The Foolish Virgin
Part 2 out of 6
"With you settin' beside me, my first name's
She fumbled the goggles in a vain effort to lift
her arms over her head to fasten them on. He sprang
into the seat by her side and promptly seized them.
"Let me fix 'em."
His slender, skillful fingers adjusted the band and
brushed a stray ringlet of hair back under the furs.
The thrill of his touch swept her with a sudden dizzy
sense of excitement. She blushed and drew her head
down into the collar of the shaggy coat.
He touched the wheel, and the gray monster leaped
from the curb and shot down the street. The single
impulse carried them to the crossing. He had shut off
the power as the machine gracefully swung into Fourth
Avenue. The turn made, another leap and the car swept
up the Avenue and swung through Twenty-sixth Street
into Fifth Avenue. Again the power was off as he made
the turn into Fifth Avenue at a snail's pace.
"Can't let her out yet," he whispered
apologetically. "Had to make these turns. There's no
room for her inside of town."
Mary had no time to answer. He touched the wheel,
and the car shot up the deserted Avenue. She gasped
for breath and braced her feet, her whole being
tingling with the first exhilarating consciousness that
she too was possessed of the devil of speed madness.
It was glorious! For the first time in her life, space
and distance lost their meaning. She was free as the
birds in the heavens. She was flying on the wings of
this gray, steel monster through space. The palaces on
the Avenue whirled by in dim ghost-like flashes. They
flew through Central Park into Seventy-second Street
and out into the Drive. The waters of the river, broad
and cool, flashing in the morning sun, rested her eyes
a moment and then faded in a twinkling. They had
leaped the chasm beyond Grant's Tomb, plunged into
Broadway and before she could get her bearings, swept
up the hill at One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Street,
slipped gracefully across the iron bridge and in a
jiffy were lost in a gray cloud of dust on the Boston
When the first intoxicating joy of speed had spent
itself, she found herself shuddering at the daring
turns he made, missing a curb by a hair's breadth--
grazing a trolley by half an inch. Her fears were soon
The hand on the wheel was made of steel, too.
The throbbing demon encased within the hood obeyed
his slightest whim. She glanced at the square, massive
jaw with furtive admiration.
Without turning his head he laughed.
"You like it, teacher?"
"I'm in Heaven!"
"You won't worry about church then, will you?"
They stopped at a road-house, and he put in more
gasoline, lifted the casing from the engine, touched
each vital part, examined his tires, and made sure that
his machine was at its best.
She watched him with a growing sense of his
strength of character, his poise and executive ability.
He was an awkward, stammering boy in the Library
yesterday. Today with this machine in his hand he was
the master of Time and Space.
She yielded herself completely to the delicious
sense of his protection. The extraordinary care he was
giving the machine was a plain avowal of his deep
regard for her comfort and happiness. She had been in
one or two moderately moving cars driven by careful
chauffeurs through Central Park. She had always felt
on those trips with Jane Anderson like a poor relation
from the country imposing on a rich friend.
This trip was all her own. The car and its master
were there solely for her happiness. Her slightest
whim was law for both. It was sweet, this sense of
power. She began to lift her body with a touch of
She laughed now at fears. What nonsense! No
Knight of the Age of Chivalry could treat her with more
deference. He had tried already to get her to stop for
a bite of lunch.
"Don't you want a thing to eat?" he persisted.
"Not a thing. I've just had my breakfast. It's
only nine o'clock----"
"I know, but we've come thirty miles and the air
makes you hungry. We ought to eat about six good meals
She shook her head.
"No--not yet. I'm too happy with these new wings.
I want to fly some more--come on----"
He lifted his hand in his favorite gesture of
"'Nuff said--we'll streak it back now by another
road, hump it through town and jump over the
Brooklyn Bridge. I'll show you Coney Island and then I
know you'll want a hot dog anyhow."
He crossed the country and darted into Broadway.
Before she could realize it, the last tree and field
were lost behind in a cloud of dust, and they were
again in the crowded streets of the city. The deep
growl of his horn rang its warnings for each crossing
and Mary watched the timid women scramble to the
sidewalks five and six blocks ahead.
It was delicious. She had always been the one to
scramble before. Her heart went out in a wave of
tenderness to the man by her side, strong, daring,
masterful, her chevalier, her protector and admirer.
Yes, her admirer! There was no doubt on that
point. The moment he relaxed the tension of his hand
on the wheel, his deep, mysterious eyes beneath the
drooping lids were fixed on hers in open, shameless
admiration. Their cold fire burned into her heart and
thrilled to her finger-tips.
In spite of his deference and his obedience to her
whim, she felt the iron grip of his personality on her
imagination. Whatever his education, his origin or his
environment, he was a power to be reckoned with.
No other type of man had ever appealed to her.
Her conception of a real man had always been one who
did his own thinking and commanded rather than asked
the respect of others.
She had thrown the spell of her beauty over this
headstrong, masterful man. He was wax in her hands. A
delicious sense of power filled her. She had never
known what happiness meant before. She floated through
space. The spinning lines of towering buildings on
Broadway passed as mists in a dream.
As the velvet feet of the car touched the great
bridge she lazily opened her eyes for a moment and
gazed through the lace-work of steel at the broad sweep
of the magnificent harbor. The dark blue hills of
Staten Island framed the picture.
He was right. She had never seen New York before.
Never before had its immense panorama been swept within
two hours. Never before had she realized its
dimensions. She had always felt stunned and crushed in
the effort to conceive it. Today she had wings. The
city lay at her feet, conquered. She was mistress of
Time and Space.
Again her sidelong glance swept the lines of Jim
Anthony's massive jaw. She laughed softly.
"What's the matter?" he asked.
"Nothing. I'm just happy."
She blushed and wondered if he had read her
thoughts by some subtle power of clairvoyance. She was
speculating on the effects of love at first sight on
such a man. Would he hesitate, back and fill and hang
on for months trying in vain to gain the courage to
speak? Or would he spring with the leap of a young
tiger the moment he realized what he wanted?
Her own attitude was purely one of joyous
expectancy. It would, of course, be a long time before
her feelings could take any definite attitude toward a
man. For the moment she was supremely happy. It was
enough. She made no effort to probe her feelings. She
might return to earth tomorrow. Today she was in
Heaven. She would make the most of it.
They skimmed the wooded cliffs of Bay Ridge, her
heart beating in ecstasy at the revelation of beauty of
whose existence she had not dreamed.
"I bet you never saw this drive before, now did
you?" he asked with boyish enthusiasm.
