The Mountain of Fears/Rosenthal the Jew
ROSENTHAL THE JEW
HEYDEN and I paused in our conversation and, leaning our backs against the steamer's rail, listened in some amusement to an argument between a group of our fellow-passengers. That is to say, I was thoughtless enough to be amused; Leyden listened with his usual quiet consideration.
At Paramaribo there had taken passage for New York a wiry little Jew named Gonzalez. He was a cheerful little man, who was pleasing from his sincere politeness. The other passengers, especially the Dutch, had rather made a butt of his provincialism, and it seemed to me that their attitude toward him was edged with a bit of malice. Apparently they resented his claim as a fellow-countryman.
The argument grew warmer; I could not follow it, as they spoke Dutch, but it was easy to see that Gonzalez was growing angry; the others were laughingly sarcastic. Presently the Jew, whose shrill voice had risen in key, said something bitter and walked rapidly away, and as he passed us I saw that his thin face was working with emotion. The others frowned; one gave a short laugh, then looked at us a bit sheepishly. Leyden made a little gurgle in his throat, a sound which carried disapproval. I glanced at him inquiringly.
"They are baiting him because he claims to be a Dutchman," said Leyden. "It is a shame; he is a good little man. He told me yesterday why he was going to New York. It seems that he has a half-sister with Pott's disease of the spine, and he is going to consult a specialist to determine whether anything can be done for her, also how much it will cost. Probably there is not a person on this ship whose errand is so unselfish. Ach! They are a much maligned people, the Jews!"
For several moments he drew vigorously at his big porcelain pipe. "Doctor," he asked, presently, "did you ever meet Isidore Bosenthal?"
"No," said I. "Who is he?"
"A Jew, a power in the West Indies. This little chap reminds me of him—because he is so different. There are three people in the West Indies who are worth knowing. One is Mallock, another is Arjolas and the third is Isidore Rosenthal."
Leyden stirred the ashes of his pipe, while I waited. Gonzalez, who passed near me, had swallowed his pique and was talking in bad English to a Portuguese adventuress. "Yes, Madame," he was saying, "I have traveled a great deal. I have been to Demerara, to Trinidad and to Venezuela. Now I am going to New York. If a man has the means it is his duty to travel; he should see the world, improve his mind—and I, I have the means. I own a chemist's shop in Paramaribo——"
"Rosenthal," said Leyden, "is a Czechian Jew, the most malignant type; aggressive as a hotel child. When he dies, if the Hebrew heaven is not up to his ideas, the Christians will have a hard time to keep him out of theirs. He is a big-boned, muscular, hairy brute, with the push of a peccary and the vitality of a dose of Chagres fever. His present occupation is selling the Santo Dominicans expensive things which they don't want. As soon as he gets all of their money he will go somewhere else."
"He appears to have qualities," I observed.
"He has—some of them ones with which you would not credit him. We were once involved in an affair, and there are few men for whom I have more respect.
"I first met Rosenthal in Curaçao, where he and his younger brother, Jacob, as poisonous a cripple as ever drew breath, were doing a nice little business which combined gambling and pawnbroking. Their method was this: Having the entrée to the select circle of South American exiles and refugees and conspirators—for you must know that almost every South and Central American revolution is hatched under the protection of the Dutch flag—Jacob, who was rather expert at cards, would manage to start a game. No doubt the play was honest; his policy was neither to lose nor to win a great deal, but simply to keep things moving. In time some one would lose heavily, for Jacob had a talent for drawing the others out and was liberal with cognac and champagne. These South Americans, as you have observed, possess a passion for jewelry; the first thing which your South American who has made a successful financial coup will buy is a gem; on the other hand, when he loses heavily he is open for a good offer on his solitaire or brilliants, and this was Isidore's department. He would manage to be about with some stones to show the winner and ready cash with which to purchase from a loser, or perhaps to negotiate a loan, and he was diplomatic enough to accomplish this without becoming unpopular. He had a manner of loud and blatant camaraderie, was ready to give way in trifles, and I have even known him to loan out a good round sum without any security whatever. He was a friend of the friendless and had the reputation of being honest and liberal.
