The King of the Park
KING OF THE PARK
AUTHOR OF “BEAUTIFUL JOE,” “CHARLES AND HIS LAMB,”
“FOR THE OTHER BOY’S SAKE,” ETC.
New York: 46 East Fourteenth Street
THOMAS Y. CROWELL & COMPANY
Boston: 100 Purchase Street
By Thomas Y. Crowell & Company.
Typography by C. J. Peters & Son, Boston.
Presswork by Rockwell & Churchill.
I Inscribe This Book
POLICE-SERGEANT CHARLES WESLEY HEBARD
OF THE BACK BAY FENS, AND HIS HUMANE
HIS KIND-HEARTED WIFE, AND TO THE PARENTS
OF THE DEAR GIRLS AND BOYS WHO PLAY
ABOUT THE HOME OF THE WELL-KNOWN
KING OF THE PARK.
|I.||Long Live the Emperor||1|
|III.||A Child in Trouble||42|
|IV.||The Rest of the Cats||69|
|V.||Mrs. Hardy makes a Call||84|
|VI.||Eugene is arrested||97|
|VII.||The Sergeant talks of War and Other Things||111|
|VIII.||A King to the Rescue||128|
|IX.||Monsieur le Curé arrives||140|
|X.||A Proposal of Marriage||161|
THE KING OF THE PARK.
LONG LIVE THE EMPEROR.
Police Sergeant Hardy stood near theBoylston Street entrance to the Fens, his backtoward the hundred and fifteen acres of parkland which it was his duty to guard, his good-naturedface overspread by a smile, as hewatched a young lady taking a bicycle lessonin a secluded walk on his left.
The young lady approached the machineheld by her instructor as if it were a horse,then springing nimbly on it, her features becamerigid with anxiety as she found that hersteed would neither go on nor stand still.
Her heroic grapplings and wrestlings withit, her wild gyrations to and fro in the walk,while her teacher dashed madly after her, were[Pg 2]so ludicrous that the sergeant, although hewas well used to such spectacles, was obligedto turn away to conceal the broad grin thatoverspread his countenance.
The next object of his attention was a Gordonsetter who was gayly trotting into thepark, but who, on catching the sergeant’s eye,at once changed his happy-go-lucky demeanorfor a guilty shambling gait.
“What are you doing here, Mr. Ormistead’sdog?” said the sergeant in a stern voice, ashe glanced at the animal’s collar. “Where’syour escort?”
The setter immediately prostrated himself onthe ground, but his humble attitude was beliedby the roguish don’t-care expression of the eyeshe rolled up at the guardian of the law.
The sergeant waved his hand at him. “Gethome with you. You know you can’t runloose here. What would the ducks and thecats say to you; or rather, what would yousay to them?”
The dog was not ready to give in. Heextended the tip of a very pink tongue, and[Pg 3]meekly licked the tip of the sergeant’s shinyboot.
“No nonsense now,” said the man firmly.“You can’t humbug me, and you understandthat as well as a Christian. Run home withyou.”
The dog sprang up, resumed his careless air,and trotted calmly from the park by the roadwaythrough which he had come.
The sergeant sauntered on. It was a charmingSeptember morning. He met a few pedestriansand many nurses and children. It wasyet rather early in the day for the carriagepeople to be out.
A succession of angry childish shrieks madehim suddenly wheel round, and look in thedirection from which he had come. Twonurses and two children stood by the stoneseats near the group of bronze figures erectedto the memory of John Boyle O’Reilly.
The sergeant strolled slowly back to them.One of the nurses bent over a little girl whowas sobbing violently, and was stamping herfoot at a foreign-looking lad with a pale face,[Pg 4]who stood at a little distance from her. Hisnurse, or attendant, for he was rather too olda child to come entirely under a nursery régime,supported him by her presence, and wouldhave taken his hand in hers if he had notdrawn it from her.
“And sure you’ve hurt her this time withyour murderin’ Frenchy temper,” exclaimedthe little girl’s nurse, looking away from hersobbing charge at the silent boy. “It’s abatein’ you ought to have. Come now, tell uswhat you were after a-doing to her?”
“He took me by the arm and the leg, andhe sweeped the ground with me,” cried thelittle girl peeping at him from between herfingers.
“Och, the young villain,” interrupted hernurse, “and did you?”
The boy shrugged his shoulders. “Yes, itis true; but afterwards embraced her.”
“By the soul of love, but you’re the queerboy,” responded the nurse warmly; “and it’sthe likes of you makes the men that thinksthey can drag us women round the earth by[Pg 5]the hair of our heads, and then make it up witha—I’m sorry for ye, me dear—Bad luckto ye.”
“Hush now, Bridget,” interposed the secondnurse, stepping nearer the boy. “Wait till youhear the rights of this. Tell us now, MasterEugene, what did Virgie do to you?”
The boy’s eyes flashed; but he said quietlyenough, “Would you have me a talebearer?What would my grandfather say? Ask thechild”—and he pointed to the still sobbingVirgie with as grand an air as if he were reallythe man that he felt himself to be.
