The Grand Cross of the Crescent by Richard Harding Davis
Of some college students it has been said that, in order to
pass their examinations, they will deceive and cheat their
kind professors. This may or may not be true. One only can
shudder and pass hurriedly on. But whatever others may have
done, when young Peter Hallowell in his senior year came up
for those final examinations which, should he pass them even
by a nose, would gain him his degree, he did not cheat. He
may have been too honest, too confident, too lazy, but Peter
did not cheat. It was the professors who cheated.
At Stillwater College, on each subject on which you are
examined you can score a possible hundred. That means
perfection, and in, the brief history of Stillwater, which
is a very, new college, only one man has attained it. After
graduating he "accepted a position" in an asylum for the
insane, from which he was, promoted later to the poor-house,
where he died. Many Stillwater undergraduates studied his
career and, lest they also should attain perfection, were
afraid to study anything else. Among these Peter was by far
the most afraid.
The marking system at Stillwater is as follows: If in all the
subjects in which you have been examined your marks added
together give you an average of ninety, you are passed "with
honors"; if of seventy-five, you pass "with distinction"; if
Of fifty, You just "pass." It is not unlike the grocer's
nice adjustment of fresh eggs, good eggs, and eggs. The
whole college knew that if Peter got in among the eggs he
would be lucky, but the professors and instructors of
Stillwater 'were determined that, no matter what young
Hallowell might do to prevent it, they would see that he
passed his examinations. And they constituted the jury of
awards. Their interest in Peter was not because they loved
him so much, but because each loved his own vine-covered
cottage, his salary, and his dignified title the more. And
each knew that that one of the faculty who dared to flunk
the son of old man Hallowell, who had endowed Stillwater, who
supported Stillwater, and who might be expected to go on
supporting Stillwater indefinitely, might also at the same
time hand in his official resignation.
Chancellor Black, the head of Stillwater, was an up-to-date
college president. If he did not actually run after money he
went where money was, and it was not his habit to be
downright rude to those who possessed it. And if any threethousand
-dollar-a-year professor, through a too strict
respect for Stillwater's standards of learning, should lose
to that institution a half-million-dollar observatory,
swimming-pool, or gymnasium, he was the sort of college
president, who would see to it that the college lost also the
services of that too conscientious instructor.
He did not put this in writing or in words, but just before
the June examinations, when on, the campus he met one of the
faculty, he would inquire with kindly interest as to the
standing of young Hallowell.
"That is too bad!" he would exclaim, but, more in sorrow than
in anger. "Still, I hope the boy can pull through. He is his
dear father's pride, and his father's heart is set upon his
son's obtaining his degree. Let us hope he will pull
through." For four years every professor had been pulling
Peter through, and the conscience of each had become
calloused. They had only once more to shove him through and
they would be free of him forever. And so, although they did
not conspire together, each knew that of the firing squad
that was to aim its rifles at, Peter, HIS rifle would hold
the blank cartridge.
The only one of them who did not know this was Doctor Henry
Gilman. Doctor Gilman was the professor of ancient and modern
history at Stillwater, and greatly respected and loved. He
also was the author of those well-known text-books, "The
Founders of Islam," and "The Rise and Fall of the Turkish
Empire." This latter work, in five volumes, had been not
unfavorably compared to Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the
Roman Empire." The original newspaper comment, dated some
thirty years back, the doctor had preserved, and would
produce it, now somewhat frayed and worn, and read it to
visitors. He knew it by heart, but to him it always possessed
a contemporary and news interest.
"Here is a review of the history," he would say--he always
referred to it as "the" history--"that I came across in my
In the eyes of Doctor Gilman thirty years was so brief a
period that it was as though the clipping had been printed
the previous after-noon.
The members of his class who were examined on the "Rise and
Fall," and who invariably came to grief over it, referred to
it briefly as the Fall," sometimes feelingly as "the. . . .
Fall." The" history began when Constantinople was Byzantium,
skipped lightly over six centuries to Constantine, and in the
last two Volumes finished up the Mohammeds with the downfall
of the fourth one and the coming of Suleiman. Since Suleiman,
Doctor Gilman did not recognize Turkey as being on the map.
When his history said the Turkish Empire had fallen, then the
Turkish Empire fell. Once Chancellor Black suggested that he
add a sixth volume that would cover the last three centuries.
"In a history of Turkey issued as a text-book," said the
chancellor, "I think the Russian-Turkish War should be
Doctor Gilman, from behind his gold-rimmed spectacles, gazed
at him in mild reproach. "The war in the Crimea!" he
exclaimed. "Why, I was alive at the time. I know about it.
That is not history."
Accordingly, it followed that to a man who since the
seventeenth century knew of no event, of interest, Cyrus
Hallowell, of the meat-packers' trust, was not an imposing
figure. And such a man the son of Cyrus Hallowell was but an
ignorant young savage, to whom "the" history certainly had
been a closed book. And so when Peter returned his
examination paper in a condition almost as spotless as that
in which he had received it, Doctor Gilman carefully and
conscientiously, with malice toward none and, with no thought
of the morrow, marked" five."
Each of the other professors and instructors had marked Peter
fifty. In their fear of Chancellor Black they dared not give
the boy less, but they refused to be slaves to the extent of
crediting him with a single point higher than was necessary
to pass him. But Doctor Gilman's five completely knocked out
the required average of fifty, and young Peter was "found"
and could not graduate. It was an awful business! The only
son of the only Hallowell refused a degree in his father's
own private college--the son of the man who had built the
Hallowell Memorial, the new Laboratory, the Anna Hallowell
Chapel, the Hallowell Dormitory, and the Hallowell Athletic
Field. When on the bulletin board of the dim hall of the
Memorial to his departed grandfather Peter read of his own
disgrace and downfall, the light the stained-glass window
cast upon his nose was of no sicklier a green than was the
nose itself. Not that Peter wanted an A.M. or an A.B., not
that he desired laurels he had not won, but because the young
man was afraid of his father. And he had cause to be. Father
arrived at Stillwater the next morning. The interviews that
followed made Stillwater history.
