The Edge of the Ripple

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The Edge of the Ripple


LEWIS paced the bridge and gazed upon the lake. He was armed with a 22-caliber repeating rifle which occasionally he let off whenever one of the huge fish, floating belly up, came within range. At such times he turned out the whole magazine, and when he succeeded in puncturing the swollen carcass, he evidenced a disproportionate and savage joy. The 22-caliber rifle and the fish were his only nervous outlets, and Lewis was near explosion. The calm of his demeanor was supreme—and hollow.

He had good reason. The sweatbath atmosphere, for one thing; the ultra-violet rays of a vertical sun, for another; an ill-charted, little navigated, rock-strewn coast for a third; hippos that blew violently to make one jump, a full deckload of native passengers, and a native crew that after two years' training remained sweetly convinced that "do-it-now" was a motto never conceived for Africa, even on a steamboat. By long practice Lewis had become fairly expert at foreseeing contingencies. He could issue his orders far enough ahead—like shooting cross-flying ducks. But when the unexpected happened—some day would come a real emergency demanding instant action, and then—O Lord—!

Lewis punctured his eighth fish, sent the remaining pellets in his magazine at a cynical crocodile, and laid the weapon in its rack. Behind him the steersman leaned on the wheel. The steersman's head was shaved like a fancy hedge; he wore a jam-pot in the distended lobe of one ear and a tobacco-tin in the other; glistening with oil, his naked, red-brown skin set off pleasingly his necklets and armlets of polished brass; a bead band encircled his waist. He manipulated the wheel indifferently with hands or prehensile toes. He was quite a good steersman, but Lewis gazed on him with distaste.

"When we go between the islands," he said in the Swahili language, "keep the white float on the left-hand side. Understand?"

"Yes, bwana," replied the steersman.

"I wouldn't bet on it, you blighter," muttered Lewis, making his way aft along the raised platform that continued the level of the bridge. This was covered by a double awning. On it stood a table and a number of lazy chairs of teakwood. Here in a little upper world above the welter of freight and natives dwelt day and night continuously whatever white men might be aboard.

It was this morning occupied by a single individual, a bearded man with a quick, dancing eye. He had come aboard at Balaka accompanied by a number of elephant tusks, a small pile of battered baggage, and two native servants. Evidently he knew the ropes, for he made his way promptly to the upper quarters, and established himself in comfort.

"We may as well have tiffin," said Lewis, dropping heavily into a chair. "We're out of the rocks." He filled and lighted a pipe. Two or three deep puffs seemed to calm him. "Nothing ahead for an hour but the passage between the islands. And that's simple. One mud bar, but last passage I dropped a buoy on that. Rather proud of that buoy—first on the lake!"

The elephant-hunter nodded without speaking. Lewis went on with the volubility of a nervous man.

"Ought to chart this lake properly. No excuse for letting us barge along regardless. Boy!" he shouted, "lete chakula maramoja!"

While awaiting the arrival of lunch in accord with this last command, he leaned back gazing at the passing shores.

They were high, barren, untropical looking, with rocky points reaching far out and indentations reaching deep in. On the rocks crocodiles sunned themselves. The smoke of villages arose inland, and the brush weirs and dugout canoes of the native fishermen could be seen. On the other side was the open lake, like an ocean.

The ship's prow swung. She headed for what was apparently the solid shore. At the last moment a portion of the latter detached itself to disclose a passage. Lewis arose and stepped forward for a look.

"My buoy is there right enough," he reported with satisfaction. "Great relief!"

The shores drew near, closed around them. Beehive roofs of native thatched huts could be seen, and blotches of dull color that would prove to be compact herds of humped cattle. A black boy dressed in a single gownlike garment of spotless white climbed the companion carrying a tray.

"Tiffin!" cried Lewis with satisfaction.

The ship stopped short with a dull thud. Under the impact the black boy plunged across the deck and plastered his trayful of food against the back of the pilot-house. Lewis and the elephant-hunter fell out of their chairs, which tipped over on top of them. There ensued a dense silence, almost immediately broken by a pandemonium of shrieks and yells from the lower deck.

White with fury, Lewis scrambled to his feet and in three bounds was inside the pilot-house and at the helmsman's throat.

