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WESTHHN KANSAS X70RU3
Gypsies and artists, society folk,' reckless tsoncmiant, doio conspira tors and a Derformlno bear unite to keep this story pacing down the road to Arcady. From the care-free life of wandering gyp- " sies along the highway you are carried to the strangest, gayest 6pot In Gotham's fascinating Bo " hernia. V CHAPTER 1. .- , Of Introductions. "Tou Bee, Mr. Jones, so many people fere Introduced, who never really meet," said Pedro, "that it seems a pity those who could meet have to wait for aa introduction, eh?" - Mr. Jones stopped licking his front paws, and raised his head, the tip of his nose twitching attentively. For several moments he looked at Pedro with an unwavering stare, and then, aa though suddenly remembering what he had been about, resumed the lava torial process. It might be mentioned In passing that Mr. Jones was a small brown bear, fat, young and intelligent. Pedro rolled over in the dried yel low grass, luxuriating Jn its warmth, and in the poignant odor of autumn foliage turned to flame by long ab sorption of the summer sun. To the youth lying in the stubby grass life seemed Just now to hold all too many possibilities, and he was filled with a sort of self-pity, because he could not grasp them all. Although it was only mid-afternoon he had already stolen away from Beau Jean, Rico and the others,, in order to fight out the battle of an impor tant decision in privacy. But now that he was alone with his problem and his bear he found himself afraid of the former, and to put oS the evil moment when he must think in good earnest he talked to the animal. The lad reached out a Blim, brown hand and took up one of the newly laved paws. "How do you do, Mr. Jones?" said he' solemnly. "I am delighted to meet you! That's how they do it, eh? Now, I call it silly that some one has to Bay a charm before two others are permit ted to make an inquiry after the health! What do you think, Mr. Jones ?" The bear gave a little grunt and thrust his nose into the boy's palm. "Ah! I knew you would agree," ex claimed Pedro. He gave the crea ture's ear an affectionate tweak and then spread his slender length upon the ground again. "I liked that girl," he continued aloud, "you should have seen her, Mr, Jones; she had red hair. Not horrid red, but red-gold like like Joy! All crisp and curling It was. And such a beautiful pale face. She looked at me, you must know, but I did not dare to speak, because she would not have an swered, and that would have been a tragedy. Why should she speak to a never been Introduced? Of course, she would not! I wish she had, though, because I liked her . . . iBut I could look at her. That was something! There was a line, amigo Imlo, from her chin to the base of iher throat ah!" He rolled over again, burying his faco In his folded arms. One long sigh escaped him. and then a second, for the mention of that beautiful line from breast to chin had reawakened his subdomlnant problem the prob lem of his future, and of his life work. Happy as he was. he could no longer put off a decision regarding it. The -craving to get at the occupation near est his heart had been gathering strength these many months past and as now straining at the leashes of his will, tearing him from one dearly loved way of life to another, scarcely tried, yet which called him ceaselessly. jWas he to continue free (a mere 'dancer of bears) but free? Or should .he at last become a painter, chained 'to his work by ties as strong as those which held his bear, for all they would be Invisible? , Before his mental vision arose the 'phantom of what he would fain lnter jpret and depict . . . The spires of cities, smoke from the altars of com merce, teeming multitudes of men and women. Shops, lights, color, movement, broad boulevards adorned - j ci4ui(ca ut ius ncn; narrow alleys where the poor jostled and bar tered at push-carts In the murky flare of lamps; visions of broad roof-tops, (spreading acre on acre, mile on mile la veritable ocean of roofs stretching far as eye could see, covering more pain and passion than the heart could know, more colored with Joy than the nana could depict. But how could he let go the Infi nite variety of every day? Ah! he couia not; it was impossible! Re nounce the long, white road that led to nowhere, yet which brought one to a new place each hour? Renounce - uiti ui fin l Biwui ncuwiia me open heavens : the sweet summer nights among the meadow flowers; the win ter twilights, when he and the bear cowered down together in the hay of a lonely barn, or. if they were rich. " procured the.