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A Poor Wise Man by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Part 8 out of 9

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the bed.

Willy Cameron stood by it and looked down, with a great wave of
thankfulness in his heart. She had been saved much, and if from
some new angle she was seeing them now it would be with the vision
of eternity, and its understanding. She would see how sometimes
the soul must lose here to gain beyond. She would see the world
filled with its Ediths, and she would know that they too were a
part of the great plan, and that the breaking of the body sometimes
freed the soul.

He was shy of the forms of religion, but he voiced a small
inarticulate prayer, standing beside the bed while Ellen
straightened the few toilet articles on the dresser, that she might
have rest, and then a long and placid happiness. And love, he
added. There would be no Heaven without love.

Ellen was looking at him in the mirror.

"Your hair looks queer, Willy," she said. "And I declare your
clothes are a sight." She turned, sternly. "Where have you been?"

"It's a long story, Ellen. Don't bother about it now. I'm worried
about Edith."

Ellen's lips closed in a grim line.

"The less said about her the better. She came back in a terrible
state about something or other, ran in and up to your room, and out
again. I tried to tell her her mother wasn't so well, but she
looked as if she didn't hear me."

It was four o'clock in the morning when Willy Cameron located Edith.
He had gone to the pharmacy and let himself in, intending to
telephone, but the card on the door, edged with black, gave him a
curious sense of being surrounded that night by death, and he stood
for a moment, unwilling to begin for fear of some further tragedy.
In that moment, what with reaction from excitement and weariness, he
had a feeling of futility, of struggling to no end. One fought on,
and in the last analysis it was useless.

"So soon passeth it away, and we are gone."

He saw Mr. Davis, sitting alone in his house; he saw Ellen moving
about that quiet upper room; he saw Cusick lying on the ground
beside the smoldering heap that had been the barn, and staring up
with eyes that saw only the vast infinity that was the sky. All
the struggling and the fighting, and it came to that.

He picked up the telephone book at last, and finding the hospital
list in the directory began his monotonous calling of numbers, and
still the revolt was in his mind. Even life lay through the gates
of death; daily and hourly women everywhere laid down their lives
that some new soul be born. But the revulsion came with that, a
return to something nearer the normal. Daily and hourly women
lived, having brought to pass the miracle of life.

At half-past four he located Edith at the Memorial, and learned
that her child had been born dead, but that she was doing well. He
was suddenly exhausted; he sat down on a stool before the counter,
and with his arms across it and his head on them, fell almost
instantly asleep. When he waked it was almost seven and the
intermittent sounds of early morning came through the closed doors,
as though the city stirred but had not wakened.

He went to the door and opened it, looking out. He had been wrong
before. Death was a beginning and not an end; it was the morning
of the spirit. Tired bodies lay down to sleep and their souls
wakened to the morning, rested; the first fruits of them that slept.

>From the chimneys of the houses nearby small spirals of smoke began
to ascend, definite promise of food and morning cheer behind the
closed doors, where the milk bottles stood like small white sentinels
and the morning paper was bent over the knob. Morning in the city,
with children searching for lost stockings and buttoning little
battered shoes; with women hurrying about, from stove to closet, from
table to stove; with all burdens a little lighter and all thoughts a
little kinder. Morning.

CHAPTER XLI

In her bed in the maternity ward Edith at first lay through the
days, watching the other women with their babies, and wondering over
the strange instinct that made them hover, like queer mis-shaped
ministering angels, over the tiny quivering bundles. Some of them
were like herself, or herself as she might have been, bearing their
children out of wedlock. Yet they faced their indefinite futures
impassively, content in relief from pain, in the child in their
arms, in present peace and security. She could not understand.

She herself felt no sense of loss. Having never held her child in
her arms she did not feel them empty.

She had not been told of her mother's death; men were not admitted
to the ward, but early on that first morning, when she lay there,
hardly conscious but in an ecstasy of relief from pain, Ellen had
come. A tired Ellen with circles around her eyes, and a bag of
oranges in her arms.

"How do you feel?" she had asked, sitting down self-consciously
beside the bed. The ward had its eyes on her.

"I'm weak, but I'm all right. Last night was awful, Ellen."

She had roused herself with an effort. Ellen reminded her of
something, something that had to do with Willy Cameron. Then she
remembered, and tried to raise herself in the bed.

"Willy!" she gasped. "Did he come home? Is he all right?"

"He's all right. It was him that found you were here. You lie
back now; the nurse is looking."

Edith lay down and closed her eyes, and the ecstasy of relief and
peace gave to her pale face an almost spiritual look. Ellen saw it,
and patted her arm with a roughened hand.

"You poor thing!" she said. "I've been as mean to you as I knew
how to be. I'm going to be different, Edith. I'm just a cross old
maid, and I guess I didn't understand."

"You've been all right," Edith said.

Ellen kissed her when she went away.

So for three days Edith lay and rested. She felt that God had been
very good to her, and she began to think of God as having given her
another chance. This time He had let her off, but He had given her
a warning. He had said, in effect, that if she lived straight and
thought straight from now on He would forget this thing she had done.
But if she did not -

Then what about Willy Cameron? Did He mean her to hold him to that
now? Willy did not love her. Perhaps he would grow to love her,
but she was seeing things more clearly than she had before, and one
of the things she saw was that Willy Cameron was a one-woman man, and
that she was not the woman.

"But I love him so," she would cry to herself.

The ward moved in its orderly routine around her. The babies were
carried out, bathed and brought back, their nuzzling mouths open for
the waiting mother-breast. The nurses moved about, efficient,
kindly, whimsically maternal. Women went out when their hour came,
swollen of feature and figure, and were wheeled back later on,
etherealized, purified as by fire, and later on were given their
babies. Their faces were queer then, frightened and proud at first,
and later watchful and tenderly brooding.

For three days Edith's struggle went on. She had her strong hours
and her weak ones. There were moments when, exhausted and yet
exalted, she determined to give him up altogether, to live the
fiction of the marriage until her mother's death, and then to give
up the house and never see him again. If she gave him up she must
never see him again. At those times she prayed not to love him any
longer, and sometimes, for a little while after that, she would
have peace. It was almost as though she did not love him.

But there were the other times, when she lay there and pictured them
married, and dreamed a dream of bringing him to her feet. He had
offered a marriage that was not a marriage, but he was a man, and
human. He did not want her now, but in the end he would want her;
young as she was she knew already the strength of a woman's physical
hold on a man.

Late on the afternoon of the third day Ellen came again, a
swollen-eyed Ellen, dressed in black with black cotton gloves, and a
black veil around her hat. Ellen wore her mourning with the dogged
sense of duty of her class, and would as soon have gone to the
burying ground in her kitchen apron as without black. She stood in
the doorway of the ward, hesitating, and Edith saw her and knew.

Her first thought was not of her mother at all. She saw only that
the God who had saved her had made her decision for her, and that
now she would never marry Willy Cameron. All this time He had let
her dream and struggle. She felt very bitter.

Ellen came and sat down beside her.

"She's gone. Edith," she said; "we didn't tell you before, but you
have to know sometime. We buried her this afternoon."

Suddenly Edith forgot Willy Cameron, and God, and Dan, and the years
ahead. She was a little girl again, and her mother was saying:

"Brush your teeth and say your prayers, Edie. And tomorrow's Saturday.
So you don't need to get up until you're good and ready."

She lay there. She saw her mother growing older and more frail, the
house more untidy, and her mother's bright spirit fading to the drab
of her surroundings. She saw herself, slipping in late at night,
listening always for that uneasy querulous voice. And then she saw
those recent months, when her mother had bloomed with happiness; she
saw her struggling with her beloved desserts, cheerfully unconscious
of any failure in them; she saw her, living like a lady, as she had
said, with every anxiety kept from her. There had been times when
her thin face had been almost illuminated with her new content and
satisfaction.

Suddenly grief and remorse overwhelmed her.

"Mother!" she said, huskily. And lay there, crying quietly, with
Ellen holding her hand. All that was hard and rebellious in Edith
Boyd was swept away in that rush of grief, and in its place there
came a new courage and resolution. She would meet the future
alone, meet it and overcome it. But not alone, either; there was
always -

It was a Sunday afternoon, and the nurse had picked up the worn
ward Bible and was reading from it, aloud. In their rocking chairs
in a semi-circle around her were the women, some with sleeping
babies in their arms, others with tense, expectant faces.

"Let not your heart be troubled," read the nurse, in a grave young
voice. "Ye believe in God. Believe also in Me. In my Father's
house - "

There was always God.

Edith Boyd saw her mother in the Father's house, pottering about
some small celestial duty, and eagerly seeking and receiving
approval. She saw her, in some celestial rocking chair, her tired
hands folded, slowly rocking and resting. And perhaps, as she sat
there, she held Edith's child on her knee, like the mothers in the
group around the nurse. Held it and understood at last.

CHAPTER XLII

It was at this time that Doyle showed his hand, with his customary
fearlessness. He made a series of incendiary speeches, the general
theme being that the hour was close at hand for putting the fear
of God into the exploiting classes for all time to come. His
impassioned oratory, coming at the psychological moment, when the
long strike had brought its train of debt and evictions, made a
profound impression. Had he asked for a general strike vote then,
he would have secured it.

