The Vision Splendid The Vision Spendid
William MacLeod Raine
Part 3 out of 5
"I suppose I AM expensive."
"Not a doubt of it. But if you don't mind I'll come occasionally
to the gallery to study the masterpiece."
"I'll mind if you don't."
Voices were heard approaching along the hall. The portieres
parted. The immediate effect on Farnum of the great figure that
filled the doorway was one of masterful authority. A massive head
crested a figure of extraordinary power. Gray as a mediaeval
castle, age had not yet touched his gnarled strength. The keen
steady eyes, the close straight lips, the shaggy eyebrows heavy
and overhanging, gave accent to the rugged force of this grim
freebooter who had reversed the law of nature which decrees that
railroads shall follow civilization. Scorning the established rule
of progress, he had spiked his rails through untrodden forests and
unexplored canons to watch the pioneer come after by the road he
had blazed. Chief among the makers of the Northwest, he yearly
conceived and executed with amazing audacity enterprises that
would have marked as monumental the life work of lesser men.
Farnum, rising from his seat unconsciously as a tribute of
respect, acknowledged thus tacitly the presence of greatness in
the person of Joe Powers.
The straight lips of the empire builder tightened as his eyes
gleamed over the soft luxury of his daughter's boudoir. James
would have been hard put to it to conceive any contrast greater
than the one between this modern berserk and the pampered daughter
of his wealth. A Hun or a Vandal gazing down with barbaric scorn
on some decadent paramour of captured Rome was the most analogous
simile Farnum's brain could summon. What freak of nature, he
wondered, had been responsible for so alien an offspring to this
ruthless builder? And what under heaven had the two in common
except the blood that ran in both their veins?
Peter C. Frome, who had followed his brother-in-law into the room,
introduced the young man to the railroad king.
The great man's grip drove the blood from Farnum's hand.
"I've heard about you, young man. What do you mean by getting in
The young man's veins glowed. He had made Joe Powers notice him.
Not for worlds would he have winked an eyelash, though the bones
of his hand felt as if they were being ground to powder.
"Do I get in your way, sir?" he asked innocently.
"Do you?" boomed the deep bass of the railroader. "You and that
mad brother of yours."
"He's my cousin," James explained.
"Brother or cousin, he's got to get off the track or be run over.
And you, too, with that smooth tongue of yours."
Farnum laughed. "Jeff's pretty solid. He may ditch the train,
"No!" roared Powers. "He'll be flung into the ditch." He turned
abruptly to Frome. "Peter, take me to a room where I can talk to
this young man. I need him."
"'Come into my little parlor,' said the spider to the fly."
They wheeled as at a common rein to the sound of the young mocking
voice. Alice Frome had come in unnoticed and was standing in the
doorway smiling at them. The effect she produced was demurely
daring. The long lines of her slender sylph-like body, the
girlishness of her golden charm, were vigorously contradicted in
their suggestion of shyness by the square tilted chin and the
challenge in the dancing eyes.
"Alice," admonished her father with a deprecatory apology in his
voice to his brother-in-law.
Powers knit his shaggy brows in a frown not at all grim. The young
woman smiled back confidently. She could go farther with him than
anybody else in the world could, and she knew it. For he
recognized in her vigorous strength of fiber a kinship of the
spirit closer than that between him and his own daughter. An
autocrat to the marrow, it pleased him to recognize her an
exception to his rule. Valencia was also an exception, but in a
"Have you any remarks to make, Miss Frome?" he asked.
"Oh, I've made it," returned the girl unabashed. She turned to
James and shook hands with him. "How do you do, Mr. Farnum? I see
you are going to be tied to Uncle Joe's kite, too."
Was there in her voice just a hint of scorn? James did not know.
He laughed a little uneasily.
"Shall I be swallowed up alive, Miss Frome?"
"You think you won't, but you will. He always gets what he wants."
For all the warmth and energy of youth in her there was a vivid
spiritual quality that had always made a deep appeal to James. He
sensed the something fine and exquisite she breathed forth and did
reverence to it.
"And what does he want now?" the young man parried.
"He wants YOU."
"Unless you would like him yourself, Alice," her uncle countered.
The color washed into her cheeks. "Not just now, thank you. I was
merely giving him a friendly warning."
"I'm awfully obliged to you. I'll be on my guard," laughed James.
He stepped across to the lounge to make his farewell to Mrs. Van
"You'll come again," she said in a low voice.
"Whenever the gallery is open--if I am sent a ticket of
"Wouldn't it be better to apply for a ticket and not wait for it
to be sent?"
"I think it would--and to apply for one often."
"I am waiting, Mr. Farnum," interrupted Powers impatiently.
To the young man the suggestion sounded like a command. He bowed
to Alice and followed the great man out of the room.
Many business men of every community are respectable cowards. The
sense of property fills them with a cramping timidity.
--From the Note Book of a Dreamer.
SAFE AND SOUND BUSINESS RALLIES TO THE DEFENSE OF THE COUNTRY. THE
REBEL, FRUSTRATED, PLANS FURTHER VILLAINIES
When James reached his office next morning he found Killen waiting
for him. One glance at the weak defiant face told him that the
legislator was again in revolt. The lawyer felt a surge of disgust
sweep over him. All through the session he had cajoled and argued
the weak-kneed back into line. Why didn't Hardy do his own dirty
work instead of leaving it to him to soil his hands with these
No longer ago than yesterday it had been a keen pleasure to feel
himself so important a factor in the struggle, to know that his
power and his personality were of increasing value to his side.
But to-day--somehow the salt had gone out of it. The value of the
issue had dwindled, his enthusiasm gone stale. After all, what did
it matter who was elected? Why should not the corporate wealth
that was developing the country see that men were chosen to
office who would safeguard vested interests? It was all very well
for Jeff to talk about democracy and the rights of the people. But
Jeff was an impracticable idealist. He, James, stood for success.
Within the past twenty-four hours there had been something of a
shift of standards for him.
His visit to The Brakes had done that for him. He craved luxury
just as he did power, and the house on the hill had said the final
word of both to him in the personalities of Joe Powers and his
daughter. It had come home to him that the only way to satisfy his
ambition was by making money and a lot of it. This morning, with
the sharpness of his hunger rendering him irritable, he was in no
mood to conciliate disaffectants to the cause of which he was
himself beginning to weary.
"Well?" he demanded sharply of Killen.
"I've been looking for your cousin, but I can't find him. He was
to have met me here later."
"Then I presume he'll be here when he said he would." The eyes of
the lawyer were cold and hard as jade.
"You can tell him it won't be necessary for me to see him. I've
made other arrangements," Killen said uneasily.
"You mean that you repudiate your agreement with him. Is that it?"
Farnum's voice was like a whiplash.
"I've decided to support Frome. Fact is--"
"Oh, damn the facts! You made an agreement. You're going to sell
out. That's all there is to it."
The young man's face was dark with furious disgust.
Killen flared up. "You better be careful how you talk to me, Mr.
Farnum. I might want to know what Big Tim was doing in your office
yesterday. I might want to know what business took you up to The
Brakes by a mighty roundabout way."
James strode forward in a rage. "Get out of here before I throw
you out, you little spying blackguard."
"You bet I'll get out," screamed the mill man. "Get clear out and
have nothing more to do with your outfit. But I want to tell you
that folks will talk a lot when they know how you and Big Tim
fixed up a deal--" Killen, backing toward the door as he spoke,
broke off to hasten his exit before the lawyer's threatening
James slammed the door shut on him and paced up and down in an
impotent fury of passion. "The dirty little blackleg! He'd like to
bracket me in the same class as himself. He'd like to imply that
I--By Heaven, if he opens his lying mouth to a hint of such a
thing I'll horsewhip the little cad."
But running uneasily through his mind was an undercurrent of
disgust--with himself, with Jeff, with the whole situation. Why
had he ever let himself get mixed up with such an outfit?
Government by the people! The thing was idiotic, mere demagogic
cant. Power was to the strong. He had always known it. But
yesterday that old giant at The Brakes had hammered it home to
him. He did not like to admit even to himself that his folly had
betrayed Hardy's cause, but at bottom he knew he should not have
gone to The Brakes until after the election and that he ought
never to have let Killen out of the office without an explanation.
Yesterday he would have won back the man somehow by an appeal to
his loyalty and his self-interest.
He must send word at once to Jeff and let him try to remedy the
His cousin, coming into the office with Rawson just as James took
down the receiver of the telephone, noticed at once the
disturbance of the latter.
