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Title: In the Heart of a Fool
Author: White, William Allen, 1868-1944
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.

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IN THE HEART OF A FOOL



BY WILLIAM ALLEN WHITE

 THE REAL ISSUE
 THE COURT OF BOYVILLE
 STRATAGEMS AND SPOILS
 IN OUR TOWN
 A CERTAIN RICH MAN
 THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH
 GOD'S PUPPETS
 THE MARTIAL ADVENTURES OF HENRY AND ME
 IN THE HEART OF A FOOL



IN THE HEART OF A FOOL

BY

WILLIAM ALLEN WHITE

Author of "In Our Town," "A Certain Rich Man,"
"The Martial Adventures of Henry and Me," etc.

New York

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

1918

All rights reserved



COPYRIGHT, 1918

BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1918.



CONTENTS
  CHAPTER                                             PAGE
        I  BEING STAGE DIRECTIONS, AND A CAST OF
           CHARACTERS.                                   1
       II  IN WHICH WE INTRODUCE THE FOOL AND HIS
           LADY FAIR, AND WHAT HE SAID IN HIS
           HEART--THE SAME BEING THE THEME AND
           THESIS OF THIS STORY                          4
      III  IN WHICH WE CONSIDER THE LADIES--GOD
           BLESS 'EM!                                   21
       IV  THE ADAMS FAMILY BIBLE LIES LIKE A
           GENTLEMAN                                    38
        V  IN WHICH MARGARET MÜLLERs DWELLS IN
           MARBLE HALLS AND HENRY FENN AND KENYON
           ADAMS WIN NOTABLE VICTORIES                  47
       VI  ENTER THE BEAUTY AND CHIVALRY OF
           HARVEY; ALSO HEREIN WE BREAK OUR FINEST
           HEART                                        63
      VII  IN WHICH WE SEE HOW LIFE TRANSLATES
           ITSELF INTO THE MATERIALISM AROUND IT        69
     VIII  CAPTAIN MORTON ACTS AS COURT HERALD AND
           MORTY SANDS AND GRANT ADAMS HEAR SAD
           NEWS                                         80
       IX  WHEREIN HENRY FENN TRIES AN INTERESTING
           EXPERIMENT                                   89
        X  IN WHICH MARY ADAMS TAKES A MUCH NEEDED
           REST                                         98
       XI  WHEREIN A FOOL GROPES FOR A SPIRIT AND
           CAN FIND ONLY DUST                          103
      XII  IN WHICH WE LEARN THAT LOVE IS THE
           LEVER THAT MOVES THE WORLD                  114
     XIII  IN WHICH WE OBSERVE THE INTERIOR OF A
           DESERTED HOUSE                              126
      XIV  IN WHICH OUR HERO STROLLS OUT WITH THE
           DEVIL TO LOOK AT THE HIGH MOUNTAIN          135
       XV  WHEREIN WE WELCOME IN A NEW YEAR AND
           CONSIDER A SERIOUS QUESTION                 152
      XVI  GRANT ADAMS IS SOLD INTO BONDAGE AND
           MARGARET FENN RECEIVES A SHOCK              163
     XVII  A CHAPTER WHICH INTRODUCES SOME
           POSSIBLE GODS                               180
    XVIII  OUR HERO RIDES TO HOUNDS WITH THE
           PRIMROSE HUNT                               187
      XIX  HEREIN CAPTAIN MORTON FALLS UNDER
           SUSPICION AND HENRY FENN FALLS FROM
           GRACE                                       200
       XX  IN WHICH HENRY FENN FALLS FROM GRACE
           AND RISES AGAIN                             209
      XXI  IN WHICH WE SEE A FAT LITTLE RASCAL ON
           THE RACK                                    219
     XXII  IN WHICH TOM VAN DORN BECOMES A
           WAYFARING MAN ALSO                          232
    XXIII  HERE GRANT ADAMS DISCOVERS HIS INSIDES      241
     XXIV  IN WHICH THE DEVIL FORMALLY TAKES THE
           TWO HINDERMOST AND CLOSES AN ACCOUNT IN
           HIS LEDGER                                  252
      XXV  IN WHICH WE SEE TWO TEMPLES AND THE
           CONTENTS THEREOF                            264
     XXVI  DR. NESBIT STARTS ON A LONG UPWARD BUT
           DEVIOUS JOURNEY                             277
    XXVII  IN WHICH WE SEE SOMETHING COME INTO
           THIS STORY OUTSIDE OF THE MATERIAL WORLD    288
   XXVIII  WHEREIN MORTY SANDS MAKES A FEW
           SENSIBLE REMARKS IN PUBLIC                  298
     XXIX  BEING NOT A CHAPTER BUT AN INTERLUDE        309
      XXX  GRANT ADAMS PREACHING A MESSAGE OF LOVE
           RAISES THE VERY DEVIL IN HARVEY             320
     XXXI  IN WHICH JUDGE VAN DORN MAKES HIS BRAGS
           AND DR. NESBIT SEES A VISION                337
    XXXII  WHEREIN VIOLET HOGAN TAKES UP AN OLD
           TRADE AND MARGARET VAN DORN SEEKS A
           HIGHER PLANE                                350
   XXXIII  IN WHICH THE ANGELS SHAKE A FOOT FOR
           HENRY FENN                                  365
    XXXIV  A SHORT CHAPTER, YET IN IT WE EXAMINE
           ONE CANVAS HEAVEN, ONE REAL HEAVEN, AND
           TWO SNUG LITTLE HELLS                       379
     XXXV  THE OLD SPIDER BEGINS TO DIVIDE HIS
           FLIES WITH OTHERS AND GEORGE BROTHERTON
           IS PUZZLED TWICE IN ONE NIGHT               388
    XXXVI  A LONG CHAPTER BUT A BUSY ONE, IN WHICH
           KENYON ADAMS AND HIS MOTHER HAVE A
           STRANGE MEETING, AND LILA VAN DORN
           TAKES A NIGHT RIDE                          403
   XXXVII  IN WHICH WE WITNESS A CEREMONY IN THE
           TEMPLE OF LOVE                              423
  XXXVIII  GRANT ADAMS VISITS THE SONS OF ESAU         431
    XXXIX  BEING NO CHAPTER AT ALL BUT AN
           INTERMEZZO BEFORE THE LAST MOVEMENT         441
       XL  HERE WE HAVE THE FELLOW AND THE GIRL
           BEGINNING TO PREPARE FOR THE LAST
           CHAPTER                                     444
      XLI  HERE WE SEE GRANT ADAMS CONQUERING HIS
           THIRD AND LAST DEVIL                        454
     XLII  A CHAPTER WHICH IS CONCERNED LARGELY
           WITH THE LOVE AFFAIRS OF "THE FULL
           STRENGTH OF THE COMPANY"                    468
    XLIII  WHEREIN WE FIND GRANT ADAMS CALLING
           UPON KENYON'S MOTHER, AND DARKNESS
           FALLS UPON TWO LOVERS                       496
     XLIV  IN WHICH WE SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN,
           WITH GEORGE BROTHERTON, AND IN GENERAL
           CONSIDER THE HABITANTS OF THE KINGDOM       515
      XLV  IN WHICH LIDA BOWMAN CONSIDERS HER
           UNIVERSE AND TOM VAN DORN WINS ANOTHER
           VICTORY                                     527
     XLVI  WHEREIN GRANT ADAMS PREACHES PEACE AND
           LIDA BOWMAN SPEAKS HER MIND                 543
    XLVII  IN WHICH GRANT ADAMS AND LAURA VAN DORN
           TAKE A WALK DOWN MARKET STREET AND MRS.
           NESBIT ACQUIRES A LONG LOST
           GRANDSON-IN-LAW                             561
   XLVIII  WHEREIN WE ERECT A HOUSE BUILT UPON A
           ROCK                                        575
     XLIX  HOW MORTY SANDS TURNED AWAY SADLY AND
           JUDGE VAN DORN UNCOVERED A SECRET           582
        L  JUDGE VAN DORN SINGS SOME MERRY SONGS
           AND THEY TAKE GRANT ADAMS BEHIND A
           WHITE DOOR                                  597
       LI  IN WHICH WE END AS WE BEGAN AND ALL
           LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER                     609
      LII  NOT EXACTLY A CHAPTER BUT RATHER A
           Q. E. D. OR A HIC FABULA DOCET              613



IN THE HEART OF A FOOL



CHAPTER I

BEING STAGE DIRECTIONS, AND A CAST OF CHARACTERS


Sunshine and prairie grass--well in the foreground. For the background,
perhaps a thousand miles away or more than half a decade removed in
time, is the American Civil War. In the blue sky a meadow lark's love
song, and in the grass the boom of the prairie chicken's wings are the
only sounds that break the primeval silence, excepting the lisping of
the wind which dimples the broad acres of tall grass--thousand upon
thousand of acres--that stretch northward for miles. To the left the
prairie grass rises upon a low hill, belted with limestone and finally
merges into the mirage on the knife edge of the far horizon. To the
southward on the canvas the prairie grass is broken by the heavy green
foliage above a sluggish stream that writhes and twists and turns
through the prairie, which rises above the stream and meets another
limestone belt upon which the waving ripples of the unmowed grass wash
southward to the eye's reach.

Enter R. U. E. a four-ox team hauling a cart laden with a printing press
and a printer's outfit; following that are other ox teams hauling carts
laden with tents and bedding, household goods, lumber, and provisions. A
four-horse team hauling merchandise, and a span of mules hitched to a
spring wagon come crashing up through the timber by the stream. Men and
women are walking beside the oxen or the teams and are riding in the
covered wagons. They are eagerly seeking something. It is the equality
of opportunity that is supposed to be found in the virgin prairies of
the new West. The men are nearly all veterans of the late war, for the
most part bearded youngsters in their twenties or early thirties. The
women are their fresh young wives. As the procession halts before the
canvas, the men and women begin to unpack the wagons and to line out on
each side of an imaginary street in the prairie. The characters are
discovered as follows:

Amos Adams, a red-bearded youth of twenty-nine and Mary Sands, his wife.
They are printers and begin unpacking and setting up the printing
material in a tent.

Dr. James Nesbit and Bedelia Satterthwaite, his wife, in the tent beside
the Adamses.

Captain Ezra Morton, and Ruth his wife; he is selling a patent,
self-opening gate.

Ahab Wright, in side whiskers, white necktie, flannel shirt and
carefully considered trousers tucked in shiny boots.

Daniel Sands, Jane, his young wife, and Mortimer, her infant stepson.
Daniel owns the merchandise in the wagon.

Casper Herdicker, cobbler, and Brunhilde Herdicker, his wife.

Herman Müller, bearded, coarse-featured, noisy; a Pennsylvania Dutchman,
his faded, rope-haired, milk-eyed, sickly wife and Margaret, their baby
daughter.

Kyle Perry, owner of the horses and spring wagon.

Dick Bowman, Ira Dooley, Thomas Williams, James McPherson, Dennis Hogan,
a boy, laborers.

As other characters enter during the early pages of the story they shall
be properly introduced.

As the actors unload their wagons the spectators may notice above their
heads bright, beautiful and evanescent forms coming and going in and out
of being. These are the visions of the pioneers, and they are vastly
more real than the men and women themselves. For these visions are the
forces that form the human crystal.

Here abideth these three: sunshine and prairie grass and blue sky, cloud
laden. These for ages have held domain and left the scene unchanged.
When lo--at Upper Middle Entrance,--enter love! And love witched the
dreams and visions of those who toiled in the sunshine and prairie grass
under the blue sky cloud laden. And behold what they visioned in the
witchery of love, took form and spread upon the prairie in wood and
stone and iron, and became a part of the life of the Nation. Blind men
in other lands, in other times looked at the Nation and saw only wood
and stone and iron. Yet the wood and stone and iron should not have
symbolized the era in America. Rather should the dreams and visions of
the pioneers, of those who toiled under the sunshine and in the prairie
grass have symbolized our strength. For half a century later when the
world was agonizing in a death grapple with the mad gods of a crass
materialism, mankind saw rising from the wood and stone and iron that
had seemed to epitomize this Nation, a spirit which had lain hidden yet
dormant in the Nation's life--a beautiful spirit of idealism strong,
brave and humbly wise; the child of the dreams and visions and the love
of humanity that dwelled in the hearts of the pioneers of that earlier
time.

But this is looking forward. So let us go back to scene one, act one, in
those days before the sunshine was shaded, the prairie grass worn off,
and the blue sky itself was so stained and changed that the meadow-lark
was mute!

And now we are ready for the curtain: and--music please.



CHAPTER II

IN WHICH WE INTRODUCE THE FOOL AND HIS LADY FAIR AND WHAT HE SAID IN HIS
HEART--THE SAME BEING THE THEME AND THESIS OF THIS STORY


A story is a curious thing, that grows with a kind of consciousness of
its own. Time was, in its invertebrate period of gestation when this
story was to be Amos Adams's story. It was to be the story of one who
saw great visions that were realized, who had from the high gods
whispers of their plans. What a book it would have been if Amos and Mary
could have written it--the story of dreams come true. But alas, the high
gods mocked Amos Adams. Mary's clippings from the Tribune--a great
litter of them, furnished certain dates and incidents for the story.
Often when the Tribune was fresh from the press Mary and Amos would sit
together in the printing office and Mary eaten with pride would clip
from the damp paper the grandiloquent effusions of Amos that seemed to
fit into other items that were to remind them of things which they could
not print in their newspaper but which would be material for their book.
What a bundle of these clippings there is! And there was the diary, or
old-fashioned Memory Book of Mary Adams. What a pile of neatly folded
sheets covered with Mary Adams' handwriting are there on the table by
the window! What memories they revive, what old dead joys are brought to
life, what faded visions are repainted. This is to be the Book--the book
that they dreamed of in their youth--even before little Kenyon was born,
before Jasper was born, indeed before Grant was born.

But now the years have written in many things and it will not be even
their story. Indeed as life wrote upon their hearts its mysterious
legend--the legend that erased many of their noble dreams and put iron
into their souls, there is evidence in what they wrote that they thought
it would be Grant's story. Most parents think their sons will be heroes.
But their boy had to do his part in the world's rough work and before
the end the clippings and the notes in the Memory Book show that they
felt that a hero in blue overalls would hardly answer for their Book.
Then there came a time when Amos alone in his later years thought that
it might be Kenyon's story; for Kenyon now is a fiddler of fame, and
fiddlers make grand heroes. But as the clippings and the notes show
forth still another story, the Book that was to be their book and story,
may not be one man's or one woman's story. It may not be even the story
of a town; though Harvey's story is tragic enough. (Indeed sometimes it
has seemed that the story of Harvey, rising in a generation out of the
sunshine and prairie grass, a thousand flued hell, was to be the story
of the Book.) But now Harvey seems to be only a sign of the times, a
symptom of the growth of the human soul. So the Book must tell the tale
of a time and a place where men and women loved and strove and joyed or
suffered and lost or won after the old, old fashion of our race; with
only such new girdles and borders and frills in the record of their work
and play as the changing skirts of passing circumstance require. The
Book must be more than Amos Adams's or his son's or his son's son's
story or his town's, though it must be all of these. It must be the
story of many men and many women, each one working out his salvation in
his own way and all the threads woven into the divine design, carrying
along in its small place on the loom the inscrutable pattern of human
destiny. But most of all it should be the story which shall explain the
America that rose when her great day came--exultant, triumphant to the
glorious call of an ideal, arose from sordid things environing her body
and soul, and consecrated herself without stint or faltering hand to the
challenge of democracy.

In the old days--the old days when Amos Adams was young--he printed the
Harvey _Tribune_ on a hand press. Mary spread the ink upon the
types; he pulled the great lever that impressed each sheet; and as they
worked they sang about the coming of the new day. As a soldier--a
commissioned officer he had fought in the great Civil War for the truth
that should make men free. And he was sure in those elder days that the
new day was just dawning. And Mary was sure too; so the readers of the
Tribune were assured that the dawn was at hand. The editor knew that
there were men who laughed at him for his hopes. But he and Mary, his
wife, only laughed at men who were so blind that they could not see the
dawn. So for many years they kept on rallying to whatever faith or
banner or cause seemed surest in its promise of the sunrise.
Green-backers, Grangers, Knights of Labor, Prohibitionists--these two
crusaders followed all of the banners. And still there came no sunrise.
Farmers' Alliance, Populism, Free Silver--Amos marched with each
cavalcade. And was hopeful in its defeat.

And thus the years dragged on and made decades and the decades marshaled
into a generation that became an era, and a city rose around a mature
man. And still in his little office on a rickety side street, the
_Tribune_, a weekly paper in a daily town, kept pointing to the
sunrise; and Amos Adams, editor and proprietor, an old fool with the
faith of youth, for many years had a book to write and a story to
tell--a story that was never told, for it grew beyond him.

He printed the first edition of the _Tribune_ in his tent under an
elm tree in a vast, unfenced meadow that rose from the fringe of timber
that shaded the Wahoo. Volume one, number one, told a waiting world of
the formation of the town company of Harvey with Daniel Sands as
president. It was one of thousands of towns founded after the Civil
War--towns that were bursting like mushrooms through the prairie soil.
After that war in which millions of men gave their youth and myriads
gave their lives for an ideal, came a reaction. And in the decades that
followed the war, men gave themselves to an orgy of materialism. Harvey
was a part of that orgy. And the Ohio crowd, the group that came from
Elyria--the Sandses, the Adamses, Joseph Calvin, Ahab Wright, Kyle
Perry, the Kollanders[1] and all the rest except the Nesbits--were so
considerable a part of Harvey in the beginning, that probably they were
as guilty as the rest of the country in the crass riot of greed that
followed the war. They brought Amos Adams to Harvey because he was a
printer and in those halcyon days all printers were supposed to be able
to write; and he brought Mary--but did he bring Mary? He was never sure
whether he brought her or she brought him. For Mary Sands--dear, dear
Mary Sands--she had a way with her. She was not Irish for nothing, God
bless her.

Amos always tried to be fair with Daniel Sands because he was Mary's
brother; even though there was a time after he came home a young soldier
from the war and found that Daniel Sands who hired a substitute and
stayed at home, had won Esther Haley, who was pledged to Amos,--a time
when Amos would have killed Daniel Sands. That passed, Mary, Daniel's
sister, came; and for years Amos Adams bore Daniel Sands no grudge. What
has all his money done for Daniel. It has ground the joy out of him--for
one thing. And as for Esther, somewhere about Elyria, Ohio, the grass is
growing over her grave and for forty years only Mortimer, her son, with
her eyes and mouth and hair, was left in the world to remind Amos of the
days when he was stark mad; and Mary, dear, dear, Irish Mary Sands,
caught his heart upon the bounce and made him happy.

So let us say that Mary brought Amos to Harvey with the Ohio crowd, as
Daniel Sands and his followers were known, The other early settlers came
to grow up with the country and to make their independent fortunes; but
Mary and Amos came to see the sunrise. For they were sure that men and
women starting in a new world having found equality of opportunity,
would not make this new world sordid, unfair and cruel as the older
world was around them in those days.

Amos and Mary took up their homestead just south of the town on the
Wahoo, and started the Tribune, and Mary hoped the high hopes of the
Irish while Amos wrote his part of the news, set his share of the type,
ran the errands for the advertising and bragged of the town in their
editorial columns with all the faith of an Irishman by marriage.

What a fairy story the history of Harvey would be if it should be
written only as it was. For one could even begin it once upon a time.
Once upon a time, let us say, there was a land of sunshine and prairie
grass. And then great genii came and set in little white houses and new
unpainted barns, thumbed in faint green hedgerows and board fences, that
checkered in the fields lying green or brown or loam black by the
sluggish streams that gouged broad, zigzag furrows in the land. And upon
a hill that overlooked a rock-bottomed stream the genii, the spirit of
the time, sat a town. It glistened in the sunshine and when the town was
over a year old, it was so newly set in, that its great stone
schoolhouse all towered and tin-corniced, beyond the scattered outlying
residences, rose in the high, untrodden grass. The people of Harvey were
vastly proud of that schoolhouse. The young editor and his wife used to
gaze at it adoringly as they drove to and from the office morning and
evening; and they gilded the town with high hopes. For then they were in
their twenties. The population of Harvey for the most part those first
years was in its twenties also, when gilding is cheap. But thank Heaven
the gilding of our twenties is lasting.

It was into this gilded world that Grant Adams was born. Suckled behind
the press, cradled in the waste basket, toddling under hurrying feet,
Grant's earliest memories were of work--work and working lovers, and
their gay talk as they worked wove strange fancies in his little mind.

It was in those days that Amos Adams and his wife, considering the
mystery of death, tried to peer behind the veil. For Amos tables tipped,
slates wrote, philosophers, statesmen and conquerors flocked in with
grotesque advice, and all those curious phenomena that come from the
activities of the abnormal mind, appeared and astounded the visionaries
as they went about their daily work. The boy Grant used to sit, a
wide-eyed, freckled, sun-browned little creature, running his skinny
little hands through his red hair, and wondering about the unsolvable
problems of life and death.

But soon the problems of a material world came in upon Grant as the
child became a boy: problems of the wood and field, problems of the
constantly growing herd at play in water, in snow, on the ice and in the
prairie; and then came the more serious problems of the wood box, the
stable and farm. Thus he grew strong of limb, quick of hand, firm of
foot and sure of mind. And someway as he grew from childhood into
boyhood, getting hold of his faculties--finding himself physically, so
Harvey seemed to grow with him. All over the town where men needed money
Daniel Sands's mortgages were fastened--not heavily (nothing was heavy
in that day of the town's glorious youth) but surely. Dr. Nesbit's gay
ruthless politics, John Kollander's patriotism, leading always to the
court house and its emoluments, Captain Morton's inventions that never
materialized, the ever coming sunrise of the Adams--all these things
became definitely a part of the changeless universe of Harvey as Grant's
growing faculties became part of his consciousness.

And here is a mystery: the formation of the social crystal. In that
crystal the outer facets and the inner fell into shape--the Nesbits, the
Kollanders, the Adamses, the Calvins, the Mortons, and the Sandses,
falling into one group; and the Williamses, the Hogans, the Bowmans, the
McPhersons, the Dooleys and Casper Herdicker falling into another group.
The hill separated from the valley. The separation was not a matter of
moral sense; for John Kollander and Dan Sands and Joseph Calvin touched
zero in moral intelligence; and it could not have been business sense,
for Captain Morton for all his dreams was a child with a dollar, and Dr.
Nesbit never was out of debt a day in his life; without his salary from
tax-payers John Kollander would have been a charge on the county. In the
matter of industry Daniel Sands was a marvel, but Jamie McPherson
toiling all day used to come home and start up his well drill and its
clatter could be heard far into the night, and often he started it hours
before dawn. Nor could aspirations and visions have furnished the line
of cleavage; for no one could have hopes so high for Harvey as Jamie,
who sank his drill far into the earth, put his whole life, every penny
of his earnings and all his strength into the dream that some day he
would bring coal or oil or gas to Harvey and make it a great city. Yet
when he found the precious vein, thick and rich and easy to mine, Daniel
Sands and Joseph Calvin took his claim from him by chicanery as easily
as they would have robbed a blind man of a penny, and Jamie went to work
in the mines for Daniel Sands grumbling but faithful. Williams and
Dooley and Hogan and Herdicker bent at their daily tasks in those first
years, each feeling that the next day or the next month or at most the
next year his everlasting fortune would be made. And Dick Bowman, cohort
of Dr. Nesbit, many a time and oft would wash up, put on a clean suit,
and go out and round up the voters in the Valley for the Doctor's cause
and scorn his task with a hissing; for Dick read Karl Marx and dreamed
of the day of the revolution. Yet he dwelled with the sons of Essua, who
as they toiled murmured about their stolen birthright. When a decade had
passed in Harvey the social crystal was firm; the hill and the valley
were cast into the solid rock of things as they are. No one could say
why; it was a mystery. It is still a mystery. As society forms and
reforms, its cleavages follow unknown lines.

It was on a day in June--late in the morning, after Grant and Nathan
Perry--son of the stuttering Kyle of that name, had come from a cool
hour in the quiet pool down on the Wahoo and little Grant, waiting like
a hungry pup for his lunch, that was tempting him in the basket under
the typerack, was counting the moments and vaguely speculating as to
what minutes were--when he looked up from the floor and saw what seemed
to him a visitor from another world.[2]

The creature was talking to Amos Adams sitting at the desk; and Amos was
more or less impressed with the visitor's splendor. He wore exceedingly
tight trousers--checked trousers, and a coat cut grandly and
extravagantly in its fullness, a high wing collar, and a soup dish hat.
He was such a figure as the comic papers of the day were featuring as
the exquisite young man of the period.

Youth was in his countenance and lighted his black eyes. His oval,
finely featured face, his blemishless olive skin, his strong jaw and his
high, beautiful forehead, over which a black wing of hair hung
carelessly, gave him a distinction that brought even the child's eyes to
him. He was smiling pleasantly as he said,

"I'm Thomas Van Dorn--Mr. Adams, I believe?" he asked, and added as he
fastened his fresh young eyes upon the editor's, "you scarcely will
remember me--but you doubtless remember the day when father's hunting
party passed through town? Well--I've come to grow up with the country."

The editor rose, roughed his short, sandy beard and greeted the youth
pleasantly. "Mr. Daniel Sands sent me to you, Mr. Adams--to print a
professional card in your paper," said the young man. He pronounced them
"cahd" and "papuh" and smiled brightly as his quick eyes told him that
the editor was conscious of his eastern accent. While they were talking
business, locating the position of the card in the newspaper, the editor
noticed that the young man's eyes kept wandering to Mary Adams,
typesetting across the room. She was a comely woman just in her thirties
and Amos Adams finally introduced her. When he went out the Adamses
talked him over and agreed that he was an addition to the town.

Within a month he had formed a partnership with Joseph Calvin, the
town's eldest lawyer; and young Henry Fenn, who had been trying for a
year to buy a partnership with Calvin, was left to go it alone. So Henry
Fenn contented himself with forming a social partnership with his young
rival. And when the respectable Joseph Calvin was at home or considering
the affairs of the Methodist Sunday School of which he was
superintendent, young Mr. Fenn and young Mr. Van Dorn were rambling at
large over the town and the adjacent prairie, seeking such diversion as
young men in their exceedingly early twenties delight in: Mr. Riley's
saloon, the waters of the Wahoo, by moonlight, the melliferous strains
of "Larboard watch," the shot gun, the quail and the prairie chicken,
the quarterhorse, and the jackpot, the cocktail, the Indian pony, the
election, the footrace, the baseball team, the Sunday School picnic, the
Fourth of July celebration, the dining room girls at the Palace Hotel,
the cross country circus and the trial of the occasional line fence
murder case--all were divertissements that engaged their passing young
attention.

If ever the world was an oyster for a youth the world of Harvey and the
fullness thereof was an oyster to Thomas Van Dorn. He had all that the
crude western community cherished: the prestige of money, family,
education, and that indefinable grace and courtesy of body and soul that
we call charm. And Harvey people seemed to be made for him. He liked
their candor, their strength, their crass materialism, their bray and
bluster, their vain protests of democracy and their unconscious regard
for his caste and culture. So whatever there was of egoism in his nature
grew unchecked by Harvey. He was the young lord of the manor. However
Harvey might hoot at his hat and gibe at his elided R's and mock his
rather elaborate manners behind his back; nevertheless he had his way
with the town and he knew that he was the master. While those about him
worked and worried Tom Van Dorn had but to rub lightly his lamp and the
slave appeared and served him. Naturally a young man of his conspicuous
talents in his exceedingly early twenties who has the vast misfortune to
have a lamp of Aladdin to rub, asks genii first of all for girls and
girls and more girls. Then incidentally he asks for business and perhaps
for politics and may be as an afterthought and for his own comfort he
may pray for the good will of his fellows. Tom Van Dorn became known in
the vernacular as a "ladies man." It did not hurt his reputation as a
lawyer, for he was young and youth is supposed to have its follies so
long as its follies are mere follies. No one in that day hinted that Tom
Van Dorn was anything more dangerous than a butterfly. So he flitted
from girl to girl, from love affair to love affair, from heart to heart
in his gay clothes with his gay manners and his merry face. And men
smiled and women and girls whispered and boys hooted and all the world
gave the young lord his way. But when he included the dining room girls
at the Palace Hotel in his list of conquests, Dr. Nesbit began squinting
seriously at the youth and, late at night coming from his professional
visits, when the doctor passed the young fellow returning from some
humble home down near the river, the Doctor would pipe out in the night,
"Tut, tut, Tom--this is no place for you."

But the Doctor was too busy with his own affairs to assume the
guardianship of Tom Van Dorn. As Mayor of Harvey the Doctor made the
young man city attorney, thereby binding the youth to the Mayor in the
feudal system of politics and attaching all the prestige and charm and
talent of the boy to the Doctor's organization.

For Dr. Nesbit in his blithe and cock-sure youth was born to politics as
the sparks fly upward. Men looked to him for leadership and he blandly
demanded that they follow him. He was every man's friend. He knew the
whole county by its first name. The men, the women, the children, the
dogs, the horses knew him and he knew and loved them all. But in return
for his affection he expected loyalty. He was a jealous leader who
divided no honors. Seven months in the year he wore white linen clothes
and his white clad figure bustling through a crowd on Market Street on
Saturday or elbowing its way through a throng at any formal gathering,
or jogging through the night behind his sorrel mare or moving like a
pink-faced cupid, turned Nemesis in a county convention, made him a
marked man in the community. But what was more important, his
distinction had a certain cheeriness about it. And his cheeriness was
vocalized in a high, piping, falsetto voice, generally gay and nearly
always soft and kindly. It expressed a kind of incarnate good nature
that disarmed enmity and drew men to him instinctively. And underneath
his amicability was iron. Hence men came to him in trouble and he healed
their ills, cured their souls, went on their notes and took their hearts
for his own, which carried their votes for his uses. So he became calif
of Harvey.

Even deaf John Kollander who had political aspirations of a high order
learned early that his road to glory led through obedience to the
Doctor. So John went about the county demanding that the men who had
saved the union should govern it and declaring that the flag of his
country should not be trailed in the dust by vandal hands--meaning of
course by "vandal hands" the opposition candidate for register of deeds
or county clerk or for whatever county office John was asking at that
election; and at the convention John's old army friends voted for the
Doctor's slate and in the election they supported the Doctor's ticket.
But tall, deaf John Kollander in his blue army clothes with their brass
buttons and his campaign hat, always cut loose from Dr. Nesbit's
paternal care after every election. For the Doctor, after he had tucked
John away in a county office, asked only to appoint John's deputies and
that Mrs. Kollander keep out of the Doctor's office and away from his
house.

"I have no objections," the Doctor would chirrup at the ample,
good-natured Rhoda Kollander who would haunt him during John's periods
of political molting, pretending to advise with the Doctor on her
husband's political status, "to your society from May until November
every two years, Rhody, but that's enough. Now go home! Go home, woman,"
he commanded, "and look after your growing family."

And Rhoda Kollander would laugh amiably in telling it and say, "Now I
suppose some women would get mad, but law, I know Doc Jim! He doesn't
mean a thing!" Whereupon she would settle down where she was stopping
until meal time and reluctantly remain to eat. As she settled
comfortably at the table she would laugh easily and exclaim: "Now isn't
it funny! I don't know what John and the boys will have. There isn't a
thing in the house. But, law, I suppose they can get along without me
once in a lifetime." Then she would laugh and eat heartily and sit
around until the crisis at home had passed.

But the neighbors knew that John Kollander was opening a can of
something, gathering the boys around him and as they ate, recounting the
hardships of army life to add spice to an otherwise stale and
unprofitable meal. Afterward probably he would go to some gathering of
his comrades and there fight, bleed and die for his country. For he was
an incorrigible patriot. The old flag, his country's honor, and the
preservation of the union were themes that never tired him. He organized
his fellow veterans in the town and county and helped to organize them
in the state and was forever going to other towns to attend camp fires
and rallies and bean dinners and reunions where he spoke with zeal and
some eloquence about the danger of turning the country over to the
southern brigadiers. He had a set speech which was greatly admired at
the rallies and in this speech it was his wont to reach for one of the
many flags that always adorned the platform on such occasions, tear it
from its hanging and wrapping it proudly about his gaunt figure, recite
a dialogue between himself and the angel Gabriel, the burden of which
was that so long as John Kollander had that flag about him at the
resurrection, no question would be asked at Heaven's gate of one of its
defenders. Now the fact was that John Kollander was sent to the war of
the rebellion a few weeks before the surrender of Lee at Appomattox, as
Daniel Sands's paid substitute and his deafness was caused by firing an
anvil at the peace jubilee in Cincinnati, the powder on the anvil being
the only powder John Kollander ever had smelled. But his descriptions of
battle and the hardships and horrors of war were none the less vivid and
harrowing because he had never crossed the Ohio.

Those were the days when the _Tribune_ was at its zenith--the days
when Jared Thurston was employed as its foreman and Lizzie Coulter,
pretty, blue-eyed, fair-haired Lizzie Coulter helped Mary Adams to set
the type. It was not a long Day of Triumph, but while it lasted Mary and
Amos made the most of it and spoke in a grand way about "the office
force." They even had vague notions of starting a daily and many a night
Jared and Amos pored over the type samples in the advertising in Rounds
Printer's Cabinet, picked out the type they would need and the other
equipment necessary for the new venture. But it was only a dream. For
gradually Jared found Lizzie's eyes and he found more to interest him
there than in the type-book, and so the dream faded and was gone.

Also as Lizzie's eyes began to glow in his sky, Jared let his interest
lag in the talk at Casper Herdicker's shoe shop, though it was tall
talk, and Jared sitting on a keg in a corner with little Tom Williams,
the stone mason, beside him on a box, and Denny Hogan near him on a
vacant work bench and Ira Dooley on the window ledge would wrangle until
bed time many a night as Dick Bowman, wagging a warlike head, and Casper
pegging away at his shoes, tore society into shreds, smashed idols and
overturned civilization. Up to this point there was complete agreement
between the iconoclasts. They went so far together that they had no
quarrel about the route of the mob down Fifth Avenue in New York--which
Dick knew only as a legend but which Casper had seen; and they were one
in the belief that Dan Sands's bank and Wright & Perry's store should
fall early in the sack of Market Street. But when it came to
reconstructing society there was a clash that mounted to a cataclysm.
For Dick, shaking his head violently, demanded a government that should
regulate everything and Casper waving a vicious, flat-nosed hammer,
battered down all government and stood for the untrammeled and
unhampered liberty of the individual. Night after night they looted
civilization and stained the sky with their fires and the ground with
the oppressor's blood, only to sink their claws and tusks into each
other's vitals in mortal combat over the spoil.

About the time that Jared Thurston found the new stars that had ranged
across his ken, Tom Van Dorn, the handsome, cheerful, exquisite Tom Van
Dorn began to find the debates between Casper and Dick Bowman diverting.
So many a night when the society of the softer sex was either cloying or
inconvenient, the dapper young fellow would come dragging Henry Fenn
with him, to sit on a rickety chair and observe the progress of the
revolution and to enjoy the carnage that always followed the downfall of
the established order. He used to sit beside Jared Thurston who, being a
printer, was supposed to belong to the more intellectual of the crafts
and hence more appreciative than Williams or Dooley or Hogan, of his
young lordship's point of view; and as the debate waxed warm, Tom was
wont to pinch the lean leg of Mr. Thurston in lieu of the winks Tom
dared not venture. But a time came when Jared Thurston sat apart from
Van Dorn and stared coldly at him. And as Tom and Henry Fenn walked out
of the human slaughter house that Dick and Casper had made after a
particularly bloody revolt against the capitalistic system, Henry Fenn
walked for a time beside his friend looking silently at the earth while
Van Dorn mooned and star-gazed with wordy delight. Henry lifted his
face, looked at Tom with great, bright, sympathetic eyes and cut in:

"Tom--why are you playing with Lizzie Coulter? She is not in your class
or of your kind. What's your idea in cutting in between Jared and her;
you'll only make trouble."

A smile, a gay, happy, and withal a seductive smile lit up the handsome,
oval face of young Mr. Van Dorn. The smile became a laugh, a quiet,
insinuating, good-natured, light-hearted laugh. As he laughed he
replied:

"Lizzie's all right, Henry--don't worry about Lizzie." Again he laughed
a gentle, deep-voiced chuckle, and held up his hand in the moonlight. A
brown scab was lined across the back of the hand and as Henry saw it Van
Dorn spoke: "Present from Lizzie--little pussy." Again he chuckled and
added, "Nearly made the horse run away, too. Anyway," he laughed
pleasantly, "when I left her she promised to go again."

But Henry Fenn returned to his point: "Tom," he cried, "don't play with
Lizzie--she's not your kind, and it's breaking Jared's heart. Can't you
see what you're doing? You'll go down there a dozen times, make love to
her, hold her hand and kiss her and go away and pick up another girl.
But she's the whole world and Heaven to boot for Jared. She's his one
little ewe lamb, Tom. And she'd be happy with Jared if--"

"If she wants Jared she can have him. I'm not holding her," interrupted
the youth. "And anyway," he exclaimed, "what do I owe to Jared and what
do I owe to her or to any one but myself!"

Fenn did not answer at once. At length he broke the silence. "Well, you
heard what I said and I didn't smile when I said it."

But Tom Van Dorn did smile as he answered, a smile of such sweetness,
and of such winning grace that it sugar-coated his words.

"Henry," he cried in his gay, deep voice with the exuberance of youth
ringing in it, "the world is mine. You know what I think about this
whole business. If Lizzie doesn't want me to bother her she mustn't have
such eyes and such hair and such lips. In this life I shall take what I
find that I can get. I'm not going to be meek nor humble nor patient,
nor forgiving and forbearing and I'm not going to refrain from a mutton
roast because some one has a ewe lamb."

He put a warm, kind, brotherly hand on the shoulder beside him.
"Shocked, aren't you, Henry?" he asked, laughing.

Henry Fenn looked up with a gentle, glowing smile on his rather dull
face and returned, "No, Tom. Maybe you can make it go, but I couldn't."

"Well, I can. Watch me," he cried arrogantly. "Henry, I want the
advantage of my strength in this world and I'm not going to go puling
around, golden-ruling and bending my back to give the weak and worthless
a ride. Let 'em walk. Let 'em fall. Let 'em rot for all I care. I'm not
afraid of their God. There is no God. There is nature. Up to the place
where man puts on trousers it's a battle of thews and teeth. And nature
never intended pants to mark the line where she changes the order of
things. And the servile, weakling, groveling, charitable, cowardly
philosophy of Christ--it doesn't fool me, Henry. I'm a pagan and I want
the advantage of all the force, all the power, that nature gave me, to
live life as a dangerous, exhilarating experience. I shall live life to
the full--live it hard--live it beautifully, but live it! live it!
Henry, live it like a gentleman and not like an understrapper and
bootlicker! I intend to command, not obey! Rule, not serve! I shall take
and not give--not give save as it pleases me to have my hand licked now
and then! As for Lizzie and Jared," young Mr. Van Dorn waved a gay hand,
"let them look out for themselves. They're not my worries!"

"But, Tom," remonstrated Henry as he looked at the ground, "it's nothing
to me of course, but Lizzie--"

"Ah, Henry," Van Dorn laughed gayly, "I'm not going to hurt Lizzie.
She's good fun: that's all. And now look here, Mr. Preacher--you come
moralizing around me about what I'm doing to some one else, which after
all is not my business but hers; and I'm right here to tell you, what
you're doing to yourself, and that's your business and no one's else.
You're drinking too much. People are talking about it. Quit it! Whisky
never won a jury. In the Morse case you loaded up for your speech and I
beat you because in all your agonizing about the wrong to old man Müller
and his 'pretty brown-eyed daughter' as you called her, you forgot slick
and clean the flaw in Morse's deed."

"I suppose you're right, Tom. But I was feeling kind of off that day,
mother'd been sick the night before and--"

"And so you filled up with a lot of bad whisky and driveled and wept and
stumbled through the case and I beat you. I tell you, Henry, I keep
myself fit. I have no time to look after others. My job is myself and
you'll find that unless you look after yourself no one else will, at
least whisky won't. If I find girling is beating me in my law cases I
quit girling. But it doesn't. Lord, man, the more I know of human
nature, the more I pick over the souls of these country girls and blow
open the petals of their pretty hearts, the wiser I am."

"But the girls, Tom--the girls--" protested the somber-eyed Mr. Fenn.

"Ah, I don't hurt 'em and they like it. And so long as your whisky
hamestrings you and my girls give me what I need in my business--don't
talk to me."

Tom Van Dorn left Fenn at his mother's door and as Fenn saw his friend
turn toward the south he called, "Aren't you going to your room?"

"Why, it's only eleven o'clock," answered Van Dorn. To the inquiring
silence Van Dorn called, "I'm going down to see Lizzie."

Henry Fenn stood looking at his friend, who explained: "That's all
right. I said I'd be down to-night and she'll wait."

"Well--" said Fenn. But Van Dorn cut him short with "Now, Henry, I can
take care of myself. Lizzie can take care of herself--and you're the
only one of us who, as I see it, needs careful nursing!" And with that
he went striding away.

And three hours later when the moon was waning in the west a girl
sitting by her window gazed at the red orb and dreamed beautiful dreams,
such as a girl may dream but once, of the prince who had come to her so
gloriously. While the prince strolled up the street with his coat over
his arm, his hat in his hand, letting the night wind flutter the raven's
wing of hair on his brow, and as he went he laughed to himself softly
and laughed and laughed. For are we not told of old to put not our trust
in princes!

[Footnote 1: The reader may be interested in seeing one of Mary Adams's
clippings with a note attached. Here is one concerning Mrs. John
Kollander. The clipping from the Harvey _Tribune_ of June, 1871,
reads:

"Mrs. Rhoda Byrd Kollander arrived to-day from Elyria, Ohio. It is her
first visit to Harvey and she was greeted by her husband, Hon. John
Kollander, Register of Deeds of Greeley County, with a handsome new home
in Elm Street."

Then under it is this note:

"Of all the women of the Elyria settlers, Rhoda Kollander would not come
with us and face the hardships of pioneer life; but she made John come
out, get an office and build her a cabin before she would come. Rhoda
will not be happy as an angel unless they have rocking chairs in
Heaven."]

[Footnote 2: Let us read Mary Adams's clipping and note on the arrival
of young Thomas Van Dorn in Harvey. The clipping which is from the local
page of the paper reads:

"Thomas Van Dorn, son of the late General Nicholas Van Dorn of
Schenectady, New York, has located in Harvey for the practice of law and
his advertising card appears elsewhere. Mr. Van Dorn is a Yale man and a
law graduate of that school as well as an alumnus of the college. As a
youth with his father young Thomas stopped in Harvey the day the town
was founded. He was a member of the hunting party organized by Wild Bill
which under General Van Dorn's patronage escorted the Russian Grand Duke
Alexis over this part of the state after buffalo and wild game. Mr.
Thomas Van Dorn remembers the visit well, and old settlers will recall
the fact that Daniel Sands that day sold for $100 in gold to the General
the plot now known as Van Dorn's addition to Harvey. Mr. Thomas Van Dorn
still has the deed to the plot and will soon put the lots on the market.
He was a pleasant caller at the _Tribune_ office this week. Come
again, say we."

And upon a paper whereon the clipping is pasted is this in Mary Adams's
hand:

"The famous Van Dorn baby! How the years have flown since the scandal of
his mother's elopement and his father's duel with Sir Charles shook two
continents. What an old rake the General was. And the boy's mother after
two other marriages and a sad period on the variety stage died alone in
penury! And Amos says that the General was so insolent to his men in the
war, that he dared not go into action with them for fear they would
shoot him in the back. Yet the boy is as lovely and gentle a creature as
one could ask to meet. This is as it should be."]



CHAPTER III

IN WHICH WE CONSIDER THE LADIES--GOD BLESS 'EM!


During those years in the late seventies and the early eighties, the
genii on the Harvey job grunted and grumbled as they worked, for the
hours were long and tedious and the material was difficult to handle.
Kyle Perry's wife died, and it was all the genii could do to find him a
cook who would stay with him and his lank, slab-sided son, and when the
genii did produce a cook--the famous Katrina, they wished her on Kyle
and the boy for life, and she ruled them with an iron rod. And to even
things up, they let Kyle stutter himself into a partnership with Ahab
Wright--though Kyle was trying to tell Ahab that they should have a
partition in their stable. But partition was too much of a mouthful and
poor Kyle fell to stuttering on it and found himself sold into bondage
for life by the genii, dispensing nails and cod-fish and calico as
Ahab's partner, before Kyle could get rid of the word partition.

The genii also had to break poor Casper Herdicker's heart--and he had
one, and a big one, despite his desire for blood and plunder; and they
broke it when his wife Brunhilde deserted the hearthstone back of the
shoe-shop, rented a vacant store room on Market Street and went into the
millinery way of life. And it wasn't enough that the tired genii had to
gouge out the streets of Harvey; to fill in the gulleys and ravines; to
dab in scores of new houses; to toil and moil over the new hotel,
witching up four bleak stories upon the prairie. It wasn't enough that
they had to cast a spell on people all over the earth, dragging
strangers to Harvey by trainloads; it wasn't enough that the overworked
genii should have to bring big George Brotherton to town with the
railroad--and he was load enough for any engine; his heart itself
weighed ten stone; it wasn't enough that they had to find various and
innumerable contraptions for Captain Morton to peddle, but there was Tom
Van Dorn's new black silk mustache to grow, and to be oiled and curled
daily; so he had to go to the Palace Hotel barber shop at least once
every day, and passing the cigar counter, he had to pass by Violet
Mauling--pretty, empty-faced, doll-eyed Violet Mauling at the cigar
stand. And all the long night and all the long day, the genii, working
on the Harvey job, cast spells, put on charms, and did their deepest
sorcery to take off the power of the magic runes that young Tom's black
art were putting upon her; and day after day the genii felt their
highest potencies fail. So no wonder they mumbled and grumbled as they
bent over their chores. For a time, the genii had tried to work on Tom
Van Dorn's heart after he dropped Lizzie Coulter and sent her away on a
weary life pilgrimage with Jared Thurston, as the wife of an itinerant
editor; but they found nothing to work on under Tom's cigar holder--that
is, nothing in the way of a heart. There was only a kind of public
policy. So the genii made the public policy as broad and generous as
they could and let it go at that.

Tom Van Dorn and Henry Fenn rioted in their twenties. John Hollander
saved a bleeding country, pervaded the courthouse and did the housework
at home while Rhoda, his wife, who couldn't cook hard boiled eggs,
organized the French Cooking Club. Captain Ezra Morton spent his mental
energy upon the invention of a self-heating molasses spigot, which he
hoped would revolutionize the grocery business while his physical energy
was devoted to introducing a burglar proof window fastener into the
proud homes that were dotting the tall grass environs of Harvey. Amos
Adams was hearing rappings and holding-high communion with great spirits
in the vasty deep. Daniel Sands, having buried his second wife, was
making eyes at a third and spinning his financial web over the town. Dr.
and Mrs. Nesbit were marvelling at the mystery of a child's soul, a
maiden's soul, reaching out tendril after tendril as the days made
years. The Dick Bowman's were holding biennial receptions to the little
angels who came to the house in the Doctor's valise--and welcomed,
hilariously welcomed babies they were--welcomed with cigars and free
drinks at Riley's saloon by Dick, and in awed silence by Lida, his
wife--welcomed even though the parents never knew exactly how the
celestial guests were to be robed and harped; while the Joe Calvins of
proud Elm Street, opulent in an eight room house, with the town's one
bath tub, scowled at the angels who kept on coming nevertheless--for
such is the careless and often captious way of angels that come to the
world in the doctor's black bag--kept on coming to the frowning house of
Calvin as frequently and as idly as they came to the gay Bowmans.
Looking back on those days a generation later, it would seem as if the
whole town were a wilderness of babies. They came on the hill in Elm
Street, a star-eyed baby named Ann even came to the Daniel Sandses, and
a third baby to the Ezra Mortons and another to the Kollanders (which
gave Rhoda an excuse for forming a lifelong habit of making John serve
her breakfast in bed to the scorn of Mrs. Nesbit and Mrs. Herdicker who
for thirty years sniffed audibly about Rhoda's amiable laziness) and the
John Dexters had one that came and went in the night. But down by the
river--there they came in flocks. The Dooleys, the McPhersons, the
Williamses and the hordes of unidentified men and women who came to saw
boards, mix mortar, make bricks and dig--to them the kingdom of Heaven
was very near, for they suffered little children and forbade them not.
And also, because the kingdom was so near--so near even to homes without
sewers, homes where dirt and cold and often hunger came--the children
were prone to hurry back to the Kingdom discouraged with their little
earthly pilgrimages. For those who had dragged chains and hewed wood and
drawn water in the town's first days seemed by some specific gravity of
the social system to be holding their places at those lower
levels--always reaching vainly and eagerly, but always reaching a little
higher and a little further from them for that equality of opportunity
which seemed to lie about them that first day when the town was born.

In the upper reaches of the town Henry Fenn's bibulous habits became
accepted matters to a wider and wider circle and Tom Van Dorn still had
his way with the girls while the town grinned at the two young men in
gay reproval. But Amos Adams through his familiar spirits got solemn,
cryptic messages for the young men--from Tom's mother and Henry's
father. Amos, abashed, but never afraid, used to deliver these messages
with incidental admonitions of his own--kind, gentle and gorgeously
ineffective. Then he would return to his office with a serene sense of a
duty well done, and meet and feast upon the eyes of Mary, his wife,
keen, hungry eyes, filled with more or less sinful pride in his
strength.

No defeat that ever came to Amos Adams, and because he was born out of
his time, defeat was his common portion, and no contumely ever was his
in a time when men scorned the evidence of things not seen, no failure,
no apparent weakness in her husband's nature, ever put a tremor in her
faith in him. For she knew his heart. She could hear his armor clank and
see it shine; she could feel the force and the precision of his lance
when all the world of Harvey saw only a dreamer in rusty clothes,
fumbling with some stupid and ponderous folly that the world did not
understand. The printing office that Mary and Amos thought so grand was
really a little pine shack, set on wooden piers on a side street. Inside
in the single room, with the rough-coated walls above the press and
type-cases covered with inky old sale bills, and specimens of the
_Tribune's_ printing--inside the office which seemed to Mary and
Amos the palace of a race of giants, others saw only a shabby, inky,
little room, with an old fashioned press and a jobber among the type
racks in the gloom to the rear. Through the front window that looked
into a street filled with loads of hay and wood, and with broken wagons,
and scrap iron from a wheelwright's shop, Amos Adams looked for the
everlasting sunrise, and Mary saw it always in his face.

But this is idling; it is not getting on with the Book. A score of men
and women are crowding up to these pages waiting to get into the story.
And the town of Harvey, how it is bursting its bounds, how it is
sprawling out over the white paper, tumbling its new stores and houses
and gas mains and water pipes all over the table; with what a clatter
and clamor and with what vain pride! Now the pride of those years in
Harvey came with the railroad, and here, pulling at the paper, stands
big George Brotherton with his ten stone heart. He has been sputtering
and nagging for a dozen pages to swing off the front platform of the
first passenger car that came to town. He was a fat, overgrown youth in
his late teens, but he wore the uniform of a train newsboy, and any
uniform is a uniform. His laugh was like the crash of worlds--and it is
to-day after thirty years. When the road pushed on westward Brotherton
remained in Harvey and even though the railroad roundhouse employed five
hundred men and even though the town's population doubled and then
trebled, still George Brotherton was better than everything else that
the railroad brought. He found work in a pool and billiard hall; but
that was a pent-up Utica for him and his contracted powers sent him to
Daniel Sands for a loan of twenty-five dollars. The unruffled exterior,
the calm impudence with which the boy waived aside the banker's request
for a second name on George's note, and the boy's obvious eagerness to
be selling something, secured the money and established him in a cigar
store and news stand. Within a year the store became a social center
that rivaled Riley's saloon and being near the midst of things in
business, attracted people of a different sort from those who frequented
Casper Herdicker's debating school in the shoe shop. To the cigar stand
by day came Dr. Nesbit with his festive but guileful politics, Joe
Calvin, Amos Adams, stuttering Kyle Perry, deaf John Kollander,
occasionally Dick Bowman, Ahab Wright in his white necktie and formal
garden whiskers, Rev. John Dexter and Captain Morton; while by night the
little store was a forum for young Mortimer Sands, for Tom Van Dorn, for
Henry Fenn, for the clerks of Market Street and for such gay young
blades as were either unmarried or being married were brave enough to
break the apron string. For thirty years, nearly a generation, they have
been meeting there night after night and on rainy days, taking the world
apart and putting it together again to suit themselves. And though
strangers have come into the council at Brotherton's, Captain Morton
remains dean. And though the Captain does not know it, being corroded
with pride, there still clings about the place a tradition of the day
when Captain Morton rode his high wheeled bicycle, the first the town
ever had seen, in the procession to his wife's funeral. They say it was
the Captain's serene conviction that his agency for the
bicycle--exclusive for five counties--would make him rich, and that it
was no lack of love and respect for his wife but rather an artist's
pride in his work as the distributor of a long-felt want which perched
Ezra Morton on that high wheel in the funeral procession. For Mary Adams
who knew, who was with the stricken family when death came, who was in
the lonely house when the family came home from the cemetery, says that
Ezra's grief was real. Surely thirty years of singlehearted devotion to
the three motherless girls should prove his love.

Those were gala days for Captain Morton; the whole universe was
flowering in his mind in schemes and plans and devices which he hoped to
harness for his power and glory. And the forensic group at Mr.
Brotherton's had much first hand information from the Captain as to the
nature of his proposed activities and his prospective conquests. And
while the Captain in his prime was surveying the world that was about to
come under his domain the house of Adams, little and bleak and poor,
down near the Wahoo on the homestead which the Adamses had taken in the
sixties became in spite of itself, a gay and festive habitation.
Childhood always should make a home bright and there came a time when
the little house by the creek fairly blossomed with young faces. The
children of the Kollanders, the Perrys, the Calvins, the Nesbits, and
the Bowmans--girls and boys were everywhere and they knew all times and
seasons. But the red poll and freckled face of Grant Adams was the
center of this posy bed of youth.

Grant was a shrill-voiced boy, impulsive and passionately generous and
all but obsessed with a desire to protect the weak. Whether it was bug,
worm or dog, or hunted animal or bullied child or drunken man,
fly-swarmed and bedeviled of boys in the alley, or a little girl teased
by her playmates, Grant--fighting mad, came rushing in to do battle for
the victim. Yet he was no anemic child of ragged nerves. His fist went
straight when he fought, and landed with force. His eyes saw accurately
and his voice carried terror in it.

He was a vivid youth, and without him the place down by the river would
have been bleak and dreary. But because Grant was in the world, the
rusty old phaëton in which Amos and Mary rode daily from the farm to
their work, gradually bedecked itself with budding childhood blooming
into youth, and it was no longer drab and dusty, but a veritable chariot
of life. When Grant was a sturdy boy of eight, little Jasper Adams came
into this big bewildering world. And after Grant and his gardenful of
youth were gone, Jasper's garden followed. And there was a short season
when the two gardens were growing together. It was in that season while
Grant was just coming into shoeblacking and paper collars, that in some
indefinite way, Laura Nesbit, daughter of the Doctor and Bedelia
Satterthwaite, his blue blooded Maryland wife, separated herself from
the general beauty of the universe and for Grant, Laura became a
particular person. In Mary Adams's note book she writes with maternal
pride of his fancy for Laura: "It is the only time in Grant's life when
he has looked up instead of down for something to love." And the mother
sets down a communication from Socrates through the planchette to Amos,
declaring that "Love is a sphere center"--a message which doubtless the
fond parents worked into tremendous import for their child. Though a
communication from some anonymous sage called the Peach Blow
Philosopher, who began haunting Amos as a familiar spirit about this
time recorded the oracle, also carefully preserved by Mary in her book
among the prophecies for Grant that, "Carrots, while less fragrant than
roses, are better for the blood." And while the cosmic forces were
wrestling with these problems for Grant and Laura, the children were
tripping down their early teens all innocent of the uproar they were
making among the sages and statesmen and conquerors who flocked about
the planchette board for Amos every night. For Laura, Grant carved tiny
baskets from peach-pits and coffee beans; for her he saved red apples
and candy globes that held in their precious insides gorgeous pictures;
for her he combed his hair and washed his neck; for her he scribbled
verses wherein eyes met skies, and arts met hearts, and beams met dreams
and loves the doves.

The joy of first love that comes in early youth--and always it does come
then, though it is not always confessed--is a gawky and somewhat guilty
joy that spends itself in sighs and blushes and Heaven knows what of
self-discovery. Thus Grant in Laura's autograph album after all his
versifying on the kitchen table could only write "Truly Yours" and leave
her to define the deep significance of the phrase so obviously inverted.
And she in his autograph album could only trust herself--though
naturally being female she was bolder--to the placid depths of "As ever
your friend." Though in lean, hungry-eyed Nathan Perry's book she burst
into glowing words of deathless remembrance and Grant wrote in Emma
Morton's album fervid stanzas wherein "you" rimed with "the wandering
Jew" and "me" with "eternity." At school where the subtle wisdom of
childhood reads many things not writ in books, the names of Grant and
Laura were linked together, in the innocent gossip of that world.

They say that modern thought deems these youthful experiences dangerous
and superfluous; and so probably they will end, and the joy of this
earliest mating season will be bottled up and stored for a later
maturity. God is wise and good. Doubtless some new and better thing will
take the place of this first moving of the waters of life in the heart;
but for us of the older generation that is beginning to fade, we are
glad that untaught and innocent, our lips tasted from that spring when
in the heart was no knowledge of the poison that might come with the
draft.

A tall, shy, vivid girl, but above everything else, friendly, was Laura
Nesbit in her middle teens; and though Grant in later years remembered
her as having wonderful gray eyes, the elder town of Harvey for the most
part recollects her only as a gay and kindly spirit looking out into the
world through a happy, inquiring face. But the elder town could not in
the nature of things know Laura Nesbit as the children knew her. For the
democracy of childhood has its own estimates of its own citizens and the
children of Harvey--the Dooleys and the Williamses and the Bowmans as
well as the Calvins, the Mortons, the Sandses and the Kollanders,
remember Laura Nesbit for something more than her rather gawky body. To
the children, she was a bright soul. They remember--and the Bowmans
better than any one else--that Laura Nesbit shared what she had with
every one. She never ate a whole stick of candy in her life. From her
school lunch-basket, the Dooleys had their first oranges and the
Williamses their first bananas. Apples for the Bowmans and maple
sugar--a rare delicacy on the prairies in those days--for every one came
from her wonderful basket. And though her mother kept Laura in white
aprons when the other girls were in ginghams and in little red and black
woolen, though the child's wonderful yellow hair, soft and wavy like her
father's plumey roach, was curled with great care and much pride, it was
her mother's pride--the grim Satterthwaite demand for caste in any
democracy. But even with those caste distinctions there was the face
that smiled, the lips that trembled in sympathy, the heart that felt the
truth.

"Jim," quoth the mother on a day when the yard was full of Dooleys and
Bowmans and Calvins--Calvins, whom Mrs. Nesbit regarded as inferior even
to the Dooleys because of the vast Calvin pretense--"Jim, Laura has
inherited that common Indiana streak of yours. I can't make her a
Satterthwaite--she's Indiana to the bone. Why, when I go to town with
her, every drayman and ditch digger and stableman calls to her, and the
yard is always full of their towheaded children. I'll give her up."

And the Doctor gurgled a chuckle and gave her up also.

She always came with her father to the Adamses on Sunday afternoons, and
while the Doctor and Amos Adams on the porch went into the matter of the
universe as either a phantasm superinduced by the notion of time, or the
notion of time as an hallucination of those who believed in space, down
by the creek Grant and Laura sitting under the oak near the silent,
green pool were feeling their way around the universe, touching shyly
and with great abasement the cords that lead from the body to the soul,
from material to the spiritual, from dust to God.

It is a queer world, a world that is past finding out. Here are two
children, touching souls in the fleetest, lightest way in the world, and
the touch welds them together forever. And along come two others, and
even as the old song has it, "after touch of wedded hands," they are
strangers yet. No one knows what makes happiness in love. Certainly
marriage is no part of it. Certainly it is not first love, for first
lovers often quarrel like cats. Certainly it is not separation, for
absence, alas, does not make the heart grow fonder; nor is it
children--though the good God knows that should help; for they are love
incarnate. Certainly it is not respect, for respect is a stale, cold
comforter, and love is deeper than respect, and often lives without
it--let us whisper the truth in shame. What, then, is this irrational
current of the stuff of life, that carries us all in its sway, that
brings us to earth, that guides our destiny here--makes so vastly for
our happiness or woe, gives us strength or makes us weak, teaches us
wisdom or leads us into folly unspeakable, and all unseen, unmeasured
and infinitely mysterious?

There was young Tom Van Dorn. Love was a pleasurable emotion, and
because it put a joyous fever in his blood, it enhanced his life. But he
never defined love; he merely lived on it. Then there was Ahab Wright
who regarded love as a kind of sin and when he married the pale,
bloodless, shadowy bookkeeper in Wright & Perry's store, he regarded the
charivari prepared by Morty Sands and George Brotherton as a shameful
rite and tried for an hour to lecture the crowd in his front yard on the
evils of unseemly conduct before he gave them an order on the store for
a bucket of mixed candy. If Ahab had defined love he would have put
cupid in side whiskers and a white necktie and set the fat little god to
measuring shingle nails, cod-fish and calico on week days and sitting
around in a tail coat and mouse-colored trousers on Sunday, reading the
_Christian Evangel_ and the _Price Current_. And again there
was Daniel Sands who married five women in a long and more or less
useful life. He would have defined love as the apotheosis of comfort.
Finally there was Henry Fenn to whom love became the compelling force of
his being. Love is many things: indeed only this seems sure. Love is the
current of our lives, and like minnows we run in schools through it,
guided by instinct and by herd suggestions; and some of us are washed
ashore; some of us are caught and devoured, and others fare forth in joy
and reach the deep.

One rainy day when the conclave in Brotherton's cigar store was weary of
discussing the quarrel of Mr. Conklin and Mr. Blaine and the
eccentricities of the old German Kaiser, the subject of love came before
the house for discussion. Dr. Nesbit, who dropped in incidentally to buy
a cigar, but primarily to see George Brotherton about some matters of
state in the Third ward, found young Tom Van Dorn stroking his new silky
mustache, squinting his eyes and considering himself generally in the
attitude of little Jack Horner after the plum episode.

"Speaking broadly," squeaked the Doctor, breaking irritably into the
talk, "touching the ladies, God bless 'em--from young Tom's angle,
there's nothing to 'em. Broad is the petticoat that leadeth to
destruction." The Doctor turned from young Van Dorn, and looked
critically at some obvious subject of Van Dorn's remarks as she picked
her way across the muddy street, showing something more than a wink of
striped stockings, "Tom, there's nothing in it--not a thing in the
world."

"Oh,--I don't know," returned the youth, wagging an impudent, though
good-natured head at the Doctor; "what else is there in the world if not
in that? The world's full of it--flowers, trees, birds, beasts, men and
women--the whole damn universe is afire with it. It's God; there is no
other God--just nature building and propagating and perpetuating
herself."

"I suppose," squeaked the Doctor with a sigh, as he reached for his
morning paper, "that if I had nothing else to do for a living except
practice law with Joe Calvin on the side and just be twenty-five years
old three hundred days in the year, and no other chores except to help
old man Sands rib up his waterworks deal, I would hold some such general
views myself. But when I was twenty-five, young man, Bedelia and I were
running a race with the meal ticket, and our notions as to the moral
government of the universe came hard and were deepset, and we can't
change them now."

George Brotherton, Henry Fenn, Captain Morton and Amos Adams came in
with a kind of Greek chorus of general agreement with the Doctor. Van
Dorn cocked his hat over his eyes and laughed, and then the Doctor went
on in his high falsetto:

"It's all right, Tom; go it while you're young. But that kind of love's
young dream generally ends in a nightmare." He hesitated a minute, and
then said: "Well, so long as we're all here in the family, I'll tell you
about a case I had last night. There's an old fellow--old Dutchman to be
exact, down in Spring township; he came here with us when we founded the
town; husky old boy, that is, he used to be fifteen years ago. And he
had Tom's notion about the ladies, God bless 'em, when he was Tom's age.
When I first knew him his notion was causing him trouble, and had
settled in one leg, and last night he died of the ladies, God bless
'em."

The Doctor's face flinched with pain, and his treble voice winced as he
spoke: "Lord, but he suffered, and to add to his physical torment, he
knew that he had to leave his daughter all alone in the world--and
without a mother and without a dollar; but that isn't the worst, and he
knew it--at the last. This being twenty-five for a living is the hardest
job on earth--when you're sixty, and the old man knew that. The girl has
missed his blood taint; she's not scarred nor disfigured. It would be
better if she were; but he gave her something worse--she's his child!"
For a moment the Doctor was silent, then he sighed deeply and shut his
eyes as he said: "Boys, for a year and more he's been seeing all that he
was, bud like a glorious poison in his daughter."

Van Dorn smiled, and asked casually, "Well, what's her name?" The rest
of the group in the store looked down their noses and the Doctor, with
his paper under his arm, obviously ignored the question and only stopped
in the door to pipe out: "This wasn't the morning to talk to me of the
ladies--God bless 'em."

The men in the store watched him as he started across the street, and
then saw Laura skip gayly toward him, and the two, holding hands,
crossed the muddy street together. She was laughing, and the joy of her
soul--a child's soul, shone like a white flame in the dull street and
George Brotherton, who saw the pair in the street, roared out: "Well,
say--now isn't that something worth looking at? That beats Niagara Falls
and Pike's Peak--for me."

Captain Morton looked at the gay pair attentively for a moment and
spoke: "And I have three to his one; I tell you, gentlemen--three to his
one; and I guess I haven't told you gentlemen about it, but I got the
exclusive agency for seven counties for Golden's Patent Self-Opening
Fruit Can, an absolute necessity for every household, and in another
year my three will be wearing their silks and diamonds!" He smiled
proudly around the group and added: "My! that doesn't make any
difference. Silk or gingham, I know I've got the best girls on
earth--why, if their mother could just see 'em--see how they're
unfolding--why, Emma can make every bit as good hash as her mother," a
hint of tears stood in his blue eyes. "Why--men, I tell you sometimes I
want to die and go right off to Heaven to tell mother all the fine news
about 'em--eh?" Deaf John Kollander, with his hand to his less affected
ear, nodded approval and said, "That's what I always said, James G.
Blaine never was a true friend of the soldier!"

Van Dorn had been looking intently at nothing through the store window.
When no one answered Captain Morton, Van Dorn addressed the house rather
impersonally:

"Man is the blindest of the mammals. You'd think as smart a man as Dr.
Nesbit would see his own vices. Here he is mayor of Harvey, boss of the
town. He buys men with Morty's father's money and sells 'em in politics
like sheep--not for his own gain; not for his family's gain; but just
for the joy of the sport; just as I follow the ladies, God bless 'em;
and yet he stands up and reads me a lecture on the wickedness of a
little more or less innocent flirting." The young man lighted his cigar
at the alcohol flame on the counter. "Morty," he continued, squinting
his eyes and stroking his mustache, and looking at the boy with vast
vanity, "Morty, do you know what your old dad and yon virtuous Nesbit
pasha are doing? Well, I'll tell you something you didn't learn at
military school. They're putting up a deal by which we've voted one
hundred thousand dollars' worth of city bonds as bonus in aid of a
system of city water works and have given them to your dad outright, for
putting in a plant that he will own and control; and that he will build
for seventy-five thousand dollars." Van Dorn smiled a placid, malevolent
smile at the group and went on: "And the sheik of the village there
helped Daniel Sands put it through; helped him buy me as city attorney,
with your father's bank's legal business; helped buy Dick Bowman, poor
devil with a houseful of children for a hundred dollars for his vote in
the council, helped work George here for his vote in the council by
lending money to him for his business; and so on down the line. The Doc
calls that politics, and regards it as one of his smaller vices; but
me?" scoffed the young man, "when I go gamboling down the primrose path
of dalliance with a lady on each arm--or maybe more, I am haled before
the calif and sentenced to his large and virtuous displeasure.
Man,"--here young Mr. Van Dorn drummed his fingers on the showcase and
considered the universe calmly through the store window--"man is the
blindest of mammals." After which smiling deliverance, Thomas Van Dorn
picked up his morning paper, and his gloves, and stalked with some
dignity into the street.

"Well, say,"--Brotherton was the first to speak--"rather cool--"

"Shame, shame!" cried John Kollander, as he buttoned up his blue coat
with its brass buttons. "Where was Blaine when the bullets were
thickest? Answer me that." No one answered, but Captain Morton began:

"Now, George, why, that's all right. Didn't the people vote the bonds
after you fellows submitted 'em? Of course they did. The town wanted
waterworks; Daniel Sands knew how to build 'em--eh? The people couldn't
build 'em themselves, could they?" asked the Captain triumphantly.
Brotherton laughed; Morty Sands grinned,--and, shame be to Amos Adams,
the rugged Puritan, who had opposed the bonds in his paper so boldly, he
only shook a sorrowful head and lifted no voice in protest. Such is the
weakness of our thunderers without their lightning! Brotherton, who
still seemed uneasy, went on: "Say, men, didn't that franchise call for
a system of electric lights and gas in five years and a telephone system
in ten years more--all for that $100,000; I'm right here to tell you we
got a lot for our money."

Again Amos Adams swallowed his Adam's apple and cut in as boldly as a
man may who thinks with his lead pencil: "And don't forget the street
car franchises you gave away at the same time. Water, light, gas,
telephone and street car franchises for fifty years and one hundred
thousand to boot! It seemed to me you were giving away a good deal!"

But John Kollander's approving nod and George Brotherton's great laugh
overcame the editor, and the talk turned to other things.

There came a day in Harvey when men, looking back at events from the
perspective of another day, believed that in those old days of Harvey,
Daniel Sands was master and Dr. Nesbit was servant. And there was much
evidence to indicate that Daniel's was the master spirit of those early
times. But the evidence was merely based on facts, and facts often are
far from the truth. The truth is that Daniel Sands was the beneficiary
of much of the activity of Doctor Nesbit in those days, but the truth is
also that Doctor Nesbit did what he did--won the county seat for Harvey,
secured the railroad, promoted the bond election, which gave Daniel
Sands the franchises for the distribution of water, gas and
electricity--not because the Doctor had any particular regard for Daniel
Sands but because, first of all, the good of the town, as the Doctor saw
it, seemed to require him to act as he acted; and second, because his
triumph at any of these elections meant power, and he was greedy for
power. But he always used his power to make others happy. No man ever
came to the Doctor looking for work that he could not find work for that
man. Men in ditches, men on light poles, men in the court house, men at
Daniel Sands's furnaces, men grading new streets, men working on city or
county contracts knew but one source of authority in Harvey, and that
was Doctor James Nesbit. Daniel Sands was a mere money grubbing incident
of that power. Daniel could have won no one to vote with him; the county
seat would have gone to a rival town, the railroad would not have veered
five miles out of its way to reach Harvey, and a dozen promoters would
have wrangled for a dozen franchises but for Dr. Nesbit.

And if Dr. Nesbit made it his business to see that Dick Bowman had work,
it was somewhat because he knew how badly the little Bowmans needed
food. And if he saw to it that Dick's vote in the council occasionally
yielded him a substantial return from those whom that vote benefited so
munificently, it was partly because the Doctor felt how sorely Lida
Bowman, silently bending over her washtub, needed the little comforts
which the extra fifty-dollar bill would bring that Dick sometimes found
in his monthly pay envelope. And if the Doctor saw to it that Ira Dooley
was made foreman of the water works gang, or that Tom Williams had the
contract for the stone work on the new court house, it was largely in
payment for services rendered by Ira and Tom in bringing in the Second
Ward for John Kollander for county clerk. The rewards of Ira and Tom in
working for the Doctor were virtue's own; and if re-marking a hundred
ballots was part of that blessed service, well and good. And also it
must be recorded that the foremanship and the stone contract were
somewhat the Doctor's way of showing Mrs. Dooley and Mrs. Williams that
he wished them well.

Doctor Nesbit's scheme of politics included no punishments for his
enemies, and he desired every one for his friend. The round, pink face,
the high-roached, yellow hair, the friendly, blue eyes, had no place for
hate in them, and in the high-pitched, soft voice was no note of terror
to evil doers. His countenance did not betray his power; that was in his
tireless little legs, his effective hands, and his shrewd brain motived
by a heart too kind for the finer moral distinctions that men must make
who go far in this world. Yet because he had a heart, a keen mind, even
without much conscience, and a vision larger than those about him, Dr.
Nesbit was their leader. He did not move in a large sphere, but in his
small sphere he was the central force, the dominating spirit. And off in
a dark corner, Daniel Sands, who was hunger incarnate and nothing more,
spun his web, gathered the dust and the flies and the weaker insects and
waxed fat. To say that his mind ruled Dr. Nesbit's, to say that Daniel
Sands was master and Dr. Nesbit servant in those first decades of
Harvey--whatever the facts may seem in those later days--is one of those
ornately ridiculous travesties upon the truth that facts sometimes are
arranged to make. But how little did they know what they were building!
For they and their kind all over America working in the darkness of
their own selfish desires, were laying footing stones--quite substantial
yet necessary--for the structure of a growing civilization which in its
time, stripped of its scaffolding and extraneous débris, was to stand
among the nations of the earth as a tower of righteousness in a stricken
world.



CHAPTER IV

THE ADAMS FAMILY BIBLE LIES LIKE A GENTLEMAN


How light a line divides comedy from tragedy! When the ass speaks, or
the man brays, there is comedy. Yet fate may stop the mouth of either
man or ass, and in the dumb struggle for voice, if fate turns the screws
of destiny upon duty, there is tragedy. Only the consequences of a day
or a deed can decide whether it shall have the warm blessing of our
smiles or the bitter benediction of our tears.

This, one must remember in reading the chapter of this story that shall
follow. It is the close of the story to which Mary Adams, with her
memory book and notes and clippings, has contributed much. For of the
pile of envelopes all numbered in their order; the one marked "Margaret
Müller" was the last envelope that she left. Now the package that
concerns Margaret Müller may not be transcribed separately but must be
woven into the woof of the tale. The package contains a clipping, a
dozen closely written pages, and a photograph--a small photograph of a
girl. The photograph is printed on the picture of a scroll, and the
likeness of the girl does not throb with life as it did thirty years ago
when it was taken. Then the plump, voluptuous arm and shoulders in the
front of the picture seemed to exude life and to bristle with the
temptation that lurked under the brown lashes shading her big, innocent,
brown eyes. And her hair, her wonderful brown hair that fell in a great
rope to her knees, in this photograph is hidden, and only her frizzes,
covering a fine forehead, are emphasized by the picture maker. One may
smile at the picture now, but then when it was taken it told of the red
of her lips and the pink of her flesh, and the dimples that forever went
flickering across her face. In those days, the old-fashioned picture
portrayed with great clearness the joy and charm and impudence of that
beautiful face. But now the picture is only grotesque. It proves rather
than discloses that once, when she was but a young girl, Margaret Müller
had wonderfully molded arms and shoulders, regular features and
enchanting eyes. But that is all the picture shows. In the photograph is
no hint of her mellow voice, of her eager expression and of the
smoldering fires of passion, ambition and purpose that smoked through
those gay, bewitching eyes. The old-fashioned frizzled hair on her
forehead, the obvious pose of her hand with its cheap rings, the curious
cut of her dress, made after that travesty of the prevailing mode which
country papers printed in their fashion columns, the black court-plaster
beauty spot on her cheek and the lace fichu draped over her head and
bare shoulders, all stand out like grinning gargoyles that keep much of
the charm she had in those days imprisoned from our eyes to-day. So the
picture alone is of no great service. Nor will the clipping tell much.
It only records:

    "Miss Margaret Müller, daughter of the late Herman Müller of
    Spring Township, this county, will teach school in District 18,
    the Adams District in Prospect Township, this fall and winter.
    She will board with the family of ye editor."

Now the reader must know that Margaret Müller's eyes had been turned to
Harvey as to a magnet for three years. She had chosen the Adams district
school in Prospect Township, because the Adams district school was
nearer than any other school district to Harvey; she had gone to the
Adamses to board because the little bleak house near the Wahoo was the
nearest house in the district to Harvey and to a social circle which she
desired to enter--the best that Harvey offered.

She saw Grant, a rough, ruddy, hardy lad, of her own time of life,
moving in the very center of the society she cherished in her dreams,
and Margaret had no gay inadvertence in her scheme of creation. So when
the lank, strapping, red-headed boy of a man's height, with a man's
shoulders and a child's heart, started to Harvey for high school every
morning, as she started to teach her country school, he carried with
him, beside his lunch, a definite impression that Margaret was a fine
girl. Often, indeed, he thought her an extraordinarily fine girl. Tales
of prowess he brought back from the Harvey High School, and she listened
with admiring face. For they related to youths whose names she knew as
children of the socially elect.

A part of her admiration for Grant was due to the fact that Grant had
leaped the social gulf--deep even then in Harvey--between those who
lived on the hill, and the dwellers in the bottoms near the river.

This instinctively Margaret Müller knew, also--though perhaps
unconsciously--that even if they lived in the bottoms, the Adamses were
of the aristoi; because they were friends of the Nesbits, and Mrs.
Nesbit of Maryland was the fountain head of all the social glory of
Harvey. Thus Margaret Müller of Spring Township came to camp before
Harvey for a lifetime siege, and took her ground where she could aim
straight at the Nesbits and Kollanders and Sandses and Mortons and
Calvins. With all her banners flying, banners gaudy and beautiful,
banners that flapped for men and sometimes snapped at women, she set her
forces down before Harvey, and saw the beleaguered city through the
portals of Grant's fine, wide, blue eyes, within an easy day's walk of
her own place in the world. So she hovered over Grant, played her brown
eyes upon him, flattered him, unconsciously as is the way of the female,
when it would win favor, and because she was wise, wiser than even her
own head knew, she cast upon the youth a strange spell.

Those were the days when Margaret Müller came first to early bloom. They
were the days when her personality was too big for her body, so it
flowed into everything she wore; on the tips of every ribbon at her
neck, she glowed with a kind of electric radiance. A flower in her hair
seemed as much a part of her as the turn of her cleft chin. A bow at her
bosom was vibrant with her. And to Grant even the things she touched,
after she was gone, thrilled him as though they were of her.

Now the pages that are to follow in this chapter are not written for him
who has reached that grand estate where he may feel disdain for the
feverish follies of youth. A lad may be an ass; doubtless he is. A maid
may be as fitful as the west wind, and in the story of the fitfulness
and folly of the man and the maid, there is vast pathos and pain, from
which pathos and pain we may learn wisdom. Now the strange part of this
story is not what befell the youth and the maid; for any tragedy that
befalls a youth and a maid, is natural enough and in the order of
things, as Heaven knows well. The strange part of this story is that
Mary and Amos Adams were, for all their high hopes of the sunrise, like
the rest of us in this world--only human; stricken with that
inexplicable parental blindness that covers our eyes when those we love
are most needing our care.

Yet how could they know that Grant needed their care? Was he not in
their eyes the fairest of ten thousand? They enshrined him in a kind of
holy vision. It seems odd that a strapping, pimple-faced, freckled,
red-headed boy, loudmouthed and husky-voiced, more or less turbulent and
generally in trouble for his insistent defense of his weaker
playmates--it seems odd that such a boy could be the center of such
grand dreams as they dreamed for their boy. Yet there was the boy and
there were the dreams. If he wrote a composition for school that pleased
his parents, they were sure it foretold the future author, and among her
bundle of notes for the Book, his mother has cherished the manuscript
for his complete works. If at school Friday afternoon, he spoke a piece,
"trippingly on the tongue," they harkened back over his ancestry to find
the elder Adams of Massachusetts who was a great orator. When he drove a
nail and made a creditable bobsled, they saw in him a future architect
and stored the incident for the Romance that was to be biography. When
he organized a baseball club, they saw in him the budding leadership
that should make him a ruler of men. Even Grant's odd mania to take up
the cause of the weak--often foolish causes that revealed a kind of
fanatic chivalry in him--Mary noted too; and saw the youth a mailed
knight in the Great Battle that should precede and usher in the sunrise.

Jasper was a little boy and his parents loved him dearly; but Grant, the
child of their honeymooning days, held their hearts. And so their vanity
for him became a kind of mellow madness that separated them from a
commonsense world. And here is a curious thing also--the very facts that
were making Grant a leader of his fellows should have warned Mary and
Amos that their son was setting out on his journey from the heart of his
childish paradise. He was growing tall, strong, big-voiced, with hands,
broad and muscular, that made him a baseball catcher of a reputation
wider than the school-grounds, yet he had a child's quick wit and merry
heart. Such a boy dominated the school as a matter of course, yet so
completely had his parents daubed their eyes with pride that they could
not see that his leadership in school came from the fact that a man was
rising in him--the far-casting shadow of a virility deep and significant
as destiny itself. They could not see the man's body; they saw only the
child's heart. It was natural that they should ask themselves what honor
could possibly come to the house of Adams or to any house, for that
matter, further than that which illumined it when Grant came home to
announce that he had been elected President of the senior class in the
Harvey High School and would deliver the valedictory address at
commencement. When Mary and Amos learned that news, they had indeed
found the hero for their book. After that, even his cousin, Morty Sands,
home from college for a time, little, wiry, agile, and with a face half
ferret and half angel, even Morty, who had an indefinite attachment for
glowing exuberant Laura Nesbit, felt that so long as Grant held her
attention--great, hulking, noisy, dominant Grant--even Morty arrayed in
his college clothes, like Solomon, would have to wait until the fancy
for Grant had passed. So Morty backed Grant with all his pocket money as
a ball player while he fluttered rather gayly about Ave Calvin--and
always with an effect of inadvertence.

Now if a lad is an ass--and he is--how should a poor jack be supposed to
know of the wisdom of the serpent? For we must remember that early youth
has been newly driven from the heart of that paradise wherein there is
no good and evil. He gropes in darkness as he comes nearer the gates of
his paradise, through an unchartered wilderness. But to Mary and Amos,
Grant seemed to be wandering in the very midst of his Eden. They did not
realize how he was groping and stumbling, nor could they know what a
load he carried--this ass of a lad coming toward the gate of the Garden.
In those times when he sat in his room, trying to show his soul
bashfully to Laura Nesbit as he wrote to her in Maryland at school,
Grant felt always, over and about him, the consciousness of the spell of
Margaret Müller, yet he did not know what the spell was. He wrestled
with it when finally he came rather dimly to sense it, and tried with
all the strength of his ungainly soul to be loyal to the choice of his
heart. His will was loyal, yet the smiles, the eyes, the soft tempting
face of Margaret always were near him. Furious storms of feeling swayed
him. For youth is the time of tempest. In our teens come those floods of
soul stuff through the gates of heredity, swinging open for the last
time in life, floods that bring into the world the stores of the
qualities of mind and heart from outside ourselves; floods stored in
Heaven's reservoir, gushing from the almost limitlessly deep springs of
our ancestry; floods which draw us in resistless currents to our
destinies. And so the ass, laden with this relay of life from the source
of life, that every young, blind ass brings into the world, floundered
in the flood.

Grant thought his experience was unique. Yet it is the common lot of
man. To feel his soul exposed at a thousand new areas of sense; to see a
new heaven and a new earth--strange, mysterious, beautiful, unfolding to
his eyes; to smell new scents; to hear new sounds in the woods and
fields; to look open-eyed and wondering at new relations of things that
unfold in the humdrum world about him, as he flees out of the blind
paradise of childhood; to dream new dreams; to aspire to new heights, to
feel impulses coming out of the dark that tremble like the blare of
trumpets in the soul,--this is the way of youth.

With all his loyalty for Laura Nesbit--loyalty that enshrined her as a
comrade and friend, such is the contradiction of youth that he was madly
jealous of every big boy at the country school who cast eyes at Margaret
Müller. And because she was ages older than he, she knew it; and it
pleased her. She knew that she could make all his combs and crests and
bands and wattles and spurs glisten, and he knew in some deep instinct
that when she sang the emotion in her voice was a call to him that he
could not put into words. Thus through the autumn, Margaret and Grant
were thrown together daily in the drab little house by the river. Now a
boy and a girl thrown together commonly make the speaking donkeys of
comedy. Yet one never may be sure that they may not be the dumb
struggling creatures of the tragic muse. Heaven knows Margaret Müller
was funny enough in her capers. For she related her antics--her grand
pouts, her elaborate condescensions, her crass coquetry and her hidings
and seekings--into what she called a "case." In the only wisdom she
knew, to open a flirtation was to have a "case." So Margaret ogled and
laughed and touched and ran and giggled and cried and played with her
prey with a practiced lore of the heart that was far beyond the boy's
knowledge. Grant did not know what spell was upon him. He did not know
that his great lithe body, his gripping hands, his firm legs and his
long arms that had in their sinews the power that challenged her to
wrestle when she was with him--he did not know what he meant to the girl
who was forever teasing and bantering him when they were alone. For it
was only when Margaret and Grant were alone or when no one but little
Jasper was with them, that Margaret indulged in the joys of the chase.
Yet often when other boys came to see her--the country boys from the
Prospect school district perhaps, or lorn swains trailing up from Spring
Township--Margaret did not conceal her fluttering delight in them from
Mary Adams. So the elder woman and the girl had long talks in which
Margaret agreed so entirely with Mary Adams that Mary doubted the
evidence of her eyes. And Amos in those days was much interested in
certain transcendental communications coming from his Planchette board
and purporting to be from Emerson who had recently passed over. So Amos
had no eyes for Margaret and Mary was fooled by the girl's fine speech.
Yet sometimes late at night when Margaret was coming in from a walk or a
ride with one of her young men, Mary heard a laugh--a high, hysterical
laugh--that disquieted Mary Adams in spite of all Margaret's fair
speaking. But never once did Mary connect in her mind Margaret's wiles
with Grant. Such is the blindness of mothers; such is the deep wisdom of
women!

All the while Grant floundered more hopelessly into the quicksand of
Margaret's enchantment, and when he tried to write to Laura Nesbit,
half-formed shames fluttered and flushed across his mind. So often he
sat alone for long night hours in his attic bedroom in vague agonies and
self accusations, pen in hand, trying to find honest words that would
fill out his tedious letter. Being a boy and being not entirely outside
the gate of his childish paradise, he did not understand the shadow that
was clouding his heart.

But there came one day when the gate closed and looking back, he saw the
angel--the angel with the flaming sword. Then he knew. Then he saw the
face that made the shadow and that day a great trembling came into his
soul, a blackness of unspeakable woe came over him, and he was ashamed
of the light. After that he never wrote to Laura Nesbit.

In May Margaret's school closed, and the Adamses asked her to remain
with them for the summer, and she consented rather listlessly. The busy
days of the June harvest combined with the duties of printing a
newspaper made their Sunday visits with the Nesbits irregular. It was in
July that Mrs. Nesbit asked for Margaret, and Mary Adams remembered that
Margaret, whose listlessness had grown into sullenness, had found some
excuse for being absent whenever the Nesbits came to spend the afternoon
with the Adamses. Then in August, when Amos came home one night, he saw
Margaret hurry from the front porch. He went into the house and heard
Mary and Grant sobbing inside and heard Mary's voice lifted in prayer,
with agony in her voice. It was no prayer for forgiveness nor for mercy,
but for guidance and strength, and he stepped to the bedroom and saw the
two kneeling there with Margaret's shawl over the chair where Mary
knelt. There he heard Mary tell the story of her boy's shame to her God.

Death and partings have come across that threshold during these three
decades. Amos Adams has known anguish and has sat with grief many times,
but nothing ever has cut him to the heart like the dead, hopeless woe in
Mary's voice as she prayed there in the bedroom with Grant that August
night. A terrible half-hour came when Mary and Amos talked with
Margaret. For over their shame at what their son had done, above their
love for him, even beyond their high hope for him, rose their sense of
duty to the child who was coming. For the child they spent the passion
of their shame and love and hope as they pleaded with Margaret for a
child's right to a name. But she had hardened her heart. She shook her
head and would not listen to their pleadings. Then they sent Grant to
her. It is not easy to say which was more dreadful, the impudent smile
which she turned to the parents as she shook her head at them, or the
scornful laugh they heard when Grant sat with her. That was a long and
weary night they spent and the sun rose in the morning under a cloud
that never was lifted from their hearts.

In the six or seven sordid, awful weeks that followed before Kenyon was
born, they turned for comfort and for help to Dr. Nesbit. They made his
plan to save the child's good name, their plan. Of course--the Adamses
were selfish. They felt a blight was on their boy's life. They could not
understand that in Heaven there is neither marriage nor giving in
marriage; that when God sends a soul through the gates of earth it comes
in joy even though we greet it in sorrow. Their gloom should have been
lighted; part of its blackness was their own vain pride in Grant. Yet
they were none the less tender with Margaret, and when she went down
into the valley of the shadow, Mary went with her and stood and
supported the girl in the journey.

When Doctor Nesbit was climbing into the buggy at the gate, Grant,
standing by the hitching-post, said: "Doctor--sometime--when we are
both older--I mean Laura--" He got no further. The Doctor looked at the
boy's ashen face, and knew the cost of the words he was speaking. He
stopped, reached his hand out to Grant and touched his shoulder. "I
think I know, Grant--some day I shall tell her." He got into the buggy,
looked at the lad a moment and said in his high, squeaky voice: "Well,
Grant, boy, you understand after all it's your burden--don't you? Your
mother has saved Margaret's good name. But son--son, don't you let the
folks bear that burden." He paused a moment further and sighed: "Well,
good-by, kid--God help you, and make a man of you," and so turning his
cramping buggy, he drove away in the dusk.

Thus came Kenyon Adams, recorded in the family Bible as the third son of
Mary and Amos Adams, into the wilderness of this world.



CHAPTER V

IN WHICH MARGARET MÜLLER DWELLS IN MARBLE HALLS AND HENRY FENN AND
KENYON ADAMS WIN NOTABLE VICTORIES


The world into which Kenyon Adams came was a busy and noisy and ruthless
world. The prairie grass was leaving Harvey when Grant Adams came, and
the meadow lark left in the year that Jasper came. When Kenyon entered,
even the blue sky that bent over it was threatened. For Dr. Nesbit
returning from the Adamses the evening that Kenyon came to Harvey found
around the well-drill at Jamey McPherson's a great excited crowd. Men
were elbowing each other and craning their necks, and wagging their
heads as they looked at the core of the drill. For it contained
unmistakably a long worm of coal. And that night saw rising over Harvey
such dreams as made the angels sick; for the dreams were all of money,
and its vain display and power. And when men rose after dreaming those
dreams, they swept little Jamey McPherson away in short order. For he
had not the high talents of the money maker. He had only persistence,
industry and a hopeful spirit and a vague vision that he was discovering
coal for the common good. So when Daniel Sands put his mind to bear upon
the worm of coal that came wriggling up from the drilled hole on Jamey's
lot, the worm crawled away from Jamey and Jamey went to work in the
shaft that Daniel sank on his vacant lot near the McPherson home. The
coal smoke from Daniel Sands's mines began to splotch the blue sky above
the town, and Kenyon Adams missed the large leisure and joyous
comraderie that Grant had seen; indeed the only leisurely person whom
Kenyon saw in his life until he was--Heaven knows how old--was Rhoda
Kollander. The hum and bustle of Harvey did not ruffle the calm waters
of her soul. She of all the women in Harvey held to the early custom of
the town of going out to spend the day.

"So that Margaret's gone," she was saying to Mary Adams sometime during
a morning in the spring after Kenyon was born. "Law me--I wouldn't have
a boarder. I tell John, the sanctity of the home is invaded by boarders
these days; and her going out to the dances in town the way she does, I
sh'd think you'd be glad to be alone again, and to have your own little
flock to do for. And so Grant's going to be a carpenter--well, well! He
didn't take to the printing trade, did he? My, my!" she sighed, and
folded her hands above her apron--the apron which she always put on
after a meal, as if to help with the dishes, but which she never soiled
or wrinkled--"I tell John I'm so thankful our little Fred has such a
nice place. He waits table there at the Palace, and gets all his
meals--such nice food, and can go to school too, and you wouldn't
believe it if I'd tell you all the nice men he meets--drummers and
everything, and he's getting such good manners. I tell John there's
nothing like the kind of folks a boy is with in his teens to make him.
And he sees Tom Van Dorn every day nearly and sometimes gets a dime for
serving him, and now, honest, Mary, you wouldn't believe it, but Freddie
says the help around the hotel say that Mauling girl at the cigar stand
thinks Tom's going to marry her, but law me--he's aiming higher than the
Maulings. The old man is going to die--did you know it? They came for
John to sit up with him last night. John's an Odd Fellow, you know. But
speaking of that Margaret, you know she's a friend of Violet's and slips
into the cigar stand sometimes and Violet introduces Margaret to some
nice drummers. And I heard John say that when Margaret gets this term of
school taught here, the Spring Township people have made Doc Jim get her
a job in the court house--register of deeds office. But I tell John--law
me, you men are the worst gossips! Talk about women!"

Little Kenyon in his crib was restless, and Mary Adams was clattering
the dishes, so between the two evils, Mrs. Kollander picked up the
child, and rocked him and patted him and then went on: "I was over and
spent the day with the Sandses the other day. Poor woman, she's real
puny. Ann's such a pretty child and Mrs. Sands says that Morty's not
goin' back to college again. And she says he just moons around Laura
Nesbit. Seems like the boy's got no sense. Why, Laura's just a
child--she's Grant's age, isn't she--not more than eighteen or nineteen,
and Morty must be nearly twenty-three. My--how they have sprung up. I
tell John--why, I'll be thirty-six right soon now, and here I've worked
and slaved my youth away and I'll be an old woman before we know it."
She laughed good naturedly and rocked the fretting child. "Law me, Mary
Adams, I sh'd think you'd want Grant to stay with George Brotherton
there in the cigar stand, instead of carpentering. Such elegant people
he can meet there, and such refined influences since Mr. Brotherton's
put in books and newspapers, and he could work in the printing office
and deliver the Kansas City and St. Louis and Chicago dailies for Mr.
Brotherton, and do so much better than he can carpentering. I tell John,
if we can just keep our boy among nice people until he's twenty-five,
he'll stay with 'em. Now look at Lide Bowman. Mary Adams, we know she
was a smart woman until she married Dick and now just see her--living
down there with the shanty trash and all those ignorant foreigners, and
she's growing like 'em. She's lost two of her babies, and that seems to
be weighing on her mind, and I can't persuade her to pick up and move
out of there. It's like being in another world. And Mary Adams--let me
tell you--Casper Herdicker has gone into the mine. Yes, sir, he closed
his shop and is going to work in the mine, because he can make three
dollars a day. But law me! you'll not see Hildy Herdicker moving down
there. She'll keep her millinery store and live with the white folks."

The dishes were put away, and in the long afternoon Mary Adams sat
sewing as Rhoda Kollander rambled on. For the third time Rhoda came back
to comment upon the fact that Grant Adams had quit working in the
printing office--a genteel trade, and had stopped delivering papers for
Mr. Brotherton's newspaper stand--a rather high vocation, and was
degrading himself by learning the carpenter's trade, when Mary Adams cut
into the current of the stream of talk.

"Well, my dear, it was this way. There are two reasons why Grant is
learning the carpenter's trade. In the first place, the boy has some
sort of a passion to cast his lot among the poor. He feels they are
neglected and--well, he has a sort of a fierce streak in him to fight
for the under dog, and--"

"Well, law me, Mary--don't I know that? Hasn't Freddie told me time and
again how Grant used to fight for Freddie when he was a little boy and
the big boys plagued him. Grant whipped the whole school for teasing a
little half-witted boy once--did you know that?" Mary Adams shook her
head. "Well, he did, and--well now, isn't that nice. I can see just how
he feels!" And she could. Never lived a more sympathetic soul than
Rhoda. And as she rocked she said: "Of course, if that's the reason--law
me, Mary, you never can tell how these children are going to turn out.
Why, I tell John--"

"And the other reason is, Rhoda, that he is earning two dollars a day as
a carpenter's helper, and since Kenyon came we seem to be miserably hard
pushed for money." Mary Adams stopped and then went on as one carefully
choosing her words: "And since Margaret has gone to board over at the
other side of the school district, and we don't have her board
money--why of course--"

"Why of course," echoed Mrs. Kollander, "of course. I tell John he's
been in a county office now twenty years, drawing all the way from a
thousand to three thousand a year--and what have we got to show for it?
I scrimp and pinch and save, and John does too--but law me--it seems
like the way times are--" Amos Adams, standing at the door, heard her
and cut in:

"I was talking the other night with George Washington about the times,
and they're coming around all right." The man fumbled his sandy beard,
closed his eyes as if to remember something and went on: "Let's see, he
wrote: 'Peas and potatoes preserve the people,' and the next day,
everything in the market dropped but peas and potatoes." He nodded a
wise head. "They think that planchette is nonsense, but how do they
account for coincidences like that! And now tell me some news for the
_Tribune_." The two sat talking well into the twilight and when
Rhoda pulled up her chair to the supper table, the editor's notebook was
full.

Grant appeared, an ox-shouldered, red-haired, bass-voiced boy with
ham-like hands; Jasper came in from school full of the town's adventure
into coal and the industries, and his chatter trickled into the powerful
but slowly spoken insistence of Mrs. Kollander's talk and was lost and
swept finally into silence. After supper Grant retired to a book from
the Sea-side Library, borrowed of Mr. Brotherton from stock--"Sesame and
Lilies" was its title. Jasper plunged into his bookkeeping studies and
by the wood stove in the sitting-room Rhoda Kollander held her levee
until bedtime sent her home.

During the noon hour the next day in Mr. Brotherton's cigar store and
news stand, the walnut bench was filled that he had just installed for
the comfort of his customers. At one end, was Grant Adams who had
hurried up from the mines to buy a paperbound copy of Carlyle's "French
Revolution"; next to him sat deaf John Kollander smoking his noon cigar,
and beside Kollander sat stuttering Kyle Perry, thriftily sponging his
morning Kansas City _Times_ over Dr. Nesbit's shoulder. The absent
brother always was on the griddle at Mr. Brotherton's amen corner, and
the burnt offering of the moment was Henry Fenn. He had just broken over
a protracted drouth--one of a year and a half--and the group was shaking
sad heads over the county attorney's downfall. The doctor was saying,
"It's a disease, just as the 'ladies, God bless 'em' will become a
disease with Tom Van Dorn if he doesn't stop pretty soon--a nervous
disease and sooner or later they will both go down. Poor Henry--Bedelia
and I noticed him at the charity ball last night; he was--"

"A trifle polite--a wee bit too punctilious for these latitudes,"
laughed Brotherton from behind the counter.

"I was going to say decorative--what Mrs. Nesbit calls ornate--kind of
rococco in manner," squeaked the doctor, and sighed. "And yet I can see
he's still fighting his devil--still trying to keep from going clear
under."

"It's a sh-sh-sh-a-ame that ma-a-an should have th-that kind of a
d-d-d-devil in him--is-isis-n't it?" said Kyle Perry, and John
Kollander, who had been smoking in peace, blurted out, "What else can be
expected under a Democratic administration? Of course, they'll return
the rebel flags. They'll pension the rebel soldiers next!" He looked
around for approval, and the smiles of the group would have lured him
further but Tom Van Dorn came swinging through the door with his
princely manner, and the Doctor rose to go. He motioned George
Brotherton to the rear of the room and said gently:

"George--old man Mauling died an hour ago; John Dexter and I were there
at the last. And John sent word for me to have you get your choir
out--so I'll notify Mrs. Nesbit. Dexter said he was a lodge member with
you--what lodge, George?"

"Odd Fellow," returned the big man, then asked, "Pall-bearer?"

"Yes," returned the Doctor. "There's no one else much but the lodge in
his case. You will sing him to sleep with your choir and tuck him in as
pall-bearer as you've been doing for the dead folks ever since you came
to town." The Doctor turned to go, "Meet to-night at the house for choir
practice, I suppose?"

Brotherton nodded, and turned to take a bill from Tom Van Dorn, who had
pocketed a handful of cigars and a number of papers.

"We were just talking about Henry, Tom," remarked Mr. Brotherton, as he
handed back the change.

"He's b-back-sl-slidden," prompted Perry.

"Oh, well--it's all right. Henry has his weaknesses--we all have our
failings. But drunk or sober he danced a dozen times last night with
that pretty school teacher from Prospect Township." Grant looked up from
his book, as Van Dorn continued, "Gorgeous creature--" he shut his eyes
and added: "Don't pity Henry when he can get a woman like that to favor
him!"

As John Kollander thundered back some irrelevant comment on the moment's
politics, Van Dorn led Brotherton to the further end of the counter and
lowering his voice said:

"You know that Mauling girl at the Palace cigar counter?"

As Brotherton nodded, Van Dorn, dropping his voice to a whisper, said:
"Her father's dead--poor child--she's been spending her money--she
hasn't a cent. I know; I have been talking to her more or less for a
year or so. Which one of your lodges does the old man belong to,
George?"

When the big man said: "Odd Fellows," Van Dorn reached into an inner
coat pocket, brought out some bills and slipping them to Brotherton, so
that the group on the bench in the corner could not see, Van Dorn
mumbled:

"Tell her folks this came from the lodge--poor little creature, she's
their sole support."

As Van Dorn lighted his cigar at the alcohol burner Henry Fenn turned
into the store. Fenn stood among them and smiled his electric smile,
that illumined his lean, drawn face and said, "Here," a pause, then, "I
am," another pause, and a more searching smile, "I am again!"

Mr. Brotherton looked up from the magazine counter where he was sorting
out _Centurys_, and _Harpers_ and _Scribners_ from a
pile: "Say--" he roared at the newcomer, "Well--say, Henry--this won't
do. Come--take a brace; pull yourself together. We are all for you."

"Yes," answered Fenn, smiling out of some incandescence in his heart,
"that's just it: You're all for me. The boys over at Riley's saloon are
all for me. Mother--God bless her, down at the house is for me so strong
that she never flinches or falters. I can get every vote in the
delegation, but my own!"

"Oh, Henry, why these tears?" sneered Van Dorn. "We've all got to have
our fun."

"I presume, Tom," snapped Fenn, "that you've got your little affairs of
the heart so that you can take 'em or let 'em alone!" But to the group
in the amen corner, Fenn lifted up his head in shame. He looked like a
whipped dog. One by one the crowd disappeared, all but Grant, who was
bending over his book, and deaf John Kollander.

Fenn and Brotherton went back to Brotherton's desk and Fenn asked, "Did
I--George, was it pretty bad last night? God she--she--that Müller
girl--what a wonderful woman she is. George, do you suppose--" Fenn
caught Grant's eyes wandering toward them. The name of Margaret Müller
had reached his ears. But Fenn went on, lowering his voice: "I honestly
believe she could, if any one could." Fenn put his lean, tapering hand
upon Brotherton's broad fat paw, and smiled a quaint, appreciative
smile, frank and gentle. It was one of those smiles that carried
agreement with what had been said, and with everything that might be
said. Brotherton took up the hallelujah chorus for Margaret with: "Fine
girl--bright, keen--well say, did you know she's buying the books here
of me for the chautauqua course and is trying for a degree--something in
her head besides hairpins--well, say!"

He stopped in the middle of the sentence, and brought down his great
hand on his knee. "Well, say--observe me the prize idiot! Get the blue
ribbon and pin it on your Uncle George. Look here at me overlooking the
main bet. Well, say, Henry--here are the specifications of one large
juicy plan. Funeral to-morrow--old man Mauling; obliging party to die.
Uncle George and the angel choir to officiate with Uncle George doubling
in brass as pall-bearer. The new Mrs. Sands, our bell-voiced contralto,
is sick: also obliging party to be sick. Need new contralto: Müller girl
has voice like morning star, or stars, as the case may be." Fenn flashed
on his electric smile, and rose, looking a question.

"That's the idea, Henry, that finally wormed its way into my master
mind," cried Brotherton, laughing his big laugh. "That's what I said
before I spoke. You are to drive into Prospect Township this
evening--Hey, Grant," called Brotherton to the boy on the bench in the
Amen corner, "Does that pretty school ma'am board with you people?" And
when Grant shook his head, Brotherton went on: "Yes--she's moved across
the district I remember now. Well, anyway, Henry, you're to drive into
Prospect Township this evening and produce one large, luscious brunette
contralto for choir practice at General Nesbit's piano at eight o'clock
sharp." He stood facing Fenn whose eyes were glowing. The lurking devil
seemed to slink away from him. Brotherton, seeing the change, again
burst into his laugh and bringing Fenn to the front of the store roared:
"Well, say--Hennery--are there any flies on your Uncle George's scheme?"

Grant began buttoning his coat. Fenn, free for the moment of his devil,
was happy, and Brotherton looked at the two and cried, "Now get out of
here--the both of you: you're spiling trade. And say," called Brotherton
to Fenn, "bring her up to the Palace Hotel for supper, and we'll fill
her full of rich food, so's she can sing--well, say!"

That evening going home Grant met Margaret and Fenn at a turn of the
road, and before they noticed him, he saw a familiar look in her eyes as
she gazed at the man, saw how closely they were sitting in the buggy,
saw a score of little things that sent the blood to his face and he
strode on past them without speaking. That night he slipped into the
room where the baby lay playing with his toes, and there, standing over
the little fellow, the youth's eyes filled with tears and for the first
time he felt the horror of the baby lifting from him. He did not touch
the child, but tiptoed from the room ashamed to be seen.

To Margaret Müller, the baby's mother, that night opened a new world. To
begin with, it marked her entrance through the portals of the Palace
Hotel as a guest. She had sometimes flitted into the office with its
loose, tiled floors and shabby, onyx splendor to speak to Miss Mauling
of the news stand; then she came as a fugitive and saw things only
furtively. But this night Margaret walked in through the "Ladies
Entrance," sat calmly in the parlor, while Mr. Fenn wrote her name upon
the register, and after some delirious moments of grand conversation
with Mr. Fenn in the gilded hall of pleasure with its chenille draperies
and its apoplectic furniture all puffed to the bursting point, she had
walked with Mr. Fenn through the imposing halls of the wonderful
edifice, like a rescued princess in a fairy tale, to the dining room,
there to meet Mr. Brotherton, and the eldest Miss Morton, who recently
had been playing the cabinet organ at funerals to guide Mr. Brotherton's
choir. Now the eldest Miss Morton was not antique, being only a scant
fifteen in short dresses and pig tails. But at the urgent request of Mr.
Brotherton, and "to fill out the table, and to take the wrinkles out of
her apron by a square meal at the Palace," as Mr. Brotherton explained
to the Captain, she had been primped and curled and scared by her
sisters and her father, and sent along with Mr. Brotherton--possibly in
his great ulster pocket, and she sat breathing irregularly and looking
steadily into her lap in great awe and trepidation.

