BLTC Press Titles

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Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

McCarty incog

by Isabel Ostrander


titudinous drums, jagged forks of white light

**• followed by reverberating crashes which shook the universe and the wailing of a host of demons that rose to a shriek and died in shuddering moans! These were the first impressions of ex-roundsman McCarty and he drew his own conclusions. He had passed into the next world, there could be no doubt of that, but he had never thought of being in that division of it. True, he had given as little serious consideration to his ultimate chances as the average healthy, optimistic man of his type, but he had taken it for granted that he would get about as good a deal as the next one. And yet he must have somehow let himself in for purgatory!

He did not quail at the prospect, but rather an overmastering curiosity possessed him. So imperative was it, that instinctively he opened his eyes. Just as he did, that jagged white glare came again; and his lids closed with a grunt of mingled comprehension and physical pain.

He wasn't dead, after all. He was lying somewhere, in the midst of a thunder-storm, on a slimy rock half in and half out of water that dashed stinging spray over him and ground steel-pointed particles of sand into the very marrow of his being. He felt as bruised and battered as if one of the ward gangs had got him in the old days, and something had stove in the side of his head just over the ear; but he did not, for the moment, attempt to move or take more accurate account of casualties.

How in the name of all that was incredible had he, Timothy McCarty, come to be where he was, and what had happened to him? Why wasn't he home in his own comfortable, shabby, bachelor quarters over the antique shop in that quiet New York side-street? He'd resolutely kept from butting in on any of the cases of the Department lately and had wanted to get away from it all; there'd been some talk between him and Dennis of a vacation!

McCarty sat up, suddenly regardless of his aching back and head and the precariousness of his slippery perch, and memory came back in an overwhelming tide. Denny—the fishing trip to Cape Cod—the random choice of that ramshackled clutter of shanties called Plimptonport—the equally casual meeting and bargain with the taciturn old fisherman for the use of his hut and his dory—the start for Mattagansett—the storm—and then chaos! They'd been swamped, shipwrecked, and he'd been flung upon the shore with his head against a rock that had knocked the senses out of him, but where was Denny? By the Blessed Saints, where was he?

Lurching, slipping, reeling with the agony of his battered head and buffeted by the howling wind, McCarty managed to scramble to the strip of beach. He dashed his torn oil-skin sleeve across his eyes to rid them of a sudden, blinding moisture that was neither spray nor rain, while by the next revealing flash of lightning he gazed wildly about him at the deserted expanse of sand dunes and tumbling waters; and his voice rose above the warring elements in a cry which bore with it all the brotherly love of their lifetime of companionship and the anguish of dread of what might be.

"Denny! Denny! For the love of God answer me! 'Tis Mac that's calling! Where are you? Denny!"

He ran and fell and staggered to his feet again, only to fling himself onward in mad rushes to and fro which carried him, now waist-deep into the water, now halfway up the shelving side of a sand dune. But ever his hoarse shout was driven back into his throat and only the roar of the wind answered him.

At length he dropped exhausted upon the sodden beach and lay with the rain beating down upon him, while great sobs tore their way from his breast. Dennis Riordan was gone! Tumbling about somewhere out in that black waste of sea under the stormy night sky was the body of his friend, his pal who had followed him through every adventure, grave or gay, steeped in the quiet contentment of utter congeniality or fraught with hazard! Denny, his confidant since they had come green to the new country and each won his way into the department of service for which he was best fitted, maintaining a comradeship unshakable through all the years that followed! Denny was gone!

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