The KINRADE MYSTERY
W STEWART WALLACE
Who killed Ethel Kinrade of Hamilton? That question, first asked twenty-two years ago, has never been answered
THERE are at least two kinds of murder mysteries. In the first place, there is the crime to which no clue is ever found, the murder committed “by a person or persons unknown.” Such a murder may be an example of “the perfect crime,” of which detective story writers dream; but since, in the nature of the case, we can know only a small part of the story, public interest in such a case is seldom acute. On the other hand, the greatest interest generally attaches to the second kind of murder mystery, that in which clues are not lacking but are of an ambiguous character; the type of case, in short, in which the finger of suspicion points at one or more persons but conclusive evidence is wanting.
An example of this second type of case is to be found in the mystery surrounding the murder of Ethel Kinrade, a girl twenty-five years of age, in the dining room of her father’s house in Hamilton, Ontario, on February 25, 1909. No one was ever brought to trial for this murder, but the circumstances surrounding it were so strange that public interest in the coroner’s inquest and the investigations of the detectives reached fever heat. Probably no Canadian case in the first decade of the twentieth century achieved wider publicity.
The Kinrade family lived at 105 Herkimer Street, Hamilton, in the heart of that city’s best residential district. The father, Thomas L. Kinrade, fifty-eight years of age, was principal of one of the Hamilton public schools and was highly respected for his sterling character.
He was, in addition, a man of substance. Besides the house on Herkimer Street, he was the owner of between twenty or thirty houses in Hamilton which he rented. His family consisted of his wife, his two sons, and his three daughters.
His elder son, Ernest, aged twenty-seven, was married and lived in one of his father’s houses; the younger son. Earl, aged nineteen, was a clerk in the Bank of Commerce in Montreal. Of the daughters, the eldest, Ethel, had always lived at home; as had the youngest. Gertrude, who was sixteen years old and still at school. But the second daughter, Florence, who was the beauty of the family and about twenty-three years of age. had been away from home a good part of the previous year, following a musical and theatrical career in Richmond, Virginia, and had returned home only a few days before the preceding Christmas. So far as appearances went, the relationship between the various members of the family was most affectionate. The most searching enquiry later failed to lay bare any skeleton in the family cupboard or even to reveal traces of any serious family quarrel.
It was on this apparently happy family that tragedy descended with startling suddenness on the afternoon of
February 25. 1909. At noon the family met for the midday meal—the father, mother and three daughters. After the meal the father and youngest daughter went back to their school, while Ethel and Florence cleared away the dishes.
While they did so, their conversation turned on the subject of tramps by whom they had recently been much bothered. They had been in the habit of handing out meal and lodging tickets to those who came to the door asking
for help; and their house had apparently been marked down by the tramps as an easy port of call. Only the previous night a tramp had repeatedly rung the front-door bell, and when it was not answered he had tried to pry open the drawing-room window with a jimmy. It was agreed that Mrs. Kinrade should go down town and ask the police for protection against the tramps. She dressed for the street, and, according to the best evidence available, left the house about ten minutes past three o’clock.
The Story of the Crime
pROM this point we are dependent for our knowledge of
what happened on the statements made later by Florence Kinrade. Unfortunately, these varied so greatly from time to time that one cannot be sure of the details of her story, but its main outline is clear.
On their mother’s departure, the two sisters, according to Florence's account as given under oath at the coroner's inquest, got ready to go out for a walk, intending to close the house and leave the key at a neighboring grocer’s shop. They went upstairs to dress, each going to her own room. When she was ready to go out and actually had her hat on, Florence found that she needed a needle to mend a hole in one of her gloves..and went down the backstairs to get one. When she was downstairs, the door-bell rang and she went to open the door. She found a man outside who asked for food. She said “Certainly,” and began to close the door, but the man put his foot in the doorway and pushed in after her. He said, "I want all the money you have in the house.”
She recollected that she had $10 in her bedroom and went upstairs to get it. On her way to her room, she passed her sister’s room and "sort of whispered” to her to lock herself in her room, but she did not wait to see if Ethel heard her. In her own room, Florence took $10 from a bureau drawer, and also threw up a window that opened on a balcony. Apparently she had an idea of jumping frcm the balcony, but was afraid of the height. She did not, she said think of calling out for help. While she hesitated, she heard a noise like the house going up,” but it did not occur to her that it was a pistol shot. Undeterred by the noise, she went downstairs, and, finding the burglar standing near the telephone, handed him the $10 bill.