Margaret Müller, in the dining-room whose fame had spread to the
outposts of Spring township and to the fastnesses of Prospect, behaved
with scarcely less constraint than the eldest Miss Morton. She gazed at
the beamed ceiling, the high wainscoting, the stenciled walls, the
frescoes upon the panels, framed by the beams, the wide sideboard, the
glittering glass and the plated silver service, and if her eyes had not
been so beautiful they would have betrayed her wonder and admiration. As
it was, they showed an ecstasy of delight that made them shine and when
Henry Fenn saw them he looked at Mr. Brotherton, and Mr. Brotherton
looked at Mr. Fenn, and the moon in Mr. Brotherton's face beamed a
lively approval. Moreover the cigar salesman from Leavenworth and a
hardware drummer from St. Louis and a dry-goods salesman from Chicago
and a travelling auditor for the Midland saw Margaret's eyes and they
too looked at one another and gave their unqualified approval. In other
years--in later years--when she was at Bertolini's Grand Palace in
Naples or in some of the other Grand Palaces of other effete and
luxurious capitals of Europe, Margaret used to think of that first meal
at the Palace house in Harvey and wonder what in the world really did
become of the dozen fried oysters that she so innocently ordered. She
could see them looming up, a great pyramid of brown batter, garnished
with cress, and she knew that she had blundered. But she did not see the
wink that Mr. Brotherton gave Mr. Fenn nor the glare that Mr. Fenn gave
Mr. Brotherton; so she faced it out and whether she ate them or left
them, she never could recall.

But it was a glorious occasion in spite of the fried oysters. What
though the tiles of the floor of the Palace were cracked; what though
the curtains sagged, and the furniture was shabby, and the walls were
faded and dingy; what though the great beams in the dining-room were
dirty and the carpets in the halls bedraggled, and the onyx gapping in
great cracks upon the warped walls of the office; what though the paint
had faded and the varnish cracked all over the house! To Margaret Müller
and also to the eldest Miss Morton, who only managed to breathe below
her locket when they were under the stars, it was a dream of marble
halls, and the frowsy Freddie Kollander and the other waiter who brought
in the food on thick, cracked oblong dishes were vassals and serfs by
their sides.

When they started up Sixth Avenue, the eldest Miss Morton was trying to
think of everything that had happened to tell the younger Misses Morton,
Martha and Ruth--what they ate and what Miss Müller wore, and what
Freddie Kollander who waited on them, and also went to high school, did
when he saw her, and how Mr. Fenn acted when Miss Müller got the big
platter of oysters, and what olives tasted like and if anything had been
cooked in the Peerless Cooker that father had just sold Mr. Paxton and
in general why the spirit of mortal should be proud.

But Miss Müller entertained no such thoughts. She was treading upon the
air of some elysium, and she took and held Mr. Fenn's arm with an
unnecessary tightness and began humming the tune that told of the girl
who dreamed she dwelt in marble halls; and then, as they left the thick
of the town and were walking along the board sidewalks that lead to Elm
Crest on Elm Street, they all fell to singing that tune; and as one good
tune deserved another, and as they were going to practice the funeral
music that evening, they sang other tunes of a highly secular nature
that need not be enumerated here. And as Miss Müller had a substantial
dinner folded snugly within her, and the ambition of her life was
looming but a few blocks ahead of her, she walked closer to Mr. Fenn,
county attorney in and for Greeley county, than was really necessary. So
when Mr. Brotherton walked alongside with the eldest Miss Morton
stumbling intermittently over the edge of the sidewalk and walking in
the dry weeds beside it, Miss Müller put some feeling into her singing
voice and they struck what Mr. Brotherton was pleased to call a
barbershop chord, and held it to his delight. And the frosty air rang
with their voices, and the rich tremulous voice of the young woman
thrilled with passion too deep for words. So deep was it that it might
have stirred the hovering soul of the dead whose dirges they were to
sing and brought back to him the time when he too had thrilled with
youth and its inexpressible joy.

Up the hill they go, arm in arm, with fondling voices uttering the
unutterable. And now they turn into a long, broad avenue of elms, of
high, plumey elms trimmed and tended, mulched and cultivated for nearly
twenty years, the apple of one man's eye; great elms set in blue grass,
branching only at the tops, elms that stand in a grove around an
irregular house, elms that shade a broad stone walk leading up to a
wide, hospitable door. The young people ring. There is a stirring in the
house, Margaret Müller's heart is a-flutter--and the eldest Miss Morton
wonders whether Laura or the hired girl will open the door, and in a
moment--enter Margaret Müller into the home of the Nesbits.

As the wide door opens, a glow of light and life falls upon the young
people. Standing in the broad reception room is Doctor Nesbit, with his
finger in a book--a poetry book if you please--and before him with his
arm about her and her head beneath his chin stands his daughter. Coming
down the stairs is Mrs. Bedelia Satterthwaite Nesbit--of the Maryland
Satterthwaites--tall, well-upholstered, with large features and a Roman
nose and with the makings of a double chin, if she ever would deign to
bend her queenly head, and finally with the pomp of a major general in
figure and mien.

She ignores the débris of the carpenters who have been putting in the
hardwood floors, without glancing at it, and walking to her guests,
welcomes them with regal splendor, receiving Miss Müller with rather
obvious dignity. Mrs. Nesbit in those days was a woman of whom the
doctor said, "There is no foolishness about Bedelia." The jovial Mr.
Brotherton attempts some pleasant hyperbole of speech, which the hostess
ignores and the Doctor greets with a smile. Mrs. Nesbit leads the way to
the piano, being a woman of purpose, and whisks the eldest Miss Morton
upon a stool and has the hymn book opened in less time than it takes to
tell how she did it. The Doctor and Laura stand watching the company,
and perhaps they stand awkwardly; which prompts Mr. Brotherton in the
goodness of his heart to say, "Doctor, won't you sit and hear the
music?"

Mrs. Nesbit looks around, sees the two figures standing near the fire
and replies, "No, the Doctor won't."

To which he chirps a mocking echo--"No, the Doctor won't."

Mr. Brotherton glances at Mr. Fenn, and the Doctor sees it. "That's all
right, boys--that's all right; I may be satrap of Harvey and have the
power of life and death over my subjects, but that's down town. Out
here, I'm the minority report."

Mrs. Nesbit opens the hymn book, smooths the fluttering leaves and says
without looking toward the Doctor: "I suppose we may as well begin now."
And she begins beating the time with her index finger and marking the
accents with her foot.

As they sing they can hear the gentle drone of the Doctor's soft voice
in the intervals in the music, reading in some nearby room to his
daughter. They are reading Tennyson's "Maud" and sometimes in the
emotional passages his voice breaks and his eyes fill up and he cannot
go on. At such times, the daughter puts her head upon his shoulder and
often wipes her tears away upon his coat and they are silent until he
can begin again. When his throat cramps, she pats his cheek and they sit
dreaming for a time and the dreams they dream and the dreams they read
differ only in that the poetry is made with words.

It is a proud night for Margaret Müller. She has come into a new
world--the world of her deep desire. Mrs. Nesbit sees the girl's
wandering eyes, taking note of the furniture, as one making an
inventory. No article of the vast array of vases and jars and plaques
and jugs and statuettes and grotesque souvenirs of far journeys across
the world, nor etchings nor steel engravings nor photographs of Roman
antiquities nor storied urns nor animated busts escapes the wandering,
curious brown eyes of the girl. But in her vast wonderment, though her
eyes wander far and wide, they never are too far to flash back betimes
at Henry Fenn's who drinks from the woman's eyes as from a deep and
bewitching well. He does not see that she is staring. But as the minutes
speed, he knows that he is electrified with alternating currents from
her glowing face and that they bring to him a rapture that he has never
known before.

But you may be sure of one thing: Mrs. Nesbit--she that was
Satterthwaite of the Maryland Satterthwaites--she sees what is in the
wind. She is not wearing gold-rimmed nose glasses for her health. Her
health is exceptionally good. And what is more to the point, as they are
singing, Mrs. Nesbit gives George Brotherton a look--one of the genuine
old Satterthwaite looks that speak volumes, and in effect it tells him
that if he has any sense, he will take Henry Fenn home before he makes a
fool of himself. And the eldest Miss Morton, swinging her legs under the
piano stool and drumming away to Mrs. Nesbit's one- and two- and
three- and four-ands, peeps out of the corners of her eyes and sees Miss
Müller gobbling Mr. Fenn right down without chewing him, and whoopee but
Mrs. Nesbit is biting nails, and Mr. Brotherton, he can't hardly keep his
face straight from laughing at all, and if Ruth and Martha ever tell she
will never tell them another thing in the world. And she mustn't forget
to ask Mrs. Nesbit if she's used the Peerless Cooker and if she has,
will she please say something nice about it to Mrs. Ahab Wright, for
Papa is so anxious to sell one to the Wrights!

It is nearly nine o'clock. Mr. Fenn has been eaten up these twenty
times. The wandering eyes have caressed the bric-a-brac over and over.
Mrs. Nesbit's tireless index finger has marked the time while the great
hands of the tall hall clock have crept around and halfway around again.
They are upon the final rehearsal of it.

"Other refuge have I none," says the voice and the eyes say even more
and are mutely answered by another pair of eyes.

"Hangs my helpless soul on thee," says the deep passionate voice, and
the eyes say things even more tender to eyes that falter only because
they are faint with joy. In the short interval the moving finger of Mrs.
Nesbit goes up, and then comes a rattling of the great front door. A
moment later it is opened and the flushed face of Grant Adams is seen.
He is collarless, and untidy; he rushes into the room crying, "O,
doctor--doctor, come--our baby--he is choking." The youth sees Margaret,
and with passion cries: "Kenyon--Kenyon--the baby, he is dying; for
God's sake--Mag, where is the Doctor?"

In an instant the little figure of the Doctor is in the room. He stares
at the red-faced boy, and quick as a flash he sees the open mouth, the
dazed, gaping eyes, the graying face of Margaret as she leans heavily
upon George Brotherton. In another instant the Doctor sees her rally,
grapple with herself, bring back the slow color as if by main strength,
and smile a hard forced smile, as the boy stands in impotent anguish
before them.

"I have the spring wagon here, Doctor--hurry--hurry please,"
expostulates the youth, as the Doctor climbs into his overcoat, and then
looking at Margaret the boy exclaims wildly--"Wouldn't you like to go,
too, Maggie? Wouldn't you?"

She has hold of herself now and replies: "No, Grant, I don't think your
mother will need me," but she almost loses her grip as she asks weakly,
"Do you?"

In another second they are gone, the boy and the Doctor, out into the
night, and the horse's hoofs, clattering fainter and fainter as they
hurry down the road, bring to her the sound of a little heart beating
fainter and fainter, and she holds on to her soul with a hard hand.

Before long Margaret Müller and Henry Fenn are alone in a buggy driving
to Prospect township.

She sees above her on the hill the lights in the great house of her
desire. And she knows that down in the valley where shimmers a single
light is a little body choking for breath, fighting for life.

"Hangs my helpless soul on thee," swirls through her brain, and she is
cold--very cold, and sits aloof and will not talk, cannot talk. Ever the
patter of the horse's feet in the valley is borne upward by the wind,
and she feels in her soul the faltering of a little heart. She dares not
hope that it will start up again; she cannot bear the fear that it will
stop.

So she leaves the man who knew her inmost soul but an hour ago; hardly a
word she speaks at parting; hardly she turns to him as she slips into
the house, cold and shivering with the sound of every hoof-beat on the
road in the night, bringing her back to the helpless soul fluttering in
the little body that once she warmed in hers.

Thus the watchers watched the fighting through the night, the child
fighting so hard to live. For life is dear to a child--even though its
life perpetuates shame and brings only sorrow--life still is dear to
that struggling little body there under that humble roof, where even
those that love it, and hover in agony over it in its bed of torture,
feel that if it goes out into the great mystery from whence it came, it
will take a sad blot from the world with it. And so hope and fear and
love and tenderness and grief are all mingled in the horror that it may
die, in the mute question that asks if death would not be merciful and
kind. And all night the watchers watched, and the watcher who was absent
was afraid to pray, and as the daylight came in, wan and gray, the child
on the rack of misery sank to sleep, and smiled a little smile of peace
at victory.

Then in the pale dawn, a weary man, trudging afoot slowly up the hill
into Harvey, met another going out into the fields. The Doctor looked up
and was astonished to see Henry Fenn, with hard drawn features,
trembling limbs, hollow eyes and set lips. He too had been fighting hard
and he also had won his victory. The Doctor met the man's furtive,
burning eyes and piped out softly:

"Stick to it, Henry--by God, stick hard," and trudged on into the
morning gloaming.



CHAPTER VI

ENTER THE BEAUTY AND CHIVALRY OF HARVEY; ALSO HEREIN WE BREAK OUR FIRST
HEART


Towns are curiously like individuals. They take their character largely
from their experiences, laid layer upon layer in their consciousnesses,
as time moves, and though the experiences are seemingly forgotten, the
results of those experiences are ineffaceably written into the towns.
Four or five towns lie buried under the Harvey that is to-day, each one
possible only as the other upholds it, and all inexorably pointing to
the destiny of the Harvey that is, and to the many other Harveys yet to
rise upon the townsite--the Harveys that shall be. There was, of course,
heredity before the town was; the strong New England strain of blood
that was mixed in the Ohio Valley and about the Great Lakes and changed
by the upheaval of the Civil War. Then came the hegira across the
Mississippi and the infant town in the Missouri Valley--the town of the
pioneers--the town that only obeyed its call and sought instinctively
the school house, the newspaper, orderly government, real estate
gambling and "the distant church that topt the neighboring hill." In the
childhood of the town the cattle trail appeared and with the cattle
trade came wild days and sad disorder. But the railroad moved westward
and the cattle trail moved with the railroad and then in the early
adolescence of the town came coal and gas and oil. And suddenly Harvey
blossomed into youth.

It was a place of adventure; men were made rich overnight by the blow of
a drill in a well. Then was the time for that equality of opportunity to
come which the pioneers sought if ever it was coming. But alas, even in
matters of sheer luck, the fates played favorites. In those fat years it
began raining red-wheeled buggies on Sundays, and smart traps drawn by
horses harnessed gaudily in white or tan appeared on the streets. Morty
Sands often hired a band from Omaha or Kansas City, and held high revel
in the Sands opera house, where all the new dances of that halcyon day
were tripped. The waters of the Wahoo echoed with the sounds of boating
parties--also frequently given by Morty Sands, and his mandolin
twittered gayly on a dozen porches during the summer evenings of that
period. It was Morty who enticed Henry Fenn into the second suit of
evening clothes ever displayed in Harvey, though Tom Van Dorn and George
Brotherton appeared a week later in evening clothes plus white gloves
and took much of the shine from Henry and Morty's splendor. Those were
the days when Nate Perry and young Joe Calvin and Freddie Kollander
organized the little crowd--the Spring Chickens, they called
themselves--and the little crowd was wont to ape its elders and peek
through the fence at the grandeur of the grown-ups. But alas for the
little crowd, month by month it was doomed to see its little girls
kidnaped to bloom in the upper gardens. Thus Emma Morton went; thus Ave
Calvin disappeared, and so Laura Nesbit vanished from the Spring
Chickens and appeared in Morty Sands's bower! Doctor Nesbit in those
days called Morty the "head gardener in the 'rosebud garden of girls!'"
And a lovely garden it was. Of course, it was more or less democratic;
for every one was going to be rich; every one was indeed just on the
verge of riches, and lines of caste were loosely drawn. For wealth was
the only line that marked the social differences. So when Henry Fenn,
the young county attorney, in his new evening clothes brought Margaret
Müller of the Register of Deeds office to Morty Sands's dances, Margaret
had whatever social distinction her wits gave her; which upon the whole
was as much distinction as Rhoda Kollander had whose husband employed
Margaret. The press of the social duties in that day weighed heavily
upon Rhoda, who was not the woman to neglect her larger responsibilities
to so good a husband as John Kollander, by selfishly staying at home and
keeping house for him. She had a place in society to maintain, that the
flag of her country might not be sullied by barring John from a county
office.

The real queen-rose in the garden was Laura Nesbit. How vivid she was!
What lips she had in those days of her first full bloom, and what frank,
searching eyes! And her laugh--that chimed like bells through the
merriment of the youth that always was gathered about her--her laugh
could start a reaction in Morty Sands's heart as far as he could hear
the chime. It was a matter of common knowledge in the "crowd," that
Morty Sands had one supreme aim in life: the courtship of Laura Nesbit.
For her he lavished clothes upon himself until he became known as the
iridescent dream! For her he bought a high-seated cart of great price,
drawn by a black horse in white kid harness! For her he learned a whole
concert of Schubert's songs upon the mandolin and organized a serenading
quartette that wore the grass smooth under her window. For her candy,
flowers, books--usually gift books with padded covers, or with
handpainted decorations, or with sumptuous engravings upon them or in
them, sifted into the Nesbits' front room, and lay in a thick coating
upon the parlor table.

Someway these votive offerings didn't reach the heart of the goddess.
She rode beside him in his stanhope, and she wore his bouquets and read
his books, such as were intended for reading; and alas for her figure,
she ate his candy. But these things did not prosper his suit. She was
just looking around in the market of life. Pippa was forever passing
through her heart singing, "God's in his heaven--all's right with the
world." She did not blink at evil; she knew it, abhorred it, but
challenged it with love. She had a vague idea that evil could be
vanquished by inviting it out to dinner and having it in for tea
frequently and she believed if it still refused to transform itself into
good, that the thing to do with evil was to be a sister to it.

The closest she ever came to overcoming evil with evil was when she
spanked little Joe Calvin for persisting in tying cans to the Morton
cat's tail, whereupon Morty Sands rose and gave the girl nine rahs,
exhibiting an enthusiasm that inspired him for a year. So Laura thought
that if the spanking had not helped much the soul of little Joe, it had
put something worth while into Morty Sands. The thought cheered her. For
Morty was her problem. During the first months after her return from
boarding school, she had broken him--excepting upon minor moonlight
relapses--of trying to kiss her, and she had sufficiently discouraged
his declarations of undying devotion, so that they came only at
weddings, or after other mitigating circumstances which, after pinching
his ear, she was able to overlook.

But she could not get him to work for a living. He wouldn't even keep
office hours. Lecturing settled nothing. Lecturing a youth in a black
and gold blazer, duck trousers and a silk shirt and a red sash, with
socks and hat to match his coat, lecturing a youth who plays the
mandolin while you talk, and looks at you through hazel eyes with all
the intelligence of an affectionate pup, lecturing a youth who you know
would be kissing you at the moment if you weren't twenty pounds heavier
and twice as strong--someway doesn't arouse enthusiasm. So Morty Sands
remained a problem.

Now an affair of the heart when a man is in his twenties and a girl is
just passing out of her teens, is never static; it is dynamic and always
there is something doing.

It was after one of Morty's innumerable summer dances in the Sands Opera
House, that Fate cast her dies for the final throw. Morty had filled
Laura Nesbit's program scandalously full. Two Newports, three military
schottisches, the York, the Racket--ask grandpa and grammer about these
dances, ye who gyrate in to-day's mazes--two waltz quadrilles and a
reel. And when you have danced half the evening with a beautiful girl,
Fate is liable to be thumping vigorously on the door of your heart. So
Morty walking home under a drooping August moon with Laura Nesbit that
night determined to bring matters to a decision. As they came up the
walk to the Nesbit home, the girl was humming the tune that beat upon
his heart, and almost unconsciously they fell to waltzing. At the
veranda steps they paused, and his arm was around her. She tried to move
away from him, and cuffed him as she cried: "Now Morty--you know--you
know very well what I've always--"

"Laura--Laura--" he cried, as he held her hand to his face and tried to
focus her soul with his brown eyes, "Laura," he faltered, then words
deserted him: the fine speech he had planned melted into, "O, my
dear--my dear!" But he kept her hand. The pain and passion in his voice
cut into the girl's heart. She was not frightened. She did not care to
run. She did not even take his persisting arm from about her. She let
him kiss her hand reverently, then she sat with him on the veranda step
and as they sat she drew his arm from her waist until it was hooked in
her arm, and her hand held his.

"Oh, I'm in earnest to-night, Laura," said Morty, gripping her hand.
"I'm staking my whole life to-night, Laura. I'm deadly--oh, quite deadly
serious, Laura, and oh--"

"And I'm serious too, Morty," said the girl--"just as serious as you!"
She slipped her hand away from his and put her hand upon his shoulder
gently, almost tenderly. But the youth felt a certain calmness in her
touch that disheartened him.

In a storm of despair he spoke: "Laura--Laura, can't you see--how can
you let me go on loving you as I do until I am mad! Can't you see that
my soul is yours and always has been! You can call it into heights it
will never know without you! You--you--O, sometimes I feel that I could
pray to you as to God!" He turned to her a face glowing with a white and
holy passion, and dropped her hand from his shoulder and did not touch
her as he spoke. Their eyes met steadfastly in a silence. Then the girl
bowed her head and sobbed. For she knew, even in her teens, she knew
with the intuitions that are old as human love upon the planet that she
was in the naked presence of an adoring soul. When she could speak she
picked up the man's soft white hand, and kissed it. She could not have
voiced her eternal denial more certainly. And Morty Sands lifted an
agonized face to the stars and his jaws trembled. He had lighted his
altar fire and it was quenched. The girl, still holding his hand, said
tenderly:

"I'm so sorry--so sorry, Morty. But I can't! I never--never--never can!"
She hesitated, and repeated, shaking her head sadly, "I never, never can
love you, Morty--never! And it's kind--"

"Yes, yes," he answered as one who realizes a finality. "It's kind
enough--yes, I know you're kind, Laura!" He stopped and gazed at her in
the moonlight--and it was as if a flame on the charred altar of his
heart had sprung up for a second as he spoke: "And I never--never
shall--I never shall love any one else--I never, never shall!"

The girl rose. A moment later the youth followed her. Back into its
sheath under his countenance his soul slipped, and he stood before the
girl smiling a half deprecatory smile. But the girl's face was racked
with sorrow. She had seen tragedy. Her pain wounded him and he winced in
his heart. Wherefore he smiled quite genuinely, and stepped back, and
threw a kiss at the girl as he said: "It's nothing, Laura! Don't mind!
It's nothing at all and we'll forget it! Won't we?"

And turning away, he tripped down the walk, leaving her gazing after him
in the moonlight. At the street he turned back with a gay little
gesture, blew a kiss from his white finger tips and cried, "It's nothing
at all--nothing at all!" And as she went indoors she heard him call,
"It's nothing at all!"

She heard him lift his whistle to the tune of the waltz quadrille, but
she stood with tears in her eyes until the brave tune died in the
distance.



CHAPTER VII

IN WHICH WE SEE HOW LIFE TRANSLATES ITSELF INTO THE MATERIALISM AROUND
IT


Coal and oil and gas and lead and zinc. The black sprite, the brown
sprite, the invisible sprite, the two gray sprites--elemental sprites
they were--destined to be bound servants of man. Yet when they came
rushing out of the earth there at Harvey, man groveled before them, and
sold his immortal soul to these trolls. Naturally enough Daniel Sands
was the high priest at their altar. It was fitting that a devil worship
which prostrated itself before coal and oil and gas and lead and zinc
should make a spider the symbol of its servility. So the spider's web,
all iron and steel in pipes below ground, all steel and iron and copper
in wires and rails above ground, spread out over the town, over the
country near the town, and all the pipes and tubes and rails and wires
led to the dingy little room where Daniel Sands sat spinning his web. He
was the town god. Even the gilded heifer of Baal was a nobler one. And
the curious thing about this orgy of materialism, was that Harvey and
all the thousands of Harveys great and small that filled America in
those decades believed with all their hearts--and they were essentially
kind hearts--that quick, easy and exorbitant profits, really made the
equality of opportunity which every one desired. They thought in terms
of democracy--which is at bottom a spiritual estate,--and they acted
like gross materialists. So they fooled the world, while they deceived
themselves. For the soul of America was not reflected in that debauch of
gross profit making. The soul of America still aspired for justice; but
in the folly of the day, believed quite complacently because a few men
got rich quick (stupid men too,) and many men were well-to-do, that
justice was achieved, and the world ready for the millennium. But there
came a day when Harvey, and all its kind saw the truth in shame.

And life in Harvey shaped itself into a vast greedy dream. A hard,
metallic timbre came into the soft, high voice of Dr. James Nesbit, but
did not warn men of the metallic plate that was galvanizing the Doctor's
soul; nor did it disturb the Doctor. Amos Adams saw the tinplate
covering, heard the sounding brass, and Mary his wife saw and heard too;
but they were only two fools and the Doctor who loved them laughed at
them and turned to the healing of the sick and the subjugation of his
county. So men sent him to the state Senate. Curiously Mrs. Nesbit--she
whom George Brotherton always called the General--she did not shake the
spell of the trolls from her heart. They were building wings and ells
and lean-tos on the house that she called her home, and she came to love
the witchery of the time and place and did not see its folly. Yet there
walked between these two entranced ones, another who should have
awakened. For she was young, fresh from the gods of life. Her eyes,
unflinching, glorious eyes, should have seen through the dream of that
day. But they were only a girl's eyes and were happy, so they could not
see beyond the spell that fell around them. And alas, even when the
prince arrived, his kiss was poisoned too.

When young Thomas Van Dorn came to the Nesbit house on a voyage of
exploration and discovery--came in a handsome suit of gray, with hat and
handkerchief to match, and a flowing crepe tie, black to harmonize with
his flowing mustache and his wing of fine jet black hair above his ivory
tinted face, Laura Nesbit considered him reflectively, and catalogued
him.

"Tom," explained the daughter to her father rather coldly one morning,
after the young man had been reading Swinburne in his deep, mellow
pipe-organ of a voice to the family until bedtime the night before, "Tom
Van Dorn, father, is the kind of a man who needs the influence of some
strong woman!"

Mrs. Nesbit glanced at her husband furtively and caught his grin as he
piped gayly:

"Who also must carry the night key!"

The three laughed but the daughter went on with the cataloguing: "He is
a young man of strong predilections, of definite purpose and more than
ordinary intellectual capacity."

"And so far as I have counted, Laura," her father interrupted again, "I
haven't found an honest hair in his handsome head; though I haven't
completed the count yet!" The father smiled amiably as he made the final
qualification.

The girl caught the mother's look of approval shimmering across the
table and laughed her gay, bell-like chime. "O, you've made a bad guess,
mother."

Again she laughed gayly: "It's not for me to open a school for the
Direction of Miscalculated Purposes. Still," this she said seriously, "a
strong woman is what he needs."

"Not omitting the latch-key," gibed her father, and the talk drifted
into another current.

The next Sunday afternoon young Tom Van Dorn appeared with Rossetti
added to his Swinburne, and crowded Morty Sands clear out of the hammock
so that Morty had to sleep in a porch chair, and woke up frequently and
was unhappy. While the gilded youth slept the Woman woke and listened,
and Morty was left disconsolate.

The shadows were long and deep when Tom Van Dorn rose from the hammock,
closed his book, and stood beside the girl, looking with a gentle
tenderness from the burning depths of his black eyes into her eyes. He
paused before starting away, and held up a hand so that she could see,
wound about it, a flaxen hair, probably drawn from the hammock pillow.
He smiled rather sadly, dropped his eyes to the book closed in his
hands, and quoted softly:

    "'And around his heart, one strangling golden hair!'"

He did not speak again, but walked off at a great stride down the stone
path to the street. The next day Rossetti's sonnets came to Laura Nesbit
in a box of roses.

The Sunday following Laura Nesbit made it a point to go with her parents
to spend the day with the Adamses down by the river on their farm. But
not until the Nesbits piled into their phaëton to leave did Grant
appear. He met the visitors at the gate with a great bouquet of woods
flowers, saying, "Here, Mrs. Nesbit--I thought you might like them." But
they found Laura's hands, and he smiled gratefully at her for taking
them. As they drove off, leaving him looking eagerly after them, Dr.
Nesbit said when they were out of hearing, "I tell you, girls--there's
the makings of a man--a real man!"

That night Laura Nesbit in her room looking at the stars, rose and
smelled the woods flowers on her table beside some fading roses.

As her day dreams merged into vague pictures flitting through her drowsy
brain, she heard the plaintive, trembling voice of Morty Sands's
mandolin, coming nearer and nearer, and his lower whistle taking the
tune while the E string crooned an obligato; he passed the house, went
down the street to the Mortons' and came back and went home again, still
trilling his heart out like a bird. As the chirping faded into the night
sounds, the girl smiled compassionately and slept.

As she slept young Thomas Van Dorn walked alone under the elm trees that
plumed over the sidewalks in those environs with hands clasped behind
him, occasionally gazing into the twinkling stars of the summer night,
considering rather seriously many things. He had come out to think over
his speech to the jury the next day in a murder case pending in the
court. But the murderer kept sinking from his consciousness; the speech
would not shape itself to please him, and the young lawyer was forever
meeting rather squarely and abruptly the vision of Laura Nesbit, who
seemed to be asking him disagreeable and conclusive questions, which he
did not like to answer. Was she worth it--the sacrifice that marriage
would require of him? Was he in love with her? What is love anyway?
Wherein did it differ from certain other pleasurable emotions, to which
he was not a stranger? And why was the consciousness of her growing
larger and larger in his life? He tried to whistle reflectively, but he
had no music in his soul and whistling gave him no solace.

It was midnight when he found himself walking past the Nesbit home,
looking toward it and wondering which of the open windows was nearest to
her. He flinched with shame when he recollected himself before other
houses gazing at other windows, and he unpursed his lips that were wont
to whistle a signal, and went down the street shuddering. Then after an
impulse in which some good angel of remorse shook his teeth to rouse his
soul, he lifted his face to the sky and would have cried in his heart
for help, but instead he smiled and went on, trying to think of his
speech and resolving mightily to put Laura Nesbit out of his heart
finally for the night. He held himself to his high resolve for four or
five minutes. It is only fair to say that the white clad figure of the
Doctor coming clicking up the street with his cane keeping time to a
merry air that he hummed as he walked distracted the young man. His
first thought was to turn off and avoid the Doctor who came along
swinging his medicine case gayly. But there rushed over Van Dorn a
feeling that he would like to meet the Doctor. He recognized that he
would like to see any one who was near to Her. It was a pleasing
sensation. He coddled it. He was proud of it; he knew what it meant. So
he stopped the preoccupied figure in white, and cried, "Doctor--we're
late to-night!"

"Well, Tom, I've got a right to be! Two more people in Harvey to-night
than were here at five o'clock this afternoon because I am a trifle
behindhand. Girl at your partner's--Joe Calvin's, and a boy down at Dick
Bowman's!" He paused and smiled and added musingly, "And they're as
tickled down at Dick's as though he was heir to a kingdom!"

"And Joe--I suppose--not quite--"

"Oh, Joe, he's still in the barn, I dropped in to tell him it was a
girl. But he won't venture into the house to see the mother before noon
to-morrow! Then he'll go when she's asleep!"

"Dick really isn't more than two jumps ahead of the wolf, is he,
Doctor?"

"Well," grinned the elder man, "maybe a jump-and-a-half or two jumps."

The young man exclaimed, "Say, Doctor! I think it would be a pious act
to make the fellows put up fifty dollars for Dick to-night. I'll just go
down and raid a few poker games and make them do it."

The Doctor stopped him: "Better let me give it to Dick if you get it,
Tom!" Then he added, "Why don't you keep Christian hours, boy? You can't
try that Yengst case to-morrow and be up all night!"

"That's just what I'm out here for, Doctor--to get my head in shape for
the closing speech."

"Well," sniffed the Doctor, "I wish you no bad luck, but I hope you
lose. Yengst is guilty, and you've no business--"

"Doctor," cut in Van Dorn, "there's not a penny in the Yengst case for
me! He was a poor devil in trouble and he came to my office for help! Do
you consider the morals of your sick folks--whether they have lived
virtuous and upright lives when they come to you stricken and in pain?
They're just sick folks to you in your office, and they're just poor
devils in trouble for me."

The Doctor cocked his head on one side, sparrow-wise, looked for a
moment at the young man and piped, "You're a brassy pup, aren't you!"

A second later the Doctor was trudging up the street, homeward, humming
his bee-like song. Van Dorn watched him until his white clothes faded
into the shades of the night, then he turned and walked slowly townward,
with his hands behind him and his eyes on the ground. He forgot the
Yengst case, and everything else in the universe except a girl's gray
eyes, her radiant face, and the glory of her aspiring soul. It was
calling with all its power to Tom Van Dorn to rise and shine and take up
the journey to the stars. And when one hears that call, whether it come
from man or maid, from friend or brother, or sweetheart or child, or
from the challenge within him of the holy spirit, when he heeds its
call, no matter where he is while he hears, he walks with God!

So it came to pass the next day that Thomas Van Dorn went before the
jury and pleaded for the murderer in the Yengst case with the tongue of
men and of angels. For he knew that Dr. Nesbit was loitering in the
clerk's office, adjoining the courtroom to listen to the plea. Every
faculty of his mind and every capacity of his body was awake, and they
said around the court house that it was "the speech of Tom's life!" The
Doctor on the front steps of the courthouse met the young man in the
daze that follows an oratorical flight, munching a sandwich to relieve
his brain, while the multitude made way for him as he went to his
office.

"Well, Tom--" piped the Doctor as he grasped the sweaty, cold hands of
the young orator, "if Yengst had been innocent do you suppose you could
have done as well?"

Van Dora, gave his sandwich to a passing dog, and took the Doctor's arm
as they walked to their common stairway. Before they had walked a dozen
steps the Doctor had unfolded a situation in local politics that needed
attention, and Van Dorn could not lead the elder man back to further
praises of his speech. Yet the young lawyer knew that he had moved the
Doctor deeply.

That night in his office Tom Van Dorn and Henry Fenn sat with their feet
in the window sill, looking through the open window into the moon. In
their discourse they used that elaborate, impersonal anonymity that
youth engages to carry the baggage of its intimate confidences.

"I've got to have a pretty woman, Henry," quoth the lawyer to his
friend, while the moon blushed behind a cloud. "She must have beauty
above everything, and after that good manners, and after that good
blood."

The moon came out and smiled at Henry. "Tom, let me tell you something,
I don't care! I used to think I'd be pickey and choosey. But I know my
own heart. I don't care! I'm the kind of fellow, I guess, who just gets
it bad and comes down all broken out with it." He turned his glowing
smile into Tom Van Dorn's face, and finding no quick response smiled
whimsically back at the moon.

"Some fellows are that way, Henry," assented Van Dorn, "but not I! I
couldn't love a servant girl no matter how pretty she was--not for
keeps, and I couldn't love an ugly princess, and I'd leave a
bluestocking and elope with a chorus girl if I found the bluestocking
crocked or faded in the wash! Yet a beautiful woman, who remained a
woman and didn't become a moral guide--" he stared brazenly at the moon
and in the cloud that whisked by he saw a score of fancies of other
women whose faces had shone there, and had passed. He went on: "Oh, she
could hold me--she could hold me--I think!"

The street noises below filled the pause. Henry rose, looked eagerly
into the sky and wistfully at the moon as he spoke, "Hold me? Hold me?"
he cried. "Why, Tom, though I'd fall into hell myself a thousand
times--she couldn't lose me! I'd still--still," he faltered, "I'd
still--" He did not finish, but sat down and putting his hand on the arm
of his friend's chair, he bent forward, smiled into the handsome young
face in the moonlight and said: "Well--you know the kind of a fool I am,
Tom--now!"

"That's what you say, Henry--that's what you say now." Van Dorn turned
and looked at his friend. "You're sticking it out all right,
Henry--against the rum fiend--I presume? When does your sentence
expire?"

"Next October," answered Fenn.

"Going to make it then?"

"That's the understanding," returned Fenn.

"And you say you've got it bad," laughed Van Dorn. "And yet--say,
Henry--why didn't you do better with the jury this afternoon in the
Yengst case? Doesn't it--I mean that tremendous case you have on with
the Duchess of Müller--doesn't it put an edge on you? What was the
matter with you to-day?"

Fenn shook his head slowly and said: "It's different with me. I just
couldn't help feeling that if I was worth any woman's giving
herself--was worth anything as a man, I'd want to be dead square with
that Yengst creature--and I got to thinking, maybe in his place, drunk
and hungry--well, I just couldn't, Tom--because--because of--well, I
wanted her to marry a human being first--not a county attorney!"

"You're a damn fool!" retorted Van Dorn. "Do you think you'll succeed in
this world on that basis! I tell you if I was in love with a woman I'd
want to take that Yengst case and lay it before her as a trophy I'd
won--lay it before her like a dog!"

Fenn hesitated. He disliked to give pain. But finally he said, "I
suppose, Tom, I'd like to lay it before her--like a man!"

"Hell's delight!" sneered Van Dorn, and they turned off the subject of
the tender passion, and went to considering certain stipulations that
Van Dorn was asking of the county attorney in another matter before the
court.

The next day young Thomas Van Dorn began rather definitely to prepare
his pleading in still another suit in another court, and before the
summer's end, Morty Sands's mandolin was wrapped in its chamois skin bag
and locked in its mahogany case. Sometimes Morty, whistling softly and
dolefully, would pass the Nesbit home late at night, hoping that his
chirping might reach her heart; at times he made a rather formal call
upon the entire Nesbit family, which he was obviously encouraged to
repeat by the elders. But Morty was inclined to hide in the thicket of
his sorrow and twitter his heart out to the cold stars. Tom Van Dorn
pervaded the Nesbit home by day with his flowers and books and candy,
and by night--as many nights a week as he could buy, beg or steal--by
night he pervaded the Nesbit home like an obstinate haunt.

He fell upon the whole family and made violent love to the Doctor and
Mrs. Nesbit. He read Browning to the Doctor and did his errands in
politics like a retrieving dog. Mrs. Nesbit learned through him to her
great joy that the Satterthwaite, who was the maternal grandfather of
the Tory governor of Maryland, was not descended from the same Satterlee
hanged by King John in his war with the barons, but from the Sussex
branch of the family that remained loyal to the Crown. But Tom Van Dorn
wasted no time or strength in foolishness with the daughter of the
house. His attack upon her heart was direct and unhalting. He fended off
other suitors with a kind of animal jealousy. He drove her even from so
unimportant a family friend as Grant Adams.

Gradually, as the autumn deepened into winter and Tom Van Dorn found
himself spending more and more time in the girl's company he had
glimpses of his own low estate through the contrast forced upon him
daily by his knowledge of what a good woman's soul was. The
self-revelation frightened him; he was afraid of what he saw inside
himself in those days, and there can be no doubt that for a season his
soul was wrestling with its doom for release. No make-believe passion
was it that spurred him forward in his attack upon the heart of Laura
Nesbit. Within him, there raged the fierce battle between the spirit of
the times--crass, material and ruthless--and the spirit of things as
they should be. It was the old fight between compromise and the ideal.

As for the girl, she was in that unsettled mind in which young women in
their first twenties often find themselves when sensing by an instinct
new to them the coming of a grown-up man with real matrimonial
intentions. Given a girl somewhat above the middle height, with a slim,
full-blown figure, with fair hair, curling and blowing about a pink and
white face, and with solemn eyes--prematurely gray eyes, her father
called them--with red lips, with white teeth that flashed when she
smiled, and with a laugh like the murmur of gay waters; given a more
than usual amount of inherited good sense, and combine that with a world
of sentiment that perfect health can bring to a girl of twenty-two; then
add one exceptionally fascinating man of thirty--more or less--a
handsome young man; a successful man as young men go, with the
oratorical temperament and enough of a head to be a good consulting
lawyer as well as a jury lawyer with more than local reputation; add to
the young man that vague social iridescence, or aura or halo that young
men wear in glamor, and that old men wear in shame--a past; and then let
public opinion agree that he is his own worst enemy and declare that if
he only had some strong woman to take hold of him--and behold there are
the ingredients of human gunpowder!

Doctor Nesbit smelled the burning powder. Vainly he tried to stamp out
the fire before the explosion.

"Bedelia," said the Doctor one day, as the parents heard the girl
talking eagerly with the young man, "what do you make out of this
everlasting 'Tom, Tom, Tom,' out there in the living room?"

Mrs. Nesbit rocked in her chair and shook an ominous head. Finally she
said: "I wish he'd Tom himself home and stay there, Doctor." The wife
spoke as an oracle with emphasis and authority. "You must speak to the
child!"

The little man puckered his loose-skinned face into a sad, absurdly
pitiful smile and shrilled back:

"Yes--I did speak to her. And she--" he paused.

"Well?" demanded the mother.

"She just fed me back all the decent things I have said of Tom when he
has done my errands." He drummed his fingers helplessly on his chair and
sighed mournfully: "I wonder why I said those things! I really wonder!"

But the voices of the young people rose gayly and disturbed his musings.

It is easy now after a quarter of a century has unfolded its events for
us to lay blame and grow wise in retrospect. It is easy to say that what
happened was foredoomed to happen; and yet here was a man, walking up
and down the curved verandahs that Mrs. Nesbit had added to the house at
odd times, walking up and down, and speaking to a girl in the moonlight,
with much power and fire, of life and his dreams and his aspirations.

Over and over he had sung his mating song. Formerly he had made love as
he tried lawsuits, exhibiting only such fervor as the case required.
There can be no doubt, however, that when he made love to Laura Nesbit,
it was with all the powers of his heart and mind. If he could plead with
a jury for hire, if he could argue with the court and wrangle with
council, how could he meet reason, combat objections, and present the
case of his soul and make up the brief for his own destiny?

He did not try to shield himself when he wooed Laura Nesbit, but she saw
all that he could be. A woman has her vanity of sex, her elaborate,
prematernal pride in her powers, and when man appeals to a woman's
powers for saving him, when he submits the proofs that he is worth
saving, and when he is handsome, with an education in the lore of the
heart that gives him charm and breaks down reserves and barriers--but
these are bygones now--bygones these twenty-five years and more. What
was to be had to be, and what might have been never was, and what their
hopes and high aims were, whose hearts glowed in the fires of life in
Harvey so long ago--and what all our vain, unfruited hopes are worth,
only a just God who reads us truly may say. And a just God would give to
the time and the place, the spirit of the age, its share in all that
followed.



CHAPTER VIII

CAPTAIN MORTON ACTS AS COURT HERALD AND MORTY SANDS AND GRANT ADAMS HEAR
SAD NEWS


Spring in Mrs. Nesbit's garden, even in those days when a garden in
Harvey meant chiefly lettuce and radishes and peas, was no casual event.
Spring opened formally for the Nesbits with crocuses and hyacinths;
smiled genially in golden forsythia, bridal wreath and tulips, preened
itself in flags and lilacs before glowing in roses and peonies. Now the
spring is always wise; for it knows what the winter only hopes or fears.
Events burst forth in spring that have been hidden since their seedtime.
And it was with the coming of the first crocuses that Dr. Nesbit found
in his daughter's eyes a joyous look, new and exultant--a look which
never had been inspired by the love he lavished upon her. It was not
meant for him. Yet it was as truly a spring blossom as any that blushed
in the garden. When it came and when the father realized that the mother
also saw it, they feared to speak of it--even to themselves and by
indirection.

For they knew their winter conspiracies had failed. In vain was the trip
to Baltimore; in vain was the week with grand opera in New York, and
they both knew that the proposed trip to Europe never would occur. When
the parents saw that look of triumphant joy in their daughter's face,
when they saw how it lighted up her countenance like a flame when Tom
Van Dorn was near or was on his way to her, they knew that from the
secret recesses of her heart, from the depths of her being, love was
springing. They knew that they could not uproot it, and they had no
heart to try. For they accepted love as a fact of life, and felt that
when once it has seeded and grown upon a heart, it is a part of that
heart and only God's own wisdom and mercy may change the destiny that
love has written upon the life in which love rests. So in the wisdom of
the spring, the parents were mute and sad.

There was no hint of anger in their sorrow. They realized that if she
was wrong, and they were right, she needed them vastly more than if they
were wrong and she was right, and so they tried to rejoice with her--not
of course expressly and baldly, but in a thousand ways that lay about
them, they made her as happy as they could. Their sweet acquiescence in
what she knew was cutting the elders to the quick, gave the girl many an
hour of poignant distress. Yet the purpose of her heart was not moved.
The Satterthwaite in her was dominant.

"Doctor," spoke the wife one morning as they sat alone over their
breakfast, "I think--" She stopped, and he knew she was listening to the
daughter, who was singing in an undertone in the garden.

"Yes," he answered, "so do I. I think they have settled it."

The man dropped his glance to the table before him, where his hands
rested helplessly and cried, "Bedelia--I don't--I don't like it!"

The color of her woe darkened Mrs. Nesbit's face as her features
trembled for a second, before she controlled herself. "No, Jim--no--no!
I don't--I'm afraid--afraid, of I don't know what!"

"Of course, he's of excellent family--the very best!" the wife ventured.

"And he's making money--and has lots of money from his people!" returned
the father.

"And he's a man among men!" added the mother.

"Oh, yes--very much that,--and he's trying to be decent! Honestly,
Bedelia, I believe the fellow's got a new grip on himself!" The Doctor's
voice had regained its timbre; it was just a little hard, and it broke
an instant later as he cried: "O Lord, Lord, mother--we can't fool
ourselves; let's not try!" They looked into the garden, where the girl
stood by the blooming lilacs with her arms filled with blossoms.

At length the mother spoke, "What shall we do?"

"What can we do?" the Doctor echoed. "What can any human creatures do in
these cases! To interfere does no good! The thing is here. Why has it
come? I don't know." He repeated the last sentence piteously, and went
on gently:

"'They say it was a stolen tide--the Lord who sent it, He knows all!'
But why--why--why--did it wash in here? What does it mean? What have we
done--and what--what has she done?"

The little Doctor looked up into the strong face of his wife rather
helplessly, then the time spirit that is after all our sanity--touched
them, and they smiled. "Perhaps, Jim," the smile broke into something
almost like a laugh, "father said something like that to mother the day
I stood among the magnolias trying to pluck courage with the flowers to
tell him that I was going with you!"

They succeeded in raising a miserable little laugh, and he squeezed her
hand.

The girl moved toward the house. The father turned and put on his hat as
he went to meet her. She was a hesitant, self-conscious girl in pink,
who stopped her father as he toddled down the front steps with his
medicine case, and she put her hand upon him, saying:

"Father," she paused, looking eagerly at him, then continued, "there's
the loveliest yellow flag over here." The father smiled, put his arm
about the girl and piped: "So the pink rosebud will take us to the
yellow flag!" They walked across the garden to the flower and she
exclaimed: "Oh, father--isn't it lovely!"

The father looked tenderly into her gray eyes, patted her on the
shoulder and with his arm still about her, he led her to a seat under
the lilacs before the yellow flower. He looked from the flower to her
face and then kissed her as he whispered: "Oh my dear, my dear." She
threw her arms about him and buried her face, all flushed, upon his
shoulder. He felt her quiver under the pressure of his arm and before
she could look at him, she spoke:

"Oh, father! Father! You--you won't--you won't blame--" Then she lifted
up her face to his and cried passionately: "But all the world could not
stop it now--not now! But, oh, father, I want you with me," and she
shook his arm. "You must understand. You must see Tom as I see him,
father." She looked the question of her soul in an anxious, searching
glance. Her father reached for one of her hands and patted it. He gazed
downward at the yellow iris, but did not see it.

"Yes, dear, I know--I understand."

"I was sure that you would know without my spelling it all out to you.
But, oh, father," she cried, "I don't want you and mother to feel as you
do about Tom, for you are wrong. You are all--all wrong!"

The Doctor's fat hand pressed the strong hand of the girl. "Well," he
began slowly, his high-keyed voice was pitched to a soft tone and he
spoke with a woman's gentleness, "Tom's quite a man, but--" he could
only repeat, "quite a man." Then he added gently: "And I feel that he
thinks it's genuine now--his--love for you, daughter." The Doctor's face
twitched, and he swallowed a convulsive little sob as he said,
"Laura--child--can't you see, it really makes no difference about
Tom--not finally!" He blinked and gulped and went on with renewed
courage. "Can't you see, child--you're all we've got--mother and I--and
if you want Tom--why--" his face began to crumple, but he controlled it,
and blurted out, "Why by johnnie you can have him. And what's more," his
voice creaked with emotion as he brought his hand down on his knee, "I'm
going to make Tom the best father-in-law in the whole United States."
His body rocked for a moment as he spurred himself to a last effort.
Then he said: "And mother--mother'll be--mother will--she'll make him--"
he could get no further, but he felt the pressure of her hand, and knew
that she understood. "Mother and I just want you to be happy and if it
takes Tom for that--why Tom's what it takes, I guess--and that's all we
want to know!"

The girl felt the tears on his face as she laid her cheek against his.

Then she spoke: "But you don't know him, father! You don't understand
him! It's beautiful to be able to do what I can do--but," she shuddered,
"it's so awful--I mean all that devil that used to be in him. He is so
ashamed, so sorry--and it's gone--all gone--all, every bit of it gone,
father!" She put her father's hand to her flaming cheek and whispered,
"You think so, don't you, father?"

The father's eyes filled again and his throat choked. "Laura," he said
very gently, "my professional opinion is this: You've a fighting chance
with Tom Van Dorn--about one in ten. He's young. You're a strong,
forceful woman--lots of good Satterthwaite in you, and precious little
of the obliging Nesbits. Now I'll tell you the truth, Laura; Tom's got a
typical cancer on his soul. But he's young; and you're young, and just
now he's undergoing a moral regeneration. You are new blood. You may
purify him. If the moral tissue isn't all rotten, you may cure him."

The girl gripped her father's hand and cried: "But you think I
can--father, you think I can?"

"No," piped the little man sadly, "no, daughter, I don't think you can.
But I hope you can; and if you'd like to know, I'm going to pray the God
that sent me to your mother to give you the sense and power He gave
her." The Doctor smiled, withdrew his arm, and started for the street.
He turned, "And if you do save him, Laura, I'll be mighty proud of you.
For," he squeaked good naturedly, "it's a big job--but when you've done
it you'll have something to show for it--I'll say that for him--you'll
certainly have something to show for it," he repeated. He did not
whistle as he walked down the street and the daughter thought that he
kept his eyes upon the ground. As he was about to pass from her view, he
turned, waved his hand and threw her a kiss, and with it she felt a
blessing.

But curiously enough she saw only one of the goodly company of Doctor
Nesbits that trudged down the hill in his white linen suit, under his
broad-brimmed panama hat. Naturally she hardly might be expected to see
the conscienceless boss of Hancock and Greely counties, who handled the
money of privilege seekers and bought and sold men gayly as a part of
the day's work. Nor could she be expected to see the helpless little man
whose face crumpled, whose heart sank and whose courage melted as he
stood beside her in the garden, the sad, hopeless little man who, as he
went down the hill was captain of the groups that walked under his hat
that hour. The amiable Doctor, who was everybody's friend and was loyal
to those who served him, the daughter neglected that day; and the State
Senator did not attract her. She saw only a gentle, tender,
understanding father, whose love shone out of his face like a beacon and
who threw merry kisses as he disappeared down the hill--a ruddy-faced,
white phantom in a golden spring day!

Some place between his home and Market Street the father retired and the
politician took command of Dr. Nesbit's soul. And he gave thought to the
Nesbit machine. The job of the moment before the machine was to make
George Brotherton, who had the strength of a man who belonged to all the
lodges in town, mayor of Harvey. "Help Harvey Hump" was George's
alliterative slogan, and the translation of the slogan into terms of
Nesbitese was found in a rather elaborate plan to legalize the issuance
of bonds by the coal and oil towns adjacent to Harvey, so that Daniel
Sands could spin out his web of iron and copper and steel,--rails and
wires and pipes into these huddles of shanties that he might sell them
light and heat and power and communication and transportation.

Even the boss--even Old Linen Pants--was not without his sense of humor,
nor without his joyous moments when he relished human nature in large,
raw portions. As he walked down the hill there flashed across his mind a
consciousness of the pride of George Brotherton in his candidacy. That
pride expressed itself in a feud George had with Violet Mauling who,
having achieved stenography, was installed in the offices of Calvin &
Van Dorn as a stenographer--the stenographer in fact. She on her part
was profoundly proud of her job and expressed her pride in overhanging
and exceeding mischievous looking bangs upon her low and rather narrow
brow. In the feud between George and Violet, it was her consecrated task
to keep him waiting as long as possible before admitting him to Van
Dorn's inner room, and it was Mr. Brotherton's idea never to call her by
her right name, nor by any name twice in succession. She was Inez or
Maude or Mabel or Gwendolyn or Pet or Sweetheart or Dearest, in rapid
succession, and in return for his pseudonymnal attentions, Mr.
Brotherton always was sure of receiving from Miss Mauling upon leaving
the office, an elaborately turned-up nose. For Miss Mauling was peevish
and far from happy. She had been conscious for nearly a year that her
power over young Mr. Van Dorn was failing, or that her charms were
waning, or that something was happening to clog or cloy her romance. On
a certain May morning she had sat industriously writing, "When in the
course of human events," "When in the course of human events it becomes
necessary," "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for
a people to separate--" upon her typewriter, over and over and over
again, while she listened to Captain Morton selling young Mr. Van Dorn a
patent churn, and from the winks and nods and sly digs and nudges the
Captain distributed through his canvass, it was obvious to Miss Mauling
that affairs in certain quarters had reached a point.

That evening at Brotherton's Amen corner, where the gay young blades of
the village were gathered--Captain Morton decided that as court herald
of the community he should proclaim the banns between Thomas Van Dorn
and Laura Nesbit. Naturally he desired a proper entrance into the
conversation for his proclamation, but with the everlasting ting-aling
and tym-ty-tum of Nathan Perry's mandolin and the jangling accompaniment
of Morty's mandolin, opening for the court herald was not easy. Grant
Adams was sitting at the opposite end of the bench from the Captain,
deep in one of Mr. Brotherton's paper bound books--to-wit, "The Stones
of Venice," and young Joe Calvin sadly smoking his first stogy, though
still in his knickerbockers, was greedily feasting his eyes upon a copy
of the pink Police _Gazette_ hanging upon a rack above the counter.
Henry Fenn and Mr. Brotherton were lounging over the cigar case,
discussing matters of state as they affected a county attorney and a
mayor, when the Captain, clearing his throat, addressed Mr. Brotherton
thus:

"George--I sold two patent churns to two bridegrooms to-day--eh?" As the
music stopped the Captain, looking at Henry Fenn, added reflectively:
"Bet you four bits, George, you can't name the other one--what say?" No
one said and the Captain took up his solo. "Well--it's this-away: I see
what I see next door. And I hear what my girls say. So this morning I
sashays around the yard till I meets a certain young lady a standing by
the yaller rose bush next to our line fence and I says: 'Good morning
madam,' I says, 'from what I see and hear and cogitate,' I says, 'it's
getting about time for you to join my list of regular customers.' And
she kind of laughs like a Swiss bellringer's chime--the way she laughs;
and she pretended she didn't understand. So I broadens out and says, 'I
sold Rhody Kollander her first patent rocker the day she came to town to
begin housekeeping with. I sold your pa and ma a patent gate before they
had a fence. I sold Joe Calvin's woman her first apple corer, and I
started Ahab Wright up in housekeeping by selling him a Peerless cooker.
I've sold household necessities to every one of the Mrs. Sandses' and 'y
gory, madam,' I says, 'next to the probate court and the preacher, I'm
about the first necessity of a happy marriage in this man's town,' I
says, 'and it looks to me,' I says, 'it certainly looks to me--' And I
laughs and she laughs, all redded up and asts: 'Well, what are you
selling this spring, Captain?' And I says, 'The Appomattox churn,' and
then one word brought on another and she says finally, 'You just tell
Tom to buy one for the first of our Lares and Penates,' though I got the
last word wrong and tried to sell him Lares and spuds and then Lares and
Murphies before he got what I was drivin' at. But I certainly sold the
other bridegroom, Henry--eh?"

A silence greeted the Captain's remarks. In it the "Stones of Venice"
grew bleak and cold for Grant Adams. He rose and walked rather aimlessly
toward the water cooler in the rear of the store and gulped down two
cups of water. When he came back to the bench the group there was busy
with the Captain's news. But the music did not start again. Morty Sands
sat staring into the pearl inlaid ring around the hole in his mandolin,
and his chin trembled. The talk drifted away from the Captain's
announcement in a moment, and Morty saw Grant Adams standing by the
door, looking through a window into the street. Grant seemed a tower of
strength. For a few minutes Morty tried to restore his soul by thrumming
a tune--a sweet, tinkly little tune, whose words kept dinging in his
head:

    "Love comes like a summer sigh, softly o'er us stealing;
    Love comes and we wonder why, at love's shrine we're kneeling!"

But that only unsteadied his chin further. So he tucked his mandolin
under his arm, and moved rather stupidly over to Grant Adams. To Morty,
Grant Adams, even though half a dozen years his junior, represented
cousinship and fellowship. As Morty rose Grant stepped through the open
door into the street and stood on the curb. Morty came tiptoeing up to
the great rawboned youth and whispered:

"Grant--Grant--I'm so--so damned unhappy! You don't mind my telling
you--do you?" Grant felt the arm of his cousin tighten around his own
arm. Grant stared at the stars, and Morty gazed at the curb; presently
he drew a deep sigh and said: "Thank you, Grant." He relaxed his hold of
the boy's arm and walked away with his head down, and disappeared around
the corner into the night. Slowly Grant followed him. Once or twice or
perhaps three times he heard Morty trying vainly to thrum the sad little
tune about the waywardness of love.



CHAPTER IX

WHEREIN HENRY FENN MAKES AN INTERESTING EXPERIMENT


The formal announcement of the engagement of Laura Nesbit and Thomas Van
Dorn came when Mrs. Nesbit began tearing out the old floors on the
second story of the Nesbit home and replacing them with hardwood floors.
Having the carpenters handy she added a round tower with which to
impress the Schenectady Van Dorns with the importance of the Maryland
Satterthwaites. In this architectural outburst the town read the news of
the engagement. The town was so moved by the news that Mrs. Hilda
Herdicker was able to sell to the young women of her millinery
suzerainty sixty-three hats, which had been ordered "especially for
Laura Nesbit," at prices ranging from $2.00 to $57. Each hat was
carefully, indeed furtively, brought from under the counter, or from the
back room of the shop or from a box on a high shelf and secretly
exhibited and sold with injunctions that the Nesbits must not be told
what Mrs. Herdicker had done. One of these hats was in reach of Violet
Mauling's humble twenty dollars! Poor Violet was having a sad time in
those days. No candy, no soda water, no ice cream, no flowers; no buggy
rides, however clandestine, nor fervid glances--nothing but hard work
was her unhappy lot and an occasional clash with Mr. Brotherton. Thus
the morning after the newly elected Mayor had heard the formal
announcement of the engagement, he hurried to the offices of Calvin &
Van Dorn to congratulate his friend:

"Hello, Maudie," said Mr. Brotherton. "Oh, it isn't Maudie--well then,
Trilby, tell Mr. Van Dorn the handsome gentleman has came."

Hearing Brotherton's noise Van Dorn appeared, to summon his guest to the
private office.

"Well, you lucky old dog!" was Mr. Brotherton's greeting. "Well,
say--this is his honor, the Mayor, come up to collect your dog tax!
Well, say!" As he walked into the office all the secret society pins and
charms and signets--the Shriners' charm, the Odd Fellows' links, the
Woodmen's ax, the Elks' tooth, the Masons' square and compass, the
Knights Templars' arms, were glistening upon his wrinkled front like a
mosaic of jewels!

Mr. Brotherton shook his friend's hand, repeating over and over, "Well,
say--" After the congratulatory ceremony was finished Mr. Brotherton
cried, "You old scoundrel--I'd rather have your luck than a license to
steal in a mint!" Then with an eye to business, he suggested: "I'll just
about open a box of ten centers down at my home of the letters and arts
for you when the boys drop around!" He backed out of the room still
shaking Mr. Van Dorn's hand, and still roaring, "Well, say!" In the
outer office he waved a gracious hand at Miss Mauling and cried, "Three
sugars, please, Sadie--that will do for cream!" and went laughing his
seismic laugh down the stairs.

That evening the cigar box stood on the counter in Brotherton's store.
It was wreathed in smilax like a votive offering and on a card back of
the box Mr. Brotherton had written these pious words:

    "In loving memory of the late Tom Van Dorn,
                    Recently engaged.
    For here, kind friends, we all must lie;
    Turn, Sinner, turn before ye die!
                   _Take_ one."

Seeing the box in the cloister and the brotherhood assembled upon the
walnut bench Dr. Nesbit, who came in on a political errand, sniffed, and
turned to Amos Adams. "Well, Amos," piped the Doctor, "how's Lincoln
this evening?"

The editor looked up amiably at the pudgy, white-clad figure of the
Doctor, and replied casually though earnestly, "Well, Doc Jim, I
couldn't seem to get Lincoln to-day. But I did have a nice chat with
Beecher last night and he said: 'Your friend, Dr. Nesbit, I observe, is
a low church Congregationalist.' And when I asked what he meant Beecher
replied, 'High church Congregationalists believe in New England; low
church Congregationalists believe in God!' Sounds like him--I could just
see him twitching his lips and twinkling his eyes when it came!" Captain
Morton looked suspiciously over his steel-bowed glasses to say testily:

"'Y gory, Amos--that thing will get you yet--what say?" he asked,
turning for confirmation to the Doctor.

Amos Adams smiled gently at the Captain, but addressed the Doctor
eagerly, as one more capable of understanding matters occult: "And I'll
tell you another thing--Mr. Left is coming regularly now."

"Mr. Left?" sniffed the Captain.

"Yes," explained the editor carefully, "I was telling the Doctor last
week that if I go into a dark room and blindfold myself and put a pencil
in my left hand, a control who calls himself Mr. Left comes and writes
messages from the Other Side."

"Any more sense to 'em than your crazy planchette?" scoffed Captain
Morton.

The editor closed his eyes in triumph. "Read our editorial this week on
President Cleveland and the Money Power?" he asked. The Captain nodded.
"Mr. Left got it without the scratch of a 't' or the dot of an 'i' from
Samuel J. Tilden." He opened his eyes to catch the astonishment of the
listeners.

"Humph!" snorted the Doctor in his high, thin voice, "Old Tilden seems
to have got terribly chummy with Karl Marx in the last two years."

"Well, I didn't write it, and Mary says it's not even like my handwrite.
And that reminds me, Doctor, I got to get her prescription filled again.
That tonic you give her seems to be kind of wearing off. The baby you
know--" he stopped a moment vaguely. "Someway she doesn't seem strong."

Only the Doctor caught Grant's troubled look.

The Doctor snapped his watch, and looked at Brotherton. The Doctor was
not the man to loaf long of an autumn evening before any election, and
he turned to Amos and said: "All right, Amos--we'll fix up something for
Mary a little later. Now, George--get out that Fourth Ward voters' list
and let's get to work!"

The group turned to the opening door and saw Henry Fenn, resplendent in
a high silk hat and a conspicuously Sunday best suit, which advertised
his condition, standing in the open door. "Good evening, gentlemen," he
said slowly.

A look of common recognition of Fenn's case passed around the group in
the corner. Fenn saw the look as he came in. He was walking painfully
straight. "I may," he said, lapsing into the poetry that came welling
from his memory and marked him for a drunken fool, "I may," opening his
ardent eyes and glancing affectionately about, "have been toying with
'lucent syrups tinct with cinnamon' and my feet may be 'uncertain, coy
and hard to please,'" he grinned with wide amiability, "but my head is
clear as a bell." His eyes flashed nervously about the shop, resting
upon nothing, seeing everything. He spied Grant, "Hello, Red," exclaimed
Mr. Fenn, "glad to see you back again. 'M back again myself. Ye crags
'n' peaks 'm with you once again." As he nourished his silk hat he saw
the consternation on Brotherton's big, moon face. Walking behind the
counter he clapped both hands down on Brotherton's big shoulders.
"Georgy, Georgy," he repeated mournfully:

"Old story, Georgy. Fight--fight, fight, then just a little, just a very
little surrender; not going to give in, but just a nip for old sake's
sake. Whoo-oo-oo-oo-p the skyrocket blazes and is gone, and then just
another nip to cool the first and then a God damn big drink and--and--"

He laughed foolishly and leaned forward on the counter. As his arm
touched the counter it brushed the smilax covered cigar box and sent the
box and the cigars to the floor.

"Henry, you fool--you poor fool," cried Brotherton; but his voice was
not angry as he said: "If you must mess up your own affairs for Heaven's
sake have some respect for Tom's!"

"Tom's love affairs and mine," sneered the maudlin man. "'They grew in
beauty side by side.' But don't you fool yourself," and Fenn wagged a
drunken head, "Tom's devil isn't, dead, she sleepeth, that's what she
does. The maiden is not dead she sleepeth, and some day she'll wake up
and then Tom's love affair will be where my love affair is." His eyes
met the doctor's. Fenn sighed and laughed fatuously and then he
straightened up and said: "Mr. George Brotherton, most worshipful
master, Senior Warden, Grand High Potentate, Keeper of the Records and
Seals--hear me. I'm going out to No. 826 Congress Street to see the
fairest of her sex--the fairest of her sex." Then he smiled like the
flash of a burning soul and continued:

    "'The cold, the changed, perchance the dead anew,
    The mourned, the loved, the lost.'"

And sighing a deep sigh, and again waving his silk hat in a profound
bow, he was gone. The group in the store saw him step lightly into a
waiting hack, and drive away out of their reach. Brotherton stood at the
door and watched the carriage turn off Market Street, then came back,
shaking a sorrowful head. He looked up at the Doctor and said: "She's
bluffing--say, Doctor, you know her, what do you think?"

"Bluffing," returned the Doctor absently, then added quickly: "Come now,
George, get your voters' list! It's getting late!"

George Brotherton looked blankly at the group. In every face but the
Doctor's a genuine sorrow for their friend was marked. "Doc," Brotherton
began apologetically, "I guess I'll just have to get you to let me off
to-night!" He hesitated; then as he saw the company around him backing
him up, "Why, Doc, the way I feel right now I don't care if the whole
county ticket is licked! I can't work to-night, Doc--I just can't!"

The Doctor's face as he listened, changed. It was as though another soul
had come upon the deck of his countenance. He answered softly in his
piping voice, "No man could, George--after that!" Then turning to Grant
the Doctor said gently, as one reminded of a forgotten purpose:

"Come along with me, Grant." They mounted the stairs to the Doctor's
office and when the door was closed the Doctor motioned Grant to a chair
and piped sharply: "Grant, Kenyon is wearing your mother's life out.
I've just been down to see her. Look here, Grant, I want to know about
Margaret? Does she ever come to see you folks--how does she treat
Kenyon?"

Looking at the floor, Grant answered slowly, "Well she rode down on her
wheel on his first birthday--slipped in when we were all out but mother,
and cried and went on about her poor child, mother said, and left him a
pair of little knit slippers. And she wrote him a birthday card the
second time, but we didn't hear from her this time." He paused. "She
never looks at him on the street, and she's just about quit speaking to
me. But last winter, she came down and cried around one afternoon.
Mother sent for her, I think."

"Why!" asked the Doctor quickly.

"Well," hesitated Grant, "it was when mother was first taken sick. I
think father and mother thought maybe Maggie might see things
different--well, about Kenyon." He stopped.

"Maggie and you?" prompted the Doctor.

"Well, something like that, perhaps," replied the boy.

The Doctor pushed back in his chair abruptly and cut in shrilly, "They
still think you and Margaret should marry on account of Kenyon?" Grant
nodded. "Do you want to marry her?" The Doctor leaned forward in his
chair, watching the boy. The Doctor saw the flash of revulsion that
spread over the youth's face before Grant raised his head, and met the
Doctor's keen gaze and answered soberly, "I would if it was best."

"Well," the Doctor returned as if to himself. "I suppose so." To the
younger man, he said: "Grant, she wouldn't marry you. She is after
bigger game. As far as reforming Henry Fenn's concerned, she's bluffing.
It doesn't interest her any more than Kenyon's lack of a mother."

The Doctor rose and Grant saw that the interview was over. The Doctor
left the youth at the foot of the stairway and went out into the autumn
night, where the stars could blink at all his wisdom. Though he, poor
man, did not know that they were winking. For often men who know good
women and love them well, are as unjust to weak women as men are who
know only those women who are frail.

That night Margaret Müller sat on the porch, where Henry Fenn left her,
considering her problem. Now this problem did not remotely concern the
Adamses--nor even Kenyon Adams. Margaret Müller's problem was centered
in Henry Fenn, County Attorney of Greeley County; Henry Fenn, who had
visited her gorgeously drunk; Henry Fenn on whose handsome shoulder she
had enjoyed rather keenly shedding some virtuous tears in chiding him
for his broken promise. Yet she knew that she would take him back. And
she knew that he knew that he might come back. For she had moved far
forward in the siege of Harvey. She was well within the walls of the
beleaguered city, and was planning for the larger siege of life and
destiny.

About all there is in life is one's fundamental choice between the
spiritual and the material. After that choice is made, the die of life
is cast. Events play upon that choice their curious pattern, bringing
such griefs and joys, such calamities and winnings as every life must
have. For that choice makes character, and character makes happiness.
Margaret Müller sitting there in the night long after the last step of
Henry Fenn had died away, thought of her lover's arms, remembered her
lover's lips, but clearer and more moving than these vain things, her
mind showed her what his hands could bring her and if her soul waved a
duty signal, for the salvation of Henry Fenn, she shut her eyes to the
signal and hurried into the house.

She was one of God's miracles of beauty the next day as she passed Grant
Adams on the street, with his carpenter's box on his arm, going from the
mine shaft to do some work in the office of the attorney for the mines.
She barely nodded to Grant, yet the radiance of her beauty made him turn
his head to gaze at her. Doctor Nesbit did that, and Captain Morton, and
Dick Bowman,--even John Kollander turned, putting up his ear trumpet as
if to hear the glory of her presence; the whole street turned after her
as though some high wind had blown human heads backward when she passed.
They saw a lithe, exquisite animal figure, poised strongly on her feet,
walking as in the very pride of sex, radiating charms consciously, but
with all the grace of a flower in the breeze. Her bright eyes, her
masses of dark hair, her dimpled face and neck, her lips that flamed
with the joy of life, the enchantment of her whole body, was so complete
a thing that morning, that she might well have told her story to the
world. The little Doctor knew what her answer to Henry Fenn had been and
always would be. He knew as well as though she had told him. In spite of
himself, his heart melted a little and he had consciously to stop
arguing with himself that she had done the wise thing; that to throw
Henry over would only hasten an end, which her powerful personality
might finally avert. But George Brotherton--when he saw the light in her
eyes, was sad. In the core of him, because he loved his friend, he knew
what had happened to that friend. He was sad--sad and resentful, vaguely
and without reason, at the mien and bearing of Margaret Müller as she
went to her work that morning.

Brotherton remembered her an hour later when, in the back part of the
bookstore Henry Fenn sat, jaded, haggard, and with his dull face drawn
with remorse,--a burned-out sky rocket. Brotherton was busy with his
customers, but in a lull, and between sales as the trade passed in and
out, they talked. Sometimes a customer coming in would interrupt them,
but the talk went on as trade flowed by. It ran thus:

"Yes, George, but it's my salvation. She's the only anchor I have on
earth."

"But she didn't hold you yesterday."

"I know, but God, George, it was terrific, the way that thing grabbed me
yesterday. But it's all gone now."

"I know, Henry, but it will come back--can't you see what you'll be
doing to her?"

Fenn, gray of face, with his straight, colorless hair, with his staring
eyes, with his listless form, sat head in hands, gazing at the floor. He
did not look up as he replied: "George, I just can't give her up; I
won't give her up," he cried. "I believe, after the depths of love she
showed me in her soul last night, I'd take her, if I knew I was taking
us both to hell. Just let me have a home, George,--and her and
children--George, I know children would hold me--lots of children--I can
make money. I've got money--all I need to marry on, and we'll have a
home and children and they will hold me--keep me up."

In Volume XXI of the "Psychological Society's Publications," page 374,
will be found a part of the observations of "Mr. Left," together with
copious notes upon the Adams case by an eminent authority. The excerpt
herewith printed is attributed by Mr. Left to Darwin or Huxley or
perhaps one of the Brownings--it is unimportant to note just which one,
for Mr. Left gleaned from a wide circle of intellects. The interesting
thing is that about the time these love affairs we are considering were
brewing, Mr. Left wrote: "If the natural selection of love is the
triumph of evolution on this planet, if the free choice of youth and
maiden, unhampered by class or nationality, or wealth, or age, or
parental interference, or thought of material advantage, is the greatest
step taken by life since it came mysteriously into this earth, how much
of the importance of the natural selection of youth in love hangs upon
full and free access to all the data necessary for choice."

What irony was in the free choice of these lovers here in Harvey that
day when Mr. Left wrote this. What did Henry Fenn know of the heart or
the soul of the woman he adored? What did Laura Nesbit know of her lover
and what did he know of her? They all four walked blindfolded. Free
choice for them was as remote and impossible as it would have been if
they had been auctioned into bondage.



CHAPTER X

IN WHICH MARY ADAMS TAKES A MUCH NEEDED REST


The changing seasons moved from autumn to winter, from winter to spring.
One gray, wet March day, Grant Adams stood by the counter asking Mr.
Brotherton to send to the city for roses.

"White roses, a dozen white roses." Mr. Brotherton turned his broad back
as he wrote the order, and said gently: "They'll be down on No. 11
to-night, Grant; I'll send 'em right out."

As Grant stood hesitating, ready to go, but dreading the street, Dr.
Nesbit came in. He pressed the youth's hand and did not speak. He bought
his tobacco and stood cleaning his pipe. "Could your father sleep any
after--when I left, Grant?" asked the Doctor.

The young man shook his head. "Mrs. Nesbit is out there, isn't she?" the
Doctor asked again.

"Yes," replied the youth, "she and Laura came out before we had
breakfast. And Mrs. Dexter is there."

"Has any one else come?" asked the Doctor, looking up sharply from his
pipe, and added, "I sent word to Margaret Müller."

Grant shook his head and the Doctor left the shop. At the doorway he met
Captain Morton, and seemed to be telling him the news, for the Captain's
face showed the sorrow and concern that he felt. He hurried in and took
Grant's hand and held it affectionately.

"Grant, your mother was with my wife her last night on earth; I wish I
could help you, son. I'll run right down to your father."

And the Captain left in the corner of the store the model of a patent
coffee pot he was handling at the time and went away without his morning
paper. Mr. Van Dorn came in, picked up his paper, snipped off the end of
his cigar at the machine, lighted the cigar, considered his fine raiment
a moment, adjusted his soft hat at a proper angle, pulled up his tie,
and seeing the youth, said: "By George, young man, this is sad news I
hear; give the good father my sympathy. Too bad."

When Grant went home, the silence of death hung over the little house,
in spite of the bustling of Mrs. Nesbit. And Grant sat outside on a
stone by his father under the gray sky.

In the house the prattle of the child with the women made the house seem
pitifully lonesome. Jasper was expressing his sorrow by chopping wood
down in the timber. Jasper was an odd sheep in the flock; he was a Sands
after Daniel's own heart. So Grant and his father sat together mourning
in silence. Finally the father drew in a deep broken breath, and spoke
with his eyes on the ground:

"'These also died in the faith, without having received the promise!'"
Then he lifted up his face and mourned, "Mary--Mary--" and again, "Oh,
Mary, we need--" The child's voice inside the house calling fretfully,
"Mother! mother!" came to the two and brought a quick cramp to the older
man's throat and tears to his eyes. Finally, Amos found voice to say:

"I was thinking how we--you and I and Jasper need mother! But our need
is as nothing compared with the baby's. Poor--lonely little thing! I
don't know what to do for him, Grant." He turned to his son helplessly.

Again the little voice was lifted, and Laura Nesbit could be heard
hushing the child's complaint. Not looking at his father, Grant spoke:
"Dr. Nesbit said he had let Margaret know--"

The father shook his head and returned, "I presumed he would!" He looked
into his son's face and said: "Maggie doesn't see things as we do, son.
But, oh--what can we do! And the little fellow needs her--needs some
one, who will love him and take care of him. Oh, Mary--Mary--" he cried
from his bewildered heart. "Be with us, Mary, and show us what to do!"

Grant rose, went into the house, bundled up Kenyon and between showers
carried him and walked with him through the bleak woods of March, where
the red bird's joyous song only cut into his heart and made the young
man press closer to him the little form that snuggled in his arms.

At night Jasper went to his room above the kitchen and the father turned
to his lonely bed. In the cold parlor Mary Adams lay. Grant sat in the
kitchen by the stove, pressing to his face his mother's apron, only
three days before left hanging by her own hands on the kitchen door. He
clung to this last touch of her fingers, through the long night, and as
he sat there his heart filled with a blind, vague, rather impotent
purpose to take his mother's place with Kenyon. From time to time he
rose to put wood in the stove, but always when he went back to his
chair, and stroked the apron with his face, the baby seemed to be
clinging to him. The thought of the little hands forever tugging at her
apron racked him with sobs long after his tears were gone.

And so as responsibility rose in him he stepped across the border from
youth to manhood.

They made him dress in his Sunday best the next morning and he was still
so close to that borderland of boyhood that he was standing about the
yard near the gate, looking rather lost and awkward when the Nesbits
drove up with Kenyon, whom they had taken for the night. When the others
had gone into the house the Doctor asked:

"Did she come, Grant?"

The youth lifted his face to the Doctor and looked him squarely in the
eye as man to man and answered sharply, "No."

The Doctor cocked one eye reflectively and said slowly, "So--" and drove
away.

It was nearly dusk when the Adamses came back from the cemetery to the
empty house. But a bright fire was burning in the kitchen stove and the
kettle was boiling and the odor of food cooking in the oven was in the
air. Kenyon was moving fitfully about the front room. Mrs. Dexter was
quietly setting the table. Amos Adams hung up his hat, took off his
coat, and went to his rocker by the kitchen door; Jasper sat stiffly in
the front room. Grant met Mrs. Dexter in the dining room, and she saw
that the child had hold of the young man's finger and she heard the baby
calling, "Mother--mother! Grant, I want mother!" with a plaintive little
cry, over and over again. Grant played with the child, showed the little
fellow his toys and tried to stop the incessant call of
"Mother--mother--where's mother!" At last the boy's eyes filled. He
picked up the child, knocking his own new hat roughly to the floor. He
drew up his chin, straightened his trembling jaw, batted his eyes so
that the moisture left them and said to his father in a hard, low
voice--a man's voice:

"I am going to Margaret; she must help."

It was dark when he came to town and walked up Congress Street with the
little one snuggled in his arms. Just before he arrived at the house,
the restless child had asked to walk, and they went hand in hand up the
steps of the house where Margaret Müller lived. She was sitting alone on
the veranda--clearly waiting for some one, and when she saw who was
coming up the steps she rose and hurried to them, greeting them on the
very threshold of the veranda. She was white and her bosom was
fluttering as she asked in a tense whisper:

"What do you want--quick, what do you want?"

She stood before Grant, as if stopping his progress. The child's
plaintive cry, "Mother--Grant, I want mother!" not in grief, but in a
great question, was the answer.

He looked into her staring, terror-stricken eyes until they drooped and
for a moment he dominated her. But she came back from some outpost of
her nature with reënforcements.

"Get out of here--get out of here. Don't come here with your brat--get
out," she snarled in a whisper. The child went to her, plucked her
skirts and cried, "Mother, mother." Grant pointed to the baby and broke
out: "Oh, Maggie--what's to become of Kenyon?--what can I do! He's only
got you now. Oh, Maggie, won't you come?" He saw fear flit across her
face in a tense second before she answered. Then fear left and she
crouched at him trembling, red-eyed, gaping, mouthed, the embodiment of
determined hate; swiping the child's little hands away from her, she
snapped:

"Get out of here!--leave! quick!" He stood stubbornly before her and
only the child's voice crying, "Grant, Grant, I want to go home to
mother," filled the silence. Finally she spoke again, cutting through
the baby's complaint. "I shall never, never, never take that child; I
loathe him, and I hate you and I want both of you always to keep away
from me."

Without looking at her again, he caught up the toddling child, lifted it
to his shoulder and walked down the steps. As they turned into the
street they ran into Henry Fenn, who in his free choice of a mate was
hurrying to one who he thought would give him a home--a home and
children, many children to stand between him and his own insatiate
devil. Henry greeted Grant:

"Why, boy--oh, yes, been to see Maggie? I wish she could help you,
Grant."

And from the veranda came a sweet, rich voice, crying:

"Yes, Henry--do you know where they can get a good nurse girl?"



CHAPTER XI

HERE OUR FOOL GROPES FOR A SPIRIT AND CAN FIND ONLY DUST


Henry Fenn and Margaret Müller sat naming their wedding day, while Grant
Adams walked home with his burden. Henry Fenn had been fighting through
a long winter, against the lust for liquor that was consuming his flesh.
At times it seemed to him that her presence as he fought his battle,
helped him; but there were phases of his fight, when she too fashioned
herself in his imagination as a temptress, and she seemed to blow upon
the coals that were searing his weak flesh.

At such times he was taciturn, and went about his day's work as one who
is busy at a serious task. He smiled his amiable smile, he played his
man's part in the world without whimpering, and fought on like a
gentleman. The night he met Grant and the child at the steps of the
house where Margaret lived, he had called to set the day for their
marriage. And that night she glowed before him and in his arms like a
very brand of a woman blown upon by some wind from another world. When
he left her his throat grew parched and dry and his lips quivered with a
desire for liquor that seemed to simmer in his vitals. But he set his
teeth, and ran to his room, and locked himself in, throwing the key out
of the window into the yard. He sat shivering and whimpering and
fighting, by turns conquering his devil, and panting under its weight,
but always with the figure and face of his beloved in his eyes,
sometimes beckoning him to fight on, sometimes coaxing him to yield and
stop the struggle. But as the day came in he fell asleep with one more
battle to his credit.

In Harvey for many years Henry Fenn's name was a byword; but the pitying
angels who have seen him fight in the days of his strength and
manhood--they looked at Henry Fenn, and touched reverent foreheads in
his high honor. Then why did they who know our hearts so well, let the
blow fall upon him, you ask. But there you trespass upon that old
question that the Doctor and Amos Adams have thrashed out so long. Has
man a free will, or has the illusion of time and space wound him up in
its predestined tangle, to act as he must and be what he is without
appeal or resistance, or even hope of a pardon?

Doctor Nesbit and Amos Adams were trying to solve the mystery of human
destiny at the gate of the Adams' home the day after the funeral. Amos
had his foot on the hub of the Doctor's buggy and was saying: "But
Doctor, can't you see that it isn't all material? Suppose that every
atom of the universe does affect every other atom, and that the
accumulated effect of past action holds the stars in their courses, and
that if we knew what all the past was we should be able to foretell the
future, because it would be mathematically calculable--what of it? That
does not prove your case, man! Can't you see that in free will another
element enters--the spiritual, if you please, that is not amenable to
atomic action past or present?" Amos smiled deprecatingly and added
sadly: "Got that last night from Schopenhauer." The Doctor, clearly
unawed by Schopenhauer, broke out: "Aye, there I have you, Amos. Isn't
the brain matter, and doesn't the brain secrete consciousness?"

"Does this buggy secrete distance, Jim? Go 'long with you, man." Before
the Doctor could reply, around the corner of the house, bringing little
Kenyon Adams in his best bib and tucker, came the lofty figure of Mrs.
Nesbit. With her came her daughter. Then up spoke Mrs. Bedelia
Satterthwaite Nesbit of the Maryland Satterthwaites, "Look here, Amos
Adams--I don't care what you say, I'm going to take this baby." There
was strong emphasis upon the "I'm," and she went on: "You can have him
every night, and Grant can take care of the child after supper when he
comes home from work. But every morning at eight I'm going to have this
baby." Further emphasis upon the first person. "I'm not going to see a
child turned over to a hired girl all day and me with a big house and no
baby and a daughter about to marry and leave me and a houseful of help,
if I needed it, which thank Heavens I don't." She put her lips together
sternly, and, "Not a word, Amos Adams," she said to Amos, who had not
opened his mouth. "Not another word. Kenyon will be home at six
o'clock."

She put the child into the Doctor's submissive arms--helped her daughter
into the buggy, and when she had climbed in herself, she glared
triumphantly over her glasses and above her Roman nose, as she said:
"Now, Amos--have some sense. Doctor,--go on." And in a moment the buggy
was spinning up the hill toward the town.

Thus it was that every day, rain or shine, until the day of her wedding,
Laura Nesbit drove her dog cart to the Adamses before the men went to
their work and took little Kenyon home with her and brought him back in
the evening. And always she took him from the arms of Grant--Grant,
red-headed, freckled, blue-eyed, who was hardening into manhood and
premature maturity so fast that he did not realize the change that it
made in his face. It grew set, but not hard, a woman's tenderness crept
into the features, and with that tenderness came at times a look of
petulant impatience. It was a sad face--a sadly fanatic face--yet one
that lighted with human feeling under a smile.

Little by little, meeting daily--often meeting morning and evening,
Grant and Laura established a homely, wholesome, comfortable relation.

One evening while Laura was waiting for Tom Van Dorn and Grant was
waiting for Kenyon she and Grant sitting upon the veranda steps of the
Nesbit home, looked into the serene, wide lawn that topped the hill
above the quiet town. They could look across the white and green of the
trees and houses, across the prosperous, solid, red roofs of the stone
and brick stores and offices on Market Street, into the black smudge of
smoke and the gray, unpainted, sprawling rows of ill-kept tenements
around the coal mines, that was South Harvey. They could see even then
the sky stains far down the Wahoo Valley, where the villages of Foley
and Magnus rose and duplicated the ugliness of South Harvey.

The drift of the conversation was personal. The thoughts of youth are
largely personal. The universe is measured by one's own thumb in the
twenties. "Funny, isn't it," said Grant, playing with a honeysuckle vine
that climbed the post beside him, "I guess I'm the only one of the old
crowd who is outlawed in overalls. There's Freddie Kollander and Nate
Perry and cousin Morty and little Joe Calvin, all up town counterjumping
or working in offices. The girls all getting married." He paused. "But
as far as that goes I'm making more money than any of the fellows!" He
paused again a moment and added as he gazed moodily into the pillars of
smoke rising above South Harvey, "Gee, but I'll miss you when you're
gone--"

The girl's silvery laugh greeted his words. "Now, Grant," she said,
"where do you think I'm going? Why, Tom and I will be only a block from
here--just over on Tenth Street in the Perry House."

Grant grinned as he shook his head. "You're lost and gone forever, just
the same, Miss Clementine. In about three years I'll probably be that
'red-headed boss carpenter in the mine----let me see, what's his name?'"

"Oh, Grant," scoffed the girl. She saw that his heart was sadder than
his face.

She took courage and said: "Grant, you never can know how often I think
of you--how much I want you to win everything worth while in this world,
how much I want you to be happy--how I believe in you and--and--bet on
you, Grant--bet on you!"

Grant did not answer her. Presently he looked up and over the broad
valley below them. The sun behind the house was touching the limestone
ledge far across the valley with golden rays. The smoke from South
Harvey on their right was lighted also. The youth looked into the smoke.
Then he turned his eyes back from the glowing smoke and spoke.

"This is how I look at it. I don't mean you're any different from any
one else. What I was trying to say was that I'm the only one of our old
crowd in the High School you know that used to have parties and go
together in the old days--I'm the only one that's wearing overalls, and
my way is down there"; he nodded his head toward the mines and smelters
and factories in the valley.

"Look at these hands," he said, solemnly spreading out his wide,
muscular hands on his knees; showing one bruised blue-black finger nail.
The hands were flinty and hairy and brown, but they looked effective
with an intelligence almost apart from the body which they served.

"I'm cut out for work. It's all right. That's my job, and I'm proud of
it so far as that goes. I could get a place clerking if I wanted to, and
be in the dancing crowd in six months, and be out to the Van Dorns for
dinner in a year." He paused and looked into the distant valley and
cried. "But I tell you--my job is down there. And I'm not going to quit
them. God knows they're getting the rough end of it. If you knew," his
voice raised slightly and a petulant indignation tempered it. "If you
knew the gouging and pocket picking and meanness that is done by the
people up town to the people down there in the smoke, you'd be one of
those howling red-mouthed anarchists you read about."

The girl looked at him silently and at length asked: "For
instance--what's just one thing?"

"Well, for instance--in the mines where I work all the men come up grimy
and greasy and vile. They have to wash. In Europe we roughnecks know
that wash-houses are provided by the company, but here," he cried
excitedly, "the company doesn't provide even a faucet; instead the
men--father and son and maybe a boarder or two have to go home--into
those little one and two roomed houses the company has built, and strip
to the hide with the house full of children and wash. What if your
girlhood had been used to seeing things like that--could you laugh as
you laugh now?" He looked up at her savagely. "Oh, I know they're
ignorant foreigners and little better than animals and those things
don't hurt them--only if you had a little girl who had to be in and out
of the single room of your home when the men came home to wash up--"

He broke off, and then began again, "Why, I was talking to a dago last
night at the shaft mouth going down to work on the graveyard shift and
he said that he came here believing he would find a free, beautiful
country in which his children could grow up self-respecting men and
women, and then he told me about his little girls living down there
where all the vice is scattered through the tenements, and--about this
washing up proposition, and now one of the girls is gone and they can't
find her." He threw out a despairing hand; "So I'm a roughneck,
Laura--I'm a jay, and I'm going to stay with them."

"But your people," she urged. "What about them--your father and
brothers?"

"Jap's climbing out. Father's too old to get in. And Kenyon--" he
flinched, "I hope to God I'll have the nerve to stay when the test on
him comes." He turned to the girl passionately: "But you--you--oh,
you--I want you to know--" He did not finish the sentence, but rose and
walked into the house and called: "Dad--Kenyon--come on, it's getting
late. Stars are coming out."

Half an hour later Tom Van Dorn, in white flannels, with a red silk tie,
and with a white hat and shoes, came striding across the lawn. His black
silky mustache, his soft black hair, his olive skin, his shining black
eyes, his alert emotional face, dark and swarthy, was heightened even in
the twilight by the soft white clothes he wore.

"Hello, popper-in-law," he cried. "Any room left on the veranda?"

"Come in, Thomas," piped the older man. "The girls are doing the dishes,
Bedelia and Laura, and we'll just sit out two or three dances."

The young man lolled in the hammock shaded by the vines. The elder
smoked and reflected. Then slowly and by degrees, as men who are feeling
their way to conversation, they began talking of local politics. They
were going at a high rate when the talk turned to Henry Fenn. "Doing
pretty well, Doctor," put in the younger man. "Only broke over once in
eighteen months--that's the record for Henry. Shows what a woman can do
for a man." He looked up sympathetically, and caught the Doctor's
curious eyes.

The Doctor puffed, cleaned out his pipe, absently put it away, then rose
and deliberately pulled his chair over to the hammock: "Tom--I'm a
generation older than you--nearly. I want to tell you something--" He
smiled. "Boy--you've got the devil's own fight ahead of you--did you
know it--I mean," he paused, "the--well, the woman proposition."

Van Dorn fingered his mustache, and looked serious.

"Tom," the elder man chirped, "you're a handsome pup--a damn handsome,
lovable pup. Sometimes." He let his voice run whimsically into its
mocking falsetto, "I almost catch myself getting fooled too."

They laughed.

"Boy, the thing's in your blood. Did you realize that you've got just as
hard a fight as poor Henry Fenn? It's all right now--for a while; but
the time will come--we might just as well look this thing squarely in
the face now, Tom--the time will come in a few years when the devil will
build the same kind of a fire under you he is building under Henry
Fenn--only it won't be whisky; it will be the woman proposition. Damn
it, boy," cried the elder man squeakily, "it's in your blood; you've let
it grow in your very blood. I've known you ten years now, and I've seen
it grow. Tom--when the time comes, can you stand up and fight like Henry
Fenn--can you, Tom? And will you?" he cried with a piteous fierceness
that stirred all the sympathy in the young man's heart.

He rose to the height of the Doctor's passion. Tears came into Van
Dorn's bright eyes. His breast expanded emotionally and he exclaimed: "I
know what I am, oh, I know it. But for her--you and I together--you'll
help and we'll stand together and fight it out for her." The father
looked at the mobile features of his companion, and sensed the thin
plating of emotion under the vain voice. Whereupon the Doctor heaved a
deep, troubled sigh.

"Heigh-ho, heigh-ho." He put his arm upon the broad, handsome, young
shoulder. "But you'll try to be a good boy, won't you--" he repeated.
"Just try hard to be a good boy, Tom--that's all any of us can do," and
turning away he whistled into the house and a girlish trill answered
him.

After the Doctor had jogged down the hill behind his old horse making
his evening professional visits, Mrs. Nesbit came out and made a show of
sitting with the young people for a time. And not until she left did
they go into those things that were near their hearts.

When Mrs. Nesbit left the veranda the young man moved over to the girl
and she asked: "Tom, I wonder--oh, so much and so often--about the soul
of us and the body of us--about the justice of things." She was speaking
out of the heart that Grant had touched to the quick with his outburst
about the poor. But Tom Van Dorn could not know what was moving within
her and if he had known, perhaps he would have had small sympathy with
her feeling. Then she said: "Oh, Tom, Tom, tell me--don't you suppose
that our souls pay for the bodies that we crush--I mean all of us--all
of us--every one in the world?"

The man looked at her blankly. Then he put his arm tenderly about her
and answered: "I don't know about our souls--much--" He kissed her. "But
I do know about you--your wonderful eyes--and your magic hair, and your
soft cheek!" He left her in no doubt as to her lover's mood.

Vaguely the girl felt unsatisfied with his words. Not that she doubted
the truth of them; but as she drew back from him she said softly: "But
if I were not beautiful, what then?"

"Ah, but you are--you are; in all the world there is not another like
you for me." In the rapture that followed, her soul grew in a wave of
joy, yet she spoke shyly.

"Tom," she said wistfully, "how can you fail to see it--this great,
beautiful truth that makes me glad: That the miracle of our love proves
God."

He caressed her hands and pressed closer to her. "Call it what you will,
little girl: God if it pleases you, I call it nature."

"Oh, it's bigger than that, Tom," and she shook a stubborn Satterthwaite
head, "and it makes me so happy and makes me so humble that I want to
share it with all the world." She laid an abashed cheek on his hands
that were still fondling hers.

But young Mr. Van Dorn spoke up manfully, "Well, don't you try sharing
it. I want all of it, every bit of it." He played with her hair, and
relaxed in a languor of complete possession of her.

"Doesn't love," she questioned, "lift you? Doesn't it make you love
every living thing?" she urged.

"I love only you--only you in all the world--your eyes thrill me; when
your body is near I am mad with delight; when I touch you I am in
heaven. When I close my eyes before the jury I see you and I put the
bliss of my vision into my voice, and," he clinched his hands, "all the
devils of hell couldn't win that jury away from me. You spur me to my
best, put springs in every muscle, put power in my blood."

"But, Tom, tell me this?" Still wistfully, she came close to him, and
put her chin on her clasped hands that rested on his shoulder. "Love
makes me want to be so good, so loyal, so brave, so kind--isn't it that
way with you? Isn't love the miracle that brings the soul out into the
world through the senses." She did not wait for his answer. She clasped
her hands tighter on his shoulder. "I feel that I'm literally stealing
when I have a single thought that I do not bring to you. In every thrill
of my heart about the humblest thing, I find joy in knowing that we
shall enjoy it together. Let me tell you something. Grant Adams and his
father were here to-day for dinner. Well, you know Grant is in a kind of
obsession of love for that little motherless child Mrs. Adams left;
Grant mothers him and fathers him and literally loves him to
distraction. And Grant's growing so manly, and so loyal and so strong in
the love of that little boy--he doesn't realize it; but I can see it in
him. Oh, Tom, can you see it in me?"

Before her mood had changed she told him all that Grant Adams had said;
and her voice broke when she retold the Italian's story. Tears were in
her eyes when she finished. And young Mr. Van Dorn was emotionally
touched also, but not in sympathy with the story the girl was telling.
She ended it:

"And then I looked at Grant's big rough hands--bony and hairy, and Tom,
they told me the whole story of his destiny; just as your soft,
effective, gentle white hands prophesy our destiny. Oh, why--why--I am
beginning to wonder why, Tom, why things must be so. Why do some of us
have to do all the world's rough, hard, soul-killing work, and others of
us have lives that are beautiful, aspiring, glorious? How can we let
such injustices be, and not try to undo them!"

In his face an indignation was rising which she could not comprehend.
Finally he found words to say:

"So that's what that Adams boy is putting in your head! Why do you want
to bother with such nonsense?"

But the girl stopped him: "Tom, it's not nonsense. They do work and dig
and grind down there in a way which we up here know nothing about. It's
real--this--this miserable unfair way things are done in the world. O my
dear, my dear, it's because I love you so, it's because I know now what
love really is that it hurts to see--" He took her face in his hands
caressingly, and tried to put an added tenderness into his voice that
his affection might blunt the sharpness of his words.

"Well, it's nonsense I tell you! Look here, Laura, if there is a God,
he's put those dagos and ignorant foreigners down there to work; just as
he's put the fish in the sea to be caught, and the beasts of the field
to be eaten, and it's none of my business to ask why! My job is
myself--myself and you! I refuse to bear burdens for people. I love you
with all the intensity of my nature--but it's my nature--not human
nature--not any common, socialized, diluted love; it's individual and
it's forever between you and me! What do I care for the rest of the
world! And if you love me as you will some day, you'll love me so that
they can't set you off mooning about other people's troubles. I tell
you, Laura, I'm going to make you love me so you can't think of anything
day or night but me--and what I am to you! That's my idea of love! It's
individual, intimate, restricted, qualified and absolutely personal--and
some day you'll see that!"

As he tripped down the hill from the Nesbit home that spring night, he
wondered what Laura Nesbit meant when she spoke of Grant Adams, and his
love for the motherless baby. The idea that this love bore any sort of
resemblance to the love of educated, cultivated people as found in the
love that Laura and her intended husband bore toward each other, puzzled
the young lawyer. Being restless, he turned off his homeward route, and
walked under the freshly leaved trees. Over and over again the foolish
phrases and sentences from Laura Nesbit's love making, many other nights
in which she seemed to assume the unquestioned truth of the hypothesis
of God, also puzzled him. Whatever his books had taught him, and
whatever life had taught him, convinced him that God was a polite word
for explaining one's failure. Yet, here was a woman whose mind he had to
respect, using the term as a proved theorem. He looked at the stars,
wheeling about with the monstrous pulleys of gravitation and attraction,
and the certain laws of motion. A moment later he looked southward in
the sky to that flaming, raging, splotched patch where the blue and
green and yellow flames from the smelters and the belching black smoke
from the factories hid the low-hanging stars and marked the seething
hell of injustice and vice and want and woe that he knew was in South
Harvey, and he held the glowing cigarette stub in his hand and laughed
when he thought of God. "Free will," says "Mr. Left" in one of his
rather hazy and unconvincing observations, "is of limited range. Man
faces two buttons. He must choose the material or the spiritual--and
when he has chosen fate plays upon his choice the grotesque variation of
human destiny. But when the cloth of life is finished, the pattern of
the passing events may be the same in either choice, riches or poverty,
misery or power, only the color of the cloth differs; in one piece,
however rich, the pattern is drab with despair, the other cloth sheens
in happiness." Which Mr. Van Dorn in later life, reading the
_Psychological Journal_, turned back to a second time, and threw
aside with a casual and unappreciative, "Oh hell," as his only comment.



CHAPTER XII

IN WHICH WE LEARN THAT LOVE IS THE LEVER THAT MOVES THE WORLD


Mrs. Nesbit tried to put the Doctor into his Sunday blacks the day of
her daughter's wedding, but he would have none of them. He appeared on
Market Street and went his rounds among the sick in his linen clothes
with his Panama hat and his pleated white shirt. He did not propose to
have the visiting princes, political and commercial, who had been
summoned to honor the occasion, find him in his suzerainty without the
insignia of his power. For it was "Old Linen Pants," not Dr. James
Nesbit, who was the boss of the northern district and a member of the
State's triumvirate. So the Doctor in the phaëton, drawn by his amiable,
motherly, sorrel mare, the Doctor, white and resplendent in a suit that
shimmered in the hot June sun, flaxed around town, from his office to
the hotel, from the hotel to the bank, from the bank to South Harvey. As
a part of the day's work he did the honors of the town, soothed the woes
of the weary, healed the sick, closed a dying man's eyes, held a
mother's hands away from death as she brought life into the world, made
a governor, paid his overdue note, got a laborer work, gave a lift to a
fallen woman, made two casual purchases: a councilman and a new silk
vest, with cash in hand; lent a drunkard's wife the money for a sack of
flour, showed three Maryland Satterthwaites where to fish for bass in
the Wahoo, took four Schenectady Van Dorns out to lunch, and was
everywhere at once doing everything, clicking his cane, whistling gently
or humming a low, crooning tune, smiling for the most part, keeping his
own counsel and exhibiting no more in his face of what was in his heart
than the pink and dimpled back of a six-months' baby.

To say that the Doctor was everywhere in Harvey is inexact. He was
everywhere except on Quality Hill in Elm Street. There, from the big,
bulging house with its towers and minarets and bow windows and lean-tos,
ells and additions, the Doctor was barred. There was chaos, and the
spirit that breathed on the face of the waters was the Harvey
representative of the Maryland Satterthwaites, with her crimping pins
bristling like miniature gun barrels, and with the look of command upon
her face, giving orders in a firm, cool voice and then executing the
orders herself before any one else could turn around. She could call the
spirits from the vasty deep of the front hall or the back porch and they
came, or she knew the reason why. With an imperial wave of her hand she
sent her daughter off to some social wilderness of monkeys with all the
female Satterthwaites and Van Dorns and Mrs. Senators and Miss Governors
and Misses Congressmen, and with the offices of Mrs. John Dexter, Mrs.
Herdicker, the ladies' hatter, and two Senegambian slaveys, Mrs. Nesbit
brought order out of what at one o'clock seemed without form and void.

It was late in the afternoon, almost evening, though the sun still was
high enough in the heavens to throw cloud shadows upon the hills across
the valley when the Doctor stabled his mare and came edging into the
house from the barn. He could hear the clamor of many voices; for the
Maryland Satterthwaites had come home from the afternoon's festivity. He
slipped into his office-study, and as it was stuffy there he opened the
side door that let out upon the veranda. He sat alone behind the vines,
not wishing to be a part of the milling in the rooms. His heart was
heavy. He blinked and sighed and looked across the valley, and crooned
his old-fashioned tune while he tried to remember all of the life of the
little girl who had come out of the mystery of birth into his life when
Elm Street was a pair of furrows on a barren, wind-swept prairie hill;
tried to remember how she had romped in girlhood under the wide sunshine
in the prairie grass, how her little playhouse had sat where the new
dining-room now stood, how her dolls used to litter the narrow porch
that grew into the winding, serpentine veranda that belted the house,
how she read his books, how she went about with him on his daily rounds,
and how she had suddenly bloomed into a womanhood that made him feel shy
and abashed in her presence. He wondered where it was upon the way that
he had lost clasp of her hand: where did it drop from him? How did the
little fingers that he used to hold so tightly, slip into another's
hand? Her life's great decision had been made without consulting him;
when did he lose her confidence? She had gone her way an independent
soul--flown like a bird from the cage, he thought, and was going a way
that he felt would be a way of pain, and probably sorrow, yet he could
not stop her. All the experience of his life was worthless to her. All
that he knew of men, all that he feared of her lover, were as chaff in
the scales for her.

The Doctor, the boss, the friend, the man, withdrew from his
consciousness as he sat behind the vines and he became the impersonal,
universal father, wondering at the mystery of life. As he sat musing, he
heard a step behind him, and saw his daughter coming across the porch to
greet him. "Father," she said, "I have just this half hour that's to be
ours. I've planned for it all day. Mother has promised to keep every one
away."

The father's jaw began to tremble and his cherubic face to wrinkle in an
emotional pucker. He put the girl's arm about his neck, and rubbed her
hand upon his cheek. Then the father said softly:

"I never felt poor before until this minute." The girl looked
inquiringly at him and was about to protest. He stopped her: "Money
wouldn't do you much good--not all the money in the world."

"Well, father, I don't want money: we don't need it," said the girl.
"Why, we have a beautiful home and Tom is making--"

"It's not that, my dear--not that." He played with her hand a moment
longer. "I feel that I ought to give you something better than money;
my--my--well, my view of life--what they call philosophy of life. It's
the accumulation of fifty years of living." He fumbled in his pocket for
his pipe. "Let me smoke, and maybe I can talk."

"Laura--girl--" He puffed bashfully in a pause, and began again:
"There's a lot of Indiana--real common Eendiany," he mocked, "about your
father, and I just some way can't talk under pressure." He caressed the
girl's hand and pulled at his pipe as one giving birth to a system of
philosophy. Yet he was dumb as he sat before the warm glow of the
passing torch of life which was shining from his daughter's face.
Finally he burst forth, piping impatience at his own embarrassment.

"I tell you, daughter, it's just naturally hell to be pore." The girl
saw his twitching mouth and the impotence of his swimming eyes; but
before she could protest he checked her.

"Pore! Pore!" he repeated hopelessly. "Why, if we had a million, I would
still be just common, ornery, doless pore folks--tongue-tied and
helpless, and I couldn't give you nothin--nothin!" he cried, "but just
rubbish! Yet there are so many things I'd like to give you, Laura--so
many, many things!" he repeated. "God Almighty's put a terrible
hog-tight inheritance tax on experience, girl!" He smiled a crooked,
tearful little smile--looked up into her eyes in dog-like wistfulness as
he continued: "I'd like to give you some of mine--some of the wisdom
I've got one way and another--but, Lord, Lord," he wailed, "I can't. The
divine inheritance tax bars me." He patted her with one hand, holding
his smoldering pipe in the other. Then he shrilled out in the impotence
of his pain: "I just must give you this, Laura: Whatever comes and
whatever goes--and lots of sad things will come and lots of sad things
will go, too, for that matter--always remember this: Happiness is from
the heart out--not from the world in! Do you understand, child--do you?"

The girl smiled and petted him, but he saw that he hadn't reached her
consciousness. He puffed at a dead pipe a moment, then he cried as he
beat his hands together in despair: "I suppose it's no use. It's no use.
But you can at least remember these words, Laura, and some time the
meaning will get to you. Always carry your happiness under your bonnet!
It's the only thing I can give you--out of all my store!"

The girl put her arm about him and pressed closely to him, and they
rose, as she said: "Why, father--I understand. Of course I understand.
Don't you see I understand, father?"

She spoke eagerly and clasped her arms tighter about the pudgy little
figure. They stood quietly a moment, as the father looked earnestly,
dog-wise, up into her face, as if trying by his very gaze to transmit
his loving wisdom. Then, as he found voice: "No, Laura, probably you'll
need fifty years to understand; but look over on the hill across the
valley at the moving cloud shadows. They are only shadows--not
realities. They are just unrealities that prove the real--just trailing
anchors of the sun!" He had pocketed his pipe and his hand came up from
his pocket as he waved to the distant shadows and piped:
"Trouble--heartaches--all the host of clouds that cover life--are
only--only--" he let his voice drop gently as he sighed: "only anchors
of the sun; Laura, they only prove--just prove--"

She did not let him finish, but bent to kiss him and she could feel the
shudder of a smothered sob rack him as she touched his cheek.

Then he smiled at her and chirped: "Just Eendiany--sis'. Just pore, dumb
Eendiany! Hi, ho! Now run and be a good girl! And here's a jim-crack
your daddy got you!"

From his pocket he drew out a little package, and dangled a sparkling
jewel in his hands. He saw a flash of pleasure on her face. But his
heart was full, and he turned away his head as he handed the gift to
her. Her eyes were upon the sparkling jewel, as he led her into the
house, saying with a great sigh: "Come on, my dear--let's go in."

