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A Poor Wise Man by Mary Roberts Rinehart

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"Are you sick?" she called, and getting up, her knees hardly holding
her, she lighted the gas at its unshaded bracket on the wall and ran
to the other bed.

Edith was lying there, her mouth open, her lips bleached and twisted.
Her stertorous breathing filled the room, and over all was the odor
of carbolic acid.

"Edith, for God's sake!"

The girl was only partially conscious. Ellen ran down the stairs
and into Willy's room.

"Get up," she cried, shaking him. "That girl's killed herself."

"Lily!"

"No, Edith. Carbolic acid."

Even then he remembered her mother.

"Don't let her hear anything, It will kill her," he said, and ran
up the stairs. Almost immediately he was down again, searching for
alcohol; he found a small quantity and poured that down the swollen
throat. He roused Dan then, and sent him running madly for Doctor
Smalley, with a warning to bring him past Mrs. Boyd's door quietly,
and to bring an intubation set with him in case her throat should
close. Then, on one of his innumerable journeys up and down the
stairs he encountered Mrs. Boyd herself, in her nightgown, and
terrified.

"What's the matter, Willy?" she asked. "Is it a fire?"

"Edith is sick. I don't want you to go up. It may be contagious.
It's her throat."

And from that Mrs. Boyd deduced diphtheria; she sat on the stairs
in her nightgown, a shaken helpless figure, asking countless
questions of those that hurried past. But they reassured her, and
after a time she went downstairs and made a pot of coffee. Ensconced
with it in the lower hall, and milk bottle in hand, she waylaid them
with it as they hurried up and down.

Upstairs the battle went on. There were times when the paralyzed
muscles almost stopped lifting the chest walls, when each breath was
a new miracle. Her throat was closing fast, too, and at eight
o'clock came a brisk young surgeon, and with Willy Cameron's
assistance, an operation was performed. After that, and for days,
Edith breathed through a tube in her neck.

The fiction of diphtheria was kept up, and Mrs. Boyd, having a
childlike faith in medical men, betrayed no anxiety after the first
hour or two. She saw nothing incongruous in Ellen going down
through the house while she herself was kept out of that upper
room where Edith lay, conscious now but sullen, disfigured, silent.
She was happy, too, to have her old domain hers again, while Ellen
nursed; to make again her flavorless desserts, her mounds of
rubberlike gelatine, her pies. She brewed broths daily, and when
Edith could swallow she sent up the results of hours of cooking
which Ellen cooled, skimmed the crust of grease from the top, and
heated again over the gas flame.

She never guessed the conspiracy against her.

Between Ellen and Edith there was no real liking. Ellen did her
duty, and more; got up at night; was gentle with rather heavy
hands; bathed the girl and brushed and braided her long hair. But
there were hours during that simulated quarantine when a brooding
silence held in the sick-room, and when Ellen, turning suddenly,
would find Edith's eyes on her, full of angry distrust. At those
times Ellen was glad that Edith could not speak.

For at the end of a few days Ellen knew, and Edith knew she knew.

Edith could not speak. She wrote her wants with a stub of pencil,
or made signs. One day she motioned toward a mirror and Ellen
took it to her.

"You needn't be frightened," she said. "When those scabs come off
the doctor says you'll hardly be marked at all."

But Edith only glanced at herself, and threw the mirror aside.

Another time she wrote: "Willy?"

"He's all right. They've got a girl at the store to take your
place, but I guess you can go back if you want to." Then, seeing
the hunger in the girl's eyes: "He's out a good bit these nights.
He's making speeches for that Mr. Hendricks. As if he could be
elected against Mr. Cardew!"

The confinement told on Ellen. She would sit for hours, wondering
what had become of Lily. Had she gone back home? Was she seeing
that other man? Perhaps her valiant loyalty to Lily faded somewhat
during those days, because she began to guess Willy Cameron's secret.
If a girl had no eyes in her head, and couldn't see that Willy
Cameron was the finest gentleman who ever stepped in shoe leather,
that girl had something wrong about her.

Then, sometimes, she wondered how Edith's condition was going to be
kept from her mother. She had measured Mrs. Boyd's pride by that
time, her almost terrible respectability. She rather hoped that the
sick woman would die some night, easily and painlessly in her sleep,
because death was easier than some things. She liked Mrs. Boyd; she
felt a slightly contemptuous but real affection for her.

Then one night Edith heard Willy's voice below, and indicated that
she wanted to see him. He came in, stooping under the sheet which
Mrs. Boyd had heard belonged in the doorway of diphtheria, and stood
looking down at her. His heart ached. He sat down on the bed
beside her and stroked her hand.

"Poor little girl," he said. "We've got to make things very happy
for her, to make up for all this!"

But Edith freed her hand, and reaching out for paper and pencil stub,
wrote something and gave it to Ellen.

Ellen read it.

"Tell him."

"I don't want to, Edith. You wait and do it yourself."

But Edith made an insistent gesture, and Ellen, flushed and wretched,
had to tell. He made no sign, but sat stroking Edith's hand, only
he stared rather fixedly at the wall, conscious that the girl's
eyes were watching him for a single gesture of surprise or anger. He
felt no anger, only a great perplexity and sadness, an older-brother
grief.

"I'm sorry, little sister," he said, and did the kindest thing he
could think of, bent over and kissed her on the forehead. "Of course
I know how you feel, but it is a big thing to bear a child, isn't it?
It is the only miracle we have these days."

"A child with no father," said Ellen, stonily.

"Even then," he persisted, "it's a big thing. We would have this one
come under happier circumstances if we could, but we will welcome and
take care of it, anyhow. A child's a child, and mighty valuable.
And," he added - "I appreciate your wanting me to know, Edith."

He stayed a little while after that, but he read aloud, choosing a
humorous story and laughing very hard at all the proper places. In
the end he brought a faint smile to Edith's blistered lips, and a
small lift to the cloud that hung over her now, day and night.

He made a speech that night, and into it he put all of his aching,
anxious soul; Edith and Dan and Lily were behind it. Akers and
Doyle. It was at a meeting in the hall over the city market, and
the audience a new men's non-partisan association.

"Sometimes," he said, "I am asked what it is that we want, we men
who are standing behind Hendricks as an independent candidate." He
was supposed to bring Mr. Hendricks' name in as often as possible.
"I answer that we want honest government, law and order, an end to
this conviction that the country is owned by the unions and the
capitalists, a fair deal for the plain people, which is you and I,
my friends. But I answer still further, we want one thing more, a
greater thing, and that thing we shall have. All through this great
country to-night are groups of men hoping and planning for an
incredible thing. They are not great in numbers; they are, however,
organized, competent, intelligent and deadly. They plow the land
with discord to sow the seeds of sedition. And the thing they want
is civil war.

"And against them, what? The people like you and me; the men with
homes they love; the men with little businesses they have fought
and labored to secure; the clerks; the preachers; the doctors, the
honest laborers, the God-fearing rich. I tell you, we are the
people, and it is time we knew our power.

"And this is the thing we want, we the people; the greater thing,
the thing we shall have; that this government, this country which
we love, which has three times been saved at such cost of blood,
shall survive."

It was after that speech that he met Pink Denslow for the first time.
A square, solidly built young man edged his way through the crowd,
and shook hands with him.

"Name's Denslow," said Pink. "Liked what you said. Have you time
to run over to my club with me and have a high-ball and a talk?"

"I've got all the rest of the night."

"Right-o!" said Pink, who had brought back a phrase or two from the
British.

It was not until they were in the car that Pink said:

"I think you're a friend of Miss Cardew's, aren't you?"

"I know Miss Cardew," said Willy Cameron, guardedly. And they were
both rather silent for a time.

That night proved to be a significant one for them both, as it
happened. They struck up a curious sort of friendship, based on a
humble admiration on Pink's part, and with Willy Cameron on sheer
hunger for the society of his kind. He had been suffering a real
mental starvation. He had been constantly giving out and getting
nothing in return.

Pink developed a habit of dropping into the pharmacy when he happened
to be nearby. He was rather wistfully envious of that year in the
camp, when Lily Cardew and Cameron had been together, and at first
it was the bond of Lily that sent him to the shop. In the beginning
the shop irritated him, because it seemed an incongruous background
for the fiery young orator. But later on he joined the small open
forum in the back room, and perhaps for the first time in his idle
years he began to think. He had made the sacrifice of his luxurious
young life to go to war, had slept in mud and risked his body and
been hungry and cold and often frightfully homesick. And now it
appeared that a lot of madmen were going to try to undo all that he
had helped to do. He was surprised and highly indignant. Even a
handful of agitators, it seemed, could do incredible harm.

One night he and Willy Cameron slipped into a meeting of a Russian
Society, wearing old clothes, which with Willy was not difficult,
and shuffling up dirty stairs without molestation. They came away
thoughtful.

"Looks like it's more than talk," Pink said, after a time.

"They're not dangerous," Willy Cameron said. "That's talk. But it
shows a state of mind. The real incendiaries don't show their hand
like that."

"You think it's real, then?"

