Part 4 out of 5
"I shall be glad to think well of you," she said, a little shyly; "but
you have much to undo, I'm afraid, before that can be accomplished."
"You are thinking now of what you have heard of me," said the young
"I am thinking of what I have seen," was Faith's decided answer, "and I
cannot think well of you when I look at poor Maggie Brady."
"Don't mention her name!" cried her caller, almost angrily. "It is bad.
enough for you to have to work with her, but it is worse to know that
you are wasting your thoughts on her!"
"Mr. Denton, I am ashamed of you!" Faith's voice rose instinctively.
"How dare you speak disrespectfully of one of your own victims?"
A half sneer passed over the young man's face.
"I thought she'd been telling a lot of tales," he said, fiercely. "No
doubt she has blackened my character through and through! I can never
hope to overcome your impression of me, Miss Marvin!"
"On the contrary!" said Faith, hotly, "she has never spoken of you to
me! All that she ever said of you was said on those two occasions in
your presence. But she doesn't have to speak, for I can see it in her
face. That girl's soul is on your conscience. You are responsible for
her, Mr. Denton!"
Young Denton turned and looked at her searchingly.
"So long as you believe that, there is no hope for me," he muttered.
The next moment he bowed silently and left the apartment. When he had
gone Faith stood a moment almost trembling with excitement. She did not
even try to explain her many conflicting emotions. This much she
knew--she pitied him exceedingly, he was so young, so weak--she could
reason no further.
When her mother came in she was crying softly. The events of the day had
completely unnerved her.
Mrs. Marvin finally succeeded in comforting her a little, and then
followed plans for the future, both for themselves and others.
They decided to move as soon as possible, so that they could accommodate
little Dick in a more satisfactory manner, and also have a room for a
servant and one for visitors.
It was a pleasant programme, and its arrangement cheered Mrs. Marvin
wonderfully. She was one of those women who droop under adversity, but
who spring up like a flower at the first gleam of sunshine.
Contrary to her wishes, Faith insisted on going to the store the next
morning. She was so decided about the matter that Mrs. Marvin dared not
"I shall say nothing about our fortune," she said, as she started,
"until I see exactly how it will affect my position as a helper."
The new cloak-room was swarming with girls when she arrived, and as soon
as Lou Willis saw her she shouted to her:
"Hello! Miss Marvin! have you heard the news? Lightning has struck
downstairs, and it is raining surprises!"
"It's a pity lightning didn't strike the jewelry counter," called
another voice; "but if it did, I suppose it would find Lou insulated!
You'd go on talking just the same; ain't that so, Willis?"
"I talk when I have anything to say," was the girl's curt answer, "but
at present, if you please, I am addressing Miss Marvin!"
"Dear me, how respectful we are to some folks!" was the mocking reply.
"How did you manage, Lou, to get that handle before the Marvin?"
"Oh, do shut up!" was Lou's emphatic reply. "I want to tell my news and
you are not giving me the chance! They say that old Forbes has gone home
sick! He can't stand the racket!"
"What do you mean?" asked Faith, as she hung up her hat.
"Why, the boss' religious attack has upset him completely--knocked him
out in one round--and I don't much wonder. How on earth could you expect
any sane man to look on at the changes in this store and not shake in
his shoes if he has money invested in the business?"
"What has Mr. Denton done now?" asked Faith, with great interest.
"Hired a lot of new hands, for one thing," was Lou's prompt answer,
"and raised the salaries of more than half the clerks in the building!"
"Is that so, really?" asked a dozen voices.
"Well, as this happens to be my truthful day, you can depend upon it,"
said Miss Willis, laughing. "Oh, I tell you, girls, the millennium is
coming! I expect he'll provide us soon with private carriages to ride to
"Well, he has one of his own," remarked Miss Jones, from the distance.
"He might at least hire a stage for us in stormy weather."
"An excellent idea!" exclaimed Faith, impulsively; "only, as we live so
far apart and there are so many of us, I'm afraid the suggestion is a
"Then let him provide a dozen," cried another girl, laughing. "What is
the cost of a dozen stages to a concern worth millions?"
"Oh, girls!" cried cash girl Number 83, as she came bounding in, "what
do you think has happened? Mag Brady has been arrested! They say she's
been trying to poison Miss Marvin!"
Faith sank down in a heap on one of the new sofas which Mr. Denton had
lately provided for their comfort.
It was out at last, in spite of their caution. For a moment she was
stunned by the suddenness of it.
The clerks all clustered around her and began asking questions, but she
was too dazed to even think of answering any of them.
"I knew she'd do it!" cried Lou Willis, exultantly. "I've warned you
against her a dozen times, Miss Marvin, but that's what you get for
riling a jealous woman!"
"She'll have a chance to get over her jealousy now," said Miss Jones.
"If they can prove that on her they'll send her to prison!"
Faith staggered to her feet and faced them resolutely.
"They shall never prove it, if I can help it," she said, finally, "for I
am sorry for Miss Brady, and I'm going to try and save her!"
ANOTHER TALK WITH THE INSPECTOR.
As Faith rushed from the cloak-room she came suddenly upon Ben Tyler,
who was standing at the head of the stairs leading down into the private
"Oh, Mr. Tyler, do please tell me about poor Miss Brady!" she cried,
eagerly. "I have only just heard that she has been arrested!"
The detective smiled grimly at the eagerness in her manner, but he was
nothing loath to relate his prowess.
"She's arrested all right! I nabbed her last night," he said, promptly,
"but she had covered her tracks pretty well. I had a deuce of a time to
Faith was still staring at him speechlessly, but with questioning eyes.
She could not help feeling some curiosity about the details of the
"First, I had to find the boy that brought the candy to the store," went
on the detective; "then I traced it step by step until I reached Mag
Brady. Her brother is in a drug-store; it was through him she got the
"And where is she now?" asked Faith, beginning to tremble.
"In jail, where she belongs!" was the heartless answer. "Mr. Denton and
I went to court this morning and had her locked up for safe keeping."
"Oh, I didn't think he would do it!" said Faith, almost ready to cry.
"It is cruel, Mr. Tyler! Oh, I am so sorry for Miss Brady!"
"Well, I wouldn't be sorry for a person who tried to kill me," said the
detective, sneeringly; "but, then, I'm no saint like you, Miss Marvin."
Faith looked at him quickly and could see a sneer on his face. It was
plain that he had no special respect for saintliness.
When she reached her department she found every one talking excitedly,
and, of course, Miss Brady's arrest was the topic of conversation.
"Here she comes!--here comes Mag's rival!" cried Miss Jones, when she
saw Faith coming.
The "head of stock" had got down before her and was beginning to arrange
her goods upon the counter.
"So she tried to kill you, did she?" asked Miss Fairbanks, coming up.
"Well, all I've got to say is, the Lord deliver me from any dealings
with a jealous woman!"
Faith set her lips firmly and did not speak. She was determined to
shield Maggie in every way possible.
"I thought your habits would lead you into trouble, Miss Marvin," said
Mr. Gunning, insolently. He was leaning over the counter, which was as
near as he could get to her. Still Faith did not answer, but went on
with her work. There were no customers in yet, so she had no haven of
refuge to fly to.
"How's the mash with the nigger servant?" asked Miss Jones, suddenly.
"Has he got a wife, Miss Marvin? You'd better look out if he has! You
know Mag Brady isn't the only jealous woman in creation!"
Faith looked at her steadily before she answered, and for a second the
treacherous eyes wavered and Miss Jones felt decidedly uncomfortable.
"Neither Miss Brady nor any other woman has cause to be jealous of me,"
said Faith, plainly. "I have never wronged any human being, and I cannot
understand, Miss Jones, why you insist upon taunting me!"
"Oh, don't mind her, Miss Marvin, she can't help it," cried Miss
Fairbanks. "She's been crossed in love, and it makes her spiteful!"
There was a shout from every girl that had heard the buyer's words, and
for once the tables were turned upon Faith's tormentor.
At about ten o'clock several new clerks entered the department, Miss
Fairbanks assigning them places and giving them their instructions.
"Now one of you girls can go to the cloak-room and rest for twenty
minutes," she said to Miss Jones and Faith. "It's Mr. Denton's orders
that you are not to be on your feet so steadily."
"You go first," said Faith, turning to Miss Jones, pleasantly.
The woman blushed a little and left the counter sullenly.
"Miss Fairbanks!" called Faith, as soon as she had disposed of several
customers, "please come over here a minute; I want to speak to you!"
Miss Fairbanks came over and stood close by the counter. She felt sure
that Faith was about to confide about Miss Brady.
"Miss Fairbanks, I want you to help me," the young girl whispered. "I
want you to help me get better acquainted with Miss Brady, and, if
possible, show me a way to win her confidence."
"For mercy's sake, what for?" asked the buyer, in amazement.
"Simply to give me a chance to prove my innocence, for one thing; I want
her to know that I never even had the desire to see Mr. James Denton,
much less to flirt with him!"
"Is that true?" asked the buyer, gazing at Faith very seriously.