As it was, it was some time before all the unions had voted for it.
And the day was not set. Doyle was holding off, and for a reason.
Day by day he saw a growth of the theory of Bolshevism among the
so-called intellectual groups of the country. Almost every
university had its radicals, men who saw emerging from Russia the
beginning of a new earth. Every class now had its Bolshevists.
They found a ready market for their propaganda, intelligent and
insidious as it was, among a certain liberal element of the nation,
disgruntled with the autocracy imposed upon them by the war.

The reaction from that autocracy was a swinging to the other
extreme, and, as if to work into the hands of the revolutionary
party, living costs remained at the maximum. The cry of the
revolutionists, to all enough and to none too much, found a response
not only in the anxious minds of honest workmen, but among an
underpaid intelligentsia. Neither political party offered any
relief; the old lines no longer held, and new lines of cleavage had
come. Progressive Republicans and Democrats had united against
reactionary members of both parties. There were no great leaders,
no men of the hour.

The old vicious cycle of empires threatened to repeat itself, the
old story of the many led by the few. Always it had come, autocracy,
the too great power of one man; then anarchy, the overthrow of that
power by the angry mob. Out of that anarchy the gradual
restoration of order by the people themselves, into democracy. And
then in time again, by that steady gravitation of the strong up and
the weak down, some one man who emerged from the mass and crowned
himself, or was crowned. And there was autocracy again, and again
the vicious circle.

But such movements had always been, in the last analysis, the work
of the few. It had always been the militant minority which ruled.
Always the great mass of the people had submitted. They had fought,
one way or the other when the time came, but without any deep
conviction behind them. They wanted peace, the right to labor.
They warred, to find peace. Small concern was it, to the peasant
plowing his field, whether one man ruled over him or a dozen. He
wanted neither place nor power.

It came to this, then, Willy Cameron argued to himself. This new
world conflict was a struggle between the contented and the
discontented. In Europe, discontent might conquer, but in America,
never. There were too many who owned a field or had the chance to
labor. There were too many ways legitimately to aspire. Those who
wanted something for nothing were but a handful to those who wanted
to give that they might receive.

* * * * *

Three days before the election, Willy Cameron received a note from
Lily, sent by hand.

"Father wants to see you to-night," she wrote, "and mother suggests
that as you are busy, you try to come to dinner. We are dining
alone. Do come, Willy. I think it is most important."

He took the letter home with him and placed it in a locked drawer
of his desk, along with a hard and shrunken doughnut, tied with a
bow of Christmas ribbon, which had once helped to adorn the
Christmas tree they had trimmed together. There were other things
in the drawer; a postcard photograph, rather blurred, of Lily in
the doorway of her little hut, smiling; and the cigar box which had
been her cash register at the camp.

He stood for some time looking down at the post card; it did not
seem possible that in the few months since those wonderful days,
life could have been so cruel to them both. Lily married, and he
himself -

Ellen came up when he was tying his tie. She stood behind him,
watching him in the mirror.

"I don't know what you've done to your hair, Willy," she said; "it
certainly looks queer."

"It usually looks queer, so why worry, heart of my heart?" But he
turned and put an arm around her shoulders. "What would the world
be without women like you, Ellen?" he said gravely.

"I haven't done anything but my duty," Ellen said, in her prim voice.
"Listen, Willy. I saw Edith again to-day, and she told me to do
something."

"To go home and take a rest? That's what you need."

"No. She wants me to tear up that marriage license."

He said nothing for a moment. "I'll have to see her first."

"She said it wouldn't be any good, Willy. She's made up her mind."
She watched him anxiously. "You're not going to be foolish, are
you? She says there's no need now, and she's right."

"Somebody will have to look after her."

"Dan can do that. He's changed, since she went." Ellen glanced
toward Mrs. Boyd's empty room. "You've done enough, Willy. You've
seen them through, all of them. I - isn't it time you began to
think about yourself?"

He was putting on his coat, and she picked a bit of thread from it,
with nervous fingers.

"Where are you going to-night, Willy?"

"To the Cardews. Mr. Cardew has sent for me."

She looked up at him.

"Willy, I want to tell you something. The Cardews won't let that
marriage stand, and you know it. I think she cares for you. Don't
look at me like that. I do."

"That's because you are fond of me," he said, smiling down at her.
"I'm not the sort of man girls care about, Ellen. Let's face that.
The General Manager said when he planned me, 'Here's going to be a
fellow who is to have everything in the world, health, intelligence,
wit and the beauty of an Adonis, but he has to lack something, so
we'll make it that'."

But Ellen, glancing up swiftly, saw that although his tone was
light, there was pain in his eyes.

He reflected on Edith's decision as he walked through the park
toward the Cardew house. It had not surprised him, and yet he knew
it had cost her an effort. How great an effort, man-like, he would
never understand, but something of what she had gone through he
realized. He wondered vaguely whether, had there never been a
Lily Cardew in his life, he could ever have cared for Edith.
Perhaps. Not the Edith of the early days, that was certain. But
this new Edith, with her gentleness and meekness, her clear,
suffering eyes, her strange new humility.

She had sent him a message of warning about Akers, and from it he
had reconstructed much of the events of the night she had taken sick.

"Tell him to watch Louis Akers," she had said. "I don't know how
near Willy was to trouble the other night, Ellen, but they're going
to try to get him."

Ellen had repeated the message, watching him narrowly, but he had
only laughed.

"Who are they" she had persisted.

"I'll tell you all about it some day," he had said. But he had told
Dan the whole story, and, although he did not know it, Dan had from
that time on been his self-constituted bodyguard. During his
campaign speeches Dan was always near, his right hand on a revolver
in his coat pocket, and for hours at a time he stood outside the
pharmacy, favoring every seeker for drugs or soap or perfume with a
scowling inspection. When he could not do it, he enlisted Joe
Wilkinson in the evenings, and sometimes the two of them, armed,
policed the meeting halls.

As a matter of fact, Joe Wilkinson was following him that night.
On his way to the Cardews Willy Cameron, suddenly remembering the
uncanny ability of Jinx to escape and trail him, remaining
meanwhile at a safe distance in the rear, turned suddenly and saw
Joe, walking sturdily along in rubber-soled shoes, and obsessed
with his high calling of personal detective.

Joe, discovered, grinned sheepishly.

"Thought that looked like your back," he said. "Nice evening for
a walk, isn't it?"

"Let me look at you, Joe," said Willy Cameron. "You look strange
to me. Ah, now I have it. You look like a comet without a tail.
Where's the family?"

"Making taffy. How - is Edith?"

"Doing nicely." He avoided the boy's eyes.

"I guess I'd better tell you. Dan's told me about her. I - " Joe
hesitated. Then: "She never seemed like that sort of a girl," he
finished, bitterly.

"She isn't that sort of girl, Joe."

"She did it. How could a fellow know she wouldn't do it again?"

"She has had a pretty sad sort of lesson."

Joe, his real business forgotten, walked on with eyes down and
shoulders drooping.

"I might as well finish with it," he said, "now I've started. I've
always been crazy about her. Of course now - I haven't slept for
two nights."

"I think it's rather like this, Joe," Willy Cameron said, after a
pause. "We are not one person, really. We are all two or three
people, and all different. We are bad and good, depending on which
of us is the strongest at the time, and now and then we pay so much
for the bad we do that we bury that part. That's what has happened
to Edith. Unless, of course," he added, "we go on convincing her
that she is still the thing she doesn't want to be."

"I'd like to kill the man," Joe said. But after a little, as they
neared the edge of the park, he looked up.

"You mean, go on as if nothing had happened?"

"Precisely," said Willy Cameron. "as though nothing had happened."

CHAPTER XLIII

The atmosphere of the Cardew house was subtly changed and very
friendly. Willy Cameron found himself received as an old friend,
with no tendency to forget the service he had rendered, or that, in
their darkest hour, he had been one of them.

To his surprise Pink Denslow was there, and he saw at once that
Pink had been telling them of the night at the farm house. Pink
was himself again, save for a small shaved place at the back of his
head, covered with plaster.

"I've told them, Cameron," he said. "If I could only tell it
generally I'd be the most popular man in the city, at dinners."

"Pair of young fools," old Anthony muttered, with his sardonic smile.
But in his hand-clasp, as in Howard's, there was warmth and a sort of
envy, envy of youth and the adventurous spirit of youth.

Lily was very quiet. The story had meant more to her than to the
others. She had more nearly understood Pink's reference to the
sealed envelope Willy Cameron had left, and the help sent by Edith
Boyd. She connected that with Louis Akers, and from that to Akers'
threat against Cameron was only a step. She was frightened and
somewhat resentful, that this other girl should have saved him
from a revenge that she knew was directed at herself. That she,
who had brought this thing about, had sat quietly at home while
another woman, a woman who loved him, had saved him.

She was puzzled at her own state of mind.

Dinner was almost gay. Perhaps the gayety was somewhat forced,
with Pink keeping his eyes from Lily's face, and Howard Cardew
relapsing now and then into abstracted silence. Because of the
men who served, the conversation was carefully general. It was
only in the library later, the men gathered together over their
cigars, that the real reason for Willy Cameron's summons was
disclosed.

