Part 2 out of 6
_MEANTIME_, obeying the unwelcome summons, Mrs. Dinneford had gone
to see Mrs. Bray. She found her in a small third-story room in the
lower part of the city, over a mile away from her own residence. The
meeting between the two women was not over-gracious, but in keeping
with their relations to each other. Mrs. Dinneford was half angry
and impatient; Mrs. Bray cool and self-possessed.
"And now what is it you have to say?" asked the former, almost as
soon as she had entered.
"The woman to whom you gave that baby was here yesterday."
A frightened expression came into Mrs. Dinneford's face. Mrs. Bray
watched her keenly as, with lips slightly apart, she waited for what
more was to come.
"Unfortunately, she met me just as I was at my own door, and so
found out my residence," continued Mrs. Bray. "I was in hopes I
should never see her again. We shall have trouble, I'm afraid."
"In what way?"
"A bad woman who has you in her power can trouble you in many ways,"
answered Mrs. Bray.
"She did not know my name--you assured me of that. It was one of the
"She does know, and your daughter's name also. And she knows where
the baby is. She's deeper than I supposed. It's never safe to trust
such people; they have no honor."
Fear sent all the color out of Mrs. Dinneford's face.
"What does she want?"
"She was paid liberally."
"That has nothing to do with it. These people have no honor, as I
said; they will get all they can."
"How much does she want?"
"A hundred dollars; and it won't end there, I'm thinking. If she is
refused, she will go to your house; she gave me that
alternative--would have gone yesterday, if good luck had not thrown
her in my way. I promised to call on you and see what could be
Mrs. Dinneford actually groaned in her fear and distress.
"Would you like to see her yourself?" coolly asked Mrs. Bray.
"Oh dear! no, no!" and the lady put up her hands in dismay.
"It might be best," said her wily companion.
"No, no, no! I will have nothing to do with her! You must keep her
away from me," replied Mrs. Dinneford, with increasing agitation.
"I cannot keep her away without satisfying her demands. If you were
to see her yourself, you would know just what her demands were. If
you do not see her, you will only have my word for it, and I am left
open to misapprehension, if not worse. I don't like to be placed in
such a position."
And Mrs. Bray put on a dignified, half-injured manner.
"It's a wretched business in every way," she added, "and I'm sorry
that I ever had anything to do with it. It's something dreadful, as
I told you at the time, to cast a helpless baby adrift in such a
way. Poor little soul! I shall never feel right about it."
"That's neither here nor there;" and Mrs. Dinneford waved her hand
impatiently. "The thing now in hand is to deal with this woman."
"Yes, that's it--and as I said just now, I would rather have you
deal with her yourself; you may be able to do it better than I can."
"It's no use to talk, Mrs. Bray. I will not see the woman."
"Very well; you must be your own judge in the case."
"Can't you bind her up to something, or get her out of the city? I'd
pay almost anything to have her a thousand miles away. See if you
can't induce her to go to New Orleans. I'll pay her passage, and
give her a hundred dollars besides, if she'll go."
Mrs. Bray smiled a faint, sinister smile:
"If you could get her off there, it would be the end of her. She'd
never stand the fever."
"Then get her off, cost what it may," said Mrs. Dinneford.
"She will be here in less than half an hour." Mrs. Bray looked at
the face of a small cheap clock that stood on the mantel.
"She will?" Mrs. Dinneford became uneasy, and arose from her chair.
"Yes; what shall I say to her?"
"Manage her the best you can. Here are thirty dollars--all the money
I have with me. Give her that, and promise more if necessary. I will
see you again."
"When?" asked Mrs. Bray.
"At any time you desire."
"Then you had better come to-morrow morning. I shall not go out."
"I will be here at eleven o'clock. Induce her if possible to leave
the city--to go South, so that she may never come back."
"The best I can shall be done," replied Mrs. Bray as she folded the
bank-bills she had received from Mrs. Dinneford in a fond, tender
sort of way and put them into her pocket.
Mrs. Dinneford retired, saying as she did so,
"I will be here in the morning."
An instant change came over the shallow face of the wiry little
woman as the form of Mrs. Dinneford vanished through the door. A
veil seemed to fall away from it. All its virtuous sobriety was
gone, and a smile of evil satisfaction curved about her lips and
danced in her keen black eyes. She stood still, listening to the
retiring steps of her visitor, until she heard the street door shut.
Then, with a quick, cat-like step, she crossed to the opposite side
of the room, and pushed open a door that led to an adjoining
chamber. A woman came forward to meet her. This woman was taller and
stouter than Mrs. Bray, and had a soft, sensual face, but a resolute
mouth, the under jaw slightly protruding. Her eyes were small and
close together, and had that peculiar wily and alert expression you
sometimes see, making you think of a serpent's eyes. She was dressed
in common finery and adorned by cheap jewelry.
"What do you think of that, Pinky Swett?" exclaimed Mrs. Bray, in a
voice of exultation. "Got her all right, haven't I?"
"Well, you have!" answered the woman, shaking all over with
unrestrained laughter. "The fattest pigeon I've happened to see for
a month of Sundays. Is she very rich?"
"Her husband is, and that's all the same. And now, Pinky"--Mrs. Bray
assumed a mock gravity of tone and manner--"you know your fate--New
Orleans and the yellow fever. You must pack right off. Passage free
and a hundred dollars for funeral expenses. Nice wet graves down
there--keep off the fire;" and she gave a low chuckle.
"Oh yes; all settled. When does the next steamer sail?" and Pinky
almost screamed with merriment. She had been drinking.
"H-u-s-h! h-u-s-h! None of that here, Pinky. The people down stairs
are good Methodists, and think me a saint."
"You a saint? Oh dear!" and she shook with repressed enjoyment.
After this the two women grew serious, and put their heads together
"Who is this woman, Fan? What's her name, and where does she live?"
asked Pinky Swett.
"That's my secret, Pinky," replied Mrs. Bray, "and I can't let it
go; it wouldn't be safe. You get a little off the handle sometimes,
and don't know what you say--might let the cat out of the bag. Sally
Long took the baby away, and she died two months ago; so I'm the
only one now in the secret. All I want of you is to keep track of
the baby. Here is a five-dollar bill; I can't trust you with more at
a time. I know your weakness, Pinky;" and she touched her under the
chin in a familiar, patronizing way.
Pinky wasn't satisfied with this, and growled a little, just showing
her teeth like an unquiet dog.
"Give me ten," she said; "the woman gave you thirty. I heard her say
so. And she's going to bring you seventy to-morrow."
"You'll only waste it, Pinky," remonstrated Mrs. Bray. "It will all
be gone before morning."
"Fan," said the woman, leaning toward Mrs. Bray and speaking in a
low, confidential tone, "I dreamed of a cow last night, and that's
good luck, you know. Tom Oaks made a splendid hit last
Saturday--drew twenty dollars--and Sue Minty got ten. They're all
buzzing about it down in our street, and going to Sam McFaddon's
office in a stream."
"Do they have good luck at Sam McFaddon's?" asked Mrs. Bray, with
considerable interest in her manner.
"It's the luckiest place that I know. Never dreamed of a cow or a
hen that I didn't make a hit, and I dreamed of a cow last night. She
was giving such a splendid pail of milk, full to the brim, just as
old Spot and Brindle used to give. You remember our Spot and
"Oh yes." There was a falling inflection in Mrs. Bray's voice, as if
the reference had sent her thoughts away back to other and more
The two women sat silent for some moments after that; and when Pinky
spoke, which she did first, it was in lower and softer tones:
"I don't like to think much about them old times, Fan; do you? I
might have done better. But it's no use grizzling about it now.
What's done's done, and can't be helped. Water doesn't run up hill
again after it's once run down. I've got going, and can't stop, you
see. There's nothing to catch at that won't break as soon as you
touch it. So I mean to be jolly as I move along."
"Laughing is better than crying at any time," returned Mrs. Bray;
"here are five more;" and she handed Pinky Swett another bank-bill.
"I'm going to try my luck. Put half a dollar on ten different rows,
and we'll go shares on what is drawn. I dreamed the other night that
I saw a flock of sheep, and that's good luck, isn't it?"
Pinky thrust her hand into her pocket and drew out a worn and soiled
"A flock of sheep; let me see;" and she commenced turning over the
leaves. "Sheep; here it is: 'To see them is a sign of sorrow--11,
20, 40, 48. To be surrounded by many sheep denotes good luck--2, 11,
55.' That's your row; put down 2, 11, 55. We'll try that. Next put
down 41 11, 44--that's the lucky row when you dream of a cow."
As Pinky leaned toward her friend she dropped her parasol.