The color mounted swiftly to the cheeks and brow of the young girl, but,
without turning her eyes, she answered:
"It is quite true, Miss Fairbanks."
"That would mean that we'd have to go to jail to see her," said the
buyer, slowly, "and I confess I'm not in love with that sort of
"But surely it won't harm us," urged Faith, very eagerly. "You go first,
Miss Fairbanks, and tell her that I wish to see her; if I should go
first, I'm afraid she wouldn't see me."
"Very well, I'll do it," said Miss Fairbanks, after a minute. "I'm sorry
for the girl, and I'm not ashamed to admit it."
"Oh, thank you, Miss Fairbanks, and do try to make her see me!" cried
Faith. "I'm sure we can do some good, even if it is only by showing her
that we love her."
"My goodness! You don't love her, do you, Miss Marvin? Why, from all
accounts the girl intended to kill you!"
"Nevertheless, I love her--in a way," said Faith. "I can't forget
entirely that she is only an erring sister."
"Well, you are a good girl, if ever there lived one," said Miss
Fairbanks. "You are teaching me a whole lot about practical
"Goodness, that which is not practical--is poor stuff," said Faith,
bitterly. "I wouldn't be a hypocrite for all the world, and that is
exactly what sham goodness amounts to; still, I don't mean to say, Miss
Fairbanks, that I've always lived up to what I knew was my duty! I've
made lots of mistakes, but I was always sorry!"
She sighed a little as she turned away, but her sadness soon changed to
smiles as she saw Miss Dean standing beside her counter.
"How do you do, Miss Marvin?" asked the lady inspector, cordially. "I am
delighted to see you again, for I was afraid I was never going to!
Business is so very brisk," she said, laughingly, as she saw Faith's
questioning expression. "Why, I'm up to my ears in modern improvements!
I'm a carpenter, an engineer and a full-fledged plumber!"
"Do you have to know a lot about all such things?" asked Faith.
"Well, not a lot, exactly, but just enough. We have to know when stores
are lacking in either of the things mentioned."
"There have been many changes since you were here," said Faith, slyly.
"We have a new cloak-room now; you just ought to see it!"
"Oh, I have seen it, you can be sure!" said the lady, dryly. "I've been
up there sniffing around and inspecting every corner, and I'm glad to
say that I quite approve of it."
They both laughed heartily, but Faith was not quite satisfied.
"Can you see any changes that you did not suggest. Miss Dean?" she
asked, a little timidly. "Are there no improvements that look to you
like radical reforms, suggested by the divine spirit of love for
"Not one!" said Miss Dean, promptly. "I see nothing of the sort! There
are no changes here that could not have been effected by the law of
common decency! I should feel sorry to think that a man could not do
what was right without a divine suggestion. It would speak ill of his
sense of honor or justice toward humanity."
She paused a moment and then began speaking more slowly. There was no
resentment in her tones; she was merely reasoning the situation.
"I can see that the firm of Denton, Day & Co. has come to a crisis in
its business career, owing to the illogical stand recently taken by one
of its members. From a paying investment it has turned into a
philanthropical institution, and so long as it can live as such it will
be a great benefit to hundreds. Further than this, I hear that one man
has made an unjust fortune by withdrawing from the firm and that another
partner is watching like an eagle for an opportunity to swoop down and
settle his talons. Then, again, I understand from a reliable source that
Mr. Denton's wife is fast going insane from worry, and that his
scapegrace son is growing gray-headed over the outlook for his fortune.
Again, Mr. Denton himself, who has wrought all these changes, is being
looked upon by wise men as a driveling idiot, or, what is about as bad,
a religious fanatic, whose sudden determination to be good has sealed
the doom of his fortune."
As Miss Dean was speaking she looked steadily at Faith. She was watching
to see if her words had any effect, or if the girl was really incapable
of understanding the situation.
There was not a cloud of apprehension upon the fair girl's brow, yet her
eye was clear; she had comprehended every syllable.
"You approve of all this?" asked Miss Dean, in despair.
Faith's answer was merely a verse of Scripture, which she repeated so
firmly and with such intense eagerness that the low voice fairly
vibrated with repressed emotion.
"And be ye not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the
renewing of your souls, that ye may prove what is that good and
acceptable and perfect will of God."
"I am answered, as I fully expected to be," said Miss Dean, quietly. "It
is positively wonderful, that faith of yours. Why, it amounts to actual
exaltation of spirit!"
She shook hands with Faith and said good-by. They were the extremes of
goodness, accomplishing the same ends, but each working on a theory
incomprehensible to the other.
FAITH VISITS MAGGIE.
The next few days were busy ones for Faith, for, besides her work at the
store, she helped pack every evening, and tried in every way possible to
enter into the spirit of the new arrangements for living, which her
mother was planning so enthusiastically.
At last they were settled in a handsome flat in a neighborhood where
Faith was not afraid to let either little Dick or her mother go out
alone, and this one fact made her very happy.
Not a word had escaped her at the store about her altered conditions,
neither had she spoken again to her mother regarding her uncle.
Mrs. Marvin told her sadly that he had gone abroad immediately after
arranging the transfer of the $50,000 and settling all the details of
her newly acquired fortune. Faith breathed a sigh of relief, although
she felt sorry for her mother. It was evident that his humiliation was
deep and genuine.
She frequently caught herself wondering about his changed name. He was
born a Courtleigh, yet he had signed himself "Deering."
She decided at last that it was a purely personal matter. Doubtless it
was for some reason which she in her innocence would neither understand
Other things which she could understand were claiming her attention, so
that there was little time to spend in idle conjectures.
She waited eagerly as the days passed by for a word from Maggie Brady
that she was willing to see her.
At last it came, and Faith hurried down to the jail. She had no
difficulty whatever in securing Mr. Denton's permission.
At the first glimpse of Maggie behind prison bars she nearly burst into
a fit of crying. The girl was so haggard and pale that she hardly knew
"I suppose you've come to gloat over me," were the prisoner's first
words, "but it don't matter to me. You can come if you want to."
"Oh, Miss Brady, don't say that," cried Faith, with the tears springing
to her eyes. "I have come to see you--to try and cheer you. Do, please,
"How do you expect to cheer me?" asked Maggie sullenly, as the keeper
opened the door of her cell and let her out into the corridor.
"I don't know that I can," said Faith, very sadly, "but you will let me
try, at least, won't you, Maggie?"
There was a yearning in her voice that the woman could not miss. She
stared at Faith steadily, as though trying to read her soul, and in a
moment her face softened and she spoke more gently.
"Oh, I have no doubt you are sorry for me, and all that," she said
slowly. "That's natural, but, see here; I don't want any sympathy."
"But you do want my friendship, don't you, Maggie?" said Faith; "and
that is what I have come to offer you--just my honest friendship."
In an instant the fiend in the girl woke again.
"Do you expect me to believe that?" she hissed in a whisper, "after
doing your best to cut me out with Jim Denton?"
She glanced at the girl with a perfect storm of fury in her eyes, but
Faith's glance did not waver; she only shook her head sadly.
"I am sorry you will not believe me, Maggie," she said softly, "but it
is the truth that I have never flirted with Mr. Denton, and the only
times I ever saw him in my life before this trouble arose were twice,
when you saw us together."
"I don't believe you," said her listener, sharply. "If you had never
flirted with him why did he send you candy?"
"I don't know, I am sure," said Faith hopelessly. "Perhaps he thought I
was young and silly, and would not know that he was insulting me."
Miss Brady looked at her with some surprise in her eyes.
"Did you consider it an insult?" she asked, slowly.
"Certainly," said Faith. "He had no right to do so. He forced it upon
me; I did not want it."
"And he has never made love to you?" asked the woman eagerly.
She was bending forward, staring at Faith with a strained expression
upon her features. To save her life, Faith could not help blushing. Hers
was a tell-tale face--it portrayed every emotion.
"I knew it! I knew it!" cried Miss Brady sharply. "You would not blush
as you are doing if he hadn't done it!"
"But he hasn't, I assure you," said Faith, as soon as she could speak.
"Mr. Denton has flattered me a little, of course, but I can honestly say
that he hasn't made love to me."
She was firm enough now, and her voice was very convincing. Miss Brady
gazed at her steadily and seemed impressed with her candor.
"Well, he hadn't better," she muttered sullenly. "Jim Denton had better
take care--" She stopped suddenly. "I had forgotten," she said bitterly;
"I am helpless and in prison."
"But I am sure you will soon be free, Miss Brady," said Faith, "for I
have utterly refused to appear against you, and--"
"What!" exclaimed the woman in a startled whisper. "You have refused to
appear against me--and you think me guilty?"
"If I knew you were guilty I would still refuse," said Faith stoutly,
"for if you sent that candy you must have been crazy!"
Slowly the frown lifted from the poor girl's brow. She kept gazing at
Faith as though she could hardly credit her senses.
"You will not accuse me," she stammered again. "Well, that's more mercy
than I ever expected on earth or in heaven."
