"What Will His Lordship Say?”
THE Honorable Clarence Reginald Charles Tupperton sat limp in a chair. Aided by the slightest turn of his head, the Tupperton organs of vision could have gazed through one of the Empress Hotel's best windows and feasted on the harbor view for which Victoria, B.C., is famous. Hut the eyes oi Lord [`okesherry's ,dt'st son seen ed riot froni the hands of George `l'ookes, it ho at that moment deftv removed a cork from ii `k~tiie. accur'atey poured three tinger~ ito a ,tass arld iliL Utlt'tl it to his gut'~t 1th the so:icitous air of a nurse :irr'tidiric a at'al~hv. tf shattered. patient.
W~1. by Jove~' uid Ge~rge for the t~t~eth urne. The giddy old world `flh~1I what? Fancy old Tuppy being on the V. hat a `ruise, though old boy! Spain, italy, vpt, India, ` hina, Japan, Victoria, Vancouver thcn overtand to Ncw York and back to Blighty. (y word. Tuppv, what a `ruise!''
R~r~tri `.~id th~ traveler, emptying his glass.
nr~rrned the honorable Tuppy. "D'you rntnd i I help rnvs~'!~' I'm feeling rather low.'
Oki boy.•• said Gt~urge, pushing the bottle nearer to Ut'~t. YUUvt~ got something on your bean. Let be a lather to you.'
Fat ht~ snorted Tuppy. `Father f'.' btovcd~
Ua~d!y sp~ctfu1 to Lord Pokes t~r~y. d suggested George. how s ftc o~d tribal chieftain?"
The reference to his own male parent seemed to affect Tuppy deeply. Again he drained his glass.
Then he sighed.
"He’s so infernally healthy that he thinks he ought to regulate other
George emitted a sympathetic Ah!" and handed over the syphon.
The Honorable Mr. Tupperton fixed a gloomy eye on his confessor and unburdened himself. “George,” he growled, “I never had a fair start. -Just look at the name they hung on me—Clarence Reginald Charles Tupperton! And the blessed family insist, mind you, on calling me Reginald!”
The unhappy man groaned and poured himself another three fingers of solace.
Not content with that, George, not content with perpetually sloshing about dear Reginald grooming himself for the day when he will succeed to a blinking title I don’t want, for over a year the pater’s been hounding me—literally hounding me, George—to get married.”
People do get married, of course,” suggested George. Tuppy looked at him reproachfully. “If they feel like that sort of thing, I suppose it’s all right. But I don t. And I won’t be pushed into it. I’m damned ¡f 111 be heaved into it. I can’t stand the girl at any price.”
Ah! exclaimed George. “The old boy’s picked a rose for you, what?”
A Violet,” corrected Tuppy.
I say, not Violet Brompton?”
Tuppy nodded in the manner of a man on the scaffold. “I m like a hunted animal,” he groaned. “Lady Brompton’s made up her mind to bag me for her daughter. She’s made up pater’s mind, too. That wouldn’t he so bad, but Violet’s continually making it plain that she thinks I'm—I’m—”
"The electron’s biceps,” supplied George. “Rather a pretty girl, though.”
The Honorable Tuppy shuddered. “She giggles. She gushes. She makes frightful faces when she plays tennis. She dotes on tea fights. I abominate tea.”
Violet wa3 obviously a touchy subject with the man. "Her precious mother and she fairly dogged my footsteps for six months,” he went on. “Six horrible months. I couldn’t go anywhere without them bobbing up. It got on my nerves, George. Then I read about this round the world cruise. ‘Here’s my chance to get a breather,’ I said. And I’m hanged if the first people I met on board weren’t Lady Brompton and the precious Volet. Cunning! They’d never let on they were going. Knew jftliy well I’d bolt if I guessed it. And, by George, you don’t know how I’ve suffered. Everywhere, everywhere, on the ship, in Egyptian tombs, in Japanese
The emancipation of the Honorable Clarence Reginald Charles Tupperton may have been due to blind chance, to a taste of freedom, or to the captain s daughter — that’s a matter of opinion. But it fortunate that he knew how to use his fists.
temples, everywhere I’ve had them clamped to me. Fairly clamped. They’re downstairs now. They’d just gone off to powder their noses or you’d never have been able to pry me away from ’em. And now there’s five days on a beastly train and a week in New York, and I can’t shake ’em. They’re booked on the same boat to Southampton. Cunning! I’m a wreck, George, an absolute wreck.”
For a full minute George sat studying the carpet. Then a look of enlightenment overspread his face.
“What time does the Orentic sail for Vancouver?” he demanded.
Tuppy thought it was seven o’clock next morning.
