Vera, The Medium
Richard Harding Davis
Part 1 out of 3
Prepared by Jeetender B Chandna
Vera, The Medium
by Richard Harding Davis
Happy in the hope that the news was "exclusive", the Despatch
had thrown the name of Stephen Hallowell, his portrait, a
picture of his house, and the words, "At Point of Death!" across
three columns. The announcement was heavy, lachrymose, bristling
with the melancholy self-importance of the man who "saw the
deceased, just two minutes before the train hit him."
But the effect of the news fell short of the effort. Save that
city editors were irritated that the presidents of certain
railroads figured hastily on slips of paper, the fact that an
old man and his millions would soon be parted, left New York
In the early 80's this would not have been so. Then, in the
uplifting of the far West, Stephen Hallowell was a national
figure, in the manoeuvres of the Eastern stock market an active,
alert power. In those days, when a man with a few millions was
still listed as rich, his fortune was considered colossal.
A patent coupling-pin, the invention of his brother-in-law, had
given him his start, and, in introducing it, and in his efforts
to force it upon the new railroads of the West, he had obtained
a knowledge of their affairs. From that knowledge came his
wealth. That was twenty years ago. Since then giants had arisen
in the land; men whose wealth made the fortune of Stephen
Hallowell appear a comfortable competence, his schemes and
stratagems, which, in their day, had bewildered Wall Street, as
simple as the trading across the counter of a cross-roads store.
For years he had been out of it. He had lost count. Disuse and
ill health had rendered his mind feeble, made him at times
suspicious, at times childishly credulous. Without friends,
along with his physician and the butler, who was also his nurse,
he lived in the house that in 76, in a burst of vanity, he had
built on Fifth Avenue. Then the house was a "mansion," and its
front of brown sandstone the outward sign of wealth and fashion.
Now, on one side, it rubbed shoulders with the shop of a man
milliner, and across the street the houses had been torn down
and replaced by a department store. Now, instead of a sombre
jail-like facade, his outlook was a row of waxen ladies, who,
before each change of season, appeared in new and gorgeous
raiment, and, across the avenue, for his approval, smiled
"It is time you moved, Stephen," urged his friend and lawyer,
Judge Henry Gaylor. "I can get you twice as much for this lot as
you paid for both it and the house."
But Mr. Hallowell always shook his head. " Where would I go,
Henry?" he would ask. "What would I do with the money? No, I
will live in this house until I am carried out of it."
With distaste, the irritated city editors "followed up" the
three-column story of the Despatch.
"Find out if there's any truth in that," they commanded. "The
old man won't see you, but get a talk out of Rainey. And see
Judge Gaylor. He's close to Hallowell. Find out from him if that
story didn't start as a bear yarn in Wall Street."
So, when Walsh of the Despatch was conducted by Garrett, the
butler of Mr. Hallowell, upstairs to that gentlemen's library,
he found a group of reporters already entrenched. At the door
that opened from the library to the bedroom, the butler paused.
"What paper shall I say?" he asked.
"The Despatch," Walsh told him.
The servant turned quickly and stared at Walsh.
He appeared the typical butler, an Englishman of over forty,
heavily built, soft- moving, with ruddy, smooth-shaven cheeks
and prematurely gray hair. But now from his face the look of
perfunctory politeness had fallen; the subdued voice had changed
to a snarl that carried with it the accents of the Tenderloin.
"So, you're the one, are you?" the man muttered.
For a moment he stood scowling; insolent, almost threatening,
and then, once more, the servant opened the door and noiselessly
closed it behind him.
The transition had been so abrupt, the revelation so unexpected,
that the men laughed.
"I don't blame him!" said young Irving. "I couldn't find a
single fact in the whole story. How'd your people get it --
"Seemed straight to us," said Walsh.
"Well, you didn't handle it that way," returned the other. "Why
didn't you quote Rainey or Gaylor? It seems to me if a man's on
the point of death" -- he lowered his voice and glanced toward
the closed door -- "that his private doctor and his lawyer might
know something about it."
Standing alone with his back to the window was a reporter who
had greeted no one and to whom no one had spoken.
Had he held himself erect he would have been tall, but he stood
slouching lazily, his shoulders bent, his hands in his pockets.
When he spoke his voice was in keeping with the indolence of his
bearing. It was soft, hesitating, carrying with it the courteous
deference of the South. Only his eyes showed that to what was
going forward he was alert and attentive.
"Is Dr. Rainey Mr. Hallowell's family doctor?" he asked.
Irving surveyed him in amused superiority.
"He is!" he answered. You been long in New York?" he asked.
Upon the stranger the sarcasm was lost, or he chose to ignore
it, for he answered simply, "No, I'm a New Orleans boy. I've
just been taken on the Republic."
"Welcome to our city," said Irving. "What do you think of our
From the hall a tall portly man entered the room with the
assurance of one much at home here and, with an exclamation,
Irving fell upon him.
"Good morning, Judge," he called. He waved at him the clipping
from the Despatch. "Have you seen this?"
Judge Gaylor accepted the slip of paper gingerly, and in turn
moved his fine head pompously toward each of the young men. Most
of them were known to him, but for the moment he preferred to
appear too deeply concerned to greet them. With an expression of
shocked indignation, he recognized only Walsh.
"Yes, I have seen it," he said, "and there is not a word of
truth in it! Mr. Walsh, I am surprised! You, of all people!"
"We got it on very good authority," said the reporter.
"But why not call me up and get the facts?" demanded the Judge.
"I was here until twelve o'clock, and -- "
"Here!" interrupted Irving. "Then he did have a collapse?"
Judge Gaylor swung upon his heel.
"Certainly not," he retorted angrily. "I was here on business,
and I have never known his mind more capable, more alert." He
lifted his hands with an enthusiastic gesture. "I wish you could
have seen him!"
"Well," urged Irving, "how about our seeing him now?"
For a moment Judge Gaylor permitted his annoyance to appear, but
he at once recovered and, murmuring cheerfully, "Certainly,
certainly; I'll try to arrange it," turned to the butler who had
re-entered the room.
"Garett," he inquired, "is Mr. Hallowell awake yet?" As he asked
the question his eyebrows rose; with an almost imperceptible
shake of the head he signaled for an answer in the negative.
"Well, there you are!" the Judge exclaimed heartily. "I can't
wake him, even to oblige you. In a word, gentlemen, Stephen
Hallowell has never been in better health, mentally and bodily.
You can say that from me -- and that's all there is to say."
"Then, we can say," persisted Irving, "that you say, that
Walsh's story is a fake?"
"You can say it is not true," corrected Gaylor. "That's all,
gentlemen." The audience was at an end. The young men moved
toward the hall and Judge Gaylor turned to the bedroom. As he
did so, he found that the new man on the Republic still held his
"Could I have a word with you, sir?" the stranger asked. The
reporters halted jealously. Again Gaylor showed his impatience.
"About Mr. Hallowell's health?" he demanded. "There's nothing
more to say."
"No, it's not about his health," ventured the reporter.
"Well, not now. I am very late this morning." The Judge again
moved to the bedroom and the reporter, as though accepting the
verdict, started to follow the others. As he did so, as though
in explanation or as a warning he added: "You said to always
come to you for the facts." The lawyer halted, hesitated. "What
facts do you want?" he asked. The reporter bowed, and waved his
broad felt hat toward the listening men. In polite embarrassment
he explained what he had to say could not be spoken in their
Something in the manner of the stranger led Judge Gaylor to
pause. He directed Garrett to accompany the reporters from the
room. Then, with mock politeness, he turned to the one who
remained. "I take it, you are a new comer in New York
journalism. What is your name?" he asked.
"My name is Homer Lee," said the Southerner. "I am a New Orleans
boy. I've been only a month in your city. Judge," he began
earnestly, but in a voice which still held the drawl of the
South, "I met a man from home last week on Broadway. He belonged
to that spiritualistic school on Carondelet Street. He knows all
that's going on in the spook world, and he tells me the ghost
raisers have got their hooks into the old man pretty deep. Is
The bewilderment of Judge Gaylor was complete and, without
"I don't know what you mean," he said.
"My informant tells me," continued the reporter, "that Mr.
Hallowell has embraced -- if that's what you call it --
Gaylor started forward.
"What!" he roared.
Unmoved, the other regarded the Judge keenly.
"Spiritualism," he repeated, "and that a bunch of these mediums
have got him so hypnotized he can't call his soul his own, or
his money, either. Is that true?"
Judge Gaylor's outburst was overwhelming. That it was genuine
Mr. Lee, observing him closely, was convinced.
"Of all the outrageous, ridiculous" -- the judge halted, gasping
for words -- "and libelous statements!" he went on. "If you
print that," he thundered, "Mr. Hallowell will sue your paper
for half a million dollars. Can't you see the damage you would
do? Can't your people see that if the idea got about that he was
unable to direct his own affairs, that he was in the hands of
mediums, it would invalidate everything he does? After his
death, every act of his at this time, every paper he had signed,
would be suspected, and -- and" -- stammered the Judge as his
imagination pictured what might follow -- "they might even
attack his will!" He advanced truculently. "Do you mean to
publish this libel?"
