The Air Trust
George Allan England
Part 3 out of 6
"Ideals? You mean that Socialism has ideals, and that it's not all a
matter of tearing down and dividing up, and destroying everything good
and noble and right--all the accumulated wisdom and resources of the
He laughed heartily.
"Who handed you that bunk?" he demanded.
"Father told me Socialism was all that, and more,"
"What's your father's business?"
"Why, investments, stocks, bonds, industrial development and all that
sort of thing."
"Hm!" he grunted. "I thought as much!"
"You mean that father misinformed me?"
"Well, if he did, what is Socialism?"
"Socialism," answered the young man slowly, while he fixed his eyes on
the smouldering fire, "Socialism is a political movement, a concept of
life, a philosophy, an interpretation, a prophecy, an ideal. It embraces
history, economics, science, art, religion, literature and every phase
of human activity. It explains life, points the way to better things,
gives us hope, strengthens the weary and heavy-laden, bids us look
upward and onward, and constitutes the most sublime ideal ever conceived
by the soul of man!"
"Can this be true?" the girl demanded, astonished.
"Not only can, but is! Socialism would free the world from slavery and
slaves, from war, poverty, prostitution, vice and crime; would cleanse
the sores of our rotting capitalism, would loose the gyves from the
fettered hands of mankind, would bid the imprisoned soul of man awake to
nobler and to purer things! How? The answer to that would take me weeks.
You would have to read and study many books, to learn the entire truth.
But I am telling you the substance of the ideal--a realizable ideal, and
no chimera--when I say that Socialism sums up all that is good, and
banishes all that is evil! And do you wonder that I love and serve it,
all my life?"
She peered at him in wonder.
"You serve it? How?" she demanded.
"By spreading it abroad; by speaking for it, working for it, fighting
for it! By the spoken and the printed word! By every act and through
every means whereby I can bring it nearer and nearer realization!"
"You're a dreamer, a visionary, a fanatic!" she exclaimed.
"You think so? No, I can't agree. Time will judge that matter.
Meanwhile, I travel up and down the earth, spreading Socialism."
"And what do you get out of it, personally?"
"I? What do you mean? I never thought of that question."
"I mean, money. What do you make out of it?"
He laughed heartily.
"I get a few jail-sentences, once in a while; now and then a crack over
the head with a policeman's billy, or maybe a peek down the muzzle of a
rifle. I get--"
"You mean that you're a martyr?"
"By no means! I've never even thought of being called such. This is a
privilege, this propaganda of ours. It's the greatest privilege in the
world--bringing the word of life and hope and joy to a crushed, bleeding
and despairing world!"
She thought a moment, in silence.
"You're a poet, I believe!" said she.
"No, not that. Only a worker in the ranks."
"But do you write poetry?"
"I write verses. You'd hardly call them poetry!"
"Verses? About Socialism?"
"Will you give me some?"
"What do you mean?"
"Tell me some of them."
"Of course not! I can't recite my verses! They aren't worth bothering
"That's for me to judge. Let me hear something of that kind. If you only
knew how terribly much you interest me!"
"You mean that?"
"Of course I do! Please let me hear something you've written!"
He pondered a moment, then in his well-modulated, deep-toned voice
My feet, used to pine-needles, moss and turf,
And the gray boulders at the lip o' the sea,
Where the cold brine jets up its creamy surf,
Now tread once more these city ways, unloved by me,
Hateful and hot, gross with iniquity.
And so I grieve,
Grieve when I wake, or at high blinding noon
Or when the moon
Mocks this sad Ninevah where the throngs weave
Their jostling ways by day, their paths by night;
Where darkness is not--where the streets burn bright
With hectic fevers, eloquent of death!
I gasp for breath....
Visions have I, visions! So sweet they seem
That from this welter of men and things I turn, to dream
Of the dim Wood-world, calling out to me.
Where forest-virgins I half glimpse, half see
With cool mysterious fingers beckoning!
Where vine-wreathed woodland altars sunlit burn,
Or Dryads dance their mystic rounds and sing,
Sing high, sing low, with magic cadences
That once the wild oaks of Dodona heard;
And every wood-note bids me burst asunder
The bonds that hold me from the leaf-hid bird.
I quaff thee, O Nepenthe! Ah, the wonder
Grows, that there be who buy their wealth, their ease
By damning serfs to cities, hot and blurred,
Far from thy golden quest, Hesperides!...
I see this August sun again
Sheer up high heaven wheel his angry way;
And hordes of men
Bleared with unrestful sleep rise up another day,
Their bodies racked with aftermaths of toil.
Over the city, in each gasping street,
Shudders a haze of heat,
Reverberant from pillar, span and plinth.
Once more, cribbed in this monstrous labyrinth
Sacrificed to the Minotaur of Greed
Men bear the turmoil, glare, sweat, brute inharmonies;
Denial of each simplest human need,
Loss of life's meaning as day lags on day;
And my rebellious spirit rises, flies
In dreams to the green quiet wood away,
And now, and now...I feel the forest-moss...
Come! On these moss-beds let me lie with Pan,
Twined with the ivy-vine in tendrill'd curls,
And I will hold all gold, that hampers man,
Only the ashes of base, barren dross!
On with the love-dance of the pagan girls!
The pagan girls with lips all rosy-red,
With breasts upgirt and foreheads garlanded,
With fair white foreheads nobly garlanded!
With sandalled feet that weave the magic ring!
Now...let them sing,
And I will pipe a tune that all may hear,
To bid them mind the time of my wild rhyme;
To warn profaning feet lest they draw near.
Away! Away! Beware these mystic trees!
Who dares to quest you now, Hesperides?
Great men of song, what sing ye? Woodland meadows?
Rocks, trees and rills where sunlight glints to gold?
Sing ye the hills, adown whose sides blue shadows
Creep when the westering day is growing old?
Sing ye the brooks where in the purling shallows
The small fish dart and gleam?
Sing ye the pale green tresses of the willows
That stoop to kiss the stream?
Or sing ye burning streets, foul with the breath
Of sweatshop, tenement, where endlessly
Spawned swarms of folk serve tyrant masters twain--
Profit, and his twin-brother, grinning Death?
Where millions toil, hedged off from aught save pain?
Far from thee ever, O mine Arcady?...
His voice ceased and silence fell between the man and woman in the old
sugar-house. Gabriel sat there by the dying fire, which cast its ruddy
light over his strongly virile face, and gazed into the coals. The girl,
lying on the rude bed, her face eager, her slim strong hands tightly
clasped, had almost forgotten to breathe.
At last she spoke.
"That--that is wonderful!" she cried, a tremor of enthusiasm in her
He shook his head.
"No compliments, please," said he.
"I'm not complimenting you! I think it _is_ wonderful. You're a true
"I wish I were--so I might use it all for Socialism!"
"You could make a fortune, if you'd work for some paper or
magazine--some regular one, I mean, not Socialist."
He shook his head.
"Dead sea fruit," he answered. "Fairy gold, fading in the clutch,
worthless through and through. No, if my work has any merit, it's all
for Socialism, now and ever!"
Silence again. Neither now found a word to say, but their eyes met and
read each other; and a kind of solemn hush seemed to lie over their
Then, as they sat there, looking each at each--for now the girl had
raised herself on the crude bed and was supporting herself with one
hand--a sudden sound of a motor, on the road, awakened them from their
Came the raucous wail of a siren. Then the engine-exhaust ceased; and a
voice, raised in some annoyance, hailed loudly through the maple-grove:
"Hello! Hello? What's wrong here?"
Gabriel stepped to the sugar-house door:
"Here! Come here!" he shouted in a ringing voice that echoed wildly from
between his hollowed palms.
As the motorist still sat there, uncomprehending, Gabriel made his way
toward the road.
"Accident here," said he. "Girl in here, injured. Can you take her to
the nearest town, at once? She needs a doctor."
Instantly the man was out of his car, and hastening toward Gabriel.
"Eh? What?" he asked. "Anything serious?"
In a few words, Gabriel told him the outlines of the tale.
"The quicker you get the girl to a town, and let her have a doctor and
communication with her family, the better," he concluded.
"Right! I'll do all in my power," said the other, a rather stout,
well-to-do, vulgar-looking man.
"Good! This way, then!"
The man followed Gabriel to the sugar-house. They found the girl already
on her feet, standing there a bit unsteadily, but with determination to
be game, in every feature.
Five minutes later she was in the new-comer's car, which had been turned
around and now was headed back toward Haverstraw. The shawl and robe
serving her as wraps, she was made comfortable in the tonneau.
"Think you can stand it, all right?" asked Gabriel, as he took in his
the hand she extended. "In half an hour, you'll be under a doctor's
care, and your father will be on his way toward you."
She nodded, and for a second tightened the grasp of her hand.
"I--I'm not even going to know who you are?" she asked, a strange tone
in her voice.
"No," he answered. "And now, good luck, and good-bye!"
"Good-bye," she echoed, her voice almost inaudible. "I--I won't forget
He made no answer, but only smiled in a peculiar way.
Then, as the car rolled slowly forward, their hands separated.
Gabriel, bareheaded and with level gaze, stood there in the middle of
the great highway, looking after her. A minute, under the darkening
arches of the forest road, he saw her, still. Then the car swung round
a bend, and vanished.
Had she waved her hand at him? He could not tell. Motionless he stood, a
while, then cleared away the barrier of branches that obstructed the
road, took up his knapsack, and with slow steps returned to the
Almost on the threshold, a white something caught his eye. He picked it
up. Her handkerchief! A moment he held the dainty, filmy thing in his
rough hand. A vague perfume reached his nostrils, disquieting and
"More than eighteen dollars an ounce, perhaps!" he exclaimed, with
sudden bitterness; but still he did not throw the handkerchief away.
