A Wireless Tragedy
Molly Elliott Seawell
ON a bright June morning, the big liner New York, held in leash at her pier, was trembling and palpitating, the mighty heart of her engines beating fiercely, ready for the word to begin her quick dash across the Atlantic.
Up in the chart-room, Captain Inness sat at the table with Roger Fosbrooke, a keen-eyed, well-set-up man who was one of the lawyers for the company, and Dixon, an extraordinarily dull-looking fellow, shabbily dressed, yet who was one of the most capable men in the detective service of the New York.
“They’re on board, sir,” said Dixon, laying a slip of paper on the table, “and here are their real names, besides their stage names on the steerage-list: Montecorli and Spagnola. I call ’em Macaroni and Spaghetti, and two more determined criminals and scoundrels I never came across. Mr. Fosbrooke here can tell you something about ’em.”
“I assisted in their prosecution,” Fosbrooke explained. “I discovered one alarming fact: they had the command of money, a very unusual thing with criminals of their type. They had an Italian lawyer over here to help in fighting extradition proceedings. After a long tug of war, we succeeded in deporting them, and they are to leave the ship at Cherbourg, where the Italian police are to take charge of them. As I am also one of the counsel for the steamship company, I was asked to cross with them in case they should make trouble for the corporation. I think the Italian lawyer sailed Thursday, and will probably board the ship at Cherbourg.”
“Nobody boards this ship at Cherbourg until he has undergone a civil service ex-
amination at the hands of the purser,” asserted the captain, a big, handsome man, fine in his “leaving port full-dress.”
“There is one precaution I request you to take,” said Fosbrooke to the captain. “It would be just as well to direct the wireless operator to let you see first every message that is taken from either side while we are crossing.”
“Certainly,” the captain replied.
“And it would be well, too,” put in Dixon, “to look after their baggage. I saw them aboard, and, besides a lot of boxes and bundles, they put two boxes in the hold. Now, men working on infernal machines, like these fellows, get very reckless about explosives, and they would no more mind stowing away a few sticks of dynamite or some bottles of high explosives in the hold of a big ship, than a pious, church-going lady would mind smuggling in a fiftv-thousand-dollar string of pearls, under the nose of customhouse officers.”
Captain Inness gave a little jump. His interest in the extradition and capture of a couple of desperate ruffians was purely academic, but when it came to high explosives packed in the hold of the New York, his feelings at once became personally involved.
“I’ll have the boxes opened and overhauled,” said the captain, touching a bell.
“And I’ll be present at the overhauling,” answered Dixon. “I have opened a good many dangerous packages in my time, and I think I can do the trick safety”
Fosbrooke went down the ladder with the detective and stood on the promenadedeck, watching the animated scene of a June sailing-day. Suddenly, on the crowd-
ed deck, his eye fell upon Elizabeth Campion, conspicuous for her height, her fairness, her slenderness, and that air of distinction which is worth beauty ten times over.
Fosbrooke was forty-one years old, and thought that the time for palpitations and agitations with him ought to be over. But in that moment he realized it was not any more over for him than for his twentytwo-year-old nephew and namesake, Roger Fosbrooke. It was this boy who had come between Elizabeth Campion and himself.
A year and a half before, people were speculating how soon Fosbrooke’s engagement to Miss Campion would be announced. In a moment of good nature, Fosbrooke, who really loved the junior Roger, took the boy, then a Yale senior, to call upon the Campions.
A perfectly grotesque thing followed. The junior Roger fell violently in love with Elizabeth Campion, who was exactly six years older than he. To make matters worse, he took his chum, Geoffry Todd, who was but a trifle older than himself, to inspect the adorable Elizabeth. And what should Geoffry do but also fall in love with her!
The rivalry between these two young men had passed from a joke into a serious matter. From friends, they became rivals, and from rivals, they became enemies with the strong enmity of two strong young natures.
