Part 5 out of 6
lifted in and Michael and Sam climbed up on the front seat with the driver
and rode away; then they drifted away to their several beds and the street
settled into its brief night respite.
The two young men waited at the hospital for an hour until a white-capped
nurse came to tell them that Lizzie had recovered consciousness, and there
was hope of her life. Then they went out into the late night together.
"Sam, you're coming home with me to-night!" Michael put his arm
affectionately around Sam's shoulders, "You never would come before, but
you must come to-night."
And Sam, looking into the other's face for an instant, saw that in
Michael's suffering eyes that made him yield.
"I ain't fit!" Sam murmured as they walked along silently together. It was
the first hint that Sam had ever given that he was not every whit as good
as Michael; and Michael with rare tact had never by a glance let Sam know
how much he wished to have him cleaner, and more suitably garbed.
"Oh, we'll make that all right!" said Michael fervently thankful that
at last the time had come for the presentation of the neat and fitting
garments which he had purchased some weeks before for a present for Sam,
and which had been waiting for a suitable opportunity of presentation.
The dawn was hovering in the East when Michael led Sam up to his own room,
and throwing wide the door of his own little private bath-room told Sam to
take a hot bath, it would make him feel better.
While Sam was thus engaged Michael made a compact bundle of Sam's old
garments, and stealing softly to the back hall window, landed them by a
neat throw on the top of the ash barrel in the court below. Sam's clothes
might see the alley again by way of the ash man, but never on Sam's back.
Quite late that very same morning, when Sam, clothed and in a new and
righter mind than ever before in his life, walked down with Michael to
breakfast, and was introduced as "my friend Mr. Casey" to the landlady, who
was hovering about the now deserted breakfast table; he looked every inch
of him a respectable citizen. Not handsome and distinguished like Michael,
of course, but quite unnoticeable, and altogether proper as a guest at the
respectable breakfast table of Mrs. Semple.
Michael explained that they had been detained out late the night before by
an accident, and Mrs. Semple gave special orders for a nice breakfast to be
served to Mr. Endicott and his friend, and said it wasn't any trouble at
People always thought it was no trouble to do things for Michael.
While they ate, Michael arranged with Sam to take a trip out to see Buck.
"I was expecting to go this morning," he said. "I had my plans all made.
They write me that Buck is getting uneasy and they wish I'd come, but
now"--he looked meaningly at Sam--"I think I ought to stay here for a
little. Could you go in my place? There are things here I must attend to."
Sam looked, and his face grew dark with sympathy. He understood.
"I'll keep you informed about Lizzie," went on Michael with delicate
intuition, "and anyway you couldn't see her for sometime, I think if you
try you could help Buck as much as I. He needs to understand that breaking
laws is all wrong. That it doesn't pay in the end, and that there has got
to be a penalty--you know. You can make him see things in a new way if you
try. Are you willing to go, Sam?"
"I'll go," said Sam briefly, and Michael knew he would do his best. It
might be that Sam's change of viewpoint would have more effect upon Buck
than anything Michael could say. For it was an open secret between Sam and
Michael now that Sam stood for a new order of things and that the old life,
so far as he was concerned, he had put away.
And so Sam was got safely away from the danger spot, and Michael stayed to
face his sorrow, and the problem of how to save Starr.
The papers the next morning announced that Mr. Stuyvesant Carter while
taking a short cut through the lower quarter of the city, had been cruelly
attacked, beaten and robbed, and had barely escaped with his life.
He was lying in his rooms under the care of a trained nurse, and was
recovering as rapidly as could be expected from the shock.
Michael reading it next morning after seeing Sam off to Kansas, lifted his
head with that quiet show of indignation. He knew that the message must
have been telephoned to the paper by Carter himself shortly after he had
escaped from the police. He saw just how easy it was for him to give out
any report he chose. Money and influence would buy even the public press.
It would be little use to try to refute anything he chose to tell about
The days that followed were to Michael one long blur of trouble. He haunted
Mr. Endicott's office in hopes of getting some news of his return but they
told him the last letters had been very uncertain. He might come quickly,
and he might be delayed a month yet, or even longer; and a cablegram might
not reach him much sooner than a letter, as he was travelling from place to
After three days of this agony, knowing that the enemy would soon be
recovering from his bruises and be about again, he reluctantly wrote a note
"My dear Miss Endicott:
"At the risk of offending you I feel that I must make one more attempt to
save you from what I feel cannot but be great misery. The young man of whom
we were speaking has twice to my knowledge visited a young woman of the
slums within the last month, and has even since your engagement been
maintaining an intimacy with her which can be nothing but an insult to you.
Though you may not believe me, it gives me greater pain to tell you this
than anything I ever had to do before, I have tried in every way I know to
communicate with your father, but have thus far failed. I am writing you
thus plainly and painfully, hoping that though you will not take my word
for it, you will at least be willing to find some trustworthy intimate
friend of your family in whom you can confide, who will investigate this
matter for you, and give you his candid opinion of the young man. I can
furnish such a man with information as to where to go to get the facts.
I know that what I have said is true. I beg for the sake of your future
happiness that you will take means to discover for yourself.
To this note, within two days, he received a condescending, patronizing
"I am exceedingly sorry that you have lent yourself to means so low to
accomplish your end, whatever that may be. It is beyond me to imagine what
possible motive you can have for all this ridiculous calumny that you are
trying to cast on one who has shown a most noble spirit toward you.
"Mr. Carter has fully explained to me his presence at the home of that
girl, and because you seem to really believe what you have written me, and
because I do not like to have _anyone_ think evil of the man whom I am
soon to marry, I am taking the trouble to explain to you. The young woman
is a former maid of Mr. Carter's mother, and she is deeply attached to her.
She does up Mrs. Carter's fine laces exquisitely, and Mr. Carter has twice
been the bearer of laces to be laundered, because his mother was afraid to
trust such valuable pieces to a servant. I hope you will now understand
that the terrible things you have tried to say against Mr. Carter are
utterly false. Such things are called blackmail and bring terrible
consequences in court I am told if they become known, so I must warn you
never to do anything of this sort again. It is dangerous. If my father
were at home he would explain it to you. Of course, having been in that
out-of-the-way Florida place for so long you don't understand these things,
but for papa's sake I would not like you to get into trouble in any way.
"There is one more thing I must say. Mr. Carter tells me that he saw
you down in that questionable neighborhood, and that you are yourself
interested in this girl. It seems strange when this is the case, that you
should have thought so ill of him.
"Trusting that you will cause me no further annoyance in this matter,
When Michael had read this he bowed himself upon his desk as one who had
been stricken unto death. To read such words from her whom he loved better
than his own soul was terrible! And he might never let her know that these
things that had been said of him were false. She would probably go always
with the idea that his presence in that alley was a matter of shame to him.
So far as his personal part in the danger to herself was concerned, he was
from this time forth powerless to help her. If she thought such things of
him,--if she had really been made to believe them,--then of course she
could credit nothing he told her. Some higher power than his would have to
save her if she was to be saved.
To do Starr justice she had been very much stirred by Michael's note, and
after a night of wakefulness and meditation had taken the letter to her
mother. Not that Starr turned naturally to her most unnatural mother for
help in personal matters usually; but there seemed to be no one else to
whom she could go. If only her father had been home! She thought of cabling
him, but what could she say in a brief message? How could she make him
understand? And then there was always the world standing by to peer
curiously over one's shoulder when one sent a message. She could not hope
to escape the public eye.
She considered showing Michael's note to Morton, her faithful nurse, but
Morton, wise in many things, would not understand this matter, and would be
powerless to help her. So Starr had gone to her mother.
Mrs. Endicott, shrewd to perfection, masked her indignation under a very
proper show of horror, told Starr that of course it was not true, but
equally of course it must be investigated; gave her word that she would do
so immediately and her daughter need have no further thought of the matter;
sent at once for young Carter with whom she held a brief consultation at
the end of which Starr was called and cheerfully given the version of the
story which she had written to Michael.
Stuyvesant Carter could be very alluring when he tried, and he chose to
try. The stakes were a fortune, a noble name, and a very pretty girl with
whom he was as much in love at present as he ever had been in his checkered
career, with any girl. Moreover he had a nature that held revenge long. He
delighted to turn the story upon the man who pretended to be so righteous
and who had dared to give him orders about a poor worthless girl of
the slums. He set his cunning intellect to devise a scheme whereby his
adversary should be caught in his own net and brought low. He found a
powerful ally in the mother of the girl he was to marry.
For reasons of ambition Mrs. Endicott desired supremely an alliance with
the house of Carter, and she was most determined that nothing should upset
her plans for her only daughter's marriage.
She knew that if her husband should return and hear any hint of the story
about Carter he would at once put an end to any relations between him and
Starr. He had always been "queer" about such things, and "particular," as
she phrased it. It would be mortifying beyond anything to have any balk in
the arrangements after things had gone thus far; and there was that hateful
Mrs. Waterman, setting her cap for him so odiously everywhere even since
the engagement had been announced. Mrs. Endicott intended to risk nothing.
Therefore she planned with the young people for an early marriage. She was
anxious to have everything so thoroughly cut and dried, and matters gone
so far that her husband could not possibly upset them when he returned.
Finally she cabled him, asking him to set a positive date for his
home-coming as the young people wished to arrange for an early wedding.
He cabled back a date not so very far off, for in truth, though he had
received none of Michael's warnings he was uneasy about this matter of his
daughter's engagement. Young Carter had of course seemed all right, and he
saw no reason to demur when his wife wrote that the two young people had
come to an understanding, but somehow it had not occurred to him that the
marriage would be soon. He was troubled at thought of losing the one bright
treasure of his home, when he had but just got her back again from her
European education. He felt that it was unfortunate that imperative
business had called him abroad almost as soon as she returned. He was in
haste to be back.
But when his wife followed her cable message with, a letter speaking of an
immediate marriage and setting a date but four days after the time set for
his arrival, he cabled to her to set no date until his return, which would
be as soon as he could possibly come.
However, Mrs. Endicott had planned well. The invitations had been sent out
that morning. She thought it unnecessary to cable again but wrote, "I'm
sorry, but your message came too late. The invitations are all out now, and
arrangements going forward. I knew you would not want to stop Starr's
plans and she seems to have her heart set on being married at once. Dear
Stuyvesant finds it imperative to take an ocean trip and he cannot bear the
thought of going without his wife. I really do not see how things could
possibly be held off now. We should be the laughing stock of society and
I am sure you would not want me to endure that. And Starr, dear child, is
quite childishly happy over her arrangements. She is only anxious to
have you properly home in time, so do hurry and get an earlier boat if
Over this letter Mr. Endicott frowned and looked troubled. His wife had
ever taken things in her own hands where she would; but concerning Starr
they had never quite agreed, though he had let her have her own way about
everything else. It was like her to get this marriage all fixed up while
he was away. Of course it must be all right, but it was so sudden! And his
little Starr! His one little girl!