Instead, he looked at it more keenly. In one corner, the fading light
just showed him some initials. He studied them, a moment.
"C. J. F." he read. Then, yielding to a sudden impulse, he
folded the kerchief and put it in his pocket.
He entered the sugar-house, to make sure, before departing, that he had
left no danger of fire behind him.
Another impulse bade him sit down on a rough box, there, before the
dying embers. He gazed at the bed of leaves, a while, immersed in
thought, then filled his pipe and lighted it with a glowing brand, and
sat there--while the night came--smoking and musing, in a reverie.
The overpowering lure of the woman who had lain in his arms, as he had
borne her thither; her breath upon his face; the perfume of her, even
her blood that he had washed away--all these were working on his senses,
still. But most of all he seemed to see her eyes, there in the
ember-lit gloom, and hear her voice, and feel her lithe young body and
her breast against his breast.
For a long time he sat there, thinking, dreaming, smoking, till the last
shred of tobacco was burned out in the heel of his briar; till the last
ember had winked and died under the old sheet-iron stove.
At last, with a peculiar laugh, he rose, slung the knapsack once more on
his shoulders, settled his cap upon his head, and made ready to depart.
But still, one moment, he lingered in the doorway. Lingered and looked
back, as though in his mind's eye he would have borne the place away
with him forever.
Suddenly he stooped, picked up a leaf from the bed where she had lain,
and put that, too, in his pocket where the kerchief was.
Then, looking no more behind him, he strode off across the maple-grove,
through which, now, the first pale stars were glimmering. He reached the
road again, swung to the north, and, striking into his long marching
stride, pushed onward northward, away and away into the soft June
TIGER WALDRON "COMES BACK."
Old Isaac Flint loved but two things in all this world--power, and his
I speak advisedly in putting "power" first. Much as he idolized the
girl, much as she reminded him of the long-dead wife of his youth, he
could have survived the loss of her. The loss of power would inevitably
have crushed and broken him, stunned him, killed him. Yet, so far as
human affection could still blossom in that withered heart, shrunk by
cold scheming and the cruel piracies of many decades, he loved the girl.
And so it was that when the message came in, that evening, over the
telephone, the news that Kate had been injured in an auto-accident which
had entirely destroyed the machine and killed Herrick, he paled,
trembled, and clutched the receiver, hardly able to hold it to his ear
with his shaking hand.
"Here! You!" he cried. "She--she's not badly hurt? She's living? She's
safe? No lies, now! The truth!"
"Your daughter is very much alive, and perfectly safe," a voice
answered. "This is Doctor MacDougal, of Haverstraw, speaking. The
patient is now having a superficial scalp wound dressed by my assistant.
You can speak to her, in a few minutes, if you like."
"Now! For God's sake, let me speak _now_!" entreated the Billionaire;
but the doctor refused. Not all Flint's urging or bribing would turn him
one hair's breadth.
"No," he insisted. "In ten minutes she can talk to you. Not now. But
have no fear, sir. She is perfectly safe and--barring her wound, which
will probably heal almost without a scar--is as well as ever. A little
nervous and unstrung, of course, but that's to be expected."
"What happened, and how?" demanded Flint, in terrible agitation.
The doctor briefly gave him such facts as he knew, ending with the
statement that a passing automobilist had brought the girl to him, and
outlining the situation of the first-aid measures in the sugar-house. At
the thought that Herrick, the drunken cause of it all, was dead and
burned, Flint smiled with real satisfaction.
"Damn him! It's too good for the scum!" he muttered. Then, aloud, he
asked over the wire:
"And who was the rescuer?"
"I don't know," MacDougal answered. "Your daughter didn't tell me. But
from what I've learned, he must have been a man of rare strength and
presence of mind. It may well be that you owe your daughter's life to
his prompt work."
"I'll find him, yet. He'll be suitably rewarded," thought the
Billionaire. "No matter what my enemies have called me, I'm not
incapable of gratitude!"
Some few minutes later, having paced the library floor meanwhile, in
great excitement, he called the doctor's house again by long-distance,
and this time succeeded in having speech with his daughter. Her voice,
though a little weak, vastly reassured him. Once more he asked for the
outline of the story. She told him all the essentials, and finished by:
"Now, come and get me, won't you, father dear? I want to go home. And
the quicker you come for me, the happier I'll be."
"Bless your heart, Kate!" he exclaimed, deeply moved. "Nothing like the
old man, after all, is there? Yes, I'll start at once. I've only been
waiting here, to talk with you and _know_ you're safe. In five minutes
I'll be on my way, with the racing-car. And if I don't break a few
records between here and Haverstraw, my name's not Isaac Flint!"
After an affectionate good-bye, the old man hung up, rang for Slawson,
his private valet, and ordered the swiftest car in his garage made ready
at once, for a quick run.
Two hours later, Doctor MacDougal had pocketed the largest fee he ever
had received or ever would, again; and Kate was safe at home, in Idle
On the homeward journey, Flint learned every detail of the affair, from
start to finish; and again grimly consigned the soul of the dead
chauffeur to the nethermost pits of Hell. Yes, he realized, he must have
the body brought in and decently buried, after the coroner's verdict had
been rendered; but in his heart he knew that, save for the eye of public
opinion and the law, he would let those charred remnants lie and rot
there, by the river bank, under the twisted wreckage of the car--and
revel in the thought of that last, barbarous revenge.
Arrived at home, Flint routed specialists out of their offices, and at a
large expense satisfied himself the girl had really taken no serious
harm. Next day, and the days following, all that money and science
could do to make the gash heal without a scar, was done. Waldron called,
greatly unnerved and not at all himself; and Kate received him with
amicable interest. She had not yet informed her father of the rupture
between Waldron and herself, nor did he suspect it. As for "Tiger," he
realized the time was inopportune for any statement of conditions, and
held his peace. But once she should be well, again, he had savagely
resolved this decision of hers should not stand.
"Damn it, it can't! It mustn't!" he reflected, as on the third evening
he returned to his Fifth Avenue house. "Now that I'm really in danger of
losing her, I'm just beginning to realize what an extraordinary woman
she is! As a wife, the mistress of my establishment, a hostess, a social
leader, what a figure she would make! And too, the alliance between
Flint and myself simply must not be shattered. Kate is the only child.
The old man's billion, or more, will surely come to her, practically
every penny of it. Flint is more than sixty-three this very minute, he's
a dope-fiend, and his heart's damned weak. He's liable to drop off, any
moment. If I get Kate, and he dies, what a fortune! What a prize! Added
to my interests, it will make me master of the world!
"Then, too, this new Air Trust scheme positively demands that Flint and
I should be bound together by something closer than mere financial
association. I've simply got to be one of the family. I've got to be his
son-in-law. That's a positive necessity! God, what a fool I was at
Longmeadow, to have taken those three drinks, and have been piqued at
her beating me--to have let my tongue and temper slip--in short, to have
acted like an ass!"
Ugly and grim, he puffed at his Londres. Vast schemes of finance and of
conquest wove through his busy, plotting brain. Visions of the girl
arose, too, tempting him still more, though his chill heart was
powerless to feel the urge of any real, self-sacrificing or devoted
love. Sensual passion he knew, and ambition, and the lust of power;
nothing else. But these all opened his eyes to the vast blunder he had
committed, and nerved him to reconquest of the ground that he had lost.
"I can win her, yet," reflected he, as his car swung into the long and
brilliant night-vista of Fifth Avenue. "I know women, and I understand
the game. Flowers, letters, telephone calls, attention every day--every
hour, if need be--these are the artillery to batter down the strongest
fortresses of indifference, even of dislike. And she shall have them
all--all and more. Wally, old chap, you've never been beaten at any
game, whether in the Street or in the pursuit of woman. You'll win yet;
you're bound to win! And Kate shall yet open the door to you, toward
wealth and power and position such as never yet were seen on earth!"
Thus fortified by his own determination, he slept more calmly that
night. And, on the morrow, his campaign began.
It lasted but a week.
At the end of that time, a friendly little note from Idle Hour told him,
frankly and in the kindest manner possible, that--much as she still
liked and respected him--Catherine could not, now or ever, think of him
in any other way than as a friend.
Stunned by this body-blow, "Tiger" first swore with hideous blasphemies
that caused his valet to retreat precipitately from the famous,
nymph-frieze bedchamber; then ordered drink, then walked the floor a
while in a violent passion; and finally knit up his decision.
"By God!" he swore, shaking his fist in the direction of Englewood.
"She's balky, eh? She won't, eh? But _I_ say she _will_! And if I can't
make her, there's her father, who can. Together we can break this
stiff-necked spirit and bring her to time. Hm! Fancy anybody or anything
in this world setting up opposition to Flint and Waldron, combined! Just
fancy it, that's all!
"So then, what's to do? This: See her father and have a heart-to-heart
talk with him. It's obvious she hasn't told him, yet, the real state of
affairs. I doubt if the old idiot has even noticed the absence of my
ring from her finger. And if he has, she's been able to fool him, easily
enough. But not much longer, so help me!
"No, this very morning he shall hear from me, the whole infernal
story--he shall learn his daughter's unreasonable rebellion, the slight
she's put upon me and her opposition to his will. _Then_ we shall
see--we shall see who's master in that family, he or the girl!"
With this strong determination in his superheated mind, Waldron rang up
Flint, asked for a private talk, at eleven, in the Wall Street office,
and made ready the mustering of his arguments; his self-defense; his
appeals to Flint's every sense of interest and liking; his whole plea
for the resumption of the broken betrothal.
And Catherine, all this time of convalescence--what were her thoughts,
and whither were they straying? Not thoughts of Waldron, that is sure,
despite his notes, his telephoning, his flowers, his visits. Not to him
did they wander, as she sat in her sunny bedroom bay-window, looking
out over the great, close cropped lawn, through the oaks and elms, to
the Palisades and the sparkling Hudson beneath.
