an absorbing chnptor In
his life. A short space of time that
haptcr occupied; yet into It crowded
mystery, peril, a wonderful and awful
spectacle, tho keenest happiness and
the cruelest anxiety. Let his days be
eve;r so many, the series, of cvonts
which followed Mercer's rcappcaranco
will, not be blurred by succeeding ex
periences; their vivid and haunting
pictures' wlii burn through commoner
and later happenings as an electric
torch flares thrpugh layers of mist.
Nothing, however, could promlso
adventure less than tho dull and chilly
late March evening when tho chapter
began,-' Nor could anyone be less on
the lookout for adTenturc, or even In
terest, than was Rupert Winter. In
truth., ho was listless nnd depressed.
When he alighted from his cab In
tho groat court of tho Rock Island sta
tIonvhT found Haley, his od orderly,
with a hand' on the door-hasp. Haley's
military -stoicism of demeanor cquld
not qulto conceal a ce-taln agitation
at least not from the colonel's shrewd
eye, used to catch the moods ot his
soldiers. Ho strangled a kind ot
slgH. "Doesn't liko it much nioro than
I," thought lluport Winter. "This is
mighty kind of you, Haley." bo said.
,cYes, sor," answered Haley, salut
ing. Tho colonel grinned feebly.
Haley, "busy" repelling a youthful por
ter, did not notice the grin; bo strode
ahead with tho colonel's world-scarred
hand-luggage, found an empty tottco
besldo ono ot the square-tiled columns
of the-iwaltlug room and. disposed his.
burden on'tho Iron-railed seat next tho
corner one, which ho reserved for the
"The train ain't In yot. colonel," said
ho. "I'll bo tolling you--"
"Nq, Haloy," Interrupted the col
onel, whose lip twitched a llttlo; and
ho looked astdo; "best say good-byo
now; don't wait. Tho fact la, I'm
thinking of too many things you and I
havo gone through together." He
hold out his hand; Haley, with a stony
oxprcsslon, gazed past it and saluted,
whllo ho repeated: "Yea, sor; I'll bo
back to take tho bags whin the train's
made up." Whereupon bo wheeled and
mado off with speed.
"Just tho same damned obstlnato
way he's always had," chuckled tho
colonel to himself. Novertnelcss,
something ached In his throat as ho
frowned and winked.
"Oh, get a braco on you, you played
out old sport!" ho muttered. "Tho
game's on the last four cards nnd you
haven't established your suit; you'll
have to sit back and watch tho other
fellows play!" Out his dreary thoughts
persisted. Rupert was a colonel In
the regular army of tho United States.
Ho had been brcvettcd a brigadier
goneral after tho Spanish war, and
had commanded, not only a brigade,
but a division at ono critical tlmo In
tho Philippines; but for .reasons prob
ably known to the little knot of poli
ticians who "hung it up," although In
comprehensible to most Americans,
congress had failed to pass the bill
giving tho wcarsrs of brdvet titles tho
right to keep their bard-worn and
empty honors; wherefore Gen. Winter
had declined to Col. Winter.
Ho had morn substantial troubles,
Including a wound which would prob
ably mako him limp through llfo and
possibly retire him from, servlco at CO.
It had given him' a six mouths' sick
leavo (which he had not wanted),
and after spending a month oa the
Atlantic coast, he was going for the
spring to the Pacific. Haley, wboso
own term of offlco hud expired, had not
ro-euusteii. but mm followed mm, Mrs.
Haley and1 tho. baby uncomplainingly
bringing up the. rear It was not fair
to Haley nor to Mrs. Haloy. tho colonel
full, Io liad toW Ualtft- so; he had j
found a cood situation for tho man,;
M 1,111! IUjJI
At First 'He Old Not Recoonlxe tht Face.
nnd ho had added tho deed for a llttlo
house In tho suburbs ot Chicago.
If Haley wouldn't reMtrJigt-j-tbero
never was a bettor soldier slnco he
had downed a foolish young hankorlng
for wild times and whisky If ho
wouldn't go back to tho army, whero
he belonged, let him settle down, take
up the honest carpenter's trade that
ho had abandoned, be a good citizen
and marry llttlo Nora to rp mo class
mato In tho high school, who might
make a fortuno and build her a
colonlnl mansion, should tho colonial
still obtain In tho twentieth century.