James told his story. It was clear to him that he must anticipate
Killen's disclosure of his visit to The Brakes and so draw the
sting from it as far as possible. But his natural reluctance to
shoulder blame made him begin with Killen's defection.
"I told you to let me deal with the little traitor," Rawson
"He was quite satisfied when I left him yesterday. They must have
got at him again," Jeff suggested. "I left O'Brien with him. But I
was dead sure of him."
James cleared his throat and began casually. "I expect the little
beggar got suspicious when he saw Big Tim coming to my office."
"To your office?" Rawson cut in sharply.
The lawyer flushed, but his eyes met and quelled the incipient
doubt in those of the politician. "Yes, he came to feel the
ground. Of course I told him flatly where I stood. But Killen must
have thought something was doing he wasn't in on. It seems he
followed me to The Brakes yesterday afternoon when I called on
Mrs. Van Tyle."
"Followed you to The Brakes. Good Lord!" groaned Rawson. "What in
Mexico were you doing there?"
"Thought I mentioned that I was calling on Mrs. Van-Tyle,"
returned James stiffly.
"Wasn't that call a little injudicious under the circumstances,
James?" contributed Jeff with his whimsical smile.
"I suppose I may call wherever I please."
"It was a piece of dashed foolishness, that's what it was. You say
Killen saw you. The thing will fly like dust in the wind. It will
be buzzed all over the House by this time and every man that wants
to sell out will find a reason right there," stormed Rawson.
"Are you implying that I sold out?" demanded James icily.
Jeff put a conciliatory hand on his cousin's shoulder. "Of course
he doesn't. He isn't a fool, James. But there's a good deal in
what Rawson says. It was a mistake. The waverers will find in it
their excuse for deserting. Of course Big Tim has been at them all
night. We'll go right up to the House in your machine, Rawson. We
haven't a moment to lose."
Rawson nodded. "It's dollars to doughnuts the thing is past
mending, but it's up to us to see. If I can only get at Killen in
time I'll choke the story in his throat. You wait here at the
'phone, Jeff, and I'll call you up if you're needed at this end of
the line. Better have a taxi waiting below in case you need one.
Come along, James."
If he did not get to Killen in time it was not Rawson's fault, for
he made his car flash up and down Verden's hills with no regard to
the speed limit. He swept it along Powers Avenue, dodging in and
out among the traffic of the busy city like a halfback through a
broken field after a kick. With a twist of the wheel he put the
machine at the steep hill of Yarnell Way, climbed the brow of it,
and plunged with a flying leap down the long incline to the State
James clung to the swaying side of the car as it raced down. It
was raining hard, and the drops stung their faces like bird shot.
Two hundred yards in front appeared a farm wagon, leaped toward
them, and disappeared in the gulf behind. A dog barking at them
from the roadside was for an instant and then was not. In their
wake they left cursing teamsters, frightened horses, women and
children scurrying for safety; and in the driver's seat Rawson sat
goggle-eyed and rigid, swallowing the miles that lay in front of
The car took the last incline superbly and swung up the asphalt
carriage way to a Yale finish at the marble stairway of the State
House. Rawson was running up the steps almost before the machine
had stopped. Farnum caught him at the elevator and a minute later
they entered together the assembly room of the House.
One swift glance told Rawson that Killen was not in his seat, and
as his eyes swept the room he noted also the absence of Pitts,
Bentley, and Miller. Of the doubtful votes only Ashton and Reilly
He flung a question anything of Bentley, Akers?"
"Mr. Bentley! Why, yes, sir. He was called to the telephone a few
minutes ago and he left at once. Mr. Miller went with him, and Mr.
"Were Ashton and Reilly here then?"
"No, sir. They came in a moment before you did."
Rawson drew Farnum to one side and whispered.
"Killen must have gone right from your room to Big Tim. They got
the others on the phone. They must have been on that street car we
met a mile back. There's just a chance to head 'em off. I'll chase
back in my machine while you call up Jeff and have him meet the
car as it comes in. Tell him not to let them out of his sight if
he has to hold them with a gun. You keep an eye on Reilly and
Ashton. Don't let anyone talk to them or get them on the phone.
Better take them up to the library."
James nodded sulkily. He did not like Rawson's peremptory manner
any the better because he knew his indiscretion had called it down
upon him. What he had been unable to forget for the past hour was
that if this break to Frome had happened yesterday it would have
been he that gave the orders and Rawson who jumped to execute
them. Now he had slipped back to second place.
He caught Jeff on the line and repeated Rawson's orders without
comment of his own, after which he went back from the committee
room, gathered up Reilly and Ashton, and took them on a pretext to
It must have been nearly an hour later that a messenger boy handed
James a note. It was a hasty scribble from Rawson.
Euchred, by thunder! Both Jeff and I missed them. Big Tim butted
in with a car at Grover Street before we could make connections.
Am waiting at the House for them. Don't bring A. & R. in till time
to vote. FROME CAN'T WIN IF YOU MAKE THEM BOTH STICK.
James stuck the note in his pocket and flung himself with
artificial animation into the story he was telling. Once or twice
the others suggested a return to the House, but he always had just
one more good story they must hear. Since only routine business
was under way there was no urgency, and when at length they
returned to the House chamber the clock pointed to five minutes to
Rawson and two or three of the staunchest Hardy men relieved
Farnum of his charge in the cloak room and took care of the two
doubtfuls. The seats of Bentley, Miller, Pitts and Killen were
still vacant, and there was a tense watchfulness in the room that
showed rumors were flying of a break in the deadlock.
Already the state senators were drifting in for the noon joint
sessions, and along with them came presently the missing
assemblymen flanked by O'Brien and Frome adherents.
The President of the Senate called the session to order and
announced that the eleventh general assembly would now proceed to
take the sixty-fourth ballot for the election of a United States
In an oppressive silence the clerk began to call the roll.
A raw-boned farmer from one of the coast counties rose and
In broken English a fat Swede shouted, "Harty."
"Hardy." The word fell hesitantly from dry lips. The man would
have voted for the Transcontinental candidate had he dared, but he
was not sure enough that the crucial moment was at hand and the
pressure of his environment was too great.
Three hundred eyes focused expectantly on the gaunt white-faced
legislator who rose nervously at the sound of his name and almost
inaudibly gulped the word "Frome."
A fierce tumult of rage and triumph rose and fell and swelled
again. Bentley became the center of a struggling vortex of roaring
humanity and found himself tossed hither and thither like a chip
in a choppy sea.
It was many minutes before the clerk could proceed with the roll-
call. When his name was reached James said "Hardy" in a clear
distinct voice that brought from the gallery a round of applause
sharply checked by the presiding officer. Killen gave his vote for
Frome tremulously and shrank from the storm he had evoked. Rawson
could be seen standing on his seat, one foot on the top of his
desk, shaking his fist at him in purple apoplectic rage, the while
his voice rose above the tumult, "You damned Judas! You damned
The presiding officer beat in vain with his gavel for quiet. Not
until they had worn themselves to momentary exhaustion could the
roll-call be continued.
Miller and Pitts voted for Frome and stirred renewed shouts of
support and execration.
"Takes one more change to elect Frome. All depends on Reilly now,"
Rawson whispered hoarsely to Jeff. "If he sticks we're safe for
another twenty-four hours."
But Reilly, knowing the decisive moment had come, voted for Frome
and gave him the one more needed to elect. Pandemonium was loose
at once. The Transcontinental forces surrounded him and fought off
the excited men he had betrayed who tried to get at him to make
him change his vote. The culminating moment of months of battle
had come and mature men gave themselves to the abandon of the
moment like college boys after a football game.
When at last the storm had subsided Ashton, who had seen several
thousand dollars go glimmering because his initial came at the
beginning of the alphabet instead of at the close, in the hope of
still getting into the bandwagon in time moved to make the
election unanimous. His suggestion was rejected with hoots of
derision, and Frome made the conventional speech of acceptance to
a House divided against itself.
Jeff joined his cousin as he was descending the steps to the lower
hall. "Don't blame yourself, old man. It would have happened
anyhow in a day or two. They were looking for a chance to desert.
We couldn't have held them. Better luck next time."
James found cold comfort in such consolation. He was dissatisfied
with the part he had played in the final drama. Instead of being
the hero of the hour, he was the unfortunate whose blunder had
started the avalanche. Yet he was gratified when Rawson said in
effect the same thing as Jeff.
