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Title: Little Lost Sister
Author: Brooks, Virginia, 1886-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Little Lost Sister" ***

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                           Little Lost Sister

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

  "It isn't always the costume of women of fashion ... or the blazing
  resplendent show-window that tempts Little Lost Sisters. It is more
  often just the human need for love and shelter ... the lack of a
  friendly handclasp that shall lighten tomorrow's labor ... the
  sympathy and understanding that breeds hope"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

                           LITTLE LOST SISTER

                                   By
                            VIRGINIA BROOKS

                               Author of
                         "MY BATTLES WITH VICE"

                                New York
                          THE MACAULAY COMPANY

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

                            COPYRIGHT, 1914,

                                   By
                  F. A. P. GAZZOLO AND R. E. RICKSEN,

                          All Rights Reserved

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                CONTENTS

        CHAPTER                                             PAGE

                 Prologue                                     13

              I  At the Button Mill                           17

             II  Seeing Millville                             27

            III  Enter a Detective                            37

             IV  Harvey Meets "A Dealer in Cattle"            49

              V  A Serpent Whispers and a Woman Listens       57

             VI  A Romance Dawns--and a Tragedy               67

            VII  Harry Boland Hears from His Father           77

           VIII  The Death of Tom Welcome                     85

             IX  In Which Some of Chicago's Best People
                 Essay a Task Too Big for Them                95

              X  The Adventures of a Newspaper Story         115

             XI  A Bomb for Mr. Grogan                       133

            XII  Bad News from Millville                     145

           XIII  The Reader Meets Another Old Acquaintance   155

            XIV  In Which the Wolf is Bitten by the Lamb     165

             XV  The Search Begins for the Lost Sister       173

            XVI  John Boland Meets Mary Randall              185

           XVII  The Cafe Sinister                           203

          XVIII  Lost in the Levee                           219

            XIX  Mary Randall Goes to Live in a Wolf's Den   229

             XX  Druce Signs a Significant Document          241

            XXI  Druce Proves a True Prophet                 253

           XXII  "The Mills of the Gods"                     261

          XXIII  After the Tragedy                           271

           XXIV  "The Highway of the Upright"                277

            XXV  The Interests Versus Mary Randall           289

           XXVI  Out on Bail                                 297

          XXVII  Harvey Spencer Takes up the Trail           305

         XXVIII  The Forces That Conquer                     317

           XXIX  The Call of Eternity                        329

            XXX  At the Wedding Feast                        335

           XXXI  With the Roses of Love                      345

          XXXII  At Mary Randall's Summer Home               353

                 Afterward                                   359


-------------------------------------------------------------------------



                           LITTLE LOST SISTER

                                PROLOGUE


They came up suddenly over a bit of rising ground, the mill-owner and his
friend the writer and student of modern industries, and stood in full
view of the factory. The air was sweet with scent of apple-blossoms. A
song sparrow trilled in the poplar tree.

"What do you think of our factory?" asked the man of business and of
success, turning his keen, aggressive face towards his companion.

The other, the dreamer, waited for moments without speaking, carefully
weighing the word, then he answered,

"Horrible."

"My dear fellow!" The owner's voice showed that he was really grieved.
"Why horrible?"

"Your mill is a crime against Nature. Look how it violates that
landscape. Look how it stands there gaunt and tawdry against these fresh
green meadows edged round with billowy white clouds that herald summer.
And you are proud of it. Could you not have found some arid waste for
this factory? Can't you see how Nature cries out against this outrage?
Can't you see that she has dedicated this country to seed-time and
harvest,--these verdant fields, deep woods and brooding streams?"

"The Millville people wanted our factory. They paid us a subsidy to bring
it here."

"Blind, too!" The dreamer looked backward at the town. "They tell me that
the founders there called their village Farmington. Have you ever
reflected what a change you are working in the lives of these people by
substituting industrialism for agriculture? Have you thought of the moral
transformations such a substitution must work among them?"

"We are not responsible for their morals," the mill-owner answered,
impatiently. "We have spared nothing to make our factory up to date. The
mill meets all the demands of modern hygiene and sanitation. We do that
for them."

His friend was silent for a time.

"Your employes here are chiefly women, very young women," he said at
last.

"Yes, we have two hundred girls," replied the mill-owner.

"What is your highest wage for a girl?"

"Eight dollars a week."

Again the younger man was silent. Then he took his friend's arm within
his own.

"These girls are the mothers of tomorrow. To an extent the destinies of
our race depend upon them. Your factory places upon you tremendous
responsibilities."

"We are growing to realize our responsibilities more and more," said the
man of business and of success gravely. "Perhaps we do not realize them
keenly enough. It is the fault of the times."

"Yes, it is the fault of the times. Life, honor, virtue itself trampled
down in the rush for the dollar."

"I believe that a change is coming, though slowly. I believe that the day
will come when we owners of mills will regard it as a disgraceful thing
for our corporations to declare a dividend while notoriously underpaying
our employes."

"Yes, and perhaps the day is coming, too, when the employer who maintains
conditions in his mills that subtly undermine the virtue of his women
workers will be regarded as a public enemy."

"No doubt, but that time is a long way ahead!"

"We must look to the future," said his friend. "We must work for the
future, too!"



                                CHAPTER I

                           AT THE BUTTON MILL


Elsie Welcome was the one girl in the big machine room of the Millville
button factory who did not rise when the bell sounded for the short
afternoon recess. She swung on her revolving stool away from her machine
and looked eagerly, thirstingly towards the windows where the other girls
were crowding for breath of the fresh June air, but she did not stir to
follow them. A resolution stronger than her own keen need of the
recreation moments was singling out this young girl from among her two
hundred companions, laughing and talking together.

"I will speak to Mr. Kemble now--now," she promised herself, watching for
the foreman to enter the machine room, according to his daily custom at
this hour. Elsie nerved herself to a task difficult to perform, even
after her three years of work in the factory, even though she was one of
the most skilful workers here.

She drew up her charmingly modeled little figure tensely, and held her
small head high, her pure, beautiful features aglow with delicate color,
her slender, shapely hands clasping and unclasping each other.

The foreman came into the room. Elsie rose from her place and went to
meet him, pushing back the pretty tendrils of her hair.

"Mr. Kemble," she said, "I should like to speak to you a moment."

Hiram Kemble was a tall, thin young man, deeply conscious of his own
importance and responsibilities. He had risen by assiduous devotion to
the details of button making from office boy to his present exalted
state. His mind had become a mere filing cabinet for information
concerning the button business.

He stood regarding the girl before him, feeling the attraction of her
beauty and resenting it. He did not dislike her; he did not understand
her, and it was his nature to distrust what he did not understand.

"Well," he said, with professional brusqueness, "what is it?"

"I wanted to ask you to--to--" Elsie hesitated, then went on with
courage, "to raise my wages."

He looked at her in amazement, displeased. "How much are you getting
now?"

"Only eight dollars a week."

"Only!" Hiram Kemble was satirical. "That's as much as the others are
getting."

"I know it. But it's not enough. Our expenses are heavy. My mother has
begun to--to--" Elsie choked. "My mother is compelled to take in washing.
She's not strong enough for such heavy work."

"Your sister has a good job."

"She earns only nine dollars."

"Your father--"

Tears sprang to Elsie's eyes, but she would not let them fall. "He's not
earning anything."

"I know." Kemble spoke accusingly. "He is drinking."

Elsie showed a flash of spirit: "That's not my fault!"

"Just so. But you can't hold the Millville Button Company responsible for
your father's misbehavior."

"Is there any chance for me to get more pay?" There was a note of despair
in her question.

"Not the least chance in the world. You are getting our maximum wage for
women. I couldn't raise your pay if I wanted to without being specially
authorized to do so by our board of directors."

"And I can never earn--never get any more here?"

"No."

The minute hand of the electric clock pushed forward. Again a bell
sounded. Two hundred American girls who had had a few moments' respite
came trooping wearily back to their places at the machines.

At the clang of the bell Kemble walked up the room. Elsie went back to
her place drooping; she wore a beaten air as if he had struck her
visibly.

The girls on either hand spoke to her as they slipped into their places,
but she did not hear them. Hours of swift work followed. The machines
whirred and the deft hands of the girls flew. These button workers had
nearly all been recruited from the district around Millville. With rare
exceptions they were descendants of the hardy Americans who had founded
the town while it was still called Farmington. The founders had passed
away. The outside world had pressed around the village until its people
longed to play a more active role in the world. It had seemed a great day
when the button factory came, and the town name was changed to Millville.

Now these daughters of the strong elder race were factory workers. The
world had been made better by an output of thousands of shiny new buttons
when at last the six o'clock whistle blew on this bright June day.

Elsie Welcome got up from her machine and picked up her hat listlessly.
She walked to a window and looked out. Suddenly animation came into her
face. A young man waved a handkerchief from an automobile which spun by
on the gray turnpike below the mill. Elsie waved her handkerchief in
return.

Kemble, watching the girl from across the room, saw the episode. He
hurried across to her, with the air of pouncing on a victim.

"We'll have none of that here, Miss Welcome," he said. "If you have to
flirt, don't flirt on the company's premises."

She turned upon him indignantly. "I am not flirting! That gentleman is a
friend of mine."

Kemble sneered. "Oh, he is a friend, is he? Where does a factory girl
like you meet men who ride in automobiles?"

Elsie flushed scarlet; she bit her quivering lips.

"Ashamed to tell where you met him, are you?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean I'm responsible to my employers for the character of the girls I
employ here."

Elsie looked her contempt of him. She laughed a little low scornful laugh
which made Kemble thoroughly angry.

"Look here, my girl," he said. "You don't know when you're well off. You
are too independent." His tone of anger roused her temper, but she held
herself in leash and answered with cold politeness:

"Mr. Kemble, when I feel myself getting independent, the first thing I
shall do will be to get away from the Millville button factory."

Kemble was ready to retreat now. The interview was getting beyond his
expectation. Elsie was one of the company's fastest workers. He could not
afford to have her throw up her place. He did not want to lose her.

"Oh, but you like the factory, Miss Welcome," he said in a suddenly
pacific tone.

"Like--the--factory! I hate it," returned the girl, all her pent-up
wrongs finding expression. "I hate the mill and everything about it. Do
you suppose any girl could like the prospect of being bottled up in this
hole year after year for eight dollars a week? Why, some day, Mr. Kemble,
I expect to pay eight dollars for a hat, for just one hat."

"So that's it," said Kemble, "fine feathers, eh? I know, you're like a
lot of other girls who have come and gone in this factory. You've heard
of Chicago's bright lights and you want to singe your wings in them. Let
me tell you something, my girl, girls in your position don't get eight
dollar hats without paying for them and if they haven't got the money
they give something else. They give--"

"Stop," ordered the girl. "You shan't say that to me. I don't believe it.
You can't convince me that there isn't something better in life for a
girl like me than Millville and eight dollars a week."

"I pity your ignorance," said Kemble, loftily.

"It's not ignorance to want something better than this," replied Elsie.
"Why should you taunt me with ignorance, anyway? What do you know about
the world? You're just a foreman in a little country mill and because you
are satisfied with a narrow little life like that you think everyone else
ought to be."

The truth in this goaded Kemble into violation of rule number twelve for
button factory foremen which exhorts such employes to be polite to women
workers.

"Why the devil don't you go to Chicago and be done with it then?" he
demanded. "You're one of these people that has to learn by experience."
He sneered at her. "Perhaps you can get your friend in the auto to take
you. Why don't you try it?"

Tears rushed to the girl's eyes. She began fastening on her hat to
conceal her emotion.

"I'm going to Chicago," she muttered, "just as soon as I am able. Nothing
there can be much worse than being compelled to work in Millville under
you. Good gracious," she added maliciously, after giving him a thorough
inspection, "it's no use to stand here arguing with you."

With this taunt Miss Elsie gave her hat a final adjustment, then, leaving
Mr. Hiram Kemble speechless with rage and injured dignity, she walked out
of the factory door.



                               CHAPTER II

                            SEEING MILLVILLE


The distance from the Millville button factory to the corner of Main and
Pine streets in Millville itself is, if you take the short cut through
Nutting's Grove, as all sensible Millvillians do, a five minutes' walk.
If the reader, touring Millville in search of the beginnings of this
story, will make that journey in his imagination he will find himself
standing on the rough board walk in front of John Price's general store.

From her eminence on the top of one of Mr. John Price's high stools
Patience Welcome glanced up from the ledger over which she was toiling,
put the blunt end of her pen into her mouth and looked out into the
street drenched in sunshine. A half dozen farmers' horses, moored to the
hitching rack in front of the store, threshed restlessly with their tails
at enthusiastic banqueting flies, newborn into a world that seemed to be
filled with juicy horses.

The scene did not interest Patience. Her glance went on across the street
where an overdressed young man, just alighted from an automobile, stood
surveying his surroundings. His eyes met hers. He removed his hat with an
elaborate bow. The girl, a little piqued and a little amused, reached
over very quietly and drew down the window curtain. Then she resumed
operations on the ledger with the sharp end of the pen.

Patience Welcome, like her sister, was dark of hair and eyes. Her hair,
too, had the quality of forming into tendrils about her cheeks which
glowed with a happy, if not a robust, healthfulness. But there the
resemblance ended. The two girls were widely different personalities.
Elsie, the younger, was impetuous by nature, imaginative, and easily
swept off her mental balance by her emotions. She was ambitious, too, and
Millville did not please her. Patience, no less imaginative, perhaps,
possessed a stronger hold upon herself. She admired her daring sister,
but she was sensible of the dangers of such daring and did not imitate
her. She possessed the great gift of contentedness. It colored all her
thoughts, created pleasant places for her in what, to Elsie, seemed a
desolate life; it made Millville not only a bearable but even a happy
place to live in. Millville understood Patience and loved her; Elsie,
being less understandable, was less popular.

It had been a busy day in John Price's store and Patience was entering in
her books items from a pile of bills on the desk before her. It was five
minutes after her usual leaving time, but the girl accepted extra duty
with a cheerfulness that was part of her nature.

In the midst of her work there was a bustle at the back of the store.
John Price, local merchant prince and owner of this establishment, had
returned from the yard at the rear of the store where he had been
superintending the storing of goods, arrived on the late afternoon train.
He was a wiry little old man of sixty, abrupt, nervous, irritable and
given to sharpness of speech which, he was profoundly convinced, hid from
outside perception a heart given to unbusinesslike tenderness. He busied
himself noisily about the shelves for a few minutes, then suddenly stuck
his head through the door of the little office in which Patience was
working.

"What," he said, "you here? Get out. Go home."

"I'll be through in a few minutes," rejoined Patience, without taking her
eyes from her figures.

"Tush," said Mr. Price. "What are you trying to do, give me a bad name
with my trade? People will think I'm a slave driver. Get out."

"In just a minute," smiled Patience.

"Go home, I say," almost shouted Price. He took off his alpaca coat and
hung it on a nail. Then he stepped up suddenly behind Patience, took the
pen deliberately from her hand and pushed her off the stool.

"Must I throw you out?" he demanded. "Must I? Must I, eh?"

He pointed towards the door.

"All right, Mr. Price," said Patience submissively, gathering up her
bills and thrusting them into a drawer.

"Hurry," said Price. "You'll be late for your supper."

"No, I won't," returned Patience, putting on her jacket and hat. "This is
wash day at our house. Supper is always late on wash day."

"Wash day, eh? Then you ought to be home helping your mother."

"Elsie will help mother," replied Patience quietly.

"Are you sure about that?" demanded Mr. Price.

"Of course, I'm sure, Mr. Price," said Patience, hurt.

"Well," said Mr. Price, "I'm not so sure. But don't stand here arguing. I
haven't any time to argue with a snip of a girl like you. Get out. Go
home!"

Patience, still a little hurt by her employer's expressed doubt about her
sister, started for the front door. Looking out, she saw the overdressed
young man with the automobile still standing across the street. He saw
her, too, and waved his cigarette. Patience turned back into the store.

"Girl," demanded Mr. Price, his patience now seemingly exhausted, "where
in the devil are you going?"

"Out the back way, if you please, Mr. Price."

Mr. Price got up deliberately from the stool which he had occupied as
soon as Patience had vacated it and looked out of the front door.

"The young whelp," he said, apostrophizing the overdressed youth with the
cigarette. Then to Patience: "Dodging him, eh? Now don't blush, girl. I
don't blame him for looking at you. You're worth looking at. But you show
mighty good sense in keeping away from him."

"Why, Mr. Price, I--" Patience stammered.

"O, that's all right, dodge him, keep him guessing. One of those freshies
from the city, eh? Well, there's mighty little good in 'em. Give your ma
my best regards. Tell her she's got a fine daughter. Good night."

Patience left the store by the rear door and started briskly for her
home. She had gone but a block when she heard a wagon rumbling behind her
and a voice called out:

"'Lo, there, Patience, late, ain't you?"

It was Harvey Spencer, ambitious "all round" clerk, hostler, collector
for Millville's leading grocer. He drove a roan colt which went rather
skittishly. There was an older man in the wagon with him. Harvey drew up
the colt beside Patience with a vociferous "Whoa."

"Yes," replied Patience, "I'm a little late. Lots of business these days,
Harvey?"

"You bet," he retorted, "Millville is flourishing. We'll soon have a real
city here. Oh, Miss Welcome, let me make you acquainted with my friend,
Mr. Michael Grogan of Chicago."

Patience accepted the introduction with flushed reserve.

"I'm right glad to know you," stated Mr. Grogan, removing his hat
gallantly and wiping a perspiring brow with his handkerchief. "But let me
tell you I don't think much of your friend, Harvey Spencer. Sure, I've
been riding with him for two hours and you're the first pleasant object
he's shown me. And such a ride! It's a certainty that this young fellow
knows every bump and thank-ye-ma'am in the village and he's taken me full
speed over all of them. I feel like I'd been churned. But I'll forgive
him all that now--now that he's shown me you."

There was a sincerity in Mr. Grogan's raillery that swept away Patience's
reserve. Besides, he was over fifty.

"Sure," she said, slyly imitating Mr. Grogan's brogue, "you've been
kissing the blarney stone, Mr. Grogan."

"Will ye listen to that now?" said Grogan enthusiastically, as he started
to clamber off the wagon.

"Sit still, Mr. Grogan," said Harvey, laughing.

"But didn't you hear her, man alive? Sure, she's Irish--"

"No, I'm not," put in Patience, "but I've heard of the blarney stone."

"Look at that, now," said Grogan, returning to his seat with an air of
keen disappointment. "And I was just longin' to see someone from the Ould
Sod. I thought--"

"How do you like riding with Harvey?" inquired Patience, changing the
subject.

"Well," said Grogan plaintively, "if I were twenty years younger maybe it
would be good exercise, but with my years, Miss, 'tis just plain
exhausting."

Here Harvey started the roan colt off again. "See you later," he called
back to Patience, "I'm stopping at your house."

"So that's Tom Welcome's daughter, is it?" said Grogan as they got out of
hearing.

"That's one of them," said Harvey, "but you ought to see the other."

"The old man now," went on Grogan, "is a good deal of a lush."

"The girls can't help what their father is," retorted Harvey, bridling.

"I know, I know," went on Mr. Grogan. "Such things happen in the best of
families."

"No, and you can't blame Tom Welcome much, either," went on Harvey. "He
was drove to drink. He invented an electrical machine that would have
made a fortune for him and some one stole it from him. It wasn't the loss
of the money that sent him to the devil, either. He'd spent a lifetime on
his machine and just when he was getting it patented, some smart thief in
Chicago takes it away from him. That's what I call tough luck."

"They're hard up, you say?" pursued Grogan.

Harvey, unconscious that he had said nothing of the sort, admitted that
the Welcomes were in financial straits. "Their mother has to take in
washing," he said, "and both the girls work. It's too bad, for they ought
to be getting an education."

The roan colt came to an abrupt stop. They were in front of a small
cottage. Grogan surveyed the place for a moment and then turned to his
jehu. "And what might you be stopping here for?" he inquired.

Harvey paused with one foot on the step of the wagon and looked up at
Grogan gravely.

"This is Tom Welcome's cottage," he said.



                               CHAPTER III

                            ENTER A DETECTIVE


While Harvey Spencer was climbing down from his wagon Mr. Michael Grogan,
who was not exactly the guileless soul Millville took him to be,
permitted himself rather a close inspection of the Welcome premises.
There was nothing imposing about them. The cottage was old and obviously
in need of repair. The fence which surrounded it had been repaired in
places, apparently by someone who had small interest in the job. The
little patch of ground in front, however, was decorated with a neatly
kept vegetable garden bordered with flowers. The stone step at the
cottage entrance was immaculate. Mr. Grogan was shrewd enough to indulge
himself in the speculation that whatever Tom Welcome might be his wife
was a careful housekeeper.

Mrs. Welcome was standing in her open door and Grogan studied her with a
curiosity not entirely disinterested. Her figure was frail and slightly
bowed. Her hair, as it showed in the deepening dusk was almost white. Her
features had delicacy like those of the daughter Grogan had just met. She
was wiping her hands on a gingham apron. They were hands of a hard
working woman.

"Hello, Mrs. Welcome, nice day, ain't it?" called Harvey as he came
through the gate.

"Yes, it is nice, isn't it, Harvey?" replied Martha Welcome. "I hadn't
noticed it before, I've been so busy with the washing."

The woman's voice, Mr. Grogan noted, held a note of sadness.

"Seems to me," said Harvey, dropping his voice and speaking with the
assurance of an old family friend, "that if I had two girls like your
Elsie and Patience, I'd see that they helped out with the washing."

"How can they help me?" replied Mrs. Welcome. "Patience is up early every
morning and off to Mr. Price's store and Elsie is at the mill all day."

"That's so," said Harvey, "I didn't think, but surely they might--"

"Oh, they help a lot," broke in Mrs. Welcome, hurriedly. "They do all
their ironing at night. And that's all anyone could ask of them after
they come home tired from their work."

"Well, I'm glad to hear it. Your two girls always do look nice."

"Thank you, Harvey."

"But Mrs. Welcome--"

"Yes, Harvey?"

"Don't you think--" Harvey stopped and looked about hesitatingly,--"Ah,
don't you think it would be just as well if Elsie didn't see quite as
much of this Chicago fellow?"

"Do you mean Mr. Druce?" inquired Mrs. Welcome.

"I do. Of course, he's all right--" Harvey again hesitated and puckered
his lips thoughtfully. "He wears fine clothing, patent leather shoes,
sports a diamond ring, but it seems to me Elsie's different somehow since
that Martin Druce began to hang around."

Mrs. Welcome laughed softly. There was a glint of humor in her eyes. "I
guess you're jealous, aren't you, Harvey?"

"Well, say I am," agreed Harvey. "Never mind that. Is it a good thing for
Elsie?"

"Elsie's a good girl," replied Mrs. Welcome.

"She sure is, Mrs. Welcome. That's why I want her to be Mrs. Harvey
Spencer."

Mrs. Welcome opened her eyes wide at this statement and looked kindly at
the stout young man before her.

"You mean it, Harvey?" she demanded.

"I'm so much in earnest," he replied, fumbling in his pocket, "that I've
got the ring right here."

He produced a plain gold wedding ring nestling in a white velvet case.
Mrs. Welcome uttered a little cry of gladness. She believed in Harvey,
who, incidentally, was all he pretended to be.

"O, I know I ain't much," went on Harvey, "just a clerk in a small town
store, but I've got ambitions. Look at all the great men! Where did they
begin? At the bottom."

Harvey paused. Then he looked all about him carefully and, satisfied with
this survey, leaned confidentially toward Mrs. Welcome and whispered:

"Say, can you keep a secret, Mrs. Welcome?"

"I guess so," replied Mrs. Welcome smiling. "Try me, Harvey."

"All right, I'm going to be a detective," Harvey announced proudly.

"You are, Harvey?" was the astonished reply.

"Just watch me," Harvey went on. "I'm taking a correspondence school
course. Here are some of my lessons." He took some closely typewritten
sheets of paper from his pocket. "Ever notice how broad I am between the
eyes?" he demanded.

"I can't say that I have," said Mrs. Welcome.

"Well, I am, and it's one of the signs, so they say, of the born
detective. Listen here a moment."

He unfolded the bulky pages and read grandly:

"'Always be observant of even the smallest trifles. A speck of dust may
be an important clew to a murder.'"

"Harvey!" cried Mrs. Welcome.

"Don't be frightened, Mrs. Welcome, just wanted to show you that I mean
business." Harvey paused for a moment and regarded her steadily. Then he
pointed his finger at her accusingly as he said: "I knew you were washing
before you told me!"

"You did, Harvey?"

"Sure, because you had suds on your apron where you dried your hands." He
drew a deep sigh and threw out his chest. "There," he said. "Oh, I guess
I'm bad at these lessons, eh?"

"You're a good boy, Harvey," replied Mrs. Welcome, indulgently.

"Thank you." He bowed. "Oh, perhaps my future mother-in-law and I aren't
going to get along fine," he announced to the world in general,
exultingly.

The roan colt interrupted this rhapsody by pawing impatiently at the
ground. Harvey took his order book from his pocket and stuck his stub of
lead pencil in his mouth.

"Well," he inquired, "how about orders, Mrs. Welcome?"

"We--we--need some flour," was the hesitating reply.

"A barrel?" suggested Harvey, turning to a fresh page of his order book.

"No--no--no--I--I guess ten pounds, and--I guess that's about all,
Harvey."

"Now you'll excuse me if I doubt your word, Mrs. Welcome," said Harvey,
writing down fifty pounds of flour quickly. "Come now, tell me what you
do really want."

"O, what's the use. We need everything, we--" Mrs. Welcome broke down and
began to weep softly as she turned toward the house.

"Now hold on, Mrs. Welcome, don't break away from me like that!" Harvey
followed her and laid his hand gently on her arm. "I hope Mr. Welcome
isn't drinking again. Is he?"

"I'm afraid so, Harvey." Mrs. Welcome's frail shoulders quivered as she
attempted to restrain her sobs. "Why, Tom hasn't been home for two days
and--and our rent is due--and--"

Harvey Spencer interrupted with a prolonged whistle which seemed to be
the best way he could think of expressing sympathy. A light dawned on
him.

"That's why young Harry Boland is here from Chicago, to collect the rent,
eh?" he inquired.

Mrs. Welcome nodded assent, "Yes," she said, "Mr. Boland has been very
kind. He has waited two weeks and--and--we can't pay him."

"Why not let me--" suggested Harvey, putting his hand into his pocket.
Mrs. Welcome checked him with a quick movement. "No, Harvey, please. I
don't want you to do that," she said. "I wouldn't feel right about it
somehow."

"Just as you say, Mrs. Welcome." Harvey was rather diffident and
hesitated to press a loan on her. To change the subject he said: "Young
Mr. Boland seems taken up with Patience."

"I hadn't noticed it," said Mrs. Welcome, drying her eyes.

"O, we detectives have to keep our eyes open," acclaimed Harvey with
another burst of pride.

But here Michael Grogan interrupted. "Young man," he called out from the
roadway, "are you really taking orders or is this one of your visiting
days?" He tied the colt and came into the yard.

"Hello," said Harvey, "getting tired of waiting?"

"Well, I felt myself growing to that hitching post," said Grogan, "so I
tied that bunch of nerves you have out there and moved before I took
root."

Harvey laughed and turned to Mrs. Welcome. "This is Mr. Michael Grogan,
Mrs. Welcome," he said.

Mrs. Welcome backed away toward the porch, removing her apron. "Good
afternoon, sir," she greeted him. "I hope you are well?"

"Well," said Grogan, "I was before this young marauder cajoled me into
leaving me arm chair on the hotel veranda to go bumping over these
roads."

Mrs. Welcome smiled and extended her hand. "I'm very glad to know you,
Mr. Grogan. You mustn't mind Harvey's impetuous ways. He's all right
here." She placed her hand on her heart.

"I'll go bail he is that if you say so, Mrs. Welcome," replied Grogan
gallantly, "anyhow I'll take him on your word."

"Just ready to go, Mr. Grogan, when you called," put in Harvey. Then he
caught Mrs. Welcome by the arm and bustled her into the house, saying:
"And I'll see that you get all of those things, Mrs. Welcome, flour, corn
meal, tomatoes, beans, lard--" and in spite of her protestations he
closed the door on her with a parting: "Everything on the first delivery
tomorrow morning sure." Then he added to Grogan, who stood smiling with a
look of comprehension on his face, "All right. Ready to go."

"It's about time," commented Grogan as they went toward the wagon. "Don't
think I'm too inquisitive if I ask who are these Welcomes anyhow?"

"People who are having a tough time," replied Harvey, unhitching his
colt. "Tom Welcome used to be quite a man. He had that invention I was
telling you about, an electric lamp. He was done out of it and went to
the booze for consolation."

"So," murmured Grogan, half to himself, "Two girls in the family, eh?"

"Yes, that was one of them you met just before we came here."

"The pretty one?"

"Yes, and they're the best ever," added Harvey, antagonized by something
he sensed in his companion's manner.

Grogan turned to him smiling. "There," he said, "don't get hot about it.
Nobody doubts that, meself least of all. Ain't I Irish? It's the first
article of every Irishman's creed to believe that all women, old or
young, pretty or otherwise, all of them are just--good."

Harvey seized the older man's hand and shook it vigorously. Then looking
up the road he said:

"Here comes Elsie Welcome, I think. I want you to meet her."

"Ah," retorted Grogan. He turned and looked at Elsie closely. She ran
rapidly down the pathway toward the gate. She saw them, paused, walked
more slowly and came up to them apparently in confusion.

"Why, hello Harv! What are you doing here so late?" she asked. Without
waiting for a reply she started toward the gate flinging back a short
"Good night."

The girl's whole manner indicated a guilty conscience. It was evident
that she did not wish to talk to Harvey Spencer. She passed through the
gate toward the door of her home.



                               CHAPTER IV

                    HARVEY MEETS "A DEALER IN CATTLE"


Harvey threw the reins into Grogan's lap and strode recklessly after
Elsie. His good-natured face was flushed with anger.

"Say," he demanded, "what's the matter?"

The girl, unwilling, halted. "Nothing," she replied, "what makes you ask
that?"

"Why," explained Harvey, hiding his anger and attempting to take her
hand, "you're out of breath."

"Been running," was the girl's laconic explanation.

"You don't usually run home from the mill, Elsie," Harvey's detective
instinct was showing itself.

Elsie was extremely irritated by this unwished for interview.

"Well, I--" she stammered, "I wanted to get here because it's Monday and
mother's washing day and--" She paused, her irritation getting the better
of her. "I don't see what right you have to question me, Harvey Spencer."

Grogan had got down from the wagon and at this moment came through the
gate.

"Young man," he began, addressing Spencer. The girl interrupted him.

"Who are you?" she demanded. "Do you come from the mill?"

"I come from no mill," retorted Grogan, piqued by the girl's tone, "and
if you'll excuse me I don't want to."

"This is Mr. Michael Grogan of Chicago," put in Harvey placatingly. "I've
been showing him the town."

"And," added Grogan quickly, "I haven't seen much."

"That's not at all strange," said Elsie, "because there's nothing to
see."

"And in Chicago, where I come from," said Grogan sagely, "there's
altogether too much."

Grogan saw by his two companions' faces that he was an intruder.

"Young man," he said, "I don't think I'll wait for you. I've some letters
to write at the hotel. I think I'll be strolling along."

"Why," said Harvey, hospitable in the face of intrusion, "you're welcome
to ride. Won't you wait?"

"No, thanks," said Grogan, "that grocery wagon of yours wasn't built to
accommodate a man of my size."

Harvey and the girl watched Grogan disappear in the dusk. Then the young
man turned to the girl.

"Elsie--" he began tenderly.

But the girl stopped him. "Now don't begin to question me," she ordered.
"I won't answer."

"You are trying to hide something from me," said Harvey, grasping the
girl's unwilling hand. The girl drew away from him.

"That's not true," she said. "I don't want you to bother me."

"I never used to bother you," said Harvey, his face flushing.

"That was before--" began Elsie impulsively. "I mean now," she went on,
catching herself. "I mean that you do now because you have changed."

"No," contradicted Harvey, "but you have."

"What do you mean by that?" challenged the girl.

Harvey stood silent for a moment and jerked out a laugh of embarrassment.
"I don't know exactly what I mean," he said, "but you know we were
engaged."

Elsie flushed. "We were not," she said.

"I mean," said Harvey miserably stumbling on, "we sort of were. We
understood." He brought one hand from his pocket. It held the box
containing the ring. "Why, Elsie," he said pleadingly, "I even bought the
ring. Just a plain band of gold. I did so hope that some day, soon
perhaps, you'd let me put it on your finger and take you to our home. It
wouldn't be much, but I'd love you and care for you. Why I'd work night
and day just to make things easy for you. I love you. It all begins and
ends with that."

Elsie stood for a moment as though this honest appeal had touched her.
Then she turned sharply.

"O, what's the use," she cried, "Look at this place. See how we live. And
you--you want me to go on like this? No!"

Harvey stared at her stupidly.

"Don't stare at me like that," said the girl annoyed.

"I am wondering what has changed you so," said Harvey apologetically.

"Nothing, I tell you."

"Yes, there is something, or somebody."