"You black imp of the devil!" he yelled in English. "You just wouldn't do as you were told, would you! Why didn't you do as I told you?" he cried in Swahili. His voice cracked to a treble with released hysteria. The helmsman, his eyes protruding, was incapable of replying. Lewis continued to shake and throttle him. Finally the elephant-hunter intervened.

"Better drop it," he advised, quietly, putting his hand on Lewis's shoulder. "Go see what's happened to your ship."

Lewis stared at him with wild eyes. The effort he made over himself was visible. After a few seconds his hands relaxed.

"You're quite right, of course," he said, his voice again under the vibrant, nervous control of a man overstrained. "Thank you."

He dove for the lower decks, where the confusion had increased. The elephant-hunter hitched a chair to the bridge rail where he could see. Inside the pilot-house the helmsman was gasping for breath and feeling his throat.

Lewis went to work ably and methodically. The elephant-hunter reflected that no doubt he was the man for the job, even if the job was "getting" him. In dealing with excited natives excitement only adds fuel. Outwardly Lewis was perfectly calm, but it was the calm of a capped artesian well. In his hand he carried a kiboko—the hippopotamus hide whip of the country. Order restored, he began the necessary labor. The Gwendolin had thrust her nose high up on a mud-bank. Reversed engines accomplished little. Lewis began patiently to shift cargo. Dozens of native canoes gathered about.

Becoming bored, the elephant-hunter returned to his reclining-chair. There he smoked for a time, then fell asleep.

He was awakened three hours later by the return of the captain. The latter fell heavily into his arm-chair and shouted for lime-juice and sparklets. The elephant-hunter opened his eyes. Observing this, Lewis broke forth.

"I ask you, as a man," he cried, "can you top this? What do you suppose happened? These bounders of local niggers moved my buoy about a hundred feet to the southeast! And what for?"—Lewis's voice rose to a treble—"to hitch their bally fishing-canoes to! Oh, that's right; laugh, damn you!" He gulped down his drink, lit his pipe, and subsided to mutterings.

The Gwendolin, her nose somewhat in the air pending the shifting back of the cargo, was again plowing ahead. Gradually Lewis calmed down.

"Now I'm delayed four good hours," he grumbled. "There's no keeping even in this country! I've got to stop in for the night at Irabanga. Beastly hole!"

"No navigation at night?" surmised the elephant-hunter.

"Navigation at night!" Lewis laughed bitterly, scorning more specific reply.

At dusk the ship swung past a low boulder point and into a bay narrow as a river, but reaching inland at least two miles. The water was deep. At the lower end were a narrow beach and a jungle of cocoanut-palms from which smoke arose. A rickety wharf, extending fifty feet, was blanketed by a sturdy, stubby side-wheel steamer.

"There's Heine," remarked Lewis, with a mixture of pleasure and vexation. "Dutchman—German—runs that tub of a Hohenzollern around the lake. Trade rival and all that sort of thing. Look at him hogging the whole jetty. Move? Not he! Now I'll have to anchor. More row and trouble and fuss! Hell!"

"Regular German swine, eh?" said the ivory-hunter.

"Heine? No; he's a good sort. We'll have a good evening. I suppose he did get there first, and there isn't room for but one of us at a time. Well, to get at it!"

They got at it. By dint of shrieks, yells, blows, and arguments conducted at length in the very face of pressing necessity the Baganda mates translated Lewis's commands—pleadings, rather—into action. The anchor splashed overboard. Except that the Gwendolin was fifty yards from the place selected, that the apparatus had twice jammed, that the fluke had gouged five feet of paint and slivers from the bow, and that the rush of the anchor-chain had carried overboard three native bundles and a chair, all was well. Lewis wiped his streaming brow, with a long, trembling sigh of relief. He sat down limply.

"Must get hold of myself!" he muttered.

The elephant-hunter was eying him with entire understanding.

"You need some chuck," he said. "Remember, we got no tiffin."

"Heine will have us over shortly," replied Lewis.

Dusk was falling, and the hills to the westward were rising in silhouette. In the jungle fires were gleaming. Drums began to throb dully and people to chant. A light shone in the Hohenzollern upper cabin as the door opened. A very fat man emerged and waddled to the rail.

"Wie geht's, Johnny!" he roared, In a voice that broke through all the compact stillnesses and minor cadences of the tropical evening. "Coom on ofer! Chakula iss ready!"

