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BY T. S. ARTHUR
AUTHOR OF "THREE YEARS IN A MAN-TRAP," "ORANGE BLOSSOMS," ETC., ETC.
NEW CASTLE, PA.:
SAN FRANCISCO, CAL.:
TO THE READER.
IN this romance of real life, in which the truth is stranger than
the fiction, I have lifted only in part the veil that hides the
victims of intemperance and other terrible vices--after they have
fallen to the lower deeps of degradation to be found in our large
cities, where the vile and degraded herd together more like wild
beasts than men and women--and told the story of sorrow, suffering,
crime and debasement as they really exist in Christian America with
all the earnestness and power that in me lies.
Strange and sad and terrible as are some of the scenes from which I
hare drawn this veil, I have not told the half of what exists. My
book, apart from the thread of fiction that runs through its pages,
is but a series of photographs from real life, and is less a work of
the imagination than a record of facts.
If it stirs the hearts of American readers profoundly, and so
awakens the people to a sense of their duty; if it helps to
inaugurate more earnest and radical modes of reform for a state of
society of which a distinguished author has said, "There is not a
country throughout the earth on which it would not bring a curse;
there is no religion upon the earth that it would not deny; there is
no people upon the earth it would not put to shame;"--then will not
my work be in vain.
Sitting in our comfortable homes with well-fed, well-clothed and
happy-hearted children about us--children who have our tenderest
care, whose cry of pain from a pin-prick or a fall on the carpeted
floor hurts us like a blow---how few of us know or care anything
about the homes in which some other children dwell, or of the hard
and cruel battle for life they are doomed to fight from the very
To get out from these comfortable homes and from the midst of
tenderly cared-for little ones, and stand face to face with squalor
and hunger, with suffering, debasement and crime, to look upon the
starved faces of children and hear their helpless cries, is what
scarcely one in a thousand will do. It is too much for our
sensibilities. And so we stand aloof, and the sorrow, and suffering,
the debasement, the wrong and the crime, go on, and because we heed
it not we vainly imagine that no responsibility lies at our door;
and yet there is no man or woman who is not, according to the
measure of his or her influence, responsible for the human
debasement and suffering I have portrayed.
The task I set for myself has not been a pleasant one. It has hurt
my sensibilities and sickened my heart many times as I stood face to
face with the sad and awful degradation that exists in certain
regions of our larger cities; and now that my work is done, I take a
deep breath of relief. The result is in your hands, good citizen,
Christian reader, earnest philanthropist! If it stirs your heart in
the reading as it stirred mine in the writing, it will not die
CHAPTER I. The unwelcome babe--The defrauded young mother--The
struggle between life and death--"Your baby is in heaven"--A brief
retrospect--A marriage for social position--An ambitious wife and a
disappointed husband--The young daughter--The matrimonial
market--The Circassian slaves of modern society--The highest
bidder--Disappearance--The old sad story--Secret marriage--The
letters--Disappointed ambition--Interview between the parents--The
mother's purpose--"Baffled, but not defeated"--The father's
surprise--The returned daughter--Forgiven--"I am not going away
again, father dear"--Insecurity and distrust
CHAPTER II. The hatred of a bad woman--Mrs. Dinneford's plans for
the destruction of Granger--Starting in business--Plots of Mrs.
Dinneford and Freeling--The discounted notes--The trap--Granger's
suspicions aroused--Forgery--Mrs. Dinneford relentless--The
arrest--Fresh evidence of crime upon Granger's person--The shock to
Edith--"That night her baby was born"
CHAPTER III. "It is a splendid boy"--A convenient, non-interfering
family doctor--Cast adrift--Into the world in a basket, unnamed and
disowned--Edith's second struggle back to life--Her mind a
blank--Granger convicted of forgery--Seeks to gain knowledge of his
child--The doctor's evasion and ignorance--An insane asylum instead
of State's prison--Edith's slow return to intelligence--"There's
something I can't understand, mother"--"Where is my baby?"--"What of
George?"--No longer a child, but a broken hearted woman--The divorce
CHAPTER IV. Sympathy between father and daughter--Interest in public
charities--A dreadful sight--A sick babe in the arms of a
half-drunken woman--"Is there no law to meet such cases?"---"The
poor baby has no vote!"--Edith seeks for the grave of her child, but
cannot find it--She questions her mother, who baffles her
curiosity--Mrs. Bray's visit--Interview between Mrs. Dinneford and
Mrs. Bray--"The baby isn't living?"--"Yes; I saw it day before
yesterday in the arms of a beggar-woman"--Edith's suspicions
aroused--Determined to discover the fate of her child--Visits the
doctor--"Your baby is in heaven"--"Would to God it were so, for I
saw a baby in hell not long ago!"
CHAPTER V. Mrs. Dinneford visits Mrs. Bray--"The woman to whom you
gave that baby was here yesterday"--The woman must be put out of the
way--Exit Mrs. Dinneford, enter Pinky Swett--"You know your
fate--New Orleans and the yellow fever"--"All I want of you is to
keep track of the baby"--Division of the spoils--Lucky
dreams--Consultation of the dream-book for lucky figures--Sam
McFaddon and his backer, who "drives in the Park and wears a two
thousand dollar diamond pin"--The fate of a baby begged with--The
baby must not die--The lottery-policies
CHAPTER VI. Rottenness at the heart of a great city--Pinky Swett's
attempted rescue of a child from cruel beating--The fight--Pinky's
arrest--Appearance of the "queen"--Pinky's release at her
command--The queen's home--The screams of children being beaten--The
rescue of "Flanagan's Nell"--Death the great rescuer--"They don't
look after things in here as they do outside--Everybody's got the
screws on, and things must break sometimes, but it isn't called
murder--The coroner understands it all"
CHAPTER VII. Pinky Swett at the mercy of the crowd in the
street--Taken to the nearest station-house--Mrs. Dinneford visits
Mrs. Bray again--Fresh alarms--"She's got you in her power"---"Money
is of no account"--The knock at the door--Mrs. Dinneford in
hiding--The visitor gone--Mrs. Bray reports the woman insatiable in
her demands--Must have two hundred dollars by sundown--No way of
escape except through police interference--"People who deal with the
devil generally have the devil to pay"--Suspicion--A mistake--Sound
of feet upon the stairs--Mrs. Dinneford again in hiding--Enter Pinky
Swett--Pinky disposed of--Mrs. Dinneford again released--Mrs. Bray's
strategy--"Let us be friends still, Mrs. Bray"--Mrs. Dinneford's
deprecation and humiliation--Mrs. Bray's triumph
CHAPTER VIII. Mrs. Bray receives a package containing two hundred
dollars--"Poor baby! I must see better to its comfort"--Pinky meets
a young girl from the country--The "Ladies' Restaurant"--Fried
oysters and sangaree--The "bindery" girl--"My head feels
strangely"--Through the back alley--The ten-cent lodging
house--Robbery--A second robbery--A veil drawn--A wild prolonged cry
of a woman--The policeman listens only for a moment, and then passes
on--Foul play--"In all our large cities are savages more cruel and
brutal in their instincts than the Comanches"--Who is responsible?
CHAPTER IX. Valuation of the spoils--The receiver--The "policy-shop"
and its customers--A victim of the lottery mania
CHAPTER X. "Policy-drunkards"--A newly-appointed policeman's
blunder--The end of a "policy-drunkard"--Pinky and her friend in
consultation over "a cast-off baby in Dirty alley"--"If you can't
get hush-money out of its mother, you can bleed Fanny Bray"--The way
to starve a baby--Pinky moves her quarters without the use of "a
dozen furniture cars"--A baby's home--The baby's night nurse--The
baby's supper--The baby's bed--How the baby's money is spent--Where
the baby's nurse passes the night--The baby's disappearance
CHAPTER XI. Reserve between mother and daughter--Mrs. Dinneford
disapproves of Edith's charitable visits--Mrs. Dinneford meets
Freeling by appointment at a hotel--"There's trouble brewing"--"A
letter from George Granger"--Accused of conspiracy--Possibility of
Granger's pardon by the governor--An ugly business--In great
peril--Freeling's threats of exposure--A hint of an alternative
CHAPTER XII. Mr. Freeling fails to appear at his place of
business--Examination of his bank accounts--It is discovered that he
has borrowed largely of his friends--Mrs. Dinneford has supplied him
$20,000 from her private purse--Mrs. Dinneford falls sick, and
temporarily loses her reason--"I told you her name was Gray--Gray,
not Bray"--Half disclosures--Recovery--Mother and daughter mutually
suspicious--The visitor--Mrs. Dinneford equal to the
emergency--Edith thrown off the track
CHAPTER XIII. Edith is satisfied that her babe is alive--She has a
desire to teach the children of the poor--"My baby may become like
one of these"--She hears of a baby which has been stolen--Resolves
to go and see it, and to apply to Mr. Paulding of the Briar street
mission for assistance in her attempt--Mr. Paulding persuades her
that it is best not to see the child, and promises that he himself
will look after it--Returns home--Her father remonstrates with her,
finally promises to help her
CHAPTER XIV. Mr. Dinneford sets out for the mission-house--An
incident on the way--Encounters Mr. Paulding--Mr. Paulding makes his
report--"The vicious mark their offspring with unmistakable signs of
moral depravity; this baby has signs of a better origin"--A
profitable conversation--"I think you had better act promptly"
CHAPTER XV. Mr. Dinneford with a policeman goes in quest of the
baby--The baby is gone--Inquiries--Mr. Dinneford resolves to
persevere--Cause of the baby's disappearance--Pinky Swett's
curiosity--Change of baby's nurse--Baby's improved condition--Baby's
first experience of motherly tenderness--Baby's first smile--"Such
beautiful eyes"--Pinky Swett visits the St. John mission-school--
Edith is not there
CHAPTER XVI. Mr. Dinneford's return, and Edith's disappointment--"It
is somebody's baby, and it may be mine"--An unsuspected
listener--Mrs. Dinneford acts promptly--Conference between Mrs.
