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- The World For Sale, Volume 2. - 5/28 -
Ingolby had listened to the music with a sense of being swayed by a wind which blew from all quarters of the compass at once. He loved music; it acted as a clearing-house to his mind; and he played the piano himself with the enthusiasm of a wilful amateur, who took liberties with every piece he essayed. There was something in this fellow's playing which the great masters, such as Paganini, must have had. As the music ceased, he did not speak, but remained leaning against the great red-plush barber's chair looking reflectively at the Romany. Berry, however, said to the still absorbed musician: "Where did you learn to play?"
The Romany started, and a flush crossed his face. "Everywhere," he answered sullenly.
"You've got the thing Sarasate had," Ingolby observed. "I only heard him play but once--in London years ago: but there's the same something in it. I bought a fiddle of Sarasate. I've got it now."
"Here in Lebanon?" The eyes of the Romany were burning. An idea had just come into his brain. Was it through his fiddling that he was going to find a way to deal with this Gorgio, who had come between him and his own?
"Only a week ago it came," Ingolby replied. "They actually charged me Customs duty on it. I'd seen it advertised, and I made an offer and got it at last."
"You have it here--at your house here?" asked old Berry in surprise.
"It's the only place I've got. Did you think I'd put it in a museum? I can't play it, but there it is for any one that can play. How would you like to try it?" he added to Jethro in a friendly tone. "I'd give a good deal to see it under your chin for an hour. Anyhow, I'd like to show it to you. Will you come?"
It was like him to bring matters to a head so quickly.
The Romany's eyes glistened. "To play the Sarasate alone to you?" he asked.
"That's it-at nine o'clock to-night, if you can."
"I will come--yes, I will come," Jethro answered, the lids drooping over his eyes in which were the shadows of the first murder of the created world.
"Here is my address, then." Ingolby wrote something on his visiting- card. "My man'll let you in, if you show that. Well, good-bye."
The Romany took the card, and turned to leave. He had been dismissed by the swaggering Gorgio, as though he was a servant, and he had not even been asked his name, of so little account was he! He could come and play on the Sarasate to the masterful Gorgio at the hour which the masterful Gorgio fixed--think of that! He could be--a servant to the pleasure of the man who was stealing from him the wife sealed to him in the Roumelian country. But perhaps it was all for the best--yes, he would make it all for the best! As he left the shop, however, and passed down the street his mind remained in the barber-shop. He saw in imagination the masterful Gorgio in the red-plush chair, and the negro barber bending over him, with black fingers holding the Gorgio's chin, and an open razor in the right hand lightly grasped. A flash of malicious desire came into his eyes as the vision shaped itself in his imagination, and he saw himself, instead of the negro barber, holding the Gorgio chin and looking down at the Gorgio throat with the razor, not lightly, but firmly grasped in his right hand. How was it that more throats were not cut in that way? How was it that while the scissors passed through the beard of a man's face the points did not suddenly slip up and stab the light from helpless eyes? How was it that men did not use their chances? He went lightly down the street, absorbed in a vision which was not like the reality; but it was evidence that his visit to Max Ingolby's house was not the visit of a virtuoso alone, but of an evil spirit.
As the Romany disappeared, Max Ingolby had his hand on the old barber's shoulder. "I want one of the wigs you made for that theatrical performance of the Mounted Police, Berry," he said. "Never mind what it's for. I want it at once--one with the long hair of a French-Canadian coureur-de-bois. Have you got one?"
"Suh, I'll send it round-no, I'll bring it round as I come from dinner. Want the clothes, too?"
"No. I'm arranging for them with Osterhaut. I've sent word by Jowett."
"You want me to know what it's for?"
"You can know anything I know--almost, Berry. You're a friend of the right sort, and I can trust you."
"Yeth-'ir, I bin some use to you, onct or twict, I guess."
"You'll have a chance to be of use more than ever presently."
"Suh, there's gain' to be a bust-up, but I know who's comin' out on the top. That Felix Marchand and his roughs can't down you. I hear and see a lot, and there's two or three things I was goin' to put befo' you; yeth-'ir."
He unloaded his secret information to his friend, and was rewarded by Ingolby suddenly shaking his hand warmly.
