The Vision Spendid
by William MacLeod Raine
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He must send word at once to Jeff and let him try to remedy the mischief.

His cousin, coming into the office with Rawson just as James took down the receiver of the telephone, noticed at once the disturbance of the latter.

James told his story. It was clear to him that he must anticipate Killen's disclosure of his visit to The Brakes and so draw the sting from it as far as possible. But his natural reluctance to shoulder blame made him begin with Killen's defection.

"I told you to let me deal with the little traitor," Rawson exploded.

"He was quite satisfied when I left him yesterday. They must have got at him again," Jeff suggested. "I left O'Brien with him. But I was dead sure of him."

James cleared his throat and began casually. "I expect the little beggar got suspicious when he saw Big Tim coming to my office."

"To your office?" Rawson cut in sharply.

The lawyer flushed, but his eyes met and quelled the incipient doubt in those of the politician. "Yes, he came to feel the ground. Of course I told him flatly where I stood. But Killen must have thought something was doing he wasn't in on. It seems he followed me to The Brakes yesterday afternoon when I called on Mrs. Van Tyle."

"Followed you to The Brakes. Good Lord!" groaned Rawson. "What in Mexico were you doing there?"

"Thought I mentioned that I was calling on Mrs. Van-Tyle," returned James stiffly.

"Wasn't that call a little injudicious under the circumstances, James?" contributed Jeff with his whimsical smile.

"I suppose I may call wherever I please."

"It was a piece of dashed foolishness, that's what it was. You say Killen saw you. The thing will fly like dust in the wind. It will be buzzed all over the House by this time and every man that wants to sell out will find a reason right there," stormed Rawson.

"Are you implying that I sold out?" demanded James icily.

Jeff put a conciliatory hand on his cousin's shoulder. "Of course he doesn't. He isn't a fool, James. But there's a good deal in what Rawson says. It was a mistake. The waverers will find in it their excuse for deserting. Of course Big Tim has been at them all night. We'll go right up to the House in your machine, Rawson. We haven't a moment to lose."

Rawson nodded. "It's dollars to doughnuts the thing is past mending, but it's up to us to see. If I can only get at Killen in time I'll choke the story in his throat. You wait here at the 'phone, Jeff, and I'll call you up if you're needed at this end of the line. Better have a taxi waiting below in case you need one. Come along, James."

If he did not get to Killen in time it was not Rawson's fault, for he made his car flash up and down Verden's hills with no regard to the speed limit. He swept it along Powers Avenue, dodging in and out among the traffic of the busy city like a halfback through a broken field after a kick. With a twist of the wheel he put the machine at the steep hill of Yarnell Way, climbed the brow of it, and plunged with a flying leap down the long incline to the State House.

James clung to the swaying side of the car as it raced down. It was raining hard, and the drops stung their faces like bird shot. Two hundred yards in front appeared a farm wagon, leaped toward them, and disappeared in the gulf behind. A dog barking at them from the roadside was for an instant and then was not. In their wake they left cursing teamsters, frightened horses, women and children scurrying for safety; and in the driver's seat Rawson sat goggle-eyed and rigid, swallowing the miles that lay in front of him.

The car took the last incline superbly and swung up the asphalt carriage way to a Yale finish at the marble stairway of the State House. Rawson was running up the steps almost before the machine had stopped. Farnum caught him at the elevator and a minute later they entered together the assembly room of the House.

One swift glance told Rawson that Killen was not in his seat, and as his eyes swept the room he noted also the absence of Pitts, Bentley, and Miller. Of the doubtful votes only Ashton and Reilly were present.

He flung a question, "anything of Bentley, Akers?"

"Mr. Bentley! Why, yes, sir. He was called to the telephone a few minutes ago and he left at once. Mr. Miller went with him, and Mr. Pitts."

"Were Ashton and Reilly here then?"

"No, sir. They came in a moment before you did."

Rawson drew Farnum to one side and whispered.

"Killen must have gone right from your room to Big Tim. They got the others on the phone. They must have been on that street car we met a mile back. There's just a chance to head 'em off. I'll chase back in my machine while you call up Jeff and have him meet the car as it comes in. Tell him not to let them out of his sight if he has to hold them with a gun. You keep an eye on Reilly and Ashton. Don't let anyone talk to them or get them on the phone. Better take them up to the library."

James nodded sulkily. He did not like Rawson's peremptory manner any the better because he knew his indiscretion had called it down upon him. What he had been unable to forget for the past hour was that if this break to Frome had happened yesterday it would have been he that gave the orders and Rawson who jumped to execute them. Now he had slipped back to second place.

He caught Jeff on the line and repeated Rawson's orders without comment of his own, after which he went back from the committee room, gathered up Reilly and Ashton, and took them on a pretext to the library.

It must have been nearly an hour later that a messenger boy handed James a note. It was a hasty scribble from Rawson.

Euchred, by thunder! Both Jeff and I missed them. Big Tim butted in with a car at Grover Street before we could make connections. Am waiting at the House for them. Don't bring A. & R. in till time to vote. FROME CAN'T WIN IF YOU MAKE THEM BOTH STICK.

James stuck the note in his pocket and flung himself with artificial animation into the story he was telling. Once or twice the others suggested a return to the House, but he always had just one more good story they must hear. Since only routine business was under way there was no urgency, and when at length they returned to the House chamber the clock pointed to five minutes to twelve.

Rawson and two or three of the staunchest Hardy men relieved Farnum of his charge in the cloak room and took care of the two doubtfuls. The seats of Bentley, Miller, Pitts and Killen were still vacant, and there was a tense watchfulness in the room that showed rumors were flying of a break in the deadlock.

Already the state senators were drifting in for the noon joint sessions, and along with them came presently the missing assemblymen flanked by O'Brien and Frome adherents.

The President of the Senate called the session to order and announced that the eleventh general assembly would now proceed to take the sixty-fourth ballot for the election of a United States Senator.

In an oppressive silence the clerk began to call the roll.


A raw-boned farmer from one of the coast counties rose and answered "Hardy."


In broken English a fat Swede shouted, "Harty."


"Hardy." The word fell hesitantly from dry lips. The man would have voted for the Transcontinental candidate had he dared, but he was not sure enough that the crucial moment was at hand and the pressure of his environment was too great.


Three hundred eyes focused expectantly on the gaunt white-faced legislator who rose nervously at the sound of his name and almost inaudibly gulped the word "Frome."

A fierce tumult of rage and triumph rose and fell and swelled again. Bentley became the center of a struggling vortex of roaring humanity and found himself tossed hither and thither like a chip in a choppy sea.

It was many minutes before the clerk could proceed with the roll-call. When his name was reached James said "Hardy" in a clear distinct voice that brought from the gallery a round of applause sharply checked by the presiding officer. Killen gave his vote for Frome tremulously and shrank from the storm he had evoked. Rawson could be seen standing on his seat, one foot on the top of his desk, shaking his fist at him in purple apoplectic rage, the while his voice rose above the tumult, "You damned Judas! You damned little traitor!"

The presiding officer beat in vain with his gavel for quiet. Not until they had worn themselves to momentary exhaustion could the roll-call be continued.

Miller and Pitts voted for Frome and stirred renewed shouts of support and execration.

"Takes one more change to elect Frome. All depends on Reilly now," Rawson whispered hoarsely to Jeff. "If he sticks we're safe for another twenty-four hours."

But Reilly, knowing the decisive moment had come, voted for Frome and gave him the one more needed to elect. Pandemonium was loose at once. The Transcontinental forces surrounded him and fought off the excited men he had betrayed who tried to get at him to make him change his vote. The culminating moment of months of battle had come and mature men gave themselves to the abandon of the moment like college boys after a football game.

When at last the storm had subsided Ashton, who had seen several thousand dollars go glimmering because his initial came at the beginning of the alphabet instead of at the close, in the hope of still getting into the bandwagon in time moved to make the election unanimous. His suggestion was rejected with hoots of derision, and Frome made the conventional speech of acceptance to a House divided against itself.

Jeff joined his cousin as he was descending the steps to the lower hall. "Don't blame yourself, old man. It would have happened anyhow in a day or two. They were looking for a chance to desert. We couldn't have held them. Better luck next time."

James found cold comfort in such consolation. He was dissatisfied with the part he had played in the final drama. Instead of being the hero of the hour, he was the unfortunate whose blunder had started the avalanche. Yet he was gratified when Rawson said in effect the same thing as Jeff.

"And I'm going to have the pleasure of telling that damned little Killen what I think of him," the politician added with savage satisfaction.

"Don't blame him. He's only a victim. What we must do is to change the system that makes it possible to defeat the will of the people through money," Jeff said.

"How are you going about it?" Rawson demanded incredulously.

"We'll go after the initiative and referendum right now while the people are stirred up about this treachery. The very men who threw us down will support us to try and square themselves. The bill will slip through as if it were oiled," Jeff prophesied.

"Oh, hang your initiative and referendum. I'm a politician, not a socialist reformer," grinned Rawson.

James said nothing.

Part 2

If the years were bringing Jeff a sharper realization of the forces that control so much of life they were giving him too the mellowness that can be in revolt without any surrender of faith in men. He could for instance now look back on his college days and appreciate the kindness and the patience of the teachers whom he had then condemned. They had been conformists. No doubt they had compromised to the pressure of their environment. But somehow he felt much less like judging men than he used to in the first flush of his intellectual awakening. It was perhaps this habit of making allowance for weakness, together with his call to the idealism in them, that made him so effective a worker with men.

