Sie sind auf Seite 1von 130

8

15

<&UIBRARY0/c

i I

C?

"~

%
I I

i?

3,

\f~

3,~, A

I s
S s

<

ktf'CAUFQB^

OF-CALIF

f
iJllVO-JO

VllFO/?^

S
^

/-'

c^

P&AHvaan-y^-

tv^i
^OJIIVJ-JO^"

^OF-CAilFO/?^
*
=r

>> y^*'

liJj

^Aavaain^

IVERS/^

^
i-snv

%1MNI1-?\\V

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

BOOKS BY JACK LONDON


MICHAEL, BROTHER OP JERRY. 65. net
ISLANDS. 65.
JERRY OF THE
" The
Globe
finest he has ever done."
TURTLES OF TASMAN. is. 6d. net
THE STRENGTH OF THE STRONG. 6.
"All worth reading."
Athentrum
THE NIGHT-BORN
(Stories). 6s. and is. 6d.
"
:

I defy you
Punch:
the same time."

to read

net
them and think of the Boches

THE LITTLE LADY OF THE BIG HOUSE.


"A real Londonism Romance."
THE JACKET. 6s. and is. 6d. net
Times:

"Mr. London

6s.

and

is.

at

6d. net

Emphatically a Jack Lon-

at his best.

donian tour-dt- force.''

THE VALLEY OF THE MOON. 6s. and is.


Times: "Delightful; absorbing."
6s. and is. 6d. net
JOHN BARLEYCORN.
"
Standard :

An

64. net

amazing human document, and a

treatise

on a

great question worthy of the consideration of social reformers."

BEFORE ADAM. it. 6d. net


THE SCARLET PLAGUE. " (Entirely
Manchester Guardian ;

It is

New.) is. 6d. net


sheer muscular chestiness' that
'

wins him his popularity."

THE GOD OF HIS


FATHERS,
"
Spectator:

self to

Mr. London

is. 6d. net


possesses that power of adapting

ay period or circumstance which characterises Mr.

him-

Kipling's

work."

THE IRON HEEL. if. 6d. net


Wrld "A story of immense interest. "
6s.
THE MUTINY OF THE ELSINORE.
"
:

and is. 6d. net


Manchester Guardian:
Nothing quite so good as this tale" of
mutiny on the high seas has been done since Treasure Island."
ADVENTURE," is. 6d. net
Punck:
He has them all beat."
THE CRUISE OF" THE SNARK. is. 6d. net
Makes a fresh and strong appeal to all those who
Scotsman :
love high adventure and good literature."
THE CRUISE OF THE DAZZLER. is. 6d. net
'

A the-meum : "His descriptions of weather are wonderful "


LOST FACE. 6s. and "is. 6d. net
Excellent are these short stories."

Daily Telegraph :

SOUTH SEA TALES. 6s.


and is. 6d. net
" All
Emtire Maratine
perfect and inimitable gems."
6s. and is. 6d. net
WHEN GOD LAUGHS.
"
Observer:
Immensely worth reading."
THE ROAD. (Entirely" New.) is.6d.net
Wonderful things to read about."
Daily Graphic
THE HOUSE OF PRIDE.
(Entirely New.) is. 6d. net
"
Daily Express :
Grips the heart and stirs the imagination."
LOVE OF LIFE. is. 6d. net
:

Saturday Review

"Mr. London

is

always at his best

in

dog

stories."

A SON OF THE SUN.


Dundee

and

is. 6d. net


Advertiser :
glorious story."
6s. and is. 6d. net

6s.

"A

SMOKE BELLEW. "


Fine racy stuff in Mr. London's best
Glasgow Herald:
AN ODYSSEY "OF THE NORTH, is. 6d. net
Nation:

rein."

He

writes a novel with something of the intensity


with which an athlete shoots a goal."
FROST, is. 6d. net
is the real stuff."
Manchester Guardian :

CHILDREN OF THE

MILLS & BOON,

"He

Ltd., 49 Rupert Street,

Loos. W.i

THE
SCARLET PLAGUE
BY

JACK LONDON
AUTHOR OF
VALLEY OF THE MOON."

ETC. ETC.

MILLS & BOON, LIMITED


49

RUPERT STREET
LONDON, W.I

Copyright in the United States of America, by JAC

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


I

THE way

led

along upon what had once


of a railroad.
But

been the embankment

no train had run upon it for many years.


The forest on either side swelled up the
slopes of the
it

in a green

embankment and
wave

crested across

The

and bushes.

of trees

was as narrow as a man's body, and


was no more than a wild- animal runway.
trail

Occasionally, a piece of rusty iron, showing

through

the forest-mould,

the

and the

rail

ties

one place, a ten-inch


at a connection,
clearly

into

followed the

had

remained.

lifted

through
the end of a rail

The

rail,

held to

tie
it

had evidently

by the

bed to be

spike

filled

long enough
gravel and rotten leaves, so that

1*

In

tree, bursting

view.

for its

advertised that

still

now

with
the

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

10

crumbling, rotten timber thrust itself up at


a curious slant. Old as the road was, it

was manifest that

it

had been

of the

mono-

rail type.

XAn
this

man and

old

runway.

a boy
They moved

man was

travelled along
slowly,

for

the

touch of palsy made


very
his movements tremulous, and he leaned
old

old, a

rude skull-cap
of goat- skin protected his head from the
sun. From beneath this fell, a scant fringe

upon

heavily

of

stained

ingeniously
his eyes,

the

way

which

his

staff.

and dirty-white

made from

and from under


of his feet

should

hair.

a large
this

on the

have been

leaf,

visor,

shielded

he peered at

His beard,
snow-white but

trail.

which showed the same weather-wear and

camp- stain as

his

fell

hair,

nearly to his

waist in a great tangled mass. About his


chest and shoulders hung a single, mangy

garment
withered

of

goat-skin.

and

skinny,

His arms and


betokened

age, as well as did their

sunburn and scars

and scratches betoken long years


to the elements.

legs,

extreme

of

exposure

THE SCAKLET PLAGUE

11

The boy, who led the way, checking the


eagerness of his muscles to the slow progress

wore a

of the elder, likewise

single

garment

ragged-edged piece of bear-skin, with


a hole in the middle through which he had
thrust his head.

He

could not have been

more than twelve years


quettishly

severed

one

over

tail of

a pig.

medium-sized

ear

old.

Tucked

was the

co-

freshly

In one hand he carried

bow and an

arrow.

On

back was a quiverful of arrows. Erom


a sheath hanging about his neck on a thong,

his

projected the battered handle of a huntingknife.


He was as brown as a berry, and

walked

softly,

with almost a catlike tread.

In marked contrast with

his

skin were his

deep blue,

eyes

blue,

sun-burned

but

and sharp as a pair of gimlets. They


seemed to bore into all about him in a way

keen'

that was habitual.

As he went along he

smelled things, as well, his distended, quivering nostrils carrying to his brain an endless

messages from the outside world.


Also, his hearing was acute, and had been
series

so

of

trained that

it

operated automatically.

THE SCAELET PLAGUE

12

Without conscious

effort,

lie

heard

all

the

slight sounds in the apparent quiet

heard,

and

sounds

differentiated,

and

classified these

whether they were of the wind rustling


the leaves, of the humming of bees and gnats,

rumble of the sea that drifted


him only in lulls, or of the gopher, just
under his foot, shoving a pouchful of earth
of the distant

to

into the entrance of his hole.

Suddenly he became alertly tense. Sound,


sight, and odour had given him a simultaneous warning.

His hand went back to

the old man, touching him, and the pair

stood
of the

and

still.

Ahead,

arose a crackling sound,

embankment,

t/he

one side of the top

*at

boy's gaze was fixed on the tops

of the agitated bushes.

a grizzly, crashed

Then a

into view,

large bear,

and likewise

stopped abruptly, at sight of the humans.


did not like them, and growled querulously.
Slowly the boy fitted the arrow

He

to the bow,
string

taut.

and slowly he pulled the bowBut he never removed his

eyes from the bear.

from under his green

The old man peered


and

leaf at the danger,

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

13

stood as quietly as the boy. For a few


seconds this mutual scrutinizing went on
;

then, the bear betraying a growing irrita-

the boy, with a movement of his


head, indicated that the old man must step
bility,

aside from the trail

still

They

waited

till

bushes from the

bow

taut and ready.

crashing

among

opposite side of

the

the em-

them the bear had gone

told

The boy grinned

on.

the
"

followed, going back-

holding the

ward,

bankment

and go down the em-

The boy

bankment.

as he led back 'to

trail.

big un, Granser," he chuckled.

The

old

man

"

They get
plained

in

shook his head,

thicker every day/' he com-

thin,

undependable

"Who'd have thought I'd


time when a man would be

little

Cliff

then.

afraid of his

life

House.

babies used to come out here from

San Francisco by tens


nice

falsetto.

to see the

When I
Edwin, men and women and

on the way to the

was a boy,

live

day.

No,

And
sir.

there

of

thousands on a

weren't

any

bears

They used to pay money

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

14

to look at

them

in cages, they were that

rare/'

"

What

is

money, Granser

"
?

man could answer, the boy


and triumphantly shoved his hand
into a pouch under his bear-skin and pulled
Before the old

recollected

forth a battered

and tarnished

The old man's eyes

glistened,

silver dollar.

as he held

the coin close to them.

"

and

I can't see,"

see

if

he muttered.

"

You

look

you can make out the date, Edwin."

The boy laughed.

"

You're a great Granser," he cried de"


always making believe them little

lightedly,

marks mean something."


The old man manifested an accustomed
chagrin as he brought the coin back again
close to his

"

own

2012," he

eyes.

shrilled,

"
ling grotesquely.

and then

fell

to cack-

That was the year Morgan

the Fifth was appointed President of the

United States by the Board of Magnates.


It must have been one of the last coins minted,
for the Scarlet

Lord

Death came

think of

it

in 2013.

Lord

Sixty years ago, and

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


I

15

am

the only person alive to-day that lived


those times. Where did you find it,

in

"

Edwin

The boy, who had been regarding him


with the tolerant curiousness one accords
to the prattlings of the feeble-minded, an-

swered promptly.
"

got

it

when we was

off

of

Jose last spring.

Hoo-Hoo

The ancient caught his


grip and urged along the
"

found

it

down near San

said it

Ain't you hungry, Granser

shining

He

Hoo-hoo.

herdin' goats

was money.

"
?

staff in

a tighter

trail, his

old eyes

greedily.

hope Hare-Lip's found a crab


"
or two/' he mumbled.
They're good
I

eat-

mighty good eating when you've


no more teeth and you've got grandsons

ing, crabs,

that love their old grandsire and


point of catching crabs for him.

make a

When

was a boy
But Edwin, suddenly stopped by what
he saw, was drawing the bowstring on a
fitted arrow.

He had

of a crevasse in the

paused on the brink

embankment.

An

an-

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

16
cient

culvert

had here washed

and

out,

the stream, no longer confined, had cut a

passage through the fill k On the opposite


side, the end of a rail projected and overIt showed rustily through the creep-

hung.

ing vines which overran

Beyond, crouch-

it.

ing by a bush, a rabbit looked across at him

Fully fifty feet was


the distance, but the arrow flashed true ;

in trembling hesitancy.

and the transfixed

rabbit,

crying

out

in

sudden fright and hurt, struggled painfully

away

The boy himself was


brown skin and flying fur as

into the brush.

a flash

of

he bounded down the steep wall of the gap


and up the other side. His lean muscles
were springs
ful

and

of steel that released into grace-

efficient

action.

hundred

beyond, in a tangle of bushes,


the

wounded

creature,

feet

he overtook

knocked

head

its

on a convenient tree-trunk, and turned

it

over to Granser to carry.


"
Rabbit is good, very good," the ancient
"
but when it comes to a toothquavered,

some delicacy
a boy

prefer crab.

When

was

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


' '

17

do you say so much that ain't got


"

Why

no sense

Edwin impatiently

interrupted

the other's threatened garrulousness.


The boy did not exactly utter these words,

but something that remotely resembled them


and that was more guttural and explosive

and economical

of

qualifying phrases.

His

speech showed distant kinship with that of


the old man, and the latter 's speech was

approximately an English that had gone


through a bath of corrupt usage.
"

What

tinued,

is

why

Crab

'

delicacy
I never

want

"

heard

to

)fou
is

know/' Edwin con-

call

crab

'

crab, ain't it

toothsome
?

No

one

such funny things."


sighed but did not answer,

calls it

The old man

and they moved on in

silence.

The

surf

grew suddenly louder, as they emerged from


the forest upon a stretch of sand dunes

A few goats were browsthe


sandy hillocks, and a skining among
clad boy, aided by a wolfish-looking dog
that was only faintly reminiscent of a collie,

bordering the sea.

was watching them. Mingled with the roar


of the surf was a continuous, deep-throated

THE SCAKLET PLAGUE

18

barking or bellowing, which came from a


cluster of jagged rocks a hundred yards out

Here huge sea-lions hauled themup to lie in the sun or battle with one
another. In the immediate foreground arose

from

shore.

selves

the smoke of a

fire,

tended by a third savage-

Crouched near him were several

looking boy.

wolfish dogs similar to the one that guarded

the goats.

The old man accelerated


eagerly as he neared the
"
"

Mussels

"

Mussels

Hoo

he

And

his pace, sniffing

fire.

muttered

ain't

tbat

Ain't that a crab

ecstatically.

Hoo-

crab,

My, my, you

boys are good to your old grandsire."

Hoo-Hoo, who was apparently


same age as Edwin, grinned.
"All you want, Granser. I got

The old man's


Sitting
stiff

down

palsied eagerness

-in

from

heat had forced

let

four/'

was

pitiful.

him, he poked a large


of the coals.
The

out

its shells

salmon-coloured,

the

the sand as quickly as his

limbs would

rock-mussel

of

was

Between thumb and

apart,

and the meat,

thoroughly

cooked.

forefinger, in trembling

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


it

moment

the next

man

old
tears

and carried

morsel

caught the
to his mouth. But
lie

haste,

it

19

was too

hot,

as violently ejected.

with

spluttered

ran out of

his

the

eyes

pain,

and down

and

The
and
his

cheeks.

The boys were true


humour

only the cruel

them the

savages,

possessing

of the savage.

To

was excruciatingly funny,


and they burst into loud laughter. HooHoo danced up and down, while Edwin
rolled gleefully on the ground.
The boy
incident

with the goats came running to join in the

fun/
"

'.