-privilege of a tavern .kitchen with the spoils of the eve ning's performance! Oh, blessed days of Journeying among simple adven tures, tramping all through the noon. or loafing long hours and dreaming! Now, It was a group of children, laugh ing for glee at Mr. Jones dancing. then a curious crowd in a sordid vil lage street, enticed Into merriment and selt-forgetfulnessby hie antics. At another time Mr. Jones, sedate and full of decorous tricks, was solemnly exhibited to the inhabitants of a great country house. And there were the road houses at night. Here he and the bear wmld dance the "coyuetts' (learned in Paris), to the accompani ment of uproarious applause; and the harvest was rich, thrown clinking into the apron of Old Nita, one of the little troupe to which he belonged. Ah! those were the gay nights! Past the last few months his thoughts flew back to jonrneyings far and wide: white roads of Lorraine, a theatrical little village near Naples, where Mr. Jones had worsted a rival in combat for honors on a market day; Holland, where the bear had stolen the little wooden shoe from the tulip selling girl, and where they met the gigantic Beau-Jean, and he, with hie wife, Guneviere, and the great, grizzly Koko had Joined them. That made a company of six, for already there was Rico, his bear and his Anna, and Nita that wicked " Old Nita, who danced the "coquette" herself when they, bears and all, went late one night to the Bal Bodin in Montmartre. How funny she had looked, dancing, with her shapeless old mouth a-smil-ing! Tramp steamers! The smell of them came sharply across the autumn wind. Weeks of motion and of stench, and then at last the dying of the engine-throb, the crowding and the jos tling, and the great rush out upon the shore .of some new land. On such a voyage it was that Carlos and Herma- nia had joined them, bringing a cin namon bear. Where had not these eight been what roads they had traveled together under sun and moon! This host of memories Pedro felt in their essence, in a single . breath, as it were, bereft of detail save for some picture of a small incident or two, trivial, but never tobe forgot. The heart of that past life he held for a moment in his own. No! no! he could not give it up. And yet, this other call, which had been with him, it would seem, since birth, was now grown too strpDg for resistance. Be fore his eyes he must see the thought of his heart depicted by the labor of his brain and hand. He must paint! He was an artist, an artist! "I will go!" said Pedro shudderingly. Then, as if shedding the past, he squared his shoulders. "Come!" said he to the animal. "We shall return to camp and tell them what we are going to do." Not until he was within a hundred yards of the road did Pedro realize that he had been trespassing on what now evinced itself to be a country estate of some pretensions; and at this point the fact was made manifest by the Bight of a cedar and fir hedge. Near by was a closed gate, flanked by pillars of old brick and soap'stone, giv ing access to a narrow footpath which wound along at the base of the hill he had just crossed. Apparently he had been dreaming away the afternoon upon the farming section - of the place. The sloping ground which lay between him and the hedge was smooth and soft, and tempt ed by it. Mr. Jones lay down and rolled a little, way. Then he got up and trotted on some distance in ad vance of his master. The road was very near now, and there came a sound of pattering footsteps from It and the 6wish of light garments. Through the somber evergreens Pedro could see a gleam of white, moving swiftly. Then came the noise of heav ier tramping a man's step this time a man in haste at that. Then a wom an screamed, her frightened cry ring ing out sharply. ... The bear, moved to curiosity by. the sound, plunged through the hedge and disappeared, and Pedro, grasping his staff like a cudgel, set off down the elope at a run, - reaching the hedge only a moment later than the bear. The fragrant branches whipped across the boy's face aa he rushed past, emerging breathless upon the - high way. A dramatic scene awaited him. Down the road a thoroughly fright ened tramp was speeding from the ter rifying and wholly unexpected appa rition of the bear, a cloud of dust en veloping his horrified retreat. Close to the gateway, her purse clasped fran tically to her bosom, stood a girl, be wildered and alarmed a . girl whom the last sunbeams bathed in glory, gleaming on her hair that was ''red gold, liko joy." And to complete the picture, there stood Mr. Jones, erect upon his hind legs, his tongue lolling out and his clumsy paws waving from her to Pedro. It was an introduction. That she was almost as much frightened by the bear as by the tramp, whose attempted robbery the