The frontier. (O'Neill City, Holt County, Neb.) 1880-1965, September 27, 1923, Image 2

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    The Master Man
By Ruby M. Ayres
Chapter VI
Patricia stifled a scream,
starting away from Michael in
fear, then all at once she recog
nized him ; she gave a little sob
bing laugh and swayed towards
him, catching his arm in a con
vulsive grip.
“Oh, is it you! Oh, I am so
glad—I was so frightened. Oh,
you won't leave mo, will you?
•Ph.1 am so glad it’s you!”
! 'ii$r vohee^ was shaking and
hysterical; she seemed hardly to
know what she was saying she
kept looking away Jrom him
down the road along which she
had comej in tljo light of a street
lamp over tKeir lieaas Michael
could see how white she was.
He drew her hand through his
krm, pressing it reassuringly.
“X>f course, I won’t leave you
*r-I've been hunting for you all
day. Where have you been?j
What on earth possessed you to
run away like that—Patricia,
what is the matter?”
For she had broken down and
waa crying like a child.
Michael was horribly distress
ed. He looked up and down the
deserted road for inspiration.
If only one could get a taxi l The
rain was falling more heavily
now, and Patricia had only a
thin coat.
“Look hero, he said cheer
fully. “ Don’t cry, there’s a
dear! We’re getting wet
enough with the rain. My rooms
are quite close—if you don’t
mind coming in for a minute I
can get you something hot, some
coffee or something, and send
for a taxi.”
Patricia shook her head, try
ing in vain to check her sobbing.
‘I’m alright—I was frightened
—I think I lost my way—and
there was a horrid man follow
ing me . . . If you can get me a
cab, I’ll go home.”
“Home!” said Michael grim
ly. “And where is heme, may I
His very pity for her made
him irritable. It hurt him to see
this spoilt beauty as he had first
known her alone at this time of
night, and frightened and in
She answered him falteringly.
“I’m staying in rooms—just
for the present—just till I get
something to do.”
He frowned down at her
through the rain which was un
kindly adding to the general dis
comfort of the situation by set
tling into a steady downpour.
“It’s utter madness—this in-'
dependence of yours’” he began
shortly. “Why on earth you
won’t listen to reason . . . thank
the Lord, there’s a taxi.”
Michael dashed out into the
road, and Patricia heard him
arguing with the man. After a
moment he came back to her.
“It’s all right. Being a phil
anthropist he’ll take us for three
times the usual fare.” He took
her arm and helped her into the
cab. He stood with one foot on
the step waiting for her to tell
him the address.
Patricia tried to dismiss him.
' “There is no need for you to
come, Mr. Rolf—I can go alone
quite well now I have got a cab.”
i “I mean to <iome,” Michael
answered hardily.
“And if you argue the man
will only think unpleasant
things about us both, and turn
us out in the road again. Now
then—where are these rooms t”
She told him, and Michael rc
Seated the address to the driver
efore he clambered in beside
her and slammed the door.
“I suppose you know your
own busipess best,” he said, as
they drove off through the wet
streets. “But, surely to heaven
there were other and more pleas
ant neighbourhoods in which
you might have got rooms ? Why
didn’t you go to a hotel?”
“Because I can’t afford it.
I've got to earn my own living,
so I may as well get used to
things right away.”
Michael stifled an imprecation
under his breath. He felt as if
all this were his fault.
“I went down to Clayton this
morning,” he said, after a mo
metat. “And, apparently, just
missed you. Why didn’t you
leave a message to say where you
were going!”
“I didn't want you to know.”
He laughed mirthlessly.
“You seem to take a positive
delight in harrassing me and
worrying me to death,” he said.
“There is no need for you to
worry about me. I am quite
capable of looking after my
self.” she retorted.
“It looks like it,” he answer
ed. “What would you have
done to-night, for instance, if
you hadn’t met met You were
frightened to death.”
“.Because I had been followed
•—the man frightened me.”
“I’d have frightened him if
I’d have seen him.” said Michael,
grimly. “What made him follow
you! Where had you beenf”
“I had been to a threatre.
It was so lonely in—the rooms.”
A little shiver passed through
her. “I thought the evening
would never pass. I couldn’t
have stayed there alone.”
“It was better than going to
a theatre alone,” he answered.
“Other women go alone,” she
defended herself.