"What is more, Maggie," continued Faith, "I want you to be my friend.
As soon as you are out of this place we can see more of each other."
This was a little too much for even Maggie Brady's nature. Her lips
trembled suspiciously before she answered.
"Oh, I won't get out; you mark my words. Old Denton will send me up, or,
if he don't, the District Attorney will do it."
"I don't think so," said Faith. "They won't if I can prevent it, and as
I am the person most interested, I think I should have some voice in the
"You understand, I don't admit that I did it, yet," said Miss Brady,
sullenly. "I have never admitted a thing, not even to the lawyer."
"Would you not be happier if you did admit it?" asked Faith, softly. "I
am sure it would relieve you to get it off of your conscience."
"Oh, it ain't troubling me much!" said the girl indifferently, "but I
will say that I'm glad the stuff didn't kill you!"
"But it might have killed Sam Watkins if the dog had not happened to be
there. Why, Miss Brady, just think; you might have killed a dozen
The woman shuddered and turned away her face.
"Well, as it didn't kill any one there's some hope for me," she said,
"and I want to live long enough to get square with Jim Denton!"
"What has he done to you?" cried Faith, impulsively. "I can't think what
he could do to make you hate him so bitterly."
"Hate him!" cried the girl. "Me hate Jim Denton! Why, you don't know
what you are talking about! Would I be jealous if I hated him?"
"But you certainly can't love him," said Faith, with another blush. "If
you did you could not harm him so much as in your thoughts. You would be
glad to suffer anything to be able to protect him."
"Oh, I've protected him all right," said the girl, with a sneer; then
she straightened up suddenly and said:
"I want to ask you a favor. I want you to bring old Denton down here,"
she said eagerly. "Bring him yourself and let Fairbanks come with you.
Come any day you like. I'm not particular."
"I will ask Mr. Denton to come, if you wish," said Faith, a little
wonderingly, "and I am sure he will come. He is very sorry for you,
"He'll be sorrier, I'm thinking," was the answer. "But my time is up.
Good-by, Miss Marvin."
"Good-by," said Faith, sweetly, "and you believe me, Miss Brady. You
know now that I am innocent in regard to young Mr. Denton?"
"Bring the old man down, and I'll believe it," was her answer. "If you
will do that for me, I shall have some faith in your friendship."
When Faith got back to the store she went straight to Mr. Denton, and
repeated in as few words as possible her conversation with Maggie.
Mr. Denton had found out himself many things about his son, so Faith did
not hesitate to tell the entire story.
"I can't think that my son has really wronged the woman," he said,
sadly, "but he has been very reckless, I fear, and it is my fault in
"And you will go to see her, will you not?" asked Faith, eagerly.
"With pleasure," said Mr. Denton, "and I trust that with our words and
our prayers, Miss Marvin, that we shall be able to bring the poor sinner
Faith left the private office feeling very hopeful and happy. She was
more so when she met Mr. Watkins just entering the building.
There was a hearty hand-clasp and an earnest greeting; then Mr. Watkins
told her briefly of his recovery and his prospects for the future.
"I am to have the same position; only a much larger salary," he said,
brightly, "which will enable us to live in comfort without Sam's
working. He can go to day school for at least another year."
"Everything is shining with hope down here," was Faith's answer.
"Really, Mr. Watkins, you will be astonished at the changes."
As briefly as possible she told him of her own good fortune, and giving
him her new address, she cautioned him to keep it secret for the
"And now I have some news that will astonish you," said Mr. Watkins. "A
rich old lady, whom I once met, wrote me a letter the other day--she
knew my poor sweetheart, and wants to adopt her brother."
"Adopt little Dick?" cried Faith, in distress. "I can hardly think of
it, Mr. Watkins; yet we must look into it, of course. I must not let my
love for him stand in the way of his welfare."
"That is what I thought," said Mr. Watkins, soberly; "but do you chance
to know her, Miss Marvin? Her name is Mrs. Graham."
"Yes, indeed, she's the sweetest old lady in the world," cried Faith.
"She used to come in here and shop, and Mary and I both loved her."
"Well, I'm to see her to-night, and hear what she has to say. I will
tell you all about it later," he said as they parted.
"It will be a better home than we can give him," murmured Faith,
thoughtfully; "for while we have a few thousands, Mrs. Graham has
MR. FORBES REACHES A DECISION.
Early the next morning Mr. Denton was in his office. He was almost the
first person at the store nowadays, and, as far as he could, he looked
after every detail of business.
At half-past eight the sample room was thronged with drummers, and each
buyer was carefully inspecting the goods which he intended ordering for
his special department.
More than once Mr. Denton interrupted some low conversation where he
felt sure that a deal was being made which could not be adjusted to his
newly awakened conscience.
Then came the opening of the morning mail. He had always intrusted this
to others; now he gave it personal supervision.
Quite frequently he intercepted letters that he did not understand until
he had investigated closely, with the aid of a detective, but in each
instance the wrong-doer was treated with mercy, he was reasoned with and
cautioned, a repetition would mean discharge on the instant.
Thus, almost daily he found fresh evidences of dishonesty, either in the
firm's dealing with manufacturers or customers, or some treachery of
employees, whose opportunity came to them in the form of mail orders.
Goods were ordered in this way frequently which could not be supplied,
and an inferior grade was almost invariably substituted. When this was
done the "mail order clerk's" methods were simple--either he or the firm
were profiters through the transaction.
Mr. Denton finally thought out the solution of this unpleasant matter,
and on this particular morning he summoned the advertising manager for
the firm to his office.
Picking up a daily paper, he pointed to one of their attractive "ads."
"Bring me a sample of these goods, Green," he said, a little sternly;
"you can get them of Billings, the buyer in that department."
"Oh, that's only a blind, sir," was the startling answer, "Mr. Billings
has some old goods that he is trying to work off. They are not quite up
to the mark, but that 'ad' will sell them."
"Do you mean by that, Green, that we are misrepresenting our goods?"
asked Mr. Denton; "or, in other words, that we are advertising one grade
of goods and selling another?"
"That's about it," said the manager, looking a little puzzled, "but it's
nothing new, sir; we've always done it!"
Mr. Denton looked at him for a moment before he spoke. He could not
censure him for what they had "always" done, neither could he blame the
man for his own previous indifference on the subject.
"Don't do it again, Green," he said very sadly, "and send Mr. Billings
to me the minute you see him."
As Mr. Green went out Mr. Denton groaned aloud: "Would he ever get to
the end of his own dishonesty, or was he to be confronted daily by such
Just once he tried to justify his past methods, but with a sneer of
scorn he put such thoughts from him.
As he sat in deep meditation the door opened again. He looked up, and
saw that it was Mr. Forbes who had entered.
"I am glad to see you," said Mr. Denton, quickly, "and I hope you are
feeling entirely recovered."
Mr. Forbes bowed slightly, as he dropped into a chair.
"Mr. Forbes," said Mr. Denton, "I am ashamed of myself! I never knew
until to-day that I was such a scoundrel!"
He pointed to the paper that he still held in his hand, and in a very
few words repeated his late conversation.
"That is necessary in business," said Mr. Forbes shortly, "and it is, to
say the least, peculiar that you shouldn't know it!"
"Well, it's an infamous trick!" was Mr. Denton's rejoinder. "Just think
of the poor people whom we have defrauded in that manner!"
"I prefer to think of the dollars it has brought into our pockets," said
Mr. Forbes sullenly, "and now that we are on the subject, I may as well
say, Mr. Denton, that I am sick and tired of this whole idiotic
"Do you wish to sell out?"
Mr. Denton spoke calmly. "If so, name your price while I have the money
to pay you."
"Oh, you do expect to fail, then? You still have sense enough for that!"
said Mr. Forbes quickly. "Then, why not give up your fad at once and run
the business properly?"
"Do you mean as we have been running it?" asked Mr. Denton, with a sharp
glance at him.
"Certainly, with a few modifications, perhaps," was the equally sharp
Mr. Denton's voice rang out like the blast of a trumpet.
"Go back to such infamous practices? Never!"
"Very well, then," said Mr. Forbes, with sudden anger in his voice, "I
do wish to sell out! What will you give me for my interest?"
Mr. Denton wheeled around, and looked at him eagerly.
"I had hoped you would see things differently," he said at last. "I
thought that perhaps you would appreciate my desire, which is to make
myself more worthy of the God that made me."
Mr. Forbes shifted uneasily, and finally rose from his chair. He was
plainly disturbed over the situation.
"I do appreciate your efforts, and I honor them, in a way," he said
slowly, "but I have not the courage to make such a sacrifice myself, and
I very much doubt if such a sacrifice is demanded. A proper observance
of religion is enough; a man need not crucify his worldly ambitions in
order to be worthy of heaven."
"'Let him take up his cross and follow Me,'" quoted Mr. Denton. "My
cross is to do exactly as I am doing. It is not easy to bear, but I am
happy in bearing it."