"Now Harvey, please don't begin--" Elsie paused. Her glance left Harvey's
face. A young man in a brown tweed suit and carrying a light walking
stick in his gloved hand was coming toward the gate.

"Hello," he said easily, addressing Elsie and ignoring Spencer, "anybody
at home?"

Elsie turned toward him with impulsive friendliness, then remembering her
other suitor paused and tried to assume a manner of unconcern.

"Of course, there's someone at home," she said, "can't you see there is?"

"Can't be sure that such loveliness is real," said the newcomer
gallantly.

"You're talking Chicagoese," said the girl, not, however, displeased.

"Simple fact, believe me," was the assured response.

Elsie saw that Harvey was eyeing the stranger with hostility. "Do you
know Mr. Spencer, Mr. Druce?"

"Everybody in Millville knows Mr. Spencer," replied Martin Druce, putting
out his hand. "He's a town institution."

"Thank you," said Harvey, mollified by what he thought a sincere
compliment and shaking hands.

"Institution!" laughed Elsie.

Harvey stopped and withdrew the hand. It dawned on him that there was a
secret understanding between Druce and the girl.

"Now hold on," he asked. "Just what do you mean by that word
'institution?'"

"Why you're one of the landmarks here," explained Druce, "the same as the
bank or the opera house." He brushed the lapel of Harvey's coat with his
gloved hand and straightened his collar. Then he soberly removed Harvey's
straw hat, fingered it into grotesque lines and replaced it on his head.
He stepped back to observe the effect, adding satirically: "I'll bet you
won't stay long in this jay town."

"You're dead right there," boasted Harvey. "Millville is all right and a
rising place but--"

"I knew it," said Druce gravely. "You'll be coming up to Chicago to show
Marshall Field how to run his store."

"Well, I may--" began Harvey proudly.

"Oh!" Elsie's voice was pained. "Don't do that, Mr. Druce!" Then she
turned to Spencer. "Why do you let him make a joke of you?"

"Who? Me?" Harvey looked at her in astonishment. He turned to Druce
savagely. "Say," he demanded, "are you trying to kid me?"

"Not on your life," was the reply. "I knew better than to try to kid a
wise young man like you. What I'm trying to say is that you're too big
for this town. Say, what's your ambition?"

"Oh, I've got one, Mr. Druce. I'm going to be a detective."

"Well, there's lots of room for a real one in Chicago," said Druce,
suppressing a contemptuous smile.

"I may go there some day."

"Come along," said Druce, "the more the merrier."

"Say, Mr. Druce," asked Harvey, now completely taken in by the
ingratiating stranger, "what's your business?"

"Mine, why--" The man moved toward Elsie as he spoke, gazing at her
steadily.

"Yes, you've got one, haven't you?" persisted Harvey.

Druce seemed confused for a moment. Then his face broke into a genial
smile. Both Elsie and Spencer were watching him curiously.

"Sure, I've got a business. It's a mighty profitable one, too. I'm a
dealer in live stock."

"Oh, cattle?" said Harvey.

"You got me," was the casual response, "just cattle."



                                CHAPTER V

                 A SERPENT WHISPERS AND A WOMAN LISTENS


The word cattle seemed to arouse the roan colt to his own existence. He
whinnied ingratiatingly and tugged at his hitching strap. Whether or not
his master had forgotten, he knew it was supper time. Harvey heard him.

"Well," he said to Druce, backing away towards the gate. "I've got to be
going. Drop into the store some time. I'll give you a cigar."

"Thanks," laughed Druce. Then under his breath he added, "Like blazes I
will." He turned back to Elsie. "Is that the Rube," he demanded, "who
wants to marry you?"

"Yes," defended Elsie hotly, "and he's all right, too. I don't think it
was nice of you to make fun of him as you did."

"Now, now," said Druce soothingly. "Don't be angry with me. I was just
playing around." He paused and looked warily at the house. "Everything
all right, eh?"

"Yes, I guess so," replied Elsie, with an anxious look in the same
direction. "Harvey frightened me when I first got home. For a moment I
thought he knew that I had been out with you."

"Well, what if he did? There's no harm in going for a ride with me, is
there?"

"No-o," Elsie shook her head doubtfully. "But I don't feel just right
about it."

"And that grocery fellow didn't know after all, eh?"

"I think not. At least he said nothing."

Druce shrugged his shoulders derisively.

"I think not. At least he said nothing." he couldn't detect a hair in the
butter. I'm not worried about him. How is it with your own folks? Your
mother doesn't know?"

[Transcriber's note: previous paragraph transcribed as printed, with
apparent obfuscation by duplicated line.]

"No," replied Elsie, uneasy again. "Anyway, mother wouldn't matter so
much, but dad--" She covered her face with her hands.

"Never mind," said Druce tenderly, drawing her toward him and caressing
her. "We had some ride, didn't we?"

"Grand," replied Elsie, brightened by the recollection.

"I told you it would be all right if I hired the car and picked you up
around the corner from the mill. Say--" The man lowered his tone. "Gee,
you're prettier than ever today, Elsie!"

Something in his manner caused the girl to recoil. The shrinking movement
did not escape Druce.

"What's the matter, girlie?" he inquired. "Do you know that in all the
weeks I have been coming down here from Chicago to see you, you haven't
even kissed me?"

"Please," pleaded the girl, pushing him away. She scarcely understood her
mood. She only knew she did not want Druce to touch her.

"What's the matter?" repeated Druce, following close behind her.

"I--I don't know," faltered the girl, "I feel wicked somehow."

"Why?" He led her to a bench and sat down beside her. "Haven't I always
treated you like a lady?"

"Yes, Martin, you've been good to me--but--I feel wicked."

Druce laughed. "Nonsense, girlie," he said, "you couldn't be wicked if
you tried. Do you know what you ought to do?"

"What?" she asked.

"Turn your back on this town where nothing ever happens and come to
little old Chicago, the live village by the lake."

"Chicago! What could I do there?"

"Make more money in a month than you can earn here in a year."

"But how?"

"You can sing," said Druce appraisingly. "You're there forty ways when it
comes to looks. Why they'd pay you a hundred dollars a week to sing in
the cabarets."

"Cabarets?" The girl's interest was aroused. "What's a cabaret?"

"A cabaret," said Druce, "is a restaurant where ladies and gentlemen
dine. A fine great hall, polished floors, rugs, palms, a lot of little
tables, colored lights, flowers, silver, cut glass, perfumes, a grand
orchestra--get that in your mind--and then the orchestra strikes up and
you come down the aisle, right through the crowd and sing to them."

"Oh, I'd love to do that," said the girl.

"Why not try it?"

"I--I wouldn't know how to begin."

"I'll show you how."

"Tell me, tell me how, quick."

"Dead easy," Druce explained smoothly. "I'm going back to Chicago on the
evening train tonight. Now there's no use having trouble with your folks.
They wouldn't understand. You tell them you are going over to one of the
neighbors', anything you can think of. That train slows down at the
junction, right across the field there--you can always hear it whistle.
I'll be aboard the last car and I'll take you to Chicago with me. Then
when we get there we--"

He broke off abruptly for Elsie started up from the bench and moved
slowly away.

"What's the matter, girlie?" asked Druce.

"I--I don't know," the girl answered. "There isn't anyone here but just
us, is there?"

"No," replied Druce, watching the girl closely, "why?"

"Because," she half whispered, "it seemed to me just then that someone
touched me on the arm and said, 'Don't go!'"

Druce started. He looked carefully around. Then he laughed.

"You're hearing things tonight, Elsie," he said. "There's no one here but
just you and me." He took her by the hand and was drawing her down to the
bench when suddenly the front door of the cottage opened and Mrs. Welcome
appeared.

"Elsie," she called. She stood framed in the lighted doorway, her eyes
shaded with her hand. Like a shadow Druce faded from his seat beside the
girl and dodged behind a tree out of sight, but in hearing.

"Is that you, Elsie?" asked the mother. "I thought I heard voices. Was
Harvey here?"

"Yes," replied the girl in confusion, "he has just gone."

"You didn't see anything of your father, did you?"

Elsie shook her head. "You--you don't suppose dad's drinking again?" the
girl asked anxiously.

"I suppose so," replied the mother wearily. "He hasn't been here all
day."

"Oh, mother," the girl wailed. "What shall we do?" She sank down on the
seat.

Her mother took her in her arms. "Don't cry," she said. "Come in and help
me get supper."

"I'm waiting for Patience," replied the girl. "I'll be in the house in a
moment. You go ahead with the work. When Patience comes we'll both help
you."

Mrs. Welcome walked back into the cottage. As the door closed behind her
Druce reappeared. He had not missed a word of the conversation between
Elsie and her mother; as he now approached he outlined in his mind an
immediate plan of attack.

"Elsie," he said softly. The girl started.

"I thought you had gone," she said. "No, don't touch me. I'm in trouble.
My father--" she covered her face with her hands.

"Yes, I know," said Druce. "I heard it all. Why do you stay here? Why do
you--"

"It isn't that," retorted the girl, too proud to accept sympathy. "You
made me lie to my mother. That is the first time I ever deceived my
mother."

"Don't cry," said Druce. He drew her to the bench. "Come," he went on,
"be sensible. Dry those tears. Come with me to Chicago."

"How do you know I could get a chance to sing in that place you told me
of?" she demanded, open to argument.

Druce pressed his advantage. "Why," he said, "I'm interested in one
myself. I think I could arrange to place you."

"Martin," said Elsie, "you said you were in the live stock business."

Druce hesitated a moment, toying with his cane. "I am," he said slowly.
"This cabaret--er--is a little speculation on the side. Come now, say
you'll be at the train at eight o'clock."

The girl considered long.

"Think," said Druce, "with one hundred dollars a week you will be able to
take your mother out of this hole. Why, you'll be independent! You owe it
to your family not to let this opportunity escape you."

"I'll go," said Elsie.

"Good! Good for you, I mean," said Druce.

"On one condition," the girl went on.

"What do you mean?"

Elsie got up from her seat embarrassed. "It all depends," she said.

"On what?" demanded Druce.

"On you, Martin."

"Me?" Druce laughed uneasily.

"Yes," said the girl walking close to him and looking him in the face.
"There is only one way I can go to Chicago with you."

"How's that, girlie?" was Druce's astonished question.

Elsie held up her left hand timidly. "With a plain gold ring on that
finger, Martin," she said. She was now blushing furiously. She knew that
she had virtually proposed to Druce. He laughed and something in his
laugh jarred her.

"Oh, marriage," he said.

"You know that Martin, don't you? I couldn't go to Chicago with you any
other way."

Druce took off his hat. "Elsie," he said, "you're as good as gold. I
honor you for your scruples."

He paused to think for a moment. "I'll tell you," he said. "You come
along with me and I'll marry you as soon as we reach Chicago. Meanwhile
I'll telegraph ahead and arrange to have you taken care of by my old
aunt. You'll be as safe with her as if you were in your own home."

"You promise to marry me?"

"Sure I do, girlie." He broke off blusteringly. "What do you take me for?
Do you think I'd lure you to Chicago and then leave you?"

"Martin," said Elsie gravely, "a girl must protect herself."

"You'll go, honey?" Druce persisted.

"I can't tell," replied the girl desperately, anxious to promise and yet
afraid.

"You'll go," said Druce positively, "at eight o'clock--"

A cool voice broke in on his sentence. Druce started like a man suddenly
drenched with cold water.

"What's that is going to happen at eight o'clock, Mr. Druce?"

The speaker was Patience Welcome.



                               CHAPTER VI

                     A ROMANCE DAWNS--AND A TRAGEDY


Patience Welcome shared all the prejudices of her employer, John Price,
against "city chaps." Her observation of those who had presented
themselves in Millville had not raised her estimate of them. As a class
she found them overdressed and underbred. They came into her small town
obsessed with the notion of their superiority. Patience had been at some
pains in a quiet way to puncture the pretensions of as many as came
within scope of her sarcasm. She was not, like many girls of Millville,
so much overwhelmed by the glamour of Chicago that she believed every
being from that metropolis must be of a superior breed. She had
penetration enough to estimate them at their true value. In her
frankness, she made no effort to conceal her sentiments toward them.

But recently there had come into her acquaintance a product of Chicago
whom she could not fit into Mr. Price's city chap category. This was
Harry Boland.

Young Boland, the son of Chicago's "electrical king," was himself
president of his father's Lake City Electrical Company. He was good
looking, quiet, competent and totally lacking in the bumptiousness that
Patience found so offensive in other Chicago youths. Toward him Patience
had been compelled to modify her usual attitude of open aversion to mere
cold reserve. She did not quite comprehend him and until conviction of
his merits came she was determined to occupy the safe ground of
suspicion.

Patience and Harry Boland had first met on a basis that could scarcely
have been more formal. The young man, early in his business career, had
been his father's collector. Part of his duties had consisted of
collecting the rents of a large number of workmen's cottages which the
elder Boland owned at Millville. The Welcomes occupied one of these
cottages. As Tom Welcome not infrequently was unable to pay the rent when
it was due, Boland had had numerous opportunities for seeing Patience,
who was treasurer of the Welcome household.

Her attitude toward him had at first amused, then annoyed and finally
interested him. When he began to understand what was back of her coldness
a respect, such as he had felt for no other girl, developed in him. The
more she held him off the more eager he became for a better acquaintance.
This desire was fed by her repulses. Long ago he had made up his mind
that he loved her. Now, in spite of the social chasm that yawned between
them, he was determined to win her. His intentions toward her were honor
itself. He was determined to marry her.

When Harvey Spencer drove off, after having introduced Patience to
Grogan, the girl started toward her home. She had gone only a short
distance when a quick step behind her appraised her that she was
followed. A moment later Harry Boland appeared at her side, hat in hand.

"How do you do, Miss Welcome?"

"I'm very well, thank you," replied Patience, primly.

"Beautiful day, isn't it?" demanded Harry inanely.

"Yes," agreed Patience, "I love the spring and even Millville is
beautiful now."

"I think it the most beautiful place in the world," declared Harry
enthusiastically.

Patience looked at him in surprise, then colored and laughed. "Do you?"
she said with the accent on the first word.

"I hope," said Harry, "that you don't mind if I smoke."

"Not at all."

There was an awkward silence.

"Patience," Harry used the girl's name for the first time with
deliberation, "why don't you speak to me?"

Patience did not resent the familiarity. "I am thinking," she replied.

"You act as though you do not like me. What have I done?"

"It's not that," replied Patience shortly.

"Then you are trying to avoid me."

"I am."

"Why?"

"Don't you know?" She turned and looked at him squarely. She was
determined to dispose of his attentions then and there.

"I'm not good at riddles."

"Think a moment, then. You are Harry Boland, only son of the richest and
most powerful man in Chicago. I am Patience Welcome, daughter of a broken
inventor, tenant in a cottage which you own, where I cannot pay the rent.
Can there be anything in common between us?"

Harry ignored the question. "You have forgotten one fact," he said. There
was determination in his voice. "Or don't you know it?"

"What is that?" asked Patience over her shoulder, for she had turned from
him.

"That Harry Boland is in love with Patience Welcome."

"What an absurdity!"

"You don't believe me?"

"How can you talk like that to me?" said the girl, now agitated. "Look at
me. You know we are in arrears for rent."

"Don't worry about that."

She turned on him defiantly and looked into his eyes. Then her glance
fell under his more burning one. She flushed and turned away.

"I suppose," she said, huskily with humiliation, "that you have paid the
rent yourself." She was almost in tears.

"Now don't take it like that," pleaded Harry. "No one but you and me will
ever know. And if you will let me I will take you away from all this."

Patience raised her head. She had recovered her composure.

"All men come to that finally," she said coldly. "Even in my slight
experience I have learned the phrase almost by heart. All men say that.
They offer--"

"Just a moment." Harry put out his hand emphatically. "Wait! All the men
in your slight experience may have said it, but all have not meant it. I
mean that if I take you away from all this I shall take you as Mrs. Harry
Boland--as my wife."

"Harry!" His name was wrenched from the girl's very heart by her
surprise.

"Do you believe that I love you now?" demanded Boland.

"Yes. I didn't know, I didn't understand. I have wronged you ever since I
have known you. Forgive me. But your father?"

"Let me call your attention to the fact," said Harry, planting himself
firmly before her, "that I am many years past the age of seven--and can
choose a wife for myself."

"But your father?" insisted Patience.

"Oh, he may rage and fume," retorted Harry, "but I have a standing of my
own. I am president of the Lake City Electric Company that controls dad's
patent light."

"My father was interested in electricity, too--before--"

But Harry interrupted her. "Never mind our fathers," he said. "We are the
chief characters in this romance, you know."

They had reached the path leading to the Welcome cottage. Patience, eager
to end the interview which had thrown her into a state of consternation,
such as she had never experienced before, seized the present opportunity.

"Harry," she said, "please go. We are expecting father home and--I'm
afraid--it won't be pleasant."

"You haven't answered me. I'm off to Chicago tomorrow."

"Tomorrow!" Patience caught her breath quickly.

"Yes, in my new car. I'm going to drive back. I've overstayed my time and
there are business calls which I simply cannot ignore. I'll not insist on
an answer tonight, but will you write me?"

The girl put out her hand which Harry grasped. Her lips quivered and she
breathed, "Yes."

He lifted the hand to his lips, but the girl drew it from him, whispered
"goodby" and darted away. He stood watching her until she disappeared.
Patience hurrying toward the cottage was roused from her tumult of
emotion by the sound of voices. Once she heard the words "eight o'clock,"
without recognizing the speaker. When they were spoken again she knew the
voice as that of Martin Druce. She disliked Druce. The thought of his
being alone with Elsie chilled her.

She came toward him swiftly but in silence. Her question: "What did you
say was going to happen at eight o'clock, Mr. Druce?" was a complete
surprise.

"Eh--why--" stammered Druce, off his guard.

"Why Patience, how late you are," interrupted Elsie to conceal Druce's
confusion.

"Just a little, dear," replied Patience, now confused herself. "I have
been busy at the store." Then she turned to Druce again. "What is it
about eight o'clock--is it something concerning Elsie?" she persisted.

"O, I was just saying that I had to meet a man at the hotel at eight,"
returned Druce, full of assurance again.

"Ah!" said Patience, "well, you'll catch him all right--if you start
now."

Druce laughed. "Here's your hat--what's your hurry, eh?"

"Patience, how can you?" demanded Elsie.

"I didn't mean to be rude," retorted Patience serenely, "only I wouldn't
have him miss that man."

"Oh, I can take a hint." Druce started for the gate. As he reached it he
turned back to the two girls and added:

"I sure hope that man keeps his appointment to meet me at eight o'clock."



                               CHAPTER VII

                   HARRY BOLAND HEARS FROM HIS FATHER


Harry Boland strode away from his interview with Patience deeply occupied
with tumultuous reflections, not seeing the beauties of Millville which,
but a short time before, he had been enthusiastically celebrating. He
was, in fact, a young man walking in a dream. Every word the girl had
uttered, every inflection of her voice, the involuntary confession of
affection won from her by his own no less sudden avowal of love,
projected themselves against his excited mind with all the vividness of
kinetoscope pictures. He was very happy with these reflections that come
to the youth in love when a familiar voice suddenly recalled him to
mundane things.

"Hello, there Harry," said the voice.

It was Grogan's.

"Hello," replied Harry, roused but not displeased to meet his father's
intimate political adviser in this part of the world, "what are you doing
in this part of Illinois?"

"I'm on my way home," replied Grogan, laconically.

"Ah, yes, Dad wrote me. You went to Kansas City, didn't you?"

"I did. Your father caught me on the wire at St. Louis."

"What did the governor want?"

"Nothing much. He told me you were here and suggested that I meet you. He
thought it would be pleasant for us both to have company home."

It dawned on Harry that perhaps his father had not been quite
disinterested in this.

"You're a good politician, Mike," he said shortly.

"Is that a compliment now, or a slander against my character?" Grogan
demanded, smiling.

"Neither," replied Harry. "It's a fact."

"And why, might I ask, have you recalled it at this particular moment?"

"Because your conversation in this particular instance seemed to me to be
that of a person who was concealing something. Politician's talk, Grogan,
is specious, but notable for its reticence."

"Well, Harry," returned Grogan, "your own line of talk is not
particularly illuminating, either."

"What do you mean, Mike?"

"Well, here I am, an old friend of your father's, mixed up with him in
half a dozen deals. I've known you ever since you sat in a high chair and
spooned gruel from a bowl. I come on you in this out of the way corner
and you say never a word of why you're here, or what you're doing. I
think Clam is your middle name."

"Why," replied Harry, "I came down to Millville to collect some rents."

"Only rents?" queried Grogan pointedly.

"What the devil do you mean?"

"Youngsters of your age sometimes amuse themselves
collecting--shirtwaists."

"Stop that, Grogan," retorted Harry angrily.

"Stop what, me boy?"

"I don't like that sort of insinuation."

"Ho," said Grogan, "angry, eh? Then it's as I thought. There's always
fire in the heart when a young man flares up about a girl."

"Look here, Grogan--"

"Easy, boy," interrupted the older man. "I'm your friend and I don't want
to see you get into trouble--with your father, I mean."

"Did he send you to spy on me?" demanded Harry hotly.

"Not at all," returned Grogan suavely, "only he's worried."

"Worried, what the devil about?"

Grogan did not reply.

"I know I've overstayed my time," Harry went on, "but some of these
people have been difficult. I couldn't throw them into the street when
they promised to pay and--"

"I know, I know," put in Grogan. "It's not about you. Your father's
worried about business. One of these crazy reform waves has started in
Chicago. A vice investigating committee is raising ructions."

"What do you mean by a reform wave? What can a vice investigating
committee have to do with my father?"

"Well, you see," Grogan was picking his words carefully, "your father has
large interests. An investigation of that sort unsettles business."

"What started the reform wave?"

"A girl."

"A what?"

"I said a girl," replied Grogan evenly.

Harry laughed.

"Yes," said Grogan, "they all laughed at her at first, just as you are
doing now. But the joke is beginning to lose its point."

"Who is she?"

"Her name," returned Grogan, "is Mary Randall."

"Mary Randall," repeated Harry. The words meant nothing to him. "Who is
she?"

"I don't know," replied Grogan. "I've never met the lady. That's the
mystery of her and she's keeping it well. She belongs to the Randalls of
Chicago--society folk--that's all I know. But she isn't one of these
Michigan boulevard tea party reformers. They just talk. She goes out and
delivers the goods. She's a fighter."

Harry laughed again. "This is good," he said. "An unknown girl, a society
bud, working single handed stirs up Chicago until she gets all of you
alleged smart politicians worrying. Grogan, I'm going to write a comedy
about that."

"Are you now?" said Grogan. "Well, I don't approve of your idea. It's not
funny. The other night they raided the Baker Club and when they came into
court they had evidence enough to hang them all. This Randall girl had
worked in the club for a month as a waitress and she KNEW."

"Still, Mike, that shouldn't affect father."

"Not directly--no," replied Grogan, again picking his words with care,
"but it gives the whole city an unsteady feeling. People won't invest
their money. If I were in your place, my boy, I'd go home."

"I'm off tomorrow in my new car. Better come with me."

"Make it tonight and I will," replied Grogan.

"You're on," agreed Harry. "We'll go tonight." He surveyed the sky. "It's
going to storm," he said; "but even if it does, unless there's a flood
the roads will be good. We'll go tonight."



                              CHAPTER VIII

                        THE DEATH OF TOM WELCOME


Both Harry Boland and Grogan fell silent after having reached their
agreement to return to Chicago immediately. To a degree both men
regretted the decision.

Grogan had accomplished the purpose for which the elder Boland had
despatched him to Millville--that of disentangling Harry from his
romance--but what he had seen of Patience Welcome had led him to dislike
his task.

Harry had no sooner promised to drive back to Chicago in the night than
he was assailed with yearning to see the girl again. Each occupied
himself with his own thoughts. Dusk descended on the village. They had
reached the corner of the street that led to their hotel when they were
arrested by a maudlin voice.

"I'm all right, I tell you, Harve."

Two men came out from beneath the shadow of the trees and could be seen
dimly under the sickly gleam of a street light. One leaned heavily
against the other.

"Sure, you're all right," replied the drunken man's companion in a voice
both recognized as that of Harvey Spencer. "I'm just going to see you as
far as your house." He spoke in the voice people use in humoring drunken
men and children.

"I hain't drunk, Harve," insisted Harvey's companion.

"Of course, you ain't," replied Harvey, "come on."

"I'm just overcome with the heat. I--"

The reeling man broke off suddenly. He saw Harry and Grogan.

"Who the devil are you?" he demanded truculently.

"My name is Harry Boland," replied the young man.

"Oh, the son of John Boland, eh?" jeered the drunken man. "Son of John
Boland, 'lectric light king. John Boland's son, eh?"

"Yes," replied Harry sharply, "what of it?"

"Nothing I can prove," retorted Welcome, grimly, "only--give my regards
to your father. Just tell him Tom Welcome sends his regards. He'll know."
He began to whimper softly. "Poor old Tom Welcome, who might have been
riding in his carriage this day." He stopped whining abruptly and snarled
at the young man: "If there was any justice on God's earth--"

Welcome lurched forward. Harry grasped his wrist and peered into his
bloated face.

"What do you mean by that?" he demanded.

Grogan interrupted a good deal agitated. "He doesn't mean anything," he
said, "he's just drunk. Come, boy, let's get out of here."

"I want to know--" persisted Harry, but he dropped Welcome's arm.

"Don't be a fool," commanded Grogan, "can't you see the man's drunk? Come
on."

"But I tell you I want to know--"

"Oh, you don't know anything!"

Harry was about to retort angrily when Grogan seized his wrist with an
iron grip and swung him around the corner. Half dragging the young man
along with him he got him to the hotel. There Grogan succeeded in
convincing him of the folly of engaging in a street argument with a
dipsomaniac he did not know.

Meanwhile Harvey and Welcome continued their slow and stumbling journey
to the Welcome cottage. Welcome, after his interview with Harry Boland
was in a savage mood. A debauch of two days had left him virtually a mad
man. It required all of Harvey's diplomacy to get him into his house
quietly.

The lights were burning in the living room when they arrived. Harvey
convoyed his swaying companion to the back of the house, opened the door
quietly and pushed him in. Mrs. Welcome and the two girls were in the
living room, but the wind was sighing without and they heard nothing. A
storm had come up with the setting of the sun and occasional flashes of
lightning lighted the darkened room where Welcome found himself while the
thunder deadened the sound of his stumbling feet. He made his way through
the kitchen to a bedroom and sank down exhausted on a bed.

But Tom Welcome could not sleep. Every nerve in his body jangled. The
interview with young Boland, for reasons which will be apparent to the
reader later, had aroused in him a smouldering anger. He tossed
restlessly on his couch.

While he lay there he heard some one knocking at the front door. All of
his perceptions had grown abnormally keen. He heard a boy's voice and
recognized it as that of a neighbor's son.

"It's me, Jimmie," said the boy. "Pa sent me over with Elsie's veil. She
dropped it while she was out in the auto this afternoon."

He heard the door close and then the accusing voice of his wife
demanding:

"Elsie, who have you been out with, automobiling?"

"I was out this afternoon with Martin Druce," replied the girl defiantly.

"Then," went on the mother, conscious that a crisis of some sort between
her and her daughter was approaching, "you were talking to him this
evening and not to Harvey Spencer? You told me a falsehood?"

"What if I did?" Elsie's tone was low and stubborn.

Mrs. Welcome began to sob.

"Mother, mother," pleaded Patience, "Elsie didn't mean--"

"I did mean it," flared back Elsie. "I did mean it! Why shouldn't I go
autoing when I have the chance? Isn't life in Millville hard enough
without--" She paused overcome by a wave of passion. "I'm tired of
Millville," she exclaimed, "I'm tired of the factory. I'm tired of living
here as we do in this miserable, tumble-down place we call home. I'm
tired of working like a slave, while a drunken father--"

The words had scarcely left the girl's lips when Tom Welcome, red-eyed,
dishevelled, swaying, appeared in the doorway behind her. His face was
lit with demoniac passion. He rushed at the girl and she screamed in
terror. With a vicious lunge he struck her down and then, seizing her by
the hair, dragged her into the bedroom where, amid her cries, he rained
blow after blow upon her.

Harvey Spencer, just passing through the gate, heard the first scream. He
rushed back into the house as Welcome, finished for the moment with
Elsie, had returned to the cottage living room and was approaching his
wife menacingly. He seized the raging man by the collar and hurled him
into a corner.

"Stay there," he said, "or I'll brain you."

Welcome stood for a moment glaring at the intruder. He attempted to
speak, but foam flecked his lips and seemed to choke his voice. His eyes
acquired a fixed and unearthly stare. He raised his fist as though to
strike and then plunged headlong to the floor.

Patience was the first to reach her father's side. A vivid flash of
lightning followed by a terrific detonation of thunder rocked the
cottage.

"He's dying," screamed Patience.

Mrs. Welcome, forgetting past injuries, sprang to her husband's side.

"Tom," she wailed, "speak to me. Tom--Tom, I'm your wife--"

The dying man tried to sit up. His mania had passed. He patted his wife's
shoulder feebly and smiled. A great weakness had come into his face.
"Forgive me," he said, "I didn't know--I didn't know what I was doing. It
was the drink. I am going. Call Elsie!"

Patience sprang toward the bedroom, but it was empty. The open doors
through the kitchen showed how she had fled. As she searched frantically
for her sister, the little clock on the mantel slowly struck the hour of
eight.

"She's gone," cried Patience. A premonition of the tragedy of Elsie's
flight flashed upon her mind. "Oh," she cried, "my little lost sister! My
little lost sister!"

"Gone," cried Harvey. "Gone where?" He opened the door. The rain was
falling pitilessly. "Not out into this storm. Someone must find her." He
rushed out into the darkness.

"Gone!" echoed Tom Welcome. His voice was hollow as a knell. The
drink-racked body stiffened in a spasm and then dropped limply into his
weeping wife's arms. "Gone!" he gasped.

Tom Welcome was dead.

Another flash of lightning and a roar of thunder. The two women strove to
revive the corpse. At last the dreadful realization came to them that Tom
Welcome would never speak again. The wind smote the cottage and the light
in the single lamp in the room fluttered as though in mortal terror. The
skies were shattered with a final climactic crash of thunder. The mother
and daughter, alone in that chamber of death, clung to each other
silently feeling themselves isolated from all mankind, with even the
elements storming against them.

While they waited, blanched and terror-stricken, for the last
reverberations of the thunder, the whistle of the Fast Express, bound
from Millville to the great city, rose wildly on the air, like the scream
of an exultant demon, and died away in a series of weird and mocking
echoes into the night.



                               CHAPTER IX

                 IN WHICH SOME OF CHICAGO'S BEST PEOPLE
                      ESSAY A TASK TOO BIG FOR THEM


Lucas Randall inserted his key into the door and let himself into his
Michigan boulevard residence. The butler, busy in one of the reception
rooms, looked up merely to nod a welcome as he entered. Mr. Randall
turned to the mirror in the hallway. He saw the reflection of a man sixty
years of age, gray but well preserved, intelligent but not forceful.

As he turned from the glass he saw his wife descending the broad stairs.
She was small and fragile. In her youth she had had a delicate pink and
gold beauty. The years had worn away the pink and the gold but had left a
spirituality that seemed even finer.

"I'm glad you're home early, Luke dear," he heard her saying. Then
noticing his air of abstraction she added: "Did you forget after all,
Luke?"

"Forget," he repeated blankly, "forget what, Lucy?"

"Oh you man!" replied his wife as if man were a word of reproach. "The
church committee is to be here this afternoon to formulate its report on
vice conditions."

"Oh, that!" Mr. Randall chuckled. "Yes, I had forgotten, but anyhow I
made it, you see. How's Mary?"

"Very well--" Mrs. Randall broke off suddenly. There was a troubled look
in her eyes. Then she added lightly almost to herself: "What a queer
child!"

"Queer?"

"Yes, Luke, queer," returned Mrs. Randall. Again that troubled look.
"Luke, dear, I want to make a confession. I don't understand Mary. After
your brother Henry died, when we insisted that Mary come and live with
us, it seemed wicked to leave her in that great house alone--and we have
no children. Now, there are times I am almost sorry we did it. It isn't
that I want to criticise Mary"--noticing her husband's look of
surprise--"I know she loves us both and yet--well, I have the feeling
that we don't really know her. The intimacy I had longed for hasn't
developed. She seems to live a part of her time in another world than
ours." She broke off again, laughing nervously. "Do you know," she said,
"I sometimes have the feeling that Mary lives a sort of double
life--nothing evil, you know--but uncanny. She's not unkind nor lacking
in affection for either of us, but often when we are together it seems to
me that her mind is miles away."

"Queer, eh?" said Mr. Randall, sympathetically. "Well, her father was
like that."

"It's not strange if she is like her father," charged Mrs. Randall. "He
brought her up like a boy. After her mother died she was more like a chum
to him than a daughter."

Lucas Randall became meditative.

"The church work, now," he asked, "does she seem interested?"