Lee moved his shoulders in deprecation. "I'm afraid we must," he
"You must!" demanded Gaylor. "After what I've told you? Do you
think I'm lying to you?"
"No," said the reporter; "I don't think you are. Looks more like
you didn't know."
"Not know? I?" Gaylor laughed hysterically. "I am his lawyer. I
am his best friend! Who will you believe?" He stepped to the
table and pressed an electric button, and Garrett appeared in
the hall. "Tell Dr. Rainey I want to see him," Gaylor commanded,
"and return with him."
As they waited, Judge Gaylor paced quickly to and fro. "I've had
to deny some pretty silly stories about Mr. Hallowell," he said,
"but of all the absurd, malicious - - There's some enemy back of
this; some one in Wall Street is doing this. But I'll find him
-- I'll -- " he was interrupted by the entrance of the butler
and Dr. Rainey, Mr. Hallowell's personal physician.
Rainey was a young man with a weak face, and knowing, shifting
eyes that blinked behind a pair of eyeglasses. To conceal an
indecision of character of which he was quite conscious, he
assumed a manner that, according to whom he addressed, was
familiar or condescending. At one of the big hospitals he had
been an ambulance surgeon and resident physician, later he had
started upon a somewhat doubtful career as a medical "expert."
Only two years had passed since the police and the reporters of
the Tenderloin had ceased calling him "Doc." In a celebrated
criminal case in which Gaylor had acted as chief counsel, he had
found Rainey complaisant and apparently totally without the
moral sense. And when in Garrett he had discovered for Mr.
Hallowell a model servant, he had also urged upon his friend,
for his resident physician, his protege Rainey.
Still at white heat, the older man began abruptly: "This
gentleman is from the Republic. He is going to publish a story
that Mr. Hallowell has fallen under the influence of mediums,
clairvoyants; that everything he does is on advice from the
spirit world -- " he turned sharply upon Lee. "Is that right?"
The reporter nodded.
"You can see the effect of such a story. It would invalidate
every act of Mr. Hallowell's!"
Dr. Rainey laughed offensively.
"It might," he said, "but who'd believe it?"
"He believes it!" cried Gaylor, "or he pretends to believe it.
Tell him!" he commanded. "He won't believe me. Does Mr.
Hallowell associate with mediums, and spirits -- and spooks?"
Again the young doctor laughed.
"Of course not!" he exclaimed. "It's not worth answering, Judge.
You ought to treat it with silent contempt." From behind his
glasses he winked at the reporter with a jocular, intimate
smile. He was adapting himself to what he imagined was his
company. "Where did you pick up that pipe dream?" he asked.
Without answering, the Southerner regarded him steadily with
inquiring, interested eyes. The doctor coughed nervously and
turned to Judge Gaylor. In the manner of a cross-examination
Gaylor called up his next witness.
"Garrett, does any one visit Mr. Hallowell without your
knowledge?" he asked. You may not open the door for him, but you
know every one who gets in to see Mr. Hallowell, do you not?"
"Every one, sir."
"Do you admit any mediums, palm-readers, or people of that
"Certainly not," returned the butler.
"Dr. Rainey," he added, "would not permit it, sir."
Gaylor stamped his foot with impatience.
"Do you admit any one," he demanded, "without Dr. Rainey's
"No, sir!" The reply could not have rung with greater emphasis.
Triumphantly, Gaylor, with a wave of the hand, as though saying,
"Take the witness," turned to Lee. "There you are," he cried.
"Now, are you satisfied?"
The reporter moved slowly toward the door. "I am satisfied," he
said, "that the man doesn't admit any one without Dr. Rainey's
Indignantly, as though to intercept him, Judge Gaylor stepped
forward. Both Rainey and himself spoke together.
"What do you mean by that?" Rainey demanded.
"Are you trying to be insolent, sir?" cried the Judge.
Lee smiled pleasantly. "I had no intention of being insolent,"
he said. "We have the facts -- I only came to give you a chance
to explain them."
Gaylor lost all patience.
"What facts?" he shouted. "What facts? That mediums come here?"
"Yes," said Lee.
"When?" Gaylor cried. "Tell me that! When?"
Lee regarded the older man thoughtfully.
"Well, today is Thursday," he said. "They were here Monday
morning, and Tuesday morning -- and -- the one they call Vera --
will be here in half an hour."
Rainey ran across the room, stretching out eager, detaining
"See here!" he begged. "We can fix this!"
"Fix it?" said the reporter. "Not with me, you can't." He turned
to the door and found Garrett barring his exit. He halted, fell
back on his heels, and straightened his shoulders. For the first
time they saw how tall he was.
"Get out of my way," he said. The butler hesitated and fell
back. Lee walked into the hall.
"I'll leave you gentlemen to fight it out among you," he said.
"It's a better story than I thought."
As he descended to the floor below, the men remained motionless.
The face of Judge Gaylor seemed to have grown older. When the
front door closed, he turned and searched the countenance of
each of his companions. The butler had dropped into a chair
muttering and beating his fist into his open palm.
Gaylor's voice was hardly louder than a whisper. "Is this true?"
Like a cur dog pinned in a corner and forced to fight, Rainey
snarled at him evilly. "Of course it's true," he said.
"You've let these people see him!" cried Gaylor. "After I
forbade it? After I told you what would happen?"
"He would see them," Rainey answered hotly. "Twas better I
chose them than -- "
Gaylor raised his clenched hands and took a sudden step forward.
The Doctor backed hastily against the library table. "Don't you
come near me!" he stammered. "Don't you touch me."
"And you've lied to me!" cried Gaylor. "You've deceived me. You
-- you jailbirds -- you idiots." His voice rose hysterically.
"And do you think," he demanded fiercely, "I'll help you now?"
"No!" said the butler.
The word caught the Judge in the full rush of his anger. He
turned stupidly as though he had not heard aright. "What?" he
asked. From the easy chair the butler regarded him with sullen,
"No!" he repeated. "We don't think you'll help us. You never
meant to help us. You've never thought of any one but yourself."
The face of the older man was filled with reproach.
"Jim!" he protested.
"Don't do that!" commanded the butler sharply. "I've told you
not to do that."
The Judge moved his head slowly in amazement. The tone of
reproach was still in his voice.
"I thought you could understand," he said. "It doesn't matter
about him. But you! You should have seen what I was doing!"
"I saw what you were doing," the butler replied. "Buying stocks,
buying a country place. You didn't wait for him to die. What
were we getting?"
With returning courage, Rainey nodded vigorously.
"That's right, all right," he protested. "What were we getting?"
"What were you getting?" demanded Gaylor, eagerly. "If you'd
only left him to me, till he signed the new will, you'd have had
everything. It only needs his signature."
"Yes," interrupted Garrett contemptuously; that's all it needs."
"Oh, he'd have signed it!" cried Gaylor. "But what's it worth
now! Nothing! Thanks to you two -- nothing! They'll claim undue
influence, they'll claim he signed it under the influence of
mediums -- of ghosts." His voice shook with anger and distress.
"You've ruined me!" he cried. "You've ruined me."
He turned and paced from them, his fingers interlacing, his
teeth biting upon his lower lip. The two other men glanced at
each other uncomfortably; their silence seemed to assure Gaylor
that already they regretted what they had done. He stood over
Garrett, and for an instant laid his hand upon his shoulder. His
voice now was sane and cold.
"I've worked three years for this," he said. "And for you, too,
Jim. You know that. I've worked on his vanity, on his fear of
death, on his damn superstition. When he talked of restitution,
of giving the money to his niece, I asked Why?' I said, Leave it
for a great monument to your memory. Isn't it better that ten
million dollars should be spent in good works in your name than
that it should go to a chit of a child to be wasted by some
fortune hunter? And -- then -- I evolved the Hallowell
Institute, university, hospital, library, all under one roof,
all under one direction; and I would have been the director. We
should have handled ten millions of dollars! I'd have made you
both so rich," he cried savagely, "that in two years you'd have
drunk yourselves into a mad-house. And you couldn't trust me!
You've filled this house with fakes and palm-readers. And, now,
every one will know just what he is -- a senile, half-witted old
man who was clay in my hands, clay in my hands -- and you've
robbed me of him, you've robbed me of him!" His voice, broken
with anger and disappointment, rose in an hysterical wail. As
though to meet it a bell rang shrilly. Gaylor started and stood
with eyes fixed on the door of the bedroom. The three men eyed
each other guiltily.
The butler was the first to recover. With mask-like face he
hastened noiselessly across the room. In his tones of usual
authority, Gaylor stopped him.
"Tell Mr. Hallowell," he directed, "that his niece and District
Attorney Winthrop will be here any moment. Ask him if he wishes
me to see them, or if he will talk to them himself?"
When the faithful servant had entered the bedroom Gaylor turned
"When do these mediums come today?" he asked.
Rainey stared sulkily at the floor.
"I think they're here now -- downstairs," he answered. Garrett
generally hides them there till you're out of the house."
