Part 3 out of 5
"You're wrong," was Hardy's answer. "It was the old man this time.
There's something wrong with the boss. I think he's getting religion!"
"Get out! You don't mean it!" said the other fellow, contemptuously.
"Don't I?" said Hardy. "Well, you just listen to this!"
He repeated the conversation that had just taken place in the
"Whew! That does sound like it!" said his companion, whose name was Ben
Tyler. "He's off his trolley completely, especially about the money!"
"Well, that makes two trow-downs I've got this week," said Hardy,
sourly, "but I got the fifty from that masher that I was telling you
about! You remember, the swell that calls himself Captain Deering?"
"Yes, I remember," laughed Tyler. "So he caught his bird, did he, or,
rather, you caught her for him!"
"I guess it worked all right," said Hardy, slowly. "He met her and
talked with her, and that's usually enough. Still, he was glum as an
oyster when he gave me the money."
"Mr. Hardy," called a voice at the foot of the stairs. "Come down,
quick; you are wanted! There's a shop-lifter over in the hosiery
Mr. Hardy stopped long enough to hear the words, then he made his way
directly to the department mentioned.
He paused at the counter and began examining some goods, and as he did
so one of the clerks came up to him as though she expected to wait on
"Is this the one?" muttered the detective under his breath, at the same
time making a slight motion toward the woman.
"Can't say," whispered the clerk. "I just missed the goods. There were
six pairs of hose--they all went together."
Hardy glanced again at the woman, whose face was drawn and haggard. She
was by far the poorest customer at the counter.
"'Taint's no use tacklin' them others," he whispered to the clerk, "for
if I ever nabbed a rich one she'd make things lively for me--but I guess
it's the poor one that's got 'em, anyway."
"She looks desperate," answered the clerk, leaning over the counter.
"And, you know, she could sell 'em and make a little something."
Hardy nodded knowingly, with his keen glance still on the woman. As she
moved slowly away from the counter he followed her at a distance.
Five minutes later she had reached the ribbon department. As she stopped
at the counter Faith went forward to wait on her.
"I would like a yard of white ribbon, miss," said the poor woman
timidly. "This cheap ribbon, please, for I haven't much money. It's to
go on the shroud of a poor dead neighbor."
Faith measured the ribbon quickly and made out a check. As she turned
for the woman's money she smiled at her pleasantly.
The next moment Bob Hardy stepped forward and tapped the woman on the
"You are wanted in the office, madam," he said, very rudely. "You've
been stealing goods in the store, and have got them in your pocket!"
With a cry of terror the poor woman looked up into his face.
"It is false!" she cried wildly. "I never stole a penny's worth in my
life! Oh, miss, don't let him touch me! I'm an honest woman!"
In a second Faith darted from her place behind the counter. When she
reached the aisle she threw her arms around the woman.
"Stand back, Bob Hardy! Don't you dare to touch her!" she cried,
sharply. "Are you so blinded with wickedness that you can't see she is
THE BEGINNING OF THE HARVEST.
As Faith wrapped her arms around the woman Mr. Denton appeared in the
department. He was just in time to hear her ringing question.
There were a dozen or more customers standing around the counters, and
they all stood staring in wide-eyed astonishment.
Mr. Denton saw that something must be done at once. It would never do to
have a scene like this in the store, for, besides stopping business, it
was productive of mischief.
In an instant he realized that he had to deal with Faith, for the woman
was clinging to the girl and imploring her protection.
He went forward at once and spoke as calmly as possible.
"Take her up to the office, Miss Marvin, and quiet her if you can. She
shall not be harmed. I have no doubt she is innocent."
"And I know she isn't," blurted out Hardy, angrily. He was frantic to
think that the woman might escape him.
"Well, whether she is or not, she will be treated kindly," said Mr.
Denton. "So use your power to make her go quietly, Miss Marvin."
As he said these words he looked straight at Faith, and the thankfulness
in her eyes repaid him in an instant.
"Come, my friend," she said sweetly. "Come with me to the office. There
is nothing to be afraid of. You will only have to prove your innocence."
The woman checked her sobs and went willingly. Faith's manner had calmed
her fears in great measure. Mr. Hardy followed them to make his
accusations, and Mr. Denton led them all to his own private office. As
soon as they were there a woman detective was sent for, and the
supposed shop-lifter was taken behind a screen and searched thoroughly.
While this was being done Faith was bursting with indignation.
"Just think of an innocent person being subjected to such an outrage!"
she cried. "Oh, Mr. Denton, is there not some other way to do this?"
"I wish there was," said that gentleman shortly, "for our detective's
mistakes have already cost us several thousand dollars."
"I don't wonder," said Faith. "A woman could hardly forgive such an
insult, but your detective is capable of far worse, Mr. Denton; he is a
very wicked man. I think it is my duty to denounce him."
If a thunder-bolt had fallen at his feet Hardy could hardly have been
more astonished. He had not dreamed that the timid girl would dare tell
what he had done, particularly as she had acquiesced, as he supposed, in
his vile suggestion.
Mr. Denton glanced at her sharply, but she did not quail, although her
cheeks were scarlet over the unpleasant remembrance.
"Eh! What has Hardy done? Tell me at once, Miss Marvin. You will never
have a better time than when he is present to hear you."
"Oh, I would never tell it behind his back," said Faith. "I always deal
fairly and squarely, even with my enemies."
As she spoke, she looked Hardy steadily in the eye. He saw that she
would treat him justly, but with no mercy. It was a difficult matter for
Faith to tell her tale, but she did it in a way that was absolutely
"And, oh, Mr. Denton," she cried in conclusion, "is it not enough that
we girls have to work so hard without being subjected to such vile,
Mr. Denton put his hands to his temples and pressed them hard for a
moment. The girl's words had overwhelmed him with the full sense of his
To be able to prevent all or many of these evils and then to be
indifferent, thoughtless, neglectful. It had all come to him at
once--while the girl was speaking, just as the first tinge of remorse
had come when Miss Jennings was dying.
Hardy was standing like a statue, his face purple with anger. It was
useless for him to speak. He was convicted without evidence.
Mr. Denton had not replied when the poor woman was led out. She had been
searched thoroughly by the woman detective, but there were no stolen
goods about her.
"That settles it, Hardy. Yon can go," said Mr. Denton wearily. "The
cashier will pay you. I am done with your services."
Faith gave utterance to a pitiful cry. Hardy turned and glared at her a
second and then left the office.
"Oh, I did not mean to get him discharged," groaned Faith. "Perhaps a
little more mercy would have been far better."
"He deserves no mercy," said Mr. Denton, shortly. There was a decision
in his words that was quite contrary to his nature.
The poor woman slipped away thankfully with a grateful smile at Faith,
and she was left alone with Mr. Denton. It was the moment she had been
praying for, and Faith did not intend to lose it Without a moment's
hesitation she spoke softly to her employer.
"Please, Mr. Denton, may I say a few words more? They are not busy
downstairs. I am sure they'll not need me."
"Say what you wish," was the answer, and Faith hurried on. Her very soul
was on her lips as the words fell from them.
"There are so many things that might be done to improve the conditions
for the girls--so much that would add to their happiness and comfort!
And it would not take a penny from their sales, either, sir, for surely
a clerk that is well and satisfied with her surroundings will be far
more courteous to her customers as well as more loyal to her employers.
If they could only sit down and rest now and then! It is awful to stand
so many long hours. We grow faint and sick, and our backs ache
terribly. Why, I have only been in the store a few days, yet last night
I could not sleep, I was so lame and weary."
She paused for breath, and then hurried on. Mr. Denton had turned his
face away, but was listening intently.
"There are all sorts and kinds of girls in the store, Mr. Denton; some
are good and pure, while others are reckless and even vicious. Poor
things, they have nothing: behind them but memories of sorrow, and there
is nothing ahead of them but hard work and trouble. It seems to me God
never meant us to have it so hard--if He had He would have made our
nerves and our muscles stronger. I think he meant us to do our share of
work in the world, but he made men to protect us from the real drudgery
of life, whether they were our fathers, brothers, husbands or employers.
Of course, I am only a child in years, but it has all been forced upon
me by a single week in the store. I have seen more sorrow in three days
than I ever dreamed of, and I am praying night and day to be able to
She came to a dead stop with the tears choking her voice. The next
instant Mr. Denton rose and patted her on the shoulder.
"Bless you, child, you have shown me my duty at last!" he said,
hoarsely. "I have neglected it long enough, but, with the help of God, I
will neglect it no longer."
Faith gave a cry of joy as she heard the words.
"Oh, my prayers have been answered, dear Mr. Denton!" she cried. "I have
been begging God to let me be His torch-bearer on earth, to carry the
light into the dark places where it is so much needed, to banish with
its glow all the shadows of evil!"
MISS JENNINGS' FUNERAL.
The rest of the day passed very pleasantly to Faith. She was so
over-joyed at Mr. Denton's expressions in the morning that it seemed as
if nothing could depress her spirits. The "peace that passeth
understanding," had come into her heart, and even Maggie Brady's glances
of hatred failed to cause her more than a passing sorrow.
