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day with lively hostility that he aspired and made for himself a remarkable to become not a pharmacist but a place in the ranks of the Montmartre Parnassian, and that he was willing to satirists one more whom a muse of abandon the pestle for the lyre, and the artistic and literary cabarets has the austere pleasures of the laboratory attracted and has supported, and who for those of the cabaret platform. Still has made for himself on the boards a more serious was the rumor that Gas- position which the pharmacy would ton Secrétan composed little couplets probably never have given him. and epigrams in which the established Fursy, who is the best known, no régime was satirized. The family
The family doubt, of contemporary chansonniers, promptly placed this kind of behavior came to the topical song by the most under surveillance
direct route — that of journalism. For The patrons of the shop looked with on La France at the time when Emile surprise upon this tall boy for whom de Girardin's paper was still at the Cannabis indica and Papaver officinalis height of its popularity - Fursy played stood chiefly for harmonious hemi- several different rôles, and even - in a stiches of Latin verse, and who did masterly way — that of a parliamenthem the unforeseen honor, while they tary reporter and political leaderwere waiting for their prescriptions, of writer. At the age of twenty-four, submitting to their criticism his last after a few months' probation in the topical quatrains. They were surprised press galleries, Fursy had attained a to find, on the back of their prescrip- success that aroused the jealously of tions, lines of unequal length in which the veterans. His reports, his 'echoes,' the Republic and the stoutness of his gossip, disturbed the tranquil plodPresident Fallières were amusingly ding of the old men of the road who lampooned. But they did not conceal were his confrères. the fear that this lyre-bearing prescrip- As for the politicians, he had become tionist inspired in them, and the terror their nightmare. No one knew so well in which they lived of seeing him, in a as he did how to extort from a leader, moment of poetic abstraction, substi- even from the President of the Council, tute potassium cyanide for bicarbonate one of those indiscreet speeches that of soda.
raise a general hue and cry on the day They communicated their fears to after the paper has come out, and start the right person. Father Secrétan tried passionate discussions. He was alto put the brakes on these inclinations ready, without intending to be, one of of his son's, which seemed to him at the entertainers of the parliamentary once regrettable and dangerous. But Grand Guignol. The rulers of that he was not a fool, and when he saw the period, from whom he wrested intersuccess that his son achieved in the views between two doors, on a stairsalons of friends, where he put on very case, or on the sidewalk of the Quai amusing little revues, and learned that d'Orsay, never dared to leave the he was celebrated in the goguettes Cabinet-room without casting anxious where he went to practise on the sly, glances around. The secretaries and he allowed the young Gaston to set sail undersecretaries, the chiefs and the for another port. It was no longer the subordinates of the Cabinet, and the period when the Chat Noir was unique, numerous attachés, kept a vigilant and ten cabarets disputed for the guard about the chief in vain. With beginner. In a few months the ex- the boldness of youth and the skill of a prescriptionist had built up his public housebreaker, Fursy would penetrate
to His Excellency, seize him by his could have sailed, but which formed lapel, and say:
for an audacious reporter a particularly One word — just one word, Mon- tempting arch.
sieur le Ministre!'
Fursy did not hesitate. He darted “The fact is - I have no time.' under that unhoped-for vault and in
'One second! Only a second! Let one second was upon Father Ribot, me just ask you — And Fursy would like a tiger on a gazelle. The startled pour out his questions. It would be a Minister stopped, rolled his melangood quarter of an hour before he would choly eyes anxiously, and, observing release his prey and tear off, full of the act which his persecutor had perinformation extorted with a masterly formed, smiled a wan smile. Taking hand, toward the editorial rooms of the reporter by the ear and pinching La France.
it affectionately, he said: One day one of the most taciturn 'Young man, you will go far!' and least easy-going ministers we ever In fact, Fursy did go far one day — had, Alexandre Ribot, after a stormy far from the Chamber and legislative session, decided to grant no interviews discussions. He was not made to rust to 'those pestiferous journalists. Sus- in the reporters' gallery at the Depupecting that Fursy, ambushed in some ties. He went up toward the Butte, corner of the Palais, might spring at and, as opportunity was open to all, his neck, he resolved to leave by way he practised reciting a few couplets of the library, and, knowing that he at the Cabaret de Corillan. It was an would not succeed in throwing his intimate and charming little room persecutor off the scent, he had the directed by the poet-journalist Bercorridor guarded by an usher six feet trand Millevoix." He knew how to tall. When the future ballad-singer, please when he sang, and the public guided, like the Sioux on the warpath, took up eagerly this newcomer who, by infallible instinct, flung himself upon leaving aside the conventional songs the tracks of the Minister, he bumped of the time, fabricated in a single hour into the loyal and robust servant. and recited with irresistible vivacity
Why,' he said with his finest smile, the couplet that sparkles with the topic 'Emile, it is I!'