Dinneford and Mrs. Hoyt, _alias_ Bray--The child must be got out of
the way--"If it will not starve, it must drown"--Mrs. Dinneford sees
an acquaintance as she leaves Mrs. Hoyt's, and endeavors to escape
his observation--A new danger and disgrace awaiting her
CHAPTER XVII. Mental conditions of mother and daughter--Mr.
Dinneford aroused to a sense of his moral responsibilities--The
heathen in our midst--The united evil of policy-lotteries and
whisky-shops--The education of the policy-shops
CHAPTER XVIII. News item: "A child drowned"--Another news item:
Pinky Swett sentenced to prison for robbery--Baby's improved
condition--Mrs. Burke's efforts to retain the baby after Pinky
Swett's imprisonment--Baby Andy's rough life in the street--Mrs.
Burke's death--Cast upon the world--Andy's adventures--He finds a
home and a friend
CHAPTER XIX. Mr. Dinneford visits the mission-school--A comparison
of the present with the past--The first mission-school--
Reminiscences of the school in its early days--The zealous
scholar--Good effects of the mission--"Get the burning brands
apart, or interpose incombustible things between them"--An
illustration--"Let in light, and the darkness flees"
CHAPTER XX. "The man awoke and felt the child against his bosom,
soft and warm"--Led by a little child--"God being my helper, I will
be a man again"--A new life--Meeting of an old friend--A friend in
need--Food, clothes, work--A new home--God's strength our only
CHAPTER XXI. Intimate relations of physical and moral purity--Blind
Jake--The harvest of the thieves and beggars--Inconsiderate
charity--Beggary a vice--"The deserving poor are never common
beggars"--"To help the evil is to hurt the good" The malignant ulcer
in the body politic of our city--The breeding-places of epidemics
and malignant diseases--Little Italian street musicians--The
existence of slavery in our midst--Facts in regard to it
CHAPTER XXII. Edith's continued interest in the children of the
poor--Christmas dinner at the mission-house--Edith perceives Andy,
and feels a strange attraction toward him--Andy's disappearance
after dinner--Pinky Swett has been seen dragging him away--Lost
CHAPTER XXIII. Christmas dinner at Mr. Dinneford's--The dropped
letter--It is missed--A scene of wild excitement--Mrs. Dinneford's
sudden death--Edith reads the letter--A
revelation--"Innocent!"--Edith is called to her mother--"Dead, and
better so!"--Granger's innocence established--An agony of
affection--No longer Granger's wife
CHAPTER XXIV. Edith's sickness--Meeting of Mrs. Bray and Pinky
Swett--A trial of sharpness, in which neither gains the
advantage--Mr. Dinneford receives a call from a lady--The lady, who
is Mrs. Bray, offers information--Mr. Dinneford surprises her into
admitting an important fact--Mrs. Bray offers to produce the child
for a price--Mr. Dinneford consents to pay the price on certain
stipulations--Mrs. Bray departs, promising to come again
CHAPTER XXV. Granger's pardon procured--How he receives his
pardon--Mrs. Bray tries to trace Pinky home--Loses sight of her in
the street--Mrs. Bray interviews a shop-woman--Pinky's
destination--The child is gone
CHAPTER XXVI. Mrs. Bray does not call on Mr. Dinneford, as she
promised--Peril to Andrew Hall through loss of the
child--Help--Edith longs to see or write to Granger, but does
not--Edith encounters Mrs. Bray in the street--"Where is my
baby?"--Disappointment--How to identify the child if found
CHAPTER XXVII. No trace of Andy--Account of Andy's abduction--Andy's
prison--An outlook from prison--A loose nail--The escape--The
sprained ankle--The accident
CHAPTER XXVIII. Edith's visit to the children's hospital--"Oh, my
baby! thank God! my baby!"--The identification
CHAPTER XXIX. Meeting of Mr. Dinneford and George Granger--"We want
you to help us find your child"--"Edith's heart is calling out for
you"--The meeting--The marriage benediction
_A BABY_ had come, but he was not welcome. Could anything be sadder?
The young mother lay with her white face to the wall, still as
death. A woman opened the chamber door noiselessly and came in, the
faint rustle of her garments disturbing the quiet air.
A quick, eager turning of the head, a look half anxious, half
fearful, and then the almost breathless question,
"Where is my baby?"
"Never mind about the baby," was answered, almost coldly; "he's well
enough. I'm more concerned about you."
"Have you sent word to George?"
"George can't see you. I've said that before."
"Oh, mother! I must see my husband."
"Husband!" The tone of bitter contempt with which the word was
uttered struck the daughter like a blow. She had partly risen in her
excitement, but now fell back with a low moan, shutting her eyes and
turning her face away. Even as she did so, a young man stepped back
from the door of the elegant house in which she lay with a baffled,
disappointed air. He looked pale and wretched.
"Edith!" Two hours afterward the doctor stood over the young mother,
and called her name. She did not move nor reply. He laid his hand on
her cheek, and almost started, then bent down and looked at her
intently for a moment or two. She had fever. A serious expression
came into his face, and there was cause.
The sweet rest and heavenly joy of maternity had been denied to his
young patient. The new-born babe had not been suffered to lie even
for one blissful moment on her bosom. Hard-hearted family pride and
cruel worldliness had robbed her of the delight with which God ever
seeks to dower young motherhood, and now the overtaxed body and
brain had given way.
For many weeks the frail young creature struggled with
delirium--struggled and overcame.
"Where is my baby?"
The first thought of returning consciousness was of her baby.
A woman who sat in a distant part of the chamber started up and
crossed to the bed. She was past middle life, of medium stature,
with small, clearly cut features and cold blue eyes. Her mouth was
full, but very firm. Self-poise was visible even in her surprised
movements. She bent over the bed and looked into Edith's wistful
"Where is my baby, mother?" Mrs. Dinneford put her fingers lightly
on Edith's lips.
"You must be very quiet," she said, in a low, even voice. "The
doctor forbids all excitement. You have been extremely ill."
"Can't I see my baby, mother? It won't hurt me to see my baby."
"Not now. The doctor--"
Edith half arose in bed, a look of doubt and fear coming into her
"I want my baby, mother," she said, interrupting her.
A hard, resolute expression came into the cold blue eyes of Mrs.
Dinneford. She put her hand firmly against Edith and pressed her
back upon the pillow.
"You have been very ill for nearly two months," she said, softening
her voice. "No one thought you could live. Thank God! the crisis is
over, but not the danger."
"Two months! Oh, mother!"
The slight flush that had come into Edith's wan face faded out, and
the pallor it had hidden for a few moments became deeper. She shut
her eyes and lay very still, but it was plain from the expression of
her face that thought was busy.
"Not two whole months, mother?" she said, at length, in doubtful
tones. "Oh no! it cannot be."
"It is just as I have said, Edith; and now, my dear child, as you
value your life, keep quiet; all excitement is dangerous."
But repression was impossible. To Edith's consciousness there was no
lapse of time. It seemed scarcely an hour since the birth of her
baby and its removal from her sight. The inflowing tide of
mother-love, the pressure and yearning sweetness of which she had
begun to feel when she first called for the baby they had not
permitted to rest, even for an instant, on her bosom, was now
flooding her heart. Two months! If that were so, what of the baby?
To be submissive was impossible.
Starting up half wildly, a vague terror in her face, she cried,
"Oh, mother, bring me my baby. I shall die if you do not!"
"Your baby is in heaven," said Mrs. Dinneford, softening her voice
to a tone of tender regret.
Edith caught her breath, grew very white, and then, with a low,
wailing cry that sent a shiver through Mrs. Dinneford's heart, fell
back, to all appearance dead.
The mother did not call for help, but sat by the bedside of her
daughter, and waited for the issue of this new struggle between life
and death. There was no visible excitement, but her mouth was
closely set and her cold blue eyes fixed in a kind of vacant stare.