"Between them the pair should have done very well had Jacob been designed on the large scale of Isidore, but he was not. I think he envied Isidore's physique and manner and popularity, whereas the elder brother loved Jacob devotedly and would nurse him like a mother through his occasional attacks of illness, for one of Jacob's lungs was far gone with tuberculosis. I remember Isidore's boarding the steamer once in Vera Cruz when I was returning from an expedition into Yuca tan. It seems that he had heard of my being aboard, and he came to me haggard with watching and worry and told me that he feared that Jacob was dying of fever.
"'These doctors are a set of fools!' he cried, in his big, discordant bass. 'They do not know the fever when they see it; they say it is the lung, but I know that it is the fever, also.'
"'But, my dear fellow,' I protested, 'I am not a physician; I am nothing but a collector.'
" 'Peste!' he answered, for, as he was an Austrian and I a Hollander, we talked in French. 'There is no one who knows more of the pernicious malaria than yourself. Will you come and see the little Jacob!'
" 'But I am already overdue with my specimens,' I objected.
" 'Diable!' he growled. 'What are weeds and stones and ancient rubbish to the life of my dear little Jacob? You shall lose nothing, and if you save his life'—he hauled a chamois bag from some recess of himself and threw a glittering handful of gems upon my bunk—'help yourself; take them all, if you like. Some of them I hold as security, but it makes no difference'—the man grinned'—I get them all in the end.'
"'Put up your ill-gotten gains,' said I, much provoked. 'I'll wait over a steamer and see what I can do because I like your affection for your brother.'
"He grinned again. I got out my microscope and went ashore with him, to find that he was correct. The cripple's blood swarmed with the malarial organisms, but we managed to overcome them. When I came to leave he was quite out of danger.
"It was about six months later that I was in a little hotel in New York much frequented by people from south of the tropic, when who should come in but Rosenthal. I saw immediately that he was in trouble. His big, swarthy, Satanic face was seamed and lined and his shaggy black eyebrows almost hid his fierce green eyes.
"'Bon jour, Dr. Leyden,' said he, roughly. 'I heard that you were here and have come to engage your services.'
"'Indeed?' said I.
" 'But yes—it is Jacob again. Ah, mon dieu!' He broke into violent profanity, and his yellow teeth gleamed from beneath his bristling mustache. 'He is in the prison at Porto Cabello.'
"Personally, Doctor, I thought no doubt that that was precisely where he belonged, but I naturally did not say so to Isidore. Instead I asked him for particulars.
"'You have heard of "La Fouchere?"' he snapped, 'the wife of that nigger doctor from Hayti who spends most of his time hanging around the Moulin Rouge?'
" 'They are acquaintances of mine,' said I.
" 'The ——!' I will not repeat the term which he applied to the lady, Doctor. 'When I left Curaçao a month ago,' said Rosenthal, 'she was there waiting for the French steamer on her way to Paris. You know she is as white as myself (as a matter of fact La Fouchere would have made Rosenthal look a Zulu, as the woman's skin was like a piece of paper held against the light) 'and she is as beautiful as sin. Little Jacob must fall in love with her, like the child he is. They go together to Caracas, and while there she falls in with an old flame, General Trocas, and the two of them plan to get possession of the bag of gems which I left with Jacob while in the States.'
"'Bad business,' said I. 'I know Trocas also.' He was the chap, Doctor, who broke up my Orinoco expedition and landed me in the prison at Cumana.
" 'Is it not, mon cher? But the little Jacob is no fool; they have had him arrested and searched on a charge of conspiring in Curaçao, but they have been unable to find the gems——'
" 'And so have lodged him at Porto Cabello until the stones are forthcoming?'
" 'Rather through spite, and it is to get him out that I wish to engage your services, my dear Doctor.'
" 'Indeed?' said I.