"Indeed," commented Gaylor dryly. "After Winthrop and Miss
Coates have gone, I want to talk with your friends."
"Now, see here, Judge," whined Rainey; "don't make trouble. It
isn't as bad as you think. The old man's only investigating -- "
"Hush!" commanded the Judge.
From the bedroom, leaning on the butler's arm, Stephen
Hallowell came stumbling toward them and, with a sigh, sank into
an invalid's chair that was placed for him between the fire and
the long library table.. He was a very feeble, very old man,
with a white face, and thin, white hair, but with a mouth and
lower jaw as hard and uncompromising as those of a skull. His
eyes, which were strangely brilliant and young-looking, peered
suspiciously from under ragged white eyebrows. But when they
fell upon the doctor, the eyes became suddenly credulous,
pleading, filled with self-pity.
"I'm a very sick man, Doctor," said Mr. Hallowell.
Judge Gaylor bustled forward cheerily. "Nonsense, Stephen,
nonsense," he cried; "you look a different man this morning.
Doesn't he, Doctor?"
"Sure he does!" assented Rainey. "Little sleep was all he
needed." Mr. Hallowell shook his head petulantly. "Not at all!"
he protested. "That was a very serious attack. This morning my
head hurts -- hurts me to think -- "
"Perhaps," said Gaylor, "you'd prefer that I talked to your
"No!" exclaimed the invalid excitedly. "I want to see her
myself. I want to tell her, once and for all -- " He checked
himself and frowned at the Doctor. "You needn't wait," he said.
"And Doctor," he added meaningly, "after these people go, you
With a conscious glance at the Judge, Rainey nodded and left
"No," continued the old man; "I want to talk to my niece myself.
But I don't want to talk to Winthrop. He's too clever a young
man, Winthrop. In the merger case, you remember -- had me on the
stand for three hours. Made me talk too." The mind of the old
man suddenly veered at a tangent. "How the devil can Helen
retain him?" he demanded peevishly. "She can't retain him. She
hasn't any money. And he's District Attorney too. It's against
the law. Is he doing it as a speculation? Does he want to marry
Judge Gaylor laughed soothingly.
"Heavens, no!" he said. "She's in his office, that's all. When
she took this craze to be independent of you, he gave her a
position as secretary, or as stenographer, or something. She's
probably told him her story, her side of it, and he's helping
her out of charity.:" The Judge smiled tolerantly. "He does that
sort of thing, I believe."
The old man struck the library table with his palm. "I wish he'd
mind his own business," he cried. "It's my money. She has no
claim to it, never had any claim --"
The Judge interrupted quickly.
"That's all right, Stephen; that's all right," he said. "Don't
excite yourself. Just get what you're to say straight in your
mind and stick to it. Remember," he went on, as though coaching
a child in a task already learned, "there never was a written
"No!" muttered Hallowell. "Never was!"
"Repeat this to yourself," commanded the Judge. "The
understanding between you and your brother-in-law was that if
you placed his patent on the market, for the first five years
you would share the profits equally. After the five years, all
rights in the patent became yours. It was unfortunate,"
commented the Judge dryly, "that your brother-in-law and your
sister died before the five years were up, especially as the
patent did not begin to make money until after five years.
Remember -- until after five years."
"Until after five years," echoed Mr. Hallowell. "It was over six
years," he went on excitedly, "before it made a cent. And, then,
it was my money -- and anything I give my niece is charity.
She's not entitled -- "
Garrett appeared at the door. "Miss Coates," he announced, "and
Mr. Winthrop." Judge Gaylor raised a hand for silence, and as
Mr. Hallowell sank back in his chair, Helen Coates, the only
child of Catherine Coates, his sister, and the young District
Attorney of New York came into the library. Miss Coates was a
woman of between twenty-five and thirty, capable, and self-
reliant. She had a certain beauty of a severe type, but an
harassed expression about her eyes made her appear to be always
frowning. At times, in a hardening of the lower part of her
face, she showed a likeness to her uncle. Like him, in speaking,
also, her manner was positive and decided.
In age the young man who accompanied her was ten years her
senior, but where her difficulties had made her appear older
than she really was, the enthusiasm with which he had thrown
himself against those of his own life, had left him young.
The rise of Winthrop had been swift and spectacular. Almost as
soon as he graduated from the college in the little "up-state"
town where he had been educated, and his family had always
lived, he became the prosecuting attorney of that town, and
later, at Albany, represented the district in the Assembly. From
Albany he entered a law office in New York City, and in the
cause of reform had fought so many good fights that on an
independent ticket, much to his surprise, he had been lifted to
the high position he now held. No more in his manner than in his
appearance did Winthrop suggest the popular conception of his
role. He was not professional, not mysterious. Instead, he was
sane, cheerful, tolerant. It was his philosophy to believe that
the world was innocent until it was proved guilty.
He was a bachelor and, except for two sisters who had married
men of prominence in New York and who moved in a world of
fashion into which he had not penetrated, he was alone.
When the visitors entered, Mr. Hallowell, without rising,
greeted his niece cordially.
"Ah, Helen! I am glad to see you," he called, and added
reproachfully, "at last."
"How do you do, sir?" returned Miss Helen stiffly. With marked
disapproval she bowed to Judge Gaylor.
"And our District Attorney," cried Mr. Hallowell. "Pardon my not
rising, won't you? I haven't seen you, sir, since you tried to
get the Grand Jury to indict me." He chucked delightedly. "You
didn't succeed," he taunted.
Winthrop shook hands with him, smiling, "Don't blame me," he
said, "I did my best. I'm glad to see you in such good spirits,
Mr. Hallowell. I feared, by the Despatch -- "
"Lies, lies," interrupted Hallowell curtly. "You know Judge
As he shook hands, Winthrop answered that the Judge and he were
old friends; that they knew each other well.
"Know each other so well!" returned the Judge, "that we ought to
be old enemies."
The younger man nodded appreciatively. "That's true!" he
laughed, "only I didn't think you'd admit it."
With light sarcasm Mr. Hallowell inquired whether Winthrop was
with them in his official capacity.
"Oh, don't suggest that!" begged Winthrop; "you'll be having me
indicted next. No sir, I am here without any excuse whatsoever.
I am just interfering as a friend of this young lady."
"Good," commented Hallowell. "I'd be sorry to have my niece
array counsel against me -- especially such distinguished
counsel. Sit down, Helen."
Miss Coates balanced herself on the edge of a chair and spoke in
cool, business-like tones, "Mr. Hallowell," she began, "I came."
"Mr. Hallowell?" objected her uncle.
"Uncle Stephen," Miss Coates again began, "I wish to be as brief
as possible. I asked you to see me today because I hoped that by
talking things over we might avoid lawsuits and litigation."
Mr. Hallowell nodded his approval. "Yes," he said encouragingly.
"I have told Mr. Winthrop what the trouble is," Miss Coates went
on, "and he agrees with me that I have been very unjustly
treated -- "
"By whom?" interrupted Hallowell.
"By you," said his niece.
"Wait, Helen," commanded the old man. "Have you also told Mr.
Winthrop," he demanded, "that I have made a will in your favor?
That, were I to die tonight, you would inherit ten millions of
dollars? Is that the injustice of which you complain?"
Judge Gaylor gave an exclamation of pleasure.
"Good!" he applauded. "Excellent!"
Hallowell turned indignantly to Winthrop. "And did she tell you
also," he demanded, "that for three years I have urged her to
make a home in this house? That I have offered her an income as
large as I would give my own daughter, and that she has refused
both offers. And what's more" -- in his excitement his voice
rose hysterically -- "by working publicly for her living she has
made me appear mean and uncharitable, and -- "
"That's just it," interrupted Miss Coates. "It isn't a question
"Will you allow me?" said Winthrop soothingly. "Your niece
contends, sir," he explained, "that this money you offered her
is not yours to offer. She claims it belongs to her. That it's
what should have been her father's share of the profits on the
Coates-Hallowell coupling pin. But, as you have willed your
niece so much money, although half of it is hers already, I
advised her not to fight. Going to law is an expensive business.
But she has found out -- and that's what brings me uptown this
morning -- that you intend to make a new will, and leave all her
money and your own to establish the Hallowell Institute. Now,"
Winthrop continued, with a propitiating smile, "Miss Coates also
would like to be a philanthropist, in her own way, with her own
money. And she wishes to warn you that, unless you deliver up
what is due her, she will proceed against you."
Judge Gaylor was the first to answer.
"Mr. Winthrop," he said impressively, "I give you my word, there
is not one dollar due Miss Coates, except what Mr. Hallowell
pleases to give her. "
Miss Coates contradicted him sharply. "That is not so," she
said. She turned to her uncle, "You and my father," she
declared, "agreed in writing you would share the profits
always." Mr. Hallowell looked from his niece to his lawyer. The
lawyer, eyeing him apprehensively, nodded. With the patient
voice of one who tried to reason with an unreasonable child, Mr.
Hallowell began. "Helen," he said, "I have told you many times
there never was such an agreement. There was a verbal -- "
"And I repeat, I saw it," said Miss Coates.
