* * * * *
Halfway up the hill to my house I stopped to look back and all round. The vast hills in their snowy garments looked down upon the land, upon the house of Hazen Kinch. Still and silent and inscrutable.
I knew now that a just and brooding God dwelt among these hills.
BY ALBERT PAYSON TERHUNE
From The Popular Magazine
“Furthermore, howadji,” ventured Najib, who had not spoken for fully half an hour, but had been poring over a sheaf of shipment items scribbled in Arabic, “furthermore, I am yearnful to know who was the unhappy person the wicked general threatened. Or, of a perhaps, it was that poor general himself who was bethreatened by his padishah or by the—”
“What on earth are you babbling about, Najib?” absent-mindedly asked Logan Kirby, as he looked up from a month-old New York paper which had arrived by muleteer that day and which the expatriated American had been reading with pathetic interest.
Now, roused from his perusal by Najib’s query, Logan saw that the little Syrian has ceased wrestling with the shipment items and was peering over his employer’s shoulder, his beady eyes fixed in keen curiosity on the printed page.
“I enseeched you to tell me, howadji,” said Najib, “who has been threatening that poor general. Or, perchancely, who has been made to cower himself undertheneath of that fierce general’s threatenings. See, it is there, howadji. There, in the black line at the left top end of the news. See?”
Following the guidance of Najib’s stubby, unwashed finger, Kirby read the indicated headline:
GENERAL STRIKE THREATENED
“Oh!” he answered, choking back a grin, “I see. There isn’t any ‘general,’ Najib. And he isn’t threatened. It means—”
“May the faces of all liars be blackened!” cried Najib in virtuous indignation. “And may the maker of the becurst newspage lie be doubly afflictioned! May his camels die and his wives cast dust upon his bared head! For he has befooled me, by what he has here enprinted. My heart went out with a sweet sorrowfulness for that poor general or for the folk he bethreatened. Whichever it might chance itself to be. And now the news person has made a jest of the truth. But he—”
Kirby’s attempt at self-control went to pieces. He guffawed. Najib eyed him sourly; then said in icy reproof:
“It is known to all, howadji, that Sidi-ben-Hassan, the sheikh, was the wisest of men. And did not Sidi-ben-Hassan make known, in his book, that ‘Laughter is for women and for hyenas’? Furthermore—”
“I’m sorry I laughed at you, Najib,” returned Kirby, with due penitence, “I don’t wonder you got such an idea, from the headline. You see, I have read the story that goes under it. That’s how I happen to know what it means. It means that several thousand workmen of several allied trades threatened to go on strike. That will tie up a lot of business, you see; along a lot of lines. It will mean a general tie-up—a—”