He was as easy as an old shoe, but people sensed the steel in him instinctively. In his quiet way he was coming to be a power. For one thing he was possessed of the political divination that understands how far a leader may go without losing his following. He knew too how to get practical results. It was these qualities that enabled him out of the wreckage of the senatorial defeat to build a foundation of victory for House Bill 77.

To bring into effect Jeff's pet measure of the initiative and referendum necessitated an amendment to the state constitution, which must be passed by two successive legislative assemblies and ratified by a vote of the people in order to become effective. The bill had been slumbering in committee, but immediately after the senatorial election Jeff insisted on having it brought squarely to the attention of the House.

His feeling for the psychological moment was a true one and he succeeded by a skillful newspaper campaign in rallying the people to his support. The sense of outrage felt at this shameless purchase of a seat in the Senate, accented by a knowledge of its helplessness to avenge the wrong done it, counted mightily in favor of H. B. No. 77 just now. It promised a restoration of power to the people, and the clamor for its passage became insistent.

A good deal of quiet lobbying had been done for the bill, and the legislators who had sold themselves, having received all they could reasonably expect from the allied corporations, were anxious to make a show of standing for their constituents. Politicians in general considered the bill a "freak" one. Some who voted for it explained that they did not believe in it, but felt the people should have a chance to vote on it themselves. By a large majority it passed the House. Two days later it squeezed through the Senate.

Rawson, who had been persuaded half against his judgment to support the bill, lunched with Jeff that day.

"Now watch the corporations dig a grave for your little pet at the next legislature," he chuckled, helping himself to bread while he waited for the soup.

"They may. Then again they may not," Farnum answered. "We are ruled by political machines and corporations only as long as we let them. I've a notion the people are going to assert themselves at the next election."

"How are you going to make the will of the dear people effective with the assembly?" asked Rawson, amused.

"Make the initiative and referendum the issue of the campaign. Pledge the legislators to vote for it before nominating them."

"Pledge them?" grinned Rawson cynically. "Weren't they pledged to support Hardy? And did they?"

"No, but they'll stick next time, I think."

"You're an incurable optimist, my boy."

"It isn't optimism this time. It's our big stick."

"Didn't know we had one."

"Do you remember House Bill 19?"

"No. What's that got to do with it?"

"It slipped through early in the session. Anderson introduced it. Nobody paid any attention to it because he's a back country Swede and his bill was very wordy. The governor signed it to-day. That bill provides for the recall of any public official, alderman or legislator if the people are not satisfied with his conduct."

The big man stared. "I thought it only applied to district road supervisors. Were you back of that bill, Jeff?"

"I had it drawn up and helped steer it through the committee, though I was careful not to appear interested."

"You sly old fox! And nobody guessed it had general application. None of us read the blamed thing through. You're going to use it as a club to make the legislators stand pat on their pledges."


"But don't you see how revolutionary your big stick is?" Rawson's smile was expansive. "Why, hang it, man, you're destroying the fundamental value of representative government. It's a deliberate attack on graft."

"Looks like it, doesn't it?"

It was while Rawson was waiting for his mince pie piled with ice cream that he ventured a delicate question.

"Say, Jeff! What about James? Is he getting ready to flop over to the enemy?"

"No. Why do you ask that?"

"I notice he explained when he voted for House Bill 77 that he reserved the right to oppose it later. Said he hadn't made up his mind, but felt the people should be given a chance to express themselves on it."

Upon Farnum's face rested a momentary gravity. "I can't make James out lately. He's lost his enthusiasm. Half the time he's irritable and moody. I think perhaps he's been blaming himself too much for Hardy's defeat."

Rawson laughed with cynical incredulity. "That's it, is it?"


"Faustina hath the fairest face, And Phillida the better grace; Both have mine eye enriched: This sings full sweetly with her voice; Her fingers make so sweet a noise; Both have mine ear bewitched. Ah me! sith Fates have so provided, My heart, alas! must be divided."


Part 1

With the adjournment of the legislature politics became a less absorbing topic of interest. James at least was frankly glad of this, for his position had begun to be embarrassing. He could not always stand with a foot in either camp. As yet he had made no break with the progressives. Joe Powers had given him a hint that he might be more useful where he was. But as much as possible he was avoiding the little luncheons at which Jeff and his political friends were wont to foregather. He gave as an excuse the rush of business that was swamping him. His excuse at least had the justification of truth. His speeches had brought him a good many clients and Frome was quietly throwing cases his way.

It was at one of these informal little noonday gatherings that Rawson gave his opinion of the legal ability of James.

"He isn't any great lawyer, but he never gives it away. He knows how to wear an air of profound learning with a large and impressive silence. Roll up the whole Supreme Court into one and it can't look any wiser than James K. Farnum."

Miller laughed. "Reminds me of what I heard last week. Jeff was walking down Powers Avenue with James and an old fellow stopped me to point them out. There go the best citizen and the worst citizen in this town, he said. I told him that was rather hard on James. You ought to have heard him. For him James is the hero of the piece and Jeff the villain."

"Half the people in this town have got that damn fool notion," Captain Chunn interrupted violently.

"More than half, I should say."

"Every day or two I hear about how dissipated Jeff used to be and how if it were not for his good and noble cousin he would have gone to the deuce long ago," Rawson contributed.

Chunn pounded on the table with his fist. "Jeff's own fault. Talk about durn fools! That boy's got them all beat clear off the map. And I'm dashed if I don't like him better for it."

"Move we change the subject," suggested Rawson. "Here comes Verden's worst citizen."

With a casual nod of greeting round the table Jeff sat down.

"Any of you hear James' speech before the Chamber of Commerce yesterday? It was bully. One of his best," he said as he reached for the menu card.

Captain Chunn groaned. The rest laughed. Jeff looked round in surprise. "What's the joke?"

Part 2

It was a great relief to James, in these days when the complacency of his self-satisfaction was a little ruffled, to call often on Valencia Van Tyle and let himself drift pleasantly with her along primrose paths where moral obligations never obtruded. Under the near-Venetian ceiling of her den, with its pink Cupids and plump dimpled cherubs smiling down, he was never troubled about his relation to Hardy's defeat. Here he got at life from another slant and could always find justification to himself for his course.

She had a silent divination of his moods and knew how to minister indolently to them. The subtle incense of luxury that she diffused banished responsibility. In her soft sensuous blood the lusty beat of duty had small play.

But even while he yielded to the allure of Valencia Van Tyle, admitting a finish of beauty to which mere youth could not aspire, all that was idealistic in him went out to the younger cousin whose admiration and shy swift friendship he was losing. His vanity refused to accept this at first. She was a little piqued at him because of the growing intimacy with Valencia. That was all. Why, it had been only a month or two ago that her gaze had been warm for him, that her playful irony had mocked sweetly his ambition for service to the community. Their spirits had touched in comradeship. Almost he had caught in her eyes the look they would hold for only one man on earth. The best in him had responded to the call. But now he did not often meet her at The Brakes. When he did a cool little nod and an indifferent word sufficed for him. How much this hurt only James himself knew.

One of the visible signs of his increasing prosperity was a motor car, in which he might frequently be seen driving with the daughter of Joe Powers, to the gratification of its owner and the envy of Verden. The cool indifference with which Mrs. Van Tyle ignored the city's social elite had aroused bitter criticism. Since she did not care a rap for this her escapades were frankly indiscreet. James could not really afford a machine, but he justified it on the ground that it was an investment. A man who appears to be prosperous becomes prosperous. A good front is a part of the bluff of twentieth century success. He did not follow his argument so far as to admit that the purchase of the car was an item in the expenses of a campaign by which he meant to make capital out of a woman's favor to him, even though his imagination toyed with the possibilities it might offer to build a sure foundation of fortune.

"You should go to New York," she told him once after he had sketched, with the touch of eloquence so native to him, a plan for a line of steamers between Verden and the Orient.

"To be submerged in the huddle of humanity. No, thank you."

"But the opportunities are so much greater there for a man of ability."

"Oh, ability!" he derided. "New York is loaded to the water line with ability in garrets living on crusts. To win out there a man must have a pull, or he must have the instinct for making money breed, for taking what other men earn."

She studied him, a good-looking, alert American, sheet-armored in the twentieth century polish of selfishness, with an inordinate appetite for success. Certainly he looked every inch a winner.

"I believe you could do it. You're not too scrupulous to look out for yourself." Her daring impudence mocked him lightly.

"I'm not so sure about that." James liked to look his conscience in the face occasionally. "I respect the rights of my fellows. In the money centers you can't do that and win. And you've got to win. It doesn't matter how. Make good—make good! Get money—any way you can. People will soon forget how you got it, if you have it."

"Dear me! I didn't know you were so given to moral reflections." To Alice, who had just come into the room to settle where they should spend their Sunday, Valencia explained with mock demureness the subject of their talk. "Mr. Farnum and I are deploring the immoral money madness of New York and the debilitating effects of modern civilization. Will you deplore with us, my dear?"

The younger woman's glance included the cigarette James had thrown away and the one her cousin was still smoking. "Why go as far as New York?" she asked quietly.

Farnum flushed. She was right, he silently agreed. He had no business futtering away his time in a pink boudoir. Nor could he explain that he hoped his time was not being wasted.

