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After his last escapade in a South American broil, in which he had risen to the rank of general in two short months, and then been shot perilously near to death for his pains, Morris had come to New York a pitiful wreck. Thanning took him in, and knowing his inherent ability as a writer, persuaded him to settle down to literature. Gradually he recuperated, and in order to strengthen the ties to a profitable life, Thanning brought him into a circle of cultured, congenial friends. Among them his handsome, sensitive face and brilliant, reckless personality made him as well loved as he had been by kindred spirits in his wanderings.
Among these friends was a girl whom Thanning had loved in his patient way for years, and just as he seemed to be acceptable to her, in stepped Morris with his handsome face and blazing eyes. The girl lost her heart in that moment. Knowing his life as she did through Thanning, he seemed to her a kind of god-like devil. Attracted magically by the devil in him, she longed to shrive him of all save his goodness. She had been succeeding rapidly, and the noble Thanning had forced a smile past the tightness in his throat.
For months Morris rejoiced in his new life. Once the old longing came over him to be out with wild men in strange places, but the fire in the girl's eyes had mastered the flame of wandering in his own heart. His wooing had been as characteristic as his other acts, but the girl's surrender brought him a shuddering sense of his unfitness. His best love had been burned out in strange lands, and warm ashes alone remained. Knowing nothing of Thanning's love, however, the good in him bound him without great regret to a life of humdrum happiness with this beautiful, romantic girl.
Now the old desires, leaping higher from long restraint, scorched all the good from his mind. The devil of wandering roused in him the devil of drink, and the pair were whirling him off in a mad race to Hell.
Thanning thought all this over and lifted burning eyes to the heartless mist. Was this the reward of a clean life-to lose his two dearest treasures, his friend and his love? He had gladly sacrificed his love to save his friend-now he was about to lose both.
Morning came and roused him from a restless sleep. When he opened his eyes he saw Morris moving about the room, packing his effects in a steamer trunk. He had not slept, but his eyes glowed brightly and his step was quick and eager. He stopped short when he saw that his friend was awake.
"Monk," he said steadily, "I leave at noon for San Francisco. From there I'm going to Japan to recruit American assistance for the Revolution. Something's going to bust pretty soon, and I want to be there when it happens.'
Thanning looked at him sadly. "Have you told Helen yet?" he asked.
"No, it's best I should spare her that pain.'
"Then you drop her without a word, without even asking her to wait until you come back?"
"My God, that's inhuman, Ted!"
Morris paled, but persisted.
“Look here, are you a coward, Ted? What is it? Why don't you tell her the truth? Some day you'll come back." The other shook his head. "No, Monk, I'm never coming back,—to her. I am no man to marry. If I leave this way she will forget me, and some day find a good man-like you, Monk.”
A sudden flush tinged the face of the man on the bed, but he answered calmly.
"No, no, a girl like Helen loves once, and then she burns her heart out. She'll never love anyone else."
Morris was gazing at his friend with an increasing terror. With that flush the truth had at last dawned in his erratic mind. The realization of Thanning's sacrifice gave him the
sensation of falling suddenly from a great height. leaned forward and buried his face in his arms.
When he finally looked up there was something of the old dare-devil in his eyes.
"Monk," he said, "I will go and see Helen when I have finished packing. That will be about nine o'clock. At ten minutes after nine you must come over. You two are my. only friends, and it will be easier for her as well as for me you are there.'
"Then you still insist on going?"
"Yes, Monk, don't think I'm ungrateful for your love and help, but there's something in me-I'd rather die than live this humdrum life. I thank you-for-" His voice broke and he turned to his friend the face of a man pleading for his life before a judge.
Shortly after nine Thanning followed Morris to Helen's home. His friend had preceded him by a few minutes. Thanning was wondering vaguely why he had been asked to come, but Morris had insisted so strongly that he could not refuse. He climbed the brown steps and rang. After a moment Jepson, usually pale and dignified, opened for him. The butler was red and flustered. Thanning's keen nose scented strong drink, but it was not on Jepson, who fidgeted nervously. Behind the closed doors of the drawing room he heard a loud voice, somewhat thick. He started in dismay. It was Ted's, and in the same tone he had heard on the street corner the night before.
As he listened the voice rose angrily, punctuated by faint, feminine cries. For a moment Thanning stood like graven stone, then he heard a fierce revolting oath and the crash of a heavy vase. He dashed at the door and flung it open. Morris, maudlin and dishevelled, leaned against a table in the center of the room, hurling a blasphemous sentence at the frightened girl, who trembled against a portière in the corThe words were the words of drunken teamsters, and his handsome face was distorted maliciously. As the girl shrank from him there was absolute loathing in her face.
With a pained cry Thanning rushed for the intoxicated wretch and dragged him toward the door. Morris, cursing, struggled half-heartedly, but was evidently cowed by his friend's s appearance. He afforded great difficulty in donning his coat, but Jepson finally pushed him into it. Thanning led him down the steps. He was sick with grief.
A cab stood across the street and started up at his hail. He opened the door and pushed Morris in without difficulty. When he attempted to get in himself, however, the door slammed back in his face. Immediately Morris's head issued from the window. He ordered the driver to go on, then turned back to Thanning and said in a voice under perfect control: "You go back to her, Monk. She needs you.”
C. L. Watkins.
"AS A SICK MAN WATCHETH FOR THE MORN."
The dim gas-light on the white, white walls
And the sick boy listens to quick foot-falls
Of a nurse as she hurries through distant halls
To a patient worn by pain.
The clinking hoofs in the street below
On a watch that ticks now loud, now low
The burning sheets on the cool iron bed
Send a dream of brooks through the throbbing head
That pain-tossed on pillows of heated lead,
Not sleeping but delirium wrung,
Feels only sheets and fevered tongue.
The blessed light of the early day
William B. Belknap.