Part 7 out of 7
he reached for his clothes. Downstairs he found his father endeavoring
to calm the frightened servants, one of whom appeared to have hysterics.
Presently his mother entered with the smelling salts. Soon the maid's
unearthly laughter ceased.
"Anyone hurt?" Frank questioned anxiously.
"No," his father answered. "Thought the house was going over ... but
there's little damage done."
Suddenly Frank thought of Bertha. He must go to her. She would be
He ran into the debris-cluttered street. Cable cars stood here and
there, half twisted from the tracks, pavements were littered with bricks
from fallen chimneys, bits of window glass. Men and women in various
degrees of dishabille, were issuing from doorways. As he mounted higher,
Frank saw smoke spirals rising from the southeastern part of town. He
heard the strident clang of firegongs.
Automobiles were tearing to and fro, with a great shrieking of siren
It seemed like a nightmare through which he tore, without a sense of
time or movement, arriving finally at the marble vestibule of Bertha's
home. It was open and he rushed in, searching, calling. But he got no
answer. Bertha, servants, aunt--all apparently had fled.
Frank never knew just why he turned toward the town from Bertha's empty
dwelling. It was an involuntary reaction. The excitement of those lower
levels seemed to call, and thence he sped. Several times
acquaintances--newspaper men and others--accosted him. Everyone was
eagerly alert, feverishly interested, as if by some great adventure.
Japanese boys were sweeping up the litter in front of stores. In many
places things were being put in order, as if the trouble were over. But
at other points there was confusion and dread. Half-dressed men and
women wandered about, questing for a cup of coffee, but there was none
to be had, for the gas mains had broken.
People converged toward parks and open spaces. Union Square was crowded
with a strangely varied human mass; opera singers from the St. Francis
Hotel, jabbering excitedly in Italian or French, and making many
gestures with their jeweled hands; Chinese and Japanese from the
Oriental quarter hard by; women-of-the-town, bedraggled, sleepy-eyed and
fearful; sailors, clerks, folk from apartment houses.
Near the pansy bed a woman lay. She screamed piercingly at intervals.
Frank learned that she was in travail. By and by a doctor came, a nurse.
They were putting up tents on the green sward. Automobiles rolled up,
sounding their siren alarms. Out of them were carried bandaged men who
moaned, silent forms on litters, more screaming women. They were taken
to the tents. Extra police appeared to control the crowds that surged
hither and thither without seeming reason, swayed by sudden curiosities
San Francisco was burning. The water mains were broken by the quake,
Frank learned. The fire department was demoralized. Chief Sullivan was
dead. A falling chimney from the California Hotel had crushed him.
There were emergency reservoirs, but no one seemed to know where. They
had not been used for years.
Swiftly the fire gained. It ravaged like a fiend in the factory district
south and east, toward the bay.
By noon a huge smoke curtain hid the sky; through it the sun gleamed
palely like a blood-red disc. Wild rumors were in circulation. Los
Angeles was wiped out. St. Louis had been destroyed. New York and
Chicago were inundated by gigantic tidal waves.
Frank decided to return home and discover how his people fared. Perhaps
there would be a bite for him. He found his father's house surrounded by
a cordon of young soldiers--student militiamen from Berkeley, some one
said. They ordered him off.
"But--" he cried. "It's my HOME. My father and mother are there."
"They were ordered out two hours since," said a youthful officer, who
came up to settle the dispute. "We'll have to dynamite the place.... No
water.... Desperate measures necessary...."
He stopped Frank's effort to reply with further stereotyped
announcements. "Orders of the Admiral, Mayor, Chief of Police.... Sorry.
Can't be helped.... Keep back, everybody. Men have orders to shoot."
He made off tempestuously busy and excited.
Frank shouted after him, "Wait, where have my parents gone? Did they
leave any word?"
The young man turned, irritably. "Don't know," he answered, and resumed
his vehement activities. Frank, with a strange, empty feeling, retraced
his way, fought a path by means of sheer will and the virtue of his
police badge across Market street, and struck out toward Lafayette
Square. Scarcely realizing it, he was bound for Aleta's apartment.
A warped shaft had incapacitated the automatic elevator, so he climbed
three flights of stairs and found Aleta packing.
"Frank!" she cried, and ran to him. "This is good of you." She took both
of his hands and clung to them as if she were a little frightened.
"Wait," she said. "I'll bet you've had nothing to eat. I'll make you a
cup of coffee and a toasted cracker on the spirit lamp."