Set 'em to cool, Edwin, set "em to cool,"

man

besought, in the midst of his


grief, making no attempt to wipe away^the
"
And
tears that still flowed from his eyes.
the old

cool a crab,

Edwin,

too.

You know your

grandsire likes crabs."

From

the

coals

great

sizzling,

the

many

mussels

arose

which proceeded from

bursting open their shells and exuding their


moisture.
They were large shellfish, run-

ning from three to six inches in length.

The

THE SCAHLET PLAGUE

20

boys raked them out with sticks and placed


them on a large piece of driftwood to cool.
"
When I was a boy, we did not laugh at
our elders

we

respected them."

The boys took no


continued to babble

notice,

and Granser

an incoherent flow

of

complaint and censure. But this time he


careful, and did not burn his mouth.

was more

All began to eat, using nothing but their

hands and making loud mouth-noises and lipsmackings.


Hare-lip,

The
slyly

third boy,

deposited a

who was

called

pinch of sand

on a mussel the ancient was carrying to his


mouth
and when the grit of it bit into
;

the old fellow's mucous

membrane and gums,

the laughter was again uproarious. He was


unaware that a joke had been played on

him, and spluttered and spat until Edwin,


gave him a gourd of fresh water

relenting,

with which to wash out his mouth.


"
"
Edwin
Where's them crabs, Hoo-Hoo ?
"
demanded.
Granser's set upon having a
snack."

Again Granger's eyes burned with greediness as a large crab was handed to him.

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


It

was a

shell .with legs

and

all

21

complete,

but the meat had long since departed. With


shaky fingers and babblings of anticipation,
the old
filled

"
,

man

broke

off

a leg and found

it

with emptiness.

The

crabs,

Hoo-Hoo

"
?

He

wailed.

"The crabs?"
"

crabs.

was
I

foolin',

Granser.

They

ain't

no

never found one."

The boys were overwhelmed with

delight

at sight of the tears of senile disappoint-

ment that dribbled down the old man's


cheeks.
Then, unnoticed, Hoo-Hoo replaced
the empty shell with a fresh-cooked crab.
Already dismembered, from the cracked legs

the white meat sent forth a small cloud of

savoury steam. This attracted the old man's


nostrils, and he looked down in amazement.

The change of his mood to one of joy was


immediate. He snuffled and muttered and
mumbled, making almost a croon of delight,
as he began to eat. Of this the boys took
little notice, for it was an accustomed spec-

Nor did they notice his occasional


exclamations and utterances of phrases which

tacle.

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

22

meant nothing to them,

when he smacked
his

his

think

mayonnaise

instance,

and champed
"

gums while muttering

Just

for

as,

lips

Mayonnaise

And

it's

sixty

IVo

years since the last was ever made-!


generations and never a smell of it

Why,

in those days it was served in


taurant with crab."

When

every res-

he~could eat no more, the old

sighed, wiped, his

hands on

and gazed out over the


tent of a full

his

naked

man
legs,

With the conhe


waxed
reminisstomach,
sea.

cent.

"

To think

alive with

of it

I've seen this beach

men, women, and children on a

pleasant Sunday. And there weren't any


bears to eat them up, either. And right
up there on the cliff was a big restaurant
'

where you could get anything you wanted


to eat. Four million people lived in San
FranciscoJthen.

And now,

in

the

whole

city and country there aren't forty all told.


And out there on the sea were ships and

ships always to be seen, going in for the


Golden Gate or coming out. And airships

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


in the air

dirigibles

and

23

machines.

flying

They could travel two hundred miles an


The mail contracts with the New

hour.

York and San Francisco Limited demanded


that for the minimum.

There was a chap,

name, who succeeded in making three hundred


but the

a Frenchman,

forget his

thing was risky, too risky for conservative


persons.

But he was on the

right clue,

and

he would have managed it if it hadn't been


for the Great Plague.
When I was a boy,
there were men alive who remembered the

coming of the first aeroplanes, and now I


have lived to see the last of them, and that
sixty years ago."

The old man babbled

unheeded by
who were long accustomed to his
garrulousness, and whose vocabularies, beon,

the boys,

sides,

lacked the greater portion of the words


It was noticeable that in these

he used.

rambling soliloquies his English seemed to


recrudesce

into

phraseology.

with the boys

better

construction

But when he talked


it

own uncouth and

and

directly

lapsed, largely, into thei^

simpler forms.

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

24
"

But there weren't many crabs

days," the old

man wandered

in those

on.

"

They

were fished out, and they were great delicacies.


The open season was only a month

And now

too.

long,

crabs

are

accessible

the whole year around. Think of it catching all the crabs you want, any time
you want, in the surf of the Cliff House

"

beach

sudden commotion among the goats

brought the boys to their feet. / The dogs


about the fire rushed to join their snarling
fellow

who guarded

the

goats,

while

the

goats themselves stampeded in the direction


of

their

human

protectors.

half-dozen

forms, lean and grey, glided about on the


sand hillocks or faced the bristling dogs.

Edwin arched an arrow

that

fell short.

But

Hare-Lip, with a sling such as David carried


into battle against Goliath, hurled a stone

through the
of

air

its flight.

that whistled from the speed


It fell

squarely

among

the

wolves and caused them to slink away toward


the dark depths of the eucalyptus forest.

The boys laughed and lay down again

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

25

in the sand, while Granser sighed ponder-

He had

ously.

eaten too much, and, with

hands clasped on his paunch, the fingers


resumed his maunderings.

interlaced, he

"

'

The

'

fleeting systems lapse like foam,'

he mumbled what was evidently a quota"

tion.

man's

toil

upon the planet was

He

foam.

foam, and

That's it

All

fleeting.

much

just so

domesticated the serviceable ani-

mals, destroyed the hostile ones, and cleared

the land of

wild vegetation.

its

And

then

he passed, and the flood of primordial life


rolled back again, sweeping his handiwork
the weeds and the forest inundated

away

the

his fields,
his flocks,
Cliff

beasts

of

prey swept over

and now there are wolves on the

He was

House beach."

the thought.

"

Where

appalled

by

four million people

disported themselves, the wild wolves roam


to-day,
lions,

and
with

themselves

Think

Death

the

savage

prehistoric

against

of it!

And

progeny
weapons,

of

our

defend

the

all

fanged despoilers.
because of the Scarlet

"

The adjective had caught Hare-Lip's

ear.

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

26

"He's always saying that," he

"What

Edwin.
'

me
old
"

"

'

The

scarlet

of

the maples can shake


"
the
by/

like the cry of bugles going

man

quoted.

Edwin answered the question.


know it because you come

It's red,"

And you

don't

from the Chauffeur Tribe.

know
red
"

to

said

scarlet?"

is

none

of

I know that."
Red is red, ain't

it ?

nothing,

They never did


them.

Scarlet

is

"
Hare-lip grum-

"

Then what's the good of gettin*


and
calling it scarlet ?
cocky
"
Granser, what for do you always say so
much what nobody knows ? " he asked.
bled.

"

Scarlet

ain't

anything,

but red

is

red.

don't you say red, then ?"


"
Red is not the right word," was the
"
The plague was scarlet. The whole
reply.
face and body turned scarlet in an hour's

Why

Don't I know

time.
of it

because
is

And

am

Red

Didn't I see enough

telling

well, because it

no other word
"

is

you it was scarlet


was scarlet. There

for it."

good enough for me," Hare-Lip

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

27

"

muttered obstinately.
My dad calls red
and
he
to
know.
He says everyred,
ought

body died
"

of the

Your dad

is

Red Death."
common fellow, descended

from a common fellow," Granser retorted


"
heatedly.

Don't

chauffeur,

He

Your

other

for

grandmother was

the

of

But your

persons.

good

stock,

children did not take after her.

remember when
fish at
11

I first

Lake Temescal

What

is

beginning
was a

grandsire

and without' education.

servant,

worked

know

the Chauffeurs.

of

only the

Don't

met them, catching


"

education ?

"

Edwin

asked.

"

Calling red scarlet," Hare-Lip sneered,


then returned to the attack on Granser.

"

My

dad told me, an* he got

it

afore he croaked, that your wife

from his dad

was a Santa

Rosan, an' that she was sure no account.

He

said she

was a

hash-slinger before the

Death, though I don't know what a


You can tell me, Edwin."
hash-slinger is.

Red

But Edwin shook

his

head in token

of

ignorance.

"

It

is

true, she

was a waitress," Granser

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

28

"
acknowledged.

But she was a good woman,

Women

and your mother was her daughter.

were very scarce in the days after the Plague.


She was the only wife I could find, even if
sheit.

was
But

a Jiash-slinger, as your father calls


it

is

not nice to talk about our

progenitors that way/'

"

Dad says that the wife of the first


Chauffeur was a lady
"What's a lady?" Hoo-Hoo demanded.
"
A lady's a Chauffeur squaw/' was the
quick reply of Hare-Lip.
"
The first Chauffeur was
fellow, as I said

"

pounded

wa

but his wife was a lady, a great

Van Warden.

of

of the
,

common
man ex-

Before the Scarlet Death she was the

lady.

wife

Bill,

before," the old

Board

of

He was

President

Industrial Magnates,

one of the dozen

He was

worth one

millions

of

billion,

coins

dollars

and

men who ruled America.

there in your pouch, Edwin.

eight
like

And

hundred

you have
then came

the Scarlet Death, and his wife became the


wife of Bill, the

first

to beat her, too.

Chauffeur.

have seen

it

He

used

myself."

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


Hoo-Hbo, lying on

his

29

stomach and idly


and

digging his toes in the sand, cried out


investigated,

first,

small

he

hole

his toe-nail,

had dug.

and next, the

The other two

boys joined him, excavating the sand rapidly


with their hands till there lay three skeletons

exposed.

Two were

of

adults,

old

man hudged

the

The

third being that of a part-grown child.

along on the ground and

peered at the find.


"
"
That's
Plague victims," he announced.
the way they died everywhere in the last
days. This must have been a family, ninning

away from the contagion and perishing here


on the Cliff House beach. They what are
"

you doing, Edwin ?


This question was asked

in sudden dismay,

as Edwin, using the back of his huntingknife,

began to knock out the teeth from

the jaws of one of the skulls.


"
Going to string "em," was the response.
The three boys were now hard at it and
;

quite a knocking and hammering arose, in

which Granser babbled on unnoticed:


"

You are true

savages.

Already has begun

THE SCAKLET PLAGUE

30
the

custom

another

of

wearing

you

generation

human

In

teeth.

be

will

perforat-

ing your noses and ears and wearing orna-

ments

of

human

race

bone and
is

shell.

doomed

know.

and farther into the primitive night


again

it

begins

civilization.

human

And

ere

bloody climb upward to

When we

lack of room,

another.

its

The

to sink back farther

increase

and

feel

the

we will proceed to kill one


then I suppose you will wear

scalp-locks at your waist, as well

as you, Edwin,

who

are the gentlest of

my

grandsons, have already begun with that


vile pigtail.
Throw it away, Edwin, boy
throw it away."
;

"

What

Hare-Lip

a gabble the old geezer makes/'

remarked,

extracted, they

when,

the

teeth

all

begun an attempt at equal

division.

They were very quick and abrupt in their


actions, and their speech, in moments of hot
discussion over the Allotment of the choicer

was

truly a gabble.

They spoke in
and
short
monosyllables
jerky sentences that
a
more
were
gibberish than a language.

teeth,

THE SCAELET PLAGUE


And

ran

it

through

yet,

hints

31

of

gram-

matical construction, and appeared vestiges


of the conjugation of

Even the speech

of

some superior

culture.

Granser was so corrupt

put down literally it would be


almost so much nonsense to the reader.
that were

it

This, however,

boys.

When

was when he talked with the

he got into the

babbling to himself,
into pure English.

it

full

swing of

slowly purged itself

Tfte sentences

grew longer
and were enunciated with a rhythm and
ease that was reminiscent of the lecture

platform.

"

Tell us

about the Red Death, Granser,"

Hare-Lip demanded, when the teeth affair


had been satisfactorily concluded.
"
The Scarlet Death," Edwin corrected.
"
An' don't work all that funny lingo on
"
Talk sensible,
us," Hare-Lip went on.
Granser, like a Santa

Rosan ought

Other Santa Rosans don't talk

like

to talk.

you."

II

THE

man showed

old

called

upon.

He

pleasure in being thus

cleared

his

throat,

and

began.
"

was

Twenty or thirty years ago my story


in great demand.
But in these days

nobody seems interested


"

"
There you go
Cut out the funny
!

41

What's

You

interested ?

that don't
"

Hare-Lip cried hotly.


and talk sensible.

stuff

talk

a baby

like

know how."
"

or he'll
Let him alone," Edwin urged,
talk
at
mad
and
won't
all.
get
Skip the
catch
on
to
some of
We'll
funny places.

what he

tells

"Let her
couraged

us."
go,

for

Granser,"

the

old

Hoo-Hoo

man was

maundering about the disrespect

and the reversion

already

for elders

to cruelty of all
32

en-

humans

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


that

fell

33

from high culture to primitive con-

ditions.

The

tale began.

"

There were very many people in the


world in those days. jSan Francisco alone
}

held four millions


"

What

is

"

millions

Edwin

interrupted.

Granser looked at him kindly.


"
I know you cannot count beyond ten,

Hold up your two hands.


both of them you have altogether ten
fingers and thumbs.
Very well. I now take
so I will tell you.

On

sand

this grain of

you hold

it,

Hoo-Hoo."

He

dropped the grain of sand into the lad's


palm and went on. "Now that grain of
sand stands for the ten fingers of Edwin.
I

add another

And

other,

as

grain.

That's ten more fingers.

add another, and another, and anuntil I have added as many grains

Edwin has

fingers

and thumbs.

makes what

I call

that word

one hundred.

one hundred.

Now

That

Remember
I

put this

pebble in Hare-Lip's hand. It stands for


ten grains of sand, or ten tens of fingers, or

one hundred
2

fingers.

put in ten pebbles.

THE SCAELET PLAGUE

34

They stand

for a

thousand

a mussel-shell, and
or one

it

hundred grains
.

fingers.

