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Title: The Lion and The Mouse - A Story Of American Life
Author: Klein, Charles, 1867-1915
Language: English
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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 "The Lion and The Mouse - A Story Of American Life" ***

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    [Photo, from the play, of Shirley appealing to Mr. Ryder]

    "Go to Washington and save my father's life."--Act III.
                                       _Frontispiece._

THE LION AND THE MOUSE

BY

CHARLES KLEIN


A Story _of_ American Life

NOVELIZED FROM THE PLAY BY

ARTHUR HORNBLOW

  "Judges and Senators have been bought for gold;
   Love and esteem have never been sold."--POPE

       *       *       *       *       *

ILLUSTRATED BY

STUART TRAVIS

AND

SCENES FROM THE PLAY

       *       *       *       *       *

GROSSET & DUNLAP

PUBLISHERS--NEW YORK

G.W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY

_Entered at Stationers' Hall, London_

Issued August, 1906



CONTENTS

 Chapter I
 Chapter II
 Chapter III
 Chapter IV
 Chapter V
 Chapter VI
 Chapter VII
 Chapter VIII
 Chapter IX
 Chapter X
 Chapter XI
 Chapter XII
 Chapter XIII
 Chapter XIV
 Chapter XV
 Chapter XVI



_The Lion and the Mouse_

CHAPTER I


There was unwonted bustle in the usually sleepy and dignified New
York offices of the Southern and Transcontinental Railroad Company
in lower Broadway. The supercilious, well-groomed clerks who, on
ordinary days, are far too preoccupied with their own personal
affairs to betray the slightest interest in anything not
immediately concerning them, now condescended to bestir themselves
and, gathered in little groups, conversed in subdued, eager tones.
The slim, nervous fingers of half a dozen haughty stenographers,
representing as many different types of business femininity, were
busily rattling the keys of clicking typewriters, each of their
owners intent on reducing with all possible despatch the mass of
letters which lay piled up in front of her. Through the heavy
plate-glass swinging doors, leading to the elevators and thence to
the street, came and went an army of messengers and telegraph
boys, noisy and insolent.

Through the open windows the hoarse shouting of news-venders, the
rushing of elevated trains, the clanging of street cars, with the
occasional feverish dash of an ambulance--all these familiar
noises of a great city had the far-away sound peculiar to top
floors of the modern sky-scraper. The day was warm and sticky, as
is not uncommon in early May, and the overcast sky and a distant
rumbling of thunder promised rain before night.

The big express elevators, running smoothly and swiftly, unloaded
every few moments a number of prosperous-looking men who, chatting
volubly and affably, made their way immediately through the outer
offices towards another and larger inner office on the glass door
of which was the legend "Directors Room. Private." Each comer gave
a patronizing nod in recognition of the deferential salutation of
the clerks. Earlier arrivals had preceded them, and as they opened
the door there issued from the Directors Room a confused murmur of
voices, each different in pitch and tone, some deep and
deliberate, others shrill and nervous, but all talking earnestly
and with animation as men do when the subject under discussion is
of common interest. Now and again a voice was heard high above the
others, denoting anger in the speaker, followed by the pleading
accents of the peace-maker, who was arguing his irate colleague
into calmness. At intervals the door opened to admit other
arrivals, and through the crack was caught a glimpse of a dozen
directors, some seated, some standing near a long table covered
with green baize.

It was the regular quarterly meeting of the directors of the
Southern and Transcontinental Railroad Company, but it was something
more than mere routine that had called out a quorum of such strength
and which made to-day's gathering one of extraordinary importance
in the history of the road. That the business on hand was of the
greatest significance was easily to be inferred from the concerned
and anxious expression on the directors' faces and the eagerness
of the employés as they plied each other with questions.

"Suppose the injunction is sustained?" asked a clerk in a whisper.
"Is not the road rich enough to bear the loss?"

The man he addressed turned impatiently to the questioner:

"That's all you know about railroading. Don't you understand that
this suit we have lost will be the entering wedge for hundreds of
others. The very existence of the road may be at stake. And
between you and me," he added in a lower key, "with Judge Rossmore
on the bench we never stood much show. It's Judge Rossmore that
scares 'em, not the injunction. They've found it easy to corrupt
most of the Supreme Court judges, but Judge Rossmore is one too
many for them. You could no more bribe him than you could have
bribed Abraham Lincoln."

"But the newspapers say that he, too, has been caught accepting
$50,000 worth of stock for that decision he rendered in the Great
Northwestern case."

"Lies! All those stories are lies," replied the other
emphatically. Then looking cautiously around to make sure no one
overheard he added contemptuously, "The big interests fear him,
and they're inventing these lies to try and injure him. They might
as well try to blow up Gibraltar. The fact is the public is
seriously aroused this time and the railroads are in a panic."

It was true. The railroad, which heretofore had considered itself
superior to law, had found itself checked in its career of
outlawry and oppression. The railroad, this modern octopus of
steam and steel which stretches its greedy tentacles out over the
land, had at last been brought to book.

At first, when the country was in the earlier stages of its
development, the railroad appeared in the guise of a public
benefactor. It brought to the markets of the East the produce of
the South and West. It opened up new and inaccessible territory
and made oases of waste places. It brought to the city coal,
lumber, food and other prime necessaries of life, taking back to
the farmer and the woodsman in exchange, clothes and other
manufactured goods. Thus, little by little, the railroad wormed
itself into the affections of the people and gradually became an
indispensable part of the life it had itself created. Tear up the
railroad and life itself is extinguished.

So when the railroad found it could not be dispensed with, it grew
dissatisfied with the size of its earnings. Legitimate profits
were not enough. Its directors cried out for bigger dividends, and
from then on the railroad became a conscienceless tyrant, fawning
on those it feared and crushing without mercy those who were
defenceless. It raised its rates for hauling freight, discriminating
against certain localities without reason or justice, and favouring
other points where its own interests lay. By corrupting government
officials and other unlawful methods it appropriated lands, and
there was no escape from its exactions and brigandage. Other
roads were built, and for a brief period there was held out the
hope of relief that invariably comes from honest competition. But
the railroad either absorbed its rivals or pooled interests with
them, and thereafter there were several masters instead of one.

Soon the railroads began to war among themselves, and in a mad
scramble to secure business at any price they cut each other's
rates and unlawfully entered into secret compacts with certain big
shippers, permitting the latter to enjoy lower freight rates than
their competitors. The smaller shippers were soon crushed out of
existence in this way. Competition was throttled and prices went
up, making the railroad barons richer and the people poorer. That
was the beginning of the giant Trusts, the greatest evil American
civilization has yet produced, and one which, unless checked, will
inevitably drag this country into the throes of civil strife.

From out this quagmire of corruption and rascality emerged the
Colossus, a man so stupendously rich and with such unlimited
powers for evil that the world has never looked upon his like. The
famous Croesus, whose fortune was estimated at only eight millions
in our money, was a pauper compared with John Burkett Ryder, whose
holdings no man could count, but which were approximately
estimated at a thousand millions of dollars. The railroads had
created the Trust, the ogre of corporate greed, of which Ryder was
the incarnation, and in time the Trust became master of the
railroads, which after all seemed but retributive justice.

John Burkett Ryder, the richest man in the world--the man whose
name had spread to the farthest corners of the earth because of
his wealth, and whose money, instead of being a blessing, promised
to become not only a curse to himself but a source of dire peril
to all mankind--was a genius born of the railroad age. No other
age could have brought him forth; his peculiar talents fitted
exactly the conditions of his time. Attracted early in life to the
newly discovered oil fields of Pennsylvania, he became a dealer in
the raw product and later a refiner, acquiring with capital,
laboriously saved, first one refinery, then another. The railroads
were cutting each other's throats to secure the freight business
of the oil men, and John Burkett Ryder saw his opportunity. He
made secret overtures to the road, guaranteeing a vast amount of
business if he could get exceptionally low rates, and the illegal
compact was made. His competitors, undersold in the market, stood
no chance, and one by one they were crushed out of existence.
Ryder called these manoeuvres "business"; the world called them
brigandage. But the Colossus prospered and slowly built up the
foundations of the extraordinary fortune which is the talk and the
wonder of the world to-day. Master now of the oil situation, Ryder
succeeded in his ambition of organizing the Empire Trading
Company, the most powerful, the most secretive, and the most
wealthy business institution the commercial world has yet known.

Yet with all this success John Burkett Ryder was still not
content. He was now a rich man, richer by many millions that he
had dreamed he could ever be, but still he was unsatisfied. He
became money mad. He wanted to be richer still, to be the richest
man in the world, the richest man the world had ever known. And
the richer he got the stronger the idea grew upon him with all the
force of a morbid obsession. He thought of money by day, he dreamt
of it at night. No matter by what questionable device it was to be
procured, more gold and more must flow into his already
overflowing coffers. So each day, instead of spending the rest of
his years in peace, in the enjoyment of the wealth he had
accumulated, he went downtown like any twenty-dollar-a-week clerk
to the tall building in lower Broadway and, closeted with his
associates, toiled and plotted to make more money.

He acquired vast copper mines and secured control of this and
that railroad. He had invested heavily in the Southern and
Transcontinental road and was chairman of its board of directors.
Then he and his fellow-conspirators planned a great financial
coup. The millions were not coming in fast enough. They must make
a hundred millions at one stroke. They floated a great mining
company to which the public was invited to subscribe. The scheme
having the endorsement of the Empire Trading Company no one
suspected a snare, and such was the magic of John Ryder's name
that gold flowed in from every point of the compass. The stock
sold away above par the day it was issued. Men deemed themselves
fortunate if they were even granted an allotment. What matter if,
a few days later, the house of cards came tumbling down, and a
dozen suicides were strewn along Wall Street, that sinister
thoroughfare which, as a wit has said, has a graveyard at one end
and the river at the other! Had Ryder any twinges of conscience?
Hardly. Had he not made a cool twenty millions by the deal?

Yet this commercial pirate, this Napoleon of finance, was not a
wholly bad man. He had his redeeming qualities, like most bad men.
His most pronounced weakness, and the one that had made him the
most conspicuous man of his time, was an entire lack of moral
principle. No honest or honourable man could have amassed such
stupendous wealth. In other words, John Ryder had not been
equipped by Nature with a conscience. He had no sense of right, or
wrong, or justice where his own interests were concerned. He was
the prince of egoists. On the other hand, he possessed qualities
which, with some people, count as virtues. He was pious and
regular in his attendance at church and, while he had done but
little for charity, he was known to have encouraged the giving of
alms by the members of his family, which consisted of a wife,
whose timid voice was rarely heard, and a son Jefferson, who was
the destined successor to his gigantic estate.

Such was the man who was the real power behind the Southern and
Transcontinental Railroad. More than anyone else Ryder had been
aroused by the present legal action, not so much for the money
interest at stake as that any one should dare to thwart his will.
It had been a pet scheme of his, this purchase for a song, when
the land was cheap, of some thousand acres along the line, and it
is true that at the time of the purchase there had been some idea
of laying the land out as a park. But real estate values had
increased in astonishing fashion, the road could no longer afford
to carry out the original scheme, and had attempted to dispose of
the property for building purposes, including a right of way for a
branch road. The news, made public in the newspapers, had raised a
storm of protest. The people in the vicinity claimed that the
railroad secured the land on the express condition of a park being
laid out, and in order to make a legal test they had secured an
injunction, which had been sustained by Judge Rossmore of the
United States Circuit Court.

These details were hastily told and re-told by one clerk to
another as the babel of voices in the inner room grew louder, and
more directors kept arriving from the ever-busy elevators. The
meeting was called for three o'clock. Another five minutes and the
chairman would rap for order. A tall, strongly built man with
white moustache and kindly smile emerged from the directors room
and, addressing one of the clerks, asked:

"Has Mr. Ryder arrived yet?"

The alacrity with which the employé hastened forward to reply
would indicate that his interlocutor was a person of more than
ordinary importance.

"No, Senator, not yet. We expect him any minute." Then with a
deferential smile he added: "Mr. Ryder usually arrives on the
stroke, sir."

The senator gave a nod of acquiescence and, turning on his
heel, greeted with a grasp of the hand and affable smile his
fellow-directors as they passed in by twos and threes.

Senator Roberts was in the world of politics what his friend John
Burkett Ryder was in the world of finance--a leader of men. He
started life in Wisconsin as an errand boy, was educated in the
public schools, and later became clerk in a dry-goods store,
finally going into business for his own account on a large scale.
He was elected to the Legislature, where his ability as an
organizer soon gained the friendship of the men in power, and
later was sent to Congress, where he was quickly initiated in the
game of corrupt politics. In 1885 he entered the United States
Senate. He soon became the acknowledged leader of a considerable
majority of the Republican senators, and from then on he was a
figure to be reckoned with. A very ambitious man, with a great
love of power and few scruples, it is little wonder that only the
practical or dishonest side of politics appealed to him. He was in
politics for all there was in it, and he saw in his lofty position
only a splendid opportunity for easy graft.

He did not hesitate to make such alliances with corporate
interests seeking influence at Washington as would enable him to
accomplish this purpose, and in this way he had met and formed a
strong friendship with John Burkett Ryder. Each being a master in
his own field was useful to the other. Neither was troubled with
qualms of conscience, so they never quarrelled. If the Ryder
interests needed anything in the Senate, Roberts and his followers
were there to attend to it. Just now the cohort was marshalled in
defence of the railroads against the attacks of the new Rebate
bill. In fact, Ryder managed to keep the Senate busy all the time.
When, on the other hand, the senators wanted anything--and they
often did--Ryder saw that they got it, lower rates for this one, a
fat job for that one, not forgetting themselves. Senator Roberts
was already a very rich man, and although the world often wondered
where he got it, no one had the courage to ask him.

But the Republican leader was stirred with an ambition greater
than that of controlling a majority in the Senate. He had a
daughter, a marriageable young woman who, at least in her father's
opinion, would make a desirable wife for any man. His friend Ryder
had a son, and this son was the only heir to the greatest fortune
ever amassed by one man, a fortune which, at its present rate of
increase, by the time the father died and the young couple were
ready to inherit, would probably amount to over _six billions of
dollars_. Could the human mind grasp the possibilities of such a
colossal fortune? It staggered the imagination. Its owner, or the
man who controlled it, would be master of the world! Was not this
a prize any man might well set himself out to win? The senator was
thinking of it now as he stood exchanging banal remarks with the
men who accosted him. If he could only bring off that marriage he
would be content. The ambition of his life would be attained.
There was no difficulty as far as John Ryder was concerned. He
favoured the match and had often spoken of it. Indeed, Ryder
desired it, for such an alliance would naturally further his
business interests in every way. Roberts knew that his daughter
Kate had more than a liking for Ryder's handsome young son.
Moreover, Kate was practical, like her father, and had sense
enough to realize what it would mean to be the mistress of the
Ryder fortune. No, Kate was all right, but there was young Ryder
to reckon with. It would take two in this case to make a bargain.

Jefferson Ryder was, in truth, an entirely different man from his
father. It was difficult to realize that both had sprung from the
same stock. A college-bred boy with all the advantages his
father's wealth could give him, he had inherited from the parent
only those characteristics which would have made him successful
even if born poor--activity, pluck, application, dogged obstinacy,
alert mentality. To these qualities he added what his father
sorely lacked--a high notion of honour, a keen sense of right and
wrong. He had the honest man's contempt for meanness of any
description, and he had little patience with the lax so-called
business morals of the day. For him a dishonourable or dishonest
action could have no apologist, and he could see no difference
between the crime of the hungry wretch who stole a loaf of bread
and the coal baron who systematically robbed both his employés and
the public. In fact, had he been on the bench he would probably
have acquitted the human derelict who, in despair, had appropriated
the prime necessary of life, and sent the over-fed, conscienceless
coal baron to jail.

"Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." This simple
and fundamental axiom Jefferson Ryder had adopted early in life,
and it had become his religion--the only one, in fact, that he
had. He was never pious like his father, a fact much regretted by
his mother, who could see nothing but eternal damnation in store
for her son because he never went to church and professed no
orthodox creed. She knew him to be a good lad, but to her simple
mind a conduct of life based merely on a system of moral
philosophy was the worst kind of paganism. There could, she
argued, be no religion, and assuredly no salvation, outside the
dogmatic teachings of the Church. But otherwise Jefferson was a
model son and, with the exception of this bad habit of thinking
for himself on religious matters, really gave her no anxiety. When
Jefferson left college, his father took him into the Empire
Trading Company with the idea of his eventually succeeding him as
head of the concern, but the different views held by father and
son on almost every subject soon led to stormy scenes that made
the continuation of the arrangement impossible. Senator Roberts
was well aware of these unfortunate independent tendencies in John
Ryder's son, and while he devoutly desired the consummation of
Jefferson's union with his daughter, he quite realized that the
young man was a nut which was going to be exceedingly hard to
crack.

"Hello, senator, you're always on time!"

Disturbed in his reflections, Senator Roberts looked up and saw
the extended hand of a red-faced, corpulent man, one of the
directors. He was no favourite with the senator, but the latter
was too keen a man of the world to make enemies uselessly, so he
condescended to place two fingers in the outstretched fat palm.

"How are you, Mr. Grimsby? Well, what are we going to do about
this injunction? The case has gone against us. I knew Judge
Rossmore's decision would be for the other side. Public opinion is
aroused. The press--"

Mr. Grimsby's red face grew more apoplectic as he blurted out:

"Public opinion and the press be d----d. Who cares for public
opinion? What is public opinion, anyhow? This road can manage its
own affairs or it can't. If it can't I for one quit railroading.
The press! Pshaw! It's all graft, I tell you. It's nothing but a
strike! I never knew one of these virtuous outbursts that wasn't.
First the newspapers bark ferociously to advertise themselves;
then they crawl round and whine like a cur. And it usually costs
something to fix matters."

The senator smiled grimly.

"No, no, Grimsby--not this time. It's more serious than that.
Hitherto the road has been unusually lucky in its bench
decisions--"

The senator gave a covert glance round to see if any long ears
were listening. Then he added:

"We can't expect always to get a favourable decision like that in
the Cartwright case, when franchise rights valued at nearly five
millions were at stake. Judge Stollmann proved himself a true
friend in that affair."

Grimsby made a wry grimace as he retorted:

"Yes, and it was worth it to him. A Supreme Court judge don't get
a cheque for $20,000 every day. That represents two years' pay."

"It might represent two years in jail if it were found out," said
the senator with a forced laugh,

Grimsby saw an opportunity, and he could not resist the
temptation. Bluntly he said:

"As far as jail's concerned, others might be getting their deserts
there too."

The senator looked keenly at Grimsby from under his white
eyebrows. Then in a calm, decisive tone he replied:

"It's no question of a cheque this time. The road could not buy
Judge Rossmore with $200,000. He is absolutely unapproachable in
that way."

The apoplectic face of Mr. Grimsby looked incredulous.

It was hard for these men who plotted in the dark, and cheated the
widow and the orphan for love of the dollar, to understand that
there were in the world, breathing the same air as they, men who
put honour, truth and justice above mere money-getting. With a
slight tinge of sarcasm he asked:

"Is there any man in our public life who is unapproachable from
some direction or other?"

"Yes, Judge Rossmore is such a man. He is one of the few men in
American public life who takes his duties seriously. In the
strictest sense of the term, he serves his country instead of
serving himself. I am no friend of his, but I must do him that
justice."

He spoke sharply, in an irritated tone, as if resenting the
insinuation of this vulgarian that every man in public life had
his price. Roberts knew that the charge was true as far as he and
the men he consorted with were concerned, but sometimes the truth
hurts. That was why he had for a moment seemed to champion Judge
Rossmore, which, seeing that the judge himself was at that very
moment under a cloud, was an absurd thing for him to do.

He had known Rossmore years before when the latter was a city
magistrate in New York. That was before he, Roberts, had become a
political grafter and when the decent things in life still
appealed to him. The two men, although having few interests in
common, had seen a good deal of one another until Roberts went to
Washington when their relations were completely severed. But he
had always watched Rossmore's career, and when he was made a judge
of the Supreme Court at a comparatively early age he was sincerely
glad. If anything could have convinced Roberts that success can
come in public life to a man who pursues it by honest methods it
was the success of James Rossmore. He could never help feeling
that Rossmore had been endowed by Nature with certain qualities
which had been denied to him, above all that ability to walk
straight through life with skirts clean which he had found
impossible himself. To-day Judge Rossmore was one of the most
celebrated judges in the country. He was a brilliant jurist and a
splendid after-dinner speaker. He was considered the most learned
and able of all the members of the judiciary, and his decisions
were noted as much for their fearlessness as for their wisdom. But
what was far more, he enjoyed a reputation for absolute integrity.
Until now no breath of slander, no suspicion of corruption, had
ever touched him. Even his enemies acknowledged that. And that is
why there was a panic to-day among the directors of the Southern
and Transcontinental Railroad. This honest, upright man had been
called upon in the course of his duty to decide matters of vital
importance to the road, and the directors were ready to stampede
because, in their hearts, they knew the weakness of their case and
the strength of the judge.

Grimsby, unconvinced, returned to the charge.

"What about these newspaper charges? Did Judge Rossmore take a
bribe from the Great Northwestern or didn't he? You ought to
know."

"I do know," answered the senator cautiously and somewhat curtly,
"but until Mr. Ryder arrives I can say nothing. I believe he has
been inquiring into the matter. He will tell us when he comes."

The hands of the large clock in the outer room pointed to three.
An active, dapper little man with glasses and with books under his
arm passed hurriedly from another office into the directors room.

"There goes Mr. Lane with the minutes. The meeting is called.
Where's Mr. Ryder?"

There was a general move of the scattered groups of directors
toward the committee room. The clock overhead began to strike. The
last stroke had not quite died away when the big swinging doors
from the street were thrown open and there entered a tall, thin
man, gray-headed, and with a slight stoop, but keen eyed and
alert. He was carefully dressed in a well-fitting frock coat,
white waistcoat, black tie and silk hat.

It was John Burkett Ryder, the Colossus.



CHAPTER II


At fifty-six, John Burkett Ryder was surprisingly well preserved.
With the exception of the slight stoop, already noted, and the
rapidly thinning snow-white hair, his step was as light and
elastic, and his brain as vigorous and alert, as in a man of
forty. Of old English stock, his physical make-up presented
all those strongly marked characteristics of our race which,
sprung from Anglo-Saxon ancestry, but modified by nearly 300
years of different climate and customs, has gradually produced
the distinct and true American type, as easily recognizable among
the family of nations as any other of the earth's children. Tall
and distinguished-looking, Ryder would have attracted attention
anywhere. Men who have accomplished much in life usually bear
plainly upon their persons the indefinable stamp of achievement,
whether of good or evil, which renders them conspicuous among
their fellows. We turn after a man in the street and ask, Who is
he? And nine times out of ten the object of our curiosity is a man
who has made his mark--a successful soldier, a famous sailor, a
celebrated author, a distinguished lawyer, or even a notorious
crook.

There was certainly nothing in John Ryder's outward appearance to
justify Lombroso's sensational description of him: "A social and
physiological freak, a degenerate and a prodigy of turpitude who,
in the pursuit of money, crushes with the insensibility of a steel
machine everyone who stands in his way." On the contrary, Ryder,
outwardly at least, was a prepossessing-looking man. His head was
well-shaped, and he had an intellectual brow, while power was
expressed in every gesture of his hands and body. Every inch of
him suggested strength and resourcefulness. His face, when in good
humour, frequently expanded in a pleasant smile, and he had even
been known to laugh boisterously, usually at his own stories,
which he rightly considered very droll, and of which he possessed
a goodly stock. But in repose his face grew stern and forbidding,
and when his prognathous jaw, indicative of will-power and
bull-dog tenacity, snapped to with a click-like sound, those who
heard it knew that squalls were coming.

But it was John Ryder's eyes that were regarded as the most
reliable barometer of his mental condition. Wonderful eyes they
were, strangely eloquent and expressive, and their most singular
feature was that they possessed the uncanny power of changing
colour like a cat's. When their owner was at peace with the world,
and had temporarily shaken off the cares of business, his eyes
were of the most restful, beautiful blue, like the sky after
sunrise on a Spring morning, and looking into their serene depths
it seemed absurd to think that this man could ever harm a fly. His
face, while under the spell of this kindly mood, was so benevolent
and gentle, so frank and honest that you felt there was nothing in
the world--purse, honour, wife, child--that, if needs be, you
would not entrust to his keeping.

When this period of truce was ended, when the plutocrat was once
more absorbed in controlling the political as well as the
commercial machinery of the nation, then his eyes took on a
snakish, greenish hue, and one could plainly read in them the
cunning, the avariciousness, the meanness, the insatiable thirst
for gain that had made this man the most unscrupulous money-getter
of his time. But his eyes had still another colour, and when this
last transformation took place those dependent on him, and even
his friends, quaked with fear. For they were his eyes of anger. On
these dreaded occasions his eyes grew black as darkest night and
flashed fire as lightning rends the thundercloud. Almost
ungovernable fury was, indeed, the weakest spot in John Ryder's
armour, for in these moments of appalling wrath he was reckless of
what he said or did, friendship, self-interest, prudence--all were
sacrificed.

Such was the Colossus on whom all eyes were turned as he entered.
Instantly the conversations stopped as by magic. The directors
nudged each other and whispered. Instinctively, Ryder singled out
his crony, Senator Roberts, who advanced with effusive gesture:

"Hello, Senator!"

"You're punctual as usual, Mr. Ryder. I never knew you to be
late!"

The great man chuckled, and the little men standing around,
listening breathlessly, chuckled in respectful sympathy, and they
elbowed and pushed one another in their efforts to attract Ryder's
notice, like so many cowardly hyenas not daring to approach the
lordly wolf. Senator Roberts made a remark in a low tone to Ryder,
whereupon the latter laughed. The bystanders congratulated each
other silently. The great man was pleased to be in a good humour.
And as Ryder turned with the senator to enter the Directors Room
the light from the big windows fell full on his face, and they
noticed that his eyes were of the softest blue.

"No squalls to-day," whispered one.

"Wait and see," retorted a more experienced colleague. "Those eyes
are more fickle than the weather."

Outside the sky was darkening, and drops of rain were already
falling. A flash of lightning presaged the coming storm.

Ryder passed on and into the Directors Room followed by Senator
Roberts and the other directors, the procession being brought up
by the dapper little secretary bearing the minutes.

The long room with its narrow centre table covered with green
baize was filled with directors scattered in little groups and all
talking at once with excited gesture. At the sight of Ryder the
chattering stopped as if by common consent, and the only sound
audible was of the shuffling of feet and the moving of chairs as
the directors took their places around the long table.

With a nod here and there Ryder took his place in the chairman's
seat and rapped for order. Then at a sign from the chair the
dapper little secretary began in a monotonous voice to read the
minutes of the previous meeting. No one listened, a few directors
yawned. Others had their eyes riveted on Ryder's face, trying to
read there if he had devised some plan to offset the crushing blow
of this adverse decision, which meant a serious loss to them all.
He, the master mind, had served them in many a like crisis in the
past. Could he do so again? But John Ryder gave no sign. His eyes,
still of the same restful blue, were fixed on the ceiling watching
a spider marching with diabolical intent on a wretched fly that
had become entangled in its web. And as the secretary ambled
monotonously on, Ryder watched and watched until he saw the spider
seize its helpless prey and devour it. Fascinated by the
spectacle, which doubtless suggested to him some analogy to his
own methods, Ryder sat motionless, his eyes fastened on the
ceiling, until the sudden stopping of the secretary's reading
aroused him and told him that the minutes were finished. Quickly
they were approved, and the chairman proceeded as rapidly as
possible with the regular business routine. That disposed of, the
meeting was ready for the chief business of the day. Ryder then
calmly proceeded to present the facts in the case.

Some years back the road had acquired as an investment some
thousands of acres of land located in the outskirts of Auburndale,
on the line of their road. The land was bought cheap, and there
had been some talk of laying part of it out as a public park. This
promise had been made at the time in good faith, but it was no
condition of the sale. If, afterwards, owing to the rise in the
value of real estate, the road found it impossible to carry out
the original idea, surely they were masters of their own property!
The people of Auburndale thought differently and, goaded on by the
local newspapers, had begun action in the courts to restrain the
road from diverting the land from its alleged original purpose.
They had succeeded in getting the injunction, but the road had
fought it tooth and nail, and finally carried it to the Supreme
Court, where Judge Rossmore, after reserving his opinion, had
finally sustained the injunction and decided against the railroad.
That was the situation, and he would now like to hear from the
members of the board.

Mr. Grimsby rose. Self-confident and noisily loquacious, as most
men of his class are in simple conversation, he was plainly
intimidated at speaking before such a crowd. He did not know where
to look nor what to do with his hands, and he shuffled uneasily on
his feet, while streams of nervous perspiration ran down his fat
face, which he mopped repeatedly with a big coloured handkerchief.
At last, taking courage, he began:

"Mr. Chairman, for the past ten years this road has made bigger
earnings in proportion to its carrying capacity than any other
railroad in the United States. We have had fewer accidents, less
injury to rolling stock, less litigation and bigger dividends. The
road has been well managed and"--here he looked significantly in
Ryder's direction--"there has been a big brain behind the manager.
We owe you that credit, Mr. Ryder!"

Cries of "Hear! Hear!" came from all round the table.

Ryder bowed coldly, and Mr. Grimsby continued:

"But during the last year or two things have gone wrong. There has
been a lot of litigation, most of which has gone against us, and
it has cost a heap of money. It reduced the last quarterly
dividend very considerably, and the new complication--this
Auburndale suit, which also has gone against us--is going to make
a still bigger hole in our exchequer. Gentlemen, I don't want to
be a prophet of misfortune, but I'll tell you this--unless
something is done to stop this hostility in the courts you and I
stand to lose every cent we have invested in the road. This suit
which we have just lost means a number of others. What I would ask
our chairman is what has become of his former good relations with
the Supreme Court, what has become of his influence, which never
failed us. What are these rumours regarding Judge Rossmore? He is
charged in the newspapers with having accepted a present from a
road in whose favour he handed down a very valuable decision. How
is it that our road cannot reach Judge Rossmore and make him
presents?"

The speaker sat down, flushed and breathless. The expression on
every face showed that the anxiety was general. The directors
glanced at Ryder, but his face was expressionless as marble.
Apparently he took not the slightest interest in this matter which
so agitated his colleagues.

Another director rose. He was a better speaker than Mr. Grimsby,
but his voice had a hard, rasping quality that smote the ears
unpleasantly. He said:

"Mr. Chairman, none of us can deny what Mr. Grimsby has just put
before us so vividly. We are threatened not with one, but with a
hundred such suits, unless something is done either to placate the
public or to render its attacks harmless. Rightly or wrongly, the
railroad is hated by the people, yet we are only what railroad
conditions compel us to be. With the present fierce competition,
no fine question of ethics can enter into our dealings as a
business organization. With an irritated public and press on one
side, and a hostile judiciary on the other, the outlook certainly
is far from bright. But is the judiciary hostile? Is it not true
that we have been singularly free from litigation until recently,
and that most of the decisions were favourable to the road? Judge
Rossmore is the real danger. While he is on the bench the road is
not safe. Yet all efforts to reach him have failed and will fail.
I do not take any stock in the newspaper stories regarding Judge
Rossmore. They are preposterous. Judge Rossmore is too strong a
man to be got rid of so easily."

The speaker sat down and another rose, his arguments being merely
a reiteration of those already heard. Ryder did not listen to what
was being said. Why should he? Was he not familiar with every
possible phase of the game? Better than these men who merely
talked, he was planning how the railroad and all his other
interests could get rid of this troublesome judge.

It was true. He who controlled legislatures and dictated to Supreme
Court judges had found himself powerless when each turn of the legal
machinery had brought him face to face with Judge Rossmore. Suit
after suit had been decided against him and the interests he
represented, and each time it was Judge Rossmore who had handed
down the decision. So for years these two men had fought a silent
but bitter duel in which principle on the one side and attempted
corruption on the other were the gauge of battle. Judge Rossmore
fought with the weapons which his oath and the law directed him
to use, Ryder with the only weapons he understood--bribery and
trickery. And each time it had been Rossmore who had emerged
triumphant. Despite every manoeuvre Ryder's experience could
suggest, notwithstanding every card that could be played to
undermine his credit and reputation, Judge Rossmore stood higher
in the country's confidence than when he was first appointed.

So when Ryder found he could not corrupt this honest judge with
gold, he decided to destroy him with calumny. He realized that the
sordid methods which had succeeded with other judges would never
prevail with Rossmore, so he plotted to take away from this man
the one thing he cherished most--his honour. He would ruin him by
defaming his character, and so skilfully would he accomplish his
work that the judge himself would realize the hopelessness of
resistance. No scruples embarrassed Ryder in arriving at this
determination. From his point of view he was fully justified.
"Business is business. He hurts my interests; therefore I remove
him." So he argued, and he considered it no more wrong to wreck
the happiness of this honourable man than he would to have shot a
burglar in self-defence. So having thus tranquillized his
conscience he had gone to work in his usually thorough manner, and
his success had surpassed the most sanguine expectations.

This is what he had done.

Like many of our public servants whose labours are compensated
only in niggardly fashion by an inconsiderate country, Judge
Rossmore was a man of but moderate means. His income as Justice of
the Supreme Court was $12,000 a year, but for a man in his
position, having a certain appearance to keep up, it little more
than kept the wolf from the door. He lived quietly but comfortably
in New York City with his wife and his daughter Shirley, an
attractive young woman who had graduated from Vassar and had shown
a marked taste for literature. The daughter's education had cost a
good deal of money, and this, together with life insurance and
other incidentals of keeping house in New York, had about taken
all he had. Yet he had managed to save a little, and those years
when he could put by a fifth of his salary the judge considered
himself lucky. Secretly, he was proud of his comparative poverty.
At least the world could never ask him "where he got it."

Ryder was well acquainted with Judge Rossmore's private means. The
two men had met at a dinner, and although Ryder had tried to
cultivate the acquaintance, he never received much encouragement.
Ryder's son Jefferson, too, had met Miss Shirley Rossmore and been
much attracted to her, but the father having more ambitious plans
for his heir quickly discouraged all attentions in that direction.
He himself, however, continued to meet the judge casually, and one
evening he contrived to broach the subject of profitable
investments. The judge admitted that by careful hoarding and much
stinting he had managed to save a few thousand dollars which he
was anxious to invest in something good.

Quick as the keen-eyed vulture swoops down on its prey the wily
financier seized the opportunity thus presented. And he took so
much trouble in answering the judge's inexperienced questions, and
generally made himself so agreeable, that the judge found himself
regretting that he and Ryder had, by force of circumstances, been
opposed to each other in public life so long. Ryder strongly
recommended the purchase of Alaskan Mining stock, a new and
booming enterprise which had lately become very active in the
market. Ryder said he had reasons to believe that the stock would
soon advance, and now there was an opportunity to get it cheap.

A few days after he had made the investment the judge was
surprised to receive certificates of stock for double the amount
he had paid for. At the same time he received a letter from the
secretary of the company explaining that the additional stock was
pool stock and not to be marketed at the present time. It was in
the nature of a bonus to which he was entitled as one of the early
shareholders. The letter was full of verbiage and technical
details of which the judge understood nothing, but he thought it
very liberal of the company, and putting the stock away in his
safe soon forgot all about it. Had he been a business man he would
have scented peril. He would have realized that he had now in his
possession $50,000 worth of stock for which he had not paid a
cent, and furthermore had deposited it when a reorganization came.

But the judge was sincerely grateful for Ryder's apparently
disinterested advice and wrote two letters to him, one in which he
thanked him for the trouble he had taken, and another in which he
asked him if he was sure the company was financially sound, as the
investment he contemplated making represented all his savings. He
added in the second letter that he had received stock for double
the amount of his investment, and that being a perfect child in
business transactions he had been unable to account for the extra
$50,000 worth until the secretary of the company had written him
assuring him that everything was in order. These letters Ryder
kept.

From that time on the Alaskan Mining Company underwent mysterious
changes. New capitalists gained control and the name was altered
to the Great Northwestern Mining Company. Then it became involved
in litigation, and one suit, the outcome of which meant millions
to the company, was carried to the Supreme Court, where Judge
Rossmore was sitting. The judge had by this time forgotten all
about the company in which he owned stock. He did not even recall
its name. He only knew vaguely that it was a mine and that it was
situated in Alaska. Could he dream that the Great Northwestern
Mining Company and the company to which he had entrusted his few
thousands were one and the same? In deciding on the merits of the
case presented to him right seemed to him to be plainly with the
Northwestern, and he rendered a decision to that effect. It was an
important decision, involving a large sum, and for a day or two it
was talked about. But as it was the opinion of the most learned
and honest judge on the bench no one dreamed of questioning it.

But very soon ugly paragraphs began to appear in the newspapers.
One paper asked if it were true that Judge Rossmore owned stock in
the Great Northwestern Mining Company which had recently benefited
so signally by his decision. Interviewed by a reporter, Judge
Rossmore indignantly denied being interested in any way in the
company. Thereupon the same paper returned to the attack, stating
that the judge must surely be mistaken as the records showed a
sale of stock to him at the time the company was known as the
Alaskan Mining Company. When he read this the judge was
overwhelmed. It was true then! They had not slandered him. It was
he who had lied, but how innocently--how innocently!

His daughter Shirley, who was his greatest friend and comfort, was
then in Europe. She had gone to the Continent to rest, after
working for months on a novel which she had just published. His
wife, entirely without experience in business matters and somewhat
of an invalid, was helpless to advise him. But to his old and
tried friend, ex-Judge Stott, Judge Rossmore explained the facts
as they were. Stott shook his head. "It's a conspiracy!" he cried.
"And John B. Ryder is behind it." Rossmore refused to believe that
any man could so deliberately try to encompass another's
destruction, but when more newspaper stories came out he began to
realize that Stott was right and that his enemies had indeed dealt
him a deadly blow. One newspaper boldly stated that Judge Rossmore
was down on the mining company's books for $50,000 more stock than
he had paid for, and it went on to ask if this were payment for
the favourable decision just rendered. Rossmore, helpless,
child-like as he was in business matters, now fully realized the
seriousness of his position. "My God! My God!" he cried, as he
bowed his head down on his desk. And for a whole day he remained
closeted in his library, no one venturing near him.

As John Ryder sat there sphinx-like at the head of the directors'
table he reviewed all this in his mind. His own part in the work
was now done and well done, and he had come to this meeting to-day
to tell them of his triumph.

The speaker, to whom he had paid such scant attention, resumed his
seat, and there followed a pause and an intense silence which was
broken only by the pattering of the rain against the big windows.
The directors turned expectantly to Ryder, waiting for him to
speak. What could the Colossus do now to save the situation? Cries
of "the Chair! the Chair!" arose on every side. Senator Roberts
leaned over to Ryder and whispered something in his ear.

    [Pencil illustration of the meeting]

    He had come to this meeting to-day to tell them of his
    triumph.--_Page 46._

With an acquiescent gesture, John Ryder tapped the table with his
gavel and rose to address his fellow directors. Instantly the room
was silent again as the tomb. One might have heard a pin drop, so
intense was the attention. All eyes were fixed on the chairman.
The air itself seemed charged with electricity, that needed but a
spark to set it ablaze.

Speaking deliberately and dispassionately, the Master Dissembler
began.

They had all listened carefully, he said, to what had been stated
by previous speakers. The situation no doubt was very critical,
but they had weathered worse storms and he had every reason to
hope they would outlive this storm. It was true that public
opinion was greatly incensed against the railroads and, indeed,
against all organized capital, and was seeking to injure them
through the courts. For a time this agitation would hurt business
and lessen the dividends, for it meant not only smaller annual
earnings but that a lot of money must be spent in Washington.

The eyes of the listeners, who were hanging on every word,
involuntarily turned in the direction of Senator Roberts, but the
latter, at that moment busily engaged in rummaging among a lot of
papers, seemed to have missed this significant allusion to the
road's expenses in the District of Columbia. Ryder continued:

In his experience such waves of reform were periodical and soon
wear themselves out, when things go on just as they did before.
Much of the agitation, doubtless, was a strike for graft. They
would have to go down in their pockets, he supposed, and then
these yellow newspapers and these yellow magazines that were
barking at their heels would let them go. But in regard to the
particular case now at issue--this Auburndale decision--there had
been no way of preventing it. Influence had been used, but to no
effect. The thing to do now was to prevent any such disasters in
future by removing the author of them.

The directors bent eagerly forward. Had Ryder really got some plan
up his sleeve after all? The faces around the table looked
brighter, and the directors cleared their throats and settled
themselves down in their chairs as audiences do in the theatre
when the drama is reaching its climax.

The board, continued Ryder with icy calmness, had perhaps heard,
and also seen in the newspapers, the stories regarding Judge
Rossmore and his alleged connection with the Great Northwestern
Company. Perhaps they had not believed these stories. It was only
natural. He had not believed them himself. But he had taken the
trouble to inquire into the matter very carefully, and he
regretted to say that the stories were true. In fact, they were no
longer denied by Judge Rossmore himself.

The directors looked at each other in amazement. Gasps of
astonishment, incredulity, satisfaction were heard all over the
room. The rumours were true, then? Was it possible? Incredible!

Investigation, Ryder went on, had shown that Judge Rossmore was
not only interested in the company in whose favour, as Judge of
the Supreme Court, he had rendered an important decision, but what
was worse, he had accepted from that company a valuable gift--that
is, $50,000 worth of stock--for which he had given absolutely
nothing in return unless, as some claimed, the weight of his
influence on the bench. These facts were very ugly and so
unanswerable that Judge Rossmore did not attempt to answer them,
and the important news which he, the chairman, had to announce to
his fellow-directors that afternoon, was that Judge Rossmore's
conduct would be made the subject of an inquiry by Congress.

This was the spark that was needed to ignite the electrically
charged air. A wild cry of triumph went up from this band of
jackals only too willing to fatten their bellies at the cost of
another man's ruin, and one director, in his enthusiasm, rose
excitedly from his chair and demanded a vote of thanks for John
Ryder.

Ryder coldly opposed the motion. No thanks were due to him, he
said deprecatingly, nor did he think the occasion called for
congratulations of any kind. It was surely a sad spectacle to see
this honoured judge, this devoted father, this blameless citizen
threatened with ruin and disgrace on account of one false step.
Let them rather sympathize with him and his family in their
misfortune. He had little more to tell. The Congressional inquiry
would take place immediately, and in all probability a demand
would be made upon the Senate for Judge Rossmore's impeachment. It
was, he added, almost unnecessary for him to remind the Board
that, in the event of impeachment, the adverse decision in the
Auburndale case would be annulled and the road would be entitled
to a new trial.

Ryder sat down, and pandemonium broke loose, the delighted
directors tumbling over each other in their eagerness to shake
hands with the man who had saved them. Ryder had given no hint
that he had been a factor in the working up of this case against
their common enemy, in fact he had appeared to sympathise with
him, but the directors knew well that he and he alone had been the
master mind which had brought about the happy result.

On a motion to adjourn, the meeting broke up, and everyone began
to troop towards the elevators. Outside the rain was now coming
down in torrents and the lights that everywhere dotted the great
city only paled when every few moments a vivid flash of lightning
rent the enveloping gloom.

Ryder and Senator Roberts went down in the elevator together. When
they reached the street the senator inquired in a low tone:

"Do you think they really believed Rossmore was influenced in his
decision?"

Ryder glanced from the lowering clouds overhead to his electric
brougham which awaited him at the curb and replied indifferently:

"Not they. They don't care. All they want to believe is that he is
to be impeached. The man was dangerous and had to be removed--no
matter by what means. He is our enemy--my enemy--and I never give
quarter to my enemies!"

As he spoke his prognathous jaw snapped to with a click-like
sound, and in his eyes now coal-black were glints of fire. At the
same instant there was a blinding flash, accompanied by a terrific
crash, and the splinters of the flag-pole on the building
opposite, which had been struck by a bolt, fell at their feet.

"A good or a bad omen?" asked the senator with a nervous laugh. He
was secretly afraid of lightning; but was ashamed to admit it.

"A bad omen for Judge Rossmore!" rejoined Ryder coolly, as he
slammed to the door of the cab, and the two men drove rapidly off
in the direction of Fifth Avenue.



CHAPTER III


Of all the spots on this fair, broad earth where the jaded globe
wanderer, surfeited with hackneyed sight-seeing, may sit in
perfect peace and watch the world go by, there is none more
fascinating nor one presenting a more brilliant panorama of
cosmopolitan life than that famous corner on the Paris boulevards,
formed by the angle of the Boulevard des Capucines and the Place
de l'Opéra. Here, on the "terrace" of the Café de la Paix, with
its white and gold façade and long French windows, and its
innumerable little marble-topped tables and rattan chairs, one may
sit for hours at the trifling expense of a few _sous_, undisturbed
even by the tip-seeking _garçon_, and, if one happens to be a
student of human nature, find keen enjoyment in observing the
world-types, representing every race and nationality under the
sun, that pass and re-pass in a steady, never ceasing, exhaustless
stream. The crowd surges to and fro, past the little tables,
occasionally toppling over a chair or two in the crush, moving up
or down the great boulevards, one procession going to the right,
in the direction of the Church of the Madeleine, the other to the
left heading toward the historic Bastille, both really going
nowhere in particular, but ambling gently and good humouredly
along enjoying the sights--and life!

Paris, queen of cities! Light-hearted, joyous, radiant Paris--the
playground of the nations, the Mecca of the pleasure-seekers, the
city beautiful! Paris--the siren, frankly immoral, always
seductive, ever caressing! City of a thousand political
convulsions, city of a million crimes--her streets have run with
human blood, horrors unspeakable have stained her history, civil
strife has scarred her monuments, the German conqueror insolently
has bivouaced within her walls. Yet, like a virgin undefiled, she
shows no sign of storm and stress, she offers her dimpled cheek to
the rising sun, and when fall the shadows of night and a billion
electric bulbs flash in the siren's crown, her resplendent,
matchless beauty dazzles the world!

As the supreme reward of virtue, the good American is promised a
visit to Paris when he dies. Those, however, of our sagacious
fellow countrymen who can afford to make the trip, usually manage
to see Lutetia before crossing the river Styx. Most Americans like
Paris--some like it so well that they have made it their permanent
home--although it must be added that in their admiration they
rarely include the Frenchman. For that matter, we are not as a
nation particularly fond of any foreigner, largely because we do
not understand him, while the foreigner for his part is quite
willing to return the compliment. He gives the Yankee credit for
commercial smartness, which has built up America's great material
prosperity; but he has the utmost contempt for our acquaintance
with art, and no profound respect for us as scientists.

Is it not indeed fortunate that every nation finds itself superior
to its neighbour? If this were not so each would be jealous of the
other, and would cry with envy like a spoiled child who cannot
have the moon to play with. Happily, therefore, for the harmony of
the world, each nation cordially detests the other and the much
exploited "brotherhood of man" is only a figure of speech. The
Englishman, confident that he is the last word of creation,
despises the Frenchman, who, in turn, laughs at the German, who
shows open contempt for the Italian, while the American, conscious
of his superiority to the whole family of nations, secretly pities
them all.

The most serious fault which the American--whose one god is Mammon
and chief characteristic hustle--has to find with his French
brother is that he enjoys life too much, is never in a hurry and,
what to the Yankee mind is hardly respectable, has a habit of
playing dominoes during business hours. The Frenchman retorts that
his American brother, clever person though he be, has one or two
things still to learn. He has, he declares, no philosophy of life.
It is true that he has learned the trick of making money, but in
the things which go to satisfy the soul he is still strangely
lacking. He thinks he is enjoying life, when really he is ignorant
of what life is. He admits it is not the American's fault, for he
has never been taught how to enjoy life. One must be educated to
that as everything else. All the American is taught is to be in a
perpetual hurry and to make money no matter how. In this mad daily
race for wealth, he bolts his food, not stopping to masticate it
properly, and consequently suffers all his life from dyspepsia. So
he rushes from the cradle to the grave, and what's the good, since
he must one day die like all the rest?

And what, asks the foreigner, has the American hustler
accomplished that his slower-going Continental brother has not
done as well? Are finer cities to be found in America than in
Europe, do Americans paint more beautiful pictures, or write more
learned or more entertaining books, has America made greater
progress in science? Is it not a fact that the greatest inventors
and scientists of our time--Marconi, who gave to the world
wireless telegraphy, Professor Curie, who discovered radium,
Pasteur, who found a cure for rabies, Santos-Dumont, who has
almost succeeded in navigating the air, Professor Röntgen who
discovered the X-ray--are not all these immortals Europeans? And
those two greatest mechanical inventions of our day, the
automobile and the submarine boat, were they not first introduced
and perfected in France before we in America woke up to appreciate
their use? Is it, therefore, not possible to take life easily and
still achieve?