No, not to Waldron. Yet wander they did, despite her; and with
persistence they followed channels till then quite unknown to her.
What might these channels be? And whither, I ask again, did the girl's
memories and fancies, her wondering thoughts, her vague, half-formulated
You, perhaps, can answer, as well as I, if you but remember
that--Billionaire's daughter though she was, and all unversed in the
hard realities of life--she was, at heart and soul, very much a woman
During the long days, the June days, of her convalescence, Catherine
found herself involuntarily reverting, more often than she could
understand, to thoughts of the inscrutable and unknown man who had in
all probability saved her life.
"Had it not been for him," she reflected, as she sat there gazing out
over the river, "I might not be here, this minute. Caught as I was, on
the very brink of the precipice, I should almost certainly have slipped
and fallen over, in my dazed condition, when I tried to get up. If I'd
been alone, if he hadn't found me just when he did--!"
She shuddered at thought of what must almost inevitably have happened,
and covered her face with both hands. Her cheeks burned; she knew
emotion such as not once had Waldron's kiss ever been able to arouse in
her. The memory of how she, half-unconscious, had lain in that
stranger's arms, so powerful and tense; had been carried by him, as
though she had been a child; had felt his breath upon her face and the
quick, vigorous beating of his heart--all this, and more, dwelt in her
soul, nor could she banish it.
Gratitude? Yes, and more. For the first time in her two-and-twenty
years, Catherine had sensed the power, the virility of a real man--not
of the make-believe, manicured and tailored parasites of her own
class--and something elemental in her, some urge of primitive womanhood,
grappled her to that memory and, all against her will, caused her to
live and re-live those moments, time and time again, as the most strange
and vital of her life.
Yet, it was not this physical call alone, in her, that had awakened her
being. The man's eyes, and mouth and hair, true, all remained with her
as a subtly compelling lure; his strength and straight directness seemed
to conquer her and draw her to him; but beyond all this, something in
his speech, in his ideas and the strange reticence that had so puzzled
her, kept him even more constantly in her wondering thoughts.
"A workingman," she murmured to herself, in uncomprehending revery, "he
said he was a workingman--and he knew that I was very, very rich. He
knew my father would have rewarded him magnificently, given him money,
work, anything he might have asked. And yet, and yet--he would not even
tell his name. And he refused to know mine! He didn't want to know! His
pride--why, in all my life, among all the proud, rich people that I've
known, I've never found such pride as that!"
She reflected what would have happened had any man of the usual type
rescued her, even a man of wealth and position. Of course, thought she,
that man would have made himself known and would have called on her,
ostensibly to inquire after her condition, yet really to ingratiate
himself. At this reflection she shuddered again.
"Ugh!" she whispered. "He'd have tried to take liberties, any other man
would. He'd have presumed on the accident--he'd have been--oh,
everything that _that_ man was not, and could never be!"
Now her thoughts wandered to the brief talk they two had had there in
the old sugar-house. Every word of it seemed graven on her memory.
Disconnected bits of what he had told her, seemed to float before her
mental vision--: "I? Oh, I'm just an out-of-work--don't ask me who I am;
and I won't ask who _you_ are. We're of different worlds, I guess--don't
question me; I'd rather you wouldn't. Am I happy? Yes, in a way, or
shall be, when I've done what I mean to do!"
Such were some of his phrases that kept coming back to her, as she sat
there in that luxurious and beautiful room, her book lying unread in her
lap, the scent of flowers everywhere, and, merely for her taking, all
the world's treasures hers to command. Strange man, indeed, and stranger
speech, to her! Never had she been thus spoken to. His every word and
thought and point of view, commonplace enough, perhaps, seemed
peculiarly stimulating to her, and wakened eager curiosity, and would
not let her live in peace, as heretofore.
"He said he was a Socialist, too," she murmured, "whatever that may be.
But he--he didn't _look_ it! On the contrary, he looked remarkably clean
and intelligent. And the words he used were the words of an educated
man. Far better vocabulary than Waldron's, for example; and as for poor
little Van Slyke, and that set, why this man's mind seems to have
towered above them as the Palisades tower above the river!
"Happy? Rich? He said he was both--and all he had was eighteen dollars
and his two big hands! Just fancy that, will you? He might as well have
said eighteen cents; it would have been about as much! And I--what did
I tell him? I told him I, with all my money and everything, was vacant,
empty, futile! Just those words. And--God help me, I--I am!"
Suddenly, she felt her eyes were wet. What was the reason? Herself she
knew not. All she knew was that with her beautiful and queenly head
bowed on the arm of her Japanese silk morning gown, as its loose sleeves
lay along the edge of the Chippendale table, she was crying like a
Crying bitterly; and yet in a kind of new, strange joy. Crying with
tears so bitter-sweet that she, herself, could not half understand them;
could not fathom the deeper meaning that lay hidden there.
"If!" she whispered to her heart. "If only I were of his class, or he of
And Gabriel, what of him?
As he swung north and westward, day by day, on the long hike toward
Niagara, the memory of the girl went with him, and hour by hour bore him
He was not forgetting. Could he forget? Strive as he might, to thrust
her out of his heart and soul, she still indwelt there.
Not all his philosophy, nor all his realization that this woman he had
saved, this woman who had lain in his two arms and mingled her breath
with his, belonged to another and an alien class, could banish her.
And as he strode along, swinging his knotted stick at the daisies and
pondering on all that might have been and now could never be, a sudden,
passionate longing burst over him, as a long sea-roller, hurled against
a cliff, flings upward in vast tourbillions of spume.
Raising his face to the summer sky, his bare head high with emotion and
his eyes wide with the thought of strange possibilities that shook and
intoxicated him, he cried:
"Oh--would God she were an orphan and an outcast! Would God she had no
penny in this world to call her own!"
FLINT AND WALDRON PLAN.
"Tiger" Waldron's interview with old man Flint, regarding Catherine's
breaking of the engagement, was particularly electric. Promptly at the
appointed hour, Waldron appeared, shook hands with the older man, sat
down and lighted a cigar, then proceeded to business.
"Flint," said he, without any ado, "I've come here to tell you some very
unpleasant news and to ask your help. Can you stand the one, and give me
The Billionaire looked at him through his pince-nez, poised on that
vulture-beak, with some astonishment. Then he smiled nervously, showing
his gleaming tooth of gold, and answered:
"Yes, I guess so. What's wrong?"
"What's wrong? Everything! Catherine has broken our engagement!"
For a moment old Flint sat there motionless and staring. Then, moving
his head forward with a peculiar, pecking twitch that still further
enhanced his likeness to a buzzard, he stammered:
"I mean just what I say. Your daughter has severed the betrothal.
Haven't you noticed my ring was gone from her finger?"
"Gone? Bless my soul, no--that is, yes--maybe. I don't know. But--but
at any rate, I thought nothing of it. So then, you say--she's broken it
off? But, why? And when? And--and tell me, Wally, what's it all about?"
"Listen, and I _will_ tell you," Tiger answered. "And I'll give it to
you straight. I'm partly at fault. Mostly so, it may be. Let me assume
all the blame, at any rate. I'm not sparing myself and have no intention
of doing so. My conduct, I admit, was beastly. No excuses offered. All I
want to do, now, is to make the _amende honorable_, be forgiven, and
have the former status resumed."
Thus spoke Waldron. But all the time his soul lay hot within him, at
having so to humble himself before Flint; at being thus obliged to eat
crow, and fawn and feign and creep.
"If I didn't need your billion, old man," his secret thought was, as he
eyed Flint with pretended humility, "you might go to Hell, for all of
me--you and your daughter with you, damn you both!"
The Billionaire sat blinking, for a moment. Then, picking up a pencil
and idly scrawling pothooks on the big clean sheet of blotting-paper
that covered his reference-book table, beside which the men were
sitting, he asked:
"Well, what's the trouble all about? What are the facts? I must have
those, in full, before I can guarantee to do anything toward changing my
daughter's opinion. Much as I deplore her action, Wally, I don't know
whether she's right or wrong, till you tell me. Now, let's have it."
"I will," the other answered; and he was as good as his word. Realizing
the prime futility of any subterfuge, or any misstatement of
fact--which Catherine would surely discover and tell her father, and
which would react against him--Waldron began at the beginning and
narrated the entire affair, with every detail precisely accurate. Nay,
he even exaggerated the offensiveness of his conduct, at the Longmeadow
Club, and in various ways gave the Billionaire to understand that he was
a more serious offender than in truth he really was. For, after all, the
only real offense was the lack of any compatibility between the girl and
himself--the total absence of love.
Flint listened carefully and with a judicial expression. If he blamed
Waldron, he made no statement of that fact. A man himself, and one who
viewed man's weaknesses and woman's foibles with a cynic eye, he could
judge motives and weigh actions with considerable skill.
"I see, I see," he commented, when Waldron had quite done, and had
poured forth a highly false declaration of his great love for the girl
and his determination that this rupture should not be permanent. "I
understand the case, I think. It all seems an unfortunate accident--just
one of those unavoidable incidents which strike into and upset human
calculations, against all expectation.
"You're not terribly guilty, Waldron. You acted inconsiderably.
Irritatingly, perhaps, and not wholly like a gentleman--for which, blame
the rotten Scotch they _will_ persist in selling, out there at
Longmeadow. But even that's not fatal. Many men have done worse and been
forgiven. I'll have a talk with Catherine, inside a day or two, when the
psychological moment offers. And you may be sure, if a father's advice
and good offices are of any avail, this little quarrel will be all
patched up between you two. Surely will be! I can almost positively
promise you that!"
"Promise it?" asked Waldron, leaning eagerly forward, a strange light in
those close-set, greenish eyes.