“Well, look here, old boy. Why not sneak aboard, have your luggage put off, and lie low here until she’s gone?”
Tuppy gave a harsh sort of laugh. “You don’t know Lady Brompton and her bright offspring, or you’d know a dodge like that wouldn’t wash. They’ve tipped my steward to be on the lookout for that sort of thing. No, George, it’s a question of Fate. If Fate doesn’t snatch me out of it, I’m a gonner.”
George shook his head sadly. “This is deucedly morbid,” he said. “Here’s a lad who’s been light heavyweight champion not only of a varsity but of a blooming army corps behaving like a bally jelly fish. After all, old boy, you’re old enough—”
The classic Tupperton features were suddenly illuminated. “George,” he cried, “that reminds me. This is my twenty-ninth birthday.”
T TWO o’clock in the morning the Honorable Clarence Reginald Charles Tupperton edged stealthily out of the elevator with Mr. George Tookes in close attendance. Catlike, if unsteadily, he sought the cover of a pillar while Mr. Tookes made a reconnoitre of the rotunda. Then, assured that no feminine ambush lurked there, the two madetheir way out and hailed a taxi.
“—tic,” murmured Tuppy to the driver. “What’s that, sir?”
“It’s a ship. Funnels, and all that sort of thing,” explained Tuppy.
“Oh, the Orentic! Yes, sir. Outer wharf.” The Honorable Tuppy was assisted inside the cab.
“Tuppy,” exclaimed George, leaning through the window, “for the sake of the honor of the bally empire, don’t be squashed.”
“01’ man,” responded Tuppy tearfully, “I’m on the laps of the gods.”
Ten minutes later, the taxi pulled up at the outer wharf. The Honorable Mr. Tupperton descended, paid the driver, greeted with dignity the policeman on duty at the entrance, and entered the shed.
The Orentic, at this hour a huge, dim dormitory, lay at the far end of the wharf, on the right hand side of the shed. The Tupperton sense of direction being somewhat impaired, that gentleman, in the course of a slightly erratic course down the wharf, bore over to the left. Through the vagueness of the shed there suddenly appeared the end of a sloping gangway. A gangway being just what Tuppy was seeking, he mounted it and reached a deck. Edging cautiously along, he came to an open doorway. Stumbling through it, he groped for the light switch. Just at the moment that he made the surprising discovery that the switch was not in its usual place, his knees came in contact with a hard wooden bench. Mr. Tupperton flopped. A minute later he was soundly slumbering.
At five o’clock in the morning, two hours before the palatial Orentic was due to sail, the coast wise steamer Tallicum backed out from her berth, swung into midstream and headed for Prince Rupert. Chasing sleep from his eyes with his knuckles, Slops Moffat, the steamer’s cook, ambled along the deck toward his galley with the object of starting breakfast. Mr. Moffat got one foot over the threshold. Then he suddenly stiffened. Stretched out on the galley bench lay a young man clad in full evening wear. On the floor, his coat, hat, and cane lay in a heap. For one tense moment the cook stood poised in the doorway. Then with a yell he turned and dashed along the deck.
ON THE outskirts of the village of Little Stubbs, Kent, England, stands Pokesberry Hall. In the library of the ancestral home of the Pokesberrys lies a rich, old rug. Unconsciously doing his utmost to wear it out, Lord Pokesberry paced back and forth. His white hair was rumpled, his face was purple, his hands were clenched behind his back. Separated from His Lordship by a massive desk, Lady Brompton sat on the arm of a chair in which reclined her daughter Violet. From time to time Lady Brompton would smooth back her daughter’s hair, whereupon Miss Violet would apply a very small handkerchief to her eyes, and sniff. At the end of each round trip across the carpet Lord Pokesberry would glare at a hole in the stained-glass window of the library. Five minutes ago Lord Pokesberry had, in a fit of mental anguish, hurled a paper weight through it.
A discreet knock on the door brought Lord Pokesberry to a halt.
“Don’t batter the door down, come in,” he roared.
• The injunction was obeyed by a thin, apologeticlooking man of watery eye. As agent of the Pokesberry Estate for some thirty years, Augustus Wimble had had every opportunity to learn what was what concerning his employer. Therefore, if he saw the gash in the library window, he gave no evidence of being aware of it. He slid gently into the room, bowed to the ladies, and awaited His Lordship’s pleasure.
“Wimble,” snapped Lord Pokesberry, “Reginald is lost.”
“Lost?” ventured Wimble.
“Lost,” barked His Lordship. “How any son of mine could degenerate into such an utter idiot is beyond me, utterly beyond me.”
