Part 6 out of 6
Tragedy has the same prerogative as love and death--the right to enter
the palace or the hovel, into the heart of youth or age. It was not a
killing to-day, only a breaking of hearts, that is to say, the first
step. Tragedy never starts out on her rounds roughly; she seeks her
cause first; she seeks her anonymous letter, her idle hands, her lying
tongue; then she is ready. Tragedy does nothing hastily; she graduates
Warrington stumbled rather than walked home. When he reached the
opposite curb he slipped and fell, bruising his hands. ... Deny it?
Deny it when convicted without trial? There are never any proofs to
refute a letter written by an unknown enemy. There is never any guard
against the stab in the back. ... He and Kate! It was monstrous. And
John? Did John know? Did John see that letter? No, Patty surely had
not shown it to John. He knew John (or he believed he did); not all
the proofs or explanations Heaven or earth could give would convince
John, if that letter fell into his hands. ... And he was to speak at a
mass meeting that night! God! He stumbled up the steps to the door. He
was like a drunken man. ... Patty believed it; Patty, just and
merciful, believed it. If she believed, what would John, the jealous
husband, believe? There were so many trifling things that now in
John's eyes would assume immense proportions. ... In less than half an
hour the world had stopped, turned about, and gone another way. He
opened the door. As he did so a woman rushed into the hall.
"Richard, Richard, I thought you would never come!"
"You, and in this house alone?" His shoulders drooped.
Mrs. Jack did not observe how white he was, how dull his eye, how
abject his whole attitude. She caught him by the sleeve and dragged
him into the living-room.
"Richard, I am dying!" she cried. She loosened the collaret at her
throat. "What shall I do, what shall I do?"
He realized then that he was not alone in misery.
"What is it, girl?" stirring himself.
"Listen, Dick!" She dropped into the old name unconsciously. She had
but one clear thought; this man could save her. "Some time ago--the
night you and John went down town together--I received a telephone
call from that vile wretch, McQuade."
"McQuade?" Warrington's interest was thoroughly aroused by that name;
nothing else could have aroused it.
"He said that if I did not persuade you to withdraw your name before
the convention met he would not oppose the publication of a certain
story concerning my past and yours. Horrible! What could I do? I
remained silent; it was Patty's advice. We were afraid that John would
kill McQuade if we told him." She let go of his arm and paced the
room, beating her hands together. "Think of the terror I have lived in
all these weeks! Half dead every evening when John came home; not
daring to read the papers; afraid of calling on my few friends! I have
never, in all my life, done an evil action, either in thought or deed.
What terrible gift is this that God gives to some people to make truth
half a truth and half a truth a lie? Read this!"
It was a half-sheet of ordinary office paper, written on a typewriter.
Its purport was similar to the one he had read but a few minutes
since. Only it was bolder; there were no protestations about anybody's
welfare. It was addressed to John Bennington.
"Great God! another anonymous letter! Do you know who sent this?"
"I can think of no one but McQuade; no one!" frantically. "Save me,
Richard! I love him better than God, and this is my punishment. If
John sees this, I shall die; if he doesn't kill me I shall kill
myself! I opened it by mistake. I am so miserable. What has happened?
What have I done that this curse should fall on me? When I came to
this city I expected to find rest in the house of the man I loved. ...
Patty does not come over. ... What have I not suffered in silence and
with smiles? I have seen them whispering; I have seen covert smiles,
and nods, and shrugs. I knew. I was an actress. It seems that nothing
too bad or vile can be thought of her who honestly throws her soul
into the greatest gift given to woman. An actress! They speak of her
in the same tone they would use regarding a creature of the streets.
Well, because I loved my husband I have said nothing; I have let the
poison eat into my heart in silence. But this goes too far. I shall go
mad if this thing can not be settled here and now. It is both my love
and my honor. And you must do it, Richard; you must do it."
"You say McQuade called you up by telephone?"
He struck his forehead. The carbon sheet! He ran to his desk, pulled
out all the drawers, tumbling the papers about till he found what he
sought. From the letter to the faint imprint on the carbon sheet and
back to the letter his eyes moved, searching, scrutinizing.
"Look!" with a cry of triumph.
"What is it?"
"Do you see that mutilated letter T?" He indicated with his finger on
the dim carbon sheet.
"Compare it with the letter T in this note."