Flint nodded. "Yes," he answered. "I've never yet failed to bring Kate
to reason and good common-sense, when I've set out to. This will be no
exception. My word and my counsel possess the greatest weight with her.
She'll listen and be advised, I'm sure. So have no uneasiness," he
concluded, holding out his hand to his partner. "Leave everything to me.
You'll see, it will all come right, in the end."
"Tiger" shook his hand, cordially.
"I haven't words to thank you!" he exclaimed, with as much emotion as he
could simulate from a perfectly cold heart and calculating soul.
"Don't try to," the Billionaire replied, with seeming benevolence. "All
the thanks I want, Wally, is to patch up this little difficulty and
reunite two--that is--two loving, sympathetic hearts!"
"You old hypocrite!" Waldron thought, eyeing him. "All _you_ want of me,
if anything, is to keep me as your partner, because you know you're
growing old and losing your grip, and I'm still in the game with all
four claws! Paternal philanthropist _you_ are--I don't think!"
Wally was dead right.
"I can't lose this man," the Billionaire was thinking. "Whether or no,
Kate has got to marry him. This Air Trust business demands a strong, a
quick, a perfectly unscrupulous hand. And no outsider will do. My
partner has got to be my son-in-law. Love be damned! Romantic slush can
go to Hell! Kate will marry him--she's _got_ to--or I'll know the reason
"Though, after all," he soothed his conscience, as Waldron stood up,
walked to the window and stood gazing out as he smoked, "after all,
Wally will make her as happy, I fancy, as any man. He's a fine figure in
the world, commanding, heavily propertied, energetic and successful,
also of the finest family connections. Yes, a husband any woman might
admire and be proud of. Certainly, the only son-in-law for _me_. Even if
she can't idolize and worship him, as some fool women think they must, a
man, she can respect and be respected with him. And with him she can
take the highest position in the land, without a qualm as to his
competence and manner. Beside all that, what's love? Love? Bah!"
With which philosophy, he too arose, went back into his own office, and
returned to the dictating of some very private letters to Slade, the
Cosmos Detective Agency manager, _in re_ the ferreting-out and jailing
or deporting of all Socialists and labor leaders at Niagara. This
preparatory work on the ground of the huge new Air Trust plant, he
deemed most essential. The Cosmos people, scenting a big contract, had
fostered his belief, and now, already, the work was well under way.
Subterranean methods were still sufficing; but, should these fail,
others lay in the background.
Flint smiled a grim, vulturine smile as he read over the finished
letters of instruction, a few minutes later.
"And to think," he mused, as he finished them, "that these fanatics
believe--really believe--they can make headway anywhere in this country,
now! Ten years ago, yes, they might have. But that's not today. Then,
publie opinion--stupid and futile as it was--could still be aroused.
Then, there was a really effective labor and Socialist press. And the
Limited Franchise Bill hadn't gone through. Neither had the enlarged
Military Bill, the National Censorship nor even the Grays--the National
Mounted Police. While _now_--ah, thank Heaven, it's all so different and
so easy that I call myself a fool, at times, for even giving these
matters a single thought!
"Well," he concluded, handing the letters back to his confidential
secretary, for mailing, "well, now _that's_ done, at any rate. So then,
to the S. & S. committee meeting. And tonight my little
talk with Kate. I'll soon bring her to reason, I'm sure. There's nothing
can't be accomplished by a little patience and persuasion."
The old Billionaire chose his time well, that night, for the vital
interview with his daughter, who had so far rebelled against his
authority as to break with the man most eminently acceptable to him.
After a simple but exquisite dinner in the Venetian room, he asked the
girl to play for him, which (he knew) always pleased her and put her in
a receptive mood.
"Play for you, father?" she answered. "Of course I will, anything and as
much as you like! What shall it be, tonight? Chopin, or Grieg, or--?"
"Anything that pleases you, suits me, my dear," he answered, smiling
with satisfaction at his ruse. Never had he felt more masterful. He had
allowed himself a trifle more morphia than usual that day, by reason of
the approaching interview; and now the subtle drug filled him with
well-being and seemed to enhance his self-control and power. Lighting a
cigar--rare treat for him--he offered Kate his arm; and together,
unattended by any valet or domestic, they walked along the high,
paneled hallway, hung with Gobelin tapestries, and so reached the
magnificent music-room which Kate claimed, in a way, as her own special
place at Idle Hour.
Here everything suggested harmony. The mahogany wainscotted walls were
decked with fine portraits of the world's great masters of melody.
Handsome cabinets contained costly and elaborate collections and folios
of music, a complete library of the entire world's best productions. The
girl's harp--a masterpiece by Pestalozzi of Venice--stood at one side;
on the other, a five hundred dollar Victrola, with a wonderful
repertoire of records. But the grand piano itself dominated all,
especially made for Catherine by Durand Freres, in Paris, and imported
on the Billionaire's own yacht, the "Bandit." A wondrous instrument,
this, finer even than the pipe-organ in an alcove at the far end of the
room. It summed up all that the world's masters knew of
instrument-production; and its cost, from factory to its present place
at Idle Hour, represented twenty years' wages, and more, of any of
Flint's slaves in the West Virginia mines or the Glenn Pool oil-fields
At this magnificent piano the girl now seated herself, on a bench of
polished teak, from Mindanao. And, turning to her father, who had sunk
down in his favorite easy-chair of Russia leather, she asked with a
"Well, daddy, what shall I play for you, to-night?"
He looked at her a minute, before replying. Never had she seemed to
dear, so beautiful to him. The rose-tinted light that fell softly from a
Bohemian chandelier over her head, flooded her coiled hair, her face,
her hands, with soft warm color. The slight dressing that her wound now
required was covered by a deft arrangement of her hair. She had regained
her usual tint. Nothing now told of the accident, the close call she had
had, from death, so short a time before. And old Flint smiled, as he
"What shall you play? Anything you like, my dear. You know best--only,
don't make it too classical. Your old father isn't up to that ultra
music, you know, and never will be!"
She smiled again with understanding, and turned to the keyboard. Then,
without notes, and with a delicate touch of perfectly modulated
interpretation, she began to render "Trauemerei," as though she, too, had
been dreaming of something that might have been.
Flint listened, with perfect content. The music soothed and quieted him.
Even the foreknowledge of the difficult task that lay before him, the
interview that he must have with his daughter, faded from his mind, a
little, and left him wholly calm. Eyes closed, every sense intent on the
delicious harmony, he followed the masterpiece to the end; and sighed
when the last notes had died away, and kept silence.
Then Kate, still needing no music on the rack before her, played the
"Miserere" from "Il Trovatore," a Hungarian "Czardas," Mendelssohn's
"Fruehlingslied" and the overture from "William Tell." She followed these
with the "Intermezzo" and the "Pizzicato" from "Sylvia," and then with
"Narcissus" and "Sans Souci." And at the end of this, she paused again;
for now her father had arisen and come close to her. With a hand on her
shoulder, looking down at her with stern yet kindly eyes, he said:
"'Sans Souci'? That means 'Without Care,' doesn't it, Kate?"
"Yes, Daddy. Why?" she answered.
"Oh, I was just thinking, that's all," said he. "It made me wish _I_ had
no cares, no troubles, no sorrows."
"Sorrows, father? Why should you have sorrows?" she queried, turning to
him and taking both his shriveled hands in her warm, strong ones.
"Sorrows? Why shouldn't I?" said he. "Every man of large affairs has
them. Every father has them, too." And he bent over her and kissed her,
with unusual emotion.
"Every father?" asked she. "What do you mean? Am _I_ a sorrow to you?"
"A joy in many ways," he answered. "In some, a sorrow."
"In what ways?" she asked quickly, her eyes widening.
"In this way, most of all," he told her, as he took her left hand up,
and pointed at the finger where Waldron's ring had been and now no
She looked at him a moment, hardly understanding; then bowed her head.
"Father," she whispered. "Forgive me--but I couldn't! I--I couldn't! No,
not for the world!"
Flint's drug-contracted eyes hardened as he stood there gazing down at
her. Once, twice he essayed to speak, but found no words. At last,
however, blinking nervously, he said:
"This, Kate, is what I want to talk with you about, to-night. Will you
"Hear you, best and dearest father in the world?" she cried, looking
quickly up at him again. "Of course I will! Only, I beg you,
don't--don't ask me to--"
"I will ask you nothing, Kate, my girl, save this--to consider
everything well, and to act like a reasoning, thinking creature, not
like an impetuous and romantic school-girl!"
Releasing her hands, he once more sat down in the easy-chair, crossed
his legs and peered keenly at her, to fathom if he could the inner
workings of that other brain and heart.
"Well, father," she said, "I'll admit, right away, that I've done wrong
to keep this from you, or to try to. We--I--broke the engagement, that
day of the accident, out at Longmeadow. I _meant_ to tell you, tell you
everything and explain it all, but somehow--"
"You needn't explain, my dear," said Flint, judicially. "Wally has
already done so."
"And does he blame me, father?" cried the girl, eagerly, clasping her
hands on her knees.
"No, not at all. On the contrary, he claims the fault is all his own.
And he's most contrite and repentant, Kate. Absolutely so. All he asks
in the world is to make amends and--well, resume the old relation,
whenever you are willing."
Kate shook her head.
"That's noble and big of him, father," said she, "to assume all the
blame. Really, half of it is mine. But he's acted like a true man, in
taking it. However, that can't change my decision. I want him for a
friend, in every way. But for a husband, no, no, never in this world!"
The Billionaire frowned darkly. Already a stronger opposition was
developing than he had expected; and opposition was the one thing in all
the world that he could neither tolerate nor endure.
