"No," he said, "that is an objection. That is a serious objection. I see no way out."

There was a general silence for a while. Then Hawkins said:

"It seems to me that if we mixed the three ramifications together--"

The earl grasped him by the hand and shook it gratefully.

"It solves the whole problem," he said. "One ship, one funeral, one grave, one monument--it is admirably conceived. It does you honor, Major Hawkins, it has relieved me of a most painful embarrassment and distress, and it will save that poor stricken old father much suffering. Yes, he shall go over in one basket."

"When?" asked the wife.

"To-morrow-immediately, of course."

"I would wait, Mulberry."

"Wait? Why?"

"You don't want to break that childless old man's heart."

"God knows I don't!"

"Then wait till he sends for his son's remains. If you do that, you will never have to give him the last and sharpest pain a parent can know-- I mean, the certainty that his son is dead. For he will never send."

"Why won't he?"

"Because to send--and find out the truth--would rob him of the one precious thing left him, the uncertainty, the dim hope that maybe, after all, his boy escaped, and he will see him again some day."

"Why Polly, he'll know by the papers that he was burnt up."

"He won't let himself believe the papers; he'll argue against anything and everything that proves his son is dead; and he will keep that up and live on it, and on nothing else till he dies. But if the remains should actually come, and be put before that poor old dim-hoping soul--"

"Oh, my God, they never shall! Polly, you've saved me from a crime, and I'll bless you for it always. Now we know what to do. We'll place them reverently away, and he shall never know."

CHAPTER X.

The young Lord Berkeley, with the fresh air of freedom in his nostrils, was feeling invincibly strong for his new career; and yet--and yet--if the fight should prove a very hard one at first, very discouraging, very taxing on untoughened moral sinews, he might in some weak moment want to retreat. Not likely, of course, but possibly that might happen. And so on the whole it might be pardonable caution to burn his bridges behind him. Oh, without doubt. He must not stop with advertising for the owner of that money, but must put it where he could not borrow from it himself, meantime, under stress of circumstances. So he went down town, and put in his advertisement, then went to a bank and handed in the $500 for deposit.

"What name?"

He hesitated and colored a little; he had forgotten to make a selection. He now brought out the first one that suggested itself:

"Howard Tracy."

When he was gone the clerks, marveling, said:

"The cowboy blushed."

The first step was accomplished. The money was still under his command and at his disposal, but the next step would dispose of that difficulty. He went to another bank and drew upon the first bank for the 500 by check. The money was collected and deposited a second time to the credit of Howard Tracy. He was asked to leave a few samples of his signature, which he did. Then he went away, once more proud and of perfect courage, saying:

"No help for me now, for henceforth I couldn't draw that money without identification, and that is become legally impossible. No resources to fall back on. It is work or starve from now to the end. I am ready--and not afraid!"

Then he sent this cablegram to his father:

"Escaped unhurt from burning hotel. Have taken fictitious name. Goodbye."

During the, evening, while he was wandering about in one of the outlying districts of the city, he came across a small brick church, with a bill posted there with these words printed on it: "MECHANICS' CLUB DEBATE. ALL INVITED." He saw people, apparently mainly of the working class, entering the place, and he followed and took his seat. It was a humble little church, quite bare as to ornamentation. It had painted pews without cushions, and no pulpit, properly speaking, but it had a platform.

The American Claimant Page 27

Mark Twain

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