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Title: Vera, the Medium
Author: Davis, Richard Harding
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Vera, the Medium" ***

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VERA, THE MEDIUM

By Richard Harding Davis



Part I

Happy in the hope that the news was “exclusive”, the Despatch had thrown
the name of Stephen Hallowell, his portrait, a picture of his house, and
the words, “At Point of Death!” across three columns. The announcement
was heavy, lachrymose, bristling with the melancholy self-importance
of the man who “saw the deceased, just two minutes before the train hit
him.”

But the effect of the news fell short of the effort. Save that city
editors were irritated that the presidents of certain railroads figured
hastily on slips of paper, the fact that an old man and his millions
would soon be parted, left New York undisturbed.

In the early 80’s this would not have been so. Then, in the uplifting of
the far West, Stephen Hallowell was a national figure, in the manoeuvres
of the Eastern stock market an active, alert power. In those days, when
a man with a few millions was still listed as rich, his fortune was
considered colossal.

A patent coupling-pin, the invention of his brother-in-law, had given
him his start, and, in introducing it, and in his efforts to force it
upon the new railroads of the West, he had obtained a knowledge of their
affairs. From that knowledge came his wealth. That was twenty years
ago. Since then giants had arisen in the land; men whose wealth made
the fortune of Stephen Hallowell appear a comfortable competence, his
schemes and stratagems, which, in their day, had bewildered Wall Street,
as simple as the trading across the counter of a cross-roads store. For
years he had been out of it. He had lost count. Disuse and ill health
had rendered his mind feeble, made him at times suspicious, at times
childishly credulous. Without friends, along with his physician and the
butler, who was also his nurse, he lived in the house that in 76, in
a burst of vanity, he had built on Fifth Avenue. Then the house was a
“mansion,” and its front of brown sandstone the outward sign of wealth
and fashion. Now, on one side, it rubbed shoulders with the shop of a
man milliner, and across the street the houses had been torn down and
replaced by a department store. Now, instead of a sombre jail-like
facade, his outlook was a row of waxen ladies, who, before each change
of season, appeared in new and gorgeous raiment, and, across the avenue,
for his approval, smiled continually.

“It is time you moved, Stephen,” urged his friend and lawyer, Judge
Henry Gaylor. “I can get you twice as much for this lot as you paid for
both it and the house.”

But Mr. Hallowell always shook his head. “Where would I go, Henry?”
 he would ask. “What would I do with the money? No, I will live in this
house until I am carried out of it.”

With distaste, the irritated city editors “followed up” the three-column
story of the Despatch.

“Find out if there’s any truth in that,” they commanded. “The old man
won’t see you, but get a talk out of Rainey. And see Judge Gaylor. He’s
close to Hallowell. Find out from him if that story didn’t start as a
bear yarn in Wall Street.”

So, when Walsh of the Despatch was conducted by Garrett, the butler of
Mr. Hallowell, upstairs to that gentlemen’s library, he found a group of
reporters already entrenched. At the door that opened from the library
to the bedroom, the butler paused. “What paper shall I say?” he asked.

“The Despatch,” Walsh told him.

The servant turned quickly and stared at Walsh.

He appeared the typical butler, an Englishman of over forty, heavily
built, soft-moving, with ruddy, smooth-shaven cheeks and prematurely
gray hair. But now from his face the look of perfunctory politeness had
fallen; the subdued voice had changed to a snarl that carried with it
the accents of the Tenderloin.

“So, you’re the one, are you?” the man muttered.

For a moment he stood scowling; insolent, almost threatening, and then,
once more, the servant opened the door and noiselessly closed it behind
him.

The transition had been so abrupt, the revelation so unexpected, that
the men laughed.

“I don’t blame him!” said young Irving. “I couldn’t find a single fact
in the whole story. How’d your people get it--pretty straight?”

“Seemed straight to us,” said Walsh.

“Well, you didn’t handle it that way,” returned the other. “Why didn’t
you quote Rainey or Gaylor? It seems to me if a man’s on the point of
death”--he lowered his voice and glanced toward the closed door--“that
his private doctor and his lawyer might know something about it.”

Standing alone with his back to the window was a reporter who had
greeted no one and to whom no one had spoken.

Had he held himself erect he would have been tall, but he stood
slouching lazily, his shoulders bent, his hands in his pockets. When he
spoke his voice was in keeping with the indolence of his bearing. It was
soft, hesitating, carrying with it the courteous deference of the South.
Only his eyes showed that to what was going forward he was alert and
attentive.

“Is Dr. Rainey Mr. Hallowell’s family doctor?” he asked.


Irving surveyed him in amused superiority.

“He is!” he answered. “You been long in New York?” he asked.

Upon the stranger the sarcasm was lost, or he chose to ignore it, for he
answered simply, “No, I’m a New Orleans boy. I’ve just been taken on the
Republic.”

“Welcome to our city,” said Irving. “What do you think of our Main
Street?”

From the hall a tall portly man entered the room with the assurance of
one much at home here and, with an exclamation, Irving fell upon him.

“Good morning, Judge,” he called. He waved at him the clipping from the
Despatch. “Have you seen this?”

Judge Gaylor accepted the slip of paper gingerly, and in turn moved
his fine head pompously toward each of the young men. Most of them
were known to him, but for the moment he preferred to appear too deeply
concerned to greet them. With an expression of shocked indignation, he
recognized only Walsh.

“Yes, I have seen it,” he said, “and there is not a word of truth in it!
Mr. Walsh, I am surprised! You, of all people!”

“We got it on very good authority,” said the reporter.

“But why not call me up and get the facts?” demanded the Judge. “I was
here until twelve o’clock, and--”

“Here!” interrupted Irving. “Then he did have a collapse?”

Judge Gaylor swung upon his heel.

“Certainly not,” he retorted angrily. “I was here on business, and I
have never known his mind more capable, more alert.” He lifted his hands
with an enthusiastic gesture. “I wish you could have seen him!”

“Well,” urged Irving, “how about our seeing him now?”

For a moment Judge Gaylor permitted his annoyance to appear, but he at
once recovered and, murmuring cheerfully, “Certainly, certainly; I’ll
try to arrange it,” turned to the butler who had re-entered the room.

“Garett,” he inquired, “is Mr. Hallowell awake yet?” As he asked the
question his eyebrows rose; with an almost imperceptible shake of the
head he signaled for an answer in the negative.

“Well, there you are!” the Judge exclaimed heartily. “I can’t wake him,
even to oblige you. In a word, gentlemen, Stephen Hallowell has never
been in better health, mentally and bodily. You can say that from
me--and that’s all there is to say.”

“Then, we can say,” persisted Irving, “that you say, that Walsh’s story
is a fake?”

“You can say it is not true,” corrected Gaylor. “That’s all, gentlemen.”
 The audience was at an end. The young men moved toward the hall and
Judge Gaylor turned to the bedroom. As he did so, he found that the new
man on the Republic still held his ground.


“Could I have a word with you, sir?” the stranger asked. The reporters
halted jealously. Again Gaylor showed his impatience.

“About Mr. Hallowell’s health?” he demanded. “There’s nothing more to
say.”

“No, it’s not about his health,” ventured the reporter.

“Well, not now. I am very late this morning.” The Judge again moved to
the bedroom and the reporter, as though accepting the verdict, started
to follow the others. As he did so, as though in explanation or as a
warning he added: “You said to always come to you for the facts.”
 The lawyer halted, hesitated. “What facts do you want?” he asked. The
reporter bowed, and waved his broad felt hat toward the listening men.
In polite embarrassment he explained what he had to say could not be
spoken in their presence.

Something in the manner of the stranger led Judge Gaylor to pause. He
directed Garrett to accompany the reporters from the room. Then, with
mock politeness, he turned to the one who remained. “I take it, you are
a new comer in New York journalism. What is your name?” he asked.

“My name is Homer Lee,” said the Southerner. “I am a New Orleans boy.
I’ve been only a month in your city. Judge,” he began earnestly, but in
a voice which still held the drawl of the South, “I met a man from home
last week on Broadway. He belonged to that spiritualistic school on
Carondelet Street. He knows all that’s going on in the spook world,
and he tells me the ghost raisers have got their hooks into the old man
pretty deep. Is that so?”

The bewilderment of Judge Gaylor was complete and, without question,
genuine.

“I don’t know what you mean,” he said.

“My informant tells me,” continued the reporter, “that Mr. Hallowell has
embraced--if that’s what you call it--spiritualism.”

Gaylor started forward.

“What!” he roared.

Unmoved, the other regarded the Judge keenly.

“Spiritualism,” he repeated, “and that a bunch of these mediums have got
him so hypnotized he can’t call his soul his own, or his money, either.
Is that true?”

Judge Gaylor’s outburst was overwhelming. That it was genuine Mr. Lee,
observing him closely, was convinced.

“Of all the outrageous, ridiculous”--the judge halted, gasping for
words--“and libelous statements!” he went on. “If you print that,”
 he thundered, “Mr. Hallowell will sue your paper for half a million
dollars. Can’t you see the damage you would do? Can’t your people see
that if the idea got about that he was unable to direct his own affairs,
that he was in the hands of mediums, it would invalidate everything he
does? After his death, every act of his at this time, every paper he
had signed, would be suspected, and--and”--stammered the Judge as his
imagination pictured what might follow--“they might even attack his
will!” He advanced truculently. “Do you mean to publish this libel?”

Lee moved his shoulders in deprecation. “I’m afraid we must,” he said.

“You must!” demanded Gaylor. “After what I’ve told you? Do you think I’m
lying to you?”

“No,” said the reporter; “I don’t think you are. Looks more like you
didn’t know.”

“Not know? I?” Gaylor laughed hysterically. “I am his lawyer. I am his
best friend! Who will you believe?” He stepped to the table and pressed
an electric button, and Garrett appeared in the hall. “Tell Dr. Rainey I
want to see him,” Gaylor commanded, “and return with him.”

As they waited, Judge Gaylor paced quickly to and fro. “I’ve had to deny
some pretty silly stories about Mr. Hallowell,” he said, “but of all
the absurd, malicious--There’s some enemy back of this; some one in Wall
Street is doing this. But I’ll find him--I’ll--” he was interrupted
by the entrance of the butler and Dr. Rainey, Mr. Hallowell’s personal
physician.

Rainey was a young man with a weak face, and knowing, shifting eyes
that blinked behind a pair of eyeglasses. To conceal an indecision of
character of which he was quite conscious, he assumed a manner that,
according to whom he addressed, was familiar or condescending. At one
of the big hospitals he had been an ambulance surgeon and resident
physician, later he had started upon a somewhat doubtful career as a
medical “expert.” Only two years had passed since the police and
the reporters of the Tenderloin had ceased calling him “Doc.” In a
celebrated criminal case in which Gaylor had acted as chief counsel, he
had found Rainey complaisant and apparently totally without the moral
sense. And when in Garrett he had discovered for Mr. Hallowell a model
servant, he had also urged upon his friend, for his resident physician,
his protege Rainey.

Still at white heat, the older man began abruptly: “This gentleman is
from the Republic. He is going to publish a story that Mr. Hallowell has
fallen under the influence of mediums, clairvoyants; that everything he
does is on advice from the spirit world--” he turned sharply upon Lee.
“Is that right?” The reporter nodded.

“You can see the effect of such a story. It would invalidate every act
of Mr. Hallowell’s!”

Dr. Rainey laughed offensively.

“It might,” he said, “but who’d believe it?”

“He believes it!” cried Gaylor, “or he pretends to believe it. Tell
him!” he commanded. “He won’t believe me. Does Mr. Hallowell associate
with mediums, and spirits--and spooks?”

Again the young doctor laughed.

“Of course not!” he exclaimed. “It’s not worth answering, Judge. You
ought to treat it with silent contempt.” From behind his glasses he
winked at the reporter with a jocular, intimate smile. He was adapting
himself to what he imagined was his company. “Where did you pick up that
pipe dream?” he asked.

Without answering, the Southerner regarded him steadily with inquiring,
interested eyes. The doctor coughed nervously and turned to Judge
Gaylor. In the manner of a cross-examination Gaylor called up his next
witness.

“Garrett, does any one visit Mr. Hallowell without your knowledge?” he
asked. “You may not open the door for him, but you know every one who
gets in to see Mr. Hallowell, do you not?”

“Every one, sir.”

“Do you admit any mediums, palm-readers, or people of that sort?”

“Certainly not,” returned the butler.

“Dr. Rainey,” he added, “would not permit it, sir.”

Gaylor stamped his foot with impatience.

“Do you admit any one,” he demanded, “without Dr. Rainey’s permission?”

“No, sir!” The reply could not have rung with greater emphasis.
Triumphantly, Gaylor, with a wave of the hand, as though saying, “Take
the witness,” turned to Lee. “There you are,” he cried. “Now, are you
satisfied?”

The reporter moved slowly toward the door. “I am satisfied,” he said,
“that the man doesn’t admit any one without Dr. Rainey’s permission.”

Indignantly, as though to intercept him, Judge Gaylor stepped forward.
Both Rainey and himself spoke together.

“What do you mean by that?” Rainey demanded.

“Are you trying to be insolent, sir?” cried the Judge.

Lee smiled pleasantly. “I had no intention of being insolent,” he said.
“We have the facts--I only came to give you a chance to explain them.”

Gaylor lost all patience.

“What facts?” he shouted. “What facts? That mediums come here?”

“Yes,” said Lee.

“When?” Gaylor cried. “Tell me that! When?”

Lee regarded the older man thoughtfully.

“Well, today is Thursday,” he said. “They were here Monday morning, and
Tuesday morning--and--the one they call Vera--will be here in half an
hour.”

Rainey ran across the room, stretching out eager, detaining hands.

“See here!” he begged. “We can fix this!”

“Fix it?” said the reporter. “Not with me, you can’t.” He turned to the
door and found Garrett barring his exit. He halted, fell back on his
heels, and straightened his shoulders. For the first time they saw how
tall he was.

“Get out of my way,” he said. The butler hesitated and fell back. Lee
walked into the hall.

“I’ll leave you gentlemen to fight it out among you,” he said. “It’s a
better story than I thought.”

As he descended to the floor below, the men remained motionless. The
face of Judge Gaylor seemed to have grown older. When the front
door closed, he turned and searched the countenance of each of his
companions. The butler had dropped into a chair muttering and beating
his fist into his open palm.

Gaylor’s voice was hardly louder than a whisper. “Is this true?” he
asked.

Like a cur dog pinned in a corner and forced to fight, Rainey snarled at
him evilly. “Of course it’s true,” he said.

“You’ve let these people see him!” cried Gaylor. “After I forbade it?
After I told you what would happen?”

“He would see them,” Rainey answered hotly. “Twas better I chose them
than--”

Gaylor raised his clenched hands and took a sudden step forward. The
Doctor backed hastily against the library table. “Don’t you come near
me!” he stammered. “Don’t you touch me.”

“And you’ve lied to me!” cried Gaylor. “You’ve deceived me. You--you
jailbirds--you idiots.” His voice rose hysterically. “And do you think,”
 he demanded fiercely, “I’ll help you now?”

“No!” said the butler.

The word caught the Judge in the full rush of his anger. He turned
stupidly as though he had not heard aright. “What?” he asked. From the
easy chair the butler regarded him with sullen, hostile eyes.

“No!” he repeated. “We don’t think you’ll help us. You never meant to
help us. You’ve never thought of any one but yourself.”

The face of the older man was filled with reproach.

“Jim!” he protested.

“Don’t do that!” commanded the butler sharply. “I’ve told you not to do
that.”

The Judge moved his head slowly in amazement. The tone of reproach was
still in his voice.

“I thought you could understand,” he said. “It doesn’t matter about him.
But you! You should have seen what I was doing!”

“I saw what you were doing,” the butler replied. “Buying stocks, buying
a country place. You didn’t wait for him to die. What were we getting?”

With returning courage, Rainey nodded vigorously.

“That’s right, all right,” he protested. “What were we getting?”

“What were you getting?” demanded Gaylor, eagerly. “If you’d only left
him to me, till he signed the new will, you’d have had everything. It
only needs his signature.”

“Yes,” interrupted Garrett contemptuously; “that’s all it needs.”

“Oh, he’d have signed it!” cried Gaylor. “But what’s it worth now!
Nothing! Thanks to you two--nothing! They’ll claim undue influence,
they’ll claim he signed it under the influence of mediums--of ghosts.”
 His voice shook with anger and distress. “You’ve ruined me!” he cried.
“You’ve ruined me.”

He turned and paced from them, his fingers interlacing, his teeth
biting upon his lower lip. The two other men glanced at each other
uncomfortably; their silence seemed to assure Gaylor that already they
regretted what they had done. He stood over Garrett, and for an instant
laid his hand upon his shoulder. His voice now was sane and cold.

“I’ve worked three years for this,” he said. “And for you, too, Jim. You
know that. I’ve worked on his vanity, on his fear of death, on his damn
superstition. When he talked of restitution, of giving the money to
his niece, I asked Why?’ I said, Leave it for a great monument to your
memory. Isn’t it better that ten million dollars should be spent in good
works in your name than that it should go to a chit of a child to
be wasted by some fortune hunter? And--then--I evolved the Hallowell
Institute, university, hospital, library, all under one roof, all
under one direction; and I would have been the director. We should have
handled ten millions of dollars! I’d have made you both so rich,” he
cried savagely, “that in two years you’d have drunk yourselves into
a mad-house. And you couldn’t trust me! You’ve filled this house with
fakes and palm-readers. And, now, every one will know just what he
is--a senile, half-witted old man who was clay in my hands, clay in my
hands--and you’ve robbed me of him, you’ve robbed me of him!” His voice,
broken with anger and disappointment, rose in an hysterical wail. As
though to meet it a bell rang shrilly. Gaylor started and stood with
eyes fixed on the door of the bedroom. The three men eyed each other
guiltily.

The butler was the first to recover. With mask-like face he hastened
noiselessly across the room. In his tones of usual authority, Gaylor
stopped him.

“Tell Mr. Hallowell,” he directed, “that his niece and District Attorney
Winthrop will be here any moment. Ask him if he wishes me to see them,
or if he will talk to them himself?”

When the faithful servant had entered the bedroom Gaylor turned to
Rainey.

“When do these mediums come today?” he asked.

Rainey stared sulkily at the floor.

“I think they’re here now--downstairs,” he answered. “Garrett generally
hides them there till you’re out of the house.”

“Indeed,” commented Gaylor dryly. “After Winthrop and Miss Coates have
gone, I want to talk with your friends.”

“Now, see here, Judge,” whined Rainey; “don’t make trouble. It isn’t as
bad as you think. The old man’s only investigating--”

“Hush!” commanded the Judge.

From the bedroom, leaning on the butler’s arm, Stephen Hallowell came
stumbling toward them and, with a sigh, sank into an invalid’s chair
that was placed for him between the fire and the long library table..
He was a very feeble, very old man, with a white face, and thin, white
hair, but with a mouth and lower jaw as hard and uncompromising as those
of a skull. His eyes, which were strangely brilliant and young-looking,
peered suspiciously from under ragged white eyebrows. But when they fell
upon the doctor, the eyes became suddenly credulous, pleading, filled
with self-pity.

“I’m a very sick man, Doctor,” said Mr. Hallowell.

Judge Gaylor bustled forward cheerily. “Nonsense, Stephen, nonsense,” he
cried; “you look a different man this morning. Doesn’t he, Doctor?”

“Sure he does!” assented Rainey. “Little sleep was all he needed.” Mr.
Hallowell shook his head petulantly. “Not at all!” he protested. “That
was a very serious attack. This morning my head hurts--hurts me to
think--”

“Perhaps,” said Gaylor, “you’d prefer that I talked to your niece.”

“No!” exclaimed the invalid excitedly. “I want to see her myself. I want
to tell her, once and for all--” He checked himself and frowned at the
Doctor. “You needn’t wait,” he said. “And Doctor,” he added meaningly,
“after these people go, you come back.”

With a conscious glance at the Judge, Rainey nodded and left them.

