In a Steamer Chair and Other Stories | Robert Barr | Action & Adventure Fiction | English | 4/4

In a Steamer Chair and Other Stories | Robert Barr | Action & Adventure Fiction | English | 4/4

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Thirteen short stories by one of the most famous writers in his day. Robert Barr was a British Canadian short story writer and novelist, born in Glasgow, Scotland. In London of the 1890s Barr became a more prolific author – publishing a book a year – and was familiar with many of the best selling authors of his day, including Bret Harte and Stephen Crane. Most of his literary output was of the crime genre, then quite in vogue. When Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories were becoming well known, Barr published in the Idler the first Holmes parody, “The Adventures of Sherlaw Kombs” (1892), a spoof that was continued a decade later in another Barr story, “The Adventure of the Second Swag” (1904)(For these two stories, see in LibriVox Barr’s The Triumphs of Eugène Valmont). Despite the jibe at the growing Holmes phenomenon Barr and Doyle remained on very good terms. Doyle describes him in his memoirs Memories and Adventures as, “a volcanic Anglo – or rather Scot American, with a violent manner, a wealth of strong adjectives, and one of the kindest natures underneath it all.” (Summary by Wikipedia and David Wales)

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story seven of in a steamer chair and other stories this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org recording by david wales in a steamer chair and other stories by Robert Barr story 7 the man who was not on the passenger list the well sworn lie franked to the world with all the circumstance of proof cringes abashed and sneaks along the wall at the first sight of truth the gibran toss of the hot cross bun mine was at one time the best ship of that justly celebrated fleet all steam ships have of course their turn at the head of the fleet until a better boat is built but the get bronchus is even now a reasonably fast and popular boat an accident happened on board the gibran tis some years ago which was of small importance to the general public but of some moment to richard healing for it killed him the poor man got only a line or two in the papers when the steamer arrived at new york and then they spelled his name wrong it had happened something like this Keeling was wandering around very late at night when he should have been in his bunk and he stepped on a dark place that he thought was solid as it happened there was nothing between him and the bottom of the hold but space they buried Keeling at sea and the officers knew absolutely nothing about the matter when inquisitive passengers hearing rumors questioned them this state of things very often exists both on sea and land as far as officials are concerned mrs. Keeling who had been left in England while her husband went to America to make his fortune and tumbled down a hole instead felt aggrieved at the company the company said that Keeling had nope to be nosing around dark places on the deck at that time of night and doubtless their contention was just mrs. Keeling on the other hand held that a steamer had no right to have such man traps open at any time night or day without having them properly guarded and in that she was also probably correct the company was very sorry of course that the thing had occurred but they refused to pay for Kealing and less compelled to do so by the law of the land and their matters stood no one can tell what the law of the land will do when it is put in motion although many people thought that if mrs. Keeling had brought a suit against the hot cross bun company she would have won it but mrs. Keeling was a poor woman and you have to put a penny in the slot when you want the figures of justice to work so the unfortunate creature signed something which the lawyer of the company had written out and accepted the few pounds which Kealing had paid for room 18 on the gibran tiss it would seem that this ought to have settled the matter for the lawyer told mrs. Keeling he thought the company acted very generously in refunding the passage money but it didn't settle the matter within a year from that time the company voluntarily paid mrs. Keeling two thousand one hundred pounds for her husband now that the occurrence is called to your mind you will perhaps remember the editorial one of the leading London dailies had on the extraordinary circumstance in which it was very a bleach owned that the old saying about corporations having no souls to be condemned or bodies to be kicked did not apply in these days of commercial honour and integrity it was a very touching editorial and it caused tears to be shed on the stock exchange the members having had no idea before reading it that they were so noble and generous how then was it that the hot cross bun company did this commendable act when their lawyer took such pains to clear them of all legal liability the purser of the gibran tez who is now old and superannuated could probably tell you if he liked when the negotiations with mrs. Keeling had been brought to a satisfactory conclusion by the lawyer of the company and when that gentleman was rubbing his hands over his easy victory the good ship Gibran tiss was steaming out of the Mersey on her way to New York the stewards in the grand saloon were busy getting things in order for dinner when a worn and gaunt passenger spoke to one of them where have you placed me at table he asked what name sir asked the steward Kealing the steward looked along the main tables up one side and down the other reading the cards but nowhere did he find the name he was in search of then he looked at the small tables but also without success how do you spell it sir he asked the patient passenger k ee L ing thank you sir then he looked up and down the four rows of names on the passenger list he held in his hand but finally shook his head I can't find your name on the passenger list he said I'll speak to the purser sir I wish you would replied the passenger in a listless way as if he had not much interest in the matter the passenger whose name was not on the list waited until the steward returned would you mind stepping into the Purser's room for a moment sir I'll show you the way sir when the passenger was shown into the Purser's room that official said to him in the urbane manner of Purser's might I look at your ticket sir the passenger pulled a long pocketbook from the inside of his coat opened it and handed the purser the document it contained the scrutinized it sharply and then referred to a list he had on the desk before him this is very strange he said at last I never knew such a thing to occur before although of course it is always possible the people on shore have in some unaccountable manner left your name out of my list I am sorry you have been put to any inconvenience sir there has been no inconvenience so far said the passenger and I trust there will be none you find the ticket regular I presume quite so quite so replied the purser then to the waiting steward give mr. Keeling any place he prefers at the table which has not already taken you have room 18 that was what I bought at Liverpool well I see you have the room to yourself and I hope you will find it comfortable have you ever crossed with us before sir I seem to recollect your face I have never been in America ah I see so many faces of course that I sometimes fancy I know a man when I don't well I hope you will have a pleasant voyage sir thank you number 18 was not a popular passenger people seemed instinctively to shrink from him although it must be admitted that he made no advances all went well until a gibran test was about halfway over one forenoon the chief officer entered the captain's room with a pale face and shutting the door after him said I am very sorry to have to report sir that one of the passengers has fallen into the hold good heavens cried the captain is he hurt he is killed sir the captain stared aghast at his subordinate how did it happen I gave the strictest orders those places were on no account to be left unguarded although the company had held to mrs. Kealey that the captain was not to blame their talk with that gentleman was of an entirely different tone that is the strange part of it sir the hatch has not been opened this voyage sir and was securely bolted down nonsense nobody will believe such a story someone has been careless ask the purser to come here please when the purser saw the body he recollected and came as near fainting as a purser can they dropped Kealing overboard in the night and the whole affair was managed so quietly that nobody suspected anything and what is the most incredible thing in this story the New York papers did not have a word about it what the Liverpool office said about the matter nobody knows but it must have stirred up something like a Breeze in that strictly business locality it is likely they poo pood the whole affair for strange to say when the purser tried to cooperate the story with the dead man's ticket the document was nowhere to be found the gibran test started out on her next voyage from Liverpool with all her colours flying but some of her officers had a vague feeling of unrest within them which reminded them of the time they first sailed on the heaving seas the purser was seated in his room busy as Firsters always