"My son is not an ass!" is what Hallowell senior is said to
have said to Doctor Black. "And if in four years you and your
faculty cannot give him the rudiments of an education, I will
send him to a college that can. And I'll send my money where
I send Peter."
In reply Chancellor Black could have said that it was the
fault of the son and not of the college; he could have said
that where three men had failed to graduate one hundred and
eighty had not. But did he say that? Oh, no, he did not say
that! He was not that sort of, a college president. Instead,
he remained calm and sympathetic, and like a conspirator in a
comic opera glanced apprehensively round his, study. He
lowered his voice.
"There has been contemptible work here, "he whispered--"spite
and a mean spirit of reprisal. I have been making a secret
investigation, and I find that this blow at your son and you,
and at the good name of our college was struck by one man, a
man with a grievance--Doctor Gilman. Doctor Gilman has
repeatedly desired me to raise his salary." This did not
happen to be true, but in such a crisis Dotor Black could not
afford to be too particular.
"I have seen no reason for raising his salary--and there you
have the explanation. In revenge he has made this attack. But
he overshot his mark. In causing us temporary embarrassment
he has brought about his own downfall. I have already asked
for his resignation."
Every day in the week Hallowell was a fair, sane man, but on
this particular day he was wounded, his spirit was hurt, his
self-esteem humiliated. He was in a state of mind to believe
anything rather than that his son was an idiot.
"I don't want the man discharged," he protested, "just
because Peter is lazy. But if Doctor Gilman was moved by
personal considerations, if he sacrificed my Peter in order
to get even . . . ."
"That," exclaimed Black in a horrified whisper, "is exactly
what he did! Your generosity to the college is well known.
You are recognized all over America as its patron. And he
believed that when I refused him an increase in salary it was
really you who refused it--and he struck at you through your
son. Everybody thinks so. The college is on fire with
indignation. And look at the mark he gave Peter! Five! That
in itself shows the malice. Five is not a mark, it is an
insult! No one, certainly not your brilliant son--look how
brilliantly he managed the glee-club and foot-ball tour--is
stupid enough to deserve five. No, Doctor Gilman went too
far. And he has been justly punished!"
What Hallowell senior was willing to believe of what the
chancellor told him, and his opinion of the matter as
expressed to Peter, differed materially.
"They tell me," he concluded, "that in the fall they will
give you another examination, and if you pass then, you will
get your degree. No one will know you've got it. They'll slip
it to you out of the side-door like a cold potato to a tramp.
The only thing people will know is that when your classmates
stood up and got their parchments--the thing they'd been
working for four years, the only reason for their going to
college at all--YOU were not among those present. That's your
fault; but if you don't get your degree next fall that will
be my fault. I've supported you through college and you've
failed to deliver the goods. Now you deliver them next fall,
or you can support yourself."
"That will be all right," said Peter humbly; "I'll pass next
"I'm going to make sure of that," said Hallowell senior. "Tomorrow
you will take those history books that you did not
open, especially Gilman's 'Rise and Fall,' which it seems you
have not even purchased, and you will travel for the entire
summer with a private tutor . . . ."
Peter, who had personally conducted the foot-ball and baseball
teams over half of the Middle States and daily bullied
and browbeat them, protested with indignation. "WON'T travel
with a private tutor!"
"If I say so," returned Hallowell senior grimly, "you'll
travel with a governess and a trained nurse, and wear a
strait jacket. And you'll continue to wear it until you can
recite the history of Turkey backward. And in order that you
may know it backward--and forward you will spend this summer
in Turkey--in Constantinople--until I send you permission to
"Constantinople!" yelled Peter. "In August! Are you serious?"
" Do I look it?" asked Peter's father. He did.
"In Constantinople," explained Mr. Hallowell senior, "there
will be nothing to distract you from your studies, and in
spite of yourself every minute you will be imbibing history
and local color."
"I'll be imbibing fever,", returned Peter, "and sunstroke and
sudden death. If you want to get rid of me, why don't you
send me to the island where they sent Dreyfus? It's quicker.
You don't have to go to Turkey to study about Turkey."
"You do!" said his father.
Peter did not wait for the festivities of commencement week.
All day he hid in his room, packing his belongings or giving
them away to e members of his class, who came to tell him
what a rotten shame it was, and to bid him good-by. They
loved Peter for himself alone, and at losing him were loyally
enraged. They sired publicly to express their sentiments, and
to that end they planned a mock trial of the Rise and Fall,"
at which a packed jury would sentence it to cremation. They
planned also to hang Doctor Gilman in effigy. The effigy with
a rope round its neck was even then awaiting mob violence. It
was complete to the silver-white beard and the gold
spectacles. But Peter squashed both demonstrations. He did
not know Doctor Gilman had been forced to resign, but he
protested that the horse-play of his friends would make him
appear a bad loser. "It would look, boys," he said, "as
though I couldn't take my medicine. Looks like kicking
against the umpire's decision. Old Gilman fought fair. He
gave me just what was coming to me. I think a darn sight more
of him than do of that bunch of boot-lickers that had the
colossal nerve to pretend I scored fifty!"