The logic of these arguments, set forth in _Le Soir_ in an article
on the New World, appealed strongly to Jefferson Ryder as he sat
in front of the Café de la Paix, sipping a sugared Vermouth. It
was five o'clock, the magic hour of the _apéritif_, when the
glutton taxes his wits to deceive his stomach and work up an
appetite for renewed gorging. The little tables were all occupied
with the usual before-dinner crowd. There were a good many
foreigners, mostly English and Americans and a few Frenchmen,
obviously from the provinces, with only a sprinkling of real
Parisians.

Jefferson's acquaintance with the French language was none too
profound, and he had to guess at half the words in the article,
but he understood enough to follow the writer's arguments. Yes, it
was quite true, he thought, the American idea of life was all
wrong. What was the sense of slaving all one's life, piling up a
mass of money one cannot possibly spend, when there is only one
life to live? How much saner the man who is content with enough
and enjoys life while he is able to. These Frenchmen, and indeed
all the Continental nations, had solved the problem. The gaiety of
their cities, and this exuberant joy of life they communicated to
all about them, were sufficient proofs of it.

Fascinated by the gay scene around him Jefferson laid the newspaper
aside. To the young American, fresh from prosaic money-mad New
York, the City of Pleasure presented indeed a novel and beautiful
spectacle. How different, he mused, from his own city with its one
fashionable thoroughfare--Fifth Avenue--monotonously lined for miles
with hideous brownstone residences, and showing little real animation
except during the Saturday afternoon parade when the activities of
the smart set, male and female, centred chiefly in such exciting
diversions as going to Huyler's for soda, taking tea at the Waldorf,
and trying to outdo each other in dress and show. New York
certainly was a dull place with all its boasted cosmopolitanism.
There was no denying that. Destitute of any natural beauty,
handicapped by its cramped geographical position between two rivers,
made unsightly by gigantic sky-scrapers and that noisy monstrosity
the Elevated Railroad, having no intellectual interests, no art
interests, no interest in anything not immediately connected with
dollars, it was a city to dwell in and make money in, but hardly a
city to _live_ in. The millionaires were building white-marble
palaces, taxing the ingenuity and the originality of the native
architects, and thus to some extent relieving the general ugliness
and drab commonplaceness, while the merchant princes had begun to
invade the lower end of the avenue with handsome shops. But in
spite of all this, in spite of its pretty girls--and Jefferson
insisted that in this one important particular New York had no
peer--in spite of its comfortable theatres and its wicked
Tenderloin, and its Rialto made so brilliant at night by thousands
of elaborate electric signs, New York still had the subdued air of
a provincial town, compared with the exuberant gaiety, the
multiple attractions, the beauties, natural and artificial, of
cosmopolitan Paris.

The boulevards were crowded, as usual at that hour, and the
crush of both vehicles and pedestrians was so great as to
permit of only a snail-like progress. The clumsy three-horse
omnibuses--Madeleine-Bastille--crowded inside and out with
passengers and with their neatly uniformed drivers and conductors,
so different in appearance and manner from our own slovenly
street-car rowdies, were endeavouring to breast a perfect sea of
_fiacres_ which, like a swarm of mosquitoes, appeared to be trying
to go in every direction at once, their drivers vociferating
torrents of vituperous abuse on every man, woman or beast
unfortunate enough to get in their way. As a dispenser of
unspeakable profanity, the Paris _cocher_ has no equal. He is
unique, no one can approach him. He also enjoys the reputation of
being the worst driver in the world. If there is any possible way
in which he can run down a pedestrian or crash into another
vehicle he will do it, probably for the only reason that it gives
him another opportunity to display his choice stock of picturesque
expletives.

But it was a lively, good-natured crowd and the fashionably gowned
women and the well-dressed men, the fakirs hoarsely crying their
catch-penny devices, the noble boulevards lined as far as the eye
could reach with trees in full foliage, the magnificent Opera
House with its gilded dome glistening in the warm sunshine of a
June afternoon, the broad avenue directly opposite, leading in a
splendid straight line to the famous Palais Royal, the almost
dazzling whiteness of the houses and monuments, the remarkable
cleanliness and excellent condition of the sidewalks and streets,
the gaiety and richness of the shops and restaurants, the
picturesque kiosks where they sold newspapers and flowers--all
this made up a picture so utterly unlike anything he was familiar
with at home that Jefferson sat spellbound, delighted.

Yes, it was true, he thought, the foreigner had indeed learned the
secret of enjoying life. There was assuredly something else in the
world beyond mere money-getting. His father was a slave to it, but
he would never be. He was resolved on that. Yet, with all his
ideas of emancipation and progress, Jefferson was a thoroughly
practical young man. He fully understood the value of money, and
the possession of it was as sweet to him as to other men. Only he
would never soil his soul in acquiring it dishonourably. He was
convinced that society as at present organized was all wrong and
that the feudalism of the middle ages had simply given place to a
worse form of slavery--capitalistic driven labour--which had
resulted in the actual iniquitous conditions, the enriching of the
rich and the impoverishment of the poor. He was familiar with the
socialistic doctrines of the day and had taken a keen interest in
this momentous question, this dream of a regenerated mankind. He
had read Karl Marx and other socialistic writers, and while his
essentially practical mind could hardly approve all their
programme for reorganizing the State, some of which seemed to him
utopian, extravagant and even undesirable, he realised that the
socialistic movement was growing rapidly all over the world and
the day was not far distant when in America, as to-day in Germany
and France, it would be a formidable factor to reckon with.

But until the socialistic millennium arrived and society was
reorganized, money, he admitted, would remain the lever of the
world, the great stimulus to effort. Money supplied not only the
necessities of life but also its luxuries, everything the material
desire craved for, and so long as money had this magic purchasing
power, so long would men lie and cheat and rob and kill for its
possession. Was life worth living without money? Could one travel
and enjoy the glorious spectacles Nature affords--the rolling
ocean, the majestic mountains, the beautiful lakes, the noble
rivers--without money? Could the book-lover buy books, the
art-lover purchase pictures? Could one have fine houses to live
in, or all sorts of modern conveniences to add to one's comfort,
without money? The philosophers declared contentment to be
happiness, arguing that the hod-carrier was likely to be happier
in his hut than the millionaire in his palace; but was not that
mere animal contentment, the happiness which knows no higher
state, the ignorance of one whose eyes have never been raised to
the heights?

No, Jefferson was no fool. He loved money for what pleasure,
intellectual or physical, it could give him, but he would never
allow money to dominate his life as his father had done. His
father, he knew well, was not a happy man, neither happy himself
nor respected by the world. He had toiled all his life to make his
vast fortune and now he toiled to take care of it. The galley
slave led a life of luxurious ease compared with John Burkett
Ryder. Baited by the yellow newspapers and magazines, investigated
by State committees, dogged by process-servers, haunted by
beggars, harassed by blackmailers, threatened by kidnappers,
frustrated in his attempts to bestow charity by the cry "tainted
money"--certainly the lot of the world's richest man was far from
being an enviable one.

That is why Jefferson had resolved to strike out for himself. He
had warded off the golden yoke which his father proposed to put on
his shoulders, declining the lucrative position made for him in
the Empire Trading Company, and he had gone so far as to refuse
also the private income his father offered to settle on him. He
would earn his own living. A man who has his bread buttered for
him seldom accomplishes anything he had said, and while his father
had appeared to be angry at this open opposition to his will, he
was secretly pleased at his son's grit. Jefferson was thoroughly
in earnest. If needs be, he would forego the great fortune that
awaited him rather than be forced into questionable business
methods against which his whole manhood revolted.

Jefferson Ryder felt strongly about these matters, and gave them
more thought than would be expected of most young men with his
opportunities. In fact, he was unusually serious for his age. He
was not yet thirty, but he had done a great deal of reading, and
he took a keen interest in all the political and sociological
questions of the hour. In personal appearance, he was the type of
man that both men and women like--tall and athletic looking, with
smooth face and clean-cut features. He had the steel-blue eyes and
the fighting jaw of his father, and when he smiled he displayed
two even rows of very white teeth. He was popular with men, being
manly, frank and cordial in his relations with them, and women
admired him greatly, although they were somewhat intimidated by
his grave and serious manner. The truth was that he was rather
diffident with women, largely owing to lack of experience with
them.

He had never felt the slightest inclination for business. He had
the artistic temperament strongly developed, and his personal
tastes had little in common with Wall Street and its feverish
stock manipulating. When he was younger, he had dreamed of a
literary or art career. At one time he had even thought of going
on the stage. But it was to art that he turned finally. From an
early age he had shown considerable skill as a draughtsman, and
later a two years' course at the Academy of Design convinced him
that this was his true vocation. He had begun by illustrating for
the book publishers and for the magazines, meeting at first with
the usual rebuffs and disappointments, but, refusing to be
discouraged, he had kept on and soon the tide turned. His drawings
began to be accepted. They appeared first in one magazine, then in
another, until one day, to his great joy, he received an order
from an important firm of publishers for six wash-drawings to be
used in illustrating a famous novel. This was the beginning of his
real success. His illustrations were talked about almost as much
as the book, and from that time on everything was easy. He was in
great demand by the publishers, and very soon the young artist,
who had begun his career of independence on nothing a year so to
speak, found himself in a handsomely appointed studio in Bryant
Park, with more orders coming in than he could possibly fill, and
enjoying an income of little less than $5,000 a year. The money
was all the sweeter to Jefferson in that he felt he had himself
earned every cent of it. This summer he was giving himself a
well-deserved vacation, and he had come to Europe partly to see
Paris and the other art centres about which his fellow students at
the Academy raved, but principally--although this he did not
acknowledge even to himself--to meet in Paris a young woman in
whom he was more than ordinarily interested--Shirley Rossmore,
daughter of Judge Rossmore, of the United States Supreme Court,
who had come abroad to recuperate after the labours on her new
novel, "The American Octopus," a book which was then the talk of
two hemispheres.

Jefferson had read half a dozen reviews of it in as many American
papers that afternoon at the _New York Herald's_ reading room in
the Avenue de l'Opéra, and he chuckled with glee as he thought how
accurately this young woman had described his father. The book had
been published under the pseudonym "Shirley Green," and he alone
had been admitted into the secret of authorship. The critics all
conceded that it was the book of the year, and that it portrayed
with a pitiless pen the personality of the biggest figure in the
commercial life of America. "Although," wrote one reviewer, "the
leading character in the book is given another name, there can be
no doubt that the author intended to give to the world a vivid pen
portrait of John Burkett Ryder. She has succeeded in presenting a
remarkable character-study of the most remarkable man of his
time."

He was particularly pleased with the reviews, not only for Miss
Rossmore's sake, but also because his own vanity was gratified. Had
he not collaborated on the book to the extent of acquainting the
author with details of his father's life, and his characteristics,
which no outsider could possibly have learned? There had been no
disloyalty to his father in doing this. Jefferson admired his
father's smartness, if he could not approve his methods. He did
not consider the book an attack on his father, but rather a
powerfully written pen picture of an extraordinary man.

Jefferson had met Shirley Rossmore two years before at a meeting
of the Schiller Society, a pseudo-literary organization gotten up
by a lot of old fogies for no useful purpose, and at whose monthly
meetings the poet who gave the society its name was probably the
last person to be discussed. He had gone out of curiosity, anxious
to take in all the freak shows New York had to offer, and he had
been introduced to a tall girl with a pale, thoughtful face and
firm mouth. She was a writer, Miss Rossmore told him, and this was
her first visit also to the evening receptions of the Schiller
Society. Half apologetically she added that it was likely to be
her last, for, frankly, she was bored to death. But she explained
that she had to go to these affairs, as she found them useful in
gathering material for literary use. She studied types and
eccentric characters, and this seemed to her a capital hunting
ground. Jefferson, who, as a rule, was timid with girls and
avoided them, found this girl quite unlike the others he had
known. Her quiet, forceful demeanour appealed to him strongly, and
he lingered with her, chatting about his work, which had so many
interests in common with her own, until refreshments were served,
when the affair broke up. This first meeting had been followed by
a call at the Rossmore residence, and the acquaintance had kept up
until Jefferson, for the first time since he came to manhood, was
surprised and somewhat alarmed at finding himself strangely and
unduly interested in a person of the opposite sex.

The young artist's courteous manner, his serious outlook on life,
his high moral principles, so rarely met with nowadays in young
men of his age and class, could hardly fail to appeal to Shirley,
whose ideals of men had been somewhat rudely shattered by those
she had hitherto met. Above all, she demanded in a man the
refinement of the true gentleman, together with strength of
character and personal courage. That Jefferson Ryder came up to
this standard she was soon convinced. He was certainly a
gentleman: his views on a hundred topics of the hour expressed in
numerous conversations assured her as to his principles, while a
glance at his powerful physique left no doubt possible as to his
courage. She rightly guessed that this was no _poseur_ trying to
make an impression and gain her confidence. There was an
unmistakable ring of sincerity in all his words, and his struggle
at home with his father, and his subsequent brave and successful
fight for his own independence and self-respect, more than
substantiated all her theories. And the more Shirley let her mind
dwell on Jefferson Ryder and his blue eyes and serious manner, the
more conscious she became that the artist was encroaching more
upon her thoughts and time than was good either for her work or
for herself.

So their casual acquaintance grew into a real friendship and
comradeship. Further than that Shirley promised herself it should
never go. Not that Jefferson had given her the slightest hint that
he entertained the idea of making her his wife one day, only she
was sophisticated enough to know the direction in which run the
minds of men who are abnormally interested in one girl, and long
before this Shirley had made up her mind that she would never
marry. Firstly, she was devoted to her father and could not bear
the thought of ever leaving him; secondly, she was fascinated by
her literary work and she was practical enough to know that
matrimony, with its visions of slippers and cradles, would be
fatal to any ambition of that kind. She liked Jefferson
immensely--more, perhaps, than any man she had yet met--and she
did not think any the less of him because of her resolve not to
get entangled in the meshes of Cupid. In any case he had not asked
her to marry him--perhaps the idea was far from his thoughts.
Meantime, she could enjoy his friendship freely without fear of
embarrassing entanglements.

When, therefore, she first conceived the idea of portraying in the
guise of fiction the personality of John Burkett Ryder, the
Colossus of finance whose vast and ever-increasing fortune was
fast becoming a public nuisance, she naturally turned to Jefferson
for assistance. She wanted to write a book that would be talked
about, and which at the same time would open the eyes of the
public to this growing peril in their midst--this monster of
insensate and unscrupulous greed who, by sheer weight of his
ill-gotten gold, was corrupting legislators and judges and trying
to enslave the nation. The book, she argued, would perform a
public service in awakening all to the common danger. Jefferson
fully entered into her views and had furnished her with the
information regarding his father that she deemed of value. The
book had proven a success beyond their most sanguine expectations,
and Shirley had come to Europe for a rest after the many weary
months of work that it took to write it.

The acquaintance of his son with the daughter of Judge Rossmore
had not escaped the eagle eye of Ryder, Sr., and much to the
financier's annoyance, and even consternation, he had ascertained
that Jefferson was a frequent caller at the Rossmore home. He
immediately jumped to the conclusion that this could mean only one
thing, and fearing what he termed "the consequences of the insanity
of immature minds," he had summoned Jefferson peremptorily to his
presence. He told his son that all idea of marriage in that
quarter was out of the question for two reasons: One was that
Judge Rossmore was his most bitter enemy, the other was that he
had hoped to see his son, his destined successor, marry a woman of
whom he, Ryder, Sr., could approve. He knew of such a woman, one
who would make a far more desirable mate than Miss Rossmore. He
alluded, of course, to Kate Roberts, the pretty daughter of his
old friend, the Senator. The family interests would benefit by
this alliance, which was desirable from every point of view.
Jefferson had listened respectfully until his father had finished
and then grimly remarked that only one point of view had been
overlooked--his own. He did not care for Miss Roberts; he did not
think she really cared for him. The marriage was out of the
question. Whereupon Ryder, Sr., had fumed and raged, declaring
that Jefferson was opposing his will as he always did, and ending
with the threat that if his son married Shirley Rossmore without
his consent he would disinherit him.

Jefferson was cogitating on these incidents of the last few months
when suddenly a feminine voice which he quickly recognised called
out in English:

"Hello! Mr. Ryder."

He looked up and saw two ladies, one young, the other middle aged,
smiling at him from an open _fiacre_ which had drawn up to the
curb. Jefferson jumped from his seat, upsetting his chair and
startling two nervous Frenchmen in his hurry, and hastened out,
hat in hand.

"Why, Miss Rossmore, what are you doing out driving?" he asked.
"You know you and Mrs. Blake promised to dine with me to-night. I
was coming round to the hotel in a few moments."

Mrs. Blake was a younger sister of Shirley's mother. Her husband
had died a few years previously, leaving her a small income, and
when she had heard of her niece's contemplated trip to Europe she
had decided to come to Paris to meet her and incidentally to
chaperone her. The two women were stopping at the Grand Hotel
close by, while Jefferson had found accommodations at the Athénée.

Shirley explained. Her aunt wanted to go to the dressmaker's, and
she herself was most anxious to go to the Luxembourg Gardens to
hear the music. Would he take her? Then they could meet Mrs. Blake
at the hotel at seven o'clock and all go to dinner. Was he
willing?

Was he? Jefferson's face fairly glowed. He ran back to his table
on the _terrasse_ to settle for his Vermouth, astonished the
waiter by not stopping to notice the short change he gave him, and
rushed back to the carriage.

A dirty little Italian girl, shrewd enough to note the young man's
attention to the younger of the American women, wheedled up to the
carriage and thrust a bunch of flowers in Jefferson's face.

"_Achetez des fleurs, monsieur, pour la jolie dame?_"

Down went Jefferson's hand in his pocket and, filling the child's
hand with small silver, he flung the flowers in the carriage. Then
he turned inquiringly to Shirley for instructions so he could
direct the _cocher_. Mrs. Blake said she would get out here. Her
dressmaker was close by, in the Rue Auber, and she would walk back
to the hotel to meet them at seven o'clock. Jefferson assisted her
to alight and escorted her as far as the _porte-cochère_ of the
modiste's, a couple of doors away. When he returned to the
carriage, Shirley had already told the coachman where to go. He
got in and the _fiacre_ started.

"Now," said Shirley, "tell me what you have been doing with
yourself all day."

Jefferson was busily arranging the faded carriage rug about
Shirley, spending more time in the task perhaps than was
absolutely necessary, and she had to repeat the question.

"Doing?" he echoed with a smile, "I've been doing two
things--waiting impatiently for seven o'clock and incidentally
reading the notices of your book."



CHAPTER IV


"Tell me, what do the papers say?"

Settling herself comfortably back in the carriage, Shirley
questioned Jefferson with eagerness, even anxiety. She had been
impatiently awaiting the arrival of the newspapers from "home,"
for so much depended on this first effort. She knew her book had
been praised in some quarters, and her publishers had written her
that the sales were bigger every day, but she was curious to learn
how it had been received by the reviewers.

In truth, it had been no slight achievement for a young writer of
her inexperience, a mere tyro in literature, to attract so much
attention with her first book. The success almost threatened to
turn her head, she had told her aunt laughingly, although she was
sure it could never do that. She fully realized that it was the
subject rather than the skill of the narrator that counted in the
book's success, also the fact that it had come out at a timely
moment, when the whole world was talking of the Money Peril. Had
not President Roosevelt, in a recent sensational speech, declared
that it might be necessary for the State to curb the colossal
fortunes of America, and was not her hero, John Burkett Ryder, the
richest of them all? Any way they looked at it, the success of the
book was most gratifying.

While she was an attractive, aristocratic-looking girl, Shirley
Rossmore had no serious claims to academic beauty. Her features
were irregular, and the firm and rather thin mouth lines disturbed
the harmony indispensable to plastic beauty. Yet there was in her
face something far more appealing--soul and character. The face of
the merely beautiful woman expresses nothing, promises nothing. It
presents absolutely no key to the soul within, and often there is
no soul within to have a key to. Perfect in its outlines and
coloring, it is a delight to gaze upon, just as is a flawless
piece of sculpture, yet the delight is only fleeting. One soon
grows satiated, no matter how beautiful the face may be, because
it is always the same, expressionless and soulless. "Beauty is
only skin deep," said the philosopher, and no truer dictum was
ever uttered. The merely beautiful woman, who possesses only
beauty and nothing else, is kept so busy thinking of her looks,
and is so anxious to observe the impression her beauty makes on
others, that she has neither the time nor the inclination for
matters of greater importance. Sensible men, as a rule, do not
lose their hearts to women whose only assets are their good looks.
They enjoy a flirtation with them, but seldom care to make them
their wives. The marrying man is shrewd enough to realize that
domestic virtues will be more useful in his household economy than
all the academic beauty ever chiselled out of block marble.

Shirley was not beautiful, but hers was a face that never failed
to attract attention. It was a thoughtful and interesting face,
with an intellectual brow and large, expressive eyes, the face of
a woman who had both brain power and ideals, and yet who, at the
same time, was in perfect sympathy with the world. She was fair in
complexion, and her fine brown eyes, alternately reflective and
alert, were shaded by long dark lashes. Her eyebrows were
delicately arched, and she had a good nose. She wore her hair well
off the forehead, which was broader than in the average woman,
suggesting good mentality. Her mouth, however, was her strongest
feature. It was well shaped, but there were firm lines about it
that suggested unusual will power. Yet it smiled readily, and when
it did there was an agreeable vision of strong, healthy-looking
teeth of dazzling whiteness. She was a little over medium height
and slender in figure, and carried herself with that unmistakable
air of well-bred independence that bespeaks birth and culture. She
dressed stylishly, and while her gowns were of rich material, and
of a cut suggesting expensive modistes, she was always so quietly
attired and in such perfect taste, that after leaving her one
could never recall what she had on.

At the special request of Shirley, who wanted to get a glimpse of
the Latin Quarter, the driver took a course down the Avenue de
l'Opéra, that magnificent thoroughfare which starts at the Opéra
and ends at the Théâtre Français, and which, like many others that
go to the beautifying of the capital, the Parisians owe to the
much-despised Napoleon III. The cab, Jefferson told her, would
skirt the Palais Royal and follow the Rue de Rivoli until it came
to the Châtelet, when it would cross the Seine and drive up the
Boulevard St. Michel--the students' boulevard--until it reached
the Luxembourg Gardens. Like most of his kind, the _cocher_ knew
less than nothing of the art of driving, and he ran a reckless,
zig-zag flight, in and out, forcing his way through a confusing
maze of vehicles of every description, pulling first to the right,
then to the left, for no good purpose that was apparent, and
averting only by the narrowest of margins half a dozen bad
collisions. At times the _fiacre_ lurched in such alarming fashion
that Shirley was visibly perturbed, but when Jefferson assured her
that all Paris cabs travelled in this crazy fashion and nothing
ever happened, she was comforted.

"Tell me," he repeated, "what do the papers say about the book?"

"Say?" he echoed. "Why, simply that you've written the biggest
book of the year, that's all!"

"Really! Oh, do tell me all they said!" She was fairly excited
now, and in her enthusiasm she grasped Jefferson's broad, sunburnt
hand which was lying outside the carriage rug. He tried to appear
unconscious of the contact, which made his every nerve tingle, as
he proceeded to tell her the gist of the reviews he had read that
afternoon.

"Isn't that splendid!" she exclaimed, when he had finished. Then
she added quickly:

"I wonder if your father has seen it?"

Jefferson grinned. He had something on his conscience, and this
was a good opportunity to get rid of it. He replied laconically:

"He probably has read it by this time. I sent him a copy myself."

The instant the words were out of his mouth he was sorry, for
Shirley's face had changed colour.

"You sent him a copy of 'The American Octopus'?" she cried. "Then
he'll guess who wrote the book."

"Oh, no, he won't," rejoined Jefferson calmly. "He has no idea who
sent it to him. I mailed it anonymously."

Shirley breathed a sigh of relief. It was so important that her
identity should remain a secret. As daughter of a Supreme Court
judge she had to be most careful. She would not embarrass her
father for anything in the world. But it was smart of Jefferson to
have sent Ryder, Sr., the book, so she smiled graciously on his
son as she asked:

"How do you know he got it? So many letters and packages are sent
to him that he never sees himself."

"Oh, he saw your book all right," laughed Jefferson. "I was around
the house a good deal before sailing, and one day I caught him in
the library reading it."

They both laughed, feeling like mischievous children who had
played a successful trick on the hokey-pokey man. Jefferson noted
his companion's pretty dimples and fine teeth, and he thought how
attractive she was, and stronger and stronger grew the idea within
him that this was the woman who was intended by Nature to share
his life. Her slender hand still covered his broad, sunburnt one,
and he fancied he felt a slight pressure. But he was mistaken. Not
the slightest sentiment entered into Shirley's thoughts of
Jefferson. She regarded him only as a good comrade with whom she
had secrets she confided in no one else. To that extent and to
that extent alone he was privileged above other men. Suddenly he
asked her:

"Have you heard from home recently?"

A soft light stole into the girl's face. Home! Ah, that was all
she needed to make her cup of happiness full. Intoxicated with
this new sensation of a first literary success, full of the keen
pleasure this visit to the beautiful city was giving her, bubbling
over with the joy of life, happy in the almost daily companionship
of the man she liked most in the world after her father, there was
only one thing lacking--home! She had left New York only a month
before, and she was homesick already. Her father she missed most.
She was fond of her mother, too, but the latter, being somewhat of
a nervous invalid, had never been to her quite what her father had
been. The playmate of her childhood, companion of her girlhood,
her friend and adviser in womanhood, Judge Rossmore was to his
daughter the ideal man and father. Answering Jefferson's question
she said:

"I had a letter from father last week. Everything was going on at
home as when I left. Father says he misses me sadly, and that
mother is ailing as usual."

She smiled, and Jefferson smiled too. They both knew by experience
that nothing really serious ailed Mrs. Rossmore, who was a good
deal of a hypochondriac, and always so filled with aches and pains
that, on the few occasions when she really felt well, she was
genuinely alarmed.

The _fiacre_ by this time had emerged from the Rue de Rivoli and
was rolling smoothly along the fine wooden pavement in front of
the historic Conciergerie prison where Marie Antoinette was
confined before her execution. Presently they recrossed the Seine,
and the cab, dodging the tram car rails, proceeded at a smart pace
up the "Boul' Mich'," which is the familiar diminutive bestowed by
the students upon that broad avenue which traverses the very heart
of their beloved _Quartier Latin_. On the left frowned the
scholastic walls of the learned Sorbonne, in the distance towered
the majestic dome of the Panthéon where Rousseau, Voltaire and
Hugo lay buried.

Like most of the principal arteries of the French capital, the
boulevard was generously lined with trees, now in full bloom, and
the sidewalks fairly seethed with a picturesque throng in which
mingled promiscuously frivolous students, dapper shop clerks,
sober citizens, and frisky, flirtatious little _ouvrières_, these
last being all hatless, as is characteristic of the workgirl
class, but singularly attractive in their neat black dresses and
dainty low-cut shoes. There was also much in evidence another type
of female whose extravagance of costume and boldness of manner
loudly proclaimed her ancient profession.

On either side of the boulevard were shops and cafés, mostly
cafés, with every now and then a _brasserie_, or beer hall. Seated
in front of these establishments, taking their ease as if beer
sampling constituted the only real interest in their lives, were
hundreds of students, reckless and dare-devil, and suggesting
almost anything except serious study. They all wore frock coats
and tall silk hats, and some of the latter were wonderful
specimens of the hatter's art. A few of the more eccentric
students had long hair down to their shoulders, and wore baggy
peg-top trousers of extravagant cut, which hung in loose folds
over their sharp-pointed boots. On their heads were queer plug
hats with flat brims.

Shirley laughed outright and regretted that she did not have her
kodak to take back to America some idea of their grotesque
appearance, and she listened with amused interest as Jefferson
explained that these men were notorious _poseurs_, aping the dress
and manners of the old-time student as he flourished in the days
of Randolph and Mimi and the other immortal characters of Murger's
Bohemia. Nobody took them seriously except themselves, and for the
most part they were bad rhymesters of decadent verse. Shirley was
astonished to see so many of them busily engaged smoking
cigarettes and imbibing glasses of a pale-green beverage, which
Jefferson told her was absinthe.

"When do they read?" she asked. "When do they attend lectures?"

"Oh," laughed Jefferson, "only the old-fashioned students take
their studies seriously. Most of the men you see there are from
the provinces, seeing Paris for the first time, and having their
fling. Incidentally they are studying life. When they have sown
their wild oats and learned all about life--provided they are
still alive and have any money left--they will begin to study
books. You would be surprised to know how many of these young men,
who have been sent to the University at a cost of goodness knows
what sacrifices, return to their native towns in a few months
wrecked in body and mind, without having once set foot in a
lecture room, and, in fact, having done nothing except inscribe
their names on the rolls."

Shirley was glad she knew no such men, and if she ever married and
had a son she would pray God to spare her that grief and
humiliation. She herself knew something about the sacrifices
parents make to secure a college education for their children. Her
father had sent her to Vassar. She was a product of the
much-sneered-at higher education for women, and all her life she
would be grateful for the advantages given her. Her liberal
education had broadened her outlook on life and enabled her to
accomplish the little she had. When she graduated her father had
left her free to follow her own inclinations. She had little taste
for social distractions, and still she could not remain idle. For
a time she thought of teaching to occupy her mind, but she knew
she lacked the necessary patience, and she could not endure the
drudgery of it, so, having won honors at college in English
composition, she determined to try her hand at literature. She
wrote a number of essays and articles on a hundred different
subjects which she sent to the magazines, but they all came back
with politely worded excuses for their rejection. But Shirley kept
right on. She knew she wrote well; it must be that her subjects
were not suitable. So she adopted new tactics, and persevered
until one day came a letter of acceptance from the editor of one
of the minor magazines. They would take the article offered--a
sketch of college life--and as many more in similar vein as Miss
Rossmore could write. This success had been followed by other
acceptances and other commissions, until at the present time she
was a well-known writer for the leading publications. Her great
ambition had been to write a book, and "The American Octopus,"
published under an assumed name, was the result.

The cab stopped suddenly in front of beautiful gilded gates. It
was the Luxembourg, and through the tall railings they caught a
glimpse of well-kept lawns, splashing fountains and richly dressed
children playing. From the distance came the stirring strains of a
brass band.

The coachman drove up to the curb and Jefferson jumped down,
assisting Shirley to alight. In spite of Shirley's protest
Jefferson insisted on paying.

"_Combien?_" he asked the _cocher_.

The jehu, a surly, thick-set man with a red face and small,
cunning eyes like a ferret, had already sized up his fares for two
_sacré_ foreigners whom it would be flying in the face of
Providence not to cheat, so with unblushing effrontery he
answered:

"_Dix francs, Monsieur!_" And he held up ten fingers by way of
illustration.

Jefferson was about to hand up a ten-franc piece when Shirley
indignantly interfered. She would not submit to such an
imposition. There was a regular tariff and she would pay that and
nothing more. So, in better French than was at Jefferson's
command, she exclaimed:

"Ten francs? _Pourquoi dix francs?_ I took your cab by the hour.
It is exactly two hours. That makes four francs." Then to
Jefferson she added: "Give him a franc for a _pourboire_--that
makes five francs altogether."

Jefferson, obedient to her superior wisdom, held out a five-franc
piece, but the driver shrugged his shoulders disdainfully. He saw
that the moment had come to bluster so he descended from his box
fully prepared to carry out his bluff. He started in to abuse the
two Americans whom in his ignorance he took for English.

"Ah, you _sale Anglais_! You come to France to cheat the poor
Frenchman. You make me work all afternoon and then pay me nothing.
Not with this coco! I know my rights and I'll get them, too."

All this was hurled at them in a patois French, almost
unintelligible to Shirley, and wholly so to Jefferson. All he knew
was that the fellow's attitude was becoming unbearably insolent
and he stepped forward with a gleam in his eye that might have
startled the man had he not been so busy shaking his fist at
Shirley. But she saw Jefferson's movement and laid her hand on his
arm.

"No, no, Mr. Ryder--no scandal, please. Look, people are beginning
to come up! Leave him to me. I know how to manage him."

With this the daughter of a United States Supreme Court judge
proceeded to lay down the law to the representative of the most
lazy and irresponsible class of men ever let loose in the streets
of a civilised community. Speaking with an air of authority, she
said:

"Now look here, my man, we have no time to bandy words here with
you. I took your cab at 3.30. It is now 5.30. That makes two
hours. The rate is two francs an hour, or four francs in all. We
offer you five francs, and this includes a franc _pourboire_. If
this settlement does not suit you we will get into your cab and
you will drive us to the nearest police-station where the argument
can be continued."

The man's jaw dropped. He was obviously outclassed. These
foreigners knew the law as well as he did. He had no desire to
accept Shirley's suggestion of a trip to the police-station, where
he knew he would get little sympathy, so, grumbling and giving
vent under his breath to a volley of strange oaths, he grabbed
viciously at the five-franc piece Jefferson held out and, mounting
his box, drove off.

Proud of their victory, they entered the gardens, following the
sweet-scented paths until they came to where the music was. The
band of an infantry regiment was playing, and a large crowd had
gathered. Many people were sitting on the chairs provided for
visitors for the modest fee of two sous; others were promenading
round and round a great circle having the musicians in its centre.
The dense foliage of the trees overhead afforded a perfect shelter
from the hot rays of the sun, and the place was so inviting and
interesting, so cool and so full of sweet perfumes and sounds,
appealing to and satisfying the senses, that Shirley wished they
had more time to spend there. She was very fond of a good brass
band, especially when heard in the open air. They were playing
Strauss's _Blue Danube_, and the familiar strains of the
delightful waltz were so infectious that both were seized by a
desire to get up and dance.

There was constant amusement, too, watching the crowd, with its
many original and curious types. There were serious college
professors, with gold-rimmed spectacles, buxom _nounous_ in their
uniform cloaks and long ribbon streamers, nicely dressed children
romping merrily but not noisily, more queer-looking students in
shabby frock coats, tight at the waist, trousers too short, and
comical hats, stylishly dressed women displaying the latest
fashions, brilliantly uniformed army officers strutting proudly,
dangling their swords--an attractive and interesting crowd, so
different, thought the two Americans, from the cheap, evil-smelling,
ill-mannered mob of aliens that invades their own Central Park the
days when there is music, making it a nuisance instead of a pleasure.
Here everyone belonged apparently to the better class; the women
and children were richly and fashionably dressed, the officers
looked smart in their multi-coloured uniforms, and, no matter how
one might laugh at the students, there was an atmosphere of
good-breeding and refinement everywhere which Shirley was not
accustomed to see in public places at home. A sprinkling of
workmen and people of the poorer class were to be seen here and
there, but they were in the decided minority. Shirley, herself a
daughter of the Revolution, was a staunch supporter of the
immortal principles of Democracy and of the equality of man before
the law. But all other talk of equality was the greatest sophistry
and charlatanism. There could be no real equality so long as some
people were cultured and refined and others were uneducated and
vulgar. Shirley believed in an aristocracy of brains and soap. She
insisted that no clean person, no matter how good a democrat,
should be expected to sit close in public places to persons who
were not on speaking terms with the bath-tub. In America this
foolish theory of a democracy, which insists on throwing all
classes, the clean and the unclean, promiscuously together, was
positively revolting, making travelling in the public vehicles
almost impossible, and it was not much better in the public parks.
In France--also a Republic--where they likewise paraded conspicuously
the clap-trap "Egalité, Fraternité," they managed these things far
better. The French lower classes knew their place. They did not
ape the dress, nor frequent the resorts of those above them in the
social scale. The distinction between the classes was plainly and
properly marked, yet this was not antagonistic to the ideal of
true democracy; it had not prevented the son of a peasant from
becoming President of the French Republic. Each district in Paris
had its own amusement, its own theatres, its own parks. It was not
a question of capital refusing to fraternize with labour, but the
very natural desire of persons of refinement to mingle with clean
people rather than to rub elbows with the Great Unwashed.

"Isn't it delightful here?" said Shirley. "I could stay here
forever, couldn't you?"

"With you--yes," answered Jefferson, with a significant smile.

Shirley tried to look angry. She strictly discouraged these
conventional, sentimental speeches which constantly flung her sex
in her face.

"Now, you know I don't like you to talk that way, Mr. Ryder. It's
most undignified. Please be sensible."

Quite subdued, Jefferson relapsed into a sulky silence. Presently
he said:

"I wish you wouldn't call me Mr. Ryder. I meant to ask you this
before. You know very well that you've no great love for the name,
and if you persist you'll end by including me in your hatred of
the hero of your book."

Shirley looked at him with amused curiosity.

"What do you mean?" she asked. "What do you want me to call you?"

"Oh, I don't know," he stammered, rather intimidated by this
self-possessed young woman who looked him calmly through and
through. "Why not call me Jefferson? Mr. Ryder is so formal."

Shirley laughed outright, a merry, unrestrained peal of honest
laughter, which made the passers-by turn their heads and smile,
too, commenting the while on the stylish appearance of the two
Americans whom they took for sweethearts. After all, reasoned
Shirley, he was right. They had been together now nearly every
hour in the day for over a month. It was absurd to call him Mr.
Ryder. So, addressing him with mock gravity, she said:

"You're right, Mr. Ryder--I mean Jefferson. You're quite right.
You are Jefferson from this time on, only remember"--here she
shook her gloved finger at him warningly--"mind you behave
yourself! No more such sentimental speeches as you made just now."

Jefferson beamed. He felt at least two inches taller, and at that
moment he would not have changed places with any one in the world.
To hide the embarrassment his gratification caused him he pulled
out his watch and exclaimed:

"Why, it's a quarter past six. We shall have all we can do to get
back to the hotel and dress for dinner."

Shirley rose at once, although loath to leave.

"I had no idea it was so late," she said. "How the time flies!"
Then mockingly she added: "Come, Jefferson--be a good boy and find
a cab."

They passed out of the Gardens by the gate facing the Théâtre de
l'Odéon, where there was a long string of _fiacres_ for hire. They
got into one and in fifteen minutes they were back at the Grand
Hotel.

At the office they told Shirley that her aunt had already come in
and gone to her room, so she hurried upstairs to dress for dinner
while Jefferson proceeded to the Hotel de l'Athénée on the same
mission. He had still twenty-five minutes before dinner time, and
he needed only ten minutes for a wash and to jump into his dress
suit, so, instead of going directly to his hotel, he sat down at
the Café de la Paix. He was thirsty, and calling for a vermouth
_frappé_ he told the _garçon_ to bring him also the American
papers.

The crowd on the boulevard was denser than ever. The business
offices and some of the shops were closing, and a vast army of
employés, homeward bound, helped to swell the sea of humanity that
pushed this way and that.

But Jefferson had no eyes for the crowd. He was thinking of
Shirley. What singular, mysterious power had this girl acquired
over him? He, who had scoffed at the very idea of marriage only a
few months before, now desired it ardently, anxiously! Yes, that
was what his life lacked--such a woman to be his companion and
helpmate! He loved her--there was no doubt of that. His every
thought, waking and sleeping, was of her, all his plans for the
future included her. He would win her if any man could. But did
she care for him? Ah, that was the cruel, torturing uncertainty!
She appeared cold and indifferent, but perhaps she was only trying
him. Certainly she did not seem to dislike him.

The waiter returned with the vermouth and the newspapers. All he
could find were the London _Times_, which he pronounced T-e-e-m-s,
and some issues of the _New York Herald_. The papers were nearly a
month old, but he did not care for that. Jefferson idly turned
over the pages of the _Herald_. His thoughts were still running on
Shirley, and he was paying little attention to what he was
reading. Suddenly, however, his eyes rested on a headline which
made him sit up with a start. It read as follows:

                   JUDGE ROSSMORE IMPEACHED

          JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT TO BE TRIED ON
                        BRIBERY CHARGES

The despatch, which was dated Washington two weeks back, went on
to say that serious charges affecting the integrity of Judge
Rossmore had been made the subject of Congressional inquiry, and
that the result of the inquiry was so grave that a demand for
impeachment would be at once sent to the Senate. It added that the
charges grew out of the recent decision in the Great Northwestern
Mining Company case, it being alleged that Judge Rossmore had
accepted a large sum of money on condition of his handing down a
decision favourable to the company.

Jefferson was thunderstruck. He read the despatch over again to
make sure there was no mistake. No, it was very plain--Judge
Rossmore of Madison Avenue. But how preposterous, what a calumny!
The one judge on the bench at whom one could point and say with
absolute conviction: "There goes an honest man!" And this judge
was to be tried on a charge of bribery! What could be the meaning
of it? Something terrible must have happened since Shirley's
departure from home, that was certain. It meant her immediate
return to the States and, of course, his own. He would see what
could be done. He would make his father use his great influence.
But how could he tell Shirley? Impossible, he could not! She would
not believe him if he did. She would probably hear from home in
some other way. They might cable. In any case he would say nothing
yet. He paid for his vermouth and hurried away to his hotel to
dress.

It was just striking seven when he re-entered the courtyard of the
Grand Hotel. Shirley and Mrs. Blake were waiting for him.
Jefferson suggested having dinner at the Café de Paris, but
Shirley objected that as the weather was warm it would be more
pleasant to dine in the open air, so they finally decided on the
Pavilion d'Armonville where there was music and where they could
have a little table to themselves in the garden.

They drove up the stately Champs Elysées, past the monumental Arc
de Triomphe, and from there down to the Bois. All were singularly
quiet. Mrs. Blake was worrying about her new gown, Shirley was
tired, and Jefferson could not banish from his mind the terrible
news he had just read. He avoided looking at Shirley until the
latter noticed it and thought she must have offended him in some
way. She was more sorry than she would have him know, for, with
all her apparent coldness, Jefferson was rapidly becoming very
indispensable to her happiness.

They dined sumptuously and delightfully with all the luxury of
surroundings and all the delights of cooking that the French
culinary art can perfect. A single glass of champagne had put
Shirley in high spirits and she had tried hard to communicate some
of her good humour to Jefferson who, despite all her efforts,
remained quiet and preoccupied. Finally losing patience she asked
him bluntly:

"Jefferson, what's the matter with you to-night? You've been sulky
as a bear all evening."

Pleased to see she had not forgotten their compact of the
afternoon in regard to his name, Jefferson relaxed somewhat and
said apologetically:

"Excuse me, I've been feeling a bit seedy lately. I think I need
another sea voyage. That's the only time when I feel really
first-class--when I'm on the water."

The mention of the sea started Shirley to talk about her future
plans. She wasn't going back to America until September. She had
arranged to make a stay of three weeks in London and then she
would be free. Some friends of hers from home, a man and his wife
who owned a steam yacht, were arranging a trip to the Mediterranean,
including a run over to Cairo. They had asked her and Mrs. Blake to
go and she was sure they would ask Jefferson, too. Would he go?

There was no way out of it. Jefferson tried to work up some
enthusiasm for this yachting trip, which he knew very well could
never come off, and it cut him to the heart to see this poor girl
joyously making all these preparations and plans, little dreaming
of the domestic calamity which at that very moment was hanging
over her head.

    [Photo, from the play, of the Ryder household as Jefferson
     is introduced to Miss Green.]

    "Father, I've changed my mind, I'm not going away."--Act II.

It was nearly ten o'clock when they had finished. They sat a
little longer listening to the gipsy music, weird and barbaric.
Very pointedly, Shirley remarked:

"I for one preferred the music this afternoon."

"Why?" inquired Jefferson, ignoring the petulant note in her
voice.

"Because you were more amiable!" she retorted rather crossly.

This was their first misunderstanding, but Jefferson said nothing.
He could not tell her the thoughts and fears that had been
haunting him all night. Soon afterward they re-entered their cab
and returned to the boulevards which were ablaze with light and
gaiety. Jefferson suggested going somewhere else, but Mrs. Blake
was tired and Shirley, now quite irritated at what she considered
Jefferson's unaccountable unsociability, declined somewhat
abruptly. But she could never remain angry long, and when they
said good-night she whispered demurely:

"Are you cross with me, Jeff?"

He turned his head away and she saw that his face was singularly
drawn and grave.

"Cross--no. Good-night. God bless you!" he said, hoarsely gulping
down a lump that rose in his throat. Then grasping her hand he
hurried away.

Completely mystified, Shirley and her companion turned to the
office to get the key of their room. As the man handed it to
Shirley he passed her also a cablegram which had just come. She
changed colour. She did not like telegrams. She always had a dread
of them, for with her sudden news was usually bad news. Could
this, she thought, explain Jefferson's strange behaviour?
Trembling, she tore open the envelope and read:

    _Come home at once,_

                         _Mother._



CHAPTER V


Rolling, tumbling, splashing, foaming water as far as the eye
could reach in every direction. A desolate waste, full of life,
movement and colour, extending to the bleak horizon and like a
vast ploughed field cut up into long and high liquid ridges, all
scurrying in one direction in serried ranks and with incredible
speed as if pursued by a fearful and unseen enemy. Serenely yet
boisterously, gracefully yet resistlessly, the endless waves
passed on--some small, others monstrous, with fleecy white combs
rushing down their green sides like toy Niagaras and with a
seething, boiling sound as when flame touches water. They went by
in a stately, never ending procession, going nowhere, coming from
nowhere, but full of dignity and importance, their breasts heaving
with suppressed rage because there was nothing in their path that
they might destroy. The dancing, leaping water reflected every
shade and tint--now a rich green, then a deep blue and again a
dirty gray as the sun hid for a moment behind a cloud, and as a
gust of wind caught the top of the combers decapitating them at
one mad rush, the spray was dashed high in the air, flashing out
all the prismatic colours. Here and yonder, the white caps rose,
disappeared and came again, and the waves grew and then diminished
in size. Then others rose, towering, became larger, majestic,
terrible; the milk-like comb rose proudly, soared a brief moment,
then fell ignominiously, and the wave diminished passed on
humiliated. Over head, a few scattered cirrus clouds flitted
lazily across the blue dome of heaven, while a dozen Mother Carey
chickens screamed hoarsely as they circled in the air. The strong
and steady western breeze bore on its powerful pinions the sweet
and eternal music of the wind and sea.

Shirley stood at the rail under the bridge of the ocean greyhound
that was carrying her back to America with all the speed of which
her mighty engines were capable. All day and all night, half naked
stokers, so grimed with oil and coal dust as to lose the slightest
semblance to human beings, feverishly shovelled coal, throwing it
rapidly and evenly over roaring furnaces kept at a fierce white
heat. The vast boilers, shaken by the titanic forces generating in
their cavern-like depths, sent streams of scalding, hissing steam
through a thousand valves, cylinders and pistons, turning wheels
and cranks as it distributed the tremendous power which was
driving the steel monster through the seas at the prodigious speed
of four hundred miles in the twenty-four hours. Like a pulsating
heart in some living thing, the mammoth engines throbbed and
panted, and the great vessel groaned and creaked as she rose and
fell to the heavy swell, and again lurched forward in obedience to
each fresh propulsion from her fast spinning screws. Out on deck,
volumes of dense black smoke were pouring from four gigantic smoke
stacks and spread out in the sky like some endless cinder path
leading back over the course the ship had taken.

They were four days out from port. Two days more and they would
sight Sandy Hook, and Shirley would know the worst. She had caught
the North German Lloyd boat at Cherbourg two days after receiving
the cablegram from New York. Mrs. Blake had insisted on coming
along in spite of her niece's protests. Shirley argued that she
had crossed alone when coming; she could go back the same way.
Besides, was not Mr. Ryder returning home on the same ship? He
would be company and protection both. But Mrs. Blake was bent on
making the voyage. She had not seen her sister for many years and,
moreover, this sudden return to America had upset her own plans.
She was a poor sailor, yet she loved the ocean and this was a good
excuse for a long trip. Shirley was too exhausted with worry to
offer further resistance and by great good luck the two women had
been able to secure at the last moment a cabin to themselves
amidships. Jefferson, less fortunate, was compelled, to his
disgust, to share a stateroom with another passenger, a fat German
brewer who was returning to Cincinnati, and who snored so loud at
night that even the thumping of the engines was completely drowned
by his eccentric nasal sounds.