"That's for luck, maybe," she said, with a brightening face. "Let's
see what it says about a parasol;" and she turned over her
"For a maiden to dream she loses her parasol shows that her
sweetheart is false and will never marry her--5, 51, 56."
"But you didn't dream about a parasol, Pinky."
"That's no matter; it's just as good as a dream. 5, 51, 56 is the
row. Put that down for the second, Fan."
As Mrs. Bray was writing out these numbers the clock on the mantel
"8, 12, 60," said Pinky, turning to the clock; "that's the clock
And Mrs. Bray put down these figures also.
"That's three rows," said Pinky, "and we want ten." She arose, as
she spoke, and going to the front window, looked down upon the
"There's an organ-grinder; it's the first thing I saw;" and she came
back fingering the leaves of her dream-book. "Put down 40, 50, 26."
Mrs. Bray wrote the numbers on her slip of paper.
"It's November; let's find the November row." Pinky consulted her
book again. "Signifies you will have trouble through life--7, 9, 63.
That's true as preaching; I was born in November, and I've had it
all trouble. How many rows does that make?"
"Then we will cut cards for the rest;" and Pinky drew a soiled pack
from her pocket, shuffled the cards and let her friends cut them.
"Ten of diamonds;" she referred to the dream-book. "10, 13, 31; put
The cards were shuffled and cut again.
"Six of clubs--6, 35, 39."
Again they were cut and shuffled. This time the knave of clubs was
"That's 17, 19, 28," said Pinky, reading from her book.
The next cut gave the ace of clubs, and the policy numbers were 18,
"Once more, and the ten rows will be full;" and the cards were cut
"Five of hearts--5, 12, 60;" and the ten rows were complete.
"There's luck there, Fan; sure to make a hit," said Pinky, with
almost childish confidence, as she gazed at the ten rows of figures.
'One of 'em can't help coming out right, and that would be fifty
dollars--twenty-five for me and twenty-five for you; two rows would
give a hundred dollars, and the whole ten a thousand. Think of that,
Fan! five hundred dollars apiece."
"It would break Sam McFaddon, I'm afraid," remarked Mrs. Bray.
"Sam's got nothing to do with it," returned Pinky.
"Who has, then?"
"Oh, I found it all out--I know how it's done. Sam's got a backer--a
man that puts up the money. Sam only sells for his backer. When
there's a hit, the backer pays."
"Who's Sam's backer, as you call him?"
"Couldn't get him to tell; tried him hard, but he was close as an
oyster. Drives in the Park and wears a two thousand dollar diamond
pin; he let that out. So he's good for the hits. Sam always puts the
money down, fair and square."
"Very well; you get the policy, and do it right off, Pinky, or the
money'll slip through your fingers."
"All right," answered Pinky as she folded the slip of paper
containing the lucky rows. "Never you fear. I'll be at Sam
McFaddon's in ten minutes after I leave here."
"And be sure," said Mrs. Bray, "to look after the baby to-night, and
see that it doesn't perish with cold; the air's getting sharp."
"It ought to have something warmer than cotton rags on its poor
little body," returned Pinky. "Can't you get it some flannel? It
will die if you don't."
"I sent it a warm petticoat last week," said Mrs. Bray.
"Yes; I bought one at a Jew shop, and had it sent to the woman."
"Was it a nice warm one?"
Pinky drew a sigh. "I saw the poor baby last night; hadn't anything
on but dirty cotton rags. It was lying asleep in a cold cellar on a
little heap of straw. The woman had given it something, I guess, by
the way it slept. The petticoat had gone, most likely, to Sam
McFaddon's. She spends everything she can lay her hands on in
policies and whisky."
"She's paid a dollar a week for taking care of the baby at night and
on Sundays," said Mrs. Bray.
"It wouldn't help the baby any if she got ten dollars," returned
Pinky. "It ought to be taken away from her."
"But who's to do that? Sally Long sold it to the two beggar women,
and they board it out. I have no right to interfere; they own the
baby, and can do as they please with it."
"It could be got to the almshouse," said Pinky; "it would be a
thousand times better off."
"It mustn't go to the almshouse," replied Mrs. Bray; "I might lose
track of it, and that would never do."
"You'll lose track of it for good and all before long, if you don't
get it out of them women's bands. No baby can hold out being begged
with long; it's too hard on the little things. For you know how it
is, Fan; they must keep 'em half starved and as sick as they will
bear without dying right off, so as to make 'em look pitiful. You
can't do much at begging with a fat, hearty-looking baby."
"What's to be done about it?" asked Mrs. Bray. "I don't want that
baby to die."
"Would its mother know it if she saw it?" asked Pinky.
"No; for she never set eyes on it."
"Then, if it dies, get another baby, and keep track of that. You can
steal one from a drunken mother any night in the week. I'll do it
for you. One baby is as good as another."
"It will be safer to have the real one," replied Mrs. Bray. "And
now, Pinky that you have put this thing into my head, I guess I'll
commission you to get the baby away from that woman."
"But what are we to do with it? I can't have it here."
"Of course you can't. But that's easily managed, if your're willing
to pay for it."
"Pay for it?"
"Yes; if it isn't begged with, and made to pay its way and earn
something into the bargain, it's got to be a dead weight on
somebody. So you see how it is, Fan. Now, if you'll take a fool's
advice, you'll let 'it go to the almshouse, or let it alone to die
and get out of its misery as soon as possible. You can find another
baby that will do just as well, if you should ever need one."
"How much would it cost, do you think, to have it boarded with some
one who wouldn't abuse it? She might beg with it herself, or hire it
out two or three times a week. I guess it would stand that."
"Beggars don't belong to the merciful kind," answered Pinky;
"there's no trusting any of them. A baby in their hands is never
safe. I've seen 'em brought in at night more dead than alive, and
tossed on a dirty rag-heap to die before morning. I'm always glad
when they're out of their misery, poor things! The fact is, Fan, if
you expect that baby to live, you've got to take it clean out of the
hands of beggars."
"What could I get it boarded for outright?" asked Mrs. Bray.
"For 'most anything, 'cording to how it's done. But why not, while
you're about it, bleed the old lady, its grandmother, a little
deeper, and take a few drops for the baby?"
"Guess you're kind o' right about that, Fan; anyhow, we'll make a
start on it. You find another place for the brat."
"'Greed; when shall I do it?"
"The sooner, the better. It might die of cold any night in that
horrible den. Ugh!"
"I've been in worse places. Bedlow street is full of them, and so is
Briar street and Dirty alley. You don't know anything about it."
"Maybe not, and maybe I don't care to know. At present I want to
settle about this baby. You'll find another place for it?"
"And then steal it from the woman who has it now?"
"Yes; no trouble in the world. She's drunk every night," answered
Pinky Swett, rising to go.
"You'll see me to-morrow?" said Mrs. Bray.
"And you won't forget about the policies?"
"Not I. We shall make a grand hit, or I'm a fool. Day-day!" Pinky
waved her hand gayly, and then retired.
_A COLD_ wet drizzling rain was beginning to fall when Pinky Swett
emerged from the house. Twilight was gathering drearily. She drew
her thin shawl closely, and shivered as the east wind struck her
with a chill.
At hurried walk of five or ten minutes brought her to a part of the
town as little known to its citizens generally as if it were in the
centre of Africa--a part of the town where vice, crime, drunkenness
and beggary herd together in the closest and most shameless contact;
where men and women, living in all foulness, and more like wild
beasts than human beings, prey greedily upon each other, hurting,
depraving and marring God's image in all over whom they can get
power or influenced--_a very hell upon the earth!_--at part of the
town where theft and robbery and murder are plotted, and from which
prisons and almshouses draw their chief population.
That such a herding together, almost in the centre of a great
Christian city, of the utterly vicious and degraded, should be
permitted, when every day's police and criminal records give warning
of its cost and danger, is a marvel and a reproach. Almost every
other house, in portions of this locality, is a dram-shop, where the
vilest liquors are sold. Policy-offices, doing business in direct
violation of law, are in every street and block, their work of
plunder and demoralization going on with open doors and under the
very eyes of the police. Every one of them is known to these
officers. But arrest is useless. A hidden and malign influence, more
potent than justice, has power to protect the traffic and hold the
guilty offenders harmless. Conviction is rarely, if ever, reached.
The poor wretches, depraved and plundered through drink and
policy-gambling, are driven into crime. They rob and steal and
debase themselves for money with which to buy rum and policies, and
sooner or later the prison or death removes the greater number of
them from their vile companions. But drifting toward this fatal
locality under the attraction of affinity, or lured thither by
harpies in search of new supplies of human victims to repair the
frightful waste perpetually made, the region keeps up its dense
population, and the work of destroying human souls goes on. It is an
awful thing to contemplate. Thousands of men and women, boys and
girls, once innocent as the babes upon whom Christ laid his hand in
blessing, are drawn into this whirlpool of evil every year, and few
come out except by the way of prison or death.