“Not women like yon,” he
maintained. “I don’t suppose
you’ve ever moved a yard alone
in London until today — have
“I don’t see what that's got
to do with it,” she answered
“It's got every thing to do
with it,” said Michael, He jerk
ed up the window through which
the rain was splashing. “And
next time you go, if you must
go—take a cab home instead of
trying to walk.”
"I couldn’t get one—all the
men were pushing for them out
side the theatre.”
Michael laughed ruefully.
“The the moral evidently is,
take a man with you as well,” he
After all, she was young and
a girl. If she had been his own
sister he could not have been
more worried. He hated the
thought of her being alone in
He ate a hasty meal and start
ed out again on a fresh search.
Not that he actually had any
hope of success, but it was some
thing to do, and it was often the
unexpected that happened. One
frequently read in books and
newspapers of extraordinary
meetings, and strange coinci
But at eleven o’clock he was
back in his rooms, tired and irri
When he found Patricia he
would tell her exactly what he
thought of her behaviour. She
was utterly selfish and indif
ferent to the anxiety of other
people. He hoped something
would happen to pay her out for
all the worry she had caused
He opened the door of his sit
ting room, the nstood still with a
smothered exclamation rs Ber
nard Chesney rose from a chair
and came forward.
“YouI” said Michael, blank
ly. “Good heavens! Why, I
thought you’d gone to the
Chesney flushed uncomfort
“I changed my mind.” He
paused. "I’ve been waiting for
you since eight,” he added with
a touch of irritation.
Michael laughed, he knew by
instinct Chesney had not left
England, and why he was here
“Well, I don’t know where
she is,” he said.
The two men looked hard at
one another.
“I don’t know where she is,”
Michael said again. “If you’ve
come to ask me about Patricia—
and I suppose you have?”
“Yes.” Chesney fidgeted
with his cigarette case. “I’ve
come to the conclusion that I be
haved badly to her,” he said
after a moment, with disarming
frankness. “After all, well,
dash it, it was your fault, you
“You mean that if I hadn’t
interfered you would have mar
ried her?”
“Humph ! Well, then, I’m glad
I did interfere. You’d never
have made her happy'—you’re
not suited to her ...”
“A week ago your argument
was that she would never make
me happy, and she wasn’t suited
to me!” Chesney said indig
Michael made an impatient
“Well, it’s all the same, isn’t
it?” he asked.
Chesney was not so sure; he
looked at his friend with a faint
“What do you mean? That
you don’t know where she is?”
he asked. “She’s down at Clay
ton. I suppose—isn’t shet”
“She was—yesterday morn
ing. I saw her there—but she
left to-day, and nobody seems to
knew where she’^ gone,”
Chesney was flushed and agi
tated; he had had a miserable
time since he had sent that letter
to Patricia. He loved her sin
cerely, and a thousand times he
had cursed himself for having
ever listened to Michael. What
did it matter if she married him
only for his money so long as
she did marry himf In his in
fatuation he believed that he
could be happy with Patricia in
any circumstances.
“If you’re trying to bluff
me,” he broke out angrily.,
Michael shrugged his shoul
“My dear chap, I’m not. Pa
tricia has gone away—some
where! And I’m trying to find
out where. It’s no use looking
so furious. After all, I’m not her
“You thought you were
though—a week ago,” Chesney
answered with a sneer.
Michatl laughed.
“I thought I could manage
her. Apparently I cannot; how
ever when I find her—”
“When you find her! Suppos
ing you never do f I call it scan
dalous. She hasn’t a friend in
the world now she’s lost her
money. If anything has happen
ed to her it will be your fault.”
“What the deuce do you
meant” Michael looked at his
friend with furious eyes.
“I’ve done my best for her—
Philips will tell you. I offered
her money—I offered her the
Dower House, or any other place
she might prefer.”
You might have known she d
never take it. She always was
“Proud! Well—perhaps . . J
where are you going?”
But Chesney had gone, with a
slam of the door.
“It sounds as if she is coming
downstairs now,” said Michael
There was a heavy tread on
the stairs and in the narrow pas
sage Outside.
Michale went to the door of the
sitting-room and opened it.
A short stout woman with
round scared eyes stood there.
She carried a candle in one
plump hand and a poker in the
other. She gave a loud scream
when she saw Michael.
Patricia came hastily forward.
“It’s alright, Mrs. Flannagan.
I lost my way and this gentleman
—this gentleman ...” she
floundered helplessly, realizing
the very lameness of her inabil
ity to explain Michael away.