The alarming summons home and the terrible shock she had
experienced the following morning when Jefferson showed her the
newspaper article with its astounding and heart rending news about
her father had almost prostrated Shirley. The blow was all the
greater for being so entirely unlooked for. That the story was
true she could not doubt. Her mother would not have cabled except
under the gravest circumstances. What alarmed Shirley still more
was that she had no direct news of her father. For a moment her
heart stood still--suppose the shock of this shameful accusation
had killed him? Her blood froze in her veins, she clenched her
fists and dug her nails into her flesh as she thought of the dread
possibility that she had looked upon him in life for the last
time. She remembered his last kind words when he came to the
steamer to see her off, and his kiss when he said good-bye and she
had noticed a tear of which he appeared to be ashamed. The hot
tears welled up in her own eyes and coursed unhindered down her
cheeks.

What could these preposterous and abominable charges mean? What
was this lie they had invented to ruin her father? That he had
enemies she well knew. What strong man had not? Indeed, his
proverbial honesty had made him feared by all evil-doers and on
one occasion they had gone so far as to threaten his life. This
new attack was more deadly than all--to sap and destroy his
character, to deliberately fabricate lies and calumnies which had
no foundation whatever. Of course, the accusation was absurd, the
Senate would refuse to convict him, the entire press would espouse
the cause of so worthy a public servant. Certainly, everything
would be done to clear his character. But what was being done? She
could do nothing but wait and wait. The suspense and anxiety were
awful.

Suddenly she heard a familiar step behind her, and Jefferson
joined her at the rail. The wind was due West and blowing half a
gale, so where they were standing--one of the most exposed parts
of the ship--it was difficult to keep one's feet, to say nothing
of hearing anyone speak. There was a heavy sea running, and each
approaching wave looked big enough to engulf the vessel, but as
the mass of moving water reached the bow, the ship rose on it,
light and graceful as a bird, shook off the flying spray as a cat
shakes her fur after an unwelcome bath, and again drove forward as
steady and with as little perceptible motion as a railway train.
Shirley was a fairly good sailor and this kind of weather did not
bother her in the least, but when it got very rough she could not
bear the rolling and pitching and then all she was good for was to
lie still in her steamer chair with her eyes closed until the
water was calmer and the pitching ceased.

"It's pretty windy here, Shirley," shouted Jefferson, steadying
himself against a stanchion. "Don't you want to walk a little?"

He had begun to call her by her first name quite naturally, as if
it were a matter of course. Indeed, their relations had come to be
more like those of brother and sister than anything else. Shirley
was too much troubled over the news from home to have a mind for
other things, and in her distress she had turned to Jefferson for
advice and help as she would have looked to an elder brother. He
had felt this impulse to confide in him and consult his opinion
and it had pleased him more than he dared betray. He had shown her
all the sympathy of which his warm, generous nature was capable,
yet secretly he did not regret that events had necessitated this
sudden return home together on the same ship. He was sorry for
Judge Rossmore, of course, and there was nothing he would not do
on his return to secure a withdrawal of the charges. That his
father would use his influence he had no doubt. But meantime he
was selfish enough to be glad for the opportunity it gave him to
be a whole week alone with Shirley. No matter how much one may be
with people in city or country or even when stopping at the same
hotel or house, there is no place in the world where two persons,
especially when they are of the opposite sex, can become so
intimate as on shipboard. The reason is obvious. The days are long
and monotonous. There is nowhere to go, nothing to see but the
ocean, nothing to do but read, talk or promenade. Seclusion in
one's stuffy cabin is out of the question, the public sitting
rooms are noisy and impossible, only a steamer chair on deck is
comfortable and once there snugly wrapped up in a rug it is
surprising how quickly another chair makes its appearance
alongside and how welcome one is apt to make the intruder.

Thus events combined with the weather conspired to bring Shirley
and Jefferson more closely together. The sea had been rough ever
since they sailed, keeping Mrs. Blake confined to her stateroom
almost continuously. They were, therefore, constantly in one
another's company, and slowly, unconsciously, there was taking
root in their hearts the germ of the only real and lasting
love--the love born of something higher than mere physical
attraction, the nobler, more enduring affection that is born of
mutual sympathy, association and companionship.

"Isn't it beautiful?" exclaimed Shirley ecstatically. "Look at
those great waves out there! See how majestically they soar and
how gracefully they fall!"

"Glorious!" assented Jefferson sharing her enthusiasm. "There's
nothing to compare with it. It's Nature's grandest spectacle. The
ocean is the only place on earth that man has not defiled and
spoiled. Those waves are the same now as they were on the day of
creation."

"Not the day of creation. You mean during the aeons of time
creation was evolving," corrected Shirley.

"I meant that of course," assented Jefferson. "When one says 'day'
that is only a form of speech."

"Why not be accurate?" persisted Shirley. "It was the use of that
little word 'day' which has given the theologians so many
sleepless nights."

There was a roguish twinkle in her eye. She well knew that he
thought as she did on metaphysical questions, but she could not
resist teasing him.

Like Jefferson, she was not a member of any church, although her
nature was deeply religious. Hers was the religion the soul
inculcates, not that which is learned by rote in the temple. She
was a Christian because she thought Christ the greatest figure in
world history, and also because her own conduct of life was
modelled upon Christian principles and virtues. She was religious
for religion's sake and not for public ostentation. The mystery of
life awed her and while her intelligence could not accept all the
doctrines of dogmatic religion she did not go so far as Jefferson,
who was a frank agnostic. She would not admit that we do not know.
The longings and aspirations of her own soul convinced her of the
existence of a Supreme Being, First Cause, Divine Intelligence--call
it what you will--which had brought out of chaos the wonderful
order of the universe. The human mind was, indeed, helpless to
conceive such a First Cause in any form and lay prostrate before
the Unknown, yet she herself was an enthusiastic delver into
scientific hypothesis and the teachings of Darwin, Spencer,
Haeckel had satisfied her intellect if they had failed to content
her soul. The theory of evolution as applied to life on her own
little planet appealed strongly to her because it accounted
plausibly for the presence of man on earth. The process through
which we had passed could be understood by every intelligence. The
blazing satellite, violently detached from the parent sun starting
on its circumscribed orbit--that was the first stage, the gradual
subsidence of the flames and the cooling of the crust--the second
stage: the gases mingling and forming water which covered the
earth--the third stage; the retreating of the waters and the
appearance of the land--the fourth stage; the appearance of
vegetation and animal life--the fifth stage; then, after a long
interval and through constant evolution and change the appearance
of man, which was the sixth stage. What stages still to come, who
knows? This simple account given by science was, after all,
practically identical with the biblical legend!

It was when Shirley was face to face with Nature in her wildest
and most primitive aspects that this deep rooted religious feeling
moved her most strongly. At these times she felt herself another
being, exalted, sublimated, lifted from this little world with its
petty affairs and vanities up to dizzy heights. She had felt the
same sensation when for the first time she had viewed the glories
of the snow clad Matterhorn, she had felt it when on a summer's
night at sea she had sat on deck and watched with fascinated awe
the resplendent radiance of the countless stars, she felt it now
as she looked at the foaming, tumbling waves.

"It is so beautiful," she murmured as she turned to walk. The ship
was rolling a little and she took Jefferson's arm to steady
herself. Shirley was an athletic girl and had all the ease and
grace of carriage that comes of much tennis and golf playing.
Barely twenty-four years old, she was still in the first flush of
youth and health, and there was nothing she loved so much as
exercise and fresh air. After a few turns on deck, there was a
ruddy glow in her cheeks that was good to see and many an admiring
glance was cast at the young couple as they strode briskly up and
down past the double rows of elongated steamer chairs.

They had the deck pretty much to themselves. It was only four
o'clock, too early for the appetite-stimulating walk before
dinner, and their fellow passengers were basking in the sunshine,
stretched out on their chairs in two even rows like so many
mummies on exhibition. Some were reading, some were dozing. Two or
three were under the weather, completely prostrated, their bilious
complexion of a deathly greenish hue. At each new roll of the
ship, they closed their eyes as if resigned to the worst that
might happen and their immediate neighbours furtively eyed each of
their movements as if apprehensive of what any moment might bring
forth. A few couples were flirting to their heart's content under
the friendly cover of the lifeboats which, as on most of the
transatlantic liners, were more useful in saving reputations than
in saving life. The deck steward was passing round tea and
biscuits, much to the disgust of the ill ones, but to the keen
satisfaction of the stronger stomached passengers who on shipboard
never seem to be able to get enough to eat and drink. On the
bridge, the second officer, a tall, handsome man with the points
of his moustache trained upwards à la Kaiser Wilhelm, was striding
back and forth, every now and then sweeping the horizon with his
glass and relieving the monotony of his duties by ogling the
better looking women passengers.

"Hello, Shirley!" called out a voice from a heap of rugs as
Shirley and Jefferson passed the rows of chairs.

They stopped short and discovered Mrs. Blake ensconced in a cozy
corner, sheltered from the wind.

"Why, aunt Milly," exclaimed Shirley surprised. "I thought you
were downstairs. I didn't think you could stand this sea."

"It is a little rougher than I care to have it," responded Mrs.
Blake with a wry grimace and putting her hand to her breast as if
to appease disturbing qualms. "It was so stuffy in the cabin I
could not bear it. It's more pleasant here but it's getting a
little cool and I think I'll go below. Where have you children
been all afternoon?"

Jefferson volunteered to explain.

"The children have been rhapsodizing over the beauties of the
ocean," he laughed. With a sly glance at Shirley, he added, "Your
niece has been coaching me in metaphysics."

Shirley shook her finger at him.

"Now Jefferson, if you make fun of me I'll never talk seriously
with you again."

"_Wie geht es, meine damen?_"

Shirley turned on hearing the guttural salutation. It was Captain
Hegermann, the commander of the ship, a big florid Saxon with
great bushy golden whiskers and a basso voice like Edouard de
Reszké. He was imposing in his smart uniform and gold braid and
his manner had the self-reliant, authoritative air usual in men
who have great responsibilities and are accustomed to command. He
was taking his afternoon stroll and had stopped to chat with his
lady passengers. He had already passed Mrs. Blake a dozen times
and not noticed her, but now her pretty niece was with her, which
altered the situation. He talked to the aunt and looked at
Shirley, much to the annoyance of Jefferson, who muttered things
under his breath.

"When shall we be in, captain?" asked Mrs. Blake anxiously,
forgetting that this was one of the questions which according to
ship etiquette must never be asked of the officers.

But as long as he could ignore Mrs. Blake and gaze at Shirley
Capt. Hegermann did not mind. He answered amiably:

"At the rate we are going, we ought to sight Fire Island sometime
to-morrow evening. If we do, that will get us to our dock about 11
o'clock Friday morning, I fancy." Then addressing Shirley direct
he said:

"And you, fraulein, I hope you won't be glad the voyage is over?"

Shirley sighed and a worried, anxious look came into her face.

"Yes, Captain, I shall be very glad. It is not pleasure that is
bringing me back to America so soon."

The captain elevated his eyebrows. He was sorry the young lady had
anxieties to keep her so serious, and he hoped she would find
everything all right on her arrival. Then, politely saluting, he
passed on, only to halt again a few paces on where his bewhiskered
gallantry met with more encouragement.

Mrs. Blake rose from her chair. The air was decidedly cooler, she
would go downstairs and prepare for dinner. Shirley said she would
remain on deck a little longer. She was tired of walking, so when
her aunt left them she took her chair and told Jefferson to get
another. He wanted nothing better, but before seating himself he
took the rugs and wrapped Shirley up with all the solicitude of a
mother caring for her first born. Arranging the pillow under her
head, he asked:

"Is that comfortable?"

She nodded, smiling at him.

"You're a good boy, Jeff. But you'll spoil me."

"Nonsense," he stammered as he took another chair and put himself
by her side. "As if any fellow wouldn't give his boots to do a
little job like that for you!"

She seemed to take no notice of the covert compliment. In fact,
she already took it as a matter of course that Jefferson was very
fond of her.

Did she love him? She hardly knew. Certainly she thought more of
him than of any other man she knew and she readily believed that
she could be with him for the rest of her life and like him better
every day. Then, too, they had become more intimate during the
last few days. This trouble, this unknown peril had drawn them
together. Yes, she would be sorry if she were to see Jefferson
paying attention to another woman. Was this love? Perhaps.

These thoughts were running through her mind as they sat there
side by side isolated from the main herd of passengers, each
silent, watching through the open rail the foaming water as it
rushed past. Jefferson had been casting furtive glances at his
companion and as he noted her serious, pensive face he thought how
pretty she was. He wondered what she was thinking of and suddenly
inspired no doubt by the mysterious power that enables some people
to read the thoughts of others, he said abruptly:

"Shirley, I can read your thoughts. You were thinking of me."

She was startled for a moment but immediately recovered her self
possession. It never occurred to her to deny it. She pondered for
a moment and then replied:

"You are right, Jeff, I was thinking of you. How did you guess?"

He leaned over her chair and took her hand. She made no
resistance. Her delicate, slender hand lay passively in his big
brown one and met his grasp frankly, cordially. He whispered:

"What were you thinking of me--good or bad?"

"Good, of course. How could I think anything bad of you?"

She turned her eyes on him in wonderment. Then she went on:

"I was wondering how a girl could distinguish between the feeling
she has for a man she merely likes, and the feeling she has for a
man she loves."

Jefferson bent eagerly forward so as to lose no word that might
fall from those coveted lips.

"In what category would I be placed?" he asked.

"I don't quite know," she answered, laughingly. Then seriously,
she added: "Jeff, why should we act like children? Your actions,
more than your words, have told me that you love me. I have known
it all along. If I have appeared cold and indifferent it is
because"--she hesitated.

"Because?" echoed Jefferson anxiously, as if his whole future
depended on that reason.

"Because I was not sure of myself. Would it be womanly or
honourable on my part to encourage you, unless I felt I
reciprocated your feelings? You are young, one day you will be
very rich, the whole world lies before you. There are plenty of
women who would willingly give you their love."

"No--no!" he burst out in vigorous protest, "it is you I want,
Shirley, you alone."

Grasping her hand more closely, he went on, passion vibrating in
every note of his voice. "I love you, Shirley. I've loved you from
the very first evening I met you. I want you to be my wife."

Shirley looked straight up into the blue eyes so eagerly bent down
on hers, so entreating in their expression, and in a gentle voice
full of emotion she answered:

"Jefferson, you have done me the greatest honour a man can do a
woman. Don't ask me to answer you now. I like you very much--I
more than like you. Whether it is love I feel for you--that I have
not yet determined. Give me time. My present trouble and then my
literary work--"

"I know," agreed Jefferson, "that this is hardly the time to speak
of such matters. Your father has first call on your attention. But
as to your literary work. I do not understand."

"Simply this. I am ambitious. I have had a little success--just
enough to crave for more. I realize that marriage would put an
extinguisher on all aspirations in that direction."

"Is marriage so very commonplace?" grumbled Jefferson.

"Not commonplace, but there is no room in marriage for a woman
having personal ambitions of her own. Once married her duty is to
her husband and her children--not to herself."

"That is right," he replied; "but which is likely to give you
greater joy--a literary success or a happy wifehood? When you have
spent your best years and given the public your best work they
will throw you over for some new favorite. You'll find yourself an
old woman with nothing more substantial to show as your life work
than that questionable asset, a literary reputation. How many
literary reputations to-day conceal an aching heart and find it
difficult to make both ends meet? How different with the woman who
married young and obeys Nature's behest by contributing her share
to the process of evolution. Her life is spent basking in the
affection of her husband and the chubby smiles of her dimpled
babes, and when in the course of time she finds herself in the
twilight of her life, she has at her feet a new generation of her
own flesh and blood. Isn't that better than a literary reputation?"

He spoke so earnestly that Shirley looked at him in surprise. She
knew he was serious but she had not suspected that he thought so
deeply on these matters. Her heart told her that he was uttering
the true philosophy of the ages. She said:

"Why, Jefferson, you talk like a book. Perhaps you are right, I
have no wish to be a blue stocking and deserted in my old age, far
from it. But give me time to think. Let us first ascertain the
extent of this disaster which has overtaken my father. Then if you
still care for me and if I have not changed my mind," here she
glanced slyly at him, "we will resume our discussion."

Again she held out her hand which he had released.

"Is it a bargain?" she asked.

"It's a bargain," he murmured, raising the white hand to his lips.
A fierce longing rose within him to take her in his arms and kiss
passionately the mouth that lay temptingly near his own, but his
courage failed him. After all, he reasoned, he had not yet the
right.

A few minutes later they left the deck and went downstairs to
dress for dinner. That same evening they stood again at the rail
watching the mysterious phosphorescence as it sparkled in the
moonlight. Her thoughts travelling faster than the ship, Shirley
suddenly asked:

"Do you really think Mr. Ryder will use his influence to help my
father?"

Jefferson set his jaw fast and the familiar Ryder gleam came into
his eyes as he responded:

"Why not? My father is all powerful. He has made and unmade judges
and legislators and even presidents. Why should he not be able to
put a stop to these preposterous proceedings? I will go to him
directly we land and we'll see what can be done."

So the time on shipboard had passed, Shirley alternately buoyed up
with hope and again depressed by the gloomiest forebodings. The
following night they passed Fire Island and the next day the huge
steamer dropped anchor at Quarantine.



CHAPTER VI


A month had passed since the memorable meeting of the directors of
the Southern and Transcontinental Railroad in New York and during
that time neither John Burkett Ryder nor Judge Rossmore had been
idle. The former had immediately set in motion the machinery he
controlled in the Legislature at Washington, while the judge
neglected no step to vindicate himself before the public.

Ryder, for reasons of his own--probably because he wished to make
the blow the more crushing when it did fall--had insisted on the
proceedings at the board meeting being kept a profound secret and
some time elapsed before the newspapers got wind of the coming
Congressional inquiry. No one had believed the stories about Judge
Rossmore but now that a quasi-official seal had been set on the
current gossip, there was a howl of virtuous indignation from the
journalistic muck rakers. What was the country coming to? they
cried in double leaded type. After the embezzling by life
insurance officers, the rascality of the railroads, the looting of
city treasuries, the greed of the Trusts, the grafting of the
legislators, had arisen a new and more serious scandal--the
corruption of the Judiciary. The last bulwark of the nation had
fallen, the country lay helpless at the mercy of legalized
sandbaggers. Even the judges were no longer to be trusted, the
most respected one among them all had been unable to resist the
tempter. The Supreme Court, the living voice of the Constitution,
was honeycombed with graft. Public life was rotten to the core!

Neither the newspapers nor the public stopped to ascertain the
truth or the falsity of the charges against Judge Rossmore. It was
sufficient that the bribery story furnished the daily sensation
which newspaper editors and newspaper readers must have. The world
is ever more prompt to believe ill rather than good of a man, and
no one, except in Rossmore's immediate circle of friends,
entertained the slightest doubt of his guilt. It was common
knowledge that the "big interests" were behind the proceedings,
and that Judge Rossmore was a scapegoat, sacrificed by the System
because he had been blocking their game. If Rossmore had really
accepted the bribe, and few now believed him spotless, he deserved
all that was coming to him. Senator Roberts was very active in
Washington preparing the case against Judge Rossmore. The latter
being a democrat and "the interests" controlling a Republican
majority in the House, it was a foregone conclusion that the
inquiry would be against him, and that a demand would at once be
made upon the Senate for his impeachment.

Almost prostrated by the misfortune which had so suddenly and
unexpectedly come upon him, Judge Rossmore was like a man
demented. His reason seemed to be tottering, he spoke and acted
like a man in a dream. Naturally he was entirely incapacitated for
work and he had applied to Washington to be temporarily relieved
from his judicial duties. He was instantly granted a leave of
absence and went at once to his home in Madison Avenue, where he
shut himself up in his library, sitting for hours at his desk
wrestling with documents and legal tomes in a pathetic endeavour
to find some way out, trying to elude this net in which unseen
hands had entangled him.

What an end to his career! To have struggled and achieved for half
a century, to have built up a reputation year by year, as a man
builds a house brick by brick, only to see the whole crumble to
his feet like dust! To have gained the respect of the country, to
have made a name as the most incorruptible of public servants and
now to be branded as a common bribe taker! Could he be dreaming?
It was too incredible! What would his daughter say--his Shirley?
Ah, the thought of the expression of incredulity and wonder on her
face when she heard the news cut him to the heart like a knife
thrust. Yet, he mused, her very unwillingness to believe it should
really be his consolation. Ah, his wife and his child--they knew
he had been innocent of wrong doing. The very idea was ridiculous.
At most he had been careless. Yes, he was certainly to blame. He
ought to have seen the trap so carefully prepared and into which
he had walked as if blindfolded. That extra $50,000 worth of
stock, on which he had never received a cent interest, had been
the decoy in a carefully thought out plot. They, the plotters,
well knew how ignorant he was of financial matters and he had been
an easy victim. Who would believe his story that the stock had
been sent to him with a plausibly-worded letter to the effect that
it represented a bonus on his own investment? Now he came to think
of it, calmly and reasonably, he would not believe it himself. As
usual, he had mislaid or destroyed the secretary's letter and
there was only his word against the company's books to substantiate
what would appear a most improbable if not impossible occurrence.

It was his conviction of his own good faith that made his present
dilemma all the more cruel. Had he really been a grafter, had he
really taken the stock as a bribe he would not care so much, for
then he would have foreseen and discounted the chances of
exposure. Yes, there was no doubt possible. He was the victim of a
conspiracy, there was an organized plot to ruin him, to get him
out of the way. The "interests" feared him, resented his judicial
decisions and they had halted at nothing to accomplish their
purpose. How could he fight them back, what could he do to protect
himself? He had no proofs of a conspiracy, his enemies worked in
the dark, there was no way in which he could reach them or know
who they were.

He thought of John Burkett Ryder. Ah, he remembered now. Ryder was
the man who had recommended the investment in Alaskan stock. Of
course, why did he not think of it before? He recollected that at
the time he had been puzzled at receiving so much stock and he had
mentioned it to Ryder, adding that the secretary had told him it
was customary. Oh, why had he not kept the secretary's letter? But
Ryder would certainly remember it. He probably still had his two
letters in which he spoke of making the investment. If those
letters could be produced at the Congressional inquiry they would
clear him at once. So losing no time, and filled with renewed hope
he wrote to the Colossus a strong, manly letter which would have
melted an iceberg, urging Mr. Ryder to come forward now at this
critical time and clear him of this abominable charge, or in any
case to kindly return the two letters he must have in his
possession, as they would go far to help him at the trial. Three
days passed and no reply from Ryder. On the fourth came a polite
but frigid note from Mr. Ryder's private secretary. Mr. Ryder had
received Judge Rossmore's letter and in reply begged to state that
he had a vague recollection of some conversation with the judge in
regard to investments, but he did not think he had advised the
purchase of any particular stock, as that was something he never
did on principle, even with his most intimate friends. He had no
wish to be held accountable in case of loss, etc. As to the letter
which Judge Rossmore mentioned as having written to Mr. Ryder in
regard to having received more stock than he had bought, of that
Mr. Ryder had no recollection whatsoever. Judge Rossmore was
probably mistaken as to the identity of his correspondent. He
regretted he could not be of more service to Judge Rossmore, and
remained his very obedient servant.

It was very evident that no help was to be looked for in that
quarter. There was even decided hostility in Ryder's reply. Could
it be true that the financier was really behind these attacks upon
his character, was it possible that one man merely to make more
money would deliberately ruin his fellow man whose hand he had
grasped in friendship? He had been unwilling to believe it when
his friend ex-judge Stott had pointed to Ryder as the author of
all his misfortunes, but this unsympathetic letter with its
falsehoods, its lies plainly written all over its face, was proof
enough. Yes, there was now no doubt possible. John Burkett Ryder
was his enemy and what an enemy! Many a man had committed suicide
when he had incurred the enmity of the Colossus. Judge Rossmore,
completely discouraged, bowed his head to the inevitable.

His wife, a nervous, sickly woman, was helpless to comfort or aid
him. She had taken their misfortune as a visitation of an
inscrutable Deity. She knew, of course, that her husband was
wholly innocent of the accusations brought against him and if his
character could be cleared and himself rehabilitated before the
world, she would be the first to rejoice. But if it pleased the
Almighty in His wisdom to sorely try her husband and herself and
inflict this punishment upon them it was not for the finite mind
to criticise the ways of Providence. There was probably some good
reason for the apparent cruelty and injustice of it which their
earthly understanding failed to grasp. Mrs. Rossmore found much
comfort in this philosophy, which gave a satisfactory ending to
both ends of the problem, and she was upheld in her view by the
rector of the church which she had attended regularly each Sunday
for the past five and twenty years. Christian resignation in the
hour of trial, submission to the will of Heaven were, declared her
spiritual adviser, the fundamental principles of religion. He
could only hope that Mrs. Rossmore would succeed in imbuing her
husband with her Christian spirit. But when the judge's wife
returned home and saw the keen mental distress of the man who had
been her companion for twenty-five long years, the comforter in
her sorrows, the joy and pride of her young wifehood, she forgot
all about her smug churchly consoler, and her heart went out to
her husband in a spontaneous burst of genuine human sympathy. Yes,
they must do something at once. Where men had failed perhaps a
woman could do something. She wanted to cable at once for Shirley,
who was everything in their household--organizer, manager,
adviser--but the judge would not hear of it. No, his daughter was
enjoying her holiday in blissful ignorance of what had occurred.
He would not spoil it for her. They would see; perhaps things
would improve. But he sent for his old friend ex-Judge Stott.

They were life-long friends, having become acquainted nearly
thirty years ago at the law school, at the time when both were
young men about to enter on a public career. Stott, who was
Rossmore's junior, had begun as a lawyer in New York and soon
acquired a reputation in criminal practice. He afterwards became
assistant district attorney and later, when a vacancy occurred in
the city magistrature, he was successful in securing the
appointment. On the bench he again met his old friend Rossmore and
the two men once more became closely intimate. The regular court
hours, however, soon palled on a man of Judge Stott's nervous
temperament and it was not long before he retired to take up once
more his criminal practice. He was still a young man, not yet
fifty, and full of vigor and fight. He had a blunt manner but his
heart was in the right place, and he had a record as clean as his
close shaven face. He was a hard worker, a brilliant speaker and
one of the cleverest cross-examiners at the bar. This was the man
to whom Judge Rossmore naturally turned for legal assistance.

Stott was out West when he first heard of the proceedings against
his old friend, and this indignity put upon the only really honest
man in public life whom he knew, so incensed him that he was
already hurrying back to his aid when the summons reached him.

Meantime, a fresh and more serious calamity had overwhelmed Judge
Rossmore. Everything seemed to combine to break the spirit of this
man who had dared defy the power of organized capital. Hardly had
the news of the Congressional inquiry been made public, than the
financial world was startled by an extraordinary slump in Wall
Street. There was nothing in the news of the day to justify a
decline, but prices fell and fell. The bears had it all their own
way, the big interests hammered stocks all along the line,
"coppers" especially being the object of attack. The market closed
feverishly and the next day the same tactics were pursued. From
the opening, on selling orders coming from no one knew where,
prices fell to nothing, a stampede followed and before long it
became a panic. Pandemonium reigned on the floor of the Stock
Exchange. White faced, dishevelled brokers shouted and struggled
like men possessed to execute the orders of their clients. Big
financial houses, which stood to lose millions on a falling
market, rallied and by rush orders to buy, attempted to stem the
tide, but all to no purpose. One firm after another went by the
board unable to weather the tempest, until just before closing
time, the stock ticker announced the failure of the Great
Northwestern Mining Co. The drive in the market had been
principally directed against its securities, and after vainly
endeavoring to check the bear raid, it had been compelled to
declare itself bankrupt. It was heavily involved, assets nil,
stock almost worthless. It was probable that the creditors would
not see ten cents on the dollar. Thousands were ruined and Judge
Rossmore among them. All the savings of a lifetime--nearly $55,000
were gone. He was practically penniless, at a time when he needed
money most. He still owned his house in Madison Avenue, but that
would have to go to settle with his creditors. By the time
everything was paid there would only remain enough for a modest
competence. As to his salary, of course he could not touch that so
long as this accusation was hanging over his head. And if he were
impeached it would stop altogether. The salary, therefore, was not
to be counted on. They must manage as best they could and live
more cheaply, taking a small house somewhere in the outskirts of
the city where he could prepare his case quietly without
attracting attention.

Stott thought this was the best thing they could do and he
volunteered to relieve his friend by taking on his own hands all
the arrangements of the sale of the house and furniture, which
offer the judge accepted only too gladly. Meantime, Mrs. Rossmore
went to Long Island to see what could be had, and she found at the
little village of Massapequa just what they were looking for--a
commodious, neatly-furnished two-story cottage at a modest rental.
Of course, it was nothing like what they had been accustomed to,
but it was clean and comfortable, and as Mrs. Rossmore said,
rather tactlessly, beggars cannot be choosers. Perhaps it would
not be for long. Instant possession was to be had, so deposit was
paid on the spot and a few days later the Rossmores left their
mansion on Madison Avenue and took up their residence in
Massapequa, where their advent created quite a fluster in local
social circles.

Massapequa is one of the thousand and one flourishing communities
scattered over Long Island, all of which are apparently modelled
after the same pattern. Each is an exact duplicate of its
neighbour in everything except the name--the same untidy railroad
station, the same sleepy stores, the same attractive little frame
residences, built for the most part on the "Why pay Rent? Own your
own Home" plan. A healthy boom in real estate imparts plenty of
life to them all and Massapequa is particularly famed as being the
place where the cat jumped to when Manhattan had to seek an outlet
for its congested population and ever-increasing army of home
seekers. Formerly large tracts of flat farm lands, only sparsely
shaded by trees, Massapequa, in common with other villages of its
kind, was utterly destitute of any natural attractions. There was
the one principal street leading to the station, with a few
scattered stores on either side, a church and a bank. Happily,
too, for those who were unable to survive the monotony of the
place, it boasted of a pretty cemetery. There were also a number
of attractive cottages with spacious porches hung with honeysuckle
and of these the Rossmores occupied one of the less pretentious
kind.

But although Massapequa, theoretically speaking, was situated only
a stone's throw from the metropolis, it might have been situated
in the Great Sahara so far as its inhabitants took any active
interest in the doings of gay Gotham. Local happenings naturally
had first claim upon Massapequa's attention--the prowess of the
local baseball team, Mrs. Robinson's tea party and the highly
exciting sessions of the local Pinochle Club furnishing food for
unlimited gossip and scandal. The newspapers reached the village,
of course, but only the local news items aroused any real
interest, while the women folk usually restricted their readings
to those pages devoted to Daily Hints for the Home, Mrs. Sayre's
learned articles on Health and Beauty and Fay Stanton's Daily
Fashions. It was not surprising, therefore, that the fame of Judge
Rossmore and the scandal in which he was at present involved had
not penetrated as far as Massapequa and that the natives were
considerably mystified as to who the new arrivals in their midst
might be.

Stott had been given a room in the cottage so that he might be
near at hand to work with the judge in the preparation of the
defence, and he came out from the city every evening. It was now
June. The Senate would not take action until it convened in
December, but there was a lot of work to be done and no time to be
lost.

The evening following the day of their arrival they were sitting
on the porch enjoying the cool evening air after dinner. The judge
was smoking. He was not a slave to the weed, but he enjoyed a
quiet pipe after meals, claiming that it quieted his nerves and
enabled him to think more clearly. Besides, it was necessary to
keep at bay the ubiquitous Long Island mosquito. Mrs. Rossmore had
remained for a moment in the dining-room to admonish Eudoxia,
their new and only maid-of-all-work, not to wreck too much of the
crockery when she removed the dinner dishes. Suddenly Stott, who
was perusing an evening paper, asked:

"By the way, where's your daughter? Does she know of this radical
change in your affairs?"

Judge Rossmore started. By what mysterious agency had this man
penetrated his own most intimate thoughts? He was himself thinking
of Shirley that very moment, and by some inexplicable means--telepathy
modern psychologists called it--the thought current had crossed to
Stott, whose mind, being in full sympathy, was exactly attuned to
receive it. Removing the pipe from his mouth the judge replied:

"Shirley's in Paris. Poor girl, I hadn't the heart to tell her.
She has no idea of what's happened. I didn't want to spoil her
holiday."

He was silent for a moment. Then, after a few more puffs he added
confidentially in a low tone, as if he did not care for his wife
to hear:

"The truth is, Stott, I couldn't bear to have her return now. I
couldn't look my own daughter in the face."

A sound as of a great sob which he had been unable to control cut
short his speech. His eyes filled with tears and he began to smoke
furiously as if ashamed of this display of emotion. Stott, blowing
his nose with suspicious vigor, replied soothingly:

"You mustn't talk like that. Everything will come out all right,
of course. But I think you are wrong not to have told your
daughter. Her place is here at your side. She ought to be told
even if only in justice to her. If you don't tell her someone else
will, or, what's worse, she'll hear of it through the newspapers."

"Ah, I never thought of that!" exclaimed the judge, visibly
perturbed at the suggestion about the newspapers.

"Don't you agree with me?" demanded Stott, appealing to Mrs.
Rossmore, who emerged from the house at that instant. "Don't you
think your daughter should be informed of what has happened?"

"Most assuredly I do," answered Mrs. Rossmore determinedly. "The
judge wouldn't hear of it, but I took the law into my own hands.
I've cabled for her."

"You cabled for Shirley?" cried the judge incredulously. He was so
unaccustomed to seeing his ailing, vacillating wife do anything on
her own initiative and responsibility that it seemed impossible.
"You cabled for Shirley?" he repeated.

"Yes," replied Mrs. Rossmore triumphantly and secretly pleased
that for once in her life she had asserted herself. "I cabled
yesterday. I simply couldn't bear it alone any longer."

"What did you say?" inquired the judge apprehensively.

"I just told her to come home at once. To-morrow; we ought to get
an answer."

Stott meantime had been figuring on the time of Shirley's probable
arrival. If the cablegram had been received in Paris the previous
evening it would be too late to catch the French boat. The North
German Lloyd steamer was the next to leave and it touched at
Cherbourg. She would undoubtedly come on that. In a week at most
she would be here. Then it became a question as to who should go
to meet her at the dock. The judge could not go, that was certain.
It would be too much of an ordeal. Mrs. Rossmore did not know the
lower part of the city well, and had no experience in meeting
ocean steamships. There was only one way out--would Stott go? Of
course he would and he would bring Shirley back with him to
Massapequa. So during the next few days while Stott and the judge
toiled preparing their case, which often necessitated brief trips
to the city, Mrs. Rossmore, seconded with sulky indifference by
Eudoxia, was kept busy getting a room ready for her daughter's
arrival.

Eudoxia, who came originally from County Cork, was an Irish lady
with a thick brogue and a husky temper. She was amiable enough so
long as things went to her satisfaction, but when they did not
suit her she was a termagant. She was neither beautiful nor
graceful, she was not young nor was she very clean. Her usual
condition was dishevelled, her face was all askew, and when she
dressed up she looked like a valentine. Her greatest weakness was
a propensity for smashing dishes, and when reprimanded she would
threaten to take her traps and skidoo. This news of the arrival of
a daughter failed to fill her with enthusiasm. Firstly, it meant
more work; secondly she had not bargained for it. When she took
the place it was on the understanding that the family consisted
only of an elderly gentleman and his wife, that there was
practically no work, good wages, plenty to eat, with the privilege
of an evening out when she pleased. Instead of this millennium she
soon found Stott installed as a permanent guest and now a daughter
was to be foisted on her. No wonder hard working girls were
getting sick and tired of housework!

As already hinted there was no unhealthy curiosity among
Massapequans regarding their new neighbors from the city but some
of the more prominent people of the place considered it their duty
to seek at least a bowing acquaintance with the Rossmores by
paying them a formal visit. So the day following the conversation
on the porch when the judge and Stott had gone to the city on one
of their periodical excursions, Mrs. Rossmore was startled to see
a gentleman of clerical appearance accompanied by a tall, angular
woman enter their gate and ring the bell.

The Rev. Percival Pontifex Deetle and his sister Miss Jane Deetle
prided themselves on being leaders in the best social circle in
Massapequa. The incumbent of the local Presbyterian church, the
Rev. Deetle, was a thin, sallow man of about thirty-five. He had a
diminutive face with a rather long and very pointed nose which
gave a comical effect to his physiognomy. Theology was written all
over his person and he wore the conventional clerical hat which,
owing to his absurdly small face, had the unfortunate appearance
of being several sizes too large for him. Miss Deetle was a gaunt
and angular spinster who had an unhappy trick of talking with a
jerk. She looked as if she were constantly under self-restraint
and was liable at any moment to explode into a fit of rage and
only repressed herself with considerable effort. As they came up
the stoop, Eudoxia, already instructed by Mrs. Rossmore, was ready
for them. With her instinctive respect for the priestly garb she
was rather taken back on seeing a clergyman, but she brazened it
out:

"Mr. Rossmore's not home." Then shaking her head, she added: "They
don't see no visitors."

Unabashed, the Rev. Deetle drew a card from a case and handing it
to the girl said pompously:

"Then we will see Mrs. Rossmore. I saw her at the window as we
came along. Here, my girl, take her this card. Tell her that the
Reverend Pontifex Deetle and Miss Deetle have called to present
their compliments."

Brushing past Eudoxia, who vainly tried to close the door, the
Rev. Deetle coolly entered the house, followed by his sister, and
took a seat in the parlour.

"She'll blame me for this," wailed the girl, who had not budged
and who stood there fingering the Rev. Deetle's card.

"Blame you? For what?" demanded the clerical visitor in surprise.

"She told me to say she was out--but I can't lie to a minister of
the Gospel--leastways not to his face. I'll give her your card,
sir."

The reverend caller waited until Eudoxia had disappeared, then he
rose and looked around curiously at the books and pictures.

"Hum--not a Bible or a prayer book or a hymn book, not a picture
or anything that would indicate the slightest reverence for holy
things."

He picked up a few papers that were lying on the table and after
glancing at them threw them down in disgust.

"Law reports--Wall Street reports--the god of this world.
Evidently very ordinary people, Jane."

He looked at his sister, but she sat stiffly and primly in her
chair and made no reply. He repeated:

"Didn't you hear me? I said they are ordinary people."

"I've no doubt," retorted Miss Deetle, "and as such they will not
thank us for prying into their affairs."

"Prying, did you say?" said the parson, resenting this implied
criticism of his actions.

"Just plain prying," persisted his sister angrily. "I don't see
what else it is."

The Rev. Pontifex straightened up and threw out his chest as he
replied:

"It is protecting my flock. As Leader of the Unified All Souls
Baptismal Presbytery, it is my duty to visit the widows and
orphans of this community."

"These people are neither widows or orphans," objected Miss
Deetle.

"They are strangers," insisted the Rev. Pontifex, "and it is my
duty to minister to them--if they need it. Furthermore it is my
duty to my congregation to find out who is in their midst. No less
than three of the Lady Trustees of my church have asked me who and
what these people are and whence they came."

"The Lady Trustees are a pack of old busybodies," growled his
sister.

Her brother raised his finger warningly.

"Jane, do you know you are uttering a blasphemy? These Rossmore
people have been here two weeks. They have visited no one, no one
visits them. They have avoided a temple of worship, they have
acted most mysteriously. Who are they? What are they hiding? Is it
fair to my church, is it fair to my flock? It is not a bereavement,
for they don't wear mourning. I'm afraid it may be some hidden
scandal--"

Further speculations on his part were interrupted by the entrance
of Mrs. Rossmore, who thought rightly that the quickest way to get
rid of her unwelcome visitors was to hurry downstairs as quickly
as possible.

"Miss Deetle--Mr. Deetle. I am much honoured," was her not too
effusive greeting.

The Reverend Pontifex, anxious to make a favourable impression,
was all smiles and bows. The idea of a possible scandal had for
the moment ceased to worry him.

"The honour is ours," he stammered. "I--er--we--er--my sister Jane
and I called to--"

"Won't you sit down?" said Mrs. Rossmore, waving him to a chair.
He danced around her in a manner that made her nervous.

"Thank you so much," he said with a smile that was meant to be
amiable. He took a seat at the further end of the room and an
awkward pause followed. Finally his sister prompted him:

"You wanted to see Mrs. Rossmore about the festival," she said.

"Oh, of course, I had quite forgotten. How stupid of me. The fact
is, Mrs. Rossmore," he went on, "we are thinking of giving a
festival next week--a festival with strawberries--and our trustees
thought, in fact it occurred to me also that if you and Mr.
Rossmore would grace the occasion with your presence it would give
us an opportunity--so to speak--get better acquainted, and er--"

Another awkward pause followed during which he sought inspiration
by gazing fixedly in the fireplace. Then turning on Mrs. Rossmore
so suddenly that the poor woman nearly jumped out of her chair he
asked:

"Do you like strawberries?"

"It's very kind of you," interrupted Mrs. Rossmore, glad of the
opportunity to get a word in edgeways. "Indeed, I appreciate your
kindness most keenly but my husband and I go nowhere, nowhere at
all. You see we have met with reverses and--"

"Reverses," echoed the clerical visitor, with difficulty keeping
his seat. This was the very thing he had come to find out and here
it was actually thrown at him. He congratulated himself on his
cleverness in having inspired so much confidence and thought with
glee of his triumph when he returned with the full story to the
Lady Trustees. Simulating, therefore, the deepest sympathy he
tried to draw his hostess out:

"Dear me, how sad! You met with reverses."

Turning to his sister, who was sitting in her corner like a
petrified mummy, he added:

"Jane, do you hear? How inexpressibly sad! They have met with
reverses!"

He paused, hoping that Mrs. Rossmore would go on to explain just
what their reverses had been, but she was silent. As a gentle hint
he said softly:

"Did I interrupt you, Madam?"

"Not at all, I did not speak," she answered.

Thus baffled, he turned the whites of his eyes up to the ceiling
and said:

"When reverses come we naturally look for spiritual consolation.
My dear Mrs. Rossmore, in the name of the Unified All Souls
Baptismal Presbytery I offer you that consolation."

Mrs. Rossmore looked helplessly from one to the other embarrassed
as to what to say. Who were these strangers that intruded on her
privacy offering a consolation she did not want? Miss Deetle, as
if glad of the opportunity to joke at her brother's expense, said
explosively:

"My dear Pontifex, you have already offered a strawberry festival
which Mrs. Rossmore has been unable to accept."

"Well, what of it?" demanded Mr. Deetle, glaring at his sister for
the irrelevant interruption.

"You are both most kind," murmured Mrs. Rossmore; "but we could
not accept in any case. My daughter is returning home from Paris
next week."

"Ah, your daughter--you have a daughter?" exclaimed Mr. Deetle,
grasping at the slightest straw to add to his stock of information.
"Coming from Paris, too! Such a wicked city!"

He had never been to Paris, he went on to explain, but he had read
enough about it and he was grateful that the Lord had chosen
Massapequa as the field of his labours. Here at least, life was
sweet and wholesome and one's hopes of future salvation fairly
reasonable. He was not a brilliant talker when the conversation
extended beyond Massapequa but he rambled on airing his views on
the viciousness of the foreigner in general, until Mrs. Rossmore,
utterly wearied, began to wonder when they would go. Finally he
fell back upon the weather.

"We are very fortunate in having such pleasant weather, don't you
think so, Madam? Oh, Massapequa is a lovely spot, isn't it? We
think it's the one place to live in. We are all one happy family.
That's why my sister and I called to make your acquaintance."

"You are very good, I'm sure. I shall tell my husband you came and
he'll be very pleased."

Having exhausted his conversational powers and seeing that further
efforts to pump Mrs. Rossmore were useless, the clerical visitor
rose to depart:

"It looks like rain. Come, Jane, we had better go. Good-bye,
Madam, I am delighted to have made this little visit and I trust
you will assure Mr. Rossmore that All Souls Unified Baptismal
Presbytery always has a warm welcome for him."

They bowed and Mrs. Rossmore bowed. The agony was over and as the
door closed on them Mrs. Rossmore gave a sigh of relief.

That evening Stott and the judge came home earlier than usual and
from their dejected appearance Mrs. Rossmore divined bad news. The
judge was painfully silent throughout the meal and Stott was
unusually grave. Finally the latter took her aside and broke it to
her gently. In spite of their efforts and the efforts of their
friends the Congressional inquiry had resulted in a finding
against the judge and a demand had already been made upon the
Senate for his impeachment. They could do nothing now but fight it
in the Senate with all the influence they could muster. It was
going to be hard but Stott was confident that right would prevail.
After dinner as they were sitting in silence on the porch, each
measuring the force of this blow which they had expected yet had
always hoped to ward off, the crunching sound of a bicycle was
heard on the quiet country road. The rider stopped at their gate
and came up the porch holding out an envelope to the judge, who,
guessing the contents, had started forward. He tore it open. It
was a cablegram from Paris and read as follows:

    _Am sailing on the Kaiser Wilhelm to-day._

                                        _Shirley._



CHAPTER VII


The pier of the North German Lloyd Steamship Company, at Hoboken,
fairly sizzled with bustle and excitement. The Kaiser Wilhelm had
arrived at Sandy Hook the previous evening and was now lying out
in midstream. She would tie up at her dock within half an hour.
Employés of the line, baggage masters, newspaper reporters, Custom
House officers, policemen, detectives, truck drivers, expressmen,
longshoremen, telegraph messengers and anxious friends of incoming
passengers surged back and forth in seemingly hopeless confusion.
The shouting of orders, the rattling of cab wheels, the shrieking
of whistles was deafening. From out in the river came the deep
toned blasts of the steamer's siren, in grotesque contrast with
the strident tooting of a dozen diminutive tugs which, puffing and
snorting, were slowly but surely coaxing the leviathan into her
berth alongside the dock. The great vessel, spick and span after a
coat of fresh paint hurriedly put on during the last day of the
voyage, bore no traces of gale, fog and stormy seas through which
she had passed on her 3,000 mile run across the ocean. Conspicuous
on the bridge, directing the docking operations, stood Capt.
Hegermann, self satisfied and smiling, relieved that the
responsibilities of another trip were over, and at his side,
sharing the honours, was the grizzled pilot who had brought the
ship safely through the dangers of Gedney's Channel, his shabby
pea jacket, old slouch hat, top boots and unkempt beard standing
out in sharp contrast with the immaculate white duck trousers, the
white and gold caps and smart full dress uniforms of the ship's
officers. The rails on the upper decks were seen to be lined with
passengers, all dressed in their shore going clothes, some waving
handkerchiefs at friends they already recognized, all impatiently
awaiting the shipping of the gangplank.

Stott had come early. They had received word at Massapequa the day
before that the steamer had been sighted off Fire Island and that
she would be at her pier the next morning at 10 o'clock. Stott
arrived at 9.30 and so found no difficulty in securing a front
position among the small army of people, who, like himself, had
come down to meet friends.

As the huge vessel swung round and drew closer, Stott easily
picked out Shirley. She was scanning eagerly through a binocular
the rows of upturned faces on the dock, and he noted that a look
of disappointment crossed her face at not finding the object of
her search. She turned and said something to a lady in black and
to a man who stood at her side. Who they might be Stott had no
idea. Fellow passengers, no doubt. One becomes so intimate on
shipboard; it seems a friendship that must surely last a lifetime,
whereas--the custom officers have not finished rummaging through
your trunks when these easily-made steamer friends are already
forgotten. Presently Shirley took another look and her glass soon
lighted on him. Instantly she recognized her father's old friend.
She waved a handkerchief and Stott raised his hat. Then she turned
quickly and spoke again to her friends, whereupon they all moved
in the direction of the gangplank, which was already being
lowered.

Shirley was one of the first to come ashore. Stott was waiting for
her at the foot of the gangplank and she threw her arms round his
neck and kissed him. He had known her ever since she was a little
tot in arms, and bystanders who noticed them meet had no doubt
that they were father and daughter. Shirley was deeply moved; a
great lump in her throat seemed to choke her utterance. So far she
had been able to bear up, but now that home was so near her heart
failed her. She had hoped to find her father on the dock. Why had
he not come? Were things so bad then? She questioned Judge Stott
anxiously, fearfully.

He reassured her. Both her mother and father were well. It was too
long a trip for them to make, so he had volunteered.

"Too long a trip," echoed Shirley puzzled. "This is not far from
our house. Madison Avenue is no distance. That could not have kept
father away."

"You don't live on Madison Avenue any longer. The house and its
contents have been sold," replied Stott gravely, and in a few
words he outlined the situation as it was.

Shirley listened quietly to the end and only the increasing pallor
of her face and an occasional nervous twitching at the corner of
her mouth betrayed the shock that this recital of her father's
misfortunes was to her. Ah, this she had little dreamed of! Yet
why not? It was but logic. When wrecked in reputation, one might
as well be wrecked in fortune, too. What would their future be,
how could that proud, sensitive man her father bear this
humiliation, this disgrace? To be condemned to a life of
obscurity, social ostracism, and genteel poverty! Oh, the thought
was unendurable! She herself could earn money, of course. If her
literary work did not bring in enough, she could teach and what
she earned would help out. Certainly her parents should never want
for anything so long as she could supply it. She thought bitterly
how futile now were plans of marriage, even if she had ever
entertained such an idea seriously. Henceforward, she did not
belong to herself. Her life must be devoted to clearing her
father's name. These reflections were suddenly interrupted by the
voice of Mrs. Blake calling out:

"Shirley, where have you been? We lost sight of you as we left the
ship, and we have been hunting for you ever since."