Tho co!6nol had spread a grand
prospect befofo Haley, who listened
unresponslvcly. a dumb pain In his
wide blue Irish eyes. Tbo .colonel
hated It; but, somehow, he bated
worse tho. limp look jpt Haloy,' back
as bo watched It dwindle down Mich
igan avenue. -
Howovor, Mrs. Haloy had been 'moro
satisfactory, It nono tho loss bewil
dering. She scorned very grateful
.1.1' 1 II.. a t n . i...
uvit inu iiuusu huu uiu uu' lur ii
furnishing. A birthday present, he
bad termed It, with a fllokcr. of hu
mor because the; day was hit own
birthday. Ills llttloth birthday if hap
pened to be, and It occurred to him
that a man ought to do something n
little notable on such an anniversary.
This rounding ot tho half-cuntury had
attributes apart; It was no nioro an
nual birthday; it marked tho last van
ishing flutter of tho glided draperies
of youth; tho withering of Jba gar
lands; tho fading tlnklo of iho4 light
music of hope. It should mark a man's
solid achievements. Onco, not so long
ago, Winter had believed that his
fiftieth blrtbday would seo wide and
beneficent and far-reaching results In
tho provluce wbero ho ruled. That
dream was shattered. He was gen
erous of nature, nnd he could havo
been content to behold another reap
tho Holds which ho had sowed and
Ullu'd; ltvwas tho harvest, whether his
or another's, for which ho worked; but
his had been the bitter ofllco to have
to stand aside, with no right to pro
test, and seo his work go to waste be
causo his successor had a feoblo brain
and n pusillanimous caution In placo
of his own dogged will Kor all theso
reasons,, as woll 03 otboru, tho folonol
found no zest In his fiftieth birthday;
and his rovorlo drifted dismally, from
one somber reflection to another until
it brought up at tho latest wouud to
his heart bis favorlto brother's death.
Thoro had been three Winter broth
ers lluport, Melvlllo and Thomas.
During tho past year both Thomas
Winter and his wife bad died, leaving
one child, a boy of II, named Archl
bald after his fathor's undo, Jlupert
Winter and the boy's great-aunt, tho
'Widow of tho Kreat uucla, woco ap
pointed Joint guardians ot the young
Archie, Tonight, in his Jaded mood,
he was assailed by reproaches be
causo be had not seen ino'ru of hie
ward- Why. he hadn't so much as
lookod tho little chap up wliuu ho
passed through Palrport merely had
sent him a letter and sonic truck from
the Philippines; nice guardian he waa!
ny a natural enough transition, his
thoughts swerved fo bis own brief and
not altogether happy married life. Ho
thought of tho graves in Arizona
whero ho had loft his wlfo nnd his
two children, and his heart felt
heavy. To escape musings which
grew drearlor every second, ho cast
his eyes about tho motley crowd shut
tling over the tiled floors or rotting
In the massive dark oaken seats. And
It was then that he saw Cary Merqpr.
At first ho did not recognize tbo faeo.
Ho .only gaied Indlfferuntly at two
well-dressed men who sat somo pacos
awtty from him In the shadow of a
groat tiled column similar to bis own.
Thero wns this difference. It happened:
tho mission lantern with Its otectric
bulbs above tho two mon was flashing
brightly, and by some accident that
above tbo colonel was dark. Ho could
seo tho men, himself in the shadow.
The men were rathor striking in ap
pearance; they were evidently gentle
men; tho taller ona was young, woll
sot-up, clean-shaven and quietly but
most correctly dressed. His light
brown hair showed n slight curl In Its
closoly clipped locks; his gray-bluo
oyos had long lashes of brown darker
than bis hair; his teeth wero very
white, and thero was a dimple In hit
cheek, plain when ho smiled. Had his
noso been straight ho would havo been
as handsomo as a Oreok god, but the
noso was only an ordlnnry American
note, rathor too broad at tbo base;
moreover, his Jaw waa u little too
square for classic lines. Nevertheless,
ho was good to look upon, as well at
strong and clean and wholesome, and
when bis gray-bluo eyes strayed about
tbo room the dimple donted his cheek
and his whlto teeth gleamed In a kind
ot merry good-nnturo pleasant to see
Hut it was the other man who held
the colonel's oya. This man was
double tho young man's ago. or near
that; ho was shorter, although still ot
fair stature, and slim ot build. Ills
face was oval In contour and dell,
cate ot feature Although ho wore no
glasses, his brow had the far pucker
of a noar-slghlcd man. There was a
mole on his cheek bono and another
Just below hit car. Doth were small,
rather than large, and In no sense
disfiguring; but tho colonel noted
thorn absently, being In tho habit ot
photographing a man In a glnnco. The
faco had beauty, distinction oven, yet
about It hung some association, sinis
ter as a poison label.