are at the beginning of a voyage when there was a rap at the door command shouted the important official and there entered unto him a stranger who said are you the purser yes sir what can I do for you I have room number 18 what cried the purser with a gasp almost jumping from his chair then he looked at the robust man before him and sank back with a sigh of relief it was not healing I have room number 18 continued the passenger and the arrangement I made with your people in Liverpool was that I was to have the to myself I do a great deal of shipping over your yes my dear sir said the purser after having looked rapidly over his list you have number 18 to yourself so I told the man who is unpacking his luggage there but he showed me his ticket and it was issued before mine I can't quite understand why your people should what kind of a looking man is he a thin unhealthy cadaverous man who doesn't look as if he would last till the voyage ends I don't want him for a roommate if I have to have one I think you are I will sir I will make it alright I suppose if it should happen that a mistake has been made and he has the prior claim to the room you would not mind taking number 24 it is a larger and better room that will suit me exactly so the purser locked his door and went down to number 18 well he said to its occupant well answered mr. Keeling looking up at him with his cold and fishy eyes you're here again are you I'm here again and I will be here again and again and again and again and again now what the then the purser hesitated a moment and thought perhaps he had better not swear with that I see clammy gaze fixed upon him what object have you in all this object the very simple one of making your company live up to its contract from Liverpool to New York my ticket reads I paid for being landed in the United States not for being dumped overboard in mid-ocean do you think you can take me over you have had two tries at it and have not succeeded yours is a big and powerful company too if you know we can't do it then why do you the purser hesitate it pester you with my presence suggested mr. Keeling because I want you to do justice 2,000 pounds is the price and I will raise it 100 pounds every trip this time the New York papers got hold of the incident but not of its peculiar features they spoke of the extraordinary carelessness of the officers in allowing practically the same accident to occur twice on the same boat when the gibran tests reached Liverpool all the officers from the captain down sent in their resignations most of the sailors did not take the trouble to resign but cut for it the managing director was annoyed at the newspaper comments but laughed at the rest of the story he was invited to come over and interview Kealing for his own satisfaction most of the officers promising to remain on the ship if he did so he took room 18 himself what happened I do not know for the purser refused to sail again on the gibran test and was given another ship but this much is certain when the managing director got back the company generously paid mrs. Keeling 2,100 pounds end of story seven story eight of in a steamer chair and other stories this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org recording by david wales in a steamer chair and other stories by Robert Barr story 8 the terrible experience of Plotkin's which life or death tis a gamblers chance yet unconcerned we spin and dance on the brittle thread of circumstance I understand that Plotkin's is in the habit of referring skeptical listeners to me and telling them that I will substantiate every word of his story now this is hardly fair of Plotkin's I can certainly cooperate part of what he says and I can bear witness to the condition in which I found him after his ordeal was over so I have thought at best in order to set myself right with the public to put down exactly what occurred if I were asked whether or not I believe Plotkin story myself I would have to answer that sometimes I believe it and sometimes I do not of course Plotkin's will be offended when he reached this but there are other things that I have to say about him which will perhaps enrage him still more still they are the truth for instance Plotkin's can hardly deny and yet probably he will deny that he was one of the most talented drinkers in America I venture to say that every time he set foot in Liverpool coming East or in New York going west he was just on the verge of delirium tremens because being necessarily idle during the voyage he did little else but drink and smoke I never knew a man who could take so much liquor and show such small results the fact was that in the morning Plotkin's was never at his best because he was nearer sober then than at any other part of the day but after dinner a more entertaining genial generous kind-hearted man than Hiram Plotkin's could not be found anywhere I want to speak of Plotkin story with the calm dispassionate manner of a judge rather than with the partisanship of a favorable witness and although my allusions to Plotkin's habits of intoxication may seem to him defamatory in character and unnecessary yet I mentioned them only to show that something terrible must have occurred in the bathroom to make him stop short the extraordinary thing is from that day to this Plotkin's has not touched a drop of intoxicating liquor which fact in itself strikes me as more wonderful than the story he tells Plotkin's was a frequent crosser on the atlantic steamers he was connected with commercial houses on both sides of the ocean selling in America for an English house and buying in England for an American establishment I presume it was his experiences in selling goods that led to his terrible habits of drinking I understood from him that out west if you are selling goods you have to do a great deal of treating and every time you treat another man to a glass of wine or a whiskey cocktail you have of course to drink with him but this has nothing to do with Plotkin story on an Atlantic liner when there is a large list of passengers especially of English passengers it is difficult to get a convenient hour in the morning at which to take a bath this being the case the purser usually takes down the names of applicants and assigns each a particular hour your hour maybe say 7 o'clock in the morning the next man comes on at half-past seven and the third man at 8:00 and so on the bedroom steward wraps at your door when the proper time arrives and informs you that the bath is ready you wrap a dressing gown or a cloak around you and go along the silent corridors to the bathroom coming back generally before your half hour is up like a giant refreshed Plotkin's bath hour was seven o'clock in the morning mine was half-past seven on the particular morning in question the steward did not call me and I thought he had forgotten so I passed along the dark corridor and tried the bathroom door I found it unbolted and as everything was quiet inside ìin turd I thought nobody was there so I shoved the bolt in the door and went over to see if the water had been turned on the light was a little dim even at that time of the morning and I must say I was horror-stricken to see lying in the bottom of the bathtub with his eyes fixed on the ceiling Plotkin's I am quite willing to admit that I was never so startled in my life I thought at first Plotkin's was dead notwithstanding his open eyes staring at the ceiling but he murmured in a sort of husky faraway whisper thank God and then closed his eyes what's the matter Plotkin's I said are you ill what's the matter with you shall I call for help there was a feeble negative motion of the head then he said in a whisper is the door bolted yes I answered after another moment's pause I said shall I ring and get you some whiskey or brandy again he shook his head help me to get up he said feebly he was very much shaken and I had some trouble in getting him on his feet and seating him on the one chair in the room you had better come to my stateroom I said it is nearer than yours what has happened to you he replied I will go in a moment wait a minute and I waited now he continued when he had apparently pulled himself together a bit just turn on the electric light will you I reached up to the peg of the electric light and turned it on a shudder passed over Plotkin's frame but he said nothing he seemed puzzled and once more I asked him to let me take him to my stateroom but he shook his head turn on the water I did so turn out the electric light I did that also now he added put your hand in the water and turn on the electric light I was convinced that goons had become insane but I recollected I was there alone with him shaky as he was in a room with a bolted door so I put my fingers in the water and attempted to turn on the electric light I got a shock that was very much greater than that which I received when I saw a Plotkin's lying at the bottom of the bathtub I gave a yell and a groan and staggered backwards then Plotkin's laughed a feeble laugh now he said I will go with you to your stateroom the laugh seemed to have braced up Plotkin's like a glass of liquor would have done and when he got to my stateroom he was able to tell me what had happened as a sort of preface to his remarks I would like to say a word or two about that bathtub it was similar to bathtubs on board other steamers a great and very deep receptacle of solid marble there were different nickel-plated