That evening she hurried home, and had tea with her mother; then, taking
little Dick between them, they went to the undertaker's establishment to
be present at the funeral of Miss Jennings. As they reached the place
Faith was surprised to see Mr. Day. He was standing on the steps talking
to two young men, whose appearance indicated that they were newspaper
Both Faith and her mother were heavily veiled, and as they mounted the
steps it was apparent to Faith that she was not recognized by her
employer. As they passed she heard him speaking in a most affable
manner. There were only a few words, but they made Faith shudder.
"We hope this sad occurrence will prove beneficial to our employees," he
said blandly, "for they are apt to be thoughtless in religious matters."
"Did you hear that, mother?" Faith whispered the question softly.
"He's a hypocrite," answered her mother, with a moan of horror. "Just
think, Faith, he is one of the men who ruined your father."
The room in which the casket lay was well filled with young women, but
not half of their faces were familiar to Faith, although she concluded
rightfully that they had all known Miss Jennings.
"Can you sing, miss?" asked a gentleman in black whom Faith saw at once
was the undertaker. "I have secured a minister, but they did not allow
me for singers."
"I'll try," said Faith, with a sob in her throat. "I can sing some of
the Moody and Sankey hymns if you think they will be suitable."
"One will do," said the gentleman. "Sing it right after the prayer. I
expect the others will all join in if you select a familiar one."
Faith nodded her head and looked around the room again. She soon saw
Miss Fairbanks, Miss Jones and one or two others with whom she had
spoken during her brief period of service. Mr. Gibson came in just then
with another reporter. The young man was taking down in shorthand what
Mr. Gibson told him.
"It is the first death that has ever occurred in the store, and
consequently the firm is much distressed over it," said Mr. Gibson.
"They are remarkably considerate of their employees, and this poor girl
was a consumptive; she was ill when we hired her."
"Do you pay all the expenses?" asked the reporter, without looking up.
"Certainly, certainly!" said Mr. Gibson. "The firm is extremely generous
in all such matters."
The reporter left just as the minister entered. It was apparent that for
some reason Mr. Gibson intended to remain as representative of the firm.
Poor little Dick cried miserably for the first few minutes, but he
finally fell asleep on Mrs. Marvin's bosom.
After the clergyman had spoken a few simple words, and offered a fervent
prayer, there was a moment of solemn, breathless silence. Some one
entered softly. It was Mr. Denton. Faith had no opportunity to look at
his face, for Mr. Davis, the undertaker, signaled her that it was time
for the hymn.
Almost without realizing it the young girl rose and went over to the
coffin. As she caught sight of the dead girl's face she seemed to
receive an inspiration direct from heaven.
Her voice was a soft, sweet contralto, and had been carefully trained.
As she sounded the first note the silence in the room seemed deeper than
ever. Not a voice joined in to help her with the hymn, for the girls
were all spell-bound at such unexpected music.
With her eyes bent lovingly on her dead friend's face, Faith finished
the verse of the hymn she had selected, but as she reached the refrain
she raised her eyes beseechingly, and her glance fell directly upon the
bowed head of Mr. Denton.
"It profiteth nothing, and fearful the cost
To gain the Whole world if thy soul shall be lost--"
The words rang from her lips like the peal of a bell. There was prayer,
supplication, eagerness in every intonation.
As the last note died away several of the girls burst out crying, and
Mr. Denton raised his head and looked at her.
Faith took her seat calmly. The inspiration had not left her. She felt
lifted up in soul into a higher atmosphere, where there was no pain or
sorrow--only tenderness and rejoicing.
The rest followed swiftly. The last farewell to the departed; with poor
Dick moaning and sobbing, the ladies turned their footsteps homeward.
Faith caught a glimpse of Mr. Denton walking rapidly down the street.
The next moment she heard her name spoken, and turned to greet Miss
Dean, the store inspector.
"Am I too late?" asked Miss Dean, extending her hand cordially. "I was
detained at the last moment. I intended being present at the funeral."
"I am sorry you were not," said Faith sincerely, then, after introducing
her mother and little Dick, she made an eager communication.
"I really believe, Miss Dean, that poor Mary's death has accomplished
great things! I am sure that Mr. Denton has felt it keenly, and that her
dying words have awakened his sleeping conscience."
Miss Dean looked surprised, but did not reply, so Faith went on to tell
why she thought so.
After she had related her conversation with Mr. Denton in the morning,
the lady suddenly put her hand on her arm and looked at her searchingly.
"If you have accomplished that, you have indeed worked a miracle," she
said, decidedly; "but deeds speak louder than words. We shall see how
Mr. Denton puts his conversation into practice."
"Oh, that's it," said Mrs. Marvin, quickly. "Practice and precept are
quite different things. Why, those men are all church members, do you
know, Miss Dean; yet see how little their religion is allowed to
influence their lives. It seems as if it was kept only for funerals and
"That has been my observation in nearly every instance," said Miss Dean,
slowly. "I have often said that if I could see a conscientious Christian
I would be willing to give up some of my present theories."
"Do tell us one of your theories," said Mrs. Marvin. "I, too, am very
bitter against hypocrisy in the church. I shall be glad if some one else
feels the same as I do, for my daughter is constantly reproving me for
my distrust and bitterness."
"Well, for one thing," said Miss Dean, "I think religion impracticable.
No person can follow Christ and succeed in any line of business."
"I agree with you," exclaimed Mrs. Marvin, promptly. "The principles of
Christianity oppose success at every turn. To be Christ-like one must
always be poor, always weak and, consequently, always downtrodden."
"Your daughter does not believe that," said Miss Dean, smiling.
Faith was so in earnest when she answered that she stopped on the
sidewalk and faced them.
"Is there any success greater than this," she asked, eagerly, "to earn
those precious words from the lips of our Saviour, 'Well done, thou good
and faithful servant,' and to receive at the end of life that joy
everlasting that is promised to those who follow Him, even though they
bear the cross of worldly failure?"
Miss Dean stared at the young girl in honest admiration. While she
questioned her reasoning, she almost envied her. If a simple faith was
so satisfying it was certainly worth having, but to natures like hers
this simple faith was impossible.
MR. DENTON'S ULTIMATUM.
When Mr. Denton left that scene of sorrow in which Faith Marvin had just
played so sweet a role, he could not possibly have described his
tumultuous feelings. Not a night since that sad death in the cloak-room
had he been able to sleep peacefully, and even by day his thoughts were
sorely disturbed. It was, as his son had said, as though the spirit of
Miss Jennings was haunting him.
He was not a bad-hearted man by any means, but, like hundreds of others,
he thought only of his own interests and those of his wife and son, who
were very dear to him. Out of his own station in life he rarely looked,
and the question of equal rights never presented itself to him
Now, however, something had taken possession of him which he could not
understand. He was beginning to meditate upon the rights of others.
As he hurried home after those brief moments at the undertaker's, he
went over the scenes of the last few days, trying to determine the
causes which led to his perturbation of spirit.
First and foremost in his mind was the conversation with the Government
Inspector just before the death of Miss Jennings. She had taken him
seriously to task about the condition of the store, and her words had
stung him; they were so earnest and truthful. At the very moment of his
entrance to the cloak-room he was mentally censuring himself for his
almost criminal thoughtlessness for the consideration of others.
Then came the dying words and the glance of those death-glazed eyes. He
shuddered even now when he recalled them so vividly.
Since then the awakening of his conscience had come, he had seen
himself exactly as he was, a traitor to himself, to humanity, and to his
God, and the sight filled him with remorse. He was shamed and repentant.
What to do next, was the question of his soul. He could not undo the
past, but, thank God, there was still a present and a future!
He paced the floor of his library long after his wife and son were in
bed, but the next morning at breakfast he told them his decision.
Mrs. Denton was a vain woman, who thought of little but the fashions,
and whose time was nearly always taken up with what she termed her
Her husband's serious words had the effect of frightening her badly. She
looked at him anxiously, as though she feared he had gone crazy.
With young Denton it was different. He was thoroughly astonished and
amazed. It was the first time in his life that he had ever heard a word
from his father's lips that was not freighted with the so-called wisdom
"I have been blind to my duties and opportunities at the store," said
Mr. Denton, in conclusion. "I have been too much occupied with the
making and saving of money to bestow a thought upon the higher duties
that lay directly in my path--the aiding and protecting of my fellow
"Well, you'll have your hands full, dad, if you help them all," said
young Denton when he had recovered a little from his surprise. "I think
you ought to do many things differently, of course, but you'll bankrupt
yourself if you shoulder all their burdens."
His father did not answer. He was thinking seriously. An hour later he
was at the field of action, filled with the righteous determination to
do his duty.
Mr. Day sat in his office when his partner entered. He was busy with one
of the "buyers," so Mr. Denton stood still and listened.
A large pile of "ready-made" garments lay upon a convenient table, and
as the buyer talked, he held them up for examination.
"I find I can get this grade of goods from a man named Finckelstein for
ten cents less per garment than I have been getting them from Goldberg.
