F OR once Dick Cressy read a letter sitting bolt upright at his desk. AK a rule letters bearing the state department heading and addressed to Richard Cressy, Esq., U. S. consulate at Val- }><igi<>, were light summer reading in a land where it was always summer. This was very different. In addition to the formal request that Mr. Cressy expedite the matter of the [j Cnrston mining company's claim there lj was a private slip from one of the cljans he knew when he had been in Washington. "Dear Dickie," it read, "this is no idle jest, so hump over the machine and pedal hard. Old man Bruce is Carston, and unless you get the thing fixed up P. D. Q. there will be a head on a charger, and I'm afraid it will be a speaking likeness of you. By the way, Phil Bannock is on his way io the place you call home just now. Be nice to him. He's on his way to join a circus. I should be glad to see you but I'd rather see you home on i'eave than to make a holiday for old Bruce. Brace up, if the tropics have Sat taken all the spine out of you." It was just like Coggings, he reflected, to tip them off. He remembered Bruce, a western senator with a keen belief that a public office was a private trust. One of the trusts was the Carston mining company. The preaidente of the republic of Constania had been induced to sign a blanket concession giving the Carston company the right to purchase any gold lands it wanted when found. The agent who had promulgated the deal had spent a small fortune in entertainment before the contract had gone through, and Cressy felt very much like transmitting the real 'facts to congress and then anticipating the demand for his resignation by following his report to Washington. Of course Montanka had repudiated the contract as soon as the agent and his entertainments had vanished. As consul at Valpegio, Cressy had been instructed to enforce the contract for the honor of his country, nnd the matter gave promise of a very satisfactory adjustment about the time that an ice rink was opened in the inferno, as Cressy informed some of his chums in the state department. As a state department official he knew that Bruce had a long reach, and that he had a pull strong enough to remove the present incumbent of the consulate at Valpegio. For all of lhat he had about decided to go o\er to the government house and give Montanka an idea of secretary of the Carston mining company." on whose behalf the senator requested that, all favors be shown her. "I thought Bruce was the Carston what was coming when his servant | company." he gasped. "The whole entered bearing a caro. "Tell him 10 come in," laughed Cressy. remembering the allusion to I Bannock "I'll be glad to see anyone from home." . "Will the senor dress?" ventured the servant, eyeing the pajamas that decked the form of the man. I "Not this weather," laughed Cressy. "Send h, : n in." He busied himself with the preparations for a cooling drink, and as the door shut softly he called out: j "Make yourself at home, old man. I'll be with you in a second. Goggy warned me that you were coming." He emerged from the tiny closet where the ice box was kept and the next instant he was crossing the room in long jumps. He paused at the opposite doorway long enough to thrust his head through the curtains and make an apology; then he vanished toward his bedroom wondering how such a pretty American girl could have happened upon such a desolate spot as Val- pegio. His toilet occupied only half the usual time, and presently he was back in his office explaining and apologizing. "I thought that Bannock could be the only passenger who would hunt me up, and down in this superheated portion of the country pajamas are considered good form until the sun sets." he stammered. "I am sorry to have discommoded you," was the laughing response, "but my father told me to look you up on my arrival, and I hurried to obey instructions. I sent in my card." "Too hot to read," he explained locanically. "I guessed at it and I guessed wrong. What can I do for you?" He held out his hand for the inevitable letter of introduction, and was not disappointed, for she thrust intr. his grasp a bulky envelope with U. S. senate in the corner. It needed the service of no mind reader to tell him that it was a letter from Senator Bruce. He was too familiar with the handwriting; but he gasped when he read that the letter introduced "Miss Eva Mindell, the thing. "Not at all," xhc smiled. ".My father put up the money. There hud to l>e a third member, and so they gave me a share of the stock." "Do you know the game?" he demanded bluntly. "I know very little about business," was