At nine o'clock that night, the great foundry of a house, with its half
a score of chimneys, marking its various epochs of growth, literally was
stuffed with smilax, ferns, roses, orange blossoms, and daisy chains. In
the mazes of these aisles of verdure, a labyrinth of Van Dorns and
Satterthwaites and visiting statesmen with highly powdered womankind was
packed securely. George Brotherton, who was born a drum major, wearing
all of his glittering insignia of a long line of secret societies, moved
as though the welding humanity were fluid. He had presided at too many
funerals not to know the vast importance of keeping the bride's kin from
the groom's kin, and when he saw that they were ushered into the wedding
supper, in due form and order, it was with the fine abandon of a grand
duke lording it over the populace. Senators, Supreme Court justices,
proud Satterthwaites, haughty Van Dorns, Congressmen, governors, local
gentry, were packed neatly but firmly in their proper boxes.

The old families of Harvey--Captain Morton and his little flock, the
Kollanders, Ahab Wright with his flaring side-whiskers, his white
necktie and his shadow of a wife; Joseph Calvin and his daughter in
pigtails, Mrs. Calvin having written Mrs. Nesbit that it seemed that she
just never did get to go anywhere and be anybody, having said as much
and more to Mr. Calvin with emphasis; Mrs. Brotherton, mother of George,
beaming with pride at her son's part; stuttering Kyle Perry and his
hatchet-faced son, the Adamses all starched for the occasion, Daniel
Sands, a widower pro tem. with a broadening interest in school teachers,
Mrs. Herdicker, the ladies' hatter, classifying the Satterthwaites and
the Van Dorns according to the millinery of their womenkind; Morty Sands
wearing the first white silk vest exhibited in Harvey and making violent
eyes at a daughter of the railroad aristocracy--either a general
manager's daughter or a general superintendent's, and for the life of
her Mrs. Nesbit couldn't say; for she had not the highest opinion in the
world of the railroad aristocracy, but took them, president, first,
second and third vice, general managers, ticket and passenger agents,
and superintendents, as a sort of social job-lot because they came in
private cars, and the Doctor desired them, to add to his trophies of the
occasion,--Henry Fenn, wearing soberly the suit in which he appeared
when he rode the skyrocket, and forming part of the bridal chorus,
stationed in the cigar-box of a sewing-room on the second floor to sing,
"Oh, Day So Dear," as the happy couple came down the stairs--the old
families of Harvey were all invited to the wedding. And the old and the
new and most of the intermediary families of no particular caste or
standing, came to the reception after the ceremony. But because she had
the best voice in town, Margaret Müller sang "Oh, Promise Me," in a
remote bedroom--to give the effect of distant music, low and sweet, and
after that song was over, and after Henry Fenn's great pride had been
fairly sated, Margaret Müller mingled with the guests and knew more of
the names and stations of the visiting nobility from the state house and
railroad offices than any other person present. And such is the
perversity of the male sex that there were more "by Georges," and more
"Look--look, looks," and more faint whistles, and more "Tch--tch tchs,"
and more nudging and pointing among the men when Margaret appeared than
when the bride herself, pink and white and beautiful, came down the
stairs. Even the eyes of the groom, as he stood beside the bride, tall,
youthful, strong, and handsome as a man may dare to be and earn an
honest living, even his eyes sometimes found themselves straying toward
the figure and face of the beautiful girl whom he had scarcely noticed
while she worked in the court house. But this may be said for the groom,
that when his eyes did wander, he pulled them back with an almost
irritated jerk, and seemed determined to keep them upon the girl by his
side.

As for the wedding ceremony itself--it was like all others. The women
looked exultant, and the men--the groom, the bride's father, the
groomsmen, and even Rev. John Dexter, had a sort of captured look and
went through the service as though they wished that marriages which are
made in Heaven were celebrated there also. But after the service was
actually accomplished, after the bride and groom had been properly
congratulated, after the multitude had been fed in serried ranks
according to social precedence, after the band on the lawn outside had
serenaded the happy couple, and after further interminable handshaking
and congratulations, from those outside, after the long line of invited
guests had filed past the imposing vista of pickle dishes, cutlery,
butter dishes and cake plates, reaching around the walls of three
bedrooms,--to say nothing of an elaborate wax representation of nesting
cupids bearing the card of the Belgian Society from the glass works and
sent, according to the card, to "Mlle. Lille'n'en Pense"; after the
carriage, bedecked and bedizened with rice and shoes and ribbons, that
was supposed to bear away the bride and groom, had gone amid the
shouting and the tumult of the populace, and after the phaëton and the
sorrel mare had actually taken the bride and groom from the barn to the
railway station, after the fiddle and the bassoon and the horn and the
tinkling cymbal at Morty Sands's dance had frayed and torn the sleep of
those pale souls who would sleep on such a night in Harvey, Grant Adams
and his father, leaving Jasper to trip whatever fantastic toes he might
have, in the opera house, drove down the hill through the glare of the
furnaces, the creaking of the oil derricks and the smell of the straw
paper mill through the heart of South Harvey.

They made little talk as they rode. Their way led them through the
street which is shaded and ashamed by day, and which glows and flaunts
itself by night. Men and women, gambling, drinking, carousing, rioted
through the street, in and out of doors that spilled puddles of yellow
light on the board sidewalks and dirt streets; screaming laughter,
hoarse calls, the stench of liquor, the muffled noises of gambling,
sputter of electric lights and the flash of glimmering reflections from
bar mirrors rasped their senses and kept the father and son silent as
they rode. When they had passed into the slumbering tenements, the
father spoke: "Well, son, here it is--the two kinds of playing, and here
we have what they call the bad people playing. The Van Dorns and the
Satterthwaites will tell you that vice is the recreation of the poor.
And it's more or less true." The elder man scratched his beard and faced
the stars: "It's a devilish puzzle. Character makes happiness; I've got
that down fine. But what makes character? Why is vice the recreation of
the poor? Why do we recruit most of our bad boys and all of our wayward
girls from those neighborhoods in every city where the poor live? Why
does the clerk on $12 a week uptown crowd into Doctor Jim's wedding
party, and the glass blower at $4 a day down here crowd into 'Big Em's'
and 'Joe's Place' and the 'Crescent'? Is poverty caused by vice; or is
vice a symptom of poverty? And why does the clerk's wife move in 'our
best circles' and the miner's wife, with exactly the same money to
spend, live in outer social darkness?"

"I've asked myself that question lots of times," exclaimed the youth. "I
can't make it work out on any theory. But I tell you, father," the son
clinched the hand that was free from the lines, and shook it, "it's
wrong--some way, somehow, it's wrong, way down at the bottom of
things--I don't know how nor why--but as sure as I live, I'll try to
find out."

The clang of an engine bell in the South Harvey railroad yards drowned
the son's answer. The two were crossing the track and turning the corner
that led to the South Harvey station. The midnight train was about due.
As the buggy came near the little gray box of a station a voice called,
"Adams--Adams," and a woman's voice, "Oh, Grant."

"Why," exclaimed the father, "it's the happy couple." Grant stopped the
horse and climbed out over the sleeping body of little Kenyon. "In a
moment," replied Grant. Then he came to a shadow under the station eaves
and saw the young people hiding. "Adams, you can help us," said Van
Dorn. "We slipped off in the Doctor's phaëton, to get away from the
guying crowd and we have tried to get the house on the 'phone, and in
some way they don't answer. The horse is tied over by the lumber yard
there. Will you take it home with you to-night, and deliver it to the
Doctor in the morning--whatever--" But Grant cut in:

"Why, of course. Glad to have the chance." He was awkward and ill at
ease, and repeated, "Why, of course, anything." But Van Dorn
interjected: "You understand, I'll pay for it--" Grant Adams stared at
him. "Why--why--no--" stammered Grant in confusion, while Van Dorn
thrust a five-dollar bill upon him. He tried to return it, but the bride
and groom ran to the train, leaving the young man alone and hurt in his
heart. The father from the buggy saw what had happened. In a few minutes
they were leading the Doctor's horse behind the Adams buggy. "I didn't
want their money," exclaimed Grant, "I wanted their--their--"

"You wanted their friendship, Grant--that's what you wanted," said the
father.

"And he wanted a hired man," cried Grant. "Just a hired man, and
she--why, didn't she understand? She knew I would have carried the old
horse on my back clear to town, if she'd let me, just to hear her laugh
once. Father," the son's voice was bitter as he spoke, "why didn't she
understand----why did she side with him?"

The father smiled. "Perhaps, on your wedding trip, Grant, your wife will
agree with you too, son."

As they rode home in silence, the young man asked himself over and over
again, what lines divided the world into classes; why manual toil shuts
off the toilers from those who serve the world otherwise. Youth is
sensitive; often it is supersensitive, and Grant Adams saw or thought he
saw in the little byplay of Tom Van Dorn the caste prod of society
jabbing labor back into its place.

"Tom," said the bride as they watched Grant Adams unhitch the horse by
the lumber yard, "why did you force that money on Grant----he would have
much preferred to have your hand when he said good-by."

"He's not my kind of folks, Laura," replied Van Dorn. "I know you like
him. But that five will do him lots more good than my shaking his hand,
and if that youth wasn't as proud as Lucifer he'd rather have five
dollars than any man's hand. I would----if it comes to that."

"But, Tom," answered the girl, "that wasn't pride, that was
self-respect."

"Well, my dear," he squeezed her gloved hand and in the darkness put his
arm about her, "let's not worry about him. All I know is that I wanted
to square it with him for taking care of the horse and five dollars
won't hurt his self-respect. And," said the bridegroom as he pressed the
bride very close to his heart, "what is it to us? We have each other, so
what do we care----what is all the world to us?"

As the midnight train whistled out of South Harvey Grant Adams sitting
on a bedside was fondly unbuttoning a small body from its clothes, ready
to hear a sleepy child's voice say its evening prayers. In his heart
there flamed the love for the child that was beckoning him into love for
every sentient thing. And as Laura Van Dorn, bride of Thomas of that
name, heard the whistle, her being was flooded with a love high and
marvelous, washing in from the infinite love that moves the universe and
carrying her soul in aspiring thrills of joy out to ride upon the
mysterious currents that we know are not of ourselves, and so have
called divine.

In the morning, in the early gray of morning, when Grant Adams rose to
make the fire for breakfast, he found his father, sitting by the kitchen
table, half clad as he had risen from a restless bed. Scrawled sheets of
white paper lay around him on the floor and the table. He said sadly:

"She can't come, Grant--she can't come. I dreamed of her last night; it
was all so real--just as she was when we were young, and I thought--I
was sure she was near." He sighed as he leaned back in his chair. "But
they've looked for her--all of them have looked for her. She knows I'm
calling--but she can't come." The father fumbled the papers, rubbed his
gray beard, and shut his fine eyes as he shook his head, and whispered:
"What holds her--what keeps her? They all come but her."

"What's this, father?" asked Grant, as a page closely written in a fine
hand fluttered to the floor.

"Oh, nothing--much--just Mr. Left bringing me some message from Victor
Hugo. It isn't much."

But the Eminent Authority who put it into the Proceedings of the
Psychological Society laid more store by it than he did by the scraps
and incoherent bits of jargon which pictured the old man's lonely grief.
They are not preserved for us, but in the Proceedings, on page 1125, we
have this from Mr. Left:

"The vice of the poor is crass and palpable. It carries a quick and
deadly corrective poison. But the vices of the well-to-do are none the
less deadly. To dine in comfort and know your brother is starving; to
sleep in peace and know that he is wronged and oppressed by laws that we
sanction, to gather one's family in contentment around a hearth, while
the poor dwell in a habitat of vice that kills their souls, to live
without bleeding hearts for the wrong on this earth--that is the vice of
the well-to-do. And so it shall come to pass that when the day of
reckoning appears it shall be a day of wrath. For when God gives the
poor the strength to rise (and they are waxing stronger every hour),
they will meet not a brother's hand but a glutton's--the hard, dead hand
of a hard, dead soul. Then will the vicious poor and the vicious
well-to-do, each crippled by his own vices, the blind leading the blind,
fall to in a merciless conflict, mad and meaningless, born of a sad,
unnecessary hate that shall terrorize the earth, unless God sends us
another miracle of love like Christ or some vast chastening scourge of
war, to turn aside the fateful blow."



CHAPTER XIII

IN WHICH WE OBSERVE THE INTERIOR OF A DESERTED HOUSE


An empty, lonely house was that on Quality Hill in Elm Street after the
daughter's marriage. It was not that the Doctor and Mrs. Nesbit did not
see their daughter often; but whether she came every day or twice a week
or every week, always she came as a visitor. No one may have two homes.
And the daughter of the house of Nesbit had her own home;--a home
wherein she was striving to bind her husband to a domesticity which in
itself did not interest him. But with her added charm to it, she
believed that she could lure him into an acceptance of her ideal of
marriage. So with all her powers she fell to her task. Consciously or
unconsciously, directly or by indirection, but always with the joy of
adventure in her heart, whether with books or with music or with
comradeship, she was bending herself to the business of wifehood, so
that her own home filled her life and the Nesbit home was lonely; so
lonely was it that by way of solace and diversion, Mrs. Nesbit had all
the woodwork downstairs "done over" in quarter-sawed oak with elaborate
carvings. Ferocious gargoyles, highly excited dolphins, improper,
pot-bellied little cupids, and mermaids without a shred of character,
seemed about to pounce out from banister, alcove, bookcase, cozy corner
and china closet.

George Brotherton pretended to find resemblances in the effigies to
people about Harvey, and to the town's echoing delight he began to name
the figures after their friends, and always saluted the figures
intimately, as Maggie, or Henry, or the Captain, or John Kollander, or
Lady Herdicker. But through the wooden menagerie in the big house the
Doctor whistled and hummed and smoked and chirruped more or less
drearily. To him the Japanese screens, the huge blue vases, the
ponderous high-backed chairs crawly with meaningless carvings, the
mantels full of jars and pots and statuettes, brought no comfort. He was
forever putting his cane over his arm and clicking down the street to
the Van Dorn home; but he felt in spite of all his daughter's efforts to
welcome him--and perhaps because of them--that he was a stranger there.
So slowly and rather imperceptibly to him, certainly without any
conscious desire for it, a fondness for Kenyon Adams sprang up in the
Doctor's heart. For it was exceedingly soft in spots and those spots
were near his home. He was domestic and he was fond of home joys. So
when Mrs. Nesbit put aside the encyclopedia, from which she was getting
the awful truth about Babylonian Art for her paper to be read before the
Shakespeare Club, and going to the piano, brought from the bottom of a
pile of yellow music a tattered sheet, played a Chopin nocturne in a
rolling and rather grand style that young women affected before the
Civil War, the Doctor's joy was scarcely less keen than the child's.
Then came rare occasions when Laura, being there for the night while her
husband was away on business, would play melodies that cut the child's
heart to the quick and brought tears of joy to his big eyes. It seemed
to him at those times as if Heaven itself were opened for him, and for
days the melodies she played would come ringing through his heart. Often
he would sit absorbed at the piano when he should have been practicing
his lesson, picking out those melodies and trying with a poignant
yearning for perfection to find their proper harmonies. But at such
times after he had frittered away a few minutes, Mrs. Nesbit would call
down to him, "You, Kenyon," and he would sigh and take up his scales and
runs and arpeggios.

Kenyon was developing into a shy, lovely child of few noises; he seemed
to love to listen to every continuous sound--a creaking gate, a
waterdrip from the eaves, a whistling wind--a humming wire. Sometimes
the Doctor would watch Kenyon long minutes, as the child listened to the
fire's low murmur in the grate, and would wonder what the little fellow
made of it all. But above everything else about the child the Doctor was
interested in watching his eyes develop into the great, liquid, soulful
orbs that marked his mother. To the Doctor the resemblance was rather
weird. But he could see no other point in the child's body or mind or
soul whereon Margaret Müller had left a token. The Doctor liked to
discuss Kenyon with his wife from the standpoint of ancestry. He took a
sort of fiendish delight--if one may imagine a fiend with a seraphic
face and dancing blue eyes and a mouth that loved to pucker in a pensive
whistle--in Mrs. Nesbit's never failing stumble over the child's eyes.

Any evening he would lay aside his Browning----even in a knotty passage
wherein the Doctor was wont to take much pleasure, and revert to type
thus:

"Yes, I guess there's something in blood as you say! The child shows it!
But where do you suppose he gets those eyes?" His wife would answer
energetically, "They aren't like Amos's and they certainly are not much
like Mary's! Yet those eyes show that somewhere in the line there was
fine blood and high breeding."

And the Doctor, remembering the kraut-peddling Müller, who used to live
back in Indiana, and who was Kenyon's great-grandfather, would shake a
wise head and answer:

"Them eyes is certainly a throw-back to the angel choir, my dear--a sure
and certain throw-back!"

And while Mrs. Nesbit was climbing the Sands family tree, from Mary
Adams back to certain Irish Sandses of the late eighteenth century, the
Doctor would flit back to "Paracelsus," to be awakened from its spell
by: "Only the Irish have such eyes! They are the mark of the Celt all
over the world! But it's curious that neither Mary nor Daniel had those
eyes!"

"It's certainly curious like," squeaked the Doctor amicably--"certainly
curious like, as the treetoad said when he couldn't holler up a rain.
But it only proves that blood always tells! Bedelia, there's really
nothing so true in this world as blood!"

And Mrs. Nesbit would ask him a moment later what he could find so
amusing in "Paracelsus"? She certainly never had found anything but
headaches in it.

Yet there came a time when the pudgy little stomach of the Doctor did
not shake in merriment. For he also had his problem of blood to solve.
Tom Van Dorn was, after all, the famous Van Dorn baby!

One evening in the late winter as the Doctor was trudging home from a
belated call, he saw the light in Brotherton's window marking a yellow
bar across the dark street. As he stepped in for a word with Mr.
Brotherton about the coming spring city election, he saw quickly that
the laugh was in some way on Tom Van Dorn, who rose rather guiltily and
hurried out of the shop.

"Seegars on George!" exclaimed Captain Morton; then answered the
Doctor's gay, inquiring stare: "Henry bet George a box of Perfectos Tom
wouldn't be a year from his wedding asking 'what's her name' when the
boys were discussing some girl or other, and they've laid for Tom ever
since and got him to-night, eh?"

The Captain laughed, and then remembering the Doctor's relationship with
the Van Dorns, colored and tried to cover his blunder with: "Just boys,
you know, Doc--just their way."

The Doctor grinned and piped back, "Oh, yes--yes--Cap--I know, boys will
be dogs!"

Toddling home that night the Doctor passed the Van Dorn house. He saw
through the window the young couple in their living-room. The doctor had
a feeling that he could sense the emotions of his daughter's heart. It
was as though he could see her trying in vain to fasten the steel
grippers of her soul into the heart and life of the man she loved. Over
and over the father asked himself if in Tom Van Dorn's heart was any
essential loyalty upon which the hooks and bonds of the friendship and
fellowship of a home could fasten and hold. The father could see the
handsome young face of Van Dorn in the gas light, aflame with the joy of
her presence, but Dr. Nesbit realized that it was a passing flame--that
in the core of the husband was nothing to which a wife might anchor her
life; and as the Doctor clicked his cane on the sidewalk vigorously he
whispered to himself: "Peth--peth--nothing in his heart but peth."

A day came when the parents stood watching their daughter as she went
down the street through the dusk, after she had kissed them both and
told them, and after they had all said they were very happy over it. But
when she was out of sight the hands of the parents met and the Doctor
saw fear in Bedelia Nesbit's face for the first time. But neither spoke
of the fear. It took its place by the vague uneasiness in their hearts,
and two spectral sentinels stood guard over their speech.

Thus their talk came to be of those things which lay remote from their
hearts. It was Mrs. Nesbit's habit to read the paper and repeat the news
to the Doctor, who sat beside her with a book. He jabbed in comments;
she ignored them. Thus: "I see Grant Adams has been made head carpenter
for all the Wahoo Fuel Companies mines and properties." To which the
Doctor replied: "Grant, my dear, is an unusual young man. He'll have ten
regular men under him--and I claim that's fine for a boy in his
twenties--with no better show in life than Grant has had." But Mrs.
Nesbit had in general a low opinion of the Doctor's estimates of men.
She held that no man who came from Indiana and was fooled by men who
wore cotton in their ears and were addicted to chilblains, could be
trusted in appraising humanity.

So she answered, "Yes," dryly. It was her custom when he began to bestow
knighthood upon common clay to divert him with some new and irrelevant
subject. "Here's an item in the _Times_ this morning I fancy you
didn't read. After describing the bride's dress and her beauty, it says,
'And the bride is a daughter of the late H. M. Von Müller, who was an
exile from his native land and gave up a large estate and a title
because of his participation in the revolution of '48. Miss Müller might
properly be called the Countess Von Müller, if she chose to claim her
rightful title!'--what is there to that?"

The Doctor threw back his head and chuckled:

"Pennsylvania Dutch for three generations--I knew old Herman Müller's
father--before I came West--when he used to sell kraut and cheese around
Vincennes before the war, and Herman's grandfather came from
Pennsylvania."

"I thought so," sniffed Mrs. Nesbit. And then she added: "Doctor, that
girl is a minx."

"Yes, my dear," chirped the Doctor. "Yes, she's a minx; but this isn't
the open season for minxes, so we must let her go. And," he added after
a pause, during which he read the wedding notice carefully, "she may put
a brace under Henry--the blessed Lord knows Henry will need something,
though he's done mighty well for a year--only twice in eighteen months.
Poor fellow--poor fellow!" mused the Doctor. Mrs. Nesbit blinked at her
husband for a minute in sputtering indignation. Then she exclaimed:
"Brace under Henry!" And to make it more emphatic, repeated it and then
exploded: "The cat's foot--brace for Henry, indeed--that piece!"

And Mrs. Nesbit stalked out of the room, brought back a little dress--a
very minute dress--she was making and sat rocking almost imperceptibly
while her husband read. Finally, after a calming interval, she said in a
more amiable tone, "Doctor Nesbit, if you've cut up all the women you
claim to have dissected in medical school, you know precious little
about what's in them, if you get fooled in that Margaret woman."

"The only kind we ever cut up," returned the Doctor in a mild,
conciliatory treble, "were perfect--all Satterthwaites."

And when the Doctor fell back to his book, Mrs. Nesbit spent some time
reflecting upon the virtues of her liege lord and wondering how such a
paragon ever came from so common a State as Indiana, where so far as any
one ever knew there was never a family in the whole commonwealth, and
the entire population as she understood it carried potatoes in their
pockets to keep away rheumatism.

The evening wore away and Dr. and Mrs. Nesbit were alone by the ashes in
the smoldering fire in the grate. They were about to go up stairs when
the Doctor, who had been looking absent-mindedly into the embers, began
meditating aloud about local politics while his wife sewed. His
meditation concerned a certain trade between the city and Daniel Sands
wherein the city parted with its stock in Sands's public utilities with
a face value of something like a million dollars. The stocks were to go
to Mr. Sands, while the city received therefor a ten-acre tract east of
town on the Wahoo, called Sands Park. After bursting into the Doctor's
political nocturne rather suddenly and violently with her feminine
disapproval, Mrs. Nesbit sat rocking, and finally she exclaimed: "Good
Lord, Jim Nesbit, I wish I was a man."

"I've long suspected it, my dear," piped her husband,

"Oh, it isn't that--not your politics," retorted Mrs. Nesbit, "though
that made me think of it. Do you know what else old Dan Sands is doing?"

The Doctor bent over the fire, stirred it up and replied, "Well, not in
particular."

"Philandering," sniffed Mrs. Nesbit.

"Again?" returned the Doctor.

"No," snapped Mrs. Nesbit--"as usual!"

The Doctor had no opinion to express; one of the family specters was
engaging his attention at the moment. Presently his wife put down her
paper and sat as one wrestling with an impulse. The specter on her side
of the hearth was trying to keep her lips sealed. They sat while the
mantel clock ticked off five minutes.

"What are you thinking?" the Doctor asked.

"I'm thinking of Dan Sands," replied the wife with some emotion in her
voice.

The foot tap of Mrs. Nesbit became audible. She shook her head with some
force and exclaimed: "O Jim, wouldn't I like to have that man--just for
one day."

"I've noticed," cut in the Doctor, "regarding such propositions from the
gentler sex, that the Lord generally tempers the wind to the shorn
lamb."

"The shorn lamb--the shorn lamb," retorted Mrs. Nesbit. "The shorn
tom-cat! I'd like to shear him." Wherewith she rose and putting out the
light led the Doctor to the stairs.

Both knew that the spectral sentinels had used Daniel Sands and his
amours only as a seal upon their lips.

The parents could speak in parables about what they felt or fancied
because there was so little that was tangible and substantial for them
to see. Of all the institutions man has made--the state, the church, his
commerce, his schools,--the home is by far the most spiritual. Its
successes and its failures are never material. They are never evidenced
in any sort of worldly goods. Only in the hearts of those who dwell in a
home, or of those to whom it is dear, do its triumphs and its defeats
register themselves. But in Tom Van Dorn's philosophy of life small
space was left for things of the spirit alone, to register. He was
trying with all his might to build a home upon material things. So above
all he built his home around a beautiful woman. Then he lavished upon
her and about the house wherein she dwelled, beautiful objects. He was
proud of their cost. Their value in dollars and cents gave these objects
their chief value in his balance sheet of gain or less in footing up his
account with his home. And because what he had was expensive, he prized
it. Possibly because he had bought his wife's devotion, at some material
sacrifice to his own natural inclinations toward the feminine world, he
listed her high in the assets of the home; and so in the only way he
could love, he loved her jealously. She and the rugs and pictures and
furniture--all were dear to him, as chattels which he had bought and
paid for and could brag about. And because he was too well bred to brag,
the repression of that natural instinct he added to the cost of the
items listed,--rugs, pictures, wife, furniture, house, trees, lot, and
blue grass lawn. So when toward the end of the first year of his
marriage, he found that actually he could turn his head and follow with
his eyes a pretty petticoat going down Market Street, and still fool his
wife; when he found he could pry open the eyes of Miss Mauling at the
office again with his old ogle, and still have the beautiful love which
he had bought with self-denial, its value dropped.

And his wife, who felt in her soul her value passing in the heart she
loved, strove to find her fault and to correct it. Daily her devotion
manifested itself more plainly. Daily she lived more singly to the
purpose of her soul. And daily she saw that purpose becoming a vain
pursuit.

Outwardly the home was unchanged as this tragedy was played within the
two hearts. The same scenery surrounded the players. The same voices
spoke, in the same tones, the same words of endearment, and the same
hours brought the same routine as the days passed. Yet the home was
slowly sinking into failure. And the specters that sealed the lips of
the parents who stood by and mutely watched the inner drama unfold,
watched it unfold and translate itself into life without words, without
deeds, without superficial tremor or flinching of any kind--the specters
passed the sad story from heart to heart in those mysterious silences
wherein souls in this world learn their surest truths.



CHAPTER XIV

IN WHICH OUR HERO STROLLS OUT WITH THE DEVIL TO LOOK AT THE HIGH
MOUNTAIN


The soup had come and gone; great platters of fried chicken had
disappeared, with incidental spinach and new peas and potatoes. A bowl
of lettuce splashed with a French dressing had been mowed down as the
grass, and the goodly company was surveying something less than an acre
of strawberry shortcake at the close of a rather hilarious dinner--a
spring dinner, to be exact. Rhoda Kollander was reciting with enthusiasm
an elaborate and impossible travesty of a recipe for strawberry
shortcake, which she had read somewhere, when the Doctor, in his
nankeens, putting his hands on the table cloth as one who was about to
deliver an oracle, ran his merry eyes down the table, gathering up the
Adamses and Mortons and Mayor Brotherton and Morty Sands; fastened his
glance upon the Van Dorns and cut in on the interminable shortcake
recipe rather ruthlessly thus in his gay falsetto:

"Tom, here--thinks he's pretty smart. And George Brotherton, Mayor of
all the Harveys, thinks he is a pretty smooth article; and the Honorable
Lady Satterthwaite here, she's got a Maryland notion that she has second
sight into the doings of her prince consort." He chuckled and grinned as
he beamed at his daughter: "And there is the princess imperial--she
thinks she's mighty knolledgeous about her father--but," he cocked his
head on one side, enjoying the suspense he was creating as he paused,
drawling his words, "I'm just going to show you how I've got 'em all
fooled."

He pulled from his pocket a long, official envelope, pulled from the
envelope an official document, and also a letter. He laid the official
document down before him and opened the letter.

"Kind o' seems to be signed by the Governor of the State," he drolled:
"And seems like the more I look at it the surer I am it's addressed to
Tom Van Dorn. I'm not much of an elocutionist and never could read at
sight, having come from Eendiany, and I guess Rhody here, she's kind of
elocutionary and I'll jest about ask her to read it to the ladies and
gentlemen!" He handed Mrs. Kollander the letter and passed the sealed
document to his son-in-law.

Mrs. Kollander read aloud:

"I take pleasure in handing you through the kindness of Senator James
Nesbit your appointment to fill the vacancy in your judicial district
created to-day by the resignation of Judge Arbuckle of your district to
fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court of this State created there by the
resignation of Justice Worrell."

Looking over his wife's shoulder and seeing the significance of the
letter, John Kollander threw back his head and began singing in his
roaring voice, "For we'll rally round the flag, boys, we'll rally once
again, shouting the battle cry of freedom," and the company at the table
clapped its hands. And while George Brotherton was bellowing,
"Well--say!" Judge Thomas Van Dorn kissed his wife and beamed his
satisfaction upon the company.

When the commotion had subsided the chuckling little man, all a-beam
with happiness, his pink, smooth face shining like a headlight,
explained thus:

"I jest thought these Maryland Satterthwaites and Schenectady Van Dorns
was a-gittin' too top-lofty, and I'd have to register one for the Grand
Duke of Griggsby's Station, to sort of put 'em in their place!" He was
happy; and his vernacular, which always was his pose under emotional
stress, was broad, as he went on: "So I says to myself, the Corn Belt
Railroad is mighty keen for a Supreme Court decision in the Missouri
River rate case, and I says, Worrell J., he's the boy to write it, but I
says to the Corn Belt folks, says I, 'It would shatter the respect of
the people for their courts if Worrell J. should stay on the bench after
writing the kind of a decision you want, so we'll just put him in your
law offices at twelve thousand per, which is three times what he is
getting now, and then one idear brought on another and here's Tom's
commission and three men and a railroad all made happy!" He threw back
his head and laughed silently as he finished, "and all the justices
concurring!" After the hubbub of congratulations had passed and the
guests had moved into the parlor of the Nesbit home, the little Doctor,
standing among them, regaled himself thus:

"Politics is jobs. Jobs is friends. Friends is politics. The reason why
the reformers don't get anywhere is that they have no friends in
politics. They regard the people as sticky and smelly and low. Bedelia
has that notion. But I love 'em! Love 'em and vote 'em!"

Amos Adams opened his mouth to protest, but the Doctor waved him into
silence. "I know your idear, Amos! But when the folks get tired of
politics that is jobs and want politics that is principles, I'll open as
fine a line of principles as ever was shown in this market!"

After the company had gone, Mrs. Nesbit faced her husband with a
peremptory: "Well--will you tell me why, Jim Nesbit?" And he sighed and
dropped into a chair.

"To save his self-respect! Self-respect grows on what it feeds on, my
dear, and I thought maybe if he was a judge"--he looked into the anxious
eyes of his wife and went on--"that might hold him!" He rested his head
on a hand and drew in a deep breath. "'Vanity, vanity,' saith the
Preacher--'all is vanity!' And I thought I'd hitch it to something that
might pull him out of the swamp! And I happened to know that he had a
sneaking notion of running for Judge this fall, so I thought I'd slip up
and help him."

He sighed again and his tone changed. "I did it primarily for Laura," he
said wearily, and: "Mother, we might as well face it."

Mrs. Nesbit looked intently at her husband in understanding silence and
asked: "Is it any one in particular, Jim--"

He hesitated, then exclaimed: "Oh, I may be wrong, but somehow I don't
like the air--the way that Mauling girl assumes authority at the office.
Why, she's made me wait in the outer office twice now--for nothing
except to show that she could!"

"Yes, Jim--but what good will this judgeship do? How will it solve
anything?" persisted the wife. The Doctor let his sigh precede his
words: "The office will make him realize that the eyes of the community
are on him, that he is in a way a marked man. And then the place will
keep him busy and spur on his ambition. And these things should help."

He looked tenderly into the worried face of his wife and smiled.
"Perhaps we're both wrong. We don't know. Tom's young and--" He ended
the sentence in a "Ho--ho--ho--hum!" and yawned and rose, leading the
way up stairs.

In the Van Dorn home a young wife was trying to define herself in the
new relation to the community in which the evening's news had placed
her. She had no idea of divorcing the judgeship from her life. She felt
that marriage was a full partnership and that the judgeship meant much
to her. She realized that as a judge's wife her life and her duties--and
she was eager always to acquire new duties--would be different from her
life and her duties as a lawyer's wife or a doctor's wife or a
merchant's wife, for example. For Laura Van Dorn was in the wife
business with a consuming ardor, and the whole universe was related to
her wifehood. To her marriage was the development of a two-phase soul
with but one will. As the young couple entered their home, the wife was
saying:

"Tom, isn't it fine to think of the good you can do--these poor folk in
the Valley don't really get justice. And they're your friends. They
always help you and father in the election, and now you can see that
they have their rights. Oh, I'm so glad--so glad father did it. That was
his way to show them how he really loves them."

The husband smiled, a husbandly and superior smile, and said absently,
"Oh, well, I presume they don't get much out of the courts, but they
should learn to keep away from litigation. It's a rich man's game
anyway!" He was thinking of the steps before him which might lead him to
a higher court and still higher. His ambition vaulted as he spoke.
"Laura, Father Jim wouldn't mind having a son-in-law on the United
States Supreme Court, and I believe we can work together and make it in
twenty years more!"

As the young wife saw the glow of ambition in his fine, mobile face she
stifled the altruistic yearnings, which she had come to feel made her
husband uncomfortable, and joined him as he gazed into the crystal ball
of the future and saw its glistening chimera.

Perhaps the preceding dialogue wherein Dr. James Nesbit, his wife, his
daughter and his son-in-law have spoken may indicate that politics as
the Doctor played it was an exceedingly personal chess game. We see him
here blithely taking from the people of his state, their rights to
justice and trading those rights cheerfully for his personal happiness
as it was represented in the possible reformation of his daughter's
husband. He thought it would work--this curious bartering of public
rights for private ends. He could not see that a man who could accept a
judgeship as it had come to Tom Van Dorn, in the nature of things could
not take out an essential self-respect which he had forfeited when he
took the place. The Doctor was as blind as Tom Van Dorn, as blind as his
times. Government was a personal matter in that day; public place was a
personal perquisite.

As for the reformation of Tom Van Dorn, for which all this juggling with
sacred things was done, he had no idea that his moral regeneration was
concerned in the deal, and never in all the years of his service did the
vaguest hint come to him that the outrage of justice had been
accomplished for his own soul's good.

The next morning Tom Van Dorn read of his appointment as Judge in the
morning papers, and he pranced twice the length of Market Street, up one
side and down the other, to let the populace congratulate him. Then with
a fat box of candy he went to his office, where he gave the candy and
certain other tokens of esteem to Miss Mauling, and at noon after the
partnership of Calvin & Van Dorn had been dissolved, with the
understanding that the young Judge was to keep his law books in Calvin's
office, and was to have a private office there--for certain intangible
considerations. Then after the business with Joseph Calvin was
concluded, the young Judge in his private office with his hands under
his coattails preened before Miss Mauling and talked from a shameless
soul of his greed for power! The girl before him gave him what he could
not get at home, an abject adoration, uncritical, unabashed,
unrestrained.

The young man whom the newly qualified Judge had inherited as court
stenographer was a sadly unemotional, rather methodical, old maid of a
person, and Tom Van Dorn could not open his soul to this youth, so he
was wont to stray back to the offices of Joseph Calvin to dictate his
instructions to juries, and to look over the books in his own library in
making up his decisions. The office came to be known as the Judge's
Chambers and the town cocked a gay and suspicious eye at the young
Judge. Mr. Calvin's practice doubled and trebled and Miss Mauling lost
small caste with the nobility and gentry. And as the summer deepened,
Dr. James Nesbit began to see that vanity does not build self-respect.

When the young Judge announced his candidacy for election to fill out
the two years' unexpired term of his predecessor, no one opposed Van
Dorn in his party convention; but the Doctor had little liking for the
young man's intimacy in the office of Joseph Calvin and less liking for
the scandal of that intimacy which arose when the rich litigants in the
Judge's court crowded into Calvin's office for counsel. The Doctor
wondered if he was squeamish about certain matters, merely because it
was his own son-in-law who was the subject of the disquieting gossip
connected with Calvin's practice in Van Dorn's court. Then there was the
other matter. The Doctor could notice that the town was having its
smile--not a malicious nor condemning smile, but a tolerant, amused
smile about Van Dorn and the Mauling girl; and the Doctor didn't like
that. It cut deeply into the Doctor's heart that as the town's smile
broadened, his daughter's face was growing perceptibly more serious. The
joy she had shown when first she told him of the baby's coming did not
illumine her face; and her laughter--her never failing well of
gayety--was in some way being sealed. The Doctor determined to talk with
Tom on the Good of the Order and to talk man-wise--without feeling of
course but without guile.

So one autumn afternoon when the Doctor heard the light, firm step of
the young man in the common hallway that led to their offices over the
Traders' Bank, the Doctor tuned himself up to the meeting and cheerily
called through his open door:

"Tom--Tom, you young scoundrel--come in here and let's talk it all
over."

The young man slipped a package into his pocket, and came lightly into
the office. He waved his hand gayly and called: "Well--well, pater
familias, what's on your chest to-day?" His slim figure was clad in
gray--a gray suit, gray shirt, gray tie, gray shoes and a crimson rose
bud in his coat lapel. As he slid into a chair and crossed his lean legs
the Doctor looked him over. The young Judge's corroding pride in his job
was written smartly all over his face and figure. "The fairest of ten
thousand, the bright and morning star, Tom," piped the Doctor. Then
added briskly, "I want to talk to you about Joe Calvin." The young man
lifted a surprised eyebrow. The Doctor pushed ahead as he pulled the
county bar docket from his desk and pointed to it. "Joe Calvin's
business has increased nearly fifty per cent. in less than six months!
And he has the money side of eighty per cent. of the cases in your
court!"

"Well--" replied Van Dorn in the mushy drawl that he used with juries,
"that's enough! Joe couldn't ask more." Then he added, eying the Doctor
closely, "Though I can't say that what you tell me startles me with its
suddenness."

"That's just my point," cried the Doctor in his high, shrill voice.
"That's just my point, Thomas," he repeated, "and here's where I come
in. I got you this job. I am standing for you before the district and I
am standing for you now for this election." The Doctor wagged his head
at the young man as he said, "But the truth is, Tom, I had some trouble
getting you the solid delegation."

"Ah?" questioned the suave young Judge.

"Yes, Tom--my own delegation," replied the Doctor. "You see, Tom, there
is a lot of me. There is the one they call Doc Jim; then there's Mrs.
Nesbit's husband and there's your father-in-law, and then there's Old
Linen Pants. The old man was for you from the jump. Doc Jim was for you
and Mrs. Nesbit's husband was willing to go with the majority of the
delegation, though he wasn't strong for you. But I'll tell you, Tom,"
piped the Doctor, "I did have the devil of a time ironing out the
troubles of your father-in-law."

The Doctor leaned forward and pointed a fat, stern finger at his
son-in-law. "Tom," the Doctor's voice was shrill and steely, "I don't
like your didos with Violet Mauling!" The face above the crimson flower
did not flinch.

"I don't suppose you're making love to her. But you have no business
fooling around Joe Calvin's office on general principles. Keep out, and
keep away from her." And then the Doctor's patience slipped and his
voice rose: "What do you want to give her the household bills for? Pay
'em yourself or let Laura send her checks!" The Doctor's tones were
harsh, and with the amiable cast off his face his graying blond
pompadour hair seemed to bristle militantly. The effect gave the Doctor
a fighting face as he barked, "You can't afford it. You must stop it.
It's no way to do. I didn't think it of you, Tom!"

After Van Dorn had touched his black wing of hair, his soft mustache and
the crimson flower on his coat, he had himself well in hand and had
planned his defense and counter attacks. He spoke softly:

"Now, Father Jim--I'm not--" he put a touch of feeling in the "not,"
"going to give up the Mauling girl. When I'm elected next month, I'm
going to make her my court stenographer!" He looked the Doctor squarely
in the face and paused for the explosion which came in an excited,
piping cry:

"Why, Tom, are you crazy! Take her all over the three counties of this
district with you? Why, boy--" But Judge Van Dorn continued evenly: "I
don't like a man stenographer. Men make me nervous and self-conscious,
and I can't give a man the best that's in me. And I propose to give my
best to this job--in justice to myself. And Violet Mauling knows my
ways. She doesn't interpose herself between me and my ideas, so I am
going to make her court stenographer next month right after the
election."

When the Doctor drew in a breath to speak, Van Dorn put out a hand,
checked the elder man and said blandly and smilingly, "And, Father Jim,
I'm going to be elected--I'm dead sure of election."

The Doctor thought he saw a glint of sheer malicious impudence in Van
Dorn's smile as he finished speaking: "And anyway, pater, we mustn't
quarrel right now--Just at this time, Laura--"

"You're a sly dog, now, ain't you! Ain't you a sly dog?" shrilled the
Doctor in sputtering rage. Then the blaze in his eyes faded and he cried
in despair: "Tom, Tom, isn't there any way I can put the fear of God
into you?"

Van Dorn realized that he had won the contest. So he forbore to strike
again.

"Doctor Jim, I'm afraid you can't jar me much with the fear of God. You
have a God that sneaks in the back door of matter as a kind of a divine
immanence that makes for progress and Joe Calvin in there has a God with
whiskers who sits on a throne and runs a sort of police court; but one's
as impossible as the other. I have no God at all," his chest swelled
magnificently, "and here's what happens":

He was talking against time and the Doctor realized it. But his scorn
was crusting over his anger and he listened as the young Judge amused
himself: "I've defended gamblers and thugs--and crooks, some rich, some
poor, mostly poor and mostly guilty. And Joe has been free attorney for
the law and order league and has given the church free advice and
entertained preachers when he wasn't hiding out from his wife. And he's
gone to conference and been a deacon and given to the Lord all his life.
And now that it's good business for him to have me elected, can he get a
vote out of all his God-and-morality crowd? Not a vote. And all I have
to do is to wiggle my finger and the whole crowd of thugs and blacklegs
and hoodlums and rich and poor line up for me--no matter how pious I
talk. I tell you, Father Jim--there's nothing in your God theory. It
doesn't work. My job is to get the best out of myself possible." But
this was harking back to Violet Mauling and the young Judge smiled with
bland impertinence as he finished, "The fittest survive, my dear pater,
and I propose to keep fit--to keep fit--and survive!"

The Doctor's anger cooled, but the pain still twinged his heart, the
pain that came as he saw clearly and surely that his daughter's life was
bound to the futile task of making bricks without straw. Deep in his
soul he knew the anguish before her and its vain, continual round of
fallen hopes. As the young Judge strutted up and down the Doctor's
office, the father in the elder man dominated him and a kind of
contemptuous pity seized him. Pity overcame rage, and the Doctor could
not even sputter at his son-in-law. "Fit and survive" kept repeating
themselves over in Dr. Nesbit's mind, and it was from a sad, hurt heart
that he spoke almost kindly: "Tom--Tom, my boy, don't be too sure of
yourself. You may keep fit and you may survive--but Tom, Tom--" the
Doctor looked steadily into the bold, black eyes before him and fancied
they were being held consciously from dropping and shifting as the
Doctor cried: "For God's sake, Tom, don't let up! Keep on fighting, son,
God or no God--you've got a devil--keep on fighting him!"

The olive cheeks flushed for a fleeting second. Van Dorn laughed an
irritated little laugh. "Well," he said, turning to the door, "be over
to-night?--or shall we come over? Anything good for dinner?"

A minute later he came swinging into his own office. He pulled a package
from his pocket. "Violet," he said, going up to her writing desk and
half sitting upon it, as he put the package before her, "here's the
candy."

He picked up her little round desk mirror, smiled at her in it, and
played rather idly about the desk for a foolish moment before going to
his own desk. He sat looking into the street, folding a sheet of blank
paper. When it became a wad he snapped it at the young woman. It hit her
round, beautiful neck and disappeared into her square-cut bodice.

"Get it out for you if you want it?" He laughed fatuously.

The girl flashed quick eyes at him, and said, "Oh, I don't know," and
went on with her work. He began to read, but in a few minutes laid his
book down.

"How'd you like to be a court stenographer?" The girl kept on writing.
"Honest now I mean it. If I win this election and get this job for the
two years of unexpired term, you'll be court stenographer--pays fifteen
hundred a year." The girl glanced quickly at him again, with fire in her
eyes, then looked conspicuously down at the keyboard of the writing
machine.

"I couldn't leave home," she said finally, as she pulled out a sheet of
paper. "It wouldn't be the thing--do you think so?"

He put his feet on the desk, showing his ankles of pride, and fingering
his mustache, smiling a squinty smile with his handsome, beady eyes as
he said: "Oh, I'd take care of you. You aren't afraid of me, are you?"

They both laughed. And the girl came over with a sheet of paper. "Here
is that Midland Valley letter. Will you sign it now?"

He managed to touch her hand as she handed him the sheet, and again to
touch her bare forearm as he handed it back after signing it. For which
he got two darts from her eyes.

A client came in. Joseph Calvin hurried in and out, a busy little rat of
a man who always wore shiny clothes that bagged at the knees and elbows.
George Brotherton crashed in through the office on city business, and so
the afternoon wore away. At the end of the day, Thomas Van Dorn and Miss
Mauling locked up the office and went down the hall and the stairs to
the street together. He released her arm as they came to the street, and
tipped his hat as she rounded the corner for home. He saw the white-clad
Doctor trudging up the low incline that led to Elm Street.

Dr. Nesbit was asking the question, Who are the fit? Who should survive?
His fingers had been pinched in the door of the young Judge's philosophy
and the Doctor was considering much that might be behind the door. He
wondered if it was the rich and the powerful who should survive. Or he
thought perhaps it is those who give themselves for others. There was
Captain Morton with his one talent, pottering up and down the town
talking all kinds of weather, and all kinds of rebuffs that he might
keep the girls in school and make them ready to serve society; yet
according to Tom's standards of success the Captain was unfit; and there
was George Brotherton, ignorant, but loyal, foolishly blind, of a tender
heart, yet compared with those who used his ignorance and played upon
his blindness (and the Doctor winced at his part in that game) Mr.
Brotherton was cast aside among the world's unfit; and so was Henry
Fenn, fighting with his devil like a soldier; and so was Dick Bowman
going into the mines for his family, sacrificing light and air and the
joy of a free life that the wife and children might be clad, housed and
fed and that they might enjoy something of the comforts of the great
civilization which his toil was helping to build up around them; yet in
his grime Dick was accounted exceedingly unfit. Dick only had a number
on the company's books and his number corresponded to a share of stock
and it was the business of the share of stock to get as much out of Dick
and give him back as little, and to take as much from society in passing
for coal as it could, and being without soul or conscience or feeling of
any kind, the share of stock put the automatic screws on Dick--as their
numbers corresponded. And for squeezing the sweat out of him the share
was accounted unusually fit, while poor Dick--why he was merely a number
on the books and was called a unit of labor. Then there was Daniel
Sands. He had spread his web all over the town. It ran in the pipes
under ground that brought water and gas, and the wires above ground,
that brought light and power and communication. The web found its way
into the earth--through deep cuts in the earth, worming along caverns
where it held men at work; then the web ran into foul dens where the
toilers were robbed of their health and strength and happiness and even
of the money the toilers toiled for, and the web brought it all back
slimey and stinking from unclean hands into the place where the spider
sat spinning. And there was his son and daughter; Mr. Sands had married
at least four estimable ladies with the plausible excuse that he was
doing it only to give his children a home. Mr. Sands had given his son a
home, to be sure; but his son had not taken a conscience from the
home--for who was there at home to give it? Not the estimable ladies who
had married Mr. Sands, for they had none or they would have been
somewhere else, to be sure; not Mr. Sands himself, for he was busy with
his web, and conscience rips such webs as his endways, and Daniel would
have none of that. And the servants who had reared the youth had no
conscience to give him; for it was made definite and certain in that
home that they were paid for what they did, so they did what they were
paid for, and bestowing consciences upon young gentlemen is no part of
the duty of the "help" in a home like that.

As for his daughter, Anne, again one of God's miracles was wrought.
There she was growing in the dead atmosphere of that home--where she had
known two mothers before she was ten and she saw with a child's shrewd
eyes that another was coming. Yet in some subsoil of the life about her
the roots of her life were finding a moral sense. Her hazel eyes were
questioning so curiously the old man who fathered her that he felt
uncomfortable when she was near him. Yet for all the money he had won
and all that money had made him, he was reckoned among the fit. Then
there was the fit Mr. Van Dorn and the fit Mr. Calvin. Mr. Calvin never
missed a Sunday in church, gave his tithe, and revered the law. He
adjusted his halo and sang feelingly in prayer meeting about his cross
and hoped ultimately for his crown as full and complete payment and
return, the same being the legal and just equivalent for said
hereinbefore named cross as aforesaid, and Mr. Calvin was counted among
the fit, and the Doctor smiled as he put him in the list. And Mr. Van
Dorn had confessed that he was among the fit and his fitness consisted
in getting everything that he could without being caught.

But these reflections were vain and unprofitable to Dr. Nesbit, and so
he turned himself to the consideration of the business in hand: namely,
to make his calling and reëlection sure to the State Senate that
November. So he went over Greeley County behind his motherly sorrel
mare, visiting the people, telling them stories, prescribing for their
ailments, eating their fried chicken, cream gravy and mashed potatoes,
and putting to rout the forces of the loathed opposition who maintained
that the Doctor beat his wife, by sometimes showing said wife as exhibit
"A" without comment in those remote parts of the county where her proud
figure was unknown.

In November he was reëlected, and there was a torchlight procession up
the aisle of elms and all the neighbors stood on the front porch,
including the Van Dorns and the Mortons and John Kollander in his blue
soldier clothes, carrying the flag into another county office, and the
Henry Fenns, while the Doctor addressed the multitude! And there was
cheering, whereupon Mr. Van Dorn, Judge pro tem and Judge-elect, made a
speech with eloquence and fire in it; John Kollander made his well-known
flag speech, and Captain Morton got some comfort out of the election of
Comrade Nesbit, who had stood where bullets were thickest and as a boy
had bared his breast to the foe to save his country, and drawing the
Doctor into the corner, filed early application to be made
sergeant-at-arms of the State Senate and was promised that or Something
Equally Good. The hungry friends of the new Senator so loaded him with
obligations that blessed night that he again sold his soul to the devil,
went in with the organization, got all the places for all his people,
and being something of an organizer himself, distributed the patronage
for half the State.

Ten days later--or perhaps it may have been two weeks later, at half
past five in the evening--the Judge-elect was sitting at his desk,
handsomely dressed in black--as befitting the dignity of his office. He
and his newly appointed court stenographer had returned the hour before
from an adjoining county where they had been holding court. The Judge
was alone, if one excepts the young woman at the typewriting desk,
before whom he was preening, as though she were a mere impersonal
mirror. During the hour the Judge had visited the tailor's and had
returned to his office wearing a new, long-tailed coat. His black silk
neck-scarf was resplendently new, his large, soft, black hat--of a type
much favored by statesmen in that day--was cocked at a frivolous angle,
showing the raven's wing of black hair upon his fine forehead. A black
silk watchguard crossed his black vest; his patent leather shoes shone
below his trim black silk socks, and he rubbed his smooth, olive cheek
with the yellow chrysanthemum upon his coat lapel.

"Gee, but you're swell," said Miss Mauling. "You look good enough to
eat."

"Might try a bite--if you feel that way about it," replied the Judge. He
put his hands in his pockets, tried them under his long coat tails,
buttoned the coat and thrust one hand between the buttons, put one hand
in a trousers' pocket, letting the other fall at his side, put both
hands behind him, and posed for a few minutes exchanging more or less
fervent glances with the girl. A step sounded in the hallway. The man
and woman obviously listened. It was a heavy tread; it was coming to the
office door. The man and woman slipped into Judge Van Dorn's private
office. When the outer door opened, and it was apparent that some one
was in the outer office, Miss Mauling appeared, note book in hand, quite
brisk and businesslike with a question in her good afternoon.

"Where's Van Dorn?" The visitor was tall, rawboned, and of that physical
cast known as lanky. His face was flinty, and his red hair was untrimmed
at the neck and ears.

"The Judge is engaged just now," smiled Miss Mauling. "Will you wait?"
She was careful not to ask him to sit. Grant Adams looked at the girl
with a fretful stare. He did not take off his hat, and he shook his head
toward Van Dorn's office door as he said brusquely, "Tell him to come
out. It's important." The square shoulders of the tall man gave a lunge
or hunch toward the door. "I tell you it's important."

Miss Mauling smiled. "But he can't come out just now. He's busy. Any
message I can give him?"

The man was excited, and his voice and manner showed his temper.

"Now, look here--I have no message; tell Van Dorn I want him quick."

"What name, please?" responded Miss Mauling, who knew that the visitor
knew she was playing.

"Grant Adams--tell him it's his business and not mine--except--"

But the girl had gone. It was several minutes before Tom Van Dorn moved
gracefully and elegantly into the room. "Ah," he began. Grant glared at
him.

"I've just driven down from Nesbit's with Kenyon, and Mrs. Nesbit says
to tell you Laura's there--came over this morning, and you're to come
just as quick as you can. They tried to get you on the 'phone, but you
weren't here. Do you understand? You're to come quick, and I've left my
horse out here for you. Kenyon and I'll catch a car home."

The pose with one hand in his trousers pocket and the other hanging
loosely suited the Judge-elect as he answered: "Is that all?" Then he
added, as his eyes went over the blue overalls: "I presume Mrs. Nesbit
advised you as to the reason for--for, well--for haste?"

Grant saw Van Dorn's eyes wander to the girl's for approval. "I shall
not need your horse, Adams," Van Dorn went on without waiting for a
reply to his question. Then again turning his eyes to the girl, he
asked: "Adams, anything I can do to repay your kindness?"

"No--" growled Adams, turning to go.

"Say, Adams," called Van Dorn, rubbing his hands and still smiling at
the girl, "you wouldn't take a cigar in--in anticipation of the happy--"

Adams whirled around. His big jaw muscles worked in knots before he
spoke; his blue eyes were set and raging. But he looked at the floor an
instant before crying:

"You go to hell!" And an instant later, the lank figure had left the
room, slamming the door after him. Grant heard the telephone bell
ringing, and heard the girl's voice answering it, then he went to the
doctor's office. As he was writing the words "At Home" on the slate on
the door, he could hear Miss Mauling at the telephone.

"Yes," and again, "Yes," and then, "Is there any message," and finally
she giggled, "All right, I'll call him." Then Grant stalked down the
stairs. The receiver was hanging down. The Doctor at the other end of
the wire could hear a man and a woman laughing. Van Dorn stepped to the
instrument and said: "Yes, Doctor."

Then, "What--well, you don't say!"

And still again, "Yes, he was just here this minute; shall I call him
back?" And before hanging up the receiver, he said, "Why, of course,
I'll come right out."

The Judge-elect turned gracefully around, smiling complacently: "Well,
Violet--it's your bet. It's a girl!"

The court stenographer poked a teasing forefinger at him and whittled it
with another in glee. Then, as if remembering something, she asked:
"How's your wife?"

Van Dorn's face was blank for an instant. "By George--that's so. I
forgot to ask." He started to pick up the telephone receiver, but
checked himself. He pulled his broad-brimmed hat over his eyes, and
started for the door, waving merrily and rubbing his chin with his
flower.

"Ta ta," he called as he saw the last of her flashing smile through the
closing door.

And thus into a world where only the fittest survive that day came Lila
Van Dorn,--the child of a mother's love.



CHAPTER XV

WHEREIN WE WELCOME IN A NEW YEAR AND CONSIDER A SERIOUS QUESTION


The journey around the sun is a long and tumultuous one. Many of us jolt
off the earth as we ride, others of us are turned over and thrown into
strange and absurd positions, and a few of us sit tight and edge along,
a little further toward the soft seats. But as we whirl by the stations,
returning ever and again to the days that are precious in our lives, to
the seasons that give us greatest joy, we measure our gains, on the long
journey, in terms of what we love. "A little over a year ago to-night,
my dear," chirruped Dr. Nesbit, pulling a gray hair from his temple
where hairs of any kind were becoming scarce enough. "A year, a month,
and a week and a day ago to-night the town and the Harvey brass band
came out here and they tramped up the blue grass so that it won't get
back in a dozen years.

"Well," he mused, as the fire burned, "I got 'em all their jobs, I got
two or three good medical laws passed, and I hope I have made some
people happy."

"Yes, my dear," answered his wife. "In that year little Lila has come
into short dresses, and Kenyon Adams has learned to play on the piano,
and is taking up the violin."

"How time has flown since election a year ago," said Captain Morton to
his assembled family as they sat around the base burner smoldering in
the dining-room. "And I've put the patent window fastener into forty
houses and sold Henry Fenn the burglar alarm to go with his." And the
eldest Miss Morton spoke up and said:

"My good land, I hope we'll have a new principal by this time next year.
Another year under that man will kill me--pa, I do wish you'd run for
the school board."

And the handsome Miss Morton added, "My goodness, Emma Morton, if I
didn't have anything to do but draw forty dollars every month for
yanking a lot of little kids around and teaching them the multiplication
tables, I wouldn't say much. Why, we've come through algebra into
geometry and half way through Cicero, while you've been fussing with
that old principal--and Mrs. Herdicker's got a new trimmer, and we girls
down at the shop have to put up with her didoes. Talk of trouble, gee!"

"Martha, you make me weary," said the youngest Miss Morton, eating an
apple. "If you'd had scarlet fever and measles the same year, and your
old dress just turned and your same old hat, you'd have something to
talk about."

"Well," remarked His Honor the Mayor to Henry Fenn and Morty Sands as
they sat in the Amen Corner New Year's eve, looking at the backs of a
shelf of late books and viewing several shelves of standard sets with
highly gilded backs, "it's more'n a year since election--and well,
say--I've got all my election bets paid now and am out of debt again,
and the book store's gradually coming along. By next year this time I
expect to put four more shelves of copyrighted books in and cut down the
paper backs to a stack on the counter. But old Lady Nicotine is still
the patron of the fine arts--say, if it wasn't for the 'baccy little
Georgie would be so far behind with his rent that he would knock off a
year and start over."

Young Mr. Sands rolled a cigarette and lighted it and said: "It's a
whole year--and Pop's gone a long time without a wife; it'll be two
years next March since the last one went over the hill who was brought
out to make a home for little Morty, and I saw Dad peeking out of the
hack window as we were standing waiting for the hearse, and wondered
which one of the old girls present he'd pick on. But," mused Morty, "I
guess it's Anne's eyes. Every time he edges around to the subject of our
need of a mother, Anne turns her eyes on him and he changes the
subject." Morty laughed quietly and added: "When Anne gets out of her
'teens she'll put father in a monastery!"

"Honeymoon's kind of waning--eh, Henry?" asked Judge Van Dorn, who
dropped in for a magazine and heard the conversation about the passing
of the year. He added: "I see you've been coming down here pretty
regularly for three or four months!" Henry looked up sadly and shook his
head. "You can't break the habit of a dozen years. And I got to coming
here back in the days when George ran a pool and billiard hall, and I
suppose I'll come until I die, and then George will bring his wheezy old
quartette around and sing over me, and probably act as pall-bearer
too--if he doesn't read the burial service of the lodge in addition."

"Well, a year's a year," said the suave Judge Van Dorn. "A year ago you
boys were smoking on me as the new judge of this judicial district. All
hail Thane of Cawdor--" He smiled his princely smile, taking every one
in with his frank, bold eyes, and waved himself into the blustery night.
There he met Mr. Calvin, who, owing to a turn matters had taken at home,
was just beginning another long period of exile from the hearthstone. He
walked the night like a ghost, silent and grim. His thin little neck,
furrowed behind by the sunken road between his arteries, was adorned by
two tufts of straggling hair, and as his overcoat collar was rolled and
wrinkled, he had an appearance of extreme neglect and dejection. "Did
you realize that it's over a year since election?" said Van Dorn. "We
might as well begin looking out for next year, Joe," he added, "if
you've got nothing better to do. I wish you'd go down the row to-night
and see the boys and tell them I want to talk to them in the next ten
days or so; a man never can be too early in these things; and say--if
you happen in the Company store down there and see Violet Mauling, slip
her a ten and charge it to me on the books; I wonder how she's doing--I
haven't heard of her for three months. Nice girl, Violet."

And Mrs. Herdicker hadn't heard of Miss Mauling for some time, and
sitting in her little office back of the millinery store, sorting over
her old bills, she came to a bill badly dog-eared with Miss Mauling's
name on it. The bill called for something like $75 and the last payment
on it had been made nearly half a year ago. So she looked at that bill
and added ten dollars to Mrs. Van Dorn's bill for the last hat she
bought, and did what she could to resign herself to the injustices of a
cruel world. But it had been a good year for Mrs. Herdicker. New wells
in new districts had come gushing gas and oil into Harvey in great
geysers and the work on the new smelter was progressing, and the men in
the mines had been kept steadily at work; for Harvey coal was the best
in the Missouri Valley. So the ladies who are no better than they should
be and the ladies who are much better than they should be, and the
ladies who will stand for a turned ribbon, and a revived feather, and
are just about what they may be expected to be, all came in and spent
their money like the princesses that they were. And Mrs. Herdicker
figured in going over her stock just which hat she could sell to Mrs.
Nesbit as a model hat from the Paris exhibit at the World's Fair, and
which one she could put on Mrs. Fenn as a New York sample, and as she
built her castles the loss of the $75 to Miss Mauling had its
compensating returns, and she smiled and thought that just a year ago
she had offered that same World's Fair Model to the wife of the newly
elected State Senator and she must put on a new bunch of flowers and
bend down the brim.

The Dexters were sitting by the stove in the living-room with Amos
Adams; they had come down to the lonely little home to prepare a good
dinner for the men. "A year ago to-day," said the minister to the group
as he put down the newspaper, "Kenyon got his new fiddle."

"The year has brought me something--I tell you," Jasper said. "I've
bought a horse with my money I earned as page in the State Senate and
I've got a milk route, and have all the milk in the neighborhood to
distribute. That's what the year has done for me."

"Well," reflected the minister, "we've got the mission church in South
Harvey on a paying basis, and the pipe organ in the home church paid
for--that's some comfort. And they do say," his eyes twinkled as he
looked at his wife, "that the committee is about to settle all the choir
troubles. That's pretty good for a year."

"Another year," sighed Amos Adams, and the wind blew through the gaunt
branches of the cottonwood trees in the yard, and far down in the valley
came the moaning as of many waters, and the wind played its harmonies in
the woodlot. The old man repeated the words: "Another year," and asked
himself how many more years he would have to wait and listen to the
sighing of the moaning waters that washed around the world. And Kenyon
Adams, lying flushed and tousled and tired upon a couch near by, heard
the waters in his dreams and they made such music that his thin, little
face moved in an eyrie smile.

"Mag," said a pale, nervous girl with dead, sad eyes as she looked
around at the new furniture in the new house, and avoided the rim of
soft light that came from the electric under the red shade, "did you
think I was cheeky to ask you all those questions over the 'phone--about
where Henry was to-night, and what you'd be doing?" The hostess said:
"Why, no, Violet, no--I'm always glad to see you."

There was a pause, and the girl exclaimed: "That's what I come out for.
I couldn't stand it any longer. Mag, what in God's name have I done?
Didn't you see me the other day on Market Street? You were looking right
at me. It's been nearly a year since we've talked. You used to couldn't
get along a week without a good talk; but now--say, Mag, what's the
matter? what have I done to make you treat me like this?" There was a
tremor in the girl's voice. She looked piteously at the wife, radiant in
her red house gown. The hostess spoke. "Look here, Violet Mauling, I did
see you on Market Street, and I did cut you dead. I knew it would bring
you up standing and we'd have this thing out."

The girl looked her question, but flushed. Then she said, "You mean the
old man?"

"I mean the old man. It's perfectly scandalous, Violet; didn't you get
your lesson with Van Dorn?" returned the hostess. "The old man won't
marry you--you don't expect that, do you?" The girl shook her head. The
woman continued, "Well, then drop it. You can't afford to be seen with
him."

"Mag," returned the visitor, "I tell you before God I can't afford not
to. It's my job. It's all I've got. Mamma hasn't another soul except me
to depend on. And he's harmless--the old coot's as harmless as a child.
Honest and true, Mag, if I ever told the truth that's it. He just stands
around and is silly--just makes foolish breaks to hear himself
talk--that's all. But what can I do? He keeps me in the company store,
and Heaven knows he doesn't kill himself paying me--only $8 a week, as
far as that goes, and then he talks and talks and talks about Judge Van
Dorn, and snickers and drops his front false teeth--ugh!--and drivels.
But, Mag, he's harmless as a baby."

"Well," returned the hostess, "Henry says every one is talking about it,
and you're a common scandal, Violet Mauling, and you ought to know it. I
can't hold you up, as you well know--no one can."

Then there followed a flood of tears, and after it had subsided the two
women were sitting on a couch. "I want to tell you about Tom Van Dorn,
Mag--you never understood. You thought I used to chase him. God knows I
didn't, Mag--honest, honest, honest! You knew as well as anything all
about it; but I never told you how I fought and fought and all that and
how little by little he came closer and closer, and no one ever will
know how I cried and how ashamed I was and how I tried to fight him off.
That's the God's truth, Mag--the God's truth if you ever heard it."

The girl sobbed and hid her face. "Once when papa died he sent me a
hundred dollars through Mr. Brotherton, and mamma thought it came from
the Lodge; but I knew better. And, O Mag, Mag, you'll never know how I
felt to bury papa on that kind of money. And I saved for nearly a year
to pay it back, and of course I couldn't, for he kept getting me
expensive things and I had to get things to go with 'em and went in
debt, and then when I went there in the office it was all so--so close
and I couldn't fight, and he was so powerful--you know just how big and
strong, and--O Mag, Mag, Mag--you'll never know how I tried--but I just
couldn't. Then he made me court reporter and took me over the district."
The girl looked up into the great, soft, beautiful eyes of Margaret
Fenn, and thought she saw sympathy there. That was a common mistake;
others made it in looking at Margaret's eyes. The girl felt encouraged.
She came closer to her one-time friend. "Mag," she said, "they lied
awfully about how I lost my job. They said Mrs. Van Dorn made a row.
Honest, Mag, there's nothing to that. She never even dreamed anything
was--well--was--don't you know. She wasn't a bit jealous, and is as nice
as she can be to me right now. It was this way. You know when I sent
mamma away last May for a visit, and the Van Dorns asked me over there
to stay?" Mrs. Fenn nodded. "Well," continued Violet, "one day in
court--you know when they were trying that bond case--the city bonds and
all--well, the Judge scribbled a note on his desk and handed it to me.
It said my room door creaked, and not to shut it." She stopped and put
her head in her hand and rocked her body. "I know, Mag, it was awful,
but some way I just couldn't help it. He is so strong, and--you know,
Mag, how we used to say there's some men when they come about you just
make you kind of flush all over and weak--well, he's that way. And,
anyway, like a fool I dropped that note and one of the jurors--a farmer
from Union township--picked it up and took it straight to Doctor Jim."

The girl hid her face in her friend's dress. "It was awful." She spoke
without looking up. "But, O Mag--Doctor Jim was fine--so gentle, so
kind. The Judge thought he would cuss around a lot, but he didn't--not
even to him--the Judge said. And the Doctor came to me as bashful
and--as--well, your own father couldn't have been better to you. So I
just quit, and the Judge got me the job in the Company store and the
Doctor drops in and she--yes, Mag, the Judge's wife comes with the
Doctor sometimes, and now it's been five months to-day since I left the
court reporter's work and I have hardly seen the Judge to speak to him
since. But they all know, I guess, but mamma, and I sometimes think
folks try to talk to her; and that old man Sands comes snooping and
snickering around like an old dog hunting a buried bone, and he's my
job, and I don't know what to do."

Neither did Margaret know what to do, so she let her go and let her
stay, and knew her old friend no more. For Margaret was rising in the
world, and could have no encumbrances; and Miss Mauling disappeared in
South Harvey and that New Year's Eve marked the sad anniversary of the
break in her relations with Mrs. Fenn. And it is all set down here on
this anniversary to show what a jolty journey some of us make as we jog
around the sun, and to show the gentle reader how the proud Mr. Van Dorn
hunts his prey and what splendid romances he enjoys and what a fair
sportsman he is.

But the old year is restless. It has painted the sky of South Harvey
with the smoke of a score of smelter chimneys; it has burned in the drab
of the dejected-looking houses, and it has added a few dozen new ones
for the men and their families who operate the smelter.

Moreover, the old year has run many new, strange things through a little
boy's eyes as he looks sadly into a queer world--a little, black-eyed
boy, while a grand lady with a high head sits on a piano bench beside
the child and plays for him the grand music that was fashionable in her
grand day. The passing year pressed into his little heart all that the
music told him--not of the gray misery of South Harvey, not of the
thousands who are mourning and toiling there, but instead the old year
has whispered to the child the beautiful mystic tales of great souls
doing noble deeds, of heroes who died that men might live and love, of
beauty and of harmony too deep for any words of his that throb in him
and stir depths in his soul to high aspiration. It has all gone through
his ears; for his eyes see little that is beautiful. There is, of
course, the beauty of the homely hours he spends with those who love him
best, hours spent at school and joyous hours spent by the murmuring
creek, and there is what the grand lady at the piano thinks is a marvel
of beauty in the ornate home upon the hill. But the most beautiful thing
he sees as the old year winds the passing panorama of life for his eyes
is the sunshine and prairie grass. This comes to him of a Sunday when he
walks with Grant--brother Grant, out in the fields far away from South
Harvey--where the frosty breath of autumn has turned the grass to
lavender and pale heliotrope, and the hills roll away and away like
silent music and the clouds idling lazily over the hillsides afar off
cast dark shadows that drift in the lavender sea. Now the smoke that the
old year paints upon the blue prairie sky will fade as the year passes,
and the great smelters may crumble and men may plow over the ground
where they stand so proudly even to-day; but the music in the boy's
heart, put there by the passing year, and the glory of the sunshine and
the prairie grass with the meadow lark's sad evening song as it quivers
for a moment in the sunset air,--these have been caught in the child's
soul and have passed through the strange alchemy of God's great mystery
of human genius into an art that is the heritage of the race. For into
the mind of that child--that eyrie, large-eyed, wondering, silent,
lonely-seeming child--the signals of God were passing. When he grew into
his man's estate and could give them voice, the winds of the prairie,
low and gentle, the soft lisping of quiet waters, the moving passion of
the hurricane, the idle dalliance of the clouds whose purple shadows
combed the rolling hills, and all the ecstasy of the love cry of
solitary prairie birds, found meaning and the listening world heard,
through his music, God speaking to His children.

So the year moved quickly on. Its tasks were countless. It had another
child to teach another message. There was a little girl in the town--a
small girl with the bluest eyes in the world and tiny curls--yellow
curls that wound so softly around her mother's fingers that you would
think that they were not curls at all but golden dreams of curls that
had for the moment come true and would fade back into fairyland whence
they came. And the passing year had to prop the child at a window while
the dusk came creeping into the quiet house. There she sat waiting,
watching, hoping that the proud, handsome man who came at twilight down
the way leading to the threshold, would smile at her. She was not old
enough to hope he would take her in his arms where she could cuddle and
be loved. So the passing year had to take a fine brush and paint upon
the small, wistful face a fleeting shadow, the mere ghost of a sadness
that came and went as she watched and waited for the father love.

And Judge Thomas Van Dorn, the punctilious, gay, resistless, young Tom
Van Dorn was deaf to the deeper voices that called to him and beckoned
him to rest his soul. And soon upon the winds that roam the world and
carry earth dreams back to ghosts, and bring ghosts of what we would be
back to our dreams--the roaming winds bore away the passing year, but
they could not take the shadows that it left upon the child's tender
heart.

Now, when the old year with all its work lay down in the innumerable
company of its predecessors, and the bells rang and the whistles blew in
South Harvey to welcome in the new year, the midnight sky was blazoned
with the great torches from the smelter chimneys, and the pumps in the
oil wells kept up their dolorous whining and complaining, like great
insects battening upon an abandoned world. In South Harvey the lights of
the saloons and the side of the dragon's spawn glowed and beckoned men
to death. Money tinkled over the bars, and whispered as it was crumpled
in the claws of the dragon. For money the scurrying human ants hurried
along the dark, half-lighted streets from the ant hills over the mines.
For money the cranes of the pumps creaked their monody. For money the
half-naked men toiled to their death in the fumes of the smelter. So the
New Year's bells rang a pean of welcome to the money that the New Year
would bring with its toll of death.

"Money," clanged the church bells in the town on the hill. "Money makes
wealth and since we have banished our kings and stoned our priests,
money is the only thing in our material world that will bring power and
power brings pleasure and pleasure brings death."

"And death? and death? and death?" tolled the church bells that glad New
Year, and then ceased in circling waves of sound that enveloped the
world, still inquiring--"and death? and death?" fainter and fainter
until dawn.

The little boy who heard the bells may have heard their plaintive
question; for in the morning twilight, sitting in his nightgown on his
high chair looking into the cheerful mouth of the glowing kitchen stove,
while the elders prepared breakfast, the child who had been silent for a
long time raised his face and asked:

"Grant--what is death?" The youth at his task answered by telling about
the buried seed and the quickening plant. The child listened and shook
his head.

"Father," he asked, addressing the old man, who was rubbing his chilled
hands over the fire, "what is death?" The old man spoke, slowly. He ran
his fingers through his beard and then addressing the youth who had
spoken rather than the child, replied:

"Death? Death?" and looked puzzled, as if searching for his words.
"Death is the low archway in the journey of life, where we all--high and
low, weak and strong, poor and rich, must bow into the dust, remove our
earthly trappings, wealth and power and pleasure, before we rise to go
upon the next stage of our journey into wider vistas and greener
fields."

The child nodded his head as one who has just appraised and approved a
universe, replying sagely, "Oh," then after a moment he added: "Yes."
And said no more.

But when the sun was up, and the wheels scraped on the gravel walk
before the Adams home, and the silvery, infectious laugh of a young
mother waked the echoes of the home, as she bundled up Kenyon for his
daily journey, the old man and the young man heard the child ask: "Aunty
Laura--what is death?" The woman with her own child near in the very
midst of life, only laughed and laughed again, and Kenyon laughed and
Lila laughed and they all laughed.



CHAPTER XVI

GRANT ADAMS IS SOLD INTO BONDAGE AND MARGARET FENN RECEIVES A SHOCK


Perhaps the sound of their laughter drowned the mournful voices of the
bells in Grant Adams's heart. But the bells of the New Year left within
him some stirring of their eternal question. For as the light of day
sniffed out, Grant in a cage full of miners, with Dick Bowman and one of
his boys standing beside him, going down to the second level of the
mine, asked himself the question that had puzzled him: Why did not these
men get as much out of life as their fellows on the same pay in the town
who work in stores and offices? He could see no particular difference in
the intelligence of the men in Harvey and the workers in South Harvey;
yet there they were in poorer clothes, with, faces not so quick, clearly
not so well kept from a purely animal standpoint, and even if they were
sturdier and physically more powerful, yet to the young man working with
them in the mine, it seemed that they were a different sort from the
white-handed, keen-faced, smooth-shaven, well-groomed clerks of Market
Street, and that the clerks were getting the better of life. And Grant
cried in his heart: "Why--why--why?"

Then Dick Bowman said: "Red--penny for your thoughts?" The men near by
turned to Grant and he said: "Hello, Dick--" Then to the boy: "Well,
Mugs, how are you?" He spoke to the others, Casper and Barney and Evans
and Hugh and Bill and Dan and Tom and Lew and Gomer and Mike and
Dick--excepting Casper Herdicker, mostly Welsh and Irish, and they
passed around some more or less ribald greetings. Then they all stepped
upon the soft ground and stood in the light of the flickering oil
torches that hung suspended from timbers.

Stretching down long avenues these flickering torches blocked out the
alleys of the mine in either direction from the room, perhaps fifty by
forty feet, six or seven feet high, where they were standing. A car of
coal drawn by forlorn mules and pushed by a grinning boy, came creaking
around a distant corner, and drew nearer to the cage. A score of men
ending their shift were coming into the passageways from each end,
shuffling along, tired and silent. They met the men going to work with a
nod or a word and in a moment the room at the main bottom was empty and
silent, save for the groaning car and the various language spoken by the
grinning boy to the unhappy mule. Grant Adams turned off the main
passage to an air course, where from the fans above cold air was rushing
along a narrow and scarcely lighted runway about six feet wide and lower
than the main passage. Down this passage the new mule barn was building.
Grant went to his work, and just outside the barn, snuffed a sputtering
torch that was dripping burning oil into a small oily puddle on the damp
floor. The room was cold. Three men were with him and he was directing
them, while he worked briskly with them. Occasionally he left the barn
to oversee the carpenters who were timbering up a new shaft in a lower
level that was not yet ready for operation. Fifty miners and carpenters
were working on the third level, clearing away passages, making shaft
openings, putting in timbers, constructing air courses and getting the
level ready for real work. On the second level, in the little rooms, off
the long, gloomy passages lighted with the flaring torches hanging from
the damp timbers that stretched away into long vistas wherein the
torches at the ends of the passage glimmered like fireflies, men were
working--two hundred men pegging and digging and prying and sweating and
talking to their "buddies," the Welsh in monosyllables and the Irish in
a confusion of tongues. The cars came jangling along the passageways
empty and went back loaded and groaning. Occasionally the piping voice
of a boy and the melancholy bray of a mule broke the deep silence of the
place.

For sound traveled slowly through the gloom, as though the torches
sapped it up and burned it out in faint, trembling light to confuse the
men who sometimes came plodding down the galleries to and from the main
bottom. At nine o'clock Grant Adams had been twice over the mine, on the
three levels and had thirty men hammering away for dear life. He sent a
car of lumber down to the mule barn, while he went to the third level to
direct the division of an air shaft into an emergency escape. On one
side of this air shaft the air came down and there was a temporary hoist
for the men on the third level and on the other side a wooden stairway
was to be built up seventy feet toward the second level.

At ten o'clock Grant came back to the second level by the hoist in the
air shaft and as he started down the low air course branching off from
the main passage and leading to the new mule barn, he smelled burning
pine; and hurrying around a corner saw that the boy who dumped the pine
boards for the mule barn had not taken the boards into the barn, nor
even entirely to the barn, but had dumped them in the passage to the
windward of the barn, under the leaky torch, and Grant could see down
the air course the ends of the boards burning brightly.

The men working in the barn could not smell the fire, for the wind that
rushed down the air course was carrying the smoke and fumes away from
them. Grant ran down the course toward the fire, which was fanned by the
rushing air, came to the lumber, which was not all afire, jumped through
the flames, slapping the little blazes on his clothes with his hat as he
came out, and ran into the barn calling to the men to help him put out
the fire. They spent two or three minutes trying to attach the hose to
the water plug there, but the hose did not fit the plug; then they tried
to turn the plug to get water in their dinner pails and found that the
plug had rusted and would not turn. While they worked the fire grew. It
was impossible to send a man back through it, so Grant sent a man
speeding around the air course, to get a wrench from the pump room, or
from some one in the main bottom to turn on the water. In the meantime
he and the other two men worked furiously to extinguish the fire by
whipping it with their coats and aprons, but always the flames beat them
back. Helplessly they saw it eating along the mine timbers far down the
vacant passage. Little red devils of flame that winked maliciously two
hundred feet away, and went out, then sprang up again, then blazed
steadily. Grant and the two men tugged frantically at the burning
boards, trying to drag them out of the passageway into the barn, but
only here and there could an end be picked up, and it took five minutes
to get half a dozen charred boards into the barn. While they struggled
with the charred boards the flames down the passage kept glowing
brighter and brighter. The men were conscious that the flames were
playing around the second torch below the barn. Although they realized
that the man they sent for the wrench had nearly half a mile to go and
come by the roundabout way, they asked one another if he was making the
wrench!

Men began poking their heads into the course and calling, "Need any help
down there," and Grant cried, "Yes, go to the pump in the main balcony
with your buckets and get water." The man sent for the wrench appeared
down the long passage. Grant yelled,

"Hurry--hurry, man!" But though he came running, the fire seemed to be
going faster than he was. They could hear men calling and felt that
there was confusion at the end of the air course where it turned into
the main passage ahead of the flames. A second torch exploded,
scattering the fire far down the course. The man, breathless and
exhausted, ran up with the wrench. Then they felt the air in the air
course stop moving. They looked at one another. "Yes," said the man with
the wrench, "I told 'em to reverse the fans and when we got the water
turned on we'd hold the fire from going to the other end of the
passage." He said this between gasps as he tugged at the water plug with
the wrench. He hit it a vicious blow and the cap broke.

The fan had reversed. The air was rushing back, bringing the flames to
the barn. They beat the fire madly with their coats, but in two minutes
the roaring air had brought the flames upon them. The loose timber and
shavings in the barn were beginning to blaze and the men ran for their
lives down the air course. As they ran for the south passage, the smoke
followed them and they felt it in their eyes and lungs. The lights
behind them were dimmed, and those in front grew dim. They reached the
passage in a cloud of smoke, but it was going up the air shaft and did
not fill the passage. "Mugs," yelled Grant to a boy driving an ore car,
"run down this passage and tell the men there's a fire--where's your
father?"

"He's up yon way," called the boy, pointing in the opposite direction as
he ran. "You tell him." The fire was roaring down the air course behind
them, and Grant and the three men knew that in a few minutes the reverse
air would be sucking the flames up the air shaft, cutting off the
emergency escape for the men on the first and second levels.

Grant knew that the emergency escape was not completed for the third
level, but he knew that they were using the air chute for a temporary
hoist for the men from the third level and that the main shaft was not
running to the third level.

"Run down this passage, Bill," called Grant. "Get all those fellows.
Evans, you call the first level; I'll skin down this rope to the men
below." In an instant, as the men were flying on their errands, his red
head disappeared down the rope into the darkness. At the bottom of the
hoist in the third level Grant found forty or fifty men at work. They
were startled to see him come down without waiting for the bucket to go
up and he called breathlessly as his feet touched the earth: "Boys,
there's a fire above on the next level--I don't know how bad it is; but
it looks bad to me. They may get it out with a hose from the main
bottom--if they've got hose there that will reach any place."

"Let's go up," cried one of the men. As they started toward him, Grant
threw up his hand.

"Hold on now, boys--hold on. The fans will be blowing that fire down
this air shaft in a few minutes. How far up have you got the ladders?"
he asked.

Some one answered: "Still twelve feet shy." There was a scramble for the
buckets, but no one offered to man the windlass and hoist them up the
air shaft. Grant was only a carpenters' boss. The men around the buckets
were miners. But he called: "Get out of there, Hughey and Mike--none of
that. We must make that ladder first--get some timbers--put the rungs
three feet apart, and work quick."

He pointed at the timbers to be used for the ladders, stepped to the
windlass and cried:

"Here, Johnnie--you got no family--get hold of this windlass with me.
Ready now--family men first--you, Sam--you, Edwards--you, Lewellyn."

Then he bent to the wheel and the men in the bucket started up the
shaft. The others pounded at the ladder, and those who could find no
work clambered up the stairs to the bottom of the gap that separated
them from the second level. As the men in the buckets were nearly up to
the second level, where the hoist stopped, Grant heard one of them call:
"Hurry, hurry--here she comes," and a second later a hot, smoky wind
struck his face and he knew the fan was turned again and soon would be
blowing fire down the air course.

The men had the ladder almost finished. The men above on the stairs
smelled the smoke and began yelling. The bucket reached the top and was
started down. Grant looked up the air shaft and saw the fire--little
flickering flames lighting up the shaft near the second level. The air
rushing down was smoky and filled with sparks. The ladder was ready and
the men made a rush with it up the stairway. Most of their lamps were
put out and it was dark in the stairway. The men were uttering
hysterical, foolish cries as they rushed upward in their panic. The
ladder jolting against the sides of the chamber knocked the men off
their feet and there was tumbling and swearing and tripping and
struggling.

Grant grabbed the ladder from the men and held it above his head, and
called out:

"You men go up there in order. You'll not get the ladder till you
straighten up."

The emergency-passage was filling with smoke. The men were coughing and
gasping.

Up and down the stairs men called:

"Brace up, that's right."

"Red's right."

"We'll all go if we don't straighten up."

In a moment there was some semblance of order, and Grant wormed his way
to the top holding the ladder above him. He put one end of it on a
landing and nailed the foot of the ladder to the landing floor. Then he
stood on the landing, a great, powerful man with blazing eyes, and
called down: "Now come; one at a time, and if any man crowds I'll kill
him. Come on--one at a time." One came and went up; when he was on the
third rung of the ladder, Grant let another man pass up, and so three
men were on the ladder.

As the top man raised the trapdoor above, Grant and those upon the
ladder could see the flames and a great gust of smoke poured down. The
man at the top hesitated. On the other side of the partition in the air
chute the smoke was pouring and the fire was circling the top of the
emergency escape through which the men must pass.

"Go ahead or jump down," yelled Grant.

Those on the ladder and on the landing who could see up cried:

"Quick, for God's sake! Hurry!"

And in another second the first man had scrambled through the hole,
letting the trapdoor fall upon the head of the scrambling man just under
him. He fell, but Grant caught him, and shoved him into the next turn
upon the ladder.

After that they learned to lift their hands up and catch the trapdoor,
but they could see the flames burning the timbers and dropping sparks
and blowing smoke down the emergency shaft. Ten men went up; the fire in
the flume along the stairs below them was beginning to whip through the
board partition. The fan was pumping the third level full of smoke; it
was carried out of the stairway by the current. But the men were calling
below. Little Ira Dooley tried to go around Grant ahead of his turn at
the ladder. The cheater felt the big man's hand catch him and hold him.
The men below saw Grant hit the cheater upon the point of the jaw and
throw him half conscious under the ladder. The men climbed steadily up.
Twenty-five went through the trapdoor into the unknown hell raging
above. Again and again the ladder emptied itself, as the flames in the
shaft grew longer, and the circle of fire above grew broader. The men
passed through the trapdoor with scorching clothes.

The ladder was filling for the last time. The last man was on the first
rung. Grant reached under the ladder, caught Dooley about the waist and
started up with him. On the ladder Dooley regained consciousness, and
Grant shoved him ahead and saw Dooley slip through the trapdoor and then
stop in the smoke and fire and stand holding up the door for Grant. The
two men smiled through the smoke, and as Grant came through with his
clothes afire, he and Dooley looked quickly about them. Their lights
were out; but the burning timbers above gave them their directions. They
headed down the south passage, but even as they entered it the flames
barred them there. Then they turned to go up the passage, and could hear
men calling and yelling far down in the dark alley. The torches were
gone. Far ahead through the stifling smoke that swirled about the damp
timbers overhead, they could see the flickering lights of men running.
They started to follow the lamps. Dooley, who was a little man, slowly
dropped back. Grant caught his hand and dragged him. Soon they came up
to the others, who paused to give them lights. Then they all started to
run again, hoping to come out of that passage into the main bottom by
the main shaft in another quarter of a mile. Occasionally a man would
begin to lag, but some one always stopped to give him a hand. Once Grant
passed two men, Tom Williams and Evan Davis, leaning against a timber,
Davis fagged, Williams fanning his companion with his cap.

From some cross passage a group of men who worked on the second level
came rushing to them. They had no lights and were lost. Down the passage
they all ran together, and at the end they saw something cluttering it
up. The opening seemed to be closed. The front man tumbled and fell; a
dozen men fell over him. Three score men were trapped there, struggling
in a pile of pipes and refuse timber that all but filled the passage
into the main bottom. Five minutes were lost there. Then by twos they
crawled into the main bottom. There men were working with hose, trying
to put out the fire in the air course leading to the mule stables. They
did not realize that the other end of the mine was in flames.

Coal was still going up in the cages. The men in the east and west
passages were still at work. Smoke thickened the air. The entrance to
the air course was charred, and puffing smoke. The fans relaxed for a
moment upon a signal to cease until the course was explored. A hose was
playing in the course, but no man had ventured down it. When Grant came
out he called to the men with the cage boss: "Where's Kinnehan--where's
the pit boss?" No one knew. Some little boys--trimmers and drivers--were
begging to go up with the coal. Finally the cage boss let them ride up.

While they were wrangling, Grant said: "Lookee here--this is a real
fire, men; stop spitting on that air course with the hose and go turn
out the men."

The men from the third level were clamoring at the cage boss to go up.

Grant stopped them: "Now, here--let's divide off, five in a squad and go
after the men on this level, and five in a squad go up to the next level
and call the men out there. There's time if we hurry to save the whole
shift." He tolled them off and they went down the glimmering passages,
that were beginning to grow dim with smoke. As he left the main bottom
he saw by his watch under a torch that it was nearly eleven o'clock. He
ran with his squad down the passage, calling out the men from their
little rooms. Three hundred yards down the smoke grew denser. And he met
men coming along the passage.

"Are they all out back of you?" he called to the men as they passed.
"Yes," they cried, "except the last three or four rooms."

Grant and his men pushed forward to these rooms. As they went they
stumbled over an unconscious form in the passage. The men behind
Grant--Dooley, Hogan, Casper Herdicker, Williams, Davis, Chopini--joined
him. Their work was done. They had been in all the rooms. They picked up
the limp form, and staggered slowly back down the passage. The smoke
gripped Grant about the belly like a vise. He could not breathe. He
stopped, then crawled a few feet, then leaned against a timber. Finally
he rose and came upon the swaying group with the unconscious man.
Another man was down, and three men were dragging two.

The smoke kept rolling along behind them. It blackened the passage ahead
of them. Most of the lights the men carried were out. Grant lent a hand,
and the swaying procession crawled under the smoke. They went so slowly
that one man, then two on their hands and knees, then three more caught
up with them and they were too exhausted to drag the senseless man with
them. At a puddle in the way they soused the face of the prostrated man
in the water. That revived him. They could hear and feel another man
across the passage calling feebly for help. Grant and Chopini, speaking
different languages, understood the universal call of distress, and
together crawled in the dark and felt their way to the feeble voice.
Chopini reached the voice first. Grant could just distinguish in the
darkness the powerful movement of the Italian, with his head upon the
ground like a nosing dog's as he wormed under the fallen body and got it
on his back and bellied over to the group that was slowly moving down
the passage toward the glimmering light. As they passed the rooms
vacated by the miners, sometimes they put their heads in and got
refreshing air, for the smoke moved in a slow, murky current down the
passage and did not back into the rooms at first.

Grant and Chopini crawled on all fours into a room, and found the air
fresh. They rose, holding each other's hands. They leaned together
against the dark walls and breathed slowly, and finally their diaphragms
seemed to be released and they breathed more deeply. By a hand signal
they agreed to start out. At the door they crouched and crawled. A few
yards further they found the little group of a dozen men feebly pushing
on. Seven were trying to drag five. Further down the passage they could
hear the shrill cries of the men in the main bottom, as they came
hurrying from the other runways, and far back up the dark passage behind
them they could hear the roar of flames. They saw that they were
trapped. Behind them was the fire. Before them was the long, impossible
stretch to the main bottom, with the smoke thickening and falling lower
every second. So thick was the smoke that the light ahead winked out.
Death stood before them and behind them.

"Boys--" gasped Grant, "in here--let's get in one of these rooms and
wall it up."

The seven looked at him and he crawled to a room; sticking his head in
he found it murky. He tried another. The third room was fresh and cool,
and he called the men in.

Then all nine dragged one after another of the limp bodies into the room
and they began walling the door into the passage. There were two lights
on a dozen caps. Grant put out one lamp and they worked by the glimmer
of a single lamp. Gradually, but with a speed--slow as it had to
be--inspired by deadly terror, the wall went up. They daubed it with mud
that seemed to refresh itself from a pool that was hollowed in the
floor. After what seemed an age of swiftly accurate work, the wall was
waist high; the smoke bellied in, in a gust, and was suddenly sucked out
by an air current, and the men at the wall tapping some spring of
unknown energy bent frantically to their task. Three of the six men were
coming to life. They tried to rise and help. Two crawled forward, and
patted the mud in the bottom crevices. The fierce race with death called
out every man's reserves of body and soul.

Then, when the wall was breast high, some one heard a choking cry in the
passage. Grant was in the rear of the room, wrestling with a great rock,
and did not hear the cry; but Chopini was over the wall, and Dooley
followed him, and Evans followed him in an instant. They disappeared
down the passage, and when Grant returned, carrying the huge rock to the
speeding work at the wall, he heard a voice outside call:

"We've got 'em."

And then, after a silence, as the workmen hurried with the wall, there
came a call for help. Williams and Dennis Hogan followed Grant through
the hole now nearing the roof of the room, out into the passage. The air
was scorching. Some current was moving it rapidly. The second party came
upon the first struggling weakly with Dick Bowman and his son. Father
and son were unconscious and one of the rescuing party had fainted.
Again the vise gripped Grant's abdomen, and he put his face upon the
damp earth and panted. Slowly the three men in the darkness bellied
along until they felt the wall, then in an agony of effort raised
themselves and their burden. Up the wall they climbed to their knees, to
their feet, and met the hands of those inside who took the burden from
them. One, two, three whiffs of clean air as they stuck their heads in
the room, and they were gone--and another two men from the room followed
them. They came upon the first party working their gasping, fainting
course back to the wall, with their load, rolling a man before them. And
they all pulled and tugged and pushed and some leaned heavily upon
others and all looked death squarely in the face and no man whimpered.
The panic was gone; the divine spark that rests in every human soul was
burning, and life was little and cheap in their eyes, compared with the
chance they had to give it for others.

Flicks of fire were swirling down the passage, and the roar of the
flames came nearer and Grant fancied he could hear the crackle of it.
Chopini was on his knees clutching at the crevices in the wall; Hogan
and Dooley dug with their hands into the chinks, then four men were on
their feet, with the burden, and in the blackness, hands within the wall
reached out and took the man from those outside. The hands reached out
and felt other hands and pulled them up, and five, six men stood upon
their feet and were pulled, scrambling and trembling and reeling, into
the room. The blackness outside became a lurid glare. The flickering
lamp inside showed them that one man was outside. Grant Adams stood
faint and trembling, leaning against a wall of the room; the room and
the men whirled about him and he grew sick at the stomach. But with a
powerful effort he gathered himself, and lunged to the hole in the
rising wall. He was trying to pull himself up when Dooley pulled him
down, and went through the hole like a cat. Hogan followed Dooley and
Evans followed Hogan. "Here he is, right at the bottom," called Hogan,
and in an instant the feet of Casper Herdicker, then the sprawling legs,
then the body and then the head with the closed eyes and gaping mouth
came in, and then three men slowly followed him. Grant, revived by the
water from the puddle under him, stood and saw the last man--Dennis
Hogan--crawl in. Then Grant, seeing Hogan's coat was afire, looked out
and saw flames dancing along the timbers, and a spark with a gust of
smoke was sucked into the room by some eddy of the current outside. In a
last spurt of terrible effort the hole in the wall was closed and
plastered with mud and the men were sealed in their tomb.

It was but a matter of minutes before the furnace was raging outside.
The men in the room could hear it crackle and roar, and the mud in the
chinks steamed. The men daubed the chinks again and again.

As the fire roared outside, the men within the room fancied--and perhaps
it was the sheer horror of their situation that prompted their
fancy--that they could hear the screams of men and mules down the
passage toward the main bottom. After an hour, when the roar ceased,
they were in a great silence. And as the day grew old and the silence
grew deep and the immediate danger past, they began to wait. As they
waited they talked. At times they heard a roaring and a crash and they
knew that the timbers having burned away, the passages and courses were
caving in. By their watches they knew that the night was upon them. And
they sat talking nervously through the night, fearing to sleep, dreading
what each moment might bring. Lamp after lamp burned out in turn. And
still they sat and talked. Here one would drowse--there another lose
consciousness and sink to the ground, but always men were talking. The
talk never ceased. They were ashamed to talk of women while they were
facing death, so they kept upon the only other subjects that will hold
men long--God and politics. The talk droned on into morning, through the
forenoon, into the night, past midnight, with the thread taken from one
man sinking to sleep by another waking up, but it never stopped. The
water that seeped into the puddle on the floor moistened their lips as
they talked. There was no food save in two lunch buckets that had been
left in the room by fleeing miners, and thus went the first day.

The second day the Welsh tried to sing--perhaps to stop the continual
talk of the Irish. Then the Italian sang something, Casper Herdicker
sang the "Marseillaise" and the men clapped their hands, in the twilight
of the last flickering lamp that they had. After that Grant called the
roll at times and those who were awake felt of those who were asleep and
answered for them, and a second day wore into a third.

By the feeling of the stem of Grant Adams's watch as he wound it, he
judged that they had lived nearly four days in the tomb. Little Mugs
Bowman was crying for food, and his father was trying to comfort him, by
giving him his shoe leather to chew. Others rolled and moaned in their
sleep, and the talk grew unstable and flighty.

Some one said, "Hear that?" and there was silence, and no one heard
anything. Again the talk began and droned unevenly along.

"Say, listen," some one else called beside the first man who had heard
the sound.

Again they listened, and because they were nervous perhaps two or three
men fancied they heard something. But one said it was the roar of the
fire, another said it was the sound of some one calling, and the third
said it was the crash of a rock in some distant passageway. The talk did
not rise again for a time, but finally it rose wearily, punctuated with
sighs. Then two men cried:

"Hear it! There it is again!"

And breathless they all sat, for a second. Then they heard a voice
calling, "Hello--hello?" And they tried to cheer.

But the voice did not sound again, and a long time passed. Grant tried
to count the minutes as they ticked off in his watch, but his mind would
not remain fixed upon the ticking, so he lost track of the time after
three minutes had passed. And still the time dragged, the watch kept
ticking.

Then they heard the sound again, clearer; and again it called. Then Dick
Bowman took up a pick, called:

"Watch out, away from the wall, I'm going to make a hole."

He struck the wall and struck it again and again, until he made a hole
and they cried through it:

"Hello--hello--We're here." And they all tried to get to the hole and
jabber through it. Then they could hear hurrying feet and voices
calling, and confusion. The men called, and cried and sobbed and cheered
through the hole, and then they saw the gleam of a lantern. Then the
wall crumbled and they climbed into the passage. But they knew, who had
heard the falling timbers and the crashing rocks, for days, that they
were not free.

The rescuers led the imprisoned miners down the dark passage; Grant
Adams was the last man to leave the prison. As he turned an angle of the
passage, a great rock fell crashing before him, and a head of dirt
caught him and dragged him under. His legs and body were pinioned.
Dennis Hogan in front heard the crash, saw Grant fall, and stood back
for a moment, as another huge rock slid slowly down and came to rest
above the prostrate man. For a second no one moved. Then one man--Ira
Dooley--slowly crept toward Grant and began digging with his hands at
the dirt around Grant's legs. Then Casper Herdicker and Chopini came to
help. As they stood at Grant's head, quick as a flash, the rock fell and
the two men standing at Grant's head were crushed like worms. The roof
of the passage was working wickedly, and in the flickering light of the
lanterns they could see the walls shudder. Then Dick Bowman stepped out.
He brought a shovel from a room opening on the passage, and Evan Davis
and Tom Williams and Jamey McPherson with shovels began working over
Grant, who lay white and frightened, watching the squirming wall above
and blowing the dropping dirt from his face as it fell.

"Mugs, come here," called Dick Bowman. "Take that shovel," commanded the
father, "and hold it over Grant's face to keep the dirt from smothering
him." The boy looked in terror at the roof dropping dirt and ready to
fall, but the father glared at the son and he obeyed. No one spoke, but
four men worked--all that could stand about him. They dug out his body;
they released his legs, they freed his feet, and when he was free they
helped him up and hurried him down the passage which he had traversed
four days ago. Before they turned into the main bottom room, he was sick
with the stench. And as he turned into that room, where the cage landed,
he saw by the lantern lights and by the flaring torches held by a dozen
men, a great congregation of the dead--some piled upon others, some in
attitudes of prayer, some shielding their comrades in death, some
fleeing and stricken prone upon the floor, some sitting, looking the foe
in the face. Men were working with the bodies--trying to sort them into
a kind of order; but the work had just begun.

The weakened men, led by their rescuers, picked their way through the
corpses and went to the top in a cage. Far down in the shaft, the
daylight cut them like a knife. And as they mounted higher and higher,
they could hear the murmur of voices above them, and Grant could hear
the sobs of women and children long before he reached the top. The word
that men had been rescued passed out of the shaft house before they
could get out of the cage, and a great shout went up.

The men walked out of the shaft house and saw all about them, upon flat
cars, upon the dump near the shaft, upon buildings around the shaft
house, a great crowd of cheering men and women, pale, drawn, dreadful
faces, illumined by eager eyes. Grant lifted his eyes to the crowd.
There in a carriage beside Henry Fenn, Grant saw Margaret staring at
him, and saw her turn pale and slide down into her husband's arms, as
she recognized Grant's face among those who had come out of death. Then
he saw his father and little Kenyon in the crowd and he dashed through
the thick of it to them. There he held the boy high in the air, and
cried as the little arms clung about his neck.

The great hoarse whistles roared and the shrill siren whistles screamed
and the car bells clanged and the church bells rang. But they did not
roar and scream and peal and toll for money and wealth and power, but
for life that was returned. As for the army of the dead below, for all
their torture, for all their agony and the misery they left behind for
society to heal or help or neglect--the army of the dead had its requiem
that New Year's eve, when the bells and whistles and sirens clamored for
money that brings wealth, and wealth that brings power, and power that
brings pleasure, and pleasure that brings death--and death?--and death?

The town had met death. But no one even in that place of mourning could
answer the question that the child heard in the bells. And yet that
divine spark of heroism that burns unseen in every heart however high,
however low--that must be the faltering, uncertain light which points us
to the truth across the veil through the mists made by our useless
tears.

And thus a New Year in Harvey began its long trip around the sun, with
its sorrows and its joys, with its merry pantomime and its mutes
mourning upon the hearse, with its freight of cares and compensations
and its sad ironies. So let us get on and ride and enjoy the journey.



CHAPTER XVII

A CHAPTER WHICH INTRODUCES SOME POSSIBLE GODS


When Grant Adams had told and retold his story to the reporters and had
eaten what Dr. Nesbit would let him eat, it was late in the afternoon.
He lay down to sleep with the sun still shining through the shutters in
his low-ceiled, west bed room. Through the night his father sat or slept
fitfully beside him and when the morning sun was high, and still the
young man slept on, the father guarded him, and would let no one enter
the house. At noon Grant rose and dressed. He saw the Dexters coming
down the road and he went to the door to welcome them. It seemed at
first that the stupor of sleep was not entirely out of his brain. He was
silent and had to be primed for details of his adventure. He sat down to
eat, but when his meal was half finished, there came bursting out of his
soul a flame of emotion, and he put down his food, turned half around
from the table, grasped the edges of the board with both hands and cried
as a fanatic who sees a vision:

"Oh, those men,--those men--those wonderful, beautiful souls of men I
saw!--those strong, fearless. Godlike men!--there in the mine, I mean.
Evan Davis, Dick Bowman, Pat McCann, Jamey McPherson, Casper Herdicker,
Chopini--all of them; yes, Dennis Hogan, drunk as he is sometimes, and
Ira Dooley, who's been in jail for hold-ups--I don't care which
one--those wonderful men, who risked their lives for others, and Casper
Herdicker and Chopini, who gave their lives there under the rock for me.
My God, my God!"

His voice thrilled with emotion, and his arms trembled as his hands
gripped the table. Those who heard him did not stop him, for they felt
that from some uncovered spring in his being a section of personality
was gushing forth that never had seen day. He turned quietly to the
wondering child, took him from his chair and hugged him closely to a
man's broad chest and stroked the boyish head as the man's blue eyes
filled with tears. Grant sat for a moment looking at the floor, then
roughed his red mane with his fingers and said slowly and more quietly,
but contentiously:

"I know what you don't know with all your religion, Mr. Dexter; I know
what the Holy Ghost is now. I have seen it. The Holy Ghost is that
divine spark in every human soul--however life has smudged it over by
circumstance--that rises and envelopes a human creature in a flame of
sacrificial love for his kind and makes him joy to die to save others.
That's the Holy Ghost--that's what is immortal."

He clenched his great hickory fist and hit the table and lifted his face
again, crying: "I saw Dennis Hogan walk up to Death smiling that Irish
smile. I saw him standing with a ton of loose dirt hanging over him
while he was digging me out! I saw Evan Davis--little, bow-legged Evan
Davis--go out into the smoke alone--alone, Mr. Dexter, and they say Evan
is a coward--he went out alone and brought back Casper Herdicker's limp
body hugged to his little Welsh breast like a gorilla's--and saved a
man. I saw Dick Bowman do more--when the dirt was dropping from the
slipping, working roof into my mouth and eyes, and might have come down
in a slide--I lay there and watched Dick working to save me and I heard
him order his son to hold a shovel over my face--his own boy." Grant
shuddered and drew the child closer to him, and looked at the group near
him with wet eyes. "Ira Dooley and Tom Williams and that little Italian
went on their bellies, half dead from the smoke, out into death and
brought home three men to safety, and would have died without batting an
eye--all three to save one lost man in that passage." He beat the table
again with his fist and cried wildly: "I tell you that's the Holy Ghost.
I know those men may sometimes trick the company if they can. I know Ira
Dooley spends lots of good money on 'the row'; I know Tom gambles off
everything he can get his hands on, and that the little Dago probably
would have stuck a knife in an enemy over a quarter. But that doesn't
count."

The young man's voice rose again. "That is circumstance; much of it is
surroundings, either of birth or of this damned place where we are
living. If they cheat the company, it is because the company dares them
to cheat and cheats them badly. If they steal, it is because they have
been taught to steal by the example of big, successful thieves. I've had
time to think it all out.

"Father--father!" cried Grant, as a new wave of emotion surged in from
the outer bourne of his soul, "you once said Dick Bowman sold out the
town and took money for voting for the Harvey Improvement bond steal.
But what if he did? That was merely circumstance. Dick is a little man
who has had to fight for money all his life--just enough money to feed
his hungry children. And here came an opportunity to get hold of--what
was it?--a hundred dollars--" Amos Adams nodded. "Well, then, a hundred
dollars, and it would buy so much, and leading citizens came and told
him it was all right--men we have educated with our taxes and our
surplus money in universities and colleges. And we haven't educated
Dick; we've just taught him to fight--to fight for money, and to think
money will do everything in God's beautiful world. So Dick took it. That
was the Dick that man and Harvey and America made, father, but I saw the
Dick that God made!" He stopped and cried out passionately, "And some
day, some day all the world must know this man--this great-souled,
common American--that God made!"

Grant's voice was low, but a thousand impulses struggled across his
features for voice and his eyes were infinitely sad as he gazed at the
curly, brown hair of the child in his arms playing with the buttons on
his coat.