She did so, her hands shaking pitifully. "I can't see, Richard."
"That carbon sheet came from McQuade's office; so did that letter to
John. And now, by the Lord! now to pull out Mr. McQuade's fangs, and
slowly, too." He pocketed the two sheets. "Come!" His hat was still on
"No, no! John?"
"To him. We can not settle this matter underground. We must fight in
the open, in the light. John must know. You must be brave, girl. This
is no time for timidity and tears. You know and I know that right and
truth are on our side. We'll risk it in a single throw." Upon
determining to act thus, he was acting as only a man acts who has a
wide and definite knowledge of men and affairs. "Come; the sooner it
is over the better. John may flare up a little, but he is a just man.
Let us go to John."
She put forth many arguments, but to each he shook his head. The
thought of losing a particle of John's love terrified her, who was
ordinarily a courageous woman.
"We are losing time," said Warrington. "When John reads these two
documents he will understand. He knows McQuade is base enough to seek
revenge this way. He will recognize it for its worth. But if John
finds out that we have left him out of our confidence, he will have
some good reason to doubt. Come."
So she followed him, her heart like lead, no thought coherent, her
will without energy. This was to be the end of all her dreams. They
crossed the street without speaking. He helped her down this curb and
up that. All this excitement lessened his own pain temporarily. But
who had written to Patty, if not McQuade? He could block any future
move of McQuade's but this other anonymous writer, whom Patty declared
she knew? He went on doggedly. One battle at a time. Together they
entered the house, together they passed from room to room in search of
John. They came upon him reading in the library. He rose to greet
them. There was no beating about the bush for Warrington. He went
straight into the heart of things.
"John, read this."
John glanced at the sheet, and his face darkened. The look he shot his
wife was indescribable. She watched him, twisting and knotting and
untwisting her gloves.
"When did this thing come?" asked John, a slight tremor in his tone.
"This morning," Mrs. Jack answered, her voice choking.
"Why did you not bring it to me?" he asked. "Why did you take it to
Dick? You and he should not come to me; on the contrary, you and I
should have gone to him. But never mind now. I have carried in my
pocket a letter similar to this for several weeks," simply.
"Catch her, John!" cried Warrington.
"No, no! I am not fainting. I am just dizzy."
The poor woman groped her way to the lounge and lay down. Her
shoulders were shaking with noiseless sobs.
John crossed the room and put his hand on her head. The touch was
"It is easy to distort truth into a lie, John."
"But it is very hard to reverse the order again."
"Do you believe the lie?" Warrington looked his friend squarely in the
A minute passed. The ticking of the clock was audible.
"Believe it? I have had to struggle, I have had to fight hard and all
alone. I do not say that I don't believe it. I say that I WILL not!"
A truly noble soul always overawes us. This generosity struck
Warrington dumb. But the woman found life in the words. She flung
herself before her husband and clasped his knees with a nervous
strength that provoked a sharp cry from his lips.
He stooped and unwound her arms, gently drawing her up, up, till her
head lay against his shoulder. Then she became a dead weight. She had
fainted. He lifted her up in his strong arms and started for the
"Were she guilty of all the crimes chronicled in hell, I still should
love her. But between you and me, Dick, things must be explained."
"I shall wait for you, John."
John was not gone long. When he returned he found Warrington by the
bow-window that looked out upon the lawn.
"Now, Dick, the truth, and nothing but the truth. Don't be afraid of
me; I am master of myself."
"I'm not afraid of you. There is half a truth in that letter," began
Warrington, facing about. "Your wife did stay a night in my
John made no sign.
"It was the first week of a new play. I had to be at the theater every
night. There were many changes being made. Near midnight we started
out for a bite to eat. She had been suffering with attacks of
neuralgia of the heart. As we entered the carriage, one of these
attacks came on. We drove to her apartments. We could not get in. Her
maid was out, the janitor could not be found, and unfortunately she
had left her keys at the theater. In a moment like that I accepted the
first thing that came into my head: my own apartments. She was not
there a quarter of an hour before a trained nurse and her own
physician were at her side. I slept in a chair. At six the following
morning she left for her own apartments. And that, John, is the truth,
God's truth. I see now that I should have taken her to a hotel. You
know that there was a time when I was somewhat dissipated. It was easy
to take that incident and enlarge upon it. Now, let me tell you where
this base slander originated. Compare the letter you have with the one
I gave you."