"At first I think she was. I took her on some of my regular poor people
calls. She seemed interested--too interested. Why, one day I lost her in
a tenement on Kosciusko street. I had to come home without her, half wild
with anxiety. She rushed in an hour later and when I questioned her as to
where she had been she replied that she had found a poor Scotch family
and had been so interested that she had forgotten me. 'Forgotten'--that's
the very word she used. She said she had been 'seeking the causes of
poverty.' I told her poverty came from people being poor, but that did
not seem to satisfy her. She asked me why they were poor. I answered that
often it was because they were shiftless. 'Not always,' she replied,
'these Scotch people, aunt, dear, were strangely like you and me.' She
spoke as if I were the one who did not understand."

"And since then?"

"Well, she has seemed to prefer going alone." Mrs. Randall paused on the
verge of a new confession. "Luke, dear," she went on hurriedly, "Mary
goes into sections of the city you have warned me not to visit!"

"Not the Levee?"

"Just that."

"Good Lord," ejaculated Mr. Randall, "surely she doesn't go alone?"

"Yes, except for her maid."

"That girl she took from the Refuge?"

"Anna."

"Where is Mary now?"

"In her room."

"She'll come down to the committee meeting, I suppose?"

"I asked her and she replied that of course she would come."

"Has she been out today, Lucy?"

"Nearly all day."

"Calls, I suppose."

"No, she's been attending the hearings of the vice commission."

"In God's name, why?" Mr. Randall was really disturbed.

"I asked her that very question. She replied that the proceedings
interested her."

"Heavens!" Mr. Randall paced the room. "'Interested' her! A girl with an
income she can't possibly spend, a girl who might have anything, do
anything, go anywhere, marry any man--"

He broke off suddenly. "Lucy," he demanded, "is there any man Mary might
care for? That good looking young curate, for instance?"

Mrs. Randall shook her head emphatically. "No, Luke," she said. "If you
were to ask me to name the two things Mary never gives a thought to I'd
say men and matrimony. And that's another thing about her I cannot
fathom."

Further confidences were cut short by the entrance of the butler
announcing the Rev. Thomas Brattle, a clergyman of sixty with an old
fashioned flowing white beard, small white hands and shiny gold-bowed
spectacles, and Marvin Lattimer, a business man with a turn for religious
activities. Desultory conversation followed broken by the entrance of
Mrs. Sumnet-Ives, a well preserved woman of forty and a social power, and
Miss Emma Laforth, slender, dark, intelligent looking and gifted with a
political acumen that had given her an unassailable position in women's
club circles. They were escorted by Grove Evans, plump, wealthy, well
born, mildly interested in reform because reform was the proper thing,
and Wyat Carp, a lawyer with literary tendencies.

Greetings and small talk; then Lucas Randall led the way to the library.
There the Rev. Mr. Brattle, clearing his throat in an official manner,
established himself before a priceless seventeenth century table of
carved mahogany.

"The meeting will come to order," he announced.

A circle of chairs had been drawn up before the table. The committee
members occupied them with a subdued rustle of garments. The Rev. Mr.
Brattle watched the circle benignly, waiting for a moment of total
silence. When he spoke his voice was smooth, finely modulated, pitched in
the right key. His manner, in fact, was perfect. Indeed, in the spacious
luxury of Lucas Randall's fine library no one could have appeared to
better advantage.

"Dear friends," he said, beaming about him, "we are gathered here, as you
know, to formulate the report of our investigation into vice conditions.
You have labored long and faithfully. Now the time has come to put forth
the fruit of your labors in a form at once concrete and illuminating."

He paused, then continued:

"The problem we are approaching is world-old. Mankind has struggled with
it intermittently since civilization began. Apparently we have made no
progress. The twentieth century, in fact, with its terrific congestion in
cities, its vast consumption of nervous energy and its universal
commercialism, has complicated our problem. But with these new
complications have come new means for warring against the evil.
Intelligence on the subject is more general. Fine minds everywhere are
addressing themselves to the riddle. Thus it seems that humanity is at
last coming to grips with the traffic in women. Who knows but that out of
this little gathering may not be evolved some theory which, injected into
the circulation of modern life, shall immunize us against this social
malady."

There was subdued applause.

"As my time has been somewhat occupied," the clergyman went on, "I have
asked Mr. Carp to employ his well known literary gift in formulating our
report. Let me add that I have read our brother's resumé of our
investigations and endorse it fully as to the facts found."

Meanwhile Wyat Carp, with his best poet's air, had arisen and bowed to
the little circle. He laid a terrifying number of manuscript sheets on
the table and polished his glasses with his silk handkerchief. His was
the subdued manner of a surgeon about to perform an operation and, it
must be confessed, his audience felt some of the sensations of the
patient.

"My friends," began Wyat Carp, "in putting before you what I trust you
may see fit to adopt as our united report I am naturally moved by a
feeling of delicacy--"

He paused, for directly behind the little circle of hearers the heavy
curtains had been pushed aside, and a girl stood framed there against the
dull red of the draperies. She was rather above medium height, with a
figure rounded by exercise, a face oval and lighted by deep blue eyes
underneath masses of burnished, coppery hair. Her personality seemed to
fill the room. She breathed wholesomeness, vigor, sincerity and purpose.

As Lucas Randall half started from his chair the girl put out her hand
and checked him.

"No, Uncle Luke," she said, "don't disturb yourself. I've been standing
just outside the door for several minutes waiting for a moment to slip in
quietly."

She bowed to them all, and seated herself near the window overlooking the
boulevard.

"Just go on with the report, Mr. Carp," she said, "I assure you I am most
eager to hear it."

Wyat Carp coughed gently and picked up his manuscript.

"Thank you, Miss Randall," he began gravely, "I--I--"

"You were saying that you were moved by a feeling of delicacy," prompted
the girl.

"Thank you, Miss Randall." Mr. Carp bowed. "I--er--am experiencing a
feeling of embarrassment because this is a meeting of both sexes and the
subject is one which, only recently, has been discussed in mixed company.
When one so young as yourself is present--"

"Oh," replied the girl, a shade of amusement in her voice, "please don't
let my youth interfere with our deliberations. I assure you that, young
as I may appear to be, I am quite familiar with the matter we have under
consideration."

This remarkable declaration caused something of a real sensation. Mrs.
Sumnet-Ives mentally put the speaker down as "a pert little chit." Grove
Evans was amused, for he disliked Carp. Mrs. Randall catalogued it as
another ebullition of Mary's queerness; even her uncle, despite an
affection that accepted everything Mary did as right and proper, felt
himself a little shocked. As for Miss Laforth, she favored Miss Randall
with a long, inventorying inspection. Here, she reflected, might be a
future political rival.

Mr. Carp began to read slowly with here and there a pause to enable his
audience to catch a subtle turn of phrase or the flowing rhythm of his
periods. He read while the light grew fainter and the fire glowed more
brightly, read until Lucas Randall leaned across the table and switched
on the light in the great brass lamp.

Mary Randall, deep in her easy chair beside the window and lulled by the
soporific monotone of Mr. Carp's voice, saw the afternoon darken into
dusk and the dusk deepen into night. Before her half-closed eyes the
city, slowly but purposefully, began to throw off the habiliments of day
and don the tinsel of evening. One by one, from far down the spacious
avenue, the street lamps glowed into bulbs of color which the wet
asphalt, like a winding black mirror, caught up and flung against the
polished finishings of a swift and silent train of automobiles and the
windows of the nearby mansions.

And still Wyat Carp read on and on, skirting the outer circle of
forbidden subjects, leading up to closed doors he made no attempt to
open, expatiating voluminously on conditions that all the world knew,
elucidating the obvious, ranging from one platitude to another--and
avoiding the vital and concrete as though it were poisonous. And as Mr.
Carp read Mary became oppressed with his total futility.

Mrs. Ives risked a hasty glance at her jeweled wrist watch.

"Doesn't the man know it's nearly time to dine?" she wondered.

Grove Evans, with a dinner engagement at the club and a place bespoken in
a quiet poker game afterward, squirmed in his chair and cursed Wyat Carp
silently. Finally, with a last rhetorical flourish, Mr. Carp quite
suddenly ended. He sat down amid a murmur of applause.

"Wonderful," exclaimed Mrs. Ives. She was agreeably astonished that Mr.
Carp should ever have finished.

"Very full, concise and to the point," was Miss Laforth's verdict.

"Great!" announced Grove Evans, really delighted, for he would be in time
for dinner at the club after all.

The Rev. Thomas Brattle gazed about the circle with a bland smile. "I am
glad," he said, "to have my judgment indorsed by such excellent critics."

Then, rapping gently on the table, he glanced about him. "A motion is in
order before we adjourn, my friends," he stated, expectantly.

"I move Mr. Carp's report be adopted as it stands," said Marvin Lattimer
breathlessly. He had waited patiently all afternoon to speak just those
words. His business judgment, as applied to social affairs, had taught
him the wisdom of getting into the record. He was only a recent confidant
of this inner circle of All Souls and he aspired to remain where he was.
Besides, it would be something to tell the socially ambitious Mrs.
Lattimer when he got home. There was a second from Miss Laforth.

"You hear the motion," breathed the reverend chairman. "Those in favor
will please say 'aye.'" As they all responded he beamed upon them. He
turned with a deprecatory glance to Carp. "And as a matter of form, those
contrary minded will please signify by saying 'no.'"

He waited a moment. Quite clearly and distinctly Mary Randall spoke:

"No!"

The tiny monosyllable seemed to echo and reecho through the high-ceiled
room. There was a most embarrassing silence.

"Mary," faltered Mrs. Randall.

Mary came over and pressed her hand against her aunt's shoulder. "Believe
me," she said, "I don't mean to wound you. You don't understand." Then
turning to the Rev. Mr. Brattle, she went on: "But I must insist that my
vote in the negative be recorded in the minutes of this meeting."

"May I inquire the cause of your--er--peculiar attitude?" asked the
clergyman.

"Do you think that fair, Dr. Brattle?"

"Possibly not fair, but perhaps our curiosity is pardonable." There was
suppressed sarcasm in his retort.

"In your little speech of introduction, my dear doctor," said the girl,
"you advanced the suggestion that this meeting might evolve some theory
that would rid society of the social evil. The great trouble with this
report is that it is all theory. I have no quarrel with the facts that
Mr. Carp has given us, except that they are old--'world old,' as I think
you said. Weeks have been spent on this investigation and yet there is
not one word--not a single word--that answers the appeal going up in this
city day after day from thousands of unfortunate women. We sit here,
after weeks of investigation, and listen to a homily. The time is past in
Chicago for homilies. The question is: What are we going to do about it?
Helpless thousands are asking us that question and we answer it with a
treatise full of 'world-old' truth and full of 'theory.' Mr. Carp speaks
of the resorts on Dunkirk street being 'questionable'--"

"They are questionable," defended Mr. Carp stoutly.

"Questionable, Mr. Carp," replied Mary, "is a gentle word. These resorts
are a shrieking infamy. They are markets in which young girls are sold
like cattle."

"How do you know that?" demanded Grove Evans, almost rudely. He felt his
club appointment slipping away from him and the poker game owed him two
hundred dollars.

Mary looked from her aunt to her uncle.

"I know," she replied, "because I have been there. I know because I
myself bought four girls there!"

The company gasped its surprise.

"I told them I was 'in the business' in Seattle," the speaker continued.
"I told them I wanted to buy. I asked for four girls--four young girls.
They sold me four for one hundred dollars each."

There was a silence for a long moment. It was broken by Marvin Lattimer.

"Impossible!" he exclaimed.

Mary looked at him sadly. "There is one fact more impossible than that,
Mr. Lattimer," she said. "It is that men of the world like you--men who,
above all others, should make it their business to know these
things,--cry out 'Impossible!' when such a fact is exhibited before you
in all its hideousness."

"You should have had the man who sold those girls arrested," blurted
Grove Evans.

"I did," replied Mary quietly, "and _The Reporter_, in which you are a
part owner, suppressed publication of the fact. I had the man arrested
and Jim Edwards, the politician who holds the district in the hollow of
his hand, prevented the case from going to trial. That man walks the
streets of Chicago free and without bond."

The girl turned to Dr. Brattle again.

"Doctor," she said, "you are a clergyman. You are the shepherd of the
flock. Are you, too, deaf to the appeal that goes up daily from the sinks
of this city,--from hundreds of ruined girls? Do you, too, stand by while
wolves rend the lambs? Do you deny the existence of the wolf?"

"We can only strive to educate these women, to teach them the error of
their way," pleaded the shepherd.

"But, doctor, while you are educating one, the wolves are tearing down
twenty. They 'educate,' too, and their facilities are better than yours."

The girl stopped breathlessly and, stooping swiftly, kissed her aunt.
There were tears in her eyes.

"Don't worry about me," she said.

Then suddenly she crossed the room and threw open the door. The maid,
Anna, stood there with a satchel at her feet and Mary's cloak upon her
arm. Mary picked up the satchel and turned toward the street door.

"The time for theory alone is over," she said, addressing the company.
"Someone has got to go into action against the wolves."

The door swung behind her and she stepped out into the boulevard.



                                CHAPTER X

                   THE ADVENTURES OF A NEWSPAPER STORY


Great cities thrive on sensations. The yellow journal with its blatant
enthusiasms and its brazen effrontery finds a congenial habitat there,
not because it is brazen, nor even because it is enthusiastic, but
because it supplies a community need. The screaming headline is a mental
cocktail. Bellowed forth by a trombone-lunged newsboy, it crashes against
the eye, the ear and the brain simultaneously. It whips up tired nerves.
It keys the crowd to the keen tension necessary for the doing of the
city's business. And the crowd likes it. Fed hourly on mental stimulants,
it becomes a slave to its newspapers.

On the morning after Mary Randall's dramatic exit from her uncle's
mansion Chicago awoke and clutched at the morning papers with all the
eagerness of a drunkard reaching for his dram. A hint of a powerful new
thrill lay in the half disclosed first pages. Black headings and
"freaked" makeup meant but one thing--a big story.

And Chicago was not disappointed. Occupying the place of honor on the
first pages of all of the morning sheets was the announcement of a new
assault upon the Vice Trust. To the crowd the name Mary Randall meant
nothing. It knew little of her and cared less. But the idea of a young
girl, beautiful, socially prominent, immensely wealthy in her own right,
declaring war single-handed on a monster so mightily armored and
intrenched and so brutally strong as the Vice Trust appealed instantly to
the crowd's imagination. In the crowd's thought, at least, the girl
became a heroine. And though the man in the street openly wearing an air
of cheap cynicism spoke of her as "another crazy reformer" or as a
"notoriety-hunting crank," secretly he responded to the enthusiasm of the
headline writer who announced her as a "modern Joan of Arc."

Mary had given out the story herself. A simple letter from her to the
city editors announcing that she had left her home and all the luxuries
that such a home implied and, accompanied only by a maid, had set forth
on a war of extermination against the "vice ring" had been sufficient to
set every local room in the city in a frenzy. Re-write men and head
writers had done the rest. Every newspaper recorded the launching of her
adventure with a luxuriance of illustration and a variety of detail that
left nothing more to be said on the subject. Mary had counted rather
shrewdly on this. She possessed, among her other natural gifts, a keen
judgment of news values. She knew, too, the immense power of the press.
By enlisting the agencies of publicity behind her she had multiplied her
forces a thousand-fold. At the end of her letter Mary had written a
modest appeal to the public. Every newspaper printed it under display
type. It read as follows:

                   "TO THE MEN AND WOMEN OF CHICAGO.

"Our city, which should be the heart of American honor, is in the grip of
a hideous System. So quietly and surely has this monster worked that our
civic blood is poisoned. It feeds upon youth, innocence and purity--all
that we as decent citizens love best. I call upon you all to stand by me
now in my fight to kill the White Slave Traffic.

                                                         "Mary Randall."

Grove Evans read that appeal through and smiled at its naïveté. Then he
looked across his office to his partner, William Brierly, a younger man
with pompadour hair and an habitual air of immense self-satisfaction.
Brierly was reading the same story in another newspaper. He, too, looked
up and smiled.

"You know this girl, don't you, Grove?" Brierly asked. "By George, she
must be interesting. A new kind of female maniac, eh?"

"You've met her," responded Evans. "She was at the Country Club during
trophy match last fall. Carries herself like a queen. I remember your
raving about her."

"Ah," Brierly's derisive smile faded. "That girl, eh? Say, I saw her make
the ninth hole in three. That girl! Say, look here, Grove," he struck the
open paper with his palm, "does she mean this stuff?"

Evans lighted a cigarette before replying. "She sure does," he stated
finally. "I was at the Randalls when she delivered her ultimatum and took
to the war path. Talk about a jolt! After she left us, you could hear the
shades of night falling. For ten minutes we sat there exhibiting all the
vivacity of a deaf and dumb man at a Quaker prayer-meeting."

Brierly laughed. "Oh, well," he said. "She'll do what all these
suffragettes do--run around in a circle, yell herself tired, then marry
some fellow and forget it."

He yawned. Evans turned to the huge safe and got out a heavy packet of
papers.

"What are you doing, Grove?" Brierly demanded lazily.

"Nothing," responded Evans curtly. "Just looking over some of our shady
leases."

"Hello!" said Brierly, getting on his feet. "Are you taking this thing
seriously?"

Evans turned with a folded paper in his hand.

"You bet your life I am," he replied. "I know this girl. There's a strain
of wild Irish in her and it's my opinion that she's going to raise merry
hell!"

The dreamer who had visited the Millville Button Works with the owner of
the mill lunched with his friend in the city that day. Quite casually,
among other items of interest, Mary Randall's adventure came up for
discussion.

"I don't know the girl," said the mill-owner, "but her announcement gives
me a fairly good mental picture of her."

"What's your picture?" inquired the journalist.

"A rag and a bone and a hank of hair, one of these raving suffragettes.
Since bomb-throwing and burning are not fashionable over here, she's
chosen this means of expending her surplus energy."

"My dear friend, you're entirely wrong!"

"What! You've seen her?"

"Oh, no, but I have quite a different mental picture of her. You remember
Joan of Arc? Mount her on a charger, hand her a sword of fire and send
her forth to fight for Mary Magdalene. That's my idea."

"You've borrowed that from the headline writers," the mill-owner said.

"Not at all. I know the type. A thoughtful young girl, healthy,
cultivated and, by the modern miracle, taught how to think. She studies
vice conditions in Chicago at first hand and what she sees turns her into
a crusader. This girl has spirit. Brought face to face with a great evil,
moved by the appeal of helpless womanhood, she throws aside her veneer of
false education."

"Unsexed!"

"Yes, if you would say that the crisis in her life unsexed Portia. Or the
crisis in France's history unsexed Charlotte Corday."

"You're fond of historical allusions," chided the practical man. "Always
the literary man, always the dreamer. This girl is a disturber. She'll
unsettle business."

"Ah, there you are. 'Unsettles business.' Did it ever strike you business
men that you take yourselves too damn seriously? Any movement, any
agitation that 'unsettles business' is ipse facto wrong. You business men
have had a hand in the martyring of most of the saints and all of the
reformers since time began. And, invariably, you are wrong. Why, you're
wrong even about yourselves. You firmly believe that the foundations of
the country rest upon you. As a matter of fact, not one per cent of you
are producers. You're middlemen, profit shavers, parasites."

"My dear fellow," asked his friend, "where would you be if business
men--publishers--didn't buy your wares?"

"Ha," answered the writer, "and where would the publishers be if I and
others didn't produce the wares to market? It won't do. The reason the
newspapers and magazines of this country are so bad is because most of
the publishers are not newspaper men and magazine writers, but merely
business men."

"Well, I suppose your Joan of Arc will have to have her fling. Then life
will swing back to its same old channels and we'll forget her."

"Yes, she will have her fling and perhaps we'll forget her, but life will
not swing back to the same old channel. She'll make a new channel,
forgotten though she may be, and it will be a better channel."

                    *       *       *       *       *

Captain Shammer of the Eighth police district read Mary Randall's open
letter through slowly and carefully. When he had finished he lighted a
long black cigar from a box that had been sent him by a world famous
confidence man. He smoked thoughtfully for some time. Then he put out a
heavy hand and, without looking, pressed a white button at the side of
his desk.

A sharp-eyed young man opened the captain's door.

"Nick," said the captain, "shut that door a minute and come over here."
He pointed to the black newspaper headline.

"Get that?" he demanded.

"Sure, first thing this morning, Captain."

"Well?"

"We should worry."

Captain Shammer rolled his cigar in his mouth. He wasn't exactly
satisfied with the answer.

"All right," he agreed finally, "but Nick--"

"Yes, Captain." Nick paused alertly, one hand on the door knob.

"Easy for a while until we see how things break on this."

"Aye, aye, sir!"

"Curtains drawn, you know, and back rooms quiet. Tell the girls to go
slow on the piano playing. Did Ike, the dip, come across?"

"Not yet, Captain."

"Pinch him today and give him the cooler. Get me?"

"It's done, cap."

"Close in on the stuss games. Pass the word to go easy."

"I get you."

"Mary Randall, eh?" asked Captain Shammer of vacancy when his aid had
gone. "Mary Randall! Well, Mary, you sure have got your nerve with you."

Senator Barker was a member of the Governor's vice investigating
committee. The committee had been appointed to frame a minimum wage law
for women. He was a person of ponderous bulk and mental equipment. He had
slipped into office, not because the people yearned for him, but because
there had happened to be a battle on between two factions of his natural
political opponents in the fortunate hour he had selected for aspiring to
office. Like most other American officeholders he spent his days and
nights scheming out ways to continue living at the public's expense. He
perused Mary Randall's screed as he sat over his morning grape-fruit.

In an intermission in the committee meeting Senator Barker leaned across
the heavy oak table and pointed out the letter to the Rev. Wallace
Stillwell.

"Did you see that?" he inquired huskily.

Mr. Stillwell nodded and drew his thin lips together. He was quite young
and just now carried the burden of having been called from an obscure
country pulpit to a fashionable church in Chicago. He knew that the
wealthy man who was his sponsor in this new position was interested in
whole blocks of houses whose curtains were always drawn. He had never
forgotten a certain phrase that great man had used when he came in his
own automobile to bear the young pastor to the new field of his labors.

"We want you, Mr. Stillwell," he had said, "because we believe you to be
a safe and sane man, one who will not be swept off his feet by wild-eyed
reformers and the anarchistic tendencies of the times."

Mr. Stillwell, therefore, knew why he was wanted in Chicago. The
knowledge made him cautious in all things. He thought Senator Barker's
question over carefully. Then he nodded calmly.

"Why, yes, Senator," he answered. "One could hardly avoid reading it."

"Well, what about it?"

"Just what do you mean, Senator?"

"You know. What do you think of it, eh?"

"It seems to me," purred the Rev. Wallace Stillwell, "that the whole
exploit is worse than fantastic. It is hardly in good taste.
Investigations of the kind this girl has undertaken ought to be left to
the men."

"That's all right," put in the Senator, gloomily, "but I've noticed
lately that the women don't seem to be willing to do that. They want to
take a hand in such matters themselves." He leaned back in his chair
sadly. "It certainly makes it hard for us politicians."

                    *       *       *       *       *

A woman of ample girth and a handmade complexion pushed her coffee cup
away and lighted a fresh cigarette. She had just finished reading Mary
Randall's manifesto. Nature had made her beautiful, but advancing years
and too much art had all but destroyed Nature's handicraft. She inhaled
the acrid smoke deeply and then raising her voice, called:

"Celeste! You, Celeste!"

A mulatto girl threw open the door, crying:

"Yes, madame?"

"What you doing?"

"Cleaning up."

"Get a bottle of wine. Or did those high rollers guzzle it all last
night, the drunken beasts?"

"No, madame. I've saved one for you." She opened the bottle and placed
the effervescent liquid before her mistress.

"All right, Celeste. Anybody up yet?"

"I hardly think so, madame."

"Well, I'm up and I wish I wasn't," announced a girl who appeared at that
moment coming down the broad staircase. She entered the room.

"Got a head this morning, eh, Nellie?" said the madame, knowingly.

"Yes, I've got a head," replied Nellie sullenly, "and a grouch."

"Make it two, Celeste," said the madame promptly, indicating the bottle.
The colored maid poured out another glass of the liquor. Madame threw the
paper across the table to the girl.

"There," she said, "that's something that will make you worse."

"Where?" asked the girl, as she caught up the paper.

"Front page, big headlines. You can't miss it."

The girl stepped to the window and pushed aside the heavy curtain. In the
morning light she was revealed there petite and charming, despite
penciled eyebrows and carmined lips. Her figure was daintily
proportioned. There was grace in every line. Her deep brown eyes glowed
as she read the words Mary Randall had written.

When she finished reading the girl crumpled the paper in her hand and
filled another glass. She lifted the wine slowly.

"Here's to you, Mary Randall," she said.

"That's a rotten toast," said the madame.

"Is it?" replied the girl. "Well, let me tell you something. I'd like to
go straight out of this house and find Mary Randall and say to her: 'I'm
with you, Mary Randall, and I hope to God you win out.'"

"You don't think of me," whined the older woman. "Look what a knock that
reform stuff gives business."

"You!" Nellie's temper flared into a flame. "Say, you ought to be in
jail! Now don't start anything you can't finish--" The older woman had
got to her feet menacingly. "You don't deserve no pity. You got into
this"--she indicated the gaudily furnished house by a gesture, "with your
eyes wide open. You picked out this business for yourself. But with me
it's different." She leaned across the table defiantly. "Yes, how about
me? How about Lottie and Emma--and that poor kid that came here happy
because she thought she'd found a decent job? Did we pick out this
business? Did we? Not on your life. We walked into a trap and we can't
get out. Yes, and there's thousands like us all over this country." She
snatched up the bottle and poured more wine. "I'm for you, Mary Randall,"
she said, raising the glass to the sunlight. "More power to your elbow!"

                    *       *       *       *       *

Mary Randall read the newspapers in a garret room of a tall lodging
house. A pile of letters, in a peculiar shade of dark blue, sealed,
stamped and ready for the postoffice, lay in a heap before her. She went
through each newspaper carefully, noting the display and studying the
"features" of her story that had impressed the newspaper men. At last she
laid them down.

"Well, Anna," she said, smiling, addressing her maid. "We've made a good
beginning. The town, you see, is interested in us."

Anna's ordinarily impassive face smiled back at her mistress' enthusiasm.
Her blue eyes lighted with admiring loyalty. She was blonde, big boned
and so strongly built as to look actually formidable. Competency and
reserve power fairly radiated from her. Her voice betrayed her
Scandinavian ancestry.

"Ya-as," she said, "and in another week they'll be fighting for us."

Mary got up from her chair and went to the window, threw it wide open and
looked out on the city. She saw its myriad lights rimming the shore of
the inland sea. She heard its roar--deep, passionate, powerful. In her
imagination she laid her ear close to the city's heart and she heard it
beat strong and true. The smile had left her face and a prayer formed
itself silently on her lips. The revery lasted only a moment.

"And now," she said, "for the next movement in the battle." She indicated
the letters. "There's our ammunition, Anna," she said. "Mail them. I've
picked you for a great honor. You're to open the engagement with a
fusillade of bombshells."



                               CHAPTER XI

                          A BOMB FOR MR. GROGAN


The telephone in the outer office of the Lake City Telephone Company rang
insistently. Miss Masters, the stenographer, after the fashion of
stenographers, let it ring. At length the telephone gave vent to a long,
shrill, despairing appeal and was silent. Then, and then only, did Miss
Masters lay aside the bundle of letters she was sorting and pick up the
receiver.

"Yes?" she said. "Well, what is it?"

Apparently a voice responded.

"Speak a little louder, please," the girl said impersonally. "I can't
hear a single word you're saying."

More words from the outside poured through the receiver.

"Yes." Miss Masters nodded mechanically. "Yes, this is the main office of
the Lake City Electrical Company. What?"

There was another pause.

"This is Miss Masters at the 'phone,--yes--yes--I'm the stenographer.
What's that? Private secretary? Yes, I am Mr. John Boland's private
secretary. No, our president, Mr. Harry Boland, has not come downtown
yet. We are expecting him at any moment."

A red-headed office boy stuck an inquisitive head through the door.

"Who's that," he demanded, "someone for the boss?"

Miss Masters merely motioned him to silence.

"Yes," she went on, "his father, Mr. John Boland, will be in some time
during the morning. Who shall I say called?"

The girl waited for the answer and hung up the receiver.

"Who is it, Miss Masters?" inquired the boy.

"Well, Dickey, I don't think it's any of your business," retorted Miss
Masters good-naturedly. "But, for fear you'll burst with curiosity, I'll
say that it's Mr. Martin Druce."

"Happy as a crab this morning, ain't you?" jeered the boy. "Well, you
want to look out for that geezer, Druce. He's a devil with the girls."

Miss Masters made a face at him and the boy, whistling derisively,
disappeared through the door, not failing to slam it loudly after him.

Miss Masters resumed her letter sorting. The door opened slowly. A man
entered with his hat over his eyes. His hands were deep in his pockets
and he chewed a despondent looking cigar. Had the reader been present he
would have recognized him instantly, despite his unaccustomed air of
lugubriousness, as our old friend, Mr. Michael Grogan.

"Good morning, Mr. Grogan," said Miss Masters cordially.

Grogan made no reply. The girl went on with her work. Then as if
communing with herself she said: "And yet they say the Irish are always
polite."

"Eh?" said Grogan, rousing himself, "what's that?"

Miss Masters vouchsafed no reply. She merely laughed. Grogan, conscious
that he was being chaffed, stared at her. He was pleased with what he
saw. He found Miss Masters handsome. Her office dress, slit at the bottom
and displaying at this moment a neat ankle, was ruched about the neck and
sleeves. It was a rather elaborate dress for a stenographer, but John
Boland was a vain man and liked to have the employes he kept close about
him maintain the appearance of prosperity. In fact, he paid these
particular employes well with the explicit understanding that they would
keep their appearance up to his standard.

"You're making light of me gray hairs, I see," said Mr. Grogan, smiling.

"Well," said the girl, "I said good morning to you and you didn't even
grunt in reply."

"The top of the morning to you, Miss Masters," said Grogan, hastening to
remedy his oversight and removing his hat with an ornate bow.

"Sure, and I'm wishing you the same and many of them," replied the girl.

Mr. Grogan bowed again and added:

"And, if I have failed in the politeness due a lady, I begs yer pardon."

"You're forgiven, Mr. Grogan," replied Miss Masters, resuming her work.

Grogan returned to his meditations. He was regarding his mutilated cigar
ruefully when Miss Masters observed:

"If all of the millionaires were as thorough gentlemen as you are, Mr.
Grogan, we wouldn't have any labor unions."

The word millionaire seemed to sting Grogan.

"I'll thank you," he said abruptly, "to leave me out of the millionaire
class."

"Why, Mr. Grogan," said the girl, surprised, "I thought you'd like that!"

"So would I--wanst," retorted Grogan, "but now when any one says 'you
millionaire,' faith, I get ready to dodge a brick."

"I should think it would be pleasant to know you had a million dollars."
There was a note of envy in the girl's voice.

Grogan rose slowly, walked to the desk and leaned across it confidentially.

"So it always was," he said sententiously, "but now they're beginning to
ask, 'Where did you get it?'"

"Oh," said the girl.

"It's not 'Oh,' I'm saying," said Grogan, "it's 'Ouch!'"

"Something's disturbing you, eh?"

"Something--and somebody. 'Tis a girl."

"Oh, Mr. Grogan!"

"Whist!" retorted Mr. Grogan, "You don't get me meaning. It's not the
kind you buy ice cream sodies for. No! This lady has a club in her fist
and a punch in both elbows."

"For you?"

"I suspicion so, and I'm oneasy in me mind."

"It's silly to worry, Mr. Grogan," said Miss Masters, "sit down and look
over the papers." She extended a morning newspaper, smiling.

"I may as well." Grogan took up the paper and selected a chair.

"Stirring times in Chicago, just now," said the young woman.

"They're stirring, all right," Grogan agreed. "They're too stirring. What I
want is peace. I'd like to pass the rest of my days in quiet--quiet--and--"

The sentence expired on his lips as he stared at the front page of the
paper held open in his hands.

"What's the matter, Mr. Grogan," said Miss Masters starting up, alarmed.

Grogan wiped his forehead and moistened his lips.

"Nothing," he said, "it's hot and I'm--I'm--"

He threw the newspaper on the floor.

"Here," he said, "give me another newspaper."

The girl picked up another paper from the heap on the corner of the desk
and passed it across to him. Grogan looked at the headlines.

"Help--murder," he cried. Then he cast the paper on the floor and got to
his feet abruptly.

"Mr. Grogan," asked the girl, "what is the matter?"

"I asked for quiet," Grogan replied, picking up the papers and shaking
them angrily, "and on the front page of this paper is a letter written
and signed by Mary Randall."

"And why should Mary Randall disturb you?"

"Do you know she writes to me?"

"Writes to you?"

"She does."

"What does she say?"

"Everything--and then some," was the grim response. "Don't laugh!" he
ordered. "Here's one of the last of them." Grogan took a dark blue
envelope from his pocket, extracted a single sheet of the same color and
read.

"Michael Grogan:--Do you remember what your old Irish mother said to you
when you left Old Erin to seek your fortune in the new world? She said:
'Mike, me boy, don't soil your hands with dirty money.' Mary Randall."