The minister looked at his wife. She was wet-faced and a-tremble, and
had her hands over her eyes. Amos Adams's old, frank face was troubled.
The son turned upon him and cried:

"Father--you're right when you say character makes happiness. But what
do you call it--surroundings--where you live and how you live and what
you do for a living--environment! That's it, that's the
word--environment has lots and lots to do with character. Let the
company reduce its dividends by giving the men a chance at decent living
conditions, in decent houses and decent streets, and you'll have another
sort of attitude toward the company. Quit cheating them at the store,
and you'll have more honesty in the mines; quit sprinkling sour beer and
whiskey on the sawdust in front of the saloons to coax men in who have
an appetite, and you'll have less drinking--but, of course, Sands will
have less rents. Let the company obey the law--the company run by men
who are pointed out as examples, and there'll be less lawlessness among
the men when trouble comes. Why, Mr. Dexter, do you know as we sat down
there in the dark, we counted up five laws which the company broke, any
one of which would have prevented the fire, and would have saved ninety
lives. Trash in the passage leading to the main shaft delayed notifying
the men five minutes--that's against the law. Torches leaking in the
passageway where there should have been electric lights--that's against
the law. Boys--little ten-year-olds working down there--cheap, cheap!"
he cried, "and dumping that pine lumber under a dripping torch--that's
against the law. Having no fire drill, and rusty water plugs and hose
that doesn't reach--that's against the law. A pine partition in an
air-chute using it as a shaft--that's against the law. Yet when trouble
comes and these men burn and kill and plunder--we'll put the miners in
jail, and maybe hang them, for doing as they are taught a thousand times
a week by the company--risking life for their own gain!"

Grant Adams rose. He ran his great, strong, copper-freckled hands
through his fiery hair and stood with face transfigured, as the face of
one staring at some phantasm. "Oh, those men--they risked their
lives--Chopini and Casper Herdicker gave their lives for me. Father," he
cried, "I am bought with a price. These men risked all and gave all for
me. I am theirs. I have no other right to live except as I serve them."
He drew a deep breath; set his jaw and spoke with all the force he could
put into a quiet voice: "I am dedicated to men--to those great-souled,
brave, kind men whom God has sent here for man to dwarf and ruin. They
have bought me. I am theirs."

The minister put the question in their minds:

"What are you going to do, Grant?"

The fervor that had been dying down returned to Grant Adams's face.

"My job," he cried, "is so big I don't know where to take hold. But I'm
not going to bother to tell those men who sweat and stink and suffer
under the injustices of men, about the justice of God. I've got one
thing in me bigger'n a wolf--it's this: House them--feed them, clothe
them, work them--these working people--and pay them as you people of the
middle classes are housed and fed and paid and clad, and crime won't be
the recreation of poverty. And the Lord knows the work of the men who
toil with their hands is just as valuable to society as preaching and
trading and buying and selling and banking and editing and lawing and
doctoring, and insuring and school teaching."

He stood before the kitchen stove, a tall, awkward, bony,
wide-shouldered, loose-wired creature in the first raw stage of
full-blown manhood. The red muscles of his jaw worked as his emotions
rose in him. His hands were the hands of a fanatic--never still.

"I've been down into death and I've found something about life," he went
on. "Out of the world's gross earnings we're paying too much for
superintendence, and rent and machines, and not enough for labor.
There's got to be a new shake-up. And I'm going to help. I don't know
where nor how to begin, but some way I'll find a hold and I'm going to
take it."

He drew in a long breath, looked around and smiled rather a ragged, ugly
smile that showed his big teeth, all white and strong but uneven.

"Well, Grant," said Mrs. Dexter, "you have cut out a big job for
yourself." The young man nodded soberly.

"Well, we're going to organize 'em, the first thing. We talked that over
in the mine when we had nothing else to talk about--but God and our
babies."

In the silence that followed, Amos Adams said: "While you were down
there of course I had to do something. So after the paper was out, I got
to talking with Lincoln about things. He said you'd get out. Though,"
smiled the old man sheepishly and wagged his beard, "Darwin didn't think
you would. But anyway, they all agreed we should do something for the
widows."

"They have a subscription paper at George Brotherton's store--you know,
Grant," said Mr. Dexter.

"Well--we ought to put in something, father,--all we've got, don't you
think?"

"I tried and tried to get her last night to know how she felt about it,"
mused Amos. "I've borrowed all I can on the office--and it wouldn't sell
for its debts."

"You ought to keep your home, I think," put in Mrs. Dexter quickly, who
had her husband's approving nod.

"They told me," said the father, "that Mary didn't feel that way about
it. I couldn't get her. But that was the word she sent."

"Father," said Grant with the glow in his face that had died for a
minute, "let's take the chance. Let's check it up to God good and hard.
Let's sell the house and give it all to those who have lost more than
we. We can earn the rent, anyway."

Mrs. Dexter looked significantly at Kenyon.

"No, that shouldn't count, either," said Grant stubbornly. "Dick Bowman
didn't let his boy count when I needed help, and when hundreds of
orphaned boys and girls and widows need our help, we shouldn't hold back
for Kenyon."

"Grant," said the father when the visit was ended and the two were
alone, "they say your father has no sense--up town. Maybe I haven't. I
commune with these great minds; maybe they too are shadows. But they
come from outside of me." He ran his fingers through his graying beard
and smiled. "Mr. Left brings me things that are deeper and wiser than
the things I know--it seems to me. But they all bear one testimony,
Grant; they all tell me that it's the spiritual things and not the
material things in this world that count in the long run, and, Grant,
boy," the father reached for his son's strong hand, "I would rather have
seen the son that has come back to me from death, go back to death now,
if otherwise I never could have seen him. They told me your mother was
with you. And now I know some way she touched your heart out there in
the dark--O Grant, boy, while you spoke I saw her in your face--in your
face I saw her. Mary--Mary," cried the weeping old man, "when you sent
me back to the war you looked as he looked to-day, and talked so."

"Father," said Grant, "I don't know about your Mr. Left. He doesn't
interest me, as he does you, and as for the others--they may be true or
all a mockery, for anything I know. But," he exclaimed, "I've seen God
face to face and I can't rest until I've given all I
am--everything--everything to help those men!"

Then the three went out into the crisp January air--father and son and
little Kenyon bundled to the chin. They walked over the prairies under
the sunshine and talked together through the short winter afternoon. At
its close they were in the timber where the fallen leaves were beginning
to pack against the tree trunks and in the ravines. The child listened
as the wind played upon its harp, and the rhythm of the rising and
falling tide of harmony set his heart a-flutter, and he squeezed his
father's fingers with delight. A redbird flashing through the gray and
brown picture gave him joy, and when it sang far down the ravine where
the wind organ seemed to be, the child's eyes brimmed and he dropped
behind the elders a few paces to listen and be alone with his ecstasy.
And so in the fading day they walked home. The quail piped for the
child, and the prairie chicken pounded his drum, and in the prairie
grass the slanting sun painted upon the ripples across the distant,
rolling hills many pictures that filled the child's heart so full that
he was still, as one who is awed with a great vision. And it was a great
vision that filled his soul: the sunset with its splendors, the twilight
hovering in the brown woods, the prairie a-quiver with the caresses of
the wind, winter-birds throbbing life and ecstasy into the picture, and
above and around it all a great, warm, father's heart symbolizing the
loving kindness of the infinite to the child's heart.



CHAPTER XVIII

OUR HERO RIDES TO HOUNDS WITH THE PRIMROSE HUNT


Going home from the Adamses that afternoon, John Dexter mused:
"Curious--very curious." Then he added: "Of course this phase will pass.
Probably it is gone now. But I am wondering how fundamental this state
of mind is, if it will not appear again--at some crisis later in life."

"His mother," said Mrs. Dexter, "was a strong, beautiful woman. She
builded deep and wide in that boy. And his father is a wise, earnest,
kindly man, even if he may be impractical. Why shouldn't Grant do all
that he dreams of doing?"

"Yes," returned the minister dryly. "But there is life--there are its
temptations. He is of the emotional type, and the wrong woman could bend
him away from any purpose that he may have now. Then, suppose he does
get past the first gate--the gate of his senses--there's the temptation
to be a fool about his talents if he has any--if this gift of tongues
we've seen to-day should stay with him--he may get the swelled head. And
then," he concluded sadly, "at the end is the greatest temptation of
all--the temptation that comes with power to get power for the sake of
power."

The next morning Amos Adams and Grant went in to Market Street to sell
their home. Grant seemed a stranger to that busy mart of trade: the week
of his absence had taken him so far from it. His eyes were caught by two
tall figures, a man and a woman, walking and talking as they crossed the
street--the man in a heavy, long, brown ulster, the woman in a flaring
red, outer garment. He recognized them as Margaret Fenn and Thomas Van
Dorn. They had met entirely by chance, and the meeting was one of
perhaps half a dozen chance meetings which they had enjoyed during the
winter, and these meetings were so entirely pleasurable that the man was
beginning rather vaguely to anticipate them--to hope for another meeting
after the last. Grant was in an exalted mood that morning, and the sight
of the two walking together struck him only as a symbol and epitome of
all that he was going into the world to fight--in the man intellect
without moral purpose, in the woman materialism, gross and carnal. The
Adamses went the rounds of the real estate dealers trying to sell their
home, and in following his vision Grant forgot the two tall figures in
the street.

But the two figures that had started Grant's reverie continued to
walk--perhaps a trifle slower than was the wont of either, down Market
Street. They walked slowly for two reasons: For her part, she wished to
make the most of a parade on Market Street with so grand a person as the
Judge of the District Court, and the town's most distinguished citizen;
and for his part, he dawdled because life was going slowly with him in
certain quarters: he felt the lack of adventure, and here--at least, she
was a stunning figure of a woman! "Yes," she said, "I heard about them.
Henry has just told me that Mr. Brotherton said the Adamses are going to
sell their home and give it to the miners' widows. Isn't it foolish?
It's all they've got in the world, too! Still, really nothing is strange
in that family. You know, I boarded with them one winter when I taught
the Prospect School. Henry says they want to do something for the
laboring people," she added naïvely.

As she spoke, the man's eyes wandered over her figure, across her face,
and were caught by her eyes that looked at him with something in them
entirely irrelevant to the subject that her lips were discussing. His
eyes caught up the suggestion of her eyes, and carried it a little
further, but he only said: "Yes--queer folks--trying to make a
whistle--"

"Out of a pig's tail," she laughed. But her eyes thought his eyes had
gone just a little too far, so they drooped, and changed the subject.

"Well, I don't know that I would say exactly a pig's tail," he returned,
bracketing his words with his most engaging smile, "but I should say out
of highly refractory material."

His eyes in the meantime pried up her eyelids and asked what was wrong
with that. And her eyes were coy about it, and would not answer
directly.

He went on speaking: "The whole labor trouble, it seems to me, lies in
this whistle trade. A smattering of education has made labor
dissatisfied. The laboring people are trying to get out of their place,
and as a result we have strikes and lawlessness and disrespect for
courts, and men going around and making trouble in industry by 'doing
something for labor.'"

"Yes," she replied, "that is very true."

But her eyes--her big, liquid, animal eyes were saying, "How handsome
you are--you man--you great, strong, masterful man with your brown
ulster and brown hat and brown tie, and silken, black mustache." To
which his eyes replied, "And you--you are superb, and such lips and such
teeth," while what he trusted to words was:

"Yes--I believe that the laborer in the mines, for instance, doesn't
care so much about what we would consider hardship. It's natural to him.
It would be hard for us, but he gets used to it! Now, the smelter men in
that heat and fumes--they don't seem to mind it. The agonizing is done
largely by these red-mouthed agitators who never did a lick of work in
their lives."

Their elbows touched for a moment as they walked. He drew away politely
and her eyes said:

"That's all right: I didn't mind that a bit." But her lips said: "That's
what I tell Mr. Fenn, and, anyway, the work's got to be done and
cultivated people can't do it. It's got to be done by the ignorant and
coarse and those kind of people."

His eyes flinched a little at "those kind" of people and she wondered
what was wrong. But it was only for a moment that they flinched. Then
they told her eyes how fine and desirable she looked, and she replied
eyewise with a droop such as the old wolf might have used in replying to
Red Riding Hood, "The better to eat you, my child." Then his voice
spoke; his soft, false, vain, mushy voice, and asked casually: "By the
way, speaking of Mr. Fenn--how is Henry? I don't see him much now since
he's quit the law and gone into real estate."

His eyes asked plainly: Is everything all right in that quarter? Perhaps
I might--

"Oh, I guess he's all right," and her eyes said: That's so kind of you,
indeed; perhaps you might--

But he went on: "You ought to get him out more--come over some night and
we'll make a hand at whist. Mrs. Van Dorn isn't much of a player, but
like all poor players, she enjoys it." And the eyes continued: But you
and I will have a fine time--now please come--soon--very soon.

"Yes, indeed--I don't play so well, but we'll come," and the eyes
answered: That is a fair promise, and I'll be so happy. Then they
flashed quickly: But Mrs. Van Dorn must arrange it. He replied: "I'll
tell Mrs. Van Dorn you like whist, and she and you can arrange the
evening."

Then they parted. He walked into the post office, and she walked on to
the Wright & Perry store. But instead of returning to his office, he
lounged into Mr. Brotherton's and sat on a bench in the Amen Corner,
biting a cigar, waiting for traffic to clear out. Then he said: "George,
how is Henry Fenn doing--really?"

His soft, brown hat was tipped over his eyes and his ulster, unbuttoned,
displayed his fine figure, and he was clearly proud of it. Brotherton
hesitated while he invoiced a row of books.

"Old trouble?" prompted Judge Van Dorn.

"Old trouble," echoed Mr. Brotherton--"about every three months since
he's been married; something terrible the last time. But say--there's a
man that's sorry afterwards, and what he doesn't buy for her after a
round with the joy-water isn't worth talking about. So far, he's been
able to square her that way--I take it. But say--that'll wear off, and
then--" Mr. Brotherton winked a large, mournful, devilish wink as one
who was hanging out a storm flag. Judge Van Dorn twirled his mustache,
patted his necktie, jostled his hat and smiled, waiting for further
details. Instead, he faced a question:

"Why did Henry quit the law for real estate, Judge--the old trouble?"

Judge Van Dorn echoed, and added: "Folks pretty generally know about it,
and they don't trust their law business in that kind of hands. Poor
Henry--poor devil," sighed the young Judge, and then said: "By the way,
George, send up a box of cigars--the kind old Henry likes best, to my
house. I'm going to have him and the missus over some evening."

Mr. Brotherton's large back was turned when the last phrase was uttered,
and Mr. Brotherton made a little significant face at his shelves, and
the thought occurred to Mr. Brotherton that Henry Fenn was not the only
man whom people pretty generally knew about. After some further talk
about Fenn and his affairs, Van Dorn primped a moment before the mirror
in the cigar cutter and started for the door.

"By the by, your honor, I forgot about the Mayor's miners' relief fund.
How is it now?" asked Van Dorn.

"Something past ten thousand here in the county."

"Any one beat my subscription?" asked Van Dorn.

Brotherton turned around and replied: "Yes--Amos Adams was in here five
minutes ago. He has mortgaged his place and so long as he and Grant
can't find kith or kin of Chopini, and Mrs. Herdicker would take
nothing--Amos has put $1,500 into the fund. Done it just now--him and
Grant."

The Judge took the paper, looked at the scrawl of the Adamses, and
scratching out his subscription, put two thousand where there had been
one thousand. He showed it to Brotherton, and added with a smile:

"Who'll call that--I wonder."

And wrapping his ulster about him and cocking his hat rakishly, he went
with some pride into the street. He was thirty-four years old and was
accounted as men go a handsome dog, with a figure just turning from the
litheness of youth into a slight rotundity of very early middle age. He
carried his shoulders well, walked with a firm, straight gait--perhaps a
little too much upon his toes for candor, but, with all, he was a
well-groomed animal and he knew it. So he passed Margaret Fenn again on
the street, lifted his hat, hunted for her eyes, gave them all the
voltage he had, and the smile that he shot at her was left over on his
face for half a block down the street. People passing him smiled back
and said to one another:

"What a fine, good-natured, big-hearted fellow Tom Van Dorn is!"

And Mr. Van Dorn, not oblivious to the impression he was making, smiled
and bowed and bowed and smiled, and hellowed Dick, and howareyoued
Hiram, and goodmorninged John, down the street, into his office. There
he found his former partner busy with a laudable plan of defending a
client. His client happened to be the Wahoo Fuel Company, which was
being assailed by the surviving relatives of something like one hundred
dead men. So Mr. Calvin was preparing to show that in entering the mine
they had assumed the ordinary risks of mining, and that the neglect of
their fellow servants was one of those ordinary risks. And as for the
boy ten years old being employed in the mines contrary to law, there
were some details of a trip to Austria for that boy and his parents,
that had to be arranged with the steamship company by wire that very
morning. The Judge sat reading the law, oblivious--judicially--to what
was going on, and Joseph Calvin fell to work with a will. But what the
young Judge, who could ignore Mr. Calvin's activities, could not help
taking judicial notice of in spite of his law books, were those eyes out
there on the street. They were indeed beautiful eyes and they said so
much, and yet left much to the imagination--and the imagination of Judge
Van Dorn was exceedingly nimble in those little matters, and in many
other matters besides. Indeed, so nimble was his imagination that if it
hadn't been for the fact that at Judge Van Dorn's own extra-judicial
suggestion, every lawyer in town, excepting Henry Fenn, who had retired
from the law practice, had been retained by the Company an hour after
the accident, no one knows how many holes might have been found in Mr.
Joseph Calvin's unaided brief.

As the young Judge sat poring over his law book, Captain Morton came in
and after the Captain's usual circumlocution he said:

"What I really wanted to know, Judge, was about a charter. I want to
start a company. So I says to myself, Judge Tom, he can just about start
me right. He'll get my company going--what say?" Answering the Judge's
question about the nature of the company, the Captain explained: "You
see, I had the agency for the Waverly bicycle here a while back, and I
got one of their wheels and was fooling with it like a fellow will on a
wet day--what say?" He smiled up at the Judge a self-deprecatory smile,
as if to ask him not to mind his foolishness but to listen to his story.
"And when I got the blame thing apart, she wouldn't go together--eh? So
I had to kind of give up the agency, and I took a churn that was filling
a long-felt want just then. Churns is always my specialty and I forgot
all about the bicycle--just like a fellow will--eh? But here a while
back I wanted to rig up a gearing for the churn and so I took down the
wreck of the old wheel, and dubbing around I worked out a ball-bearing
sprocket joint--say, man, she runs just like a feather. And now what I
want is a patent for the sprocket and a charter for the company to put
it on the market. Henry Fenn's going to the capital for me to fix up the
charter; and then whoopee--the old man's coming along, eh? When I get
that thing on the market, you watch out for me--what say?"

The eyes of Margaret Fenn danced around the Captain's sprocket. So the
Judge, thinking to get rid of the Captain and oblige the Fenns with one
stroke, sent the Captain away with twenty-five dollars to pay Henry Fenn
for getting the patent for the sprocket and securing the charter for the
company.

As the Captain left the office of the Judge he greeted Mrs. Van Dorn
with an elaborate bow.

And now enter Laura Van Dorn. And she is beautiful, too--with candid,
wide-open gray eyes. Maturity has hardly reached her, but through the
beauty of line and color, character is showing itself in every feature;
Satterthwaite and Nesbit, force and sentiment are struggling upon her
features for mastery. The January air has flushed her face and her
frank, honest eyes glow happily. But when one belongs to the ancient,
though scarcely Honorable Primrose Hunt, and rides forever to the hounds
down the path of dalliance, one's wife of four years is rather stale
sport. One does not pry up her eyelashes; they have been pried; nor does
one hold dialogues with her under the words of conventional speech. The
rules of the Hunt require one to look up at one's wife--chiefly to find
out what she is after and to wonder how long she will inflict herself.
And when one is hearing afar the cry of the pack, no true sportsman is
diverted from the chase by ruddy, wifely cheeks, and beaming, wifely
eyes, and an eager, wifely heart. So when Laura his wife came into the
office of the young Judge she found his heart out with the Primrose Hunt
and only his handsome figure and his judicial mind accessible to her.
"Oh, Tom," she cried, "have you heard about the Adamses?" The young
Judge looked up, smiled, adjusted his judicial mind, and answered
without emotion: "Rather foolish, don't you think?"

"Well, perhaps it's foolish, but you know it's splendid as well as I.
Giving up everything they had on earth to soften the horror in South
Harvey--I'm so proud of them!"

"Well," he replied, still keeping his chair, and letting his wife find a
chair for herself, "you might work up a little pride for your husband
while you're at it. I gave two thousand. They only gave fifteen
hundred."

"Well--you're a dear, too." She touched him with a caressing hand. "But
you could afford it. It means for you only the profits on one real
estate deal or one case of Joe Calvin's in the Federal Court, where you
can still divide the fees. But, Tom--the Adamses have given
themselves--all they have--themselves. It's a very inspiring thing; I
feel that it must affect men in this town to see that splendid faith."

"Laura," he answered testily, "why do you still keep up that foolish
enthusiasm for perfectly unreasonable things? There was no sense in the
Adamses giving that way. It was a foolish thing to do, when the old man
is practically on the town. His paper is a joke. Sooner or later we will
all have to make up this gift a dollar at a time and take care of him."

He turned to his law book. "Besides, if you come to that--it's money
that talks and if you want to get excited, get excited over my two
thousand. It will do more good than their fifteen hundred--at least five
hundred dollars more. And that's all there is to it."

Her face twitched with pain. Then from some depths of her soul she
hailed him impulsively:

"Tom, I don't believe that, and I don't believe you do, either--it isn't
the good the money does those who receive; it's the good it does the
giver. And the good it does the giver is measured by the amount of
sacrifice--the degree of himself that he puts into it--can't you
understand, Tom? I'd give my soul if you could understand."

"Well, I can't understand, Laura," impatiently; "that's your father's
sentimental side. Of all the fool things," the Judge slapped the book
sheet viciously, "that the old man has put into your head--sentiment is
one of the foolest. I tell you, Laura, money talks. There are ten
languages spoken in South Harvey, and money talks in all of them, and
one dollar does as much as another, and that's all there is to it."

She rose with a little sigh. "Well," she said gently, "we won't
quarrel." The wife looked intently at the husband, and in that flash of
time from beneath her consciousness came renewed strength. Something
primeval--the eternal uxorial upon which her whole life rested,
possessed her and she smiled, and touched her husband's thick, black
hair gently. For she felt that if the spiritual ties for the moment had
failed them, she must pick up some other tie. She was the nest builder
indomitable. If the golden thread should drop--there is the string--the
straw--the horse hair--the twig. So Laura Van Dorn picked up an appeal
to her husband's affections and continued her predestined work.

"Tom," she said, with her smile still on her face, "what I really and
truly wanted to tell you was about Lila." The mention of the child's
name brought quick light to the mother's face. "Lila--think of
it, Tom--Lila," the mother repeated with vast pride. "You must come right
out and see her. About an hour ago, she sat gazing at your picture on my
dresser, and suddenly without a word from me, she whispered 'Daddy,' and
then was as shy for a moment, then whispered it again, and then spoke it
out loud, and she is as proud as Punch, and keeps saying it over and
over! Tom--you must come out and hear it."

Perhaps it was a knotty point of law that held his mind, or perhaps it
was the old beat of the hoofs on the turf of the Primrose Hunt that
filled his ears, or the red coat of the fox that filled his eyes.

He smiled graciously and replied absently: "Well--Daddy--" And repeated
"Daddy--don't you think father is--" He caught the cloud flashing across
her face, and went on: "Oh, I suppose daddy is all right to begin with."
He picked up his law book and the woman drew nearer to him. She put her
hand over the page and coaxed:

"Come on, Tom--just for a little minute--come on out and see her. I know
she is waiting for you--I know she is just dying to show off to you--and
besides, the new rugs have come for the living-room, and I just couldn't
unpack them without you. It would seem so--old--old--old marriedy, and
we aren't going to be that." She laughed and tried to close the law
book.

Their eyes met and she thought for a moment that she was winning her
contest. But he put her hand aside gently and answered: "Now, Laura, I'm
busy, exceedingly busy. This mine accident is bound to come before me in
one form or another soon, and I must be ready for it, and it is a
serious matter. There will be all kinds of attacks upon the property."

"The property?" she asked, and he answered:

"Why, yes--legal attacks upon the mine--to bleed the owners, and I must
be ready to guard them against these assaults, and I just can't jump and
run every time Lila coos or you cut a string on a package. I'll be out
to-night and we'll hear Lila and look at the rugs." To the
disappointment upon her face he replied: "I tell you, Laura, sentiment
is going to wreck your life if you don't check it."

The man looked into his book without reading. He had come to dislike
these little scenes with his wife. He looked from his book out of the
window, into the snowy street. He remembered his morning walk. There was
no talk of souls in those eyes, no hint of higher things from those
lips, no covert taunt of superiority in that face.

Laura did not wince. But her eyes filled and her voice was husky as she
spoke: "Tom, I want your soul again--the one that used to speak to me in
the old days." She bent over him, and rubbed her cheek against his and
there she left him, still looking into the street.

That evening at sunset, Judge Van Dorn, with his ulster thrown back to
show his fine figure, walked in his character of town Prince homeward up
the avenue. His face was amiable; he was gracious to every one. He spoke
to rich and poor alike, as was his wont. As he turned into his home
yard, he waved at a little face in the window. In the house he was the
spirit of good nature itself. He was full of quips and pleasantries and
happy turns of speech. But Laura Van Dorn had learned deep in her heart
to fear that mood. She was ashamed of her wisdom--degraded by her doubt,
and she fought with it.

And yet a man and a woman do not live together as man and wife and
parents without learning much that does not come from speech and is not
put into formulated conviction. The signs were all for trouble, and in
the secret places of her heart she knew these signs.

She knew that this grand manner, this expansive mood, this keying up of
attentions to her were the beginnings of a sad and sordid story--a story
that she did not entirely understand; would not entirely translate, but
a story that sickened her very soul. To keep the table talk going, she
said: "Tom, it's wonderful the way Kenyon is taking to the violin. He
has a real gift, I believe."

"Yes," answered the husband absently, and then as one who would plunge
ahead, began: "By the by--why don't you have your father and mother and
some of the neighbors over to play cards some evening--and what's the
matter with the Fenns? Henry's kind of down on his luck, and I'll need
him in my next campaign, and I thought if we could have them over some
evening--well, what's the matter with to-morrow evening? They'd enjoy
it. You know Mrs. Fenn--I saw her down town this morning, and George
Brotherton says Henry's slipping back to his old ways. And I just
thought perhaps--"

But she knew as well as he what he "thought perhaps," and a cloud
trailed over her face.

When Thomas Van Dorn left his home that night, striding into the lights
of Market Street, his heart was hot with the glowing coals of an old
wrong revived. For to Judge Van Dorn, home had become a trap, and the
glorious eyes that had beamed upon him in the morning seemed beacons of
liberty.

As gradually those eyes became fixed in his consciousness, through days
and weeks and months, a mounting passion for Margaret Fenn kindled in
his heart. And slowly he went stone-blind mad. The whole of his world
was turned over. Every ambition, every hope, every desire he ever had
known was burned out before this passion that was too deep for desire.
Whatever lust was in his blood in those first months of his madness grew
pale. It seemed to the man who went stalking down the street past her
house night after night that the one great, unselfish passion of his
life was upon him, loosening the roots of his being, so that any
sacrifice he could make, whether of himself or of any one or anything
about him, would give him infinite joy. When he met Henry Fenn, Van Dorn
was always tempted and often yielded to the temptation to rush up to
Fenn with some foolish question that made the sad-eyed man stare and
wonder. But just to be that near to her for the moment pleased him.
There was no jealousy for Fenn in Van Dorn's heart; there was only a
dog-like infatuation that had swept him away from his reason and seated
a fatuous, chattering, impotent, lecherous ape where his intellect
should have been. And he knew he was a fool. He knew that he was stark
mad. Yet what he did not know was that this madness was a culmination,
not a pristine passion new born in his heart. For the maggot in his
brain had eaten out a rotten place wherein was the memory of many
women's yieldings, of many women's tears. One side of his brain worked
with rare cunning. He wound the evidence against the men in the mine,
taken at the coroner's hearing, through the labyrinth of the law, and
snared them tightly in it. That part of his brain clicked with automatic
precision. But sitting beside him was the ape, grinning, leering, ready
to rise and master him. So many a night when he was weary, he lay on the
couch beside his desk, and the ape came and howled him to a troubled
sleep.

But while Judge Van Dorn tried to fight his devil away with his law
book, down in South Harvey death still lingered. Death is no respecter
of persons, and often vaunts himself of his democracy. Yet it is a sham
democracy. In Harvey, when death taps on a door and enters the house, he
brings sorrow. But in South Harvey when he crosses a threshold he brings
sorrow and want. And what a vast difference lies between sorrow, and
sorrow with want. For sometimes the want that death brings is so keen
that it smothers sorrow, and the poor may not mourn without shame--shame
that they feel the self-interest in their sorrow. So when Death entered
a hundred homes in South Harvey that winter day at the beginning of the
new year, with him came hunger, with him came cold, with him came the
harlot's robe and the thief's mask, and the blight of ignorance, and the
denial of democratic opportunity to scores of children. With death that
day as he crossed the dreary, unpainted portals of the poor came horror
that overshadows grief among the poor and makes the boast of the
democracy of death a ruthless irony.



CHAPTER XIX

HEREIN CAPTAIN MORTON FALLS UNDER SUSPICION AND HENRY FENN FALLS FROM
GRACE


On Market Street nearly opposite the Traders' National Bank during the
decades of the eighties and nineties was a smart store front upon which
was fastened a large, black and gold sign bearing the words "The Paris
Millinery Company" and under these words in smaller letters, "Mrs.
Brunhilde Herdicker, Prop." If Mr. George Brotherton and his Amen Corner
might be said to be the clearing house of public opinion in Harvey, the
establishment of Mrs. Brunhilde Herdicker, Prop., might well be said to
be the center of public clamor. For things started in this
establishment--by things one means in general, trouble; variegated of
course as to domestic, financial, social, educational, amatory, and at
times political. Now the women of Harvey and South Harvey and of Greeley
county--and of Hancock and Seymour counties so far as that goes--used
the establishment of "The Paris Millinery Company, Mrs. Brunhilde
Herdicker, Prop.," as a club--a highly democratic club--the only place
this side of the grave, in fact, where women met upon terms of something
like equality.

And in spring when women molt and change their feathers, the
establishment of "Mrs. Brunhilde Herdicker, Prop." at its opening rose
to the dignity of a social institution. It was a kind of folk-mote. Here
at this opening, where there was music and flowers and bonbons, women
assembled en masse. Mrs. Nesbit and Mrs. Fenn, Mrs. Dexter and Violet
Hogan, she that was born Mauling met, if not as sisters at least in what
might be called a great step-sisterhood; and even the silent Lida
Bowman, wife of Dick, came from her fastness and for once in a year met
her old friends who knew her in the town's early days before she went to
South Harvey to share the red pottage of the Sons of Esau!

But her friends had little from Mrs. Bowman more than a smile--a cracked
and weather-beaten smile from a broken woman of nearly forty, who was a
wife at fifteen, a mother at seventeen, and who had borne six children
and buried two in a dozen years.

"There's Violet," ventured Mrs. Bowman to Mrs. Dexter. "I haven't seen
her since her marriage."

To a question Mrs. Bowman replied reluctantly, "Oh--as for Denny Hogan,
he is a good enough man, I guess!"

After a pause, Mrs. Bowman thought it wise to add under the wails of the
orchestra: "Poor Violet--good hearted girl's ever lived; so kind to her
ma; and what with all that talk when she was in Van Dorn's office and
all the talk about the old man Sands and her in the Company store, I
just guess Vi got dead tired of it all and took Denny and run to cover
with him."

Violet Hogan in a black satin,--a cheap black satin, and a black hat--a
cheap black hat with a red rose--a most absurdly cheap red rose in it,
walked about the place picking things over in a rather supercilious way,
and no one noticed her. Mrs. Fenn gave Violet an eyebrow, a beautifully
penciled eyebrow on a white marble forehead, above beaming brown eyes
that were closed just slightly at the moment. And Mrs. Van Dorn who had
kept track of the girl, you may be sure, went over to her and holding
out her hand said: "Congratulations, Violet,--I'm so glad to hear--" But
Mrs. Denny Hogan having an eyebrow to spare as the gift of Mrs. Fenn
passed it on to Mrs. Van Dorn who said, "Oh--" very gently and went to
sit on a settee beside Mrs. Brotherton, the mother of the moon-faced Mr.
Brotherton and Mrs. Ahab Wright, who always seemed to seek the shade.
And then and there, Mrs. Van Dorn had to listen to this solo from Mrs.
Brotherton:

"George says Judge Van Dorn is running for Judge again: really, Laura, I
hope he'll win. George says he will. George says Henry Fenn is the only
trouble Mr. Van Dorn will have, though I don't see as Henry could do
much. Though George says he will. George says Henry is cranky and mean
about the Judge someway and George says Henry is drinking like a fish
this spring and his legs is hollow, he holds so much; though he must
have been joking for I have heard of hollow horn in cattle, but I never
heard of hollow legs, though they are getting lots of new diseases."

By the time Mrs. Brotherton found it necessary to stop for breath, Laura
Van Dorn had regained the color that had dimmed as she heard the
reference to Henry Fenn. And when she met Mrs. Margaret Fenn at a turn
of the aisle, Mrs. Margaret Fenn was the spirit of joy and it seemed
that Mrs. Van Dorn was her long lost sister; so Mrs. Margaret Fenn began
fumbling her over to find the identifying strawberry mark. At least that
is what Mrs. Herdicker, Prop., told Mrs. Nesbit as she sold Mrs. Nesbit
the large one with the brown plume.

Mrs. Herdicker, Prop., made it a rule never to gossip, as every one who
frequented her shop was told, but as between old friends she would say
to Mrs. Nesbit that if ever one woman glued herself to another, and
couldn't be boiled or frozen, or chopped loose, that woman was Maggie
Fenn sticking to Laura Van Dorn. And Mrs. Herdicker, Prop., closed her
mouth significantly, and Mrs. Nesbit pretended with a large obvious,
rather clumsy pretense, that she read no meaning in Mrs. Herdicker's
words. The handsome Miss Morton, with her shoe tops tiptoeing to her
skirts, who was in the shop and out of school for the rush season,
listened hard, but after that they whispered and the handsome Miss
Morton turned her attention to the youngest Miss Morton who was munching
bonbons and opening the door for all of Harvey and South Harvey and the
principalities around about to enter and pass out. After school came the
tired school teachers from the High School, her eldest sister, Emma
Morton, among them, with their books and reports pressed against their
sides. But Margaret Fenn did not see the school teachers, nor even the
fifth Mrs. Sands towed about by her star-eyed stepdaughter Anne, though
Margaret Fenn's eyes were busy. But she was watching the women; she was
looking for something as though to ward it off, always glancing ahead of
her to see where she was going, and who was in her path; always
measuring her woman, always listening under the shriek of the
clarionettes, always quick with a smile--looking for
something--something that she may have felt was upon its way, something
that she dreaded to see. But all the shoulders she hobnobbed with that
day were warm enough--indifferently warm, and that was all she asked. So
she smiled and radiated her fine, animal grace, her feline beauty, her
superfemininity, and was as happy as any woman could be who had arrived
at an important stage of her journey and could see a little way ahead
with some degree of clearness.

Let us look at her as she stands by the door waiting to overhaul Mrs.
Nesbit. A fine figure of a woman, Margaret Fenn makes there--in her late
twenties, with large regular features, big even teeth, clear brown
eyes--not bold at all, yet why do they seem so? Perhaps because she is
so sure and firm and unhesitating. Her skin is soft and fair as a
child's, bespeaking health and good red blood. The good red blood shows
in her lips--red as a wicked flower, red and full and as shameless as a
dream. Taller than Mrs. Nesbit she stands, and her clothes hang to her
in spite of the fullness of the fashion, in most suggestive lines. She
seems to shine out of her clothes a lustrous, shimmering figure, female
rather than feminine, and gorgeous rather than lovely. Margaret Fenn is
in full bloom; not a drooping petal, not a bending stamen, not a wilted
calyx or bruised leaf may be seen about her. She is a perfect flower
whose whole being--like that of a flower at its full--seems eager,
thrilling, burning with anticipation of the perfect fruit.

She puts out her hands--both of her large strong hands, so well-gloved
and well-kept, to Mrs. Nesbit. Surely Mrs. Fenn's smile is not a
make-believe smile; surely that is real pleasure in her voice; surely
that is real joy that lights up her eyes. And why should they not be
real? Is not Mrs. Nesbit the one person in all Harvey that Margaret Fenn
would delight to honor? Is not Mrs. Nesbit the dowager empress of
Harvey, and the social despot of the community? And is not Mrs. Nesbit
smiling at the eldest Miss Morton, she of the Longfellow school, who is
trying on a traveling hat, and explaining that she always wanted a
traveling hat and suit alike so that she could go to the Grand Canyon if
she could ever save up enough money, but she could never seem to afford
it? Moreover is not Mrs. Nesbit in a beneficent frame of mind?

"Well," smiles the eyes and murmurs the voice, and glows the face of the
young woman, and she puts out her hand. "Mrs. Nesbit--so glad I'm sure.
Isn't it lovely here? Mrs. Herdicker is so effective."

"Mrs. Fenn,--" this from the dowager, and the eyebrow that Mrs. Fenn
gave to Mrs. Hogan, and Mrs. Hogan gave to Mrs. Van Dorn and Mrs. Van
Dorn gave to Mrs. Brotherton and Mrs. Brotherton gave to Mrs. Calvin
who, George says, is an old cat, and Mrs. Calvin gave to Mrs. Nesbit for
remarks as to the biennial presence of Mr. Calvin in the barn (repeated
to Mrs. Calvin), the eyebrow having been around the company comes back
to Mrs. Fenn.

After which Mrs. Nesbit moves with what dignity her tonnage will permit
out of the perfumed air, out of the concord of sweet sounds into the
street. Mrs. Fenn, who was looking for it all the afternoon, that thing
she dreaded and anticipated with fear in her heart's heart, found it. It
was exceedingly cold--and also a shoulder of some proportions. And it
chilled the flowing sap of the perfect flower so that the flower
shivered in the breeze made by the closing door, though the youngest
Miss Morton presiding at the door thought it was warm, and Mrs.
Herdicker thought it was warm and Mrs. Violet Hogan said to Mrs. Bowman
as they went through the same door and met the same air: "My land,
Bowman, did you ever see such an oven?" and then as the door closed she
added:

"See old Mag Fenn there? I just heard something about her to-day. I bet
it's true."

Thus the afternoon faded and the women went home to cook their evening
meals, and left Mrs. Herdicker, Prop., with a few late comers--ladies of
no particular character who had no particular men folk to do for, and
who slipped in after the rush to pay four prices for what had been left.
Mrs. Herdicker, Prop., was straightening up the stock and snapping
prices to the girls who were waiting upon the belated customers. She
spent little of her talent upon the sisterhood of the old, old trade,
and contented herself with charging them all she could get, and making
them feel she was obliging them by selling to them at all. It was while
trade sagged in the twilight that Mrs. Jared Thurston, Lizzie Thurston
to be exact, wife of the editor of the South Harvey _Derrick_ came
in. Mrs. Herdicker, Prop., knew her of old. She was in to solicit
advertising, which meant that she was needing a hat and it was a swap
proposition. So Mrs. Herdicker told Mrs. Thurston to write up the
opening and put in a quarter page advertisement beside and send her the
bill, and Mrs. Thurston looked at a hat. No time was wasted on her
either--nor much talent; but as Mrs. Thurston was in a business way
herself, Mrs. Herdicker, Prop., stopped to talk to her a moment as to an
equal--a rare distinction. They sat on a sofa in the alcove that had
sheltered the orchestra behind palms and ferns and Easter lilies, and
chatted of many things--the mines, the new smelter, the new foreman's
wife at the smelter, the likelihood that the Company store in South
Harvey would put in a line of millinery--which Mrs. Herdicker, Prop.,
denied with emphasis, declaring she had an agreement with the old devil
not to put in millinery so long as she deposited at his bank. Mrs.
Herdicker, Prop., had taken the $500 which the Company had offered for
the life of poor Casper and had filed no lawsuit, fearing that a suit
with the Company would hurt her trade. But as a business proposition
both women were interested in the other damage suits pending against the
Company for the mine accident. "What do they say down there about it?"
asked the milliner.

"Well, of course," returned Mrs. Thurston, who was not sure of her
ground and had no desire to talk against the rich and powerful, "they
say that some one ought to pay something. But, of course, Joe Calvin
always wins his suits and the Judge, of course, was the Company's
attorney before he was the Judge--"

"And so the claim agents are signing 'em up for what the Company will
give," cut in the questioner.

"That's about it, Mrs. Herdicker," responded Mrs. Thurston. "Times are
hard, and they take what they can get now, rather than fight for it. And
the most the Company will pay is $400 for a life, and not all are
getting that."

"Tom Van Dorn--he's a smooth one, Lizzie--he's a smooth one." Mrs.
Herdicker, Prop., looked quickly at Mrs. Thurston and got a smile in
reply. That was enough. She continued:

"You'd think he'd know better--wouldn't you?"

"Well, I don't know--it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks," was the
non-committal answer of Mrs. Thurston, still cautious about offending
the powers.

Mrs. Herdicker, Prop., brushed aside formalities. "Yes--stenographers
and hired girls, and biscuit shooters at the Palace and maybe now and
then an excursion across the track; but this is different; this is in
his own class. They were both here this afternoon, and you should have
seen the way she cooed and billed over Laura Van Dorn. Honest, Lizzie,
if I'd never heard a word, I'd know something was wrong. And you should
have seen old lady Nesbit give her the come-uppins."

Mrs. Herdicker, Prop., dropped her voice to a confidential tone.
"Lizzie?" a pause; "They say you've seen 'em together."

The thought of the quarter page advertisement overcame whatever scruples
Mrs. Thurston may have had, and so long as she had the center of the
stage she said her lines: "Why I don't know a single thing--only this:
that for--maybe a month or so every few days along about five or six
o'clock when the roads are good I've seen him coming one way on his
wheel, and go down in the country on the Adams road, and about ten
minutes later from another way she'd come riding along on her wheel and
go down the Adams road into the country following him. Then in an hour
or so, they come back, sometimes one of them first--sometimes the other,
but I've really never seen them together. She might be going to the
Adamses; she boarded there once years ago."

"Yes,--and she hates 'em!" snapped Mrs. Herdicker derisively, and then
added, "Well, it's none of my business so long as they pay for their
hats."

"Well, my land, Mrs. Herdicker," quoth Lizzie, "it's a comfort to hear
some one talk sense. For two months now we've been hearing nothing but
that fool Adams boy's crazy talk about unions, and men organizing to
help their fellows, and--why did you know he's quit his job as boss
carpenter in the mine? And for why--so that he can be a witness against
the company some say; though there won't be any trial. Tom Van Dorn will
see to that. He's sent word to the men that they'd better settle as the
law is against them. But that Grant Adams quit his job any way and is
going about holding meetings every night, and working on construction
work above ground by day and talking union, union, union till Jared and
I are sick of it. I tell you the man's gone daft. But a lot of the men
are following him, I guess."

Being a methodical woman Mrs. Herdicker, Prop., wrote the copy for her
advertisement and let Mrs. Thurston go in peace. She went into the
gathering twilight, and hurried to do a few errands before returning to
South Harvey.

At the court house Mrs. Thursston met Henry Fenn coming out of the
register of deeds office where he had been filing a deed to some
property he had sold, and at Mr. Brotherton's Amen Corner, she saw Tom
Van Dorn smoking upon the bench. The street was filled with bicycles,
for that was a time when the bicycle was a highly respectable vehicle of
business and pleasure. Mrs. Thurston left Market Street and a dozen
wheels passed her. As she turned into her street to South Harvey a bell
tinkled. She looked around and saw Margaret Fenn making rapidly for the
highway. Mrs. Thurston was human; she waited! And in five minutes Tom
Van Dorn came by and went in the same direction!

An hour later Margaret Fenn came pedaling into the town from the country
road, all smiling and breathless and red lipped, and full of color. As
she turned into her own street she met her husband, immaculately
dressed. He bowed with great punctiliousness and lifting his hat high
from his head smiled a search-light of a smile that frightened his wife.
But he spoke no word to her. Five minutes later, as Tom Van Dorn wheeled
out of Market Street, he also saw Henry Fenn, standing in the middle of
the crossing leering at him and laughing a drunken, foolish, noisy
laugh. Van Dorn called back but Fenn did not reply, and the Judge saw
nothing in the figure but his drunken friend standing in the middle of
the street laughing.



CHAPTER XX

IN WHICH HENRY FENN FALLS FROM GRACE AND RISES AGAIN


This chapter must devote itself chiefly to a bargain. In the bargain,
Judge Thomas Van Dorn is party of the first part, and Margaret Fenn,
wife of Henry Fenn, is party of the second part, and the devil is the
broker.

Tom Van Dorn laid hungry eyes upon Margaret Fenn; Margaret Fenn looked
ravenously upon all that Van Dorn had; his talent, his position, his
worldly goods, estates and chattels. He wanted what she had. He had what
she wanted, and by way of commission in negotiating the bargain, the
devil took two souls--not such large souls so far as that goes; but
still the devil seems to have been the only one in the transaction who
profited.

June came--June and the soft night wind, and the warm stars; June with
its new, deep foliage and its fragrant grass and trees and flowers; June
with a mocking bird singing through the night to its brooding mate; June
came with its poets leaning out of windows into the night hearing love
songs in the rhythmic whisper of lagging feet strolling under the shade
of elms. And under cover of a June night, breathing in the sensuous
meaning of the time like a charmed potion, Judge Van Dorn, who
personated justice to twenty-five thousand people, went forth a
slinking, cringing beast to woo!

Here and there a lamp blinked through the foliage. The footfalls of late
homecomers were heard a long way off; the voices of singers--a
serenading party out baying at the night--was heard as the breeze
carried the music upon its sluggish ebb and flow. To avoid belated
homecomers, Judge Van Dorn crossed the street; the clanging electric
car did not find him with its search-light, though he felt shielded by
its roar as he stepped over the iron railing about the Fenn home and
came softly across the lawn upon the grass.

On the verandah, hidden by summer vines, he sat a moment alone, panting,
breathless, though he had come up but four steps, and had mounted them
gently. A rustle of woman's garments, the creaking of a screen door, the
perfume that he loved, and then she stood before him--and the next
moment he had her in his arms. For a minute she surrendered without
struggling, without protest, and for the first time their lips met. Then
she warded him off.

"No--no, Tom. You sit there--I'll have this swing," and she slipped into
a porch swing and finally he sat down.

"Now, Tom," she said, "I have given you everything to-night. I am
entirely at your mercy; I want you to be as good to me as I have been to
you."

"But, Margaret," he protested, "is this being good to me, to keep me a
prisoner in this chair while you--"

"Tom," she answered, "there is no one in the house. I've just called
Henry up by long distance telephone at the Secretary of State's office
in the capitol building. I've called him up every hour since he got
there this afternoon, to make him remember his promise to me. He hasn't
taken a thing on this trip--I'm sure; I can tell by his voice, for one
thing." The man started to speak. She stopped him: "Now listen, Tom.
He'll have that charter for the Captain's company within half an hour
and will start home on the midnight train. That will give us just an
hour together--all alone, Tom, undisturbed."

She stopped and he sprang toward her, but she fended him off, and gave
him a pained look and went on as he sank moaning into his chair: "Tom,
dear, how should we spend the first whole hour we have ever had in our
lives alone together? I have read and re-read your beautiful letters,
dear. Oh, I know some of them by heart. I am yours, Tom--all yours. Now,
dear," he made a motion to rise, "come here by my chair, I want to touch
you. But--that's all."

They sat close together, and the woman went on: "There are so many
things I want to say, Tom, to-night. I wonder if I can think of any of
them. It is all so beautiful. Isn't it?" she asked softly, and felt his
answer in every nerve in his body, though his lips did not speak. It was
the woman who broke the silence. "Time is slipping by, Tom. I know
what's in your mind, and you know what's in mine. Where will this thing
end? It can't go on this way. It must end now, to-night--this very
night, Tom, dear, or we must know where we are coming out. Do you
understand?"

"Yes, Margaret," replied the man. He gripped his arm about her, and
continued passionately, "And I'm ready." In a long minute of ecstasy
they were dumb. He went on, "You have good cause--lots of cause--every
one knows that. But I--I'll make it somehow--Oh, I can make it." He set
his teeth fiercely, and repeated, "Oh, I'll make it, Margaret."

The night sounds filled their deaf ears, and the pressure of their
hands--all so new and strange--filled them with joy, but the joy was
shattered by a step upon the sidewalk, and until it died away they were
breathless. Then they sat closer together and the woman whispered:

    "'And I'd turn my back upon things eternal
    To lie on your breast a little while.'"

A noise in the house, perhaps of the cat moving through the room behind
them, startled them again. The man shook and the woman held her breath;
then they both smiled. "Tom--Tom--don't you see how guilty we are? We
mustn't repeat this; this is our hour, but we must understand each other
here and now." The man did not reply. He who had taken recklessly and
ruthlessly all of his life had come to a place where he must give to
take. His fortunes were tied up in his answer, so he replied: "Margaret,
you know the situation--down town?"

"The judgeship?" she asked.

"Yes."

"But that will be settled in November. After that is time enough. Oh,
eternity is time enough, Tom--I can wait and wait and wait--only if it
is to be for eternity, we must not reckon with it now."

"Oh, Margaret, Margaret, Margaret--my soul's soul--I want you. I know no
peace but to look into your eyes; I know no heaven but your smile--no
God but your possession, no hell but--but--this!" He pressed her hand to
his lips and moaned a kind of human bellow of unrequited love--some long
suppressed man's courting note that we had in the forest, and he grasped
her in a flood of passionate longing. She slipped away from him and
stood up before him and said: "No,--No, no, my dear--my dear--I love
you--Oh, I do love you, Tom--but don't--don't."

He started after her but she pushed him back with her powerful arms and
held him. "Tom, don't touch me. Tom," she panted, "Tom." Her big
meaningful eyes met his and she held him for a moment silent. He stepped
back and she smiled and kissed his forehead when he had dropped into a
chair.

"Now, Tom, time is slipping by. It's nearly midnight. We've got to talk
sensibly and calmly. Sit here by me and be as sane as you can. We know
we love one another. That's been said and resaid; that's settled. Now
shall I first break for liberty--or will you? That must all be settled
too. We can't just let things drift. I'm twenty-seven. You're
thirty-five. Life is passing. Now when?"

They shrank before the light of a street car rounding the corner, that
gleamed into their retreat. When it had gone, the man bowed his fine,
proud, handsome head, and spoke with his eyes upon the ground:

"You go first--you have the best cause!" She looked upon his cowardly,
sloping shoulders, and thought a moment. It was the tigress behind the
flame who stooped over him, pondering, feeling her way through events
that she had been going over and over in her imagination for weeks. The
feline caution that guided her, told her, as it had always told her,
that his letters were enough to damn him, but maybe not enough to hold
him. She was not sure of men. Their standards might not be severe enough
to punish him; he, knowing this, might escape. All this--this old query
without answer went hurrying through her mind. But she was young; the
spirit of adventure was in her. Henry Fenn, weak, vacillating,
chivalrous, adoring Henry Fenn, had not conquered her; and the fire in
her blood, and the ambition in her brain, came over her as a spell. She
slipped to her knees, putting her head upon her lover's breast, and
cried passionately in a guttural murmur--"Yes, I'll go first, Tom--now,
for God's sake, kiss me--kiss me and run." Then she sprang up: "Now,
go--go--go, Tom--run before I take it back. Don't touch me again," she
cried. "Go."

She slipped back into the door, then turned and caught him again and
they stood for a terrible moment together. She whirled into the house,
clicked the door after her and left him standing a-tremble, gaping and
mad in the night. But she knew her strength, and knew his weakness and
was not afraid.

She let him moan a wordless lovesong, very low and terrible in the night
alone before the door, and did not answer. Then she saw him go softly
down the steps, look up and down the street, move guiltily across the
yard, hiding behind a bush at a distant footfall, and slip slowly into
the sidewalk and go hurrying away from the house. In half an hour she
was waiting for Henry Fenn as a cat might wait at a rat hole.

The next day little boys followed Henry Fenn about the streets laughing;
Henry Fenn, drunken and debased, whose heart was bleeding. It was late
in the afternoon when he appeared in the Amen Corner. His shooting stars
were all exploded from their rocket and he was fading into the charred
papier-mâche of the reaction that comes from over exhilaration. So he
sat on the walnut bench, back of the newspaper counter with his hands on
his knees and his eyes staring at the floor while traffic flowed through
the establishment oblivious to his presence. Mr. Brotherton watched Fenn
but did not try to make him talk. There came a time when trade was slack
that Fenn looked for a minute fixedly at Mr. Brotherton, and finally
said, shaking his head sadly:

"She says I've got to quit!" A pause and another sigh, then: "She says
if I ever get drunk again, she'll quit me like a dog." Another
inspection of the floor; more lugubrious head-shaking followed, after
which the eyes closed and the dead voice spoke:

"Well, here's her chance. Say, George," he tried to smile, but the light
only flickered in his leaden eyes. "I guess I'm orey-eyed enough now to
furnish a correct imitation of a gentleman in his cups?"

Fenn got up, took Brotherton back among the books at the rear of the
store. The drunken man took from his pocket a fountain pen incased in a
silver mounting. He held the silver trinket up and said:

"Damn his soul to hell!"

"Let me see it--whose is it, Henry?" asked Brotherton. Fenn answered,
"That's my business." He paused; then added "and his business." Another
undecided moment, and then Fenn concluded: "And none of your business."

Suddenly he took his hands off the big man, and said, "I'm going home.
If she means business, here's her chance."

Brotherton tried to stop him, but Fenn was insistent. Customers were
coming in, and so Brotherton let the man go. But all the evening he was
worried about his friend. Absentmindedly he went over his stock,
straightening up _Puck_ and _Judge_ and _Truth_ and
_Life_, and putting the magazines in their places, sorting the new
books into their shelf, putting the standard pirated editions of English
authors in their proper place and squaring up the long rows of "The
Bonnie Brier Bush" and "A Hazard of New Fortunes" where they would catch
the buyers' eyes upon the counter, in freshly jostled ranks, even and
inviting, after the day's havoc in Harvey's literary circles. But always
Fenn's face was in Brotherton's mind. The chatter of the evening passed
without Brotherton realizing what it was all about. As for instance,
between Grant Adams and Captain Morton over a sprocket which the Captain
had invented and Henry Fenn had patented for the Captain. Grant on the
other hand kept trying to tell the Captain about his unions organizing
in the Valley, and neither was interested in what the other said, yet
each was bursting with the importance of what he was saying. But even
that comic dialogue could not take Mr. Brotherton's mind from the search
of the sinister connection it was trying to discover, between the
fountain pen and Henry Fenn.

So Brotherton, worried with the affairs of Fenn, was not interested and
the Captain peddled his dream in other marts. With Fenn's ugly face on
his mind, Brotherton saw young Judge Van Dorn swing in lightly, go
through his daily pantomime, all so smoothly, so well oiled, so polished
and polite, so courtly and affable, that for the moment Brotherton laid
aside his fears and abandoned his suspicions. Then Van Dorn, after
playing with his cigar, went to the stationery counter and remarked
casually, "By the by, George, do you keep fountain pens?"

Mr. Brotherton kept fountain pens, and Judge Van Dorn said: "There--that
one over by the ink eraser--yes, that one--the one in the silver
casing--I seem to have mislaid mine. Yale men gave it to me at the
reunion in '91, as president of the class--had my initials on it--ten
years--yes," he looked at the pen offered by the store keeper. "That
will do." Mr. Brotherton watched the Judge as he put the pen in his vest
pocket, after it had been filled.

The Judge picked up a Chicago paper, stowed it away with "Anglo-Saxon
Supremacy" in his green bag. Then he swung gracefully out of the shop
and left Mr. Brotherton wondering where and how Henry Fenn got that pen,
and why he did not return it to its owner.

The air of mystery and malice--two unusual atmospheres for Henry Fenn to
breathe--which he had put around the pen, impressed his friend with the
importance of the thing.

"A mighty smooth proposition," said Grant Adams, sitting in the Amen
Corner reading "A Hazard of New Fortunes," when Van Dorn had gone.

"Well, say, Grant," returned Mr. Brotherton, pondering on the subject of
the lost pen. "Sometimes I think Tom is just a little too oleaginous--a
little too oleaginous," repeated Mr. Brotherton, pleased with his big
word.

That June night Henry Fenn passed from Congress Street and walked with a
steady purpose manifest in his clicking heels. It was not a night's bat
that guided his feet, no festive orgy, but the hard, firm footfall of a
man who has been drunk a long time--terribly mean drunk. And terribly
mean drunk he was. His eyes were blazing, and he mumbled as he walked.
Down Market Street he turned and strode to the corner where the Traders'
National Bank sign shone under the electrics. He looked up, saw a light
burning in the office above, and suddenly changed his gait to a tip-toe.
Up the stairs he crept to a door, under which a light was gleaming. He
got a firm hold of the knob, then turned it quickly, thrust open the
door and stepped quietly into the room. He grinned meanly at Tom Van
Dorn who, glancing up over his shoulder from his book, saw the white
face of Fenn leering at him. Van Dorn knew that this was the time when
he must use all the wits he had.

"Why, hello--Henry--hello," said Van Dorn cheerfully. He coughed, in an
attempt to swallow the saliva that came rushing into his mouth. Fenn did
not answer, but stood and then began to walk around Van Dorn's desk,
eyeing him with glowing-red eyes as he walked. Van Dorn tipped back his
chair easily, put his feet on the desk before him, and spoke, "Sit down,
Henry--make yourself at home." He cleared his throat nervously.
"Anything gone wrong, Henry?" he asked as the man stood over him glaring
at him.

"No," replied Fenn. "No, nothing's gone wrong. I've just got some
exhibits here in a law suit. That's all."

He stood over Van Dorn, peering steadfastly at him. First he laid down a
torn letter. Van Dorn shuddered almost imperceptibly as he recognized in
the crumpled, wrenched paper his writing, but smiled suavely and said,
"Well?"

"Well," croaked Fenn passionately. "That's exhibit 'A'. I had to fight a
hell-cat for it; and this," he added as he lay down the silver-mounted
pen, "this is exhibit 'B'. I found that in the porch swing this morning
when I went out to get my drink hidden under the house." He cackled and
Van Dorn's Adam's apple bobbed like a cork upon a wave.

"And this," cried Fenn, as he pulled a revolver, "God damn you, is
exhibit 'C'. Now, don't you budge, or I'll blow you to hell--and," he
added, "I guess I'll do it anyway."

He stood with the revolver at Van Dorn's temple--stood over his victim
growling like a raging beast. His finger trembled upon the trigger, and
he laughed. "So you were going to have a convenient, inexpensive lady
friend, were you, Tom!" Fenn cuffed the powerless man's jaw with an open
hand.

"Private snap?" he sneered. "Well, damn your soul--here's a lady friend
of mine," he poked the cold barrel harder against the trembling man's
temple and cried: "Don't wiggle, don't you move." Then he went on: "Kiss
her, you damned egg-sucking pup--when you've done flirting with this,
I'm going to kill you."

He emphasized the "you," and prodded the man's face with the barrel.

"Henry," whispered Van Dorn, "Henry, for God's sake, let me talk--give
me a show, won't you?"

Fenn moved the barrel of the revolver over between the man's eyes and
cried passionately: "Oh, yes, I'll give you a show, Tom--the same show
you gave me."

He shifted the revolver suddenly and pulled the trigger; the bullet
bored a hole through the book on "Anglo-Saxon Supremacy" on the desk.

Fenn drew in a deep breath. With the shot he had spilled some vial of
wrath within him, though Van Dorn could not see the change that was
creeping into Fenn's haggard face.

"You see she'll shoot, Tom," said Fenn.

Holding the smoking revolver to the man's head, Fenn reached for a chair
and sat down. His rage was ebbing, and his mind was clear. He withdrew
the weapon a few inches, and cried:

"Don't you budge an inch."

His hand was limp and shaking, but Van Dorn could not see it. "Tom,
Tom," he cried. "God help me--help me." He repeated twice the word "me,"
then he went on:

"For being what I am--only what I am--" he emphasized the "I."

"For giving in to your devil as I give into mine--for falling as I have
fallen--on another road--I was going to kill you."

The revolver slipped from his hands. He picked it up by the barrel. He
rose crying in a weak voice,

"Oh, Tom, Tom, Tom," Van Dorn was lifting up in his chair, "Tom, Tom,
God help us both poor, hell-cursed men," sobbed Fenn, and then with a
fearful blow he brought the weapon down and struck the white, false
forehead that gleamed beneath Fenn's wet face.

He stood watching the man shudder and close his eyes, watching the blood
seep out along a crooked seam, then gush over the face and fine, black
hair and silken mustache. A bloody flood streamed there while he
watched. Then Fenn wiped dry the butt of his revolver. He felt of the
gash in the forehead, and found that the bone was not crushed. He was
sober, and an unnatural calm was upon his brain. He could feel the tears
in his eyes. He stood looking at the face of the unconscious man a long,
dreadful minute as one who pities rather than hates a foe. Then he
stepped to the telephone, called Dr. Nesbit, glanced at the fountain pen
and the crumpled letter, burst into a spasm of weeping, and tiptoed out
of the room.



CHAPTER XXI

IN WHICH WE SEE A FAT LITTLE RASCAL ON THE RACK


A year and a month and a day, an exceedingly hot day, after Judge Thomas
Van Dorn had fallen upon the stair leading to his office and had cut
that gash in his forehead which left the white thread of a scar upon his
high, broad brow, Judge Van Dorn sat in chambers in his office in the
court house, hearing an unimportant matter. Because the day was hot, the
Judge wore a gray silk coat, without a vest, and because the matter was
unimportant, no newspaper reporters were called in. The matter in hand
was highly informal. The Judge, tilted back in his easy chair, toyed
with his silken mustache, while counsel for defendant, standing by the
desk before which the Judge's chair was swinging, handled the papers
representing the defendant's answer, to the plaintiff's pleadings. The
plaintiff herself, dressed in rather higher sleeves than would have been
thought possible to put upon a human form and make them stand erect,
with a rather larger hat than one would have said might be carried by a
single human neck without bowing it; the plaintiff above mentioned was
rattling the court's paper knife.

Plaintiff's counsel, a callow youth from the law offices of Joseph
Calvin, to be exact, Joseph Calvin, Jr., sat meekly on the edge of a
small chair in the corner and being a chip of the old block, had little
to say. The court and said hereinbefore described plaintiff talked
freely between whiles as the counsel for said defendant, Henry Fenn, ran
over his papers, looking for particular phrases, statements or exhibits
which he desired to present to the court.

It appeared from the desultory reading of the papers by the attorney for
the said defendant, Henry Fenn, that he had no desire to impose upon the
plaintiff, as above described, any hardships in the matter and that the
agreement reached by counsel as to the disposition of the joint property
should be carried out as indicated in the answer submitted to the
court--see folio No. 3. Though counsel for defendant smilingly told the
court that if the counsel were Henry Fenn, he should not give up
property worth at least five thousand dollars in consideration of the
cause of action being made cruelty and inhuman treatment rather than
drunkenness, but, as counsel explained and as the court agreed when a
man gets to going by the booze route he hasn't much sense--referring, of
course, to said defendant, Henry Fenn, not present in person.

When counsel for the said defendant had finished, and had put all his
papers upon the desk in front of the court, the court reached into his
desk, and handed the counsel for defendant a cigar, which with proper
apologies to the hereinabove and before described plaintiff, counsel
lighted, and said:

"That's certainly a good one."

But as the court was writing upon the back of one of the papers, the
court did not respond for a moment, but finally said absently,
"Yes,--glad you think so; George Brotherton imports them for me."

And went on writing. Still writing the court said without looking up, "I
don't know of anything else."

And the counsel for defendant said he didn't either and putting on his
hat, smiling at the plaintiff aforesaid, counsel for said defendant
Henry Fenn departed, and after a minute the court ceased writing, folded
and blotted the back of the paper, handed it to young Joe Calvin,
sitting meekly on the edge of the chair, saying: "Here Joey, take this
to the clerk and file it," and Joey got up from the edge of the chair
and vanished, closing the door behind him.

"Well?" said the plaintiff.

"Well?" echoed the court.

"Well," reiterated the plaintiff, gazing into the eyes of the court with
somewhat more eagerness than the law requires under statute therefore
made and provided.

"So it's all over," she continued, and added: "My part."

She rose--this plaintiff hereinbefore mentioned, came to the desk, stood
over him a moment, and said softly, much more softly than the code
prescribes, "Tom--I hope yours won't be any harder."

Whereupon the court, then and there being as herein above set forth, did
with premeditation, and much show of emotion look up into the eyes of
said plaintiff, said eyes being tear-dimmed and extraordinarily
beautiful as to their coloring to-wit: brown, as to their expression
to-wit: sad and full of love, and furthermore the court did with
deliberation and after for a moment while he held the heavy bejeweled
hand of said plaintiff above mentioned, and did press said hand to his
lips and then did draw the said plaintiff closer and whisper:

"God--God, Margaret, so do I hope so--so do I."

And perhaps the court for a second thought of a little blue-eyed,
fair-haired girl and a gentle woman who lived for him alone in all the
world, and perhaps not; for this being a legal paper may set down only
such matters as are of evidence. But it is witnessed and may be
certified to that the court did drop his eyes for a second or two, that
the white thread of a scar upon the forehead of the court did redden for
a moment while he held the heavy bejewelled hand of plaintiff,
hereinbefore mentioned, and that he did draw a deep breath, and did look
out of the window, set high up in the court house, and that he did see
the elm trees covering a home which, despite all his perfidy and neglect
was full of love for him--love that needed no high sleeves nor great
plumy hats, nor twinkling silver bangles, nor jangling gold chatelaines,
to make it beautiful. But let us make it of record and set it down here,
in this instrument that the court rose, looked into the great brown eyes
and the fair face, and seeing the rich, shameless mouth and blazing
color upon the features, did then and there fall down in his heart and
worship that mask, and did take the hand that he held in both of his and
standing before the woman did cry in a deep voice, full of agony:

"For God's sake, Margaret, let me come to you now--soon." And she--the
plaintiff in this action gazed at the man who had been the court, but
who now was man, and replied:

"Only when you may honestly--legally, Tom--it's best for both of us."

They walked to the door. The court pressed a button as she left,
smiling, and when a man appeared with a note book the court said: "I
have something to dictate," and the next day young Joseph Calvin handed
the following news item to the _Harvey Times_ and to the _South
Harvey Derrick_.

"A divorce was granted to-day by Judge Thomas Van Dorn of the district
court in chambers to Mrs. Margaret Müller Fenn, from Henry Fenn. Charges
of cruel and inhuman treatment filed by the attorneys for Mrs. Fenn were
not met by Mr. Fenn and the court granted the decree and it was made
absolute. It is understood that a satisfactory settlement of the joint
property has been made. Mrs. Fenn will continue to hold the position she
has held during the year past as chief clerk in the office of the
superintendent of the Harvey Improvement Company. Mr. Fenn is former
county attorney and is now engaged in the insurance business, having
sold his real estate business to Joseph Calvin this morning."

And thus the decree of divorce between Henry Fenn and Margaret, his
wife, whom God had joined together, was made absolute, and further
deponent sayeth not.

But the town of Harvey had more or less to say about the divorce and
what the town said, more or less concerned Judge Thomas Van Dorn. For
although Henry Fenn sober would not speak of the divorce, Henry Fenn
drunk, babbled many quotations about the "rare and radiant maiden, who
was lost forever more." He was also wont to quote the line about the
lover who held his mistress "something better than his dog, a little
dearer than his horse."

As for the Judge, his sensitive mind felt the disapproval of the
community. But the fighting blood in him was roused, and he fought a
braver fight than the cause justified. That summer he went to all the
farmers' picnics in his district, spoke wherever he was invited to
speak, and spoke well; whatever charm he had he called to his aid. When
the French of South Harvey celebrated the Fall of the Bastille, Judge
Van Dorn spoke most beautifully of liberty, and led off when they sung
the _Marseillaise_; on Labor Day he was the orator of the occasion,
and made a great impression among the workers by his remarks upon the
dignity of labor. He quoted Carlyle and Ruskin and William Morris, and
wept when he told them how the mob had crucified the Carpenter, who was
labor's first prophet.

But one may say this for Judge Van Dorn: that with all his desire for
the approval of his fellows, even in South Harvey, even at the meetings
of men who he knew differed with him, he did not flinch from attacking
on every occasion and with all his eloquence the unions that Grant Adams
was promoting. The idea of mutual help upon which they rested seemed to
make Van Dorn see red, and he was forever going out of his way to combat
the idea. So bitter was his antagonism to the union idea that in the
Valley he and Grant Adams became dramatized in the minds of the men as
opponents.

But in Harvey, where men regarded Grant Adams's activities with tolerant
indifference and his high talk of bettering industrial conditions as the
madness of youth, Judge Van Dorn was the town's particular idol.

A handsome man he was as he stood out in the open under the bower made
by the trees, and with the grace and charm of true oratory, spoke in his
natural voice--a soft, penetrating treble that reached to the furthest
man in the crowd; tall, well-built, oval-faced, commanding--a judge
every inch of him, even if a young judge--was Tom Van Dorn. And when he
had finished speaking at the Harvest Home Picnic, or at the laying of
the corner stone of the new Masonic Temple, or at the opening of the
Grant County fair, men said:

"Well, I know they say Tom Van Dorn is no Joseph, but all the same I'm
here to tell you--" and what they were there to tell you would
discourage ladies and gentlemen who believe that material punishments
always follow either material or spiritual transgressions.

So the autumn wore into winter, and the State Bar Association promoted
Judge Van Dorn; he appeared as president of that dignified body, and
thereby added to his prestige at home. He appeared regularly at church
with Mrs. Van Dorn--going the rounds of the churches punctiliously--and
gave liberally when a subscription paper for any cause was presented.
But for all this, he kept hearing the bees of gossip buzzing about him,
and often felt their sting.

Day after day, through it all he never slept until in some way, by some
device, through some trumped up excuse that seemed plausible enough in
itself, he had managed to see and speak to Margaret Fenn. Whether in her
office in the Light, Heat & Power Company's building upon a business
errand, and he made plenty of such, or upon the street, or in the court
house, where she often went upon some business of her chief, or walking
home at evening, or coming down in the morning, or upon rare occasions
meeting her clandestinely for a moment, or whether at some social
function where they were both present--and it of necessity had to be a
large function in that event--for the town could register its
disapproval of the woman more easily than it could put its opprobrium
upon the man; or whether he spoke to her just a word from the sidewalk
as he passed her home, always he managed to see her. Always he had one
look into her eyes, and so during all the day, she was in his thoughts.
It seems strange that a man of great talents could keep the machinery of
his mind going and still have an ever present consciousness of a guilty
intrigue. Yet there it was. Until he had seen her and spoken to her, it
was his day's important problem to devise some way to bring about the
meeting. So with devilish caution and ponderous circumlocution and craft
he went about his daily work, serene in the satisfaction that he was
being successful in his elaborate deceit; rather gloating at times in
the iniquity of one in his position being in so low a business. He
wondered what the people would say if they really knew the depths of his
infamy, and when he sentenced a poor devil for some minor crime, he
would often watch himself as a third party and wonder if he would ever
stand up and take his sentence. But he had no fear of that. The little
drama between Judge Van Dorn, the prisoner at the bar, and the lover of
Margaret Fenn, was for his diversion, rather than for his instruction,
and he enjoyed it as an artistic travesty upon the justice he was
dispensing.

Thomas Van Dorn believed that the world was full of a number of
exceedingly pleasant things that might be had for the taking, and no
questions asked. So when he felt the bee sting of gossip, he threw back
his head, squared his face to the wind, put an extra kink of elegance
into his raiment, a tighter crimp into his smile and an added ardor into
his hale greeting, did some indispensable judicial favor to the old
spider of commerce back of the brass sign at the Traders National,
defied the town, and bade it watch him fool it. But the men who drove
the express wagons knew that whenever they saw Judge Van Dorn take the
train for the capital they would be sure to have a package from the
capital the next day for Mrs. Fenn; sometimes it would be a milliner's
box, sometimes a jeweler's, sometimes a florist's, sometimes a dry-goods
merchant's, and always a candy maker's.

At last the whole wretched intrigue dramatized itself in one culminating
episode. It came in the spring. Dr. Nesbit had put on his white linens
just as the trees were in their first gayety of foliage and the spring
blooming flowers were at their loveliest.

After a morning in the dirt and grime and misery and injustice and
wickedness that made the outer skin over South Harvey and Foley and
Magnus and the mining and smelter towns of the valley, the Doctor came
driving into the cool beauty of Quality Hill in Harvey with a middle
aged man's sense of relief. South Harvey and its neighbors disheartened
him.

He had seen Grant Adams, a man of the Doctor's own caste by birth,
hurrying into a smelter on some organization errand out of overalls in
his cheap, ill-fitting clothes, begrimed, heavy featured, dogged and
rapidly becoming a part of the industrial dregs. Grant Adams in the
smelter, preoccupied with the affairs of that world, and passing
definitely into it forever, seemed to the Doctor symbolic of the passing
of the America he understood (and loved), into an America that
discouraged him. But the beauty and the calm and the restful
elm-bordered lawns of Harvey always toned up his spirits. Here, he said
to himself was the thing he had helped to create. Here was the town he
had founded and cherished. Here were the people whom he really
loved--old neighbors, old friends, dear in associations and sweet in
memories.

It was in a cherubic complaisance with the whole scheme of the universe
that the white-clad Doctor jogged up Elm Street behind his maternal
sorrel in the phaëton, to get his noon day meal. He passed the Van Dorn
home. Its beauty fitted into this mood and beckoned to him. For the
whole joy of spring bloomed in flower and shrub and vine that bordered
the house and clambered over the wide hospitable porch. The gay color of
the spring made the house glow like a jewel. The wide lawn--the stately
trees, the gorgeous flowers called to his heart, and seeing his daughter
upon the piazza, the Doctor surrendered, drew up, tied the horse and
came toddling along the walk to the broad stone steps, waving his hands
gayly to her as he came. Little Lila, coming home from kindergarten and
bleating through the house lamb-wise: "I'm hungry," saw her grandfather,
and ran down the steps to meet him, forgetting her pangs.

He lifted her high to his shoulder, and came up the porch steps
laughing: "Here come jest and youthful jollity, my dear," and stooping
with his grandchild in his arms, kissed the beautiful woman before him.

"Some one is mighty sweet this morning," and then seeing a package
beside her asked: "What's this--" looking at the address and the
sender's name. "Some one been getting a new dress?"

The child pulling at her mother's skirts renewed her bleat for food.
When Lila had been disposed of Laura sat by her father, took his fat,
pudgy hand and said:

"Father, I don't know what to do; do you mind talking some things over
with me. I suppose I should have been to see you anyway in a few days.
Have we time to go clear to the bottom of things now?"

She looked up at him with a serious, troubled face, and patted his hand.
He felt instinctively the shadow that was on her heart, and his face may
have winced. She saw or knew without seeing, the tremor in his soul.

"Poor father--but you know it must come sometime. Let us talk it all out
now."

He nodded his head. He did not trust his voice.

"Well, father dear," she said slowly. She nodded at the package--a long
dress box beside the porch post.

"That was sent to Margaret Fenn. It came here by mistake--addressed to
me. There were some express charges on it. I thought it was for me; I
thought Tom had bought it for me yesterday, when he was at the capital,
so I opened it. There is a dress pattern in it--yellow and black--colors
I never could wear, and Tom has an exquisite eye for those things, and
also there is a pair of silk stockings to match. On the memoranda pinned
on these, they are billed to Mrs. Fenn, but all charged to Tom. I hadn't
opened it when I sent the expressman to Tom's office for the express
charges, but when he finds the package has been delivered here--we shall
have it squarely before us." The daughter did not turn her eyes to her
father as she went on after a little sigh that seemed like a catch in
her side:

"So there we are."

The Doctor patted his foot in silence, then replied:

"My poor, poor child--my poor little girl," and added with a heavy sigh:
"And poor Tom--Laura--poor, foolish, devil-ridden Tom." She assented
with her eyes. At the end of a pause she said with anguish in her voice:

"And when we began it was all so beautiful--so beautiful--so wonderful.
Of course I've known for a long time--ever since before Lila came that
it was slipping. Oh, father--I've known; I've seen every little giving
of the tie that bound us, and in my heart deep down, I've known
all--all--everything--all the whole awful truth--even if I have not had
the facts as you've had them--you and mother--I suppose."

"You're my fine, brave girl," cried her father, patting her trembling
hand. But he could speak no further.

"Oh, no, I'm not brave--I'm not brave," she answered. "I'm a coward. I
have sat by and watched it all slip away, watched him getting further
and further from me, saw my hold slipping--slipping--slipping, and saw
him getting restless. I've seen one awful--" she paused, shuddered, and
cried, "Oh, you know, father, that other dreadful affair. I saw that
rise, burn itself out and then this one--" she turned away and her body
shook.

In a minute she was herself: "I'm foolish I suppose, but I've never
talked it out before. I won't do it again. I'm all right now." She took
his hands and continued:

"Now, then, tell me--is there any way out? What shall we do to be
saved--Tom and Lila and I?" She hesitated. "I'm afraid--Oh, I know, I
know I don't love Tom any more. How could I--how could I? But some way I
want to mother him. I don't want to see him get clear down. I know this
woman. I know what she means. Let me tell you, father. For two years
she's been playing with Tom like a cat. I knew it when she began. I
can't say how I knew it; but I felt it--felt it reflected in his moods,
saw him nervous and feverish. She's been torturing him, father--she's
strong. Also she's--she's hard. Tom hasn't--well, I mean she's always
kept the upper hand. I know that in my soul. And he's stark, raving mad
somewhere within him." A storm of emotion shook her and then she cried
passionately, "And, oh, father, I want to rescue him--not for myself.
Oh, I don't love him any more. That's all gone. At least not in the old
way, I don't, but he's so sensitive--so easy to hurt. And she's slowly
burning him alive. It's awful."

The little pink face of the Doctor began to harden. His big blue eyes
began to look through narrow slits in his eyelids, and the pudgy,
white-clad figure stood erect. The daughter's voice broke and as she
gripped herself the father reached his bristling pompadour and cried in
wrath, "Let him burn--let him burn, girl--hell's too good for him!"

His voice was high and harsh and merciless. It restored the woman's
poise and she shook her head sorrowfully as she resumed:

"I can't bear to see it; I--I want to shield him--I must--if I can." A
tremor ran through her again. She caught hold of herself, then went on
more calmly. "But things can't go on this way. Here is this box--"

"Child--child," cried the Doctor angrily, "you come right home--right
home," he piped with rising wrath. "Right home to mother and me."

The wife shook her head and replied: "No, father, that's the easy road.
I must take the hard road." Her father's mobile face showed his pain and
the daughter cried: "I know, father--I know how you would have stopped
me before I chose this way. But I did choose and now here is Lila, and
here is a home--a home--our home, father, and I mustn't leave it. Here
is my duty, here in this home, and I must not ran away. I must work out
my life as it is--as before God and Lila--and Tom--yes, Tom, father, as
before all three, I have my responsibility. I must not put away Tom--no
matter--no matter how I feel--no matter what he has done. I won't," she
repeated. "I won't."

The father turned an impatient face to his daughter, and retorted, "You
won't--you won't leave that miserable cur--that--that woman hunting
dog--won't leave--"

The father's rage sputtered on his lips, but the daughter caught his
hand as it was beating his cane on the floor. "Stop, father," she said
gently, "it's something more than women that's wrong with Tom. Women are
merely an outward and visible sign--it's what he believes--and what he
does, living his creed--always following the material thing. As a judge
I thought he would see his way--must see his way to bring justice
here--" She looked into the fume stained sky above South Harvey, and
Foley and Magnus, far down the valley, and tightened her grip on her
father's hands. "But no--no," she cried, "Tom doesn't know justice--he
only sees the law, the law and profits, and prosperity--only the eternal
material. He sits by and sees the company settle for four and five
hundred dollars for the lives of the men it wasted in the mine--yes,
more than sits by--he stands at the door of justice and drives the
widows and children into a settlement like an overseer. And he and Joe
Calvin have some sort of real estate partnership--Oh--I know it's
dishonest, though I don't know how. But it branches so secretly into the
law and it all reaches down into politics. And the whole order here,
father--Daniel Sands paying for politics, paying for government that
makes the laws, paying for mayors and governors that enforce the laws
and paying the judges to back them up--and all that poverty and
wretchedness and wickedness down there and all this beauty and luxury
and material happiness up here. It's all, all wrong, father." Her voice
broke again in sobs, and tears were running down her cheeks as she
continued. "How can we blame Tom for violating his vows to me? Where are
all our vows to God to deal justly with His people--the widows and
orphans and helpless ones, father?" She looked at her father through her
tears, at her father, whose face was agape! He was staring into the
wistaria vines as one who saw his world quaking. A quick bolt of
sympathy shot through the daughter's heart. She patted his limp hands
and said softly, "So--father--I mustn't leave Tom. He's a poor, weak
creature--a rotten stick--and because I know it--I must stay with him!"

                   *       *       *       *       *

Behind the screen of matter, the lusty fates were pulling at the screws
of the rack. "Pull harder," cried the first fate; "the little old
pot-bellied rascal--make him see it: make him see how he warned her
against the symptoms, but not the disease that was festering her lover's
soul!"

"Turn yourself," cried the second, "make the forehead sweat as he sees
how he has been delivering laws in a basket to grind iniquity through
Tom Van Dorn's mill! Turn--turn, turn you lout!"

"And you," cried the third fate at the screw to the first, "twist that
heart-string, twist it hard when he sees his daughter's broken face and
hears her sobbing!"

But the angels, the pitying angels, loosened the cords of the rack with
their gentle tears.

                   *       *       *       *       *

As the taut threads of the rack slackened, he heard the soft voice of
his daughter saying: "But of course, the most important thing is
Lila--not that she means a great deal to him now. He doesn't care much
for children. He doesn't want them--children."

She turned upon her father and with anguished voice and with all her
denied motherhood, she cried: "O, father--I want them--lots of
them--arms full of them all the time."

She stretched out her arms. "Oh, it's been so hard, to feel my youth
passing, and only one child--I wanted a whole house full. I'm strong; I
could bear them. I don't mind anything--I just want my babies--my babies
that never have come."

And then the pitiless fates turned the screws of the rack again and the
father burst forth in his vain grief, with his high, soft, woman's
voice. "I wonder--I wonder--I wonder, what God has in waiting for you to
make up for this?"

Before she could answer, the telephone bell rang. The wife stepped to
the instrument. "Well," she said when she came back. "The hour has
struck; the expressman went to Tom for the express charges; he knows the
package is here and," she added after a sigh, "he knows that I know all
about it." She even smiled rather sadly, "So he's coming out--on his
wheel."



CHAPTER XXII

IN WHICH TOM VAN DORN BECOMES A WAYFARING MAN ALSO


The father rose. His head was cast down. He poked a vine curling about
the porch floor with his cane.

"I wonder, my dear," he spoke slowly, and with great gentleness, "if
maybe I shouldn't talk with Tom--before you see him."

He continued to poke the vine, and looked up at the daughter sadly. "Of
course there's Lila; if it is best for her--why that's the thing to
do--I presume."

"But father," broke in the daughter, "Tom and I can--"

But he entreated, "Won't you let me talk with Tom? In half an hour--I'll
go. You and Lila slip over to mother's for half an hour--come back at
half past twelve. I'll tell him where you are."

The mother and child had disappeared around the corner of the house when
the click of Van Dorn's bicycle on the curbing told the Doctor that the
young man was upon the walk. The package from the capital still lay
beside the porch column. The Doctor did not lift his eyes from it as the
younger man came hurrying up the steps. He was flushed, bright-eyed, a
little out of breath, and his black wing of hair was damp. On the top
step, he looked up and saw the Doctor.

"It's all right, Tom--I understand things." The Doctor's eyes turned to
the parcel on the floor between them.

The Doctor's voice was soft; his manner was gentle, and he lifted his
blue, inquiring eyes into the young Judge's restless black ones. Dr.
Nesbit put a fatherly hand on the young man's arm, and said: "Shall we
sit down, Tom, and take stock of things and see where we stand? Wouldn't
that be a good idea?"

They sat down and the younger man eyed the package, turned it over,
looked at the address nervously, pulled at his mustache as he sank back,
while the elder man was saying: "I believe I understand you, Tom--better
than any one else in the world understands you. I believe you have not a
better friend on earth than I right at this minute."

The Judge turned around and said in a disturbed voice, "I am sure that's
the God's truth, Doctor Jim." Then after a sigh he added, "And this is
what I've done to you!"

"And will keep right on doing to me as long as you live," piped the
elder man, twitching his mouth and nose contemptuously.

"As long as I live, I fancy," repeated the other. In the pause the young
man put his hands to his hips and his chin on his breast as he slouched
down in the chair and asked: "Where's Laura?"

"Over at her mother's," replied the father. "Nobody will interrupt
us--and so I thought we could get down to grass roots and talk this
thing out."

The Judge crossed his handsome ankles and sat looking at his trim toes.

"I suppose that idea is as good as any." He put one long, lean, hairy
hand on the short, fat knee beside him and said: "The whole trouble with
our Protestant religion is that we have no confessor. So some of us talk
to our lawyers, and some of us talk to our doctors, and in extreme
unction we talk to our newspapers."

He grinned miserably, and went on: "But we all talk to some one, and now
I'm going to talk to you--talk for once, Doctor, right out of my
soul--if I have one."

He rose nervously, obeying some purely physical impulse, and then sat
down again, with his hands in his thick, black hair, and his elbows on
his bony knees.

"All right, Tom," piped the Doctor, "go ahead."

"Well, then," he began as he looked at the floor before him, "do you
suppose I don't know that you know what I'm up to? Do you think I don't
know even what the town is buzzing about? Lord, man, I can feel it like
a scorching fire. Why," he exclaimed with emotion, "feeling the hearts
of men is my job. I've been at it for fifteen years--"

He broke off and looked up. "How could I get up before a jury and feel
them out man by man as I talked if I wasn't sensitive to these things?
You've seen me make them cry when I was in the practice. How could I
make them cry if I didn't feel like crying myself. You're a doctor--you
know that. People forget what I am--what a thousand stringed instrument
I am. Now, Doctor Jim, let me tell you something. This is the bottom
hard pan of the truth: I never before really cared for these
women--these other women--when I got them. But I do care for the chase,
I do care for the risk of it--for the exhilaration of it--for the joy of
it!"

The Doctor's mouth twitched and he took a breath as if about to speak.
Van Dorn stopped him: "Don't cut in, Doc Jim--let me say it all out. I'm
young. I love the moonlight and the stars and I never go through a wood
that I do not see trysting places there--and I never see a great stretch
of prairie under the sunshine that I do not put in a beautiful woman and
go following her--not for her--Doctor Jim, but for the joy of pursuit,
for the thrill of uncovering a bared, naked soul, and the overwhelming
danger of it. God--man, I've stood afraid to breathe, flattened against
a wall and heard the man-beast growl and sniff, hunting me. I love to
love and be loved; but not less do I love to hunt and be hunted. I've
hidden under trees, I've skulked in the shadows, I've walked boldly in
the sunlight with my life in my hand to meet a woman's eyes, to feel her
guilty shudder in my arms. Oh, Doctor Jim, you don't understand the riot
in my blood that the moon makes shining through the trees upon the
water, with great, shadowy glades, and the tinkle of cow bells far away,
and a woman afraid of me--and I afraid of her--and nothing but the stars
and the night between us."

He rose and began pacing the piazza as he continued speaking. "It's
always been so with me--as early as my boyhood it was so. I often wake
in the lonely nights and think of them all over again--the days and
nights, the girls and women who have flashed bright and radiant into my
life. Over and over again, I repeat to my soul their names, over and
over I live the hours we have spent together, the dangers, the delights,
the cruel misery of it all and then at the turn of the street, at the
corner of a room, in the winking of an eye I see another face, it looks
a challenge at me and I am out on the high road of another romance. I've
got to go! It's part of my life; it's the pulse of my blood."

He stood excited with his deep, beady, black eyes burning and his proud,
vain face flushed and his hands a-tremble. The Doctor saw that he was in
the midst of a physical and mental turmoil that could not be checked.

Van Dorn went on: "And then you and my friends ask me to quit. Laura,
God help her--she naturally--" he exclaimed. "But is the moon to be
blotted out for me? Are the night winds to be muffled and mean no more
than the scraping of a dead twig against a rusty wire? Are flowers to
lose their scent, and grass and trees and birds to be blurred and turned
drab in my eyes? How do you think I live, man? How do you think I can go
before juries and audiences and make them thrill and clench their fists
and cry like children and breathe with my emotions, if I am to be stone
dead? Do you think a wooden man can do that? Try Joe Calvin with a
jury--what does he accomplish with all his virtue? He hasn't had an
emotion in twenty years. A pretty woman looking at Joe in a crowd
wouldn't say anything to him with her eyes and dilating nostrils and the
swish of her body. And when he gets before a jury he talks the law to
them, and the facts to them, and the justice of the case to them. But
when I used to stand up before them, they knew I was weak, human mud.
They had heard all the stories on me. They knew me, and some of them
despised me, and all of them were watching out for me, but when I
reached down in my heart and brought up the common clay of which we all
are made and molded it into a man or an event before their eyes,
then--by God they came to me. And yet you've been sitting there for
years, Doctor Jim Nesbit and saying 'Tom--Tom, why don't you quit?'"

He was seated now, talking in a low, tense voice, looking the Doctor
deeply in the eyes, and as he paused, the perspiration stood out upon
his scarred forehead, and pink splotches appeared there and the veins of
his temples were big and blue. The Doctor turned away his eyes and said
coldly: "There's Laura--Tom--Laura and little Lila."

"Yes," he groaned, rising. "There are Laura and Lila."

He thrust his hands deeply into his pockets and looked down at the
Doctor and sneered. "There's the trap that snapped and took a paw, and
I'm supposed to lick it and love it and to cherish it."

He shuddered, and continued: "For once I'll speak and tell it all. I'll
not be a hypocrite in this hour, though ever after I may lie and cringe.
There are Laura and Lila and here am I. And out beyond is the wind in
the elms and the sunshine upon the grass and the moving odor of
flowers--flowers that are blushing with the joy of nature in her great
perennial romance--and there's Laura and Lila and here am I."

His passion was ebbing; his face was hardening into its wonted vain,
artificial contour, his eyes were losing their dilation, and he was
sitting rather limply in his chair, staring into space. The Doctor came
at him.

"You're a fool. You had your fling; you're along in your thirties,
nearly forty now and it's time to stop." The younger man could not
regain the height, but he could hide under his crust. So he parried back
suavely, with insolence in his voice:

"Why stop at thirty--or even forty? Why stop at all?"

"Let me tell you something, Tom," returned the Doctor. "It's all very
fine to talk this way; but this thing has become a fixed habit, just
like the whiskey habit; and in fifteen or twenty years more you'll be a
chronic, physical, degenerate man. You'll lose your self-respect. You'll
lose your quick wits, and your whole mind and body will be burning up
with a slow fire."

"Oh, you dear old fossil," replied Van Dorn in a hollow, dead voice,
rising and patting his tie and adjusting his coat and collar, "I'm no
fool. I know what I'm doing. I know how far to go, and when to stop. But
this game is interesting; and I'm only a man," he straightened up again,
patted his mustache, and again tipped his hat into a cockey angle over
his forehead, and went on, "not a monk." He smiled, pivoted on his heel
nervously and went on, "And what is more I can take care of myself."

"Tom," cried the Doctor in his treble, with excitement in his voice,
"you can't take care of yourself. No man ever lived who could. You may
get away with your love affairs, and no one be the wiser; you may make a
crooked or dirty million on a stock deal and no one be the wiser; but
you'll bear the marks to the grave."

"So," mocked the sneering voice of the young Judge, "I suppose you'll
carry the marks of all the men you've bought up in this town for twenty
years."

"Yes, Tom," returned the Doctor pitifully, as he rose and stood beside
the preening young man, "I'll carry 'em to the grave with me, too; I've
had a few stripes to-day."

"Well, anyway," retorted Van Dorn, pulling his hat over his eyes,
restlessly, "you're entitled to what you get in this life. And I'm going
to get all I can, money and fun, and everything else. Morals are for
sapheads. The preacher's God says I can't have certain things without
His cracking down on me. Watch me beat Him at his own game." It was all
a make-believe and the Doctor saw that the real man was gone.

"Tom," sighed the Doctor, "here's the practical question--you realize
what all this means to Laura? And Lila--why, Tom, can't you see what
it's going to mean to her--to all of us as the years go by?"

Their eyes met and turned to the parcel on the floor. "You can't
afford--well, that sort of thing," the Doctor punched the parcel
contemptuously with his cane. "It's all bad enough, Tom, but that way
lies hell!"

Van Dorn turned upon the Doctor, and squared his jaw and said: "Well
then--that's the way I'm going--that way"--he nodded toward the
package--"lies romance for me! There is the road to the only joy I shall
ever know in this earth. There lies life and beauty and all that I live
for, and I'm going that way."

The Judge met the father's beseeching face, with an angry glare--defiant
and insolent.

The Doctor had no time to reply. There was a stir in the house, and a
child's steps came running through the hall. Lila stopped on the porch,
hesitating between the two men. The Doctor put out his arms for her. Van
Dorn casually reached out his hand. She ran to her father and cried,
"Up--Daddy--up," and jumped to his shoulder as he took her. The Doctor
walked down the steps as his daughter came out of the door.

The man and the woman looked at one another, but did not speak. The
father put the child down and said:

"Now, Lila, run with grandpa and get a cooky from granny while your
mother and I talk."

She looked up at him with her blue eyes and her sadly puckered little
face, swallowed her disappointed tears and trudged down the steps after
the white-clad grandfather who was untying his horse.

When the child and the grandfather were gone the wife said in a dead,
emotionless voice, looking at the parcel on the floor, "Well, Tom?"

"Well, Laura," he repeated, "that's about the size of it--there it
is--and you know all about it. I shall not lie--this time. It's not
worth while--now."

The woman sat in a porch chair. The man hesitated, and she said: "Sit
down, Tom. I don't know what to do or what to say," she began. "If there
were just you and me to consider, I suppose I'd say we'd have to quit.
But there's Lila. She is here and she does love you--and she has her
right--the greatest right in the world to--well, to us--to a home, and a
home means a father and a mother." The man rose. He put his hands in his
coat pockets and stood by the porch column, making no reply.

The wife continued, "I can't even speak of what you have done to me,
Tom. But it will hurt when I'm an old woman--I want to hide my face from
every one--even from God--when I think of what you have used me for."

He dropped into the chair beside her, looking at the floor. Her voice
had stirred some chord in his thousand-stringed heart. He reached out a
hand to her.

"No, Tom," said the wife, "I don't want your pity."

"No, Laura," the husband returned quickly, "no, you don't need my pity;
it's not pity that I am trying to give you. I only wished you to listen
to what I have to say." The wife looked at her husband for a second in
fear as she apprehended what he was about to utter. He turned his eyes
from her and went on: "It was a mistake, a very nightmare of a
mistake--my mistake--all my mistake--but still just an awful mistake.
We couldn't make life go. All this was foredoomed, Laura, and
now--now--" his eyes were upon the parcel on the floor, "here I am sure
I have found the thing my life needs. And it is my life--my life." He
saw his wife go pale, then flush; but he went on. "After all, it is
one's own life that commands him, and nothing else in the world. And now
I must follow my destiny."

"But, Tom," asked the wife, "you aren't going to this woman? You aren't
going to leave us? You surely won't break up this home--not this home,
Tom?"

The man hesitated before answering, then spoke directly: "I must follow
my destiny--work it out as I see it. You have no right, no one has any
right--even I have no right to compromise with my destiny. I live in
this world just once!"

"But what is your destiny, Tom?" answered the wife. "Leave me out of it:
but aren't the roots you have put down in this home, this career you are
building; our child's normal girlhood with a father's care--aren't these
the big things in your destiny? Lila's life--growing up under the shame
that follows a child of parents divorced for such base reasons as these?
Lila's life is surely a part of your destiny. Surely, surely you have no
rights apart from her and hers!"

His quick mind was ready. "I have my own life to live, my own destiny to
follow; my individual equation to solve, and for me nothing exists in
the universe. As for my career--I'll take care of that. That's mine
also!"

The wife threw out an appealing hand. "Tom, I can't help wanting to pick
you up and shield you. It will be awful--awful--that thing you are
trying to go into. You've always chosen the material thing--the
practical thing--and she--she's a practical woman. Oh, Tom--I'm not
jealous--not a bit. If I thought she would enrich your soul--if I
thought she would give you what I've wanted to give you--what I've
prayed God night after night to let me give you--I'd take even Lila and
go away and give you your chance for a love such as I've had. Can you
see, Tom, I'm not jealous? I'm not even angry."

He turned upon her suddenly and said: "You don't know what you're
talking about. Anyway--she suits me--she'll enrich me as you call it all
right. I'm sure of that."

"No, Tom," said the wife quietly, "she'll not enrich you--not
spiritually. No one can do that--for any one. It must come from within.
I've poured my very heart over you, Tom, and you didn't want it--you
only wanted--oh, God--hide my shame--my shame--my shame." Her voice rose
for a moment and she muffled it with her face in her arms.

"Tom--" she faltered, "Tom--I am going to make one last plea--for Lila's
sake won't you put it all away--won't you?" she shuddered. "It is
killing all my self-respect, Tom--but I must. Won't you--won't you
please for Lila's sake come back, break this off--and see if we can't
patch up life?"

"No," he answered.

Their eyes met; his shifting, beady eyes were held forcibly with many a
twitching, by her gray eyes. For two awful seconds they stood taking
farewell of each other.

"No," he repeated, dropping his glance.

Then he put out his hand with a gesture of finality, "I'm going now. I
don't know when--or--well, whether I'll come--" He picked up the
package. He was going down the steps with the package in his hands when
he heard the patter of little feet and a little voice calling:

"Daddy--daddy--" and repeated, "daddy."

He did not turn, but walked quickly to the sidewalk. As far as he could
hear, that childish voice called to him.

And he heard the cry in his dreams.



CHAPTER XXIII

HERE GRANT ADAMS DISCOVERS HIS INSIDES


Laura Van Dorn stood watching her husband pass down the street. She
silenced the child by clasping her close in the tender motherly arms. No
tears rose in the wife's eyes, as she stood looking vacantly down the
street at the corner where her husband had turned. Gradually it came to
her consciousness that a crowd was gathering by her father's house. She
remembered then that she had seen a carriage drive up, and that three or
four men followed it on bicycles, and then half a dozen men got out of a
wagon. Even while she stared, she saw the little rattletrap of a buggy
that Amos Adams drove come tearing up to the curb by her father's house.
Amos Adams, Jasper and little Kenyon got out. Even amidst the turmoil of
her emotions, she moved mechanically to the street, to see better, then
she clasped Lila to her breast and ran toward her father's home.

"What is it?" she cried to the first man she met at the edge of the
little group standing near the veranda steps.

"Grant Adams--we're afraid he's killed." The man who spoke was Denny
Hogan. Beside him was an Italian, who said, "He's burned something most
awful. He got it saving des feller here," nodding and pointing to Hogan.

Laura put down her child and hurried through the house to her father's
little office. The strong smell of an anesthetic came to her. She saw
Amos Adams standing a-tremble by the office door, holding Kenyon's hand.
Amos answered her question.

"They think he's dying,--I knew he'd want to see Kenyon."

Jasper, white and frightened, stood on the stairs. These details she saw
at a glance as she pushed open the office door. At first she saw great
George Brotherton and three or four white-faced, terrified working men,
standing in stiff helplessness, while like a white shuttle, among the
gloomy figures the Doctor moved quickly, ceaselessly, effectively. Then
her eyes met her father's. He said:

"Come in, Laura--I need you. Now all of you go out but George and her."

Then, as she came into the group, Laura saw Grant Adams, sitting with
agony upon his wet face. Her father bent over him and worked on a puffy,
pink, naked arm and shoulder, and body. The man was half conscious; his
face was twitching, and when she looked again she saw where his right
hand should be only a brown, charred stump.

Not looking up the Doctor spoke: "You know where things are and what I
need--I can't get him clear under," Every motion he made counted; he
took no false steps; he made no turn of his body or twist of his hand
that was not full of conscious purpose. He only spoke to give orders,
and when Brotherton whispered to Laura:

"White hot lead pig at the smelter--Grant saw it was going to kill Hogan
and grabbed it."

The Doctor shook his head at Brotherton and for two hours that was all
Laura knew of the accident. Once when the Doctor stopped for a second to
take a deep breath, Brotherton asked, "Do you want another doctor?" the
little man shook his head again, and motioned with it at his daughter.

"She's doing well enough." She kept her father's merciless pace, but
always the sense of her stricken life seemed to be hovering in the back
of her consciousness, and the hours seemed ages as she applied her
bandages, and helped with the gruesome work of the knife on the charred
stump of the arm. But finally it was over and she saw Brotherton and
Hogan lift Grant to a cot, under her father's direction, and carry him
to the bedroom she had used as a girl at home. While the Doctor and
Laura had been working in his office Mrs. Nesbit had been making the
bedroom ready.

It was five o'clock, and the two fagged women were in Mrs. Nesbit's
room. The younger woman was pale and haggard and unable to relax. The
mother tried all of a mother's wiles to bring peace to the over-strung
nerves. But the daughter paced the floor silently, or if she spoke it
was to ask some trivial question about the household--about what
arrangements were made for the injured man's food, about Lila, about
Amos Adams and Kenyon. Finally, as she turned to leave the room, her
mother asked, "Where are you going?" The daughter answered, "Why, I'm
going home."

"But Laura," the mother returned, "I believe your father is expecting
your help here--to-night. I am sure he will need you." The daughter
looked steadily, but rather vacantly at her mother for a moment, then
replied: "Well, Lila and I must go now. I'll leave her there with the
maid and I'll try to come back."

Her hand was on the door-knob. "Well," hesitated her mother, "what about
Tom--?"

The eyes of the two women met. "Did father tell you?" asked the
daughter's eyes. The mother's eyes said "Yes." Then rose the Spartan
mother, and put a kind, firm hand upon the daughter's arm and asked:
"But Laura, my dear, my dear, you are not going back again, to all--all
that, are you?"

"I am going home, mother," the daughter replied.

"But your self-respect, child?" quoted the Spartan, and the daughter
made answer simply: "I must go home, mother."

When Laura Van Dorn entered her home she began the evening's routine,
somewhat from habit, and yet many things she did she grimly forced
herself to do. She waited dinner for her husband. She called his office
vainly upon the telephone. She and Lila ate alone; often they had eaten
alone before. And as the evening grew from twilight to dark, she put the
child to bed, left one of the maids in the child's room, lighted an
electric reading lamp in her husband's room, turned on the hall lamp,
instructed the maid to tell the Judge that his wife was with her father
helping him with a wounded man, and then she went out through the open,
hospitable door.

But all that night, as she sat beside the restless man, who writhed in
his pain even under the drug, she went over and over her problem. She
recognized that a kind of finality had come into her relations with her
husband. In the rush of events that had followed his departure, a
period, definite and conclusive seemed to have been put after the whole
of her life's adventures with Tom Van Dorn. She did not cry, nor feel
the want of tears, yet there were moments when she instinctively put her
hands before her face as in a shame. She saw the man in perspective for
the first time clearly. She had not let herself take a candid inventory
of him before. But that night all her subconscious impressions rose and
framed themselves into conscious reflections. And then she knew that his
relation with her from the beginning had been a reflex of his view of
life--of his material idea of the scheme of things.

As the night wore on, she kept her nurse's chart and did the things to
be done for her patient. For the time her emotions were spent. Her heart
was empty. Even for the shattered and suffering body before her, the
tousled red head, the half-closed, pain-bleared eyes, the lips that
shielded the clenched teeth--she felt none of that tenderness that comes
from deep sympathy and moving pity. At dawn she went home with her body
worn and weary, and after the sun was up she slept.

Scarcely had the morning stir begun in the Nesbit household, before
Morty Sands appeared, clad in the festive raiment of the moment--white
ducks and a shirtwaist and a tennis racket, to be exact. He asked for
the Doctor and when the Doctor came, Morty cocked his sparrow like head
and paused a moment after the greetings of the morning were spoken.
After his inquiries for Grant had been satisfied, Morty still lingered
and cocked his head.

"Of course, Doctor," Morty began diffidently, "and naturally you know
more of it than I--but--" he got no further for a second. Then he
gathered courage from the Doctor's bland face to continue: "Well,
Doctor, last night at Brotherton's, Tom came in and George and Nate
Perry and Kyle and Captain Morton and I were there; and Tom--well,
Doctor--Tom said something--"

"He did--did he?" cut in the Doctor. "The dirty dog! So he broke the
news to the Amen Corner!"

"Now, Doctor, we all know Tom," Morty explained. "We know Tom: but
George said Laura was helping with Grant, and I just thought, certainly
I have no wish to intrude, but I just thought maybe I could relieve her
myself by sitting up with Grant, if--"

The Doctor's kindly face twitched with pain, and he cried: "Morty,
you're a boy in a thousand! But can't you see that just at this time if
I had half a dozen cases like Grant's, they would be a God's mercy for
her!"

Morty could not control his voice. So he turned and tripped down the
steps and flitted away. As Morty disappeared, George Brotherton came
roaring up the hill, but no word of what Van Dorn had said in the Amen
Corner did Mr. Brotherton drop. He asked about Grant, inquired about
Laura, and released a crashing laugh at some story of stuttering Kyle
Perry trying to tell deaf John Kollander about the Venezuelan dispute.
"Kyle," said George, "pronounces Venezuela like an atomizer!" Captain
Morton rested from his loved employ, let the egg-beater of the hour
languish, and permitted stock in his new Company to slump in a weary
market while he camped on the Nesbit veranda during the day to greet and
disperse such visitors as Mrs. Nesbit deemed of sufficiently small
social consequence to receive the Captain's ministrations. At twilight
the Captain greeted Laura coming from her home for her night watch, and
with a rather elaborate scenario of amenities, told her how his
Household Horse company was prospering, how his egg beater was going,
and asked after Lila's health, omitting mention of the Judge with an
easy nonchalance which struck terror to the woman's heart--terror, lest
the Captain and through him all men should know of her trouble.

But deeper than the terror in her heart at what the Captain might know
and tell was the pain at the thing she knew herself--that the home which
she loved was dead. However proudly it might stand before the world, for
the passing hour or day or year, she knew, and the knowledge sickened
her to her soul's death, that the home was doomed. She kept thinking of
it as a tree, whose roots were cut; a tree whose leaves were still
green, whose comeliness still pleased the eye but whose ugly, withered
branches soon must stand out to affront the world. And sorrowing for the
beauty that was doomed she went to her work. All night with her father
she ministered to the tortured man, but in the morning she slipped away
to her home again hoping her numb vain hope, through another weary
journey of the sun.

The third night found Grant Adams restless, wakeful, anxious to talk.
The opiates had left him. She saw that he was fully himself, even though
conscious of his tortured body. "Laura," he cried in a sick man's feeble
voice, "I want to tell you something."

"Not now, Grant," she returned quietly. "I'd rather hear it to-morrow."

