Books Should Be Free
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

The Law of Hemlock Mountain   By:

Book cover

First Page:



Frontispiece by DOUGLAS DUER

New York W. J. Watt & Company PUBLISHERS



[Illustration: "I am sorry," declared Spurrier, humbly. "I didn't know they were pets. They behaved very much like wild birds."]


The officer whose collar ornaments were the winged staff and serpents of the medical branch, held what was left of the deck in his right hand and moistened the tip of his thumb against the tip of his tongue.

"Re├źnforcements, major?" he inquired with a glance to the man at his left, and the poker face of the gentleman so addressed remained impervious to expression as the answer was given back:

"No, I'll stand by what I've got here."

If the utterance hung on a quarter second of indecision it was a circumstance that went unnoted, save possibly by a young man with the single bars of a lieutenant on his shoulder straps and Spurrier gave no flicker of recognition of what had escaped the others.

Between the whitewashed walls of the room where the little group of officers sat at cards the Philippine night breeze stirred faintly with a fevered breath that scarcely disturbed the jalousies.

The pile of poker chips had grown to a bulkiness and value out of just proportion to the means of army officers below field rank and except for the battalion, commander and the surgeon none there held higher grade than a captaincy. This jungle hot weather made men irresponsible.

One or two of the faces were excitedly flushed; several others were morosely dark. The lights guttered with a jaundiced yellow and sweat beaded the temples of the players. Sweat, too, made slippery the enameled surfaces of the pasteboards. Sweat seemed to ooze and simmer in their brains like the oil from overheated asphalt.

These men had been forced into a companionship of monotony in a climate of unhealth until their studied politeness, even their forced jocularity was rather the effort of toleration than the easy play of comradeship. Their arduously wooed excitement of draw poker, which had run improvidently out of bounds, was not a pleasure so much as an expedient against the boredom that had rubbed their tempers threadbare and put an edgy sharpness on their nerves.

Captain Comyn, upon whose call for cards the dealer now waited, was thinking of Private Grant out there under guard in the improvised hospital. The islands had "gotten to" Private Grant and "locoed" him, and he had breathed sulphurous maledictions against Captain Comyn's life but it was not those threats that now disturbed the company commander.

Of late Captain Comyn had been lying awake at night and wondering if he, too, were not going the same way as the unfortunate file. Horribly quiet fears had been stealing poisonously into his mind a mind not given to timidities and the word "melancholia" had assumed for him a morbid and irresistible compulsion. No one save the captain's self knew of these secret hauntings, born of climate and smoldering fever, and he would not have revealed them on the torture rack. For them he entertained the same shame as that of a boy grown too large for such weakness, who shudders with an unconfessed fear of the dark. But he could no more shake them loose and be free of them than could the Ancient Mariner rid himself of the bird of ill omen tied about his neck. Now he pulled himself together and tossed away a single card.

"I'll take one in the place of that," he commented with studied carelessness, and Lieutenant John Spurrier, with that infectious smile which came readily to his lips, pointed a contrast with the captain's abstraction by the snappy quickness of his announcement:

"If I'm going to trail along, I'll need three. Yes, three, please, major."

"When Spurrier sits in the game," commented a player who, with a dolorous glance at the booty before him, threw down his hands, "we at least get action... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books