Silently he sat on a broken chair and watched her. He was immensely
grateful and--he suddenly realized--immensely weary. What a dear girl
Aleta was! And he had not thought of her till all else failed him.
Soon the coffee was steaming in two little Dresden cups, one minus a
handle. There was a plateful of crackers, buttered and toasted, a bit of
Swiss cheese. Frank had never tasted anything so marvelous.
"Where were you going?" he asked, finally.
"To the park ... the panhandle ... everybody's going there."
"Your--mother!" A swift recollection smote him. "Where is she?"
"Mother died last week," Aleta turned away. "I'm rather thankful--now."
Silently he helped her with the packing. There were a suitcase and a
satchel for the choice of her possessions. They required much picking
and choosing. Many cherished articles must be abandoned.
Suddenly Aleta ran to Frank. The room was rocking. Plaster fell about
them. The girl screamed. To his astonishment, Frank found his arms
around her waist. He was patting her dark, rumpled hair. Her hands were
on his shoulders, and her piquant, wistful face close to his own. She
had sought him like a frightened child. And he, with masculine
protective impulse, had responded. That was all. Or was it? They looked
into each other's eyes, bewildered, shaken. All was quiet now. The
temblor had passed instantly and without harm.
In the street they joined a motley aggregation moving westward in
horse-driven vehicles, automobiles, invalid chairs, baby buggies and
afoot. Rockers, filled with household goods, tied down and pulled by
ropes, were part of the procession. Everyone carried or dragged the
maximum load his or her strength allowed.
When they reached that long narrow strip of park called the Panhandle it
was close to dusk. They advanced some distance ere they found a vacant
space. The first two blocks were covered like a gypsy camp with wagons,
trunks and spread-out salvage of a hundred hastily abandoned homes.
Improvised tents had been fashioned from blankets or sheets. Before one
of these a bearded man was praying lustily for salvation. A neighbor
watched him, smiling, and drank deeply from a pocket flask. A stout
woman haled Aleta. "You and your husband got any blankets?" she asked.
"No," the girl said, reddening. "No, we haven't ... and he's not ..."
"Well, never mind," the woman answered. "Take these two. It may come
cold 'fore morning. And I've got more than I can use. We brung the
wagon." She drew the girl aside and nudged her in the ribs.
"We ain't married, either--Jim 'n' me. But what's the diff?"
About daylight the next morning Frank was awakened by a soft pattering
sound. He jumped to his feet. Was it raining? All about folk stirred,
held forth expectant hands to feel the drops. But they were fine white
flakes--ashes from the distant conflagration. Aleta still lay moveless,
wrapped in her blanket some ten feet away. They had been up most of the
night, watching the flames, had seen them creep across Market street, up
Powell, Mason, Taylor, Jones streets to Nob Hill. Finally Frank had
persuaded Aleta to seek a little rest. Despite her protest that sleep
was impossible, he had rolled her in one of the borrowed blankets,
wrapping himself, Indianwise, in the other. Toward morning slumber had
come to them both.
Aleta, now awake, smiled at Frank and declared herself refreshed. "What
had we better do next?" she questioned.
Frank pondered. "Go to the Presidio, I guess. The army's serving food
out there, I hear." He returned the blankets to their owner and the two
of them set forth. On Oak street, near the mouth of Golden Gate Park, a
broken street main spouted geyser-like out of the asphalt. They snatched
a hurried drink, laved their faces and hands and went on, passing a
cracker wagon, filled with big tin containers, and surrounded by a
hungry crowd. The driver was passing out crackers with both hands,
casting aside the tins when they were empty.
"It's like the Millennium," Aleta remarked. "All classes of people
herded together in common good will. Do you see that well-fed looking
fellow carrying the ragged baby? He's a corporation lawyer. He makes
$50,000 a year I'm told. And the fat woman he's helping with her
numerous brood is a charwoman at the Alcazar theatre."
Frank looked and laughed. "Why--it's my Uncle Robert!" he exclaimed.
Robert Windham held out his free hand to Frank and Aleta. His family was
safe, he told them. So were Francisco and Jeanne, who had joined the
Windhams when the Stanley home was dynamited. They had gone to Berkeley
and would stay with friends of Maizie's.
Frank wrote down the address. He decided to remain in San Francisco.
There was Aleta.... And, somehow, Bertha must be located.
Everyone was bound for the Presidio.