“Er, I was under the impression that Mr. Reginald was expected back at the same time as Lady Brompton and her daughter,” said Wimble.
“Exactly,” admitted His Lordship. “But I have just told you that he is lost.”
“Dear me,” said Wimble. “I trust no harm has come to him.”
Lord Pokesberry seized a paper from the desk and waggled it in the air.
“This cable arrived this morning. It was sent from Vancouver or some such place. It contains two words— ‘Well. Reginald.’ ”
“Extraordinary,” breathed Wimble.
Lord Pokesberry dashed the offending paper on the floor and waved his hands helplessly.
“I have every reason for believing that Reginald is an ungrateful scallywag.”
“No!” said Wimble.
“Yes!” shouted His Lordship. “Don’t contradict me, Wimble. I won’t be contradicted in my own house.”
Wimble moistened his lips and bowed.
“The situation is this,” continued Lord Pokesberry, resuming his tour of the rug. “Lady Brompton and Violet arrive home this morning. I need not tell you that we, that I had every expectation that Reginald and Violet would, er, well—Lady Brompton brings the amazing news that when the Orentic left Victoria, Reginald was not on it. It seems they had attended a ball with him the previous evening. In the midst of the festivities, Reginald disappeared. All his luggage was on the ship. With the exception of a small amount, all his money was in the purser’s safe. Lady Brompton and Violet stayed two days in Vancouver without getting trace of him. Wires to Victoria failed to find him. In short, Reginald is God knows where, doing God knows what. Such conduct is beyond me, Wimble. Utterly beyond me!”
Wimble opened his mouth to speak, thought better of it, and bowed.
“There are certain obligations attached to the name Pokesberry,” said His Lordship, puffing out his chest. “If Reginald chooses to be an utter imbecile it reflects, it reflects, well, damn it, it does.”
Violet lowered her handkerchief. “I cannot think” she began.
“Don’t,” admonished His Lordship.
“Wimble,” he announced, “I believe there is a ship sailing for Canada from Liverpool to-morrow afternoon. You will catch it. You will go to this Vancouver place. You will find Reginald.
You will bring home to him a sense of his, of his responsibilities to his family. You will, er, you will bring him home.”
“Very good, Your Lordship,” said Wimble doubtfully. And, bowing to the ladies, he went.
AT THE moment Slops Moffat dashed out of the Tallicum’s galley, that vessel’s mate,
Ed Punter, came down from the bridge. He reached the foot of the ladder just in time to receive the full impact of Mr. Moffat in flight.
The mate was about to deliver his choicest prebreakfast speech when the look on the cook’s face halted him.
“What’s biting you?” he demanded.
The cook pointed unsteadily to the galley, turned, and with the mate at his heels, retraced his steps.
Mr. Punter peered through the doorway, gave vent to a curt reference to a certain region of the hereafter and, diving in, proceeded to shake the recumbent form of the Honorable Clarence Reginald Charles Tupperton as if it was a bag of meal.
The figure stirred, and gave utterance. “All right, steward. All right. S’bath ready?”
The mate stepped back in amazement. Then suddenly spurred to action he turned to the cook. “The gent wants a bath, Slops,” he said. “Get a bucket of water.”
From the depths of the icy straits the cook drew a bucket of sea water and conveyed it to the mate who promptly dashed it over the face of the Tallicum’s incongruous guest. The effect was gratifying in the extreme to Punter. The Honorable Mr. Tupperton sat up with a jerk, rolled his tongue around his mouth as if he was trying to dislodge a ball of wool, and in feeble accents begged to be informed as to his whereabouts.
“Aboard the Tallicum, bound for Prince Rupert,” snapped the mate. “Now where the blazes did you blow from?”
“I’m supposed to be on the Orentic,’’ announced the gaily arrayed young gentleman.
The information did not soothe the mate. As is the manner of many sailors who spend their days on grimy coastwise craft, he entertained and fondled an ingrowing scorn for floating hotels. Nor was he more kindly disposed toward dress suits.
“You’re a sweet-looking stowaway,” he jibed, “and no doubt the captain’s going to love you to death, but in the meantime you’d better turn cook’s boy and do something useful for the first time in your life.” Turning to the cook, he added, “And you take blamed good care that he does it, Slops,” and out he went.
Still somewhat dazed, Tuppy rubbed his eyes, yawned, • and then grinned at the cook.
“I can’t say I’m particularly fond of that chap,” he admitted. “Who is he?”
“That’s Ed Punter, the mate and the original twenty minute egg,” said Slops. “And I’ve got to obey orders, too.”
“Quite, old boy,” agreed Tuppy. “What’ll I do?”
“You can peel these spuds and take the rind off the skipper’s bacon,” announced the cook.