They are very well made, and the quality is satisfactory. No one will
ever guess that they are not exactly what we advertise. I ordered this
lot for closer inspection. If they are satisfactory to you, sir, I will
give him a stock order."
Mr. Day mused a little before he replied. Meanwhile he was fingering the
garments in a critical manner.
"Umph! Isn't there a peculiar odor about these garments, Smith?" he
asked, after a minute. "I am sure there is! Really, I wish you hadn't
brought them in here!"
"I will take them away immediately, sir," said the buyer,
apologetically. "They were made in a 'sweatshop,' you see, so it is
quite possible they are permeated with unpleasant odors, but I will have
them aired before they are put on the counters."
"Are you sure they are not permeated with disease?" asked Mr. Denton,
suddenly. "I am told that those 'sweat-shops' are disgustingly dirty
"Oh, the Board of Health looks after that," said the buyer quickly,
"and, besides, I saw a good many of Finckelstein's hands--they were
mostly clean, respectable looking women."
"How much do they get apiece for these?" questioned Mr. Denton again, as
he picked up a garment and held it at arm's length to inspect it.
"Oh, about forty cents, I guess; and they can make two in a day. There's
a good deal of work on them," was the buyer's answer.
"What do they cost us?"
The question was asked rather sharply.
Mr. Smith consulted his notebook before he answered.
"Fifty cents in gross lots, and sixty by the dozen. We use a great many;
it will ruin Goldberg to lose us."
"And what do we get for them?"
Mr. Denton was reaching for the price tag now. His brow was almost black
as he asked the question.
Mr. Smith looked at him anxiously--he could not quite comprehend him.
"Two dollars, sir," he answered, smiling--"and they sell like hot
cakes. It's the grade of goods that yields us the best profit."
Mr. Denton dropped the garment with a look of horror in his face.
"Take the things away," he said shortly, "and, see here, Smith, don't
order any more goods from any of those 'sweat-shops!' I won't have
another dollar's worth of them in the building!"
The buyer looked amazed, while Mr. Day turned almost purple.
"We make an average of three hundred per cent on every garment, and we
have contracts with some 'sweat-shops' or other for a dozen grades of
"We'll buy them off them at a good round sum; then you hear what I
say--no more 'sweat-shops,' Mr. Smith!" was the calm reply.
The buyer bundled up his goods and hurried out of the office. His
employer's decision nearly took his breath away.
"Are you crazy, Denton?" cried Mr. Day, as soon as the door was closed.
"Is it possible that you have lost your senses completely?"
"On the contrary, Mr. Day," was the serious answer. "The truth is, I
have only just come to my senses."
He went over and put his finger on an electric button.
"Tell Mr. Forbes to come in here," he said to the boy who answered, then
he drew three chairs close together, and sat down in one of them.
When Mr. Forbes entered the office it was very plain that he was angry.
His features were darkened by a frown that was, to say the least,
forbidding. Without even noticing his expression Mr. Denton offered him
a chair and then started in to make some astonishing statements.
"Gentlemen," he said, distinctly, "I have a confession to make. I have
already made it to my God, and to my family; it is now fitting and
necessary that I make it to my partners. To be as brief as possible, my
confession is this: While I have succeeded admirably in laying up
treasure on earth, I have woefully failed in laying up treasure in
heaven. While I have done my duty from a worldly point of view, by my
wife and family, I have been persistently injuring many hundreds of my
fellow beings, and showing no consideration whatever for their moral or
physical welfare. I thank God that at last I have been led to see the
error of my ways, and that there is still time for me to undo in some
measure what I have done, and to make amends for the past in the present
and future. Now, what concerns you in this confession, firstly, is this:
As senior member and three-fourths owner in the firm of Denton, Day &
Co., I am about to assume the responsibility of its business, and to
introduce new methods in its various systems which I have every reason
to believe will not meet with your approval. To be absolutely fair and
square, I will tell you what a few of these changes will be. I cannot
tell them all, because that would be impossible. They will develop day
by day as the necessity arises and confronts me. If it is possible I
shall run this store in future on a Christian basis, or, in other words,
on the basis of physical and moral justice, and whether the experiment
proves disastrous or successful, I shall follow it to the end. I shall
sink or swim as the Lord permits me."
As he finished, he looked calmly at the faces of his two partners. There
was no excitement visible in his manner, except that he breathed a
little heavier. For a moment only blank consternation reigned, then Mr.
Day drew himself up with a scornful air, while Mr. Forbes sat staring at
him with his head bowed upon his bosom.
"And suppose we do not give our consent to these changes that you speak
of?" said Mr. Day, curtly. "Do you forget, Mr. Denton, that this
partnership has still several years to run? Whether we own much or
little of the capital, we are still your partners!"
"And as such you are at liberty to oppose my actions," answered Mr.
Denton, quickly; "but in that case I shall resort to the most extreme
measures, for my mind is made up, and my decision final!"
MR. DENTON GIVES SOME ORDERS.
At this demonstration of firmness on Mr. Denton's part, Mr. Forbes still
sat speechless with his head bowed sullenly. Mr. Day, on the contrary,
nearly exploded with wrath, but at each angry suggestion he was met with
the same firm refusal.
"Are we to be made laughing stocks for the whole business world to jeer
at?" he asked as he paced the office furiously, "or to be bankrupted
through methods that border strongly on insanity? For it is nothing
else, Mr. Denton, but raving lunacy! No man in his sober senses would
entertain such a plan for the space of a second! Why, your orders about
those sweat-shops were simply ridiculous! Are we to pay more for our
goods than they are really worth, and then make a charity organization
of ourselves and give them to our customers?"
Mr. Denton smiled sadly. He was not at all surprised.
What amused him most was the demeanor of Mr. Forbes; he had expected
vituperations from him at every point of his confession.
"You are free to rid yourself of all association with the firm," was Mr.
Denton's only answer. "I will buy you out at your own figure, Mr. Day;
or, as I said before, I will end the thing at once. I will apply at once
to have a receiver appointed."
"But I don't wish to be bought out, and I don't wish to dissolve
partnership. This store is making a fortune for us all. I would be a
fool to throw over such a magnificent investment!"
"It profiteth nothing, and fearful the cost,
To gain the whole world if thy soul shall be lost!"
Mr. Denton quoted the words soberly, almost reverently. As he did so a
vision of Faith Marvin rose suddenly before him.
"Pshaw! You have lost your senses, Denton!" cried Mr. Day. "Am I to be
scared into idiocy by the words of some fanatic?"
"You have said nothing, Mr. Forbes," said Mr. Denton, turning from Mr.
"I have nothing to say," remarked Mr. Forbes, gruffly. "It is as Mr. Day
says; you have lost your senses."
Mr. Denton sighed heavily. He was a little disappointed.
"You can talk the matter over by yourselves," he said, finally, "and
remember, I stand ready to deal fairly by my partners. My loss, if I
have one, need not be theirs; you have only to state a willingness to
comply or settle."
He walked out of the office, closing the door behind him. A second later
he had arrived at the door of his own office.
"Please, sir, may I see you a minute, sir?" asked a voice just behind
He turned and recognized Sam Watkins, the boy who had stolen the five
"Come in, Sam," he said, kindly. The child looked at him in surprise.
The moment the door closed behind him he burst out crying.
"Come, come, boy, don't cry! I won't scold you," said Mr. Denton,
He took Sam's hand in his own and patted it encouragingly.
"I couldn't help it, sir; indeed, I couldn't!" he blurted out. "Poor ma
was so sick and needed money so dreadful!"
"So you took it for your mother," said Mr. Denton. "Now, tell me the
truth, Sam; what did you do with the other three hundred dollars?"
Sam Watkins looked up into the gentleman's face. His eyes were red from
weeping, but they did not waver.
"I lost it, sir," he said, simply. "It was in my coat pocket. You see,
I divided the wad, sir, so it wouldn't look so bulky!"
"And did your mother scold you?" asked Mr. Denton, still smiling.
The boy's glance fell to the floor and he shifted his feet uneasily.
"No, sir, she didn't scold--that is, not exactly," he said, sniffing.
"She just talked to me, sir, and then she cried something awful!"
Mr. Denton turned his head away for about a minute. There was something
in the boy's story that affected him strangely. The poor woman had wept
because her boy had stolen some money, yet rich men smiled complacently
over what they called "good bargains," but which in reality were little
more than thieving.
"How is your brother?" he asked, when he could trust himself to speak.
The boy's lips trembled and he began crying before he answered.
"He's pretty bad, sir; in the hospital," he whispered, brokenly. "They
think he'll die! You see, his sweetheart, Miss Jennings, died the very
day after I stole the money, and the two things, with his hard work,
knocked poor Fred out completely."
"Was Miss Jennings his sweetheart?" asked Mr. Denton in astonishment.
This was a phase of that horror that he had not even dreamed of.
"Oh, yes, they were sweethearts," said the boy, with a hysterical
giggle. "They was awfully in love, but they couldn't afford to get
Mr. Denton rose from his desk and paced the office floor. The misery in
the situation was even blacker than he had realized.
"See here, boy!" he said suddenly. "Give me your mother's address, and
here's a ten-dollar bill for her. Now, go home and take care of her."