animal's sudden appearance hadfrus trated, was clear. At sight of Pedro she screamed again. - "Oh! the bear! Help, help! Oh, take him away ! " she cried. "Abas!" said Pedro sharply, address ing his pet. But Mr. Jones did not obey immediately, and for a moment the three stood as if transfixed. Then the bear dropped to all fours, and the spell of the tableau was broken. . "Oh. how fortunate that you were near!" she began -breathlessly. "It was a tramp. He wanted my little Bilk purse ... but the bear fright ened him away; he came so suddenly By NINA. WILCOX PUTNAM CosOTteht br the bear did, that Is. In another in stant that dreadful man would have had my bag. Not that I would have cared so much about, the money, you know," she added a trifle apologeti cally, "but I have registered letters in. it for my father. I have just come from the post office, and if they had been lost . . . but, perhaps, you' do not understand English?" "Oh, yes!" said Pedro, taking his eyes from her Blender throat and flashing a brilliant smile at her. "Oh, yes, indeed, I understand you!" "Then please let me thank you," said she, her Interest In him growing every moment. "Bat there is nothing for which I may receive thanks!" he protested. Actually, she seemed to consider the bear's introduction sufficient. Fum blingly he removed his wide, soft hat and clasped it upon his heart with both hands. How she stared! - Wait ing for him to speak again, she gave her chin a tilt which accentuated that heavenly line. Involuntarily he pic tured drapery behind it, his - artist's soul longing to depict it. Like a Ma donna. - "It should be blue!" he said aloud In a queer, choked voice. "What did you say?" asked the girl with a puzzled expression. At realization of his speech his con fusion became complete, and suddenly his one idea was to escape her watch ful eyes. "I that is to say, er It was Mr. Jones entirely," he stammered, "I I did nothing, nada! It was all the bear." .- - "But he is your bear, evidently," she replied, "and I Insist that he share the thanks with you." "Thank you!! said Pedro eagerly. "You do - not know the exquisite de light er ah oh!" Gasping, he sought to extricate himeelf from the awkwardness of the impulsive compli ment he had half-blurted out. "Forgive me, gracious lady, er er I must go now!" he finished lamely. "Well,-1 give you my most grateful thanks, whether you take them or not," said she with a smile. -But he was now too embarrassed to rally and did what one often does upon attaining a desired situation; be came suddenly panicky and ran away, from it. . "I shall hold your words In my heart." said he. and then, with a ges ture half beseeching, half apologetic, and wholly graceful, he swept his hat upon his head, and, calling the bear, set off down the road. The wording of his speech was odd and unexpected, and the manner of his departure so precipitant that it looked like a retreat. For as long as he remained in sight she stood gazing after him, her interest in him cement ed by his flight. With a sigh she was scarcely conscious of uttering, so faint it was, Bhe reluctantly turned in at the gate in the hedge and went slowly along' the little winding path. CHAPTER II. A Belief In Signs. But Pedro walked rapidly, so that the bear had difficulty in imitating the pace. The youth had now definitely made np his mind to take the new course of action, for this second vision of the beautiful lady had confirmed his resolution, and he felt he must get back to the others quickly, in order to tell them before he had time to change his mind. As he walked he kept muttering "blue, blue!" and his brows were knit furiously. . " He had to pass some , villas with a semi-suburban look about them, and then .an elm-shaded street, where commerce and. conservatism rubbed shoulders. Next, by switching off from this neighborhood, he passed between rows of frame houses, which dimin ished in their appearance of impor tance and prosperity the farther he went, until finally the street, if such it could properly be called at this point, was fringed only by shacks that leaned inquisitively over the gutters, or braced themselves at a fearsome angle against the slanting little gar dens at their backs. When these humble habitations came to ' an end there stood an old barn amid a stony field, scattered over with paper, rubbish and discarded cans. In the lee of the dilapidated building a fire was burning upon the ground, and about it a group of people had gath ered. Over the blaze a kettle had been hung. Into which an old woman was throwing greens -from her apron. Near her, his back against the barn, lay a giant of a man, with a patch over one eye-. This was Beau-Jean, the mighty Provencal, who