John complied. He nodded. These two letters had come from the same
"Here is another document." It was the carbon sheet.
John spread the sheet against the window-pane. The light behind
brought out the letters distinctly. He scarcely reached the final line
when he spun round, his face mobile with eagerness.
"Where did this come from?"
"Indirectly, out of McQuade's waste-basket."
"Morrissy and McQuade; both of them! Oh, you have done me a service,
"But it can not be used, John. That and the letters were written on
McQuade's typewriter. So much for my political dreams! With that
carbon sheet I could pile up a big majority; without it I shall be
defeated. But don't let that bother you."
"McQuade!" John slowly extended his arms and closed his fingers so
tightly that his whole body trembled. An arm inside those fingers
would have snapped like a pipe-stem. "McQuade! Damn him!"
"Take care!" warned the other. "Don't injure those letters. When my
name was suggested by Senator Henderson as a possible candidate,
McQuade at once set about to see how he could injure my chances. He
was afraid of me. An honest man, young, new in politics, and therefore
unattached, was a menace to the success of his party, that is to say,
his hold on the city government. Among his henchmen was a man named
"He sent this man to New York to look up my past. In order to earn his
money he brought back this lie, which is half a truth. Whether McQuade
believes it or not is of no matter; it serves his purpose. Now, John!"
John made no reply. With his hands (one still clutching the letters)
behind his back he walked the length of the room and returned.
"Will you take my word, which you have always found loyal, or the word
of a man who has written himself down as a rascal, a briber, and a
John put out his empty hand and laid it on Warrington's shoulder.
"You're a good man, Dick. Dissipation is sometimes a crucible that
separates the gold from the baser metals. It has done that to you. You
are a good man, an honorable man. In coming to me like this you have
shown yourself to be courageous as well. There was a moment when the
sight of you filled my heart with murder. It was the night after I
received that letter. I've been watching you, watching, watching.
Well, I would stake my chance of eternity on your honesty. I take your
word; I should have taken it, had you nothing to prove your case. That
night I ran into Bolles. ... Well, he uttered a vile insult, and I all
but throttled him. Here's my hand, Dick."
The hand-grip that followed drew a gasp from Warrington.
"Not every man would be so good about it, John. What shall we do about
"I was about to say that I shall see McQuade within an hour," in a
tone that did not promise well for McQuade.
"Wait a day or two, John. If you meet him now, I believe you will do
him bodily harm, and he has caused enough trouble, God knows."
"But not to meet him! Not to cram this paper down his vile throat! I
had not considered that sacrifice. And I can not touch him by law,
"But you can silence him effectually. This business will end right
"You are right," said John with reluctance. "If I met him in this
rage. I should probably kill him."
"Let us go and pay him a visit together, John," Warrington suggested.
"I can manage to keep in between you."
"That's better. We'll go together." And John went for his hat. Then he
ran up stairs quickly. There was a loving heart up there that ached,
and he alone could soothe it.
And then the two men left the house. As they strode down the street,
side by side, step by step, their thoughts were as separate as the two
poles. To the one his wife was still his wife, in all the word
implied; to the other there was only a long stretch of years that he
must pass through alone, alone,--not even the man at his side would
ever be quite the same to him, nor his wife. There was a shadow; it
would always walk between them.
"Remember, Dick, Patty must never know anything of this. Nothing must
come between her and my wife."
"I shall say nothing to any one, John." Who had written to Patty?
It took them a quarter of an hour to reach McQuade's office.
Unfortunately for that gentleman, he was still in his office and
alone. The new typewriter and the two clerks had gone. He was still
wondering why Osborne's niece had resigned so unexpectedly. Probably
she was going to get married. They always did when they had saved a
penny or two. He laughed. He had been careless now and then, but
whatever she might have picked up in the way of business or political
secrets could not profit her. Boss McQuade felt secure. Warrington was
as good as beaten. He had had his long-delayed revenge on the man who
had turned him out of doors.
It was dark outside by this time, and he turned on the drop-light over
his desk. He heard the door open and shut, but this was not unusual;
so he went on with his writing.
"Well, what's wanted?" he called, folding his letter, but not yet
turning his head.
As no one answered, he sent his chair around with a push of his foot.