"You know when I make my pile, I'd like a palace of
white marble perched on this cliff with the windows
on the south looking out over Sandy Hook, and the
windows on the west looking over that fort on the top
of Staten Island with its black eyes gazing over the
sea. How would you like that?"
She turned away to mask the smile she couldn't
"That would be splendid, wouldn't it?"
"I like the water, don't you?"
"I love it."
"Water and hills both right together! I reckon my
father must 'a' been a sea-captain and my mother from
He said this with a pathos that found the girl's
heart. What a pitiful, lonely life, a boy's without
even the memory of a mother or father! The mother
instinct rose in a resistless flood of pity. Her eyes
grew suddenly dim.
"Well," he said briskly, "now for the dainty job!
I've got to jump my way through that Coney Island
bunch. You see my low speed's a racing pace for an
everyday car. All I can do in a crowd is to jump from
one crossing to the next and cut her power off every
time. You can bet I'll make a guy or two jump with
"You won't hurt anyone?" she pleaded.
"Lord, no! I wouldn't dare to put her
through that mob in the afternoon. I'd kill a
regiment of 'em. But it's early--just the shank of the
morning. There's nobody down here yet."
The car suddenly leaped into the Avenue that runs
through the heart of Coney Island, the deep-throated
horn screaming its warning. The crowd scattered like
sheep before a lion.
The girl laughed in spite of her effort at self-
"Watch 'em hump!" Jim grunted.
"It's funny, isn't it?"
"When you're in the car--yes. It don't seem so
funny when you're on foot. Well, some people were made
to walk and some to ride. I had to hoof it at first.
I like riding better--don't you?"
"To be perfectly honest--yes!"
The car leaped forward again, the horn screaming.
The wheel passed within a foot of a fat woman's skirt.
With a cry of terror she fled to the sidewalk and shook
her fist at Jim, her face purple with anger.
He waved his hand back at her:
"Never touched you, dearie! Never touched you!"
Mary lost all fear of accident and watched him
handle the machine with the skill of a master. She
could understand now the spirit of deviltry in a
chauffeur who knows his business. It seemed a wicked,
cruel thing from the ground--this swift plunge of a car
as if bent on murder. But now that she felt the sure,
velvet grip of the brake in a master's hand, she saw
that the danger was largely a myth.
It was fun to see people jump at the approach of an
avalanche of steel that always stopped just short of
harm. Of course, it took a steady nerve and muscle to
do the trick. The man by her side had both. He was
always smiling. Nothing rattled him.
Her trust was now implicit. She relaxed the
tension of the first two hours of doubt and fear, and
yielded to the spell of his strength. It seemed
inseparable from the throbbing will of the giant
machine. He was its incarnate spirit. She was being
swept through space now on the wings of omnipotent
power--but power always obedient to her whim.
With steady, even pulse they glided down the long,
broad Avenue to Prospect Park, swung through its
winding lanes, on through the streets of Brooklyn and
once more into the open road.
"Now for Long Beach and a good lunch!" he cried.
"I'll show you something--but you'll have to shut your
eyes to see it."
With a sudden bound, the car leaped into the air,
and shot through the sky with the hiss and shriek of a
The girl caught her breath and instinctively
gripped his arm.
"Look out, Kiddo!" he shouted. "Don't touch me--or
we'll both land in Kingdom Come. I ain't ready for a
harp just yet. I'd rather fool with this toy for a
while down here."
She braced her feet and gripped the sides of the
car, gasping for breath, steadied herself at last and
crouched low among the furs to guard her throat from
the icy daggers of the wind.
The landscape whirled in a circle of trees and sky,
while above the dark line of hills hung the boiling
cauldron of cloud-banked heavens.
"Are you game?" he called above the roar.
"Yes," she gasped. "Don't stop----"
Her soul had risen at last to the ecstasy of the
mania for speed that fired the man's spirit and nerved
his hand. It was inconceivable until experienced--this
awful joy! Her spirit sank with childish
disappointment as he slowly lowered the power.
"Got to take a sharp curve down there," he
explained. "We turn to the right for the meadows and
the Beach--how was that?"
"Wonderful," she cried, with dancing eyes. "Let
her go again if you want to--I'm game--now."
"A little rattled at first?"
"Well, we can't let her out on this road. It's too
narrow--have to take a ditch sometimes to pass. That
wouldn't do for an eighty-mile clip, you know--now
"I might risk it alone--but my first name's `Old
Man Caution' today--you get me?"
Mary nodded and turned her head away again.
"I got you the first time, sir," she answered
playfully taking his tone.
He ran the car into the garage at the Beach, sprang
out and lifted Mary to the ground with quick, firm
hand. They threw off their heavy coats and left them.
"Look out for this junk now, sonny," he cried to
the attendant, tossing him a half dollar.
"Fill her up to the chin by the time we get
Quickly they walked to the hotel and in five
minutes were seated beside a window in the dining-room,
watching the lazy roll of the sea sweep in on the sands
at low tide.
"I'm hungry as a wolf!" he whispered.
"So am I----"
"We'll eat everything in sight--start at the top
and come down."
He handed her the menu card and watched her from
the depths beneath the drooping eyelids.
Conscious of his gaze and rejoicing in its frank
admiration, she ordered the dinner with instinctive
good taste. No effort at conversation was made by
either. They were both too hungry. As Jim lighted his
cigarette when the coffee was served, he leaned back in
his chair and watched the breakers in silence.
"That's the best dinner I ever had in my life," he
"It was good. We were hungry."
"I've been hungry before, many a time. It was
something else, too." He paused and rose abruptly.
"Let's walk up the Beach."
"I'd love to," she answered, slowly rising.
BESIDE THE SEA
They strolled leisurely along the board-walk, found the
sand, walked in the firm, dry line of the high-water
mark for a mile to the east, and sat down on a clump of
sea-grass on the top of a sand dune.
"I like this!" she cried joyously.
"So do I," he answered soberly, and lapsed into
The sun was warm and genial. The wind had died,
and the waves of the rising tide were creeping up the
long, sloping stretches of the sand with a lazy,
soothing rush. A winter gull poised above their heads
and soared seaward. The smoke of an ocean liner
streaked the horizon as she swept toward the channel
off Sandy Hook.
Jim looked at the girl by his side and tried to
speak. She caught the strained expression in his
strong face and lowered her eyes.
He began to trace letters in the sand.
She knew with unerring instinct that he had made
his first desperate effort to speak his love and
failed. Would he give it up and wait for weeks and
possibly months--or would he storm the citadel in one
mad rush at the beginning?
He found his voice at last. He had recovered from
the panic of his first impulse.
"Well, how do you like my idea of a good day as far
as you've gone?" he asked lightly.