"No," he returned stubbornly, "I want to tell you now."

He paused as if to catch his breath. "For I want you to know I'm the
happiest man in the world." He set his teeth firmly. The muscles of his
jaw worked, and he smiled up at her. He questioned her with his blue
eyes, and after some assent had come into her face--or he thought it
had, he went on:

"There's a God in Israel, Laura--I know it way down in me and all
through me."

A crash of pain stopped him. He grinned at the groan, which the pain
wrenched from him, and whispered, "There's a God in Israel--for He gave
me my chance. I saw the great white killing thing coming to do for Denny
Hogan. How I'd waited for that chance. Then when it came, I wanted to
run. But I didn't run. There's something in you bigger than fear. So
when God gave me my chance He put the--the--the--" pain wrenched him
again, and he said weakly, "the--I've got to say it, you'll
understand--He put the--the guts in me to take it."

When she left him a few minutes later he seemed to be asleep. But when
Doctor Nesbit came into the room an hour later Grant was wide-eyed and
smiling, and seemed so much better that as a reward of merit the Doctor
brought in the morning paper and told Grant he could look at the
headings for five minutes. There it was that he first realized what a
lot of business lay ahead of him, learning to live as a one-armed man.
The Doctor saw his patient worrying with the paper, and started to help.

"No, Doctor," said the young man, "I must begin sometime, and now's as
good a time as any." So he struggled with the unwieldy sheets of paper,
and finally managed to get his morning's reading done. When the time was
up, he handed back his paper saying, "I see Tom Van Dorn is going on his
vacation--does that mean Laura, too?" The Doctor shook his head; and by
way of taking the subject away from Laura he said: "Now about your
damages, Grant--you know I'll stand by you with the Company, don't
you--I'm no Van Dorn, if I am Company doctor. You ought to have good
damages--for--"

"Damages! damages!" cried Grant, "why, Doctor, I can't get damages. I
wasn't working for the smelter when it happened. I was around organizing
the men. And I don't want damages. This arm," he looked lovingly at the
stump beside him, "is worth more in my business than a million dollars.
For it proves to me that I am not afraid to go clear through for my
faith, and it proves me to the men! Damages! damages?" he said grimly.
"Why, Doctor, if Uncle Dan and the other owners up town here only know
what this stump will cost them, they would sue me for damages! I tell
you those men in the mine there saved my life. Ever since then I've been
trying to repay them, and here comes this chance to turn in a little on
account, to bind the bargain, and now the men know how seriously I hold
the debt. Damages?" There was just a hint of fanaticism in his laugh;
the Doctor looked at Grant quickly, then he sniffed, "Fine talk, Grant,
fine talk for the next world, but it won't buy shoes for the baby in
this," and he turned away impatiently and went into a world of reality,
leaving Grant Adams to enjoy his Utopia.

That morning after breakfast, when Laura had gone home, the Doctor and
his wife sitting alone went into the matter further. "Of course," said
the Doctor, "she'll see that he has gone away. But when should we tell
her what he has done?"

"Doctor," said the mother, "you leave his letter here where I can get
it. I'm going over there and pack everything that rightfully may be
called hers--I mean her dresses and trinkets--and such things as have in
them no particular memory of him. They shall come home. Then I'll lock
up the house."

The Doctor squinted up his eyes thoughtfully and said slowly, "Well,
that seems kind. I don't suppose you need read her the whole letter.
Just tell her he is going to ask for a divorce--tell her it's
incompatibility. But his letter isn't important." The Doctor sighed.

"Grant ought really to stay here another week--maybe we can stretch it
to ten days--and let her have all the responsibility she'll take. It'll
help her over the first bridge. Kenyon is taking care of Lila--I
suppose?" The Doctor rose, stood by his wife and said as he found her
hand:

"Poor Laura--poor Laura--and Lila! You know when I had her down town
with me yesterday, in the hallway leading to Joe Calvin's office, she
met Tom--" The Doctor looked away for a moment. "It was pretty
tough--her little heartbreak when he went by her without taking her up!"
The wife did not reply. The husband with his arm about her walked toward
the door.

"You can't tell me, my dear, that Tom isn't paying--I know how that sort
of thing gets under his skin--he's too sensitive not to imagine all it
means to the child." Mrs. Nesbit's face hardened and her husband saw her
bitterness. "I know, my dear--I know how you feel--I feel all that, and
yet in my very heart I'm sorry for poor Tom. He's swapping substance for
shadow so recklessly--not only in this, not merely with Laura--but with
everything--everything."

"Good Lord, Jim, I don't see how you can agonize over a wool-dyed
scoundrel like that--perhaps you have some tears for that Fenn hussy,
too!"

"Well," squeaked the Doctor soberly--"I knew her father--a lecherous old
beast who brought her up without restraint or morals--with a greedy
philosophy pounded into her by example every day of her life until she
was seventeen years old. There's something to be said--even for her, my
dear--even for her."

"Well, Jim Nesbit," answered his wife, "I'll go a long way with you in
your tomfoolery, but so long as I've got to draw the line somewhere I
draw it right there."

The Doctor looked at the floor. "I suppose so--" he sighed, then lifted
his head and said: "I was just trying to think of all the sorrows that
come into the world, of all the tragedies I ever knew, and I have
concluded that this tragedy of divorce when it comes like this--as it
has come to our daughter--is the greatest tragedy in the world. To love
as she loved and to find every anchor to which she tied the faith of her
life rotten, to have her heart seared with faithlessness--to see her
child--her flesh and blood scorned, to have her very soul spat
upon--that's the essence of sorrow, my dear."

He looked up into her eyes, bent to kiss her hand, and after he had
picked up his cane and his hat from the rack, toddled down the walk to
the street, a sad, thoughtful, worried little man, white-clad and serene
to outward view, who had not even a whistle nor a vagrant tune under his
breath to console him.

That day, after her father's insistence, Laura Van Dorn changed from the
night watch to the day nurse, and from that day on for ten days, she
ministered to Grant Adams' wants. Mechanically she read to him from such
books as the house afforded--Tolstoi--Ibsen, Hardy, Howells,--but she
was shut away from the meaning of what she read and even from the
comments of the man under her care, by the consideration of her own
problems. For to Laura Van Dorn it was a time of anxious doubt, of sad
retrogression, of inner anguish. In some of the books were passages she
had marked and read to her husband; and such pages calling up his dull
comprehension of their beauty, or bringing back his scoffing words, or
touching to the quick a hurt place in her heart, taxed her nerves
heavily. But during the time while she sat by the injured man's bedside,
she was glad in her heart of one thing--that she had an excuse for
avoiding the people who called.

As Grant grew stronger--as it became evident that he must go soon, the
woman's heart shrank from meeting the town, and she clung to each duty
of the man's convalescence hungrily. She knew she must face life, that
she must have some word for her friends about her tragedy. She felt that
in going away, in suing for the divorce himself, her husband had made
the break irrevocable. There was no resentment nor malice toward him in
her heart. Yet the future seemed hopelessly black and terrible to her.

The afternoon before Grant Adams was to leave the Nesbit home he was
allowed to come down stairs, and he sat with her upon the side porch,
all screened and protected by vines that led to her father's office.
Laura's finger was in a book they had been reading--it was "The Pillars
of Society." The day was one of those exquisite days in mid-June, and
after a cooling rain the air was clear and seemed to put joy into one's
veins.

"How modern he is--how American--how like Harvey," said the young man.
"Ibsen might have lived right here in this town, and written that," he
added. He started to raise his right arm, but a twinge of pain reminded
him that the stump was bound, so he raised his left and cried:

"And I tell you, Laura--that's what I'm on earth to fight--the whole
infernal system of pocket-picking and poor-robbing, and public gouging
that we permit under the profit system." The woman's thoughts were upon
her own sorrow, but she called herself back to smile and reply:

"All right, Grant--I'm with you. We may have to draft father and
commandeer George Brotherton, and start out as a pirate crew--but I'm
with you."

"Let me tell you something," said the man. "I've not been loafing for
the past two years. I've got Harvey--the men in the mines and smelter, I
mean, fairly well unionized, but the unions are nothing--nothing
ultimate--they are only temporary."

"Well," returned the woman, soberly, "that's something."

The man made no answer. With his free hand he was ruffling his red hair,
and she could see the muscles of his jaw working, and she felt his great
mouth harden as he flashed his blue eyes upon her. "Laura," he cried,
"they may whip us this year. For a while they may scare the men into
voting for prosperity, but as sure as we both live we shall see these
times and these issues and these men who are promoting this devilish
conspiracy eternally damned--all of them--the issues, the times and the
men who are leading. And I don't want to hurt you, Laura, but," he added
solemnly, "your husband must take his punishment with the rest."

They sat mute, then each heard the plaintive cry of a child running
through the house. "She is looking for me," said Laura. In a moment a
little wet-eyed girl was in her mother's arms, crying:

"I want my daddy--my dear daddy--I want him to come home--where is he?"

She sobbed in her mother's arms and held up her little face to look
earnestly into the beautiful face above her, as she cried, "Is he
gone--Annie Sands' new mamma says my papa's never coming back--Oh, I
want my daddy--I want to go home."

She continued calling him and sobbing, and the mother rose to take the
child away.

"Laura!" cried Grant, in a passionate question. He saw the weeping child
and the grief-stricken face of the mother. In an instant he held out his
bony left hand to her and said gently: "God help you--God help you."



CHAPTER XXIV

IN WHICH THE DEVIL FORMALLY TAKES THE TWO HINDERMOST AND CLOSES AN
ACCOUNT IN HIS LEDGER


Harvey tried sincerely to believe in Tom Van Dorn up to the very day
when it happened. For the town had accepted him gladly and unanimously
as its most distinguished citizen. But when the town read in the
_Times_ one November day after he had come home from his political
campaign through the east for sound money and the open mills--a campaign
in which Harvey had seen him through the tinted glasses of the Harvey
_Daily Times_ as one of the men who had saved the country--when the
town read that cold paragraph beginning: "A decree of divorce was issued
to-day to Judge Thomas Van Dorn, from his wife, Mrs. Laura Nesbit Van
Dorn, upon the ground of incompatibility of temperament by Judge protem
Calvin in the district court," and ending with these words: "Mrs. Van
Dorn declined through her attorney to participate in a division of the
property upon any terms and will live for the present with her daughter,
aged five, at the home of Dr. and Mrs. James Nesbit on Elm Street"--when
the town read that paragraph, Harvey closed its heart upon Thomas Van
Dorn.

Only one other item was needed to steel the heart of Harvey against its
idol, and that item they found upon another page. It read, "Wanted,
pupils for the piano--Mrs. Laura Van Dorn, Quality Hill, Elm Street."

Those items told the whole story of the deed that Thomas Van Dorn had
done. If he had felt bees sting before he got his decree, he should have
felt vipers gnawing at his vitals afterward.

But he was free--the burden of matrimony was lifted. He felt that the
whole world of women was his now for the choosing, and of all that
world, he turned in wanton fancy to the beckoning arms of Margaret Fenn.
But the feeling of freedom, the knowledge that he could speak to any
woman as he chose and no one could gainsay him legally, the
consciousness that he had no ties which the law recognized--and with him
law was the synonym of morality--the exuberant sense of relief from a
bondage that was oppressive to him, overbore all the influence of the
town's spirit of wrath in the air about him.

As for the morality of the town and what he regarded as its prudery--he
scorned it. He believed he could live it down; he said in his heart that
it was merely a matter of a few weeks, a few months, or a few years at
most, before they would have some fresh ox to gore and forget all about
him. He was sure that he could play upon the individual self-interest of
the leaders of the community to make them respect him and ignore what he
had done. But what he had done, did not bother him much. It was done.

He seemed to be free, yet was he free?

Now Thomas Van Dorn was thirty-eight years old that autumn. Whether he
loved the woman he had abandoned or not, she was a part of his life.
Counting the courtship during which he and this woman had been
associated closely, nearly ten years of his life, half of the years of
his manhood--and that half the most active and effective part, had been
spent with her. A million threads of memory in his brain led to her;
when he remembered any important event in his life during those ten
years, always the chain of associated thought led back to the image of
her. There she was, fixed in his life; there she smiled at him through
every hour of those ten years of their life, married or as lovers
together.

For whom God had joined, not Joseph Calvin, not Joseph Calvin, sitting
as Judge protem, not Joseph Calvin vested with all the authority of the
great commonwealth in which he lived, could put asunder. That was
curious. At times Thomas Van Dorn was conscious of this phenomenon, that
he was free, yet bound, and that while there was no God, and the law was
the final word, in all considerable things, some way the brain, or the
mind that is fettered to the brain, or the soul that is built upon the
aspect of the mind fettered to the brain, held him tethered to the past.

For our lives are not material, whatever our bodies may be. Our lives
are the accumulations of consciousness, the assembling of our memories,
our affections, our judgments, our aspirations, our weaknesses, our
strength--the vast sum of all our impressions, good or bad, made upon a
material plate called the brain. The brain is of the dust. The
picture--which is a human life--is of the spirit. And the spirit is of
God. And when by whatever laws of chance or greed, or high purpose or
low desire two lives are joined until the cement of years has united the
myriads of daily sensations that make up a segment of these lives, they
are thus joined in the spirit forever.

Now Thomas Van Dorn went about his free life day by day, glorying in his
liberty. But strands of his old life, floating idly and unnoticed
through minutes of his hourly existence, kept tripping him and bothering
him. His meals, his clothes, his fixed habits of work, the manifold
creature comforts that he prized--all the associations of his life with
home--came to him a thousand, thousand times and cut little knife-edged
rents in the fabric of his new freedom.

And he would have said a year before that it was physically impossible
for one child--one small, fair-haired child of five, with pleading face
and eager eyes--to meet a man so often in a given period of time, as
Lila met him. At first he had avoided her; he would duck into stores;
hurry up stairways, or hide himself in groups of men on the sidewalk
when he saw her coming. Then there came a time when he knew that the
little figure was slipping across the street to avoid him because his
presence shamed her with her playmates.

He had never in his heart believed that the child meant much to him. She
was merely part of the chain that held him, and yet now that she was not
of him or his interests, it seemed to Thomas Van Dorn that she made a
piteous figure upon the street, and that the sadness that flitted over
her face when she saw him, in some way reproached him, and yet--what
right had she in him--or why should he let her annoy him, or disturb his
peace and the happiness that his freedom brought. Materially he noticed
that she was well fed, well dressed, and he knew that she was well
housed. What more could she have--but that was absurd. He couldn't wreck
his life for the mere chance that a child should be petted a little.
There was no sense in such a proposition. And Thomas Van Dorn's life was
regulated by sense--common sense--horse sense, he called it.

It is curious--and scores of Tom Van Dorn's friends wondered at it then
and have marveled at it since, that in the six months which elapsed
between his divorce and his remarriage, he did not fathom the
shallowness and pretense of Margaret Fenn. But he did not fathom them.
Her glib talk taken mechanically from cheap philosophy about being what
you think you are, about shifting moral responsibility onto good
intentions, about living for the present and ignoring the past with the
uncertain future, took him in completely. She used to read books to him,
sitting in the glow of her red lamp-shade--a glow that brought out
hidden hints of her splendid feline body, books which soothed his vanity
and dulled his mind. In that day he fancied her his intellectual equal.
He thought her immensely strong-minded, and clear headed. He contrasted
her in thought with the wife he had put away, told Margaret that Laura
was always puling about duty and getting her conscience pinched and
whining about it. They agreed sitting there under the lamp, that they
had been mates in some far-off jungle, that they had been parted and had
been seeking one another through eons, and that when their souls met one
of the equations of the physical universe was solved, and that their
happiness was the adjustment of ages of wrong. She thought him the most
brilliant of men; he deemed her the most wonderful of women, and the
devil checked off two drunken fools in his inventory.

It was in those halcyon days of his courtship of Margaret Fenn, when he
felt the pride of conquest of another soul and body strongly upon him,
that Judge Thomas Van Dorn began to acquire--or perhaps to exhibit
noticeably--the turkey gobbler gait, that ever afterward went with him,
and became famous as the Van Dorn Strut. It was more than mere knee
action--though knee action did characterize it prominently. The strut
properly speaking began at the tip of his hat--his soft, black hat that
sat so cockily upon his head. His head was thrown back as though he had
been pulled by a check-rein. His shoulders swung jauntily--more than
jauntily, call it insolently--as he walked, and his trunk swayed with
some stateliness as his proud hands and legs performed their grand
functions. But withal he bowed and smiled--with much condescension--and
lifted his hat high from his handsome head, and when women passed he
doffed it like a flag in a formal salute, and while his body spelled
complacence, his face never lost the charm and grace and courtesy that
drew men to him, and held them in spite of his faults.

One bitter cold December day, when the wind was blowing sleet down
Market Street, and hardly a passer-by darkened the doors of the stores,
the handsome Judge sailed easily into the Amen Corner, fumbled over the
magazines, picked out a pocketful of cigars from the case, without
calling Mr. Brotherton who was in the rear of the store working upon his
accounts, lighted a cigar, and stood looking out of the frosted window
at the deserted gray windy street, utterly ignoring the presence of
Captain Morton who was pretending to be deeply buried in the _National
Tribune_, but who was watching the Judge and trying to summon courage
to speak. The Judge unbuttoned his modish gray coat that nearly reached
his heels and put his hands behind him for a moment, as he puffed and
pondered--apparently debating something.

"Judge," said the Captain suddenly and then the Captain's courage fell
and he added, "Bad morning."

"Yes," acquiesced the Judge from his abstraction. In a long pause that
followed, Captain Morton swallowed at least a peck of Adam's apples that
kept coming up to choke him, and then he cleared his throat and spoke:

"Tom--Tom Van Dorn--look around here." He lowered his voice and went on,
"I want to talk to you." The Captain edged over on the bench.

"Sit down here a minute--I've been wanting to see you for a month."
Captain Morton spoke all but in a whisper. The Adam's apple kept
strangling him. The Judge saw that the old man was wrestling with some
heavy problem. He turned, and looking down at the little wizened man,
asked: "Well, Captain?"

The Captain moistened his lips, patted his toes on the floor, and
twirled his fingers. He took a deep breath and said: "Tom, I've known
you since you were twenty-one years old. Do you remember how we took you
in the first night you came to town--me and mother? before the hotel was
done, eh?" A smile on the Judge's face emboldened the Captain. "You've
got brains, Tom--lots of brains--I often say Tom Van Dorn will sit in
the big chair at the White House yet--what say? Well, Tom--" Now there
was the place to say it. But the Captain's Adam's apple bobbed
convulsively in a second silence. He decided to take a fresh start:
"Tom, you're a sensible man--? I says to myself I'm going to have a
plain talk to that man. He's smart; he'll appreciate it. Just the other
day--George back there, and John Kollander and Dick Bowman and old man
Adams, and Joe Calvin, and Kyle Perry were in here talking and I
says--Gentlemen, that boy's got brains--lots of brains--eh? and he's a
prince; 'y gory a prince, that's what Tom Van Dorn is, and I can go to
him--I can talk to him--what say?" The Captain was on the brink again.
Slowly there mantled over the face of the prince the gray scum of a
fear. And the scar on his forehead flashed crimson. The Captain saw that
he had been anticipated. He began patting his toes on the floor. Judge
Van Dorn's face was set in a cement of resistance.

"Well?" barked the Judge. The little man's lips dried, he smiled weakly,
and licked his lips and said: "It was about my sprocket--my Household
Horse--I says, Tom Van Dorn understands it if you gentlemen don't and
some day him and me will talk it over and 'y gory--he'll buy some
stock--he'll back me."

The Captain's nervous voice had lifted and he was talking so that the
clerk and Mr. Brotherton both in the back part of the store might hear.
The cement of the Judge's countenance cracked in a smile, but the gray
mantle of fear still fluttered across his eyes.

"All right, Captain," he answered, "some other time--not now--I'm in a
hurry," and went strutting out into the storm.

Mr. Brotherton with his moon face shining into the ledger laughed a
great clacking laugh and got up from his stool to come to the cigar
case, saying, "Well, say--Cap--if you'd a' went on with what you started
out to say, I'd a' give fi' dollars--say, I'd a' made it ten
dollars--say!" And he laughed again a laugh that seemed to set all the
celluloid in the plush covered, satin lined toilet cases on the new
counter a-flutter. He walked down the store with elephantine tread, as
he laughed, and then the door opened and Dr. Nesbit came in. Five months
had put a perceptible bow into his shoulders, and an occasional cast of
uncertainty into his twinkling eyes.

Mr. Brotherton called half down the store, "Say, Doc--you should have
been here a minute ago, and seen the Captain bristle up to Tom Van Dorn
about his love affair and then get cold feet and try to sell him some
Household Horse stock." The Captain grinned sheepishly, the Doctor
patted the Captain affectionately on the shoulder and chirped.

"So you went after him, did you, Ezry?" The loose skin of his face
twitched, "Poor Tom--packing up his career in a petticoat and going
forth to fuss with God--no sense--no sense," piped the Doctor, glancing
over the headlines in his _Star_. The Captain, still clinging to
the subject that had been too much for him, remarked: "Doc--don't you
think some one ought to tell him?" The Doctor put down his paper,
stroked his pompadour and looking over his glasses, answered:

"Ezry--if some one hasn't told him--no one ever can. I tried to tell him
once myself. I talked pretty middlin' plain, Ezry." He was speaking
softly, then he piped out, "But what a man's heart doesn't tell him, his
friends can't. Still, Ezry, a strong friend is often a good tonic for a
weak heart." The Doctor looked at the Captain, then concluded: "That was
a brave, kind act you tried to do--and I warrant you got it to him--some
way. He's a keen one--Ezry--a mighty keen one; and he understood."

Mr. Brotherton went back to his ledger; the Doctor plunged into the
_Star_, the Captain folded up his newspaper and began studying the
trinkets in the holiday stock in the show case under the new books. A
comb and brush with tortoise shell backs seemed to arrest his eyes.
"Doc," he mused, "Christmas never comes that I don't think
of--her--mother! I guess I'd just about be getting that comb and brush
for her." The Doctor casually looked through the show case and saw what
had attracted the Captain. "Doc," again the Captain spoke, bending over
the case with his face turned from his auditor: "You're a doctor and are
supposed to know lots. Tell me this: How does a man break it to a woman
when he wants to leave her--eh?" Without waiting for an answer the
Captain went on: "And this is what puzzles me--how does he get used to
another one--with that one still living? You tell me that. I'd think
he'd be scared all the time that he would do something the way his first
wife had trained him not to. Of course," meditated the Captain, "right
at first, I suppose a man may feel a little coltish and all. But, Doc,
honest and true, when mother first left I kind of thought--well, I used
to enjoy swearing a little before we was married, and I says to myself I
guess I may as well have a damn or two as I go along--but, Doc, I can't
do it. Eh? Every time I set off the fireworks--she fizzles; I can see
mother looking at me that way." The old man went on earnestly: "Tell me,
Doc, you're a smart man--how Tom Van Dorn can do it. What say? 'Y gory
I'd be scared--right now! And if I thought I had to get used all over
again to another woman, and her ways of doing things--say of setting her
bread Friday night, and having a hot brick for her feet and putting her
hair in her teeth when she done it up, and dosing the children with
sassafras tea in spring--I'd just naturally take to the woods, eh? And
as for learning over again all the peculiarities of a new set of kin and
what they all like to eat and died of, and how they all treated their
first wives, and who they married--Doc? Doc?" The Captain shook a
dubious and doleful head. "Fourteen years, Doc," sighed the Captain.
"Pretty happy years--children coming on,--trouble visiting us with the
rest; sorrow--happiness--skimping and saving; her a-raking and scraping
to make a good appearance, and make things do; me trying one thing and
another, to make our fortune and her always kind and encouraging, and
hopeful; death standing between us and both of us sitting there by the
kitchen stove trying to make up some kind of prayer to comfort the
other. Fourteen years of it, Doc--her and me, and her so patient, so
forbearing--Doc--you're a smart man--tell me, Doc, how did Tom Van Dorn
get around to actually doing it? What say?"

The Doctor waved his folded paper in an impatient gesture at the
Captain.

"We are all products of our yesterdays, Ezry; we are what we were, and
we will be what we were. Man is queer. Sometimes out of the depth of him
a god rises--sometimes it's a beast. I've sat by the bed and seen life
gasp into being; I've stood in the ranks and fought with men as you
have, and have seen them fight and then again have seen them turn tail
like cowards. I have sat by the bed and seen life sigh into the dust.
What is life--what is the God that quickens and directs us,--why and how
and whence?--Ezry Morton, man--I don't know. And as for Tom--into that
roaring hell of lust and lying and cheap parching pride where he is
plunging--why, Ezry, I could almost cry for the fool; the damned
beforehand fool!"

As the Doctor went whistling homeward through the storm that winter
night he wondered how many more months the black spell of grief and
despair would cover his daughter. Five months had passed since that
summer day when her home had fallen. He knew how tragic her struggle was
to fit herself into her new environment. She was dwelling, but not
living in the Nesbit home. It was the Nesbit home; a kindly abode, but
not her home. Her home was gone. The severed roots of her life kept
stirring in her memory--in her heart, and outwardly, her spirit showed a
withered and unhappy being, trying to rebuild life, to readjust itself
after the shock that all but kills. The Doctor realized what an agony
the new growth was bringing, and that night, stirred somewhat to somber
meditation by Captain Morton's reflections, the Doctor's tune was a
doleful little tune as he whistled into the wind. Excepting Kenyon
Adams, who still came daily bringing his violin and was rapidly learning
all that she knew of the theory of music, Laura Van Dorn had no interest
in life outside of her family. When the Adamses came to dinner as
frequently they came--Laura seemed to feel no constraint with them.
Grant had even made her laugh with stories of Dick Bowman's struggles to
be a red card socialist, and to vote the straight socialist ticket and
still keep in ward politics in which he had been a local heeler for
nearly twenty years. Laura was interested in the organization of the
unions, and though the Doctor carped at it and made fun of Grant, it was
largely to stir up a discussion in which his daughter would take a vital
interest.

Grant was getting something more than a local reputation in labor
circles as an agitator, and was in demand as an organizer in different
parts of the valley. He worked at his trade more or less, having rigged
up a steel device on the stump of his right forearm that would hold a
saw, a plane or a hammer. But he was no longer a boss carpenter at the
mines. His devotion to the men and in the work they were doing seemed to
the Nesbits to awaken in their daughter a new interest in life, and so
they made many obvious excuses to have the Adamses about the Nesbit
home.

Kenyon was growing into a pale, dreamy child with wonderful eyes,
lustrous, deep, thoughtful and kind. He was music mad, and read all the
poetry in the Nesbit library--and the Doctor loved poetry as many men
love wine. Hero-tales and mythology, romances and legends Kenyon read
day after day between his hours of practice, and for diversion the boy
sat before the fire or in the sun of a chilly afternoon, retailing them
in such language as little Lila could understand. So in the black night
of sorrow that enveloped her, Laura Nesbit often spent an hour with
Grant Adams, and talked of much that was near her heart.

He was strong, sometimes she thought him coarse and raw. He talked the
jargon of the agitator with the enthusiasm of a dervish and the
vernacular of the mine and the shop and the forge. But in him she could
see the fire of a mad consuming passion for humanity.

During those days of shame and misery, when the old interests of life
were dying in her heart, interests upon which she had built since her
childhood--the interests of home, of children, of wifehood and
motherhood, to which in joy she had consecrated herself, she listened
often to Grant Adams. Until there came into her life slowly and feebly,
and almost without her conscious realization of it, a new vision, a new
hope, a new path toward usefulness that makes for the only happiness.

As the Doctor went whistling into the storm that December night, he went
over in his mind rather seriously the meaning and the direction and the
final outcome of those small, unconscious buddings of interest in social
problems that he saw putting forth in his daughter's mind. Above
everything else, he was not a reformer. He hated the reformer type. But
he preferred to see her interested in the work of Grant Adams--even
though he considered Grant mildly cracked and felt that his growing
power in the valley was dangerous--rather than to see her under the
black pall that enveloped her.

It was early in the evening as the Doctor went up the hill. He passed
Judge Van Dorn, striding along and saw him turn into Congress Street to
visit his lady love. The Judge carried a large roll of architect's plans
under his arm. The Doctor nodded to the Judge, and the Judge rather
proud that he was free and did not have to slink to his lady's bower,
returned a gracious good evening, and his tall, straight figure went
prancing down the street. When the Doctor entered his home, he found
Laura and Lila sitting by the open fire. The child was in her night gown
and they were discussing Santa Claus. Lila was saying:

"Kenyon told me Santa Claus was your father?"

Before the mother could reply the little voice went on:

"I wonder if my Santa Claus will come this year--will he, mother?--Why
doesn't father ever come to us, mother--why doesn't he play with me when
I see him?"

Now there is the story of the absent one that parents tell--the legend
about God and Heaven and the angels--a beautiful and comforting legend
it is for small minds, and being merciful, God may in His own way bring
us to realize it, in deed and in truth. When the lonely father or the
broken hearted mother tells the desolate child that legend, childhood
finds surcease there for its sorrow. But when there is no God, no
Heaven, no angels to whom the absent one has gone, what then do deserted
mothers say?--or dishonored fathers answer? What surcease for its sorrow
has the little lonely, aching heart in that sad case? What then, "ye
merry gentlemen that nothing may dismay"?



CHAPTER XXV

IN WHICH WE SEE TWO TEMPLES AND THE CONTENTS THEREOF


It was an old complaint in Harvey that the Harvey _Tribune_ was too
much of a bulletin of the doings of the Adams family and their friends.
But when a man sets all the type on a paper, writes all the editorials
and gets all the news he may be pardoned if he takes first such news as
is near his hand. Thus in the May that followed events set down in the
last chapter we find in the _Tribune_ a few items of interest to
the readers of this narrative. We learn for instance that Captain Ezra
Morton who is introducing the Nonesuch Sewing Machine, paid his friends
in Prospect school district a visit; that Jasper Adams has been promoted
to superintendent of deliveries in Wright & Perry's store; that Kenyon
Adams entertained his friends in the Fifth Grade of the South Harvey
schools with a violin solo on the last day of school; that Grant Adams
had been made assistant to the secretary of the National Building Trades
Association in South Harvey; that Mr. George Brotherton with Miss Emma
Morton and Martha and Ruth had enjoyed a pleasant visit with the Adamses
Sunday afternoon and had resumed an enjoyable buggy ride after partaking
of a chicken dinner. In the editorial column were some reflections
evidently in Mr. Left's most lucid style and a closing paragraph
containing this: "Happiness and character," said the Peach Blow
Philosopher, "are inseparable: but how easy it is to be happy in a
great, beautiful house; or to be unhappy if it comes to that in a great,
beautiful house: Environment may influence character; but all the good
are not poor, nor all the rich bad. Therefore, the Peach Blow
Philosopher takes to the woods. He is willing to leave something to the
Lord Almighty and the continental congress. Selah!"

As Dr. Nesbit sat reading the items above set forth upon the broad new
veranda of the residence that he was so proud to call his home, he
smiled. It was late afternoon. He had done a hard day's work--some of it
among the sick, some of it among the needy--the needy in the Doctor's
bright lexicon being those who tried to persuade him that they needed
political offices. "I cheer up the sick, encourage the needy, pray for
'em both, and sometimes for their own good have to lie to 'em all," he
used to say in that day when the duties of his profession and the care
of his station as a ruling boss in politics were oppressing him. Dr.
Nesbit played politics as a game. But he played always to win.

"Old Linen Pants is a bland old scoundrel," declared Public Opinion,
about the corridors of the political hotel at the capital. "But he is as
ruthless as iron, as smooth as oil, and as bitter as poison when he sets
his head on a proposition. Buy?--he buys men in all the ways the devil
teaches them to sell--offices, power, honor, cash in hand, promises,
prestige--anything that a man wants, Old Linen Pants will trade for, and
then get that man. Humorous old devil, too," quoth Public Opinion.
"Laughs, quotes scripture, throws in a little Greek philosophy, and
knows all the new stories, but never forgets whose play it is, nor what
cards are out." Thus was he known to others.

But as he remained longer and longer in the game, as his fourth term as
state Senator began to lengthen, the game here and there began to lose
in his mouth something of its earlier savor. That afternoon as he sat on
the veranda overlooking the lawn shaded by the elm trees of his greatest
pride, Dr. Nesbit was discoursing to Mrs. Nesbit, who was sewing and
paid little heed to his animadversions; it was a soliloquy rather than a
conversation--a soliloquy accompanied by an obligate of general mental
disagreement from the wife of his bosom, who expressed herself in sniffs
and snorts and scornful staccato interjections as the soliloquy ran on.
Here are a few bars of it transcribed for beginners:

From the Doctor's solo: "Heigh-ho--ho hum--Two United States Senators,
one slightly damaged Governor, marked down, five congressmen and three
liars, one supreme court justice, also a liar, a working interest in a
second, and a slight equity in a third; organization of the Senate,
speaker of the house,--forty liars and thirty thieves--that's my
political assets, my dear."

"I wish you'd quit politics, Doctor, and attend to your practice," this
by way of accompaniment from Mrs. Nesbit. The Doctor was in a playful
and facetious mood that pleasant afternoon.

He leaned back in his chair, reached up in the air with outstretched
arms, clapped his hands three times, gayly, kicked his shoe-heels three
times at the end of his short little legs, smiled and proceeded:
"Liabilities of James Nesbit, dealer in public grief, licensed dispenser
of private joy, purveyor of Something Equally Good, item one, forty-nine
gentlemen who think they've been promised thirty-six jobs--but they are
mistaken, they have been told only that I'll do what I can for
them--which is true; item two, three hundred friends who want something
and may ask at any minute; item three, seventy-five men who will be or
have been primed up by the loathed opposition to demand jobs; item four,
Tom Van Dorn who is as sure as guns to think in about a year he has to
have a vindication, by running for another term; item five--"

"He can't have it," from Mrs. Nesbit, and then the piping voice went on:

"Item six, a big, husky fight in Greeley county for the maharaja of
Harvey and the adjoining provinces." A deep sigh rose from the Doctor,
then followed more clapping of hands and kicking of heels and some
slapping of suspenders, as the voices of Kenyon and Lila came into the
veranda from the lawn, and the Doctor cast up his accounts: "Let's see
now--naught's a naught and figure's a figure and carry six, and subtract
the profits and multiply the trouble and you have a busted community.
Correct," he piped, "Bedelia, my dear, observe a busted community. Your
affectionate lord and master, kind husband, indulgent father, good
citizen gone but not forgotten. How are the mighty fallen."

"Doctor," snapped Mrs. Nesbit, "don't be a fool; tell me, James, will
Tom Van Dorn want to run again?"

Making a basket with his hands for the back of his head the Doctor
answered slowly, "Ho-ho-ho! Oh, I don't know--I should say--yes. He'll
just about have to run--for a Vindication."

"Well, you'll not support him! I say you'll not support him," Mrs.
Nesbit decided, and the Doctor echoed blandly:

"Then I'll not support him. Where's Laura?" he asked gently.

"She went down to South Harvey to see about that kindergarten she's been
talking of. She seems almost cheerful about the way Kenyon is getting on
with his music. She says the child reads as well as she now and plays
everything on the violin that she can play on the piano. Doctor," added
Mrs. Nesbit meditatively, "now about those oriental rugs we were going
to put upstairs--don't you suppose we could take the money we were going
to put there and help Laura with that kindergarten? Perhaps she'd take a
real interest in life through those children down there." The wife
hesitated and asked, "Would you do it?"

The Doctor drummed his chair arm thoughtfully, then put his thumbs in
his suspenders. "Greater love than this hath no woman shown, my
dear--that she gives up oriental rugs for a kindergarten--by all means
give it to her."

"James, Lila still grieves for her father."

"Yes," answered the Doctor sadly, "and Henry Fenn was in the office this
morning begging me to give him something that would kill his thirst."

The doctor brought his hands down emphatically on his chair arms. "Duty,
Bedelia, is the realest obligation in the world. Here are Lila and Henry
Fenn. What a miserable lot of tommy rot about soul-mating Tom and this
Fenn woman conjured up to get away from their duty to child and husband.
They have swapped a place with the angels for a right to wallow with the
hogs; that's what all their fine talking amounts to." The Doctor's
shrill voice rose. "They don't fool me. They don't fool any one; they
don't even fool each other. I tell you, my dear," he chirped as he rose
from his chair, "I never saw one of those illicit love affairs in life
or heard of it in literature that was not just plain, old fashion,
downright, beastly selfishness. Duty is a greater thing in life than
what the romance peddlers call love."

The Doctor stood looking at his wife questioningly--waiting for some
approving response. She kept on sewing. "Oh you Satterthwaites with
hearts of marble," he cried as he patted the cast iron waves of her hair
and went chuckling into the house.

Mrs. Nesbit was aroused from her reverie by the rattle of the Adams
buggy. When it drew up to the curb Laura and Grant climbed out and came
up the walk. Laura wore a simple summer dress that brought out all the
exquisite coloring of her skin, and made her light hair shine in a kind
of haloed glory. It had been months since the mother had seen in her
daughter's face such a smile as the daughter gave to the man beside
her--red-faced, angular, hard muscled, in his dingy blue carpenter's
working clothes with his measuring rule and pencil sticking from his
apron pocket, and with his crippled arm tipped by its steel tool-holder.

"Grant is going to take that box of Lila's toys down to the
kindergarten, mother," she explained.

When they had disappeared up the stairs Mrs. Nesbit could hear them on
the floor above and soon the heavy feet of the man carrying a burden
were on the stairs and in another minute the young woman was saying:

"Leave them by the teacher's desk, Grant," and as he untied the horse,
she called, "Now you will get that door in to-night without fail--won't
you? I'll be down and we'll put in the south partition in the morning."
As she turned from the door she greeted her mother with a smile and
dropped wearily into a chair.

"Oh mother," she cried, "it's going to be so fine. Grant has the room
nearly finished and he's interesting the wives of the union men in South
Harvey and George Brotherton is going to give us every month all the
magazines and periodicals that are not returnable and George brought
down a lot of Christmas numbers of illustrated papers, and we're cutting
the bright pictures out and pinning them on the wall and George himself
worked with us all afternoon. George says he is going to make every one
of his lodges contribute monthly to the kindergarten--he belongs to
everything but the Ladies of the G. A. R.--" she smiled and her mother
smiled with her,--"and Grant says the unions are going to pay half of
the salary of the extra teacher. That makes it easier."

"Well, Laura, don't you think--"

But her daughter interrupted her. "Now, mother," she went on, "don't you
stop me till I'm done--for this is the best yet. Morty Sands came down
to-day to help--" Laura laughed a little at her mother's surprised
glance, "and Morty promised to give us $200 for the kindergarten just as
soon as he can worm it out of his father for expense money." She drew in
a deep, tired breath, "There," she sighed, "that's all."

Her own child came up and the mother caught the little girl and began
playing with her, tying her hair ribbon, smoothing out her skirts,
rubbing a dirt speck from her nose, and cuddling the little one
rapturously in her arms. When the two women were alone, Laura sat on the
veranda steps with her head resting upon her mother's knee. The mother
touched the soft hair and said: "Laura, you are very tired."

"Yes, mother," the daughter answered. "The mothers are so hungry for
help down there in South Harvey, and," she added a little drearily--"so
am I; so we are speaking a common language."

She nestled her head in the lap above her. "And I'm going to find
something worth doing--something fine and good."

She watched the lazy clouds, "You know I'm glad about Morty Sands. Grant
thinks Morty sincerely wants to amount to something real--to help and be
more than a money grubber! If the old spider would just let him out of
the web!" The mother stared at her daughter a second.

"Well, Laura, about the only money grubbing Morty seems to be doing is
grubbing money out of his father to maintain his race horse."

The daughter smiled and the mother went on with her work. "Mother, did
you know that little Ruth Morton is going to begin taking vocal lessons
this summer?" The mother shook her head. "Grant says Mr. Brotherton's
paying for it. He thinks she has a wonderful voice."

"Voice--" cut in Mrs. Nesbit, "why Laura, the child's only
fourteen--voice--!"

Laura answered, "Yes, mother, but you've never heard her sing; she has a
beautiful, deep, contralto voice, but the treble above 'C' is a trifle
squeaky, and Mr. Brotherton says he's 'going to have it oiled'; so she's
to 'take vocal' regularly."

On matters musical Mrs. Nesbit believed she had a right to know the
whole truth, so she asked: "Where does Mr. Brotherton come in, Laura?"

"Oh, mother, he's always been a kind of god-father to those girls. You
know as well as I that Emma's been playing with that funeral choir of
yours and Mr. Brotherton's all these years, only because he got her into
it, and Grant says he's kept Mrs. Herdicker from discharging Martha for
two years, just by sheer nerve. Of course Grant gets it from Mr.
Brotherton but Grant says Martha is so pretty she's such a trial to Mrs.
Herdicker! I like Martha, but, mother, she just thinks she should be
carried round on a chip because of her brown eyes and red hair and dear
little snubby nose. Grant says Mr. Brotherton is trying to get the money
someway to float the Captain's stock company and put his Household Horse
on the market. I think Mr. Brotherton is a fine man, mother--he's always
doing things to help people."

Mrs. Nesbit folded up her work, and began to rise. "George Brotherton,
Laura," said her mother as she stood at full length looking down upon
her child, "has a voice of an angel, and perhaps the heart of a god, but
he will eat onions and during the twenty years I've been singing with
him I've never known him to speak a correct sentence. Common,
Laura--common as dishwater."

As Laura Van Dorn talked the currents of life eddying about her were
reflected in what she said. But she could not know the spirit that was
moving the currents; for with a neighborly shyness those who were
gathering about her were careful to seem casual in their kindness, and
she could not know how deeply they were moved to help her. Kindergartens
were hardly in George Brotherton's line; yet he untied old bundles of
papers, ransacked his shop and brought a great heap of old posters and
picture papers to her. Captain Morton brought a beloved picture of his
army Colonel to adorn the room, and deaf John Kollander, who had a low
opinion of the ignorant foreigners and the riff-raff and scum of
society, which Laura was trying to help, wished none the less to help
her, and came down one day with a flag for the schoolroom and insisted
upon making a speech to the tots about patriotism. He made nothing clear
to them but he made it quite clear to himself that they were getting the
flag as a charity, which they little deserved, and never would return.
And to Laura he conveyed the impression that he considered her mission a
madness, but for her and the sorrow which she was fighting, he had
appreciative tenderness. He must have impressed his emotions upon his
wife for she came down and talked elaborately about starting a cooking
school in the building, and after planning it all out, went away and
forgot it. The respectable iron gray side-whiskers of Ahab Wright once
relieved the dingy school room, when Ahab looked in and the next day
Kyle Perry on behalf of the firm of Wright & Perry came trudging into
the kindergarten with a huge box which he said contained a
p-p-p-p-p-pat-a-p-p-p-pppat-pat--here he swallowed and started all
over and finally said p-p-patent, and then started out on a long
struggle with the word swing, but he never finished it, and until Laura
opened the box she thought Mr. Perry had brought her a soda fountain.
But Nathan Perry, his son, who came wandering down to the place one
afternoon with Anne Sands, put up the swing, and suggested a half dozen
practical devices for the teacher to save time and labor in her work,
while Anne Sands in her teens looked on as one who observes a major god
completing a bungling job of the angels on a newly contrived world.

Sometimes coming home from his day's work Amos Adams would drop in for a
chat with the tired teacher, and he refreshed her curiously with his
quiet manner and his unsure otherworldliness, and his tough, unyielding
optimism. He had no lectures for the children. He would watch them at
their games, try to play with them himself in a pathetic, old-fashioned
way, telling them fairy stories of an elder and a grimmer day than ours.
Sometimes Doctor Nesbit, coming for Laura in his buggy, would find Amos
in the school room, and they would fall to their everlasting debate upon
the reality of time and space with the Doctor enjoying hugely his
impious attempt to couch the terminology of abstract philosophy in his
Indiana vernacular.

Lida Bowman bringing her little brood sometimes would sit silently
watching the children, and look at Laura as if about to speak, but she
always went away with her mind unrelieved. Violet Hogan, who brought her
beruffled and bedizened eldest, made up for Mrs. Bowman's reticence.
Moreover Violet brought other mothers and there was much talk on the
topics of the day--talk that revealed to Laura Nesbit a whole philosophy
that was new to her--the helpfulness of the poor to the poor.

But if others brought to Laura Van Dorn material strength and spiritual
comfort in her enterprise, Grant Adams waved the wand of his steel claw
over the kindergarten and made it live. For he was a power in the Wahoo
Valley. Her friends knew that his word gave the kindergarten the
endorsement of every union there and thus brought to it mothers with
children and with problems as well as children, whom Laura Van Dorn
otherwise never could have reached. The unions made a small donation
monthly to the work which gave them the feeling of proprietorship in the
place and the mothers and children came in self-respect. But if Grant
gave life to the kindergarten, he got more than he gave. For the
restraining hand of Laura Van Dorn always was upon him, and his friends
in the Valley came to realize her friendship for them and their cause.
They knew that many a venture of Grant's Utopia would have been a wild
goose chase but for the wisdom of her counsel. And the two came to rely
upon each other unconsciously.

So in the ugly little building near Dooley's saloon in South Harvey the
two towns met and worked together; and all to heal a broken heart, a
bruised life. From out of the unexplored realm where our dreams are
blooming into the fruit of reality one evening came Mr. Left with this
message: "Whoever in the joy of service gives part of himself to the
vast sum of sacrificial giving that has remained unspent, since man
began to walk erect, is adding to humanity's heritage, is building an
unseen temple wherein mankind is sheltered from its own inhumanity. This
sum of sacrificial giving is the temple not made with hands!"

Now the foundations of that part of the temple not made with hands in
South Harvey, may be said to have been laid and the watertable set on
the day when Laura Van Dorn first laughed the bell-chime laugh of her
girlhood. And that day came well along in the summer. It was twilight
and the Doctor was sitting with his wife and daughter on their east
veranda when Morty Sands came flitting across the lawn like a striped
miller moth in a broad-banded outing suit. He waved gayly to the little
company in the veranda and came up the steps at two bounds, though he
was a man of thirty-eight and just the least bit weazened.

"Well," he said, with his greetings scarcely off his lips, "I came to
tell you I've sold the colt!"

The chorus repeated his announcement as a question.

"Yes, sold the colt," solemnly responded Morty. And then added, "Father
just wouldn't! I tried to get that two hundred in various ways--adding
it to my cigar bill; slipping it in on my bill for raiment at Wright &
Perry's, but father pinned Kyle down, and he stuttered out the truth. I
tried to get the horse-doctor to charge the two hundred into his bill
and when father uncovered that--I couldn't wait any longer so I've sold
the colt!"

"Well, Morty, what for in Heaven's name?" asked Laura. Morty began
fumbling in his pockets before he spoke. He did not smile, but as his
hand came out of an inside pocket, he said gently: "For two hundred and
seventeen dollars and a half! I fought an hour for that half dollar!" He
handed it to the Doctor, saying: "It's for the kindergarten. You keep it
for her, Doctor Jim!"

When Morty had gone Mrs. Nesbit said: "What queer blood that Sands blood
is, Doctor. There is Mary Sands's heart in that boy, and Daniel has bred
nothing into him. They must have been a queer breed a generation or two
back!"

The Doctor did not answer. He took the money which Morty had given to
him, handed it to Laura and said: "And now my dear, accept this token of
devotion from Sir Mortimer Sands, of the golden heart and wooden head!"
And then Laura laughed, not in derision, not in merriment even, but in
sheer joy that life could mean so much. And as she laughed the temple
not made with hands began to rise strong and beautiful in her heart and
in the hearts of all who touched her.

How they would have sneered at Laura Van Dorn's niche in the temple,
those practical folk who helped her because they loved her. How George
Brotherton would have laughed; with what suspicion John Kollander would
have viewed the kindergarten, if he had been told that it was part of a
temple. For he had no sort of an idea of letting the rag-tag and
bob-tail of South Harvey into a temple; he knew very well they deserved
no temple. They were shiftless and wicked. How Wright & Perry would have
sniffed at any one who would have called the dreary little shack, where
Laura Van Dorn held forth, a temple. For they all pretended to see only
the earthly dimensions of material things. But in their hearts they knew
the truth. It is the American way to mask the beauty of our nobler
selves, or real selves under a gibing deprecation. So we wear the veneer
of materialism, and beneath it we are intense idealists. And woe to him
who reckons to the contrary!

Perhaps the town's views on temples in general and Laura's temple in
particular, was summed up by Hildy Herdicker, Prop., when she read Mr.
Left's reflections in the _Tribune_. "Temples--eh?--temples not
made with hands--is it? Well, Miss Laura can get what comfort she can
out of her baby shop; but me? Every man to his trade as Kyle Perry said
when he tried to buy a dozen scissors and got a sewing machine--me?--I
get my heart balm selling hats, and if others gets theirs coddling
brats--'tis the good God's wisdom that makes us different and no
business of mine so long as they bring grist to the profit mill! The
trouble with their temples is that they don't pay taxes!"

So in the matter of putting up temples--particularly in the matter of
erecting temples not made with hands, the town worked blindly. But so
far as Laura Van Dorn was concerned, while she was working on her part
of the temple, she had the vision of youth still in her heart. Youth
indeed is that part of every soul that life has not tarnished, and if we
keep our faith, hold ourselves true and bow to no circumstance however
arrogant it may be, youth still will abide in our hearts through many
years. Now Laura, who was born Nesbit and became Van Dorn, was taking up
life with that large charity that comes to every unconquered soul. She
held her illusions, she believed in herself, and youth shone like a
beacon from her face and glowed in her body.

For Thomas Van Dorn, who had been her husband, she had trained herself
to hold no unkind thought. She even taught Lila--when the child asked
for him--to harbor no rancor toward him. So the child turned to her
father when they met, the natural face of a child; it was a sad little
face that he saw--though no one else ever saw it sad; but the child
smiled when she spoke and looked gently at him, in the hope that some
day he would come back to her.

Now it happened that on the night when Laura's laugh first echoed
through her temple another rising temple witnessed a ceremony entirely
befitting its use.

That night--late that night when a pale moon was climbing over the
valley below the town, Margaret and her lover stood alone in the great
unfinished house which they were building.

Through the uncurtained windows the moonlight was streaming, making
white splashes upon the floors. Across the plank pathways they wandered
locating the halls, the great living-room, the spacious dining-room, the
airy, comfortable bedrooms exposed to the south, the library, the
kitchen, and the ballroom on the third floor. It was to be a grand
house--this house of Van Dorn. And in their fancy the man and the woman
called it the temple of love erected as an altar to the love god whom
they worshiped. They peopled it with many a merry company. They saw the
rich and the great in the dining-room. They pictured in this vision
pleasure capering through the ball room. They enshrined wisdom and
contentment in the library. In the great living-room they installed
elegance and luxury, and hospitality beckoned with ostentatious pride
for the coming of such of the nobility as Harvey and its environs and
the surrounding state and Nation could produce. A grand, proud temple, a
rich, beautiful temple, a strong, masterful temple would be this temple
of love.

"And, dearest," said he--the master of the house, as he held her in his
arms at the foot of the stairway that swept down into the broad hall
like the ghost of some baronial grandeur, "dearest, what do we care what
they say! We have built it for ourselves--just for you, I want it--just
for you; not friends, not children, not any one but you. This is to be
our temple of love."

She kissed him, and whined wordless assent. Then she whispered: "Just
you--you, you, and if man, woman or child come to mar our joy or to
lessen our love, God pity the intruder." And like a flaming torch she
fluttered in his arms.

The summer breeze came caressingly through an unclosed window into the
temple. It seemed--the summer breeze which fell upon their cheeks--like
the benediction of some pagan god; their god of love perhaps. For the
grand house, the rich house, the beautiful, masterful temple of their
mad love was made for summer breezes.

But when the rain came, and the storms fell and beat upon that house,
they found that it was a house built upon sand. But while it stood and
even when it fell there was a temple, a real temple, a temple made with
hands--a temple that all Harvey and all the world could understand!



CHAPTER XXVI

DR. NESBIT STARTS ON A LONG UPWARD BUT DEVIOUS JOURNEY


The Van Dorns opened their new house without ostentation the day after
their marriage in October. There was no reception; the handsomest hack
in town waited for them at the railway station, as they alighted from
the Limited from Chicago. They rode down Market Street, up the Avenue to
Elm Crest Place, drove to the new house, and that night it was lighted.
That was all the ceremony of housewarming which the place had. The Van
Dorns knew what the town thought of them. They made it plain what they
thought of the town. They allowed no second rate people to crowd into
the house as guests while the first rate people smiled, and the third
rate people sniffed. The Judge had some difficulty keeping Mrs. Van Dorn
to their purpose. She was impatient--having nothing in particular to
think about, and being proud of her furniture. Naturally, there were
calls--a few. And they were returned with some punctiliousness. But the
people whom the Van Dorns were anxious to see did not call. In the
winter, the Van Dorns went to Florida for a fortnight, and put up at a
hotel where they could meet a number of persons of distinction whom they
courted, and whom the Van Dorns pressed to visit them. When she came
home from the winter's social excursion, Mrs. Van Dorn went straight to
the establishment of Mrs. Herdicker, Prop., and bought a hat; and
bragged to Mrs. Herdicker of having met certain New York social
dignitaries in Florida whose names were as familiar to the Harvey women
as the names of their hired girl's beaux! Then having started this tale
of her social prowess on its career, Margaret was more easily restrained
by her husband from offering the house to the Plymouth Daughters for an
entertainment. It was in that spring that Margaret began--or perhaps
they both began to put on what George Brotherton called the "Van Dorn
remnant sale." The parade passed down Market Street every morning at
eight thirty. It consisted of one handsome rather overdressed man and
one beautiful rather conspicuously dressed woman. On fair days they rode
in a rakish-looking vehicle known as a trap, and in bad weather they
walked through Market Street. At the foot of the stairs leading to the
Judge's office they parted with all the voltage of affection permitted
by the canons of propriety and at five in the evening, Mrs. Van Dorn
reappeared on Market Street, and at the foot of the stairs before the
Judge's office, the parade resumed its course.

"Well--say," said George Brotherton, "right smart little line of staple
and fancy love that firm is carrying this season. Rather nice titles
too; good deal of full calf bindings--well, say--glancing at the
illustrations, I should like to read the text. But man--say--hear your
Uncle George! With me it's always a sign of low stock when I put it all
in the window and the show case! Well, say--" and he laughed like the
ripping of an earthquake. "It certainly looks to me as if they were
moving the line for a quick turnover at a small profit! Well say!"

But without the complicated ceremony required to show the town that he
was pleased with his matrimonial bargain, the handsome Judge was a busy
man. Every time he saw Dr. Nesbit toddling up or down Market Street, or
through South Harvey, or in the remotenesses of Foley or Magnus, the
Judge whipped up his energies. For he knew that the Doctor never lost a
fight through overconfidence. So the Judge, alone for the first time in
his career, set out to bring about his nomination, where a nomination
meant an election. Now a judge who showed the courage of his
convictions, as Judge Van Dorn had shown his courage in forcing
settlements in the mine accident cases and in similar matters of
occasional interest, was rather more immediately needed by the mine
owners of Harvey than the political boss, who merely used the mine
owner's money to encompass his own ends, and incidentally work out the
owner's salvation. Daniel Sands played both sides, which was all that
Van Dorn could ask. But when the Doctor saw that Sands was giving secret
aid to Van Dorn, the Doctor's heart was hot within him. And Van Dorn
continued to rove the district day and night, like a dog, hunting for
its buried bone.

It was in the courthouse that Van Dorn made his strongest alliance--in
the courthouse, where the Doctor was supposed to be in supreme command.
A capricious fate had arranged it so that nearly all the county officers
were running for their second terms, and a second term was a time
honored courtesy. Van Dorn tied himself up with them by maintaining that
his was a second term election also,--and a second regular four year
term it was. His appointment, and his election to fill out the remainder
of his predecessor's term, he waved aside as immaterial, and staged
himself as a candidate for his second term. The Doctor tried to break
the combination between the Judge and the second term county candidates
by ruthlessly bringing out their deputies against the second termers as
candidates. But the scheme provoked popular rebellion. The Doctor tried
bringing out one young lawyer after another against the Judge, but all
had retainers from the mine owners, and no one in the county would run
against Van Dorn, so the Doctor had to pick his candidate from outside
of the county, in a judicial convention wherein Greeley County had a
majority of the votes. But Van Dorn knew that for all the strategy of
the situation, the Doctor might be able to mass the town's disapproval
of Van Dorn, socially, into a political majority in the convention
against him. So the handsome Judge, with his matrimonial parade to give
daily, his political fortunes to consider every hour, and withal, a
court to hold, and a judicial serenity to maintain, was a busy young
man--a rather more than passing busy young man!

As for the Doctor, he threw himself into the contest against Van Dorn
with no mixed motives. "There," quoth the Doctor, to the wide world
including his own henchmen, yeomen, heralds, and outriders, "is one
hound pup I am going to teach house manners!" And failing to break Van
Dorn's alliance in the courthouse, and failing to bulldoze Daniel Sands
out of a secret liaison with Van Dorn, failing to punish those of his
courthouse friends who permitted Van Dorn to stand with them on their
convention tickets in the primary, the Doctor went forth with his own
primary ticket, and announced that he proposed to beat Van Dorn in the
convention single handed and alone.

And so quiet are the wheels of our government, that few heard them
grinding during the spring and early summer--few except the little
coterie of citizens who pay attention to the details of party politics.
Yet underneath and over the town, and through the very heart of it
wherever the web of the spider went, there was a cruel rending. Two men
with hate in their hearts were pulling at the web, wrenching its
filaments, twisting it out of shape, ripping its texture, in a desperate
struggle to control the web, and with that control to govern the people.

Then Dr. Nesbit pushed his way into the very nest of the spider, and
bolted into Daniel Sands's office to register a final protest against
Sands's covert alliance with the Judge. He plunked angrily into the den
of the spider, shut the door, turned the spring lock, and looking around
saw not Sands, but Van Dorn himself.

The Doctor burst out: "Well, young man! So you're here, eh!" Van Dorn
nodded pleasantly, and replied graciously: "Yes, Doctor, here I am, and
I believe we have met here before--at one time or another."

The Doctor sat down and slapping a fat hand on a chair arm, cried
angrily: "Thomas, it can't be did--you can't cut 'er."

Judge Van Dorn answered blandly, rather patronizingly: "Yes, Dr. Jim, it
can be done. And I shall do it."

"Have you let 'em fool you--the fellows on the street?" asked the
Doctor.

Judge Van Dorn tapped on the desk beside him meditatively, then answered
slowly: "No--I should say they mostly lied to me--they're not for
me--excepting, maybe, Captain Morton, who tried to say he was opposed to
me--but couldn't--quite. No--Doctor--no--Market Street didn't fool me."

He was so suave about it, so naïve, and yet so cock-sure of his success,
that the Doctor was impatient: "Tom," he piped, "I tell you, they're too
strong to bluff and too many to buy. You can't make it."

The younger man shut one eye, knocked with his tongue on the roof of his
mouth, and then said as he looked insolently into the Doctor's face:

"Well, to begin--what's your price?"

The Doctor flushed; his loose skin twitched around his nostrils, and he
gripped his chair arms. He did not answer for nearly a minute, during
which the Judge tilted back in his chair beside the desk and looked at
the elder man with some show of curiosity, if not of interest.

"My price," sneered the Doctor, "is a little mite low to-day. It's a
pelt--a hound pup's pelt and you are going to furnish it, if you'll stop
strutting long enough for me to skin you!"

The two men glared at each other. Then Van Dorn, regaining his poise,
answered: "Well, sir, I'm going to win--no matter how--I'm going to win.
I've sat up with this situation every night for six months--Oh, for a
year. I know it backwards and forwards, and you can't trip me any place
along the line. I've counted you out." He went on smiling:

"What have I done that is not absolutely legal? This is a government of
law, Doctor--not of hysteria. The trouble with you," the Judge settled
down to an upright position in his chair, "is that you're an old maid.
You're so--so" he drawled the "so" insolently, "damn nice. You're an old
maid, and you come from a family of old maids. I warrant your
grandmother and her mother before her were old maids. There hasn't been
a man in your family for five generations." The Doctor rose, Van Dorn
went on arrogantly, "Doctor James Nesbit, I'm not afraid of you. And
I'll tell you this: If you make a fight on me in this contest, when I'm
elected, we'll see if there isn't one less corrupt boss in this state
and if Greeley County can't contribute a pompadour to the rogues'
gallery and a tenor voice to the penitentiary choir."

During the harangue of the Judge, the Doctor's full lips had begun to
twitch in a smile, and his eyes to twinkle. Then he chirped gaily:

"Heap o' steam for the size of the load and weight of your biler, Tom.
Better hoop 'em up!"

And with a laugh, shaking his little round stomach, he toddled out of
the room into the corridor, and began whistling the tune that tells what
will happen when Johnny comes marching home.

So the Doctor whistled about his afternoon's work and did not realize
that the whistling was a form of nervousness.

That evening the Doctor and Laura began to read their Browning where
they had left off the night before. They were in the midst of
"Paracelsus," when the father looked up and said:

"Laura, you know I'm going to fight Tom Van Dorn for another term as
district judge?"

"Why, of course you should, father--I didn't expect he'd ask it again!"
said the daughter.

"We had a row this afternoon--a miserable, bickering row. He got on his
hind legs and snarled and snapped at me, and made me mad, I guess. So I
got to thinking why I should be against him, and it came to me that a
man who had violated the decencies as he has and whose decisions for the
old spider have been so raw, shouldn't be judge in this district. Lord,
what will young fellows think if we stand for him! So I have kind of
worked myself up," the Doctor smiled deprecatingly, "to a place where I
seem to have a sacred duty in the matter of licking him for the sake of
general decency. Anyway," he concluded in his high falsetto, "old
Browning's diver, here, fits me. He goes down a pauper and, with his
pearl, comes up a prince."

"Festus," cried the Doctor, waving the book, "I plunge."

Thus through the pique of pride, and through the sting of scorn, a force
of righteousness came into the world of Harvey. For our miracles of
human progress are not always done with prunes and prisms. The truth
does not come to men always, nor even, generally, as they are gazing in
joyful admiration at the good and the beautiful. Sudden conversions of
men to good causes are rare, and often unstable and sometimes worthless.
The good Lord would find much of the best work of the world undone if he
waited until men guided by purely altruistic motives and inspired by new
impulses to righteousness, did it. The world's work is done by ladies
and gentlemen who, for the most part, are largely clay, working in the
clay, for clay rewards, with just enough of the divine impulse moving
them to keep their faces turned forward and not back.

Public opinion in the Amen Corner, voiced by Mr. Brotherton, spoke for
Harvey and said: "Well, say--what do you think of Old Linen Pants
bucking the whole courthouse just to get the hide of Judge Van Dora? Did
you ever see such a thing in your whole life?" emphasizing the word
"whole" with fine effect.

Mr. Brotherton sat at his desk in the rear of his store, contemplating
the splendor of his possessions. Gradually the rear of the shop had been
creeping toward the alley. It was filled with books, stationery, cigars
and smoker's supplies. The cigars and smoker's supplies were crowded to
a little alcove near the Amen Corner, and the books--school books,
pirated editions of the standard authors, fancy editions of the
classics, new books copyrighted and gorgeously bound in the fashion of
the hour, were displayed prominently. Great posters adorned the vacant
spaces on the walls, and posters and enlarged magazine covers adorned
the bulletin boards in front of the store. Piles of magazines towered on
the front counters--and upon the whole, Mr. Brotherton's place presented
a fairly correct imitation of the literary tendencies of the period in
America just before the Spanish war.

Amos Adams came in, with his old body bent, his hands behind him, his
shapeless coat hanging loosely from his stooped shoulders, his little
tri-colored button of the Loyal Legion in his coat lapel, being the only
speck of color in his graying figure. He peered at Mr. Brotherton over
his spectacles and said: "George--I'd like to look at Emerson's
addresses--the Phi Beta Kappa Address particularly." He nosed up to the
shelves and went peering along the books in sets. "Help yourself, Dad,
help yourself--Glad you like Emerson--elegant piece of goods; wrapped
one up last week and took it home myself--elegant piece of goods."

"Yes," mused the reader, "here is what I want--I had a talk with Emerson
last night. He's against the war; not that he is for Spain, of course,
but Huxley," added Amos, as he turned the pages of his book, "rather
thinks we should fight--believes war lies along the path of greatest
resistance, and will lead to our greater destiny sooner." The old man
sighed, and continued: "Poor Lincoln--I couldn't get him last night:
they say he and Garrison were having a great row about the situation."

The elder stroked his ragged beard meditatively. Finally he said:
"George--did you ever hear our Kenyon play?"

The big man nodded and went on with his work. "Well, sir," the elder
reflected: "Now, it's queer about Kenyon. He's getting to be a wonder. I
don't know--it all puzzles me." He rose, put back the book on its shelf.
"Sometimes I believe I'm a fool--and sometimes things like this bother
me. They say they are training Kenyon--on the other side! Of course he
just has what music Laura and Mrs. Nesbit could give him; yet the other
day, he got hold of a piano score of Schubert's Symphony in B flat and
while he can't play it, he just sits and cries over it--it means so much
to the little fellow."

The gray head wagged and the clear, old, blue eyes looked out through
the steel-rimmed glasses and he sighed: "He is going ahead, making up
the most wonderful music--it seems to me, and writing it down when he
can't play it--writing the whole score for it--and they tell me--" he
explained deprecatingly, "my friends on the other side, that the child
will make a name for himself." He paused and asked: "George--you're a
hardheaded man--what do you think of it? You don't think I'm crazy, do
you, George?"

The younger man glanced up, caught the clear, kindly eye of Amos Adams
looking questioningly down.

"Dad," said Mr. Brotherton, hammering his fat fist on the desk,
"'there's more things in Heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your
philosophy, Horatio'--well say, man--that's Shakespeare. We sell more
Shakespeares than all the other poets combined. Fine business, this
Shakespeare. And when a man holds the lead in the trade as this
Shakespeare has done ever since I went into the Red Line poets back in
the eighties--I'm pretty nearly going to stay by him. And when he says,
'Don't be too damn sure you know it all--' or words to that effect--and
holds the trade saying it--well, say, man--your spook friends are all
right with me, only say," Mr. Brotherton shuddered, "I'd die if one came
gliding up to me and asked for a chew of my eating tobacco--the way they
do with you!"

"Well," smiled Amos Adams, "much obliged to you, George--I just wanted
your ideas. Laura Van Dorn has sent Kenyon's last piece back to Boston
to see if by any chance he couldn't unconsciously have taken it from
something or some one. She says it's wonderful--but, of course," the old
man scratched his chin, "Laura and Bedelia Nesbit are just as likely to
be fooled in music as I am with my controls." Then the subject drifted
into politics--the local politics of the town, the Van Dorn-Nesbit
contest.

And at the end of their discussion Amos rubbed his bony, lean, hard, old
hands, and looked away through the books and the brick wall and the
whole row of buildings before him into the future and smiled. "I
wonder--I wonder if the country ever will come to see the economic and
social and political meaning of this politics that we have now--this
politics that the poor man gets through a beer keg the night before
election, and that the rich man buys with his 'barl.'"

He shook his head. "You'll see it--you and Grant--but it will be long
after my time." Amos lifted up his old face and cried: "I know there is
another day coming--a better day. For this one is unworthy of us. We are
better than this--at heart! We have in us the blood of the fathers, and
their high visions too. And they did not put their lives into this
nation for this--for this cruel tangle of injustice that we show the
world to-day. Some day--some day," Amos Adams lifted up his face and
cried: "I don't know! May be my guides are wrong but my own heart tells
me that some day we shall cease feeding with the swine and return to the
house of our father! For we are of royal blood, George--of royal blood!"

"Why, hello, Morty," cut in Mr. Brotherton. "Come right in and listen to
the seer--genuine Hebrew prophet here--got a familiar spirit, and says
Babylon is falling."

"Well, Uncle Amos," said Morty Sands, "let her fall!" Old Amos smiled
and after Morty had turned the talk from falling Babylon to Laura Van
Dorn's kindergarten, Amos being reminded by Laura of Kenyon and his
music, unfolded his theory of the occult source of the child's musical
talent, and invited George and Morty to church to hear Kenyon play.

So when Sunday came, with it came full knowledge that most members of
the congregation were to hear Kenyon Adams' new composition, which had
been rather widely advertised by his friends; and Rev. John Dexter,
feeling himself a fifth wheel, discarded his sermon and in humility and
contrition submitted some extemporaneous remarks on the passion for
humanity of "Christ and him crucified."

A little boy was Kenyon Adams--a slim, great-eyed, serious faced, little
boy in an Eton jacket and knickerbockers--not so much larger than his
violin that he carried under his arm. His little hand shook, but Grant
caught his gaze and with a tender, earnest reassurance put sinews into
the small arms, and stilled an unsteady jaw. The organ was playing the
prelude, when the little hand with the bow went out in a wide, sure,
strong curve, and when the bow touched the strings, they sang from a
soul depth that no child's experience could know.

It was the first public rendering of the now famous Adagio in C minor,
known sometimes as "The Prairie Wind," or perhaps better as the
Intermezzo between the second and third acts of the opera that made
Kenyon Adams' fame in Europe before he was twenty. It has been changed
but little since that first hearing there in John Dexter's church with
the Sands Memorial organ, built in the early eighties for Elizabeth Page
Sands, mother of Anne of that tribe. The composition is simplicity
itself--save for the mystical questioning that runs through it in the
sustained sevenths--a theme which Captain Morton said always reminded
him of a meadow lark's evening song, but which repeats itself over and
over plaintively and sadly as the stately music swells to its crescendo
and dies with that unanswered cry of heartbreak echoing in the last
faint notes of the closing bar.

When it was finished, those who had ears heard and understood and those
who had not said, "Well," and waited for public opinion, unless they
were fools, in which case they said they would have preferred something
to whistle. But because the thing impressed itself upon hundreds of
hearts that hour, many in the congregation came forward to greet the
child.

Among these, was a tall, stately young woman in pure white with a rose
upon her hat so deeply red that it seemed guilty of a shame. But her
lips were as red as the red of the rose and her eyes glistened and her
face was wrought upon by a great storm in her heart. Behind her walked a
proud gentleman, a lordly gentleman who elbowed his way through the
throng as one who touches the unclean. The pale child stood by Grant
Adams as they came. Kenyon did not see the beautiful woman; the child's
eyes were upon the man. He knew the man; Lila had poured out her soul to
the boy about the man and in his child's heart he feared and abhorred
the man for he knew not what. The man and woman kept coming closer. They
were abreast as they stepped into the pulpit where the child stood. By
his own music, his soul had been stirred and riven and he was nervous
and excited. As the woman beside the man stretched out her arms, with
her face tense from some inner turmoil, the child saw only the proud man
beside her and shrank back with a wild cry and hid in his father's
breast. The eyes of Grant and Margaret met, but the child only cuddled
into the broad breast before him and wept, crying, "No--no--no--"

Then the proud man turned back, spurned but not knowing it, and the
beautiful woman with red shame in her soul followed him with downcast
face. In the church porch she lifted up her face as she said with her
fair, false mouth: "Tom, isn't it funny how those kind of people
sometimes have talent--just like the lower animals seem to have
intelligence. Dear me, but that child's music has upset me!"

The man's heart was full of pride and hate and the woman's heart was
full of pride and jealousy. Still the air was sweet for them, the birds
sang for them, and the sun shone tenderly upon them. They even laughed,
as they went their high Jovian way, at the vanities of the world on its
lower plane. But their very laughter was the crackling of thorns under a
pot wherein their hearts were burning.



CHAPTER XXVII

IN WHICH WE SEE SOMETHING COME INTO THIS STORY OUTSIDE OF THE MATERIAL
WORLD


"Life," writes Mr. Left, using the pseudonym of the Peachblow
philosopher, "disheartens us because we expect the wrong things of it.
We expect material rewards for spiritual virtues, material punishments
for spiritual transgressions; when even in the material world, material
rewards and punishments do not always follow the acts which seem to
require them. Yet the only sure thing in the world is that our spiritual
lapses bring spiritual punishments, and our spiritual virtues have their
spiritual rewards."

Now these observations of Mr. Left might well be taken for the thesis of
this story. Tom Van Dorn's spiritual transgressions had no material
punishments and the good that was in Grant Adams had no material reward.
Yet the spiritual laws which they obeyed or violated were inexorable in
their rewards and punishments.

Once there entered the life of Judge Van Dorn, from the outside, the
play of purely spiritual forces, which looped him up and tripped him in
another man's game, and Tom, poor fellow, may have thought that it was a
special Providence around with a warrant looking after him. Now this
statement hangs on one "if,"--if you can call Nate Perry a man! "One
generation passeth and another cometh on," saith the Preacher. Perhaps
it has occurred to the reader that the love affairs of this book are
becoming exceedingly middle aged; some have only the dying glow of early
reminiscence. But here comes one that is as young as spring flowers;
that is--if Nate Perry is a man, and is entitled to a love affair at
all. Let's take a look at him: long legged, lean faced, keen eyed, razor
bodied, just back from College where he has studied mining engineering.
He is a pick and shovel miner in the Wahoo Fuel Company's mine, getting
the practical end of the business. For he is heir apparent of stuttering
Kyle Perry, who has holdings in the mines. Young Nate's voice rasps like
the whine of a saw and he has no illusions about the stuff the world is
made of. For him life is atoms flopping about in the ether in an
entirely consistent and satisfactory manner. Things spiritual don't
bother him. And yet it was in working out a spiritual equation in Nate
Perry's life that Providence tipped over Tom Van Dorn, in his race for
Judgeship.

And now let us put Mr. Brotherton on the stand:

"Showers," exclaims Mr. Brotherton, "showers for Nate and Anne,--why,
only yesterday I sent him and Grant Adams over to Mrs. Herdicker's to
borrow her pile-driver, and spanked him for canning a dog, and it hasn't
been more'n a week since I gave Anne a rattle when her father brought
her down town the day after the funeral, as he was looking over Wright &
Perry's clerks for the fourth Mrs. Sands--and here's showers! Well, say,
isn't time that blue streak! Showers! Say, I saw Tom Van Dorn's little
Lila in the store this morning--isn't she the beauty--bluest eyes, and
the sweetest, saddest, dearest little face--and say, man--I do believe
Tom's kind of figuring up what he missed along that line. He tried to
talk to her this morning, but she looked at him with those blue eyes and
shrank away. Doc Jim bought her a doll and a train of cars. That was
just this morning, and well, say--I wouldn't be surprised if when I come
down and unlock the store to-morrow morning, some one will be telling me
she's having showers. Isn't time that old hot-foot?"

"Showers--kitchen showers and linen showers, and silver showers for
little Anne--little Anne with the wide, serious eyes, 'the home of
silent prayer';--well, say, do you know who said that? It was Tennyson.
Nice, tasty piece of goods--that man Tennyson. I've handled him in
padded leather covers; fancy gilt cloth, plain boards, deckle-edges,
wide margins, hand-made paper, and in thirty-nine cent paper--and he is
a neat, nifty piece of goods in all of them--always easy to move and no
come backs." After this pean to the poet, Mr. Brotherton turned again to
his meditations, "Little Anne--Why, it's just last week or such a matter
I wrapped up Mother Goose for her--just the other day she came in when
they sent her off to school, and I gave her a diary--and now it's
showers--" He shook his great head, "Well, say--I'm getting on."

And while Mr. Brotherton mused the fire burned--the fire of youth that
glowed in the heart of Nathan Perry. When he wandered back from college
no one in particular had noticed him. But Anne Sands was no one in
particular. And as no one in particular was looking after Anne and her
affairs, as a girl in her teens she had focused her heart upon the
gangling youth, and there grew into life one of those matter-of-fact,
unromantic love affairs that encompass the whole heart. For they are as
commonplace as light and air and are equally vital. Because their course
is smooth, such affairs seem shallow. But let unhappy circumstance break
the even surface, and behold, from their depths comes all the beauty of
a great force diverted, all the anguish of a great passion curbed and
thwarted.

In this democratic age, when deep emotional experiences are not the
privilege of the few, but the lot of many, heart break is almost
commonplace. We do not notice it as it may have been noted in those
chivalric days when only the few had the finer sensibilities that may
make great mental suffering possible. So here in the commonplace town of
Harvey, in their commonplace homes, amid their commonplace friends and
relatives, two commonplace hearts were aching all unsuspected by a
commonplace world. And it happened thus:

Anne Sands had opinions about the renomination and reëlection of Judge
Van Dorn. For Judge Van Dorn's divorce and remarriage had offended Anne
Sands.

On the other hand, to Nathan Perry the aspirations of Judge Van Dorn
meant nothing but the ambition of a politician in politics. So when Anne
and he had fallen into the inevitable discussion of the Van Dorn case,
as a part of an afternoon's talk, indignation flashed upon indifference
and the girl saw, or thought she saw such a defect in the character of
her lover that, being what she was, she had to protest, and he being
what he was--he was hurt to the heart. Both lovers spoke plainly. The
thing sounded like a quarrel--their first; and coming from the Sands
house into the summer afternoon, Nate Perry decided to go to
Brotherton's. He reflected as he walked that Mr. Brotherton's remarks on
"showers," which had come to Anne and Nate, might possibly be premature.
And the reflection was immensely disquieting.

A practical youth was Nathan Perry, with a mechanical instinct that
gloried in adjustment. He loved to tinker and potter and patch things
up. Now something was wrong with the gearing of his heart action. His
theory was that Anne was for the moment crazy. He could see nothing to
get excited about over the renomination and election of Judge Van Dorn.
The men in the mine where the youth was working as a miner hated Van
Dorn, the people seemed to distrust him as a man more or less, but if he
controlled the nominating convention that ended it with Nathan Perry.
The Judge's family affairs were in no way related to the nomination, as
the youth saw the case. Yet they were affecting the cams and cogs and
pulleys of young Mr. Perry's love affairs, and he felt the matter must
be repaired, and put in running order. For he knew that love affair was
the mainspring of his life. And the mechanic in him--the Yankee that
talked in his rasping, high-keyed tenor voice, that shone from his thin,
lean face, and cadaverous body, the Yankee in him, the dreaming,
sentimental Yankee, half poet and half tinker, fell upon the problem
with unbending will and open mind.

So it came to pass that there entered into the affairs of Judge Thomas
Van Dorn, an element upon which he did not calculate. For he was dealing
only with the material elements of a material universe!

When Nathan Perry came to Brotherton's he sat down in the midst of a
discussion of the Judgeship that began in rather etherial terms. For
Doctor Nesbit was saying:

"Amos, I've got you cornered if you consider the visible universe. She
works like a watch; she's as predestined as a corn sheller. But let me
tell you something--she isn't all visible. There's something back of
matter--there's another side to the shield. I know mighty well there's a
time when my medicine won't help sick folks--and yet they get well. I've
seen a great love flame up in a man's heart or a woman's heart or a
child's in a bed of torture, and when medicine wouldn't take hold I've
seen love burn through the wall between the worlds, and I have seen help
come just as sure as you see the Harvey Hook and Ladder Company coming
rattling down Market Street! Funny old world--funny old world--seventy
rides around the sun--and then the fireworks." After puffing away to
revive his pipe he said: "I sort of got into this way of thinking
recently going over this judgeship fight." He smoked meditatively then
broke out, "Lord, Lord, what an iron-clad, hog-tight, rock-ribbed,
copper-riveted material proposition it is that Tom is putting up. He's
bound self-interest with self-interest everywhere. He and Joe Calvin
have roped old man Sands in, and every material interest in this whole
district is tied up in the Van Dorn candidacy. I'm a child in a cyclone
in this fight. The self-interest of the county candidates, of all the
deputies who hope two years from now to be county candidates, and all
their friends, every straw boss at the shops, in the smelters, in the
mines--and all the men who are near them and want to be straw bosses,
every merchant who is caught in the old spider's web with a ninety-day
note; every street-car conductor, every employee of the light company,
every man at the waterworks plant, every man at the gas plant, the
telephone linemen--every human being that dances in the great woof of
this little spider's web feels the pull of devilish material power."

Amos Adams threw back his grizzled head in a laugh that failed to
vocalize. "Well, Jim, according to your account you're liable to get
burned and singed and disfigured until you're as useless in politics as
this old Amos Adams--the spook chaser!"

There was no bitterness in Amos Adams's voice. "It's all right, Jim--I
have no complaint to make against life. Forty years ago Dan Sands got
the first girl I ever loved. I went to war; he paid his bounty and
married the girl. That was a long time ago. I often think of the
girl--it's no lack of faith to Mary. And I have the memory of the
war--of that Day at Peach Tree Creek with all the wonderful exulting joy
of that charge and what God gave me to do. This button," he put his
thumb under the Loyal Legion emblem in his warped coat lapel, "this
button is more fragrant than any flower on earth to my heart. Dan Sands
has had five wives; he missed the hardship of the war. He has a son by
her. Jim," said Amos Adams as he opened his eyes, "if you knew how it
has cut into my heart year by year to see the beautiful soul that Hester
Haley gave to Morty decay under the blight of his father--but you
can't." He sighed. "Yet there is still her soul in him--gentle, kind,
trying to do the right thing--but tied and hobbled by life with his
father. Grant may be wrong, Doctor," cried the father, raising his hand
excitedly, "he may be crazy, and I know they laugh at him up town
here--for a fool and the son of a fool; he certainly doesn't know how he
is going to do all the things he dreams of doing--but that is not the
point. The important thing is that he is having his dream! For by the
Eternal, Jim Nesbit, I'd rather feel that my boy was even a small part
of the life force of his planet pushing forward--I'd rather be the
father of that boy--I'd rather be old Amos Adams the spook chaser--than
Dan Sands with his million. I've been happier, Jim, with the memory of
my Mary than he with his five wives. I'd rather be on the point of the
drill of life and mangled there, than to have my soul rot in greed."

The Doctor puffed on his pipe. "Well, Amos," he returned quietly, "I
suppose if a man wants to get all messed up as one of the points of the
drill of life, as you call it--it's easy enough to find a place for the
sacrifice. I admire Grant; but someway," his falsetto broke out, "I have
thought there was a little something in the bread-and-butter
proposition."

"A little, Doctor Jim--but not as much as you'd think!" answered Amos.

"Nevertheless in this fight here in Greeley County, I'm quietly lining
up a few county delegates, and picking out a few trusty friends who will
show up at the caucuses, and Grant has a handful of crazy Ikes that I am
going to use in my business, and if we win it will be a practical
proposition--my head against Tom's."

The Doctor rose. Amos Adams stopped him with "Don't be too sure of that,
Jim; I got a writing from Mr. Left last night and he says--"

"Hold on, Amos--hold on," squeaked the Doctor's falsetto; "until Mr.
Left is registered in the Third Ward--we won't bother with him until
after the convention."

The Doctor left the place smiling at Amos and glancing casually at young
Mr. Perry. The dissertation had been a hard strain on the practical mind
of young Mr. Perry, and while he was fumbling his way through the mazes
of what he had heard, Amos Adams left the shop and another practical man
very much after Nathan Perry's own heart came in. Daniel Sands had no
cosmic problems on his mind with which to befuddle young Perry. Daniel
Sands was a seedy little old man of nearly three score years and ten;
his dull, fishy eyes framed in red lids looked shiftily at one as though
he was forever preoccupied in casting up sums in interest. His skin was
splotched and dirty, a kind of scale seemed to be growing over it, and
his long, thin nose stuck out of his shaggy, ill-kept whiskers like a
sharp snout, attenuated by rooting in money. When he smiled, which was
rarely, the false quality of his smile seemed expressed by his false
teeth that were forever falling out of place when he loosed his facial
muscles. He walked rather stealthily back to the desk where the
proprietor of the shop was working; but he spoke loud enough for Nate
Perry's practical ear to comprehend the elder man's mission.

"George, I've got to be out of town for the next ten days, and the
county convention will meet when I'm gone." He stopped, and cleared his
throat. Mr. Brotherton knew what was coming. "I just called to say that
we're expecting you to do all you can for Tom." He paused. Mr.
Brotherton was about to reply when the old man smiled his false smile
and added:

"Of course, we can't afford to let our good Doctor's family affairs
interfere with business. And George," he concluded, "just tell the boys
to put Morty on in my place. And George, you kind of sit by Morty, and
see that he gets his vote in right. Morty's a good boy, George--but he
someway doesn't get interested in things as I like to see him. He'll be
all right if you'll just fix his ballot in the convention and see that
he votes it." He blinked his dull, red eyes at the book seller and
dropped his voice.

"I noticed your paper as I passed the note counter just now; some of it
will be due while I'm gone; I'll tell 'em to renew it if you want it."
He smiled again, and Mr. Brotherton answered, "Very well--I'll see that
Morty votes right, Mr. Sands," and solemnly went back to his ledger. And
thus the practical mind of Nathan Perry had its first practical lesson
in practical politics--a lesson which soon afterwards produced highly
practical results.

Up and down Market Street tiptoed Daniel Sands that day, tightening his
web of business and politics. Busily he fluttered over the web, his
water pipes, his gas pipes, his electric wires. The pathway to the trade
of the miners and the men in the shops and smelters lay through his
door. Material prosperity for every merchant and every clerk in Market
Street lay in the paunch of the old spider, and he could spin it out or
draw it in as he chose. It was not usual for him to appear on Market
Street. Dr. Nesbit had always been his vicegerent. And often it had
pleased the Doctor to pretend that he was seeking their aid as friends
and getting it solely upon the high grounds of friendship.

But as the Doctor stood by his office window that day and saw the old
spider dancing up and down the web, Dr. Nesbit knew the truth--and the
truth was wormwood in his mouth--that he had been only an errand boy
between greed in the bank and self-interest in the stores. In a flash, a
merciless, cynical flash, he looked into his life in the capital, and
there he saw with sickening distinctness that with all his power as a
boss, with his control over Senators and Governors and courts and
legislatures, he was still the errand boy--that he reigned as boss only
because he could be trusted by those who controlled the great
aggregations of capital in the state--the railroads, the insurance
companies, the brewers, the public service corporations. In the street
below walked a flashy youth who went in and out of the saloons in
obvious pride of being. His complacent smile, his evident glory in
himself, made Dr. Nesbit turn away and shut his eyes in shame. He had
loathed the youth as a person unspeakable. Yet the youth also was a
messenger--the errand boy of vice in South Harvey who doubtless thought
himself a person of great power and consequence. And the difference
between an errand boy of greed and the errand boy of vice was not
sufficient to revive the Doctor's spirits. So the Doctor, sadly sobered,
left the window. The gay enthusiasm of the diver plunging for the pearl
was gone from the depressed little white clad figure. He was finding his
pearl a burden rather than a joy.

That evening Morty Sands, resplendent in purple and fine linen--the
purple being a gorgeous necktie, and the fine linen a most sumptuous
tailor-made shirt waist above a pair of white broadcloth trousers and
silk hose, and under a fifty dollar Panama hat, tripped into the
Brotherton store for his weekly armload of reading and tobacco.

"Morty," said Mr. Brotherton, after the young man had picked out the
latest word in literature and nicotine, "your father was in here to-day
with instructions for me to chaperone you through the county convention
Saturday,--you'll be on the delegation."

The young man blinked good naturedly. "I haven't got the intellect to go
through with it, George."

"Oh, yes, you have, Morty," returned Mr. Brotherton, expansively. "The
Governor wants me to be sure you vote for Van Dorn--that's about all
there is in the convention. Old Linen Pants is to name the delegates to
the State and congressional conventions--they're trying to let the old
man down easy--not to beat him out of his State and congressional
leadership."

The young man thought for a moment then smiled up into the big moon-face
of Brotherton--"All right, Georgie, I suppose I'll have to cast my
unfettered vote for Van Dorn, though as a sporting proposition my
sympathies are with the other side."

"Well, say--you orter 'a' heard a talk I heard Doc Nesbit give this
afternoon. That old sinner will be shouting on the mourner's bench
soon--if he doesn't check up."

Morty looked up from his magazine to say: "George--it's Laura. A man
couldn't go with her through all she's gone through without being more
of a man for it. When I took a turn in the mining business last spring I
found that the people down in South Harvey just naturally love her to
death. They'll do more or less for Grant Adams. He's getting the men
organized and they look up to him in a way. But they get right down on
their marrow bones and love Laura."

Morty smiled reflectively: "I kind of got the habit myself once--and I
seem someway never to have got over it--much! But, she won't even look
my way. She takes my money--for her kindergarten. But that is all. She
won't let me take her home in my trap, nor let me buy her lunch--why she
pays more attention to Grant Adams with his steel claw than to my strong
right arm! About all she lets me do is distribute flower seeds. George,"
he concluded ruefully, "I've toted around enough touch-me-nots and
coxcomb seeds this spring for that girl to paint South Harvey ringed,
streaked and striped."

There the conversation switched to Captain Morton's stock company, and
the endeavor to get the Household Horse on the market. The young man
listened and smiled, was interested, as George Brotherton intended he
should be. But Morty went out saying that he had no money but his
allowance--which was six months overdrawn--and there the matter rested.

In a few days, a free people arose and nominated their delegates to the
Greeley County convention and the night before the event excitement in
Harvey was intense. There could be no doubt as to the state of public
sentiment. It was against Tom Van Dorn. But on the other hand, no one
seriously expected to defeat him. For every one knew that he controlled
the organization--even against the boss. Yet vaguely the people hoped
that their institutions would in some way fail those who controlled, and
would thus register public sentiment. But the night the delegates were
elected, it seemed apparent that Van Dorn had won. Yet both sides
claimed the victory. And among others of the free people elected to the
Convention to cast a free vote for Judge Van Dorn, was Nathan Perry. He
was put on the delegation to look after his father's interests. Van Dorn
was a practical man, Kyle Perry was a practical man and they knew Nate
Perry was a practical youth. But while Tom Van Dorn slept upon the
assurance of victory, Nate Perry was perturbed.



CHAPTER XXVIII

WHEREIN MORTY SANDS MAKES A FEW SENSIBLE REMARKS IN PUBLIC


When Mortimer Sands came down town Saturday morning, two hours before
the convention met, he found the courthouse yard black with prospective
delegates and also he found that the Judge's friends were in a majority
in the crowd. So evident was their ascendancy that the Nesbit forces had
conceded to the Judge the right to organize the convention. At eleven
o'clock the crowd, merchants, clerks, professional men, working men in
their Sunday clothes, delegates from the surrounding country towns, and
farmers--a throng of three hundred men, began to crowd into the hot
"Opera House." So young Mr. Sands, with his finger in a book to keep his
place, followed the crowd to the hall, and took his seat with the Fourth
Ward delegation. Having done this he considered that his full duty to
God and man had been performed. He found Nathan Perry sitting beside him
and said:

"Well, Nate, here's where Anne's great heart breaks--I suppose?"

Nathan nodded and asked: "I presume it's all over but the shouting."

"All over," answered the elder young man as he dived into his book. As
he read he realized that the convention had chosen Captain Morton--a
partisan of the Judge--for chairman. The hot, stifling air of the room
was thick with the smoke of cheap tobacco. Morty Sands grew nervous and
irritated during the preliminary motions of the organization. Even as a
sporting event the odds on Van Dorn were too heavy to promote
excitement. He went out for a breath of air. When he reëntered Judge Van
Dorn was making the opening speech of the convention. It was a fervid
effort; the Spanish war was then in progress so the speech was full of
allusions to what the Judge was pleased to call "libertah" and "our
common countrah" and our sacred "dutah" to "humanitah." Naturally the
delegates who were for the Judge's renomination displayed much
enthusiasm, and it was a noisy moment. When the Judge closed his
remarks--tearfully of course--and took his seat as chairman of the
Fourth Ward delegation, which was supposed to be for him unanimously as
it was his home ward, Morty noticed that while the Judge sat grand and
austere in the aisle seat with his eyes partly closed as one who is
recovering from a great mental effort, his half-closed eyes were
following Mr. Joseph Calvin, who was buzzing about the room distributing
among the delegates meal tickets and saloon checks good for food for man
and beast at the various establishments of public entertainment.

Morty learned from George Brotherton that as the county officers were to
be renominated without opposition, and as the platform had been agreed
to the day before, and as the county central committeemen had been
chosen the night before at the caucuses, the convention was to be a
short horse soon curried. Of course, Captain Morton as permanent
chairman made a speech--with suitable eulogies to the boys who wore the
blue. It was the speech the convention had heard many times before, but
always enjoyed--and as he closed he asked rather grandly, "and now what
is the further pleasure of the convention?"

It was Mr. Calvin's pleasure, as expressed in a motion, that the
secretary be instructed to cast the vote of the convention for the
renomination of the entire county ticket, and further that Senator James
Nesbit, in view of his leadership of the party in the State, be
requested to name the delegates to the State and congressional
conventions and that Judge Thomas Van Dorn--cheers led by Dick
Bowman--Thomas Van Dorn be requested to name the delegates to the
judicial district convention. Cheers and many cries of no, no, no,
greeted the Calvin motion. It was seconded and stated by the chair and
again cheered and roared at. Dr. Nesbit rose, and in his mild, treble
voice protested against the naming of the delegates to the State and
congressional and judicial conventions. He said that while it had been
the practice in the past, he was of the opinion that the time had come
to let the Convention itself choose by wards and precincts and townships
its delegates to these conventions. He said further that as for the
State and congressional delegates, they couldn't pick a delegation of
twenty men in the room if they tried, that would not contain a majority
which he could work with. At which there was cheering from the anti-Van
Dorn crowd--but it was clear that they were in the minority. No further
discussion seemed to be expected and the Captain was about to put the
motion, when from among the delegates from South Harvey there arose the
red poll of Grant Adams. From the Harvey delegates he met the glare of
distrust due from any crowd of merchants and clerks to any labor
agitator. Morty could see from the face of Dr. Nesbit that he was
surprised. Judge Van Dorn, who sat near young Sands, looked mildly
interested. After he was recognized, Grant in an impassioned voice began
to talk of the inherent right of the Nesbit motion, providing that each
precinct or ward delegation could name its own delegates to the State,
congressional and judicial conventions.

If the motion prevailed, Judge Van Dorn would have a divided delegation
from Greeley county to the judicial convention, as some of the precincts
and wards were against him, though a majority of the united convention
was for him. Grant Adams, swinging his iron claw, was explaining this to
the convention. He was appealing passionately for the right of
proportional representation; holding that the minority had rights of
representation that the majority should not deny.

Judge Van Dorn, without rising, had sneered across the room in a
snarling voice: "Ah, you socialist!" Once he had growled: "None of your
red mouthed ranting here!" Finally, as it was evident that Grant's
remarks were interesting the workmen on the delegations, Van Dorn, still
seated, called out:

"Here, you--what right have you to address this convention?"

"I am a regularly accredited delegate from South Harvey, holding the
proxy--"

He got no further.

The Van Dorn delegates roared, "Put him out. No proxies go," and began
hooting and jeering. It was obvious that Van Dorn had the crowd with
him. He let them roar at Grant, who stood quietly, demanding from time
to time that the chair should restore order. Captain Morton hammered the
table with his gavel, but the Van Dorn crowd continued to hoot and howl.
Finally Judge Van Dorn rose and with great elaborateness of
parliamentary form addressed the chair asking to be permitted to ask his
friend with a proxy one question.

The two men faced each other savagely, like characters symbolizing
forces in a play; complaisance and discontent. Behind Grant was the
unrest and upheaval of a class coming into consciousness and
tremendously dynamic, while Van Dorn stood for those who had won their
fight and were static and self-satisfied. He twirled his mustache. Grant
raised his steel claw as if to strike; Van Dorn spoke, and in a barking,
vicious, raucous tone intended to annihilate his adversary, asked:

"Will you tell this convention in the interest of fairness, what, if
any, personal and private motives you have in helping Dr. Nesbit inject
a family quarrel into public matters in this county?"

A moment's silence greeted the lawyer's insolently framed question.
Mortimer Sands saw Dr. Nesbit go white, start to rise, and sit down, and
saw dawning on the face of Grant Adams the realization of what the
question meant. But before he could speak the mob broke loose; hisses,
cheers and the roar of partisan and opposition filled the room. Grant
Adams tried to speak; but no one would hear him. He started down the
aisle toward Van Dorn, his red hair flashing like a banner of wrath,
menacing the Judge with the steel claw upraised. Dr. Nesbit stopped
Grant. The insult had been so covert, so cowardly, that only in
resenting its implication would there be scandal.

Mortimer Sands closed his book. He saw Judge Van Dorn laugh, and heard
him say to George Brotherton who sat beside young Sands:

"I plugged that damn pie-face!"

Nathan Perry, the practical young man sitting in the Fourth ward
delegation, heard the Judge and nudged Morty Sands. Morty Sands's
sporting blood rose in him. "The pup," he whispered to Nate. "He's
taking a shot at Laura."

The crowd gradually grew calm. There being no further discussion,
Captain Morton put the motion of Joseph Calvin to let the majority of
the convention name all delegates to the superior conventions. The roar
of ayes overwhelmed the blat of noes. It was clear that the Calvin
motion had carried. The Doctor was defeated. But before the chair
announced the vote the pompadour of the little man rose quickly as he
stood in the middle aisle and asked in his piping treble for a vote by
wards and precincts.

In the moment of silence that followed the Doctor's suggestion, Nathan
Perry's face, which gradually had been growing stony and hard, cracked
in a mean smile as he leaned over to Morty and whispered:

"Morty, can you stand for that--that damned hound's snap at Laura Van?
By grabby I can't--I won't!"

"Well, let's raise hell, Nate--I'm with you. I owe him nothing," said
the guileless and amiable Morty.

Judge Van Dorn rose grandly and with great elegance of diction agreed
with the Doctor's "excellent suggestion." So tickets were passed about
containing the words yes and no, and hats were passed down delegation
lines and the delegates put the ballots in the hats and the chairmen of
delegations appointed tellers and so the ballots were counted. When the
Fourth ward balloting was finished, Judge Van Dorn looked puzzled. He
was three votes short of unanimity. His vanity was pricked. He believed
he had a solid delegation and proposed to have it. When in the roll call
the Fourth ward delegation was reached (it was the fourth precinct on
the secretary's roll) the Judge, as chairman of the Fourth warders,
rose, blandly and complacently, and announced: "Ward Four casts
twenty-five votes 'yes' and three votes 'no.' I demand a poll of the
delegation."

George Brotherton rose when the clerk of the convention called the roll
and voted a weak, husky 'no' and sat down sheepishly under the Judge's
glare.

Down the list came the clerk reading the names of delegates. Finally he
called "Mortimer Sands," and the young man rose, smiling and calm, and
looking the Judge fairly in the eye cried, "I vote no!"

Then pandemonium broke loose. The convention was bedlam. The friends of
the Judge were confounded. They did not know what it meant.

The clerk called Nathan Perry.

"No," he cried as he looked maliciously into the Judge's beady eyes.

Then there was no doubt. For the relations of Wright & Perry were so
close to Daniel Sands that no one could mistake the meaning of young
Perry's vote, and then had not the whole town read of the "showers" for
Anne Sands? Those who opposed the Judge were whispering that the old
spider had turned against the Judge. Men who were under obligations to
the Traders' Bank were puzzled but not in doubt. There was a general
buzzing among the delegations. The desertion of Mortimer Sands and
Nathan Perry was one of those wholly unexpected events that sometimes
make panics in politics. The Judge could see that in one or two cases
delegations were balloting again. "Fifth ward," called the clerk.

"Fifth ward not ready," replied the chairman.

"Hancock township, Soldier precinct," called the clerk.

"Soldier precinct not ready," answered the chairman.

The next precinct cast its vote No, and the next precinct cast its vote
7 yes and 10 no and a poll was demanded and the vote was a tie. The
power of the name of Sands in Greeley county was working like a yeast.

"Well, boys," whispered Mr. Brotherton to Morty as two townships were
passed while they were reballoting, "Well, boys--you sure have played
hell." He was mopping his red brow, and to a look of inquiry from Morty
Mr. Brotherton explained: "You've beaten the Judge. They all think that
it's your father's idea to knife him, and the foremen of the mines who
are running these county delegations and the South Harvey contingent are
changing their votes--that's how!"

In another instant Morty Sands was on his feet. He stood on a seat above
the crowd, a slim, keen-faced, oldish figure. When he called upon the
chairman a hush fell over the crowd. When he began to speak he could
feel the eyes of the crowd boring into him. "I wish to state," he said
hesitatingly, then his courage came, "that my vote against this
resolution, was due entirely to the inferential endorsement of Judge
Thomas Van Dorn," this time the anti-Van Dorn roar was overwhelming,
deafening, "that the resolution contained."

Another roar, it seemed to the Judge as from a pit of beasts, greeted
this period. "But I also wish to make it clear," continued the young
man, "that in this position I am representing only my own views. I have
not been instructed by my father how to cast this ballot. For you know
as well as I how he would vote." The roar from the anti-Van Dorn crowd
came back again, stronger than ever. The convention had put its own
interpretation upon his words. They knew he was merely making it plainer
that the old spider had caught Judge Van Dorn in the web, and for some
reason was sucking out his vitals. Morty sat down with the sense of duty
well done, and again Mr. Brotherton leaned over and whispered, "Well,
you did a good job--you put the trimmings on right--hello, we're going
to vote again." Again the young man jumped to his feet and cried amid
the noise, which sank almost instantly as they saw who was trying to
speak: "I tell you, gentlemen, that so far as I know my father is for
Judge Van Dorn," but the crowd only laughed, and it was evident that
they thought Morty was playing with them. As Morty Sands sat down Nathan
Perry rose and in his high, strong, wire-edged tenor cried: "Men, I'm
voting only myself. But when a man shows doghair as Judge Van Dorn
showed it to this convention in that question to Grant Adams--all hell
can't hold me to--" But the roar of the crowd drowned the close of the
sentence. The mob knew nothing of the light that had dawned in Nathan
Perry's heart. The crowd knew only that the son and the future
son-in-law of the old spider had turned on Van Dorn, and that he was
marked for slaughter so it proceeded with the butchering which gave it
great personal felicity. Men howled their real convictions and Tom Van
Dorn's universe tottered. He tried to speak, but was howled down.

"Vote--vote, vote," they cried. The Fourth ward balloted again and the
vote stood "Yes, fifteen, no, twelve," and the proud face of the suave
Judge Van Dorn turned white with rage, and the red scar flickered like
lightning across his forehead. The voting could not proceed. For men
were running about the room, and Joseph Calvin was hovering over the
South Harvey delegation like a buzzard. Morty Sands suspected Calvin's
mission. The young man rose and ran to Dr. Nesbit and whispered:
"Doctor, Nate's got seven hundred dollars in the bank--see what Calvin
is doing? I can get it up here in three minutes. Can you use it to
help?"

The Doctor ran his hand over his graying pompadour and smiled and shook
his head. In the din he leaned over and piped. "Touch not, taste not,
handle not, Morty--I've sworn off. Teetotler," he laughed excitedly.
Young Sands saw a bill flash in Mr. Calvin's hands and disappear in Dick
Bowman's pockets.

"No law against it," chirped the Doctor, "except God Almighty's, and He
has no jurisdiction in Judge Tom's district."

As they stood watching Calvin peddle his bills the convention saw what
he was doing. A fear seized the decent men in the convention that all
who voted for Van Dorn would be suspected of receiving bribes. The
balloting proceeded. In five minutes the roll call was finished. Then
before the result was announced George Brotherton was on his feet
saying, "The Fourth ward desires to change her vote," and while
Brotherton was announcing the complete desertion of the Fourth ward
delegation, Judge Van Dorn left the hall. Men in mob are cruel and mad,
and the pack howled at the vain man as he slunk through the crowd to the
door.

After that, delegation after delegation changed its vote and before the
result was announced Mr. Calvin withdrew his motion, and the spent
convention only grunted its approval. Then it was that Mugs Bowman
crowded into the room and handed Nathan Perry this note scrawled on
brown butcher's paper in a hand he knew. "I have this moment learned
that you are a delegate and must take a public stand. Don't let a word I
have said influence you. I stand by you whatever you do. Use your own
judgment; follow your conscience and 'with God be the rest.'" "A. S."

Nathan Perry folded the note, and as he put it in his vest pocket he
felt the proud beat of his heart. Fifteen minutes later when the
convention adjourned for noon, Nathan and Morty Sands ran plumb into
Thomas Van Dorn, sitting in the back room of the bank, wet eyed and
blubbering. The Judge was slumped over the big, shining table, his jaws
trembling, his hands fumbling the ink stands and paper weights. His eyes
were staring and nervous, and beside him a whiskey bottle and glass told
their story. The man rose, holding the table, and shrieked:

"You damned little fice dog, you--" this to Morty, "you--you--" Morty
dashed around the table toward the Judge, but before he could reach the
man to strike, the Judge was moving his jaws impotently, and grasping
the thin air. His mouth foamed as he fell and he lay, a shivering,
white-eyed horror, upon the floor. The bank clerks lifted the figure to
a leather couch, and some one summoned Doctor Nesbit.

The Doctor saw the whiskey bottle half emptied and saw the white faced,
prostrate figure. The Doctor sent the clerks from the room as he worked
with the unconscious man, and piped to Morty as he worked, "Nothing
serious--heat--temper, whiskey--and vanity and vexation of spirit;
'vanity of vanities--all is vanity--saith the preacher.'" Morty and
Nathan left the room as the man's eyes opened and the Doctor with a
woman's tenderness brought the wretched, broken, shattered bundle of
pride back to consciousness.

For years this became George Brotherton's favorite story. He first told
it to Henry Fenn thus:

"Say, Henry, lemme tell you about old man Sands. He come in here the day
after he got back from Chicago to wrestle with me for letting Morty vote
against Tom. Well--say--I'm right here to tell you that was some do--all
right, all right! You know he thought I got Morty and Nate to vote that
way and the old spider came hopping in here like a granddaddy long-legs
and the way he let out on your humble--well, say--say! Holler--you'd
orto heard him holler! Just spat pizen--wow! and as for me who'd got the
lad into the trouble--as for me," Mr. Brotherton paused, folded his hand
over his expansive abdomen and sighed deeply, as one who recalls an
experience too deep for language. "Well, say--I tried to tell him I
didn't have anything to do with it, but he was wound up with an
eight-day spring! I knew it was no use to talk sense to him while he was
batting his lights at me like a drunk switchman on a dark night, but
when he was clean run down I leans over the counter and says as polite
as a pollywog, 'Most kind and noble duke,' says I, 'you touch me deeply
by your humptious words!' says I, 'let me assure you, your kind and
generous sentiments will never be erased from the tablets of my most
grateful memory'--just that way.

"Well, say--" and here Mr. Brotherton let out his laugh that came down
like the cataract at Ladore, "pretty soon Morty sails in fresh as a
daisy and asks:

"'Father been in here?'

"'Check one father,' says I.

"'Raising hell?' he asks.

"'Check one hell,' says I.

"'Well, sir,' says he, 'I'm exceedingly sorry.'

"'One sorrow check,' says I.

"'Sincerely and truly sorry, George,' he repeats and 'Two sorrows
check,' I repeats and he goes on: 'Look here, George, I know father, and
until I can get the truth into him, which won't be for a week or two, I
suppose he may try to ruin you!'

"'Check one interesting ruin,' says I.

"But he brought down his hand on the new case till I shuddered for the
glass, and well, say--what do you think that boy done? He pulls out a
roll of money big enough to choke a cow and puts it on the case and
says: 'I sold my launch and drew every dollar I had out of the bank
before father got home. Here, take it; you may need it in your business
until father calms down.'