"Don't soil your hands with dirty money," repeated Miss Masters.

"That's a nice billy dux to find beside your plate at breakfast, ain't it
now?" demanded Grogan. Then after a pause he murmured half to himself,

"Me old Irish mother, God bless her, with her white hair and her sweet
Connemara face! I can see her now, just as she stood there that day in
the door of our cabin when I went off up the road, a slip of a boy, with
a big bag of oatmeal over me shoulder--one shirt and me Irish fighting
spirit. That was me capital in life, that and her blessing. She's
sleeping there now, and the shamrock is growing over her--"

Grogan stopped. His voice had grown husky.

"Say," he demanded turning on Miss Masters abruptly, "why don't you make
me stop? Don't you see I'm breaking me heart?"

The girl had really been moved. "I can't," she said, "because--" She got
out her powder puff and proceeded hastily to decorate her nose. She was
still engaged in this operation when the telephone rang. Grogan started.

"What's that?" he demanded.

"Why, it's only the telephone. What is the matter with you, Mr. Grogan?"

"I dunno," responded Grogan despondently, "I'm as nervous as a girl in a
peek-a-boo waist."

The telephone rang again.

"Why don't you answer that?" demanded Grogan sharply.

"I will," replied the girl, "but there's no great rush, is there?"

"Yes there is," insisted Grogan, "I can't bear the suspense."

The young woman laughed and picked up the receiver.

"Lake City Electrical Company," she said. "What? Who is it, please."

Grogan, who had continued pacing up and down the office, stopped and made
wild gestures to Miss Masters. Covering the mouthpiece of the instrument
so she would not be heard, the girl asked.

"What is it, Mr. Grogan?"

"Whist!" replied Grogan, "If that is Mary Randall on the wire there, I've
gone to Alaska. I've given all me money away and I'm living on snow
balls."

Miss Masters smiled and replied with assurance: "This isn't Mary
Randall."

"Thank God for that," breathed Grogan.

"Hello," went on Miss Masters into the telephone. "Oh, you're long
distance? Well?"

There was a pause.

"I'm sorry, but Mr. Harry Boland hasn't come downtown yet."

"He may be in any moment--shall I--"

She broke off sharply as Harry himself came in the door drawing off his
gloves.

"Wait! Just a moment please," she went on. "He has just come in."

"Someone for me, Miss Masters?" the young man inquired, hanging up his
hat on a rack by the door. Without waiting for a reply he turned to
Grogan. "Good morning, Mike."

"'Tis a fine day--I hope," returned Grogan cautiously.

"Yes, someone calling you, Mr. Boland," broke in Miss Masters.

"Don't want to talk to anyone," said the young man curtly.

"Hello, hello," continued Miss Masters at the telephone. "Hello, long
distance? Mr. Boland is too busy--"

"Wait, please," interrupted Harry quickly, "did you say 'long distance?'"

Miss Masters nodded. "Just a moment," she said into the telephone.

"Yes, Mr. Boland," she said. "It's a long distance. Some one wants to
talk to you in--Millville, Illinois."



                               CHAPTER XII

                         BAD NEWS FROM MILLVILLE


The word Millville had an instantaneous effect on Harry Boland. It was,
in fact, the most pleasant sound he had heard in days. Upon returning to
Chicago after his lover-like interview with Patience Welcome he had
dispatched a long letter to her. To this he had received no reply. Then
he wrote two letters in one day. Neither of them had been answered.
Thoroughly disturbed now, but too busy to leave Chicago himself, Harry
had sent his confidential man, John Clark, to Millville to learn, if
possible, the cause of Patience's silence.

While Harry stood eagerly waiting for the 'phone Miss Masters was busy
getting the long distance connection.

"All right, Mr. Boland," she said at last, "here's your party." Then into
the telephone she continued: "Yes--Mr. Boland is here waiting. He will
talk to Millville. Hello--hello--Millville? Hello!" She handed Harry the
instrument.

"I wouldn't answer that 'phone for a thousand dollars," put in Grogan
dolefully.

"Hello--hello!" exclaimed Harry.

A shrill whistle rent the air and Grogan jumped hysterically.

"What's that?" he demanded.

"The postman's whistle," replied Miss Masters calmly, repressing a smile
as she started for the outer door.

"Hello, Millville, hello," called Harry Boland, not getting his
connection.

Grogan beckoned Miss Masters to his side. "If there's a letter there for
me in an envelope like this," he said producing the dark blue letter from
his pocket, "you keep it."

"Really?" Miss Masters now smiled openly.

"Keep it," reiterated Grogan, "don't show it to me or I'll climb up the
side of the building and jump off."

Miss Masters thoroughly amused vanished into the hall. Meanwhile Harry
Boland was talking to Millville.

"Millville?" he said. "Yes this is Harry Boland. Oh!" He paused with a
distinct note of disappointment in his voice. "Oh, it's you, Clark? Yes I
know--You've something to report about the Welcomes."

"The Welcome family," said Grogan, pricking up his ears.

"All right, I'm listening," Harry went on. "Yes, I get you."

"Look at that now," continued Grogan reflectively.

"No, no, you needn't wait there any longer--All right."

He hung up the receiver.

"Asking your pardon," ventured Grogan, "may I take the liberty of an old
friend to inquire what Mr. Boland wants with a bum family like the
Welcomes--"

"Just a moment, Mike," interrupted Harry putting out his hand
imperatively. "You're speaking of the girl I mean to marry."

Grogan gaped at the young man.

"I am?" he gasped.

"You are," replied the other. He rose to his feet and turned tranquilly
toward Grogan. "Now what are you going to say?" he inquired.

"Nothing," said Grogan, too surprised to talk.

"All right," replied Harry pointedly.

"But the old man is no good," hazarded Grogan. "Tom Welcome is a
worthless--"

"He's dead, Mike," interrupted Harry.

"What?" This was a day of surprises for Grogan.

"He's dead," repeated Harry, "died the night we left Millville."

"Well," Grogan's manner had changed. "There were some good points about
the man, after all. I've heard he'd never take a drink alone--if he could
avoid it."

"And the Welcome family has moved away," Harry went on.

"Where?"

"No one knows. I've been too busy to investigate myself so I sent Clark
to locate them."

"Aha," said Grogan. "Then it was Clark you were talking to?"

"Of course," replied Harry impatiently, "didn't you hear?"

"Yes, yes, but--" Grogan broke off abruptly. "Say, didn't that fat fellow
who was going to be a detective, the fellow who nearly killed me riding
on his grocery wagon, didn't he know anything?"

"He's left Millville, too."

"What!" exclaimed Grogan incredulously. "Do you mean to say a bunch like
that can drop out of a town like Millville without anyone knowing where
they've gone?"

"I'm not telling you. The facts speak for themselves," said Harry.

Both men were silent.

"Mike," said young Boland suddenly.

"Yes," responded Grogan.

"You were married?"

The Irishman was too surprised by the question to answer.

"I've heard you speak about your wife," Harry insisted.

Grogan still vouchsafed no answer. He stood staring at Boland.

"I've heard you speak of your wife, Norah," repeated Harry, "in a way
that made me feel how sacred her memory was to you. She married you, a
husky young Irish laborer in the mills, and how that little woman worked
for you, toiling, saving, scrimping, tending the babies as they came! How
you worshiped her, and big man as you were, how a word from her would
make you kneel at her feet. You held her in your arms when the little
mounds were raised in the church yard--"

Grogan listened in silence, deeply moved. He put out his hand and grasped
Harry's firmly.

"That's the way I love Patience Welcome, Mike," went on Harry, "just as
you loved Norah McGuire."

"Well," broke in Grogan huskily, "I didn't know--I--" He turned suddenly
and demanded, "Well then, why in hell don't you find her?"

"I'm going to try."

"And I'll help ye!"

"Good old Mike," said Harry, putting his arm around Grogan's shoulders,
"Aha, you can't beat the Irish!"

"Yes, you can," responded Grogan, "but they won't stay beaten."

The conversation was interrupted by the entrance of Boland senior. He
hung up his hat, took off his gloves and rubbed his hands together.

"Ah," he said, "good morning Harry--Mike."

"Morning, Governor," returned Harry tersely. Grogan acknowledged the
salutation with a grunt.

"Have Miss Masters make out a lease for that house in South Twelfth
street," went on the elder Boland briskly. He laid some papers on the
table. "Here is the copy of the present lease with the necessary changes
noted."

"Who's the lessee?" inquired Harry carelessly.

"Carter Anson."

"What!" exclaimed Harry in amazement.

"Well, well, what's the matter?" demanded the father.

"Ask Mike," said the young man turning with a smile to Grogan.

"I refuse to answer any questions," declared Grogan. "'Tis a little rule
I learned in politics."

"Carter Anson is going to be indicted by the grand jury," Harry informed
his father.

"Ah," said John Boland, "you've been reading the yellow journals."

"They're yellow," conceded Harry, "because they contain so many golden
truths."

"Mary Randall, please write," sneered the elder Boland.

"Stop! No!" Grogan, who had been sitting down jumped to his feet in
protest. The others looked at him in astonishment. He sat down again
shamefacedly. "I don't want Mary Randall to write to me," he admitted
dolefully.

"What's come over you, Grogan?" inquired John Boland sharply.

"A blue envelope--a sheet of blue paper with words on it, and--I've got a
pain in the back of my neck." Grogan brought forth the blue letter again
and gazed at it gloomily.

"You're crazy," John Boland informed him curtly. Then he turned to Harry.
"Look here, my boy," he said, "don't be a fool--"

"He's your son," interrupted Grogan chuckling.

"Keep quiet, Mike. You know, Harry, I own that property with Mike here,
and--"

Grogan interrupted again. "Look here, John Boland," he inquired, "how
much will you give me for my share?"

"Two thousand dollars."

"It's yours," said Grogan.

"Why it's worth double that!" exclaimed John Boland.

"Never mind that. It's yours," repeated Grogan. "I'll give two thousand
for my peace of mind any day."

"Are you crazy?"

"Not yet--but I'm headed that way. Take it at two thousand and I'll love
you, John."

"All right."

"But, Governor," protested Harry, "don't you know--"

"Now don't let a fool reform wave scare you," burst out the father
irritably. "Did you ever see a vice investigation get anywhere? Never!
Just a lot of talk and--letters."

Miss Masters appeared with a package of letters in her hands. "Mail, Mr.
Boland," she said. She began sorting the letters. "Four for you, Mr.
Boland," she went on, "and a special for Mr. Harry Boland."

Grogan had been watching her intently. He breathed deeply and muttered:
"Sure and I'm an old fool. Why should I be afraid of letters? Who could
write--"

Miss Masters interrupted. "And one for you, Mr. Grogan," she said
casually.

Grogan dropped into his chair crying: "Help!" Then cautiously he took the
letter from Miss Masters. The envelope was white and he heaved a sigh of
relief.

"What the deuce ails you this morning, Grogan?" demanded John Boland
irritated.

"I'm getting second sight," returned Grogan gloomily, "and I don't like
it."

"Oh, don't be a fool." John Boland began opening his mail. "All this
investigating," he continued, "this talk of a minimum wage law, is just
talk and that's all. Now take this crazy woman--Mary Randall--"

While he spoke he had opened a letter containing a second enclosure. It
was an envelope of a peculiar shape and its color was dark blue.



                              CHAPTER XIII

                THE READER MEETS ANOTHER OLD ACQUAINTANCE


The sight of the blue envelope had transfixed Grogan. He stood staring at
it like a man in the presence of a ghost.

"The blue envelope, again," he cried. "A harpoon for you, John."

John Boland made no reply. He reached for his paper knife, ripped open
the envelope and drew forth a sheet of blue note paper. He read with a
gathering frown what had been written on it. Then he reread it, muttering
under his breath.

"Does it hurt you much, John?" inquired Grogan, enjoying the other's
discomfiture.

For answer the elder Boland scrutinized Grogan over his glasses.

"What do you know about this, Mike?" he demanded.

"Only that I got one of those blue bombs myself this morning," retorted
Grogan.

"Listen to this." John Boland flourished the envelope angrily. "'The
owner of property who leases same to vice is morally responsible for the
crimes committed on his premises. Mary Randall.'"

He turned to Grogan. "What do you think of that?" he asked.

"She's hit home," replied Grogan grimly.

"Damn her, for a brazen busybody," blurted Boland angrily. "Why doesn't
she mind her own business?"

Meanwhile Harry was opening an envelope the exact counterpart of his
father's. He read the note twice and stood considering its import.

"Another of 'em?" said the elder Boland. "Well, what's yours, Harry?"

"Mine?--Oh,--mine--why," the young man faltered.

"Well, well, can't you speak?" demanded the father irritably.

Harry returned no direct reply. Opening his note he read:

"'We count on young men like you, Harry Boland, to lead the fight we are
making to save our Little Lost Sisters. Mary Randall.'"

"Now," chuckled Grogan, "you know how I felt when I got my little blue
envelope this morning." As he spoke he tore off the end of the envelope
which he had held unnoticed. Inserting his finger and thumb into the
envelope he went on:

"Do you know, I never did like the color of blue--"

He broke off as he lowered his eyes to the enclosure he had brought out.
It was another blue letter. Grogan started up and jerked out the note.
Holding it at arms' distance he read:

"'The strength of Ireland is in the purity of her sons and daughters.
Mary Randall.'"

The three men stood staring at each other in amazement.

"Mary Randall." John Boland broke the silence with a sneer.

"Mary Randall," repeated Harry quietly.

"Oh you Mary Randall!" put in Grogan with just a touch of admiration in
his voice. "She's the lady champion lightweight. Three knock-outs in
three minutes. 'Tis a world's record!" He turned to the elder Boland.
"Does the punch she gave you hurt much?" he inquired.

Boland glared at Grogan. "Who the devil is Mary Randall?" he demanded.

"I've never met her," replied Harry. "She's a member of the wealthy
Randall family. Her mother died when she was young and I understand she
was brought up very quietly."

"Do you know her, Miss Masters," persisted Boland.

The girl was startled, "I--why--I?" she hesitated.

"Yes--yes," said Harry, "do you know her?"

The girl still hesitated and Grogan broke in.

"You're a woman, Miss Masters," he said, "you ought to know all the
feminine quirks. Now it's up to you. Who's Mary Randall?"

"Mary Randall is a wealthy girl," said Miss Masters calmly. "She has
grown weary of the foolish methods you men have employed in attacking the
vice problem. Convinced of your total incompetence she has started out
really to do something."

"What does she want?" snorted John Boland.

"She said in a printed letter," replied Miss Masters, "that she wanted to
put several property owners and crooked senators in jail."

Grogan was impressed by this statement.

"Do you want to buy the rest of my South Side property, John?" he
inquired of Boland.

"Doesn't she know she's disturbing business?" asked Boland of Miss
Masters, ignoring Grogan.

"Mary Randall also said," the girl replied, "that the greatest business
in the world is that of redeeming 'Little Lost Sisters.'"

"You see, you see," said Grogan, "the farther you go, John, the more
punches you get."

"I haven't time to bother with this foolishness," said Boland. "I've got
a big contract on with the Simmons people."

He went to the door of his son's office.

"Come on Harry--you too Mike. Come in, Miss Masters, and take down this
contract."

The three men started toward the door. As Grogan passed Miss Masters he
whispered: "Young woman, if any more blue skyrockets come for me, play
the hose on them."

"Very well," said the girl, smiling.

Having secured her notebook she started toward the inner office when a
smartly dressed young man entered.

"Hello girlie," he said, intercepting her.

"Good morning," replied Miss Masters primly. "What's your business?"

"Oh, just like that, eh?" said the youth.

"Yes," replied the girl sharply. "What do you want?"

"Mr. John Boland."

"You can't see him now. He's busy."

There was a sharp, impatient call from the inner office.

"Yes sir, I'm coming," replied the girl.

"Well, be quick about it," returned the voice. "Do you think I can wait
all day?"

"That's John Boland, isn't it?" inquired the man eagerly.

Miss Masters nodded assent.

"Well, tell him--"

"I'm sorry," broke in the girl, "but he's busy. He won't see anyone."

"Well then, tell him when you can that Martin Druce called."

"Martin Druce!" Miss Masters kept her eyes on the blank page before her,
but she made no effort to make a memorandum of the name. She added
slowly:

"You called on the 'phone this morning."

"I sure did." Druce, with the familiarity of an old acquaintance, began
toying with the silver vanity box Miss Randall wore suspended from her
neck. "Say," he went on insinuatingly, "you have the sweetest voice--"

"Better tell me why you want to see Mr. Boland," she said quietly taking
the vanity box from him and putting him at a distance. At the same time
she smiled at him archly.

"Just want to renew a lease--the Cafe Sinister."

"Oh," said the girl, "I've heard of it."

"It's some swell place," replied Druce with pride.

"Yes?" said the girl. She pantomimed counting money. "Yes, as long as you
can keep the police asleep."

"What in--what the deuce do you mean?" Druce inquired quickly.

Miss Masters shrugged her shoulders. Again she smiled at him archly.

"Oh, you're wise, eh?" Druce laughed. He felt that he was on familiar
ground with this girl. There was that in her manner that indicated the
wisdom of the demi-monde. He thought he had placed her.

"You're wise, eh?" he repeated. The girl had maneuvered to place a table
between them. He leaned against the table and placed a hand on hers.

"Why does a fine looker like you spend her life pounding a typewriter?"

"Would you advise a change?"

"You could make a hundred a week in the cabarets," declared Druce
admiringly.

"Perhaps," replied Miss Masters. She picked up her notebook and started
for the inner office. "But I know where that road leads."

Druce was daunted with this reply. It wasn't at all what he had expected.

"Oh," he jeered, "you're one of the goody-goody kind, are you? Fare you
well. I'll see you in church Sunday."

The girl was now at the inner office door. She turned and eyed Druce
narrowly.

"Thank you," she replied without anger.

"Perhaps, some day, I'll see you wearing stripes and looking through iron
bars!"

The door shut swiftly behind her, leaving Druce staring at the panels.

"What do you know about that," he spoke aloud, though there was no one in
the outer office to hear him.

"Never mind, kid--you're no boob, anyway." He turned on his heel and
walked out.



                               CHAPTER XIV

                 IN WHICH THE WOLF IS BITTEN BY THE LAMB


John Boland was a very capable business man. He possessed the combination
of shrewdness, ability to grasp and marshal details, and that utter
selfishness which the world from time immemorial has rewarded with huge
accumulations of money. He had one of those minds which find their
recreation in intrigue. Unembarrassed by a conscience and unhampered by
scruples he drove directly to his goal--success.

As head of the Electric Trust Boland was compelled to be at once a
financier and a politician. The faculties for success in both fields are
closely allied; in both Boland was eminently triumphant. Sitting in his
office day after day, unmoved by events that might have disturbed other
men and unstirred by emotions that might have turned other men from their
paths, he looked out over the city and "played his game" with all the
cold impassiveness of a gambler operating an infallible system in
roulette. No detail was too small to escape his notice, no agent too
ignoble to serve his purpose.

These facts are mentioned to explain the relationship that existed
between John Boland and Martin Druce. In these two men, the social
extremes of the city met--Boland, the financial power and leading
citizen; Druce, the dive keeper and social outcast. They met because
Boland wished it. Druce was one of the creatures that he could and often
did use in his business.

Although ostensibly ignorant of the very existence of Druce, Boland in
reality had the man often in his thoughts. He kept these thoughts hidden
in that inner chamber of his mind from which, from time to time, emerged
those inspirations that had made his name a by-word on La Salle street
for supernatural astuteness. Not even the most intimate of his coworkers
guessed them.

For nearly a month now Druce had been calling at Boland's offices intent
on obtaining a renewal of his lease to the Cafe Sinister. During that
entire month he had never been able to obtain even a word with the master
financier. Boland had purposely refused to grant the interview so
frequently requested by Druce not because he had any repugnance against
doing business with the dive keeper but because to his mind there had
never appeared any good reason why he should grant that interview. He
played the waiting game with Druce because he had found by profitable
experience that the waiting game paid John Boland best. The time might
come when he would be able to use so excellent a tool as Druce to its
best advantage. Boland was waiting calmly for that time. If Druce
suffered in the interim John Boland was unable to see how that was any of
his concern. In fact, Boland figured, the more Druce suffered, the keener
a tool he would be for his purposes.

Druce guessed something of this. He too possessed a mind adapted to
intrigue. Therefore every rebuff from Boland found him undaunted. He knew
that his time must come. He called at Boland's offices again and again,
smiling always in the face of denial.

Of late a new incentive for calling at the Electric Trust's offices had
developed for Druce. This was furnished by Miss Masters. The girl's
charming looks had aroused the man's curiosity and cunning. Her air of
worldly wisdom, her alternate repulses and advances, had stirred him as
he had rarely been stirred before. In his eagerness to possess her he
almost lost sight of the main object of his visits.

But whether by accident or design Druce was never able to get a word with
the girl alone. She was always, save on the sole occasion of his last
visit, either engaged with Harry Boland's dictation, or, if in the outer
office, chaperoned by Harry Boland's red-headed office boy. One day Druce
met Red in the lower corridor of the Electric Trust building. The boy
grinned knowingly at him and yelled as he hurried by.

"I'll be back in a minute."

"Don't hurry on my account," answered Druce, but at the moment it came to
him that Red's chaperonage of Miss Masters might not be entirely
accidental.

Druce stepped into the elevator and was let out at the Electric Trust's
offices. He entered and found the offices empty.

"Hang the little fool," he said, "she doesn't know which side her bread
is--"

"Meaning whom?" inquired Miss Masters' saccharine voice.

Druce turned quickly and saw Miss Masters coming from the inner office.
He was impressed by the attractiveness of her dress.

"Where does she get all the glad rags?" he demanded of himself. "Maybe
old Boland--"

"Who's a little fool?" persisted Miss Masters.

"Nobody," returned Druce. "Just talking to myself. Mr. Boland's out or
busy, I suppose?"

"Yes, Mr. Boland's out," replied Miss Masters. She sat down at a
typewriter and inserted a sheet of paper in the machine. "He left a
message for you, however. He told me this morning that if you called I
should ask you to 'phone him about twelve o'clock. He'll try to see you
then for a moment."

"All right," said Druce, "thanks." But he made no move to go. He watched
the girl as she hammered the typewriter keys. Presently she looked up at
him inquiringly.

This to Druce appeared to be a direct offer to open a conversation. He
hastened to take advantage of it.

"Yes," he replied in his most ingratiating manner, drawing near her. "I
want to talk to you. I have been dying to speak to you alone, girlie--"

The girl rose from her chair and picked up her notebook.

"Oh, Mr. Druce," she said.

"Yes, girlie."

Miss Masters opened the notebook and took a lead pencil from the shining
rolls of her hair.

"I have to keep a record of all callers," said the girl unexpectedly.
"Mr. Boland is very particular about it. Let me see, your name is Martin
Druce?"

She wrote the name into her book and showed it to him.

"I have the name correctly, haven't I, Mr. Druce?" she went on.

"Rather tardy with your duties, aren't you?" inquired Druce with a smile.
"I've been coming here for some days now and you haven't wanted to put me
into your book before."

"Perhaps," replied the girl, "I haven't noticed you."

Druce was sure now that he was beginning a flirtation with her.

"And your business?" continued the girl.

"Oh, Boland knows my business," replied Druce, with an air of
carelessness.

"No doubt he does, but I don't. And how can I keep my records properly if
I don't know? I can't bother Mr. Boland with these details. What is your
business?"

"Why--ah--" hesitated Druce. "Live stock."

"What kind of live stock?" persisted Miss Masters, preparing to write
down his answer.

"Eh!" Druce began to feel that he was being badgered.

"What kind of live stock do you deal in?"

"See here," snarled Druce, "what are you trying to do?"

Miss Masters' answer was perfectly calm. "I am trying," she said, "to
find out what kind of live stock you deal in, Mr. Druce."

"Forget it!"

"Are you ashamed to tell me?"

Druce turned on the girl as though stung.

"Why should I be ashamed?" he blustered. He moved toward the door.

"I'll know that," replied Miss Masters, "when you tell me what kind of
live stock you deal in."

There was a stern quality in Miss Masters' voice that Druce had noticed
in the voice of a district attorney with whom he had once had an
unpleasant interview. The man was a coward. He wanted to be off.

"Every kind," he blurted. "Good day."

A moment later he found himself in the hallway. "Red," the office boy,
had just come from the elevator.

"What's the trouble, Druce?" demanded the boy. "You look pale around the
gills."

"You go to hell, you little rat," retorted Druce, and without waiting for
the elevator vanished down the steps, with the jeering laughter of the
boy ringing in his ears.



                               CHAPTER XV

                  THE SEARCH BEGINS FOR THE LOST SISTER


There was nothing in Miss Masters' manner after Druce had made his hasty
departure to indicate that she felt any thrills of triumph over the
completeness of the dive keeper's rout. On the contrary she seemed
unaccountably depressed. She sat down at her typewriter thinking deeply.
Presently her meditations were disturbed.

The door opened quietly. A man entered who, in spite of the shabbiness of
his clothing, his emaciation and the haggardness of his features the
reader would have had no difficulty in recognizing. He was Harvey
Spencer. He stood in the open door looking at the girl uncertainly. She
took him in in a glance.

"Good morning," she said sympathetically. "You are looking for someone
here?"

"I was," replied Harvey enigmatically, "but he's gone."

"Gone?" repeated the girl.

"Yes," replied the caller quickly, "perhaps you can give me some
information. That man, who stepped in here a moment ago--you know who he
is?"

"Yes," replied the girl, "his name is Martin Druce."

"That's his name, yes--what's his business?"

"Live stock, he says," replied Miss Masters in some surprise.

"You know where he lives?"

"No. Won't you sit down?"

"I can't. I'm following him."

The girl was bewildered. "Are you a detective?" she inquired.

The question produced an extraordinary effect on the young man. He threw
up his head and gave vent to a short, sharp exclamation.

"Ha!" he said. "No," he went on, "I once thought I was a detective, but I
woke up." Then he started for the door. "Thank you," he said. As he
reached for the knob he reeled and clutched at the wall for support. Miss
Masters started toward him.

"Come," she said, "sit down. Aren't you feeling ill? Let me get you a
glass of water."

She drew a glass full from a cooler and carried it to the young man.

"It's warm," she said, "you're exhausted."

Harvey gulped the contents of the glass, and looked at Miss Masters
mournfully.

"Thanks," he said. "Yes--mighty warm."

"Looking for a job?" inquired Miss Masters.

"I ought to be," was the reply.

"Why aren't you?"

"Because," Harvey's despondency deepened, "I'm looking for a girl."

"A girl from down state?"

"How did you know that?"

"Why," replied Miss Masters, "you don't belong to Chicago. Your clothes
tell me that. And the girl--she was from your own town?"

"Yes."

"Tell me about it?" Miss Masters' manner was friendly. She drew a chair
and sat down opposite the young man. Harvey was so moved by this unlocked
for sympathy that tears filled his eyes.

"Her name," he said huskily, "was Elsie Welcome. She ran away. Her father
had beaten her. On the night she left the father died. We were to have
been married. I learned that she had come to Chicago with this
man--Martin Druce. I followed her. For days I have tramped the streets.
Today I caught a glimpse of Druce as he entered an elevator in this
building. I had just reached here when I lost sight of him."

The door behind him opened slowly. Miss Masters looked up to see a gray
haired woman enter. She wore a waist and skirt of dead black with a
little old fashioned black bonnet. Her face was sweet with motherliness,
but drawn with sorrow and exhaustion.

"Harvey," she said.

Harvey turned and hurried to her side.

"I saw you come in here, Harvey," the woman went on, "so I followed. I
hope we're not intruding Miss--"

"Masters is my name," responded the stenographer quickly.

"This is the girl's mother," said Harvey. "This is Mrs. Martha Welcome."

Miss Masters hastened to bring another chair.

"And your daughter," she asked quickly, "have you--"

"I--I don't think there was anything wrong in Elsie's going away,"
interrupted Mrs. Welcome. "She wasn't happy and her father--"

"Her father beat her," said Harvey wrathfully.

"Harvey," chided Mrs. Welcome, "Tom's dead. He wasn't a bad man, Miss
Masters. He lost his courage when he lost his invention."

"I understand," said Miss Masters sympathetically. "You haven't heard
anything from your lost girl?"

"No," replied Mrs; Welcome sadly, "not a word. Patience and I and Harvey
came to the city hoping to find her--"

"Patience?"

"She's my other daughter," replied Mrs. Welcome, "two years older. Elsie
was my baby." Her voice broke.

"I'm wondering," she went on in subdued tones, "if she's all right. I've
prayed, too. Seems as though I've prayed every minute that God would
bring my baby back to me. You don't think it makes any difference, do
you, Miss Masters, even if we are in a great, noisy city? God is here,
too, isn't he?"

She put out her hand impulsively and Miss Masters took it into her own
cool palm.

"Yes, God is here," she replied reverently, "though sometimes it is hard
to have faith and believe it."

Harvey had walked away and stood looking out at the door.

"Here's Patience," he said suddenly.

Patience Welcome entered almost immediately. She was dressed in the same
somber black as her mother. She wore a heavy veil pushed back from the
brim of her hat. Harvey presented her to Miss Masters.

"I've good news for you, mother," exclaimed Patience after acknowledging
the introduction. "I've got a place in that office I went into when I
left you. I begin work tomorrow. Then when I came out and missed you I
was terribly frightened, but the elevator man told me you had come in
here. And so I found you."

"Your mother has been telling me something about the search for your
sister," said Miss Masters. "Perhaps I may be able to help you. Could you
tell me something about it?"

"Thank you," replied Patience, "we need help. It seems as if we had
exhausted all our own resources. But we mustn't stop now. Mother is worn
out."

"Perhaps," said Miss Masters, "it would be better if this young man
should take your mother home. You and I may be able to talk the situation
over more confidentially if we are alone."

"You think you can help us?" inquired Patience eagerly.

Miss Masters was thoughtful. "Yes," she said, "I believe I have unusual
facilities for helping you. I know a great deal about Chicago--"

"Then," said Patience, "I'll put our case in your hands. I know I can
trust you. Somehow, I feel better already."

She took Miss Masters' hands in her own, confidently.

"Yes," returned Miss Masters, a little tremulously, "you can trust me."

Harvey in the meantime had helped Mrs. Welcome with her wraps and was
leading her toward the door.

"I'll follow in a little while," said Patience, as the two passed out the
door. "I'll be home in time for supper."

"Now," said Miss Masters, after Harvey and Mrs. Welcome were gone, "first
tell me if you have any money."

Patience hesitated. Such a question coming from a stranger embarrassed
her.

"Yes," she said slowly, "I think we have enough money. Harvey brought
fifty dollars with him and Mother was given some money by a man who came
to our aid, in Millville--"

"Millville?" interrupted Miss Masters.

"Yes," continued Patience, "that is the town we live in. The man's name
was Dudley--"

"Dudley!"

Patience looked at Miss Masters in surprise. "You know him?" she asked.

Miss Masters hesitated. "The name seems familiar," she said.

"He was a stranger in Millville," Patience went on. "My mother wired to
her sister, Sarah, for money after Elsie left us and my father died. My
aunt sent us forty dollars."

There was a pause after this explanation, then Miss Masters went on
hesitatingly.

"Forgive me, Miss Welcome," she said, "if I speak plainly to you. Were
there any strangers in Millville about the time your sister went away?"

"Strangers?" repeated Patience.

"Any attractive young men," pursued Miss Masters.

"Why--why--I--" stammered Patience in confusion.

"There were, I see."

"You don't think my sister--" burst out Patience.

"Forgive me," interrupted Miss Masters, "but when an innocent country
girl leaves her home suddenly it is a good rule to look for--the man."

"You think some one lured Elsie away?" said Patience stifled by the
thought. "That some man is to blame?"

"It isn't an easy thing to say, my dear, but I do."

"Aren't there laws against such crimes?"

"Yes," replied Miss Masters, "but these laws were made by men, and men
have always shown an unwillingness to legislate against their sex. Now
there were some young men in Millville at the time your sister went away,
weren't there?"

"Yes," admitted Patience, "two."

"Do you know their names?"

"Martin Druce."

"Ah!"

"You know him?"

"I have seen him." Miss Masters opened her memorandum book. "Martin
Druce," she read, "dealer in live stock."

"Yes," assented Patience, "he told us that was his business."

"And the other stranger, Miss Welcome? Do not hide any of the facts."

"I'd rather not say," replied Patience hesitatingly.

"You had better tell me," urged Miss Masters.

"I--I can't," exclaimed the girl, "it hurts me even to think that he--"

"Better tell me," Miss Masters persisted.

"The other young man," said Patience, "was--Harry Boland."

"What?" exclaimed Miss Masters sharply.

"You know Harry Boland?" Patience flushed and stood up.

"I do. You are in the Bolands' outer offices at this moment."

She had scarcely spoken when the door of Harry Boland's office opened and
the young man came out.

Patience drew her heavy veil down over her face and darted toward the
outer door.

"Here is a corrected form of that contract, Miss Masters," said young
Boland brusquely.