It was toward this locality that Pinky Swett directed her feet,
after parting with Mrs. Bray. Darkness was beginning to settle down
as she turned off from one of the most populous streets, crowded at
the time by citizens on their way to quiet and comfortable homes,
few if any of whom had ever turned aside to look upon and get
knowledge of the world or crime and wretchedness so near at hand,
but girdled in and concealed from common observation.
Down a narrow street she turned from the great thoroughfare, walking
with quick steps, and shivering a little as the penetrating east
wind sent a chill of dampness through the thin shawl she drew closer
and closer about her shoulders. Nothing could be in stronger
contrast than the rows of handsome dwellings and stores that lined
the streets through which she had just passed, and the forlorn,
rickety, unsightly and tumble-down houses amid which she now found
Pinky had gone only a little way when the sharp cries of a child cut
the air suddenly, the shrill, angry voice of a woman and the rapid
fall of lashes mingled with the cries. The child begged for mercy in
tones of agony, but the loud voice, uttering curses and
imprecations, and the cruel blows, ceased not. Pinky stopped and
shivered. She felt the pain of these blows, in her quickly-aroused
sympathy, almost as much as if they had been falling on her own
person. Opposite to where she had paused was a one-story frame
house, or enclosed shed, as unsightly without as a pig-pen, and
almost as filthy within. It contained two small rooms with very low
ceilings. The only things in these rooms that could be called
furniture were an old bench, two chairs from which the backs had
been broken, a tin cup black with smoke and dirt, two or three tin
pans in the same condition, some broken crockery and an iron
skillet. Pinky stood still for a moment, shivering, as we have said.
She knew what the blows and the curses and the cries of pain meant;
she had heard them before. A depraved and drunken woman and a child
ten years old, who might or might not be her daughter, lived there.
The child was sent out every day to beg or steal, and if she failed
to bring home a certain sum of money, was cruelly beaten by the
woman. Almost every day the poor child was cut with lashes, often on
the bare flesh; almost every day her shrieks rang out from the
miserable hovel. But there was no one to interfere, no one to save
her from the smarting blows, no one to care what she suffered.
Pinky Swett could stand it no longer. She had often noticed the
ragged child, with her pale, starved face and large, wistful eyes,
passing in and out of this miserable woman's den, sometimes going to
the liquor-shops and sometimes to the nearest policy-office to spend
for her mother, if such the woman really was, the money she had
gained by begging.
With a sudden impulse, as a deep wail and a more piteous cry for
mercy smote upon her ears, Pinky sprang across the street and into
the hovel. The sight that met her eyes left no hesitation in her
mind. Holding up with one strong arm the naked body of the poor
child--she had drawn the clothes over her head--the infuriated woman
was raining down blows from a short piece of rattan upon the
quivering flesh, already covered with welts and bruises.
"Devil!" cried Pinky as she rushed upon this fiend in human shape
and snatched the little girl from her arm. "Do you want to kill the
She might almost as well have assaulted a tigress.
The woman was larger, stronger, more desperate and more thoroughly
given over to evil passions than she. To thwart her in anything was
to rouse her into a fury. A moment she stood in surprise and
bewilderment; in the next, and ere Pinky had time to put herself on
guard, she had sprung upon her with a passionate cry that sounded
more like that of a wild beast than anything human. Clutching her by
the throat with one hand, and with the other tearing the child from
her grasp, she threw the frightened little thing across the room.
"Devil, ha!" screamed the woman; "devil!" and she tightened her
grasp on Pinky's throat, at the same time striking her in the face
with her clenched fist.
Like a war-horse that snuffs the battle afar off and rushes to the
conflict, so rushed the inhabitants of that foul neighborhood to the
spot from whence had come to their ears the familiar and not
unwelcome sound of strife. Even before Pinky had time to shake off
her assailant, the door of the hovel was darkened by a screen of
eager faces. And such faces! How little of God's image remained in
them to tell of their divine origination!--bloated and scarred,
ashen pale and wasted, hollow-eyed and red-eyed, disease looking out
from all, yet all lighted up with the keenest interest and
Outside, the crowd swelled with a marvelous rapidity. Every cellar
and room and garret, every little alley and hidden rookery, "hawk's
nest" and "wren's nest," poured out its unseemly denizens, white and
black, old and young, male and female, the child of three years old,
keen, alert and self-protective, running to see the "row" side by
side with the toothless crone of seventy; or most likely passing her
on the way. Thieves, beggars, pick-pockets, vile women, rag-pickers
and the like, with the harpies who prey upon them, all were there to
enjoy the show.
Within, a desperate fight was going on between Pinky Swett and the
woman from whose hands she had attempted to rescue the child--a
fight in which Pinky was getting the worst of it. One garment after
another was torn from her person, until little more than a single
"Here's the police! look out!" was cried at this juncture.
"Who cares for the police? Let 'em come," boldly retorted the woman.
"I haven't done nothing; it's her that's come in drunk and got up a
Pushing the crowd aside, a policeman entered the hovel.
"Here she is!" cried the woman, pointing toward Pinky, from whom she
had sprung back the moment she heard the word police. "She came in
here drunk and got up a row. I'm a decent woman, as don't meddle
with nobody. But she's awful when she gets drunk. Just look at
her--been tearing her clothes off!"
At this there was a shout of merriment from the crowd who had
witnessed the fight.
"Good for old Sal! she's one of 'em! Can't get ahead of old Sal,
drunk or sober!" and like expressions were shouted by one and
Poor Pinky, nearly stripped of her clothing, and with a great bruise
swelling under one of her eyes, bewildered and frightened at the
aspect of things around her, could make no acceptable defence.
"She ran over and pitched into Sal, so she did! I saw her! She made
the fight, she did!" testified one of the crowd; and acting on this
testimony and his own judgment of the case, the policeman said
roughly, as he laid his hand on Pinky.
"Pick up your duds and come along."
Pinky lifted her torn garments from the dirty floor and gathered
them about her person as best she could, the crowd jeering all the
time. A pin here and there, furnished by some of the women, enabled
her to get them into a sort of shape and adjustment. Then she tried
to explain the affair to the policeman, but he would not listen.
"Come!" he said, sternly.
"What are you going to do with me?" she asked, not moving from where
"Lock you up," replied the policeman. "So come along."
"What's the matter here?" demanded a tall, strongly-built woman,
pressing forward. She spoke with a foreign accent, and in a tone of
command. The motley crowd, above whom she towered, gave way for her
as she approached. Everything about the woman showed her to be
superior in mind and moral force to the unsightly wretches about
her. She had the fair skin, blue eyes and light hair of her nation.
Her features were strong, but not masculine. You saw in them no
trace of coarse sensuality or vicious indulgence.
"Here's Norah! here's the queen!" shouted a voice from the crowd.
"What's the matter here?" asked the woman as she gained an entrance
to the hovel.
"Going to lock up Pinky Swett," said a ragged little girl who had
forced her way in.
"What for?" demanded the woman, speaking with the air of one in
"'Cause she wouldn't let old Sal beat Kit half to death," answered
"Ho! Sal's a devil and Pinky's a fool to meddle with her." Then
turning to the policeman, who still had his hand on the girl, she
"What're you goin' to do, John?"
"Goin' to lock her up. She's drunk an' bin a-fightin'."
"You're not goin' to do any such thing."
"I'm not drunk, and it's a lie if anybody says so," broke in Pinky.
"I tried to keep this devil from beating the life out of poor little
Kit, and she pitched into me and tore my clothes off. That's what's
The policeman quietly removed his hand from Pinky's shoulder, and
glanced toward the woman named Sal, and stood as if waiting orders.
"Better lock _her_ up," said the "queen," as she had been called.
Sal snarled like a fretted wild beast.
"It's awful, the way she beats poor Kit," chimed in the little girl
who had before spoken against her. "If I was Kit, I'd run away, so I
"I'll wring your neck off," growled Sal, in a fierce undertone,
making a dash toward the girl, and swearing frightfully. But the
child shrank to the side of the policeman.
"If you lay a finger on Kit to-night," said the queen, "I'll have
her taken away, and you locked up into the the bargain."
Sal responded with another snarl.