"Listen, Kate," said he. "You don't grasp the situation at all. Waldron
is an extraordinary man in many ways. In refusing him, you seriously
injure yourself. Of course, he has never done any spectacular, heroic
thing for you, like--for instance--that young man who rescued you, and
whom I shall suitably reward as soon as I find him--"
"What!" she exclaimed, peering eagerly at her father. "What do you mean?
Find him? Reward him?"
"Eh? Why, naturally," the Billionaire replied, scowling at the
interruption. "His game of refusing his identity was, of course, just a
clever dodge on his part. He certainly must expect something out of it.
I have--er--set certain forces at work to discover him; and, as I say,
when I've done so, I will reward him liberally, and--"
"You'd better _not_!" ejaculated Kate, with animation. "He isn't the
sort of man you can take liberties with!"
"Hm? What now?" said Flint, with vexation. "What do _you_ know about
"Oh, nothing, nothing, father," the girl answered quickly. "Only, I
think you're making a mistake to try and force a reward on a man who
doesn't want it. But no matter," she added, her face tinged by a warmer
glow--which Flint was quick to see. "Forgive my interruption. Now, about
The old man peered intently at his daughter, a full minute, then with a
peculiar sinking at his heart, made shift to say:
"About Wally, yes; you simply don't understand. That's all. Listen now,
Kate, and be reasonable."
"I will, daddy. Only don't ask me to marry a man I don't and can't love,
ever, ever, so long as I live!"
"That isn't anything, my girl. Love isn't all."
"It is, to _me_! Without it, marriage is only--" She shuddered. "No,
daddy; a thousand times better for me to be an old maid, and--and all
that, than give myself to _him_!"
Flint set his teeth hard together.
"Kate," said he, his voice like wire, "now hear what I have to say! I
want you fully to understand the character and desirability of Maxim
Then in a cold, analytic voice, carefully, point by point, he analyzed
the suitor, told of his wealth and power, his connections and his
prospects, his culture, travel, political influence and world-wide
"Furthermore," he added, while Kate listened with an expression as cold
as her father's tone itself, "he is my partner. We are allied, in
business. I hope we may be, too, in family. This man is one that any
woman in the world might be proud to call her husband--proud, and glad!
Love flies away, in a few brief months or years. Wealth and power and
respect remain. And, with these, love too may come. Be strong, Kate! Be
sensible! You are no child, but a grown woman. I shall not try to force
you. All I want to do is show you your own best interest. Think this all
over. Sleep on it. Tomorrow, let us talk of it again. For your own sake,
and mine, do as you should, and let folly be averted. Renew the
engagement. Hush the breath of gossip and scandal. Conform. Play the
game! Do right--be strong!"
She only shook her head; and now he saw the glister of tear-drops in
those beautiful gray eyes.
"Father," cried she, standing up and holding out both hands to him.
"Have mercy on me! I can't--I can't! My heart refuses and I cannot force
it. All this--what is it to me?" She swept her hand at the glowing
luxury around her. "Without love, what would such another home be to me?
Worse than a prison-cell, I swear! A living death, to one like me!
Barter and sale--cold calculation--oh, horrible prostitution, horrible,
"Poverty, with love--yes, I would choose it. Without love, I never,
never can give myself! Never, as long as I live!"
The Billionaire, too, stood up. He was shaking, now, as in a palsy,
striving to control his rage. His fingers twitched spasmodically, and
his eyes burned like firecoals behind those gleaming lenses.
Then, as he peered at her, he suddenly went even paler than before.
Through his heart a stab of understanding had all at once gone home. The
veils were lifted, and he knew the truth.
Her manner in speaking of that unknown, wandering rescuer; the blush
that had burned from breast to brow, when he had mentioned the fellow;
her aversion for Waldron and her reticence in talking of the
accident--all this, and more, now surged on Flint's comprehension,
flooding his mind with light--with light and with terrible anger.
And, losing all control, he took a step or two, and raised his shaking
hand. His big-knuckled finger, shaken in denunciation, was raised almost
in her face. Choking, stammering, he cried:
"Ah! Now I know! Now, now I understand you!"
Terrified, she retreated toward the door of the music-room.
"Father, father! What makes you look so?" she gasped. "Oh, you have
never looked or spoken to me this way! What--what can it be?"
"What can it be?" he mouthed at her. "You ask me, you hypocrite, when
you well know?"
Suddenly she faced him, stiffening into pride and hard rebellion.
"No more of that, father!" she exclaimed, her eyes blazing. "I am your
daughter, but you can't talk to me thus. You must not!"
"Who--who are _you_ to say 'must not?'" he gibed, now wholly beside
himself. "You--you, who love a vagabond, a tramp, scum and off-scouring
of the gutter?"
A strange, half-choking sound was his only answer. Then, with no word,
she turned away from him, biting her lip lest she answer and betray
"Go!" he commanded, bloodless and quivering. "Go to your room. No more
of this! We shall see, soon, who's master of this house!"
She was already gone.
Old Flint stood there a moment, listening to her retreating footfalls on
the parquetry of the vast hall. Then, as these died he turned and
groped his way, as though blind, back to his chair, and fell in it, and
covered his eyes with both his shaking hands.
For a long time he sat there, anguished and crucified amid all that
unmeaning luxury and splendor.
At last he rose and with uncertain steps sought his own suite,
Billionaire and world-master though he was, that night he knew his heart
lay dead within him. He realized that all the fruits of life were Dead
Sea fruits, withered to dust and ashes on his pale and quivering lips.
THE BILLIONAIRE'S PLOT.
He was aroused from this bitter revery by a rapping at the door.
Opening, he admitted Slawson, his valet. The servile one handed him a
letter with a special-delivery stamp on it.
"Excuse me for intruding, sir," said Slawson, meekly smiling, "but I
knew this was urgent."
"All right. Get out!" growled Flint. When the man was gone, he fortified
himself with a couple of morphine tablets, and ripped the long envelope.
It was from Slade, he knew, of the Cosmos Agency.
With a rapid eye he glanced it over. Then uttering a sudden oath, he
studied it carefully, under the electric bulb beside his dressing-table.
"Gods and devils!" he ejaculated. "What next?"
The letter read:
142A Park Row, New York City, June 28, 1921.
Isaac L. Flint, Esq.,
Idle Hour, Englewood, N. J.
Reporting in the matter of the young man who rescued your
daughter, in the recent accident, let me say I have discovered his
identity and some important facts concerning him. I take the
liberty of thinking that your intention of rewarding him, when
found, will be somewhat modified by this information.
This man's name is Gabriel Armstrong, age 24. Occupation, expert
electrical and chemical worker. A Socialist and labor agitator, of
the most dangerous type, because intellectual and well-read. A man
of considerable power and influence in Socialist and labor
circles. Has been something of a wanderer. Is well known to union
men and Socialists, all over the country. A powerful speaker, and
He was last employed at your testing-works on Staten Island.
Discharged by your Mr. Herzog, about two weeks ago for having, I
understand, been in possession of a certain red-covered note-book,
which Mr. Herzog found in his pocket. This book is the same which
you commissioned me to find, but which Mr. Herzog returned to you
before I undertook the search for it. The inference is that this
Armstrong is in possession of some private information about your
work, which may make him even more dangerous. Herzog informs me
that you and Mr. Waldron have had Armstrong blacklisted. But this
seems of no importance to the man, as he is clever and can live
anywhere, by casual labor and by working with the Socialists.
Armstrong is now at Syracuse. He has been tramping the roads. Have
had two of my operators enter his room at the Excelsior Lodging
House and search, his effects, while he was taking a bath. Can find
nothing to give me any legal means of proceeding against him. He
has some ready money, so a vagrancy-charge will not hold. If you
wish me to resort to extreme measures to "get" him, kindly give me
carte blanche, and guarantee me protection in case of trouble. The
job can be done, but it may be risky, in view of his influence and
backing among the Socialists and labor people. Before proceeding
further I want to know how far you will support me.
Am having him shadowed. He cannot get away. As yet he suspects
nothing. On receipt of your next, will take measures to put him
away for a few months. I know that, once he lands behind bars, his
finish can be easily arranged.
Trusting this information will prove satisfactory to you, and
awaiting your further instructions, I am,
Very truly yours,
THE COSMOS AGENCY,
Dillon F. Slade, Mgr.
Old Flint read this extraordinary communication twice through, then,
raising his head, growled in his shrunken throat, for all the world like
a wild beast. His gold tooth, gleaming in the light, made his rictus of
passion more venomous, more malevolent still.
"The--the Hell-hound!" he stammered, his eyes narrowed with hate and
rage. "Oh, wait! Wait till we land him! And this--_this_ is the devil,
the scum, that Kate, my daughter--"
He could not finish; but, clutching at his sparse gray hair, fell to
pacing the floor and mouthing execrations. Had he been of the sanguine
manner of body, he must inevitably have suffered an apoplexy. Only his
spare frame and bloodless type, due to the drug, saved his life, at that
first shock of rage and hate.
Grown calmer, presently, he took quick action. Seating himself at a desk
in the corner of his bed-chamber--a desk where some of his most
important private matters had been put through--he chose a sheet of
blank paper, with no monogram, and wrote:
Take immediate action. Will back you to the limit, and beyond. Ten
thousand bonus if you land him behind bars inside a week. Stop at
nothing, but get results. F.
This he folded and put in an envelope which he addressed to Slade, and
was about to seal, when another idea struck him.
"By God!" he exclaimed, smiting the desk. "It won't do to have this just
some ordinary charge. The thing has got to be disgraceful, unpardonable,
"There are two things to be considered now. One is to 'get' him, in
connection with that red book of my plans--to head him off from making
any possible trouble in the development of the Air Trust.