                               CHAPTER XVI

                     JOHN BOLAND MEETS MARY RANDALL


But Patience did not leave the office of the Lake City Electrical Company
as quickly as she had hoped to do. She was intercepted by the young man,
who deliberately placed himself between her and the door, effectually
blocking the way.

He eyed the small figure in black with an inquisitiveness which was
almost rude, attempting to peer through the meshes of the heavy veil, as
he spoke to Miss Masters:

"I beg your pardon, I thought you were alone."

Before she could reply a rasping voice called from the inner office:

"Oh, Harry, send Miss Masters in here, will you?"

"The Governor wants you, Miss Masters," said Harry, his eyes still on
Patience.

"I'm coming, Mr. Boland," proclaimed the stenographer.

With only a glance at her companions, she made a detour of the desk in
the center of the room and glided into the other office.

"I'm afraid Miss Masters may be kept busy for some time," volunteered
Harry kindly, "but if--if you care to wait--"

Patience only bowed her head and attempted to pass him; but she caught
her breath quickly and her body swayed slightly, but perceptibly.

"I beg your pardon," went on Harry, fencing for time.

Again endeavoring to pass him, she staggered and put out one hand to
steady herself, which Harry clasped quickly.

"Let me help you," he said.

She made a movement to release her hand as she recovered from the
dizziness which had seized her.

"Better put up your veil, dear," said Harry gently. "I'm sure it is you."

"Please!" pleaded Patience. The word was scarcely audible.

"Put up your veil," he persisted.

When she complied, he gazed into her deep, dark eyes and stroked her hand
tenderly.

"Did you think I could be in the same room with you and not know you? Oh,
my dear--"

"No, Harry, no!" protested Patience, withdrawing her hand.

"If you knew how long and patiently I've searched for you, I don't think
you could be so unkind."

"It's the only safe way," she replied, stepping away from him and
clutching the back of a chair.

"Why?" he asked as he went close to her again.

"Because--because--"

"Because you do really care for me and you're fighting against yourself."

"Please let me go," begged Patience.

"No!" returned the young man stoutly.

"What shall I do?" she pleaded distractedly.

"Just turn around," was the smiling retort, "and run straight into the
arms of the man who loves you."

"And bring trouble and sorrow on you? No--no--no!"

"I don't understand."

"Please don't ask me," she went on. "I've been through the deep waters of
grief and suffering. Harry, I've been hungry."

"Hungry!" exclaimed Harry. "Oh, my poor girl, you must let me--"

Patience shook her head slowly, sadly; an eager light of desire for his
love and tender care illuminated her face.

"Do you love me?" pursued the young man fervently.

"You mustn't ask me that--wait!"

"And lose you again?" He laid his hand on one of hers. "No; I want my
answer now."

A harsh, commanding voice interrupted them.

"Harry!"

Patience started and drew her hand from beneath the other's touch as an
elderly man came into the room.

"Governor!" exclaimed Harry, a little surprised, but entirely composed as
he went on:

"Governor, I want you to meet the young lady who is to be my wife."

"What!" ejaculated John Boland, scarcely believing his own ears.

"Miss Patience Welcome."

"Welcome?" the older man turned his back to conceal the startled
expression which came over his features.

"Yes. This is my good old dad, Patience," said Harry, laying one arm
affectionately about his father's shoulders.

"Rather sudden, isn't it?" demanded Boland, senior, in a sharp tone.

But Harry was accustomed to his father's abrupt ways and gave no heed to
the testiness of the query.

"No, Governor, I met Miss Welcome when I was in Millville."

"Oh, yes," hemmed John Boland, truculently unmindful of the introduction.
"But just now get that contract off; Miss Masters is waiting."

"All right," assented Harry cheerfully. Then he turned to Patience. "I
won't be long, dear."

Boland placed himself before his desk, covertly watching from beneath his
shaggy, lowered brows until his son had disappeared. Then he cleared his
throat and wheeled upon Patience without ceremony.

"Now, listen, Miss Welcome, you're not taking this seriously, I hope."

"No, Mr. Boland," she replied, moving toward the door. "I've tried to
tell Harry how impossible it is--that--"

"You're a sensible girl," he broke in bluntly. "As it happens, Harry is
already engaged."

The girl's breath came in short, sharp gasps, but she managed to control
her voice as she murmured:

"He is?"

"Yes."

Boland placed his fingers in his vest pocket and drew out a fountain pen,
the point of which he examined attentively. Patience felt that she ought
to go at once, but somehow she couldn't. She stood there trembling,
scarcely knowing whether or not she should believe the other's statement.
She could not believe that Harry would do such an ignoble thing.

Boland glanced over his shoulder and saw her still hesitating on the
threshold.

"Yes," he repeated blandly. "He is going to marry the daughter of my
business partner--a girl who will inherit half a million."

He could see from the corner of his eye that the shot had told, but still
Patience lingered, dazed.

"I--I see," she faltered weakly.

"Now you go along like a good girl," advised Boland, "and I'll see that
you are treated fairly."

He opened a pretentious looking check book which lay on the desk.

"Just tell me how much you want and--"

"Nothing!" was the firm, decisive reply.

He eyed the girl critically as he remarked:

"You look as though ready money were a stranger to you."

"It is--but I have a position with the Mining Company in this building."

"I know them," declared Boland thoughtfully. Patience made no comment.
She went on proudly, drawing her figure to its full height:

"And I want nothing; I am _giving_ you back your son, Mr. Boland, I am
not selling him to you."

He shrugged his shoulders and stared stupidly at the vacant doorway as he
heard the girlish voice in the hallway, saying:

"Down, please."

He closed his check book with a snap, and involuntarily fumbled about his
well arranged desk, replacing a paper here and a contract there.

"Hum!" he mused, "I thought there was something wrong with Harry."

The desk telephone rang sharply. He picked up the instrument and placed
the receiver to his ear.

"Hello! hello!" he jerked out irritably. "Yes--yes, this is John Boland.
Who wants me?"

His acute features contracted as he listened to the reply.

"Oh, Martin Druce," he said. "Want to see me about the lease of the Cafe
Sinister, eh?"

His mind worked rapidly while he again listened.

"All right," he blustered finally, "all right, see you in fifteen
minutes. Yes,--yes, here!"

He hung up the receiver and took a cigar from his pocket, thoughtfully
biting off the end, as he muttered half aloud:

"Martin Druce, eh? Cafe Sinister--Ah!"

His lips ceased moving as he looked about him. He was still thinking
deeply; then he struck a match and lighted the cigar at the glowing flame
which he contemplated for a second before extinguishing it. With a look
of one who has just solved a problem, he cast aside the charred ember and
gritted:

"I guess so."

He seized a sheet of paper and rapidly scratched a few words on its white
surface, settling back comfortably in the big chair as Harry came in.

"All right, Governor," called out the son; but he paused in astonishment
when he saw that his father was alone. "Why--why, where's Patience?"

"Miss Welcome had to go,--she said," returned the other, calmly puffing
his cigar.

"Didn't she leave any word for me?"

"Yes, she said she'd see you again."

"When?" asked Harry, impatiently. "Why, I don't even know where she
lives."

"I thought of that," replied his father, as he handed the memorandum slip
to Harry, on which he had just written. "Here's her address."

Harry took the bit of paper gratefully, and looked at it.

"Why--"

"What's the matter?" John Boland surveyed the wrapper of his cigar with
keen interest, deftly closing a small broken place in it.

"This address!" exclaimed Harry.

"Well, what about it?"

"It's in the lowest, most depraved section of the city."

"Yes, I noticed that."

Harry looked up at his father quizzically.

"You did?"

"Yes."

"Governor," began Harry pointedly, a new idea beginning to dawn upon him,
"if you do not know that a great deal of your property is rented and used
for the most immoral purposes how do you know this address so well?"

"Why," spluttered Boland, senior, "I--I've read the papers."

"But this vile section of the city that you own has never been
published."

"Look here, Harry," demanded his father, aggressively, "do you doubt my
word?"

"I do," was the firm reply.

"I'm your father," he retorted angrily.

"You are," agreed Harry, "but this is a matter of right and wrong, and
you can't fool me again as you have all these years."

"I'll show you who's master," threatened John Boland, grimly.

"It's your privilege to try," conceded the son with suppressed anger.

"Hold on--hold on," hedged his father, apologetically, "don't let's get
mad about it. Finish up that contract and then--"

"And then?"

Harry's manner was alert, defensive, but wholly questioning.

"Then we'll talk this over calmly."

"All right, but Governor--" the young man turned at the door, grasping
the contract in one hand as he put out the other warningly and pointed
with his forefinger to the scrap of paper he had laid on the desk, on
which was written Patience's supposed address: "Let me give you a piece
of advice. Don't try to fool me."

John Boland stood motionless for a moment looking after his son; then he
clenched his hand and brought it down on the desk with a forcible thump,
as he thought:

"I've got to do something--quick."

"Well, made up your mind to see me, did you, Mr. Boland?"

Martin Druce's suave voice recalled Boland from the revery into which he
had lapsed.

"Yes," he replied quickly, walking to the door through which Harry had
gone and closing it.

"Now, don't talk," he commanded as he returned to his desk. "Listen! You
and Anson want a renewal of the lease for the Cafe Sinister, don't you?"

"Sure," responded Druce, affably. "And I suppose you'll raise the rent on
us."

"No," replied Boland, shaking his head.

"Eh?"

"Not if you're smart."

"I don't get you," announced Druce inquiringly, as he seated himself on
the edge of the desk.

"My boy, Harry, thinks he is in love with a girl who has come to
Chicago."

"Yes, Mr. Boland, but I don't see--"

"Now," continued Boland, regardless of the interruption, "if Harry
happened to see this girl in some questionable resort,--say, like Cafe
Sinister--if he were tipped off that this girl would be there--"

"I get you." Druce sprang to his feet; he was now keen and alert, like a
hound on the scent. "Who's the girl?"

"She's got a position of some kind with the Alpha Mining Company on this
floor," replied Boland. "She'll lose that tomorrow."

"I'm on. What's her name?"

"Patience Welcome!"

"What!" exclaimed Druce, with a sneering twist to the word.

"Do you know her?"

"Yes."

"Well?" Boland gazed at him, anxiously awaiting the reply.

"About the lease?" veered Druce with cunning perception.

Boland hesitated and scrutinized the other closely. He was satisfied with
what he saw stamped on Druce's face, but he only said pointedly:

"I always make good when a man delivers the goods. Now get out--I'm
busy."

"On my way," returned Druce easily, as he sauntered to the door, but he
turned there, saying significantly:

"I'll deliver the goods,--don't worry."

John Boland sighed contentedly as he watched Druce go. Then he muttered:

"There, I guess I--"

"All right, Mr. Boland," rang out a clear feminine voice, as Miss Masters
came from the inner office. "That contract is all ready."

"Oh, Miss Masters!"

"Yes, Mr. Boland," she replied in saccharine tones.

"Make out a lease for that property in South Twelfth street."

"For the Cafe Sinister, John?" inquired Michael Grogan, who had followed
Miss Masters into the main office. "You're crazy."

"Oh, shut up, Mike," snapped Boland. "What ails you, anyway?"

"I've been reading the last edition," replied Grogan, lugubriously. "Mary
Randall has had special officers sworn in at her own expense to help her
make raids. She's put goose flesh all over me."

"Let me see it."

Boland took the paper which Grogan was fingering nervously.

"Take it," said the Irishman. "It's a live coal."

The other glanced over the sheet and threw it on the desk.

"Get busy on that lease, Miss Masters," he commanded.

"Just a moment, Governor," interrupted Harry, who had overheard the
conversation as he came in. "If you lease that property to that hound,
Anson, you and I are through."

"What?" exclaimed John Boland, astounded.

"It has come to a show-down," went on Harry, with determination expressed
in both his tone and manner, "and I'm damned if I'll touch a cent of
dirty money like that."

"You've been reading the Mary Randall stuff, eh?" sneered his father.

"Yes. And she's right. Now, you make your choice."

"Hold on--hold on," commanded the irate father. "Aren't you forgetting
that I own and control this Lake City Company--that you are--"

"No! I realize that," retorted Harry, resolutely.

"All right!" Boland turned to Miss Masters grimly: "Make out that lease
to Anson."

"Then here," said Harry quietly, as he wrote a few words on a sheet of
blank paper and laid it on the desk; "here is my resignation as president
of your Electrical Company, to take effect _now_."

"Harry!" protested his father.

"I'll get my personal things together at once," went on the young man,
securing his hat from the rack.

"This has gone far enough," rasped John Boland, springing to his feet.
"I'll show this Mary Randall there's one she can't scare."

He paced nervously up and down the office, pausing finally beside his
desk.

"Miss Masters, take an open letter from me to the newspapers."

He did not notice the actions of the stenographer as he dictated:

"I, John Boland, am a business man. I stand on my record. I defy Miss
Mary Randall--"

In pausing to formulate his thoughts, he became conscious that Miss
Masters had not been taking his dictation; that she had laid an envelope
on his desk directly in front of where he usually sat, and that she was
putting on her hat.

"Here, hold on!" he cried peremptorily. "What does this mean, Miss
Masters?"

"It means, Mr. Boland," she replied quietly, as she adjusted a hat pin,
"that I have resigned. Good day."

When she started to leave Boland called out to her in amazement:

"Here--wait--why do you resign?"

"That letter on the desk will tell you," she said as she moved through
the doorway. "Good day."

John Boland picked up the letter and opened it. He was dazed as he read
aloud:

"I refuse to lend my aid to the owners of vice property. Mary Randall."

Boland stared into space, while Harry exclaimed:

"Then Miss Masters is Mary Randall!"

"Murder, alive!" yelled Grogan. He slid down in his chair and attempted
to conceal himself beneath the desk.

John Boland's hands trembled as he clutched the letter.

"Mary Randall," he said, still dazed. "By all that's holy! That girl Mary
Randall!"



                              CHAPTER XVII

                            THE CAFE SINISTER


The Cafe Sinister stands like a gilded temple at the entrance to
Chicago's tenderloin. The fact is significant. The management, the
appearance, the policy, if you please, of the place are all in keeping
with this one potent circumstance of location. The Cafe Sinister beckons
to the passerby. It appeals to him subtly with its music, its cheap
splendor, its false gayety. To the sophisticated its allurements are
those of the scarlet woman, to the innocent its voice is the voice of
Joy.

Two pillars of carved glass, lighted from the inside by electricity,
stand at the portal. Within a huge room, filled with drinking tables
sparkling with many lights, gleaming and garish, suggests without
revealing the enticements of evil.

This is the set trap. Above is that indispensable appurtenance to the
pander's trade--the private dining room. Above that is what, in the
infinite courtesy of the police, is called a hotel. And behind and beyond
lies the Levee itself--naked and unashamed, blatantly vicious, consuming
itself in the caustic of its own vices.

To the trained observer of cities the words: "All hope abandon, ye who
enter here," are written as plainly over the door of the Cafe Sinister as
if it were that other portal through which Dante passed with Beatrice.
But the unlearned in vice cannot read the writing. By thousands every
year they enter joyously and by thousands they are cast out into the
Levee, wrecked in morals, ruined in health, racked by their own
consciences.

The Cafe Sinister is not an institution peculiar to Chicago. Every great
city in America possesses one. It is the place through which recruits are
won to the underworld. It is the entrance to the labyrinth where lost
souls wander. Viewed from its portal it is the Palace of Pleasure; seen
from behind, through those haggard eyes from which vice has torn away the
illusions of innocence, it is the Saddest Place in the World.

Druce owned the Cafe Sinister with Carter Anson; their lease was written
for them by John Boland. Thus the upper world and the under were leagued
for its maintenance. And though the press might shriek and the pulpit
thunder the combination and the Cafe Sinister went on forever.

These three men had been drawn together by a common characteristic. Their
consciences were dead. That atrophy of conscience made them all
worshipers of the same idol--money. The motives that propelled each of
the three to the altar were as diverse as their separate natures, but the
sacrifice that each offered to the Moloch was the same--their souls.

Having forfeited by their deeds the thing that made them men, the three
shrunk to the moral stature of animals. Boland was the tiger, brooding
over the city with yellow eyes, seeking whom he might devour. Druce was
the wolf; cunning, ruthless, prowling. Anson was the mastiff; savage,
brutal, given to wild bursts of rending passion. Love of power lashed
Boland to his crimes; lechery prompted Druce in his prowlings; and whisky
was the fire that smouldered under Anson's brutalities.

On an afternoon in June Druce and Anson sat together in conference in one
of the little booths of the Cafe Sinister's main dining room. The cafe,
after its orgy of the night before, was quiet. Waiters, cat-footed and
villain faced, gathered up the debris of the night's revel, slinking
about their work like men ashamed of it. The sunlight peered dimly
through the curtained windows; the air was heavy with the lees of liquor
and the dead smoke of tobacco.

The two men sat facing each other. A glass of whisky was cupped in
Anson's closed hand. His clothes, unbrushed and unpressed, flapped about
his huge figure. His throat bagged with flabby dewlaps. His head was
bullet-shaped, his eyes fierce, his mouth loose-lipped and brutal. He
made a strange contrast to his companion. Druce was lithe, well made and
gifted with a sort of Satanic handsomeness. He was immaculately dressed.

"It's fixed, I tell you," Druce was saying.

"Fixed, be damned," rumbled Anson. "I know Boland. Nothing's fixed with
him until the lease is drawn and delivered."

"I say the thing's fixed," insisted Druce. "All we've got to do now is
carry out our part of the agreement and I've completed all of the
arrangements. We've got a week."

"I know," said Anson, unconvinced. "It's fixed and you've completed the
arrangements. I'm from Missouri."

"Boland wants this girl, Patience Welcome, brought in here next Saturday
night," said Druce. "He has arranged that his pious pup of a son, Harry,
shall be here the same evening. We are to manage it so that he will get
the impression that the girl has been amusing herself with him, that she
has been kidding him along and playing this tenderloin game on the side.
He's not to be allowed to talk to her. He'll see her--that will be
enough. She's to come here to help her mother earn a little cash. I sent
a fellow to hire the old woman to start here on Saturday night as a scrub
woman. She's agreed to keep that part of it quiet. Then I'll drag the
other one in--mine, do you understand. We'll make young Boland think the
whole damned Welcome family belongs to us. We can see to it that the
Patience girl gets some glad rags and some dope when she gets here. She's
seen me in Millville, so it's up to you, Anson, to sign her up at good
pay as a singer--" He stopped significantly.

"Too complicated," was Anson's rejoinder. "Sounds good on paper, but it
won't work, I tell you, it won't work. I don't like the way things have
been going lately." He drained the whisky glass. "This vice commission
and this crazy yap of a Mary Randall--"

"O, hell!" interrupted Druce in disgust. "You've got it, too, have you?
Mary Randall! My God, you talk like an old woman!"

"I tell you--" Anson began.

"You can't tell me nothing. I'm sick and tired of framing stuff and then
have you throw it down because you've lost your nerve and are afraid of a
girl. I'm done, I tell you. If you think you can improve on my plans, go
ahead. I'm through. I won't--"

Anson capitulated immediately. "Now don't get sore, Mart," he whined, "I
know I'm no good on this frameup stuff. Maybe I am a little nervous. Go
ahead with your plan--I guess it's the best one. Don't let's fight about
it."

"All right," rejoined Druce. "Now that's settled. I'll handle this thing.
All you've got to do is keep your trap shut and stand pat."

The conversation was interrupted by the angry and maudlin exclamations of
a girl. She had been sitting at a distant table half asleep. A porter had
wakened her.

"I won't go home and sleep," she shrieked. "Keep your hands off me, you
dirty nigger."

"Now what's the trouble?" demanded Druce of Anson.

"Swede Rose has been drunk all night."

"We've got to get rid of her. She's always pulling this rough stuff."

"Not now," warned Anson. "It's too hard to get new girls. When she's
sober she's a wise money getter."

"Damn her," muttered Druce, "I don't like her anyway. She had the nerve
to slap my face the other night because I wouldn't give her money for
hop. As soon as this lease is signed I'm going down state. I'll bring
back some new stock and then it's 'On your way' for that wildcat."

"Let me handle her," advised Anson. He got up and walked over to the
table where the girl was having the altercation with the negro. She was
still young, but drink and drugs had left ineffaceable lines upon her
face. She was beautiful, even this morning after her night's debauch, for
she possessed a regularity of feature and a fine contour of figure that
not even death itself could wreck. Her disheveled hair showed here and
there traces of gray. Her skin was a dead white, save where two pink
spots blazed in either cheek.

"Here he comes," called the girl, catching sight of Anson. "Good old
Carter. Ans," she went on, "chase this coon out of here; he won't let me
sleep." Anson motioned the porter to keep his distance. "An' say, Ans,"
the girl went on, "gimme a quarter. I'm broke and I got to have some hop
or die."

Anson handed the negro a quarter without a word. The porter hurried out
of the cafe.

"He wanted to chase me out," the girl whimpered.

"Well, Rose," Anson went on pacifically, "you've got to cut out this all
night booze thing. You're hurting the house."

The girl looked up at the dive keeper with dull eyes.

"Hurting the house, eh?" she echoed. "What about me? Think I ain't
hurting myself? Say, it's got so I'd rather be drunk than sober. I can't
stand to be sober. I always start thinking. Some of these days you'll
hear of me walking out of this place and making a dent in the lake--"

The negro returned with the drug. The girl seized it with trembling
hands. While the two men stood and looked she drew a small lancet from
the bosom of her dress, inserted its point under the skin of her white
forearm and drove a few drops of the drug into the vein. The effect was
instantaneous. She laughed loudly.

"Now, you get to bed," ordered Anson.

"Bed, hell," retorted the girl.

"I said get to bed." Anson glowered at her.

"There'll be a big night tonight, and--"

"You can't give me no orders."

Anson had held in his temper as long as he was able. His fierce eyes
twinkled and his brutal mouth twitched. Without a word he reached across
the table, clutched the girl by the throat and dragged her out of her
seat. He hurled her, half strangled, on the floor.

"Here," he bellowed to some of his servitors, "take this damn hell-cat
out of here. Take her up to the hotel. If she won't go to bed, throw her
into the street."

"You--you--" gasped the girl, struggling to her feet.

"Don't talk back to me," roared Anson, "or I'll kill you. I'll show you
what you are and who's running this place." Then to the waiters: "Get her
out of here."

The girl was dragged out of the room, screaming and fighting. A wisp of
curses came back into the big room as she was lugged up the stairs
towards the hotel.

Anson stood panting with anger. A mail carrier entered and placed a
letter in his hand. He opened and read:

"Mr. Carter Anson: Take your choice. Close the Cafe Sinister, or I'll see
that it is closed. Mary Randall."

The big man flushed crimson with rage. He tried to speak, but the words
choked in his throat. He crumpled the letter and hurled it with a curse
across the room.

"Druce," he bellowed.

Druce hurried across the room.

"Did you see that?"

"Yes, I saw you beat her up. Why don't you let 'em alone? You'll kill one
of them some of these days."

"Naw, not her. I mean the letter. Mary Randall--she says she's going to
close us." A waiter recovered the letter and brought it to Druce. He read
it.

"Say, listen, are you turning yellow--"

"No, I ain't yellow," returned Anson, "but this thing is getting my goat.
You're sure about that lease?"

"Sure?--say, I thought we'd settled that--"

"Well," pursued Anson, "I don't like this. What have you done with this
other girl--the one you married? She'll be getting us into a row next."

"I married her, didn't I?"

"Yes, but--"

"Well, it's about time she started earning her bread. This Randall woman
hasn't got me scared. You know why I married her. Well, I'm going through
with it. I--"

The rest of his sentence died on his lips. A girl scarcely more than a
child came in from the hotel entrance. She was dressed in a lacey gown, a
size too large for her. The slit skirt displayed her slim ankles in pink
silk stockings. The French heeled shoes were decorated with rhinestone
buckles. In spite of this outrageous dress she was still pretty. It was
Elsie Welcome.

"Hello, kid," said Druce, his manner changing.

"I want to see you, Martin," Elsie replied. Druce noticed that she seemed
deeply agitated. There were signs of recently shed tears on her cheeks.

"I'll run along," said Anson, seeing the girl's agitation. When he was
gone Druce drew the girl into a booth and demanded sharply:

"What the devil do you want and how did you get here?"

"I came in a taxicab," the girl answered.

"A taxi, eh? Well, you're learning. Who paid for it?"

"It isn't paid for, Martin. I wanted to see you and--"

"And what?"

"The man's waiting outside."

Druce flushed angrily. "Look here," he demanded. "Don't play me for a
boob. Get someone else to pay your taxi bills."

"But, Martin, I thought--"

Druce did not wait for the rest of the sentence. With a muttered oath he
rushed outside and paid the waiting chauffeur.

"Now, what do you want?" he demanded when he returned.

Elsie looked at him piteously. "Martin," she said, "I can't stay in that
place any longer."

"Say, don't my aunt treat you all right?"

The girl burst out sobbing. "She isn't your aunt, Martin. She told me so
herself. And that flat--"

"Well, what about it?"

"I--I can't tell you. I can't say it. I never knew until tonight." Elsie
clutched Druce's arm pleadingly. "Martin," she said, "a man came into my
room."

Druce saw that the time had come for him to lay his cards on the table.
He folded his arms and looked at the girl.

"Well?" he demanded coolly.

"He had been drinking and--he took hold of me."

There was a long pause. Druce gazed at the girl satirically. She quailed
with sinking heart under that look. She began sobbing again.

"Don't look at me like that, Martin," she wailed. "Don't--or I shall go
mad. I left home to marry you."

"Well, I married you, didn't I?" Druce sneered.

Elsie attempted to control her voice.

"That woman you call your aunt laughed at me when I told her I was your
wife. She said I was a country fool."

"Damn her," muttered Druce. "I'll settle with her."

The girl grasped Druce frantically.

"Tell me she lied," she cried, "or I'll go crazy. Tell me she lied."

"Yes, she lied," answered Druce glibly. "See here, kid, it's about time
you began helping to support the family."

Elsie dried her tears. "I'm--I'm ready," she said. "I've practiced my
songs--"

"O, the songs," said Druce. "That isn't all."

"What do you mean, Martin?"

"Why--don't be so stand-offish. When a man offers to buy you a bottle of
wine, let him."

"Martin!"

Druce stopped her sharply. "Now don't begin that Millville Sunday school
stuff," he said. "This is business."

"Is it?" Elsie spoke in a whisper.

"Sure. When a man's got a wad of bills and he's willing to buy, string
him along!"

"But I'm your wife, Martin." Elsie was dead white and calm.

"Well, don't let that worry you. Go as far as you like--or as far as he
likes."

The girl stood motionless, looking straight before her.

"Is--is that what you brought me here for?" she asked with forced
calmness.

"Sure. Why do you suppose I dressed you up like that? Your stock in trade
is your good looks. Sell it."

The girl drew herself up rigidly.

"I won't do it," she said. She started toward the door.

"You will!" grated Druce, following her.

"Never," she answered. "I'll die first. Good-by!" The door closed after
her.

Anson had returned to the room and had witnessed the scene.

"Well," he sneered, "there goes the first move in your plan. You've lost
that one."

"You think so?" Druce sneered in return. "Well, don't lose any sleep
worrying about that one. She ain't got a dime. She'll be back."



                              CHAPTER XVIII

                            LOST IN THE LEVEE


So stupefied was Elsie Welcome by her emotions as she fled from the Cafe
Sinister that it was not until her clothes were drenched that she
realized it had begun to rain. Even then she did not halt and seek
shelter. Her numbed brain knew only one thing--that she must get away
from Druce and the place of sin to which he had brought her.

Up to the time of her last interview with her husband she had been living
in a dream; now that dream had turned into a nightmare. But the
nightmare, she at last realized, was reality. The veil of deception Druce
had woven around her had been torn away by his own brutal words. She had
come to feel a vague terror of the man. As for the Cafe Sinister, her
whole nature revolted against it.

It was an hour before sunset. The sullen houses about her were beginning
to show signs of life. Here and there a door opened and a man or woman
stepped quickly out with rapid glances up and down the street. There was
no loitering. They went their way quickly, always with a half furtive
look over the shoulder.

As the girl reached a corner she found at last that she was too exhausted
to go farther. Her clothes dripped. She sought an entrance way for
shelter. A tall girl in a broad hat with showy plumes was just coming out
of the door. She looked at Elsie's tear stained face and stopped.

"What's the matter, girlie?" There was sympathy in her voice.

"Nothing. Can you tell me where this number is?" She produced a card on
which Druce's "aunt" at their last interview had written the address of a
woman from whom she could get work.

The tall girl glanced at the slip of paper.

"It's just over there, two doors from that corner," she said. Elsie
turned to cross the street. The tall girl stood still regarding her
thoughtfully. Suddenly she seemed to reach a decision. She darted forward
and stopped Elsie.

"It's none of my business, kid," she said, "but what do you want of
Mother Lankee?"

Elsie looked at her in surprise. "Why," she said pitifully, "I expect to
get work there."

"Do you know the kind of work Mother Lankee would ask you to do?"

"I don't know, but I'm willing to do anything."

"Anything?" repeated the tall girl.

"Why, yes. I've got to the point where I can't afford to be particular."

The tall girl laid her hand on Elsie's arm.

"What is your name?"

"Elsie Welcome."

"Where do you live?"

"On South Tenth street."

"You come from down state?"

"How did you know?"

"It's written all over you. What man brought you here?"

The question surprised Elsie and brought back memory of her sorrows. She
did not answer. Her eyes filled with tears.

"Come, kid," said the tall girl, cheerfully, "get hold of yourself. Now,
listen! You stay away from Mother Lankee. You're hungry, ain't you,
dearie? You come with me and we'll get something to eat."

Elsie was too tired to resist and, instinctively, she trusted this tall
girl with her assumption of guardianship. Together they crossed the
street and entered the rear room of a saloon. Three men sat near the
entrance playing cards. They looked at the two girls, inspecting Elsie
narrowly and nodding carelessly at her companion. The girl took seats at
a distant table.

"What do you want, Lou?" inquired one of the men, getting up from the
table.

"Not you," retorted Lou curtly. "Send one of your waiters here with a
plain lemonade, a glass of milk and some of that beef stew."

"Milk, eh?" said the man, "and lemonade. On the wagon again, Lou?"

"Run along now," returned the girl. "If you keep on asking questions
someone is going to tell you lies."

The man went into another room, spoke to someone there and rejoined the
card players. In a few moments a negro waiter appeared with the viands
Lou had ordered.

Elsie began to eat famishedly. The other girl watched her approvingly.

"Go to it, girlie," she advised. "I know how you feel. I've been hungry
myself."

She sipped her lemonade until Elsie had finished. Then, as though it had
not been interrupted, she resumed the conversation they had begun in the
street.

"The same old game," she said cynically. "You came to Chicago because you
loved him. He strung you along--" Her glance fell on Elsie's wedding
ring. "You fell for that 'I do take thee' thing. Then he shook you. Is
that right, girlie?"

Elsie shook her head. A stupor due to the food and the reaction from her
nervous and physical exhaustion came over her. She felt too languid to
grapple with the problem of existence.

The tall girl arched her eyebrows in surprise.

"He didn't shake you? Then why--"

"I couldn't do what he wanted me to do," murmured Elsie. She felt her
face flushing and she dropped her head. "He wanted me to--to--"

The other interrupted her sharply. "You needn't say it--I know." She
gripped the table in sudden anger. "One of these dogs--eh?"

Elsie stared at her blankly. The old sense of forlornness, of being alone
and uncared for, returned to her.

"I don't know what you mean," she faltered.

"What was his name?"

"Druce," gasped Elsie.

"Druce, eh?" replied the tall girl, as though the name had opened a whole
vista of understanding. "Druce? Well, look out for him, girlie. He'll
hound you from one end of the town to the other until he gets you. That's
his business."

"He always said he was a dealer in live stock."

The tall girl laughed scornfully. "Live stock!" she jeered. "Did he get
away with that? Well, that's what he is--a dealer in human live stock, a
trafficker in women, one of the oldest professions in the world--and the
dirtiest. Live stock! That's what he calls girls like you and
me--cattle!"

For a long moment Elsie sat staring at her companion. The last prop of
her faith in the man who had married her was crumbling. She could not
give up this last illusion of Druce's faithfulness without a struggle.
The blood flamed to her cheeks and she started to her feet.

"I don't believe it," she cried in anguish.

To her surprise, Lou made no reply. She merely regarded her pityingly.
This was the last blow. Elsie burst into a flood of tears.

"I know you don't believe it," said Lou gently. "It's hard for anyone who
is decent to believe that men can fall so low. Why, nobody believes it!
The men who run the city government don't believe it, the law makers
don't believe it, the vice commission, doesn't believe it. The only
people who believe it are the people who, at their own bitter cost, know
it--and this girl Mary Randall."

She paused.

"Look at me, kid," she went on. "I was sold for $175. Sold, do you get
that? SOLD! And I came high. They buy and sell 'em in this district every
day for fifty. Yes, I was prime stock. They brought me up here from
Kentucky. Kentucky Lou, price $175--a choice article." She broke off,
laughing bitterly, and summoned a waiter.

"Whisky," she said, "and be quick with it."

She waited until the waiter returned without speaking. Then she tossed
off the glass of fiery liquid like a man.