"Now, whore," said the colonel to
himself, "whero have I seen that
man?" Almost distantly the clow
camo to him. "Ily Jovo, It's tho broth
er!" ho exclaimed. Three years ago,
and he had almost forgotten; but hero
was Cary Mercer the name came to
him 'after a little groping hero he
waa again; , hut who was iho pleasant
youngster with him? And what were
iney uiscussiug with So'llttlo'appurent
and so much real earnestness?
Ono ot the colonol'u pbynJcal gifts
was an extraordinary acuioness ot
Hearing. It passed the mark of a fuc-
I SI I las f
ulty nnd beenmo a marvel, Part of
this uncanny power was really due,
not to hearing nione, but to an alliance
with another senso, becnuso Winter
had learned tho lip language In his
youth: ho heard with his eyes as well
as his oars. This combination had
mndo nn unintentional and embar
rassed eavesdropper out of nn honest
gentleman a number of times. To set
off such evil tricks It had saved his
llfo once on the plains nnd had res
cued his wholo command another time
in the Philippines. Whllo he studied
tho two faces a sentence from tho
younger man gripped hit attention.
It was: "I don't mind tho risk, but
I hnto taking such n bid woman's
"8ho has a heap." answered the
other man carelessly; "besides" He
added something with averted head
and In too low a voice to reach .he lis
tener unassisted. Hut It wns convinc
ing, ovldently, since tho young man's
faco grew both grave and stern. He
nodded, muttering. "Oh, I under
stand; I wasn't backing water; I know
wo havo lost the right to bo squeam
ish Hut 1 any. old chap, how long
tlnce M.rs. Winter has teen you?
Would the recognize you?H
Tho colonel, who had been about to
abandon hit espionage ns unbecoming
a soldier and a gentleman, atowed
away all his scruples at the mention
of the name. He pricked up his ears
and tharpefiod hit eye, but was careful
lett they should catch hi glance. The
next sentence, owing to tho speaker's
position, -vat Inaudible and Invtslblo;
but ho clearly caught the young man's
"You're sore they'll be on this
And he saw the Interlocutor's head
Tho boy's with them?"
An Inaudlblo reply, but another nod.
"And you're sure of MUt Smith?"
Thlt tlmo tho other's profile was to
ward the listener who heard the reply:'
"Plumb ture. I wish I wero i lure
of tome other things. Have wo settled
everything? It It better not to be seen
"Yes. I think you've put me wise on
the main points. Ily tho way, what is
the penalty for kidnaping?"
Again nn averted head and hlntitt,
followed by tho younger man's spark
ling snillo and exclamation: "Wow!
Riskier than football and oven more
fnn!" Something further he added,
but his arras hid hit mouth at ho
thruit tlx Into hie grealeoat. prepar
ing to movo away. He went aloee:
and tho other, after a moment's
gloomy meditation, gathered up coat
and bag and followed. During that
moment of arrested decision, however,
his features had droppm! Into sinister
lines which the cotoiwl remembered.
"Dangerous customer, or I miss my
guess." mused the seWlcr. who knew-,
tho passions of men. "I wonder they
couldn't mean my Aunt RobeoeaT
She's old; she has millions of money
but she's not on this train. And thero's
no Mies Smith In our deck. I'm so
used to plotting 1 go off on fake hlkos!
Probably I'm getting old and dotty.
Mercer, poor fellow, may have his
brain turned and be an nnarohltt or a
bomb-thrower or a dirty kidnaper ter
revenge; but that boy's n decent chap;
I've licked too many second lieuten
ants Into shape not to know something
He pushod the Idea away; or, rather,
his own problems pushed It out of hie
mind, which went back to his ward
and his single living brother. Mel
vlllo had no children, only his wlfo's
daughters, who wore both married
Melvlllo having married a widow with
a family, an estate and a mind of her
own. Molvlllu was a professor In a
state university, a mild, learned man
whom nature Intended for tclenco but
whom hi wlfo wds determined to
mako into the president ot the unit
"Kvun money which will win,"
chuckled Rupert Winter to himself.
"Mllllccnt hain't much tact; but the
hat the persevcrnnco of the saints.
