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Dolphin's Holiday Story

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"I teil yon, Burt, tliis business must be done to-night. Ain't I master of the show ? Blanae me if I'll stand the nonsense of this darnation Britisher any longer !" " And I'll try my luok with his little English beauty at the same time," I heard MeDougall add to himself as he crossed the stage and followed Burt out of the hall. What could he mean ? Perhaps ï mightn't havo been too straight-laced. I had been too long in the profession for that. But the dark allusion to the bright little lady of our company at once fllled me with suspicion. Maybe you've eeen the sea-lion at the "Zoo," swaying hiraself right and left in anxiom expeotntion of catching a palatable whiting from his keeper ? Well, my anxiety impellod me to spring half out of my tub, to sway to and fro in a similar fashion, and to send a quick glanee through the stage-door at the retreating figures of McDougall and Burt. I could see the snow lay thick on the ground, and it was yet snowing. And across tho lañe I could just make out Abram Lake standing at the open door of his friend's shauty. Then the stagedoor was slammed fast, and I should have been in complete darkness had not a faint light from a window opposite me relieved the gloom somewhat. The sight of Abram Lake reassured me a bit. Somehow or other I had come 0 think he was well-inclined toward my avorite manager, Mr. Martin, and his young and pretty wife. Who could help being won indeed by Bessie Martin? I couldn't, for one. There was such a tender, trustful look in ñer laughing blue eyes that one was compelled to surrender at discretion. She was frank to the verge of flirting, 1 now and then thonght, when others were favored by her smiles and sweet speeches. And I sometimes feit an uncomfortable feeling come over me when Martin, poor man ! bewildered over head and ears with hard work, seemed to neglect his fairy of a wife, and gave McDougall more opportunities than was prudent of being in Bessie's company. McDougall, it could not be denied, was a good-looking, well-dressed man. Whether his attentions were agreeable to Bessie or whether she cheerfully endured them for politie reasons I couldn't quite make out. He used generally to be close handy when she - our one musician - deftly plied her busy fingers and drew the sweetest music pop.sible from our rather-crazy piano, while I went through the tricks which used to draw hundreds every night to see the " performing dolphin" at Henryburgh. He would turn over the pages of her ; book, and, bending low, would always be whispering something in her ear. Had he been all the time leading up to the outrage which he might even now be attempting ? Were the differences that had existed between McDougall and Martin throughout our tour in the States on the point of being settled by violence ? Martin had my heartiest' sympathy. Still, it was impossible for me to do aught but wait and be on the alert for whatever might happen. Faintly, as a distant chime, the merry tinkling of the sleigh-bells stole now and again into the silent hall, and told me the good folk of Henryburgh wera speeding home from their bracing ride over the snow. Then all was quiet, till I heard the sound of footsteps in the lane, and the murmur of voices. My heart alraost ceased to beat, so anxiouely was I listening. But for hours all was silente. Twelve o'clock, 1 o'clock chimed. The moonlight at length gleamed through the window, lighting up my little platform and the cannon which surmounted it, and which it was my crowning duty to fire as the finale of my performance of a night. Two o'clock had not long struck when I heard a rustling noise outside, and soon after saw a black object appear at the window. It was the face of Burt. Evidently the " business" was aboutto be attempted by McDougall's tooi. I instinctively leapt out on the stage. Simultaneously the window was raieed by Burt, and he thrust his head in. My mind was instantly made up. I was convinced that this burglarious visïtation boded no good to Martin; and it flashed upon me there was only one means of awakening Martin's friend Abram Lake. An inclined plank led up to my cannon. Up this I wobbled as Burt had almost entered the window. Quick as thonght I snapped at the string with my teeth and gave a smart pull. The usual flash and report followed. And, looking up, I had the satisfaction of seeing Burt, his face white with the scare, hastily withdraw his body through the window, and disappear ratber more suddenly tban he carne. Th stage door vu opened b miuufce later. Hnppily my ruse liad succeeded. By the light of the lantern carried by one of the new arrivals I reoognized Mr. Martin and Abram Lake. "Nothing's missing, Abram," said