They rowed over to the rickety pier and clambered aboard. The Hohenzollern did not differ greatly from the Gwendolin in general arrangement, and they ascended immediately to the wide platform-like upper deck. There the fat man greeted them. He was rotund rather than obese, his complexion was baby pink, his blond hair rose en brosse, and his heavy mustache fell naturally over his lips. Lewis and the elephant-hunter were each of them welcomed by a soft, moist hand-clasp.

"It iss goot to see you!" cried Heine, his chubby face wreathed in smiles. "This iss lonely business. Sit down! Sit down! Lete chakula!" he roared to the steward standing not three feet away.

Lewis sank gratefully into the lazy-chair. "Lonesome, yes; I believe you—and aggravating—O Lord! These niggers!

"Niggers? Yes; but they are stupid children," agreed the German, comfortably.

"And malicious," added Lewis, with bitterness.

"Malicious? So?" replied Heine in some surprise. "But that I had not thought."

The steward brought the evening meal and they ate, while the thick darkness drew close about them, and the tropic stars flared clear, and the twinkling fires took on a tinge of red.

They had soup, curry, yams, baked bananas, and coffee.

"One cannot drink beer!" sighed Heine; "that I haf found. And whisky is bad. But here are goot cigars!"

They talked of various topics, the commonplaces of everyday life—how the crops of n'jugu nuts were coming on, the prospects of cattle quarantine being declared in the Ikorongo district, the best routes from one point to another, the spread of sleeping sickness, the quality of lubricating oil, the price of ivory, the scarcity of labor, the chances for success in cotton planting—all subjects near to heart and on which they had ideas.

"Anything outside?" the elephant-hunter asked, idly, in a pause.

Heine shook his head. "I haf been to the foot of the lake—I haf nothing seen," he answered.

"I saw Reuter's despatches when I was in Kimi, last week—no, two weeks ago."

"Anything especially startling?"

"Falling Star won the Goodwood Cup."

"You don't say!" cried the elephant-hunter. "Falling Star!—but of course I have been out of it for a year. He must have come up strong!"

"You und your racehorses!" chaffed Heine.

"Then I believe the Americans won at tennis," went on Lewis, slowly, trying to recollect, "and they've had one of their usual floods in China, and— Oh, yes, I knew there was something else! One of the Austrian grand dukes was assassinated down in Serbia."

"An Austrian grand duke!" repeated Heine, interested at last. "Who vass it?"

Lewis pondered. "I can't place it," he confessed.

"Who vass the assassin?"

"Some student or other—Serbian."

Heine wagged his ponderous head. "Such foolishness! when they might be on deck at Irabanga with goot friends. Vell, let them kill one another. That makes nothing to us—while the n'jugu nuts still grow."

The two Englishmen rowed back to the Gwendolin two hours later. Lewis was greatly refreshed in spirit, relaxed In mental fiber. He puffed at a final cheroot leisurely and luxuriously, not with the nervous speed of his earlier evening. The elephant-hunter saw by the light of the companion lamp that his face had fallen into more peaceful lines, heard that he hummed under his breath the bars of a song popular five years ago.

"Heine's a good soul," remarked Lewis. "He hogs the trade when he can, and he hogs the piers, and he swills his food, and he's a good deal of a beast in many ways—but he's a good soul."

The next morning the Gwendolin steamed away—after much miscellaneous shrieking inefficiency—leaving the Hohenzollern still gorging n'jugu nuts at the pier. By nightfall she had reached the important harbor of Kimi. Here ended the main caravan route from the coast, and here in all the panoply of one flag-staff, one bronze cannon (relic from Portuguese days), one district commissioner and dwelling, two European shops and twenty Indian dukkas, six residences of corrugated iron and uncounted native huts of thatch, dwelt the power of empire as represented in this particular part of Central Africa. In addition to these land glories was a bona fide pier made of bona fide piling, a huge iron go-down, and a miscellaneous and irresponsible maritime population of dugouts and dhows scattered all over the place. They were anchored everywhere, in the channel as thickly as anywhere else. The Gwendolin barged and blundered her way through the mess, escaping barratry and homicide by inches, pursued and accompanied by native words that ran to a rate of thousands per minute, and was confronted by a pier and the problem of landing thereat!

And when finally the gangplank was heaved aboard, hitting the deck with one inch to spare, and both bow and stern lines had been made definitely fast, Lewis swabbed his steaming brow.