When Fosbrooke dined at the Campions’ two or three times that winter, each time he found one or the other of these younsters among the guests. He did not even know Geoffry Todd’s name. The suspicion that both these youngsters were stop-gaps did not occur to him. He dropped in at the opera two or three times, and, looking up, saw one of the two young men in the Campions’ box. He did not suspect that they haunted the footsteps of Elizabeth, and that after they had slipped into the box, neither she nor Mrs. Campion, an amiable and well-bred woman, nor her father, who liked the society of young men, had the heart to turn them out. Fosbrooke was annoyed and displeased with Elizabeth for permitting these young men to hang about her. He realized for the first time that the hair A was growing thin on the top of his head,® and he was trifling with a pince-nez before®
coming to downright spectacles. Elizabeth Campion, although only twentyeight, was mature beyond her years, and Fosbrooke was so piqued at her permitting the public attention of these two boys, that he quietly withdrew from her circle, and ceased his visits to her house.
One is easily lost in the whirlpool of New York, and he had not met Elizabeth Campion for a year, until he saw her standing on the deck, holding her mother’s arm. Then Fosbrooke knew that he had not forgotten her; he never could forget her. Perhaps he had been a fool to forego her sweet society because he was bothered by seeing his nephew and another youngster dancing attendance on her—there is no age-limit on fools. While these thoughts were passing through Fosbrooke’s mind, the two young men—Roger Fosbrooke, junior, and Geoffry Todd, whose name Fosbroke neither knew nor wanted to know—marched down the pier and met at the gangway at the same instant. Each carried a monstrous bouquet of roses; Geoffry Todd’s was white and Roger Fosbrooke’s red. As they caught sight of each other, each sprinted up the gangway into the great ship and dashed, neck and neck, to the promenade-deck, and at identically the same moment greeted Elizabeth Campion and presented their bouquets. The passengers saw the state of affairs, and an audible smile went round, while a couple of deck-stewards snickered openly. Elizabeth herself, while smiling and self-possessed, could not wholly mask a shade of annoyance that passed over her face; she did not relish being made ridiculous in the presence of several hundred passengers. It was, therefore, with a strictly impartial smile that she accepted the two bouquets.
“So kind of you,” she murmured. “Such lovely flowers. I never could tell which I liked better, red roses or white.”
The two young men were fine specimens of well-bred young Americans. Geoffry Todd, on the strength of his twenty-five years, and his being a salaried clerk for a big law firm, assumed the air of a man of the world. Roger Fosbrooke was a magnificent type of robust, clean young manhood. He had rowed stroke in the university boat race, and carried off university honors, and was at that moment con-
sidering where he should bestow his talents. He thought perhaps he might bestow them on his Uncle Roger, a very decent old chap, who had a thumping law practice.
Young Fosbrooke’s fixed intention had been to follow Elizabeth on her European trip. He had, however, been so thoroughly sat upon when he made the suggestion to his inamorata, that he proposed to his ex-chum that they call a truce, and that neither should follow Elizabeth abroad. Geoffry Todd, who did not have the money to go, agreed to this proposition with a lofty air of magnanimity.
Elizabeth’s manner toward them had in it a species of frozen sweetness, which was not encouraging. By way of showing his superiority over Roger Fosbrooke, Geoffry Todd said good-by first and went to his place of business. Roger, however, had to be dragged away by his uncle and fairly thrown down the gangway, when the cry resounded :
“All ashore that are going ashore.”
Meanwhile, the elder Fosbrooke, with something like smiling malice, had greeted Elizabeth. If anything could have been annoying to her, it was that Fosbrooke should have been on hand at that moment. It looked exactly as if she were playing these two boys off against each other.
Elizabeth soon sought the seclusion of her deck-suite, and did not go out on deck again until they had passed quarantine and the New York was rushing straight for Rotterdam. Presently Fosbrooke came up and greeted her and her mother. Nothing could have been easier than the attitude of Elizabeth and Fosbrooke toward each other. Nevertheless, he had been perilously near proposing to her the year before, and he resented bitterly, after the manner of men, that she had not read his mind, and had not thrown herself at his head.
