of Gatewood's fate filled Kerns with a pleasure bordering upon melancholy.
It was his work; he had done it; it was good for Gatewood too—time
for him to stop his irresponsible cruise through life, lower sail,
heave to, set his signals, and turn over matters to this charming
And now they
would come into port together and anchor somewhere east of Fifth
Avenue—which, Kerns reflected, was far more proper a place
for Gatewood than somewhere east of Suez, where young men so often
and yet there was something melancholy in the pleasure he experienced.
Gatewood was practically lost to him. He knew what might be expected
from engaged men and newly married men. Gatewood's club life was
ended—for a while; and there was no other man with whom he
cared to embark for those brightly lighted harbors twinkling east
of Suez across the metropolitan wastes.
very generous of me to get him married," he said frequently
to himself, rather sadly. "I did it pretty well, too. It only
shows that women have no particular monopoly in the realms of diplomacy
and finesse; in fact, if a man really chooses to put his mind to
such matters, he can make it no trumps and win out behind a bum
ace and a guarded knave."
He was pleased
with himself. He followed Gatewood about explaining how good he
had been to him. An enthusiasm for marrying off his friends began
to germinate within him; he tried it on Darrell, on Barnes, on Yates,
but was turned down and severely stung.
day Harren of the Philippine Scouts turned up at the club, and they
held a determined reunion until daylight, and they told each other
all about it all and what upper-cuts life had handed out to them
since the troopship sailed.
the rosy glow had deepened to a more gorgeous hue in the room, and
the electric lights had turned into silver pinwheels; and after
they had told each other the story of their lives, and the last
siphon fizzed impotently when urged beyond its capacity, Kerns arose
and extended his hand, and Harren took it. And they executed a song
resembling "Auld Lang Syne."
man," said Kerns reproachfully, "there's one thing you
have been deuced careful not to mention, and that is about what
happened to you three years ago—"
said Harren; "there is nothing to tell, Tommy."
I never saw her again. I never shall."
long and unsteadily upon his friend; then very gravely fumbled in
his pocket and drew forth the business card of Westrel Keen, Tracer
of Lost Persons.
he said, "will be about all." And he bestowed the card
upon Harren with magnificent condescension.
five o'clock the following afternoon Harren found the card among
various effects of his, scattered over his dresser.
It took him
several days to make up his mind to pay any attention to the card
or the suggestion it contained. He scarcely considered it seriously
even when, passing along Fifth Avenue one sunny afternoon, he chanced
to glance up and see the sign
KEEN & CO.
TRACERS OF LOST PERSONS
staring him in the face.
his stroll, but that evening, upon mere impulse, he sat down and
wrote a letter to Mr. Keen.
morning's mail brought a reply and an appointment for an interview
on Wednesday week. Harren tossed the letter aside, satisfied to
let the matter go, because his leave expired on Tuesday, and the
appointment was impossible.
however, the melancholy of the deserted club affected his spirits.
A curious desire to see this Tracer of Lost Persons seized him with
a persistence unaccountable. He slept poorly, haunted with visions.
he went to see Mr. Keen. It could do no harm; it was too late to
do either harm or good, for his leave expired the next day at noon.
of Keen & Co., Tracers of Lost Persons, had grown to enormous
proportions; appointments for a personal interview with Mr. Keen
were now made a week in advance, so when young Harren sent in his
card, the gayly liveried negro servant came back presently, threading
his way through the waiting throng with pomp and circumstance, and
returned the card to Harren with the date of appointment rewritten
in ink across the top. The day named was Wednesday. On Tuesday Harren's
won't do," said the young man brusquely; "I must see Mr.
Keen to-day. I wrote last week for an appointment."
darky was polite but obdurate.
here am de 'pintment, suh," he explained persuasively.
I want to see Mr. Keen at once," insisted Harren.
ain't no use, suh," said the darky respectfully; "dey's
mi'ions an' mi'ions ob gemmen jess a-settin' roun' an' waitin' foh
Mistuh Keen. In dis here perfeshion, suh, de fustest gemman dat
has a 'pintment is de fustest gemman dat kin see Mistuh Keen. You
is a military gemman yohse'f, Cap'm Harren, an' you is aware dat
precedence am de rigger."
young man smiled, glanced at the date of appointment written on
his card, which also bore his own name followed by the letters U.S.A.,
then his amused gray eyes darkened and he glanced leisurely around
the room, where a dozen or more assorted people sat waiting their
turns to interview Mr. Keen: all sorts and conditions of people—smartly
gowned women, an anxious-browed business man or two, a fat German
truck driver, his greasy cap on his knees, a surly policeman, and
an old Irishwoman, wearing a shawl and an ancient straw bonnet.