Moffat’s amazement over the morning’s extraordinary developments was in nowise lessened by the fact that, far from being downcast, his new helper chuckled continually while engaged in his unfamiliar task.
Things on the galley stove were beginning to sizzle when the mate stuck his head through the door and curtly summoned the stowaway to meet the Tallicum’s commander. Captain Eccles was standing at the foot of the bridge ladder when he saw, coming toward him, a dress suit soaked with salt water and clinging grotesquely to an upstanding, if sadly rumpled, form. The skipper emitted a gasp. His jaw dropped. Then, before he could speak, the door of the deck cabin flew open and a girl stepped out, to stand face to face with the apparition. For an instant she stood, astounded. Then burst forth a peal of joyous laughter.
“Madge!” the skipper reprimanded. The girl stifled her emotion with her handkerchief and stepped back into the cabin. But in that brief moment the Honorable Clarence Reginald Charles Tupperton had noted that
she was fair to look upon. Nor was he oblivious to the fact that she was listening at the open port.
“Well,” demanded the skipper, “what’s your name?”
For a second Tuppy hesitated. Then he flung his shoulders back and in a firm voice said: “Charles Tupperton, sir.”
The skipper’s eye roamed from the crown of Tuppy’s head to the soles of his feet. He bit his lip and looked savage.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself, running away from your nurse the way you’ve done,” said Captain Eccles. “What the devil do you think I’m going to do with you?”
“I’d like very much to work my passage,” said Tuppy.
The skipper looked surprised. His eye twinkled.
“Well, it happens that my steward was taken off at Victoria to be cut up for appendicitis, so I guess you’d better get a hustle on and let’s see how you can wait table and make a bed.”
“Very good, sir,” said Tuppy meekly, and, dismissed, w'ent back to the galley.
“Slops,” he announced to the cook, who, by peering round the door had witnessed and overheard the interview with the captain, “behold the new steward and your new shipmate. Now, Slops, you’re going to be a good egg and stand by me. First, you’re going to lend me a pair of trousers and a jacket until I can get my wardrobe replenished. Second, you’re going to enlighten me as to the duties of a steward on this magnificent vessel. Third, you’re going to accept a rental fee for those pants you’re going to lend me.” And, so saying, Tuppy handed over twenty Canadian dollars, all that he possessed.
This experiment in psychology reacted instantly. In an incredibly short space of time Slops had produced his shore-going pants and the almost white jacket of the Tallicum’s stricken regular steward. Rapidly he had sketched the details of the art of laying a skipper’s table and explained how the food was carried from the galley to the cabin pantry, thence to the table. In ten minutes Lord Pokesberry’s heir was practising balancing a tray. In fifteen minutes he had deposited half the captain’s breakfast in the ship’s scuppers and was being relôaded for another attempt. In half an hour he had made the captain’s bed and was absorbing more instruction and advice in the galley when Miss Eccles looked in and sternly said:
“Steward, you forgot to make my bed.” And, blushing to the roots of his hair, Tuppy went and did as he wTas bid.
By the time supper was over, Charles Tupperton was stewarding in a manner that would have made the Pokesberry’s butler goggle-eyed.
That night, wearied, but enjoying a delicious feeling of freedom, Tuppy toasted his toes in front of the galley stove, smoked one of Slop’s clay pipes, and communed in comradery with the ship’s cook.
“Miss Eccles seems to be a corking sort of girl,” he said. “Does she often accompany her father?
Slops winked sagely. “They don’t make ’em any better than Madge Eccles,” he said. “Her mother died when she was a baby, and the skipper’s just about raised her at sea. She worked her way through college, and she’s a lad} and a good sport. Yes. sir.”
"She’s got nice eyes, murmured Tuppy. dreamily.
The cook leaned forward and poked the new' steward in the ribs with the stem of his pipe. “Y ou d best look out not to stand on the mate’s toes, cause Punter’s got his eyes on her himself,” he warned jokingly.
Tuppy looked annoyed. “What would a girl like t at see in a blighter like him?” he demanded.
“Not much,” admitted the cook. “But shes awful fond of her dad, and because of that mebbe she 11 be Mrs. Punter some day. Y'ou see this here Punters a nephew of the Tallicum’s owner. Now, Captain Eccles
Continued on page 49
“What Will His Lordship Say?”
Continued from page 21
ain't a young man. He’d have a tough time getting another ship, and he ain’t got enough to retire on, even if he could stand being a landlubber, which he couldn’t. So you can put two and two together and make five.”
Tuppy rose to his feet and knocked out his pipe with deliberation. “The rotter,” he said. “The measley rotter.”
