Ray's Daughter: A Story of ManilaCharles King / History & Fiction
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Grouped about a prostrate form in the pale blue uniformof a Filipino Captain]
A Story of Manila
GENERAL CHARLES KING, U.S.V.
Author of Ray's Recruit, Marion's Faith,The Colonel's Daughter, etc.
Philadelphia and LondonJ. B. Lippincott Company1901
Copyright, 1900byJ. B. Lippincott Company
_Electrotyped and Printed byJ. B. Lippincott Company,Philadelphia, U.S.A._
The long June day was drawing to its close. Hot and strong the slantingsunbeams beat upon the grimy roofs of the train and threw distortedshadows over the sand and sage-brush that stretched to the far horizon.Dense and choking, from beneath the whirring wheels the dust-clouds rosein tawny billows that enveloped the rearmost coaches and, mingling withthe black smoke of the double-header engines, rolled away in thedreary wake. East and west, north and south, far as the eye could reach,hemmed by low, dun-colored ridges or sharply outlined crests of remotemountain range, in lifeless desolation the landscape lay outspread tothe view. Southward, streaked with white fringe of alkali, the flatmonotone of sand and ashes blended with the flatter, flawless surfaceof a wide-spreading, ash-colored inland lake, its shores dotted atintervals with the bleaching bones of cattle and ridged with ancientwagon-tracks unwashed by not so much as a single drop from the cloudlessheavens since their first impress on the sinking soil. Here and therealong the right of way--a right no human being would care to disputewere the way ten times its width--some drowsing lizards, sprawling inthe sunshine along the ties, roused at the sound and tremor of thecoming train to squirm off into the sage-brush, but no sign of animationhad been seen since the crossing of the big divide near Promontory. Thelong, winding train, made up of mail-, express-, baggage-, emigrant-,and smoking-cars, tourists' coaches, and huge sleepers at the rear,with a diner midway in the chain, was packed with gasping humanitywestward bound for the far Pacific--the long, long, tortuous climb tothe snow-capped Sierras ahead, the parched and baking valley of theGreat Salt Lake long, dreary miles behind. It was early June of the year'98, and the war with Spain was on.
There had been some delay at Ogden. The trains from the East over theUnion Pacific and the Denver and Rio Grande came in crowded, and theresources of the Southern Pacific were suddenly taxed beyond theexpectation of its officials. Troops had been whirling westwardthroughout the week, absorbing much of the rolling stock, and the emptycars were being rushed east again from Oakland pier, but the nearestwere still some hundreds of miles from this point of transfer when acarload of recruits was dumped upon the broad platform, and thesuperintendent scratched his head, and screwed up the corner of hismouth, and asked an assistant how in a hotter place than even Salt LakeValley the road could expect him to forward troops without delay whenthe road took away the last car in the yard getting those Iowa boysout.
There ain't nuthin' left 'cept that old tourist that's been rustin' andkiln-dryin' up 'longside the shops since last winter, said the juniorhelplessly. Shall we have her out?
Guess you'll have to, was the answer. It's that or nothin'; and theboss turned on his heel and slammed the office door behind him. Ten toone, said he, there'll be a kick comin' when the boys see what they'vegot to ride in, an' I'll let Jim take the kick.
The kick had come as predicted, but availed nothing. A score of lustyyoung patriots were the performers, but, being destined for service inthe regulars, they had neither Senator nor State official to wire toin wrathful protest, as was usual on such occasions. The superintendentwould have thought twice before ever suggesting that car as a componentpart of the train bearing the volunteers from Nebraska, Colorado, orIowa so recently shipped over the road. They could have made it hot forthe management, said he. But these fellows, these waifs, were from noState or place in particular. They hadn't even an officer with them, butwere hurrying on to their destination under command of a veteran gunner,lanced for the purpose at the recruiting station. He had done his bestfor his men. Ruefully they looked through the dust-covered interior andinspected the muddy trucks and brake-gear. She wheezes like she hadbronchitis, said the corporal, and the inside's a cross between ahen-coop and coal-bin. You ain't going to run that old rookery for acar, are you?