Thus far Florence Kinrade’s story was not difficult to follow, but from this point it became vague and incoherent, reminiscent of a bad dream. She said she passed into the drawing-room through the back parlor door, but could not remember passing the burglar. She raised the parlor window three or four feet, meaning to get out of the window; but the burglar came rushing into the room, and she could not remember whether she got out or not. In any case, the
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burglar seized her; but she could not tell whether it was with one hand or two, or what part of her he seized. From the drawing-room she made her way, how she knew not, through the dining room to the kitchen. Finding no one in her path, she fled through the back door into the backyard. She tried to get over the fence but could not, though it was apparently a fence which a child might have climbed with ease. She knew that a cry would bring help to her from the houses round about, but she was apparently too frightened to cry out.
She was not, however, too frightened to go back into the house. Her reason for going back seems to have been that she wondered what had become of her sister, and she thought perhaps that the burglar had gone away. On re-entering the house, however, she saw him standing in the hallway door; and she now for the first time also saw the body of her sister lying on the dining room floor, near the bottom of the back stairs. Terror lending wings to her feet, she fled past the burglar and out of the front door. One or more shots from the burglar’s revolver, she said, followed her as she did so, though no tangible evidence of these shots was afterward found. She dashed across the street into the house of Mrs. Frank Hickey at 106 Herkimer Street, crying, "Ethel is shot; shot six times!"
Description of the Murderer
SUCH, in its general outline, was the story told by Florence Kinrade. Just how much time elapsed during the occurrence of the incidents she described did not appear, but it could not have been more than a few minutes. The time when she rushed across the street to the Hickey house was fixed later by a motorman on a passing street-car, who saw her and nearly ran her down, at 3.56 or 3.57 p.m.; and it was afterward discovered that a coachman had been outside a neighboring house without seeing anyone ring the bell of the Kinrades’ door until 3.40 p.m. The events described by Florence Kinrade must therefore have taken place during the intervening quarter of an
Mrs. Hickey, to whom Florence Kinrade first imparted the news of the tragedy, was at first incredulous. She was at last persuaded by the almost hysterical girl that something was wrong, and she accompanied Florence Kinrade to the neighboring grocery store, and there called up the police. At the same time, a message was telephoned to the father, Thomas L. Kinrade, at his school. The mother, who must have been in police headquarters asking for protection against tramps just about the time the tragedy occurred, had left only a few minutes before the police were notified, and she first learned of the death of her daughter by reading about it on the bulletin board of a newspaper.
A detective and two policemen were immediately dispatched to the Kinrade house. They found, on arrival, both the front and back doors of the house open; and on the floor of the dining room, near the foot of the back stairs, they came upon the body of Ethel Kinrade. The unfortunate girl was lying on her back, and under her txxiy was a large pool of blood. She had been shot in the head several times, and several times in the txxiy in the region of the heart. The shots pumped into her txxiy had been fired at such close range that her dress had been burned. Later, the autopsy revealed in all eight wounds, caused by seven bullets. The murderer had evidently been at pains to make sure that Ethel Kinrade was dead The police had barely completed their examination of the txxiy and covered it with an oilcloth, when Thomas L. Kinrade arrived From the message he had received, he was in doubt as to which of his daughters had been killed; and. indeed, he seems to have thought it was Florence. Only when the police removed the covering from the txxiy, and he said, "It's Ethel," was he
aware of the identity of the murderer's victim. Under these circumstances, a distinct if problematic interest attached to a remark which the police reported him to have made when he entered the house. "I expected,” he said, “that something like this would happen.” When questioned about this remark later, the harrassed father disclaimed any recollection of having made it, but said that, if he did, it had reference probably to the trouble the family had had with tramps.
Thomas Kinrade then went to the Hickey house, and found his daughter Florence in a distraught and hysterical condition. She greeted him with the remark that “it might have been much worse than it was,” because the murderer had fired at her, too; and she was able to give a description of the murderer. He was, she said, a man about forty
years of age, of medium height and weight, with a heavy brown mustache, dressed in dark clothes and a dark overcoat, with a fedora hat pulled down over his eyes. He did not look like a tramp nor yet like a gentleman; he was something between the two.
What Was the Motive?
FROM the beginning the police were mystified about the affair. It did not look like the work of an ordinary thug in search of money, since the mysterious murderer had not left when he was given money. The probability seemed to be that he was either a madman with a homicidal mania, or else that he was actuated by personal motives. In connection with the first hypothesis, there was just outside Hamilton an insane asylum, and some of the "trusties” were given a gixxi deal of freedom. Had the murder been committed by one of these?
