Harrigan, p.1Max Brand
Also by Max Brand: BLACK JACK; TROUBLE KID; CLUNG; THUNDER MOON;THE STINGAREE; RIPPON RIDES DOUBLE; ON THE TRAIL OF FOUR;STEVE TRAIN'S ORDEAL; LARRAMEE'S RANCH; RIDE THE WILD TRAIL;THE GUNS OF DORKING HOLLOW; TORTURE TRAIL; THE GENTLE GUNMAN;THE GARDEN OF EDEN; GOLDEN LIGHTNING; THE STRANGER; MIGHTY LOBO
"That fellow with the red hair," said the police captain as he pointed.
"I'll watch him," the sergeant answered.
The captain had raided two opium dens the day before, and the pride ofaccomplishment puffed his chest. He would have given advice to thesheriff of Oahu that evening.
He went on: "I can pick some men out of the crowd by the way they walk,and others by their eyes. That fellow has it written all over him."
The red-headed man came nearer through the crowd. Because of thewarmth, he had stuffed his soft hat into a back pocket, and now thelight from a window shone steadily on his hair and made a fire of it, adanger signal. He encountered the searching glances of the two officersand answered with cold, measuring eyes, like the gaze of a prizefighter who waits for a blow. The sergeant turned to his superior witha grunt.
"You're right," he nodded.
"Trail him," said the captain, "and take a man with you. If that fellowgets into trouble, you may need help."
He stepped into his automobile and the sergeant beckoned to a nearbypoliceman.
"Akana," he said, "we have a man-sized job tonight. Are you feelingfit?"
The Kanaka smiled without enthusiasm.
"The man of the red hair?"
The sergeant nodded, and Akana tightened his belt. He had eaten fishbaked in ti leaves that evening.
He suggested: "Morley has little to do. His beat is quiet. Shall I tellhim to come with us?"
"No," grinned the sergeant, and then looked up and watched the broadshoulders of the red-haired man, who advanced through the crowd as theprow of a ship lunges through the waves. "Go get Morley," he saidabruptly.
But Harrigan went on his way without misgivings, not that he forgot thepoliceman, but he was accustomed to stand under the suspicious eye ofthe law. In all the course of his wanderings it had been upon him. Hiscoming was to the men in uniform like the sound of the battle trumpetto the cavalry horse. This, however, was Harrigan's first night inHonolulu, and there was much to see, much to do. He had rambled throughthe streets; now he was headed for the Ivilei district. Instinctbrought him there, the still, small voice which had guided him fromtrouble to trouble all his life.
At a corner he stopped to watch a group of Kanakas who passed him,wreathed with leis and thrumming their ukuleles. They sang in theirsoft, many-voweled language and the sound was to Harrigan like the rushand lapse of water on a beach, infinitely soothing and as lazy as theatmosphere of Honolulu. All things are subdued in the strange citywhere East and West meet in the middle of the Pacific. The gayestcrowds cannot quite disturb the brooding peace which is like thepromise of sleep and rest at sunset. It was not pleasing to Harrigan.He frowned and drew a quick, impatient breath, muttering: "I'm not longfor this joint. I gotta be moving."
He joined a crowd which eddied toward the center of Ivilei. In there itwas better. Negro soldiers, marines from the _Maryland_, Kanakas,Chinamen, Japanese, Portuguese, Americans; a score of nationalities andcomplexions rubbed shoulders as they wandered aimlessly among the manybright-painted cottages.
Yet even in that careless throng of pleasure-seekers no one rubbedshoulders with Harrigan. The flame of his hair was like a red lampwhich warned them away. Or perhaps it was his eye, which seemed tolinger for a cold, incurious instant on every face that approached. Hepicked out the prettiest of the girls who sat at the windows chattingwith all who passed. He did not have to shoulder to win a way throughthe crowd of her admirers.
She was a _hap haoli_, with the fine features of the Caucasian and theblack of hair and eye which shows the islander. A rounded elbow restedon the sill of the window; her chin was cupped in her hand.
"Send these away," said Harrigan, and leaned an elbow beside hers.
"Oh," she murmured; then: "And if I send them away?"
"I'll reward you."
For answer he dragged a crimson carnation from the buttonhole of a tallman who stood at his side.
"What in hell--" began the victim, but Harrigan smiled and the otherdrew slowly back through the crowd.
"Now send them away."
She looked at him an instant longer with a light coming slowly upbehind her eyes. Then she leaned out and waved to the chucklingsemicircle.
"Run away for a while," she said; "I want to talk to my brother."
She patted the thick red hair to emphasize the relationship, and thelittle crowd departed, laughing uproariously. Harrigan slipped thecarnation into the jetty hair. His hand lingered a moment against thesoft masses, and she drew it down, grown suddenly serious.
"There are three policemen in the shadow of that cottage over there.They're watching you."
The sound was so soft that it was almost a sigh, but she shiveredperceptibly.
"What have you been doing?"
He answered regretfully: "Nothing."
"They're coming this way. The man who had the carnation is with them.You better beat it."
"Nope. I like it here."
She shook her head, but the flame was blowing high nowin her eyes. A hand fell on Harrigan's shoulder.
"Hey!" said the sergeant in a loud voice.
Harrigan turned slowly and the sergeant's hand fell away. The man ofthe carnation was far in the background.
"That flower. You can't get away with little tricks like that. Youbetter be starting on. Move along."
Harrigan glanced slowly from face to face. The three policemen drewcloser together as if for mutual protection.
"Please--honey!" urged the whisper of the girl.