the quiet reply. "I mean do you know what Bruce is up to?" he corrected. "Only that he let father come into the company as a favor," she said simply. "He needed a little money, and so father let him have it." "What did Bruce pjit up?" "I think he gave no money, but there were other considerations. Of course so influential a man cannot, take a prominent part in a company, but he told father that we should nil be rich in a few years." I "And you've come down to see the I thing through?" he commented. "Did Bruce send you?" "My father," she responded. "You see, we were afraid lhat father might get the fever, and he is a very old man. Every cent we. have is tied up in this venture." Bit by bit Cressy drew her story from her. There was little that she could tell, but he could guess the rest. Bruce had needed money and a figurehead in the venture. He had found both in Francis Mindell. When the venture had fallen through it was natural that he should look out for the interests of his constituent. Then things had moved slowly, and he had sent a letter through the state department, and at the same time had sent the girl down to see the thing through. That Valpegio was an unhealthy plaice in August did not interest him. He wanted to see the matter put through, and perhaps he thought that Miss Mindell could act more quickly than a man. In any event he had sent her, and Cressy was determined that the thing should be put through. Very little was said of the real aspects of the case, but he saw that she was comfortably installed in the best suite in the hotel, and then he went off to see Montanka. lie likctl MontanUs. who played the best poke;- in all Constanta, ami he was admitted without question to the dictator's presence. "I've come iibotit that Carsl.on matter." ho said abruptly. "There is a girl flown here who wants to have the thing fixed up *c> thai, she fan take the next, steamer hack to the i stales." "Dick," sair the president, "I love yon like a brother. Why rlo you bother me with thai thing. Have I not told you that i was swindled and that I shall not recognize Ihe concession?" "That's all right," was the easy lie did not know what to do. The case was so palpably one of fraud that he knew that no warship would do more than make a demonstration. It never would rlo to bluff. Mon- tanka played too good a game of poker for that. He went down the street worried and uncertain. He started slowly toward home; but as the regulation afternoon drizzle began before he was half way there, he decider! to spend the rest of the day and evening at the club newby. He ale and drank a little and then sat and thought over the situation MO UK THAN ONCE HE STOPPED AND LOOKED TOWARD THE PALACE response, "but the department sent word that Ihe thing had to go through or they'll send clown a couple of ironclads." "I have never seen an ironclad," was Ihe dreamy answer, "that is. a really good one. I think it will be most interesting." Cressy grunted out an invitation to the dictator to go hang himself and left the room. for hours. Many plans suggested themselves, but none seemed likely to succeed. It was very late when he started for his domicile, and more than once he stopped along the deserted streets, turned and looked at the turrets of the palace and pondered over again j as to how he could force the dictator's hand. The next day as he was crossing the public square he ran into an American. "I'll bet you're the consul," shouted the stranger. "I'm Bannock of Bannock's brigade. Did | Goggins write you about me?" "What are you doing down here?" demanded Cressy, as he headed for the hotel on the opposite side of the square. j "Got a troupe," explained Ban-] nock. "They do a drill and wall seal- j ing. Mighty nice boys. Here they arc!" He drew from his pocket a letterhead showing twelve young men in gaudy uniforms. "They are all actors." he added. "Do a single act beside the drill, but I figure that the drill will catch the crowd; they must. like soldiers here, and every private has as much gold lace as a Columbian general." "Do they speak Spanish or lingua Franca?" demanded Cressy. "Not a word," was the prompt response. "Bring them over to the consulate." urged Cressy. "I want 'cm for —a game." He linked his arm through Bannock's and presently they disappeared into the hotel. An hour later the troupe had been moved to the consulate, fourteen husky fellows. Cressy made them at home and sent a note to the dictator. That evening Montanka came. He was in a light flannel suit, for he supposed that it was merely one of Creasy's parties. Instead he was ush- The next morning Cressy