"And I'm going to have the pleasure of telling that damned little
Killen what I think of him," the politician added with savage
"Don't blame him. He's only a victim. What we must do is to change
the system that makes it possible to defeat the will of the people
through money," Jeff said.
"How are you going about it?" Rawson demanded incredulously.
"We'll go after the initiative and referendum right now while the
people are stirred up about this treachery. The very men who threw
us down will support us to try and square themselves. The bill
will slip through as if it were oiled," Jeff prophesied.
"Oh, hang your initiative and referendum. I'm a politician, not a
socialist reformer," grinned Rawson.
James said nothing.
If the years were bringing Jeff a sharper realization of the
forces that control so much of life they were giving him too the
mellowness that can be in revolt without any surrender of faith in
men. He could for instance now look back on his college days and
appreciate the kindness and the patience of the teachers whom he
had then condemned. They had been conformists. No doubt they had
compromised to the pressure of their environment. But somehow he
felt much less like judging men than he used to in the first flush
of his intellectual awakening. It was perhaps this habit of making
allowance for weakness, together with his call to the idealism in
them, that made him so effective a worker with men.
He was as easy as an old shoe, but people sensed the steel in him
instinctively. In his quiet way he was coming to be a power. For
one thing he was possessed of the political divination that
understands how far a leader may go without losing his following.
He knew too how to get practical results. It was these qualities
that enabled him out of the wreckage of the senatorial defeat to
build a foundation of victory for House Bill 77.
To bring into effect Jeff's pet measure of the initiative and
referendum necessitated an amendment to the state constitution,
which must be passed by two successive legislative assemblies and
ratified by a vote of the people in order to become effective. The
bill had been slumbering in committee, but immediately after the
senatorial election Jeff insisted on having it brought squarely to
the attention of the House.
His feeling for the psychological moment was a true one and he
succeeded by a skillful newspaper campaign in rallying the people
to his support. The sense of outrage felt at this shameless
purchase of a seat in the Senate, accented by a knowledge of its
helplessness to avenge the wrong done it, counted mightily in
favor of H. B. No. 77 just now. It promised a restoration of power
to the people, and the clamor for its passage became insistent.
A good deal of quiet lobbying had been done for the bill, and the
legislators who had sold themselves, having received all they
could reasonably expect from the allied corporations, were anxious
to make a show of standing for their constituents. Politicians in
general considered the bill a "freak" one. Some who voted for it
explained that they did not believe in it, but felt the people
should have a chance to vote on it themselves. By a large majority
it passed the House. Two days later it squeezed through the
Rawson, who had been persuaded half against his judgment to
support the bill, lunched with Jeff that day.
"Now watch the corporations dig a grave for your little pet at the
next legislature," he chuckled, helping himself to bread while he
waited for the soup.
"They may. Then again they may not," Farnum answered. "We are
ruled by political machines and corporations only as long as we
let them. I've a notion the people are going to assert themselves
at the next election."
"How are you going to make the will of the dear people effective
with the assembly?" asked Rawson, amused.
"Make the initiative and referendum the issue of the campaign.
Pledge the legislators to vote for it before nominating them."
"Pledge them?" grinned Rawson cynically. "Weren't they pledged to
support Hardy? And did they?"
"No, but they'll stick next time, I think."
"You're an incurable optimist, my boy."
"It isn't optimism this time. It's our big stick."
"Didn't know we had one."
"Do you remember House Bill 19?"
"No. What's that got to do with it?"
"It slipped through early in the session. Anderson introduced it.
Nobody paid any attention to it because he's a back country Swede
and his bill was very wordy. The governor signed it to-day. That
bill provides for the recall of any public official, alderman or
legislator if the people are not satisfied with his conduct."
The big man stared. "I thought it only applied to district road
supervisors. Were you back of that bill, Jeff?"
"I had it drawn up and helped steer it through the committee,
though I was careful not to appear interested."
"You sly old fox! And nobody guessed it had general application.
None of us read the blamed thing through. You're going to use it
as a club to make the legislators stand pat on their pledges."
"But don't you see how revolutionary your big stick is?" Rawson's
smile was expansive. "Why, hang it, man, you're destroying the
fundamental value of representative government. It's a deliberate
attack on graft."
"Looks like it, doesn't it?"
It was while Rawson was waiting for his mince pie piled with ice
cream that he ventured a delicate question.
"Say, Jeff! What about James? Is he getting ready to flop over to
"No. Why do you ask that?"
"I notice he explained when he voted for House Bill 77 that he
reserved the right to oppose it later. Said he hadn't made up his
mind, but felt the people should be given a chance to express
themselves on it."
Upon Farnum's face rested a momentary gravity. "I can't make James
out lately. He's lost his enthusiasm. Half the time he's irritable
and moody. I think perhaps he's been blaming himself too much for
Rawson laughed with cynical incredulity. "That's it, is it?"
"Faustina hath the fairest face,
And Phillida the better grace;
Both have mine eye enriched:
This sings full sweetly with her voice;
Her fingers make so sweet a noise;
Both have mine ear bewitched.
Ah me! sith Fates have so provided,
My heart, alas! must be divided."
THE HERO, ASSISTED BY THE MONA LISA SMILE, DEPLORES THE
DEBILITATING EFFECTS OF MODERN CIVILIZATION
With the adjournment of the legislature politics became a less
absorbing topic of interest. James at least was frankly glad of
this, for his position had begun to be embarrassing. He could not
always stand with a foot in either camp. As yet he had made no
break with the progressives. Joe Powers had given him a hint that
he might be more useful where he was. But as much as possible he
was avoiding the little luncheons at which Jeff and his political
friends were wont to foregather. He gave as an excuse the rush of
business that was swamping him. His excuse at least had the
justification of truth. His speeches had brought him a good many
clients and Frome was quietly throwing cases his way.
It was at one of these informal little noonday gatherings that
Rawson gave his opinion of the legal ability of James.
"He isn't any great lawyer, but he never gives it away. He knows
how to wear an air of profound learning with a large and
impressive silence. Roll up the whole Supreme Court into one and
it can't look any wiser than James K. Farnum."
Miller laughed. "Reminds me of what I heard last week. Jeff was
walking down Powers Avenue with James and an old fellow stopped me
to point them out. There go the best citizen and the worst citizen
in this town, he said. I told him that was rather hard on James.
You ought to have heard him. For him James is the hero of the
piece and Jeff the villain."
"Half the people in this town have got that damn fool notion,"
Captain Chunn interrupted violently.
"More than half, I should say."
"Every day or two I hear about how dissipated Jeff used to be and
how if it were not for his good and noble cousin he would have
gone to the deuce long ago," Rawson contributed.
Chunn pounded on the table with his fist. "Jeff's own fault. Talk
about durn fools! That boy's got them all beat clear off the map.
And I'm dashed if I don't like him better for it."
"Move we change the subject," suggested Rawson. "Here comes
Verden's worst citizen."
With a casual nod of greeting round the table Jeff sat down.
"Any of you hear James' speech before the Chamber of Commerce
yesterday? It was bully. One of his best," he said as he reached
for the menu card.
Captain Chunn groaned. The rest laughed. Jeff looked round in
surprise. "What's the joke?"
It was a great relief to James, in these days when the complacency
of his self-satisfaction was a little ruffled, to call often on
Valencia Van Tyle and let himself drift pleasantly with her along
primrose paths where moral obligations never obtruded. Under the
near-Venetian ceiling of her den, with its pink Cupids and plump
dimpled cherubs smiling down, he was never troubled about his
relation to Hardy's defeat. Here he got at life from another slant
and could always find justification to himself for his course.
She had a silent divination of his moods and knew how to minister
indolently to them. The subtle incense of luxury that she diffused
banished responsibility. In her soft sensuous blood the lusty beat
of duty had small play.
But even while he yielded to the allure of Valencia Van Tyle,
admitting a finish of beauty to which mere youth could not aspire,
all that was idealistic in him went out to the younger cousin
whose admiration and shy swift friendship he was losing. His
vanity refused to accept this at first. She was a little piqued at
him because of the growing intimacy with Valencia. That was all.
Why, it had been only a month or two ago that her gaze had been
warm for him, that her playful irony had mocked sweetly his
ambition for service to the community. Their spirits had touched
in comradeship. Almost he had caught in her eyes the look they
would hold for only one man on earth. The best in him had
responded to the call. But now he did not often meet her at The
Brakes. When he did a cool little nod and an indifferent word
sufficed for him. How much this hurt only James himself knew.