When luncheon was served—that first luncheon on board, at which everybody is in great spirits and has a good appetite— Fosbrooke found himself seated on the captain’s left, while the vice-president of the steamship company, Mr. McMichael, an insignificant-looking but highly important person, was on the captain’s right. Some distance lower down sat Elizabeth and her mother. Fosbrooke and the vicepresident were talking together when
Captain Inness came in and took his place at the head of the table. Scarcely had he unfolded his napkin when his boy appeared and whispered something in his ear. The captain rose at once and walked quickly out of the saloon up to his room. There Dixon, the detective, and a worriedlooking baggage-master, awaited him.
“As I told you, sir,” said Dixon, “those two blasted anarchists each brought a box on board with him, and they were stowTed away with the other steerage luggage in the hold before I could notify the baggage-master. Now, it ain’t safe to put anarchists’ luggage in the hold of a steamship, and I asked the baggage-master to look out for those two boxes, but he hasn’t been able to find ’em. They certainly haven’t been thrown overboard, because I have kept my eye upon Macaroni and Spaghetti, and they haven’t had a chance to do it.”
“You have not had time to give as thorough a search as you should,” answered Captain Inness tartly. “Those boxes must be found or accounted for. You go yourself”—to the baggage-master “Don’t trust anybody else, and report to me whether those two boxes are on board or not.”
The captain returned to the diningsaloon, and the baggage-master, looking more worried than ever, went back to begin again his search among the luggage of the steerage passengers, while Dixon watched Macaroni and Spaghetti.
After luncheon, Dixon, who was of a responsive nature and yearned for sympathy, came up to Fosbrooke as he was smoking aft.
“You see, Mr. Fosbrooke,” said Dixon, “them boxes may be collapsible, and those two rapscallions may have got dangerous things out of them, and the boxes may this minute be in use as checkerboards. You ain’t got an idea what devilish tricks Black Handers are up to!”
“A couple of Black Handers, as you call them, with disappearing boxes, are certainly not good company,” answered Fosbrooke, offering Dixon a Reina Regente cigar; “but I have got used to the Black Hand and the Mafia, too, in prosecuting this type of criminal. I suppose I have had a dozen threatening letters about these same fellows, promising me death
in various unpleasant ways, if they were deported.”
In the course of the afternoon, Fosbrooke, with a man’s revenge, watched his chance to speak to Elizabeth Campion while her mother was present; but when Mrs. Campion went to her room for a siesta, and the chair next Elizabeth was vacant, Fosbrooke chose to devote himself to another lady, whom he disliked extremely, and afterwards walked the deck for an hour with McMichael, in full view of Elizabeth. Miss Campion, on her part, appeared entirely absorbed in a novel.
Fosbrooke was late in dressing for dinner, and, going out upon the deserted deck, in the soft June evening, he saw a solitary figure sitting on a camp-stool in a sheltered corner. It was Elizabeth, her fair head bare, a crimson mantle wrapped about her slight figure. She was looking with darkly meditative eyes at a young moon trembling in a sky all rose and amethyst. Fosbrooke felt himself irresistibly drawn toward her, but vengeance was still in his mind.
“I congratulate you,” he said, sitting on the edge of a steamer-chair. “I don’t think another lady in the ship received two such hay-stacks as you did from my small nephew^ and the unknown kid.”
Elizabeth turned her glance upon him with perfect calmness.
“I never felt so ridiculous in my life as when those two boys put those haystacks, as you call them, in my hands. I like both of the boys extremely, you understand, but the bouquets were much too large.”
“It represented their feelings,” declared Fosbrooke, with cool malice. “It has been a question for the last year as to which one your engagement would be announced.”
A deep flush poured into Elizabeth’s face, and the light of anger burned in her eyes.
“I hardly supposed,” she said in a voice of suppressed indignation, “that any one could think me capable of such folly. I am twenty-eight years old, and I thought I conducted myself so that no one could imagine me capable of acting in an undignified manner with two college youths.”
Fosbrooke’s heart smote him, but he continued, like the lizard that in its rage stings itself :
“I am forty-one, but I am not bragging about it. I feel myself, however, very much in the way with university heroes.”