"Praise God!" said he, fervently; and the elephant-hunter understood why lake captains so soon crack up and have to be sent home out of the tropics.

Captain Lewis turned out the next morning considerably refreshed. This was because for the next few days he had no responsibilities. It was up to McCann—poor devil!—to get the cargo out of the hold and into that tin hell of a go-down. Lewis lit a cheroot and sauntered up to the District Commissioner's headquarters in search of amusement. He was reasonably sure of it there, for Browning, the D. C., ruled about a million people—and was exactly twenty-four years of age. Moreover, he ruled them well, after a fashion of his own, which was enthusiastic, erratic, and in detail unknown to Downing Street. For example. Browning was keen for good roads—a "road" in that country being, of course, a three-foot path crowned and raised above the flood-mark. But native chiefs did not share his enthusiasm, and could not be persuaded to force their people into construction. Browning's diplomacy was direct. Under a requisition for "trade goods" he sent to England for twenty-one bicycles, and on their arrival spent an enormous amount of time and patience in teaching the local potentates to ride. Thereafter gaudy sultanis, clad in brass jewelry and a mosquito or so, could be seen streaking it across the landscape followed by winded courts. And when that sultani came a cropper, he had out a thousand men to repair the road! Many similar stories could be told of Browning's administration, but this one gives a good idea of Browning.

His second in command, a patriarch of twenty-two, was Bobby Calthrop. What Browning did not think of Bobby did; and what they both thought of at the same time was immediately carried out with a verve and flair fairly inspiring. Yet, it must be repeated, these two apparent irresponsibles governed that district justly, and—if results were a criterion—wisely as well.

Lewis found them, together with the elephant-hunter and two strangers whom he identified as casual sportsmen, busily engaged on the open space in front of the official bungalow. There for many years had stood an old Portuguese cannon of bronze. It was a relic of a hundred years ago, heavily embossed, and of course quite useless save as an ornament. Over this ancient piece the five white men were engaged. Five or six hundred natives squatted interestedly near by.

"The touch-hole is free," Bobby was saying, "I can blow through her."

"The bore is none too good," grunted Browning, who was poking vigorously down the muzzle with a stick.

"I'll bet the balls will fit just the same," rejoined Bobby. "Here!" he yelled in native dialect. "Bring some of those iron stones there," indicating an ornamental pyramid of round cannon-balls. He was about to insert one of these into the muzzle.

"Hold on!" cried one of the strangers. "Suppose it sticks? How are you going to get it out?"

"Good Lord! 1 never thought of that!" said Bobby, mopping his brow.

"We've got to clean it out until we're sure!" insisted Browning.

They set to work at this, busy as bees. Lewis, by long experience, had learned better than to question. He sat down in the shade, puffed his cheroot, and waited the event. The natives, too, stared, round-eyed.

"That'll do! Now let's load her!" cried Browning, triumphantly at last.

"I don't suppose she'd stand nitro powder or cordite," said Bobby, in some doubt.

"I should say not!" vetoed the elephant-hunter, with emphasis.

"I'm afraid we haven't any black powder except a little in some shot-gun shells. But that wouldn't be enough. There's some blasting powder. How would that do?"

It was decided worth a trial. After further discussion a proper charge was agreed upon and inserted into the relic. The cannon-ball followed and fitted!

"We can prime her with some black powder put of the shot-gun shells," said Browning.

But now a new difficulty supervened. Even these reckless youths saw objections to touching the experimental shot off by hand. Some one produced blasting fuse. But it became necessary to bore out the touch-hole to a larger size. At length, however, all seemed to be ready.

"Now," cried Bobby, triumphantly, "we'll just train her on that big rock on the side hill there and see how she goes!"

"This is the time to retire somewhat," observed Lewis to himself.

The idea was unanimous and promptly adopted. In ten seconds Bobby Calthrop alone was left. He puffed his cheroot to a glow, held it against the end of the fuse and fled wildly at the first nerve-shattering sputter.

A smoky, fizzly pause; then a tremendous explosion and a cloud of smoke.

"A-a-a-a!" came a native chorus of astonishment.

Bobbby danced excitedly into the open. "Did you see that? How's that for a shot!" he shrieked. "Plunked her square in the middle!" And indeed the iron ball had smashed the boulder to bits. They gathered interestedly. The results were gratifying. The cannon was intact; it had not kicked itself loose from its mountings.

"It blew an awful blast from the touch-hole," observed one of the sportsmen.