Edith was Mrs. Dinneford's only child, and she had loved her with
the strong, selfish love of a worldly and ambitious woman. In her
own marriage she had not consulted her heart. Mr. Dinneford's social
position and wealth were to her far more than his personal
endowments. She would have rejected him without a quicker pulse-beat
if these had been all he had to offer. He was disappointed, she was
not. Strong, self-asserting, yet politic, Mrs Dinneford managed her
good husband about as she pleased in all external matters, and left
him to the free enjoyment of his personal tastes, preferences and
friendships. The house they lived in, the furniture it contained,
the style and equipage assumed by the family, were all of her
choice, Mr. Dinneford giving merely a half-constrained or
half-indifferent consent. He had learned, by painful and sometimes.
humiliating experience, that any contest with Mrs. Helen Dinneford
upon which he might enter was sure to end in his defeat.
He was a man of fine moral and intellectual qualities. His wealth
gave him leisure, and his tastes, feelings and habits of thought
drew him into the society of some of the best men in the city where
he lived--best in the true meaning of that word. In all enlightened
social reform movements you would be sure of finding Mr. Howard
Dinneford. He was an active and efficient member in many boards of
public charity, and highly esteemed in them all for his enlightened
philanthropy and sound judgment. Everywhere but at home he was
strong and influential; there he was weak, submissive and of little
account. He had long ago accepted the situation, making a virtue of
necessity. A different man--one of stronger will and a more
imperious spirit--would have held his own, even though it wrought
bitterness and sorrow. But Mr. Dinneford's aversion to strife, and
gentleness toward every one, held him away from conflict, and so his
home was at least tranquil.
Mrs. Dinneford had her own way, and so long as her husband made no
strong opposition to that way all was peaceful.
For Edith, their only child, who was more like her father than her
mother, Mr. Dinneford had the tenderest regard. The well-springs of
love, choked up so soon after his marriage, were opened freely
toward his daughter, and he lived in her a new, sweet and satisfying
life. The mother was often jealous of her husband's demonstrative
tenderness for Edith. A yearning instinct of womanhood, long
repressed by worldliness and a mean social ambition, made her crave
at times the love she had cast away, and then her cup of life was
very bitter. But fear of Mr. Dinneford's influence over Edith was
stronger than any jealousy of his love. She had high views for her
daughter. In her own marriage she had set aside all considerations
but those of social rank. She had made it a stepping-stone to a
higher place in society than the one to which she was born. Still,
above them stood many millionnaire families, living in palace-homes,
and through her daughter she meant to rise into one of them. It
mattered not for the personal quality of the scion of the house; he
might be as coarse and common as his father before him, or weak,
mean, selfish, and debased by sensual indulgence. This was of little
account. To lift Edith to the higher social level was the all in all
of Mrs. Dinneford's ambition.
But Mr. Dinneford taught Edith a nobler life-lesson than this, gave
her better views of wedlock, pictured for her loving heart the bliss
of a true marriage, sighing often as he did so, but unconsciously,
at the lost fruition of his own sweet hopes. He was careful to do
this only when alone with Edith, guarding his speech when Mrs.
Dinneford was present. He had faith in true principles, and with
these he sought to guard her life. He knew that she would be pushed
forward into society, and knew but too well that one so pure and
lovely in mind as well as person would become a centre of
attraction, and that he, standing on the outside as it were, would
have no power to save her from the saddest of all fates if she were
passive and her mother resolute. Her safety must lie in herself.
Edith was brought out early. Mrs. Dinneford could not wait. At
seventeen she was thrust into society, set up for sale to the
highest bidder, her condition nearer that of a Circassian than a
Christian maiden, with her mother as slave-dealer.
So it was and so, it is. You may see the thing every day. But it did
not come out according to Mrs. Dinneford's programme. There was a
highest bidder; but when he came for his slave, she was not to be
Well, the story is trite and brief--the old sad story. Among her
suitors was a young man named Granger, and to him Edith gave her
heart. But the mother rejected him with anger and scorn. He was not
rich, though belonging to a family of high character, and so fell
far below her requirements. Under a pressure that almost drove the
girl to despair, she gave her consent to a marriage that looked more
terrible than death. A month before the time fixed for, its
consummation, she barred the contract by a secret union with
Edith knew her mother's character too well to hope for any
reconciliation, so far as Mr. Granger was concerned. Coming in as he
had done between her and the consummation of her highest ambition,
she could never feel toward him anything but the most bitter hatred;
and so, after remaining at home for about a week after her secret
marriage, she wrote this brief letter to her mother and went away:
"My DEAR MOTHER: I do not love Spencer Wray, and would rather die
than marry him, and so I have made the marriage to which my heart
has never consented, an impossibility. You have left me no other
alternative but this. I am the wife of George Granger, and go to
cast my lot with his.
"Your loving daughter,
To her father she wrote:
"My DEAR, DEAR FATHER: If I bring sorrow to your good and loving
heart by what I have done, I know that it will be tempered with joy
at my escape from a union with one from whom my soul has ever turned
with irrepressible dislike. Oh, my father, you can understand, if
mother cannot, into what a desperate strait I have been brought. I
am a deer hunted to the edge of a dizzy chasm, and I leap for life
over the dark abyss, praying for strength to reach the farther edge.
If I fail in the wild effort, I can only meet destruction; and I
would rather be bruised to death on the jagged rocks than trust
myself to the hounds and hunters. I write passionately--you will
hardly recognize your quiet child; but the repressed instincts of my
nature are strong, and peril and despair have broken their bonds. I
did not consult you about the step I have taken, because I dared not
trust you with my secret. You would have tried to hold me back from
the perilous leap, fondly hoping for some other way of escape. I had
resolved on putting an impassable gulf between me and danger, if I
died in the attempt. I have taken the leap, and may God care for me!
"I have laid up in my heart of hearts, dearest of fathers, the
precious life-truths that so often fell from your lips. Not a word
that you ever said about the sacredness of marriage has been
forgotten. I believe with you that it is a little less than crime to
marry when no love exists--that she who does so, sells her heart's
birthright for some mess of pottage, sinks down from the pure level
of noble womanhood, and traffics away her person, is henceforth
meaner in quality if not really vile.
"And so, my father, to save myself from such a depth of degradation
and misery, I take my destiny into my own hands. I have grown very
strong in my convictions and purposes in the last four weeks. My
sight has become suddenly clear. I am older by many years.
"As for George Granger, all I can now say is that I love him, and
believe him to be worthy of my love. I am willing to trust him, and
am ready to share his lot, however humble.
"Still hold me in your heart, my precious father, as I hold you in
Mr. Dinneford read this letter twice. It took him some time, his
eyes were so full of tears. In view of her approaching marriage with
Spencer Wray, his heart had felt very heavy. It was something
lighter now. Young Granger was not the man he would have chosen for
Edith, but he liked him far better than he did the other, and felt
that his child was safe now.
He went to his wife's room, and found her with Edith's letter
crushed in her hand. She was sitting motionless, her face pale and
rigid, her eyes fixed and stony and her lips tight against her
teeth. She did not seem to notice his presence until he put his hand
upon her, which he did without speaking. At this she started up and
looked at him with a kind of fierce intentness.
"Are you a party to this frightful things?" she demanded.
Mr. Dinneford weakly handed her the letter he had received from
Edith. She read it through in half the time it had taken his
tear-dimmed eyes to make out the touching sentences. After she had
done so, she stood for a few moments as if surprised or baffled.
Then she sat down, dropping her head, and remained for a long time
"The bitter fruit, Mr. Dinneford," she said, at last, in a voice so
strange and hard that it seemed to his ears as if another had
spoken. All passion had died out of it.
He waited, but she added nothing more. After a long silence she
waved her hand slightly, and without looking at her husband, said,
"I would rather be alone."
Mr. Dinneford took Edith's letter from the floor, where it had
dropped from his wife's hand, and withdrew from her presence. She
arose quickly as he did so, crossed the room and silently turned the
key, locking herself in. Then her manner changed; she moved about
the room in a half-aimless, half-conscious way, as though some
purpose was beginning to take shape in her mind. Her motions had an
easy, cat-like grace, in contrast with their immobility a little
while before. Gradually her step became quicker, while ripples of
feeling began to pass over her face, which was fast losing its
pallor. Gleams of light began shooting from her eyes, that were so
dull and stony when her husband found her with Edith's letter
crushed in her grasp. Her hands opened and shut upon themselves
nervously. This went on, the excitement of her forming purpose,
whatever it was, steadily increasing, until she swept about the room
like a fury, talking to herself and gesticulating as one half insane
from the impelling force of an evil passion.
"Baffled, but not defeated." The excitement had died out. She spoke
these words aloud, and with a bitter satisfaction in her voice, then
sat down, resting her face in her hands, and remaining for a long
time in deep thought.