Elizabeth’s face remained warmly flushed, but, most unaccountably and unexpectedly, her eyes Hilled with tears of mortification. She rose with dignity, and, brushing the tears away, said simply:
“I feel mortified at what you have said.”
Those two or three beautiful, bright, unexpected tears were the undoing of Roger Fosbrooke. Five minutes before, when he was tying his white cravat in his room, he had no more intention to ask Elizabeth Campion to marry him than he had of taking a fiv in an aeroplane. But his quick lawyer’s mind, accustomed to read the thoughts of others, put together a rapid hypothesis which was not far from the truth. Perhaps, after all, he had misjudged her; his words had certainly brought her to tears, and she could not therefore be wholly indifferent to him.
“Elizabeth,” he began, and stopped short, appalled. He had not meant to use her first name, a thing he had never done before.
He expected her to turn upon him in wrath. Instead, her eyes, which had been upon him, suddenly fell. There was a quiver of her lips and of her dark lashes, that haled Fosbrooke’s heart out of his body. The same strange force that had brought tears to Elizabeth’s eyes made Fosbrooke take her hand in the presence of an industrious sailor sweeping the deck, who considerately turned his back upon them.
“I have thought of you many times in the past year, but I have not Deen to see you because-”
Elizabeth, who was as quick of wit and as courageous as Fosbrooke, suddenly broke into a ravishing smile, and let her hand remain in his, as she said in a low voice resonant with laughter:
“You thought I liked those boys? I didn’t in the way you thought.”
“Good Lord !” said Fosbrooke. “If I had but known !”
“You would have known if you had not been very stupid,” murmured Eliza-
beth, returning the gentle pressure of Fosbrooke’s hand.
It was not much, but it was enough. The sailor sweeping the deck winked at a passing aecx-steward, who returned the wink with a grin. They both saw what was up.
When Fosbrooke and Elizabeth Campion entered the big, resplendent diningroom, txiey were practically engaged to be married.
An hour later, in New York, Geoffry Todd was finishing a melancholy dinner at the Yale Club. The only consolatory thought he had was that Roger Fosbrooke, who usually sat at a table offensively near, was absent. Clean-shaven, well-setup youngsters passed back and forth and spoke to Geoffry Todd, but got short answers in return. When his coffee came, he put his hand in his pocket to find his cigarette-case and with it drew out a passenger-list of the New York. Idly he began to read it. When he came to the F’s the last name was “Roger Fosbrooke.”
Geoffry jumped to his feet. So the infernal cad and liar had gone back on his word, and had sailed upon the same ship as Miss Campion ! The thought made Geoffry Todd grind his teeth. It was not in American flesh and blood to stand this sort of treatment calmly. He darted out to the telephone exchange and demanded to know the nearest wireless station. It was given him. Tne place was down bv the Battery and close to the steamship offices.
Geoffry Todd jumned into a taxicab, and half an hour later the wireless operator, in his eyrie, turned to see an infuriated young man marching in.
“Are you in communication with the New York?” asked Geoffry.
“Yep,” replied the wireless man.
“Then send this,” said Geoffry, handing out a message he had written during his spin down-town. “How much?”
“Seven dollars and sixty cents,” said the wireless man, after counting the words.
Geoffry handed out the money with the one word:
On board the New York, all the persons at the captain’s table, including McMichael and Fosbrooke, were seated when Captain In ness appeared.
He succeeded this time in unfolding his napkin and taking a spoonful of soup before his boy again gave him a whispered message. The captain excused himself and left the table.
In his room, awaiting him, were the baggage-master and Dixon.
“I have examined every piece of luggage in the hold of this ship, sir,” said the baggage-master, “and I can’t find those boxes. They aren’t aboard the ship.”
“The boxes may not be aboard as boxes,” suggested Dixon, advancing the same theory that he had to Fosbrooke that afternoon, and in the same words. “They may be collapsible, and them two anarchists may be at this blessed minute playing checkers on them boxes, and what was inside of ’em may be stowed away somewhere in the ship.”
“I never thought about the boxes being collapsible,” said the worried baggagemaster. “I will look and see if I can find anything that might once have been a box.”