"Some boils don't come to a head. But most do."

It was after a mob of foreigners had tried to capture the town of
Donesson, near Pittsburgh, and had been turned back by a hastily
armed body of its citizens, doctors, lawyers and shop-keepers, that
a nebulous plan began to form in Willy Cameron's active mind.

If one could unite the plain people politically, or against a foreign
war, why could they not be united against an enemy at home? The
South had had a similar problem, and the result was the Ku Klux Klan.

The Chief of Police was convinced that a plan was being formulated
to repeat the Seattle experiment against the city. The Mayor was
dubious. He was not a strong man; he had a conviction that because
a thing never had happened it never could happen.

"The mob has done it before," urged the Chief of Police one day.
"They took Paris, and it was damned disagreeable."

The Mayor was a trifle weak in history.

"Maybe they did," he agreed. "But this is different. This is
America."

He was rather uneasy after that. It had occurred to him that the
Chief might have referred to Paris, Illinois.

Now and then Pink coaxed Willy Cameron to his club, and for those
rare occasions he provided always a little group of men like
themselves, young, eager, loyal, and struggling with the new
problems of the day. In this environment Willy Cameron received
as well as gave.

Most of the men had been in the army, and he found in them an eager
anxiety to face the coming situation and combat it. In the end the
nucleus of the new Vigilance Committee was formed there.

Not immediately. The idea was of slow growth even with its
originator, and it only reached the point of speech when Mr.
Hendricks stopped in one day at the pharmacy and brought a bundle
which he slapped down on the prescription desk.

"Read that dynamite," he said, his face flushed and lowering. "A
man I know got it translated for me. Read it and then tell me
whether I'm an alarmist and a plain fool, or if it means trouble
around here."

There was no question in Willy Cameron's mind as to which it meant.

Louis Akers had by that time announced his candidacy for Mayor, and
organized labor was behind him to an alarming extent. When Willy
Cameron went with Pink to the club that afternoon, he found Akers
under discussion, and he heard some facts about that gentleman's
private life which left him silent and morose. Pink knew nothing
of Lily's friendship with Akers. Indeed, Pink did not know that
Lily was in the city, and Willy Cameron had not undeceived him. It
had pleased Anthony Cardew to announce in the press that Lily was
making a round of visits, and the secret was not his to divulge.
But the question which was always in his mind rose again. What did
she see in the man? How could she have thrown away her home and her
family for a fellow who was so obviously what Pink would have called
"a wrong one"?

He roused, however, at a question.

"He may," he said; "with three candidates we're splitting the vote
three ways, and it's hard to predict. Mr. Cardew can't be elected,
but he weakens Hendricks. One thing's sure. Where's my pipe?"
Silence while Mr. Cameron searched for his pipe, and took his own
time to divulge the sure thing. "If Hendricks is elected he'll
clear out the entire bunch of anarchists. The present man's afraid.
But if Akers can hypnotize labor into voting for him, and he gets
it, it will be up to the city to protect itself, for he won't.
He'll let them hold their infamous meetings and spread their damnable
doctrine, and - you know what they've tried to do in other places."
He explained what he had in mind then, finding them expectant and
eager. There ought to be some sort of citizen organization, to
supplement the state and city forces. Nothing spectacular; indeed,
the least said about it the better. He harked back then to his idea
of the plain people, with homes to protect.

"That needn't keep you fellows out," he said, with his whimsical
smile. "But the rank and file will have to constitute the big end.
We don't want a lot of busybodies, pussy-footing around with guns
and looking for trouble. We had enough of that during the war. We
would want some men who would answer a riot call if they were needed.
That's all."

He had some of the translations Hendricks had brought him in his
pocket, and they circulated around the group.

"Do you think they mean to attack the city?"

"That looks like it, doesn't it? And they are getting that sort of
stuff all the time. There are a hundred thousand of them in this
end of the state."

"Would you make it a secret organization?"

"Yes. I like doing things in the open myself, but you've got to
fight a rat in his hole, if he won't come out."

"Would you hold office?" Pink asked.

Willy Cameron smiled.

"I'm a good bit like the boy who dug post holes in the daytime and
took in washing at night to support the family. But I'll work, if
that's what you mean."

"We'd better have a constitution and all that, don't you think?"
Pink asked. "We can draw up a tentative one, and then fix it up at
the first meeting. This is going to be a big thing. It'll go
like a fire."

But Willy Cameron overruled that.

"We don't need that sort of stuff," he said, "and if we begin that
we might as well put it in the newspapers. We want men who can
keep their mouths shut, and who will sign some sort of a card
agreeing to stand by the government and to preserve law and order.
Then an office and a filing case, and their addresses, so we can
get at them in a hurry if we need them. Get me a piece of paper,
somebody."

Then and there, in twenty words, Willy Cameron wrote the now
historic oath of the new Vigilance Committee, on the back of an old
envelope. It was a promise, an agreement rather than an oath.
There was a little hush as the paper passed from hand to hand. Not
a man there but felt a certain solemnity in the occasion. To
preserve the Union and the flag, to fight all sedition, to love
their country and support it; the very simplicity of the words was
impressive. And the mere putting of it into visible form
crystallized their hitherto vague anxieties, pointed to a real
enemy and a real danger. Yet, as Willy Cameron pointed out, they
might never be needed.

"Our job," he said, "is only as a last resort. Only for real
trouble. Until the state troops can get here, for instance, and
if the constabulary is greatly outnumbered. It's their work up
to a certain point. We'll fight if they need us. That's all."

It was very surprising to him to find the enterprise financed
immediately. Pink offered an office in the bank building. Some
one agreed to pay a clerk who should belong to the committee. It
was practical, businesslike, and - done. And, although he had
protested, he found himself made the head of the organization.

" - without title and without pay," he stipulated. "If you wish
a title on me, I'll resign."

He went home that night very exalted and very humble.

CHAPTER XXI

For a time Lily remained hidden in the house on Cardew Way, walking
out after nightfall with Louis occasionally, but shrinkingly keeping
to quiet back streets. She had a horror of meeting some one she
knew, of explanations and of gossip. But after a time the desire
to see her mother became overwhelming. She took to making little
flying visits home at an hour when her grandfather was certain to
be away, going in a taxicab, and reaching the house somewhat
breathless and excited. She was driven by an impulse toward the
old familiar things; she was homesick for them all, for her mother,
for Mademoiselle, for her own rooms, for her little toilet table,
for her bed and her reading lamp. For the old house itself.

She was still an alien where she was. Elinor Doyle was a perpetual
enigma to her; now and then she thought she had penetrated behind
the gentle mask that was Elinor's face, only to find beyond it
something inscrutable. There was a dead line in Elinor's life
across which Lily never stepped. Whatever Elinor's battles were,
she fought them alone, and Lily had begun to realize that there
were battles.

The atmosphere of the little house had changed. Sometimes, after
she had gone to bed, she heard Doyle's voice from the room across
the hall, raised angrily. He was nervous and impatient; at times
he dropped the unctuousness of his manner toward her, and she found
herself looking into a pair of cold blue eyes which terrified her.

The brilliant little dinners had entirely ceased, with her coming.
A sort of early summer lethargy had apparently settled on the house.
Doyle wrote for hours, shut in the room with the desk; the group of
intellectuals, as he had dubbed them, had dispersed on summer
vacations. But she discovered that there were other conferences
being held in the house, generally late at night.

She learned to know the nights when those meetings were to occur.
On those evenings Elinor always made an early move toward bed, and
Lily would repair to her hot low-ceiled room, to sit in the
darkness by the window and think long, painful thoughts.

That was how she learned of the conferences. She had no curiosity
about them at first. They had something to do with the strike, she
considered, and with that her interest died. Strikes were a symptom,
and ultimately, through great thinkers like Mr. Doyle, they would
discover the cure for the disease that caused them. She was quite
content to wait for that time.

Then, one night, she went downstairs for a glass of ice water, and
found the lower floor dark, and subdued voices coming from the study.
The kitchen door was standing open, and she closed and locked it,
placing the key, as was Elinor's custom, in a table drawer. The
door was partly glass, and Elinor had a fear of the glass being
broken and thus the key turned in the lock by some intruder.

On toward morning there came a violent hammering at her bedroom
door, and Doyle's voice outside, a savage voice that she scarcely
recognized. When she had thrown on her dressing gown and opened
the door he had instantly caught her by the shoulder, and she bore
the imprints of his fingers for days.

"Did you lock the kitchen door?" he demanded, his tones thick with
fury.

"Yes. Why not?" She tried to shake off his hand, but failed.

"None of your business why not," he said, and gave her an angry
shake. "Hereafter, when you find that door open, you leave it that
way. That's all."

"Take your hands off me!" She was rather like her grandfather at
that moment, and his lost caution came back. He freed her at once
and laughed a little.

"Sorry!" he said. "I get a bit emphatic at times. But there are
times when a locked door becomes a mighty serious matter."

The next day he removed the key from the door, and substituted a
bolt. Elinor made no protest.