taps for letting in hot or cold water or fresh water or salt water as was desired and the escape pipe instead of being at the end as it is in most bathtubs was in the center it was the custom of the bathroom steward to fill it about half full of water at whatever temperature you desired then placing a couple of towels on the rack he would go and call the man whose hour it was to bathe Plotkin said when I went in there everything appeared as usual except that the morning was very dark I stood in the bathtub the water coming nearly to my knees and reached up to turn on the electric light the moment I touched the brass key I received a shock that simply paralyzed me I think liquor has something to do with the awful effects the electricity had upon me because I had taken it too much the night before and was feeling very shaky indeed but the result was that I simply fell full length in the bathtub just as you found me I was unable to move anything except my fingers and toes I did not appear to be hurt in the least and my senses instead of being dulled by the shock seemed to be preternaturally sharp and I realized in a moment that if this inability to move remained with me for five minutes I was a dead man dead not from the shock but by drowning I gazed up through that clear green water and I could see the ripples on the surface slowly subsiding after my plunge into the tub it reminded me of looking into an aquarium you know how you see up through the water to the surface with the bubbles rising to the top I knew that nobody would come in for at least half an hour and even then I couldn't remember whether I had bolted the door or not sometimes I bolted and sometimes I don't I didn't this morning as it happens all the time I felt that strength was slowly returning to me for I continually worked my fingers and toes and now feeling seemed to be coming up to my wrists and arms then I remembered that the vent was in the middle of the bathtub so wriggling my fingers round I got hold of the ring and pulled up the plug in the dense silence that was around me I could not tell whether the water was running out or not but gazing up towards the ceiling I thought I saw the surface gradually sinking down and down and down of course it couldn't have been more than a few seconds but it seemed to be years and years and years I knew that if once I let my breath go I would be drowned merely by the spasmodic action of my lungs trying to recover air I felt as if I should burst it was a match against time with life or death as the stake at first as I said my senses were abnormally sharp but by and by I began to notice that they were wavering I thought the glassy surface of the water which I could see above me was in reality a great sheet of crystal that somebody was pressing down upon me and I began to think that the moment it reached my face I would smother I tried to struggle but was held with a grip of Steel finally this slab of crystal came down to my nose and seemed to split apart I could hold on no longer and with a mighty expiration blew the water up towards the ceiling and drew in a frightful smothering breath of salt water that I blew in turn upwards and the next breath I took in had some air with the water I felt the water tickling the corners of my mouth and receding slower and slower down my face and neck then I think I must have become insensible until just before you entered the room of course there is something wrong with the electric fittings and there is a leak of electricity but I think liquor is at the bottom of all this I don't believe it would have affected me like this if I had not been soaked in whiskey if I were you I said I would leave whisky alone I intend to he answered solemnly and Bath's – end of story 8 story 9 of in a steamer chair and other stories this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org recording by David Wales in a steamer chair and other stories by Robert Barr story 9 a case of fever Oh underneath the blood-red Sun no bloodier deed was ever done nor fiercer retribution sought the hand that first read ruin wrought this is the doctor story the doctors onboard the Atlantic liners are usually young men they are good-looking and entertaining as well and generally they can play the violin or some other instrument that is of great use at the inevitable concert which takes place about the middle of the Atlantic they are urbane polite young men and they chat pleasantly and nicely to the ladies on board I believe that the doctor on the transatlantic steamer has to be there on account of the steerage passengers of course the doctor goes to the steerage but I imagine as a general thing he does not spend any more time there than the rules of the service compel him to the ladies at least would be unanimous and saying that the doctor is one of the most charming officials on board the ship this doctor who tells the story I am about to relate was not like the usual Atlantic physician he was older than the average and to judge by his somewhat Haggard rugged face had seen hard times and rough usage in different parts of the world why he came to settle down on an Atlantic steamer a berth which is a starting point rather than a terminus I have no means of knowing he never told us but there he was and one night as he smoked his pipe with us in the smoking room we closed the door and compelled him to tell us a story as a preliminary he took out of his inside pocket a book from which he selected a slip of creased paper which had been there so long that it was rather the worse for wear and had to be tenderly handled as the beginning said the doctor I will read you what this slip of paper says it is an extract from one of the United States government reports in the Indian Department and it relates to a case of fever which caused the death of a celebrated Indian chief wolf tusk I am Not sure that I am doing quite right in telling this story there may be some risk for myself in relating it and I don't know exactly what the United States government might have in store for me if the truth came to be known in fact I am not able to say whether I acted rightly or wrongly in the matter I have to tell you about you shall be the best judges of that there is no question but Wolf's tusks was an old monster and there is no question either that the men who dealt with him had been grievously but then there is no use in my giving you too many preliminaries each one will say for himself whether he would have acted as I did or not I will make my excuses at the end of the story then he read the slip of paper I have not a copy of it and have to quote from memory it was the report of the physician who saw a wolf tusks die and it went on to say that about nine o'clock in the morning a heavy and unusual fever set in on that chief he had been wounded in the Battle of the day before when he was captured and the fever attacked all parts of his body although the doctor had made every effort in his power to relieve the Indian nothing could stop the ravages of the fever at four o'clock in the afternoon having been in great pain and during the latter part delirious he died and was buried near the spot where he had taken ill this was signed by the doctor what I have read you said the physician folding up the paper again and placing it in his pocket book is strictly and accurately true otherwise of course I would not have so reported to the government Wolf's tusks was the chief of a band of irreconcilable –hz who were now in one part of the West and now in another giving a great deal of trouble to the authorities Wolf's tusks and his band had splendid horses and they never attacked a force that outnumbered their own in fact they never attacked anything where the chances were not too to one in their favor but that of course is Indian warfare and in this wolf tusk was no different from his fellows on one occasion Wolf's tusks and his band swooped down on a settlement where they knew that all the defenders were away and no one but women and children were left to meet them here one of the most atrocious massacres of the West took place every woman and child in the settlement was killed under circumstances of inconceivable brutality the buildings such as they were were burnt down and when the men returned they found nothing but heaps of smoldering ruin Wolf's task and his band knowing there would be trouble about this had made for the broken ground where they could so well defend themselves the alarm however was speedily given and a company of cavalry from the nearest fort started in hot pursuit I was the physician who accompanied the troops the men whose families had been massacred and who were all mounted on swift horses begged permission to go with the soldiers and that permission was granted because it was known that their leader would take them after wolf task on his own account and it was thought better to have everyone engaged in the pursuit under the direct command of the chief officer he divided his troop into three parts one following slowly after wolf tusks and the other two taking roundabout ways to head off the savages from the broken ground and foothills from which no number of United States troops could have dislodged them these flanking parties were partly successful they did not succeed in heading off the Indians entirely but one succeeded in changing their course and throwing the Indians unexpectedly into the way of the other