"When?" asked Hallowell.
"I saw it first when I was fifteen," answered the young woman
steadily, "and two years later, before mother died, she showed
it to me again. It was with father's papers."
"Miss Coates," asked the Judge, "where is this agreement now?"
For a moment Miss Coates hesitated. Her dislike for Gaylor was
so evident that, to make it less apparent, she lowered her eyes.
"My uncle should be able to tell you," she said evenly. "He was
my father's executor. But, when he returned my father's papers"
-- she paused and then, although her voice fell to almost a
whisper, continued defiantly, "the agreement was not with them."
There was a moment's silence. To assure himself the others had
heard as he did, Mr. Hallowell glanced quickly from Winthrop to
Gaylor. He half rose from his chair and leaned across the table.
"What!" he demanded. His niece looked at him steadily.
"You heard what I said," she answered.
The old man leaned farther forward.
"So!" he cried; "so! I am not only doing you an injustice, but I
am a thief! Mr. Winthrop," he cried appealingly, "do you
appreciate the seriousness of this?"
Winthrop nodded cheerfully. "It's certainly pretty serious," he
"It is so serious," cried Mr. Hallowell, "that I welcome you
into this matter. Now, we will settle it once and forever." He
turned to his niece. "I have tried to be generous," he cried; "I
have tried to be kind, and you insult me in my own house." He
pressed the button that summoned the butler from the floor
below. "Gentlemen, this interview is at an end. From now on this
matter is in the hands of my lawyer. We will settle this in the
With an exclamation of pleasure that was an acceptance of his
challenge, Miss Coates rose.
"That is satisfactory to me," she said. Winthrop turned to Mr.
"Could I have a few minutes talk with Judge Gaylor now?" he
asked. "Not as anybody's counsel," he explained; "just as an old
enemy of his?"
"Well, not here," protested the old man querulously. "I'm -- I'm
expecting some friends here. Judge, take Mr. Winthrop to the
drawing room downstairs." He turned to Garrett, who had appeared
in answer to his summons, and told him to bring Dr. Rainey to
the library. The butler left the room and, as Gaylor and
Winthrop followed, the latter asked Miss Coates if he might
expect to see her at the "Office." She told him that she was now
on her way there. Without acknowledging the presence of her
uncle, she had started to follow the others, when Mr. Hallowell
After they were alone, for a moment he sat staring at her, his
eyes filled with dislike and with a suggestion of childish
spite. "I might as well tell you," he began, "that after what
you said this morning, I will never give you a single dollar of
The tone in which his niece replied to him was no more
conciliatory than his own. "You cannot give it to me," she
answered, "because it is not yours to give." As though to add
impressiveness to what she was about to say, or to prevent his
interrupting her, she raised her hand. So interested in each
other were the old man and the girl that neither noticed the
appearance in the door of Dr. Rainey and the butler, who halted,
hesitating, waiting permission to enter.
"That money belongs to me," said Miss Coates slowly, "and as
sure as my mother is in Heaven and her spirit is guiding me,
that money will be given me."
In the pause that followed, a swift and singular change came
over the face of Mr. Hallowell. He stared at his niece as though
fascinated. His lower lip dropped in awe. The look of hostility
gave way to one of intense interest. His voice was hardly louder
than a whisper.
"What do you mean?" he demanded.
The girl looked at him, uncomprehending. "What do I mean?" she
"When you said," he stammered eagerly, "that the spirit of your
mother was guiding you, what did you mean?"
In the doorway, Rainey and the butler started. Each threw the
other a quick glance of concern.
"Why," exclaimed the girl impatiently, "her influence, her
example, what she taught me."
"Oh!" exclaimed the old man. He leaned back with an air almost
"When she was alive?" he said.
"Of course," answered the girl.
"Of course," repeated the uncle. "I thought you meant -- " He
looked suspiciously at her and shook his head. "Never mind," he
added. "Well," he went on cynically, striving to cover up the
embarrassment of the moment, "your mother's spirit will probably
feel as deep an interest in her brother as in her daughter. We
shall see, we shall see which of us two she is going to help."
He turned to Garrett and Rainey in the hall. "Take my niece to
the door, Garrett," he directed.
As soon as Miss Coates had disappeared, Hallowell turned to
Rainey, his face lit with pleased and childish anticipation.
"Well," he whispered eagerly, "is she here?"
Rainey nodded and glanced in the direction opposite to the one
Miss Coates had taken. "She's been waiting half an hour. And the
"Bring them at once," commanded Mr. Hallowell excitedly. "And
then shut the door -- and -- and tell the Judge I can't see him
-- tell him I'm too tired to see him. Understand?"
Rainey peered cautiously over the railing of the stairs to the
first floor, and then beckoned to some one who apparently was
waiting at the end of the hall.
"Miss Vera, sir," he announced, "and Professor Vance."
Although but lately established in New York, the persons Dr.
Rainey introduced had already made themselves comparatively
well-known. For the last six weeks as "headliners" at one of the
vaudeville theatres, and as entertainers at private houses,
under the firm name of "The Vances," they had been giving an
exhibition of code and cipher signaling. They called it mind
reading. During the day, at the house of Vance and his wife, the
girl, as "Vera, the Medium," furnished to all comers memories of
the past or news of the future. In their profession, in all of
its branches, the man and the girl were past masters. They knew
it from the A, B, C of the dream book to the post-graduate work
of projecting from a cabinet the spirits of the dead. As the
occasion offered and paid best, they were mind readers,
clairvoyants, materializing mediums, test mediums. From them, a
pack of cards, a crystal globe, the lines of the human hand,
held no secrets. They found lost articles, cast horoscopes, gave
advice in affairs of the heart, of business and speculation,
uttered warnings of journeys over seas and against a smooth-
shaven stranger. They even stooped to foretell earthquakes, or
caused to drop fluttering from the ceiling a letter straight
from the Himalayas. Among those who are the gypsies of the
cities, they were the aristocrats of their calling, and to them
that calling was as legitimate a business as is, to the roadside
gypsy, the swapping of horses. The fore-parents of each had
followed that same calling, and to the children it was
commonplace and matter-of-fact. It held no adventure, no moral
"Prof." Paul Vance was a young man of under forty years. He
looked like a fox. He had red eyes, alert and cunning, a long,
sharp-pointed nose, a pointed red beard, and red eyebrows that
slanted upward. His hair, standing erect in a pompadour, and his
uplifted eyebrows gave him the watchful look of the fox when he
hears suddenly the hound baying in pursuit. But no one had ever
successfully pursued Vance. No one had ever driven him into a
corner from which, either pleasantly, or with raging
indignation, he was not able to free himself. Seven years before
he had disloyally married out of the "profession" and for no
other reason than that he was in love with the woman he married.
She had come to seek advice from the spirit world in regard to
taking a second husband. After several visits the spirit world
had advised Vance to advise her to marry Vance.
She did so, and though the man was still in love with his wife,
he had not found her, in his work, the assistance he had hoped
she might be. She still was a "believer"; in the technical
vernacular of her husband -- "a dope." Not even the intimate
knowledge she had gained behind the scenes could persuade her
that Paul, her husband, was not in constant communication with
the spirit world, or that, if he wished, he could not read the
thoughts that moved slowly through her pretty head.
At the time of his marriage, the girl Vera, then a child of
fourteen, had written to Vance for help. She was ill, without
money, and asked for work. To him she was known as the last of a
long line of people who had always been professional mediums and
spiritualists, and, out of charity and from a sense of noblesse
oblige to one of the elect of the profession, Vance had made her
his assistant. He had never regretted having done so. The bread
cast upon the waters was returned a thousandfold. From the
first, the girl brought in money. And his wife, the older of the
two, had welcomed her as a companion. After a fashion the Vances
had adopted her. In the advertisements she was described as
Vera now was twenty-one, tall, wonderfully graceful, and of the
most enchanting loveliness. Her education had been cosmopolitan.
In the largest cities of America she had met persons of every
class -- young women, old women, mothers with married sons and
daughters; women of society as it is exploited in the Sunday
supplements; school girls, shop girls, factory girls -- all had
told her their troubles; and men of every condition had come to
scoff and had remained to express, more or less offensively,
their admiration. Some of the younger of these, after a first
visit, returned the day following, and each begged the beautiful
priestess of the occult to fly with him, to live with him, to
marry him. When this happened Vera would touch a button, and
"Mannie" Day, who admitted visitors, and later, in the hall,
searched their hats and umbrellas for initials, came on the run
and threw the infatuated one out upon a cold and unfeeling
So Vera had seen both the seamy side of life and, in the drawing
rooms where Vance and she exhibited their mind reading tricks,
had been made much of by great ladies and, for an hour as brief
as Cinderella's, had looked upon a world of kind and well-bred
people. Since she was fourteen, for seven years, this had been
her life -- a life as open to the public as the life of an
actress, as easy of access as that of the stenographer in the
hotel lobby. As a result, the girl had encased herself in a
defensive armor of hardness and distrust, a protection which was
rendered futile by the loveliness of her face, by the softness
of her voice, by the deep, brooding eyes, and the fine forehead
on which, like a crown, rested the black waves of her hair.