Another night Elinor was taken ill, and Lilly had been forced to
knock at the study door and call Doyle. She had an instant's
impression of the room crowded with strange figures. The heavy
odors of sweating bodies, of tobacco, and of stale beer came through
the half-open door and revolted her. And Doyle had refused to go
upstairs.

She began to feel that she could not remain there very long. The
atmosphere was variable. It was either cynical or sinister, and
she hated them both. She had a curious feeling, too, that Doyle
both wanted her there and did not want her, and that he was changing
his attitude toward her Aunt Elinor. Sometimes she saw him watching
Elinor from under half-closed eyelids.

But she could not fill her days with anxieties and suspicions, and
she turned to Louis Akers as a flower to the open day. He at least
was what he appeared to be. There was nothing mysterious about him.

He came in daily, big, dominant and demonstrative, filling the house
with his presence, and demanding her in a loud, urgent voice. Hardly
had the door slammed before he would call:

"Lily! Where are you?"

Sometimes he lifted her off her feet and held her to him.

"You little whiffet!" he would say. "I could crush you to death in
my arms."

Had his wooing all been violent she might have tired sooner, because
those phases of his passion for her tired her. But there were times
when he put her into a chair and sat on the floor at her feet, his
handsome face uplifted to hers in a sort of humble adoration, his
arms across her knees. It was not altogether studied. He was a
born wooer, but he had his hours of humility, of vague aspirations.
His insistent body was always greater than his soul, but now and
then, when he was physically weary, he had a spiritual moment.

"I love you, little girl," he would say.

It was in one of those moments that she extracted a promise from
him. He had been, from his position on the floor, telling her
about the campaign.

"I don't like your running against my father, Louis."

"He couldn't have got it, anyhow. And he doesn't want it. I do,
honey. I need it in my business. When the election's over you're
going to marry me."

She ignored that.

"I don't like the men who come here, Louis. I wish they were not
friends of yours."

"Friends of mine! That bunch?"

"You are always with them."

"I draw a salary for being with them, honey."

"But what do you draw a salary for?" He was immediately on the
alert, but her eyes were candid and unsuspicious. "They are
strikers, aren't they?"

"Yes."

"Is it legal business?"

"Partly that."

"Louis, is there going to be a general strike?"

"There may be some bad times coming, honey." He bent his head and
kissed her hands, lying motionless in her lap. "I wish you would
marry me soon. I want you. I want to keep you safe."

She drew her hands away.

"Safe from what, Louis?"

He sat back and looked up into her face.

"You must remember, dear, that for all your theories, which are
very sweet, this is a man's world, and men have rather brutal
methods of settling their differences."

"And you advocate brutality?"

"Well, the war was brutal, wasn't it? And you were in a white heat
supporting it, weren't you? How about another war," - he chose his
words carefully - "just as reasonable and just? You've heard Doyle.
You know what I mean."

"Not now!"

He was amazed at her horror, a horror that made her recoil from him
and push his hands away when he tried to touch her. He got up
angrily and stood looking down at her, his hands in his pockets.

"What the devil did you think all this talk meant?" he demanded.
"You've heard enough of it."

"Does Aunt Elinor know?"

"Of course."

"And she approves?"

"I don't know and I don't care." Suddenly, with one of the quick
changes she knew so well, he caught her hands and drawing her to her
feet, put his arms around her. "All I know is that I love you, and
if you say the word I'll cut the whole business."

"You would?"

He amended his offer somewhat.

"Marry me, honey," he begged. "Marry me now. Do you think I'll
let anything in God's world come between us? Marry me, and I'll do
more than leave them." He was whispering to her, stroking her hair.
"I'll cut the whole outfit. And on the day I go into your house as
your husband I'll tell your people some things they want to know.
That's a promise."

"What will they do to you?"

"Your people?"

"The others."

He drew himself to his full height, and laughed.

"They'll try to do plenty, old girl," he said, "but I'm not afraid of
them, and they know it. Marry me, Lily," he urged. "Marry me now.
And we'll beat them out, you and I."

He gave her a sense of power, over him and over evil. She felt
suddenly an enormous responsibility, that of a human soul waiting to
be uplifted and led aright.

"You can save me, honey," he whispered, and kneeling suddenly, he
kissed the toe of her small shoe.

He was strong. But he was weak too. He needed her. "I'll do it,
Louis," she said. "You - you will be good to me, won't you?"

"I'm crazy about you."

The mood of exaltation upheld her through the night, and into the
next day. Elinor eyed her curiously, and with some anxiety. It
was a long time since she had been a girl, going about star-eyed
with power over a man, but she remembered that lost time well.

At noon Louis came in for a hasty luncheon, and before he left he
drew Lily into the little study and slipped a solitaire diamond on
her engagement finger. To Lily the moment was almost a holy one,
but he seemed more interested in the quality of the stone and its
appearance on her hand than in its symbolism.

"Got you cinched now, honey. Do you like it?"

"It makes me feel that I don't belong to myself any longer."

"Well, you've passed into good hands," he said, and laughed his
great, vibrant laugh. "Costing me money already, you mite!"

A little of her exaltation died then. But perhaps men were like
that, shyly covering the things they felt deepest.

She was rather surprised when he suggested keeping the engagement
a secret.

"Except the Doyles, of course," he said. "I am not taking any
chances on losing you, child."

"Not mother?"

"Not unless you want to be kidnaped and taken home. It's only a
matter of a day or two, anyhow."

"I want more time than that. A month, anyhow."

And he found her curiously obstinate and determined. She did not
quite know herself why she demanded delay, except that she shrank
from delivering herself into hands that were so tender and might
be so cruel. It was instinctive, purely.

"A month," she said, and stuck to it.

He was rather sulky when he went away, and he had told her the exact
amount he had paid for her ring.

Having forced him to agree to the delay, she found her mood of
exaltation returning. As always, it was when he was not with he
that she saw him most clearly, and she saw his real need for her.
She had a sense of peace, too, now that at last something was
decided. Her future, for better or worse, would no longer be that
helpless waiting which had been hers for so long. And out of her
happiness came a desire to do kind things, to pat children on the
head, to give alms to beggars, and - to see Willy Cameron.

She came' downstairs that afternoon, dressed for the street.

"I am going out for a little while, Aunt Nellie," she said, "and
when I come back I want to tell you something."

"Perhaps. I can guess."

"Perhaps you can."

She was singing to herself as she went out the door.

Elinor went back heavy-hearted to her knitting. It was very
difficult always to sit by and wait. Never to raise a hand. Just
to wait and watch." And pray.

Lily was rather surprised, when she reached the Eagle Pharmacy, to
find Pink Denslow coming out. It gave her a little pang, too; he
looked so clean and sane and normal, so much a part of her old life.
And it hurt her, too, to see him flush with pleasure at the meeting.

"Why, Lily!" he said, and stood there, gazing at her, hat in hand,
the sun on his gleaming, carefully brushed hair. He was quite
inarticulate with happiness. "I - when did you get back?"

"I have not been away, Pink. I left home - it's a long story. I
am staying with my aunt, Mrs. Doyle."

"Mrs. Doyle? You are staying there?"

"Why not? My father's sister."

His young face took on a certain sternness.

"If you knew what I suspect about Doyle, Lily, you wouldn't let the
same roof cover you." But he added, rather wistfully, "I wish I
might see you sometimes."

Lily's head had gone up a trifle. Why did her old world always try
to put her in the wrong? She had had to seek sanctuary, and the
Doyle house had been the only sanctuary she knew.

"Since you feel as you do, I'm afraid that's impossible. Mr.
Doyle's roof is the only roof I have."

"You have a home," he said, sturdily.

"Not now. I left, and my grandfather won't have me back. You
mustn't blame him, Pink. We quarreled and I left. I was as much
responsible as he was."

For a moment after she turned and disappeared inside the pharmacy
door he stood there, then he put on his hat and strode down the
street, unhappy and perplexed. If only she had needed him, if she
had not looked so self-possessed and so ever so faintly defiant,
as though she dared him to pity her, he would have known what to
do. All he needed was to be needed. His open face was full of
trouble. It was unthinkable that Lily should be in that center of
anarchy; more unthinkable that Doyle might have filled her up with
all sorts of wild ideas. Women were queer; they liked theories. A
man could have a theory of life and play with it and boast about
it, but never dream of living up to it. But give one to a woman,
and she chewed on it like a dog on a bone. If those Bolshevists
had got hold of Lily - !

The encounter had hurt Lily, too. The fine edge of her exaltation
was gone, and it did not return during her brief talk with Willy
Cameron. He looked much older and very thin; there were lines
around his eyes she had never seen before, and she hated seeing
him in his present surroundings. But she liked him for his very
unconsciousness of those surroundings. One always had to take
Willy Cameron as he was.

"Do you like it, Willy?" she asked. It had dawned on her, with a
sort of panic, that there was really very little to talk about. All
that they had had in common lay far in the past.

"Well, it's my daily bread, and with bread costing what it does, I
cling to it like a limpet to a rock."

"But I thought you were studying, so you could do something else."

"I had to give up the night school. But I'll get back to it
sometime.