"I must be going," he said as casually as he could.

"Don't let me drive you away, Mr. Farnum. I dropped in only for a moment."

"Not at all. I have an appointment with my cousin."

"With Mr. Jefferson Farnum?" Alice asked in awakened interest. "I've just been reading a magazine article about him. Is he really a remarkable man?"

"I don't think you would call him remarkable. He gets things done, in spite of being an idealist."

"Why, in spite of it?"

"Aren't reformers usually unpractical?"

"Are they? I don't know. I have never met one." She looked straight at Farnum with the directness characteristic of her. "Is the article in Stetson's Magazine true?"

"Substantially, I think."

Alice hesitated. She would have liked to pursue the subject, but she could not very well do that with his cousin. For years she had been hearing of this man as a crank agitator who had set himself in opposition to her father and his friends for selfish reasons. Her father had dropped vague hints about his unsavory life. The Stetson write-up had given a very different story. If it told the truth, many things she had been brought up to accept without question would bear study.

James suavely explained. "The facts are true, but not the inferences from the facts. Jeff takes rather a one-sided view of a very complex situation. But he's perfectly honest in it, so far as that goes."

"You voted for his bill, didn't you?" Alice asked.

"Yes, I voted for it. But I said on the floor I didn't believe in it. My feeling was that the people ought to have a chance to express an opinion in regard to it."

"Why don't you believe in it?"

Valencia lifted her perfect eyebrows. "Really, my dear, I didn't know you were so interested in politics."

Alice waited for the young man's answer.

"It would take me some time to give my reasons in full. But I can give you the text of them in a sentence. Our government is a representative one by deliberate choice of its founders. This bill would tend to make it a pure democracy, which would be far too cumbersome for so large a country."

"So you'll vote against it next time to save the country," Alice suggested lightly. "Thank you for explaining it." She turned to her cousin with an air of dismissing the subject. "Well, Val. What about the yacht trip to Kloochet Island for Sunday? Shall we go? I have to 'phone the captain to let him know at once."

"If you'll promise not to have it rain all the time," the young widow shrugged with a little move. "Perhaps Mr. Farnum could join us? I'm sure uncle would be pleased."

Alice seconded her cousin's invitation tepidly, without any enthusiasm. James, with a face which did not reflect his disappointment, took his cue promptly. "Awfully sorry, but I'll be out of the city. Otherwise I should be delighted."

Valencia showed a row of dainty teeth in a low ripple of amusement. Alice flashed her cousin one look of resentment and with a sentence of conventional regret left the room to telephone the sailing master.

Farnum, seeking permission to leave, waited for his hostess to rise from the divan where she nestled.

But Valencia, her fingers laced in characteristic fashion back of her neck, leaned back and mocked his defeat with indolent amused eyes.

"My engagement," he suggested as a reminder.

"Poor boy! Are you hard hit?"

"Your flights of fancy leave me behind. I can't follow," he evaded with an angry flush.

"No, but you wish you could follow," she laughed, glancing at the door through which her cousin had departed. Then, with a demure impudent little cast of her head, she let him have it straight from the shoulder. "How long have you been in love with Alice? And how will you like to see Ned Merrill win?"

"Am I in love with Miss Frome?"

"Aren't you?"

"If you say so. It happens to be news to me."

"As if I believed that, as if you believed it yourself," she scoffed.

Her pretty pouting lips, the long supple unbroken lines of the soft sinuous body, were an invitation to forget all charms but hers. He understood that she was throwing out her wiles, consciously or unconsciously, to strike out from him a denial that would convince her. His mounting vanity drove away his anger. He forgot everything but her sheathed loveliness, the enticement of this lovely creature whose smoldering eyes invited. Crossing the room, he stood behind her divan and looked down at her with his hands on the back of it.

"Can a man care much for two women at the same time?" he asked in a low voice.

She laughed with slow mockery.

Her faint perfume was wafted to his brain. He knew a besieging of the blood. Slowly he leaned forward, holding her eyes till the mockery faded from them. Then, very deliberately, he kissed her.

"How dare you!" she voiced softly in a kind of wonder not free from resentment. For with all her sensuous appeal the daughter of Joe Powers was not a woman with whom men took liberties.

"By the gods, why shouldn't I dare? We played a game and both of us have lost. You were to beckon and coolly flit, while I followed safely at a distance. Do you think me a marble statue? Do you think me too wooden for the strings of my heart to pulsate? By heaven, my royal Hebe, you have blown the fire in me to life. You must pay forfeit."

"Pay forfeit?"

"Yes. I'm your servant no longer, but your lover and your master—and I intend to marry you."

"How ridiculous," she derided. "Have you forgotten Alice?"

"I have forgotten everything but you—and that I'm going to marry you."

She laughed a little tremulously. "You had better forget that too. I'm like Alice. My answer is, 'No, thank you, kind sir.'"

"And my answer, royal Hebe, is this." His hot lips met hers again in abandonment to the racing passion in him.

"You—barbarian," she gasped, pushing him away.

"Perhaps. But the man who is going to marry you."

She looked at him with a flash of almost shy curiosity that had the charm of an untasted sensation. "Would you beat me?"

"I don't know." He still breathed unevenly. "I'd teach you how to live."

"And love?" She was beginning to recover her lightness of tone, though the warm color still dabbed her cheeks.

"Why not?" His eyes were diamond bright. "Why not? You have never known the great moments, the buoyant zest of living in the land that belongs only to the Heirs o Life."

"And can you guide me there?" The irony in her voice was not untouched with wistfulness.

"Try me."

She laughed softly, stepped to the table, and chose a cigarette. "My friend, you promise impossibilities. I was not born to that incomparable company. To be frank, neither were you. Alice, grant you, belongs there. And that mad cousin of yours. But not we two earth creepers. We're neither of us star dwellers. In the meantime"—she lit her Egyptian and stopped to make sure of her light every moment escaping more definitely from the glamor of his passion—"you mentioned an engagement that was imperative. Don't let me keep you from it."


From The New Catechism

Question: What is the whole duty of man?

Answer: To succeed.

Q. What is success?

A. Success is being a Captain of Industry.

Q. How may one become a Captain of Industry?

A. By stacking in his barns the hay made by others while the sun shines.

Q. But is this not theft?

A. Not if done legally and respectably on a large scale. It is high finance.


Part 1

Jeff never for a day desisted from his fight to win back for the people the self rule that had been wrested from them for selfish purposes by corporate greed. "Government by the people" was the watchword he kept at the head of his editorial column. Better a bad government that is representative than a good one emanating from the privileged few, he maintained with conviction.

To his office came one day Oscar Marchant, the little, half-educated Socialist poet, coughing from the exertion of the stairs he had just climbed. He had come begging, the consumptive presently explained.

"Remember Sobieski, the Polish Jew?"

Jeff smiled. "Of course. Philosophical anarchy used to be his remedy."

"Starvation is the one he's trying now," returned Marchant grimly. "He's had typhoid and lost his job. The rent's due and they'll be turned out tomorrow. He's got a wife and two kids."

Farnum asked questions briefly and pulled out his check book. "Tell Sobieski not to worry," he said as he handed over a check. "I'll send a reporter out there and we'll make an appeal through the World. Of course his own name won't be used. No one will know who it really is. We'll look out for him till he's on his feet again."

Marchant gave him the best he had. "You're a pretty good Socialist, even though you don't know it."

"Am I?"

"But you're blind as a bat. The things you fight for in the World don't get to the bottom of what ails us."

"We've got to forge the tools of freedom before we can use them, haven't we?"

"You're all for patching up the rotten system we've got. It will never do."

"Great changes are most easily brought about under the old forms. Men's minds in the mass move slowly. They can see only a little truth at a time."

"Because they are blinded by ignorance and selfishness. Get at bottom facts, Farnum. What's the one great crime?"

Without a moment's hesitation Jeff answered. "Poverty. All other crimes are paltry beside that."

Marchant cocked himself up on the window seat with his legs doubled under him tailor fashion. "Why?"

"Because it stamps out hope and love and aspiration, all that is fine and true in life."

"Exactly. Men ought to love their work. But how can they love that which is always associated in their minds with a denial of justice? Is it likely that men will work better under a system whereby they are condemned in advance to failure than under one standing rationally for a just and fair division of the fruits of labor? I tell you, Farnum, under present conditions the Juggernaut of progress is forever wasting humanity."

"I've always thought it a pity that the mainsprings of work should be fear and greed instead of hope and love," Jeff agreed.

"Why is it that poverty coexists with wealth increasing so rapidly? Why is it that productive power has been so enormously developed without lightening the burdens of labor?"

Marchant's eyes were starlike in their earnestness. He had a passion for humanity that neither want nor disease could quench, and with it a certain gift of expression street oratory had brought out. Even in private conversation he had got into the way of declaiming. But Jeff knew he was no empty talker. All that he had he literally gave to the poor.

"Because the whole spirit of business life is wrong," Farnum responded.

"Of course it's wrong. It's a survival of the law of the jungle, of tooth and fang. Its motto is dog eat dog. We all work under the rule of get and grab. What's the result of this higgledypiggledy system? One man starves and another has indigestion. That's the trouble with Verden to-day. Some of us haven't enough and others have too much. They take from us what we earn. That's the whole cause of poverty. The Malthusian theory is all wrong. It's not nature, but man that is to blame."