"Now," she said, resuming the conversation abruptly, "let me tell you
what you are up against. You can't go home, your pride won't let you. And
if you wanted to go home you haven't the money. Druce has turned you
loose in this district to starve and when you've starved enough you'll
come back to him."

Elsie shook her head.

"Yes, you will, girlie. You don't know it now, but I know it and Druce
knows it. And when you come back you'll do as Druce wants you to do,
because you'll know that if you don't you'll have to starve again. It's
against human nature to starve. You'll go back to him. And when you do
and Druce is tired of you he'll sell you for what you are, cattle--his
kind of cattle!"

"Oh no!" wailed Elsie. "Not that. Surely in this great city there are
places where a friendless girl can find protection!"

Kentucky Lou laughed again but the laugh contained no mirth.

"I thought that too, kid," she said more gently. "And perhaps--perhaps--if
you could find the right people and they believed you they might help you.
But they didn't help me. I went to one of these institutions that
advertise to help friendless girls. Yes, I went to them. I had my baby in
my arms. And they began by shooting me full of questions that I'd rather
die than answer. And me perishing for a kind word and a slap on the
back--just something to keep me fighting to be good. They gave me tracts,
and sermons and advice. And then my baby died and I didn't care what
happened. I guess I went crazy after that. 'It's hell, anyway,' I says,
'so here goes.' And here I am."

While she spoke Kentucky Lou was fumbling with her dress. Her hand
reappeared in a moment with a five dollar bill. She shoved the bill into
Elsie's hand.

"Take that," she said, "and go. Go as far as you can. It's all I can do
for you and it may save you. I think you'll come back to Druce but I'm
taking a gambler's chance."

She took Elsie by the arm, half lifted the stupefied girl to her feet and
led her to the door. Impelled by a terror which both blinded and choked
her Elsie fled into the gathering darkness without even pausing to thank
her benefactor.

Lou returned to the saloon and ordered more whisky.

"Lou," inquired one of the men, "who's you're friend?"

Lou regarded the questioner calmly.

"That?" she replied, "Oh, that's a little lost lamb turned loose in a den
of you human hyenas."



                               CHAPTER XIX

                MARY RANDALL GOES TO LIVE IN A WOLF'S DEN


Martin Druce, still pacing uneasily; about the big drinking room of the
Cafe Sinister after his angry parting with Elsie Welcome, looked up
suddenly and saw the street door open. He stood still staring. The new
arrival was Mary Randall. She wore a smart tailored suit and a modish
hat. Druce noted these details of costume, the shining bronze hair, the
fresh complexion and the trim figure. He gasped with surprise.

Druce's surprise was not due to any recognition of his visitor as the
reformer. To him Mary Randall was still Miss Masters, for he had heard
nothing of the episode in John Boland's office when the electric king's
private secretary revealed her true identity. His astonishment was
predicated upon the fact that this stenographer, after having thwarted
and flouted him, after having seemed to read the darkest secrets of his
plotting mind, should now walk in upon him with all the easy composure of
an old friend.

Then he had read the girl wrong after all! She was, as he had at first
suspected, of the demi-monde. Thus her sophistication, the ease with
which she had penetrated his pretensions, the cool finality with which
she had catalogued and placed him, were all explainable. Her worldly
wisdom, which he had found so baffling, was that of the skilled and
experienced adventuress!

These reflections swept through his mind in a moment. Another thought
came to him that filled him with rage. She was here now to resume her
play with him. But rage gave way to desire. His mind instantly busied
itself with new intrigues. Here was a woman much to be desired. She had
come hunting amusement at his expense. She delivered herself into his
hands; she laughed at his power. And she seemed confident of beating him.
This was a game that filled him with delight. He sprang forward eagerly
to greet her, bowing gallantly, and doffing his hat.

"How do you do, Mr. Druce?" inquired Miss Masters. "You seem surprised to
see me here."

Druce caught something mocking in her tone. "I'm more than surprised," he
returned. "I'm tickled pink. Won't you have a seat?" He prepared a place
for her at one of the booths. "And can't I order you something to drink?"

Miss Masters favored Druce with one of her enigmatical smiles. "It's a
little early for wine," she said, "and too late for highballs. Besides,
business before pleasure. I want to talk to you."

Druce sat down, expectantly.

"I've come here, Mr. Druce," Miss Masters went on, "not merely to make a
social call, as you seem to take for granted, but as John Boland's agent.
He has instructed me to take up the matter of your new lease with you. I
am to handle the whole transaction in his name. The only stipulation that
he makes is that you are not to communicate with him again. He wants you
to stay away from his office, because he has learned within the last few
hours that the office is being watched by agents of this girl reformer,
Mary Randall. He has instructed me to tell you not to attempt to see him
or to telephone him until your negotiations with me are concluded."

Druce was disappointed.

"Why," he said, "I thought the matter of the lease was settled. Boland
told me plainly when I last talked with him that if I would arrange to
have Patience Welcome here on Saturday night so that Harry Boland could
see her he would give me a new lease with no increase in rental."

"I understand," replied Miss Masters to whom this was news. "The idea of
arranging this meeting is, I am informed, to convince Harry that the girl
has been playing with him--that she is one of your employes."

"That's it," replied Druce. "I've made all the plans and the girl will be
here on Saturday night. I've arranged to have her mother here, too. And
to make it good I expect to bring in the other sister--the girl Elsie--at
the last moment. Young Boland will believe that the whole Welcome family
is working for me."

"I see," said Miss Masters. "It's a pretty smooth scheme, but Mr. Boland
thinks it's rather too daring. That's why he's sent me here, to see that
nothing goes wrong. You are to give me all the details of your plans and
through me Mr. Boland is to be kept informed as to what is going on."

"Well, he's a deep one," said Druce. "I don't like his introducing a
third party into my plans very well, but I guess I've got to take it.
I've got to have that lease."

"Yes," replied Miss Masters, "that's the way John Boland has it figured
out."

"Say, girlie," Druce went on, assuming a confidential air, "Old Boland
sure must have a lot of confidence in you."

Again Miss Masters smiled enigmatically. "Yes," she admitted, "Mr. Boland
has reason to know I can take care of myself in nearly every situation."

"I'm beginning to think you're as deep as Boland is."

"Yes?" Miss Masters tantalized him with another of her smiles. "Now," she
went on, "tell me about this. You say you're going to have the other
Welcome girl here. How do you expect to arrange that?"

Druce grinned triumphantly. "That's dead easy," he said. "You see I'm
married to her." He had expected to startle Miss Masters with this
information, but he was disappointed. She merely arched her brows
slightly. "Then you marry them, do you?" "Yes, when I have to. It's the
easiest way." "Then this girl--Elsie--is living in your--a--a--hotel?"

"No," replied Druce hesitatingly, "she's gone away." Then he added
quickly, "but she'll be back."

"Gone away? I don't understand." "Oh, we had a family row this morning. I
told her that if she wanted to get along in Chicago she'd have to discard
her Millville morals and be a good fellow. She's squeamish. I let her
understand that she'd have to--"

"I see," said Miss Masters. "She thought that, because she was your wife
she wouldn't have to drink with the patrons in your cafe. When you told
her she'd have to, she got angry and walked out. Is that it?"

"You're wise," replied Druce admiringly.

"You say she'll be back. How do you know that?"

"I know it, because she hasn't got a dime. With her it's a case of coming
back or starving to death in the Levee, and I know enough about her to be
sure she'll be back. She can't get away from me."

"And the other girl, Patience?"

"She thinks this is a sort of a music hall. She's coming here with her
mother Saturday night. Before she discovers that this place isn't exactly
what she believes it is, Harry Boland will see her up there on the stand
with the rest of my talent. I'll get the girl out of the place before he
can talk to her. That will put the kibosh on their love affair."

"What do you expect to do with these girls afterward?"

"Oh, we have facilities here"--Druce's smile was evil--"for breaking 'em
in. Afterward--well, I don't know. It may be dangerous to keep them
around Chicago. I can get a good price for them." He laughed. "You know
I'm a dealer in live stock."

"Yes, yes, you expect to sell them. That's not a bad idea."

"Now look here, kid," said Druce, "you've asked me a lot of questions and
got fair answers. It's a poor game that can't be played both ways. I want
to know something about you."

Miss Masters curled herself up comfortably in a corner of the booth. She
looked challengingly at Druce.

"Shoot," she said.

"Now, who are you?"

"You know my name. It's Masters."

"I don't mean that. What are you?"

Miss Masters replied quickly, "I--why--I'm a girl, and--you say yourself
I'm wise."

"You don't have to tell me that. Where did you come from? Where did
Boland get you?"

"Before I went to work for Boland I was in St. Louis."

"What did you do there?"

"Oh, I shan't answer that question--yet."

"Well, you seem to know a great deal about the kind of business I'm in.
Where did you get your information?"

"Picked it up."

"In St. Louis?"

"Yes, I learned some things there."

"Have you ever been in this business?"

"What business?"

"Well, this cafe business--and the rest of it."

"You say I know a good deal about it."

"Yes, you know a lot about it. And you've got your information from the
inside. And Boland knows you know a lot about it. Otherwise he wouldn't
have sent you down here."

"Yes?" Miss Masters was silent for a moment. "Druce," she went on, "did
you ever hear of the Broughton Club?"

"Sure, that swell joint in St. Louis?"

"Yes. Well, I'm interested in it."

"As owner?"

"Never mind about that. I'm interested in it and one of my reasons for
calling on you is to get some girls for the club."

"You want to buy some girls?"

"You said it."

"From me?"

"From you, if I can get the right figures. If I can't, I'll try
elsewhere. You're not the only 'dealer in live stock' in the Levee."

"I'll make the figures right."

"I'm interested in this place."

"In the Cafe Sinister?"

"Yes, I want to know something about your methods. We don't know it all
in St. Louis. I think I can pick up a little information here. I'm going
back to St. Louis in a month. I want to take some girls back with me, and
I'd like to find out just how a first class joint like the Cafe Sinister
is operated in Chicago."

"Is this a proposition?"

"Yes, it's a proposition."

"All right. Go on."

"I want to live at the Cafe Sinister during the week our deal for the
lease is on. I'll take rooms in your--a--hotel, upstairs.

"And I'll be around the cafe, and making myself at home generally," added
Miss Masters, reassuringly.

"Go as far as you like," answered Druce, "and if you need a body guard,"
he added, with a knowing wink, "why, you know me."

Miss Masters' eyes narrowed. "I told you I could look out for myself,"
she answered.

"You'll have to look out for yourself," retorted Druce significantly.

"Let me do the worrying about that."

Druce was silent. He had determined to accept Miss Masters' offer. He
felt that she was walking into his trap and yet, so great had grown his
respect for her that he did not know his next move.

"I'll have a suite prepared for you," he said.

"That's settled, then."

Miss Masters got up from her seat. As she did so Druce attempted a
caress. "I'm going to collect part of the rent in advance," he said.

"Are you?" Miss Masters pushed him away sharply. He did not repeat his
indiscretion. Instead he stood back respectfully to let her pass. In the
palm of her hand with the muzzle pointing firmly in his direction he saw
a small, steel-blue magazine pistol. The girl's finger was on the
trigger.

"If you'll have one of your servants show me the suite," said Miss
Masters, "I'll telephone for my maid."

Then she added, seemingly as an afterthought,

"I never pay the rent, Mr. Druce, until the end of the week."



                               CHAPTER XX

                   DRUCE SIGNS A SIGNIFICANT DOCUMENT


Mary Randall realized that she was playing a dangerous game. She had
placed herself in Druce's power because taking that risk had seemed to
her the best way to gather evidence against the Cafe Sinister. She had
not acted without laying her plans carefully. Her whole campaign for the
week that she was to be in Druce's dive had been mapped out before she
set foot so unexpectedly inside his door.

The girl depended upon two things for protection. First was Druce's fear
of the power of John Boland. She believed that the man would not dare to
use physical violence against her if he thought she was what she had
represented herself to be--John Boland's agent. Second was his desire for
a renewal of the lease to the cafe. Mary was confident that Druce would
plot against her but she was equally sure he would not move until after
the lease had been signed. If both these protections failed, she still
had her magazine pistol. And she knew how to use it.

In coming into Druce's place she had deliberately counted on the
ascendancy which she knew her beauty and her air of mystery had obtained
over him. She was playing the pander at his own game. It was an extremely
dangerous game but she believed she could beat him. And the results would
be worth the risk.

Meanwhile her greatest anxiety was to prevent Druce from communicating in
any way with John Boland. If Druce should learn through Boland that he
had not delegated her to negotiate the lease, that she was in fact Mary
Randall, then she would be face to face with a fight for her life. But
she was quite sure that Druce would not communicate with Boland. She knew
the workings of Boland's office well enough to understand how difficult
it was for Druce to get a word with the master of the Electric Trust and
as a special precaution she had put an inhibition upon him not to call at
or telephone to the office. Finally, before she had quite finished with
Boland, she had arranged with his telephone operator that no calls from
Druce should be put on John Boland's wire.

Mary's first move after she had been shown to her suite was to telephone
to Anna, her maid, whom she had left nearby before making her visit to
the cafe. Anna arrived in a short time with a porter carrying a couple of
heavy suit cases.

When the two girls were at last alone in their rooms they began preparing
for their week's stay by making a thorough examination of the locks on
the doors. They found them secure. Then, closing the keyholes, they
proceeded to unpack the suit cases. Out of them they took, besides
various articles of apparel, a complete dictagraph apparatus. The
transmitter was hidden under a mat on a table in the reception room that
formed part of the suite. The wires were carried down the leg of the
table and under the carpets to a small closet; there Anna installed a
small table, a pocket electric light and her stenographer's notebook. A
small camera was hidden in one of the window curtains. It was focused so
as to take in the space surrounding the table in the reception room. When
one of the curtains was raised the plate was automatically exposed and
the raising of the curtain at the same time let enough light into the
room to take an excellent picture.

With these arrangements completed, Mary began a tour of the cafe
building. She found Druce eager to serve her. By him she was guided to
every part of the place, meeting the people she wanted to know and
learning all of the details of the infamous business in which Druce,
Anson and Boland were jointly embarked. For three days she went about
these tours of inspection undisturbed. In the evenings she had the women
habitues of the place in her rooms, talking to them as if she were one of
their own kind and learning from them the squalid stories of their
downfall and the part Druce and Anson had played in it. Anna was not in
sight during any of these interviews. She was seated at the little table
with the dictagraph at her ear, her fountain pen in her hand and her
stenographer's notebook before her. Nothing that was said escaped her.

Meanwhile Druce was having an unpleasant time with Anson. He had tried at
first to keep from him the fact of Miss Masters' residence in their
"hotel." "The mastiff," however, was not long deceived. When he
confronted Druce with what he had learned, Druce with an assumption of
frankness told him of his interview with Miss Masters and attempted to
reassure him.

Anson, however, was by nature suspicious. "I don't like it," he snarled.
"You've let a spy into the house."

Druce tried at first to argue with him. Then he grew angry. Finally he
turned on his partner.

"You mind your own business," he advised him, white with rage. "I'll
manage this thing. The girl's mine. I'm going to have her. Keep away from
her. By God, if you interfere with my schemes I'll kill you."

Anson was not terrified by this threat. He knew that in any physical
encounter he was more than a match for the slender Druce. But he feared
to quarrel with his partner. He was too appreciative of Druce's value to
him and their enterprise to want to lose him. He growled a smothered
string of curses, but Druce had his way.

Druce had become so much infatuated with Miss Masters that he had thrown
caution to the winds. Never before in his life had he been under the
influence of any woman. Now that such an influence had seized him he was
overwhelmed by it. He had arrived perilously close to the point where, if
he had known the true character of the woman he was sheltering, his
infatuation would have led him to risk the danger merely to have her near
him. His thoughts were on her constantly, his mind busy during every
waking hour on schemes for, entrapping her.

Mary had taken up her abode in the Cafe Sinister on Monday. On Thursday
she sent for Druce. He came to her suite eagerly.

He found Miss Masters sitting at the table in the reception room. He sat
down opposite her and facing the window at her invitation.

"Druce," said the girl, "I've sent for you because I want to close that
deal for the girls I spoke to you about."

"The girls you're going to take back to St. Louis?"

"Yes, I'll want five or six."

"You've been looking over my stock?" said Druce with a leer.

"Yes," replied Miss Masters, concealing her repulsion.

"Well, I guess we can come to terms. Who do you want?"

"I only care for four of the girls I have seen," replied Miss Masters. "I
want that little girl, Maida, the blonde girl you call Luella, Clara, and
that young brunette, Esther."

"Gee," said Druce, "you don't want much, do you? Why those are the
youngest and prettiest girls we've got in the place. That Luella has only
been in the district three weeks. All the rest of them are new ones."

"I know it. That's why I want them."

"They'll cost you money."

"I expect to pay money for them."

"I want $200 apiece for those four girls." The price was high. Druce
thought Miss Masters would reject it.

"Very well," returned Miss Masters. "That will be $800."

"You're willing to pay it?"

"Yes. I'm going to spend $1,000 with you."

"Four ain't enough?"

"No, I'm going to take two more, if I can get them. You say you expect to
have these Welcome sisters?"

"Sure, I'll have them."

"Well, you told me you didn't want to run the risk of keeping them around
Chicago. I'll take them off your hands."

"You expect to get them for $200?"

"Certainly. You don't know yet that you can deliver. Has the one you
married come back?"

"Oh, I'll deliver."

"I'm not as sure of that as you are, but I'm willing to speculate on it.
I'll make you this proposition. I'll write you a check for $1,000 and
take my chance on you delivering the six girls I name."

"No checks go," said Druce.

"You'll have to take a check if you do business with me."

Druce considered. He wanted the $1,000. He did not want to quarrel with
Miss Masters. He capitulated.

"Write the check," he said.

Miss Masters took a check-book from a drawer and drew a check, payable to
Druce. She handed it to him. He looked at the paper doubtfully.

"I'll have to indorse that," he said.

Miss Masters laughed.

"Certainly," she said, "you'll have to indorse it unless you want to keep
it as a souvenir." She smiled at him. "Druce," she said, "you'll never
get along in this business if you're a coward."

"It's direct evidence against me."

"You don't trust me?"

"All right, girlie. I'll trust you." He folded the check and put it in
his pocket.

"Now, we'll have to have a bit of writing."

"No writing for mine," retorted Druce. "This check is plenty."

"Oh, Mr. Druce," Miss Masters spoke appealingly. "You don't think that's
fair, do you? You've got my check."

"I guess it's you that's not trusting me now," said Druce.

"But you admit yourself that you may not deliver."

"No I don't. I will deliver."

"But this isn't business."

"It's the way we do this kind of business in Chi."

Miss Masters got up from the table, as if exasperated.

"Look here, Mr. Druce," she said. "How can signing an agreement covering
this sale hurt you? Oh, what a lot of cowards you 'live stock dealers'
are! Can't you see that if you sign this agreement with me I'm
incriminated as well as you are? The Mann act gets the buyer as well as
the seller."

"Well, what's the agreement?"

"It says simply this: 'In consideration of $1,000 I agree to deliver two
days from date the following girls'--I'll write in their names--'to Miss
Masters.'"

"You're not trying to put anything over?"

"Did it ever strike you that by selling these girls to me you'd have John
Boland where you wanted him?"

"Boland?"

"I'm his agent."

"All right." Druce snatched up the paper and read it. "Write in the
names." Miss Masters wrote the names of six girls into the document. She
handed it back to Druce and picked up a pen.

"Just a moment," she said, giving him the pen. "It's dark here. I'll
raise the curtain."

She stepped quickly across the room and adjusted the curtain so that the
sunlight fell full across Druce as he signed his name to the agreement.
As he finished the last stroke he heard a faint "click."

"What was that?" he demanded anxiously.

"The curtain caught on the window latch," replied Miss Masters. She
picked up the agreement and blotted the signature. "Thank you," she said,
"now I've got something for my $1,000."

Druce laughed uneasily. The maid, Anna, entered from an adjoining
apartment. Druce realized uncomfortably that the interview was over.

"Well," he said, going to the door and smiling sentimentally at Miss
Masters, "so long. See you later."

"Yes," replied Miss Masters in a tone he didn't just like, "I'll see you
later."



                               CHAPTER XXI

                       DRUCE PROVES A TRUE PROPHET


Saturday night begins at the Cafe Sinister at nine o'clock. At that hour
the twin columns of glass at its portal are lighted and the Levee pours
the first of its revelers into the spacious ground floor drinking room.
The orchestra strikes up the first of its syncopated melodies; the
barkeepers arrange their polished glasses in glittering rows; the
waiters, soft-footed and watchful, take their places at their appointed
stations.

The revelers come in an order regulated by inexorable circumstance. In
the van are the women with the professional escorts, haggard creatures
who have served their time in the district and who are on the brink of
that oblivion which means starvation and slow death. Youth and health
have flown and now no paint nor cosmetic can cloak their real character.
They must come early because their need of money is bitter and a watchful
eye for opportunity must take the place of the physical allurement that
once made life in the tenderloin so easy. They sink into their seats and
wait, contemptuous of their escorts, and yet pitifully dependent upon
them. For without the escorts they cannot enter the Cafe Sinister. That
is a tribute which the rulers of the tenderloin, through them, pays
tribute to the majesty of the law.

A group of hardened rounders follows. These are men to whom the Cafe
Sinister and the district have become a habit. They bring with them women
of their own kind--women who, through years of dissipation, have still,
like misers, managed to hoard some trace of bloom. They drink deeply, for
the men are spenders. The wine flows free and the talk grows loud.
Occasionally a man quarrels profanely with his companion and a
soft-footed waiter with a thug's face whispers him to sullen silence.

An hour flies by. Now the Levee, roused from its sodden, day-long
slumber, is wide awake. The way between the twin pillars at the Cafe
Sinister's entrance is choked with the flood of merry-makers. These
newcomers are not so easy to classify as their predecessors. They are the
crowd from the street,--the thief with his girl pal, eager to spend the
plunder of their last successful exploit; the big corporation's
entertainer, out to show a party of country customers the sights of a
great city; the visitor from afar, lonely and seeking excitement; the man
about town, the respectable woman who with a trusted male confidant seeks
shady and clandestine amusement; college students with unspoiled
appetites off for a lark; women of the district still new enough to the
life of vice to find pleasure in its excitements; periodical drinkers out
for a night of it; clerks, cashiers, bookkeepers, schoolboys and roués.

And here and there, weaving in and out through this heterogeneous mob
lurks the pander seeking for his prey--the ignorant young girl, trembling
on the verge of her first step into the depths, the little lost sister of
tomorrow.

By ten o'clock the merry making in the Cafe Sinister had attained the
vociferousness of a riot. As the swift-footed waiters passed more and
more liquor about, the voices of the speakers rose higher and higher. At
last the orchestra itself could scarcely be heard. The singers, half
maudlin themselves, and knowing they could not be heard above the
universal din, abandoned harmony and resorted to shouts and suggestive
gyrations. A woman fell helplessly into the arms of her escort who,
gloating, winked knowingly at a male companion. Another drunkenly
attempted to dance and was restrained by the waiters. An elderly
reprobate, convoying two unsteady young girls, importuned Druce for one
of his private dining rooms.

Druce and Anson watched over the revelers and directed the entertainers.
"The Mastiff," comfortably full of his favorite liquor, whisky, glowered
on the crowd with as near an aspect of good nature as he was able to
muster. Druce, who knew his own success in business was due to alertness
of mind and who was almost an ascetic in the matter of drink, was no less
at peace with the world.

"Money in that crowd," rumbled the huge Anson.

"Yes," replied Druce, "business is mighty good."

"How about our lease?"

"The blow-off comes tonight."

"You're sure of your plans?"

"I am, if young Boland shows up."

"Well, he'll be here?"

"Yes, I wrote him an anonymous letter telling him if he wanted to see his
girl, he could find her singing at the Cafe Sinister."

"That ought to fetch him. How about the old man?"

"He sent me word today that he'd be here and that he'd dropped hints to
the son he'd heard some bad stuff about the girl."

"You haven't talked to him?"

"No; I got my orders. I stayed away."

"How about the Welcome kid you married?"

"She's down and out. I sent one of our cappers early in the week to look
her up. Somebody'd slipped her a lone five dollar bill. She woke up
yesterday morning broke. I don't know where she's eating, but I've sent
word through the district to keep her hungry. She'll be in tonight."

Druce spoke with indifference, but the truth was that he was not at all
sure that Elsie Welcome would return. He had begun to respect the girl's
strength of character. He had scarcely finished his sentence when he gave
a gasp of relief.

"Ah-h!" he muttered.

"What's that?" demanded Anson.

"Here she comes now."

As they looked down through the drinking room they saw the slender figure
of a girl approaching. She came slowly, supporting her wavering steps
with the backs of the revelers' chairs. Her face was pale and desperately
haggard. Several of the men as she passed clutched at her skirts and
shouted invitations at her. She tore herself away from them and made
straight for the place where Druce and Anson were standing. For a moment,
Druce almost felt sorry for her.

"You're back, kid?" he said softly.

"Yes," replied the girl, fiercely.

"You're going to be good?"

Elsie burst out sobbing. It was her last struggle.

"Come now, Elsie," Druce spoke almost tenderly. "Don't snivel."

"Martin," the girl gasped appealingly. "O, my God! Be kind to me."

"Don't worry about me, girlie. You forget that Sunday school stuff and
you'll get along with me fine. You're hungry, aren't you, kid?"

"I'm starving," replied the girl.

"Come with me. I'll have the chef get you a big feed. After that I want
you to come back and do what I tell you. I won't be hard on you, kid.
You'll not have to work tonight. All I'll want you to do is sit up on the
stand with my other entertainers."

Elsie was too broken in spirit to reply. She followed her master dumbly.
He led her to one of his small private dining rooms, arranged a seat for
her and turned on the lights. Then he went back to the kitchen to order
the girl's meal.

After Druce had left, Elsie folded her arms on the table and cushioning
her head on them, began to weep softly. Druce returned with the food,
kissed her to take the sting from the feed, which both he and she knew
was the price of her shame, and left her. The girl ate ravenously.
Afterward she fell into an uneasy slumber against the cushions of the
booth.

She was awakened by someone entering the room. Looking up, she saw the
bowed figure and gray hair of an elderly woman. The intruder carried a
bucket of hot water in one hand and a mop in the other. She had come into
the booth thinking it unoccupied, and did not see Elsie until she was
very close to her.

"I beg your pardon," she said, dropping her mop and bucket and starting
back.

Elsie stared at her. Then she stood up, her face pale as death, her eyes
starting like the eyes of one who has seen a vision.

"Mother!" she screamed. "Oh, God! Mother!" and flung herself into her
mother's arms.



                              CHAPTER XXII

                         "THE MILLS OF THE GODS"


After Druce left Elsie he went back to his favorite station behind the
musicians' stand. He had been there only a moment when he saw the elder
Boland enter. Boland came in quietly through a side door and stood
looking about inquiringly.

Druce silently summoned a waiter and sent him to Boland with a message. A
little later the two men were in Druce's private office alone and the
door was closed. They sat down at a table.

"Well," said Druce, "I see you're on time."

"Yes," replied Boland coldly. "I make it a point to keep my engagements.
Your arrangements are complete, I suppose. I haven't heard a word from
you all week."

There was a petulance in his tone the reason for which Druce did not
comprehend.

"It's going to work out all right. One of the Welcome girls is here now.
I'm expecting the other." He pushed an electric button. A waiter
appeared.

"Go out and ask the professor if that new entertainer I'm expecting has
arrived," he ordered.

The waiter was gone but a few seconds.

"She's come," he reported. "She's up on the stand and will go on right
after the intermission."

"That's her," said Druce to Boland. The waiter vanished.

"Good," said Boland. "Druce," he went on, "I'm pleased with the way
you've handled this. Here's something to prove it." He took a document
from his breast pocket and passed it across the table. It was the lease.

"Thanks," said Druce, keenly pleased by an inspection of the papers,
"that looks good to me."

"It's yours," returned Boland, "but of course I expect you to carry out
your part of the contract."

"How about Harry?"

"No need to worry about that. He'll be here."

"Well, we're waiting on him."

There was a pause. Neither man seemed to know how to continue the
conversation. Druce broke the silence.

"Boland," he asked, "what have you got against this girl?"

Boland resented the question, but was compelled to answer.

"She wants to marry my son. I don't think she's fit to marry him. If she
were, she wouldn't be in a place like this."

Druce laughed unpleasantly.

"You know very well," he replied, "that she wouldn't be here if I hadn't
managed it for you."

Boland made no reply for this. Druce went on.

"Tell me," he demanded, "on the square, now, is that all you've got
against this girl?"

"Just what do you mean by that, Druce?" demanded Boland, eying him
calmly.

"Didn't you know the Welcomes before this girl came into your son's
life?"

Boland turned very pale.

"That's an idiotic question," he answered. "How would a man in my
position know people like the Welcomes?"

"When I was in Millville," replied Druce evenly, "I heard a good deal
about old Tom Welcome. It seems that someone stole an invention from
him."

"Just why should I be interested in that story?"

"I don't know," replied Druce. "It just struck me that you might be.
There was no harm in asking, was there?"

Boland ignored the question.

"Look here," he said, changing the subject, "suppose you get this lease
from me, are you sure you can continue doing business as you are without
police interference?"

Druce laughed and picked up the receiver of the telephone which stood on
the table. There was an attachment that enabled Boland to hear at the
same time. He handed the second receiver to the master of the Electric
Trust.

"What's the idea?" inquired Boland.

"I'm just going to answer your question."

He called for a number.

"That's police station R," said Boland.

"I know," replied Druce, "just listen."

"Hello," he said presently, "is this you, Cap?"

Boland heard a familiar voice answer affirmatively.

"This is Druce talking," the dive-owner went on, "Druce of the Cafe
Sinister. Say, we'll be open all night tonight. Don't make any trouble
for us, you understand. Just let your fellows know that they're not to
hear anything that goes on in this beat. I'll send McEdwards around in
the morning with a special envelope for you. Get me?"

Druce cut off the two telephones.

"Well," he asked triumphantly, "what do you think of that?"

Boland laughed cynically.

"Rather good," he answered. "I know your friend, the captain. The fact
is, I know him rather well. We belong to the same church." He chuckled
over his own joke. "However," he went on, "I didn't come here to be
entertained, nor to be initiated into the mysteries of the police
department. Let's get down to business. I've got to get out of town
tonight. I'm going to 'Frisco."

"To 'Frisco?"

"Yes, I'm in a mess. Mary Randall--"

"Randall! Boland, don't tell me you're scared of that woman, too."

"Man alive, haven't you heard? She got into my office in disguise and
stole a lot of my papers. I don't know just yet what she's got, but I've
decided to hunt seclusion for a while."

"She was disguised?"

"Yes, she came into my office as private secretary. I trusted her
implicitly. You'll remember her. She gave the name of Miss Masters."

Druce stood up with an exclamation. His face had gone white and he
clutched at the table for support. Boland stared at him in astonishment.

"What's hit you?" he demanded.

Druce made no reply. Through his mind was passing the panorama of how he
had delivered himself bound hand and foot to the girl he thought he was
entrapping. Suddenly, he turned and dashed in a frenzy out of the room.
He was bound, with murder in his heart, for Miss Masters' suite.

As he came tearing out of the office he found himself suddenly seized and
halted.

"Let me go," screamed Druce, "damn you, let me go."

He fought to release himself, but vainly. He looked up into the face of
Harry Boland.

"What's your hurry?" inquired young Boland coolly. "Don't be in a rush. I
want to ask you a few questions."

He produced a letter from his pocket. Druce recognized it at a glance as
the anonymous note he had written to lure young Boland to the cafe.

"Did you write that?" demanded Boland.

Druce struggled in a frenzy.

"To hell with you and your questions," he yelled. "Let me by or I'll kill
you."

He grappled with Boland and the two men wrestled out to the edge of the
big drinking room.

"You wrote it," Boland hissed in his ear.

"It's a lie. I'm going to give you the beating of your life."

The elder Boland, who had followed Druce, fell upon his son. Harry turned
and recognized his father.

"You here?" he demanded, facing his parent.

"Yes," replied John Boland, "I'm here. I came, because I had been
informed that you were to meet a woman of the tenderloin in this place;
and when I find you, I find you fighting with a dive-keeper."

Harry dropped the struggling Druce and turned on his father.

"What do you mean?" he asked, defiantly.

"I mean just that," replied John Boland. He turned toward the musicians'
stand and pointed dramatically at Patience Welcome, who, her face almost
as pale as her white lace gown, was advancing toward the front of the
platform to sing.

Harry Boland's face went white as hers.

The words he gasped were drowned by a cry, Elsie Welcome, coming for the
first time since her return to Druce into the drinking room, saw her
sister standing upon the rostrum, poised to sing.

"Patience! Patience!" she screamed in a voice of despair. "Oh, my sister,
what brought you to this place?"

She fell to the floor fainting. The whole cafe was in an uproar.

Carter Anson, roused to fury by the disturbance, fought his way through
the crowd to the place where he had seen her fall.