ON THE second night out, Tuppy stood under the bridge enjoying a pipe and the stars. His reverie was interrupted by a light footfall on the ladder above him. It was Madge Eccles coming down from her favorite perch beside her father. For an instant she hesitated at the foot of the ladder. Then she stepped to the rail beside him.
Ten minutes later Slops Moffat, the cook, passed them unseen and reported to his mates in the forecastle that he had overheard them discussing a book-writer named Conrad and a “nigger called Sissie, or something.”
Tuppy had just reached the decision that this was the most fascinating conversation he ever had participated in when he was suddenly aware of an evil eye glaring at him through the night. It belonged to Ed Punter, the mate, who had come up from behind.
“Here, you,” he snapped, “stewards who don’t know how to keep their place is asking for trouble. Get away from this part of the ship, and don’t let me see you hanging around again.”
Madge Eccles saw Tuppy’s fist close and his form stiffen. Then he caught her eye, and, with a grin, relaxed. Without a word he turned and walked away. And, with a scornful toss of her head for the benefit of the enraged mate, Miss Eccles entered her cabin.
The next day was one of acute mental turmoil for the Tallicum’s steward. At each meal Punter deliberately set himself out to be nasty. And Tuppy, having been warned by Slops of the trouble which follows the striking of an officer at sea, swallowed it all.
That night, the Tallicum docked at Prince Rupert. Miss Eccles immediately went ashore to visit an old school friend. And Tuppy, having nothing else to do, accepted the invitation of Mr. Slops Moffat for a turn around town.
It was about eleven o’clock when, making their way back to the ship in a fog that had blown in from the sea, Tuppy saw Miss Eccles ahead of them. Through the haze there suddenly lurched the figure of a man, blocking the girl’s way. Tuppy saw the man seize her by the arm, saw him try to embrace her, saw the girl twist herself out of his grasp. Then before the astonished Moffat could realize what had happened, he was sprinting down the road. While still on the bound Tuppy let fly a fist and landed clean on the man’s jaw. And in that moment, he saw that it was Ed. Punter, the mate. The man fell, to rise again with surprising agility for one obviously drunk. With a mad bellow he sprang at Tuppy.
Moffat arrived on the scene to be a spectator of what he afterwards described as being one of the sweetest scraps he ever had seen. There was no science in the mate. Brute force was his medium, and apply it he did. With one wild swing he caught Tuppy on the ear, dazing him. But the Honorable Clarence Reginald Charles Tupperton had not been a varsity champion for nothing. He hung on till his head cleared. Tiren, regaining the full use of his legs, he commenced. Dodging the mate’s rushes, he pounded him in the ribs and stomach until, with a grunt, Punter doubled up. Then a right hook that traveled no more than twelve inches lifted him by the jaw and deposited him with a thud in the gutter. And there he stayed.
Throughout the encounter Miss Eccles had stood motionless and soundless. Then, with a quiet “Thank you, Mr. Tupperton,” she continued her walk.
Tuppy helped the mate to his feet. Without waiting to hear that gentleman’s forecasts of the fate awaiting him, he took Moffat’s arm and went back to the ship tingling with a feeling of complete satisfaction and a swollen ear.
Captain Eccles was at breakfast next morning when the mate stormed in, accused the steward of attacking him, and demanded that Tupperton be handed over
to the police. The skipper , having already received from his daughter a brief version of the previous night’s happenings, listened until the mate had finished in a blaze of threatening language. Quietly he rose to his feet.
“Mr. Punter,” he said, “I’ve got no grudge against the steward. In fact I believe he acted like a gentleman, which is more than can be said of some people.”
“So that’s it,” snarled the mate. “Well, I guess you’ll crow a different tune when we get back to Vancouver and I see my uncle.”
“Punter,” said the skipper, still quiet, “whatever happens at the end of the voyage, I’m captain of this ship now, and I’ll trouble you to keep a civil tongue in your head. What’s more, I don’t care to have you at my table when I’m eating. I’m rather particular.”
Two days later the Tallicum sailed south. In the minds of the crew (who, in the mysterious way of crews, had full information as to what had occurred in the privacy of the cabin) lingered no doubt that it was Captain Eccles’ last trip. They had a pretty shrewd notion, too, that the skipper was well aware of the fact that Charlie, as Tuppy was now known, was born to other pursuits than stewarding. And if they marvelled that Tuppy should continue to steward with all the energy of which he was capable, they admired him for it with genuine, if profane, enthusiasm.
There is every reason for believing that as Tuppy served the potatoes, Captain Eccles discussed with him other matters than those pertaining to salt, pepper and ketchup.