"Perhaps you'll kindly tell me what you are celebrating?" inquired Lewis, sauntering up.

They fell upon him, all talking at once. "War! Germany against France and Russia, then England! Fighting in Belgium! Liège and Namur both taken. Our troops are already in France! What's more, we've been jolly well licked and forced to retreat, but there's a stand being made at the River Marne."

"Where did you get all this?" interjected Lewis.

"0h, beg pardon; Mr. Hobart and Captain Hardy—Mr. Lewis," said Browning. "These gentlemen saw the latest Reuters on their way in. They were out for some shootin'."

"The dirty beasts! Now we'll get a chance at them!" cried Lewis, his racial antagonism flaring.

"We're going to mount the cannon on the Gwendolin," explained Bobby Calthrop, "and then go hunt up that German steamer—the Hohenzollern!"

Lewis seized the idea eagerly. His overwrought nerves welcomed this outlet. He burned with a fever of action. The German swine! A hundred disagreeable personal memories of the traveling German pressed against his recollection. A latent unsuspected antagonism leaped within him, a real hate. Take the Hohenzollern—that was it The German swine—hogging the piers, sneaking into coves that belonged to him, Lewis, by right of discovery; taking trade that was his by virtue of development!

They impressed a hundred of the natives and dragged the cannon and its ornamental balls down to the wharves. There McCann, perspiring and patriotically faithful, had been discharging cargo. A short delay for rifles and various provisions, and once more the Gwendolin pointed her nose lakeward.

The time passed heavily, even with the Gwendolin forging ahead under a forced draft. The white men smoked interminably, discussed endlessly, jumped up and down, peered through glasses. Lewis was heading back to Irabanga, but there was a chance that the German boat might have taken on cargo and be at sea. There were a dozen false alarms. Bobby Calthrop agitatedly reported black smoke, and the Gwendolin was turned in its direction; but the smoke turned out to be one of those drifting, dense clouds of flies for which the lake was famous. Again they swerved to inspect supposed masts behind an island, and discovered only a native drying rack. It was all most exciting.

"Beats lions," observed Hobart. "Talk about your big game!"

Toward five o'clock the point at Irabanga detached itself from the shore-line and swiftly approached. The white men gathered in a group on the forward part of the bridge. A tense silence fell. Each scanned eagerly through his glasses. Foot by foot the bay opened up. Now could be seen the fringes of the cocoanut-grove, the grove itself, some of the native huts, the foot of the pier, the pier itself.

Bobby dropped his glasses to the end of their strap and uttered a cheer. The Hohenzollern was there!

Lewis personally took the wheel. Bobby and the two sportsmen rushed down the companion and tore the canvas from the artillery. The elephant-hunter paused to light a cheroot in the shelter of the pilot-house, then followed. The cheroot did not indicate a desire to smoke; it was intended as a slow fire. Browning, as befitted his high estate of ranking officer, walked back and forth across the bridge. His keen eyes were dancing, his brown hair was tumbled, his mouth was a-quirk with mischievous delight.

The Gwendolin turned down the long narrow reach of the bay. The objects at its foot began to take on definition. When about half a mile from the pier, Browning spoke.

"Half speed, captain," he ordered.

Lewis obediently rang up half speed.

"Way enough; stop her," said Lewis, after a moment.

The engines fell to silence. Then unexpectedly came Browning's third command. It was uttered in Swahili and delivered with and accompanied by items of emphasis that spoke much for the D. C.'s knowledge of natives. And so efficacious was it that the Gwendolin rounded to her anchor about three hundred yards from the pier.

"What did you do that for?" some one inquired out of the amazement.

"Gentlemen, I consider this about a sporting distance," said Browning, calmly. "Prepare to fire."

Lewis at the wheel felt within him a slight movement of protest. It seemed only fair first to summon the Hohenzollern to surrender. But what difference? The superexcited lunatics in the waist were completely absorbed in technical problems.

"The bally thing will not swing far enough," panted Bobby, tugging at a rope.

"For Heaven's sake, don't jiggle her so; you'll lose all the priming powder," urged Harding.

"Can't you just give her a kick with the screw, old man?" the elephant-hunter implored Lewis.

"She may swing." Lewis obligingly kicked her.

"Great!" howled Bobby, and snatched the cheroot from the elephant-hunter, and pressed it against the end of the fuse.