“He h-h-hurt my pealings,” wailed Virgiedismally.
“Your pealings; it’s feelings you mean, roseof my heart,” said her nurse, drawing the childnearer to her. “Tell your good Bridget whatyou did to the naughty boy.”
The little girl, for some reason or other, wasshy about confessing the provocation that shehad given her playmate; but her nurse, whosecuriosity had been aroused, was determined toextract a confession from her, and adroitly[Pg 6]made use of the presence of the sergeant, whohad by this time arrived on the scene.
“See, lovie dove,” she murmured in thechild’s ear, “here’s a great big monster of apoliceman, and he’s looking at ye. Tell himsharp.”
The little girl shuddered, hid her face inher nurse’s breast, and whispered, “I ’sultedhis remperor.”
“And you served him right,” said Bridget.“The grasping old frog-eater. If I had a childthat worshipped his bones, it’s shutting himup in prison I’d be after doing till he learnedbetter sense,” and she made a vindictive gesturein Eugene’s direction.
Her nurse’s championship restored courageto the breast of the little girl; and slippingfrom her knee, she jumped nimbly to the stoneseat beside them, and stretched out both hertiny hands toward the noble head carved aboveher.
“I ’sulted him,” she cried, tossing back hercurls from her flushed rosy cheeks. “I madea face at him like this,” and she screwed up[Pg 7]her little visage in a detestable grimace, “andI said, ‘Eugene, I hate your old remperor;’then he sweeped me over the ground.”
A slight flush overspread the boy’s pale face,but he did not deny the accusation.
“Well, now, Virgie Manning,” said the boy’snurse in a severe manner, “that was realmean in you. You’re only a little girl, butyou ought to be ashamed of yourself to taunta little boy that sets such store by his emperor.Look at here, officer,” and she appealedto the sergeant; “you’ve often seen us in theseFens. This little boy,” and she pointed toEugene, “is French, and he’s got such a lovefor foreign things that you can’t get it out ofhim. He justs worships the emperor. I don’trightly know which one it was”—
“His majesty, the great Napoleon, thegreatest emperor the world has ever seen,”murmured the boy, lifting his cap with an indescribablemingling of reverence and grace.
“He hasn’t any brothers or sisters or fatheror mother,” continued the nurse, “and hisgrandfather’s nearly always away; and ever[Pg 8]since he was a little fellow he tells me he’sbeen used to taking his meals with the pictureof this emperor propped against the sugar-bowl;and he declares that this statoo, or figger, orwhatever you call it, is like the photograph,and he just worships it; and if he sees anyone leaning against this slab, or throwingstones near it, it just makes him crazy; andVirgie knows it, and she does it to tease him;and it ain’t his fault if he struck her or whateverhe did,” and the girl threw a glance ofdefiance at the other nurse.
The sergeant smiled amiably. Among hismultifarious duties he was quite well accustomedto being called on to act as arbiter indisputes between young nursery-maids or betweentheir charges; and being somewhat of aphilosopher, he was well adapted for the office.
The first thing he usually did was to givethe parties engaged in controversy time to getcool while he went off on a side issue; so hesaid, in a deliberate fashion, “According to myhumble opinion, if I was called upon suddenlyfor it, I should say that there isn’t much resemblance[Pg 9]between John Boyle O’Reilly andthe great Bonaparte. In the first place, O’Reillynever used a razor on his upper lip; and I guessthe great Bonaparte did, judging by his pictures.How do you get over that, son?” andhe directed his attention to the small boy in apaternal way.
Eugene looked up adoringly at the silentface above them, and spoke in a choking voice.“I have talked over the affair with Monsieurmy grandfather. He agrees with me that thereis a slight resemblance. Perhaps after thenoble martyr went to St. Helena he was notallowed the use of a razor. Those abominableEnglish”—
His utterance failed him to such a degreethat the sergeant stared curiously at him.Was it possible that this small boy was shakenwith emotion over the sufferings of the ambitiousand despotic arbiter of men’s destinieswho was so long since dead?
Yes, it was—the boy was in earnest.
“Do you believe in my emperor?” he asked,turning seriously to the sergeant.
“Well, I don’t know,” said the officer dryly.“I owe my allegiance, as I suppose you’d callit, to our President, to the Commonwealth ofMassachusetts, and to the great AmericanUnion. However, I can say I believe in Napoleonto this extent—I believe he lived.”
“If you insult him,” said the boy gravely,“you are my enemy. I worship him. Longlive the emperor—his memory will never die;”and his lips moved softly while he again liftedhis little cap from his head.
The sergeant said nothing, but glanced atthe two nurses, who had forgotten their disputeand were chatting amiably.
“Come, Master Eugene,” said his nurse, “wemust be going.”
The sergeant stepped back; and the littlegirl, who had been jealously watching himwhile he talked to Eugene, took his place.
“I’m sorry I made naughty faces at yourremperor,” she said poutingly.