Doctor Gilman sat in his cottage that stood the edge of the
campus, gazing at a plaster bust of Socrates which he did not
see. Since that morning he had ceased to sit in the chair of
history at Stillwater College. They were retrenching, the
chancellor had told him curtly, cutting down unnecessary
expenses, for even in his anger Doctor Black was too
intelligent to hint at his real motive, and the professor was
far too innocent of evil, far too detached from college
politics to suspect. He would remain a professor emeritus on
half pay, but he no longer would teach. The college he had
served for thirty years-since it consisted of two brick
buildings and a faculty of ten young men--no longer needed
him. Even his ivy-covered cottage, in which his wife and he
had lived for twenty years, in which their one child had
died, would at the beginning of the next term be required of
him. But the college would allow him those six months in
which to "look round." So, just outside the circle of light
from his student lamp, he sat in his study, and stared with
unseeing eyes at the bust of Socrates. He was not considering
ways and means. They must be faced later. He was considering
how he could possibly break the blow to his wife. What
eviction from that house would mean to her no one but he
understood. Since the day their little girl had died, nothing
in the room that had been her playroom, bedroom, and nursery
had been altered, nothing had been touched. To his wife,
somewhere in the house that wonderful, God-given child was
still with them. Not as a memory but as a real and living
presence. When at night the professor and his wife sat at
either end of the study table, reading by the same lamp, he
would see her suddenly lift her head, alert and eager, as
though from the nursery floor a step had sounded, as though
from the darkness a sleepy voice had called her. And when
they would be forced to move to lodgings in the town, to some
students' boarding-house, though they could take with them
their books, their furniture, their mutual love and
comradeship, they must leave behind them the haunting
presence of the child, the colored pictures she had cut from
the Christmas numbers and plastered over the nursery walls,
the rambler roses that with her own hands she had planted and
that now climbed to her window and each summer peered into
her empty room.
Outside Doctor Gilman's cottage, among the trees of the
campus, paper lanterns like oranges aglow were swaying in the
evening breeze. In front of Hallowell the flame of a bonfire
shot to the top of the tallest elms, and gathered in a circle
round it the glee club sang, and cheer succeeded cheer-cheers
for the heroes of the cinder track, for the heroes of the
diamond and the gridiron , cheers for the men who had flunked
especially for one man who had flunked. But for that man who
for thirty years in the class room had served the college
there were no cheers. No one remembered him, except the one
student who had best reason to remember him. But this
recollection Peter had no rancor or bitterness and, still
anxious lest he should be considered a bad loser, he wished
Doctor Gilman a every one else to know that. So when the
celebration was at its height and just before train was due
to carry him from Stillwater, ran across the campus to the
Gilman cottage say good-by. But he did not enter the cottage
He went so far only as half-way up the garden walk. In the
window of the study which opened upon the veranda he saw
through frame of honeysuckles the professor and wife standing
beside the study table. They were clinging to each other, the
woman weep silently with her cheek on his shoulder, thin,
delicate, well-bred hands clasping arms, while the man
comforted her awkward unhappily, with hopeless, futile
Peter, shocked and miserable at what he had seen, backed
steadily away. What disaster had befallen the old couple he
could not imagine. The idea that he himself might in any way
connected with their grief never entered mind. He was certain
only that, whatever the trouble was, it was something so
intimate and personal that no mere outsider might dare to
offer his sympathy. So on tiptoe he retreated down the garden
walk and, avoiding the celebration at the bonfire, returned
to his rooms. An hour later the entire college escorted him
to the railroad station, and with "He's a jolly good fellow"
and "He's off to Philippopolis in the morn--ing" ringing in
his ears, he sank back his seat in the smoking-car and gazed
at the lights of Stillwater disappearing out of his life. And
he was surprised to find that what lingered his mind was not
the students, dancing like Indians round the bonfire, or at
the steps of the smoking-car fighting to shake his hand, but
the man and woman alone in the cottage stricken with sudden
sorrow, standing like two children lost in the streets, who
cling to each other for comfort and at the same moment
whisper words of courage.
Two months Later, at Constantinople, Peter, was suffering
from remorse over neglected opportunities, from prickly heat,
and from fleas. And it not been for the moving-picture man,
and the poker and baccarat at the Cercle Oriental, he would
have flung himself into the Bosphorus. In the mornings with
the tutor he read ancient history, which he promptly forgot;
and for the rest of the hot, dreary day with the movingpicture
man through the bazaars and along the water-front he
stalked suspects for the camera.
The name of the moving-picture man was Harry Stetson. He had
been a newspaper reporter, a press-agent, and an actor in
vaudeville and in a moving-picture company. Now on his own
account he was preparing an illustrated lecture on the East,
adapted to churches and Sunday-schools. Peter and he wrote it
in collaboration, and in the evenings rehearsed it with
lantern slides before an audience of the hotel clerk, the
tutor, and the German soldier of fortune who was trying to
sell the young Turks very old battleships. Every other
foreigner had fled the city, and the entire diplomatic corps
had removed itself to the summer capital at Therapia.
There Stimson, the first secretary of the embassy and, in the
absence of the ambassador, CHARGE D'AFFAIRES, invited Peter
to become his guest. Stimson was most anxious to be polite to
Peter, for Hallowell senior was a power in the party then in
office, and a word from him at Washington in favor of a
rising young diplomat would do no harm. But Peter was afraid
his father would consider Therapia "out of bounds."
"He sent me to Constantinople," explained Peter, "and if he
thinks I'm not playing the game the Lord only knows where he
might send me next-and he might cut off my allowance."
In the matter of allowance Peter's father had been most
generous. This was fortunate, for poker, as the pashas and
princes played it at he Cercle, was no game for cripples or
children. But, owing to his letter-of-credit and his illspent
life, Peter was able to hold his own against men three times
his age and of fortunes nearly equal to that of his father.