Her aunt, escorted by Jefferson Ryder, had gone direct to the
Customs desk and in the crush they had lost trace of her. Shirley
introduced Stott.

"Aunt Milly, this is Judge Stott, a very old friend of father's.
Mrs. Blake, my mother's sister. Mother will be surprised to see
her. They haven't met for ten years."

"This visit is going to be only a brief one," said Mrs. Blake. "I
really came over to chaperone Shirley more than anything else."

"As if I needed chaperoning with Mr. Ryder for an escort!"
retorted Shirley. Then presenting Jefferson to Stott she said:

"This is Mr. Jefferson Ryder--Judge Stott. Mr. Ryder has been very
kind to me abroad."

The two men bowed and shook hands.

"Any relation to J.B.?" asked Stott good humouredly.

"His son--that's all," answered Jefferson laconically.

Stott now looked at the young man with more interest. Yes, there
was a resemblance, the same blue eyes, the righting jaw. But how
on earth did Judge Rossmore's daughter come to be travelling in
the company of John Burkett Ryder's son? The more he thought of it
the more it puzzled him, and while he cogitated Shirley and her
companions wrestled with the United States Customs, and were
undergoing all the tortures invented by Uncle Sam to punish
Americans for going abroad.

Shirley and Mrs. Blake were fortunate in securing an inspector who
was fairly reasonable. Of course, he did not for a moment believe
their solemn statement, already made on the ship, that they had
nothing dutiable, and he rummaged among the most intimate garments
of their wardrobe in a wholly indecent and unjustifiable manner,
but he was polite and they fared no worse than all the other women
victims of this, the most brutal custom house inspection system in
the world.

Jefferson had the misfortune to be allotted an inspector who was
half seas over with liquor and the man was so insolent and
threatening in manner that it was only by great self-restraint
that Jefferson controlled himself. He had no wish to create a
scandal on the dock, nor to furnish good "copy" for the keen-eyed,
long-eared newspaper reporters who would be only too glad of such
an opportunity for a "scare head," But when the fellow compelled
him to open every trunk and valise and then put his grimy hands to
the bottom and by a quick upward movement jerked the entire
contents out on the dock he interfered:

"You are exceeding your authority," he exclaimed hotly. "How dare
you treat my things in this manner?"

The drunken uniformed brute raised his bloodshot, bleary eyes and
took Jefferson in from tip to toe. He clenched his fist as if
about to resort to violence, but he was not so intoxicated as to
be quite blind to the fact that this passenger had massive square
shoulders, a determined jaw and probably a heavy arm. So
contenting himself with a sneer, he said:

"This ain't no country for blooming English dooks. You're not in
England now you know. This is a free country. See?"

"I see this," replied Jefferson, furious "that you are a drunken
ruffian and a disgrace to the uniform you wear. I shall report
your conduct immediately," with which he proceeded to the Customs
desk to lodge a complaint.

He might have spared himself the trouble. The silver haired,
distinguished looking old officer in charge knew that Jefferson's
complaint was well founded, he knew that this particular inspector
was a drunkard and a discredit to the government which employed
him, but at the same time he also knew that political influence
had been behind his appointment and that it was unsafe to do more
than mildly reprimand him. When, therefore, he accompanied
Jefferson to the spot where the contents of the trunks lay
scattered in confusion all over the dock, he merely expostulated
with the officer, who made some insolent reply. Seeing that it was
useless to lose further time, Jefferson repacked his trunks as
best he could and got them on a cab. Then he hurried over to
Shirley's party and found them already about to leave the pier.

"Come and see us, Jeff," whispered Shirley as their cab drove
through the gates.

"Where," he asked, "Madison Avenue?"

She hesitated for a moment and then replied quickly:

"No, we are stopping down on Long Island for the Summer--at a cute
little place called Massapequa. Run down and see us."

He raised his hat and the cab drove on.



There was greater activity in the Rossmore cottage at Massapequa
than there had been any day since the judge and his wife went to
live there. Since daybreak Eudoxia had been scouring and polishing
in honour of the expected arrival and a hundred times Mrs.
Rossmore had climbed the stairs to see that everything was as it
should be in the room which had been prepared for Shirley. It was
not, however, without a passage at arms that Eudoxia consented to
consider the idea of an addition to the family. Mrs. Rossmore had
said to her the day before:

"My daughter will be here to-morrow, Eudoxia."

A look expressive of both displeasure and astonishment marred the
classic features of the hireling. Putting her broom aside and
placing her arms akimbo she exclaimed in an injured tone:

"And it's a dayther you've got now? So it's three in family you
are! When I took the place it's two you tould me there was!"

"Well, with your kind permission," replied Mrs. Rossmore, "there
will be three in future. There is nothing in the Constitution of
the United States that says we can't have a daughter without
consulting our help, is there?"

The sarcasm of this reply did not escape even the dull-edged wits
of the Irish drudge. She relapsed into a dignified silence and a
few minutes later was discovered working with some show of
enthusiasm.

The judge was nervous and fidgety. He made a pretence to read, but
it was plain to see that his mind was not on his book. He kept
leaving his chair to go and look at the clock; then he would lay
the volume aside and wander from room to room like a lost soul.
His thoughts were on the dock at Hoboken.

By noon every little detail had been attended to and there was
nothing further to do but sit and wait for the arrival of Stott
and Shirley. They were to be expected any moment now. The
passengers had probably got off the steamer by eleven o'clock. It
would take at least two hours to get through the Customs and out
to Massapequa. The judge and his wife sat on the porch counting
the minutes and straining their ears to catch the first sound of
the train from New York.

"I hope Stott broke the news to her gently," said the judge.

"I wish we had gone to meet her ourselves," sighed his wife.

The judge was silent and for a moment or two he puffed vigorously
at his pipe, as was his habit when disturbed mentally. Then he
said:

"I ought to have gone, Martha, but I was afraid. I'm afraid to
look my own daughter in the face and tell her that I am a
disgraced man, that I am to be tried by the Senate for corruption,
perhaps impeached and turned off the bench as if I were a
criminal. Shirley won't believe it, sometimes I can't believe it
myself. I often wake up in the night and think of it as part of a
dream, but when the morning comes it's still true--it's still
true!"

He smoked on in silence. Then happening to look up he noticed that
his wife was weeping. He laid his hand gently on hers.

"Don't cry, dear, don't make it harder for me to bear. Shirley
must see no trace of tears."

"I was thinking of the injustice of it all," replied Mrs.
Rossmore, wiping her eyes.

"Fancy Shirley in this place, living from hand to mouth," went on
the judge.

"That's the least," answered his wife. "She's a fine, handsome
girl, well educated and all the rest of it. She ought to make a
good marriage." No matter what state of mind Mrs. Rossmore might
be in, she never lost sight of the practical side of things.

"Hardly with her father's disgrace hanging over her head," replied
the judge wearily. "Who," he added, "would have the courage to
marry a girl whose father was publicly disgraced?"

Both relapsed into another long silence, each mentally reviewing
the past and speculating on the future. Suddenly Mrs. Rossmore
started. Surely she could not be mistaken! No, the clanging of a
locomotive bell was plainly audible. The train was in. From the
direction of the station came people with parcels and hand bags
and presently there was heard the welcome sound of carriage wheels
crunching over the stones. A moment later they saw coming round
the bend in the road a cab piled up with small baggage.

"Here they are! Here they are!" cried Mrs. Rossmore. "Come,
Eudoxia!" she called to the servant, while she herself hurried
down to the gate. The judge, fully as agitated as herself, only
showing his emotion in a different way, remained on the porch pale
and anxious.

The cab stopped at the curb and Stott alighted, first helping out
Mrs. Blake. Mrs. Rossmore's astonishment on seeing her sister was
almost comical.

"Milly!" she exclaimed.

They embraced first and explained afterwards. Then Shirley got out
and was in her mother's arms.

"Where's father?" was Shirley's first question.

"There--he's coming!"

The judge, unable to restrain his impatience longer, ran down from
the porch towards the gate. Shirley, with a cry of mingled grief
and joy, precipitated herself on his breast.

"Father! Father!" she cried between her sobs. "What have they done
to you?"

"There--there, my child. Everything will be well--everything will
be well."

Her head lay on his shoulder and he stroked her hair with his
hand, unable to speak from pent up emotion.

Mrs. Rossmore could not recover from her stupefaction on seeing
her sister. Mrs. Blake explained that she had come chiefly for the
benefit of the voyage and announced her intention of returning on
the same steamer.

"So you see I shall bother you only a few days," she said.

"You'll stay just as long as you wish," rejoined Mrs. Rossmore.
"Happily we have just one bedroom left." Then turning to Eudoxia,
who was wrestling with the baggage, which formed a miniature
Matterhorn on the sidewalk, she gave instructions:

"Eudoxia, you'll take this lady's baggage to the small bedroom
adjoining Miss Shirley's. She is going to stop with us for a few
days."

Taken completely aback at the news of this new addition, Eudoxia
looked at first defiance. She seemed on the point of handing in
her resignation there and then. But evidently she thought better
of it, for, taking a cue from Mrs. Rossmore, she asked in the
sarcastic manner of her mistress:

"Four is it now, M'm? I suppose the Constitootion of the United
States allows a family to be as big as one likes to make it. It's
hard on us girls, but if it's the law, it's all right, M'm. The
more the merrier!" With which broadside, she hung the bags all
over herself and staggered off to the house.

Stott explained that the larger pieces and the trunks would come
later by express. Mrs. Rossmore took him aside while Mrs. Blake
joined Shirley and the judge.

"Did you tell Shirley?" asked Mrs. Rossmore. "How did she take
it?"

"She knows everything," answered Stott, "and takes it very
sensibly. We shall find her of great moral assistance in our
coming fight in the Senate," he added confidently.

    [Pencil illustration of Shirley embracing her father
     at the gate of the cottage at Massapequa.]

    "Father! Father! What have they done to you?"--_Page 161_.

Realizing that the judge would like to be left alone with Shirley,
Mrs. Rossmore invited Mrs. Blake to go upstairs and see the room
she would have, while Stott said he would be glad of a washup.
When they had gone Shirley sidled up to her father in her old
familiar way.

"I've just been longing to see you, father," she said. She turned
to get a good look at him and noticing the lines of care which had
deepened during her absence she cried: "Why, how you've changed! I
can scarcely believe it's you. Say something. Let me hear the
sound of your voice, father."

The judge tried to smile.

"Why, my dear girl, I--"

Shirley threw her arms round his neck.

"Ah, yes, now I know it's you," she cried.

"Of course it is, Shirley, my dear girl. Of course it is. Who else
should it be?"

"Yes, but it isn't the same," insisted Shirley. "There is no ring
to your voice. It sounds hollow and empty, like an echo. And this
place," she added dolefully, "this awful place--"

She glanced around at the cracked ceilings, the cheaply papered
walls, the shabby furniture, and her heart sank as she realized
the extent of their misfortune. She had come back prepared for the
worst, to help win the fight for her father's honour, but to have
to struggle against sordid poverty as well, to endure that
humiliation in addition to disgrace--ah, that was something she
had not anticipated! She changed colour and her voice faltered.
Her father had been closely watching for just such signs and he
read her thoughts.

"It's the best we can afford, Shirley," he said quietly. "The blow
has been complete. I will tell you everything. You shall judge for
yourself. My enemies have done for me at last."

"Your enemies?" cried Shirley eagerly. "Tell me who they are so I
may go to them."

"Yes, dear, you shall know everything. But not now. You are tired
after your journey. To-morrow sometime Stott and I will explain
everything."

"Very well, father, as you wish," said Shirley gently. "After
all," she added in an effort to appear cheerful, "what matter
where we live so long as we have each other?"

She drew away to hide her tears and left the room on pretence of
inspecting the house. She looked into the dining-room and kitchen
and opened the cupboards, and when she returned there were no
visible signs of trouble in her face.

"It's a cute little house, isn't it?" she said. "I've always
wanted a little place like this--all to ourselves. Oh, if you only
knew how tired I am of New York and its great ugly houses, its
retinue of servants and its domestic and social responsibilities!
We shall be able to live for ourselves now, eh, father?"

She spoke with a forced gaiety that might have deceived anyone but
the judge. He understood the motive of her sudden change in manner
and silently he blessed her for making his burden lighter.

"Yes, dear, it's not bad," he said. "There's not much room,
though."

"There's quite enough," she insisted. "Let me see." She began to
count on her fingers. "Upstairs--three rooms, eh? and above that
three more--"

"No," smiled the judge, "then comes the roof?"

"Of course," she laughed, "how stupid of me--a nice gable roof, a
sloping roof that the rain runs off beautifully. Oh, I can see
that this is going to be awfully jolly--just like camping out. You
know how I love camping out. And you have a piano, too."

She went over to the corner where stood one of those homely
instruments which hardly deserve to be dignified by the name
piano, with a cheap, gaudily painted case outside and a tin pan
effect inside, and which are usually to be found in the poorer
class of country boarding houses. Shirley sat down and ran her
fingers over the keys, determined to like everything.

"It's a little old," was her comment, "but I like these zither
effects. It's just like the sixteenth century spinet. I can see
you and mother dancing a stately minuet," she smiled.

"What's that about mother dancing?" demanded Mrs. Rossmore, who at
that instant entered the room. Shirley arose and appealed to her:

"Isn't it absurd, mother, when you come to think of it, that
anybody should accuse father of being corrupt and of having
forfeited the right to be judge? Isn't it still more absurd that
we should be helpless and dejected and unhappy because we are on
Long Island instead of Madison Avenue? Why should Manhattan Island
be a happier spot than Long Island? Why shouldn't we be happy
anywhere; we have each other. And we do need each other. We never
knew how much till to-day, did we? We must stand by each other
now. Father is going to clear his name of this preposterous charge
and we're going to help him, aren't we, mother? We're not helpless
just because we are women. We're going to work, mother and I."

"Work?" echoed Mrs. Rossmore, somewhat scandalized.

"Work," repeated Shirley very decisively.

The judge interfered. He would not hear of it.

"You work, Shirley? Impossible!"

"Why not? My book has been selling well while I was abroad. I
shall probably write others. Then I shall write, too, for the
newspapers and magazines. It will add to our income."

"Your book--'The American Octopus,' is selling well?" inquired the
judge, interested.

"So well," replied Shirley, "that the publishers wrote me in Paris
that the fourth edition was now on the press. That means good
royalties. I shall soon be a fashionable author. The publishers
will be after me for more books and we'll have all the money we
want. Oh, it is so delightful, this novel sensation of a literary
success!" she exclaimed with glee. "Aren't you proud of me, dad?"

The judge smiled indulgently. Of course he was glad and proud. He
always knew his Shirley was a clever girl. But by what strange
fatality, he thought to himself, had his daughter in this book of
hers assailed the very man who had encompassed his own ruin? It
seemed like the retribution of heaven. Neither his daughter nor
the financier was conscious of the fact that each was indirectly
connected with the impeachment proceedings. Ryder could not dream
that "Shirley Green," the author of the book which flayed him so
mercilessly, was the daughter of the man he was trying to crush.
Shirley, on the other hand, was still unaware of the fact that it
was Ryder who had lured her father to his ruin.

Mrs. Rossmore now insisted on Shirley going to her room to rest.
She must be tired and dusty. After changing her travelling dress
she would feel refreshed and more comfortable. When she was ready
to come down again luncheon would be served. So leaving the judge
to his papers, mother and daughter went upstairs together, and
with due maternal pride Mrs. Rossmore pointed out to Shirley all
the little arrangements she had made for her comfort. Then she
left her daughter to herself while she hurried downstairs to look
after Eudoxia and luncheon.

When, at last, she could lock herself in her room where no eye
could see her, Shirley threw herself down on the bed and burst
into a torrent of tears. She had kept up appearances as long as it
was possible, but now the reaction had set in. She gave way freely
to her pent up feelings, she felt that unless she could relieve
herself in this way her heart would break. She had been brave
until now, she had been strong to hear everything and see
everything, but she could not keep it up forever. Stott's words to
her on the dock had in part prepared her for the worst, he had
told her what to expect at home, but the realization was so much
more vivid. While hundreds of miles of ocean still lay between, it
had all seemed less real, almost attractive as a romance in modern
life, but now she was face to face with the grim reality--this
shabby cottage, cheap neighbourhood and commonplace surroundings,
her mother's air of resignation to the inevitable, her father's
pale, drawn face telling so eloquently of the keen mental anguish
through which he had passed. She compared this pitiful spectacle
with what they had been when she left for Europe, the fine mansion
on Madison Avenue with its rich furnishings and well-trained
servants, and her father's proud aristocratic face illumined with
the consciousness of his high rank in the community, and the
attention he attracted every time he appeared on the street or in
public places as one of the most brilliant and most respected
judges on the bench. Then to have come to this all in the brief
space of a few months! It was incredible, terrible, heart rending!
And what of the future? What was to be done to save her father
from this impeachment which she knew well would hurry him to his
grave? He could not survive that humiliation, that degradation. He
must be saved in the Senate, but how--how?

She dried her eyes and began to think. Surely her woman's wit
would find some way. She thought of Jefferson. Would he come to
Massapequa? It was hardly probable. He would certainly learn of
the change in their circumstances and his sense of delicacy would
naturally keep him away for some time even if other considerations,
less unselfish, did not. Perhaps he would be attracted to some
other girl he would like as well and who was not burdened with a
tragedy in her family. Her tears began to flow afresh until she
hated herself for being so weak while there was work to be done to
save her father. She loved Jefferson. Yes, she had never felt so
sure of it as now. She felt that if she had him there at that
moment she would throw herself in his arms crying: "Take me,
Jefferson, take me away, where you will, for I love you! I love
you!" But Jefferson was not there and the rickety chairs in the
tiny bedroom and the cheap prints on the walls seemed to jibe at
her in her misery. If he were there, she thought as she looked
into a cracked mirror, he would think her very ugly with her eyes
all red from crying. He would not marry her now in any case. No
self-respecting man would. She was glad that she had spoken to him
as she had in regard to marriage, for while a stain remained upon
her father's name marriage was out of the question. She might have
yielded on the question of the literary career, but she would
never allow a man to taunt her afterwards with the disgrace of her
own flesh and blood. No, henceforth her place was at her father's
side until his character was cleared. If the trial in the Senate
were to go against him, then she could never see Jefferson again.
She would give up all idea of him and everything else. Her
literary career would be ended, her life would be a blank. They
would have to go abroad, where they were not known, and try and
live down their shame, for no matter how innocent her father might
be the world would believe him guilty. Once condemned by the
Senate, nothing could remove the stigma. She would have to teach
in order to contribute towards the support, they would manage
somehow. But what a future, how unnecessary, how unjust!

Suddenly she thought of Jefferson's promise to interest his father
in their case and she clutched at the hope this promise held out
as a drowning man clutches at a drifting straw. Jefferson would
not forget his promise and he would come to Massapequa to tell her
of what he had done. She was sure of that. Perhaps, after all,
there was where their hope lay. Why had she not told her father at
once? It might have relieved his mind. John Burkett Ryder, the
Colossus, the man of unlimited power! He could save her father and
he would. And the more she thought about it, the more cheerful and
more hopeful she became, and she started to dress quickly so that
she might hurry down to tell her father the good news. She was
actually sorry now that she had said so many hard things of Mr.
Ryder in her book and she was worrying over the thought that her
father's case might be seriously prejudiced if the identity of the
author were ever revealed, when there came a knock at her door. It
was Eudoxia.

"Please, miss, will you come down to lunch?"



CHAPTER VIII


A whirling maelstrom of human activity and dynamic energy--the
city which above all others is characteristic of the genius and
virility of the American people--New York, with its congested
polyglot population and teeming millions, is assuredly one of the
busiest, as it is one of the most strenuous and most noisy places
on earth. Yet, despite its swarming streets and crowded shops,
ceaselessly thronged with men and women eagerly hurrying here and
there in the pursuit of business or elusive pleasure, all
chattering, laughing, shouting amid the deafening, multisonous
roar of traffic incidental to Gotham's daily life, there is one
part of the great metropolis where there is no bustle, no noise,
no crowd, where the streets are empty even in daytime, where a
passer-by is a curiosity and a child a phenomenon. This deserted
village in the very heart of the big town is the millionaires'
district, the boundaries of which are marked by Carnegie hill on
the north, Fiftieth Street on the south, and by Fifth and Madison
Avenues respectively on the west and east. There is nothing more
mournful than the outward aspect of these princely residences
which, abandoned and empty for three-quarters of the year, stand
in stately loneliness, as if ashamed of their isolation and utter
uselessness. Their blinds drawn, affording no hint of life within,
enveloped the greater part of the time in the stillness and
silence of the tomb, they appear to be under the spell of some
baneful curse. No merry-voiced children romp in their carefully
railed off gardens, no sounds of conversation or laughter come
from their hermetically closed windows, not a soul goes in or out,
at most, at rare intervals, does one catch a glimpse of a
gorgeously arrayed servant gliding about in ghostly fashion,
supercilious and suspicious, and addressing the chance visitor in
awed whispers as though he were the guardian of a house of
affliction. It is, indeed, like a city of the dead.

So it appeared to Jefferson as he walked up Fifth Avenue, bound
for the Ryder residence, the day following his arrival from
Europe. Although he still lived at his father's house, for at no
time had there been an open rupture, he often slept in his studio,
finding it more convenient for his work, and there he had gone
straight from the ship. He felt, however, that it was his duty to
see his mother as soon as possible; besides he was anxious to
fulfil his promise to Shirley and find what his father could do to
help Judge Rossmore. He had talked about the case with several men
the previous evening at the club and the general impression seemed
to be that, guilty or innocent, the judge would be driven off the
bench. The "interests" had forced the matter as a party issue, and
the Republicans being in control in the Senate the outcome could
hardly be in doubt. He had learned also of the other misfortunes
which had befallen Judge Rossmore and he understood now the reason
for Shirley's grave face on the dock and her little fib about
summering on Long Island. The news had been a shock to him, for,
apart from the fact that the judge was Shirley's father, he
admired him immensely as a man. Of his perfect innocence there
could, of course, be no question: these charges of bribery had
simply been trumped up by his enemies to get him off the bench.
That was very evident. The "interests" feared him and so had
sacrificed him without pity, and as Jefferson walked along Central
Park, past the rows of superb palaces which face its eastern wall,
he wondered in which particular mansion had been hatched this
wicked, iniquitous plot against a wholly blameless American
citizen. Here, he thought, were the citadels of the plutocrats,
America's aristocracy of money, the strongholds of her Coal,
Railroad, Oil, Gas and Ice barons, the castles of her monarchs of
Steel, Copper, and Finance. Each of these million-dollar
residences, he pondered, was filled from cellar to roof with
costly furnishings, masterpieces of painting and sculpture,
priceless art treasures of all kinds purchased in every corner of
the globe with the gold filched from a Trust-ridden people. For
every stone in those marble halls a human being, other than the
owner, had been sold into bondage, for each of these magnificent
edifices, which the plutocrat put up in his pride only to occupy
it two months in the year, ten thousand American men, women and
children had starved and sorrowed.

Europe, thought Jefferson as he strode quickly along, pointed with
envy to America's unparalleled prosperity, spoke with bated breath
of her great fortunes. Rather should they say her gigantic
robberies, her colossal frauds! As a nation we were not proud of
our multi-millionaires. How many of them would bear the searchlight
of investigation? Would his own father? How many millions could
one man make by honest methods? America was enjoying unprecedented
prosperity, not because of her millionaires, but in spite of them.
The United States owed its high rank in the family of nations to
the country's vast natural resources, its inexhaustible vitality,
its great wheat fields, the industrial and mechanical genius of
its people. It was the plain American citizen who had made the
greatness of America, not the millionaires who, forming a class by
themselves of unscrupulous capitalists, had created an arrogant
oligarchy which sought to rule the country by corrupting the
legislature and the judiciary. The plutocrats--these were the
leeches, the sores in the body politic. An organized band of
robbers, they had succeeded in dominating legislation and in
securing control of every branch of the nation's industry,
crushing mercilessly and illegally all competition. They were the
Money Power, and such a menace were they to the welfare of the
people that, it had been estimated, twenty men in America had it
in their power, by reason of the vast wealth which they controlled,
to come together, and within twenty-four hours arrive at an
understanding by which every wheel of trade and commerce would be
stopped from revolving, every avenue of trade blocked and every
electric key struck dumb. Those twenty men could paralyze the
whole country, for they controlled the circulation of the currency
and could create a panic whenever they might choose. It was the
rapaciousness and insatiable greed of these plutocrats that had
forced the toilers to combine for self-protection, resulting in
the organization of the Labor Unions which, in time, became almost
as tyrannical and unreasonable as the bosses. And the breach
between capital on the one hand and labour on the other was
widening daily, masters and servants snarling over wages and
hours, the quarrel ever increasing in bitterness and acrimony
until one day the extreme limit of patience would be reached and
industrial strikes would give place to bloody violence.

Meantime the plutocrats, wholly careless of the significant signs
of the times and the growing irritation and resentment of the
people, continued their illegal practices, scoffing at public
opinion, snapping their fingers at the law, even going so far in
their insolence as to mock and jibe at the President of the United
States. Feeling secure in long immunity and actually protected in
their wrong doing by the courts--the legal machinery by its very
elaborateness defeating the ends of justice--the Trust kings
impudently defied the country and tried to impose their own will
upon the people. History had thus repeated itself. The armed
feudalism of the middle ages had been succeeded in twentieth
century America by the tyranny of capital.

Yet, ruminated the young artist as he neared the Ryder residence,
the American people had but themselves to blame for their present
thralldom. Forty years before Abraham Lincoln had warned the
country when at the close of the war he saw that the race for
wealth was already making men and women money-mad. In 1864 he
wrote these words:

"Yes, we may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing
its close. It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood. The
best blood of the flower of American youth has been freely offered
upon our country's altar that the nation might live. It has been
indeed a trying hour for the Republic, but I see in the near
future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to
tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war,
corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high
places will follow and the money power of the country will
endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of
the people until all the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and
the Republic is destroyed."

Truly prophetic these solemn words were to-day. Forgetting the
austere simplicity of their forebears, a love of show and
ostentation had become the ruling passion of the American people.
Money, MONEY, MONEY! was to-day the only standard, the only god!
The whole nation, frenzied with a wild lust for wealth no matter
how acquired, had tacitly acquiesced in all sorts of turpitude,
every description of moral depravity, and so had fallen an easy
victim to the band of capitalistic adventurers who now virtually
ruled the land. With the thieves in power, the courts were
powerless, the demoralization was general and the world was
afforded the edifying spectacle of an entire country given up to
an orgy of graft--treason in the Senate--corruption in the
Legislature, fraudulent elections, leaks in government reports,
trickery in Wall Street, illegal corners in coal, meat, ice and
other prime necessaries of life, the deadly horrors of the Beef
and Drug Trusts, railroad conspiracies, insurance scandals, the
wrecking of savings banks, police dividing spoils with pickpockets
and sharing the wages of prostitutes, magistrates charged with
blackmailing--a foul stench of social rottenness and decay! What,
thought Jefferson, would be the outcome--Socialism or Anarchy?

Still, he mused, one ray of hope pierced the general gloom--the
common sense, the vigour and the intelligence of the true American
man and woman, the love for a "square deal" which was characteristic
of the plain people, the resistless force of enlightened public
opinion. The country was merely passing through a dark phase in
its history, it was the era of the grafters. There would come a
reaction, the rascals would be exposed and driven off, and the
nation would go on upward toward its high destiny. The country
was fortunate, too, in having a strong president, a man of high
principles and undaunted courage who had already shown his
capacity to deal with the critical situation. America was lucky
with her presidents. Picked out by the great political parties as
mere figureheads, sometimes they deceived their sponsors, and
showed themselves men and patriots. Such a president was Theodore
Roosevelt. After beginning vigorous warfare on the Trusts,
attacking fearlessly the most rascally of the band, the chief of
the nation had sounded the slogan of alarm in regard to the
multi-millionaires. The amassing of colossal fortunes, he had
declared, must be stopped--a man might accumulate more than
sufficient for his own needs and for the needs of his children,
but the evil practice of perpetuating great and ever-increasing
fortunes for generations yet unborn was recognized as a peril to
the State. To have had the courage to propose such a sweeping and
radical restrictive measure as this should alone, thought
Jefferson, ensure for Theodore Roosevelt a place among America's
greatest and wisest statesmen. He and Americans of his calibre
would eventually perform the titanic task of cleansing these
Augean stables, the muck and accumulated filth of which was
sapping the health and vitality of the nation.

Jefferson turned abruptly and went up the wide steps of an
imposing white marble edifice, which took up the space of half a
city block. A fine example of French Renaissance architecture,
with spire roofs, round turrets and mullioned windows dominating
the neighbouring houses, this magnificent home of the plutocrat,
with its furnishings and art treasures, had cost John Burkett
Ryder nearly ten millions of dollars. It was one of the show
places of the town, and when the "rubber neck" wagons approached
the Ryder mansion and the guides, through their megaphones,
expatiated in awe-stricken tones on its external and hidden
beauties, there was a general craning of vertebrae among the
"seeing New York"-ers to catch a glimpse of the abode of the
richest man in the world.

Only a few privileged ones were ever permitted to penetrate to the
interior of this ten-million-dollar home. Ryder was not fond of
company, he avoided strangers and lived in continual apprehension
of the subpoena server. Not that he feared the law, only he
usually found it inconvenient to answer questions in court under
oath. The explicit instructions to the servants, therefore, were
to admit no one under any pretext whatever unless the visitor had
been approved by the Hon. Fitzroy Bagley, Mr. Ryder's aristocratic
private secretary, and to facilitate this preliminary inspection
there had been installed between the library upstairs and the
front door one of those ingenious electric writing devices, such
as are used in banks, on which a name is hastily scribbled,
instantly transmitted elsewhere, immediately answered and the
visitor promptly admitted or as quickly shown the door.

Indeed the house, from the street, presented many of the
characteristics of a prison. It had massive doors behind a row of
highly polished steel gates, which would prove as useful in case
of attempted invasion as they were now ornamental, and heavily
barred windows, while on either side of the portico were great
marble columns hung with chains and surmounted with bronze lions
rampant. It was unusual to keep the town house open so late in the
summer, but Mr. Ryder was obliged for business reasons to be in
New York at this time, and Mrs. Ryder, who was one of the few
American wives who do not always get their own way, had
good-naturedly acquiesced in the wishes of her lord.

Jefferson did not have to ring at the paternal portal. The
sentinel within was at his post; no one could approach that door
without being seen and his arrival and appearance signalled
upstairs. But the great man's son headed the list of the
privileged ones, so without ado the smartly dressed flunkey opened
wide the doors and Jefferson was under his father's roof.

"Is my father in?" he demanded of the man.

"No, sir," was the respectful answer. "Mr. Ryder has gone out
driving, but Mr. Bagley is upstairs." Then after a brief pause he
added: "Mrs. Ryder is in, too."

In this household where the personality of the mistress was so
completely overshadowed by the stronger personality of the master
the latter's secretary was a more important personage to the
servants than the unobtrusive wife.

Jefferson went up the grand staircase hung on either side with
fine old portraits and rare tapestries, his feet sinking deep in
the rich velvet carpet. On the first landing was a piece of
sculptured marble of inestimable worth, seen in the soft warm
light that sifted through a great pictorial stained-glass window
overhead, the subject representing Ajax and Ulysses contending for
the armour of Achilles. To the left of this, at the top of another
flight leading to the library, was hung a fine full-length
portrait of John Burkett Ryder. The ceilings here as in the lower
hall were richly gilt and adorned with paintings by famous modern
artists. When he reached this floor Jefferson was about to turn to
the right and proceed direct to his mother's suite when he heard a
voice near the library door. It was Mr. Bagley giving instructions
to the butler.

The Honourable Fitzroy Bagley, a younger son of a British peer,
had left his country for his country's good, and in order to turn
an honest penny, which he had never succeeded in doing at home, he
had entered the service of America's foremost financier, hoping to
gather a few of the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table and
disguising the menial nature of his position under the high-sounding
title of private secretary. His job called for a spy and a toady and
he filled these requirements admirably. Excepting with his employer,
of whom he stood in craven fear, his manner was condescendingly
patronizing to all with whom he came in contact, as if he were
anxious to impress on these American plebeians the signal honour
which a Fitzroy, son of a British peer, did them in deigning to
remain in their "blarsted" country. In Mr. Ryder's absence,
therefore, he ran the house to suit himself, bullying the servants
and not infrequently issuing orders that were contradictory to
those already given by Mrs. Ryder. The latter offered no resistance,
she knew he was useful to her husband and, what to her mind was a
still better reason for letting him have his own way, she had
always had the greatest reverence for the British aristocracy. It
would have seemed to her little short of vulgarity to question the
actions of anyone who spoke with such a delightful English accent.
Moreover, he dressed with irreproachable taste, was an acknowledged
authority on dinner menus and social functions and knew his Burke
backwards--altogether an accomplished and invaluable person.

Jefferson could not bear the sight of him; in fact, it was this
man's continual presence in the house that had driven him to seek
refuge elsewhere. He believed him to be a scoundrel as he
certainly was a cad. Nor was his estimate of the English secretary
far wrong. The man, like his master, was a grafter, and the
particular graft he was after now was either to make a marriage
with a rich American girl or to so compromise her that the same
end would be attained. He was shrewd enough to realize that he had
little chance to get what he wanted in the open matrimonial
market, so he determined to attempt a raid and carry off an
heiress under her father's nose, and the particular proboscis he
had selected was that of his employer's friend, Senator Roberts.
The senator and Miss Roberts were frequently at the Ryder House
and in course of time the aristocratic secretary and the daughter
had become quite intimate. A flighty girl, with no other purpose
in life beyond dress and amusement and having what she termed "a
good time," Kate thought it excellent pastime to flirt with Mr.
Bagley, and when she discovered that he was serious in his
attentions she felt flattered rather than indignant. After all,
she argued, he was of noble birth. If his two brothers died he
would be peer of England, and she had enough money for both. He
might not make a bad husband. But she was careful to keep her own
counsel and not let her father have any suspicion of what was
going on. She knew that his heart was set on her marrying
Jefferson Ryder and she knew better than anyone how impossible
that dream was. She herself liked Jefferson quite enough to marry
him, but if his eyes were turned in another direction--and she
knew all about his attentions to Miss Rossmore--she was not going
to break her heart about it. So she continued to flirt secretly
with the Honourable Fitzroy while she still led the Ryders and her
own father to think that she was interested in Jefferson.

"Jorkins," Mr. Bagley was saying to the butler, "Mr. Ryder will
occupy the library on his return. See that he is not disturbed."

"Yes, sir," replied the butler respectfully. The man turned to go
when the secretary called him back.

"And, Jorkins, you will station another man at the front entrance.
Yesterday it was left unguarded, and a man had the audacity to
address Mr. Ryder as he was getting out of his carriage. Last week
a reporter tried to snapshot him. Mr. Ryder was furious. These
things must not happen again, Jorkins. I shall hold you
responsible."

"Very good, sir." The butler bowed and went downstairs. The
secretary looked up and saw Jefferson. His face reddened and his
manner grew nervous.

"Hello! Back from Europe, Jefferson? How jolly! Your mother will
be delighted. She's in her room upstairs."

Declining to take the hint, and gathering from Bagley's
embarrassed manner that he wanted to get rid of him, Jefferson
lingered purposely. When the butler had disappeared, he said:

"This house is getting more and more like a barracks every day.
You've got men all over the place. One can't move a step without
falling over one."

Mr. Bagley drew himself up stiffly, as he always did when assuming
an air of authority.

"Your father's personality demands the utmost precaution," he
replied. "We cannot leave the life of the richest and most
powerful financier in the world at the mercy of the rabble."

"What rabble?" inquired Jefferson, amused.

"The common rabble--the lower class--the riff-raff," explained Mr.
Bagley.

"Pshaw!" laughed Jefferson. "If our financiers were only half as
respectable as the common rabble, as you call them, they would
need no bars to their houses."

Mr. Bagley sneered and shrugged his shoulders.

"Your father has warned me against your socialistic views." Then,
with a lofty air, he added: "For four years I was third groom of
the bedchamber to the second son of England's queen. I know my
responsibilities."

"But you are not groom of the bedchamber here," retorted
Jefferson.

"Whatever I am," said Mr. Bagley haughtily, "I am answerable to
your father alone."

"By the way, Bagley," asked Jefferson, "when do you expect father
to return? I want to see him."

"I'm afraid it's quite impossible," answered the secretary with
studied insolence. "He has three important people to see before
dinner. There's the National Republican Committee and Sergeant
Ellison of the Secret Service from Washington--all here by
appointment. It's quite impossible."

"I didn't ask you if it were possible. I said I wanted to see him
and I will see him," answered Jefferson quietly but firmly, and in
a tone and manner which did not admit of further opposition. "I'll
go and leave word for him on his desk," he added.

He started to enter the library when the secretary, who was
visibly perturbed, attempted to bar his way.

"There's some one in there," he said in an undertone. "Someone
waiting for your father."

"Is there?" replied Jefferson coolly. "I'll see who it is," with
which he brushed past Mr. Bagley and entered the library.

He had guessed aright. A woman was there. It was Kate Roberts.

"Hello, Kate! how are you?" They called each other by their first
names, having been acquainted for years, and while theirs was an
indifferent kind of friendship they had always been on good terms.
At one time Jefferson had even begun to think he might do what his
father wished and marry the girl, but it was only after he had met
and known Shirley Rossmore that he realized how different one
woman can be from another. Yet Kate had her good qualities. She
was frivolous and silly as are most girls with no brains and
nothing else to do in life but dress and spend money, but she
might yet be happy with some other fellow, and that was why it
made him angry to see this girl with $100,000 in her own right
playing into the hands of an unscrupulous adventurer. He had
evidently disturbed an interesting _tête-à-tête_. He decided to
say nothing, but mentally he resolved to spoil Mr. Bagley's game
and save Kate from her own folly. On hearing his voice Kate turned
and gave a little cry of genuine surprise.

"Why, is it you, Jeff? I thought you were in Europe."

"I returned yesterday," he replied somewhat curtly. He crossed
over to his father's desk where he sat down to scribble a few
words, while Mr. Bagley, who had followed him in scowling, was
making frantic dumb signs to Kate.

"I fear I intrude here," said Jefferson pointedly.

"Oh, dear no, not at all," replied Kate in some confusion. "I was
waiting for my father. How is Paris?" she asked.

"Lovely as ever," he answered.

"Did you have a good time?" she inquired.

"I enjoyed it immensely. I never had a better one."

"You probably were in good company," she said significantly. Then
she added: "I believe Miss Rossmore was in Paris."

"Yes, I think she was there," was his non-committal answer.

To change the conversation, which was becoming decidedly personal,
he picked up a book that was lying on his father's desk and
glanced at the title. It was "The American Octopus."

"Is father still reading this?" he asked. "He was at it when I
left."

"Everybody is reading it," said Kate. "The book has made a big
sensation. Do you know who the hero is?"

"Who?" he asked with an air of the greatest innocence.

"Why, no less a personage than your father--John Burkett Ryder
himself! Everybody says it's he--the press and everybody that's
read it. He says so himself."

"Really?" he exclaimed with well-simulated surprise. "I must read
it."

"It has made a strong impression on Mr. Ryder," chimed in Mr.
Bagley. "I never knew him to be so interested in a book before.
He's trying his best to find out who the author is. It's a jolly
well written book and raps you American millionaires jolly
well--what?"

"Whoever wrote the book," interrupted Kate, "is somebody who knows
Mr. Ryder exceedingly well. There are things in it that an
outsider could not possibly know."

"Phew!" Jefferson whistled softly to himself. He was treading
dangerous ground. To conceal his embarrassment, he rose.

"If you'll excuse me, I'll go and pay my filial respects upstairs.
I'll see you again," He gave Kate a friendly nod, and without even
glancing at Mr. Bagley left the room.

The couple stood in silence for a few moments after he
disappeared. Then Kate went to the door and listened to his
retreating footsteps. When she was sure that he was out of earshot
she turned on Mr. Bagley indignantly.

"You see what you expose me to. Jefferson thinks this was a
rendezvous."

"Well, it was to a certain extent," replied the secretary
unabashed. "Didn't you ask me to see you here?"

"Yes," said Kate, taking a letter from her bosom, "I wanted to ask
you what this means?"

"My dear Miss Roberts--Kate--I"--stammered the secretary.

"How dare you address me in this manner when you know I and Mr.
Ryder are engaged?"

No one knew better than Kate that this was not true, but she said
it partly out of vanity, partly out of a desire to draw out this
Englishman who made such bold love to her.

"Miss Roberts," replied Mr. Bagley loftily, "in that note I
expressed my admiration--my love for you. Your engagement to Mr.
Jefferson Ryder is, to say the least, a most uncertain fact."
There was a tinge of sarcasm in his voice that did not escape
Kate.

"You must not judge from appearances," she answered, trying to
keep up the outward show of indignation which inwardly she did not
feel. "Jeff and I may hide a passion that burns like a volcano.
All lovers are not demonstrative, you know."

The absurdity of this description as applied to her relations with
Jefferson appealed to her as so comical that she burst into
laughter in which the secretary joined.

"Then why did you remain here with me when the Senator went out
with Mr. Ryder, senior?" he demanded.

"To tell you that I cannot listen to your nonsense any longer,"
retorted the girl.

"What?" he cried, incredulously. "You remain here to tell me that
you cannot listen to me when you could easily have avoided
listening to me without telling me so. Kate, your coldness is not
convincing."

"You mean you think I want to listen to you?" she demanded.

"I do," he answered, stepping forward as if to take her in his
arms.

"Mr. Bagley!" she exclaimed, recoiling.

"A week ago," he persisted, "you called me Fitzroy. Once, in an
outburst of confidence, you called me Fitz."

"You hadn't asked me to marry you then," she laughed mockingly.
Then edging away towards the door she waved her hand at him
playfully and said teasingly: "Good-bye, Mr. Bagley, I am going
upstairs to Mrs. Ryder. I will await my father's return in her
room. I think I shall be safer."

He ran forward to intercept her, but she was too quick for him.
The door slammed in his face and she was gone.

Meantime Jefferson had proceeded upstairs, passing through long
and luxuriously carpeted corridors with panelled frescoed walls,
and hung with grand old tapestries and splendid paintings, until
he came to his mother's room. He knocked.

"Come in!" called out the familiar voice.

He entered. Mrs. Ryder was busy at her escritoire looking over a
mass of household accounts.

"Hello, mother!" he cried, running up and hugging her in his
boyish, impulsive way. Jefferson had always been devoted to his
mother, and while he deplored her weakness in permitting herself
to be so completely under the domination of his father, she had
always found him an affectionate and loving son.

"Jefferson!" she exclaimed when he released her. "My dear boy,
when did you arrive?"

"Only yesterday. I slept at the studio last night. You're looking
bully, mother. How's father?"

Mrs. Ryder sighed while she looked her son over proudly. In her
heart she was glad Jefferson had turned out as he had. Her boy
certainly would never be a financier to be attacked in magazines
and books. Answering his question she said:

"Your father is as well as those busybodies in the newspapers will
let him be. He's considerably worried just now over that new book
'The American Octopus.' How dare they make him out such a monster?
He's no worse than other successful business men. He's richer,
that's all, and it makes them jealous. He's out driving now with
Senator Roberts. Kate is somewhere in the house--in the library, I
think."

"Yes, I found her there," replied Jefferson dryly. "She was with
that cad, Bagley. When is father going to find that fellow out?"

"Oh, Jefferson," protested his mother, "how can you talk like that
of Mr. Bagley. He is such a perfect gentleman. His family
connections alone should entitle him to respect. He is certainly
the best secretary your father ever had. I'm sure I don't know
what we should do without him. He knows everything that a
gentleman should."

"And a good deal more, I wager," growled Jefferson. "He wasn't
groom of the backstairs to England's queen for nothing." Then
changing the topic, he said suddenly: "Talking about Kate, mother,
we have got to reach some definite understanding. This talk about
my marrying her must stop. I intend to take the matter up with
father to-day."

"Oh, of course, more trouble!" replied his mother in a resigned
tone. She was so accustomed to having her wishes thwarted that she
was never surprised at anything. "We heard of your goings on in
Paris. That Miss Rossmore was there, was she not?"

"That has got nothing to do with it," replied Jefferson warmly. He
resented Shirley's name being dragged into the discussion. Then
more calmly he went on: "Now, mother, be reasonable, listen. I
purpose to live my own life. I have already shown my father that I
will not be dictated to, and that I can earn my own living. He has
no right to force this marriage on me. There has never been any
misunderstanding on Kate's part. She and I understand each other
thoroughly."

"Well, Jefferson, you may be right from your point of view,"
replied his mother weakly. She invariably ended by agreeing with
the last one who argued with her. "You are of age, of course. Your
parents have only a moral right over you. Only remember this: it
would be foolish of you to do anything now to anger your father.
His interests are your interests. Don't do anything to jeopardize
them. Of course, you can't be forced to marry a girl you don't
care for, but your father will be bitterly disappointed. He had
set his heart on this match. He knows all about your infatuation
for Miss Rossmore and it has made him furious. I suppose you've
heard about her father?"

"Yes, and it's a dastardly outrage," blurted out Jefferson. "It's
a damnable conspiracy against one of the most honourable men that
ever lived, and I mean to ferret out and expose the authors. I
came here to-day to ask father to help me."

"You came to ask your father to help you?" echoed his mother
incredulously.

"Why not?" demanded Jefferson. "Is it true then that he is
selfishness incarnate? Wouldn't he do that much to help a friend?"

"You've come to the wrong house, Jeff. You ought to know that.
Your father is far from being Judge Rossmore's friend. Surely you
have sense enough to realize that there are two reasons why he
would not raise a finder to help him. One is that he has always
been his opponent in public life, the other is that you want to
marry his daughter."

Jefferson sat as if struck dumb. He had not thought of that. Yes,
it was true. His father and the father of the girl he loved were
mortal enemies. How was help to be expected from the head of those
"interests" which the judge had always attacked, and now he came
to think of it, perhaps his own father was really at the bottom of
these abominable charges! He broke into a cold perspiration and
his voice was altered as he said:

"Yes, I see now, mother. You are right." Then he added bitterly:
"That has always been the trouble at home. No matter where I turn,
I am up against a stone wall--the money interests. One never hears
a glimmer of fellow-feeling, never a word of human sympathy, only
cold calculation, heartless reasoning, money, money, money! Oh, I
am sick of it. I don't want any of it. I am going away where I'll
hear no more of it."

His mother laid her hand gently on his shoulder.

"Don't talk that way, Jefferson. Your father is not a bad man at
heart, you know that. His life has been devoted to money making
and he has made a greater fortune than any man living or dead. He
is only what his life has made him. He has a good heart. And he
loves you--his only son. But his business enemies--ah! those he
never forgives."

Jefferson was about to reply when suddenly a dozen electric bells
sounded all over the house.

"What's that?" exclaimed Jefferson, alarmed, and starting towards
the door.

"Oh, that's nothing," smiled his mother. "We have had that put in
since you went away. Your father must have just come in. Those
bells announce the fact. It was done so that if there happened to
be any strangers in the house they could be kept out of the way
until he reached the library safely."

"Oh," laughed Jefferson, "he's afraid some one will kidnap him?
Certainly he would be a rich prize. I wouldn't care for the job
myself, though. They'd be catching a tartar."

His speech was interrupted by a timid knock at the door.

"May I come in to say good-bye?" asked a voice which they
recognized as Kate's. She had successfully escaped from Mr.
Bagley's importunities and was now going home with the Senator.
She smiled amiably at Jefferson and they chatted pleasantly of his
trip abroad. He was sincerely sorry for this girl whom they were
trying to foist on him. Not that he thought she really cared for
him, he was well aware that hers was a nature that made it
impossible to feel very deeply on any subject, but the idea of
this ready-made marriage was so foreign, so revolting to the
American mind! He thought it would be a kindness to warn her
against Bagley.

"Don't be foolish, Kate," he said. "I was not blind just now in
the library. That man is no good."