"Wasn't that white! I couldn't get him to put the roll back and along
comes Cap Morton, and when I wouldn't take it the old man glued on to
him, and I'm a goat if Morty didn't lend it to the Captain, with the
understanding I could have it any time inside of six months, and the
Captain could use it afterward. That's where the Captain got his money
to build his shop."

It cost Daniel Sands five thousand dollars in hard earned money, not
that he earned the money, but it was hard-earned nevertheless, to undo
the work of that convention, and nominate and elect Thomas Van Dorn
district Judge upon an independent ticket. And even when the work was
done, the emptiness of the honor did not convince the Judge that this is
not a material world. He hugged the empty honor to his heart and made a
vast pretense that it was real.



CHAPTER XXIX

BEING NOT A CHAPTER BUT AN INTERLUDE


Here and now this story must pause for a moment. It has come far from
the sunshine and prairie grass where it started. Tall elm trees have
grown from the saplings that were stuck in the sod thirty years before,
and they limit the vision. No longer can one see over the town across
the roofs of Market Street into the prairie. No longer even can one see
from Harvey the painted sky at night that marks South Harvey and the
industrial towns of the Wahoo Valley. Harvey is shut in; we all are
sometimes by our comforts. The dreams of the pioneers that haloed the
heads of those who came to Harvey in those first days--those dreams are
gone. Here and there one is trapped in brick or wood or stone or iron;
and another glows in a child or walks the weary ways of man as a custom
or an institution or as a law that brought only a part of the blessings
which it promised.

And the equality of opportunity for which these pioneers crossed the
Mississippi and came into the prairie uplands of the West--where is that
evanescent spirit? Certainly it touched Daniel Sands's shoulder and he
followed it; it beckoned Dr. Nesbit and he followed it a part of the
journey. Surely Kyle Perry saw it for years, and Captain Morton was
destined to find it, gorgeous and iridescent. Amos Adams might have had
it for the asking, but he sought it only for others. It never came to
Dooley and Hogan, and Williams and Bowman and those who went into the
Valley. Did it die, one may ask; or did it vanish like a prairie stream
under the sand to flow on subterranean and appear again strong, purified
and refreshed, a powerful current to carry mankind forward? The world
that was in the flux of dreams that day when Harvey began, had hardened
to reality thirty years after. Men were going their appointed ways
working out in circumstances the equation of their life's philosophy.

And now while the story waits, we may well look at three pictures. They
do not speed the narrative; they hardly point morals to adorn this tale.
But they may show us how living a creed consistently colors one's life.
For after all the realities of life are from within. Events,
environment, fortune good or bad do not color life, or give it richness
and form and value. But in living a creed one makes his picture. So let
us look at Thomas Van Dorn, who boasted that he could beat God at his
own game, and did. For all that he wanted came to him, wealth and fame
and power, and the women he desired.

Judge and Mrs. Van Dorn and her dog are riding by in their smart rubber
tired trap, behind a highly checked horse and with the dog between them.
They are not talking. The man is looking at his gloved hands, at the
horse, at the street,--where occasionally he bows and smiles and never
by any chance misses bowing and smiling to any woman who might be
passing. His wife, dressed stiffly and smartly, is looking straight
ahead, with as weary a face as that of the Hungarian Spitz beside her.
Time, in the Temple of Love on the hill has not worn her bloom off; it
is all there--and more; but the additional bloom, the artificial bloom,
is visible. When she smiles, as she sometimes smiles at the men friends
of the Judge who greet the pair, it is an elaborately mechanical smile,
with a distinct beginning, climax, and ending. Some way it fails to
convince one that she has any pleasure in it. The smile still is
beautiful, exceedingly beautiful--but only as a picture. When the smile
is garnished with words the voice is low and musical--but too low and
too obviously musical. It does not reveal the soul of Margaret Van
Dorn--the soul that glowed in the girl who came to Prospect Township
fifteen years before, with banners flying to lay siege to Harvey. The
soul that glowed through those wonderful eyes upon Henry Fenn--where is
it? She has not been crossed in any desire of her life. She has enjoyed
every form of pleasure that money could buy for her; she is delving into
books that make the wrinkles come between her eyebrows, and is rubbing
the wrinkles out and the ideas from the books as fast as they come. She
is droning a formula for happiness, learned of the books that make her
head ache, and is repeating over and over, "God is good, and I am God,"
as one who would plaster truth upon his consciousness by the mere
repetition of it. But the truth does not help her. So she sits beside
her husband, a wax work figure of a woman, and he seems to treat her as
a wax figure. For he is clearly occupied with his own affairs.

When he is not bowing and smiling, a sneer is on his face. And when he
speaks to the horse his voice is harsh and mean. He holds an unlighted
cigar in his mouth as a terrier might hold a loathed rat; working the
muscles of his lips at times viciously but saying nothing. The soft,
black hat of his youthful days is replaced by a high, stiff, squarely
sawed felt hat which he imagines gives him great dignity. His clothes
have become so painfully scrupulous in their exact conformation to the
mode that he looks wooden. He has given so much thought to the subject
of "wherewithal shall ye be clothed," that the thought in some queer
spiritual curdling has appeared in the unyielding texture of his
artificial tailored skin, that seems to be a part of another
consciousness than his own.

Moreover, those first days he spent after the convention have chipped
the suavity from his countenance, and have written upon the bland,
complacent face all the cynicism of his nature. Triumph makes cynicism
arrogant, so the man is losing his mask. His nature is leering out of
his eyes, snarling out of his mouth, and where the little, lean lines
have pared away the flesh from his nose, a greedy, self-seeking pride is
peering from behind a great masterful nose. Thomas Van Dorn should be in
the adolescence of maturity; but he is in the old age of adolescence.
His skin has no longer the soft olive texture of youth; it is brown and
mottled and leathery. His lips--his lips once full and red, are pursing
and leadening.

Thus the pair go through the May twilight; and when the electric lights
begin to flash out at the corners, thus the Van Dorns ride before the
big black mass of the temple of love that looms among the young trees
upon the lawn. The woman alights from the trap. She pauses a moment upon
the stone block at the curbing. The man makes no sign of moving. She
takes the dog from the seat, and puts it on the ground. The man gathers
the reins tightly in his hands, then drops them again, lights his cigar,
and says behind his hands: "I'm going back downtown."

"Oh, you are?" echoes the woman.

"Yes, I am," replies the man sharply.

The woman is walking up the wide parking, with the dog. She makes no
reply. The man looks at her a second or two, and drives away, cutting
the horse to a mad speed as he rounds the corner.

Through the wide doors into the broad hall, up the grand staircase,
through the luxurious rooms goes the high Priestess of the Temple of
Love. It is a lonely house. For it is still in a state of social siege.
So far as Harvey is concerned, no one has entered it. So they live
rather quiet lives.

On that May evening the mistress of the great house sits in her bed room
by the mild electric, trying book after book, and putting each down in
disgust. Philosophy fails to hold her attention--poetry annoys her;
fiction--the book of the moment, which happened to be "The Damnation of
Theron Ware," makes her wince, and so she reaches under the reading
stand, and brings out from the bottom of a pile of magazines a salacious
novel filled with stories of illicit amours. This she reads until her
cheeks burn and her lips grow dry and she hears the roll of a buggy down
the street, and knows that it must be nearly midnight and that her mate
is coming. She slips the book back into its place of concealment, picks
up "The Harmonious Universe," and walks with some show of grandeur in
her trailing garments down the stairs to greet her lord.

"You up?" he asks. He glances at the book and continues: "Reading that
damn trash? Why don't you read Browning or Thackeray or--if you want
philosophy Emerson or Carlyle? That's rot."

He puts what scorn he can into the word rot, and in her sweetest,
falsest, baby voice the woman answers:

"My soul craves communion with the infinite and would seek the deeper
harmonies. I just love to wander the wide wastes between the worlds like
I've been doing to-night."

The man grabs the book from her, and finding her finger in a place far
beyond the end of the cut leaves, he looks at her, and sneers a profane
sneer and passes up the stairs. She stares after him as he slowly
mounts, without joy in his tread, and she follows him lightly as he goes
to his room. She pauses before the closed door for a lonely moment and
then sighs and goes her way. She mumbles, "God is good and I am God,"
many times to herself, but she lies down to sleep wondering whimperingly
in a half-doze if Pelleas and Melisande found things so dreadfully
disillusioning after all they suffered for love and for each other. As a
footnote to this picture may we not ask:

Is the thing called love worth having at the cost of character? The
trouble with the poets is that they take their ladies and gentlemen of
pliable virtue and uncertain rectitude, only to the altar. One may ask
with some degree of propriety if the duplicity they practiced, the lying
they did and justified by the sacredness of their passion, the crimes
they committed and the meannesses they went through to attain their ends
were after all worth while. Also one may ask if the characters they
made--or perhaps only revealed, were not such as to make them wholly
miserable when they began to "live happily ever after"? A symposium
entitled "Is Love Really Worth It?" by such distinguished characters as
Helen of Troy, Mrs. Potiphar and Cleopatra, might be improving reading,
if the ladies were capable of telling the truth after lives of
dissimulation and deceit.

But let us leave philosophy and look at another picture. This time we
have the Morton family.

The Captain's feet are upon the shining fender. There is no fire in the
stove. It is May. But it is the Captain's habit to warm his feet there
when he is in the house at night, and he never fails to put them upon
the fender and go through his evening routine. First it is his paper;
then it is his feet; then it is his apple, and finally a formal
discussion of what they will have for breakfast, with the Captain always
voting for hash, and declaring that there are potatoes enough left over
and meat enough unused to make hash enough for a regiment. But before he
gets to the hash question, the Captain this evening leads off with this:

"Curious thing about spring." The world of education, reading its
examination papers, concurs in silence. The worlds of fashion and of the
fine arts also assenting, the Captain goes on: "Down in South Harvey
to-day; kind o' dirty down there; looks kind of smoky and tin cannery,
and woe-begone, like that class of people always looks, but 'y gory,
girls, it's just as much spring down there as it is up here, only more
so! eh? I says to Laura, looking like a full bloom peach tree herself in
her kindergarten, says I, 'Laura, it's terrible pretty down here when
you get under the smoke and the dirt. Every one just a lovin',' says I,
'and going galloping into life kind of regardless. There's Nate and
Anne, and there's Violet and Hogan, and there's a whole mess of fresh
married couples in Little Italy, and the Huns and Belgians are all broke
out with the blamedest dose of love y' ever see! And they's whole rafts
of 'em to be married before June!' Well, Laura, she laughed and if it
wasn't like pouring spring itself out of a jug. Spring," he mused,
"ain't it curious about spring!"

Champing his apple the Captain gesticulates slowly with his open pocket
knife, "Love"--he reflects; then backs away from his discussion and
begins anew: "Less take--say Anne and Nate, a happy couple--him a lean,
eagle-beaked New England kind of a man; her--a little quick-gaited,
big-eyed woman and sping! out of the Providence of Goddlemighty comes a
streak of some kind of creepy, fuzzy lightning and they're struck dumb
and blind and plumb crazy--eh?"

He champs for a time on the apple, "Eighteen sixty-one--May,
sixty-one--me a tidy looking young buck--girl--beautiful girl with
reddish brown hair and bluest eyes in the world. Sping! comes the
lightning, and melts us together and the whole universe goes pink and
rose-colored. No sense--neither of us--no more'n Anne and Nate, just one
idea. I can't think of nothing but her--war isn't much; shackles on four
millions slaves--no consequence; the Colonel caught us kissing in his
tent the day I left for the army; union forever--mere circumstance in
the lives of two crazy people--in a world mostly eyes and lips and soft
hands and whispers and flowers, eh--and--" The Captain does not finish
his sentence.

He rises, puts his apple core on the table, and says after a great sigh:
"And so we bloomed and blossomed and come to fruit and dried up and
blowed away, and here they are--all the rest of 'em--ready to bloom--and
may God help 'em and keep 'em." He pauses, "Help 'em and keep 'em and
when they have dried up and blowed away--let 'em remember the perfume
clean to the end!" He turns away from the girls, wipes his eyes with his
gnarled fingers, and after clearing his throat says: "Well, girls, how
about hash for breakfast--what say?"

The wheels of the Judge's buggy grate upon the curbing nearby and the
Captain remarks: "Judge Tom gets in a little later every night now. I
heard him dump her in at eight, and here it is nearly eleven--pretty
careless,--pretty careless; he oughtn't to be getting in this late for
four or five years yet--what say?" Public opinion again is divided.
Fashion and the fine arts hold that it is Margaret's fault and that she
is growing to be too much of a poseur; but the schools, which are the
bulwarks of our liberties, maintain that he is just as bad as she. And
what is more to the point--such is the contention of the eldest Miss
Morton of the fourth grade in the Lincoln school, he has driven around
to the school twice this spring to take little Lila out riding, and even
though her mother has told the teachers to let the child go if she cared
to, the little girl would not go and he was mean to the principal and
insolent, though Heaven knows it is not the principal's fault, and if
the janitor hadn't been standing right there--but it really makes little
difference what would have happened; for the janitor in every school
building, as every one knows, is a fierce and awesome creature who keeps
more dreadful things from happening that never would have happened than
any other single agency in the world.

The point which the eldest Miss Morton was accenting was this, that he
should have thought of Lila before he got his divorce.

Now the worlds of fashion and the fine arts and the schools themselves,
bulwarks that they are, do not realize how keenly a proud man's heart
must be touched if day by day he meets the little girl upon the street,
sees her growing out of babyhood into childhood, a sweet, bright,
lovable child, and he yearns for something sincere, something that has
no poses, something that will love him for himself. So he swallows a
lump of pride as large as his handsome head, and drives to the school
house to see his child--and is denied. In the Captain's household they
do not know what that means. For in the Captain's household which
includes a six room house--not counting the new white painted bathroom,
the joint product of the toil of the handsome Miss Morton and the eldest
Miss Morton, and not counting the basket for the kitten christened
Epaminondas, and maintained by the youngest Miss Morton over family
protests--in the Captain's household there is peace and joy, if one
excepts the numbing fear of a "step" that sometimes prostrates the
eldest Miss Morton and her handsome sister; a fear that shelters their
father against the wily designs of their sex upon a meek and defenseless
and rather obliging gentleman. So they cannot put themselves in the
place of the rich and powerful neighbors next door. The Mortons hear the
thorns crackling under the pot, but they cannot appreciate the heat.

And now we come to the last picture.

It is still an evening in May!

"Well, how is the missionary to South Harvey," chirrups the Doctor as he
mounts the steps, and sees his daughter, waiting for him on the veranda.
She looks cool and fresh and beautiful. Her eyes and her skin glow with
health and her face beams upon him out of a soul at peace.

"She's all right," returns the daughter, smiling. "How's the khedive of
Greeley county?"

As the Doctor mounts the steps she continues: "Sit down, father--I've
something on my mind." To her father's inquiring face she replied, "It's
Lila. Her father has been after her again. She just came home crying as
though her little heart would break. It's so pitiful--she loves him;
that is left over from her babyhood; but she is learning
someway--perhaps from the children, perhaps from life--what he has
done--and when he tries to attract her--she shrinks away from him."

"And he knows why--he knows why, Laura." The Doctor taps the floor
softly with his cane. "It isn't all gone--Tom's heart, I mean.
Somewhere deep in his consciousness he is hungering for affection--for
respect--for understanding. You haven't seen Tom's eyes recently?" The
daughter makes no reply. "I have," he continues. "They're burned
out--kind of glassy--scummed over with the searing of the hell he
carries in his heart--like the girls' eyes down in the Row. For he is
dying at the heart--burning out with everything he has asked for in his
hands, yet turning to Lila!"

"Father," she says with her eyes brimming, "I'm not angry with Tom--only
sorry. He hasn't hurt me--much--when it's all figured out. I still have
my faith--my faith in folks--and in God! Really to take away one's faith
is the only wrong one can do to another!"

The father says, "The chief wrong he did you was when he married you. It
was nobody's fault; I might have stopped it--but no man can be sure of
those things. It was just one of the inevitable mistakes of youth, my
dear, that come into our lives, one way or another. They fall upon the
just and the unjust--without any reference to deserts."

She nods her assent and they sit listening to the sounds of the closing
day--to the vesper bell in the Valley, to the hum of the trolley
bringing its homecomers up from the town; to the drone of the five
o'clock whistles in South Harvey, to the rattle of homebound buggies.
Twice the daughter starts to speak. The second time she stops the Doctor
pipes up, "Let it come--out with it--tell your daddy if anything is on
your mind." She smiles up into his mobile face, to find only sympathy
there. So she speaks, but she speaks hesitatingly.

"I believe that I am going to be happy--really and truly happy!" She
does not smile but looks seriously at her father as she presses his hand
and pats it. "I am finding my place--doing my work--creating
something--not the home that I once hoped for--not the home that I would
have now, but it is something good and worth while. It is self respect
in me and self respect in those wives and mothers and children in South
Harvey. All over the place I find its roots--the shrivelled parching
roots of self-respect, and the aspiration that grows with self respect.
Sometimes I see it in a geranium flowering in a tomato can, set in a
window; oftentimes in a cheap lace curtain; occasionally in a
struggling, stunted yellow rose bush in the hard-beaten earth of a
dooryard; or in a second hand wheezy cabinet organ in some front
bedroom--in a thousand little signs of aspiration, I find America
asserting itself among these poor people, and as I cherish these things
I find happiness asserting itself in my life. So it's my job, my
consecrated job in this earth--to water the geranium, to prune the rose,
to mulch the roots of self-respect among these people, and I am happy,
father, happier every day that I walk that way."

She looks wistfully into her father's face. "Father, you won't quite
understand me when I tell you that the tomato cans with their geraniums
behind those gray lace curtains, that make Harvey people smile, are
really not tomato cans at all. They are social dynamite bombs that one
day will blow into splinters and rubbish the injustices, the cruel
injustices of life that the poor suffer at the hands of their
exploiters. The geranium is the flower, the spring flower of the divine
discontent, which some day shall bear great and wonderful fruit."

"Rather a swift pace you're setting for a fat man, Laura," pipes the
Doctor, adding earnestly: "There you go talking like Grant Adams! Don't
let Grant Adams fool you, child: the end of the world isn't here.
Grant's a good boy, Laura, and I like him; but he's getting a kind of
Millerite notion that we're about to put on white robes and go straight
up to glory, politically and socially and every which way, in a few
years, and there's nothing to it. Grant's a good son, and a good
brother, and a good friend and neighbor, but"--the Doctor pounds his
chair arm vehemently, "there are bats, my dear, bats in his belfry just
the same. Don't get excited when you see Grant mount his haystack to
jump into the crack o' doom for the established order!"

The daughter smiles at him, but she answers:

"Perhaps Grant is touched--touched with the mad impatience of God's
fools, father. I don't always follow Grant. He goes his way and I go
mine. But I am sure of this, that the thing which will really start
South Harvey, and all the South Harveys in the world out of their dirt
and misery, and vice, is not our dreams for them, but their dreams for
themselves. They must see the vision. They must aspire. They must feel
the impulse to sacrifice greatly, to consecrate themselves deeply, to
give and give and give of themselves that their children may know better
things. And it is my work to arouse their dreams, to inspire their
visions, to make them yearn for better living. I am trying to teach them
to use and to love beautiful things, that they may be restless among
ugly things. I think beauty only serves God as the handmaiden of
discontent! And, father, way down deep in my heart--I know--I know
surely that I must do this--that it is my reason for being--now that
life has taken the greater joy of home from me. So," she concludes
solemnly; "these people whom I love, they need me, but father, God and
you only know how I need them. I don't know about Grant,--I mean why he
is going his solitary way, but perhaps somewhere in his heart there is a
wound! Perhaps all of God's fools--those who live queer, unnormal
self-forgetting lives, are the broken and rejected pieces of life's
masonry which the builder is using in his own wise way. As for the plan,
it is not ours. Grant and I, broken spawl in the rising edifice, we and
thousands like us, odd pieces that chink in yet hold the strain--we must
be content to hold the load and know always--always know that after all
the wall is rising! That is enough."

And now we must put aside the pictures and get on with the story.



CHAPTER XXX

GRANT ADAMS PREACHING A MESSAGE OF LOVE RAISES THE VERY DEVIL IN HARVEY


The most dramatic agency in life is time--time that escapes the staged
drama. The passing years, the ceaseless chiselling of continuous events
upon a soul, the reaction of a creed upon the material routine of the
days, the humdrum living through of life that brings to it its final
color and form--these things shape us and guide us, make us what we are,
and alas, the story and the stage may only mention them. It is all very
fine to say that as the years of work and aspiration passed, Grant
Adams's channel of life grew narrower. But what does that tell? Does it
tell of the slow, daily sculpturing upon his character of the three big,
emotional episodes of his life? To be a father in boyhood, a father
ashamed, yet in duty bound to love and cherish his child; to face death
in youth horribly and escape only when other men's courage save him; to
react upon that experience in a great spiritual awakening that all but
touched madness; and to face unspeakable pain and terror and possible
death to justify one's fanatic consecration. Then day by day to renounce
ambition, to feel no desire for those deeper things of the heart that
gather about a home and the joys of a home; to be atrophied where others
are quick and to be supersensitive and highstrung where others are dull;
these are facts of Grant Adams's life, but the greater facts are hidden;
for they pass under the slow and inexorably moving current of life. They
are that part of the living through of life that may not be staged nor
told.

But something of the living through is marked on the man. Here he stands
toward the close of the century that bore him--a tall, spare,
red-haired, flint-visaged, wire-knit man, prematurely middle-aging in
late youth. Under his high white forehead are restless blue eyes--deep,
clear, challenging, combative blue eyes, a big nose protrudes from under
the eyes that marks a willful, uncompromising creature and a big strong
mouth, not finely cut, but with thick, hard lips, often chapped, that
cover large irregular teeth. The face is determined and dogged--almost
brutal sometimes when at rest; but when a smile lights it, a charm and
grace from another being illumines the solemn countenance and Grant
Adams's heart is revealed. The face is Puritan--all Adams, dour New
England Adams, and the smile Irish--from the joyous life of Mary Sands.

We may only see the face: here and there on it is the mark of the
sculptor's tool: now and then a glare or a smile reveals what deep
creases and gashes the winds of the passing years have made in the soul
behind the mask. Here and there, as a rising strident voice in
passionate exhortation lifts, we may hear the roar of the narrowing
channel into which his life is rushed with augmented force as he hurries
forward into his destiny. In that tumult, family, home, ambition, his
very child itself that was his first deep wellspring of love, are
slipping from him into the torrent. The flood washes about him; his one
idea dominates him. He is restless under it--restless even with the
employment of the hour. The unions, for which he has been working for
more than half a decade, do not satisfy him. His aim is perfection and
mortality irritates him, but does not discourage him. For even vanity is
slipping from him in the erosion of the waters rushing down their
narrowing groove.

But it is only his grim flint face we see; only his high strident, but
often melodiously sympathetic voice we hear; only his wiry, lank body
with its stump of a right arm that stands before us. The minutes--awful
minutes some of them--the hours, painful wrestling hours, the days,
doubt-ridden days, and the long monotonous story of the years, we may
not know. For the living through of life still escapes us, and only
life's tableau of the moment is before us.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Now whatever gloss of gayety Dr. Nesbit might put upon his opinion of
Grant Adams and his work in the world, it was evident that the Doctor's
opinion of that work was not high. But it was comparatively high; for
Harvey's opinion of Grant Adams and his work was abysmal in its depth.
He was running his life on a different motor from the motor which moved
Harvey; the town was moving after a centripetal force--every one was for
himself, and the devil was entitled to the hindermost. Grant Adams was
centrifugal; he was not considering himself particularly and was
shamelessly taking heed of the hindermost which was the devil's by
right. And so men said in their hearts, if this man wins, there will be
the devil to pay. For Grant was going about the district spreading
discontent. He was calling attention to the violation of the laws in the
mines; he was calling attention to the need of other laws to further
protect the miners and smelter men. He was going about from town to town
in the Valley building up the unions and urging the men to demand more
wages, either in actual money or in shorter hours, improved labor
conditions, and cheaper rent and better houses from the company which
housed the families of the workers.

"Why," he asked, "should labor bear the burden of industry and take its
leavings?"

"Why," he demanded, "should capital toil not nor spin and be clothed as
Solomon in his glory?"

"Why," he argued, "should the profits of toil be used to buy more tools
for toil and not more comforts for toil?"

"Why, why--" he challenged Market Street, "is the partnership of
society, not a partnership, but a conspiracy?"

Now Market Street had long been wrathful at that persistent Why.

But when it became known that John Dexter had invited Grant Adams to
occupy the pulpit of the Congregational Church one Sunday evening to
state his case, Market Street's wrath choked it. For several years John
Dexter had been preaching sermons that made the choir the only possible
theme of conversation between him and Ahab Wright. John Dexter had been
crucified a thousand times by the sordid greed of man in Harvey, and had
cried out in the wilderness of his pulpit against it; but his cries fell
upon deaf ears, or in dumb hearts.

The invitation to Grant to speak at John Dexter's Sunday evening service
was more of a challenge to Harvey than Harvey comprehended. But even if
the town did not entirely realize the seriousness of the challenge, at
least the minister found himself summoned by Market Street to a meeting
to discuss the wisdom of his invitation. Whereupon John Dexter accepted
the invitation and, girding up his loins, went as a strong man rejoicing
to run a race.

To what a judgment seat they summoned John Dexter! First, up spake
Commerce. "Dr. Dexter," said Commerce--Commerce always referred to John
Dexter as Doctor, though no Doctor was he and he knew it well, "Dr.
Dexter, we feel that your encouragement--hum--uhm--well, your patronage
of this man Adams, in his--well, shall we say incendiary--" a harsh word
is incendiary, so Commerce stopped and touched its graying side whiskers
reverently and patted its immaculate white necktie, and then went on:
"--well perhaps indiscreet will do!" With Commerce indeed there is no
vast difference between the indiscreet and the incendiary. "--indiscreet
agitation against the--well--uhm--the way we have to conduct business,
is--is regrettable,--at least regrettable!"

"Why?" interrupted John Dexter sharply, throwing Commerce sadly out of
balance. But the Law, which is the palladium of our liberties, answered
for Commerce in a slow snarling, "because he is preaching discontent."

"But Mr. Calvin," returned John Dexter quickly, "if any one would come
to town preaching discontent to Wright & Perry, showing them how to make
more money, to enlarge their profits, to rise among their fellow
merchants--would you refuse to give him audience in a pulpit?" The Law
did not deign to answer the preacher and then Industry took heart to
say, pulling its military goatee vigorously, and clearing its dear old
throat for a passage at arms: "'Y gory man, there's always been a
working class and they've always had to work like sixty and get the
worst of it, I guess, and they always will--what say? You can't improve
on the way the world is made. And when she's made, she's made--what say?
I tell you now, you're wasting your time on that class of people."

The antagonists looked into each other's kindly eyes. Industry
triumphing in its logic, the minister hunting in his heart for the soft
answer that would refute the logic without hurting its author.
"Captain," he said, "there was once a wiser than we who went about
preaching a new order, spreading discontent with injustice, whose very
mother was of the lowest industrial class."

"Yes--and you know what happened to Him," sneered the Courts, which are
the keystones of government in the structure of civilization. "And,"
continued the Courts, in a grand and superior voice, "you can't drag
business into religion, sir. Religion is one thing and I respect
it,"--titters from the listening angels, "--and business is another
thing, and we think, sir, that you are trying to mix the insoluble, and
as business men who have our own deep religious convictions--" inaudible
guffaws from the angels, "--we feel the sacrilege of asking this
blatherskite Adams to speak on any subject in so sacred a place as our
consecrated pulpit, sir." Hoarse hoots from the angels.

No soft benignity beamed in the preacher's face as he turned to the
Courts. "My pulpit, Judge," answered John Dexter sternly, "first of all
stands for the gospel of Justice between man and man. It will afford
sanctuary for the thief and the Magdalene, but only the penitent thief
and the weeping Magdalene!" And John Dexter brought down a resounding
fist on the table before him. "I believe that the first duty of religion
is to preach shame on the wicked, that they may quit their wickedness,
and if," John Dexter's voice rose as he went on, "in the light of our
widening intelligence we see that employers are organized wickedly to
rob their workers of justice in one way or another, I stand with those
who would make the thief disgorge for his own soul's sake, incidentally,
but chiefly that justice may come into an evil world and men may not
mock the mercy and goodness of God by pointing at the evil men do
unrebuked in His name, and under His servants' noses. My pulpit is a
free pulpit, sir. When it is not that, I shall leave it. And even though
I do not agree sometimes with a man's message, so long as my pulpit is
free, any man who desires to cry stop thief, in the darkness of this
world, may lift his voice there, and no man shall say him nay! Have you
gentlemen anything further to offer?"

Commerce ceased rubbing its hands. Its alter ego, Business, was
obviously getting ready to say something, but was only whistling for the
station, and the crowd knew it would be a minute before his stuttering
speech should arrive. Patriotism was leaning forward with its hands back
of its ears, smiling pleasantly at what he did not understand, and
Industry, who saw the strings in which his world was wrapped up for
delivery, cut, and the world sprawled in confusion before him by the
preacher's defiance, was pulling his military goatee solemnly when
Science toddled in, white-clad, pink-faced, smoking his short pipe and
clicking his cane rather more snappily than usual. He saw that he had
punctuated an embarrassed situation. Only Religion and Patriotism were
smiling. Science brought his cane down with a whack and piped out:

"So you are going to muzzle John Dexter, are you--you witch-burning old
pharisees. I heard of your meeting, and I just thought I'd come around
to the bonfire! What are you trying to do here, anyway?"

At last Business which had been whistling for the station was ready to
pull in; so it unloaded itself thus: "We are p-protesting, Doc, at
th-th-th-th m-m-m-man Adams--this l-l-labor sk-sk-skate and
s-s-socialist occupying J-J-John Dexter's p-pulp-p-pit!"

Science looked at Business a grave moment, then burst out, "What are you
all afraid of! Here you are, a lot of grown men with fat bank accounts
sitting around in a blue funk because Grant Adams does a little more or
less objectionable talking. I don't agree with Grant much more than you
do. But you're a lot of old hens, cackling around here because Grant
Adams invades the roost to air his views. Let him talk. Let 'em all
talk. Talk is cheap; otherwise we wouldn't have free speech." He grinned
cynically as he asked, "Haven't you any faith in the Constitution of the
fathers? They were smart enough to know that free speech was a safety
valve; let 'em blow off. Then go down and organize and vote 'em
afterwards according to the dictates of your own conscience. Politics is
the antidote for free speech!" The Doctor glared at the Courts, smiled
amiably at Business and winked conspicuously at Religion. Religion
blushed at the blasphemy and as there seemed to be nothing further
before the house the Doctor and John Dexter left the room.

But the honest indignation of Market Street that an agitator should
appear in a pulpit--that an agitator for anything, should appear in any
pulpit--waxed strong. For it was assumed that religion had nothing to do
with social conduct; religion was solely a matter of individual
salvation. Religion was a matter concerned entirely with getting to
heaven oneself, and not at all a matter of getting others to heaven
except as they took the narrow and individual path. The idea that
environment affects character and that society through politics and
social and economic institutions may change a man's environments and
thus affect the characters and the chances for Heaven of whole sections
of the population, was an idea which had not been absorbed by Market
Street in Harvey. So Market Street raged.

That evening when Grant Adams returned from work he received two
significant notes. One was from John Dexter and ran:

"Dear Grant: Fearing that you may hear of the comment my invitation to
you to speak in my pulpit is causing and fearing that you may either
decide at the last minute not to come or that you will modify your
remarks out of consideration for me, I write to say that while of course
I may not agree with everything you advocate, yet my pulpit is a free
pulpit and I cannot consent that you restrict its freedom in saying your
full say as a man, any more than I could consent to have my own freedom
restricted. Yours in the faith--J. D."

The other note ran: "Father says to tell you to tone it down. I have
delivered his message. I say here is your chance to get the truth where
it is most needed, and even if for the most part it falls on stony
ground--you still must sow it.--L. N. VD."

Sunday evening saw a large congregation in the pews of the Rev. John
Dexter's church. In the front and middle portion of the church were the
dwellers on the Hill, those whose lines fell in pleasant places. They
were the "Haves" of the town,--conspicuous and highly respectable with
rustle of silks and flutter of ribbons.

And back of these sat a score of men and women from South Harvey, the
"Have-nots," the dwellers in the dreary valley. There was Denny Hogan,
late of the mines, but now of the smelter--with his curly hair plastered
over his forehead, and with his wife, she that was Violet Mauling
holding a two-year-old baby with sweaty, curly red hair to her breast
asleep; there was Ira Dooley, also late of the mines, but now proprietor
of a little game of chance over the Hot Dog Saloon; there was Pat
McCann, a pit boss and proud of it, with Mrs. McCann--looking her eyes
out at Mrs. Nesbit's hat. There was John Jones, in his Sunday best, and
Evan Hughes and Tom Williams, the wiry little Welsh miners who had faced
death with Grant Adams five years before. They were with him that night
at the church with all the pride in him that they could have if he were
one of the real nobility, instead of a labor agitator with a little more
than local reputation. And there were Dick and his boy Mugs and the
silent Mrs. Bowman and Bennie her youngest and Mary the next to the
youngest. And Mrs. Bowman in the South Harvey colony was a person of
consequence, for she nodded to the Nesbits and the Mortons and to Laura
and to Mrs. Calvin and to all the old settlers of Harvey--rather
conspicuously. She had the gratification of noting that South Harvey saw
the nobility nod back. With the South Harvey people came Amos Adams in
his rough gray clothes and rough gray beard. Jasper Adams, in the
highest possible collar, and in the gayest possible shell-pink necktie
and under the extremest clothes that it might be possible for the
superintendent of a Sunday School to wear, shared a hymnal, when the
congregation rose to sing, with the youngest Miss Morton. There were
those who thought the singing was merely a duet between young Mr. Adams
and the youngest Miss Morton--so much feeling did they put into the
music. Mr. Brotherton was so impressed, that he marked young Adams for a
tryout at the next funeral where there was a bass voice needed, making
the mental reservation that no one needed to look at the pimples of a
boy who could sing like that.

When the congregation sat down after the first hymn John Dexter formally
presented Grant Adams to the congregation. The young man rose, walked to
the chancel rail and stood for a moment facing his audience without
speaking. The congregation saw a tall, strong featured, uncouth man with
large nose and a big mouth--clearly masculine and not finely chiselled.
In these features there was something almost coarse and earthy; but in
the man's eyes and forehead, there lurked the haunting, fleeting shadow
of the eternal feminine in his soul. His eyes were deep and blue and
tender, and in repose always seemed about to smile, while his forehead,
high and broad, topped by a shock of red hair, gave him a kind of
intellectual charity that made his whole countenance shine with
kindness. Yet his clothes belied the promise of his brow. They were
ill-fitting, with an air of Sunday-bestness that gave him an incongruous
scarecrow effect. It was easy to see why Market Street was beginning to
call him that "Mad Adams." As he lifted his glance from the floor, his
eyes met Laura Van Dorn's, then flitted away quickly, and the smile she
should have had for her own, he gave to his audience. He began speaking
with his arms behind him to hide the crippled arm which was tipped with
a gloved iron claw. His voice was low and gentle, yet his hearers felt
its strength in reserve.

"I suppose," he began slowly, "every man has his job in the world, and I
presume my job seems rather an unnecessary one to some of my friends,
and I can hardly blame them. For the assumption of superiority that it
may seem to require upon the whole must be distasteful to them. For as a
professional apostle of discontent, urging men to cease the worship of
things as they are, I am taking on myself a grave burden--that of
leading those who come with me, into something better. In the end
perhaps, you will not be proud of me. For my vision may be a delusion.
Time may leave me naked to the cold truth of life, and I may awaken from
my dreaming to reality. That is possible. But now I see my course; now I
feel the deep call of a duty I cannot resist." He was speaking softly
and in hardly more than a conversational tone, with his hand at his side
and his gloved claw behind him. He lifted his hand and spoke in a deeper
tone.

"I have come to you--to those of you who lead sheltered lives of
comfort, amid work and scenes you love, to tell you of your neighbors;
to call to you in their name, and in the name of our common God for
help. I have come from the poor--to tell you of their sorrows, to beg of
you to come over into Macedonia and help us; for without you we are
helpless. True--God knows how true--the poor outnumber you by ten to
one. True, they have the power within them to rise, but their strength
is as water in their hands. They need you. They need your neighborly
love."

As he spoke something within him, some power of his voice or of his
presence played across the congregation like a wind. The wind which at
first touched a few who bent forward to hear him, was moving every one.
Faces gradually set in attention. He went on:

"How wonderful is this spirit of life that has come rolling in through
the eons, rolling in from some vast illimitable sea of life that we call
God. For ages and ages on this planet life could only give to new life
the power to feed and propagate, could only pass on to new life the
heritage of instinct; then another impulse of the outer sea washed in
and there came a day when life could imitate, could learn a little,
could pass on to new life some slight power of growth. And then came
welling in from the unknown bourne another wave, and lo! life could
reason, and God heard men whisper, Father, and deep called unto deep.
Since then through the long centuries, through the gray ages, life
slowly has been rising, slowly coming in from the hidden sea that laves
the world. Millions and millions of men are doomed to know nothing of
this life that gives us joy; millions are held bound in a social
inheritance that keeps them struggling for food, over outworn paths,
mere creatures of primal instinct, whose Godhood is taken from them at
birth; by you--by you who get what you do not earn from those who earn
what they do not get."

He turned to the group near the rear of the room, looked at them and
continued:

"The poor need your neighborly sacrifice, and in that neighborly love
and sacrifice you will grow in stature more than they. What you give you
will keep; what you lose you will gain. The brotherhood you build up
will bless and comfort you.

"The poor," he exclaimed passionately, "need you, but how, before God
you need them! For only a loving understanding of your neighbors' lives
will soften your calloused hearts. Long benumbing hours of grimy work,
sordid homes amid daily and hourly scenes of filth and shame!" He leaned
forward and cried: "Listen to me, Ahab Wright," and he thrust forward
his iron claw toward the merchant while the congregation gasped, "what
if you had to strip naked and bathe in a one-roomed hut before your
family every night when you came home, dirty and coal-stained from your
day's work! the beggar and the harlot and the thief nearby." He moved
his accusing claw and the startled eyes of the crowd followed it as it
pointed to Daniel Sands and Grant exclaimed: "Listen, Uncle Dan Sands,
how would you like to have your daughter see the things the children see
who live in your tenements next to the Burned District, which is your
property also! Poisoned food, cheap, poisoned air, cheap, poisoned
thoughts--all food and air and ideas, the cast-off refuse of your daily
lives who live in these sheltered homes. You have a splendid sewer
system up here; but it flows into South Harvey and the Valley towns, a
great open ravine, because you people sitting here who own the property
down there won't tax yourselves to enclose those sewers that poison us!"
A faint--rather dazed smile ran over the congregation like a wraith of
smoke. He felt that the smoke proved that he had struck fire. He went
on: "Love, great aspiring love of fathers and mothers and sisters and
brothers, love stifled by fell circumstance, by cruel events, and love
that winces in agony at seeing children and father and brother go down
in the muck all around them--that is the heritage of poverty.

"Hear me, Kyle Perry and John Kollander. I know you think poverty is the
social punishment of the unfit. But I tell you poverty is not the
punishment of the weak. Poverty is a social condition to which millions
are doomed and from which only hundreds escape when the doom of birth is
sealed. What has Ahab Wright given to Harvey more than James McPherson,
who discovered coal here? What has Daniel Sands done for Harvey more
than Tom Williams, who has spent his life at hard work mining coal? Is
not his coal as valuable as Uncle Daniel's interest? Friends--think of
these things!"

The wraith of smoke that had appeared when Grant first began speaking
personally to the men of Harvey, in a minute had grown to a surer
evidence of fire. The smiling ceased. Angry looks began flashing over
the faces before Grant, like darts of flame. And after these looks came
a great black cloud of wrath that was as perceptible as a gust of smoke.
He felt that soon the fire would burst forth. But he hurried on with his
message: "Poverty is not the social punishment of the weak, I repeat it.
Poverty is a social inheritance of the many, a condition which holds men
hard and fast--a condition that you may change, you who have so much.
All this coal and oil and mineral have profited you greatly, oh, men of
Harvey. You are rich, Daniel Sands. You are prosperous, Ahab Wright. You
have every comfort around you and yours, John Kollander, and you, Joseph
Calvin, are rearing your children in luxury compared with Dick Bowman's
children. Hasn't he worked as hard as you? Here are Ira Dooley and Denny
Hogan. They started as equals with you up here and have worked as hard
and have lived average lives. Yet if their share is a fair share of the
earnings of this community, you have an unfair share. How did you get
it?" He leaned out over the chancel rail, pointed a bony, accusing
finger at the congregation and glared at the eyes before him angrily.
Quickly he recovered his poise but brought his steel claw down on the
pulpit beside him with a sharp clash as he cried again, "How did you get
it?"

Then it was that the flame of indignation burst forth. It came first in
a hiss and another and a third--then a crackling fire of hisses greeted
his last sentence. When the hissing calmed, his voice rose slightly. He
went on:

"We of the middle classes--we have risen above the great mass below us:
we are permitted to learn--a little--to imitate and expand somewhat. But
above us, thank God, is another group in the social organization. Here
at the top stand the blessed, privileged few who are the world's
prophets and dreamers and seers--they know God; they drink deep of the
rising tide of everlasting life that is booming in, flooding the world
with mercy and love and brotherhood; and what they see in one
century--and die for disclosing--we all see in the next century and
fight to hold it fast!" He stood looking at the floor, then opened wide
his glaring eyes, a fanatic's mania blazing in them, lifted his arms and
cried with a great voice like a trumpet: "You--you--you who have known
God's mercy and his goodness and his love--why, in the dead Christ's
name do you sit here and let the flood of life be dammed away from your
brothers, stealing the waters of life like thieves from your brethren by
your cruel laws and customs and the chains of social circumstance!"

They tried to hiss again but he hurried on as one possessed of a demon:
"A little love, a little sacrifice, a little practical brotherly care
from each of you each day would help. We don't want your alms, we want
justice. Thousands of babies--loved just as yours are loved--are
slaughtered every month through poisoned food that comes from commercial
greed. Thousands of fathers and brothers over this land are killed every
year because it is cheaper to kill them than to protect them by
machinery guarded and watched. Their blood is upon you--for by your
laws, by your middle class courts you could stop its flowing. Thousands
of mothers die every week from poor housing--you could stop that if you
would. They are stopping it by laws in other lands. Millions of girls
the world over are led like sheep to shameful lives because of
industrial conditions that your vote and voice could change; and yet,"
his voice lost its accusing tone and he spoke gently, even tenderly, "as
babies they cuddled in their mothers' arms and roused all the hope and
inspired all the love that a soft little body may bring. Millions and
millions of mothers who clasp their children to them in hope, must see
those children go into life to be broken and crushed by the weight from
above."

As Grant was speaking he noticed that Morty Sands was nodding his head
off in gorgeous approval. Then without thinking how his words might cut,
he cried, "And look at our good friend Morty Sands who enjoys every
luxury and is arrayed as the lilies of the field! What does Morty give
to society that he can promise the girl who marries him, comfort and
ease and all the happiness that physical affluence may bring? And then
there sits Mugs Bowman. What can Mugs offer his girl except a life of
hard, grinding work, a houseful of children and a death perhaps of slow
disease? Yet Mugs must have his houseful of children for they must all
work to support Morty. Where is the justice in a society organized like
this?

"For Christ's living sake," cried the man as his face glowed in his
emotion, "let life wash in from its holy source to these our brothers.
Shame on you--you greedy ones, you dollar worshipers--you dam the
stream, you muddy the waters, you poison the well of
life--shame--shame!" he cried and then paused, gloated perhaps in his
pause, for the storm he saw gathering in the crowd, to break. His face
was transfigured by the passion in his heart and seemed illumined with
wrath.

"The flag--the flag!" bawled deaf John Kollander, rising, "He is
desecrating Old Glory!"

Then fire met fire and the conflagration was past control. It raged over
the church noisily.

"Look-a here, young man," called Joseph Calvin, standing in his seat.

"The flag--will no one defend the flag!" bellowed John Kollander, while
Rhoda, his wife, looked on with amiable approval.

"P-put him out," stuttered Kyle Perry, and his clerks and understrappers
joined the clamor.

"Well, say, men," cried George Brotherton in the confusion of hissing
and groaning, "can't you let the man talk? Is free speech dead in this
town?" His great voice silenced the crowd, and John Dexter was in the
pulpit holding out his hands. As he spoke the congregation grew silent,
and they heard him say:

"This is a free pulpit; this man shall not be disturbed." But Joseph
Calvin stamped noisily out of the church. John Kollander and his wife
marched out behind him with military tread and Kyle Perry and Ahab
Wright with their families followed, amid a shuffling of feet and a
clamor of voices. The men from South Harvey kept their places. There was
a whispering among them and Grant, fearing that they would start
trouble, called to them sternly:

"My friends must respect this house. Let property riot--poverty can
wait. It has waited a long time and is used to it."

When Market Street was gone, the speaker drew a deep breath and said in
a low, quiet voice charged with pent-up emotion: "Now that we are alone,
friends,--now that they are gone whose hearts needed this message, let
me say just this: God has given you who live beautiful lives the keeping
of his treasure. Let us ask ourselves this: Shall we keep it to share it
with our brethren in love, or shall we guard it against our brethren in
hate?"

He walked back to the rear of the room and sat, with his head bowed
down, beside his friends, spent and weary while the services closed.

At the church door Laura Van Dorn saw the despair that was somewhat a
physical reaction from weariness. So she cut her way through the group
and went to him, taking his arm and drawing him aside into the homebound
walk, as quickly as she could. He remained grim and spoke only in answer
to challenge or question from Laura. It was plain to her that he felt
that his speech was a failure; that he had not made himself understood;
that he had overstated his case. She was not sure herself that he had
not lost more ground than he had gained in the town. But she wrapped him
about in a garment of kindness--an almost maternal tenderness that was
balm to his heart. She did not praise his speech but she let him know
that she was proud of him, that her heart was in all that he had said,
even if he felt definitely that there were places in his adventure where
her head was not ready to go. She held no check upon the words that came
to her lips, for she felt, even deeper and surer than she felt her own
remoteness from the love which her girlhood had known, that in him it
was forever dead. No touch of his hand; no look of his eye, no quality
of his voice had come to her since her childhood, in which she could
find trace or suggestion that sex was alive in him. The ardor that
burned so wildly upon his face, the fire in his eyes that glowed when he
spoke of his work and his problems, seemed to have charred within him
all flower and beauty of romance. But they left with him a hunger for
sympathy. A desire to be mothered and a longing for a deep and sweet
understanding which made Laura more and more necessary to him as he went
into his life's pilgrimage. As they reached a corner, he left her with
her family while he turned away for a night walk.

As he walked, he was continually coming upon lovers passing or meeting
him in the night; and Grant seeing them felt his sense of isolation from
life renewed, but was not stirred to change his course. For hours he
wandered through the town and out of it into the prairies, with his
heart heavy and wroth at the iniquities of men which make the inequities
of life. For his demon kept him from sleep. If another demon, and
perhaps a gentler, tried to whisper to him that night of another life
and a sweeter, tried to turn him from his course into the normal walks
of man, tried to break his purpose and tempt him to dwell in the comely
tents of Kedar--if some gentler angels that would have saved him from a
harsher fate had beckoned to him and called him that night, through
passing lovers' arms and the murmur of loving voices, his eyes were
blind and his ears were deaf and his heart was hot with another passion.

Amos Adams was in bed when Grant came into the house. On the table was a
litter of writing paper. Grant sat down for a minute under the lamp. His
father in the next room stirred, and asked:

"What kept you?" And then, "I had a terrific time with Mr. Left
to-night." The father appeared in the doorway. "But just look there what
I got after a long session."

On the page were these words written in a little round, old-fashioned
hand, some one's interminably repeated prayer. "Angels guide him--angels
strengthen him; angels pray for him." These words were penned clear
across the page and on the next line and the next and the next to the
very bottom of the page, in a weary monotony, save that at the bottom of
the sheet the pen had literally run into the paper, so heavily was the
hand of the writer bearing down! Under that, written in the fine hand
used by Mr. Left was this:

"Huxley:--On earth I wrote that I saw one angel--'the strong, calm angel
playing for love.' Now I see the forces of good leading the world
forward, compelling progress; all are personal--just as the Great All
Encompassing Force is personal, just as human consciousness is personal.
The positive forces of life are angels--not exact--but the best figure.
So it is true that was written, 'there is more joy in Heaven'--and 'the
angels sang for joy.' This also is only a figure--but the best I can get
through to you. Angels guide us, angels strengthen us, angels pray for
us."



CHAPTER XXXI

IN WHICH JUDGE VAN DORN MAKES HIS BRAGS AND DR. NESBIT SEES A VISION


It was the last day of the last year of the Nineteenth Century--and a
fair, beautiful day it was. The sun shone over Harvey in spite of the
clouds from the smelter in South Harvey, and in spite of the clouds that
were blown by the soft, south wind up the Wahoo Valley from other
smelters and other coal mines, and a score of great smoke stacks in
Foley and Magnus and Plain Valley, where the discovery of coal and oil
and gas, within the decade that was passing, had turned the Valley into
a straggling town almost twenty miles long. So high and busy were the
chimneys that when the south wind blew toward the capital of this
industrial community, often the sun was dimmed in Harvey by a haze. But
on this fair winter's day the air was dry and cold and even in Harvey
shadows were black and clear, and the sun's warmth had set the redbirds
to singing in the brush and put so much joy into the world that Judge
Thomas Van Dorn had ventured out with his new automobile--a chugging,
clattering wonder that set all the horses of Greeley County on their
hind feet, making him a person of distinction in the town far beyond his
renown as a judge and an orator and a person of more than state-wide
reputation. But the Judge's automobile was frail and prone to err--being
not altogether unlike its owner in that regard. Thus many a time when it
chugged out of his barn so proudly, it came limping back behind a span
of mules. And so it happened on that bright, beautiful, December day
that the Judge was sitting upon a box in Captain Morton's shop, while
the Captain at his little forge was welding some bits of metal together
and discoursing upon the virtues of his Household Horse, which he was
assembling in small quantities--having arranged with a firm in South
Chicago to cast the two iron pieces that were needed.

"Now, for instance, on a clothes wringer," the Captain was saying: "It's
a perfect wonder on a clothes wringer: I have the agency of a clothes
wringer that is making agents rich all over the country. But women don't
like clothes wringers; why? Because they require such hard work. All
right--hitch on my Household Horse, and the power required is reduced
three-fifths and a day's wash may be put on the line as easy as a girl
could play The Maiden's Prayer on a piano--eh? Or, say, put it on a
churn--same Horse--one's all that's needed to a house. Or make it an ice
cream freezer or a cradle or a sewing machine, or anything on earth that
runs by a crank--and 'y gory, man, you make housework a joy. I sold
Laura one--traded her one for lessons for Ruth, and she says wash-day at
the Doctor's is like Sunday now--what say? Lila's so crazy about it they
can't keep her out of the basement while the woman works,--likes to
dabble in the water you know like all children, washing her doll
clothes, what say?"

But the Judge said nothing. The Captain tinkered with the metal, and
dipped it slowly in and out of a tub of dirty water to temper it, and as
he tried it in the groove where it belonged upon the automobile backed
up to the shop, he found that it was not exactly true, and went to work
to spring it back into line. The Judge looked around the shop--a barny,
little place filled with all sorts of wheels and pulleys and levers and
half-finished inventions that wouldn't work, and that, even if they
would work, would be of little consequence. There was an attempt to make
a self-oiler for buggy wheels, a half-finished contrivance that was
supposed to keep cordwood stacked in neat rows; an automatic contraption
to prevent coffeepots from burning; a cornsheller that would all but
work; a molasses faucet with an alcohol burner which was supposed to
make the sirup flow faster--but which instead sometimes blew up and
burned down grocery stores, and there were steamers and churns and
household contrivances which the Captain had introduced into the homes
of Harvey in past years, not of his invention, to be sure, but
contrivances that had inspired his eloquence, and were mute witnesses to
his prowess--trophies of the chase. Above the forge were rows of his
patent sprockets, all neatly wrapped in brown paper, and under this row
of merchandise was a clipping from the _Times_ describing the
Captain's invention, and predicting--at five cents a line--that it would
revolutionize the theory of mechanics and soon become a household need
all over the world.

As the Judge looked idly at the Captain's treasures while the Captain
tinkered with the steel, he took off his hat, and the Captain, peering
through his glasses, remarked:

"Getting kind of thin on top, Tom--eh? Doc, he's leaning a little hard
on his cane. Joe Calvin, he's getting rheumatic, and you're getting
thin-haired. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away."

"So you believe the Lord runs things here in Harvey, do you, Cap?" asked
the Judge, who was playing with a bit of wire.

"Well--I suppose if you come right down to it," answered the Captain, "a
man's got to have the consolation of religion in some shape or other or
he's going to get mighty discouraged--what say?"

"Why," scoffed the Judge, "it's a myth--there's nothing to it. Look at
my wife--I mean Margaret--she changes religion as often as she changes
dogs. Since we've been married she's had three religions. And what good
does it do her?"

The Captain, sighting down the edge of the metal, shook his head, and
the Judge went on: "What good does any religion do? I've broken the ten
commandments, every one of them--and I get on. No one bothers me,
because I keep inside the general statutes. I've beat God at his own
game. I tell you, Cap, you can do what you please just so you obey the
state and federal laws and pay your debts. This God-myth amuses me."

Captain Morton did not care to argue with the Judge. So he said, by way
of making conversation for a customer, and neighbor and guest:

"I hear, well, to be exact, George Brotherton was telling me and the
girls the other night that the Company is secretly dropping out the
members of the unions that Grant Adams has been organizing down in South
Harvey."

"Yes--that Adams is another one of your canting, God-and-morality
fellows. Always watch that kind. I tell you, Captain," barked the Judge,
"about the only thing my wife and I have agreed on for a year is that
this Adams fellow is a sneaking, pharisaical hound. Lord, how she hates
him! Sometimes I think women hate hard enough to compete with your God,
who according to the preachers, is always slipping around getting even
with fellows for their sins. God and women are very much alike, anyway,"
sneered the Judge. In the silence that followed, both men were attracted
by a noise behind them--the rustling of straw. They looked around and
saw the figure of a little girl--a yellow-haired, blue-eyed, shy, little
girl, trying to slip out of the place. She had evidently been in the
loft gathering eggs, for her apron was full, and she had her foot on the
loft ladder.

"Why, Lila, child," exclaimed the Captain, "I clean forgot you being up
there--did you find any eggs? Why didn't you come down long ago?"

"Come here, Lila," called the Judge. The child stood by the ladder
hesitatingly, holding her little apron corners tightly in her teeth
basketing the eggs--too embarrassed now that she was down the ladder, to
use her hands.

"Lila," coaxed the Judge, reaching his hand into his pocket, "won't you
let Papa give you a dollar for candy or something. Come on, daughter."
He put out his hands. She shook her head. She had to pass him to get to
the door. "You aren't afraid of your Papa are you, Lila--come--here's a
dollar for you--that's a good girl."

Her mouth quivered. Big tears were dropping down her cheeks. The
Captain's quick eye saw that something had hurt her. He went over to
her, put his arm about her, took the eggs from her apron, fondled her
gently without speaking. The Judge drew nearer "Lila--come--that's a
good girl--here, take the money. Oh Lila, Lila," he cried, "won't you
take it for Papa--won't you, my little girl?"

The child looked up at him with shy frightened eyes, and suddenly she
put down her head and ran past him. He tried to hold her--to put the
silver into her hand, but she shrank away and dropped the coin before
him.

"Shy child, Judge--very shy. Emma let her gather the eggs this morning,
she loves to hunt eggs," chuckled the Captain, "and she went to the loft
just before you came in. I clean forgot she hadn't come down."

The Captain went on with his work.

"I suppose, Cap," said Van Dorn quietly, "she heard more or less of what
I said." The Captain nodded.

"How much did she understand?" the Judge asked.

"More'n you'd think, Judge--more'n you'd think. But," added Captain
Morton after a pause, "I know the little skite like a top, Judge--and
there's one thing about her: She's a loyal little body. She'll never
tell; you needn't be worrying about that."

The Judge sighed and added sadly: "It wasn't that, Cap--it was--" But
the Judge left his sentence in the air. The mending was done. The Judge
paid the old man and gave him a dollar more than he asked, and went
chugging off in a cloud of smoke, while the Captain, thinking over what
the Judge had said, sighed, shook his head, and bending over his work,
cackled in an undertone, snatches of a tune that told of a land that is
fairer than day. He had put together three sprockets and was working on
the fourth when he looked up and saw his daughter Emma sitting on the
box that the Judge had vacated. The Captain put his hand to his back and
stood up, looking at his eldest daughter with loving pride.

"Emma," he said at length, "Judge Tom says women are like God." He stood
near her and smoothed her hair, and patted her cheek as he pressed her
head against his side. "I guess he's right--eh? Lila was in the loft
getting eggs and she overheard a lot of his fool talk." The daughter
made no reply. The Captain worked on and finally said: "It kind of hit
Tom hard to have Lila hear him; took the tuck out of him, eh?"

Emma still waited. "My dear, the more I know of women the better I think
of God, and the surer I am of God, the better I think of women--what
say?" He sat on the box beside her and took her hand in his hard,
cracked, grimy hand, "'Y gory, girl, I tell you, give me a line on a
man's idea of God and I can tell you to a tee what he thinks of
women--eh?" The Captain dropped the hand for a moment and looked out of
the door into the alley.

"Well, Father, I agree with you in general about women but in particular
I don't care about Mrs. Herdicker and I wish Martha had another job,
though I suppose it's better than teaching school." The daughter sighed.
"Honest, father, sometimes when I've been on my feet all day, and the
children have been mean, and the janitor sticks his head in and grins,
so I'll know the superintendent is in the building and get the work off
the board that the rules don't allow me to put on, or one of the other
girls sends a note up to watch for my spelling for he's cranky on
spelling to-day, I just think, 'Lordee, if I had a job in some one's
kitchen, I'd be too happy to breathe.' But then--"

"Yes--yes, child--I know it's hard work now--but 'y gory, Emmy, when I
get this sprocket introduced and going, I'll buy you six superintendents
in a brass cage and let you feed 'em biled eggs to make 'em sing--eh?"
He smiled and patted his daughter's hair and rose to go back to work.
The girl plucked at his coat and said: "Now sit down, father, I want to
talk to you," she hesitated. "It's about Mr. Brotherton. You know he's
been coming out here for years and I thought he was coming to see me,
and now Martha thinks he comes to see her, and Martha always stays there
and so does Ruth, and if he is coming to see me--" she stopped. Her
father looked at her in astonishment. "Why, father," she went on,--"why
not? I'm twenty-five, and Martha's twenty-two and even Ruth is
seventeen--he might even be coming to see Ruth," she added bitterly.

"Yes, or Epaminondas--the cat--eh?" cut in the old man. Then he added,
indignantly, "Well, how about this singing Jasper Adams--who's he coming
to see? Or Amos--he comes around here sometimes Saturday night after G.
A. R. meeting, with me--what say? Would you want us all to clear out and
leave you the front room with him?" demanded the perturbed Captain.

Then the father put his arm about his child tenderly: "Twenty-five years
old--twenty-five years--why, girl, in my time a girl was an old maid
laid on the shelf at twenty-five--and here you are," he mused, "just
thinking of your first beau and here I am needing your mother worse than
I ever did in my life. Law-see' girl--how do I know what to do--what
say?" But he did know enough to draw her to him and kiss her and sigh.
"Well--maybe I can do something--maybe--we'll see." And then she left
him and he went to his work. And as he worked the thought struck him
suddenly that if he could put one of his sprockets in the Judge's
automobile where he had seen a chain, that it would save power and stop
much of the noise. So as he worked he dreamed that his sprocket was
adopted by the makers of the new machines, and that he was
rich--exceedingly rich and that he took the girls to visit the Ohio kin,
and that Emma had her trip to the Grand Canyon, that Martha went to
Europe and that Ruthie "took vocal" of a teacher in France whose name he
could not pronounce.

As he hammered away at his bench he heard a shuffling at the door and
looking up saw Dr. Nesbit in the threshold.

"Come in, Doctor; sit down and talk," shrilled the Doctor before the
Captain could speak, and when the Doctor had seated himself upon the box
by the workbench, the Captain managed to say: "Surely--come right in,
I'm kind of lonesome anyhow."

"And I'm mad," cried the Doctor. "Just let me sit here and blow off a
little to my old army friend."

"Well--well, Doctor, it's queer to see you hot under the collar--eh?"
The Doctor began digging out his pipe and filling it, without speaking.
The Captain asked: "What's gone wrong? Politics ain't biling? what say?"

"Well," returned the Doctor, "you know Laura works at her kindergarten
down there in South Harvey, and she got me to pass that hours-of-service
law for the smelter men at the extra session last summer. Good law!
Those men working there in the fumes shouldn't work over six hours a
day--it will kill them. I managed by trading off my hide and my chances
of Heaven to get a law through, cutting them down to eight hours in
smelter work. Denny Hogan, who works on the slag dump, is going to die
if he has to do it another year on a ten-hour shift. He's been up and
down for two years now--the Hogans live neighbors to Laura's school and
I've been watching him. Well," and here the Doctor thumped on the floor
with his cane, "this Judge--this vain, strutting peacock of a Judge,
this cat-chasing Judge that was once my son-in-law, has gone and knocked
the law galley west so far as it affects the slag dump. I've just been
reading his decision, and I'm hot--good and hot."

The Captain interrupted:

"I saw Violet Hogan and the children--dressed like princesses, walking
out to-day--past the Judge's house--showing it to them--what say? My,
how old she looks, Doctor!"

"Well--the damned villain--the infernal scoundrel--" piped the Doctor.
"I just been reading that decision. The men showed in their lawsuit that
the month before the law took effect the company, knowing the law had
been passed, went out and sold their switch and sold the slag dump, to a
fake railroad company that bought a switch engine and two or three cars,
and incorporated as a railroad, and then--the same people owning the
smelter and the railroad, they set all the men in the smelter that they
could working on the slag dump, so the men were working for the railroad
and not for the smelter company and didn't come within the eight hour
law. And now the Judge stands by that farce; he says that the men
working there under the very chimney of the smelter on the slag dump
where the fumes are worst, are not subject to the law because the law
says that men working for the smelters shall not work more than eight
hours, and these men are working for a cheating, swindling subterfuge of
a railroad. That's judge-made law. That's the kind of law that makes
anarchists. Law!" snorted the Doctor, "Law!--made by judges who have
graduated out of the employ of corporations--law!--is just what the
Judge on the bench dares to read into the statute. I tell you, Cap, if
the doctors and engineers and preachers were as subservient to greed and
big money as the lawyers are, we would soon lose our standing. But when
a lawyer commits some flagrant malpractice like that of Tom Van
Dorn's--the lawyers remind us that the courts are sacred institutions."

The Doctor's pipe was out and in filling it again, he jabbed viciously
at the bowl with his knife, and in the meantime the Captain was saying:

"Well, I suppose he found the body of the decisions leaning that way,
Doc--you know Judges are bound by the body of the law."

"The body of the law--yes, damn 'em, I've bought 'em to find the body of
the law myself."

The Doctor sputtered along with his pipe and cried out in his high
treble--"I never had any more trouble buying a court than a Senator. And
lawyers have no shame about hiring themselves to crooks and notorious
lawbreakers. And some lawyers hire themselves body and soul to great
corporations for life and we all know that those corporations are merely
evading the laws and not obeying them; and lawyers--at the very top of
the profession--brazenly hire out for life to that kind of business.
What if the top of the medical profession was composed of men who
devoted themselves to fighting the public welfare for life! We have that
kind of doctors--but we call them quacks. We don't allow 'em in our
medical societies. We punish them by ostracism. But the quack lawyers
who devote themselves to skinning the public--they are at the head of
the bar. They are made judges. They are promoted to supreme courts. A
damn nice howdy-do we're coming to when the quacks run a whole
profession. And Tom Van Dorn is a quack--a hair-splitting, owl-eyed,
venal quack--who doles out the bread pills of injustice, and the
strychnine stimulants of injustice and the deadening laudanum of
injustice, and falls back on the body of the decisions to uphold him in
his quackery. Justice demands that he take that fake corporation, made
solely to evade the law, and shake its guts out and tell the men who put
up this job, that he'll put them all in jail for contempt of court if
they try any such shenanigan in his jurisdiction again. That would be
justice. This--this decision--is humbug and every one knows it. What's
more--it may be murder. For men can't work on that slag dump ten hours a
day without losing their lives."

The captain tapped away at his sprocket. He had his own ideas about the
sanctity of the courts. They were not to be overthrown so easily. The
Doctor snorted: "Burn their bodies, and blear their minds, and then wail
about our vicious lower classes--I'm getting to be an anarchist."

He prodded his cane among the débris on the floor and then he began to
twitch the loose skin of his lower face and smiled. "Thank you, Cap," he
chirped. "How good and beautiful a thing it is to blow off steam in a
barn to your old army friend."

The Captain looked around and smiled and the Doctor asked: "What was
that you were saying about Violet Hogan?"

"I said I saw her to-day and she looked faded and old--she's not so much
older than my Emma--eh?"

"Still," said the Doctor, "Violet's had a tough time--a mighty tough
time; three children in six years. The last one took most of her teeth;
young horse doctor gave her some dope that about killed her; she's done
all the cooking, washing, scrubbing and made garden for the family in
that time--up every morning at five, seven days in the week to get
breakfast for Dennis--Emma would look broken if she'd had that." The
Doctor paused. "Like her mother--weak--vain--puts all of Denny's wages
on the children's backs--Laura says Violet spends more on frills for
those kids than we spend for groceries--and Violet goes around herself
looking like the Devil before breakfast." The Doctor rested his chin on
his cane. "Remember her mother--Mrs. Mauling--funny how it breeds that
way. The human critter, Cap, is a curious beast--but he does breed
true--mostly." The Doctor loafed, whistling, around the work shop,
prodding at things with his cane, and wound up leaning against one end
of the bench.

"Last day of the century," he piped, "makes a fellow pause and study.
I've seen fifty-three years of the old century--seen the electric light,
the telephone, the phonograph, the fast printing press, the
transcontinental railroad, the steam thresher, the gasoline engine--and
all its wonders clear down to Judge Tom's devil wagon. That's a good
deal for one short life. I've seen industry revolutionized--leaving the
homes of the people, and herding into the great factories. I've seen
steam revolutionize the daily habits of men, and distort their thoughts;
one man can't run a steam engine; it takes more than one man to own one.
So have I seen capital rise in the world until it is greater than kings,
greater than courts, greater than governments--greater than God himself
as matters stand, Cap--I'm terribly afraid that's true."

The Doctor was serious. His high voice was calm, and he smoked a while
in peace. "But," he added reflectively--"Cap, I want to tell you
something more wonderful than all; I've seen seven absolutely honest men
elected this year to the State Senate--I've sounded them, felt them out,
had all kinds of reports from all kinds of people on those seven men.
Each man thinks he's alone, and there are seven."

The Doctor leaned over to the Captain and said confidentially, "Cap--we
meet next week. Listen here. I was elected without a dollar of the old
spider's money. He fought me for that smelter law on the quiet. Now look
here; you watch my smoke. I'm going to organize those seven, and make
eight and you're going to see some fighting."

"You ain't going to fight the party, are you, Doc?" asked the amazed
Captain, as though he feared that the Doctor would fall dead if he
answered yes. But the Doctor grinned and said: "Maybe--if it fights me."

"Well, Doc--" cried the Captain, "don't you think--"

"You bet I think--that's what's the matter. The smelter lawsuit's made
me think. They want to control government so they can have a license to
murder. That's what it means. Watch 'em blight Denny Hogan's lungs down
on the dump; watch 'em burn 'em up and crush 'em in the mines--by
evading the mining laws; watch 'em slaughter 'em on the railroads;
murder is cheap in this country--if you control government and get a
slaughter license."

The Doctor laughed. "That's the old century--and say, Cap--I'm with the
new. You know old Browning--he says:

          "It makes me mad
    To think what men will do an' I am dead."

The Doctor waved his cane furiously, and grinned as he threw back his
head, laughed silently, kicked out one leg, and stood with one eye
cocked, looking at the speechless Captain. "Well, Cap--speak up--what
are you going to do about it?"

"'Y gory, Doc, you certainly do talk like a Populist--eh?" was all the
Captain could reply. The Doctor toddled to the door, and standing there
sang back: "Well, Cap--do you think the Lord Almighty laid off all the
angels and quit work on the world when he invented Tom Van Dorn's
automobile--that it is the last new thing that will ever be tried?"

And with that, the Doctor went out into the alley and through his alley
gate into his house. But the Captain's mind was set going by the
Doctor's parting words. He was considering what might follow the
invention of Tom Van Dorn's automobile. There was that chain, and there
was his sprocket. It would work--he knew it would work and save much
power and much noise. But the sprocket must be longer, and stronger.
Then, he thought, if the wire spokes and the ball-bearing and rubber
tires of the bicycle had made the automobile possible, and now that they
were getting the gasoline engine of the automobile perfected so that it
would generate such vast power in such a small space--what if they could
conserve and apply that power through his invention--what if the
gasoline engine might not through his Household Horse some day generate
and use a power that would lift a man off the earth? What then? As he
tapped the bolts and turned the screws and put his little device
together, he dreamed big dreams of the future when men should fly, and
the boundaries of nations would disappear and tariffs would be
impossible. This shocked him, and he tried to figure out how to prevent
smuggling by flying machines; but as he could not, he dreamed on about
the time when war would be abolished among civilized men, because of his
invention.

So while he was dreaming in matter--forming the first vague nebulæ of
coming events, the infinite intelligence washing around us all, floating
this earth, and holding the stars in their courses, sent a long, thin
fleck of a wave into the mind of this man who stood working and dreaming
in the twilight while the old century was passing. And while he saw his
vision, other minds in other parts of the earth saw their visions. Some
of these myriad visions formed part of his, and his formed part of
theirs, and all were part of the great vision that was brooding upon the
bourne of time and space. And other visions, parts of the great vision
of the Creator, were moving with quickening life in other minds and
hearts. The disturbed vision of justice that flashed through the
Doctor's mind was a part of the vast cycle of visions that were hovering
about this earth. It was not his alone, millions held part of it;
millions aspired, they knew not why, and staked their lives upon their
faith that there is a power outside ourselves that makes for
righteousness. And as the waves of infinite, resistless,
all-encompassing love laved the world that New Year's night that cast
the new Century upon the strange shores of time, let us hope that the
dreams of strong men stirred them deeply that they might move wisely
upon that mysterious tide that is drawing humanity to its unknown goal.



CHAPTER XXXII

WHEREIN VIOLET HOGAN TAKES UP AN OLD TRADE AND MARGARET VAN DORN SEEKS A
HIGHER PLANE


The new Century brought to Harvey such plenitude that all night and all
day the smelter fires painted the sky up and down the Wahoo Valley; all
night long and all day long the miners worked in the mines, and all
through the night and the long day the great cement factory and the
glass factories belched forth their lurid fumes. The trolley cars went
creaking and moaning around the curves through the mean, dirty, squalid,
little streets of the mining and manufacturing towns. They whined
impatiently as they sailed across the prairie grass under the befogged
sunshine between the settlements, but always they brought up with their
loads at Harvey. So Harvey grew to be a prosperous inland city, and the
Palace Hotel with its onyx and marble office, once the town's pride,
found itself with all its striving but a third-class hostelry, while the
three-story building of the Traders' Bank looked low and squatty beside
its six and seven storied neighbors. The tin cornices of Market Street
were wiped away, and yellow brick and terra cotta and marble took the
place of the old ornaments of which the young town had been so proud.
The thread of wires and pipes that made the web of the spider behind the
brass sign, multiplied and the pipes and the rails and the cables that
carried his power grew taut and strong. New people by thousands had come
into the town and gradually the big house, the Temple of Love on Hill
Crest, that had been deserted during the first years of its occupancy,
filled up. Judge Thomas Van Dorn and his handsome wife were seen in the
great hotels of New York and Boston, and in Europe more or less, though
the acquaintances they made in Europe and in the East were no longer
needed to fill their home. But the old settlers of Harvey maintained
their siege. It was at a Twelfth Night festivity when young people from
all over the Valley and from all over the West were masqueing in the
great house, that Judge Van Dorn, to please a pretty girl from Baltimore
whom the Van Dorns had met in Italy, shaved his mustache and appeared
before the guests with a naked lip. The pursed, shrunken, sensuous lips
of the cruel mouth showed him so mercilessly that Mrs. Van Dorn could
not keep back a little scream of horror the first time he stood before
her with his shaved lip. But she changed her scream to a baby giggle,
and he did not know how he was revealed. So he went about ever after,
preening himself that his smooth face gave him youth, and strutting
inordinately because some of the women he knew told him he looked like a
boy of twenty-five--instead of a man in his forties. He was always
suave, always creakingly debonaire, always, even in his meannesses,
punctilious and airy.

So the old settlers sometimes were fooled by his attitude toward
Margaret, his wife. He bore toward her in public that shallow polish of
attention, which puzzled those who knew that they were never together by
themselves when he could help it, that he spent his evenings at the City
Club, and that often at the theater they sat almost back to back
unconsciously during the whole performance. But after the curtain was
down, the polite husband was the soul of attendance upon the beautiful
wife--her coat, her opera glasses, her trappings of various sorts flew
in and out of his eager hands as though he were a conjurer playing with
them for an audience. For he was a proud man, and she was a vain woman,
and they were striving to prove to a disapproving world that the bargain
they had made was a good one.

Yet the old settlers of Harvey felt instinctively that the price of
their Judge's bargain was not so trifling a matter as at first the happy
couple had esteemed it. The older people saw the big house glow with
light as the town spread over the hill and prosperity blackened the
Valley. The older people played their quiet games of bridge, by night,
and said little. Judge Van Dorn polished the periods of his orations,
kept himself like a race horse, strutted like a gobbler, showed his
naked mouth, held himself always tightly in hand, kept his eye out for a
pretty face, wherever it might be found, drank a little too much at
night at the City Club; not much too much but a very little too much--so
much that he needed something to brighten his eyes in the morning.

But whatever the Judge's views were on the chess game of the cosmos,
Margaret, his wife, had no desire to beat God at his own game. She was a
seeker, who always was looking for a new God. God after God had passed
in weary review before her. She was always ready to tune up with the
infinite, and to ignore the past--a most comfortable thing to do under
the circumstances.

As she turned into Market Street one February morning of the New Year in
the New Century, leading her dachshund, she was revolving a deep problem
in her head. She was trying to get enough faith to believe that her
complexion did not need a renovation. She knew that the skin-thought she
kept holding was earth-bound and she had tried to shake it, but it
wouldn't shake. She had progressed far enough in the moment's cult to
overcome a food-thought when her stomach hurt her, by playing a stiff
game of bridge for a little stake. But the skin-thought was with her,
and she was nervous and irritable and upon the verge of tears for
nothing at all. Moreover, her dog kept pulling at his leash, so
altogether her cup was running over and she went into Mr. Brotherton's
store to ask him to try to find an English translation of a highly
improper German book with a pious title about which she had heard from a
woman from Chicago who had been visiting her.

Now Mr. Brotherton had felt the impulse of the town's prosperity in his
business. The cigar stand was gone. In its place was a handsome plain
glass case containing expensive books--books bound in vellum, books in
hand-tooled leather, books with wide, ragged margins of heavy linen
paper around deep black types with illuminated initials at the chapter
heads; books filled with extravagant illustrations, books so beautiful
that Mr. Brotherton licked his chops with joy when he considered the
difference between the cost mark and the price mark. The Amen Corner was
gone--the legend that had come down from the pool room, "Better go to
bed lonesome than wake up in debt," had been carted to the alley. While
the corner formerly occupied by the old walnut bench still held a corner
seat, it was a corner seat with sharp angles, with black stain upon it,
and upholstered in rich red leather, and red leather pillows lounged
luxuriously in the corners of the seat; a black, angular table and a
red, angular shade over a green angular lamp sat where the sawdust box
had been. True--a green angular smoker's set also was upon the
table--the only masculine appurtenance in the corner; but it was clearly
a sop thrown out to offended and exiled mankind--a mere mockery of the
solid comfort of the sawdust box, filled with cigar stubs and ashes that
had made the corner a haven for weary man for nearly a score of years.
Above the black-stained seat ran a red dado and upon that in fine old
English script, where once the old sign of the Corner had been nailed,
there ran this legend:

            "'The sweet serenity of Books' and Wallpaper,
                  Stationery and Office Supplies."

For Mr. Brotherton's commercial spirit could not permit him to withhold
the fact that he had enlarged his business by adding such household
necessities as wall paper and such business necessities as stationery
and office supplies. Thus the town referred ever after to Mr.
Brotherton's "Sweet serenity of Books and Wallpaper," and so it was
known of men in Harvey.

When Mrs. Van Dorn entered, she was surprised; for while she had heard
casually of the changes in Mr. Brotherton's establishment, she was not
prepared for the effulgence of refined and suppressed grandeur that
greeted her.

Mr. Brotherton, in a three buttoned frock coat, a rich black ascot tie
and suitable gray trousers, came forward to meet her.

"Ah, George," she exclaimed in her baby voice, "really what a lit-ry,"
that also was from her Chicago friend, "what a lit-ry atmosphere you
have given us."

Mr. Brotherton's smile pleaded guilty for him. He waved her to a seat
among the red cushions. "How elegant," she simpered, "I just think it's
perfectly swell. Just like Marshall Field's. I must bring Mrs.
Merrifield in when she comes down--Mrs. Merrifield of Chicago. You know,
Mr. Brotherton," it was the wife of the Judge who spoke, "I think we
should try to cultivate those whose wide advantages make our association
with them a liberal education. What is it Emerson says about
Friendship--in that wonderful essay--I'm sure you'll recall it."

And Mr. Brotherton was sure he would too, and indicated as much, for as
he had often said to Mr. Fenn in their literary confidences, "Emerson is
one of my best moving lines." And Mrs. Van Dorn continued
confidentially: "Now there's a book, a German book--aren't those Germans
candid--you know I'm of German extraction, and I tell the Judge that's
where I get my candor. Well, there's a German book--I can't pronounce
it, so I've written it out--there; will you kindly order it?" Mr.
Brotherton took the slip and went to the back of the store to make a
memorandum of the order. He left the book counter in charge of Miss
Calvin--Miss Ave Calvin--yes, Miss Ave Maria Calvin, if you must know
her full name, which she is properly ashamed of. But it pleased her
mother twenty years before and as Mr. Calvin was glad to get into the
house on any terms when the baby was named, it went Ave Maria Calvin,
and Ave Maria Calvin stood behind the counter reading the _Bookman_
and trying to remember the names of the six best sellers so that she
could order them for stock.

Mrs. Van Dorn, who kept Mrs. Calvin's one card conspicuously displayed
in her silver card case in the front hall, saw an opportunity to make a
little social hay, so she addressed Miss Calvin graciously: "Good
morning, Ave--how is your dear mother? What a charming effect Mr.
Brotherton has produced!" Then Mrs. Van Dorn dropped the carefully
modulated voice a trifle lower: "When the book comes that I just
ordered, kindly slip it to one side; I wouldn't have Mr. Brotherton--he
might misunderstand. But you can read it if you wish--take it home over
night. It's very broadening."

When Mr. Brotherton returned the baby voice prattled at him. The voice
was saying, "I was just telling Ave how dead swell it is here. I just
can't get over it--in Harvey--dear old Harvey; do you remember when I
was a little school teacher down in the Prospect schoolhouse and you
used to order Chautauqua books--such an innocent little school
girl--don't you remember? We wouldn't say how long ago that was, would
we, Mr. Brotherton? Oh, dear, no. Isn't it nice to talk over old times?
Did you know the Jared Thurstons have left Colorado and have moved to
Iowa where Jared has started another paper? Lizzie and I used to be such
chums--she and Violet and I--where is Violet now, Mr. Brotherton? Oh,
yes, I remember Mrs. Herdicker said she lives next door to the
kindergarten--down in South Harvey. Isn't it terrible the way Anne Sands
did--just broke her father's heart. And Nate Perry quarrelling with ten
million dollars. Isn't this a strange world, Mr. Brotherton?"

Mr. Brotherton confessed for the world and Mrs. Van Dorn shook her
over-curled head sadly. She made some other talk with Mr. Brotherton
which he paraphrased later for Henry Fenn and when Mrs. Van Dorn went
out, Mr. Brotherton left the door open to rid the room of the scent of
attar of roses and said to Miss Calvin:

"Well, s--," but checked himself and went on in his new character of
custodian of "The Sweet Serenity of Books and Wall Paper," but he added
as a compromise:

"'And for bonnie Annie Laurie' I certainly would make a quick get-away!"

After which reflection, Mr. Brotherton walked down the long store room
to his dark stained desk, turned on the electric under the square copper
shade, and began to figure up his accounts. But a little social problem
kept revolving in his head. It was suggested by Mrs. Van Dorn and by
something she had said. Beside Mrs. Van Dorn in her tailored gown and
seal-skin, with her spanking new midwinter hat to match her coat,
dragging the useless dog after her, he saw the picture of another woman
who had come in the day before--a woman no older than Margaret Van
Dorn--yet a broken woman, with rounded shoulders who rarely smiled,
wishing to hide her broken teeth, who wheeled one baby and led another,
and shooed a third and slipped into the corner near the magazine counter
and thumbed over the children's fashions in the _Delineator_
eagerly and looked wistfully at the beautiful things in the store. Her
red hands and brown skin showed that she had lived a rough, hard life,
and that it had spent her and wasted her and taken everything she
prized--and given her nothing--nothing but three overdressed children
and a husband whose industrial status had put its heavy mark on her.

Mr. Brotherton's memory went back ten years, and recalled the two girls
together--Violet and Margaret. Both were light-headed and vain; so far
as their relations with Van Dorn were concerned, one was as blamable as
the other. Yet one had prospered and the other had not--and the one who
had apparently suffered most had upon the whole lived the cleaner, more
normal life--and Mr. Brotherton drummed his penholder upon the black
desk before him and questioned the justice of life.

But, indeed, if we must judge life's awards and benefits from the
material side there is no justice in life. If there was any difference
between the two women whom Tom Van Dorn had wronged--difference in
rewards or punishments, it must have been in their hearts. It is
possible that in her life of motherhood and wifehood, in the sacrifices
that broke her body and scarred her face, Violet Mauling may have been
compensated by the love she bore the children upon whom she lavished her
life. For she had that love, and she did squander--in blind vain
folly--the strength of her body, afterwards the price of her soul--upon
her children. As for Margaret Van Dorn--Mr. Brotherton was no
philosopher. He could not pity her. Yet she too had given all. She had
given her mind--and it was gone. She had given her heart and it was gone
also, and she had given that elusive blending of the heart and mind we
call her soul--and that was gone, too. Mr. Brotherton could see that
they were gone--all gone. But he could not see that her loss was greater
than Violet's.

That night when Dennis Hogan came in for his weekly _Fireside
Companion_ as he said, "for the good woman," Mr. Brotherton, for old
sake's sake, put in something in paper backs by Marie Corelli, and a
novel by Ouida; and then, that he might give until it hurt, he tied up a
brand new _Ladies' Home Journal_, and said, as he locked up the
store and stepped into the chill night air with Mr. Hogan: "Dennis--tell
Violet--I sent 'em in return for the good turns she used to do me when I
was mayor and she was in Van Dorn's office and drew up the city
ordinances--she'll remember."

"Indeed she will, George Brotherton--that she will. Many's the night
she's talked me to sleep of them golden days of her splendor--indeed she
will."

They walked on together and Hogan said: "Well--I turn at the next
crossin'. I'm goin' home and I'm glad of it. Up in the mornin' at five;
off on the six-ten train, climbin' the slag dump at seven, workin' till
six, home on the six-fifteen train, into the house at seven; to bed at
ten, up at five, eat and work and sleep--sleep and eat and work,
fightin' the dump by day and fightin' the fumes in me chist by
night--all for a dollar and sixty a day; and if we jine a union, we get
canned, and if we would seek dissipation, we're invited to go down to
the Company hall and listen to Tommy Van Dorn norate upon what he calls
the 'de-hig-nity of luh-ay-bor.' Damn sight of dignity labor has, lopin'
three laps ahead of the garnishee from one year's end to the other."

He laughed a good-natured, creaking laugh, and said as he waved his hand
to part with Mr. Brotherton--"Well, annyhow, the good woman will thank
you for the extra readin'; not that she has time to read it, God knows,
but it gives the place a tone when Laura Nesbit drops in for a bit of a
word of help about the makin' of the little white things she's doin' for
the Polish family on 'D' Street these days." In another minute
Brotherton heard the car moaning at the curve, and saw Hogan get in. It
was nearly midnight when Hogan got to sleep; for the papers that
Brotherton sent brought back "the grandeur that was Greece," and he had
to hear how Mr. Van Dorn had made Mr. Brotherton mayor and how they had
both made Dr. Nesbit Senator, and how ungrateful the Doctor was to turn
against the hand that fed him, and many other incidents and tales that
pointed to the renown of the unimpeachable Judge, who for seven years
had reigned in the humble house of Hogan as a first-rate god.

That night Hogan tossed as the fumes in his lungs burned the tissues and
at five he got up, made the fire, helped to dress the oldest child while
his wife prepared the breakfast. He missed the six-ten car, and being
late at work stopped in to take a drink at the Hot Dog, near the dump on
the company ground, thinking it would put some ginger into him for the
day's work. For two hours or so the whiskey livened him up, but as the
forenoon grew old, he began to yawn and was tired.

"Hogan," called the dump-boss, "go down to the powder house and bring up
a box of persuaders."

The slag was hard and needed blasting. Hogan looked up, said "What?" and
before the dump boss could speak again Hogan had started down and around
the dump to the powder house, near the saloon. He went into the powder
house, and then came out, carrying a heavy box. At the sidewalk edge,
Hogan, who was yawning, stumbled--they saw him stumble, two men standing
in the door of the Hot Dog saloon a block away, and they told the people
at the inquest that that was the last they saw. A great explosion
followed. The men about the dump huddled for a long minute under freight
cars, then crawled out, and the dump boss called the roll; Hogan was
missing. In an hour they came and took Mrs. Hogan to the undertaker's
room near the smelter--where so many women had stood beside death in its
most awful forms. She had her baby in her arms, with another plucking at
her skirts and she stood mutely beside the coffin that they would not
open. For she knew what other women knew about the smelter, knew that
when they will not open the coffin, it must not be opened. So the little
procession rode to the Hogan home, where Laura Van Dorn was waiting.
Perhaps it was because she could not see the face of the dead that it
seemed unreal to the widow. But she did not moan nor cry--after the
first scream that came when she knew the worst. Stolidly she went
through her tasks until after the funeral.

Then she called Laura into the kitchen and said, as she pressed out her
black satin and tried to hide the threadbare seams that had been showing
for years: "Mrs. Van Dorn, I'm going to do something you won't like." To
Laura's questioning eyes Violet answered: "I know your ma, or some one
else has told you all about me--but," she shut her mouth tightly and
said slowly:

"But no matter what they say--I'm going to the Judge; he's got to make
the railroad company pay and pay well. It's all I've got on earth--for
the children. We have three dollars in my pocketbook and will have to
wait until the fifteenth before I get his last month's wages, and I know
they'll dock him up to the very minute of the day--that day! I wouldn't
do it for anything else on earth, Mrs. Van Dorn--wild horses couldn't
drag me there--but I'm going to the Judge--for the children. He can
help."

So, putting on her bedraggled black picture hat with the red ripped off,
Violet Hogan mounted the courthouse steps and went to the office of the
Judge. A sorry, broken, haggard figure she cut there in the Judge's
office. She would have told him her story--but he interrupted: "Yes,
Violet--I read it in the _Times_. But what can I do--you know I'm
not allowed to take a case and, besides, he was working for the
railroad, and you know, Violet, he assumed the risk. What do they offer
you?"

"Judge--for God's sake don't talk that way to me. That's the way you
used to talk to those miners' wives--ugh!" she cried. "I remember it
all--that assumed risk. Only this--he was working ten hours a day on a
job that wouldn't let him sleep, and he oughtn't to be working but eight
hours, if they hadn't sneaked under the law. They've offered me five
hundred, Judge--five hundred--for a man, five hundred for our three
children--and me. You can make them do better--oh, I know you can. Oh,
please for the sake--oh!"

She looked at him with her battered face, and as her mouth quivered, she
tried to hide her broken teeth. He saw she was about to give way to
tears. He dreaded a scene. He looked at her impatiently and finally
gripping himself after a decision, he said:

"Now, Violet, take a brace. Five hundred is what they always give in
these cases." He smiled suavely at her and she noticed for the first
time that his lip was bare and started at the cruel mouth that leered at
her.

"But," he added expansively, "for old sake's sake--I'm going to do
something for you." He rose and stood over her. "Now, Violet," he said,
strutting the diagonal of his room, and smiling blandly at her, "we both
know why I shouldn't give you my personal check--nor why you shouldn't
have any cash that you cannot account for. But the superintendent of the
smelter, who is also the general manager of the railroad, is under some
obligations to me, and I'll give you this note to him." He sat down and
wrote:

    "For good reasons I desire one hundred dollars added to your
    check to the widow of Dennis Hogan who presents this, and to
    have the same charged to my personal account on your books."

He signed his name with a flourish, and after reading the note handed it
to the woman.

She looked at him and her mouth opened, showing her broken, ragged
teeth. Then she rose.

"My God, Tom Van Dorn--haven't you any heart at all! Six hundred dollars
with three little children--and my man butchered by a law you made--oh,"
she cried as she shook her head and stood dry-eyed and agonized before
him--"I thought you were a man--that you were my friend way down deep in
your heart--I thought you were a man."

She picked up the paper, and at the door turned and said: "And you could
get me thousands from the company for my hundreds by the scratch of your
pen--and I thought you were a man." She opened the door, looked at him
beseechingly, and repeating her complaint, turned away and left him.

She heard the click of the door-latch behind her and she knew that the
man behind the door in whom she had put her faith was laughing at her.
Had she not seen him laugh a score of times in other years at the misery
of other women? Had they not sat behind this door, he and she, and made
sport of foolish women who came asking the disagreeable, which he
ridiculed as the impossible? Had she not sat with him and laughed at his
first wife, when she had gone away after some protest? The thought of
his mocking face put hate into her heart and she went home hardened
toward all the world. Laura Van Dorn was with the Hogan children, and
when Violet entered the house, she gathered them to her heart with a mad
passion and wept--a woman without hope--a woman spurned and mocked in
the only holy place she had in her heart.

Laura saw the widowed mother hysterically fondling the children, madly
caressing them, foolishly chattering over them, and when Violet made it
clear that she wished to be alone, Laura left. But if she could have
heard Violet babbling on during the evening, of the clothes she would
buy for the youngsters, about the good times they would have with the
money, about the ways they were going to spend the little fortune that
was theirs, Laura Van Dorn--thrifty, frugal, shrewd Laura, might have
helped the thoughtless woman before it was too late. But even if Laura
had interfered, it would have been but for a few months or a few years
at most.

The end was inevitable--whether it had been five hundred or six hundred
or five thousand or six thousand. For Violet was a prodigal bred and
born. At first she tried to get some work. But when she found she had to
leave the children alone in the house or in care of a neighbor or on the
streets, she gave up her job. For when she came home, she found the
foolish frills and starched tucks in which she kept them, dirty and
torn, and some way she felt that they were losing social caste by the
low estate of their clothes, so she bought them silks and fine linens
while her money lasted, and when it was gone in the spring--then they
were hungry, and needy; and she could not leave them by day.

If the poor were always wise, and the rich were always foolish, if
hardship taught us sense, and indulgence made us giddy, what a fine
world it would be. How virtue would be rewarded. How vice would be
rebuked. But wisdom does not run with social rank, nor with commercial
rating. Some of us who are poor are exceedingly foolish, and some of
those who are rich have a world of judgment. And Violet Hogan,--poor and
mad with a mother love that was as insane as an animal's when she saw
her children hungry and needy, knew before she knew anything else that
she must live with them by day. So she went out at night--went out into
the streets--not of South Harvey--but over into the streets of Foley,
down to Magnus and Plain Valley--out into the dark places. There Violet
by night took up the oldest trade in the world, and came home by day a
mad, half crazed mothering animal who covers her young in dread and
fear.

When Laura knew the truth--knew it surely in spite of Violet's studied
deceptions, and her outright falsehoods, the silver in the woman's laugh
was muffled for a long time. She tried to help the mad mother; but the
mother would not admit the truth, would not confess that she needed
help. Violet maintained the fiction that she was working in the night
shift at the glass factory in Magnus, and by day she starched and ironed
and pressed and washed for the overdressed children and as she said,
"tried to keep them somebody." Moreover, she would not let them play
with the dirty children of the neighborhood, but such is the fear of
social taint among women, that soon the other mothers called their
children home when the Hogan children appeared.

When Violet discovered that her trade was branding her children--she
moved to Magnus and became part of the drab tide of life that flows by
us daily with its heartbreak unheeded, its sorrows unknown, its anguish
pent up and uncomforted.

Now much meditation on the fate of Violet Hogan and upon the luck of
Margaret Van Dorn had made George Brotherton question the moral
government of the universe and, being disturbed in his mind, he
naturally was moved to language. So one raw spring day when no one was
in the Amen Corner but Mr. Fenn, in a moment of inadvertent sobriety,
Mr. Brotherton opened up his heart and spoke thus:

"Say, Henry--what's a yogi?" Mr. Fenn refused to commit himself. Mr.
Brotherton continued: "The Ex was in here the other day and she says
that she thinks she's going to become a yogi. I asked her to spell it,
and I told her I'd be for her against all comers. Then she explained
that a yogi was some kind of an adept who could transcend space and
time, and--well say, I said 'sure,' and she went on to ask me if I was
certain we were not thinking matter instead of realizing it, and I says:

"'I bite; what's the sell?'

"And the Ex says--'Now, seriously, Mr. Brotherton, something tells me
that you have in your mind, if you would only search it out, vague
intimations, left-over impressions of the day you were an ox afield.'

"And, well say, Henry, I says, 'No, madam, it is an ass that rises in me
betimes.'

"And the Ex says, 'George Brotherton, you just never can talk sense.'

"So while I was wrapping up 'Sappho' and ordering her a book with a
title that sounded like a college yell, she told me she was getting on a
higher plane, and I bowed her out. Say, Hen--now wouldn't that jar
you?--the Ex getting on a higher plane."

Mr. Fenn grinned--a sodden grin with a four days' beard on it, and dirty
teeth, and heavy eyes, then looked stupidly at the floor and sighed and
said,

"George, did you know I've quit?" To Mr. Brotherton's kindly smile the
other man replied:

"Yes, sir, sawed 'er right off short--St. Patrick's Day. I thought I'd
ought to quit last Fourth of July--when I tried to eat a live pinwheel.
I thought I had gone far enough." He lifted up his burned-out eyes in
the faded smile that once shone like an arc light, and said:

"Man's a fool to get tangled up with liquor. George, when I get my board
bill paid--I'm going to quit the auctioning line, and go back to law.
But my landlady's needing that money, and I'm a little behind--"

Mr. Brotherton made a motion for his pocket. "No, I don't want a cent of
your money, George," Fenn expostulated. "I was just telling you how
things are. I knew you'd like to know."

Mr. Brotherton came from behind the counter where he had been arranging
his stock for the night, and grasped Henry Fenn's hand. "Say,
Henry--you're all right. You're a man--I've always said so. I tell you,
Hen, I've been to lots of funerals in this town first and last as
pall-bearer or choir singer--pretty nearly every one worth while, but
say, I'm right here to tell you that I have never went to one I was
sorrier over than yours, Henry--and I'm mighty glad to see you're coming
to again."

Henry Fenn smiled weakly and said: "That's right, George--that's right."

And Mr. Brotherton went on, "I claim the lady give you the final
push--not that she needed to push hard of course; but a little pulling
might have held you."

Mr. Fenn rose to leave and sighed again as he stood for a moment in the
doorway--"Yes, George, perhaps so--poor Maggie--poor Maggie."

Mr. Brotherton looked at the man a moment--saw his round hat with
neither back nor front and only the wreck of a band around it, his
tousled clothes, his shoes with the soles curling at the sides and the
frowsy face, from which the man peered out a second and then slunk back
again, and Mr. Brotherton took to his book shelf, scratched his head and
indicated by his manner that life was too deep a problem for him.



CHAPTER XXXIII

IN WHICH THE ANGELS SHAKE A FOOT FOR HENRY FENN


The business of life largely resolves itself into a preparation for the
next generation. The torch of life moves steadily forward. For children
primarily life has organized itself to satisfy decently and in order,
the insatiate primal hungers that motive mankind. It was with a wisdom
deeper than he understood that George Brotherton spoke one day, as he
stood in his doorway and saw Judge Van Dorn hurrying across the street
to speak to Lila. "There," roared Mr. Brotherton to Nathan Perry, "well,
say--there's the substance all right, man." And then as the Judge turned
wearily away with slinking shoulders to avoid meeting the eyes of his
wife, plump, palpable, and always personable, who came around the
corner, Mr. Brotherton, with a haw-haw of appreciation of his obvious
irony, cried, "And there's the shadow--I don't think." But it was the
substance and the shadow nevertheless, and possibly the Judge knew them
as the considerations of his bargain with the devil. For always he was
trying to regain the substance; to take Lila to his heart, where
curiously there seemed some need of love, even in a heart which was
consecrated in the very temple of love. Without realizing that he was
modifying his habits of life, he began to drop in casually to see the
children's Christmas exercises, and Thanksgiving programs, and Easter
services at John Dexter's church. From the back seat where he always sat
alone, he sometimes saw the wealth of affection that her mother lavished
on Lila, patting her ribbons, smoothing her hair, straightening her
dress, fondling her, correcting her, and watching the child with eyes so
full of love that they did not refrain sometimes from smiling in kindly
appreciation into the eager, burning, tired eyes of the Judge. The
mother understood why he came to the exercises, and often she sent Lila
to her father for a word. The town knew these things, and the Judge knew
that the town knew, and even then he could not keep away. He had to
carry the torch of life, whether he would or not, even though sometimes
it must have scorched his proud, white hands. It was the only thing that
burned with real fire in his heart.

With Laura Van Dorn the fact of her motherhood colored her whole life.
Never a baby was born among her poor neighbors in the valley that she
did not thrill with a keen delight at its coming, and welcome it with
some small material token of her joy. In the baby she lived over again
her own first days of maternity. But it was no play motherhood that
restored her soul and refilled her receptacle of faith day by day. The
bodily, huggable presence of her daughter continually unfolding some new
beauty kept her eager for the day's work to close in the Valley that she
might go home to drop the vicarious happiness that she brought in her
kindergarten for the real happiness of a home.

Often Grant Adams, hurrying by on his lonely way, paused to tell Laura
of a needy family, or to bring a dirty, motherless child to her haven,
or to ask her to go to some wayward girl, newly caught in the darker
corners of the spider's web.

Doggedly day by day, little by little, he was bringing the workmen of
the Valley to see his view of the truth. The owners were paying spies to
spy upon him and he knew it, and the high places of his satisfaction
came when, knowing a spy and marking him for a victim, Grant converted
him to the union cause. With the booming of the big guns of prosperity
in Harvey, he was a sort of undertone, a monotonous drum, throbbing
through the valley a menace beneath it all. Once--indeed, twice, as he
worked, he organized a demand for higher wages in two or three of the
mines, and keeping himself in the background, yet cautiously managing
the tactics of the demand, he won. He held Sunday meetings in such halls
as the men could afford to hire and there he talked--talked the religion
of democracy. As labor moved about in the world, and as the labor press
of the country began to know of Grant, he acquired a certain fame as a
speaker among labor leaders. And the curious situation he was creating
gave him some reputation in other circles. He was good for an occasional
story in a Kansas City or Chicago Sunday paper; and the _Star_
reporter, sent to do the feature story, told of a lonely, indomitable
figure who was the idol of the laboring people of the Wahoo Valley; of
his Sunday meetings; of his elaborate system of organization; of his
peaceful demands for higher wages and better shop conditions; of his
conversion of spies sent to hinder him, of his never-ceasing effort,
unsupported by outside labor leaders, unvisited by the aristocracy of
the labor world, yet always respecting it, to preach unionism as a faith
rather than as a material means for material advancement.

Generally the reporters devoted a paragraph to the question--what manner
of man is this?--and intimating more or less frankly that he was a man
of one idea, or perhaps broadening the suggestion into a query whether
or not a man who would work for years, scorning fame, scorning regular
employment and promotion, neglecting opportunities to rise as a labor
leader in his own world, was not just a little mad. So it happened that
without seeking fame, fame came to him. All over the Missouri Valley,
men knew that Grant Adams, a big, lumbering, red-polled, lusty-lunged
man with one arm burned off--and the story of the burning fixed the man
always in the public heart--with a curious creed and a freak gift for
expounding it, was doing unusual things with the labor situation in the
Harvey district. And then one day a reporter came from Omaha who
uncovered this bit of news in his Sunday feature story:

    "Last week the Wahoo district was paralyzed by the announcement
    that Nathan Perry, the new superintendent of the Independent
    mines had raised his wage scale, and had acceded to every change
    in working conditions that the local labor organizations under
    Adams had asked. Moreover, he has unionized his mine and will
    recognize only union grievance committees in dealing with the
    men. The effect of such an announcement in a district where the
    avowed purpose of the mine operators is to run their own
    business as they please, may easily be imagined.

    "Perry is a civil engineer from Boston Tech., a rich man's son,
    who married a rich man's daughter, and then cut loose from his
    father and father-in-law because of a political disagreement
    over the candidacy of the famous Judge Thomas Van Dorn for a
    judicial nomination a few years ago. Perry belongs to a new type
    in industry--rather newer than Adams's type. Perry is a keen
    eyed, boyish-looking young man who has no illusions about
    Adams's democracy of labor.

    "'I am working out an engineering problem with men,' said Perry
    to a reporter to-day. 'What I want is coal in the cage. I figure
    that more wages will put more corn meal in a man's belly, more
    muscle on his back, more hustle in his legs, and more blood in
    his brain. And primarily I'm buying muscle and hustle and
    brains. If I can make the muscle and hustle and brains I buy,
    yield better dividends than the stuff my competitors buy, I'll
    hold my job. If not, I'll lose it. I am certainly working for my
    job.'

    "Of course the town doesn't believe for a moment what Perry
    says. The town is divided. Part of the town thinks that Perry is
    an Adams convert and a fool, the other half of the town believes
    that the move is part of a conspiracy of certain eastern
    financial interests to get control of the Wahoo Valley
    properties by spreading dissension. Feeling is bitter and Adams
    and Perry are coming in for considerable abuse. D. Sands, the
    local industrial entrepreneur, has raised the black flag on his
    son-in-law, and an interesting time looms ahead."

But often at night in Perry's home in South Harvey, where Morty Sands
and Grant Adams loved to congregate, there were hot discussions on the
labor question. For Nathan Perry was no convert of Grant Adams.

As the men wrangled, many an hour sat Anne Perry singing the nest song
as she made little things for the lower bureau drawer. Sometimes in the
evening, Morty would sit by the kitchen stove, sadly torn in heart,
between the two debaters, seeing the justice of Grant's side as an
ethical question, but admiring the businesslike way in which Nathan
waved aside ethical considerations, damned Grant for a crazy man, and
proclaimed the gospel of efficiency.

Often Grant walked home from these discussions with his heart hot and
rebellious. He saw life only in its spiritual aspect and the logic of
Nathan Perry angered him with its conclusiveness.

Often as he walked Kenyon was upon his heart and he wondered if Margaret
missed the boy; or if the small fame that the boy was making with his
music had touched her vanity with a sense of loss. He wondered if she
ever wished to help the child. The whole town knew that the Nesbits were
sending Kenyon to Boston to study music, and that Amos Adams and Grant
could contribute little to the child's support. Grant wondered,
considering the relations between the Van Dorns and Nesbits, whether
sometimes Margaret did not feel a twinge of irritation or regret at the
course of things.

He could not know that even as he walked through the November night,
Margaret Van Dorn, was sitting in her room holding in her hand a tiny
watch, a watch to delight a little girl's heart. On the inside of the
back of the watch was engraved:

    "To Lila
    from her
    Father, for
    Her 10th birthday."

And opposite the inscription in the watch was pasted the photograph of
the unhappy face of the donor. Margaret sat gazing at the trinket and
wondering vaguely what would delight a little boy's heart as a watch
would warm the heart of a little girl. It was not a sense of loss, not
regret, certainly not remorse that moved her heart as she sat alone
holding the trinket--discovered on her husband's dresser; it was a weak
and footless longing, and a sense of personal wrong that rose against
her husband. He had something which she had not. He could give jeweled
watches, and she--

But if she only could have read life aright she would have pitied him
that he could give only jeweled watches, only paper images of a
dissatisfied face, only material things, the token of a material
philosophy--all that he knew and all that he had, to the one thing in
the world that he really could love. And as for Margaret, his wife, who
lived his life and his philosophy, she, too, had nothing with which to
satisfy the dull, empty feeling in her heart when she thought of Kenyon,
save to make peace with it in hard metal and stupid stones. Thus does
what we think crust over our souls and make us what we are.

Grant Adams, plodding homeward that night, turned from the thought of
Margaret to the thought of Kenyon with a wave of joy, counting the days
and weeks and the months until the boy should return for the summer. At
home Grant sat down before the kitchen table and began a long talk that
kept him until midnight. He had undertaken to organize all the unions of
the place into a central labor council; the miners, the smeltermen, the
teamsters, the cement factory workers, the workers in the building
trades. It was an experimental plan, under the auspices of the national
union officers. Only a man like Grant Adams, with something more than a
local reputation as a leader, would have been intrusted with the work.
And so, after his day's toil for bread, he sat at his kitchen table,
elaborately working his dream into reality.

That season the devil, if there is a devil who seeks to swerve us from
what we deem our noblest purposes, came to Grant Adams disguised in an
offer of a considerable sum of money to Grant for a year's work in the
lecture field. The letter bearing the offer explained that by going out
and preaching the cause of labor to the people, Grant would be doing his
cause more good than by staying in Harvey and fighting alone. The
thought came to him that the wider field of work would give him greater
personal fame, to be used ultimately for a wider influence. All one long
day as he worked with hammer and saw at his trade, Grant turned the
matter over in his mind. He could see himself in a larger canvas,
working a greater good. Perhaps some fleeting unformed idea came to him
of a home and a normal life as other men live; for at noon, without
consciously connecting her with his dream, he took his problem to Laura
Van Dorn at her kindergarten. That afternoon he decided to accept the
offer, and put much of his reason for acceptance upon Kenyon and the
boy's needs. That night he penned a letter of acceptance to the lecture
bureau and went to bed, disturbed and unsatisfied. Before he slept he
turned and twisted, and finally threshed himself to sleep. It was a
light fragmentary sleep, that moves in and out of some strange hypnoidal
state where the lower consciousness and the normal consciousness wrestle
for the control of reason. Then after a long period of half-waking
dreams, toward morning, Grant sank into a profound sleep. In that sleep
his soul, released from all that is material, rose and took command of
his will.