Only they disposed of their wealth differently. On many
hot evening Peter saw as much of their money scattered over
the green table as his father had spent over the Hallowell
In this fashion Peter spent his first month of exile--in the
morning trying to fill his brain with names of great men who
had been a long time dead, and in his leisure hours with
local color. To a youth of his active spirit it was a full
life without joy or recompense. A Letter from Charley Hines,
a classmate who lived at Stillwater, which arrived after
Peter had endured six weeks of Constantinople, released him
from boredom and gave life a real interest. It was a letter
full of gossip intended to amuse. One paragraph failed of its
purpose. It read: "Old man Gilman has got the sack. The
chancellor offered him up as a sacrifice to your father, and
because he was unwise enough to flunk you. He is to move out
in September. I ran across them last week when I was looking
for rooms for a Freshman cousin. They were reserving one in
the same boarding-house. It's a shame, and I know you'll
agree. They are a fine old couple, and I don't like to think
of them herding with Freshmen in a shine boardinghouse. Black
always was a swine."
Peter spent fully ten minutes getting to the cable office.
"Just learned," he cabled his father, "Gilman dismissed
because flunked me consider this outrageous please see he
The answer, which arrived the next day, did not satisfy
Peter. It read: "Informed Gilman acted through spite have no
authority as you know to interfere any act of black."
Since Peter had learned of the disaster that through his
laziness had befallen the Gilmans, his indignation at the
injustice had been hourly increasing. Nor had his banishment
to Constantinople strengthened his filial piety. On the
contrary, it had rendered him independent and but little
inclined to kiss the paternal rod. In consequence his next
cable was not conciliatory.
"Dismissing Gilman Looks more Like we acted through spite
makes me appear contemptible Black is a toady will do as
you direct please reinstate."
To this somewhat peremptory message his father answered:
"If your position unpleasant yourself to blame not Black
incident is closed."
"Is it?" said the son of his father. He called Stetson to his
aid and explained. Stetson reminded him of the famous
cablegram of his distinguished contemporary: "Perdicaris
alive and Raisuli dead!"
Peter's paraphrase of this ran: "Gilman returns to Stillwater
or I will not try for degree."
The reply was equally emphatic:
"You earn your degree or you earn your own living."
This alarmed Stetson, but caused Peter to deliver his
ultimatum: "Choose to earn my own living am leaving
Within a few days Stetson was also leaving Constantinople by
steamer via Naples. Peter, who had come to like him very
much, would have accompanied him had he not preferred to
return home more leisurely by way of Paris and London.
"You'll get there long before I do," said Peter, "and as soon
as you arrive I want you to go to Stillwater and give Doctor
Gilman some souvenir of Turkey from me. Just to show him I've
no hard feelings. He wouldn't accept money, but he can't
refuse a present. I want it to be something characteristic of
the country, Like a prayer rug, or a scimitar, or an
illuminated Koran, or "
Somewhat doubtfully, somewhat sheepishly, Stetson drew from
his pocket a flat morocco case and opened it. "What's the
matter with one of these?" he asked.
In a velvet-lined jewel case was a star of green enamel and
silver gilt. To it was attached a ribbon of red and green.
"That's the Star of the Crescent," said Peter. "Where did you
"Buy it!" exclaimed Stetson. "You don't buy them. The Sultan
"I'll bet the Sultan didn't bestow that one," said Peter.
"I'll bet," returned Stetson, "I've got something in my
pocket that says he did."
He unfolded an imposing document covered with slanting lines
of curving Arabic letters in gold. Peter was impressed but
"What does that say when it says it in English?" he asked.
"It says," translated Stetson, "that his Imperial Majesty,
the Sultan, bestows upon Henry Stetson, educator, author,
lecturer, the Star of the Order of the Crescent, of the fifth
class, for services rendered to Turkey."
Peter interrupted him indignantly.
"Never try to fool the fakirs, my son," he protested. "I'm a
fakir myself. What services did you ever . . . ."
"Services rendered," continued Stetson undisturbed, "in
spreading throughout the United States a greater knowledge of
the customs, industries, and religion of the Ottoman Empire.
That," he explained, "refers to my--I should say our--
moving-picture lecture. I thought it would look well if, when
I lectured on Turkey, I wore a Turkish decoration, so I went
after this one."
Peter regarded his young friend with incredulous admiration.
"But did they believe you," he demanded, "when you told them
you were an author and educator?"
Stetson closed one eye and grinned. "They believed whatever I
paid them to believe."
"If you can get one of those, "cried Peter, Old man Gilman
ought to get a dozen. I'll tell them he's the author of the
longest and dullest history of their flea-bitten empire that
was ever written. And he's a real professor and a real
author, and I can prove it. I'll show them the five volumes
with his name in each. How much did that thing cost you?"
"Two hundred dollars in bribes," said Stetson briskly, "and
two months of diplomacy."
"I haven't got two months for diplomacy," said Peter, "so
I'll have to increase the bribes. I'll stay here and get the
decoration for Gilman, and you work the papers at home. No
one ever heard of the Order of the Crescent, but that only
makes it the easier for us. They'll only know what we tell
them, and we'll tell them it's the highest honor ever
bestowed by a reigning sovereign upon an American scholar. If
you tell the people often enough that anything is the best
they believe you. That's the way father sells his hams.
You've been a press-agent. From now on you're going to be my
press-agent--I mean Doctor Gilman's press-agent. I pay your
salary, but your work is to advertise him and the Order of
the Crescent. I'll give you a letter to Charley Hines at
Stillwater. He sends out college news to a syndicate and he's
the local Associated Press man. He's sore at their
discharging Gilman and he's my best friend, and he'll work
the papers as far as you like. Your job is to make Stillwater
College and Doctor Black and my father believe that when they
lost Gilman they lost the man who made Stillwater famous. And
before we get through boosting Gilman, we'll make my father's
million-dollar gift laboratory look like an insult."