She met his gaze with perfect frankness. "The
happiest day I ever spent in my life," she confessed.
"Oh, shucks--what's the use!" he cried, with sudden
fierce resolution. "You've got me, Kiddo, you've got
me! I've been eatin' out of your hand since the minute
I laid my eyes on you in that big room. I'm all yours.
You can do anything you want with me. For God's sake,
tell me that you like me a little."
The blood slowly mounted to her cheeks in red waves
of tremulous emotion.
"I like you very much," she said in low tones.
He seized her hand and held it in a desperate grip.
"I love you, Kiddo," he went on passionately. "You
don't mind me calling you Kiddo? You're so dainty
and pretty and sweet, and that dimple keeps coming in
your cheek, it just seems like that's the word--you
"You don't know how I've been starvin' all my life
for the love of a pure girl like you. You're the first
one I ever spoke to. I was scared to death yesterday
when I saw you. But I'd 'a' spoke to you if it killed
me in my tracks. I couldn't help it. It just looked
like an angel had dropped right down out of the gold
clouds from that ceilin'. I was afraid I'd lose you in
the crowd and never see you again. It didn't seem you
were a stranger anyhow--I didn't seem strange to you,
Her lips quivered, and she was silent.
"Didn't you feel like you'd known me somewhere
before?" he pleaded.
"I just felt you did, and that's what give me
courage. Oh, Kiddo, you've got to love me a little--
I've never been loved by a human soul in all my life.
The first thing I remember was hidin' under a stoop
from a brute who beat me every night. I ran away and
slept in barrels and crawled into coal shutes till I
was big enough to earn a livin' sellin' papers. For
years I never knew what it meant to have enough to
eat. I just scratched and fought my way through the
streets like a little hungry wolf till I got in a
blacksmith's shop down on South Street and learned to
handle tools. I was quick and smart, and the old man
liked me and let me sleep in the shop. I had enough to
eat then and got strong as an ox. I went to the night
schools and learned to read and write. I don't know
anything, but I'm quick and you can teach me--you will,
"I'll try," was the low answer.
"You do like me, Kiddo? Say it again!"
She rose to her feet and looked out over the sea,
her face scarlet.
"Yes, I do," she said at last.
With a sudden resistless sweep he clasped her in
his arms and kissed her lips.
Her heart leaped in mad response to the first kiss
a lover had ever given. Her body quivered and relaxed
in his embrace. It was sweet--it was wonderful beyond
He kissed her again, and she clung to him, lifting
her eyes to his at last in a long, wondering gaze and
then pressed her own lips to his.
"Oh, my God, Kiddo, you love me! It beats the
world, don't it? Love at first sight for both of
I've heard about it, but I didn't think it would
ever happen to me like this--did you?"
She shook her head and bit her lips as the tears
slowly dimmed her eyes.
"It takes my breath," she murmured. "I can't
realize what it all means. It seems too wonderful to
"And you won't turn me down because I don't know
who my father and mother was?"
"No--my heart goes out to you in a great pity for
your lonely, wretched boyhood."
"I couldn't help that--now could I?"
"Of course not. It's wonderful that you've made
your way alone and won the fight of life."
He gripped her hands and held her at arms' length,
devouring her with his deep, slumbering eyes.
"Gee, but you're a brick, little girl! I thought
you were an angel when I first saw you. Now I know it.
Just watch me work for you! I'll show you a thing or
two. You'll marry me right away, won't you?"
He bent close, his breath on her lips.
Her eyes drooped under his passionate gaze, and the
tears slowly stole down her cheeks. Her hour of life
had struck! So suddenly, so utterly unexpectedly, it
rang a thunderbolt from the clear sky.
"You will, won't you?" he pleaded.
She smiled at him through her tears and slowly
"I can't say yes today."
"You've swept me off my feet--I--I can't think."
"I don't want you to think--I want you to marry me
"I must have a little time."
His face fell in despair.
"Say, little girl, don't turn me down--you'll kill
"I'm not turning you down," she protested tenderly.
"I only want time to see that I'm not crazy. I have to
pinch myself to see if I'm awake. It all seems a
dream"--she paused and lifted her radiant face to his--
"a beautiful dream--the most wonderful my soul has ever
seen. I must be sure it's real!"
He drew her into his arms, and her body again
relaxed in surrender as his lips touched hers.
"Isn't that the real thing?" he laughed.
She lay very still, her eyes closed, her face a
scarlet flame. She was frightened at the swift
realization of its overwhelming reality. The touch of
his hand thrilled to the last fiber and nerve of her
body. Her own trembling fingers clung to him with
desperate longing tenderness. She roused herself with
an effort and drew away.
"That's enough now. I must have a little common-
sense. Let's go----"
He clung to her hand.
"You'll let me come to see you, tomorrow night?"
"And the next night--and every night this week--
what's the difference? There's nobody to say no, is
"You'll let me?"
"Tomorrow sure. Maybe you won't want to come the
"Maybe I won't! Just wait and see!"
He seized both hands again and held her at arms'
"Don't go yet--just let me look at you a minute
more! The only girl I ever had in my life--and she's
the prettiest thing God ever made on this earth. Ain't
I the lucky boy?"
"We must go now," she cried, blushing again under
his burning eyes.
He dropped her hands suddenly and saluted military
"All right, teacher! I'm the little boy that does
exactly what he's told."
They strolled leisurely along the shining sands in
silence. Now and then his slender hand caught hers and
crushed it. The moment he touched her a living flame
flashed through her body--and through every moment of
contact her nerves throbbed and quivered as if a
musician were sweeping the strings of a harp. If this
were not love, what could it be?
Her whole being, body and soul, responded to his.
Her body moved instinctively toward his, drawn by some
hidden, resistless power. Her hands went out to meet
his; her lips leaped to his.
She must test it with time, of course. And yet she
knew by a deep inner sense that time could only fan the
flame that had been kindled into consuming fire that
must melt every barrier between them.
She had asked him nothing of himself, his business
or his future, and knew nothing except what he had told
her in the first impetuous rush of his confession of
love. No matter. The big thing today was the fact of
love and the new radiance with which it was beginning
to light the world. The effect was stunning. Their
conversation had been the simplest of commonplace
questions and answers--and yet the day was the one
miracle of her life--her happiness something
unthinkable until realized.
She had not asked time in order to know him better.
She had only asked time to see herself more clearly in
the new experience. Not for a moment did she raise the
question of the worthiness of the man she loved. It
was inconceivable that she should love a man not worthy
of her. The only questions asked were soul-searching
ones put to herself.