"You may find me there later," said Windham. "I've some--er--business on
* * * * *
At the great military post which slopes back on the green headlands from
the Golden Gate, Frank and Aleta found a varied company. The hospitals
were filled with men and women burned in the fire or hurt by falling
walls. There were scores--perhaps a hundred of them. Frank, with his
heart in his mouth, made a survey of the hospitals, after finding tent
room for Aleta. His press badge gained admittance for him everywhere and
he went through a pretence of taking notes. But he was looking for
Bertha. At a large tent they were establishing an identification bureau,
a rendezvous for separated families, friends or relatives. Many people
crowded this with frantic inquiries.
Soup was being served at the mess kitchens. Great wagons filled with
loaves of bread drove in and were apportioned. Men, women and children
formed in line to get their shares.
The sky was still covered with smoke. Late comers reported that the fire
had crossed Van Ness avenue. There were orders posted all about that one
must not build fires indoors nor burn lights at night. Those who
disobeyed would be shot. The orders were signed by Mayor Schmitz.
Saloons had been closed for an indefinite period. Two men, found looting
the dead, had been summarily executed by military order. Hundreds of
buildings were being dynamited. The dull roar of these frequent
explosions was plainly discernible at the Presidio.
* * * * *
After they had eaten Frank said good-bye to Aleta. He was going back to
town. The feverish adventure of it called him. And he had learned that
there were many other camps of refugees. In one of these he might find
Bertha. A milk wagon, clattering over the cobblestones overtook him and,
without an invitation, he climbed aboard. Frank had little sense of
destination or purpose. He wanted action. The thought of Bertha tugged
at him now like a pain, insistent, quenchless. He tried to stifle it by
movement, by absorbing interest in the wondrous drama all about him.
Suddenly he sprang from the wagon. They had reached the park where he
had learned of Bertha's love. Frank scarcely recognized the tiny
pleasure ground, so covered was it with tents and bedding. It swarmed
with people--a fact which Frank resented oddly. In the back of his mind
was a feeling that this spot was sacred.
He made his way among the litter of fabrics and humanity. These were
mostly people from the valley where a foreign section lay. Loudly and
excitedly they chattered in strange tongues, waving their hands about.
Children wailed. All was disorder, uncontrol.
Sickened of the place Frank turned to go, but something tugged at his
coatsleeve; a haggard, elderly dishevelled man.
Frank looked at the fellow in wonder. Then he gave a cry and took
the fellow by the shoulders. He had recognized, despite disguising
superficialities of garb and manner, Bertha's once spick-and-span
"God Almighty, Jarvis!" Frank could scarcely speak, his heart was
pounding so. "Wh--where is she--Bertha?"
"Come with me, sir," said the old man sadly. He led the way past
sheet-hung bushes, over crumb-and-paper sprinkled lawns to a little
retreat under sheltering trees. One had to stoop to enter that arbored,
leaf encircled nest through which the sun fell like a dappled pattern on
the grass. Frank adjusted his eyes to the dimmer light before he took in
the picture: a girl lying, very pale and still, upon a gorgeous Indian
blanket. She looked at him, cried out and stretched her arms
"Bertha!" He knelt down beside her, pressed his lips to hers. Her arms
about his neck were cold but strangely vibrant. For a moment they
remained thus. Then he questioned, anxiously, "Bertha? What is wrong?"
"Everything! The world!" she whispered. "When you left me dearest, I was
happy! I had never dreamed that one could be so glad! But afterward ...
I didn't dare to face the morning--and the truth!" Her lips quivered.
"I--I couldn't stand it, Frank," she finished weakly.
"She took morphia," said Jarvis. "When the earthquake came I couldn't
wake her. I was scared. I carried her out here."
"You tried to kill yourself!" Frank's tone was shocked, condemning.
"After Tuesday night?"
Her eyes craved pardon. She essayed to speak but her lips made wordless
sounds. Finally she roused a little, caught his hand and held it to
"Ask your Uncle Robert, dear?" she whispered. Her eyes looked into his
with longing, with renunciation. A certain peace stole into them and
slowly the eyelids closed.
Frank, who had half grasped the meaning of her words, leaned forward
fearfully. The hand which held his seemed colder, more listless. There
was something different. Something that he could not name--that
Suddenly he realized its meaning. The heart which had pulsed beneath his
fingers was still.
Of the trip to Berkeley which followed, Frank could not afterward recall
the slightest detail. Between the time when, like a madman, he had tried
to rouse his sweetheart from that final lethargy which knew no waking,
and the moment when he burst upon his Uncle Robert with what must have
seemed an insane question, Frank lost count of time.