And it is equally certain that when Madge Eccles, in walking the deck at night, saw Tuppy approaching, she did not jump overboard.
As for Punter, he kept himself to himself, and bided his time for vengeance.
IT WAS a slow trip down the coast, as the Tallicum put in at a score of little settlements. Nightly, Tuppy betook himself to the galley to commune with the cook, and nightly he sat and worried while Slops chattered.
Finally he unburdened himself. “Slops,” he confessed, “I wish I could lay my hands on a thousand dollars.”
“Judging by the way you was dressed when I first saw you, I would 'a thought that would be easy,” opined the cook.
“I could get that much and more by merely writing for it, Slops,” he admitted. “But because of certain circumstances which have arisen, I’d sooner be boiled in oil than do it. But I want a thousand dollars, and I’d work my fingers off to get it.”
Which desire was, of course, born of the fact that Tuppy, while in the pantry that afternoon, could not help overhearing Captain Eccles tell Madge that there was a snug little towing business to be picked up cheap at Nanaimo, and that he would buy it were it not for the fact that his savings were one thousand dollars shy of the amount necessary to make the first payment asked.
It was the next morning when Slops Moffat, having secured a Vancouver paper at the last port of call, beckoned Tuppy into the galley and laid a greasy finger on a paragraph on thesportingpage. It concerned one Lefty Muggins, Champion Light Heavyweight, who touching Vancouver in the course of a barnstorming trip, offered through his manager to pay the sum of one thousand dollars to any owner of a pair of fists who could stay four rounds with him.
Tuppy read the item.
“After what I seen you do in Rupert,” said Slops, “I figure you’d have a chance of picking up that there one grand.”
“Will we be there in time?” he asked. “To-morrow afternoon, sure. Affair’s to-morrow night.”
“I’ll tackle it,” announced Tuppy. “And shut up about it.”
MR AUGUSTUS WIMBLE had arrived in Vancouver at eight of the morning. After going to the Vancouver Hotel, he had lain down to figure out how he might best obtain trace of the erring Pokesberry heir in a city the size of which had filled him with dismay. So pondering , he had fallen asleep, wearied by the, to him, stupendous journey. He awoke to find that he had slept the clock round;
that it was evening. It was while swallowing a hasty and frugal meal that the idea occurred to him that by applying at the cable office he might get a clue as to the whereabouts of the gentleman who, two weeks ago, had cabled the one word “Well.” Being directed to the cable office, Mr. Wimble walked rapidly down Granville Street and turned into Hastings.
It was at this very moment that Tuppy, accompanied by Slops Moffat, boarded a street car at this very corner. Mr. Wimble saw him. It is a mild way of putting it. But it is too difficult to desscribe the emotions of Lord Pokesberry’s agent on spotting, without any effort whatever, the person he had traveled so far to find. Mr. Wimble saw him. But Tuppy did not see Mr. Wimble, Mr. Wimble being the last person he had in mind.
Tuppy and Moffat were on the car and the car was in motion before Wimble recovered from his shock. Then, oblivious to the cries of automobile drivers, the agent of Lord Pokesberry cast his dignity to the winds and sped after the car with all the speed his lean shanks could command. That he caught it is due to the fact that a large crowd was waiting for it at the next stop. But, whereas Mr. Wimble was compelled to stand jammed in the back, Tuppy and Moffat were up in front.
Eventually the car stopped to discharge the majority of its passengers. Unable to see his quarry, Wimble was doubtful as to what course to follow when the problem was solved for him. He was carried out with the press of the crowd. Struggling free, he caught a fleeting glimpse of Tuppy and his companion entering a building for which most of the crowd seemed to be making. Mr. Wimble made for the same door, in a half daze paid for a ticket, was bustled along a passage-way and thrust into a seat.
The scene that was revealed to the harassed little man from peaceful Kent filled him with consternation. He found himself in a large arena, in the centre of which stood a raised platform, bounded with white ropes and illuminated from above by powerful lamps. Then the full horror of the thing burst upon him. Before him stood the symbol of what to him was brutality in its worst form—the ring. He, Augustus Wimble, was about to witness fist fighting, probably for money.
Throughout the six bouts which preceded the appearance of Mr. Lefty Muggins, Augustus Wimble kept bis eyes closed. This growing tiresome, he opened them just as the manager of the travel ing Light Heavyweight Champion entered the ring to announce that Lefty would box three rounds with his sparring partner, after which he would take on three lads who fancied they could stick four rounds with him. With a shudder Wimble heard the announcement that one thousand dollars would be paid to the one who could stand on his legs throughout the twelve minutes of chastisement.