" 'My plan is this,' said Rosenthal. 'The fortress is, as you know, full of political prisoners from the last revolution, and, as there is no immediate prospect of another revolution, they are apt to remain there for some time. You know, Doctor'—he grinned at me—'how very poor are the accommodations of these hostelries. I know of a dozen wealthy exiles in Curaçao who would contribute a large sum toward the rescue of their friends. My plan is to quietly raise such a subscription and proceed to Porto Cabello and get the gems, which I will turn over to the command ant of the prison on consideration that he permits the escape of Jacob. You in the meantime will quietly charter a schooner in Curaçao for a scientific expedition, sail across and on a certain night be off Porto Cabello. We will communicate there. The prison guards on that night will be blind to a boat under the sea-wall, and instead of the escape of Jacob alone there will be an escape of all of the political prisoners. The subscription of the others will reimburse me for the expense of ransoming Jacob.'
"I reflected for a moment, then asked him if he thought the commandant of the prison would keep his faith.
"'We must take some chances, of course,' answered Rosenthal. 'For your part, Doctor, there is no risk, and you may name your own figure. Remember that I am already deeply in your debt.'
"I turned the thing over in my mind, Doctor, and it seemed quite a reasonable proposition. You have seen the prison at Porto Cabello; it is on that little sandy island about five hundred yards from the town and only about eighty miles from Curaçao. The prison guards were a lot of shiftless half-breeds and would no doubt be drunk by ten o'clock of the appointed night. Curaçao schooners were always coming and going—on the whole, it seemed no difficult achievement, and it certainly is a commendable act to get any one out of a Venezuelan prison, whether he belongs there or not. I made a bargain with Rosenthal for five hundred dollars, which he paid me on the spot. The next day we sailed for Curaçao on the Red D.
"There was no difficulty about my part of the programme. I chartered one of the chunky little tubs which you saw in Curaçao, engaged three Papiemento-jabbering negroes and a cook and cleared for Porto Cabello, giving it out that I was on a collecting cruise along the coast.
"It took me six days to slam that old tub against the trade to Porto Cabello, about eighty miles in a straight line; weather just as it is now—as it always is down there—the wind dead ahead and blowing the top off the water, and the sky bright and clear and blue. Arrived, I anchored near the mouth of the little inlet, and, after being duly inspected, went ashore to see if I could gather any in formation; but there was nothing to be learned.
"For a week I hung about that hot, wretched hole; then the Dutch mail steamer arrived from La Guayra, and on going aboard to greet some old acquaintances the first man I met was Isidore Rosenthal.
"The Jew's Satanic face was more malignant than ever; the glare in his green eyes put one in mind of a jaguar; I saw at once that something had gone wrong.
"'Ah, the ——!' he snarled, when we were alone. 'You were right, Leyden! The pigs! The robbers! The vile liars!' His rage was positively alarming. His black eyebrows worked up and down, and his yellow teeth gnawed at the corner of his black mustache.
" ' They got your gems?' I asked.
"'Yes, and they warned me to leave on the next steamer; they would have thrown me into prison but that they feared to have the story get out and be obliged to divide——' He broke off suddenly from his tirade and surprised me by grinning with amusement. 'I should like to see their faces a few days later!'
" 'Whose faces?' I asked, in surprise.
"' Trocas and that ——!' He really had a very poor opinion of 'La Fouchere.'
" 'Why?' I asked, although I had my suspicions.
" 'Oh, never mind. There are other things to think of. Bribery has failed; there is left only force.' He looked at me inquiringly.
" 'Force?' said I, for at that time a Jew and a fight were not associated in my mind.
" 'Tiens!' said he, 'we cannot return and leave the little Jacob in that cesspool! Think of his lung, my dear Doctor; besides, it would be necessary to refund the money subscribed by our friends in Curaçao.'
" 'Did you give them receipts?' I asked, curious to get at the odd principles of the man. He looked at me reproachfully.
" 'There, there, Leyden! Did you ever hear of Isidore Rosenthal going back upon his word?'