He was in the library of an Alameda county lawyer, host of the Stanley
and the Windham families. Across the mahogany table, grasping the back
of a chair for support, one hand half outstretched in a supplicating
gesture, stood his Uncle Robert--pale, shaken ghost of the
self-possessed man that he usually was. Between them, imminent with
subtle violence, was the echo of Frank's question, hurled, like an
explosive missile at the elder man:
"Why did Bertha Larned kill herself?"
After an interval of silence Windham pulled himself together; looked
about him hastily ere he spoke. "Hush! Not here! Not now!" The eyes
which sought Frank's were brilliant with suffering. "Is she--dead?"
The young man nodded dumbly. Something like a sob escaped the elder. He
was first to speak. "Come. We must get out of here. We must have a
talk." He opened the door and went out, Frank following. In the street,
which sloped sharply downward from a major elevation, they could see the
bay of San Francisco, the rising smoke cloud on the farther shore. They
walked together upward, away from the houses, toward a grove of
eucalyptus trees. Here Robert halted and sat down. He seemed utterly
weary. Frank stood looking down across the valley.
"Bertha Larned was my daughter," said his uncle almost fiercely.
Frank did not turn nor start as Windham had expected. One might have
thought he did not hear. At length, however, he said slowly, "I
suspected that--a little. But I want to know."
"I--can't tell you more," said the other brokenly.
"Who--who was her mother, Uncle Bob?"
"If you love her, Frank, don't ask that question."
The young man snapped a dry twig from a tree and broke it with a sort of
silent concentration into half a dozen bits. "Then--it's true ... the
tale heard round town! That you and--"
"Yes, yes," Windham interrupted, "Frank, it's true."
"Frank! For God's sake!" Windham's fingers gripped his nephew's arm.
"Don't let Maizie know. I've tried to live it down these twenty
"Damn it, do you think I'd tell Aunt Maizie?"
"It's--I can't believe it yet! That you--"
"Maizie wouldn't leave her mother." With a flicker of defiance Robert
answered him. "I was young, rudderless, after my people went East.... A
little wild, I guess."
"So you sought consolation?"
"Call it what you like," the other answered. "Some things are too strong
for men. They overwhelm one--like Fate."
Frank began pacing back and forth, his fingers opening and shutting
"Uncle Bob," he said at length, "... after you married, what became--"
"Her mother sent the child East--to a sister. She was well
raised--educated. If she'd only stayed there, in that Massachusetts
"Then--Bertha didn't know?"
"Not till she came to San Francisco, after her mother's death. She had
to come to settle the estate. The mother left her everything--a string
of tenements. She was rich."
"Bertha came to you, then, I suppose."
"Yes, she came to me," said Robert Windham.
Suddenly, as though the memory overwhelmed him, Windham's face sank
forward in his hands.
"She was very sweet," his voice broke pitifully. "I--loved her."
* * * * *
Several days later Frank and his father paid a visit to the ruined city.
One had to get passes in Oakland and wear them on one's hat. Sightseers
were not admitted nor carried on ferry boats, trains.
Already Telegraph Hill was dotted with new habitations. It was rumored
that Andrea Sbarbora, banker and patron of the Italian Colony, was
bringing a carload of lumber from Seattle which he would sell to fire
sufferers on credit and at cost. The spirit of rehabilitation
Frank was immensely cheered by it. But Francisco was overwhelmed by the
desolation. "I am going South," he told his son. "I can't bear to see
this. I don't even know where I am."
It was true. One felt lost in those acres of ashes and debris. Familiar
places seemed beyond memorial reconstruction, so smitten was the mind by
this horror of leveled buildings, gutted walls and blackened streets.
Francisco and Jeanne went to San Diego. There the former tried to
refashion the work of many months--two hundred pages of a novel which
the flames destroyed. Robert Windham and his family journeyed to Hawaii.
Frank did not see his uncle after that talk in the Berkeley Hills.
Parks and public spaces were covered with little green cottages in
orderly rows. Refugee camps one termed then and therein lived 20,000 of
the city's homeless.
Street cars were running. Passengers were carried free until the first
of May. Patrick Calhoun was trying to convert the cable roads into
electric lines in spite of the objection of the improvement clubs. He
was negotiating with the Supervisors for a blanket franchise to
electrize all of his routes.
"And he'll get it, too," Aleta told Frank as they dined together. "It's
arranged, I understand, for quarter of a million dollars."