Martin - I can see kis tall, manly figure and pale, bearded face before me now - holding up his lantern and giving a quiok glance round, till kis eyes rested on me with a kind of puzzled look. ' ' But what the diokens does Dolph up tkere ?" " Wal, I guess Master Dolph hes been having a kinder rekearsal all to himself, and ke's jest flred a volley, I bet, to rouse us, the young varmint ! Anyway, it's kinder freezing in this hyre place ; and I move we make tracks back to my friend Jaker's stove." "Not y et, Lake; depend üpon it, Dolph's not done this without good cause. Look ! that window's open. Let's reconnoiter outside ! Down, Dolph, down, sir !" They were not absent long. The first thing Martin did on kis return was to pat me on the head and hand me a second bountiful supply of fish when I was oomfortably installed in my tub, Lake tho meanwhile making it plain to me, f rom what he said to Mr. Martin, that they knew almost as much as I did as to McDougall's designs, and as to tke attempt that hau been made by Burt. " Calcúlate," ke said, "I'll jest have a shot at the durned thief if he tries his little game on again to-night. Dnru me if tket warn't the cleverest performance thet fisk hes gone through ! It's clear thet the thief crept up tke lañe like a cat - ain't we seen his trail in tke snow? - got up to thet window with a ladder, and was jest a going to sneak in when Dolph kinder scared him and roused us at the same time. I'll let all Henryburgh know it before noon. And all tke week yoïi'll kev crowded houses, Mister Martin." "Ay, but you're reckoning without McDougall. He has tke audacity to claim tke skow as kis own. I may as well teil you my position in a fewwords, Lake. Dolpk was originally tke property of my governor, Mr. Bailey, an Englishman. I carne across to tke States as kis manager, and found tkat Mr. Bailey kad entered into partnerskip with this scoundrel, McDougall, who professed to know all the ins and outs of the show business in this country. Bailey, being suddenly called back to England, left me as "manager, and by deed of attorney entitled me to receive kalf the profits of every exkibition on kis bekalf. But no sooner had he sailed tkan McDougall tried all he knew to get tke skow entirely into kis own kancis. He used kis own name in tke bilis and in tke advertisements. Over and over again he has tried to get possession of the treasury in full. Over and over agaiu I have only frustrated his tricks by virlue of a magistrate's order. We had a few words after the performance to-night, and from the threats he let drop I fcel sure he will rnake an attempt to remove Dolpk bodily before morning. Henee your aid is very welcome, indeed, Lake !" "Wal, sir, I won't stop to teil you now what made me offer you the help of Abram Lake. If you'll follow my advice you'll jest come back along with me to Dick Jaker's over the waj. We skell be warmer than we are hyar. We wijl leave the door ajar and ketck the durned thief ef ke tries it on again !" So I was somewkat easier when they departed, for I knew keen ears woukl be listening for Burt's return, and I feit I could have a quiet doze in safety. I must have slept isomehours. Seven o'clock struck when I awoke. A little afterward I heard a door slam in the lañe, and a cheeiy " Good morning, Dolph," in Mr. Martin's familiar voice, stole in at the window, telling me his watck was at an end. Tkere could be nothing to fear, gurely, now. It was daylight. Tke people were out and about in tke main street of Henryburgk. The sleigh-bells were ringing - ringing ia Christmas, mayhap, for tkat evening would be Christmas eve, and I don't mind comeesing tke anticipation of a good glass of Cbristmas punck kad sometking to do with my dozing off again - not for many minutes, tkongh ! I awoke with a kazy notion tkat some one kad broken iiito tke kall. Tke next moment I was in complete darkness. Something had been thrown over my tub. In vain I attempted to thrust my kead through. The tub, enveloped in matting, was lif ted from tke stage and borne out of tbe kall in spite of my struggles to escape. There could be no doubt I had at length fallen into tke kandsof the Philistines, and was being carried off bodily - wkither I could not ! imagine. We must have been fully two hours' drive from Henryburgh when an oath escaped my driver. Beyond question Burt was my captor. He lasked his korses into a mad gallop. The sleigh seemed to fly over the snow. Was be pureued ? I listened intently, but could hear nothing but the smack of Burt's whip, and tke tkud-thud of the horses' hoofs and the wkirring noise of the sleigk. A skot ! Fresk curses from Burt ! Kescue seemed nigk ; but, alas ! our speed did but increase. Tke fligkt and pursuit continued til] the sleigh was brought to a radden pause, and my keart gave