of the day the chanson of the mo‘My duty,' said Emile, 'is to let no ment. It was an agreeable surprise one pass.'
for Parisians to see contemporary 'Come, come, old fellow,' insisted robberies, recent patriotic celebrations, Fursy, 'that's not serious. I have just or exposés of well-known clairvoyants, reserved a box of Marylands for you sung in topical form as soon as they at the buffet!'
were revealed to the public. It was still ‘Even if it were Little Caporals,' said journalism, if you will — the performthe usher sarcastically, 'no one is to ance of a musical leader-writer; but pass.'
it was carried off with so much witty And, saying that, he blocked the gayety and daring - more apparent whole corridor with his torso. In so than real — that Paris conferred upon doing, unfortunately, this Colossus of this entertainer escaped from the Rhodes extended his very long legs corridors of Parliament an affection
legs under which, perhaps, no boats that has never been withdrawn.
AT HALF-PAST FIVE1
BY V. A. PEARN
'EXCUSE me, mates, got to kill a man at half-past five.'
With this unusual explanation of his haste, the old man almost fell into the railway carriage as the Portsmouth-toWaterloo express pulled out of the station. He stood, swaying his great bulk easily to the movement of the train, while he hoisted his bag into the rack; then he lowered himself into his seat, and seemed, almost at once, to fall into an uneasy doze.
The two young officers, who preceded him by a moment, stared at him, startled, nonplussed, almost openmouthed. They were exceedingly young officers and very new at their job, and they were already just a little flurried by finding themselves in a third-class carriage. Officers travel first-class!
'A queer customer,' Second-Lieutenant Phillips remarked.
'Said he was going to kill a man,' Davidson of the same rank replied. "Think we ought to do anything about it?'
'Chaffing you, that's what he was.' The pretty little actress in the corner pulled her furs more closely about her. 'Don't you get the wind up! It was just his little joke.'
"Think so? One might make an ass of one's self if one tried to interfere.' Davidson contemplated the improbable with courage. 'Best to lie low,' he said. 'All the same, I'd like to know what lingo that is he's talking to himself. Just listen a minute,' Phillips said. 1 From the Empire Review (London public-affairs monthly), October
Three occupants of the carriage were silent. The old man's head had fallen forward on his chest. In guttural words that burred thickly on his tongue, he muttered to himself while he slept. "That's not English,' Davidson averred.
'Nor French. I,' Second-Lieutenant Phillips explained, 'took a prize for French at school.'
'One ought to be careful in these days. Not let the signing of the peace treaties lull us into false security, eh, what!' Lieutenant Davidson felt for his budding moustache, and two pairs of nice blue eyes bulged slightly as they rested on the gnarled face opposite them.
'We must remember,' Phillips added, 'that this train comes from one of England's chief naval ports.'
'You keep on remembering it,' the little actress advised. little actress advised. 'Don't you take your mind off it for one moment, or it'll be all U P with the British Navy.' She gave Phillips a little nod of her dainty head, pulled her hat a trifle more to one side, crossed her legs, showing conspicuously a pretty ankle in a darned silk stocking, and settled down to her novel.
The train rattled its way across the southern counties that lay half-veiled under wisps of mist. The old man sat so immobile, so withdrawn, as to appear almost inhuman in the fading light. Every now and then, with a thick sound of soft gutturals he muttered to himself.
The mist came into the carriage. Something else came into the carriage,
too. An atmosphere? A feeling? A por- was close-cropped upon his massive tent? Or the sound of the sands of a head. man's life falling, falling, to stop at The old man sat, bent forward a lithalf-past five? The actress moved un- tle, with a hand on either knee. Such easily and shivered. Second-Lieutenant hands! All a man's life-history in their Phillips broke nervously into unneces- scarred and tattooed breadth. Strong
hands still, with a growth of dark hair ‘Be a bit thick by the time we get to а.
on their backs; hands that still would London,' he remarked. 'Fog, you know, find it easy to crush and kill. On the and all that.'
right a butterfly was tattooed with The actress glanced out of the win- widespread blue wings, and on the left dow. ‘My luck's out if there's a fog, lay pictured a serpent's head, the body she said. “I've just finished playing coiling its length about the wrist and panto, in the provinces. Got a chance disappearing up the sleeve. of a West End show. I'll miss it if this ‘A queer customer' was the verdict old creepy-crawly does the slow-motion written on the faces of the officers as stunt.'
they stared at him. But the eyes of the ‘Dirrty weather, and there's a dirrty actress rested on him with admiration. night comin'.' The old man lifted his "When that was young,' she said to herhead; for a moment he appeared to self, ‘my holy godfathers, it must have wake to full consciousness of his sur- been a man!' roundings. His small gray eyes looked 'I'd give a week's pay to know what appraisingly from face to face; then a that language is he talks to himself,' film like the film of the fog seemed to Phillips said suddenly. creep over them again. “Ess sure, a 'I don't see its any business of ours,' dirrty night for them that lies off a lee Davidson replied. shore. A lee shore and no soundings.' 'I'm with you there, old dear,' the His voice trailed away, his eyes closed, actress chipped in, though I've a sort his head jerked with the jerk of the of feeling I might give a guess myself if train. Once more he muttered in a I was given time and to spare.' strange and guttural tongue. Once “The safety of the country is everymore he seemed to withdraw into an one's business,' Phillips said; 'and,' he isolation utterly mysterious to his fel- added, "I've no doubt you learned low travelers.