She was lost again. She glanced around the little shop, where once
Edith Boyd had manicured her nails behind the counter, and where
now a middle-aged woman stood with listless eyes looking out over
the street.

"You still have Jinx, I suppose?"

"Yes. I - "

Lily glanced up as he stopped. She had drawn off her gloves, and
his eyes had fallen on her engagement ring. To Lily there had
always been a feeling of unreality about his declaration of love
for her. He had been so restrained, so careful to ask nothing in
exchange, so without expectation of return, that she had put it out
of her mind as an impulse. She had not dreamed that he could still
care, after these months of silence. But he had gone quite white.

"I am going to be married, Willy," she said, in a low tone. It is
doubtful if he could have spoken, just then. And as if to add a
finishing touch of burlesque to the meeting, a small boy with a
swollen jaw came in just then and demanded something to "make it
stop hurting."

He welcomed the interruption, she saw. He was very professional
instantly, and so absorbed for a moment in relieving the child's
pain that he could ignore his own.

"Let's see it," he said in a businesslike, slightly strained voice.
"Better have it out, old chap. But I'll give you something just
to ease it up a bit."

Which he proceeded to do. When he came back to Lily he was quite
calm and self-possessed. As he had never thought of dramatizing
himself, nor thought of himself at all, it did not occur to him
that drama requires setting, that tragedy required black velvet
rather than tooth-brushes, and that a small boy with an aching
tooth was a comedy relief badly introduced.

All he knew was that he had somehow achieved a moment in which to
steady himself, and to find that a man can suffer horribly and
still smile. He did that, very gravely, when he came back to Lily.

"Can you tell me about it?"

"There is not very much to tell. It is Louis Akers."

The middle-aged clerk had disappeared.

"Of course you have thought over what that means, Lily."

"He wants me to marry him. He wants it very much, Willy. And - I
know you don't like him, but he has changed. Women always think
they have changed men, I know. But he is very different."

"I am sure of that," he said, steadily.

There was something childish about her, he thought. Childish and
infinitely touching. He remembered a night at the camp, when some
of the troops had departed for over-seas, and he had found her alone
and crying in her hut. "I just can't let them go," she had sobbed.
"I just can't. Some of them will never come back."

Wasn't there something of that spirit in her now, the feeling that
she could not let Akers go, lest worse befall him? He did not know.
All he knew was that she was more like the Lily Cardew he had known
then than she had been since her return. And that he worshiped her.

But there was anger in him, too. Anger at Anthony Cardew. Anger at
the Doyles. And a smoldering, bitter anger at Louis Akers, that he
should take the dregs of his life and offer them to her as new wine.
That he should dare to link his scheming, plotting days to this girl,
so wise and yet so ignorant, so clear-eyed and yet so blind.

"Do they know at home?"

"I am going to tell mother to-day."

"Lily," he said, slowly, "there is one thing you ought to do. Go
home, make your peace there, and get all this on the right footing.
Then have him there. You have never seen him in that environment,
yet that is the world he will have to live in, if you marry him.
See how he fits there."

"What has that got to do with it?"

"Think a minute. Am I quite the same to you here, as I was in the
camp?"

He saw her honest answer in her eyes.

CHAPTER XXII

The new movement was growing rapidly, and with a surprising
catholicity of range. Already it included lawyers and doctors,
chauffeurs, butchers, clergymen, clerks of all sorts, truck
gardeners from the surrounding county, railroad employees, and
some of the strikers from the mills, men who had obeyed their
union order to quit work, but had obeyed it unwillingly; men who
resented bitterly the invasion of the ranks of labor by the lawless
element which was fomenting trouble.

Dan had joined.

On the day that Lily received her engagement ring from Louis Akers,
one of the cards of the new Vigilance Committee was being inspected
with cynical amusement by two clerks in a certain suite of offices
in the Searing Building. They studied it with interest, while the
man who had brought it stood by.

"Where'd you pick it up, Cusick?"

"One of our men brought it into the store. Said you might want to
see it."

The three men bent over it.

The Myers Housecleaning Company had a suite of three rooms. During
the day two stenographers, both men, sat before machines and made a
pretense of business at such times as the door opened, or when an
occasional client, seeing the name, came in to inquire for rates.
At such times the clerks were politely regretful. The firm's
contracts were all they could handle for months ahead.

There was a constant ebb and flow of men in the office, presumably
professional cleaners. They came and went, or sat along the walls,
waiting. A large percentage were foreigners but the clerks proved
to be accomplished linguists. They talked, with more or less
fluency, with Croats, Serbs, Poles and Slavs.

There was a supply room off the office, a room filled with pails
and brushes, soap and ladders. But there was a great safe also,
and its compartments were filled with pamphlets in many tongues,
a supply constantly depleted and yet never diminishing. Workmen,
carrying out the pails of honest labor, carried them loaded down
with the literature it was their only business to circulate.

Thus, openly, and yet with infinite caution, was spread the doctrine
of no God; of no government, and of no church; of the confiscation
of private property; of strikes and unrest; of revolution, rape,
arson and pillage.

And around this social cancer the city worked and played. Its
theatres were crowded, its expensive shops, its hotels. Two classes
of people were spending money prodigally; women with shawls over
their heads, women who in all their peasant lives had never owned a
hat, drove in automobiles to order their winter supply of coal, and
vast amounts of liquors were being bought by the foreign element
against the approaching prohibition law, and stored in untidy
cellars.

On the other hand, the social life of the city was gay with reaction
from war. The newspapers were filled with the summer plans of the
wealthy, and with predictions of lavish entertaining in the fall.
Among the list of debutantes Lily's name always appeared.

And, in between the upper and the nether millstone, were being
ground the professional and salaried men with families, the women
clerks, the vast army who asked nothing but the right to work and
live. They went through their days doggedly, with little anxious
lines around their eyes, suffering a thousand small deprivations,
bewildered, tortured with apprehension of to-morrow, and yet
patiently believing that, as things could not be worse, they must
soon commence to improve.

"It's bound to clear up soon," said Joe Wilkinson over the back
fence one night late in June, to Willy Cameron. Joe supported a
large family of younger brothers and sisters in the house next
door, and was employed in a department store. "I figure it this
way - both sides need each other, don't they? Something like
marriage, you know. It'll all be over in six months. Only I'm
thanking heaven just now it's summer, because our kids are hell
on shoes."

"I hope so," said Willy Cameron. "What are you doing over there,
anyhow?"

"Wait and see," said Joe, cryptically. "If you think you're going
to be the only Central Park in this vicinity you've got to think
again." He hesitated and glanced around, but the small Wilkinsons
were searching for worms in the overturned garden mold. "How's
Edith?" he asked.

"She's all right, Joe."

"Seeing anybody yet?"

"Not yet. In a day or so she'll be downstairs."

"You might tell her I've been asking about her."

There was something in Joel's voice that caught Willy Cameron's
attention. He thought about Joe a great deal that night. Joe was
another one who must never know about Edith's trouble. The boy
had little enough, and if he had built a dream about Edith Boyd he
must keep his dream. He was rather discouraged that night, was
Willy Cameron, and he began to think that dreams were the best
things in life. They were a sort of sanctuary to which one fled
to escape realities. Perhaps no reality was ever as beautiful as
one's dream of it.

Lily had passed very definitely out of his life. Sometimes during
his rare leisure he walked to Cardew Way through the warm night,
and past the Doyle house, but he never saw her, and because it did
not occur to him that she might want to see him he never made an
attempt to call. Always after those futile excursions he was
inclined to long silences, and only Jinx could have told how many
hours he sat in his room at night, in the second-hand easy chair he
had bought, pipe in hand and eyes on nothing in particular, lost in
a dream world where the fields bore a strong resemblance to the
parade ground of an army camp, and through which field he and Lily
wandered like children, hand in hand.

But he had many things to think of. So grave were the immediate
problems, of food and rent, of Mrs. Boyd and Edith, that a little
of his fine frenzy as to the lurking danger of revolution departed
from him. The meetings in the back room at the pharmacy took on
a political bearing, and Hendricks was generally the central figure.
The ward felt that Mr. Hendricks was already elected, and called
him "Mr. Mayor." At the same time the steel strike pursued a course
of comparative calm. At Friendship and at Baxter there had been
rioting, and a fatality or two, but the state constabulary had the
situation well in hand. On a Sunday morning Willy Cameron went out
to Baxter on the trolley, and came home greatly comforted. The
cool-eyed efficiency of the state police reassured him. He compared
them, disciplined, steady, calm with the calmness of their dangerous
calling, with the rabble of foreigners who shuffled along the
sidewalks, and he felt that his anxiety had been rather absurd.

He was still making speeches, and now and then his name was mentioned
in the newspapers. Mrs. Boyd, now mostly confined to her room, spent
much time in searching for these notices, and then in painfully
cutting them out and pasting them in a book. On those days when
there was nothing about him she felt thwarted, and was liable to
sharp remarks on newspapers in general, and on those of the city in
particular.