Then, with his usual abrupt action he put the letter in his inner pocket
and proceeded to hurry his business as much as possible that he might take
an earlier boat than the one he had set. And he finally succeeded by dint
of working night as well as day, and leaving several important matters to
go as they would.
The papers at last announced that Mr. Delevan Endicott who had been abroad
for three months on business had sailed for home and would reach New York
nearly a week before the date set for the wedding. The papers also were
filled with elaborate foreshadowings of what that event was likely to mean
to the world of society.
And Michael, knowing that he must drink every drop of his bitter cup,
knowing that he must suffer and endure to the end of it, if perchance he
might yet save her in some miraculous way, read every word, and knew the
day and the hour of the boat's probable arrival. He had it all planned to
meet that boat himself. If possible he would go out on the pilot and meet
his man before he landed.
Then the silence of the great deep fell about the traveller; and the days
went by with the waiting one in the city; the preparations hurried forward
by trained and skilful workers. The Endicott home was filled with comers
and goers. Silks and satins and costly fabrics, laces and jewels and
rare trimmings from all over the world were brought together by hands
experienced in costuming the great of the earth.
Over the busy machinery which she had set going, Mrs. Endicott presided
with the calmness and positive determination of one who had a great purpose
in view and meant to carry it out. Not a detail escaped, her vigilant eye,
not an item was forgotten of all the millions of little necessities that
the world expected and she must have forthcoming. Nothing that could make
the wedding unique, artistic, perfect, was too hard or too costly to be
carried out. This was her pinnacle of opportunity to shine, and Mrs.
Endicott intended to make the most of it. Not that she had not shone
throughout her worldly career, but she knew that with the marriage of her
daughter her life would reach its zenith point and must henceforth begin
to decline. This event must be one to be remembered in the annals of
the future so long as New York should continue to marry and be given in
marriage. Starr's wedding must surpass all others in wonder and beauty and
So she planned, wrought, carried out; and day by day the gleam in her eyes
told that she was nearing her triumph.
It did not disturb her when the steamer was overdue one whole day, and then
two. Starr, even amid the round of gaieties in her young set, all given in
her honor, found time to worry about her father; but the wife only found
in this fact a cause for congratulation. She felt instinctively that her
crucial time was coming when her husband reached home. If Michael had dared
to carry out his threats, or if a breath of the stories concerning young
Carter's life should reach him there would be trouble against which she had
It was not until the third morning with still no news of the vessel that
Mrs. Endicott began to feel uneasy. It would be most awkward to have to
put off the ceremony, and of course it would not do to have it without the
bride's father when he was hurrying to be present. If he would arrive just
in time so much the better; but late--ah--that would be dreadful! She
tightened her determined lips, and looked like a Napoleon saying to
herself, "There shall be no Alps!" In like manner she would have said if
she could: "There shall be no sea if I wish it."
But the anxiety she felt was only manifested by her closer vigilance over
her helpers as swiftly and hourly the perfected preparations glided to
Starr grew nervous and restless and could not sleep, but hovered from room
to room in the daytime looking out of the windows, or fitfully telephoning
the steamship company for news. Her fiancé found her most unsatisfactory
and none of the plans he proposed for her diversion pleased her. Dark rings
appeared under her eyes, and she looked at him with a troubled expression
sometimes when she should have been laughing in the midst of a round of
Starr deeply loved her father, and some vague presentiment of coming
trouble seemed to shadow all the brightness of life. Now and then Michael's
face with its great, true eyes, and pleading expression came between
her and Carter's face, and seemed to blur its handsome lines; and then
indefinite questions haunted her. What if those terrible things Michael had
said were true? Was she sure, _sure_? And at times like that she fancied
she saw a weakness in the lines about Carter's eyes and mouth.
But she was most unused to studying character, poor child, and had no guide
to help her in her lonely problem of choosing; for already she had learned
that her mother's ways and hers were not the same; and--her father--did not
come. When he came it would be all right. It had to be, for there was no
turning back, of course, now. The wedding was but two days off.
Michael, in his new office, frankly acknowledged to himself these days that
he could not work. He had done all that he could and now was waiting for
a report of that vessel. When it landed he hoped to be the first man on
board; in fact, he had made arrangement to go out to meet it before it
landed. But it did not come! Was it going to be prevented until the day was
put off? Would that make matters any better? Would he then have more time?
And could he accomplish anything with Mr. Endicott, even, supposing he had
time? Was he not worse than foolish to try? Mr. Endicott was already angry
with him for another reason. His wife and Starr, and that scoundrel of a
Carter, would tell all sorts of stories. Of course he would believe them in
preference to his! He groaned aloud sometimes, when, he was alone in the
office: and wished that there were but a way he could fling himself between
Starr and all evil once for all; give his life for hers. Gladly, gladly
would he do it if it would do any good. Yet there was no way.
And then there came news. The vessel had been heard from still many miles
out to sea, with one of her propellers broken, and laboring along at great
disadvantage. But if all went well she would reach her dock at noon of the
following day--eight hours before the time set for the wedding!
Starr heard and her face blossomed, into smiles. All would go well after
all. She telephoned again to the steamship company a little while later and
her utmost fears were allayed by their assurances.
Mrs. Endicott heard the news with intense relief. Her husband would
scarcely have time to find out anything. She must take pains that he had no
opportunity to see Michael before the ceremony.
The young man heard and his heart beat wildly. Would the time be long
enough to save her?
Noon of the next day came, but the steamer had not yet landed, though the
news from her was good. She would be in before night, there was no doubt of
it now. Mr. Endicott would be in time for the wedding, but just that and no
more. He had sent reassurances to his family, and they were going forward
happily in the whirl of the last things.
But Michael in his lonely office hung up the telephone receiver with a
heavy heart. There would be no time now to save Starr. Everything was
against him. Even if he could get speech of Mr. Endicott which was doubtful
now, was it likely the man would listen at this the last minute? Of course
his wife and daughter and her fiancé could easily persuade him all was
well, and Michael a jealous fool!
As he sat thus with bowed head before his desk, he heard footsteps along
the stone floor of the corridor outside. They halted at his door, and
hesitating fingers fumbled with the knob. He looked up frowning and was
about to send any chance client away, with the explanation that he was
entirely too much occupied at present to be interrupted, when the face of
the woman who opened the door caught his attention.
It was Lizzie, with her baby in her arms; the girl he had defended in the
alley, and whose face he had last seen lying white and unconscious in the
moonlight, looking ghastly enough with the dark hair flung back against the
harsh pillow of stone.
The face was white now, but softened with the beauty of motherhood. The
bold, handsome features had somehow taken on a touch of gentleness, though
there glowed and burned in her dark eyes a fever of passion and unrest.
She stood still for a moment looking at Michael after she had closed the
door, and was holding the baby close as if fearing there might be some one
there who was minded to take it from her.
As Michael watched her, fascinated, cut to the heart by the dumb suffering
in her eyes, he was reminded of one of the exquisite Madonnas he had
seen in an exhibition not long ago. The draperies had been dainty and
cloud-like, and the face refined and wonderful in its beauty, but there had
been the same sorrowful mother-anguish in the eyes. It passed through his
mind that this girl and he were kin because of a mutual torture. His face
softened, and he felt a great pity for her swelling in his heart.
His eyes wandered to the little upturned face of the baby wrapped close
in the shabby shawl against its mother's breast. It was a very beautiful
little sleeping face, with a look still of the spirit world from which
it had but recently come. There was something almost unearthly in its
loveliness, appealing even in its sleep, with its innocent baby curves and
outlines. A little stranger soul, whose untried feet had wandered into
unwelcome quarters where sorrows and temptations were so thickly strewn
that it could not hope to escape them.
What had the baby come for? To make one more of the swarming mass of sinful
wretches who crowded the alley? Would those cherub lips half-parted now in
a seraphic smile live to pour forth blasphemous curses as he had heard even
very small children in the alley? Would that tiny sea-shell hand, resting
so trustingly against the coarse cloth of its mother's raiment, looking
like a rosebud gone astray, live to break open safes and take their
contents? Would the lovely little soft round body whose tender curves
showed pitifully beneath the thin old shawl, grow up to lie in the gutter
some day? The problem of the people had never come to Michael so forcibly,
so terribly as in that moment before Lizzie spoke.
"Be you a real lawyer?" she asked. "Kin you tell what the law is 'bout
folks and thin's?"
Michael smiled and rose to give her a chair as courteously as though she
had been a lady born.
"Sit down," he said. "Yes, I am a lawyer. What can I do for you?"
"I s'pose you charge a lot," said the girl with a meaning glance around the
room. "You've got thin's fixed fine as silk here. But I'll pay anythin' you
ast ef it takes me a lifetime to do it, ef you'll jest tell me how I kin
git my rights."
"Your rights?" questioned Michael sadly. Poor child! _Had_ she any rights
in the universe that he could help her to get? The only rights he knew for
such as she were room in a quiet graveyard and a chance to be forgotten.
"Say, ain't it against the law fer a man to marry a woman when he's already
got one wife?"
"It is," said Michael, "unless he gets a divorce."
"Well, I ain't goin' to give him no divorce, you bet!" said the girl
fiercely. "I worked hard enough to get a real marriage an' I ain't goin' to
give up to no fash'nable swell. I'm's good's she is, an' I've got my rights
an I'll hev 'em. An' besides, there's baby--!" Her face softened and took
on a love light; and immediately Michael was reminded of the madonna
picture again. "I've got to think o' him!" Michael marvelled to see that
the girl was revelling in her possession, of the little helpless burden who
had been the cause of her sorrow.
"Tell me about it." His voice was very gentle. He recalled suddenly that
this was Sam's girl. Poor Sam, too! The world was a terribly tangled mess
"Well, there ain't much to tell that counts, only he kep' comp'ny with me,
an' I wouldn't hev ennythin' else but a real marriage, an' so he giv in,
an' we hed a couple o' rooms in a real respectable house an' hed it fine
till he had to go away on business, he said. I never 'b'leeved that. Why he
was downright rich. He's a real swell, you know. What kind o' business cud
he have?" Lizzie straightened herself proudly and held her head high.
"About whom are you talking?" asked Michael.
"Why, my husband, 'course, Mr. Sty-ve-zant Carter. You ken see his name in
the paper real often. He didn't want me to know his real name. He hed me
call him Dan Hunt fer two months, but I caught on, an' he was real mad fer
a while. He said his ma didn't like the match, an' he didn't want folks to
know he'd got married, it might hurt him with some of his swell friends--"
"You don't mean to tell me that Mr. Stuyvesant Carter ever really married
you!" said Michael incredulously.
