Part 3 out of 4
"That is a poor excuse. If you had waited Lucy would have proved her
"They threatened to arrest her, sir. It would have killed her."
"They wouldn't dare arrest her on suspicion."
"The Squierses would dare do anything. You don't know old Mrs. Squiers."
"I know the law, sir, and in any event it was a foolish thing, as well
as criminal, to forge a check to get the money they demanded."
"You are right, sir," replied Tom Gates, despondently. "It was foolish
and criminal. I wouldn't mind my own punishment, but it drove my Lucy
"See here," said Kenneth, sternly, "you are getting morbid, young man,
and pretty soon you'll be mad yourself. If Lucy is found do you want her
to see you in this condition?"
"Can she be found, sir, do you think?"
"We are trying to find her," replied Kenneth. "You have failed, it
seems, and Will Rogers had failed. I've had one of the cleverest
detectives of Chicago trying to find her for the last three days."
"Oh, Kenneth!" exclaimed Beth. "I didn't know that. How good of you!"
"It must have been the detective that came to see Mrs. Rogers," said
Tom, musingly. "She told me a strange man had been there from Mr.
Forbes, to inquire all about Lucy."
"Yes; he makes a report to me every evening," remarked Kenneth; "and Mr.
Burke says this is the most mystifying case he has ever encountered. So
far there isn't a clew to follow. But you may rest assured that what any
man can do, Burke will do."
"I'm so grateful, sir!" said Tom.
"Then you must show it by being a man, and not by giving way to your
trouble in this foolish manner."
"I'll try, sir, now that there's something to hope for."
"There's a good deal to hope for. Despair won't help you. You must go to
"I will. It won't be very easy to get work, for I've disgraced myself in
this neighborhood, and I can't leave here till something is known of
Lucy's fate. But I'll do something--any kind of work--if I can get it."
"I need someone to assist me in my correspondence," said Kenneth. "Would
you like to be my secretary?"
"Me, Mr. Forbes--me!"
"Yes, Tom. I'll pay you twenty dollars a week to start with, and more if
you serve me faithfully. And you'll board here, of course."
Then Tom Gates broke down and began to cry like a child, although he
tried hard to control himself.
"You--you must forgive me, Mr. Forbes," he said, penitently; "I--I've
been without sleep for so long that I haven't any nerves left."
"Then you must go to sleep now, and get a good rest." He turned to Beth.
"Will you see Martha," he asked, "and have her give Tom Gates a room?"
She went on her errand at once, and gradually the young man recovered
"I can do typewriting and stenography, Mr. Forbes," he said, "and I can
keep accounts. I'll serve you faithfully, sir."
"We'll talk of all this by and by, Tom," replied Kenneth, kindly. "Just
now you must have some sleep and get your strength back. And don't worry
about Lucy. Burke will do everything that can be done, and I am
confident he will be able to trace the girl in time."
"Thank you, sir."
Then he followed the butler away to his room, and after the girls had
discussed him and expressed their sympathy for the unfortunate fellow,
they all turned their attention to the important matter of the campaign.
The debate with Hopkins was the thing that occupied them just now, and
when Patsy joined the group of workers they began to discuss some means
of scoring a decisive victory at the Fairview Opera House. The Honorable
Erastus still insisted upon making the anti-sign fight the prominent
issue of the campaign, and they must reply forcibly to the misleading
statements made in his last hand-bill.
Meantime Tom Gates was sunk in the deep sleep of physical exhaustion,
and the day wore away before he wakened. When at last he regained
consciousness he found the sun sinking in the west and feared he had
been guilty of indiscretion. He remembered that he was Mr. Forbes's
secretary now, and that Mr. Forbes might want him. He was not yet
thoroughly rested, but night was approaching and he reflected that he
could obtain all the sleep that he needed then.
So, greatly refreshed, and in a quieter mood than he had been for days,
the young man dressed and entered the hall to find his way downstairs.
It happened that Beth, whose room was near this rear corridor, had just
gone there to dress for dinner, and as she was closing her door she
heard a wild, impassioned cry:
Quickly she sprang out into the hall and turned the corner in time to
see a strange tableau.
Young Gates was standing with his arms outstretched toward Eliza
Parsons, who, a few paces away, had her back to the door of her own
chamber, from which she had evidently just stepped. She stood
motionless, looking curiously at the youth who confronted her.
"Lucy! don't you know me?" he asked, his voice trembling with emotion.
"To begin with," said the girl, composedly, "my name happens to be
Eliza. And as we've not been properly introduced I really don't see why
I should know you," she added, with a light laugh.
Tom Gates shrank away from her as if he had been struck.
"You can't be Lucy!" he murmured. "And yet--and yet--oh, you _must_ be
Lucy! You must know me! Look at me, dear--I'm Tom. I'm your own Tom,
"It's very gratifying, I'm sure, young man," said the girl, a touch of
scorn in her tones. "If you're my own Tom you'll perhaps stand out of my
way and let me go to my work."
Without another word he backed up again; the wall and permitted her to
sweep by him, which she did with a gesture of disdain.
When Eliza Parsons had disappeared down the back stairs Beth drew a long
breath and approached Tom Gates, who still stood by the wall staring at
the place where the girl had disappeared.
"I overheard," said Beth. "Tell me, Tom, is she really like Lucy?"
He looked at her with a dazed expression, as if he scarcely comprehended
"Could you have been mistaken?" persisted the questioner.
He passed his hand over his eyes and gave a shudder.
"Either it was Lucy or her ghost," he muttered.
"Eliza Parsons is no ghost," declared Beth. "She's one of the maids here
at Elmhurst, and you're quite likely to see her again."
"Has she been here long?" he asked, eagerly.
"No; only a few days."
"When I first saw her I was struck by her resemblance to Mrs. Rogers,"
continued the girl.
"But she's so different," said Tom, choking back a sob. "Lucy couldn't
be so--so airy, so heartless. She isn't at all that style of a girl,
"She may be acting," suggested Beth.
But he shook his head gloomily.
"No; Lucy couldn't act that way. She's quick and impulsive, but she--she
couldn't act. And she wouldn't treat me that way, either, Miss Beth.
Lucy and I have been sweethearts for years, and I know every expression
of her dear face. But the look that this girl gave me was one that my
Lucy never could assume. I must have been mistaken. I--I'm sure I was
Beth sighed. She was disappointed.
"I suppose," continued Tom, "that I've thought of Lucy so long and so
much, lately, and worried so over her disappearance, that I'm not quite
myself, and imagined this girl was more like her than she really is.
What did you say her name was?"
"Thank you. Can you tell me where I'll find Mr. Forbes?"
"He's getting ready for dinner, now, and won't need you at present."
"Then I'll go back to my room. It--it was a great shock to me, that
likeness, Miss DeGraf."
"I can well believe it," said Beth; and then she went to her own
apartment, greatly puzzled at a resemblance so strong that it had even
deceived Lucy Rogers's own sweetheart.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
"If she is really Lucy Rogers, she'll be missing tomorrow morning," said
Beth when she had told her cousins of the encounter in the corridor.
But Eliza Parsons was still at Elmhurst the next day, calmly pursuing
her duties, and evidently having forgotten or decided to ignore the
young man who had so curiously mistaken her for another. Beth took
occasion to watch her movements, so far as she could, and came to the
conclusion that the girl was not acting a part. She laughed naturally
and was too light-hearted and gay to harbor a care of any sort in her
But there was a mystery about her; that could not be denied. Even if she
were but a paid spy of Erastus Hopkins there was a story in this girl's
life, brief as it had been.
Beth was full of curiosity to know this story.
As for Tom Gates, he had been so horrified by his mistake that he tried
to avoid meeting Eliza again. This was not difficult because the girl
kept pretty closely to the linen room, and Tom was chiefly occupied in
Kenneth had little chance to test his secretary's abilities just then,
because the girls pounced upon the new recruit and used his services in
a variety of ways. Tom Gates's anxiety to give satisfaction made him
willing to do anything, but they refrained from sending him often to
town because he was sensitive to the averted looks and evident repulsion
of those who knew he had recently been a "jail-bird." But there was
plenty for him to do at Elmhurst, where they were all as busy as bees;
and whatever the young man undertook he accomplished in a satisfactory
Saturday forenoon the three girls, with Kenneth, Mr. Watson and Uncle
John, rode over to Fairview to prepare for the debate that was to take
place in the afternoon, leaving only Tom Gates at home. As Mr. Hopkins
had thrust upon his opponent the task of naming the place and time, the
Republican candidate was obliged to make all the arrangements, and pay
all the costs. But whatever the girl managers undertook they did well.
So the Opera House had been in the hands of a special committee for two
days, the orchestra had been hired, and the news of the joint debate had
spread far and wide.
