GRANT BEARDS THE LION

It is now time to return to Grant Manning. It is well for the reader to
know how the lame youth became the innocent cause of all the trouble.
The night of the departure of Nattie and Mori on their trip to Nagasaki
found him through with his work at the usual hour.

He parted from Mr. Burr at the door, and taking a _’rikisha_, started
for home. While passing through Main Street near the tea house where
Nattie had played the memorable game of hide-and-seek with Willis Round,
he caught sight of his friend, the secretary to the war minister.

Grant was always ready to do business. Years spent in the counting-room
with his father had taught him the value of personal influence in
securing contracts. The expected order for arms and ammunition was too
valuable a prize for any chance to be neglected.

His acquaintance with the secretary was of long standing. It had
commenced at a private school in Tokio, which both Grant and the
Japanese had attended in earlier days. The boyish friendship had
survived the passing of time–that greatest strain upon youthful
ties–and when the native gained his present position in the war office,
he remembered the Mannings.

The greeting was cordial, and an adjournment was made to a private room
in the _chaya_ or tea house. There the friends talked at length over
matters in general, and Grant was given many valuable hints concerning
the army contract.

It was past eight o’clock when the conference ended. With mutual
_sayonaras_, or parting salutations, they separated at the door, and
Grant entered his waiting _jinrikisha_. Before the man could start the
vehicle a Japanese boy ran up, and with much bobbing of his quaint
little head, begged the favor of a word with the excellency.

“What is it, my lad?” asked the lame youth, kindly.

Between sobs and ready tears the boy explained that he was the son of
one Go-Daigo, a former porter in the warehouse under the _régime_ of the
elder Manning. He was now ill of a fever, penniless, and in dire
misfortune. Would the excellency condescend to visit him at his house in
a street hard by the Shinto temple?

“I am very sorry to hear of Go’s misfortune,” replied Grant, with
characteristic sympathy, “but wouldn’t it answer the purpose if you take
this money,” producing several _yen_, “and purchase food for him?
To-morrow you can call at the office and I’ll see what I can do for
him.”

The excellency’s kindness was of the quality called “first-chop,” but
the bedridden Go-Daigo was also suffering from remorse. He feared that
he would die, and he did not care to leave the world with a sin-burdened
soul. He knew a secret of value to the new firm. Would the excellency
call at once?

“A secret concerning the new firm?” echoed Grant, his thoughts instantly
reverting to the Englishman and his son. “It may be something of
importance. Lead the way, child; I will follow.”

Ten minutes’ travel through crooked streets brought the _’rikisha_ to a
typical native house a hundred yards from a large, red-tiled temple. The
youthful guide led the way to the door and opened it; then he vanished
through an alley between the buildings.

Grant passed on in, finding himself in an apartment unfurnished save by
a matting and several cheap rugs. A dim light burning in one corner
showed that the room was unoccupied. An opening screened by a gaudy bead
curtain pierced the farther partition.

Clapping his hands to give notice of his arrival, the lame youth awaited
the appearance of some one connected with the house. Hearing a slight
noise behind him, he turned in that direction. A couple of stalwart
natives advanced toward him from the outer door.

Before Grant could ask a question, one of them sprang upon him, and with
a vicious blow of a club, felled him to the floor. The assault was so
rapid and withal so entirely unexpected that the unfortunate victim had
no time to cry out, or offer resistance.

As he lay upon the matting, apparently lifeless, a youth stepped into
the room through the bead curtain. He bent over the prostrate form, and
after a brief examination, said, in Japanese:

“You know how to strike, Raiko. You have put him to sleep as easily as a
cradle does a drowsy child. He won’t recover his senses for an hour at
least. Bring the cart and take him down to the landing. First, change
his clothes; you may be stopped by a policeman.”

The coolie addressed, a stalwart native, with an evil, scarred face,
produced a number of garments from a chest, while his companion stripped
Grant of his handsome business suit. A few moments later he was roughly
clad in coarse shoes, tarry trousers, and an English jumper. A
neckkerchief and a woolen cap completed the transformation.