"Sure!" said Lizzie proudly, "married me jest like enny swell; got me a
dimon ring an' a silk lined suit an' a willer plume an everythin'." Lizzie
held up a grimy hand on which Michael saw a showy glitter of jewelry.
"Have you anything to show for it?" asked Michael, expecting her of course
to say no. "Have you any certificate or paper to prove that you were
married according to law?"
"Sure!" said Lizzie triumphantly, drawing forth a crumpled roll from the
folds of her dress and smoothing it out before his astonished eyes.
There it was, a printed wedding certificate, done in blue and gold with a
colored picture of two clasped hands under a white dove with a gold ring
in its beak. Beneath was an idealized boat with silken sails bearing two
people down a rose-lined river of life; and the whole was bordered with
orange blossoms. It was one of those old-fashioned affairs that country
ministers used to give their parishioners in the years gone by, and are
still to be had in some dusty corners of a forgotten drawer in country book
stores. But Michael recognized at once that it was a real certificate. He
read it carefully. The blanks were all filled in, the date she gave of the
marriage was there, and the name of the bridegroom though evidently written
in a disguised hand could be deciphered: "Sty. Carter." Michael did not
recognize the names of either the witnesses or the officiating minister.
"How do you happen to have Mr. Carter's real name here when you say he
married you under an assumed name?" he asked moving his finger thoughtfully
over the blurred name that had evidently been scratched out and written
"I made him put it in after I found out who he was," said Lizzie. "He
couldn't come it over me thet-a-way. He was awful gone on me then, an' I
cud do most ennythin' with him. It was 'fore she cum home from Europe! She
jes' went fer him an' turned his head. Ef I'd a-knowed in time I'd gone an'
tole her, but land sakes! I don't 'spose 'twould a done much good. I would
a-ben to her before, only I was fool 'nough to promise him I wouldn't say
nothin' to her ef he'd keep away from her. You see I needed money awful bad
fer baby. He don't take to livin' awful good. He cries a lot an' I bed to
hev thin's fer 'im, so I threatened him ef he didn't do sompin' I'd go tell
her; an' he up an' forked over, but not till I promised. But now they say
the papers is tellin' he's to marry her to-night, an' I gotta stop it
somehow. I got my rights an' baby's to look after, promise er no promise,
Ken I get him arrested?"
"I am not sure what you can do until I look into the matter," Michael said
gravely. Would the paper he held help or would it not, in his mission to
Starr's father? And would it be too late? His heavy heart could not answer.
"Do you know these witnesses?"
"Sure." said Lizzie confidently. "They're all swells. They come down with
him when he come to be married. I never seen 'em again, but they was real
jolly an' nice. They give me a bokay of real roses an' a bracelet made like
a snake with green glass eyes."
"And the minister? Which is his church?"
"I'm sure I donno," said Lizzie. "I never ast. He Come along an' was ez
jolly ez enny of 'em. He drank more'n all of 'em put together. He was awful
game fer a preacher."
Michael's heart began to sink. Was this a genuine marriage after all? Could
anything be proved? He questioned the girl carefully, and after a few
minutes sent her on her way promising to do all in his power to help her
and arranging to let her know as soon as possible if there was anything she
That was a busy afternoon for Michael. The arrival of the steamer was
forgotten. His telephone rang vainly on his desk to a silent room. He was
out tramping over the city in search of the witnesses and the minister who
had signed Lizzie's marriage certificate.
Meantime the afternoon papers came out with a glowing account of the
wedding that was to be, headed by the pictures of Starr and Mr. Carter, for
the wedding was a great event in society circles.
Lizzie on her hopeful way back to the alley, confident that Michael, the
angel of the alley, would do something for her, heard the boys crying the
afternoon edition of the paper, and was seized with a desire to see if her
husband's picture would be in again. She could ill spare the penny from her
scanty store that she spent for it, but then, what was money in a case like
this? Michael would do something for her and she would have more money.
Besides, if worst came to worst she would go to the fine lady and threaten
to make it all public, and she would give her money.
Lizzie had had more advantages than most of her class in the alley. She had
worked in a seashore restaurant several summers and could read a little.
From the newspaper account she gathered enough to rouse her half-soothed
frenzy. Her eyes flashed fire as she went about her dark little tenement
room making baby comfortable. His feeble wail and his sweet eyes looking
into hers only fanned the fury of her flame. She determined not to wait
for Michael, but to go on her own account at once to that girl that was
stealing away her husband, her baby's father, and tell her what she was
With the cunning of her kind Lizzie dressed herself in her best; a soiled
pink silk shirtwaist with elbow sleeves, a spotted and torn black skirt
that showed a tattered orange silk petticoat beneath its ungainly length,
a wide white hat with soiled and draggled willow plume of Alice blue, and
high-heeled pumps run over on their uppers. If she had but known it she
looked ten times better in the old Madonna shawl she had worn to
Michael's office, but she took great satisfaction in being able to dress
appropriately when she went to the swells.
The poor baby she wrapped in his soiled little best, and pinned a large
untidy pink satin bow on the back of his dirty little blanket. Then she
started on her mission.
Now Starr had just heard that her father's vessel would be at the dock in
a trifle over an hour and her heart was light and happy. Somehow all her
misgivings seemed to flee away, now that he was coming. She flew from one
room to another like a wild bird, trilling snatches of song, and looking
prettier than ever.
"Aw, the wee sweet bairnie!" murmured the old Scotch nurse. "If only her
man will be gude to her!"
There was some special bit of Starr's attire for the evening that had not
arrived. She was in a twitter of expectancy about it, to be sure it pleased
her, and when she heard the bell she rushed to the head of the stairs and
was half-way down to see if it had come, when the servant opened the door
to Lizzie and her baby.
One second more and the door would have closed hopelessly on poor Lizzie,
for no servant in that house would have thought of admitting such a
creature to the presence of their lady a few hours before her wedding; but
Starr, poised half-way on the landing, called, "What is it, Graves, some
one to see me?"
"But she's not the sort of person--Miss Starr!" protested Graves with the
door only open a crack now.
"Never mind, Graves, I'll see her for a minute. I can't deny anyone on my
wedding day you know, and father almost safely here. Show her into the
little reception room." She smiled a ravishing smile on the devoted Graves,
so with many qualms of conscience and misgivings as to what the mistress
would say if she found out, Graves ushered Lizzie and her baby to the room
indicated and Starr fluttered down to see her. So it was Starr's own doings
that Lizzie came into her presence on that eventful afternoon.
"Oh, what a sweet baby!" exclaimed Starr eagerly, "is he yours?" Lizzie's
fierce eyes softened.
"Sit down and tell me who you are. Wait, I'll have some tea brought for
you. You look tired. And won't you let me give that sweet baby a little
white shawl of mine. I'm to be married to-night and I'd like to give him a
wedding present," she laughed gaily, and Morton was sent for the shawl and
another servant for the tea, while Starr amused herself by making the baby
crow at her.
Lizzie sat in wonder. Almost for the moment she forgot her errand watching
this sweet girl in her lovely attire making much of her baby. But when
the tea had been brought and the soft white wool shawl wrapped around the
smiling baby Starr said again:
"Now please tell me who you are and what you have come for. I can't give
you but a minute or two more. This is a busy day, you know."
Lizzie's brow darkened.
"I'm Mrs. Carter!" she said drawing herself up with conscious pride.
"Carter?" said Starr politely.
"Yes, I'm the wife of the man you're goin' to marry to-night, an' this is
his child, I thought I'd come an' tell you 'fore 'twas too late. I thought
ef you had enny goodness in you you'd put a stop to this an' give me my
rights, an' you seem to hev some heart. Can't you call it off? You wouldn't
want to take my husband away from me, would you? You can get plenty others
an' I'm jest a plain workin' girl, an' he's mine anyhow, an' this is his
Starr had started to her feet, her eyes wide, her hand fluttering to her
"Stop!" she cried. "You must be crazy to say such things. My poor girl, you
have made a great mistake. Your husband is some other Mr. Carter I suppose.
My Mr. Carter is not that kind of a man. He has never been married--"
"Yes, he has!" interposed Lizzie fiercely, "He's married all right, an' I
got the c'tif'ct all right too, only I couldn't bring it this time cause I
lef' it with my lawyer; but you can see it ef you want to, with his name
all straight, "Sty-Vee-Zant Carter," all writ out. I see to it that he writ
it himself. I kin read meself, pretty good, so I knowed."
"I am very sorry for you," said Starr sweetly, though her heart was heating
violently in spite of her efforts to be calm and to tell herself that she
must get rid of this wretched impostor without making a scene for the
servants to witness: "I am very sorry, but you have made some great
mistake. There isn't anything I can do for you now, but later when I come
back to New York if you care to look me up I will try to do something for
Lizzie stood erect in the middle of the little room, her face slowly
changing to a stony stare, her eyes fairly blazing with anger.
"De'yer mean ter tell me yer a goin' t'go on an' marry my husban' jes'
ez ef nothin' had happened? Ain't yer goin' ter ast him ef it's true ner
nothin'? Ain't yer goin' t' find out what's true 'bout him? 'R d'ye want
'im so bad ye don't care who yer hurt, or wot he is, so long's he makes a
big splurge before folks? Ain't you a-goin' ter ast him 'bout it?"
"Oh, why certainly, of course," said Starr as if she were pacifying a
frantic child, "I can ask him. I will ask him of course, but I _know_ that
you are mistaken. Now really, I shall have to say good afternoon. I haven't
another minute to spare. You must go!"
"I shan't stir a step till you promise me thet you'll ast him right
straight away. Ain't you all got no telyphone? Well, you kin call him up
an' ast him. Jest ast him why he didn't never speak to you of his wife
Lizzie, and where he was the evenin' of Augus' four. That's the date on the
c'tif'ct! Tell him you seen me an' then see wot he says. Tell him my lawyer
is a goin' to fix him ef he goes on. It'll be in all the papers to-morrer
mornin' ef he goes on. An' you c'n say I shan't never consent to no
_di_-vorce, they ain't respectable, an' I got to think o' that on baby's
"If you will go quietly away now and say nothing more about this to anyone
I will tell Mr. Carter all about you," said Starr, her voice trembling with
the effort at self-control.
"D'ye promus you will?"
"Certainly," said Starr with dignity.
"Will ye do it right off straight?"
"Yes, if you will go at once."
"Cross yer heart?"
"Cross yer heart ye will? Thet's a sort o' oath t' make yer keep yer
promus," explained Lizzie.
"A lady needs no such thing to make her keep her promise. Don't you know
that ladies always keep their promises?"
"I wasn't so sure!" said Lizzie, "You can't most allus tell, 't's bes' to
be on the safe side. Will yer promus me yer won't marry him ef ye find out
he's my husband?"