"The other is--Kate! Nothing catches a woman, like martyrdom. If
anything happens to this cur, and she suspects that I've done it, out of
spite, all Hell can't hold her. I know her well enough for _that_. No,
this fellow has got to be put away on some charge that will absolutely
and utterly ruin him, in her eyes, for good and all--that will blast and
wreck him, forever, with her. Something that, when I tell her, will fill
her with loathing and horror. Something that will cause a terrible and
complete revulsion of feeling in her, and bring her back to Waldron, as
to a strong refuge in time of trouble. Something that will crush and
quell her, utterly cure her of those idiotic, school-girl notions of
hers, and make her--as she should be--submissive to my will and my
He pondered a moment, an ugly, crafty smile on those old lips of his;
then, struck by sudden inspiration, laughed a dry, harsh laugh.
"The very thing!" he exulted, with the mirth of a vulture that has just
found a peculiarly revolting mass of carrion. "Fool that I was, not to
have thought of it before!"
Hastily he withdrew the letter from the envelope, opened it, and with
eager hand wrote three short sentences. He read these over, nodded
approval, and this time sealed and addressed the letter. Then he pushed
an electric button over the desk.
"Have this letter carried to this address at once," he commanded
Slawson. "Mr. Dillon Slade, 432 Highland Avenue, Rutherford, N. J.
See? Special delivery won't do. Have Sanders take it at once, in the
racer. No answer required. And after you've seen it start on its way,
come back here. I want to go to bed."
"Yes, sir. All right, sir," the valet bowed as he took the letter and
Ten minutes later, he was back again, helping old Flint undress.
Long after the Billionaire was in bed, in the big, luxurious room, with
its windows open toward the river--the room guarded all night by armed
men in the house and on the lawn outside--he lay there thinking of his
plot, chuckling to himself over its infernal cunning, and filled with
joy at the prospects now opening out ahead of him.
"Two birds with one stone, this time, for sure," he pondered. "Ha!
They'll try to beat old Isaac Flint at this or any other game, will
they? Man or woman, I don't care which, they'll never get away with
it--never, so long as life and breath remain in me!"
Then, soothed by these happy thoughts, and by a somewhat increased
dosage of his drug, the Billionaire gradually and contentedly fell
asleep, to dream of victory, and vengeance, and power.
Not in weeks had he slumbered so peacefully.
But for many hours after her father was asleep, Catherine sat at her
window, in a silk kimono, and with fevered pulses and dry eyes, with
throbbing heart and leaping pulses, thought long thoughts.
Sleepless she sat there, counting the hours tolled from the church-spire
in the town, below.
Morning still found her at the window, her brain afire, her heart laid
desolate and waste by the consuming struggle which, that night, had
swept and ravaged it.
GABRIEL, GOOD SAMARITAN.
On the evening of July third, a week later, Gabriel Armstrong found
himself at Rochester, having tramped the hundred miles from Syracuse, by
easy stages. During this week, old Flint took good care not to reopen
the subject of the break with Waldron; and his daughter, too, avoided
it. They two were apparently at an impasse regarding it. But Flint
inwardly rejoiced, knowing full well the plot now under way. And though
Waldron urged him to take some further action and force the issue, Flint
bade him hold his peace, and wait, telling him all would yet be well.
Outwardly calmer, the old man was raging, within, more and ever more
bitterly, against Armstrong. On July first, Slade had reported in person
that his operators who were trailing the quarry had--in the
night--discovered in one of his pockets a maple leaf wrapped in a fine
linen handkerchief marked "C. J. F." Flint, recognizing his
daughter's initials, well-nigh burst a blood-vessel for wrath. But he
instructed Slade not to have the handkerchief abstracted from
Armstrong's possession. By no sign or hint must the victim be made aware
that he was being spied upon. When the final blow should fall, then
(reflected the Billionaire, with devilish satisfaction) all scores would
be paid in full, and more than paid.
July third, then, found Gabriel at Rochester, now seventy-five or
eighty miles from Niagara Falls, his goal, where--he had already
heard--ground was being actually broken for the huge new power plant of
which he alone, of all outsiders, understood the meaning. Gabriel
counted on spending the Fourth at Rochester where a Socialist picnic and
celebration had been arranged. Ordinarily, he would have taken part in
the work and volunteered as a speaker, but now, anxious to keep out of
sight, he counted merely on forming one of the crowd. There could be
little danger, thought he, in such a mass. Despite the recent stringent
censorship and military rule of the district by the new Mounted Police,
a huge gathering was expected. The big railway and lake-traffic strikes,
both recently lost, had produced keen resentment, and, as political and
economic power had been narrowed here, as all over the country, in these
last few months of on-sweeping capitalist domination, the Socialist
movement had been growing ever more and more swiftly.
"It will be worth seeing," thought Gabriel, as he stood outside the
lodging-house where he had taken a room for the night. The workers are
surely awakening, at last. The spirit I've been meeting, lately, is
uglier and more determined than anything I ever used to find, a year or
two ago. It seems to me, if conditions are like this all over the
country, the safety-valve is about ready to pop, and the masters had
better look out, or some of them are going to land in Hell!
"Yes, I'll stop over here, one day, and look and listen. Sorry I can't
take part, but I mustn't. My game, now, is to travel underground as it
were. I've got a bigger job in view than soap-boxing, just _now_!"
He ate a simple supper at an "Owl" lunch-cart, totally unaware that,
across the street, a couple of Cosmos men were waiting for him to come
out. And, after this, buying a Socialist paper, he strolled into Evans
Park to sit and read, a while, by the red light of the descending sun.
Here he remained till dark, smoking his briar, watching the dirty,
ragged children of the wretched wage-slaves at play; observing the
exploited men and women on the park-benches, as they sought a little
fresh air and respite from toil; and pondering the problems that still
lay before him. At times--often indeed--his thoughts wandered to the
maple-grove and the old sugar-house, far away on the Hudson. Memories of
the girl would not be banished, nor longings for her. Who she might be,
he still knew not. Unwilling to learn, he had refrained from looking up
the number he had copied from the plate of the wrecked machine. He had
even abstained from reading the papers, a few days, lest he might see
some account of the accident. A strange kind of unwillingness to know
the woman's name possessed him--a feeling that, if he positively
identified her as one of some famous clan of robbers and exploiters, he
could no longer cherish her memory or love the thought of how they two
had, for an hour, sat together and talked and been good, honest friends.
"No," he murmured to himself, "it's better this way--just to recall her
as a girl in need, a girl who let me help her, a girl I can always
remember with kind thoughts, as long as I live!"
From his pocket he took the little handkerchief, which wrapped the
leaf, once part of her bed. A faint, elusive scent still hung about
it--something of her, still it seemed. He closed his eyes, there on the
hard park bench, and let his fancies rove whither they would; and for a
time it seemed to him a wondrous peace possessed him.
"If it could only have been," he murmured, at last. "If only it could
Then suddenly urged by a realization of the hopelessness of it all, he
stood up, pocketed the souvenirs of her again, and walked away in the
dusk; away, through the park; away, at random, through squalid, ugly
streets, where the first electric-lights were just beginning to flare;
where children swarmed in the close heat, wallowing along the gutters,
dodging teams and cars, as they essayed to play, setting off a few
premature firecrackers and mocking the police--all in all, leading the
ugly, unnatural, destructive life of all children of the city
"Poor little devils!" thought Gabriel, stopping to observe a dirty group
clustered about an ice-cream cart, where cheap, adulterated,
high-colored stuff was being sold for a penny a square--aniline poison,
no doubt, and God knows what else. "Poor little kids! Not much like the
children of the masters, eh? with their lawns and playgrounds, their
beaches and flowery fields, their gardens and fine schools, their dogs,
ponies, autos and all the rest! Some difference, all right--and it takes
a thousand of _these_, yes, ten thousand, to keep one of _those_.
And--and _she_ was one of the rich and dainty children! Her beauty,
health and grace were bought at the price of ten thousand other
children's health, and joy and lives! Ah, God, what a price! What a
cruel, awful, barbarous price to pay!"
Saddened and pensive, he passed on, still thinking of the woman he could
not banish from his mind, despite his bitterness against her class.
So he walked on and on, now through better streets and now through
worse, up and down the city.
Here and there, detonations and red fire marked the impatience of some
demonstrator who could not wait till midnight to show his ardent
patriotism and his public spirit by risking life and property. The
saloons were all doing a land-office business, with the holiday
impending and the thermometer at 97. Now and then, slattern women, in
foul clothes and with huge, gelatinous breasts, could be seen rushing
the growler, at the "family entrance" of some low dive. Even little
girls bore tin pails, for the evening's "scuttle o' suds" to be consumed
on roof, or in back yard of stinking tenement, or on some fire-escape.
The city, in fine, was relaxing from its toil; and, as the workers for
the most part knew no other way, nor could afford any, they were trying
to snatch some brief moment of respite from the Hell of their slavery,
by recourse to rough ribaldry and alcohol.
Nine o'clock had just struck from the church-spires which mocked the
slums with their appeal to an impassive Heaven, when, passing a foul and
narrow alley that led down to the Genesee River, Gabriel saw a woman
sitting on a doorstep, weeping bitterly.
This woman--hardly more than a girl--was holding a little bundle in one
hand. The other covered her face. Her sobs were audible. Grief of the
most intense, he saw at once, convulsed her. Two or three by-standers,
watching with a kind of pleased curiosity, completed the scene, most
sordid in its setting, there under the flicker of a gas-light on the
"Hm! What now?" thought Gabriel, stopping to watch the little tragedy.
"More trouble, eh? It's trouble all up and down the line, for these poor
devils! Nothing but trouble for the slave-class. Well, well, let's see
what's wrong _now_!"
Gabriel turned down the alley, drew near the little group, and halted.
