The Man from Home eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 76 pages of information about The Man from Home.

PIKE [coolly].  You’re anxious about that, are you?

HAWCASTLE.  So deeply that I ascertained the penalty for it.  You may confirm my information by appealing to the nearest carabiniere—­strange to say, many of them are very near.  The minimum penalty for one whose kind heart has thus betrayed him—­[he turns up sharply toward the lighted windows of hotel, then sharply again to PIKE, his voice lifting]—­is two years’ imprisonment, and Italian prisons, I am credibly informed, are quite ferociously unpleasant.

PIKE [gently].  Well, being in jail any place ain’t much like an Elks’ carnival.

HAWCASTLE.  There would be no escape, even for a citizen of your admirable country, if his complicity were established, especially if he happened to be—­as it were—­caught in the act!

PIKE [grimly].  Talk plain; talk plain.

HAWCASTLE.  My dear young friend, imagine that a badly wanted man appears upon the pergola here and makes an appeal of I know not what nature to one of your fellow-countrymen, who—­for the purposes of argument—­is at work upon this car.  Say that the too-amiable American conceals the fugitive under the automobile, and afterward, with the connivance of a friend, deceives the officers of the law and shelters the criminal, say in a room of that lower suite yonder.

[His voice shows growing excitement as a man’s shadow appears on the shade of the window nearest the door.]

Imagine, for instance, that the shadow which at this moment appears on the curtain were that of the wanted man—­then, would you not agree that a moderate and reasonable request of your fellow-countryman might be acceded to?

PIKE [swallowing painfully].  What would be the nature of that request?

HAWCASTLE.  It would concern a certain alliance; might concern a certain settlement.

PIKE.  If the request were refused, what would the consequences be?

HAWCASTLE.  Two years, at least, for the American, and the friend who had been his accessory.  Altogether I should consider it a disastrous situation.

PIKE [thoughtfully].  Yes; looks like it.

HAWCASTLE [with sharp significance].  If this fellow-countryman of yours were assured that the law would be made to take its course if a favorable answer were not received—­say, by ten o’clock to-night—­what, in your opinion, would his answer be?

PIKE [plaintively].  Well, it would all depend upon which of my countrymen you caught.  If it depended on the one I know best, he’d tell you he’d see you in hell first!

[The two remain staring fixedly at each other as the curtain slowly descends.]



SCENE:  A handsome private salon in the hotel the same evening.  There are cabinets against the walls, buhl tables, luxurious tapestried chairs, etc.  At back, double doors, wide open, disclose a brilliantly lit conservatory and hall with palms and oleanders in bloom.  On the left a heavily curtained window looks out upon the garden; on the right is a closed door.  Unseen, an orchestra is playing an aria from “Pagliacci.”

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The Man from Home from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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