When she met her husband, an hour afterward, there was a veil over
her face, and he tried in vain to look beneath it. She was greatly
changed; her countenance had a new expression--something he had
never seen there before. For years she had been growing away from
him; now she seemed like one removed to a great distance--to have
become almost stranger. He felt half afraid of her. She did not
speak of Edith, but remained cold, silent and absorbed.
Mrs. Dinneford gave no sign of what was in her heart for many weeks.
The feeling of distance and strangeness perceived by her husband
went on increasing, until a vague feeling of mystery and fear began
to oppress him. Several times he had spoken of Edith, but his wife
made no response, nor could he read in her veiled face the secret
purposes she was hiding from him.
No wonder that Mr. Dinneford was greatly surprised and overjoyed, on
coming home one day, to meet his daughter, to feel her arms about
his neck, and to hold her tearful face on his bosom.
"And I'm not going away again, father dear," she said as she kissed
him fondly. "Mother has sent for me, and George is to come. Oh, we
shall be so happy, so happy!"
And father and daughter cried together, like two happy children, in
very excess of gladness. They had met alone, but Mrs. Dinneford came
in, her presence falling on them like a cold shadow.
"Two great babies," she said, a covert sneer in her chilling voice.
The joy went slowly out of their faces, though not out of their
hearts. There it nestled, and warmed the renewing blood. But a
vague, questioning fear began to creep in, a sense of insecurity, a
dread of hidden danger. The daughter did not fully trust her mother,
nor the husband his wife.
_THE_ reception of young Granger was as cordial as Mrs. Dinneford
chose to make it. She wanted to get near enough to study his
character thoroughly, to discover its weaknesses and defects, not
its better qualities, so that she might do for him the evil work
that was in her heart. She hated him with a bitter hatred, and there
is nothing so subtle and tireless and unrelenting as the hatred of a
She found him weak and unwary. His kindly nature, his high sense of
honor, his upright purpose, his loving devotion to Edith, were
nothing in her eyes. She spurned them in her thoughts, she trampled
them under her feet with scorn. But she studied his defects, and
soon knew every weak point in his character. She drew him out to
speak of himself, of his aims and prospects, of his friends and
associates, until she understood him altogether. Then she laid her
plans for his destruction.
Granger was holding a clerkship at the time of his marriage, but was
anxious to get a start for himself. He had some acquaintance with a
man named Lloyd Freeling, and often spoke of him in connection with
business. Freeling had a store on one of the best streets, and, as
represented by himself, a fine run of trade, but wanted more
capital. One day he said to Granger,
"If I could find the right man with ten thousand dollars, I would
take him in. We could double this business in a year."
Granger repeated the remark at home, Mrs. Dinneford listened, laid
it up in her thought, and on the next day called at the store of Mr.
Freeling to see what manner of man he was.
Her first impression was favorable--she liked him. On a second visit
she likes him better. She was not aware that Freeling knew her; in
this he had something of the advantage. A third time she dropped in,
asking to see certain goods and buying a small bill, as before. This
time she drew Mr. Freeling into conversation about business, and put
some questions the meaning of which he understood quite as well as
A woman like Mrs. Dinneford can read character almost as easily as
she can read a printed page, particularly a weak or bad character.
She knew perfectly, before the close of this brief interview, that
Freeling was a man without principle, false and unscrupulous, and
that if Granger were associated with him in business, he could, if
he chose, not only involve him in transactions of a dishonest
nature, but throw upon him the odium and the consequences.
"Do you think," she said to Granger, not long afterward, "that your
friend, Mr. Freeling, would like to have you for a partner in
The question surprised and excited him.
"I know it," he returned; "he has said so more than once."
"How much capital would he require?"
"Ten thousand dollars."
"A large sum to risk."
"Yes; but I do not think there will be any risk. The business is
"What do you know about Mr. Freeling?"
"Not a great deal; but if I am any judge of character, he is fair
Mrs. Dinneford turned her head that Granger might not see the
expression of her face.
"You had better talk with Mr. Dinneford," she said.
But Mr. Dinneford did not favor it. He had seen too many young men
go into business and fail.
So the matter was dropped for a little while. But Mrs. Dinneford had
set her heart on the young man's destruction, and no better way of
accomplishing the work presented itself than this. He must be
involved in some way to hurt his good name, to blast his reputation
and drive him to ruin. Weak, trusting and pliable, a specious
villain in whom he had confidence might easily get him involved in
transactions that were criminal under the law. She would be willing
to sacrifice twice ten thousand dollars to accomplish this result.
Neither Mr. Dinneford nor Edith favored the business connection with
Freeling, and said all they could against it. In weak natures we
often find great pertinacity. Granger had this quality. He had set
his mind on the copartnership, and saw in it a high road to fortune,
and no argument of Mr. Dinneford, nor opposition of Edith, had power
to change his views, or to hold him back from the arrangement
favored by Mrs. Dinneford, and made possible by the capital she
almost compelled her husband to supply.
In due time the change from clerk to merchant was made, and the new
connection announced, under the title of "FREELING & GRANGER."
Clear seeing as evil may be in its schemes for hurting others, it is
always blind to the consequent exactions upon itself; it strikes
fiercely and desperately, not calculating the force of a rebound. So
eager was Mrs. Dinneford to compass the ruin of Granger that she
stepped beyond the limit of common prudence, and sought private
interviews with Freeling, both before and after the completion of
the partnership arrangement. These took place in the parlor of a
fashionable hotel, where the gentleman and lady seemed to meet
accidentally, and without attracting attention.
Mrs. Dinneford was very confidential in these interviews not
concealing her aversion to Granger. He had come into the family, she
said, as an unwelcome intruder; but now that he was there, they had
to make the best of him. Not in spoken words did Mrs. Dinneford
convey to Freeling the bitter hatred that was in her heart, nor in
spoken words let him know that she desired the young man's utter
ruin, but he understood it all before the close of their first
private interview. Freeling was exceedingly deferential in the
beginning and guarded in his speech. He knew by the quick intuitions
of his nature that Mrs. Dinneford cherished an evil purpose, and had
chosen him as the agent for its accomplishment. She was rich, and
occupied a high social position, and his ready conclusion was that,
be the service what it might, he could make it pay. To get such a
woman in his power was worth an effort.
One morning--it was a few months after the date of the
copartnership--Mrs. Dinneford received a note from Freeling. It
"At the usual place, 12 M. to-day. Important." There was no
The sharp knitting of her brows and the nervous crumpling of the
note in her hand showed that she was not pleased at the summons. She
had come already to know her partner in evil too well. At 12 M. she
was in the hotel parlor. Freeling was already there. They met in
external cordiality, but it was very evident from the manner of Mrs.
Dinneford, that she felt herself in the man's power, and had learned
to be afraid of him.
"It will be impossible to get through to-morrow," he said, in a kind
of imperative voice, that was half a threat, "unless we have two
"I cannot ask Mr. Dinneford for anything more," Mrs. Dinneford
replied; "we have already furnished ten thousand dollars beyond the
"But it is all safe enough--that is, if we do not break down just
here for lack of so small a sum."
Mrs. Dinneford gave a start.
"Break down!" She repeated the words in a husky, voice, with a
paling face. "What do you mean?"
"Only that in consequence of having in store a large stock of
unsalable goods bought by your indiscreet son-in-law, who knows no
more about business than a child, we are in a temporary strait."
"Why did you trust him to buy?" asked Mrs. Dinneford.
"I didn't trust him. He bought without consulting me," was replied,
"Will two thousand be the end of this thing?"
"I think so."
"You only think so?"
"I am sure of it."
"Very well; I will see what can be done. But all this must have an
end, Mr. Freeling. We cannot supply any more money. You must look
elsewhere if you have further need. Mr. Dinneford is getting very
much annoyed and worried. You surely have other resources."
"I have drawn to the utmost on all my resources," said the man,
Mrs. Dinneford remained silent for a good while, her eyes upon the
floor. Freeling watched her face intently, trying to read what was
in her thoughts. At last she said, in a suggestive tone,
"There are many ways of getting money known to business-men--a
little risky some of them, perhaps, but desperate cases require
desperate expedients. You understand me?"
Freeling took a little time to consider before replying.
"Yes," he said, at length, speaking slowly, as one careful of his
words. "But all expedients are 'risky,' as you say--some of them
very risky. It takes a long, cool head to manage them safely."
"I don't know a longer or cooler head than yours," returned Mrs.
Dinneford, a faint smile playing about her lips.
"Thank you for the compliment," said Freeling, his lips reflecting
the smile on hers.
"You must think of some expedient." Mrs. Dinneford's manner grew
impressive. She spoke with emphasis and deliberation. "Beyond the
sum of two thousand dollars, which I will get for you by to-morrow,
I shall not advance a single penny. You may set that down as sure.
If you are not sharp enough and strong enough, with the advantage
you possess, to hold your own, then you must go under; as for me, I
have done all that I can or will."