And

I take

of sand, or

one thousand

."

so

fingers.

stands for ten pebbles,

on,

laboriously,

and with much

he strove to build up in their


As
of numbers.

reiteration,

minds a crude conception

the quantities increased, he had the boys


holding different magnitudes in each of

For

hands.

their
laid

the

wood

symbols

still

on

higher

the

log

sums,
of

he

drift-

he was hard put,


teeth from the
to
use
the
being compelled
skulls for millions, and the crab-shells for

and

billions.

It

for symbols

was here that he stopped,

the boys were

showing signs

of

for

becoming

tired.

"

There were four million people in San

Francisco

four teeth."

The boys' eyes ranged along from the


teeth and from hand to hand, down through
the pebbles and sand-grains to Edwin's fingers.
And back again they ranged along the as-

cending series in the effort to grasp such


inconceivable numbers.

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


"

That was a

35

lot of folks, Granser,"

Edwin

at last hazarded.

"

Like sand on the beach here,

on the beach, each grain


or child.

woman,

Yes,

like

sand

sand a man, or

of

my

boy,

all

those

people lived right here in San Francisco.


And at one time or another all those people

came out on this very beach


than there are grains of sand.

more people
More more

And San Francisco was a noble


And across the bay where we camped

more.
city.

last year,

even more people

lived, clear

from

Point Richmond, on the level ground and


on the hills, all the way around to San Leanone great city of seven million people.
Seven teeth
there, that's it, seven mil-

dro

lions."

Again the boys' eyes ranged up and down


from Edwin's fingers to the teeth on the log.
"
The
The world was full of people.
census of 2010 gave eight billions for the

whole

world

billions.

eight

was not

crab-shells,
like to-day.

yes,

eight

Mankind

great deal more about getting food.


the more food there was, the more

knew a

And

It

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

36

people there were. In the year 1800, there


were one hundred and seventy millions in
Europe alone. One hundred years later

of

grain

sand,

Hoo-Hoo

one hundred

years later, in 1900, there were five


millions in

Europe

hundred

five grains of sand,

Hoo-

Hoo, and this one tooth. This shows how


easy was the getting of food, and how men
increased.

And

in the year 2000, there were

fifteen hundred millions in Europe.


And
it was the same all over the rest of the world.

crab-shells

Eight

there,

eight

yes,

billion

people were alive on the earth when the

Death began.
was a young man when the Plague
and I lived
came twenty-seven years old
on the other side of San Francisco Bay.
Scarlet

"

in

Berkeley.

You remember

stone houses, Edwin,

the

hills

where

from
lived,

was a professor

Much

of this

Contra
in

those

great

when we came down


Costa

those

stone

That was
houses.

of English literature."

was over the heads

of the

boys, but they strove to comprehend dimly


this tale of the past.

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


"

What was them

stone

37

houses

for

"
?

Hare-Lip queried.
"

You remember when your dad


"

you to swim

The boy nodded.

taught
"
Well,

in the University of California

that

name we had

we taught

houses

the

for

is

the

young men and women how to think, just


as I have taught you now, by sand and
pebbles and shells, to know how many
There was very

people lived in those days.

much to teach. The young men and women


we taught were called students. We had
I talked to
large rooms in which we taught.
them, forty or
talking

fifty at

you now.

to

the books other


their

time,

time
"

Was

talk

"
?

a time, just as I
I

men had

written

and even, sometimes,

that

before

in

you did ? just talk,


"
Hoo Hoo demanded.

their

all

talk,

Who

hunted your meat for you ?


the goats ? and caught the fish
"

am

them about

told

and milked
"
?

Hoo-Hoo, a senhave told you, in those


days food-getting was easy. We were very
sensible

sible question.

question,

As

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

38
wise.

men.

The other men did other

you
and

say,

few

men

got the food for

talked.

talked

As

the time,

all

was given me

many

things.

much

food,

fine food, beautiful food, food that I

have

for this food

not tasted in sixty years and shall never


taste again. I sometimes think the most
wonderful achievement of
civilization

abundance,

was
its

lous

delicacy.

life

in

those

food

our tremendous

its

inconceivable

infinite variety,

Oh,

my

days,

its

grandsons,

when we

marvellife

had

was
such

wonderful things to eat."


This was beyond the boys, and they let
it slip by, words and thoughts, as a mere
senile

wandering in the narrative.


food-getters were called

"Our

freemen.

This was a joke. We of the ruling classes


owned all the land, all the machines, everything.

We

These food-getters were our slaves.


all the food they got, and

took almost

them a little so that they might eat,


and work, and get us more food
"I'd have gone into the forest and got
"
and
food for myself/' Hare-Lip announced

left

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


if

any man

39

away from me,

tried to take it

I'd have killed him/'

The old man laughed.


Did I not tell you that we

"

class

owned

all

the land,

all

of the ruling

the forest, every-

thing ?/ Any food-getter who would not get


food for us, him we punished or compelled
to starve to death.

And

very few did that.

They preferred to get food for us, and make


clothes for us, and prepare and administer
to us a thousand

a mussel-shell,

Hoo-Hoo

And

a thousand satisfactions and delights.


I was Professor Smith in those days
fessor

James Howard Smith.

ture

courses

very

many

liked

were very

Pro-

And my

popular

that

lecis,

young men and women


to hear me talk about the books other
of the

men had written.


"
And I was very happy, and I had beautiful things to eat.
And my hands were
soft,

my

because I did no work with them, and

body was clean

all

the softest garments


mangy goat-skin with

over and dressed in

He
disgust.

surveyed his
"
We did

not wear such things in those days.

Even

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

40
the

slaves

had better garments. And we


We washed our faces and

were most clean.

You boys

hands often every day.

wash unless you


in

fall

never

into the water or go

swimming/'
Neither do you, Granser/' Hoo-Hoo

"

re-

torted.

"

man.

know,

know.

am

a filthy

But times have changed.

old

Nobody

washes these days, and there are no conveniences. It is sixty years since I have
seen a piece of soap.

what soap

am

is,

and

You do

I shall

not

tell

not

know

you, for I

telling the story of the Scarlet Death.

You ,know what


a disease.

sickness

Very many

is.

from what we called germs.

word
It is

We

called it

of the diseases

came

Remember

that

a very small thing.


germ
germs.
like a woodtick, such as you find on
is

the dogs in the spring of the year when they


run in the forest. Only the germ is very small.
It

is

so small that

Hoo-Hoo began
"

you cannot

see it

to laugh.

You're a queer un, Granser, talking


about things you can't see. If you can't

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


see 'em,

what

41

how do you know they are ? That's


want to know. How do you know

"
anything you can't see ?
"
A good question, a very good question,
Hoo-Hoo. But we did see some of them.

We

had what we

called

microscopes and

ultramicroscopes, and we put them to our


eyes and looked through them, so that we

saw things larger than they really were,


and many things we could not see without
the microscopes at all.
croscopes could make a

thousand times

larger.

thousand fingers

Our

best ultrami-

germ look forty


mussel- shell

like Edwin's.

is

Take forty

mussel- shells, and

by as many times larger


was the germ when we looked at it through
a microscope. And after that, we had other
ways, by using what we called moving pictures, of making the forty-thousand-times

germ many, many thousand times larger


And thus we saw all these things
still.
which

our

eyes

of

themselves

could

not

Take a grain of sand. Break it into


ten pieces. Take one piece and break it
see.

into

ten.

2*

Break one

of

those pieces into

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

42

and one

ten,

those into ten, and one of

of

those into ten, and one of those into ten,

and do

it all day, and maybe, by sunset, you


have a piece as small as one of the

will

germs/'

The boys were openly incredulous. HareLip sniffed and sneered and Hoo-Hoo snick-

Edwin nudged them to be silent.


The woodtick sucks the blood of the

ered, until

"

but the germ, being so very small,


goes right into the blood of the body, and
there it has many children. In those days
dog,

there would be as
shell,

please

as

many
many

in one man's body.

organisms.
lion, of

of a

them were

man, he was

a disease.
of

When

them

as a billion

We

as

that

called

a crab-

crab-shell

germs micro-

a few million, or a
in a

man,

bil-

in all the blood

These germs were


There were many different kinds

more

sick.

different

kinds than there

are grains of sand on this beach.

only a few of the kinds.

We knew

The micro-organic

world was an invisible world, a world we


could not
it.

see,

and we knew very

Yet we did know

little

something.

about
There

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


was the

bacillus

micrococcus

anthracis

43

was the

there

was the Bacterium

there

and the Bacterium

lactis

that's

termo,

what turns

the goat milk sour even to this day, Hareand there were Schizomycetes without
Lip
;

And

end.

there were

many

others.

."

Here the old man launched into a, disquisition on germs and their natures, using
words and phrases of such extraordinary
length and meaninglessness, that the boys
grinned at one another and looked out over
the deserted ocean

man was
"But
win at

till

they forgot the old

babbling on.
the Scarlet Death, Granser," Ed-

last suggested.

Granser recollected himself,


start tore himself

and with a

away from the rostrum

of

the lecture-hall, where, to another-world audience,

he had been expounding the latest

theory, sixty years gone, of germs

and germ-

diseases.

"

Yes, yes,
times the

Edwin

memory

had forgotten.

Some-

of the past is very strong

upon me, and I forget that I am a dirty old


man, clad in goat- skin, wandering with my

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

44

savage grandsons

who

are goat-herds in the


'

primeval wilderness.

foam/ and

lapse like

colossal civilization.

old man.

married

fleeting

systems

am

Granser, a tired

belong to the tribe of Santa

Rosans.

The

so lapsed our glorious,

into

that

My

tribe.

sons and daughters married into the Chauf-

Sacramentos, and the Palo-Altos.

feurs, the

You, Hare-Lip, are


of the

Edwin, are

Hoo-Hoo, are
takes

its

of the Chauffeurs.

Sacramentos.

You,

And

you,

Your tribe
town that was near

of the Palo-Altos.

name from

the seat of another great institution of learning.

It

was

called Stanford University.

remember now.

was

telling

was

I in

"

you

you

my

You was

It

is

perfectly

Yes,

clear.

of the Scarlet Death.

Where

"
story

telling

about germs, the things

can't see but which

make men

sick/'

Edwin prompted.
"

Yes, that's where I was.

not notice at

A man

did

when only a few of these


But each germ
his body.

first

germs got into


broke in half and became two germs, and
they kept doing this very rapidly so that in

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


a short time there were

them

He

disease,

millions of

many

Then the man was

in the body.

had a

45

sick.

and the disease was named

germ that was

after the kind of a

It might be measles,

in him.

might be influenza,
it might be yellow fever
it might be any
of thousands and thousands of kinds of
it

diseases.

"

Now

this

is

the

strange thing

about

There were always new ones


coming to live in men's bodies. Long and
long and long ago, when there were only
these germs.

a few

men

together

new

in the world, there were few dis-

But

eases.

as

in

men increased and lived closely

great

diseases

cities

millions

and

civilizations,

of germs
Thus were countless

entered their bodies.

And

and

new kinds

arose,

human beings killed.


men packed together,

billions of

the more thickly

the more terrible were the

new

diseases that

came to

my

time, in the

be.

Long

before

middle ages, there was the Black Plague


that swept across Europe. It swept across

Europe many

times.

losis, that entered into

There

was tubercu-

men wherever

they

THE SCAELET PLAGUE

46

were thickly packed. A hundred years before


my time there was the bubonic plague. And
in Africa

was the sleeping

bacteriologists

all

fought

and destroyed them,

sickness.

these

just as

The

sicknesses

you boys

fight

the wolves away from your goats, or squash


the mosquitoes that light on you. The
'

b act eri ologists


"
it

But, Granser, what


"

Edwin

is

a what-you- call-

interrupted.

"
is

You, Edwin, are a goatherd. Your task


to watch the goats. You know a great

deal about goats.

bacteriologist watches

germs. That's his task, and he knows a


great deal about them. So, as I was saying,

the bacteriologists fought with the germs


and destroyed them sometimes. There was
leprosy, a horrible disease.

hundred years

before I was born, the bacteriologists dis-

covered the germ ^of leprosy. They knew


all about it.
They made pictures of it.
I

have seen those

found a way to

But they never


But in 1984, there

pictures.

kill it.

was the Pantoblast Plague, a

disease that

broke out in a country called Brazil and that

THE SCAKLET PLAGUE


But the

killed, millions of people.

found

logists

it

47
bacterio-

and found the way to

out,

that the Pantoblast Plague went


no farther. They made what they called a

kill it, so

serum, which they put into a man's body


killed the pantoblast germs with-

and which

out killing the man.

was Pellagra, and


were

But

easily

And

also the

killed

in 1910,

hookworm.

there

These

by the bacteriologists.
new disease that

in 19-i7 there arose a

had never been seen

before.

It

got into

the bodies of babies of only ten months old


or less, and it made them unable to move
their

hands and

and the

feet, or to eat, or

anything
bacteriologists were eleven years

in discovering

how

to kill that particular

germ and save the babies.


"
In spite of all these diseases, and
the new ones that continued to

were more and more

in the world.

This

it

the more

were;

men

of all

arise, there

was easy to get food. The


was to get food, the more men there

was because
easier it

men

there were, the more

thickly were they packed together on the

earth

and the more thickly they were

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

48

packed, the more new kinds of germs became


There were warnings. Soldervetzsky,

diseases.

as early as 1929, told the bacteriologists that

they had no guaranty against some new disease, a thousand times more deadly than

any they knew,

arising

and

by the

killing

hundreds of millions and even by the


You see, the micro-organic world
lion.

bil-

re-

mained a mystery to the end. They knew


there was such a world, and that from time
to time armies of

new germs emerged from


that was all they knew

And

to kill men.

it

For

they knew, in that invisible micro-organic world there might be

about

as

it.

many

all

different kinds of

germs as there

are grains of sand on this beach.

same

world

And

also,

might well
be that new kinds of germs came to be. It
might be there that life originated the abys-

in that

invisible

it

'

mal fecundity/ Soldervetzsky


ing the words of other

was at

to his feet,

on

his

it,

apply-

written

..."

before him.
It

called

men who had

this point that

an expression

face.

of

Hare-Lip rose
huge contempt

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


"
Granser,"

me
tell

he

"

announced,

with your gabble.


about the Red Death

sick

going to, say

so,

49

you make

Why "don't
?

If

you

you
ain't

an' we'll start back for

camp."

The old man looked at him and


began to

down

cry.

The weak

his cheeks,

and

his eighty- seven years

all

silently

tears of age rolled

the feebleness of

showed in

his grief-

stricken countenance.

"

"

down," Edwin counselled soothingly.