Druce, escaped from Harry Boland, struggled from another angle to make
his way through the mob. As if by magic half a score of policemen
suddenly hemmed in the fighting mass. Druce, struggling blindly to make a
pathway for himself, suddenly looked up to see Mary Randall standing on a
table on the opposite side of the room directing the police. A wave of
maniacal anger overwhelmed him. In a flash his hand went to his pocket
and reappeared with a pistol.

There was an explosion, a man's yell of rage, followed by a choking gulp
of mortal anguish. Druce was seized and flung to the floor.

At the same moment Mary Randall, leaping down from her table, ran to the
center of the room. Carter Anson lay there, struggling through his last
throes,--the bullet in his brain.



                              CHAPTER XXIII

                            AFTER THE TRAGEDY


Mary Randall stood beside the dead body of Carter Anson. Such tragedy had
not entered into her plans, nor had she conceived what it might be to see
a man die bearing the bullet intended for her own intrepid heart. A
strange numbness possessed her faculties.

She heard the voice of Mrs. Welcome beside her. The mother was speaking
with anguished entreaty to Elsie. The girl had risen to her feet and was
gazing with a dreadful fascination at Druce, writhing in the grasp of the
officers who seized him.

"Come, Miss Randall," one of her police aids said to the reformer. "This
is no place for you--now."

"There must be something I can do," she spoke with a flash of her usual
energy, then laid her hand on Mrs. Welcome's arm.

"Harvey Spencer is here," she said. "There he is trying to get through
the crowd to us now. Perhaps he can help you to persuade your daughter to
go away with you."

Elsie Welcome looked at Mary Randall, who was destined never to forget
the pitiful revelation of the girl's dark eyes. Mary Randall read that
despair of the lost mingled with woman's intense clinging to the man she
has chosen,--her strange stubborn clinging, when, entangled, she hears an
echo of happier and purer love.

"How dare you meddle in people's affairs like this and put us into such
dreadful trouble?" Elsie asked of the one who would help her. Then to her
mother, pulling away from her longing clasp, "You understand that at a
time like this my place is with my husband."

Elsie doubled under the arms which would have detained her and ran out of
the cafe.

"Go to Millville, Mrs. Welcome, back to your old home, as soon you can.
Let me look after Elsie. Go to this boarding-house (handing her a card).
Go there with Patience tonight, and I will send you some money tomorrow."
Miss Randall spoke quickly, and before Mrs. Welcome realized it, had
hurried in pursuit of Elsie.

But Elsie Welcome had disappeared.

Mary Randall found herself standing, as all who work for those who sin
and suffer must often stand, baffled by evil's resistance. Saddened by
somewhat of a divine sadness, Mary went across to the rendezvous where
her faithful Anna awaited her and left the field.

Harvey Spencer came to her downtown office early next day. He found her
surrounded by her strongest allies, already in conference as to the best
means of pursuing their crusade which had aroused Chicago with the
startling news of The Raid of Mary Randall on the Cafe Sinister,
headlined in the morning newspapers.

Harvey Spencer had taken Mrs. Welcome to the boarding-house designated by
Miss Randall where she was joined by Patience--and of Patience you shall
know presently. The remainder of the night, or most of it, he spent
trying to learn what had become of Elsie.

"I thought she might be still in that--hotel, as they call it," Harvey,
haggard with his night's search, told Miss Randall. "I went to the jail
too, but of course they would not let her inside there so late, even if
she had wanted to."

"She is sure to go there today to see Druce. Try again, Mr. Spencer, when
you go out from here," said Miss Randall.

"And keep you eye on Druce. Nobody will suspect you of being a detective.
You can telephone here if you see any activity around him," said a clever
special from headquarters.

"Good scheme," commended the journalist, another of Mary Randall's
strongest aids.

Harvey Spencer made notes of the right steps to take and, thanking Miss
Randall with a curious humility, went out again on his quest.

"Now we must learn what the vice-moneymakers will try to do next," said a
former high official in the municipality. "Our one safe bet is that they
will all get together and that John Boland, the boss of the bunch, will
map out the fight against us."

"Is it a losing fight?" asked a famous banker, known among his intimates
as the hard-headed enthusiast.

"Right against wrong can never be permanently a losing fight," quietly
said a small muscular clergyman from the northwest side.

"It has taken two thousand years for mankind to begin this fight against
buying and selling young virgins who can be coaxed or thrust into the
market-place," said Mary Randall. "We must fight on, even in one
seemingly losing field. It is not to be believed that the people of this
nation will be content to submit very much longer to the presence of a
band of prowling wolves tolerated by courts and protected by rascally
lawyers whose acknowledged trade is to destroy virtue,--the latent
motherhood of young women,--whose whole activity is directed to the
exploitation of our little lost sisters."

"Chicago has to lead the fight, as she has been one of the leaders in the
trade," said the banker. "Now, for our next step!"



                              CHAPTER XXIV

                      "THE HIGHWAY OF THE UPRIGHT"


Up to the moment when he heard the report of Druce's pistol and saw
Carter Anson fall, Harry Boland's whole being had been concentrated in a
consuming horror at sight of Patience Welcome in the Cafe Sinister.

The crack of the pistol restored his composure. He saw clearly the infamy
of the plot against her,--and against himself. One of the conspirators
was already dead on the scene of this last of many crimes. Druce was
struggling with the police, taking him for murder of Anson, his partner.

John Boland, the third conspirator, faced his son in a desperate
composure.

"Come, Harry, we must get out of here. It will never do to be seen
here--"

"For you!" Harry shook off his father's hand upon his arm. "Go, by all
means! I shall take care of myself." He walked towards the singers'
platform beyond the seething crowd.

John Boland believed of himself afterwards that he would have followed
Harry, but at the moment he saw a bowed and gray-haired woman before him,
great fear and horror on her face, pressing her way in from scrubbing in
the booths beyond. The mop and bucket with which she had been working
were in either hand. At sight of his face she dropped her tools of toil
and clutched his coat. It was Tom Welcome's widow.

He uttered a cry like a beast of prey as he shook her off; but he felt
himself shiver, conscience making him a coward, and he hurried out,
reaching by an exit the alley leading to a side street.

A police lieutenant suddenly barred his way.

"Not so fast there," said the functionary.

Boland recognized the man as an officer whom he had once placed under
obligation to him.

"Good evening, Murphy."

"Mr. Boland!"

"Yes. I was passing and heard the shot. You understand, of course, that I
wish to avoid being seen here. Do you know where I can find a taxi?"

The policeman turned and summoned a taxicab with a gesture. Boland got in
at the open door. He leaned forward and spoke with peculiar force,
although very low:

"If my son, Harry Boland, happens to pass by here, see that he gets into
a taxi whose driver will bring him to my house, to my house, remember, no
matter what address he gives."

"I understand, sir." Probably the young man's been misbehaving, was what
he thought.

"Pay the driver--in advance--with this, or part of it," continued Mr.
Boland.

"Thank you, sir; thank you. I understand."

Boland's car scuttled away into the darkness.

Harry Boland, pushing through the crowd to Patience, saw the futile
effort of Mrs. Welcome to take Elsie from the place. He heard Mary
Randall's brief direction and spoke reassuringly to the anguished mother
as he pressed a friendly hand on her slight shoulder.

"I will see that Spencer takes you to that boarding-house, where you will
be comfortable until you can get away. I will bring Patience. We may get
there before you arrive."

As John Boland foresaw, it was but a few moments after his own departure
before Harry Boland reached the street looking for a conveyance. He was
assisting Patience Welcome. Rather, she was clinging to him, sobbing like
a frightened child. The shooting that had interrupted her pathetic
attempt to sing was only part of the tragedy to her.

"I--I saw my little sister in there," she sobbed. "She called me by name.
And such a pathetic cry. Did you hear it?" Patience was sadly unnerved
and ill.

"Hush, dear one," Harry soothed her. "Your mother, Harvey and Miss
Randall are there, you know. Whatever can be done, they will do. You are
my one and only care, and just now, dearest girl, you're ill. I'll take
you to the place where your mother is going. Now, please stop crying;
try--try--everything will be all right."

A taxicab appeared, the chauffeur seemingly having anticipated that he
was wanted. Harry got in, half carrying Patience, and expecting to be
stopped by an officer. But no policeman seemed to see or hear him as he
gave the driver the address of the old-fashioned boarding-house selected
by Mary Randall.

They rode in silence. Patience sat apart from him, breathing deeply of
the fresh air at the window of the car as they rushed swiftly through the
city streets. Slowly he felt the tension of the situation released. It
was as if the dazed girl were freed from the physical mesh which had been
thrown about her.

Then she spoke quite calmly, in her natural voice, but very slowly:

"Harry, I once dreamed that I was in terrible trouble and that you came
and helped me. Are you sure I am not dreaming now?"

"Is it a happy dream, if you are, my darling?"

"I--I don't know," faltered Patience. "It is wonderful to be here
with--you."

"Do you trust me, Patience? Do you trust me when I tell you that I care
more for you than I ever knew I could care for anybody?"

"Yes," she whispered.

"I want to make you happy. I want to love you and work for you and have
you for my wife, and make a home with you."

"Harry!" She slipped her hand into his.

"Harry, I still feel afraid. It was such a dreadful thing to see. Was
that man killed? It was he who asked me to sing. They had been
disappointed about getting a singer, he said, and he gave me ten dollars.
All that money for a few songs--it seemed like stealing. But I took it.
Mother helped put on this dress they gave me to sing in. You know I went
there to help mother clean the place. And to think we saw a murder!"

"My poor darling!" Something in his voice caused her to put her hand up
to his face. He felt her finger tips on his eyelids, then down his wet
cheeks.

"My poor darling!" She put her arm around his neck--then their trembling
lips met.

Harry was the first to speak. "All that you have gone through brings us
closer together than anything else in life possibly could, Patience. I am
so proud of you and so down on myself that I ever let you out of my
sight--"

"You must not be down on my--"

"Say it, dear! I want to hear my sweetheart say the word."

"I was going to say 'my dearest,' but I'll say,--if you want me
to,--my--my husband."

"You dear, sweet wife!" responded Harry.

After a few moments Harry observed that they were being taken farther
than he had directed the man to go. The boarding-house was rather close
to town. He found that they were well on the north side, nearing the
quarter of his father's house. He called to stop the driver, but the man
remained deaf to his efforts, except to increase the speed, and presently
drew up at the Boland mansion.

"How dare you bring me here?" Harry demanded, stepping out of the car to
remonstrate.

"Orders."

"Orders! I ordered you where I wanted you to go. Here, if you need two
fares for one job, you swindler! Hold on--"

"Driver! Come here."

Harry heard his father's stern voice from the opened doorway. "Driver!
Take that girl wherever she wants to go. Harry, come in here! It's time
for a show-down."

"It certainly is time for a show-down!" Harry assisted Patience from the
car. "You may wait and earn the fare I just paid you or go to jail," he
said to the driver, and boldly led Patience into his father's house.

The elder Boland turned into a den at the right of the front hallway and
closed the door. He looked at Patience with an appraising glance, then
kindly at his son.

"I suppose you must be humored in this affair," he said in an indulgent
manner, "while you haven't sense to see that the present is scarcely the
time to devote yourself to any such young woman. What do you say to a
trip to California? I'll foot all the bills, and later I will settle what
you ask for on you." He spoke to Patience.

"Thank you." She spoke without a tremor. "You may do something
substantial for my mother, because you--took--my poor father's invention.
Do you know, sir, that my poor father never recovered from that loss?"

"Hell's fire!" yelled John Boland, "I--"

"You see, sir," interrupted Harry deliberately, "it really is time for a
show-down. I wouldn't go away from Chicago at present, even for the
wedding journey which we will pretend you were honestly offering us. I am
going to stay and fight it out. You will have to stay and fight it out,
too."

"Me?" blustered Boland. "What have I got to fight out?"

"You know very well why you were at Druce's cafe tonight. You were in a
plot against me, leagued with that fellow, Druce, and his tribe, too,
against the crusade started by Mary Randall to protect girls. You prefer
to make money exploiting them. Not directly, perhaps, but conspicuously
indirect."

"So you are turning traitor in--politics?" sneered his father. "Taking
sides with a crazy fanatic, whose presence at the cafe caused the death
of a good citizen of Chicago. Druce did not mean to shoot Anson."

"I see your line of defense. It's you who have turned traitor--to all
that is right in you as a man. See, here is the anonymous letter which
summoned me to the cafe tonight. I wish you could tell me that you do not
know who wrote that note."

Boland read the letter scornfully. "How should I know who writes you
letters? Young men who make alliances with women who frequent such places
must expect such messages," he sneered.

"Stop!" Harry's eyes blazed with anger. "We have borne all that we shall
of that sort from you. One more such syllable and I shall not be able to
speak to you as to my father--even in outward respect."

"You seem already to have forgotten that completely."

Harry let the sneer pass. "It is up to you, sir, to decide now--this
moment--whether or not I ever look upon you as my father again. I have
myself decided that I shall no longer be a party to your crimes."

"Crimes! My God, this is too much!"

"You are too shrewd a man to have a fool for a son. I see plainly that
you were leagued with Druce and Anson to blacken the woman I love. But
right is might and love is right. The whole dastardly affair enlightens
me as to the nature of your alliance with that dive. Why did you renew
the lease to Druce against my protest? I never realized until tonight the
horror of your extensive holdings of tenderloin property. I don't want
another cent from such sources."

"Very well." The elder Boland shook with anger. "Get out of this house,
you and your--fitting mate. Never let me see your face again. Tomorrow I
will undertake a campaign which will brand you among your friends as a
son who turned traitor to his father in his hour of stress. All my power,
all my money, will be against you. I will crush you as I have every man
who has dared oppose me. Get out of my house!"

Harry gazed at his father in a tumult of pity and wrath, but he did not
speak.

Patience, her eyes filled with tears, her hands nervously clutching her
'kerchief, walked up to the angry man.

"I am sorry for you," she said, "just as I always used to be sorry for my
poor father when he was drunk as you are now with your own anger. You
know that I _am_ a fitting mate for your son. I don't understand your
enmity unless it's because we're not rich like you."

Harry caught Patience in his arms. "Remember, it makes no difference to
me what my father says. I'm a man and able to choose my own wife." He
looked at his father. "We are going now," he said firmly.

There was no reply.

The door closed behind his son. John Boland staggered to a couch and
falling down beside it buried his face in his arms.



                               CHAPTER XXV

                    THE INTERESTS VERSUS MARY RANDALL


If John Boland was shaken by the interview with his son, there was no
evidence of it in his bearing when he appeared at the offices of the
Electric Trust the following morning. As he took his accustomed place at
his desk he looked tired, but he wore what La Salle street knew as his
fighting face.

Boland had scarcely established himself for the day when he discovered
that his decision to remain in Chicago had been anticipated by those who
knew him well in affairs. A dozen messages were waiting for him. The
forces opposed to Mary Randall and her reforms looked to him for
leadership.

As soon as the details of the raid on the Cafe Sinister had become
definitely known, there had been a quick general movement on the part of
the leaders of the Levee to get together. They met in secret places to
deplore the taking off of Anson, to form alliances against their common
enemy. From these meetings went appeals for protection to the forces
higher up.

Aid was invoked of the great financial interests involved, directly and
indirectly, in the traffic in souls. Political overlords of the city sent
word that the protection demanded should not be wanting. Within twelve
hours they had effected an organization whose ramifications extended into
wholly unexpected places. Then, having formed the machine, they turned
with one accord to John Boland to guide it.

His acceptance of this leadership was unavoidable, even if he had wished
to avoid it. To reject it would have been treason to the forces which had
fought side by side with him in many a former and desperate campaign. To
give Boland credit, his courage was equal to the task he had no wish to
avoid. He knew the situation was dangerous, but he was a fighter born.

Having made up his mind to give battle, Boland addressed himself to the
task of outlining his campaign. He was too shrewd, too thoroughly
familiar with all the elements making up Chicago, to underestimate his
enemy. He knew that Mary Randall was appealing passionately to a public
morality which hated the vice system with a wholehearted hatred. He knew,
too, that when the light of truth fell upon his followers they would
scurry to shelter. His first step was to exclude from his offices every
employe of whose loyalty he could not be completely certain. He had his
bitter lesson on that score, certainly, he told himself.

By telephone and by private messenger he proceeded to summon his chief
allies to a conference. These men arrived within an hour. One was a
United States Senator, two were bankers of impeccable reputation. One was
a political boss whose authority was a by-word in one of the great
parties, another a philanthropist whose spectacular gratuities to public
institutions came from huge dividends made for him by underpaid employes,
and with him a clergyman managed by this philanthropist and the bankers
and a newspaper publisher whose little soul had been often bought and
sold, so that certain of his profession were wont to say one could see
thumb-marks of Mammon on him as he passed by.

Boland did not invite Grogan to this meeting. He intended at first to ask
him, but his friend had shown too much sympathy of late with sentiment in
life.

John Boland's council of war was in session for five hours. Every phase
of the situation was taken up and discussed with thoroughness
characteristic of these leaders of men, with thoroughness, too, that
showed full familiarity with all the conditions of commercialized vice in
Chicago. The evasions and bombast wherewith these citizens were
accustomed to adorn their public addresses before vice commission
inquiries were strangely lacking. They spoke among themselves plainly and
without pretenses.

Towards the close of this conference John Boland offered his plan of
action:

"Gentlemen," he addressed the others from the head of his directors'
table in his inner office. "We all agree that what we have most to fear
is publicity. In fact, if these reformers had no publicity they would be
without weapons. As you are aware, the extent to which we can control the
newspapers is limited. If news comes to them in the regular way they are
bound to print it, so if we are to avoid disastrous publicity we must
stop it at its source.

"At this moment the 'news' of the situation centers about Druce and those
of his employes who are now in jail. We can't prevent his being indicted,
we can't prevent his case coming to trial, if we allow him to remain in
jail.

"My friends, I need not tell you that such a trial would fill the
newspapers with what they call 'exposures' of vice conditions that would
be calamitous. You all agree with me that vice is a terrible thing. We
know--none better, as our discussions have indicated--how great this evil
is in our city. But there is something more menacing than vice,--namely,
an ill-controlled and hysterical anti-vice crusade, rushing on and
intoxicating itself with its own sensations, and shaking the business
fabric of the city.

"Think of the want that will come to the poor in Chicago if confidence in
our leading business men should be seriously shaken! It is our duty as
pillars--if I may say so--of Chicago's financial structure to avoid, to
prevent, public trials of vice cases.

"How are we to go about suppressing the excitement of a trial of Martin
Druce? Various expedients suggest themselves to us all. Is not the most
feasible to have Druce released on bail?"

"Yes, to any amount!" called two voices.

"I believe the matter can be arranged," replied John Boland, graciously.
"Indeed, I have taken the liberty to discuss that phase of the situation
with Judge Grundell. He is of opinion that Druce can be freed. My own
attorneys have given the subject some consideration also. As I understand
it, Druce is booked for murder--"

"Is murder a bailable offense in Chicago?"

"Ordinarily, no. But in this case it can be shown that there were
extenuating circumstances. We can make a showing of facts to demonstrate
that the killing of Carter Anson was purely accidental."

"Druce was only trying to shoot Mary Randall, as I heard it," said a grim
voice.

"H'm! Suppose we say instead that Druce thought some one was creating a
disturbance in his place of business, became excited and fired. The
bullet hit Anson. Our opponents are not expecting, probably, any move by
us towards the release of Druce on bail. It is unlikely that they will
resist the application. In any event, I have already taken up the matter
with the judge.

"With Druce freed and resting in safe seclusion, I consider it advisable
to place him in possession of facilities that will enable him to remain
at liberty for an indefinite period--until this excitement has blown
over, you understand."

"We can send him out to China on business," said one.

"Exactly. My attorney has a young man who will see that he is rightly
started on his journey, avoiding all publicity. The cases of his employes
will come on for trial; but with Druce out of the way, it will be
extremely difficult for our opponents to obtain any convictions. Thus
this whole sensation will fall flat and the reform crusaders will find
themselves discredited before the public."

Applause welcomed John Boland's summing up of the situation and his
formulation of a practical plan. Members of the conference rose smiling
cheerfully, shook hands all around and made it plain that each was ready
to pay, pay, pay. The door had not closed behind them before John Boland
set in motion the machinery which was to set Martin Druce free.



                              CHAPTER XXVI

                               OUT ON BAIL


When Martin Druce heard the news that bail had been raised for his
release and that all arrangements were being made for his flight and
concealment, it was exactly half an hour before the bail bond was signed
and the order sent to the prison that he should be set at liberty.

Broken by his incarceration, terrified by his murderous experience of the
last night at the cafe, red-eyed and restless, the dive-keeper was pacing
up and down his cell. A pickpocket whom he knew and who, through his own
political pull was serving a term as a trusty, brought the information to
him scrawled on a bit of cigarette paper which, with a little warning
whistle, he dropped through the bars of the steel cage.

Druce picked up the note and read it furtively. He waited for the trusty
to pass him again, then beckoning him, he whispered, "See if my gal isn't
outside somewhere. She just left here. Tell her to wait. She can get into
the automobile which they will be sure to send for me."

It was not affection, but cowardice, that led Druce to think of Elsie
first. Since he had been locked up he had crumbled under his trouble. He
was so much shaken in mind and body by the killing of Anson and by his
arrest that he was actually afraid to go out of the jail alone.

After what seemed an eternity of waiting he heard footsteps in the
corridor. A guard appeared and unlocked the iron door, beckoned to Druce,
and he passed out.

In a little waiting-room an iron-faced jail attendant handed him his
watch and knife and some money taken from him when he was locked up. A
lawyer whom he knew signaled him to follow.

Another steel door stood open and Druce found himself outside the prison,
breathing the free air of night. An automobile stood there. Druce saw
that Elsie was already within.

"The driver has instructions," said the lawyer. "Later you will hear
further from me."

"What to hell are they going to do for me?" growled Druce.

"No time to argue," said the lawyer. "Here!" He pressed something in his
hand. "Your game is to get away while the getting is good." He slammed
the door as Druce got in. The car turned the corner and went north.

"Where are we going?" Elsie asked.

Druce mumbled an unintelligible answer.

"Where?"

"Shut up your ranting at me!" He shook off her hand. "I guess you'll get
your three squares a day."

Nothing more was said for several moments. Elsie lay back with her eyes
closed. By the light from occasional street lamps Druce was counting a
roll of bills.

"Here, kid, look at this." He spoke with just a touch of softness and
bravado. "That young guy slipped it to me. My backers got to give me a
nice trip to foreign lands. There'll be plenty of kale. I'm going to take
you along, see." He did not add that her too great knowledge of his
methods made others desirous that she, too, should be far away when the
trial of the dive's employes came to pass. Elsie opened her eyes.

"I should think you would show that you feel a little bit glad that I'm
out," he whined. "Think of those days in that jail."

Elsie would not have dared fail to express sympathy for him, but he was
in need of a match for the cigarette he held. Hailing the chauffeur, he
had the next instant forgotten his demand.

They drove in silence until they reached the house that had been prepared
for their hiding-place. "Furnished rooms--Light Housekeeping" was
inscribed on a card, tacked conspicuously in the doorway.

A woman near middle age, inclined to be fleshy, with large features that
reflected the dim hall light, met them, her arms akimbo.

"Everything's all right for you folks. Upstairs front. There's a gas
stove in the closet if you all--

"We ain't pikers--we'll get our eats sent in. Here, take this." Druce put
a slip of paper and a greenback into Elsie's hand.

"Go to the drug-store there at the corner and get this prescription
filled," he ordered. "It's morphine. I've got to sleep tonight."

Elsie obeyed passively. When she returned Druce was pacing the room wild
with impatience. His greenbacks and a bottle of absinthe lay on the
table.

He lost no time in resorting to the morphine. "Absinthe is the stuff to
put life in your body; but it's the good old dope to make you forget all
your troubles," he soliloquized, Very shortly he was on the bed, sound
asleep.

Elsie paced softly back and forth in the room for a long time. Then she
went out into the dark hallway. She opened the window and stood looking
into the street. It was quiet there. The stars looked down on a deserted
way.

That big bright star over there! Was it not the one she and her sister
used to choose when wishing from their bedroom window at Millville! How
long ago that seemed; how wide and dreadful life's abyss between!

"If I had known, if I had known!" Elsie shuddered and glanced towards the
closed door. "I was bound to have my own way. My--own--way. That's it.
There was something in me--" She faced her actions, she probed into her
thoughts from the hour she first met Martin Druce. She marshalled her
scathing shames before the judgment bar of her womanhood. In the flaming
fires of tortured conscience she stood and suffered.

Then she began to wonder about the future. Where was she bound? Where
would he be sent? What strange lands might she see?

How could she go with him? How could she stay behind? The street--the
dreadful streets of night!

Elsie shuddered, remembering those nights in the Levee, the fear and
horror, and at last the shameful, gnawing hunger that drove her to him
again.

Back in the room where the dive-keeper lay in stupor Elsie spread a quilt
on the floor and went wearily to her broken rest.

When she awoke Druce was trying nervously to roll a cigarette. The paper
broke.

"Here, you, it's morning. It's time you woke up. Take this money. Get me
some cigarettes. I can't roll them."

He was a being frightening to see by this time. The morphine and the
French poison had torn his nerves to fragments. His eyes glared like
coals in his pasty white face.

Elsie did not try to talk to him. She saw that he was beyond that. She
took some money from the table and went out again to buy the cigarettes
and food. When she returned Druce refused to eat. He took up the bottle
of absinthe and drank from it, swallowing the burning liquid with
animal-like gulps that made Elsie shudder.

"You'll kill yourself," said Elsie. "Take some of this milk."

"Mind your own damn business," returned Druce, hoarsely. "You stick to
milk. I'll stick to absinthe."

Again he lay down and again he slept. The long day passed. Night came and
with a wild wind and a beating rain.

Druce woke in a half delirium.

"More absinthe, more absinthe," he muttered. The bottle on the table was
empty. "Why didn't you have another bottle here? What have you been
doing, eh?"

"Do you think you better take any more?" asked Elsie.

Druce stood glaring at her. His eyes flamed as he rushed across the room
like a madman. Before she could get out of his way he struck her a brutal
blow that felled her to the floor, and kicked her as she struggled. He
reached for the empty bottle and brandished it over her.

"Damn you, get out of here quick and get me that dope!"

Elsie got to her feet.

"I'll go," she said, faintly.



                              CHAPTER XXVII

                    HARVEY SPENCER TAKES UP THE TRAIL


Harvey had waited about the jail for days. He was certain that Elsie
Welcome would return to Druce, and he was resolved to make a great effort
to induce her to leave him.

In his unsubtle makeup the measure of his devotion was as great as the
measure of his unspoiled manhood. The girl he wished to make his wife had
been taken from him. She had removed herself far from his kindness and
care, but he could not cease to offer her the care she needed more
poignantly than before.

The personal interest of so conspicuous a person as Mary Randall, in
Elsie's case, had undoubtedly urged Harvey on--when otherwise he might
have given up. Even so, his courage and persistency, and personal
sacrifices, were wonderful to behold.

On the night when Druce was at last removed from the jail Harvey was
standing in an alley opposite the public entrance to the jail watching
the automobile which stood awaiting the coming of someone from within.

Finally he saw the slender figure of a woman emerge from a doorway and
enter the automobile. He knew that figure. He ran across the street and
around the car. He noted its number with one of those keen flashes of
memory, conscious at the moment that he should remember that number as
long as he drew breath.

He flung open the door on the further side of the automobile.

Elsie faced him. "What are you doing here?" she asked in an icy little
voice.

"I--no--Won't you come to your mother, Elsie? Won't you come away from
this man? Your mother and Patience love you so much and have been trying
so hard to find you and--"

"I can't, Harvey--I--perhaps--Oh! Go away. Druce is coming. He will--hurt
you."

"It doesn't matter about me. It's you."

"I--I must stand by my husband."

"Husband! He isn't your husband. He fooled you with a marriage license.
Anybody can get a license in Chicago, but Druce's license was never
returned. He likely got some fellow to pretend to perform the marriage.
Elsie, it wasn't legal, I can prove it."

For an instant Elsie's spirit flamed in her eyes and her burning cheeks
paled. Then she saw Druce coming and she turned towards him wearily, a
strange quivering and drooping of her eyelids alone showing that she had
heard. In the presence of her master she grew meek as a little child.

Harvey drifted back into the shadows of the jail, powerless to help her,
and saw her driven away with the man who had ruined her earthly life.

Fighting his grief and despair, he went to the nearest drug-store and
telephoned Miss Randall of what he had seen.

"Druce out on bail! A murderer out on bail in Chicago!" she exclaimed.
"Oh, Harvey, if only you had thought to jump into a taxicab and follow
them to see where they have been taken."

"I'm no detective. I am going back to Millville. Perhaps I can get back
my old job in the grocery store," he answered grimly.

"Hello! Miss Randall! Hello! I remember the number of the machine." He
gave it.

"Good! Wait a minute till I see whose that is. Hold the wire." She
consulted her list of the automobile numbers entered in Illinois and
found that this one belonged to a professional bondsman named Comstock.

She gave Harvey the man's residence number.

"Go out there first thing in the morning and see if you can find out from
the chauffeur where the machine went tonight. Keep a stiff upper lip, Mr.
Spencer, you have really done splendidly."

Harvey went early next day to the address given him, a residence of the
type called stone-fronted, in a district no longer fashionable. There was
a garage, but no automobile. Harvey made a careful survey of the premises
without gaining ground. He saw another of Mary Randall's aids come,
linger about and go away; but remembering her advice about keeping a
stiff upper lip, he stayed on. He was to be rewarded late in the
afternoon.

A car rumbled into the garage. Its colored driver immediately began
washing it and Harvey sauntered back into the yard. The number on it was
the one printed on his memory.

From somewhere back in his tired brain came the impulse to say,

"I'm a repair man from Gavin's garage. Mr. Comstock told me to come over
and take a look at his car. Said he had it out in the rain last night and
it wasn't working right."

"Yes, sah; that car certainly has been drove last night. Some of the
battery connections got wet." The chauffeur was glib enough.

"Lights and ignition out of order?" Harvey pretended to examine the car,
asking seemingly careless questions and gaining from the negro the
information that the car had gone from the jail with Druce to an obscure
street far out on the northwest side. The man could not give the number
of the house, but said it was one of three in the middle of "a short
little street."

Harvey made the excuse that he must go back to the garage where he was
employed to get his tools, and hurried away.

It was growing dark and a wild, stormy rain-wind was blowing when he
reached the remote neighborhood described for him by the bondsman's
talkative servant. He was gazing at the three forbidding dwellings
standing near the center of the block, trying to make up his mind which
to approach first, when he saw Elsie in her long rain-coat come out of
the middle house, hesitate a moment, then hurry down the steps into the
street.

He slipped into the shadow of a house, his heart thumping.

"Elsie!" he called softly in a voice scarcely above a whisper.

She stopped, startled.

"Is it Harvey?" Elsie peered doubtingly into the darkness, then stepped
trustingly towards him as he replied,

"Yes, it's sure Harvey." He caught the sadness in her words and his voice
shook. "Won't you come away with me now? Your mother wants you!"

"Your life is in danger with him. Why don't you leave him?" he added
earnestly.

"Leave him," she repeated. "Oh, if I only could! My mother and
Patience--how are they?"

"They are well and safe, only they want you. They're going back to
Millville, to the same cottage. It's going to be all fixed over. Patience
is going to be married--Mr. Harry Boland."

Tears streamed from Elsie's eyes. She leaned against the iron fence that
skirted the sidewalk.

"Don't you see, Harvey, I just couldn't go home? I couldn't bear to make
Patience--ashamed of me. Don't tell her that, though, will you? Tell them
that I have to stay with my--my--oh, don't let mother know you saw me.
Don't let her know any different."

"You poor little thing--"

She looked about her in alarm. "I mustn't stay here. You mustn't, either.
It's no use, Harvey. The life's got me--I can't turn back."

The next moment she was running down the street as if hurrying from a
pursuer.

Harvey saw her enter the corner drug-store, waited a little while, then
decided he too had business in the drug-store. He would telephone Miss
Randall--but he must be careful. Elsie was receiving a package from the
drug clerk, as he entered the 'phone booth--and left while he was
talking. Harvey was standing with his face to the wall, speaking in a
whisper, lest his message would be overheard. He did not see Elsie
depart.

He got the reformer herself on the telephone.

"I have found them," he said.

"Good!" Joy and relief were in her tones. "Watch them carefully, won't
you? We'll have detectives there in a jiffy with a new warrant for Druce.
This time for white slavery. He will not escape us again."

Harvey gave the number of the house where Druce and Elsie had been
hidden, appointed a rendezvous with the detective and returned at once to
watch the house. He decided that Elsie had hurried back while he was at
the telephone.

In less than an hour an automobile rushed up to the house. Two men got
out and hurried into the place. One of them he recognized as the lawyer
he had seen at the entrance of the jail. There were not his detectives.

The storm had increased and the rain was driving in blinding torrents
across the street.

Harvey saw a group of people suddenly emerge from the house. The
chauffeur jumped down and took part with the struggling little crowd. He
could hear Druce swearing loudly, calling out Elsie's name with words of
abuse. The men pushed the drunken man into the car, and got in after him.