The boy's face flushed crimson as he refused the money.
"I wouldn't dare to take it," he muttered sheepishly. "She'd think I
"Then I'll send it by mail," said Mr. Denton quickly, "and I'll tell
her at the same time that we don't mind about the three hundred. We can
forgive a boy who only stole to help a sick mother."
"Oh, sir!" cried the boy. But he could get no farther. The next second
he was shaking with a storm of sobs. The agony of his repentance had
reached its limit. Before he left the building the letter had been
posted to his mother through the pneumatic mailing tube that opened in
Mr. Denton's office.
Mr. Denton's next duty was to see his buyers. He was still smarting with
indignation over that "sweatshop" horror.
In less than an hour he had them all assembled in the receiving-room,
which was piled from end to end with the products of underpaid labor.
His speech to them was short but decidedly to the point. They were to
submit the names of the persons or firms whom they bought of, and
receive his express commands concerning all further orders.
"I cannot have the souls of these poor creatures on my conscience any
longer," he said at the conclusion of his statements. "So, if the public
still want these goods, we will make them ourselves and pay those poor
seamstresses what they are worth, besides letting them work in cleanly
"But, Mr. Denton," spoke up one of the buyers who was a privileged
character in the establishment, "that will entail endless work for the
cashier's department, as well as work-rooms. As it is now, there is but
one bill to pay where by your plan there would be a hundred or more,
and, besides, we have no work-rooms to spare; we are already
"I know it," replied Mr. Denton, sadly, "and as I am well aware that
reformation, like charity, should 'begin at home,' I must wait a little
before putting my plan into action."
"My girls will never work with those people, I am sure," remarked the
foreman of the work-rooms. "You have no idea what sticklers they are for
caste. Why, as poor as they are, they turn up their noses at those
Mr. Denton smiled grimly at this information.
"They share that failing with the whole human family," he said, slowly.
"Only a few are exempt from this feeling of scorn; they are the few who
have learned to love their fellow-beings, however," he went on more
cheerfully, "we who have set them this example of thoughtlessness and
neglect must try to undo what we have done by patient precept and
His hearers stared at him, but they were too polite to reply. It was
their opinion that the man had suddenly became deranged. They did not
doubt for a moment that they would go on as usual.
After a few more arguments as to the impracticability of his
suggestions, the men dispersed, casting meaning glances at each other.
Once beyond his hearing, they talked the startling situation over. Not
one of them had ever heard of a similar occurrence.
Mr. Denton went back to his office to think a little. When he reached it
he found Mr. Day pacing the floor as he waited for him.
"So your decision is final," he bellowed, as Mr. Denton entered. "You
have fully decided to make a fool of yourself and wreck the firm, and
all because you have not head enough to keep your religion out of
Mr. Denton's face flushed, but he spoke as calmly as ever.
"If religion is needed anywhere, it is needed in business," he said
quietly. "If I am a fool at all it is because I did not find it out
"Very well, then," roared Mr. Day. "I refuse to submit to such nonsense!
Furthermore, as Mr. Forbes will not hear of dissolution, I shall expect
you and him to buy me out at once! I will sell my right, title and
interest for one hundred thousand dollars."
"But that is four times what you put in," said Mr. Denton, quickly, "and
as you have already been paid a large interest on your investment, your
price is exorbitant; are you too angry to see it?"
"I should have gotten that out of it before the expiration of the
partnership. It is that figure or nothing," said Mr. Day, doggedly,
"and, mind, I will fight against dissolution, tooth and nail, Mr.
Denton. I would be as mad as you are if I did not do so!"
"Then I will pay you that amount at once, Mr. Day," said the gentleman.
"I will give you a check on my personal bank account and acquire your
interest as a private investment. Your price is too exorbitant to permit
my purchasing it for the firm, but we will attend to the details when
Mr. Forbes is present."
SOME STARTLING CHANGES.
As the days went by the employees of the big department store became
gradually aware that something had happened. The first intimation came
from the daily papers, in which was given a more or less truthful
account of Mr. Day's withdrawal from the firm on the grounds that he
disapproved of his senior partner's new business methods.
What these methods were it remained to be seen. The clerks were hopeful
of some reforms, but for a while they only wondered and waited.
Miss Fairbanks stopped at Faith's counter early one morning, when the
store was comparatively empty, and began talking to her in an unusually
"There's something going to happen here soon," she said, confidently.
"And, in my opinion, it's going to be pretty serious. Either Mr. Denton
has got religion, or else he's gone crazy, for he's giving us buyers a
lot of orders nowadays that will mean the failure of the firm if we are
obliged to obey them."
"Why, what are they, Miss Fairbanks?" Faith asked in surprise. Miss
Jones came up also and listened for the answer.
"Well, in the first place, we are not to beat down the drummers any
more, but are to offer them fair prices on all our orders. Then we are
to learn, if possible, who makes the goods that we buy, for Mr. Denton
says he does not want to make a profit out of some poor woman's work
while she is going half clothed and perhaps sick and starving."
"Why, the man is stark mad," said Miss Jones, in amazement. "As if it
was any concern of his what other people work for!"
"I think he is quite right," remarked Faith, very soberly. "I can
understand how he feels, and I think he is very brave to give such
"Then he says," went on Miss Fairbanks, "that there are to be new
arrangements for you girls. You are to be relieved every two hours for
about twenty minutes. That means, of course, that he is going to hire a
lot of new help, and I, for one, am sorry, for there'll be blunders by
"Oh, perhaps not," said Faith, brightly. "I hope not, anyway, for your
sake, Miss Fairbanks. I know just how annoying it is for you, who have
so many clerks to look after."
Miss Fairbanks looked at her gratefully, but with a little surprise. It
was not often that one of her girls expressed any sympathy for her.
"Then, there's to be a full hour at luncheon," continued the buyer after
a minute, "and the best of all is that we are to have a new lunch-room.
No more eating in that rat hole down in the basement."
"Well, that is good news," said Miss Jones delightedly. "Really, I begin
to think that the millennium is coming!"
"Or the Kingdom of God," said Faith, very happily. "There is no doubt in
my mind but that Mr. Denton has become a Christian."
Both women stared at her as she spoke, but, for a wonder, neither of
them scoffed at her statement.
Miss Fairbanks recovered herself first and asked a very natural
"What do you mean by saying that he has become a Christian? Why, Mr.
Denton has been a member of the church ever since I can remember."
"Alas!" sighed Faith sadly. "That doesn't always signify, Miss
Fairbanks. He may have accepted Christ but not Christ's spirit; but it
is plain now that the very essence of godliness is awakening within him.
If this is so I can predict that there will be great changes in this
store and that every one will be for the comfort of its toilers."
A few customers coming in cut short the conversation, and as Maggie
Brady was absent the department was short-handed, as usual, so that
there was only an odd minute or two for idling.
"I wonder if Miss Brady is ill?" said Faith as she squeezed by Miss
Jones in the narrow space behind the counter.
"It will go hard with her if she doesn't show up pretty soon," was the
answer, "for between you and me, I believe Gunning hates her."
"Oh, these dreadful hatreds," said Faith, with a sigh. "Poor Miss Brady
looks so wretched. I don't see how any one can hate her."
"Well, you see, she was engaged to Gunning once, and she might better
have married him than to have thrown herself away on Jim Denton."
Cash girl Number 83 came up as she spoke. She was the girl who had first
told Faith that Mr. Watkins was very ill and in the hospital, and it was
evident by her manner that she had something else to tell her.
"What is it, 83?" asked Faith, expectantly. "Have you heard any news of
Mr. Watkins' condition?"
"Yes, and I've heard more'n that," said the little girl quickly, "but I
won't spring it all on you at once, for it might shock you, Miss
Faith was puzzled at her words, but she tried to restrain her eagerness
until the girl had given a package to a customer and come back to the
"Mr. Watkins is better--lots better," she said, gayly. "They say the
boss has been to see him in his howling swell carriage, and they've
fixed up the matter about the money all right; they must have, because
Sammy Watkins is back in his old position."
"Oh, that is lovely," cried Faith, clasping her hands together.
"Well, the rest ain't so lovely!" said the cash girl, grinning, "for I
saw Mag Brady on the street last night. She was drunk as a toper, and
she says she's a-goin' to 'do' you!"
"What!" gasped Faith, in astonishment as the cash girl finished, "Miss
Brady intoxicated! You surely don't mean it?"
"Oh, don't I?" said the child, with a worldly leer. "I mean lots more
than that, only I'm too nice to say it."
She walked away to answer another call while Faith stared first at Miss
Fairbanks and then at Miss Jones. Both had heard the words yet they were
laughing at her amazement.
"You are easily shocked," said Miss Fairbanks, with a shrug. "Why, any
one with half an eye could see that Mag Brady loves whiskey."
"That's another thing that Jim Denton taught her," said Miss Jones
indifferently. "Why, I knew Mag Brady when she was as innocent as you
"But can nothing be done to reclaim her?" asked Faith, eagerly. "You say
you knew her when she was different, Miss Jones; have you ever tried to
save her from ruin?"