The party from Elmhurst lunched at the Fairview Hotel, and then the
girls hurried to the Opera House while Kenneth remained to attend a
conference of the Republican Committee. These gentlemen were much
worried over the discovery of a scheme to trade votes that had been
sprung, and that Forbes and Reynolds were being sacrificed for Hopkins
and Cummings. Mr. Cummings was called into the meeting, and he denied
that the trading was being done with his consent, but defiantly refused
to make a public announcement to that effect.
The matter was really serious, because every vote lost in that way
counted as two for the other side, and Hopkins's rabid hand-bills had
influenced many of the more ignorant voters and created endless disputes
that were not of benefit to the Republican party.
"As nearly as we can figure from our recent canvass," said Mr.
Cunningham, the chairman, "we are fast losing ground, and our chances of
success are smaller than if no interest in the election had been
aroused. Hopkins has cut our majority down to nothing, and it will be a
hard struggle to carry our ticket through to success. This is the more
discouraging because Mr. Forbes has spent so much money, while Hopkins's
expenses have been very little."
"I do not mind that," said Kenneth, quietly. "It was my desire that the
voters should fully understand the issues of the campaign. Then, if they
vote against me, it is because they are not worthy of honest
representation in the Legislature, and I shall in the future leave them
to their own devices."
The committee adjourned a little before two o'clock with rather grave
faces, and prepared to attend the debate at the Opera House. Mr.
Cunningham feared this debate would prove a mistake, as it would give
Hopkins a chance to ridicule and brow-beat his opponent in public, and
his greatest talent as a speaker lay in that direction.
As Kenneth and his supporters approached the Opera House they heard loud
cheering, and from a band-wagon covered with bunting and banners, in
which he had driven to the meeting, descended the Honorable Erastus. He
met Kenneth face to face, and the latter said pleasantly:
"Good afternoon, Mr. Hopkins."
"Ah, it's Forbes, isn't it?" replied Hopkins, slightingly. "I've met you
before, somewheres, haven't I?"
"You have, sir."
"Glad you're here, Forbes; glad you're here," continued the
Representative, airily, as he made his way through the crowd that
blocked the entrance. "These meetings are educational to young men.
Girls all well, I hope?"
There was a boisterous laugh at this sally, and Mr. Hopkins smiled and
entered the Opera House, while Kenneth followed with the feeling that he
would take great delight in punching the Honorable Erastus's nose at the
The house was packed full of eager spectators who had come to see "the
fun." Although the girls had taken charge of all the arrangements they
had devoted the left side of the ample stage to the use of the Hopkins
party, where a speaker's table and chairs for important guests had been
placed. The right side was similarly arranged for the Forbes party, and
between the two the entire center of the stage was occupied by a group
of fifty young girls. Above this group a great banner was suspended,
reading: "The Signs of the Times," a catchword Mr. Hopkins had employed
throughout the campaign. But the most astonishing thing was the
appearance of the group of girls. They all wore plain white slips, upon
which a variety of signs had been painted in prominent letters. Some
costumes advertised baking-powders, others patent medicines, others
soaps, chewing tobacco, breakfast foods, etc. From where they were
seated in full view of the vast audience the girls appeared as a mass of
advertising signs, and the banner above them indicated quite plainly
that these were the "Signs of the Times."
Mr. Hopkins, as he observed this scene, smiled with satisfaction. He
believed some of his friends had prepared this display to assist him and
to disconcert the opposition, for nothing could have clinched his
arguments better than the pretty young girls covered with advertisements
of well known products. Even the Eagle Eye Breakfast Food was well
After the orchestra had finished a selection, Mr. Hopkins rose to make
the first argument and was greeted with cheers.
"We are having a jolly campaign, my dear friends," he began; "but you
musn't take it altogether as a joke; because, while Mr. Forbes's erratic
views and actions have done little real harm, we have been educated to
an appreciation of certain benefits we enjoy which otherwise might have
escaped our attention.
"This is a progressive, strenuous age, and no section of the country has
progressed more rapidly than this, the Eighth District of our great and
glorious State. I may say without danger of contradiction that the
people I have the honor to represent in the State Legislature, and
expect to have the honor of representing the next term, are the most
intelligent, the most thoughtful and the most prosperous to be found in
any like district in the United States. (Cheers.) Who, then, dares to
denounce them as fools? Who dares interfere with these liberties, who
dares intrude uninvited into their premises and paint out the signs they
have permitted to occupy their fences and barns and sheds? Who would do
these things but an impertinent meddler who is so inexperienced in life
that he sets his own flimsy judgment against that of the people?"
The orator paused impressively to wait for more cheers, but the audience
was silent. In the outskirts of the crowd a faint hissing began to be
heard. It reached the speaker's ear and he hurriedly resumed the
"I do not say Mr. Forbes is not a good citizen," said he, "but that he
is misguided and unreasonable. A certain degree of deference is due the
young man because he inherited considerable wealth from his uncle,
Again the hisses began, and Mr. Hopkins knew he must abandon personal
attacks or he would himself be discredited before his hearers. Kenneth
and his supporters sat silent in their places, the three girls, who were
now well known in the district, forming part of the Republican group;
and none of them displayed the least annoyance at the vituperation Mr.
Hopkins had employed.
"I have already called your attention in my circulars," resumed the
speaker, "to the fact that advertising signs are the source of large
income to the farmers of this district. I find that three thousand,
seven hundred and eighty-three dollars have been paid the farmers in the
last five years, without the least trouble or expense on their part; and
this handsome sum of money belongs to them and should not be taken away.
Stop and think for a moment. Advertising is the life of every business,
and to fight successfully the great army of advertisers whose business
is the life-blood of our institutions is as impossible as it is absurd.
Suppose every farmer in this district refused to permit signs upon his
property; what would be the result? Why, the farmers of other sections
would get that much more money for letting privileges, and you would be
that much out of pocket without suppressing the evil--if evil can attach
to an industry that pays you good money without requiring either
investment or labor in return."
After continuing in this strain for some time, Mr. Hopkins announced
that "he would now give way to his youthful and inexperienced opponent,"
and asked the audience to be patient with Mr. Forbes and considerate of
"his extraordinary prejudices."
Hopkins's policy of discrediting his opponent in advance was not very
effective, for when Kenneth arose he was more enthusiastically cheered
than Hopkins had been. The meeting was disposed to be fair-minded and
quite willing to give Mr. Forbes a chance to explain his position.
"The arguments of our distinguished Representative are well worthy of
your consideration," he began, quietly. "It is only by understanding
fully both sides of an argument that you can hope to arrive at a just
and impartial decision. Mr. Hopkins has advocated advertising signs on
the ground that your financial gain warrants permitting them to be
placed upon your premises. I will not deny his statement that three
thousand, seven hundred and eighty-three dollars have been paid the
farmers of this district by advertisers in the last five years. It is
quite likely to be true. I have here the report of the Department of
Agriculture showing that the total amount paid to farmers of the eighth
district in the last five years, for produce of all kinds, is eleven
millions, five-hundred thousand dollars."
A murmur of amazement rose from the audience. Kenneth waited until it
"This seems surprising, at first," he said, "and proves how startling
aggregate figures are. You must remember I have covered five years in
this estimate, as did Mr. Hopkins in his, and if you will figure it out
you will see that the yearly average of earnings is about six hundred
dollars to each farmer. That is a good showing, for we have a wealthy
district; but it is not surprising when reduced to that basis. Mr.
Hopkins slates that the farmers of this district received three
thousand, seven hundred and eighty-three dollars during the last five
years for advertising signs. Let us examine these figures. One-fifth of
that sum is seven hundred and fifty-six dollars and sixty cents as the
income to you per year. We have, in this district, twenty-five hundred
farmers according to the latest reports of the Bureau of Statistics, and
dividing seven hundred and fifty-six dollars and sixty cents by
twenty-five hundred, we find that each farmer receives an average of
thirty and one-quarter cents per year for allowing his fences and
buildings to be smothered in lurid advertising signs. So we find that
the money received by the farmers from the advertising amounts to about
one-quarter of one per cent of their income, a matter so insignificant
that it cannot affect them materially, one way or another.
"But, Mr. Hopkins states that you give nothing in return for this
one-quarter of one per cent, while I claim you pay tremendously for it.
For you sacrifice the privacy of your homes and lands, and lend
yourselves to the selfish desire of advertisers to use your property to
promote their sales. You have been given an example of clean barns and
fences, and I cannot tell you how proud I am of this district when I
ride through it and see neatly painted barns and fences replacing the
flaring and obtrusive advertising signs that formerly disfigured the
highways. Why should you paint advertising signs upon your barns any
more than upon your houses? Carry the thing a step farther, and you may
as well paint signs upon your children's dresses, in the manner you see
illustrated before you."