Frank pondered. "What'll Langdon say to that?"
William H. Langdon was the district attorney, a former superintendent of
schools, whom Ruef had put on his Union Labor ticket to give it tone.
But Langdon had refused to "take program." He had even raided the
"protected" gamblers, ignoring Ruef's hot insinuations of "ingratitude."
"Oh, Ruef's too smart for Langdon," said Aleta. "Every Sunday night he,
Schmitz and Big Jim Gallagher hold a caucus. Gallagher is Ruef's
representative on the Board. They figure out what will occur at Monday's
session of the Supervisors. It's all cut and dried."
"It can't last long," Frank mused. "They're getting too much money.
Those fellows who used to earn from $75 to $100 a month are spending
five times that amount. Schmitz is building a palace. He rides around in
his automobile with a liveried chauffeur. He's going to Europe
The girl glanced up at him half furtively. "Perhaps I'll go to Europe,
"What?" Frank eyed her startled. "Not with--"
"Yes, my friend, the Supervisor." Her tone was defiant. "Why shouldn't
"But, why not?"
He was silent. But his eyes were on her, pleadingly.
"Would you care, Frank? Would you care--at all?"
"You know I would," he spoke half angrily. The girl traced patterns with
her fork upon the table cloth.
[Illustration: "I am going South," Francisco told his son. "I cannot
On May 21, the United Railway Company received a franchise to electrize
any of its street-car routes, "where grades permitted."
At once ensued a public uproar. From the press, the pulpit and the
rostrum issued fiery accusations that the city was betrayed. In the
midst of it Mayor Schmitz departed for Europe.
Frank met Ruef at the Ferry, where the former had gone to see Aleta off
on a road tour with her company. The little boss was twisting his
moustache and muttering to himself.
"So His Honor's off on a lark," said the newsman, meaningly.
Ruef glared at him, but made no answer.
Afterward Frank heard that they had quarreled. Ruef, he learned, had
charged the mayor with ingratitude; had threatened, pleaded,
Schmitz had gone; his was the dogged determination which easily-led men
sometimes manifest at unexpected moments. One heard of him through the
press dispatches, staying at the best hotels of European capitals,
making speeches when he had a chance. He was like a boy on a holiday.
But at home Ruef sensed the stirring of an outraged mass and trembled.
He could no longer control his minions. And, worst of all, he could not
manage Langdon. "Big Jim" Gallagher, now the acting mayor, was docile to
a fault, however. He would have put his hand into the fire for this
clever little man, whom he admired so immensely. Once they discussed the
ousting of Langdon.
"It would be quite legal," Ruef contended. "The Mayor and Board have
power to remove a district attorney and select his successor."
Henry Ach, advisor of the boss, looked dubious. "I'm not sure of that.
Moreover, it's bad politics. It would be better seemingly to cooperate
with Langdon. He has the public confidence. We've not.... Besides, whom
would we put in Langdon's place?"
"Ruef," said "Big Jim," with his ready admiration. "He's the man."
"Hm!" the little boss exclaimed, reflectively. "Well we shall see."
* * * * *
Frank liked Langdon. He was rather a slow-thinking man; not so clever at
expedient as Ruef. But he was grounded in the Law--and honest. Moreover,
he had courage. Powerful enemies and their machinations only stirred
Single-handed Langdon might have been outwitted by the power and
astuteness of his foes. But another mind, a keener one was soon to add
its force to Langdon's. Francis J. Heney, special investigator of the
Roosevelt government, who had unmasked and overthrown corruption in high
places, was in town.
Frank knew that he had come to San Francisco for a purpose. He met this
nervous, wiry, sharp-eyed man in the managing editor's office now and
again. Once he had entered rather unexpectedly upon a conference of
Heney, former Mayor James D. Phelan, Rudolph Spreckels, son of the sugar
nabob, and William J. Burns. Frank, who guessed he was intruding, made a
noiseless exit; not, however, till he heard that there would be a
thorough, secret search into the trolley franchise and some other
actions of the Ruef administration. Spreckels and Phelan guaranteed to
raise $100,000 for this purpose. Burns and his detectives had for
several months been quietly at work.
On October 24 District Attorney Langdon publicly announced the
appointment of Francis J. Heney as his assistant, stating that a
thorough and fearless search into the actions of the city government
On October 25 the Supervisors met. Frank, himself, went to the council
chamber to learn what was afoot. He suspected a sensation. But the Board
met quietly enough at 2:30 o'clock, with Jim Gallagher in the chair. At
2:45 a special messenger called the acting Mayor to Ruef's office. Three
hours later he was still absent from the angry and impatient Board.
