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Chapter 18


CHAPTER XVIII.

THE ladies of the Wainwright party had not complained
at all when deprived of even such civilised advantages as a
shelter and a knife and fork and soap and water, but Mrs.
Wainwright complained bitterly amid the half-civilisation of
Arta. She could see here no excuse for the absence of several
hundred things which she had always regarded as essential to
life. She began at 8.30 A. M. to make both the professor and
Marjory woeful with an endless dissertation upon the beds in
the hotel at Athens. Of course she had not regarded them at
the time as being exceptional beds * * * that was quite true, *
* * but then one really never knew what one was really missing
until one really missed it * * * She would never have thought
that she would come to consider those Athenian beds as
excellent * * * but experience is a great teacher * * * makes-
one reflect upon the people who year in and year out have no
beds at all, poor things. * * * Well, it made one glad if one did
have a good bed, even if it was at the time on the other side of
the world. If she ever reached it she did not know what could
ever induce her to leave it again. * * * She would never be
induced---

"'Induced!'" snarled the professor. The word represented to
him a practiced feminine misusage of truth, and at such his
white warlock always arose. "" Induced!' Out of four American
women I have seen lately, you seem to be the only one who
would say that you had endured this thing because you had
been 'induced' by others to come over here. How absurd!"

Mrs. Wainwright fixed her husband with a steely eye. She
saw opportunity for a shattering retort. " You don't mean,
Harrison, to include Marjory and I in the same breath with
those two women? "

The professor saw no danger ahead for himself. He merely
answered: " I had no thought either way. It did not seem
important."

" Well, it is important," snapped Mrs. Wainwright.

" Do you know that you are speaking in the same breath of
Marjory and Nora Black, the actress? "

" No," said the professor. " Is that so ? " He was astonished,
but he was not aghast at all. "Do you mean to say that is Nora
Black, the comic opera star ? "

" That's exactly who she is," said Mrs. Wainwright,
dramatically. " And I consider that-I consider that Rufus
Coleman has done no less than-misled us."

This last declaration seemed to have no effect upon the
professor's pure astonishment, but Marjory looked at her
mother suddenly. However, she said no word,
exhibiting again that strange and, inscrutable countenance
which masked even the tiniest of her maidenly emotions.

Mrs. Wainwright was triumphant, and she immediately set
about celebrating her victory. " Men never see those things,"
she said to her husband. " Men never see those things. You
would have gone on forever without finding out that your-your-
hospitality was, being abused by that Rufus Coleman."

The professor woke up." Hospitality ?" he said,
indignantly. " Hospitality ? I have not had any
hospitality to be abused. Why don't you talk sense?
It is not that, but-it might-" He hesitated and
then spoke slowly. " It might be very awkward. Of
course one never knows anything definite about such
people, but I suppose * * * Anyhow, it was strange
in Coleman to allow her to meet us. "

"It Was all a pre-arranged plan," announced the
triumphant Mrs. Wainwright. " She came here on putpose
to meet Rufus Coleman, and he knew it, and I should not
wonder if they had not the exact spot picked out where
they were going to meet."

"I can hardly believe that," said the professor, in distress.
"I can, hardly believe that. It does, not seem to me that
Coleman--"

" Oh yes. Your dear Rufus Coleman," cried Mrs.
Wainwright. " You think he is very fine now. But
I can remember when you didn't think---"

And the parents turned together an abashed look at their
daughter. The professor actually flushed with shame. It seemed
to him that he had just committed an atrocity upon the heart of
his child. The instinct of each of them was to go to her and
console her in their arms. She noted it immediately, and seemed
to fear it. She spoke in a clear and even voice.  " I don't think,
father, that you should distress me by supposing that I am
concerned at all if Mr. Coleman cares to get Nora Black over
here."

" Not at all," stuttered the professor. " I---"

Mrs. Wainwright's consternation turned suddenly to, anger.
" He is a scapegrace. A rascal. A-- a--"

" Oh," said Marjory, coolly, " I don't see why it isn't his own
affair. He didn't really present her to you, mother, you
remember? She seemed quite to force her way at first, and then
you-you did the rest. It should be very easy to avoid her, now
that we are out of the wilderness. And then it becomes a private
matter of Mr. Coleman's. For my part, I rather liked her. I don't
see such a dreadful calamity."

"Marjory!" screamed her mother. "How dreadful. Liked her!
Don't let me hear you say such shocking things."

" I fail to see anything shocking," answered Marjory,
stolidly.