Howard Cardew was about to withdraw from the contest. "I'm late
in coming to this decision," he said. "Perhaps too late. But
after a careful canvas of the situation, I find you are right,
Cameron. Unless I withdraw, Akers" - he found a difficulty in
speaking the name - "will be elected. At least it looks that way."

"And if he is," old Anthony put in, "he'll turn all the devils of
hell loose on us."

It was late; very late. The Cardews stood ready to flood the papers
with announcements of Howard's withdrawal, and urging his supporters
to vote for Hendricks, but the time was short. Howard had asked his
campaign managers to meet there that night, and also Hendricks and
one or two of his men, but personally he felt doubtful.

And, as it happened, the meeting developed more enthusiasm than
optimism. Cardew's withdrawal would be made the most of by the
opposition. They would play it up as the end of the old regime, the
beginning of new and better things.

Before midnight the conference broke up, to catch the morning
editions. Willy Cameron, detained behind the others, saw Lily in
the drawing-room alone as he passed the door, and hesitated.

"I have been waiting for you, Willy," she said.

But when he went in she seemed to have nothing to say. She sat in
a low chair, in a soft dark dress which emphasized her paleness. To
Willy Cameron she had never seemed more beautiful, or more remote.

"Do you remember how you used to whistle 'The Long, Long Trail,'
Willy?" she said at last. "All evening I have been sitting here
thinking what a long trail we have both traveled since then."

"A long, hard trail." he assented.

"Only you have gone up, Willy. And I have gone down, into the
valley. I wish" - she smiled faintly - "I wish you would look down
from your peak now and then. You never come to see me."

"I didn't know you wanted me," he said bluntly.

"Why shouldn't I want to see you?"

"I couldn't help reminding you of things."

"But I never forget them, anyhow. Sometimes I almost go mad,
remembering. It isn't quite as selfish as it sounds. I've hurt
them all so. Willy, do you mind telling me about the girl who
opened that letter and sent you help?"

"About Edith Boyd? I'd like to tell you, Lily. Her mother is
dead, and she lost her child. She is in the Memorial Hospital."

"Then she has no one but you?"

"She has a brother."

"Tell me about her sending help that night. She really saved your
life, didn't she?"

While he was telling her she sat staring straight ahead, her
fingers interlaced in her lap. She was telling herself that all
this could not possibly matter to her, that she had cut herself off,
finally and forever, from the man before her; that she did not even
deserve his friendship.

Quite suddenly she knew that she did not want his friendship. She
wanted to see again in his face the look that had been there the
night he had told her, very simply, that he loved her. And it would
never be there; it was not there now. She had killed his love. All
the light in his face was for some one else, another girl, a girl
more unfortunate but less wicked than herself.

When he stopped she was silent. Then:

"I wonder if you know how much you have told me that you did not
intend to tell?"

"That I didn't intend to tell? I have made no reservations, Lily."

"Are you sure? Or don't you realize it yourself?"

"Realize what?" He was greatly puzzled.

"I think, Willy," she said, quietly. "that you care a great deal
more for Edith Boyd than you think you do.

He looked at her in stupefaction. How could she say that? How
could she fail to know better than that? And he did not see the
hurt behind her careful smile.

"You are wrong about that. I - " He made a little gesture of
despair. He could not tell her now that he loved her. That was
all over.

"She is in love with you."

He felt absurd and helpless. He could not deny that, yet how
could she sit there, cool and faintly smiling, and not know that
as she sat there so she sat enshrined in his heart. She was his
saint, to kneel and pray to; and she was his woman, the one woman
of his life. More woman than saint, he knew, and even for that he
loved her. But he did not know the barbarous cruelty of the loving
woman.

"I don't know what to say to you, Lily," he said, at last. "She
- it is possible that she thinks she cares, but under the
circumstances - "

"Ellen told Mademoiselle you were going to marry her. That's true,
isn't it?"

"Yes."

"You always said that marriage without love was wicked, Willy."

"Her child had a right to a name. And there were other things. I
can't very well explain them to you. Her mother was ill. Can't you
understand, Lily? I don't want to throw any heroics." In his
excitement he had lapsed into boyish vernacular. "Here was a plain
problem, and a simple way to solve it. But it is off now, anyhow;
things cleared up without that."

She got up and held out her hand.

"It was like you to try to save her," she said.

"Does this mean I am to go?"

"I am very tired, Willy."

He had a mad impulse to take her in his arms, and holding her close
to rest her there. She looked so tired. For fear he might do it
he held his arms rigidly at his sides.

"You haven't asked me about him," she said unexpectedly.

"I thought you would not care to talk about him. That's over and
done, Lily. I want to forget about it, myself."

She looked up at him, and had he had Louis Akers' intuitive
knowledge of women he would have understood then.

"I am never going back to him, Willy. You know that, don't you?"

"I hoped it, of course."

"I know now that I never loved him."

But the hurt of her marriage was still too fresh in him for speech.
He could not discuss Louis Akers with her.

"No," he said, after a moment, "I don't think you ever did. I'll
come in some evening, if I may, Lily. I must not keep you up now."

How old he looked, for him! How far removed from those busy,
cheerful days at the camp! And there were new lines of repression
in his face; from the nostrils to the corners of his mouth. Above
his ears his hair showed a faint cast of gray.

"You have been having rather a hard time, Willy, haven't you'?"
she said, suddenly.

"I have been busy, of course."

"And worried?"

"Sometimes. But things are clearing up now."

She was studying him with the newly opened eyes of love. What was
it he showed that the other men she knew lacked? Sensitiveness?
Kindness? But her father was both sensitive and kind. So was Pink,
in less degree. In the end she answered her own question, and
aloud.

"I think it is patience," she said. And to his unspoken question:
"You are very patient, aren't you?"

"I never thought about it. For heaven's sake don't turn my mind
in on myself, Lily. I'll be running around in circles like a pup
chasing his tail."

He made a movement to leave, but she seemed oddly reluctant to let
him go.

"Do you know that father says you have more influence than any
other man in the city?"

"That's more kind than truthful."

"And - I think he and grandfather are planning to try to get you,
when the mills reopen. Father suggested it, but grandfather says
you'd have the presidency of the company in six months, and he'd be
sharpening your lead pencils."

Suddenly Willy Cameron laughed, and the tension was broken.

"If he did it with his tongue they'd be pretty sharp," he said.

For just a moment, before he left, they were back to where they
had been months ago, enjoying together their small jokes and their
small mishaps. The present fell away, with its hovering tragedy,
and they were boy and girl together. Exaltation and sacrifice were
a part of their love, as of all real and lasting passion, but there
was always between them also that soundest bond of all, liking and
comradeship.

"I love her. I like her. I adore her," was the cry in Willy
Cameron's heart when he started home that night.

CHAPTER XLIV

Elinor Doyle was up and about her room. She walked slowly and with
difficulty, using crutches, and she spent most of the time at her
window, watching and waiting. From Lily there came, at frequent
intervals, notes, flowers and small delicacies. The flowers and
food Olga brought to her, but the notes she never saw. She knew
they came. She could see the car stop at the curb, and the
chauffeur, his shoulders squared and his face watchful, carrying a
white envelope up the walk, but there it ended.

She felt more helpless than ever. The doctor came less often, but
the vigilance was never relaxed, and she had, too, less and less
hope of being able to give any warning. Doyle was seldom at home,
and when he was he had ceased to give her his taunting information.
She was quite sure now of his relations with the Russian girl, and
her uncertainty as to her course was gone. She was no longer his
wife. He held another woman in his rare embraces, a traitor like
himself. It was sordid. He was sordid.

Woslosky had developed blood poisoning, and was at the point of
death, with a stolid policeman on guard at his bedside. She knew
that from the newspapers she occasionally saw. And she connected
Doyle unerringly with the tragedy at the farm behind Friendship.
She recognized, too, since that failure, a change in his manner to
her. She saw that he now both hated her and feared her, and that
she had become only a burden and a menace to him. He might decide
to do away with her, to kill her. He would not do it himself; he
never did his own dirty work, but the Russian girl - Olga was in
love with Jim Doyle. Elinor knew that, as she knew many things,
by a sort of intuition. She watched them in the room together,
and she knew that to Doyle the girl was an incident, the vehicle
of his occasional passion, a strumpet and a tool. He did not
even like her; she saw him looking at her sometimes with a sort
of amused contempt. But Olga's somber eyes followed him as he
moved, lit with passion and sometimes with anger, but always they
followed him.

She was afraid of Olga. She did not care particularly about death,
but it must not come before she had learned enough to be able to
send out a warning. She thought if it came it might be by poison
in the food that was sent up, but she had to eat to live. She took
to eating only one thing on her tray, and she thought she detected
in the girl an understanding and a veiled derision.

By Doyle's increasing sullenness she knew things were not going
well with him, and she found a certain courage in that, but she
knew him too well to believe that he would give up easily. And
she drew certain deductions from the newspapers she studied so
tirelessly. She saw the announcement of the unusual number of
hunting licenses issued, for one thing, and she knew the cover that
such licenses furnished armed men patrolling the country. The
state permitted the sale of fire-arms without restriction. Other
states did the same, or demanded only the formality of a signature,
never verified.