"But where will it lead to?" asked Mr. Forbes eagerly. "What proof have
you that your reward will come? This may be a delusion that you are
"I am willing to risk it," said Mr. Denton, solemnly. "It is the best a
man can do to follow his conscience."
"But there are duties to one's family that must be considered," urged
Mr. Forbes. "A man cannot rightfully ignore the fact that he is of the
earth, earthy, and that there is something tangible needed before we
soar into the mysteries."
"He must ignore nothing," said Mr. Denton, gravely, "but, as I said
before, he must follow his conscience."
"Well, I should like to stay with you, but I cannot do it," said Mr.
Forbes, "for, while I sympathize with your feelings in many respects,
yet I cannot indorse your unbusiness-like actions. If you think my
interest here is worth fifty thousand dollars, you can give me that
amount, and I will go--then you will be free to spend your fortune
according to any freak of your fancy."
"You are more just in your dealings than I expected," said Mr. Denton,
flushing a little. "After my experience with Mr. Day, I did not look for
"Oh, I have a conscience, too," said Mr. Forbes, grimly, "and while I
did not know it until lately, it has made me very uncomfortable, I can
There was a genuine ring in his voice as he spoke, and as Mr. Denton
detected it, he rose and placed his hand upon his shoulder.
"Better stay with me, brother, and let us work together," he said
gently. "In the vineyard of the Master there can be no unrewarded
Mr. Forbes shook his head and turned away.
"We can attend to the legal details some other time," he said briefly.
"You are busy to-day, so I will not detain you."
Mr. Denton sat down at his desk again, and as the door closed behind his
partner he bowed his head upon his bosom.
"Alone and yet not alone," he whispered softly. "God grant me strength
to do my duty, and if my lot is failure, let me accept it bravely. It is
all a man can do. He must follow his conscience."
The door opened again, and Faith Marvin entered. She had her hat on,
and was ready for the visit to Maggie Brady.
"I wonder what she wishes to see me for?" said her employer, musingly.
"Is she desirous of upbraiding me, do you think, Miss Marvin?"
"Why should she upbraid you?" asked Faith, very soberly. "You certainly
are not to blame for the actions of your son, and as for her arrest, you
simply had to do it."
"She may say that I should have protected her from him," he answered.
"Some way I blame myself continually in that particular direction."
"A girl should be able to protect herself," said Faith sternly. "I can't
quite understand such weakness in women, unless it is, as poor Miss
Jennings used to say, 'the iniquities of the fathers visited upon
generations of the innocent.'"
"I believe that fully," said Mr. Denton with a sigh. "It is one reason
why I am merciful in my own boy's case--my sins have been perpetuated!
Can I ever efface them?"
They left the building together, going out of one of the side doors.
Just as they reached the sidewalk a handsome carriage drew up before the
"Why, that is my own carriage!" exclaimed Mr. Denton quickly.
The next instant James Denton sprang from the carriage and came face to
face with Faith and his father.
MAGGIE BRADY'S SECRET.
"What is it? Is anything wrong?" asked Mr. Denton quickly.
"Mother is worse," was the short answer. "She's gone out of her head
Mr. Denton paused and rubbed his brow perplexedly.
"Oh, what is it, sir?" asked Faith eagerly. "Is your wife really ill? I
have heard it rumored that she was, but I did not know whether to
"She is, indeed!" exclaimed young Denton, looking angrily at his father;
"and she has every reason to be. It is only natural."
"Hush!" exclaimed Mr. Denton sternly. "You shall not criticise my
actions. As your father, I expect and demand your silence. I am
responsible to God alone--not to my wife or family."
"Well, you will have her to answer for, just the same," said the son,
sullenly. "She can't see you throwing away your money and keep her
senses much longer."
"For shame!" cried Faith hotly. "Can't you see, Mr. Denton, that your
father is sorely distressed? How dare you trample upon his feelings in
such a brutal manner?"
James Denton wheeled around and faced the speaker.
"My mother is going crazy," he said, almost gently. "You must pardon me,
Miss Marvin, but I love my mother."
Mr. Denton opened the carriage door and motioned for Faith to enter.
There was a look in his face that permitted no misunderstanding.
"Your mother's doctor and nurse are with her, are they not? Then I shall
not be needed for an hour, and I have an important engagement. I am
going to call upon Maggie Brady, one of my son's unfortunate victims,"
he added slowly.
James Denton turned as pale as death as he listened to these words. For
a moment it looked as if he were about to spring forward and drag his
father from the carriage in order to prevent this visit. In a second
they were rattling away from the door. Faith's last glance showed the
young man still standing motionless and livid.
"He fears something from the interview," was her first quick thought.
She glanced up at Mr. Denton. It was plainly to be seen by his face that
he shared her suspicions.
They were admitted at once to the corridor of the jail, and the keeper
allowed Miss Brady to join them.
"How are you to-day, Maggie?" asked Faith as sweetly as she could. "You
see, I have kept my promise. I have brought Mr. Denton to see you."
"My poor child!" said Mr. Denton, offering Miss Brady his hand. "I am
more than sorry to have been the means of bringing you here; but I had
no alternative. I had to do my duty."
"Oh, I don't lay it up against you," said the girl, almost coldly. She
had drawn away from him quickly and put her hands behind her. "I suppose
you thought I was a dangerous person to be at large--well, perhaps you
were right; there's no telling what a jealous woman will do. Did they
tell you, Mr. Denton, that I was jealous of Miss Marvin?"
There was a steely ring to her tones as she said the words, and the
glance of her eyes was both cold and cruel.
"I heard that it was on account of my son," was Mr. Denton's sad answer.
"I am very sorry indeed, Miss Brady, if James ever deceived you."
"Oh, he hasn't deceived me a bit," said the girl quickly. "On the
contrary, he took pains to parade his attentions before me."
She laughed a harsh, grating laugh as she answered. Mr. Denton looked
puzzled. He could not understand her.
"But perhaps you expected too much from his attentions," said Mr. Denton
gently. "Young men are often unscrupulous and say more than they mean to
young women. Perhaps he led you to believe that he cared more for you
than he did, and in this way gained your affections and did not
"He did all that," said the girl, very coldly; "and I was not the woman
to endure such treatment calmly. I'm sorry if I was mistaken in Miss
Marvin's part in the matter. She says she was innocent, and I'm willing
to believe her."
"Well, what can I do for you?" asked Mr. Denton kindly. "I have already
tried to get your case dismissed, and as Miss Marvin refuses to appear
against you I think we shall be successful. But if there is anything
that James has done--any wrong that I can right, you have only to say
so, and I will try to do my duty."
Miss Brady stared at the speaker in undisguised amazement. She could
hardly believe that it was Mr. Denton who was speaking. As her employer
he had always been cold and distant. She had never looked on him as
anything more or less than a despot and tyrant.
"Mr. Denton is perfectly sincere, Maggie," said Faith quickly as she
noticed the amazement depicted on her countenance.
"But I don't understand," said the girl, still staring.
"Let me explain," said Faith quickly, "and you must try and believe me,
Maggie. Both Mr. Denton and myself are thinking only of your good. We
want to help you to see this awful sin which you have committed in the
right light--that is, as a sin not only against yourself and your fellow
beings, but against the God who made you and who wishes you to love
As she spoke she put her arms around the girl in an affectionate manner.
Maggie did not draw away, but remained silent and passive.
"You see, Maggie, you are not wronging any one by your bad temper and
your stubbornness as much as you are wronging yourself. These sins
always react on one's self, you know. They may hurt and grieve others in
some degree, but they sear your own heart with the wounds of agony and
shut the light of God's tenderness from your soul. Can you not see it,
Maggie, how you have marred your own happiness? Do try, dear, to humble
your stubborn spirit? Ask God to help you forgive those who wrong you.
Believe me, it will make you far happier than this cowardly revenge."
Faith's tones were so beseeching that Mr. Denton was touched beyond
expression. He had never seen a more holy sight than this young girl
pleading with tears in her eyes with an erring sister.
"It's easy for you to talk," muttered Maggie finally. "Your life has
been different from mine. What do you know of trouble?"
"A great deal," said Faith quickly. "If I did not I could not feel as I
do. Why, it is through my own experience that I have come to feel this
sympathy for others."
"But you don't understand," said the woman more bitterly. "By 'trouble'
I do not mean just hard luck and poverty."
"I think I do understand, Maggie," said Faith, more softly. "And I can
still say sincerely that I am very sorry for you. I believe that you
have been more sinned against than any of us realize."
"I have, indeed!" cried Miss Brady, sharply. Her lips twitched
convulsively and tears trembled on her lashes.
"Then God will surely pity you," cried Faith, almost cheerily. "He will
understand the length and breadth of your temptation, Maggie, as well as
the injustice which you have suffered."
The poor girl gazed at Faith a moment and then burst out crying.
"Oh, I have been wronged most fearfully," she whispered between her
sobs. "And I could not help it. I could bear the agony no longer!"
As she spoke she thrust her hand into the bosom of her dress. In another
second she had drawn forth a crumpled paper.