She married Mel; ho doesn't know,
but she surely did. And the bosses
him now. Woll, I suppose Mel likes,
to bo bossed; ho never had any strenu
ous, opinions except about tho canals
of Mart Valgamo dlosl"
With a gasp tho colonel sprang to
hid feet. There before him, In tho
flesh, was his tltter-ln-law, Her state
ly figure, her Roman profile, her grace
fully gesticulating hand, which Indi
cated the colonel's position, to her
heavily laden nttondant. a lad In blue
theso ha know by heurt Just as he
kite that her toilet for tha Journey
would, be In tho latest modu, ami that
sho would havo the latest fashion of
gait and mien. Mllllccnt studied such
Sho waved her luggage Into place
an excellent placo In tho same breath
dismissing tha porter and instructing
lilm when ho must return. Then, but
not until then, did sho turn graciously
to her brother-lnlaw.
"I hoped that I should find you.
Ilertte," she said In a voice of such
creamy richness that It was hard1 to
credit tho Hpeakor with only thrco
short trips to Kngland. "Melvlllo said
you were to tuke this traju, and I was
:i hi I
i" uriign-rj r
most ha ts.-,
"That b I;
with a) i
tho trout, (
"I have r
"Maybe I n t.
confess I dtr. i .
should, Her' .
might exjla n '
on your gun-J
"Yt !, t
never hurnt I i "
"I'm golrfr . -i i;j .
remember tit r if
ago and Itv. i , J
dear little L ' , t j V
home! Itt y, J
delighted s " , t".J
It waa to cr, A-
care for res ft' , ,
unique gifts a. us , T,.
course, mv rr i
dear child t. 1 f. r -1,
Unless Aunt , k .
train. If f r t
over until f r I ivaj
"Ah." tlr !--.r ,,),-,
not ttlrrlng a r 1 'UH
attentive fa. . 1 (" juj
beeoa exp" t ' c t
"They MJ r - l r y,
that the hal f u
stateroom sr 1 '
she has he r .
"Doe be t i
asked, hit c wj r
"Yee. sh' a
fornla. be d r
she thlnxi tc r.
to havo a tu'or (
tlu afraid u L i r
-? "Aunt lt!e jri'i
'a mollyeC"!''-' Ii:-ifai
her a tolera' , r - ' 1 1;
Hut do you ts- t ' Ti j i;j
of their gem' A' ri
to wait to t'e lf 'b-T ' r !
auro Aunt Rc'jscea ',. n
to sacrifice - t
Mrs. Mc!j.ib r Ur'vtV
In a Deltart x t 'r
smiling worjs r
oticl had fii
tin; Aunt R. 'r i f
going. I J - -til
we are . 1 ' :
"Oh. I sre a r
not see, an ' o " n
he watched ' - '
vllle's snv ' f
truth la. Ik
worried at '
fear, hat f..
a most t'" '' r
pote you 1-a r
"Can t siv I f-..s(i s i'
eoltincl i'!a. i
"I IhotiKht 1 a
bav written ' "
wrote ye'rr " '
tie. Miss Sr '
soys she l-e a
Aunt Rebf a I
cousin of el v.
MlH Sml'h '
dW'-shr f 1
tho snldler e" "
Miss Smith r -
"A few t! 'a
Aunt Rebecca r
tho wool over r
onmo back t .
"Ati .triir r-
than 30. Ju t ' - f '
marry some r-- t '
afraid that sh- .; ?..
creatures alwn a f '
they can t ma-" ' 1 '
man to set thf T:p "f.
whcedlo It c -t ! r
.wfltnan!" M t., t
itim-A u ni Tin L, " l
s ' - i
1 - J '
-: t:i '
-1 rk I t'A
more . . ,
sign -a her un
the direct txf - '
life. In the m" ' - M
"And you tt -a .-
Ing to Influenc- 1 ' .
'Of course t!'- I'
becca it SO. llir'
..o,,to nf hf r l'-""
of weakening i"
well regulated " '
ii,nu mlij fane " ' t" f
uoung ana ii i ; r(1r.i
.i Ml t ! " I
woman baa n;7 I
man an i- .i,f
won't hear n w ra t. ( t,;
when I tried it t"'J ,tl i
know about '-i 'Vjtl
would be better ret ti t H
tmtlroly. sho pes! irrj ;M ,
course I used u i - , -i
plainly aggrieve '
. . km
opinion of '"inJ. i
wife, was uu - - M
,Aado nn lnart!-ul." M