At this, Louise made a signal and the fifty children so grotesquely
covered with signs rose and stepped forward upon the stage. The
orchestra struck up an air and the little girls sang the following
"Teas and soaps,
Pills and dopes,
We all must advertise.
Not common sense.
Are the things we prize.
Such a dress
Isn't quite becoming,
But we suppose
This keeps business humming."
As the girls ceased singing, Kenneth said:
"To the encroaching advertiser these signs of
the times are considered legitimate. There is no
respect for personal privacy on the advertiser's
part. Once they used only the newspapers, the
legitimate channels for advertising. Then they
began painting their advertising on your fences.
When the farmers protested against this the advertisers
gave them a few pennies as a sop to
quiet them. After this they gave you small sums
to paint the broad sides of your barns, your
board fences, and to place signs in your field. If
you allowed them to do so they would paint signs
on the dresses of your children and wives, so
callous are they to all decency and so regardless
of private rights. Look on this picture, my
friends, and tell me, would you prefer to see this--or this?"
At the word each child pulled away the sign-painted
slip and stood arrayed in a pretty gown
of spotless white.
The surprise was so complete that the audience
cheered, shouted and laughed for several minutes
before silence was restored. Then the children
sang another verse, as follows:
"Now it is clear
That we appear
Just as we should be;
We are seen
Sweet and clean
From corruption free:
We're the signs
Of the times--
Fair as heaven's orbs.
If we look good,
Then all men should
Vote for Kenneth Forbes!"
The cheering was renewed at this, and Mr. Hopkins became angry. He tried
to make himself heard, but the popular fancy had been caught by the
object lesson so cleverly placed before them, and they shouted: "Forbes!
Forbes! Forbes!" until the Honorable Erastus became so furious that he
left the meeting in disgust.
This was the most impolite thing he could have done, but he vowed that
the meeting had been "packed" with Forbes partisans and that he was
wasting his time in addressing them.
After he was gone Kenneth resumed his speech and created more
enthusiasm. The victory was certainly with the Republican candidate, and
the Elmhurst people returned home thoroughly satisfied with the result
of the "joint debate."
A CLEW AT LAST
The servants at Elmhurst all ate in a pleasant dining room with windows
facing a garden of geraniums. Tom Gates had been at the house two days
before he encountered Eliza Parsons at the table, for the servants were
not all able to take their meals at the same time.
It was at luncheon, the day of the joint debate at Fairview, that the
young man first met Eliza, who sat opposite him. The only other person
present was old Donald, the coachman, who was rather deaf and never paid
any attention to the chatter around him.
As he took his seat Tom gave a half-frightened glance into Eliza's face
and then turned red as she smiled coquettishly and said:
"Dear me! It's the young man who called me his dear Lucy."
"You--you're very like her," stammered Tom, unable to take his eyes from
her face. "Even now I--I can't believe I'm mistaken."
She laughed merrily in a sweet, musical voice, and then suddenly stopped
with her hand on her heart and cast at him a startled look that was in
such sharp contrast to her former demeanor that he rose from his chair.
"Sit down, please," she said, slowly. And then she studied his face with
sober earnestness--with almost wistful longing. But she shook her head
presently, and sighed; and a moment later had regained her lightness of
"It's a relief to have a quiet house for a day, isn't it?" she asked,
eating her soup calmly. "I'll be glad when the election's over."
"Have you been here long?" he asked, although Beth had told him of
Eliza's coming to Elmhurst.
"Only a short time. And you?"
"Two days," said he. "But where did you live before you came here?"
She shook her head.
"I wish you would answer me," he begged. "I have a reason for asking."
"What reason?" she demanded, suddenly serious again.
"Two people have never lived that were so near alike as you and Lucy
"Will you show me your left arm?"
She was again studying his face.
"If you are Lucy Rogers you have a scar there--a scar where you burned
yourself years ago."
She seemed frightened for a moment. Then she said:
"I have no scar on my left arm."
"Will you prove it?"
"No. You are annoying me. What did you say your name is?"
She was thoughtful for a moment and then shook her head.
"I have never heard of you," she declared, positively, and resumed her
Tom was nonplussed. One moment he believed she was Lucy, and the next
told himself that it was impossible. This girl possessed mannerisms that
Lucy had never exhibited in all the years he had known her. She was bold
and unabashed where Lucy was shy and unassuming. This girl's eyes
laughed, while Lucy's were grave and serious; yet they were the same
"Let me tell you about my lost Lucy," he said, with a glance at the
"Go ahead, if it will relieve you," she answered, demurely.
"She lived on a farm five miles from here, and she was my sweetheart.
Her mother is blind and her father old and feeble. She worked for a
dentist in the town and was accused of stealing a ring, and it nearly
broke her heart to be so unjustly suspected. In order to make good the
loss of the ring, a valuable diamond--I--I got into trouble, and Lucy
was so shocked and distressed that she--she lost her head--became mad,
you know--and left home during the night without a word to any one. We
haven't been able to find her since."
"That's too bad," remarked Eliza Parsons, buttering her bread.
"About the time that Lucy went away, you appeared at Elmhurst,"
continued Tom. "And in face and form you're the image of my Lucy. That
is why I asked you to tell me where you came from and how you came
"Ah, you think I'm mad, do you?" asked the girl, with a quizzical smile.
"Well, I'm not going to satisfy your curiosity, even to prove my sanity;
and I'm not anxious to pose as your lost Lucy. So please pass the sugar
and try to be sociable, instead of staring at me as if I scared you."
Tom passed the sugar, but he could not eat, nor could he tear himself
away from this strange girl's presence. He tried again to draw her into
conversation, but she showed annoyance and resented his persistence.
Presently she went away, giving him an amused smile as she left the
room--a smile that made him feel that this was indeed a case of mistaken
In fact, Tom Gates, on sober reflection, knew that the girl could not be
Lucy, yet he could not still the yearning in his heart whenever he saw
her. His heart declared that she was Lucy, and his head realized that
she could not be.
While he waited in the library for Mr. Forbes to return from Fairview a
man was shown into the room and sat down quietly in a corner.
He was a small, lean man, of unassuming appearance, with a thin face and
gray eyes set close together. When he looked at Tom Gates he scarcely
seemed to see him, and his manner conveyed the impression that he
disliked to attract notice.
"Waiting for Mr. Forbes, sir?" asked Tom.
"Yes," was the quiet reply.
Suddenly it struck the young man that this might be the detective who
called every evening to give his report, and if so Tom was anxious to
talk with him. So he ventured to say:
"It's Mr. Burke, isn't it?"
The man nodded, and looked out of the window.
"I'm Tom Gates, sir."
"Yes; I know."
"You've seen me before?" asked the youth, astonished.
"No; I've heard of you. That's all."
Tom flushed, remembering his recent crime. But he was eager to question
"Have you heard anything of Lucy Rogers, Mr. Burke?"
"Is there no trace of her at all?"
"A slight trace--nothing worth mentioning," said Mr. Burke.
For a few moments Tom sat in silence. Then he said:
"I thought I'd found her, day before yesterday."
"Yes?" There was little interest in the tone.
"There's a girl in the house, sir, one of the maids, who is the living
image of Lucy Rogers."
"You ought to be able to identify her," suggested the detective, his
gaze still out of the window.
"But they are not alike except in looks. Her form and face are identical
with Lucy's. I was so sure that I begged her to let me see if there was
a scar on her left arm; but she refused."
"Was there a scar on Lucy Rogers's left arm?"
"Yes, sir. Several years ago, when we were children, we were making
candy in the kitchen and Lucy burned herself badly. It left a broad scar
on her left forearm, which she will bear as long as she lives."
"It is well to know that," said Mr. Burke.
"This girl," continued Tom, musingly, "says her name is Eliza Parsons,
and she says it in Lucy's voice. But her manner is not the same at all.
Eliza laughs at me and quizzes me; she is forward and scornful, and--and
perfectly self-possessed, which Lucy could not be, under the
"Have you seen her closely?" asked the detective.
"And are still unable to decide who she is?"
"That's it, sir; I'm unable to decide. It's Lucy: and yet it isn't
"Who is Eliza Parsons?"
"She refuses to say where she came from. But it seems she arrived at
Elmhurst only a day or two after Lucy disappeared from home. It's that
coincidence that makes me doubt the evidence of my own senses."
"Who hires the servants here?"
"I don't know, sir."
Mr. Burke abandoned the conversation, then, and confined his gaze to the
landscape as it showed through the window. Tom busied himself addressing
circulars of instruction to the Republicans who were to work at the
polling places. This was Saturday, and the election was to be on the
following Tuesday. The meeting at Fairview was therefore the last
important rally of the campaign.