Through the sweet, cool drive homeward, a hundred
times she asked within:
"Is this love?"
And each time the answer came from the depths:
"Yes--yes--a thousand times yes. It's the voice of
God. I feel it and I know it."
He throttled the racer down to the lowest speed and
took the longest road home.
Again and again he slipped his left hand from the
wheel and pressed hers.
"You won't let anybody knock me behind my back, now
will you, little girl?"
She pressed his hand in answer.
"I ain't got a single friend in all God's world to
stand up for me but just you."
"You don't need anyone," she whispered.
"You'll give me a chance to get back at 'em if any
of your friends knock me, won't you?"
"Why should they dislike you?"
He shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, I ain't exactly one o' the high-flyers now
"I'm glad you're not."
"Then it's me for you, Kiddo, for this world and
The car swung suddenly to the curb and Mary lifted
her eyes with a start to find herself in front of her
Jim sprang to the ground and lifted her out.
"Keep this coat," he whispered. "We'll need it
tomorrow. What time is your school out?"
"At three o'clock."
"I can come at four?"
"You don't have to work tomorrow?"
He hesitated a moment.
"No, I'm on a vacation till after Christmas.
They're putting through my new patent."
He followed her inside the door and held her hand
in the shadows of the hall.
"All right, at four," she said.
"I'll be here."
He stooped and kissed her, turned and passed
She stood for a moment in the shadows and listened
to the throb of the car until it melted into the roar
of the city's life, her heart beating with a joy so new
it was pain.
A VAIN APPEAL
A week passed on the wings of magic.
Every day at four o'clock the car was waiting at
her door. The drab interior of the school-room had
lost its terror. No annoyance could break the spell
that reigned within. Her patience was inexhaustible,
her temper serene.
Walking with swift step down the Avenue to her home
she wondered vaguely how she could have been lonely in
all the music and the wonder of New York's marvelous
life. The windows of the stores were already crowded
with Christmas cheer, and busy thousands passed through
their doors. Each man or woman was a swift messenger
of love. Somewhere in the shadows of the city's
labyrinth a human heart would beat with quickened joy
for every step that pressed about these crowded
counters. Love had given new eyes to see, new ears to
hear and a new heart to feel the joys and sorrows of
She hadn't given her consent yet. She was
still asking her silly heart to be sure of herself.
Of her lover, the depth and tenderness, the strength
and madness of his love, there could be no doubt. Each
day he had given new tokens.
For Saturday afternoon she had told him not to
bring the car.
When they reached Fifth Avenue, across the Square,
he stopped abruptly and faced her with a curious,
"Say, tell me why you wanted to walk?"
"I had a good reason," she said evasively.
"Yes, but why? It's a sin to lay that car up a day
like this. Look here----"
He stopped and tried to gulp down his fears.
"Look here--you're not going to throw me down after
leading me to the very top of the roof, are you?"
She looked up with tender assurance.
"Then why hoof it? Let me run round to the garage
and shoot her out. You can wait for me at the Waldorf.
I've always wanted to push my buzz-wagon up to that big
joint and wait for my girl to trip down the steps."
"No. I've a plan of my own today. Let me have my
"All righto--just so you're happy."
"I am happy," she answered soberly.
At the foot of the broad stairs of the Library she
paused and looked up smilingly at its majestic front.
"Come in a moment," she said softly.
He followed her wonderingly into the vaulted hall
and climbed the grand staircase to the reading-room.
She walked slowly to the shelf on which the Century
Dictionary rested and looked laughingly at the seat in
which she sat Saturday afternoon a week ago at exactly
Jim smiled, leaned close and whispered:
"I got you, Kiddo--I got you! Get out of here
quick or I'll grab you and kiss you!"
She started and blushed.
"Don't you dare!"
"Beat it then--beat it--or I can't help it!"
She turned quickly and they passed through the
catalogue room and lightly down the stairs.
He held her soft, round arm with a grip that sent
the blood tingling to the roots of her brown hair.
"You understand now?" she whispered.
"You bet! We walk the same way up the Avenue,
through the Park to the little house on the laurel
hill. And you're goin' to be sweet to me today, my
Kiddo--I just feel it. I----"
"Don't be too sure, sir!" she interrupted,
He laughed aloud.
"You can't fool me now--and I'm crazy as a June
bug! You know I like to walk--if I can be with you!"
At the Park entrance she stopped again and smiled
"We'll find a seat in one of the summer houses
along the Fifty-ninth Street side."
"All right," he responded.
"No--we'll go on where we started!"
With a laugh, she slipped her hand through his arm.
"You were a little scared of me last Saturday about
this time, weren't you?"
"Just a little----"
"It hurt me, too, but I didn't let you know."
"It's all right now--it's all right. Gee I but
we've traveled some in a week, haven't we?"
"I've known you more than a week," she protested
"Sure--I've known you since I was born."
They walked through the stately rows of elms on the
Mall in joyous silence. Crowds of children and
nurses, lovers and loungers, filled the seats and
thronged the broad promenade.
Scarcely a word was spoken until they reached the
rustic house nestling among the trees on the hill.
"Just a week by the calendar," she murmured. "And
I've lived a lifetime."
"It's all right then--little girl? You'll marry me
right away? When--tonight?"
She drew the glove from her hand and held the
slender fingers up before him.
"You can get the ring----"
"Gee! I do have to get a ring, don't I?"
"Why didn't you tell me? You know I never got
"I should hope not!"
He seized her hand and kissed it, drew her into his
arms, held her crushed and breathless and released her
with a quick, impulsive movement.
"You'll help me get it?" he asked eagerly.
"If you like."
"A big white sparkler?"
"A plain little gold band."
"Let me get you a big diamond!"
"No--a plain gold band."
"It's all settled then?"
"We're engaged. You're my fiance."
"But for God's sake, Kiddo--how long do I have to
be a fiance?"
A ripple of laughter rang through the trees.
"Don't you think we've done pretty well for seven
"I could have settled it in seven minutes after we
met," he answered complainingly. "You won't tell me
the day yet?"
"All right, we'll just have to take blessings as
they come, then."
Through the beautiful afternoon they sat side by
side with close-pressed hands and planned the future
which love had given. A modest flat far up among the
trees on the cliffs overlooking the Hudson, they
"We'll begin with that," he cried enthusiastically,
"but we won't stay there long. I've got big plans.
I'm going to make a million. The white house down by
the sea for me, a yacht out in the front yard and a
half-dozen thundering autos in the garage. If this
deal I'm on now goes through, I'll make my pile in a
They rose as the shadows lengthened.
"I must go home and feed my pets," she sighed.