In the eyes of the former press-agent the light of battle
burned fiercely, memories of his triumphs in exploitation, of
his strategies and tactics in advertising soared before him.
"It's great!" he exclaimed. "I've got your idea and you've
got me. And you're darned lucky to get me. I've been pressagent
for politicians, actors, society leaders, breakfast
foods, and horse-shows--and I'm the best! I was in charge of
the publicity bureau for Galloway when he ran for governor.
He thinks the people elected him. I know I did. Nora
Nashville was getting fifty dollars a week in vaudeville when
I took hold of her; now she gets a thousand. I even made
people believe Mrs. Hampton-Rhodes was a society leader at
Newport, when all she ever saw of Newport was Bergers and the
Muschenheim-Kings. Why, I am the man that made the American
People believe Russian dancers can dance!"
"It's plain to see you hate yourself," said 'Peter. "You must
not get so despondent or you might commit suicide. How much
money will you want?"
"How much have you got?"
"All kinds," said Peter. "Some in a letter-of-credit that my
father earned from the fretful pig, and much more in cash
that I won at poker from the pashas. When that's gone I've
got to go to work and earn my living. Meanwhile your salary
is a hundred a week and all you need to boost Gilman and the
Order of the Crescent. We are now the Gilman Defense,
Publicity, and Development Committee, and you will begin by
introducing me to the man I am to bribe."
"In this country you don't need any introduction to the man
you want to bribe," exclaimed Stetson; "you just bribe him!"
That same night in the smoking-room of the hotel, Peter and
Stetson made their first move in the game of winning for
Professor Gilman the Order of the Crescent. Stetson presented
Peter to a young effendi in a frock coat and fez. Stetson
called him Osman. He was a clerk in the foreign office and
appeared to be "a friend of a friend of a friend" of the
assistant third secretary.
The five volumes of the "Rise and Fall" were spread before
him, and Peter demanded to know why so distinguished a
scholar as Doctor Gilman had not received some recognition
from the country he had so sympathetically described. Osman
fingered the volumes doubtfully, and promised the matter
should be brought at once to the attention of the grand
After he had departed Stetson explained that Osman had just
as little chance of getting within speaking distance of the
grand vizier as of the ladies of his harem.
"It's like Tammany," said Stetson; "there are sachems,
district leaders, and lieutenants. Each of them is entitled
to trade or give away a few of these decorations, just as
each district leader gets his percentage of jobs in the
streetcleaning department. This fellow will go to his patron,
his patron will go to some undersecretary in the cabinet, he
will put it up to a palace favorite, and they will divide
"In time the minister of foreign affairs will sign your
brevet and a hundred others, without knowing what he is
signing; then you cable me, and the Star of the Crescent will
burst upon the United States in a way that will make Halley's
comet look like a wax match."
The next day Stetson and the tutor sailed for home and Peter
was left alone to pursue, as he supposed, the Order of the
Crescent. On the contrary, he found that the Order of the
Crescent was pursuing him. He had not appreciated that, from
underlings and backstair politicians, an itinerant showman
like Stetson and the only son of an American Croesus would
receive very different treatment.
Within twenty-four hours a fat man with a blue-black beard
and diamond rings called with Osman to apologize for the
latter. Osman, the fat man explained--had been about to make
a fatal error. For Doctor Gilman he had asked the Order of
the Crescent of the fifth class, the same class that had been
given Stetson. The fifth class, the fat man explained, was
all very well for tradesmen, dragomans, and eunuchs, but as
an honor for a savant as distinguished as the friend of his.
Hallowell, the fourth class would hardly be high enough. The
fees, the fat man added, would Also be higher; but, he
pointed out, it was worth the difference, because the fourth
class entitled the wearer to a salute from all sentries.
"There are few sentries at Stillwater," said Peter; "but I
want the best and I want it quick. Get me the fourth class."
The next morning he was surprised by an early visit from
Stimson of the embassy. The secretary was considerably
"My dear Hallowell," he protested, "why the devil didn't you
tell me you wanted a decoration? Of course the State
department expressly forbids us to ask for one for ourselves,
or for any one else. But what's the Constitution between
friends? I'll get it for you at once--but, on two conditions:
that you don't tell anybody I got it, and that you tell me
why you want it, and what you ever did to deserve it."
Instead, Peter explained fully and so sympathetically that
the diplomat demanded that he, too, should be enrolled as one
of the Gilman Defense Committee.
"Doctor Gilman's history," he said, "must be presented to the
Sultan. You must have the five volumes rebound in red and
green, the colors of Mohammed, and with as much gold tooling
as they can carry. I hope," he added, they are not soiled."
"Not by me," Peter assured him.
"I will take them myself," continued Stimson, "to Muley
Pasha, the minister of foreign affairs, and ask him to
present them to his Imperial Majesty. He will promise to do
so, but he won't; but he knows I know he won't so that is all
right. And in return he will present us with the Order of the
Crescent of the third class."
"Going up!" exclaimed Peter. "The third class. That will cost
me my entire letter-of-credit."
"Not at all," said Stimson. "I've saved you from the
grafters. It will cost you only what you pay to have the
books rebound. And the THIRD class is a real honor of which
any one might be proud. You wear it round your neck, and at
your funeral it entitles you to an escort of a thousand
"I'd rather put up with fewer soldiers," said Peter, " and
wear it longer round my neck What's the matter with our
getting the second class or the first class?"
At such ignorance Stimson could not repress a smile.