“No,” continued the old man; “I want to talk to my niece myself. But I
don’t want to talk to Winthrop. He’s too clever a young man, Winthrop.
In the merger case, you remember--had me on the stand for three hours.
Made me talk too.” The mind of the old man suddenly veered at a tangent.
“How the devil can Helen retain him?” he demanded peevishly. “She can’t
retain him. She hasn’t any money. And he’s District Attorney too. It’s
against the law. Is he doing it as a speculation? Does he want to marry
her?”

Judge Gaylor laughed soothingly.

“Heavens, no!” he said. “She’s in his office, that’s all. When she
took this craze to be independent of you, he gave her a position as
secretary, or as stenographer, or something. She’s probably told him her
story, her side of it, and he’s helping her out of charity.” The Judge
smiled tolerantly. “He does that sort of thing, I believe.”

The old man struck the library table with his palm. “I wish he’d mind
his own business,” he cried. “It’s my money. She has no claim to it,
never had any claim--”

The Judge interrupted quickly.

“That’s all right, Stephen; that’s all right,” he said. “Don’t excite
yourself. Just get what you’re to say straight in your mind and stick to
it. Remember,” he went on, as though coaching a child in a task already
learned, “there never was a written agreement.

“No!” muttered Hallowell. “Never was!”

“Repeat this to yourself,” commanded the Judge. “The understanding
between you and your brother-in-law was that if you placed his patent
on the market, for the first five years you would share the profits
equally. After the five years, all rights in the patent became yours. It
was unfortunate,” commented the Judge dryly, “that your brother-in-law
and your sister died before the five years were up, especially as
the patent did not begin to make money until after five years.
Remember--until after five years.”

“Until after five years,” echoed Mr. Hallowell. “It was over six years,”
 he went on excitedly, “before it made a cent. And, then, it was my
money--and anything I give my niece is charity. She’s not entitled--”

Garrett appeared at the door. “Miss Coates,” he announced, “and Mr.
Winthrop.” Judge Gaylor raised a hand for silence, and as Mr. Hallowell
sank back in his chair, Helen Coates, the only child of Catherine
Coates, his sister, and the young District Attorney of New York came
into the library. Miss Coates was a woman of between twenty-five and
thirty, capable, and self-reliant. She had a certain beauty of a severe
type, but an harassed expression about her eyes made her appear to be
always frowning. At times, in a hardening of the lower part of her face,
she showed a likeness to her uncle. Like him, in speaking, also, her
manner was positive and decided.

In age the young man who accompanied her was ten years her senior, but
where her difficulties had made her appear older than she really was,
the enthusiasm with which he had thrown himself against those of his own
life, had left him young.

The rise of Winthrop had been swift and spectacular. Almost as soon as
he graduated from the college in the little “up-state” town where he
had been educated, and his family had always lived, he became the
prosecuting attorney of that town, and later, at Albany, represented
the district in the Assembly. From Albany he entered a law office in
New York City, and in the cause of reform had fought so many good fights
that on an independent ticket, much to his surprise, he had been lifted
to the high position he now held. No more in his manner than in his
appearance did Winthrop suggest the popular conception of his role. He
was not professional, not mysterious. Instead, he was sane, cheerful,
tolerant. It was his philosophy to believe that the world was innocent
until it was proved guilty.

He was a bachelor and, except for two sisters who had married men of
prominence in New York and who moved in a world of fashion into which he
had not penetrated, he was alone.

When the visitors entered, Mr. Hallowell, without rising, greeted his
niece cordially.

“Ah, Helen! I am glad to see you,” he called, and added reproachfully,
“at last.”

“How do you do, sir?” returned Miss Helen stiffly. With marked
disapproval she bowed to Judge Gaylor.

“And our District Attorney,” cried Mr. Hallowell. “Pardon my not rising,
won’t you? I haven’t seen you, sir, since you tried to get the Grand
Jury to indict me.” He chucked delightedly. “You didn’t succeed,” he
taunted.

Winthrop shook hands with him, smiling, “Don’t blame me,” he said, “I
did my best. I’m glad to see you in such good spirits, Mr. Hallowell. I
feared, by the Despatch--”

“Lies, lies,” interrupted Hallowell curtly. “You know Judge Gaylor?”

As he shook hands, Winthrop answered that the Judge and he were old
friends; that they knew each other well.

“Know each other so well!” returned the Judge, “that we ought to be old
enemies.”

The younger man nodded appreciatively. “That’s true!” he laughed, “only
I didn’t think you’d admit it.”

With light sarcasm Mr. Hallowell inquired whether Winthrop was with them
in his official capacity.

“Oh, don’t suggest that!” begged Winthrop; “you’ll be having me indicted
next. No sir, I am here without any excuse whatsoever. I am just
interfering as a friend of this young lady.”

“Good,” commented Hallowell. “I’d be sorry to have my niece array
counsel against me--especially such distinguished counsel. Sit down,
Helen.”

Miss Coates balanced herself on the edge of a chair and spoke in cool,
business-like tones, “Mr. Hallowell,” she began, “I came.”

“Mr. Hallowell?” objected her uncle.

“Uncle Stephen,” Miss Coates again began, “I wish to be as brief as
possible. I asked you to see me today because I hoped that by talking
things over we might avoid lawsuits and litigation.”

Mr. Hallowell nodded his approval. “Yes,” he said encouragingly.

“I have told Mr. Winthrop what the trouble is,” Miss Coates went on,
“and he agrees with me that I have been very unjustly treated--”

“By whom?” interrupted Hallowell.

“By you,” said his niece.

“Wait, Helen,” commanded the old man. “Have you also told Mr. Winthrop,”
 he demanded, “that I have made a will in your favor? That, were I to
die tonight, you would inherit ten millions of dollars? Is that the
injustice of which you complain?”

Judge Gaylor gave an exclamation of pleasure.

“Good!” he applauded. “Excellent!”

Hallowell turned indignantly to Winthrop. “And did she tell you also,”
 he demanded, “that for three years I have urged her to make a home in
this house? That I have offered her an income as large as I would
give my own daughter, and that she has refused both offers. And what’s
more”--in his excitement his voice rose hysterically--“by working
publicly for her living she has made me appear mean and uncharitable,
and--”

“That’s just it,” interrupted Miss Coates. “It isn’t a question of
charity.”

“Will you allow me?” said Winthrop soothingly. “Your niece contends,
sir,” he explained, “that this money you offered her is not yours to
offer. She claims it belongs to her. That it’s what should have been her
father’s share of the profits on the Coates-Hallowell coupling pin. But,
as you have willed your niece so much money, although half of it is
hers already, I advised her not to fight. Going to law is an expensive
business. But she has found out--and that’s what brings me uptown this
morning--that you intend to make a new will, and leave all her money and
your own to establish the Hallowell Institute. Now,” Winthrop continued,
with a propitiating smile, “Miss Coates also would like to be a
philanthropist, in her own way, with her own money. And she wishes to
warn you that, unless you deliver up what is due her, she will proceed
against you.”

Judge Gaylor was the first to answer.

“Mr. Winthrop,” he said impressively, “I give you my word, there is not
one dollar due Miss Coates, except what Mr. Hallowell pleases to give
her.”

Miss Coates contradicted him sharply. “That is not so,” she said. She
turned to her uncle, “You and my father,” she declared, “agreed in
writing you would share the profits always.” Mr. Hallowell looked from
his niece to his lawyer. The lawyer, eyeing him apprehensively, nodded.
With the patient voice of one who tried to reason with an unreasonable
child, Mr. Hallowell began. “Helen,” he said, “I have told you many
times there never was such an agreement. There was a verbal--”

“And I repeat, I saw it,” said Miss Coates.

“When?” asked Hallowell.

“I saw it first when I was fifteen,” answered the young woman steadily,
“and two years later, before mother died, she showed it to me again. It
was with father’s papers.”

“Miss Coates,” asked the Judge, “where is this agreement now?”

For a moment Miss Coates hesitated. Her dislike for Gaylor was so
evident that, to make it less apparent, she lowered her eyes. “My
uncle should be able to tell you,” she said evenly. “He was my father’s
executor. But, when he returned my father’s papers”--she paused and
then, although her voice fell to almost a whisper, continued defiantly,
“the agreement was not with them.”

There was a moment’s silence. To assure himself the others had heard as
he did, Mr. Hallowell glanced quickly from Winthrop to Gaylor. He half
rose from his chair and leaned across the table.

“What!” he demanded. His niece looked at him steadily.

“You heard what I said,” she answered.

The old man leaned farther forward.

“So!” he cried; “so! I am not only doing you an injustice, but I am
a thief! Mr. Winthrop,” he cried appealingly, “do you appreciate the
seriousness of this?”

Winthrop nodded cheerfully. “It’s certainly pretty serious,” he
assented.

“It is so serious,” cried Mr. Hallowell, “that I welcome you into this
matter. Now, we will settle it once and forever.” He turned to his
niece. “I have tried to be generous,” he cried; “I have tried to be
kind, and you insult me in my own house.” He pressed the button that
summoned the butler from the floor below. “Gentlemen, this interview is
at an end. From now on this matter is in the hands of my lawyer. We will
settle this in the courts.”

With an exclamation of pleasure that was an acceptance of his challenge,
Miss Coates rose.

“That is satisfactory to me,” she said. Winthrop turned to Mr.
Hallowell.

“Could I have a few minutes talk with Judge Gaylor now?” he asked. “Not
as anybody’s counsel,” he explained; “just as an old enemy of his?”

“Well, not here,” protested the old man querulously. “I’m--I’m expecting
some friends here. Judge, take Mr. Winthrop to the drawing room
downstairs.” He turned to Garrett, who had appeared in answer to his
summons, and told him to bring Dr. Rainey to the library. The butler
left the room and, as Gaylor and Winthrop followed, the latter asked
Miss Coates if he might expect to see her at the “Office.” She told him
that she was now on her way there. Without acknowledging the presence
of her uncle, she had started to follow the others, when Mr. Hallowell
stopped her.

After they were alone, for a moment he sat staring at her, his eyes
filled with dislike and with a suggestion of childish spite. “I might as
well tell you,” he began, “that after what you said this morning, I will
never give you a single dollar of my money.”

The tone in which his niece replied to him was no more conciliatory than
his own. “You cannot give it to me,” she answered, “because it is not
yours to give.” As though to add impressiveness to what she was about
to say, or to prevent his interrupting her, she raised her hand. So
interested in each other were the old man and the girl that neither
noticed the appearance in the door of Dr. Rainey and the butler, who
halted, hesitating, waiting permission to enter.

“That money belongs to me,” said Miss Coates slowly, “and as sure as
my mother is in Heaven and her spirit is guiding me, that money will be
given me.”

In the pause that followed, a swift and singular change came over the
face of Mr. Hallowell. He stared at his niece as though fascinated.
His lower lip dropped in awe. The look of hostility gave way to one of
intense interest. His voice was hardly louder than a whisper.

“What do you mean?” he demanded.

The girl looked at him, uncomprehending. “What do I mean?” she repeated.

“When you said,” he stammered eagerly, “that the spirit of your mother
was guiding you, what did you mean?”

In the doorway, Rainey and the butler started. Each threw the other a
quick glance of concern.

“Why,” exclaimed the girl impatiently, “her influence, her example, what
she taught me.”

“Oh!” exclaimed the old man. He leaned back with an air almost of
disappointment.

“When she was alive?” he said.

“Of course,” answered the girl.

“Of course,” repeated the uncle. “I thought you meant--” He looked
suspiciously at her and shook his head. “Never mind,” he added. “Well,”
 he went on cynically, striving to cover up the embarrassment of the
moment, “your mother’s spirit will probably feel as deep an interest in
her brother as in her daughter. We shall see, we shall see which of us
two she is going to help.” He turned to Garrett and Rainey in the hall.
“Take my niece to the door, Garrett,” he directed.

As soon as Miss Coates had disappeared, Hallowell turned to Rainey, his
face lit with pleased and childish anticipation.

“Well,” he whispered eagerly, “is she here?”

Rainey nodded and glanced in the direction opposite to the one Miss
Coates had taken. “She’s been waiting half an hour. And the Professor
too.”

“Bring them at once,” commanded Mr. Hallowell excitedly. “And then shut
the door--and--and tell the Judge I can’t see him--tell him I’m too
tired to see him. Understand?”

Rainey peered cautiously over the railing of the stairs to the first
floor, and then beckoned to some one who apparently was waiting at the
end of the hall.

“Miss Vera, sir,” he announced, “and Professor Vance.”

Although but lately established in New York, the persons Dr. Rainey
introduced had already made themselves comparatively well-known. For the
last six weeks as “headliners” at one of the vaudeville theatres, and
as entertainers at private houses, under the firm name of “The Vances,”
 they had been giving an exhibition of code and cipher signaling. They
called it mind reading. During the day, at the house of Vance and his
wife, the girl, as “Vera, the Medium,” furnished to all comers memories
of the past or news of the future. In their profession, in all of its
branches, the man and the girl were past masters. They knew it from the
A, B, C of the dream book to the post-graduate work of projecting from a
cabinet the spirits of the dead. As the occasion offered and paid
best, they were mind readers, clairvoyants, materializing mediums, test
mediums. From them, a pack of cards, a crystal globe, the lines of the
human hand, held no secrets. They found lost articles, cast horoscopes,
gave advice in affairs of the heart, of business and speculation,
uttered warnings of journeys over seas and against a smooth-shaven
stranger. They even stooped to foretell earthquakes, or caused to drop
fluttering from the ceiling a letter straight from the Himalayas. Among
those who are the gypsies of the cities, they were the aristocrats of
their calling, and to them that calling was as legitimate a business as
is, to the roadside gypsy, the swapping of horses. The fore-parents
of each had followed that same calling, and to the children it was
commonplace and matter-of-fact. It held no adventure, no moral obloquy.

“Prof.” Paul Vance was a young man of under forty years. He looked like
a fox. He had red eyes, alert and cunning, a long, sharp-pointed nose,
a pointed red beard, and red eyebrows that slanted upward. His hair,
standing erect in a pompadour, and his uplifted eyebrows gave him the
watchful look of the fox when he hears suddenly the hound baying in
pursuit. But no one had ever successfully pursued Vance. No one had ever
driven him into a corner from which, either pleasantly, or with raging
indignation, he was not able to free himself. Seven years before he had
disloyally married out of the “profession” and for no other reason than
that he was in love with the woman he married. She had come to seek
advice from the spirit world in regard to taking a second husband. After
several visits the spirit world had advised Vance to advise her to marry
Vance.

She did so, and though the man was still in love with his wife, he had
not found her, in his work, the assistance he had hoped she might
be. She still was a “believer”; in the technical vernacular of her
husband--“a dope.” Not even the intimate knowledge she had gained
behind the scenes could persuade her that Paul, her husband, was not in
constant communication with the spirit world, or that, if he wished, he
could not read the thoughts that moved slowly through her pretty head.

At the time of his marriage, the girl Vera, then a child of fourteen,
had written to Vance for help. She was ill, without money, and asked for
work. To him she was known as the last of a long line of people who had
always been professional mediums and spiritualists, and, out of
charity and from a sense of noblesse oblige to one of the elect of the
profession, Vance had made her his assistant. He had never regretted
having done so. The bread cast upon the waters was returned a
thousandfold. From the first, the girl brought in money. And his wife,
the older of the two, had welcomed her as a companion. After a fashion
the Vances had adopted her. In the advertisements she was described as
their “ward.”

Vera now was twenty-one, tall, wonderfully graceful, and of the most
enchanting loveliness. Her education had been cosmopolitan. In the
largest cities of America she had met persons of every class--young
women, old women, mothers with married sons and daughters; women of
society as it is exploited in the Sunday supplements; school girls, shop
girls, factory girls--all had told her their troubles; and men of every
condition had come to scoff and had remained to express, more or less
offensively, their admiration. Some of the younger of these, after a
first visit, returned the day following, and each begged the beautiful
priestess of the occult to fly with him, to live with him, to marry
him. When this happened Vera would touch a button, and “Mannie” Day,
who admitted visitors, and later, in the hall, searched their hats and
umbrellas for initials, came on the run and threw the infatuated one out
upon a cold and unfeeling sidewalk.

So Vera had seen both the seamy side of life and, in the drawing rooms
where Vance and she exhibited their mind reading tricks, had been made
much of by great ladies and, for an hour as brief as Cinderella’s,
had looked upon a world of kind and well-bred people. Since she was
fourteen, for seven years, this had been her life--a life as open to
the public as the life of an actress, as easy of access as that of
the stenographer in the hotel lobby. As a result, the girl had encased
herself in a defensive armor of hardness and distrust, a protection
which was rendered futile by the loveliness of her face, by the softness
of her voice, by the deep, brooding eyes, and the fine forehead on
which, like a crown, rested the black waves of her hair.

In her work Vera accepted, without question, the parts to which Vance
assigned her. When in their mummeries they were successful, she neither
enjoyed the credulity of those they had tricked nor was sobered with
remorse. In the world Vance found a certain number of people with money
who demanded to be fooled. It was his business and hers to meet that
demand. If ever the conscience of either stirred restlessly, Vance
soothed it by the easy answer that if they did not take the money some
one else would. It was all in the day’s work. It was her profession.

As she entered the library of Mr. Hallowell, which, with Vance, she
already had visited several times, she looked like a child masquerading
in her mother’s finery. She suggested an ingenue who had been suddenly
sent on in the role of the Russian adventuress. Her slight girl’s figure
was draped in black lace. Her face was shaded by a large picture
hat, heavy with drooping ostrich feathers; around her shoulders was a
necklace of jade, and on her wrists many bracelets of silver gilt. When
she moved they rattled. As the girl advanced, smiling, to greet Mr.
Hallowell, she suddenly stopped, shivered slightly, and threw her right
arm across her eyes. Her left arm she stretched over the table.

“Give me your hand!” she commanded. Dubiously, with a watchful glance at
Vance, Mr. Hallowell leaned forward and took her hand.

“You have been ill,” cried the girl; “very ill--I see you--I see you
in a kind of faint--very lately.” Her voice rose excitedly. “Yes, last
night.”

Mr. Hallowell protested with indignation. “You read that in the morning
paper,” he said.

Vera lowered her arm from her eyes and turned them reproachfully on him.

“I don’t read the Despatch,” she answered.

Mr. Hallowell drew back suspiciously. “I didn’t say it was the
Despatch,” he returned.

Vance quickly interposed. “You don’t have to say it,” he explained
with glibness; “you thought it. And Vera read your thoughts. You
were thinking of the Despatch, weren’t you? Well, there you are! It’s
wonderful!”

“Wonderful? Nonsense!” mocked Mr. Hallowell. “She did read it in the
paper or Rainey told her.”

The girl shrugged her shoulders patiently. “If you would rather find
out you were ill from the newspapers than from the spirit world,” she
inquired, “why do you ask me here?”

“I ask you here, young woman,” exclaimed Hallowell, sinking back in his
chair, “because I hoped you would tell me something I can’t learn from
the newspapers. But you haven’t been able to do it yet. My dear young
lady,” exclaimed the old man wistfully, “I want to believe, but I must
be convinced. No tricks with me! I can explain how you might have found
out everything you have told me. Give me a sign!” He beat the flat of
his hand upon the table. “Show me something I can’t explain!”

“Mr. Hallowell is quite right, Vera,” said Vance. “He is entering what
is to him a new world, full of mysteries, and that caution which in this
world has made him so successful--”

With an exclamation, Hallowell cut short the patter of the showman.

“Yes, yes,” he interrupted petulantly; “I tell you, I want to believe.
Convince me.”

Considering the situation with pursed lips and thoughtful eyes, Vera
gazed at the old man, frowning. Finally she asked, “Have you witnessed
out demonstrations of mind reading?”

Mr. Hallowell snorted. “Certainly not,” he replied; “it’s a trick!”

“A trick!” cried the girl indignantly, “to read a man’s mind--to see
right through your forehead, through your skull, into your brain? Is
that a trick?” She turned sharply to Vance. “Show him!” she commanded;
“show him!” She crossed rapidly to the window and stood looking down
into the street, with her back to the room.