Granser's all right. He's just gettin' to
Sit

the Scarlet Death, ain't you, Granser ? He's


Sit
just goin' to tell us about it "right now.

down, Hare-Lip.

Go

ahead, Granser."

Ill

THE

old

man wiped

the tears

away on

his

grimy knuckles and took up the tale in a


tremulous, piping voice that soon strengthened as he got the swing of the narrative.
"
It was in the summer of 2013 that the

Plague came.
and well do
"

I
I

was twenty-seven years

remember

old,

Wireless des-

it.

patches

Hare-Lip spat loudly his disgust,


Granser hastened to make amends.
"

We

and

talked through the air in those days,

thousands

and

thousands

of

miles.

And

the word came of a strange disease that had


broken out in New York. There were seven-

teen millions of people living then in that


noblest city of America. Nobody thought

anything about the news. It was only a


small thing. There had been only a few
deaths. It seemed, though, that they had
50

THE SCAELET PLAGUE

51

died very quickly, and that one of the first


signs of the disease was the turning red
of the face

and

all

the body.

Within twenty-

came the report of the first case


And on the same day, it was
Chicago.

four hours
in

made

public that London, the greatest city

next to Chicago, had been


secretly fighting the plague for two weeks

in the world,

and censoring the

news despatches that


the
word to go forth to
is, not permitting
the rest of the world that London had the
plague.

"

It looked serious, but

like

everywhere else,
were sure that the

we

in California,

We

were not alarmed.

bacteriologists would
find a way to overcome this new germ, just
as they had overcome other germs in the
past.

But the

trouble

was the astonishing

quickness with which this germ destroyed

human

beings,

evitably killed

No

and the

fact

that

it

in-

any human body it entered.


There was the old

one ever recovered.

Asiatic cholera,

with a

man

when you might

eat dinner

in good health in the evening,

and the next morning,

if

you got up

early

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

52

enough, you would see him being hauled by

your window in the death-cart. But this


new plague was quicker than that much
quicker.
signs of

Some

From the moment of the first


it, a man would be dead in an hour.

lasted for several hours.

Many

died

within ten or fifteen minutes of the appear-

ance of the first signs.


"
The heart began to beat faster and the
heat of the body to increase. Then came
the scarlet rash, spreading like wildfire over
the

face

and body.

Most persons never

noticed the increase in heat and heart-beat,

and the

first

they knew was when the scarlet

rash came out.

Usually, they had convul-

sions at the time of the appearance of


rash.

But

these

;fche

did not last

convulsions

long and were not very severe.

If

one lived

through them, he became perfectly quiet,


and only did he feel a numbness swiftly
heels

body from the feet. The


became numb first, then the legs, and

hips,

and when the numbness reached as

creeping up his

high as his heart he died.


rave or sleep.

They did not

Their minds always remained

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


and calm up to the moment

cool

numbed and

And

stopped.

53

their heart

another strange

was the rapidity of decomposition.


No sooner was a person dead than the body
seemed to fall to pieces, to fly apart, to melt
thing

away even

you looked at

as

That was

it.

one of the reasons the plague spread so


All the billions of germs in a corpse

rapidly.

were
"

so immediately released.

And

it

was because

bacteriologists

had

ing the germs.

of all this that the

so little chance in fight-

They were

killed

in their

laboratories even as they studied the gerrn


of the Scarlet Death.

They were

fast as they perished,

heroes.

As

others stepped forth

and took

their

places.

that they

first

isolated

It

was

in

London

The news was

it.

telegraphed everywhere. Trask was the name


of the man who succeeded in this, but within
thirty hours he

was dead.

Then came the

struggle in all the laboratories to find some-

thing
All

that would

drugs

failed.

kill

You

the
see,

plague germs.*
the problem

was to get a drug, or serum, that would


kill the germs in the body and not kill the

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

54

They

body.

tried

to fight

germs, to put into the

it

body

with

of a sick

other

man

germs that were the enemies of the plague

germs
"

And you

can't

see

these germ- things,


"
and here you

Granser," Hare-Lip objected,


gabble,

gabble,

gabble

about them

as

if

they was anything, when they're nothing


at

all.

Anything you can't

see, ain't, that's

Fighting things that ain't with things


that ain't
They must have been all fools

what.

in

them

days.

That's

they croaked. I
such rot, I tell you

why

ain't goin' to believe in

that."

Granser promptly began to weep, while

Edwin hotly took up his defence.


"
Look here, Hare-Lip, you
lots of things

you

believe

in

can't see."

Hare-Lip shook his head.


"
You believe in dead men walking about.
You never seen one dead man walk about."
"
I tell you I seen 'em, last winter, when
I was wolf-hunting with dad."
"

you always spit when you


running water," Edwin challenged.
Well,

cross

THE SCABLET PLAGUE

55

"

That's to keep

/ip's

"

"

"

off

bad luck/' was Hare-

defence.

You

believe in

bad luck

"
?

Sure/'

An' you

seen bad luck,"


"

never

ain't

Edwin concluded triumphantly.


just as

You're

bad as Granser and

his germs.

what you don't

Go

believe in

see.

You

on, Gran-

ser."

Hare-Lip, crushed by this metaphysical


remained silent, and the old man

defeat,

went

tails,

and

Often

on.

often,

this

though

must not be clogged by the

narrative

was Granser's

the boys squabbled

de-

interrupted while

tale

among

themselves.

among themselves they kept up

Also,

a'

constant,

low- voiced exchange of explanation

and con-

jecture, as they strove to follow the old

into his

"

unknown and vanished

The

Scarlet

The

Francisco.

day morning.
like

They
their

flies

in

world.

Death broke out in San


first

death came on a Mon-

By Thursday they were dying


Oakland and San Francisco.

died everywhere

work,

man

walking

in

along

their

the

beds,
street.

at
It

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

56

was on Tuesday that

saw

Miss Collbran, one of

death

students, sitting
in

my

lecture-

I noticed her face while I

was

talking.

right there before

room.

my

my first

my

eyes,

had suddenly turned scarlet. I ceased


speaking and could only look at her, for the

It

was already on all


and we knew that it had come. The

fear of the plague

.first

of us

young women screamed and ran out of the


room. So did the young men run out, all
but two. Miss Collbran's convulsions were
very mild and lasted

One

of the

cried out
'

My

little of it,

and

feet

All sensation has

After a minute she said,

am unaware

my
I

'

than a minute.

fetched her a glass

She drank only a

of water.

"

less

young men

'

that I have any

knees are cold.

left

them/

have no
feet.

can scarcely

feel

feet.

And
that

have knees/
"

She lay on the

floor,

books under her head.


nothing.

a bundle of note-

And we

could do

The coldness and the numbness

crept up past her hips to her heart, and


it reached her heart she was dead.

when

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


In

fifteen

it

she was dead, there, in

room, dead.
ful,

strong,

from the

by the

minutes,

first

And

clock

57
I

timed

my own

class-

was a very beautiyoung woman. And

she

healthy

sign of the plague to her dea-th

only fifteen minutes elapsed. That will show


swift was the Scarlet Death.

you how
"
Yet

in those

few minutes

remained

with the dying woman in my classroom, the


and \
alarm had spread over the university
;

the students, by thousands, all of them, had


deserted the lecture-room and laboratories.

When

emerged, on

my way

make

to

report

to the President of the Faculty, I found the

Across the campus were


several stragglers hurrying for their homes.
Two of them were running.

university deserted.

"President Hoag,
all

found in his

alone, looking very old

office,

and very grey,

with a multitude of wrinkles in his face that


I

had never seen

before.

me, he pulled himself to

away
after
I

At the

sight of

and tottered

his feet

to the inner office, banging the door

him and locking

it.

You

see,

had been exposed, and he was

he knew

afraid.

He

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

58

me through the door to go away.


never forget my feelings as I walked
the silent corridors and out across that

shouted to
I shall

down

deserted

was not

campus*.

afraid.

had been exposed, and I looked upon myself


as already dead. It was not tkit, but a feeling of awful depression that impressed me.

Everything had stopped.


end of the world to me

It

my

was

like

world.

the

had

been born within sight and sound of the


university. It had been my predestined
career.

My

had been a professor

father

there before me,

and

his father before him.

For a century and a

half

had

this univer-

machine, been running


now, in an instant, it

sity, like a splendid

steadily

on.

had stopped.
flame die
I

And
It

was

like seeing the sacred

down on some

thrice- sacred altar.

was shocked, unutterably shocked.


"

When

arrived home,

my

housekeeper

away. And
I
found
had
the
housemaid
I
when
rang,
likewise fled. I investigated. In the kitchen

screamed as

I entered,

and

fled

found the cook on the point of departure.


she screamed, too, and in her haste

But

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

59

dropped a suitcase of her personal belongings and ran out of the house and across the
grounds,

still

act in this

We

us.

and sent

You

way when

can hear her

see,

we

did not

ordinary diseases smote

were always calm over such things

and nurses who knew

for the doctors

what

just

screaming.

scream to this day.

to

do.

But

It struck so suddenly,

and never missed a

this

and

stroke.

was

different.

killed so swiftly,

When

the scarlet

rash appeared on a person's face, that person

was marked by death.

known
"

There was never a

case of a recovery.

was alone

in

my

big

house.

As

have told you often before, in those days we


could talk with one another over wires or

The telephone bell rang,


brother
my
talking to me. He
that he was not coming home for

through the
and I found
told

me

air.

catching the plague from me, and


that he had taken our two sisters to stop
at Professor Bacon's home. He advised me
fear of

to remain where I was,

whether or not
"

To

all

and wait to

had caught the

of this I

find out

plague.

agreed, staying in

my

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

60

house and for the

time in

first

And

tempting to cook.

come out on me.

my

life at-

the plague did not

By means

of the tele-

phone I could talk with whomsoever I pleased


and get the news. Also, there were the newspapers, and I ordered all of

them to be thrown

door so that I could know what

to

up
my
was happening with, the rest of the world.
"
New York City and Chicago were in
chaos. And what happened with them was
happening in
chief

all

New York

of the

was

also

the large

cities.

dead,

likewise

All law and order had ceased.

were

lying

in

police were dead.

the

streets

the

third
Their,

mayor.

The bodies

unburied.

All

and vessels carrying food and such


into
the great city had ceased running,
things
and mobs of the hungry poor were pillaging
railroads

the stores and warehouses.

Murder and rob-

bery and drunkenness were everywhere. Already the people had fled from the city by
millions

at first the rich, in their private

motor-cars and dirigibles, and then the great

mass

of

the population, on foot, carrying

the plague with them, themselves starving

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


and

and
:s

pillaging the farmers


villages

on the top

the towns

all

on the way.

The man who sent

less operator,

and

61

this news, the wire-

was alone with

his instrument

of a lofty building.

remaining in the

city

The people

he estimated them

had gone mad


from fear and drink, and on all sides of him
great fires were raging. He was a hero, that
at several hundred thousand

man who

stayed by his post

newspaper man, most likely.


"
For twenty-four hours, he
atlantic airships

had

arrived,

an obscure

said,

no trans-

and no more

messages were coming from England. He


did state, though, that a message from Berlin
- that's in
announced that Hoff-

Germany

meyer, a bacteriologist of the MetchnikofF


School, had discovered the serum for the
plague.

that

we

That was the


of

last

word, to this day,

America ever received from Europe.

If Hoft'meyer discovered the

serum,

it

was

too late, or otherwise, long ere this, explorers

from Europe would have come looking for us.


We can only conclude that what happened
in

America happened in Europe, and that, at

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

62

the best, some several

score

may have

sur-

vived the Scarlet Death on that whole continent.

"For one $ay


tinued

to

longer the despatches con-

come from New York.

they, too, ceased.

Then

The man who had

sent

perched
lofty building, had
either died of the plague or been consumed
in the great conflagrations he had described
in

them,

his

as raging around him.

And what had

oc-

New York had

curred in

in all the other cities.

been duplicated
It was the same in

San Francisco, and Oakland, and Berkeley.

By Thursday the people were dying

so rapidly
could
not
be
handled,
corpses
and dead bodies lay everywhere. Thursday

that their

night the panic outrush for the country began.


Imagine, my grandsons, people, thicker than

the salmon-run you have seen on the Sacramento river, pouring out of the cities bymillions,

madly over the country, in vain

attempt to escape the ubiquitous death.

You

Even
see, they carried the germp with them.
the airships of the rich, fleeing for mountain
and desert

fastnesses, carried the germs.

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


"

Hundreds

63

these airships escaped to

of

Hawaii, and not only did they bring the


plague with them, but they found the plague
already there before them. This we learned

by the despatches, until all order in San


Francisco vanished, and there were no operators left at their posts to receive or send.

was amazing,- astounding,


communication with the world.

It

actly as

sixty years that world has

existed for me.

Africa
of

New

was

of

ex-

know

there

no longer

must be such

Europe, Asia, and


but not one word has been heard

as

places

It

loss

the world had ceased, been blotted

if

For

out.

this

them

York,

not in sixty years. With the comDeath the world fell apart,

ing of the Scarlet


absolutely,

years

of

irretrievably.

culture

and

the twinkling of an eye,


"

was

Ten

thousand

civilization passed
'

lapsed like

in

foam/

about the airships of the


rich.
They carried the plague with them,
and no matter where they fled, they died.
I

telling

never encountered but one survivor of

any of them Mungerson. He was afterwards a Santa Rosan, and he married my

THE SCAKLET PLAGUE

64
eldest

He came

daughter.

into

the

tribe

He was

eight years after the plague.

then

nineteen years old, and he was compelled


to wait twelve years more before he could

marry.

You

see,

there were no unmarried

women, and some of the older daughters


of the Santa Rosans were already bespoken.
So he was forced to wait
to

sixteen

until

grown
years.
Gimp-Leg, who was killed
mountain lion.

It

my Mary

had

was

son,

last

his

year by the

"

Mungerson was eleven years old at the


time of the plague. His father was one of
the Industrial Magnates, a very wealthy,
powerful man. It was on his airship, the
Condor, that they were fleeing, with all the
family, for the wilds of British Columbia,

which

is far

to the north of here.

But there

Vas some accident, and they were wrecked


near Mount Shasta. You have "heard of
that mountain.

It

is far

to the north.

The

plague broke out amongst them, and this

boy

of eleven

was the only

survivor.

For

eight years he was alone, wandering over

a deserted land and looking vainly for his

THE SCAELET PLAGUE


own

kind.