He saw two men, but he did not recognize them at once. By and by his
eyes grew accustomed to the dark. Instantly he was on his feet,
pressing the button connecting the wall-lights. There was no possible
exit save by that door, and these two men stood between. To do McQuade
justice, he was not a physical coward. His huge bulk and hardened
muscles gave him a ready courage. He forced a smile to his lips. After
all, he had expected one or the other of them sooner or later.
"Well, gentlemen, I am highly honored. What can I do for you?" There
was a pretense of amiability.
"For the present," said Warrington, "you may sit down. We propose to
do so." He drew out a chair from under the office table and placed it
close to the door. "You sit there, John." For himself, he sat on the
corner of the table.
McQuade did not hesitate, but reseated himself. His thoughts were not
particularly lucid, however.
"McQuade, you're as fine a blackleg as ever graced a prison," said
"I'll have to take your word for it," was the reply. "But how is it
that I see you and Mr. Bennington together?" evilly.
"We'll come to that presently. I had always given you credit for being
as astute as you were underhanded and treacherous."
"Thanks." McQuade took a cigar from his pocket and fumbled around in
his vest for a match.
"But," Warrington added, "I am pained to reverse my opinion. You are a
fool as well as a blackleg."
"How do you make that out?" coolly.
"Do you know where your man Bolles can be found?"
"Bolles? Ah, I begin to see. What do you want of him?"
"We want the esteemed honor of his company at this reunion," dryly.
Bolles? McQuade smiled. He was only too glad to accommodate them. If
they wanted Bolles they should have him. Bolles would cut them in two.
He reached for the telephone and began to call up the familiar haunts
of his henchman. He located him at length in Martin's saloon. There
was evidently some reluctance on the part of Bolles.
"Bolles, if you are not at my office inside of ten minutes, I'll break
you, and you know what I mean." McQuade hung up the receiver. "He'll
be right over. Now, what's all this mystery about?"
"It regards some literary compositions of yours to which I have taken
"Yes. Two anonymous letters. But before we discuss them we'll wait for
our friend Bolles."
McQuade signified that this was agreeable to him. All the same, he
glanced uneasily at the man near the door. Bennington had not made the
slightest sound after taking his chair. His arms were folded across
his breast, which rose and fell with deep intakes. His face, in the
shadow, was no more readable than that of the miniature sphinx
paper-weight that rested on McQuade's desk. But Bolles was coming. So
they waited. The end of McQuade's cigar waxed and waned according to
his inhalations. These inhalations were not quickly made, as by a man
whose heart is beating with excitement; they were slow and regular, it
might be said, contemplative. John's gaze never left the end of that
The lights in the tall building opposite began to twinkle from window
to window. Warrington slipped off the table and pulled down the
curtains. McQuade knocked the ashes from his cigar, contemplated the
coal, and returned it to the corner of his mouth.
Ah! The three men heard steps in the hall. The door to the outer
office opened and banged. But the man who squeezed past Bennington was
"Morrissy?" cried Warrington. "Fine! Have a chair, Mr. Morrissy, have
a chair." Warrington was delighted.
Morrissy's glance, somewhat bewildered, traveled from face to face. On
entering he had seen only McQuade's tranquil visage. He sat down,
disturbed and mystified.
"What's this?" Morrissy demanded to know.
"Hanged if I know!" said McQuade. "These two gentlemen presented
themselves a few moments ago and requested me to send for Bolles. Have
Morrissy took the proffered weed, but he did not light it. He turned
it round and round in his teeth and chewed it. Well, so long as the
boss did not seem alarmed, the trouble could not be serious. Yet he
was not over-confident of Bennington's lowering face.
"Been a fine day," said Morrissy, at haphazard.
"Yes, but there's going to be a storm to-night." Warrington resumed
his position on the table.
Conversation died. And then Bolles came in. At the sight of Bennington
"Come in, come in!" said McQuade. "Mr. Warrington will offer you a
"Yes, Bolles, sit down."
"Well, gentlemen, here's a quorum;" and McQuade began to rock in his
chair. Three against two; that would do very well.
"I will go at once at the matter in hand. Those letters, John."
Warrington held out his hand. "I'll read one to you, McQuade." He read
slowly and distinctly.
"What the hell is this?" said Morrissy.
"It's up to Mr. Warrington to explain." McQuade grinned. That grin,
however, nearly cost him his life.
"John, remember your promise!" cried Warrington.