In a state of numbness Wimble sat through Lefty’s exhibition with the sparring partner. His stomach revolting, he watched the first aspirant to the thousand dollars laid out by the first blow and the second crawl out of the ring after weathering the storm for a full minute.
And then the heart of Augustus Wimble almost stopped altogether as into the ring climbed the Honorable Clarence Reginald Charles Tupperton, clad in an ill-fitting pair of tights and nothing else this side of his ankles. With drooping jaw and beating brain, Wimble sank back into his seat and gazed on the spectacle as a rabbit gazes at a snake.
Following Tuppy into the ring was Slops Moffat. And as Tuppy sat down in his corner, the TaUir m's cook bent over him and said: “Charlie, remember this guy ain’t tried to kiss your girl, and you ain’t tryin’ to kill him. Stick it for four rounds is all you’ve got to do.”
The gong went.
With glassy eye, Wimble watched the two men leave their corners. Lefty strolled out in a bored sort of way. Then he feinted and let fly a wicked left. To the amazement of the crowd, Tuppy was not there to receive it. Lefty grinned and went after him, but the Tupperton feet were working and he danced nicely out of the way. It was obvious that Lefty had realized that the rran in the ring with him was no novice. He scowled as if in fear that something had been put over him, and slowed up to feel out his man. The round ended.
The hell went for the second round and Lefty came out meaning business. Tuppy
kept on the run, however, until the champion crowded him into a corner and tried a left hook. To Muggins’s amazement, Tuppy’s jaw slid out of range. And then came the miracle that brought the crowd to its feet. Leaping off the ropes, Tuppy pasted the champion in the nose and drew blood. There was a bedlam of yells, a concerted shriek of joy.
Lefty’s pride suffered more than his nose. Maddened, he rushed the whiteskinned man before him, intent on knocking him out of the ring. In doing so, he threw judgment and timing to the winds. Which is why before the round finished Tuppy twice more had clipped him on the nose.
It was then that Lefty Muggins saw that getting mad was not helping him. He pulled himself together, and started to box instead of attempting to assassinate his presumptous opponent. With some of his rightful style showing, he landed a blow to the eye that shook Tuppy to his heels, and then a short jab knocked him over. At the count of eight Tuppy struggled to his knees. At nine he was up. The gong sounded the end of the round.
Slops helped him back to the chair; worked frantically over him.
“One more,” muttered Tuppy. “Only one more.”
Here it was that above the excited murmuring of the crowd there rose a shrill, appealing voice. “For the honor of the Pokesberrys, Reginald, for the honor of the Pokesberrys!” it cried. On his seat, waving his umbrella, stood Augustus Wimble. But Tuppy neither saw nor heard.
The gong went.
With a supreme effort Tuppy pulled himself to his feet and advanced. The champion, stinging under the exhortations of his manager not to take any chances with a thousand dollars, pranced out for a killing.
For one minute and a half Tuppy, with gritted teeth, bore up under a whirlwind of blows. Then he dropped. He was up at the count of five and fell into a clinch. The referee separated them. Once more Lefty knocked him down. Once more Tupperton painfully scrambled up. The referee made as if to stop the fight. But not for the crowd. There was one minute between the unknown man and the thousand dollars. And the referee heeded the threatening shout.
The champion glided forward, ready to unloose his deadly hook. With the last remaining ounce of strength, Tupperton shot out his right and poked him in the face. It was a weak blow, harmless, yet it landed in time to upset the accuracy of Lefty’s aim. The blow glanced over Tupperton’s shoulder. The bell went. Tupperton was still on his feet.
Whatever the intentions of Lefty Muggins’s manager may have been, the sight of a shouting mob climbing over seats to get to the ring caused him to act quickly. He muttered something to the champion, who crossed the ring and shook hands with the still dazed Tuppy. And some fifteen minutes later, in the champion’s dressing room, the manager reluctantly handed over one thousand dollars to the man who had earned it while that part of the crowd which had dodged the few policemen present, looked on as guarantee of payment.
Tuppy was back in the room assigned to the less conspicuous wearers of the cauliflower ear, stretched out on a bench and yielding to the massaging of a Slops almost hysterical with joy when Augustus Wimble made his entrance. Through the one eye which remained open, Tuppy saw him, and sat up in painful amazement.
“Reginald! Reginald!” cried Wimble, “What will His Lordship say?”
Tuppy tried to grin. Two badly swollen lips stopped him. Ventriloquially he stammered “I dunno. What would he say?”