One of the visible signs of his increasing prosperity was a motor
car, in which he might frequently be seen driving with the
daughter of Joe Powers, to the gratification of its owner and the
envy of Verden. The cool indifference with which Mrs. Van Tyle
ignored the city's social elite had aroused bitter criticism.
Since she did not care a rap for this her escapades were frankly
indiscreet. James could not really afford a machine, but he
justified it on the ground that it was an investment. A man who
appears to be prosperous becomes prosperous. A good front is a
part of the bluff of twentieth century success. He did not follow
his argument so far as to admit that the purchase of the car was
an item in the expenses of a campaign by which he meant to make
capital out of a woman's favor to him, even though his imagination
toyed with the possibilities it might offer to build a sure
foundation of fortune.
"You should go to New York," she told him once after he had
sketched, with the touch of eloquence so native to him, a plan for
a line of steamers between Verden and the Orient.
"To be submerged in the huddle of humanity. No, thank you."
"But the opportunities are so much greater there for a man of
"Oh, ability!" he derided. "New York is loaded to the water line
with ability in garrets living on crusts. To win out there a man
must have a pull, or he must have the instinct for making money
breed, for taking what other men earn."
She studied him, a good-looking, alert American, sheet-armored in
the twentieth century polish of selfishness, with an inordinate
appetite for success. Certainly he looked every inch a winner.
"I believe you could do it. You're not too scrupulous to look out
for yourself." Her daring impudence mocked him lightly.
"I'm not so sure about that." James liked to look his conscience
in the face occasionally. "I respect the rights of my fellows. In
the money centers you can't do that and win. And you've got to
win. It doesn't matter how. Make good-- make good! Get money--any
way you can. People will soon forget how you got it, if you have
"Dear me! I didn't know you were so given to moral reflections."
To Alice, who had just come into the room to settle where they
should spend their Sunday, Valencia explained with mock demureness
the subject of their talk. "Mr. Farnum and I are deploring the
immoral money madness of New York and the debilitating effects of
modern civilization. Will you deplore with us, my dear?"
The younger woman's glance included the cigarette James had thrown
away and the one her cousin was still smoking. "Why go as far as
New York?" she asked quietly.
Farnum flushed. She was right, he silently agreed. He had no
business futtering away his time in a pink boudoir. Nor could he
explain that he hoped his time was not being wasted.
"I must be going," he said as casually as he could.
"Don't let me drive you away, Mr. Farnum. I dropped in only for a
"Not at all. I have an appointment with my cousin."
"With Mr. Jefferson Farnum?" Alice asked in awakened interest.
"I've just been reading a magazine article about him. Is he really
a remarkable man?"
"I don't think you would call him remarkable. He gets things done,
in spite of being an idealist."
"Why, in spite of it?"
"Aren't reformers usually unpractical?"
"Are they? I don't know. I have never met one." She looked
straight at Farnum with the directness characteristic of her. "Is
the article in Stetson's Magazine true?"
"Substantially, I think."
Alice hesitated. She would have liked to pursue the subject, but
she could not very well do that with his cousin. For years she had
been hearing of this man as a crank agitator who had set himself
in opposition to her father and his friends for selfish reasons.
Her father had dropped vague hints about his unsavory life. The
Stetson write-up had given a very different story. If it told the
truth, many things she had been brought up to accept without
question would bear study.
James suavely explained. "The facts are true, but not the
inferences from the facts. Jeff takes rather a one-sided view of a
very complex situation. But he's perfectly honest in it, so far as
"You voted for his bill, didn't you?" Alice asked.
"Yes, I voted for it. But I said on the floor I didn't believe in
it. My feeling was that the people ought to have a chance to
express an opinion in regard to it."
"Why don't you believe in it?"
Valencia lifted her perfect eyebrows. "Really, my dear, I didn't
know you were so interested in politics."
Alice waited for the young man's answer.
"It would take me some time to give my reasons in full. But I can
give you the text of them in a sentence. Our government is a
representative one by deliberate choice of its founders. This bill
would tend to make it a pure democracy, which would be far too
cumbersome for so large a country."
"So you'll vote against it next time to save the country," Alice
suggested lightly. "Thank you for explaining it." She turned to
her cousin with an air of dismissing the subject. "Well, Val. What
about the yacht trip to Kloochet Island for Sunday? Shall we go? I
have to 'phone the captain to let him know at once."
"If you'll promise not to have it rain all the time," the young
widow shrugged with a little move. "Perhaps Mr. Farnum could join
us? I'm sure uncle would be pleased."
Alice seconded her cousin's invitation tepidly, without any
enthusiasm. James, with a face which did not reflect his
disappointment, took his cue promptly. "Awfully sorry, but I'll be
out of the city. Otherwise I should be delighted."
Valencia showed a row of dainty teeth in a low ripple of
amusement. Alice flashed her cousin one look of resentment and
with a sentence of conventional regret left the room to telephone
the sailing master.
Farnum, seeking permission to leave, waited for his hostess to
rise from the divan where she nestled.
But Valencia, her fingers laced in characteristic fashion back of
her neck, leaned back and mocked his defeat with indolent amused
"My engagement," he suggested as a reminder.
"Poor boy! Are you hard hit?"
"Your flights of fancy leave me behind. I can't follow," he evaded
with an angry flush.
"No, but you wish you could follow," she laughed, glancing at the
door through which her cousin had departed. Then, with a demure
impudent little cast of her head, she let him have it straight
from the shoulder. "How long have you been in love with Alice? And
how will you like to see Ned Merrill win?"
"Am I in love with Miss Frome?"
"If you say so. It happens to be news to me."
"As if I believed that, as if you believed it yourself," she
Her pretty pouting lips, the long supple unbroken lines of the
soft sinuous body, were an invitation to forget all charms but
hers. He understood that she was throwing out her wiles,
consciously or unconsciously, to strike out from him a denial that
would convince her. His mounting vanity drove away his anger. He
forgot everything but her sheathed loveliness, the enticement of
this lovely creature whose smoldering eyes invited. Crossing the
room, he stood behind her divan and looked down at her with his
hands on the back of it.
"Can a man care much for two women at the same time?" he asked in
a low voice.
She laughed with slow mockery.
Her faint perfume was wafted to his brain. He knew a besieging of
the blood. Slowly he leaned forward, holding her eyes till the
mockery faded from them. Then, very deliberately, he kissed her.
"How dare you!" she voiced softly in a kind of wonder not free
from resentment. For with all her sensuous appeal the daughter of
Joe Powers was not a woman with whom men took liberties.
"By the gods, why shouldn't I dare? We played a game and both of
us have lost. You were to beckon and coolly flit, while I followed
safely at a distance. Do you think me a marble statue? Do you
think me too wooden for the strings of my heart to pulsate? By
heaven, my royal Hebe, you have blown the fire in me to life. You
must pay forfeit."
"Yes. I'm your servant no longer, but your lover and your master--
and I intend to marry you."
"How ridiculous," she derided. "Have you forgotten Alice?"
"I have forgotten everything but you--and that I'm going to marry
She laughed a little tremulously. "You had better forget that too.
I'm like Alice. My answer is, 'No, thank you, kind sir.'"
"And my answer, royal Hebe, is this." His hot lips met hers again
in abandonment to the racing passion in him.
"You--barbarian," she gasped, pushing him away.
"Perhaps. But the man who is going to marry you."
She looked at him with a flash of almost shy curiosity that had
the charm of an untasted sensation. "Would you beat me?"
"I don't know." He still breathed unevenly. "I'd teach you how to
"And love?" She was beginning to recover her lightness of tone,
though the warm color still dabbed her cheeks.
"Why not?" His eyes were diamond bright. "Why not? You have never
known the great moments, the buoyant zest of living in the land
that belongs only to the Heirs o Life."
"And can you guide me there?" The irony in her voice was not
untouched with wistfulness.
She laughed softly, stepped to the table, and chose a cigarette.
"My friend, you promise impossibilities. I was not born to that
incomparable company. To be frank, neither were you. Alice, grant
you, belongs there. And that mad cousin of yours. But not we two
earth creepers. We're neither of us star dwellers. In the
meantime"--she lit her Egyptian and stopped to make sure of her
light every moment escaping more definitely from the glamor of his
passion--"you mentioned an engagement that was imperative. Don't
let me keep you from it."
From The New Catechism
Question: What is the whole duty of man?
Answer: To succeed.
Q. What is success?
A. Success is being a Captain of Industry.
Q. How may one become a Captain of Industry?
A. By stacking in his barns the hay made by others
while the sun shines.
