Page images

keen as at that moment of peril when she needed them. With the best of women it is often so.

As she listened motionless her eyes flashed. The colloquy overheard was brief. A few questions were asked, some instructions given. The girl's heart pulsed with restrained excitement. Then the Japanese officer snapped his watch-ease in the blurr of the binnacle lamp, and assented with final curtness to something urged by his countryman on the Ytyiturer's deck. Neither of the speakers noticed for a moment the slim young form in the darkness so silent and so still.

The officer waved his hand; the suspense ended. After a second's pregnant pause the torpedo-boat put her helm over and vanished phautom-llke into the suow-storm. Her port light winked balefully out into the patches of the night as she disappeared. The swirl of water from her twin screws eddied thickly for a minute and died down. She left behind her men on the bridge of the cargo-boat astounded, almost dumb, at their escape.

"What, in Heaven's name, is the meaning of that?" said Fairton hoarsely. Mechanically he jammed the telegraph handle back to full-speed ahead. The big steamer vibrated again with energy. Once more she shoved her nose into the gloom of her course.

Beatrice Dennis came through the darkness into the gleam of the chartroom. Her face was pallid as the snow without . She met Drummond unflinching. "Well?" was all he said.

"Call the captain," she ordered. Fairton came at once.

"Can you get that man of the crew who spoke to the Japanese in here alone? Only be ready not to let him join the others again and give the alarm—if i'm right."

Fairton nodded comprehension. He went out. Presently he returned with the sailor. He was a squat-featured

Mongolian; in his black beady eyes was the glitter of fanaticism. Behind the two men another form lurked with mysteriousness.

"Pull his pigtail!" decreed Beatrice, in an odd voice.

At this brutal command the captain stared, and the owner of the pigtail squirmed suddenly like a trapped thing. But Drummond instantly grasped her meaning. He seized that appendage, and gave it a wrench with deftness, it came off in his hand.

"Hell!" The face of the disguised Japanese lit with fury. But the cook, who was a resourceful man and unseen behind him, swiftly flung a very dirty sack, which had once held potatoes, over his head. This modified the subsequent struggle.

A few minutes later Lieutenant Okara, of the imperial Japanese Navy, was successfully propelled along the deck, and hustled without ceremony into a store pantry. There he was locked securely amid the butter casks and onions. His captor, the cook, lit the pipe of gratification outside and grinned at the sound of the prisoner's bumpings.

There was a great shortage of firemen in the stokehole. Said the engineer when summoned to a conference by his captain:

"Mon, there'll be uae insubordeenatlon wi' the pairsons in question while me an' the second obsairve their welfare affectionate wi' the peestols o' precaution. if ye can deespose o' the wily deevils on deck. sir. we'll e'en make Port Arthur yet."

"Carry on then," agreed Fairton rather sombrely. "But spread them out remorselessly if there's trouble."

"Never ye fear, sir," averred the brawny Scotchman with solemnity. "Well aye handle the roubles o' safety still."

And so the Venturer ploughed steaming into the blackness, while her ofBcers proceeded to deal with others of the native deck hands.

From the next masquerading Chinaman tackled, coercion extracted information; and he was induced to reveal to the despised foreign girl, who spoke his language so easily, the whereabouts of a package which Beatrice greatly desired to locate. Thereupon the steward took charge of this informant with the slanting, shifty gaze. While held by the shoulders on his way to the lazarette the Englishman's foot was suitably applied. The victim howled at a treatment so convincing, and the chart-room furniture was rearranged after the scrimmage. Then the fo'c'stle was entered, and cleared at the point of persuasive revolver barrels of the few occupants left there.

"Oh, be very careful," besought Beatrice with ashy cheeks and scared pulsating nostrils. She pointed to a heavy box stowed under a bunk. "it's the bursting charges for the holds,'' she said.

Thus admonished, the movers of that package were tenderness itself. Just as it was being very gingerly consigned to the fish of the deep-sea soundings. a hidden Japanese sailor sprang at Fairton with savage despair from behind a winch. The two men reeled on the slithering deck; an unsheathed knife gleamed dully.

Drummoud was occupied in lowering the explosives overboard. Fairton. taken unawares, was underneath in the fray. Beatrice never paused.

in that fleeting second she knew that she loved, and the knowledge possessed her soul. Such an awakening is unaccountable, but nevertheless it can be true. He was her man there, and he was fighting for his very life. Her strong little hands wrenched at the coat-collar of the writhing Japanese with desperate energy.

He wriggled savagely, turned over.

and stabbed at his new opponent witJi madness. The blade of the weapon ripped the sleeve of her jacket, and the blood spurted from her wounded arm. Then the flash of a revolver singed her hair.

"That chap's become an ancestor." remarked Drummoud, coolly re-pocketing his pistol. "My God! you're hurt."

"it's only a scratch," she panted. But Fairton was ou his feet again. His arm was round her waist. Everything else was forgotten in his passionate fear for her. He was white to tinlips.