" 'I apologize. What is the next move?'
"Rosenthal shrugged. 'They are not much to be feared, these nigger guards at the prison.' He glanced at me furtively. 'Suppose we take a boat to-night and go over and get little Jacob?'
"I did not at once reply. To tell the truth, Doctor, I was too much surprised at the suggestion to reply. I knew that Rosenthal possessed the stubborn courage peculiar to his race; but this policy of cold, aggressive daring seemed incompatible with the Hebrew. He watched me narrowly.
"'I am not a fighter, my dear friend,' said he, thrusting out his hands. 'I am a man of affairs, a financier, a diplomat, but there are times when all of these things fail. No doubt I seem to you like a fool' (he seemed positively ashamed of himself—as ashamed as might another man, a Gentile, of a display of cowardice), 'but what would you have? They will not keep their faith; to offer more bribes would be to throw good money away after bad.' He shrugged, chewed at the end of a cigar, glanced about him furtively, then took to gnawing his nails, while I sat and considered the proposition.
"To tell the truth, Doctor, it was not at all attractive. To be sure, the guards were a scrubby lot, but there were plenty of them, and the prisoners were locked up and had no knowledge of any plan for escape. Moreover, we did not know in what part of the prison they were confined, nor had we any plan of the inside of the place.
"'You do not object to making an attempt, Leyden?' asked Rosenthal, who had been watching me narrowly.
" 'Not if I were able to see how it could be done,' I answered, slowly, for, you see, Doctor, he had engaged my services for a particular piece of work and I was professionally bound. If it had been my custom to abandon a project because it was dangerous I must long ago have sought another profession. 'Would it not be much better to wait until we can try to bribe the guards or establish some communication with the prisoners?' said I.
"'No,' he answered. 'It must be done to-night, because Trocas knows with whom he has to deal, and unless I am mistaken there will come an order to-morrow to remove little Jacob, probably to Caracas, and you know he does very badly in the cold, damp air of the mountains; also, the change of altitude is apt to bring out another attack of the fever.'
" 'Have you thought of any definite plan?' I asked, irritably. He grinned at me like a baboon.
" 'That is for you, my dear Doctor,' said he. 'You have had more experience in such matters.'
" 'That is all very well,' said I, 'but you seem to forget that I am engaged by you to carry out your orders. Now, go ahead and issue them.'
"His grin left him at this and he began to scowl and reach for the overhang of his mus tache with his big yellow teeth. Finally he said: 'I engaged you, as you say, Doctor, to carry out my orders, but I will do better. One cannot be avaricious when the life of one's brother is concerned. If you will get the little Jacob out of that hole I will pay you three times what you have received.'
"'How about the others?' I asked.
" 'Oh, the devil take the others! If their friends want them let them come after them. I will refund their money.'
" 'Very well,' said I. 'And now I will go ashore, as I want to think this thing out alone.'
"Rosenthal grinned his sardonic grin, and I left him and, passing through the custom house, strolled on across the square, past the monument to the American soldiers and over into the park opposite the baths, where I sat on a bench and tried to think against the infernal clatter of the 'Q'est ce qu'il dit?' birds.
"For about an hour I sat there, and I can assure you, Doctor, that my brain was not idle. There were several very potent reasons for my wishing to carry through the task which I had undertaken. In the first place I needed the money very much. Again, there was an old score to settle with Trocas, but I think that more than all it was a matter of professional pride. It was easy to see that Rosenthal was confident that I could carry the thing through, yet try as I did I was obliged to dismiss each plan as impracticable. If word could be got to the prisoners of our co-operation it would have been so much easier, but I was afraid to bribe any of the guards,, as there was danger that he would pocket the money and then betray us.
"I was determined that there must be no bloodshed. I had no doubt that Jacob had been conspiring against the Venezuelan government and had been betrayed by 'La Fouchere.' I am averse to killing people, Doctor; moreover, I am a Christian and believe in God, and I try to keep the ten commandments. In spite of the hazardous character of many of my expeditions yon would be surprised to learn how very few men I have been obliged to kill or have killed, and the memory of these unfortunate affairs is attended with regret, but no remorse.