"Read it!" she said hoarsely, holding it out toward Mr. Denton. "Read
it, and tell me if you blame me for doing as I did, and after you have
read it say again that you will help me!"
With a quick wave of horror coursing through his brain, Mr. Denton took
the paper and quickly unfolded it.
Only a glance was needed to show him what it was. Mr. Denton staggered
to a chair, his face pale and haggard.
"Oh, what is it?" asked Faith, looking from one to the other.
Maggie Brady gave a short, hoarse laugh as she replied:
"Only the certificate of my marriage to young James Denton!"
JIM DENTON'S CONFESSION.
As Maggie Brady made her startling announcement Faith's heart seemed to
stop beating. She felt faint and dizzy, and spread out her hands before
her as if to ward off something that was fast overcoming her.
She tried to speak, but the words died upon her lips. In another moment
she lost consciousness entirely and slipped heavily to the floor of the
Mr. Denton sprang to his feet and attempted to raise her, while Maggie
Brady stood like a statue, with her hands clasped tightly together.
"Poor girl! your news has shocked her," said Mr. Denton absently. "She
was over-anxious and excited about your welfare."
"Men are easily deceived," was Maggie Brady's sad answer. "I can explain
her condition more reasonably than that--the girl is in love with your
son--my husband! I thought so before, now I am absolutely certain!"
One of the jailers came in just then and led Maggie to her cell, and as
the door closed behind her Faith came slowly to her senses.
When she had revived completely, Mr. Denton led her quickly from the
jail. He was too shocked and grieved himself to wish to remain another
moment. During the ride back to the store there was hardly a word spoken
in the carriage, for both Mr. Denton and Faith were in the most
distressed condition of mind.
In Mr. Denton's mind two thoughts were uppermost, his son's wickedness
in the past and his duty in the future. At any other time he would have
known how to act, but now he was sorely puzzled. Faith, on the other
hand, was hiding her face from almost shame, for she had learned a
secret in that brief moment at the jail which was overwhelming her soul
in a flood of self-censure.
The fair face of James Denton was constantly before her. His pleading
eyes and glances of admiration haunted her. She felt, what she would not
own even admit to herself, that in spite of his wickedness she was
deeply in love with him.
"It does not seem possible," Mr. Denton said at last. "I know my son was
thoughtless, but I did not believe him wicked."
Faith could not speak; she was crying softly. The knowledge of her love
had completely crushed her.
"Let me go home, please," she murmured, as her employer helped her from
the carriage. "I am afraid I am too nervous to remain at the store."
"Certainly," said Mr. Denton, "and I shall soon follow your example, for
if my wife is as ill as my son said, it is my duty to neglect everything
and remain at her bedside."
"But has she really lost her reason?" asked Faith, a little timidly.
Mr. Denton sighed heavily before he answered.
"She is worrying unnecessarily to a great extent, I think," he said
calmly. "She sees in my new methods and actions only the probable
financial results; she cannot see that I am honestly trying to do my
duty--to share my large fortune with my fellow-beings."
"But is it not possible to follow your conscience and still prosper?"
asked Faith, anxiously.
"That is a question that I cannot answer, Miss Marvin, at this stage of
the experiment, but, judging from the present outlook, godliness cannot
be profitable from a worldly point of view. But from the spiritual, I am
satisfied that it is a success; the consciousness of well-doing is
enough for the Christian."
Faith pondered over his words as she hurried home. She was glad that he
had awakened a new train of thought, as it enabled her to compose
herself from her late excitement.
When she reached her mother's home she found both Mr. Watkins and Mrs.
Graham, who had called to get acquainted with little Dick and to tell
Mrs. Marvin their plans for his future. It was hard to part with him,
but it was clearly for the best. Mrs. Graham could give him advantages
that would be impossible to Mrs. Marvin.
This transaction permitted Faith to regain her composure entirely, so
that when they were gone she was able to tell her mother all that had
happened at the jail.
Mrs. Marvin was shocked and pained at the recital.
"Poor child," she said, sorrowfully, "to think she is really his wife. I
wonder what could have been their motive for keeping it a secret!"
Faith shook her head. She did not care to even conjecture. It was a
subject that cut her heart like a two-edged sword, for, try as she
would, she could not condemn James Denton.
An hour later the maid brought her in a card. Faith could hardly control
her feelings as she saw that her caller was no other than young Denton.
"He must have been following me," she said to her mother, "else how did
he know that I was not at the store?"
Her mother smiled sadly, but did not answer.
Faith entered the parlor as calmly as she could, but her limbs were
trembling and the tears were very near to falling. She knew that she
should spurn the coward, whom her whole soul despised, but she could not
do it; her strength deserted her.
James Denton rose suddenly as she entered the door. He looked like a
ghost--he was so pale and haggard. Before she realized it, Faith
extended her hand, then she drew it back quickly with a sudden
"No, don't offer to shake hands with me," said James Denton, slowly. "I
am not fit to touch the hem of your garment, Miss Marvin."
Faith looked at him as he stood there, pale, hollow-eyed and dejected,
then with almost a cry she burst out impulsively:
"Oh, how could you do such a thing, Mr. Denton? How did you dare to
wrong that poor girl as you have? Don't you know that in so doing you
have branded yourself a coward?"
"So she has told you and saved me from doing so?"
Young Denton breathed a sigh of relief. He had come too late with his
"Yes, she told us, your father and me," said Faith, faintly. "Oh, it is
dreadful--dreadful; I can't understand it!"
"Neither can I," said James Denton, with a tinge of bitterness in his
voice. "I have never understood how I came to do it. I was a fool--an
imbecile--a lunatic, Miss Marvin. I married the girl without even
dreaming that I loved her."
Faith stared at him in surprise as he spoke the words. She was conscious
even of a flutter of happiness as she listened to the confession.
"Then why did you marry her?" she asked at last. She watched eagerly to
hear his answer.
"It was all done for a lark," began the young man. "We were out with
some friends, Miss Brady and I, and I--I suppose we had all been
drinking too much; then some one suggested a wedding, and I was fool
enough to play the bridegroom."
"And you did not love her?"
Faith asked the question slowly.
"Not a bit, Miss Marvin; I liked her, of course. But she was in love
with me; I discovered that later."
"Why did you not own her as your wife?"
Faith hardly knew her own voice as she asked this. It hardly seemed
possible that she could speak so calmly.
Mr. Denton looked at her sharply before he replied.
"You can guess that surely," he said very softly. "Rascal that I was, I
was ashamed to own her."
After a minute he went on with almost desperate calmness, as though he
was determined to tell the whole of the distressing secret.
"I told her that dad would disown me if he knew that I had married her,
but that if she would wait until I was twenty-one, that there would be
no more danger of my losing my money. Mag likes money, you know, and she
consented readily, but when she saw me flirting with the other girls,
as I had to, you see, to make every one think that I was still single,
her jealousy got the best of her, and you know what happened."
"Well, you will have to own her now," said Faith in almost a whisper.
She had been praying silently for strength to say it calmly.
"Never!" cried young Denton with a flash of anger in his eyes.
"Own a murderess for my wife--never! never! Miss Marvin!"
"Then I shall despise you," said Faith, with a flush of color in her
cheeks. "For it is the only thing you can do to right the wrong that you
have done her."
"But I can't. Indeed, I can't!" cried the young man, wildly. "Don't you
see, Miss Marvin, that I have nothing to give her, no love, no respect,
not even friendship?"
"But you must own her, just the same," said Faith, decidedly. "Maggie
was a good girl once; it is love for you that has ruined her."
James Denton was even paler than when he entered as he answered her, and
there was a tone in his voice that made Faith shudder.
"Two wrongs cannot make one right, Miss Marvin," he said, firmly, "and
to live with Maggie would be as great a wrong as the first, for I cannot
do so honorably while I love another."
Faith looked up at him quickly and found his gaze riveted on her face.
For a moment she seemed drawn to him as if by a magnet, then the
revulsion came again and she raised both hands imploringly.
"Go, go, Mr. Denton!" she cried in a sharp whisper. "Please go before
you say what is in your heart, for your words can only add cruel mockery
THE BLESSING OF REPENTANCE.
A week passed before Faith went to the store again. She was too utterly
miserable to think of resuming her duties.
Mr. Watkins called on her every night to bring her news of the store,
and by this means she kept track of all Mr. Denton's changes.
One night Mr. Watkins had mentioned a number of things which had
benefited the clerks as well as the customers, and in concluding his
recital he sighed very heavily, an indication to Faith that there was
something more behind it.
"Why do you sigh, Mr. Watkins?" she asked, abruptly. "It seems to me
that these changes should bring nothing but smiles, they are such
necessary reforms, yet they have been so long in coming."
"I was thinking of Mr. Denton, I suppose," was the answer. "He's such a
good man now that I hate to see him go to the wall completely. Why, Miss
Marvin, have you any idea what these reforms have cost? I cannot tell
you the figures exactly, of course; but the bills for the past month are
enough to frighten one. If he continues his present methods he will not
be in business a year longer."
