AFTER THE VICTORY

The match was won, and Nattie had come out victorious. There was an
instant of silence after the clever throw–silence like that which
precedes a storm–then the grounds rang with a tumult of applause.

With shouts and yells, with clapping of hands and piercing whistles the
vast audience proclaimed their appreciation. Men nearer the ring climbed
over the low railing and lifting the blushing lad to their shoulders,
formed the nucleus of a triumphal procession.

Around the arena they marched until at last Nattie struggled free by
main force. Retreating to the dressing-tent, he disappeared within its
shelter, followed by Grant and Mori. The latter were so filled with joy
that they could not find qualifying words in either language, so they
shouted alternately in Japanese and English.

In the meantime the defeated wrestler had been brought to a realization
of his discomfiture by his father and several surgeons. The fall had
stunned him, but no bones were broken. Leaning on his parent, he retired
to a _jinrikisha_ and left the field without changing his costume.

In the dressing-tent Nattie and his companions were holding gay
carnival over the victory. The little apartment was crowded with
Americans, both civilian and naval, and it soon became evident that the
triumph was being regarded as an international affair. It was a victory
of the American element over the English.

The difference between Nattie and Ralph had given way to something of
greater importance. Through some unexplained reason a strong
undercurrent of jealousy exists between members of the two countries in
foreign climes, and evidences crop to the surface at intervals.

It generally manifests itself in just such occasions as the present, and
from the moment Nattie and Ralph were matched together in the arena, the
American and English took sides with their respective countrymen.

The overwhelming importance of the first match detracted all interest
from those following, and the celebration was soon brought to a close.
Nattie and his companions finally escaped from the field. At Grant’s
invitation a number of the Americans accompanied him to a well-known tea
house in the city where dinner was served in honor of the occasion.

Of course the victor was the lion of the feast, but he bore his honors
modestly. On being called upon for a speech he displayed greater
trepidation than when he confronted his antagonist in the arena. At
last yielding to the vociferous invitation, he arose from his chair and
said, bluntly:

“I am no hand to talk, my friends. In our firm my Brother Grant is my
mouthpiece. But I can say that I appreciate this honor, and that I am
almighty glad I defeated Ralph Black. I guess you know the reason why. I
thank you for your kindness.”

Then he abruptly resumed his seat, amid the cheers of the party who
voted him a good fellow with the enthusiasm of such occasions. The
impromptu banquet came to an end in due time, and the coming of the
morrow found the boys again at work in the counting-room of Manning
Brothers & Okuma.

It was with a chuckle of great satisfaction that Grant counted up the
results of his wagers made in the grand stand. He checked off each item
with glee, and finally announced to his companions that he was three
hundred pounds ahead.

“I don’t care a broken penny for the money,” he said. “In fact, I intend
to turn it over to the hospital fund, but it’s the fact of beating those
Englishmen that tickles me. Nattie, if you had permitted Ralph Black to
throw you in that last bout I would have disowned you and retired to a
Shinton monastery.”

“My, what a fate I saved you from!” grinned his brother. “Fancy you a
monk with that hoppity-skip foot of yours. But how is Ralph? Have either
of you heard?”

“Some one told me this morning that he was feeling very sore–in
spirits,” laughed Mori. “They say he took the early train for Kobe,
where he intends to stay until his humiliation has a chance to
disappear.”

“I’ll wager a _yen_ yesterday’s work has not increased his liking for
us,” carelessly remarked the lame youth. “What did you get out of his
father and those Germans, Mori? I saw you hovering about them with a bag
of coin. Did the old man do any betting?”

“Five hundred dollars. I gave him odds of seven to one. I also have the
German merchants, Swartz and Bauer, listed for a cool thousand. Whew!
won’t they groan in bitterness of spirit when I send over for the
money?”

“I only regret one thing in the whole affair,” said Nattie. “And that is
my confounded carelessness in permitting Ralph to throw me in the second
bout. It was a case of ‘swell-head,’ I suppose. The first throw was so
easy I thought all the rest would be like it. However, all’s well that
ends well. The match is won, and the English will sing low for a time.”

During the balance of the week the members of the new firm labored
early and late arranging their shipments of tea and silks. Each steamer
carried a consignment of goods to America, and in return came cargoes of
merchandise, flour, printed goods, machinery and wool.

The events of the past few days had advertised the firm to such an
extent that the volume of business became burdensome. In due course of
time the flood of money turned and began to flow back into the coffers.
Bills outstanding at short periods matured, and the bank account assumed
healthy proportions.




Mori was compelled to withdraw his last loan of thirty thousand dollars,
given at a most critical point in the firm’s brief existence despite his
protest. At the end of the third week two extra warehouses were leased,
and the clerical force in the office doubled.

All this was very comforting to Grant and his associates, but there
still remained a more valuable prize. The rumors of war between China
and Japan, which had bubbled to the surface of the political caldron
many times during the past year, now began to attract public attention.

The government disclaimed any idea of impending war, but it quietly
proceeded with its preparations at the same time. It was known among the
merchants that a large order for arms and ammunition would be given out
on the first day of August, and the competition became very keen.

Through his personal friendship with the secretary of war, and the
integrity of the new firm, Grant was acknowledged as possessing the best
chance. There was one company, however, that had not given up hope of
securing the prize, and that was the firm of Black & Son.

The reader will doubtless remember the meeting held in the English
merchant’s office between father and son and the ex-bookkeeper, Willis
Round. At that consultation the latter had disclosed a plan for the
defeat of Grant Manning.

The affair of the “go-down,” when Round was foiled in his attempt to
start a conflagration, delayed the schemes of the conspirators, but the
near approach of the time for awarding the valuable contract, again
found them at work.

Mr. Black was the only one of the three present in Yokohama. Willis
Round was an exile for obvious reasons, and Ralph chose to absent
himself after the wrestling match on the seventh of July. By arrangement
the twain met in an interior village north of the capital, where they
schemed and plotted for the downfall of their enemies.

At the expiration of two weeks Patrick Cronin was released from jail
and advised by the authorities to leave the country. Thus everything
promised peace for our heroes, and the prosperity of honest labor fell
to their lot day by day.

All three were too shrewd to allow such a pleasant state of affairs to
lull their watchfulness. They knew that in war silence is ominous, and
that many a maneuver is projected under the veil of a temporary truce.
As it came to pass, however, something occurred that deceived even
Nattie’s suspicious eye.