At dusk the party arrived from Fairview in the automobiles, the girls
greatly delighted with the success of the meeting. They all followed
Kenneth into the library, where the butler had just lighted the lamps.
The evenings were getting cool, now, and a grate fire was burning.
Kenneth greeted Mr. Burke and introduced him to the young ladies, who
begged to remain during the interview.
"We are all alike interested in Lucy Rogers, Mr. Burke," said the boy;
"so you may speak freely. Is there any news?"
"Nothing of importance, sir, unless a clew has been found in your own
house," replied the detective.
"Here at Elmhurst?" asked the astonished Kenneth.
"Yes. Tom Gates has seen a girl--one of your maids--who so strongly
resembles Lucy Rogers that he at first believed she was the missing
"I know," said Beth, quickly. "It's Eliza Parsons. But Tom was mistaken.
He saw her in the dim light of a corridor, and the resemblance confused
"I've seen her since," remarked Tom, "and the likeness is really
bewildering. It's only her manner that is different."
"When I first saw her, before Tom came, I was astonished at her
resemblance to Mrs. Rogers," announced Beth. "I have never seen Lucy,
but I know Mrs. Rogers, and it seemed to me that Eliza was exactly like
her in features. Mr. Forbes and I first saw her riding in a buggy with
Mr. Hopkins. That was before either of us knew she was employed at
Elmhurst. You see she isn't one of the servants who come much in contact
with the family; she does the mending and takes charge of the linen
Beth then related the manner in which they first noticed Eliza, and how
they had discovered her to be a spy in the service of Mr. Hopkins.
The detective was much interested in the recital and seemed surprised
that he had not been informed of this before.
"Of course," said Kenneth, "the girl is not Lucy Rogers. It is not
possible they could be the same."
"Why not?" asked Mr. Burke.
"Well, Lucy was a gentle, sweet country girl, of little experience in
life. Her nature was so susceptible, so very sensitive, that when she
discovered Tom Gates, whom she loved, to be guilty of a forgery, she
worried herself into an attack of brain-fever; or at least she became
insane, reproaching herself for having driven the boy to this dreadful
deed. Under the influence of her mania she wandered away from her home,
and has not been seen since. That's the story of Lucy Rogers. Now look
at Eliza Parsons. She appeared the very day after Lucy's disappearance,
to be sure; but that proves they are not the same person. For Eliza is
not demented. She is a cold, hard woman of the world, in spite of her
tender years. She is doing the work of an experienced spy, while any
deceit was foreign to Lucy's nature. Instead of being plunged in grief
Eliza is happy and gay, reckless of consequences and fully
self-possessed. She is also well and healthy, to all appearances. Taking
all these things into consideration, it is impossible to connect the two
girls in any way--save the coincidence of personal resemblance."
Mr. Burke listened to this quietly, and then shook his head.
"Your arguments all tend to make me suspect that she is Lucy Rogers," he
For a moment there was an impressive silence, while everyone eagerly,
inquiringly or doubtfully looked at the detective, according to their
diverse acceptance of his statement.
"In pursuance of the task set me," began Mr. Burke, "I had met with such
absolute failure to trace the missing girl that I began to suspect no
ordinary conditions were attached to this case. In my experience, which
covers many years, I have had occasion to study sudden dementia, caused
by shocks of grief or horror, and I have come to comprehend the fact
that the human mind, once unbalanced, is liable to accomplish many
surprising feats. Usually the victim is absolutely transformed, and
becomes the very opposite, in many ways, of the normal personality. I
imagine this is what happened to Lucy Rogers."
"Do you imagine that Lucy would try to deceive _me_, sir?" asked Tom,
"I am sure she doesn't know who you are," answered the detective,
positively. "She doesn't even know herself. I have known instances where
every recollection of the past was wiped out of the patient's mind."
There was another thoughtful pause, for the detective's assertions were
so astonishing that they fairly overwhelmed his hearers.
Then Louise asked:
"Is such a case of dementia hopeless, Mr. Burke?"
"Not at all hopeless. Often, I admit, it develops into permanent
insanity, but there are many examples of complete recovery. Our first
business must be to assure ourselves that we are right in this
conjecture. I may be entirely wrong, for the unexpected is what I have
been taught to look for in every case of mystery that has come under my
observation. But I believe I have the material at hand to prove the
personality of this Eliza Parsons, and after that I shall know what to
do. Who employs your servants, Mr. Forbes?"
"Martha, my housekeeper, usually employs the maids."
"Will you send for her, please?"
Kenneth at once obeyed the request, and presently Martha entered the
She was a little, withered old woman, but with a pleasant face and
shrewd but kindly eyes.
"Martha," said Kenneth, "did you employ the new linen maid, Eliza
"Yes, sir," she replied, apparently surprised at the question.
"This is Mr. Burke, Martha. Please answer any questions he may ask you."
"Yes, Master Kenneth."
"Did the girl bring any recommendations?" asked the detective.
"I do not think she did, sir."
"Are you accustomed to hiring maids without recommendations?" asked Mr.
"Oh, Eliza had a letter from my cousin, Mrs. Hopkins, who lives in
"Is Mrs. Hopkins your cousin?" asked Kenneth.
"Yes, sir. She were a Phibbs before she married Erastus, and my name is
"What did the letter from Mrs. Hopkins say?"
"It said she knew Eliza to be a clever and worthy girl, and if I had a
place for her I couldn't do better than take her on. So I needed a linen
maid and Eliza went right to work. Isn't she satisfactory, sir? Has she
been doing anything wrong?"
"No. Please do not mention this interview to her at present, Miss
Phibbs," said the detective. "That is all, I believe."
"Would you like to see Eliza?" asked Kenneth, when the housekeeper had
"Not at present. I want to interview Mrs. Hopkins first."
"Tonight?" asked Tom, eagerly.
"I will go at once, with Mr. Forbes's permission."
"Certainly, sir," said Kenneth. "Shall we see you tomorrow?"
"Just as soon as I have accomplished anything."
"Would you like a horse or an automobile?"
"Your man may drive me to the town, sir, if it is convenient."
Kenneth gave the required order, and then Mr. Burke asked:
"How far are you prepared to go in this matter, sir?"
"In what way?"
"In expending money."
"Will any large expenditure be required?"
"I cannot say. But we may require the services and advice of an expert
physician--a specialist in brain diseases."
"Do you know of one?" asked Kenneth.
"Yes; but he must be brought from Buffalo. It will be expensive, sir.
That is why I ask if your interest in the girl warrants our going to the
limit to save her."
Kenneth was thoughtful, while the girls looked at him expectantly and
Tom Gates with visible anxiety.
"My original idea was merely to find the missing girl in order to
relieve the anxiety of her blind mother," said young Forbes. "To
accomplish that I was willing to employ your services. But, as a matter
of fact, I have never seen the girl Lucy Rogers, nor am I particularly
interested in her."
"I am," declared Beth.
"And I!" repeated Patsy and Louise.
"I think," said Uncle John, who had been a quiet listener until now,
"that Kenneth has assumed enough expense in this matter."
"Oh, Uncle!" The remonstrance was from all three of the girls.
"Therefore," continued Mr. Merrick, "I propose that I undertake any
further expense that may be incurred, so as to divide the burden."
"That's better!" declared Patsy. "But I might have known Uncle John
would do that."
"You have my authority to wire the physician, if necessary, or to go to
any expense you deem advisable," continued Mr. Merrick, turning to the
detective. "We seem to have undertaken to unravel an interesting
mystery, and we'll see it through to the end."
"Very good, sir," said Mr. Burke, and left them with a brief nod of
"Somehow," said Beth, "I've a lot of confidence in that little man."
"Why, he's a detective," replied Uncle John, with a smile, "and the
chief business of detectives is to make mistakes."
MRS. HOPKINS GOSSIPS
The home of Representative Hopkins was not a very imposing edifice. It
was a modest frame building standing well back in a little yard at the
outskirts of the village, and Mrs. Hopkins did the housework, unaided,
to save the expense of a maid. It never occurred to the politician, who
had risen from the position of a poor stable-boy to one of affluence, to
save his wife from this drudgery. To him poor Mary was merely one of his
possessions, and it would have astonished him to know that her sharp
tongue and irritable temper were due to overwork and neglect. The
Honorable Erastus was not averse to champagne dinners and other costly
excesses while at the state capital, and his fellow legislators
considered him a good fellow, although rather lax in "keeping his end
up." Moreover, he employed a good tailor and was careful to keep up an
appearance of sound financial standing. But his home, which he avoided
as much as possible, had little share in his personal prosperity. Mary
Hopkins's requests for new and decent gowns were more often refused than
acceded to, and he constantly cautioned her to keep down expenses or she
would drive them both to the poor-house.