Then, just as he began to feel that the strike would pass off like
other strikes, and that Doyle and his crowd, having plowed the field
for sedition, would find it planted with healthier grain, he had a
talk with Edith.

She came downstairs for the first time one Wednesday evening early
in July, the scars on her face now only faint red blotches, and
he placed her, a blanket over her knees, in the small parlor. Dan
had brought her down and had made a real effort to be kind, but his
suspicion of the situation made it difficult for him to dissemble,
and soon he went out. Ellen was on the doorstep, and through the
open window came the shrieks of numerous little Wilkinsons wearing
out expensive shoe-leather on the brick pavement.

They sat in the dusk together, Edith very quiet, Willy Cameron
talking with a sort of determined optimism. After a time he
realized that she was not even listening.

"I wish you'd close the window," she said at last. "Those crazy
Wilkinson kids make such a racket. I want to tell you something."

"All right." He closed the window and stood looking down at her.
"Are you sure you want me to hear it?" he asked gravely.

"Yes. It is not about myself. I've been reading the newspapers
while I've been shut away up there, Willy. It kept me from
thinking. And if things are as bad as they say I'd better tell
you, even if I get into trouble doing it. I will, probably.
Murder's nothing to them."

"Who are 'them'?"

"You get the police to search the Myers Housecleaning Company, in
the Searing Building."

"Don't you think you'd better tell me more than that? The police
will want something definite to go on."

She hesitated.

"I don't know very much. I met somebody there, once or twice, at
night. And I know there's a telephone hidden in the drawer of
the desk in the back room. I swore not to tell, but that doesn't
matter now. Tell them to examine the safe, too. I don't know
what's in it. Dynamite, maybe."

"What makes you think the company is wrong? A hidden telephone
isn't much to go on."

"When a fellow's had a drink or two, he's likely to talk," she said
briefly, and before that sordid picture Willy Cameron was silent.
After a time he said:

"You won't tell me the name of the man you met there?"

"No. Don't ask me, Willy. That's between him and me." He got up
and took a restless turn or two about the little rooms Edith's
problem had begun to obsess him. Not for long would it he possible
to keep her condition from Mrs. Boyd. He was desperately at a loss
for some course to
pursue.

"Have you ever thought," he said at last, "that this man, whoever
he is, ought to marry you?"

Edith's face set like a flint.

"I don't want to marry him," she said. "I wouldn't marry him if he
was the last man on earth."

He knew very little of Edith's past. In his own mind he had fixed
on Louis Akers, but he could not be sure.

"I won't tell you his name, either," Edith added, shrewishly. Then
her voice softened. "I will tell you this, Willy," she said
wistfully. "I was a good girl until I knew him. I'm not saying
that to let myself out. It's the truth."

"You're a good girl now," he said gravely.

Some time after he got his hat and came in to tell her he was
going out.

"I'll tell what you've told me to Mr. Hendricks," he said. "And
we may go on and have a talk with the Chief of Police. If you are
right it may be important."

After that for an hour or two Edith sat alone, save when Ellen now
and then looked in to see if she was comfortable.

Edith's mind was chaotic. She had spoken on impulse, a good impulse
at that. But suppose they trapped Louis Akers in the Searing
Building?

Ellen went now and then to the Cardew house, and brought back with
her the news of the family. At first she had sternly refused to
talk about the Cardews to Edith, but the days in the sick room had
been long and monotonous, and Edith's jealousy of Lily had taken
the form, when she could talk, of incessant questions.

So Edith knew that Louis Akers had been the cause of Lily's leaving
home, and called her a poor thing in her heart. Quite lately she
had heard that if Lily was not already engaged she probably would
be, soon. Now her motives were mixed, and her emotions confused.
She had wanted to tell Willy Cameron what she knew, but she wanted
Lily to marry Louis Akers. She wanted that terribly. Then Lily
would be out of the way, and - Willy was not like Dan; he did not
seem to think her forever lost. He had always been thoughtful, but
lately he had been very tender with her. Men did strange things
sometimes. He might be willing to forget, after a long time. She
could board the child out somewhere, if it lived. Sometimes they
didn't live.

But if they arrested Louis, Lily Cardew would fling him aside like
an old shoe.

She closed her eyes. That opened a vista of possibilities she
would not face.

She stopped in her mother's room on her slow progress upstairs,
moved to sudden pity for the frail life now wearing to its close.
If that were life she did not want it, with its drab days and
futile effort, its incessant deprivations, its hands, gnarled with
work that got nowhere, its greatest blessing sleep and forgetfulness.

She wondered why her mother did not want to die, to get away.

"I'll soon be able to look after you a bit, mother," she said from
the doorway. "How's the pain down your arm?"

"Bring me the mucilage, Edie," requested Mrs. Boyd. She was propped
up in bed and surrounded by newspapers. "I've found Willy's name
again. I've got fourteen now. Where's the scissors?"

Eternity was such a long time. Did she know? Could she know, and
still sit among her pillows, snipping?

"I wonder," said Mrs. Boyd, "did anybody feed Jinx? That Ellen is
so saving that she grudges him a bone."

"He looks all right," said Edith, and went on up to bed. Maybe the
Lord did that for people, when they reached a certain point. Maybe
He took away the fear of death, by showing after years of it that
life was not so valuable after all. She remembered her own facing
of eternity, and her dread of what lay beyond. She had prayed first,
because she wanted to have some place on the other side. She had
prayed to be received young and whole and without child. And her
mother -

Then she had a flash of intuition. There was something greater
than life, and that was love. Her mother was upheld by love. That
was what the eternal cutting and pasting meant. She was lavishing
all the love of her starved days on Willy Cameron; she was facing
death, because his hand was close by to hold to.

For just a moment, sitting on the edge of her bed, Edith Boyd saw
what love might be, and might do. She held out both hands in the
darkness, but no strong and friendly clasp caught them close. If
she could only have him to cling to, to steady her wavering feet
along the gray path that stretched ahead, years and years of it.
Youth. Middle age. Old age.

"I'd only drag him down," she muttered bitterly.

Willy Cameron, meanwhile, had gone to Mr. Hendricks with Edith's
story, and together late that evening they saw the Chief of Police
at his house. Both Willy Cameron and Mr. Hendricks advocated
putting a watch on the offices of the Myers Housecleaning Company
and thus ultimately getting the heads of the organization. But
the Chief was unwilling to delay.

"Every day means more of their infernal propaganda," he said, "and
if this girl's telling a straight story, the thing to do is to get
the outfit now. Those clerks, for instance - we'll get some
information out of them. That sort always squeals. They're a
cheap lot."

"Going to ball it up, of course," Mr. Hendricks said disgustedly,
on the way home. "Won't wait, because if Akers gets in he's out,
and he wants to make a big strike first. I'll drop in to-morrow
evening and tell you what's happened."

He came into the pharmacy the next evening, with a bundle of
red-bound pamphlets under his arm, and a look of disgust on his
face.

"What did I tell you, Cameron?" he demanded, breathing heavily.
"Yes, they got them all right. Got a safe full of stuff so
inflammable that, since I've read some of it, I'm ready to blow up
myself. It's worse than that first lot I showed you. They got
the two clerks, and a half-dozen foreigners, too. And that's all
they got."

"They won't talk?"

"Talk? Sure they'll talk. They say they're employed by the Myers
Housecleaning Company, that they never saw the inside of the vault,
and they're squealing louder than two pigs under a gate about false
arrest. They'll have to let them go, son. Here. You can do most
everything. Can you read Croatian? No? Well, here's something
in English to cut your wisdom teeth on. Overthrowing the government
is where these fellows start."

It was intelligent, that propaganda. Willy Cameron thought he saw
behind it Jim Doyle and other men like Doyle, men who knew the
discontents of the world, and would fatten by them; men who,
secretly envious of the upper classes and unable to attain to them,
would pull all men to their own level, or lower. Men who cloaked
their own jealousies with the garb of idealism. Intelligent it was,
dangerous, and imminent.

The pamphlets spoke of "the day." It was a Prussian phrase. The
revolution was Prussian. And like the Germans, they offered loot
as a reward. They appealed to the ugliest passions in the world,
to lust and greed and idleness.

At a signal the mass was to arise, overthrow its masters and rule
itself.

Mr. Hendricks stood in the doorway of the pharmacy and stared out
at the city he loved.

"Just how far does that sort of stuff go, Cameron?" he asked.
"Will our people take it up? Is the American nation going crazy?"

"Not a bit of it," said Willy Cameron stoutly." They're about as
able to overthrow the government as you are to shove over the Saint
Elmo Hotel."

"I could do that, with a bomb."

"No, you couldn't. But you could make a fairly sizeable hole in
it. It's the hole we don't want."

Mr. Hendricks went away, vaguely comforted.

CHAPTER XXIII

To old Anthony the early summer had been full of humiliations, which
he carried with an increased arrogance of bearing that alienated
even his own special group at his club.

"Confound the man," said Judge Peterson, holding forth on the golf
links one Sunday morning while Anthony Cardew, hectic with rage,
searched for a lost ball and refused to drop another. "He'll hold
us up all morning, for that ball, just as he tries to hold up all
progress." He lowered his voice. "What's happened to the
granddaughter, anyhow?"