And

65

at last, travelling south he

picked up with us, the Santa Rosans,


"
But I am ahead of my story.
the

great

exodus from the

When
around

cities

San Francisco Bay began, and while the


telephones were

my

still

I told

brother.

working, I talked with

him

this flight

from the

was

insanity, that there were no symptoms of the plague in me, and that the thing
cities

for us to

do was to

some

relatives in

isolate ourselves

and our

We

decided

safe

place.

on the Chemistry Building, at the univer-

and we planned to lay in a supply of


provisions, and by force of arms to prevent
sity,

any other persons from forcing their presence


upon us after we had retired to our refuge.
'"

All

begged

this

me

being

arranged,

to stay in

least twenty-four hours more,


of

my

brother

my own house

on the chance

the plague developing in me.

To

agreed, and he promised to come


next day. 'We talked on over the

of the provisioning

for at

and the defending

for

this

me

details
of the

Chemistry Building until the telephone died.


It died in the midst of our conversation.
3

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

66

That evening there were no electric lights,


and I was alone in my house in the dark-

No

ness.

more

taking

place

rioting

and

windows

outside.
of

were

newspapers

had no knowledge

printed, so I

heard

shots,

pistol

of

being

what was
sounds

and from

of

my

I could see the glare in the sky of

some conflagration in the direction of Oakland.


It was a night of terror. I did not
sleep a wink.

not

know

A man why

was

killed

front of the house.

ports of

and how

do

on the sidewalk in
heard the rapid

re-

an automatic pistol, and a few minutes

wounded wretch crawled up to my


moaning and crying out for help.
Arming myself with two automatics, I went
later the

door,

to him.

By

the light of a match I ascer-

tained that while he was dying of the bullet

wounds, at the same time the plague was


on him. I fled indoors, whence I heard him

moan and

cry out for half an hour longer.

"

In the morning, my brother came to me.


I had gathered into a handbag what things
of value I purposed taking, but when I saw
his face I

knew that he would never

accorn-

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

67

pany me to the Chemistry Building. The


plague was on him. He intended shaking
hand, but

my

went back hurriedly before

him.
1

'

Look

at yourself in the mirror/ I com-

manded.

"He

did so, and at sight of his scarlet

face, the colour deepening as he looked at


it,

he sank
"
'

down

My God

'
!

come near me.


"

nervelessly in a chair.

he
I

'

said.

am

Then the convulsions

was two hours


scious

to

the

in dying,
last,

I've got it.

Don't

a dead man.'
seized

him.

He

and he was con-

complaining about the

coldness and loss of sensation in his feet,


his calves, his thighs, until at last it

heart,

was

his

and he was dead.

That was the way the Scarlet Death


I caught up my handbag and fled.

slew.

The sights in the streets were terrible.


One stumbled on bodies everywhere. Some
were not yet dead. And even as you looked,
you saw men sink down with the death
fastened
fires

upon them.

There were numerous

burning in Berkeley, while Oakland and

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

68

San Francisco were apparently being swept


by vast conflagrations. The smoke of the
burning

filled

the heavens, so that the mid-

day was as a gloomy


shifts

of

twilight, and, in the

sometimes the sun shone

wind,

through dimly, a dull red orb.


grandsons,

end
"

it

was

like the last

Truly,

days

my

of the

of the world.

There were numerous stalled motor-cars,

showing that the gasolene and the engine


supplies of the garages

remember one such

car.

had given

out.

A man and a woman

lay back dead in the seats, and on the pave-

ment near

it

women and a

were two more

Strange and terrible sights there were


on every hand. People slipped by silently,
white-faced women
furtively, like ghosts
child.

carrying infants in their arms

ing children
couples,

the

city

and
of

by the hand
death.

there were
"

many who

all

Some

of food, others blankets

fleeing

carried

and

in

out of
supplies

and valuables, and

carried nothing.

There was a grocery store

food was sold.

fathers load-

singly,

in families

a place where

The man to whom

it

belonged

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


I

knew him

well

sober,

quiet,

69

but

stupid and obstinate fellow, was defending


it.

The

broken
counter,

number

windows

in,

was
of

and

had

doors

been

inside, hiding behind a


discharging his pistol at a

but he,

men on

the sidewalk

who were

breaking in. In the entrance were, several


bodies of men, I decided, whom he had
killed earlier in the day.

Even

as I looked

on from a distance, I saw one of the robbers


break the windows of the adjoining store,
a place where shoes were sold, and deliberately set fire to it. I did not go to the grocery-

man's assistance.

The time

had already passed.


and it was each

ling,

for

Civilization
for himself.

such acts

was crumb-

IV
"

WENT away

and at 'the

first

hastily,

down a

cross-street,

corner I saw another tragedy.

Two men of the working class had caught


man and a woman with' two children, and
were robbing them. I knew the man by
a

sight,

though I had never been introduced


He was a poet whose verses I had

to him.

long admired.
for at the

there

Yet

moment

was a

pistol

the brutes.

not go to his help,

came upon the scene


shot, and I saw him sink-

ing to the ground.

and she was

I did
I

The woman screamed,

with a fist-blow by one of


I cried out threateningly, wherefelled

upon they discharged their pistols at me,


and I ran away around the corner. Here
I

was blocked by an advancing conflagraThe buildings on both sides were

tion.

burning, and the street was

and

flame.

filled

From somewhere
70

with smoke

in that

murk

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


came a woman's voice calling
But I did not go to her.

71

shrilly for help.

man's heart

turned to iron amid such scenes, and one

heard
"

all

too

appeals for ielp.


the corner, I found the

many

Returning to

The poet and his


It was a

two, robbers were gone.

wife lay dead on the pavement.

shocking sight. The two children had vanwhither I could not tell. And I knew,

ished

now,
I

why

it

was that the

encountered

and with such white


of

fleeing persons

so

along

slipped

faces.

furtively

In the midst

down in our slums and


we had bred a race of bar-

our civilization,

labour ghettoes,

barians, of savages

and now, in the time

of our calamity, they turned upon us like


the wild beasts they were and destroyed us.
And they destroyed themselves as well.

They inflamed themselves with strong drink


and committed a thousand atrocities, quarrel.

ling

and

madness.

killing

one another in the general

One group

of

saw, of the better sort,


gether, and, with their

in their midst, the sick

working

men

who had banded towomen and children


and aged in

litters

THE SCAKLET PLAGUE

72

and being
horses

and with a number

carried,

pulling

truck-load

of

of

provisions,

they were fighting their way out of the city.


They made a fine spectacle as they came
down the street -through the drifting smoke,

me when I first apAs they went by, one

though they nearly shot


peared in their path.

of their leaders shouted out to

He

getic explanation.

me

in apolo-

said they were killing

the robbers and looters on sight, and that


they had thus banded together as the only

means by which to escape the prowlers.


"
It was here that I saw for the first time

what

was soon to

see so often.

One

of

the marching men had suddenly shown the


unmistakable mark of the plague. Imme-

him drew away, and he,


without a remonstrance, stepped out of his

diately those about

place to let

them pass

probably his wife,

on.

woman, most

attempted to follow him.

She was leading a little boy by the hand.


But the husband commanded her sternly
to go on, while others laid hands

on her and

restrained her from following him.

saw, and

saw the

man

also,

This I

with his scarlet

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

73

blaze of face, step into a doorway on the

opposite

side

of

the

report of his pistol,


less to

"

street.

heard the

and saw him sink

life-

the ground.

After

turned

aside twice again


succeeded
in getting
by advancing
to
the
the
On
through
university.
edge of

being

fires,

the campus I came upon a party of university folk

the

who were

Chemistry

going in the- direction of

Building.

They were

all

family men, and their families were with


them, including the nurses and the servants.
Professor
difficulty

Badminton greeted me, and I had


in recognizing him. Somewhere

he had gone through flames, and his beard


was singed off. About his head was a bloody
bandage, and his clothes were filthy. He
told, me he had been cruelly beaten by prowlers,

and that

his brother

had been

killed

the previous night, in the defence of their


dwelling.

"

Midway

across the campus, he pointed

suddenly to Mrs. Swinton's face.


mistakable scarlet was there.
all

the other
3*

women

set

The un-

Immediately

up a screaming, and

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

74

began to run away from her. Her two children were with a nurse, and these also ran
with the women.

But her husband, Doctor

Swinton, remained with her.


'

'

Go

on,

'

Smith/ he told me.

Keep an

eye on the children. As for me, I shall stay


with my wife. I know she is as already
dead, but I can't leave her.
I

escape,

shall

come

to

Afterwards,

Building, and do you watch for

me
"

if

the Chemistry

me and

let

in.'

left

him bending over

his wife

and

soothing her last moments, while I ran to


overtake the party. We were the last to be

admitted to the Chemistry Building. After


that, with our automatic rifles we maintained our isolation.

arranged for a
refuge.

By

company

our plans, we had


be in this

of sixty to

Instead, every one of the

number

originally planned had added relatives and


friends and whole families until there were

over four hundred

souls.

But the Chemistry

Building was large, and, standing by itself,


was in no danger of being burned by the
great fires that raged everywhere in the city.

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

"A

large quantity of provisions

75

had been

gathered, and a food committee took charge


of

it,

issuing rations daily to the various

families

and groups that arranged them-

selves into messes.

number

of

committees

were appointed, and we developed a very


efficient organization.
I was on the committee of defence, though for the first day
no prowlers came near. We could see them

and by the smoke

in the distance, however,


of their fires

knew that

several

them were occupying the


campus. Drunkenness was

we heard them
sanely shouting.
to ruin about

camps
of

far edge
rife,

and often

singing ribald songs or in-

While the world crashed

them and

with the smoke of

all

its

the air was

filled

burning, these low

creatures gave a rein to their bestiality

fought
all,

and

what did

drank
it

of

the

and

died.

matter?

And

and
after

Everybody died

anyway, the good and the bad, the efficients


and the weaklings, those that loved to live

and those that scorned to


Everything passed.
"

When

live.

They

passed.

twenty-four hours had gone by

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

76

and no

we

signs of the plague were apparent,

ourselves

congratulated

You have

digging a well.

and

set

about

seen the great

iron pipes which in those days carried water

to

all

the city-dwellers.

fires in

feared that the

the city would burst the pipes and

empty the
cement

We

reservoirs.

floor

the

of

So we
central

tore

court

up the
of

the

Chemistry Building and dug a well. There


were many young men, undergraduates, with
us,

and we worked night and day on the

And

well.

our fears were confirmed.

hours before

we

reached water,

Three

the pipes

went dry.
"

We

second twenty-four hours passed, and


the plague did not appear among us.
thought we were saved. But we did

not

know what

still

I afterwards decided to

be

namely, that the period of the incubation of the plague germs in a human's

true,

body was a matter


slew
itself,

a number of days. It
so swiftly when once it manifested
that we were led to believe that the
of

period of incubation was equally swift.

So,

when two days had left us unscathed, we were

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

77

we were

free of

elated with the idea that

the contagion.
"
But the third day disillusioned us.
can never forget the night preceding it.

I
I

had charge of the night guards from eight


and from the roof of the building

to twelve,
I

watched the passing of all man's glorious


So terrible were the local confla-

works.

grations that all the

One could read the


glare.

the

from a score

fire

world

of vast conflagrations that

were

like so

land,

San Leandro, Haywards


and to the northward,

ing

red

seemed wrapped in
San Francisco spouted smoke and

All

flames.

sky was lighted up.

finest print in the

many

active volcanoes.
all

Oak-

were burn-

clear to Point

Richmond, other fires were at work. It


was an awe-inspiring spectacle. Civilization,

my grandsons, civilization was passing in


a sheet of flame and a breath of death. At
ten

o'clock

that

night,

the

great

powder

magazines at Point Pinole exploded in rapid


succession.
So terrific were the concussions
that the strong building rocked as in an
earthquake, while every pane of glass was

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

78

broken. 'It was then that I

left

the roof

and went down the long corridors, from


room to room, quieting the alarmed women

them what had happened.


at a window on the ground
I
heard
floor,
pandemonium break out in
the camps of the prowlers. There were
cries and screams, and shots from many
and
"

telling

An hour later,

As we afterwards

pistols.

fight

conjectured, this

had been precipitated by an attempt

on the part

of those that

out those that were

number

were well to drive

sick.

At

ajny rate,

of the plague-stricken prowlers es-

caped across the campus and drifted against


We warned them back, but
our doors.
they cursed us and discharged a fusillade
from their pistols. Professor Merry weather,

was instantly

at one of the windows,

killed,

the bullet striking him squarely between the


eyes.

We

opened

fire

in turn,

and

all

the

away with the exception of


prowlers
three.
One was a woman. The plague was
fled

on them and they were

reckless.

fiends, there in the red glare

Like foul

from the

skies,

with faces blazing, they continued to curse

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


us and

with

One

at us.

fire

my own

hand.

79

men

of the

shot

After that the other

man and the woman, still cursing us, lay


down under our windows, where we were
compelled

to

watch

them

die

of

the

plague.

"

The

situation

was

critical.

The explo-

powder magazines had broken


the windows of the Chemistry Building,

sions of the
all

so that

the

we were exposed

The sanitary committee was

corpses.

called

upon

to act, and

Two men were


the corpses,

to the germs from

it

responded nobly.

required to go out

and

this

and remove

meant the probable

sacrifice of their own lives, for, having performed the task, they were not to be per-

mitted to re-enter the building. One of the


and one
professors, who was a bachelor,

undergraduates volunteered.
bade good-bye to us and went forth.

of

the

were heroes.

They gave up

four hundred others might

They
They

their lives that

live.

After they

had performed their work, they stood for a


moment, at a distance, looking at us wistThen they waved their hands in farefully.
'

80

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

well and

went away slowly across the campus

toward the burning


"

city.

And

yet it was all useless. The next


morning the first one of us was smitten
with the plague a little nurse-girl in the
family of Professor Stout.

It

was no time

for weak-kneed, sentimental policies.

On

the

chance that she might be the only one, we


thrust her forth from the building and com-

manded her

to be

gone.

She went away

slowly across the campus, wringing her hands

and crying pitifully. We


but what were we to do ?
hundred

of

us,

felt

like

brutes,

There were four

and individuals had to be

sacrificed.

"In

one of the laboratories three families

had domiciled themselves, and that afternoon we found among them no less than
four corpses and seven cases of the plague
in all its different stages.

"

Then

it

was that the horror began.