"How dare you take such a risk—for me'C he cried.

"it's all right now," she answered humbly. Though she was not thinking of herself. She staggered with queer helplessness against the hatchway.

He half carried her into the chartroom, strong in a wild sense of joy that somehow he should be the possessor of this girl who had been mauled in the act of protecting him. Drummond bandaged her arm. He was quiet and skilful, with a strangely tender touch. Nothing seemed to comc amiss to him.

The warmth of the lire, the brandy that Fairton fetched for her, perhaps some inner consciousness of feelings unmasked in the peril, brought a dusky glow of color into that fair young face, so cold and set. She sat up suddenly with girlish dignity.

"i'm better: i was a fool to faint. Do you understand it all now?" she challenged, with bright blue eyes.

"Don't talk!" But the patieut demurred mutinously.

"i shall if i want to. You're not to scold. Listen! 1 heard the torpedoboat officer tell part, and 1 guessed the rest. The Japanese don't want to capture you. They would rather sink you in Port Arthur channel. They mean to jam the VwturtT there to bottle up tbe Russian warships in the harbor so that they can't escape." In a dash both men understood. The air at Chefoo had been thick with rumors of repulse. The grand assault of Nogi's splendid army on tbe second line of the Port Arthur defences had been hurled back in a chaos of ruin and slaughter. The Baltic Fleet had sailed for the Bast. The Vladivostock squadron was out again seeking juncture with the Port Arthur battleships. The previous heroic attempts of the Japanese to choke the narrow fairway had been thwarted by the searchlights, and had withered away under the guns of the Russian batteries, aided by the frustrating tideeddies and sweeps of the great Bay. The arrival of the blockade-runner suggested another course. She should be permitted to pass through the cordon of investing Japanese vessels. The Russians would not only welcome her entry into the neck-shaped channel, but would actually pilot her through the protecting booms and minefields. Then in the right spot in the funnelled fairway the crew, shipped for the purpose. would scuttle her by explosion. Thus the path of egress of the sorely pressed war fleet within the harbor would be barred, leaving it imprisoned at the mercy of the enfilading siege guns of the next attack by land.

It was a pretty scheme of craft and daring. It was foiled—by a girl.

Of those last hours of the voyage of the Venturer no very clear account is ever obtainable from her navigators. Sometimes they will speak of confused recollections blurred on the retina of memory; but it is not easy to induce them to do this. It was as if all the outside world were dead, so that they moved In the lonely vista of a dream that passed. The hail drove out of the blackness, sloshed over the drenching bridge, penetrated every cranny, stinging with bitter cold. Once in the low


ering gloom of the dawning a gaunt cruiser emerged of a sudden from out the cauldron of the snow fog, the smoke pouring from her brine-encrusted funnels, a stretch of foam streaking the w.aters in her seething wake. Her megaphone blared menacing Inquiry. In obedience to Beatrice's instructions the red port light was unshipped and flashed live timesdot—three dashes—dot; and the warship heaved away, hooting on her syren. "It is the arranged private signal of the Japanese; I learnt it from our prisoners," said the signaller in explanation.

"Are you running this pleasure cruise or is you girl?" Dummond queried huskily of his companion on the bridge. And Fairton twice reiterated, "The girl."

Gradually, as they crept through the snow smother, the reverberation of distant gunfire resounded nearer. With a blaze of courage in her eyes Beatrice turned to the captain. In a tingle of expectation and hope she pointed to a reach of black water ahead. Over it a battered destroyer danced towards them. A rocket seared the sky.

"It's the Russians at last!" she cried, exultlngly. "Now they will pilot us In."

The rocks of the whitened headlands, the farther trench-seamed mountains, broke Into the horizon of the sea. Ihe voyage was done.

It Is a well-known fact at Lloyd's that one British steamer succeeded in running the blockade Into Port Arthur late in the siege.

There were worn men in reeking fortress hospitals who blessed the coming of the Venturer with the merciful medical supplies. There were starring moujik soldiers to whom her advent brought an extra ration of comfort before the next great light. There was a Secret Service agent of the Imperial Navy of Japan who reviled old man Lewlson in the privacy of his Chefoo office, and spoke cold and brutal words concerning incompetency to perform engagements. And there was a joyful group of underwriters round a flimsy yellow paper in the telegraph-room of the London Royal Exchange who congratulated each other with warmth on the arrival of a heavily insured cargo steamer and subscribed a gratuity for her master. But none of them suspected to whom the credit was rightly due.

Beatrice came into the after cabin and flung back the hooded cape which cloaked her throat and ears. Shi' looked white and spent; there were dark circles under the loug-lasued eyes. l''airton rose quickly to greet her. The short days of perilous comradeship were over. It had to be decided what remained.

"The question Is what I am going to do now." the girl announced. A bint of appeal mingled with the grave air of innocence on her face.

"Trust yourself to me," said the man who watched her, briefly.

"I've been doing that." she flashed on the impulse.

The Oornhlll Magazine.