Three hours later, when Fosbrooke had said good-night to Elizabeth, he and Mr. McMiehael were sitting up with the càptain in his room, enjoying a friendly smoke. Suddenly the baggage-master appeared at the door. He carried in his hand some pieces of black leatherette covering a board, which had evidently once been a box. Dixon was looking over his shoulder.
“Here is what I found, sir,” said the baggage-master.
Then Dixon, beaming with professional pride, took the centre of the stage.
“It is just as I thought, sir,” he told the captain. “By some means, them fellows got the insides out of those boxes, and the Lord knows what them insides are made of—gun-cotton, or maybe nitroglycerine. I got a friend of miñe to get them two Eyetalians into a discussion on the rights of man, and while they were dancing about and calling him a thief, a rogue, and a liar for saying that the laws of property should be respected, I managed to examine every one of their dirty bundles and bags, and didn’t find anything that could ever have been inside one of those boxes.”
Dixon handed a piece of the box to the captain, and pointed out that it might
once have held a large camera. The only thing which could possibly identify them was a name written in ink on the inside, and partly erased, of which the three first letters were T O D.
“As I supposed,” said Mr. McMichael, lighting another cigar, “we have a couple of desparate anarchists on board, who brought something in boxes, which they managed to abstract, and then break up the boxes. The contents can’t be found, and may be dangerous explosives or an infernal machine.”
“Just so,” assented Dixon.
Captain Inness’s ruddy face turned a trifle pale. Storms and fogs and icebergs had no terrors for him, but the thought of two boxes full of high explosives in the hands of a couple of anarchists on a crack liner was uisturbing to him.
At that moment the wireless operator on board walked in and silently laid before the captain a message written out. It was addressed to Roger Fosbrooke. and read as follows:
You are a liar and a thief, but I will get even with you yet.—Tono.
The captain read it and passed it over to Fosbrooke, who also read it, and passed it to McMichael, who in turn gave it to Dixon.
“I got a horse-load of these things during the extradition proceedings,” said Fosbrooke coolly. “They don’t amount to anything/’
Dixon pointed out the letters TOD on the broken box. McMichael looked a little startled, and so did the captain.
“I don’t know anybody named Todd.” said Fosbrooke. “But this evidently comes from somebody who can afford to pay for wireless messages. I shall reply to it, and the operator here will signal the man on shore to keep watch on the sender of this message, and to send every one lie wants to send. We may trap him that way, you know.”
Dixon beamed on Fosbrooke:
“You oughter been on the detective force,” he said with admiration.
Then Fosbrooke wrote out carefully and amended at the suggestion of Captain Inness the following reply:
I don’t know who you are, and don’t care. If you feel like threaten-
ing me by wireless, send all you want, and I will pay the BILL.-ROGER FOSBROOKE.
The wireless man counted the words and said briefly: “Eighteen dollars and twenty-five cents,” which Fosbrooke paid.
At twelve o’clock that night, just as Fosbrooke had turned in, the wireless man came to his room, and handed him a message which read:
As you are a scoundrel and a liar.
I do not suppose you would pay a dollar for any thing you promised. But just to prove that you are a liar, and a scoundrel. 1 send you this message collect, and have left the money with the operator to pay for it when it comes back unpaid.
‘Thirty dollars, even, said the wireless man, and continued: “The man at the other end says that the fellow who is sending this doesn't seem to understand in the least that he is walking into a trap, and he can be arrested at any moment. The police are on to him.”
^ ”\\ e won t arrest him yet awhile,” said Fosbrooke. “I'll give him a little more rope.”
1 he rooms in that particular gangway were occupied solely by men. every one of whom was awake and heard this mysterious conversation. Fosbrooke then wrote out his reply :
^ ou can call for your money at wireless station number three. Ÿour lying dispatch is received, and it really gave me pleasure to pay for it.
I don't know who you are. but I hazard the assertion that you are a rogue of the first water. Send all you want, and I will pay for it.
“Twenty-eight dollars and fortv cents,” said the operator.