Leaving the dead where they had fallen, we


forced the living ones to segregate them-

The plague began


the rest of us, and as

selves in another room.

to break out

among

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

81

symptoms appeared, we

sent the

fast as the

ones

stricken

to

these

segregated

rooms.

We

compelled them to walk there by themselves, so as to avoid laying hands on them.

was heartrending. But


raged among us, and room

It

the plague

still

after

room was

with the dead and dying. And so


we who were yet clean retreated to the next

filled

floor -and to the next, before this sea of the

dead, that,

room by room and

floor

by

floor,

inundated the building.


if
The place became a charnel house, and
in the

middle of the night the survivors


nothing with them except

fled forth, taking

arms and ammunition and a heavy store of


We camped on the opposite
side of the campus from the prowlers, and,

tinned foods.

while some stood guard, others of us volunteered to scout into the city in quest of
horses,

motor-cars,

carts,

and wagons, or

anything that would carry our provisions


and enable us to emulate the banded working

men

had seen

fighting their

way out

to the open country.

"

was one

of these scouts

and Doctor

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

82

Hoyle, remembering that his motor-car had


been left behind in his home garage, told me
to look for

Dombey,

We

it.

scouted in pairs, and

young undergraduate, accomWe had to cross half a mile

panied me.

of the residence portion of the city to get

Here the

to Doctor Hoyle's home.

build-

ings stood apart, in the midst of trees and

grassy lawns, and here the

fires

had played

freaks, burning whole blocks, skipping blocks,


and often skipping a single house in a block.

And

here, too, the prowlers

work.

We

our

carried

were

still

at their

automatic

pistols

openly in our hands, and looked desperate


enough, forsooth, to keep them from at-

But

tacking us.

the

thing

at Doctor Hoyle's house

even as we came to
burst forth.
"
The miscreant
staggered

Untouched

happened.

down

the driveway.

it

who had

the

by

fire,

the smoke of flames

set fire

to

it

steps and out along

Sticking out of his coat pockets

were bottles of whiskey, and he was very


drunk.

and

My

first

impulse was to shoot him,

have never ceased regretting that

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

Staggering and maundering to himwith bloodshot eyes, and a raw and

did not.
self,

.83

down one

bleeding slash

side of his bewhisk-

ered face, he was altogether the most nau-

specimen of degradation and filth


I did not shoot

seating
I

had ever encountered.

him, and he leaned against a tree on the lawn


to let us go by. Just as we were opposite
him, he suddenly drew a pistol and shot
the head.

Dombey through
wanton

absolute,

shot him.

expired

doubt

if

But

act.
it

It

The next

was too

without a

was the most

groan,

instant I

late.

Dombey

immediately.

he ever knew what had happened

to him.

"

Leaving the two corpses,

hurried on

past the burning house to the garage, and


there found Doctor Hoyle's motor-car. The

tanks were

filled

ready for use.


I

with gasolene, and

And

it

was

it

was

in this car that

threaded the streets of the ruined city

and came back to the survivors on the campus.


The other scouts returned, but none had been
so fortunate.

a Shetland

Professor Fairmead had found

pony, but the

poor creature,

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

84

tied in a

stable

and abandoned for days,


of food and water

was so weak from want


that
of
I

could carry no burden at

it

men were
insisted that we
the

us, so that,

have
''

it

if

all.

Some
but

for turning it loose,

should lead

we got out

it

along with

of food,

we would

to eat.

There were forty- seven of us when we

started,

many

The President

being

women and

of the Faculty,

to begin with, and now


by the awful happenings

'children.

an old man

hopelessly broken
of the past week,

rode in the motor-car with several young


children and the aged mother of Professor

Fairmead.
English,

Wathope, a young professor

who had

in his leg, drove the car.

walked,
pony.
"

It

Professor

of

a grievous bullet-wound

The

rest of us

FairnieacT leading

the

was what should have been a bright

slimmer day, but the smoke from the burning world filled the sky, through which the

sun shone murkily, a dull and


accustomed to

lifeless

orb,

But we had grown


that blood-red sun. With

blood-red and ominous.

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


the

smoke

it

was

It

different.

85
bit

into

our nostrils and eyes, and there was not


one of us whose eyes were not bloodshot.

We

directed

our course to the south-east

through the endless miles of suburban residences, travelling along where the first
swells of low hills rose

central

that

city.

from the

was by

It

we could expect

this

flat of

way,

the

only,

to gain the country.

"Our progress was painfully slow. The


women and children could not walk fast.
They did not dream

my grandpeople walk to-day. In


It
truth, none of us knew how to walk.
sons, in the

way

of walking,

all

was not

until after the plague that I learned

really to walk.

So

it

was that the pace

of

the slowest was the pace of all, for we dared


not separate on account of the prowlers.
There were not so many now of these human
beasts

of

prey.

The plague had already

well diminished their numbers, but enough


still

lived to be a constant

Many

of

menace to

us.

the beautiful residences were un-

touched by
everywhere.

smoking ruins were


The prowlers, too, seemed to

fire,

yet

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

86

have got over their insensate desire to burn,


and it was more rarely that we saw houses
on

freshly

"

fire.

Several of us scouted

among the

garages in search of motor-cars

But

in this

we were

great flights

such

and

unsuccessful.

from the

private

gasolene.

The

first

had swept

cities

all

Calgan, a fine young


lost in -this work.
He was shot

utilities

man, was

away.

by prowlers while crossing a lawn. Yet this


was our only casualty, though, once, a drunken
brute deliberately opened

fire

on

Luckily, he fired wildly, and

we

before he

"

At

had done any

Fruitvale,

still

him

in the heart of the

magnificent
the plague again smote us.
victim.

shot

hurt.

the city,
Professor Pair-

residence section

mead was the

all of us.

Making

of

signs to us

that his mother was not to know, he turned


aside into the grounds of a beautiful

He

man-

down

forlornly on the steps


of the front veranda, and I, having lingered,
waved him a last farewell. That night,
sion.

several

sat

miles

in the city,

beyond Pruitvale

we made camp.

And

and

still

that night

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


we

shifted

dead.
of

us.

camp

away from our

twice to get

In the morning there were thirty


I

shall

of the Faculty.

his

87

wife,

never forget the President


During the morning's march

who was

walking,

betrayed the

symptoms, and when she drew aside


let as go on, he insisted on leaving the

fatal

to

motor-car and remaining with her. There


was quite a discussion about this, but in the

end we gave in. It was just


knew not which ones of us,

as well, for
if

we

any, might

ultimately escape.
"
That night, the second of our march,

we camped beyond Haywards


stretches of country.

And

in the first

in the

morning

there were eleven of us that lived.

Also,

the

the

night, Wathope,
professor
during
with the wounded leg, deserted us in the

motor-car.

He

took with him his

his

mother and most

It

was that day,

resting

by

airship

much
first

sister

and

of our tinned provisions.

in

the afternoon,

while

the wayside, that I saw the last


shall ever see.
The smoke was

thinner here in the country, and I

sighted the ship drifting and veering help-

THE SCARLET; PLAGUE

88
lessly at

an elevation

of

two thousand

feet.

What had happened I could not conjecture,


but even as we looked we saw her bovv dip
down lower and

lower.

Then the bulkheads

gas-chambers must have burst,


for, quite perpendicular, she fell feke a plummet to the earth. And from that day to
of the various

this I

have not seen another

airship.

Often

and often, during the next few years, I scanned


the sky for them, hoping against hope that

somewhere in the
survived.

But

it

world

civilization

was not to

be.

had

What

happened with us in California must have


happened with everybody everywhere.
"
Another day, and at Niles there were

Beyond Niles, in the middle


we found Wathope. The
motor-car had broken down, and there, on

three of us.

the highway,

of

the rugs which they had spread on the ground,


lay the bodies of his sister, his mother, and
himself.

"

Wearied by the unusual exercise

of con-

tinual walking, that night I slept heavily.


In the morning I was alone in the world.

Canfield and Parsons,

my

last

companions,

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

89

were dead of the plague. Of the four hundred


that sought shelter in the Chemistry Building, and of the forty-seven that began the

march, I alone remained


land pony.
is

Why

no explaining.

that

the

is

all.

one lucky

this
I

and the Shet-

should be so there

did not catch the plague,

was immune.

man

in

was merely

a million

just

as

every survivor was one in a million, or, rather,


the proportion was

in several millions, for


at least that.

"

FOR two days

sheltered in a pleasant

grove where there had been no deaths. In


those two days, while badly depressed and
believing that my turn would come at any

moment, nevertheless I rested and recuperated.


So did the pony. And on the third day, put-

what small

ting
I

store of tinned provisions

possessed on the pony's back,

on across a very lonely

woman,

land.

Not a

started

live

man,

or child did I encounter, though the

dead were everywhere. Food, however, was


abundant. The land then was not as it is
now.

and
of

it

It

was

was

all

cleared of trees

The food

cultivated.

mouths was growing,

to waste.

gathered

From

and brush

for millions

ripening,

and going

the fields and orchards I


fruits,

vegetables,

and

berries.

Around the deserted farmhouses I got eggs


and caught chickens. And frequently I found
90

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

91

supplies of tinned provisions in the store-

rooms.
"

strange tiling was

what was taking

place with all the domestic animals. Everywhere they were going wild and preying on

The chickens and ducks were

one another.
the

to

first

were the
cats.

be destroyed, while the pigs

first

to go wild, followed

Nor were the dogs long

by the

in adapting

themselves to the changed conditions. There


was a veritable plague of dogs. \ They de-

voured the corpses, barked and howled during


the nights, and in the daytime slunk about
^

in the distance.

by, I

change in their behaviour. At


they were apart from one another, very

noticed
first

As the time went

suspicious

and very prone to

fight.

after a not very long while they

But

began to

come together and run in packs. The dog,


you see, always was a social animal, and
this

was true before ever he came to be do-

mesticated

by man.

In the

last

days of

the world before the plague, there were many,

many very

different

kinds

without hair and dogs with

of

dogs

warm

fur,

dogs

dogs

THE SCAELET PLAGUE

92

that

small

so

a mouthful for

mountain

as

they would
"<5ther

make

scarcely

dogs that were as large

lions.

Well,

the

all

dogs, and the weak types, were

small

killed

by

very large ones


were not adapted for the wild life and bred
out.
As a result, the many different kinds

their

fellows.

the

Also,

dogs disappeared, and there remained,


running in packs, the medium-sized wolfish
of

dogs that you know to-day/'


"
But the cats don't run in packs, Granser,"

Hoo-Hoo
"

objected.

The cat was never a

social animal.

As

one writer in the nineteenth century said,


the cat walks by himself. He always walked

by himself, from before the time he was


tamed by man, down through the long ages
of domestication, to to-day

he is wild.
"

The hqrses

fine

small

also

went

when once more

wild,

and

all

the

we had degenerated into the


mustang horse you know to-day. The

breeds

cows likewise went wild, as did the pigeons


and the sheep. And that a few of the
chickens survived you

know

yourself.

But

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

93

the wild chicken of' to-day is quite a different thing from the chickens we had in those
days.

"

But

my

must go on with

story.

time went by

more

for

human

As the

travelled through a deserted land.

began to yearn more and


But I never found
beings.

and

I grew lonelier and lonelier.


I
Livermore Valley and the mountains between it and the great valley of the

one,

crossed

San Joaquin.
valley, but

You have

it is

never

and

it is

seen

that

the

home

very large
There are great droves
I
there, thousands and tens of thousands.
of the wild horse.

revisited it thirty years after,

You

so I

know.

think there are lots of wild horses

down

here in the coast valleys, but they are as

nothing compared with


,

those

of

the

San

Strange to say, the cows, when


went
wild, went back into the lower
they
mountains. Evidently they were better able

Joaquin.

to protect themselves there.

"

In the country districts the ghouls and


prowlers had been less in evidence, for I
found many villages and towns untouched

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

94

by

fire.

But they were 'filled by the pestiand I passed by without exthem. It was near Lathrop that,

lential dead,

ploring

loneliness, I picked up a pair of


that
were so newly free that they
dogs
were urgently willing to return to their

out of

my

collie

panied

me

for

them are

of

man.

to

allegiance

collies

accom-

and the

strains

These

many

years,

in those very dogs there that

you boys have to-day. But in


collie strain has worked out.
are

more

like domesticated

sixty years the

These brutes

wolves than any-

thing else."

Hare-Lip rose to his feet, glanced to see


that the goats were safe, and looked at the
smn's position in the afternoon sky, advertis-

ing impatience at the prolixity of the old

man's

tale.

Urged

to

hurry

by Edwin,

Granser went on.


"

There

is

little

more to

tell.

two dogs and my pony, and


I had managed to capture,

San Joaquin and went on

With

my

riding a horse
I

crossed the

to a wonderful

valley in the Sierras called Yosemite.

In

the great hotel there I found a prodigious

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


supply of tinned provisions.

95

The pasture

was abundant, as was the game, and the


river that ran through the valley was full
of trout.

an utter

remained there three years in


none but a man who

loneliness that

has once been highly civilized can understand.


Then I could stand it no more.
I felt that I
I
I

was a

was going crazy. Like the dog,


animal and I needed my kind.

social

reasoned that since I had survived the

was a

plague, there

had survived.

possibility that others

Also, I

reasoned that after

three years the plague germs

must

all

be

gone and the land be clean again.


"
With my horse and dogs and pony, I
set out.
Again I crossed the San Joaquin
the

Valley,

down

mountains beyond, and came

into Livermore

Valley.

The change

Was amazing. All the


land had been splendidly tilled, and now I
could scarcely recognize it, such was the
in those three years

sea

the

rank vegetation that had overrun


agricultural handiwork of man. You

of

see, tfie

trees

wheat, the vegetables, and orchard


for and nursed

had always been cared

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

96

by man, so that they were soft and


The weeds and wild bushes and such

tender.
things,

on the contrary, had always been fought by


man, so that they were tough and resistant.
As a result,' when the hand of man was removed, the wild vegetation smothered and
destroyed

practically

all

the

domesticated

The coyotes were greatly inand it was at this time that I first

vegetation.
creased,

encountered wolves,

straying in twos

and

and small packs down from the regions where they had always persisted.
"
It was at Lake Temescal, not far from
threes

the one-time city of Oakland, that I came

upon the

human beings. Oh, my


how can I describe to you my

first live

grandsons,

emotion, when, astride


ping

down

smoke
trees.

my

horse and drop-

of

the hillside to the lake, I saw the

camp-fire

Almost did

I felt that I

the cry of

my

rising

through

the

heart stop beating.

was going crazy. Then I heard


a babe a human babe. And

dogs barked, and my dogs answered. I did


not know but what I was the one finnan
alive in the

whole world.