Harren's eyes reverted to the darky.
will explain to Mr. Keen," he said, "that I am an army
officer on leave, and that I am obliged to start for Manila to-morrow.
This is my excuse for asking an immediate interview; and if it's
not a good enough excuse I must cancel this appointment, that is
stood, irresolute, inclined to argue, but something in the steel-gray
eyes of the man set him in involuntary motion, and he went away
once more with the young man's message. Harren turned and walked
back to his seat. The old woman with the faded shawl was explaining
volubly to a handsomely gowned woman beside her that she was looking
for her boy, Danny; that her name was Mrs. Regan, and that she washed
for the aristocracy of Hunter's Point at a liberal price per dozen,
using no deleterious substances in the suds as Heaven was her witness.
truck driver, moved by this confidence, was stirred to begin an
endless account of his domestic misfortunes, and old Mrs. Regan,
becoming impatient, had already begun to interrupt with an account
of Regan's recent hoisting on the wings of a premature petard, when
the dark servant reappeared.
Keen will receive you, suh," he whispered, leading the way
into a large room where dozens of attractive young girls sat very
busily engaged at typewriting machines. Door after door they passed,
all numbered on the ground-glass panes, then swung to the right,
where the darky bowed him into a big, handsomely furnished room
flooded with the morning sun. A tall, gray man, faultlessly dressed
in a gray frock suit and wearing white spats, turned from the breezy,
open window to inspect him; the lean, well groomed, rather lank
type of gentleman suggesting a retired colonel of cavalry; unmistakably
well bred from the ends of his drooping gray mustache to the last
button on his immaculate spats.
Harren?" he said pleasantly.
Young Harren drew from his pocket a card. It was the business card
of Keen & Co., and, glancing up at Mr. Keen, he read it aloud,
Co. are prepared to locate the whereabouts of anybody on earth.
No charges will be made unless the person searched for is found.
his clear, gray eyes. "I assume this statement to be correct,
may safely assume so," said Mr. Keen, smiling.
this statement include all that you are prepared to undertake?"
of Lost Persons inspected him coolly. "What more is there,
Captain Harren? I undertake to find lost people. I even undertake
to find the undiscovered ideals of young people who have failed
to meet them. What further field would you suggest?" Harren
glanced at the card which he held in his gloved hand; then, very
slowly, he re-read, "the whereabouts of anybody on earth,"
accenting the last two words deliberately as he encountered Keen's
piercing gaze again.
asked Mr. Keen laughingly, "is not that sufficient? Our clients
could scarcely expect us to invade heaven in our search for the
are other regions," said Harren.
Sit down, sir. There is a row of bookcases for your amusement. Please
help yourself while I clear decks for action."
fingering the card, his gray eyes lost in retrospection; then he
sauntered over to the bookcases, scanning the titles. The Searcher
for Lost Persons studied him for a moment or two, turned, and began
to pace the room. After a moment or two he touched a bell. A sweet-faced
young girl entered; she was gowned in black and wore a white collar,
and cuffs turned back over her hands.
this memorandum," he said. The girl picked up a pencil and
pad, and Mr. Keen, still pacing the room, dictated in a quiet voice
as he walked to and fro:
Regan's Danny is doing six months in Butte, Montana. Break it to
her as mercifully as possible. He is a bad one. We make no charge.
The truck driver, Becker, can find his wife at her mother's house,
Leonia, New Jersey. Tell him to be less pig-headed or she'll go
for good some day. Ten dollars. Mrs. M., No. 36001, can find her
missing butler in service at 79 Vine Street, Hartford, Connecticut.
She may notify the police whenever she wishes. His portrait is No.
170529, Rogues' Gallery. Five hundred dollars. Miss K. (No. 3679)
may send her letter, care of Cisneros & Co., Rio, where the
person she is seeking has gone into the coffee business. If she
decides that she really does love him, he'll come back fast enough.
Two hundred and fifty dollars. Mr. W. (No. 3620) must go to the
morgue for further information. His repentance is too late; but
he can see that there is a decent burial. The charge: one thousand
dollars to the Florence Mission. You may add that we possess his
paused and waited for the stenographer to finish. When she looked
up: "Who else is waiting?" he asked.
read over the initials and numbers.
that policeman that Kid Conroy sails on the Carania to-morrow. Fifty
dollars. There is nothing definite in the other cases. Report progress
and send out a general alarm for the cashier inquired for by No.
3608. You will find details in vol. xxxix under B."
that all, Mr. Keen?"
I'm going to be very busy with"—turning slowly toward
Harren—"with Captain Harren, of the Philippine Scouts,
until to-morrow—a very complicated case, Miss Borrow, involving
cipher codes and photography—"