"I mind my own business," said Miss Jones, haughtily, "and I find that
is all I can possibly do. Mag Brady must save herself if she wants to be
saved, but, between you and me, I don't think she wants to."
"But you--you are her friend," Faith cried, turning to Miss Fairbanks;
"do promise me that you will plead with her; it might do wonders! Just
think how you would feel if the poor girl was your sister!"
Miss Fairbanks seemed earnest and sincere as she replied:
"I will certainly advise her if she gives me the chance. Poor girl, I am
sorry for her, but I doubt if I can save her."
"Then we must all pray that God will do so," whispered Faith, very
soberly. "It is a wrong that we will all be held responsible for; to see
her going down to destruction and not try to save her!"
Miss Jones wheeled around and went to a customer, but Miss Fairbanks
paused and looked at Faith for a moment.
"I would give the world to possess your faith," she said, hesitatingly;
"but there's no use--no use--I'm too great a sinner."
There was no chance to reply, for she walked away as she spoke. In a
second she was talking to a customer in her usual business-like manner.
As Faith turned to look over her stock she heard some one speak.
There was a colored man at her counter holding a letter out toward her.
"Dis yere lettah fo' you, missy," he said, with a wide grin. "Dar ain't
no name on it, honey, but I know's yo' face. Yo' is num'er fo' eleben.
Reckin ain't no 'stake 'bout it!"
"I am Number 411, certainly," said Faith, politely, "but I can't imagine
who would write me a letter; still, if you are sure it's for me, I
suppose I must accept."
"Oh, it's fo' you all right," said the negro, decidedly, "fo' de capting
p'inted yo' out on de street las' ebenin'."
Faith took the letter and opened it hastily. As she glanced rapidly over
the writing she blushed as red as a poppy.
"Got a mash note?" asked Miss Jones with a careless glance at the
"Not exactly," stammered Faith, "but it is almost as unpleasant. It is
from a man whom Bob Hardy spoke to me about--a fellow who thinks because
I am poor that he can buy my soul with his superfluous money!"
THE POISONED CANDY.
But Faith had only read a part of the letter when she made her
statement, for, on a closer perusal, she found she was mistaken. If the
writer had ever dreamed of tempting her with the lure of proffered
luxury he admitted his change of opinion in terms of honest candor.
"Dear Child," the letter read, "since our meeting the other evening I
have been thinking constantly how I best could win your esteem and
affection. That I should desire the friendship of a pure, young girl
would sound strange to the ears of many worldly people, but to you, who
are as distant from worldliness as are the angels in heaven, the
suggestion can bring only bewildering sensations. To say that I am
ashamed does not half express my feelings. To say that I wish to make
immediate amends does not convey to you the half of my eagerness in that
"Will you allow me to call upon you at your home? This is the request of
a man who was once a gentleman, but who, through the bitterness of
disappointment, had lost faith in all things holy."
The letter was signed "Cornelius C. Deering."
Faith read it over and over--the signature was in a measure familiar,
but just at that time she could not place it.
As she tucked the letter in her pocket, Mr. Gunning approached the
counter. He was twirling his mustache with his coarse, blunt fingers,
and there was a superciliousness in his manner that was almost
"Perhaps you are not aware, Number 411, that we don't allow that sort of
thing here," he said in a loud tone. "If you must have such improper
notes from men, please see that they are not delivered during business
hours. I can't have you wasting time in reading letters!"
For a moment the floor seemed sinking beneath Faith's feet, but it was
not altogether from the effect of his words--it was the shock of finding
out that Miss Jones was treacherous.
For a moment it seemed incomprehensible that she should have repeated
her remark, but how else could the floor-walker have guessed that her
letter was either from a "man" or "improper"?
She almost bit her tongue in her effort to keep silent, and at first she
was even tempted to show the fellow the letter.
"It was not my fault that the letter came to me here," she said finally.
"Believe me, Mr. Gunning, it would not have happened if I could have
"Oh, of course, you can't help men writing love letters to you," said
the fellow, impudently; "but if I see any more of them I shall report it
to Mr. Gibson! Our rules are very strict. There is to be no flirting in
Faith would have liked to ask him why he did not stop James Denton from
flirting in the store, and why the detectives were not punished for
their villainous efforts in behalf of outsiders, as well as a dozen more
questions, some of which would have included his own department, but she
was far too wise to risk such a venture.
When Mr. Gunning walked away, Miss Jones came up to her. There was a
sneer on her face while her eyes twinkled with amusement.
"How could you be so mean as to tell him?" Faith asked, breathlessly.
"You saw how distressed I was; why could you not respect my feelings?"
"Oh, I guess you didn't feel so bad as you try to make out," said Miss
Jones, snappishly. "Girls that make friends with men who keep nigger
servants ain't always as green as they look, you know! Sometimes they
are worse than those who ain't so smooth or so clever!"
"You are as insulting as he was," said Faith, very gravely. "I am
disappointed in you, Miss Jones. I though you were more friendly."
"Well, who cares what you thought?" was the heartless answer. "I'm not
to blame if you took me for a fool! Why, even Mag Brady could see
through your sly actions!"
Faith looked at her in astonishment, her veins throbbing with
"She understood your little game that day of the fire, when you and Jim
Denton were talking together! He's rich, Jim Denton is, and he's mighty
susceptible! You ain't such an innocent but what you found that out, and
now he is meeting you on street corners and sending you candy!"
Faith had heard all she could bear, so she turned and walked slowly
away. She was so confused that for an hour or more she could hardly make
out her checks properly.
The new packer was a girl about two years her junior, and as Faith
handed up her goods she could not help thinking of Miss Jennings.
Poor Mary, with all her bitterness, had been a true, loyal friend. She
would have scorned to do a treacherous or dishonest action herself, yet
she absolutely refused to condemn such conduct in others.
Faith remembered her plea for the thief, Lou Willis, and that led her
finally on a new train of thought, so that she was able to almost forget
her late conversation.
Several times during the day there were changes made in the department,
and Miss Fairbanks was kept busy altering the prices on goods,
especially on what were known as the "bargain counters."
These counters were principally small tables standing here and there in
the aisles, and during the rush hours they were always surrounded by
Finally, to the surprise of the entire department, the tables,
themselves, were removed, Mr. Denton coming down from his office to
superintend the transaction.
"The fire company has warned him again, I guess," whispered Miss
Fairbanks to Faith. "Well, that's a hard one on Mag Brady; she was hired
expressly for those bargains."
"He will surely make a place for her elsewhere, will he not?" asked
Faith. "It would be dreadful if the poor girl should lose her work
"She deserves it," said Cash Number 83, who was standing near. "'Tain't
as if she was stayin' away 'cause she was sick! She's just on a spree
along with some girls and fellers!"
"What gets me is how Mr. Forbes is taking all these changes. He don't
seem to be saying a word," continued Miss Fairbanks, without noticing
the cash girl.
"Oh, he's just saying nothing and sawing wood," said Miss Jones,
knowingly. "He's too foxy to quit the firm as old Pomposity did!
Probably he thinks it won't last, and he's willing to wait till it's
"Well, it will be a great deal safer here now without the tables," said
the buyer. "If we have a fire now there won't be so much crowding."
"They say he's doing this sort of thing all over the store," said Mr.
Gunning, who had just returned from helping with the tables.
"Then they tell me, too, that he's having a lunch-room and restaurant
for employees built on the sixth floor of the building. All the goods
that were stored there are being taken to the basement."
"And we cash girls are all to be fired!" spoke up "Number 83," sadly,
"except those who are healthy and over fourteen. The rest of us that
ain't got any parents have got to go to Gerry's, or, if we have got
parents, they've got to support us--that's what the boss says, but it
sounds mighty like a 'pipe dream.'"
"It sounds like a sensible arrangement," said Faith, seriously, "for
it's a shame that such children should have to work! Why, you ought to
be in school this very minute!"
"Well, I'd rather be here," said "83" very shortly. "There ain't no fun
in a school-room, and what's the good of studyin', anyhow?"
"But don't you wish to be able to cipher and to read books?" said Faith.
"What's the use?" was the answer; "they don't tell you nothin', at
least not nothin' about how to earn your livin'!"
Faith gave up in despair. She was baffled at every turn. The only ray of
sunshine that she could see was in Mr. Denton's rapidly developing
As she mounted the stairs to the sixth floor to eat her luncheon in the
new quarters, she was surprised to find Sam Watkins waiting at the top
of the last flight, apparently on the lookout for her.
"This is Miss Marvin, ain't it?" he asked when he saw her, at the same
time drawing a package out from under his jacket. "I was told to give
you this," he whispered, shyly. "Here, take it, quick, while there ain't
no one lookin'! Them gals would turn green if they knowed you had a
whole box of candy!"
Faith took the box and looked at it sharply. There was no card this
time, but she felt sure it was from James Denton.
"You can have it, Sam," she said, without an instant's hesitation. "I
really don't care for it; do take it, Sam. But, by the way, where did
you get it?"
The boy whispered the word with his fingers on his lips.
"There they come now, miss! Are you sure you don't want it?"