"The first class," he explained patiently, "is the Great
Grand Cross, and is given only to reigning sovereigns. The
second is called the Grand Cross, and is bestowed only on
crowned princes, prime ministers, and men of world-wide
fame . . . . "
"What's the matter with Doctor Gilman's being of world-wide
fame?" said Peter. "He will be some day, when Stetson starts
"Some day," retorted Stimson stiffly, " I may be an
ambassador. When I am I hope to get the Grand Cross of the
Crescent, but not now. I'm sorry you're not satisfied," he
added aggrievedly. "No one can get you anything higher than
the third class, and I may lose my official head asking for
"Nothing is too good for old man Gilman," said Peter, "nor
for you. You get the third class for him, and I'll have
father make you an ambassador."
That night at poker at the club Peter sat next to Prince
Abdul, who had come from a reception at the Grand vizier 's
and still wore his decorations. Decorations now fascinated
Peter, and those on the coat of the young prince he regarded
with wide-eyed awe. He also regarded Abdul with wide-eyed
awe, because he was the favorite nephew of the Sultan, and
because he enjoyed the reputation of having the worst
reputation in Turkey. Peter wondered why. He always had found
Abdul charming, distinguished, courteous to the verge of
humility, most cleverly cynical, most brilliantly amusing. At
poker he almost invariably won, and while doing so was so
politely bored, so indifferent to his cards and the cards
held by others, that Peter declared he had never met his
In a pause in the game, while some one tore the cover off a
fresh pack, Peter pointed at the star of diamonds that
nestled behind the lapel of Abdul's coat.
"May I ask what that is?" said Peter.
The prince frowned at his diamond sunburst as though it
annoyed him, and then smiled delightedly.
"It is an order," he said in a quick aside, "bestowed only
upon men of world-wide fame. I dined to-night," he explained,
"with your charming compatriot, Mr. Joseph Stimson."
"And Joe told?" said Peter.
The prince nodded. "Joe told," he repeated; "but it is all
arranged. Your distinguished friend, the Sage of Stillwater,
will receive the Crescent of the third class."
Peter's eyes were still fastened hungrily upon the diamond
"Why," he demanded, "can't some one get him one like that?"
As though about to take offense the prince raised his
eyebrows, and then thought better of it and smiled.
"There are only two men in all Turkey," he said, "who could
"And is the Sultan the other one?" asked Peter. The prince
gasped as though he had suddenly stepped beneath a cold
shower, and then laughed long and silently.
"You flatter me," he murmured.
"You know you could if you liked!" whispered Peter stoutly.
Apparently Abdul did not hear him. "I will take one card," he
Toward two in the morning there was seventy-five thousand
francs in the pot, and all save Prince Abdul and Peter had
dropped out. "Will you divide?" asked the prince.
"Why should I?" said Peter. "I've got you beat now. Do you
raise me or call?" The prince called and laid down a full
house. Peter showed four tens.
"I will deal you one hand, double or quits," said the prince.
Over the end of his cigar Peter squinted at the great heap of
mother-of-pearl counters and gold-pieces and bank-notes.
"You will pay me double what is on the table," he said, "or
you quit owing me nothing."
The prince nodded.
"Go ahead," said Peter.
The prince dealt them each a hand and discarded two cards.
Peter held a seven, a pair of kings, and a pair of fours.
Hoping to draw another king, which might give him a three
higher than the three held by Abdul, he threw away the seven
and the lower pair. He caught another king. The prince showed
three queens and shrugged his shoulders.
Peter, leaning toward him, spoke out of the corner of his
"I'll make you a sporting proposition," he murmured. "You owe
me a hundred and fifty thousand francs. "I'll stake that
against what only two men in the empire can give me."
The prince allowed his eyes to travel slowly round the circle
of the table. But the puzzled glances of the other players
showed that to them Peter's proposal conveyed no meaning.
The prince smiled cynically.
"For yourself?" he demanded.
"For Doctor Gilman," said Peter.
"We will cut for deal and one hand will decide," said the
prince. His voice dropped to a whisper. "And no one must ever
know," he warned.
Peter also could be cynical.
"Not even the Sultan," he said.
Abdul won the deal and gave himself a very good hand. But the
hand he dealt Peter was the better one.
The prince was a good loser. The next afternoon the GAZETTE
OFFICIALLY announced that upon Doctor Henry Gilman, professor
emeritus of the University of Stillwater, U. S. A., the
Sultan had been graciously pleased to confer the Grand Cross
of the Order of the Crescent.
Peter flashed the great news to Stetson. The cable caught him
at Quarantine. It read: "Captured Crescent, Grand Cross. Get
But before Stetson could get busy the campaign of publicity
had been brilliantly opened from Constantinople. Prince
Abdul, although pitchforked into the Gilman Defense
Committee, proved himself one of its most enthusiastic
"For me it becomes a case of NOBLESSE OBLIGE," he declared.
"If it is worth doing at all it is worth doing well. To-day
the Sultan will command that the "Rise and Fall" be
translated into Arabic, and that it be placed in the national
library. Moreover, the University of Constantinople, the
College of Salonica, and the National Historical Society have
each elected Doctor Gilman an honorary member. I proposed
him, the Patriarch of Mesopotamia seconded him. And the
Turkish ambassador in America has been instructed to present
the insignia with his own hands."