Farnum knew the little Socialist was right so far. Here in Verden, under the forms of freedom, was the very essence of slavery. All the product of labor was taken from it except enough to sustain a mere animal existence. Something was wrong in a world where a man begs in vain for work to support his family. Given proper conditions, men would not rise by trampling each other down, but by lending a hand to the unfortunate. The effect of efficiency would be to make things easier for the weak. The reward of service would be more service.

"The principle of the old order is dead," Marchant went on, wagging his thin forefinger at Jeff. "The whole social fabric is made up of lies, compromises, injustice. The only reason it has hung together so long is that people have been trained to think along certain lines like show animals. But they're waking up. Look at Germany. Look at England. What the plutocrats call the menace of Socialism is everywhere. Now that every worker knows he is being robbed of what he earns, how long do you think he will carry the capitalistic system on his back? From the beginning of the world we have tried it. With what result? An injustice that is staggering, a waste that is appalling, an inhumanity that is deadening."

Jeff let a hand fall lightly on his shoulder. "Of course it's all wrong. We know that. But can you show me how to make it right, except out of the hearts of men growing slowly wiser and better?"

"Why slowly?" demanded Marchant. "Why not to-day while we're still alive to see the smiles of men and women and children made glad? You always want to begin at the wrong end. I tell you that you can't change men's hearts until you change the conditions under which they live."

"And I tell you that you can't change the conditions until you change men's hearts," Jeff answered with his wistful smile.

"Rubbish! The only way to change the hearts of most plutocrats is to hit them over the head with a two-by-four. Smug respectability is in the saddle, and it knows it's right. We'll get nowhere until we smash this iniquitous system to smithereens."

"So you want to substitute one system for another. You think you can eliminate by legal enactment all this fatty degeneration of greed and selfishness that has incased our souls. I'm afraid it will be a slower process. We must free ourselves from within. I believe we are moving toward some sort of a socialistic state. No man with eyes in his head can help seeing that. But we'll move a step at a time, and only so fast as the love and altruism inside us can be organized into external law."

"No. You'll wake up some morning and find that this whole capitalistic organization has crumbled in the night, fallen to pieces from dry rot."

Jeff might not agree with him, but he knew that Marchant, dreamer and incoherent poet, his heart aflame with zeal for humanity, was far nearer the truth of life than the smug complacent Pharisees that fattened from the toil of the helpless many who could do nothing but suffer in dumb silence.

Part 2

As the months passed Jeff grew in stature with the people of the state. In spite of his energy he was always fair. The plain truth he felt to be a better argument than the tricks of a demagogue.

A rational common sense was to be found in all his advice. Add to this that he had no personal profit to seek, no political axe to grind, and was always transparent as a child. More and more Verden recognized him as the one most conspicuous figure in the state dedicated to uncompromising war against the foes of the Republic.

Those who knew him best liked his humility, his good humor, the gentleness that made him tolerant of the men he must fight. His poise lifted him above petty animosities, and the daily sand-stings of life did not disturb his serenity.

Everywhere his propaganda gained ground. People's Power Leagues were formed with a central steering committee at Verden. Politicians with their ears close to the ground heard rumbles of the coming storm. They began to notice that reputable business men, prominent lawyers not affiliated with corporations, and even a few educators who had shaken away the timidity of their class were lining up to support Jeff's freak legislation. It began to look as if one of those periodical uprisings of the people was about to sweep the state.

Big Tim found his ward workers met persistently by the same questions from their ordinarily docile following. "Why shouldn't we tie strings to our representatives so as to keep them from betraying us?... Why can't we make laws ourselves in emergency and kill bad laws the legislature makes?... What's the matter with taking away some of the power from our representatives who have abused it?"

In the city election O'Brien went down to defeat. Only fragments of his ticket were saved from the general wreckage. Next day Joe Powers wired James Farnum to join him immediately at Chicago.

"I'm going to put you in charge of the political field out there," the great man announced, his gray granite eyes fastened on the young lawyer. "Ned Merrill won't do. Neither will O'Brien. Between them they've made a mess of things."

"I don't know that it is their fault, except indirectly. One of those populistic waves swept over the city."

"Why didn't they know what was going to happen? Why didn't they let me know? That's what I pay them for."

"A child could have foreseen it, but O'Brien wouldn't believe his eyes. He's been giving Verden an administration with too much graft. The people got tired of it."

"What were Merrill and Frome up to? Why did they permit it?" demanded Powers impatiently.

"They were looking out for their franchises. To get the machine's support they had to give O'Brien a free hand."

"If necessary you had better eliminate Big Tim. Or at least put him and his gang in the background. Make the machine respectable so that good citizens can indorse it."

James nodded agreement. "I've been thinking about that. The thing can be done. A business men's movement from inside the party to purify it. A reorganization with new men in charge. That sort of thing."

"Exactly. And how about the state?"

"Things don't look good to me."

"Why not?"

"This initiative and referendum idea is spreading."

Powers drove his fist into a pile of papers on the desk. "Stop it. I give you carte blanche. Spend as much as you like. But win. What good is a lobby to me if those hare-brained farmers can kill every bill we pass through their grafting legislature?"

The possibilities grew on Farnum. "I'll send Professor Perkins of Verden University to New Zealand to prepare a paper showing the thing is a failure there. I'll have every town in the state thoroughly canvassed by lecturers and speakers against the bill. I'll bombard the farmers with literature."

"What about the newspapers?"

"We control most of them. At Verden only the World is against us."

"Buy it."

"Can't be bought. Its editorial columns are not for sale."

"Anything can be bought if you've got the price. Who owns it?"

"A Captain Chunn. He made his money in Alaska. My cousin is the editor. He is the real force back of it."

"Does the paper have any influence?"

"A great deal."

"I've heard of your cousin. A crack-brained Socialist, I understand."

"You'll find he's a long way from that," James denied.

"Whatever he is, buy him," ordered Powers curtly.

The young man shook his head. "Can't be done. He doesn't want the things you have to offer."

"Every man has his price. Find his, and buy him."

James shook his head decisively. "Absolutely impossible. He's an idealist and an altruist."

Powers snorted impatiently. "Talk English, young man, and I'll understand you."

Farnum had heard Joe Powers was a man who would stand plain talk from those who had the courage to give it him. His cool eyes hardened. Why not? For once the old gray pirate, chief of the robber buccaneers who rode on their predatory way superior to law, should see himself as Jeff Farnum saw him.

"What I mean is that the things he holds most important can't be bought with dollars and cents. He believes in justice and fair play. He thinks the strong ought to bear the burdens of the weak.

"He has a passion to uplift humanity. You can't understand him because it isn't possible for you to conceive of a man whose first thought is always for what is equitable."

"Just as I thought, a Socialist dreamer and demagogue," pronounced Powers scornfully.

"Merrill and Frome have been thinking of him just as you do." James waved his hand toward the newspaper in front of the railroad king. "With what result our election shows."

"Well, where does his power lie? How can you break it?" the old man asked.

"He is a kind of brother to the lame and the halt all over the state. Among the poor and the working classes he has friends without number. They believe in him as a patriot fighting for them against the foes of the country."

"Do you call me a foe of the country, young man?" Powers wanted to know grimly.

"Not I," laughed James. "Why should I quarrel with my bread and jam? If you had ever done me the honor to read any of my speeches you would see that I refer to you as a Pioneer of Civilization and a Builder for the Future. But my view doesn't happen to be universal. I was trying to show you how the man with the dinner pail feels."

"Who fills his dinner pails?"

James met his frown with a genial eye. "There's a difference of opinion about that, sir. According to the economics of Verden University you fill them. According to the World editorials it's the other way. They fill yours."

"Hmp! And what's your personal opinion? Am I a robber of labor?"

"I think that the price of any success worth while is paid for in the failure of others. You win because you're strong, sir. That's the law of the game. It's according to the survival of the fittest that you're where you are. If you had hesitated some other man would have trampled you down. It's a case of wolf eat wolf."

The old railroad builder laughed harshly. This was the first time in his experience that a subordinate had so analyzed him to his face.

"So I'm a wolf, am I?"

"In one sense of the word you're not that at all, sir. You're a great builder. You've done more for the Northwest than any man living. You couldn't have done it if you had been squeamish. I hold the end justifies the means. What you've got is yours because you've won it. Men who do a great work for the public are entitled to great rewards."

"Glad to know you've got more sense than that fool cousin of yours. Now go home and beat him. I don't care how you do it, just so that you get results. Spend what money you need, but make good, young man—make good."

"I'll do my best," James promised.

"All I demand is that you win. I'm not interested in the method you use. But put that cousin of yours out of the demagogue business if you have to shanghai him."

James laughed. "That might not be a bad way to get rid of him till after the election. The word would leak out that he had been bought off."

The old buccaneer's eyes gleamed. He was as daring a lawbreaker as ever built or wrecked a railroad. "Have you the nerve, young man?"

"When I'm working for you, sir," retorted James coolly.

"What do you mean by that?"

"If I've studied your career to any purpose, sir, one thing stands out pretty clear. You haven't the slightest respect for law merely as law. When it's on your side you're a stickler for it; when it isn't you say nothing, but brush it aside as if it did not exist. In either case you get what you want."

"I'm glad you've noticed that last point. Now we'll have luncheon." He smiled grimly. "I daresay you'll enjoy it no less because I stole it from the horny hand of labor, by your mad cousin's way of it."