As is usual when one's motives are suspected, the girl resented
his interference. She knew he hated Mr. Bagley and she thought it
mean of him to try and get even in this way. She stiffened up and
replied coldly:

"I think I am able to look after myself, Jefferson. Thanks, all
the same."

He shrugged his shoulders and made no reply. She said good-bye to
Mrs. Ryder, who was again immersed in her tradespeople bills, and
left the room, escorted by Jefferson, who accompanied her
downstairs and on to the street where Senator Roberts was waiting
for her in the open victoria. The senator greeted with unusual
cordiality the young man whom he still hoped to make his
son-in-law.

"Come and see us, Jefferson," he said. "Come to dinner any
evening. We are always alone and Kate and I will be glad to see
you."

"Jefferson has so little time now, father. His work and--his
friends keep him pretty busy,"

Jefferson had noted both the pause and the sarcasm, but he said
nothing. He smiled and the senator raised his hat. As the carriage
drove off the young man noticed that Kate glanced at one of the
upper windows where Mr. Bagley stood behind a curtain watching.
Jefferson returned to the house. The psychological moment had
arrived. He must go now and confront his father in the library.



CHAPTER IX


The library was the most important room in the Ryder mansion, for
it was there that the Colossus carried through his most important
business deals, and its busiest hours were those which most men
devote to rest. But John Burkett Ryder never rested. There could
be no rest for any man who had a thousand millions of dollars to
take care of. Like Macbeth, he could sleep no more. When the hum
of business life had ceased down town and he returned home from
the tall building in lower Broadway, then his real work began. The
day had been given to mere business routine; in his own library at
night, free from inquisitive ears and prying eyes, he could devise
new schemes for strengthening his grip upon the country, he could
evolve more gigantic plans for adding to his already countless
millions.

Here the money Moloch held court like any king, with as much
ceremony and more secrecy, and having for his courtiers some of
the most prominent men in the political and industrial life of
the nation. Corrupt senators, grafting Congressmen, ambitious
railroad presidents, insolent coal barons who impudently claimed
they administered the coal lands in trust for the Almighty,
unscrupulous princes of finance and commerce, all visited this
room to receive orders or pay from the head of the "System."
Here were made and unmade governors of States, mayors of cities,
judges, heads of police, cabinet ministers, even presidents. Here
were turned over to confidential agents millions of dollars to
overturn the people's vote in the National elections; here were
distributed yearly hundreds of thousands of dollars to grafters,
large and small, who had earned it in the service of the
"interests."

Here, secretly and unlawfully, the heads of railroads met to agree
on rates which by discriminating against one locality in favour of
another crushed out competition, raised the cost to the consumer,
and put millions in the pockets of the Trust. Here were planned
tricky financial operations, with deliberate intent to mislead and
deceive the investing public, operations which would send stocks
soaring one day, only a week later to put Wall Street on the verge
of panic. Half a dozen suicides might result from the coup, but
twice as many millions of profits had gone into the coffers of the
"System." Here, too, was perpetrated the most heinous crime that
can be committed against a free people--the conspiring of the
Trusts abetted by the railroads, to arbitrarily raise the prices
of the necessaries of life--meat, coal, oil, ice, gas--wholly
without other justification than that of greed, which, with these
men, was the unconquerable, all-absorbing passion. In short,
everything that unscrupulous leaders of organized capital could
devise to squeeze the life blood out of the patient, defenceless
toiler was done within these four walls.

It was a handsome room, noble in proportions and abundantly
lighted by three large and deeply recessed, mullioned windows, one
in the middle of the room and one at either end. The lofty ceiling
was a marvellously fine example of panelled oak of Gothic design,
decorated with gold, and the shelves for books which lined the
walls were likewise of oak, richly carved. In the centre of the
wall facing the windows was a massive and elaborately designed oak
chimney-piece, reaching up to the ceiling, and having in the
middle panel over the mantel a fine three-quarter length portrait
of George Washington. The room was furnished sumptuously yet
quietly, and fully in keeping with the rich collection of classic
and modern authors that filled the bookcases, and in corners here
and there stood pedestals with marble busts of Shakespeare, Goethe
and Voltaire. It was the retreat of a scholar rather than of a man
of affairs.

When Jefferson entered, his father was seated at his desk, a long
black cigar between his lips, giving instructions to Mr. Bagley.
Mr. Ryder looked up quickly as the door opened and the secretary
made a movement forward as if to eject the intruder, no matter who
he might be. They were not accustomed to having people enter the
sanctum of the Colossus so unceremoniously. But when he saw who it
was, Mr. Ryder's stern, set face relaxed and he greeted his son
amiably.

"Why, Jeff, my boy, is that you? Just a moment, until I get rid of
Bagley, and I'll be with you."

Jefferson turned to the book shelves and ran over the titles while
the financier continued his business with the secretary.

"Now, Bagley. Come, quick. What is it?"

He spoke in a rapid, explosive manner, like a man who has only a
few moments to spare before he must rush to catch a train. John
Ryder had been catching trains all his life, and he had seldom
missed one.

"Governor Rice called. He wants an appointment," said Mr. Bagley,
holding out a card.

"I can't see him. Tell him so," came the answer, quick as a flash.
"Who else?" he demanded. "Where's your list?"

Mr. Bagley took from the desk a list of names and read them over.

"General Abbey telephoned. He says you promised--"

"Yes, yes," interrupted Ryder impatiently, "but not here. Down
town, to-morrow, any time. Next?"

The secretary jotted down a note against each name and then said:

"There are some people downstairs in the reception room. They are
here by appointment."

"Who are they?"

"The National Republican Committee and Sergeant Ellison of the
Secret Service from Washington," replied Mr. Bagley.

"Who was here first?" demanded the financier.

"Sergeant Ellison, sir."

"Then I'll see him first, and the Committee afterwards. But let
them all wait until I ring. I wish to speak with my son."

He waved his hand and the secretary, knowing well from experience
that this was a sign that there must be no further discussion,
bowed respectfully and left the room. Jefferson turned and
advanced towards his father, who held out his hand.

"Well, Jefferson," he said kindly, "did you have a good time
abroad?"

"Yes, sir, thank you. Such a trip is a liberal education in
itself."

"Ready for work again, eh? I'm glad you're back, Jefferson. I'm
busy now, but one of these days I want to have a serious talk with
you in regard to your future. This artist business is all very
well--for a pastime. But it's not a career--surely you can
appreciate that--for a young man with such prospects as yours.
Have you ever stopped to think of that?"

Jefferson was silent. He did not want to displease his father; on
the other hand, it was impossible to let things drift as they had
been doing. There must be an understanding sooner or later. Why
not now?

"The truth is, sir," he began timidly, "I'd like a little talk
with you now, if you can spare the time."

Ryder, Sr., looked first at his watch and then at his son, who,
ill at ease, sat nervously on the extreme edge of a chair. Then he
said with a smile:

"Well, my boy, to be perfectly frank, I can't--but--I will.
Come, what is it?" Then, as if to apologize for his previous
abruptness, he added, "I've had a very busy day, Jeff. What with
Trans-Continental and Trans-Atlantic and Southern Pacific, and
Wall Street, and Rate Bills, and Washington I feel like Atlas
shouldering the world."

"The world wasn't intended for one pair of shoulders to carry,
sir," rejoined Jefferson calmly.

His father looked at him in amazement. It was something new to
hear anyone venturing to question or comment upon anything he
said.

"Why not?" he demanded, when he had recovered from his surprise.
"Julius Caesar carried it. Napoleon carried it--to a certain
extent. However, that's neither here nor there. What is it, boy?"

Unable to remain a moment inactive, he commenced to pick among the
mass of papers on his desk, while Jefferson was thinking what to
say. The last word his father uttered gave him a cue, and he
blurted out protestingly:

"That's just it, sir. You forget that I'm no longer a boy. It's
time to treat me as if I were a man."

Ryder, Sr., leaned back in his chair and laughed heartily.

"A man at twenty-eight? That's an excellent joke. Do you know that
a man doesn't get his horse sense till he's forty?"

"I want you to take me seriously," persisted Jefferson.

Ryder, Sr., was not a patient man. His moments of good humour were
of brief duration. Anything that savoured of questioning his
authority always angered him. The smile went out of his face and
he retorted explosively:

"Go on--damn it all! Be serious if you want, only don't take so
long about it. But understand one thing. I want no preaching, no
philosophical or socialistic twaddle. No Tolstoi--he's a great
thinker, and you're not. No Bernard Shaw--he's funny, and you're
not. Now go ahead."

This beginning was not very encouraging, and Jefferson felt
somewhat intimidated. But he realized that he might not have
another such opportunity, so he plunged right in.

"I should have spoken to you before if you had let me," he said.
"I often--"

"If I let you?" interrupted his father. "Do you expect me to sit
and listen patiently to your wild theories of social reform? You
asked me one day why the wages of the idle rich was wealth and the
wages of hard work was poverty, and I told you that I worked
harder in one day than a tunnel digger works in a life-time.
Thinking is a harder game than any. You must think or you won't
know. Napoleon knew more about war than all his generals put
together. I know more about money than any man living to-day. The
man who knows is the man who wins. The man who takes advice isn't
fit to give it. That's why I never take yours. Come, don't be a
fool, Jeff--give up this art nonsense. Come back to the Trading
Company. I'll make you vice-president, and I'll teach you the
business of making millions."

Jefferson shook his head. It was hard to have to tell his own
father that he did not think the million-making business quite a
respectable one, so he only murmured:

"It's impossible, father. I am devoted to my work. I even intend
to go away and travel a few years and see the world. It will help
me considerably."

Ryder, Sr., eyed his son in silence for a few moments; then he
said gently:

"Don't be obstinate, Jeff. Listen to me. I know the world better
than you do. You mustn't go away. You are the only flesh and blood
I have."

He stopped speaking for a moment, as if overcome by a sudden
emotion over which he had no control. Jefferson remained silent,
nervously toying with a paper cutter. Seeing that his words had
made no effect, Ryder thumped his desk with his fist and cried:

"You see my weakness. You see that I want you with me, and now you
take advantage--you take advantage--"

"No, father, I don't," protested Jefferson; "but I want to go
away. Although I have my studio and am practically independent, I
want to go where I shall be perfectly free--where my every move
will not be watched--where I can meet my fellow-man heart to heart
on an equal basis, where I shall not be pointed out as the son of
Ready Money Ryder. I want to make a reputation of my own as an
artist."

"Why not study theology and become a preacher?" sneered Ryder.
Then, more amiably, he said: "No, my lad, you stay here. Study my
interests--study the interests that will be yours some day."

"No," said Jefferson doggedly, "I'd rather go--my work and my
self-respect demand it."

"Then go, damn it, go!" cried his father in a burst of anger. "I'm
a fool for wasting my time with an ungrateful son." He rose from
his seat and began to pace the room.

"Father," exclaimed Jefferson starting forward, "you do me an
injustice."

"An injustice?" echoed Mr. Ryder turning round. "Ye gods! I've
given you the biggest name in the commercial world; the most
colossal fortune ever accumulated by one man is waiting for you,
and you say I've done you an injustice!"

"Yes--we are rich," said Jefferson bitterly. "But at what a cost!
You do not go into the world and hear the sneers that I get
everywhere. You may succeed in muzzling the newspapers and
magazines, but you cannot silence public opinion. People laugh
when they hear the name Ryder--when they do not weep. All your
millions cannot purchase the world's respect. You try to throw
millions to the public as a bone to a dog, and they decline the
money on the ground that it is tainted. Doesn't that tell you what
the world thinks of your methods?"

Ryder laughed cynically. He went back to his desk, and, sitting
facing his son, he replied:

"Jefferson, you are young. It is one of the symptoms of youth to
worry about public opinion. When you are as old as I am you will
understand that there is only one thing which counts in this
world--money. The man who has it possesses power over the man who
has it not, and power is what the ambitious man loves most."

He stopped to pick up a book. It was "The American Octopus."
Turning again to his son, he went on:

"Do you see this book? It is the literary sensation of the year.
Why? Because it attacks me--the richest man in the world. It holds
me up as a monster, a tyrant, a man without soul, honour or
conscience, caring only for one thing--money; having but one
passion--the love of power, and halting at nothing, not even at
crime, to secure it. That is the portrait they draw of your
father."

Jefferson said nothing. He was wondering if his sire had a
suspicion who wrote it and was leading up to that. But Ryder, Sr.,
continued:

"Do I care? The more they attack me the more I like it. Their puny
pen pricks have about the same effect as mosquito bites on the
pachyderm. What I am, the conditions of my time made me. When I
started in business a humble clerk, forty years ago, I had but one
goal--success; I had but one aim--to get rich. I was lucky. I made
a little money, and I soon discovered that I could make more money
by outwitting my competitors in the oil fields. Railroad
conditions helped me. The whole country was money mad. A wave of
commercial prosperity swept over the land and I was carried along
on its crest. I grew enormously rich, my millions increasing by
leaps and bounds. I branched out into other interests, successful
always, until my holdings grew to what they are to-day--the wonder
of the twentieth century. What do I care for the world's respect
when my money makes the world my slave? What respect can I have
for a people that cringe before money and let it rule them? Are
you aware that not a factory wheel turns, not a vote is counted,
not a judge is appointed, not a legislator seated, not a president
elected without my consent? I am the real ruler of the United
States--not the so-called government at Washington. They are my
puppets and this is my executive chamber. This power will be yours
one day, boy, but you must know how to use it when it comes."

"I never want it, father," said Jefferson firmly. "To me your
words savour of treason. I couldn't imagine that American talking
that way." He pointed to the mantel, at the picture of George
Washington.

Ryder, Sr., laughed. He could not help it if his son was an
idealist. There was no use getting angry, so he merely shrugged
his shoulders and said:

"All right, Jeff. We'll discuss the matter later, when you've cut
your wisdom teeth. Just at present you're in the clouds. But you
spoke of my doing you an injustice. How can my love of power do
you an injustice?"

"Because," replied Jefferson, "you exert that power over your
family as well as over your business associates. You think and
will for everybody in the house, for everyone who comes in contact
with you. Yours is an influence no one seems able to resist. You
robbed me of my right to think. Ever since I was old enough to
think, you have thought for me; ever since I was old enough to
choose, you have chosen for me. You have chosen that I should
marry Kate Roberts. That is the one thing I wished to speak to you
about. The marriage is impossible."

Ryder, Sr., half sprang from his seat. He had listened patiently,
he thought, to all that his headstrong son had said, but that he
should repudiate in this unceremonious fashion what was a tacit
understanding between the two families, and, what was more, run
the risk of injuring the Ryder interests--that was inconceivable.
Leaving his desk, he advanced into the centre of the room, and
folding his arms confronted Jefferson.

"So," he said sternly, "this is your latest act of rebellion, is
it? You are going to welsh on your word? You are going to jilt the
girl?"

"I never gave my word," answered Jefferson hotly. "Nor did Kate
understand that an engagement existed. You can't expect me to
marry a girl I don't care a straw about. It would not be fair to
her."

"Have you stopped to think whether it would be fair to me?"
thundered his father.

His face was pale with anger, his jet-black eyes flashed, and his
white hair seemed to bristle with rage. He paced the floor for a
few moments, and then turning to Jefferson, who had not moved, he
said more calmly:

"Don't be a fool, Jeff. I don't want to think for you, or to
choose for you, or to marry for you. I did not interfere when you
threw up the position I made for you in the Trading Company and
took that studio. I realized that you were restless under the
harness, so I gave you plenty of rein. But I know so much better
than you what is best for you. Believe me I do. Don't--don't be
obstinate. This marriage means a great deal to my interests--to
your interests. Kate's father is all powerful in the Senate. He'll
never forgive this disappointment. Hang it all, you liked the girl
once, and I made sure that--"

He stopped suddenly, and the expression on his face changed as a
new light dawned upon him.

"It isn't that Rossmore girl, is it?" he demanded. His face grew
dark and his jaw clicked as he said between his teeth: "I told you
some time ago how I felt about her. If I thought that it was
Rossmore's daughter! You know what's going to happen to him, don't
you?"

Thus appealed to, Jefferson thought this was the most favourable
opportunity he would have to redeem his promise to Shirley. So,
little anticipating the tempest he was about to unchain, he
answered:

"I am familiar with the charges that they have trumped up against
him. Needless to say, I consider him entirely innocent. What's
more, I firmly believe he is the victim of a contemptible
conspiracy. And I'm going to make it my business to find out who
the plotters are. I came to ask you to help me. Will you?"

For a moment Ryder was speechless from utter astonishment. Then,
as he realized the significance of his son's words and their
application to himself he completely lost control of himself. His
face became livid, and he brought his fist down on his desk with a
force that shook the room.

"I will see him in hell first!" he cried. "Damn him! He has always
opposed me. He has always defied my power, and now his daughter
has entrapped my son. So it's her you want to go to, eh? Well, I
can't make you marry a girl you don't want, but I can prevent you
throwing yourself away on the daughter of a man who is about to be
publicly disgraced, and, by God, I will."

"Poor old Rossmore," said Jefferson bitterly. "If the history of
every financial transaction were made known, how many of us would
escape public disgrace? Would you?" he cried.

Ryder, Sr., rose, his hands working dangerously. He made a
movement as if about to advance on his son, but by a supreme
effort he controlled himself.

"No, upon my word, it's no use disinheriting you, you wouldn't
care. I think you'd be glad; on my soul, I do!" Then calming down
once more, he added: "Jefferson, give me your word of honour that
your object in going away is not to find out this girl and marry
her unknown to me. I don't mind your losing your heart, but, damn
it, don't lose your head. Give me your hand on it."

Jefferson reluctantly held out his hand.

"If I thought you would marry that girl unknown to me, I'd have
Rossmore sent out of the country and the woman too. Listen, boy.
This man is my enemy, and I show no mercy to my enemies. There are
more reasons than one why you cannot marry Miss Rossmore. If she
knew one of them she would not marry you."

"What reasons?" demanded Jefferson.

"The principal one," said Ryder, slowly and deliberately, and
eyeing his son keenly as if to judge of the effect of his words,
"the principal one is that it was through my agents that the
demand was made for her father's impeachment."

"Ah," cried Jefferson, "then I guessed aright! Oh, father, how
could you have done that? If you only knew him!"

Ryder, Sr., had regained command of his temper, and now spoke
calmly enough.

"Jefferson, I don't have to make any apologies to you for the way
I conduct my business. The facts contained in the charge were
brought to my attention. I did not see why I should spare him. He
never spared me. I shall not interfere, and the probabilities are
that he will be impeached. Senator Roberts said this afternoon
that it was a certainty. You see yourself how impossible a
marriage with Miss Rossmore would be, don't you?"

"Yes, father, I see now. I have nothing more to say."

"Do you still intend going away?"

"Yes," replied Jefferson bitterly. "Why not? You have taken away
the only reason why I should stay."

"Think it well over, lad. Marry Kate or not, as you please, but I
want you to stay here."

"It's no use. My mind is made up," answered Jefferson decisively.

The telephone rang, and Jefferson got up to go. Mr. Ryder took up
the receiver.

"Hallo! What's that? Sergeant Ellison? Yes, send him up."

Putting the telephone down, Ryder, Sr., rose, and crossing the
room accompanied his son to the door.

"Think it well over, Jeff. Don't be hasty."

"I have thought it over, sir, and I have decided to go."

A few moments later Jefferson left the house.

Ryder, Sr., went back to his desk and sat for a moment in deep
thought. For the first time in his life he was face to face with
defeat; for the first time he had encountered a will as strong as
his own. He who could rule parliaments and dictate to governments
now found himself powerless to rule his own son. At all costs, he
mused, the boy's infatuation for Judge Rossmore's daughter must be
checked, even if he had to blacken the girl's character as well as
the father's, or, as a last resort, send the entire family out of
the country. He had not lost sight of his victim since the
carefully prepared crash in Wall Street, and the sale of the
Rossmore home following the bankruptcy of the Great Northwestern
Mining Company. His agents had reported their settlement in the
quiet little village on Long Island, and he had also learned of
Miss Rossmore's arrival from Europe, which coincided strangely
with the home-coming of his own son. He decided, therefore, to
keep a closer watch on Massapequa now than ever, and that is why
to-day's call of Sergeant Ellison, a noted sleuth in the
government service, found so ready a welcome.

The door opened, and Mr. Bagley entered, followed by a tall,
powerfully built man whose robust physique and cheap looking
clothes contrasted strangely with the delicate, ultra-fashionably
attired English secretary.

"Take a seat, Sergeant," said Mr. Ryder, cordially motioning his
visitor to a chair. The man sat down gingerly on one of the rich
leather-upholstered chairs. His manner was nervous and awkward, as
if intimidated in the presence of the financier.

"Are the Republican Committee still waiting?" demanded Mr. Ryder.

"Yes, sir," replied the secretary.

"I'll see them in a few minutes. Leave me with Sergeant Ellison."

Mr. Bagley bowed and retired.

"Well, Sergeant, what have you got to report?"

He opened a box of cigars that stood on the desk and held it out
to the detective.

"Take a cigar," he said amiably.

The man took a cigar, and also the match which Mr. Ryder held out.
The financier knew how to be cordial with those who could serve
him.

"Thanks. This is a good one," smiled the sleuth, sniffing at the
weed. "We don't often get a chance at such as these."

"It ought to be good," laughed Ryder. "They cost two dollars
apiece."

The detective was so surprised at this unheard of extravagance
that he inhaled a puff of smoke which almost choked him. It was
like burning money.

Ryder, with his customary bluntness, came right down to business.

"Well, what have you been doing about the book?" he demanded.
"Have you found the author of 'The American Octopus'?"

"No, sir, I have not. I confess I'm baffled. The secret has been
well kept. The publishers have shut up like a clam. There's only
one thing that I'm pretty well sure of."

"What's that?" demanded Ryder, interested.

"That no such person as Shirley Green exists."

"Oh," exclaimed the financier, "then you think it is a mere _nom
de plume_?"

"Yes, sir."

"And what do you think was the reason for preserving the
anonymity?"

"Well, you see, sir, the book deals with a big subject. It gives
some hard knocks, and the author, no doubt, felt a little timid
about launching it under his or her real name. At least that's my
theory, sir."

"And a good one, no doubt," said Mr. Ryder. Then he added: "That
makes me all the more anxious to find out who it is. I would
willingly give this moment a check for $5,000 to know who wrote
it. Whoever it is, knows me as well as I know myself. We must find
the author."

The sleuth was silent for a moment. Then he said:

"There might be one way to reach the author, but it will be
successful only in the event of her being willing to be known and
come out into the open. Suppose you write to her in care of the
publishers. They would certainly forward the letter to wherever
she may be. If she does not want you to know who she is she will
ignore your letter and remain in the background. If, on the
contrary, she has no fear of you, and is willing to meet you, she
will answer the letter."

"Ah, I never thought of that!" exclaimed Ryder. "It's a good idea.
I'll write such a letter at once. It shall go to-night."

He unhooked the telephone and asked Mr. Bagley to come up. A few
seconds later the secretary entered the room.

"Bagley," said Mr. Ryder, "I want you to write a letter for me to
Miss Shirley Green, author of that book 'The American Octopus.' We
will address it care of her publishers, Littleton & Co. Just say
that if convenient I should like a personal interview with her at
my office, No. 36 Broadway, in relation to her book, 'The American
Octopus.' See that it is mailed to-night. That's all."

Mr. Bagley bowed and retired. Mr. Ryder turned to the secret
service agent.

"There, that's settled. We'll see how it works. And now, Sergeant,
I have another job for you, and if you are faithful to my
interests you will not find me unappreciative. Do you know a
little place on Long Island called Massapequa?"

"Yes," grinned the detective, "I know it. They've got some fine
specimens of 'skeeters' there."

Paying no attention to this jocularity, Mr. Ryder continued:

"Judge Rossmore is living there--pending the outcome of his case
in the Senate. His daughter has just arrived from Europe. My son
Jefferson came home on the same ship. They are a little more
friendly than I care to have them. You understand. I want to know
if my son visits the Rossmores, and if he does I wish to be kept
informed of all that's going on. You understand?"

"Perfectly, sir. You shall know everything."

Mr. Ryder took a blank check from his desk and proceeded to fill
it up. Then handing it to the detective, he said:

"Here is $500 for you. Spare neither trouble or expense."

"Thank you, sir," said the man as he pocketed the money. "Leave it
to me."

"That's about all, I think. Regarding the other matter, we'll see
how the letter works."

He touched a bell and rose, which was a signal to the visitor that
the interview was at an end. Mr. Bagley entered.

"Sergeant Ellison is going," said Mr. Ryder. "Have him shown out,
and send the Republican Committee up."



CHAPTER X


"What!" exclaimed Shirley, changing colour, "you believe that John
Burkett Ryder is at the bottom of this infamous accusation against
father?"

It was the day following her arrival at Massapequa, and Shirley,
the judge and Stott were all three sitting on the porch. Until
now, by common consent, any mention of the impeachment proceedings
had been avoided by everyone. The previous afternoon and evening
had been spent listening to an account of Shirley's experiences in
Europe and a smile had flitted across even the judge's careworn
face as his daughter gave a humorous description of the
picturesque Paris student with their long hair and peg-top
trousers, while Stott simply roared with laughter. Ah, it was good
to laugh again after so much trouble and anxiety! But while
Shirley avoided the topic that lay nearest her heart, she was
consumed with a desire to tell her father of the hope she had of
enlisting the aid of John Burkett Ryder. The great financier was
certainly able to do anything he chose, and had not his son
Jefferson promised to win him over to their cause? So, to-day,
after Mrs. Rossmore and her sister had gone down to the village to
make some purchases Shirley timidly broached the matter. She asked
Stott and her father to tell her everything, to hold back nothing.
She wanted to hear the worst.

Stott, therefore, started to review the whole affair from the
beginning, explaining how her father in his capacity as Judge of
the Supreme Court had to render decisions, several of which were
adverse to the corporate interests of a number of rich men, and
how since that time these powerful interests had used all their
influence to get him put off the Bench. He told her about the
Transcontinental case and how the judge had got mysteriously
tangled up in the Great Northern Mining Company, and of the
scandalous newspaper rumours, followed by the news of the
Congressional inquiry. Then he told her about the panic in Wall
Street, the sale of the house on Madison Avenue and the removal to
Long Island.

"That is the situation," said Stott when he had finished. "We are
waiting now to see what the Senate will do. We hope for the best.
It seems impossible that the Senate will condemn a man whose whole
life is like an open book, but unfortunately the Senate is
strongly Republican and the big interests are in complete control.
Unless support comes from some unexpected quarter we must be
prepared for anything."

Support from some unexpected quarter! Stott's closing words rang
in Shirley's head. Was that not just what she had to offer? Unable
to restrain herself longer and her heart beating tumultuously from
suppressed emotion, she cried:

"We'll have that support! We'll have it! I've got it already! I
wanted to surprise you! Father, the most powerful man in the
United States will save you from being dishonoured!"

The two men leaned forward in eager interest. What could the girl
mean? Was she serious or merely jesting?

But Shirley was never more serious in her life. She was jubilant
at the thought that she had arrived home in time to invoke the aid
of this powerful ally. She repeated enthusiastically:

"We need not worry any more. He has but to say a word and these
proceedings will be instantly dropped. They would not dare act
against his veto. Did you hear, father, your case is as good as
won!"

"What do you mean, child? Who is this unknown friend?"

"Surely you can guess when I say the most powerful man in the
United States? None other than John Burkett Ryder!"

She stopped short to watch the effect which this name would have
on her hearers. But to her surprise neither her father nor Stott
displayed the slightest emotion or even interest. Puzzled at this
cold reception, she repeated:

"Did you hear, father--John Burkett Ryder will come to your
assistance. I came home on the same ship as his son and he
promised to secure his father's aid."

The judge puffed heavily at his pipe and merely shook his head,
making no reply. Stott explained:

"We can't look for help from that quarter, Shirley. You don't
expect a man to cut loose his own kite, do you?"

"What do you mean?" demanded Shirley, mystified.

"Simply this--that John Burkett Ryder is the very man who is
responsible for all your father's misfortunes."

The girl sank back in her seat pale and motionless, as if she had
received a blow. Was it possible? Could Jefferson's father have
done them such a wrong as this? She well knew that Ryder, Sr., was
a man who would stop at nothing to accomplish his purpose--this
she had demonstrated conclusively in her book--but she had never
dreamed that his hand would ever be directed against her own flesh
and blood. Decidedly some fatality was causing Jefferson and
herself to drift further and further apart. First, her father's
trouble. That alone would naturally have separated them. And now
this discovery that Jefferson's father had done hers this wrong.
All idea of marriage was henceforth out of the question. That was
irrevocable. Of course, she could not hold Jefferson to blame for
methods which he himself abhorred. She would always think as much
of him as ever, but whether her father emerged safely from the
trial in the Senate or not--no matter what the outcome of the
impeachment proceedings might be, Jefferson could never be
anything else than a Ryder and from now on there would be an
impassable gulf between the Rossmores and the Ryders. The dove
does not mate with the hawk.

"Do you really believe this, that John Ryder deliberately
concocted the bribery charge with the sole purpose of ruining my
father?" demanded Shirley when she had somewhat recovered.

"There is no other solution of the mystery possible," answered Stott.
"The Trusts found they could not fight him in the open, in a fair,
honest way, so they plotted in the dark. Ryder was the man who had
most to lose by your father's honesty on the bench. Ryder was the man
he hit the hardest when he enjoined his Transcontinental Railroad.
Ryder, I am convinced, is the chief conspirator."

"But can such things be in a civilized community?" cried Shirley
indignantly. "Cannot he be exposed, won't the press take the
matter up, cannot we show conspiracy?"

"It sounds easy, but it isn't," replied Stott. "I have had a heap
of experience with the law, my child, and I know what I'm talking
about. They're too clever to be caught tripping. They've covered
their tracks well, be sure of that. As to the newspapers--when did
you ever hear of them championing a man when he's down?"

"And you, father--do you believe Ryder did this?"

"I have no longer any doubt of it," answered the judge. "I think
John Ryder would see me dead before he would raise a finger to
help me. His answer to my demand for my letters convinced me that
he was the arch plotter."

"What letters do you refer to?" demanded Shirley.

"The letters I wrote to him in regard to my making an investment.
He advised the purchase of certain stock. I wrote him two letters
at the time, which letters if I had them now would go a long way
to clearing me of this charge of bribery, for they plainly showed
that I regarded the transaction as a _bona fide_ investment. Since
this trouble began I wrote to Ryder asking him to return me these
letters so I might use them in my defence. The only reply I got
was an insolent note from his secretary saying that Mr. Ryder had
forgotten all about the transaction, and in any case had not the
letters I referred to."

"Couldn't you compel him to return them?" asked Shirley.

"We could never get at him," interrupted Stott. "The man is
guarded as carefully as the Czar."

"Still," objected Shirley, "it is possible that he may have lost
the letters or even never received them."

"Oh, he has them safe enough," replied Stott. "A man like Ryder
keeps every scrap of paper, with the idea that it may prove useful
some day. The letters are lying somewhere in his desk. Besides,
after the Transcontinental decision he was heard to say that he'd
have Judge Rossmore off the Bench inside of a year."

"And it wasn't a vain boast--he's done it," muttered the judge.

Shirley relapsed into silence. Her brain was in a whirl. It was
true then. This merciless man of money, this ogre of monopolistic
corporations, this human juggernaut had crushed her father merely
because by his honesty he interfered with his shady business
deals! Ah, why had she spared him in her book? She felt now that
she had been too lenient, not bitter enough, not sufficiently
pitiless. Such a man was entitled to no mercy. Yes, it was all
clear enough now. John Burkett Ryder, the head of "the System,"
the plutocrat whose fabulous fortune gave him absolute control
over the entire country, which invested him with a personal power
greater than that of any king, this was the man who now dared
attack the Judiciary, the corner stone of the Constitution, the
one safeguard of the people's liberty. Where would it end? How
long would the nation tolerate being thus ruthlessly trodden under
the unclean heels of an insolent oligarchy? The capitalists, banded
together for the sole purpose of pillage and loot, had already
succeeded in enslaving the toiler. The appalling degradation of
the working classes, the sordidness and demoralizing squalor in
which they passed their lives, the curse of drink, the provocation
to crime, the shame of the sweat shops--all which evils in our
social system she had seen as a Settlement worker, were directly
traceable to Centralized Wealth. The labor unions regulated wages
and hours, but they were powerless to control the prices of the
necessaries of life. The Trusts could at pleasure create famine or
plenty. They usually willed to make it famine so they themselves
might acquire more millions with which to pay for marble palaces,
fast motor cars, ocean-going yachts and expensive establishments
at Newport. Food was ever dearer and of poorer quality, clothes
cost more, rents and taxes were higher. She thought of the horrors
in the packing houses at Chicago recently made the subject of a
sensational government report--putrid, pestiferous meats put up
for human food amid conditions of unspeakable foulness, freely
exposed to deadly germs from the expectorations of work people
suffering from tuberculosis, in unsanitary rotten buildings soaked
through with blood and every conceivable form of filth and decay,
the beef barons careless and indifferent to the dictates of common
decency so long as they could make more money. And while our
public gasped in disgust at the sickening revelations of the Beef
scandal and foreign countries quickly cancelled their contracts
for American prepared meats, the millionaire packer, insolent in
the possession of wealth stolen from a poisoned public, impudently
appeared in public in his fashionable touring car, with head erect
and self-satisfied, wholly indifferent to his shame.

These and other evidences of the plutocracy's cruel grip upon the
nation had ended by exasperating the people. There must be a limit
somewhere to the turpitudes of a degenerate class of _nouveaux
riches_. The day of reckoning was fast approaching for the
grafters and among the first to taste the vengeance of the people
would be the Colossus. But while waiting for the people to rise in
their righteous wrath, Ryder was all powerful, and if it were true
that he had instituted these impeachment proceedings her father
had little chance. What could be done? They could not sit and
wait, as Stott had said, for the action of the Senate. If it were
true that Ryder controlled the Senate as he controlled everything
else her father was doomed. No, they must find some other way.

And long after the judge and Stott had left for the city Shirley
sat alone on the porch engrossed in thought, taxing her brain to
find some way out of the darkness. And when presently her mother
and aunt returned they found her still sitting there, silent and
preoccupied. If they only had those two letters, she thought. They
alone might save her father. But how could they be got at? Mr.
Ryder had put them safely away, no doubt. He would not give them
up. She wondered how it would be to go boldly to him appeal to
whatever sense of honour and fairness that might be lying latent
within him. No, such a man would not know what the terms "honour,"
"fairness" meant. She pondered upon it all day and at night when
she went tired to bed it was her last thought as she dropped off
to sleep.

The following morning broke clear and fine. It was one of those
glorious, ideal days of which we get perhaps half a dozen during
the whole summer, days when the air is cool and bracing,
champagne-like in its exhilarating effect, and when Nature dons
her brightest dress, when the atmosphere is purer, the grass
greener, the sky bluer, the flowers sweeter and the birds sing in
more joyous chorus, when all creation seems in tune. Days that
make living worth while, when one can forget the ugliness, the
selfishness, the empty glitter of the man-made city and walk erect
and buoyant in the open country as in the garden of God.

Shirley went out for a long walk. She preferred to go alone
so she would not have to talk. Hers was one of those lonely,
introspective natures that resent the intrusion of aimless
chatter when preoccupied with serious thoughts. Long Island
was unknown territory to her and it all looked very flat and
uninteresting, but she loved the country and found keen delight
in the fresh, pure air and the sweet scent of new mown hay wafted
from the surrounding fields. In her soft, loose-fitting linen
dress, her white canvas shoes, garden hat trimmed with red roses,
and lace parasol, she made an attractive picture and every
passer-by--with the exception of one old farmer and he was half
blind--turned to look at this good-looking girl, a stranger in
those parts and whose stylish appearance suggested Fifth Avenue
rather than the commonplace purlieus of Massapequa.

Every now and then Shirley espied in the distance the figure of a
man which she thought she recognized as that of Jefferson. Had he
come, after all? The blood went coursing tumultuously through her
veins only a moment later to leave her face a shade paler as the
man came nearer and she saw he was a stranger. She wondered what
he was doing, if he gave her a thought, if he had spoken to his
father and what the latter had said. She could realize now what
Mr. Ryder's reply had been. Then she wondered what her future life
would be. She could do nothing, of course, until the Senate had
passed upon her father's case, but it was imperative that she get
to work. In a day or two, she would call on her publishers and
learn how her book was selling. She might get other commissions.
If she could not make enough money in literary work she would have
to teach. It was a dreary outlook at best, and she sighed as she
thought of the ambitions that had once stirred her breast. All the
brightness seemed to have gone out of her life, her father
disgraced, Jefferson now practically lost to her--only her work
remained.

As she neared the cottage on her return home she caught sight of
the letter carrier approaching the gate. Instantly she thought of
Jefferson, and she hurried to intercept the man. Perhaps he had
written instead of coming.

"Miss Shirley Rossmore?" said the man eyeing her interrogatively.

"That's I," said Shirley.

The postman handed her a letter and passed on. Shirley glanced
quickly at the superscription. No, it was not from Jefferson; she
knew his handwriting too well. The envelope, moreover, bore the
firm name of her publishers. She tore it open and found that it
merely contained another letter which the publishers had
forwarded. This was addressed to Miss Shirley Green and ran as
follows:

    _Dear Madam._--If convenient, I should like to see you at
    my office, No. 36 Broadway, in relation to your book "The
    American Octopus." Kindly inform me as to the day and hour
    at which I may expect you.

                          Yours truly,
                                       JOHN BURKETT RYDER,
                                                        per B.

Shirley almost shouted from sheer excitement. At first she was
alarmed--the name John Burkett Ryder was such a bogey to frighten
bad children with, she thought he might want to punish her for
writing about him as she had. She hurried to the porch and sat
there reading the letter over and over and her brain began to
evolve ideas. She had been wondering how she could get at Mr.
Ryder and here he was actually asking her to call on him.
Evidently he had not the slightest idea of her identity, for he
had been able to reach her only through her publishers and no
doubt he had exhausted every other means of discovering her
address. The more she pondered over it the more she began to see
in this invitation a way of helping her father. Yes, she would go
and beard the lion in his den, but she would not go to his office.
She would accept the invitation only on condition that the
interview took place in the Ryder mansion where undoubtedly the
letters would be found. She decided to act immediately. No time
was to be lost, so she procured a sheet of paper and an envelope
and wrote as follows:

    MR. JOHN BURKETT RYDER,

    _Dear Sir._--I do not call upon gentlemen at their
    business office.
                              Yours, etc.,
                                 SHIRLEY GREEN.

Her letter was abrupt and at first glance seemed hardly calculated
to bring about what she wanted--an invitation to call at the Ryder
home, but she was shrewd enough to see that if Ryder wrote to her
at all it was because he was most anxious to see her and her
abruptness would not deter him from trying again. On the contrary,
the very unusualness of anyone thus dictating to him would make
him more than ever desirous of making her acquaintance. So Shirley
mailed the letter and awaited with confidence for Ryder's reply.
So certain was she that one would come that she at once began to
form her plan of action. She would leave Massapequa at once, and
her whereabouts must remain a secret even from her own family. As
she intended to go to the Ryder house in the assumed character of
Shirley Green, it would never do to run the risk of being followed
home by a Ryder detective to the Rossmore cottage. She would
confide in one person only--Judge Stott. He would know where she
was and would be in constant communication with her. But,
otherwise, she must be alone to conduct the campaign as she judged
fit. She would go at once to New York and take rooms in a boarding
house where she would be known as Shirley Green. As for funds to
meet her expenses, she had her diamonds, and would they not be
filling a more useful purpose if sold to defray the cost of saving
her father than in mere personal adornment? So that evening, while
her mother was talking with the judge, she beckoned Stott over to
the corner where she was sitting:

"Judge Stott," she began, "I have a plan."

He smiled indulgently at her.

"Another friend like that of yesterday?" he asked.

"No," replied the girl, "listen. I am in earnest now and I want
you to help me. You said that no one on earth could resist John
Burkett Ryder, that no one could fight against the Money Power.
Well, do you know what I am going to do?"

There was a quiver in her voice and her nostrils were dilated like
those of a thoroughbred eager to run the race. She had risen from
her seat and stood facing him, her fists clenched, her face set
and determined. Stott had never seen her in this mood and he gazed
at her half admiringly, half curiously.

"What will you do?" he asked with a slightly ironical inflection
in his voice.

"I am going to fight John Burkett Ryder!" she cried.

Stott looked at her open-mouthed.

"You?" he said.

"Yes, I," said Shirley. "I'm going to him and I intend to get
those letters if he has them."

Stott shook his head.

    [Photo, from the play, of Shirley discussing her book
     with Mr. Ryder]

    "How do you classify him?"
    "As the greatest criminal the world has ever produced."--Act III.

"My dear child," he said, "what are you talking about? How can you
expect to reach Ryder? We couldn't."

"I don't know just how yet," replied Shirley, "but I'm going to
try. I love my father and I'm going to leave nothing untried to
save him."

"But what can you do?" persisted Stott. "The matter has been
sifted over and over by some of the greatest minds in the
country."

"Has any woman sifted it over?" demanded Shirley.

"No, but--" stammered Stott.

"Then it's about time one did," said the girl decisively. "Those
letters my father speaks of--they would be useful, would they
not?"

"They would be invaluable."

"Then I'll get them. If not--"

"But I don't understand how you're going to get at Ryder,"
interrupted Stott.

"This is how," replied Shirley, passing over to him the letter she
had received that afternoon.

As Stott recognized the well-known signature and read the contents
the expression of his face changed. He gasped for breath and sank
into a chair from sheer astonishment.

"Ah, that's different!" he cried, "that's different!"

Briefly Shirley outlined her plan, explaining that she would go to
live in the city immediately and conduct her campaign from there.
If she was successful it might save her father and if not no harm
could come of it.

Stott demurred at first. He did not wish to bear alone the
responsibility of such an adventure. There was no knowing what
might happen to her, visiting a strange house under an assumed
name. But when he saw how thoroughly in earnest she was and that
she was ready to proceed without him he capitulated. He agreed
that she might be able to find the missing letters or if not that
she might make some impression on Ryder himself. She could show
interest in the judge's case as a disinterested outsider and so
might win his sympathies. From being a sceptic, Stott now became
enthusiastic. He promised to co-operate in every way and to keep
Shirley's whereabouts an absolute secret. The girl, therefore,
began to make her preparations for departure from home by telling
her parents that she had accepted an invitation to spend a week or
two with an old college chum in New York.

That same evening her mother, the judge, and Stott went for a
stroll after dinner and left her to take care of the house. They
had wanted Shirley to go, too, but she pleaded fatigue. The truth
was that she wanted to be alone so she could ponder undisturbed
over her plans. It was a clear, starlit night, with no moon, and
Shirley sat on the porch listening to the chirping of the crickets
and idly watching the flashes of the mysterious fireflies. She was
in no mood for reading and sat for a long time rocking herself
engrossed in her thoughts. Suddenly she heard someone unfasten the
garden gate. It was too soon for the return of the promenaders; it
must be a visitor. Through the uncertain penumbra of the garden
she discerned approaching a form which looked familiar. Yes, now
there was no doubt possible. It was, indeed, Jefferson Ryder.

She hurried down the porch to greet him. No matter what the father
had done she could never think any the less of the son. He took
her hand and for several moments neither one spoke. There are
times when silence is more eloquent than speech and this was one
of them. The gentle grip of his big strong hand expressed more
tenderly than any words the sympathy that lay in his heart for the
woman he loved. Shirley said quietly:

"You have come at last, Jefferson."

"I came as soon as I could," he replied gently. "I saw father only
yesterday."

"You need not tell me what he said," Shirley hastened to say.

Jefferson made no reply. He understood what she meant. He hung his
head and hit viciously with his walking stick at the pebbles that
lay at his feet. She went on:

"I know everything now. It was foolish of me to think that Mr.
Ryder would ever help us."

"I can't help it in any way," blurted out Jefferson. "I have not
the slightest influence over him. His business methods I consider
disgraceful--you understand that, don't you, Shirley?"

The girl laid her hand on his arm and replied kindly:

"Of course, Jeff, we know that. Come up and sit down."

He followed her on the porch and drew up a rocker beside her.

"They are all out for a walk," she explained.

"I'm glad," he said frankly. "I wanted a quiet talk with you. I
did not care to meet anyone. My name must be odious to your
people."

Both were silent, feeling a certain awkwardness. They seemed to
have drifted apart in some way since those delightful days in
Paris and on the ship. Then he said:

"I'm going away, but I couldn't go until I saw you."

"You are going away?" exclaimed Shirley, surprised.

"Yes," he said, "I cannot stand it any more at home. I had a hot
talk with my father yesterday about one thing and another. He and
I don't chin well together. Besides this matter of your father's
impeachment has completely discouraged me. All the wealth in the
world could never reconcile me to such methods! I'm ashamed of the
rôle my own flesh and blood has played in that miserable affair. I
can't express what I feel about it."

"Yes," sighed Shirley, "it is hard to believe that you are the son
of that man!"

"How is your father?" inquired Jefferson. "How does he take it?"

"Oh, his heart beats and he can see and hear and speak," replied
Shirley sadly, "but he is only a shadow of what he once was. If
the trial goes against him, I don't think he'll survive it."

"It is monstrous," cried Jefferson. "To think that my father
should be responsible for this thing!"

"We are still hoping for the best," added Shirley, "but the
outlook is dark."

"But what are you going to do?" he asked. "These surroundings are
not for you--" He looked around at the cheap furnishings which he
could see through the open window and his face showed real
concern.

"I shall teach or write, or go out as governess," replied Shirley
with a tinge of bitterness. Then smiling sadly she added: "Poverty
is easy; it is unmerited disgrace which is hard."

The young man drew his chair closer and took hold of the hand that
lay in her lap. She made no resistance.

"Shirley," he said, "do you remember that talk we had on the ship?
I asked you to be my wife. You led me to believe that you were not
indifferent to me. I ask you again to marry me. Give me the right
to take care of you and yours. I am the son of the world's richest
man, but I don't want his money. I have earned a competence of my
own--enough to live on comfortably. We will go away where you and
your father and mother will make their home with us. Do not let
the sins of the fathers embitter the lives of the children."

"Mine has not sinned," said Shirley bitterly.

"I wish I could say the same of mine," replied Jefferson. "It is
because the clouds are dark about you that I want to come into
your life to comfort you."

The girl shook her head.

"No, Jefferson, the circumstances make such a marriage impossible.
Your family and everybody else would say that I had inveigled you
into it. It is even more impossible now than I thought it was when
I spoke to you on the ship. Then I was worried about my father's
trouble and could give no thought to anything else. Now it is
different. Your father's action has made our union impossible for
ever. I thank you for the honour you have done me. I do like you.
I like you well enough to be your wife, but I will not accept this
sacrifice on your part. Your offer, coming at such a critical
time, is dictated only by your noble, generous nature, by your
sympathy for our misfortune. Afterwards, you might regret it. If
my father were convicted and driven from the bench and you found
you had married the daughter of a disgraced man you would be
ashamed of us all, and if I saw that it would break my heart."

Emotion stopped her utterance and she buried her face in her hands
weeping silently.

"Shirley," said Jefferson gently, "you are wrong. I love you for
yourself, not because of your trouble. You know that. I shall
never love any other woman but you. If you will not say 'yes' now,
I shall go away as I told my father I would and one day I shall
come back and then if you are still single I shall ask you again
to be my wife."

"Where are you going?" she asked.

"I shall travel for a year and then, may be, I shall stay a couple
of years in Paris, studying at the Beaux Arts. Then I may go to
Rome. If I am to do anything worth while in the career I have
chosen I must have that European training."

"Paris! Rome!" echoed Shirley. "How I envy you! Yes, you are
right. Get away from this country where the only topic, the only
thought is money, where the only incentive to work is dollars. Go
where there are still some ideals, where you can breathe the
atmosphere of culture and art."

Forgetting momentarily her own troubles, Shirley chatted on about
life in the art centres of Europe, advised Jefferson where to go,
with whom to study. She knew people in Paris, Rome and Munich and
she would give him letters to them. Only, if he wanted to perfect
himself in the languages, he ought to avoid Americans and
cultivate the natives. Then, who could tell? if he worked hard and
was lucky, he might have something exhibited at the Salon and
return to America a famous painter.

"If I do," smiled Jefferson, "you shall be the first to
congratulate me. I shall come and ask you to be my wife. May I?"
he added,

Shirley smiled gravely.

"Get famous first. You may not want me then."

"I shall always want you," he whispered hoarsely, bending over
her. In the dim light of the porch he saw that her tear-stained
face was drawn and pale. He rose and held out his hand.