"While I was vexedly working at this problem I heard the blare of a discordant bugle and a clatter on the pavement of the square, and, looking over my shoulder, saw a company of dusty soldiers stacking their arms in front of the café. They appeared to be mostly Venezuelans. They promptly swarmed into the café, and I arose and strolled over in that direction. The lieutenant in command was a short, fat young fellow, and as I drew near he said a few words to his sergeant and then left his company and walked over toward the café of the bathhouse. I followed him indolently, and as he entered the building I took a chair on the verandah and called for spirits and cigars. As I was lighting oe of the latter my lieutenant came out, glanced at me inquiringly, then seated himself at a table. A moment later some tourists from the Dutch ship, killing time as best they might, strolled up, and to these I bowed casually as to acquaintances of the voyage. They did not know me, of course, but they returned my bow, called for beer, drank it and strolled on. As they were leaving I remarked in English to one of them, apparently an American:
"'The ship does not sail until night, does she?'
" 'Not until one o'clock,' he replied, agreeably, no doubt taking me for a passenger from Porto Cabello.
"For awhile we sat in silence; then my lieutenant, who evidently found himself greatly bored, turned to me and said, in fair English:
" 'You are a tourist, sir?'
" 'Yes,' said I, 'and much regretting that this is the last which I shall see of Venezuela for many months.' There promised to be some truth in the last part of this statement, Doctor.
" 'You enjoy Venezuela?' inquired the officer, evidently pleased.
"'I have conceived a great admiration for the people and the country, ' said I.
"We talked for some time of the beauties of Caracas, he apparently enjoying the unaccustomed exercise of his English. I extolled the country, the people, their traditions, their bravery, likening their history to that of the United States, Bolivar to George Washington. He expanded like a flower in the sunshine. Presently I asked the honor of drinking a bottle of champagne with him, to which he agreed, remarking that Americans were to him the most delightful of all foreigners. Before long I asked him if his military duties confined him to Porto Cabello. He sighed deeply.
" 'Ah, my friend, it is very sad. No, I have simply come down with my commando, which you see across the square. I return to-morrow, leaving the troop in the fortress yonder, as the present garrison was considered insufficient to guard the desperate political prisoners confined there.'
"It struck me that this was rather a tribute to the respect entertained for Rosenthal by Trocas.
"'Indeed?' said I, somewhat idly.
"He sighed. 'It is a tedious journey, but I requested General Trocas to commit the care of the men to me, as I expected to find here a friend'—he smirked at me—'a lady in whom I am interested.'
"I laughed indulgently. 'You young officers are roving blades,' said I. 'One cannot blame the ladies, however.'
"He brightened, then sighed again. 'It is very sad,' said he. 'I learn from the keeper of the hotel that she has sailed for Curaçao on the steamer before this. She was very beautiful, a Portuguese. ' He twirled his thin mustache.
"'Permit me to offer my sympathy,' said I. 'But, of course, there is still wine left, if the lady has gone, ' and I ordered another bottle of champagne.
"Before the bottle was finished, Doctor, he loved me as a brother. I suggested that we go aboard the Dutch ship and have an American cocktail. It was a little dangerous, but I wished to clinch his confidence in me. He readily agreed and we strolled across the square together. On the way we passed his command, which was what I wished. The men were still drinking, but the sergeant was out side the café and saluted as we passed.
"'A good fellow—he knows my errand,' observed the lieutenant, referring to the sergeant, and added that there was no hurry to cross to the fortress; it was a place stiflingly hot, and his men were in need of rest and a little refreshment.
" 'You are, of course, acquainted with the officers of the garrison?' said I.
" 'No; there is only the commandante, a rough old fellow'—he shrugged as if to signify that the man was scarcely of his own social caste. 'There were many promotions from the ranks after the revolution,' he added.