Best we've got, was the curt reply. Yet the yardman shook his head ashe heard the squeal of the rusty journals, and ordered his men to packin fresh waste and touch 'em up somehow. Any man who had spent a weekabout a railway could have prophesied hot boxes before that coach hadrun much more than its own length, but it wouldn't do for an employee tosay so. The corporal looked appealingly at his fellow-passengers of theRio Grande train. There were dozens of them stretching their legs andstrolling about the platform, after getting their hand-luggagetransferred and seats secured, but there was no one in position orauthority to interpose. Some seemed to feel no interest.
Get your rations and plunder aboard, he ordered, turning suddenly tohis party, and, loading up with blankets, overcoats, haversacks, andcanteens, the recruits speedily took possession of their new quarters,forced open the jammed windows to let out the imprisoned and overheatedair, piled their boxes of hard bread and stacks of tinned meat at theends and their scant soldier goods and chattels in the rude sections,then tumbled out again upon the platform to enjoy, while yet there wastime, the freedom of the outer air, despite the torrid heat of themid-day sunshine.
In knots of three or four they sauntered about, their hands deep intheir empty pockets, their boyish eyes curiously studying the signs andposters, or wistfully peering through the screened doors at thetemptations of the bar and lunch counter or the shaded windows of thedining-room, where luckier fellow-passengers were taking their fill ofthe good cheer afforded. Two of the number, dressed like the rest inblue flannel shirts, with trousers of lighter hue and heavier make,fanning their heated faces with their drab, broad-brimmed campaign hats,swung off the rear end of the objectionable car, and, with a quickglance about them, started briskly down the track to where the dinerand certain sleepers of the Southern Pacific were being shunted about.
Come back here, you fellers! shouted the corporal, catching sight ofthe pair. You don't know how soon this here train may start. Come back,I say, he added emphatically, as the two, looking first into eachother's eyes, seemed to hesitate. Then, with sullen, down-cast face thenearer turned and slowly obeyed. The other, a bright, merry youngster,whose white teeth gleamed as he laughed his reply, still stood in histracks.
We're only going to the dining-car, corporal, he shouted. That'sgoing with us, so we can't be left.
You've got no business in the dining-car, Mellen; that's not for yoursort, or mine, for that matter, was the corporal's ultimatum. And witha grin still expanding his broad mouth, the recruit addressed as Mellencame reluctantly sauntering in the trail of his comrade, who hadsubmitted in silence and yet not without a shrug of protest. It was tothe latter the corporal spoke when the two had rejoined theirassociates.
You've got sense enough to know you're not wanted at that diner,Murray, whether Mellen has or not. That's no place for empty pockets.What took you there?
Wanted a drink, and you said 'keep away from the bar-room,' answeredMurray briefly, his gray eyes glancing about from man to man in thegroup, resting for just a second on the form and features of one whostood a little apart, a youth of twenty-one years probably. It wasFoster's treat, he added, and that remark transferred the attention ofthe party at the instant to the youngster on the outskirts.
He had been leaning with folded arms against a lamp-post, lookingsomewhat wearily up the long platform to where in pairs or little groupsthe passengers were strolling, men and women both, seeking relief fromthe constraint and stiffness of the long ride by rail. He had aninteresting--even a handsome--face, and his figure was well knit, wellproportioned. His eyes were a dark, soft brown, with very long, curvinglashes, his nose straight, his mouth finely curved, soft and sensitive.His throat was full, round, and at the base very white and fair, as theunfastened and flapping shirt-collar now enabled one to see. His hands,too, were soft and white, showing that at least one of the twenty camenot from the ranks of the toilers. His shoes were of finer make thanthose of his comrades, and the handkerchief so loosely knotted at theopening of the coarse blue shirt was of handsome and costly silk. Hehad been paying scant attention to his surroundings, and was absorbed,evidently, in his watch on the tourists up the platform when recalledto himself by the consciousness that all eyes were upon him.
What's this about your treatin', Foster? asked the corporal.
For a week he had felt sure the boy had money, and not a little. Nothingwould have persuaded him to borrow a cent of Foster or anybody else, butothers, and plenty of them, had no such scruples.