"Quite sure, Sam," was Faith's answer, as she hurried away. She did not
wish the clerks to know that she had been the recipient of more
Sam Watkins took the box directly to the men's lunch-room, which was on
the same floor at the other end of the building.
Being a boy, he could not long resist the temptation of candy, but just
as he opened the box with a grimace of delight, Ben Tyler came in
carrying a wide-awake, little Skye terrier.
"I just found him in the store; some lady has lost him, I guess," said
Tyler, as the others all looked at him. "I was going to send him to the
'Found desk,' but he wouldn't have it. He sticks to me as if I was his
"I'll get him away from you, I'll bet!" said Sam, holding out a piece
In a second the dog sprang out of Tyler's arms and swallowed the
"There, you can't have any more," said Sam, after he had fed him a
couple more pieces. "I've got to treat the rest of the crowd, and there
won't be enough to go around."
"Keep your candy, kid; we don't want it," said one of the men
good-naturedly, but Sam was so interested in watching the lively little
dog that, fortunately, he forgot to eat for a few minutes.
"Hello! What ails the dog?" exclaimed Tyler, suddenly. "How queer he
acts! I believe the stuff has made him sick already!"
All eyes were turned on the poor little creature, and it was soon plain
to be seen that he was suffering terribly.
"It ought not to hurt him," said one of the men.
"Not if it's all right," said Tyler, going over toward Sam. "Let me see
your candy, my boy; I believe there's something wrong with it."
Sam dropped the chocolate that he was just conveying to his mouth, and
handed the box to the detective with great alacrity.
"There's something in it, I'm sure," he said, after a careful scrutiny,
"and I'm willing to bet the stuff is poisoned!"
A final moan from the poor little dog fully justified him in his
"The dog is dead," said one of the clerks in a solemn voice. "So there
isn't a shadow of doubt but what the candy is poisoned."
A PAINFUL SITUATION.
To say that Sam was disappointed would be describing his feelings very
mildly, but in an instant the discomfiture was forgotten in a new
sensation--he had suddenly thought of Miss Marvin's good fortune.
Suppose she had kept the box and eaten the candy! The thought frightened
Sam out of all further idea of secrecy.
In an instant he had related how he came by the candy, and the clerks
were looking at each other with questioning glances.
"'Tain't the first box of candy she's had sent her," said one. "I heard
Fairbanks say that she got them often from Jim Denton."
"Yes, she's cut Mag Brady out for good in that direction. Well, why
shouldn't she? She's new and as pretty as a picture!"
"But, surely, Jim Denton didn't send this box," said the detective. "If
he's sweet on the girl he wouldn't want to poison her."
"Well, hardly, Tyler," laughed another of the lunchers.
"Perhaps he intended it for Mag," suggested another. "If he's tired of
the girl he may be trying to fix her."
"Pshaw! He doesn't have to resort to such measures as that! What could a
poor girl do to injure Jim Denton? No, Tyler, you'll have to look
somewhere else for your poisoner, I reckon," said one of the oldest men
in the whole establishment.
"Who gave you the box in the first place?" asked the detective of Sam.
"I mean, who told you to give it to Miss Marvin?"
Sam spoke up promptly, for he had nothing to hide.
"A kid gave it to me at the door--a messenger boy--who said he was in a
"Did you sign for it?" asked the detective, looking sharply at the boy.
"Naw, I didn't sign nothin'; he didn't have no ticket."
"Then he wasn't a messenger at all," was the reply, "and you are a big
dunce, Sam Watkins, that you didn't know it!"
"Well, I thought it was straight, anyhow," whispered the boy. "How was I
to guess that some one was tryin' to pisen Miss Marvin?"
Ben Tyler took the box carefully and replaced the wrapper; then, telling
Sam to follow, he went straight to Mr. Denton's office.
"Now, Sam, tell Mr. Denton exactly what you have told me," said the
detective, after he had stated what had happened.
Sam repeated his story without the slightest variation. Mr. Denton
cross-questioned him, but there was nothing further to learn. A boy had
handed the box to Sam and told him to give it to Miss Faith Marvin.
After Mr. Denton and the detective had examined the candy carefully they
held a consultation as to what should be done about it.
"We must have it analyzed at once," said Mr. Denton, anxiously. "That is
the only way of proving the matter."
The detective nodded. He knew that came first, but it needed no analysis
to convince him that the candy was poisoned.
"Has she ever received a similar box that you know of?" asked Mr.
The detective hesitated for a moment. He hardly knew how to tell him.
"I believe she has, sir," he said, after a minute; "but I would advise
you to ask the young woman herself, for I can only repeat what may be
"You are right," said Mr. Denton, touching an electric button and
sending the boy who answered to the department for Miss Marvin.
In less than five minutes Faith entered the office, but before he came
the detective slipped a newspaper over the box of poisoned candy, and a
nod of the head showed that Mr. Denton understood and approved of the
"Miss Marvin," said Mr. Denton, "I wish you to answer a question: Are
you in the habit of receiving boxes of candy as presents?"
With Mr. Gunning's remarks still burning in her brain, Faith could not
help blushing at this unexpected question.
She finally controlled herself and answered firmly:
"I have never received but two boxes since I entered your employ,
sir--one a few days ago and the other this morning."
"What did you do with the candy?" asked her employer again.
"I gave the first box to a cash girl who works in my department, and the
other I gave to Sam. I didn't even open them."
"Why did you not open them?" asked the detective, sharply.
Faith glanced at Mr. Denton a moment before replying.
"Yes, why did you not open them? Are you not fond of candy, Miss
"I like it, yes, sir," was Faith's slow answer; "but the gift was
unexpected. In fact, sir, I did not want it, and so I gave away the
candy because I objected to the giver."
Faith's color had risen as she said these words, and she seemed to brace
herself mentally for what was coming.
Should she answer the next question, which she felt sure would follow?
It was a moment that taxed all the decision in her nature.
Mr. Denton looked at her smilingly as he prepared for the question.
There was not an inkling in his brain of the true situation.
"Do you object, Miss Marvin, to telling us who sent it? Really, the
question is important, or I would not ask it."
Faith looked from one to the other and clenched her fingers
convulsively. It seemed cruel to her to thus wound the feelings of
"I would rather not tell, please, Mr. Denton," she began.
"Then I must insist," said the gentleman, "for, as I said, the matter is
"If you insist, I must obey," said Faith, in some bewilderment; "but I
beg you will forgive me for saying that your son sent me the candy."
Before the words were fairly out Mr. Denton was pale with horror. The
shock was so great that he shuddered as he looked at her.
"My son," he whispered, hoarsely. "Is that true, Miss Marvin? Is my son
one of the rascals who annoy the young women under my protection? Is
He could get no farther--his feelings overcame him.
"I am afraid he is," said Faith, very faintly, "for I have given him no
right to be sending me presents."
Mr. Denton leaned back in his chair with one hand to his brow. The
detective's ruse in covering the candy had produced results as startling
as they were suspicious.
If Faith had known of the poison in the candy no power could have
induced her to tell what she had, but up to the present she was in total
ignorance of the matter, and it was now Mr. Denton's turn to dread the
"My dear child," he said at last; "I have something to tell
you--something that will shock you even more than your news shocks me;
it is this, your box of candy to-day was poisoned."
Faith stared at him stupidly for the space of a second, then the full
situation dawned slowly upon her. "If that is the case, your son did not
send it, Mr. Denton!" she cried in decided accents, "for although he is
thoughtless and careless of others, he would shrink from doing such a
deed as that, even though he had a motive, which he certainly hasn't!"
"I believe you," said Mr. Denton, in a tone of relief. "Whoever sent the
candy is making my son the scapegoat! You say there was no writing on
the package when you got it, young man, and no message or card when you
opened it in the lunch-room?"
"I can vouch for that," said Tyler, as the boy shook his head. "I was
watching the boy when he opened the candy."
"Have you any enemies in the store that you know of, Miss Marvin--any
one who is aware that my son has sent you candy?"
Mr. Denton had turned toward Faith as he asked the question.
"More enemies than friends, I am afraid, sir," was the answer, "for
although I have tried my best to be friendly with the girls, they all
treat me coldly; they are not at all like Miss Jennings."
"It is strange how they dislike and distrust each other," said Mr.
Denton, sadly. "But I suppose it is because they have so little in life,
they are constantly filled with envy over the possessions of others."
If Faith knew this to be a compliment she did not show it. So far it had
not seemed to her that the girls were envious of her beauty.
"You may go now, Sam," said Mr. Denton, kindly, "and, see here, young
man, keep your mouth shut about this matter! Not a single word until I
give you permission!"
Sam promised faithfully, and was glad to do so. Since he had been
restored to his position he had silently worshiped Mr. Denton.
"Now, Miss Marvin, I must caution you as I did Sam," said the gentleman.
"Say nothing until the officer here has ferreted out this matter. A
single word might put the criminal on guard, and a single utterance may
delay the triumph of justice."
He dismissed the young girl with a courteous bow, and was surprised that
she still lingered in a pleading manner.