"Good-bye," he said simply.

"Good-bye, Jefferson." She rose and put her hand in his. "We shall
always be friends. I, too, am going away."

"You going away--where to?" he asked surprised.

"I have work to do in connection with my father's case," she said.

"You?" said Jefferson puzzled. "You have work to do--what work?"

"I can't say what it is, Jefferson. There are good reasons why I
can't. You must take my word for it that it is urgent and
important work." Then she added: "You go your way, Jefferson; I
will go mine. It was not our destiny to belong to each other. You
will become famous as an artist. And I--"

"And you--" echoed Jefferson.

"I--I shall devote my life to my father. It's no use,
Jefferson--really--I've thought it all out. You must not come back
to me--you understand. We must be alone with our grief--father and
I. Good-bye."

He raised her hand to his lips.

"Good-bye, Shirley. Don't forget me. I shall come back for you."

He went down the porch and she watched him go out of the gate and
down the road until she could see his figure no longer. Then she
turned back and sank into her chair and burying her face in her
handkerchief she gave way to a torrent of tears which afforded
some relief to the weight on her heart. Presently the others
returned from their walk and she told them about the visitor.

"Mr. Ryder's son, Jefferson, was here. We crossed on the same
ship. I introduced him to Judge Stott on the dock."

The judge looked surprised, but he merely said:

"I hope for his sake that he is a different man from his father."

"He is," replied Shirley simply, and nothing more was said.

Two days went by, during which Shirley went on completing the
preparations for her visit to New York. It was arranged that Stott
should escort her to the city. Shortly before they started for the
train a letter arrived for Shirley. Like the first one it had been
forwarded by her publishers. It read as follows:

    MISS SHIRLEY GREEN,

    _Dear Madam._--I shall be happy to see you at my
    residence--Fifth Avenue--any afternoon that you will
    mention.
                        Yours very truly,
                                  JOHN BURKETT RYDER,
                                                   per B.

Shirley smiled in triumph as, unseen by her father and mother, she
passed it over to Stott. She at once sat down and wrote this
reply:

    MR. JOHN BURKETT RYDER,

    _Dear Sir._--I am sorry that I am unable to comply with
    your request. I prefer the invitation to call at your
    private residence should come from Mrs. Ryder.

                            Yours, etc.,
                                         SHIRLEY GREEN.

She laughed as she showed this to Stott:

"He'll write me again," she said, "and next time his wife will
sign the letter."

An hour later she left Massapequa for the city.



CHAPTER XI


The Hon. Fitzroy Bagley had every reason to feel satisfied with
himself. His _affaire de coeur_ with the Senator's daughter was
progressing more smoothly than ever, and nothing now seemed likely
to interfere with his carefully prepared plans to capture an
American heiress. The interview with Kate Roberts in the library,
so awkwardly disturbed by Jefferson's unexpected intrusion, had
been followed by other interviews more secret and more successful,
and the plausible secretary had contrived so well to persuade the
girl that he really thought the world of her, and that a brilliant
future awaited her as his wife, that it was not long before he
found her in a mood to refuse him nothing.

Bagley urged immediate marriage; he insinuated that Jefferson had
treated her shamefully and that she owed it to herself to show the
world that there were other men as good as the one who had jilted
her. He argued that in view of the Senator being bent on the match
with Ryder's son it would be worse than useless for him, Bagley,
to make formal application for her hand, so, as he explained, the
only thing which remained was a runaway marriage. Confronted with
the _fait accompli_, papa Roberts would bow to the inevitable.
They could get married quietly in town, go away for a short trip,
and when the Senator had gotten over his first disappointment they
would be welcomed back with open arms.

Kate listened willingly enough to this specious reasoning. In her
heart she was piqued at Jefferson's indifference and she was
foolish enough to really believe that this marriage with a British
nobleman, twice removed, would be in the nature of a triumph over
him. Besides, this project of an elopement appealed strangely to
her frivolous imagination; it put her in the same class as all her
favourite novel heroines. And it would be capital fun!

Meantime, Senator Roberts, in blissful ignorance of this little
plot against his domestic peace, was growing impatient and he
approached his friend Ryder once more on the subject of his son
Jefferson. The young man, he said, had been back from Europe some
time. He insisted on knowing what his attitude was towards his
daughter. If they were engaged to be married he said there should
be a public announcement of the fact. It was unfair to him and a
slight to his daughter to let matters hang fire in this
unsatisfactory way and he hinted that both himself and his
daughter might demand their passports from the Ryder mansion
unless some explanation were forthcoming.

Ryder was in a quandary. He had no wish to quarrel with his useful
Washington ally; he recognized the reasonableness of his
complaint. Yet what could he do? Much as he himself desired the
marriage, his son was obstinate and showed little inclination to
settle down. He even hinted at attractions in another quarter. He
did not tell the Senator of his recent interview with his son when
the latter made it very plain that the marriage could never take
place. Ryder, Sr., had his own reasons for wishing to temporize.
It was quite possible that Jefferson might change his mind and
abandon his idea of going abroad and he suggested to the Senator
that perhaps if he, the Senator, made the engagement public
through the newspapers it might have the salutary effect of
forcing his son's hand.

So a few mornings later there appeared among the society notes in
several of the New York papers this paragraph:

    "The engagement is announced of Miss Katherine Roberts,
    only daughter of senator Roberts of Wisconsin, to
    Jefferson Ryder, son of Mr. John Burkett Ryder."

Two persons in New York happened to see the item about the same
time and both were equally interested, although it affected them
in a different manner. One was Shirley Rossmore, who had chanced
to pick up the newspaper at the breakfast table in her boarding
house.

"So soon?" she murmured to herself. Well, why not? She could not
blame Jefferson. He had often spoken to her of this match arranged
by his father and they had laughed over it as a typical marriage
of convenience modelled after the Continental pattern. Jefferson,
she knew, had never cared for the girl nor taken the affair
seriously. Some powerful influences must have been at work to make
him surrender so easily. Here again she recognized the masterly
hand of Ryder, Sr., and more than ever she was eager to meet this
extraordinary man and measure her strength with his. Her mind,
indeed, was too full of her father's troubles to grieve over her
own however much she might have been inclined to do so under other
circumstances, and all that day she did her best to banish the
paragraph from her thoughts. More than a week had passed since she
left Massapequa and what with corresponding with financiers,
calling on editors and publishers, every moment of her time had
been kept busy. She had found a quiet and reasonable priced
boarding house off Washington Square and here Stott had called
several times to see her. Her correspondence with Mr. Ryder had
now reached a phase when it was impossible to invent any further
excuses for delaying the interview asked for. As she had foreseen,
a day or two after her arrival in town she had received a note
from Mrs. Ryder asking her to do her the honour to call and see
her, and Shirley, after waiting another two days, had replied
making an appointment for the following day at three o'clock. This
was the same day on which the paragraph concerning the Ryder-Roberts
engagement appeared in the society chronicles of the metropolis.

Directly after the meagre meal which in New York boarding houses
is dignified by the name of luncheon, Shirley proceeded to get
ready for this portentous visit to the Ryder mansion. She was
anxious to make a favourable impression on the financier, so she
took some pains with her personal appearance. She always looked
stylish, no matter what she wore, and her poverty was of too
recent date to make much difference to her wardrobe, which was
still well supplied with Paris-made gowns. She selected a simple
close-fitting gown of gray chiffon cloth and a picture hat of
Leghorn straw heaped with red roses, Shirley's favourite flower.
Thus arrayed, she sallied forth at two o'clock--a little gray
mouse to do battle with the formidable lion.

The sky was threatening, so instead of walking a short way up
Fifth Avenue for exercise, as she had intended doing, she cut
across town through Ninth Street, and took the surface car on
Fourth Avenue. This would put her down at Madison Avenue and
Seventy-fourth Street, which was only a block from the Ryder
residence. She looked so pretty and was so well dressed that the
passers-by who looked after her wondered why she did not take a
cab instead of standing on a street corner for a car. But one's
outward appearance is not always a faithful index to the condition
of one's pocketbook, and Shirley was rapidly acquiring the art of
economy.

It was not without a certain trepidation that she began this
journey. So far, all her plans had been based largely on theory,
but now that she was actually on her way to Mr. Ryder all sorts of
misgivings beset her. Suppose he knew her by sight and roughly
accused her of obtaining access to his house under false pretences
and then had her ejected by the servants? How terrible and
humiliating that would be! And even if he did not how could she
possibly find those letters with him watching her, and all in the
brief time of a conventional afternoon call? It had been an absurd
idea from the first. Stott was right; she saw that now. But she
had entered upon it and she was not going to confess herself
beaten until she had tried. And as the car sped along Madison
Avenue, gradually drawing nearer to the house which she was going
to enter disguised as it were, like a burglar, she felt cold
chills run up and down her spine--the same sensation that one
experiences when one rings the bell of a dentist's where one has
gone to have a tooth extracted. In fact, she felt so nervous and
frightened that if she had not been ashamed before herself she
would have turned back. In about twenty minutes the car stopped at
the corner of Seventy-fourth Street. Shirley descended and with a
quickened pulse walked towards the Ryder mansion, which she knew
well by sight.



There was one other person in New York who, that same morning, had
read the newspaper item regarding the Ryder-Roberts betrothal, and
he did not take the matter so calmly as Shirley had done. On the
contrary, it had the effect of putting him into a violent rage.
This was Jefferson. He was working in his studio when he read it
and five minutes later he was tearing up-town to seek the author
of it. He understood its object, of course; they wanted to force
his hand, to shame him into this marriage, to so entangle him with
the girl that no other alternative would be possible to an
honourable man. It was a despicable trick and he had no doubt that
his father was at the back of it. So his mind now was fully made
up. He would go away at once where they could not make his life a
burden with this odious marriage which was fast becoming a
nightmare to him. He would close up his studio and leave
immediately for Europe. He would show his father once for all that
he was a man and expected to be treated as one.

He wondered what Shirley was doing. Where had she gone, what was
this mysterious work of which she had spoken? He only realized
now, when she seemed entirely beyond his reach, how much he loved
her and how empty his life would be without her. He would know no
happiness until she was his wife. Her words on the porch did not
discourage him. Under the circumstances he could not expect her to
have said anything else. She could not marry into John Ryder's
family with such a charge hanging over her own father's head, but,
later, when the trial was over, no matter how it turned out, he
would go to her again and ask her to be his wife.

On arriving home the first person he saw was the ubiquitous Mr.
Bagley, who stood at the top of the first staircase giving some
letters to the butler. Jefferson cornered him at once, holding out
the newspaper containing the offending paragraph.

"Say, Bagley," he cried, "what does this mean? Is this any of your
doing?"

The English secretary gave his employer's son a haughty stare, and
then, without deigning to reply or even to glance at the
newspaper, continued his instructions to the servant:

"Here, Jorkins, get stamps for all these letters and see they are
mailed at once. They are very important."

"Very good, sir."

The man took the letters and disappeared, while Jefferson,
impatient, repeated his question:

"My doing?" sneered Mr. Bagley. "Really, Jefferson, you go too
far! Do you suppose for one instant that I would condescend to
trouble myself with your affairs?"

Jefferson was in no mood to put up with insolence from anyone,
especially from a man whom he heartily despised, so advancing
menacingly he thundered:

"I mean--were you, in the discharge of your menial-like duties,
instructed by my father to send that paragraph to the newspapers
regarding my alleged betrothal to Miss Roberts? Yes or No?"

The man winced and made a step backward. There was a gleam in the
Ryder eye which he knew by experience boded no good.

"Really, Jefferson," he said in a more conciliatory tone, "I know
absolutely nothing about the paragraph. This is the first I hear
of it. Why not ask your father?"

"I will," replied Jefferson grimly.

He was turning to go in the direction of the library when Bagley
stopped him.

"You cannot possibly see him now," he said. "Sergeant Ellison of
the Secret Service is in there with him, and your father told me
not to disturb him on any account. He has another appointment at
three o'clock with some woman who writes books."

Seeing that the fellow was in earnest, Jefferson did not insist.
He could see his father a little later or send him a message
through his mother. Proceeding upstairs he found Mrs. Ryder in her
room and in a few energetic words he explained the situation to
his mother. They had gone too far with this match-making business,
he said, his father was trying to interfere with his personal
liberty and he was going to put a stop to it. He would leave at
once for Europe. Mrs. Ryder had already heard of the projected
trip abroad, so the news of this sudden departure was not the
shock it might otherwise have been. In her heart she did not blame
her son, on the contrary she admired his spirit, and if the
temporary absence from home would make him happier, she would not
hold him back. Yet, mother like, she wept and coaxed, but nothing
would shake Jefferson in his determination and he begged his
mother to make it very plain to his father that this was final and
that a few days would see him on his way abroad. He would try and
come back to see his father that afternoon, but otherwise she was
to say good-bye for him. Mrs. Ryder promised tearfully to do what
her son demanded and a few minutes later Jefferson was on his way
to the front door.

As he went down stairs something white on the carpet attracted his
attention. He stooped and picked it up. It was a letter. It was in
Bagley's handwriting and had evidently been dropped by the man to
whom the secretary had given it to post. But what interested
Jefferson more than anything else was that it was addressed to
Miss Kate Roberts. Under ordinary circumstances, a king's ransom
would not have tempted the young man to read a letter addressed to
another, but he was convinced that his father's secretary was an
adventurer and if he were carrying on an intrigue in this manner
it could have only one meaning. It was his duty to unveil a rascal
who was using the Ryder roof and name to further his own ends and
victimize a girl who, although sophisticated enough to know
better, was too silly to realize the risk she ran at the hands of
an unscrupulous man. Hesitating no longer, Jefferson tore open the
envelope and read:

    My dearest wife that is to be:

    I have arranged everything. Next Wednesday--just a week
    from to-day--we will go to the house of a discreet friend
    of mine where a minister will marry us; then we will go to
    City Hall and get through the legal part of it.
    Afterwards, we can catch the four o'clock train for
    Buffalo. Meet me in the ladies' room at the Holland House
    Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. I will come there with a
    closed cab.
                            Your devoted
                                                FITZ.

"Phew!" Jefferson whistled. A close shave this for Senator
Roberts, he thought. His first impulse was to go upstairs again to
his mother and put the matter in her hands. She would immediately
inform his father, who would make short work of Mr. Bagley. But,
thought Jefferson, why should he spoil a good thing? He could
afford to wait a day or two. There was no hurry. He could allow
Bagley to think all was going swimmingly and then uncover the plot
at the eleventh hour. He would even let this letter go to Kate,
there was no difficulty in procuring another envelope and
imitating the handwriting--and when Bagley was just preparing to
go to the rendezvous he would spring the trap. Such a cad deserved
no mercy. The scandal would be a knock-out blow, his father would
discharge him on the spot and that would be the last they would
see of the aristocratic English secretary. Jefferson put the
letter in his pocket and left the house rejoicing.



While the foregoing incidents were happening John Burkett Ryder
was secluded in his library. The great man had come home earlier
than usual, for he had two important callers to see by appointment
that afternoon. One was Sergeant Ellison, who had to report on his
mission to Massapequa; the other was Miss Shirley Green, the
author of "The American Octopus," who had at last deigned to
honour him with a visit. Pending the arrival of these visitors the
financier was busy with his secretary trying to get rid as rapidly
as possible of what business and correspondence there was on hand.

The plutocrat was sitting at his desk poring over a mass of
papers. Between his teeth was the inevitable long black cigar and
when he raised his eyes to the light a close observer might have
remarked that they were sea-green, a colour they assumed when the
man of millions was absorbed in scheming new business deals. Every
now and then he stopped reading the papers to make quick
calculations on scraps of paper. Then if the result pleased him, a
smile overspread his saturnine features. He rose from his chair
and nervously paced the floor as he always did when thinking
deeply.

"Five millions," he muttered, "not a cent more. If they won't sell
we'll crush them--"

Mr. Bagley entered. Mr. Ryder looked up quickly.

"Well, Bagley?" he said interrogatively. "Has Sergeant Ellison
come?"

"Yes, sir. But Mr. Herts is downstairs. He insists on seeing you
about the Philadelphia gas deal. He says it is a matter of life
and death."

"To him--yes," answered the financier dryly. "Let him come up. We
might as well have it out now."

Mr. Bagley went out and returned almost immediately, followed by a
short, fat man, rather loudly dressed and apoplectic in
appearance. He looked like a prosperous brewer, while, as a matter
of fact, he was president of a gas company, one of the shrewdest
promoters in the country, and a big man in Wall Street. There was
only one bigger man and that was John Ryder. But, to-day, Mr.
Herts was not in good condition. His face was pale and his manner
flustered and nervous. He was plainly worried.

"Mr. Ryder," he began with excited gesture, "the terms you offer
are preposterous. It would mean disaster to the stockholders. Our
gas properties are worth six times that amount. We will sell out
for twenty millions--not a cent less."

Ryder shrugged his shoulders.

"Mr. Herts," he replied coolly, "I am busy to-day and in no mood
for arguing. We'll either buy you out or force you out. Choose.
You have our offer. Five millions for your gas property. Will you
take it?"

"We'll see you in hell first!" cried his visitor exasperated.

"Very well," replied Ryder still unruffled, "all negotiations are
off. You leave me free to act. We have an offer to buy cheap the
old Germantown Gas Company which has charter rights to go into any
of the streets of Philadelphia. We shall purchase that company, we
will put ten millions new capital into it, and reduce the price of
gas in Philadelphia to sixty cents a thousand. Where will you be
then?"

The face of the Colossus as he uttered this stand and deliver
speech was calm and inscrutable. Conscious of the resistless power
of his untold millions, he felt no more compunction in mercilessly
crushing this business rival than he would in trampling out the
life of a worm. The little man facing him looked haggard and
distressed. He knew well that this was no idle threat. He was well
aware that Ryder and his associates by the sheer weight of the
enormous wealth they controlled could sell out or destroy any
industrial corporation in the land. It was plainly illegal, but it
was done every day, and his company was not the first victim nor
the last. Desperate, he appealed humbly to the tyrannical Money
Power:

"Don't drive us to the wall, Mr. Ryder. This forced sale will mean
disaster to us all. Put yourself in our place--think what it means
to scores of families whose only support is the income from their
investment in our company."

"Mr. Herts," replied Ryder unmoved, "I never allow sentiment to
interfere with business. You have heard my terms. I refuse to
argue the matter further. What is it to be? Five millions or
competition? Decide now or this interview must end!"

He took out his watch and with his other hand touched a bell.
Beads of perspiration stood on his visitor's forehead. In a voice
broken with suppressed emotion he said hoarsely:

"You're a hard, pitiless man, John Ryder! So be it--five millions.
I don't know what they'll say. I don't dare return to them."

"Those are my terms," said Ryder coldly. "The papers," he added,
"will be ready for your signature to-morrow at this time, and I'll
have a cheque ready for the entire amount. Good-day."

Mr. Bagley entered. Ryder bowed to Herts, who slowly retired. When
the door had closed on him Ryder went back to his desk, a smile of
triumph on his face. Then he turned to his secretary:

"Let Sergeant Ellison come up," he said.

The secretary left the room and Mr. Ryder sank comfortably in his
chair, puffing silently at his long black cigar. The financier was
thinking, but his thoughts concerned neither the luckless gas
president he had just pitilessly crushed, nor the detective who
had come to make his report. He was thinking of the book "The
American Octopus," and its bold author whom he was to meet in a
very few minutes. He glanced at the clock. A quarter to three. She
would be here in fifteen minutes if she were punctual, but women
seldom are, he reflected. What kind of a woman could she be, this
Shirley Green, to dare cross swords with a man whose power was
felt in two hemispheres? No ordinary woman, that was certain. He
tried to imagine what she looked like, and he pictured a tall,
gaunt, sexless spinster with spectacles, a sort of nightmare in
the garb of a woman. A sour, discontented creature, bitter to all
mankind, owing to disappointments in early life and especially
vindictive towards the rich, whom her socialistic and even
anarchistical tendencies prompted her to hate and attack. Yet,
withal, a brainy, intelligent woman, remarkably well informed as
to political and industrial conditions--a woman to make a friend
of rather than an enemy. And John Ryder, who had educated himself
to believe that with gold he could do everything, that none could
resist its power, had no doubt that with money he could enlist
this Shirley Green in his service. At least it would keep her from
writing more books about him.

The door opened and Sergeant Ellison entered, followed by the
secretary, who almost immediately withdrew.

"Well, sergeant," said Mr. Ryder cordially, "what have you to tell
me? I can give you only a few minutes. I expect a lady friend of
yours."

The plutocrat sometimes condescended to be jocular with his
subordinates.

"A lady friend of mine, sir?" echoed the man, puzzled.

"Yes--Miss Shirley Green, the author," replied the financier,
enjoying the detective's embarrassment. "That suggestion of yours
worked out all right. She's coming here to-day."

"I'm glad you've found her, sir."

"It was a tough job," answered Ryder with a grimace. "We wrote her
half a dozen times before she was satisfied with the wording of
the invitation. But, finally, we landed her and I expect her at
three o'clock. Now what about that Rossmore girl? Did you go down
to Massapequa?"

"Yes, sir, I have been there half a dozen times. In fact, I've
just come from there. Judge Rossmore is there, all right, but his
daughter has left for parts unknown."

"Gone away--where?" exclaimed the financier.

This was what he dreaded. As long as he could keep his eye on the
girl there was little danger of Jefferson making a fool of
himself; with her disappeared everything was possible.

"I could not find out, sir. Their neighbours don't know much about
them. They say they're haughty and stuck up. The only one I could
get anything out of was a parson named Deetle. He said it was a
sad case, that they had reverses and a daughter who was in
Paris--"

"Yes, yes," said Ryder impatiently, "we know all that. But where's
the daughter now?"

"Search me, sir. I even tried to pump the Irish slavey. Gee, what
a vixen! She almost flew at me. She said she didn't know and
didn't care."

Ryder brought his fist down with force on his desk, a trick he had
when he wished to emphasize a point.

"Sergeant, I don't like the mysterious disappearance of that girl.
You must find her, do you hear, you must find her if it takes all
the sleuths in the country. Had my son been seen there?"

"The parson said he saw a young fellow answering his description
sitting on the porch of the Rossmore cottage the evening before
the girl disappeared, but he didn't know who he was and hasn't
seen him since."

"That was my son, I'll wager. He knows where the girl is. Perhaps
he's with her now. Maybe he's going to marry her. That must be
prevented at any cost. Sergeant, find that Rossmore girl and I'll
give you $1,000."

The detective's face flushed with pleasure at the prospect of so
liberal a reward. Rising he said:

"I'll find her, sir. I'll find her."

Mr. Bagley entered, wearing the solemn, important air he always
affected when he had to announce a visitor of consequence. But
before he could open his mouth Mr. Ryder said:

"Bagley, when did you see my son, Jefferson, last?"

"To-day, sir. He wanted to see you to say good-bye. He said he
would be back."

Ryder gave a sigh of relief and addressing the detective said:

"It's not so bad as I thought." Then turning again to his
secretary he asked:

"Well, Bagley, what is it?"

"There's a lady downstairs, sir--Miss Shirley Green."

The financier half sprang from his seat.

"Oh, yes. Show her up at once. Good-bye, sergeant, good-bye. Find
that Rossmore woman and the $1,000 is yours."

The detective went out and a few moments later Mr. Bagley
reappeared ushering in Shirley.

The mouse was in the den of the lion.



CHAPTER XII


Mr. Ryder remained at his desk and did not even look up when his
visitor entered. He pretended to be busily preoccupied with his
papers, which was a favourite pose of his when receiving
strangers. This frigid reception invariably served its purpose,
for it led visitors not to expect more than they got, which
usually was little enough. For several minutes Shirley stood
still, not knowing whether to advance or to take a seat. She gave
a little conventional cough, and Ryder looked up. What he saw so
astonished him that he at once took from his mouth the cigar he
was smoking and rose from his seat. He had expected a gaunt old
maid with spectacles, and here was a stylish, good-looking young
woman, who could not possibly be over twenty-five. There was
surely some mistake. This slip of a girl could not have written
"The American Octopus." He advanced to greet Shirley.

"You wish to see me, Madame?" he asked courteously. There were
times when even John Burkett Ryder could be polite.

"Yes," replied Shirley, her voice trembling a little; in spite of
her efforts to keep cool. "I am here by appointment. Three
o'clock, Mrs. Ryder's note said. I am Miss Green."

"_You_--Miss Green?" echoed the financier dubiously.

"Yes, I am Miss Green--Shirley Green, author of 'The American
Octopus.' You asked me to call. Here I am."

For the first time in his life, John Ryder was nonplussed. He
coughed and stammered and looked round for a place where he could
throw his cigar. Shirley, who enjoyed his embarrassment, put him
at his ease.

"Oh, please go on smoking," she said; "I don't mind it in the
least."

Ryder threw the cigar into a receptacle and looked closely at his
visitor.

"So you are Shirley Green, eh?"

"That is my _nom-de-plume_--yes," replied the girl nervously. She
was already wishing herself back at Massapequa. The financier eyed
her for a moment in silence as if trying to gauge the strength of
the personality of this audacious young woman, who had dared to
criticise his business methods in public print; then, waving her
to a seat near his desk, he said:

"Won't you sit down?"

"Thank you," murmured Shirley. She sat down, and he took his seat
at the other side of the desk, which brought them face to face.
Again inspecting the girl with a close scrutiny that made her
cheeks burn, Ryder said:

"I rather expected--" He stopped for a moment as if uncertain what
to say, then he added: "You're younger than I thought you were,
Miss Green, much younger."

"Time will remedy that," smiled Shirley. Then, mischievously, she
added: "I rather expected to see Mrs. Ryder."

There was the faintest suspicion of a smile playing around the
corners of the plutocrat's mouth as he picked up a book lying on
his desk and replied:

"Yes--she wrote you, but I--wanted to see you about this."

Shirley's pulse throbbed faster, but she tried hard to appear
unconcerned as she answered:

"Oh, my book--have you read it?"

"I have," replied Ryder slowly and, fixing her with a stare that
was beginning to make her uncomfortable, he went on: "No doubt
your time is valuable, so I'll come right to the point. I want to
ask you, Miss Green, where you got the character of your central
figure--the Octopus, as you call him--John Broderick?"

"From imagination--of course," answered Shirley.

Ryder opened the book, and Shirley noticed that there were several
passages marked. He turned the leaves over in silence for a minute
or two and then he said:

"You've sketched a pretty big man here--"

"Yes," assented Shirley, "he has big possibilities, but I think he
makes very small use of them."

Ryder appeared not to notice her commentary, and, still reading
the book, he continued:

"On page 22 you call him '_the world's greatest individualized
potentiality, a giant combination of materiality, mentality and
money--the greatest exemplar of individual human will in existence
to-day._' And you make indomitable will and energy the keystone of
his marvellous success. Am I right?" He looked at her questioningly.

"Quite right," answered Shirley.

Ryder proceeded:

"On page 26 you say '_the machinery of his money-making mind
typifies the laws of perpetual unrest. It must go on, relentlessly,
resistlessly, ruthlessly making money--making money and continuing
to make money. It cannot stop until the machinery crumbles._'"

Laying the book down and turning sharply on Shirley, he asked her
bluntly:

"Do you mean to say that I couldn't stop to-morrow if I wanted
to?"

She affected to not understand him.

"_You?_" she inquired in a tone of surprise.

"Well--it's a natural question," stammered Ryder, with a nervous
little laugh; "every man sees himself in the hero of a novel just
as every woman sees herself in the heroine. We're all heroes and
heroines in our own eyes. But tell me what's your private opinion
of this man. You drew the character. What do you think of him as a
type, how would you classify him?"

"As the greatest criminal the world has yet produced," replied
Shirley without a moment's hesitation.

The financier looked at the girl in unfeigned astonishment.

"Criminal?" he echoed.

"Yes, criminal," repeated Shirley decisively. "He is avarice,
egotism, and ambition incarnate. He loves money because he loves
power, and he loves power more than his fellow man."

Ryder laughed uneasily. Decidedly, this girl had opinions of her
own which she was not backward to express.

"Isn't that rather strong?" he asked.

"I don't think so," replied Shirley. Then quickly she asked: "But
what does it matter? No such man exists."

"No, of course not," said Ryder, and he relapsed into silence.

Yet while he said nothing, the plutocrat was watching his visitor
closely from under his thick eyebrows. She seemed supremely
unconscious of his scrutiny. Her aristocratic, thoughtful face
gave no sign that any ulterior motive had actuated her evidently
very hostile attitude against him. That he was in her mind when
she drew the character of John Broderick there was no doubt
possible. No matter how she might evade the identification, he was
convinced he was the hero of her book. Why had she attacked him so
bitterly? At first, it occurred to him that blackmail might be her
object; she might be going to ask for money as the price of future
silence. Yet it needed but a glance at her refined and modest
demeanour to dispel that idea as absurd. Then he remembered, too,
that it was not she who had sought this interview, but himself.
No, she was no blackmailer. More probably she was a dreamer--one
of those meddling sociologists who, under pretence of bettering
the conditions of the working classes, stir up discontent and
bitterness of feeling. As such; she might prove more to be feared
than a mere blackmailer whom he could buy off with money. He knew
he was not popular, but he was no worse than the other captains of
industry. It was a cut-throat game at best. Competition was the
soul of commercial life, and if he had outwitted his competitors
and made himself richer than all of them, he was not a criminal
for that. But all these attacks in newspapers and books did not do
him any good. One day the people might take these demagogic
writings seriously and then there would be the devil to pay. He
took up the book again and ran over the pages. This certainly was
no ordinary girl. She knew more and had a more direct way of
saying things than any woman he had ever met. And as he watched
her furtively across the desk he wondered how he could use her;
how instead of being his enemy, he could make her his friend. If
he did not, she would go away and write more such books, and
literature of this kind might become a real peril to his
interests. Money could do anything; it could secure the services
of this woman and prevent her doing further mischief. But how
could he employ her? Suddenly an inspiration came to him. For some
years he had been collecting material for a history of the Empire
Trading Company. She could write it. It would practically be his
own biography. Would she undertake it?

Embarrassed by the long silence, Shirley finally broke it by
saying:

"But you didn't ask me to call merely to find out what I thought
of my own work."

"No," replied Ryder slowly, "I want you to do some work for me."

He opened a drawer at the left-hand side of his desk and took out
several sheets of foolscap and a number of letters. Shirley's
heart beat faster as she caught sight of the letters. Were her
father's among them? She wondered what kind of work John Burkett
Ryder had for her to do and if she would do it whatever it was.
Some literary work probably, compiling or something of that kind.
If it was well paid, why should she not accept? There would be
nothing humiliating in it; it would not tie her hands in any way.
She was a professional writer in the market to be employed by
whoever could pay the price. Besides, such work might give her
better opportunities to secure the letters of which she was in
search. Gathering in one pile all the papers he had removed from
the drawer, Mr. Ryder said:

"I want you to put my biography together from this material. But
first," he added, taking up "The American Octopus," "I want to
know where you got the details of this man's life."

"Oh, for the most part--imagination, newspapers, magazines,"
replied Shirley carelessly. "You know the American millionaire is
a very overworked topic just now--and naturally I've read--"

"Yes, I understand," he said, "but I refer to what you haven't
read--what you couldn't have read. For example, here." He turned
to a page marked in the book and read aloud: "_As an evidence of
his petty vanity, when a youth he had a beautiful Indian girl
tattooed just above the forearm._" Ryder leaned eagerly forward as
he asked her searchingly: "Now who told you that I had my arm
tattooed when I was a boy?"

"Have you?" laughed Shirley nervously. "What a curious
coincidence!"

"Let me read you another coincidence," said Ryder meaningly. He
turned to another part of the book and read: "_the same eternal
long black cigar always between his lips_ ..."

"General Grant smoked, too," interrupted Shirley. "All men who
think deeply along material lines seem to smoke."

"Well, we'll let that go. But how about this?" He turned back a
few pages and read: "_John Broderick had loved, when a young man,
a girl who lived in Vermont, but circumstances separated them._"
He stopped and stared at Shirley a moment and then he said: "I
loved a girl when I was a lad and she came from Vermont, and
circumstances separated us. That isn't coincidence, for presently
you make John Broderick marry a young woman who had money. I
married a girl with money."

"Lots of men marry for money," remarked Shirley.

"I said _with_ money, not for money," retorted Ryder. Then turning
again to the book, he said: "Now, this is what I can't understand,
for no one could have told you this but I myself. Listen." He read
aloud: "_With all his physical bravery and personal courage, John
Broderick was intensely afraid of death. It was on his mind
constantly._" "Who told you that?" he demanded somewhat roughly.
"I swear I've never mentioned it to a living soul."

"Most men who amass money are afraid of death," replied Shirley
with outward composure, "for death is about the only thing that
can separate them from their money."

Ryder laughed, but it was a hollow, mocking laugh, neither sincere
nor hearty. It was a laugh such as the devil may have given when
driven out of heaven.

"You're quite a character!" He laughed again, and Shirley,
catching the infection, laughed, too.

"It's me and it isn't me," went on Ryder flourishing the book.
"This fellow Broderick is all right; he's successful and he's
great, but I don't like his finish."

"It's logical," ventured Shirley.

"It's cruel," insisted Ryder.

"So is the man who reverses the divine law and hates his neighbour
instead of loving him," retorted Shirley.

She spoke more boldly, beginning to feel more sure of her ground,
and it amused her to fence in this way with the man of millions.
So far, she thought, he had not got the best of her. She was fast
becoming used to him, and her first feeling of intimidation was
passing away.

"Um!" grunted Ryder, "you're a curious girl; upon my word you
interest me!" He took the mass of papers lying at his elbow and
pushed them over to her. "Here," he said, "I want you to make as
clever a book out of this chaos as you did out of your own
imagination."

Shirley turned the papers over carelessly.

"So you think your life is a good example to follow?" she asked
with a tinge of irony.

"Isn't it?" he demanded.

The girl looked him square in the face.

"Suppose," she said, "we all wanted to follow it, suppose we all
wanted to be the richest, the most powerful personage in the
world?"

"Well--what then?" he demanded.

"I think it would postpone the era of the Brotherhood of man
indefinitely, don't you?"

"I never thought of it from that point of view," admitted the
billionaire. "Really," he added, "you're an extraordinary girl.
Why, you can't be more than twenty--or so."

"I'm twenty-four--or so," smiled Shirley.

Ryder's face expanded in a broad smile. He admired this girl's
pluck and ready wit. He grew more amiable and tried to gain her
confidence. In a coaxing tone he said:

"Come, where did you get those details? Take me into your
confidence."

"I have taken you into my confidence," laughed Shirley, pointing
at her book. "It cost you $1.50!" Turning over the papers he had
put before her she said presently: "I don't know about this."

"You don't think my life would make good reading?" he asked with
some asperity.

"It might," she replied slowly, as if unwilling to commit herself
as to its commercial or literary value. Then she said frankly: "To
tell you the honest truth, I don't consider mere genius in
money-making is sufficient provocation for rushing into print. You
see, unless you come to a bad end, it would have no moral."

Ignoring the not very flattering insinuation contained in this
last speech, the plutocrat continued to urge her:

"You can name your own price if you will do the work," he said.
"Two, three or even five thousand dollars. It's only a few months'
work."

"Five thousand dollars?" echoed Shirley. "That's a lot of money."
Smiling, she added: "It appeals to my commercial sense. But I'm
afraid the subject does not arouse my enthusiasm from an artistic
standpoint."

Ryder seemed amused at the idea of any one hesitating to make five
thousand dollars. He knew that writers do not run across such
opportunities every day.

"Upon my word," he said, "I don't know why I'm so anxious to get
you to do the work. I suppose it's because you don't want to. You
remind me of my son. Ah, he's a problem!"

Shirley started involuntarily when Ryder mentioned his son. But he
did not notice it.

"Why, is he wild?" she asked, as if only mildly interested.

"Oh, no, I wish he were," said Ryder.

"Fallen in love with the wrong woman, I suppose," she said.

"Something of the sort--how did you guess?" asked Ryder surprised.

Shirley coughed to hide her embarrassment and replied
indifferently.

"So many boys do that. Besides," she added with a mischievous
twinkle in her eyes, "I can hardly imagine that any woman would be
the right one unless you selected her yourself!"

Ryder made no answer. He folded his arms and gazed at her. Who was
this woman who knew him so well, who could read his inmost
thoughts, who never made a mistake? After a silence he said:

"Do you know you say the strangest things?"

"Truth is strange," replied Shirley carelessly. "I don't suppose
you hear it very often."

"Not in that form," admitted Ryder.

Shirley had taken on to her lap some of the letters he had passed
her, and was perusing them one after another.

"All these letters from Washington consulting you on politics and
finance--they won't interest the world."

"My secretary picked them out," explained Ryder. "Your artistic
sense will tell you what to use."

"Does your son still love this girl? I mean the one you object
to?" inquired Shirley as she went on sorting the papers.

"Oh, no, he does not care for her any more," answered Ryder
hastily.

"Yes, he does; he still loves her," said Shirley positively.

"How do _you_ know?" asked Ryder amazed.

"From the way you say he doesn't," retorted Shirley.

Ryder gave his caller a look in which admiration was mingled with
astonishment.

"You are right again," he said. "The idiot does love the girl."

"Bless his heart," said Shirley to herself. Aloud she said:

"I hope they'll both outwit you."

Ryder laughed in spite of himself. This young woman certainly
interested him more than any other he had ever known.

"I don't think I ever met anyone in my life quite like you," he
said.

"What's the objection to the girl?" demanded Shirley.

"Every objection. I don't want her in my family."

"Anything against her character?"

To better conceal the keen interest she took in the personal turn
the conversation had taken, Shirley pretended to be more busy than
ever with the papers.

"Yes--that is no--not that I know of," replied Ryder. "But because
a woman has a good character, that doesn't necessarily make her a
desirable match, does it?"

"It's a point in her favor, isn't it?"

"Yes--but--" He hesitated as if uncertain what to say.

"You know men well, don't you, Mr. Ryder?"

"I've met enough to know them pretty well," he replied.

"Why don't you study women for a change?" she asked. "That would
enable you to understand a great many things that I don't think
are quite clear to you now."

Ryder laughed good humouredly. It was decidedly a novel sensation
to have someone lecturing him.

"I'm studying you," he said, "but I don't seem to make much
headway. A woman like you whose mind isn't spoiled by the
amusement habit has great possibilities--great possibilities. Do
you know you're the first woman I ever took into my confidence--I
mean at sight?" Again he fixed her with that keen glance which in
his business life had taught him how to read men. He continued:
"I'm acting on sentiment--something I rarely do, but I can't help
it. I like you, upon my soul I do, and I'm going to introduce you
to my wife--my son--"

He took the telephone from his desk as if he were going to use it.

"What a commander-in-chief you would have made--how natural it is
for you to command," exclaimed Shirley in a burst of admiration
that was half real, half mocking. "I suppose you always tell
people what they are to do and how they are to do it. You are a
born general. You know I've often thought that Napoleon and Caesar
and Alexander must have been great domestic leaders as well as
imperial rulers. I'm sure of it now."

Ryder listened to her in amazement. He was not quite sure if she
were making fun of him or not.

"Well, of all--" he began. Then interrupting himself he said
amiably: "Won't you do me the honour to meet my family?"

Shirley smiled sweetly and bowed.

"Thank you, Mr. Ryder, I will."

She rose from her seat and leaned over the manuscripts to conceal
the satisfaction this promise of an introduction to the family
circle gave her. She was quick to see that it meant more visits to
the house, and other and perhaps better opportunities to find the
objects of her search. Ryder lifted the receiver of his telephone
and talked to his secretary in another room, while Shirley, who
was still standing, continued examining the papers and letters.

"Is that you, Bagley? What's that? General Dodge? Get rid of him.
I can't see him to-day. Tell him to come to-morrow. What's that?
My son wants to see me? Tell him to come to the phone."

At that instant Shirley gave a little cry, which in vain she tried
to suppress. Ryder looked up.

"What's the matter?" he demanded startled.

"Nothing--nothing!" she replied in a hoarse whisper. "I pricked
myself with a pin. Don't mind me."

She had just come across her father's missing letters, which had
got mixed up, evidently without Ryder's knowledge, in the mass of
papers he had handed her. Prepared as she was to find the letters
somewhere in the house, she never dreamed that fate would put them
so easily and so quickly into her hands; the suddenness of their
appearance and the sight of her father's familiar signature
affected her almost like a shock. Now she had them, she must not
let them go again; yet how could she keep them unobserved? Could
she conceal them? Would he miss them? She tried to slip them in
her bosom while Ryder was busy at the 'phone, but he suddenly
glanced in her direction and caught her eye. She still held the
letters in her hand, which shook from nervousness, but he noticed
nothing and went on speaking through the 'phone:

"Hallo, Jefferson, boy! You want to see me. Can you wait till I'm
through? I've got a lady here. Going away? Nonsense! Determined,
eh? Well, I can't keep you here if you've made up your mind. You
want to say good-bye. Come up in about five minutes and I'll
introduce you to a very interesting person,"

He laughed and hung up the receiver. Shirley was all unstrung,
trying to overcome the emotion which her discovery had caused her,
and in a strangely altered voice, the result of the nervous strain
she was under, she said:

"You want me to come here?"

She looked up from the letters she was reading across to Ryder,
who was standing watching her on the other side of the desk. He
caught her glance and, leaning over to take some manuscript, he
said:

"Yes, I don't want these papers to get--"

His eye suddenly rested on the letters she was holding. He stopped
short, and reaching forward he tried to snatch them from her.

"What have you got there?" he exclaimed.

He took the letters and she made no resistance. It would be folly
to force the issue now, she thought. Another opportunity would
present itself. Ryder locked the letters up very carefully in the
drawer on the left-hand side of his desk, muttering to himself
rather than speaking to Shirley:

"How on earth did they get among my other papers?"

"From Judge Rossmore, were they not?" said Shirley boldly.

"How did you know it was Judge Rossmore?" demanded Ryder
suspiciously. "I didn't know that his name had been mentioned."

"I saw his signature," she said simply. Then she added: "He's the
father of the girl you don't like, isn't he?"

"Yes, he's the--"

A cloud came over the financier's face; his eyes darkened, his
jaws snapped and he clenched his fist.

"How you must hate him!" said Shirley, who observed the change.

"Not at all," replied Ryder recovering his self-possession and
suavity of manner. "I disagree with his politics and his methods,
but--I know very little about him except that he is about to be
removed from office."

"About to be?" echoed Shirley. "So his fate is decided even before
he is tried?" The girl laughed bitterly. "Yes," she went on, "some
of the newspapers are beginning to think he is innocent of the
things of which he is accused."

"Do they?" said Ryder indifferently.

"Yes," she persisted, "most people are on his side."

She planted her elbows on the desk in front of her, and looking
him squarely in the face, she asked him point blank:

"Whose side are you on--really and truly?"

Ryder winced. What right had this woman, a stranger both to Judge
Rossmore and himself, to come here and catechise him? He
restrained his impatience with difficulty as he replied:

"Whose side am I on? Oh, I don't know that I am on any side. I
don't know that I give it much thought. I--"

"Do you think this man deserves to be punished?" she demanded.

She had resumed her seat at the desk and partly regained her
self-possession.

"Why do you ask? What is your interest in this matter?"

"I don't know," she replied evasively; "his case interests me,
that's all. Its rather romantic. Your son loves this man's
daughter. He is in disgrace--many seem to think unjustly." Her
voice trembled with emotion as she continued: "I have heard from
one source or another--you know I am acquainted with a number of
newspaper men--I have heard that life no longer has any interest
for him, that he is not only disgraced but beggared, that he is
pining away slowly, dying of a broken heart, that his wife and
daughter are in despair. Tell me, do you think he deserves such a
fate?"

Ryder remained thoughtful a moment, and then he replied:

"No, I do not--no--"

Thinking that she had touched his sympathies, Shirley followed up
her advantage:

"Oh, then, why not come to his rescue--you, who are so rich, so
powerful; you, who can move the scales of justice at your
will--save this man from humiliation and disgrace!"

Ryder shrugged his shoulders, and his face expressed weariness, as
if the subject had begun to bore him.

"My dear girl, you don't understand. His removal is necessary."

Shirley's face became set and hard. There was a contemptuous ring
to her words as she retorted:

"Yet you admit that he may be innocent!"

"Even if I knew it as a fact, I couldn't move."

"Do you mean to say that if you had positive proof?" She pointed
to the drawer in the desk where he had placed the letters. "If you
had absolute proof in that drawer, for instance? Wouldn't you help
him then?"

Ryder's face grew cold and inscrutable; he now wore his fighting
mask.

"Not even if I had the absolute proof in that drawer?" he snapped
viciously.

"Have you absolute proof in that drawer?" she demanded.

"I repeat that even if I had, I could not expose the men who have
been my friends. Its _noblesse oblige_ in politics as well as in
society, you know."

He smiled again at her, as if he had recovered his good humour
after their sharp passage at arms.

"Oh, it's politics--that's what the papers said. And you believe
him innocent. Well, you must have some grounds for your belief."

"Not necessarily--"

"You said that even if you had the proofs, you could not produce
them without sacrificing your friends, showing that your friends
are interested in having this man put off the bench--" She stopped
and burst into hysterical laughter. "Oh, I think you're having a
joke at my expense," she went on, "just to see how far you can
lead me. I daresay Judge Rossmore deserves all he gets. Oh,
yes--I'm sure he deserves it." She rose and walked to the other
side of the room to conceal her emotion.

Ryder watched her curiously.

"My dear young lady, how you take this matter to heart!"

"Please forgive me," laughed Shirley, and averting her face to
conceal the fact that her eyes were filled with tears. "It's my
artistic temperament, I suppose. It's always getting me into
trouble. It appealed so strongly to my sympathies--this story of
hopeless love between two young people--with the father of the
girl hounded by corrupt politicians and unscrupulous financiers.
It was too much for me. Ah! ah! I forgot where I was!"

She leaned against a chair, sick and faint from nervousness, her
whole body trembling. At that moment there was a knock at the
library door and Jefferson Ryder appeared. Not seeing Shirley,
whose back was towards him, he advanced to greet his father.

"You told me to come up in five minutes," he said. "I just wanted
to say--"

"Miss Green," said Ryder, Sr., addressing Shirley and ignoring
whatever it was that the young man wanted to say, "this is my son
Jefferson. Jeff--this is Miss Green."

Jefferson looked in the direction indicated and stood as if rooted
to the floor. He was so surprised that he was struck dumb.
Finally, recovering himself, he exclaimed:

"Shirley!"

"Yes, Shirley Green, the author," explained Ryder, Sr., not
noticing the note of familiar recognition in his exclamation.

Shirley advanced, and holding out her hand to Jefferson, said
demurely:

"I am very pleased to meet you, Mr. Ryder." Then quickly, in an
undertone, she added: "Be careful; don't betray me!"

Jefferson was so astounded that he did not see the outstretched
hand. All he could do was to stand and stare first at her and then
at his father.

"Why don't you shake hands with her?" said Ryder, Sr. "She won't
bite you." Then he added: "Miss Green is going to do some literary
work for me, so we shall see a great deal of her. It's too bad
you're going away!" He chuckled at his own pleasantry.

"Father!" blurted out Jefferson, "I came to say that I've changed
my mind. You did not want me to go, and I feel I ought to do
something to please you."

"Good boy," said Ryder pleased. "Now you're talking common sense,"
He turned to Shirley, who was getting ready to make her departure:
"Well, Miss Green, we may consider the matter settled. You
undertake the work at the price I named and finish it as soon as
you can. Of course, you will have to consult me a good deal as you
go along, so I think it would be better for you to come and stay
here while the work is progressing. Mrs. Ryder can give you a
suite of rooms to yourself, where you will be undisturbed and you
will have all your material close at hand. What do you say?"

Shirley was silent for a moment. She looked first at Ryder and
then at his son, and from them her glance went to the little
drawer on the left-hand side of the desk. Then she said quietly:

"As you think best, Mr. Ryder. I am quite willing to do the work
here."

Ryder, Sr., escorted her to the top of the landing and watched her
as she passed down the grand staircase, ushered by the gorgeously
uniformed flunkies, to the front door and the street.



CHAPTER XIII


Shirley entered upon her new duties in the Ryder household two
days later. She had returned to her rooms the evening of her
meeting with the financier in a state bordering upon hysteria. The
day's events had been so extraordinary that it seemed to her they
could not be real, and that she must be in a dream. The car ride
to Seventy-fourth Street, the interview in the library, the
discovery of her father's letters, the offer to write the
biography, and, what to her was still more important, the
invitation to go and live in the Ryder home--all these incidents
were so remarkable and unusual that it was only with difficulty
that the girl persuaded herself that they were not figments of a
disordered brain.