Everybody scattered precipitately; everybody but Bobby, who remained near the breech. An explosion shook the Gwendolin to her keel. Bobby's agonized voice rose from the dense cloud of smoke.

"I can't see a damn thing!" he wailed. "Where did she hit?"

But that nobody could tell. The foot of the bay, the pier, the Hohenzollern, and the jungle beyond slept peacefully in the late afternoon sunlight.

"Must have overshot," was the opinion of the elephant-hunter, "or we'd have seen it hit."

A few scared-looking natives peeped out of the jungle and disappeared. There was no other sign of life.

"We'll have to raise the breech some way," said Bobby. "See if some of you can't find a block."

They raised the breech after a fashion; they swabbed out the bore against lingering sparks; they reloaded it with more blasting powder and another of the ornamental cannon-balls; they filled the vent with shot-gun powder, and laid thereto another length of fuse. Then Captain Lewis kicked her again with the screw, and at what was deemed the proper moment the ancient piece was again touched off. Same result.

"We're out of range," ventured Harding.

"We are not!" countered Bobby, in heated defense of his piece. "We'd have seen the splash if we'd fallen short."

"Then you're a rotten shot," Harding pointed the alternative.

"Well, let's see you do better!" cried Bobby.

It took some time to reload and relay the old cannon. Shots were at least five minutes apart. Harding had a try, with no better luck; and then each of the others. All but Captain Lewis. He stayed by the wheel, but was as much excited as the rest. To a dispassionate observer the contrast would have been interesting—the bustle and bluster, excitement, sweat, and noise aboard the Gwendolin; the thunderous blasts, leaping flame, and dense clouds of smoke; and the peaceful lower end of the bay, its waters mirroring placidly the rickety pier, the chubby old steamboat, the motionless jungle, and the sky.

"Look over her for yourself!" cried Bobby in answer to some sarcasm. "She must jump high. She's fairly pointing at the water now; you couldn't lower the muzzle any more. I don't understand it!"

But at this moment Lewis came storming down from the bridge where for some moments he had tried in vain to make himself heard.

"Here, you bally idiots!" he shrieked in their ears. "Attend to me a moment! You're not going high; you're too low!"

"Then you'd see a splash," insisted Bobby, doggedly sticking to his point.

"I tell you we're too far away," said Harding, sticking to his.

"For Heaven's sake, listen to me!" howled Lewis, exasperated beyond all measure.

He got their attention finally. It seemed that he had just noticed something. Possibly the first shot had gone high—who knows? But the piece had been depressed too much for the subsequent shots; that was sure. The balls fitted very loosely in the bore. They stayed atop the powder where they were rammed only until they were jarred. When the screw of the ship "kicked" her around they were so jarred, and they simply rolled out the muzzle and over-side. Only blanks were being fired. How did he know? He had seen the last ball splash alongside the ship.

"Well, of all the bally idiots!" cried Bobby. "What we need is wadding."

They procured wadding and relaid the gun at a guess. The next shot was a success; that is, it was seen to splash water a hundred yards or so from the mark. But the one succeeding! A rending crash of timbers succeeded the shot; and splinters flew from the piling fifty feet astern the Hohenzollern.

"Hurrah!" cried Browning. "We've got the elevation! Swing her a little."

But now for the first time life showed aboard the German ship. The pilot-house door swung open, and a huge figure in pajamas waddled to the rail and raised a megaphone.

"Look oudt! Look oudt!" bellowed Heine's voice in irritated tones. "What you do? If you don't look a leedle oudt you're going to hit my bo-ut!" He lowered his megaphone, wiped his brow, and raised the instrument again. "Oh, Lewis!" he roared, "when you get through das celebration coom ofer und haf chakula! Then he turned his broad back, waddled into the pilot-house, and the door closed behind him.

A blank pause ensued.

"He thinks we're salutin' the King's birthday!" cried Bobby, disgustedly.

"Heave up that anchor there!" commanded Lewis with decision, "We ought to be ashamed of ourselves!"

Fifteen minutes later Heine leaned on the rail watching the receding smoke of the Gwendolin. He smoked a porcelain pipe.

"So there is war!" he said to himself. "Such foolishness! What does it make for me? Still there are n'jugu nuts. And now I am safe. They will not bother me. There is no defense so good as a laugh."

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1925.

The author died in 1946, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 70 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.