The Four Million
It was neither the season nor the hour when the Park had frequenters; and it is likely that
the young lady, who was seated on one of the benches at the side of the walk, had merely
obeyed a sudden impulse to sit for a while and enjoy a foretaste of coming Spring.
She rested there, pensive and still. A certain melancholy that touched her countenance
must have been of recent birth, for it had not yet altered the fine and youthful contours of
her cheek, nor subdued the arch though resolute curve of her lips.
A tall young man came striding through the park along the path near which she sat.
Behind him tagged a boy carrying a suit-case. At sight of the young lady, the man's face
changed to red and back to pale again. He watched her countenance as he drew nearer,
with hope and anxiety mingled on his own. He passed within a few yards of her, but he
saw no evidence that she was aware of his presence or existence.
Some fifty yards further on he suddenly stopped and sat on a bench at one side. The boy
dropped the suit-case and stared at him with wondering, shrewd eyes. The young man
took out his handkerchief and wiped his brow. It was a good handkerchief, a good brow,
and the young man was good to look at. He said to the boy:
"I want you to take a message to that young lady on that bench. Tell her I am on my way
to the station, to leave for San Francisco, where I shall join that Alaska moose-hunting
expedition. Tell her that, since she has commanded me neither to speak nor to write to
her, I take this means of making one last appeal to her sense of justice, for the sake of
what has been. Tell her that to condemn and discard one who has not deserved such
treatment, without giving him her reasons or a chance to explain is contrary to her nature
as I believe it to be. Tell her that I have thus, to a certain degree, disobeyed her
injunctions, in the hope that she may yet be inclined to see justice done. Go, and tell her
The young man dropped a half-dollar into the boy's hand. The boy looked at him for a
moment with bright, canny eyes out of a dirty, intelligent face, and then set off at a run.
He approached the lady on the bench a little doubtfully, but unembarrassed. He touched
the brim of the old plaid bicycle cap perched on the back of his head. The lady looked at
him coolly, without prejudice or favour.
"Lady," he said, "dat gent on de oder bench sent yer a song and dance by me. If yer don't
know de guy, and he's tryin' to do de Johnny act, say de word, and I'll call a cop in t'ree
minutes. If yer does know him, and he's on de square, w'y I'll spiel yer de bunch of hot air
he sent yer."
The young lady betrayed a faint interest.