As thus attired the lame youth resembled nothing more than an English or
American deep-water sailor. To add to the disguise, the coolie
addressed as Raiko, rubbed grime upon the delicate white hands and face.

Then a two-wheeled cart was brought to the door, and the pseudo mariner
dumped in and trundled down toward the docks. The youth, he who had
given the orders, and who was, as the reader has probably guessed, no
other than Ralph Black, left the house by another entrance, well pleased
at the success of his stratagem.

Raiko and his cart were stopped by an inquisitive gendarme, but the
coolie had been primed with a ready excuse.

“Plenty _sake_; foreign devil,” he said, sententiously. “He drunk; take
him down to ship for two _yen_.”

The officer of the peace had seen many such cases in his career, and he
sauntered away to reflect on the peculiar habits of the foreigners from
beyond the water. On reaching the English _hatoba_, or dock, Raiko found
Ralph awaiting him.

The merchant’s son was enveloped in a huge cloak, and he carefully
avoided the circles of light cast by the electric globes. At his command
Grant was unceremoniously dumped into a rowboat moored alongside the
pier, then he followed with the stalwart coolie.

Lying out in the bay was a coasting junk, with sails spread ready for
departure. Pulling alongside of this, poor Grant was lifted on board,
and ten minutes later the Japanese vessel was sailing down the Bay of
Tokio bound out.

As the ungainly craft passed Cape King, and slouched clumsily into the
tossing waters of the ocean, the lame youth groaned, raised his hands to
his aching head, and sat up. He glanced about him at the unfamiliar
scene, then struggled to his feet. The swaying deck caused him to reel
and then stagger to the low bulwark.

He thought he was dreaming. He looked at the white-capped waves
shimmering unsteadily under the moon’s rays; the quaint, ribbed sails
looming above; the narrow stretch of deck ending in the high bow and
stern, and at the half-clad sailors watching him from the shadows.

He glanced down at his tarred trousers and coarse shoes, then he gave a
cry of despair. It was not an ugly nightmare. It was stern reality. His
enemies had triumphed; he had been abducted.

The proof of valor is the sudden test of a man’s courage. The greatest
coward can face a peril if it is familiar to him. It is the unexpected
emergency–the blow from the dark; the onslaught from the rear–that
tries men’s souls.

The consternation caused by a shifting of scenes such as had occurred to
Grant can be imagined. From an ordinary room in an ordinary native
house in Yokohama to the deck of a junk at sea, with all its weirdness
of detail to a landsman, is a decided change.




The lame youth could be excused if he had sunk to the deck bewildered
and in the agonies of terror. But he did nothing of the sort. As soon as
he could command the use of his legs, he promptly marched over to a
sailor grinning in the shadows of the mainmast, and catching him by the
arm, sternly ordered him to bring the captain.

“Be sharp about it, you dog,” he added. “I will see the master of this
pirate or know the reason why.”

Awed by his tone, the fellow slunk off and speedily produced the captain
of the junk. But with him came Ralph Black, smoking a cigar, and with an
insolent smile upon his sallow face.

“Ah! Grant, dear boy,” he said, with a fine show of good fellowship; “I
see you have quite recovered from your little accident.”

“Accident, you scoundrel!” exclaimed the lame youth. “What do you mean?
I demand an explanation of this outrage. Why am I dragged out here like
a drunken sailor? You must be crazy to think that you can perpetrate
such an injury in this century without being punished.”

“I’ll take the chances,” replied Ralph, with a sneer. Then he added,
angrily: “Be careful how you call names, and remember once for all that
you are in my power, and if I say the word, these sailors will feed you
to the sharks. In fact, I really think it would be best, anyway.”

“I always thought you off color, but I never believed you would prove to
be such a cold-blooded villain as you undoubtedly are. You and your
worthy father couldn’t meet business rivals in the open field of
competition, but you needs must resort to violence and underhand
methods. I’ll have the pleasure of seeing both of you behind the bars
before—-”

With a snarl of rage, the merchant’s son sprang upon the daring speaker.
Grasping him by the throat, he called loudly to the junk’s captain:

“Over with him, Yoritomo! Help me throw him into the sea. Dead men tell
no tales!”