Vance, with his back turned to Vera, stood close to the table, on the
other side of which Hallowell was reclining in his arm chair. Vance
picked up a pen holder.

“Think of what I have in my hand, please,” he said. “What is this,
Vera?” he asked. The girl, gazing from the window at the traffic in the
avenue below her, answered with indifference, “A pen holder.”

“Yes, what about it?” snapped Vance.

“Gold pen holder,” Vera answered more rapidly. “Much engraving--initials
S. H.--Mr. Hallowell’s initials--”

“There is a date too. Can you--”

“December--” Vera hesitated.

“Go on,” commanded Vance.

“Twenty-five, one, eight, eight, six; one thousand eight hundred and
eighty-six.” She moved her shoulders impatiently.

“Oh, tell him to think of something difficult,” she said.

From behind Mr. Hallowell’s chair Rainey signaled to Vance to take
from the table a photograph frame of silver which held the picture of a
woman.

Vance picked it up, holding it close to him.

“What have I here, Vera?” he asked.

Hallowell, seeing what Vance held in his hand, leaned forward. “Put that
down!” he commanded. But Vera had already begun to answer.

“A picture, a picture of a young woman. Ask him to think of who it is
and I will tell him.”

At the words Mr. Hallowell hesitated, frowned, and then nodded.

“It is his sister,” called Vera. “Her name was--I seem to get a
Catherine--yes, that’s it; Catherine Coates. She is no longer with
us. She passed into the spirit world three years ago.” The girl turned
suddenly and approached the table, holding her head high, as though
offended.

“How do you explain that trick?” she demanded.

Mr. Hallowell moved uneasily in his chair. “Oh, the picture’s been on my
desk each time you’ve been here,” he answered dubiously. “Rainey could
have told you.”

“As a matter of fact, I didn’t,” said Rainey.

Hallowell’s eyes lightened with interest. “Didn’t you?” he asked. He
turned to Vera. “If you can read my mind,” he challenged--“you,” he
added, pointing at Vance, “keep out of this now--tell me of what I am
thinking.” As Vance drew back, Rainey and himself exchanged a quick
glance of apprehension, but the girl promptly closed her eyes, and at
once, in a dull, measured tone, began to speak.

“You were thinking you would like to ask a question of some one in the
spirit,” she recited. “But you are afraid. You do not trust me. You will
wait until I give you a sign; then you will ask that question of some
one dear to you, who has passed beyond, and she will answer, and your
troubles will be at an end.” She opened her eyes and stared at Mr.
Hallowell like one coming out of a dream. “What did I say?” she asked.
“Was I right?”

Hallowell slank back in his chair, shaking his head.

“Yes,” he began grudgingly, “but--”

With an eagerness hardly concealed, Vance interrupted.

“What is the question you wish to ask?” he begged.

With a frown of suspicion, Hallowell turned from him to Rainey.

“I don’t think I ought to let them know,” he questioned; “do you?” But
his attention was sharply diverted.

Vera, in a hushed and solemn voice, called for silence.

“My control,” she explained--her tone was deep and awestruck--“is trying
to communicate with me.”

Vance gave an exclamation of concern. The prospect of the phenomena
Vera promised seemed to fill him with delightful expectations. “Be very
quiet,” he cautioned, “do not disturb her.”

Deeply impressed, Mr. Hallowell struggled from his chair. Unaided, he
moved to below the table and leaning against it looked, with unwilling
but fascinated interest, at Vera’s uplifted face.

“Some one in the spirit,” Vera chanted, in an unemotional, drugged
voice, “wishes to speak to Mr. Hallowell. Give me your hand.”

“Quick!” directed Vance, “give her your hand. Take her hand.”

“Yes, he is here,” Vera continued. “A woman has a message for you, she
is standing close beside you. She is holding out her arms. And she
is trying, so hard, to tell you something. What is it?” the girl
questioned. “Oh, what is it? Tell me,” she begged. “Can’t you tell me?”

Hallowell eyed her greedily, waiting almost without breathing for her
words. The hand with which he held hers crushed her rings into her
fingers.

“What sort?”--whispered the old man. “What sort of a woman?”

With eyes still closed, swaying slightly and with abrupt shudders
running down her body, the girl continued in dull, fateful tones.

“She is a fair woman; about forty-five. She is speaking. She calls to
you, Brother, brother.” Vera’s voice rose excitedly. “It is the woman
in the picture; your sister! Catherine! I see it written above her
head--Catherine. In letters of light.” She turned suddenly and fiercely.
“Ask her your question!” she commanded. “Ask her your question, now!”

By the sudden swaying forward of Vance and Rainey, in the intent look
in their eyes, it was evident that a crisis had approached. But Mr.
Hallowell, terrified and trembling, shrank back. His voice broke
hysterically. “No, no!” he pleaded. Both anger and disappointment showed
in the face of Vance and Rainey; but the girl, as though detached from
any human concerns, continued unmoved. “I see another figure,” she
recited. “A young girl, but she is of this world. I seem to get an H.
Yes. Helen, in letters of fire.”

“My niece, Helen!” Hallowell whispered hoarsely.

“Yes, your niece,” chanted the girl. Her voice rose and thrilled. “And
I see much gold,” she cried. “Between the two women, heaps of gold.
Everywhere I look I see gold. And, now, the other woman, your sister, is
trying to speak to you. Listen! She calls to you, Brother!”

So centered was the interest of those in the room, so compelling the
sound of the girl’s voice, that, unnoticed, the sliding doors to the
library were slipped apart. Unobserved, Judge Gaylor and Winthrop halted
in the doorway. To the Judge the meaning of the scene was instantly
apparent. His face flushed furiously. Winthrop, uncomprehending, gazed
unconcerned over Gaylor’s shoulder. The voice of Vera rose hysterically
to her climax.

“She bids me tell you,” Vera cried; “Tell my brother--”

Gaylor swept toward her.

“What damned farce is this?” he shouted.

The effect of the interruption was instant and startling. Mr. Hallowell,
who, in the last few minutes, had believed he was listening to a voice
from the dead, collapsed upon the shoulder of Rainey, who sprang to
support him. Like a somnambulist wrenched from sleep, Vera gave a scream
of fright, half genuine, half assumed, and swayed as though about to
fall. Vance caught her in his arms. He turned on Gaylor, his cunning red
eyes flashing evilly.

“You brute!” he cried, “you might have killed her.”

Between her sobs, Vera, her head upon the shoulder of Vance, whispered a
question. As quickly, under cover of muttered sympathy, Vance answered:
“Gaylor. The Judge.”

Still slightly swaying, Vera stood upright. She passed her hand vaguely
before her eyes. “Where am I?” she asked feebly. “Where am I?”

Gaylor shook his fist at the girl.

“You know where you are!” he thundered; “and you know where you’re
going--you’re going to jail!”

In the hush that followed Vera drew herself to her full height. She
regarded Gaylor wonderingly, haughtily, as though he were some drunken
intruder from the street.

“Are you speaking to me?” she asked.

“Yes, to you,” shouted the lawyer. “You’re an imposter, and a swindler,
and--and--”

Winthrop pushed between them.

“Yes, and she’s a woman,” he said briskly. “If you want a row, talk to
the man.”

To this point the scene had brought to Vera no emotion save the
excitement that is felt by the one who is struggling to escape. The
appearance of a champion added a new interest. Through no fault of her
own, she had learned by experience that to the one man who annoyed her
there always were six to spring to her protection. So the glance she
covertly turned upon Winthrop was one less of gratitude than curiosity.

But at the first sight of him the girl started, her eyes lit with
recognition, her face flushed. And then, although the man was in no
way regarding her, her eyes filled, and in mortification and dismay she
blushed crimson.

His anger still unsatisfied, Gaylor turned upon Vance.

“And you,” he cried; “you’re going to jail too. I’ll drive--”

The voice of Mr. Hallowell, shaken with pain and distress, rose feebly,
beseechingly. “Henry!” he begged. “I can’t stand it!”

“Judge Gaylor!” thundered Rainey, “I won’t be responsible if you keep
this up.”

With an exclamation of remorse, Vera ran to the side of the old man.
With Rainey on his other hand, she raised him upright upon his feet.

“Lean on me,” begged the girl breathlessly. “I’m very strong. Lean on
me.”

Mr. Hallowell shook his head. “No, child,” he protested, “not you.” He
turned to his old friend. “You help me, Henry,” he begged.

With the authority of the medical man, Rainey waved Vance into the
bedroom. “Close those windows,” he ordered. “You help me!” he commanded
of Gaylor. “Put your arm under him.”

Mr. Hallowell, protesting feebly and leaning heavily upon the two men,
stumbled into the bedroom, and the door was shut behind him.

For a moment the girl and the man stood in silence, and then, as though
suddenly conscious of her presence, Winthrop turned and smiled.

The girl did not answer his smile. From under the shadow of the
picture hat and the ostrich feathers her eyes regarded him searchingly,
watchfully.

For the first time, Winthrop had the chance to observe her. He saw that
she was very young, that her clothes cruelly disguised her, that she was
only a child masquerading as a brigand, that her face was distractingly
lovely. Having noted this, the fact that she had driven several grown
men to abuse and vituperation struck him as being extremely humorous;
nor did he try to conceal his amusement. But the watchfulness in the
eyes of the girl did not relax.

“I’m afraid I interfered with your seance,” said the District Attorney.

The girl regarded him warily, like a fencer fixing her eyes on those
of her opponent. There was a pause which lasted so long that had the
silence continued it would have been rude. “Well,” the girl returned at
last, timidly, “that’s what the city expects you to do, is it not?”

Winthrop laughed. “How did you know who I was?” he asked, and then added
quickly, “Of course, you’re a mind reader.”

For the first time the girl smiled. Winthrop found it a charming smile,
wistful and confiding.

“I don’t have to ask the spirit world,” she said, “to tell me who is
District Attorney of New York.”

“Yes,” said the District Attorney; “yes, I suppose you have to be pretty
well acquainted with some of the laws--those about mediums?”

“If you knew as much about other laws,” began Vera, “as I do about the
law--” She broke off and again smiled upon him.

“Then you probably know,” said Winthrop, “that what our excited friend
said to you just now is legally quite true?”

The smile passed from the face of the girl. She looked at the young man
with fine disdain, as a great lady might reprove with a glance the man
who snapped a camera at her. “Yes?” she asked. “Well, what are you going
to do about it--arrest me?” Mocking him, in a burlesque of melodrama,
she held out her arms. “Don’t put the handcuffs on me,” she begged.

Winthrop found her impudence amusing; and, with the charm of her
novelty, he was conscious of a growing conviction that, somewhere, they
had met before; that already at a crisis she had come into his life.

“I won’t arrest you,” he said with a puzzled smile, “on one condition.”

“Ah!” mocked Vera; “he is generous.”

“And the condition is,” Winthrop went on seriously, “that you tell me
where we met before?”

The girl’s expression became instantly mask-like. To learn if he
suspected where it was that they had met, she searched his face quickly.
She was reassured that of the event he had no real recollection.

“That’s rather difficult, isn’t it,” she continued lightly, “when you
consider I’ve been giving exhibitions of mind readings for the last six
weeks on Broadway, and in the homes of people you probably know?”

“No,” Winthrop exclaimed eagerly, “it wasn’t in a theatre, and it wasn’t
in a private house. It was--” he shook his head helplessly, and looked
at her for assistance. “You don’t know, do you?”

The girl regarded him steadily. “How should I?” she said. And then, as
though decided upon a course of action of the wisdom of which she was
uncertain, she laughed uneasily.

“But the spirits would know,” she said. “I might ask them.”

“Do!” cried Winthrop, delightedly. “How much would that be?”

As though to reprove his flippancy, the girl frowned. With a nervous
tremor, which this time seemed genuine enough, she threw back her head,
closed her eyes, and laid her arm across her forehead.

Winthrop, unobserved, watched her with a smile, partly of amusement,
partly on account of her beauty, of admiration.

“I see--a court room,” said the girl. “It is very mean and bare. It is
somewhere up the State; in a small town. Outside, there are trees, and
the sun is shining, and people are walking in a public park. Inside, in
the prisoner’s dock, there is a girl. She has been arrested--for theft.
She has pleaded guilty! And I see--that she has been very ill--that she
is faint from shame--and fear--and lack of food. And there is a young
lawyer. He is defending her; he is asking the judge to be merciful,
because this is her first offence, because she stole the cloak to get
money to take her where she had been promised work. Because this is his
first case.”

Winthrop gave a gasp of disbelief.

“You don’t mean to tell me--” he cried.

“Hush!” commanded the girl. “And he persuades the judge to let her go,”
 she continued quickly, her voice shaking, “and he and the girl walk out
of the court house together. And he talks to her kindly, and gives her
money to pay her way to the people who have promised her work.”

Vera dropped her arm, and stepping back, faced Winthrop. Through her
tears her eyes were flashing proudly, gratefully; the feeling that shook
her made her voice vibrate. The girl seemed proud of her tears, proud of
her debt of gratitude.

“And I’ve never forgotten you,” she said, her voice eager and trembling,
“and what you did for me. And I’ve watched you come to this city, and
fight it, and fight it, until you made them put you where you are.” She
stopped to control her voice, and smiled at him. “And that’s why I knew
you were District Attorney,” she said; “and please--” she fumbled in
the mesh purse at her waist and taking a bill from it, threw it upon
the table. “And please, there’s the money I owe you, and--and--I thank
you--and goodbye.” She turned and almost ran from him toward the door to
the hall.

“Stop!” cried Winthrop.

Poised for flight, the girl halted, and looked back.

“When can I see you again?” said the man. The tone made it less a
question than a command.

In a manner as determined as his own, the girl shook her head.

“No!” she said.

“I must!” returned the man.

Again the girl shook her head, definitely, finally.

“It won’t help you in your work,” she pleaded, “to come to see me.”

“I must!” repeated Winthrop simply.

The eyes of the girl met his, appealingly, defiantly.

“You’ll be sorry,” said the girl.

Winthrop laughed an eager, boyish laugh. When he spoke the tenseness in
his voice had gone. His tone was confident, bantering.

“Then I will not come to see you,” he said.

Uncertain, puzzled, Vera looked at him in distress. She thought he was
mocking her.

“No?” she questioned.

“I’ll come to see Vera, the medium,” he explained.

Vera frowned, and then, in happy embarrassment, smiled wistfully.

“Oh, well,” she stammered; “of course, if you’re coming to consult me
professionally--my hours are from four to six.”

“I’ll be there,” cried the District Attorney.

Vera leaned forward eagerly.

“What day will you come?” she demanded.

“What day!” exclaimed the young man indignantly. “Why, this day!”

Vera gave a guilty, frightened laugh.

“Oh, will you?” she exclaimed delightedly. She clasped her fingers in a
gesture of dismay. “Oh, I hope you won’t be sorry!” she cried.

For some moments the District Attorney of New York stood looking at the
door through which she had disappeared.



Part II

The home of the Vances was in Thirty-fifth Street, nearly opposite the
Garrick Theatre. It was one of a row of old-fashioned brick houses with
high steps. As the seeker after truth entered the front hall, he saw
before him the stairs to the second story; on his right, the folding
doors of the “front parlor,” and at the far end of the hall, a single
door that led to what was, in the old days, before this row of houses
had been converted into offices, the family dining room. To Vera the
Vances had given the use of this room as a “reception parlor.” The
visitor first entered the room on his right, from it passed through
another pair of folding doors to the reception parlor, and then, when
his audience was at an end, departed by the single door to the hall, and
so, to the street.

The reception parlor bore but little likeness to a cave of mystery.
There were no shaded lights, no stuffed alligator, no Indian draperies,
no black cat. On a table, in the centre, under a heavy and hideous
chandelier with bronze gas jets, was a green velvet cushion. On this
nestled an innocent ball of crystal. Beside it lay the ivory knitting
needle with which Vera pointed out, in the hand of the visitor, those
lines that showed he would be twice married, was of an ambitious
temperament, and would make a success upon the stage. In a corner stood
a wooden cabinet that resembled a sentry box on wheels. It was from
this, on certain evenings, before a select circle of spiritualists, that
Vera projected the ghosts of the departed. Hanging inside the cabinet
was a silver-gilt crown and a cloak of black velvet, lined with purple
silk and covered in gold thread with signs of the zodiac.

Save that these stage properties illustrated the taste of Mabel Vance,
the room was of no interest. It held a rubber plant, a red velvet
rocking chair, across the back of which Mrs. Vance had draped a
Neapolitan scarf; an upright piano, upon which Emmanuel Day, or, as
he was known to the cross-roads of Broadway and Forty-second street,
“Mannie” Day, provoked the most marvelous rag-time, an enlarged
photograph in crayon, of Professor Vance, in a frock coat and lawn tie,
a china bull dog, coquettishly decorated with a blue bow, and, on the
mantel piece, two tall beer steins and a hand telephone. From the long
windows one obtained a view of the iron shutters of the new department
store in Thirty-fourth Street, and of a garden, just large enough to
contain a sumach tree, a refrigerator, and the packing-case in which the
piano had arrived.

After leaving Winthrop, without waiting for Vance, Vera had returned
directly to the house in Thirty-fifth Street, and locked herself in her
room. And although “Mannie” Day had already ushered two visitors into
the front room, Vera had not yet come downstairs. In consequence, Mabel
Vance was in possession of the reception parlor.

Mrs. Vance was plump, pink-and-blonde, credulous and vulgar, but at all
times of the utmost good humor. Her admiration for Vera was equaled only
by her awe of her. On this particular afternoon, although it already was
after five o’clock, Mrs. Vance still wore a short dressing sack, open at
the throat, and heavy with somewhat soiled lace. But her blonde hair was
freshly “marcelled,” and her nails pink and shining. In the absence of
Vera, she was making a surreptitious and guilty use of the telephone.
From the fact that in her left hand she held the morning telegraph open
at the “previous performances” of the horses, and that the page had been
cruelly lacerated by a hat pin, it was fair to suppose that whoever was
at the other end of the wire, was tempting her with the closing odds at
the races.

In her speculations, she was interrupted by “Mannie” Day, who entered
softy through the door from the hall.

“Mannie” Day was a youth of twenty-four. It was his heart’s desire to be
a “Broadwayard.” He wanted to know all of those, and to be known only by
those, who moved between the giant pillars that New York threw into the
sky to mark her progress North.

He knew the soiled White Way as the oldest inhabitant knows the single
street of the village. He knew it from the Rathskellers underground,
to the roof gardens in the sky; in his firmament the stars were the
electric advertisements over Long Acre Square, his mother earth was
asphalt, the breath of his nostrils gasolene, the telegraph was his
Bible. His grief was that no one in the Tenderloin would take him
seriously; would believe him wicked, wise, predatory. They might love
him, they might laugh with him, they might clamor for his company, in no
flat that could boast a piano, was he not, on his entrance, greeted with
a shout; but the real Knights of the Highway treated him always as the
questioning, wide-eyed child. In spite of his after-midnight pallor, in
spite of his honorable scars of dissipation, it was his misfortune to be
cursed with a smile that was a perpetual plea of “not guilty.”

“What can you expect?” an outspoken friend, who made a living as a
wireless wire tapper, had once pointed out to him. “That smile of yours
could open a safe. It could make a show girl give up money! It’s an
alibi for everything from overspeeding to murder.”

Mannie, as he listened, flushed with mortification. From that moment
he determined that his life should be devoted to giving the lie to that
smile, to that outward and visible sign of kindness, good will, and
innate innocence. As yet, he had not succeeded.

He interrupted Mabel at the telephone to inquire the whereabouts of
Vera. “There’s two girls in there, now,” he said, “waiting to have their
fortunes doped.”

“Let’em wait!” exclaimed Mabel. “Vera’s upstairs dressing.” In her eyes
was the baleful glare of the plunger. “What was that you give me in the
third race?”

At the first touch of the ruling passion, what interest Mannie may
have felt for the impatient visitors vanished. “Not in the third,” he
corrected briskly. “Keene entry win the third.”