Freeling saw that she was wholly in earnest, and understood what she
meant by "desperate expedients." Granger was to be ruined, and she
was growing impatient of delay. He had no desire to hurt the young
man--he rather liked him. Up to this time he had been content with
what he could draw out of Mrs. Dinneford. There was no risk in this
sort of business. Moreover, he enjoyed his interviews and
confidences with the elegant lady, and of late the power he seemed
to be gaining over her; this power he regarded as capital laid up
for another use, and at another time.
But it was plain that he had reached the end of his present
financial policy, and must decide whether to adopt the new one
suggested by Mrs. Dinneford or make a failure, and so get rid of his
partner. The question he had to settle with himself was whether he
could make more by a failure than by using Granger a while longer,
and then throwing him overboard, disgraced and ruined. Selfish and
unscrupulous as he was, Freeling hesitated to do this. And besides,
the "desperate expedients" he would have to adopt in the new line of
policy were fraught with peril to all who took part in them. He
might fall into the snare set for another--might involve himself so
deeply as not to find a way of escape.
"To-morrow we will talk this matter over," he said in reply to Mrs.
Dinneford's last remark; "in the mean time I will examine the ground
thoroughly and see how it looks."
"Don't hesitate to make any use you can of Granger," suggested the
lady. "He has done his part toward getting things tangled, and must
help to untangle them."
"All right, ma'am."
And they separated, Mrs. Dinneford reaching the street by one door
of the hotel, and Freeling by another.
On the following day they met again, Mrs. Dinneford bringing the two
"And now what next?" she asked, after handing over the money and
taking the receipt of "Freeling & Granger." Her eyes had a hard
glitter, and her face was almost stern in its expression. "How are
you going to raise money and keep afloat?"
"Only some desperate expedient is left me now," answered Freeling,
though not in the tone of a man who felt himself at bay. It was said
with a wicked kind of levity.
Mrs. Dinneford looked at him keenly. She was beginning to mistrust
the man. They gazed into each other's faces in silence for some
moments, each trying to read what was in the other's thought. At
length Freeling said,
"There is one thing more that you will have to do, Mrs. Dinneford."
"What?" she asked.
"Get your husband to draw two or three notes in Mr. Granger's favor.
They should not be for less than five hundred or a thousand dollars
each. The dates must be short--not over thirty or sixty days."
"It can't be done," was the emphatic answer.
"It must be done," replied Freeling; "they need not be for the
business. You can manage the matter if you will; your daughter wants
an India shawl, or a set of diamonds, or a new carriage--anything
you choose. Mr. Dinneford hasn't the ready cash, but we can throw
his notes into bank and get the money; don't you see?"
But Mrs. Dinneford didn't see.
"I don't mean," said Freeling, "that we are to use the money. Let
the shawl, or the diamond, or the what-not, be bought and paid for.
We get the discounts for your use, not ours."
"All very well," answered Mrs. Dinneford; "but how is that going to
"Leave that to me. You get the notes," said Freeling.
"Never walk blindfold, Mr. Freeling," replied the lady, drawing
herself up, with a dignified air. "We ought to understand each other
by this time. I must see beyond the mere use of these notes."
Freeling shut his mouth tightly and knit his heavy brows. Mrs.
Dinneford watched him, closely.
"It's a desperate expedient," he said, at length.
"All well as far as that is concerned; but if I am to have a hand in
it, I must know all about it," she replied, firmly. "As I said just
now, I never walk blindfold."
Freeling leaned close to Mrs. Dinneford, and uttered a few sentences
in a low tone, speaking rapidly. The color went and came in her
face, but she sat motionless, and so continued for some time after
he had ceased speaking.
"You will get the notes?" Freeling put the question as one who has
little doubt of the answer.
"I will get them," replied Mrs. Dinneford.
"It will take time."
"We cannot wait long. If the thing is done at all, it must be done
quickly. 'Strike while the iron is hot' is the best of all maxims."
"There shall be no needless delay on my part. You may trust me for
that," was answered.
Within a week Mrs. Dinneford brought two notes, drawn by her husband
in favor of George Granger--one for five hundred and the other for
one thousand dollars. The time was short--thirty and sixty days. On
this occasion she came to the store and asked for her son-in-law.
The meeting between her and Freeling was reserved and formal. She
expressed regret for the trouble she was giving the firm in
procuring a discount for her use, and said that if she could
reciprocate the favor in any way she would be happy to do so.
"The notes are drawn to your order," remarked Freeling as soon as
the lady had retired. Granger endorsed them, and was about handing
them to his partner, when the latter said:
"Put our name on them while you are about it." And the young man
wrote also the endorsement of the firm.
After this, Mr. Freeling put the bank business into Granger's hands.
Nearly all checks were drawn and all business paper endorsed by the
younger partner, who became the financier of the concern, and had
the management of all negotiations for money in and out of bank.
One morning, shortly after the first of Mr. Dinneford's notes was
paid, Granger saw his mother-in-law come into the store. Freeling
was at the counter. They talked together for some time, and then
Mrs. Dinneford went out.
On the next day Granger saw Mrs. Dinneford in the store again. After
she had gone away, Freeling came back, and laying a note-of-hand on
his partner's desk, said, in a pleased, confidential way.
"Look at that, my friend."
Granger read the face of the note with a start of surprise. It was
drawn to his order, for three thousand dollars, and bore the
signature of Howard Dinneford.
"A thing that is worth having is worth asking for," said Freeling.
"We obliged your mother-in-law, and now she has returned the favor.
It didn't come very easily, she said, and your father-in-law isn't
feeling rather comfortable about it; so she doesn't care about your
speaking of it at home."
Granger was confounded.
"I can't understand it," he said.
"You can understand that we have the note, and that it has come in
the nick of time," returned Freeling.
"Yes, I can see all that."
"Well, don't look a gift-horse in the mouth, but spring into the
saddle and take a ride. Your mother-in-law is a trump. If she will,
she will, you may depend on't."
Freeling was unusually excited. Granger looked the note over and
over in a way that seemed to annoy his partner, who said, presently,
with a shade of ill-nature in his voice,
"What's the matter? Isn't the signature all right?"
"That's right enough," returned the young man, "after looking at it
closely. "But I can't understand it."
"You will when you see the proceeds passed to our accounted in
Granger looked up at his partner quickly, the laugh had so strange a
sound, but saw nothing new in his face.
In about a month Freeling had in his possession another note, signed
by Mr. Dinneford and drawn to the order of George Granger. This one
was for five thousand dollars. He handed it to his partner soon
after the latter had observed Mrs. Dinneford in the store.
A little over six weeks from this time Mrs. Dinneford was in the
store again. After she had gone away, Freeling handed Granger three
more notes drawn by Mr. Dinneford to his order, amounting in all to
fifteen thousand dollars. They were at short dates.
Granger took these notes without any remark, and was about putting
them in his desk, when Freeling said,
"I think you had better offer one in the People's Bank and another
in the Fourth National. They discount to-morrow."
"Our line is full in both of these banks," replied Granger.
"That may or may not be. Paper like this is not often thrown out.
Call on the president of the Fourth National and the cashier of the
People's Bank. Say that we particularly want the money, and would
like them to see that the notes go through. Star & Giltedge can
easily place the other."
Granger's manner did not altogether please his partner. The notes
lay before him on his desk, and he looked at them in a kind of dazed
"What's the matter?" asked Freeling, rather sharply.
"Nothing," was the quiet answer.
"You saw Mrs. Dinneford in the store just now. I told her last week
that I should claim another favor at her hands. She tried to beg
off, but I pushed the matter hard. It must end here, she says. Mr.
Dinneford won't go any farther."
"I should think not," replied Granger. "I wouldn't if I were he. The
wonder to me is that he has gone so far. What about the renewal of
"Oh, that is all arranged," returned Freeling, a little hurriedly.
Granger looked at him for some moments. He was not satisfied.
"See that they go in bank," said Freeling, in a positive way.
Granger took up his pen in an abstracted manner and endorsed the
notes, after which he laid them in his bank-book. An important
customer coming in at the moment, Freeling went forward to see him.
After Granger was left alone, he took the notes from his bank-book
and examined them with great care. Suspicion was aroused. He felt
sure that something was wrong. A good many things in Freeling's
conduct of late had seemed strange. After thinking for a while, he
determined to take the notes at once to Mr. Dinneford and ask him if
all was right. As soon as his mind had reached this conclusion he
hurried through the work he had on hand, and then putting his
bank-book in his pocket, left the store.
On that very morning Mr. Dinneford received notice that he had a
note for three thousand dollars falling due at one of the banks. He
went immediately and asked to see the note. When it was shown to
him, he was observed to become very pale, but he left the desk of
the note-clerk without any remark, and returned home. He met his
wife at the door, just coming in.
"What's the matter?" she asked, seeing how pale he was. "Not sick, I
"Worse than sick," he replied as they passed into the house
together. "George has been forging my name."
"Impossible!" exclaimed Mrs. Dinneford.