at this moment was engaged in carving an elaborate design upon the bass of a bear-stave; while beside him lay the great animal whom he ruled, asleep with its nose tucked under its paws. Two younger women Gunny, Bean-Jean's wife, and sturdy Ilerinanla, wife of Carlos "(who lay asleep near by) were mending their shoes. At a little distance, Anna, the pretty and irresponsible, was weaving a garland of bright, golden maple leaves, Rico watching adoringly, the while he pretended to Bobtw - MmiU OaJ be ' busy nursing the wounded paw of their animal. At sight and smell of his familiars Mr. Jones trotted up, eagerly sniffing as he came. Old Nita aroused herself at his approach. . "Pedro, you have let him loose again, oh, careless one!" Bhe cried; "some day he will betray you and be oft! or, worse yet, stolen." " - .. "Cross Old Nita!" replied Pedro, stepping into the lighted circle and smiling at her. "He is too fond of me to run away aren't you, old fel low, eh? What's to eat?" he inquired, stooping over the kettle. "Greens! Is that all?" . ; "There is rye bread a single loaf," responded Nita. "Thanks to your go ing off by yourself, we have only tak en in a few pesetas all day!" "" "You know very well. Aged One," responded Pedro, "that you take In as much alone as with me, or very nearly. And as for going off ! - . . . Well, I have something to tell you, but all must bear. Let us gather together first, and eat." So far the conversation had been In Spanish, the native tongue, of these two. Now, as the conversation be came general, they fell Into a patois English, the language of the road, sometimes slipping into French, some times back into Spanish, their talk being as polyglot as their origin. "Now, do you want to hear, eh?" Pe dro asked, addressing the company. "If so. I shall tell my plan." Beau-Jean replied first, in his deep, husky voice. - "Let the little one tell his notion? The plans of Pedro have brought many a laughr and so many a coin from the crowd on the market street." "My" shoes will not stand another mending," said Hermania. "If Pedro can tell a plan to get others I will heed." "The lad has wit; did he not con ceive the praying trick for . Koko?" mumbled Old Nita. "Come, child, what has thy brain devised now to help us?" "Oh, don't, don't!" cried Pedro. "Why do you say these things on this night of all nights? I cannot endure it! Call me evil names, and abuse me, rather! Please! It la almost too hard for me to do, and yet I must! Amlgos ! It Is for myself, only that X am planning my notion will not help you, alas!" - . . He buried his face In his hands, and for a moment there was an astonished silence. Such an outburst of emotion on the part of their joyous Pedro was a thing undreamed of by any of them. Into the silence the voice of Old Nita broke tremblingly. "Hast thou sinned, even aa I, that thou weepest so? What is it, Pedro of my heart?" "No, no!" he cried, raising his head. "I have not sinned, but I have seen a line an exquisite curve from an oval chin to the base of a white throat." "Ah! In love!" exclaimed Rico and Anna simultaneously. "No; again no!" cried Pedro.- T do not love it, but I've got to paint it!" There was another Interval of puz zled silence, broken this time by Beau Jean. "Oh. little' Pedro," said he, "what do you mean by 'paint it'?" "Just that," said Pedro, striving to conquer his emotion. ."I am going to be an artist, a painter. -Don't you understand ?" The little group- stirred rellevedly. This was nothing so terrible, after all. Then for a few moments all spoke at once, voicing their relief. Hermanla's query made itself evident above 'the clamor of the rest. "But why does this distress you so? Always, always you have made pic tures. Pictures of us' all, of every where, of everybody; always, always scribbling little pictures upon bits of paper! Where la the trouble? "The trouble comes because "I shall have to leave you all," said Pedro sadly. "I must go to the city, where I can have the right things to work with, and colon colors colors? -I must learn about them. It will be hard, but I can do it." . - "Go away! Leave them!" Such a clangor as they raised ! "I have tried not to do-this." he said as soon as they let him speak, "but I can't help it. The art it bosses me now!" "But where shall you go?" asked Nita. . "To New York; It is nearest," re plied Pedro. "And how will you live?" from Car los. "I do not know." "Who will teach yon?" queried Her mania. "I do not know." , "And those colors, where will you get them?" asked Anna. , "I do not know." ""-And knowing nothing, you are yet determined to go?"" Beau-Jean de manded. ' j "Yes." answere4 Pedro, stubbornly. Then," said BcHu-Jean, with a sigh, -it