That some desperate move was imminent Frank realized. Here was Ruef
between two bodeful dates. Yesterday had come the news that Langdon had
appointed Heney--the relentless enemy of boodlers--to a place of power.
Tomorrow would begin the impaneling of a Grand Jury, whose avowed
purpose it was to "investigate municipal graft."
"What would I do if I were Ruef?" Frank asked himself. But no answer
came. He paced up and down the corridor, pondering the situation. At
intervals he paused before the Supervisors' chamber. Once he found the
door slightly ajar and listened shamelessly. He saw Big Jim Gallagher,
red-faced, excited, apparently much flustered, reading a paper. He
thought he heard Langdon's name and Heney's. There seemed to be
dissension in the board. But before he learned anything definite a
watchful attendant closed the portal with an angry slam. Frank resumed
Finally he went out for a bite to eat.
Frank returned half an hour later to find the reporters' room in an
uproar. Big Jim Gallagher had dismissed Langdon from office with the
corroboration of the Board of Supervisors, as a provision of the city
ordinance permitted him to do. Ruef had been appointed district
Langdon's forces were not disconcerted by the little boss's coup. Late
that evening Frank advised his paper of a counterstroke. Heney had
aroused Judge Seawell from his slumbers and obtained an order of the
court enjoining Ruef from actual assumption of the title he had
arrogated to himself.
Judge Graham upheld it. Langdon remained the district attorney. Though
Ruef imposed every possible obstacle, the Grand Jury was impaneled,
November 7, and began its work of investigation with such startling
celerity that Ruef and Schmitz faced charges of extortion on five
counts, a week later.
IN THE TOILS
Meanwhile Schmitz, who had but recently returned from Europe, became
officially involved in the anti-Japanese agitation.
"He's summoned East to see the President," said a Burns operative to
Frank one morning as they met at Temple Israel. "Lucky devil, that big
fellow! Here's the town at sixes and sevens about the 'little brown
brother.' Doesn't want him with its white kids in the public schools.
The Mikado stirs the devil of a row with Washington about it. And Teddy
sends for 'Gene. Just his luck to come back a conquering hero."
But Schmitz fared badly at the Capital, whence Roosevelt dispatched a
"big stick" message to the California Legislature. At the same time
George B. Keane, the Supervisors' clerk, and a State Senator as well,
was working for the "Change of Venus bill," a measure which if passed,
would have permitted Ruef to take his case out of the jurisdiction of
Judge Dunne. But the bill was defeated. Once more Ruef's straining at
the net of Justice had achieved no parting of the strands.
On March 6 Stanley greeted Mayor Schmitz as he stepped from a train at
Oakland Mole. Correspondents and reporters gathered round the tall,
bearded figure. Schmitz looked tired, discouraged.
Perfunctorily, uneasily, Schmitz answered the reporter's queries. He had
done his level best for San Francisco. As for the charges pending
against him, they would soon be disproved. No one had anything on him.
All his acts were open to investigation.
"Do you know that Ruef has skipped?" Frank asked.
"Wh-a-a-t!" the Mayor set down his grip. He seemed struck all of a heap
by the announcement.
"Fact!" another newsman corroborated. "Abie's jumped his bond. He's the
well-known 'fugitive from justice.'"
Without a word the Mayor left them. He walked aboard the ferry boat
alone. They saw him pacing back and forth across the forward deck, his
long overcoat flapping in the wind, one hand holding the dark, soft hat
down on his really magnificent head.
"A ship without a rudder," said Frank. The others nodded.
* * * * *
Over the municipal administration was the shadow of Ruef's flight. The
shepherd had deserted his flock. And the wolves of the law were howling.
Frank was grateful to the Powers for this rushing pageant of political
events. It gave him little chance to grieve. Now and then the tragedy of
Bertha gripped him by the throat and shook him with its devastating
loneliness. He found a certain solace in Aleta's company. She was always
ready, glad to walk or dine with him. She knew his silences; she
But there were intervals of grief beyond all palliation; days when he
worked blindly through a grist of tasks that seemed unreal. And at night
he sought his room, to sit in darkness, suffering dumbly through the
hours. Sometimes Dawn would find him thus.
Robert Windham and his family had returned from the Hawaiian Islands.