"Come." The queen moved toward the door. Pinky followed, the
policeman offering no resistance. A few minutes later, and the
miserable crowd of depraved human beings had been absorbed again
into cellar and garret, hovel and rookery, to take up the thread of
their evil and sensual lives, and to plot wickedness, and to prey
upon and deprave each other--to dwell as to their inner and real
lives among infernals, to be in hell as to their spirits, while
their bodies yet remained upon the earth.
Pinky and her rescuer passed down the street for a short distance
until they came to another that was still narrower. On each side dim
lights shone from the houses, and made some revelation of what was
going on within. Here liquor was sold, and there policies. Here was
a junk-shop, and there an eating-saloon where for six cents you
could make a meal out of the cullings from beggars' baskets. Not
very tempting to an ordinary appetite was the display inside, nor
agreeable to the nostrils the odors that filled the atmosphere. But
hunger like the swines', that was not over-nice, satisfied itself
amid these disgusting conglomerations, and kept off starvation.
Along this wretched street, with scarcely an apology for a sidewalk,
moved Pinky and the queen, until they reached a small two-story
frame house that presented a different aspect from the wretched
tenements amid which it stood. It was clean upon the outside, and
had, as contrasted with its neighbors, an air of superiority. This
was the queen's residence. Inside, all was plain and homely, but
clean and in order.
The excitement into which Pinky had been thrown was nearly over by
"You've done me a good turn, Norah," she said as the door closed
upon them, "and I'll not soon forget you."
"Ugh!" ejaculated Norah as she looked into Pinky's bruised face;
"Sal's hit you square in the eye; it'll be black as y'r boot by
morning. I'll get some cold water."
A basin of cold water was brought, and Pinky held a wet cloth to the
swollen spot for a long time, hoping thereby not only to reduce the
swelling, but to prevent discoloration.
"Y'r a fool to meddle with Sal," said Norah as she set the basin of
water before Pinky.
"Why don't you meddle with her? Why do you let her beat poor little
Kit the way she does?" demanded Pinky.
Norah shrugged her shoulders, and answered with no more feeling in
her voice than if she had been speaking of inanimate things:
"She's got to keep Kit up to her work."
"Up to her work!"
"Yes; that's just it. Kit's lazy and cheats--buys cakes and candies;
and Sal has to come down on her; it's the way, you know. If Sal
didn't come down sharp on her all the while, Kit wouldn't bring her
ten cents a day. They all have to do it--so much a day or a lickin';
and a little lickin' isn't any use--got to 'most kill some of 'em.
We're used to it in here. Hark!"
The screams of a child in pain rang out wildly, the sounds coming
from across the narrow street. Quick, hard strokes of a lash were
heard at the same time. Pinky turned a little pale.
"Only Mother Quig," said Norah, with an indifferent air; "she has to
do it 'most every night--no getting along any other way with Tom. It
beats all how much he can stand."
"Oh, Norah, won't she never stop?" cried Pinky, starting up. "I
can't bear it a minute longer."
"Shut y'r ears. You've got to," answered the woman, with some
impatience in her voice. "Tom has to be kept to his work as well as
the rest of 'em. Half the fuss he's making is put on, anyhow; he
doesn't mind a beating any more than a horse. I know his hollers.
There's Flanagan's Nell getting it now," added Norah as the cries
and entreaties of another child were heard. She drew herself up and
listened, a slight shade of concern drifting across her face.
A long, agonizing wail shivered through the air.
"Nell's Sick, and can't do her work." The woman rose as she spoke.
"I saw her goin' off to-day, and told Flanagan she'd better keep her
Saying this, Norah went out quickly, Pinky following. With head
erect and mouth set firmly, the queen strode across the street and a
little way down the pavement, to the entrance of a cellar, from
which the cries and sounds of whipping came. Down the five or six
rotten and broken steps she plunged, Pinky close after her.
"Stop!" shouted Norah, in a tone of command.
Instantly the blows ceased, and the cries were hushed.
"You'll be hanged for murder if you don't take care," said Norah.
"What's Nell been doin'?"
"Doin', the slut!" ejaculated the woman, a short, bloated, revolting
creature, with scarcely anything human in her face. "Doin', did ye
say? It's nothin' she's been doin', the lazy, trapsing huzzy! Who's
that intrudin' herself in here?" she added fiercely, as she saw
Pinky, making at the same time a movement toward the girl. "Get out
o' here, or I'll spile y'r pictur'!"
"Keep quiet, will you?" said Norah, putting her hand on the woman
and pushing her back as easily as if she had been a child. "Now come
here, Nell, and let me look at you."
Out of the far corner of the cellar into which Flanagan had thrown
her when she heard Norah's voice, and into the small circle of light
made by a single tallow candle, there crept slowly the figure of a
child literally clothed in rags. Norah reached out her hand to her
as she came up--there was a scared look on her pinched face--and
drew her close to the light.
"Gracious! your hand's like an ice-ball!" exclaimed Norah.
Pinky looked at the child, and grew faint at heart. She had large
hazel eyes, that gleamed with a singular lustre out of the
suffering, grimed and wasted little face, so pale and sad and
pitiful that the sight of it was enough to draw tears from any but
the brutal and hardened.
"Are you sick?" asked Norah.
"No, she's not sick; she's only shamming," growled Flanagan.
"You shut up!" retorted Norah. "I wasn't speaking to you." Then she
repeated her question:
"Are you sick, Nell?"
"I don't know."
Norah laid her hand on the child's head:
"Does it hurt here?"
"Oh yes! It hurts so I can't see good," answered Nell.
"It's all a lie! I know her; she's shamming."
"Oh no, Norah!" cried the child, a sudden hope blending with the
fear in her voice. "I ain't shamming at all. I fell down ever so
many times in the street, and 'most got run over. Oh dear! oh dear!"
and she clung to the woman with a gesture of despair piteous to see.
"I don't believe you are, Nell," said Norah, kindly. Then, to the
woman, "Now mind, Flanagan, Nell's sick; d'ye hear?"
The woman only uttered a defiant growl.
"She's not to be licked again to-night." Norah spoke as one having
"I wish ye'd be mindin' y'r own business, and not come interfarin'
wid me. She's my gal, and I've a right to lick her if I plaze."
"Maybe she is and maybe she isn't," retorted Norah.
"Who says she isn't my gal?" screamed the woman, firing up at this
and reaching out for Nell, who shrunk closer to Norah.
"Maybe she is and maybe she isn't," said the queen, quietly
repeating her last sentence; "and I think maybe she isn't. So take
care and mind what I say. Nell isn't to be licked any more
"Oh, Norah," sobbed the child, in a husky, choking voice, "take me,
won't you? She'll pinch me, and she'll hit my head on the wall, and
she'll choke me and knock me. Oh, Norah, Norah!"
Pinky could stand this no longer. Catching up the bundle of rags in
her arms, she sprang out of the cellar and ran across the street to
the queen's house, Norah and Flanagan coming quickly after her. At
the door, through which Pinky had passed, Norah paused, and turning
to the infuriated Irish woman, said, sternly,
"Go back! I won't have you in here; and if you make a row, I'll tell
John to lock you up."
"I want my Nell," said the woman, her manner changing. There was a
shade of alarm in her voice.
"You can't have her to-night; so that's settled. And if there's any
row, you'll be locked up." Saying which, Norah went in and shut the
door, leaving Flanagan on the outside.
The bundle of dirty rags with the wasted body of a child inside, the
body scarcely heavier than the rags, was laid by Pinky in the corner
of a settee, and the unsightly mass shrunk together like something
"I thought you'd had enough with old Sal," said Norah, in a tone of
reproof, as she came in.
"Couldn't help it," replied Pinky. "I'm bad enough, but I can't
stand to see a child abused like that--no, not if I die for it."
Norah crossed to the settee and spoke to Nell. But there was no
answer, nor did the bundle of rags stir.
"Nell! Nell!" She called to deaf ears. Then she put her hand on the
child and raised one of the arms. It dropped away limp as a withered
stalk, showing the ashen white face across which it had lain.
The two women manifested no excitement. The child had fainted or was
dead--which, they did not know. Norah straightened out the wasted
little form and turned up the face. The eyes were shut, the mouth
closed, the pinched features rigid, as if still giving expression to
pain, but there was no mistaking the sign that life had gone out of
them. It might be for a brief season, it might be for ever.
A little water was thrown into the child's face. Its only effect was
to streak the grimy skin.
"Poor little thing!" said Pinky. "I hope she's dead."
"They're tough. They don't die easy," returned Norah.
"She isn't one of the tough kind."
"Maybe not. They say Flanagan stole her when she was a little thing,
"Don't let's do anything to try to bring her to," said Pinky.