la our plain duty' to help yon." -How will you do sol" asked Pedre-eagerly. "I do not know that, either,"' re sponded Beau-Jean. - - - Next morning the eight set out to gether for the city. Whatever strange undertaking Pedro was considering, they would all go along and assist if possible. And so, without any idea save that of action, they set forth, de termined though indefinite. The coppers" of yesterday were all expended for breakfast, and the first Btep toward the beginning of a day being accomplished, they betook them selves to the railroad track and walked beside it. But noon came and passed, and still -no granite towers loomed be fore their expectant eyes. Finally, to rest themselves, they turned from the wearying, shining vista of rails, and seated themselves upon the dead grass beside the mile post that bore the dis couraging legend: N. Y. 25 M. Harrison 1 M. By this time all were tired and hun gry. Worse yet. the bears were hun gry a condition to be reckoned with before- the need of the masters. "Let us go," suggested Pedro, "into the town which this dusty road leads to, and dance the bears, pass the hat, and eat. eh?" The suggestion needed no second ing. With groans and complaints they got to their feet again, and set off for the village. But fate was not smiling upon them just then. " The town was almost de serted at this hour. ..Besides which, near the end of the performance, Toto. who was supposed to "sing," raised his voice from his usual growling mono tone to a hungry growl. That sent the watchers running off in all directions. Ruefully Old Nita counted the earn ings. " . "Only seven pennies in all," she complained. "Better to have rested beside the railroad." "It is not enough to feed one bear, even," remarked Beau-Jean, "and I am as hungry as two." Meanwhile Pedro was talking to himself. . "You got them into this; otherwise they would have traveled the regular way. Now you get them out." Then Pedro noticed a dingy lunch wagon by the broken curb, some fifty feet away. At the entrance to it stood a fat man , with a- dismal, flabby face. His hands were tucked beneath an apron whose immaculate whiteness shone out conspicuously among the gray -surroundings. The man was motionless, as though he had become petrified while waiting for cus tomers who never came. "Ah!" said Pedro aloud, "I have an idea ! . ' Stay where you are, all of you, until I beckon." Then, thrusting his hands Into his pockets, he strolled nonchalantly away in the direction of the lunch wagon. - It was a dingy affair, as has been said, and upon its tawdry sides the lettering had grown dim. Still, it was easy enough to make out the Inscrip tion: The Elite Pies, Coffee, Milk, Frankfurters Over the doorway was an Invitation to "walk in," and underneath this the owner's name "Isaac Lovejoy, Prop." had been printed small. Pedro sidled up to the Individual who, it would seem, bore this name and title. -Business . thriving "bout here?" asked Pedro conversationally, by way of an opening. The man gave him a glance, hut without moving to do so. "Nope!" he -replied. "What! " In a place where travelers must pass so often?" Pedro exclaimed, lifting his eyebrows. ' - "Yep!" said the man, still motion less. "What is the trouble? Are there no travelers?" "Travelers, all right," said the fat man, "but no customers! No one stops here!" -What's the trouble, do you think?" Pedro Inquired. "The lunch-wagon trust!" exclaimed the man. "I'm an independent, I am; but everywhere I go where there might be good business doin say a corner near a factory, or any such real wide-awake place one of them trust wagons is tftere before me, all shined up an' covered with gold paint an plate glass! A fellow like me ain't got no show." -Why don't you spruce up a little, then, eh?" asked Pedro. -Why don't you buy somethin' so's III get the money for to buy the gold paint with?" retorted the other. "Because I have no money," Pedro replied. "Same reason here, in answer to your first," cried the fat man trium phantly. ' "Supposing, now," said Pedro, "that I could put you oh the right track to competing with those trusts, eh?" -What dyer mean?" demanded the man. "Those wagons of the trust they are alfallke?" . -Yes." said Mr. Lovejoy, "all the same; and very slick and fancy." -Aha! Then what you want la something entirely different from , them ; -something to make people do- til. a vm, - V , "Sure, but what?" -That." replied Pedro, "is Just what I can tell you. I have a proposition to make." " The man scowled at him for a mo ment, as though wondering at the Im prudence of this whipper-snapper's of fering to deal with him: Then Pedro looked at him. and smiled one of those vivid, startling smiles