"I wish it were," replied Mr. Dinneford, sadly; "but, alas! it is
too true. I have just returned from the Fourth National Bank. They
have a note for three thousand dollars, bearing my signature. It is
drawn to the order of George Granger, and endorsed by him. The note
is a forgery."
Mrs. Dinneford became almost wild with excitement. Her fair face
grew purple. Her eyes shone with a fierce light.
"Have you had him arrested?" she asked.
"Oh no, no, no!" Mr. Dinneford answered. "For poor Edith's sake, if
for nothing else, this dreadful business must be kept secret. I will
take up the note when due, and the public need be none the wiser."
"If," said Mrs. Dinneford, "he has forged your name once, he has, in
all probability, done it again and again. No, no; the thing can't be
hushed up, and it must not be. Is he less a thief and a robber
because he is our son-in-law? My daughter the wife of a forger!
Great heavens! has it come to this Mr. Dinneford?" she added, after
a pause, and with intense bitterness and rejection in her voice.
"The die is cast! Never again, if I can prevent it, shall that
scoundrel cross our threshold. Let the law have its course. It is a
crime to conceal crime."
"It will kill our poor child!" answered Mr. Dinneford in a broken
"Death is better than the degradation of living with a criminal,"
replied his wife. "I say it solemnly, and I mean it; the die is
cast! Come what will, George Granger stands now and for ever on the
outside! Go at once and give information to the bank officers. If
you do not, I will."
With a heavy heart Mr. Dinneford returned to the bank and informed
the president that the note in question was a forgery. He had been
gone from home a little over half an hour, when Granger, who had
come to ask him about the three notes given him that morning by
Freeling, put his key in the door, and found, a little to his
surprise, that the latch was down. He rang the bell, and in a few
moments the servant appeared. Granger was about passing in, when the
man said, respectfully but firmly, as he held the door partly
"My orders are not to let you come in."
"Who gave you those orders?" demanded Granger, turning white.
"I wish to see Mr. Dinneford, and I must see him immediately."
"Mr. Dinneford is not at home," answered the servant.
"Shut that door instantly!"
It was the voice of Mrs. Dinneford, speaking from within. Granger
heard it; in the next moment the door was shut in his face.
The young man hardly knew how he got back to the store. On his
arrival he found himself under arrest, charged with forgery, and
with fresh evidence of the crime on his person in the three notes
received that morning from his partner, who denied all knowledge of
their existence, and appeared as a witness against him at the
hearing before a magistrate. Granger was held to bail to answer the
charge at the next term of court.
It would have been impossible to keep all this from Edith, even if
there had been a purpose to do so. Mrs. Dinneford chose to break the
dreadful news at her own time and in her own way. The shock was
fearful. On the night that followed her baby was born.
"_IT_ is a splendid boy," said the nurse as she came in with the
new-born baby in her arms, "and perfect as a bit of sculpture. Just
look at that hand."
"Faugh!" ejaculated Mrs. Dinneford, to whom this was addressed. Her
countenance expressed disgust. She turned her head away. "Hide the
thing from my sight!" she added, angrily. "Cover it up! smother it
if you will!"
"You are still determined?" said the nurse.
"Determined, Mrs. Bray; I am not the woman to look back when I have
once resolved. You know me." Mrs. Dinneford said this passionately.
The two women were silent for a little while. Mrs. Bray, the nurse,
kept her face partly turned from Mrs. Dinneford. She was a short,
dry, wiry little woman, with French features, a sallow complexion
and very black eyes.
The doctor looked in. Mrs. Dinneford went quickly to the door, and
putting her hand on his arm, pressed him back, going out into the
entry with him and closing the door behind them. They talked for a
short time very earnestly.
"The whole thing is wrong," said the doctor as he turned to go, "and
I will not be answerable for the consequences."
"No one will require them at your hand, Doctor Radcliffe," replied
Mrs. Dinneford. "Do the best you can for Edith. As for the rest,
know nothing, say nothing. You understand."
Doctor Burt Radcliffe had a large practice among rich and
fashionable people. He had learned to be very considerate of their
weaknesses, peculiarities and moral obliquities. His business was to
doctor them when sick, to humor them when they only thought
themselves sick, and to get the largest possible fees for his,
services. A great deal came under his observation that he did not
care to see, and of which he saw as little as possible. From policy
he had learned to be reticent. He held family secrets enough to
make, in the hands of a skillful writer, more than a dozen romances
of the saddest and most exciting character.
Mrs. Dinneford knew him thoroughly, and just how far to trust him.
"Know nothing, say nothing" was a good maxim in the case, and so she
divulged only the fact that the baby was to be cast adrift. His weak
remonstrance might as well not have been spoken, and he knew it.
While this brief interview was in progress, Nurse Bray sat with the
baby on her lap. She had taken the soft little hands into her own;
and evil and cruel though she was, an impulse of tenderness flowed
into her heart from the angels who were present with the innocent
child. It grew lovely in her eyes. Its helplessness stirred in her a
latent instinct of protection. "No no, it must not be," she was
saying to herself, when the door opened and Mrs. Dinneford came
Mrs. Bray did not lift her head, but sat looking down at the baby
and toying with its hands.
"Pshaw!" ejaculated Mrs. Dinneford, in angry disgust, as she noticed
this manifestation of interest. "Bundle the thing up and throw into
that basket. Is the woman down stairs?"
"Yes," replied Mrs. Bray as she slowly drew a light blanket over the
"Very well. Put it in the basket, and let her take it away."
"She is not a good woman," said the nurse, whose heart was failing
her at the last moment.
"She may be the devil for all I care," returned Mrs. Dinneford.
Mrs. Bray did as she was ordered, but with an evident reluctance
that irritated Mrs. Dinneford.
"Go now and bring up the woman," she said, sharply.
The woman was brought. She was past the prime of life, and had an
evil face. You read in it the record of bad passions indulged and
the signs of a cruel nature. She was poorly clad, and her garments
"You will take this child?" said Mrs. Dinneford abruptly, as the
woman came into her presence.
"I have agreed to do so," she replied, looking toward Mrs. Bray.
"She is to have fifty dollars," said the nurse.
"And that is to be the last of it!" Mrs. Dinneford's face was pale,
and she spoke in a hard, husky voice.
Opening her purse, she took from it a small roll of bills, and as
she held out the money said, slowly and with a hard emphasis,
"You understand the terms. I do not know you--not even your name. I
don't wish to know you. For this consideration you take the child
away. That is the end of it between you and me. The child is your
own as much as if he were born to you, and you can do with him as
you please. And now go." Mrs. Dinneford waved her hand.
"His name?" queried the woman.
"He has no name!" Mrs. Dinneford stamped her foot in angry
The woman stooped down, and taking up the basket, tucked the
covering that had been laid over the baby close about its head, so
that no one could see what she carried, and went off without
uttering another word.
It was some moments before either Mrs. Dinneford or the nurse spoke.
Mrs. Bray was first to break silence.
"All this means a great deal more than you have counted on," she
said, in a voice that betrayed some little feeling. "To throw a
tender baby out like that is a hard thing. I am afraid--"
"There, there! no more of that," returned Mrs. Dinneford,
impatiently. "It's ugly work, I own, but it had to be done--like
cutting off a diseased limb. He will die, of course, and the sooner
it is over, the better for him and every one else."
"He will have a hard struggle for life, poor little thing!" said the
nurse. "I would rather see him dead."
Mrs. Dinneford, now that this wicked and cruel deed was done, felt
ill at ease. She pushed the subject away, and tried to bury it out
of sight as we bury the dead, but did not find the task an easy one.
What followed the birth and removal of Edith's baby up to the time
of her return to reason after long struggle for life, has already
been told. Her demand to have her baby--"Oh, mother, bring me my
baby! I shall die if you do not!" and the answer, "Your baby is in
heaven!"--sent the feeble life-currents back again upon her heart.
There was another long period of oblivion, out of which she came
very slowly, her mind almost as much a blank as the mind of a child.
She had to learn again the names of things, and to be taught their
use. It was touching to see the untiring devotion of her father, and
the pleasure he took in every new evidence of mental growth. He went
over the alphabet with her, letter by letter, many times each day,
encouraging her and holding her thought down to the unintelligible
signs with a patient tenderness sad yet beautiful to see; and when
she began to combine letters into words, and at last to put words
together, his delight was unbounded.
Very slowly went on the new process of mental growth, and it was
months before thought began to reach out beyond the little world
that lay just around her.
Meanwhile, Edith's husband had been brought to trial for forgery,
convicted and sentenced to the State's prison for a term of years.
His partner came forward as the chief witness, swearing that he had
believed the notes genuine, the firm having several times had the
use of Mr. Dinneford's paper, drawn to the order of Granger.