Would they never wake to the situation?

She watched the election closely. She knew that if Akers were
elected the general strike and the chaos to follow would be held
back until he had taken office and made the necessary changes in
the city administration, but that if he went down to defeat the
Council would turn loose its impatient hordes at once.

She waited for election day with burning anxiety. When it came
it so happened that she was left alone all day in the house. Early
in the morning Olga brought her a tray and told her she was going
out. She was changed, the Russian; she had dropped the mask of
sodden servility and stood before her, erect, cunningly intelligent
and oddly powerful.

"I am going to be away all day, Mrs. Doyle," she said, in her
excellent English. "I have work to do."

"Work?" said Elinor. "Isn't there work to do here?"

"I am not a house-worker. I came to help Mr. Doyle. To-day I
shall make speeches."

Elinor was playing the game carefully. "But - can you make
speeches?" she asked.

"Me? That is my work, here, in Russia, everywhere. In Russia it
is the women who speak, the men who do what the women tell them to
do. Here some day it will be the same."

Always afterwards Elinor remembered the five minutes that followed,
for Olga, standing before her, suddenly burst into impassioned
oratory. She cited the wrongs of the poor under the old regime.
She painted in glowing colors the new. She was excited, hectic,
powerful. Elinor in her chair, an aristocrat to the finger-tips,
was frightened, interested, thrilled.

Long after Olga had gone she sat there, wondering at the real
conviction, the intensity of passion, of hate and of revenge that
actuated this newest tool of Doyle's. Doyle and his associates
might be actuated by self-interest, but the real danger in the
movement lay not with the Doyles of the world, but with these
fanatic liberators. They preached to the poor a new religion, not
of creed or of Church, but of freedom. Freedom without laws of
God or of man, freedom of love, of lust, of time, of all
responsibility. And the poor, weighted with laws and cares,
longed to throw off their burdens.

Perhaps it was not the doctrine itself that was wrong. It was its
imposition by force on a world not yet ready for it that was
wrong; its imposition by violence. It might come, but not this
way. Not, God preventing, this way.

There was a polling place across the street, in the basement of a
school house. The vote was heavy and all day men lounged on the
pavements, smoking and talking. Once she saw Olga in the crowd,
and later on Louis Akers drove up in an open automobile, handsome,
apparently confident, and greeted with cheers. But Elinor,
knowing him well, gained nothing from his face.

Late that night she heard Doyle come in and move about the lower
floor. She knew every emphasis of his walk, and when in the room
underneath she heard him settle down to steady, deliberate pacing,
she knew that he was facing some new situation, and, after his
custom, thinking it out alone.

At midnight he came up the stairs and unlocked her door. He
entered, closing the door behind him, and stood looking at her.
His face was so strange that she wondered if he had decided to do
away with her.

"To-morrow," he said, in an inflectionless voice, "you will be
moved by automobile to a farm I have selected in the country. You
will take only such small luggage as the car can carry."

"Is Olga going with me?"

"No. Olga is needed here."

"I suppose I am to understand from this that Louis has been defeated
and there is no longer any reason for delay in your plans."

"You can understand what you like."

"Am I to know where I am going?"

"You will find that out when you get there. I will tell you this:
It is a lonely place, without a telephone. You'll be cut off from
your family, I am afraid."

She gazed at him. It seemed unbelievable to her that she had once
lain in this man's arms.

"Why don't you kill me, Jim? I know you've thought about it."

"Yes, I've thought of it. But killing is a confession of fear, my
dear. I am not afraid of you."

"I think you are. You are afraid now to tell me when you are going
to try to put this wild plan into execution."

He smiled at her with mocking eyes.

"Yes," he agreed again. "I am afraid. You have a sort of
diabolical ingenuity, not intelligence so much as cunning. But
because I always do the thing I'm afraid to do, I'll tell you.
Of course, if you succeed in passing it on - " He shrugged his
shoulders. "Very well, then. With your usual logic of deduction,
you have guessed correctly. Louis Akers has been defeated. Your
family - and how strangely you are a Cardew! - lost its courage at
the last moment, and a gentleman named Hendricks is now setting
up imitation beer and cheap cigars to his friends."

Behind his mocking voice she knew the real fury of the man, kept
carefully in control by his iron will.

"As you have also correctly surmised," he went on, "there is now
nothing to be gained by any delay. A very few days, three or four,
and - " His voice grew hard and terrible - "the first stone in the
foundation of this capitalistic government will go. Inevitable law,
inevitable retribution - " His voice trailed off. He turned like
a man asleep and went toward the door. There he stopped and faced
her.

"I've told you," he said darkly. "I am not afraid of you. You can
no more stop this thing than you can stop living by ceasing to
breathe. It has come."

She heard him in his room for some time after that, and she surmised
from the way he moved, from closet to bed and back again, that he
was packing a bag. At two o'clock she heard Olga coming in; the
girl was singing in Russian, and Elinor had a sickening conviction
that she had been drinking. She heard Doyle send her off to bed,
his voice angry and disgusted, and resume his packing, and ten
minutes later she heard a car draw up on the street, and knew that
he was off, to begin the mobilization of his heterogeneous forces.

Ever since she had been able to leave her bed Elinor had been
formulating a plan of escape. Once the door had been left unlocked,
but her clothing had been removed from the room, and then, too, she
had not learned the thing she was waiting for. Now she had clothing,
a dark dressing gown and slippers, and she had the information. But
the door was securely locked.

She had often thought of the window, In the day time it frightened
her to look down, although it fascinated her, too. But at night it
seemed much simpler. The void below was concealed in the darkness,
a soft darkness that hid the hard, inhospitable earth. A darkness
one could fall into and onto.

She was not a brave woman. She had moral rather than physical
courage. It was easier for her to face Doyle in a black mood than
the gulf below the window-sill, but she knew now that she must get
away, if she were to go at all. She got out of bed, and using her
crutches carefully moved to the sill, trying to accustom herself
to the thought of going over the edge. The plaster cast on her
leg was a real handicap. She must get it over first. How heavy
it was, and
unwieldy!

She found her scissors, and, stripping the bed, sat down to cut
and tear the bedding into strips. Prisoners escaped that way; she
had read about such things. But the knots took up an amazing
amount of length. It was four o'clock in the morning when she had
a serviceable rope, and she knew it was too short. In the end she
tore down the window curtains and added them, working desperately
against time.

She began to suspect, too, that Olga was not sleeping. She smelled
faintly the odor of the long Russian cigarettes the girl smoked.
She put out her light and worked in the darkness, a strange figure
of adventure, this middle-aged woman with her smooth hair and
lined face, sitting in her cambric nightgown with her crutches on
the floor beside her.

She secured the end of the rope to the foot of her metal bed,
pushing the bed painfully and cautiously, inch by inch, to the
window. And in so doing she knocked over the call-bell on the
stand, and almost immediately she heard Olga moving about.

The girl was coming unsteadily toward the door. If she opened
it -

"I don't want anything, Olga," she called, "I knocked the bell
over accidentally."

Olga hesitated, muttered, moved away again. Elinor was covered
with a cold sweat.

She began to think of the window as a refuge. Surely nothing
outside could be so terrible as this house itself. The black
aperture seemed friendly; it beckoned to her with friendly hands.

She dropped her crutches. They fell with two soft thuds on the
earth below and it seemed to her that they were a long time in
falling. She listened after that, but Olga made no sign. Then
slowly and painfully she worked her injured leg over the sill,
and sat there looking down and breathing with difficulty. Then
she freed her dressing gown around her, and slid over the edge.

CHAPTER XLV

Election night found various groups in various places. In the back
room of the Eagle Pharmacy was gathered once again the neighborhood
forum, a wildly excited forum, which ever and anon pounded Mr.
Hendricks on the back, and drank round after round of soda water
and pop. Doctor Smalley, coming in rather late found them all there,
calling Mr. Hendricks "Mr. Mayor" or "Your Honor," reciting election
anecdotes, and prophesying the end of the Reds. Only Willy Cameron,
sitting on a table near the window, was silent.

Mr. Hendricks, called upon for a speech, rose with his soda water
glass in his hand.

"I've got a toast for you, boys," he said. "You've been talking
all evening about my winning this election. Well, I've been elected,
but I didn't win it. It was the plain people of this town who
elected me, and they did it because my young friend on the table
yonder told them to." He raised his glass. "Cameron!" he said.

"Cameron! Cameron!" shouted the crowd. "Speech! Cameron!"

But Willy shook his head.

"I haven't any voice left," he said, "and you've heard me say all
I know a dozen times. The plain truth is that Mr. Hendricks got
the election because he was the best man, and enough people knew
it. That's all."

To Mr. Hendricks the night was one of splendid solemnity. He felt
at once very strong and very weak, very proud and very humble. He
would do his best, and if honesty meant anything, the people would
have it, but he knew that honesty was not enough. The city needed
a strong man; he hoped that the Good Man who made cities as He
made men, both evil and good, would lend him a hand with things.
As prayer in his mind was indissolubly connected with church, he
made up his mind to go to church the next Sunday and get matters
straightened out.