As for the second hypothesis, it was rumored that Florence Kinrade. though engaged to be married to a theological student at Victoria College, Toronto, had been the recipient of attentions from an actor in Richmond. Virginia, when she had been there the year before. It was said, indeed, that she had been brought home because of her relations with this actor. I lari he, by any chance, turned up in Hamilton and by mistake wreaked his revenge on her sister instead of herself? Had Thomas L. Kinrade’s remark about expecting "something of the sort" any reference to this triangular love affair?
On the whole, public opinion leaned at first to the view that the murder had been committed by a madman; that he had shot Ethel Kinrade as she came down the back
stairs, thinking that she was her sister trying to escape from the house and give the alarm. The conduct of the murderer, in staying so long in the house and in discharging no less than seven bullets into the body of his victim, seemed to support this view. Only a man whose mind was deranged could have acted in so cold-blooded a manner.
But as time went on, other possibilities entered into the calculations of the police. It has already been explained that Florence Kinrade's stories, as told at different times and to different people, did not coincide. She told Mrs. Hickey that she had actually struggled with the burglar, and that when her sister had come downstairs to her aid the burglar had shot the latter. Later, she said she actually got out of the drawingroom window but had been pulled back by the murderer. Still other discrepancies appeared in the various versions which she gave of what had happened. When the detectives first interrogated her in private she burst into tears, and her father had to intervene and insist that she should be left alone until she recovered. For days both she and her mother were in such an hysterical and overwrought condition that no connected story could be got out of either of them, and the coroner’s inquest had to be adjourned until they were in a condition to give evidence. About a week after the murder, Thomas L. Kinrade, with the consent of the Crown Attorney, moved his family to Toronto, where they took rooms at the Arlington Hotel with a trained nurse in order that the two women might have a chance to recover their mental balance.
Cross-Examination of Florence Kinrade
"VyfEANWHILE, the txxiy Ethel Kinrade had been removed to the morgue and an autopsy had been held. This revealed that seven bullets had been fired into the body of the dead girl, but it did more than that. It convinced the doctors who performed the autopsy that at least fifteen minutes had elapsed between the time when the shots were fired into the head and the time when the remaining shots were fired into the body. The wounds in the head bled profusely, and since none of them had been in a vital spot it was estimated that the flow of blood must have continued for at least a quarter of an hour; but the body wounds had caused the heart to stop beating, and then, of course, bleeding had virtually ceased. If these conclusions were correct, then grave doubt was cast upon the rather confused and extraordinary story that Florence Kinrade had told.
The police next turned their attention to Florence Kinrade herself. It was discovered that in Virginia she had been in the habit of carrying a revolver, as all actresses in the South did at that time, as a protection against negroes when out late at night. Florence admitted that she had carried a revolver in Virginia, but insisted that she had disposed of it before returning to Canada, and no prixif was ever forthcoming that she had possessed a revolver in Hamilton. Naturally, however, the suggestion that she had owned a revolver and had learned to use it, was not without its influence on the police. They searched the Herkimer Street house high and low for a revolver, and even had the drain leading to the house explored. They combed also the Arlington Hotel, where the Kinrade family had sojourned in Toronto; and they amducted a foot-by-foot search of the railway right-of-way between Hamilton and Toronto. But no revolver was ever found, except one which had been planted, obviously as a hoax, in the slats of the boardwalk of the Kinrade house.
It was not until March 10, more than two weeks after the tragedy, that Florence Kinrade was able to give evidence at the adjourned coroner's inquest. She was subjected to a gruelling cross-examination by (à-orge TateBlackstock. K.C., the eminent
criminal lawyer who had been appointed Crown investigator. It was clear that the Crown was still without conclusive evidence, and that the Crown investigator was, in his examination of Florence Kinrade, merely on a fishing expedition. He had no difficulty in showing that her story, as told in the witness-box, did not in all details tally with the stories she had told previously ; but when he got her to describe the murderer he was compelled to resort to bluster. He suddenly thundered out:
“Now, Miss Kinrade, who was that man?”
"I never saw him before, never,” replied Florence Kinrade in faltering tones, and fora moment she seemed about to faint.
Medical aid was forthcoming, however, and after a while she submitted to further examination. The Crown investigator repeated the question several times and reminded her of the awful solemnity of the oath she had sworn to, but finally was forced to desist with the words, “I won’t ask you anything more. Miss Kinrade.”