In her work Vera accepted, without question, the parts to which
Vance assigned her. When in their mummeries they were
successful, she neither enjoyed the credulity of those they had
tricked nor was sobered with remorse. In the world Vance found a
certain number of people with money who demanded to be fooled.
It was his business and hers to meet that demand. If ever the
conscience of either stirred restlessly, Vance soothed it by the
easy answer that if they did not take the money some one else
would. It was all in the day's work. It was her profession.
As she entered the library of Mr. Hallowell, which, with Vance,
she already had visited several times, she looked like a child
masquerading in her mother's finery. She suggested an ingenue
who had been suddenly sent on in the role of the Russian
adventuress. Her slight girl's figure was draped in black lace.
Her face was shaded by a large picture hat, heavy with drooping
ostrich feathers; around her shoulders was a necklace of jade,
and on her wrists many bracelets of silver gilt. When she moved
they rattled. As the girl advanced, smiling, to greet Mr.
Hallowell, she suddenly stopped, shivered slightly, and threw
her right arm across her eyes. Her left arm she stretched over
"Give me your hand!" she commanded. Dubiously, with a watchful
glance at Vance, Mr. Hallowell leaned forward and took her hand.
"You have been ill," cried the girl; "very ill -- I see you -- I
see you in a kind of faint -- very lately." Her voice rose
excitedly. "Yes, last night."
Mr. Hallowell protested with indignation. "You read that in the
morning paper," he said.
Vera lowered her arm from her eyes and turned them reproachfully
"I don't read the Despatch," she answered.
Mr. Hallowell drew back suspiciously. "I didn't say it was the
Despatch," he returned.
Vance quickly interposed. "You don't have to say it," he
explained with glibness; "you thought it. And Vera read your
thoughts. You were thinking of the Despatch, weren't you? Well,
there you are! It's wonderful!"
"Wonderful? Nonsense!" mocked Mr. Hallowell. "She did read it in
the paper or Rainey told her."
The girl shrugged her shoulders patiently. "If you would rather
find out you were ill from the newspapers than from the spirit
world," she inquired, "why do you ask me here?"
"I ask you here, young woman," exclaimed Hallowell, sinking back
in his chair, "because I hoped you would tell me something I
can't learn from the newspapers. But you haven't been able to do
it yet. My dear young lady," exclaimed the old man wistfully, "I
want to believe, but I must be convinced. No tricks with me! I
can explain how you might have found out everything you have
told me. Give me a sign!" He beat the flat of his hand upon the
table. "Show me something I can't explain!"
"Mr. Hallowell is quite right, Vera," said Vance. "He is
entering what is to him a new world, full of mysteries, and that
caution which in this world has made him so successful -- "
With an exclamation, Hallowell cut short the patter of the
"Yes, yes," he interrupted petulantly; "I tell you, I want to
believe. Convince me."
Considering the situation with pursed lips and thoughtful eyes,
Vera gazed at the old man, frowning. Finally she asked, "Have
you witnessed out demonstrations of mind reading?"
Mr. Hallowell snorted. "Certainly not," he replied; "it's a
"A trick!" cried the girl indignantly, "to read a man's mind --
to see right through your forehead, through your skull, into
your brain? Is that a trick?" She turned sharply to Vance. "Show
him!" she commanded; "show him!" She crossed rapidly to the
window and stood looking down into the street, with her back to
Vance, with his back turned to Vera, stood close to the table,
on the other side of which Hallowell was reclining in his arm
chair. Vance picked up a pen holder.
"Think of what I have in my hand, please," he said. "What is
this, Vera?" he asked. The girl, gazing from the window at the
traffic in the avenue below her, answered with indifference, "A
"Yes, what about it?" snapped Vance.
"Gold pen holder," Vera answered more rapidly. "Much engraving
-- initials S. H. -- Mr. Hallowell's initials -- "
"There is a date too. Can you -- "
"December -- " Vera hesitated.
"Go on," commanded Vance.
"Twenty-five, one, eight, eight, six; one thousand eight hundred
and eighty-six." She moved her shoulders impatiently.
"Oh, tell him to think of something difficult," she said.
From behind Mr. Hallowell's chair Rainey signaled to Vance to
take from the table a photograph frame of silver which held the
picture of a woman.
Vance picked it up, holding it close to him.
"What have I here, Vera?" he asked.
Hallowell, seeing what Vance held in his hand, leaned forward.
"Put that down!" he commanded. But Vera had already begun to
"A picture, a picture of a young woman. Ask him to think of who
it is and I will tell him."
At the words Mr. Hallowell hesitated, frowned, and then nodded.
"It is his sister," called Vera. "Her name was -- I seem to get
a Catherine -- yes, that's it; Catherine Coates. She is no
longer with us. She passed into the spirit world three years
ago." The girl turned suddenly and approached the table, holding
her head high, as though offended.
"How do you explain that trick?" she demanded.
Mr. Hallowell moved uneasily in his chair. "Oh, the picture's
been on my desk each time you've been here," he answered
dubiously. "Rainey could have told you."
"As a matter of fact, I didn't," said Rainey.
Hallowell's eyes lightened with interest. "Didn't you?" he
asked. He turned to Vera. "If you can read my mind," he
challenged -- "you," he added, pointing at Vance, "keep out of
this now -- tell me of what I am thinking." As Vance drew back,
Rainey and himself exchanged a quick glance of apprehension, but
the girl promptly closed her eyes, and at once, in a dull,
measured tone, began to speak.
"You were thinking you would like to ask a question of some one
in the spirit," she recited. "But you are afraid. You do not
trust me. You will wait until I give you a sign; then you will
ask that question of some one dear to you, who has passed
beyond, and she will answer, and your troubles will be at an
end." She opened her eyes and stared at Mr. Hallowell like one
coming out of a dream. "What did I say?" she asked. "Was I
Hallowell slank back in his chair, shaking his head.
"Yes," he began grudgingly, "but -- "
With an eagerness hardly concealed, Vance interrupted.
"What is the question you wish to ask?" he begged.
With a frown of suspicion, Hallowell turned from him to Rainey.
"I don't think I ought to let them know," he questioned; "do
you?" But his attention was sharply diverted.
Vera, in a hushed and solemn voice, called for silence.
"My control," she explained -- her tone was deep and awestruck
-- "is trying to communicate with me."
Vance gave an exclamation of concern. The prospect of the
phenomena Vera promised seemed to fill him with delightful
expectations. "Be very quiet," he cautioned, "do not disturb
Deeply impressed, Mr. Hallowell struggled from his chair.
Unaided, he moved to below the table and leaning against it
looked, with unwilling but fascinated interest, at Vera's
"Some one in the spirit," Vera chanted, in an unemotional,
drugged voice, "wishes to speak to Mr. Hallowell. Give me your
"Quick!" directed Vance, "give her your hand. Take her hand."
"Yes, he is here," Vera continued. "A woman has a message for
you, she is standing close beside you. She is holding out her
arms. And she is trying, so hard, to tell you something. What is
it?" the girl questioned. "Oh, what is it? Tell me," she begged.
"Can't you tell me?"
Hallowell eyed her greedily, waiting almost without breathing
for her words. The hand with which he held hers crushed her
rings into her fingers.
"What sort?" -- whispered the old man. "What sort of a woman?"
With eyes still closed, swaying slightly and with abrupt
shudders running down her body, the girl continued in dull,
"She is a fair woman; about forty-five. She is speaking. She
calls to you, Brother, brother." Vera's voice rose excitedly.
"It is the woman in the picture; your sister! Catherine! I see
it written above her head -- Catherine. In letters of light."
She turned suddenly and fiercely. "Ask her your question!" she
commanded. "Ask her your question, now!"
By the sudden swaying forward of Vance and Rainey, in the intent
look in their eyes, it was evident that a crisis had approached.
But Mr. Hallowell, terrified and trembling, shrank back. His
voice broke hysterically. "No, no!" he pleaded. Both anger and
disappointment showed in the face of Vance and Rainey; but the
girl, as though detached from any human concerns, continued
unmoved. "I see another figure," she recited. "A young girl, but
she is of this world. I seem to get an H. Yes. Helen, in letters
"My niece, Helen!" Hallowell whispered hoarsely.
"Yes, your niece," chanted the girl. Her voice rose and
thrilled. "And I see much gold," she cried. "Between the two
women, heaps of gold. Everywhere I look I see gold. And, now,
the other woman, your sister, is trying to speak to you. Listen!
She calls to you, Brother!"
So centered was the interest of those in the room, so compelling
the sound of the girl's voice, that, unnoticed, the sliding
doors to the library were slipped apart. Unobserved, Judge
Gaylor and Winthrop halted in the doorway. To the Judge the
meaning of the scene was instantly apparent. His face flushed
furiously. Winthrop, uncomprehending, gazed unconcerned over
Gaylor's shoulder. The voice of Vera rose hysterically to her
"She bids me tell you," Vera cried; " Tell my brother -- "
Gaylor swept toward her.