The woman well knew that Erastus could afford to keep her in luxury, if
he would, but some women are so constituted that they accept their fate
rather than rebel, and Mary Hopkins lived the life of a slave,
contenting herself with petty scoldings and bickerings that did nothing
to relieve her hard lot.
She had little interest in politics and resented the intrusion of the
many who came to the house to see and consult with her husband during
the tiresome political campaigns. On these occasions Mr. Hopkins used
the sitting-room as his office and committee headquarters, but this did
not materially interfere with his wife's comfort, as she was usually
busy in the kitchen.
On this Saturday evening, however, they had an early supper and she
finished her dishes betimes and sat down to darn stockings in the
sitting-room. Erastus had hurried away to a meeting of his henchmen in
the town, and would not be home until after his wife was in bed.
So she was rather surprised when a timid knock sounded upon the door.
She opened it to find a little, lean man standing upon the porch.
"Mrs. Hopkins?" he asked, quietly.
"Yes. What do you want?"
"Your husband asked me to come here and wait for him. It's important or
I wouldn't disturb you."
"Well, then; come in," she replied, tartly. "Thank the Lord this thing
is nearly over, and we'll have a few weeks of peace."
"It is rather imposing on you," remarked the man, following her to the
sitting-room, where he sat down with his hat in his hands. "A political
campaign is trying to everybody. I'm tired out and sick of the whole
"Then why don't you chuck it," she retorted, scornfully, "and go to work
makin' an honest living?"
"Oh, this is honest enough," he said, mildly.
"I don't believe it. All them secret confabs an' trickery to win votes
can't be on the square. Don't talk to me! Politics is another name for
"Perhaps you're right, ma'am; perhaps you're right," he said, with a
She looked at him sharply.
"You don't belong in Elmwood."
"No, ma'am; I'm from beyond Fairview. I've come to see your husband on
She sniffed, at that, but picked up her darning and relapsed into
silence. The little man was patient. He sat quietly in his chair and
watched her work.
His mildness disarmed Mary Hopkins. She was not especially averse to
having him sit there. It relieved the loneliness of her occupation. On
occasions she loved to talk, as Erastus had long ago discovered; and
this visitor would not try to shut her up the way Erastus did.
"You don't often get out, ma'am; into society, and such like," ventured
the caller, presently.
"What makes you think that?" she demanded.
"A woman can't keep a house neat and trim like this, and be a social
gadder," he observed.
"You're right about that," she returned, somewhat mollified. "If I was
like them girls up at Elmhurst, fussin' round over politics all the
time, this house would go to rack an' ruin."
"Oh, them!" he said, with mild scorn. "Them girls 'll never be
"Not for a minute," she affirmed.
There was another pause, then; but the ice was broken. A subtle sympathy
seemed established between the two.
"What do you think of 'Rast's chances?" she asked, presently, as she
threaded new cotton into her needle.
"I guess he'll win. He's worked hard enough, anyhow."
"Yes; 'Rast's a good worker. He don't leave any stone unturned. He's up
to all the tricks o' the trade, is 'Rast Hopkins!"
Here he began shaking with silent laughter, and Mrs. Hopkins looked at
"What are you laughing at?" she inquired, with a sniff of disdain.
"At--at the way he come it over the gals up at Elmhurst. 'Rast's a
pretty slick one, he is!"
"What do you mean?"
"Why, settin' that 'Liza to watch 'em, and tell all they does. Who'd a
thought of it but 'Rast Hopkins?"
"I don't see anything mighty funny about that," declared Mrs. Hopkins,
contemptuously. "The girl's too pert and forward for anything. I told
'Rast not to fool with her, or she'd make him trouble."
"Did you, now!" exclaimed the man, wonderingly.
"Yes, indeed," said Mrs. Hopkins, pleased to have made an impression. "I
suspected there was something wrong about her the morning she came to
the house here. And she changed her name, too, as brassy as you please."
"Well, I declare!" said the visitor. "Did you know her before that, Mrs.
"Why, I didn't exactly know her, but I seen her workin' around Miss
Squiers's place many a time, and she didn't seem to 'mount to much, even
then. One day she stole a di'mond ring off'n old Miss Squiers and dug
out, and I told Nancy then--Nancy's young Miss Squiers--that I'd always
had my suspicions of the hussy. She hid the ring in a vase on the mantle
and they found it after she was gone."
"Well, well! I didn't know that about her," said the man, looking with
admiration at Mrs. Hopkins.
"That's why I told 'Rast not to have any truck with her, when she came
here bright and early one morning and asked for work."
"Oh, she came here, did she?"
"While I was gettin' breakfast. She said her name was Eliza Parsons, an'
she was looking fer a job. I told her I knew her record an' to get out,
and while we was arguin' 'Rast come out and took a hand in the talk. She
laughed and flirted with him outrageous, and said she was a stranger in
these parts, when I'd seen her many a time at Miss Squiers's."
"What was her name then?" asked the man.
"I think it was Rosie--or Lucy, or something--. Anyhow, it wasn't Eliza,
and that I'll swear to. But the girl laughed at me and made such silly
smiles at 'Rast that he told me to shut up, 'cause he had a use for her
"Well, well!" repeated the visitor. "Just see how stories get twisted. I
heard you gave the girl a letter to your cousin Martha."
"Well, I did. 'Rast wanted to get her in at Elmhurst, to watch what
Forbes was doing to defeat him, so he made me write the letter. But
how'd you know so much about this girl?" she inquired, with sudden
"Me? I only know what Mr. Hopkins told me. I'm one of his confidential
men. But he never said how he happened to find the girl, or what he knew
"He didn't know nothing. He'd never seen her 'till that morning when she
came here. But he said she was clever, and she is, if pertness and a
ready tongue counts for cleverness. I suppose he pays her for what she
tells him about Forbes, but he'd better save his money and fight on the
square. I don't like this tricky politics, an' never did."
"I don't either," declared the man. "But I'm in it, and can't get out."
"That's what 'Rast says. But some day they'll put him out, neck and
crop, if he ain't careful."
"Is the girl Eliza much use to him?"
"I can't say. He drove her over to Elmhurst that morning, and he drives
over two or three evenings a week to meet her on the sly and get her
report. That may be politics, but it ain't very respectable, to my
"Well, the campaign is nearly over, Mrs. Hopkins."
"Thank goodness for that!" she replied.
The visitor sat silent after this, for he had learned all that the poor
gossiping woman could tell him. Finally he said:
"I guess your husband's going to be late."
"Yes; if he ain't more prompt than usual you'll have a long spell of
"Perhaps I'd better go over to the hotel and look him up. I have to get
back to Fairview tonight, you know."
"Do as you please," she answered carelessly.
So Mr. Burke, for it was the detective, bade her good-night and took his
leave, and it was not until after he had gone that Mary Hopkins
remembered she had forgotten to ask him his name.
"But it don't matter," she decided. "He's just one o' 'Rast's
politicians, and I probably treated the fellow better than he deserved."
On Sunday morning Mr. Burke again appeared at Elmhurst, and told Kenneth
he wanted an interview with Eliza Parsons.
"I don't want you to send for her, or anything like that, for it would
make her suspicious," he said. "I'd like to meet her in some way that
would seem accidental, and not startle her."
"That is rather a hard thing to arrange, Mr. Burke," said the boy, with
"Why, I think not," declared Louise. "It seems to me quite easy."
"That's the woman of it, sir," laughed Kenneth; "if it's a question of
wits her sex has the advantage of us."
"What do you propose, miss?" asked the detective, turning to Louise.
"I'll have Martha send the girl into the garden to gather flowers," she
replied; "and you can wander around there and engage her in
"Excellent!" he exclaimed. "Can this be arranged now?"
"I'll see, sir."
She found Martha and asked her to send Eliza Parsons for some roses and
chrysanthemums, which were in a retired place shut in by evergreen
"One of the other maids will know the garden better," suggested the
"But I wish Eliza to go."
"Very well, Miss Louise."
From an upper window the girl watched until she saw Eliza Parsons leave
the house with a basket and go into the retired garden she had chosen.
Then she returned to the library for Mr. Burke and led him toward the
"Eliza is just beyond that gap in the hedge," she said, and turned away.
"Wait a moment, please," he said, detaining her. "On second thought I
would like you to come with me, for your tact may be of great
assistance. Have you spoken much with Eliza?"
"Not at all, I think. Beth has talked with her, but I have scarcely been
near her since she came here."
"You are willing to come?"
"I shall be glad to."
"The poet Saxe," said Mr. Burke, walking through the gap beside Louise,
"has never been properly appreciated by his countrymen, although since
his death his verses are in greater demand than while he lived. Do you
care for them?"