The professor was looking helplessly from his    
daughter to his wife, and from his wife to his daughter,
like a man who was convinced that his troubles
would never end. This new catastrophe created a
different kind of difficulty, but he considered that the
difficulties were as robust as had been the preceding
ones. He put on his hat and went out of the room.
He felt an impossibility of saying anything to
Coleman, but he felt that he must look upon him. He
must look upon this man and try to know from his
manner the measure of guilt. And incidentally he
longed for the machinery of a finished society which
prevents its parts from clashing, prevents it with its
great series of I law upon law, easily operative but
relentless. Here he felt as a man flung into the jungle
with his wife and daughter,
where they could become the victims of any sort of savagery.
His thought referred once more to what he considered the invaluable
services of Coleman, and as he observed them in conjunction
with the present accusation, he was simply dazed. It was then
possible that one man could play two such divergent parts. He
had not learned this at Washurst. But no; the world was not
such a bed of putrefaction. He would not believe it; he would
not believe it.

After adventures which require great nervous en. durance, it
is only upon the second or third night that the common man
sleeps hard. The students had expected to slumber like dogs on
the first night after their trials. but none slept long, And few
slept.

Coleman was the first man to arise. When he left the room
the students were just beginning to blink. He took his
dragoman among the shops and he bought there all the little
odds and ends which might go to make up the best breakfast in
Arta. If he had had news of certain talk he probably would not
have been buying breakfast for eleven people. Instead, he
would have been buying breakfast for one. During his absence
the students arose and performed their frugal toilets.
Considerable attention was paid to Coke by the others. " He
made a monkey of you," said Peter Tounley with unction. " He
twisted you until you looked like a wet, grey rag. You had
better leave this wise guy alone."

It was not the night nor was it meditation that had taught
Coke anything, but he seemed to have learned something from
the mere lapse of time. In appearance he was subdued, but he
managed to make a temporary jauntiness as he said : " Oh, I
don't know."

" Well, you ought to know," said he who was called Billie.
"You ought to know. You made an egregious snark of
yourself. Indeed, you sometimes resembled a boojum. Anyhow,
you were a plain chump. You exploded your face about
something of which you knew nothing, and I'm damned if I
believe you'd make even a good retriever."

"You're a half-bred water-spaniel," blurted Peter Tounley.
"And," he added, musingly, "that is a pretty low animal."

Coke was argumentative. "Why am I? " he asked, turning his
head from side to side. " I don't see where I was so wrong."

" Oh, dances, balloons, picnics, parades and ascensions,"
they retorted, profanely. " You swam voluntarily into water that
was too deep for you. Swim out. Get dry. Here's a towel."

Coke, smitten in the face with a wet cloth rolled into a ball,
grabbed it and flung it futilely at a well-dodging
companion " No," he cried, " I don't see it. Now look here. I
don't see why we shouldn't all resent this Nora Black
business."

One student said: "Well, what's the matter with Nora B lack,
anyhow ?"

Another student said "I don't see how you've been issued
any license to say things about Nora Black."

Another student said dubiously: " Well, he knows her well."

And then three or four spoke at once. " He was very badly
rattled when she appeared upon the scene."

Peter Tounley asked: "Well, which of you people know
anything wrong about Nora Black? "

There was a pause, and then Coke said: " Oh, of course-I
don't know-but-"

He who was called Billie then addressed his com- panions.
" It wouldn't be right to repeat any old lie about Nora Black, and
by the same token it wouldn't be right to see old Mother
Wainwright chummin' with her. There is no wisdom in going
further than that. Old Mother Wainwright don't know that her
fair companion of yesterday is the famous comic opera star. For
my part, I believe that Coleman is simply afraid to tell her. I
don't think he wished to see Nora Black yesterday any more
than he wished to see the devil. The discussion, as I
understand itconcerned itself only with what Coleman had to
do with the thing, and yesterday anybody could see that he
was in a panic."

They heard a step on the stair, and directly Coleman entered,
followed by his dragoman. They were laden with the raw
material for breakfast. The correspondent looked keenly among
the students, for it was plain that they had been talking of him.
It, filled him with rage, and for a stifling moment he could not
think why he failed to immediately decamp in chagrin and leave
eleven orphans to whatever fate. their general incompetence
might lead them. It struck him as a deep shame that even then
he and his paid man were carrying in the breakfast. He wanted
to fling it all on the floor and walk out. Then he remembered
Marjory. She was the reason. She was the reason for
everything.