flanking party when a sharp battle took place and during its progress we in the rear came up when the Indians saw our reinforcing party come towards them each man broke away for himself and made for the wilderness wolf tusks who had been wounded and had his horse shot under him did not succeed in escaping the two flanking parties now having reunited with the main body it was decided to keep the Indians on the run for a day or two at least and so a question arose as to the disposal of the wounded chief he could not be taken with the fighting party there were no soldiers to spare to take him back and so the leader of the settlers said that as they had had enough of war they would convey him to the fort why the commander allowed this to be done I do not know he must have realized the feelings of the settlers toward the man who massacred their wives and children however the request of the settlers was exceeded – and I was ordered back also as I had been slightly wounded you can see the mark here on my cheek nothing serious but the commander thought I had better get back into the fort as he was certain there would be no more need of my services the Indians were on the run and would make no further stand it was about three days march from where the engagement had taken place to the fort Wolf's tusk was given one of the captured Indian horses I attended to the wound in his leg and he was strapped on the horse so that there could be no possibility of his escaping we camped the first night in a little belt of timber that bordered a small stream now nearly dry in the morning I was somewhat rudely awakened and found myself tied hand and foot with two or three of the settlers standing over me they helped me to my feet than half carried and half led to me to a tree where they tied me securely to the trunk what are you going to do what is the meaning of this I said to them in astonishment nothing was the answer of the leader that is nothing if you will sign a certain medical report which is to go to the government you will see from where you or everything that is going to happen and we expect you to report truthfully but we will take the liberty of writing the report for you then I noticed that Wolf's tusk was tied to a tree in a manner similar to myself and around him had been collected a quantity of firewood this firewood was not piled up to his feet but formed a circle at some distance from him so that the Indian would be slowly roasted there is no use in my describing what took place when I tell you that they lit the fire at nine o'clock and that it was not until 4:00 in the afternoon that wolf tusks died you will understand the peculiar horror of it now said the leader to me when everything was over here is the report I have written out and he read to me the report which I have read to you this dead villain has murdered our wives and our children if I could have made his torture last for two weeks I would have done so you have made every effort to save him by trying to break loose and you have not succeeded we are not going to harm you even though you refuse to sign this report you cannot bring him to life again thank God and all you can do is to put more trouble on the heads of men who have already through Red Devils like this had more trouble than they can well stand and keep saying will you sign the report I said I would and I did end of story nine story ten of in a steamer chair and other stories this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org recording by david wales in a steamer chair and other stories by Robert Barr story ten how the captain got his steamer out on his own particular well-wrought role that he straddled for ages learnt its lay and its gauges his style may seem queer but permit him to know the likeliest sprightly as' manner two whole there is nothing more certain than that someday we may have to record a terrible disaster directly traceable to ocean racing the vivid account which one of our reporters gives in another column of how the captain of the arrow wick went blundering across the bar yesterday in one of the densest fogs of the season is very interesting reading of course the account does not pretend to be anything more than imaginary for until the arrow wick reaches Queenstown if she ever does under her present captain no one can tell how much of luck was mixed with the recklessness which took this steamer out into the Atlantic in the midst of the thickest fog we have had this year all that can be known at present is that when the fog lifted the splendid steamer dart onea was lying at anchor in the bay having missed the tide while the arrow wick was nowhere to be seen if the fog was too thick for the dart onea to cross the bar how then did the captain of the arrow wick get his boat out the captain of the arrow wick should be taught to remember that there are other things to be thought of beside the defeating of a rival steamer he should be made to understand that he has under his charge a steamer worth a million and a half dollars and a cargo probably nearly as valuable still he might have lost his ship in cargo and we would have had no word to say that concerns the steamship company and the owners of the cargo but he had also in his care nearly a thousand human lives and these he should not be allowed to juggle with in order to beat all the rival steamers in the the above editorial is taken from the columns of the New York Daily mentor the substance of it had been cabled across to London and it made Pleasant reading for the captain of the arrow wick at Queenstown the captain didn't say anything about it he was not a talkative man probably he explained to his chief if the captain of an ocean liner can possibly have a chief how he got his vessel out of New York Harbor in a fog but if he did the explanation was never made public and so here's an account of it published for the first time and it may give a pointer to the captain of the rival liner dart onea I may say however that the purser was not as silent as the captain he was very indignant at what he called the outrage of the New York paper and said a great many unjustifiable things about newspaper men he knew I was a newspaper man myself and probably that is the reason he launched his maledictions against the fraternity at my head just listen to that wretched penny aligner he said rapping savagely on the paper with the back of his hand i intimated mildly that they paid more than a penny a line for newspaper work in New York but he said that wasn't the point in fact the purser was too angry to argue calmly he was angry the whole way from Queenstown to Liverpool here he said is some young fella who probably never saw the inside of a ship in his life and yet he thinks he can tell the captain of a great ocean liner what should be done and what shouldn't just think of the cheek of it I don't see any chicken and I said as soothingly as possible you don't mean to pretend to argue at this time of day that a newspaperman does not know how to conduct every other business as well as his own but the purser did make that very contention although of course he must be excused for as I said he was not in a temper newspaper men he continued act as if they did know everything they pretend in their papers that every man thinks he knows how to run a newspaper or a hotel but look at their own case see the advice they give to Statesman see how they would govern Germany or England or any other country under the Sun does a big bank get into trouble the newspaperman at once informs the financiers how they should have conducted to their business is there a great railway smash up the newspaper man shows exactly how it could have been avoided if he had had the management of the railway is there a big strike the newspaper man steps in he tells both sides what they should do if every man thinks he can run a hotel or a newspaper and I am sure most men could run a newspaper as well as the newspapers are conducted now the conceit of the ordinary man is nothing to the conceit of the newspaper man he not only thinks he can run a newspaper and a hotel but every other business Under the Sun and how do you know he can't I asked but the purser would not listen to reason he contended that a captain who had crossed the ocean hundreds of times and for years and years had worked his way up had just as big a sense of responsibility for his passengers and his ship and his cargo as any newspaper man in New York could have and this palpably absurd contention he maintained all the way to Liverpool when a great ocean racer is making ready to put out to sea there can hardly be imagined a more bustling scene than that which presents itself on the deck and on the wharf there is the rush of passengers the banging about of luggage the hurrying to and fro on the decks the roar of escaping steam the working of immense steam grains hoisting and lowering great bales of merchandise and luggage from the wharf to the hold and here and there in quiet corners away from the rush our tearful people bidding goodbye to one another the Arawak and the dart onea left on the same day and within the same hour from wharfs that were almost adjoining each other we on board the errol wig could see the same bustle and stir onboard the dart onea that we ourselves were in the midst of the dart onea was timed to leave about half an hour ahead of us and we heard the frantic ringing of her last bell warning everybody