The young recruit turned slowly. He seemed reluctant to quit hisscrutiny of his fellow-passengers. The abrupt tone and manner of theaccustomed regular, too, jarred upon him. It might be the corporal'sprerogative so to address his charges, but this one didn't like it, andmeant to show that he didn't. His money at least was his own, and hecould do with it as he liked. The answer did not come until the questionhad been asked twice. Then in words as brief and manner as blunt hesaid,--
Why shouldn't I?
Corporal Connelly stood a second or two without venturing a word,looking steadfastly at the young soldier, whose attitude was unchangedand whose eyes were again fixed on the distant group, as though in wearydisdain of those about him. Then Connelly took half a dozen quick,springy steps that landed him close to the unmoved recruit.
You've two things to learn among two thousand, Foster, said he in low,firm voice. One is to keep your money, and the other, your temper. Ispoke for your good principally, but if you've been ladling out yourmoney to be spent in liquor, I say stop it. There's to be no whiskey inthat car.
Nobody wants it less than I do, said Foster wearily. Why didn't youkeep it out of the others?
Because I never knew till it was gone. How much money did you giveMurray--and why? and Connelly's eyes were looking straight into thoseof Foster as he spoke, compelling respect for sturdy manhood.
A dollar, I believe, was the languid answer, and because he askedit. And again the lad's gaze wandered off along the platform.
The switch engine was busily at work making up the train, and brakemenwere signalling up and down the line. The dining-car, followed by someponderous sleepers, came gliding slowly along the rails and brought upwith a bump and jar against the buffers of the old tourists' arkassigned the recruits. Somewhere up at the thronged station a bell beganto jangle, followed by a shout of All aboard!
Tumble in, you men, ordered Connelly, and at the moment there came ageneral movement of the crowd in their direction. The passengers of thesleepers were hurrying to their assigned places, some with flushed facesand expostulation. They thought their car should have come to them.
It's because our train is so very long, explained the brakeman to someladies whom he was assisting up the steps. We've twice as many cars asusual. Yours is the next car, ma'am; the one behind the diner.
The recruit, Foster, had started, but slowly, when in obedience to thecorporal's order his fellows began to move. He was still looking, halfin search, half in expectation, towards the main entrance of the stationbuilding. But the instant he became aware of the movement in hisdirection on the part of the passengers he pushed ahead past several ofthe party; he even half shoved aside one of their number who had justgrasped the hand-rail of the car, then sprang lightly past him anddisappeared within the door-way. There, half hidden by the gloom of theinterior, he stood well back from the grimy windows, yet peeringintently through at the swiftly passing crowd.
Suddenly he stooped, recoiled, and seated himself in the oppositesection while his comrades came filing rapidly in, and at the moment atall young officer in dark uniform, a man perhaps of twenty-five, with asingularly handsome face and form, strode past the window, scrupulouslyacknowledged Connelly's salute, and then, glancing about, saw the headsand shoulders of a dozen soldiers at the windows.
Why, what detachment is this, corporal? he asked. We brought notroops on our train.
Recruits --th Cavalry, sir, was the ready answer. We came by way ofDenver.
Ah, yes; that explains it. Who's in command? And the tall officerlooked about him as though in search of kindred rank.
We have no officer with us, sir, said Connelly diplomatically.I'm--in charge.
You'll have to hurry, sir, spoke the brakeman at the moment. Jump onthe diner, if you like, and go through.
The officer took the hint and sprang to the steps. There he turned andfaced the platform again just as the train began to move.
A little group, two ladies and a man of middle age, stood directlyopposite him, closely scanning the train, and all on a sudden theirfaces beamed, their glances were directed, their hands waved towardshim.
Good-by! Good-by! Take good care of yourself! Wire from Sacramento!were their cries, addressed apparently to his head, and turning quickly,he found himself confronting a young girl standing smiling on theplatform of the dining-car, her tiny feet about on a level with hisknees; yet he had hardly to cast an upward glance, for her beaming,beautiful face was but a trifle higher than his own. In all his life hehad never seen one so pretty.