Ere the day of trial came the poor young man was nearly
broken-hearted. Public disgrace like this, added to the terrible
private wrongs he was suffering, was more than he had the moral
strength to bear. Utterly repudiated by his wife's family, and not
even permitted to see Edith, he only knew that she was very ill. Of
the birth of his baby he had but a vague intimation. A rumor was
abroad that it had died, but he could learn nothing certain. In his
distress and uncertainty he called on Dr. Radcliffe, who replied to
his questions with a cold evasion. "It was put out to nurse," said
the doctor, "and that is all I know about it." Beyond this he would
Granger was not taken to the State's prison after his sentence, but
to an insane asylum. Reason gave way under the terrible ordeal
through which he had been made to pass.
"Mother," said Edith, one day, in a tone that caused Mrs.
Dinneford's heart to leap. She was reading a child's simple
story-book, and looked up as she spoke. Her eyes were wide open and
full of questions.
"What, my dear?" asked Mrs. Dinneford, repressing her feelings and
trying to keep her voice calm.
"There's something I can't understand, mother." She looked down at
herself, then about the room. Her manner was becoming nervous.
"What can't you understand?"
Edith shut her hands over her eyes and remained very still. When she
removed them, and her mother looked into her face the childlike
sweetness and content were all gone, and a conscious woman was
before her. The transformation was as sudden as it was marvelous.
Both remained silent for the space of nearly a minute. Mrs.
Dinneford knew not what to say, and waited for some sign from her
"Where is my baby, mother?" Edith said this in a low, tremulous
whisper, leaning forward as she spoke, repressed and eager.
"Have you forgotten?" asked Mrs. Dinneford, with regained composure.
"You were very ill after your baby was born; no one thought you
could live; you were ill for a long time. And the baby--"
"What of the baby, mother?" asked Edith, beginning to tremble
violently. Her mother, perceiving her agitation, held back the word
that was on her lips.
"What of the baby, mother?" Edith repeated the question.
"It died," said Mrs. Dinneford, turning partly away. She could not
look at her child and utter this cruel falsehood.
"Dead! Oh, mother, don't say that! The baby can't be dead!"
A swift flash of suspicion came into her eyes.
"I have said it, my child," was the almost stern response of Mrs.
Dinneford. "The baby is dead."
A weight seemed to fall on Edith. She bent forward, crouching down
until her elbows rested on her knees and her hands supported her
head. Thus she sat, rocking her body with a slight motion. Mrs.
Dinneford watched her without speaking.
"And what of George?" asked Edith, checking her nervous movement at
Her mother did not reply. Edith waited a moment, and then lifted
"What of George?" she demanded.
"My poor child!" exclaimed Mrs. Dinneford, with a gush of genuine
pity, putting her arms about Edith and drawing her head against her
bosom. "It is more than you have strength to bear."
"You must tell me," the daughter said, disengaging herself. "I have
asked for my husband."
"Hush! You must not utter that word again;" and Mrs. Dinneford put
her fingers on Edith's lips. "The wretched man you once called by
that name is a disgraced criminal. It is better that you know the
When Mr. Dinneford came home, instead of the quiet, happy child he
had left in the morning, he found a sad, almost broken-hearted
woman, refusing to be comforted. The wonder was that under the shock
of this terrible awakening, reason had not been again and hopelessly
After a period of intense suffering, pain seemed to deaden
sensibility. She grew calm and passive. And now Mrs. Dinneford set
herself to the completion of the work she had begun. She had
compassed the ruin of Granger in order to make a divorce possible;
she had cast the baby adrift that no sign of the social disgrace
might remain as an impediment to her first ambition. She would yet
see her daughter in the position to which she had from the beginning
resolved to lift her, cost what it might. But the task was not to be
an easy one.
After a period of intense suffering, as we have said, Edith grew
calm and passive. But she was never at ease with her mother, and
seemed to be afraid of her. To her father she was tender and
confiding. Mrs. Dinneford soon saw that if Edith's consent to a
divorce from her husband was to be obtained, it must come through
her father's influence; for if she but hinted at the subject, it was
met with a flash of almost indignant rejection. So her first work
was to bring her husband over to her side. This was not difficult,
for Mr. Dinneford felt the disgrace of having for a son-in-law a
condemned criminal, who was only saved from the State's prison by
insanity. An insane criminal was not worthy to hold the relation of
husband to his pure and lovely child.
After a feeble opposition to her father's arguments and persuasions,
Edith yielded her consent. An application for a divorce was made,
and speedily granted.
_OUT_ of this furnace Edith came with a new and purer spirit. She
had been thrust in a shrinking and frightened girl; she came out a
woman in mental stature, in feeling and self-consciousness.
The river of her life, which had cut for itself a deeper channel,
lay now so far down that it was out of the sight of common
observation. Even her mother failed to apprehend its drift and
strength. Her father knew her better. To her mother she was reserved
and distant; to her father, warm and confiding. With the former she
would sit for hours without speaking unless addressed; with the
latter she was pleased and social, and grew to be interested in what
interested him. As mentioned, Mr. Dinneford was a man of wealth and
leisure, and active in many public charities. He had come to be much
concerned for the neglected and cast-off children of poor and
vicious parents, thousands upon thousands of whom were going to
hopeless ruin, unthought of and uncared for by Church or State, and
their condition often formed the subject of his conversation as well
at home as elsewhere.
Mrs. Dinneford had no sympathy with her husband in this direction. A
dirty, vicious child was an offence to her, not an object of pity,
and she felt more like, spurning it with her foot than touching it
with her hand. But it was not so with Edith; she listened to her
father, and became deeply interested in the poor, suffering,
neglected little ones whose sad condition he could so vividly
portray, for the public duties of charity to which he was giving a
large part of his time made him familiar with much that was sad and
terrible in human suffering and degradation.
One day Edith said to her father,
"I saw a sight this morning that made me sick. It has haunted me
ever since. Oh, it was dreadful!"
"What was it?" asked Mr. Dinneford.
"A sick baby in the arms of a half-drunken woman. It made me shiver
to look at its poor little face, wasted by hunger and sickness and
purple with cold. The woman sat at the street corner begging, and
the people went by, no one seeming to care for the helpless,
starving baby in her arms. I saw a police-officer almost touch the
woman as he passed. Why did he not arrest her?"
"That was not his business," replied Mr. Dinneford. "So long as she
did not disturb the peace, the officer had nothing to do with her."
"Who, then, has?"
"Why, father!" exclaimed Edith. "Nobody?"
"The woman was engaged in business. She was a beggar, and the sick,
half-starved baby was her capital in trade," replied Mr. Dinneford.
"That policeman had no more authority to arrest her than he had to
arrest the organ-man or the peanut-vender."
"But somebody should see after a poor baby like that. Is there no
law to meet such cases?"
"The poor baby has no vote," replied Mr. Dinneford, "and law-makers
don't concern themselves much about that sort of constituency; and
even if they did, the executors of law would be found indifferent.
They are much more careful to protect those whose business it is to
make drunken beggars like the one you saw, who, if men, can vote and
give them place and power. The poor baby is far beneath their
"But not of Him," said Edith, with eyes full of tears, "who took
little children in his arms and blessed them, and said, Suffer them
to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of
"Our law-makers are not, I fear, of his kingdom," answered Mr.
Dinneford, gravely, "but of the kingdom of this world."
A little while after, Edith, who had remained silent and thoughtful,
said, with a tremor in her voice,
"Father, did you see my baby?"
Mr. Dinneford started at so unexpected a question, surprised and
disturbed. He did not reply, and Edith put the question again.
"No, my dear," he answered, with a hesitation of manner that was
After looking into his face steadily for some moments, Edith dropped
her eyes to the floor, and there was a constrained silence between
them for a good while.
"You never saw it?" she queried, again lifting her eyes to her
father's face. Her own was much paler than when she first put the
"Why?" asked Edith.
She waited for a little while, and then said,
"Why don't you answer me, father?"
"It was never brought to me."
"You were very ill, and a nurse was procured immediately."
"I was not too sick to see my baby," said Edith, with white,
quivering lips. "If they had laid it in my bosom as soon as it was
born, I would never have been so ill, and the baby would not have
She held back what she was about saying, shutting her lips tightly.
Her face remained very pale and strangely agitated. Nothing more was
A day or two afterward, Edith asked her mother, with an abruptness
that sent the color to her face, "Where was my baby buried?"
"In our lot at Fairview," was replied, after a moment's pause.
Edith said no more, but on that very day, regardless of a heavy rain
that was falling, went out to the cemetery alone and searched in the
family lot for the little mound that covered her baby--searched, but
did not find it. She came back so changed in appearance that when
her mother saw her she exclaimed,
"Why, Edith! Are you sick?"
"I have been looking for my baby's grave and cannot find it," she
answered. "There is something wrong, mother. What was done with my
baby? I must know." And she caught her mother's wrists with both of
her hands in a tight grip, and sent searching glances down through
"Your baby is dead," returned Mrs. Dinneford, speaking slowly and
with a hard deliberation. "As for its grave--well, if you will drag
up the miserable past, know that in my anger at your wretched
_mesalliance_ I rejected even the dead body of your miserable
husband's child, and would not even suffer it to lie in our family
ground. You know how bitterly I was disappointed, and I am not one
of the kind that forgets or forgives easily. I may have been wrong,
but it is too late now, and the past may as well be covered out of
"Where, then, was my baby buried?" asked Edith, with a calm
resolution of manner that was not to be denied.