"I thought so," said Mrs. Marvin, quickly. "Religion and business cannot
be combined. The man who follows his conscience is sure to lose money."
"But he gains that which is better," spoke up Faith, quickly. "Ask Mr.
Denton if this is not true. He has found it so already."
"Well, his poor wife doesn't share his sentiments," said Mr. Watkins,
"for she has worried so fearfully over his enormous losses already that
she is now on the verge of losing her reason."
"Poor soul," said Mrs. Marvin; "she must be a very worldly woman, for,
while extreme poverty is cruel, still, she will probably never reach
"I am not so sure," replied Mr. Watkins, "but even moderate comfort
would be cruel to her, for she was born and has always lived in the lap
"I suppose the news of her son's wickedness has distressed her also,"
said Mrs. Marvin, slowly.
Faith's cheeks flushed hotly, and she bent her head over her sewing,
"She has tried to get him to have the marriage annulled," was Mr.
Watkins' answer. "It could easily be done, as both parties were
"And will not the young man agree?" asked Mrs. Marvin, mildly. "I should
think he would be just the kind to jump at the opportunity."
"His father will not hear of it," said Mr. Watkins, "and of late even
the young man himself has shown a willingness to own her."
Faith raised her head with a light shining in her eyes.
"Then he is not altogether bad," she said, very quickly. "If he does
right to Maggie now we ought all to forgive him."
She spoke so earnestly that, both her mother and Mr. Watkins looked at
If her mother understood her eagerness, she did not betray it, but with
Mr. Watkins it was different. He understood and was nettled.
"Is Mr. Day in business again?" asked Mrs. Marvin, who seemed suddenly
to find it necessary to change the conversation.
"No, he has gone abroad to spend his money," answered Mr. Watkins. "He
says that he made a small fortune out of another man's religion, and
that is far more than he has ever made out of his own, for that was
never known to bring him in a penny."
"That is a dreadful thing to say," replied Mrs. Marvin, slowly, "for,
while I do not get much comfort out of my belief in God, still, I
realize that, it is my own stubbornness that keeps me from it. Some day
I hope to understand it better."
"You certainly will, dear mother," said Faith, brightly, "but if you
would only stop trying to understand! If you would only accept it as a
little child, and then trust to the Heavenly Father to lead you!"
"I will some day, Faith--I am sure of it," answered her mother. "I shall
be saved, not only through my own faith, but through that of my
"Her trust is sublime," said Mr. Watkins, gently. "I shall never forget
how she comforted my poor Mary."
"She comforts every one," said Mrs. Marvin, smiling, "I named her
rightly--don't you think so, Mr. Watkins?"
"You did, indeed," said the young man, tenderly. "It will be a lucky
man, indeed, who can say 'My Faith,' and by those words indicate your
daughter, Mrs. Marvin."
"Oh, don't!" said Faith, laughing. "You are mocking, Mr. Watkins."
Like her mother, she, too, found it convenient to change the subject.
"And how about Mr. Forbes? Have you heard anything of his plans?" she
asked, eagerly. "I have heard it rumored that he, too, was trying to
follow his conscience."
Mr. Watkins smiled as he answered her question.
"He is trying to do what many men have done before him. He is trying to
buy his conscience with the money he makes dishonestly, or, in other
words, he is a sinner on week-days and a saint on Sundays. Why, they
tell me he has started in business for himself, and with what he can
gouge from the just wages of his employees he pays pew rent and gives to
the heathen. It is the same old story--hypocrisy and greed! Drain the
blood of the poor in order to build monuments to their ashes!"
Mr. Watkins spoke bitterly and with a tightening of the lips.
He was thinking of Miss Jennings as he finished his utterance.
After he had gone Mrs. Marvin spoke suddenly to Faith.
"Do you know, dear," she said, simply, "I believe Mr. Watkins is
learning to love you! He is a fine young man. Do you think you could
care for him?"
"Oh, no, no, mother! Don't ever speak of such a thing!" cried Faith, as
if the suggestion hurt her.
Mrs. Marvin looked at her keenly. Her suspicions were being verified.
The next morning Faith was well enough to report for duty, and the very
atmosphere of the store seemed changed as she entered.
Miss Fairbanks greeted her with honest cordiality. There were tears in
her eyes as she spoke to Faith of Maggie Brady.
"Poor girl," she whispered; "she feels dreadful about her lot. She
wishes she had kept silent forever about being Jim's wife and allowed
him to free himself, which he could have done very easily."
"But I thought she loved him," said Faith, faintly.
"So she does," was the answer; "but she knows it was wrong for her to
marry as she did. She says she knew he did not love her, and felt sure
that he would never own her."
"But he does now," said Faith, with a questioning look at the buyer.
"Yes, I believe he has admitted that she is really his wife, but the
poor girl has demanded that the marriage be annulled."
Faith looked up eagerly, but she could not frame her question.
"She has been praying, she tells me," said Miss Fairbanks, continuing,
"and she says it is her duty to give Jim up, for to live with him would
be wicked when he does not love her."
Faith heard only the first words that Miss Fairbanks had spoken. Poor
Maggie had been praying; then her heart was softened.
"She is out, you know, and free as air," continued Miss Fairbanks, "but
she is not coming back to the store. Mr. Denton has made her an
"And you, Miss Fairbanks?" asked Faith, very softly. "Are you praying,
too, or is it not yet the Lord's time? I am anxious for you to be happy
in the 'light of His countenance.'"
Miss Fairbanks laid her hand upon the young girl's shoulder.
"Thank God," she said devoutly; "at last I am praying."
As Faith moved on toward her counter she saw Miss Jones waiting for her.
There was something in the girl's manner that struck Faith as
"Miss Marvin," she said, the moment Faith stepped behind the counter, "I
am a rude, treacherous person, and I have wronged you cruelly! Have you
the grace in your heart to forgive a traitor?"
Faith grasped her hand, while the tears sprang to her eyes.
"There is nothing to forgive, dear Miss Jones," she said, gently. "We
have been sisters from the first, only you did not understand it; but
tell me, is it through Miss Fairbanks that you feel so differently?"
"Partly through her and partly through Mag Brady," was the honest
answer. "Mag has told me how you talked to her, and she also told me
what her husband said, that it was through your influence that he was
now willing to own her."
"Did Mr. Denton say that?" asked Faith, speaking slowly.
"He did," said Miss Jones, promptly, "and Mag just blesses you for it."
If Faith had felt one misgiving over that particular action, it vanished
now like a bit of vapor.
Mag "blessed" her for the words that had hurt her so to speak. Surely
there was balm for all wounds, even those which burned the deepest.
Faith's morning was the happiest she had ever known in the store and at
the luncheon hour, as she went to the cloak-room, she had but one wish
in her heart, and that was for the conversion of wicked Lou Willis.
LOU IS CAUGHT AT LAST.
As Faith passed Mr. Denton's office on the way to the cloak-room she
heard a woman's voice raised to a very high pitch, and immediately
recognized it as belonging to Miss Willis.
She had hardly had time to wonder what had occurred, when the door flew
open and she had a good look right straight into the office.
Ben Tyler, the detective, was standing with his hand on the door and a
very ugly expression on his face, while a few feet further back stood
Mr. Denton, apparently trying to reason with the infuriated woman.
One glance was enough to tell Faith what had happened. Lou had been
stealing again, and the detective had caught her.
For a moment the young girl hardly knew what to do, and in that
momentary hesitation she heard what Lou was saying.
"He's a sneak and a liar!" she screamed, pointing at the detective. "He
can't prove that I stole anything! I defy him to do it!"
"But the goods were found in your pocket," said Mr. Denton, firmly.
"Oh, that doesn't prove anything," was the girl's quick answer. "It's
very easy for any one to put stolen goods in my pocket; it's been done
before, and both of you know it!"
"But I saw you take the watch," said the detective, angrily. "So what's
the use of denying it any longer!"
Faith was hurrying away now as fast as she could go. She knew it was not
her place to interfere in such matters.
"A month ago I might have done so," she whispered to herself, "but now
that Mr. Denton is a Christian, he will deal mercifully with her."
When she reached the cloak-room the utmost excitement prevailed, and
the first words that Faith heard distinctly were spoken by the "head of
stock" in the jewelry department.
"I've suspected her for a long time," she said, a little viciously.
"She's a good-for-nothing, anyway, who isn't above stealing!"
"They say her father was a thief; so it runs in the family, I guess,"
said another voice; "and then, her mother was a bad character; so Lou
comes by it honestly!"
"Oh, girls! don't!" cried Faith, who could endure it no longer. "Please
don't say such cruel things! It is dreadful to bear them!"
"Well, they are true, so why shouldn't we say them?" asked one.
"She's been caught 'dead to rights,' so what's the use of mincing
matters?" said another.
"But does it do any good to bring up all these things?" asked Faith. "If
the poor girl 'comes honestly by them,' should we not be charitable even
in speaking of her?"