Michael rose to the occasion
“My name is Michael Rolf,”
he said. “I have been to the
theatre with this lady. As a mat
ter. of fact, we are engaged to be
He heard the stifled exclam
ation which Patricia gave, and
he smiled grimly. That was a
distinct score for him anyway,
and he went on calmly:
“I dare say I shall often call
while Miss Rolf is here. I am
glad she has found such comfort
able rooms.”
ms reassuring smile and naif
a sovereign completed the vic
tory, and Mrs. Flannagan called
down the blessings of her patron
saint upon his head and retired.
She hoped she knew a gentle
man when she saw one, she said.
Her poor husband—rest his soul!
—had been valet to a gentleman
for twenty years, shure and he
had 1
She creaked away up the
Btairs again, and Michael looked
at Patricia.
“How dared you tell her such
a—lie?” she asked under her
breath. ,
Her eyes flashed at him furi
Michael shrugged his shoul
“It was for your sake. It was
the only thing I could think of.
What would you have preferred
me to say? That I had never
seen you before in my life?”
She flushed crimson.
“I’ll say good-night now, any
way,” Michael went on. “Or I
suppose it should be good-morn
Patricia did not answer.
“And I shall come and fetch
you away from this place tomor
row,” Michael said again.
She turned on him like a whirl
“You will not—I shall not be
“You will—if I have to walk
up and down the path outside all
night and see that you don’t run
away again,” he answered calm
ly, though his eyes were not
calm. “It may bt fun to yog-—
this absurd hide and seek busi
ness but I hate it—I’ve got some
thing else to do besides chase
about after you."
"Why don’t you do it, then?"
she retorted.
"Because for the present it
suits me not to," he answered.
•‘Aren’t you going to say good
night to mef" he submitted with
a twinkle. "Seeing that we are
For a moment she did not ans
wer, then she said:
“I will say good-night to you
if you will promise not to stay
outside all night."
"And I will promise not to
stay outside all night if you will
promise not to rush off again
in the morning," he retorted.
Her eyes met his, and the
anger in them died miserably
"Very well,” she said listless
"That is a bargain?" Michael
"1 have said so."
Michael held out his hand.
"Thank you for that, any
way," he said with sudden soft
ening. "And—may I come and
! take you out to lunch to-mor
She hestitated. Her lips were
' tremulous; she was worn out
and overwrought.
it won t be any use trying
to persuade me to leave here,"
she said with a ghost of her old
Michael laughed. He felt al
most cheerful.
"I’m not going to try. After
all, you might be in a worse
place I I dare say the old lady
will do her best to make you
comfortable. One o'clock to
morrow then—will that dot"
Patricia nodded, and Michael
turned away trying not to see
the tears that were trickling
down her cheeks.
He went back home feeling
very bad-tempered. He found a
bright fire burning, and the
comfort and luxury of his rooms
struck him as a painfnl con
trast to the surroundings in
which he had left Patricia.
He stood for a moment in
"Then the moral evidently is,
take a man with you as well," he
said. "Me, for instance."
"No, thank you."
He shrugged his shoulders.
The car was slowly down—it had
turned into narrow, dark street.
Presently the driver turned in
his seat and shouted back some
Michael let the window down
with a run and leaned out.
Patricia heard the driver ask
which side of the road it was,
and she called out nervously:—
"I don’t know—it’s 53."
Michael got out.
"I’ll find it," he said. He
walked along the roadway, the
cab following at a crawl.
Presently he stopped.
"Here it is," he said. There
was dissatisfaction in his voice,
and he looked up with a frown
at the dark face of the house.
"Shall I wait, siri" the driver
"No," said Michael.
He paid the man and dismis
sed him; he followed Patricia to
the door of the house.
Is anyone waiting up for
you?” he asked.
Patricia laughed hysterically.
“No, I should think not”—a
half sob caught her breath. “The
landlady gave me a latch-key—
here it is.”
She put it into Michael’s hand
and after striking a couple of
matches he found the key-hole
and opened the door.
An atmosphere of damp lino
leum and paraffin rushed at
them, and involuntarily he gave
a little shiver of distaste.
Patricia looked at him.
“I will say good-night,” she
said unsteadily.
Michael passed her and went
into the hall.
“You will not, till I have seen
the sort of place this is,” he said
He struck another match and
lit a gas-jet which he discovered
above his head, and by its yellow
flare he looked quickly around.