As he uttered these words Florence Kinrade swooned and had to be lifted from the witness-box. As she was being carried out her foot caught in a chair, and she emitted a piercing scream and shrieked. “That man, I see that man ! He will shoot
Her fiancé, the theological student from Victoria College, who was beside her, murmured soothingly, "It’s all right, it's all right.” But she went off into hysterics, and still crying, “He'll shoot me, he'll shoot me !” was carried off into an anteroom.
Not until April 22, nearly six weeks later, was the inquest resumed; and then Florence Kinrade, though subpoenaed, did not put in an apjrearance. It was explained by her counsel, Mr. (now Senator) George LynchStaunton, that she was suffering from nervous prostration and that her “physical condition was such that she could not come."
The coroner refused, however, to accept this plea, and when both Florence Kinrade and her mother failed to respond to the subpoena the following day, he issued a bench warrant for their arrest. The validity of this warrant was contested by Mr. Lynch-Staunton, since the coroner’s authority ran only in the county of Wentworth and the Kinrades were at that time at Preston Springs. He obtained an interim writ of certiorari restraining the Crown officers from making the arrest; and the warrant was declared invalid by the Divisional Court a week later. But on May 3, in answer to a Crown subpoena, Florence Kinrade and her mother at last reappeared in court and were submitted to another searching examination,
Unusual Love Affairs
DURING the long adjournment of the inquest the detectives had been busy investigating the details of Florence Kinrade's career, especially in Virginia; and she was subjected in the witness-box to a merciless enquiry into her love affairs. It was shown that she had been, until two weeks before the murder, in correspondence with James Baum, the American actor who ' had proposed marriage to her; and that her mother and sister had intercepted at least one of his letters.
When Baum went into the witness-box he testified that he had believed himself to he engaged to her, and that his dismissal had Ix-en a severe shock. He also swore that Florence Kinrade had told him that she had Ix-en forced into an unhappy marriage by her parents but that she had been divorçai.
It had aj>|>eared in the evidence that she had gone to Virginia to sing in a church choir and that her |iarcnts liad believed that this was what she liad been doing, but the detectives testilial that they had been unable to disaiver any church choir which knew anything about her. Still another curious bit of evidence jirrxluced was that she liad boon in correspondence with a
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He saw that the Yellow Boy had spoken truth. The man sat at the table, his body bowed over it, his head on his arms in the attitude of one drunk or in deep slumber. His wide-brimmed plainsman’s hat was on the floor; also on the floor lay his rifle. He wore no spurs, though his boots were hig'nheeled riding boots. A plainsman would have known he had camel-trekked, but Jimmy the Bull was not to know. Nor would he have been interested. He was only interested in getting to the man before the man wehe and got to his rifle.
Jimmy the Bull crept in through the doorway across the floor. His great body was tense, his muscles quivered, his gorilla arms were raised ready to grasp and twist and break when his leaping body erased the final yard. But almost in mid-air Jimmy the Bull paused. He stared with his sandstung eyes.
He continued to stare for a moment. Then curiously, he took a slow step forward. He picked up the man’s arm; let it drop. He stooped and peered into the face, the open
There was no work here for Jimmy the Bull. The work was done.
THEY came tramping in at Jimmy’s call.
As curiously as he, they regarded the dead man. Millard touched him. He said: “He ain’t been dead long.” He regarded the body a moment longer and added : “You can see how he died.”
The man had been speared. Signs and stains that Jimmy the Bull had not noticed when he entered the hut, showed that he had been wounded before he had dragged himself to the chair and the table, before he had entered the hut. There was the broken-off barb of a spear; there were wounds made by other spears. The spears might have come from an ambush of Myalls, or from one Myall, was the opinion Millard expressed. Nobody could tell. Anyway he was dead. Jimmy the Bull muttered:
“Didn’t we hear about Myalls bein’ bad around these parts? We ain’t worried none, but we would’ve if we’d known they was as bad as this.”
“I reckon it’s not blacks we’ve worried about. Whites are our enemies. Maybe this feller was just speared by a station nigger with a grudge against ’im, anyway.”
One thing puzzled them : Why had a man so badly wounded dragged himself to the chair at the table instead of to one of the bunks? In his pain and weakness, why had he sat himself at the table? Hadn’t he known he was dying?
They asked each other the question ; found no answer. They stood around conjecturing.