I osbrooke fished out the monev and turned over and went to sleep, to dream of Elizabeth Campion.
rl he next morning Elizabeth breakfasted in her room, and Captain Inness. McMichael. and Fosbrooke had breakfast together. The day was a glorious one. the ocean all blue and silver, while not a single cloud flecked the sunlit skv.
The captain’s soul, however, was not as placid as the exterior conditions. Nor did either Fosbrooke or McMichael feel entirely at ease. It costs only a two-cent stamp to send a threatening letter, but so far the mysterious Todd had put up many good American dollars for the pleasure of making threats against Fosbrooke. A criminal with money is t /entv times as dangerous as a criminal without.
Once on deck, however, and walking up and down with Elizabeth in the first secret rapture of an acknowledged love, Fosorooke put all sinister thoughts behind him.
Meanwhile, something had leaked out. The wireless man was a bridegroom with a wife on board, and the lady was a chatter-box, and had promptly established friendly relations with the second-cabin stewardess, whose sister was a first-cabin stewardess, and whose daughter was a steerage stewardess. It was plain to everybody that something mysterious was going on in connection with the wireless service. The story ran that there were on board a couple of anarchists, who had in their possession several infernal machines, which nobody could find, and which were likely to explode any moment in the steamer’s hold.
The psychology of a shipload of people is peculiar. Mental phases are as contagious as measles or scarlet fever. It was in vain that the stewards and stewardesses, after they had had a fierce wigging in the purser’s office, went about, pooh-poohing these tales, but as they themselves were not convinced, they could convince nobody else. The purser, a handsome, dark-eyed, resolute Scotchman, lied vigorously, but found no one who would believe him. A couple of clergymen, coming to inquire of the purser about the disquieting reports, were told to go to Gehenna. Instead, they went to the captain and complained of the purser. Captain Inness promised a reprimand, which was never delivered. Nevertheless, whenever the captain thought of the contents of those broken boxes concealed somewhere about the ship, and of the strange threats by wireless, he felt hollow inside. The passengers were more difficult to pacify, because so many had witnessed the proceedings at the captain’s table. Half a dozen men had heard
the wireless message delivered on Saturday night to Fosbrooke. The doctor, a nice little man, talked soothingly to the ladies, assuring them that the wireless messages received by Fosbrooke all related to some legal business he had left behind unfinished in New York. His lies were as unavailing as the purser’s. Fosbrooke, himself, with his ready lawyer’s intelligence, concocted, with the assistance of the wireless man, a series of forged messages, which he declared to be those he had received and sent, but not even Elizabeth Campion believed him.
Dixon’s and the baggage-master’s search went on quietly but ceaselessly in the hold, and among the steerage passengers’ luggage, but nothing was found. Macaroni and Spaghetti added to the quota of lies, and swore that they had not brought on board any such boxes, and when confronted with the broken pieces professed not to have seen them before.
It would seem as if a malign destiny brought every message at a time when it was sure to be noticed. Just as the passengers came up from luncheon on Mondays the operator met Fosbrooke with Elizabeth, and handed him another message. It read as follows:
You think yourself safe in your villainy. Just wait and see. You can’t be put in jail, but there are some things a good deal worse than going to jail. I have it in for you, and don’t you forget it. And I am not the only one EITHER.-TODD.
This message cost thirty-two dollars, which had been paid. Fosbrooke concocted the following reply:
Go to the devil.
However he might make light of the messages he was receiving, they were not without an unpleasant effect. His coming aboard seemed to have brought terrible danger to everybody on the ship. This of itself was a cruel reflection, but when Fosbrooke thought of Elizabeth Campion, his heart was like to break.
The wireless man told Fosbrooke:
“The man at the other end says there won’t be the least difficulty in nabbing the fellow who sends these messages. He is a smooth-faced, handsome young chap, the last man on earth one would suppose
to be mixed up with a gang of undesirable citizens. The police department is completely puzzled why this young man should be used as a tool by an anarchist group.”