The house seemed quite clean
and tidy, but exceedingly poor;
the walls needed repapering, and
the linoleum was patched and
“My sitting-room is on the
right,” said Patricia.
She sounded very weary.
■When Michael went on ahead of
her and lit the gas in the sitting
room she followed silently and
sat down in a chair just inside
the door.
Michael stood by the table;
his tall figure seemed to crowd
the little room uncomfortably.
There was a silence, broken
only by the steady downpour of
rain outside. Then Michael said,
with a touch of hoarseness in his
"And you prefer this to me—
and what I have offered you?”
Patricia was very white, and
there was a sort of crushed look
about her. Something in the ex
pression of her eyes at that mo
ment reminded Michael foroibly
of a woman whom he had once
known out in the back of beyond
—a lady who had married a
drunken rancher, who had
beaten her and humiliated her
and brought her down to his own
bestial level.
She had looked at him with
just such proud abasement in
her eyes the first time he had
seen her, and now—as then—he
broke out:
"Why did you do it? Why, in
God’s name?”
A streak of red flushed Patri
cia’s face.
“What else could I do? I have
to live somewhere—and this is
the only sort of place I can af
Her eyes swept round the
room, with its cheap Tottenham
Court Road furniture and hide
ous pictures.
"It's clean, anyway,” she
said, and a faintly mocking smile
lit her sombre eyes as she raised
them to his.
Miohael set his teeth.
“Oh, I should like to shake
you!” he said.
“You’ve said that before,”
Patricia reminded him.
“I shall say it again,” he
answered. “And next time I
shall do it—you know what peo
ple say about the third time.”
The cheap clock on the shelf
began to strike twelve; its gong
was wheezy and discordant, and
some loose piece of mechanism
somewhere in the works jarred
in metallic fashion with every
“What sort of a woman keeps
this place!” Michael asked as
the last sound died away.
“She seems kind,” Patricia
answered reluctantly. “I think
she was rather afraid of me—
she told me she was Irish—her
name is Irish anyway—Mrs.
Flannagan. ”
the doorway looking around him
with disgust. The two saddle
bagged armchairs drawn up so
invitingly to the fire looked posi
tively bad taste, he thought, as
he took off his coat and flung
it down. There had been no
arm-chair in Patricia’s room—
no fire l
Michael remembered how de
pressing the steady downpour of
rain had sounded as he and she
stood and looked at one another
in the uncertain gaslight—he
could still hear the rain now pat
tering against the windows, and
splashing on the stone sills, but
it only seemed by contrast to
add to, the comfort and luxury
of his rooms. He went over to
the fire and sat down, on the
arm of one of the big chairs.
It was nearly one o’clock, but
he had never felt more wide
awake in his life—what was the
good of going to bed if sleep was
i5i impossibility! He wondered
if Patricia was asleep, and he
thought again of her tears,
which he had tried not to see,
and he swore under his breath
as he felt for his cigarette case.
After all, it was her own fault—
she might have had five hundred
or a thousand a year, and her
own house at Clayton, had she
only chosen to be reasonable; it
was by her own choice that she
had gone to live at Mrs. Flan
nagan’s—perhaps the experience
would do her good.
For ten minutes he smoked
hard, and tried equally hard to
persuade himself that it would
undoubtedly do her good—but
at the end of those ten minutes
he flung the stump of his cigar
ette firewards and was up on his
feet, restlessly pacing the room.
It was intensely aggravating
that Patricia should weigh on
his mind in this fashion—he
wished once again that he had
let Chesney marry her and end
ed his own responsibility. And
yet he knew that even now he
had no intention of letting Ches
ney know where he could find
Patricia—Chesney was not the
man to make Patricia happy—he
was too slavish, too ready to lie
down and allow her to walk over
In the rooms below his own,
in spite of the lateness of the
hour, some youthful spirit had
stained a gramophone going,
and the strains of a ragtime coon
song floated up to Michael Rolf
with irritating clearness as he
paced restlessly up and down:—
“When she said she lubb’d mo*f
she didn’t speak true,
So I’m off wid de ole lub, an*
on wid dp new.”
Michael listened to the sill^
words with a feeling of familiar-1
ity—where had he heard then^
before? And then all at once hot
remembered—a gramophone had]
been grinding out the same rec
ord that day at the Chesney’o
bungalow on the river when tho>
news came of Peter Rolf’s death*
A lifetime ago it seemed; and ho
thought with chagrin of Patricia
as she had been then and as she
had been when he left her an
hour ago at Mrs. Flannagan’s.