"There is something in that," spoke up a woman that Faith did not know,
"It's another case of the 'sins of the fathers being visited upon the
children.' If there was nothing else in the world to keep me from
believing in a God, that verse in the Bible would surely do it!"
"Well, I don't need that verse," said another voice, "for the misery and
injustice on earth are enough to prove that no God of love or mercy
could possibly have ordained it."
"But don't we make a great deal of the injustice and misery for
ourselves?" asked Faith, very soberly; "for instance, hasn't Lou just
made a lot of misery for herself? She knew she could not go on stealing
forever without being punished."
"She probably couldn't help it," was the hesitating answer. "Perhaps she
is a kleptomaniac--you know there are such people."
"Oh, but they are always rich people, who can afford to pay the judge
for letting them off easy!" said one of the girls, laughing. "When a
poor woman steals she's an out-and-out thief; but when a rich woman
steals she's a kleptomaniac."
A laugh followed this explanation, but Faith could not join in it. Her
thoughts were too full of the fate which had overtaken Lou, and which
she knew was only a natural consequence.
Suddenly there was a scream from the direction of Mr. Denton's office,
then another, and another, each more shrill and vibrating.
Without a moment's hesitation every girl in the cloak-room started for
the stairs. When they got there they saw a sight that made them pale
Lou Willis was struggling like a maniac between two officers, who were
trying to snap a pair of handcuffs on her wrists.
They were both powerful men, but the girl was resisting them fiercely.
She slapped and scratched their faces, all the time shrieking her
They finally succeeded in locking the "bracelets" and forcing her into a
chair--she was too thoroughly exhausted to hold out much longer.
"Do you mean to say that she isn't crazy?" whispered one of the girls on
The tears flowed down Faith's cheeks, but she answered the whisper.
"Poor Lou! Poor Lou! She must be crazy! No woman could act or even feel
like that and be in her right senses!"
The door of the office was suddenly closed, and, as Lou was silent now,
the girls trooped slowly back to the cloak-room.
"They'll take her away as soon as she's quiet," said one, "and that will
mean at least six months on Blackwell's Island."
"She's been there before, I think," spoke up a cash girl. "You know, she
was caught stealing in another store, but Denton, Day & Co. didn't know
"Did you know it when she came here?"
It was Miss Jones who asked the question. She had come in just in time
to hear the last of the conversation.
"Of course I knew it, but what of that? Suppose I was going to prevent
the girl from earning her living?"
"But didn't you think she'd be apt to steal again?"
The girl laughed coarsely before she answered.
"Well, to tell you the truth, I hoped she would!" she said, glibly. "I
would like to have seen her get away with the whole establishment! What
were Denton, Day & Co. doing about that time, I'd like to know? Weren't
they robbing the poor devils who made their goods, cheating their
customers with inferior garments and exorbitant prices, and last, but
not least, weren't they wearing the souls out of our bodies with the
system of slavery that they employed in the building? What did I care
who cheated them or even who robbed them? Wouldn't they grind me to
death just as they did poor Miss Jennings? Of course, if it should
happen now I should feel very different; still, I'm a good deal sorrier
for Lou than I am for Mr. Denton!"
"We would all feel different now," spoke up Faith very quickly. "We
would all scorn to be disloyal to such a good employer as Mr. Denton!"
"He's the best friend we girls ever had," spoke up another clerk. "Why,
we are in heaven now, compared with what we were a month ago! Shorter
hours, bigger pay, no slave-drivers over us, and, best of all, we are
treated like human beings. There is no more of that feeling that we are
a lot of cattle!"
"The Lord be praised for all His goodness," said Faith, devoutly, "for
what but His mercy has enacted this change? It is a demonstration of His
love through His servant, Mr. Denton."
"You are right, Miss Marvin," said Miss Jones, firmly. "There is no
power on earth that could have altered these conditions, and I for one
am ready and glad to admit it!"
Faith looked at the speaker with beaming eyes. It delighted her to
witness her companion's fearless demeanor.
"There they go! Lou and the officers!" cried cash girl Number 83. "They
are almost carrying her down the stairs! I wouldn't be in her shoes for
a thousand dollars."
"Perhaps she'll repent, like poor Mag Brady," said Miss Jones,
thoughtfully. "After Mag's wonderful conversion, I feel that there is
hope for all of us."
Faith wiped the tears from her eyes as she saw the last of Lou.
"Though your sins be as scarlet--" She could not finish the verse. The
next instant she burst out crying--she was weeping for Lou Willis.
THE PENANCE FOR SIN.
Maggie Brady had been free for exactly a week, but the prison pallor had
not yet left her features.
Thanks to Mr. Denton, she had a comfortable home and her husband was
awaiting for permission to join her.
She had not seen Faith since that day in the jail when she read the
girl's carefully guarded secret, but in the few short interviews which
she had with her husband she learned that which caused her to bless the
young girl fervently.
James Denton told her honestly that he did not love her, but his manner
as he said it was gentle, even tender.
He regretted his foolish marriage, both for her sake and his own, still
he was ready now to do his whole duty by her, and it was Faith Marvin's
words that had taught him that duty.
But Maggie Brady was a greatly changed woman. There were thoughts in her
heart which she revealed to no one, but which influenced her every deed
and decision. She had gone over and over her wasted life and could find
no blame for any one individual, for, looked at from all points, it was
conditions that were her enemies, conditions made by the rich in their
greed of plunder.
If she had been stronger she might have combatted these conditions, but
the uselessness of such a struggle had been demonstrated by so many--she
did not have courage or faith in her own ability to conquer.
Like hundreds of poor girls, she had drifted from bad to worse, until
that mad marriage to Jim Denton capped the climax of her wickedness.
Now, with her newly awakened understanding she desired to do penance for
her sin. It was a part of that old religion which she had long ago
At the confessional she told her wrongdoing and received absolution so
far as it is in the power of God's mediators to absolve one, but to
promise to live, uprightly forevermore did not satisfy her soul. She
felt the need of further self-abnegation; she must crucify body and
spirit to complete the penance.
With the calmness, even exultation, of a martyr she made her
preparations. There were wishes to be expressed and letters to be
One of these letters reached Faith as she sat with her mother early one
evening; the writing so faint and uneven that she could hardly decipher
"Oh, mother! mother!" she cried as she perused it. "Quick! get on your
hat and come with me! The letter is from Maggie--she is sick--or dying!"
As they hurried from the house Mr. Watkins joined them. In five minutes
they were in a carriage driving swiftly toward Maggie's address.
As Faith opened the door leading to Maggie's rooms she came upon a scene
that nearly paralyzed her senses.
Poor Maggie was half lying and half sitting upon a couch, her husband
supporting her tenderly while Miss Fairbanks stood by administering a
cordial. There was another person in the room whom Faith knew at once to
be a physician, but she had eyes nor ears for no one but Maggie.
"Oh, you poor, dear child! What has happened?" she asked quickly as she
went over and knelt by the side of the poor creature.
"I thought you would come," whispered Maggie faintly. "I wanted to see
you, oh, so much! I wanted--to--thank--you!"
She lay back on her pillow with a stifled groan while James Denton wiped
her brow--his own the color of ashes.
"You were so good," murmured poor Maggie again as Faith leaned over her.
"You taught me, to pray. May the good God bless you."
She closed her eyes and a sigh escaped her lips. In an instant the
physician took her wrist between his fingers.
"Gone," he said, softly, "the poor child is at rest. Cheer up, Mr.
Denton, your wife is in heaven."
"Thanks to her," whispered James Denton, with a look toward Faith. She
was kneeling, convulsed with sorrow, with her mother's arms about her.
No one really knew how the secret leaked out first, for the physician,
acting as he thought wise, refrained from telling it openly, but Faith
soon learned that Maggie's death was not natural--she had died by her
own hand--it was her full and complete penance.
"It is not for us to judge," whispered Mrs. Marvin when she heard it.
"God alone knew her thoughts," was Faith's tearful answer.
When the news reached the store, even Mr. Denton wept. It was the end of
a familiar but heart-rending tragedy.
And now it came time for Faith to change her plans--for reasons of her
own she felt that she must stay behind the counter no longer.
James Denton had gone abroad, so she put him out of her thoughts as
completely as possible; only a vagrant memory now and then showed her
the lurking shadow of her girlish passion.
As soon as she could she had a talk with Mr. Denton, whom she found, as
usual, busily working in his office.
"See, Miss Marvin," he said almost gayly as Faith entered the door,
"here are a dozen letters from Christian people this morning, all
congratulating me on the changes in my store! I have been getting a few
every day, but this is a splendid showing! Here is one," he added,
selecting an envelope, "who even offers to put a large sum of money at
my disposal just as soon as I have proven that Christianity is
practicable and profitable."
"And can you do this, sir?" asked Faith very eagerly.
A hopeful expression flitted across Mr. Denton's face.
"Mr. Gibson tells me that our business is increasing every day," he
answered slowly, "and that the poor people are flocking in to look at
our honest bargains, and you see here I have proof that the rich people
are watching us."