They had found a house in Berkeley; Windham opened offices on Fillmore
street. Robert and his nephew visited occasionally a graveyard in the
western part of town. The older man brought flowers and his tears fell
frankly on a mound that was more recent than its neighbors. But Stanley
did not join in these devotions.
"She is not here," he said one day. "You know that, Uncle Robert."
"She's up above," returned the other, brokenly. "My poor, wronged
Frank stared at him a moment. "Do you believe in the conventional
"Why--er--yes," said Windham, startled. "Don't you, Frank?"
"No," said Stanley, doggedly. "Not in that ... nor in a God that lets
men suffer and be tempted into wrongs they can't resist ... makes them
suffer for it."
"What do you mean? Are you an atheist?" asked Windham, horrified.
"No ... but I believe that God is Good. And knows no evil. Sometimes in
the night when I've sat thinking, Bertha seems to come to me; tells me
things I can't quite understand. Wonderful things, Uncle Robert."
The other regarded him silently, curiously. He seemed at a loss.
"I've learned to judge men with less harshness," Frank spoke on. "Ruef
and Schmitz, for instance.... Every now and then I see the Mayor pacing
on the ferryboat. It's rather pathetic, Uncle Robert. Did God raise him
up from obscurity just to torture him? He's had wealth and
honor--adoration from the people. Now he's facing prison. And those poor
devils of Supervisors; they've known luxury, power. Now they're huddled
like a pack of frightened sheep; everybody thinks they're guilty. Ruef's
forsaken them. Ruef, with his big dream shattered, fleeing from
He faced his uncle fiercely, questioning. "Is that God's work? And
Bertha's body lying there, because of the sins of her forebears! Forgive
me, Uncle Robert. I'm just thinking aloud."
Windham placed a hand upon his nephew's shoulder. "I'm afraid I can't
answer you, Frank," he said slowly. "You're a young man. You'll forget.
The world goes on. And our griefs do not matter. We fall and we get up
again ... just as Ruef and the others will."
"Do you suppose they'll catch him--Ruef, I mean?"
"Not if the big fellows can prevent it. If he's caught there'll be the
deuce to pay. Our Pillars of Finance will topple.... No, I think Ruef
"I don't quite understand," said Stanley.
"Ruef, himself, is nothing; a political boss, a solicitor of bribes. But
our corporation heads. The town will shake when they're accused, perhaps
indicted. I know what's been going on. We're close to scandals that'll
echo round the world."
Frank looked at his uncle wonderingly. Windham was a corporation lawyer.
Doubtless he knew. Silently the two men made their way out of the
graveyard. Frank determined to ride down town with his uncle, and then
telephone to Aleta. He hadn't seen her for a week.
As the car passed the Call building they noted a crowd at Third and
Market streets, reading a bulletin. People seemed excited. Frank jumped
from the moving car and elbowed his way forward. In the newspaper window
was a sheet of yellow paper inscribed in large script: "BURNS ARRESTS
RUEF AT THE TROCADERO ROADHOUSE."
THE NET CLOSES
Frank discussed the situation with Aleta one evening after Ruef's
capture. Her friend, the Supervisor, had brought news of the alarm.
"He says no one of them will trust the other; they're afraid of
Gallagher; think he'll turn State's evidence, or whatever you call it.
'Squeal,' was what he said."
"Burns and Heney must be putting on the screws," commented Frank.
"Frank," Aleta laid a hand impulsively upon his arm, "I don't suppose
there's any way to save this man ... I--oh, Frank, it would be awful if
he went to prison."
He stared at her. "What do you mean, Aleta?"
"I mean," she answered, "that he's done things for me ... because he
loves me ... hopes to win me. He's sincere in that.... Oh, can't you see
how it would hurt if--"
"If he gets caught--stealing," Frank spoke harshly. "Well, you should
have thought of that before, my dear."
A touch of anger tinctured the appeal with which her eyes met his. "One
doesn't always reason when the heart is sore. When one is bitter
He did not answer. He was rather startled by that look. Finally she
said, more gently: "Frank, you'll help him if you can--I know."
It was late. Aleta had to hurry to the theatre. Frank left her there and
walked down Sutter street.
He turned south toward Heney's office. It was in a little house between
Geary and O'Farrell, up a short flight of stairs. Above were the living
quarters of Heney and his companion, half clerk, half bodyguard.
There was a light in the office, but the shades of the bay-window were
tightly drawn. Frank rang the bell, which was not immediately answered.