"What's wrong?" he asked, in the tone of authority he knew how to use;
the tone which always overbore his outward aspect, even though he might
have been clad in rags; the tone which made men yield to him, and women
look at him with trustful eyes, even as the Billionaire's daughter had
"Search _me_!" murmured one of the men, shrugging his shoulders. "_I_
can't git nothin' out o' her. She's been sittin' here, cryin', a few
minutes, that's all I know; an' she won't say nothin' to nobody.
"Any of you men know anything about it?" demanded Gabriel, looking at
A murmur of negation was his only answer. One or two others, scenting
some excitement, even though only that of a distressed woman--common
sight, indeed!--lingered near. The little group was growing.
Gabriel bent and touched the woman's shoulder.
"What's the matter?" asked he, in a gentle voice. "If you're in trouble,
let me help you."
Renewed sobs were her only answer.
"If you'll only tell me what's the matter," Gabriel went on, "I'm sure
I can do something for you."
"You--you can't!" choked the woman, without raising her head from the
corner of the ragged shawl that she was holding over her eyes. "Nobody
can't! Bill, he's gone, and Eddy's gone, and Mr. Micolo says he won't
let me in. So there ain't nothin' to do. Let me alone--oh dear, oh dear,
Fresh tears and grief. The little knot of spectators, still growing,
nodded with approval, and figuratively licked its lips, in satisfaction.
Somewhere a boy snickered.
"Come, come," said Gabriel, bending close over the grief-stricken woman,
"pull together, and let's hear what the trouble is! Who's Bill, and
who's Eddy--and what about Mr. Micolo? Come, tell me. I'm sure I can do
something to straighten things out."
No answer. Gabriel turned to the increasing crowd, again.
"Any of you people know what about it?" he asked.
Again no answer, save that one elderly man, standing on the steps beside
the woman, remarked casually:
"I guess she's got fired out of her room. That's all I know."
Gabriel took her by the arm, and drew her up.
"Come, now!" said he, a sterner note in his voice. "This won't do! You
mustn't sit here, and draw a crowd. First thing you know an officer will
be along, and you may get into trouble. Tell me what's wrong, and I
promise to see you through it, as far as I can."
She raised her face, now, and looked at him, a moment. Tear-stained and
dishevelled though she was, and soiled by marks of drink and
debauchery, Gabriel saw she must once have been very beautiful and still
"Well," he asked. "Aren't you going to tell me?"
"Tell you?" she repeated. "I--oh, I can't! Not in front of all them
"Very well!" said he, "walk with me, and give me your story. Will you do
that? At all events, you mustn't stay here, making a disturbance on the
highway. If you knew the police as well as I do, you'd understand that!"
"You're right, friend," said she, hoarsely. "I'm on, now. Come along
then--I'll tell you. It ain't much to tell; but it's a lot to me!"
She glanced at the curious faces of the watchers, then turned and
followed Gabriel, who was already walking up the alley, toward the
brighter lights of Stuart Street. For a moment, one or two of the men
hesitated as though undecided whether or not to follow after; but one
backward look by Gabriel instantly dispelled any desire to intrude. And
as Gabriel and the woman turned into the street, the little knot of
curiosity-seekers dissolved into its component atoms, and vanished.
THE TRAP IS SPRUNG.
"It--it's all along o' that there Mr. Micolo!" the woman suddenly
exclaimed, "Him an' his rent-bill! If he'd ha' let me in, there,
tonight, I could ha' got Ed's things an' then started to my sister's,
out to Scottsville. But he wouldn't. He claimed they was
two-seventy-five still owin', and I didn't have but about fifty cents,
so I couldn't pay it. So he wouldn't let me in. Natchally, anybody'd
feel bad, like that, 'specially when a man told 'em he'd hold their
kid's clothes an' things till they paid--which they couldn't!"
"Naturally, of course," answered Gabriel, rather dazed by this sudden
burst of details, with which she seemed to think he should already be
quite familiar--details all sordid and commonplace, through which he
seemed to perceive, dimly as in a dark glass, some mean and ugly tragedy
of poverty and ignorance and sin.
"Are you hungry?" he asked, all at once. "If so, come in here, where we
can talk quietly and get things straight." He pointed at a cheap
restaurant, across the street.
"Hungry? Gord, yes!" she exclaimed. Only I--I wouldn't ask, if I fell on
the sidewalk! Fifty cents--yes, I got that much, but I been tryin' to
get enough to pay Mr. Micolo, an' get hold of Ed's things, an'--"
"All right, forget that, now," commanded Gabriel. He took her by the
arm and piloted her across the thoroughfare, then into the dingy
hash-house and to a table in a far corner. A few minutes later, pretty
much everything on the bill of fare was before them on the greasy table.
"Not a word till you're satisfied," directed Armstrong. "I'll just take
a little bread and coffee, to keep you company."
The woman adequately proved her statement that she was hungry. Rarely
had Gabriel seen anybody eat with such ravenous appetite. He watched her
with satisfaction, and when she could consume no more, smiled as he
"Now, then, feel better? If so, let's tackle the next problem. What's
The woman stared at him a long moment before she made reply. Then she
"You ain't no kind of 'bull,' are you? Nor plain-clothes man?"
Gabriel shook his head.
"No," said he, "nothing of that kind. You can trust me. Let's have the
"Hm! It ain't much, I s'pose," she answered still half-suspiciously.
"Bill and me was livin' together, that's all. No, not married, nor
"All right. Go on."
"That was last winter. When the kid happened--Ed, you know--Bill, he got
sore, an' beat it. Then I--I went on the street, to keep Ed. Nothin'
else to do, Mister, so help me, an'--"
"Never mind, I understand," said Gabriel. "What next?"
"And after that, I gets sick. _You_ know. Almost right away. So I has
to go to St. Luke's hospital. I leaves Ed with Mrs. McCane, at the same
house. That place in the alley, you know. Well, when I gets out, the
boy's dead. _An_' they never even tells me, till I goes back! An' I
can't even get his things. Because why? Mrs. McCane's gone, Gord knows
where, an' Mr. Micolo says I still owe two-seventy-five. I want to get
down there to Scottsville, to my sister's; but curse _me_ if I'll go
till I pay that devil an' get them clothes!"
A sudden savage light in her blurred eyes betrayed the passion of the
mother-love, through all the filth and soilure of her degradation.
Gabriel felt his heart deeply moved. He bent toward her, across the
table, touched her hand and asked:
"Will you accept five dollars, to pay this man and get you down to
"Huh?" she queried, gazing at him with vacant, uncomprehending eyes.
He repeated his query. Then, as he saw the slow tears start and roll
down her wan cheeks, he felt a greater joy within his breast than if the
world and all its treasures had been his.
"Will I take it?" she whispered. "Gord, _will_ I? You bet I will! That
is, if I can have your name, an' pay it back some time?"
He promised, and wrote it down for her, giving as his address Socialist
Headquarters in Chicago. Then, without publicity, he slipped a V into
her trembling hand.
"Come on," said he. "_That's_ all settled!"
He paid the check, and they went out, together. For a moment they stood
together, undecided, on the sidewalk.
"Couldn't I get them things to-night, an' start?" asked she, eagerly.
"There's a train at 11:08, on the B. R. & P."
"All right," he assented. "Can you see this Micolo, now? It's after
"Oh, _that_ don't make no difference," she answered. "He runs a pawnshop
over here on Dexter Street, two blocks east. He'll be open till
midnight, easy, tomorrow bein' the Fourth."
"Come on, then," said Gabriel. "I'll see you through the whole business,
and onto the train. Maybe I can help you, all along."
Without another word she started, with Gabriel at her side. They
traversed the main street, two blocks, then turned to the left down a
narrower, darker one.
"Here's Micolo's," said she, pausing at a doorway. Gabriel nodded. "All
right," he answered. He had not noted, nor did he dream, that, at the
corner behind them, two slinking, sneaking figures were now watching his
The woman turned the knob, and entered. Gabriel followed.
"It's on the second floor," said she. Gabriel saw a sign, on the
landing: "S. L. Micolo, Pawn Broker," and motioned her to precede
In a minute they had reached the upper hallway. The woman opened another
door. The room, inside, was dark.
"This way," said she. "He's in the inside office, I guess. The light
must ha' gone out here, some way or other."
Gabriel hesitated. Some inkling, some vague intuition all at once had
come upon him, that all was not well. At his elbow some invisible force
seemed plucking. "Come away! Come back, before it is too late!" some
ghostly voice seemed calling in his ear.
But still, he did not fully understand. Still he remained there, his
mind obsessed by the plausibility of the woman's story and by the pity
he so keenly felt.
And now he heard her voice again:
"Mr. Micolo! Oh, Mr. Micolo! Where are you?"
Striking a match, he advanced into the room.
"Any gas here?" he asked, peering about for a burner.
Suddenly he started with violent emotion. Behind him, in some
unaccountable way, the door had been closed. He heard a key turn,
"What--what's this?" he exclaimed. He heard the woman moving about,
somewhere in the gloom. "See here!" he cried. "What kind of a--?"
The match burned brightly, all at once. He peered about him, wide-eyed.
"This is no office!" shouted he. "Here, you! What's the meaning of this?
This is a bed-room!"
Sudden realization of the trap stunned and sickened him.
"God! They've got me! Flint and Waldron--they've landed me, at last!" he
choked. "But--but not till I've broken a few heads, by God!"
The match fell from his burnt fingers. Whirling toward the door, he
rained powerful kicks upon it. He would get out, he must get out, at all
Suddenly the woman began to scream, with harsh and piercing cries that
seemed to rip the very atmosphere.
[Illustration: Aiming at the base of the skull she struck.]
At the third scream, or the fourth, the key was turned and the door
In its aperture, three men stood--the two who had been so long trailing
Gabriel, and a policeman, burly, red-jowled, big-paunched.