"I do not know. I did not care at the time, and never asked."
"Who can tell me?"
"I don't know."
"Who took my baby to nurse?"
"I have forgotten the woman's name. All I know is that she is dead.
When the child died, I sent her money, and told her to bury it
"Where did she live?"
"I never knew precisely. Somewhere down town."
"Who brought her here? who recommended her?" said Edith, pushing her
"I have forgotten that also," replied Mrs. Dinneford, maintaining
her coldness of manner.
"My nurse, I presume," said Edith. "I have a faint recollection of
her--a dark little woman with black eyes whom I had never seen
before. What was her name?"
"Bodine," answered Mrs. Dinneford, without a moment's hesitation.
"Where does she live?"
"She went to Havana with a Cuban lady several months ago."
"Do you know the lady's name?"
"It was Casteline, I think."
Edith questioned no further. The mother and daughter were still
sitting together, both deeply absorbed in thought, when a servant
opened the door and said to Mrs. Dinneford,
"A lady wishes to see you."
"Didn't she give you her card?"
"Nor send up her name?"
"Go down and ask her name."
The servant left the room. On returning, she said,
"Her name is Mrs. Bray."
Mrs. Dinneford turned her face quickly, but not in time to prevent
Edith from seeing by its expression that she knew her visitor, and
that her call was felt to be an unwelcome one. She went from the
room without speaking. On entering the parlor, Mrs. Dinneford said,
in a low, hurried voice,
"I don't want you to come here, Mrs. Bray. If you wish to see me
send me word, and I will call on you, but you must on no account
"Why? Is anything wrong?"
"Edith isn't satisfied about the baby, has been out to Fairview
looking for its grave, wants to know who her nurse was."
"What did you tell her?"
"I said that your name was Mrs. Bodine, and that you had gone to
"Do you think she would know me?"
"Can't tell; wouldn't like to run the risk of her seeing you here.
Pull down your veil. There! close. She said, a little while ago,
that she had a faint recollection of you as a dark little woman with
black eyes whom she had never seen before."
"Indeed!" and Mrs. Bray gathered her veil close about her face.
"The baby isn't living?" Mrs. Dinneford asked the question in a
"Oh, it can't be! Are you sure?"
"Yes; I saw it day before yesterday."
"You did! Where?"
"On the street, in the arms of a beggar-woman."
"You are deceiving me!" Mrs. Dinneford spoke with a throb of anger
in her voice.
"As I live, no! Poor little thing! half starved and half frozen. It
'most made me sick."
"It's impossible! You could not know that it was Edith's baby."
"I do know," replied Mrs. Bray, in a voice that left no doubt on
Mrs. Dinneford's mind.
"Was the woman the same to whom we gave the baby?"
"No; she got rid of it in less than a month."
"What did she do with it?"
"Sold it for five dollars, after she had spent all the money she
received from you in drink and lottery-policies."
"Sold it for five dollars!"
"Yes, to two beggar-women, who use it every day, one in the morning
and the other in the afternoon, and get drunk on the money they
receive, lying all night in some miserable den."
Mrs. Dinneford gave a little shiver.
"What becomes of the baby when they are not using it?" she asked.
"They pay a woman a dollar a week to take care of it at night."
"Do you know where this woman lives?"
"Were you ever there?"
"What kind of a place is it?"
"Worse than a dog-kennel."
"What does all this mean?" demanded Mrs. Dinneford, with repressed
excitement. "Why have you so kept on the track of this baby, when
you knew I wished it lost sight of?"
"I had my own reasons," replied Mrs. Bray. "One doesn't know what
may come of an affair like this, and it's safe to keep well up with
Mrs. Dinneford bit her lips till the blood almost came through. A
faint rustle of garments in the hall caused her to start. An
expression of alarm crossed her face.
"Go now," she said, hurriedly, to her visitor; "I will call and see
you this afternoon."
Mrs. Bray quietly arose, saying, as she did so, "I shall expect
you," and went away.
There was a menace in her tone as she said, "I shall expect you,"
that did not escape the ears of Mrs. Dinneford.
Edith was in the hall, at some distance from the parlor door. Mrs.
Bray had to pass her as she went out. Edith looked at her intently.
"Who is that woman?" she asked, confronting her mother, after the
visitor was gone.
"If you ask the question in a proper manner, I shall have no
objection to answer," said Mrs. Dinneford, with a dignified and
slightly offended air; "but my daughter is assuming rather, too
"Mrs. Bray, the servant said."
"No, Mrs. Gray."
"I understood her to say Mrs. Bray."
"I can't help what you understood." The mother spoke with some
asperity of manner. "She calls herself Gray, but you can have it
anything you please; it won't change her identity."
"What did she want?"
"To see me."
"I know." Edith was turning away with an expression on her face that
Mrs. Dinneford did not like, so she said,
"She is in trouble, and wants me to help her, if you must know. She
used to be a dressmaker, and worked for me before you were born; she
got married, and then her troubles began. Now she is a widow with a
house full of little children, and not half bread enough to feed
them. I've helped her a number of times already, but I'm getting
tired of it; she must look somewhere else, and I told her so."
Edith turned from her mother with an unsatisfied manner, and went up
stairs. Mrs. Dinneford was surprised, not long afterward, to meet
her at her chamber door, dressed to go out. This was something
"Where are you going?" she asked, not concealing her surprise.
"I have a little errand out," Edith replied.
This was not satisfactory to her mother. She asked other questions,
but Edith gave only evasive answers.
On leaving the house, Edith walked quickly, like one in earnest
about something; her veil was closely drawn. Only a few blocks from
where she lived was the office of Dr. Radcliffe. Hither she directed
"Why, Edith, child!" exclaimed the doctor, not concealing the
surprise he felt at seeing her. "Nobody sick, I hope?"
"No one," she answered.
There was a momentary pause; then Edith said, abruptly,
"Doctor, what became of my baby?"
"It died," answered Doctor Radcliffe, but not without betraying some
confusion. The question had fallen upon him too suddenly.
"Did you see it after it was dead?" She spoke in a firm voice,
looking him steadily in the face.
"No," he replied, after a slight hesitation.
"Then how do you know that it died?" Edith asked.
"I had your mother's word for it," said the doctor.
"What was done with my baby after it was born?"
"It was given out to nurse."
"With your consent?"
"I did not advise it. Your mother had her own views in the case. It
was something over which I had no control."
"And you never saw it after it was taken away?"
"And do not really know whether it be dead or living?"
"Oh, it's dead, of course, my child. There is no doubt of that,"
said the doctor, with sudden earnestness of manner.
"Have you any evidence of the fact?"
"My dear, dear child," answered the doctor, with much feeling, "it
is all wrong. Why go back over this unhappy ground? why torture
yourself for nothing? Your baby died long ago, and is in heaven."
"Would God I could believe it!" she exclaimed, in strong agitation.
"If it were so, why is not the evidence set before me? I question my
mother; I ask for the nurse who was with me when my baby was born,
and for the nurse to whom it was given afterward, and am told that
they are dead or out of the country. I ask for my baby's grave, but
it cannot be found. I have searched for it where my mother told me
it was, but the grave is not there. Why all this hiding and mystery?
Doctor, you said that my baby was in heaven, and I answered, 'Would
God it were so!' for I saw a baby in hell not long ago!"
The doctor was scared. He feared that Edith was losing her mind, she
looked and spoke so wildly.
"A puny, half-starved, half-frozen little thing, in the arms of a
drunken beggar," she added. "And, doctor, an awful thought has
haunted me ever since."
"Hush, hush!" said the doctor, who saw what was in her mind. "You
must not indulge such morbid fancies."
"It is that I may not indulge them that I have come to you. I want
certainty, Dr. Radcliffe. Somebody knows all about my baby. Who was
"I never saw her before the night of your baby's birth, and have
never seen her since. Your mother procured her."
"Did you hear her name?"
"And so you cannot help me at all?" said Edith, in a disappointed
"I cannot, my poor child," answered the doctor.
All the flush and excitement died out of Edith's face. When she
arose to go, she was pale and haggard, like one exhausted by pain,
and her steps uneven, like the steps of an invalid walking for the
first time. Dr. Radcliffe went with her in silence to the door.
"Oh, doctor," said Edith, in a choking voice, as she lingered a
moment on the steps, "can't you bring out of this frightful mystery
something for my heart to rest upon? I want the truth. Oh, doctor,
in pity help me to find the truth!"
"I am powerless to help you," the doctor replied. "Your only hope
lies in your mother. She knows all about it; I do not."
And he turned and left her standing at the door. Slowly she
descended the steps, drawing her veil as she did so about her face,
and walked away more like one in a dream than conscious of the tide
of life setting so strongly all about her.