Norah stood for some moment's with an irresolute air, then bent over
the child and examined her more carefully. She could feel no pulse
beat, nor any motion of the heart,
"I don't want the coroner here," she said, in a tone of annoyance.
"Take her back to Flanagan; it's her work, and she must stand by
"Is she really dead?" asked Pinky.
"Looks like it, and serves Flanagan right. I've told her over and
over that Nell wouldn't stand it long if she didn't ease up a
little. Flesh isn't iron."
Again she examined the child carefully, but without the slightest
sign of feeling.
"It's all the same now who has her," she said, turning off from the
settee. "Take her back to Flanagan."
But Pinky would not touch the child, nor could threat or persuasion
lead her to do so. While they were contending, Flanagan, who had
fired herself up with half a pint of whisky, came storming through
the door in a blind rage and screaming out,
"Where's my Nell? I want my Nell!"
Catching sight of the child's inanimate form lying on the settee,
she pounced down upon it like some foul bird and bore it off,
cursing and striking the senseless clay in her insane fury.
Pinky, horrified at the dreadful sight, and not sure that the child
was really dead, and so insensible to pain, made a movement to
follow, but Norah caught her arm with a tight grip and held her
"Are you a fool?" said the queen, sternly. "Let Flanagan alone.
Nell's out of her reach, and I'm glad of it."
"If I was only sure!" exclaimed Pinky.
"You may be. I know death--I've seen it often enough. They'll have
the coroner over there in the morning. It's Flanagan's concern, not
yours or mine, so keep out of it if you know when you're well off."
"I'll appear against her at the inquest," said Pinky.
"You'll do no such thing. Keep your tongue behind your teeth. It's
time enough to show it when it's pulled out. Take my advice, and
mind your own business. You'll have enough to do caring for your own
head, without looking after other people's."
"I'm not one of that kind," answered Pinky, a little tartly; "and if
there's any way to keep Flanagan from murdering another child, I'm
going to find it out."
"You'll find out something else first," said Norah, with a slight
curl of her lip.
"The way to prison."
"Pshaw! I'm not afraid."
"You'd better be. If you appear against Flanagan, she'll have you
caged before to-morrow night."
"How can she do it?"
"Swear against you before an alderman, and he'll send you down if
it's only to get his fee. She knows her man."
"Suppose murder is proved against her?"
"Suppose!" Norah gave a little derisive laugh.
"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. He's used to
seeing things break."
_FOR_ a short time the sounds of cruel exultation came over from
Flanagan's; then all was still.
"Sal's put her mark on you," said Norah, looking steadily into
Pinky's face, and laughing in a cold, half-amused way.
Pinky raised her hand to her swollen cheek. "Does it look very bad?"
"Spoils your beauty some."
"Will it get black?"
"Shouldn't wonder. But what can't be helped, can't. You'll mind your
own business next time, and keep out of Sal's way. She's dangerous.
What's the matter?"
"Got a sort of chill," replied the girl, who from nervous reaction
was beginning to shiver.
"Oh, want something to warm you up." Norah brought out a bottle of
spirits. Pinky poured a glass nearly half full, added some water,
and then drank off the fiery mixture.
"None of your common stuff," said Norah, with a smile, as Pinky
smacked her lips. The girl drew her handkerchief from her pocket,
and as she did so a piece of paper dropped on the floor.
"Oh, there it is!" she exclaimed, light flashing into her face.
"Going to make a splendid hit. Just look at them rows."
Norah threw an indifferent glance on the paper.
"They're lucky, every one of them," said Pinky. "Going to put half a
dollar on each row--sure to make a hit."
The queen gave one of her peculiar shrugs.
"Going to break Sam McFaddon," continued Pinky, her spirits rising
under the influence of Norah's treat.
"Soft heads don't often break hard rocks," returned the woman, with
a covert sneer.
"That's an insult!" cried Pinky, on whom the liquor she had just
taken was beginning to have a marked effect, "and I won't stand an
insult from you or anybody else."
"Well, I wouldn't if I was you," returned Norah, coolly. A hard
expression began settling about her mouth.
"And I don't mean to. I'm as good as you are, any day!"
"You may be a great deal better, for all I care," answered Norah.
"Only take my advice, and keep a civil tongue in your head." There
was a threatening undertone in the woman's voice. She drew her tall
person more erect, and shook herself like a wild beast aroused from
Pinky was too blind to see the change that had come so suddenly. A
stinging retort fell from her lips. But the words had scarcely died
on the air ere she found herself in the grip of vice-like hands.
Resistance was of no more avail than if she had been a child. In
what seemed but a moment of time she was pushed back through the
door and dropped upon the pavement. Then the door shut, and she was
alone on the outside--no, not alone, for scores of the denizens who
huddle together in that foul region were abroad, and gathered around
her as quickly as flies about a heap of offal, curious, insolent and
aggressive. As she arose to her feet she found herself hemmed in by
a jeering crowd.
"Ho! it's Pinky Swett!" cried a girl, pressing toward her. "Hi,
Pinky! what's the matter? What's up?"
"Norah pitched her out! I saw it!" screamed a boy, one of the young
thieves that harbored in the quarter.
"It's a lie!" Pinky answered back as she confronted the crowd.
At this moment another boy, who had come up behind Pinky, gave her
dress so violent a jerk that she fell over backward on the pavement,
striking her head on a stone and cutting it badly. She lay there,
unable to rise, the crowd laughing with as much enjoyment as if
witnessing a dog-fight.
"Give her a dose of mud!" shouted one of the boys; and almost as
soon as the words were out of his mouth her face was covered with a
paste of filthy dirt from the gutter. This, instead of exciting
pity, only gave a keener zest to the show. The street rang with
shouts and peals of merriment, bringing a new and larger crowd to
see the fun. With them came one or two policemen.
Seeing that it was only a drunken woman, they pushed back the crowd
and raised her to her feet. As they did so the blood streamed from
the back of her head and stained her dress to the waist. She was
taken to the nearest station-house.
At eleven o'clock on the next morning, punctual to the minute, came
Mrs. Dinneford to the little third-story room in which she had met
Mrs. Bray. She repeated her rap at the door before it was opened,
and noticed that a key was turned in the lock.
"You have seen the woman?" she said as she took an offered seat,
coming at once to the object of her visit.
"I gave her the money."
Mrs. Bray shook her head:
"Afraid I can't do much with her."
"Why?" an anxious expression coming into Mrs. Dinneford's face.
"These people suspect everybody; there is no honor nor truth in
them, and they judge every one by themselves. She half accused me of
getting a larger amount of money from you, and putting her off with
the paltry sum of thirty dollars."
Mrs. Bray looked exceedingly hurt and annoyed.
"Threatened," she went on, "to go to you herself--didn't want any
go-betweens nor brokers. I expected to hear you say that she'd been
at your house this morning."
"Good Gracious! no!" Mrs. Dinneford's face was almost distorted with
"It's the way with all these people," coolly remarked Mrs. Bray.
"You're never safe with them."
"Did you hint at her leaving the city?--going to New Orleans, for
"Oh dear, no! She isn't to be managed in that way--is deeper and
more set than I thought. The fact is, Mrs. Dinneford"--and Mrs. Bray
lowered her voice and looked shocked and mysterious--"I'm beginning
to suspect her as being connected with a gang."
"With a gang? What kind of a gang?" Mrs. Dinneford turned slightly
"A gang of thieves. She isn't the right thing; I found that out long
ago. You remember what I said when you gave her the child. I told
you that she was not a good woman, and that it was a cruel thing to
put a helpless, new-born baby into her hands."
"Never mind about that." Mrs. Dinneford waved her hand impatiently.
"The baby's out of her hands, so far as that is concerned. A gang of
"Yes, I'm 'most sure of it. Goes to people's houses on one excuse
and another, and finds out where the silver is kept and how to get
in. You don't know half the wickedness that's going on. So you see
it's no use trying to get her away."
Mrs. Bray was watching the face of her visitor with covert scrutiny,
gauging, as she did so, by its weak alarms, the measure of her power
"Dreadful! dreadful!" ejaculated Mrs. Dinneford, with dismay.
"It's bad enough," said Mrs. Bray, "and I don't see the end of it.
She's got you in her power, and no mistake, and she isn't one of the
kind to give up so splendid an advantage. I'm only surprised that
she's kept away so long."
"What's to be done about it?" asked Mrs. Dinneford, her alarm and
"Ah! that's more than I can tell," coolly returned Mrs. Bray. "One
thing is certain--I don't want to have anything more to do with her.
It isn't safe to let her come here. You'll have to manage her
"No, no, no, Mrs. Bray! You mustn't desert me!" answered Mrs.