Senator Lovell lighted a cigarette.

"Turned Bolshevist," he said, briefly.

The Judge gazed at him.

"That's a pretty serious indictment, isn't it?"

"Well, that's what I hear. She's living in Jim Doyle's house. I
guess that's the answer. Hey, Cardew! D'you want these young cubs
behind us to play through, or are you going to show some sense and
come on?"

Howard, fighting his father tooth and nail, was compelled to a
reluctant admiration of his courage. But there was no cordiality
between them. They were in accord again, as to the strike,
although from different angles. Both of them knew that they were
fighting for very life; both of them felt that the strikers'
demands meant the end of industry, meant that the man who risked
money in a business would eventually cease to control that business,
although if losses came it would be he, and not the workmen, who
bore them. Howard had gone as far as he could in concessions, and
the result was only the demand for more. The Cardews, father and
son, stood now together, their backs against a wall, and fought
doggedly.

But only anxiety held them together.

His father was now backing Howard's campaign for the mayoralty,
but he was rather late with his support, and in private he retained
his cynical attitude. He had not come over at all until he learned
that Louis Akers was an opposition candidate. At that his wrath
knew no bounds and the next day he presented a large check to the
campaign committee.

Mr. Hendricks, hearing of it, was moved to a dry chuckle.

"Can't you hear him?" he demanded. "He'd stalk into headquarters
as important as an office boy who's been sent to the bank for money,
and he'd slam down his check and say just two words."

"Which would be?" inquired Willy Cameron.

"'Buy 'em'," quoted Mr. Hendricks. "The old boy doesn't know that
things have changed since the 80's. This city has changed, my lad.
It's voting now the way it thinks, right or wrong. That's why these
foreign language papers can play the devil with us. The only
knowledge the poor wretches have got of us is what they're given to
read. And most of it stinks of sedition. Queer thing, this
thinking. A fellow can think himself into murder."

The strike was going along quietly enough. There had been rioting
through the country, but not of any great significance. It was in
reality a sort of trench warfare, with each side dug in and waiting
for the other to show himself in the open. The representatives of
the press, gathered in the various steel cities, with automobiles
arranged for to take them quickly to any disturbance that might
develop, found themselves with little news for the telegraph, and
time hung heavy on their hands.

On an evening in July, Howard found Grace dressing for dinner, and
realized with a shock that she was looking thin and much older. He
kissed her and then held her off and looked at her.

"You've got to keep your courage up, dear," he said. "I don't think
it will be long now."

"Have you seen her?"

"No. But something has happened. Don't look like that, Grace. It's
not - "

"She hasn't married that man?"

"No. Not that. It only touches her indirectly. But she can't stay
there. Even Elinor - " he checked himself. "I'll tell you after
dinner."

Dinner was very silent, although Anthony delivered himself of one
speech rather at length.

"So far as I can make out, Howard," he said, "this man Hendricks is
getting pretty strong. He has a young fellow talking for him who
gets over pretty well. It's my judgment that Hendricks had better
be bought off. He goes around shouting that he's a plain man,
after the support of the plain people. Although I'm damned if I
know what he means by that."

Anthony Cardew was no longer comfortable in his own house. He
placed the blame for it on Lily, and spent as many evenings away
from home as possible. He considered that life was using him rather
badly. Tied to the city in summer by a strike, his granddaughter
openly gone over to his enemy, his own son, so long his tool and
his creature, merely staying in his house to handle him, an income
tax law that sent him to his lawyers with new protests almost daily!
A man was no longer master even in his own home. His employees
would not work for him, his family disobeyed him, his government
held him up and shook him. In the good old days -

"I'm going out," he said, as he rose from the table. "Grace, that
chef is worse than the last. You'd better send him off."

"I can't get any one else. I have tried for weeks. There are no
servants anywhere."

"Try New York."

"I have tried - it is useless."

No cooks, either. No servants. Even Anthony recognized that, with
the exception of Grayson, the servants in his house were vaguely
hostile to the family. They gave grudging service, worked short
hours, and, the only class of labor to which the high cost of food
was a negligible matter, demanded wages he considered immoral.

"I don't know what the world's coming to," he snarled. "Well, I'm
off. Thank God, there are still clubs for a man to go to."

"I want to have a talk with you, father."

"I don't want to talk."

"You needn't. I want you to listen, and I want Grace to hear, too."

In the end he went unwillingly into the library, and when Grayson
had brought liqueurs and coffee and had gone, Howard drew the card
from his pocket.

"I met young Denslow to-day," he said. "He came in to see me. As
a matter of fact, I signed a card he had brought along, and I brought
one for you, sir. Shall I read it?"

"You evidently intend to."

Howard read the card slowly. Its very simplicity was impressive, as
impressive as it had been when Willy Cameron scrawled the words on
the back of an old envelope. Anthony listened.

"Just what does that mean?"

"That the men behind this movement believe that there is going to
be a general strike, with an endeavor to turn it into a revolution.
Perhaps only local, but these things have a tendency to spread.
Denslow had some literature which referred to an attempt to take
over the city. They have other information, too, all pointing the
same way."

"Strikers?"

"Foreign strikers, with the worst of the native born. Their plans
are fairly comprehensive; they mean to dynamite the water works,
shut down the gas and electric plants, and cut off all food supplies.
Then when they have starved and terrorized us into submission, we'll
accept their terms."

"What terms?"

"Well, the rule of the mob, I suppose. They intend to take over
the banks, for one thing."

"I don't believe it. It's incredible."

"They meant to do it in Seattle."

"And didn't. Don't forget that."

"They may have learned some things from Seattle," Howard said
quietly.

"We have the state troops."

"What about a half dozen similar movements in the state at the same
time? Or rioting in other places, carefully planned to draw the
troops and constabulary away?"

In the end old Anthony was impressed, if not entirely convinced.
But he had no faith in the plain people, and said so. "They'll see
property destroyed and never lift a hand," he said. "Didn't I
stand by in Pittsburgh during the railroad riots, and watch them
smile while the yards burned? Because the railroads meant capital
to them, and they hate capital."

"Precisely," said Howard, "but after twenty-four hours they were
fighting like demons to restore law and order. It is" - he fingered
the card - "to save that twenty-four hours that this organization is
being formed. It is secret. Did I tell you that? And the idea
originated with the young man you spoke about as supporting Hendricks
- you met him here once, a friend of Lily's. His name is Cameron
- William Wallace Cameron."

Old Anthony remained silent, but the small jagged vein on his
forehead swelled with anger. After a time:

"I suppose Doyle is behind this?" he asked. "It sounds like him."

"That is the supposition. But they have nothing on him yet; he is
too shrewd for that. And that leads to something else. Lily cannot
continue to stay there."

"I didn't send her there."

"Actually, no. In effect - but we needn't go into that now. The
situation is very serious. I can imagine that nothing could fit
better into his plans than to have her there. She gives him a
cachet of respectability. Do you want that?"

"She is probably one of them now. God knows how much of his rotten
doctrine she has absorbed."

Howard flushed, but he kept his temper.

"His theories, possibly. His practice, no. She certainly has no
idea ... it has come to this, father. She must have a home
somewhere, and if it cannot be here, Grace and I must make one
for her elsewhere."

Probably Anthony Cardew had never respected Howard more than at that
moment, or liked him less.

"Both you and Grace are free to make a home where you please."

"We prefer it here, but you must see yourself that things cannot go
on as they are. We have waited for you to see that, all three of
us, and now this new situation makes it imperative to take some
action."

"I won't have that fellow Akers coming here."

"He would hardly come, under the circumstances. Besides, her
friendship with him is only a part of her revolt. If she comes
home it will be with the understanding that she does not see him
again."

"Revolt?" said old Anthony, raising his eyebrows.

"That is what it actually was. She found her liberty interfered with,
and she staged her own small rebellion. It was very human, I think."

"It was very Cardew," said old Anthony, and smiled faintly. He had,
to tell the truth, developed a grudging admiration for his
granddaughter in the past two months. He saw in her many of his own
qualities, good and bad. And, more than he cared to own, he had
missed her and the young life she had brought into the quiet house.
Most important of all, she was the last of the Cardews. Although
his capitulation when it came was curt, he was happier than he had
been for weeks.

"Bring her home," he said, "but tell her about Akers. If she says
that is off, I'll forget the rest."

On her way to her room that night Grace Cardew encountered
Mademoiselle, a pale, unhappy Mademoiselle, who seemed to spend her
time mostly in Lily's empty rooms or wandering about corridors.
Whenever the three members of the family were together she would
retire to her own quarters, and there feverishly with her rosary
would pray for a softening of hearts. She did not comprehend these
Americans, who were so kind to those beneath them and so hard to
each other.

"I wanted to see you, Mademoiselle," Grace said, not very steadily.
"I have good news for you."

Mademoiselle began to tremble. "She is coming? Lily is coming?"

"Yes. Will you have some fresh flowers put in her rooms in the
morning?"