The excitement in the ship steadily grew, nor was it in the power of any one to calm it. The subtle atmosphere of danger affected every one, although some managed to conceal it. Among the latter were Fosbrooke and Elizabeth Campion. The forward rail of the promenade, which looked down directly upon the steerage, was always crowded with anxious faces. The two Italians, Montecorli and Spagnola, otherwise known as Macaroni and Spaghetti, were avoided by their fellow steerage passengers with superstition as well as actual fear. A fellow-countryman credited them both with having the evil eye, and predicted that, even if no actual explosion occurred on the ship, disaster of some sort was impending.
The usual wireless message came to Fosbrooke on Tuesday. It ran:
You are an infernal cur, cad, and coward, but you will yet pay dearly for your scoundrelly conduct.
To this Fosbrooke’s reply was:
You are the most infernal cur, cad, and coward that walks the earth.
These messages doubled in expense, as they came through two ships. The transmitting operators inquired of the wireless man on the New York what it all meant, but the New York’s operator was able to put up an effective and substantial bluff.
On Wednesday, Fosbrooke’s wireless cocktail and appetizer for luncheon ran as. follows:
You think yourself safe in your villainy, but look out. I am on your track.
To this, Fosbrooke replied:
All right. See if you can make good.
Thursday’s message was transmitted through three ships. It was:
So far you are slightly ahead in the game, but wait.
At present, the game appears to be mine.
On Friday, the inevitable message from the mysterious “Todd,” was more expensive, as it was cabled to the other side, and came by the wireless station at Fartnet. Apparently, “Todd” had run out of epithets, for he merely sent a quotation :
Justice moves with a leaden heel, but strikes with an iron hand.
To this Fosbrooke replied, by the same roundabout and expensive method:
You stole that remark. Apply it to yourself.
On Saturday, about twelve o’clock, came the serious business of handing the two anarchists over to the Italian police at Cherbourg.
As the great ship steamed into the splendid roadstead, the tender put off from the jetty, and made like an arrow for the big, black hull,, panting and trembling after her three-thousand-mile sprint. A great many passengers had suddenly made up their minds to get off at Cherbourg, and the deck was piled high with luggage.
Every piece that came up from the hold was handled tenderly by the stewards, and there was as little concussion as possible. Hanging over the rail of the steerage deck, were the two Italians. The} made no motion as if to leave the ship, but as soon as the lower gangway was open a couple of brawny quartermasters laid their heavy hands on the Italians’ shoulders, while Dixon gathered their bags and bundles and stood behind them. Macaroni and Spaghetti began a shrill protest, but at that moment they caught sight of a couple of fellow countrymen in police uniforms on the tender’s deck. Instantly they grew quiet. As they were marched off toward the gangway, they came face to face with Fosbrooke.
f “Here,” said he, holding up two goldpieces, “are a couple of American eagles. Can you produce what was in those boxes that you brought aboard and broke up?”
The sight of the money seemed to reanimate the two Italians. They looked at each other, and their mouths came open as if they were on hinges.
“Yes, sir,” said Macaroni. “If the detective gentleman will go and look behind a big green trunk in the forward hold, he will find a bundle of New York newspapers. We brought them aboard to sell, but the steerage passengers would not buy, and so we threw them in the hold, and broke up the boxes.”
Then Spaghetti added, with a still broader grin:
“We saw that the detective gentleman was very agitated, so we broke up the boxes, and put them where they would worry the detective gentleman.”
Dixon disappeared at this point, and the two Italians, the two big quartermasters, and Fosbrooke, with his gold pieces, remained in statu quo for five minutes, until Dixon returned, bearing the bundles of New York newspapers, dated Saturday, June 5, the week previous. With a smile that rivalled in width and intensity those of the two Italians, Fosbrooke gave each a gold-piece.
“Now,” he said, “clear out.”
The quartermasters marched them over the gangway, where they readily and affably joined the two Italian gentlemen in police clothes, who exhibited a mysterious badge that had a thoroughly subduing influence upon both Macaroni and Spaghetti.
In ten minutes the story was known over the whole ship, and several passengers changed their minds about going ashore at Cherbourg. A feeling of hysterical relief seized everybody from the captain and Mr. McMichael, down to the ship’s boys. People laughed and protested that they had never believed in the infernal machine theory at any time. Dixon was a pitiable sight, as he sat, his ears in his hands, and bewailed himself.