Outside, the wind still howled over the plains, darkening the day with driven dust. The hut seemed to shudder in the gusts. The ceaseless wind had long since frayed the men’s nerves. But the labor and worry of an uncertain trail had fatigued them, near exhausted them, left them numbed, their flesh weighted with weariness. One by one they found seats. They started to smoke, to soothe their nicotine-starved bodies with the weed from almost empty pouches. And they sat with the dead man and listened to the wind and the sigh of the shifting sand.
It was Jimmy the Bull, the oxlike one. the tough one who had broken a warder’s back, who stirred first. He got up uneasily, looked once at the dead body, said:
“We can’t sit around with ’im there.” “No,” Millard said, rising.
As he looked at Jimmy the Bull, the thought in the Rat’s mind was that Jimmy was more troubled by this dead man he had not killed than by the bodies of dead warders down at Yatala. But Jimmy had not been required to sit in a hut listening to the whine of the wind with what remained of a warder.
In twenty minutes they came back without the body they had borne away. Millard closed the door, and Jimmy the Bull sat on a bunk and rolled another cigarette.
He smoked in silence. They were all silent. Their eyes were heavy with weariness and want of sleep. When the silence was broken, it was with the sounds of sleep. Yet none of them really slept. They remained
wrapped in the inertia of their fatigue. After the screaming tumult of the plain there was relief in the shelter of four walls. They let the restfulncss of that shelter soak into their tired bodies. They sat and smoked and listened to the wind, waiting for it to stop. Not that they planned to trek on when it stopped. At the moment they had no plans. All they waited for was the cessation of nerve strain that would come when silence once more fell upon the plains and the sunshine streamed through thinning dust.
“It ain’t natural,” Jimmy the Bull said; “no sunshine, an’ it bein’ dark like this in the day.”
So dense was the fog of dust that, now the door of the hut was closed, the light which percolated through the small windows scarcely sufficed to illumine their faces. They sat as though in twilight.
“An’ it ain’t much past noon,” Jimmy the Bull complained, looking at the watch he carried in a belt pouch. He replaced the watch, stretched out with his foot as he sat on the bunk and started to draw toward him the dead man’s rifle which had lain ignored on the floor. He picked it up, worked the bolt. There were two cartridges in the magazine. He looked at Millard and said : “You ain’t scared of me with this gun?” "No,” Millard said.
“Not even after you heard me say I was goin’ to boss the outfit?”
“No.” Millard said. “Without the gun you were strong enough to beat me up. The gun don't make any difference. You couldn’t run this outfit if you had a cannon.”
“That so?” Jimmy the Bull sneered. “Maybe I don’t need no powder an’ lead to wipe you off the map, either.”
“Go right ahead,” Millard invited. “You’re as harmless as a bull with a nose-ring and rope on it.”
Jimmy the Bull raged before the steady, passionless eyes of Millard. But he didn’t do anything. There was something about Millard that put a nose-ring and rope on Jimmy the Bull.
'T'HE Rat found himself admiring the peculiar strength of Millard, as he admired the rougher and more tangible strength of Jimmy the Bull. Also he admired the Yellow Boy who, after his own fashion, was as fearless as they. It was true that the Rat did not like any one of them, but he admired them. The contempt and derision of all whom he had ever known humbled his own timid spirit, as always he was humbled when he compared himself with other men. He was inferior. Nature had been ungenerous with him, giving him neither strength of muscle nor mind nor nerve. He was a coward—yes, he had long known that; and always he was just a butt for other people’s humor. His very' sobriquet attested his standing in the eyes of others.
Millard took several cartridges out of his pocket. Not long ago he had taken them out of the dead man’s pocket. He stood up and
“That rifle'll come in handy. It’s been our bad luck never to’ve been able to get guns.”
The Yellow Boy said:
“When you only hev hands, it iss not easy to get guns. When you hev guns, it iss easy to get more guns."
Millard turned to Jimmy the Bull and
“Gimme that rifle, Jimmy.”
Jimmy the Bull handed it over without protest. He had only wanted it to make Millard afraid of him. but Millard had not been afraid despite the two cartridges in it.
Millard sat down again, with the rifle leaning against the wall at his side. Jimmy the Bull looked at the chair the dead man had sat on. looked at the window against which the dust whirled, dust as fine as curry powder. When the door had been open, much dust had floated in and it lay thick now on the noor. Dust still came in through invisible cracks.