German at school.' Strange, outlandish, foreign, he ‘Oh, give it a rest.' The ankle was looked this huge hulk of a man, uncrossed with an impatient fling! gnarled and weather-beaten, with his We've heard a bit too much of that vast mahogany-colored face, the fea- sort of bilge. I'll take my Bible oath tures twisted and scarred, the little eyes England is n't in any sort of danger deep-sunken, gleaming queerly be- from that.' She nodded toward the neath overhanging brows where gray heavy head that dropped lower and hairs, thick as bristles, stuck out at un- lower. Her brown curls danced under expected angles. His long upper lip, her soft brown hat. clean-shaven, was shut closely over the The fog thickened. It was four strong but stained teeth. He wore a o'clock in the afternoon. London was rough suit of dark-blue cloth, old and only some thirty miles away. The train shabby, and over it a thick, short over- gave a jolt as it passed over the points coat of the same color. His high bowler of Woking junction. The old man hat was on the rack. His grizzled hair awoke.
'Dirrty weather! A lee shore and no-' He pulled himself together, a look of caution crept into his eyes. 'What was I saying, mates?'
'Only passing a remark about the weather,' the girl told him.
"That all?' The old man seemed relieved. 'I forgets myself sometimes. No one ought n't to go talking about their private affairs in a railway carriage, mates.'
'You're right there, old dear,' the actress agreed. 'It's not a thing I should think of doing myself.'
'You must excuse of me, talking like that. I'ma ole man. A ole man what's seen a deal of life in ees time.' He seemed to be getting drowsy again. 'Ess, a deal o' life.' Suddenly he straightened his great form: 'Lived,' he said, clearly and loudly, 'lived to see ole England go to the dogs.'
Phillips bristled. 'England is a very great and victorious country, sir.'
'Eh! What! What's that you're saying? Ess, ess,' the old man raised his head again. 'Dogs,' he said, 'Jewish dogs. That's what I tell you.' Again his mind seemed to wander. 'A lee shore,' he muttered, 'an' a thick night o' fog.'
The actress bent forward a little and smiled at him. 'I know who'll be on a lee shore if we 're late getting into Waterloo,' she said cheerfully, ‘and that's this child.'
The old man turned toward her. A gleam in his eye and a slight gesture of his whole body acknowledged that he was speaking to a woman, and she young. 'You in a hurry?' he asked. 'Sure, train would hurry up if her knowed. There's none of us won't crowd on a bit of sail to please a purty maid. I'm hoping myself 't won't be so very long before we gets in. I've got a appointment, I 'ave. A appointment at half-past five.'
He rose as he spoke. The great bulk
VOL. 388-NO. 4258
of him bent low in the carriage. He took his shabby black bag from the rack, and sat down with the bag on his knees. His hands fumbled as he opened it. He took out a flask of spirits and a large old-fashioned revolver. He set the revolver down very carefully on the seat by his side and unscrewed the top of the flask. The smell of brandy floated on the air.
"Ave a drink, mates,' the old man offered. "T is good stuff for a dirrty night!'
Both the officers refused. He filled the cup of the flask and tossed off a great draught with a nod of his head toward the pretty actress. The neat spirit seemed to wake him up.
'A good drink, and a good gun, mates,' he said, and, picking up the revolver, he handled it caressingly, drawing his great thumb down the metal polished by many a hand-grip. 'This ole gun's killed many a man in its time.'
'Killed men, has it?' The actress spoke with light, half-amused interest, while the two young officers stared at the old weapon with fascinated gaze.
'Ess, to be sure! More 'n one, up there in Chiney when I was a young boy. They with their pigtails! And a white man gone native on the Barbary coast. Wanted killing, he did! And blacks and cannibals in them islands off Australey. And a sight of others more than I can bring to mind these days. A man o' my years can't keep tally o' every man he's killed. Stands to reason, mates.' The gray eyes shot а. hostile look around the carriage as if their owner expected to be asked to account, then and there, for the number of his slain.
'Off Australia, that's the Pacific Islands! I've always heard there was a lot of German influence there,' Phillips said.
'Oh, give it a rest, you and your influ