"I don't know Saxe very well," she answered, observing that they were
approaching a place where Eliza was bending over a rose-bush. "But one
or two of his poems are so amusing that they linger in my memory."
Eliza turned at the sound of their voices and gave them a quick glance.
But the next moment she resumed her occupation of cutting roses.
"The man's greatest fault was his habit of punning," remarked the
detective, watching the girl's form as he drew nearer. "It is that which
blinded his contemporaries to his real talents. What exquisite roses,
Miss Merrick! May I ask for one for my button-hole?"
"Yes, indeed!" she replied, pausing with him just beside Eliza. "Will
you cut that bud yonder, for Mr. Burke, my dear?"
The maid silently obeyed and as the detective took the flower from her
hand he said:
"Why, isn't this Eliza Parsons?"
"Yes, sir," she replied, carelessly.
"Don't you remember me, Eliza?"
She seemed a little surprised, but answered promptly:
"I'm William Burke, your mother's cousin. How did you leave your brother
Harry, and have you heard from Josephine lately?"
The girl gave him a startled look and shrank back.
"Why, how nice!" cried Louise. "I did not know you knew Eliza's family,
"Yes, she is one of my relatives, and came from Roanoke, Virginia. Isn't
that correct, Eliza?"
"Yes, sir--no! I--I don't remember!" she said, in a low tone.
"Don't remember, Eliza? That is strange."
The girl stared at him half frightened, and drew her hand over her eyes
with a gesture of bewilderment.
"I hope, my dear, you are not going to be like your mother," said Mr.
Burke, gently. "My poor cousin Nora was subject to a strange lapse of
memory at times," he remarked to Louise. "She always recovered in time,
but for days she could remember nothing of her former life--not even her
own name. Are you ever affected that way Eliza?"
She looked up at him pleadingly, and murmured in a low voice:
"Let me go! Please let me go!"
"In a moment, Eliza."
Her hands were clasped together nervously and she had dropped her basket
and scissors on the path before her. The man looked intently into her
eyes, in a shrewd yet kindly way, and she seemed as if fascinated by his
"Tell me, my dear, have you forgotten your old life?" he asked.
"Yes," she whispered.
"Poor girl! And you are trying to keep this a secret and not let anyone
know of your trouble?"
Suddenly she started and sprang away, uttering a cry of terror.
"You're trying to trap me," she panted. "You know my name is not Eliza
Parsons. You--you want to ruin me!"
From the position in which they stood in the corner of the garden, with
high hedges behind the maid, and Mr. Burke and Louise blocking the path
in front, there was little chance of escape. But she looked around
wildly, as if about to make the attempt, when Louise stepped forward and
gently took Eliza's hand in her own.
"Mr. Burke is a good man, my dear, and means well by you," she said in
her sweet, sympathetic tones. "He shall not bother you if you are afraid
"I--I'm not afraid," said Eliza, with a resumption of her old manner and
a toss of her head.
The detective gave Louise a look which she thought she understood.
"Will you finish cutting these roses, Mr. Burke?" she asked, with a
smile. "Eliza and I are going to my room. Come, my dear," and without
waiting for a reply she led the girl, whose hand was still clasped in
her own, along the path.
Eliza came willingly. Her manner was a little defiant at first, but when
Louise drew her unobserved to the side entrance and up the staircase she
grew gentle and permitted the other girl to take her arm.
Once in her room with the strange maid, Louise locked the door quietly
and said to her companion with a cheerful smile:
"Now we are quite alone, and can talk at our ease. Take that low chair,
dear, and I'll sit here."
Eliza obeyed, looking wistfully into the fair face of her new friend.
"You are very pretty, Eliza; and I'm sure you are as good as you're
pretty," announced Louise. "So you must tell me about yourself, and
whether you are happy here or not. From this time on I'm going to be
your friend, you know, and keep all your secrets; and I'll help you all
This rambling speech seemed to impress Eliza favorably. She relaxed
somewhat from the tense alertness that was habitual with her, and looked
at the other girl with a softened expression.
"I'm afraid you won't be much interested in me," she replied, "but I
need a friend--indeed I need a friend, Miss Louise!"
"I'm sure you do."
"At first I thought I could do without one. I felt I must stand alone,
and let no one suspect. But--I'm getting puzzled and bewildered, and I
don't know what to do next."
"Of course not. Tell me about it, dear."
"I can't; for I don't know, myself." She leaned forward in her chair and
added, in a whisper: "I don't even know who I am! But that man," with a
shudder, "tried to trap me. He said he knew Eliza Parsons, and there is
no Eliza Parsons. It's a name I--I invented."
"I think I understand," said Louise, with a little nod. "You had to have
a name, so you took that one."
"Yes. I don't know why I am telling you this. I've tried to hide it all
so carefully. And perhaps I'm wrong in letting this thing worry me. In
the main, I've been very happy and content, lately; and--I have a
feeling I was not happy before--before--"
"Before what, dear?"
The girl looked at her steadily and her face grew red.
"Before I lost my memory."
For a few moments they sat silently regarding one another, the
expressive features of Louise showing a silent sympathy.
"Have you really lost your memory?" she asked.
"Absolutely. Think of it! I wakened one morning lying by the roadside,
and shivering with cold. I had on a simple gray dress, with no hat. The
sun was just rising, and no one was near. I examined myself with wonder,
for I had no idea who I was, or how I came there. There was no money in
my pocket, and I had no jewels. To keep warm I began walking along the
road. The scenery was all new to me; so far as I knew I had never been
in the place before.
"The birds were singing and the cows mooed in the meadow. I tried to
sing, too, for my heart was light and gay and I was happy. By and bye I
came to a town; but no one seemed to be awakened because it was yet so
early. As I walked down the street I saw smoke coming from one of the
chimneys, and it suddenly occurred to me that I was hungry. I entered
the yard and went around to the back door. A woman was working in the
kitchen and I laughed joyfully and wished her a good morning. She was
not very pleasant, but it did me good to talk with her; I liked to hear
my own voice and it pleased me to be able to talk easily and well. She
grudgingly gave me something to eat and then bade me begone, calling me
by some strange name and saying I was a thief. It was then that I
invented the name of Eliza Parsons. I don't know why, but it popped into
my head and I claimed it for my name and have clung to it ever since."
"Have you no idea what your real name is?" asked Louise, greatly
interested in this terse relation.
"I have no idea of anything that dates beyond that morning," replied
Eliza. "The first time I looked in the mirror I saw a strange face
reflected there. I had to make my own acquaintance," she added, with one
of her bright laughs. "I suppose I am between seventeen and twenty years
of age, but what my life was during past years is to me a sealed book. I
cannot remember a person I knew or associated with, yet things outside
of my personal life seem to have clung to me. I remembered books I must
have read; I can write, sing and sew--I sew remarkably well, and must
have once been trained to it. I know all about my country's history, yet
I cannot recollect where I lived, and this part of the country is
unknown to me. When I came to Elmhurst I knew all about it and about Mr.
Forbes, but could not connect them with my former life."
"How did you happen to come here?" asked Louise.
"I forgot to tell you that. While I was arguing with the woman, who was
a Mrs. Hopkins, her husband heard us and came out into the kitchen. He
began to question me about myself and I gave any answer that came into
my head, for I could not tell him the truth. It pleased me to hear my
voice, I seemed to have a keen sense of the humorous, and if I said
anything at all clever, I laughed as heartily as anyone. My heart was
light and free from all care. I had no worries or responsibilities at
all. I was like the birds who see the sunshine and feel the breeze and
are content to sing and be happy.
"Mr. Hopkins saw I was wholly irresponsible and reckless, and he decided
to use me to spy upon the people here at Elmhurst and report to him what
they said and did. I agreed to this readily, prompted by a spirit of
mischief, for I cared nothing for Hopkins and had nothing against Mr.
Forbes. Also Hopkins paid me money, which I had sufficient knowledge to
realize was necessary to me.
"Oh, how happy and gay I was in those first few days! There was not a
thought of the past, not an ambition or desire of any sort to bother me.
Just to live seemed pleasure enough. I enjoyed eating and sleeping; I
loved to talk and laugh; I was glad to have work to occupy me--and
that was all! Then things began to happen that puzzled me. The man
Hopkins declared he could not trust me because I had once been a thief,
and I wondered if he could speak truly. I resented the thought that I
may once have been a thief, although I wouldn't mind stealing, even now,
if I wanted anything and could take it."
"Oh, Eliza!" gasped Louise.
"It sounds wicked, doesn't it? But it is true. Nothing seems to
influence me so strongly as my own whims. I know what is good and what
is bad. I must have been taught these things once. But I am as likely to
do evil as good, and this recklessness has begun, in the last few days,
to worry me.