At the same time another group was meeting at the Benedict.

Louis Akers had gone home early. By five o'clock he knew that the
chances were against him, but he felt a real lethargy as to the
outcome. He had fought, and fought hard, but it was only the
surface mind of him that struggled. Only the surface mind of him
hated, and had ambitions, dreamed revenge. Underneath that surface
mind was a sore that ate like a cancer, and that sore was his
desertion by Lily Cardew. For once in his life he suffered, who
had always inflicted pain.

At six o'clock Doyle had called him on the telephone and told him
that Woslosky was dead, but the death of the Pole had been
discounted in advance, and already his place had been filled by a
Russian agent, who had taken the first syllable of his name and
called himself Ross. Louis Akers heard the news apathetically,
and went back to his chair again.

By eight o'clock he knew that he had lost the election, but that,
too, seemed relatively unimportant. He was not thinking coherently,
but certain vague ideas floated through his mind. There was a law
of compensation in the universe: it was all rot to believe that
one was paid or punished in the hereafter for what one did. Hell
was real, but it was on earth and its place was in a man's mind.
He couldn't get away from it, because each man carried his own
hell around with him. It was all stored up there; nothing he had
done was left out, and the more he put into it the more he got
out, when the time came.

This was his time.

Ross and Doyle, with one or two others, found him there at nine
o'clock, an untasted meal on the table, and the ends of innumerable
cigarettes on the hearth. In the conference that followed he
took but little part. The Russian urged immediate action, and
Doyle by a saturnine silence tacitly agreed with him. But Louis
only half heard them. His mind was busy with that matter of hell.
Only once he looked up. Ross was making use of the phrase:
"Militant minority."

"Militant minority!" he said scornfully, "you overwork that idea,
Ross. What we've got here now is a militant majority, and that's
what elected Hendricks. You're licked before you begin. And my
advice is, don't begin."

But they laughed at him.

"You act like a whipped dog," Doyle said, "crawling under the
doorstep for fear somebody else with a strap comes along."

"They're organized against us. We could have put it over six
months ago. Not now."

"Then you'd better get out," Doyle said, shortly.

"I'm thinking of it."

But Doyle had no real fear of him. He was sulky. Well, let him
sulk.

Akers relapsed into silence. His interest in the conspiracy had
always been purely self-interest; he had never had Woslosky's
passion, or Doyle's cold fanaticism. They had carried him off
his feet with their promises, but how much were they worth? They
had failed to elect him. Every bit of brains, cunning and
resource in their organization had been behind him, and they had
failed.

This matter of hell, now? Suppose one put by something on the
other account? Suppose one turned square? Wouldn't that earn
something? Suppose that one went to the Cardews and put all his
cards on the table, asking nothing in return? Suppose one gave
up the by-paths of life, and love in a hedgerow, and did the
other thing? Wouldn't that earn something?

He roused himself and took a perfunctory part in the conversation,
but his mind obstinately returned to itself. He knew every
rendezvous of the Red element in the country; he knew where their
literature was printed; he knew the storehouses of arms and
ammunition, and the plans for carrying on the city government by
the strikers after the reign of terrorization which was to subdue
the citizens.

Suppose he turned informer? Could he set a price, and that price
Lily? But he discarded that. He was not selling now, he was
earning. He would set himself right first, and - provided the
government got the leaders before those leaders got him, as they
would surely try to do - he would have earned something, surely.

Lily had come to him once when he called. She might come again,
when he had earned her.

Doyle sat back in his chair and watched him. He saw that he had
gone to pieces under defeat, and men did strange things at those
times. With uncanny shrewdness he gauged Akers' reaction; his
loss of confidence and, he surmised, his loyalty. He would follow
his own interest now, and if he thought that it lay in turning
informer, he might try it. But it would take courage.

When the conference broke up Doyle was sure of where his man stood.
He was not worried. They did not need Akers any longer. He had
been a presentable tool, a lay figure to give the organization
front, and they had over-rated him, at that. He had failed them.
Doyle, watching him contemptuously, realized in him his own
fallacious judgment, and hated Akers for proving him wrong.

Outside the building Doyle drew the Russian aside, and spoke to
him. Ross started, then grinned.

"You're wrong," he said. "He won't try it. But of course he may,
and we'll see that he doesn't get away with it."

>From that time on Louis Akers was under espionage.

CHAPTER XLVI

DOCTOR Smalley was by way of achieving a practice. During his
morning and evening office hours he had less and less time to read
the papers and the current magazines in his little back office,
or to compare the month's earnings, visit by visit, with the same
month of the previous year.

He took to making his hospital rounds early in the morning, rather
to the outrage of various head nurses, who did not like the staff
to come a-visiting until every counterpane was drawn stiff and
smooth, every bed corner a geometrical angle, every patient washed
and combed and temperatured, and in the exact center of the bed.

Interns were different. They were like husbands. They came and
went, seeing things at their worst as well as at their best, but
mostly at their worst. Like husbands, too, they developed a sort
of philosophy as to the early morning, and would only make
occasional remarks, such as:

"Cyclone struck you this morning, or anything?"

Doctor Smalley, being a bachelor, was entirely blind to the early
morning deficiencies of his wards. Besides, he was young and had
had a cold shower and two eggs and various other things, and he
saw the world at eight A.M. as a good place. He would get into his
little car, whistling, and driving through the market square he
would sometimes stop and buy a bag of apples for the children's
ward, or a bunch of fall flowers. Thus armed, it was impossible
for the most austere of head nurses to hate him.

"We're not straightened up yet, doctor," they would say.

"Looks all right to me," he would reply cheerfully, and cast an
eager eye over the ward. To him they were all his children, large
and small, and if he did not exactly carry healing in his wings,
having no wings, he brought them courage and a breath of fresh
morning air, slightly tinged with bay rum, and the feeling that
this was a new day. A new page, on which to write such wonderful
things (in the order book) as: "Jennie may get up this afternoon."
Or: "Lizzie Smith, small piece of beef steak."

On the morning after the election Doctor Smalley rose unusually
early, and did five minutes of dumb bells, breathing very deep
before his window, having started the cold water in the tub first.
At the end of that time he padded in his bare feet to the top of
the stairs and called in a huge, deep-breathing voice:

"Ten minutes."

These two cryptic words seeming to be perfectly understood below,
followed the sound of a body plunging into water, a prolonged
"Wow!" from the bathroom, and noisy hurried splashing. Dressing
was a rapid process, due to a method learned during college days,
which consists of wearing as little as possible, and arranging it
at night so that two thrusts (trousers and under-drawers), one
enveloping gesture (shirt and under-shirt), and a gymnastic effort
of standing first on one leg and then on the other (socks and shoes),
made a fairly completed toilet.

While putting on his collar and tie the doctor stood again by the
window, and lustily called the garage across the narrow street.

"Jim!" he yelled. "Annabelle breakfasted yet?"

Annabelle was his shabby little car.

Annabelle had breakfasted, on gasoline, oil and water. The doctor
finished tying his tie, singing lustily, and went to the door.
At the door he stopped singing, put on a carefully professional
air, restrained an impulse to slide down the stairrail, and
descended with the dignity of a man with a growing practice and
a possible patient in the waiting-room.

At half-past seven he was on his way to the hospital. He stopped
at the market and bought three dozen oranges out of a ten-dollar
bill he had won on the election, and almost bought a live rabbit
because it looked so dreary in its slatted box. He restrained
himself, because his housekeeper had a weakness for stewed rabbit,
and turned into Cardew Way. He passed the Doyle house slowly,
inspecting it as he went, because he had a patient there, and
because he had felt that there was something mysterious about the
household, quite aside from the saturnine Doyle himself. He
knew all about Doyle, of course; all, that is, that there was to
know, but he was a newcomer to the city, and he did not know that
Doyle's wife was a Cardew. Sometimes he had felt that he was under
a sort of espionage all the time he was in the house. But that
was ridiculous, wasn't it? Because they could not know that he
was on the Vigilance Committee.

There was something curious about one of the windows. He slowed
Annabelle and gazed at it. That was strange; there was a sort of
white rope hanging from Mrs. Doyle's window.

He stopped Annabelle and stared. Then he drew up to the curb and
got out of the car. He was rather uneasy when he opened the gate
and started up the walk, but there was no movement of life in the
house. At the foot of the steps he saw something, and almost
stopped breathing. Behind a clump of winter-bare shrubbery was
what looked like a dark huddle of clothing.

It was incredible.

He parted the branches and saw Elinor Doyle lying there, conscious
and white with pain. Perhaps never in his life was Doctor Smalley
to be so rewarded as with the look in her eyes when she saw him.

"Why, Mrs. Doyle!" was all he could think to say.

"I have broken my other leg, doctor," she said, "the rope gave way."

"You come down that rope?"

"I tried to. I was a prisoner. Don't take me back to the house,
doctor. Don't take me back!"

"Of course I'll not take you back," he said, soothingly. "I'll
carry you out to my car. It may hurt, but try to be quiet. Can
you get your arms around my neck?"