"Not a bit," answered James cheerfully.


"Must it be? Must we then Render back to God again This, His broken work, this thing For His man that once did sing?" —Josephine Prestor Peabody.

"And listen! I declare to you that if all is as you say—and I do not doubt it—you have never ceased to be virtuous in the sight of God!"—Victor Hugo.


Part 1

Sam Miller came into Jeff's office one night as he was looking over the editorials. Farnum nodded abstractedly to him.

"Take a chair, Sam. Be through in a minute."

Presently Jeff pushed the galley proof to one side and looked at his friend. "Well, Sam?" Almost at once he added: "What's the matter?"

There were queer white patches on Miller's fat face. He looked like a man in hell. A lump rose in his throat. Two or three times he swallowed hard.

"It's—it's Nellie."

"Nellie Anderson?"

He nodded.

Jeff felt as if his heart had been drenched in icy water. "What about her?"


"Gone where?"

"We don't know. She left Friday. There was a note for her mother. It said to forget her, because she was a disgrace to her name."

"You mean—" Jeff did not finish his question. He knew what the answer was, and in his soul lay a reflection of the mortal sickness he saw in his friend's face.

Miller nodded, unable to speak. Presently his words came brokenly. "She's been acting strangely for a long time. Her mother noticed it.... So did I. Like as if she wasn't happy. We've been worried. I...I..." He buried his face in his arm on the table. "My God, I love her, Jeff. I have for years. If I'd only known... if she'd only told me."

Jeff was white as the galley proof that lay before him with the unprinted side up. "Tell me all about it, Sam."

Miller looked up. "That's all. We don't know where she's gone. She had no money to speak of."

"And the man?" Jeff almost whispered.

"We don't know who he is. Might be any one of the clerks at the Verden Dry Goods Company. Maybe it's none of them. If I knew I'd cut his heart out."

The clock on the wall ticked ten times before Jeff spoke. "Did she go alone?"

"We don't know. None of the clerks are missing from the store where she worked. I checked up with the manager yesterday."

Another long silence. "They may have rooms in town here."

"Not likely." Presently Miller added miserably: "She's—going to be a mother soon. We found the doctor she went to see."

"You're sure she hasn't been married? Of course you've looked over the marriage licenses for the past year."

"Yes. Her name isn't on the list."

"Did she have money?"

"About fifteen dollars, we figure."

"That wouldn't take her far—unless the man gave her some. Have you been to a detective agency?"


"We'll put blind ads in all the papers telling her to come home. We'll rake the city and the state with a fine tooth comb. We're bound to hear of her."

"She's desperate, Jeff. If she's alone she'll think she has no friends. We've got to find her in time or—"

Jeff guessed the alternative. She might take the easy way out, the one which offered an escape from all her earthly troubles. Girls of her type often did. Nellie was made for laughter and for happiness. He had known her innocent as a sunbeam and as glad. Now that she was in the pit, facing disgrace and disillusionment and despair, the horror and the dread of existence to her would be a millstone round her neck.

The damnable unfairness of it took. Jeff by the throat. Was it her fault that she had inherited a temperament where passions lurked unsuspected like a banked fire? Was she to blame because her mother had brought her up without warning, because she had believed in the love and the honor of a villain? Her very faith and trust had betrayed her. Every honest instinct in him cried out against the world's verdict, that she must pay with salt tears to the end of her life while the scoundrel who had led her into trouble walked gaily to fresh conquests.

Cogged dice! She had gone forth smiling to play the game of life with them, never dreaming that the cubes were loaded. He remembered how once her every motion sang softly to him like music, with what dear abandon she had given herself to his kisses. Her fondness had been a thing to cherish, her innocence had called for protection. And her chivalrous lover had struck the lightness forever from her soul.

For long he never thought of her without an icy sinking of the heart.

Part 2

Weeks passed. Sam Miller gave his whole time to the search for the missing girl. Jeff supplied the means; in every way he could he encouraged him and the broken mother. For a thousand miles south and east the police had her description and her photograph. But no trace of her could be found. False clews there were aplenty. A dozen haggard streetwalkers were arrested in mistake for her. Patiently Sam ran down every story, followed every possibility to its hopeless end.

The weeks ran into months. Mrs. Anderson still hoped drearily. Every night the light in the hall burned now till daybreak. And every night she wept herself to sleep for that her one ewe lamb was lost in a ravenous world.

Tears were for the night. Wan smiles for the day, when she and Sam, drawn close by a common grief, met to understand each other with few words. He was back again at his work as curator of the museum at the State House, a place Jeff had secured for him after the election.

Outside of Nellie's mother the one friend to whom Sam turned now was Jeff. He came for comfort, to sit long hours in the office while Farnum did his night work. Sometimes he would read; more often sit brooding with his chin in his hands. When the midnight rush was past and Jeff was free they would go together to a restaurant.

Afterwards they would separate at the door of the block where Jeff had his rooms.

Part 3

Yet when Jeff found her it was not Sam who was with him, but Marchant. They had been to see Sobieski about a place Captain Chunn had secured for him as a night watchman of the shipbuilding plant of which Clinton Rogers was part owner. The Pole had mounted his hobby and it had been late when they got away from his cabin under the viaduct.

Just before they turned into lower Powers Avenue from the deadline below Yarnell Way, Marchant clutched at the sleeve of his friend.

"See that woman's face?" he asked sharply.


Jeff was interested at once. For during the past months he had fallen into a habit of scanning the countenance of any woman who might be the one they sought.

"She knew you. I could see fear jump to her eyes."

"We'll go back," Jeff decided instantly.

"She's in deep water. Death is written on her face."

Already Jeff was swinging back, almost on the run. But she had gone swallowed up in the darkness of the night. They listened, but could hear only the steady splashing of the rain. While they stood hesitating the figure of a woman showed at the other end of the alley and was lost at once down Pacific Avenue.

Jeff ran toward the lights of the other avenue, but before he reached it she had again disappeared. Marchant joined him a few moments later. The little socialist leaned against the wall to steady himself against the fit of coughing that racked him.

"Nuisance... this... being a lunger... What's it all... about, Jeff?"

"I know her. We'll cover the waterfront. Take from Coffee Street up. Don't miss a wharf or a boathouse. And if you find the girl don't let her get away."

The editor crossed to the Pacific & Alaska dock, his glance sweeping every dark nook and cranny that might conceal a huddled form. Out of a sodden sky rain pelted in a black night.

He was turning away when an empty banana crate behind him crashed down from a pyramid of them. Jeff whirled, was upon her in an instant before she could escape.

She was shrinking against the wall of the warehouse, her face a tragic mask in its haggard pallor, a white outline clenched hard against the driving rain. One hand was at her heart, the other beat against the air to hold him back.

"Nellie!" he cried.

"What do you want? Let me alone! Let me alone!" She was panting like a spent deer, and in her wild eyes he saw the hunted look of a forest creature at bay.

"We've looked everywhere for you. I've come to take you home."

"Home!" Her strange laughter mocked the word. "There's no home for folks like me in this world."

"Your mother is breaking her heart for you. She thinks of nothing else. All night she keeps a light burning to let you know."

She broke into a sob. "I've seen it. To-night I saw it—for the last time."

"It is pitiful how she waits and waits," he went on quietly. "She takes out your dresses and airs them. All the playthings you used when you were a little girl she keeps near her. She—"

"Don't! Don't!" she begged.

"Your place is set at the table every day, so that when you come in it may be ready."

At that she leaned against the crates and broke down utterly. Jeff knew that for the moment the battle was won. He slipped out of his rain coat and made her put it on, coaxing her gently while the sobs shook her. He led her by the hand back to Pacific Avenue, talking cheerfully as if it were a matter of course.

Here Marchant met them.

"I want a cab, Oscar," Jeff told him.

While he was gone they waited in the entrance to a store that sheltered them from the rain.

Suddenly the girl turned to Jeff. "I—I was going to do it to-night," she whispered.

He nodded. "That's all past now. Don't think of it. There are good days ahead—happy days. It will be new life to your mother to see you. We've all been frightfully anxious."

She shivered, beginning to sob once more. Not for an instant had he withdrawn the hand to which she clung so desperately.

"It's all right, Nellie...All right at last. You're going home to those that love you."

"Not to-night—not while I'm looking like this. Don't take me home to-night," she begged. "I can't stand it yet. Give me to-night, please. I..."

She trembled like an aspen. Jeff could see she was exhausted, in deadly fear, ready to give way to any wild impulse that might seize her. To reason with her would do no good and might do much harm. He must humor her fancy about not going home at once. But he could not take her to a rooming house and leave her alone while her mind was in this condition. She must be watched, protected against herself. Otherwise in the morning she might be gone.

"All right. You may have my rooms. Here's the cab."

Jeff helped her in, thanked Marchant with a word, got in himself, and shut the door. They were driven through streets shining with rain beneath the light clusters. Nellie crouched in a corner and wept. As they swung down Powers Avenue they passed motor car after motor car filled with gay parties returning from the theaters. He glimpsed young women in furs, wrapped from the cruelty of life by the caste system in which wealth had incased them. Once a ripple of merry laughter floated to him across the gulf that separated this girl from them.

A year ago her laughter had been light as theirs. Life had been a thing beautiful, full of color. She had come to it eagerly, like a lover, glad because it was so good.