Nor was Peter or Stimson idle. To assist Stetson in his
press-work, and to further the idea that all Europe was now
clamoring for the "Rise and fall," Peter paid an impecunious
but over-educated dragoman to translate it into five
languages, and Stimson officially wrote of this, and of the
bestowal of the Crescent to the State Department. He pointed
out that not since General Grant had passed through Europe
had the Sultan so highly honored an American. He added he had
been requested by the grand vizier --who had been requested
by Prince Abdul--to request the State Department to inform
Doctor Gilman of these high honors. A request from such a
source was a command and, as desired, the State Department
wrote as requested by the grand vizier to Doctor Gilman, and
tendered congratulations. The fact was sent out briefly from
Washington by Associated Press. This official recognition by
the Government and by the newspapers was all and more than
Stetson wanted. He took off his coat and with a megaphone,
rather than a pen, told the people of the United States who
Doctor Gilman was, who the Sultan was, what a Grand Cross
was, and why America's greatest historian was not without
honor save in his own country. Columns of this were paid for
and appeared as "patent insides," with a portrait of Doctor
Gilman taken from the STILLWATER COLLEGE ANNUAL, and a
picture of the Grand Cross drawn from imagination, in eight
hundred newspapers of the Middle, Western, and Eastern
States. special articles, paragraphs, portraits, and pictures
of the Grand Cross followed, and, using Stillwater as his
base, Stetson continued to flood the country. Young Hines,
the local correspondent, acting under instructions by cable
from Peter, introduced him to Doctor Gilman as a traveller
who lectured on Turkey, and one who was a humble admirer of
the author of the "Rise and fall." Stetson, having studied it
as a student crams an examination, begged that he might sit
at the feet of the master. And for several evenings, actually
at his feet, on the steps of the ivy-covered cottage,
the disguised press-agent drew from the unworldly and
unsuspecting scholar the simple story of his life. To this,
still in his character as disciple and student, he added
photographs he himself made of the master, of the master's
ivy-covered cottage, of his favorite walk across the campus,
of the great historian at work at his desk, at work in his
rose garden, at play with his wife on the croquet lawn. These
he held until the insignia should be actually presented. This
pleasing duty fell to the Turkish ambassador, who, much to
his astonishment, had received instructions to proceed to
Stillwater, Massachusetts, a place of which he had never
heard, and present to a Doctor Gilman, of whom he had never
heard, the Grand Cross of the Crescent. As soon as the
insignia arrived in the official mail-bag a secretary brought
it from Washington to Boston, and the ambassador travelled
down from Bar Harbor to receive it, and with the secretary
took the local train to Stillwater.
The reception extended to him there is still remembered by
the ambassador as one of the happiest incidents of his
distinguished career. Never since he came to represent his
imperial Majesty in the Western republic had its barbarians
greeted him in a manner in any way so nearly approaching his
own idea of what was his due.
"This ambassador," Hines had explained to the mayor of
Stillwater, who was also the proprietor of its largest
department store, "is the personal representative of the
Sultan. So we've got to treat him right."
"It's exactly," added Stetson, "as though the Sultan himself
"And so few crowned heads visit Stillwater," continued Hines,
"that we ought to show we appreciate this one, especially as
he comes to pay the highest honor known to Europe to one of
The mayor chewed nervously on his cigar.
"What'd I better do?" he asked.
"Mr. Stetson here," Hines pointed out, "has lived in Turkey,
and he knows what they expect. Maybe he will help us."
"Will you?" begged the mayor.
"I will," said Stetson.
Then they visited the college authorities. Chancellor Black
and most of the faculty were on their vacations. But there
were half a dozen professors still in their homes around the
campus, and it was pointed out to them that the coming honor
to one lately of their number reflected glory upon the
college and upon them, and that they should take official
It was also suggested that for photographic purposes they
should wear their academic robes, caps, and hoods. To these
suggestions, with alacrity--partly because they all loved
Doctor Gilman and partly because they had never been
photographed by a moving-picture machine--they all agreed. So
it came about that when the ambassador, hot and cross and
dusty stepped off the way-train at Stillwater station he
found to his delighted amazement a red carpet stretching to a
perfectly new automobile, a company of the local militia
presenting arms, a committee, consisting of the mayor in a
high hat and white gloves and three professors in gowns and
colored hoods, and the Stillwater silver Cornet Band playing
what, after several repetitions, the ambassador was
graciously pleased to recognize as his national anthem.
The ambassador forgot that he was hot and cross. He forgot
that he was dusty. His face radiated satisfaction and
perspiration. Here at last were people who appreciated him
and his high office. And as the mayor helped him into the
automobile, and those students who lived in Stillwater
welcomed him with strange yells, and the moving-picture
machine aimed at him point blank, he beamed with
condescension. But inwardly he was ill at ease.
inwardly he was chastising himself for having, through his
ignorance of America, failed to appreciate the importance of
the man he had come to honor. When he remembered he had never
even heard of Doctor Gilman he blushed with confusion. And
when he recollected that he had been almost on the point of
refusing to come to Stillwater, that he had considered
leaving the presentation to his secretary, he shuddered. What
might not the Sultan have done to him! What a narrow escape!
Attracted by the band, by the sight of their fellow townsmen
in khaki, by the sight of the stout gentleman in the red fez,
by a tremendous liking and respect for Doctor Gilman, the
entire town of Stillwater gathered outside his cottage. And
inside, the old professor, trembling and bewildered and yet
strangely happy, bowed his shoulders while the ambassador
slipped over them the broad green scarf and upon his only
frock coat pinned the diamond sunburst. In woeful
embarrassment Doctor Gilman smiled and bowed and smiled, and
then, as the delighted mayor of Stillwater shouted, "Speech,"
in sudden panic he reached out his hand quickly and covertly,
and found the hand of his wife.
"Now, then, three Long ones!" yelled the cheer leader. "Now,
then, 'See the Conquering Hero!'" yelled the bandmaster.