"Most certainly I will not marry him if he is already married. Now go,
please, at once. I haven't a minute to spare. If you don't go at once I
cannot have time to call him up."
"You sure I kin trust you?"
Starr turned on the girl such a gaze of mingled dignity and indignation
that her eye quailed before it.
"Well, I s'pose I gotta," she said, dropping her eyes before Starr's
righteous wrath. "But 'no weddin' bells' fer you to-night ef yeh keep yer
promus. So long!"
Starr shuddered as the girl passed her. The whiff of unwashed garments,
stale cooking, and undefinable tenement odor that reached her nostrils
sickened her. Was it possible that she must let this creature have a hold
even momentarily upon her last few hours? Yet she knew she must. She knew
she would not rest until she had been reassured by Carter's voice and the
explanation that he would surely give her. She rushed upstairs to her own
private 'phone, locking the door on even her old nurse, and called up the
'phone in Carter's private apartments.
Without owning it to herself she had been a little troubled all the
afternoon because she had not heard from Carter. Her flowers had
come,--magnificent in their costliness and arrangement, and everything he
was to attend to was done, she knew, but no word had come from himself. It
was unlike him.
She knew that he had given a dinner the evening before to his old friends
who were to be his ushers, and that the festivities would have lasted late.
He had not probably arisen very early, of course, but it was drawing on
toward the hour of the wedding now. She intended to begin to dress at once
after she had 'phoned him. It was strange she had not heard from him.
After much delay an unknown voice answered the 'phone, and told her Mr.
Carter could not come now. She asked who it was but got no response, except
that Mr. Carter couldn't come now. The voice had a muffled, thick sound.
"Tell him to call me then as soon as possible," she said, and the voice
Reluctantly she hung up the receiver and called Morton to help her dress.
She would have liked to get the matter out of the way before she went about
the pretty ceremony, and submitted herself to her nurse's hands with an ill
grace and troubled thoughts. The coarse beauty of Lizzie's face haunted
her. It reminded her of an actress that Carter had once openly admired, and
she had secretly disliked. She found herself shuddering inwardly every time
she recalled Lizzie's harsh voice, and uncouth sentences.
She paid little heed to the dressing process after all and let Morton have
her way in everything, starting nervously when the 'phone bell rang, or
anyone tapped at her door.
A message came from her father finally. He hoped to be with her in less
than an hour now, and as yet no word had come from Carter! Why did he not
know she would be anxious? What could have kept him from his usual greeting
of her, and on their wedding day!
Suddenly, in the midst of Morton's careful draping of the wedding veil
which she was trying in various ways to see just how it should be put on at
the last minute, Starr started up from her chair.
"I cannot stand this, Mortie. That will do for now. I must telephone Mr.
Carter. I can't understand why he doesn't call me."
"Oh, but the poor man is that busy!" murmured Morton excusingly as she
hurried obediently out of the room. "Now, mind you don't muss that
But after a half hour of futile attempt to get into communication with
Carter, Starr suddenly appeared in her door calling for her faithful nurse
"Mortie!" she called excitedly. "Come here quick! I've ordered the
electric. It's at the door now. Put on your big cloak and come with me!
I've got to see Mr. Carter at once and I can't get him on the 'phone."
"But Miss Starr!" protested Morton. "You've no time to go anywhere now, and
look at your pretty veil!"
"Never mind the veil, Mortie, I'm going. Hurry. I can't stop to explain.
I'll tell you on the way. We'll be back before anyone has missed us."
"But your mamma, Miss Starr! She will be very angry with me!"
"Mamma must not know. And anyway I must go. Come, if you won't come with me
I'm going alone."
Starr with these words grasped a great cloak of dark green velvet, soft and
pliable as a skin of fur, threw it over her white bridal robes, and hurried
down the stairs.
"Oh, Miss Starr, darlin'," moaned Morton looking hurriedly around for a
cloak with which to follow. "You'll spoil yer veil sure! Wait till I take
it off'n ye."
But Starr had opened the front door and was already getting into the great
luxurious car that stood outside.
Michael, as he went about on his search kept crying over and over again
in his heart: "Oh, God! Do something to save her! Do something to save my
Over and over the prayer prayed itself without seeming thought or volition
on his part, as he went from place to place, faithfully, keenly, step by
step, searching out what he needed to know. At last toward six o'clock, his
chain of evidence led him to the door of Stuyvesant Carter's apartments.
After some delay the door was opened reluctantly a little way by a
servant with an immobile mask of a face who stared at him stupidly, but
finally admitted that the three men whose names he mentioned were inside.
He also said that Mr. Carter was in, but could not be seen.
He closed the door on the visitor and went inside again to see if any of
the others would come out. There ensued an altercation in loud and somewhat
unsteady tones, and at last the door opened again and a fast looking young
man who admitted himself to be Theodore Brooks slid out and closed it
carefully behind him. The air that came with him was thick with tobacco
smoke and heavy with liquor, and the one glimpse Michael got of the room
showed a strange radiance of some peculiar light that glowed into the dusky
The heavy-eyed youth who stood braced against the wall uncertainly looked
into Michael's face with an impudent laugh.
"Well, parson, what's the grouch? Are you the devil or an angel sent to
bring retribution?" He ended with a silly laugh that told the experienced
ear of the young lawyer that the young man had been drinking heavily. And
this was the man whose name was signed as Rev. Theodore Brooks, D.D., on
the tawdry little marriage certificate that Michael held in his hand. His
heart sank at the futility of the task before him.
"Are you a minister?" asked Michael briefly.
"Am I a minister?" drawled young Brooks. "M-my-m-m-mnster! Well now that
get's my goat! Say, boys, he wants t' kno' 'f I'm a m-min'ster! Min-ster of
what? Min-ster plen-p'ten'sherry?"
"Did you ever perform a marriage?" asked Michael sharply to stop the loud
guffaw that was re-echoing through the polished corridors of the apartment.
"P'form a m'riage, d'ye say? No, but I'm goin' perform 't a marriage
to-night 'f the dead wakes up in time. Goin' t' be bes' man. Say, boys! Got
'im 'wake yet? Gettin' late!"
Michael in despair took hold of the other's arm and tried to explain what
he wanted to know. Finally he succeeded in bringing the matter into the
"Wedding, oh, yes, I 'member, peach of a girl! Stuyvy awfully fond of her.
No harm meant. Good joke! Yes,--I borr'wed Grand'F'ther Brooks's old gown'n
ban's. Awf'lly good disguise! No harm meant--on'y good joke--girl awf'lly
set on getting married. Stuyvy wanted t' please 'er--awfully good, joke--!"
"A ghastly joke, I should say, sir!" said Michael sternly and then the door
was flung open by hands from inside, loud angry voices protesting while
another hand sought unavailingly to close the door again, but Michael came
and planted himself in the open door and stood like an avenging angel come
to call to judgment. The scene that was revealed to him was too horrifying
A long banquet table stood in the midst of the handsome room whose
furnishings were of the costliest. Amid the scattered remains of the feast,
napkins lying under the table, upset glasses still dripping their ruby
contents down the damask of the tablecloth, broken china, scattered plates
and silver, stood a handsome silver bound coffin, within which, pallid and
deathlike, lay the handsome form of the bridegroom of the evening. All
about the casket in high sconces burned tall tapers casting their spectral
light over the scene.
Distributed about the room lounging in chairs, fast asleep on the couches,
lying under the table, fighting by the doorway, one standing on a velvet
chair raising an unsteady glass of wine and making a flabby attempt at a
drinking song, were ten young men, the flower of society, the expected
ushers of the evening's wedding.
Michael with his white face, his golden hair aflame in the flickering
candle light, his eyes full of shocked indignation, stood for a moment
surveying the scene, and all at once he knew that his prayer was answered.
There would be no wedding that night.
"Is this another of your ghastly jokes?" he turned to Brooks who stood by
as master of ceremonies, not in the least disturbed by the presence of the
"That's just what it is," stuttered Brooks, "a j-j-joke, a p-p-p-pract'cal
joke. No harm meant, only Stuyvy's hard to wake up. Never did like gettin'
up in the mornin'. Wake 'im up boys! Wake 'im up! Time to get dressed for
"Has anyone sent word to Miss Endicott?"
"Sent word to Mish Endicott? No, I'd 'no's they have. Think she'd care to
come? Say, boys, that's a good joke. This old fellow--don't know who he
is--devil'n all his angels p'raps--he s'gests we send word to Mish Endicott
t' come' th' fun'ral--"
"I said nothing of the kind," said Michael fiercely. "Have you no sense of
decency? Go and wash your face and try to realize what you have been doing.
Have some one telephone for a doctor. I will go and tell the family," and
Michael strode out of the room to perform the hardest task that had ever
yet fallen to his lot.
He did not wait for the elevator but ran down the flights of stairs trying
to steady his thoughts and realize the horror through which he had just
As he started down the last flight he heard the elevator door clang below,
and as it shot past him he caught a glimpse of white garments and a face
with eyes that he knew. He stopped short and looked upward. Was it--could
it be? But no, of course not. He was foolish. He turned and compelled his
feet to hurry down the rest of the stairs, but at the door his worst fears
were confirmed, for there stood the great electric car, and the familiar
face of the Endicott chauffeur assured him that some one of the family had
just gone to the ghastly spectacle upstairs.
In sudden panic he turned and fled up the stairs. He could not wait for
elevators now. He fain would have had wings, the wings of a protecting
angel, that he might reach her ere she saw that sight of horror.
Yet even as he started he knew that he must be too late.
Starr stopped startled in the open doorway, with Morton, protesting,
apprehensive, just behind her. The soft cloak slid away from her down the
satin of her gown, and left her revealed in all her wedding whiteness, her
eyes like stars, her beautiful face flushed excitedly. Then the eyes rested
on the coffin and its death-like occupant and her face went white as her
dress, while a great horror grew in her eyes.
Brooks, more nearly sober than the rest, saw her first, and hastened to do
"Say, boys, she's come," he shouted. "Bride's come. Git up, Bobby Trascom.
Don't yer know ye mustn't lie down, when there's a lady present--Van--get
out from under that table. Help me pick up these things. Place all in a
mess. Glad to see you, Mish Endicott--" He bowed low and staggered as he
Starr turned her white face toward him:
"Mr. Brooks," she said in a tone that sobered him somewhat, "what does it
mean? Is he dead?"
"Not at all, not at all, Mish Endicott," he tried to say gravely. "Have him
all right in plenty time. Just a little joke, Mish Endicott. He's merely
But Starr heard no more. With a little stifled cry and a groping motion
of her white-clad arms, she crumpled into a white heap at the feet of her
horrified nurse. It was just as she fell that Michael appeared at the door,
like the rescuing angel that he was, and with one withering glance at the
huddled group of men he gathered her in his arms and sped down the stairs,
faithful Morton puffing after him. Neither of them noticed a man who got
out of the elevator just before Starr fell and walking rapidly toward the
open door saw the whole action. In a moment more Mr. Endicott stood in the
door surveying the scene before him with stern, wrathful countenance.