"This, as you can guess, Doctor, was valuable information. I changed the subject and we boarded the ship. I caught a glimpse of Rosenthal as we went up the ladder. His eye glinted as it met mine; then he turned his back until we had gone below.
"It was then three o'clock. For two hours I poured cocktails into my officer, and by five he was very drunk, so drunk that I was able to leave him long enough to tell Rosenthal to meet me by the fountain in the park in an hour. Then I returned to my officer, who was nodding over another glass of spirits. I got him upon his feet and managed to return with him to the hotel without being interrupted. There I poured into him another bottle of champagne, after which he quietly subsided into inertia, when, with the aid of the proprietor, whose disapproval I silenced with a fee which he put down to drunken generosity, we undressed and put him to bed.
"The next step was the crucial one. I quickly took off my clothes and put on those of the lieutenant. Then I crossed the square to where the commando was still drinking. I found the sergeant in the dirty little café, himself somewhat intoxicated. At sight of me he sprang to his feet with an oath.
"'Silence!' said I, in Spanish. 'Your lieutenant has persuaded me to take his place for a few hours.'
" 'Where is he?' demanded the sergeant, suspiciously.
"I gave him a drunken leer and slapped him lightly on the shoulder.
" 'Can you not guess?' I asked, meaningly.
" 'But it cannot be,' growled the man. 'And who are you? It is as much as his commission is worth!'
" 'It would be worth more than his commission was worth if he were to accompany his command in his present condition,' I snapped. 'You do not seem to understand that I am doing him a favor at a personal risk; also, he told me to give you this and to tell you to keep your mouth shut.' And I slipped some gold into his hand. 'It is only necessary for me to cross to the fort, deliver the command to the commandante and return. Your lieutenant is not known to any one there.'
"The fellow wavered, grumbled, slid the money into his pocket, eyed me suspiciously; but I laughed and told him that a good sergeant must stand by his lieutenant; then, rising, I told him to get his men together and I would return directly to get them to the fort. Although by no means satisfied, he made no protest, not knowing just what course to take. I left him and walked around the far side of the park to where Rosenthal was waiting.
"He laughed softly as I joined him, and his yellow teeth gleamed in the dusk. I simply told him to have the boat lying off the sea wall of the prison until he heard from me, and then returned to the commando, which was drawn up in a somewhat vacillating formation. The men no doubt took me to be an officer of the garrison to which they were committed, but the sergeant was very ill at ease.
"I put the column into motion and marched them down to the water, where I requisitioned the nearest boats at hand and we crossed to the island. At the gate of the fortress we halted until the arrival of the officer of the guard, to whom I presented the papers which were in the pocket of the lieutenant's blouse.
"The officer was a dangerous-looking old fellow, apparently a thorough soldier, and, while polite, I could see that he was somewhat disgusted at my condition.
"'At what time did you arrive in Porto Cabello?' he inquired, a trifle coldly.
" 'An hour ago—perhaps two,' I answered. 'There seemed no great hurry; it was very hot and my men were in need of refreshments. Also, I had some messages from my uncle, his Excellency the President, for some friends upon the Hollandez.'
"His manner changed a trifle. He gave a few orders to the sergeant, who marched off his unsteady company, with a backward glance in my direction, which I affected not to see.
"'Will you come up to the headquarters?' he said. I thanked him and we strolled off together.
"Before we had reached headquarters I had restored his good nature, told him some good stories, made him laugh heartily and evidently convinced him that I was a careless good fellow and not to be taken too seriously. I declined any refreshment, saying that I had been entertained aboard the ship, and after a rather dull evening I begged leave to retire.
"As soon as he was gone I slipped out into the enclosure. It was a starry night, still, but with no moon. I lit a cigar and walked leisurely toward the casemates fronting the sea. At the end of fifty yards I came upon a sentry sleeping peacefully against the wall. Walking to him, I shook him roughly by the shoulder. He awoke with a start; then, seeing an officer before him, scrambled to his feet and saluted. At the same moment there came from one of the casemates a fit of violent but muffled coughing.