"Then I met a young man here--he says his name is Tom Gates--who called
me his dear Lucy, and said I used to love him. I laughed at him at
first, for it seemed very absurd and I do not want him to love me. But
then he proved to me there was some truth in his statement. He said his
Lucy had a scar on her left arm, and that made me afraid, because I had
discovered a scar on my own arm. I don't know how it got there. I don't
know anything about this old Lucy. And I'm afraid to find out. I'm
afraid of Lucy."
"I cannot tell. I only know I have a horror of her, a sudden shrinking
whenever her name is mentioned. Who was she, do you suppose?"
"Shall I tell you?" asked Louise.
"No--no! Don't, I beg of you!" cried Eliza, starting up. "I--I can't
bear it! I don't want to know her."
The protest was passionate and sincere, and Louise marvelled at the
workings of this evidently unbalanced intellect.
"What would you like to do, dear?" she inquired.
"I'd like to remain Eliza Parsons--always. I'd like to get away from
_her_--far away from anyone who ever heard of that dreadful Lucy who
frightens me so. Will you help me to get away, to escape to some place
where no one will ever be able to trace me?"
"Do you think you would be happy then?"
"I am sure of it. The only thing that makes me unhappy now is the horror
that this past life will be thrust upon me. I must have had a past, of
course, or I shouldn't be a grown woman now. But I'm afraid of it; I
don't want to know anything about it! Will you help me to escape?"
She looked eagerly at Louise as she asked this pitiful question, and the
other girl replied, softly: "I will be your friend, Eliza. I'll think
all this over, and we will see what can be done. Be patient a little
while and as soon as I find a way to free you from all this trouble I'll
send for you, and we'll talk it over together."
"Will you keep my secret?" demanded Eliza, uneasily.
Louise glanced at the door that communicated with Beth's room. It stood
open, but Eliza had not noticed that, as it was behind her. Just now a
shadow cast from the other room wavered an instant over the rug, and
Louise's quick eyes caught it.
"I promise to keep your secret, dear," she said earnestly.
The two girls rose and stood facing each other. Louise kissed the
beautiful Eliza and whispered:
"Here is one thing for you to remember--that we are always to be true
friends, from this time forward. If anyone annoys you, come to me, and I
will protect you."
"Thank you, Miss Louise," said Eliza, and then she went away to her own
room in a quieter and more thoughtful mood than usual.
When she had gone Louise ran to the door communicating with Beth's room,
and to her satisfaction found both her cousins, with Kenneth, Uncle John
and Mr. Burke, seated in a group where they must have overheard all that
had been said.
"Well!" she cried, eagerly, "did you hear? And what do you think of it
"It's Lucy Rogers, sure enough," said Kenneth.
Louise looked at Mr. Burke.
"It is the most singular case that has ever come under my observation,"
stated that gentleman. "The girl is perfectly sane, but she has suffered
a strange lapse of memory. I have two alternatives to advise. One is to
telegraph at once for a specialist. The other is to permit the girl to
go away, as she suggests. She will be happier to do so, I am sure."
"Oh, no!" cried the girls.
"She owes a duty to her parents and friends, as well as to herself,"
said Kenneth, "and I see no reason why she should be unhappy in the
future as Lucy Rogers."
Mr. Burke merely shrugged his shoulders.
"Please wire for the specialist at once," said Uncle John.
PATSY INDULGES IN EAVESDROPPING
Miss Patricia Doyle awakened at daybreak next morning with a throbbing
toothache. She wasn't accustomed to such pains and found it hard to
bear. She tried the application of a hot-water bag, and the tooth ached
harder; she tried a cold compress, and it jumped with renewed activity.
So she dressed herself and walked the floor, with the persistent ache as
an intimate companion.
She tried to find a cavity in the tooth, but it seemed perfectly sound.
Evidently she had caught cold and the wicked molar was signaling the
To be patient under the torture of a toothache was a virtue Patsy did
not possess. Louise and Beth, to whom she appealed, were sorry for her,
but could not relieve the pain. After breakfast Uncle John ordered her
to drive to town and see a dentist.
"Have it pulled, or filled, or something," he said. "The dentist will
know what to do."
So James drove Patsy to town, where they arrived about nine o'clock this
Monday morning. The only dentist at Elmwood was Dr. Squiers, so the girl
ran up the flight of stairs to his office, which was located over the
The pain had eased on the journey, and now the thought of having the
offending tooth pulled was weighing heavily upon Patsy's mind. The door
of Dr. Squiers's office stood ajar, and she hesitated whether to enter
The dentist's reception room was divided from his operating room by a
thin wooden partition, and as Patsy was deciding whether to employ Dr.
Squiers's services or not she heard high words coming from behind the
partition, and the voice was that of the Honorable Erastus Hopkins.
Softly she slid into the outer room and sank into a chair.
"But you're the clerk of the election, Squiers; you can't deny that,"
Hopkins was saying in a blustering, imperious voice.
"That's true enough," answered the dentist, more calmly.
"Then you've got the registration books in your possession."
"I admit that," was the reply. "But you're asking me to incriminate
myself, 'Rast. If the thing was discovered it would mean prison for both
"Fiddlesticks!" cried the irascible Hopkins. "These things are done
every day, and no one's the wiser for it. It's merely a part of the
"I'm afraid, 'Rast," said Dr. Squiers. "Honest Injun, I'm afraid."
"What are you 'fraid of? I've got the other clerks all fixed, and
they'll stand by us. All you need do is to add these sixty-six names to
the registration list, and then we'll vote 'em without opposition and
Patsy gave a gasp, which she tried to stifle. The toothache was all
"Where are these men?" inquired Dr. Squiers, thoughtfully.
"They're over at the mill. Marshall got 'em from all over the country,
and they'll be set to work today, so everything will seem reg'lar."
"Where do they sleep and eat?" inquired the doctor.
"Forty sleep in Hayes's barn, and the other twenty-six in the stock loft
over the planing mill. Marshall's got a commissary department and feeds
'em regular rations, like so many soldiers. Of course I'm paying for all
this expense," acknowledged Mr. Hopkins, somewhat regretfully.
"And do you suppose these sixty-six votes will turn the scale?" asked
"They're sure to. We finished the last canvass yesterday, and according
to our figures Forbes has about eighteen votes the best of us. That's
getting it down pretty close, but we may as well make up our minds we're
beaten if we don't vote the men over at the mill. Marshall could have
got me a hundred if necessary, but sixty-six is more than enough. Say
Forbes has twice eighteen for his plurality, instead of eighteen; these
sixty-six for me would wipe that out and let us win in a walk."
When Hopkins ceased there was a brief silence. Perhaps Dr. Squiers was
"I simply _must_ have those votes, Doc," resumed the Representative.
"It's the only way I can win."
"You've made a bungle of the whole campaign," said Squiers, bitterly.
"That's a lie. I've done a lot of clever work. But these infernal city
girls came down here and stirred up all the trouble."
"You made a mistake pushing that sign issue. The girls beat you on
"If it hadn't been signs it might have been something worse. But I ain't
beaten yet, Doc. Squiers. This deal is going to win. It's a trick the
boarding-school misses won't understand until after they've cut their
eye-teeth in politics."
"There's a pretty heavy penalty against false registration," observed
the dentist, gloomily.
"There's no penalty unless we're found out, and there ain't the ghost of
a chance of that. The books are in your hands; I got all the clerks
fixed. Not a question will even be raised. I know it. Do you suppose I'd
risk state's prison myself, if I wasn't sure?"
"Look here, 'Rast," said Squiers, doggedly, "you're making a tool of me
in this campaign. Why should I be used and abused just to elect Erastus
Hopkins, I'd like to know. You sacrificed me when I might have been
"You're well paid for that, Doc."
"And now you want me to put my neck in a noose for your advantage. I
won't do it, 'Rast, and that's a fact."
Mr. Hopkins coughed.
"How much, Doc?" he inquired.
The dentist was silent.
"State the figure. But for mercy's sake don't bleed me any more than you
can help. This fight has cost me a pretty penny already."
"I don't want your money," growled Squiers.
"Yes you do, Doc. I know you better than you know yourself. The trouble
with you is, you'll want too much."
Squiers laughed bitterly.
"Is Marshall to be trusted?" he asked.
"Of course. If he said a word he'd lose his job as manager. Marshall's
all right. There's nothing to worry about, Doc."
Patsy's tooth wasn't aching a bit. But her heart was throbbing as madly
as the tooth ever did, and fortunately there was no pain connected with
the throbbing--only joy.
"It ought to be worth two thousand dollars, 'Rast," said the dentist.
"What! In addition to all other expenses?"