"Please, Mr. Denton," she cried, brokenly, "don't try to ferret the
matter out! I beg of you, sir, let it drop and keep it a secret! The
injury to your son is no greater than to me, so let it go no further, I
implore it, Mr. Denton!"
"What, pass an attempted murder by!" exclaimed Mr. Denton in amazement.
"I am astonished, Miss Marvin, that you should make such a suggestion!"
"But I do make it!" cried Faith desperately, "and I beg that you will
grant it! Surely it was I who was to be the victim. I should be allowed
to forgive the culprit!"
"On what grounds?" asked Mr. Denton, who was trying to exercise justice.
"On the grounds that it will do no good to expose or punish," cried
Faith eagerly, "for a person who could do a deed like that can be saved
by mercy, but not by justice!"
Mr. Denton looked thoughtfully, but he could not accede to her request.
He did not believe that even a Christian could ignore the laws of man in
such a matter.
"No, Miss Marvin," he said, firmly, "the criminal must be exposed. It is
the only way to stop a repetition of such cowardly actions!"
"It was a woman who did it without doubt!" broke in the detective
sharply, "and she'll do it again, sure, if she isn't punished! A woman
that hates like that will stop at nothing!"
Faith glanced at him reproachfully, but did not answer. She did not mean
by word or look to betray her suspicions.
"I will not ask you to state whom you suspect, Miss Marvin," said Mr.
Denton, "for I see in your face that you would not tell me; but in
regard to my son, I must talk with you later. You are under my
protection, and not even my own flesh and blood shall be allowed to
"I am sure it is not his wish to annoy me," said Faith. "He just doesn't
understand that some girls are different from others. He has met only
the weak ones who could not withstand his flattery, but I can take care
of myself, sir, or, if not, God will protect me."
"Alas! you do not know human nature yet, my child," said Mr. Denton,
gazing at her with an expression of almost fatherly interest, "but pray
always that your trust may be as steadfast as now--that it will never be
shattered on the rocks of sorrow and misfortune."
Faith passed out of his presence with a last pleading glance--she seemed
to be mutely imploring his mercy toward the guilty.
A VISITOR AT THE FLAT.
For the next few days Faith heard no more about the box of poisoned
candy, but she was not allowed to entirely forget it, for Ben Tyler, the
detective, almost haunted the department.
If he was looking for the culprit there he did not show it, for he
laughed and chatted with all the girls whenever he had an opportunity.
Maggie Brady had come back to find her "bargain counter" gone, but Miss
Fairbanks had already received orders to put her behind the regular
This brought Faith and Maggie nearer together than ever, and the hatred
in Maggie's face was very apparent, although she schooled herself to be
Faith treated her as kindly as possible, but for all that she
occasionally caught Maggie glaring at her between half closed lids in a
manner that thrilled her with fresh suspicions.
At those times Faith felt a nervousness that she could not control. She
almost dreaded to turn her back upon the morbid young woman.
More than once she thought of Lou Willis' words that "Maggie Brady was a
sneak and a coward, who waited until dark before attacking the object of
But this always led her to think of Lou Willis, herself, and to question
over and over her well meant decision to try and help the girl to be
honest by not reporting her dishonesty.
She met Lou often now, and always talked to her cordially, but she could
feel that she made slow headway into the young woman's confidence.
"You and I are so different," Miss Willis said one day. "You seem to
enjoy playing the proprieties, while I just hate them!"
"But I don't think I am altogether proper, as you call it," Faith
answered. "I do lots of things that are not conventional and lots that
are unusual, still I always try to follow my conscience."
"Conscience, what's that?" asked Lou, with a grimace. "They made me
without one I guess, and I'm mighty glad of it!"
"But surely you wish to do right, don't you, Miss Willis?"
Faith's eyes were eager with hope as she asked the question.
"Oh, what difference does it make whether I do or don't? Do what you
please and don't get caught, that's my motto!" laughed the girl.
"But you surely will get caught some day," said Faith soberly. "No one
can ignore or break the laws of God and man without being ultimately
brought to punishment or repentance."
"Well, so far as the laws of God go, I'm not worrying," said Lou, with a
shrug. "He made me as I am and as He wanted me, I suppose. I'm sure I
hope He's satisfied with His creation! If He ain't, He can make me over
if He's so almighty powerful, but when it comes to the laws of man, why
that's a different matter."
"And how do you regard those?" asked Faith, trying hard not to be
shocked. The woman's answer came like a clap of thunder.
"I look upon man's laws as my natural enemies," she said sullenly. "They
are made by a lot of people who know nothing of misery or starvation,
and who are as incompetent to judge my actions as I am to judge theirs.
In other words, man's laws are all institutions of the devil! They force
you to steal and then punish you for doing so!"
After a little of this reasoning Faith grew more helpless than ever. It
was like trying to melt an iceberg with a sunbeam to thaw that callous
nature. Only Lou's violent temper and intense hatred of her enemies kept
the woman from being adamant in matters moral or spiritual.
She surprised Faith frequently with her outbursts of remorse, the most
of which were bestowed in the direction of Miss Brady.
"I saw her smiling at you to-day," she said to Faith one night. "Look
out for her, Miss Innocent, that's when she's most likely to stab you!"
Faith trembled for fear that Lou would hear in some way of the box of
poisoned candy, but strangely enough it had been hushed up for the
Some power, unknown to Faith, had stopped every tongue from blabbing.
"I expect it is some of Mr. Denton's good work," she said to her mother
one night as they sat at supper with little Dick between them. "If he
can stop the gossip in the store he will accomplish a great deal, for I
believe half of the bad friendships between the clerks are made through
"He is doing wonders," sighed Mrs. Marvin in answer. "At last I am
hearing of what looks to be conscientious Christianity."
"You will hear of much more, I am sure, mother," said Faith, "for I am
told that Mr. Forbes intends to remain in the firm, and that looks as if
he indorsed Mr. Denton."
"Or awaiting the outcome," added her mother quietly. She could never
quite accept her daughter's innocent reasoning.
While they were still talking, a letter was delivered from Mr. Watkins.
He was "doing nicely at the hospital," he said, and "on the straight
road to recovery," but what was better still, Mr. Denton was coming for
his mother and had assured him that his position at the store was still
open to him.
"Mr. Forbes must certainly acquiesce to that, mother," said Faith again,
"for Mr. Watkins was his office assistant; Mr. Denton would hardly put
him back if his partner was not willing."
Mrs. Marvin was about to reply when their bell rang sharply. Both rose
from the table and went into the little parlor. A moment later some one
tapped at the door, and Faith opened it promptly. She confronted an
acquaintance; it was the man whom she had met, and who had written her
the note signed "Cornelius C. Deering."
For an instant Faith was shocked out of every semblance of hospitality.
She stood staring at the man as if he were an intruder.
Like a flash it passed through her mind that she had not answered his
letter, and that he had presumed upon that silence to force his presence
upon her. The next instant she was brought swiftly back to her senses,
for the man was staring back at her as though she were a ghost, and the
expression on his face was almost pitiful.
"What is it, sir? What has happened?" she asked, taking a step forward.
"I think I have made a mistake," said the man, huskily. "I had no idea,
I assure you, of intruding upon you."
"There are twenty families in the house, so your mistake is natural,"
said Faith coldly. "Pray mention the name you wish, as I can probably
"I am looking for a lady and her daughter," said the man distinctly,
"the lady is my sister whom I have not seen in twenty years. She is a
widow, and her name is Mrs. Adelaide Marvin."
With a gasp of horror Faith staggered back into the room just as her
mother sprang forward with a joyous greeting.
"Oh, Charles, my brother!" she cried, falling on his shoulder. "How I
have longed to see you, you naughty boy, every day since you ran away
from us in dear old England!"
THE UNEXPECTED FORTUNE.
The next act of Faith's was one of noble heroism. In that moment of
misery she forced herself to think only of her mother, thus ignoring her
own position in the matter entirely.
Without a word she walked back into the kitchen, leaving brother and
sister together, and taking little Dick in her lap, tried to think the
matter over as calmly as possible.
It was an embarrassing position, look at it as she would, but not so
much for herself as for the man whom she now knew to be her own uncle.
As the moments passed she heard her mother's voice grow more and more
pleading, and although she could not hear what was being said, she
conjectured rightly that she was urging her brother to accede to
something, while he as steadily refused the accession.
Finally the hall door closed and Faith heard him descending the stairs.
In an instant she hurried to join her mother in the parlor.
"Oh, Faith!" cried her mother, "can you believe it, dear, it was brother
Charles, alive and well, when I had given him up for dead over and over
again! And, Faith, you will never have to work another day, for we are
almost rich, dear brother says. He has fifty thousand dollars in trust
for me from my father's estate, which has only lately been settled!"
"Oh, mother, is it possible?" cried Faith in surprise; "but why did he
leave so soon? You had surely not finished talking!"
Mrs. Marvin shook her head in a very perplexed manner.
"He seems sadly changed, Faith. I don't know what ails him. I begged him
to wait and see my daughter, but he refused almost angrily."
"Oh, well, never mind!" replied Faith blushing. "He will probably come
back again. I would not worry about it, mother."