Dinneford, her face growing pallid with fear. "Money is of no
account. I'll pay 'most anything, reasonable or unreasonable, to
have her kept away."
And she drew out her pocket-book while speaking. At this moment
there came two distinct raps on the door. It had been locked after
Mrs. Dinneford's entrance. Mrs. Bray started and changed
countenance, turning her face quickly from observation. But she was
self-possessed in an instant. Rising, she said in a whisper,
"Go silently into the next room, and remain perfectly still. I
believe that's the woman now. I'll manage her as best I can."
Almost as quick as thought, Mrs. Dinneford vanished through a door
that led into an adjoining room, and closing it noiselessly, turned
a key that stood in the lock, then sat down, trembling with nervous
alarm. The room in which she found herself was small, and overlooked
the street; it was scantily furnished as a bed-room. In one corner,
partly hid by a curtain that hung from a hoop fastened to the wall,
was an old wooden chest, such as are used by sailors. Under the bed,
and pushed as far back as possible, was another of the same kind.
The air of the room was close, and she noticed the stale smell of a
A murmur of voices from the room she had left so hastily soon
reached her ears; but though she listened intently, standing close
to the door, she was not able to distinguish a word. Once or twice
she was sure that she heard the sound of a man's voice. It was
nearly a quarter of an hour by her watch--it seemed two
hours--before Mrs. Bray's visitor or visitors retired; then there
came a light rap on the door. She opened it, and stood face to face
again with the dark-eyed little woman.
"You kept me here a long time," said Mrs. Dinneford, with
"No longer than I could help," replied Mrs. Bray. "Affairs of this
kind are not settled in a minute."
"Then it was that miserable woman?"
"Well, what did you make out of her?"
"Not much; she's too greedy. The taste of blood has sharpened her
"What does she want?"
"She wants two hundred dollars paid into her hand to-day, and says
that if the money isn't here by sundown, you'll have a visit from
her in less than an hour afterward."
"Will that be the end of it?"
A sinister smile curved Mrs. Bray's lips slightly.
"More than I can say," she answered.
"Two hundred dollars?"
"Yes. She put the amount higher, but I told her she'd better not go
for too big a slice or she might get nothing--that there was such a
thing as setting the police after her. She laughed at this in such a
wicked, sneering way that I felt my flesh creep, and said she knew
the police, and some of their masters, too, and wasn't afraid of
them. She's a dreadful woman;" and Mrs. Bray shivered in a very
"If I thought this would be the last of it!" said Mrs. Dinneford as
she moved about the room in a disturbed way, and with an anxious
look on her face.
"Perhaps," suggested her companion, "it would be best for you to
grapple with this thing at the outset--to take our vampire by the
throat and strangle her at once. The knife is the only remedy for
some forms of disease. If left to grow and prey upon the body, they
gradually suck away its life and destroy it in the end."
"If I only knew how to do it," replied Mrs. Dinneford. "If I could
only get her in my power, I'd make short works of her." Her eyes
flashed with a cruel light.
"It might be done."
"Mr. Dinneford knows the chief of police."
The light went out of Mrs. Dinneford's eyes:
"It can't be done in that way, and you know it as well as I do."
Mrs. Dinneford turned upon Mrs. Bray sharply, and with a gleam of
suspicion in her face.
"I don't know any other way, unless you go to the chief yourself,"
replied Mrs. Bray, coolly. "There is no protection in cases like
this except through the law. Without police interference, you are
wholly in this woman's power."
Mrs. Dinneford grew very pale.
"It is always dangerous," went on Mrs. Bray, "to have anything to do
with people of this class. A woman who for hire will take a new-born
baby and sell it to a beggar-woman will not stop at anything. It is
very unfortunate that you are mixed up with her."
"I'm indebted to you for the trouble," replied. Mrs. Dinneford, with
considerable asperity of manner. "You ought to have known something
about the woman before employing her in a delicate affair of this
"Saints don't hire themselves to put away new-born babies," retorted
Mrs. Bray, with an ugly gurgle in her throat. "I told you at the
time that she was a bad woman, and have not forgotten your answer."
"What did I answer?"
"That she might be the devil for all you cared!"
"You are mistaken."
"No; I repeat your very words. They surprised and shocked me at the
time, and I have not forgotten them. People who deal with the devil
usually have the devil to pay; and your case, it seems, is not to be
Mrs. Bray had assumed an air of entire equality with her visitor.
A long silence followed, during which Mrs. Dinneford walked the
floor with the quick, restless motions of a caged animal.
"How long do you think two hundred dollars will satisfy her?" she
asked, at length, pausing and turning to her companion.
"It is impossible for me to say," was answered; "not long, unless
you can manage to frighten her off; you must threaten hard."
Another silence followed.
"I did not expect to be called on for so large a sum," Mrs.
Dinneford said at length, in a husky voice, taking out her
pocket-book as she spoke. "I have only a hundred dollars with me.
Give her that, and put her off until to-morrow."
"I will do the best I can with her," replied Mrs. Bray, reaching out
her hand for the money, "but I think it will be safer for you to let
me have the balance to-day. She will, most likely, take it into her
head that I have received the whole sum from you, and think I am
trying to cheat her. In that case she will be as good as her word,
and come down on you."
"Mrs. Bray!" exclaimed Mrs. Dinneford, suspicion blazing from her
eyes. "Mrs. Bray!"--and she turned upon her and caught her by the
arms with a fierce grip--"as I live, you are deceiving me. There is
no woman but yourself. You are the vampire!"
She held the unresisting little woman in her vigorous grasp for some
moments, gazing at her in stern and angry accusation.
Mrs. Bray stood very quit and with scarcely a change of countenance
until this outburst of passion had subsided. She was still holding
the money she had taken from Mrs. Dinneford. As the latter released
her she extended her hand, saying, in a low resolute voice, in which
not the faintest thrill of anger could be detected,
"Take your money." She waited for a moment, and then let the little
roll of bank-bills fall at Mrs. Dinneford's feet and turned away.
Mrs. Dinneford had made a mistake, and she saw it--saw that she was
now more than ever in the power of this woman, whether she was true
or false. If false, more fatally in her power.
At this dead-lock in the interview between these women there came a
diversion. The sound of feet was heard on the stairs, then a
hurrying along the narrow passage; a hand was on the door, but the
key had been prudently turned on the inside.
With a quick motion, Mrs. Bray waved her hand toward the adjoining
chamber. Mrs. Dinneford did not hesitate, but glided in noiselessly,
shutting and locking the door behind her.
"Pinky Swett!" exclaimed Mrs. Bray, in a low voice, putting her
finger to her lips, as she admitted her visitor, at the same time
giving a warning glance toward the other room. Eyeing her from head
to foot, she added, "Well, you are an object!"
Pinky had drawn aside a close veil, exhibiting a bruised and swollen
face. A dark band lay under one of her eyes, and there was a cut
with red, angry margins on the cheek.
"You are an object," repeated Mrs. Bray as Pinky moved forward into
"Well, I am, and no mistake," answered Pinky, with a light laugh.
She had been drinking enough to overcome the depression and
discomfort of her feelings consequent on the hard usage she had
received and a night in one of the city station-houses. "Who's in
Mrs. Bray's finger went again to her lips. "No matter," was replied.
"You must go away until the coast is clear. Come back in half an
And she hurried Pinky out of the door, locking it as the girl
retired. When Mrs. Dinneford came out of the room into which he had
gone so hastily, the roll of bank-notes still lay upon the floor.
Mrs. Bray had prudently slipped them into her pocket before
admitting Pinky, but as soon as she was alone had thrown them down
The face of Mrs. Dinneford was pale, and exhibited no ordinary signs
of discomfiture and anxiety.
"Who was that?" she asked.
"A friend," replied Mrs. Bray, in a cold, self-possessed manner.
A few moments of embarrassed silence followed. Mrs. Bray crossed the
room, touching with her foot the bank-bills, as if they were of no
account to her.
"I am half beside myself," said Mrs. Dinneford.
Mrs. Bray made no response, did not even turn toward her visitor.
"I spoke hastily."
"A vampire!" Mrs. Bray swept round upon her fiercely. "A
blood-sucker!" and she ground her teeth in well-feigned passion.
Mrs. Dinneford sat down trembling.
"Take your money and go," said Mrs. Bray, and she lifted the bills
from the floor and tossed them into her visitor's lap. "I am served
right. It was evil work, and good never comes of evil."
But Mrs. Dinneford did not stir. To go away at enmity with this
woman was, so far as she could see, to meet exposure and unutterable
disgrace. Anything but that.