that were pe culiar to him, and usually took people unawares, making them smile back at him before they really knew what they were doing. Nor did it fail this time. The flaccid face of the lunch-wagon -iim:ii uiui tt uiuou & 1 111. "That's it!" exclaimed Pedro. "That's what?" asked the man, grow ing serious again. "Oh. don't spoil it!" cried the lad, "that smile is just what you need to attract customers!" This time the man laughed. "Well," said he, "what is your prop osition, young one V - "I have some friends with me," be gan Pedro; "all those over there and the bears. We are all hungry, see? Now'I will paint you a picture on the side of your wagon, and also I will paint for you a new sign; and if, when I have finished, you agree that the sign and the picture will bring you customers in the future, you will feed us all, not forgetting the bears, eh?" - The fat man considered a long time before replying, and Pedro watched him anxiously. Well," he said at last, "the old dog- "Twagon couldn't look no worse'n it do now; an' my stock what I have laid in will get spoiled if it don't get eat. You can have a try, young one. if you like." -Hurrah!" said Pedro, and hurried over to tell Nita and the others. . A musty hardware store that also sold grain and lumber, furnished a few crude materials. The fat maa paid for them, and Pedro carried them over to the cart and set to "work. "Please, one thing," he begged of its proprietor, "don't you look, till all is finished." "All right." agreed the man, "I'll sit here, just Inside the door, and read outer the paper till you're done." Pedro answered nothing, but gave a glance at a little mirror that hung just opposite to where the uncon scious Mr. Lovejoy sat, "whipped off the old green coat and began working frantically." The ' proprietor settled himself on the little stool near the door, and, faithful to his promise, unfolded a pink evening paper. Cautiously, and speaking not at all. Old Nita drew near, "leading Mr. Jones. They sat down in the dust beside the step and watched Pedro in silence. Then came Beau-Jean and Koko. followed by Gunny, who settled themselves beside the old woman. Before half an hour was gone all the - town, for the first time In the lunch wagon's history, had clustered before its Tloor. As for Pe dro, he' had forgotten that there was a world which might come to gape and criticize. He was working. But if the painter was unconscious of the crowd, the proprietor was not. Twice he wanted to move, but dared not; and as the crowd increased, so did his impatience. For half an hour longer or more Pe dro worked, glancing now and then at the little mirror just inside the door. In which Mr. Lovejoy's unconscious face was reflected. There began to be an occasional tittering from the crowd, and then, later, spontaneous bursts of laughter. "When kin-1 come out?" cried Mr. Lovejoy at intervals, and "Walt," commanded Pedro. Fever ishly be added the finishing touches to his production, and then at length stood back and Invited his patron to descend. As the fat man came" down the steps there was a little burst of applause which he was at a lose to understand until he stood before his transformed place of business. - All the old lettering, already faint, had, been obliterated, and in the cen ter of the largest space was a portrait head of himself a large, laughing por trait, just like him, yet irresistibly merry. It was a face at which one In stantly smiled in sympathy; Indeed it wore the very "smile . to attract cus tomers," as Pedro had said. Over this extraordinary production- Pedro had painted in neat, black letters: I. Lovejoy- c ' Eating Is Joyful Come in and Eat I Love to See You Do It - Then underneath: After -a moment of spellbound si lence, the fat man drew a long breath. -You win!" he said to Pedro, a smile like that In the picture over spreading his large countenance. In a second the square was in an -jproar, the crowd expressing its de light noisily. Mr. Lovejoy fed them all generously. Then, just aa the weary Pedro was accepting a cup of coffee and a gigantic plateful of dough nuts from the hand of his patron, the whir of an automobile caused him to look around. All unperceivedr It had been standing near' for some time, and now bestirred itself at the ap proach of the train it had come to meet. As it moved away, a girl In the rear seat stood up for a last backward loom. i tiiuv vruwo, anu men, against the clear, blue of the sky. Pe dro beheld a fleeting vision of red gold hair. (TO BE CONTINUED.) -. " Marvels of Science. -Some day well be telephoning through the air without wires." . "Maybe. But won't it seem queer to nave an operator call back to rou and say. The air is bus now!' "