Mabel appealed breathlessly to the telephone. “What price the Keene
entry in the third?” She turned to Mannie with reproachful eyes. “Even
money!” she complained.

“That’s what I told you,” retorted Mannie. He lowered his voice, and
gazed apprehensively toward the front parlor. “If you want a really good
thing,” he whispered hoarsely, “ask Joe what Pompadour is in the fifth!”
 Mabel laughed scornfully, disappointedly.

“Pompadour!” she mocked.

“That’s right!” cried the expert. “That’s the one daily hint from Paris
today. Joe will give you thirty to one.”

Upon the defenseless woman he turned the full force of his accursed
smile. “Put five on for me, Mabel?” he begged.

With unexpected determination of character Mabel declared sharply that
she would do nothing of the sort.

“Two, then?” entreated the boy.

“Where,” demanded Mabel unfeelingly, “is the twenty you owe me now?”

The abruptness of this unsportsmanlike blow below the belt caused Mannie
to wince.

“How do I know where it is?” he protested. “As long as you haven’t got
it, why do you care where it is?” He heard the door from the hall open
and, turning, saw Vera. He appealed to her. “Vera,” he cried, “You’ll
loan me two dollars? I stand to win sixty. I’ll give you thirty.”

Vera looked inquiringly at Mabel. “What is it, Mabel,” she asked, “a
hand book?”

Mrs. Vance nodded guiltily.

“Mannie!” exclaimed Vera gently but reproachfully, “I told you I
wouldn’t loan you any more money till you paid Mabel what you’ve
borrowed.”

“How can I pay Mabel what I borrowed,” demanded Mannie, “if I can’t
borrow the money from you to pay her? Only two dollars, Vera!”

Vera nodded to Mabel.

Mabel, at the phone, called, “Two dollars on Pompadour--to--win--for
Mannie Day,” and rang off.

“That makes thirty for you,” exclaimed Mannie enthusiastically, “and
twenty I owe to Mabel, and that leaves me ten.”

Mrs. Vance, no longer occupied in the whirlpool of speculation, for the
first time observed that Vera had changed her matronly robe of black
lace for a short white skirt and a white shirtwaist. She noted also that
there was a change in Vera’s face and manner. She gave an impression of
nervous eagerness, of unrest. Her smile seemed more appealing, wistful,
girlish. She looked like a child of fourteen.

But Mabel was concerned more especially with the robe of virgin white.

For the month, which was July, the costume was appropriate, but, in the
opinion of Mabel, in no way suited to the priestess of the occult and
the mysterious.

“Why, Vera!” exclaimed Mrs. Vance, “whatever have you got on? Ain’t you
going to receive visitors? There’s ten dollars waiting in there now.”

In sudden apprehension, Vera looked down at her spotless garments.

“Don’t I look nice?” she begged.

“Of course you look nice, dearie,” Mabel assured her, “but you don’t
look like no fortune teller.”

“If you want to know what you look like,” said Mannie sternly, “you look
like one of the waiter girls at Childs’s--that’s what you look like.”

“And your crown!” exclaimed Mabel, “and your kimono. Ain’t you going to
wear your kimono?”

She hastened to the cabinet and produced the cloak of black velvet and
spangles, and the silver-gilt crown.

“No, I am not!” declared Vera. She wore the frightened look of a
mutinous child. “I--I look so--foolish in them!”

Such heresy caused Mannie to gasp aloud; “You look grand in them,” he
protested; “don’t she, Mabel?”

“Sure she does,” assented that lady.

“And your junk?” demanded Mannie, referring to the jade necklace and the
gold-plated bracelets. His eyes opened in sympathy. “You haven’t pawned
them, have you?”

“Pawned them?” laughed Vera; “I couldn’t get anything on them!” As
the only masculine point of view available, she appealed to Mannie
wistfully. “Don’t you like me better this way, Mannie?” she begged.

But that critic protested violently.

“Not a bit like it,” he cried. “Now, in the gold tiara and the spangled
opera cloak,” he differentiated, “you look like a picture postal card!
You got Lotta Faust’s blue skirt back to Levey’s. But not in the white
goods!” He shook his head sadly, firmly. “You look, now, like you was
made up for a May-day picnic in the Bronx, and they’d picked on you to
be Queen of the May.”

Mabel carried the much-admired opera cloak to Vera, and held it out,
tempting her. “You’ll wear it, just to please me and Mannie, won’t you,
dearie?” she begged. Vera retreated before it as though it held the
germs of contagion.

“I will not,” she rebelled. “I hate it! When I have that on, I
feel--mean. I feel as mean as though I were picking pennies out of a
blind man’s hat.” Mannie roared with delight.

“Gee!” he shouted, “but that’s a hot one.”

“Besides,” said Vera consciously, “I’m--I’m expecting some one.”

The manner more than the words thrilled Mabel with the most joyful
expectations.

She exclaimed excitedly. “A gentleman friend, Vera?” she asked.

That Vera shunned all young men had been to Mabel a source of wonder and
of pride. Even when the young men were the friends of her husband and
of herself, the preoccupied manner with which Vera received them did not
provoke in Mabel any resentment. It rather increased her approbation.
Although horrified at the recklessness of the girl, she had approved
even when Vera rejected an offer of marriage from a wine agent.

Secretly, for a proper alliance for her, Mabel read the society columns
in search of eligible, rich young men. Finding that they invariably
married eligible, rich young women, she had lately determined that
Vera’s destiny must be an English duke.

Still if, as she hoped, Vera had chosen for herself, Mabel felt assured
that the man would prove worthy, and a good match. A good match meant
one who owned not only a runabout, but a touring car.

“It’s a man from home,” said Vera. “Home?” queried Mannie.

“From up the State,” explained Vera, “from Geneva. It’s--Mr. Winthrop.”

With an exclamation of alarm, Mannie started upright. “Winthrop!” he
cried; then with a laugh of relief he sank back. “Gee! You give me a
scare,” he cried. “I thought you meant the District Attorney.”

Mabel laughed sympathetically.

“I thought so too,” she admitted.

“I do mean the District Attorney,” said the girl.

“Vera!” cried Mabel.

“Winthrop--coming here?” demanded Mannie.

“I met him at Mr. Hallowell’s this morning,” said Vera. “Didn’t Paul
tell you?”

“Paul ain’t back yet,” said Mannie. “I wish he was!” His lower jaw
dropped in dazed bewilderment. “Winthrop--coming here?” he repeated.
“And they’re all coming here!” he exclaimed excitedly. “Paul just phoned
me. They’ve taken Gaylor in with them, and we’re all working together
now on some game for tonight. And Winthrop’s coming here!” He shook his
head decidedly, importantly. As the only man of the family present, he
felt he must meet this crisis. “Paul won’t stand for it!” he declared.

“Well, Paul will just have to stand for it!” retorted Mrs. Vance.

With a murmur of sympathy she crossed to Vera. “I’m not going to see our
Vera disappointed,” she announced. “She never sees no company. Vera, if
Mr. Winthrop comes when that bunch is here, I’ll show him into the front
parlor.”

Vera sat down in front of the piano and let her fingers drop upon the
keys. The look of eagerness and anticipation had left her eyes.

“Oh, I don’t know,” she said, “that I want to see him--now.”

With complete misunderstanding, Mannie demanded truculently, “Why not?”
 His loyalty to Vera gave him courage, in her behalf, to face even a
District Attorney. “He doesn’t think he’s coming here to make trouble
for you, does he?”

Vera shook her head and, bending over the piano, struck a few detached
chords.

“Oh, no,” she said consciously; “just to see me--professionally--like
everybody else.”

Mabel could no longer withhold her indignation at the obtuseness of the
masculine intellect.

“My gracious, Mannie!” she exclaimed, “can’t you understand he’s coming
here to make a call on Vera--like a gentleman--not like no District
Attorney.”

Mannie precipitately retreated from his position as champion.

“Sure, I understand,” he protested.

With the joy that a match-making mother takes in the hunt, Mabel sank
into the plush rocking chair and, rocking violently, turned upon Vera an
eager and excited smile.

“Think of our Vera knowing Mr. Winthrop socially?” she exclaimed. “It’s
grand! And they say his sisters are elegant ladies. Last winter I read
about them at the opera, and it always printed what they had on. Why
didn’t you tell me you knowed him, Vera?” she cried reproachfully. “I
tell you everything!”

“I don’t know him,” protested the girl. “I used to see him when he lived
in the same town.”

Mabel, inviting further confidences, ceased rocking and nodded
encouragingly. “Up in Geneva?” she prompted.

“Yes,” said Vera, “I used to see him every afternoon then, when he
played ball on the college nine--”

“Who?” demanded Mannie incredulously.

“Winthrop,” said Vera.

“Did he?” exclaimed Mannie. His tone suggested that he might still be
persuaded that there was good in the man.

“What’d he play?” he demanded suspiciously.

“First,” said Vera.

“Did he!” exclaimed Mannie. His tone now was of open approbation.

Vera had raised her eyes and turned them toward the windows. Beyond the
soot-stained sumach tree, the fire escapes of the department store,
she saw the sun-drenched campus, the buttressed chapel, the ancient,
drooping elms; and on a canvas bag, poised like a winged Mercury, a tall
straight figure in gray, dusty flannels.

“He was awfully good-looking,” murmured the girl, “and awfully tall. He
could stop a ball as high as--that!” She raised her arm in the air, and
then, suddenly conscious, flushed, and turned to the piano.

“Go on, tell us,” urged Mabel. “So you first met him in Geneva, did
you?”

“No,” corrected Vera, “saw him there. I--only met him once.”

Mannie interrupted hilariously.

“I only saw him once, too,” he cried, “that was enough for me.”

Vera swiftly spun the piano stool so that she faced him. Her eyes were
filled with concern.

“You, Mannie!” she demanded anxiously. “What had you done?”

“Done!” exclaimed Mannie indignantly, “nothing! What’d you think I’d
done? Did you think I was a crook?”

Vera bowed her shoulders and shivered as though the boy had cursed at
her. She shook her head vehemently and again swung back to the piano.
Stumbling awkwardly, her fingers ran over the keys in a swift clatter of
broken chords. “No,” she whispered, “no, Mannie, no.”

With a laugh of delighted recollection, Mannie turned to Mabel.

“He raided a poolroom I was working at,” he explained. “He picked me out
as a sheet writer because I had my coat off, see? I told him I had it
off because it was too hot for me, and he says, Young man, if you lie
to me, I’ll make I a damn sight hotter!” Mannie threw back his head and
shouted uproariously. “He’s all right, Winthrop!” he declared.

Mabel, having already married Winthrop to Vera in Grace Church, with
herself in the front pew, in a blue silk dress, received this unexpected
evidence of his rare wit with delight. In ecstasy of appreciation she
slapped her knees.

“Did he say that, Mannie?” she cried. “Wasn’t that quick of him! Did you
hear what he said to Mannie, Vera?” she demanded.

Their mirth was interrupted by the opening and closing of the front door
and, in the hall, the murmur of men’s voices.

Vance opened the door from the hall and entered, followed by Judge
Gaylor and Rainey. With evident pride in her appearance, Vance
introduced the two men to his wife, and then sent her and Mannie from
the room--the latter with orders to dismiss the visitors in the front
parlor and to admit no others.

At the door Mrs. Vance turned to Vera and nodded mysteriously.

“If that party calls,” she said with significance, “I’ll put him in the
front parlor.” With a look of dismay, Vera vehemently shook her head
but, to forestall any opposition, Mrs. Vance hastily slammed the door
behind her.

In his most courteous manner Judge Gaylor offered the chair at the head
of the centre table to Vera, and at the same table seated himself.
Vance took a place on the piano stool; Rainey stood with his back to the
mantel piece.

“Miss Vera,” Gaylor began impressively, “I desire to apologize for my
language this morning. As Rainey no doubt has told you, I have opposed
you and Professor Vance. But I--I know when I’m beaten. Your influence
with Mr. Hallowell today--is greater than mine. It is paramount. I
congratulate you.” He smiled ingratiatingly. “And now,” he added, “we
are all working in unison.”

“You’ve given up your idea of sending me to jail,” said Vera.

“Vera!” exclaimed Vance reprovingly. “Judge Gaylor has apologized. We’re
all in harmony now.”

“Is that door locked?” asked Gaylor. Vance told him, save Mrs. Vance,
Mannie, and themselves, there was none in the house; and that he might
speak freely.

“Miss Vera,” began the Judge, “we left Mr. Hallowell very much impressed
with the message you gave him this morning. The message from his dead
sister. He wants another message from her. He wants her to decide how he
shall dispose of a very large sum of money--his entire fortune.”

“His entire fortune!” exclaimed Vera. “Do you imagine,” she asked,
“that Mr. Hallowell will take advice from the spirit world about that? I
don’t!”

“I do,” Gaylor answered stoutly, “I know I would.”

“You?” asked Vera incredulously.

“If I could believe my sister came from the dead to tell me what to
do,” said the lawyer, “of course, I’d do it. I’d be afraid not to. But I
don’t believe he does. And he believes you can bring his sister herself
before him. He insists that tonight you hold a seance in his house, and
that you materialize the spirit of his dead sister. So that he can see
his sister, and talk with his sister. Vance says you can do that. Can
you?”

From Vera’s face the look of girlishness, of happy anticipation, had
already disappeared.

“It is my business to do that,” the girl answered. She turned to Vance
and, in a matter-of-fact voice, inquired, “What does his sister look
like--that photograph we used this morning?”

“No,” Vance answered. “I’ve a better one, Rainey gave me. Taken when she
was older. Has white hair and a cap and a kerchief crossed--so.” He drew
his hands across his shoulders. “Rainey, show Miss Vera that picture.”

“Not now,” Gaylor commanded. “The important thing now is that Miss Vera
understands the message Mr. Hallowell is to receive from his sister.”

The two other men nodded quickly in assent. Gaylor turned to Vera. He
spoke slowly, earnestly.

“Miss Vera,” he said, “Mr. Hallowell’s present will leaves his fortune
to his niece. He has made another will, which he has not signed, leaving
his fortune to the Hallowell Institute. He will ask his sister to which
of these he should leave his money. You will tell him--” he corrected
himself instantly. “She will tell him to give it where it will be of the
greatest good to the most people--to the Institute.” There was a pause.
“Do you understand?” he asked.

“To the Institute. Not to the niece,” Vera answered. Gaylor nodded
gravely.

“What,” asked Vera, “are the fewest words in which that message could
be delivered? I mean--should she say, You are to endow the Hallowell
Institute, or Brother, you are to give--Sign the new will?” With
satisfaction the girl gave a sharp shake of her head, and nodded to
Vance. “Destroy the old will. Sign the new will. That is the best,” she
said.

“That’s it exactly,” Gaylor exclaimed eagerly; “that’s excellent!” Then
his face clouded. “I think,” he said in a troubled voice, “we should
warn Miss Vera, that to guard himself from any trickery, Mr. Hallowell
insists on subjecting her to the most severe tests. He--”

“That will be all right,” said the girl. She turned to Vance and, in
a lower tone but without interest, asked: “What, for instance?” Vance
merely laughed and shrugged his shoulders. The girl smiled. Nettled,
and alarmed at what appeared to be their overconfidence, Gaylor objected
warmly.

“That’s all very well,” he cried, “but for instance, he insists that the
entire time you are in the cabinet, you hold a handful of flour in
one hand and of shot in the other”--he illustrated with clenched
fists--“which makes it impossible,” he protested, “for you to use your
hands.”

The face of the girl showed complete indifference.

“Not necessarily,” she said.

“But you are to be tied hand and foot,” cried the Judge. “And on top of
that,” he burst forth indignantly, pointing aggrievedly at Vance, “he
himself proposed this flour-and-shot test. It was silly, senseless
bravado!”

“Not necessarily,” repeated the girl. “He knew that I invented it.”
 Rainey laughed. Gaylor gave an exclamation of enlightenment.

“If it will be of any comfort to you, Judge,” said Vance, “I’ll tell you
one thing; every test that ever was put to a medium--was invented by a
medium.”

Vera rose. “If there is nothing more,” she said, “I will go and get the
things ready for this evening. Destroy the old will. Sign the new
will.” she repeated. She turned suddenly to Vance, her brow drawn in
consideration. “I suppose by this new will,” she asked, “the girl gets
nothing?” “Not at all!” exclaimed Gaylor emphatically. “We don’t want
her to fight the will. She gets a million.”

“A million dollars?” demanded Vera. For an instant, as though trying to
grasp the possibilities of such a sum, she stood staring ahead of her.
With doubt in her eyes, and shaking her head, she turned to Vance.

“How can one woman spend a million dollars?” she protested.

“Well, you see, we don’t intend to starve her,” exclaimed Gaylor
eagerly, “and at the same time the Institute will be benefiting all
humanity. Doing good to--”

Vera interrupted him with a sharp, peremptory movement of the hand.

“We won’t go into that, please,” she begged.

The Judge inclined his head. “I only meant to point out,” he said
stiffly, “that you are giving Mr. Hallowell the best advice, and doing
great good.”

For a moment the girl looked at him steadily. On her lips was a faint
smile of disdain, but whether for him or for herself, the Judge could
not determine.

“I don’t know that,” the girl said finally. “I don’t ask.” She turned to
Rainey. “Have you that photograph?” He gave her a photograph and after,
for an instant, studying it in silence, she returned it to him.

“It will be quite easy,” she said to Vance. She walked to the door, and
instinctively the two men, who were seated, rose.

“I will see you tonight at Mr. Hallowell’s,” she said, and, with a nod,
left them.

“Well,” exclaimed Rainey, “you didn’t tell her!”

“I know,” Vance answered. “I decided we’d be wiser to take advice from my
wife. She understands Vera better than I do.” He opened the door to the
hall, and called “Mannie! Tell Mabel--Oh, Mabel,” he corrected, “come
here a minute.” He returned to his seat on the piano stool. “She can
tell us,” he said.

In expectation of the arrival of Winthrop, Mrs. Vance had arrayed
herself in a light blue frock, and, as though she had just come in from
the street, in such a hat as she considered would do credit not only to
Vera but to herself.

“Mabel,” her husband began, “we’re up against a hard proposition.
Hallowell insists that Winthrop and Miss Coates must come to the seance
tonight.”

“Winthrop and Miss Coates!” cried Mabel. In astonishment she glanced
from her husband to Rainey and Gaylor. “Then, it’s all off!” she
exclaimed.

“That’s what I say,” growled Rainey.

“We want you to tell us,” continued Vance, unmoved, “whether Vera should
know that now, or wait until tonight?”

“Paul Vance!” almost shrieked his wife, “do you mean to tell me you’re
thinking of giving a materialization in front of the District Attorney!
You’re crazy!”

“That’s what I tell them,” chorused Rainey.

Gaylor raised his hand for silence.

“No, Mrs. Vance,” he said wearily. “We are not crazy, but,” he added
bitterly, “we can’t help ourselves. You mediums have got Mr. Hallowell
in such a state that he’ll only do what his sister’s spirit tells him.
He says, if he’s robbing his niece, his sister will tell him so; if he’s
to give the money to the Institute, his sister will tell him that. He
says, if Vance is fair and above-board, he shouldn’t be afraid to have
his niece and any friends of hers present. We can’t help ourselves.”

“I helped a little,” said Vance, “by insisting on having our own friends
there--told him the spirit could not materialize unless there were
believers present.”

“Did he stand for that?” asked Mabel.

“Glad to have them,” her husband assured her. “They like to think there
are others as foolish as they are. And I’m going to place Mr. District
Attorney,” he broke out suddenly and fiercely, “between two mediums.
They’ll hold his hands!”

Already frightened by the possible result of the plot, Rainey, with a
vehemence born of fear, retorted sharply: “Hold his hands! How’re you
going to make him hold his tongue, afterward?”

Gaylor turned upon him savagely.

“My God, man!” he cried, “we’re not trying to persuade the District
Attorney that he’s seen a ghost. If your friends can persuade Stephen
Hallowell that he’s seen one, the District Attorney can go to the
devil!”