"Why, man; it means the election. It means your whole future. If you're
defeated now, you're a back number in this district, and you know it."
"It's too much, Doc. On my word it is."
"It's too little, come to think of it. I'll make it three thousand."
"If you don't close with me, 'Rast, by the jumping Jupiter, I'll make it
four thousand," cried the dentist, with exasperation.
"Say twenty-five hundred, Doc."
"Right on the nail. Give me your check here--this minute."
"And you'll enter the names in the books?"
"Before you leave the office. Have you got the list?"
"Yes; in my pocket," said Mr. Hopkins.
"Then make out your check and I'll get the books."
There was a stir behind the partition and a sound of chairs scraping the
floor. Patsy slid out the door and flew down the stairs at the imminent
danger of breaking her neck. James was seated in the buggy outside,
engaged in rumination.
Patsy bounded in beside him and startled him.
"Drive for your life!" she cried. "Drive for home!"
He whipped up the spirited horse and they dashed away. Presently the man
asked, with a grin:
"Did it hurt much, Miss Patsy?"
"Did what hurt, James?"
"The tooth pullin', Miss Patsy."
"The tooth wasn't pulled," answered the girl, sweetly. "It didn't need
it, James. The only thing that was pulled was the Honorable Erastus's
PRICKING A BUBBLE.
When Patsy arrived home she called a council of war and related the
conversation she had overheard in the dentist's office.
"It isn't a very nice thing to do--listening to a private conversation,"
said the girl, "but when I discovered they were going to play such a
trick on Kenneth I couldn't help eavesdropping."
"I think you were justified," declared Mr. Watson, with a grave face;
"for this matter is very serious indeed. Tomorrow is election day, and
if a toothache hadn't carried you to the dentist's office Kenneth would
surely have been defeated."
"And we'd never have known how it happened," declared Uncle John.
"But can the plot be foiled at this late date?" inquired Louise,
"I think so," said Mr. Watson. "Dr. Squiers was correct in saying that
such a crime was a state's prison offense. Our discovery of it will send
both Erastus Hopkins and Dr. Squiers to prison. Probably Mr. Marshall,
the manager of the mill, will go with them."
"Oh, I don't like that!" exclaimed Patsy.
"Nor do I," added Kenneth. "It would be a sad beginning to my political
career to send three such men to prison. I'd like to avoid it, if I
"Perhaps it may be quietly arranged," said the lawyer. "If they knew you
had discovered the false registration of these men, they would never
dare vote them."
"How would it be to send Mr. Burke, the detective, over to the mill to
talk with Mr. Marshall?" suggested Beth.
"That is an excellent plan, and would be very effective in determining
the manager to abandon the plot."
"I'll go and see Hopkins myself," announced Uncle John. "I know how to
manage men of his sort."
"Very good," approved the lawyer, "and I'll see Squiers."
"If you do," said Patsy, "just ask him to sign a paper saying that Lucy
Rogers was falsely accused of stealing the ring, and that his mother
found it in a vase, where she had forgotten she put it."
"I'll do that," replied Mr. Watson. "And I'll get the sixty dollars back
that Tom Gates paid him. I'll make it a condition of our agreeing not to
prosecute the man."
"It looks as if we were going to win the election," said Uncle John in a
pleased voice. "If Hopkins was driven to such methods as stuffing
ballot-boxes, he must know very well he's defeated."
"He acknowledged it to Dr. Squiers." said Patsy, gaily. "We have
eighteen sure majority, and perhaps more."
"It's likely to be more," predicted Uncle John.
"I suppose congratulations are in order, Ken," said Louise.
"Not yet, cousin," he replied. "Wait until tomorrow night; and then
don't congratulate me, but the campaign managers--three of the nicest
and cleverest girls in existence!"
"You're right, my boy," declared Uncle John. "If you pull through and
take your seat in the Legislature, you'll owe it all to these girls."
"That is true," smiled the lawyer. "Kenneth was badly beaten when you
Of course our girls were very happy at receiving this praise, but more
pleased to realize they had actually been of service to their boy
friend. They believed that Kenneth would prove a good Representative and
carry out his promises to the voters; and if he did, that his political
career was assured.
Mr. Burke appeared in the afternoon with a telegram from Dr. Hoyt, the
specialist, saying that he would be at Elmwood on the noon train
Wednesday. His engagements prevented him from coming any sooner, and in
the meantime Mr. Burke advised keeping a close watch on Eliza Parsons,
to see that she did not run away.
"I'll attend to that," said Louise, quickly. "Eliza and I are friends,
and I'll take care of her."
"Aren't you going to the polls?" asked Patsy.
"No, dear; why should I go? Our work is done now, isn't it?"
"Well, I'm going to the polls and work for every vote," declared Patsy.
"I shan't be happy unless Kenneth gets more than eighteen majority."
When the Hopkins plot was explained to Mr. Burke, the detective readily
agreed to go to Fairview and see Mr. Marshall. As no time was to be lost
he was sent over in an automobile, and arrived at the mill just before
the hour for closing.
The next day being election day the mill was to be closed, and the
manager was very busy in his office when Mr. Burke requested to see him.
"You will have to come around Wednesday," said Marshall, fussily. "I
can't attend to you now."
"I'm sorry to disturb you, sir," replied the detective, "but my business
won't wait until Wednesday."
"What is it about, sir?"
"About the election."
"Then I won't be bothered. The election doesn't interest me," said Mr.
Marshall, turning away.
"Very well, I'll call Wednesday, sir, at the jail."
Marshall gave him a quick look.
"Who are you, sir?" he asked.
"John Burke, a detective."
The manager hesitated a moment.
"Come in, Mr. Burke," he said.
"I represent the Forbes interests," said the detective, seating himself
in the private office, "and it has come to our notice that Dr. Squiers
has permitted sixty-six fraudulent registrations to be entered on the
books. These sixty-six men are supposed to have been imported by you and
are now working at this mill."
"This is all nonsense!" protested the manager, growing pale.
"Forty men are sleeping in a near-by barn, and twenty-six in the
stock-room of the mill," added Mr. Burke.
"That isn't criminal, sir."
"No, indeed. The criminal act is their false registration, so far," said
the detective, blandly.
"But mark you, sir; if an attempt is made to vote those men tomorrow, I
shall arrest you, as well as Mr. Hopkins and Dr. Squiers."
"This is preposterous, sir!" blustered the manager. "There will be no
attempt made to vote them."
"I am quite sure of it," was the reply. "You may thank Mr. Forbes for
warning you in time. He wished to save you, and so sent me here."
"Oh, he did!" Mr. Marshall was evidently surprised. "May I ask how you
discovered all this?" he added.
"I am not at liberty to give you the details. But I may say the exposure
of the plot occurred through Mr. Hopkins's own carelessness. I've seen
lots of crooked politicians, Mr. Marshall, but this man is too reckless
and foolish ever to be a success. He deserves to be defeated and he will
The manager was thoughtful.
"This is all news to me," he declared. "I needed these extra men to help
me fill a contract on time, and so employed them. I had no idea Hopkins
and Squiers would try to vote them tomorrow."
This was a palpable falsehood, but Mr. Burke accepted the lame excuse
"You are a valuable man in this community, Mr. Marshall, and Mr. Forbes
seemed to think the Hopkins people were trying to get you into trouble.
Of course it would have caused trouble had these men voted."
"Of course, Mr. Burke. I'm much obliged to Mr. Forbes for warning me."
"You'll find the next Representative a very agreeable man to get along
with, Mr. Marshall. Good day, sir."
"Good day, Mr. Burke."
When the detective had gone Mr. Marshall sat in a brown study for a few
moments. Then he summoned his superintendent and said:
"Please ask the men to assemble in the yard before they go home. I want
to have a word with them."
The request came just in time, for the men were already beginning to
stream out of the mill. They waited good-naturedly, however, grouping
themselves in the big yard.
Then Marshall mounted a lumber pile and addressed them briefly.
"Boys," he said, "I told you all, a week or so ago, I'd like you to vote
for Hopkins for Representative, as I believed his election would result
in more work for the mill and better wages for the employees. But I've
been watching matters pretty closely, and I've changed my mind. Forbes
is a coming man, and he'll do more for us all than Hopkins could. So
every man who is entitled to vote will please me best by voting for
There was a cheer at this, and when it subsided, the manager continued:
"Of course none of the new men, who were not properly registered, have a
right to vote at this election, and I command them to keep away from the
polls. Anyone who attempts to vote illegally will be promptly arrested."
This caused more cheering, for the workmen had suspected that the new
hands would be voted illegally, and they were relieved to find that it
was a "square deal all 'round," as one of them remarked with
Meantime, Uncle John was having a "barrel of fun" with Mr. Hopkins.