“My emotions,” said Wimble, “are difficult to describe. Most difficult. At the behest of Lord Pokesberry, your father, I have traveled some six thousand miles across sea and land to, er, to investigate what to His Lordship seems surprising conduct on your part. Most surprising. I realize, of course, that you are in no state to listen to me to-night. The message I have to convey must await a more propitious moment. As for the feelings aroused in me to-night by the spectacle of which I have been an unwilling witness, well, Reginald”—Mr. Wimble paused, swallowed hard and committed himself—“if my feeble shout could have helped,
you would have chastised that fellow severely.”
“Wimble,” gurgled Tuppy, “if you call me Reginald again, with my first ounce of recovered strength I’ll choke you. My name is Charles, or, if you prefer it, Charlie. And don’t forget it.”
“But,” began Wimble.
“Furthermore,” interrupted Tuppy, “I can’t listen to you to-night, because I am leaving on the midnight boat for Victoria in order to get to Nanaimo to-morrow. If I find you on the same boat I’ll have no hesitation in throwing you overboard as a matter of principle. Nothing personal, of course. If you care to come to Nanaimo say the day after to-morrow, I’ll listen to ! you. Not before.”
“Howshall I findyou?” begged Wimble. “Look up George Tookes at the Em¡ press and he’ll take you to me,” said j Tuppy. “At this moment George doesn’t | know it, but he is about to be of considerable moral support to me.”
TWO days later Augustus Wimble and George Tookes descended from the train at Nanaimo, Mr. Tookes, during the journey, having been as communicative as a clam. Augustus Wimble, resigned and unquestioning, followed that young man down to the waterfront and on to an aged and rotting jetty. At the end of the jetty lay a humble-looking tugboat. And on the tugboat, busily engaged in slopping yellow paint out of a pot was a figure clad in the messiest pair of overalls ever seen on Vancouver Island. Not until Tookes hailed him did the figure turn. It was Tuppy.
The visitors descended to the littered deck.
“Reginald,” began Wimble, and Tuppy snarled.
“Charles,” he corrected himself, “I beseech you to end this suspense and explain—”
“Come into the cabin,” invited Tuppy. Into the smelly little closet they went.
“Now,” said the overalled one, “spill it.”
Earnestly Augustus Wimble described the scene in the library of Pokesberry Hall on that eventful morning. In meassured tones he recounted Lord Pokesberry’s instructions. “And now, Reg—er, Charles,” he concluded, “I ask you to return at once, with me.”
Tuppy gave vent to a deep chuckle. “Wimble,” he said, “you’re a dear, trusting soul, and I wouldn’t hurt your feelings for words, but you’re doomed to return a sadly disillusioned man. It may come as a surprise to you to learn that you are at this moment sitting in the palatial saloon of the flagship of the Eccles-Tupperton Towing Company, of which I am a part owner, having purchased the share with a black eye and sundry abrasions.” “Apart entirely from the question of your responsibilities as heir to the Pokesberry estates,” said Wimble, “why you should so degrade yourself in order to get money when a cable home would have produced it instantly is utterly beyond me.”
“That’s just the point,” said Tuppy. “You see I earned it.”
Mr. Wimble shook his head. “I don’t understand,” he began.
“It may help you,” said Tuppy, “if we go up to the house and see my wife.”
“Your what?” demanded Wimble. “Wife,” said Tuppy patiently. “Lawfully wedded wife.”
Stunned, Wimble leaned back against wet paint and gasped. “Wife,” he groaned. “How long?”
“Let me see,” said Tuppy thoughtfully, “Oh, yes, it was yesterday. George, there, was best man. She used to be a Miss Eccles. Madge Eccles. It’s her father who’s my partner in this business.” “What,” gasped Wimble, “what will His Lordship say—”
“That reminds me,” said Tuppy. “If you, or you, George, let drop the slightest hint that my father’s a lord, or any sort of piffle like that, I’ll wreak upon you the most frightful vengeance ever conceived I by the mind of man.”
“Good gracious, don’t they know?” croaked Wimble.
“They don’t. And, so far as I’m concerned, they won’t.”
“I don’t understand,” repeated Wimble. “Because,” Tuppy enlightened him, “I’m through with that sort of thing. Because you can take the bally title and chuck it in the sink. Because I’m happier than I ever dreamed I could be. Because I’d rather paint this tug and help run it | than slosh down weak tea on a silly lawn.
Because my wife loves Charles Tupperton.”
IT WAS about a month or six weeks later when the letter came from old Wimble.
‘‘Judge of my utter amazement, Charles,” he wrote, ‘‘to find that during my absence Lord Pokesberry had married Lady Brompton! Perhaps it would be nearer the truth to say that Lady Brompton married Lord Pokesberry. At all events, His Lordship listened to the extraordinary story I had to relate, and then shook his head very sadly. ‘Demn! I wish I’d half Reggie’s sense,’ he remarked.”