waited upon Miss Mindell. "I have the papers drawn up," he said. "I happen to know that it will take very little to get good land. You don't need a dredge. They can be worked by- hand, and we can get convict labor from Montanka. The question is, do you want Bruce in the company? I understand he does not appear on the incorporation. I had these concessions made out to myself personally. If Bruce is in I'll make them over to the Carston company. If you want to keep him out I'll make them over to you." For the first time the girl learned from him how Bruce had sought tn swindle the government and how he had used his position as a senator to further his aims,, making Mimlell a ered into a room crowded with re-1 figurehead. splendent beings in uniform and gold "I'd like to see him left out," she ' I mused, one hand supporting her pret- lace. "I thought you would rather have a talk here than in your place," apologized Creasy. "You see my govern- ty chin, "but I don't know how he would take U." "I guess he's got sense enough to ment has decided that you must be keep still," laughed Cressy. "If he made to keep your contracts or else ! won't I'll keep him quiet." be deposed. A warship would make a "But you will be down here," she scandal. Here are fourteen men from West Point. I think you have heard of West Point?" objected. "I'll be home by that time." he I assured. "Where they make the soldiers?" The girl guessed the truth. "You stammered Montanka. "I have I gave up your position here to help heard." father," she cried. "We will have to give you one." "There's just one I want." he said boldly. "That's being the husband of the secretary." "I think," she said, blushing, "that that position is—open." "They are down here to lead an army against you. They are all generals. With fourteen regiments— well, you can see what will happen. I suppose you will live in Paris after the crash comes—unless they get you ,. „ _.. before you can make your escape. You I "It's filled now." he said, taking will live up to that contract or these You her in his arms. "I'll just fix about getting lhat drill team back to the states and we'll all home to start generals go into the interior. Can t Stop them. . a,,ai.ca ami rv e ii Nil Jju Iiiriue t.u Slciru Montanka paused. He knew what the company. I had to promise Ban- his people were. He knew all that nock what he would have made on gold lace meant to them. He knew his vaudeville tour for the use of his whar fourten trained officers could i generals. After I've fixed that I'll do against his idle and undisciplined I come back with Mrs. Cressy and be- force. He made a graceful gesture. "You hold four aces," he conceded. "What is the pot?" "The concessions." "With these noble gentlemen as my witnesses." he declared, "I grant you the contract." "Better make it out to me," suggested Cressy. "I will turn it over to the right parties." Without delay, Montanka signed the papers Cressy pushed toward him and then, with the cares of state off his mind, he turned to his beloved game. gin work—after I've fixed Bruce." "I think you've fixed him already," she blushed. "He asked me to marry him, and I told him I would think it- over." "I think I ran shift the thinking to him," he laughed. "I'm good at that sort of thing. Montanka has been thinking a lot lately. I want to get out before his deductions lead him to the belief that there Is more in bluffing than corcerns poker." "What?" demanded Eva. "Love," he said, as he kissed her again. IHERE was a hoplessness in Mark Raymond's face, a look of utter despair in his eyes, as he sat in his shabby lodgings', grappling with the desperate problem of how he could raise $1,000 witliih a week's time. His old father, who had been for many years the trusted bookkeeper in a..large factory, had been cognizant of a fraudulent transaction concocted and executed by the cashier and superintendent, who had both skipped with their plunder. Although Raymond had not profited by the robbery, he was arrested, tried;-reprimanded hy the court, and fined $1,000 for riot having divulged his Jtnowledge of the crime to his employers. He had no money with which to pay his fine, nor had his son Mark, a young man, who had recently started upon a business career. The alternative of the "fine was a term of two years in prison. Confinement would probably mean death to the old man, whose health had been greatly shattered by the disgrace of the trial. Mark exhausted every resource of his inventive faculties for the means of obtaining this sum. Wearied and weakened by the fruitless efforts of his nonbreeding brain, he picked up the