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THE CRUISE OF THE JASPER B. (chapter27)

2006-08-28 19:57

    CHAPTER XXVII

    CLEGGETT ACCOMMODATESTHE KING

    There was a wedding next day on the deck of the Jasper B. The Rev. Simeon Calthrop performed the ceremony, and Wilton Barnstable insisted upon lending his vessel for a bridal cruise. Washington Artillery Lamb, engineer, janitor, cook and butler of the Annabel Lee, went with the vessel.

    As for the Jasper B., although his wife urged him to keep the ship for the sake of old associations, Cleggett had the hole in its side built in and gave it to the Rev. Simeon Calthrop for a gospel ship. George the Greek, who married Miss Medley, shipped with the preacher in his cruise around the world, and he and his wife eventually reached Greece, as he had originally intended. Elmer went with the Rev. Mr. Calthrop to assist him in his missionary work.

    But it was some time before the Jasper B. sailed. Besides the hole which was the entrance to the tunnel it was discovered that the vessel rested on a brick foundation. The man who had used her for a saloon and dancing platform in years past had dug away part of the bank of the canal to fit the curve of her starboard side and had then jammed her tight into the land. Even then she would move a trifle at times, so he had built a dam around her, pumped the water out of the inclosed space, jacked the hulk up, built the brick foundation, and let her down solidly on it again.

    With the dam removed the water covered this masonry work, and she looked quite like a real ship. Mr. Goldberg had known about this foundation, but he had forgotten it, he explained to Cleggett.

    The Rev. Mr. Calthrop fitted her out as a floating chapel and filled her with Bibles printed in all languages, which he distributes in many lands. When his fatal attractiveness for women threatens to involve him in trouble he hastily puts to sea. He has never become a really accomplished sailor, and the Jasper B. is something of a menace to navigation in the ports and harbors of the world. The suggestion has frequently been made that she should be set ashore permanently and put on wheels. But she has her features. She is, possibly, the only ship extant with a memorial skylight to her cabin. Cleggett wished her to carry some sort of memorial to the faithful Teddy, the Pomeranian dog, who perished of a stray shot in the fight at Morris's. And as a memorial window did not seem feasible a compromise was made on the memorial skylight. The glass is by Tiffany.

    Dopey Eddie and Izzy the Cat, still followed by Reginald Maltravers, made their way to Brooklyn, where all three were arrested and lodged in the observation ward of the Kings County Hospital on the suspicion that they were insane. The two gunmen were able to get free through political influence, but Maltravers was sent to England. He was maintained for some time in a private institution through the generosity of the Cleggetts, but finally went on a hunger strike and died.

    Wilton Barnstable smiles and prospers. He gained great additional fame for his clever work in the Case of Logan Black.

    Cleggett, in , was the father of four boys named D'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis Cleggett; and the owner of the Claiborne estates.

    He is now immensely wealthy. It never would have occurred to him, perhaps, to attempt to increase his modest fortune of $, by speculating on the Stock Exchange, had it not been for a fortunate meeting with a barber in Nassau Street.

    This barber, whose Christian name was Walter, was, indeed, a mine of suggestion and information of all sorts. And being a good-natured fellow, who wished the world well, Walter delighted to impart his original ideas and the fruits of his observation to his patrons while shaving them. Some of these received his remarks coldly, it is true, but Walter was so charged with a sense of friendliness towards all mankind that he was never daunted for long by a rebuff.

    His interests were wide and varied; Walter found no difficulty in talking pleasantly upon any subject; he could touch it lightly, or deal with it in a more serious vein, as the mood of his customer seemed to require; and he had the art of making deft and rapid transitions from topic to topic. But there were two things in particular concerning which Walter had thought deeply: racehorses and the stock market.

    It was the settled grief of Walter's life that he had never been able to persuade any person with money to take his advice concerning the races, or follow any of the dazzling stock market campaigns which he was forever outlining.

    "They listen to me," said Walter, a little wistfully, but with a brave smile, "or else they do not listen——but no one has ever yet taken my advice! Do you wet your hair when you part it, sir?"

    "What," said Cleggett, carefully concealing from Walter the fact that he spoke of himself, "would be your advice to a man with $, who wished to double it in a few weeks?"

    "Double it!" cried Walter. "Why, I could show such a person how to multiply it by ten inside of two months." And he rapidly outlined to Cleggett a scheme so audacious and so brilliant that it fairly took our hero's breath away. Moreover, it stood the test of reflection; it was sound. Not to descend to the sordid details, in three weeks Cleggett found himself possessed of a million dollars' gain. Half of this he gave to the excellent Walter, and in three months ran the other half million up to twenty millions.