She managed that, and he raised her slowly, but the pain must have
been frightful, for a moment later he felt her arms relax and knew
that she had fainted. He got to the car somehow, kicked the oranges
into the gutter, and placed her, collapsed, on the seat. It was
only then that he dared to look behind him, but the house, like the
street, was without signs of life. As he turned the next corner,
however, he saw Doyle getting off a streetcar, and probably never
before had Annabelle made such speed as she did for the next six
blocks

Hours later Elinor Cardew wakened in a quiet room with gray walls,
and with the sickening sweet odor of ether over everything. Instead
of Olga a quiet nurse sat by her bed, and standing by a window, in
low-voiced conversation, were two men. One she knew, the doctor.
The other, a tall young man with a slight limp as he came toward
her, she had never seen before. A friendly young man, thin, and
grave of voice, who put a hand over hers and said:

"You are not to worry about anything, Mrs. Doyle. You understand
me, don't you? Everything. is all right. I am going now to get
your people."

"My husband?"

"Your own people," he said. "I have already telephoned to your
brother. And the leg's fixed. Everything's as right as rain.

Elinor closed her eyes. She felt no pain and no curiosity. Only
there was something she had to do, and do quickly. What was it?
But she could not remember, because she felt very sleepy and
relaxed, and as though everything was indeed as right as rain.

It was evening when she looked up again, and the room was dark.
The doctor had gone, and the grave young man was still in the
room. There was another figure there, tall and straight, and
at first she thought it was Jim Doyle.

"Jim!" she said. And then: "You must go away, Jim. I warn you.
I am going to tell all I know."

But the figure turned, and it was Howard Cardew, a tense and
strained Howard Cardew, who loomed amazingly tall and angry,
but not with her.

"I'm sorry, Nellie dear," he said, bending over her. "If we'd
only known - can you talk now?"

Her mind was suddenly very clear.

"I must. There is very little time."

"I want to tell you something first, Nellie. I think we have
located the Russian woman, but we haven't got Doyle."

Howard was not very subtle, but Willy Cameron saw her face and
understood. It was strange beyond belief, he felt, this loyalty
of women to their men, even after love had gone; this feeling that,
having once lain in a man's arms, they have taken a vow of
protection over that man. It was not so much that they were his
as that he was theirs. Jim Doyle had made her a prisoner, had
treated her brutally, was a traitor to her and to his country,
but - he had been hers. She was glad that he had got away.

CHAPTER XLVII

It was dark when Howard Cardew and Willy Cameron left the hospital.
Elinor's information had been detailed and exact. Under cover of
the general strike the radical element intended to take over the
city. On the evening of the first day of the strike, armed groups
from the revolutionary party would proceed first to the municipal
light plant, and, having driven out any employees who remained at
their posts, or such volunteers as had replaced them, would plunge
the city into darkness.

Elinor was convinced that following this would come various bomb
outrages, perhaps a great number of them, but of this she had no
detailed information. What she did know, however, was the dependence
that Doyle and the other leaders were placing in the foreign element
in the nearby mill towns and from one or two mining districts in
the county.

Around the city, in the mill towns, there were more than forty
thousand foreign laborers. Subtract from that the loyal aliens,
but add a certain percentage of the native-born element, members
of seditious societies and followers of the red flag, and the Reds
had a potential army of dangerous size.

As an actual fighting force they were much less impressive. Only
a small percentage, she knew and told them, were adequately armed.
There were a few machine guns, and some long-range rifles, but by
far the greater number had only revolvers. The remainder had
extemporized weapons, bars of iron, pieces of pipe, farm implements,
lances of wood tipped with iron and beaten out on home forges.

They were a rabble, not an army, without organization and with few
leaders. Their fighting was certain to be as individualistic as
their doctrines. They had two elements in their favor only,
numbers and surprise.

To oppose them, if the worst came, there were perhaps five thousand
armed men, including the city and county police, the state
constabulary, and the citizens who had signed the cards of the
Vigilance Committee. The local post of the American Legion stood
ready for instant service, and a few national guard troops still
remained in the vicinity. "What they expect," she said, looking
up from her pillows with tragic eyes, "is that the police and the
troops will join them. You don't think they will, do you?"

They reassured her, and after a time she slept again. When she
wakened, at midnight, the room was empty save for a nurse reading
under a night lamp behind a screen. Elinor was not in pain. She
lay there, listening to the night sounds of the hospital, the
watchman shuffling along the corridor in slippers, the closing of
a window, the wail of a newborn infant far away.

There was a shuffling of feet in the street below, the sound of
many men, not marching but grimly walking, bent on some unknown
errand. The nurse opened the window and looked out.

"That's queer!" she said. "About thirty men, and not saying a word.
They walk like soldiers, but they're not in uniform."

Elinor pondered that, but it was not for some days that she knew
that Pink Denslow and a picked number of volunteers from the
American Legion had that night, quite silently and unemotionally,
broken into the printing office where Doyle and Akers had met
Cusick, and had, not so silently but still unemotionally, destroyed
the presses and about a ton of inflammatory pamphlets.

CHAPTER XLVIII

There was a little city, and few men within it; And there came a
great king against it, and besieged it, And built great bulwarks
against it; Now there was found in it a Poor Wise Man, And he by
his wisdom delivered the city. - Ecclesiastes IX :14, 15.

The general strike occurred two days later, at mid-day. During the
interval a joint committee representing the workers, the employers
and the public had held a protracted sitting, but without result,
and by one o'clock the city was in the throes of a complete tie-up.
Laundry and delivery wagons were abandoned where they stood. Some
of the street cars had been returned to the barns, but others stood
in the street where the crews had deserted them.

There was no disorder, however, and the city took its difficulties
with a quiet patience and a certain sense of humor. Bulletins
similar to the ones used in Seattle began to appear.

"Strikers, the world is the workers' for the taking, and the workers
are the vast majority in society. Your interests are paramount to
those of a small, useless band of parasites who exploit you to their
advantage. You have nothing to lose but your chains and you have a
world to gain. The world for the workers."

There was one ray of light in the darkness, however. The municipal
employees had refused to strike, and only by force would the city go
dark that night. It was a blow to the conspirators. In the strange
psychology of the mob, darkness was an essential to violence, and
by three o'clock that afternoon the light plant and city water supply
had been secured against attack by effectual policing. The power
plant for the car lines was likewise protected, and at five o'clock
a line of street cars, stalled on Amanda Street, began to show signs
of life.

The first car was boarded by a half dozen youngish men, unobtrusively
ready for trouble, and headed by a tall youth who limped slightly
and wore an extremely anxious expression. He went forward and
commenced a series of experiments with levers and brake, in which
process incidentally he liberated a quantity of sand onto the rails.
A moment later the car lurched forward, and then stopped with a jerk.

Willy Cameron looked behind him and grinned. The entire guard was
piled in an ignoble mass on the floor.

By six o'clock volunteer crews were running a number of cars, and
had been subjected to nothing worse than abuse. Strikers lined the
streets and watched them, but the grim faces of the guards kept
them back. They jeered from the curbs, but except for the flinging
of an occasional stone they made no inimical move.

By eight o'clock it was clear that the tie-up would be only partial.
Volunteers from all walks of life were in line at the temporary
headquarters of the Vigilance Committee and were being detailed, for
police duty, to bring in the trains with the morning milk, to move
street cars and trucks. The water plant and the reservoirs were
protected. Willy Cameron, abandoning his car after the homeward
rush of the evening, found a line before the Committee Building
which extended for blocks down the street.

Troops had been sent for, but it took time to mobilize and move them.
It would be morning before they arrived. And the governor, over the
long distance wire to the mayor, was inclined to be querulous.

"We'll send them, of course," he said. "But if the strikers are
keeping quiet - I don't know what the country's coming to. We're
holding a conference here now. There's rioting breaking out all
over the state."

* * * * *

There was a conference held in the Mayor's office that night:
Cameron and Cardew and one or two others of the Vigilance Committee,
two agents of the government secret service, the captains of the
companies of state troops and constabulary, the Chief of Police,
the Mayor himself, and some representatives of the conservative
element of organized labor. Quiet men, these last, uneasy and
anxious, as ignorant as the others of which way the black cat, the
symbol of sabotage and destruction, would jump. The majority of
their men would stand for order, they declared, but there were some
who would go over. They urged, to offset that reflection on their
organization that the proletariat of the city might go over, too.

But, by midnight, it seemed as though the situation was solving
itself. In the segregated district there had been a small riot,
and another along the river front, disturbances quickly ended by
the police and the volunteer deputies. The city had not gone dark.
The bombs had not exploded. Word came in that by back roads and
devious paths the most rabid of the agitators were leaving town.
And before two o'clock Howard Cardew and some of the others went
home to bed.

At three o'clock the Cardew doorbell rang, and Howard, not asleep,
flung on his dressing gown and went out into the hall. Lily was
in her doorway, intent and anxious.

"Don't answer it, father," she begged. "You don't know what it
may be."

Howard smiled, but went back and got his revolver. The visitor
was Willy Cameron.

"I don't like to waken you," he said, "but word has come in of
suspicious movements at Baxter and Friendship, and one or two other
places. It looks like concerted action of some sort."

