I don't know who you are. I only suppose--but no doubt correctly--that you are the gentleman whose title is on the doorplate."
"Right, quite right--sit down, pray sit down." The earl was rattled, thrown off his bearings, his head was in a whirl. Then he noticed Hawkins standing apart and staring idiotically at what to him was the apparition of a defunct man, and a new idea was born to him. He said to Tracy briskly:
"But a thousand pardons, dear sir, I am forgetting courtesies due to a guest and stranger. Let me introduce my friend General Hawkins--General Hawkins, our new Senator-Senator from the latest and grandest addition to the radiant galaxy of sovereign States, Cherokee Strip"--(to himself, "that name will shrivel him up!"--but it didn't, in the least, and the Colonel resumed the introduction piteously disheartened and amazed),-- "Senator Hawkins, Mr. Howard Tracy, of--er--"
"England!--Why that's im--"
"England, yes, native of England."
"Recently from there?"
"Yes, quite recently."
Said the Colonel to himself, "This phantom lies like an expert. Purifying this kind by fire don't work. I'll sound him a little further, give him another chance or two to work his gift." Then aloud--with deep irony--
"Visiting our great country for recreation and amusement, no doubt. I suppose you find that traveling in the majestic expanses of our Far West is--"
"I haven't been West, and haven't been devoting myself to amusement with any sort of exclusiveness, I assure you. In fact, to merely live, an artist has got to work, not play."
"Artist!" said Hawkins to himself, thinking of the rifled bank; "that is a name for it!"
"Are you an artist?" asked the colonel; and added to himself, "now I'm going to catch him."
"In a humble way, yes."
"What line?" pursued the sly veteran.
"I've got him!" said Sellers to himself. Then aloud, "This is fortunate. Could I engage you to restore some of my paintings that need that attention?"
"I shall be very glad. Pray let me see them."
No shuffling, no evasion, no embarrassment, even under this crucial test. The Colonel was nonplussed. He led Tracy to a chromo which had suffered damage in a former owner's hands through being used as a lamp mat, and said, with a flourish of his hand toward the picture--
"This del Sarto--"
"Is that a del Sarto?"
The colonel bent a look of reproach upon Tracy, allowed it to sink home, then resumed as if there had been no interruption--
"This del Sarto is perhaps the only original of that sublime master in our country. You see, yourself, that the work is of such exceeding delicacy that the risk--could--er--would you mind giving me a little example of what you can do before we--"
"Cheerfully, cheerfully. I will copy one of these marvels."
Water-color materials--relics of Miss Sally's college life--were brought. Tracy said he was better in oils, but would take a chance with these. So he was left alone. He began his work, but the attractions of the place were too strong for him, and he got up and went drifting about, fascinated; also amazed.
Meantime the earl and Hawkins were holding a troubled and anxious private consultation. The earl said:
"The mystery that bothers me, is, where did It get its other arm?"
"Yes--it worries me, too. And another thing troubles me--the apparition is English. How do you account for that, Colonel?"
"Honestly, I don't know, Hawkins, I don't really know. It is very confusing and awful."
"Don't you think maybe we've waked up the wrong one?"
"The wrong one? How do you account for the clothes?"
"The clothes are right, there's no getting around it. What are we going to do? We can't collect, as I see. The reward is for a one-armed American. This is a two-armed Englishman."
"Well, it may be that that is not objectionable. You see it isn't less than is called for, it is more, and so,--"
But he saw that this argument was weak, and dropped it. The friends sat brooding over their perplexities some time in silence.