The next day passed without a sight of a single Japanese. Motu told us it was probably because the four were pretty badly scared by what happened the night before, and were waiting for The Man Who Will Come. He said the four were just sort of scrub Japs, full of superstitions and that sort of thing. But, says he, don't expect any ghost dodges to frighten the other fellow. Motu's idea was that the four would lay back and keep watch.
Motu stayed inside all day. Plunk and Binary fished. Mark pottered around on the island across his little lift-bridge, and I don't know just what he was up to, though I found out later, and so did the Japanese. As for me, I was just plum lazy. I took one of the books Mark brought along-it was by a fellow named Stevenson, and was all about a man named Alan Breck and another called Davie Balfour-and read. I didn't intend to read long, but I found out I'd got hold of the wrong kind of a book to quit. I couldn't quit, and put in the whole day at it.
At night we set watch again, but nothing happened. It wasn't till nearly noon next day when something did happen. I was sitting on the porch at the time with Mark Tidd. Down the road a couple of hundred yards we saw a man coming. He was a little man, and even at that distance we saw he walked sort of jaunty, swinging his shoulders and switching off leaves with a slender cane. He looked all dressed up.
When he got closer we saw he was all dressed up. Dressed up? Wow! I should say he was. He was a regular dude. Sticking in one eye was one of those funny spectacle things like Englishmen wear in funny pictures. There was just one glass to it, and it was hitched to a black ribbon. On his head was a straw hat, one of those kind that cost a lot of money and come from some place across the Pacific Ocean-a Bankok, they call them, I guess. His clothes were light gray and they fitted him like they had been made on purpose. On his feet he wore spats-at least that's what Mark Tidd said they were. I never saw any such idiotic things before. You've seen a dicky for a shirt, haven't you? A sort of false front? Well, spats arc dickies for shoes.
The man came on without showing a sign that he saw us. His face was screwed kind of sideways to hold that single glass in his eye, and he appeared to be pretty well pleased with himself. He was a Jap!
"Mark," says I, " it's him!"
"Yes," says he, "The One Who Will Come has g-g-got here."
We waited without making a move till he got right up to us. Then he took off his hat and made a bow like d'Artagnan in the Three Musketeers-a regular old ground-sweeper.
"To you good morning," says he, kind of mincing his words like a girl with half a college education that took lessons on the violin and elocution.
"Good morning," we says right back at him.
"You have some beautiful places to live at," says he, as polite as a hungry cat miawing around the dinner-table.
"There's f-f-folks might disagree with you," says Mark, "but we feel pretty well suited."
"To be of course," says he " A hotel, do you not? Yes. For in which is meals and beds to sleep?"
"Almost," says Mark, "but not quite. It's what's left of a hotel."
"It is your hotel? You in personally are its keeper?"
"I guess it needs a keeper, all right,'' says Mark, "but I ain't it."
"You take in individuals for boarding?"
"Not? Oh, I was presenting myself as boarder. I wished rooming and eating."
"You came to the wrong shop."
"For reasonable money paid on Mondays would you not give me roomings and boardings?"
"Not even for money p-p-paid on Sundays," says Mark.
"Do you make no exceptions to rule?"
"But certainly yes. You have taking in a boarder the day or two before."
"L-l-listen here, mister," says Mark, "we're not takin' boarders now nor yesterday. We are four boys on a fishin' trip. Mr. Ames lent us this hotel. We ain't l-lookin' for any company. There you have the facts."
"But you give board to Japanese boy. Eh? Not? To be sure. To bad leetle Japanese boy that runned off away. You meet him in woods and he say, 'Give me eatings and sleepings.' So you give to him. Also he stays yet continuously near by in room of seclusion out of view."
"Say that all over," says Mark. "I guess I d- don't quite get all of it the first bite."
"Japanese boy come. Telling story about naughty lying. Smaller Japanese boy than you are little. You see him? To be surely certain. He is running off away from fathers and mothers and uncles and relatives. See me. Looking at me closely. Have I not the look of an uncle? You see it. An uncle. Small Japanese boy has father who sends me to bringing him to return. That is all. Spankings shall be for Japanese boy, but not nothing more. Eh? He is now up over the stairs? Yes. Shall I climbing up-stairs for after him?"