Q. But is this not theft?
A. Not if done legally and respectably on a large scale.
It is high finance.
THE REBEL AND THE UNDESIRABLE CITIZEN TALK TREASON. THE
HERO HAS PRIVATE CONVERSE WITH A GREAT PIONEER OF CIVILIZATION
Jeff never for a day desisted from his fight to win back for the
people the self rule that had been wrested from them for selfish
purposes by corporate greed. "Government by the people" was the
watchword he kept at the head of his editorial column. Better a
bad government that is representative than a good one emanating
from the privileged few, he maintained with conviction.
To his office came one day Oscar Marchant, the little, half-
educated Socialist poet, coughing from the exertion of the stairs
he had just climbed. He had come begging, the consumptive
"Remember Sobieski, the Polish Jew?"
Jeff smiled. "Of course. Philosophical anarchy used to be his
"Starvation is the one he's trying now," returned Marchant grimly.
"He's had typhoid and lost his job. The rent's due and they'll be
turned out tomorrow. He's got a wife and two kids."
Farnum asked questions briefly and pulled out his check book.
"Tell Sobieski not to worry," he said as he handed over a check.
"I'll send a reporter out there and we'll make an appeal through
the _World_. Of course his own name won't be used. No one will
know who it really is. We'll look out for him till he's on his
Marchant gave him the best he had. "You're a pretty good
Socialist, even though you don't know it."
"But you're blind as a bat. The things you fight for in the
_World_ don't get to the bottom of what ails us."
"We've got to forge the tools of freedom before we can use them,
"You're all for patching up the rotten system we've got. It will
"Great changes are most easily brought about under the old forms.
Men's minds in the mass move slowly. They can see only a little
truth at a time."
"Because they are blinded by ignorance and selfishness. Get at
bottom facts, Farnum. What's the one great crime?"
Without a moment's hesitation Jeff answered. "Poverty. All other
crimes are paltry beside that."
Marchant cocked himself up on the window seat with his legs
doubled under him tailor fashion. "Why?"
"Because it stamps out hope and love and aspiration, all that is
fine and true in life."
"Exactly. Men ought to love their work. But how can they
ove that which is always associated in their minds with a denial
of justice? Is it likely that men will work better under a system
whereby they are condemned in advance to failure than under one
standing rationally for a just and fair division of the fruits of
labor? I tell you, Farnum, under present conditions the Juggernaut
of progress is forever wasting humanity."
"I've always thought it a pity that the mainsprings of work should
be fear and greed instead of hope and love," Jeff agreed.
"Why is it that poverty coexists with wealth increasing so
rapidly? Why is it that productive power has been so enormously
developed without lightening the burdens of labor?"
Marchant's eyes were starlike in their earnestness. He had a
passion for humanity that neither want nor disease could quench,
and with it a certain gift of expression street oratory had
brought out. Even in private conversation he had got into the way
of declaiming. But Jeff knew he was no empty talker. All that he
had he literally gave to the poor.
"Because the whole spirit of business life is wrong," Farnum
"Of course it's wrong. It's a survival of the law of the jungle,
of tooth and fang. Its motto is dog eat dog. We all work under the
rule of get and grab. What's the result of this higgledypiggledy
system? One man starves and another has indigestion. That's the
trouble with Verden to-day. Some of us haven't enough and others
have too much. They take from us what we earn. That's the whole
cause of poverty. The Malthusian theory is all wrong. It's not
nature, but man that is to blame."
Farnum knew the little Socialist was right so far. Here in Verden,
under the forms of freedom, was the very essence of slavery. All
the product of labor was taken from it except enough to sustain a
mere animal existence. Something was wrong in a world where a man
begs in vain for work to support his family. Given proper
conditions, men would not rise by trampling each other down, but
by lending a hand to the unfortunate. The effect of efficiency
would be to make things easier for the weak. The reward of service
would be more service.
"The principle of the old order is dead," Marchant went on,
wagging his thin forefinger at Jeff. "The whole social fabric is
made up of lies, compromises, injustice. The only reason it has
hung together so long is that people have been trained to think
along certain lines like show animals. But they're waking up. Look
at Germany. Look at England. What the plutocrats call the menace
of Socialism is everywhere. Now that every worker knows he is
being robbed of what he earns, how long do you think he will carry
the capitalistic system on his back? From the beginning of the
world we have tried it. With what result? An injustice that is
staggering, a waste that is appalling, an inhumanity that is
Jeff let a hand fall lightly on his shoulder. "Of course it's all
wrong. We know that. But can you show me how to make it right,
except out of the hearts of men growing slowly wiser and better?"
"Why slowly?" demanded Marchant. "Why not to-day while we're still
alive to see the smiles of men and women and children made glad?
You always want to begin at the wrong end. I tell you that you
can't change men's hearts until you change the conditions under
which they live."
"And I tell you that you can't change the conditions until you
change men's hearts," Jeff answered with his wistful smile.
"Rubbish! The only way to change the hearts of most plutocrats is
to hit them over the head with a two-by-four. Smug respectability
is in the saddle, and it knows it's right. We'll get nowhere until
we smash this iniquitous system to smithereens."
"So you want to substitute one system for another. You think you
can eliminate by legal enactment all this fatty degeneration of
greed and selfishness that has incased our souls. I'm afraid it
will be a slower process. We must free ourselves from within. I
believe we are moving toward some sort of a socialistic state. No
man with eyes in his head can help seeing that. But we'll move a
step at a time, and only so fast as the love and altruism inside
us can be organized into external law."
"No. You'll wake up some morning and find that this whole
capitalistic organization has crumbled in the night, fallen to
pieces from dry rot."
Jeff might not agree with him, but he knew that Marchant, dreamer
and incoherent poet, his heart aflame with zeal for humanity, was
far nearer the truth of life than the smug complacent Pharisees
that fattened from the toil of the helpless many who could do
nothing but suffer in dumb silence.
As the months passed Jeff grew in stature with the people of the
state. In spite of his energy he was always fair. The plain truth
he felt to be a better argument than the tricks of a demagogue.
A rational common sense was to be found in all his advice. Add to
this that he had no personal profit to seek, no political axe to
grind, and was always transparent as a child. More and more Verden
recognized him as the one most conspicuous figure in the state
dedicated to uncompromising war against the foes of the Republic.
Those who knew him best liked his humility, his good humor, the
gentleness that made him tolerant of the men he must fight. His
poise lifted him above petty animosities, and the daily sand-
stings of life did not disturb his serenity.
Everywhere his propaganda gained ground. People's Power Leagues
were formed with a central steering committee at Verden.
Politicians with their ears close to the ground heard rumbles of
the coming storm. They began to notice that reputable business
men, prominent lawyers not affiliated with corporations, and even
a few educators who had shaken away the timidity of their class
were lining up to support Jeff's freak legislation. It began to
look as if one of those periodical uprisings of the people was
about to sweep the state.
Big Tim found his ward workers met persistently by the same
questions from their ordinarily docile following. "Why shouldn't
we tie strings to our representatives so as to keep them from
betraying us? . . . Why can't we make laws ourselves in emergency
and kill bad laws the legislature makes? . . . What's the matter
with taking away some of the power from our representatives who
have abused it?"
In the city election O'Brien went down to defeat. Only fragments
of his ticket were saved from the general wreckage. Next day Joe
Powers wired James Farnum to join him immediately at Chicago.
"I'm going to put you in charge of the political field out there,"
the great man announced, his gray granite eyes fastened on the
young lawyer. "Ned Merrill won't do. Neither will O'Brien. Between
them they've made a mess of things."
"I don't know that it is their fault, except indirectly. One of
those populistic waves swept over the city."
"Why didn't they know what was going to happen? Why didn't they
let me know? That's what I pay them for."
"A child could have foreseen it, but O'Brien wouldn't believe his
eyes. He's been giving Verden an administration with too much
graft. The people got tired of it."
"What were Merrill and Frome up to? Why did they permit it?"
demanded Powers impatiently.
"They were looking out for their franchises. To get the machine's
support they had to give O'Brien a free hand."
"If necessary you had better eliminate Big Tim. Or at least put
him and his gang in the background. Make the machine respectable
so that good citizens can indorse it."
James nodded agreement. "I've been thinking about that. The thing
can be done. A business men's movement from inside the party to
purify it. A reorganization with new men in charge. That sort of
"Exactly. And how about the state?"
"Things don't look good to me."
"This initiative and referendum idea is spreading."
Powers drove his fist into a pile of papers on the desk. "Stop it.