"All right," he responded heartily. "I'll get the
car and be there in a jiffy. We'll take a spin out to
a road-house for dinner."
She lifted her eyes tenderly.
"You can come right up to my room--now that we're
He swept her into his arms again, and held her in
It was dark when he swung the gray car against the
curb and sprang out. He didn't blow his horn for her
to come down. The privilege she had granted was too
sweet and wonderful. He wouldn't miss it for the
The stairs were dark. Ella was late this afternoon
getting back to her work. His light footstep scarcely
made a sound. He found each step with quick,
instinctive touch. The building seemed deserted. The
tenants were all on trips to the country and the
seashore. The day was one of rare beauty and warmth.
Someone was fumbling in the dark on the third floor
He made his way quickly to her room, and softly
knocked, waited a moment and knocked again. There was
no response. He couldn't be mistaken. He had seen her
lean out of that window every day the past week.
Perhaps she was busy in the kitchenette and the
noise from the street made it impossible to hear.
He placed his hand on the doorknob.
From the darkness of the hall, in a quick, tiger
leap, Ella threw herself on him and grappled for his
"What are you doing at that door, you dirty thief?"
"Here! Here! What'ell--what's the matter with
you?" he gasped, gripping her hands and tearing them
from his neck. "I'm no thief!"
"You are! You are, too!" she shrieked. "I heard
you sneak in the door downstairs--heard you slippin'
like a cat upstairs! Get out of here before I call a
She was savagely pushing him back to the landing of
the stairs. With a sudden lurch, Jim freed himself and
gripped her hands.
"Cut it! Cut it! Or I'll knock your block off!
I've come to take my girl to ride----"
He drew a match and quickly lighted the gas as
Mary's footstep echoed on the stairs below.
"Well, she's coming now--we'll see," was the sullen
Ella surveyed him from head to foot, her one eye
gleaming in angry suspicion.
Mary sprang up the last step and saw the two
confronting each other. She had heard the angry voices
"Why, Ella, what's the matter?" she gasped.
"He was trying to break into your room----"
Jim threw up his hands in a gesture of rage, and
Mary broke into a laugh.
"Why, nonsense, Ella, I asked him to come! This is
Mr. Anthony,"--her voice dropped,--"my fiance."
Ella's figure relaxed with a look of surprise.
"Oh, ja?" she murmured, as if dazed.
"Yes--come in," she said to Jim. "Sorry I was out.
I had to run to the grocer's for the Kitty."
Ella glared at Jim, turned and began to light the
other hall lamps without any attempt at apology.
Jim entered the room with a look of awe, took in
its impression of sweet, homelike order and recovered
quickly his composure.
"Gee, you're the dandy little housekeeper! I could
stay here forever."
"You like it?"
"It's a bird's nest " He glanced in the mirror and
saw the print of Ella's fingers on his collar. "Will
you look at that?" he growled.
"It's too bad," she said, sympathetically.
"You know I thought a she-tiger had got loose from
the Bronx and jumped on me."
"I'm awfully sorry," she apologized. "Ella's very
fond of me. She was trying to protect me. She
couldn't see who it was in the dark."
"No; I reckon not," Jim laughed.
"I've changed our plans for the evening," she
announced. "We won't go to ride tonight. I want you
to bring my best friend to dinner with us at Mouquin's.
Go after her in the car. I want to impress her----"
"I got you, Kiddo! She's goin' to look me over--
eh? All right, I'll stop at the store and get a clean
collar. I wouldn't like her to see the print of that
tiger's claw on my neck."
"There's her address the Gainsborough Studios.
Drop me at Mouquin's and I'll have the table set in one
of the small rooms upstairs. I'll meet you at the
Jim glanced at the address, put it in his pocket
and helped her draw on her heavy coat.
"You'll be nice to Jane? I want her to like you.
She's the only real friend I've ever had in New York."
"I'll do my best for you, little girl," he
He dropped her at the wooden cottage-front on Sixth
Avenue near Twenty-eighth Street, and returned in
twenty minutes with Jane.
As the tall artist led the way upstairs, Jim
"Say, for God's sake, let me out of this!"
"She's a frost. If I have to sit beside her an
hour I'll catch cold and die. I swear it; save me!
Save my life!"
"Sh! It's all right. She's fine and generous when
you know her."
They had reached the door and Mary pushed him in.
There was no help for it. He'd have to make the most
The dinner was a dismal failure.
Jane Anderson was polite and genial, but there was
a straight look of wonder in her clear gray eyes that
froze the blood in Jim's veins.
Mary tried desperately for the first half-hour to
put him at his ease. It was useless. The attack of
Ella had upset his nerves, and the unexpressed
hostility of Jane had completely crushed his spirits.
He tried to talk once, stammered and lapsed into a
sullen silence from which nothing could stir him.
The two girls at last began to discuss their own
affairs and the dinner ended in a sickening failure
that depressed and angered Mary.
The agony over at last, she rose and turned to Jim:
"You can go now, sir--I'll take Jane home with me
for a friendly chat."
"Thank God!" he whispered, grinning in spite of his
effort to keep a straight face.
"Tomorrow?" he asked in low tones.
"At eight o'clock."
Jim bowed awkwardly to Jane, muttered something
inarticulate and rushed to his car.
The two girls walked in silence through Twenty-
eighth Street to Broadway and thence across the Square.
Seated in her room, Mary could contain her pent-up
rage no longer.
"Jane Anderson, I'm furious with you! How could
you be so rude--so positively insulting!"
"Yes. You stared at him in cold disdain as if he
were a toad under your feet!"
"I assure you, dear----"
"Why did you do it?"
The artist rose, walked to the window, looked out
on the Square for a moment, extended her hand and laid
it gently on Mary's shoulder.
"You've made up your mind to marry this man,
"I certainly have," was the emphatic answer.
"And all in seven days?"
"Seven days or seven years--what does it matter?
He's my mate--we love--it's Fate."
"Perhaps love is madness--the madness that makes
life worth the candle. I've never lived before the
"And you, the dainty, cultured, pious little saint,
will marry this--this----"
"Say it! I want you to be frank----"
"This coarse, ugly, illiterate brute----"
"Jane Anderson, how dare you!" Mary sprang to her
feet, livid with rage.
"I asked if I might be frank. Shall I lie to you?
Or shall I tell you what I think?"
"Say what you please; it doesn't matter," Mary
"I only speak at all because I love you. Your
common-sense should tell you that I speak with
reluctance. But now that I have spoken, let me beg of
you for your father's sake, for your dead mother's
sake, for my sake--I'm your one disinterested friend
and you know that my love is real--for the sake of your
own soul's salvation in this world and the next--don't
marry that brute! Commit suicide if you will--jump off
the bridge--take poison, cut your throat, blow your
brains out--but, oh dear God, not this!"