"What damned farce is this?" he shouted.
The effect of the interruption was instant and startling. Mr.
Hallowell, who, in the last few minutes, had believed he was
listening to a voice from the dead, collapsed upon the shoulder
of Rainey, who sprang to support him. Like a somnambulist
wrenched from sleep, Vera gave a scream of fright, half genuine,
half assumed, and swayed as though about to fall. Vance caught
her in his arms. He turned on Gaylor, his cunning red eyes
"You brute!" he cried, "you might have killed her."
Between her sobs, Vera, her head upon the shoulder of Vance,
whispered a question. As quickly, under cover of muttered
sympathy, Vance answered: "Gaylor. The Judge."
Still slightly swaying, Vera stood upright. She passed her hand
vaguely before her eyes. "Where am I?" she asked feebly. "Where
Gaylor shook his fist at the girl.
"You know where you are!" he thundered; "and you know where
you're going -- you're going to jail!"
In the hush that followed Vera drew herself to her full height.
She regarded Gaylor wonderingly, haughtily, as though he were
some drunken intruder from the street.
"Are you speaking to me?" she asked.
"Yes, to you," shouted the lawyer. "You're an imposter, and a
swindler, and -- and -- "
Winthrop pushed between them.
"Yes, and she's a woman," he said briskly. "If you want a row,
talk to the man."
To this point the scene had brought to Vera no emotion save the
excitement that is felt by the one who is struggling to escape.
The appearance of a champion added a new interest. Through no
fault of her own, she had learned by experience that to the one
man who annoyed her there always were six to spring to her
protection. So the glance she covertly turned upon Winthrop was
one less of gratitude than curiosity.
But at the first sight of him the girl started, her eyes lit
with recognition, her face flushed. And then, although the man
was in no way regarding her, her eyes filled, and in
mortification and dismay she blushed crimson.
His anger still unsatisfied, Gaylor turned upon Vance.
"And you," he cried; "you're going to jail too. I'll drive -- "
The voice of Mr. Hallowell, shaken with pain and distress, rose
feebly, beseechingly. "Henry!" he begged. "I can't stand it!"
"Judge Gaylor!" thundered Rainey, "I won't be responsible if you
keep this up."
With an exclamation of remorse, Vera ran to the side of the old
man. With Rainey on his other hand, she raised him upright upon
"Lean on me," begged the girl breathlessly. "I'm very strong.
Lean on me."
Mr. Hallowell shook his head. "No, child," he protested, "not
you." He turned to his old friend. "You help me, Henry," he
With the authority of the medical man, Rainey waved Vance into
the bedroom. "Close those windows," he ordered. "You help me!"
he commanded of Gaylor. "Put your arm under him."
Mr. Hallowell, protesting feebly and leaning heavily upon the
two men, stumbled into the bedroom , and the door was shut
For a moment the girl and the man stood in silence, and then, as
though suddenly conscious of her presence, Winthrop turned and
The girl did not answer his smile. From under the shadow of the
picture hat and the ostrich feathers her eyes regarded him
For the first time, Winthrop had the chance to observe her. He
saw that she was very young, that her clothes cruelly disguised
her, that she was only a child masquerading as a brigand, that
her face was distractingly lovely. Having noted this, the fact
that she had driven several grown men to abuse and vituperation
struck him as being extremely humorous; nor did he try to
conceal his amusement. But the watchfulness in the eyes of the
girl did not relax.
"I'm afraid I interfered with your seance," said the District
The girl regarded him warily, like a fencer fixing her eyes on
those of her opponent. There was a pause which lasted so long
that had the silence continued it would have been rude. "Well,"
the girl returned at last, timidly, "that's what the city
expects you to do, is it not?"
Winthrop laughed. "How did you know who I was?" he asked, and
then added quickly, "Of course, you're a mind reader."
For the first time the girl smiled. Winthrop found it a charming
smile, wistful and confiding.
"I don't have to ask the spirit world," she said, "to tell me
who is District Attorney of New York."
"Yes," said the District Attorney; "yes, I suppose you have to
be pretty well acquainted with some of the laws -- those about
"If you knew as much about other laws," began Vera, "as I do
about the law -- " She broke off and again smiled upon him.
"Then you probably know," said Winthrop, "that what our excited
friend said to you just now is legally quite true?"
The smile passed from the face of the girl. She looked at the
young man with fine disdain, as a great lady might reprove with
a glance the man who snapped a camera at her. "Yes?" she asked.
"Well, what are you going to do about it -- arrest me?" Mocking
him, in a burlesque of melodrama, she held out her arms. "Don't
put the handcuffs on me," she begged.
Winthrop found her impudence amusing; and, with the charm of her
novelty, he was conscious of a growing conviction that,
somewhere, they had met before; that already at a crisis she had
come into his life.
"I won't arrest you," he said with a puzzled smile, "on one
"Ah!" mocked Vera; "he is generous."
"And the condition is," Winthrop went on seriously, "that you
tell me where we met before?"
The girl's expression became instantly mask-like. To learn if he
suspected where it was that they had met, she searched his face
quickly. She was reassured that of the event he had no real
"That's rather difficult, isn't it," she continued lightly,
"when you consider I've been giving exhibitions of mind readings
for the last six weeks on Broadway, and in the homes of people
you probably know?"
"No," Winthrop exclaimed eagerly, "it wasn't in a theatre, and
it wasn't in a private house. It was -- " he shook his head
helplessly, and looked at her for assistance. "You don't know,
The girl regarded him steadily. "How should I?" she said. And
then, as though decided upon a course of action of the wisdom of
which she was uncertain, she laughed uneasily.
"But the spirits would know," she said. "I might ask them."
"Do!" cried Winthrop, delightedly. "How much would that be?"
As though to reprove his flippancy, the girl frowned. With a
nervous tremor, which this time seemed genuine enough, she threw
back her head, closed her eyes, and laid her arm across her
Winthrop, unobserved, watched her with a smile, partly of
amusement, partly on account of her beauty, of admiration.
"I see -- a court room," said the girl. "It is very mean and
bare. It is somewhere up the State; in a small town. Outside,
there are trees, and the sun is shining, and people are walking
in a public park. Inside, in the prisoner's dock, there is a
girl. She has been arrested -- for theft. She has pleaded
guilty! And I see -- that she has been very ill -- that she is
faint from shame -- and fear -- and lack of food. And there is a
young lawyer. He is defending her; he is asking the judge to be
merciful, because this is her first offence, because she stole
the cloak to get money to take her where she had been promised
work. Because this is his first case."
Winthrop gave a gasp of disbelief.
"You don't mean to tell me -- " he cried.
"Hush!" commanded the girl. "And he persuades the judge to let
her go," she continued quickly, her voice shaking, "and he and
the girl walk out of the court house together. And he talks to
her kindly, and gives her money to pay her way to the people who
have promised her work."
Vera dropped her arm, and stepping back, faced Winthrop. Through
her tears her eyes were flashing proudly, gratefully; the
feeling that shook her made her voice vibrate. The girl seemed
proud of her tears, proud of her debt of gratitude.
"And I've never forgotten you," she said, her voice eager and
trembling, "and what you did for me. And I've watched you come
to this city, and fight it, and fight it, until you made them
put you where you are." She stopped to control her voice, and
smiled at him. "And that's why I knew you were District
Attorney," she said; "and please -- " she fumbled in the mesh
purse at her waist and taking a bill from it, threw it upon the
table. "And please, there's the money I owe you, and -- and -- I
thank you -- and goodbye." She turned and almost ran from him
toward the door to the hall.
"Stop!" cried Winthrop.
Poised for flight, the girl halted, and looked back.
"When can I see you again?" said the man. The tone made it less
a question than a command.
In a manner as determined as his own, the girl shook her head.
"No!" she said.
"I must!" returned the man.
Again the girl shook her head, definitely, finally.
"It won't help you in your work," she pleaded, "to come to see
"I must!" repeated Winthrop simply.
The eyes of the girl met his, appealingly, defiantly.
"You'll be sorry," said the girl.
Winthrop laughed an eager, boyish laugh. When he spoke the
tenseness in his voice had gone. His tone was confident,
"Then I will not come to see you," he said.
Uncertain, puzzled, Vera looked at him in distress. She thought
he was mocking her.
"No?" she questioned.
"I'll come to see Vera, the medium," he explained.
Vera frowned, and then, in happy embarrassment, smiled
"Oh, well," she stammered; "of course, if you're coming to
consult me professionally -- my hours are from four to six."
"I'll be there," cried the District Attorney.
Vera leaned forward eagerly.
"What day will you come?" she demanded.
"What day!" exclaimed the young man indignantly. "Why, this
Vera gave a guilty, frightened laugh.
"Oh, will you?" she exclaimed delightedly. She clasped her
fingers in a gesture of dismay. "Oh, I hope you won't be sorry!"
For some moments the District Attorney of New York stood looking
at the door through which she had disappeared.