I give you carte blanche. Spend as much as you like. But win. What
good is a lobby to me if those hare-brained farmers can kill every
bill we pass through their grafting legislature?"
The possibilities grew on Farnum. "I'll send Professor Perkins of
Verden University to New Zealand to prepare a paper showing the
thing is a failure there. I'll have every town in the state
thoroughly canvassed by lecturers and speakers against the bill.
I'll bombard the farmers with literature."
"What about the newspapers?"
"We control most of them. At Verden only the _World_ is against
"Can't be bought. Its editorial columns are not for sale."
"Anything can be bought if you've got the price. Who owns it?"
"A Captain Chunn. He made his money in Alaska. My cousin is the
editor. He is the real force back of it."
"Does the paper have any influence?"
"A great deal."
"I've heard of your cousin. A crack-brained Socialist, I
"You'll find he's a long way from that," James denied.
"Whatever he is, buy him," ordered Powers curtly.
The young man shook his head. "Can't be done. He doesn't want the
things you have to offer."
"Every man has his price. Find his, and buy him."
James shook his head decisively. "Absolutely impossible. He's an
idealist and an altruist."
Powers snorted impatiently. "Talk English, young man, and I'll
Farnum had heard Joe Powers was a man who would stand plain talk
from those who had the courage to give it him. His cool eyes
hardened. Why not? For once the old gray pirate, chief of the
robber buccaneers who rode on their predatory way superior to law,
should see himself as Jeff Farnum saw him.
"What I mean is that the things he holds most important can't be
bought with dollars and cents. He believes in justice and fair
play. He thinks the strong ought to bear the burdens of the weak.
He has a passion to uplift humanity. You can't understand him
because it isn't possible for you to conceive of a man whose first
thought is always for what is equitable."
"Just as I thought, a Socialist dreamer and demagogue," pronounced
"Merrill and Frome have been thinking of him just as you do."
James waved his hand toward the newspaper in front of the railroad
king. "With what result our election shows."
"Well, where does his power lie? How can you break it?" the old
"He is a kind of brother to the lame and the halt all over the
state. Among the poor and the working classes he has friends
without number. They believe in him as a patriot fighting for them
against the foes of the country."
"Do you call me a foe of the country, young man?" Powers wanted to
"Not I," laughed James. "Why should I quarrel with my bread and
jam? If you had ever done me the honor to read any of my speeches
you would see that I refer to you as a Pioneer of Civilization and
a Builder for the Future. But my view doesn't happen to be
universal. I was trying to show you how the man with the dinner
"Who fills his dinner pails?"
James met his frown with a genial eye. "There's a difference of
opinion about that, sir. According to the economics of Verden
University you fill them. According to the _World_ editorials it's
the other way. They fill yours."
"Hmp! And what's your personal opinion? Am I a robber of labor?"
"I think that the price of any success worth while is paid for in
the failure of others. You win because you're strong, sir. That's
the law of the game. It's according to the survival of the fittest
that you're where you are. If you had hesitated some other man
would have trampled you down. It's a case of wolf eat wolf."
The old railroad builder laughed harshly. This was the first time
in his experience that a subordinate had so analyzed him to his
"So I'm a wolf, am I?"
"In one sense of the word you're not that at all, sir. You're a
great builder. You've done more for the Northwest than any man
living. You couldn't have done it if you had been squeamish. I
hold the end justifies the means. What you've got is yours because
you've won it. Men who do a great work for the public are entitled
to great rewards."
"Glad to know you've got more sense than that fool cousin of
yours. Now go home and beat him. I don't care how you do it, just
so that you get results. Spend what money you need. but make good,
young man--make good."
"I'll do my best," James promised.
"All I demand is that you win. I'm not interested in the method
you use. But put that cousin of yours out of the demagogue
business if you have to shanghai him."
James laughed. "That might not be a bad way to get rid of him till
after the election. The word would leak out that he had been
The old buccaneer's eyes gleamed. He was as daring a lawbreaker as
ever built or wrecked a railroad. "Have you the nerve, young man?"
"When I'm working for you, sir," retorted James coolly.
"What do you mean by that?"
"If I've studied your career to any purpose, sir, one thing stands
out pretty clear. You haven't the slightest respect for law merely
as law. When it's on your side you're a stickler for it; when it
isn't you say nothing, but brush it aside as if it did not exist.
In either case you get what you want."
"I'm glad you've noticed that last point. Now we'll have
luncheon." He smiled grimly. "I daresay you'll enjoy it no less
because I stole it from the horny hand of labor, by your mad
cousin's way of it."
"Not a bit," answered James cheerfully.
"Must it be? Must we then
Render back to God again
This, His broken work, this thing
For His man that once did sing?"
--Josephine Prestor Peabody.
"And listen! I declare to you that if all is as you say--and I do
not doubt it--you have never ceased to be virtuous in the sight of
THE REBEL PROVES THAT HE IS LOST TO GOOD FORM AND RESPECTABILITY
BY STEPPING BETWEEN A SINNER AND THE WAGES OF SIN, THUS EVIDENCING
TO THE PILLARS OF SOCIETY HIS COMPLETE DEGENERATION
Sam Miller came into Jeff's office one night as he was looking
over the editorials. Farnum nodded abstractedly to him.
"Take a chair, Sam. Be through in a minute."
Presently Jeff pushed the galley proof to one side and looked at
his friend. "Well, Sam?" Almost at once he added: "What's the
There were queer white patches on Miller's fat face. He looked
like a man in hell. A lump rose in his throat. Two or three times
he swallowed hard.
Jeff felt as if his heart had been drenched in icy water. "What
"We don't know. She left Friday. There was a note for her mother.
It said to forget her, because she was a disgrace to her name."
"You mean--" Jeff did not finish his question. He knew what the
answer was, and in his soul lay a reflection of the mortal
sickness he saw in his friend's face.
Miller nodded, unable to speak. Presently his words came brokenly.
"She's been acting strangely for a long time. Her mother noticed
it. . . . So did I. Like as if she wasn't happy. We've been
worried. I . . .I . . ." He buried his face in his arm on the
table. "My God, I love her, Jeff. I have for years. If I'd only
known . . . if she'd only told me."
Jeff was white as the galley proof that lay before him with the
unprinted side up. "Tell me all about it, Sam."
Miller looked up. "That's all. We don't know where she's gone. She
had no money to speak of."
"And the man?" Jeff almost whispered.
"We don't know who he is. Might be any one of the clerks at the
Verden Dry Goods Company.
Maybe it's none of them. If I knew I'd cut his heart out."
The clock on the wall ticked ten times before Jeff spoke. "Did she
"We don't know. None of the clerks are missing from the store
where she worked. I checked up with the manager yesterday."
Another long silence. "They may have rooms in town here."
"Not likely." Presently Miller added miserably: "She's--going to
be a mother soon. We found the doctor she went to see."
"You're sure she hasn't been married? Of course you've looked over
the marriage licenses for the past year."
"Yes. Her name isn't on the list."
"Did she have money?"
"About fifteen dollars, we figure."
"That wouldn't take her far--unless the man gave her some. Have
you been to a detective agency?"
"We'll put blind ads in all the papers telling her to come home.
We'll rake the city and the state with a fine tooth comb. We're
bound to hear of her."
"She's desperate, Jeff. If she's alone she'll think she has no
friends. We've got to find her in time or--"
Jeff guessed the alternative. She might take the easy way out, the
one which offered an escape from all her earthly troubles. Girls
of her type often did. Nellie was made for laughter and for
happiness. He had known her innocent as a sunbeam and as glad. Now
that she was in the pit, facing disgrace and disillusionment and
despair, the horror and the dread of existence to her would be a
millstone round her neck.
The damnable unfairness of it took. Jeff by the throat. Was it her
fault that she had inherited a temperament where passions lurked
unsuspected like a banked fire? Was she to blame because her
mother had brought her up without warning, because she had
believed in the love and the honor of a villain? Her very faith
and trust had betrayed her. Every honest instinct in him cried out
against the world's verdict, that she must pay with salt tears to
the end of her life while the scoundrel who had led her into
trouble walked gaily to fresh conquests.
Cogged dice! She had gone forth smiling to play the game of life
with them, never dreaming that the cubes were loaded. He
remembered how once her every motion sang softly to him like
music, with what dear abandon she had given herself to his kisses.
Her fondness had been a thing to cherish, her innocence had called
for protection. And her chivalrous lover had struck the lightness
forever from her soul.