Suddenly Mademoiselle forgot her years of repression, and flinging
her arms around Grace's neck she kissed her. Grace held her for a
moment, patting her shoulder gently.

"We must try to make her very happy, Mademoiselle. I think things
will be different now."

Mademoiselle stood back and wiped her eyes.

"But she must be different, too," she said. "She is sweet and good,
but she is strong of will, too. The will to do, to achieve, that
is one thing, and very good. But the will to go. one's own way,
that is another."

"The young are always headstrong, Mademoiselle."

But, alone later on, her rosary on her knee, Mademoiselle wondered.
If youth were the indictment against Lily, was she not still young?
It took years, or suffering, or sometimes both, to break the will
of youth and chasten its spirit. God grant Lily might not have
suffering.

It was Grace's plan to say nothing to Lily, but to go for her herself,
and thus save her the humiliation of coming back alone. All morning
housemaids were busy in Lily's rooms. Rugs were shaken, floors waxed
and rubbed, the silver frames and vases in her sitting room polished
to refulgence. And all morning Mademoiselle scolded and ran
suspicious fingers into corners, and arranged and re-arranged great
boxes of flowers.

Long before the time she had ordered the car Grace was downstairs,
dressed for the street, and clad in cool shining silk, was pacing
the shaded hall. There was a vague air of expectation about the
old house. In a room off the pantry the second man was polishing
the buttons of his livery, using a pasteboard card with a hole in
it to save the fabric beneath. Grayson pottered about in the
drawing room, alert for the parlor maid's sins of omission.

The telephone in the library rang, and Grayson answered it, while
Grace stood in the doorway.

"A message from Miss Lily," he said. "Mrs. Doyle has telephoned
that Miss Lily is on her way here."

Grace was vaguely disappointed. She had wanted to go to Lily with
her good news, to bring her home bag and baggage, to lead her into
the house and to say, in effect, that this was home, her home. She
had felt that they, and not Lily, should take the first step.

She went upstairs, and taking off her hat, smoothed her
soft dark hair. She did not want Lily to see how she had
worried; she eyed herself carefully for lines. Then she went
down, to more waiting, and for the first time, to a little doubt.

Yet when Lily came all was as it should have been. There was no
doubt about her close embrace of her mother, her happiness at
seeing her. She did not remove her gloves, however, and after
she had put Grace in a chair and perched herself on the arm of it,
there was a little pause. Each was preparing to tell something,
each hesitated. Because Grace's task was the easier it was she
who spoke first.

"I was about to start over when you telephoned, dear," she said.
"I - we want you to come home to us again."

There was a queer, strained silence.

"Who wants me?" Lily asked, unsteadily.

"All of us. Your grandfather, too. He expects to find you here
to-night. I can explain to your Aunt Elinor over the telephone,
and we can send for your clothes."

Suddenly Lily got up and walked the length of the room. When she
came back her eyes were filled with tears, and her left hand was
bare.

"It nearly kills me to hurt you," she said, "but - what about this?"

She held out her hand.

Grace seemed frozen in her chair. At the sight of her mother's
face Lily flung herself on her knees beside the
chair.

"Mother, mother," she said, "you must know how I love you. Love
you both. Don't look like that. I can't bear it."

Grace turned away her face.

"You don't love us. You can't. Not if you are going to marry that
man."

"Mother," Lily begged, desperately, "let me come home. Let me bring
him here. I'll wait, if you'll only do that. He is different; I
know all that you want to say about his past. He has never had a
real chance in all his life. He won't belong at first, but - he's
a man, mother, a strong man. And it's awfully important. He can
do so much, if he only will. And he says he will, if I marry him."

"I don't understand you," Grace said coldly. "What can a man like
that do, but wreck all our lives?"

Resentment was rising fast in Lily, but she kept it down. "I'll
tell you about that later," she said, and slowly got to her feet.
"Is that all, mother? You won't see him? I can't bring him here?
Isn't there any compromise? Won't you meet me half-way?"

"When you say half-way, you mean all the way, Lily."

"I wanted you so," Lily said, drearily, "I need you so just now. I
am going to be married, and I have no one to go to. Aunt Elinor
doesn't understand, either. Every way I look I find - I suppose I
can't come back at all, then."

"Your grandfather's condition was that you never see this Louis
Akers again."

Lily's resentment left her. Anger was a thing for small matters,
trivial affairs. This that was happening, an irrevocable break with
her family, was as far beyond anger as it was beyond tears. She
wondered dully if any man were worth all this. Perhaps she knew,
sub-consciously, that Louis Akers was not. All her exaltation was
gone, and in its stead was a sort of dogged determination to see
the thing through now, at any cost; to re-make Louis into the man
he could be, to build her own house of life, and having built it,
to live in it as best she could.

"That is a condition I cannot fulfill, mother. I am engaged to him."

"Then you love him more than you do any of us, or all of us."

"I don't know. It is different," she said vaguely.

She kissed her mother very tenderly when she went away, but there
was a feeling of finality in them both. Mademoiselle, waiting at
the top of the stairs, heard the door close and could not believe
her ears. Grace went upstairs, her face a blank before the servants,
and shut herself in her room. And in Lily's boudoir the roses
spread a heavy, funereal sweetness over the empty room.

CHAPTER XXIV

The strike had been carried on with comparatively little disorder.
In some cities there had been rioting, but half-hearted and easily
controlled. Almost without exception it was the foreign and
unassimilated element that broke the peace. Alien women spat on
the state police, and flung stones at them. Here and there property
was destroyed. A few bomb outrages filled the newspapers with great
scare-heads, and sent troops and a small army of secret service men
here and there.

In the American Federation of Labor a stocky little man grimly fought
to oppose the Radical element, which was slowly gaining ground, and
at the same time to retain his leadership. The great steel companies,
united at last by a common danger and a common fate if they yielded,
stood doggedly and courageously together, waiting for a return of
sanity to the world. The world seemed to have gone mad. Everywhere
in the country production was reduced by the cessation of labor,
and as a result the cost of living was mounting.

And every strike lost in the end. Labor had yet to learn that to
cease to labor may express a grievance, but that in itself it
righted no wrongs. Rather, it turned that great weapon, public
opinion, without which no movement may succeed, against it. And
that to stand behind the country in war was not enough. It must
stand behind the country in peace.

It had to learn, too, that a chain is only as strong as its weakest
link. The weak link in the labor chain was its Radical element.
Rioters were arrested with union cards in their pockets. In vain
the unions protested their lack of sympathy with the unruly element.
The vast respectable family of union labor found itself accused of
the sins of the minority, and lost standing thereby.

At Friendship the unruly element was very strong. For a time it
held its meetings in a hall. When that was closed it resorted to
the open air.

On the fifteenth of July it held an incendiary meeting on the
unused polo field, and the next day awakened to the sound of hammers,
and to find a high wooden fence, reenforced with barbed wire, being
built around the field, with the state police on guard over the
carpenters. In a few days the fence was finished, only to be partly
demolished the next night, secretly and noiselessly. But no further
attempts were made to hold meetings there. It was rumored that
meetings were being secretly held in the woods near the town, but
the rendezvous was not located.

On the restored fence around the polo grounds a Red flag was found
one morning, and two nights later the guard at the padlocked gate
was shot through the heart, from ambush.

Then, about the first of August, out of a clear sky, sporadic
riotings began to occur. They seemed to originate without cause,
and to end as suddenly as they began. Usually they were in the
outlying districts, but one or two took place in the city itself.
The rioters were not all foreign strikers from the mills. They
were garment workers, hotel waiters, a rabble of the discontented
from all trades. The riots were to no end, apparently. They began
with a chance word, fought their furious way for an hour or so,
and ended, leaving a trail of broken heads and torn clothing
behind them.

On toward the end of July one such disturbance grew to considerable
size. The police were badly outnumbered, and a surprising majority
of the rioters were armed, with revolvers, with wooden bludgeons,
lengths of pipe and short, wicked iron bars. Things were rather
desperate until the police found themselves suddenly and mysteriously
reenforced by a cool-headed number of citizens, led by a tall thin
man who limped slightly, and who disposed his heterogeneous support
with a few words and considerable skill.

The same thin young man, stopping later in an alley way to
investigate an arm badly bruised by an iron bar, overheard a
conversation between two roundsmen, met under a lamppost after the
battle, for comfort and a little conversation.

"Can you beat that, Henry?" said one. "Where the hell'd they come
from?"

"Search me," said Henry. "D'you see the skinny fellow? Limped,
too. D'you notice that? Probably hurt in France. But he hasn't
forgotten how to fight, I'll tell the world."

The outbreaks puzzled the leaders of the Vigilance Committee.
Willy Cameron was inclined to regard them as without direction or
intention, purely as manifestations of hate, and as such contrary
to the plans of their leaders. And Mr. Hendricks, nursing a black
eye at home after the recent outburst, sized up the situation
shrewdly.