The home of the Vances was in Thirty-fifth Street, nearly
opposite the Garrick Theatre. It was one of a row of old-
fashioned brick houses with high steps. As the seeker after
truth entered the front hall, he saw before him the stairs to
the second story; on his right, the folding doors of the "front
parlor," and at the far end of the hall, a single door that led
to what was, in the old days, before this row of houses had been
converted into offices, the family dining room. To Vera the
Vances had given the use of this room as a "reception parlor."
The visitor first entered the room on his right, from it passed
through another pair of folding doors to the reception parlor,
and then, when his audience was at an end, departed by the
single door to the hall, and so, to the street.
The reception parlor bore but little likeness to a cave of
mystery. There were no shaded lights, no stuffed alligator, no
Indian draperies, no black cat. On a table, in the centre, under
a heavy and hideous chandelier with bronze gas jets, was a green
velvet cushion. On this nestled an innocent ball of crystal.
Beside it lay the ivory knitting needle with which Vera pointed
out, in the hand of the visitor, those lines that showed he
would be twice married, was of an ambitious temperament, and
would make a success upon the stage. In a corner stood a wooden
cabinet that resembled a sentry box on wheels. It was from this,
on certain evenings, before a select circle of spiritualists,
that Vera projected the ghosts of the departed. Hanging inside
the cabinet was a silver-gilt crown and a cloak of black velvet,
lined with purple silk and covered in gold thread with signs of
Save that these stage properties illustrated the taste of Mabel
Vance, the room was of no interest. It held a rubber plant, a
red velvet rocking chair, across the back of which Mrs. Vance
had draped a Neapolitan scarf; an upright piano, upon which
Emmanuel Day, or, as he was known to the cross-roads of Broadway
and Forty-second street, "Mannie" Day, provoked the most
marvelous rag-time, an enlarged photograph in crayon, of
Professor Vance, in a frock coat and lawn tie, a china bull dog,
coquettishly decorated with a blue bow, and, on the mantel
piece, two tall beer steins and a hand telephone. From the long
windows one obtained a view of the iron shutters of the new
department store in Thirty-fourth Street, and of a garden, just
large enough to contain a sumach tree, a refrigerator, and the
packing-case in which the piano had arrived.
After leaving Winthrop, without waiting for Vance, Vera had
returned directly to the house in Thirty-fifth Street, and
locked herself in her room. And although "Mannie" Day had
already ushered two visitors into the front room, Vera had not
yet come downstairs. In consequence, Mabel Vance was in
possession of the reception parlor.
Mrs. Vance was plump, pink-and-blonde, credulous and vulgar, but
at all times of the utmost good humor. Her admiration for Vera
was equaled only by her awe of her. On this particular
afternoon, although it already was after five o'clock, Mrs.
Vance still wore a short dressing sack, open at the throat, and
heavy with somewhat soiled lace. But her blonde hair was freshly
"marcelled," and her nails pink and shining. In the absence of
Vera, she was making a surreptitious and guilty use of the
telephone. From the fact that in her left hand she held the
morning telegraph open at the "previous performances" of the
horses, and that the page had been cruelly lacerated by a hat
pin, it was fair to suppose that whoever was at the other end of
the wire, was tempting her with the closing odds at the races.
In her speculations, she was interrupted by "Mannie" Day, who
entered softy through the door from the hall.
"Mannie" Day was a youth of twenty-four. It was his heart's
desire to be a "Broadwayard." He wanted to know all of those,
and to be known only by those, who moved between the giant
pillars that New York threw into the sky to mark her progress
He knew the soiled White Way as the oldest inhabitant knows the
single street of the village. He knew it from the Rathskellers
underground, to the roof gardens in the sky; in his firmament
the stars were the electric advertisements over Long Acre
Square, his mother earth was asphalt, the breath of his nostrils
gasolene, the telegraph was his Bible. His grief was that no one
in the Tenderloin would take him seriously; would believe him
wicked, wise, predatory. They might love him, they might laugh
with him, they might clamor for his company, in no flat that
could boast a piano, was he not, on his entrance, greeted with a
shout; but the real Knights of the Highway treated him always as
the questioning, wide-eyed child. In spite of his after-midnight
pallor, in spite of his honorable scars of dissipation, it was
his misfortune to be cursed with a smile that was a perpetual
plea of "not guilty."
"What can you expect?" an outspoken friend, who made a living as
a wireless wire tapper, had once pointed out to him. "That smile
of yours could open a safe. It could make a show girl give up
money! It's an alibi for everything from overspeeding to
Mannie, as he listened, flushed with mortification. From that
moment he determined that his life should be devoted to giving
the lie to that smile, to that outward and visible sign of
kindness, good will, and innate innocence. As yet, he had not
He interrupted Mabel at the telephone to inquire the whereabouts
of Vera. "There's two girls in there, now," he said, "waiting to
have their fortunes doped."
"Let'em wait!" exclaimed Mabel. "Vera's upstairs dressing." In
her eyes was the baleful glare of the plunger. "What was that
you give me in the third race?"
At the first touch of the ruling passion, what interest Mannie
may have felt for the impatient visitors vanished. "Not in the
third," he corrected briskly. "Keene entry win the third."
Mabel appealed breathlessly to the telephone. "What price the
Keene entry in the third?" She turned to Mannie with reproachful
eyes. "Even money!" she complained.
"That's what I told you," retorted Mannie. He lowered his voice,
and gazed apprehensively toward the front parlor. "If you want a
really good thing," he whispered hoarsely, "ask Joe what
Pompadour is in the fifth!" Mabel laughed scornfully,
"Pompadour!" she mocked.
"That's right!" cried the expert. "That's the one daily hint
from Paris today. Joe will give you thirty to one."
Upon the defenseless woman he turned the full force of his
accursed smile. "Put five on for me, Mabel?" he begged.
With unexpected determination of character Mabel declared
sharply that she would do nothing of the sort.
"Two, then?" entreated the boy.
"Where," demanded Mabel unfeelingly, "is the twenty you owe me
The abruptness of this unsportsmanlike blow below the belt
caused Mannie to wince.
"How do I know where it is?" he protested. "As long as you
haven't got it, why do you care where it is?" He heard the door
from the hall open and, turning, saw Vera. He appealed to her.
"Vera," he cried, "You'll loan me two dollars? I stand to win
sixty. I'll give you thirty."
Vera looked inquiringly at Mabel. "What is it, Mabel,:" she
asked, "a hand book?"
Mrs. Vance nodded guiltily.
"Mannie!" exclaimed Vera gently but reproachfully, "I told you I
wouldn't loan you any more money till you paid Mabel what you've
"How can I pay Mabel what I borrowed," demanded Mannie, if I
can't borrow the money from you to pay her? Only two dollars,
Vera nodded to Mabel.
Mabel, at the phone, called, "Two dollars on Pompadour -- to --
win -- for Mannie Day," and rang off.
"That makes thirty for you," exclaimed Mannie enthusiastically,
"and twenty I owe to Mabel, and that leaves me ten."
Mrs. Vance, no longer occupied in the whirlpool of speculation,
for the first time observed that Vera had changed her matronly
robe of black lace for a short white skirt and a white
shirtwaist. She noted also that there was a change in Vera's
face and manner. She gave an impression of nervous eagerness, of
unrest. Her smile seemed more appealing, wistful, girlish. She
looked like a child of fourteen.
But Mabel was concerned more especially with the robe of virgin
For the month, which was July, the costume was appropriate, but,
in the opinion of Mabel, in no way suited to the priestess of
the occult and the mysterious.
"Why, Vera!" exclaimed Mrs. Vance, "whatever have you got on?
Ain't you going to receive visitors? There's ten dollars waiting
in there now."
In sudden apprehension, Vera looked down at her spotless
"Don't I look nice?" she begged.
"Of course you look nice, dearie," Mabel assured her, "but you
don't look like no fortune teller."
"If you want to know what you look like," said Mannie sternly,
"you look like one of the waiter girls at Childs's -- that's
what you look like."
"And your crown!" exclaimed Mabel, "and your kimono. Ain't you
going to wear your kimono?"
She hastened to the cabinet and produced the cloak of black
velvet and spangles, and the silver-gilt crown.
"No, I am not!" declared Vera. She wore the frightened look of a
mutinous child. "I -- I look so -- foolish in them!"
Such heresy caused Mannie to gasp aloud; "You look grand in
them," he protested; "don't she, Mabel?"
"Sure she does," assented that lady.
"And your junk?" demanded Mannie, referring to the jade necklace
and the gold- plated bracelets. His eyes opened in sympathy.
"You haven't pawned them, have you?"
"Pawned them?" laughed Vera; "I couldn't get anything on them!"
As the only masculine point of view available, she appealed to
Mannie wistfully. "Don't you like me better this way, Mannie?"
But that critic protested violently.
"Not a bit like it," he cried. "Now, in the gold tiara and the
spangled opera cloak," he differentiated, "you look like a
picture postal card! You got Lotta Faust's blue skirt back to
Levey's. But not in the white goods!" He shook his head sadly,
firmly. "You look, now, like you was made up for a May-day
picnic in the Bronx, and they'd picked on you to be Queen of the
Mabel carried the much-admired opera cloak to Vera, and held it
out, tempting her. "You'll wear it, just to please me and
Mannie, won't you, dearie?" she begged. Vera retreated before it
as though it held the germs of contagion.