Gabriel stared at them. His mouth opened, then closed again without a
word. As well for a trapped animal to make explanations to the Indian
hunter, as for him to tell these men the truth. The truth? _They_ knew
the truth; and they were there to crucify him. He read it in their
cruel, eager eyes.
The woman had stopped screaming now, and was weeping with abandon,
pouring forth a tale of insults and abuse and robbery, with hysterical
Full in the faces of the three men Gabriel sneered.
"You've done a good job of it, this time, you skunks!" he gibed. "I'm
on. You'll get me, in the end; but not just yet. The first man through
this door gets his head broken--and that goes, too!"
With a snarl of "You damned white slaver!" the officer raised his
night-stick and hurled himself at Gabriel.
Gabriel ducked and planted a terrific left-hander on the "bull's" ear.
Roaring, the majesty of the law careened against the bed, crashed the
flimsy thing to wreckage and went down.
Then, fighting back into the gloom of the trap, Gabriel engaged the two
detectives. For a moment he held them. One went to the floor with an
uppercut under the chin; but came back. The other landed hard on
He turned to strike down, again, the first of the two. He heard the bed
creaking, and saw the policeman struggling to arise. In a whirlwind of
blows, the second detective flailed at him, striving to beat down his
guard and floor him with a vicious rib-jolt.
"All's fair, here!" thought Gabriel, snatching up a chair. For a moment
he brandished it on high. With this weapon, he knew--though final defeat
was inevitable, when reinforcements should arrive--he could sweep a
Perhaps he might even yet escape! He heard feet trampling on the stairs,
and his heart died within him. Well, even though escape were impossible,
he would fight to a finish and die game, if die he must!
Down swung the chair, and round, crashing to ruin as it struck the
policeman who was just getting to his feet again. Oaths, cries, screams
made the place hideous. Dust rose, and blood began to flow.
Armed now with one leg of the chair, Gabriel retreated; and as he went,
he hurled the bitterness of all his scorn and hate upon these vile
And as he flayed them with his tongue, he struck; and like Samson
against the Philistines, he did great execution.
Like Samson, too, he lost his power through a woman's treachery. For,
even as the attackers seemed to fall back, shattered and at a loss
before such fury and tremendous strength, behind Gabriel the woman rose,
a laugh of malice on her lips, the policeman's long and heavy
night-stick in her hand.
A moment she poised it, crouching as he--seeing her not--swung his
weapon and hurled his defiance at the baffled men in front.
Then, aiming at the base of the skull, she struck.
Sudden bright lights spangled the darkness, for Gabriel. Everything
whirled about, in dizzying confusion. A strange, far roaring sounded in
Then he fell; and oblivion took him to its blessed peace and rest; and
all grew still and black.
THE BEAST GLOATS.
"Fer Gawd's sake, let's have a light here, somebody!" panted the
dishevelled policeman. Outside, the ringing of a gong became audible.
Then came a clattering of hoofs, as the police-patrol, nicely-timed by
the conspirators, and summoned by a confederate, drew up at the box on
Somebody struck another match, and a raw gas-light flared. From the
hallway, two or three others crowded into the wrecked room. Disjointed
exclamations, oaths and curses intermingled with harsh laughter.
The woman--Lillian Rafter, probably the finest actress and stool-pigeon
in the whole detective world of graft and crookedness--lighted a
cigarette at the gas-burner, and laughed with triumph.
"Some make-up, eh kid?" she demanded of the taller detective, who was
now nursing a bad "shiner," as a black eye is known in the under-world,
and whose face was battered to a bleeding pulp. "Believe me, as a job,
this is some job! From start to finish, a pippin. He was bound to fall
for it though. No help for him. Even if he hadn't butted into the
'plant' we fixed for him in the alley, there, I could have braced him in
the street with my tale of woe. He was just bound to be 'it,' this time.
We had him going, all ways for Sunday!"
Scornfully the woman Gabriel had befriended in her seeming misery, spat
at him as he lay there stunned and scarcely breathing on the dirty
"And just pipe this, will you, too?" she exulted, holding up the
five-dollar bill he had given her. "And this?" She exhibited his name
and address, written on a card. "In his own writing, boys. As evidence
to hold him on a white slave charge, is this some evidence or isn't it?"
"Oh, we'll hold him, all right!" growled the other detective, whose
right arm dangled limp, where the chair had struck him. "The ---- ----
of a ----! He'll go up for a finif, a five-spot, or I'm a liar! And once
we get him behind bars, good-night!"
He deliberately drew back his heavy boot and kicked Gabriel full in the
"You ---- ----!" he cursed. "Try to bean _me_, will you? Damn you!
You've made _your_ last soap-box spiel!"
"Come on, now, boys, out with him, an' no more rag-chewin'!" the
policeman exclaimed. "Git him in the wagon, an' away, before a gang
piles in here! You, Caffery, take his feet. I'll manage his head. Jesus,
but he's some big guy, though, the ---- ---- of a ----!"
Together, the battered policeman and the detective who still had some
strength left in him, raised Gabriel's limp body and carried it from the
room. The woman, meanwhile, stood there inhaling cigarette-smoke and
laughing viciously to herself.
"You easy mutt!" she exclaimed. "Dead baby, room-rent due, wanted to get
home to sister--and you fell for that old gag with whiskers on it!
You're some wise guy all right, all right, I don't think. Well, as a
stall it was a beaut. And I must say I never screamed better in all my
life. And that wallop I handed out, was a peach. If I don't pull down
five hundred for this night's work--"
"Shut up, you ----!" snarled Caffery, as he turned into the stairway.
"Keep that lip o' yours quiet, will you, or--"
The woman stared at him a moment, then laughed insolently and snapped
her smoke-yellowed fingers at him in defiance.
"Mind you show up in court, in the mornin'!" panted the officer,
staggering downstairs under the weight of Gabriel's huge shoulders.
"Better arrest her now," suggested Caffery, "an' hold her."
"You will, like Hell!" retorted the woman.
"Shhh! In one door an' out the other," the second detective whispered in
her ear, as she stood there in the doorway. "I'll see to it you get
fifty extra for _that_!"
"Oh, if that's the game, fine business!" she smiled. "Go to it--I'm your
Thus it befell that, while a large and growing crowd observed, under the
arc-light on the corner--a crowd where no fewer than six reporters, all
duly tipped off in advance, were taking notes--Gabriel Armstrong, the
Socialist speaker and leader, was bundled, unconscious, into a patrol
wagon of the City of Rochester; and with him, a drunken-acting harlot,
babbling charges of white-slave extortion and violence against him; and
with them both, several witnesses, who would have sworn that Heaven was
Hell, for five dollars cash in hand.
Thus was the stage set, for the next session of the honorable court.
Thus were the wires pulled. Thus, the prison doors were swung wide open,
and, above all, the honor and the reputation of a man swept to the
garbage-heaps of life.
True, at the morrow's great mass-meeting, there were destined to be
protests and calls for investigation. The Socialist press was destined
to take it up, defend him and demand the truth. But, swamped by a
perfectly overwhelming capitalist press, not only naturally hostile but
in this case already heavily subsidized; shattered by the close-knit,
circumstantial evidence; hamstrung and hampered in every way by the
power of unlimited money and Tammany pull, the Socialists might as well
have tried to sweep back the sea with a broom as save this man from
legal crucifixion. Worse still, they themselves, and the beaten strikers
with whom they had been fraternizing, got a black eye in the affair; and
many an editorial column, many a pulpit, unctuously discoursed thereon.
Many an anti-Socialist thug and grafter, loud-mouthed and blatant,
bellowed revamped platitudes of "immorality" and "breaking up the home,"
and the "nation of fatherless children," pointing at Gabriel Armstrong
as a shining example of Socialist hypocrisy and filth.
Press, law, church, capitalism itself nailed this man and the movement
he stood for, to the cross. And the pimps and parasites of the private
detective agency chuckled in their well-paid glee. The woman, Gabriel's
betrayer, counted her "thirty pieces of silver" and laughed in the foul
dark. The police cut a fine melon secretly handed them by Flint; and so,
too, did the local papers and more than one local pulpit.
So, in Gabriel's grief and woe and desolation, as he sat in his grim
cell with aching head, bruised face and bleeding heart, with all his
plans now broken, with the very soul within him dead--in this grief and
anguish, I say, the foul harpy-brood of Capitalism revelled and rioted
like maggots in carrion.
None more viciously than old Flint, himself. None with more brutal joy,
more savage satisfaction. One of the culminant moments of his life, he
felt, was on the evening after the dastardly plot had been carried to
its putrid conclusion.
Opening the Rochester "News-Intelligencer" which Slade had sent him, his
glittering eyes seemed to sparkle joy as a blue-penciled column met his
Eagerly he read it all, every word, and weighed it, and re-read it, as
men do when news is dear to their souls. Already, through the New York
papers he had got the essentials of the affair. Already, by long
distance 'phone he had received the outlines of the news from Slade, as
well as a code telegram of more than 500 words, giving him additional
details. But this paper especially pleased him. The other Rochester
sheets, which Slade would send as fast as they appeared, he already was
looking forward to, with keenest pleasure.
"Ah! _This_ is what I call efficiency!" he exclaimed, settling himself
in his big chair, adjusting the pince-nez on his hawk-bill and preparing
to read the column for the third time. "The way this thing was planned
and carried out, and the manner in which Slade has managed to get it
played up in the papers, proves to me he's a general in his line, a true
Napoleon. I may safely intrust any affair of this sort to him and his
agency. No fee of his shall ever be questioned; and as for
bonuses--well, he shall have no reason to complain. An admirable man, in
every way--a wonderful organization! With men and agencies like _these_
at work in our interests, what have we, really, to be uneasy about?"
Smacking his mental lips, if I may be pardoned the phrase, he once more
slowly read the delightful, gratifying news:
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