"From Chefoo to Port Arthur," responded the sailor slowly. "It Is not far."

"I'm a pefect disgrace to behold lu this frock," said Beatrice, with forlorn irrelevance. "You can't attempt to contradict it," she flushed.

"There is one possible course open to you," began Falrton, ignoring the challenge of the frock.

"Go on!" said the girl as he paused.

"It's painfully obvious."

She seated herself on the edge of the saloon table, and dangled a small foot with abandon. "Still, I'll consider it," she offered judicially. Her eyes shone with the wise candor of a child.

"I mentioned my plan to Lewlson the night you came on board."

"Every one was making such a hubbub I don't think I can have heard," she murmured in harried comment

Wherefore the captain of the Venturer proceeded again to urge his idea to the other person so chiefly concerned. Her verbal consent was muffled by her companion's methods of persuasion. The love color swept enchantingly into her cheeks. And Beatrice became content.

Arthur H. Henderson.


Sainthood is as great a mystery as genius. It is, indeed, moral genius, and only granted to the few; nor is It desirable for the world's morality that this should be otherwise. It is abnormal, Irrational, excessive, revolutionary. It is there to set up an Ideal, and the average man is there to adapt the ideal to the needs of daily life and so to readjust the balance. More than this, It seems as If saintliness must

*" Prom St. Francis to Dante." By G. G. Coulton. (Nntt. 10s. 6d. net.) "St. Catherine of Siena and ber Times."

generally be produced by its contrary; as if only violent and lawless times have the force to produce such an acute reaction; so that the appearance of saints is, as a rule, the Indication of a low current morality. Reflections of this nature are suggested by the two volumes now before us. Mr. Coulton's "From St. Francis to Dante" gives a truthful picture of the ages that engendered a St. Francis and a St. Oath

By the author of " Mademoiselle Mori." (Mehuen. 5s. net.)

erine— a more eulighteuing picture than any we have yet read—while in "St. Catherine of Siena and her Times" we get a vivid account of one of the uoblest and most human of saints, as well as of the world that surrounded her. Mr. Coulton's book is the more important, because it reveals new truth, by throwing fresh light on old facts, no less than by producing hitherto unknown information. For it is a commentary upon the famous •'Autobiography of Brother Salimbene, the Franciscan," from which it gives long extracts, almost chapters; and that valuable work, "the most precious existing authority for the inner life of Catholic folk" at the best period of the Middle Ages, is only "now at last being published in its entirety," under the editorship of Professor HolderFgger, in the Monumenta Germaniae.

An edition was indeed published in 1857 at Parma; but this was printed from an imperfect transcript, mutilated in deference to ecclesiastical susceptibilities. The original MS., after many vicissitudes, had been bought into the Vatican Library in order to render a complete publication impossible; and it was only thrown open to students, with the rest of the Vatican treasures, by the liberality of the late Pope l^eo XiiL Even now the complete Salimbene will never be read; for many sheets have been cut out of the MS., and parts of others erased, by certain scandalized readers of long ago.

Mr. Coultou is a far-seeing man and a good writer. What is more remarkable, he contrives to unite a judicial mind with strong convictions, which lend warmth and interest to his style. Salimbene's chronicle, that of a shrewd, humorous, moderate-minded, good, and rather cynical Franciscan, is. naturally, a record of his Order and iif the state of the Church; but he affords lis many side-lights on the life of people and nobles, and what he tells

us of them is supplemented by St. Catherine's biographer. We are accustomed, most of us. to a William Morris-like picture of the early Middle Ages. "The thirteenth century," says Mr. Coultou, "which from our modern distance seems at first sight to swim in one haze of Fra Angelico blue, shows to the telescope its full share of barren and pestilent marsh." Salimbene wrote of days only thirty and forty years after St. Francis, but the saint's spirit had almost died out among Franciscan Brethren. The degradation of his ideals had begun, as Mr. Coulton points out, even during his lifetime. Brother Ellas, his disciple, well known to Salimbene, ossified faith into ritual, and the very austerity of the primal Franciscan standard, too stringent for ordinary people, resulted in a corresponding laxity. Average men returned to their average, and the average of 1260 till 1360, or later, is not pleasant to dwell on. The grossness and uncleanliness were incredible, and the rules laid down for the friars' manners when at table make us humbly thankful for forks, pocket-handkerchiefs, soap, and other unrealized blessings. More shocking to the moral sense are the rules for their behavior in Church. They talked, they laughed aloud, especially at any blunder in the service; they walked about during mass, gossiping; they slept as a matter of course; and, as can be imagined, the lay congregations were by no means superior to the monastic ones. One day a whole churchful of people rushed away, in the midst of a sermon, to the Cathedral, because they heard that a boypreacher, then in vogue, was at that moment in the pulpit. As for the immorality of the clergy, their simony, their absenteeism, faults so dwelt on at the time of the Reformation, it is dismal to find how they prevailed before 1M00. The lash of Dante's tongue

« PreviousContinue »