"I will not," she rebelled. "I hate it! When I have that on, I
feel -- mean. I feel as mean as though I were picking pennies
out of a blind man's hat." Mannie roared with delight.
"Gee!" he shouted, "but that's a hot one."
"Besides," said Vera consciously, "I'm -- I'm expecting some
The manner more than the words thrilled Mabel with the most
She exclaimed excitedly. "A gentleman friend, Vera?" she asked.
That Vera shunned all young men had been to Mabel a source of
wonder and of pride. Even when the young men were the friends of
her husband and of herself, the preoccupied manner with which
Vera received them did not provoke in Mabel any resentment. It
rather increased her approbation. Although horrified at the
recklessness of the girl, she had approved even when Vera
rejected an offer of marriage from a wine agent.
Secretly, for a proper alliance for her, Mabel read the society
columns in search of eligible, rich young men. Finding that they
invariably married eligible, rich young women, she had lately
determined that Vera's destiny must be an English duke.
Still if, as she hoped, Vera had chosen for herself, Mabel felt
assured that the man would prove worthy, and a good match. A
good match meant one who owned not only a runabout, but a
"It's a man from home," said Vera. "Home?" queried Mannie.
"From up the State," explained Vera, "from Geneva. It's -- Mr.
With an exclamation of alarm, Mannie started upright.
"Winthrop!" he cried; then with a laugh of relief he sank back.
"Gee! You give me a scare," he cried. "I thought you meant the
Mabel laughed sympathetically.
"I thought so too," she admitted.
"I do mean the District Attorney," said the girl.
"Vera!" cried Mabel.
"Winthrop -- coming here?" demanded Mannie.
"I met him at Mr. Hallowell's this morning," said Vera. "Didn't
Paul tell you?"
"Paul ain't back yet," said Mannie. "I wish he was!" His lower
jaw dropped in dazed bewilderment. "Winthrop -- coming here?" he
repeated. "And they're all coming here!" he exclaimed excitedly.
"Paul just phoned me. They've taken Gaylor in with them, and
we're all working together now on some game for tonight. And
Winthrop's coming here!" He shook his head decidedly,
importantly. As the only man of the family present, he felt he
must meet this crisis. "Paul won't stand for it!" he declared.
"Well, Paul will just have to stand for it!" retorted Mrs.
With a murmur of sympathy she crossed to Vera. "I'm not going to
see our Vera disappointed," she announced. "She never sees no
company. Vera, if Mr. Winthrop comes when that bunch is here,
I'll show him into the front parlor."
Vera sat down in front of the piano and let her fingers drop
upon the keys. The look of eagerness and anticipation had left
"Oh, I don't know," she said, "that I want to see him -- now."
With complete misunderstanding, Mannie demanded truculently,
"Why not?" His loyalty to Vera gave him courage, in her behalf,
to face even a District Attorney. "He doesn't think he's coming
here to make trouble for you, does he?"
Vera shook her head and, bending over the piano, struck a few
"Oh, no," she said consciously; "just to see me --
professionally -- like everybody else."
Mabel could no longer withhold her indignation at the obtuseness
of the masculine intellect.
"My gracious, Mannie!" she exclaimed, "can't you understand he's
coming here to make a call on Vera -- like a gentleman -- not
like no District Attorney."
Mannie precipitately retreated from his position as champion.
"Sure, I understand," he protested.
With the joy that a match-making mother takes in the hunt, Mabel
sank into the plush rocking chair and, rocking violently, turned
upon Vera an eager and excited smile.
"Think of our Vera knowing Mr. Winthrop socially?" she
exclaimed. "It's grand! And they say his sisters are elegant
ladies. Last winter I read about them at the opera, and it
always printed what they had on. Why didn't you tell me you
knowed him, Vera?" she cried reproachfully. "I tell you
"I don't know him," protested the girl. "I used to see him when
he lived in the same town."
Mabel, inviting further confidences, ceased rocking and nodded
encouragingly. "Up in Geneva?" she prompted.
"Yes," said Vera, "I used to see him every afternoon then, when
he played ball on the college nine -- "
"Who?" demanded Mannie incredulously.
"Winthrop," said Vera.
"Did he?" exclaimed Mannie. His tone suggested that he might
still be persuaded that there was good in the man.
"What'd he play?" he demanded suspiciously.
"First," said Vera.
"Did he!" exclaimed Mannie. His tone now was of open
Vera had raised her eyes and turned them toward the windows.
Beyond the soot- stained sumach tree, the fire escapes of the
department store, she saw the sun- drenched campus, the
buttressed chapel, the ancient, drooping elms; and on a canvas
bag, poised like a winged Mercury, a tall straight figure in
gray, dusty flannels.
"He was awfully good-looking," murmured the girl, "and awfully
tall. He could stop a ball as high as -- that!" She raised her
arm in the air, and then, suddenly conscious, flushed, and
turned to the piano.
"Go on, tell us," urged Mabel. "So you first met him in Geneva,
"No," corrected Vera, "saw him there. I -- only met him once."
Mannie interrupted hilariously.
"I only saw him once, too," he cried, "that was enough for me."
Vera swiftly spun the piano stool so that she faced him. Her
eyes were filled with concern.
"You, Mannie!" she demanded anxiously. "What had you done?"
"Done!" exclaimed Mannie indignantly, "nothing! What'd you think
I'd done? Did you think I was a crook?"
Vera bowed her shoulders and shivered as though the boy had
cursed at her. She shook her head vehemently and again swung
back to the piano. Stumbling awkwardly, her fingers ran over the
keys in a swift clatter of broken chords. "No," she whispered,
"no, Mannie, no."
With a laugh of delighted recollection, Mannie turned to Mabel.
"He raided a poolroom I was working at," he explained. "He
picked me out as a sheet writer because I had my coat off, see?
I told him I had it off because it was too hot for me, and he
says, Young man, if you lie to me, I'll make I a damn sight
hotter!" Mannie threw back his head and shouted uproariously.
"He's all right, Winthrop!" he declared.
Mabel, having already married Winthrop to Vera in Grace Church,
with herself in the front pew, in a blue silk dress, received
this unexpected evidence of his rare wit with delight. In
ecstasy of appreciation she slapped her knees.
"Did he say that, Mannie?" she cried. "Wasn't that quick of him!
Did you hear what he said to Mannie, Vera?" she demanded.
Their mirth was interrupted by the opening and closing of the
front door and, in the hall, the murmur of men's voices.
Vance opened the door from the hall and entered, followed by
Judge Gaylor and Rainey. With evident pride in her appearance,
Vance introduced the two men to his wife, and then sent her and
Mannie from the room -- the latter with orders to dismiss the
visitors in the front parlor and to admit no others.
At the door Mrs. Vance turned to Vera and nodded mysteriously.
"If that party calls," she said with significance, "I'll put him
in the front parlor." With a look of dismay, Vera vehemently
shook her head but, to forestall any opposition, Mrs. Vance
hastily slammed the door behind her.
In his most courteous manner Judge Gaylor offered the chair at
the head of the centre table to Vera, and at the same table
seated himself. Vance took a place on the piano stool; Rainey
stood with his back to the mantel piece.
"Miss Vera," Gaylor began impressively, "I desire to apologize
for my language this morning. As Rainey no doubt has told you, I
have opposed you and Professor Vance. But I -- I know when I'm
beaten. Your influence with Mr. Hallowell today -- is greater
than mine. It is paramount. I congratulate you." He smiled
ingratiatingly. "And now," he added, "we are all working in
"You've given up your idea of sending me to jail," said Vera.
"Vera!" exclaimed Vance reprovingly. Judge Gaylor has
apologized. We're all in harmony now."
"Is that door locked?" asked Gaylor. Vance told him, save Mrs.
Vance, Mannie, and themselves, there was none in the house; and
that he might speak freely.
"Miss Vera," began the Judge, "we left Mr. Hallowell very much
impressed with the message you gave him this morning. The
message from his dead sister. He wants another message from her.
He wants her to decide how he shall dispose of a very large sum
of money -- his entire fortune."
"His entire fortune!" exclaimed Vera. "Do you imagine," she
asked, "that Mr. Hallowell will take advice from the spirit
world about that? I don't!"
"I do," Gaylor answered stoutly, "I know I would."
"You?" asked Vera incredulously.
"If I could believe my sister came from the dead to tell me what
to do," said the lawyer, "of course, I'd do it. I'd be afraid
not to. But I don't believe he does. And he believes you can
bring his sister herself before him. He insists that tonight you
hold a seance in his house, and that you materialize the spirit
of his dead sister. So that he can see his sister, and talk with
his sister. Vance says you can do that. Can you?"
From Vera's face the look of girlishness, of happy anticipation,
had already disappeared.
"It is my business to do that," the girl answered. She turned to
Vance and, in a matter-of-fact voice, inquired, "What does his
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