John sat down, seized with a species of vertigo.
"McQuade, you wrote that."
"Me? You're crazy!"
"Not at all. Let me advise you. The next time you put your hand to
anonymous letters, examine the type of your machine. There may be some
"I don't know what you're driving at," McQuade declared.
"I see that I must read this, then, to convince you." Warrington stood
up, his back toward Bennington. He unfolded the carbon sheet and began
McQuade saw Medusa's head, little versed as he was in mythology. He
lowered his cigar. The blood in his face gradually receded.
"'In two sums of five hundred each,'" Warrington went on.
Morrissy, who suddenly saw visions of bars and stripes, made a quick,
desperate spring. Warrington struck him with full force on the side of
the head. Morrissy reeled, stumbled to the floor and lay there. The
others were on their feet instantly.
"Stay where you are, John; I don't need any assistance. Now, McQuade,
I've got you where I want you." Warrington spoke with deadly calm now.
"This carbon was found in your waste-basket and brought to me. The
girl is where you can not find her. There are two courses open to
"What are they?" There was murder in McQuade's heart, but there was
reason in his head. He saw exactly where he stood. They had him.
"One is state's prison; the other is a full retraction of this base
calumny. Take your choice."
"It's true, every damn word of it," said Bolles venomously. "Your
janitor in New York told me the facts. You know they're true."
"Bolles, I nearly killed you one night. So help me, if you do not
withdraw that, I'll kill you here and now!" It was the first time
Bennington had spoken.
"Bolles," said McQuade, "did you sell a lie to me?"
Bolles eyed Bennington, who had pushed Warrington out of the way and
was moving toward him. He saw death on Bennington's face. Warrington
again interposed, but John swept him aside with ease.
"Well, there was a doctor and a nurse there all night with them. But
she was in Warrington's rooms all night. That seemed enough for me."
Bolles put the table between him and Bennington. He was genuinely
Morrissy turned over and sat up, rubbing his head. Presently he pulled
himself to his feet. He was dazed. Recollection of what had happened
returned to him. This dude had knocked him out.
"You'll pay well for that," he said.
"Sit down. It's only a marker for what I'll do to you if you make
another move. Now, McQuade, which is it?"
"Go ahead and write your letter," McQuade snarled.
"Now sign it," he said. "Here, John, take care of this carbon. Bolles,
your signature." Bolles scrawled a shaking hand. Warrington put the
paper in his pocket. "Bite, both of you now, if you dare."
"I'll trouble you for that carbon," said McQuade.
"Hardly. But you have my word of honor that it shall not be used
against you unless you force me. It will repose in my deposit box at
the bank. But as for you, Morrissy, this climate doesn't suit your
abilities. The field is too small. Take my advice and clear out. That
is all, gentlemen. Come, John."
When they were gone Morrissy turned savagely upon McQuade.
"I told you you were a damn fool!"
"Get out of here, both of you; and if you ever stick your heads in
this office again, I'll smash you."
McQuade dropped into his chair, once more alone. He sat there for an
hour, thinking, ruminating, planning; but all his thinking and
ruminating and planning had but one result: they had him licked.
Morrissy was right; he was a fool. The girl! He would have liked her
throat in his fingers that moment, the sneaking, treacherous baggage!
Licked! To go about hereafter with that always menacing him! But there
was one ray of consolation. He knew something about human nature.
Bennington and Warrington would drift apart after this. Bennington had
cleared up the scandal, but he hadn't purged his heart of all doubt.
There was some satisfaction in this knowledge. And Warrington would
never enter the City Hall as Herculaneum's mayor.
By November John and his wife were on the way to Italy. There is
always a second honeymoon for those who have just passed the first
matrimonial Scylla and Charybdis; there is always a new courtship,
deeper and more understanding. Neither of them had surrendered a
particle of their affection for Warrington, but they agreed that it
would be easier for all concerned if there came a separation of
"You are all I have," said Warrington, when they bade him good-by. "I
shall be very lonely without you. If I lose the election I shall go to
"There's always Patty and the mother," said John, smiling.
"Yes, there's always Patty and her mother. Good-by, and God bless you
both. You deserve all the happiness I can wish for you."
Warrington plunged into the campaign. It would keep him occupied.
Mrs. Bennington and Patty lived as usual, to all outward appearance.