“Well, he won’t!” returned Rainey, “he’ll go to law!”

“Let him!” cried Gaylor defiantly. “Get Hallowell to sign that will, and
I’ll go into court with him.”

His bravado was suddenly attacked from an unexpected source.

“You’ll go into court with him, all right,” declared Mrs. Vance, “all of
you! And if you don’t want him to catch you,” she cried, “you’ll clear
out, now! He’s coming here any minute.”

“Who’s coming here?” demanded her husband.

“Winthrop,” returned his wife, “to see Vera.”

“To see Vera!” cried Vance eagerly. “What about? About this morning?”

“No,” protested Mabel, “to call on her. He’s an old friend--”

In alarm Rainey pushed into the group of now thoroughly excited people.
“Don’t you believe it!” he cried. “If he’s coming here, he’s coming to
give her the third degree--”

The door from the hall suddenly opened, was as suddenly closed, and
Mannie slipped into the room. One hand he held up for silence; with the
other he pointed at the folding doors.

“Hush!” he warned them. “He’s in there! He says he’s come to call on
Vera. She says he’s come professionally, and I must bring him in here.
I’ve shut the door into the parlor, and you can slip upstairs without
his seeing you.”

“Upstairs!” gasped Rainey, “not for me!” He appealed to Gaylor in
accents of real alarm. “We must get away from this house,” he declared.
“If he finds us here--” With a gesture of dismay he tossed his hands
in the air. Gaylor nodded. In silence all, save Mannie, moved into the
hall, and halted between the outer and inner doors of the vestibule.
Gaylor turned to Vance. “Are you going to tell her,” he asked, “that he
is to be there tonight?”

“He’ll tell her himself, now!”

“No,” corrected Rainey, “he doesn’t know yet there’s to be a seance.
Hallowell was writing the note when he left.”

“Then,” instructed Gaylor, “do not let her know until she arrives--until
it will be too late for her to back out.”

Vance nodded and, waiting until from the back room he heard the voices
of Mannie and Winthrop, he opened the front door and the two men ran
down the steps into the street.

While the conspirators were hidden in the vestibule, Mannie had opened
the folding doors, and invited Winthrop to enter the reception parlor.

“Miss Vera will be down in a minute,” he said. “If you want your hand
read,” he added, pointing, “you sit over there.”

As Winthrop approached the centre table, Mannie backed against the
piano. The presence of the District Attorney at such short range
aroused in him many emotions. Alternately he was torn with alarm, with
admiration, with curiosity. He regarded him apprehensively, with a
nervous and unhappy smile.

About the smile there was something that Winthrop found familiar, and,
with one almost as attractive, he answered it.

“I think we’ve met before, haven’t we?” he asked pleasantly.

Mannie nodded. “Yes, sir,” he answered promptly. “At Sam Hepner’s old
place, on West Forty-fourth street.”

“Why, of course!” exclaimed the District Attorney.

“Don’t you--don’t you remember?” stammered Mannie eagerly. He was deeply
concerned lest the distinguished cross-examiner should think, that
from him of his lurid past he could withhold anything. “I had my coat
off--and you said you’d make it hot for me.”

“Did I?” asked Winthrop with an effort at recollection.

“No, you didn’t!” Mannie hastened to reassure him. “I mean, you didn’t
make it hot for me.”

Winthrop laughed, and seated himself comfortably beside the centre
table. “Well I’m glad of that,” he said. “So our relations are still
pleasant, then?” he asked.

“Sure!” exclaimed Mannie heartily. “I mean--yes, sir.”

Winthrop mechanically reached for his cigarette case, and then,
recollecting, withdrew his hand.

“And how are the ponies running?” he asked.

The interview was filling Mannie with excitement and delight. He
chuckled with pleasure. His fear of the great man was rapidly departing.
Could this, he asked himself, be the “terror to evil-doers,” the man
whose cruel questions drove witnesses to tears, whose “third degree”
 sent veterans of the underworld staggering from his confessional box,
limp and gasping?

“Oh, pretty well,” said the boy, “seems as if I couldn’t keep away from
them. I got a good thing for today--Pompadour--in the fifth. I put all
the money on her I could get together,” he announced importantly,
and then added frankly, with a laugh, “two dollars!” The laugh was
contagious, and the District Attorney laughed with him.

“Pompadour,” Winthrop objected, “she’s one of those winter track
favorites.”

“I know, but today,” declared Mannie, “she win, sure!” Carried away
by his enthusiasm, and by the sympathy of his audience, he rushed,
unheeding, to his fate. “If you’d like to put a little on,” he said, “I
can tell you where you can do it.”

The District Attorney stared and laughed. “You mustn’t tell me where you
can do it,” he said.

Mannie gave a terrified gasp and, for an instant, clapped his hands over
his lips. “That’s right,” he cried. “Gee, that’s right! I’m such a crank
on all kinds of sport that I clean forgot!”

He gazed at the much-dreaded District Attorney with the awe of the
new-born hero-worshipper. “I guess you are, too, hey?” he protested
admiringly. “Vera was telling me you used to be a great ball tosser.”

In the face of the District Attorney there came a sudden interest. His
eyes lightened.

“How did she--”

“She used to watch you in Geneva,” said Mannie, “playing with the
college lads. I--I,” he added consciously, “was a ball player myself
once. Used to pitch for the Interstate League.” He stopped abruptly.

“Interstate?” said Winthrop encouragingly. “You must have been good.”

The enthusiasm had departed from the face of the boy. “Yes,” he said,
“but--” he smiled shamefacedly, “but I got taking coke, and they--” He
finished with a dramatic gesture of the hand as of a man tossing away a
cigarette.

“Cocaine?” said the District Attorney.

The boy nodded and, for an instant, the two men eyed each other, the
boy smiling ruefully. The District Attorney shook his head. “My young
friend,” he said, “you can never beat that game!”

Mannie stared at him, his eyes filled with surprise.

“Don’t you suppose,” he said simply, “that I know that better than
you do?” With a boy’s pride in his own incorrigibility he went on
boastingly: “Oh, yes,” he said, “I used to be awful bad! Cocaine and all
kinds of dope, and cigarettes, and whiskey. I was nearly all in--with
morphine, it was then--till she took hold of me, and stopped me.”

“She?” said Winthrop.

“Vera,” said Mannie. “She made me stop. I had to stop. She started
taking it herself.”

“What!” cried Winthrop.

“Oh!” exclaimed Mannie hastily, “I don’t mean what you mean--I mean
she started taking it to make me stop. She says to me, Mannie, you’re
killing yourself, and you got to quit it; and if you don’t, every time
you take a grain, I’ll take two. And she did! I’d come home, and she’d
see what I’d been doing, and she’d up with her sleeves, and--” In
horrible pantomime, the boy lifted the cuff of his shirt, and pressed
his right thumb against the wrist of his other arm. At the memory of it,
he gave a shiver and, with a blow, roughly struck the cuff into place.
“God!” he muttered, “I couldn’t stand it. I begged, and begged her not.
I cried. I used to get down, in this room, on my knees. And each time
she’d get whiter, and black under the eyes. And--and I had to stop.
Didn’t I?”

Winthrop moved his head.

“And now,” cried the boy with a happy laugh, “I’m all right!” He
appealed to the older man eagerly, wistfully. “Don’t you think I’m
looking better than I did the last time you saw me?”

Again, without venturing to speak, Winthrop nodded.

Mannie smiled with pride. “Everybody tells me so,” he said. “Well,
she did it. That’s what she did for me. And, I can tell you,” he said
simply, sincerely, “there ain’t anything I wouldn’t do for her. I guess
that’s right, hey?” he added.

The eyes of the cruel cross-examiner, veiled under half-closed lids,
were regarding the boy with so curious an expression that under their
scrutiny Mannie, in embarrassment, moved uneasily. “I guess that’s
right,” he repeated.

To his surprise, the District Attorney rose from his comfortable
position and, leaning across the table, held out his hand. Mannie took
it awkwardly.

“That’s all right,” he said.

“Sure, it’s all right,” said the District Attorney.

From the hall there was the sound of light, quick steps, and Mannie,
happy to escape from a situation he did not understand, ran to the door.

“She’s coming,” he said. He opened the door and, as Vera entered, he
slipped past her and closed it behind him.

Vera walked directly to the chair at the top of the centre table. She
was nervous, and she was conscious that that fact was evident. To avoid
shaking hands with her visitor, she carried her own clasped in front of
her, with the fingers interlaced. She tried to speak in her usual suave,
professional tone. “How do you do?” she said.

But Winthrop would not be denied. With a smile that showed his pleasure
at again seeing her, he advanced eagerly, with his hand outstretched.
“How are you?” he exclaimed. “Aren’t you going to shake hands with me?”
 he demanded. “With an old friend?”

Vera gave him her hand quickly, and then, seating herself at the table,
picked up the ivory pointer.

“I didn’t know you were coming as an old friend,” she murmured
embarrassedly. “You said you were coming to consult Vera, the medium.”

“But you said that was the only way I could come,” protested Winthrop.
“Don’t you remember, you said--”

Vera interrupted him. She spoke distantly, formally. “What kind of a
reading do you want?” she asked. “A hand reading, or a crystal reading?”

Winthrop leaned forward in his chair, frankly smiling at her. He made
no attempt to conceal the pleasure the sight of her gave him. His manner
was that of a very old and dear friend, who, for the first time, had met
her after a separation of years.

“Don’t want any kind of a reading,” he declared. “I want a talking. You
don’t seem to understand,” he objected, “that I am making an afternoon
call.” His good humor was unassailable. Looking up with a perplexed
frown, Vera met his eyes and saw that he was laughing at her. She threw
the ivory pointer down and, leaning back in her chair, smiled at him.

“I don’t believe,” she said doubtfully, “that I know much about
afternoon calls. What would I do, if we were on Fifth Avenue? Would I
give you tea?” she asked, “because,” she added hastily, “there isn’t any
tea.”

“In that case, it is not etiquette to offer any,” said Winthrop gravely.

“Then,” said Vera, “I’m doing it right, so far?”

They both laughed; Vera because she still was in awe of him, and
Winthrop because he was happy.

“You’re doing it charmingly,” Winthrop assured her.

“Good!” exclaimed Vera. “Well, now,” she inquired, “now we talk, don’t
we?”

“Yes,” assented Winthrop promptly, “we talk about you.”

“No, I--I don’t think we do,” declared Vera, in haste. “I think we talk
about--Geneva.” She turned to him with real interest. “Is the town much
changed?” she asked.

As though preparing for a long talk, Winthrop dropped his hat to the
floor and settled himself comfortably. “Well, it is, and it isn’t,” he
answered. “Haven’t you been back lately?” he asked. Vera looked quickly
away from him.

“I have never been back!” she answered. There was a pause and when she
again turned her eyes to his, she was smiling. “But I always take the
Geneva Times,” she said, “and I often read that you’ve been there.
You’re a great man in Geneva.”

Winthrop nodded gravely.

“Whenever I want to be a great man,” he said, “I go to Geneva.”

“Why, yes,” exclaimed Vera. “Last June you delivered the oration to the
graduating class,” she laughed, “on The College Man in Politics. Such an
original subject! And did you point to yourself?” she asked mockingly,
“as the--the bright example?”

“No,” protested Winthrop, “I knew they’d see that.”

Much to her relief, Vera found that of Winthrop she was no longer
afraid.

“Oh!” she protested, “didn’t you say, twelve years ago, a humble boy
played ball for Hobart College. That boy now stands before you? Didn’t
you say that?”

“Something like that,” assented the District Attorney. “Oh!” he
exclaimed, “that young man who showed me in here--your confederate or
fellow-conspirator or lookout man or whatever he is--told me you used to
be a regular attendant at those games.”

“I never missed one!” Vera cried. She leaned forward, her eyes shining,
her brows knit with the effort of recollection.

“I used to tell Aunt,” she said, “I had to drive in for the mail. But
that was only an excuse. Aunt had an old buggy, and an old white horse
called Roscoe Conkling. I called him Rocks. He was blind in one eye, and
he would walk on the wrong side of the road; you had to drive him on one
rein.” The girl was speaking rapidly, eagerly. She had lost all fear
of her visitor. With satisfaction Winthrop recognized this; and
unconsciously he was now frankly regarding the face of the girl with a
smile of pleasure and admiration.

“And I used to tie him to the fence just opposite first base,” Vera went
on excitedly, “and shout--for you!”

“Don’t tell me,” interrupted Winthrop, in burlesque excitement, “that
you were that very pretty little girl, with short dresses and long legs,
who used to sit on the top rail and kick and cheer.”

Vera shook her head sternly.

“I was,” she said, “but you never saw me.”

“Oh, yes, we did,” protested Winthrop. “We used to call you our mascot.”

“No, that was some other little girl,” said Vera firmly. “You
never looked at me, and I”--she laughed, and then frowned at him
reproachfully--“I thought you were magnificent! I used to have your
pictures in baseball clothes pinned all around my looking glass, and
whenever you made a base hit, I’d shout and shout--and you’d never look
at me! And one day--” she stopped, and as though appalled by the memory,
clasped her hands. “Oh, it was awful!” she exclaimed; “one day a foul
ball hit the fence, and I jumped down and threw it to you, and you said,
Thank you, sis! And I,” she cried, “thought I was a young lady!”

“Oh! I couldn’t have said that,” protested Winthrop, “maybe I said
sister.”

“No,” declared Vera energetically shaking her head, “not sister, sis.
And you never did look at me; and I used to drive past your house every
day. We lived only a mile below you.”

“Where?” asked Winthrop.

“On the lake road from Syracuse,” said Vera. “Don’t you remember the
farm a mile below yours--the one with the red barn right on the road?
Yes, you do,” she insisted, “the cows were always looking over the fence
right into the road.”

“Of course!” exclaimed Winthrop delightedly. “Was that your house?”

“Oh, no,” protested Vera, “ours was the little cottage on the other
side--”

“With poplars round it?” demanded Winthrop.

“That’s it!” cried Vera triumphantly, “with poplars round it.”

“Why, I know that house well. We boys used to call it the haunted
house.”

“That’s the one,” assented Vera. She smiled with satisfaction. “Well,
that’s where I lived until Aunt died,” she said.

“And then, what?” asked Winthrop.

For a moment the girl did not answer. Her face had grown grave and she
sat motionless, staring beyond her. Suddenly, as though casting her
thoughts from her, she gave a sharp toss of her head.

“Then,” she said, speaking quickly, “I went into the mills, and was ill
there, and I wrote Paul and Mabel to ask if I could join them, and they
said I could. But I was too ill, and I had no money--nothing. And then,”
 she raised her eyes to his and regarded him steadily, “then I stole that
cloak to get the money to join them, and you--you helped me to get away,
and--and” Winthrop broke in hastily. He disregarded both her manner and
the nature of what she had said.

“And how did you come to know the Vances?” he asked.

After a pause of an instant, the girl accepted the cue his manner gave
her, and answered as before.

“Through my aunt,” she said, “she was a medium too.”

“Of course!” cried Winthrop. “I remember now, that’s why we called it
the haunted house.”

“My aunt,” said the girl, regarding him steadily and with, in her
manner, a certain defiance, “was a great medium. All the spiritualists
in that part of the State used to meet at our house. I’ve witnessed some
wonderful manifestations in that front parlor.” She turned to Winthrop
and smiled. “So, you see,” she exclaimed, “I was born and brought up
in this business. I am the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. My
grandmother was a medium, my mother was a medium--she worked with
the Fox sisters before they were exposed. But, my aunt,” she added
thoughtfully, judicially, “was the greatest medium I have ever seen. She
did certain things I couldn’t understand, and I know every trick in the
trade--unless,” she explained, “you believe the spirits helped her.”

Winthrop was observing the girl intently, with a new interest.

“And you don’t believe that?” he asked, quietly.

“How can I?” Vera said. “I was brought up with them.” She shook her head
and smiled. “I used to play around the kitchen stove with Pocahontas and
Alexander the Great, and Martin Luther lived in our china closet. You
see, the neighbors wouldn’t let their children come to our house; so,
the only playmates I had were--ghosts.” She laughed wistfully. “My!” she
exclaimed, “I was a queer, lonely little rat. I used to hear voices and
see visions. I do still,” she added. With her elbows on the arms of
her chair, she clasped her hands under her chin and leaned forward. She
turned her eyes to Winthrop and nodded confidentially.

“Do you know,” she said, “sometimes I think people from the other world
do speak to me.”

“But you said,” Winthrop objected, “you didn’t believe.”

“I know,” returned Vera. “I can’t!” Her voice was perplexed, impatient.
“Why, I can sit in this chair,” she declared earnestly, “and fill this
room with spirit voices and rappings, and you sitting right there can’t
see how I do it. And yet, in spite of all the tricks, sometimes I believe
there’s something in it.”

She looked at Winthrop, her eyes open with inquiry. He shook his head.

“Yes,” insisted the girl. “When these women come to me for advice, I
don’t invent what I say to them. It’s as though something told me what
to say. I have never met them before, but as soon as I pass into the
trance state I seem to know all their troubles. And I seem to be half
in this world and half in another world--carrying messages between them.
Maybe,” her voice had sunk to almost a whisper; she continued as though
speaking to herself, “I only think that. I don’t know. I wonder.”

There was a long pause.

“I wish,” began Winthrop earnestly, “I wish you were younger, or I were
older.”

“Why?” asked Vera.

“Because,” said the young man, “I’d like to talk to you--like a father.”

Vera turned and smiled on him securely, with frank friendliness. “Go
ahead,” she assented, “talk to me like a father.”

Winthrop smiled back at her, and then frowned.

“You shouldn’t be in this business,” he said.

The girl regarded him steadily.

“What’s the matter with the business?” she asked.

Winthrop felt she had put him upon the defensive, but he did not
hesitate.

“Well,” he said, “there may be some truth in it. But we don’t know
that. We do know that there’s a lot of fraud and deceit in it. Now,” he
declared warmly, “there’s nothing deceitful about you. You’re fine,” he
cried enthusiastically, “you’re big! That boy who was in here told me
one story about you that showed--”

Vera stopped him sharply.

“What do you know of me?” she asked bitterly. “The first time you ever
saw me I was in a police court; and this morning--you heard that man
threaten to put me in jail--”

In turn, by abruptly rising from his chair, Winthrop interrupted her.
He pushed the chair out of his way, and, shoving his hands into his
trousers’ pockets, began pacing with long, quick strides up and down the
room. “What do I care for that?” he cried contemptuously. He tossed the
words at her over his shoulder. “I put lots of people in jail myself
that are better than I am. Only, they won’t play the game.” He halted,
and turned on her. “Now, you’re not playing the game. This is a mean
business, taking money from silly girls and old men. You’re too good
for that.” He halted at the table and stood facing her. “I’ve got two
sisters uptown,” he said. He spoke commandingly, peremptorily. “And
tomorrow I am going to take you to see them. And we fellow townsmen,” he
smiled at her appealingly, “will talk this over, and we’ll make you come
back to your own people.”

For a moment the two regarded each other. Then the girl answered firmly,
but with a slight hoarseness in her voice, and in a tone hardly louder
than a whisper:

“You know I can’t do that!”

“I don’t!” blustered Winthrop. “Why not?”

“Because,” said the girl steadily, “of what I did in Geneva.” As
though the answer was the one he had feared, the man exclaimed sharply,
rebelliously.

“Nonsense!” he cried. “You didn’t know what you were doing. No decent
person would consider that.”

“They do,” said the girl, “they are the very ones who do. And--it’s been
in the papers. Everybody in Geneva knows it. And here too. And whenever
I try to get away from this”--she stretched out her hands to include
the room about her--“Someone tells! Five times, now.” She leaned forward
appealingly, not as though asking pity for herself, but as wishing
him to see her point of view. “I didn’t choose this business,” she
protested, “I was sort of born in it, and,” she broke out loyally,
“I hate to have you call it a mean business; but I can’t get into any
other. Whenever I have, some man says, That girl in your front office is
a thief.” The restraint she put upon herself, the air of disdain which
at all times she had found the most convenient defense, fell from her.