They sat with heavy-lidded eyes, apathetic. waiting for the nerve-racking wind to cease. The only one to give way to sleep was the Yellow Boy. He slept with his back against the wall of the hut. his mouth open. Gazing at the open mouth. Jimmy the Bull
experienced a pleasant stir of humor. He said, “I’d like to put a lit cigarette on 'is tongue,” but he was too weary to bother carrying out his plan himself. Instead he told the Rat:
"You do it, Rat. Go on. Shove that cigarette you got on ’is tongue.”
The Rat hesitated. His face was troubled He looked at Jimmy the Bull. Jimmy’s face began to get angry as he hesitated. The Rat rose. He was afraid of the Yellow Boy, but he was more afraid of Jimmy the Bull. Jimmy could give him a worse licking than the Yellow Boy.
The Rat moved toward the sleeping halfcaste. With his hand and the lighted cigarette six inches from the slumbering Yellow Boy’s gaping mouth, the Rat looked appealingly at Jimmy. But Jimmy’s face was inexorable.
“Go on,” he said.
Millard stirred. He looked at the Rat, turned to Jimmy the Bull. He said:
“Quit foolin', Jimmy. You keep actin' up to your six weeks’ old brain.”
The Rat felt relieved. It was not often anyone took his part. He doubted that anyone did now. Jimmy the Bull’s low brain power often got on Millard’s nerves.
As he was sitting down again, the Rat noticed a piece of paper on the floor against the wall of the hut. He stooped and picked it up and saw there was writing on it. He couldn’t read very well. With difficulty he spelled out the pencilled scrawl.
The puckers of concentration slowly relaxed in his little pinched face as he looked up. He said:
“I know why that man died at the table ’stead of on a bunk.”
Millard and Jimmy the Bull looked at him not pleasantly. The Rat felt abashed at his impertinence in knowing something they did not know. He passed the piece of paper to Millard, who read it aloud:
“If anybody finds this in time, I want them to go to Roark's station northwest of here. There’s a good trail that's not blotted out by the wind and dust. Tell 'em at Roark’s to go to Miljeena. Water's failed there, and the Miljeena folks can't make the dry stages on account of not having camels. But they'll get through from Roark’s and save 'em. There's a woman and children at Miljeena. My two riding camels are hobbled handy for anybody to get to Roark's. I can't make it myself—been ambushed and speared. I reckon I’m dying—”
THERE was a silence. The Rat saw a stub of pencil lying on the floor in the dimness by the wall. It must have been left :n the piece of paper, he thought, and the wind had blown the pajjer and pencil off the table. He said:
"That man was game. Struggled to the table, he did. to write that before he died.” Jimmy the Bull scowled at him.
"What d'you know about anybody bein’ ■¡ame?” he demanded. “You don’t know nothin' about gameness except by report. Why, down at Rarachilna when —”
“Shut up." Millard rasped. He was frowning over the shaky scrawl on the paper. He said: "I suppose this means that if
nobody goes to Roark’s station to tell ’em o take camels to Miljeena, them folks at Vliljeena is goin to die.”
Jimmy the Bull seemed to wrestle with this for some time, his shelving brow deeply furrowed. Finally he said
“Well, what's that got to do with us?" Millard rose and went to the window, looking out at the howling plain.
"Anyhow," he said, "we couldn't get through in this dust. I didn't see no camels
“No,” said Jimmy the Bull, “that’s a
The Rat wanted to say that the note said the camels were hobbled, and that meant they couldn't have strayed far: also he wanted to say that the note declared the trail to Roark's station was a good one, not blotted out by the wind and dust. But he said nothing. Experience had taught him that he had no voice in the outfit.
Presently the Yellow Boy woke. He stretched and yawned and humped himself more comfortably against the wall. He saw the paper in Millard’s hand and asked what it was. Millard told him. The Yellow Boyseemed interested. He rose and came to look at the pencil scrawl, though he could not read. Millard read it to him.
The Yellow Boy said: "That iss bad luck.”
“What is?” Millard asked irritably. “The man dyin’, or them folks bein’ stranded at Miljeena?”
“All; everything iss bad luck,” said the Yellow Boy. “What you goin’ to do about it, eh?”
“Goin’ to do? Why, what can we be expected to do?”
“That’s right,” said Jimmy the Bull. “There ain’t nothin' we can be expected
The Yellow Boy said:
“That woman and children—somebodee hev to rescue them, don’t they?”
Millard and Jimmy the Bull seemed to find the question displeasing. But probably Millard’s conscience pricked a little. He
“I suppose somebody’s got to rescue them. But can we do it, Yellow Boy? Ain’t we got our liberty to think of? We can’t show up at no station; not in the daylight, anyhow.”