For long he never thought of her without an icy sinking of the
Weeks passed. Sam Miller gave his whole time to the search for the
missing girl. Jeff supplied the means; in every way he could he
encouraged him and the broken mother. For a thousand miles south
and east the police had her description and her photograph. But no
trace of her could be found. False clews there were aplenty. A
dozen haggard streetwalkers were arrested in mistake for her.
Patiently Sam ran down every story, followed every possibility to
its hopeless end.
The weeks ran into months. Mrs. Anderson still hoped drearily.
Every night the light in the hall burned now till daybreak. And
every night she wept herself to sleep for that her one ewe lamb
was lost in a ravenous world.
Tears were for the night. Wan smiles for the day, when she and
Sam, drawn close by a common grief, met to understand each other
with few words. He was back again at his work as curator of the
museum at the State House, a place Jeff had secured for him after
Outside of Nellie's mother the one friend to whom Sam turned now
was Jeff. He came for comfort, to sit long hours in the office
while Farnum did his night work. Sometimes he would read; more
often sit brooding with his chin in his hands. When the midnight
rush was past and Jeff was free they would go together to a
Afterwards they would separate at the door of the block where Jeff
had his rooms.
Yet when Jeff found her it was not Sam who was with him, but
Marchant. They had been to see Sobieski about a place Captain
Chunn had secured for him as a night watchman of the shipbuilding
plant of which Clinton Rogers was part owner. The Pole had mounted
his hobby and it had been late when they got away from his cabin
under the viaduct.
Just before they turned into lower Powers Avenue from the deadline
below Yarnell Way, Marchant clutched at the sleeve of his friend.
"See that woman's face?" he asked sharply.
Jeff was interested at once. For during the past months he had
fallen into a habit of scanning the countenance of any woman who
might be the one they sought.
"She knew you. I could see fear jump to her eyes."
"We'll go back," Jeff decided instantly.
"She's in deep water. Death is written on her face."
Already Jeff was swinging back, almost on the run. But she had
gone swallowed up in the darkness of the night. They listened, but
could hear only the steady splashing of the rain. While they stood
hesitating the figure of a woman showed at the other end of the
alley and was lost at once down Pacific Avenue.
Jeff ran toward the lights of the other avenue, but before he
reached it she had again disappeared. Marchant joined him a few
moments later. The little socialist leaned against the wall to
steady himself against the fit of coughing that racked him.
"Nuisance . . . this . . . being a lunger. . . What's it all . . .
"I know her. We'll cover the waterfront. Take from Coffee Street
up. Don't miss a wharf or a boathouse. And if you find the girl
don't let her get away."
The editor crossed to the Pacific & Alaska dock, his glance
sweeping every dark nook and cranny that might conceal a huddled
form. Out of a sodden sky rain pelted in a black night.
He was turning away when an empty banana crate behind him crashed
down from a pyramid of them. Jeff whirled, was upon her in an
instant before she could escape.
She was shrinking against the wall of the warehouse, her face a
tragic mask in its haggard pallor, a white outline clenched hard
against the driving rain. One hand was at her heart, the other
beat against the air to hold him back.
"Nellie!" he cried.
"What do you want? Let me alone! Let me alone!" She was panting
like a spent deer, and in her wild eyes he saw the hunted look of
a forest creature at bay.
"We've looked everywhere for you. I've come to take you home."
"Home!" Her strange laughter mocked the word. "There's no home for
folks like me in this world."
"Your mother is breaking her heart for you. She thinks of nothing
else. All night she keeps a light burning to let you know."
She broke into a sob. "I've seen it. To-night I saw it--for the
"It is pitiful how she waits and waits," he went on quietly. "She
takes out your dresses and airs them. All the playthings you used
when you were a little girl she keeps near her. She--"
"Don't! Don't!" she begged.
"Your place is set at the table every day, so that when you come
in it may be ready."
At that she leaned against the crates and broke down utterly. Jeff
knew that for the moment the battle was won. He slipped out of his
rain coat and made her put it on, coaxing her gently while the
sobs shook her. He led her by the hand back to Pacific Avenue,
talking cheerfully as if it were a matter of course.
Here Marchant met them.
"I want a cab, Oscar," Jeff told him.
While he was gone they waited in the entrance to a store that
sheltered them from the rain.
Suddenly the girl turned to Jeff. "I--I was going to do it to-
night," she whispered.
He nodded. "That's all past now. Don't think of it. There are good
days ahead--happy days. It will be new life to your mother to see
you. We've all been frightfully anxious."
She shivered, beginning to sob once more. Not for an instant had
he withdrawn the hand to which she clung so desperately.
"It's all right, Nellie. . .All right at last. You're going home
to those that love you."
"Not to-night--not while I'm looking like this. Don't take me home
to-night," she begged. "I can't stand it yet. Give me to-night,
please. I . . ."
She trembled like an aspen. Jeff could see she was exhausted, in
deadly fear, ready to give way to any wild impulse that might
seize her. To reason with her would do no good and might do much
harm. He must humor her fancy about not going home at once. But he
could not take her to a rooming house and leave her alone while
her mind was in this condition. She must be watched, protected
against herself. Otherwise in the morning she might be gone.
"All right. You may have my rooms. Here's the cab."
Jeff helped her in, thanked Marchant with a word, got in himself,
and shut the door. They were driven through streets shining with
rain beneath the light clusters. Nellie crouched in a corner and
wept. As they swung down Powers Avenue they passed motor car after
motor car filled with gay parties returning from the theaters. He
glimpsed young women in furs, wrapped from the cruelty of life by
the caste system in which wealth had incased them. Once a ripple
of merry laughter floated to him across the gulf that separated
this girl from them.
A year ago her laughter had been light as theirs. Life had been a
thing beautiful, full of color. She had come to it eagerly, like a
lover, glad because it was so good.
But it had not been good to her. By the cluster lights he could
see how fearfully it had mauled her, how cruelly its irony had
kissed hollows in her young cheeks. All the bloom of her was gone,
all the brave pride and joy of youth--gone beyond hope of
resurrection. Why must such things be? Why so much to the few, so
little to the many? And why should that little be taken away? He
saw as in a vision the infinite procession of her hopeless sisters
who had traveled the same road, saw them first as sweet and
carefree children bubbling with joy, and again, after the _World_
had misused them for its pleasure, haggard, tawdry, with dragging
steps trailing toward the oblivion that awaited them. Good God,
how long must life be so terribly wasted? How long a bruised and
broken thing instead of the fine, brave adventure for which it was
Across his mind flashed Realf's words:
"Amen!" I have cried in battle-time,
When my beautiful heroes perished;
The earth of the Lord shall bloom sublime
By the blood of his martyrs nourished.
"Amen!" I have said, when limbs were hewn
And our wounds were blue and ghastly
The flesh of a man may fail and swoon
But God shall conquer lastly.
As Jeff helped her from the cab in front of the block where he
lived a limousine flashed past. It caught his glance for an
instant, long enough for him to recognize his Cousin James, Mrs.
Van Tyle and Alice Frome. The arm which supported Nellie did not
loosen from her waist, though he knew they had seen him and would
probably draw conclusions.
The young woman was trembling violently.
"My rooms are in the second story. Can you walk? Or shall I carry
you?" Farnum asked.
"I can walk," she told him almost in a whisper.
He got her upstairs and into the big armchair in front of the gas
log. Now that she had slipped out of his rain coat he saw that she
was wet to the skin. From his bedroom he brought a bathrobe,
pajamas, woolen slippers, anything he could find that was warm and
soft. In front of her he dumped them all.
"I'm going down to the drug store to get you something that will
warm you, Nellie. While I'm away change your clothes and get into
these things," he told her.
She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. "You're good."
A lump rose in his heart. He thought of those evenings before the
grate alone with her and of the desperate fight he had had with
his passions. Good! He accused himself bitterly for the harm that
he had done her. But before her his smile was bright and cheerful.
"We're all going to be so good to you that you'll not know us.
Haven't we been waiting two months for a chance to spoil you?"
"Do you . . . know?" she whispered, color for an instant in her
"I know things aren't half so bad as they seem to you. Dear girl,
we are your friends. We've not done right by you. Even your mother
has been careless and let you get hurt. But we're going to make it
up to you now."
A man on the other side of the street watched Jeff come down and
cross to the drug store. Billie Gray, ballot box stuffer,
detective, and general handy man for Big Tim O'Brien, had been
lurking in that entry when Jeff came home. He had sneaked up the
stairs after them and had seen the editor disappear into his rooms
with one whom he took to be a woman of the street. Already a
second plain clothes man was doing sentry duty. The policeman
whose beat it was sat in the drug store and kept an eye open from
To the officer Jeff nodded casually. "Bad weather to be out all
night in, Nolan."