“It’s not fair!” she cried, “it’s not fair.” To her mortification, the
tears of self-pity sprang to her eyes, and as she fiercely tried to
brush them away, to her greater anger, continued to creep down her
cheeks. “It was nine years ago,” she protested, “I was a child. I’ve
been punished enough.” She raised her face frankly to his, speaking
swiftly, bitterly.

“Of course, I want to get away!” she cried. “Of course, I want friends.
I’ve never had a friend. I’ve always been alone. I’m tired, tired! I
hate this business. I never know how much I hate it until the chance
comes to get away--and I can’t.”

She stopped, but without lowering her head or moving her eyes from his.

“This time,” said the man quietly, “you’re going to get away from it.”

“I can’t,” repeated the girl, “you can’t help me!”

Winthrop smiled at her confidently.

“I’m going to try,” he said.

“No, please!” begged the girl. Her voice was still shaken with tears.
She motioned with her head toward the room behind her.

“These are my people,” she declared defiantly, as though daring him
to contradict her. “And they are good people! They’ve tried to be good
friends to me, and they’ve been true to me.”

Winthrop came toward her and stood beside her, so close that he could
have placed his hand upon her shoulder. He wondered, whimsically, if she
knew how cruel she seemed in appealing with her tears, her helplessness
and loveliness to what was generous and chivalric in him; and, at the
same time, by her words, treating him as an interloper and an enemy.

“That’s all right,” he said gently. “But that doesn’t prevent my being a
good friend to you, too, does it? Or,” he added, his voice growing tense
and conscious--“my being true to you? My sisters will be here tomorrow,”
 he announced briskly.

Vera had wearily dropped her arms upon the table and lowered her head
upon them. From a place down in the depths she murmured a protest.

“No,” contradicted Winthrop cheerfully, “this time you are going to win.
You’ll have back of you, If I do say it, two of the best women God ever
made. Only, now, you must do as I say.” There was a pause. “Will you?”
 he begged.

Vera raised her head slowly, holding her hand across her eyes. There was
a longer silence, and then she looked up at him and smiled pathetically,
gratefully, and nodded. “Good!” cried Winthrop. “No more spooks,” he
laughed, “no more spirit rappings.”

Through her tears Vera smiled up at him a wan, broken smile. She gave
a shudder of distaste. “Never!” she whispered. “I promise.” Their eyes
met; the girl’s looking into his shyly, gratefully; the man’s searching
hers eagerly. And suddenly they saw each other with a new and wonderful
sympathy and understanding. Winthrop felt himself bending toward her. He
was conscious that the room had grown dark, and that he could see only
her eyes. “You must be just yourself,” he commanded, but so gently, so
tenderly, that, though he did not know it, each word carried with it the
touch of a caress, “just your sweet, fine, noble self!”

Something he read in the girl’s uplifted eyes made him draw back with
a shock of wonder, of delight, with an upbraiding conscience. To pull
himself together, he glanced quickly about him. The day had really grown
dark. He felt a sudden desire to get away; to go where he could ask
himself what had happened, what it was that had filled this unknown,
tawdry room with beauty and given it the happiness of a home.

“By Jove!” he exclaimed nervously, “I had no idea I’d stayed so long.
You’ll not let me come again. Goodbye--until tomorrow.” He turned,
holding out his hand, and found that again the girl had dropped her face
upon her arm, and was sobbing quietly, gently.

“Oh, what is it?” cried Winthrop. “What have I said?” The catch in the
girl’s voice as she tried to check the sobs wrenched his heart. “Oh,
please,” he begged, “I’ve said something wrong? I’ve hurt you?” With her
face still hidden in her arms, the girl shook her head.

“No, no!” she sobbed. Her voice, soft with tears, was a melody of sweet
and tender tones. “It’s only--that I’ve been so lonely--and you’ve made
me happy, happy!”

The sobs broke out afresh, but Winthrop, now knowing that they brought
to the girl peace, was no longer filled with dismay.

Her head was bent upon her left arm, her right hand lightly clasped the
edge of the table. With the intention of saying farewell, Winthrop
took her hand in his. The girl did not move. To his presence she seemed
utterly oblivious. In the gathering dusk he could see the bent figure,
could hear the soft, irregular breathing as the girl wept gently,
happily, like a child sobbing itself to sleep. The hand he held in his
neither repelled nor invited, and for an instant he stood motionless,
holding it uncertainly. It was so delicate, so helpless, so appealing,
so altogether lovable. It seemed to reach up, and, with warm, clinging
fingers, clutch the tendrils of his heart.

Winthrop bent his head suddenly, and lifting the hand, kissed it; and
then, without again speaking, walked quickly into the hall and shut the
door. In the room the dusk deepened. Through the open windows came the
roar of the Sixth Avenue Elevated, the insistent clamor of an electric
hansom, the murmur of Broadway at night. The tears had suddenly ceased,
but the girl had not moved. At last, slowly, stiffly, she raised her
head. Her eyes, filled with wonder, with amazement, were fixed upon her
hand. She glanced cautiously about her. Assured she was alone, with her
other hand she lifted the one Winthrop had kissed and held it pressed
against her lips.

The folding doors were thrown open, letting in a flood of light, and
Mabel Vance, entering swiftly, knelt at the table and bent her head
close to Vera.

“That woman’s in the hall,” she whispered, “that niece of Hallowell’s.
Paul and Mannie can’t get rid of her. Now she’s got hold of Winthrop.
She says she will see you. Be careful!”

Vera rose. That Mabel might not see she had been weeping, she walked to
the piano, covertly drying her eyes.

“What,” she asked dully, “does she want with me?”

“About tonight,” answered Mabel. She exclaimed fiercely, “I told them
there’d be trouble!”

With Vance upon her heels, Helen Coates came in quickly from the hall.
Her face was flushed, her eyes lit with indignation and excitement. In
her hand she held an open letter.

As though to protect Vera, both Vance and his wife moved between her and
their visitor, but, disregarding them, Miss Coates at once singled out
the girl as her opponent.

“You are the young woman they call Vera, I believe,” she said. “I have a
note here from Mr. Hallowell telling me you are giving a seance tonight
at his house. That you propose to exhibit the spirit of my mother. That
is an insult to the memory of my mother and to me. And I warn you, if
you attempt such a thing, I will prevent it.”

There was a pause. When Vera spoke it was in the tone of every-day
politeness. Her voice was even and steady.

“You have been misinformed,” she said, “there will be no seance
tonight.”

Vance turned to Vera, and, in a voice lower than her own, but
sufficiently loud to include Miss Coates, said: “I don’t think we told
you that Mr. Hallowell himself insists that this lady and her friends be
present.”

“Her presence makes no difference,” said Vera quietly. “There will be
no seance tonight. I will tell you about it later, Paul,” she added. She
started toward the door, but Miss Coates moved as though to intercept
her.

“If you think,” she cried eagerly, “you can give a seance to Mr.
Hallowell without my knowing it, you are mistaken.”

Vera paused, and made a slight inclination of her head.

“That was not my idea,” she said. She looked appealingly to Vance. “Is
that not enough, Paul?” she asked.

“Quite enough!” exclaimed the man. He turned to the visitor and made a
curt movement of the hand toward the open door.

“There will be a seance tonight,” he declared. “At Mr. Hallowell’s. If
you wish to protest against it, you can do so there. This is my house.
If you have finished--” He repeated the gesture toward the open door.

“I have not finished,” said Miss Coates sharply; “and if you take
my advice, you will follow her example.” With a nod of the head she
signified Vera. “When she sees she’s in danger, she knows enough to
stop. This is not a question of a few medium’s tricks,” she cried,
contemptuously. “I know all that you planned to do, and I intend that
tomorrow every one in New York shall know it too.”

Like a cloak Vera’s self-possession fell from her. In alarm she moved
forward.

“What do you mean?” she demanded.

“I have had you people followed pretty closely,” said Miss Coates. Her
tone was assured. She was confident that of those before her she was the
master, and that of that fact they were aware.

“I know,” she went on, “just how you tried to impose upon my uncle--how
you tried to rob me, and tonight I have invited the reporters to my
house to give them the facts.”

With a cry Vera ran to her.

“No!” she begged, “you won’t do that. You must not do that!”

“Let her talk!” growled Vance. “Let her talk! She’s funny.”

“No!” commanded Vera. Her voice rang with the distress. “She cannot do
that!” She turned to Miss Coates. “We haven’t hurt you,” she pleaded;
“we haven’t taken your money. I promise you,” she cried, “we will never
see Mr. Hallowell again. I beg of you--”

Vance indignantly caught her by the arm and drew her back. “You don’t
beg nothing of her!” he cried.

“I do,” Vera answered wildly. She caught Vance’s hand in both of hers.
“I have a chance, Paul,” she entreated, “don’t force me through it
again. I can’t stand the shame of it again.” Once more she appealed to
the visitor. “Don’t!” she begged. “Don’t shame me.”

But the eyes of the older girl, blind to everything save what, as she
saw it, was her duty, showed no consideration.

Vera’s hands, trembling on his arm, drove Vance to deeper anger. He
turned savagely upon Miss Coates.

“You haven’t lost anything yet, have you?” he demanded. “She hasn’t hurt
you, has she? If it’s revenge you want,” he cried insolently, “why don’t
you throw vitriol on the girl?”

“Revenge!” exclaimed Miss Coates indignantly. “It is my duty. My public
duty. I’m not alone in this; I am acting with the District Attorney.
It is our duty.” She turned suddenly and called, “Mr. Winthrop, Mr.
Winthrop!”

For the first time Vera saw, under the gas jet, at the farther end of
the hall, the figures of Mannie and Winthrop.

“No, no!” she protested, “I beg of you,” she cried hysterically. “I’ve
got a chance. If you print this thing tomorrow, I’ll never have a chance
again. Don’t take it away from me.” Impulsively her arms reached out in
an eager final appeal. “I’m down,” she said simply, “give me a chance to
get up.”

When Miss Coates came to give battle to the Vances, she foresaw the
interview might be unpleasant. It was proving even more unpleasant than
she had expected, but her duty seemed none the less obvious.

“You should have thought of that,” she said, “before you were found
out.”

For an instant Vera stood motionless, staring, unconsciously holding the
attitude of appeal. But when, by these last words, she recognized that
her humiliation could go no further, with an inarticulate exclamation
she turned away.

“The public has the right to know,” declared Miss Coates, “the sort of
people you are. I have the record of each of you--”

From the hall Winthrop had entered quickly, but, disregarding him, Vance
broke in upon the speaker, savagely, defiantly.

“Print em, then!” he shouted, “print em!”

“I mean to,” declared Miss Coates, “yours, and hers, she--”

Winthrop placed himself in front of her, shutting her off from the
others. He spoke in an earnest whisper.

“Don’t!” he begged. “She has asked for a chance. Give her a chance.”

Miss Coates scorned to speak in whispers.

“She has had a chance,” she protested loudly. “She’s had a chance for
nine years; and she’s chosen to be a charlatan and a cheat, and--” The
angry woman hesitated, and then flung the word--“and a thief!”

In the silence that followed no one turned toward Vera; but as it
continued unbroken each raised his eyes and looked at her.

They saw her drawn to her full height; the color flown from her face,
her deep, brooding eyes flashing. She was like one by some religious
fervor lifted out of herself, exalted. When she spoke her voice was low,
tense. It vibrated with tremendous, wondering indignation.

“Do you know who I am?” she asked. She spoke like one in a trance. “Do
you know who you are threatening with your police and your laws? I am a
priestess! I am a medium between the souls of this world and the next.
I am Vera--the Truth! And I mean,” the girl cried suddenly, harshly,
flinging out her arm, “that you shall hear the truth! Tonight I will
bring your mother from the grave to speak it to you!”

With a swift, sweeping gesture she pointed to the door. “Take those
people away!” she cried.

The eyes of Winthrop were filled with pity. “Vera!” he said, “Vera!”

For an instant, against the tenderness and reproach in his voice the
girl held herself motionless; and then, falling upon the shoulder of
Mrs. Vance, burst into girlish, heart-broken tears.

“Take them away,” she sobbed, “take them away!”

Mannie Day and Vance closed in upon the visitors, and motioning them
before them, drove them from the room.



Part III

The departure of the District Attorney and Miss Coates left Vera free
to consider how serious, if she carried out her threat, the consequences
might be. But of this chance she did not avail herself. Instead, with
nervous zeal she began to prepare for her masquerade. It was as though
her promise to Winthrop to abandon her old friends had filled her
with remorse, and that she now, by an extravagance of loyalty, was
endeavoring to make amends.

At nine o’clock, with the Vances, she arrived at the house of Mr.
Hallowell. Already, to the same place, a wagon had carried the cabinet,
a parlor organ, and a dozen of those camp chairs that are associated
with house weddings and funerals; and while, in the library, Vance and
Mannie arranged these to their liking, on the third floor Vera, with
Mrs. Vance, waited for that moment to arrive when Vance considered her
entrance would be the most effective.

This entrance was to be made through the doorway that opened from the
hall on the second story into the library. To the right of this door,
in an angle of two walls, was the cabinet, and on the left, the first
of the camp chairs. These had been placed in a semicircle that stretched
across the room, and ended at the parlor organ. The door from Mr.
Hallowell’s bedroom opened directly upon the semicircle at the point
most distant from the cabinet. In the centre of the semicircle Vance had
placed the invalid’s arm chair.

Vance, in his manner as professional and undisturbed as a photographer
focussing his camera and arranging his screens, was explaining to Judge
Gaylor the setting of his stage. The judge was an unwilling audience.
Unlike the showman, for him the occasion held only terrors. He was
driven by misgivings, swept by sudden panics. He scowled at the cabinet,
intruding upon the privacy of the room where for years, without the aid
of accessories, by his brains alone, he had brought Mr. Hallowell almost
to the point of abject submission to his wishes. He turned upon Vance
with bitter self-disgust.

“So, I’ve got down as low as this, have I?” he demanded.

Vance heard him, undisturbed.

“I must ask you,” he said, briskly, “to help me keep the people just
as I seat them. They will be in this half-circle facing the cabinet and
holding hands. Those we know are against us,” he explained, “will have
one of my friends, Professor Strombergk, or Mrs. Marsh, or my wife, on
each side of him. If there should be any attempt to rush the cabinet,
we must get there first. I will be outside the cabinet working the
rappings, the floating music, and the astral bodies.” At the sight
of the expression these words brought to the face of Gaylor, Vance
permitted himself the shadow of a smile. “I can take care of myself,”
 he went on, “but remember--Vera must not be caught outside the cabinet!
When the lights go up, she must be found with the ropes still tied.”

Gaylor turned from him with an exclamation of disgust.

“Pah!” he muttered. “It’s a hell of a business!”

Vance continued unmoved. “And, another thing,” he said, “about these
lights; this switch throws them all off, doesn’t it?” He pressed a
button on the left of the door, and the electric lights in the walls and
under a green shade on the library table faded and disappeared, leaving
the room, save for the light from the hall, in darkness.

“That’s the way we want it,” said the showman.

From the hall Mannie appeared between the curtains that hung across the
doorway. “What are you doing with the lights?” he demanded. “You want to
break my neck? All our people are downstairs,” he announced.

Vance turned on the lights. At the same moment Rainey came from the
bedroom into the library. It was evident that to sustain his courage
he had been drinking. He made no effort to greet those in the room, but
stood, glaring resentfully at the cabinet and the row of chairs.

“Well,” exclaimed Vance cheerfully, “if our folks are all here, we’re
all right.”

Glancing behind him, Mannie took Vance by the sleeve, and led him to the
centre of the room.

“No, we’re not all right,” said the boy, “that Miss Coates has brought
a friend with her. She says Hallowell told her she could bring a friend.
She says this young fellow is her friend. I think he’s a Pink!”

“What nonsense,” exclaimed Gaylor in alarm. “No detective would force
his way into this house.”

“She says,” continued Mannie, disregarding Gaylor, and still addressing
Vance, “he’s a seeker after the Truth. I’ll bet,” declared the boy
violently, “he’s a seeker after the truth!”

Garrett came hastily and noiselessly into the room. He nodded toward
Mannie.

“Has he told you?” he asked.

“Yes,” Gaylor answered, “who is he?”

“The reporter who was here this morning,” Garrett returned. “The one who
threatened--”

“That’ll do,” commanded Gaylor. In the face of this new complication he
again became himself. Suavely and politely he turned to Vance. “Will you
and your friend join Miss Vera,” he asked, “and tell her that we begin
in a few minutes?”

For the first time, aggressively and offensively Rainey broke his
silence.

“No, we won’t begin in a few minutes,” he announced, “not by a damned
sight!”

The explosion was so unexpected that, for an instant, while the eyes
of all were fixed in astonishment upon the speaker, there was complete
silence. Gaylor, still suave, still polite, looked toward Vance, and
motioned him to the door.

“Will you kindly do as I ask?” he said. With Mannie at his side, Vance
walked quickly from the room. Once in the hall, the boy laid a detaining
hand upon the arm of the older man.

“If you’ll take my advice, which you won’t,” he said, “we’ll all cut and
run now, while we got the chance!”

In the library, Gaylor turned savagely upon his fellow conspirator.

“Well!” he demanded.

Rainey frowned at him sulkily. “I wash my hands of the whole thing!” he
cried.

Gaylor dropped his voice to a whisper.

“What are you afraid of now?” he demanded. “If you’re not afraid of a
district attorney, why are you afraid of a reporter?”

“I’m not afraid of anybody,” returned Rainey, thickly. “But, I
don’t mean to be a party to no murder!” He paused, shaking his head
portentously. “That man in there,” he whispered, nodding toward the
bedroom, “is in no condition to go through this. After that shock this
morning, and last night--it’ll kill him. His heart’s rotten, I tell you,
rotten!”

Garrett snarled contemptuously.

“How do you know?” he demanded.

“How do I know?” returned Rainey, fiercely. “I was four years in a
medical college, when you were in jail, you--” “Stop that!” cried
Gaylor. Glancing fearfully toward the open door, he interposed between
them.

“Don’t take my advice, then,” cried Rainey. “Go on! Kill him! And he
won’t sign your will. Only, don’t say I didn’t tell you.”

“Have you told him?” demanded Gaylor.

“Yes,” Rainey answered stoutly. “Told him if he didn’t stop this, he
wouldn’t live till morning.”

“Are we forcing him to do this?” demanded Gaylor. “No! He’s forcing it
on us. My God!” he exclaimed, “do you think I want this farce? You say,
yourself, you told him it would kill him, and he will go on with it.
Then why do you blame us? Can we help ourselves?”

The butler had distinguished the sounds of footsteps in the hall. He
fell hastily to rearranging the camp chairs.

“Hush!” he warned. “Look out!” Gaylor and Rainey had but time to move
apart, when Winthrop entered. He regarded the three men with a smile of
understanding.

“I beg pardon,” he exclaimed, “I am interrupting?”

Gaylor greeted him with exaggerated heartiness.

“Ah, it is Mr. Winthrop!” he cried. “Have you come to help us find out
the truth this evening?”

“I certainly hope not!” said Winthrop brusquely. “I know the truth about
too many people already.” He turned to Garrett, who, unobtrusively, was
endeavoring to make his escape.

“I want to see Miss Vera,” he said.

“Miss Vera,” interposed Gaylor. “I’m afraid that’s not possible. She
especially asked not to be disturbed before the seance. I’m sorry.”

Winthrop’s manner became suspiciously polite.

“Yes?” he inquired. “Well, nevertheless I think I’ll ask her. Tell Miss
Vera, please,” he said to Garrett, “that Mr. Winthrop would like a word
with her here,” with significance he added, “in private.”

In offended dignity, Judge Gaylor moved toward the door. “Dr. Rainey,”
 he said stiffly, “will you please inform Mr. Hallowell that his guests
are now here, and that I have gone to bring them upstairs.”

“Yes, but you won’t bring them upstairs, please,” said Winthrop, “until
you hear from me.”