But it was all true enough. The next morning's mail brought a
letter from Mrs. Ryder, who wrote to the effect that Mr. Ryder
would like the work to begin at once, and adding that a suite of
rooms would be ready for her the following afternoon. Shirley did
not hesitate. Everything was to be gained by making the Ryder
residence her headquarters, her father's very life depended upon
the successful outcome of her present mission, and this unhoped
for opportunity practically ensured success. She immediately wrote
to Massapequa. One letter was to her mother, saying that she was
extending her visit beyond the time originally planned. The other
letter was to Stott. She told him all about the interview with
Ryder, informed him of the discovery of the letters, and after
explaining the nature of the work offered to her, said that her
address for the next few weeks would be in care of John Burkett
Ryder. All was going better than she had dared to hope. Everything
seemed to favour their plan. Her first step, of course, while in
the Ryder home, would be to secure possession of her father's
letters, and these she would dispatch at once to Massapequa, so
they could be laid before the Senate without delay.

So, after settling accounts with her landlady and packing up her few
belongings, Shirley lost no time in transferring herself to the more
luxurious quarters provided for her in the ten-million-dollar mansion
uptown.

At the Ryder house she was received cordially and with every mark
of consideration. The housekeeper came down to the main hall to
greet her when she arrived and escorted her to the suite of rooms,
comprising a small working library, a bedroom simply but daintily
furnished in pink and white and a private bathroom, which had been
specially prepared for her convenience and comfort, and here
presently she was joined by Mrs. Ryder.

"Dear me," exclaimed the financier's wife, staring curiously at
Shirley, "what a young girl you are to have made such a stir with
a book! How did you do it? I'm sure I couldn't. It's as much as I
can do to write a letter, and half the time that's not legible."

"Oh, it wasn't so hard," laughed Shirley. "It was the subject that
appealed rather than any special skill of mine. The trusts and
their misdeeds are the favourite topics of the hour. The whole
country is talking about nothing else. My book came at the right
time, that's all."

Although "The American Octopus" was a direct attack on her own
husband, Mrs. Ryder secretly admired this young woman, who had
dared to speak a few blunt truths. It was a courage which, alas!
she had always lacked herself, but there was a certain satisfaction
in knowing there were women in the world not entirely cowed by the
tyrant Man.

"I have always wanted a daughter," went on Mrs. Ryder, becoming
confidential, while Shirley removed her things and made herself at
home; "girls of your age are so companionable." Then, abruptly,
she asked: "Do your parents live in New York?"

Shirley's face flushed and she stooped over her trunk to hide her
embarrassment.

"No--not at present," she answered evasively. "My mother and
father are in the country."

She was afraid that more questions of a personal nature would
follow, but apparently Mrs. Ryder was not in an inquisitive mood,
for she asked nothing further. She only said:

"I have a son, but I don't see much of him. You must meet my
Jefferson. He is such a nice boy."

Shirley tried to look unconcerned as she replied:

"I met him yesterday. Mr. Ryder introduced him to me."

"Poor lad, he has his troubles too," went on Mrs. Ryder. "He's in
love with a girl, but his father wants him to marry someone else.
They're quarrelling over it all the time."

"Parents shouldn't interfere in matters of the heart," said
Shirley decisively. "What is more serious than the choosing of a
life companion, and who are better entitled to make a free
selection than they who are going to spend the rest of their days
together? Of course, it is a father's duty to give his son the
benefit of his riper experience, but to insist on a marriage based
only on business interests is little less than a crime. There are
considerations more important if the union is to be a happy or a
lasting one. The chief thing is that the man should feel real
attachment for the woman he marries. Two people who are to live
together as man and wife must be compatible in tastes and temper.
You cannot mix oil and water. It is these selfish marriages which
keep our divorce courts busy. Money alone won't buy happiness in
marriage."

"No," sighed Mrs. Ryder, "no one knows that better than I."

The financier's wife was already most favourably impressed with
her guest, and she chatted on as if she had known Shirley for
years. It was rarely that she had heard so young a woman express
such common-sense views, and the more she talked with her the less
surprised she was that she was the author of a much-discussed
book. Finally, thinking that Shirley might prefer to be alone, she
rose to go, bidding her make herself thoroughly at home and to
ring for anything she might wish. A maid had been assigned to look
exclusively after her wants, and she could have her meals served
in her room or else have them with the family as she liked. But
Shirley, not caring to encounter Mr. Ryder's cold, searching stare
more often than necessary, said she would prefer to take her meals
alone.

Left to herself, Shirley settled down to work in earnest. Mr.
Ryder had sent to her room all the material for the biography, and
soon she was completely absorbed in the task of sorting and
arranging letters, making extracts from records, compiling data,
etc., laying the foundations for the important book she was to
write. She wondered what they would call it, and she smiled as a
peculiarly appropriate title flashed through her mind--"The
History of a Crime." Yet she thought they could hardly infringe on
Victor Hugo; perhaps the best title was the simplest "The History
of the Empire Trading Company." Everyone would understand that it
told the story of John Burkett Ryder's remarkable career from his
earliest beginnings to the present time. She worked feverishly all
that evening getting the material into shape, and the following
day found her early at her desk. No one disturbed her and she
wrote steadily on until noon, Mrs. Ryder only once putting her
head in the door to wish her good morning.

After luncheon, Shirley decided that the weather was too glorious
to remain indoors. Her health must not be jeopardized even to
advance the interests of the Colossus, so she put on her hat and
left the house to go for a walk. The air smelled sweet to her
after being confined so long indoor, and she walked with a more
elastic and buoyant step than she had since her return home.
Turning down Fifth Avenue, she entered the park at Seventy-second
Street, following the pathway until she came to the bend in the
driveway opposite the Casino. The park was almost deserted at that
hour, and there was a delightful sense of solitude and a sweet
scent of new-mown hay from the freshly cut lawns. She found an
empty bench, well shaded by an overspreading tree, and she sat
down, grateful for the rest and quiet.

She wondered what Jefferson thought of her action in coming to his
father's house practically in disguise and under an assumed name.
She must see him at once, for in him lay her hope of obtaining
possession of the letters. Certainly she felt no delicacy or
compunction in asking Jefferson to do her this service. The
letters belonged to her father and they were being wrongfully
withheld with the deliberate purpose of doing him an injury. She
had a moral if not a legal right to recover the letters in any way
that she could.

She was so deeply engrossed in her thoughts that she had not
noticed a hansom cab which suddenly drew up with a jerk at the
curb opposite her bench. A man jumped out. It was Jefferson.

"Hello, Shirley," he cried gaily; "who would have expected to find
you rusticating on a bench here? I pictured you grinding away at
home doing literary stunts for the governor." He grinned and then
added: "Come for a drive. I want to talk to you."

Shirley demurred. No, she could not spare the time. Yet, she
thought to herself, why was not this a good opportunity to explain
to Jefferson how he came to find her in his father's library
masquerading under another name, and also to ask him to secure the
letters for her? While she pondered Jefferson insisted, and a few
minutes later she found herself sitting beside him in the cab.
They started off at a brisk pace, Shirley sitting with her head
back, enjoying the strong breeze caused by the rapid motion.

"Now tell me," he said, "what does it all mean? I was so startled
at seeing you in the library the other day that I almost betrayed
you. How did you come to call on father?"

Briefly Shirley explained everything. She told him how Mr. Ryder
had written to her asking her to call and see him, and how she had
eagerly seized at this last straw in the hope of helping her
father. She told him about the letters, explaining how necessary
they were for her father's defence and how she had discovered
them. Mr. Ryder, she said, had seemed to take a fancy to her and
had asked her to remain in the house as his guest while she was
compiling his biography, and she had accepted the offer, not so
much for the amount of money involved as for the splendid
opportunity it afforded her to gain possession of the letters.

"So that is the mysterious work you spoke of--to get those
letters?" said Jefferson.

"Yes, that is my mission. It was a secret. I couldn't tell you; I
couldn't tell anyone. Only Judge Stott knows. He is aware I have
found them and is hourly expecting to receive them from me. And
now," she said, "I want your help."

His only answer was to grasp tighter the hand she had laid in his.
She knew that she would not have to explain the nature of the
service she wanted. He understood.

"Where are the letters?" he demanded.

"In the left-hand drawer of your father's desk," she answered.

He was silent for a few moments, and then he said simply:

"I will get them."

The cab by this time had got as far as Claremont, and from the
hill summit they had a splendid view of the broad sweep of the
majestic Hudson and the towering walls of the blue palisades. The
day was so beautiful and the air so invigorating that Jefferson
suggested a ramble along the banks of the river. They could leave
the cab at Claremont and drive back to the city later. Shirley was
too grateful to him for his promise of coöperation to make any
further opposition, and soon they were far away from beaten
highways, down on the banks of the historic stream, picking
flowers and laughing merrily like two truant children bent on a
self-made holiday. The place they had reached was just outside the
northern boundaries of Harlem, a sylvan spot still unspoiled by
the rude invasion of the flat-house builder. The land, thickly
wooded, sloped down sharply to the water, and the perfect quiet
was broken only by the washing of the tiny surf against the river
bank and the shrill notes of the birds in the trees.

Although it was late in October the day was warm, and Shirley soon
tired of climbing over bramble-entangled verdure. The rich grass
underfoot looked cool and inviting, and the natural slope of the
ground affording an ideal resting-place, she sat there, with
Jefferson stretched out at her feet, both watching idly the
dancing waters of the broad Hudson, spangled with gleams of light,
as they swept swiftly by on their journey to the sea.

"Shirley," said Jefferson suddenly, "I suppose you saw that
ridiculous story about my alleged engagement to Miss Roberts. I
hope you understood that it was done without my consent."

"If I did not guess it, Jeff," she answered, "your assurance would
be sufficient. Besides," she added, "what right have I to object?"

"But I want you to have the right," he replied earnestly. "I'm
going to stop this Roberts nonsense in a way my father hardly
anticipates. I'm just waiting a chance to talk to him. I'll show
him the absurdity of announcing me engaged to a girl who is about
to elope with his private secretary!"

"Elope with the secretary?" exclaimed Shirley.

Jefferson told her all about the letter he had found on the
staircase, and the Hon. Fitzroy Bagley's plans for a runaway
marriage with the senator's wealthy daughter.

"It's a godsend to me," he said gleefully. "Their plan is to get
married next Wednesday. I'll see my father on Tuesday; I'll put
the evidence in his hands, and I don't think," he added grimly,
"he'll bother me any more about Miss Roberts."

"So you're not going away now?" said Shirley, smiling down at him.

He sat up and leaned over towards her.

"I can't, Shirley, I simply can't," he replied, his voice
trembling. "You are more to me than I dreamed a woman could ever
be. I realize it more forcibly every day. There is no use fighting
against it. Without you, my work, my life means nothing."

Shirley shook her head and averted her eyes.

"Don't let us speak of that, Jeff," she pleaded gently. "I told
you I did not belong to myself while my father was in peril."

"But I must speak of it," he interrupted. "Shirley, you do
yourself an injustice as well as me. You are not indifferent to
me--I feel that. Then why raise this barrier between us?"

A soft light stole into the girl's eyes. Ah, it was good to feel
there was someone to whom she was everything in the world!

"Don't ask me to betray my trust, Jeff," she faltered. "You know I
am not indifferent to you--far from it. But I--"

He came closer until his face nearly touched hers.

"I love you--I want you," he murmured feverishly. "Give me the
right to claim you before all the world as my future wife!"

Every note of his rich, manly voice, vibrating with impetuous
passion, sounded in Shirley's ear like a soft caress. She closed
her eyes. A strange feeling of languor was stealing over her, a
mysterious thrill passed through her whole body. The eternal,
inevitable sex instinct was disturbing, for the first time, a
woman whose life had been singularly free from such influences,
putting to flight all the calculations and resolves her cooler
judgment had made. The sensuous charm of the place--the distant
splash of the water, the singing of the birds, the fragrance of
the trees and grass--all these symbols of the joy of life
conspired to arouse the love-hunger of the woman. Why, after all,
should she not know happiness like other women? She had a sacred
duty to perform, it was true; but would it be less well done
because she declined to stifle the natural leanings of her
womanhood? Both her soul and her body called out: "Let this man
love you, give yourself to him, he is worthy of your love."

Half unconsciously, she listened to his ardent wooing, her eyes
shut, as he spoke quickly, passionately, his breath warm upon her
cheek:

"Shirley, I offer you all the devotion a man can give a woman. Say
the one word that will make me the happiest or the most wretched
of men. Yes or no! Only think well before you wreck my life. I
love you--I love you! I will wait for you if need be until the
crack of doom. Say--say you will be my wife!"

She opened her eyes. His face was bent close over hers. Their lips
almost touched.

"Yes, Jefferson," she murmured, "I do love you!"

His lips met hers in a long, passionate kiss. Her eyes closed and
an ecstatic thrill seemed to convulse her entire being. The birds
in the trees overhead sang in more joyful chorus in celebration of
the betrothal.



CHAPTER XIV


It was nearly seven o'clock when Shirley got back to
Seventy-fourth Street. No one saw her come in, and she went direct
to her room, and after a hasty dinner, worked until late into the
night on her book to make up for lost time. The events of the
afternoon caused her considerable uneasiness. She reproached
herself for her weakness and for having yielded so readily to the
impulse of the moment. She had said only what was the truth when
she admitted she loved Jefferson, but what right had she to
dispose of her future while her father's fate was still uncertain?
Her conscience troubled her, and when she came to reason it out
calmly, the more impossible seemed their union from every point of
view. How could she become the daughter-in-law of the man who had
ruined her own father? The idea was preposterous, and hard as the
sacrifice would be, Jefferson must be made to see it in that
light. Their engagement was the greatest folly; it bound each of
them when nothing but unhappiness could possibly come of it. She
was sure now that she loved Jefferson. It would be hard to give
him up, but there are times and circumstances when duty and
principle must prevail over all other considerations, and this she
felt was one of them.

The following morning she received a letter from Stott. He was
delighted to hear the good news regarding her important discovery,
and he urged her to lose no time in securing the letters and
forwarding them to Massapequa, when he would immediately go to
Washington and lay them before the Senate. Documentary evidence of
that conclusive nature, he went on to say, would prove of the very
highest value in clearing her father's name. He added that the
judge and her mother were as well as circumstances would permit,
and that they were not in the least worried about her protracted
absence. Her Aunt Milly had already returned to Europe, and
Eudoxia was still threatening to leave daily.

Shirley needed no urging. She quite realized the importance of
acting quickly, but it was not easy to get at the letters. The
library was usually kept locked when the great man was away, and
on the few occasions when access to it was possible, the lynx-eyed
Mr. Bagley was always on guard. Short as had been her stay in the
Ryder household, Shirley already shared Jefferson's antipathy to
the English secretary, whose manner grew more supercilious and
overbearing as he drew nearer the date when he expected to run off
with one of the richest catches of the season. He had not sought
the acquaintance of his employer's biographer since her arrival,
and, with the exception of a rude stare, had not deigned to notice
her, which attitude of haughty indifference was all the more
remarkable in view of the fact that the Hon. Fitzroy usually left
nothing unturned to cultivate a flirtatious intimacy with every
attractive female he met. The truth was that what with Mr. Ryder's
demands upon his services and his own preparations for his coming
matrimonial venture, in which he had so much at stake, he had
neither time nor inclination to indulge his customary amorous
diversions.

Miss Roberts had called at the house several times, ostensibly to see
Mrs. Ryder, and when introduced to Shirley she had condescended to
give the latter a supercilious nod. Her conversation was generally
of the silly, vacuous sort, concerning chiefly new dresses or bonnets,
and Shirley at once read her character--frivolous, amusement-loving,
empty-headed, irresponsible--just the kind of girl to do something
foolish without weighing the consequences. After chatting a few
moments with Mrs. Ryder she would usually vanish, and one day,
after one of these mysterious disappearances, Shirley happened to
pass the library and caught sight of her and Mr. Bagley conversing
in subdued and eager tones. It was very evident that the elopement
scheme was fast maturing. If the scandal was to be prevented,
Jefferson ought to see his father and acquaint him with the facts
without delay. It was probable that at the same time he would make
an effort to secure the letters. Meantime she must be patient.
Too much hurry might spoil everything.

So the days passed, Shirley devoting almost all her time to the
history she had undertaken. She saw nothing of Ryder, Sr., but a
good deal of his wife, to whom she soon became much attached. She
found her an amiable, good-natured woman, entirely free from that
offensive arrogance and patronizing condescension which usually
marks the parvenue as distinct from the thoroughbred. Mrs. Ryder
had no claims to distinguished lineage; on the contrary, she was
the daughter of a country grocer when the then rising oil man
married her, and of educational advantages she had had little or
none. It was purely by accident that she was the wife of the
richest man in the world, and while she enjoyed the prestige her
husband's prominence gave her, she never allowed it to turn her
head. She gave away large sums for charitable purposes and,
strange to say, when the gift came direct from her, the money was
never returned on the plea that it was "tainted." She shared her
husband's dislike for entertaining, and led practically the life
of a recluse. The advent of Shirley, therefore, into her quiet and
uneventful existence was as welcome as sunshine when it breaks
through the clouds after days of gloom. Quite a friendship sprang
up between the two women, and when tired of writing, Shirley would
go into Mrs. Ryder's room and chat until the financier's wife
began to look forward to these little impromptu visits, so much
she enjoyed them.

Nothing more had been said concerning Jefferson and Miss Roberts.
The young man had not yet seen his father, but his mother knew he
was only waiting an opportunity to demand an explanation of the
engagement announcements. Her husband, on the other hand, desired
the match more than ever, owing to the continued importunities of
Senator Roberts. As usual, Mrs. Ryder confided these little
domestic troubles to Shirley.

"Jefferson," she said, "is very angry. He is determined not to
marry the girl, and when he and his father do meet there'll be
another scene."

"What objection has your son to Miss Roberts?" inquired Shirley
innocently.

"Oh, the usual reason," sighed the mother, "and I've no doubt he
knows best. He's in love with another girl--a Miss Rossmore."

"Oh, yes," answered Shirley simply. "Mr. Ryder spoke of her."

Mrs. Ryder was silent, and presently she left the girl alone with
her work.

The next afternoon Shirley was in her room busy writing when there
came a tap at her door. Thinking it was another visit from Mrs.
Ryder, she did not look up, but cried out pleasantly:

"Come in."

John Ryder entered. He smiled cordially and, as if apologizing for
the intrusion, said amiably:

"I thought I'd run up to see how you were getting along."

His coming was so unexpected that for a moment Shirley was
startled, but she quickly regained her composure and asked him to
take a seat. He seemed pleased to find her making such good
progress, and he stopped to answer a number of questions she put
to him. Shirley tried to be cordial, but when she looked well at
him and noted the keen, hawk-like eyes, the cruel, vindictive
lines about the mouth, the square-set, relentless jaw--Wall Street
had gone wrong with the Colossus that day and he was still wearing
his war paint--she recalled the wrong this man had done her father
and she felt how bitterly she hated him. The more her mind dwelt
upon it, the more exasperated she was to think she should be
there, a guest, under his roof, and it was only with the greatest
difficulty that she remained civil.

"What is the moral of your life?" she demanded bluntly.

He was quick to note the contemptuous tone in her voice, and he
gave her a keen, searching look as if he were trying to read her
thoughts and fathom the reason for her very evident hostility
towards him.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"I mean, What can you show as your life work? Most men whose lives
are big enough to call for biographies have done something
useful--they have been famous statesmen, eminent scientists,
celebrated authors, great inventors. What have you done?"

The question appeared to stagger him. The audacity of any one
putting such a question to a man in his own house was incredible.
He squared his jaws and his clenched fist descended heavily on the
table.

"What have I done?" he cried. "I have built up the greatest
fortune ever accumulated by one man. My fabulous wealth has caused
my name to spread to the four corners of the earth. Is that not an
achievement to relate to future generations?"

Shirley gave a little shrug of her shoulders.

"Future generations will take no interest in you or your
millions," she said calmly. "Our civilization will have made such
progress by that time that people will merely wonder why we, in
our day, tolerated men of your class so long. Now it is different.
The world is money-mad. You are a person of importance in the eyes
of the unthinking multitude, but it only envies you your fortune;
it does not admire you personally. When you die people will count
your millions, not your good deeds."

He laughed cynically and drew up a chair near her desk. As a
general thing, John Ryder never wasted words on women. He had but
a poor opinion of their mentality, and considered it beneath the
dignity of any man to enter into serious argument with a woman. In
fact, it was seldom he condescended to argue with anyone. He gave
orders and talked to people; he had no patience to be talked to.
Yet he found himself listening with interest to this young woman
who expressed herself so frankly. It was a decided novelty for him
to hear the truth.

    [Photo, from the play, of Mr. Ryder discussing his son
     with Miss Green.]

    "Marry Jefferson yourself."--Act III.

"What do I care what the world says when I'm dead?" he asked with
a forced laugh.

"You do care," replied Shirley gravely. "You may school yourself
to believe that you are indifferent to the good opinion of your
fellow man, but right down in your heart you do care--every man
does, whether he be multi-millionaire or a sneak thief."

"You class the two together, I notice," he said bitterly.

"It is often a distinction without a difference," she rejoined
promptly.

He remained silent for a moment or two toying nervously with a
paper knife. Then, arrogantly, and as if anxious to impress her
with his importance, he said:

"Most men would be satisfied if they had accomplished what I have.
Do you realize that my wealth is so vast that I scarcely know
myself what I am worth? What my fortune will be in another fifty
years staggers the imagination. Yet I started with nothing. I made
it all myself. Surely I should get credit for that."

"_How_ did you make it?" retorted Shirley.

"In America we don't ask how a man makes his money; we ask if he
has got any."

"You are mistaken," replied Shirley earnestly. "America is waking
up. The conscience of the nation is being aroused. We are coming
to realize that the scandals of the last few years were only the
fruit of public indifference to sharp business practice. The
people will soon ask the dishonest rich man where he got it, and
there will have to be an accounting. What account will you be able
to give?"

He bit his lip and looked at her for a moment without replying.
Then, with a faint suspicion of a sneer, he said:

"You are a socialist--perhaps an anarchist!"

"Only the ignorant commit the blunder of confounding the two," she
retorted. "Anarchy is a disease; socialism is a science."

"Indeed!" he exclaimed mockingly, "I thought the terms were
synonymous. The world regards them both as insane."

Herself an enthusiastic convert to the new political faith that
was rising like a flood tide all over the world, the contemptuous
tone in which this plutocrat spoke of the coming reorganization of
society which was destined to destroy him and his kind spurred her
on to renewed argument.

"I imagine," she said sarcastically, "that you would hardly
approve any social reform which threatened to interfere with your
own business methods. But no matter how you disapprove of
socialism on general principles, as a leader of the capitalist
class you should understand what socialism is, and not confuse one
of the most important movements in modern world-history with the
crazy theories of irresponsible cranks. The anarchists are the
natural enemies of the entire human family, and would destroy it
were their dangerous doctrines permitted to prevail; the
socialists, on the contrary, are seeking to save mankind from the
degradation, the crime and the folly into which such men as you
have driven it."

She spoke impetuously, with the inspired exaltation of a prophet
delivering a message to the people. Ryder listened, concealing his
impatience with uneasy little coughs.

"Yes," she went on, "I am a socialist and I am proud of it. The
whole world is slowly drifting toward socialism as the only remedy
for the actual intolerable conditions. It may not come in our
time, but it will come as surely as the sun will rise and set
tomorrow. Has not the flag of socialism waved recently from the
White House? Has not a President of the United States declared
that the State must eventually curb the great fortunes? What is
that but socialism?"

"True," retorted Ryder grimly, "and that little speech intended
for the benefit of the gallery will cost him the nomination at the
next Presidential election. We don't want in the White House a
President who stirs up class hatred. Our rich men have a right to
what is their own; that is guaranteed them by the Constitution."

"Is it their own?" interrupted Shirley.

Ryder ignored the insinuation and proceeded:

"What of our boasted free institutions if a man is to be
restricted in what he may and may not do? If I am clever enough to
accumulate millions who can stop me?"

"The people will stop you," said Shirley calmly. "It is only a
question of time. Their patience is about exhausted. Put your ear
to the ground and listen to the distant rumbling of the tempest
which, sooner or later, will be unchained in this land, provoked
by the iniquitous practices of organized capital. The people have
had enough of the extortions of the Trusts. One day they will rise
in their wrath and seize by the throat this knavish plutocracy
which, confident in the power of its wealth to procure legal
immunity and reckless of its danger, persists in robbing the
public daily. But retribution is at hand. The growing discontent
of the proletariat, the ever-increasing strikes and labour
disputes of all kinds, the clamour against the Railroads and the
Trusts, the evidence of collusion between both--all this is the
writing on the wall. The capitalistic system is doomed; socialism
will succeed it."

"What is socialism?" he demanded scornfully. "What will it give
the public that it has not got already?"

Shirley, who never neglected an opportunity to make a convert,
no matter how hardened he might be, picked up a little pamphlet
printed for propaganda purposes which she had that morning
received by mail.

"Here," she said, "is one of the best and clearest definitions of
socialism I have ever read:

"Socialism is common ownership of natural resources and public
utilities, and the common operation of all industries for the
general good. Socialism is opposed to monopoly, that is, to
private ownership of land and the instruments of labor, which
is indirect ownership of men; to the wages system, by which
labor is legally robbed of a large part of the product of
labor; to competition with its enormous waste of effort and
its opportunities for the spoliation of the weak by the strong.
Socialism is industrial democracy. It is the government of the
people by the people and for the people, not in the present
restricted sense, but as regards all the common interests of men.
Socialism is opposed to oligarchy and monarchy, and therefore to
the tyrannies of business cliques and money kings. Socialism is
for freedom, not only from the fear of force, but from the fear
of want. Socialism proposes real liberty, not merely the right
to vote, but the liberty to live for something more than meat
and drink.

"Socialism is righteousness in the relations of men. It is based
on the fundamentals of religion, the Fatherhood of God and the
Brotherhood of men. It seeks through association and equality to
realize fraternity. Socialism will destroy the motives which make
for cheap manufacturers, poor workmanship and adulterations; it
will secure the real utility of things. Use, not exchange, will
be the object of labour. Things will be made to serve, not to
sell. Socialism will banish war, for private ownership is back of
strife between men. Socialism will purify politics, for private
capitalism is the great source of political corruption. Socialism
will make for education, invention and discovery; it will
stimulate the moral development of men. Crime will have lost most
of its motive and pauperism will have no excuse. That," said
Shirley, as she concluded, "is socialism!"

Ryder shrugged his shoulders and rose to go.

"Delightful," he said ironically, "but in my judgment wholly
Utopian and impracticable. It's nothing but a gigantic pipe dream.
It won't come in this generation nor in ten generations if,
indeed, it is ever taken seriously by a majority big enough to put
its theories to the test. Socialism does not take into account two
great factors that move the world--men's passions and human
ambition. If you eliminate ambition you remove the strongest
incentive to individual effort. From your own account a
socialistic world would be a dreadfully tame place to live
in--everybody depressingly good, without any of the feverish
turmoil of life as we know it. Such a world would not appeal to me
at all. I love the fray--the daily battle of gain and loss, the
excitement of making or losing millions. That is my life!"

"Yet what good is your money to you?" insisted Shirley. "You are
able to spend only an infinitesimal part of it. You cannot even
give it away, for nobody will have any of it."

"Money!" he hissed rather than spoke, "I hate money. It means
nothing to me. I have so much that I have lost all idea of its
value. I go on accumulating it for only one purpose. It buys
power. I love power--that is my passion, my ambition, to rule the
world with my gold. Do you know," he went on and leaning over the
desk in a dramatic attitude, "that if I chose I could start a
panic in Wall Street to-morrow that would shake to their
foundations every financial institution in the country? Do you
know that I practically control the Congress of the United States
and that no legislative measure becomes law unless it has my
approval?"

"The public has long suspected as much," replied Shirley. "That is
why you are looked upon as a menace to the stability and honesty
of our political and commercial life."

An angry answer rose to his lips when the door opened and Mrs.
Ryder entered.

"I've been looking for you, John," she said peevishly. "Mr. Bagley
told me you were somewhere in the house. Senator Roberts is
downstairs."

"He's come about Jefferson and his daughter, I suppose," muttered
Ryder. "Well, I'll see him. Where is he?"

"In the library. Kate came with him. She's in my room."

They left Shirley to her writing, and when he had closed the door
the financier turned to his wife and said impatiently:

"Now, what are we going to do about Jefferson and Kate? The
senator insists on the matter of their marriage being settled one
way or another. Where is Jefferson?"

"He came in about half an hour ago. He was upstairs to see me, and
I thought he was looking for you," answered the wife.

"Well," replied Ryder determinedly, "he and I have got to
understand each other. This can't go on. It shan't."

Mrs. Ryder put her hand on his arm, and said pleadingly:

"Don't be impatient with the boy, John. Remember he is all we
have. He is so unhappy. He wants to please us, but--"

"But he insists on pleasing himself," said Ryder completing the
sentence.

"I'm afraid, John, that his liking for that Miss Rossmore is more
serious than you realize--"

The financier stamped his foot and replied angrily:

"Miss Rossmore! That name seems to confront me at every turn--for
years the father, now the daughter! I'm sorry, my dear," he went
on more calmly, "that you seem inclined to listen to Jefferson. It
only encourages him in his attitude towards me. Kate would make
him an excellent wife, while what do we know about the other
woman? Are you willing to sacrifice your son's future to a mere
boyish whim?"

Mrs. Ryder sighed.

"It's very hard," she said, "for a mother to know what to advise.
Miss Green says--"

"What!" exclaimed her husband, "you have consulted Miss Green on
the subject?"

"Yes," answered his wife, "I don't know how I came to tell her,
but I did. I seem to tell her everything. I find her such a
comfort, John. I haven't had an attack of nerves since that girl
has been in the house."

"She is certainly a superior woman," admitted Ryder. "I wish she'd
ward that Rossmore girl off. I wish she--" He stopped abruptly as
if not venturing to give expression to his thoughts, even to his
wife. Then he said: "If she were Kate Roberts she wouldn't let
Jeff slip through her fingers."

"I have often wished," went on Mrs. Ryder, "that Kate were more
like Shirley Green. I don't think we would have any difficulty
with Jeff then."

"Kate is the daughter of Senator Roberts, and if this marriage is
broken off in any way without the senator's consent, he is in a
position to injure my interests materially. If you see Jefferson
send him to me in the library. I'll go and keep Roberts in good
humour until he comes."

He went downstairs and Mrs. Ryder proceeded to her apartments,
where she found Jefferson chatting with Kate. She at once
delivered Ryder Sr.'s message.

"Jeff, your father wants to see you in the library."

"Yes, I want to see him," answered the young man grimly, and after
a few moments more badinage with Kate he left the room.

It was not a mere coincidence that had brought Senator Roberts and
his daughter and the financier's son all together under the Ryder
roof at the same time. It was part of Jefferson's well-prepared
plan to expose the rascality of his father's secretary, and at the
same time rid himself of the embarrassing entanglement with Kate
Roberts. If the senator were confronted publicly with the fact
that his daughter, while keeping up the fiction of being engaged
to Ryder Jr., was really preparing to run off with the Hon.
Fitzroy Bagley, he would have no alternative but to retire
gracefully under fire and relinquish all idea of a marriage
alliance with the house of Ryder. The critical moment had arrived.
To-morrow, Wednesday, was the day fixed for the elopement. The
secretary's little game had gone far enough. The time had come for
action. So Jefferson had written to Senator Roberts, who was in
Washington, asking him if it would be convenient for him to come
at once to New York and meet himself and his father on a matter of
importance. The senator naturally jumped to the conclusion that
Jefferson and Ryder had reached an amicable understanding, and he
immediately hurried to New York and with his daughter came round
to Seventy-fourth Street.

When Ryder Sr. entered the library, Senator Roberts was striding
nervously up and down the room. This, he felt, was an important
day. The ambition of his life seemed on the point of being
attained.

"Hello, Roberts," was Ryder's cheerful greeting. "What's brought
you from Washington at a critical time like this? The Rossmore
impeachment needs every friend we have."

"Just as if you didn't know," smiled the senator uneasily, "that I
am here by appointment to meet you and your son!"

"To meet me and my son?" echoed Ryder astonished.

The senator, perplexed and beginning to feel real alarm, showed
the financier Jefferson's letter. Ryder read it and he looked
pleased.

"That's all right," he said, "if the lad asked you to meet us here
it can mean only one thing--that at last he has made up his mind
to this marriage."

"That's what I thought," replied the senator, breathing more
freely. "I was sorry to leave Washington at such a time, but I'm a
father, and Kate is more to me than the Rossmore impeachment.
Besides, to see her married to your son Jefferson is one of the
dearest wishes of my life."

"You can rest easy," said Ryder; "that is practically settled.
Jefferson's sending for you proves that he is now ready to meet my
wishes. He'll be here any minute. How is the Rossmore case
progressing?"

"Not so well as it might," growled the senator. "There's a lot of
maudlin sympathy for the judge. He's a pretty sick man by all
accounts, and the newspapers seem to be taking his part. One or
two of the Western senators are talking Corporate influence and
Trust legislation, but when it comes to a vote the matter will be
settled on party lines."

"That means that Judge Rossmore will be removed?" demanded Ryder
sternly.

"Yes, with five votes to spare," answered the senator.

"That's not enough," insisted Ryder. "There must be at least
twenty. Let there be no blunders, Roberts. The man is a menace to
all the big commercial interests. This thing must go through."

The door opened and Jefferson appeared. On seeing the senator
talking with his father, he hesitated on the threshold.

"Come in, Jeff," said his father pleasantly. "You expected to see
Senator Roberts, didn't you?"

"Yes, sir. How do you do, Senator?" said the young man, advancing
into the room.

"I got your letter, my boy, and here I am," said the senator
smiling affably. "I suppose we can guess what the business is,
eh?"

"That he's going to marry Kate, of course," chimed in Ryder Sr.
"Jeff, my lad, I'm glad you are beginning to see my way of looking
at things. You're doing more to please me lately, and I appreciate
it. You stayed at home when I asked you to, and now you've made up
your mind regarding this marriage."

Jefferson let his father finish his speech, and then he said
calmly:

"I think there must be some misapprehension as to the reason for
my summoning Senator Roberts to New York. It had nothing to do
with my marrying Miss Roberts, but to prevent her marriage with
someone else."

"What!" exclaimed Ryder, Sr.

"Marriage with someone else?" echoed the senator. He thought he
had not heard aright, yet at the same time he had grave
misgivings. "What do you mean, sir?"

Taking from his pocket a copy of the letter he had picked up on
the staircase, Jefferson held it out to the girl's father.

"Your daughter is preparing to run away with my father's
secretary. To-morrow would have been too late. That is why I
summoned you. Read this."

The senator took the letter, and as he read his face grew ashen
and his hand trembled violently. At one blow all his ambitious
projects for his daughter had been swept away. The inconsiderate
act of a silly, thoughtless girl had spoiled the carefully laid
plans of a lifetime. The only consolation which remained was that
the calamity might have been still more serious. This timely
warning had saved his family from perhaps an even greater scandal.
He passed the letter in silence to Ryder, Sr.

The financier was a man of few words when the situation called for
prompt action. After he had read the letter through, there was an
ominous silence. Then he rang a bell. The butler appeared.

"Tell Mr. Bagley I want him."

The man bowed and disappeared.

"Who the devil is this Bagley?" demanded the senator.

"English--blue blood--no money," was Ryder's laconic answer.

"That's the only kind we seem to get over here," growled the
senator. "We furnish the money--they furnish the blood--damn his
blue blood! I don't want any in mine." Turning to Jefferson, he
said: "Jefferson, whatever the motives that actuated you, I can
only thank you for this warning. I think it would have broken my
heart if my girl had gone away with that scoundrel. Of course,
under the circumstances, I must abandon all idea of your becoming
my son-in-law. I release you from all obligations you may have
felt yourself bound by."

Jefferson bowed and remained silent.

Ryder, Sr. eyed his son closely, an amused expression hovering on
his face. After all, it was not so much he who had desired this
match as Roberts, and as long as the senator was willing to
withdraw, he could make no objection. He wondered what part, if
any, his son had played in bringing about this sensational
denouement to a match which had been so distasteful to him, and it
gratified his paternal vanity to think that Jefferson after all
might be smarter than he had given him credit for.

At this juncture Mr. Bagley entered the room. He was a little
taken aback on seeing the senator, but like most men of his class,
his self-conceit made him confident of his ability to handle any
emergency which might arise, and he had no reason to suspect that
this hasty summons to the library had anything to do with his
matrimonial plans.

"Did you ask for me, sir?" he demanded, addressing his employer.

"Yes, Mr. Bagley," replied Ryder, fixing the secretary with a look
that filled the latter with misgivings. "What steamers leave
to-morrow for England?"

"To-morrow?" echoed Mr. Bagley.

"I said to-morrow," repeated Ryder, slightly raising his voice.

"Let me see," stammered the secretary, "there is the White Star,
the North German Lloyd, the Atlantic Transport--"

"Have you any preference?" inquired the financier.

"No, sir, none at all."

"Then you'll go on board one of the ships to-night," said Ryder.
"Your things will be packed and sent to you before the steamer
sails to-morrow."

The Hon. Fitzroy Bagley, third son of a British peer, did not
understand even yet that he was discharged as one dismisses a
housemaid caught kissing the policeman. He could not think what
Mr. Ryder wanted him to go abroad for unless it were on some
matter of business, and it was decidedly inconvenient for him to
sail at this time.

"But, sir," he stammered. "I'm afraid--I'm afraid--"

"Yes," rejoined Ryder promptly, "I notice that--your hand is
shaking."

"I mean that I--"

"You mean that you have other engagements!" said Ryder sternly.

"Oh no--no but--"

"No engagement at eleven o'clock tomorrow morning?" insisted
Ryder.

"With my daughter?" chimed in the senator.

Mr. Bagley now understood. He broke out in a cold perspiration and
he paled visibly. In the hope that the full extent of his plans
were not known, he attempted to brazen it out.

"No, certainly not, under no circumstances," he said.

Ryder, Sr. rang a bell.

"Perhaps she has an engagement with you. We'll ask her." To the
butler, who entered, he said: "Tell Miss Roberts that her father
would like to see her here."

The man disappeared and the senator took a hand in cross-examining
the now thoroughly uncomfortable secretary.

"So you thought my daughter looked pale and that a little
excursion to Buffalo would be a good thing for her? Well, it won't
be a good thing for you, young man, I can assure you of that!"

The English aristocrat began to wilt. His assurance of manner
quite deserted him and he stammered painfully as he floundered
about in excuses.

"Not with me--oh dear, no," he said.

"You never proposed to run away with my daughter?" cried the irate
father.

"Run away with her?" stammered Bagley.

"And marry her?" shouted the senator, shaking his fist at him.

"Oh say--this is hardly fair--three against one--really--I'm
awfully sorry, eh, what?"

The door opened and Kate Roberts bounced in. She was smiling and
full of animal spirits, but on seeing the stern face of her father
and the pitiable picture presented by her faithful Fitz she was
intelligent enough to immediately scent danger.

"Did you want to see me, father?" she inquired boldly.

"Yes, Kate," answered the senator gravely, "we have just been
having a talk with Mr. Bagley, in which you were one of the
subjects of conversation. Can you guess what it was?"

The girl looked from her father to Bagley and from him to the
Ryders. Her aristocratic lover made a movement forward as if to
exculpate himself, but he caught Ryder's eye and remained where he
was.

"Well?" she said, with a nervous laugh.

"Is it true" asked the senator, "that you were about to marry this
man secretly?"

She cast down her eyes and answered:

"I suppose you know everything."

"Have you anything to add?" asked her father sternly.

"No," said Kate shaking her head. "It's true. We intended to run
away, didn't we Fitz?"

"Never mind about Mr. Bagley," thundered her father. "Haven't you
a word of shame for this disgrace you have brought upon me?"

"Oh papa, don't be so cross. Jefferson did not care for me. I
couldn't be an old maid. Mr. Bagley has a lovely castle in
England, and one day he'll sit in the House of Lords. He'll
explain everything to you."

"He'll explain nothing," rejoined the senator grimly. "Mr. Bagley
returns to England to-night. He won't have time to explain
anything."

"Returns to England?" echoed Kate dismayed.

"Yes, and you go with me to Washington at once."

The senator turned to Ryder.

"Good-bye Ryder. The little domestic comedy is ended. I'm grateful
it didn't turn out a drama. The next time I pick out a son-in-law
I hope I'll have better luck."

He shook hands with Jefferson, and left the room followed by his
crestfallen daughter.

Ryder, who had gone to write something at his desk, strode over to
where Mr. Bagley was standing and handed him a cheque.

"Here, sir, this settles everything to date. Good-day."

"But I--I--" stammered the secretary helplessly.

"Good-day, sir."

Ryder turned his back on him and conversed with, his son, while
Mr. Bagley slowly, and as if regretfully, made his exit.



CHAPTER XV


It was now December and the Senate had been in session for over a
week. Jefferson had not forgotten his promise, and one day, about
two weeks after Mr. Bagley's spectacular dismissal from the Ryder
residence, he had brought Shirley the two letters. She did not ask
him how he got them, if he forced the drawer or procured the key.
It sufficed for her that the precious letters--the absolute proof
of her father's innocence--were at last in her possession. She at
once sent them off by registered mail to Stott, who immediately
acknowledged receipt and at the same time announced his departure
for Washington that night. He promised to keep her constantly
informed of what he was doing and how her father's case was going.
It could, he thought, be only a matter of a few days now before
the result of the proceedings would be known.

The approach of the crisis made Shirley exceedingly nervous, and
it was only by the exercise of the greatest self-control that she
did not betray the terrible anxiety she felt. The Ryder biography
was nearly finished and her stay in Seventy-fourth Street would
soon come to an end. She had a serious talk with Jefferson, who
contrived to see a good deal of her, entirely unsuspected by his
parents, for Mr. and Mrs. Ryder had no reason to believe that
their son had any more than a mere bowing acquaintance with the
clever young authoress. Now that Mr. Bagley was no longer there to
spy upon their actions these clandestine interviews had been
comparatively easy. Shirley brought to bear all the arguments she
could think of to convince Jefferson of the hopelessness of their
engagement. She insisted that she could never be his wife;
circumstances over which they had no control made that dream
impossible. It were better, she said, to part now rather than
incur the risk of being unhappy later. But Jefferson refused to be
convinced. He argued and pleaded and he even swore--strange,
desperate words that Shirley had never heard before and which
alarmed her not a little--and the discussion ended usually by a
kiss which put Shirley completely _hors de combat_.

Meantime, John Ryder had not ceased worrying about his son. The
removal of Kate Roberts as a factor in his future had not
eliminated the danger of Jefferson taking the bit between his
teeth one day and contracting a secret marriage with the daughter
of his enemy, and when he thought of the mere possibility of such
a thing happening he stormed and raved until his wife, accustomed
as she was to his choleric outbursts, was thoroughly frightened.
For some time after Bagley's departure, father and son got along
together fairly amicably, but Ryder, Sr. was quick to see that
Jefferson had something on his mind which was worrying him, and he
rightly attributed it to his infatuation for Miss Rossmore. He was
convinced that his son knew where the judge's daughter was,
although his own efforts to discover her whereabouts had been
unsuccessful. Sergeant Ellison had confessed absolute failure;
Miss Rossmore, he reported, had disappeared as completely as if
the earth had swallowed her, and further search was futile.
Knowing well his son's impulsive, headstrong disposition, Ryder,
Sr. believed him quite capable of marrying the girl secretly any
time. The only thing that John Ryder did not know was that Shirley
Rossmore was not the kind of a girl to allow any man to inveigle
her into a secret marriage. The Colossus, who judged the world's
morals by his own, was not of course aware of this, and he worried
night and day thinking what he could do to prevent his son from
marrying the daughter of the man he had wronged.

The more he pondered over it, the more he regretted that there
was not some other girl with whom Jefferson could fall in love
and marry. He need not seek a rich girl--there was certainly
enough money in the Ryder family to provide for both. He wished
they knew a girl, for example, as attractive and clever as Miss
Green. Ah! he thought, there was a girl who would make a man of
Jefferson--brainy, ambitious, active! And the more he thought of
it the more the idea grew on him that Miss Green would be an ideal
daughter-in-law, and at the same time snatch his son from the
clutches of the Rossmore woman.

Jefferson, during all these weeks, was growing more and more
impatient. He knew that any day now Shirley might take her
departure from their house and return to Massapequa. If the
impeachment proceedings went against her father it was more than
likely that he would lose her forever, and if, on the contrary,
the judge were acquitted, Shirley never would be willing to marry
him without his father's consent; and this, he felt, he would
never obtain. He resolved, therefore, to have a final interview
with his father and declare boldly his intention of making Miss
Rossmore his wife, regardless of the consequences.

The opportunity came one evening after dinner. Ryder, Sr. was
sitting alone in the library, reading, Mrs. Ryder had gone to the
theatre with a friend, Shirley as usual was writing in her room,
giving the final touches to her now completed "History of the
Empire Trading Company." Jefferson took the bull by the horns and
boldly accosted his redoubtable parent.

"May I have a few minutes of your time, father?"

Ryder, Sr. laid aside the paper he was reading and looked up. It
was unusual for his son to come to him on any errand, and he liked
to encourage it.

"Certainly, Jefferson. What is it?"

"I want to appeal to you, sir. I want you to use your influence,
before it is too late, to save Judge Rossmore. A word from you at
this time would do wonders in Washington."

The financier swung half-round in his chair, the smile of greeting
faded out of his face, and his voice was hard as he replied
coldly:

"Again? I thought we had agreed not to discuss Judge Rossmore any
further?"

"I can't help it, sir," rejoined Jefferson undeterred by his
sire's hostile attitude, "that poor old man is practically on
trial for his life. He is as innocent of wrongdoing as a child
unborn, and you know it. You could save him if you would."

"Jefferson," answered Ryder, Sr., biting his lip to restrain his
impatience, "I told you before that I could not interfere even if
I would; and I won't, because that man is my enemy. Important
business interests, which you cannot possibly know anything about,
demand his dismissal from the bench."

"Surely your business interests don't demand the sacrifice of a
man's life!" retorted Jefferson. "I know modern business methods
are none too squeamish, but I should think you'd draw the line at
deliberate murder!"

Ryder sprang to his feet and for a moment stood glaring at the
young man. His lips moved, but no sound came from them. Suppressed
wrath rendered him speechless. What was the world coming to when a
son could talk to his father in this manner?

"How dare you presume to judge my actions or to criticise my
methods?" he burst out; finally.

"You force me to do so," answered Jefferson hotly. "I want to tell
you that I am heartily ashamed of this whole affair and your
connection with it, and since you refuse to make reparation in the
only way possible for the wrong you and your associates have done
Judge Rossmore--that is by saving him in the Senate--I think it
only fair to warn you that I take back my word in regard to not
marrying without your consent. I want you to know that I intend to
marry Miss Rossmore as soon as she will consent to become my wife,
that is," he added with bitterness, "if I can succeed in
overcoming her prejudices against my family--"

Ryder, Sr. laughed contemptuously.

"Prejudices against a thousand million dollars?" he exclaimed
sceptically.

"Yes," replied Jefferson decisively, "prejudices against our
family, against you and your business practices. Money is not
everything. One day you will find that out. I tell you definitely
that I intend to make Miss Rossmore my wife."

Ryder, Sr. made no reply, and as Jefferson had expected an
explosion, this unnatural calm rather startled him. He was sorry
he had spoken so harshly. It was his father, after all.

"You've forced me to defy you, father," he added. "I'm sorry--"

Ryder, Sr. shrugged his shoulders and resumed his seat. He lit
another cigar, and with affected carelessness he said:

"All right, Jeff, my boy, we'll let it go at that You're sorry--so
am I. You've shown me your cards--I'll show you mine."

His composed unruffled manner vanished. He suddenly threw off the
mask and revealed the tempest that was raging within. He leaned
across the desk, his face convulsed with uncontrollable passion, a
terrifying picture of human wrath. Shaking his fist at his son he
shouted:

"When I get through with Judge Rossmore at Washington, I'll start
after his daughter. This time to-morrow he'll be a disgraced man.
A week later she will be a notorious woman. Then we'll see if
you'll be so eager to marry her!"

"Father!" cried Jefferson.

"There is sure to be something in her life that won't bear
inspection," sneered Ryder. "There is in everybody's life. I'll
find out what it is. Where is she to-day? She can't be found. No
one knows where she is--not even her own mother. Something is
wrong--the girl's no good!"