to get on shore who were not going to cross the ocean then the great steamer backed slowly out from her Wharf of course all of us who were going on the arrow wick were warm champions of that ship as the crack ocean racer but as the dart onea moved backwards with slow stately majesty all her colours flying and her decks black with passengers crowding to the rail and gazing towards us we could not deny that she was a splendid vessel and even the ranks of Tuscany could scarce forbear a cheer once out in the stream her twin screws enabled her to turn around almost without the help of tugs and just as our last bell was ringing she moved off down the bay then we backed slowly out in the same fashion and although we had not the advantage of seeing ourselves we saw a great sight on the wharf which was covered with people ringing with Cheers and white with the flutter of handkerchiefs as we headed downstream the day began to get rather thick it had been gloomy all morning and by the time we reached the Statue of Liberty it was so foggy that one could hardly see three boats links ahead or behind all eyes were strained to catch a glimpse of the dart onea but nothing of her was visible shortly after the fog came down in earnest and blotted out everything there was a strong wind blowing and the vapor which was cold and piercing swept the deck with dripping moisture then we came to a standstill the ship's bell was rung continually forward and somebody was banging on the gong towards the stern everybody knew that if this sort of thing lasted long we would not get over the bar that tied and consequently everybody felt annoyed for this delay would lengthen this trip and people as a general thing do not take passage on an ocean racer with the idea of getting in a day late suddenly the fog lifted clear from shore to shore then we saw something that was not calculated to put our minds at ease a big three mastered vessel with full sail dashed past us only a very few yards behind the stern of the mammoth steamer look at that blundering idiot said the purser to me rushing full-speed overcrowded New York Bay in a fog as thickest pea-soup a captain who would do a thing like that ought to be hanged before the fog settled down again we saw the dart onea with her anchor Jane out a few hundred yards to our left and farther on one of the big German steamers also a tanker in the short time that the fog was lifted our own vessel made some progress towards the bar then the thickness came down again a nautical passenger who had crossed many times came aft to where I was standing and said do you notice what the captain is trying to do well I answered I don't see how anybody can do anything in weather like this there is a strong wind blowing continued the nautical passenger and the fog is liable to lift for a few minutes at a time if it lifts often enough our captain is going to get us over the bar it will be rather a sharp bit of work if he succeeds you notice that the dart Oni has thrown out her anchor she is evidently going to wait where she is until the fog clears away entirely so with that we too went forward to see what was being done the captain stood on the bridge and beside him the pilot but the fog was now so thick we could hardly see them although we stood close by on the piece of deck in front of the wheelhouse the almost incessant clanging of the Bell was kept up and in the pauses we heard answering bells from different points in the thick fog then for a second time and with equal suddenness the fog lifted ahead of us behind we could not see either the dart onea or the German steamer our own boat however went full speed ahead and kept up the pace till the fog shut down again the captain now in pacing the bridge had his chronometer in his hand and those of us who were at the front frequently looked at our watches for of course the nautical passenger knew just how late it was possible for us to cross the bar I am afraid said the passenger he is not going to succeed but as he said this the fog lifted for the third time and again the mammoth steamer forged ahead if this clearance will only last for 10 minutes said the nautical passenger we are all right but the fog as if it had heard him closed down on us again damper and thicker than ever we are just at the bar said the nautical passenger and if this doesn't clear up pretty soon the vessel will have to go back the captain kept his eyes fixed on the chronometer in his hand the pilot tried to peer ahead but everything was a thick white blank ten minutes more and it's too late said the nautical passenger there was a sudden rift in the fog that gave a moment's hope but it closed down again a minute afterwards with a suddenness that was strange the whole blue ocean lay before us then full steam ahead the fog still was thick behind us in New York Bay we saw it far ahead coming in from the ocean all at once the captain closed his chronometer with a snap we were over the bar and into the Atlantic and that is how the captain got the errol wig out of New York Bay end of story 10 story 11 of in a steamer chair and other stories this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org recording by David Wales in a steamer chair and other stories by Robert Barr story 11:00 my stowaway he can play your jokes on nature and play em slick she'll grin a grin but land sakes friend look out for the kick a one night about 11 o'clock I stood at the stern of that fine Atlantic steamship the city of Venice which was plowing its way through the darkness towards America I leaned on the rounded bulwark and enjoyed a smoke as I gazed on the luminous trail the wheel was making in the quiet sea someone touched me on the shoulder saying beg pardon sir and on straightening up I saw in the dim light a man whom at first I took to be one of the steerage passengers I thought he wanted to get past me for the room was rather restricted in the passage between the aft wheelhouse and the stern and I moved aside the man looked hurriedly to one side and then the other and approaching said in a whisper I'm starving sir why don't you go and get something to eat then don't they give you plenty forward I suppose they do sir but I'm a stowaway I on at Liverpool what little I took with me is gone and for two days I've had nothing come with me I'll take you to the steward he'll fix you alright oh no no no he cried trembling with excitement if you speak to any of the officers of crew I'm lost I assure you sir I'm an honest man I am indeed sir it's the old story nothing but starvation at home so my only chance seemed to be to get this way to America if I'm caught I shall get dreadful usage and be taken back and put in jail oh you're mistaken the officers are all courteous gentlemen yes – you cabin passengers they are but – a stowaway that's a different matter if you can't help me sir please don't inform on me how can I help you but by speaking to the captain or purser get me a morsel to eat where were you hid right here sir in this place and he put his hand on the square deck edifice beside us this seemed to be a spare wheelhouse used if anything went wrong with the one in front it had a door on each side and there were windows all around it at present it was piled full of cane folding steamer chairs and other odds and ends I crawl in between the chairs and the wall and get under that piece of tarpaulin well you're sure of being caught for the first fine day all these chairs will be taken out and the deck steward can't miss you the man sighed as I said this and admitted the chances were much against him then starting up he cried poverty is the great crime if I had stolen someone else's money I would have been able to take cabin passage instead of if you weren't caught well if I work hard what then I would be well fed and taken care of oh they take care of you the waste food in this great ship would feed a hundred hungry wretches like me does my presence keep the steamer back a moment of time no well who is harmed by my trying to better myself in a new world know what I am begging for a crust from the lavish plenty all because I am struggling to be honest it is only when I become a thief that I am out of danger of starvation caught or free there there now don't speak so loud or you'll have someone here you hang around and I'll bring you some province to have poached eggs on toast roast turkey or the wretch sank down at my feet as I said this and recognizing the cruelty of it I hurried down into the saloon and hunted up a steward who had not yet turned in steward I said can you get me a few sandwiches or anything to eat at this late hour yes sir certainly sir beaver answer both and a cup of coffee please well sir I'm afraid there's no coffee sir but I can make you a pot of tea in a moment sir all right and to bring them to my room please yes sir in a very short time there was that faint steward wrap at the stateroom door and a most appetizing tray load was respectfully placed at my service when the waiter had gone I hurried up the companionway with much the air of a man who was stealing fowls and I found my stowaway just in the position I had left him now pitch in I said I'll stand guard forward here and if you hear me cough strike for cover I'll explain the tray matter if it's found he simply said thank you sir and I went forward when I came back the tray had been swept clean and the teapot emptied my stowaway was making for his den when