Gaylor flushed with anger and for a moment appeared upon the point of
mutiny. Then, as though refusing to consider himself responsible for the
manners of the younger man, he shrugged his shoulders and left the room.

With even less of consideration than he had shown to Judge Gaylor,
Winthrop turned upon Rainey.

“How’s your patient?” he asked shortly. Rainey was sufficiently
influenced by the liquor he had taken to dare to resent Winthrop’s
peremptory tone. His own in reply was designedly offensive.

“My patient?” he inquired.

“Mr. Hallowell,” snapped Winthrop, “he’s sick, isn’t he?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” returned the Doctor.

“You don’t know?” demanded Winthrop. “Well, I know. I know if he goes
through this thing tonight, he’ll have another collapse. I saw one this
morning. Why don’t you forbid it? You’re his medical adviser, aren’t
you?”

Rainey remained sullenly silent.

“Answer me!” insisted the District Attorney. “You are, aren’t you?”

“I am,” at last declared Rainey.

“Well, then,” commanded Winthrop, “tell him to stop this. Tell him I
advise it.”

Through his glasses Rainey blinked violently at the District Attorney,
and laughed. “I didn’t know,” he said, “that you were a medical man.”

Winthrop looked at the Doctor so steadily, and for so long a time, that
the eyes of the young man sought the floor and the ceiling; and his
sneer changed to an expression of discomfort.

“I am not,” said Winthrop. “I am the District Attorney of New York.” His
tones were cold, precise; they fell upon the superheated brain of Dr.
Rainey like drops from an icicle.

“When I took over that office,” continued Winthrop, “I found a complaint
against two medical students, a failure to report the death of an old
man in a private sanitarium.”

Winthrop lowered his eyes, and became deeply absorbed in the toe of his
boot. “I haven’t looked into the papers, yet,” he said.

Rainey, swaying slightly, jerked open the door of the bedroom. “I’ll
tell him,” he panted thickly. “I’ll tell him to do as you say.”

“Thank you, I wish you would,” said Winthrop.

At the same moment, from the hall, Garrett announced, “Mrs. Vance, sir.”
 And Mabel Vance, tremulous and frightened, entered the room.

Winthrop approached her eagerly.

“Ah! Mrs. Vance,” he exclaimed, “can I see Miss Vera?”

Embarrassed and unhappy, Mrs. Vance moved restlessly from foot to foot,
and shook her head.

“Please, Mr. District Attorney,” she begged. “I’m afraid not. This
afternoon upset her so. And she’s so nervous and queer that the
Professor thinks she shouldn’t see nobody.”

“The Professor?” he commented. His voice was considerate, conciliatory.
“Now, Mrs. Vance,” he said, “I’ve known Miss Vera ever since she was a
little girl, known her longer than you have, and, I’m her friend, and
you’re her friend, and--”

“I am,” protested Mabel Vance tearfully. “Indeed I am!”

“I know you are,” Winthrop interrupted hastily. “You’ve been more than
a friend to her, you’ve been a sister, mother, and you don’t want any
trouble to come to her, do you?”

“I don’t,” cried the woman. “Oh!” she exclaimed miserably, “I told them
there’d be trouble!”

Winthrop laughed reassuringly.

“Well, there won’t be any trouble,” he declared, “if I can help it. And
if you want to help her, help me. Persuade her to let me talk to her.
Don’t mind what the Professor says.”

“I will,” declared Mrs. Vance with determination, “I will.” She started
eagerly toward the hall, and then paused and returned. Her hands were
clasped; her round, baby eyes, wet with tears, were fixed upon Winthrop
appealingly.

“Oh, please,” she pleaded, “you’re not going to hurt him, are you? Paul,
my husband,” she explained, “he’s been such a good husband to me.”

Winthrop laughed uneasily.

“Why, that’ll be all right,” he protested.

“He doesn’t mean any harm,” insisted Mrs. Vance, “he’s on the level;
true, he is!”

“Why, of course, of course,” Winthrop assented.

Unsatisfied, Mrs. Vance burst into tears. “It’s this spirit business
that makes the trouble!” she cried. “I tell them to cut it out. Now, the
mind reading at the theatre,” she sobbed, “there’s no harm in that, is
there? And there’s twice the money in it. But this ghost raising”--she
raised her eyes appealingly, as though begging to be contradicted--“it’s
sure to get him into trouble, isn’t it?”

Winthrop shook his head, and smiled.

“It may,” he said. Mrs. Vance broke into a fresh outburst of tears. “I
knew it,” she cried, “I knew it.” Winthrop placed his hand upon her arm
and turned her in the direction of the door.

“Don’t worry,” he said soothingly. “Go send Miss Vera here. And,” he
called after her, “don’t worry.”

As Mabel departed upon his errand, Rainey reentered from the bedroom.
He carefully closed the door and halted with his hand upon the knob, and
shook his head.

“It’s no use,” he said, “he will go on with it. It’s not my fault,” he
whined, “I told him it would kill him. I couldn’t make it any stronger
than that, could I?”

Rainey was not looking at Winthrop, but, as though fearful of
interruption, toward the door. His eyes were harassed, furtive, filled
with miserable indecision. Many times before Winthrop had seen men in
such a state. He knew that for the sufferer it foretold a physical break
down, or that he would seek relief in full confession. To give the man
confidence, he abandoned his attitude of suspicion.

“That certainly would be strong enough for me,” he said cheerfully. “Did
you tell him what I advised?”

“Yes, yes,” muttered Rainey impatiently. “He said you were invited here
to give advice to his niece, not to him.” For the first time his eyes
met those of Winthrop boldly. The District Attorney recognized that the
man had taken his fears by the throat, and had arrived at his decision.

“See here,” exclaimed Rainey, “could I give you some information?”

“I’m sure you could,” returned Winthrop briskly. “Give it to me now.”

But Rainey, glancing toward the door, shrank back. Winthrop, following
the direction of his eyes, saw Vera. Impatiently he waved Rainey away.

“At the office, tomorrow morning,” he commanded. With a sigh of relief
at the reprieve, Rainey slipped back into the bedroom.

Winthrop had persuaded himself that in seeking to speak with Vera,
he was making only a natural choice between preventing the girl from
perpetrating a fraud, or, later, for that fraud, holding her to account.
But when she actually stood before him, he recognized how absurdly he
had deceived himself. At the mere physical sight of her, there came
to him a swift relief, a thrill of peace and deep content; and with
delighted certainty he knew that what Vera might do or might not do
concerned him not at all, that for him all that counted was the girl
herself. With something of this showing in his face, he came eagerly
toward her.

“Vera!” he exclaimed. In the word there was delight, wonder, tenderness;
but if the girl recognized this she concealed her knowledge. Instead,
her eyes looked into his frankly; her manner was that of open
friendliness.

“Mabel tells me you want to talk to me,” she said evenly “but I don’t
want you to. I have something I want to say to you. I could have written
it, but this”--for an instant the girl paused with her lips pressed
together; when she spoke, her voice carried the firmness and finality
of one delivering a verdict--“but this,” she repeated, “is the last time
you shall hear from me, or see me again.”

Winthrop gave an exclamation of impatience, of indignation.

“No,” returned the girl, “it is quite final. Maybe you will not want to
see me, but--”

Winthrop again sharply interrupted her. His voice was filled with
reproach. “Vera!” he protested.

“Well,” said the girl more gently, “I’m glad to think you do, but this
is the last, and before I go, I--“.

“Go!” demanded Winthrop roughly. “Where?”

“Before I go,” continued the girl, “I want to tell you how much you have
helped me--I want to thank you--“.

“You haven’t let me thank you,” broke in Winthrop, “and, now, you
pretend this is our last meeting. It’s absurd!”.

“It is our last meeting,” replied the girl. Of the two, for the moment,
she was the older, the more contained. “On the contrary,” contradicted
the man. He spoke sharply, in a tone he tried to make as determined as
her own. “Our next meeting will be in ten minutes--at my sister’s. I
have told her about this afternoon, and about you; and she wants very
much to meet you. She has sent her car for you. It’s waiting in front of
the house. Now,” he commanded masterfully, “you come with me, and get in
it, and leave all this”--he gave an angry, contemptuous wave of the hand
toward the cabinet--“behind you, as,” he added earnestly, “you promised
me you would.”

As though closing from sight the possibility he suggested, the girl shut
her eyes quickly, and then opened them again to meet his.

“I can’t leave these things behind me,” she said quietly.

“I told you so this afternoon. For a moment, you made me think I could,
and I did promise. I didn’t need to promise. It’s what I’ve prayed for.
Then, you saw what happened, you saw I was right. Within five minutes
that woman came--”


“That woman had a motive,” protested Winthrop.

“That woman,” continued the girl patiently, “or some other woman. What
does it matter? In five minutes, or five days, some one would have
told.” She leaned toward him anxiously. “I’m not complaining,” she said;
“it’s my own fault. It’s the life I’ve chosen.” She hesitated and then
as though determined to carry out a programme she had already laid down
for herself, continued rapidly: “And what I want to tell you, is, that
what’s best in that life I owe to you.”

“Vera!” cried the man sharply.

“Listen!” said the girl. Her eyes were alight, eager. She spoke frankly,
proudly, without embarrassment, without fear of being misconstrued, as a
man might speak to a man.

“I’d be ungrateful, I’d be a coward,” said the girl, “if I went away and
didn’t tell you. For ten years I’ve been counting on you. I made you a
sort of standard. I said, as long as he keeps to his ideals, I’m going
to keep to mine. Maybe you think my ideals have not been very high, but
anyway you’ve made it easy for me. Because I’m in this business, because
I’m good-looking enough, certain men”--the voice of the girl grew hard
and cool--“have done me the honor to insult me, and it was knowing you,
and that there are others like you, that helped me not to care.” The
girl paused. She raised her eyes to his frankly. The look in them was
one of pride in him, of loyalty, of affection. “And now, since I’ve met
you,” she went on, “I find you’re just as I imagined you’d be, just as
I’d hoped you’d be.” She reached out her hand warningly, appealingly.
“And I don’t want you to change, to let down, to grow discouraged. You
can’t tell how many more people are counting on you.” She hesitated and,
as though at last conscious of her own boldness, flushed deprecatingly,
like one asking pardon. “You men in high places,” she stammered, “you’re
like light houses showing the way. You don’t know how many people you
are helping. You can’t see them. You can’t tell how many boats are
following your light, but if your light goes out, they are wrecked.”
 She gave a sigh of relief. “That’s what I wanted to tell you,” she said,
“and, so thank you.” She held out her hand. “And, goodby.”

Winthrop’s answer was to clasp her hand quickly in both of his, and draw
her toward him.

“Vera,” he begged, “come with me now!”

The girl withdrew her hand and moved away from him, frowning. “No,” she
said, “no, you do not want to understand. I have my work to do tonight.”

Winthrop gave an exclamation of anger.

“You don’t mean to tell me,” he cried, “that you’re going on with this?”

“Yes,” she said, And then in sudden alarm cried: “But not if you’re
here! I’ll fail if you’re here. Promise me, you will not be here.”

“Indeed,” cried the man indignantly, “I will not! But I’ll be downstairs
when you need me. And,” he added warningly, “you’ll need me.” “No,” said
the girl. “No matter what happens, I tell you, between us, this is the
end.”

“Then,” begged the man, “if this is the end, for God’s sake, Vera, as my
last request, do not do it!”

The girl shook her head. “No,” she repeated firmly. “I’ve tried to get
away from it, and each time they’ve forced me back. Now, I’ll go on with
it. I’ve promised Paul, and the others. And you heard me promise that
woman.”

“But you didn’t mean that!” protested the man. “She insulted you; you
were angry. You’re angry now, piqued--”

“Mr. Winthrop,” interrupted the girl, “today you told me I was not
playing the game. You told the truth. When you said this was a mean
business, you were right. But”--for the first time since she had spoken
her tones were shaken, uncertain--“I’ve been driven out of every other
business.” She waited until her voice was again under control, and then
said slowly, definitely, “and, tonight, I am going to show Mr. Hallowell
the spirit of his sister.”

In the eyes of Winthrop the look of pain, of disappointment, of
reproach, was so keen, that the girl turned her own away.

“No,” said the man gently, “you will not do that.”

“You can stop my doing it tonight,” returned the girl, “but at some
other time, at some other place, I will do it.”

“You yourself will stop it,” said Winthrop. “You are too honest, too
fine, to act such a lie. Why not be yourself?” he begged. “Why not
disappoint these other people who do not know you? Why disappoint the
man who knows you best, who trusts you, who believes in you--“.

“You are the very one,” interrupted the girl, “who doesn’t know me. I am
not fine; I am not honest. I am a charlatan and a cheat; I am all that
woman called me. And that is why you can’t know me. That’s why. I told
you, if you did, you would be sorry.”

“I am not sorry,” said Winthrop.

“You will be,” returned the girl, “before the night is over.”

“On the contrary,” answered the man quietly, “I shall wait here to
congratulate you--on your failure.”

“I shall not fail,” said the girl. Avoiding his eyes, she turned from
him and, for a moment, stood gazing before her miserably. Her lips were
trembling, her eyes moist with rising tears. Then she faced him, her
head raised defiantly.

“I have been hounded out of every decent way of living,” she protested
hysterically. “I can make thousands of dollars tonight,” she cried, “out
of this one.”

Winthrop looked straight into her eyes. His own were pleading, full of
tenderness and pity; so eloquent with meaning that those of the girl
fell before them.

“That is no answer,” said the man. “You know it’s not. I tell you--you
will fail.”

From the hall Judge Gaylor entered noisily. Instinctively the man
and girl moved nearer together, and upon the intruder Winthrop turned
angrily.

“Well?” he demanded sharply. “I thought you had finished your talk,”
 protested the Judge. “Mr. Hallowell is anxious to begin.”

Winthrop turned and looked at Vera steadily. For an instant the eyes of
the girl faltered, and then she returned his glance with one as resolute
as his own. As though accepting her verdict as final, Winthrop walked
quickly to the door. “I shall be downstairs,” he said, “when this is
over, let me know.”

Gaylor struggled to conceal his surprise and satisfaction. “You won’t be
here for the seance?” he exclaimed.

“Certainly not,” cried Winthrop. “I--” He broke off suddenly. Without
again looking toward Vera, or trying to hide his displeasure, he left
the room.

Gaylor turned to the girl. He was smiling with relief.

“Excellent!” he muttered. “Excellent! What was he saying to you,” he
asked eagerly, “as I came in--that you would fail?”

The girl moved past him to the door. “Yes,” she answered dully.

“But you will not!” cried the man. “We’re all counting on you, you know.
Destroy the old will. Sign the new will,” he quoted. He came close to
her and whispered. “That means thousands of dollars to you and Vance,”
 he urged.

The girl turned and regarded him with unhappy, angry eyes.

“You need not be frightened,” she answered. For the man before her and
for herself, her voice was bitter with contempt and self-accusation.
“Mr. Winthrop is mistaken. He does not know me,” she said miserably. “I
shall not fail.”

For a moment, after she had left him, Gaylor stood motionless, his eyes
filled with concern, and then, with a shrug, as though accepting either
good or evil fortune, he called from the bedroom Mr. Hallowell, and,
from the floor below, the guests of Hallowell and of Vance.

As Hallowell, supported by Rainey, sank into the invalid’s chair in the
centre of the semicircle, Gaylor made his final appeal.

“Stephen,” he begged, “are you sure you’re feeling strong enough? Won’t
some other night--” The old man interrupted him querulously.

“No, now! I want it over,” he commanded. “Who knows,” he complained,
“how soon it may be before--”

The sight of Mannie entering the room with Vance caused him to interrupt
himself abruptly. He greeted the showman with a curt nod.

“And who is this?” he demanded. Mannie, to whom a living millionaire
was much more of a disturbing spectacle than the ghost of Alexander the
Great, retreated hastily behind Vance.

“He is my assistant,” Vance explained. “He furnishes the music.” He
pushed Mannie toward the organ.

“Music!” growled Hallowell. “Must there be music?”

“It is indispensable,” protested Vance. “Music, sir, is one of the
strongest psychic influences. It--”

“Nonsense!” cried Hallowell.

“Tricks,” he muttered, “tricks!”

Vance shrugged his shoulders, and smiled in deprecation. “I am sorry to
find you in a skeptical mood, Mr. Hallowell,” he murmured reprovingly
“It will hardly help to produce good results. Allow me,” he begged, “to
present two true believers.”

With a wave of the hand he beckoned forward a stout, gray-haired woman
with bulging, near-sighted eyes that rolled meaninglessly behind heavy
gold spectacles.

“Mrs. Marsh of Lynn, Massachusetts,” proclaimed Vance, “of whom you have
heard. Mrs. Marsh,” he added, “is probably the first medium in America.
The results she has obtained are quite wonderful. She alone foretold the
San Francisco earthquake, and the run on the Long Acre Square Bank.”

“I am glad to know you,” said Mr. Hallowell. “Pardon my not rising.”

The old lady curtsied obsequiously.

“Oh, certainly, Mr. Hallowell,” she protested. “Mr. Hallowell,” she went
on, rolling the name delightedly on her tongue, “I need not tell you
how greatly we spiritualists rejoice over your joining the ranks of the
believers.”

Hallowell nodded. He was not altogether unimpressed. “Thanks,” he
commented dryly. “But I am not quite there yet, madam.”

“We hope,” said Vance sententiously, “to convince Mr. Hallowell
tonight.”

“And I am sure, Mr. Hallowell,” cried the old lady, “if any one can do
it, little Miss Vera can. Hers is a wonderful gift, sir, a wonderful
gift!”

“I am glad to hear you say so,” returned Hallowell.

He nodded to her in dismissal, and turned to the next visitor. “And this
gentleman?” he asked.

“Professor Strombergk,” announced Vance, “the distinguished writer on
psychic and occult subjects, editor of The World Beyond.”

A tall, full-bearded German, in a too-short frock coat, bowed awkwardly.
Upon him, as upon Mannie, had fallen the spell of the Hallowell fortune.
He, who chatted familiarly with departed popes and emperors, who daily
was in communication with Goethe, Caesar, and Epictetus, thrilled with
embarrassment before the man who had made millions from a coupling pin.

“And Helen!” Mr. Hallowell cried, as Miss Coates followed the Professor.
“That is all, is it not?” he asked.

Miss Coates moved aside to disclose the person of the reporter from the
Republic, Homer Lee.

“I have taken you at your word, uncle,” she said, “and have brought
a friend with me.” In some trepidation she added; “He is Mr. Lee, a
reporter from the Republic.”

“A reporter!” exclaimed Mr. Hallowell. Disturbed and yet amused at the
audacity of his niece, he shook his head reprovingly. “I don’t think I
meant reporters,” he remonstrated.

“You said in your note,” returned his niece, “that as I had so much
at stake, I could bring any one I pleased, and the less he believed in
spiritualism, the better. Mr. Lee,” she added dryly, “believes even less
than I do.”

“Then it will be all the more of a triumph, if we convince him,”
 declared Hallowell. “Understand, young man,” he proclaimed loudly, “I am
not a spiritualist. I am merely conducting an investigation. I want the
truth. If you, or my niece, detect any fraud tonight, I want to
know it.” Including in his speech the others in the room, he glared
suspiciously in turn at each. “Keep your eyes open,” he ordered, “you
will be serving me quite as much as you will Miss Coates.”

Miss Coates and Lee thanked him and, recognizing themselves as the
opposition and in the minority, withdrew for consultation into a corner
of the bay window.

Vance approached Mr. Hallowell.

“If you are ready,” he said, “we will examine the cabinet. Shall I wheel
it over here, or will you look at it where it is?”

“If it is to be in that corner during the seance,” declared Mr.
Hallowell, “I’ll look at it where it is.”

As he struggled from his chair, he turned to Mrs. Marsh, and nodded
his head knowingly. “You see, Mrs. Marsh,” he said, “I am taking no
chances.”

“That is quite right, Mr. Hallowell,” purred the old lady. “If there
be any doubt in your mind, you must get rid of it, or we will have no
results.”