"What sort of concerted action?"

"They still have one card to play. The foreign element outside
hasn't been heard from. It looks as though the fellows who left
town to-night have been getting busy up the river.

"They wouldn't be such fools as to come to the city."

"They've been made a lot of promises. They may be out of hand,
you know."

While Howard was hastily dressing, Willy Cameron waited below. He
caught a glimpse of himself in the big mirror and looked away. His
face was drawn and haggard, his eyes hollow and his collar a wilted
string. He was dusty and shabby, too, and to Lily, coming down
the staircase, he looked almost ill.

Lily was in a soft negligee garment, her bare feet thrust into
slippers, but she was too anxious to be self-conscious.

"Willy," she said, "there is trouble after all?"

"Not in the city. Things are not so quiet up the river.

She placed a hand on his arm.

"Are you and father going up the river?"

He explained, after a momentary hesitation. "It may crystallize
into something, or it may not," he finished.

"You think it will, don't you?"

"It will be nothing more, at the worst, than rioting."

"But you may be hurt!"

"I may have one chance to fight for my country," he said, rather
grimly. "Don't begrudge me that." But he added: "I'll not be hurt.
The thing will blow up as soon as it starts."

"You don't really believe that, do you?"

"I know they'll never get into the city."

But as he moved away she called him back, more breathlessly than
ever, and quite white.

"I don't want you to go without knowing - Willy, do you remember
once that you said you cared for me?"

"I remember." He stared straight ahead.

"Are you - all over that?"

"You know better than that, don't you?"

"But I've done so many things," she said, wistfully. "You ought
to hate me." And when he said nothing, for the simple reason that
he could not speak: "I've ruined us both, haven't I?"

Suddenly he caught up her hand and, bending over it, held it to
his lips.

"Always," he said, huskily, "I love you, Lily. I shall always love
you."

CHAPTER XLIX

Howard went back to the municipal building, driving furiously
through the empty streets. The news was ominous. Small bodies of
men, avoiding the highways, were focusing at different points in
the open country. The state police had been fired at from ambush,
and two of them had been killed. They had ridden into and dispersed
various gatherings in the darkness, but only to have them re-form in
other places. The enemy was still shadowy, elusive; it was
apparently saving its ammunition. It did little shooting, but
reports of the firing of farmhouses and of buildings in small,
unprotected towns began to come in rapidly.

In a short time the messages began to be more significant, indicating
that the groups were coalescing and that a revolutionary army, with
the city its objective, was coming down the river, evidently making
for the bridge at Chester Street.

"They've lighted a fire they can't put out," was Howard's comment.
His mouth was very dry and his face twitching, for he saw, behind
the frail barrier of the Chester Street bridge, the quiet houses of
the city, the sleeping children. He saw Grace and Lily, and Elinor.
He was among the first to reach the river front.

All through the dawn volunteers labored at the bridge head. Members
of the Vigilance Committee, policemen and firemen, doctors, lawyers,
clerks, shop-keepers, they looted the river wharves with willing,
unskillful hands. They turned coal wagons on their sides, carried
packing cases and boxes, and, under the direction of men who wore the
Legion button, built skillfully and well. Willy Cameron toiled with
the others. He lifted and pulled and struggled, and in the midst of
his labor he had again that old dream of the city. The city was a
vast number of units, and those units were homes. Behind each of
those men there was, somewhere, in some quiet neighborhood, a home.
It was for their homes they were fighting, for the right of children
to play in peaceful streets, for the right to go back at night to
the rest they had earned by honest labor, for the right of the
hearth, of lamp-light and sunlight, of love, of happiness.

Then, in the flare of a gasoline torch, he came face to face with
Louis Akers. The two men confronted each other, silently, with
hostility. Neither moved aside, but it was Akers who spoke first.

"Always busy, Cameron," he said. "What'd the world do without
you, anyhow?"

"Aren't you on the wrong side of this barricade?"

"Smart as ever," Akers observed, watching him intently. "As it
happens, I'm here because I want to be, and because I can't get
where I ought to be."

For a furious moment Willy Cameron thought he was referring to his
wife, but there was something strange in Akers' tone.

"I could be useful to you fellows," he was saying, "but it seems
you don't want help. I've been trying to see the Mayor all night."

"What do you want to see him about?"

"I'll tell him that."

Willy Cameron hesitated.

"I think it's a trick, Akers."

"All right. Then go to the devil!"

He turned away sullenly, leaving Willy Cameron still undecided. It
would be like the man as he knew him, this turning informer when he
saw the strength of the defense, and Cameron had a flash of
intuition, too, that Akers might see, in this new role, some possible
chance to win back with Lily Cardew. He saw how the man's cheap soul
might dramatize itself.

"Akers!" he called.

Akers stopped, but he did not turn.

"I've got a car here. If you mean what you say, and it's straight,
I'll take you."

"Where's the car?"

On their way to it, threading in and out among the toiling crowd,
Willy Cameron had a chance to observe the change in the other man,
his drooping shoulders and the almost lassitude of his walk. He
went ahead, charging the mass and going through it by sheer bulk
and weight, his hands in his coat pockets, his soft hat pulled
low over his face. Neither of them noticed that one of the former
clerks of the Myers Housecleaning Company followed close behind,
or that, holding to a tire, he rode on the rear of the Cardew
automobile as it made its way into the center of the city.

In the car Akers spoke only once.

"Where is Howard Cardew?" he asked.

"With the Mayor, probably. I left him there."

It seemed to him that Akers found the answer satisfactory. He sat
back in the deep seat, and lighted a cigarette.

The Municipal Building was under guard. Willy Cameron went up the
steps and spoke to the sentry there. It was while his back was
turned that the sharp crack of a revolver rang out, and he whirled,
in time to see Louis Akers fall forward on his face and lie still.

* * * * *

The shadowy groups through the countryside had commenced to coalesce.
Groups of twenty became a rabble of five hundred. The five hundred
grew, and joined other five hundreds. From Baxter alone over two
thousand rioters, mostly foreigners, started out, and by daylight
the main body of the enemy reached the outskirts of the city, a long,
irregular line of laughing, jostling, shouting men, constantly
renewed at the rear until the procession covered miles of roadway.
They were of all races and all types; individually they were, many
of them, like boys playing truant from school, not quite certain of
themselves, smiling and yet uneasy, not entirely wicked in intent.
But they were shepherded by men with cunning eyes, men who knew
well that a mob is greater than the sum of its parts, more wicked
than the individuals who compose it, more cruel, more courageous.

As it marched it laughed. It was like a lion at play, ready to
leap at the first scratch that brought blood.

Where the street car line met the Friendship Road the advance was
met by the Chief of Police, on horseback and followed by a guard of
mounted men, and ordered back. The van hesitated, but it was urged
ahead, pushed on by the irresistible force behind it, and it came
on no longer singing, but slowly, inevitably, sullenly protesting
and muttering. Its good nature was gone.

As the Chief turned his horse was shot under him. He took another
horse from one of his guard, and they retired, moving slowly and
with drawn revolvers. There was no further shooting at that time,
nothing but the irresistible advance. The police could no more
have held the armed rabble than they could have held the invading
hordes in Belgium. At the end of the street the Chief stopped and
looked back. They had passed over his dead horse as though it
were not there.

In the mill district, which they had now reached, they received
reenforcements, justifying the judgment of the conference that to
have erected their barricades there would have been to expose the
city's defenders to attack from the rear. And the mill district
suffered comparatively little. It was the business portion of the
city toward which they turned their covetous eyes, the great stores,
the hotels and restaurants, the homes of the wealthy.

Pleased by the lack of opposition the mob grew more cheerful. The
lion played. They pressed forward, wanton and jeering, firing
now and then at random, breaking windows as they passed, looting
small shops which they stripped like locusts. Their pockets
bulging, and the taste of pillage forecasting what was to come,
they moved onward more rapidly, shooting at upper windows or into
the air, laughing, yelling, cursing, talking. From the barricades,
long before the miles-long column came into view, could be heard
the ominous far-off muttering of the mob.

It was when they found the bridge barricaded on the far side,
however, that the lion bared its teeth and snarled. Temporarily
checked by the play of machine guns which swept the bridge and
kept it clear for a time, they commenced wild, wasteful firing,
from the bridge-head and from along the Cardew wharves. Their
leaders were prepared, and sent snipers into the bridge towers,
but the machine guns continued to fire.

That the struggle would be on the bridge Doyle and his Council
had anticipated from the reports of the night before. They were
prepared to take a heavy loss on the bridges, but they had not
prepared for the thing that defeated them; that as the mob is
braver than the individual, so also it is more cowardly.

Pushed forward from the rear and unable to retreat through the
dense mass behind that was every moment growing denser, a few
hundreds found themselves facing the steady machine-gun fire
from behind the barricades, and unable either to advance or to
retire. Thus trapped, they turned on their own forces behind
them, and tried to fight their way to safety, but the inexorable
pressure kept on, and the defenders, watching and powerless, saw
men fling themselves from the bridges and disappear in the water
below, rather than advance into the machine-gun zone. The guns
were not firing into the rioters, but before them, to hold them
back, and into that leaden stream there were no brave spirits
to hurl themselves.