Jimmy the Bull had an inspiration.
"I know,” he said. “Let’s send the Rat. I ain’t claimin’ it’s any of our business to rescue people we ain’t never seen, but the Rat ain’t no use to us—only eats our grub an' drinks too much water—an’ he wouldn’t be any loss if niggers speared ’im on the trail.”
“You get any more of these brain waves an’ they’ll give you a headache, Jimmy. The Rat can fight in a corner, an’ four of us is better than three. Besides, he’d be recognized as much as any of us."
“Anyway, if anybody ’way back here in the bush has seen the police descriptions an' photographs, the Rat could tell ’em the rest of us perished in the desert,” Jimmy the Bull insisted. "Anyway, if he didn't, he'd get the biggest hidin' he's ever had.”
"You aren’t interested in rescuin’ that woman an’ the kids from perishin’ of thirst. All you want is to get rid of the Rat.”
"Maybe you want to rescue them yourself.” Jimmy the Bull sneered.
“If it wasn't that I’ve got to think of my liberty," Millard said, “I would. I certainly wouldn't see them die if I could help it. Not a woman and children."
“Well, you got to think of your liberty,” Jimmy the Bull said, "so what's the use of thinkin’ about them? Besides, if anybody went off with them camels, we wouldn’t have them camels. We need somethin’ to trek with, an' when the dust clears an’ we can see, we'll round up them camels. You got to admit sometimes I got a brain."
SILENCE fell in the hut again. Outside, silence did not fall. There was no cessation of wind; the dust still darkened the day.
The Yellow Boy, seated once again with his back to the wall, was returning to slumber. Jimmy the Bull was rolling another cigarette; a very thin one, for his tobacco pouch was almost empty. Millard remained seated, frowning at the dust and sand that drifted against the dirty window.
Suddenly Jimmy the Bull saw that the Rat was on his feet. The Rat said :
They looked at him frowningly and the Yellow Boy opened a sleepy eye.
“Coin' where?" Millard demanded.
“To Roark's station.” the Rat said. "I’ve been thinkin’ about that woman an' kids at Miljeena. I got to tell 'em at Roark’s station to go an’ rescue 'em. I've got to deliver that dead man's message. "
"Is that so?” Millard said dryly. "Well,
you sit down again. Rat. You don’t get. away with them camels. We want them ourselves.”
"That’s right.” said Jimmy the Bull. “Nobody ain’t objectin' to you goin’, Rat, but you'll have to walk."
"He’s not going at all," Millard said. “He’s goin' to stop with us.”
Jimmy the Bull looked at Millard. Jimmy the Bull’s glance wavered.
“Yes," he agreed, "he better stop with us. maybe. I—well, I was only jokin’ about 'im goin'."
“You weren’t. It's just that now you're only wantin’ the chance to beat 'im up for tryin’ to go.”
The Rat looked in their faces. He faltered:
"I got to go; I got to go.”
“You don’t!” Jimmy the Bull roared in sheer delight of opposition. “You don’t get out of this hut, see?”
The Rat retreated from his bullying fist. His lip trembled.
"I got to go,” he pleaded. “That dead man's message, that woman an' them kids —it kind of—”
“Shut up!" Jimmy the Bull raged. "You don’t get outa here !”
The Yellow Boy, disturbed by the voices, had opened his other sleepy eye. He looked at Millard and Jimmy the Bull. His glance came to rest on the Rat.
“It iss no use, Rat,” he said, with more kindness than the Rat had ever received from the others. "You better quit. They don’t mean to let you go.”
The Rat said nothing. The old habit of self-effacement settled upon him; the old passive cowardice began to weaken his spine. He began to crumple before the other men’s snarls. But with it all, anger burned in him. A part of his being that had long been dormant, that was so spiritless it had never even flamed with rage, now came abruptly to life. He felt the bum of it. He hardly knew what he did.
Jimmy the Bull roared, “Look out!” but he was tx) late. The Rat had got the rifle which had leaned against the wall. He swung it in an arc that covered Jimmy the Bull and Millard.
"Stand back !”
'T'HE Rat hardly recognized his own voice.
It was not like his own. It was like the harsh, compelling voice of Millard or Jimmy the Bull.
He edged toward the door. Got it open. Millard leaped, grabbed the rifle, twisted it from his hand, a cartridge discharging harmlessly into the floor. Jimmy the Bull’s foot shot out to trip him in the drxirway. He fell out of the doorway into the sand. A great hand grabbed his shoulder as he got to his knee; he twisted free with half his shirt gone. He picked himself up and ran.