paper'in the hopeless hope of finding a way. He studied the advertisements — the "Male Help" and "To Loan" columns. Then his eye suddenly fell on a "pesonal," asking x healthy, able- bodied men who wished to make $1,000 in two weeks" time, cash paid in advance, to call at the office of a physician whose name and address were given, between the hours of 9 and 11 that morning. Of course there were strings of some sort to the proposition or it was a hoax, an advertising scheme, but he was in too desperate a strait not to catch at anything. This, his last resource, might be chance-directed. At the doctor's office he found a mixed miscellany of mankind awaiting their turn at application. Mark fell in line. Far ahead be saw the physician closely scrutinizing each man. Mark's heart beat in agony as he came up in range of the keen, searching eye. The practiced eye swept over him, and a look of satisfaction overspread his professional face. "Slav Inside, please," he said curtly. • MARK RAYMOND. Mark, with a little indrawn breath of relief, passed within the railing. Why had he been selected? To be sure he was healthy and able-bodied, but so were several others ahead of him who had been rejected. He must have some other qualification. Two more aspirants were chosen, and then the doctor closed and locked the outer door. He privately interviewed each. One by one they came out of the inner office with keen dis- appointment written on their faces. Mark was the last to enter. "They all refused the condition attached to the 51,000, as I expected they would," explained the doctor, "but your expression is so anxious I have hopes that you need the money enough to consent.-" "There exists no condition, if within human power to fulfil, that will prevent me from accepting your offer." "May I ask what pressing need prompts such desperation?" "I must pay a $1,000 fine for my aged father or he will die in prison." The doctor looked at him with sympathy and comprehension. "I think you will accept this condition. The case is this: I have a pa tient, a prominent, wealthy man from one of the eastern states, who is running for a politcal office. He has an enemy who enticed him into a questionable gambling house, instigated a quarrel, and in a general free for all fight, he cut off my patient's left ear. The fact of his having been in so tough a resort and quarreled would be corroborated by the loss of his ear, and defeat his election, which was, of course, the motive of his enemy. My patient had friends with him, who acted promptly and discreetly. They circulated the report that he had an attack of nervous prostration and came out to the mountains to recuperate. Through me he made the offer of $1,000 to any one who will surrender his left ear to be grafted on his head. Do you consent?" "Yes," cried Mark, with firm lips. "Anything for the money." "Good!" exclaimed the doctor. "You see besides the requirements specified in the advertisement, the applicant must have an ear of size and. shape similar to that of my patient, so his ears would be mates. Yours are almost a counterpart of his. Can you have the operation performed at once?" "Yes." They drove to a hospital and in a private room Mark was introduced to Hon. William L. Norcups, a .multi- millionaire, who sat with bandaged head. He seemed delighted with the apearance of the wholesome-looking chap whose left ear was such an exact match for the one he had lost. "I'll write out a check for $1,000 now." he said hurriedly, "and if your ear behaves well, I'll give you an extra thousand to start in business." Mark and the doctor in company with Raymond, senior, repaired to the judge's office, and the fine was THE HON. MR. NORCUPS. paid. Mark said he had secured a good position as traveling salesman, and had been paid a year's salarly in advance. Then the doctor hurried Mark back to the hospital. The operation was entirely satisfactory, and during the process of rafting. Norcups and Raymond were near each other in the hospital. They grew intimate and confidential. "I was mighty glad, 1 can tell you," j said Norcups, laughing, "to see what la clean, healthy, moral-looking young victim the doctor had secured. It isn't every one's ear I would want!" In one of his communicative moods he gave Mark the details of that last •tragic night. "I thought my political career was ended." he said, "but now I can go back without the 'ear marks' of having been in a fight." "But that Leon Wheeler, your enemy, won't he give you away, and hasn't he already published the affair?" Norcups laughed. "I -have true and tried friends. They kidnaped Wheeler and have