But Patty was rarely seen in society. She took her long rides in the
afternoon now, always alone, brooding. Her young friends wondered,
questioned, then drifted away gradually. Poor little Patty! No one had
told her; the viper had not been shaken from her nest. Day after day
she waited for the blow to fall, for the tide of scandal to roll over
her and obliterate her. She was worldly enough to know that Mrs.
Franklyn-Haldene was not the kind of woman to keep such a scandal
under lock and key; others must know, Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene's
particular friends. So she avoided the possibility of meeting these
friends by declining all invitations of a formal character. Perhaps
after a time it would die of its own accord, to be recalled in after
years by another generation, as such things generally are. Patty
derived no comfort from the paragraph in the Sunday papers announcing
Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene's departure for Egypt, to remain for the
She kept in touch with all that Warrington did. The sense of shame she
had at first experienced in reading his speeches was gone. Her pride
no longer urged her to cast aside the paper, to read it, to fling it
into the flames. Sometimes she saw him on the way home from his
morning rides. It seemed to her that he did not sit as erectly as
formerly. Why should he? she asked herself bitterly. When the heart is
heavy it needs a confidante, but Patty, brave and loyal, denied
herself the luxury of her mother's arms. Tell her this frightful
story? Bow that proud, handsome head? No.
"It is very strange," mused her mother, one evening, "that Mr.
Warrington calls no more. I rather miss his cheerfulness, and John
thinks so much of him."
Patty shivered. "He is very busy, mother. Election is only three days
off, and doubtless he hasn't a minute to call his own."
Nor had he. Pulled this way and that, speaking every night, from one
end of the city to the other, he went over the same ground again and
again, with the same noise, the same fumes of tobacco and whisky and
kerosene, with his heart no longer behind his will. Yes, Warrington
was very busy. He was very unhappy, too. What did he care about the
making up of the slate? What was it to him that this man or that
wanted this or that berth? What were all these things? But he hid his
dissatisfaction admirably. His speeches lacked nothing.
Election day came round finally, and a rare and beautiful day it was.
The ghost of summer had returned to view her past victories. A west
wind had cleared the skies, the sun shone warm and grateful, the
golden leaves shivered and fluttered to the ground. Nature had lent a
hand to bring voting humanity to the polls. Some men are such good
citizens that they will vote in the rain. But warmth and sunshine
bring out the lazy, the indifferent, and the uninterested.
Warrington voted early in the morning, rode to the Country Club, made
an attempt to play golf over the partly frozen course, lounged round
till three in the afternoon, and then returned to town. There was not
a flutter in his heart. There was this truth, however, staring him in
the eyes: if he lost, he would become an indifferent citizen; if he
won, an in different mayor. He was not a man to falsify his accounts
for the inspection of his conscience.
The voting was heavy throughout the day. Crowds lingered round the
polls, which, in greater part, were in the rear of shops, in barns and
sheds. There was a good deal of repeating in some of the districts,
and a dozen arrests had been made. Neither party was free from this
taint of dishonest politics. But no one could prophesy what the final
results of the day would be.
Night came. It is the greatest spectacular night the American knows.
The noisy, good-natured crowds in the streets, the jostling,
snail-moving crowds; the illuminated canvas-sheets in front of the
newspaper offices; the blare of tin horns, the cries, the yells, the
hoots and hurrahs; the petty street fights; the stalled surface cars;
the swearing cabbies; the newsboys hawking their latest extras, men
carrying execrable posters of roosters. Hurrah! hurrah! A flash goes
over the canvas.
In the 4th District
A roar that rose and died suddenly, and a wailing of tin horns.
In Seven Districts
Roars. It was, going to be close. Between times local advertisers used
the sheets, or there were pictures of presidents past and present,
crowned heads (always greeted with jeers), funny pictures, or returns
from other states.
In Nine Districts
The crowds surged and billowed, and there was pandemonium.
The newspaper offices were having a busy time. This period proves the
man; he is a newspaper man or he is not. There was a continuous coming
and going of messengers, bringing in returns. The reporters and
editors were in their shirt-sleeves, most of them collarless. Figures,
figures, thousands of figures to sift and resift. A fire-bell rings.
No one looks up save the fire reporter, and he is up and away at once.
Filtering through the various noises is the maddening rattle of the
telegraph instruments. Great drifts of waste-paper litter the floors.