"That's the line," Ingolby said decisively. "When do you go over to Manitou again to cut old Hector Marchand's hair? Soon?"
"To-day is his day--this evening," was the reply.
"Good. You wanted to know what the wig and the habitant's clothes are for, Berry--well, for me to wear in Manitou. In disguise I'm going there tonight among them all, among the roughs and toughs. I want to find out things for myself. I can speak French as good as most of 'em, and I can chew tobacco and swear with the best."
"You suhly are a wonder," said the old man admiringly. "How you fin' the time I got no idee."
"Everything in its place, Berry, and everything in its time. I've got a lot to do to-day, but it's in hand, and I don't have to fuss. You'll not forget the wig--you'll bring it round yourself?"
"Suh. No snoopin' into the parcel then. But if you go to Manitou to-night, how can you have that fiddler?"
"He comes at nine o'clock. I'll go to Manitou later. Everything in its own time."
He was about to leave the shop when some one came bustling in. Berry was between Ingolby and the door, and for an instant he did not see who it was. Presently he heard an unctuous voice: "Ah, good day, good day, Mr. Berry. I want to have my hair cut, if you please," it said.
Ingolby smiled. The luck was with him to-day so far. The voice belonged to the Rev. Reuben Tripple, and he would be saved a journey to the manse. Accidental meetings were better than planned interviews. Old Berry's grizzled beard was bristling with repugnance, and he was about to refuse Mr. Tripple the hospitality of the shears when Ingolby said: "You won't mind my having a word with Mr. Tripple first, will you, Berry? May we use your back parlour?"
A significant look from Ingolby's eyes gave Berry his cue.
"Suh, Mr. Ingolby. I'm proud." He opened the door of another room.
Mr. Tripple had not seen Ingolby when he entered, and he recognized him now with a little shock of surprise. There was no reason why he should not care to meet the Master Man, but he always had an uncanny feeling when his eye met that of Ingolby. His apprehension had no foundation in any knowledge, yet he had felt that Ingolby had no love for him, and this disturbed the egregious vanity of a narrow nature. His slouching, corpulent figure made an effort to resist the gesture with which Ingolby drew him to the door, but his will succumbed, and he shuffled importantly into the other room.
Ingolby shut the door quietly behind him, and motioned the minister to a chair beside the table. Tripple sank down, mechanically smiling, placed his hat on the floor, and rested his hands on the table. Ingolby could not help but notice how coarse the hands were--with fingers suddenly ending as though they had been cut off, and puffy, yellowish skin that suggested fat foods, or worse.
Ingolby came to grips at once. "You preached a sermon last night which no doubt was meant to do good, but will only do harm," he said abruptly.
The flabby minister flushed, and then made an effort to hold his own.
"I speak as I am moved," he said, puffing out his lips. "You spoke on this occasion before you were moved--just a little while before," answered Ingolby grimly. "The speaking was last night, the moving comes today."
"I don't get your meaning," was the thick rejoinder. The man had a feeling that there was some real danger ahead.
"You preached a sermon last night which might bring riot and bloodshed between these two towns, though you knew the mess that's brewing."
"My conscience is my own. I am responsible to my Lord for words which I speak in His name, not to you."
"Your conscience belongs to yourself, but your acts belong to all of us. If there is trouble at the Orange funeral to-morrow it will be your fault. The blame will lie at your door."
"The sword of the Spirit--"
"Oh, you want the sword, do you? You want the sword, eh?" Ingolby's jaw was set now like a millstone. "Well, you can have it, and have it now. If you had taken what I said in the right way, I would not have done what I'm going to do. I'm going to send you out of Lebanon. You're a bad and dangerous element here. You must go."
"Who are you to tell me I must go?"
The fat hands quivered on the table with anger and emotion, but also with fear of something. "You may be a rich man and own railways, but--"
"But I am not rich and I don't own railways. Lately bad feeling has been growing on the Sagalac, and only a spark was needed to fire the ricks. You struck the spark in your sermon last night. I don't see the end of it all. One thing is sure--you're not going to take the funeral service to-morrow."
The slack red lips of the man of God were gone dry with excitement, the
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