"You can boil a kettle too hard," he said, "and then the lid pops
off. Doyle and that outfit of his have been burning the fire a
little high, that's all. They'll quit now, because they want to
get us off guard later. You and your committee can take a vacation,
unless you can set them to electioneering for me. They've had
enough for a while, the devils. They'll wait now for Akers to get
in and make things easy for them. Mind my words, boy. That's the
game."

And the game it seemed to be. Small violations of order still
occurred, but no big ones. To the headquarters in the Denslow
Bank came an increasing volume of information, to be duly docketed
and filed. Some of it was valueless. Now and then there came in
something worth following up. Thus one night Pink and a picked
band, following a vague clew, went in automobiles to the state
borderline, and held up and captured two trucks loaded with whiskey
and destined for Friendship and Baxter. He reported to Willy
Cameron late that night.

"Smashed it all up and spilled it in the road," he said. "Hurt
like sin to do it, though. Felt like the fellow who shot the last
passenger pigeon."

But if the situation in the city was that of armed neutrality, in
the Boyd house things were rapidly approaching a climax, and that
through Dan. He was on edge, constantly to be placated and watched.
The strike was on his nerves; he felt his position keenly, resented
Willy Cameron supporting the family, and had developed a curious
jealousy of his mother's affection for him.

Toward Edith his suspicions had now become certainty, and an open
break came on an evening when she said that she felt able to go to
work again. They were at the table, and Ellen was moving to and
from the kitchen, carrying in the meal. Her utmost thrift could
not make it other than scanty, and finally Dan pushed his plate
away.

"Going back to work, are you?" he sneered. "And how long do you
think you'll be able to work?"

"You keep quiet," Edith flared at him. "I'm going to work. That's
all you need to know. I can't sit here and let a man who doesn't
belong to us provide every bite we eat, if you can." Willy Cameron
got up and closed the door, for Mrs. Boyd an uncanny ability to
hear much that went on below.

"Now," he said when he came back, "we might as well have this out.
Dan has a right to be told, Edith, and he can help us plan
something." He turned to Dan. "It must be kept from your mother,
Dan."

"Plan something!" Dan snarled. "I know what to plan, all right.
I'll find the - " he broke into foul, furious language, but suddenly
Willy Cameron rose, and there was something threatening in his eyes.

"I know who it is," Dan said, more quietly, "and he's got to marry
her, or I'll kill him."

"You know, do you? Well, you don't," Edith said, "and I won't
marry him anyhow."

"You will marry him. Do you think I'm going to see mother disgraced,
sick as she is, and let you get away with it? Where does Akers
live? You know, don't you? You've been there, haven't you?"

All Edith's caution was forgotten in her shame and anger.

"Yes, I know," she said, hysterically, "but I won't tell you. And
I won't marry him. I hate him. If you go to him he'll beat you to
death." Suddenly the horrible picture of Dan in Akers' brutal hands
overwhelmed her. "Dan, you won't go?" she begged. "He'll kill you."

"A lot you'd care," he said, coldly. "As if we didn't have enough
already! As if you couldn't have married Joe Wilkinson, next door,
and been a decent woman. And instead, you're a - "

"Be quiet, Dan," Willy Cameron interrupted him. "That sort of talk
doesn't help any. Edith is right. If you go to Akers there will be
a fight. And that's no way to protect her."

"God!" Dan muttered. "With all the men in the world, to choose that
rotten anarchist!"

It was sordid, terribly tragic, the three of them sitting there in
the badly lighted little room around the disordered table, with
Ellen grimly listening in the doorway, and the odors of cooking
still heavy in the air. Edith sat there, her hands on the table,
staring ahead, and recounted her wrongs. She had never had a chance.
Home had always been a place to get away from. Nobody had cared
what became of her. And hadn't she tried to get out of the way?
Only they all did their best to make her live. She wished she had
died.

Dan, huddled low in his chair, his legs sprawling, stared at
nothing with hopeless eyes.

Afterwards Willy Cameron could remember nothing of the scene in
detail. He remembered its setting, but of all the argument and
quarreling only one thing stood out distinctly, and that was
Edith's acceptance of Dan's accusation. It was Akers, then.
And Lily Cardew was going to marry him. Was in love with him.

"Does he know how things are?" he asked.

She nodded. "Yes."

"Does he offer to do anything?"

"Him? He does not. And don't you go to him and try to get him to
marry me. I tell you I'd die first."

He left them there, sitting in the half light, and going out into
the hall picked up his hat. Mrs. Boyd heard him and called to him,
and before he went out he ran upstairs to her room. It seemed to
him, as he bent over her, that her lips were bluer than ever, her
breath a little shallower and more difficult. Her untouched supper
tray was beside her.

"I wasn't hungry," she explained. "Seems to me, Willy, if you'd
let me go downstairs so I could get some of my own cooking I'd eat
better. Ellen's all right, but I kind o' crave sweet stuff, and
she don't like making desserts."

"You'll be down before long," he assured her. "And making me pies.
Remember those pies you used to bake?"

"You always were a great one for my pies," she said, complacently.

He kissed her when he left. He had always marveled at the strange
lack of demonstrativeness in the household, and he knew that she
valued his small tendernesses.

"Now remember," he said, "light out at ten o'clock, and no going
downstairs in the middle of the night because you smell smoke.
When you do, it's my pipe."

"I don't think you hardly ever go to bed, Willy."

"Me? Get too much sleep. I'm getting fat with it."

The stale little joke was never stale with her. He left her smiling,
and went down the stairs and out into the street.

He had no plan in his mind except to see Louis Akers, and to find
out from him if he could what truth there was in Edith Boyd's
accusation. He believed Edith, but he must have absolute certainty
before he did anything. Girls in trouble sometimes shielded men.
If he could get the facts from Louis Akers - but he had no idea of
what he would do then. He couldn't very well tell Lily, but her
people might do something. Or Mrs. Doyle.

He knew Lily well enough to know that she would far rather die than
marry Akers, under the circumstances. That her failure to marry
Louis Akers would mean anything as to his own relationship with her
he never even considered. All that had been settled long ago, when
she said she did not love him.

At the Benedict he found that his man had not come home, and for an
hour or two he walked the streets. The city seemed less majestic
to him than usual; its quiet by-streets were lined with homes, it
is true, but those very streets hid also vice and degradation, and
ugly passions. They sheltered, but also they concealed.

At eleven o'clock he went back to the Benedict, and was told that
Mr. Akers had come in.

It was Akers himself who opened the door. Because the night was
hot he had shed coat and shirt, and his fine torso, bare to the
shoulders and at the neck, gleamed in the electric light. Willy
Cameron had hot seen him since those spring days when he had made
his casual, bold-eyed visits to Edith at the pharmacy, and he had
a swift insight into the power this man must have over women. He
himself was tall; but Akers was taller, fully muscled, his head
strongly set on a neck like a column. But he surmised that the
man was soft, out of condition. And he had lost the first
elasticity of youth.

Akers' expression had changed from one of annoyance to watchfulness
when he opened the door.

"Well!" he said. "Making a late call, aren't you?"

"What I had to say wouldn't wait."

Akers had, rather unwillingly, thrown the door wide, and he went in.
The room was very hot, for a small fire, littered as to its edges
with papers, burned in the grate. Although he knew that Akers had
guessed the meaning of his visit at once and was on guard, there
was a moment or two when each sparred for an opening.

"Sit down. Have a cigarette?"

"No, thanks." He remained standing.

"Or a high-ball? I still have some fairly good whiskey."

"No. I came to ask you a question, Mr. Akers."

"Well, answering questions is one of the best little things I do."

"You know about Edith Boyd's condition. She says you are responsible.
Is that true?"

Louis Akers was not unprepared. Sooner or later he had known that
Edith would tell. But what he had not counted on was that she would
tell any one who knew Lily. He had felt that her leaving the
pharmacy had eliminated that chance. "What do you mean, her
condition?"

"You know. She says she has told you."

"You're pretty thick with her yourself, aren't you?"

"I happen to live at the Boyd house."

He was keeping himself well under control, but Akers saw his hand
clench, and resorted to other tactics. He was not angry himself,
but he was wary now; he considered that life was unnecessarily
complicated, and that he had a distinct grievance.

"I have asked you a question, Mr. Akers."

"You don't expect me to answer it, do you?"

"I do."

"If you have come here to talk to me about marrying her - "

"She won't marry you," Willy Cameron said steadily. "That's not
the point I want your own acknowledgment of responsibility, that's
all."

Akers was puzzled, suspicious, and yet relieved. He lighted a
cigarette and over the match stared at the other man's quiet face.

"No!" he said suddenly. "I'm damned if I'll take the responsibility.
She knew her way around long before I ever saw her. Ask her. She
can't lie about it. I can produce other men to prove what I say.
I played around with her, but I don't know whose child that is, and
I don't believe she does."

"I think you are lying."

"All right. But I can produce the goods."

Willy Cameron went very pale. His hands were clenched again, and
Akers eyed him warily.

"None of that," he cautioned. "I don't know what interest you've
got in this, and I don't give a God-damn. But you'd better not
try any funny business with me."

Willy Cameron smiled. Much the sort of smile he had worn during
the rioting.

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