"Right you are, Mr. Farnum."
The editor ordered a bottle of whiskey and while it was being put
up passed into the telephone booth and closed the door behind him.
He called up Olive 43I.
Central rang again and again.
"Can't get your party," she told him at last.
"You'll waken him presently. Keep at it, please. It's very
At last Sam Miller's voice answered. "Hello! Hello! What is it?"
"I've found Nellie. . . . Just in time. thank God. . .She's at my
rooms. . . . Have Mrs. Anderson bring an entire change of clothing
for her. . . . Yes, she's very much exhausted. I'll tell you all
about it later.... Come quietly. She may be asleep when you get
Jeff hung up the receiver, paid for the whiskey, and returned to
his rooms. He did not know that he had left three good and
competent witnesses who were ready to take oath that he had
brought to his rooms at midnight a woman of the half world and
that he had later bought liquor and returned with it to his
Billie Gray thumped his fist into his open palm. "We've got him.
We've got him right. He can't get away from it. By Gad, we've got
him at last!"
Jeff found Nellie wrapped in his bathrobe in the big chair before
the gas log. Her own wet clothes were out of sight behind a
"You locked the door when you went out," she charged.
"Some of my friends might have dropped in to see me," he explained
with his disarming smile.
But he could see in her eyes the unreasoning fear of a child that
has been badly hurt. He had locked the door on the outside. She
was going to be dragged home whether she wanted to go or not.
Dread of that hour was heavy on her soul. Jeff knew the choice
must be hers, not his. He spoke quietly.
"You're not a prisoner, of course. You may go whenever you like. I
would have no right to keep you. But you will hurt me very much if
you go before morning."
"Where will you stay?" she asked.
"I'll sleep on the lounge in this room," he answered in his most
matter of fact voice.
While he busied himself preparing a toddy for her she began to
tell brokenly, by snatches, the story of her wanderings. She had
gone to Portland and had found work in a department store at the
notion counter. After three weeks she had lost her place. Days of
tramping the streets looking for a job brought her at last to an
overall factory where she found employment. The foreman had
discharged her at the end of the third day. Once she had been
engaged at an agency as a servant by a man, but as soon as his
wife saw her Nellie was told she would not do. Bitter humiliating
experiences had befallen her. Twice she had been turned out of
rooming houses. Jeff read between the lines that as her time drew
near some overmastering impulse had drawn her back to Verden.
Already she was harboring the thought of death, but she could not
die in a strange place so far from home. Only that morning she had
After she had retired to the bedroom Jeff sat down in the chair
she had vacated. He heard her moving about for a short time.
Presently came silence.
It must have been an hour and a half later that Sam and Mrs.
Anderson knocked gently on the door.
"Cars stopped running. Had to 'phone for a taxi," Miller
The agitation of the mother was affecting. Her fingers twitched
with nervousness. Her eyes strayed twenty times in five minutes
toward the door behind which her daughter slept. Every little
while she would tip-toe to it and listen breathlessly. In whispers
Jeff told them the story, answering a hundred eager trembling
Slowly the clock ticked out the seconds of the endless night. Gray
day began to sift into the room. Mrs. Anderson's excursions to the
bedroom door grew more frequent. Sometimes she opened it an inch
or two. On one of these occasions she went in quickly and shut the
door behind her.
"Good enough. They don't need us here, Sam. We'll go out and have
some breakfast," Jeff proposed.
On the street they met Billie Gray. He greeted the editor with a
knowing grin. "Good morning, Mr. Farnum. How's everything? Fine
and dandy, eh?"
Jeff looked at him sharply. "What the mischief is he doing here?"
he asked Miller by way of comment.
All through breakfast that sinister little figure shadowed his
thoughts. Gray was like a stormy petrel. He was surely there for
no good, barring the chance of its being an accident. Both of them
kept their eyes open on their way back, but they met nobody except
a policeman swinging his club as he leaned against a lamp post and
whistled the Merry Widow waltz.
But Farnum was not satisfied. He cautioned both Sam and Mrs.
Anderson to say nothing, above all to give no names or explanation
to anybody. A whisper of the truth would bring reporters down on
them in shoals.
"You had better stay here quietly to-day," their host advised.
"I'll see you're not disturbed by the help. Sam will bring your
meals in from a restaurant. I'd say stay here as long as you like,
but it can't be done without arousing curiosity, the one thing we
"No, better leave late to-night in a taxi," Sam proposed.
"Better still, I'll bring around Captain Chunn's car and Sam can
drive you home. We can't be too careful."
So it was arranged. Mrs. Anderson left it to them and went back
into the bedroom where her wounded lamb lay.
About midnight Jeff stopped a car in front of the stairway. The
two veiled women emerged, accompanied by Sam. They were helped
into the tonneau and Miller took the driver's seat. Just as the
machine began to move a little man ran across the street toward
Jeff's forearm went up suddenly and caught him under the chin.
Billie Gray's head went back and his heels came up. Farnum was on
him in an instant, ostensibly to help him up, but really to see he
did not get up too quickly. As soon as the automobile swung round
the corner Jeff lifted him to his feet.
"Sorry. Hope I didn't hurt you," he smiled.
"Smart trick, wasn't it?" snarled the detective. "Never mind, Mr.
Farnum. We've got your goat right."
"Again?" Jeff asked with pleasant impudence.
"Got you dead to rights this trip." Gray fired another shot as he
turned away. "And we'll find out yet who your lady friends are.
Don't you forget it."
But Billie had overlooked a bet. He had been in the back of the
drug store getting a drink when Sam and Mrs. Anderson arrived. The
policeman on guard had not connected the coming of these with
Jeff. None of the watchers knew that Jeff had not been alone with
the girl all night.
Sam called on Jeff two days later.
"I want you to come round to-night at seven-fifteen. We're going
to be married," he explained.
The newspaper man's eye met his in a swift surprise. "You and
"Yes." Miller's jaw set. "Why not? YOU'RE not going to spring that
damned cant about--"
"I thought you knew me better," his friend interrupted.
Miller's face worked. "I'll ask your pardon for that, Jeff. You've
been the best friend she has. Well, we've thrashed it all out. She
fought her mother and me two days; didn't think it right to let me
give my name to her, even though she admits she has come to care
for me. You can see how she would be torn two ways. It's the only
road out for her and the baby that is on the way, but she couldn't
bring herself to sacrifice me, as she calls it. I've hammered and
hammered at her that it's no sacrifice. She can't see it; just
cries and cries."
"Of course she would be unusually sensitive; Her nerves must be
all bare so that she shrinks as one does when a wound is touched."
"That's it. She keeps speaking of herself as if she were a lost
soul. At last we fairly wore her out. After we are married her
mother and she will take the eight o'clock for Kenton. Nobody
there knows them, and she'll have a chance to forget."
"You're a white man, Sam," Jeff nodded lightly. But his eyes were
"I'm the man that loves her. I couldn't do less, could I?"
"Some men would do a good deal less."
"Not if they looked at it the way I do. She's the same Nellie I've
always known. What difference does it make to me that she stumbled
in the dark and hurt herself--except that my heart is so much more
tender to her it aches?"
"If you hold to that belief she'll live to see the day when she is
a happy woman again," the journalist prophesied.
"I'm going to teach her to think of it all as only a bad nightmare
she's been through." His jaw clinched again so that the muscles
stood out on his cheeks. "Do you know she won't say a word--not
even to her mother--about who the villain is that betrayed her?
I'd wring his coward neck off for him," he finished with a savage
"Better the way it is, Sam. Let her keep her secret.. The least
said and thought about it the better."
Miller looked at his watch. "Perhaps you're right. I've got to go
to work. Remember, seven-fifteen sharp. We need you as a witness.
Just your business suit, you understand. No present, of course."
The wedding took place in the room where Jeff had been used to
drinking chocolate with his little friend only a year before. It
was the first time he had been here since that night when the
danger signal had flashed so suddenly before his eyes. The whole
thing came back to him poignantly.
It was a pitiful little wedding, with the bride and her mother in
tears from the start. The ceremony was performed by their friend
Mifflin, the young clergyman who had a mission for sailors on the
waterfront. Nobody else was present except Marchant, the second
As soon as the ceremony was finished Sam put Nellie and her mother
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