Crazily he panted through the wind and the dust. At his neck he thought he could feel the breath of Jimmy the Bull; behind him he thought he heard, even in the tumult of the wind and sighing sand, the pound of running feet. But he did not turn. He ran on, his lungs aching, his breath sobbing in his throat.
At last he fell. He lay exhausted, unable to struggle up, a red haze blinding his eyes, waiting for Jimmy the Bull or Millard to pounce on him. They did not come.
He raised his head. In the fog of dust no one was visible. They had lost him in the dust. He rose, conscious now of the pain in his half-shod foot as he limped on.
Camels he must find those camels! His eyes strained for them in the veil of floating dust. He saw nothing. He could not vie the hut now. His flight had taken him far. But no farther, he thought, than grazing hobbled camels would stray. He had a sudden and brilliant idea. Camels were hard to locate in that vastness of plain, that haze of dust, but there wasn't need to look everywhere.
Scrub, that was it. They would be feeding where scrub was. He must look for scrub. That shouldn't be hard to find, and it would lead him to the camels.
Suddenly he stopped. He heard a voice in the wind and dust. He heard the voice of Jimmy the Bull, but could not see him. Jimmy the Bull was roaring almost in terror.
"Hey, Millard ! I can't see the hut. Can't find my way back Blast yer, why don’t you answer me?”
Jimmy the Bull passed on, his fading voice still bellowing for Millard.
The Rat continued his search. At last he heard a bell tinkling faintly in the wind, and two camels loomed before him in a patch of scrub. He went toward them confidently.
But one was a bull camel. It looked at him, didn't like the appearance of the stranger, and came for him. The Rat had no knowledge of camels. He didn’t know how easily a camel could kill a man, but he was afraid of its snarling, foaming jaws. He picked up a junk of jagged ironstone; cast it. It landed fairly on the snout of the bull camel, and the bull camel’s head went up. It checked; stared at him evilly; roared and went to strike at him with a forefoot. But its forefeet were hobbled. The bull camel fell. This saved the Rat.
The other was a mild-eyed cow camel. He sensed its mildness and went to it relievedly, speaking in a soft voice, as though it were a horse. "Whoa, there now! Whoa, my pretty!”
The cow camel let him come up to it. He patted it; uncoiled the noseline from its neck. He stooped and unfixed the hobbles. Shuffling up through the litter of his memories was something he had heard an Afghan address to camels. He commanded. “Hoosh! Hooshta!” and the camel knelt.
He climbed on to its back. A wounded man had unfixed girths and let a heavy saddle slip from a rising camel, so the Rat had no saddle. He settled on the rearward slope of the hump and held on by the long hair and his thin legs. He slapped with his heels, urging the camel into motion. Sulkily it responded. The bull camel, its hobbles broken in its fall, lined more sulkily into file behind it.
The camels, not the Rat, found the trail. The Rat knew that it was the one, that it led northwest to Roark's station, because the wind came from the southwest and the trail went the way the wind did. It was obliterated in places by driven sand, but it always showed again. If the Rat lost it, the camels kept to it.
THE Rat sighed. It would be a hard trek to Roark’s station, but he would get there and deliver the dead man’s message, so that men would go out with camels and save the woman and children. That was good. The Rat liked to think about it. In his starved, beaten life there had been little he cared to think about. But he thought about this impersonally. There seemed no merit in himself. He was no good. He was a crook. He knew it. He was a weakling, only a butt for other people’s humor. All the scorn and derision of dreary years convinced him of his worthlessness. And yet and here was the revelation he was not, after all, the least of the earth. There were men lower than he. Millard and Jimmy the Bull, with all their strength of muscle and mind, would not go forth on the trail to Roark's station. They wouldn't risk anything to help a woman and children in the shadow of death. Therein was their weakness. He had called their bluff.
The oppression of ages lifted from the Rat’s cowed spirit. Chains fell away from him. He had stixid up to Jimmy the Bull and Millard, those two tough prisoners, those two hertx*s of the cells. He would never be afraid of them again because he had learner! what it was that, with all their strength, they lacked. He would never be afraid of the hurt of their tongues or their hands. A strength that was neither of muscle nor mind but of spirit rose up in him. Defiance ran hotly in his veins, his heart. With savage joy he shouted into the snarling
“Cowards!" Thr F.*i