But it had not been good to her. By the cluster lights he could see how fearfully it had mauled her, how cruelly its irony had kissed hollows in her young cheeks. All the bloom of her was gone, all the brave pride and joy of youth—gone beyond hope of resurrection. Why must such things be? Why so much to the few, so little to the many? And why should that little be taken away? He saw as in a vision the infinite procession of her hopeless sisters who had traveled the same road, saw them first as sweet and carefree children bubbling with joy, and again, after the World had misused them for its pleasure, haggard, tawdry, with dragging steps trailing toward the oblivion that awaited them. Good God, how long must life be so terribly wasted? How long a bruised and broken thing instead of the fine, brave adventure for which it was meant?

Across his mind flashed Realf's words:

"Amen!" I have cried in battle-time, When my beautiful heroes perished; The earth of the Lord shall bloom sublime By the blood of his martyrs nourished. "Amen!" I have said, when limbs were hewn And our wounds were blue and ghastly The flesh of a man may fail and swoon But God shall conquer lastly.

Part 4

As Jeff helped her from the cab in front of the block where he lived a limousine flashed past. It caught his glance for an instant, long enough for him to recognize his Cousin James, Mrs. Van Tyle and Alice Frome. The arm which supported Nellie did not loosen from her waist, though he knew they had seen him and would probably draw conclusions.

The young woman was trembling violently.

"My rooms are in the second story. Can you walk? Or shall I carry you?" Farnum asked.

"I can walk," she told him almost in a whisper.

He got her upstairs and into the big armchair in front of the gas log. Now that she had slipped out of his rain coat he saw that she was wet to the skin. From his bedroom he brought a bathrobe, pajamas, woolen slippers, anything he could find that was warm and soft. In front of her he dumped them all.

"I'm going down to the drug store to get you something that will warm you, Nellie. While I'm away change your clothes and get into these things," he told her.

She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. "You're good."

A lump rose in his heart. He thought of those evenings before the grate alone with her and of the desperate fight he had had with his passions. Good! He accused himself bitterly for the harm that he had done her. But before her his smile was bright and cheerful.

"We're all going to be so good to you that you'll not know us. Haven't we been waiting two months for a chance to spoil you?"

"Do you... know?" she whispered, color for an instant in her wan face.

"I know things aren't half so bad as they seem to you. Dear girl, we are your friends. We've not done right by you. Even your mother has been careless and let you get hurt. But we're going to make it up to you now."

A man on the other side of the street watched Jeff come down and cross to the drug store. Billie Gray, ballot box stuffer, detective, and general handy man for Big Tim O'Brien, had been lurking in that entry when Jeff came home. He had sneaked up the stairs after them and had seen the editor disappear into his rooms with one whom he took to be a woman of the street. Already a second plain clothes man was doing sentry duty. The policeman whose beat it was sat in the drug store and kept an eye open from that quarter.

To the officer Jeff nodded casually. "Bad weather to be out all night in, Nolan."

"Right you are, Mr. Farnum."

The editor ordered a bottle of whiskey and while it was being put up passed into the telephone booth and closed the door behind him. He called up Olive 431.

Central rang again and again.

"Can't get your party," she told him at last.

"You'll waken him presently. Keep at it, please. It's very important."

At last Sam Miller's voice answered. "Hello! Hello! What is it?"

"I've found Nellie.... Just in time. thank God...She's at my rooms.... Have Mrs. Anderson bring an entire change of clothing for her.... Yes, she's very much exhausted. I'll tell you all about it later.... Come quietly. She may be asleep when you get here."

Jeff hung up the receiver, paid for the whiskey, and returned to his rooms. He did not know that he had left three good and competent witnesses who were ready to take oath that he had brought to his rooms at midnight a woman of the half world and that he had later bought liquor and returned with it to his apartment.

Billie Gray thumped his fist into his open palm. "We've got him. We've got him right. He can't get away from it. By Gad, we've got him at last!"

Jeff found Nellie wrapped in his bathrobe in the big chair before the gas log. Her own wet clothes were out of sight behind a screen.

"You locked the door when you went out," she charged.

"Some of my friends might have dropped in to see me," he explained with his disarming smile.

But he could see in her eyes the unreasoning fear of a child that has been badly hurt. He had locked the door on the outside. She was going to be dragged home whether she wanted to go or not. Dread of that hour was heavy on her soul. Jeff knew the choice must be hers, not his. He spoke quietly.

"You're not a prisoner, of course. You may go whenever you like. I would have no right to keep you. But you will hurt me very much if you go before morning."

"Where will you stay?" she asked.

"I'll sleep on the lounge in this room," he answered in his most matter of fact voice.

While he busied himself preparing a toddy for her she began to tell brokenly, by snatches, the story of her wanderings. She had gone to Portland and had found work in a department store at the notion counter. After three weeks she had lost her place. Days of tramping the streets looking for a job brought her at last to an overall factory where she found employment. The foreman had discharged her at the end of the third day. Once she had been engaged at an agency as a servant by a man, but as soon as his wife saw her Nellie was told she would not do. Bitter humiliating experiences had befallen her. Twice she had been turned out of rooming houses. Jeff read between the lines that as her time drew near some overmastering impulse had drawn her back to Verden. Already she was harboring the thought of death, but she could not die in a strange place so far from home. Only that morning she had reached town.

After she had retired to the bedroom Jeff sat down in the chair she had vacated. He heard her moving about for a short time. Presently came silence.

It must have been an hour and a half later that Sam and Mrs. Anderson knocked gently on the door.

"Cars stopped running. Had to 'phone for a taxi," Miller whispered.

The agitation of the mother was affecting. Her fingers twitched with nervousness. Her eyes strayed twenty times in five minutes toward the door behind which her daughter slept. Every little while she would tip-toe to it and listen breathlessly. In whispers Jeff told them the story, answering a hundred eager trembling questions.

Slowly the clock ticked out the seconds of the endless night. Gray day began to sift into the room. Mrs. Anderson's excursions to the bedroom door grew more frequent. Sometimes she opened it an inch or two. On one of these occasions she went in quickly and shut the door behind her.

"Good enough. They don't need us here, Sam. We'll go out and have some breakfast," Jeff proposed.

On the street they met Billie Gray. He greeted the editor with a knowing grin. "Good morning, Mr. Farnum. How's everything? Fine and dandy, eh?"

Jeff looked at him sharply. "What the mischief is he doing here?" he asked Miller by way of comment.

All through breakfast that sinister little figure shadowed his thoughts. Gray was like a stormy petrel. He was surely there for no good, barring the chance of its being an accident. Both of them kept their eyes open on their way back, but they met nobody except a policeman swinging his club as he leaned against a lamp post and whistled the Merry Widow waltz.

But Farnum was not satisfied. He cautioned both Sam and Mrs. Anderson to say nothing, above all to give no names or explanation to anybody. A whisper of the truth would bring reporters down on them in shoals.

"You had better stay here quietly to-day," their host advised. "I'll see you're not disturbed by the help. Sam will bring your meals in from a restaurant. I'd say stay here as long as you like, but it can't be done without arousing curiosity, the one thing we don't want."

"No, better leave late to-night in a taxi," Sam proposed.

"Better still, I'll bring around Captain Chunn's car and Sam can drive you home. We can't be too careful."

So it was arranged. Mrs. Anderson left it to them and went back into the bedroom where her wounded lamb lay.

About midnight Jeff stopped a car in front of the stairway. The two veiled women emerged, accompanied by Sam. They were helped into the tonneau and Miller took the driver's seat. Just as the machine began to move a little man ran across the street toward them.

Jeff's forearm went up suddenly and caught him under the chin. Billie Gray's head went back and his heels came up. Farnum was on him in an instant, ostensibly to help him up, but really to see he did not get up too quickly. As soon as the automobile swung round the corner Jeff lifted him to his feet.

"Sorry. Hope I didn't hurt you," he smiled.

"Smart trick, wasn't it?" snarled the detective. "Never mind, Mr. Farnum. We've got your goat right."

"Again?" Jeff asked with pleasant impudence.

"Got you dead to rights this trip." Gray fired another shot as he turned away. "And we'll find out yet who your lady friends are. Don't you forget it."

But Billie had overlooked a bet. He had been in the back of the drug store getting a drink when Sam and Mrs. Anderson arrived. The policeman on guard had not connected the coming of these with Jeff. None of the watchers knew that Jeff had not been alone with the girl all night.

Part 5

Sam called on Jeff two days later.

"I want you to come round to-night at seven-fifteen. We're going to be married," he explained.

The newspaper man's eye met his in a swift surprise. "You and Nellie?"

"Yes." Miller's jaw set. "Why not? YOU'RE not going to spring that damned cant about—"

"I thought you knew me better," his friend interrupted.

Miller's face worked. "I'll ask your pardon for that, Jeff. You've been the best friend she has. Well, we've thrashed it all out. She fought her mother and me two days; didn't think it right to let me give my name to her, even though she admits she has come to care for me. You can see how she would be torn two ways. It's the only road out for her and the baby that is on the way, but she couldn't bring herself to sacrifice me, as she calls it. I've hammered and hammered at her that it's no sacrifice. She can't see it; just cries and cries."

"Of course she would be unusually sensitive; Her nerves must be all bare so that she shrinks as one does when a wound is touched."

"That's it. She keeps speaking of herself as if she were a lost soul. At last we fairly wore her out. After we are married her mother and she will take the eight o'clock for Kenton. Nobody there knows them, and she'll have a chance to forget."