It could not be

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


true that here were others

97

smoke, and the

cry of a babe.

"

Emerging on the lake, there, before my


eyes, not a hundred yards away, I saw a
man, a large man. He was standing on an
rock

outjutting

come.

and

stopped my
out but could not. I waved

seemed to

me

man

that the

was over-

fishing.

horse.

I tried to call

my

hand.

It

looked at me,

but he did not appear to wave. Then I


my head on my arms there in the saddle.

laid
I

was

afraid to look again, for I

knew

was

it

an hallucination, and I knew that if I looked


the man would be gone. And so precious
was the hallucination, that I wanted it to
persist yet a little while.

as long as I did not look


"

Thus

snarling,

remained until

and a man's

think the voice said


said
"

'
:

it

Where in

hell

I knew, too, that


would persist.
I

voice.
I

heard

my

dogs

What do you

will tell you.

did you come from

It
'

Those were the words, the exact words.

That was what your other grandfather said


to me, Hare-Lip, when he greeted me there
on the shore of Lake Temescal fifty- seven
4

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

98
years

they were

the most

in-

words I have ever heard.

effable

my

And

ago.

I opened
and there he stood before me, a

eyes,

large, dark, hairy

man, heavy- jawed,

browed, fierce-eyed.
I

do not know.

knew

But

How

I got off

my

slant-

horse

seemed that the next

it

was clasping his hand with both


mine and crying. I would have embraced

of

but

he was ever a narrow-minded,

suspicious

man, and he drew away from me.


cling to his hand and cry."

him,

Yet did

Granser's voice faltered and broke at the

and the weak tears streamed

recollection,

down
and
"

his cheeks while the

boys looked on

giggled.

Yet did

desire to

cry/'

he continued,

"

and

embrace him, though the Chauffeur

was a brute, a perfect brute the most


abhorrent man I have ever known. His

name was

strange,

how

have forgotten

him Chauffeur
Everybody
was the name of his occupation, and it
stuck.
That is how, to this day, the tribe

his

name.

called

it

he founded

"He

is

called the Chauffeur Tribe.

was a

violent,

unjust man.

Why

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


the plague germs spared

him

99

can never

It would seem, in spite of our

understand.

old metaphysical notions about absolute justice,

no justice in the universe.


did he live ? an iniquitous, moral

that there

Why

is

monster, a blot on the face of nature, a cruel,


relentless, bestial

cheat as well.

All he could

was motor-cars, machinery, gasoand garages and especially, and with

talk about
lene,

huge

delight, of his

mean

pilferings

swindlings of the persons

him

and sordid

who had employed

in the days before the

coming

of the

plague.

And

hundreds

of millions, yea, billions of better

men were
"
I

yet

her, Vesta, the

glorious

and

while

Van Warden,
and

his

camp, and there


It was

one woman.

pitiful.

Van Warden,

scarred

spared,

destroyed.

went on with him to

saw

Vesta

was

he

There she was,

the young wife of John

clad in rags, with marred and

toil- calloused

hands, bending over

the camp-fire and doing scullion work she,


Vesta, who had been born to the purple of

the greatest baronage of wealth the world


has ever known.
John Van Warden, her

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

100

husband, worth one

eight hundred

billion,

Board

millions

and President

dustrial

Magnates, had been the ruler of

of Control, he

men who

seven

Her

had been one

ruled the world.

had come

herself

of

equally

father, Philip Saxon,

of the

of In-

Also, sitting on the International

America.

Board

of the

Board

noble

she

stock.

had been President

of Industrial

the time of his death.

of the

And

Magnates up to

This

office

was

in

process
becoming hereditary, and had
had a son, that son would have
Saxon
Philip
of

succeeded

him.

But

his

only

child

was

Vesta, the perfect flower of generations of

the highest culture this planet has ever produced. It was not until the engagement

between Vesta and Van Warden took place,


that Saxon indicated the latter as his successor.
It was, I

am

sure, a political

marriage.

have reason to believe that Vesta never


loved her husband in the

mad

really

passionate

which the poets used to sing. It


way
was more like the marriages that obtained
of

among crowned heads in the days before


they were displaced by the Magnates.

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


"

And

there

shfc

101

was, boiling fish-chowder

in a soot-covered pot, her glorious eyes in-

flamed by the acrid smoke of the open fire.


Hers was a sad story. She was the one
survivor in a million, as I had been, as the

Chauffeur had been.

nence

the

of

On

Alameda

a crowning emiHills,

overlooking

San Francisco Bay, Van Warden had built


a vast summer palace. It was surrounded
by a park

of

Armed guards

When

a thousand acres.

plague broke out,

Van Warden

the

sent her there.

patrolled the boundaries of

the park, and nothing entered in the way


of provisions or even mail matter that was

not

first

fumigated.

And

yet did the plague

enter, killing the guards at their posts, the

servants at their tasks, sweeping

away the

whole army of retainers or, at least, all


of them who did not flee to die elsewhere.

So

it

was that Vesta found

herself the sole

living person in the palace that

had become

a charnel house.

"

Now

the Chauffeur had been one of the

away. Returning, two


months afterward, he discovered Vesta in
servants

that

ran

102

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

summer

little

%here there had

pavilion

been no deaths and where she had estab-

He was

lished herself.
afraid,
trees.

mountains

she,

feet

briars.

He
her.

nor the

struck her.

scratch

Do you

of

understand

beat her with those terrible

made her

his

It

slave.

and do
her

He

fists of his

and

was she who had

to gather the firewood, build the

who

and de-

and that night he caught

stones

followed,

He

whose tender

body had never known the bruise

licate

of

She was

a brute.

and she ran away and hid among the


That night, on foot, she fled into the

fires,

cook,

the degrading camp-labour she,


tad never performed a menial act in
all

These things he compelled her to

life.

do, while he, a proper savage, elected to lie

around camp and look


absolutely

Good

mented
"

in

He

fish."

Chauffeur," Hare-Lip coman undertone to the other boys.

for

remember him before he

a corker.
things

go.

did nothing,

nothing, except on occasion to

hunt meat or catch


"

on.

But he did

died.

things,

You know, Dad

He was

and he made
married

his

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

103

daughter, an* you ought to see the way he


knocked the spots outa Dad. The Chauffeur

was a

He made us kids stand


Even when he was croakin', he

son-of-a-gun.

around.

reached out for me, once, an' laid

open with that long


beside him."

stick

my

head

he kept always

Hare-Lip rubbed his bullet head reminiscently, and the boys returned to the old
man, who was maundering ecstatically about
Vesta, the squaw of the founder of the Chauffeur

"

Tribe.

And

so I say to you that you cannot


understand the awfulness of the situation.

The chauffeur was a


a

servant.

And he

head, to such as she.

servant,
cringed,

understand,

with

She was a lord

both by birth and by marriage.

bowed
of life,

The

des-

tinies of millions, such as he, she carried in

the hollow of her pink-white hand. And,


in the days before the plague, the slightest

contact with such as he would have been


pollution.

Oh,

one

of

have

seen

it.

Once,

was Mrs. Goldwin, wife of


the great magnates. It was on a

remember, there

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

104

was embarking in

landing-stage, just as she

her private dirigible, that she dropped her


A servant picked it up and made
parasol.
the mistake of handing

it

to her

to her,

one of the greatest royal ladies of the land


She shrank back, as though he were a leper,
!

and indicated herv secretary to receive


.

it.

Also, she ordered her secretary to ascertain

name and

the creature's

to see that he

immediately discharged from


such a woman was Vesta

And

was

And

service.

Van Warden.
made his

her the Chauffeur beat and

slave.

"
.

that was

Bill

it

That was his name.

feur.

Bill,

the Chauf-

He was

a wret-

ched, primitive man, wholly devoid of the


finer

instincts

and

chivalrous

promptings
No, there is no absolute
to him fell that wonder of woman-

of a cultured soul.
justice, for

hood,

Van Warden.

Vesta

ness of this

you

grandsons

for

tive

little

you

are yourselves

Why
I

grievous-

never understand,

savages,

but savagery.
been mine ?

The

will

unaware

my

primi-

of

aught else
should Vesta not have

was a man

of culture and.

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

105

refinement, a professor in a great university.

Even

so, in

the time before the plague, such


position, she would not

was her exalted

have deigned to know that

I existed.

Mark,

then, the abysmal degradation to which she


fell

at the hands of the Chauffeur.

ing less

than the destruction of

had made

it

all

possible that I should

Noth-

mankind

know

her,

look in her eyes, converse with her, touch


her hand ay, and love her and know that

her feelings towards me were very kindly.


have reason to believe that she, even she,

would have loved me, there being no other

man in the world


when

except the Chauffeur.

Why

destroyed eight billions of souls, did


not the plague destroy just one more man,
it

and that man the Chauffeur

'?

"

Once, when the Chauffeur was away


With
fishing, she begged me to kill him.
tears in her eyes she begged

me

to kill him.

But he was a strong and violent man, and


I was afraid.
Afterwards, I talked with
him. I offered him my horse, my pony,

my

dogs, all that I possessed,

give Vesta to me.

4*

And he

if

he would

grinned in

my

THE SCABLET PLAGUE

106
face

and shook

insulting.

He

his

head.

He was

very
he

said that in the old days

had been a servant, had been dirt under


the feet of men like me and of women like
Vesta,

and that now he had the greatest

lady in the land to be servant to him and


cook his food and nurse his brats.
You
'

had your day before the plague,' he said


but -this is my day, and a damned good
day it is. I wouldn't trade back to the old
;

'

times for anything/ Such words he spoke,


but they are not his words. He was a vulgar,

low-minded man, and


tinually from his lips.

vile

oaths

fell

con-

me that if he caught me
making eyes at his woman he'd wring my
neck and give her a beating as well. What
was I to do t I was afraid. He was a
"'Also,

brute.

he told

That

first night,

when

I discovered

the camp, Vesta and I had great talk about


We
the things of our vanished world.
talked of art, and books, and poetry

and the

Chauffeur listened and grinned and sneered.'


bored and angered by our way of

He was

speech which he did not comprehend, and

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

107

'

And this
he spoke up and said
of Van
Van
one-time
wife
Vesta
Warden,
:

finally
is

Warden the Magnate a high and stuckup beauty, who is now my -squaw. Eh,
Professor
is

Smith,

changed.

times

Here,

changed, times
woman, take off

is

you,

moccasins, and lively about

my

Professor Smith to see

how

saw her clench her

teeth,

revolt rise in her face.

his gnarled fist to strike,

and

sick at heart.

prevail against him.

want

well I have

trained/
"
of

it.

and the flame

He

and

you

drew back

was

afraid,

could do nothing to

So

and not be witness to such

got up to go,
indignity.

But

the Chauffeur laughed and threatened me


with a beating if I did not stay and behold.

And

by the camp-fire
Lake Temescal, and saw
Vesta, Vesta Van Warden, kneel and remove
I

sat there, perforce,

on the shore

of

the moccasins of that grinning, hairy, apelike

human

brute.

"...

Oh, you do not understand, my


known anygrandsons. You have never
thing else, and you do not understand.
.

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

108
f

feur

Halter-broke and bridle- wise/ the Chaufgloated,

while

she
'

menial task.

dreadful,

performed

times, Professor, a trifle balky

lamb/

gentle as a

And

balky at
but a clout

makes her as meek and

alongside the jaw

"

that

trifle

another time he said

to start all over

'
:

We've got

and replenish the earth and

You're

handicapped, Professor.
no wife, and we're up against
a regular Garden-of-Eden proposition. But

multiply.

You

ain't got

I ain't proud.

He

I'll tell

pointed at their

you what, Professor/

little

infant,

barely a

There's your wife; though you'll


year
to
have
wait till she grows up. It's rich,
old.

it ?
We're all equals here, and I'm
the biggest toad in the splash. But I ain't
stuck up not I. I do you the honour,

ain't

Professor Smith, the. very great honour of

betrothing to you
daughter.

Warden

Ain't

my and Vesta Van Warden's


it

cussed

ain't here to see

'

bad that Van

VI
"

LIVED three weeks

of

infinite

there in the Chauffeur's camp.

one day, tiring

torment

And

then,

me, or of what to him was

of

on Vesta, he told me that the


year before, wandering through the Contra

my

bad

effect

Costa Hills to the Straits of Carquinez, across


the Straits he had seen a smoke. This

meant that there were


beings, and that

still

human

other

weeks he had kept


this inestimably precious information from
me. I departed at once, with my dogs and
for three

and journeyed across the Contra


Costa Hills to the Straits. I saw no smoke
horses,

on the other

side,

but at Port Costa discovered

a small steel barge on which I

embark

my

found served
breeze fanned
to the

ruins

was able to

Old canvas which

animals.

me
me

for a sail,

of

Vallejo.

and a southerly
and up

across the Straits

Here,

on

the

outskirts of

the city, I found evidences of

occupied

recently

camp.

109

Many

clarn-

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

110

me why

humans had
This was

shells

showed

come

to the shores of the Bay.

these

the Santa Rosa Tribe, and I followed


track

along

the

old

railroad

across the salt marshes to

its

right-of-way

Sonoma

Valley.

Here, at the old brickyard at Glen Ellen,


came upon the camp.
I
There were
eighteen souls

one of

all told.

whom was

Two were

Jones,

old men,

a banker.

The

other was Harrison, a retired pawnbroker,


for wife the matron of the

who had taken

State Hospital for the Insane at Napa.

Of

all

the persons of the city of Napa, and of

all

the other towns and villages in that rich

and populous

valley, she

had been the only

Next, there were the three young


Cardiff and Hale, who had been farmers,

survivor.

men

and Wainwright, a common day-labourer.


had found wives. To Hale, a crude,

All three

illiterate farmer,

est prize,

had

fallen Isadore, the great-

next to Vesta, of the

came through the plague.


the world's most noted

women who

She was one


singers,

of

and the

plague had caught her at San Francisco.


She has talked with me for hours at a time

THE SCAKLET PLAGUE


me

telling

111

of her adventures, until, at last,

by Hale in the Mendocino Forest


Reserve, there had remained nothing for her
rescued

to do but

become

his wife.