When Grant awoke, it was still black night. For a few seconds he did not
know where he was--nor even who he was, nor what. He was a mere
consciousness. The first glimmer of identity that came to him came with
a roaring "No," that repeated itself over and over, "No--no," cried the
voice of his soul--"you are no mere word spinner; you are a fighter; you
are pledged, body and soul; you are bought with a price--no, no, no."

And then he knew where he was and he knew surely and without doubt or
quaver of faith that he must not give up his place in the fight. When he
thought of Kenyon living on the bounty of the Nesbits, he thought also
of Dick Bowman, ordering his own son under the sliding earth to hold the
shovel over Grant's face in the mine.

So Grant Adams bent his shoulders to this familiar burden. In the early
morning, before his father and Jasper were up, the gaunt, ungainly
figure hurried with his letter of refusal to the South Harvey Station
and put the letter on the seven-ten train for Chicago.

That evening, sitting on their front porch, the Dexters talked over
Grant's decision. "Well," said John Dexter, looking up into the mild
November sky, and seeing the brown gray smudge of the smelter there, "so
Grant has sidled by another devil in his road. We have seen that women
won't stop him; it's plain that money nor fame won't stop him, though
they clearly tore his coat tails. I imagine from what Laura says he must
have decided once to accept."

"Yes," answered his wife, "but it does seem to me, if my old father
needed care as his does, and my brother had to accept charity, I'd give
that particular devil my whole coat and see if I couldn't make a bargain
with him for a little money, at some small cost."

"Mother Eve--Mother Eve," smiled the minister, "you women are so
practical--we men are the real idealists--the only dreamers who stand by
our dreams in this wicked, weary world."

He leaned back in his chair. "There is still one more big black devil
waiting for Grant: Power--the love of power which is the lust of
usefulness--power may catch Grant after he has escaped from women and
money and fame. Vanity--vanity, saith the preacher--Heaven help Grant in
the final struggle with the big, black devil of vanity."

Yet, after all, vanity has in it the seed of a saving grace that has
lifted humanity over many pitfalls in the world. For vanity is only
self-respect multiplied; and when that goes--when men and women lose
their right to lift their faces to God, they have fallen upon bad times
indeed. It was even so good a man as John Dexter himself, who tried to
put self-respect into the soul of Violet Hogan, and was mocked for it.

"What do they care for me?" she cried, as he sat talking to her in her
miserable home one chill November day. "Why should I pay any attention
to them? Once I chummed with Mag Müller, before she married Henry Fenn,
and I was as good as she was then--and am now for that matter. She knew
what I was, and I knew what she was going to be--we made no bones of it.
We hunted in pairs--as women like to. And I know Mag Müller. So why
should I keep up for her?"

The woman laughed and showed her hollow mouth and all the wrinkles of
her broken face, that the paint hid at night. "And as for Tom Van
Dorn--I was a decent girl before I met him, Mr. Dexter--and why in God's
name should I try to keep up for him?"

She shuddered and would have sobbed but he stopped her with: "Well,
Violet--wife and I have always been your friends; we are now. The church
will help you."

"Oh, the church--the church," she laughed. "It can't help me. Fancy me
in church--with all the wives looking sideways at all the husbands to
see that they didn't look too long at me. The church is for those who
haven't been caught! God knows if there is a place for any one who has
been caught--and I've been caught and caught and caught." She cried.
"Only the children don't know--not yet, though little Tom--he's the
oldest, he came to me and asked me yesterday why the other children
yelled when I went out. Oh, hell--" she moaned, "what's the use--what's
the use--what's the use!" and fell to sobbing with her head upon her
arms resting upon the bare, dirty table.

It was rather a difficult question for John Dexter. Only one other
minister in the world ever answered it successfully, and He brought
public opinion down on Him. The Rev. John Dexter rose, and stood looking
at the shattered thing that once had been a graceful, beautiful human
body enclosing an aspiring soul. He saw what society had done to break
and twist the body; what society had neglected to do in the youth of the
soul--to guide and environ it right--he saw what poverty had done and
what South Harvey had done to cheat her of her womanhood even when she
had tried to rise and sin no more; he remembered how the court-made law
had cheated her of her rightful patrimony and cast her into the streets
to spread the social cancer of her trade; and he had no answer. If he
could have put vanity into her heart--the vanity which he feared for
Grant Adams, he would have been glad. But her vanity was the vanity of
motherhood; for herself she had spent it all. So he left her without
answering her question. Money was all he could give her and money seemed
to him a kind of curse. Yet he gave it and gave all he had.

When she saw that he was gone, Violet fell upon the tumbled, unmade bed
and cried with all the vehemence of her unrestrained, shallow nature.
For she was sick and weary and hungry. She had given her last dollar to
a policeman the night before to keep from arrest. The oldest boy had
gone to school without breakfast. The little children were playing in
the street--they had begged food at the neighbors' and she had no heart
to stop them. At noon when little Tom came in he found his mother
sitting before a number of paper sacks upon the table waiting for him.
Then the family ate out of the sacks the cold meal she had bought at the
grocery store with John Dexter's money.

That night Violet shivered out into the cold over her usual route. She
was walking through the railroad yards in Magnus when suddenly she came
upon a man who dropped stealthily out of a dead engine. He carried
something shining and tried to slip it under his coat when he saw her.
She knew he was stealing brass, but she did not care; she called as they
passed through the light from an arc lamp:

"Hello, sweetheart--where you going?"

The man looked up ashamed, and she turned a brazen, painted face at him
and tried to smile without opening her lips.

Their eyes met, and the man caught her by the arm and cried:

"God, Violet--is this you--have you--" She cut him off with:

"Henry Fenn--why--Henry--"

The brass fell at his feet. He did not pick it up. They stood between
the box cars in speechless astonishment. It was the man who found voice.

"Violet--Violet," he cried. "This is hell. I'm a thief and you--"

"Say it--say it--don't spare me," she cried. "That's what I am, Henry.
It's all right about me, but how about you, how about you, Henry? This
is no place for you! Why, you," she exclaimed--"why, you are--"

"I'm a drunken thief stealing brass couplings to get another drink,
Violet."

He picked up the brass and threw it up into the engine, still clutching
her arm so that she could not run away.

"But, girl--" he cried, "you've got to quit this--this is no way for you
to live."

She looked at him to see what was in his mind. She broke away, and
scrambled into the engine cab and put the brass where it could not fall
out.

"You don't want that brass falling out, and them tracing you down here
and jugging you--you fool," she panted as she climbed to the ground.

"Lookee here, Henry Fenn," she cried, "you're too good a man for this.
You've had a dirty deal. I knew it when she married you--the snake; I
know it--I've always known it."

The woman's voice was shrill with emotion. Fenn saw that she was verging
on the hysterical, and took her arm and led her down the dark alley
between the cars. The man's heart was touched--partly by the wreck he
saw, and partly by her words. They brought back the days when he and she
had seen their visions. The liquor had left his head, and he was a
tremble. He felt her cold, hard hand, and took it in his own dirty,
shaken hand to warm it.

"How are you living?" he asked.

"This way," she replied. "I got my children--they've got to live
someway. I can't leave them day times and see 'em run wild on the
streets--the little girls need me."

She looked up into his face as they hurried past an arc lamp, and she
saw tears there.

"Oh, you got a dirty deal, Henry--how could she do it?" cried the woman.

He did not answer and they walked up a dingy street. A car came howling
by.

"Got car fare," he asked. She nodded.

"Well, I haven't," he said, "but I'm going with you."

They boarded the car. They were the only passengers. They sat down, and
he said, under the roar of the wheels:

"Violet--it's a shame--a damn shame, and I'm not going to stand for it.
This a Market Street car?" he asked the conductor who passed down the
aisle for their fares. The woman paid. When the conductor was gone,
Henry continued:

"Three kids and a mother robbed by a Judge who knew better--just to
stand in with the kept attorneys of the bar association. He could have
knocked the shenanigan, that killed Hogan, galley west, if he'd wanted
to, and no Supreme Court would have dared to set it aside. But no--the
kept lawyers at the Capital, and all the Capitals have a mutual
admiration society, and Tom has always belonged. So he turns you and all
like you on the street, and Violet, before God I'm going to try to help
you."

She looked at the slick, greasy, torn stiff hat, and the dirty, shiny
clothes that years ago had been his Sunday best, and the shaggy face and
the sallow, unwashed skin; and she remembered the man who was.

The car passed into South Harvey. She started to rise. "No," he said,
stopping her, "you come on with me."

"Where are we going?" she asked. He did not answer. She sat down.
Finally the car turned into Market Street. They got off at the bank
corner. The man took hold of the woman's arm, and led her to the alley.
She drew back.

He said: "Are you afraid of me--now, Violet?" They slinked down the
alley and seeing a light in the back room of a store, Fenn stopped and
went up to peer in.

"Come on," he said. "He's in."

Fenn tapped on the barred window and whistled three notes. A voice
inside cried, "All right, Henry--soon's I get this column added up."

The woman shrank back, but Fenn held her arm. Then the door opened, and
the moon face of Mr. Brotherton appeared in a flood of light. He saw the
woman, without recognizing her, and laughed:

"Are we going to have a party? Come right in, Marianna--here's the
moated Grange, all right, all right."

As they entered, he tried to see her face, but she dropped her head.
Fenn asked, "Why, George--don't you know her? It's Violet--Violet
Mauling--who married Denny Hogan who was killed last winter."

George Brotherton looked at the painted face, saw the bald attempt at
coquetry in her dress, and as she lifted her glazed, dead eyes, he knew
her story instantly.

For she wore the old, old mask of her old, old trade.

"You poor, poor girl," he said gently. Then continued, "Lord--but this
is tough."

He saw the miserable creature beside him and would have smiled, but he
could not. Fenn began,

"George, I just got tired of coming around here every night after
closing for my quarter or half dollar; so for two or three weeks I've
been stealing. She caught me at it; caught me stripping a dead engine
down in the yards by the round house."

"Yes," she cried, lifting a poor painted face, "Mr. Brotherton--but you
know how I happened to be down there. He caught me as much as I caught
him! And I'm the worst--Oh, God, when they get like me--that's the end!"

The three stood silently together. Finally Brotherton spoke: "Well," he
drew a long breath, "well, they don't need any hell for you two--do
they?" Then he added, "You poor, poor sheep that have gone astray. I
don't know how to help you."

"Well, George--that's just it," replied Fenn. "No one can help us. But
by God's help, George, I can help her! There's that much go left in me
yet! Don't you think so, George?" he asked anxiously. "I can help her."

The weak, trembling face of the man moved George Brotherton almost to
tears. Violet's instinct saw that Brotherton could not speak and she
cried:

"George--I tell Henry he's had a dirty deal, too--Oh, such a dirty deal.
I know he's a man--he never cast off a girl--like I was cast off--you
know how. Henry's a man, George--a real man, and oh, if I could help
him--if I could help him get up again. He's had such a dirty deal."

Brotherton saw her mouth in all its ugliness, and saw as he looked how
tears were streaking the bedaubed face. She was repulsive beyond words,
yet as she tried to hold back her tears, George Brotherton thought she
was beautiful.

Fenn found his voice. "Now, here, George--it's like this: I don't want
any woman; I've washed most of that monkey business out of me with
whisky--it's not in me any more. And I know she's had enough of men. And
I've brought her here--we've come here to tell you that part is
straight--decent--square. I wanted you to know that--and Violet would,
too--wouldn't you, Violet?" She nodded.

"Now, then, George--I'm her man! Do you understand--her man. I'm going
to see that she doesn't have to go on the streets. Why, when she was a
girl I used to beau her around, and if she isn't ashamed of a drunken
thief--then in Christ's name, I'm going to help her."

He smiled out of his leaden eyes the ghost of his glittering, old,
self-deprecatory smile. The woman remembered it, and bent over and
kissed his dirty hand. She rose, and put her fingers gently upon his
head, and sobbed:

"Oh, God, forgive me and make me worthy of this!"

There was an awkward pause. When the woman had controlled herself Fenn
said: "What I want is to keep right on sleeping in the basement
here--until I can get ahead enough to pay for my room. I'm not going to
make any scandal for Violet, here. But we both feel better to talk it
out with you."

They started for the back door. The front of the store was dark.
Brotherton saw the man hesitate, and look down the alley to see if any
one was in sight.

"Henry," said Brotherton, "here's a dollar. You might just as well begin
fighting it out to-night. You go to the basement. I'll take Violet
home."

The woman would have protested, but the big man said gently: "No,
Violet--you were Denny Hogan's wife. He was my friend. You are Henry's
ward--he is my friend. Let's go out the front way, Violet."

When they were gone, and the lights were out in the office of the
bookstore, Henry Fenn slipped through the alley, went to the nearest
saloon, walked in, stood looking at the whiskey sparkling brown and
devilishly in the thick-bottomed cut glasses, saw the beer foaming upon
the mahogany board, breathed it all in deeply, felt of the hard silver
dollar in his pocket, shook as one in a palsy, set his teeth and while
the tears came into his eyes stood and silently counted one hundred and
another hundred; grinning foolishly when the loafers joked with him, and
finally shuffled weakly out into the night, and ran to his cellar. And
if Mr. Left's theory of angels is correct, then all the angels in heaven
had their harps in their hands waving them for Henry, and cheering for
joy!



CHAPTER XXXIV

A SHORT CHAPTER, YET IN IT WE EXAMINE ONE CANVAS HEAVEN, ONE REAL
HEAVEN, AND TWO SNUG LITTLE HELLS


"The idea of hell," wrote the Peach Blow Philosopher in the Harvey
_Tribune_, "is the logical sequence of the belief that material
punishments must follow spiritual offenses. For the wicked go unscathed
of material punishments in this naughty world. And so the idea of Heaven
is a logical sequence of the idea that only spiritual rewards come to
men for spiritual services. Not that Heaven is needed to balance the
accounts of good men after death--not at all. Good men get all that is
coming to them here--whether it is a crucifixion or a crown--that makes
no difference; crowns and crosses are mere material counters. They do
not win or lose the game--nor even justly mark its loss or winning.

"The reason why Heaven is needed in the scheme of a neighborly man,"
said the Peach Blow Philosopher as he stood at his gate and reviewed the
procession of pilgrims through the wilderness, "is this: The man who
leads a decent life, is building a great soul. Obviously, this world is
not the natural final habitat of great souls; for they occur here
sporadically--though perhaps more and more frequently every trip around
the sun. But Heaven is needed in any scheme of general decency for
decency's sake, so that the decent soul for whose primary development
the earth was hung in the sky, may have a place to find further
usefulness, and a far more exceeding glory than may be enjoyed in this
material dwelling place. So as we grow better and kinder in this world,
hell sloughs off and Heaven is more real."

There is more of this dissertation--if the reader cares to pursue it,
and it may be found in the files of the Harvey _Tribune_. It also
appears as a footnote to an article by an eminent authority on Abnormal
Psychology in a report on Mr. Left, Vol. XXXII, p. 2126, of the Report
of the Psychological Association. The remarks of the Peach Blow
Philosopher credited in the Report of the Proceedings above noted, to
Mr. Left, appeared in the Harvey _Tribune_ Jan. 14, 1903. They may
have been called forth by an editorial in the Harvey _Times_ of
January 9 of that same year. So as that editorial has a proper place in
this narrative, it may be set down here at the outset of this chapter.
The article from the _Times_ is headed: "A Successful Career" and
it follows:

"To-day Judge Thomas Van Dorn retires from ten years of faithful service
as district judge of this district. He was appointed by the Governor and
has been twice elected to this position by the people, and feeling that
the honor should go to some other county in the district, the Judge was
not a candidate for a third nomination or election. During the ten years
of his service he has grown steadily in legal and intellectual
attainments. He has been president of the state bar association,
delegate from that body to the National Bar Association, member of
several important committees in that organization, and now is at the
head of that branch of the National Bar Association organized to secure
a more strict interpretation of the Federal Constitution, as a bulwark
of commercial liberty. Judge Van Dorn also has been selected as a member
of a subcommittee to draft a new state constitution to be submitted to
the legislature by the state bar association. So much for the
recognition of his legal ability.

"As an orator he has won similar and enviable fame. His speech at the
dedication of the state monument at Vicksburg will be a classic in
American oratory for years. At the Marquette Club Banquet in Chicago
last month his oration was reprinted in New York and Boston with
flattering comment. Recently he has been engaged--though his term of
service has just ended--in every important criminal action now pending
west of the Mississippi. As a jury lawyer he has no equal in all the
West.

"But while this practice is highly interesting, and in a sense
remunerative, the Judge feels that the criminal practice makes too much
of a drain upon his mind and body, and while he will defend certain
great lumber operators and will appear for the defense in the famous
Yarborrough murder case, and is considering accepting an almost
unbelievably large retainer in the Skelton divorce case with its
ramifications leading into at least three criminal prosecutions, and
four suits to change or perfect certain land titles, yet this kind of
practice is distasteful to the Judge, and he will probably confine
himself after this year to what is known as corporation practice. He has
been retained as general counsel for all the industrial interests in the
Wahoo Valley. The mine operators, the smelter owners, the cement
manufacturers, the glass factories have seen in Judge Van Dorn a man in
whom they all may safely trust their interests--amicably settling all
differences between themselves in his office, and presenting for the
Wahoo Valley an unbroken front in all future disputes--industrial or
otherwise. This arrangement has been perfected by our giant of finance,
Hon. Daniel Sands of the Traders' State Bank, who is, as every one
knows, heavily interested in every concern in the Valley--excepting the
Independent Coal Company, which by the way has preferred to remain
outside of the united commercial union, and do business under its own
flag--however dark that flag may be.

"This new career of Judge Van Dorn will be highly gratifying to his
friends--and who is there who is not his friend?

"Courteous, knightly, impetuous, gallant Tom Van Dorn? What a career he
has builded for himself in Harvey and the West.

"Scorning his enemies with the quiet contempt of the intellectual
gladiator that he is, Tom Van Dorn has risen in this community as no
other man young or old since its founding. His spacious home is the
temple of hospitality; his magnificent talent is given freely, often to
the poor and needy to whom his money flows in a generous stream whenever
the call comes. His shrewd investment of his savings in the Valley have
made him rich; his beautiful wife and his widening circle of friends
have made him happy--his fine, active brain has made him great.

"The _Times_ extends to the Judge upon his retirement from the
bench the congratulations of an admiring community, and best wishes for
future success."

Now perhaps it was not this article that inspired the Peach Blow
Philosopher. It may have been another item in the same paper hidden away
in the want column.

"Wanted--All the sewing and mending, quilt patching, sheet making, or
other plain sewing that the good women of Harvey have to give out. I
know certain worthy women with families, who need this work. Also
wood-sawing orders promptly filled by competent men out of work. I will
bring work and the workers together. H. Fenn, care Brotherton Book &
Stationery Co., 1127 Market Street."

Or if it was not that item, perhaps it was this one from the South
Harvey _Derrick_ of January 7, that called forth the Peach Blow
Philosopher's remarks on Heaven:

"Mrs. Violet Hogan and family have rented the rooms adjoining Mrs. Van
Dorn's kindergarten. Mrs. Hogan has made arrangements to provide ladies
of South Harvey and the Valley in general with plain sewing by the
piece. A day nursery for children has been fitted up by our genial
George Brotherton, former mayor of Harvey, where mothers sewing may
leave their children in an adjoining room."

Now the Heaven of the Peach Blow Philosopher is not gained at one bound.
Even the painted, canvas Heaven of Thomas Van Dorn cost him
something--to be exact, $100, which he took in "stock" of the
_Times_ company--which always had stock for sale, issued by a Price
& Chanler Gordon job press whenever it was required. And the
negotiations for the Judge's painted Heaven made by his partner, Mr.
Joseph Calvin, of the renewed and reunited firm of Van Dorn & Calvin,
were not without their painful moments. As, for instance, when the
editor of the _Times_ complained bitterly at having it agreed that
he would have to mention in the article the Judge's "beautiful wife,"
specifically and in terms, the editor was for raising the price to $150,
by reason of the laughing stock it would make of the paper, but
compromised upon the promise of legal notices from the firm amounting to
$100 within the following six months. Also there was a hitch in the
negotiations hereinbefore mentioned when the _Times_ was required
to refer to the National Bar Association meeting at all. For it was
notorious that the Judge's flourishing signature with "and wife" had
been photographed upon the register of a New York Hotel when he attended
that meeting, whereas every one knew that Mrs. Van Dorn was in Europe
that summer, and the photograph of the Judge's beautifully flourishing
signature aforesaid was one of the things that persuaded the Judge to
enter the active practice and leave the shades and solitudes of the
bench for more strenuous affairs. To allude to the Judge's wife, and to
mention the National Bar Association in the same article, struck the
editor of the _Times_ as so inauspicious that it required
considerable persuasion on the part of the diplomatic Mr. Calvin, to
arrange the matter.

So the Judge's Heaven bellied on its canvas, full of vain east wind, and
fooled no one--not even the Judge, least of all his beautiful wife, who,
knowing of the Bar Association incident, laughed a ribald laugh.
Moreover, having abandoned mental healing for the Episcopalian faith and
having killed her mental healing dog with caramels and finding surcease
in a white poodle, she gave herself over to a riot of earth
thoughts--together with language thereunto appertaining of so plain a
texture that the Judge all but limped in his strut for several hours.

But when the strut did come back, and the mocking echoes of the strident
tones of "his beautiful wife" were stilled by several rounds of Scotch
whisky at the Club, the Judge went forth into the town, waving his hands
right and left, bowing punctiliously to women, and spending an hour in
police court getting out of trouble some of his gambler friends who had
supported him in politics.

He told every one that it was good to be off the bench and to be "plain
Tom Van Dorn" again, and he shook hands up and down Market Street. And
as "plain Tom Van Dorn" he sat down in the shop of the Paris Millinery
Company, Mrs. Herdicker, Prop., and talked to the amiable Prop. for half
an hour--casting sly glances at the handsome Miss Morton, who got behind
him and made faces over his back for Mrs. Herdicker's edification.

But as Mrs. Herdicker, Prop., made it a point--and kept it--never to
talk against the cash drawer, "plain Tom Van Dorn" didn't learn the
truth from her. So he pranced up and down before his scenic
representation of Heaven in the _Times_, and did not know that the
whole town knew that his stage Heaven was the masque for as hot and cozy
a little hell as any respectable gentleman of middle years could endure.

However clear he made it to the public, that he and Mrs. Van Dorn were
passionately fond of each other; however evident he intended it to be
that he was more than satisfied with the bargain that he had made when
he took her, and put away his first wife; however strongly he played the
card of the gallant husband and "dearied" her, and however she smirked
at him and "dawlinged" him in public when the town was looking, every
one knew the truth.

"We may," says the Peach Blow Philosopher in one of his dissertations on
the Illusion of Time, "counterfeit everything in this world--but
sincerity." So Judge Thomas Van Dorn--"plain Tom Van Dorn," went along
Market Street, and through the world, handing out his leaden gratuities.
But people felt how greasy they were, how heavy they were, how soft they
were; and threw them aside, and sneered.

As for the Heaven which the Peach Blow Philosopher may have found for
Henry Fenn and Violet Hogan, it was a different affair, but of slow and
uncertain growth. Henry Fenn went into the sewer gang the day after he
found Violet in the railroad yards, and for two weeks he worked ten
hours a day with the negroes and Mexicans in the ditch. It took him a
month to get enough money ahead to pay for a room. Leaving the sewer
gang, he was made timekeeper on a small paving contract. But every day
he sent through the mails to Violet enough to pay her rent and feed the
children--a little sum, but all he could spare. He did not see her. He
did not write to her. He only knew that the money he was making was
keeping her out of the night, so he bent to his work with a will.

And at night,--it was not easy for Violet to stay in the house. She
needed a thousand little things--or thought she did. And there was the
old track and the easy money. But she knew what the pittance that came
from Henry Fenn meant to him, so in pride and in shame one night she
turned back home when she had slipped clear to the corner of the street
with her paint on. When she got home she threw herself upon the bed and
wept like a child in anguish. But the next night she did not even touch
the rouge pot, and avoided it as though it were a poison. Her idea was
the sewing room. She wrote it all out, in her stylish, angular hand to
Mr. Brotherton, told him what it would cost, and how she believed she
could make expenses for herself and help a number of other women who,
like her, were tempted to go the wrong road. She even sent him five
spoons--the last relic of the old Mauling decency, five silver spoons
dented with the tooth marks of the Mauling children, five spoons done up
in pink tissue that she had always told little Ouida Hogan should come
to her some day--she sent those spoons to Mr. Brotherton to sell to make
the start toward the sewing room.

But Mr. Brotherton took the spoons to Mr. Ira Dooley's home of the fine
arts and crafts, and then and there, mounting a lookout stand, addressed
the crowd through the smoke in simple but effective language, showing
the spoons, telling the boys at the gaming tables that they all knew
Denny Hogan's wife and how about her; that she wanted to get in right;
that the spoons were sent to him to sell to the highest and best bidder
for cash in hand. He also said that chips would count at the market
price, and lo! he got a hat full of rattly red and white and blue chips
and jingly silver dollars and a wad of whispering five-dollar bills big
enough to cork a cannon. He went back to Harvey, spoons and all,
considering deeply certain statements that Grant Adams had made about
the presence of the holy ghost in every human heart.

As for the bright particular Heaven of Mr. Fenn, as hereinbefore
possibly hinted at by the Peach Blow Philosopher, these are its
specifications:

_Item One._ Job as storekeeper at the railroad roundhouse, from
which by specific order of the master mechanic two hours a day are
granted to Mr. Fenn, to take his hat in his hand and go marching over
the town, knocking at doors and soliciting sewing for women, and
wood-sawing or yard or furnace work for men; but

_Item Two._ Being a generous man, Mr. Fenn is up before eight for
an hour of his work, and stays at it until seven, and thereby gets in
two or three extra hours on the job, and feels

_Item Three._ That he is doing something worth while;

_Item Four._ Upon the first of the month he has nothing;

_Item Five._ Balancing his books at the last of the month he has
nothing,

_Item Six._ And having no debt he is happy. But speaking of debt,
there is

_Item Seven._ In Mr. Fenn's room a collection of receipts:

(a) One from the Midland Railroad Company for brass as per statement
rendered.

(b) One from the Harvey Transfer Co. for one box of cutlery marked
Wright & Perry, and

(c) One--the hardest receipt of all to get--from Martha Morton for six
chickens as per account rendered. These receipts hang on a spindle in
the little room. Under the spindle is

_Item Eight._ A bottle of whisky--full but uncorked. He is in his
room but little. Sometimes he comes in late at night, and does not light
the lamp to avoid seeing the bottle, but plunges into bed, and covers up
his head in fear and trembling. On the day when the Peach Blow
Philosopher printed his view on Heaven, Mr. Fenn, by way of personal
adornment, had purchased of Wright & Perry

_Item Nine._ One new coat. He hoped and so indicated to the firm,
to be able to afford a vest in the spring and perhaps trousers by
summer, and because of the cutlery transaction above mentioned, the firm
indicated

_Item Ten._ That Mr. Fenn's credit was good for the whole suit. But
Mr. Fenn waved a proud hand and said he had

_Item Eleven._ No desire to become involved in the devious ways of
high finance, and took only the coat.

But, nevertheless, no small part of his Heaven lies in the serene
knowledge that the whole suit is waiting for him, carefully put aside by
the head of the house until Mr. Fenn cares to call for it. That is
perhaps a material Heaven but it is a part of Mr. Fenn's Heaven, and as
he goes about from door to door soliciting for sewing, the knowledge
that if he should cease or falter four women might be on the street the
next night, keeps him happy, and not even when he was county attorney or
in the real estate business nor writing insurance, nor disporting
himself as an auctioneer was Mr. Fenn ever in his own mind a person of
so much use and consequence. So his Heaven needs no east wind to belly
it out. Mr. Fenn's Heaven is full and fat and prosperous--even on two
meals a day and in a three-dollar-a-month room.

And now that we may balance up the Heaven account in these books, we
should come to some conclusion as to what Heaven is. Let us call it, for
the sake of our hypothesis, the most work one can do for the least
self-interest, and let it go at that and get on with the story. For this
story has to do with large and real affairs. It must not dally here with
the sordid affairs of a lady who certainly was no better than she should
be and of a gentleman who was as the hereinbefore mentioned receipts
will show, much worse than he might have been.



CHAPTER XXXV

THE ODD SPIDER BEGINS TO DIVIDE HIS FLIES WITH OTHERS AND GEORGE
BROTHERTON IS PUZZLED TWICE IN ONE NIGHT


Now it was in the year of these minor conquests when Henry Fenn and
Violet Hogan were enjoying their little Heavens that great things began
to stir in Harvey and the Wahoo Valley. In May a young gentleman in a
high hat and a suit of exquisite gray twill cut with a long frock coat,
appeared at the Hotel Sands--and took the bridal suite on the second
floor. He brought letters to the Traders' Bank and from the Bank took
letters to the smelters, and with a notebook in hand the young man in
exquisite gray twill went about for three or four days smiling affably,
and asking many questions. Then he left and in due course--that is to
say, in a fortnight--Mr. Sands called the managing officials of all the
smelters into his back room and read them a letter from a New York firm
offering to trade stock in a holding company, taking over smelters of
the class and kind in the Wahoo Valley for the stocks and bonds of the
Harvey Smelters Company. The letterhead was so awe-inspiring and the
proposition was so convincing by reason of the terror inherent in the
letterhead that the smelters went into the holding company, and
thereafter the managing officials who had been men of power and
consequence in Harvey became clerks. About the same time the coal
properties went the same way, and the cement concerns saw their finish
as individual competing concerns. The glass factories were also gobbled
up. So when the Fourth of July came and the youngest Miss Morton, under
great protest, but at her father's stern command, wrapped an American
flag about her--and sang the "Star Spangled Banner" to the Veterans of
Persifer F. Smith Post of the G.A.R. in Sands'

Park, the land of the free and the home of the brave in Harvey was
somewhat abridged.

Daniel Sands felt the abridgement more than any one else. For a
generation he had been a spider, weaving his own web for his own nest.
All his webs and filaments and wires and pipes and cables went out and
brought back things for him to dispose of. He was the center of the
universe for himself and for Harvey. He was the beginning and the end.
His bank was the first and the last word in business and in politics in
that great valley. What he spun was his; what he drew into the web was
his. When he invited the fly into his parlor, it was for the delectation
of the spider, not to be passed on to some other larger web and fatter
spider. But that day as he sat, a withered, yellow-skinned, red-eyed,
rattle-toothed, old man with a palsied head that never stopped wagging,
as he sat under his skull cap, blinking out at a fat, little world that
always had been his prey, Daniel Sands felt that he had ceased to be an
end, and had become a means.

His bank, his mines, his smelters, even his municipal utilities, all
were slipping from under his control. He could feel the pull of the rope
from the outside around his own foot. He could feel that he was not a
generator of power. He was merely a pumping station, gathering up all
the fat of the little land that once was his, and passing it out in
pipes that ran he knew not where, to go to some one else--he knew not
whom. True, his commissions came back, and his dividends came back, and
they were rich and sweet, and worth while. But--he was shocked when he
found courage to ask it--if they did not come back, what could he do?
He was part of a great web--a little filament in one obscure corner, and
he was spinning a fabric whose faintest plan he could not conceive.

This angered him, and the spider spat in vain rage. The power he loved
was gone; he was the mere shell of a spider; he was dead. Some man might
come into the bank to-morrow and take even the semblance of his power
from him. They might, indeed, shut up every mill, close every mine, lock
every factory, douse the fire in every smelter in the Wahoo Valley, and
the man who believed he had opened the mills, dug the mines, builded the
factories and lighted the smelter fires with all but his own hands,
could only rage and fume, or be polite and pretend it was his desire.

The town that he believed that he had made out of sunshine and prairie
grass, for all he could do, might be condemned as a bat roost, and the
wires and cables, that ran from his desk all over the Wahoo Valley,
might grow rusty and jangle in the prairie winds, while the pipes rotted
under the sunflowers and he could only make a wry face. Spiders must
have some instinctive constructive imagination to build their marvelous
webs; surely this old spider had an imagination that in Elizabeth's day
would have made him more than a minor poet. Yet in the beginning of the
Twentieth Century he felt himself a bound prisoner in his decaying web.
So he showed his blue mouth, and red eyelids in fury, and was silent
lest even his shadow should find how impotent a thing he was.

But he knew that one man knew. "How about your politics down here?"
asked the affable young man in exquisite gray twill, when he closed the
gas-works deal. And Dan'l Sands said that until recently he and Dr.
Nesbit had been cronies, but that some way the Doctor had been getting
high notions, and hadn't been around the bank lately. The young man in
the exquisite gray twill asked a few questions, catalogued the Doctor,
and then said:

"This man Van Dorn, it appears, is local attorney for all the mines and
smelters--he hasn't the reform bug, has he?"

The old spider grinned and shook his head.

"All right," said the polite young man in the exquisite gray twill, as
he picked up his gray, high hat, and flicked a speck of dust from his
exquisite gray frock coat, "I'll take matters of politics up with him."

So the spider knew that the servant had been put over the master, and
again he opened his mouth in malice, but spoke no word.

And thus it was that Judge Thomas Van Dorn formed a strong New York
connection that stood him in stead in after years. For the web that the
old spider of Market Street had been weaving all these years, was at its
strongest but a rope of sand compared with the steel links of the chain
that was wrapped about the town, with one end in the Judge's hand, but
with the chain reaching out into some distant, mysterious hawser that
moved it with a power of which even the Judge knew little or nothing.

So he was profoundly impressed, and accordingly proud, and added half an
inch to the high-knee action of his strut. He felt himself a part of the
world of affairs--and he was indeed a part. He was one of a thousand men
who, whether they knew it or not, had been bought, body and soul--though
the soul was thrown in for good measure in the Judge's case--to serve
the great, greedy spider of organized capital at whatever cost of public
welfare or of private faith. He was indeed a man of affairs--was Thomas
Van Dorn--a part of a vast business and political cabal, that knew no
party and no creed but dividends and still more dividends, impersonal,
automatic, soulless--the materialization of the spirit of commerce.

And strangely enough, just as Tom Van Dorn worshiped the power that
bought him, so the old spider, peering through the broken, rotting
meshes of what was once his web, felt the power to which it was
fastened, felt the power that moved him as a mere pawn in a game whose
direction he did not conceive; and Dan'l Sands, in spite of his silent
rage, worshiped the power like a groveling idolater.

But the worm never lacks for a bud; that also is a part of God's plan.
Thus, while the forces of egoism, the powers of capital, were
concentrating in a vast organization of socialized individualism, the
other forces and powers of society which were pointing toward a
socialized altruism, were forming also. There was the man in the
exquisite gray twill, harnessing Judge Van Dorn and Market Street to his
will; and there was Grant Adams in faded overalls, harnessing labor to
other wheels that were grinding another grist. Slowly but persistently
had Grant Adams been forming his Amalgamation of the Unions of the
valley. Slowly and awkwardly his unwieldy machinery was creaking its way
round. In spite of handicaps of opposing interests among the men of
different unions, his Wahoo Valley Labor Council was shaping itself into
an effective machine. If the shares of stock in the mills and the mines
and the smelters all ran their dividends through one great hopper, so
the units of labor in the Valley were connected with a common source of
direction. God does not plant the organizing spirit in the world for one
group; it is the common heritage of the time. So the sinister power of
organized capital loomed before Market Street with its terrible threat
of extinction for the town if the town displeased organized capital; so
also rose in the town a dread feeling of uneasiness that labor also had
power. The personification of that power was Grant Adams. And when the
young man in exquisite gray twill had become only a memory, Tom Van Dorn
squarely faced Grant Adams. Market Street was behind the Judge. The
Valley was back of Grant. For a time there was a truce, but it was not
peace. The truce was a time of waiting; waiting and arming for battle.

During the year of the truce, Nathan Perry was busy. Nathan Perry saw
the power that was organizing about him and the Independent mine among
the employers in the district, and intuitively he felt the
resistlessness of the power. But he did not shrink. He advised his
owners to join the combination as a business proposition. But his advice
was a dead fly fed to the old spider's senile vanity. For Daniel Sands
had been able to dictate as a part of his acceptance of the proposition,
this one concession: That the Independent mine be kept out of the
agreement. Nathan Perry suspected this. But most of his owners were game
men, and they decided not even to apply for admission to the
organization. They found that the young man's management of the mine was
paying well; that the labor problem was working satisfactorily; that the
safety devices, while expensive, produced a feeling of good-will among
the men that was worth more even in dividends than the interest on the
money.

But after he had warned his employers of the wrath to come, Nathan Perry
did not spend much time in unavailing regret at their decision. He was,
upon the whole, glad they had made it. And having a serious problem in
philology to work out--namely, to discover whether Esperanto, Chinese or
Dutch is the natural language of man, through study of the
conversational tendencies of Daniel Kyle Perry, the young superintendent
of the Independent mine gave serious thought to that problem.

Then, of course, there was that other problem that bothered Nathan
Perry, and being an engineer with a degree of B. S., it annoyed him to
discover that the problem wouldn't come out straight. Briefly and
popularly stated, it is this: If you have a boiler capacity of 200
pounds per square inch and love a girl 200 pounds to the square inch,
and then the Doctor in his black bag brings one fat, sweaty, wrinkled
baby, and you see the girl in a new and sweeter light than ever before,
see her in a thousand ways rising above her former stature to a
wonderful womanhood beyond even your dreams--how are you going to get
more capacity out of that boiler without breaking it, when the load
calls for four hundred pounds? Now these problems puzzled the young man,
living at that time in his eight-room house with a bath, and he sat up
nights to work them. And some times there were two heads at work on the
sums, and once in a while three heads, but the third head talked a
various language, whose mild and healing sympathy stole the puzzle from
the problem and began chewing on it before they were aware. So Nathan
put the troubles of the mine on the hook whereon he hung his coat at
night, and if he felt uneasy at the trend of the day's events, his
uneasiness did not come to him at home. He had heard it whispered
about--once by the men and once in a directors' meeting--that the clash
with Grant Adams was about to come. If Nathan had any serious wish in
relation to the future, it was the ardent hope that the clash would come
and come soon.

For the toll of death in the Wahoo Valley was cruel and inexorable. The
mines, the factories, the railroads, the smelters, all were death traps,
and the maimed, blind and helpless were cast out of the great industrial
hopper like chaff. Every little neighborhood had its cripple. From the
mines came the blind--whose sight was taken from them by cheap powder;
from the railroad yards came the maimed--the handless, armless, legless
men who, in their daily tasks had been crushed by inferior car
couplings; the smelters sent out their sick, whom the fumes had
poisoned, and sometimes there would come out a charred trunk that had
gone into the great molten vats a man. The factories took hands and
forearms, and sometimes when an accident of unusual horror occurred in
the Valley, it would seem like a place of mourning. The burden of all
this bloodshed and death was upon the laborers. And more than that,--the
burden of the widows and orphans also was upon labor. Capital charged
off the broken machinery, the damaged buildings, the worn-out equipment
to profit and loss with an easy conscience, while the broken men all
over the Valley, the damaged laborers, the worn-out workers, who were
thrown to the scrap heap in maturity, were charged to labor. And labor
paid this bill, chiefly because capital was too greedy to provide safe
machinery, or sanitary shops, or adequate tools!

Nathan Perry, first miner, then pit-boss and finally superintendent, and
always member of Local Miners' Union No. 10, knew what the men were
vaguely beginning to see and think. When some man who had been to court
to collect damages for a killed or crippled friend, some man who had
heard the Judge talk of the assumed risk of labor, some man who had
heard lawyers split hairs to cheat working men of what common sense and
common justice said was theirs, when some such man cried out in hatred
and agony against society, Nathan Perry tried to counsel patience, tried
to curb the malice. But in his heart Nathan Perry knew that if he had
suffered the wrongs that such a man suffered, he too would be full of
wrath and class hatred.

Sometimes, of course, men rose from the pit. Foremen became managers,
managers became superintendents, superintendents became owners, owners
became rich, and society replied--"Look, it is easy for a man to rise."
Once at lunch time, sitting in the shaft house, Nathan Perry with his
hands in his dinner bucket said something of the kind, when Tom
Williams, the little Welsh miner, who was a disciple and friend of Grant
Adams, cried:

"Yes--that's true. It is easy for a man to rise. It was easy for a slave
to escape from the South--comparatively easy. But is it easy for the
class to rise? Was it easy for the slaves to be free? That is the
problem--the problem of lifting a whole class--as your class has been
lifted, young fellow, in the last century. Why, over in Wales a century
ago, a mere tradesman's son like you--was--was nobody. The middle
classes had nothing--that is, nothing much. They have risen. They rule
the world now. This century must see the rise of the laboring class; not
here and there as a man who gets out of our class and then sneers at us,
and pretends he was with us by accident--but we must rise as a class,
boy--don't you see?"

And so, working in the mine, with the men, Nathan Perry completed his
education. He learned--had it ground into him by the hard master of
daily toil--that while bread and butter is an individual problem that no
laborer may neglect except at his peril, the larger problems of the
conditions under which men labor--their hours of service, their factory
surroundings, their shop rights to work, their relation to accidents and
to the common diseases peculiar to any trade--those are not individual
problems. They are class problems and must be solved--in so far as labor
can solve them alone, not by individual struggle but by class struggle.
So Nathan Perry came up out of the mines a believer in the union, and
the closed shop. He felt that those who would make the class problem an
individual problem, were only retarding the day of settlement, only
hindering progress.

Rumor said that the truce in the Wahoo Valley was near an end. Nathan
Perry did not shrink from it. But Market Street was uneasy. It seemed to
be watching an approaching cyclone. When men knew that the owners were
ready to stop the organization of unions, the cloud of unrest seemed to
hover over them. But the clouds dissolved in rumor. Then they gathered
again, and it was said that Grant Adams was to be gagged, his Sunday
meetings abolished or that he was to be banished from the Valley. Again
the clouds dissolved. Nothing happened. But the cloud was forever on the
horizon, and Market Street was afraid. For Market Street--as a
street--was chiefly interested in selling goods. It had, of course,
vague yearnings for social justice--yearnings about as distinct as the
desire to know if the moon was inhabited. But as a street, Market Street
was with Mrs. Herdicker--it never talked against the cash drawer. Market
Street, the world over, is interested in things as they are. The
_statuo quo_ is God and _laissez faire_ is its profit! So
Market Street murmured, and buzzed--and then Market Street also
organized to worship the god of things as they are.

But Mr. Brotherton of the Brotherton Book & Stationery Company held
aloof from the Merchants' Protective Association. Mr. Brotherton at odd
times, at first by way of diversion, and then as a matter of education
for his growing business, had been glancing at the contents of his
wares. Particularly had he been interested in the magazines. Moreover,
he was talking. And because it helped him to sell goods to talk about
them, he kept on talking.

About this time he affected flowing negligee bow ties, and let his thin,
light hair go fluffy and he wrapped rather casually it seemed, about his
elephantine bulk, a variety of loose, baggy garb, which looked like a
circus tent. But he was a born salesman--was Mr. Brotherton. He
plastered literature over Harvey in carload lots.

One day while Mr. Brotherton was wrapping up "Little Women" and a
"Little Colonel" book and "Children of the Abbey" that Dr. Nesbit was
buying for Lila Van Dorn, the Doctor piped, "Well, George, they say
you're getting to be a regular anarchist--the way you're talking about
conditions in the Valley?"

"Not for a minute," answered Mr. Brotherton. "Why, man, all I said was
that if the old spider kept making the men use that cheap powder that
blows their eyes out and their hands off, and their legs off, they ought
to unionize and strike. And if it was my job to handle that powder I'd
tie the old devil on a blast and blow him into hamburger." Mr.
Brotherton's rising emotions reddened his forehead under his thin hair,
and pulled at his wind. He shook a weary head and leaned on a show case.
"But I say, stand by the boys. Maybe it will make a year of bad times or
maybe two; but what of that? It'll make better times in the end."

"All right, George--go in. I glory in your spunk!" chirped the Doctor as
he put Lila's package under his arm. "Let me tell you something," he
added, "I've got a bill I'm going to push in the next legislature that
will knock a hole in that doctrine of the assumed risk of labor, you can
drive a horse through. It makes the owners pay for the accidents of a
trade, instead of hiding behind that theory, that a man assumes those
risks when he takes a job."

The Doctor put his head to one side, cocked one eye and cried: "How
would that go?"

"Now you're shoutin', Doc. Bust a machine, and the company pays for it.
Bust a man, the man pays for it or his wife and children or his friends
or the county. That's not fair. A man's as much of a part of the cost of
production as a machine!"

The Doctor toddled out, clicking his cane and whistling a merry tune and
left Mr. Brotherton enjoying his maiden meditations upon the injustices
of this world. In the midst of his meditations he found that he had been
listening for five minutes to Captain Morton. The Captain was expounding
some passing dream about his Household Horse. Apparently the motor car,
which was multiplying rapidly in Harvey, had impressed him. He was
telling Mr. Brotherton that his Household Horse, if harnessed to the
motor car, would save much of the power wasted by the chains. He was
dreaming of the distant day when motor cars would be used in sufficient
numbers to make it profitable for the Captain to equip them with his
power saving device.

But Mr. Brotherton cut into the Captain's musings with: "You tell the
girls to wash the cat for I'm coming out to-night."

"Girls?--huh--girls?" replied the Captain as he looked over his
spectacles at Mr. Brotherton. "'Y gory, man, what's the matter with
me--eh? I'm staying out there on Elm Street yet--what say?" And he went
out smiling.

When the Captain entered the house, he found Emma getting supper, Martha
setting the table and Ruth, with a candy box before her at the piano,
going over her everlasting "Ah-ah-ah-ah-ahs" from "C to C" as Emma
called it.

Emma took her father's hat, put it away and said: "Well, father--what's
the news?"

"Well," replied the Captain, with some show of deliberation, "a friend
of mine down town told me to tell you girls to wash the cat for he'll be
along here about eight o'clock."

"Mr. Brotherton," scoffed Ruth. "It's up to you two," she cried gayly in
the midst of her eternal journey from "C" to "C." "He never wears his
Odd Fellows' pin unless he's been singing at an Odd Fellows' funeral, so
that lets me out to-night."

"Well," sighed Emma, "I don't know that I want him even if he has on his
Shriner's pin. I just believe I'll go to bed. The way I feel to-night
I'm so sick of children I believe I wouldn't marry the best man on
earth."

"Oh, well, of course, Emma," suggested the handsome Miss Morton, "if you
feel that way about it why, I--"

"Now Martha--" cried the elder sister, "can't you let me alone and get
out of here? I tell you, the superintendent and the principal and the
janitor and the dratted Calvin kid all broke loose to-day and I'm liable
to run out doors and begin to jump and down in the street and scream if
you start on me."

But after supper the three Misses Morton went upstairs, and did what
they could to wipe away the cares of a long and weary day. They put on
their second best dresses--all but Emma, who put on her best, saying she
had nothing else that wasn't full of chalk and worry. At seven
forty-five, they had the parlor illuminated. As for the pictures and
bric-a-brac--to-wit, a hammered brass flower pot near the grate, and
sitting on an onyx stand a picture of Richard Harding Davis, the
contribution of the eldest Miss Morton's callow youth, also a brass
smoking set on a mission table, the contribution of the youngest Miss
Morton from her first choir money--as for the pictures and bric-a-brac,
they were dusted until they glistened, and the trap was all set, waiting
for the prey.

They heard the gate click and the youngest Miss Morton said quickly:
"Well, if he's an Odd Fellow, I guess I'll take him. But," she sighed,
"I'll bet a cooky he's an Elk and Martha gets him."

The Captain went to the door and brought in the victim to as sweet and
demure a trio of surprised young women and as patient a cat, as ever sat
beside a rat hole. After he had greeted the girls--it was Ruth who took
his coat, and Martha his hat, but Emma who held his hand a second the
longest, after she spied the Shriner's pin--Mr. Brotherton picked up the
cat.

"Well, Epaminondas," he puffed as he stroked the animal and put it to
his cheek, "did they take his dear little kitties away from him--the
horrid things."

This was Mr. Brotherton's standard joke. Ruth said she never felt the
meeting was really opened until he had teased them about Epaminondas'
pretended kittens.

For the first hour the talk ranged with obvious punctility over a
variety of subjects--but never once did Mr. Brotherton approach the
subject of politics, which would hold the Captain for a night session.
Instead, Mr. Brotherton spun literary tales from the shop. Then the
Captain broke in and enlivened the company with a description of Tom Van
Dorn's new automobile, and went into such details as to cams and cogs
and levers and other mechanical fittings that every one yawned and the
cat stretched himself, and the Captain incidentally told the company
that he had got Van Dorn's permission to try the Household Horse on the
old machine before it went in on the trade.

Then Ruth rose. "Why, Ruth, dear," said Emma sweetly, "where are you
going?"

"Just to get a drink, dear," replied Ruth.

But it took her all night to finish drinking and she did not return.
Martha rose, began straightening up the littered music on the piano, and
being near the door, slipped out. By this time the Captain was doing
most of the talking. Chiefly, he was telling what he thought the
sprocket needed to make it work upon an automobile. At the hall door of
the dining room two heads appeared, and though the door creaked about
the time the clock struck the half hour, Mr. Brotherton did not see the
heads. They were behind him, and four arms began making signs at the
Captain. He looked at them, puzzled and anxious for a minute or two.
They were peremptorily beckoning him out. Finally, it came to him, and
he said to the girls: "Oh, yes--all right." This broke at the wrong time
into something Mr. Brotherton was saying. He looked up astonished and
the Captain, abashed, smiled and after shuffling his feet, backed up to
the base burner and hummed the tune about the land that was fairer than
day. Emma and Mr. Brotherton began talking. Presently, the Captain
picked up the spitting cat by the scruff of the neck and held him a
moment under his chin. "Well, Emmy," he cut in, interrupting her story
of how Miss Carhart had told the principal if "he ever told of her
engagement before school was out in June, she'd just die," with:

"I suppose there'll be plenty of potatoes for the hash?"

And not waiting for answer, he marched to the kitchen with the cat, and
in due time, they heard the "Sweet Bye and Bye" going up the back
stairs, and then the thump, thump of the Captain's shoes on the floor
above them.

The eldest Miss Morton, in her best silk dress, with her mother's cameo
brooch at her throat, and with the full, maidenly ripeness of
twenty-nine years upon her brow, with her hair demurely parted on said
brow, where there was the faintest hint of a wrinkle coming--which Miss
Morton attributed to a person she called "the dratted Calvin kid,"--the
eldest Miss Morton, hair, cameo, silk dress, wrinkle, the dratted Calvin
kid and all, did or did not look like a siren, according to the point of
view of the spectator. If he was seeking the voluptuous curves of the
early spring of youth--no: but if he was seeking those quieter and more
restful lines that follow a maiden with a true and tender heart, who is
a good cook and who sweeps under the sofa, yes.

Mr. Brotherton did not know exactly what he desired. He had been coming
to the Morton home on various errands since the girls were little tots.
He had seen Emma in her first millinery store hat. He had bought Martha
her first sled; he had got Ruth her last doll. But he shook his head. He
liked them all. And then, as though to puzzle him more, he had noticed
that for two or three years, he had never got more than two consecutive
evenings with any of them--or with all of them. The mystery of their
conduct baffled him. He sometimes wondered indignantly why they worked
him in shifts? Sometimes he had Ruth twice; sometimes Emma and Martha in
succession--sometimes Martha twice. He like them all. But he could not
understand what system they followed in disposing of him. So as he sat
and toyed with his Shriner's pin and listened to the tales of a tepid
schoolmistress' romance that Emma told, he wondered if after all--for a
man of his tastes, she wasn't really the flower of the flock.

"You know, George," she was old enough for that, and at rare times when
they were alone she called him George, "I'm working up a kind of sorrow
for Judge Van Dorn--or pity or something. When I taught little Lila he
was always sending her candy and little trinkets. Now Lila is in the
grade above me, and do you know the Judge has taken to walking by the
schoolhouse at recess, just to see her, and walking along at noon and at
night to get a word with her. He has put up a swing and a teeter-totter
board on the girls' playgrounds. This morning I saw him standing, gazing
after her, and he was as sad a figure as I ever saw. He caught me
looking at him and smiled and said:

"'Fine girl, Emma,' and walked away."

"Lord, Emma," said Mr. Brotherton, as he brought his big, baseball hands
down on his fat knees. "I don't blame him. Don't you just think children
are about the nicest things in this world?"

Emma was silent. She had expressed other sentiments too recently. Still
she smiled. And he went on:

"Oh, wow!--they're mighty fine to have around."

But Mr. Brotherton was restless after that, and when the clock was
striking ten he was in the hall. He left as he had gone for a dozen
years. And the young woman stood watching him through the glass of the
door, a big, strong, handsome man--who strode down the walk with
clicking heels of pride, and she turned away sadly and hurried upstairs.

"Martha," she asked, as she took down her hair, "was it ordained in the
beginning of the world that all school teachers would have to take
widowers?"

And without hearing the answer, she put out the light.

Mr. Brotherton, stalking--not altogether unconsciously down the walk,
turned into the street and as he went down the hill, he was aware that a
boy was overtaking him. He let the boy catch up with him. "Oh, Mr.
Brotherton," cried the boy, "I've been looking for you!"

"Well, here I am; what's the trouble?"

"Grant sent me," returned the boy, "to ask you if he could see you at
eight o'clock to-morrow morning at the store?"

Brotherton looked the boy over and exclaimed:

"Grant?" and then, "Oh--why, Kenyon, I didn't know you. You are
certainly that human bean-stalk, son. Let's take a look at you. Well,
say--" Mr. Brotherton stopped and backed up and paused for dramatic
effect. Then he exploded: "Say, boy, if I had you in an olive wood
frame, I could get $2.75 or $3.00 for you as Narcissus or a boy Adonis!
You surely are the angel child!"

The boy's great black eyes shone up at the man with something wistful
and dream-like in them that only his large, sensitive mouth seemed to
comprehend. For the rest of the child's face was boy--boy in early
adolescence. The boy answered simply:

"Grant said to tell you that he expects the break to-morrow and is
anxious to see you."

Mr. Brotherton looked at the boy again--the eyes haunted the man--he
could not place them, yet they were familiar to him.

"Where you been, kid?" he asked. "I thought you were in Boston,
studying."

"It's vacation, sir," answered Kenyon.

Brotherton pulled the lad up under the next corner electric lamp and
again gazed at him. Then Mr. Brotherton remembered where he had seen the
eyes. The second Mrs. Van Dorn had them. This bothered the man.

The eyes of the boy that flashed so brightly into Mr. Brotherton's eyes,
certainly puzzled him and startled him. But not so much as the news the
boy carried. For then Mr. Brotherton knew that Market Street would be
buzzing in the morning and that the cyclone clouds that were lowering,
soon would break into storm.



CHAPTER XXXVI

A LONG CHAPTER BUT A BUSY ONE, IN WHICH KENYON ADAMS AND HIS MOTHER HAVE
A STRANGE MEETING, AND LILA VAN DORN TAKES A NIGHT RIDE


The next morning at eight o'clock, Grant Adams came hurrying into
Brotherton's store. As he strode down the long store room, Brotherton
thought that Grant in his street clothes looked less of a person than
Grant in his overalls. But the big man rose like a frisky mountain in
earthquake and called:

"Hello there, Danton--going to shake down the furnace fires of
revolution this morning, I understand."

Grant stared at Brotherton. Solemnly he said, as he stood an awkward
moment before sitting. "Well, Mr. Brotherton, the time has come, when I
must fight. To-day is the day!"

"Yes," replied Brotherton, "I heard a few minutes ago that they were
going to run you out of the district to-day. The meeting in the
Commercial Club rooms is being called now."

"Yes," said Grant, "and I've been asked to appear before them."

"I guess they are going to try and bluff you out, Grant," said
Brotherton.

"I got wind of it last night," said Grant, "when they nailed up the last
hall in the Valley against me. One after another of the public halls has
been closed to me during the past year. But to-day is to be our first
public rally of the delegates of the Wahoo Valley Trades Council. We
have rented office rooms in the second floor of the Vanderbilt House in
South Harvey, and are coming out openly as an established labor
organization, ready for business in the Valley, and we are going to have
a big meeting--somewhere--I don't know where now, but somewhere--" his
face turned grim and a fanatic flame lighted his eyes as he spoke.
"Somewhere the delegates of the Council will meet to-night, and I shall
talk to them--or--"

"Soh, boss--soh, boss--don't get excited," counseled Mr. Brotherton.
"They'll blow off a little steam in the meeting this morning, and then
you go on about your business."

"But you don't know what I know, George Brotherton," protested Grant as
he leaned forward. "I have converted enough spies--oh, no--not counting
the spies who were converted merely to scare me--but enough real spies
to know that they mean business!" He stopped, and sitting back in his
chair again, he said grimly, "And so do I--I shall talk to the men
to-night, or--"

"All right, son; you'll talk or 'the boy, oh, where was he?' I'll tell
you what," cried Mr. Brotherton; "you'll fool around with the buzz saw
till you'll get killed. Now, look here, Grant--I'm for your revolution,
and six buckets of blood. But you can't afford to lose 'em! You're dead
right about the chains of slavery and all that sort of thing, but don't
get too excited about it. You live down there alone with your father and
he is talking to spooks, and you're talking to yourself; and you've got
a kind of ingrown idea of this thing. Give the Lord a little time, and
he'll work out this pizen in our social system. I'll help you, and maybe
before long Doc'll see the light and help you; but now you need a
regulator. You ought to have a wife and about six children to hook you
up to the ordinary course of nature! And see here, Grant," Mr.
Brotherton dropped a weighty hand on Grant's shoulder, "if you don't be
careful you'll furnish the ingredients of a public funeral, and where
will your revolution be then--and the boys in the Valley and your father
and Kenyon?"

While Brotherton was speaking, Grant sat with an impassive face. But
when Kenyon's name was uttered he looked up quickly and answered:

"That is why I am here this morning; it's about Kenyon. George
Brotherton, that boy is more than life to me." The fanatic light was
gone from Grant's eyes, and the soft glow in them revealed a man that
George Brotherton had not seen in years. "Mr. Brotherton," continued
Grant, "father is getting too old to do much for Kenyon. The Nesbits
have borne practically all the expense of educating him. But the Doctor
won't always be here." Again he hesitated. Then he went ahead as if he
had decided for the last time. "George Brotherton, if I should be
snuffed out, I want you to look after Kenyon--if ever he needs it. You
have no one, and--" Grant leaned forward and grasped Brotherton's great
hands and cried, "George Brotherton, if you knew the gold in that boy's
heart, and what he can do with a violin, and how his soul is unfolding
under the spell of his music. He's so dumb and tongue-tied and unformed
now; and yet--"

"Well--say!" It came out of Mr. Brotherton with a crash like a falling
tree, "Grant--well, say! Through sickness and health, for better or for
worse, till death do us part--if that will satisfy you." He put his big
paw over and grabbed Grant's steel hook and jerked him to his feet.
"You've sure sold Kenyon into bondage. When I saw him last night--honest
to God, man--I thought I'd run into a picture roaming around out of
stock without a frame! Him and me together can do Ariel and Prospero
without a scratch of make-up." Grant beamed, but when Brotherton
exclaimed as an afterthought, "Say, man, what about that boy's eyes?"
Grant's features mantled and the old grim look overcast his face, as
Brotherton went on: "Why, them eyes would make a madonna's look like
fried eggs! Where did he get 'em--they're not Sands and they're not
Adams. He must take back to some Peri that blew into Massachusetts from
an enchanted isle." Brotherton saw that he was annoying Grant in some
way. Often he realized that his language was not producing the desired
effect; so he veered about and said gently, "You're not in any danger,
Grant; but so long as I'm wearing clothes that button up the
front--don't worry about Kenyon, I'll look after him."

Five minutes later, Grant was standing in the front door of Brotherton's
store, gazing into Market Street. He saw Daniel Sands and Kyle Perry and
Tom Van Dorn walking out of one store and into the next. He saw John
Kollander in a new blue soldier uniform stalking through the street. He
saw the merchants gathering in small, volatile groups that kept forming
and re-forming, and he knew that Mr. Brotherton's classic language was
approximately correct when he said there was a hen on. Grant eyed the
crowd that was hurrying past him to the meeting like a hungry hound
watching a drove of chickens. Finally, when Grant saw that the last
straggler was in the hall, he turned and stalked heavily to the
Commercial Club rooms, yet he moved with the self-consciousness of one
urged by a great purpose. His head was bent in reflection. His hand held
his claw behind him, and his shoulders stooped. He knew his goal, but
the way was hard and uncertain, and he realized the peril of a strategic
misstep at the outset. Heavily he mounted the steps to the hall,
entered, and took a seat in the rear. He sat with his head bowed and his
gaze on the floor. He was aware that Judge Van Dorn was speaking; but
what the Judge was saying did not interest Grant. His mind seemed aloof
from the proceedings. Suddenly what he had prepared to say slipped out
of his consciousness completely, as he heard the Judge declare, "We deem
this, sir, a life and death struggle for our individual liberties; a
life and death struggle for our social order; a life and death struggle
for our continuance to exist as individuals." There was a long
repetition of the terms "life and death." They appealed to some tin-pan
rhythmic sense in the Judge's oratorical mind. But the phrase struck
fire in Grant Adams's heart. Life and death, life and death, rang
through his soul like a clamor of bells. "We have given our all,"
bellowed the Judge, "to make this Valley an industrial hive, where labor
may find employment--all of our savings, all of our heritage of
Anglo-Saxon organizing skill, and we view this life and death struggle
for its perpetuity--" But all Grant Adams heard of that sentence was
"life and death," as the great bell of his soul clanged its alarm. "We
are a happy, industrial family," intoned the Judge, the suave Judge, who
was something more than owner; who was Authority without responsibility,
who was the voice of the absentee master; the voice, it seemed to Grant,
of an enchanted peacock squawking in the garden of a dream; the voice
that cried: "and to him who would overthrow all this contentment, all
this admirable adjustment of industrial equilibrium we offer the life
and death alternative that is given to him who would violate a peaceful
home."

But all that Grant Adams sensed of his doom in the Judge's pronouncement
was the combat of death with life. Life and death were meeting for their
eternal struggle, and as the words resounded again and again in the
Judge's oratory, there rushed into Grant Adams's mind the phrase, "I am
the resurrection and the life," and he knew that in the life and death
struggle for progress, for justice, for a more abundant life on this
planet, it would be finally life and not death that would win.

As he sat blindly glaring at the floor, there may have stolen into his
being some ember from the strange flame burning about our earth, whose
touch makes men mad with the madness that men have, who come from the
wildernesses of life, from the lowly walks and waste places--the madness
of those who feed on locusts and wild honey; who, like St. Francis and
Savonarola, go forth on hopeless quests for the unattainable ideal, or
like John Brown, who burn in the scorching flame all the wisdom of the
schools and the courts, and for one glorious day shine forth with their
burning lives a beacon by which the world is lighted to its own sad
shame.

Grant never remembered what he said by way of introduction as he stood
staring at the crowd. It was a different crowd from audiences he knew.
To Grant it was the market place; merchants, professional men; clerks,
bankers,--well-dressed men, with pale, upturned faces stretched before
him to the rear of the hall. It was all black and white, and as his soul
cried "life and death" back of his conscious speech, the image came to
him that all these pale, black-clad figures were in their shrouds, and
that he was talking to the visible body of death--laid out stiffly
before him.

What answer he made to Van Dorn does not matter. Grant Adams could not
recall it when he had finished. But ever as he spoke through his being
throbbed the electrical beat of the words, "I am the resurrection and
the life." And he was exultant in the consciousness that in the struggle
of "life and death," life would surely win. So he stood and spoke with a
tongue of flame.

"If you have given all--and you have, we also have given all. But our
all is more vitally our all--than yours; for it is our bodies, our food
and clothing; our comfortable homes; our children's education, our
wives' strength; our babies' heritage; many of us have indeed given our
sons' integrity and our daughters' virtue. All these we have put into
the bargain with you. We have put them into the common hopper of this
industrial life, and you have taken the grain and we the chaff. It is
indeed a life and death struggle. And this happy family, this
well-balanced industrial adjustment, this hell of labor run through your
mills like grist, this is death; death is the name for all your wicked
system, that shrinks and cringes before God's ancient justice. 'I am the
resurrection and the life' was not spoken across the veil that rises
from the grave. It was spoken for men here in the flesh who shall soon
come into a more abundant life. Life and death, life and death are
struggling here this very hour, and you--you," he leaned forward shaking
his steel claw in their faces, "you and your greedy system of capital
are the doomed; you are death's embodiment."

Then came the outburst. All over the house rose cries. Men jumped from
their chairs and waved their arms. But Judge Van Dorn quieted them. He
knew that to attack Grant Adams physically at that meeting would inflame
the man's followers in the Valley. So he pounded the gavel for quiet. To
Adams he thundered, "Sit down, you villain!" Still the crowd hissed and
jeered. A great six-footer in new blue overalls, whom Grant knew as one
of the recent spies, one of the sluggers sent to the Valley, came
crowding to the front of the room. But Judge Van Dorn nodded him back.
When the Judge had stilled the tumult, he said in his sternest judicial
manner, "Now, Adams--we have heard enough of you. Leave this district.
Get out of this Valley. You have threatened us; we shall not protect you
in life or limb. You are given two hours to leave the Valley, and after
that you stay here at your own peril. If you try to hold your labor
council, don't ask us, whom you have scorned, to surround you with the
protection of the society you would overthrow in bloodshed. Now, go--get
out of here," he cried, with all the fire and fury that an outraged
respectability could muster. But Grant, turning, twisted his hook in the
Judge's coat, held him at arm's length, and leaning toward the crowd,
with the Judge all but dangling from his steel arm, cried: "I shall
speak in South Harvey to-night. This is indeed a life and death
struggle, and I shall preach the gospel of life. Life," he cried with a
trumpet voice, "life--the life of society, and its eternal resurrection
out of the forces of life that flow from the everlasting divine spring!"

After the crowd had left the hall, Grant hurried toward the street
leading to South Harvey. As he turned the corner, the man whom Grant had
seen in the hall met him, the man whom Grant recognized as a puddler in
one of the smelters. He came up, touched Grant on the shoulder and
asked:

"Adams?" Grant nodded.

"Are you going down to South Harvey?"

Grant replied, "Yes, I'm going to hold a meeting there to-night."

"Well, if you try," said the man, pushing his face close to Grant's,
"you'll get your head knocked off--that's all. We don't like your
kind--understand?" Grant looked at the man, took his measure physically
and returned:

"All right, there'll be some one around to pick it up--maybe!"

The man walked away, but turned to say:

"Mind now--you show up in South Harvey, and we'll fix you right!"

As Grant turned to board a South Harvey car, Judge Van Dorn caught his
arm, and said:

"Wait a minute, the next car will do."

The Judge's wife was with him, and Grant was shocked to see how
doll-like her face had become, how the lines of character had been
smoothed out, the eyelids stained, the eyebrows penciled, the lips
colored, until she had a bisque look that made him shudder. He had seen
faces like hers, and fancied that he knew their story.

"I would like to speak with you just a minute. Come up to the office.
Margaret, dearie," said Van Dorn, "you wait for me at Brotherton's." In
the office, Van Dorn squared himself before Grant and said:

"It's no use, sir. You can't hold a meeting there to-night--the thing's
set against you. I can't stop them, but I know the rough element there
will kill you if you try. You've done your best--why risk your head,
man--for no purpose? You can't make it--and it's dangerous for you to
try."

Grant looked at Van Dorn. Then he asked:

"You represent the Harvey Fuel Company, Judge?"

"Yes," replied the Judge with much pride of authority, "and we--"

Grant stopped him. "Judge," he said, "if you blow your horn--I'll ring
my bell and--If I don't hold my meeting to-night, your mines won't open
to-morrow morning." The Judge rose and led the way to the door.

"Oh, well," he sneered, "if you won't take advice, there's no need of
wasting time on you."

"No," answered Grant, "only remember what I've said."

When Grant alighted from the car in South Harvey, he found his puddler
friend waiting for him. The two went into the Vanderbilt House, where
Grant greeted Mrs. Williams, the landlady, as an old friend, and the
puddler cried: "Say, lady--if you keep this man--we'll burn your house."

"Well, burn it--it wouldn't be much loss," retorted the landlady, who
turned her back upon the puddler and said to Grant: "We've given you the
front room upstairs, Grant, for the committee. It has the outside
staircase. Your room is ready. You know the Local No. 10 boys from the
Independent are all coming around this afternoon--as soon as they learn
where the meeting is."

The puddler walked away and Grant went out into the street; looked up at
the wooden structure with the stairway rising from the sidewalk and
splitting the house in two. Mounting the stairs, he found a narrow hall,
leading down a long line of bedrooms. He realized that he must view his
location as a general looks over a battlefield.

The closing of the public halls to Grant and his cause had not
discouraged him. He knew that he still had the great free out-of-doors,
and he had thought that an open air meeting would give the cause
dramatic setting. He felt that to be barred from the halls of the Valley
helped rather than hurt his meeting. The barring proved to the workers
the righteousness of their demands. So Grant sallied forth to locate a
vacant lot; he shot out of his room full of the force of his enthusiasm,
but his force met another force as strong as his, and ruthless. God's
free out of doors, known and beloved of Grant from his boyhood, was
preëmpted: What he found in his quest for a meeting place was a large
red sign, "No trespassing," upon the nearest vacant lot, and a special
policeman parading back and forth in front of the lot on the sidewalk.
He found a score of lots similarly placarded and patrolled. He sent men
to Magnus and Foley scurrying like ants through the Valley, but no lot
was available.

Up town in Harvey, the ants also were busy. The company was sending men
over Market Street, picking out the few individuals who owned vacant
lots, leasing them for the month and preparing to justify the placarding
and patrolling that already had been done. One of the ants that went
hurrying out of the Sands hill on this errand, was John Kollander, and
after he had seen Wright & Perry and the few other merchants who owned
South Harvey real estate, he encountered Captain Ezra Morton, who
happened to have a vacant lot, given to the Captain in the first flush
of the South Harvey boom, in return for some service to Daniel Sands.
John Kollander explained his errand to the Captain, who nodded wisely,
and stroked his goatee meditatively.

"I got to think it over," he bawled, and walked away, leaving John
Kollander puzzled and dismayed. But Captain Morton spent no time in
academic debate. In half an hour he was in South Harvey, climbing the
stairs of the Vanderbilt House, and knocking at Grant Adams's door.
Throwing open the door Grant found Captain Morton, standing to attention
with a shotgun in his hands. The Captain marched in, turned a square
corner to a chair, but slumped into it with a relieved sigh.

"Well, Grant--I heard your speech this morning to the Merchants'
Association. You're crazy as a bed bug--eh? That's what I told 'em all.
And then they said to let you go to it--you couldn't get a hall, and the
company could keep you off the lots all over the Valley, and if you
tried to speak on the streets they'd run you in--what say?" His old eyes
snapped with some virility, and he lifted up his voice and cried:

"But 'y gory--is that the way to do a man, I says? No--why, that ain't
free speech! I remember when they done Garrison and Lovejoy and those
old boys that way before the war. I fit, bled and died for that,
Grant--eh? And I says to the girls this noon: 'Girls--your pa's got a
lot in South Harvey, over there next to the Red Dog saloon, that he got
way back when they were cheap, and now that the company's got all their
buildings up and don't want to buy any lots--why, they're cheaper
still--what say?'

"And 'y gory, I says to the girls--'If your ma was living I know what
she'd say. She'd say, "You just go over there and tell that Adams boy
that lot's hisn, and if any one tries to molest him, you blow 'em to
hell"--that's what your ma'd say'--only words to that effect--eh? And so
by the jumping John Rogers, Grant--here I am!"

He looked at the shotgun. "One load's bird shot--real fine and soft,
with a small charge of powder." He put his hand to his mouth sheepishly
and added apologetically, "I suppose I won't need it,--but I just put
the blamedest load of buck shot and powder in that right barrel you ever
saw--what say?"

Grant said: "Well, Captain--this isn't your fight. You don't believe in
what I'm talking about--you've proved your patriotism in a great war.
Don't get into this, Captain."

"Grant Adams," barked the Captain as if he were drilling his company, "I
believe if you're not a Socialist, you're just as bad. But 'y gory, I
fought for the right of free speech, and free meetings, and Socialist or
no Socialist, that's your right. I'm going to defend you on my own lot."
He rose again, straightened up in rheumatic pain, marched to the door,
saluted, and said:

"I brought my supper along with me. It's in my coat pocket. I'm going
over to the lot and sit there till you come. I know this class of people
down here. They ain't worth hell room, Grant," admonished the Captain
earnestly. "But if I'm not there, the company will crowd their men in on
that lot as sure as guns, when they know you are to meet there. And I'm
going there to guard it till you come. Good day--sir."

And with that he thumped limpingly down the narrow stairs, across the
little landing, out of the door and into the street.

Grant stood at the top of the stairs and watched him out of sight. Then
Grant pulled himself together, and went out to see the gathering members
of the Labor Council in the hotel office and the men of Local No. 10 to
announce the place of meeting. Later in the afternoon he met Nathan
Perry. When he told Nathan of the meeting, the young man cried in his
rasping Yankee voice:

"Good--you're no piker. They said they had scared the filling out of you
at the meeting this morning, and they've bragged they were going to beat
you up this afternoon and kill you to-night. You look pretty husky--but
watch out. They really are greatly excited."

"Well," replied Grant grimly, "I'll be there to-night."

"Nevertheless," returned Nathan, snapping off his words as though he was
cutting them with steel scissors, "Anne and I agreed to-day, that I must
come to Mrs. Williams's and take you to the meeting. They may get ugly
after dark."

Half an hour later on the street, Grant was passing his cousin Anne,
wheeling Daniel Kyle Perry out to take the air. He checked his hurried
step when he caught her smile and said, "Well, Anne, Nate told me that
you wish to send him over to the meeting to-night, as my body guard. I
don't need a body guard, and you keep Nate at home." He smiled down on
his cousin and for a moment all of the emotional storm in his face was
melted by the gentleness of that smile. "Anne," he said--"what a brick
you are!"

She laughed and gave him the full voltage of her joyous eyes and
answered:

"Grant, I'd rather be the widow of a man who would stand by you and what
you are doing, than to be the wife of a man who shrank from it." She
lowered her voice, "And Grant, here's a curious thing: this second Mrs.
Van Dorn called me up on the phone a little bit ago, and said she knew
you and I were cousins and that you and Nate were such friends, but
would I tell Nate to keep you away from any meeting to-night? She said
she couldn't tell me, but she had just learned some perfectly awful
things they were going to do, and she didn't want to see any trouble.
Wasn't that queer?"

Grant shook his head. "Well, what did you say?" he asked.

"Oh, I said that while they were doing such perfectly awful things to
you, your friends wouldn't be making lace doilies! And she rang off.
What do you think of it?" she asked.

"Just throwing a scare into me--under orders," responded the man and
hurried on.

When Grant returned to the hotel at supper time, he found Mr. Brotherton
sitting in a ramshackle rocking chair in the upstairs bedroom, waiting.

"I thought I'd come over and bring a couple of friends," explained Mr.
Brotherton, pointing to the corner, where two shotguns leaned against
the wall.

"Why, man," exclaimed Grant, "that's good of you, but in all the time
I've been in the work of organization, I've never carried a gun, nor had
one around. I don't want a gun, Mr. Brotherton."

"I do," returned the elder man, "and I'm here to say that moral force is
a grand thing, but in these latitudes when you poke Betsy Jane under the
nose of an erring comrade, he sees the truth with much more clearness
than otherwise. I stick to the gun--and you can go in hard for moral
suasion.

"Also," he added, "I've just taken a survey of these premises, and told
the missus to bring the supper up here. There may be an early curtain
raiser on this entertainment, and if they are going to chase you out of
town to-night, I want a good seat at the performance." He grinned. "Nate
Perry will join us in a little quiet social manslaughter. I called him
up an hour ago, and he said he'd be here at six-thirty. I think he's
coming now." In another minute the slim Yankee figure of Nathan was in
the room. It was scarcely dusk outside. Mrs. Williams came up with a
tray of food. As she set it down she said:

"There's a crowd around at the Hot Dog, you can see them through the
window."

Nate and Grant looked. Mr. Brotherton went into the supper. "Crowd all
right," assented Nate. There was no mistaking the crowd and its
intention. There were new men from the day shift at the smelter,
imported by the company to oppose the unions. A thousand such men had
been brought into the district within a few months.

"There's another saloon across the road here," said Mr. Brotherton,
looking up from his food. "My understanding is that they're going to
make headquarters across the street in Dick's Place. You know I got a
pipe-line in on the enemy through the Calvin girl. She gets it at home,
and her father gets it at the office. Our estimable natty little friend
Joe will be down here--he says to keep the peace. That's what he tells
at home. I know what he's coming for. Tom Van Dorn will sit in the back
room of that saloon and no one will know he's there, and Joseph will
issue Tom's orders. Lord," cried Mr. Brotherton, waving a triangle of
pie in his hand, "don't I know 'em like a book."

While he was talking the crowd slowly was swelling in front of the Hot
Dog saloon. It was a drinking and noisy crowd. Men who appeared to be
leaders were taking other men in to the bar, treating them, then
bringing them out again, and talking excitedly to them. The crowd grew
rapidly, and the noise multiplied. Another crowd was gathering--just a
knot of men down the street by the Company's store, in the opposite
direction from the Hot Dog crowd. Grant and Nate noticed the second
crowd at the same time. It was Local No. 10. Grant left the window and
lighted the lamp. He wrote on a piece of paper, a few lines, handed it
to Nathan, saying:

"Here, sign it with me." It read:

"Boys--whatever you do, don't start anything--of any kind--no matter
what happens to us. We can take care of ourselves."

Nathan Perry signed it, slipped down the stairs into the hall, and
beckoned to his men at the Company's store. The crowd at the Hot Dog saw
him and yelled, but Evan Evans came running for the note and took it
back. Little Tom Williams came up the stairs with Nathan, saying:

"Well--they're getting ready for business. I brought a gun up to No. 3
this afternoon. I'm with Grant in this."

The little landlord went into No. 3, appeared with a rifle, and came
bobbing into the room.

Grant at the window could see the crowd marching from the Hot Dog to
Dick's Place, yelling and cursing as it went. The group in the bedroom
over the street opened the street windows to see better and hear better.
An incandescent over the door of the saloon lighted the narrow street.
In front of the saloon and under the light the mob halted. The men in
the room with Grant were at the windows watching. Suddenly--as by some
prearranged order, four men with revolvers in their hands ran across the
street towards the hotel. Brotherton, Williams and Perry ran to the head
of the stairs, guns in hand. Grant followed them. There they stood when
the door below was thrown open, and the four men below rushed across the
small landing to the bottom of the stairs. It was dark in the upper
hall, but a light from the street flooded the lower hall. The men below
did not look up; they were on the stairs.

"Stop," shouted Brotherton with his great voice.

That halted them. They looked up into darkness. They could see no
faces--only four gun barrels. The men farthest up the stairs literally
fell into the arms of those below. Then the four men below scrambled
down the stairs as Mr. Brotherton roared:

"I'll kill the first man who puts his foot on the bottom step again."

With a cry of terror they rushed out. The crowd at the Company store
hooted, and the mob before the saloon jeered. But the four men scurried
across the street, and told the crowd what had happened. For a few
minutes no move was made. Then Grant, who had left the hallway and was
looking through the window, saw the little figure of Joseph Calvin
moving officiously among the men. He went into the saloon, and came out
again after a time. Then Grant cried to Brotherton at the head of the
stairs:

"Watch out--they're coming; more of them this time." And half a dozen
armed men rushed across the street and appeared at the door of the
hallway.

"Stop," yelled Brotherton--whose great voice itself sounded a terrifying
alarm in the darkened hallway. The feet of two men were on the first
steps of the stairs--they looked up and saw three gun barrels pointing
down at them, and heard Brotherton call "one--two--three," but before he
could say "fire" the men fell back panic stricken and ran out of the
place.

The crowd left the sidewalk and moved into the saloon, and the street
was deserted for a time. Local No. 10 held its post down by the Company
Store. It seemed like an age to the men at the head of the stairs. Yet
Mr. Brotherton's easy running fire of ribaldry never stopped. He was
excited and language came from his throat without restraint.

Then Grant's quick ear caught a sound that made him shudder. It was far
away, a shrill high note; in a few seconds the note was repeated, and
with it the animal cry one never mistakes who hears it--the cry of an
angry mob. They could hear it roaring over the bridge upon the Wahoo and
they knew it was the mob from Magnus, Plain Valley and Foley coming. On
it came, with its high-keyed horror growing louder and louder. It turned
into the street and came roaring and whining down to the meeting place
at the saloon. It filled the street. Then appeared Mr. Calvin following
a saloon porter, who was rolling a whiskey barrel from the saloon. The
porter knocked in the head, and threw tin cups to the crowd.

"What do you think of that for a praying Christian?" snarled Mr.
Brotherton. No one answered Mr. Brotherton, for the whiskey soon began
to make the crowd noisy. But the leaders waited for the whiskey to make
the crowd brave. The next moment, Van Dorn's automobile--the old one,
not the new one--came chugging up. Grant, at the window, looked out and
turned deathly sick. For he saw the puddler who had bullied him during
the day get out of the car, and in the puddler's grasp was Kenyon--with
white face, but not whimpering.

The men made way for the puddler, who hurried the boy into the saloon.
Grant did not speak, but stood unnerved and horror-stricken staring at
the saloon door which had swallowed up the boy.

"Well, for God--" cried Brotherton.

"A screen--they're going to use the boy as a shield--the damn cowards!"
rasped Nathan Perry.

The little Welshman moaned. And the three men stood staring at Grant
whose eyes did not shift from the saloon door. He was rigid and his
face, which trembled for a moment, set like molten bronze.

"If I surrender now, if they beat me here with anything less than my
death, the whole work of years is gone--the long struggle of these men
for their rights." He spoke not to his companions, but through them to
himself. "I can't give up--not even for Kenyon," he cried. "Tom--Tom,"
Grant turned to the little Welshman. "You stood by and heard Dick Bowman
order Mugs to hold the shovel over my face! Did he shrink? Well, this
cause is the life and death struggle of all the Dicks in the Valley--not
for just this week, but for always."

Below the crowd was hushed. Joe Calvin had appeared and was giving
orders in a low tone. The hulking figure of the puddler could be seen
picking out his men; he had three set off in a squad. The men in the
room could see the big beads of sweat stand out on Grant's forehead.
"Kenyon--Kenyon," he cried in agony. Then George Brotherton let out his
bellow, "Grant--look here--do you think I'm going to fire on--"

But the next minute the group at the window saw something that made even
George Brotherton's bull voice stop. Into the drab street below flashed
something all red. It was the Van Dorn motor car, the new one. But the
red of the car was subdued beside the scarlet of the woman in the back
seat--a woman without hat or coat, holding something in her arms. The
men at the window could not see what those saw in the street; but they
could see Joe Calvin fall back; could see the consternation on his face,
could see him waving his hands to the crowd to clear the way. And then
those at the window above saw Margaret Van Dorn rise in the car and they
heard her call, "Joe Calvin! Joe Calvin--" she screamed, "bring my
husband out from behind that wine room door--quick--quick," she
shrieked, "quick, I say."

The mob parted for her. The men at the hotel window could not see what
she had in her arms. She made the driver wheel, drive to the opposite
side of the street directly under the hotel window--directly in front of
the besieged door. In another instant Van Dorn, ghastly with rage, came
bare-headed out of the saloon. He ran across the street crying:

"You she devil, what do you--"

But he stopped without finishing his sentence. The men above looked down
at what he was looking at and saw a child--Tom Van Dorn's child, Lila,
in the car.

"My God, Margaret--what does this mean?" he almost whispered in terror.

"It means," returned the strident voice of the woman, "that when you
sent for your car and the driver told me he was going to Adamses--I knew
why--from what you said, and now, by God," she screamed, "give me that
boy--or this girl goes to the union men as their shield."

Van Dorn did not speak. His mouth seemed about to begin, but she stopped
him, crying:

"And if you touch her I'll kill you both. And the child goes first."

The woman had lost control of her voice. She swung a pistol toward the
child.

"Give me that boy!" she shrieked, and Van Dorn, dumb and amazed, stood
staring at her. "Tell them to bring that boy before I count five: One,
two," she shouted, "three--"

"Oh, Joe," called Van Dorn as his whole body began to tremble, "bring
the Adams boy quick--here!" His voice broke into a shriek with nervous
agitation and the word "here" was uttered with a piercing yell, that
made the crowd wince.

Calvin brought Kenyon out and sent him across the street. Grant opened a
window and called out: "Get into the car with Lila, Kenyon--please."

The woman in the car cried: "Grant, Grant, is that you up there? They
were going to murder the boy, Grant. Do you want his child up there?"

She looked up and the arc light before the hotel revealed her tragic,
shattered face--a wreck of a face, crumpled and all out of line and
focus as the flickering glare of the arc-light fell upon it. "Shall I
send you his child?" she babbled hysterically, keeping the revolver
pointed at Lila--"His child that he's silly about?"

Van Dorn started for her car, but Brotherton at the window bellowed
across a gun sight: "Move an inch and I'll shoot."

Grant called down: "Margaret, take Lila and Kenyon home, please."

Then, with Mr. Brotherton's gun covering the father in the street below,
the driver of the car turned it carefully through the parting crowd, and
was gone as mysteriously and as quickly as he came.

"Now," cried Mr. Brotherton, still sighting down the gun barrel pointed
at Van Dorn, standing alone in the middle of the street, "you make
tracks, and don't you go to that saloon either--you go home to the bosom
of your family. Stop," roared Mr. Brotherton, as the man tried to break
into a run. Van Dorn stopped. "Go down to the Company store where the
union men are," commanded Mr. Brotherton. "They will take you home.

"Hey--you Local No. 10," howled the great bull voice of Brotherton. "You
fellows take this man home to his own vine and fig tree."

Van Dorn, looking ever behind him for help that did not come, edged down
the street and into the arms of Local No. 10, and was swallowed up in
that crowd. A rock from across the street crashed through the window
where the gun barrels were protruding, but there was no fire in return.
Another rock and another came. But there was no firing.

Grant, who knew something of mobs, felt instinctively that the trouble
was over. Nathan and Brotherton agreed. They stood for a time--a long
time it seemed to them--guarding the stairs. Then some one struck a
match and looked at his watch. It was half past eight. It was too late
for Grant to hold his meeting. But he felt strongly that the exit of Van
Dorn had left the crowd without a leader and that the fight of the night
was won.

"Well," said Grant, drawing a deep breath. "They'll not run me out of
town to-night. I could go to the lot now and hold the meeting; but it's
late and it will be better to wait until to-morrow night. They should
sleep this off--I'm going to talk to them."

He stepped to an iron balcony outside the window and putting his hands
to his mouth uttered a long horn-like blast. The men saw him across the
street. "Come over here, all of you--" he called. "I want to talk to
you--just a minute."

The crowd moved, first one or two, then three or four, then by tens.
Soon the crowd stood below looking up half curiously--half angrily.

"You see, men," he smiled as he shoved his hand in his pocket, and put
his head humorously on one side:

"We are more hospitable when you all come than when you send your
delegations. It's more democratic this way--just to kind of meet out
here like a big family and talk it over. Some way," he laughed, "your
delegates were in a hurry to go back and report. Well, now, that was
right. That is true representative government. You sent 'em, they came;
were satisfied and went back and told you all about it." The crowd
laughed. He knew when they laughed that he could talk on. "But you see,
I believe in democratic government. I want you all to come and talk this
matter over--not just a few."

He paused; then began again: "Now, men, it's late. I've got so much to
say I don't want to begin now. I don't like to have Tom Van Dorn and Joe
Calvin divide time with me. I want the whole evening to myself. And," he
leaned over clicking his iron claw on the balcony railing while his jaw
showed the play of muscles in the light from below, "what's more I'm
going to have it, if it takes all summer. Now then," he cried: "The
Labor Council of the Wahoo Valley will hold its meeting to-morrow night
at seven-thirty sharp on Captain Morton's vacant lot just the other side
of the Hot Dog saloon. I'll talk to that meeting. I want you to come to
that meeting and hear what we have to say about what we are trying to
do."

A few men clapped their hands. Grant Adams turned back into the room and
in due course the crowd slowly dissolved. At ten o'clock he was standing
in the door of the Vanderbilt House looking at his watch, ready to turn
in for the night. Suddenly he remembered the Captain. He hurried around
to the Hot Dog, and there peering into the darkness of the vacant lot
saw the Captain with his gun on his shoulder pacing back and forth, a
silent, faithful sentry, unrelieved from duty.

When Grant had relieved him and told him that the trouble was over, the
little old man looked up with his snappy eyes and his dried, weazened
smile and said: "'Y gory, man--I'm glad you come. I was just a-thinking
I bet them girls of mine haven't cooked any potatoes to go with the meat
to make hash for breakfast--eh? and I'm strong for hash."



CHAPTER XXXVII

IN WHICH WE WITNESS A CEREMONY IN THE TEMPLE OF LOVE


George Brotherton took the Captain to the street car that night. They
rode face to face and all that the Captain had seen and more, outside
the Vanderbilt House, and all that George Brotherton had seen within its
portals, a street car load of Harvey people heard with much "'Y gorying"
and "Well--saying," as the car rattled through the fields and into
Market Street. Amiable satisfaction with the night's work beamed in the
moon-face of Mr. Brotherton and the Captain was drunk with martial
spirit. He shouldered his gun and marched down the full length of the
car and off, dragging Brotherton at his chariot wheels like a spoil of
battle.

"Come on, George," called the Captain as the audience in the car smiled.
"Young man, I need you to tell the girls that their pa ain't gone stark,
staring mad--eh? And I want to show 'em a hero!--What say? A genuine
hee-ro!"

It was half an hour after the Captain bursting upon his hearthstone like
a martial sky rocket, had exploded the last of his blue and green
candles. The three girls, sitting around the cold base burner, beside
and above which Mr. Brotherton stood in statuesque repose, heard the
Captain's tale and the protests of Mr. Brotherton much as Desdemona
heard of Othello's perils. And when the story was finished and retold
and refinished and the Captain was rising with what the girls called the
hash-look in his snappy little eyes, Martha saw Ruth swallow a vast yawn
and Martha turned to Emma an appreciative smile at Ruth's discomfiture.

But Emma's eyes were fixed upon Mr. Brotherton and her face turned
toward him with an aspect of tender adoration. Mr. Brotherton, who was
not without appreciation of his own heroic caste, saw the yawn and the
smile and then he saw the face of Emma Morton.

It came over him in a flash of surprise that Ruth and Martha were young
things, not of his world; and that Emma was of his world and very much
for him in his world. It got to him through the busy guard of his outer
consciousness with a great rush of tenderness that Emma really cared for
the dangers he had faced and was proud of the part he had played. And
Mr. Brotherton knew that, with Ruth and Martha, it was a tale that was
told.

As he saw her standing among her sisters, his heart hid from him the
little school teacher with crow's feet at her eyes, but revealed instead
the glowing heart of an exalted woman, who did not realize that she was
uncovering her love, a woman who in the story she had heard was living
for a moment in high romance. Her beloved, imperiled, was restored to
her; the lost was found and the journey which ends so happily in lovers'
meetings was closing.

His eyes filled and his voice needed a cough to prime it. The fire,
glowing in Emma Morton's eyes, steamed up George Brotherton's will--the
will which had sent him crashing forward in life from a train peddler to
a purveyor of literature and the arts in Harvey. Deeds followed impulses
with him swiftly, so in an instant the floor of the Morton cottage was
shaking under his tread and with rash indifference, high and heroic,
ignoring with equal disdain two tittering girls, an astonished little
old man and a cold base burner, the big man stalked across the room and
cried:

"Well, say--why, Emma--my dear!" He had her hands in his and was putting
his arm about her as he bellowed: "Girls--" his voice broke under its
heavy emotional load. "Why, dammit all, I'm your long-lost brother
George! Cap, kick me, kick me--me the prize jackass--the grand
sweepstake prize all these years!"

"No, no, George," protested the wriggling maiden. "Not--not here! Not--"

"Don't you 'no--no' me, Emmy Morton," roared the big man, pulling her to
his side. "Girl--girl, what do we care?" He gave her a resounding kiss
and gazed proudly around and exclaimed, "Ruthie, run and call up the
_Times_ and give 'em the news. Martha, call up old man Adams--and
I'll take a bell to-morrow and go calling it up and down Market Street.
Then, Cap, you tell Mrs. Herdicker. This is the big news." As he spoke
he was gathering the amazed Ruth and Martha under his wing and kissing
them, crying, "Take that one for luck--and that to grow on." Then he let
out his laugh. But in vain did Emma Morton try to squirm from his grasp;
in vain she tried to quiet his clatter. "Say, girls, cluster around
Brother George's knee--or knees--and let's plan the wedding."

"You are going to have a wedding, aren't you, Emma?" burst in Ruth, and
George cut in:

"Wedding--why, this is to be the big show--the laughing show, all the
wonders of the world and marvels of the deep under one canvas. Why,
girls--"

"Well, Emma, you've just got to wear a veil," laughed Martha
hysterically.

"Veil nothing--shame on you, Martha Morton. Why, George hasn't asked--"

"Now ain't it the truth!" roared Brotherton. "Why veil! Veil?" he
exclaimed. "She's going to wear seven veils and forty flower
girls--forty--count 'em--forty! And Morty Sands best man--"

"Keep still, George," interrupted Ruth. "Now, Emma, when--when, I say,
are you going to resign your school?"

Mr. Brotherton gave the youngest and most practical Miss Morton a look
of quick intelligence. "Don't you fret; Ruthie, I'm hog tied by the
silken skein of love. She's going to resign her school to-morrow."

"Indeed I am not, George Brotherton--and if you people don't hush--"

But Mr. Brotherton interrupted the bride-to-be, incidentally kissing her
by way of punctuation, and boomed on in his poster tone, "Morty Sands
best man with his gym class from South Harvey doing ground and lofty
tumbling up and down the aisles in pink tights. Doc Jim in linen pants
whistling the Wedding March to Kenyon Adams's violin obligato, with the
General hitting the bones at the organ! The greatest show on earth and
the baby elephant in evening clothes prancing down the aisle like the
behemoth of holy writ! Well, say--say, I tell you!"

The Captain touched the big man on the shoulder apologetically. "George,
of course, if you could wait a year till the Household Horse gets going
good, I could stake you for a trip to the Grand Canyon myself, but just
now, 'y gory, man!"

"Grand Canyon!" laughed Brotherton. "Why, Cap, we're going to go seven
times around the world and twice to the moon before we turn up in
Harvey. Grand Canyon--"

"Well, at least, father," cried Martha, "we'll get her that tan
traveling dress and hat she's always wanted."

"But I tell you girls to keep still," protested the bride-to-be, still
in the prospective groom's arms and proud as Punch of her position.
"Why, George hasn't even asked me and--"

"Neither have you asked me, Emma, ''eathen idol made of mud what she
called the Great God Buhd.'" He stooped over tenderly and when his face
rose, he said softly, "And a plucky lot she cared for tan traveling
dresses when I kissed her where she stud!" And then and there before the
Morton family assembled, he kissed his sweetheart again, a middle-aged
man unashamed in his joy.

It was a tremendous event in the Morton family and the Captain felt his
responsibility heavily. The excited girls, half-shocked and half-amused
and wholly delighted, tried to lead the Captain away and leave the
lovers alone after George had hugged them all around and kissed them
again for luck. But the Captain refused to be led. He had many things to
say. He had to impress upon Mr. Brotherton, now that he was about to
enter the family, the great fact that the Mortons were about to come
into riches. Hence a dissertation on the Household Horse and its growing
popularity among makers of automobiles; Nate Perry's plans in blue print
for the new factory were brought in, and a wilderness of detail spread
before an ardent lover, keen for his first hour alone with the woman who
had touched his bachelor heart. A hundred speeches came to his lips and
dissolved--first formal and ardent love vows--while the Captain rattled
on recounting familiar details of his dream.

Then Ruth and Martha rose in their might and literally dragged their
father from the room and upstairs. Half an hour later the two lovers in
the doorway heard a stir in the house behind them. They heard the
Captain cry:

"The hash--George, she's the best girl--'Y gory, the best girl in the
world. But she will forget to chop the hash over night!"

As George Brotherton, bumping his head upon the eternal stars, turned
into the street, he saw the great black hulk of the Van Dorn house among
the trees. He smiled as he wondered how the ceremonies were proceeding
in the Temple of Love that night.

It was not a ceremony fit for smiles, but rather for the tears of gods
and men, that the priest and priestess had performed. Margaret Van Dorn
had taken Kenyon home, then dropped Lila at the Nesbit door as she
returned from South Harvey. When she found that her husband had not
reached home, she ran to her room to fortify herself for the meeting
with him. And she found her fortifications in the farthest corner of the
bottom drawer of her dresser. From its hiding place she brought forth a
little black box and from the box a brown pellet. This fortification had
been her refuge for over a year when the stress of life in the Temple of
Love was about to overcome her. It gave her courage, quickened her wits
and loosened her tongue. Always she retired to her fortress when the
combat in the Temple threatened to strain her nerves. So she had worn a
beaten path of habit to her refuge.

Then she made herself presentable; took care of her hair, smoothed her
face at the mirror and behind the shield of the drug she waited. She
heard the old car rattling up the street, and braced herself for the
struggle. She knew--she had learned by bitter experience that the first
blow in a rough and tumble was half the battle. As he came raging
through the door, slamming it behind him, she faced him, and before he
could speak, she sneered:

"Ah, you coward--you sneaking, cur coward--who would murder a child to
win--Ach!" she cried. "You are loathsome--get away from me!"

The furious man rushed toward her with his hands clinched. She stood
with her arms akimbo and said slowly:

"You try that--just try that."

He stopped. She came over and rubbed her body against his, purring, with
a pause after each word:

"You are a coward--aren't you?"

She put her fingers under his jaw, and sneered, "If ever you lay hands
on me--just one finger on me, Tom Van Dorn--" She did not finish her
sentence.

The man uttered a shrill, insane cry of fury and whirled and would have
run, but she caught him, and with a gross physical power, that he knew
and dreaded, she swung him by force into a chair.

"Now," she panted, "sit down like a man and tell me what you are going
to do about it? Look up--dawling!" she cried, as Van Dorn slumped in the
chair.

The man gave her a look of hate. His eyes, that showed his soul, burned
with rage and from his face, so mobile and expressive, a devil of malice
gaped impotently at his wife, as he sat, a heap of weak vanity, before
her. He pulled himself up and exclaimed:

"Well, there's one thing damn sure, I'll not live with you any more--no
man would respect me if I did after to-night."

"And no man," she smiled and said in her mocking voice, "will respect
you if you leave me. How Laura's friends will laugh when you go, and say
that Tom Van Dorn simply can't live with any one. How the Nesbit crowd
will titter when you leave me, and say Tom Van Dorn got just what he had
coming! Why--go on--leave me--if you dare! You know you don't dare to.
It's for better or worse, Tom, until death do us part--dawling!"

She laughed and winked indecently at him.

"I will leave you, I tell you, I will leave you," he burst forth, half
rising. "All the devils of hell can't keep me here."

"Except just this one," she mocked. "Oh, you might leave me and go with
your present mistress! By the way, who is our latest conquest--dawling?
I'm sure that would be fine. Wouldn't they cackle--the dear old hens
whose claws scratch your heart so every day?" She leaned over, caressing
him devilishly, and cried, "For you know when you get loose from me,
you'll pretty nearly have to marry the other lady--wouldn't that be
nice? 'Through sickness and health, for good or for ill,'--isn't it
nice?" she scoffed. Then she turned on him savagely, "So you will try to
hide behind a child, and use him for a shield--Oh, you cur--you
despicable dog," she scorned. Then she drew herself up and spoke in a
passion that all but hissed at him. "I tell you, Tom Van Dorn, if you
ever, in this row that's coming, harm a hair of that boy's head--you'll
carry the scar of that hair to your grave. I mean it."

Van Dorn sprang up. He cried: "What business is it of yours? You she
devil, what's the boy to you? Can't I run my own business? Why do you
care so much for the Adams brat? Answer me, I tell you--answer me," he
cried, his wrath filling his voice.

"Oh, nothing, dawling," she made a wicked, obscene eye at him, and
simpered: "Oh, nothing, Tom--only you see I might be his mother!"

She played with the vulgar diamonds that hid her fingers and looked down
coyly as she smiled into his gray face.

"Great God," he whispered, "were you born a--" he stopped, ashamed of
the word in his mouth.

The woman kept twinkling her indecent eyes at him and put her head on
one side as she replied: "Whatever I am, I'm the wife of Judge Van Dorn;
so I'm quite respectable now--whatever I was once. Isn't that lawvly,
dawling!" She began talking in her baby manner.

Her husband was staring at her with doubt and fear and weak, footless
wrath playing like scurrying clouds across his proud, shamed face.

"Oh, Margaret, tell me the truth," he moaned, as the fear of the truth
baffled him--a thousand little incidents that had attracted his notice
and passed to be stirred up by a puzzled consciousness came rushing into
his memory--and the doubt and dread overcame even his hate for a moment
and he begged. But she laughed, and scouted the idea and then called out
in anguish:

"Why--why have you a child to love--to love and live for even if you
cannot be with her--why can I have none?"

Her voice had broken and she felt she was losing her grip on herself,
and she knew that her time was limited, that her fortifications were
about to crumble. She sat down before her husband.

"Tom," she said coldly, "no matter why I'm fond of Kenyon Adams--that's
my business; Lila is your business, and I don't interfere, do I? Well,"
she said, looking the man in the eyes with a hard, mean, significant
stare, "you let the boy alone--do you understand? Do what you please
with Grant or Jasper or the old man; but Kenyon--hands off!"

She rose, slipped quickly to the stairway, and as she ran up she called,
"Good night, dawling." Before he was on his feet he heard the lock click
in her door, and with a horrible doubt, an impotent rage, and a mantling
shame stifling him, he went upstairs and from her distant room she heard
the bolt click in the door of his room. And behind the bolted doors
stood two ghosts--the ghosts of rejected children, calling across the
years, while the smudge of the extinguished torch of life choked two
angry hearts.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

GRANT ADAMS VISITS THE SONS OF ESAU


"My dear," quoth the Doctor to his daughter as he sat poking his feet
with his cane in her little office at the Kindergarten, after they had
discussed Lila's adventure of the night before, "I saw Tom up town this
morning and he didn't seem to be exactly happy. I says, 'Tom, I hear you
beat God at his own game last night!' and," the Doctor chuckled, "Laura,
do you know, he wouldn't speak to me!" As he laughed, the daughter
interrupted:

"Why, father--that was mean--"

"Of course it was mean. Why--considering everything, I'd lick a man if
he'd talk that mean to me. But my Eenjiany devil kind of got control of
my forbearing Christian spirit and I cut loose."

The daughter smiled, then she sighed, and asked: "Father--tell me, why
did that woman object to Tom's use of Kenyon in the riot last night?"

Doctor Nesbit opened his mouth as if to answer her. Then he smiled and
said, "Don't ask me, child. She's a bad egg!"

"Lila says," continued the daughter, "that Margaret appears at every
public place where Kenyon plays. She seems eager to talk to him about
his accomplishments, and has a sort of fascinated interest in whatever
he does, as nearly as I can understand it? Why, father? What do you
suppose it is? I asked Grant, who was here this morning with a Croatian
baby whose mother is in the glass works, and Grant only shook his head."
The father looked at his daughter over his glasses and asked:

"Croatians, eh? That's what the new colony is down in Magnus. Well,
we've got Letts and Lithuanians and why not Croatians? What a mix we
have here in the Valley! I wouldn't wash 'em for 'em!"

"Well, father, I would. And when you get the dirt off they're mostly
just folks--just Indiany, as you call it. They all take my flower seeds.
And they all love bright colors in their windows. And they are spreading
the glow of blooms across the district, just as well as the Germans and
the French and the Belgians and the Irish. And they are here for exactly
the same thing which we are here for, father. We're all in the same
game."

He looked at her blankly, and ventured, "Money?"

"No--you stupid. You know better. It's children. They're here for their
children--to lift their children out of poverty. It's the children who
carry the banner of civilization, the hope of progress, the real
sunrise. These people are all confused and more or less dumb and loggy
about everything else in life but this one thing; they all hope greatly
for their children. For their children they joyfully endure the
hardships of poverty; the injustice of it; to live here in these
conditions that seem to us awful, and to work terrible hours that their
children may rise out of the worse condition that they left in Europe.
And they have left Europe, father, spiritually as well as physically.
Here they are reborn into America. The first generation may seem
foreign, may hold foreign ways--on the outside. But these American born
boys and girls, they are American--as much as we are, with all their
foreign names. They are of our spirit. When America calls they will hear
and follow. Whatever blood they will shed will be real American blood,
because as children, born under the same aspiring genius for freedom
under which we were born, as children they became Americans. Oh, father,
it's for the children that these people here in Harvey--these exploited
people everywhere in this country,--plant the flowers and brighten up
their homes. It's for their children that they are going with Grant to
organize for better things. The fire of life runs ahead of us in hope
for our children, and if we haven't children or the love of them in our
hearts--why, father, that's what's eating Tom's heart out, and blasting
this miserable woman's life! Grant said to-day: 'This baby here
symbolizes all that I stand for, all that I hope to do, all that the
race dreams!"

The Doctor had lighted his pipe, and was puffing meditatively. He liked
to hear his daughter talk. He took little stock in what she said. But
when she asked him for help--he gave it to her unstinted, but often with
a large, tolerant disbelief in the wisdom of her request. As she paused
he turned to her quickly, "Laura--tell me, what do you make out of
Grant?"

He eyed her sharply as she replied: "Father, Grant is a lonely soul
without chick or child, and I'm sorry for him. He goes--"

"Well, now, Laura," piped the little man, "don't be too sorry. Sorrow is
a dangerous emotion."

The daughter turned her face to her father frankly and said: "I realize
that, father. Don't concern yourself about that. But I see Grant some
way, eating the locusts and wild honey in the wilderness, calling out to
a stiff-necked generation to repent. His eyes are focussed on to-morrow.
He expects an immediate millennium. But he is at least looking forward,
not back. And the world back of us is so full of change, that I am sure
the world before us also must be full of change, and maybe sometime we
shall arrive at Grant's goal. He's not working for himself, either in
fame or in power, or in any personal thing. He's just following the
light as it is given him to see it, here among the poor."

The daughter lifted a face full of enthusiasm to her father. He puffed
in silence. "Well, my dear, that's a fine speech. But when I asked you
about Grant I was rising to a sort of question of personal privilege. I
thought perhaps I would mix around at his meeting to-night! If you think
I should, just kind of stand around to give him countenance--and," he
chuckled and squeaked: "To bundle up a few votes!"

"Do, father--do--you must!"

"Well," squeaked the little voice, "so long as I must I'm glad to know
that Tom made it easy for me, by turning all of Harvey and the Valley
over to Grant at the riot last night. Why, if Tom tried to stop Grant's
meeting to-night Market Street itself would mob Tom--mob the very Temple
of Love." The Doctor chuckled and returned to his own affairs. "Being on
the winning side isn't really important. But it's like carrying a potato
in your pocket for rheumatism: it gives a feller confidence. And after
all, the devil's rich and God's poor have all got votes. And votes
count!" He grinned and revived his pipe.