"I shall leave this money, trusting still to your good offices," she
said, at length, rising. Her manner was much subdued. "I spoke
hastily, in a sort of blind desperation. We should not weigh too
carefully the words that are extorted by pain or fear. In less than
an hour I will send you a hundred dollars more."
Mrs. Dinneford laid the bank-bills on a table, and then moved to the
door, but she dared not leave in this uncertainty. Looking back, she
said, with an appealing humility of voice and manner foreign to her
"Let us be friends still, Mrs. Bray; we shall gain nothing by being
enemies. I can serve you, and you can serve me. My suspicions were
ill founded. I felt wild and desperate, and hardly knew what I was
She stood anxiously regarding the little dark-eyed woman, who did
not respond by word or movement.
Taking her hand from the door she was about opening, Mrs. Dinneford
came back into the room, and stood close to Mrs. Bray:
"Shall I send you the money?"
"You can do as you please," was replied, with chilling indifference.
"Are you implacable?"
"I am not used to suspicion, much less denunciation and assault. A
vampire! Do you know what that means?"
"It meant, as used by me, only madness. I did not know what I was
saying. It was a cry of pain--nothing more. Consider how I stand,
how much I have at stake, in what a wretched affair I have become
involved. It is all new to me, and I am bewildered and at fault. Do
not desert me in this crisis. I must have some one to stand between
me and this woman; and if you step aside, to whom can I go?"
Mrs. Bray relented just a little. Mrs. Dinneford pleaded and
humiliated herself, and drifted farther into the toils of her
"You are not rich, Mrs. Bray," she said, at parting, "independent in
spirit as you are. I shall add a hundred dollars for your own use;
and if ever you stand in need, you will know where to find an
Mrs. Bray put up her hands, and replied, "No, no, no; don't think of
such a thing. I am not mercenary. I never serve a friend for money."
But Mrs. Dinneford heard the "yes" which flushed into the voice that
said "no." She was not deceived.
A rapid change passed over Mrs. Bray on the instant her visitor left
the room. Her first act was to lock the door; her next, to take the
roll of bank-bills from the table and put it into her pocket. Over
her face a gleam of evil satisfaction had swept.
"Got you all right now, my lady!" fell with a chuckle from her lips.
"A vampire, ha!" The chuckle was changed for a kind of hiss. "Well,
have it so. There is rich blood in your veins, and it will be no
fault of mine if I do not fatten upon it. As for pity, you shall
have as much of it as you gave to that helpless baby. Saints don't
work in this kind of business, and I'm not a saint."
And she chuckled and hissed and muttered to herself, with many signs
of evil satisfaction.
_FOR_ an hour Mrs. Bray waited the reappearance of Pinky Swett, but
the girl did not come back. At the end of this time a package which
had been left at the door was brought to her room. It came from Mrs.
Dinneford, and contained two hundred dollars. A note that
accompanied the package read as follows:
"Forgive my little fault of temper. It is your interest to be my
friend. The woman must not, on any account, be suffered to come near
Of course there was no signature. Mrs. Bray's countenance was
radiant as she fingered the money.
"Good luck for me, but bad for the baby," she said, in a low,
pleased murmur, talking to herself. "Poor baby! I must see better to
its comfort. It deserves to be looked after. I wonder why Pinky
Mrs. Bray listened, but no sound of feet from the stairs or entries,
no opening or shutting of doors, broke the silence that reigned
through the house.
"Pinky's getting too low down--drinks too much; can't count on her
any more." Mrs. Bray went on talking to herself. "No rest; no quiet;
never satisfied; for ever knocking round, and for ever getting the
worst of it. She was a real nice girl once, and I always liked her.
But she doesn't take any care of herself."
As Pinky went out, an hour before, she met a fresh-looking girl, not
over seventeen, and evidently from the country. She was standing on
the pavement, not far from the house in which Mrs. Bray lived, and
had a traveling-bag in her hand. Her perplexed face and uncertain
manner attracted Pinky's attention.
"Are you looking for anybody?" she asked.
"I'm trying to find a Mrs. Bray," the girl answered. "I'm a stranger
from the country."
"Oh, you are?" said Pinky, drawing her veil more tightly so that her
disfigured face could not be seen.
"Yes I'm from L----."
"Indeed? I used to know some people there."
"Then you've been in L----?" said the girl, with a pleased, trustful
manner, as of one who had met a friend at the right time.
"Yes, I've visited there."
"Indeed? Who did you know in L----?"
"Are you acquainted with the Cartwrights?"
"I know of them. They are among our first people," returned the
"I spent a week in their family a few years ago, and had a very
pleasant time," said Pinky.
"Oh, I'm glad to know that," remarked the girl. "I'm a stranger
here; and if I can't find Mrs. Bray, I don't see what I am to do. A
lady from here who was staying at the hotel gave me at letter to
Mrs. Bray. I was living at the hotel, but I didn't like it; it was
too public. I told the lady that I wanted to learn a trade or get
into a store, and she said the city was just the place for me, and
that she would give me a letter to a particular friend, who would,
on her recommendation, interest he self for me. It's somewhere along
here that she lived, I'm sure;" and she took a letter from her
pocket and examined the direction.
The girl was fresh and young and pretty, and had an artless,
confiding manner. It was plain she knew little of the world, and
nothing of its evils and dangers.
"Let me see;" and Pinky reached out her hand for the letter. She put
it under her veil, and read,
"MRS. FANNY BRAY, "No. 631----street, "----
"By the hand of Miss Flora Bond."
"Flora Bond," said Pinky, in a kind, familiar tone.
"Yes, that is my name," replied the girl; "isn't this----street?"
"Yes; and there, is the number you are looking for."
"Oh, thank you! I'm so glad to find the place. I was beginning to
"I will ring the bell for you," said Pinky, going to the door of No.
631. A servant answered the summons.
"Is Mrs. Bray at home?" inquired Pinky.
"I don't know," replied the servant, looking annoyed. "Her rooms are
in the third story;" and she held the door wide open for them to
enter. As they passed into the hall Pinky said to her companion,
"Just wait here a moment, and I will run up stairs and see if she is
The girl stood in the hall until Pinky came back.
"Not at home, I'm sorry to say."
"Oh dear! that's bad; what shall I do?" and the girl looked
"She'll be back soon, no doubt," said Pinky, in a light, assuring
voice. "I'll go around with you a little and see things."
The girl looked down at her traveling-bag.
"Oh, that's nothing; I'll help you to carry it;" and Pinky took it
from her hand.
"Couldn't we leave it here?" asked Flora.
"It might not be safe; servants are not always to be trusted, and
Mrs. Bray's rooms are locked; we can easily carry it between us. I'm
strong--got good country blood in my veins. You see I'm from the
country as well as you; right glad we met. Don't know what you would
And she drew the girl out, talking familiarly, as they went.
"Haven't had your dinner yet?"
"No; just arrived in the cars, and came right here."
"You must have something to eat, then. I know a nice place; often
get dinner there when I'm out."
The girl did not feel wholly at ease. She had not yet been able to
get sight of Pinky's closely-veiled features, and there was
something in her voice that made her feel uncomfortable.
"I don't care for any dinner," she said; "I'm not hungry."
"Well, I am, then, so come. Do you like oysters?"
"Cook them splendidly. Best place in the city. And you'd like to get
into a store or learn a trade?"
"What trade did you think of?"
"None in particular."
"How would you like to get into a book-bindery? I know two or three
girls in binderies, and they can make from five to ten dollars a
week. It's the nicest, cleanest work I know of."
"Oh, do you?" returned Flora, with newly-awakening interest.
"Yes; we'll talk it all over while we're eating dinner. This way."
And Pinky turned the corner of a small street that led away from the
more crowded thoroughfare along which they had been passing.
"It's a quiet and retired place, where only the nicest kind of
people go," she added. "Many working-girls and girls in stores get
their dinners there. We'll meet some of them, no doubt; and if any
that I know should happen in, we might hear of a good place. Just
the thing, isn't it? I'm right glad I met you."
They had gone halfway down the square, when Pinky stopped before the
shop of a confectioner. In the window was a display of cakes, pies
and candies, and a sign with the words, "LADIES' RESTAURANT."
"This is the place," she said, and opening the door, passed in, the
young stranger following.
A sign of caution, unseen by Flora, was made to a girl who stood
behind the counter. Then Pinky turned, saying,
"How will you have your oysters? stewed, fried, broiled or roasted?"
"I'm not particular--any way," replied Flora.
"I like them fried. Will you have them the same way?"
Flora nodded assent.
"Let them be fried, then. Come, we'll go up stairs. Anybody there?"
"Two or three only."
"Any girls from the bindery?"
"Yes; I think so."
"Oh. I'm glad of that! Want to see some of them. Come, Miss Bond."