But he could not repress certain, of his thoughts. "Say, you
people," he said, icily, "  you had better soon learn to hustle for
yourselves. I may be a dragoman, and a butler, and a cook, and
a housemaid, but I'm blowed if I'm a wet nurse." In reality, he
had taken the most generous pleasure in working for the others
before their eyes had even been opened from sleep, but it was
now all turned to wormwood. It is certain that even this could
not have deviated this executive man from labour and
management. because these were his life. But he felt that he was
about to walk out of the room, consigning them all to Hades.
His glance of angry, reproach fastened itself mainly upon Peter
Tounley, because he knew that of all, Peter was the most
innocent.

Peter, Tounley was abashed by this glance. So you've
brought us something to eat, old man. That is tremendously
nice of you-we-appreciate it like everything."

Coleman was mollified by Peter's tone. Peter had had that
emotion which is equivalent to a sense of guilt, although in
reality he was speckless. Two or three of the other students
bobbed up to a sense of the situation. They ran to Coleman,
and with polite cries took his provisions from him. One dropped
a bunch of lettuce on the floor, and others reproached him with
scholastic curses. Coke was seated near the window, half
militant, half conciliatory. It was
impossible for him to keep up a manner of deadly enmity while
Coleman was bringing in his breakfast. He would have much
preferred that Coleman had not brought in his breakfast. He
would have much preferred to have foregone breakfast
altogether. He would have much preferred anything. There
seemed to be a conspiracy of circumstance to put him in the
wrong and make him appear as a ridiculous young peasant. He
was the victim of a benefaction, and he hated Coleman harder
now than at any previous time. He saw that if he stalked out
and took his breakfast alone in a cafe, the others would
consider him still more of an outsider. Coleman had expressed
himself like a man of the world and a gentleman, and Coke was
convinced that he was a superior man of the world and a
superior gentleman, but that he simply had not had words to
express his position at the proper time. Coleman was glib.
Therefore, Coke had been the victim of an attitude as well as of
a benefaction. And so he deeply hated Coleman.

The others were talking cheerfully. "What the deuce are
these, Coleman ? Sausages? Oh, my. And look at these
burlesque fishes. Say, these Greeks don't care what they eat.
Them thar things am sardines in the crude state. No ? Great
God, look at those things. Look. What? Yes, they are.
Radishes. Greek synonym for radishes."

The professor entered. " Oh," he said apologetically,
as if he were intruding in a boudoir. All his serious desire
to probe Coleman to the bottom ended in embarrassment.
Mayhap it was not a law of feeling, but it happened at any rate.
" He had come in a puzzled frame of mind, even an accusative
frame of mind, and almost immediately he found himself suffer.
ing like a culprit before his judge. It is a phenomenon of what
we call guilt and innocence.

" Coleman welcomed him cordially. " Well, professor,
good-morning. I've rounded up some things that at least may be
eaten."

" You are very good " very considerate, Mr. Coleman,"
answered the professor, hastily. " I'am sure we are much
indebted to you." He had scanned the correspondent's face,
land it had been so devoid of guile that he was fearful that his
suspicion, a base suspicion, of this noble soul would be
detected. " No, no, we can never thank you enough."

Some of the students began to caper with a sort of decorous
hilarity before their teacher. " Look at the sausage, professor.
Did you ever see such sausage " Isn't it salubrious " And see
these other things, sir. Aren't they curious " I shouldn't wonder
if they were alive. Turnips, sir? No, sir. I think they are
Pharisees. I have seen a Pharisee look like a pelican, but I have
never seen a Pharisee look like a turnip, so I think these turnips
must be Pharisees, sir, Yes, they may be walrus. We're not sure.
Anyhow, their angles are geometrically all wrong. Peter, look out."
Some green stuff was flung across the room. The professor laughed;
Coleman laughed. Despite Coke, dark-browed, sulking. and yet
desirous of reinstating himself, the room had waxed warm with
the old college feeling, the feeling of lads who seemed never to
treat anything respectfully and yet at the same time managed to
treat the real things with respect. The professor himself
contributed to their wild carouse over the strange Greek viands.
It was a vivacious moment common to this class in times of
relaxation, and it was understood perfectly.

Coke arose. " I don't see that I have any friends here," he
said, hoarsely, " and in consequence I don't see why I should
remain here."

All looked at him. At the same moment Mrs. Wainwright and
Marjory entered the room.

Stephen Crane

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