The trapped men turned on their own and battled for escape. With
the same violence which had been directed toward the city they now
fought each other, and the bridge slowly cleared. But the mob did
not disperse.

It spread out on the bank across, a howling, frustrated, futile
mass, disorganized and demoralized, which fired its useless guns
across the river, which seethed and tossed and struggled, and
spent itself in its own wild fury. And all the time cool-eyed men,
on the wharves across, watched and waited for the time to attack.

"They're sick at their stomachs now," said an old army sergeant,
watching, to Willy Cameron. "The dirty devils! They'll be starting
their filthy work over there soon, and that's the zero hour."

Willy Cameron nodded. He had seen one young Russian boy with a
child-like face venture forward alone into the fire zone and drop.
He still lay there, on the bridge. And all of Willy Cameron was in
revolt. What had he been told, that boy, that had made him ready
to pour out his young life like wine? There were others like him
in that milling multitude on the river bank across, young men who
had come to America with a dream in their hearts, and America had
done this to them. Or had she? She had taken them in, but they
were not her own, and now, since she would not take them, they
would take her. Was that it? Was it that America had made them
her servants, but not her children? He did not know.

* * * * *

Robbed of the city proper, the mob turned on the mill district it
had invaded. Its dream of lust and greed was over, but it could
still destroy.

Like a battle charge, as indeed it was, the mounted city and state
police crossed the bridge. It was followed by the state troops on
foot, by city policemen in orderly files, and then by the armed
citizens. The bridge vibrated to the step of marching men, going
out to fight for their homes. The real battle was fought there,
around the Cardew mills, a battle where the loyalists were greatly
outnumbered, and where the rioters fought, according to their
teaching, with every trick they could devise. Posted in upper
windows they fired down from comparative safety; ambulances crossed
and re-crossed the bridges. The streets were filled with rioting
men, striking out murderously with bars and spikes. Fires flamed
up and burned themselves out. In one place, eight blocks of
mill-workers' houses, with their furnishings, went in a quarter
of an hour.

Willy Cameron was fighting like a demon. Long ago his reserve of
ammunition had given out, and he was fighting with the butt end of
his revolver. Around him had rallied some of the men he knew best,
Pink and Mr. Hendricks, Doctor Smalley, Dan and Joe Wilkinson, and
they stayed together as, street by street, the revolutionists were
driven back. There were dead and wounded everywhere, injured men
who had crawled into the shelter of doorways and sat or lay there,
nursing their wounds.

Suddenly, to his amazement, Willy saw old Anthony Cardew. He had
somehow achieved an upper window of the mill office building, and
he was showing himself fearlessly, a rifle in his hands; in his
face was a great anger, but there was more than that. Willy Cameron,
thinking it over later, decided that it was perplexity. He could
not understand.

He never did understand. For other eyes also had seen old Anthony
Cardew. Willy Cameron, breasting the mob and fighting madly toward
the door of the building, with Pink behind him, heard a cheer and
an angry roar, and, looking up, saw that the old man had disappeared.
They found him there later on, the rifle beside him, his small and
valiant figure looking, with eyes no longer defiant, toward the
Heaven which puts, for its own strange purpose, both evil and good
into the same heart.

By eleven o'clock the revolution was over. Sodden groups of men,
thoroughly cowed and frightened, were on their way by back roads to
the places they had left a few hours before. They had no longer
dreams of empire. Behind them they could see, on the horizon, the
city itself, the smoke from its chimneys, the spires of its churches.
Both, homes and churches, they had meant to destroy, but behind both
there was the indestructible. They had failed.

They turned, looked back, and went on.

* * * * *

On the crest of a hill-top overlooking the city a man was standing,
looking down to where the softened towers of the great steel bridges
rose above the river mist like fairy towers. Below him lay the city,
powerful, significant, important.

The man saw the city only as a vast crucible, into which he had
flung his all, and out of which had come only defeat and failure.
But the city was not a crucible. The melting pot of a nation is not
a thing of cities, but of the human soul.

The city was not a melting pot. It was a sanctuary. The man stood
silent and morose, his chin dropped on his chest, and stared down.

Beside and somewhat behind him stood a woman, a somber, passionate
figure, waiting passively. His eyes traveled from the city to her,
and rested on her, contemptuous, thwarted, cynical.

"You fool," he said, "I hate you, and you know it."

But she only smiled faintly. "We'd better get away now, Jim," she
said.

He got into the car.

CHAPTER L

Late that afternoon Joe Wilkinson and Dan came slowly up the street,
toward the Boyd house. The light of battle was still in Dan's eyes,
his clothes were torn and his collar missing, and he walked with
the fine swagger of the conqueror.

"Y'ask me," he said, "and I'll tell the world this thing's done for.
It was just as well to let them give it a try, and find out it won't
work."

Joe said nothing. He was white and very tired, and a little sick.

"If you don't mind I'll go in your place and wash up," he remarked,
as they neared the house. "I'll scare the kids to death if they
see me like this."

Edith was in the parlor. She had sat there almost all day, in an
agony of fear. At four o'clock the smallest Wilkinson had hammered
at the front door, and on being admitted had made a shameless demand.

"Bed and thugar," she had said, looking up with an ingratiating
smile.

"You little beggar!"

"Bed and thugar."

Edith had got the bread and sugar, and, having lured the baby into
the parlor, had held her while she ate, receiving now and then an
exceedingly sticky kiss in payment. After a little the child's head
began to droop, and Edith drew the small head down onto her breast.
She sat there, rocking gently, while the chair slowly traveled,
according to its wont, about the room.

The child brought her comfort. She began to understand those grave
rocking figures in the hospital ward, women who sat, with eyes that
seemed to look into distant places, with a child's head on their
breasts.

After all, that was life for a woman. Love was only a part of the
scheme of life, a means to an end. And that end was the child.

For the first time she wished that her child had lived.

She felt no bitterness now, and no anger. He was dead. It was hard
to think of him as dead, who had been so vitally alive. She was
sorry he had had to die, but death was like love and children, it
was a part of some general scheme of things. Suppose this had been
his child she was holding? Would she so easily have forgiven him?
She did not know.

Then she thought of Willy Cameron. The bitterness had strangely
gone out of that, too. Perhaps, vaguely, she began to realize that
only young love gives itself passionately and desperately, when
there is no hope of a return, and that the agonies of youth,
although terrible enough, pass with youth itself.

She felt very old.

Joe found her there, the chair displaying its usual tendency to
climb the chimney flue, and stood in the doorway, looking at her
with haunted, hungry eyes. There was a sort of despair in Joe those
days, and now he was tired and shaken from the battle.

"I'll take her home in a minute," he said, still with the strange
eyes!"

He came into the room, and suddenly he was kneeling beside the chair,
his head buried against the baby's warm, round body. His bent
shoulders shook, and Edith, still with the maternal impulse strong
within her, put her hand on his bowed head.

"Don't, Joe!"

He looked up.

"I loved you so, Edith!"

"Don't you love me now?"

"God knows I do. I can't get over it. I can't. I've tried, Edith."

He sat back on the floor and looked at her.

"I can't," he repeated. "And when I saw you like that just now,
with the kid in your arms - I used to think that maybe you and I - "

"I know, Joe. No decent man would want me now."

She was still strangely composed, peaceful, almost detached.

"That!" he said, astonished. "I don't mean that, Edith. I've had
my fight about that, and got it over. That's done with. I mean - "
he got up and straightened himself. "You don't care about me."

"But I do care for you. Perhaps not quite the way you care, Joe but
I've been through such a lot. I can't seem to feel anything terribly.
I just want peace."

"I could give you that," he said eagerly.

Edith smiled. Peace, in that noisy house next door, with children
and kittens and puppies everywhere! And yet it would be peace,
after all, a peace of the soul, the peace of a good man's love.
After a time, too, there might come another peace, the peace of
those tired women in the ward, rocking.

"If you want me, I'll marry you," she said, very simply. "I'll be
a good wife, Joe. And I want children. I want the right to have
them."

He never noticed that the kiss she gave him, over the sleeping baby,
was slightly tinged with granulated sugar.

CHAPTER LI

OLD Anthony's body had been brought home, and lay in state in his
great bed. There had been a bad hour; death seems so strangely to
erase faults and leave virtues. Something strong and vital had gone
from the house, and the servants moved about with cautious, noiseless
steps. In Grace's boudoir, Howard was sitting, his arms around his
wife, telling her the story of the day. At dawn he had notified
her by telephone of Akers' murder.

"Shall I tell Lily?" she had asked, trembling.

"Do you want to wait until I get back?"

"I don't know how she will take it, Howard. I wish you could be
here, anyhow."

But then had come the battle and his father's death, and in the end
it was Willy Cameron who told her. He had brought back all that was
mortal of Anthony Cardew, and, having seen the melancholy procession
up the stairs, had stood in the hall, hating to intrude but hoping
to be useful. Howard found him there, a strange, disheveled figure,
bearing the scars of battle, and held out his hand.

"It's hard to thank you, Cameron," he said; "you seem to be always
about when we need help. And" he paused. "We seem to have needed
it considerably lately."

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