"You're a white man, Sam," Jeff nodded lightly. But his eyes were shining.

"I'm the man that loves her. I couldn't do less, could I?"

"Some men would do a good deal less."

"Not if they looked at it the way I do. She's the same Nellie I've always known. What difference does it make to me that she stumbled in the dark and hurt herself—except that my heart is so much more tender to her it aches?"

"If you hold to that belief she'll live to see the day when she is a happy woman again," the journalist prophesied.

"I'm going to teach her to think of it all as only a bad nightmare she's been through." His jaw clinched again so that the muscles stood out on his cheeks. "Do you know she won't say a word—not even to her mother—about who the villain is that betrayed her? I'd wring his coward neck off for him," he finished with a savage oath.

"Better the way it is, Sam. Let her keep her secret.. The least said and thought about it the better."

Miller looked at his watch. "Perhaps you're right. I've got to go to work. Remember, seven-fifteen sharp. We need you as a witness. Just your business suit, you understand. No present, of course."

The wedding took place in the room where Jeff had been used to drinking chocolate with his little friend only a year before. It was the first time he had been here since that night when the danger signal had flashed so suddenly before his eyes. The whole thing came back to him poignantly.

It was a pitiful little wedding, with the bride and her mother in tears from the start. The ceremony was performed by their friend Mifflin, the young clergyman who had a mission for sailors on the waterfront. Nobody else was present except Marchant, the second witness.

As soon as the ceremony was finished Sam put Nellie and her mother into a cab to take them to their train. The other three walked back down town.

As Jeff sat before his desk four hours later, busy with a tax levy story, Miller came in and took a seat. Jeff waved a hand at him and promptly forgot he was on earth until he rose and put on his coat an hour later.

"Well! Did they get off all right?" he asked.

Miller nodded absently. Ten minutes later he let out what he was thinking about.

"I wish to God I knew the man," he exploded.

Jeff looked at him quietly. "I'm glad you don't. Adding murder to it wouldn't help the situation one little bit, my friend."


Only the man who is sheet-armored in a triple plate of selfishness can be sure that weak hands won't clutch at him and delay his march to success.—From the Note Book of a Dreamer.


Part 1

James came down to the office one morning in his car with a smile of contentment on his handsome face. It had been decided that he was to be made speaker of the House after the next election, assuming that he and his party were returned to power. Jeff and the progressives were to stand back of him, and he felt sure that after a nominal existence the standpatters would accept him. He intended by scrupulous fair play to win golden opinions for himself. From the speakership to the governor's chair would not be a large step. After that—well, there were many possibilities.

He did not for a moment admit to himself that there was anything of duplicity in the course he was following. His intention was to line up with the progressives during the campaign, to win his reelection on that platform, and to support a rational liberal program during the session. He would favor an initiative and referendum amendment not so radical as the one Jeff offered, a bill that would not cripple business or alarm capital. As he looked at it life was a compromise. The fusion of many minds to a practical result always demanded this. And results were more important than any number of theories.

As James passed into his office the stenographer stopped him with a remark.

"A man has been in twice to see you this morning, Mr. Farnum."

"Did he leave his name?"

"No. He said he would call again."

James passed into his private office and closed the door.

A quarter of an hour later his stenographer knocked. "He's here again, Mr. Farnum."


"The man I told you of."

"Oh!" James put down the brief he was reading. "Show him in."

A figure presently stood hesitating in the doorway. James saw an oldish man, gray and stooped with a rather wistful lost-dog expression on his face.

"What can I do for you, sir?" he questioned.

"Don't you know me?" the stranger asked with a quaver in his voice.

The lawyer did not, but some premonition of disaster clutched at his heart. He rose swiftly and closed the door behind his caller.

A faint smile doubtful of its right touched the weak face of the little old man. "So you don't know your own father—boy!"

A sudden sickness ran through the lawyer and sapped his strength. He leaned against the desk uncertainly. It had come at last. The whole world would learn the truth about him. The Merrills, the Fromes, Valencia Van Tyle—all of them would know it and scorn him.

"What are you doing here?" James heard himself say hoarsely.

"Why, I—I—I came to see my son."

"What for?"

Before so harsh and abrupt a reception the weak smile went out like a blown candle.

"I thought you'd be glad to see me—after so many years."

"Why should I be glad to see you? What have you ever done for me but disgrace me?"

Tears showed in the watery eyes. "That's right. It's gospel truth, I reckon."

"And now, when I've risen above it, so that all men respect me, you come back to drag me down."

"No—no, I wouldn't do that, son."

"That's what you'll do. Do you think my friends will want to know a man who is the son of a convict? I've got a future before me. Already I've been mentioned for governor. What chance would I have when people know my father is a thief?"

"Son," winced the old man.

"Oh, well! I'm not picking my words," James went on with angry impatience. "I'm telling you the facts. I've got enemies. Every strong man has. They'll smash me like an empty eggshell."

"They don't need to know about me. I'll not do any talking."

"That's all very well. Things leak out," James grumbled a little more graciously. "Well, you better sit down now you're here. I thought you were living in Arkansas."

"So I am. I've done right well there. And I thought I'd take a little run out to see you. I didn't know but what you might need a little help." He glanced aimlessly around the well-furnished office. "But I expect you don't, from the looks of things."

"If you think I've got money you're wrong," James explained. "I'm just starting in my profession, and of course I owe a good deal here and there. I've been hard pressed ever since I left college."

His father brightened up timidly. "I owe you money. We can fix that up. I've got a little mill down there and I've done well, though it was hard sledding at first."

James caught at a phrase. "What do you mean?"

"Owe me money!

"I knew it must be you paid off the shortage at the Planters' National. When I sent the money it was returned. You'd got ahead of me. I was THAT grateful to you, son."

The lawyer found himself flushing. "Oh, Jeff paid that. He was earning money at the time and I wasn't. Of course I intended to pay him back some day."

"Did Jeff do that? Then you and he must be friends. Tell me about him."

"There's not much to tell. He's managing editor of a paper here that has a lot of influence. Yes. Jeff has been a staunch friend to me always. He recognizes that I'm a rising man and ought to be kept before the public."

"I wonder if he's like his father."

"Can't tell you that," his son replied carelessly. "I don't remember Uncle Phil much. Jeff's a queer fellow, full of Utopian notions about brotherhood and that sort of thing. But he's practical in a way. He gets things done in spite of his softheadedness."

There was a knock at the door. "Mr. Jefferson Farnum, sir."

James considered for a second. "Tell him to come in, Miss Brooks."

The lawyer saw that the door was closed before he introduced Jeff to his father. It gave him a momentary twinge of conscience to see his cousin take the old man quickly by both hands. It was of course a mere detail, but James had not yet shaken hands with his father.

"I'm glad to see you, Uncle Robert," Jeff said.

His voice shook a little. There was in his manner that hint of affection which made him so many friends, the warmth that suggested a woman's sympathy, but not effeminacy.

The ready tears brimmed into his uncle's eyes. "You're like your father, boy. I believe I would have known you by him," he said impulsively.

"You couldn't please me better, sir. And what about James—would you have known him?"

The old man looked humbly at his handsome, distinguished son. "No, I would never have known him."

"He's becoming one of our leading citizens, James is. You ought to hear him make a speech. Demosthenes and Daniel Webster hide their heads when the Honorable James K. Farnum spellbinds," Jeff joked.

"I've read his speeches," the father said unexpectedly. "For more than a year I've taken the World so as to hear of him."

"Then you know that James is headed straight for the Hall of Fame. Aren't you, James?"

"Nonsense! You've as much influence in the state as I have, or you would have if you would drop your fight on wealth."

"Bless you, I'm not making a fight on wealth," Jeff answered with good humor. "It's illicit wealth we're hammering at. But when you compare me to James K. I'll have to remind you that I'm not a silver-tongued orator or Verden's favorite son."

The father's wistful smile grew bolder. Somehow Jeff's arrival had cleared the atmosphere. A Scriptural phrase flashed into his mind as applicable to this young man. Thinketh no evil. His nephew did not regard him with suspicion or curiosity. To him he was not a sinner or an outcast, but a brother. His manner had just the right touch of easy deference youth ought to give age.

"Of course you're going to make us a long visit, Uncle Robert."

The old man's propitiating gaze went to his son. "Not long, I reckon. I've got to get back to my business."

"Nonsense! We'll not let you go so easily. Eh, James?"

"No, of course not," the lawyer mumbled. He was both annoyed and embarrassed.

"I don't want to be selfish about it, but I do think you had better put up with me, Uncle. James is at the University Club, and only members have rooms there. We'll let him come and see you if he's good," Jeff went on breezily.

James breathed freer. "That might be the best way, if it wouldn't put you out, Jeff."

"I wouldn't want to be any trouble," the old man explained.

"And you won't be. I want you. James wants you, too, but he can't very well arrange it. I can. So that's settled."

In his rooms that evening Jeff very gently made clear to his uncle that Verden believed him to be his son.

"If you don't mind, sir, we'll let it go that way in public. We don't want to hurt the political chances of James just now. And there are other things, too. He'll tell you about them himself probably."

"That's all right. Just as you say. I don't want to disturb things."

"I adopted you as a father about a year ago without your permission. It won't do for you to give me away now," the nephew laughed.