"Mister," says Mark, "what are you t-talkin' about? You scramble your talk all up so nobody can understand what you're gettin' at."
"Is little Japanese boy here?"
Mark got up and looked all around, and then looked at The Man Who Will Come, sort of puzzled.
"Did you f-f-fetch a little boy with you?"
"Not," says the man. "Before I came he arrived."
Mark shrugged his shoulders. "I guess we better humor him," he says to me, but loud enough so the man could hear. "He's one of them lunies, I calc'late. Talks c-c-crazy, don't he? What's he mean, anyhow?"
"Honorable fat boy is mistakenly in error," says the Japanese. "There is no craziness. Altogether vice versa on the opposite. I am very much unusually bright in mind. I shall show you I have an education. I know to speak many languages."
"Speak all of 'em as well as you s-s-speak English?"
"Yes, yes. Some as good and all better."
"The feller that taught you," says I, "must have known a joke when he saw it. Did he laugh much?"
He didn't pay any attention to me, but says to Mark: "What room is Japanese boy? Up- stairs?"
"He's got Japanese boy on the b-brain, says Mark to me. Then he turned to the man and says: "Say, mister, was you foolin' around here the other night? S-somebody got into the hotel and fell d-down-stairs, and screeched around and raised an awful row. Was it you?"
"Ho! No, it was not myself." He laughed and showed two rows of the whitest teeth you ever saw. "It was ignorant fellow without schooling, who believe ghosts and spirits walks up and down. He was so frightened he has not yet stopped the shivering and shaking. You play trick on him? Eh?"
"Now look here," says Mark, "what do you want, anyhow? We b-boys are here for a good time, and we d-don't want anybody prowlin' around at all times of the night. If you want somethin' just say so. If we can g- give it to you we'll give it; if not, we'll tell you so."
"You give up Japanese boy?"
"I'll g-give you all the Japanese boys you can find. What d'you think we're doin'? Runnin' a congress of nations? I don't want any Japanese boys."
"You haven't seen Japanese boy?"
"I wish you'd get Japanese boy out of your head. I'm s-s-sick of hearin' about him. If you've got an idee we're hidin' your boy somewheres, go ahead and look. It 'll satisfy your m-mind, such as it is, and you won't be b-botherin' us any more."
"You make me permission with immediate quickness to stroll pleasantly through hotel in search?"
"Go ahead. Search till you wear out your s- s-shoes."
The man's eyes glittered at that, and he looked as eager as a hungry dog gazing at a bone through a store window.
"I can make exhausting search now?"
"The sooner the better," says Mark, and he leaned back and shut his eyes like he was sleepy.
The man went past us, stepping like a dancing-master and swinging his little cane. There was perfume on him, because I smelled it as he went past. He didn't look back as he went through the door. We didn't turn our heads to look after him for quite a few minutes, but then I went to the door and peeked in. He had gone up-stairs.
"He might find Motu," says I.
"Not m-much chance," says Mark, "and we may fool him into thinkin' Motu isn't here."
"Don't believe it," says I. "For all his funny talk and dude clothes, I'll bet he's a sharp little customer. If he's got it into his head Motu's here, he'll stick around till he's certain one way or the other."
"Maybe so," says Mark. "All we can do is try."
We sat there feeling pretty anxious, and it seemed like most of the morning and part of the afternoon had passed before we heard anything of The Man Who Will Come again. Then we didn't hear from him exactly. It was from Motu's dog we heard.
The dog was asleep in the old dining-room, a big place about fifty feet square. It was bare of furniture. All of a sudden we heard the dog give a growl that grew up into a roar. Then there was it sort of scurry and scramble, and we dashed in to see what was up.