Like a dash of cold water his appearance brought several of the
participants in the disgraceful scene to their senses. A few questions and
he was possessed of the whole shameful story; the stag dinner growing into
a midnight orgy; the foolish dare, and the reckless acceptance of it by the
already intoxicated bridegroom; the drugged drinks; and the practical joke
carried out by brains long under the influence of liquor. Carter's man who
had protested had been bound and gagged in the back room. The jokers had
found no trouble in securing the necessary tools to carry out their joke.
Money will buy anything, even an undertaker for a living man. The promise
of secrecy and generous fees brought all they needed. Then when the ghastly
work was completed and the unconscious bridegroom lying in state in his
coffin amid the debris of the table, they drowned the horror of their deed
in deeper drinking.
Mr. Endicott turned from the scene, his soul filled with loathing and
He had reached home to find the house in a tumult and Starr gone. Morton,
as she went out the door after her young mistress, had whispered to the
butler their destination, and that they would return at once. She had an
innate suspicion that it would be best for some one to know.
Mr. Endicott at once ordered the runabout and hastened after them, arriving
but a moment or two later. Michael had just vanished up the Apartment
stairs as he entered the lower hallway. The vague indefinite trouble that
had filled his mind concerning his daughter's marriage to a man he little
knew except by reputation, crystallized into trouble, dear and distinct, as
he hurried after his daughter. Something terrible must have come to Starr
or she would never have hurried away practically alone at a time like this.
The electric car was gone by the time Mr. Endicott reached the lower hall
again, and he was forced to go back alone as he came, without further
explanation of the affair than what he could see; but he had time in the
rapid trip to become profoundly thankful that the disgraceful scene he
had just left had occurred before and not after his daughter's marriage.
Whatever alleviating circumstances there were to excuse the reckless victim
of his comrade's joke, the fact remained that a man who could fall victim
to a joke like that was not the companion for his daughter's life; she who
had been shielded and guarded at every possible point, and loved as the
very apple of his eye. His feelings toward the perpetrators of this
gruesome sport were such that he dared not think about them yet. No
punishment seemed too great for such. And she, his little Starr, had looked
upon that shameful scene; had seen the man she was expecting to marry lying
as one dead--! It was too awful! And what had it done to her? Had it killed
her? Had the shock unsettled her mind? The journey to his home seemed
longer than his whole ocean voyage. Oh, why had he not left business to go
to the winds and come back long ago to shield his little girl!
Meantime, Michael, his precious burden in his arms, had stepped into the
waiting car, motioning Morton to follow and sit in the opposite seat. The
delicate Paris frock trailed unnoticed under foot, and the rare lace of
the veil fell back from the white face, but neither Michael nor the nurse
thought of satin and lace now, as they bent anxiously above the girl to see
if she still breathed.
All the way to her home Michael held the lovely little bride in his arms,
feeling her weight no more than a feather; fervently thankful that he might
bear her thus for the moment, away from the danger that had threatened her
life. He wished with all his heart he might carry her so to the ends of the
earth and never stop until he had her safe from all harm that earth could
bring. His heart thrilled wildly with the touch of her frail sweetness,
even while his anxious face bent over her to watch for signs of returning
But she did not become conscious before she reached the house. His strong
arms held her as gently as though she had been a baby as he stepped
carefully out and carried her to her own room; laying her upon the white
bed, where but two hours before the delicate wedding garments had been
spread ready for her to put on. Then he stood back, reverently looked upon
her dear face, and turned away. It was in the hall that he met her mother,
and her face was fairly disfigured with her sudden recognition of him.
"What! Is it you that have dared come into this house? The impertinence!
I shall report all your doings to my husband. He will be very angry. I
believe that you are at the bottom of this whole business! You shall
certainly be dealt with as you deserve!"
She hissed the words after him as Michael descended the stairs with bowed
head and closed lips. It mattered not now what she said or thought of him.
Starr was saved!
He was about to pass out into the world again, away from her, away even
from knowledge of how she came out of her swoon. He had no further right
there now. His duty was done. He had been allowed to save her in her
But just as he reached it the door opened and Mr. Endicott hurried in.
He paused for an instant.
"Son!" said he, "it was you who brought her home!" It was as if that
conviction had but just been revealed to his perturbed mind. "Son, I'm
obliged. Sit here till I come. I want to speak with you."
The doctor came with a nurse, and Michael sat and listened to the distant
voices in her room. He gathered from the sounds by and by that Starr was
conscious, was better.
Until then no one had thought of the wedding or of the waiting guests that
would be gathering. Something must be done. And so it came about that as
the great organ sounded forth the first notes of the wedding march--for by
some blunder the bride's signal had been given to the organist when the
Endicott car drew up at the church--that Michael, bare headed, with his hat
in his hand, walked gravely up the aisle, unconscious of the battery of
eyes, and astonished whispers of "Who is he? Isn't he magnificent? What
does it mean? I thought the ushers were to come first?" until he stood
calmly in the chancel and faced the wondering audience.
If an angel had come straight down from heaven and interfered with their
wedding they could not have been more astonished. For, as he stood beneath
the many soft lights in front of the wall of living green and blossoms,
with his white face and grave sweet dignity, they forgot for once to study
the fashion of his coat, and sat awed before his beautiful face; for
Michael wore to-night the look of transport with chin uplifted, glowing
eyes, and countenance that showed the spirit shining through.
The organist looked down, and instinctively hushed his music. Had he made
some mistake? Then Michael spoke. Doubtless he should have gone to the
minister who was to perform the ceremony, and given him the message, but
Michael little knew the ways of weddings. It was the first one he had ever
attended, and he went straight to the point.
"On account of the sudden and serious illness of the groom," he said, "it
will be impossible for the ceremony to go on at this time. The bride's
family ask that you will kindly excuse them from further intrusion or
explanation this evening."
With a slight inclination of his head to the breathless audience Michael
passed swiftly down the aisle and out into the night, and the organist, by
tremendous self-control, kept on playing softly until the excited people
who had drifted usherless into the church got themselves out into their
carriages once more.
Michael walked out into the night, bareheaded still, his eyes lifted to the
stars shining so far away above the city, and said softly, with wondering,
reverent voice: "Oh, God! Oh, God!"
Following hard upon the interrupted wedding came other events that not only
helped to hush matters up, but gave the world a plausible reason why the
ceremony did not come off as soon as the groom was convalescent from what
was reported in the papers to be an attack of acute indigestion, easily
accounted for by the round of banquets and entertainments which usually
precede a society wedding.
During that eventful night while Starr still lay like a crushed lily torn
rudely from its stem, her mother, after a stormy scene with her husband, in
which he made it plain to her just what kind of a man she was wanting her
daughter to marry, and during which she saw the fall of her greatest social
ambitions, was suddenly stricken with apoplexy.
The papers next morning told the news as sympathetically as a paper can
tell one's innermost secrets. It praised the wonderful ability of the woman
who had so successfully completed all the unique arrangements for what had
promised to be the greatest wedding of the season, if not of all seasons;
and upon whose overtaxed strength, the last straw had been laid in the
illness of the bridegroom. It stated that now of course the wedding would
be put off indefinitely, as nothing could be thought of while the bride's
mother lay in so critical a state.
For a week there were daily bulletins of her condition published always in
more and more remote corners of the paper, until the little ripple that had
been made in the stream of life passed; and no further mention was made of
the matter save occasionally when they sent for some famous specialist:
when they took her to the shore to try what sea air might do; or when they
brought her home again.
But all the time the woman lay locked in rigid silence. Only her cold eyes
followed whoever came into her room. She gave no sign of knowing what they
said, or of caring who came near her. Her husband's earnest pleas, Starr's
tears, drew from her no faintest expression that might have been even
imagined from a fluttering eyelash. There was nothing but that stony stare,
that almost unseeing gaze, that yet followed, followed wherever one would
move. It was a living death.
And when one day the release came and the eyes were closed forever from the
scenes of this world, it was a sad relief to both husband and daughter.
Starr and her father stole away to an old New England farm-house where Mr.
Endicott's elderly maiden sister still lived in the old family homestead; a
mild-eyed, low-voiced woman with plain gray frocks and soft white laces at
wrists and neck and ruched about her sweet old face above the silver of her
Starr had not been there since she was a little child, and her sad heart
found her aunt's home restful. She stayed there through the fall and until
after the first of the year; while her father came and went as business
dictated; and the Endicott home on Madison Avenue remained closed except
for the caretakers.
Meanwhile young Carter had discreetly escorted his mother to Europe, and
was supposed by the papers to be going to return almost immediately. Not a
breath of gossip, strange to say, stole forth. Everything seemed arranged
to quiet any suspicion that might arise.
Early in the fall he returned to town but Starr was still in New England.
No one knew of the estrangement between them. Their immediate friends were
away from town still, and everything seemed perfectly natural in the order
of decency. Of course people could not be married at once when there had
been a death in the family.
No one but the two families knew of Carter's repeated attempts to be
reconciled to Starr; of his feeble endeavor at explanation; of her
continued refusal even to see him; and the decided letter she wrote him
after he had written her the most abject apology he knew how to frame; nor
of her father's interview with the young man wherein he was told some facts
about himself more plainly than anyone, even in his babyhood, had ever
dared to tell him. Mr. Endicott agreed to keep silence for Starr's sake,
provided the young man would do nothing to create any gossip about the
matter, until the intended wedding had been forgotten, and other events
should have taken the minds of society, from their particular case. Carter,
for his own sake, had not cared to have the story get abroad and had
sullenly acceded to the command. He had not, however, thought it necessary
to make himself entirely miserable while abroad; and there were those who
more than once spoke his name in company with that of a young and dashing
divorcée. Some even thought he returned to America sooner than he intended
in order to travel on the same steamer that she was to take. However, those
whispers had not as yet crossed the water; and even if they had, such
things were too common to cause much comment.
Then, one Monday morning, the papers were filled with horror over an
unusually terrible automobile accident; in which a party of seven, of whom
the young divorcée was one and Stuyvesant Carter was another, went over an
embankment sixty feet in height, the car landing upside down on the rocks
below, and killing every member of the party. The paper also stated that
Mr. Theodore Brooks, intimate friend of Carter's, who was to have been best
man at the wedding some months previous, which was postponed on account of
the sudden illness and death of the bride's mother, was of the party.
Thus ended the career of Stuyvesant Carter, and thus the world never knew
exactly why Starr Endicott did not become Mrs. Carter.