"And why, may I ask?" was the cold question.
"He's in no way your equal in culture, in
character, in any of the essentials on which the
companionship of marriage must be based----"
"He's a diamond in the rough," Mary staunchly
"He's in the rough, all right! The only diamond
about him is the one in his red scarf--`Take it from
me, Kiddo! Take it from me!'"
Her last sentence was a quotation from Jim, her
imitation of his slang so perfect Mary's cheeks flamed
anew with anger.
"I'll teach him to use good English--never fear.
In a month he'll forget his slang and his red scarf."
"You mean that in a month you'll forget to use good
English and his style of dress will be yours. Oh,
honey, can't you see that such a man will only drag you
down, down to his level? Can it be possible that you--
that you really love him?"
"I adore him and I'm proud of his love!"
"Now listen! You believe in an indissoluble
marriage, don't you?"
"It's the first article of your creed--that
marriage is a holy sacrament, that no power on earth or
in hell can ever dissolve its bonds? Fools rush in
where angels fear to tread, my dear! They always
have--they always will, I suppose. This is peculiarly
true of your type of woman--the dainty, clinging girl
of religious enthusiasm. You're peculiarly susceptible
to the physical power of a brutal lover. Your soul
glories in submission to this force. The more coarse
and brutal its attraction the more abject and joyful
the surrender. Your religion can't save you because
your religion is purely emotional--it is only
another manifestation of your sex emotions."
"How can you be so sacrilegious!" the girl
interrupted with a look of horror.
"It may shock you, dear, but I'm telling you one of
the simplest truths of Nature. You'd as well know it
now as later. The moment you wake to realize that your
emotions have been deceived and bankrupted, your faith
will collapse. At least keep, your grip on common-
sense. Down in the cowardly soul of every weak woman--
perhaps of every woman--is the insane desire to be
dominated by a superior brute force. The woman of the
lower classes--the peasant of Russia, for example,
whose sex impulses are of all races the most violent--
refuses with scorn the advances of the man who will not
strike her. The man who can't beat his wife is beneath
contempt--he is no man at all----"
Mary broke into a laugh.
"Really, Jane, you cease to be serious you're a
joke. For Heaven's sake use a little common-sense
yourself. You can't be warning me that my lover is
marrying me in order to use his fists on me?"
"Perhaps not, dear,"--the artist smiled; "there
might be greater depths for one of your training and
character. I'm just telling you the plain truth
about the haste with which you're rushing into
this marriage. There's nothing divine in it. There's
no true romance of lofty sentiment. It's the simplest
and most elemental of all the brutal facts of animal
life. That it is resistless in a woman of your culture
and refinement makes it all the more pathetic----"
The girl rose with a gesture of impatience.
"It's no use, Jane dear; we speak a different
language. I don't in the least know what you're
talking about, and what's more, I'm glad I don't. I've
a vague idea that your drift is indecent. But we're
different. I realize that. I don't sit in judgment on
you. You're wasting your breath on me. I'm going into
this marriage with my eyes wide open. It's the
fulfillment of my brightest hopes and aspirations.
That I shall be happy with this man and make him
supremely happy I know by an intuition deeper and truer
than reason. I'm going to trust that intuition without
"All right, honey," the artist agreed with a smile.
"I won't say anything more, except that you're fooling
yourself about the depth of this intuitive knowledge.
Your infatuation is not based on the verdict of your
deepest and truest instincts."
"On what, then?"
"The crazy ideals of the novels you've been
"You're absolutely sure, for instance, that God
made just one man the mate of one woman, aren't you?"
"As sure as that I live."
"Where did you learn it?"
"So long ago I can't remember."
"Not in your Bible?"
"The Sunday school?"
"Craddock didn't tell you that, did he?"
"I thought not. He has too much horse-sense in
spite of his emotional gymnastics. You learned it in
the first dime-novel you read."
"I never read a dime-novel in my life," she
"I know--you paid a dollar and a quarter for it--
but it was a dime-novel. The philosophy of this school
of trash you have built into a creed of life. How can
you be so blind? How can you make so tragic a
"That's just it, Jane: I couldn't if your
impressions of his character were true. I
couldn't make a mistake about so vital a question. I
couldn't love him if he really were a coarse,
illiterate brute. What you see is only on the surface.
He hasn't had his chance yet----"
"Who is he? What does he do? Who are his people?"
"He has no people----"
"I thought not."
"I love him all the more deeply," she went on
firmly, "because of his miserable childhood. I'll do
my best to make up for the years of cruelty and hunger
and suffering through which he passed. What right have
you to sit in judgment on him without a hearing?
You've known him two hours----"
Jane shrugged her shoulders.
"Two minutes was quite enough."
"And you judge by what standard?"
"My five senses, and my sixth sense above all. One
look at his square bulldog jaw, his massive neck and
the deformity of his delicate hands and feet! I hear
the ignorant patois of the East Side underworld. I
smell the brimstone in his suppressed rage at my
dislike. There's something uncanny in the sensuous
droop of his heavy eyelids and the glitter of his
steel-blue eyes. There's something incongruous in
his whole personality. I was afraid of him the moment
I saw him."
Mary broke into hysterical laughter.
"And if my five senses and my intuitions contradict
yours? Who is to decide? If I loved him on sight----
If I looked into his eyes and saw the soul of my mate?
If their cold fires thrill me with inexpressible
passion? If I see in his massive neck and jaw the
strength of an irresistible manhood, the power to win
success and to command the world? If I see in his
slender hands and small feet lines of exquisite
beauty--am I to crush my senses and strangle my love to
please your idiotic prejudice?"
Jane threw up her hands in despair.
"Certainly not! If you're blind and deaf I can't
keep you from committing suicide. I'd lock you up in
an asylum for the insane if I had the power to save you
from the clutches of the brute."
Mary drew herself erect and faced her friend.
"Please don't repeat that word in my hearing--
there's a limit to friendship. I think you'd better
Jane rose and walked quickly to the door, her lips
"As you like--our lives will be far apart from
tonight. It's just as well."
She closed the door with a bang and reached the
head of the stairs before Mary threw her arms around
"Please, dear, forgive me--don't go in anger."
The older woman kissed her tenderly, glad of the
dim light to hide her own tears.
"There, it's all right, honey--I won't remember it.
Forgive me for my ugly words."
"I love him, Jane--I love him! It's Fate. Can't
"Yes, dear, I understand, and I'll love you
"You'll come to my wedding?"