    Then he withdrew permanently from business, as Lady Agatha complained that it took too much of his time; moreover, he shrank from notoriety, which his stock market operations were beginning to bring upon him.

    Giuseppe Jones, who recovered of his wounds, forswore anarchy and became a newspaper reporter, and grew to be a fast friend of Cleggett, who discovered that he was a lad of parts. Cleggett eventually made him president of a college of journalism which he founded. While he was establishing the institution the man Wharton, his old managing editor, broken, shattered, out of work, and a hopeless drunkard, came to him and begged for a position. The man had sunk so low that he was repeatedly arrested for pretending to be blind on the street corners, and had debauched an innocent dog to assist in this deception. Cleggett forgave him the slights of many years and made him an assistant janitor in the new college of journalism.

    The post is a sinecure, and well within even the man Wharton's powers.

    Cap'n Abernethy travels with the Cleggetts a great deal, under the hallucination, which they humor, that he is of service to them. The children are very fond of him. At Claiborne Castle Cleggett has had a shallow lake constructed for him. There the Captain, still firm in the belief that he is a sailor, loves to potter about with catboats and rafts.

    Dr. Farnsworth enjoys a lucrative position as physician to the Cleggett family, and Kuroki is their butler.

    By  the prejudice against militants had abated in certain exalted circles in England, and Lady Agatha Cleggett and her husband were much at court.

    Cleggett, hating notoriety, had endeavored to conceal the story of his adventures along the dangerous coasts of Long Island; but concealment was impossible. After the death of the old Earl of Claiborne, and the demise of Reginald Maltravers, and Cleggett's purchase of the Claiborne estate, the King wished Cleggett to take the title of Earl of Claiborne.

    His Majesty sent the Premier to sound Cleggett upon the matter.

    "No, no," said Cleggett affably. "I couldn't think of it. I am quite democratic, you know."

    The second time the King sent one of the Royal Dukes to see Cleggett. They were at a house party in Wales, and Cleggett was a little disturbed that this business affair should be brought up at a gathering so distinctly social in its nature. He was too tactful to let it be seen, but secretly he felt that in approaching the matter in that fashion the Duke had erred in taste.

    "But we need men like you in the House of Lords," pleaded the Duke.

    "I cannot think of it," said Cleggett. And then, not wishing to hurt the Englishman's feelings, he said kindly: "But I will promise you this: if I should change my mind and decide to become a member of any aristocracy at all, it will be the English aristocracy."

    The Duke thanked Cleggett for the compliment; and Cleggett thought he had heard the end of it.

    He was, therefore, surprised, a few weeks later, as he was conversing with the King at Buckingham Palace, when His Majesty himself, laying his hand familiarly on Cleggett's shoulder, renewed the petition in person. It is hard to refuse things continually without seeming unappreciative. In fact, Cleggett felt trapped; if the truth must be known, he was a little angry.

    "Come, come, Cleggett," said the King, "lay aside your prejudices and oblige me. After all, it is not the sort of thing I run about offering to every American in London!"

    "Your Majesty," said Cleggett, politely but with a note of firmness and finality in his voice, "since you mention the word American you force me to speak plainly. I would not willingly wound your sensibilities in any particular, but——pardon me if I am direct——you have been very persistent. I AM an American, your Majesty, and I consider the honor of being an American citizen far above any that it is within your power to bestow. If I have not mentioned this before, it was because I did not wish to hurt you. I hope our friendship will not cease, but I must tell you flatly that I desire to hear no more of this. You will oblige me by not mentioning it again, Your Majesty."

    The King begged Cleggett's pardon with a becoming sincerity, and was about to withdraw. Cleggett, who liked him immensely, was sudden smitten with a regret that it had been so impossible to oblige him.

    "Your Majesty," he cried impulsively, "I BEG of you not to get the idea that there is anything personal in this refusal."

    "I respect principle," said the King gravely. But he WAS hurt and could not help showing it, and he was a little stiff.

    "We will compromise," said Cleggett, with a flash of inspiration.

    "I will let you have my second son, Athos Cleggett. You may make him Earl of Claiborne, if you choose. After all, HE is half English!"

    "That is like your generosity, Cleggett," said the King, smiling, and giving Cleggett his hand.

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