Realizing that he stood between this fair traveller and the friends whowere there to wish her god-speed; recognizing, too, with the swiftintuition of his class, the possibility of establishing relations on hisown account, the young soldier snatched off his new forage-cap, brieflysaid, I beg your pardon; take my place, and, swinging outward,transferred himself to the rear of the recruit car, thereby causing thecorporal to recoil upon a grinning squad of embryo troopers who wereshouting jocular farewell to the natives, and getting much in the way oftrain-hands who were busy straightening out the bell-cord.
Something seemed amiss with that portion of it which made part of theequipment of the old tourists' car. It was either wedged in the narroworifice above the door or caught among the rings of the pendants fromabove, for it resisted every jerk, whereat the brakeman set his teethand said improper things. It would have grieved the management to hearthis faithful employe's denunciation of that particular item of theirrolling-stock.
Get out of the way here, boys, and let's see what's the matter withthis damned bell-cord, he continued, elbowing his way through the swarmabout the door. Once fairly within, he threw a quick glance along theaisle. The left sections of the car were deserted. Out of almost everywindow on the right side poked a head and pair of blue flannelshoulders.
Only one man of the party seemed to have no further interest in what wasgoing on outside. With one hand still grasping the edge of the uprightpartition between two sections near the forward end, and the other justletting go, apparently, of the bell-cord, the tall, slender, well-builtyoung soldier, with dark-brown eyes and softly curling lashes, waslowering himself into the aisle. The brakeman proceeded to rebuke him onthe spot.
Look here, young feller, you'll have to keep your hands off thatbell-cord. Here I've been cussin' things for keeps, thinking it wasknotted or caught. It was just you had hold of it. Don't you knowbetter'n that? Ain't you ever travelled before?
The man addressed was stowing something away inside the breast of hisshirt. He did it with almost ostentatious deliberation, quietly eyingthe brakeman before replying. Then, slowly readjusting the knot of afine black-silk necktie, so that its broad, flapping ends spread overthe coarser material of the garment, he slowly looked the justlyexasperated brakeman over from head to foot and as slowly and placidlyanswered:
Not more than about half around the world. As for your bell-cord, itwas knotted; it caught in that ring. I saw that someone was tugging andtrying to get it loose, so I swung up there and straightened it. Justwhat you'd have done under the circumstances, I fancy.
The brakeman turned redder under the ruddy brown of his sun-tanned skin.This was no raw rookie after all. In his own vernacular, as afterwardsexpressed to the conductor, I seen I was up ag'in' the real t'ing distime, but it was hard to admit it at the moment. Vexation had to have avent. The bell-cord no longer served. The supposed meddler had proved ahelp. Something or somebody had to be the victim of the honestbrakeman's spleen, so, somewhat unluckily, as events determined, he tookit out on the company and that decrepit car, now buzzing along with muchcomplaint of axle and of bearing.
Damn this old shake-down, anyhow! said he. The company ought to know'nough not to have such things lyin' round loose. Some night it'll fallto pieces and kill folks. And with this implied apology for hisaspersions of Recruit Foster, the brakeman bustled away.
But what he said was heard by more than one, and remembered when perhapshe would have wished it forgotten. The delay at Ogden was supplementedby a long halt before the setting of that blazing sun, necessitated bythe firing of the waste in the boxes of those long-neglected trucks. Farback as the rearmost sleeper the sickening smell of burning, oil-steepedpacking drove feminine occupants to their satchels in search ofscent-bottles, and the men to such comfort as could be found in flasksof bulkier make.
In the heart of the desert, with dust and desolation spreading far onevery hand, the long train had stopped to douse those foul-smellingfires, and, while train-hands pried off the red-hot caps and dumpedbuckets of water into the blazing cavities, changing malodorous smoke todense clouds of equally unsavory steam, and the recruits in theafflicted car found consolation in joshing the hard-sweating,hard-swearing workers, the young officer who had boarded the secondsleeper at Ogden, together with half a dozen bipeds in dusters orfrazzled shirt-sleeves, had become involved in a complication on theshadier side of the train.
Somewhere into the sage-brush a jack-rabbit had darted and was now inhiding. With a dozen eager heads poked from the northward windows andstretching arms and index fingers guiding them in their inglorious hunt,the lieutenant and his few associates were stalking the firstfour-footed object sighted from the train since the crossing of the balddivide.