Jefferson started forward as if to resent these insults to the
woman he loved, but, realizing that it was his own father, he
stopped short and his hands fell powerless at his side.

"Well, is that all?" inquired Ryder, Sr. with a sneer.

"That's all," replied Jefferson, "I'm going. Good-bye."

"Good-bye," answered his father indifferently; "leave your address
with your mother."

Jefferson left the room, and Ryder, Sr., as if exhausted by the
violence of his own outburst, sank back limp in his chair. The
crisis he dreaded had come at last. His son had openly defied his
authority and was going to marry the daughter of his enemy. He
must do something to prevent it; the marriage must not take place,
but what could he do? The boy was of age and legally his own
master. He could do nothing to restrain his actions unless they
put him in an insane asylum. He would rather see his son there, he
mused, than married to the Rossmore woman.

Presently there was a timid knock at the library door. Ryder rose
from his seat and went to see who was there. To his surprise it
was Miss Green.

"May I come in?" asked Shirley.

"Certainly, by all means. Sit down."

He drew up a chair for her, and his manner was so cordial that it
was easy to see she was a welcome visitor.

"Mr. Ryder," she began in a low, tremulous voice, "I have come to
see you on a very important matter. I've been waiting to see you
all evening--and as I shall be here only a short time longer
I--want to ask you a great favour--perhaps the greatest you were
ever asked--I want to ask you for mercy--for mercy to--"

She stopped and glanced nervously at him, but she saw he was
paying no attention to what she was saying. He was puffing heavily
at his cigar, entirely preoccupied with his own thoughts. Her
sudden silence aroused him. He apologized:

"Oh, excuse me--I didn't quite catch what you were saying."

She said nothing, wondering what had happened to render him so
absent-minded. He read the question in her face, for, turning
towards her, he exclaimed:

"For the first time in my life I am face to face with
defeat--defeat of the most ignominious kind--incapacity--inability
to regulate my own internal affairs. I can rule a government, but
I can't manage my own family--my own son. I'm a failure. Tell me,"
he added, appealing to her, "why can't I rule my own household,
why can't I govern my own child?"

"Why can't you govern yourself?" said Shirley quietly.

Ryder looked keenly at her for a moment without answering her
question; then, as if prompted by a sudden inspiration, he said:

"You can help me, but not by preaching at me. This is the first
time in my life I ever called on a living soul for help. I'm only
accustomed to deal with men. This time there's a woman in the
case--and I need your woman's wit--"

"How can I help you?" asked Shirley.

"I don't know," he answered with suppressed excitement. "As I
told you, I am up against a blank wall. I can't see my way." He
gave a nervous little laugh and went on: "God! I'm ashamed of
myself--ashamed! Did you ever read the fable of the Lion and the
Mouse? Well, I want you to gnaw with your sharp woman's teeth at
the cords which bind the son of John Burkett Ryder to this
Rossmore woman. I want you to be the mouse--to set me free of
this disgraceful entanglement."

"How?" asked Shirley calmly.

"Ah, that's just it--how?" he replied. "Can't you think--you're a
woman--you have youth, beauty--brains." He stopped and eyed her
closely until she reddened from the embarrassing scrutiny. Then he
blurted out: "By George! marry him yourself--force him to let go
of this other woman! Why not? Come, what do you say?"

This unexpected suggestion came upon Shirley with all the force of
a violent shock. She immediately saw the falseness of her
position. This man was asking for her hand for his son under the
impression that she was another woman. It would be dishonorable of
her to keep up the deception any longer. She passed her hand over
her face to conceal her confusion.

"You--you must give me time to think," she stammered. "Suppose I
don't love your son--I should want something--something to
compensate."

"Something to compensate?" echoed Ryder surprised and a little
disconcerted. "Why, the boy will inherit millions--I don't know
how many."

"No--no, not money," rejoined Shirley; "money only compensates
those who love money. It's something else--a man's honour--a man's
life! It means nothing to you."

He gazed at her, not understanding. Full of his own project, he
had mind for nothing else. Ignoring therefore the question of
compensation, whatever she might mean by that, he continued:

"You can win him if you make up your mind to. A woman with your
resources can blind him to any other woman."

"But if--he loves Judge Rossmore's daughter?" objected Shirley.

"It's for you to make him forget her--and you can," replied the
financier confidently. "My desire is to separate him from this
Rossmore woman at any cost. You must help me." His sternness
relaxed somewhat and his eyes rested on her kindly. "Do you know,
I should be glad to think you won't have to leave us. Mrs. Ryder
has taken a fancy to you, and I myself shall miss you when you
go."

"You ask me to be your son's wife and you know nothing of my
family," said Shirley.

"I know you--that is sufficient," he replied.

"No--no you don't," returned Shirley, "nor do you know your son.
He has more constancy--more strength of character than you
think--and far more principle than you have."

"So much the greater the victory for you," he answered good
humouredly.

"Ah," she said reproachfully, "you do not love your son."

"I do love him," replied Ryder warmly. "It's because I love him
that I'm such a fool in this matter. Don't you see that if he
marries this girl it would separate us, and I should lose him. I
don't want to lose him. If I welcomed her to my house it would
make me the laughing-stock of all my friends and business
associates. Come, will you join forces with me?"

Shirley shook her head and was about to reply when the telephone
bell rang. Ryder took up the receiver and spoke to the butler
downstairs:

"Who's that? Judge Stott? Tell him I'm too busy to see anyone.
What's that? A man's life at stake? What's that to do with me?
Tell him--"

On hearing Stott's name, Shirley nearly betrayed herself. She
turned pale and half-started up from her chair. Something serious
must have happened to bring her father's legal adviser to the
Ryder residence at such an hour! She thought he was in Washington.
Could it be that the proceedings in the Senate were ended and the
result known? She could hardly conceal her anxiety, and
instinctively she placed her hand on Ryder's arm.

"No, Mr. Ryder, do see Judge Stott! You must see him. I know who
he is. Your son has told me. Judge Stott is one of Judge
Rossmore's advisers. See him. You may find out something about the
girl. You may find out where she is. If Jefferson finds out you
have refused to see her father's friend at such a critical time it
will only make him sympathize more deeply with the Rossmores, and
you know sympathy is akin to love. That's what you want to avoid,
isn't it?"

Ryder still held the telephone, hesitating what to do. What she
said sounded like good sense.

"Upon my word--" he said. "You may be right and yet--"

"Am I to help you or not?" demanded Shirley. "You said you wanted
a woman's wit."

"Yes," said Ryder, "but still--"

"Then you had better see him," she said emphatically.

Ryder turned to the telephone.

"Hello, Jorkins, are you there? Show Judge Stott up here." He laid
the receiver down and turned again to Shirley. "That's one thing I
don't like about you," he said. "I allow you to decide against me
and then I agree with you." She said nothing and he went on
looking at her admiringly. "I predict that you'll bring that boy
to your feet within a month. I don't know why, but I seem to feel
that he is attracted to you already. Thank Heaven! you haven't a
lot of troublesome relations. I think you said you were almost
alone in the world. Don't look so serious," he added laughing.
"Jeff is a fine fellow, and believe me an excellent catch as the
world goes."

Shirley raised her hand as if entreating him to desist.

"Oh, don't--don't--please! My position is so false! You don't know
how false it is!" she cried.

At that instant the library door was thrown open and the butler
appeared, ushering in Stott. The lawyer looked anxious, and his
dishevelled appearance indicated that he had come direct from the
train. Shirley scanned his face narrowly in the hope that she
might read there what had happened. He walked right past her,
giving no sign of recognition, and advanced direct towards Ryder,
who had risen and remained standing at his desk.

"Perhaps I had better go?" ventured Shirley, although tortured by
anxiety to hear the news from Washington.

"No," said Ryder quickly, "Judge Stott will detain me but a very
few moments."

Having delivered himself of this delicate hint, he looked towards
his visitor as if inviting him to come to the point as rapidly as
possible.

"I must apologize for intruding at this unseemly hour, sir," said
Stott, "but time is precious. The Senate meets to-morrow to vote.
If anything is to be done for Judge Rossmore it must be done
to-night."

"I fail to see why you address yourself to me in this matter,
sir," replied Ryder with asperity.

"As Judge Rossmore's friend and counsel," answered Stott, "I am
impelled to ask your help at this critical moment."

"The matter is in the hands of the United States Senate, sir,"
replied Ryder coldly.

"They are against him!" cried Stott; "not one senator I've spoken
to holds out any hope for him. If he is convicted it will mean his
death. Inch by inch his life is leaving him. The only thing that
can save him is the good news of the Senate's refusal to find him
guilty."

Stott was talking so excitedly and loudly that neither he nor
Ryder heard the low moan that came from the corner of the room
where Shirley was standing listening.

"I can do nothing," repeated Ryder coldly, and he turned his back
and began to examine some papers lying on his desk as if to notify
the caller that the interview was ended. But Stott was not so
easily discouraged. He went on:

"As I understand it, they will vote on strictly party lines, and
the party in power is against him. He's a marked man. You have the
power to help him." Heedless of Ryder's gesture of impatience he
continued: "When I left his bedside to-night, sir, I promised to
return to him with good news; I have told him that the Senate
ridicules the charges against him. I must return to him with good
news. He is very ill to-night, sir." He halted for a moment and
glanced in Shirley's direction, and slightly raising his voice so
she might hear, he added: "If he gets worse we shall send for his
daughter."

"Where is his daughter?" demanded Ryder, suddenly interested.

"She is working in her father's interests," replied Stott, and, he
added significantly, "I believe with some hope of success."

He gave Shirley a quick, questioning look. She nodded
affirmatively. Ryder, who had seen nothing of this by-play, said
with a sneer:

"Surely you didn't come here to-night to tell me this?"

"No, sir, I did not." He took from his pocket two letters--the two
which Shirley had sent him--and held them out for Ryder's
inspection. "These letters from Judge Rossmore to you," he said,
"show you to be acquainted with the fact that he bought those
shares as an investment--and did not receive them as a bribe."

When he caught sight of the letters and he realized what they
were, Ryder changed colour. Instinctively his eyes sought the
drawer on the left-hand side of his desk. In a voice that was
unnaturally calm, he asked:

"Why don't you produce them before the Senate?"

"It was too late," explained Stott, handing them to the financier.
"I received them only two days ago. But if you come forward and
declare--"

Ryder made an effort to control himself.

"I'll do nothing of the kind. I refuse to move in the matter. That
is final. And now, sir," he added, raising his voice and pointing
to the letters, "I wish to know how comes it that you had in your
possession private correspondence addressed to me?"

"That I cannot answer," replied Stott promptly.

"From whom did you receive these letters?" demanded Ryder.

Stott was dumb, while Shirley clutched at her chair as if she
would fall. The financier repeated the question.

"I must decline to answer," replied Stott finally.

Shirley left her place and came slowly forward. Addressing Ryder,
she said:

"I wish to make a statement."

The financier gazed at her in astonishment. What could she
know about it, he wondered, and he waited with curiosity to
hear what she was going to say. But Stott instantly realized
that she was about to take the blame upon herself, regardless
of the consequences to the success of their cause. This must
be prevented at all hazards, even if another must be sacrificed,
so interrupting her he said hastily to Ryder:

"Judge Rossmore's life and honour are at stake and no false sense
of delicacy must cause the failure of my object to save him. These
letters were sent to me by--your son."

"From my son!" exclaimed Ryder, starting. For a moment he
staggered as if he had received a blow; he was too much overcome
to speak or act. Then recovering himself, he rang a bell, and
turned to Stott with renewed fury:

"So," he cried, "this man, this judge whose honour is at stake and
his daughter, who most likely has no honour at stake, between them
have made a thief and a liar of my son! false to his father, false
to his party; and you, sir, have the presumption to come here and
ask me to intercede for him!" To the butler, who entered, he said:
"See if Mr. Jefferson is still in the house. If he is, tell him I
would like to see him here at once."

The man disappeared, and Ryder strode angrily up and down the room
with the letters in his hand. Then, turning abruptly on Stott, he
said:

"And now, sir, I think nothing more remains to be said. I shall
keep these letters, as they are my property."

"As you please. Good night, sir."

"Good night," replied Ryder, not looking up.

With a significant glance at Shirley, who motioned to him that she
might yet succeed where he had failed, Stott left the room. Ryder
turned to Shirley. His fierceness of manner softened down as he
addressed the girl:

"You see what they have done to my son--"

"Yes," replied Shirley, "it's the girl's fault. If Jefferson
hadn't loved her you would have helped the judge. Ah, why did they
ever meet! She has worked on his sympathy and he--he took these
letters for her sake, not to injure you. Oh, you must make some
allowance for him! One's sympathy gets aroused in spite of
oneself; even I feel sorry for--these people."

"Don't," replied Ryder grimly, "sympathy is often weakness. Ah,
there you are!" turning to Jefferson, who entered the room at that
moment.

"You sent for me, father?"

"Yes," said Ryder, Sr., holding up the letters. "Have you ever
seen these letters before?"

Jefferson took the letters and examined them, then he passed them
back to his father and said frankly:

"Yes, I took them out of your desk and sent them to Mr. Stott in
the hope they would help Judge Rossmore's case."

Ryder restrained himself from proceeding to actual violence only
with the greatest difficulty. His face grew white as death, his
lips were compressed, his hands twitched convulsively, his eyes
flashed dangerously. He took another cigar to give the impression
that he had himself well under control, but the violent trembling
of his hands as he lit it betrayed the terrific strain he was
under.

"So!" he said, "you deliberately sacrificed my interests to save
this woman's father--you hear him, Miss Green? Jefferson, my boy,
I think it's time you and I had a final accounting."

Shirley made a motion as if about to withdraw. He stopped her with
a gesture.

"Please don't go, Miss Green. As the writer of my biography you
are sufficiently well acquainted with my family affairs to warrant
your being present at the epilogue. Besides, I want an excuse for
keeping my temper. Sit down, Miss Green."

Turning to Jefferson, he went on:

"For your mother's sake, my boy, I have overlooked your little
eccentricities of character. But now we have arrived at the
parting of the ways--you have gone too far. The one aspect of this
business I cannot overlook is your willingness to sell, your own
father for the sake of a woman."

"My own father," interrupted Jefferson bitterly, "would not
hesitate to sell me if his business and political interests
warranted the sacrifice!"

Shirley attempted the rôle of peacemaker. Appealing to the younger
man, she said:

"Please don't talk like that, Mr. Jefferson." Then she turned to
Ryder, Sr.: "I don't think your son quite understands you, Mr.
Ryder, and, if you will pardon me, I don't think you quite
understand him. Do you realize that there is a man's life at
stake--that Judge Rossmore is almost at the point of death and
that favourable news from the Senate to-morrow is perhaps the only
thing that can save him?"

"Ah, I see," sneered Ryder, Sr. "Judge Stott's story has aroused
your sympathy."

"Yes, I--I confess my sympathy is aroused. I do feel for this
father whose life is slowly ebbing away--whose strength is being
sapped hourly by the thought of the disgrace--the injustice that
is being done him! I do feel for the wife of this suffering man!"

"Ah, its a complete picture!" cried Ryder mockingly. "The dying
father, the sorrowing mother--and the daughter, what is she
supposed to be doing?"

"She is fighting for her father's life," cried Shirley, "and you,
Mr. Jefferson, should have pleaded--pleaded--not demanded. It's no
use trying to combat your father's will."

"She is quite right, father. I should have implored you. I do so
now. I ask you for God's sake to help us!"

Ryder was grim and silent. He rose from his seat and paced the
room, puffing savagely at his cigar. Then he turned and said:

"His removal is a political necessity. If he goes back on the
bench every paltry justice of the peace, every petty official will
think he has a special mission to tear down the structure that
hard work and capital have erected. No, this man has been
especially conspicuous in his efforts to block the progress of
amalgamated interests."

"And so he must be sacrificed?" cried Shirley indignantly.

"He is a meddlesome man," insisted Ryder "and--"

"He is innocent of the charges brought against him," urged
Jefferson.

"Mr. Ryder is not considering that point," said Shirley bitterly.
"All he can see is that it is necessary to put this poor old man
in the public pillory, to set him up as a warning to others of his
class not to act in accordance with the principles of Truth and
Justice--not to dare to obstruct the car of Juggernaut set in
motion by the money gods of the country!"

"It's the survival of the fittest, my dear," said Ryder coldly.

"Oh!" cried Shirley, making a last appeal to the financier's heart
of stone, "use your great influence with this governing body for
good, not evil! Urge them to vote not in accordance with party
policy and personal interest, but in accordance with their
consciences--in accordance with Truth and Justice! Ah, for God's
sake, Mr. Ryder! don't permit this foul injustice to blot the name
of the highest tribunal in the Western world!"

Ryder laughed cynically.

"By Jove! Jefferson, I give you credit for having secured an
eloquent advocate!"

"Suppose," went on Shirley, ignoring his taunting comments,
"suppose this daughter promises that she will never--never see
your son again--that she will go away to some foreign country!"

"No!" burst in Jefferson, "why should she? If my father is not man
enough to do a simple act of justice without bartering a woman's
happiness and his son's happiness, let him find comfort in his
self-justification!"

Shirley, completely unnerved, made a move towards the door, unable
longer to bear the strain she was under. She tottered as though
she would fall. Ryder made a quick movement towards his son and
took him by the arm. Pointing to Shirley he said in a low tone:

"You see how that girl pleads your cause for you! She loves you,
my boy!" Jefferson started. "Yes, she does," pursued Ryder, Sr.
"She's worth a thousand of the Rossmore woman. Make her your wife
and I'll--"

"Make her my wife!" cried Jefferson joyously. He stared at his
parent as if he thought he had suddenly been bereft of his senses.

"Make her my wife?" he repeated incredulously.

"Well, what do you say?" demanded Ryder, Sr.

The young man advanced towards Shirley, hands outstretched.

"Yes, yes, Shir--Miss Green, will you?" Seeing that Shirley made
no sign, he said: "Not now, father; I will speak to her later."

"No, no, to-night, at once!" insisted Ryder. Addressing Shirley,
he went on: "Miss Green, my son is much affected by your
disinterested appeal in his behalf. He--he--you can save him from
himself--my son wishes you--he asks you to become his wife! Is it
not so, Jefferson?"

"Yes, yes, my wife!" advancing again towards Shirley.

The girl shrank back in alarm.

"No, no, no, Mr. Ryder, I cannot, I cannot!" she cried.

"Why not?" demanded Ryder, Sr. appealingly. "Ah, don't--don't
decide hastily--"

Shirley, her face set and drawn and keen mental distress showing
in every line of it, faced the two men, pale and determined. The
time had come to reveal the truth. This masquerade could go on no
longer. It was not honourable either to her father or to herself.
Her self-respect demanded that she inform the financier of her
true identity.

"I cannot marry your son with these lies upon my lips!" she cried.
"I cannot go on with this deception. I told you you did not know
who I was, who my people were. My story about them, my name,
everything about me is false, every word I have uttered is a lie,
a fraud, a cheat! I would not tell you now, but you trusted me and
are willing to entrust your son's future, your family honour in my
keeping, and I can't keep back the truth from you. Mr. Ryder, I am
the daughter of the man you hate. I am the woman your son loves. I
am Shirley Rossmore!"

Ryder took his cigar from his lips and rose slowly to his feet.

"You? You?" he stammered.

    [Photo, from the play, of Jefferson and Shirley appealing
     to Mr. Ryder]

    "For God's sake, Mr. Ryder, don't permit this foul
     injustice."--Act III.

"Yes--yes, I am the Rossmore woman! Listen, Mr. Ryder. Don't turn
away from me. Go to Washington on behalf of my father, and I
promise you I will never see your son again--never, never!"

"Ah, Shirley!" cried Jefferson, "you don't love me!"

"Yes, Jeff, I do; God knows I do! But if I must break my own heart
to save my father I will do it."

"Would you sacrifice my happiness and your own?"

"No happiness can be built on lies, Jeff. We must build on truth
or our whole house will crumble and fall. We have deceived your
father, but he will forgive that, won't you?" she said, appealing
to Ryder, "and you will go to Washington, you will save my
father's honour, his life, you will--?"

They stood face to face--this slim, delicate girl battling for her
father's life, arrayed against a cold-blooded, heartless,
unscrupulous man, deaf to every impulse of human sympathy or pity.
Since this woman had deceived him, fooled him, he would deal with
her as with everyone else who crossed his will. She laid her hand
on his arm, pleading with him. Brutally, savagely, he thrust her
aside.

"No, no, I will not!" he thundered. "You have wormed yourself into
my confidence by means of lies and deceit. You have tricked me,
fooled me to the very limit! Oh, it is easy to see how you have
beguiled my son into the folly of loving you! And you--you have
the brazen effrontery to ask me to plead for your father? No! No!
No! Let the law take its course, and now Miss Rossmore--you will
please leave my house to-morrow morning!"

Shirley stood listening to what he had to say, her face white, her
mouth quivering. At last the crisis had come. It was a fight to
the finish between this man, the incarnation of corporate greed
and herself, representing the fundamental principles of right and
justice. She turned on him in a fury:

"Yes, I will leave your house to-night! Do you think I would
remain another hour beneath the roof of a man who is as blind to
justice, as deaf to mercy, as incapable of human sympathy as you
are!"

She raised her voice; and as she stood there denouncing the man of
money, her eyes flashing and her head thrown back, she looked like
some avenging angel defying one of the powers of Evil.

"Leave the room!" shouted Ryder, beside himself, and pointing to
the door.

"Father!" cried Jefferson, starting forward to protect the girl he
loved.

"You have tricked him as you have me!" thundered Ryder.

"It is your own vanity that has tricked you!" cried Shirley
contemptuously. "You lay traps for yourself and walk into them.
You compel everyone around you to lie to you, to cajole you, to
praise you, to deceive you! At least, you cannot accuse me of
flattering you. I have never fawned upon you as you compel your
family and your friends and your dependents to do. I have always
appealed to your better nature by telling you the truth, and in
your heart you know that I am speaking the truth now."

"Go!" he commanded.

"Yes, let us go, Shirley!" said Jefferson.

"No, Jeff, I came here alone and I'm going alone!"

"You are not. I shall go with you. I intend to make you my wife!"

Ryder laughed scornfully.

"No," cried Shirley. "Do you think I'd marry a man whose father is
as deep a discredit to the human race as your father is? No, I
wouldn't marry the son of such a merciless tyrant! He refuses to
lift his voice to save my father. I refuse to marry his son!"

She turned on Ryder with all the fury of a tiger:

"You think if you lived in the olden days you'd be a Caesar or an
Alexander. But you wouldn't! You'd be a Nero--a Nero! Sink my
self-respect to the extent of marrying into your family!" she
exclaimed contemptuously. "Never! I am going to Washington without
your aid. I am going to save my father if I have to go on my knees
to every United States Senator. I'll go to the White House; I'll
tell the President what you are! Marry your son--no, thank you!
No, thank you!"

Exhausted by the vehemence of her passionate outburst, Shirley
hurried from the room, leaving Ryder speechless, staring at his
son.



CHAPTER XVI


When Shirley reached her rooms she broke down completely, she
threw herself upon a sofa and burst into a fit of violent sobbing.
After all, she was only a woman and the ordeal through which she
had passed would have taxed the strongest powers of endurance. She
had borne up courageously while there remained the faintest chance
that she might succeed in moving the financier to pity, but now
that all hopes in that direction were shattered and she herself
had been ordered harshly from the house like any ordinary
malefactor, the reaction set in, and she gave way freely to her
long pent-up anguish and distress. Nothing now could save her
father--not even this journey to Washington which she determined
to take nevertheless, for, according to what Stott had said, the
Senate was to take a vote that very night.

She looked at the time--eleven o'clock. She had told Mr. Ryder
that she would leave his house at once, but on reflection it was
impossible for a girl alone to seek a room at that hour. It would
be midnight before she could get her things packed. No, she would
stay under this hated roof until morning and then take the first
train to Washington. There was still a chance that the vote might
be delayed, in which case she might yet succeed in winning over
some of the senators. She began to gather her things together and
was thus engaged when she, heard a knock at her door.

"Who's there?" she called out.

"It's I," replied a familiar voice.

Shirley went to the door and opening it found Jefferson on the
threshold. He made no attempt to enter, nor did she invite him in.
He looked tired and careworn.

"Of course, you're not going to-night?" he asked anxiously. "My
father did not mean to-night."

"No, Jeff," she said wearily; "not to-night. It's a little too
late. I did not realize it. To-morrow morning, early."

He seemed reassured and held out his hand:

"Good-night, dearest--you're a brave girl. You made a splendid
fight."

"It didn't do much good," she replied in a disheartened, listless
way.

"But it set him thinking," rejoined Jefferson. "No one ever spoke
to my father like that before. It did him good. He's still
marching up and down the library, chewing the cud--"

Noticing Shirley's tired face and her eyes, with great black
circles underneath, he stopped short.

"Now don't do any more packing to-night," he said. "Go to bed and
in the morning I'll come up and help you. Good night!"

"Good night, Jeff," she smiled.

He went downstairs, and after doing some more packing she went to
bed. But it was hours before she got to sleep, and then she
dreamed that she was in the Senate Chamber and that she saw Ryder
suddenly rise and denounce himself before the astonished senators
as a perjurer and traitor to his country, while she returned to
Massapequa with the glad news that her father was acquitted.

Meantime, a solitary figure remained in the library, pacing to and
fro like a lost soul in Purgatory. Mrs. Ryder had returned from
the play and gone to bed, serenely oblivious of the drama in real
life that had been enacted at home, the servants locked the house
up for the night and still John Burkett Ryder walked the floor of
his sanctum, and late into the small hours of the morning the
watchman going his lonely rounds, saw a light in the library and
the restless figure of his employer sharply silhouetted against
the white blinds.

For the first time in his life John Ryder realized that there was
something in the world beyond Self. He had seen with his own eyes
the sacrifice a daughter will make for the father she loves, and
he asked himself what manner of a man that father could be to
inspire such devotion in his child. He probed into his own heart
and conscience and reviewed his past career. He had been
phenomenally successful, but he had not been happy. He had more
money than he knew what to do with, but the pleasures of the
domestic circle, which he saw other men enjoy, had been denied to
him. Was he himself to blame? Had his insensate craving for gold
and power led him to neglect those other things in life which
contribute more truly to man's happiness? In other words, was his
life a mistake? Yes, it was true what this girl charged, he had
been merciless and unscrupulous in his dealings with his fellow
man. It was true that hardly a dollar of his vast fortune had been
honestly earned. It was true that it had been wrung from the
people by fraud and trickery. He had craved for power, yet now he
had tasted it, what a hollow joy it was, after all! The public
hated and despised him; even his so-called friends and business
associates toadied to him merely because they feared him. And this
judge--this father he had persecuted and ruined, what a better man
and citizen he was, how much more worthy of a child's love and of
the esteem of the world! What had Judge Rossmore done, after all,
to deserve the frightful punishment the amalgamated interests had
caused him to suffer? If he had blocked their game, he had done
only what his oath, his duty commanded him to do. Such a girl as
Shirley Rossmore could not have had any other kind of a father.
Ah, if he had had such a daughter he might have been a better man,
if only to win his child's respect and affection. John Ryder
pondered long and deeply and the more he ruminated the stronger
the conviction grew upon him that the girl was right and he was
wrong. Suddenly, he looked at his watch. It was one o'clock.
Roberts had told him that it would be an all night session and
that a vote would probably not be taken until very late. He
unhooked the telephone and calling "central" asked for "long
distance" and connection with Washington.



It was seven o'clock when the maid entered Shirley's room with her
breakfast and she found its occupant up and dressed.

"Why you haven't been to bed, Miss!" exclaimed the girl, looking
at the bed in the inner room which seemed scarcely disturbed.

"No, Theresa I--I couldn't sleep." Hastily pouring out a cup of
tea she added. "I must catch that nine o'clock train to
Washington. I didn't finish packing until nearly three."

"Can I do anything for you, Miss?" inquired the maid. Shirley was
as popular with the servants as with the rest of the household.

"No," answered Shirley, "there are only a few things to go in my
suit case. Will you please have a cab here in half an hour?"

The maid was about to go when she suddenly thought of something
she had forgotten. She held out an envelope which she had left
lying on the tray.

"Oh, Miss, Mr. Jorkins said to give you this and master wanted to
see you as soon as you had finished your breakfast."

Shirley tore open the envelope and took out the contents. It was a
cheque, payable to her order for $5,000 and signed "John Burkett
Ryder."

A deep flush covered the girl's face as she saw the money--a flush
of annoyance rather than of pleasure. This man who had insulted
her, who had wronged her father, who had driven her from his home,
thought he could throw his gold at her and insolently send her her
pay as one settles haughtily with a servant discharged for
impertinence. She would have none of his money--the work she had
done she would make him a present of. She replaced the cheque in
the envelope and passed it back to Theresa.

"Give this to Mr. Ryder and tell him I cannot see him."

"But Mr. Ryder said--" insisted the girl.

"Please deliver my message as I give it," commanded Shirley with
authority. "I cannot see Mr. Ryder."

The maid withdrew, but she had barely closed the door when it was
opened again and Mrs. Ryder rushed in, without knocking. She was
all flustered with excitement and in such a hurry that she had not
even stopped to arrange her toilet.

"My dear Miss Green," she gasped; "what's this I hear--going away
suddenly without giving me warning?"

"I wasn't engaged by the month," replied Shirley drily.

"I know, dear, I know. I was thinking of myself. I've grown so
used to you--how shall I get on without you--no one understands me
the way you do. Dear me! The whole house is upset. Mr. Ryder never
went to bed at all last night. Jefferson is going away,
too--forever, he threatens. If he hadn't come and woke me up to
say good-bye, I should never have known you intended to leave us.
My boy's going--you're going--everyone's deserting me!"

Mrs. Ryder was not accustomed to such prolonged flights of oratory
and she sank exhausted on a chair, her eyes filling with tears.

"Did they tell you who I am--the daughter of Judge Rossmore?"
demanded Shirley.

It had been a shock to Mrs. Ryder that morning when Jefferson
burst into his mother's room before she was up and acquainted her
with the events of the previous evening. The news that the Miss
Green whom she had grown to love, was really the Miss Rossmore of
whose relations with Jefferson her husband stood in such dread,
was far from affecting the financier's wife as it had Ryder
himself. To the mother's simple and ingenuous mind, free from
prejudice and ulterior motive, the girl's character was more
important than her name, and certainly she could not blame her son
for loving such a woman as Shirley. Of course, it was unfortunate
for Jefferson that his father felt this bitterness towards Judge
Rossmore, for she herself could hardly have wished for a more
sympathetic daughter-in-law. She had not seen her husband since
the previous evening at dinner so was in complete ignorance as to
what he thought of this new development, but the mother sighed as
she thought how happy it would make her to see Jefferson happily
married to the girl of his own choice, and in her heart she still
entertained the hope that her husband would see it that way and
thus prevent their son from leaving them as he threatened.

"That's not your fault, my dear," she replied answering Shirley's
question. "You are yourself--that's the main thing. You mustn't
mind what Mr. Ryder says? Business and worry makes him irritable
at times. If you must go, of course you must--you are the best
judge of that, but Jefferson wants to see you before you leave."
She kissed Shirley in motherly fashion, and added: "He has told me
everything, dear. Nothing would make me happier than to see you
become his wife. He's downstairs now waiting for me to tell him to
come up."

"It's better that I should not see him," replied Shirley slowly
and gravely. "I can only tell him what I have already told him. My
father comes first. I have still a duty to perform."

"That's right, dear," answered Mrs. Ryder. "You're a good, noble
girl and I admire you all the more for it. I'll let Jefferson be
his own advocate. You'll see him for my sake!"

She gave Shirley another affectionate embrace and left the room
while the girl proceeded with her final preparations for
departure. Presently there was a quick, heavy step in the corridor
outside and Jefferson appeared in the doorway. He stood there
waiting for her to invite him in. She looked up and greeted him
cordially, yet it was hardly the kind of reception he looked for
or that he considered he had a right to expect. He advanced
sulkily into the room.

"Mother said she had put everything right," he began. "I guess she
was mistaken."

"Your mother does not understand, neither do you," she replied
seriously. "Nothing can be put right until my father is restored
to honour and position."

"But why should you punish me because my father fails to regard
the matter as we do?" demanded Jefferson rebelliously.

"Why should I punish myself--why should we punish those nearest
and dearest?" answered Shirley gently, "the victims of human
injustice always suffer where their loved ones are tortured. Why
are things as they are--I don't know. I know they are--that's
all."

The young man strode nervously up and down the room while she
gazed listlessly out of the window, looking for the cab that was
to carry her away from this house of disappointment. He pleaded
with her:

"I have tried honourably and failed--you have tried honourably and
failed. Isn't the sting of impotent failure enough to meet without
striving against a hopeless love?" He approached her and said
softly: "I love you Shirley--don't drive me to desperation. Must I
be punished because you have failed? It's unfair. The sins of the
fathers should not be visited upon the children."

"But they are--it's the law," said Shirley with resignation.

"The law?" he echoed.

"Yes, the law," insisted the girl; "man's law, not God's, the same
unjust law that punishes my father--man's law which is put into
the hands of the powerful of the earth to strike at the weak."

She sank into a chair and, covering up her face, wept bitterly.
Between her sobs she cried brokenly:

"I believed in the power of love to soften your father's heart, I
believed that with God's help I could bring him to see the truth.
I believed that Truth and Love would make him see the light, but
it hasn't. I stayed on and on, hoping against hope until the time
has gone by and it's too late to save him, too late! What can I do
now? My going to Washington is a forlorn hope, a last, miserable,
forlorn hope and in this hour, the darkest of all, you ask me to
think of myself--my love, your love, your happiness, your future,
my future! Ah, wouldn't it be sublime selfishness?"

Jefferson kneeled down beside the chair and taking her hand in
his, tried to reason with her and comfort her:

"Listen, Shirley," he said, "do not do something you will surely
regret. You are punishing me not only because I have failed but
because you have failed too. It seems to me that if you believed
it possible to accomplish so much, if you had so much faith--that
you have lost your faith rather quickly. I believed in nothing, I
had no faith and yet I have not lost hope."

She shook her head and gently withdrew her hand.

"It is useless to insist, Jefferson--until my father is cleared of
this stain our lives--yours and mine--must lie apart."

Someone coughed and, startled, they both looked up. Mr. Ryder had
entered the room unobserved and stood watching them. Shirley
immediately rose to her feet indignant, resenting this intrusion
on her privacy after she had declined to receive the financier.
Yet, she reflected quickly, how could she prevent it? He was at
home, free to come and go as he pleased, but she was not compelled
to remain in the same room with him. She picked up the few things
that lay about and with a contemptuous toss of her head, retreated
into the inner apartment, leaving father and son alone together.

"Hum," grunted Ryder, Sr. "I rather thought I should find you here,
but I didn't quite expect to find you on your knees--dragging our
pride in the mud."

"That's where our pride ought to be," retorted Jefferson savagely.
He felt in the humor to say anything, no matter what the
consequences.

"So she has refused you again, eh?" said Ryder, Sr. with a grin.

"Yes," rejoined Jefferson with growing irritation, "she objects to
my family. I don't blame her."

The financier smiled grimly as he answered:

"Your family in general--me in particular, eh? I gleaned that much
when I came in." He looked towards the door of the room in which
Shirley had taken refuge and as if talking to himself he added: "A
curious girl with an inverted point of view--sees everything
different to others--I want to see her before she goes."

He walked over to the door and raised his hand as if he were about
to knock. Then he stopped as if he had changed his mind and
turning towards his son he demanded:

"Do you mean to say that she has done with you?"

"Yes," answered Jefferson bitterly.

"Finally?"

"Yes, finally--forever!"

"Does she mean it?" asked Ryder, Sr., sceptically.

"Yes--she will not listen to me while her father is still in
peril."

There was an expression of half amusement, half admiration on the
financier's face as he again turned towards the door.

"It's like her, damn it, just like her!" he muttered.

He knocked boldly at the door.

"Who's there?" cried Shirley from within.

"It is I--Mr. Ryder. I wish to speak to you."

"I must beg you to excuse me," came the answer, "I cannot see
you."

Jefferson interfered.

"Why do you want to add to the girl's misery? Don't you think she
has suffered enough?"

"Do you know what she has done?" said Ryder with pretended
indignation. "She has insulted me grossly. I never was so
humiliated in my life. She has returned the cheque I sent her last
night in payment for her work on my biography. I mean to make her
take that money. It's hers, she needs it, her father's a beggar.
She must take it back. It's only flaunting her contempt for me in
my face and I won't permit it."

    [Photo, from the play, of Mr. Ryder holding out a cheque
     to Shirley.]

    "So I contaminate even good money?"--Act IV.

"I don't think her object in refusing that money was to flaunt
contempt in your face, or in any way humiliate you," answered
Jefferson. "She feels she has been sailing under false colours and
desires to make some reparation."

"And so she sends me back my money, feeling that will pacify me,
perhaps repair the injury she has done me, perhaps buy me into
entering into her plan of helping her father, but it won't. It
only increases my determination to see her and her--" Suddenly
changing the topic he asked: "When do you leave us?"

"Now--at once--that is--I--don't know," answered Jefferson
embarrassed. "The fact is my faculties are numbed--I seem to have
lost my power of thinking. Father," he exclaimed, "you see what a
wreck you have made of our lives!"

"Now, don't moralize," replied his father testily, "as if your own
selfishness in desiring to possess that girl wasn't the mainspring
of all your actions!" Waving his son out of the room he added:
"Now leave me alone with her for a few moments. Perhaps I can make
her listen to reason."

Jefferson stared at his father as if he feared he were out of his
mind.

"What do you mean? Are you--?" he ejaculated.

"Go--go leave her to me," commanded the financier. "Slam the door
when you go out and she'll think we've both gone. Then come up
again presently."

The stratagem succeeded admirably. Jefferson gave the door a
vigorous pull and John Ryder stood quiet, waiting for the girl to
emerge from sanctuary. He did not have to wait long. The door soon
opened and Shirley came out slowly. She had her hat on and was
drawing on her gloves, for through her window she had caught a
glimpse of the cab standing at the curb. She started on seeing
Ryder standing there motionless, and she would have retreated had
he not intercepted her.

"I wish to speak to you Miss--Rossmore," he began.

"I have nothing to say," answered Shirley frigidly.

"Why did you do this?" he asked, holding out the cheque.

"Because I do not want your money," she replied with hauteur.

"It was yours--you earned it," he said.

"No, I came here hoping to influence you to help my father. The
work I did was part of the plan. It happened to fall my way. I
took it as a means to get to your heart."

"But it is yours, please take it. It will be useful."

"No," she said scornfully, "I can't tell you how low I should fall
in my own estimation if I took your money! Money," she added, with
ringing contempt, "why, that's all there is to _you!_ It's your
god! Shall I make your god my god? No, thank you, Mr. Ryder!"

"Am I as bad as that?" he asked wistfully.

"You are as bad as that!" she answered decisively.

"So bad that I contaminate even good money?" He spoke lightly but
she noticed that he winced.

"Money itself is nothing," replied the girl, "it's the spirit that
gives it--the spirit that receives it, the spirit that earns it,
the spirit that spends it. Money helps to create happiness. It
also creates misery. It's an engine of destruction when not
properly used, it destroys individuals as it does nations. It has
destroyed you, for it has warped your soul!"

"Go on," he laughed bitterly, "I like to hear you!"

"No, you don't, Mr. Ryder, no you don't, for deep down in your
heart you know that I am speaking the truth. Money and the power
it gives you, has dried up the well-springs of your heart."

He affected to be highly amused at her words, but behind the mask
of callous indifference the man suffered. Her words seared him as
with a red hot iron. She went on:

"In the barbaric ages they fought for possession, but they fought
openly. The feudal barons fought for what they stole, but it was a
fair fight. They didn't strike in the dark. At least, they gave a
man a chance for his life. But when you modern barons of industry
don't like legislation you destroy it, when you don't like your
judges you remove them, when a competitor outbids you you squeeze
him out of commercial existence! You have no hearts, you are
machines, and you are cowards, for you fight unfairly."

"It is not true, it is not true," he protested.

"It is true," she insisted hotly, "a few hours ago in cold blood
you doomed my father to what is certain death because you decided
it was a political necessity. In other words he interfered with
your personal interests--your financial interests--you, with so
many millions you can't count them!" Scornfully she added: "Come
out into the light--fight in the open! At least, let him know who
his enemy is!"

"Stop--stop--not another word," he cried impatiently, "you have
diagnosed the disease. What of the remedy? Are you prepared to
reconstruct human nature?"

Confronting each other, their eyes met and he regarded her without
resentment, almost with tenderness. He felt strangely drawn
towards this woman who had defied and accused him, and made him
see the world in a new light.

"I don't deny," he admitted reluctantly, "that things seem to be
as you describe them, but it is part of the process of evolution."

"No," she protested, "it is the work of God!"

"It is evolution!" he insisted.

"Ah, that's it," she retorted, "you evolve new ideas, new schemes,
new tricks--you all worship different gods--gods of your own
making!"

He was about to reply when there was a commotion at the door and
Theresa entered, followed by a man servant to carry down the
trunk.

"The cab is downstairs, Miss," said the maid.

Ryder waved them away imperiously. He had something further to say
which he did not care for servants to hear. Theresa and the man
precipitately withdrew, not understanding, but obeying with
alacrity a master who never brooked delay in the execution of his
orders. Shirley, indignant, looked to him for an explanation.

"You don't need them," he exclaimed with a quiet smile in which
was a shade of embarrassment. "I--I came here to tell you that
I--" He stopped as if unable to find words, while Shirley gazed at
him in utter astonishment. "Ah," he went on finally, "you have
made it very hard for me to speak." Again he paused and then with
an effort he said slowly: "An hour ago I had Senator Roberts on
the long distance telephone, and I'm going to Washington. It's all
right about your father. The matter will be dropped. You've beaten
me. I acknowledge it. You're the first living soul who ever has
beaten John Burkett Ryder."

Shirley started forward with a cry of mingled joy and surprise.
Could she believe her ears? Was it possible that the dreaded
Colossus had capitulated and that she had saved her father? Had
the forces of right and justice prevailed, after all? Her face
transfigured, radiant she exclaimed breathlessly:

"What, Mr. Ryder, you mean that you are going to help my father?"

"Not for his sake--for yours," he answered frankly.

Shirley hung her head. In her moment of triumph, she was sorry for
all the hard things she had said to this man. She held out her
hand to him.

"Forgive me," she said gently, "it was for my father. I had no
faith. I thought your heart was of stone."

Impulsively Ryder drew her to him, he clasped her two hands in his
and looking down at her kindly he said, awkwardly:

"So it was--so it was! You accomplished the miracle. It's the
first time I've acted on pure sentiment. Let me tell you
something. Good sentiment is bad business and good business
is bad sentiment--that's why a rich man is generally supposed to
have such a hard time getting into the Kingdom of Heaven." He
laughed and went on, "I've given ten millions apiece to three
universities. Do you think I'm fool enough to suppose I can buy my
way? But that's another matter. I'm going to Washington on behalf
of your father because I--want you to marry my son. Yes, I want
you in the family, close to us. I want your respect, my girl. I
want your love. I want to earn it. I know I can't buy it. There's
a weak spot in every man's armour and this is mine--I always want
what I can't get and I can't get your love unless I earn it."

Shirley remained pensive. Her thoughts were out on Long Island, at
Massapequa. She was thinking of their joy when they heard the
news--her father, her mother and Stott. She was thinking of the
future, bright and glorious with promise again, now that the dark
clouds were passing away. She thought of Jefferson and a soft
light came into her eyes as she foresaw a happy wifehood shared
with him.

"Why so sober," demanded Ryder, "you've gained your point, your
father is to be restored to you, you'll marry the man you love?"

"I'm so happy!" murmured Shirley. "I don't deserve it. I had no
faith."

Ryder released her and took out his watch.

"I leave in fifteen minutes for Washington," he said. "Will you
trust me to go alone?"

"I trust you gladly," she answered smiling at him. "I shall always
be grateful to you for letting me convert you."

"You won me over last night," he rejoined, "when you put up that
fight for your father. I made up my mind that a girl so loyal to
her father would be loyal to her husband. You think," he went on,
"that I do not love my son--you are mistaken. I do love him and I
want him to be happy. I am capable of more affection than people
think. It is Wall Street," he added bitterly, "that has crushed
all sentiment out of me."

Shirley laughed nervously, almost hysterically.

"I want to laugh and I feel like crying," she cried. "What will
Jefferson say--how happy he will be!"

"How are you going to tell him?" inquired Ryder uneasily.

"I shall tell him that his dear, good father has relented and--"

"No, my dear," he interrupted, "you will say nothing of the sort.
I draw the line at the dear, good father act. I don't want him to
think that it comes from me at all."

"But," said Shirley puzzled, "I shall have to tell him that you--"

"What?" exclaimed Ryder, "acknowledge to my son that I was in the
wrong, that I've seen the error of my ways and wish to repent?
Excuse me," he added grimly, "it's got to come from him. He must
see the error of _his_ ways."

"But the error of his way," laughed the girl, "was falling in love
with me. I can never prove to him that that was wrong!"

The financier refused to be convinced. He shook his head and said
stubbornly:

"Well, he must be put in the wrong somehow or other! Why, my dear
child," he went on, "that boy has been waiting all his life for an
opportunity to say to me: 'Father, I knew I was in the right, and
I knew you were wrong,' Can't you see," he asked, "what a false
position it places me in? Just picture his triumph!"

"He'll be too happy to triumph," objected Shirley.

Feeling a little ashamed of his attitude, he said:

"I suppose you think I'm very obstinate." Then, as she made no
reply, he added: "I wish I didn't care what you thought."

Shirley looked at him gravely for a moment and then she replied
seriously:

"Mr. Ryder, you're a great man--you're a genius--your life is full
of action, energy, achievement. But it appears to be only the
good, the noble and the true that you are ashamed of. When your
money triumphs over principle, when your political power defeats
the ends of justice, you glory in your victory. But when you do a
kindly, generous, fatherly act, when you win a grand and noble
victory over yourself, you are ashamed of it. It was a kind,
generous impulse that has prompted you to save my father and take
your son and myself to your heart. Why are you ashamed to let him
see it? Are you afraid he will love you? Are you afraid I shall
love you? Open your heart wide to us--let us love you."

Ryder, completely vanquished, opened his arms and Shirley sprang
forward and embraced him as she would have embraced her own
father. A solitary tear coursed down the financier's cheek. In
thirty years he had not felt, or been touched by, the emotion of
human affection.

The door suddenly opened and Jefferson entered. He started on
seeing Shirley in his father's arms.

"Jeff, my boy," said the financier, releasing Shirley and putting
her hand in his son's, "I've done something you couldn't do--I've
convinced Miss Green--I mean Miss Rossmore--that we are not so bad
after all!"

Jefferson, beaming, grasped his father's hand.

"Father!" he exclaimed.

"That's what I say--father!" echoed Shirley.

They both embraced the financier until, overcome with emotion,
Ryder, Sr., struggled to free himself and made his escape from the
room crying:

"Good-bye, children--I'm off for Washington!"



THE END



Transcriber's Notes:


The following words used an 'ae' or 'oe' ligature in the original:
Croesus, manoeuvre, subpoena, _coeur_, vertebrae, Caesar.

There were a number of faded/missing letters and some transposition
errors in the edition this eBook was taken from. The following
corrections were made:

Chapter headers standardised: V-VII previously had a trailing full-stop.

Opening quote inserted: "Yes, and it was worth it to him...
Typo "determinatioin":  ...arriving at this determination.
Opening quote inserted: "Tell me, what do the papers say?"
Single quote moved:     "You sent him a copy of 'The American Octopus'?"
Single quote doubled:   ...hatred of the hero of your book."
Acute accent inserted:  ...proceeded to the Hotel de l'Athénée...
Typo "I'ts":            ...life to my father. It's no use...
Quote moved/reversed:   ...said Shirley decisively. "What is more...
Closing quote inserted: ...What account will you be able to give?"
Typo "Rosmore":         ...Judge Rossmore--that is by saving him...
Closing quote inserted: "How?" asked Shirley calmly.
Closing quote inserted: "Upon my word--" he said.
Opening quote inserted: "The dying father, the sorrowing mother...
Opening quote inserted: ...a meddlesome man," insisted Ryder "and...
Opening quote inserted: ...she replied seriously. "Nothing can be...
Closing quote inserted: ...a hopeless love?" He approached her...
Quote moved/reversed:   ...answered Jefferson embarrassed. "The fact...





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