Michael, from the moment that he went forth from delivering his message in
the church, saw no more of the Endicotts. He longed inexpressibly to call
and enquire for Starr; to get some word of reconciliation from her father;
to ask if there was not some little thing that he might be trusted to do
for them; but he knew that his place was not there, and his company was not
desired. Neither would he write, for even a note from him could but seem,
to Starr, a reminder of the terrible things of which he had been witness,
that is if anybody had ever told her it was he that brought her home.
One solace alone he allowed himself. Night after night as he went home
late he would walk far out of his way to pass the house and look up at her
window; and always it comforted him a little to see the dim radiance of her
soft night light; behind the draperies of those windows, somewhere, safe,
she lay asleep, the dear little white-faced girl that he had been permitted
to carry to her home and safety, when she had almost reached the brink of
About a week after the fateful wedding day Michael received a brief note
"My dear Mr. Endicott:
"I wish to thank you for your trouble in bringing me home last week. I
cannot understand how you came to be there at that time. Also I am deeply
grateful for your kindness in making the announcement at the church. Very
Michael felt the covert question in that phrase: "I cannot understand how
you came to be there at that time." She thought, perhaps, that to carry his
point and stop the marriage he had had a hand in that miserable business!
Well, let her think it. It was not his place to explain, and really of
course it could make little difference to her what she believed about him.
As well to let it rest. He belonged out of her world, and never would he
try to force his way into it.
And so with the whiteness of his face still lingering from the hard days of
tension, Michael went on, straining every nerve in his work; keeping the
alley room open nightly even during hot weather, and in constant touch with
the farm which was now fairly on its feet and almost beginning to earn its
own living; though the contributions still kept coming to him quietly, here
and there, and helped in the many new plans that grew out of the many new
The carpenter had built and built, until there were pretty little bungalows
of one and two and three rooms dotted all about the farm to be rented at a
low price to the workers. It had come to be a little community by itself,
spoken of as "Old Orchard Farms," and well respected in the neighborhood,
for in truth the motley company that Michael and Sam gathered there had
done far better in the way of law-and-orderliness than either had hoped.
They seemed to have a pride that nothing that could hurt "the boss's"
reputation as a landowner should be laid to their charge. If by chance
there came into their midst any sordid being who could not see matters in
that light the rest promptly taught him better, or else put him out.
And now the whole front yard was aflame with brilliant flowers in their
season. The orchard had been pruned and trimmed and grafted, and in the
spring presented a foreground of wonderful pink and white splendor; and at
all seasons of the year the grassy drive wound its way up to the old house,
through a vista of branches, green, or brown.
It had long been in Michael's heart to build over the old house--for what
he did not know. Certainly he had no hope of ever using it himself except
as a transitory dwelling; yet it pleased his fancy to have it as he dreamed
it out. Perhaps some day it might be needed for some supreme reason,
and now was the time to get it ready. So one day he took a great and
simple-hearted architect down to the place to stay over night and get an
idea of the surroundings; and a few weeks later he was in possession of
a plan that showed how the old house could be made into a beautiful new
house, and yet keep all the original outlines. The carpenter, pleased with
the prospect of doing something really fine, had undertaken the work and it
was going forward rapidly.
The main walls were to be built around with stone, old stone bought from
the ruins of a desolated barn of forgotten years, stone that was rusty and
golden and green in lovely mellow tones; stone that was gray with age and
mossy in place; now and then a stone that was dead black to give strength
to the coloring of the whole. There were to be windows, everywhere, wide,
low windows, that would let the sunlight in; and windows that nestled in
the sloping, rambling roofs that were to be stained green like the moss
that would grow on them some day. There was to be a piazza across the
entire front with rough stone pillars, and a stone paved floor up to which
the orchard grass would grow in a gentle terrace. Even now Sam and his
helpers were at work starting rose vines of all varieties, to train about
the trellises and twine about the pillars. Sam had elected that it should
be called "Rose Cottage." Who would have ever suspected Sam of having any
poetry in his nature?
The great stone fireplace with its ancient crane and place to sit inside
was to be retained, and built about with more stone, and the partitions
between the original sitting-room and dining-room and hall were to be torn
down, to make one splendid living-room of which the old fireplace should be
the centre, with a great window at one side looking toward the sea, and a
deep seat with book cases in the corner. Heavy beams were somehow to be put
in the ceiling to support it, and fine wood used in the wainscoting and
panelling, with rough soft-toned plaster between and above. The floors were
to be smooth, wide boards of hard wood well fitted.
A little gable was to be added on the morning-side of the house for a
dining-room, all windows, with a view of the sea on one side and the river
on the other. Upstairs there would be four bedrooms and a bath-room, all
according to the plan to be white wainscoting half-way up and delicately
vined or tinted papers above.
Michael took great pleasure in going down to look at the house, and
watching the progress that was made with it, as indeed the whole colony
did. They called it "The Boss's Cottage," and when they laid off work at
night always took a trip to see what had been done during the day, men,
women and children. It was a sort of sacred pilgrimage, wherein they saw
their own highest dreams coming true for the man they loved because he had
helped them to a future of possibilities. Not a man of them but wistfully
wondered if he would ever get to the place where he could build him a house
like that, and resolved secretly to try for it; and always the work went
better the next day for the visit to the shrine.
But after all, Michael would turn from his house with an empty ache in his
heart. What was it for? Not for him. It was not likely he would ever spend
happy hours there. He was not like other men. He must take his happiness in
making others happy.
But one day a new thought came to him, as he watched the laborers working
out the plan, and bringing it ever nearer and nearer to the perfect whole.
A great desire came to him to have Starr see it some day, to know what she
would think about it, and if she would like it. The thought occurred to him
that perhaps, some time, in the changing of the world, she might chance
near that way, and he have opportunity to show her the house that he had
built--for her! Not that he would ever tell her that last. She must never
know of course that she was the only one in all the world he could ever
care for. That would seem a great presumption in her eyes. He must keep
that to himself. But there would be no harm in showing her the house, and
he would make it now as beautiful as if she were to occupy it. He would
take his joy in making all things fair, with the hope that she might one
day see and approve it.
So, as the work drew near its completion he watched it more and more
carefully, matching tints in rooms, and always bringing down some new idea,
or finding some particular bit of furniture that would some day fit into
a certain niche. In that way he cheated the lonely ache in his heart, and
made believe he was happy.
And another winter drew its white mantle about its shoulders and prepared
to face the blast.
It bade fair to be a bitter winter for the poor, for everything was high,
and unskilled labor was poorly paid. Sickness and death were abroad, and
lurked in the milk supply, the food supply, the unsanitary tenements about
the alley; which, because it had not been so bad as some other districts
had been left uncondemned. Yet it was bad enough, and Michael's hands were
full to keep his people alive, and try to keep some of them from sinning.
For always where there is misery, there is the more sinning.
Old Sal sat on her doorstep shivering with her tattered shawl about her
shoulders, or when it grew too cold peered from her little muslin curtained
window behind the geranium, to see the dirty white hearse with its
pink-winged angel atop, pass slowly in and out with some little fragment
of humanity; and knew that one day her turn would come to leave it all and
go--! Then she turned back to her little room which had become the only
heaven she knew, and solaced herself with the contents of a black bottle!
During the years of his work in the alley Michael had become known more
and more among workers for the poor, and he found strength in their
brotherhood, though he kept mainly to his own little corner, and had little
time to go out into other fields. But he had formed some very pleasant
distant friendships among workers, and had met prominent men who were
interested in reforms of all sorts.
He was hurrying back to his boarding place one evening late in January with
his mind full of the old problem of how to reach the mass of humanity and
help them to live in decency so that they might stand some little chance of
being good as well as being alive.
At the crossing of another avenue he met a man whose eloquence as a public
speaker was only equalled by his indefatigable tirelessness as a worker
"Good evening, Endicott," he said cordially, halting in his rapid walk, "I
wonder if you're not the very man I want? Will you do me a favor? I'm in
great straits and no time to hunt up anybody."
"Anything I can do, Doctor, I am at your service," said Michael.
"Good! Thank you!" said the great man. "Are you free this evening for an
"I can be," said Michael smiling. The other man's hearty greeting and warm
"thank you" cheered his lonely heart.
"Well, then you'll take my place at Madison Square Garden to-night, won't
you? I've just had a telegram that my mother is very ill, perhaps dying,
and I feel that I must go at once. I'm on my way to the station now. I
thought Patton would be at his rooms perhaps and he might help me out, but
they tell me he is out of town on a lecture tour."
"Take your place?" said Michael aghast. "That I'm sure I could never do,
Doctor. What were you going to do?"
"Why, there's a mass meeting at Madison Square Garden. We're trying to get
more playgrounds and roof gardens for poor children, you know. I was to
speak about the tenement district, give people a general idea of what
the need is, you know. I'm sure you're well acquainted with the subject.
They're expecting some big men there who can be big givers if they're
touched in the right way. You're very good to help me out. You'll excuse
me if I hurry on, it's almost train time. I want to catch the six o'clock
"But, Doctor," said Michael in dismay, striding along by his side down the
street, "I really couldn't do that. I'm not a public speaker, you know--I
never addressed a big audience in my life! Isn't there some one else I
could get for you?"
It was odd that while he was saying it the vision of the church filled with
the fashionable world, waiting for a wedding which did not materialize,
came to his thoughts.
"Oh, that doesn't make the slightest difference in the world!" said the
worried man. "You know the subject from _a_ to _z_, and I don't know
another available soul to-night who does. Just tell them what you know, you
needn't talk long; it'll be all right anyway. Just smile your smile and
they'll give all right. Good night, and thank you from my heart! I must
take this cab," and he hailed a passing cab and sprang inside, calling out
above the city's din, "Eight o'clock the meeting is. Don't worry! You'll
come out all right. It'll be good practice for your business."
Michael stood still in the middle of the crowded pavement and looked after
the departing cab in dismay. If ever in all his life had he come to a spot
where he felt so utterly inadequate to fill a situation. Frantically he
tried as he started down the street again, to think of some one else to
ask. There seemed to be no one at all who was used to speaking that knew
the subject. The few who knew were either out of town or at a great
distance. He did not know how to reach them in time. Besides, there was
something about Michael that just would not let him shirk a situation no
matter how trying it was to him. It was one of the first principles he had
been taught with football, and before he reached his boarding place, his
chin was up, and his lips firmly set. Anyone who knew him well would have
felt sure Michael was going into a scrimmage and expected the fighting to
It was Will French who dug it out of him after dinner, and laughed and
slapped him gleefully on the shoulder. Will was engaged to Hester now and
he was outrageously happy.
"Good work, old fellow! You've got your chance, now give it to 'em! I don't
know anybody can do it better. I'd like to bring a millionaire or two to
hear you. You've been there, now tell 'em! Don't frown like that, old
fellow, I tell you you've got the chance of your life. Why don't you tell
'em about the tenement in the alley?"