"Oh, I shall be so glad!--so thankful!" said Faith, with a bright
smile. "I was sure you would be rewarded for setting such a noble
example! But I have come to ask a favor, Mr. Denton," she added, softly.
"I want you to give me another position in your store instead of the one
I occupy at present."
Mr. Denton looked at her, and understood at once.
"In other words, you wish to enlarge your field of usefulness, do you
not, Miss Marvin? You think you can shed the light more successfully if
you have a wider scope of action."
"That is it exactly," was Faith's glad answer; "but please, Mr. Denton,
I don't wish any salary."
Mr. Denton glanced up in a little surprise. He had not yet even heard of
her change of fortune.
"Yes, I have money enough now to live comfortably," she explained, "and
I can even help others, I think, a little. It came to my mother some
time ago, a few thousands that were due her from her father's estate, so
we are in a position to be helpful without remuneration."
"And you will stay with me still?" asked Mr, Denton, smiling. "You will
sacrifice your liberty and your home life to stay here and labor, Miss
"It will be no sacrifice, I can assure you!" cried Faith, brightly, "for
I am far happier here than I would be anywhere else, I fancy!"
"Then I appoint you as general inspector of my store," said Mr. Denton,
promptly, "and your duties are to consist of daily talks with the clerks
and daily hints to me how I can improve their conditions."
"Oh, that will be delightful!" cried Faith, excitedly, "only I will not
promise to be a very wise inspector, for I am so young that I am sadly
in need of experience."
"'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.' I do not tremble for
the results," said Mr. Denton, smiling.
Faith went back to the department and told Miss Fairbanks of the new
arrangement, and in less than an hour every clerk in the store knew it.
"Just think, she has money and yet she will stay here," said one, "and
she is to look after our interests, which is the strangest thing about
"Everything is strange here nowadays," was the thoughtful reply. "Why,
I'm sure this is the only store in the world that is run on a Christian
The next remark was made in a lower tone, as if the speaker was doubtful
of her own statements in the matter.
"And do you know," she said, slowly, "the business of the store is
actually increasing! I got it straight from the head bookkeeper that Mr.
Denton is holding his own splendidly in spite of the fact that every one
predicted a sure failure."
"Well, I hope I shall never have to work anywhere else," was the answer.
"It would kill me to go back to those old days of slavery and poor
As the weeks passed by, even the greatest doubter became convinced that
the business of the store was improving. Great crowds came every day to
look about, if not to buy, for their curiosity as well as interest was
genuine and unbounded.
Many flocked to the store to compare the prices of goods with those of
the other emporiums and to draw their own conclusions as to the
sincerity of the enterprise.
A high price on an article was often misleading until the manufacturer's
side of the question was explained and understood, and so, too, a low
price often produced various criticism from those who could not
differentiate between just and usurious profit.
But in the main the efforts of the merchant were pretty fairly
understood and a perfect flood of congratulations followed the
"My motto is consideration for the manufacturer, justice to myself and
honest value to my patrons," said Mr. Denton to all. "If I vary from
this, it will be through error, not malice."
One by one the buyers learned their lesson of right dealing, and the
counters of the big establishment showed the result of their labors.
They were filled with goods whose first values had not been depreciated
and whose sale profits were in proportion to the labor expended in
As Mr. Gibson had said, poor people had flocked to the store. They were
satisfied that, at last, they would get the worth of every penny.
"It's funny to see how suspicious they were of us at first," he said to
Faith one day. "Why, they were more doubtful of us than ever, I do
believe, and all because we had enrolled under a Christian banner."
"I don't blame them," said Faith slowly, "for have they not good cause
to doubt? Has not hypocrisy and deceit always assumed the garb of
Christianity? It is the church people who are to blame for it--the
insincere ones, I mean--so many of them are content with words alone.
When it comes to deeds they are tried and found wanting."
"That is why I have never believed," said Mr. Gibson slowly. "I saw
through their shams and thought they were all alike! Why, most people
use religion as a regular coat of mail, behind which they commit every
sin in the calendar! And others, particularly business people, use it
merely as a trade-mark or sign of respectability, and then laugh in
their sleeves at the number of dupes they make with it!"
"Well, there's no sham or hypocrisy in Mr. Denton's dealings," cried
Faith, brightly, "for no man could enter upon a Christian course with
greater sacrifice, both of friends and money."
A GOLDEN OUTLOOK.
One year had passed since Maggie Brady's death, and Faith Marvin was
nearing her nineteenth birthday.
She was still living with her mother in their pretty little flat and
working faithfully at the store with Mr. Denton. The year had brought
many changes in that establishment, and there were many new faces in
place of the old ones.
Faith talked over these changes as she sat with her mother and Mr.
Watkins in one of their social chats after the day's work was over.
"It hardly seems like the same place," she said, happily. "Why, we are
just one big family, with Mr. Denton for our father!"
"And Mr. Denton is certainly holding his own financially," said Mr.
Watkins, a trifle reluctantly, "while the papers are full of reported
failures all around us."
"I am so glad that Mrs. Denton is recovering," said Mrs. Marvin. "I did
sympathize with her so during the first few months of her anxiety!"
"We are all glad she is better," said Faith, quickly, "for she comes
down to the store often, and she is really very charming. But the
greatest changes are in the clerks themselves," she went on,
thoughtfully. "They are so courteous, so loyal and so kind to each
other. Why, a new girl is welcomed and made one of us at once, and, no
matter what her faults may be, we are almost sure to win her over. Of
course, we miss the little cash girls, but the tube system is much
better, and it did seem so terrible to think of those children being
forced to earn their living!"
Mrs. Marvin nodded her head sympathetically and her daughter continued.
"Mr. Gunning is so different that you would hardly know him," she said,
"and do you know, Fred, he and Miss Jones are to be married next
Tuesday? The dear girl, through God's grace, has had the happiness to
redeem him. Then Miss Fairbanks has developed just the kindest and
sweetest sort of character! Why, I believe every girl in the department
"What do you hear of Lou Willis?" asked her mother after a moment. "That
poor girl who was arrested for stealing jewelry."
"She has just come back from serving her sentence," was Faith's answer,
"and Mr. Denton is considering whether he had better reinstate her."
"It will be a great risk," said Mr. Watkins, soberly, "for 'what's bred
in the bone will come out in the flesh,' unless, of course, the spirit
of Christ takes possession of the body."
"We hope it will," said Faith, almost cheerily, "and then Lou has had a
fearful experience--she may be different altogether."
"And Miss Dean," suggested Mrs. Marvin, in a reminiscent manner.
Faith laughed a little before she answered. "She finds nothing to do in
the store now," she said, "but we still differ a little in our notions
Mrs. Marvin left the room a few minutes later. Whether it was done for a
purpose or not, Faith did not have time to conjecture.
"Faith, dear Faith," whispered Mr. Watkins, quickly, "am I never, never
to hear your answer?"
He bent toward her so pleadingly that Faith closed her eyes
instinctively. It cut her to the heart to have to witness his sorrow.
"I have loved you so long, so patiently, dear! Can you not give me some
hope, even though it is for the far-distant future?"
"I cannot! Oh, I cannot!" murmured Faith in agony. "Oh, I wish I could,
Mr. Watkins, but it is impossible! I cannot love you!"
The young man rose without a word and took his hat from the table.
"Good-night, Faith," he said, gently. "Good-night, little sister! Don't
worry about me! Some day I will get over it!"
He went silently away without waiting for Mrs. Marvin. Faith breathed a
sigh of relief that her sad duty was over.
"You have refused him, Faith!"
Her mother spoke softly. "Poor fellow! I am sorry, but you know your own
They sat down again and Faith took up a book. A peal at the bell made
her drop it suddenly.
A few moments later young James Denton entered. He was taller, broader
and deeply bronzed by travel.
"At last, I see you again," he whispered softly as soon as Mrs. Marvin
had left them together.
"Tell me of your travels," said Faith very quickly. The color had risen
to her face and her heart was beating wildly.
"Well, I went all over Europe and the Continent," he said wearily; "but
a year is not long enough for a fellow to down a bad reputation! I have
come back to find myself in contempt, the same as before, but I have
decided that I shall not run away again. I am going to try and live down
what I could not run away from."
Faith looked at him questioningly, but did not speak. The young man
understood the glance and hurried with his explanation.
"I am going to work in the store with my father now," he said, quietly,
"and I am going to put in a small sum of money that has come to me in
the past year from a distant relative."
"But are you not afraid you will lose it?" asked Faith, a little shyly.
"You know you always had grave doubts as to the financial results of
your father's undertaking."
"Well, what if I do?" asked the young man, smiling back at her. "Others
have done as much, and I can but follow in their footsteps, and then
reformation to be acceptable should not be half-hearted."
There was a light in his eyes that was not to be mistaken. As Faith
beheld it she uttered a cry of joy and held out both hands toward him
Young Denton gathered both her hands into one of his own, while his
other rested lightly upon her shoulder.
"And after I have proven myself worthy may I claim my reward?" he
whispered. "May I ask my good angel to share her labors with me and so