The hand of Harrigan resting on the window sill had gathered to ahard-bunched fist, white at the knuckles, but he nodded across the openspace between the cottages.
"If you're looking for work," he said, "seems as though you'd find ahandful over there."
A clatter of sharp, quick voices rose from a group of Negro soldiersgathering around a white man. No one could tell the cause of thequarrel. It might have been anything from an oath to a blow.
"Watch him," said Harrigan. "He looks like a man." He addedplaintively: "But looks are deceivin'."
The center of the disturbance appeared to be a man indeed. He was eventaller than Harrigan and broader of shoulder, and, like the latter,there was a suggestion of strength in him which could not be defined byhis size alone. At the distance they could guess his smile as he facedthe clamoring mob.
"Break in there!" ordered the sergeant to his companions, and startedtoward the angry circle.
As he spoke, they heard one of the Negroes curse and the fist of thetall man darted at the face of a soldier and drove him toppling backamong his comrades. They closed on the white man with a yell; a passinggroup of their compatriots joined the affray; the whole mass surged inaround the tall fellow. Harrigan's head went back and his eyes halfclosed like a critic listening to an exquisite symphony.
"Ah-h!" he whispered to himself. "Watch him fight!"
The policemen struck the outer edge of the circle with drawn clubs, butthere they stopped. They could not dent that compacted mass. Thesoldiers struggled manfully, but they were held at bay. Harrigan couldsee the heaving shoulders of the defender over the heads of theassailants, and the crack of hard-driven fists. The attackers werecrushed together and had little room to swing their arms with fullforce, while the big man stood with his back against the wall of thecottage and mad
As if by common assent, the soldiers suddenly desisted and gave backfrom this deadly fighter. His bellow of triumph rang over the clamor.His hat was off; his long black hair stood straight up in the wind; andhe leaped after them with flailing arms.
But now the police had managed to pry their way into the mass by dintof indiscriminate battering. As the black-haired man came face to facewith the sergeant, the light gleamed on a high-swung club that thuddedhome; and the big man dropped out of sight. He came up again almost atonce, but with men draped from every portion of his body. The soldiersand police had joined forces, and once more a dozen men clutched him,spilling over him like football players in a scrimmage. He was knockedfrom his feet by the impact.
"Coming!" shouted Harrigan.
He raced with long strides, head lowered and back bowed until his longarms nearly swept the ground. Gathering impetus at every stride, hecrushed into the floundering heap of arms and legs. The police sergeantrose and whirled with lifted club. Harrigan grunted with joy as he dughis left into the man's midsection. The sergeant collapsed upon theground, embracing his stomach with both arms. Harrigan jerked away theupper layers of the attackers and dragged the black-haired man to hisfeet.
"Shoulder to shoulder!" thundered Harrigan, and smote Officer Akanaupon the point of the chin.
The victory was not yet won. The black soldiers of Uncle Sam's regulararmy need not take second place to any body of troops in the world.These men had tasted their own blood and they came tearing in now forrevenge.
Harrigan, standing full in front of the rescued man until the lattershould have recovered his breath, found food for both fists, and hislove of battle was fed. The other man had fought stiffly erect,standing with feet braced to give the weight of his whole body to everypunch; Harrigan raged back and forth like a panther, avoiding blows bythe catlike agility of his movements, which left both hands free tostrike sledge-hammer blows. Presently he heard a chuckling at his side.Out of the corner of his eye he saw the black-haired man come into thebattle, straight and stiff as before, with long arms shooting out likepistons.
It was a glorious sight. Something made Harrigan's heart big; rose andswelled his throat; rose again and came as a wild yell upon his tongue.The unfortunates who have faced Irish legions in battle know that yell.The soldiers did not know it, and they held back for a moment.Something else lowered their spirits still more. It was the clanging ofthe police patrol as it swung to a halt and a body of reserves pouredout.
"Here comes our finish!" panted Harrigan to his comrade in arms. "Butoh, man, I'm thinkin' it was swate while it lasted!"
In his great moments the Irish brogue thronged thick upon his tongue.
"Finish, hell!" grunted the other. "After me, lad!"
And lowering his head like a bull, he drove forward against the crowd.Harrigan caught the idea in a flash. He put his shoulder to the hip ofhis friend. They became a flying wedge with the jabbing fists of theblack-haired man for a point--and they sank into the mass of soldierslike a hot knife into butter, shearing them apart.
There were few who wished more action, for the police reserves werecapturing man after man. One or two resisted, but a revolver firedstraight in the air put a sudden period to such thoughts. The crowdscattered in all directions and Harrigan was taking to his heels amongthe rest when an iron hand caught his shoulder and jerked him to ahalt. It was the black-haired man.
"Easy," he cautioned. He pulled a cap out and settled it upon his head.Harrigan followed suit with his soft hat.
"Are you after givin' yourself away to the law?" he queried,bewildered.
"Steady, you fool," said the other; "they're only after the ones whorun away."
An excited Kanaka confronted them with brandished club.
"What's the cause of the disturbance, officer?" asked the big man.
The policeman for answer waved them away and darted after a runningsoldier.
"I'll be damned!" murmured Harrigan, and his eyes dwelt on hiscompanion's face almost tenderly.
They were at the edge of the crowd when a shrill voice called: "Thosetwo big men! Halt 'em! Stand!"
Officer Akana ran through the crowd with his regulation Colt brandishedabove his head.
"The time's come!" said Harrigan's new friend, and broke into a run.
Harrigan by Max Brand / Western have rating 2.3 out of 5 / Based on32 votes