"I'll let you know----"
Another kiss, and Jane Anderson strode down the
stairs and out into the night with a sickening,
helpless fear in her heart.
The quarrel had left Mary in a quiver of exalted rage.
How dare a friend trample her most sacred feelings!
She pitied Jane Anderson and her tribe--these modern
feminine leaders of a senseless revolution against
man--they were crazy. They had all been disappointed
in some individual and for that reason set themselves
up as the judges of mankind.
"Thank God my soul has not been poisoned!" she
exclaimed aloud with fervor. "How strange that these
women who claim such clear vision can be so stupidly
She busied herself with her little household, and
made up her mind once and for all time to be done with
such friendships. The friendship of such women was a
vain thing. They were vicious cats at heart--not like
her gentle Persian kitten whose soul was full of sleepy
sunlight. These modern insurgents were wild, half-
starved stray cats that had been hounded and
beaten until they had lapsed into their elemental brute
instincts. They were so aggravating, too, they
deserved no sympathy.
Again she thanked God that she was not one of
them--that her heart was still capable of romantic
love--a love so sudden and so overwhelming that it
could sweep life before it in one mad rush to its
She woke next morning with a dull sense of
depression. The room was damp and chilly. It was
storming. The splash of rain against the window and
the muffled roar from the street below meant that the
wind was high and the day would be a wretched one
They couldn't take their ride.
It was a double disappointment. She had meant to
have him dash down to Long Beach and place the ring on
her finger seated on that same bright sand-dune
overlooking the sea. Instead, they must stay indoors.
Jim was not at his best indoors. She loved him behind
the wheel with his hand on the pulse of that racer.
The machine seemed a part of his being. He breathed
his spirit into its steel heart, and together they
swept her on and on over billowy clouds through the
gates of Heaven.
There was no help for it. They would spend
the time together in her room planning the future.
It would be sweet--these intimate hours in her home
with the man she loved.
Should she spend a whole day alone there with him?
Was it just proper? Was it really safe? Nonsense!
The vile thoughts which Jane had uttered had poisoned
her, after all. She hated her self that she could
remember them. And yet they filled her heart with
dread in spite of every effort to laugh them off.
"How could Jane Anderson dare say such things?" she
muttered angrily. "`A coarse, illiterate brute!' It's
a lie! a lie! a lie!" She stamped her foot in rage.
"He's strong and brave and masterful--a man among men--
he's my mate and I love him!"
And yet the frankness with which her friend had
spoken had in reality disturbed her beyond measure.
Through every hour of the day her uneasiness increased.
After all she was utterly alone and her life had been
pitifully narrow. Her knowledge of men she had drawn
almost exclusively from romantic fiction.
It was just a little strange that Jim persisted in
living so completely in the present and the future. He
had told her of his pitiful childhood. He had
told her of his business. It had been definite--the
simple statement he made--and she accepted it without
question until Jane Anderson had dropped these ugly
suspicions. She hated the meddler for it.
In the light of such suspicions the simplest,
bravest man might seem a criminal. How could her
friend be blind to the magnetism of this man's powerful
personality? Bah! She was jealous of their perfect
happiness. Why are women so contemptible?
She began a careful study of every trait of her
lover's character, determined to weigh him by the
truest standards of manhood. Certainly he was no
weakling. The one abomination of her soul was the type
of the city degenerate she saw simpering along Broadway
and Fifth Avenue at times. Jim was brave to the point
of rashness. No man with an ounce of cowardice in his
being could handle a car in every crisis with such cool
daring and perfect control. He was strong. He could
lift her body as if it were a feather. His arms
crushed her with terrible force. He could earn a
living for them both. There could be no doubt about
that. His faultless clothes, the ease with which he
commanded unlimited credit among the automobile
manufacturers and dealers--every supply store on
Broadway seemed to know him--left no doubt on that
There was just a bit of mystery and reserve about
his career as an inventor. His first success that had
given him a start he had not explained. The big deal
about the new carburetor she could, of course,
understand. He had a workshop all his own. He had
told her this the first day they met. She would ask
him to take her to see it this afternoon. The storm
would prevent the trip to the Beach. She would ask
this, not because she doubted his honesty, but because
she really wished to see the place in which he worked.
It was her workshop now, as well as his.
For a moment her suspicions were sickening.
Suppose he had romanced about his workshop and his
room? Supposed he lived somewhere in the squalid slums
of the lower East Side and his people, after all, were
alive? Perhaps a drunken father and a coarse, brutal
She stopped with a frown and clenched her fists.
She would ask Jim to show her his workshop. That
would be enough. If he had told her the truth about
that she would make up to him in tender abandonment of
utter trust for every suspicion she harbored.
The car was standing in front of her door. He
waved for her to come down.
"Jump right in!" he called gayly. "I've got an
extra rubber blanket for you."
"In the storm, Jim?" she faltered.
"Surest thing you know. It's great to fly through
a storm. You can just ride on its wings. Throw on
your raincoat and come on quick! I'm going to run down
to the Beach. Who's afraid of an old storm with this
thing under us?"
Her heart gave a bound. Her longing had reached
her lover and brought him through the storm to do her
bidding. It was wonderful--this oneness of soul and
She was happy again--supremely, divinely happy.
The man by her side knew and understood. She knew and
understood. She loved this daring spirit that rose to
the wind--this iron will that brooked no interference
with his plans, even from Nature, when it crossed his
The sting of the raindrops against her cheek was
exhilarating. The car glided over the swimming roadway
like a great gray gull skimming the beach at low tide.
Her soul rose. The sun of a perfect faith and love was
shining now behind the clouds.
She nestled close to his side and watched him
tenderly from the corners of her half-closed eyes, her
whole being content in his strength. The idea of
dashing through a blinding rain to the Beach on such a
day would have been to her mind an unthinkable piece of
madness. She was proud of his daring. It would be
hers to shield from the storms of life. She loved the
rugged lines of his massive jaw in profile. How could
Jane be such a fool as to call him ugly!
The weather, of course, prevented them from walking
up the Beach to their sand-dune. The walk would have
been all right--but it was out of the question to sit
down there and give her the ring in the pouring rain.
She knew this as well as he. She knew, too, that he
had the ring in his pocket, though he had carefully
refrained from referring to it in any way.
He led her to a secluded nook behind a pillar in
the little parlor. The hotel was deserted. They had
the building almost to themselves. A log fire crackled
in the open fireplace, and he drew a settee close. The
wind had moderated and the rain was pouring down in
straight streams, rolling in soft music on the roof.
He drew the ring from his pocket.