Michael's face cleared.
"I hadn't thought of it, Will. Do you think I could? It isn't exactly on
the subject. I understood him I was to speak of the tenement in relation to
"The very thing," said Will. "Didn't he tell you to say what you knew?
Well, give it to 'em straight, and you'll see those rich old fellows open
their eyes. Some of 'em own some of those old rickety shacks, and probably
don't know what they own. Tell 'em. Perhaps the old man who owns our
tenement will be there! Who knows?"
"By the way," said Michael, his face all alight, "did I tell you that
Milborn told me the other day that they think they're on track of the real
owner of our tenement? The agent let out something the last time they
talked with him and they think they may discover who he is, though he's
hidden himself well behind agents for years. If we can find out who he is
we may be able to help him understand what great need there is for him to
make a few changes--"
"Yes, a few changes!" sneered Will. "Tear down the whole rotten death-trap
and build a new one with light and air and a chance for human beings to
live! Give it to 'em, old man! He may be there to-night."
"I believe I will," said Michael thoughtfully, the look of winning
beginning to dawn on his speaking face; and he went up to his room and
locked his door.
When he came out again, Will who was waiting to accompany him to the
meeting saw in his eyes the look of the dreamer, the man who sees into the
future and prophesies. He knew that Michael would not fail in his speech
that night. He gave a knowing look to Hester as she came out to go with
them and Hester understood. They walked behind him quietly for the most
part, or speaking in low tones. They felt the pride and the anxiety of the
moment as much as if they had been going to make the speech themselves. The
angel in the man had dominated them also.
Now it happened that Starr had come down with her father for a week's
shopping the last time he ran up to his sister's and on this particular
evening she had claimed her father's society.
"Can't you stay at home, Daddy dear?" she asked wistfully. "I don't want to
go to Aunt Frances' 'quiet little evening' one bit. I told her you needed
me to-night as we've only a day or two more left before I go back."
Aunt Frances was Starr's mother's sister, and as the servants of the two
families agreed mutually, "Just like her, only more so." Starr had never
been quite happy in her company.
"Come with me for a little while, daughter. I'm sorry I can't stay at home
all the evening, but I rather promised I'd drop into a charitable meeting
at Madison Square for a few minutes this evening. They're counting on my
name, I believe. We won't need to stay long, and if you're with, me it will
be easier to get away."
"Agreed!" said Starr eagerly, and got herself ready in a twinkling. And so
it came about that as the roll of martial music poured forth from the fine
instruments secured for the occasion, and the leaders and speakers of the
evening, together with the presidents of this Society, and that Army, or
Settlement, or Organization for the Belief and Benefit of the Poor, filed
on to the great platform, that Starr and her father occupied prominent
seats in the vast audience, and joined in the enthusiasm that spread like
a wave before the great American Flag that burst out in brilliant electric
lights of red and white and blue, a signal that the hour and the moment was
Michael came in with the others, as calmly as though he had spent his life
preparing for the public platform. There was fire in his eyes, the fire of
passion for the people of the slums who were his kin. He looked over the
audience with a throb of joy to think he had so mighty an opportunity. His
pulses were not stirred, because he had no consciousness of self in this
whole performance. His subject was to live before the people, he himself
was nothing at all. He had no fear but he could tell them, if that was all
they wanted. Burning sentences hot with the blood of souls had been pouring
through his mind ever since he had decided to talk of his people. He was
only in a hurry to begin lest they would not give him time to tell all he
knew! All he knew! Could it ever be told? It was endless as eternity.
With a strange stirring of her heart Starr recognized him. She felt the
color stealing into her face. She thought her father must notice it, and
cast a furtive glance at him, but he was deep in conversation about some
banking business, so she sat and watched Michael during the opening
exercises and wondered how he came to be there and what was his office
in this thing. Did lawyers get paid for doing something to help along
charitable institutions? She supposed so. He was probably given a seat on
the platform for his pains. Yet she could not help thinking how fine he
looked sitting there in the centre, the place of honor it would seem.
How came he there? He was taller than all the others, whether sitting or
standing, and his fine form and bearing made him exceedingly noticeable.
Starr could hear women about her whispering to their escorts: "Who is he?"
and her heart gave strange little throbs to think that she knew. It seemed
odd to her that she should be taken back by the sight of him now through
all the years to that morning in Florida when she had kissed him in the
chapel. Somehow there seemed something sweet and tender in the memory and
she dwelt upon it, while she watched him looking calmly over the audience,
rising and moving to let another pass him, bowing and smiling to a noted
judge who leaned over to grasp his hand. Did young lawyers like that get to
know noted judges? And wherever did he get his grace? There was rhythm and
beauty in his every motion. Starr had never had such a splendid opportunity
to look at him before, for in all that sea of faces she knew hers would be
lost to him, and she might watch him at her will.
"Daddy, did you know that Michael was up there?" she asked after a while
when her father's friend went back to his seat.
"Michael? No, where? On the platform? I wonder what in the world he is
doing there? He must be mixed up in this thing somehow, I understand he's
stuck at his mission work. I tried to stop him several years ago. Told him
it would ruin his prospects, but he was too stubborn to give up. So he's
And Mr. Endicott searched out Michael and studied the beautiful face
keenly, looking in vain for any marks of degradation or fast living. The
head was lifted with its conquering look; the eyes shone forth like jewels.
Michael was a man, a son--to be proud of, he told himself, and breathed a
heavy sigh. That was one time when his stubbornness had not conquered, and
he found himself glad in spite of himself that it had not.
The opening exercises were mere preliminary speeches and resolutions, mixed
with music, and interspersed by the introduction of the mayor of the
city and one or two other notables who said a few apathetic words of
commendation for the work in hand and retired on their laurels. "I
understand this Dr. Glidden who is to speak is quite an eloquent fellow,"
said Starr's father as the President got up to introduce the speaker of the
evening whom all had come to hear. "The man who was just talking with me
says he is really worth hearing. If he grows tiresome we will slip out. I
wonder which one he is? He must be that man with the iron-gray hair over
"Oh, I don't want to go out," said Starr. "I like it. I never was in a
great meeting like this. I like to hear them cheer."
Her cheeks were rosy, for in her heart she was finding out that she had a
great longing to stay there and watch Michael a little longer.
"I am sorry to have to tell you that our friend and advertised speaker
for the evening was called away by the sudden and serious illness of
his mother, and left for the West on the six o'clock express," said the
chairman in his inadequate little voice that seemed always straining beyond
its height and never accomplishing anything in the way of being heard.
A sigh of disappointment swept over the part of the audience near enough to
the platform to hear, and some men reached for their hats.
"Well, now that's a pity," whispered Endicott. "I guess we better go before
they slip in any dry old substitutes. I've been seen here, that's enough."
But Starr laid a detaining hand on her father's arm.
"Wait a little, Daddy," she said softly.
"But he has sent a substitute," went on the chairman, "a man whom he says
is a hundred per cent. better able to talk on the subject than himself. He
spoke to me from the station 'phone just before he left and told me that he
felt that you would all agree he had done well to go when you had heard the
man whom he has sent in his place. I have the pleasure to introduce to you
Mr. Michael Endicott who will speak to you this evening on the "Needs of
the Tenement Dwellers"--Mr. Endicott."
Amid the silence that ensued after the feebly-polite applause Michael rose.
For just an instant he stood, looking over the audience and a strange
subtle thrill ran over the vast assemblage.
Then Michael, insensibly measuring the spacious hall, flung his clear,
beautiful voice out into it, and reached the uttermost bounds of the room.
"Did you know that there are in this city now seventy-one thousand eight
hundred and seventy-seven totally dark rooms; some of them connected with
an air-shaft twenty-eight inches wide and seventy feet deep; many of them
absolutely without access to even a dark shaft; and that these rooms are
the only place in the whole wide, beautiful world for thousands of little
children, unless they stay in the street?"
The sentence shot through the audience like a great deliberate bolt of
lightning that crashed through the hearts of the hearers and tore away
every vestige of their complacency. The people sat up and took notice.
Starr thrilled and trembled, she knew not why.
"There is a tenement with rooms like this, a 'dumb-bell' tenement, it is
called, in the alley where, for aught I know, I was born--"
"Oh!" The sound swept over the listeners in a great wave like a sob of
protest. Men and women raised their opera glasses and looked at the speaker
again. They asked one another: "Who is he?" and settled quiet to hear what
more he had to say.
Then Michael went on to tell of three dark little rooms in "his" tenement
where a family of eight, accustomed to better things, had been forced
by circumstances to make their home; and where in the dark the germs
of tuberculosis had been silently growing, until the whole family were
infected. He spoke of a little ten-year-old girl, living in one of these
little dark rooms, pushed down on the street by a playmate, an accident
that would have been thought nothing of in a healthy child, but in this
little one it produced tubercular meningitis and after two days of agony
the child died. He told of a delicate girl, who with her brother were the
sole wage earners of the family, working all day, and sewing far into the
night to make clothes for the little brothers and sisters, who had fallen
prey to the white plague.
He told instance after instance of sickness and death all resulting from
the terrible conditions in this one tenement, until a delicate, refined
looking woman down in the audience who had dropped in with her husband for
a few minutes on the way to some other gathering, drew her soft mantle
about her shoulders with a shiver and whispered: "Really, Charles, it can't
be healthy to have such a terrible state of things in the city where we
live. I should think germs would get out and float around to us. Something
ought to be done to clean such low creatures out of a decent community. Do
let's go now. I don't feel as if I could listen to another word. I shan't
be able to enjoy the reception."
But the husband sat frowning and listening to the end of the speech,
vouchsafing to her whisper only the single growl:
"Don't be a fool, Selina!"
On and on Michael went, literally taking his audience with him, through
room after room of "his" tenement, showing them horrors they had never
dreamed; giving them now and again a glimmer of light when he told of a
curtained window with fifteen minutes of sun every morning, where a little
cripple sat to watch for her sunbeam, and push her pot of geraniums along
the sill that it might have the entire benefit of its brief shining. He put
the audience into peals of laughter over the wit of some poor creatures in
certain trying situations, showing that a sense of humor is not lacking in
"the other half"; and then set them weeping over a little baby's funeral.
He told them forcibly how hard the workers were trying to clean out and
improve this terrible state of things. How cruelly slow the owner of this
particular tenement was even to cut windows into dark air shafts; how so
far it had been impossible to discover the name of the true owner of the
building, because he had for years successfully hidden behind agents who
held the building in trust.
The speech closed in a mighty appeal to the people of New York to rise up
in a mass and wipe out this curse of the tenements, and build in their
places light, airy, clean, wholesome dwellings, where people might live and
work and learn the lessons of life aright, and where sin could find no dark
hole in which to hatch her loathsome offspring.