Within the heated cars, with flushed faces and plying palm-leaf fans, afew of the women passengers were languidly gazing from the windows. Atthe centre window of the second sleeper, without a palm-leaf and lookingserene and unperturbed, sat the young girl whose lovely face had soexcited Mr. Stuyvesant's deep admiration. Thrice since leaving Ogden, onone pretext or other, had he passed her section and stolen such a lookas could be given without obvious staring. Immediately in rear of theseat she occupied was an austere maiden of middle age, one of thepassengers who had come on by the Union Pacific from Omaha. Directlyopposite sat two men whom Stuyvesant had held in but scant esteem up tothe time they left the valley of Salt Lake. Now, because their sectionsstood over against hers, his manner relaxed with his mood. Circumstanceshad brought the elderly maid and himself to the same table on twooccasions in the dining-car, but he had hitherto felt no desire to pressthe acquaintance.
This afternoon he minded him of a new book he had in his bag, forliterature, he judged, might be her hobby, and had engaged her inconversation, of which his share was meant to impress the tiny,translucent ear that nestled in the dark-brown coils and waves of thepretty head in front of him.
When, however, it became patent that his companion desired to form herown impressions of the pages uninfluenced by his well-deliveredcomments, Mr. Stuyvesant had bethought him of the semi-somnolentoccupants of the opposite section, and some cabalistic signs he venturedwith a little silver cup summoned them in pleased surprise to thewater-cooler at the rear end, where he regaled them with a good storyand the best of V. O. P. Scotch, and accepted their lavish bid to sitwith them awhile.
From this coign of vantage he had studied her sweet, serious, oval faceas she sat placidly reading a little volume in her lap, only once in awhile raising a pair of very dark, very beautiful, very heavily browedand lashed brown eyes for brief survey of the forbidding landscape;then, with never an instant's peep at him, dropping their gaze againupon the book.
Not once in the long, hot afternoon had she vouchsafed him the minimumof a show of interest, curiosity, or even consciousness of his presence.Then the train made its second stop on account of the fires, and Bre'rRabbit his luckless break into the long monotony of the declining day.
Tentative spikes, clods, and empty flasks having failed to find him, thebeaters had essayed a skirmish line, and with instant result. Like ameteoric puff of gray and white, to a chorus of yells and theaccompaniment of a volley of missiles, Jack had shot into space frombehind his shelter and darted zigzagging through the brush. A whizzingspike, a chance shot that nearly grazed his nose, so dazzled hisbrainlet that the terrified creature doubled on his trail and camebounding back towards the train.
Close to the track-side ran a narrow ditch. In this ditch at the instantcrouched the tall lieutenant. Into this ditch leaped Bunny, and the nextsecond had whizzed past the stooping form and bored straight into alittle wooden drain. There some unseen, unlooked-for object blocked him.
Desperately the hind-legs kicked and tore in the effort to force thepassage, and with a shout of triumph the tall soldier swooped upon theprize, seized the struggling legs, swung the wretched creature aloft,and for the first time in six mortal hours met full in his own the gazeof the deep, beautiful brown eyes he had so striven to attract, and theywere half pleading, half commanding for Bunny. The next instant,uninjured, but leaping madly for life, Bre'r Rabbit was streakingeastward out of harm's way, a liberated victim whose first huge leapowed much of its length to the impetus of Stuyvesant's long, lean,sinewy arm.
This time when he looked up and raised his cap, and stood there with hisblond hair blowing down over his broad white forehead, although the softcurves of the ripe red lips at the window above him changed not, therewas something in the dark-brown eyes that seemed to say Thank you!
Yet when he would have met those eyes again that evening, when Lastcall for dinner in the dining-car was sounding through the train, hecould not. Neither were they among those that peered from between partedcurtains in the dim light of the sleeper, many in fright, all inanxiety, when somewhere in the dead of the summer night, long after alloccupants of the rearmost cars were wrapped in slumber, the long trainbumped to sudden jarring standstill, and up ahead there arose sound ofrush, of excitement and alarm.