I said how about tomorrow he answered this will do me for a couple of days nonsense I'll have a square meal for you here in the corner of this wheelhouse so that you can get at it without trouble I'll leave it about this time tomorrow night you won't tell anyone anyone at all sir no at least I'll think over the matter and if I see a way out I'll let you know god bless you sir I turned the incident over in my mind a good deal that night and I almost made a resolution to take couples into my confidence Roger couples a lawyer of San Francisco sat next me at table and with the freedom of wild Westerners we were already well acquainted although only a few days out then I thought of putting a supposition case to the captain he was a thorough gentleman and if he spoke generously about the suppositions case I would spring the real one on him the stowaway had impressed me by his language as being a man worth doing something for next day I was glad to see that it was rainy there would be no demand for ship chairs that day I felt that real sunshiny weather would certainly unearth or uncheck my stowaway I met couples on deck and we walked a few rounds together at last couples who had been telling me some stories of Court trials in San Francisco said let's sit down and wrap up this decks too wet to walk on all the seats are damp I said I'll get out my steamer chairs Stewart he cried to the deck steward who was shoving a mop back and forth get me my chair there's a tag on it berth 96 no no I cried hastily let's go into the cabin it's raining only a drizzle won't hurt you at sea you know by this time the deck steward was hauling down chairs trying to find number 96 which I felt sure would be near the bottom I not control my anxiety as the steward got nearer and nearer the tarpaulin at last I cried a Stewart never mind that chair take the first Jew that come handy couples looked astonished and as we sat down I said I have something to tell you and I trust you will say nothing about it to anyone else there's a man under those chairs the look that came into the lawyers face showed that he thought me demented but when I told him the whole story the judicial expression came on and he said shaking his head that's bad business I know it yes but it's worse than you have any idea of I presume that you don't know what section 47 38 of the revised statute says no I don't well it is to the effect that any person or persons who willfully or with malice aforethought or otherwise shall aid abet sucker or cherish either directly or indirectly or by implication any person who feloniously or secretly conceals himself on any vessel barge brig schooner bark clipper steamship or other craft touching at or coming within the jurisdiction of these United States the said persons purpose being the de frauding of the revenue of or the escaping any or all of the just legal dues exacted by such vessel barge etc the person so aiding or abetting shall in the eye of the law be considered as accomplice before during and after the illegal act and shall in such case be subject to the penalties accruing thereunto to wit a fine of not more than five thousand dollars or imprisonment of not more than two years or both at the option of the judge before whom the party so accused is convicted great is that really so well it isn't word-for-word but that is the purport of course if I had my books here I why you've doubtless heard of the case of the Pacific Steamship Company versus Cumberland I was retained on behalf of the company now all Cumberland did was to allow the man who was sent up for two years to carry his valise on board but we proved the intent like a fool he boasted of it but the steamer brought back the man and Cumberland got off with $4,000 and costs never got out of that scrape less than ten thousand dollars then again the steamship Peruvian versus McNish that is even more of the see here couples come with me tonight and see the man if you heard him talk you would see the inhumanity Batoche I'm not fool enough to mix up in such a matter and see here you'll have to work it pretty slick if you get yourself out the man will be caught as sure as fate then knowingly or through fright he'll incriminate you what would you do if you were in my place My dear sir don't put it that way it's a reflection on both my judgment and my legal knowledge I couldn't be in such a scrape but as a lawyer minus the fee I'll tell you what you should do you should give the man up before witnesses before witnesses I'll be one of them myself get as many of the cabin passengers as you like out here today and let the officers search if he charges you with what the law terms support deny it and call attention to the fact that you have given information by the way I would give written information and keep a copy I gave the man my word not to inform on him and so I can't do it today but I'll tell him of it tonight and have him commit suicide or give himself up first and incriminate you nonsense just release yourself from your promise that's all he'll trust you yes poor wretch I'm afraid he will about 10 o'clock that night I resolved to make another appeal to Roger couples to at least stand off and hear the man talk couples stateroom number 96 was in the forward part of the steamer down a long passage and off a short side passage mine was after the cabin the door of 96 was partly open and inside an astonishing sight met my gaze there stood my stowaway he was evidently admiring himself in the glass and with a brush was touching up his face with dark paint here and there when he put on a woebegone look he was the stowaway when he chuckled to himself he was Roger couples Esquire the moment the thing dawned on me I quietly withdrew and went up the forward companion way soon couples came cautiously up and seeing the way clears studied along in the darkness and hid in the aft wheelhouse I saw the whole thing now it was a scheme to get me to make a fool of myself some fine day before the rest of the passengers and have a standing joke on me I walked forward the first officer was on duty I have reason to believe I said that there is a stowaway in the aft wheelhouse quicker than it takes me to tell it a detachment of sailors were sent aft under the guidance of the third mate I went through the saloon and smoking-room and said to the gentlemen who were playing cards and reading there's a row upstairs of some kind we were all on deck before the crew had surrounded the wheelhouse there was a rattle of steamer folded chairs pounced by the third mate and out came the unfortunate couples dragged by the caller hold on let go this is a mistake you can't both hold on and let go said stalker of Indiana come out of this cried the mate jerking him forward with a wrench the stowaway tore himself free and made a dash for the companionway a couple of sailors instantly tripped him up let go of me I'm a cabin passenger cried couples bless me I cried in astonishment this isn't you couples why I acted on your own advice and that of Revised Statutes number of whatever they were well act on my advice again cried the infuriated couples and go to the hold however he was better in humor the next day and stood treat all around we found subsequently that couples was a New York actor and at the entertainment given for the benefit of the sailors orphans a few nights after he recited a piece in costume that just melted the ladies it was voted a wonderfully touching performance and he called it the stowaway and of story eleven story twelve of in a steamer chair and other stories this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org recording by david wales in a steamer chair and other stories by Robert Barr story 12 the Purser's story Oh mother nature kind and touch and tone act as we may thy rest to thine own I don't know that I should tell this story when the purser related it to me I know it was his intention to write it out for a magazine in fact he had written it and I understand that a noted American magazine had offered to publish it but I have watched that magazine for over three years and I have not yet seen the Purser's story in it I am sorry that I did not write the story at the time then perhaps I should have caught the exquisite peculiarities of the Purser's way of telling it I find myself gradually forgetting the story and I write it now in case I shall forget it and then be harassed all through afterlife by the remembrance of the forgetting there is no position more painful and tormenting than the consciousness of having had something worth the telling which in spite of all mental effort just eludes the memory it hovers nebulously beyond the outstretched finger ends of recollection and like the fish that gets off the hook becomes more and more important as the years fade perhaps when you read this story you will say there is nothing in it after all well that will be my faults then and I can only regret I did not write down the story when it was told to me for as I sat in the Purser's room that day it seemed to me I had never heard anything more graphic the Purser's room was well forward on the Atlantic steamship from one of the little red curtain'd windows you could look down to where the steerage passengers were gathered on the deck when the bow of the great vessel plunged down into the big Atlantic waves the smother of foam that shot upwards would be borne along with the wind and spatter like rain against