In the middle of the room stood The Man Who Will Come, with the same happy grin on his face that he'd worn when he met us outside. In front of him the dog was crouching for another spring and growling as savage as a pack of wolves. Just as we got there the dog sprang. Well, sir, I thought it was all day with Mr. Jap, for the dog was as big as he was. But what followed was as pretty a sight as I ever hope to see. The man waited till the dog was in the air with his fangs almost at his throat. Then, quicker than the space between two things, and graceful as a weasel, he just took one step and bent his body to the side. The dog whirled right on by, but as he passed the man whacked him a good one right across the muzzle with his little cane.
"Ho, big dog!" he says. "You are not so polite brought up in first-rate society. I will teach you to learn. Ho!"
The dog roared and jumped again, and once more the man dodged just enough to let him pass, and slapped him over the nose with his little stick. He laughed while he did it, and acted as careless as if he was just playing a game instead of trying to save his life from a savage dog.
Twice more the dog threw himself through the air and twice more the Japanese moved just enough to let him slide by while he whacked him on the nose. Graceful! Well, I never saw anything like it. And cool! He was that cool you could almost feel a chilly breeze blowing off him.
That dog was mad. He didn't seem to understand just how it happened he wasn't chewing the man, and the more he thought about it the madder he got. But he saw that just going it blind and leaping for the man's throat wasn't going to do him any good. He crouched for a minute and then began to creep ahead, slow, slow. The Jap stood grinning down at him and talking all the time.
"Naughty big dog. What for do you bite to eat me? Must I box-fight you on the nose? Ho! You jump so slow. You must jump with more fastness if you catch me. Start jumping now. Come!"
But the dog didn't jump. He crawled nearer and nearer, but the man didn't move. Of a sudden, before I had any idea what he was going to do, the dog rushed, but this time he didn't jump. He came close to the floor and straight for the Jap's legs. I was looking right at that man, but he moved so fast I couldn't follow him. The next thing I knew the dog was rolling over and yowling, for the Jap had suddenly shifted somehow and kicked the dog right under the chin with a kick like a flash of lightning. He had a chance to run out and slam the door then, but he didn't move-just stood there and grinned at Mr. Dog.
Well, sir, that dog went crazy. He yelled and made another spring. This time the man bent backward and cut the dog just behind the ears with the edge of his hand. It was the same blow some folks use to kill rabbits. It stopped that jump right in the middle, and the dog slumped down to the floor limp and kind of dazed, for he laid there a few seconds, growling low in his throat and acting like he wasn't quite sure whether he was a dog or a sack of potatoes.
But he had courage, that dog. He didn't quit. He struggled up to his feet and started in again. This time Mr. Jap stood with his back to the bay-window, and when the dog jumped he went down on one knee, letting the dog go right over his head. But he didn't wait for him to go way over. He rose right up in the middle of that dog and heaved with his arms and his back, and the dog just turned a cart-wheel in the air and went smash! through glass and window- sash and everything. Out he went, bag and baggage. And he didn't try to come back. He was satisfied.
The Jap looked out of the window to see the dog pick himself up and limp away; then he turned to us with the grin still on his face and says:
"The dog he learn how to know better, I feel unreasonable certain."
"Yes," says Mark, "I calc'late he's added to h-his education some."
"I have gone through your hotel from the beginning of it to the opposite endings, but there is not anywhere therein a Japanese boy. I am surprised with astonishment. He came by toward this way in a similar direction. Maybe he makes a hiding in the woods. But I am much obliged with thankfulness to you, to be sure. Now good day and pleasant fishings to you. Yours very truly."
With that he turned and minced out of the hotel. He wasn't excited. He wasn't mussed. He was just as much of a dude, and just as spotless and spick and span, as when he came in, for all that he'd had a battle with a dog that would have made most men twice his size get out of breath and maybe worse.
I looked at Mark and Mark looked at me.
"He's quite considerable of a man, more or less," says I.
"P-plenty," says Mark.
"I expect we've got our job all cut out for us."
"That g-g-grinnin' little man gives me the shivers," says Mark. And that's just how I felt. I was afraid of him, and I don't care who knows it. Good and afraid.