"But I can't understand it," said Mrs. Marvin, sighing. "It seems
unnatural that Charles should not wish to see my daughter."
Faith tried to cheer her, but she was almost crying herself. Another
shock like this would have brought on hysterics. It had been a dreadful
trial to her to keep that strange conversation from her mother, but now
she was profoundly thankful that she had been able to do so, and almost
involuntarily she whispered a prayer that no word of hers might ever
disturb her dear mother's confidence in her only brother.
The thought of no more work did not once enter her mind. It was with
some difficulty that her mother finally got her to talk about their good
"It is not for myself that I am most thankful," said Mrs. Marvin, "but I
am so glad that you can be at home once more! No more wearing out soul
and body in the service of others."
Faith looked at her thoughtfully before she answered.
"How soon can we have the money?" she asked.
"Right away," said Mrs. Marvin; "it is invested in this city. I have
only to be identified at the bank by my brother."
"I am very glad, mother," was Faith's smiling reply, "for now we can
hire a better flat and have a woman to do the work and look after
everything, but about my working, dear, please don't think of that just
now--really I seem to feel a little bit sorry to think that there is no
need of my working."
"You mean that you are interested in those poor girls, I suppose." said
her mother. "Well, there will be other ways to help them now--you need
not work among them."
"But I am sure that it is the best way to be of use to them," said Faith
quickly. "If they thought I had money they would not accept me
seriously. They would say, as they have said of other rich women, that
my interest is a 'fad' and that I could 'afford to talk religion with
my pocket full of money.'"
"You have learned their arguments quickly," said Mrs. Marvin with a
smile, "but listen, Faith! There is some one in the hall! It is possible
that Charles has returned for something."
Faith opened the door, nervously, but a look of relief soon crossed her
face. The second caller was none other than young Mr. Denton.
"Thank goodness, I've found you!" exclaimed the young man coolly. "I've
been wandering around these halls for the past half hour, either I'm
awfully stupid or the bells are all wrong, for I've rung them all and
nobody has answered! You should supply your friends with compasses and
charts, Miss Marvin, so they won't get lost when they come to see you!"
Faith had to smile, although she was a trifle indignant. She could not
imagine what had brought the young man to her apartments.
"Did you wish to see me about anything?" she asked bluntly as her
thoughts flew instinctively to the poisoned candy. "If you do, please
come in, and I will be glad to listen."
"I do, indeed," responded the young man. "I should not have dreamed of
intruding upon you without a very good reason."
Faith was almost sure it was the candy now, although she had been
assured by his father that he had been told nothing about it.
As she introduced him to her mother, she was anxious and excited, and
one conjecture as to his errand followed swiftly after another. When
they were seated Mr. Denton started at once on his errand, and as he
talked he gazed at Faith earnestly, as though trying to read her
"My errand is a purely personal one," he began, "and you ladies may
think it a selfish one also, but the fact is I have come for a little
assistance. I want you, Miss Marvin, to help me reason with my father."
Faith made an exclamation of unfeigned surprise.
"I don't understand," she said slowly. "What is wrong with your father,
"That's what I'd like to know," was the emphatic answer, "but between
you and I, it's my opinion that he's crazy!"
Mrs. Marvin and Faith both stared at him curiously, for this time there
was more sadness than disrespect in his language.
"Listen to this," he went on quickly, "and see if I am not right! I will
put the situation before you without a particle of exaggeration."
"Wait!" said Mrs. Marvin. "What does all this concern us, sir? Are you
not doing wrong to talk to strangers about your father's business?"
A smile passed over the young man's features, and he turned toward Faith
with a glance of admiration.
"I think not," he said shortly, "and for this simple reason--he admires
your daughter above any girl that he has met; she has influenced him in
the past and can influence him again in the future. And he is sadly in
need of influence, I can assure you," he continued, "for, at the present
moment, he is on the verge of two things, they are the verge of
bankruptcy and the verge of insanity!"
Mrs. Marvin looked shocked, but Faith's brow became clearer. It was
coming to her now what was troubling young Denton.
The young man went on with hardly a perceptible pause, his face growing
more handsome and manly as he became interested and excited.
"My father to-day is worth a million dollars, a large percentage of it
having been made in his present business. He is prominent both in social
and business circles, and up to the present his ability has never been
questioned. To-day he has changed all this as far as it is possible to
change it in the short period of a week. He is making arrangements to
transact his business on what he calls a 'religious basis,' which means
that he intends to transact worldly affairs by heavenly methods, and it
does not take much intelligence to see where he will terminate. He will
be a bankrupt in five years, if he isn't sooner, for no fortune in the
world would float such an enterprise. Now, I can't see this go on
without making an effort to stop it, but as I have little or no
influence with him myself, I have come to Miss Marvin to ask her to help
"What do you wish my daughter to do?" Mrs. Marvin asked the question
with a little amusement.
"I hardly know," was his honest answer, "but if she could just induce
him to think that God did not expect such a sacrifice and that it was
only necessary to do good in moderation, it might act as a restraint on
his wholesale generosity, put a brake, so to speak, on his downward
course to failure."
"But I think it an upward course to victory!" said Faith with
enthusiasm. "And you have no idea how I honor your father for taking it!
Just think, Mr. Denton, what good his money can do! Why, it is a duty
which he owes by right to God, for who else gave him the ability to make
all this money?"
"Do you think God gave it to him?" asked Mr. Denton, quickly. "Well, I
should have said that his most successful methods were invented by the
"Then it is time to put his ill-gotten wealth to good account! I am
astonished, Mr. Denton, that you should wish him to retain it!"
Faith's eyes were fairly blazing now, but the look of admiration only
deepened upon young Denton's features.
There was a cry from little Dick in the kitchen just then, and Mrs.
Marvin rose hastily and excused herself to go to him.
"Miss Marvin," urged the young man, "don't be harsh in your judgment,
please! Remember I have been used to luxury all my life. My mother has
been used to it--we cannot bear to lose it."
He bent toward the young girl as he said the words, and as Faith saw the
eagerness in his face, a great wave of pity surged up within her.
He was thoughtless, even wicked, but he was not altogether to blame. The
very luxury that he craved was responsible for it.
"I would like to help you if I could," she said very gently, "but you
surely would not have me go against my own conscience."
"No, I don't know that I would," said young Denton slowly, "for if you
did you would not be what you are just now, the embodiment of all that
is best and sweetest in woman."
MAG BRADY'S ARREST.
There was no mistaking young Denton's words or looks. Faith could not
have been a woman and not understood their meaning.
For a second her lids fell in a tell-tale manner, and her cheeks paled
and reddened with each alternating emotion.
She knew she must resent the young man's words at once, but her
confusion of the moment rendered her powerless to do so.
Suddenly a thought of Maggie Brady flitted across her brain. It gave her
strength and courage to resist the spell that was upon her.
"Your words are not sincere, I am afraid, Mr. Denton," she managed to
say. "You only think to flatter me as you have numbers of others."
The young man leaned back quickly, and a flush of shame mounted to his
"God forbid!" he said, sharply. "No, you wrong me, Miss Marvin! As
wicked as I am, I would not insult you."
"But you did once!" said Faith, bravely. "The first day I was in the
store! You bowed and smiled at me as brazenly as--as though you did not
It was out at last, and Faith's mind was relieved. She had never quite
been able to forget that occurrence.
"That was because I did not know you," explained young Denton, lamely.
"I thought you might be willing to flirt a little--no one else ever
"Is it possible?"
Faith asked the question in out and out amazement. She could see by the
young man's face that he was not lying.
"The other girls were always glad enough to flirt a little," he went on.
"You see, they knew I had money, and was willing to spend it--you can't
blame them, Miss Marvin; they were a poverty-stricken lot! It's no
wonder that the prospect of a square meal and a little recreation
"No, I do not blame them," said Faith, very decidedly; "but I do blame
you, Mr. Denton; it was wicked of you to tempt them."
The young man's face fell, and he shifted his position uneasily.
"We can't all be sincere," he said, rather irritably, "and what seems
right to one often seems wrong to another. I've been careless, I admit,
and perhaps a little wicked, but don't condemn me utterly, Miss Marvin.
Why not try to reform me?"
Faith glanced at him sharply. There was not a trace of mirth in his
face. It was evident that he had asked the question in earnest.
"I wish I could," she answered, smiling a little; "but if you really
wish to reform, you can do it yourself, Mr. Denton. You have only to
pray, and your God will aid you."
"But I lack faith," he said, quickly. "I don't see things as you do,
and, besides, 'the prayers of the wicked are an abomination unto the
Lord;' you see, I know that much about the Bible, Miss Marvin!"
"But you will be wicked no longer when you go to Him in the right
spirit," said Faith, brightly. "Oh, go to Him, Mr. Denton. It will give
such pleasure to your father!"
"I'm afraid I can't," said young Denton, rising. "I have one of those
natures that cannot accept the marvelous, and, further, I'm too great a
sinner to reform, I guess; but please don't forget me because of that,
Miss Marvin. I would give more than I can tell to have you think well of
Again the admiring glance rested upon the fair girl's face, and it took
all Faith's composure to reply sedately.