the Purser's window something about this intermittent patter on the pane reminded the purser of the story and so he told it to me there were a great many steerage passengers coming on at Queenstown he said and there was quite a hurry getting them aboard two officers stood at each side of the gangway and took the tickets as the people crowded forward they generally had their tickets in their hands and there was usually no trouble I stood there and watched them coming aboard suddenly there was a fuss and a jam what is it I asked the officer two girls sir say they have lost their tickets I took the girls aside and the stream of humanity poured in one was about 14 and the other perhaps eight years old the little one had a firm grip of the elders hand and she was crying the larger girl looked me straight in the eye as I questioned her where's your tickets we lost them Sir er where I don't know sir do you think you have them about you or in your luggage we've no luggage sir is this your sister she is sir are your parents aboard they are not sir are you all alone we are sir you can't go without your tickets the younger one began to cry the more and the elder answered maybe we can find them Sir er they were bright looking intelligent children and the larger girl gave me such quick straightforward answers and it seemed so impossible that children so young should attempt to cross the ocean without tickets that I concluded to let them come and resolved to get at the truth on the way over next day I told the deck steward to bring the children to my room they came in just as I saw them the day before the elder with a tight grip on the hand of the younger whose eyes I never caught sight of she kept them resolutely on the floor while the other looked straight at me with her big blue eyes well have you found her tickets no sir what is your name Bridget sir Bridget what Bridget Mulligan sir where did you live and kill to me sir where did you get your tickets from mr. O'Grady sir now I know killed her me as well as I know this and I knew Oh Grady was our agent there I would have given a good deal at that moment for a few words with him but I knew of no mulligans and killed her me although of course there might be I was born myself only a few miles from the place now things I to myself if these two children can baffle a purser who has been 20 years on the Atlantic when they say they came from his own town almost by the powers they deserve their passage over the ocean I had often seen grown people tried to cheat their way across and I may say none of them succeeded on my ships where's your father a mother both dead sir er who was your father he was a pinch on earth sir where did he draw his pension I don't know sir where did you get the money to buy your tickets the neighbor sir and mr. O'Grady helped sir er what neighbors named them she unhesitatingly named a number many of whom I knew and as that had frequently been done before I saw no reason to doubt the girls word now I said I want to speak with your sister you may go the little one held on to her sister's hand and cried bitterly when the other was gone I drew the child towards me and questioned her but could not get a word in reply for the next day or two I was bothered somewhat by a big Irishman named O'Donnell who was a firebrand among the steerage passengers he would harangue them at all hours on the wrongs of Ireland and the desirability of blowing England out of the water and as we had many English and German passengers as well as many peaceable Irishmen who complained of the consonant ructions O'Donnell was kicking up I was forced to ask him to keep quiet he became very abusive one day and tried to strike me I had him locked up until he came to a sense while I was in my room after this little excitement mrs. O'Donnell came to me and pleaded for her rascally husband I had noticed her before she was a poor weak brokenhearted woman whom her husband made a slave of and I have no doubt beat her when he had the chance she was evidently mortally afraid of him and a look from him seemed enough to take the life out of her he was a worse tyrant in his own small way than England had ever been well mrs. O'Donnell I said I'll let your husband go but he will have to keep a civil tongue in his head and keep his hands off people I've seen men for less put in irons during a voyage and handed over to the authorities when they landed and now I want you to do me a favor there are two children on board without tickets I don't believe they ever had tickets and I want to find out you're a kind-hearted woman mrs. O'Donnell and perhaps the children will answer you I had the two called in and they came in hand in hand as usual the elder looked at me as if she couldn't take her eyes off my face look at this woman I said to her she wants to speak to you ask her some questions about herself I whispered to mrs. O'Donnell a coup Sheila said that mrs. O'Donnell with infinite tenderness taking the disengaged hand of the elder girl tell me Darland where is her from I suppose I had spoken rather harshly to them before although I had not intended to do so but however that may be at the first words of kindness from the lips of their country woman both girls broke down and cried as if their hearts would break the poor woman drew them towards her and stroking the fair hair of the elder girl tried to comfort her while the tears streamed down her own cheeks hush hush hush darlings sure the gentleman not going to be hard with two poor children gone to a strange country of course it would never do to admit that the company could carry immigrants free through sympathy and I must have appeared rather hard-hearted when I told mrs. O'Donnell that I would have to take them back with me to Cork I sent the children away and then arranged with mrs. O'Donnell to see after them during the voyage to which she agreed if her husband would let her I could get nothing from the girl except that she had lost her ticket and when we sighted New York I took them through the steerage and asked the passengers if anyone would assume charge of the children and pay their passage no one would do so then I said these children will go back with me to Cork and if I find they never bought tickets they will have to go to jail there were groans and hisses at that and I gave the children in charge of the cabin stewardess with orders to see that they did not leave the ship I was at last convinced that they had no friends among the steerage passengers I intended to take them ashore myself before we sailed and I knew of good friends in New York who would see to the little Waifs although I did not propose that any of the emigrants should know that an old bachelor purser was fool enough to pay for the passage of a couple of unknown Irish children we landed our cabin passengers and the tender came alongside to take the steerage passengers to Castle Garden I got the stewardess to bring out the children and the two stood and watched everyone get aboard the tender just as the tender moved away there was a wild shriek among the crowded passengers and mrs. O'Donnell flung her arms above her head and cried in the most heart-rending tone I ever heard oh my babies my babies get quiet get de vocht hissed O'Donnell grasping her by the arm the terrible 10-day strain had been broken at last and the poor woman sank in a heap at his bring back that boat I shouted and the tinder came back come aboard here O'Donnell I'll not he yelled shaking his fist at me bring that man aboard they soon brought him back and I gave his wife over to the care of the stewardess she speedily rallied and hugged and kissed her children as if she would never part with them so adano these are your children yes they are and I'll have you know I'm in a fray contrib a bed and add area they lay a finger on me don't dare too much I said or I'll show you what can be done in a free country now if I let the children go will you send their passage money to the company when you get it I will he answered although I knew he lied well I said for mrs. O'Donnell's sake I'll let them go and I must congratulate any free country that gets a citizen like you of course I never heard from Adana again end of story twelve story thirteen of in a steamer chair and other stories this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org recording by david wales in a steamer chair and other stories by Robert Barr story thirteen miss McMillan come hop come skip fare children all old father time is in the hall he'll take you on his knee and Stroke your golden hair to silver bright your rosy cheeks to wrinkles white in the saloon of the fine transatlantic liner the clematis two long tables extend from the piano at one end to the bookcase at the other end of the Apple dining room on each side of this main saloon are four small tables and tended to accommodate six or seven persons at one of these tables sat a pleasant party of four ladies and three gentlemen three ladies were from Detroit and one from Kent in England at the head of the table sat mr. Blair the Frost's of many American winters in his hair and beard while the lines of care in his ragged cheerful Scottish face told of a life of business crowned with generous success mr. waters a younger merchant had all the alert vivacity of the pushing American he had the distinguished honor of sitting opposite me at the small table Blair and waters occupied the same room number 