A sandwich man serves coffee and cigars, and there is an occasional
bottle of beer. Everybody is writing, writing.
McQuade and his cohorts haunted the city room of the Times. Things did
not look well at all. There were twelve more districts to hear from.
Donnelly seemed to be the coolest man in that office.
Warrington started home at nine. Up to this time he had been
indifferent, but it was impossible not to catch the spirit of this
night. Win or lose, however, he wanted to be alone. So he went home,
lighted the fire in his working-room, called his dog, and sat there
Down town the clamor was increasing. The great throngs round the
bulletins were gathering in force. Bonfires were flaring on corners.
In 15 Districts
Close, terribly close. But those districts upon which the fight really
depended had not yet turned up. The big labor vote had not been
The Call had notified its readers that when the returns were all in
and the battle decided, it would blow a whistle. If Warrington was
elected, five blasts; if Donnelly, ten.
So Warrington waited, sunk in his chair, his legs sprawled, his chin
on his breast, and his eyes drawing phantoms in the burning wood fire.
... It was cruel that Patty could not know; and yet to leave John with
the belief that his sister knew nothing was a kindness, and only John
could convince Patty; and it was even a greater kindness to leave
Patty with the belief that John knew nothing. So there he stood;
friendship on the one side and love on the other. He recalled all the
charming ways Patty had, the color of her hair, the light music of her
laughter, the dancing shadows in her eyes, the transparent skin, the
springy step, and the vigor and life that were hers. And he had lost
her, not through any direct fault, but because he was known to have
been dissipated at one time; a shadow that would always be crossing
and recrossing his path. So long as he lived he would carry that
letter of hers, with its frank, girlish admiration.
So, he mused, those dissipations of his, which, after all, had touched
him but lightly--these had, like chickens, come home to roost! And how
these chickens had multiplied and grown! On the way home it seemed
that everybody had striven to fatten them up a bit and add
surreptitiously a chicken or two of his own. Oh, these meddlers, these
idle tongues! None of them would set to work to wrong anybody, to
wreck anybody's life. They would shrink in horror from the thought,
let alone the deed. Yet, they must talk, they must exchange the day's
news, they must have news that no one else had; and this competition
is the cause of half the misery on earth. What if they exaggerate a
little here and a little there? No harm is meant. Human nature, having
found its speech, must have something to talk about; that which it has
neither seen nor heard, it invents.
Who had written that letter to Patty? Some woman; man had not yet
acquired such finished cruelty. He could not understand its purpose,
well as he understood women. Who could possibly hate Patty, honest and
loyal as the day is long? McQuade's letters had their existence in
revenge. Patty had wronged no one; McQuade had.
"Well, Jove, old man, you and I may have to pack up on the morrow. If
we are licked, you and I'll go to Japan. That's a country we've always
been wanting to see."
Jove lifted his head, somewhat scarred, and gazed up at his master
with steadfast love in his red-brown eyes. A dog is better than a
horse, a horse is better than a cat, a cat is better than nothing. ...
Warrington sat up quickly, drawing in his legs. A whistle! He caught
his breath and counted. One--two--three--four--five--SIX! ...
Donnelly! He counted no more. Donnelly had won.
His valet found him asleep in the chair the next morning, before a
dead fire. It was cold in the room. The valet touched him, but
Warrington did not move. It was only when he was roughly shaken that
he opened his eyes. A single glance explained the situation. He jumped
to his feet, rubbing his eyes.
"Will you have the morning papers, sir?"
"What's the use?" Warrington shrugged indifferently.
"The majority was only six hundred and eighty-two, sir."
"Then we had them mightily scared for a time. Odd that the 'phone did
not wake me up."
"I took it off the hook, sir, at midnight. I knew it would disturb
"Go down town and bring me up the sailing-lists and a few cabin-plans
for ships bound for Japan. I intend to start for that country just as
soon as I can dispose of the horses."
"Shall you need me, sir?"
"I couldn't get along without you, James."
"Thank you, sir. Breakfast is served, sir, if you wish it."
The telephone rang. The valet raised his eyebrows inquiringly.
"I'll answer it," said Warrington. "Who is it? Jordan? Oh! You can say
that I put up the best fight I knew how. ... No. Say nothing about the
influence of the strike. Let it stand as it is. ... My plans? You may
say that I shall sail in a few days for Japan. ... Oh, yes! This is my
home. I shall return in the spring. Change of scene, that's all.