"'Is this the sort of watch which is kept in the prison?' I demanded, roughly. 'His Excellency, my uncle, would be pleased to hear of it.'
"The man was badly frightened. He stammered something about not being asleep; then, as I peered into his face, I recognized him as one of the men of my command.
" 'Ah, my friend,' said I, in an altered tone, 'you are one of those who arrived to-day?'
" 'Yes, Señor Capitan,' he answered.
" 'But that is different,' said I, kindly. 'How is it that you are on duty? There has been some mistake. I gave orders that you were to have a night's sleep. There has been a mistake, but never mind, sleep here, if you like; God knows you have reason to be tired, and that there are three times men enough to guard a handful of miserables.'
" 'Thank you, Señor Capitan,' he answered; and as he spoke, the violent coughing broke out again from some dark recess.
"'There is a poor wretch who seems very ill,' said I, conversationally. 'Is it one of the garrison?'
" 'It must be one of the political prisoners, Señor Capitan,' replied the soldier. 'They are all confined in the casemates yonder.'
" 'Poor wretch!' said I, and, nodding to the soldier, strolled on toward the ramparts. Before I had gone far I was halted by another sentry. I peered at him through the murk.
" 'Are you one of the new men?' I demanded.
" 'No, Señor Capitan,' he answered, saluting.
" 'The lazy rascals!' said I, tersely. 'I gave orders that they were to go on duty immediately as a reward for abusing my good nature and getting drunk. Are they in the cuartel with you?'
" 'No, Señor Capitan; they are in the cuartel yonder at the angle of the wall.'
"'Bueno! I will soon break up their sweet dreams, the drunken vagabonds. Who is your sergeant!' He told me the man's name.
" 'And when are you to be relieved?'
" 'At midnight,' said he.
" 'Very well. You may return to your quarters, and if your sergeant is awake tell him that I have put one of my men in your place. Go!'
"'Si, Señor.' He saluted and slouched away.
"I proceeded, and in a few minutes had relieved two more of the regular garrison and bid one of the new men sleep at his post.
"It was then ten o'clock; there were two hours ahead of me. I made my way to the sea-wall and, reaching below the rampart with one arm, struck a match, extinguished it, struck another and extinguished that. A moment later I heard the soft grinding of oars and the boat glided out of the darkness. Rosenthal's great frame hove itself up over the rampart, then dropped into the shadow under the wall, and I heard his discordant laugh stifled to a hissing gurgle. He carried a pick axe.
" 'Diable!' said he. 'I heard you relieve the sentries! I was close under the wall. It was funny! Have you found where they have put little Jacob?'
"'Yes,' I answered. 'Follow me.'
"I led him along the angle of the wall until we came to the casemates where the sentry had said that the prisoners were confined, and then, as we paused before the first of these, the utter stillness was again broken by a paroxysm of coughing; and this time, although no less violent than before, it struck me that there was in it an accent of exhaustion—an extreme exhaustion as of muscles too fatigued to respond even to a reflex.
" 'Sacré!' growled Rosenthal, and gripped my arm. 'Do you hear that? It is the little Jacob. 'He flew to the door of the casemate; the port on the other side opened on the sea, and was, of course, heavily barred. Rosenthal smote the heavy door several times with the ball of his hand.
"'Jacob!' he called, softly. 'Jacob, Jacob, my dear little Jacob!' He leaped back and raised his pick; it seemed as if the sounds of his sick brother's distress had robbed him of his senses.
"I seized the pick, and he whirled on me with a snarl. Indeed, Doctor, the Jew was like a tigress who hears the wail of a captured cub.
" 'Idiot!' I whispered, 'do you want to rouse the garrison?'
" 'Listen!' said he, and raised his hand suddenly. I listened, and in a lull of the surf there reached our ears a series of pathetic sounds. You know the sound, Doctor; the feeble strangling of a pulmonary patient when too weak to cough, something between a cough and a rattle—and then it suddenly ceased and there came to our ears, in a voice as thin as a wafer's edge: 'Isidore!'