27 the one had crossed the Atlantic more than 50 times the other nearly 30 those figures show the relative proportion of their business experience the presence of mr. Blair gave to our table a sort of patriarchal dignity that we all appreciated if a louder burst of laughter than usual came from where we sat and the other passengers looked inquiringly our way the sedate and self-possessed face of mr. Blair kept us in countenance and we who had given way to undue levity felt ourselves enshrouded by an atmosphere of genial seriousness this prevented our table from getting the reputation of being funny or frivolous some remark that Blair made brought forth the following extraordinary statement from waters who told it with the air of a man exposing the pretensions of a whited Sepulcher now before this voyage goes any further he began I have a serious duty to perform which I can shirk no longer unpleasant though it be mr. Blair and myself occupy the same stateroom into that stateroom has been sent a most lovely basket of flowers it is not an ordinary basket of flowers I assure you ladies there is a beautiful floral arch over a bed of color and I believe there is some tender sentiment connected with the display bon voyage Alvie the same or somesuch motto marked out in red buds now those flowers are not for me I think therefore that mr. Blair owes it to this company which has so unanimously placed him at the head of the table to explain how it comes that an elderly gentleman gets such a handsome floral tribute sent him from some unknown person in New York we all looked at mr. Blair who gazed with imperturbable 'ti at waters if you had crossed with waters as often as I have you would know that he is subject to attacks like that he means well but occasionally he gives way in the deplorable manner you have just witnessed now all there is of it consists in this a basket of flowers has been sent no doubt by mistake to our stateroom there is nothing but a card on it which says room 27 steward he cried would you go to room 27 bring that basket of flowers and set it on this table we may as well all have the benefit of them the steward soon returned with a large and lovely basket of flowers which he set on the table shoving the castor and other things aside to make room for it we all admired it very much and the handsome young lady on my left asked mr. Blair's permission to take one of the roses for her own now mind you said Blair I cannot grant a flower from the basket for you see it is as much the property of waters as of myself for all of his virtuous indignation it was sent to the room and he is one of the occupants the flowers have evidently been misdirected the lady referred to took it upon herself to purloin the flower she wanted as she did so a card came in view with the words written in a masculine hand – miss Macmillan with the loving regards of Edwin J Blanc miss Macmillan cried the lady I wonder if she is on board I give anything to know we'll have a glance at the passenger list said waters down among the M's on the long list of cabin passengers appeared the name miss Macmillan now said I it seems to me that the duty devolves on both Blair and waters to spare no pains and delicately returning those flowers to their proper owner I think that both have been very remiss and not doing so long ago they should apologize publicly to the young lady for having deprived her of the offering for a day and a half and then I think they owe an apology to this table for the mere pretence that any sane person in New York or elsewhere would go to the trouble of sending either of them a single flower there will be no apology from me said waters if I do not receive the thanks of Miss Macmillan it will be because good deeds are rarely recognized in this world I think it must be evident even to the limited intelligence of my journalistic friend across the table that Mr Blair intended to keep those flowers in his stateroom and of course I make no direct charges the COS sealent of that card certainly looks bad it may have been concealed by the sender of the flowers but to me it looks bad of course said Blair dryly to you it looks bad to the pure etc now said to the sentimental lady on my left while you gentlemen are wasting time in useless talk the lady is without her roses there is one thing that you all seem to miss it is not the mere value of the bouquet there is a subtle perfume about an offering like this more delicate than that which nature gave the flowers here broken waters I told you said Blair aside the kind of fellow waters is he thinks nothing of interrupting a lady order both of you I cried rapping on the table the lady from England has the floor what I was going to say when waters interrupted you when mr. waters interrupted me I was going to say that there seems to me a romantic tinge to this incident that you old married men cannot be expected to appreciate I looked with surprise at waters while he sank back in his seat with the resigned air of a man in the hands of his enemies we had both been carefully concealing the fact that we were married men and the blunt announcement of the lady was a painful shock waters gave a side nod at Blair as much as to say he's given it away I looked reproachfully at my old friend at the head of the table but he seemed to be absorbed in what our sentimental lady was saying it is this she continued here is a young lady her lover sends her a basket there may be some hidden meaning that she alone will understand in the very flowers chosen or in the arrangement of them the flowers let us suppose never reached their destination the message is unspoken or rather spoken but unheard the young lady grieves at the apparent neglect and then in her pride resents it she does not write and he knows not why the mistake may be discovered too late and all because a basket of flowers has been miss sent now Blair said waters if anything can make you do the square things surely that appeal will I shall not so far forget what is due to myself and to the dignity of this table as to reply to our erratic friend here is what I propose to do first catch our hair Stuart can you find out for me at what table and at what seat miss McMillan is while the steward was gone on his errand mr. Blair proceeded I will become acquainted with her McMillan is a good Scotch name and Blair is another on that as a basis I think we can speedily form an acquaintance I shall then in a casual manner ask her if she knows a young man by the name of Edmund J and I shall tell you what effect the mention of the name has on her now as part owner of the flowers up to date I protest against that I insist that miss McMillan be brought to this table and that we all hear exactly what is said to her put in mr. waters nevertheless we agreed that mr. Blair's proposal was a good one and the majority sanctioned it meanwhile are sentimental lady had been looking among the crowd for the unconscious miss McMillan I think I have found her she whispered to me do you see that handsome girl at the captain's table really the handsomest girl on board I thought that distinction rested with our own table now please pay attention do you see how pensive she is with her cheek resting on her hand I am sure she is thinking of Edwin I wouldn't bet on that I replied there is considerable motion just now and indications of a storm the pensive Ness may have other causes here the steward returned and reported that Miss McMillan had not yet appeared at table but had her meals taken to her room by the stewardess Blair called to the good-natured portly stewardess of the clematis who at that moment was passing through the saloon is miss McMillan ill he asked no not ill replied mrs. K but she seems very much depressed at leaving home and she has not left her room since we started they're said our sentimental lady triumphantly I would like very much to see her said Mr Blair I have some good news for her I will ask her to come out it will do her good said the stewardess as she went away in a few moments she appeared and following her came an old woman with white hair and her eyes concealed by a pair of spectacles miss McMillan said the stewardess this is mr. Blair who wanted to speak to you although mr. Blair was as we all were astonished to see our mythical young lady changed into a real old woman he did not lose his equanimity nor did his kindly face show any surprise but he evidently forgot the part he had intended to play you will pardon me for troubling you miss McMillan he said but this basket of flowers was evidently intended for you and was sent to my room by mistake miss McMillan did not look at the flowers but gazed long at the card with the writing on it and as she did so one tear and then another stole down the wrinkled face from behind the glasses there is no mistake is there as Mr Blair you know the writer there is no mistake no mistake replied miss Macmillan in a low voice he is a very dear and kind friend then as if unable to trust herself further she took the flowers and hurriedly said thank you and left us there I said to the lady on my left your romance turns out to be nothing after all no sir she cried with emphasis the romance is there and very much more of a romance than if miss McMillan was a young and silly girl of 20 perhaps she was right and story 13 and of in a steamer chair and other stories by Robert Barr

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