"Attention! Present arms!" yelled the militia captain; and
the townspeople and the professors applauded and waved their
hats and handkerchiefs. And Doctor Gilman and his wife, he
frightened and confused, she happy and proud, and taking it
all as a matter of course, stood arm in arm in the frame of
honeysuckles and bowed and bowed and bowed. And the
ambassador so far unbent as to drink champagne, which
appeared mysteriously in tubs of ice from the rear of the
ivy-covered cottage, with the mayor, with the wives of the
professors, with the students, with the bandmaster. Indeed,
so often did he unbend that when the perfectly new automobile
conveyed him back to the Touraine, he was sleeping happily
and smiling in his sleep.
Peter had arrived in America at the same time as had the
insignia, but Hines and Stetson would not let him show
himself in Stillwater. They were afraid if all three
conspirators foregathered they might inadvertently drop some
clew that would lead to suspicion and discovery.
So Peter worked from New York, and his first act was
anonymously to supply his father and Chancellor Black with
All the newspaper accounts of the great celebration at
Stillwater. When Doctor black read them he choked. Never
before had Stillwater College been brought so prominently
before the public, and never before had her president been so
utterly and completely ignored. And what made it worse was
that he recognized that even had he been present he could not
have shown his face. How could he, who had, as every one
connected with the college now knew, out of spite and without
cause, dismissed an old and faithful servant, join in
chanting his praises. He only hoped his patron, Hallowell
senior, might not hear of Gilman's triumph. But Hallowell
senior heard little of anything else. At his office, at his
clubs, on the golf-links, every one he met congratulated him
on the high and peculiar distinction that had come to his pet
"You certainly have the darnedest luck in backing the right
horse," exclaimed a rival pork-packer enviously. "Now if I
pay a hundred thousand for a Velasquez it turns out to be a
bad copy worth thirty dollars, but you pay a professor three
thousand and he brings you in half a million dollars' worth
of free advertising. Why, this Doctor Gilman's doing as much
for your college as Doctor Osler did for Johns Hopkins or as
Walter Camp does for Yale."
Mr. Hallowell received these Congratulations as gracefully as
he was able, and in secret raged at Chancellor Black. Each
day his rage increased. It seemed as though there would never
be an end to Doctor Gilman. The stone he had rejected had
become the corner-stone of Stillwater. Whenever he opened a
newspaper he felt like exclaiming: "Will no one rid me of
this pestilent fellow?" For the "Rise and Fall," in an
edition deluxe limited to two hundred copies, was being
bought up by all his book-collecting millionaire friends; a
popular edition was on view in the windows of every bookshop;
It was offered as a prize to subscribers to all the
more sedate magazines, and the name and features of the
distinguished author had become famous and familiar. Not a
day passed but that some new honor, at least so the
newspapers stated, was thrust upon him. Paragraphs announced
that he was to be the next exchange professor to Berlin; that
in May he was to lecture at the Sorbonne; that in June he was
to receive a degree from Oxford.
A fresh-water college on one of the Great Lakes leaped to the
front by offering him the chair of history at that seat of
learning at a salary of five thousand dollars a year. Some of
the honors that had been thrust upon Doctor Gilman existed
only in the imagination of Peter and Stetson, but this offer
happened to be genuine.
"Doctor Gilman rejected it without consideration. He read the
letter from the trustees to his wife and shook his head.
"We could not be happy away from Stillwater," he said. " We
have only a month more in the cottage, but after that we
still can walk past it; we can look into the garden and see
the flowers she planted. We can visit the place where she
lies. But if we went away we should be lonely and miserable
for her, and she would be lonely for us."
Mr. Hallowell could not know why Doctor Gilman had refused to
leave Stillwater; but when he read that the small Eastern
college at which Doctor Gilman had graduated had offered to
make him its president, his jealousy knew no bounds.
He telegraphed to Black: "Reinstate Gilman at once; offer him
six thousand--offer him whatever he wants, but make him
promise for no consideration to leave Stillwater he is only
member faculty ever brought any credit to the college if we
lose him I'll hold you responsible."
The next morning, hat in hand, smiling ingratiatingly, the
Chancellor called upon Doctor Gilman and ate so much humble
pie that for a week he suffered acute mental indigestion. But
little did Hallowell senior care for that. He had got what he
wanted. Doctor Gilman, the distinguished, was back in the
faculty, and had made only one condition--that he might live
until he died in the ivy-covered cottage.
Two weeks later, when Peter arrived at Stillwater to take the
history examination, which, should he pass it, would give him
his degree, he found on every side evidences of the
"worldwide fame" he himself had created. The newsstand at the
depot, the book-stores, the drugstores, the picture-shops,
all spoke of Doctor Gilman; and postcards showing the ivycovered
cottage, photographs and enlargements of Doctor
Gilman, advertisements of the different. editions of "the"
history proclaimed his fame. Peter, fascinated by the success
of his own handiwork, approached the ivy-covered cottage in a
spirit almost of awe. But Mrs. Gilman welcomed him with the
same kindly, sympathetic smile with which she always gave
courage to the unhappy ones coming up for examinations, and
Doctor Gilman's high honors in no way had spoiled his gentle
The examination was in writing, and when Peter had handed in
his papers Doctor Gilman asked him if he would prefer at once
to know the result.
"I should indeed!" Peter assured him.
"Then I regret to tell you, Hallowell," said the professor,
"that you have not passed. I cannot possibly give you a mark
higher than five." In real sympathy the sage of Stillwater
raised his eyes, but to his great astonishment he found that
Peter, so far from being cast down or taking offense, was
smiling delightedly, much as a fond parent might smile upon
the precocious act of a beloved child.
"I am afraid," said Doctor Gilman gently, "that this summer
you did not work very hard for your degree!"
Peter Laughed and picked up his hat.
"To tell you the truth, Professor," he said, "you're right I
got working for something worth while--and I forgot about the