And Pinky, after a whispered word to the attendant, led the way to a
room up stairs in which were a number of small tables. At one of
these were two girls eating, at another a girl sitting by herself,
and at another a young man and a girl. As Pinky and her companion
entered, the inmates of the room stared at them familiarly, and then
winked and leered at each other. Flora did not observe this, but she
felt a sudden oppression and fear. They sat down at a table not far
from one of the windows. Flora looked for the veil to be removed, so
that she might see the face of her new friend. But Pinky kept it
In about ten minutes the oysters were served. Accompanying them were
two glasses of some kind of liquor. Floating on one of these was a
small bit of cork. Pinky took this and handed the other to her
"Only a weak sangaree. It will refresh you after your fatigue; and I
always like something with oysters, it helps to make them lay
lighter on the stomach."
Meantime, one of the girls had crossed over and spoken to Pinky.
After word or two, the latter said,
"Don't you work in a bindery, Miss Peter?"
"Yes," was answered, without hesitation.
"I thought so. Let me introduce you to my friend, Miss Flora Bond.
She's from the country, and wants to get into some good
establishment. She talked about a store, but I think a bindery is
"A great deal better," was replied by Miss Peter. "I've tried them
both, and wouldn't go back to a store again on any account. If I can
serve your friend, I shall be most happy."
"Thank you!" returned Flora; "you are very kind."
"Not at all; I'm always glad when I can be of service to any one.
You think you'd like to go into a bindery?"
"Yes. I've come to the city to get employment, and haven't much
"There's no place like the city," remarked the other. "I'd die in
the country--nothing going on. But you won't stagnate here. When did
"Have you friends here?"
"No. I brought a letter of introduction to a lady who resides in the
"What's her name?"
Miss Peter turned her head so that Flora could not see her face. It
was plain from its expression that she knew Mrs. Bray.
"Have you seen her yet?" she asked.
"No. She was out when I called. I'm going back in a little while."
The girl sat down, and went on talking while the others were eating.
Pinky had emptied her glass of sangaree before she was half through
with her oysters, and kept urging Flora to drink.
"Don't be afraid of it, dear," she said, in a kind, persuasive way;
"there's hardly a thimbleful of wine in the whole glass. It will
soothe your nerves, and make you feel ever so much better."
There was something in the taste of the sangaree that Flora did not
like--a flavor that was not of wine. But urged repeatedly by her
companion, whose empty glass gave her encouragement and confidence,
she sipped and drank until she had taken the whole of it. By this
time she was beginning to have a sense of fullness and confusion in
the head, and to feel oppressed and uncomfortable. Her appetite
suddenly left her, and she laid down her knife and fork and leaned
her head upon her hand.
"What's the matter?" asked Pinky.
"Nothing," answered the girl; "only my head feels a little
strangely. It will pass off in a moment."
"Riding in the cars, maybe," said Pinky. "I always feel bad after
being in the cars; it kind of stirs me up."
Flora sat very quietly at the table, still resting her head upon her
hands. Pinky and the girl who had joined them exchanged looks of
intelligence. The former had drawn her veil partly aside, yet
concealing as much as possible the bruises on her face.
"My! but you're battered!" exclaimed Miss Peter, in a whisper that
was unheard by Flora.
Pinky only answered by a grimace. Then she said to Flora, with
"I'm afraid you are ill, dear? How do you feel?"
"I don't know," answered the poor girl, in a voice that betrayed
great anxiety, if not alarm. "It came over me all at once. I'm
afraid that wine was too strong; I am not used to taking anything."
"Oh dear, no! it wasn't that. I drank a glass, and don't feel it any
more than if it had been water."
"Let's go," said Flora, starting up. "Mrs. Bray must be home by this
"All right, if you feel well enough," returned Pinky, rising at the
"Oh dear! how my head swims!" exclaimed Flora, putting both hands to
her temples. She stood for a few moments in an uncertain attitude,
then reached out in a blind, eager way.
Pinky drew quickly to her side, and put one arm about her waist.
"Come," she said, "the air is too close for you here;" and with the
assistance of the girl who had joined them, she steadied Flora down
"Doctored a little too high," whispered Miss Peter, with her mouth
close to Pinky's ear.
"All right," Pinky whispered back; "they know how to do it."
At the foot of the stairs Pinky said,
"You take her out through the yard, while I pay for the oysters.
I'll be with you in a moment."
Poor Flora, was already too much confused by the drugged liquor she
had taken to know what they were doing with her.
Hastily paying for the oysters and liquor, Pinky was on hand in a
few moments. From the back door of the house they entered a small
yard, and passed from this through a gate into a narrow private
alley shut in on each side by a high fence. This alley ran for a
considerable distance, and had many gates opening into it from
yards, hovels and rear buildings, all of the most forlorn and
wretched character. It terminated in a small street.
Along this alley Pinky and the girl she had met at the restaurant
supported Flora, who was fast losing strength and consciousness.
When halfway down, they held a brief consultation.
"It won't do," said Pinky, "to take her through to----street. She's
too far gone, and the police will be down on us and carry her off."
"Norah's got some place in there," said the other, pointing to an
old wooden building close by.
"I'm out with Norah," replied Pinky, "and don't mean to have
anything more to do with her."
"Where's your room?"
"That isn't the go. Don't want her there. Pat Maley's cellar is just
over yonder. We can get in from the alley."
"Pat's too greedy a devil. There wouldn't be anything left of her
when he got through. No, no, Pinky; I'll have nothing to do with it
if she's to go into Pat Maley's cellar."
"Not much to choose between 'em," answered Pinky. "But it won't do
to parley here. We must get her in somewhere."
And she pushed open a gate as she spoke. It swung back on one hinge
and struck the fence with a bang, disclosing a yard that beggared
description in its disorder and filth. In the back part of this yard
was a one-and-a-half-story frame building, without windows, looking
more like an old chicken-house or pig-stye than a place for human
beings to live in. The loft over the first story was reached by
ladder on the outside. Above and below the hovel was laid off in
kind of stalls or bunks furnished with straw. There were about
twenty of these. It was a ten-cent lodging-house, filled nightly. If
this wretched hut or stye--call it what you will--had been torn
down, it would not have brought ten dollars as kindling-wood. Yet
its owner, a gentleman (?) living handsomely up town, received for
it the annual rent of two hundred and fifty dollars. Subletted at an
average of two dollars a night, it gave an income of nearly seven
hundred dollars a year. It was known as the "Hawk's Nest," and no
bird of prey ever had a fouler nest than this.
As the gate banged on the fence a coarse, evil-looking man, wearing
a dirty Scotch cap and a red shirt, pushed his head up from the
cellar of the house that fronted on the street.
"What's wanted?" he asked, in a kind of growl, his upper lip
twitching and drawing up at one side in a nervous way, letting his
"We want to get this girl in for a little while," said Pinky. "We'll
take her away when she comes round. Is anybody in there?" and she
pointed to the hovel.
The man shook his head.
"How much?" asked Pinky.
"Ten cents apiece;" and he held out his hand.
Pinky gave him thirty cents. He took a key from his pocket, and
opened the door that led into the lower room. The stench that came
out as the door swung back was dreadful. But poor Flora Bond was by
this time so relaxed in every muscle, and so dead to outward things,
that it was impossible to get her any farther. So they bore her into
this horrible den, and laid her down in one of the stalls on a bed
of loose straw. Inside, there was nothing but these stalls and
straw--not a table or chair, or any article of furniture. They
filled up nearly the entire room, leaving only a narrow passage
between them. The only means of ventilation was by the door.
As soon as Pinky and her companion in this terrible wickedness were
alone with their victim, they searched her pocket for the key of her
traveling-bag. On finding it, Pinky was going to open it, when the
"Never mind about that; we can examine her baggage in safer place.
Let's go for the movables."
And saying this, she fell quickly to work on the person of Flora,
slipping out the ear-rings first, then removing her breast-pin and
finger-rings, while Pinky unbuttoned the new gaiter boots, and drew
off both boots and stockings, leaving upon the damp straw the small,
bare feet, pink and soft almost as a baby's.
It did not take these harpies five minutes to possess themselves of
everything but the poor girl's dress and undergarments. Cloth
oversack, pocket-book, collar, linen cuffs, hat, shoes and
stockings--all these were taken.
"Hallo!" cried the keeper of this foul den as the two girls hurried
out with the traveling-bag and a large bundle sooner than he had
expected; and he came quickly forth from the cellar in which he
lived like a cruel spider and tried to intercept them, but they
glided through the gate and were out of his reach before he could
get near. He could follow them only with obscene invectives and