Robert Farnum nodded without speaking. A lump choked his throat. He had found a son after all, but not the one he had come to meet.

Part 2

At the ensuing election the progressives swept the state in spite of all that the allied corporations could do. James was returned to the legislature with an increased majority and was elected speaker of the House according to program. His speech of acceptance was the most eloquent that had ever been heard in the assembly hall. The most radical of his party felt that the committees appointed by him were in their personnel a little too friendly to the vested interests of Verden, but the World took the high ground that he could render his party no higher service than absolute fair play, that the bills for the rights of the people ought to pass on their merits and not by tricky politics.

Never before had there been seen at the State House a lobby like the one that filled it now. The barrel was tapped so that the glint of gold flowed through the corridors, into committee rooms, and to out of the way corners where legislators fought for their honor against an attack that never ceased. Sometimes the corruption was bold. More often it was insidious. To see how one by one men hitherto honest surrendered to bribery was a sight pathetic and tragic.

The Farnum cousins were the centers around whom the reformers rallied. James directed their counsels in the House and Jeff pounded away in the World with vital trenchant editorials and news stories. Every day that paper carried to the farthest corner of the state bulletins of the battle. Farmers and miners and laboring men watched its roll of honor to see if the local representatives were standing firm. As the weeks passed the fight grew more bitter. Now and again men fell by the wayside disgraced. But the pressure from their constituents was so strong that Jeff believed his bill would go through.

His friends forced it through the committee and pushed it to a vote. House Bill 33, as the initiative and referendum amendment was called, passed the lower legislative body with a small majority. The pool rooms offered five to four that it would carry in the senate.

It was on the night of the twenty-first of December that the amendment passed the House. On the morning of the twenty-third the Herald sprang a front page sensation. It charged that the editor of the World had ruined a girl named Nellie Anderson at a house where he had boarded and that she had subsequently disappeared. It featured also a story of how he had been seen to enter his rooms at midnight with a woman of the street, who remained there until morning reveling with him. Attached to this were the affidavits of two detectives, a police officer, and the druggist who had furnished the liquor.

The story exploded like a bomb shell in the camp of the progressives. Rawson tried at once without success to get Jeff on the telephone. He was not at the office, nor had he reached his rooms at all after leaving the World building on the previous night. None of his friends had seen or heard of him.

The afternoon papers had a sensation of their own. Jefferson Farnum had left Verden secretly without leaving an address. Evidently he had been given a hint of the exposure that was to be made of his life and had decamped rather than face the charges.

Rumor had a hundred tales to tell. The waverers at the State House chose to believe that Jeff had sold them out and fled with his price. It was impossible to deny the stories of his immorality, since it happened that Sam Miller, the only man who knew the whole story, was far up in the mountains arranging for a shipment of Rocky Mountain sheep to the state museum. Farnum's friends could only affirm their faith in him or surrender. Some gave way, some stood firm. The lobbyists and the opposition went about with confident, "I-told-you-so" smiles writ large on their faces. Within a few days it became apparent that the reform bill would be defeated in the senate. Its fate had been so long tied up with the people's belief in Jeff that with his collapse the general opinion condemned it to defeat. Its friends hung back, unwilling to risk a vote as yet.

The situation called for a leader and developed one. James Farnum stepped into the breach and took command. In a ringing speech he called for a new alignment. He would yield to none in the devotion he had given to House Bill Number 33. But it needed no prophet to see that now this amendment was doomed. Better half a loaf than no bread. He was a practical man and wanted to see practical results. Rather than see the will of the people frustrated he felt that House Bill I7 should be passed. While not an ideal bill it was far better than none. The principle of direct legislation at least would be established.

H. B. No. I7 was brought hurriedly out of committee. It had been introduced as a substitute measure to defeat the real reform. According to its provision legislation could be initiated by the people, but to make it valid as a law the legislature had to approve any bill so passed. The people could advise. They could not compel.

The speech of the speaker of the House precipitated a bitter fight. The more eager friends of H. B. No. 33 accused him of treachery, but many felt that it was the best possible practical politics under the circumstances. For weeks the issue hung in doubt, but gradually James gathered adherents among both progressives and conservatives. It became almost a foregone conclusion that H. B. No. I7 would pass.


"Old Capting Pink of the Peppermint, Though kindly at heart and good, Had a blunt, bluff way of a-gittin' 'is say That we all of us understood.

When he brained a man with a pingle spike Or plastered a seaman flat, We should 'a' been blowed but we all of us knowed That he didn't mean nothin' by that.

I was wonderful fond of old Capting Pink, And Pink he was fond o' me, As he frequently said when he battered me head Or sousled me into the sea." —Wallace Irwin.


Part 1

On the night of the twenty-second of December Jeff left the World building and moved down Powers Avenue to the all night restaurant he usually frequented. The man who was both cook and waiter remembered afterwards that Farnum called for coffee, sausage, and a waffle.

Before the editor left the waffle house it was the morning of the twenty-third. He had never felt less sleepy. Nor did a book and a pipe before his gas log seem quite what he wanted. The vagabond streak in him was awake, the same potent wanderlust that as a boy had driven him to the solitude of the forests and the hills. This morning it sent him questing down Powers Avenue to that lower town where the derelicts of the city floated without a rudder.

A cold damp mist had crept up from the water front and enwrapped the city so that its lights showed like blurred moons. Some instinct took him toward the wharves. He could hear the distant cough of a tug as it fussed across the bay, and as he drew near the big Transcontinental wharves of Joe Powers the black hulk of a Japanese liner rose black out of the gray fog shadow. But the freighters, the coasters, tramps that went hither and thither over the earth wherever fat cargoes lured them—they were either swallowed in the mist or shadowed to a ghost-like wraith of themselves so tenuous that all detail was lost in the haze.

Jeff leaned on a pile and let his imagination people the harbor with the wandering children of the earth who had been drawn from all its seafaring corners to this Mecca of trade. He knew that here were swarthy little Japanese with teas and silks, dusky Kanakas with copra, and Alaskan liners carrying gold and returning miners. There would be brigs from Buenos Ayres and schooners that had nosed into Robert Louis Stevenson's magic South Sea islands. Puffy London steamers, Nome and Skagway liners condemned long since on the Atlantic Coast, queer rigged hybrids from Rio and other South American ports, were gorging themselves with lumber or wheat or provisions according to their needs. Here truly lay before him the romance of the nations.

The sound of a stealthy footfall warned him of impending danger. He whirled, and faced three men who were advancing on him. A vague suspicion that had oppressed him more than once in the past week leaped to definite conviction in his brain. He was the victim of a plot to waylay—perhaps to murder him. One of these men was a huge Swede, another a swarthy Italian with rings in his ears. He had seen them before, lurking in the shadows of an alley outside the World building. Last night he had come out from the office with Jenkins, which no doubt had saved him for the time. This morning he had played into the hands of these men, had obligingly wandered down to the waterfront where they could so easily conceal murder in a tide running out fast.

Strangely enough he felt no fear; rather a fierce exultant drumming of the blood that braced him for the struggle. His eyes swept the wharf for a weapon and found none.

"What do you want?" he demanded sharply.

The man in command ignored his question. "Stand by and down him."

The Italian crouched and leaped. Jeff's fist caught him fairly between the eyes. He went down like a log, rolled over once and lay still. The others closed instantly with Farnum and the three swayed in a fierce silent struggle.

Both of his attackers were more powerful than Jeff, but he was far more active. The darkness, too, aided him and hampered them. The Swede he could have managed, for the fellow was awkward as a bear. But the leader stuck to him like a burr. They went down together over a cleat in the flooring, rolling over and over each other as they fought.

Somehow Jeff emerged out of the tangle. He dragged himself to his knees and hammered with his fist at an upturned face beside him. Battered, bleeding, and winded, he got to his feet and shook off the hands that reached for him. Dodging past, he lurched along the wharf like a drunken man. The Italian had gathered himself to his knees. When Jeff came opposite him he dived like a football tackle and threw his arms around the moving legs. The newspaper man crashed heavily down to unconsciousness.

When Farnum opened his eyes upon a world strangely hazy he found himself lying in a row boat, his head bolstered by a man's knees.

"Drink this, mate," ordered a voice that seemed very far away.

The neck of a bottle was thrust between his lips and tilted so that he could not escape drinking.

"That dope'll hold him for a while, Say, Johnny Dago, put your back into them oars," he heard indistinctly.

Faintly there came to him the slap of the waves against the side of the boat. These presently died rhythmically away.

It was daylight when he awakened again. His throbbing head slowly definitized the vile hole in which he lay as the forecastle of a ship. Gradually the facts sifted back to him. He recalled the fight on the wharf and the drink in the boat. In this last he suspected knockout drops. That he had been shanghaied was beyond suspicion.

Laboriously he sat up on the side of his bunk and in doing so became aware of a sailor asleep in the crib opposite. His stertorous breathing stirred a doubt in Jeff's mind. Perhaps the crimps had taken him too.

The ship was rolling a good deal, but by a succession of tacks Jeff staggered to the scuttle and climbed the hatchway to the deck. A wintry sun was shining, and for a few moments he stood blinking in the light.

She was a three-masted schooner and was plunging forward into the choppy seas outside the jaws of the harbor. He whiffed the salt tang of the air and tasted the flying spray. An ebb tide was lifting the vessel forward on a freshening wind, and trim as a greyhound she slipped through the cat's-paws.

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