Harvey looked about for some sort of a vehicle, but none was in sight and
the auto was actually starting. He sprang on the rear, spring and,
crouching, hung on desperately. They drove for a long time; to him it
seemed hours as his hands grew numb and his muscles ached from clinging
to his precarious hold. Fortunately the storm had subsided.

The driver turned into a dark, cobble paved street. The auto swayed and
jolted like a ship on the rocks. The road was full of pitch-holes and as
the wheels slipped into them a blinding spray of muddy water was flung
into Harvey's face. The machine put on more speed and swung around a
corner. Another hole! The car careened, almost turned over, and Harvey
was thrown into the street.

As he struggled to his feet the red rear light of the automobile was two
blocks away. But he went on, gasping for breath, stumbling. Presently he
found himself in the district near the river, close to the north side
water front, which is deserted after night-fall.

He had hurried on like a man in a dream. Now he came to the edge of the
river and stood staring down into the water.

Out in the stream he could see the shadowy outline of a boat. Looking
more closely, he saw that he was scarcely two hundred feet from the
craft. The darkness had multiplied the distance; it was now penetrated by
a lantern light moving on the deck, evidently in the hand of someone who
was standing aft on the boat.

There was distinct, loud talking and swearing between men.

Harvey thought that it was a fishing smack. Its demonstrative passengers
were bent upon waking up the night and almost woke him up to the purpose
of his night's errand when he heard a loud voice say:

"Cut that out, Druce. No more boozing, d'you hear?"

"D-r-u-c-e."

Harvey was as near fainting as a healthy young man might be with the
shock of this surprise after his tremendous exertions and his fall. He
stood as if petrified.

But his ears still caught the sound of swearing and he saw men moving
quickly about on the deck, then the gray white of sails spreading like
gaunt ghosts. The swish of water told him that the boat was moving, that
his quarry was slipping into pitch-blackness ahead.

That was the finish of his courage.

Harvey felt his limbs trembling, felt something trickle down his face. He
was beaten.



                             CHAPTER XXVIII

                         THE FORCES THAT CONQUER


When the tenderloin learned that Martin Druce had been released on a bond
for thirty thousand dollars, the tenderloin laughed.

The laugh was low and cunning and there was more than the suggestion of a
sneer in it. It rang from one end of the district to the other,
convulsing dive-keepers who for days had been as funereal as undertakers.
It sounded in dance halls and bagnios, in barrooms and gambling dens.

It eddied up into Chicago's higher air and found an echo in clubs
frequented by distinguished financier-politicians.

John Boland had won! The brain that had never failed had proved its
resourcefulness once again in this hour of dire trouble. Druce was gone.
He would never be heard of in Chicago again. It had cost thirty thousand
dollars, but what was thirty thousand dollars? Mary Randall and her
crusaders were crushed. Anson was dead. Druce was gone.

What mattered it now how much evidence Mary Randall had gathered in
against the Cafe Sinister! There would be a period of quiet. The
tenderloin would carefully observe all the proprieties. Then the case of
the State against Martin Druce would be called and Druce would not
respond to that summons. And so Mary Randall's sensation would die an
unnatural death--death from smothering, death from lack of expression.
Afterward the tenderloin would resume its old operations. No wonder the
tenderloin laughed!

John Boland felt none of this exultation when he returned to his office
on the morning following Druce's release. An indefinable oppression
weighed him down. He had won, he knew--and yet the air about him seemed
charged with prescience of evil. He tried to shake it off and could not.
He was anxious, too, about Harry. Why, he asked himself, should he worry
about an ungrateful son. John Boland did not know the answer, yet the
answer was very plain. His son Harry was his own flesh and blood and no
man can cut himself off from his own flesh and blood without feeling some
sort of reaction.

John Boland, the man of brain and iron was only human after all. He loved
his son.

He was in a state of gloomy meditation when he opened his desk and
resumed his day's work. The telephone bell jangled constantly. The
councillors who had participated in the conference over Druce's case
which had resulted so happily were calling up to congratulate Boland on
the success of his maneuver. Somehow these felicitations did not please
him as his fellow advisers had expected.

His mood was gloomy. He could not shake it off. Constantly the same
question returned to his mind he had won, yes, but what difference did it
make? Was he any happier? Was the world any better? Boland had never been
worried by questions of this sort before. He could not answer them.

He was still in this gray mood when the guardian of his door announced
the arrival of Grogan. Michael Grogan was, perhaps, Boland's most
intimate friend. He had not taken Grogan into his confidence when he
planned his coup to release Druce. He felt that Grogan would not be in
sympathy with his campaign for destroying the work of the reformers.
Still he was glad to see Grogan. After all he was a friend. And this
morning John Boland, for the first time, perhaps, in his life, felt the
need of a friend.

"John," said Grogan taking a seat, "I see you've 'sprung' Druce?"

"Yes? Mike you're an inveterate reader of the newspapers."

"They're yelling about it this morning."

"Let them yell."

"You did it?"

"Well Mike, I'm a modest man. I had something to do with it."

"It's a rotten business!"

"What!"

"I said it was a rotten business."

"The commercial interests of the city demanded it. Do you think I will
stand idly by and see a bunch of half-baked reformers shake down the
business institutions of Chicago?"

"John, they are right."

"O yes, I suppose if you take the mamby-pamby, hysterical, sentimental
end of it, any campaign that hits at vice is right."

"It was a great movement. Mary Randall is a fine girl. You'll live to
regret that you helped to thwart her."

"Pshaw, what's the matter with you, man? You're blood seems to be turning
to milk. The papers will howl for a few days and then they'll forget it.
We'll invite them to. We'll suggest that if they don't forget it the
interests we represent may feel called upon to cut down their
advertising. They'll forget it all right."

"No, John," Grogan spoke deliberately. "You can't kill off a great and
righteous movement by choking a few newspapers. The newspapers are
powerful but their power has its limits. That girl has built a fire under
this town that will rage in spite of you or me, or any one else. We can't
stop it." Grogan rose. "That's all," he said, "I just dropped in to let
you know how I feel about it. I thought I might be able to persuade you
to get out of this fight. I guess, John, you're incorrigible. Well, no
hard feelings."

Boland laughed. "Have a drink as you go out. You need something to cheer
you up."

Grogan stopped. "Where's Harry?" he asked suddenly.

Boland flushed and his brow darkened.

"I don't know," he answered. "He and I have had a misunderstanding. He
insists on marrying this Welcome girl. I don't know where he is and I
don't care."

Grogan looked surprised. "John," he said, "I'd feel sorry for you if I
didn't know you are lying. You do care. You can't conceal it. You care
now, and worse you'll be caring more and more as time goes on. John,
there are some things even you can't do."

"Well, Mike, what are they?"

"You can't beat Nature and you can't beat God. Good day."

In vain Boland scoffed at Grogan's sentimentalism. Again and again the
words rose in his mind:

You can't beat Nature and you can't beat God.

The telephone rang. At the other end of the wire was that senator who had
been at his conference. He asked Boland in a frightened voice if he had
seen the papers, and then rang off.

Boland, alarmed, sent a boy in haste for the latest editions. The boy
returned and spread them out on the desk before him.

Again the telephone rang. This time it was the clergyman who had
participated in the conference.

"Do you know that Mary Randall is out in a statement that she knows full
details of what she calls the plot that resulted in the liberation of
Martin Druce?" he demanded. "She says she will give the whole thing to
the newspapers later. They are calling it in the streets below my study
window now. Can't something be done to head off that statement?"

"What would you suggest? Why don't you see some of the editors?" Boland
returned.

"Oh, that's impossible. My dear Boland, think of me. If my name should be
published in this connection my reputation would be ruined."

Boland laughed savagely into the telephone and hung up the receiver, only
to lift it again and hear another appeal for help, this from the
publisher. He also feared ruin.

Another call. The politician whose power in a great political party was a
by-word was barking at the other end of the wire. He accused Boland of
destroying him.

"You've destroyed us," he yelped. "We're ruined. You've blundered."

Boland was beyond speech by this time. He seized his hat and rushed out
into the street. Everywhere boys were shouting the extras. Several people
who recognized him as he passed paused to look after him curiously. He
walked directly to his club.

A few men gathered there reading newspapers paused to look after him
curiously, bowed coldly and at once resumed reading. Others seemed to
avoid him. Boland felt that the newspapers' conspicuous comment on a
certain financial magnate prominent in the electrical world in connection
with the vice-scandal pointed at him too plainly for any one in Chicago
to misunderstand.

He called his car and drove to his lonely home.

That night John Boland had a strange vision. He saw an eternity of pain
and everlasting darkness. Through it the nightmare of his past life in
strangely terrifying pictures passed before his mind.

Scenes of his boyhood, the panorama of his young manhood, pictures of his
battle for success against overwhelming forces in the great city. These
pictures returned again and again, vivid in their relief. He saw again
the death of his wife and the spirit of darkness that had then come to
walk beside him, taunting him that now he was of necessity a cold,
calculating, lonely, indomitable man, not knowing how to give to his only
son fatherly tenderness.

This phase passed. He seemed to enter into a larger world full of
terrifying monsters, all of human form. One he recognized as Druce,
another as Anson, a third as the senator whose seat he had helped to get.
And with them came a host of smaller figures, some struggling for life,
and being crushed down into oblivion under his inexorable progress, some
fighting with one another lest they too be torn down and crushed before
him.

There were piteous girl faces and worn kindly faces of women and men and
these had gone down before the others because they had not the power of
resistance needed in this battle. It was a great whirling nightmare of
continuous struggle.

And always walking by his side and seeming to grow stronger and more
terrible as he tore his path through every obstacle strode his guide, the
spirit of darkness.

At last they were alone, he and the spirit. And the spirit turned upon
him and clutched him by the throat. He struggled in that grasp just as
others had struggled in his own grasp, tortured and futile. And again
those words from Grogan:

_"You can't beat Nature and you can't beat God!"_

Sweat stood out on John Boland's forehead.

He awoke with a mighty effort and sat upright. Around him was the
emptiness and loneliness of the great bed-chamber. He saw with eyes wide
open and brain alert a picture that looked like a reality and not a
vision.

It was of a trembling man bent with age and loneliness.



                              CHAPTER XXIX

                          THE CALL OF ETERNITY


Elsie walked on and on eastward towards the lake. For a week she had been
living alone in a room she had found near the park on the night that she
left Harvey Spencer, telephoning in the drug-store. She had resolved that
instant to go. It was to be "Now or never"--and she hurried away in an
opposite direction from the hiding place--and from Druce.

The little money that he had put in her hands for drugs had somehow
lasted her until now. She had been too ill to go out, her body racked
with fever.

She was conscious that she must tomorrow find some work to do, for the
landlady had twice asked her for the next week's rent. She looked in at
the door of a laundry where a German woman was singing as she ironed
children's dresses by the light of a flaring gas jet. It looked pleasant
and peaceful in there. Perhaps that motherly woman would let her work
with her. She would see tomorrow.

Elsie walked on towards the lake. She wanted to look at the water. She
wanted to breathe the cool breath of great winds coming over the water to
cool this fierce fire of shame and horror fevering her soul, flaming in
her delicate cheeks.

Elsie came to the lake front at a wide high lot between two comfortable
mansions on Sheridan Road.

Lights of homes shone through the night's darkness. Beams as of sunshine
danced across the water.

A light from an upper chamber in the nearest home shone across her and
streamed onward to the sands.

Elsie stood clasping and unclasping her little slender hands. The
waters,--they could wash away that blow, the marks of that blow, wash
away those words threatening death from one who had killed something in
her heart. She realized that she was not afraid, facing the life to come.

She was afraid only to go on living in the same world with one who had
taken her girlhood and her womanhood, afraid only of this frightful fever
in her veins, of this poison that was consuming her.

Out yonder were the cool deeps of death--of death? What then? Far across
the waves she saw a light.

It was as if her spirit went to meet the light, went in quest of the
meaning of such a beacon light across black waters.

The light seemed to grow bigger and bigger as she gazed. By flinging her
frail body into the dreadful surges could one reach peace and safety?

Faintly her spirit heard the answer of the pursuing hound of heaven,
faintly she heard the call of eternity and of the Eternal Love.

The great black billows called to her. Elsie wondered what all the poor
girls the waves toss up along the shores say to their Maker. She seemed
to feel with them as she stood there, how the waves seize the bodies of
the lost,--how the undertow takes them. Elsie put her hands to her face.

"Why am I here alone in the night?" she heard herself asking. Her voice
sounded strangely familiar, yet unfamiliar as if some one were speaking
to her. Then she knew that the voice was her own soul in the silence.

"Mother will forgive me, mother wants me back, mother will help me get
well--if there is any health in me. Mother knows that it wasn't all my
fault--" her thought defended her against that voice.

"Why am I here alone in the night?" the question was repeated.

"I will go home. I will begin again. Men begin again. Oh!..." A sob came
from her lips.... "No, no, no!"

She felt with every nerve of her quivering being that in the slow upward
climb of sex towards true love and true parenthood woman's battle is
man's,--felt that God and Nature are now demanding not less of men.

The suffering girl could not put her certainty into words, but in her
body and in her soul she knew--she knew.

Suddenly from the opened window of the nearest home she heard above the
wind the cry of a baby, the loud, sweet, prolonged, fiercely-demanding
cry of a hungry little baby.

A wistful smile twisted her lips as she listened.

Suddenly as the baby's cry was stopped she put her hands to her bosom and
a strange lovely light shone on her face.



                               CHAPTER XXX

                          AT THE WEDDING FEAST


Brightly shone the sunshine on the fields and woods surrounding Millville
and on the little house where Mrs. Welcome was busy putting the last
touches to the order and sweetness of home.

Patience and her husband were coming on the noon train.

Later in the day a few of their friends had promised to come to the
supper for which her mother had been making loaves of delicious cake.

"It is strange, strange that my child should be the wife of John Boland's
son," she mused. "I wonder what my poor man would say. Would he feel less
bitter if he could know that Boland sent me all that money, with that
letter 'as justice to Tom Welcome's widow?' Patience and Harry are so
happy now it makes me feel like wanting to forget the past. If only I
could know where my baby girl is. But I just must go on trusting. Somehow
I feel hopeful. Patience and Harry want me to be brave. Harry's
father--he must find it hard to be brave too. He must be lonesome,
estranged from his son, no one to comfort him. Perhaps he sent me that
money really as a sign to Harry that he wants to be friends again. I
won't say anything to Harry about it just yet, but maybe some of these
days...." The direct train of her thought was interrupted by the sound of
a bird singing on the bough of a tree close by the opened window.

She stepped out into the side porch and looked about her with a glance of
pleasure in the neatness and charm of the little place. House and fence
had been painted and mended, put in tidy order. A new gate and a cement
sidewalk in front running down to the corner of the street spoke for the
industry of Harvey Spencer who had worked like a son for her in his spare
hours.

The song of the bird in the elm bough had dropped to a happy twittering.
The fragrance of late garden blossoms filled the air. At the end of the
deep yard, beyond the vegetable garden and close to the back gate Harvey
had built a pretty summer house and over it a madeira vine hung its
abundant quick growing wreaths of green.

Mrs. Welcome in her light summer dress, her gray hair moved a trifle by
the soft warm breeze, walked slowly down the garden path and sat down for
a few moments of rest in this quiet spot. A sudden sadness came upon her
face as almost always these months since her home coming when she rested
from her working.

But she rose resolutely and banished the thought.

"Today is my oldest daughter's day. I must think of nobody but Patience
and make her coming home with her husband as glad as can be."

She spoke aloud, to make her resolution stronger and walked back towards
the house, gathering nasturtiums and asparagus as she went, to decorate
the fresh and pretty parlor, with its new white muslin curtains and wall
paper and the piano which Harry Boland had sent.

"It's perfectly lovely, mother," Patience was saying to her in this room
within the hour, Patience whom everybody in Millville loved, standing
radiant and happy beside her equally radiant bridegroom. "How did you
ever get those flowers to trail over that picture as if they just grew
there?"

"You're a great success as a decorator, and we can't begin to thank you
enough," said Harry Boland. "I think Patience and I are in great luck
that we can make our home with you. It's all settled that I'm to have
that office opposite the court-house, going to buy and sell real estate
and work up a regular business."

"Yes, and mother, Harry finds that a whole lot of these cottages the mill
people live in are really his own, from his mother's estate directly to
him. He's going to put them all in decent order."

"Do you remember Michael Grogan? He is going to help us do things in
Millville. He has promised to build us a club house and dance hall, a
social center for the mill young people if you and Patience will help run
it."

"That's fine. Young folks need their fun," responded Mrs. Welcome
heartily. "Come along, Patey dear, and see the cakes mother has been
baking for you and Harry."

Mary Randall and Michael Grogan, Harvey Spencer and his sister and
brother-in-law were the five guests who assembled in the late afternoon
to honor the home-coming of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Boland.

Michael Grogan came first, arriving in a carriage of the hack type from
the station. He brought a huge bouquet of roses for the bride and a case
of grape-juice for the cheer of the festivity.

At supper he proposed the health of the young pair.

"May they always live happy ever after," said Grogan, standing up, glass
in hand. "May they never have any troubles that they can't nip in the
bud. As their principles demand of 'em to drink this stuff as the pure
juice of the grape, may it be blessed to 'em forever and to their
descendants."

Every body laughed and drank. Harry Boland toasted him in return:

"Here's the health of our very good friend, Mr. Michael Grogan. May all
his mornings be golden and all his sunsets clear."

"Thanks for the sunrises in particular," said Grogan. "Now ladies and
gentlemen I wish to toast the good health of another young lady who is
with us today, one who has made me a great deal of trouble and scared me
blue with blue envelopes. May she soon find a bridegroom for herself, one
of them brave lads who can talk right back to her as I never could when
she tackled this old man!" He lifted his grape-juice with a great
flourish. "Here's to herself, Miss Mary Randall!"

Miss Randall blushed and nodded her thanks.

"Speech, speech," demanded Grogan.

"Thank you, thank you but I just can't, not here, not now," she said and
quiet fell upon them.

The thoughts of all were with the young girl who had disappeared, for
whom all had worked, suffered, prayed.

"I do want to say," Miss Randall, broke the silence, "that you all must
know how glad I am that Mr. and Mrs. Harry Boland are to have a useful
and happy life together and that I...." She stopped suddenly, looking out
the opened door that led towards the garden, her whole expression
changing, her lips parting, her breath coming quickly.

"What did you see out there?" asked Harvey Spencer, with the sharp
intentness which he had learned from his maturing city experience.

"Now constable, don't get excited," chaffed Grogan, to whose aid Harvey's
quick rise to prominence and office was in part due. "We don't want to be
catching any burglars this happy day."

"What is it?" asked Patience Boland, rising.

"I--I don't know, to be really certain." Mary looked at Mrs. Welcome.
"Somebody came in at the back gate and went into the summer-house."

Mrs. Welcome leaned heavily on the table.

Harvey ran to the window. Grogan looked over his shoulder.

"Oh, Miss Randall, please go out and see." Patience's arms were already
about her mother. "Mumsey, mumsey, can it be?"

Mary went out into the porch and down the garden path.

It was Elsie Welcome who came out of the summer-house and slowly along
between the flower borders. She was shockingly emaciated. She stopped and
put her suit case down on the ground; its weight seemed too great for her
spent strength.

Mary ran to her.

Elsie looked at her with sorrowful dark eyes.

"I am afraid to go in," she said.

"I hear people in there talking and laughing."

"They are all friends of yours."

"Is my mother--will my mother...?"

"Child, your mother's heart is breaking for the sight of you."

Elsie ran forward to the doorway of the familiar room. A step forward.
Mother and daughter stood in a tender embrace.

The mother's face was radiant with great warmth of love. Patience rushed
to her sister and clasped her close.

Michael Grogan had led a tiptoe retreat of the visitors leaving mother
and daughters alone, but Patience called them back.

Elsie, smiling wanly, slipped like a little wraith across and into a
chair beside her mother, and felt that dear hand clasping hers.

"It's so good to be here with you," she whispered, looking vaguely about
at the others, then a dreadful fit of coughing seized her and she sank
exhausted in her mother's arms.

Harvey helped carry her into the little room off the parlor.

"You dear little thing, all you need is lots of fresh eggs and your ma's
nursing to set you up again," he said to her.

"Yes, Harvey, she is feeling very ill now, but we will all help her get
well," said Patience, as they went out of the room together, leaving
Elsie to rest in her mother's care.



                              CHAPTER XXXI

                         WITH THE ROSES OF LOVE


Mrs. Welcome came into the little bedroom very quietly one afternoon
about a week later, in her hands a large glass bowl overflowing with
roses.

She put it down on the table beside the bed and stood looking wistfully
at the small dark head on the pillow.

Elsie felt her there, opened her eyes and smiled as she saw the flowers.
A deeper color burned for a moment in her cheeks.

"Poor Harvey," she said. "Isn't he a dear, mamma?"

"He always thought the world and all of you," Mrs. Welcome sighed.

"I always liked him, but I never did love him, you know. I just let him
come to see me because he wanted to, and all the girls had company."

"You might have loved him dearie if--if--"

"If I hadn't gone away, you mean, but I did go away." Elsie coughed
violently.

"There, there, sweet, don't." Her mother helped her to sit up and held
her in her arms.

"Harvey comes every day to ask how you are," said Mrs. Welcome when she
was better. "He wants to see you when you feel able."

Elsie remained silent.

Out in the parlor they could hear Patience moving about, putting things
in order, singing as she worked one of the songs she and Elsie used to
sing when they were little girls.

"Young Mrs. Boland is some singer," said Elsie with a flash of her old
fun. "Isn't it nice for our Patey to be so happy?"

"She and I want you to be happy too, and you will when you get well, my
precious. You will laugh and sing as you used to."

"Mamma, I see through you," said Elsie. "I bet Harvey is here now. He
brought these roses himself. He coaxed you to coax me to see him. All
right. Shake up my pillows. Get Patey's pink boudoir cap and put your
pink shawl around me and bring him in."

Her pallor was more marked by the bright cap and shawl and the flame in
her cheeks seemed scarlet.

"Hello, Harvey," she greeted him almost in her old bright voice. "Thank
you for the roses. They're--"

A violent coughing made it impossible for Elsie to finish speaking.

He came and stood beside her and took her hot little outstretched hand.

"You're so pretty and I'm so glad you let me come in," he said gently.

"Oh, Harvey, I'm the one that's glad," said Elsie, trying to speak
brightly. She laid back on the pillow. The effort to talk exhausted her.

Harvey knelt down beside the bed so that his face was almost on a level
with hers.

"I don't want you to get tired, dear," he said. "I just want you to rest
and get well. Rest now!" He put his hand tenderly on her hot forehead.

"How cool your hand feels," she murmured. "Put it over my eyes. They burn
so."

He obeyed her and they remained quiet for many minutes; through their
hearts went many thoughts.

She moved slightly. He understood, removed his hand and waited.

When Elsie opened her eyes she looked directly into his kind eyes filled
with grief and love.

"You mustn't be so sorry for me, Harvey," she whispered.

"You will be better soon, and then--remember, little dear, I still have
the wedding ring."

Elsie sighed. "Poor old Harvey! There never was anybody so good as you
are to me."

"I love you."

She patted his cheek. "It's so good of you to go on caring about me."

"I couldn't stop if I wanted to,--and I don't want to."

She put her thin arm about his neck. "Will you do something for me?"

"Anything on earth!"

A wan little funny gleam lighted her pretty dark eyes.

"This is on earth, all right. I'll tell you about it next time you
come...." Suddenly Elsie sat up and grasped him. "There will be a next
time, won't there, Harvey?" she asked him in a wild tone, a wave of
terror seeming to go over her.

He held her gently.

"Don't be frightened, dear. Of course there is going to be a next time
... all the rest of our lives. You didn't think even for a minute that I
would go back on you, did you, Elsie?"

She smiled and released herself, then smiled again. "No, no, I didn't
mean that. Take a chair, Harvey, and tell me about the weather."

Harvey took the chair and once more possessed himself of her hand.

She smiled sweetly.

"Now let me ask you a favor. Let's name the day, Elsie," he said.
"Promise to marry me,--as soon as you get well."

"When--I--get--well," Elsie looked wonderingly at him. She saw his
passionate earnestness, his need of hope. Hope! It was fast fainting in
her heart. "Yes, Harvey,--when I get well."

He bent over her and with deep tenderness kissed her.

Violent coughing seized her. It was the worst, the most prolonged Elsie
had yet had. One spasm followed another, bringing her mother with
remedies.

Harvey moved frantically about; he was the first to suggest the doctor
and ran out to bring one. He did not realize, he could not know what had
really happened.

When he returned Elsie had fallen asleep and the physician advised them
not to waken her, promising to call early in the morning. The faithful
Harvey went with him. He had her answer, "when I get well," she said.

Elsie remained until nearly day-break in a very deep sleep. The fever
left her during this long repose. Her sister, who was watching beside
her, thought she was better because her forehead grew damp and cool.

With the first early light of morning Elsie opened her eyes.

Patience pushed back the pretty tendrils of her dark hair. "It's sister
watching with you, dear," she said.

"Where's mother?" murmured Elsie in a voice so weak that it frightened
Patience.

"Mother! mother! Please come!" she called.

"She's coming," answered Patience as Mrs. Welcome came hurrying to the
bedside.

She understood without a word, lifting Elsie in her arms, the frail
little worn body against her heart. Tears streamed down her face; sobs
shook her body.

Patience hurried weeping to summon Harry.

"Don't cry, Mother," moaned Elsie. "I am so glad I am home with you."

"Yes, Elsie, yes."

"I would have come long ago, but I didn't dare--so many girls never dare
go home. Some of their mothers don't want them, but you--. Mother--"

"Yes my darling, yes!"

"I was afraid, so afraid. I went--and--looked--at the--lake." She seemed
to her mother to wander a bit.

Her breathing became difficult. No more words came. A few quick
fluttering breaths--Elsie was gone.



                              CHAPTER XXXII

                      AT MARY RANDALL'S SUMMER HOME


Lake Geneva season was at its close. Most of the lake dwellers had closed
their houses and returned to town. For those who remained late autumn had
her glories. Woods and groves were gay in foliage. Orchards bowed their
heads beneath their loads of ripened fruit. In shorn fields the birds,
preparing for southern migration, sang of a year crowned with plenty.

Vines hung deep about the broad veranda of the villa where Mary Randall
was resting from her labors in the company of her uncle and aunt. She sat
alone in a corner of the veranda one sunny day, waiting for the arrival
of the journalist Ambrose, one of her most efficient aids.

Anna, her faithful maid came with an armful of flowers and began
arranging them on the table.

"You love those old-fashioned flowers even more than I do, I believe,
Anna," said Miss Randall.

"I do love them. They seem like the blossom of my vacation," said Anna.

"That's a pretty way to put it. Your vacation is to be a good long one.
You have certainly earned it. You're as worn as I am, after our battle. I
never should have got through it without you."

"Thank you, Miss Mary. Here comes the flower of all your workers,--Mr.
Ambrose," said the girl, and withdrew.

"Good news," said the journalist cheerfully, coming to greet his friend,
and noting with a sudden swift pleasure that a faint blush came to her
cheeks and a new light to her eyes as she welcomed him. "Good news! As I
was coming away the newspapers were out with the extra. The city council
held a special meeting during the afternoon. They have abolished the
segregated district. The city has formally adopted the policy of
suppressing instead of circumscribing vice."

"That is the beginning of the end," said Miss Randall. "If our campaign
has won that we have won all I hoped for."

"Yet many people believe that we failed."

"Even if we had failed we should have made progress. Every movement of
this kind leaves its mark on the public conscience. It makes work easier
for other crusaders."

"Yes," responded Ambrose, "because it brings out the facts. Facts are
lasting. They cannot die."

"Progress comes through inculcation of these facts, by means of
education. Schools and churches--and parents--must concentrate on the
moral improvement of the rising generation, or we wrestle ineffectively."

"The kind of vice you have been specially fighting will be extinct within
the next ten years," said Ambrose. "I don't mean that we shall have
suppressed vice. That is a task for centuries. But our people in the
United States will not stand for this trade in girls."

"I'd like to preach to men who have daughters to protect to take their
wives and go out and see some of the shady places of the city for
themselves. It would make any mother far more careful in future about the
companions of their daughters."

"Yes, to whisper about 'wild oats' and to see a young man who wants to
marry one's daughter in a dive are two very different things."

"We are going to have vice," said Miss Randall, "as long as economic
conditions set the stage for it. A young girl housed in a poor tenement,
ill-lighted, poorly heated, badly ventilated, fed and clothed
insufficiently--see to it that she hears foul language, and witnesses
drunkenness and quarrelling--then you have the condition that produces
the delinquent city girl."

"We are attacking all those evils," said Ambrose. "The public conscience
is rising against them. I predict the time when it will be regarded as
great a disgrace for a city to possess a 'back of the yards,' a ghetto or
a slum tenement district as it is now to have a district organized for
the exploitation of women. It's coming. You and I shall see it."

Mary Randall had risen, deeply moved while he spoke. She leaned against
the trellis and gazed far across the silver-shot lake at the sun sinking,
a great ball of crimson fire among the dark trees.

"God speed the day!" she said.

Beyond the veranda in a darkened drawing-room Mary Randall's aunt had
been resting and had heard this conversation. She rose and went softly
away and out to a pergola where she found her husband smoking a cigar.

"Lucius," she said. "That young newspaper man who has been out here to
see Mary is here again. They are talking in the veranda, settling all the
problems of Chicago!"

Lucius Randall blew a cloud of smoke. "Well, my dear, that is the only
way this old world gets ahead, for each generation to tackle its problems
anew."

"I believe that young man likes Mary."

"Many young men do."

"But--I really believe Mary likes him. She talks to him with a sweet note
in her voice, even when they are discussing the most impossible
subjects."

"I shouldn't wonder," said Lucius Randall with much serenity.



                                AFTERWORD


In our modern crusade against that most ancient evil known as the white
slave traffic we have made at least one serious advance. All over the
world that conspiracy of silence which has fettered thought and prevented
open action in the fight is ended.

Nowadays, as Havelock Ellis, author of the famous "Psychology of Sex,"
says in the _Metropolitan_ discussion of this subject, "churches,
societies, journalist, legislators, have all joined the ranks of the
agitators. Not only has there been no voice on the opposite side, which
was scarcely to be expected--for there has never been any anxiety to cry
aloud in defense of 'white slavery' from the housetops--but there has
been a new and noteworthy conquest over indifference and over that sacred
silence which was supposed to encompass all sexual topics with suitable
darkness. The banishment of that silence in the cause of social hygiene
is, indeed, not the least significant feature of this agitation. * * *

"By insuring that our workers, and especially our women workers, are
decently paid, so that they can live comfortably on their wages, we shall
not, indeed, have abolished prostitution, which is more than an economic
phenomenon, but we shall more effectually check the white slave trader
than by the most Draconic legislation the most imaginative vice crusader
ever devised. And when we insure that these same workers have ample time
and opportunity for free and joyous recreation we shall have done more to
kill the fascination of the white slave traffic than by endless police
regulations for the moral supervision of the young.

"No doubt the element of human nature in the manifestations we are
concerned with will still be at work, an obscure instinct often acting
differently in each sex, but tending to drive both into the same risks.
Here we need even more fundamental social changes. It is sheer
foolishness to suppose that when we raise our little dams in the path of
a great stream of human impulse that stream will forthwith flow calmly
back to its source. We must make our new channels concurrently with our
dams. We can at least begin today a task of education which must slowly
though surely undermine the white slave trader's stronghold. Such an
education needs to be not merely instruction in the facts of sex and wise
guidance concerning all the dangers and risks of the sexual life; it must
also involve a training of the will, a development of the sense of
responsibility, such as can never be secured by shutting our young people
up in a hothouse, sheltered from every fortifying breath of the outside
world."

It was in Illinois that Abraham Lincoln--a Southerner, Kentucky
born--threw down the gage in his famous Bloomington speech in the matter
of buying and selling human beings as slaves. It is in Illinois--in spite
of much disgrace which the State's fair name has had forced upon it--that
men and women have enlisted for life to fight in the battle against
buying and selling white girls, to fight against that special dealing in
"live stock" actually known to have gone on for years, which is Chicago's
special shame as a distributing center.

There is eternal shouting and exhorting against the immorality and vice
of the levee, but I wonder if it isn't society's hue and cry to divert
attention from viciousness in what are called "the best circles," a
condition that is a hundred times more important.

Will the churches be in some measure convinced that they must organize
for a combined effort to save the children of today--that souls are more
important than sectarianism, and that Sunday is not the only day in the
week?

If every unmarried woman with money and time at her disposal were to
devote part of her leisure to the care of one child there would be far
less misery in the slums and many a little sister would be saved.

If there is to be any effective reform we must arouse society from its
lethargic viewpoint too generally accepted that the devil is never so
black as he is painted.

As long as mothers do not know who the young men are with whom their
daughters spend evenings away from home so long will there be the troop
of Little Lost Sisters tripping, stumbling down the trail that leads
hellward.

Let us make the war against commercialized vice a bigger thing than a
presidential campaign, bigger than any war, bigger than anything that was
ever known in a woman's movement before in the world!





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