He was about to speak again when Laura interrupted him, "Oh,
father--they're not God's poor, whose ever they are. Don't say that.
They're Daniel Sands's poor, and the Smelter Trust's poor, and the Coal
Trust's poor, and the Glass and Cement and Steel company's poor. I've
learned that down here. Why, if the employers would only treat the
workers as fairly as they treat the machines, keeping them fit, and
modern and bright, God would have no poor!"

The Doctor rose and stretched and smiled indulgently at his daughter.
"Heigh-ho the green holly," he droned. "Well, have it your way. God's
poor or Dan's poor, they're my votes, if I can get 'em. So we'll come to
the meeting to-night and blow a few mouthfuls on the fires of
revolution, for the good of the order!"

He would have gone, but his daughter begged him to stay and dine with
her in South Harvey, before they went to the meeting. So for an hour the
Doctor sat in his daughter's office by the window, sometimes giving
attention to the drab flood of humanity passing along the street as the
shifts changed for evening in the mines and smelters, and then listening
to the day's stragglers who came and went through his daughter's office:
A father for medicine for a child, a mother for advice, a breaker boy
for a book, a little girl from the glass works for a bright bit of
sewing upon which she was working, a woman from Violet Hogan's room with
a heartbreak in her problem, a group of women from little Italy with a
complaint about a disorderly neighbor in their tenement, a cripple from
the mines to talk over his career, whether it should be pencils or shoe
strings, or a hand organ, or some attempt at handicraft; the head of a
local labor union paying some pittance to Laura, voted by the men to
help her with her work; a shy foreign woman with a badly spelled note
from her neighbor, asking for flower seeds and directions translated by
Laura into the woman's own language telling how to plant the seeds; a
belated working mother calling for the last little tot in the nursery
and explaining her delay. Laura heard them all and so far as she could,
she served them all. The Doctor was vastly proud of the effective way in
which she dispatched her work.

It was six o'clock, but the summer sun still was high and the traffic in
the street was thick. For a time, while a woman with a child with
shriveled legs was talking to Laura about the child's education, the
Doctor sat gazing into the street. When the room was empty, he
exclaimed, "It's a long weary way from the sunshine and prairie grass,
child! How it all has changed with the years! Ten years ago I knew 'em
all, the men and the employers. Now they are all newcomers--men and
masters. Why, I don't even know their nationalities; I don't even know
what part of the earth they come from. And such sad-faced droves of
them; so many little scamps, underfed, badly housed for generations. The
big, strapping Irish and Germans and Scotch and the wide-chested little
Welshmen, and the agile French--how few of them there are compared with
this slow-moving horde of runts from God knows where! It's been a long
time since I've been down here to see a shift change, Laura. Lord--Lord
have mercy on these people--for no one else seems to care!"

"Amen, and Amen, father," answered the daughter. "These are the people
that Grant is trying to stir to consciousness. These are the people
who--"

"Well, yes," he turned a sardonic look upon his daughter, "they're the
boys who voted against me the last time because Tom and Dan hired a man
in every precinct to spread the story that I was a teetotaler, and that
your mother gave a party on Good Friday--and all because Tom and Dan
were mad at me for pushing that workingmen's compensation bill! But now
I look at 'em--I don't blame 'em! What do they know about workingmen's
compensation!" The Doctor stopped and chuckled; then he burst out: "I
tell you, Laura, when a man gets enough sense to stand by his
friends--he no longer needs friends. When these people get wise enough
not to be fooled by Tom and old Dan, they won't need Grant! In the
meantime--just look at 'em--look at 'em paying twice as much for rent as
they pay up town: gouged at the company stores down here for their food
and clothing; held up by loan sharks when they borrow money; doped with
aloes in their beer, and fusil oil in their whiskey, wrapped up in
shoddy clothes and paper shoes, having their pockets picked by weighing
frauds at the mines, and their bodies mashed in speed-up devices in the
mills; stabled in filthy shacks without water or sewers or electricity
which we uptown people demand and get for the same money that they pay
for these hog-pens--why, hell's afire and the cows are out--Laura! by
Godfrey's diamonds, if I lived down here I'd get me some frisky dynamite
and blow the whole place into kindling." He sat blinking his
indignation; then began to smile. "Instead of which," he squeaked, "I
shall endeavor by my winning ways to get their votes." He waved a gay
hand and added, "And with God be the rest!"

Towering above a group of workers from the South of Europe--a delegation
from the new wire mill in Plain Valley, Grant Adams came swinging down
the street, a Gulliver among his Lilliputians. Although it was not even
twilight, it was evident to the Doctor that something more than the
changing shifts in the mills was thickening the crowds in the street.
Little groups were forming at the corners, good-natured groups who
seemed to know that they were not to be molested. And the Doctor at his
window watched Grant passing group after group, receiving its
unconscious homage; just a look, or a waving hand, or an affectionate,
half-abashed little cheer, or the turning of a group of heads all one
way to catch Grant's eyes as he passed.

At the Captain's vacant lot, Grant rose before a cheering throng that
filled the lot, and overflowed the sidewalk and crowded far down the
street. Two flickering torches flared at his head. An electric in front
of the Hot Dog and a big arc-light over the door of the smelter lighted
the upturned faces of the multitude. When the crowd had ceased cheering,
Grant, looking into as many eyes of his hearers as he could catch,
began:

"I have come to talk to Esau--the disinherited--to Esau who has
forfeited his birthright. I am here to speak to those who are toiling in
the world's rough work unrequited--I am here, one of the poor to talk to
the poor."

His voice held back so much of his strength, his gaunt, awkward figure
under the uncertain torches, his wide, impassioned gestures, with the
carpenter's nail claw always before his hearers, made him a strange kind
of specter in the night. Yet the simplicity of his manner and the
directness of his appeal went to the hearts of his hearers. The first
part of his message was one of peace. He told the workers that every
inch they gained they lost when they tried to overcome cunning with
force. "The dynamiter tears the ground from under labor--not from under
capital; he strengthens capital," said Grant. "Every time I hear of a
bomb exploding in a strike, or of a scab being killed I think of the
long, hard march back that organized labor must make to retrieve its
lost ground. And then," he cried passionately, and the mad fanatic glare
lighted his face, "my soul revolts at the iniquity of those who, by
craft and cunning while we work, teach us the false doctrine of the
strength of force, and then when we use what they have taught us, point
us out in scorn as lawbreakers. Whether they pay cash to the man who
touched the fuse or fired the gun or whether they merely taught us to
use bombs and guns by the example of their own lawlessness, theirs is
the sin, and ours the punishment. Esau still has lost his
birthright--still is disinherited."

He spoke for a time upon the aims of organization, and set forth the
doctrine of class solidarity. He told labor that in its ranks altruism,
neighborly kindness that is the surest basis of progress, has a thousand
disintegrated expressions. "The kindness of the poor to the poor, if
expressed in terms of money, would pay the National debt over night," he
said, and, letting out his voice, and releasing his strength, he begged
the men and women who work and sweat at their work to give that altruism
some form and direction, to put it into harness--to form it into ranks,
drilled for usefulness. Then he spoke of the day when class
consciousness would not be needed, when the unions would have served
their mission, when the class wrong that makes the class suffering and
thus marks the class line, would disappear just as they have disappeared
in the classes that have risen during the last two centuries.

"Oh, Esau," he cried in the voice that men called insane because of its
intensity, "your birthright is not gone. It lies in your own heart.
Quicken your heart with love--and no matter what you have lost, nor what
you have mourned in despair, in so much as you love shall it all be
restored to you."

They did not cheer as he talked. But they stood leaning forward intently
listening. Some of his hearers had expected to hear class hatred
preached. Others were expecting to hear the man lash his enemies and
many had assumed that he would denounce those who had committed the
mistakes of the night before. Instead of giving his hearers these
things, he preached a gospel of peace and love and hope. His hearers did
not understand that the maimed, lean, red-faced man before them was
dipping deeply into their souls and that they were considering many
things which they had not questioned before.

When he plunged into the practical part of his speech, an explanation of
the allied unions of the Valley, he told in detail something of the ten
years' struggle to bring all the unions together under one industrial
council in the Wahoo Valley, and listed something of the strength of the
organization. He declared that the time had come for the organization to
make a public fight for recognition; that organization in secret and
under cover was no longer honorable. "The employers are frankly and
publicly allied," said Grant. "They have their meetings to talk over
matters of common interest. Why should not the unions do the same thing?
The smelter men, the teamsters, the miners, the carpenters, the steel
workers, the painters, the glass workers, the printers--all the
organized men and women in this district have the same common interests
that their employers have, and we should in no wise be ashamed of our
organization. This meeting is held to proclaim our pride in the common
ground upon which organized labor stands with organized capital in the
Wahoo Valley."

He called the rolls of the unions in the trades council and for an hour
men stood and responded and reported conditions among workers in their
respective trades. It was an impressive roll call. After their
organization had been completed, a great roar of pride rose and Grant
Adams threw out his steel claw and leaning forward cried:

"We have come to bring brotherhood into this earth. For in the union
every man sacrifices something to the common good; mutual help means
mutual sacrifice, and self-denial is brotherly love. Fraternity and
democracy are synonymous. We must rise together by self-help. I know how
easy it is for the rich man to become poor. I know that often the poor
man becomes rich. But when Esau throws off the yoke of Jacob, when the
poor shall rise and come into their own, the rise shall not be as
individuals, but as a class. The glass workers are better paid than the
teamsters; but their interests are common, and the better paid workers
cannot rise except their poorly paid fellow workmen rise with them. It
is a class problem and it must have a class solution."

Grant Adams stood staring at the crowd. Then he spread out his two gaunt
arms and closed his eyes and cried: "Oh, Esau, Esau, you were faint and
hungry in that elder day when you drank the red pottage and sold your
birthright. But did you know when you bartered it away, that in that
bargain went your children's souls? Down here in the Valley, five babies
die in infancy where one dies up there on the hill. Ninety per cent. of
the boys in jail come from the homes in the Valley and ten per cent.
from the homes on the hill. And the girls who go out in the night, never
to come home--poor girls always. Crime and shame and death were in that
red pottage, and its bitterness still burns our hearts. And why--why in
the name of our loving Christ who knew the wicked bargain Jacob
made--why is our birthright gone? Why does Esau still serve his brother
unrequited?" Then he opened his eyes and cried stridently--"I'll tell
you why. The poor are poor because the rich are rich. We have been
working a decade and a half in this Valley, and profits, not new
capital, have developed it. Profits that should have been divided with
labor in wages have gone to buy new machines--miles and miles of new
machines have come here, bought and paid for with the money that labor
earned, and because we have not the machines which our labor has bought,
we are poor--we are working long hours amid squalor surrounded with
death and crime and shame. Oh, Esau, Esau, what a pottage it was that
you drank in the elder day! Oh, Jacob, Jacob, wrestle, wrestle with thy
conscience; wrestle with thy accusing Lord; wrestle, Jacob, wrestle, for
the day is breaking and we will not let thee go! How long, O Lord, how
long will you hold us to that cruel bargain!"

He paused as one looking for an answer--hesitant, eager, expectant. Then
he drew a long breath, turned slowly and sadly and walked away.

No cheer followed him. The crowd was stirred too deeply for cheers. But
the seed he had sown quickened in a thousand hearts even if in some
hearts it fell among thorns, even if in some it fell upon stony ground.
The sower had gone forth to sow.



CHAPTER XXXIX

BEING NO CHAPTER AT ALL BUT AN INTERMEZZO BEFORE THE LAST MOVEMENT


The stage is dark. In the dim distance something is moving. It is a
world hurrying through space. Somewhat in the foreground but enveloped
in the murk sit three figures. They are tending a vast loom. Its myriad
threads run through illimitable space and the woof of the loom is time.
The three figures weaving through the dark do not know whence comes the
power that moves the loom eternally. They have not asked. They work in
the pitch of night.

From afar in the earth comes a voice--high-keyed and gentle:

A Voice, _pianissimo_:

"This business of governing a sovereign people is losing its savor. I
must be getting some kind of spiritual necrosis. Generally speaking,
about all the real pleasure a grand llama of politics finds in life, is
in counting his ingrates--his governors and senators and congressmen!
Why, George, it's been nearly ten years since I've cussed out a senator
or a governor, yet I read Browning with joy and the last time I heard
Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, I went stark mad. But woe is me, George! Woe
is me. When the Judge and Dan Sands named the postmaster last month
without consulting me, I didn't care. I tell you, George, I must be
getting old!"

Second Voice, _fortissimo_:

"No, Doc--you're not getting old--why, you're not sixty--a mere spring
chicken yet--and Dan Sands is seventy-five if he's a day. What's the
matter with you in this here Zeitgeist that Carlyle talks about! It's
this restless little time spirit that's the matter with you. You're all
broke out and sick abed with the Zeitgeist. You've got no more necrosis
than a Belgian hare's got paresis--I'm right here to tell you and my
diagnosis goes."

Third Voice, _adagio_:

"James, my guides say that we're beginning a great movement from the few
to the many. That is their expression. Cromwell thinks it means economic
changes; but I was talking with Jefferson the other night and he says
no--it means political changes in order to get economic. He says Tilden
tells him--"

The Second Voice, _fortissimo_:

"Who cares what Tilden says! My noodle tells me that there's to be a big
do in this world, and my control tinkles the cash register, pops into
the profit account, eats up ten cent magazines, and gets away with five
feet of literary dynamite fuse every week. I'm that old Commodore Noah
that's telling you to get out your rubbers for the flood."

The First Voice, _andante con expression_:

"It's a queer world--a mighty queer world. Here's Laura's kindergarten
growing until it joins with Violet Hogan's day nursery and Laura's
flower seeds splashing color out of God's sunshine in front yards clear
down to Plain Valley. Money coming in about as they need it. Dan Sands
and Morty, Wright and Perry and the Dago saloon keeper, Joe Calvin, John
Dexter and the gamblers--all the robbers, high and low, dividing their
booty. With all the prosperity we are having, with all the opening of
mills and factories--it's getting easier to make money and consequently
harder to respect it. The more money there is, the less it buys, and
that is true in public sentiment just as it is in groceries and
furniture. Do you fellows realize that it's been ten years since the
_Times_ has run any of those 'Pen Portraits of Self-Made Men'?" A
silence, then the voice continues:

"George, I honestly believe, if money keeps getting crowded farther and
farther into the background of life--we'll develop an honest politician.
We know that to give a bribe is just as bad as to take one. Think of the
men debauched with money disguised as campaign expenses, or with offices
or with franks and passes and pull and power! Think of all the bad
government fostered, all the injustices legalized, just to win a sordid
game! The best I can do now is to cry, 'Lord have mercy on me, a sinner!
The harlot and the thief are my betters.'"

The _voices_ cease. The earth whirls on. The brooding spirits at
the loom muse in silence, for they need no voices.

The First Fate: "The birds! The birds! I seemed to hear the
night birds twittering to bring in the dawn."

The Second Fate: "The birds do not bring in the dawn. The dawn
comes."

The First Fate: "But always and always before the day, we hear
these voices."

The Third Fate: "World after world threads its time through our
loom. We watch the pattern grow. Days and eras and ages pass. We know
nothing of meanings. We only weave. We know that the pattern brightens
as new days come and always voices in the dark tell us of the changing
pattern of a new day."

The First Fate: "But the birds--the birds! I seem to hear the
night birds' voices that make the dawn."

The Second Fate: "They are not birds calling, but the whistle
of shot and shell and the shrill, far cries of man in air. But still I
say the dawn comes, the voices do not bring it."

The Third Fate: "We do not know how the awakening voices in the
dark know that the light is coming. We do not know what power moves the
loom. We do not know who dreams the pattern. We only weave and muse and
listen for the voices of change as a world threads its events through
the woof of time on our loom."

                   *       *       *       *       *

The stage is dark. The weavers weave time into circumstances and in the
blackness the world moves on. Slowly it grays. A thousand voices rise.
Then circumstance begins to run brightly on the loom, and a million
voices join in the din of the dawn. The loom goes. The weavers fade. The
light in the world pales the thread of time and the whirl of the earth
no longer is seen. But instead we see only a town. Half of it shines in
the morning sun--half of it hides in the smoke. In the sun on the street
is a man.



CHAPTER XL

HERE WE HAVE THE FELLOW AND THE GIRL BEGINNING TO PREPARE FOR THE LAST
CHAPTER


A tall, spare, middle-aged person was Thomas Van Dorn in the latter
years of the first decade of the twentieth century; tall and spare and
tight-skinned. The youthful olive texture of the skin was worn off and
had been replaced by a leathery finish--rather reddish brown in color.
The slight squint of his eyes was due somewhat to the little puffs under
them, and a suspicious, crafty air had grown into the full orbs, which
once glowed with emotion, when the younger man mounted in his oratorical
flights. His hands were gloved to match his exactly formal clothes, and
his hat--a top-hat when Judge Van Dorn was in the East, and a sawed-off
compromise with the local prejudice against top-hats when he was in
Harvey--was always in the latest mode. Often the hat was made to match
his clothes. He had become rigorous in his taste in neckties and only
grays and blacks and browns adorned the almost monkish severity of his
garb. Harsh, vertical lines had begun to appear at the sides of the
sensuous mouth, and horizontal lines--perhaps of hurt pride and
shame--were pressed into his wide, handsome forehead and the zigzag scar
was set white in a reddening field.

All these things a photograph would show. But there was that about his
carriage, about his mien, about the personality that emerged from all
these things which the photograph would not show. For to the eyes of
those who had known him in the flush of his youth, something--perhaps it
was time, perhaps the burden of the years--seemed to be sapping him,
seemed to be drying him out, fruitless, pod-laden, dry and listless,
with a bleached soul, naked to the winds that blow across the world. The
myriad criss-crosses of minute red veins that marked his cheek often
were wet with water from the eyes that used to glow out of a very
volcano of a personality behind them. But after many hours of charging
up and down the earth in his great noisy motor, red rims began to form
about the watery eyes and they peered furtively and savagely at the
world, like wolves from a falling temple.

As he stood by the fire in Mr. Brotherton's sanctuary, holding his
_Harper's Weekly_ in his hand, and glancing idly over the new books
carelessly arranged on the level of the eye upon the wide oak mantel,
the Judge came to be conscious of the presence of Amos Adams on a settee
near by.

"How do you do, sir?" The habit of speaking to every one persisted, but
the suave manner was affected, and the voice was mechanical. The old man
looked up from his book--one of Professor Hyslop's volumes, and
answered, "Why, hello, Tom--how are you?" and ducked back to his
browsing.

"That son of yours doesn't seem to have set the Wahoo afire with his
unions in the last two or three years, does he?" said Van Dorn. He could
not resist taking this poke at the old man, who replied without looking
up:

"Probably not."

Then fearing that he might have been curt the old man lifted his eyes
from his book and looking kindly over his glasses continued: "The Wahoo
isn't ablaze, Tom, but you know as well as I that the wage scale has
been raised twice in the mines, and once in the glass factory and once
in the smelter in the past three years without strikes--and that's what
Grant is trying to do. More than that, every concern in the Valley now
recognizes the union in conferring with the men about work conditions.
That's something--that's worth all his time for three years or so, if he
had done nothing else."

"Well, what else has he done?" asked Van Dorn quickly.

"Well, Tom, for one thing the men are getting class conscious, and in a
strike that will be a strong cement to make them stick."

Van Dorn's neck reddened, as he replied: "Yes--the damn
anarchists--class consciousness is what undermines patriotism."

"And patriotism," replied the old man, thumbing the lapel of his coat
that held his loyal legion button, "patriotism is the last resort--of
plutocrats!"

He laughed good-naturedly and silently. Then he rose and said as he
started to go:

"Well, Tom,--we won't quarrel over a little thing like our beloved
country. Why, Lila--" the old man looked up and saw the girl, "bless my
eyes, child, how you do grow, and how pretty you look in your new
ginghams--just like your mother, twenty years ago!" Amos Adams was
talking to a shy young girl--blue-eyed and brown-haired, who was walking
out of the store after buying a bottle of ink of Miss Calvin. Lila spoke
to the old man and would have gone with him, but for the booming voice
of Mr. Brotherton, the gray-clad benedict, who looked not unlike the
huge, pot-bellied gray jars which adorned "the sweet serenity of books
and wall paper."

Mr. Brotherton had glanced up from his ledger at Amos Adams's mention of
Lila's name. Coming forward, he saw her in her new dress, a bright
gingham dress that reached so nearly to her shoe tops that Mr.
Brotherton cried: "Well, look who's here--if it isn't Miss Van Dorn! And
a great pleasure it is to see and know you, Miss Van Dorn."

He repeated the name two or three times gently, while Lila smiled in shy
appreciation of Mr. Brotherton's ambushed joke. Her father, standing by
a squash-necked lavender jug in the "serenity," did not entirely grasp
Mr. Brotherton's point. But while the father was groping for it, Mr.
Brotherton went on:

"Miss Van Dorn, once I had a dear friend--such a dear little friend
named Lila. Perhaps you may see her sometimes? Maybe sometimes at night
she comes to see you--maybe she peeps in when you are alone and asks to
play. Well, say--Lila," called Mr. Brotherton as gently as a fog horn
tooting a nocturne, "if she ever comes, if you ever see her, will you
give her my love? It would be highly improper for a married gentleman
with asthmatic tendencies and too much waistband to send his love or
anything like it to Miss Van Dorn; it would surely cause comment. But if
Lila ever comes, Miss Van Dorn," frolicked the elephant, "give her my
love and tell her that often here in the serenity, I shut my eyes and
see her playing out on Elm Street, a teenty, weenty girl--with blue hair
and curly eyes--or maybe it was the other way around," Mr. Brotherton
heaved a prodigious sigh and waved a weary, fat hand--"and here, my
lords and gentlemen, is Miss Van Dorn with her dresses down to her shoe
tops!"

The girl was smiling and blushing, sheepishly and happily, while Mr.
Brotherton was mentally calculating that he would be in his middle
fifties before a possible little girl of his might be putting on her
first long dresses. It saddened him a little, and he turned, rather
subdued, and called into the alcove to the Judge and said:

"Tom, this is our friend, Miss Van Dorn--I was just sending a message by
her to a dear--a very dear friend I used to have, named Lila, who is
gone. Miss Van Dorn knows Lila, and sees her sometimes. So now that you
are here, I'm going to send this to Lila," he raised the girl's hand to
his lips and awkwardly kissed it, as he said clumsily, "well, say, my
dear--will you see that Lila gets that?"

Her father stepped toward the embarrassed girl and spoke:

"Lila--Lila--can't you come here a moment, dear?"

He was standing by the smoldering fire, brushing a rolled newspaper
against his leg. Something within him--perhaps Mr. Brotherton's awkward
kiss stirred it--was trying to soften the proud, hard face that was
losing the mobility which once had been its charm. He held out a hand,
and leaned toward the girl. She stepped toward him and asked, "What is
it?"

An awkward pause followed, which the man broke with, "Well--nothing in
particular, child; only I thought maybe you'd like--well, tell me how
are you getting along in High School, little girl."

"Oh, very well; I believe," she answered, but did not lift her eyes to
his. Mr. Brotherton moved back to his desk. Again there was silence. The
girl did not move away, though the father feared through every painful
second that she would. Finally he said: "I hear your mother is getting
on famously down in South Harvey. Our people down there say she is doing
wonders with her cooking club for girls."

Lila smiled and answered: "She'll be glad to know it, I'm sure." Again
she paused, and waited.

"Lila," he cried, "won't you let me help you--do something for you?--I
wish so much--so much to fill a father's place with you, my dear--so
much."

He stepped toward her, felt for her hand, but could not find it. She
looked up at him, and in her eyes there rose the old cloud of sadness
that came only once in a long time. It was a puzzled face that he saw
looking steadily into his.

"I don't know what you could do," she answered simply.

Something about the pathetic loneliness of his unfathered child,
evidenced by the sadness that flitted across her face, touched a remote,
unsullied part of his nature, and moved him to say:

"Oh, Lila--Lila--Lila--I need you--I need you--God knows, dear, how I do
need you. Won't you come to me sometimes? Won't your mother ever
relent--won't she? If she knew, she would be kind. Oh, Lila, Lila," he
called as the two stood together there in the twilight with the glow of
the coals in the fireplace upon them, "Lila, won't you let me take you
home even--in my car? Surely your mother wouldn't care for that, would
she?"

The girl looked into the fire and answered, "No," and shook her head.
"No--mother would be pleased, I think. She has always told me to be kind
to you--to be respectful to you, sir. I've tried to be, sir?"

Her voice rose in a question. He answered by taking her arm and
pleading, "Oh, come--won't you let me take you home in my car,
Lila--it's getting late--won't you, Lila?"

But the girl turned away; he let her arm drop. She answered, shaking her
head:

"I think, sir, if you don't mind--I'd rather walk."

In another second she was gone. Her father leaned against the mantel and
the dying coals warmed tears in his hungry, furtive eyes, and his face
twitched for a moment before he turned, and walked with some show of
pride to his grand car. Half an hour later he was driving homeward,
looking neither to the right nor to the left, when his ear caught the
word, "Lila," in a girlish treble near him. He looked up to see a young
miss--a Calvin young miss, in fact--running and waving her hands toward
a group of boys and girls in their middle teens and late teens, trooping
up the hill along the sidewalk. They were neighborhood children, and
Lila seemed to be the center of the circle. He slowed down his car to
watch them. Near Lila was Kenyon Adams, a tall, beautiful youth, fiddle
box in hand, but still a boy even though he was twenty. Other boys
played about the group and through it, but none was so striking as
Kenyon, tall, lithe, with a beautifully poised head of crinkly chestnut
hair, who strode gayly among the youths and maidens and yet was not
quite of them. Even the Judge could see that Kenyon did not exactly
belong--that he was rare and exotic. But as her father's car crept
unnoticed past the group, he could see that Lila belonged. She was in no
way exotic among the Calvins and Kollanders and the Wrights, and the
children of the neighbors in Elm Street. Lila's clear, merry laugh--a
laugh that rang like an old bell through Tom Van Dorn's heart--rose
above the adolescent din of the group and to the father seemed to be the
dominant note in the hilarious cadenza of young life. It struck him that
they were like fireflies, glowing and darting and disappearing and
weaving about.

And fireflies indeed they were. For in them the fires of life were just
beginning to sparkle. Slowly the great bat of a car moved up past them,
then darted around the block like the blind creature that it was, and
whirling its awkward circle came swooping up again to the glowing,
animated stars that held him in a deadly fascination. For those
twinkling, human stars playing like fireflies in exquisite joy at the
first faint kindling in their hearts of the fires that flame forever in
the torch of life, might well have held in their spell a stronger man
than Thomas Van Dorn. For the first evanescent fires of youth are the
most sacred fires in the world. And well might the great, black bat of a
car circle again and again and even again around and come always back to
the beautiful light.

But Thomas Van Dorn came back not happily but in sad unrest. It was as
though the black bat carried captive on its back a weary pilgrim from
the Primrose Hunt, jaded and spent and dour, who saw in the sacred fires
what he had cast away, what he had deemed worthless and of a sudden had
seen in its true beauty and in its real value. Once again as the
fireflies played their ceaseless game with the ever flickering glow of
youth shining through eyes and cheeks from their hearts, the great bat
carrying its captive swooped around them--and then out into the darkness
of his own charred world.

But the fireflies in the gay spring twilight kept darting and
criss-crossing and frolicking up the walk. One by one, each swiftly or
lazily disappeared from the maze, and at last only two, Kenyon and Lila,
went weaving up the lawn toward the steps of the Nesbit house.

It had been one of those warm days when spring is just coming into the
world. All day the boy had been roaming the wide prairies. The voices of
the wind in the brown grass and in the bare trees by the creek had found
their way into his soul. A curious soul it was--the soul of a poet, the
soul of one who felt infinitely more than he knew--the soul of a man in
the body of a callow youth.

As he and Lila walked up the hill, all the dreams that had swept across
him out in the fields came to him. They sat on the south steps of the
Nesbit house watching the spring that was trying to blossom in the pink
and golden sunset. The girl was beginning to look at the world through
new, strange eyes, and out on the hills that day the boy also had felt
the thrill of a new heaven and a new earth.

Their talk was finite and far short of the vision of warm, radiant
life-stuff flowing through the universe that had thrilled Kenyon in the
hills. Out there, looking eastward over the prairies checked in brown
earth, and green wheat, and old grass faded from russet to lavender,
with the gray woods worming their way through the valleys, he had found
voice and had crooned melodies that came out of the wind and sun, and
satisfied his soul. Over and over he had repeated in various cadences
the words:

"I will lift up mine eyes to the hills, whence cometh my help."

And he had seemed to be forming a great heart-filling anthem. It was all
on his tongue's tip, with the answering chorus coming from out of some
vast mystery, "Behold, thou art fair, my love--behold, thou art
fair--thou hast dove's eyes." There in the sunshine upon the prairie
grass it was as real and vital a part of his soul's aspiration as though
it had been reiterated in some glad symphony. But as he sat in the
sunset trying to put into his voice the language that stirred his heart,
he could only drum upon a box and look at the girl's blue eyes and her
rosebud of a face and utter the copper coins of language for the golden
yearning of his soul. She answered, thrilled by the radiance of his
eyes:

"Isn't the young spring beautiful--don't you just love it, Kenyon? I
do."

He rose and stood out in the sun on the lawn. The girl got up. She was
abashed; and strangely self-conscious without reason, she began to
pirouette down the walk and dance back to him, with her blue eyes
fastened like a mystic sky-thread to his somber gaze. A thousand mute
messages of youth twinkled across that thread. Their eyes smiled. The
two stood together, and the youth kicked with his toes in the soft turf.

"Lila," he asked as he looked at the greening grass of spring, "what do
you suppose they mean when they say, 'I will lift up mine eyes to the
hills'? The line has been wiggling around in my head all morning as I
walked over the prairie, that and another that I can't make much of,
about, 'Behold, thou art fair, my love--behold, thou art fair.' Say,
Lila," he burst out, "do you sometimes have things just pop into your
head all fuzzy with--oh, well, say feeling good and you don't know why,
and you are just too happy to eat? I do."

He paused and looked into her bright, unformed face with the fleeting
cloud of sadness trailing its blind way across her heart.

"And say, Lila--why, this morning when I was out there all alone I just
sang at the top of my voice, I felt so bang-up dandy--and--I tell you
something--honest, I kept thinking of you all the time--you and the
hills and a dove's eyes. It just tasted good way down in me--you ever
feel that way?"

Again the girl danced her answer and sent the words she could not speak
through her eyes and his to his innermost consciousness.

"But honest, Lila--don't you ever feel that way--kind of creepy with
good feeling--tickledy and crawly, as though you'd swallowed a candy
caterpillar and was letting it go down slow--slow, slow, to get every
bit of it--say, honest, don't you? I do. It's just fine--out on the
prairie all alone with big bursting thoughts bumping you all the
time--gee!"

They were sitting on the steps when he finished and his heel was denting
the sod. She was entranced by what she saw in his eyes.

"Of course, Kenyon," she answered finally. "Girls are--oh, different, I
guess. I dream things like that, and sometimes mornings when I'm wiping
dishes I think 'em--and drop dishes--and whoopee! But I don't
know--girls are not so woozy and slazy inside them as boys. Kenyon, let
me tell you something: Girls pretend to be and aren't--not half; and
boys pretend they aren't and are--lots more."

She gazed up at him in an unblinking joy of adoration as shameless as
the heart of a violet baring itself to the sun. Then she shut her eyes
and the lad caught up his instrument and cried:

"Come on, Lila,--come in the house. I've got to play out
something--something I found out on the prairie to-day about 'mine eyes
unto the hills' and 'the eyes of the dove' and the woozy, fuzzy, happy,
creepy thoughts of you all the time."

He was inside the door with the violin in his hands. As she closed the
door he put his head down to the brown violin as if to hear it sing, and
whispered slowly:

"Oh, Lila--listen--just hear this."

And then it came! "The Spring Sun," it is known popularly. But in the
book of his collected music it appears as "Allegro in B." It is the
throb of joy of young life asking the unanswerable question of God: what
does it mean--this new, fair, wonderful world full of life and birth,
and joy; charged with mystery, enveloped in strange, unsolved grandeur,
like the cloud pictures that float and puzzle us and break and reform
and paint all Heaven in their beauty and then resolve themselves into
nothing. Many people think this is Kenyon Adams's most beautiful and
poetic message. Certainly in the expression of the gayety and the weird,
vague mysticism of youth and poignant joy he never reached that height
again. Death is ignored; it is all life and the aspirations of life and
the beckonings of life and the bantering of life and the deep, awful,
inexorable call of life to youth. Other messages of Kenyon Adams are
more profound, more comforting to the hearts and the minds of reasoning,
questioning men. But this Allegro in B is the song of youth, of early
youth, bidding childhood adieu and turning to life with shining
countenance and burning heart.

When he had finished playing he was in tears, and the girl sitting
before him was awestricken and rapt as she sat with upturned face with
the miracle of song thrilling her soul. Let us leave them there in that
first curious, unrealized signaling of soul to soul. And now let us go
on into this story, and remember these children, as children still, who
do not know that they have opened the great golden door into life!



CHAPTER XLI

HERE WE SEE GRANT ADAMS CONQUERING HIS THIRD AND LAST DEVIL


In the ebb and flow of life every generation sees its waves of altruism
washing in. But in the ebb of altruism in America that followed the
Civil War, Amos Adams's ship of dreams was left high and dry in the salt
marsh. Finally a time came when the tide began to boom in. But in no
substantial way did his newspaper feel the impulse of the current. The
_Tribune_ was an old hulk; it could not ride the tide. And its
skipper, seedy, broken with the years, always too gentle for the world
about him, even at his best, ever ready to stop work to read a book,
Amos Adams, who had been a crank for a third of a century, remained a
crank when much that he preached in earlier years was accepted by the
multitude.

Amos Adams might have made the Harvey _Tribune_ a financial success
if he could have brought himself to follow John Kollander's advice. But
Amos could not abide the presence much less the counsel of the
professional patriot, with his insistent blue uniform and brass buttons.
Under an elaborate pretense of independence, John Kollander was a
limber-kneed time-server, always keen-eyed for the crumbs of Dives'
table; odd jobs in receiverships, odd jobs in lawsuits for Daniel
Sands--as, for instance, furnishing unexpected witnesses to prove
improbable contentions--odd jobs in his church, odd jobs in his party
organization, always carrying a per diem and expenses; odd jobs for the
Commercial Club, where the pay was sure; odd jobs for Tom Van Dorn,
spreading slander by innuendo where it would do the most good for Tom in
his business; odd jobs for Tom and Dick and for Harry, but always for
the immediate use and benefit of John Kollander, his heirs and assigns.
But if Amos Adams ever thought of himself, it was by inadvertence. He
managed, Heaven only knows how, to keep the _Tribune_ going. Jasper
bought back from the man who foreclosed the mortgage, his father's
homestead. He rented it to his father for a dollar a year and
ostentatiously gave the dollar to the Lord--so ostentatiously, indeed,
that when Henry Fenn gayly referred to Amos, Grant and Jasper as Father,
Son and Holy Ghost, the town smiled at his impiety, but the holy Jasper
boarded at the Hotel Sands, was made a partner at Wright & Perry's, and
became a bank director at thirty. For Jasper was a Sands!

The day after Amos Adams and Tom Van Dorn had met in the Serenity of
Books and Wallpaper at Brotherton's, Grant was in the _Tribune_
office. "Grant," the father was getting down from his high stool to dump
his type on the galley; "Grant, I had a tiff with Tom Van Dorn
yesterday. Lord, Lord," cried the old man, as he bent over,
straightening some type that his nervous hand had knocked down. "I
wonder, Grant"--the father rose and put his hand on his back, as he
stood looking into his son's face--"I wonder if all that we feel, all
that we believe, all that we strive and live for--is a dream? Are we
chasing shadows? Isn't it wiser to conform, to think of ourselves first
and others afterward--to go with the current of life and not against it?
Of course, my guides--"

"Father," cried Grant, "I saw Tom Van Dorn yesterday, too, in his big
new car--and I don't need your guides to tell me who is moving with the
current and who is buffeting it. Oh, father, that hell-scorched
face--don't talk to me about his faith and mine!" The old man remounted
his printer's stool for another half-hour's work before dusk deepened,
and smiled as he pulled his steel spectacles over his clear old eyes.

One would fancy that a man whose face was as seamed and scarred with
time and struggle as Grant Adams's face, would have said nothing of the
hell-scorched face of Tom Van Dorn. Yet for all its lines, youth still
shone from Grant Adams's countenance. His wide, candid blue eyes were
still boyish, and a soul so eager with hope that it sometimes blazed
into a mad intolerance, gazed into the world from behind them. Even his
arm and claw became an animate hand when Grant waved them as he talked;
and his wide, pugnacious shoulders, his shock of nonconforming red hair,
his towering body, and his solid workman's legs, firm as oak
beams,--all,--claw, arms, shoulders, trunk and legs,--translated into
human understanding the rebel soul of Grant Adams.

Yet the rebellion of Grant Adams's soul was no new thing to the world.
He was treading the rough road that lies under the feet of all those who
try to divert their lives from the hard and wicked morals of their
times. For the kingdoms of this earth are organized for those who devote
themselves chiefly, though of course not wholly, to the consideration of
self. The world is still vastly egoistic in its balance. And the
unbroken struggle of progress from Abel to yesterday's reformer, has
been, is, and shall be the battle with the spirit that chains us to the
selfish, accepted order of the passing day. So Grant Adams's face was
battle scarred, but his soul, strong and exultant, burst through his
flesh and showed itself at many angles of his being. And a grim and
militant thing it looked. The flinty features of the man, his coarse
mouth, his indomitable blue eyes, his red poll, waving like a banner
above his challenging forehead, wrinkled and seamed and gashed with the
troubles of harsh circumstance, his great animal jaw at the base of the
spiritual tower of his countenance--all showed forth the warrior's soul,
the warrior of the rebellion that is as old as time and as new as
to-morrow.

Working with his hands for a bare livelihood, but sitting at his desk
four or five days in the week and speaking at night, month after month,
year after year, for nearly twenty years, without rest or change, had
taken much of the bounce of youth from his body. He knew how the money
from the accumulated dues was piling up in the Labor Union's war chest
in the valley. He had proved what a trade solidarity in an industrial
district could do for the men without strikes by its potential strength.
Black powder, which killed like the pestilence that stalketh in
darkness, was gone. Electric lights had superseded torches in the
runways of the mines. Bathhouses were found in all the shafts. In the
smelters the long, killing hours were abandoned and a score of safety
devices were introduced. But each gain for labor had come after a bitter
struggle with the employers. So the whole history of the Wahoo Valley
was written in the lines of his broken face.

The reformer with his iridescent dream of progress often hangs its
realization upon a single phase of change. Thus when Grant Adams
banished black powder from the district, he expected the whole phantasm
of dawn to usher in the perfect day for the miners. When he secured
electric lights in the runways and baths in the shaft house, he
confidently expected large things to follow. While large things
hesitated, he saw another need and hurried to it.

Thus it happened, that in the hurrying after a new need, Grant Adams had
always remained in his own district, except for a brief season when he
and Dr. Nesbit sallied forth in a State-wide campaign to defend the
Doctor's law to compel employers to pay workmen for industrial
accidents, as the employers replace broken machinery--a law which the
Doctor had pushed through the Legislature and which was before the
people for a referendum vote. When Grant went out of the Wahoo Valley
district he attracted curious crowds, crowds that came to see the queer
labor leader who won without strikes. And when the crowds came under
Grant's spell, he convinced them. For he felt intensely. He believed
that this law would right a whole train of incidental wrongs of labor.
So he threw himself into the fight with a crusader's ardor. Grant and
the Doctor journeyed over the State through July and August; and in
September the wily Doctor trapped Tom Van Dorn into a series of joint
debates with Grant that advertised the cause widely and well. From these
debates Grant Adams emerged a somebody in politics. For oratory, however
polished, and scholarship, however plausible, cannot stand before the
wrath of an indignant man in a righteous cause who can handle himself
and suppress his wrath upon the platform.

As the week of the debate dragged on and as the pageant of it trailed
clear across the State, with crowds hooting and cheering, Doctor
Nesbit's cup of joy ran over. And when Van Dorn failed to appear for the
Saturday meeting at the capital, the Doctor's happiness mounted to glee.

That night, long after the midnight which ended the day's triumph, Grant
and the Doctor were sitting on a baggage truck at a way station waiting
for a belated train. Grant was in the full current of his passion.
Personal triumph meant little to him--the cause everything. His heart
was afire with a lust to win. The Doctor kept looking at Grant with
curious eyes--appraising eyes, indeed--from time to time as the younger
man's interminable stream of talk of the Cause flowed on. But the Doctor
had his passion also. When it burst its bonds, he was saying: "Look
here, you crazy man--take a reef in your canvas picture of jocund day
upon the misty mountain tops--get down to grass roots." Grant turned an
exalted face upon the Doctor in astonishment. The Doctor went on:

"Grant, I can give the concert all right--but, young man, you are
selling the soap. That's a great argument you have been making this
week, Grant."

"There wasn't much to my argument, Doctor," answered Grant, absently,
"though it was a righteous cause. All I did was to make an appeal to the
pocketbooks of Market Street all over the State, showing the merchants
and farmers that the more the laboring man receives the more he will
spend, and if he is paid for his accidents he will buy more prunes and
calico; whereas, if he is not paid he will burden the taxes as a pauper.
Tom couldn't overcome that argument, but in the long run, our cause will
not be won permanently and definitely by the bread and butter and taxes
argument, except as that sort of argument proves the justice of our
cause and arouses love in the hearts of you middle-class people."

But Dr. Nesbit persisted with his figure. "Grant," he piped, "you
certainly can sell soap. Why don't you sell some soap on your own hook?
Why don't you let me run you for something--Congress--governor, or
something? We can win hands down."

Grant did not wait for the Doctor to finish, but cried in violent
protest: "No, no, no--Doctor--no, I must not do that. I tell you, man, I
must travel light and alone. I must go into life as naked as St.
Francis. The world is stirring as with a great spirit of change. The
last night I was at home, up stepped a little Belgian glassblower to me.
I'd never seen him before. I said, 'Hello, comrade!' He grasped my hands
with both hands and cried 'Comrade! So you know the password. It has
given me welcome and warmth and food in France, in England, in
Australia, and now here. Everywhere the workers are comrades!'
Everywhere the workers are comrades. Do you know what that means,
Doctor?"

The Doctor did not answer. His seventy years, and his habit of thinking
in terms of votes and parties and factions, made him sigh.

"Doctor," cried Grant, "electing men to office won't help. But this law
we are fighting for--this law will help. Doctor, I'm pinning the faith
of a decade of struggle on this law."

The Doctor broke the silence that followed Grant's declaration, to say:
"Grant, I don't see it your way. I feel that life must crystallize its
progress in institutions--political institutions, before progress is
safe. But you must work out your own life, my boy. Incidentally," he
piped, "I believe you are wrong. But after this campaign is over, I'm
going up to the capital for one last fling at making a United States
Senator. I've only a dozen little white chips in the great game, five in
the upper house and seven in the lower house. But we may deadlock it,
and if we do,--you'll see thirty years drop off my head and witness the
rejuvenation of Old Linen Pants."

Grant began walking the platform again under the stars like an impatient
ghost. The Doctor rose and followed him.

"Grant, now let me tell you something. I am half inclined at times to
think it's all moonshine--this labor law we're working to establish. But
Laura wants it, and God knows, Grant, she has little enough in her life
down there in the Valley. And if this law makes her happy--it's the
least I can do for her. She hasn't had what she should have had out of
life, so I'm trying to make her second choice worth while. That's why
I'm on the soap wagon with you!" He would have laughed away this serious
mood, but he could not.

Grant stared at the Doctor for a moment before answering: "Why, of
course, Dr. Nesbit, I've always known that.

"But--I--Doctor--I am consecrated to the cause. It is my reason for
living."

The day had passed in the elder's life when he could rise to the younger
man's emotions. He looked curiously at Grant and said softly:

"Oh, to be young--to be young--to be young!" He rose, touched the strong
arm beside him. "'And the young men shall see visions.' To be
young--just to be young! But 'the old men shall dream dreams.' Well,
Grant, they are unimportant--not entirely pleasant. We young men of the
seventies had a great material vision. The dream of an empire here in
the West. It has come true--increased one hundred fold. Yet it is not
much of a dream."

He let the arm drop and began drumming on the truck as he concluded:
"But it's all I have--all the dream I have now. 'All of which I saw, and
part of which I was,' yet," he mused, "perhaps it will be used as a
foundation upon which something real and beautiful will be builded."

Far away the headlight of their approaching train twinkled upon the
prairie horizon. The two men watched it glow into fire and come upon
them. And without resuming their talk, each went his own wide, weary way
in the world as they lay in adjoining berths on the speeding train.

At the general election the Doctor's law was upheld by a majority of the
votes in the State, but the Doctor himself was defeated for reëlection
to the State Senate in his own district. Grant Adams waited, intently
and with fine faith, for this law to bring in the millennium. But the
Doctor had no millennial faith.

He came down town the morning after his defeat, gay and unruffled. He
went toddling into the stores and offices of Market Street, clicking his
cane busily, thanking his friends and joking with his foes. But he
chirruped to Henry Fenn and Kyle Perry whom he found in the Serenity at
the close of the day: "Well, gentlemen, I've seen 'em all! I've taken my
medicine like a little man; but I won't lick the spoon. I sha'n't go and
see Dan and Tom. I'm willing to go as far as any man in the forgiving
and forgetting business, but the Lord himself hasn't quit on them. Look
at 'em. The devil's mortgage is recorded all over their faces and he's
getting about ready to foreclose on old Dan! And every time Dan hears
poor Morty cough, the devil collects his compound interest. Poor, dear,
gay Morty--if he could only put up a fight!"

But he could not put up a fight and his temperature rose in the
afternoon and he could not meet with his gymnasium class in South Harvey
in the evening, but sent a trainer instead. So often weeks passed during
which Laura Van Dorn did not see Morty and the daily boxes of flowers
that came punctiliously with his cards to the kindergarten and to Violet
Hogan's day nursery, were their only reminders of the sorry, lonely,
footless struggle Morty was making.

It was inevitable that the lives of Violet Hogan and Laura Van Dorn in
South Harvey should meet and merge. And when they met and merged, Violet
Hogan found herself devoting but a few hours a day to her day nursery,
while she worked six long, happy hours as a stenographer for Grant Adams
in his office at the Vanderbilt House. For, after all, it was as a
stenographer that she remembered herself in the grandeur and the glory
of her past. So Henry Fenn and Laura Van Dorn carried on the work that
Violet began, and for them souls and flowers and happiness bloomed over
the Valley in the dark, unwholesome places which death had all but taken
for his own.

It was that spring when Dr. Nesbit went to the capital and took his last
fling at State politics. For two months he had deadlocked his party
caucus in the election of a United States Senator with hardly more than
a dozen legislative votes. And he was going out of his dictatorship in a
golden glow of glory.

And this was the beginning of the golden age for Captain Morton. The
Morton-Perry Axle Works were thriving. Three eight-hour shifts kept the
little plant booming, and by agreement with the directors of the
Independent mine, Nathan Perry spent five hours a day in the works. He
and the Captain, and the youngest Miss Morton, who was keeping books,
believed that it would go over the line from loss to profit before grass
came. The Captain hovered about the plant like an earth-bound spirit day
and night, interrupting the work of the men, disorganizing the system
that Nathan had installed, and persuading himself that but for him the
furnaces would go dead and the works shut down.

It was one beautiful day in late March, after the November election
wherein the Doctor's law had won and the Doctor himself had lost, that
Grant Adams was in Harvey figuring with Mr. Brotherton on supplies for
his office. Captain Morton came tramping down the clouds before him as
he swept into the Serenity and jabbed a spike through the wheels of
commerce with the remark: "Well, George--what do you think of my
regalia--eh?"

Mr. Brotherton and Grant looked up from their work. They beheld the
Captain arrayed in a dazzling light gray spring suit--an exceedingly
light gray suit, with a hat of the same color and gloves and shoe spats
to match, with a red tie so red that it all but crackled. "First profits
of the business. We got over the line yesterday noon, and I had a
thousand to go on, and this morning I just went on this spree--what
say?"

"Well, Cap, when Morty Sands sees you he will die of envy. You're
certainly the lily of the Valley and the bright and morning star--the
fairest of ten thousand to my soul! Grant," said Brotherton as he turned
to his customer, "behold the plute!"

The Captain stood grinning in pride as the men looked him over.

"'Y gory, boys, you'd be surprised the way that Household Horse has hit
the trade. Orders coming in from automobile makers, and last week we
decided to give up making the little power saver and make the whole rear
axle. We're going to call it the Morton-Perry Axle, and put in a big
plant, and I was telling Ruthy this morning, I says, 'Ruth,' says I, 'if
we make the axle business go, I'll just telephone down to Wright & Perry
and have them send you out something nobby in husbands, and, 'y gory, a
nice thousand-mile wedding trip and maybe your pa will go along for
company--what say?'"

He was an odd figure in his clothes--for they were ready-made--made for
the figure of youth, and although he had been in them but a few hours,
the padding was bulging at the wrong places; and they were wrinkled
where they should be tight. His bony old figure stuck out at the knees,
and the shoulders and elbows, and the high collar would not fit his
skinny neck. But he was happy, and fancied he looked like the pictures
of college boys in the back of magazines. So he answered Mr.
Brotherton's question about the opinion of the younger daughter as to
the clothes by a profound wink.

"Scared--scared plumb stiff--what say? I caught Marthy nodding at Ruth
and Ruthy looking hard at Marthy, and then both of 'em went to the
kitchen to talk over calling up Emmy and putting out fly poison for the
women that are lying in wait for their pa. Scared--why, scared's no name
for it--what say?"

"Well, Captain," answered Mr. Brotherton, "you are certainly voluptuous
enough in your new stage setting to have your picture on a cigar box as
a Cuban beauty or a Spanish señorita."

The Captain was turning about, trying to see how the coat set in the
back and at the same time watching the hang of the trousers. Evidently
he was satisfied with it. For he said: "Well--guess I'll be going. I'll
just mosey down to Mrs. Herdicker's to give Emmy and Marthy and Ruthy
something to keep 'em from thinking of their real troubles--eh?" And
with a flourish he was gone.

When Grant's order was filled, he said, "Violet will call for this,
George; I have some other matters to attend to."

As he assembled the goods for the order, Mr. Brotherton called out,
"Well, how is Violet, anyway?" Grant smiled. "Violet is doing well. She
is blooming over again, and when she found herself before a
typewriter--it really seemed to take the curve out of her back. Henry
declares that the typewriter put ribbon in her hair. Laura Van Dorn, I
believe, is responsible for Violet's shirt waists. Henry Fenn comes to
the office twice a day, to make reports on the sewing business. But what
he's really doing, George, is to let her smell his breath to prove that
he's sober, and so she runs the two jobs at once. Have you seen Henry
recently?"

"Well," replied Brotherton, "he was in a month or so ago to borrow ten
to buy a coat--so that he could catch up with the trousers of that suit
before they grew too old. He still buys his clothes that way."

Grant threw back his red head and grinned a grim, silent grin: "Well,
that's funny. Didn't you know what is keeping him away?" Again Grant
grinned. "The day he was here he came wagging down with that ten-dollar
bill, but his conscience got the best of him for lavishing so much money
on himself, so he slipped it to Violet and told her to buy her some new
teeth--you know she's been ashamed to open her mouth now for years.
Violet promised she would get the teeth in time for Easter. And pretty
soon in walks Mrs. Maurice Stromsky--who scrubs in the Wright & Perry
Building, whose baby died last summer and had to be buried in the
Potter's field--she came in; and she and Violet got to talking about the
baby--and Violet up and gave that ten to Mrs. Stromsky, to get the baby
out of the Potter's field."

Mr. Brotherton laughed his great laugh. Grant went on:

"But that isn't all. The next day in walks Mrs. Maurice Stromsky,
penitent as a dog, and I heard her squaring herself with Violet for
giving that old saw-buck of yours to the Delaneys, whose second little
girl had diphtheria and who had no money for antitoxin. I never saw your
ten again, George," said Grant. "It seemed to be going down for the last
time." He looked at Brotherton quizzically for a second and asked:

"So old Henry hasn't been around since--isn't that joyous? Well--anyway,
he'll show up to-day or to-morrow, for he's got the new coat; he got it
this morning. Jasper was telling me."

In an hour Grant, returning after his morning's errands, was standing by
the puny little blaze that John Dexter had stirred out of the logs in
the Serenity. The two were standing together. Mr. Brotherton, reading
his Kansas City paper at his desk, called to them: "Well, I see Doc
Jim's still holding his deadlock and they can't elect a United States
Senator without him!"

A telegraph messenger boy came in, looked into the Serenity, and said,
"Mr. Adams, I was looking for you."

Grant signed the boy's book, read the telegram, and stood dumbly gazing
at the fire, as he held the sheet in his hand.

The fire popped and snapped and the little blaze grew stronger when a
log dropped in two. A customer came in--picked up a magazine--called,
"Charge it, please," then went out. The door slammed. Another customer
came and went. Miss Calvin stepped back to Mr. Brotherton. The bell of
the cash register tinkled. Then Grant Adams turned, looked at the
minister absently for a moment, and handed him the sheet. It read:

    "I have pledged in writing five more votes than are needed to
    make you the caucus nominee and give you a majority on the joint
    ballot to-night for United States Senator. Come up first train."

It was signed "James Nesbit." The preacher dropped his hand still
holding the yellow sheet, and looked into the fire.

"Well?" asked Grant.

"You say," returned John Dexter, and added: "It would be a great
opportunity--give you the greatest forum for your cause in
Christendom--give you more power than any other labor advocate ever held
in the world before."

He said all this tentatively and as one asking a question. Grant did not
reply. He sat pounding his leg with his claw, abstractedly.

"You needn't be a mere theorist in the Senate. You could get labor laws
enacted that would put forward the cause of labor. Grant, really, it
looks as though this was your life's chance."

Grant reached for the telegram and read it again. The telegram
fluttering in his hands dropped to the floor. He reached for it--picked
it up, folded it on his claw carefully, and put it away. Then he turned
to the preacher and said harshly:

"There's nothing in it. To begin: you say I'll have more power than any
other labor leader in the world. I tell you, labor leaders don't need
personal power. We don't need labor laws--that is, primarily. What we
need is sentiment--a public love of the under dog that will make our
present laws intolerable. It isn't power for me, it isn't clean politics
for the State, it isn't labor laws that's my job. My job, dearly
beloved," he hooked the minister's hand and tossed it gently, "my job,
oh, thou of little faith," he cried, as a flaming torch of emotion
seemed to brush his face and kindle the fanatic glow in his countenance
while his voice lifted, "is to stay right down here in the Wahoo Valley,
pile up money in the war chest, pile up class feeling among the
men--comradeship--harness this love of the poor for the poor into an
engine, and then some day slip the belt on that engine--turn on the
juice and pull and pull and pull for some simple, elemental piece of
justice that will show the world one phase of the truth about labor."

Grant's face was glowing with emotion. "I tell you, the day of the
Kingdom is here--only it isn't a kingdom, it's Democracy--the great
Democracy. It's coming. I must go out and meet it. In the dark down in
the mines I saw the Holy Ghost rise into the lives of a score of men.
And now I see the Holy Ghost coming into a great class. And I must
go--go with neither purse nor script to meet it, to live for it, and
maybe to die for it." He shook his head and cried vehemently:

"What a saphead I'd be if I fell to that bait!" He turned to the store
and called to Miss Calvin. "Ave--is there a telegraph blank in the
desk?"

Mr. Brotherton threw it, skidding, across the long counter. Grant
fumbled in his vest for a pen, held the sheet firmly with his claw and
wrote:

    "You are kindness itself. But the place doesn't interest me.
    Moreover, no man should go to the Senate representing all of a
    State, whose job it is to preach class consciousness to a part
    of the State. Get a bigger man. I thank you, however, with all
    my heart."

Grant watched the preacher read the telegram. He read it twice, then he
said: "Well--of course, that's right. That's right--I can see that. But
I don't know--don't you think--I mean aren't you kind of--well, I can't
just express it; but--"

"Well, don't try, then," returned Grant.

However, Doctor Nesbit, having something rather more than the ethics of
the case at stake, was aided by his emotions in expressing himself. He
made his views clear, and as Grant sat at his desk that afternoon, he
read this in a telegram from the Doctor:

    "Well, of all the damn fools!"

That was one view of the situation. There was this other. It may be
found in one of those stated communications from perhaps Ruskin or
Kingsley, which the Peach Blow Philosopher sometimes vouchsafed to the
earth and it read:

"A great life may be lived by any one who is strong enough to fail for
an ideal."

Still another view may be had by setting down what John Dexter said to
his wife, and what she said to him. Said he, when he had recounted the
renunciation of Grant Adams:

"There goes the third devil. First he conquered the temptation to marry
and be comfortable; next he put fame behind him, and now he renounces
power."

And she said: "It had never occurred to me to consider Laura Van Dorn,
or national reputation, or a genuine chance for great usefulness as a
devil. I'm not sure that I like your taste in devils."

To which answer may be made again by Mr. Left in a communication he
received from George Meredith, who had recently passed over. It was
verified by certain details as to the arrangement of the books on the
little table in the little room in the little house on a little hill
where he was wont to write, and it ran thus:

    "Women, always star-hungry, ever uncompromising in their demand
    for rainbows, nibbling at the entre' and pushing aside the
    roast, though often adoring primitive men who gorge on it, but
    ever in the end rewarding abstinence and thus selecting a race
    of spiritually-minded men for mates, are after all the world's
    materialists."



CHAPTER XLII

A CHAPTER WHICH IS CONCERNED LARGELY WITH THE LOVE AFFAIRS OF "THE FULL
STRENGTH OF THE COMPANY"


This story, first of all, and last of all, is a love story. The emotion
called love and its twin desire hunger, are the two primal passions of
life. From love have developed somewhat the great altruistic
institutions of humanity--the family, the tribe, the State, the nation,
and the varied social activities--religion, patriotism, philanthropy,
brotherhood. While from hunger have developed war and trade and property
and wealth. Often it happens in the growth of life that men have small
choice in matters of living that are motived by hunger or its descendant
concerns; for necessity narrows the choice. But in affairs of the heart,
there comes wide latitudes of choice. It is reasonably just therefore to
judge a man, a nation, a race, a civilization, an era, by its love
affairs. So a book that would tell of life, that would paint the manners
of men, and thus show their hearts, must be a love story. "As a man
thinketh in his heart, so is he," runs the proverb, and, mind you, it
says heart--not head, not mind, but heart; as a man thinketh in his
heart, in that part of his nature where reside his altruistic
emotions--so is he.

It is the sham and shame of the autobiographies that flood and
dishearten the world, that they are so uncandid in their relation of
those emotional episodes in life--episodes which have to do with what we
know for some curious reason as "the softer passions." Cæsar's Gaelic
wars, his bridges, his trouble with the impedimenta, his fights with the
Helvetians--who cares for them? Who cares greatly for Napoleon's
expedition against the Allies? Of what human interest is Grant's tale of
the Wilderness fighting? But to know of Calpurnia, of her predecessors,
and her heirs and assigns in Cæsar's heart; to know the truth about
Josephine and the crash in Napoleon's life that came with her
heartbreak--if a crash did come, or if not, to know frankly what did
come; to know how Grant got on with Julia Dent through poverty and
riches, through sickness and in health, for better or for worse--with
all the strain and stress and struggle that life puts upon the yoke that
binds the commonplace man to the commonplace woman rising to eminence by
some unimportant quirk of his genius reacting on the times--these indeed
would be memoirs worth reading.

And whatever worth this story holds must come from its value as a
love-story,--the narrative of how love rose or fell, grew or withered,
bloomed and fruited, or rotted at the core in the lives of those men and
women who move through the scenes painted upon this canvas. After all,
who cares that Thomas Van Dorn waxed fat in the land, that he received
academic degrees from great universities which his masters supported,
that he told men to go and they went, to come and they came? These
things are of no consequence. Men are doing such things every minute of
every day in all the year.

But here sits Thomas Van Dorn, one summer afternoon, with a young broker
from New York--one of those young brokers with not too nice a
conscience, who laughs too easily at the wrong times. He and Thomas Van
Dorn are upon the east veranda of the new Country Club building in
Harvey--the pride of the town--and Thomas is squinting across the golf
course at a landscape rolling away for miles like a sea, a landscape
rich in homely wealth. The young New Yorker comes with letters to Judge
Van Dorn from his employers in Broad Street, and as the two sip their
long cool glasses, and betimes smoke their long black cigars, the former
judge falls into one of those self-revealing philosophical moods that
may be called the hypnoidal semi-conscious state of common sense. Said
Van Dorn:

"Well, boy--what do you think of the greatest thing in the world?" And
not waiting for an answer the older man continued as he held his cigar
at arm's length and looked between his elevated feet at the landscape:
"'Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love.'
Great old lover--Solomon. Rather out of the amateur class--with his
thousand wives and concubines; perhaps a virtuous man withal, but hardly
a fanatic on the subject; and when he said he was sick of love--probably
somewhere in his fifties,--Solomon voiced a profound man's truth. Most
of us are. Speaking generally of love, my boy, I am with Solomon. There
is nothing in it."

The cigar in his finely curved mouth--the sensuous mouth of youth, that
had pursed up dryly in middle age--was pointed upward. It stood out from
a reddish lean face and moved when the muscles of the face worked
viciously in response to some inward reflection of Tom Van Dorn.

He drawled on, "Think of the time men fool away chasing calico. I've
gone all the gaits, and I know what I'm talking about. Ladies and Judy
O'Gradies, married and single, decent and indecent--it's all the same. I
tell you, young man, there's nothing in it! Love," he laughed a little
laugh: "Love--why, when I was in the business," he sniffed, "I never had
any trouble loving any lady I desired, nor getting her if I loved her
long enough and strong enough. When I was a young cub like you," Van
Dorn waved his weed grandly toward the young broker, "I used to keep
myself awake, cutting notches in my memory--naming over my conquests.
But now I use it as a man does the sheep over the fence, to put me to
sleep, and I haven't been able to pass my fortieth birthday in the list
for two years, without snoozing. What a fool a man can make of himself
over calico! The ladies, God bless 'em, have got old John Barleycorn
beaten a mile, when it comes to playing hell with a man's life. Again
speaking broadly, and allowing for certain exceptions, I should say--"
he paused to give the judicial pomp of reflection to his
utterances--"the bigger fool the woman is, the greater fool a man makes
of himself for her. And all for what?"

His young guest interjected the word "Love?" in the pause. The Judge
made a wry face and continued:

"Love? Love--why, man, you talk like a school girl. There is no love.
Love and God are twin myths by which we explain the relation of our
fates to our follies. The only thing about me that will live is the
blood I transmit to my children! We live in posterity. As for love and
all the mysteries of the temple--waugh--woof!" he shuddered.

He put back his cigar into the corner of his hard mouth. He was
squinting cynically across the rolling golf course. What he saw there
checked his talk. He opened his eyes to get a clearer view. His
impression grew definite and unmistakable. There, half playing and half
sporting, like young lambs upon the close-cropped turf, were Kenyon
Adams and Lila Van Dorn! They were unconscious of all that their gay
antics disclosed. They were happy, and were trying only to express
happiness as they ran together after the ball, that flew in front of
them like a mad butterfly. But in the sad lore of his bleak heart, the
father read the meaning of their happiness. Youth in love was never
innocent for him. Looking at Lila romping with her lover, he turned sick
at heart. But he held himself in hand. Only the zigzag scar on his
forehead flashing white in the pink of his brow betrayed the turmoil
within him. He tried to keep his eyes off the golf course. A sharp dread
that he might transmit himself in nature to posterity only through the
base blood of the Adamses, struck him. He closed his eyes. But the wind
brought to him the merriment of the young voices. A jealousy of Kenyon,
and an anger at him, flared up in the father. So Tom Van Dorn drew down
the corners of his mouth--and batted his furtive eyes, and put on his
bony knee a mottled, nervous hand, with brown splotches at the wrist,
coming up over the veined furrows that led to his tapering fingers, as
he cried harshly in a tone that once had been soft and mellifluous, and
still was deep and chesty: "Still me with flagons, comfort me with
apples, for I am sick of love!"

He would have gone away from the torture that came, as he stared at the
lovers, but his devil held him there. He was glad when a noise of saw
and hammer at the lake drowned the voices on the lawn. His gladness
lasted but a moment. For soon he saw the young people quit chasing their
crazy butterfly of a golf ball, and wander half way up the hill from the
lake, to sit in the snug shade of a wide-spreading, low-branched elm
tree. Then the father was nervous, because he could not hear their
voices. As he sat with the young broker, snarling at the anonymous
phantoms of his past which were bedeviling him, a gray doubt kept
brushing across his mind. He realized clearly that he had no legal right
to question Lila's choice of companions. He understood that the law
would not justify anything that he might do, or say, or think,
concerning her and her fortunes. Yet there unmistakably was the Van Dorn
set to her pretty head and a Van Dorn gesture in her gay hands that had
come down from at least four generations in family tradition. And he had
no right even to be offended when she would merge that Van Dorn blood
with the miserable Adams heredity. His impotence in the situation
baffled him, and angered him. The law was final to his mind; but it did
not satisfy his wrathful questioning heart. For in his heart, he
realized that denial was not escape from the responsibility he had
renounced when he tripped down the steps of their home and left Lila
pleading for him in her mother's arms. He bit his ragged cigar and
cursed his God, while the young man with Tom Van Dorn thought, "Well,
what a dour old Turk he is!"

The hammering and sawing, which drowned the voices of the young people
under the tree, came from the new bathing pavilion near by. Grant Adams
was working on a two days' job putting up the pavilion for the summer.
He was out of Van Dorn's view, facing another angle of the long
three-faced veranda. Grant saw Kenyon lying upon the turf, slim and
graceful and with the beauty of youth radiating from him, and Grant
wondered, as he worked, why his son should be there playing among the
hills, while the sons of other men, making much more money than he--much
more money indeed than many of the others who flitted over the
green--should toil in the fumes of South Harvey and in the great
industrial Valley through long hard hours of work, that sapped their
heads and hearts by its monotony of motion, and lack of purpose. As he
gazed at the lovers, their love did not stick in his consciousness--even
if he realized it. Their presence under the elm tree at midday rose as a
problem which deepened a furrow here and there in his seamed face and he
hammered and sawed away with a will, working out in his muscles the
satisfaction which his mind could not bring him.

As the two fathers from different vistas looked upon their children,
Kenyon and Lila beneath the elm tree were shyly toying with vagrant
dreams that trailed across their hearts. He was looking up at her and
saying:

"Lila--who are we--you and I? I have been gazing at you three minutes
while you were talking, and I see some one quite different from the you
I knew before. Looking up at you, instead of down at you, is like
transposing you. You are strangely new in this other key."

The girl did not try to respond in kind--with her lips at least. She
began teasing the youth about his crinkly hair. Breaking a twig as she
spoke, she threw it carelessly at his hair, and it stuck in the closely
curled locks. She laughed gayly at him. Perhaps in some way rather
subtly than suddenly, as by a ghostly messenger from afar, he may have
been made aware of her beautiful body, of the exquisite lines of her
figure, of the pink of her radiant skin, or the red of her girlish lips.
For the consciousness of these things seemed to spend his soul in joy.

The blazing eyes of Tom Van Dorn, squinting down upon the couple under
the tree, could see the grace that shone from a thousand reactions of
their bodies and faces. He opened his mouth to voice something from the
bitterness of his heart but did not speak. Instead he yawned and cried:
"And so we rot and we rot and we rot."

Now it matters little what the lovers chattered about there under the
elm tree, as they played with sticks and pebbles. It was what they would
have said that counts--or perhaps what they should have said, if they
had been able to voice their sense of the gift which the gods were
bestowing. But they were dumb humans, who threw pebbles at each other's
toes, though in the deep places of their souls, far below the surface
waves of bashful patter, heart might have spoken to heart in passing
thus:

"Oh, Lila, what is beauty? What is it in the soul, running out glad to
meet beauty, whether of line, of tone, of color, of form, of motion, of
harmony?"

And the answer might have been trumpeted back through the deep:

"Maybe beauty is the God that is everywhere and everything, releasing
himself in matter. Perhaps for our eyes and ears and fingers, the
immanent God had an equation, whose answer is locked in our souls that
are also a part of God--created in his image. And when in curve or line,
in sequence of notes or harmony, or in thrilling touch sense, the
equation is stated in terms of radiation, God seeking our soul's answer,
speaks to us."

But none of this trumpet call of souls reached the two fathers who were
watching the lovers. For one man was too old in selfishness to
understand, and the other had grown too old in bearing others' burdens
to know what voices speak through the soul's trumpet, when love first
comes into the heart. So the hammers hammered and the saws groaned in
the pavilion, and a hard heart hammered and a soul groaned and a tongue
babbled folly on the veranda. But under the elm tree, eyes met, and
across space went the message that binds lives forever. She picked up a
twig longer than most twigs about her, reached with it and touched his
forehead furtively, stroked his crinkled hair, blushing at her boldness.
His head sank to the earth, he put his face upon the grass, and for a
second he found joy in the rush of tears. They heard voices, bringing
the planet back to them; but voices far away. On the hill across the
little valley they could see two earnest golfers, working along the
sky-line.

The couple on the sky-line hurried along in the heat. The man mopped his
face, and his brown, hairy arms, and his big sinewy neck. The woman,
rather thin, but fresh and with the maidenly look of one who isn't
entirely sure what that man will do next, kept well in the lead.

"Well, Emma--there's love's young dream all right." He stopped to puff,
and waved at the couple by the tree. Then he hitched up his loose, baggy
trousers, gave a jerk to his big flowing blue necktie, let fly at the
ball and cried "Fore." When he came up to the ball again, he was red and
winded. "Emma," he said, "let's go have something to eat at the
house--my figure'll do for an emeritus bridegroom--won't it?" And thus
they strolled over the fields and out of the game.

But on another hill, another couple in the midst of a flock of children
attracted by one of Mr. Brotherton's smashing laughs, looked down and
saw Lila and Kenyon. The quick eyes of love caught the meaning of the
figures under the tree.

"Look, mamma--look," said Nathan Perry, pointing toward the tree.

"Oh, Nate," cried Anne, "--isn't it nice! Lila and Kenyon!"

"Well, mamma--are you happy?" asked Nathan, as he leaned against the
tree beside her. She nodded and directed their glances to the children
and said gently, "And they justify it--don't they?"

He looked at her for a moment, and said, "Yes, dear--I suppose that's
what the Lord gave us love for. That is why love makes the world go
around."

"And don't the people who don't have them miss it--my! Nate, if they
only knew--if these bridge-playing, childless ones knew how dear they
are--what joy they bring--just as children--not for anything else--do
you suppose they would--"

"Oh, you can't tell," answered the young father. "Perhaps selfish people
shouldn't have children; or perhaps it's the children that make us
unselfish, and so keep us happy. Maybe it's one of those intricate
psychical reactions, like a chemical change--I don't know! But I do know
the kids are the best things in the world."

She put her hand in his and squeezed it. "You know, Nate, I was just
thinking to-day as I put up the lunch--I'm a mighty lucky woman. I've
had all these children and kept every one so far; I've had such joy in
them--such joy, and we haven't had death. Even little Annie's long
sickness, and everything--Oh, dear, Nate--but isn't she worth it--isn't
she worth it?"

He kissed her hand and replied, "You know I'm so glad we went down to
South Harvey to live, Anne. I can see--well, here's the way it is. Lots
of families down there--families that didn't have any more to go on than
we had then, started out, as we did. They had a raft of kids--" he
laughed, "just as we did. But, mamma--they're dead--or worse, they're
growing up underfed, and are hurrying into the works or the breaker
bins. I tell you, Anne--here's the thing. Those fathers and mothers
didn't have any more money than we had--but we did have more and better
training than they had. You knew better than to feed our kids trash, you
knew how to care for them--we knew how to spend our little, so that it
would count. They didn't. We have ours, and they have doctors' and
undertakers' bills. It isn't blood that counts so much--as the
difference in bringing up. We're lovers because of our bringing up.
Otherwise, we'd be fighting like cats and dogs, I'd be drinking, you'd
be slommicking around in wrappers, and the kids would be on the
streets."

The children playing on the gravel bank were having a gay time. The
mother called to them to be careful of their clothes, and then replied:

"Nate, honestly I believe if I had two or three million dollars, and
could give every girl in South Harvey a good education--teach her how to
cook and keep house and care for babies before she is eighteen, that we
could change the whole aspect of South Harvey in a generation. If I had
just two or three million dollars to spend--I could fill that town just
as full as Harvey of happy couples like us. Of course there'd be the
other kind--some of them--just as there are the other kind in
Harvey--people like the Van Dorns--but they would be the exception in
South Harvey, as the Van Dorns are the exception in Harvey. And two or
three million dollars would do it."

"Yes, mamma,--that's the hell of it--the very hell of it that grinds my
gizzard--your father and my father and the others who haven't done a
lick of the work--and who are entitled only to a decent interest and
promoters' profits, have taken out twenty million dollars from South
Harvey in dividends in the last thirty years--and this is the result.
Hell for forty thousand people down there, and--you and I and a few
dozen educated happy people are the fruit of it. Sometimes, Anne, I look
at our little flock and look at you so beautiful, and think of our life
so glorious, and wonder how a just God can permit it."

They looked at the waving acres of blue-grass, dotted with trees, at the
creek winding its way through the cornfields, dark green and all but
ready to tassle, then up at the clear sky, untainted with the smoke of
Harvey.

Then they considered the years that lay back of them. "I think, Nate,"
she answered, "that to love really and truly one man or one woman makes
one love all men and women. I feel that way even about the little fellow
that's coming. I love him so, that even he makes me love everything. And
so I can't just pray for him--I have to pray for all the mothers
carrying babies and all the babies in the world. I think when love comes
into the world it is immortal. We die, but the sum of love we live, we
leave; it goes on; it grows. It is the way God gets into the world. Oh,
Nate," she cried, "I want to live in the next world--personally--with
you--to know the very you. I don't want the impersonal immortality--I
want just you. But, dear--I--why, I'd give up even that if I could be
sure that the love we live would never leave this earth. Think what the
love of Christ did for the earth and He is still with us in spirit. And
I know when we go away--when any lovers go away, the love they have
lived will never leave this earth. It will live and joy--yes, and
agonize too at the injustice of the world--live and be crucified over
and over again, so long as injustice exists. Only as love grows in the
world, and is hurt--is crucified--will wrongs be righted, will the world
be saved."

He patted her hand for a minute.

"Kyle, Nate, Annie--come here, children," cried the father. After some
repetition of the calling, they came trooping up, asking: "What is it?"

"Nothing at all," answered the father, "we just wanted to kiss you and
feel and see if your wings were sprouting, so that we could break them
off before you fly away," whereupon there was a hugging bee all around,
and while every one was loving every one else, a golf ball flew by them,
and a moment later the white-clad, unbent figure of Mrs. Bedelia
Satterthwaite Nesbit appeared, bare-headed and bare-armed, and behind
her trotted the devoted white figure of the Doctor, carrying two golf
sticks.

"Chained to her chariot--to make a Roman holiday," piped the Doctor.
"She's taking this exercise for my health."

"Well, James," replied his wife rather definitely, "I know you need it!"

"And that settles it," cried the little man shrilly, "say, Nate, if we
men ever get the ballot, I'm going to take a stand for liberty."

"I'm with you, Doctor," replied the young man.

"Nate," he mocked in his comical falsetto, "as you grow older and get
further and further from your mother's loving care, you'll find that
there was some deep-seated natural reason why we men should lead the
sheltered life and leave the hurly-burly of existence to the women."

From long habit, in such cases Mrs. Nesbit tried not to smile and, from
long habit, failed. "Doctor Jim," she cried as he picked up her ball,
and set it for her, "don't make a fool of yourself."

The little man patted the earth under the ball, and looked up and said
as he took her hand, and obviously squeezed it for the spectators, as he
rose.

"My dear--it's unnecessary. You have made one of me every happy minute
for forty years," and smiling at the lovers and their children, he took
the hand held out for him after she had sent the ball over the hill, and
they went away as he chuckled over his shoulder and cheeped: "Into the
twilight's purple rim--through all the world she followed him," and
trotting behind her as she went striding into the sunset, they
disappeared over the hill.

When they had disappeared Anne began thinking of her picnic. She and
Nathan left the children at the lake, and walked to the club house for
the baskets. On the veranda they met Captain Morton in white flannels
with a gorgeous purple necktie and a panama hat of a price that made
Anne gasp. He came bustling up to Anne and Nathan and said:

"Surprise party--I'm going to give the girls a little surprise party
next week--next Tuesday, and I want you to come--what say? Out
here--next Tuesday night--going to have all the old friends--every one
that ever bought a window hanger, or a churn, or a sewing machine, or a
Peerless cooker, or a Household Horse--but keep it quiet--surprise on
the girls, eh?"

When they had accepted, the Captain lowered his voice and said
mysteriously: "'Y gory--the old man's got some ginger in him yet--eh?"
and bustled away with a card in his hands containing the names of the
invited guests, checking the Perrys from the list as he went.

As Captain Morton rounded the corner of the veranda and came into the
out-of-door dining room, he found Margaret Van Dorn, sitting at a table
by a window with Ahab Wright--flowing white side whiskers and white
necktie inviolate and pristine in their perfection. Ahab was clearly
confused when the Captain sailed into the room. For there was a
breeziness about the Captain's manner, and although Ahab respected the
Captain's new wealth, still his years of poverty and the meanness of his
former calling as a peddler of insignificant things, made Ahab Wright
feel a certain squeamishness when he had to receive Captain Morton upon
the term which, in Ahab's mind, a man of so much money should be
received.

Mrs. Van Dorn was using her eyes on Ahab. Perhaps they cast the spell.
She was leaning forward with her chin in her hands, with both elbows on
the table, and Ahab Wright, of the proud, prosperous and highly
respectable firm of Wright & Perry, was in much the mental and moral
attitude of the bird when the cat creeps up to the tree-trunk. He was
not unhappy; not terrorized--just curious and rather resistless, knowing
that if danger ever came he could fly. And Mrs. Van Dorn, who had tired
of the toys at hand, was adventuring rather aimlessly into the cold blue
eyes of Ahab, to see what might be in them.

"For many years," she was saying, and pronounced it "yee-ahs," having
remembered at the moment to soften her "r's," "I have been living on a
highah plane wheyah one ignoahs the futuah and foahgets the pahst. On
this plane one rises to his full capacity of soul strength, without the
hampah of remoahs or the terror of a vindictive Providence."

She might as well have been reciting the alphabet backwards so far as
Ahab understood or cared what she said. He was fascinated by her
resemblance to a pink and white marshmallow--rather over-powdered. But
she was still fortifying herself from that little black box in the
farthest corner in the bottom drawer of her dresser--and fortifying
herself with two brown pellets instead of one. So she ogled Ahab Wright
by way of diversion, and sat in the recesses of her soul and wondered
what she would say next.

The Captain pulling his panama off made a tremendous bow as Margaret was
saying: "Those who grahsp the great Basic Truths in the Science of
Being--" and just as the Captain was about to open his mouth to invite
Ahab Wright to his party, plumb came the ghastly consciousness to him
that the Van Dorns were not on his list. For the Van Dorns, however
securely they were entrenched socially among the new people who had no
part in the town's old quarrel with Tom, however the oil and gas and
smelter people and the coal magnates may have received the Van
Dorns--still they were under the social ban of the only social Harvey
that Captain Morton knew. So as a man falling from a balloon gets his
balance, the Captain gasped as he came up from his low bow and said:

"Madam, I says to myself just now as I looks over to that elm tree
yonder," he pointed to the place where Kenyon and Lila were sitting,
"soon we'll be having the fourth generation here in Harvey, and I says,
that will interest Tom! An 'y gory, ma'am, as I saw you sitting here, I
says as it was well in my mind, 'Here's Tom's lady love, and I'll just
go over and pass my congratulations on to Tom through the apple of his
eye, as you may say, and not bother him and the young man around the
corner there in their boss trade, eh?' What say?" He was flushed and
red, and he did not know exactly where to stop, but it was out--and
after a few sparring sentences, he broke away from the clutch of his
bungling intrusion and was gone. But as the Captain left the couple at
the table, the spell was broken. Life had intruded, and Ahab rose
hastily and went his way.

Margaret Van Dorn sat looking out at a dreary world. Even the lovers by
the elm tree did not quicken her pulse. Scarcely more did they interest
her than her vapid adventure with Ahab Wright. All romantic adventure,
personal or vicarious, was as ashes on her lips. But emotion was not all
dead in her. As she gazed at Lila and Kenyon, Margaret wondered if her
husband could see the pair. Her first emotional reaction was a gloating
sense that he would be boiling with humiliation and rage when he saw his
child so obviously and publicly, even if unconsciously, adoring an
Adams. So she exulted in the Van Dorn discomfiture. As her first
spiteful impulse wore away, a sense of desolation overcame Margaret Van
Dorn. Probably she had no regrets that she had abandoned Kenyon. For
years she had nursed a daily horror that the door which hid her secret
might swing open, but that horror was growing stale. She felt that the
door was forever sealed by time. So in the midst of a world at its
spring, a budding world, a world of young mating, a gay world going out
on its vast yearly voyage to hunt new life in new joy, a quest for ever
new yet old as God's first smile on a world unborn, this woman sat in a
drab and dreary desolation. Even her spite withered as she sat playing
with her tall glass. And as spite chilled, her loneliness grew.

She knew better than any one else in Harvey--better even than the
Nesbits--what Kenyon Adams really promised in achievement and fame. They
knew that he had some European recognition. Margaret in Europe had been
amazed to see how far he was going. In New York and Boston, she knew
what it meant to have her son's music on the best concert programs. Her
realization of her loss increased her loneliness. But regret did not
produce remorse. She was always and finally glad that the door was
inexorably sealed upon her secret. She saw only her husband angered by
her son's association with her husband's daughter, and when malice spent
itself, she was weary and lonely and out of humor, and longed to retire
to her fortification.

After Captain Morton had bowed himself away from Margaret Van Dorn, he
stood at the other end of the veranda looking down toward the lake. The
carpenters were quitting work for the day on the new bathing pavilion
and he saw the tall figure of Grant Adams in the group. He hurried down
the steps near by, and came bustling over to Grant.

"Just the man I want to see! I saw Jap chasing around the golf course
with Ruthie and invited him, but he said your pa wasn't very spry and
mightn't be uptown to-morrow, so you just tell him for me that you and
he are to come to my party here next Tuesday night--surprise party for
the girls--going to break something to them they don't know anything
about--what say? Tell your pa that his old army friend is going to send
his car--my new car--great, big, busting gray battleship for your
pa--makes Tom's car look like an ash cart. Don't let your pa refuse. I
want to bring you all up here to the party in that car in style--you and
Amos and Jap and Kenyon! eh? Say, Grant--tell me--" he wagged his head
at Kenyon and Lila still loitering by the tree. "What's Kenyon's idea in
loafing around so much here in Harvey? He's old enough to go to work.
What say?" Grant tried to get it to the Captain that Kenyon's real job
in the world was composing music, and that sometimes he tired of cities
and came down to Harvey to get the sunshine and prairie grass and the
woods and the waters of his childhood into his soul. But the Captain
waved the idea aside, "Nothing in the fiddling business, Grant--two
dollars a day and find yourself, is all the best of 'em make," protested
the Captain. "Let him do like I done--get at something sound and
practical early in life and 'y gory, man--look at me. What say?"

Grant did not answer, but when the Captain veered around to the subject
of his party, Grant promised to bring the whole Adams family. A moment
later the Captain saw the Sands's motor car on the road before them, and
said:

"Excuse me, Grant--here are the Sandses--I've got to invite them--Hi
there, Dan'l, come alongside." While the Captain was inviting Daniel
Sands, the Doctor's electric came purring up the hill to the club house
driven by Laura Van Dorn. Grant was trotting ahead to join the other
carpenters who were going to the street-car station, when Laura passing,
hailed him:

"Wait a minute, Grant, till I take this to father, and I'll go with
you."

As Laura Van Dorn turned her car around the club house, she stopped it
under the veranda overlooking the golf course and the rolling prairie
furrowed by the slowly winding stream. The afternoon sun slanting upon
the landscape brought out all its beauty--its gay greens, its somber,
contrasting browns, and its splashing of color from the fruit trees
across the valley that blushed pink and went white in the first unsure
ecstasies of new life. Then she saw Kenyon and Lila slowly walking up
the knoll to the road. The mother noted with quick instinct the way
their hands jostled together as they walked. The look that flashed from
their eyes when their hands touched--the look of proprietorship in each
other--told Laura Van Dorn that her life's work with Lila was finished.
The daughter's day of choice had come; and whatever of honesty, whatever
of sense, and sentiment, whatever of courage or conscience the mother
had put into the daughter's heart and mind was ready for its lifelong
test. Lila had embarked on her own journey; and motherhood was ended for
Laura Van Dorn.

As she looked at the girl, the mother saw herself, but she was not
embittered at the sad ending of her own journey along the road which her
daughter was taking. For years she had accepted as the fortunes of war,
what had come to her with her marriage, and because she had the
daughter, the mother knew that she was gainer after all. For to realize
motherhood even with one child, was to taste the best that life held. So
her face reflected, as a cloud reflects the glory of the dawn, something
of the radiance that shone in the two young faces before her; and in her
faith she laid small stress upon the particular one beside her daughter.
Not his growing fame, not his probable good fortune, inspired her
satisfaction. When she considered him at all as her daughter's lover,
she only reflected on the fact that all she knew of Kenyon was honest
and frank and kind. Then she dismissed him from her thoughts.

The mother standing on the hillock looking at the youth and maiden
sauntering toward her, felt the serene reliance in the order of things
that one has who knows that the worst life can do to a brave, wise, kind
heart, is not bad. For she had felt the ruthless wrenches of the
senseless wheels of fate upon her own flesh. Yet she had come from the
wheels bruised, and in agony, but not broken, not beaten. Her peace of
mind was not passive. It amounted to a militant pride in the strength
and beauty of the soul she had equipped for the voyage. Laura Van Dorn
was sure of Lila and was happy. Her eyes filled with grateful tears as
she looked down upon her daughter.

Her father, toddling ahead of Mrs. Nesbit a hundred paces, reached the
car first. She nodded at the young people trudging up the slope. "Yes,"
said the Doctor, "we have been watching them for half an hour. Seems
like the voice of the turtle is heard in the land."

The daughter alighted from the runabout, her father got in and waited
for his wife. The three turned their backs on the approaching lovers and
pretended not to see them. As Laura walked around the corner of the
house, she found Grant waiting for her at the car station, and the two
having missed the car that the other carpenters had taken, stood under
the shed waiting.

"Well--Laura," he asked, "are you leaving the idle rich for the worthy
poor?" She laughed and explained:

"The electric was for father and mother, and so long as I have to go
down to my girls' class in South Harvey this evening for their picnic,
I'm going to ride in your car, if you don't mind?"

The street car came wailing down on them and when they had taken a rear
seat on the trailer together, Grant began: "I'm glad you've come just
now--just to-night. I've been anxious to see you. I've got some things
to talk over--mighty big things--for me. In the first place--"

"In the first place and before I forget it, let me tell you the good
news. A telegram has just come from the capital to father, saying that
the State supreme court had upheld his labor bill--his and your bill
that went through the referendum.

"'Referendum J.' probably was the judge who wrote the opinion," said
Grant grimly. He took off his hat, and the cooling breeze of the late
afternoon played with his hair, without fluttering the curly, wiry red
poll, turning light yellow with the years. "Well, whoever influenced the
court--I'm glad that's over. The men have been grumbling for a year and
more because we couldn't get the benefits of the law. But their suits
are pending--and now they ought to have their money."

As the car whined along through the prairie streets, Grant, who had
started to speak twice, at last said abruptly, "I've got to cut loose."
He turned around so that his eyes could meet hers and went on: "Your
father and George Brotherton and a lot of our people seem to think that
we can patch things up--I mean this miserable profit system. They think
by paying the workmen for accidents and with eight hours, a living wage,
and all that sort of thing, we can work out the salvation of labor. I
used to think that too; but it won't do, Laura--I've gone clean to the
end of that road, and there's nothing in it. And I'm going to cut loose.
That's what I want to see you about. There's nothing in this
step-at-a-time business. I'm for the revolution!"

She showed clearly that she was surprised, and he seemed to find some
opposition in her countenance, for he hurried on: "The Kingdom--I mean
the Democracy of labor--is at hand; the day is at its dawn. I want to
throw my weight for the coming of the Democracy."

His voice was full of emotion as he cried:

"Laura--Laura, I know what you think; you want me to wait; you want me
to help on the miserable patchwork job of repairing the profit system.
But I tell you--I'm for the revolution, and with all the love in my
heart--I'm going to throw myself into it!"

No one sat in the seat before them, as they whirled through the lanes
leading to town, and he rested his head in his hand and put his elbow on
the forward seat.

"Well, what do you think of it?" he asked, looking anxiously into her
troubled face. "I have been feeling strongly now for a month--waiting to
see you--also waiting to be dead sure of myself. Now I am sure!" The mad
light in his eye and the zealot's enthusiasm flaming in his battered
face, made the woman pause a moment before she replied:

"Well," she smiled as she spoke, "don't you think you are rather rushing
me off my feet? I've seen you coming up to it for some time--but I
didn't know you were so far along with your conviction."

She paused and then: "Of course, Grant, the Socialists--I mean the
revolutionary group--even the direct action people--have their proper
place in the scheme of things--but, Grant--" she looked earnestly at him
with an anxious face, "they are the scouts--the pioneers ahead of the
main body of the troops! And, Grant," she spoke sadly, "that's a hard
place--can't you find enough fighting back with the main body of the
troops--back with the army?"

He beat the seat with his iron claw impatiently and cried: "No--no--I'm
without baggage or equipment. I'm traveling light. I must go forward.
They need me there. I must go where the real danger is. I must go to
point the way."

"But what is the way, Grant--what is it? You don't know--any more than
we do--what is beyond the next decade's fight! What is the way you are
going to point out so fine and gay--what is it?" she cried.

"I don't know," he answered doggedly. "I only know I must go. The scouts
never know where they are going. Every great movement has its men who
set out blindly, full of faith, full of courage, full of joy, happy to
fail even in showing what is not the way--if they cannot find the path.
I must go," he cried passionately, "with those who leave their homes to
mark the trail--perhaps a guide forward, perhaps as a warning away--but
still to serve. I'm going out to preach the revolution for I know that
the day of the Democracy of labor is at hand! It is all but dawning."

She saw the exultation upon him that hallowed his seamed features and
she could not speak. But when she got herself in hand she said calmly:
"But, Grant--that's stuff and nonsense--there is no revolution. There
can be no Democracy of labor, so long as labor is what it is. We all
want to help labor--we know that it needs help. But there can be no
Democracy of labor until labor finds itself; until it gets capacity for
handling big affairs, until it sees more clearly what is true and what
is false. Just now labor is awakening, is growing conscious--a
little--but, Grant, come now, my good friend, listen, be sensible, get
down to earth. Can't you see your fine pioneering and your grand
scouting won't help--not now?"

"And can't you understand," he replied almost angrily, "that unless I or
some one else who can talk to these people does go out and preach a
definite ideal, a realizable hope--even though it may not be realized,
even though it may not take definite shape--they will never wake up?
Can't you see, girl, that when labor is ready for the revolution--it
won't need the revolution? Can't you see that unless we preach the
revolution, they will never be ready for it? When the workers can stand
together, can feel class consciousness and strike altogether, can
develop organizing capacity enough to organize, to run their own
affairs--then the need for class consciousness will pass, and the demand
for the revolution will be over? Can't you see that I must go out
blindly and cry discontent to these people?"

She smiled and shook her head and answered, "I don't know, Grant--I
don't know."

They were coming into town, and every few blocks the car was taking on
new passengers. She spoke low and almost whispered when she answered:

"I only know that I believe in you--you are my faith; you are my social
gospel." She paused, hesitated, flushed slightly, and said, "Where you
go I shall go, and your people shall be my people! Only do--Oh, do
consider this well before you take the final step."

"Laura, I must go," he returned stubbornly. "I am going to preach the
revolution of love--the Democracy of labor founded on the theory that
the Holy Ghost is in every heart--poor as well as rich--rich as well as
poor. I'm not going to preach against the rich--but against the system
that makes a few men rich without much regard to their talent, at the
expense of all the rest, without much regard to their talents."

The woman looked at him as he turned his blue eyes upon her in a kind of
delirium of conviction. He hurried on as their car rattled through the
town:

"We must free master as well as slave. For while there is slavery--while
the profit system exists--the mind of the slave and the mind of the
master will be cursed with it. There can be no love, no justice between
slave and master--only deceit and violence on each side, and I'm going
out to preach the revolution--to call for the end to a system that keeps
love out of the world."

"Well, then, Grant," said the woman as the car jangled its way down
Market Street, "hurrah for the revolution."

She smiled up at him, and they rode without speaking until they reached
South Harvey. He left her at the door of her kindergarten, and a group
of young girls, waiting for her, surrounded her.

When he reached his office, he found Violet Hogan working at her desk.

"You'll find all your mail opened, and I've noted the things that have
been attended to," she said, as she turned to him. "I'm due over to the
girls' class with Miss Laura--I'm helping her to-night with her picnic."

Grant nodded, and fell to his work. Violet went on:

"The letters for your signature are here on my desk. Money seems to be
coming in. New local showing up down in Magnus--from the tile works."
She rose, put on her coat and hat, and said as she stood in the door,
"To-morrow will be your day in--won't it?" He nodded at his work, and
she called out, "Well,--bye, bye--I'll be in about noon."

Daylight faded and he turned on the electric above his desk and was
going over his work, making notations on letters for Violet, when he
heard a footstep on the stairs. He recognized the familiar step of Henry
Fenn.

"Come in--come in, Henry," cried Grant.

Fenn appeared, saw Grant at his work, slipped into a chair, and said:

"Now go right on--don't mind me, young man." Fenn pulled a newspaper
from his cheap neat coat, and sat reading it, under a light that he made
for himself at Violet's desk. The light fell on his thin whitening
hair--still coarse, and close cropped. In his clean, washed-out face
there was the faded glow of the man who had been the rising young
attorney thirty years before. Grant knew that Fenn did not expect the
work to stop, so he went on with it. "I'm going to supper about eight
o'clock," said Grant, and asked: "Will that be all right?"

"Don't mind me," returned Fenn, and smiled with a dim reflection of the
old incandescence of his youth.

Fenn's hands trembled a little, but his eyes were steady and his voice
clear. His clothes were shabby but decent, and his whole appearance was
that of one who is making it a point to keep up. When Grant had finished
his correspondence, and was sealing up his letters, Fenn lent a hand and
began:

"Well, Grant, I'm in trouble--Oh, it's not that," he laughed as Grant
looked quickly into the clean, alert old face. "That's not bothered me
for--Oh, for two years now. But it's Violet--she wants me to marry her."
He blurted it out as if it had been pent in, and was hard to hold.

"Why--well--what makes you--well, has she proposed, Henry?" asked the
younger man.

"Naw--of course not," answered Fenn. "Boy, you don't know anything about
women."

Fenn shook his head knowingly, and winked one eye slowly.
"Children--she's set the children on me. You know, Grant--" he turned
his smile on with what candlepower he could muster, "that's my other
weakness--children. And they're the nicest children in the world. But I
can't--I tell you, man, I can't," protested Mr. Fenn, as if he believed
Grant in league with the woman to kidnap him.

"Well, then, don't," said Grant, rising and gathering up his mail.

"But how can I help it?" Fenn cried helplessly. "What can a man do?
Those kids need a father. I need a family--I've always needed a
family--but I don't want Violet--nor any one else." Grant towed him
along to the restaurant, and they sat alone. After Grant had ordered his
supper he asked, "Henry--why can't you marry Violet? She's a sensible,
honest woman--she's got over her foolishness; what's wrong with her?"

"Why, of course, she is a good woman. If you'd see her chasing out
nights--picking up girls, mothering 'em, loving 'em, working with
'em--she knows their language; she can talk to 'em so they get it. And
I've known her time and again to get scent of a new girl over there at
Bessie Wilson's and go after her and pull her out and start her right
again. I tell you, Grant, Violet has her weaknesses--as to hair ribbons
and shirtwaists and frills for the kids--but she's got a heart, Grant--a
mighty big heart."

"Then why not marry her?" persisted Grant.

"That's just it," answered Fenn.

He looked hopelessly at Grant and finally said as he reached his hands
across the table and grasped Grant's big flinty paw, "Grant--let me tell
you something--it's Margaret. I'm a fool--a motley fool i' the forest,
Grant, but I can't help it; I can't help it," he cried. "So long as she
lives--she may need me. I don't trust that damn scoundrel, Grant. She
may need me, and I stand ready to go to hell itself with her if I live a
thousand years. It's not that I want her any more; but, Grant--maybe you
know her; maybe you understand. She used to hate you for some reason,
and maybe that will help you to know how I feel. But--I know I'm
weak--God knows I'm putty in my soul. And I'm ashamed. But I mustn't get
married. It wouldn't be fair. It wouldn't be square to Violet, nor the
kids, nor to any one. So long as Margaret is on this earth--it's my job
to stand guard and wait till she needs me."

He turned a troubled, heartbroken face up to the younger man and
concluded, "I know she despises me--that she loathes me. But I can't
help it, Grant--and I came to you to kind of help me with Violet. It
wouldn't be right to--well, to let this thing go on." He heaved a deep
sigh, then he added as he fumbled with the red tablecloth, "What a fool
a man is--Lord, what a fool!"

In the end, Grant had to agree to let Violet know, by some round about
procedure devised by Mr. Fenn's legal mind, that he was not a
marriageable person. At the same time, Grant had to agree not to
frighten away the Hogan children.

The next morning as Grant and his father rode from their home into town,
Grant told his father of the invitation to the Captain's party.

"If your mother could have lived just to see the Captain on his grand
plutocratic spree, Grant--" said his father. He did not finish the
sentence, but cracked the lines on the old mare's back and looked at the
sky. He turned his white beard and gentle eyes upon his son and said,
"There was a time last night, before you came in, when I thought I had
her. Some one was greatly interested in you and some new project you
have in mind. Emerson thinks well of it," said Amos, "though," he added,
"Emerson thinks it won't amount to much--in practical immediate results.
But I think, Grant, now of course, I can't be sure," the father rubbed
his jaw and shook a meditative head, "it certainly did seem to me mother
was there for a time. Something kept bothering Emerson--calling
Grantie--the way she used to--all the time he was talking!"

The father let Grant out of the buggy at the Vanderbilt House in South
Harvey, and the old mare and her driver jogged up town to the
_Tribune_ office. There he creaked out of the buggy and went to his
work. It was nine o'clock before the Captain came capering in, and the
two old codgers in their seventies went into the plot of the surprise
party with the enthusiasm of boys.

After the Captain had explained the purpose of the surprise, Amos Adams
sat with his hands on his knees and smiled. "Well--well, Ezry--I didn't
realize it. Time certainly does fly. And it's all right," he added, "I'm
glad you're going to do it. She certainly will approve it. And the
girls--" the old man chuckled, "you surely will settle them for good and
all."

He laughed a little treble laugh, cracked and yet gleeful. "Nice
girls--all of 'em. But Grant says Jap's a kind of shining around your
Ruth--that's the singing one, isn't it? Well, I suppose, Ezry, either of
'em might do worse. Of course, this singing one doesn't remember her
mother much, so I suppose she won't be much affected by your surprise?"
He asked a question, but after his manner went on, "Well, maybe it was
Jap and Ruth that was bothering Mary last night. I kind of thought
someway, for the first time maybe I'd get her. But nothing much came of
it," he said sadly. "It's funny about the way I've never been able to
get her direct, when every one else comes--isn't it?"

The Captain was in no humor for occult things, so he cut in with: "Now
listen here, Amos--what do you think of me asking Mrs. Herdicker to sit
at one end of the table, eh? Of course I know what the girls will
think--but then," he winked with immense slyness, "that's all right. I
was talking to her about it, and she's going to have a brand new
dress--somepin swell--eh? By the jumping John Rogers, Amos--there's a
woman--eh?"

And tightening up his necktie--a scarlet creation of much pride--he
pulled his hat over his eyes, as one who has great affairs under it, and
marched double-quick out of the office.

You may be sure that some kind friend told the Morton girls of what was
in store for them, the kind friend being Mr. George Brotherton, who
being thoroughly married, regarded any secret from his wife in the light
of a real infidelity. So he told her all that he and Market Street knew.
Now the news of the party--a party in whose preparations they were to
have no share, roused in the Misses Morton, and their married sister,
jointly and severally, that devil of suspicion which always tormented
their dreams.

"And, Emma," gasped Martha, when Emma came over for her daily visit,
"just listen! Mrs. Herdicker is having the grandest dress made for the
party! She told the girls in the store she had twenty-seven dollars'
worth of jet on it--just jet alone." Here the handsome Miss Morton
turned pale with the gravity of the news. "She told the girls to-day,
this very afternoon, that she was going to take the three o'clock
morning train right after the party for New York to do her fall buying.
Fall buying, indeed! Fall buying," the handsome Miss Morton's voice
thickened and she cried, "just because papa's got a little money, she
thinks--"

But what she thought Miss Morton never said, for Mrs. Brotherton, still
familiar with the gossip of the schoolhouse, cut in to say: "And,
Martha, what do you think those Copini children say? They say father's
got their father's orchestra to practice all the old sentimental music
you ever heard of--'Silver Threads Among the Gold,' and 'Do You Love Me,
Molly Darling,' and 'Lorena,' and 'Robin Adair,'--and oh," cried Mrs.
Brotherton, shaking a hopeless head, "I don't know what other silly
things."

"And yes, girls," exclaimed the youngest Miss Morton flippantly, "he's
sent around to the Music School for Miss Howe to come and sing 'O
Promise Me'!"

"The idea!" cried the new Mrs. Brotherton.

"Why, the very idea!" broke out the handsome Miss Morton, sitting by the
dining-room table.

"The idea!" echoed the youngest Miss Morton, putting away her music
roll, and adding in gasping excitement: "And that isn't the worst. He
sent word for her to sing it just after the band had finished playing
the wedding march!"

Now terror came into the house of Morton, and when the tailor's boy
brought home a package, the daughters tore it open ruthlessly, and
discovered--as they sat limply with it spread out in its pristine beauty
on the sofa before them--a white broadcloth dinner suit--with a watered
silk vest. Half an hour later, when a pleated dress shirt with pearl
buttons came, it found three daughters sitting with tight lips waiting
for their father--and six tigers' eyes glaring hungrily at the door
through which he was expected. At six o'clock, when they heard his
nimble step on the porch, they looked at one another in fear, and as he
burst into the room, each looked decisively at the other as indicating a
command to begin.

He came in enveloping them in one all-encompassing hug and cried:

"Well 'y gory, girls, you certainly are the three graces, the three
fates, and the world, the flesh and the devil all in one--what say?"

But the Morton daughters were not to be silenced. Ruth took in a deep
breath and began:

"Well, now see here, father, do you know what people are saying about--"

"Of course--I was just coming to that, Ruthie," answered the Captain.
"Amos Adams he says, 'Well, Cap,' say he, 'I was talking to Cleopatra
and she says Queen Victoria had a readin' to the effect that there was a
boy named Amos Ezra Morton Adams over on one of the stars in the
southwest corner of the milky way that would be busting into this part
of the universe in about three years, more or less'--what say?"

The old man laughed and Ruth flushed red, and ran away. The Captain saw
his suit lying on the sofa.

"Somepin new--" interjected the Captain. "Thought I'd kind o' bloom out;
sort o' to let folks know that the old man had a little kick in him
yet--eh? And now, girls--listen; let's all go out to the Country Club
for dinner to-night, and I'll put on my new suit and you kind of rig up
in your best, and we'll make what George calls a killing--what say?" He
put his hands in his pockets and looked critically at his new clothes.
The flight of Ruth had quieted Emma, but Martha came swooping down on
him with "Now, father--look here--about that Country Club party--"

The Captain shot a swift glance at Martha, and saw Emma looking at him
from the kitchen door.

"What party?" he exclaimed. "Can't I ask my girls out for a little
innocent dinner without its being called a party--eh? Now, you girls get
your things on and come on. As for me, the limousine will be at the door
at eight!"

He disappeared up the stairs and in the Morton household, two young
women, woeful and heavy hearted, went about their toilets, while in the
Brotherton establishment, one large fat man in suspenders felt the rush
of sudden tears on his shirt front and marveled at the ways of the sex.
When the Mortons were in the midst of their moist and lugubrious task,
the thin, cracked little voice of the Captain called out:

"Girls--before you go, don't forget to put that cold beef on and stew it
to-night for hash in the morning--eh?"

It was a beautiful party that Captain Morton gave at the Country Club
house that evening. And at the end of a most gorgeously elaborate
dinner, wherein were dishes whose very names the Captain did not know,
he rose among his guests seated at the U-shaped table in the big dining
room with the heavy brown beams in the ceiling, a little old man by his
big chair, which stood beside a chair unoccupied.

"Friends," he said, "when a man gets on in his seventies, at that
uncertain time, when he does not know whether to be ashamed of his years
or proud of his age," he smiled at Daniel Sands, who clicked his
false-teeth in appreciation of the phrase, "it would seem that thoughts
of what the poet calls 'the livelier iris' on the 'burnished dove' would
not inconvenience him to any great extent--eh? At seventy-five a young
fellow's fancy ought to be pretty well done lightly turning to thoughts
of love--what say? But by cracky--they don't."

He paused. The Morton girls in shame looked at their plates. "So, I just
thought I'd have this little party to tell you about it. I wanted to
surprise the girls." There was only a faint clapping of hands; for tears
in the eyes of the three Morton daughters discouraged merriment.

"A man, as I was saying, never gets too old--never gets too crabbed, for
what my friend Amos's friend Emerson calls 'a ruddy drop of manly
blood'--eh? So, when that 'ruddy drop of manly blood' comes a surging up
in me, I says I'll just about have a party for that drop of manly blood!
I'm going to tell you all about it. There's a woman in my mind--a very
beautiful woman; for years--a feller just as well breakdown and
confess--eh?--well for years she's been in my mind pretty much all the
time--particularly since Ruthie there was a baby and left alorn and
alone--as you may say--eh? And so," he reached down and grasped a goblet
of water firmly, and held it before him, "and so," he repeated, and his
old eyes glistened and his voice broke, "as it was just fifty years ago
to-night that heaven opened and let her come to me, before I marched off
to war--so," he hurried along, "I give you this toast--the vacant
chair--may it always, always, always be filled in my heart of hearts!"

He could not drink, but sank with his head on his arms, and when they
had ceased clapping their hands, the old man looked up, signaled to the
orchestra, and cried in a tight, cracked voice, "Now, dern ye--begin yer
fiddlin'!"

Whereupon the three Morton daughters wept and the old ladies gathered
about them and wept, and Mrs. Hilda Herdicker's ton of jet heaved as in
a tidal wave, and the old men dried their eyes, and only Lila Van Dorn
and Kenyon Adams, holding hands under the table, really knew what it was
all about.

Now they have capered through these pages of this chapter--all of the
people in this story in their love affairs. Hand in hand, they have come
to the footlights, hand in hand they have walked before us. We have seen
that love is a passion with many sides. It varies with each soul. In
youth, in matur