a joyous leap wken I recognized tke voice of Abram Lake. "Look ye, hyar, stranger," said Abram, in kis ouiet, resolute way, "ii ye don't jest turn tkemkorses round anc kim back to Henryburgk with me, IT send a bullet tkrough your darnec kead ! Ye'd best be quiok, now. Look at this hyar warrant, and kim back with thet fisk to Henryburgk !" " Check, McDougall !" I chuokled as we shortly after returned to tke hall, and Burt kad the pleasure of restoring me to the stage before surreuderinj himself into the custody of the pólice. But I was halloing before we were out of the wood ! Mr. Martin presently entered with a face whiter tkan ever It brigktened up a little at tke sigkt o me. "Bravo, Lake !" he said, " I have to thank you, and I do so with all m; heart, for bringing Dolph safely back If I could only get a satisfaotory tele gram from the goveraor in England al might go well now." " What telegram ?" "Oh, I forgot. You startedinpuT snit before the summons against me was issued. In answer to my charge agains him for larceny McDougall aocused me of perjury, and the confounded Mayor committed me, giving me the option o paying $2,000 bail or going to jail. I 1 was only let off for an hour or two by depositing all the ready cash I have i $800. If the answer to my telegram áoesn't come soon, Lake, I shall have to Ïo to prison, and the ehowil! be ju MoougU's bands," "Worse! the villain may rob me of something far dearer than mere means ofliving !" muttered Martin to himself through his clenched teetli, unheard by any one save myself. His fair little wife entered at that moment, and the dingy hall seemed to me all sunshiny, and I confidontly looked np to see her glad smile reflected in his face. But his face wjs etern and white. Presently I heard her sweet voice asking, "Whatever has happened, Will?" and I knew a little form was ncstling up to him, and a pair of violet eyes were fondly questioning him. Abram Lake had quietly slipped out into the lane and loft theni alone. " Happened ?" came the passionate reply, as if the stricken man oould bear his trials no longer. " Only this. All I have lived and toiled for is slipping from me. The woman I loved - " "Will!" "Yes, you ! Don't think your lovepassages with McDougall have escaped my notice. He is my worst enemy; yet this morning I found you in earnest conversation with him." " Yes, Will," was the impetuous roply of the young wife; " it was orly this morning the villain appeared in his trae colors. I confesa I had taken his smiling face and attentions to mean mere courtesy. But he had the shamelessness to insult me with a base proposal to-day, Will. I only stopped to give him an indignant answer - indeed, that was all, Will, and then he hinted you were in peril, Will. What did he mean? Do teil me, dearest. Confide in me ! Would that you had conflded in me before ! Then I should never, never have permitted the man to remain in my company a minute !" "Can this be true?" was the doubtful response. " Where were you, then, when I returced home this morning ?" " Whar !" was the loud, bluft' answer that called their attention to the gaunt form of Abram Lake, who had hastily entered holding a letter in hie hand". "Why, the dear lady - the kindest sister of mercy that ever breathed on ttiis hyar airth - was nursing my sick wife, Mr. Martin, and, thank God, she has brought her round. Guess I shouldn't hev gone heart and soul, man, into yer troubles - guegs I shouldn't have rode till I was fit to drop from the saddle, if it hadn't been for that little angel thyar." " My darling, forgive mo !" was the sof tened appeal of the strong man, ashe clasped the little loving woman to his heart, adding, with a kind of sobbing laugh, " Oonfound that Dolph ! He's splashed some water in my eyes." "Forgive me, Bessie!"herepeated, in a tremulous whisper. "The truth is, I have been utterly worn out in mind and body by the treachery of that cursed MoDougall, and I didn't like to burden you with my troubles, darling." "But you haven't told me of the peril you were in, Will," was the anxious appeal, after the kiss of forgiveness had been given. "Guess this hyar telegraph will be yer best answer, sir," broke in Abram, as he handed the message to Mr. Martin. With a hopeful look on his worn face the manager tore open the envelope and read: Have placed $4,000 to your credit. Draw at nee ou Goodwiu & Co., of Henryburgb. Will ome myself by next steamer. Keep McDouall out of tbe show till 1 come. " Thank Heaven ! We're well clear f this McDougall at last, Bessie. I'm n no peril now, dearest. Abram, I'll ïave this telegram posted throughout lenryburgh. We shall have the bigest house the town has ever seen. And rou and my wife and Dolph shall spend true English Ohristmas evetogether!" - London Dramatic News.


Old News
Michigan Argus