"And then Rosenthal went mad. He knew, we both knew, that Jacob was dying; there was no mistaking that. It would be a matter of at least two hours' hard work to liberate him without noise, and we both felt that by that time he would be already liberated; and Rosenthal, the Jew, whose habit and training and every instinct was that of weighing cost and gain, decided that he could not afford to wait, garrison or no garrison. Apparently life held nothing which could compensate him for the privilege of holding his crippled brother in his powerful arms while the struggling soul was fighting its way to the God of his fathers. Before I could interfere—and, indeed, I did not try very hard to interfere, Doctor, for was I not paid to carry out the man's orders?—he had raised the pick and assailed the heavy door with a fury that filled the silent fortress with thundering reverberations.
"Lights began to flash out in the barracks; at a distance a sentry fired his piece for an alarm. I heard shouts and cries and orders, and through it all Rosenthal, the Jew, stood and hewed away at the door, till all at once, even as I saw a squad of men running toward us, it fell away, and Rosenthal, throwing aside his pick, leaped into the casemate, and from the blackness within I heard a fierce sob as he gathered his dying brother to his breast.
"For me there was no time for sentiment. As the first group of soldiers drew near there arose from the landward side a strident blast. I recognized the whistle of the Dutch steamer, which was going out. In sight of the soldiers I sprang to the open door of the casemate, peered within, then rushed to meet them.
" 'Some prisoners have escaped!' I howled. 'See, the door of the casemate has been torn away! Did you not hear the noise, sluggards! Look!' I pointed toward the town, where, above the farther wall, we could see the mast head-light of the steamer. 'They have fled to the Hollandez!'
"The cry was taken up: 'They have fled to the Hollandez!' and the soldiers, with a glance at the dark entrance of the casemate, turned and made off toward the main gate. On the way they met the commandante, who, hearing their cries, rushed to the jetty and bawled at the steamer to stop.
"The place was deserted again and I softly entered the dungeon. I could see nothing in the gloom, but from the shadow I heard a deep, choking voice say: 'Jacob! Jacob! Ach, mein lieber Jacob! Mein kleiner, lieber Jacob!'
" 'Isidore—mein bruder—Isidore!' came the thin answer, and then there was a gurgle, a strangling cough, a sigh as of a soul exhausted, a body spent with vain struggling, and yet a sigh filled with promise of an infinite peace. I heard a rustling, such a sound as comes from a tired child as its head falls back upon its mother's breast. There was the sound of a multitude of kisses, a choked sob—then silence, which endured for many minutes.
"'Come, my friend,' I said, softly. 'We must go, if you wish to take Jacob away.'
"I led the way and Rosenthal followed me out into the night, bearing the body of his brother in his arms, his broad chest shaken with sobs. We scaled the wall, called softly and a moment later our Curaçao men pulled the boat alongside."
Leyden paused, relit his pipe, puffed a few times in silence.
"They overran that Dutch steamer like cockroaches," he continued, with a chuckle, "and for a while the government seriously considered withdrawing the privileges of their ports to the line. Ultimately it was decided to let them off with a reprimand, because, you see, the steamers were the only opportunity the port officials had of getting their weekly allowance of spirits for nothing.
"Rosenthal? We made the run back to Curaçao in thirty-six hours, because, you see, the trade always blows the same way. The day we arrived Rosenthal paid me fifteen hundred dollars, the price agreed for the rescue of his brother.
"'It is too much,' said I, 'especially as we did not liberate the other prisoners.'
" 'It was the price agreed,' he said, 'but if you say so I will take off ten per cent. for cash.'
" 'Even then it is too much. There were the jewels which you gave to Trocas——'
"Rosenthal chuckled. 'They were imitations,' said he. 'I got them in New York. Those I left with little Jacob were also imitations. I knew my little brother's weaknesses,' he added, and the tears gushed out of his eyes."