him secreted and secured. He is not to be released until I am back. I have done everything to give credence to ray mountain trip, and have written business and politcal letters. W r hen Wheeler comes with his Arabian Nights' tale, thanks to you, I can give him the He as far as .the ear is concerned. I doubt, if he will tell the story at all when he is confronted by the sight of my two ears." "If he does," said Mark thoughtfully. "I can suggest a way to disarm him." "How?" asked Norcups Interestedly. When Mark divulged the scheme lie had orlgnated, the admiration of the millionaire was unbounded. "That's the cleverest scheme I ever heard, if it works!" During the remainder of the time they were confined to the hospital, they were occupied in perfecting their plans for the undoing of Wheeler; At last Norcups, happy and properly eared, went home where he received an ovation and many congratulations upon the restoration of his health. The following day Wheeler's captors were ostensibly off guard and allowed him to think his escape was through his own efforts. He also returned home and gave a sensational account to his political boss of how Norcups became intoxicated at a gambling place and stirred up a general row. In the melee, defending himself against the general onslaught, by a knife he had picked up he had cut off Norcups' left ear. Some of his vlc- Leon began to ponder over the mystery. It was finally solved by his arrest on the charge of one Mark Raymond who asserted that by reason of a fight at a certain resort he had lost his ear, which was the tim's pals had been present, captured | truth, if not the whole truth. him and Intended to hold him until after election, but by strategic measures he outwitted them. Wheeler failed to make the sensation he expected. "Say. Leon, don't tell such a thin- Wheeler was overwhelmed over the situation. He had been drinking heavily on that night, and it now seemed evident to him that in the darkness and confusion when the lights were turned out, he had mistaken this young stranger for Nor- cups. "Can't we adjust the matter out of court?" he entreated, realizing that he was in a bad fix. A trial for cutting: off the ear of an innocent, inoffensive stranger at such a disreputable place would work to his politcal downfall. "What is your price?" he demanded. "I don't want money," replied the youth. "All I want is my ear." I "Well, how the deuce can I restore that to you?" "You can give me one of yours. I have consulted a physician, and he tells me one can be grafted on from another person." "But I can't go abput with one ear!" : "You can as well as I can, and you'll have to! Any jury will sustain me in my demand. 'An ear for an ear,' you know. Etesirie you can buy another of some poor devil who is sufficiently hard pressed." "Well, then, why don't you do that? I will reimburse the victim." "No!" persisted Mark, stubbornly. "You lost me my ear, and I will have one of yours for satisfaction. I will have no other." "Politics certainly has brought me with a party of people, and is strange bcdftillows," reflected Ray- home all right. You other hit the mond as he lal/ beside Wheeler in the LEOX WHEELER. ice story as that to any one else. Nor- cups has both his ears without a scratch on them. He has been in the bottle too hard or else you've had pipe dreams." Wheeler at once started to find Norcups and see if he was in possession of two ears. He beheld him in a lecture hall with both ears. operating roo'n of a hospital, "but I am working > 'graft' now. myself.'" While Rayiaond was recuperating he received a telegram which read: "Elected by 1,000 majority. .Vor- cups." ft .6 . .-. JUST & <* 9 «• etr! 'of-! tati the vtJ tafi T HE bed creaked as David Whiting turned cautiously on his side. In all the forty-two years of his life this was tne second time that he could remember himself lying sicK and helpless. But lie thought he had been ^ long enough now to make up for all the years of health and strength. The bed creaked again. Someone tapped faintly at the door; then it opened and a small girl, all stiff white dress and crisp blue bows, came slowly in, carrying a plate covered with a napkin. On the white napkin lay a handful of blue and yellow crocuses. "The home-made-cooky woman s beeh'kn' mother thought p'raps you'd like'something to eat. An' the \cro- suses-are bioomin' down by the front steps." Left alone he took the wintry blossoms in his hand. They smelleU of the spring, sweet and earthy, and the bed complained anew as he thought of the tree-buds swelling against the April sky. He took a savage bite—of half a cooky. Then