But Hale was a

He had
good
a keen sense of justice and right-dealing,
and she was far happier with him than was
fellow, in spite of his illiteracy.

Vesta with the Chauffeur.


"
The wives of Cardiff and Wainwright
were ordinary women, accustomed to toil,

with strong constitutions just the type for


the wild new life which they were compelled to live. In addition were two adult

from the feeble-minded home at Eld-

idiots

and

redge,

five or six

young children and

infants born after the formation of the Santa

Rosa

Tribe.

Also, there

was Bertha.

was a good woman, Hare-Lip, in

She

spite of the

sneers of your father. Her I took for wife.


She was the mother of your^ father, Edwin,

and

of

yours,

Hoo-Hoo.

And

it

was our

daughter, Vera, who married your father,


Hare-Lip your father, Sandow, who was
the oldest son of Vesta Van Warden and
the Chauffeur.

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

112
"

And

teenth

so it

was that

member

became the

the Santa Rosa

of

nineTribe.

There were only two outsiders added after


me. One was Mungerson, descended from
the Magnates,

who wandered

alone in the

wilds of Northern California for eight years


before he

came south and joined

us.

He

was who waited twelve years more before


he married my daughter, Mary. The other

it

was Johnson, the man who founded the


Tribe.
That was where he came from,

Utah

Utah, a country that

lies

very far away from

here, across the great deserts, to the east.

was not until twenty-seven years after


the plague that Johnson reached California.

It

In

all

that

Utah

region he

reported but

three survivors, himself one, and all men.

For many years these three men lived and


hunted together, until, at last, desperate,
fearing that with them the human race would
perish utterly from the planet, they headed

westward on the

possibility of finding

survivors in California.

women

Johnson alone came

through the great desert, where his two companions died.

He was

forty-six

years old

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


when

lie

joined us,

113

and he married the fourth

daughter of Isadore

and Hale, and

his eldest

son married your aunt, Hare-Lip, who was


the third daughter of Vesta and the Chauf-

Johnson Was a strong man, with a


own. And it was because of this

feur.

will of his

he

that

seceded

from

the

Santa

Rosans

and formed the Utah Tribe at San Jose.


It
it

a small tribe

is
;

but, though he

influence
it will

there are only nine in


is

dead, such was his

and the strength

grow

of his breed, that

into a strong

and play

tribe

a leading part in the recivilization of the


planet.
"

There are only two other tribes that

know

melitos.

we

the Los Angelitos and the Car-

of

The

and woman.

latter

started from one

He was

called

Lopez,

man
and

he was descended from the ancient Mexicans

and was very black.

He was

cowherd

beyond Carmel, and his wife


was a maidservant in the great Del Monte

in the ranges

was seven years before we first


got in touch with the Los Angelitos. They
have a good country down there, but it is

Hotel.

It

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

114

too warm.

estimate the present popula-

tion of the world at between three hundred

and

fifty

and four hundred

that

course,

there

are

no scattered

tribes elsewhere in the world.

such,

of

provided,

little

be

If there

we have not heard from them.

Since

Johnson crossed the desert from Utah, no


word nor sign has come from the East or
anywhere

knew
gone.

in

The great world which

boyhood and early manhood

is

else.

my

It has ceased to be.

man who was

and who knows the wonders


time.
earth,

am

the last

alive in the days of the plague


of that far-off

We, who mastered the planet its


and sea, and sky and who were as

very gods, now live in primitive savagery


along the water courses of this California
country.
"

But we are increasing rapidly

Hare-Lip,
are
for

already

has four

your sister,

children.

We

and making ready


a new climb toward civilization. In
increasing

rapidly

time, pressure of population will compel us


to spread out,

and a hundred generations

from now we may expect our descendants

THE SCARLET PLAGUE


to

across

start

along,

the Sierras,

generation by

115
slowly

oozing

over the

generation,

'

great continent to the colonization of the

a new Aryan drift around the world.


But it will be slow, very slow we have

East
"

We

so far to climb.

so hopelessly far.

fell

only one physicist or one chemist had


survived
But it was not to be, and we

If

The Chauffeur

have forgotten everything.

He made

started working in iron.

which we use to
lazy man, and

the forge

But he was a

this day.

when he died he took with

What

he knew of metals and machinery.


was I to know of such things ? I

was a

classical scholar,

him

all

other

men who

The

not a chemist.

survived were not educated.

Only two things did the Chauffeur accomplish


the brewing of strong drink and the growing
of

tobacco.

It

was while he was drunk,

once, that he killed Vesta.

I firmly believe

that he killed Vesta in a

drunken

fit

of

cruelty,

though he always maintained that she


into the lake and was drowned.
"

And my

grandsons,

.against the medicine-men.

let

fell

me warn you

They

call

them-

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

116

selves doctors, travestying wliat

noble

profession,

men, and they


and darkness. They
But so debased and

devil-devil

medicine-men,

make

for superstition

are cheats

was once a

but in reality they are

and

liars.

we

degraded are we, that

believe their

lies.

They, too, will increase in numbers as


increase,

and they

Yet are they

liars

will

to

rule

and charlatans.
posing as a

at young Cross-Eyes,

charms against

selling

strive

we
us.

Look
doctor,

sickness, giving

good

hunting, exchanging promises of fair weather


for good meat and skins, sending the deathstick,

Yet

performing a thousand abominations.


say to you, that when he says he can

do these things, he

lies.

I,

Professor Smith,

James Howard Smith, say that he


have told him so to his teeth. Why

Professor
lies.

has he not sent

me the death-stick ? Because


me it is without avail.

he knows that with

But you, Hare-Lip,

so deeply are

you sunk

superstition that did you awake


this night and find the death-stick beside

in black

you, you would surely die. \ And you would


die, not because of an^y virtues in the stick,

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

117

but because you are a savage with the dark


and clouded mind of a savage.
"
all

The doctors must be destroyed, and


that was lost must be discovered over
Wherefore, earnestly, I repeat unto

again.

you
and

certain things which

must

tell

hot by

you must remember

to your children after you.

tell

them that when water

fire,

there resides in

thing called steam, which

ten thousand

work

it

You
made

a wonderful

stronger than

men and which can do

all

man's

There are other very useful

for him.

things.

is

is

In "the

lightning

flash

resides

man, which was


and which some day will be

similarly strong servant of


of old his slave

his slave again.

"

Quite a different thing is the alphabet.


what enables me to know the meaning

It is

fine markings, whereas you boys know


only rude picture-writing. In that dry cave

of

on Telegraph

Hill,

where you see

me

often

go when the tribe is down by the sea, I have


stored many books. In them is great wisdom.
Also, with them, I have placed a key to the

alphabet, so

that one

who knows

picture-

THE SCAELET PLAGUE

118
writing

men

may

also

will read again

has befallen
Professor

my

know
;

print.

and then,

if

cave, they will

Some day
no accident
know

that

James Howard Smith once

and saved

for

them the knowledge

lived

of the

ancients.

"

There

is

another

little

inevitably will rediscover.


It

powder.

men

device that
It

is

called gun-

was what enabled us to

kill

Certain things
surely and at long distances.
which are found in the ground, when com-

make

bined in the right proportions, will


I

things are,
gunpowder. What
have forgotten, or else I never knew. But

wish

these

this

did know.

Then would

make

powder, and then would I certainly kill


Cross-Eyes and rid the land of superstition
"

"
After I

am man-grown

am

going to

Cross-Eyes all the goats, and meat,


and skins I can get, so that he'll teach me
"And
to be a doctor/' Hoo-Hoo asserted.
'

give

when

know,

up and take

I'll

make, everybody else

notice.

They'll get

the dirt to me, you bet."

down

sit

in

THE SCAELET PLAGUE


The old man nodded
and murmured

his

119

head solemnly,

"

Strange it is to hear the vestiges and remnants of tlje complicated Aryan speech
falling from the lips of a filthy little skinAll the world

clad savage.

And

is

topsy-turvy.

has been topsy-turvy ever since the

it

plague/'
"

You won't make me sit up/' Hare-Lip


"
boasted to the would-be medicine-man.
If
for a sending of the death- stick

I paid

you

and

didn't work, I'd bust in your head

it

"
understand, you Hoo-Hoo, you ?
"I'm going to get Granser to remember

gunpowder stuff," Edwin said softly,


and then I'll have you all on the run.

this here

"

You, Hare-Lip, will do my fighting for me


and get my meat for me, and you, HooHoo, will send the death-stick for me and

make everybody

afraid.

And

if

catch

Hare-Lip trying to bust your head, Hoo-Hoo r


I'll fix him with that same
gunpowder.
Granser ain't such a fool as you think, and

I'm going to
be 'boss

him and some day


over the whole bunch of you."
listen to

I'll

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

120

The old man shook


said

his

head sadly, and

"

The gunpowder will come. Nothing can


stop it the same old story over and over.

Man

and men

will increase,

will fight.

The

gunpowder will enable men to kill millions


of men, and in this way only, by fire and
blood, will a new civilization, in some remote
day, be evolved. And of what profit will
be ? Just as the old civilization passed,

it

so will the new.

It

years to build, but


pass.

may

take

fifty

it will pass.

thousand

All things

Only remain cosmic force and matter,

ever in flux, ever acting and reacting and realizing the eternal types the priest, the soldier,

and the

king.

Out

comes the wisdom


will fight,

and

all

some

of the

mouths

of

the ages.

Some

some

pray

all

will rule,

the rest will

toil

and

on their bleeding carcasses

of

will

babes

suffer sore while


is

reared again,

and yet again, without end, the amazing


beauty and surpassing wonder of the civilized state.

It were just as well that I des-

troyed those cave-stored books

remain or perish,

all

their

whether they

old truths will

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

121

be discovered, their old lies lived and handed


down. What is the profit

Hare-Lip leaped to his

feet,

giving a quick

glance at the pasturing goats and the afternoon sun.


"
"
"
he muttered to Edwin.
Gee
Thq.
!

old geezer gets

more long-winded every day.

Let's pull for camp/'

While the other two, aided by the dogs,


assembled the goats and started them for
the

trail

through the

by the old
direction.

forest,

Edwin stayed

man and guided him in the same


When they reached the old right-

Edwin stopped suddenly and looked


back. Hare-Lip and Hoo-Hoo and the dogs
and the goats passed on. Edwin was lookof-way,

ing at a small herd of wild horses which had

come down on the hard

sand.

There were

at least twenty of them, young coits and


yearlings

and mares,

led

by a

beautiful

which stood in the foam at the edge


the surf, with arched neck and bright

stallion
of

wild eyes, sniffing the salt air from


sea.

"

What

is it ?

"

Granser queried.

off

the

THE SCARLET PLAGUE

122

"Horses," was the answer.


"em on the beach.

I ever seen

"First time
It's

the moun-

tain lions getting thicker and thicker and


driving 'em down."

The low sun shot red

shafts of light, fan-

shaped, up from a cloud-tumbled horizon.


And close at hand, in the white waste of
shore-lashed waters, the sea-lions, bellowing
their old primeval chant, hauled

up out

of

the sea on the black rocks and fought and


loved.

"

Come

And

on, Granser,"

old

man and

barbaric, turned

Edwin prompted.
boy,

skin-clad

and went along the

and
right-

of-way into the forest in the wake of the


goats.

THE END

Printed by Hazell, Walton

&

Viney, Ld., London and Ayletbury.

BOOKS

by

BUCKROSE

E.

J.

BECAUSE OF JANE
Morning

6s.andls.6d.net

Post: "Quite rare in

in its simplicity

THE BROWNS

6s.andls.6d.net

Pall Mall Gazette

LOVE

IN

Quite unique

its sincerity.

and humour."

" A remarkable achievement."

LITTLE

"
Daily Mail;

TOWN

6s.
charming story."

Aberdeen Free Press: "

and Is. 6d. net

really delightful story."

A BACHELOR'S COMEDY
6s. and Is. 6d. net
Times: "Delightful."
Punch: "Altogether delightful."

SPRAY ON THE WINDOWS


6s. and Is. 6d. net
Westminster Gazette

"The

best novel

its

author has yet

given us."

GAY MORNING
Yorkshire Post:

6s.andls.6d.net

"Will provide

all

who

desire

it

with a

gay morning."
Scotsman : " Bright, kindly, and interesting."
Daily Mail : "Wholesome, humorous, and often wise."

DOWN OUR"
Observer

STREET
A joy

6s.andls.6d.net

for ever."

THE PILGRIMAGE OF A FOOL


Morning Leader

THE GOLDEN STRAW


Daily Graphic

MILLS

&

BOON,

6s.

" This unusual book."

"A story

Ltd.,

6s.

of unusual freshness."

49 Rupert

Street,

London, W.I

BOOKS BY

I.

Evening Standard :
.

WYLIE

KEYS

IN DIFFERENT
tion of stories.

A. R.

"We

6s.

heartily

The work

commend

this collec-

of an artist."

THE RED MIRAGE

6s. and Is. 6d. net


Standard: "It is a novel full of movement and it
the
to
fascinate."
power
possesses
Nottingham Guardian : "A wonderfully vivid and strikNo writer has greater power in piling
ing literary picture.
up waves of emotion."

THE DAUGHTER OF BRAHMA


6s. and Is. 3d. net

"A

Daily Mail:

remarkable novel."

THE TEMPLE OF DAWN

6s.andls.6d.net

Evening Standard: "Will add considerably

to her already

very high reputation."


Morning Post :
pathetic and moving story."

"A

TRISTRAM SAHIB
"A

Daily Mail:

fine

6s., 2s. net


dramatic story

and Is. 6d. net


it

never loses

its

grip^on the reader."

HAPPY ENDINGS

6s. and Is. 6d. net


Erening Standard: "Miss Wylie has a most fertile

imagination."

ARMCHAIR STORIES
"
Daily Telegraph:

Each

is

6s. and Is. 6d. net


finely

THE SHINING HEIGHTS


Times

"A

imagined."

6s. and Is. 6d. net

really fine novel."

6s. net
THE DUCHESS IN PURSUIT
6s. and Is. 6d. net
DIVIDING WATERS
Daily Graphic

MILLS

& BOON,

"A

Ltd.,

powerful sympathetic story."

49 Rupert

Street,

London, W.I

lira -SM
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY
This book

is

Los Angeles
the last date stamped below.

DUE on

QRI

,211983

j,

AOF-CAl!FO/?4>

iv>!S

$ %

Q
I

^\\EUNIVER%

l^i
i