"Well, Kiddo, I got it. The fellow said this was all
He held the tiny gold band before her shining
"Slip it on!" she whispered.
"This one, silly!"
She extended her third finger, as he pressed the
ring slowly on.
"Seems to me a mighty little one and a mighty cheap
one, but he said it was the thing."
"It's all right, dear," she whispered. "Kiss me!"
He pressed his lips to hers and held them until she
sank back and lifted her hand in warning.
"Whose afraid?" Jim muttered, glancing over his
shoulder toward the door. "Now tell me what day--
"Nonsense, man!" she cried. "Give me time to
"Just to realize that I'm engaged--to plan and
think and dream of the wonderful day."
"We're losing time----"
"We'll never live these wonderful hours over again,
Jim's face fell and his voice was pitiful in its
funereal notes: "Lord, I thought the ring settled it."
"And so it does, dear--it does-----"
"Not if that long-legged spider that took dinner
with us the other night gets in her fine work. I'll
bet that she handed me a few when you got home?"
Mary was silent.
"Now didn't she?"
"To the best of her ability--yes--but I didn't mind
her silly talk."
"Gee, but I'd love to give her a bouquet of poison
"We had an awful quarrel----"
"And you stood up for me?"
"You know I did!"
"All right, I don't give a tinker's damn what
anybody says if you stand by me! In all this world
there's just you--for me. There's never been anybody
else--and there never will be. I'm that kind."
"And I love you for it!" she cried, with rapture
pressing his hand in both of hers.
"What did she say about me, anyhow?"
"Nothing worth repeating. I've forgotten it."
Jim held her gaze.
"It's funny how you love anybody the minute you lay
eyes on 'em--or hate 'em the same way. I wanted to
choke her the minute she opened her yap to me."
"Forget it, dear," she broke in briskly. "I want
you to take me to see your workshop tomorrow--will
A flash of suspicion shot from the depths of his
"Did she tell you to ask me that?"
"Of course not! I'm just interested in everything
you do. I want to see where you work."
"It's no place for a sweet girl to go--that part of
"But I'll be with you."
"I don't want you to go down there," he sullenly
"But why, dear?"
"It's a low, dirty place. I had to locate the shop
there to get the room I needed for the rent I could
pay. It's not fit for you. I'm going to move uptown
in a little while."
"Please let me go," she pleaded.
He shook his head emphatically.
She turned away to hide the tears. The first real,
hideous fear she had ever had about him caught her
heart in spite of every effort to fight it down. His
workshop might be a myth after all. He had failed in
the first test to which she had put him. It was
horrible. All the vile suggestions of Jane Anderson
rushed now into her memory.
She struggled bravely to keep her head and not
break down. It was beyond her strength. A sob
strangled her, and she buried her face in her hands.
Jim looked at her in helpless anguish for a moment,
started to gather her in his arms and looked around the
room in terror.
He leaned over her and whispered tensely:
"For God's sake, Kiddo--don't--don't do that! I
didn't mean to hurt you--honest, I didn't. Don't cry
any more and I'll take you right down to the black
hole, and let you sleep on the floor if you want to.
Gee! I'll give you the whole place, tools, junk and
She lifted her head.
"Will you, Jim?"
"Sure I will! We start this minute if you want to
She glanced over his shoulder to see that no one
was looking, threw her arms around his neck and kissed
him again and again.
"It was the first time you ever said no, dear, and
it hurt. I'm happy again now. If you'll just let me
see you in the shop for five minutes I'll never ask you
"All right--tomorrow when you get out of school.
I'll take you down. Holy Mike, that was a dandy kiss!
Let's quarrel again--start something else."
She rose laughing and brushed the last trace of
tears from her eyes.
"Let's eat dinner now--I'm hungry."
"By George, I'd forgot all about the feed!"
By eight o'clock the storm had abated; the rain
suddenly stopped, and the moon peeped through the
He drove the big racer back at a steady, even
stride on her lowest notch of speed--half the time with
only his right hand on the wheel and his left gripping
As the lights of Manhattan flashed from the hills
beyond the Queensborough Bridge, he leaned close and
The car was waiting the next day at half-past
"It's not far," he said, nodding carelessly. "You
needn't put on the coat. Be there in a jiffy."
Down Twenty-third Street to Avenue A, down the
avenue to Eighteenth Street, and then he suddenly swung
the machine through Eighteenth into Avenue B and
stopped below a low, red brick building on the corner.
He set his brakes with a crash, leaped out and
extended his hands.
"I didn't like to take you up these stairs at the
back of that saloon, little girl, but you would come.
Now don't blame me----"
She pressed his arm tenderly.
"Of course I won't blame you. I'm proud and happy
to share your life and help you. I'm surprised to see
everything so quiet down here. I thought all the East
Side was packed with crowded tenements."
"No," he answered, in a matter-of-fact way. "About
the only excitement we have in this quarter is an
occasional gas explosion in the plant over there, and
the noise of the second-hand material men unloading
iron. The tenements haven't been built here yet."
He led her quickly past the back door of the saloon
and up two narrow flights of stairs to the top of the
building, drew from his pocket the key to a heavy
padlock and slipped the crooked bolt from the double
staples. He unlocked the door with a second key and
pushed his way in.
"All righto," he cried.
The straight, narrow hall inside was dark. He
fumbled in his pocket and lit the gas.
"The workshop first, or my sleeping den?"
"The workshop first!" she whispered excitedly.
She had made the reality of this shop the supreme
test of Jim's word and character. She was in a fever
of expectant uncertainty as to its equipment and
He unlocked the door leading to the front.
"That's my den--we'll come back here."
He passed quickly to the further end of the hall
and again used two keys to open the door, and held it
back for her to enter.
"I'm sorry it's so dirty--if you get your pretty
dress all ruined--it's not my fault, you know."
Mary surveyed the room with an exclamation of
"Oh, what a wonderful place! Why, Jim, you're a
There could be no doubt about the practical use to
which the shop was being put. Its one small window
opened on a fire escape in the narrow court in the
rear. A skylight in the middle opened with a hinge on
the roof and flooded the space with perfect light. An
iron ladder swung from the skylight and was hooked up
against the ceiling by a hasp fastened to a staple
over a work-bench. On one side of the room was a tiny
blacksmith's forge, an anvil, hammers and a complete
set of tools for working in rough iron. A small
gasoline engine supplied the power which turned his
lathe and worked the drills, saw and plane. On the
other side of the room was arranged a fairly complete
chemical laboratory with several retorts, and an
oxyhydrogen blow-pipe capable of developing the
powerful heat used in the melting and brazing of
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