he took a critical bite —the other half. He reached for a second cooky and looked at it care- full J r —wonderingly. "Yes," they are striped," he said, "and they taste just the same. I hadn't thought of them for years." Later, when the child came up for the plate, he questioned her, unsatisfactorily. But he also gave an order. When the home-made-cooky woman came, two days later, Mrs. Bliss spoke casually: "The third-floor hack- wants some cookies. He's sick, and would you mind running up with them? I've been on my feet all day." David's growl of "Come in," changed to an eagerly welcome when he saw the cooky woman. "I'm so glad you came," he said. "It's mighty good of you, but you see I am tem- porarily helpless. Margaret gave me some of your cookies the other day. They made me think." "Of those your mother used to make?" she interrupted laughingly. His face sobered ."I never knew my mother's cookies," he replied, "she stopped making cookies and everything else when I came on the scene." "No," he continued, "but when I was a boy I used to call on a girl a good deal. And her mother kept a great stone jar in the pantry. It was always full ef cookies, though we all knew where it was and did our best to empty it. The girl's mother used to say that the rule for those cookies had been a family secret for years; she was never going to tell it except to her daughter. And these are her cookies," he finished, "even i to the stripes." The cooky woman's face had shown interest, wonder and puzzled aston- ishment. Now it lighted with recognition. "Why, you—you—you must be— yes, you are. I see it now—you are David Whiting!" "And you are—you used to be— Carrie Robinson." "I am still. 'Miss Caroline Robinson. Home-made Cooking,' at your service. Well, well, this does bring back old days." She sat down in the rickety rocking chair and loosened her coat. "You are the first one of the old crowd I've seen for years. They are all scattered and gone/' she said thoughtfully. "What, good times we used to have? Tell me about yourself; you went to South America, I remember." "Yes. in the mining business. I did well enough there till the company went to smash: then I worked my way slowly back home. But I had be'en away too long. The old friends were gone—or changed," he added, bitterly. "Yes, they change," she replied. "But I don't complain—except for this fit of sickness that keeps me cooped up here like a dog tied in a kennel. And you?" he inquired. "0, I'm the home-made-cooky woman," she said lightly. He felt the undercurrent of protest in her voice. "Yes, tell me—" "There's not much to tell. Mother died and father went insane. The money gave out and I had to do something. Some folks live to eat, you know, and all folks have to eat to live—and, I could cook. So I started in and I'm doing well. This is a good neighborhood; most everybody lives In rooms or flats. I must go now. I've a loaf of sponge cake for Mrs. Green, and she wants it for supper. Here are your cookies. I'll bring you some more next time I come." When she had gone he suddenly re- membered be did not know the price of cookies a dozen. But he devoured them eagerly—all but one. He asked Mrs. Bliss how many tlmes a week the cooky woman came, antl counted the hours between the times. When he woke Saturday morning to find it raining hard, he was unreasonably cross about the weather for a man who could not leave his bed. But she came. There were kinky curls about her ears, and raindrops on the curls, and a storm did not seem so bad. after all. Through April and May he feastec on cookies. One day she found bin walking slowly about the room. ' "My," she said, "you'll soon >e coming after your own cookies now." "I shall," he responded, with a look that made her very cars tun rosy. And that night he sat and smoktd and thought of nothing but the cooky-woman. Some week, later David called on the cooky wjman. She came down into the boarding house parlor, dignified, not kiowiug who It was. When she saw Ds'vicl. she dimpled. "Did you want, some cookies, sir?" she' asked. "Yes ' answered David, boldly. "I want all the cookies you have and all t.te cookies you are going to make in t-'.e future! And I want the cooky wiman, too. I want to take her away ' _rom rooms and flats, and third-Bqor- backs, out into God's own country; and make a home for her!" "My!" she said, pink and smiling, "but you talk like a capitalist!" "No," said David, striding toward her and taking her in his arms, all unforbidden. "I'm not a capitalist. But I'm a monopolist—of the home- made-cooky woman!"
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