With a dramatic gesture, Vance swept aside from the opening in the
cabinet the black velvet curtain. “It’s a simple affair,” he said
indifferently. “As you see, it’s open at the top and bottom. The medium
sits inside on that chair, bound hand and foot.”

In turn, Mr. Hallowell, Mrs. Marsh, Gaylor, Rainey, Professor Strombergk
entered the cabinet. With their knuckles they beat upon its sides. They
moved it to and fro. They dropped to their knees, and with their fingers
tugged at the carpet upon which it stood.

Under cover of their questions, in the corner of the bay window, Miss
Coates whispered to Lee; “Don’t look now,” she warned, “but later, you
will see on the left of that door the switch that throws on the lights.
When I am sure she is outside the cabinet, when she has told him not to
give the money to me, I’ll cry now! and whichever one of us is seated
nearer the switch will turn on all the lights. I think,” Miss Coates
added with, in her voice, a thrill of triumph not altogether free from a
touch of vindictiveness, “when my uncle sees her caught in the middle of
the room, disguised as his sister--we will have cured him.”

“It may be,” said the man.

The possibility of success as Miss Coates pointed it out did not appear
to stir in him any great delight. He glanced unwillingly over his
shoulder. “I see the switch,” he said.

Leaning on the arm of Gaylor, Mr. Hallowell returned from the cabinet
to his chair. What he had seen apparently strengthened his faith and, in
like degree, inspired him to greater enthusiasm.

“Well,” he exclaimed, “there are no trapdoors or false bottoms about
that! If they can project a spirit from that sentry box, it will be
a miracle. For whom are we waiting?” he asked impatiently. “Where is
Winthrop?”

Judge Gaylor explained that Winthrop preferred to wait downstairs, and
that he had said he would remain there until the seance was finished.

“Afraid of compromising his position,” commented the old man. “I’m
sorry. I’d like to have him here.” He motioned Gaylor to bend nearer.
In a voice that trembled with eagerness and excitement, he whispered:
“Henry, I have a feeling that we are going to witness a remarkable
phenomenon.”

Gaylor’s countenance grew preternaturally grave. He nodded heavily.

“I have the same feeling, Stephen,” he returned.

Vance raised his hand to command silence.

“Every one,” he called, “except the committee, who are to bind and tie
the medium, will take the place I give him, and remain in it. Mr. Day
will please acquaint Miss Vera and Mrs. Vance with the fact that we are
ready.”

Up to this point Vance had appeared only as a stage manager. He had
been concerned with his groupings, his lights, in assigning to his
confederates the parts they were to play. Now that the curtain was
to rise, as an actor puts on a wig and grease paint, Vance assumed a
certain voice and manner. On the stage the critics would have called him
a convincing actor. He made his audience believe what he believed. He
knew the eloquence of a pause, the value of a surprised, unintelligible
exclamation. One moment he was as professionally solemn as a “funeral
director;” the next, his voice, his whole frame, would shake with
excitement, in an outburst of fanatic fervor. As it pleased him he
could play Hamlet, tenderly shocked at the sight of his dead father, or
Macbeth, retreating in horror before the ghost of Banquo. For the moment
his manner was that of the undertaker.

“Now, Mr. Hallowell,” he said hoarsely, “please to name those you wish
to serve on the committee.”

Mr. Hallowell waved his arm to include every one in the room.

“Everybody will serve on the committee,” he declared. “Everything is to
be open and above-board. The whole city is welcome on the committee. I
want this to be above suspicion.”

“That is my wish, also, sir,” said Vance stiffly. “But a committee of
more than three is unwieldy. Suppose you name two gentlemen and I one?
Or,” he shrugged his shoulders, “you can name all three.”

After a moment of consideration Mr. Hallowell pointed at Lee. “I choose
Mr.--that young man,” he announced, “and Judge Gaylor.”

“I would much rather not, Stephen,” Judge Gaylor whispered.

“I know, Henry,” answered the other. “But I ask it of you. It will give
me confidence.” He turned to Vance. “You select some one,” he commanded.

With a bow, Vance designated the tall German.

“Will Professor Strombergk be acceptable?” he asked. Mr. Hallowell
nodded.

“Then, the three gentlemen chosen will please come to the cabinet.”

Vance, his manner now that of a master of ceremonies, assigned to each
person the seat he or she was to occupy. Miss Coates with satisfaction
noted that only Mrs. Vance separated Lee from the electric switch.

“I must ask you,” said Vance, “to keep the sears I have assigned to you.
With us tonight are both favorable and unfavorable influences. And
what I have tried to do in placing you, is to obtain the best psychic
results.” He moved to the door and looked into the hall, then turned,
and with uplifted arm silently demanded attention.

“Miss Vera,” he announced. Followed closely, like respectful courtiers,
by Mannie and Mrs. Vance, Vera appeared in the doorway, walked a few
feet into the room, and stood motionless. As though already in a trance,
she moved slowly, without volition, like a somnambulist. Her head was
held high, but her eyes were dull and unseeing. Her arms hung limply.
She wore an evening gown of soft black stuff, that clung to her like
a lace shawl, and which left her throat and arms bare. In spite of the
clash of interests, of antagonism, of mutual distrust, there was no
one present to whom the sight of the young girl did not bring an uneasy
thrill. The nature of the thing she proposed to do, contrasted with
the loveliness of her face, which seemed to mock at the possibility
of deceit; something in her rapt, distant gaze, in the dignity of her
uplifted head, in her air of complete detachment from her surroundings,
caused even the most skeptical to question if she might not possess
the power she claimed, to feel for a moment the approach of the
supernatural.

The voices of the committee, consulting together, dropped suddenly to a
whisper; the others were instantly silent.

In his arms Mannie carried silken scarfs, cords, and ropes. In each hand
he held a teacup. One contained flour, the other shot. Vance took these
from him, and Mannie hurriedly slipped into his chair in front of the
organ.

“Gentlemen,” explained Vance, “you will use these ropes and scarfs
to tie the medium. Also, as a further precaution against the least
suspicion of fraud, we will subject her to the most severe test known.
In one hand she will hold this flour; the other will be filled with
shot. This will make it impossible for her to tamper with the ropes.”

He gave the two cups to Gaylor, and turned to Vera.

“Are you ready?” he asked. After a pause, the girl slightly inclined
her head. Lee, with one of the scarfs in his hand, approached her
diffidently. He looked unhappily at the slight, girlish figure, at the
fair white arms. In his embarrassment he appealed to Vance.

“How would you suggest?” he asked.

Vance, apparently shocked, hastily drew away. “That would be most
irregular,” he protested.

Apologetically Lee turned to the girl.

“Would you mind putting your arms behind you?” he asked. He laced the
scarf around her arms, and drew it tightly to her wrists.

“Tell me if I hurt you,” he murmured, but the girl made no answer. To
what was going forward she appeared as unmindful as though she were an
artist’s manikin.

“Will you take these now?” asked Gaylor, and into her open palms he
poured the flour and shot. “And, now,” continued Lee, “will you go into
the cabinet?” As she seated herself, he knelt in front of her and bound
her ankles. From behind her Strombergk deftly wound the ropes about her
body and through the rungs and back of the chair.

“Would you mind seeing if you can withdraw your arms?” Lee asked. The
girl raised her shoulders, struggled to free her hands, and tried to
rise. But the efforts were futile.

“Are the gentlemen satisfied?” demanded Vance. The three men, who
had shown but little heart in the work, and who were now red and
embarrassed, hastily answered in the affirmative.

“If you are satisfied the ropes are securely fastened,” Vance continued,
“you will take your seats.” Professor Strombergk, as he moved to his
chair, announced in devout, solemn tones; “Nothing but spirit hands can
move those ropes now.”

From the organ rose softly the prelude to a Moody and Sankey hymn, and,
in keeping with the music, the voice of Vance sank to a low tone.

“We will now,” he said, “establish the magnetic chain. Each person will
take with his right hand the left wrist of the person on his or her
right.” He paused while this order was being carried into effect.

“Before I turn out the lights,” he continued, “I wish to say a last word
to any skeptic who may be present. I warn him that any attempt to lay
violent hands upon the apparition, or spirit, may cost the medium her
life. From the cabinet the medium projects the spirit into the circle.
An attack upon the spirit, is an attack upon the medium. There are three
or four well-authenticated cases where the disembodied spirit was cut
off from the cabinet, and the medium died.”

He drew the velvet curtains across the cabinet, and shut Vera from
view. “Are you ready, Mr. Hallowell?” he asked. Mr. Hallowell, his eyes
staring, his lips parted, nodded his head. The music grew louder. Vance
switched off the lights.

For some minutes, except for the creaking of the pedals of the organ and
the low throb of the music, there was no sound. Then, from his position
at the open door, the voice of Vance commanded sternly: “No whispering,
please. The medium is susceptible to the least sound.” There was another
longer pause, until in hushed expectant tones Vance spoke again. “The
air is very heavily charged with electricity tonight,” he said, “you,
Mrs. Marsh, should feel that?”

“I do, Professor,” murmured the medium, “I do. We shall have some
wonderful results!”

Vance agreed with her solemnly. “I feel influences all about me,” he
murmured.

There came suddenly from the cabinet three sharp raps. These were
instantly answered by other quick rappings upon the library table.
“They are beginning!” chanted the voice of Vance. The music of the organ
ceased. It was at once followed by the notes of a guitar that seemed to
float in space, the strings vibrating, not as though touched by human
hands, but in fitful, meaningless chords like those of an Aeolian harp.

“That is Kiowa, your control, Mrs. Marsh,” announced Vance eagerly. “Do
you desire to speak to him?”

“Not tonight,” Mrs. Marsh answered. She raised her voice. “Not tonight,
Kiowa,” she repeated. “Thank you for coming. Good night.”

In deep, guttural accents, a man’s voice came from the ceiling. “Good
night,” it called. With a final, ringing wail, the music of the guitar
suddenly ceased.

Again rose the swelling low notes of the organ. Above it came the quick
pattering of footsteps.

The voice of Rainey, filled with alarm, cried, “some one touched me!”

“Are you sure your hands are held?” demanded Vance reprovingly.

“Yes,” panted Rainey, “both of them. But something put its hand on my
forehead. It was cold.”

In an excited whisper, a voice in the circle cried, “Look, look!” and
before the eyes of all, a star rose in the darkness. For a moment it
wavered over the cabinet and then fluttered swiftly across the room and
remained stationary above the head of the German Professor.

“There is your star, Professor,” cried Vance. “When the Professor is in
the circle,” he announced proudly, “that star always appears.”

He was interrupted by a startled exclamation from Lee.

“Something touched my face,” explained the young man apologetically,
“and spoke to me.”

The music sank to a murmur, and the room became alive with swift,
rushing sounds and soft whisperings.

The voice of Mrs. Marsh, low and eager, could be heard appealing to an
invisible presence.

“The results are marvelous,” chanted Vance, “marvelous! The medium is
showing wonderful power. If any one desires to ask a question, he should
do so now. The conditions will never be better.” He paused expectantly.
“Mr. Hallowell,” he prompted, “is it your wish to communicate with any
one in the spirit world?”

There was a long pause, and then the voice of Mr. Hallowell, harsh and
shaken, answered, “Yes.”

“With whom?” demanded Vance.

There was again another longer pause, and then, above the confusion of
soft whisperings, the voice of the old man rose in sharp staccato; “My
sister, Catherine Coates.” His tone hardened, became obdurate, final.
“But, I must see her, and hear her speak!”

Not for an instant did Vance hesitate. In tense, sepulchral tones, he
demanded of the darkness, “Is the spirit of Catherine Coates present?”

The whisperings and murmurs ceased. The silence of the room was broken
sharply by three quick raps. “Yes,” intoned Vance, “she is present.”

The voice of Hallowell protested fiercely. “I won’t have that! I want to
see her!”

In the tone of an incantation, Vance spoke again. “Will the spirit show
herself to her brother?” The raps came quickly, firmly.

“She answers she will appear before you.”

There was a moment that seemed to stretch interminably, and then, the
eyes of all, straining in the darkness, saw against the black velvet
curtain a splash of white.

Above the sobbing of the organ, the voice of Mr. Hallowell rang out in
a sharp exclamation of terror. “Who is that!” he demanded. He spoke as
though he dreaded the answer. He threw himself forward in his chair,
peering into the darkness.

“Is that you, Kate?” he whispered. His voice was both incredulous and
pleading.

The answer came in feeble, trembling tones. “Yes.”

The voice of Hallowell shook with eagerness. “Do you know me, your
brother, Stephen?”

“Yes.”

With a cry the old man fell back, groping blindly. He found Gaylor’s arm
and clutched it with both hands.

“My God! It’s Kate!” he gasped. “I tell you, Henry, it is Kate!”

The voice of Vance, deep and hollow like a bell, sounded a note of
warning. “Speak quickly,” he commanded. “Her time on earth is brief.”
 Mr. Hallowell’s hold upon the arm of his friend relaxed. Fearfully and
slowly, he bent forward.

“Kate!” he pleaded; “I must ask you a question. No one else can tell
me.” As though gathering courage, he paused, and, with a frightened
sigh, again began. “I am an old man,” he murmured, “a sick man. I will
be joining you very soon, what am I to do with my money? I have made
great plans to give it to the poor. Or, must I give it, as I have given
it in my will, to Helen? Perhaps I did not act fairly to you and Helen.
You know what I mean. She would be rich, but then the poor would be
that much the poorer.” The confidence of the speaker was increasing; as
though to a living being, he argued and pleaded. “And I want to do some
good before I go. What shall I do? Tell me.”

There was a pause that lasted so long that those who had held their
breath to listen, again breathed deeply. When the answer came, it was
strangely deprecatory, uncertain, unassured.

“You,” stammered the voice, “you must have courage to do what you know
to be just!”

For a brief moment, as though surprised, Mr. Hallowell apparently
considered this, and then gave an exclamation of disappointment and
distress.

“But I don’t know,” he protested, “that is why I called on you. I want
to go into the next world, Kate,” he pleaded, “with clean hands!”

“You cannot bribe your way into the next world,” intoned the voice. “If
you pity the poor, you must help the poor, not that you may cheat your
way into heaven, but that they may suffer less. Search your conscience.
Have the courage of your conscience.”

“I don’t want to consult my conscience,” cried the old man. “I want you
to tell me.” He paused, hesitating. Eager to press his question, his awe
of the apparition still restrained him.

“What do you mean, Kate?” he begged. “Am I to give the money where it
will do the most good--to the Hallowell Institute, or am I to give it to
Helen? Which am I to do?”

There was another long silence, and then the voice stammered; “If--if
you have wronged me, or my daughter, or the poor, you must make
restitution.”

The hand of the old man was heard to fall heavily upon the arm of his
chair. His voice rose unhappily.

“That is no answer, Kate!” he cried. “Did you come from the dead to
preach to me? Tell me--what am I to do--leave my money to Helen, or to
the Institute?”

The cry of the old man vibrated in the air. No voice rose to answer.
“Kate!” he entreated. Still there was silence. “Speak to me!” he
commanded. The silence became eloquent with momentous possibilities. So
long did it endure, that the pain of the suspense was actual. The voice
of Rainey, choked and hoarse with fear, broke it with an exclamation
that held the sound of an oath. He muttered thickly, “What in the name
of--”

He was hushed by a swift chorus of hisses. The voice of Hallowell was
again uplifted.

“Why won’t she answer me?” he begged hysterically of Vance. “Can’t
you--can’t the medium make her speak?”

During the last few moments the music from the organ had come brokenly.
The hands upon the keys moved unsteadily, drunkenly. Now they halted
altogether and in the middle of a chord the music sank and died. Upon
the now absolute silence the voice of Vance, when he spoke, sounded
strangely unfamiliar. It had lost the priest-like intonation. Its
confidence had departed. It showed bewilderment and alarm.

“I--I don’t understand,” stammered the showman. “Ask her again. Put your
question differently.”

Carefully, slowly, giving each word its value, Mr. Hallowell raised his
voice in entreaty.

“Kate,” he cried, “I have made a new will, leaving the money to the
poor. The old will gives it to Helen. Shall I sign the new will or not?
Shall I give the money to Helen, or the Institute? Answer me! Yes or
no.”

Before the eyes of all, the apparition, as though retreating to the
cabinet, swayed backward, then staggered forward. There was a sob,
human, heart-broken, a cry, thrilling with distress; a tumult of
weeping, fierce and uncontrollable.

They saw the figure tear away the white kerchief and cap, and trample
them upon the floor. They saw the figure hold itself erect. From it, the
voice of Vera cried aloud, in despair.

“I can’t! I can’t!” she sobbed. “It’s a lie! I am not your sister! Turn
on the lights,” the girl cried. “Turn on the lights!”

There was a crash of upturned chairs, the sound of men struggling, and
the room was swept with light. In the doorway Winthrop was holding apart
Vance and the reporter.

In the centre of the room stood Vera, her head bent in shame, her body
shaken and trembling, her hair streaming to her waist.

As though to punish herself, by putting a climax to her humiliation, she
held out her arms to Helen Coates. “You see,” she cried, “I am a cheat.
I am a fraud!” She sank suddenly to her knees in front of Mr. Hallowell.
“Forgive me,” she sobbed, “forgive me!”

With a cry of angry protest, Winthrop ran to her and lifted her to her
feet. His eyes were filled with pity. But in the eyes of Mr. Hallowell
there was no promise of pardon. With sudden strength he struggled to his
feet and stood swaying, challenging those before him. His face was white
with anger, his jaw closed against mercy.

“You’ve lied to me!” he cried. “You’ve tried to rob me!” He swept the
room with his eyes. With a flash of intuition, he saw the trap they had
laid for him. “All of you!” he screamed. “It’s a plot!” He shook his
fist at the weeping girl. “And you!” he shouted hysterically, “the law
shall punish you!”

Winthrop drew the girl to him and put his arm about her.

“I’ll do the punishing here,” he said.

With a glad, welcoming cry, the old man turned to him appealingly,
wildly.

“Yes, you!” he shouted, “you punish them! She plotted to get my money.”

The girl at Winthrop’s side shivered, and shrank from him. He drew her
back roughly and held her close. The sobs that shook her tore at his
heart; the touch of the sinking, trembling body in his arms filled him
with fierce, jubilant thoughts of keeping the girl there always, of
giving battle for her, of sheltering her against the world. In what she
had done he saw only a sacrifice. In her he beheld only a penitent, who
was self-accused and self-convicted.

He heard the voice of the old man screaming vindictively, “She plotted
to get my money!”

Winthrop turned upon him savagely.

“How did she plot to get it?” he retorted fiercely. “You know, and I
know. I know how your lawyer, your doctor, your servant plotted to get
it!” His voice rose and rang with indignation. “You all plotted, and you
all schemed--and to what end--what was the result?”--he held before them
the fainting figure of the girl--“That one poor child could prove she
was honest!”

With his arms still about her, and her hands clinging to him, he moved
with her quickly to the door. When they had reached the silence of the
hall, he took her hands in his, and looked into her eyes. “Now,” he
commanded, “you shall come to my sisters!”

The waiting car carried them swiftly up the avenue. Their way lay
through the park, and the warm, mid-summer air was heavy with the odor
of plants and shrubs. Above them the trees drooped deep with leaves.
Vera, crouched in a corner, had not spoken. Her eyes were hidden in
her hands. But when they had entered the silent reaches of the park she
lowered them and the face she lifted to Winthrop was pale and wet with
tears. The man thought never before had he seen it more lovely or more
lovable. Vera shook her head dumbly and looked up at him with a troubled
smile.

“I told you,” she murmured remorsefully, “you’d be sorry.”

“We don’t know that yet,” said Winthrop gently, “we’ll have all the rest
of our lives to find that out.”

Startled, the girl drew back. In her face was wonder, amazement, a
dawning happiness.

Without speaking, Winthrop looked at her, entreatingly, pitifully,
beseeching her with his eyes.

Slowly the girl bent forward and, as he threw out his arms, with a
little sigh of rest and content she crept into them and pressed her face
to his.





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