As Michael sat down amid a burst of applause such as is given to few
speakers, another man stepped to the front of the platform; and the cheers
of commendation were hushed somewhat, only to swell and break forth again;
for this man was one of the city's great minds, and always welcome on any
platform. He had been asked to make the final appeal for funds for the
playgrounds. It had been considered a great stroke of luck on the part of
the committee to secure him.
"My friends," said he when the hush came at last and he could be heard, "I
appreciate your feelings. I would like to spend the remainder of the night
in applauding the man who has just finished speaking."
The clamor showed signs of breaking forth again:
"This man has spoken well because he has spoken from his heart. And he has
told us that he knows whereof he speaks, for he has lived in those tenement
rooms himself, one of the little children like those for whom he pleads. I
am told that he has given almost every evening for four years out of a busy
life which is just opening into great promise, to help these people of his.
I am reminded as I have been listening to him of Lanier's wonderful poem,
'The Marshes of Glynn.' Do you recall it?
"'Ye spread and span like the catholic man who hath mightily won
God out of knowledge, and good out of infinite pain,
And sight out of blindness, and purity out of a stain.'
"Let us get to work at once and do our duty. I see you do not need urging.
My friends, if such a man as this, a prince among men, can come out of the
slums, then the slums are surely worth redeeming."
The audience thundered and clamored and thundered again; women sobbed
openly, while the ushers hurried about collecting the eager offerings of
the people, for Michael had won the day and everybody was ready to give.
It sort of helped to get the burden of such a state of things off their
Starr had sat through the whole speech with glowing cheeks and lashes wet.
Her heart throbbed with wonder and a kind of personal pride in Michael.
Somehow all the years that had passed between seemed to have dropped away
and she saw before her the boy who had told her of the Florida sunset, and
filled her with childish admiration over his beautiful thoughts. His story
appealed to her. The lives of the little ones about whom he had been
telling were like his poor neglected existence before her father took him
up; the little lonely life that had been freely offered to save her own.
She forgot now all that had passed between, her anger at his not coming to
ride; and after her return from abroad, not coming to call; nor accepting
her invitations; her rage at his interference in her affairs. Her
persistence in her own folly seemed now unspeakable. She was ashamed of
herself. The tears were streaming down her cheeks, but of this she was
When the speeches were over and the uproar of applause had somewhat
subsided, Starr turned to her father her face aglow, her lashes still
dewy with tears. Her father had been silent and absorbed. His face was
inscrutable now. He had a way of masking his emotions even to those who
knew him best.
"Daddy, dear," whispered Starr, "couldn't we buy that tenement and build it
over? I should so love to give those little children happy homes."
Endicott turned and looked at his treasured child, her lovely face all
eagerness now. She had infinite faith in her father's ability to purchase
anything she wanted. The father himself had been deeply stirred. He looked
at her searchingly at first; then yearningly, tenderly, but his voice was
almost gruff as he said:
"H'm! I'll see about it!"
"Couldn't you let Michael know now, daddy? I think it would be such a help
to him to know that his speech has done some good." The voice was very
sweet and appealing. "Couldn't you send him word by one of the ushers?"
"H'm! I suppose I could." Endicott took out his fountain pen and a business
card, and began to write.
"You don't suppose, daddy, that the owner will object to selling? There
won't be any trouble about it that way, will there?"
"No, I don't think there'll be any trouble."
Endicott slipped the card into an envelope he found in his pocket and
calling an usher asked him to take it to the platform to Michael. What he
had written was this:
"I suppose you have been talking about my property. Pull the tenement down
if you like and build a model one. I'll foot the bills. D.E."
When Michael, surprised at receiving a communication on the platform, tore
the envelope open and read, his face fairly blazed with glory. Starr was
watching him, and her heart gave a queer little throb of pleasure at
the light in his eyes. The next instant he was on his feet, and with a
whispered word to the chairman, came to the front of the platform. His
raised hand brought instant silence.
"I have good news. May I share it with you? The owner of that tenement is
in this house, and has sent me word that he will tear it down and build a
model one in its place!"
The ring in Michael's voice, and the light on his face was equivalent to a
dozen votes of thanks. The audience rose to its feet and cheered:
"Daddy! Oh, daddy! Are you the owner?" There was astonishment, reproof,
excuse, and forgiveness all mingled in Starr's voice.
"Come Starr," said her father abruptly, "we'd better go home. This is a hot
noisy place and I'm tired."
"Daddy dear! Of course you didn't know how things were!" said Starr
sweetly. "You didn't, did you, daddy?"
"No, I didn't know," said Endicott evasively, "that Michael has a great
gift of gab! Would you like to stop and have an ice somewhere, daughter?"
"No, daddy, I'd rather go home and plan how to make over that tenement. I
don't believe I'd enjoy an ice after what I've heard to-night. Why is it
some people have so much more than others to start with?"
"H'm! Deep question, child, better not trouble your brains with it," and
Starr saw that her father, though deeply moved, did not wish to discuss the
The next day Michael called at Endicott's office but did not find him
in, and wrote a letter out of the overwhelming joy of his heart, asking
permission to call and thank his benefactor and talk over plans. The
following day he received the curt reply:
"Son:--Make your plans to suit yourself. Don't spare expense within reason.
No thanks needed. I did it for Starr. You made a good speech."
Michael choked down his disappointment over this rebuff, and tried to take
all the joy of it. He was not forgiven yet. He might not enter the sacred
precincts of intercourse again; but he was beloved. He could not help
feeling that, because of that "Son" with which the communication began. And
the grudging praise his speech received was more to Michael than all the
adulation that people had been showering upon him since the night of the
mass meeting. But Starr! Starr knew about it. He did it for Starr! She had
wanted it! She had perhaps been there! She must have been there, or how
else would she have known? The thought thrilled him, and thrilled him
anew! Oh, if he might have seen her before him! But then perhaps he would
not have been able to tell his story, and so it was just as well. But
Starr was interested in his work, his plans! What a wonderful thing to
have her work with him even in this indirect way. Oh, if some day! If--!
But right here Michael shut down his thoughts and went to work.
Late in January Michael was taking his nightly walk homeward by way of the
Endicott home. He was convinced that Starr was still away from home, for he
had seen no lights now for several weeks in the room that he knew was her
own, but there was always the chance that she might have returned.
He was nearing the house when he saw from the opposite direction a man turn
the corner and with halting gait come slowly toward the house and pause
before the steps uncertainly. Something familiar in the man's attitude
caused Michael to hasten his steps, and coming closer he found that it was
Mr. Endicott himself, and that he stood looking up the steps of his home as
though they had been a difficult hill which he must climb.
Michael stopped beside him, saying good evening, the thrill of his voice
conveying his own joy in the meeting in addition to a common greeting.
"Is that you, Son?" asked the older man swaying slightly toward him. "I'm
glad you came. I feel strangely dizzy. I wish you'd help me in."
Michael's arm was about the other's shoulders at once and his ready
strength almost lifted his benefactor up the steps. His steady hand with
the key made short work of the night latch, and without waiting to call a
servant he helped Mr. Endicott up to his room and to his bed.
The man sank back wearily with a sigh and closed his eyes, then suddenly
"Thank you, Son; and will you send a message to Starr that I am not able to
come on to-night as I promised? Tell her I'll likely be all right to-morrow
and will try to come then. You'll find the address at the head of the
telephone list in the hall there. I guess you'll have to 'phone for the
doctor. I don't seem to feel like myself. There must be something the
matter. I think I've taken a heavy cold."
Michael hurried to the 'phone and called up the physician begging him to
come at once, for he could see that Mr. Endicott was very ill. His voice
trembled as he gave the message to the Western Union over the 'phone. It
seemed almost like talking to Starr, though he sent the telegram in her
The message sent, he hurried back to the sick man, who seemed to have
fallen in a sort of stupor. His face was flushed and hot, the veins in his
temples and neck were throbbing rapidly. In all his healthy life Michael
had seen little of illness, but he recognized it now and knew it must be
a violent attack. If only he knew something to do until the doctor should
Hot water used to be the universal remedy for all diseases at college. The
matron always had some one bring hot water when anyone was ill. Michael
went downstairs to find a servant, but they must all be asleep, for he had
been unusually late in leaving the alley that night.
However, he found that the bath-room would supply plenty of hot water, so
he set to work to undress his patient, wrap him in a blanket and soak his
feet in hot water. But the patient showed signs of faintness, and was
unable to sit up. A footbath under such conditions was difficult to
administer. The unaccustomed nurse got his patient into bed again with
arduous labor, and was just wondering what to do next when the doctor
Michael watched the grave face of the old doctor as he examined the sick
man, and knew that his intuitions had been right. Mr. Endicott was very
seriously ill. The doctor examined his patient with deliberation, his face
growing more and more serious. At last he stepped out of the room and
motioned Michael to follow him.
"Are you a relative, young man?" he asked looking at Michael keenly.
"No, only one who is very much indebted to him."
"Well, it's lucky for him if you feel that indebtedness now. Do you know
what is the matter with him?"
"No," said Michael. "He looks pretty sick to me. What is it?"
"Smallpox!" said the doctor laconically, "and a tough case at that." Then
he looked keenly at the fine specimen of manhood before him, noting with
alert eye that there had been no blanching of panic in the beautiful face,
no slightest movement as if to get out of the room. The young man was not a
"How long have you been with him?" he asked abruptly.
"Since I telephoned you," said Michael, "I happened to be passing the house
and saw him trying to get up the steps alone. He was dizzy, he said, and
seemed glad to have me come to his help."
"Have you ever been vaccinated?"
"No," said Michael indifferently.
"The wisest thing for you to do would be to get out of the room at once and
let me vaccinate you. I'll try to send a nurse to look after him as soon as
possible. Where are the family? Not at home? And the servants will probably
scatter as soon as they learn what's the matter. A pity he hadn't been
taken to the hospital, but it's hardly safe to move him now. The fact is he
is a very sick man, and there's only one chance in a hundred of saving him.
You've run some big risks, taking care of him this way--"
"Any bigger than you are running, doctor?" Michael smiled gravely.
"H'm! Well, it's my business, and I don't suppose it is yours. There are
people who are paid for those things. Come get out of this room or I won't
answer for the consequences."
"The consequences will have to answer for themselves, doctor. I'm going to
stay here till somebody better comes to nurse him."
Michael's eyes did not flinch as he said this.
"Suppose you take the disease?"
Michael smiled, one of his brilliant smiles that you could almost hear it
was so bright.
"Why, then I will," said Michael, "but I'll stay well long enough to take
care of him until the nurse comes anyway."
"You might die!"
"Of course." In a tone with not a ruffle in the calm purpose.