And he knew that it was flji
sheer impossibility to leave her
in those miserable surroundings.
That she would never accept
help from him he was sure. In
spite of her t rs and distress
that evening her pride was not
broken—very far from itl
Michael sat up till it was al
most light, turning over possible
and impossible schemes, and at
la^t he fell asleep in the big
chair by the dying fire and only"
awoke in broad daylight when
his man came in to pull up the
He stared incredulously at his
master’s slumbering face, then
he shrugged his shoulders and,
stooping, shook him not very
gently. Michael was on his feet
in an instant. He laughed self
consciously, meeting the man*s
reproachful gaze. t‘I was late
home,” he explained. “I sup
pose I fell asleep by the fire. Get
me a hot bath and breakfast.”
He hurried through both, and
was round at Mr. Philips' office
before Mr. Philips himself had
“Not here!” he said disgust
edly. “Why, what on earth
time does he come then?”
The office boy pointed outf
rather resentfully that it was not’
yet nine o'clock and that Mrw
Rolf was an early visitor.
- -■— —iW
(Continued Next Week
i --- *
MuMolini Buying The Pres*.
V. B. In the New Statesman. (Lon
There are now only three Inport
ant Liberal papers left In Italy—the
Corrlere della Sera of Milan, the
Stampa of Turin, and the Mondo of
Rome -for Fascist money has now
bought the Secolo of Milan In order;
to give Mussolini one more weapon
against the Corrlere and Its proprietor!
Senator Albertini.
The disappearance of the freedom
of the press Is all the more amazing'
when one remembers that even the
Corrlers della Sera Is not an opponent
but merely a critic, of the present
Nobody desires the downfall of Mu
ssolini, for chaos would then be al
most lnsrvltable. Mussolini has init
iated his experiment, and every lover
of Italy must hope that he will be
able to carry It through, however,
many enemies he makes In the pro
cess. The necessity for drastic mea
sures at the end of last year was
terribly evident. That Mussolini’*
measures are drastic is certain. But
his real test has yet to come.
If Mussolini’s Is to make Italy the
country he desires to make her—a
Prussian paradise with orange grove*
—he will have to realize that Sen
ator Albertini is not necessarily a
traitor because he believes In democ
racy, and that no country, even as
tired of weak governments as was
Italy, will put up with tyranny in
The great hope for Italy lies In the
fact that Mussolini may still realiza
that the Iron fist does not necessar
ily mean strength. Otherwise his
enemies will soon outnumber hi*
supporters and the oountry will again
be plunged into chaos.
From the Indianapolis News.
Probably those who seem to bs
determined to hare a war with Ja-!
pan will not be reasured by the the
renewal recently of the arbitration
treaty with that power, and yet the1
policy of the two nations In this
particular le one of substituting law
for war. Th« treaty was first enter
ed Into in 1908, Its duration being
limited to five years. It was renew
de in 1918, 1918 and now it la again)
renewed. It Is, to be sure, rather)
limited In scope, covering only dif->
ferences of "a legal nature, or relat-j
ing to the interpretation of treaties!
existing between the two contracting!
parties," and excluding questions af-|
fecting "the vital Interests, the inde-j
pedence or the honor of the two con
tracting states," and involving "the
interests of third parties." But,
nevertheless, the treatty is valuable.
More important—almost—than the
agreement is the peaceful spirit of
the two nations as evidenced by their
entering into it, and their renewal
of it.
But there have been other substi
tutions for war in our relations with
Japan. The naval limitation treaty
and the Pacific pact, together with
this arbitration treaty, make strongly
for peace. The motive back of all
of them, a motive Inspiring both1
nations, was an emest desire to avert'
the horrors of war. The enlightened!
policy adopted by the two govern-;
ments undoubtedly reflects the will,
of the ptople for whom they acted.
It is suggested that henceforth,
there be in both lands less talk,
about war and a great deal more;
about these treaties, and the peace-!
ful spirit of which they are the fruit.1
Nations have been talked into war,
and it is possible that they may be
again. It is good tim eto talk peace
and think peace.
Simll arabltr&tion treaties with
Great Britain and France were re
newed a short time ago, with a mod
ification—which la hoped to get nto
the Japanese treaty—that disputes
shall, with the consent of the senate,
go to the permanent court of Inter
national justice raihar than to Tha
Hague tribunal