The defeated candidate ate a respectable breakfast, after which he put
his affairs in order. Trunks were brought down from the store-room,
and cases and steamer-rolls. Warrington always traveled comfortably.
He left the packing in charge of the valet.
A ten-o'clock edition of the Telegraph was being hawked outside, but
Warrington had seen all he wanted of newspapers. By noon he had found
a purchaser for his stable. The old housekeeper and her husband were
to remain in care of the house. They were the only beings that loved
him, now that the aunt was gone. Heigh-ho!
He declined lunch. He answered no more calls on the telephone. When
Senator Henderson called the interview was pleasant but short.
"We'll try you again," said the senator genially.
"I'll think it over," replied Warrington.
"You'll win next time; you'll be stronger two years hence. You made a
great fight. Bennington lost the fight for you. If he hadn't been your
"I had rather have John Bennington my friend than be president,"
"There were six thousand-odd labor votes against you, and yet
Donnelly's majority was only six hundred and eighty-two. Hope you'll
enjoy your trip to Japan. But McQuade's back again!" discouraged.
"Senator, if he acts nasty in any way, go to him personally and tell
him that upon application at the bank you will open my deposit box.
He'll understand; he'll be as docile as a lamb. And thank all the boys
for their good work. I appreciate the honor that has been done me. To
have been a candidate is something."
By three o'clock Warrington found time to sit down at his desk to
write three letters. One was addressed to McQuade, another to John,
Hotel de la Syrene, Sorrento, Italy. The third he began after some
Patty: Presently I shall be on the way to Japan. I was going without a
word because I had given a promise to your brother John. But it is not
within human nature, at least mine, to leave without telling you again
that I love you better than life, and that I am innocent of the wrong
you were so ready to believe. Some day ask John; tell him that I have
broken my word; he will tell you how truth was made a lie. I realize
now that I ought to have stood my ground. I ought to have nailed the
lie then. But my proofs were not such as would do away with all
doubts. And besides, when I saw that you had believed without giving
me the benefit of a doubt, I was angry. And so I left you, refusing to
speak one way or the other. John will tell you. And if my cause is
still in your thought and you care to write, mail your letter to my
bankers. They will forward it. And if I should have the happiness to
be wanted, even if I am at the ends of the world, I shall come to you.
He did not sign it, but he read it over carefully. There was nothing
to cut, nothing to add. He folded it, then laid his head on his
extended arms. A door opened and closed, but his ear was dull. Then
everything became still. Scientists have not yet fully explained what
it is that discovers to us a presence in the room, a presence that we
have neither seen nor heard enter. So it was with Warrington. There
was no train of collected thought in his mind, nothing but stray
snatches of this day and of that the picture of a smile, a turn in the
road, the sound of a voice. And all at once he became conscious that
something was compelling him to raise his head. He did so slowly.
A woman was standing within a dozen feet of the desk.
"Patty!" he cried, leaping to his feet bewildered.
Patty did not move. Alas, she had left all her great bravery at the
threshold. What would he think of her?
"Patty!" he repeated. "You are here?"
"Yes." All the blood in her body seemed to congest in her throat.
"Are--is it true that you are going to Japan?" If he came a step
nearer she was positive that she would fall.
"Yes, Patty; it is as true as I love you. But let us not speak of
"Yes, yes! Let us speak of it!" a wild despair in her voice and
gesture. "Let us speak of it, since I do nothing but think of it,
think of it, think of it! Oh! I am utterly shameless, but I can not
fight any longer. I have no longer any pride. I should despise you,
but I do not. I should hate you, but I can not ... No, no! Stay where
"Patty, do you love me?" There was a note in his voice as vibrant as
the second string of a cello.
"Do you still believe that I am a blackguard?"
"I care not what you are or what you have been; nothing, nothing. It
is only what you have been to me and what you still are. Something is
wrong; something is terribly wrong; I know not what it is. Surely God
would not let me love you as I do if you were not worthy."
"No," he replied gravely; "God would not do that."
The tears rolled down Patty's cheeks, but there was no sound.
"Here, Patty; read this letter which I was about to send you."
She accepted it dumbly. Then, through her tears there came wonder and
joy and sunshine. When she had done, he held out his hand for the
letter; but she smiled and shook her head.
"No, Richard; this is my first love-letter."