“Them durned scoundrels played a dirty game on me. They didn’t even make a row about going ashore,” he lamented. “And all that wireless stuff, that cost a mint of money, was nothing but hot air!”
“It seems to me just like the threatening letters that were sent to me during the rosecution of these men,” replied Fosrooke.
When the tender had steamed away, and the New York turned her nose once more toward the wide, bright ocean, Fosbrooke said to Elizabeth :
“I have sent a good many disagreeable things by wireless, but I should like to send something a little different. Will you allow me to send the announcement of our engagement so it can appear in Sunday’s newspapers? You see, I am not taking any chances this time.”
“I shouldn’t mind,” said Elizabeth, with a blush.
Twelve hours later, when it was seven o’clock in New York, Geoffry Todd was sitting down to a solitary dinner in the dining-room of the Yale Club. It had been a week of strenuous emotions to him. The more he brooded upon Roger Fosbrooke’s treachery, the more infamous it appeared. He raised his eyes, and there, sitting at the next table to him, was the junior Roger Fosbrooke.
Geoffry Todd was so staggered that for a minute or two he could neither move nor speak. Then, as in a dream, he noticed Roger Fosbrooke unfold a newspaper, glance at it, and, with an exclamation, dash it down on the table, and half rise from his chair.
Geoffry Todd got up and went over to him. Astonishment so possessed Geoffry that he scarcely knew whether he was drunk or sober, awake or asleep. Roger’s expression was one of woe, pure and simple. He pointed to a paragraph in the newspaper. It read :
The engagement is announced of Mr. Roger Charlton Fosbrooke to Miss Elizabeth Campion, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Campion, of Fifth Avenue and Campion Hall, Westchester County.
“That is my uncle,” said Roger, with tears in his eyes. “I always liked the old fellow until now. He got on that steamer, meaning to play it low on me. He is a confounded old sneak, and I shall tell him so. I’ll cable it to him.”
“No, don’t,” said Geoffry, dropping into a chair, his usually fresh-colored face Quiet white. “Look here. I thought Roger Fosbrooke was you, and here is what has been going on by wireless.” Geoffry Todd took from his breast pocket a bunch of telegrams, all neatly written out. Roger blinked the tears away, and read the telegrams carefully. As the two
young men sat, their heads close together over the small round table, each grew limp and pallid.
“I see it all now,” said Geoffry, mopping his forehead. “Just as you say, your uncle is an infernal old sneak. The idea of a man of forty-one marrying a girl of twenty-eight. It is perfectly disgusting. That is all I can say.”
“But what are you going to do about it?” asked Roger forlornly.
Geoffry pondered a moment.
“Have some champagne,” he said. “Get all the fellows here and treat ’em. Take two boxes at the theatre, and march all the fellows up to see the giddy girls dance, and send our warmest congratulations to the happy pair—ha! ha!”
On Sunday, in London, Fosbrooke received the following cablegram:
We desire to offer you our sincerest felicitations upon the prize you have won. We foresaw it long before it happened, and very much regretted what seemed to be a temporary estrangement between you and the lady. Best wishes.
It was signed “Roger Fosbrooke and Geoffry Todd.”
The name “Todd” startled Fosbrooke. He took the cablegram to Elizabeth Campion, in her sitting-room, as she sat at the open window, looking out upon the green stretches of Kensignton Gardens, and thought herself the happiest woman in the world.
“Who is Todd?” asked Fosbrooke. “The other boy,” answered Elizabeth. “Do you know they actually wanted to sail on the Neiv Yorkf But I put a stop at once to their nonsense.”
A light was dawning upon Fosbrooke. “And Todd found out that a Roger Fosbrooke sailed with you.”
He struck his forehead. “I see it all now. Oh, Lord ! I shall have to cable back to the Police Department at New York immediately.”
This he did, together with another cablegram addressed to Roger Fosbrooke and Geoffry Todd at the Yale Club.
Many thanks for your kind wishes. Todd seems to have made a mistake in my identity. Wireless comes high, but we must have it.