Finally the bodyguard came to the door. "Mr. Heney's very busy, very
busy." He seemed tremendously excited.
"Very well," said Frank; "I'll come tomorrow."
"We'll have big news for you," the man announced. He shut the door
hastily and double-locked it.
Frank decided to remain in the neighborhood. He might learn something.
The morning papers had been getting the best of it recently in the
way of news.
It proved a tiresome vigil. And the night was chilly. Frank began to
walk briskly up and down the block. A dozen times he did this without
result. Then the sudden rumble of a motor car spun him about. He saw two
men hasten down the steps of Heney's office, almost leap into the car.
Instantly it drove off. Frank, who followed to the corner, saw it
traveling at high speed toward Fillmore street. He looked about for a
motor cab in which to follow. There was none in sight. Reluctantly he
turned toward home. He had been outwitted, doubtless by a watcher. But
not completely. For he was morally certain that one of the men who left
Heney's office was Big Jim Gallagher. That visit was significant. From
his hotel Frank tried to locate the editor of his paper by telephone. He
was not successful. He went to bed, disgusted, after leaving a
It was still dark when he dressed the next morning, the previous
evening's events fresh in his thought.
He had scarcely reached the street before a newsboy thrust a morning
paper toward him. Frank saw that the upper half of the front page was
covered with large black headlines. He snatched it, tossing the boy a
"two-bit piece," and, without waiting or thinking of the change, became
absorbed in the startling information it conveyed.
Sixteen out of the eighteen Supervisors had confessed to taking bribes
from half a dozen corporations. Wholesale indictments would follow, it
was stated, involving the heads of public service companies--men of
unlimited means, national influence. Many names were more than
Ruef, according to these confessions, had been the arch-plotter. He had
received the funds that corrupted an entire city government. Gallagher
had been the go-between, receiving a part of the "graft funds" to be
divided among his fellow Supervisors.
Each of the crooked sixteen had been guaranteed immunity from
imprisonment in consideration of their testimony.
"Well, that saves Aleta's friend, at any rate," thought Frank. He
recalled his uncle's prediction that Ruef's capture would result in
extraordinary revelations. But it had not been Ruef, after all, who
"spilled the beans." Ruef might confess later. They would need his
testimony to make the case complete.
As a matter of fact, Ruef had already begun negotiations with Langdon
and Heney looking toward a confession.
* * * * *
The Grand Jury acted immediately upon the wholesale confessions of
Ruef's Supervisors. They summoned before them the heads of many
corporations, uncovering bribery so vast and open that they were
astounded. They found that $200,000 had been paid for the trolley
franchise and enormous sums for permits to raise gas rates, for
telephone franchises, for prize-fight privileges and in connection with
a realty transaction.
The trolley bribe funds had been carried in a shirt box to Ruef by the
company's attorney. Other transactions had been more or less "covered."
But all were plain enough for instant recognition. San Francisco, which
had suspected Ruef and his Supervisors with the easy tolerance of a
people calloused to betrayal, was aroused by the insolent audacity of
these transactions. It demanded blood.
And Heney was prepared to furnish sanguine vengeance. He was after the
"higher-ups," he stated. Like a passionate evangel of Mosaic law, he set
out to secure it. Louis Glass, acting president of the telephone
company, was indicted on a charge of felony, which made a great
hallabaloo, for he was a personable man, a clubman, popular and
A subtle change--the primary index of that opposition which was to
develop into a stupendous force--was noted by the prosecution. Heney and
Langdon had been welcomed hitherto in San Francisco's fashionable clubs.
Men of wealth and standing had been wont to greet them as they lunched
there, commending their course, assuring them of cooperation.
But after the telephone indictment there came a cooling of the
atmosphere. Glass seemed more popular than ever. Langdon and Heney were
often ignored. People failed to recognize them on the street. Even
Spreckels and Phelan, despite their wealth and long established
standing, suffered certain social ostracisms.
Wealthy evildoers found themselves as definitely threatened by the law
as were the Supervisors. But wealth is made of sterner stuff. It did not
cringe nor huddle; could not seek immunity through the confessional.
Famous lawyers found themselves in high demand. From New York, where he
had fought a winning fight for Harry Thaw, came Delphin Delmas. T.C.
Coogan, another famous pleader, entered the lists against Heney in
defense of Glass.
Meanwhile the drawing of jurors for Ruef's trial progressed, inexorably.
THE SEVEN PLAGUES
Several weeks passed. Politics were in a hectic state, and people
grumbled. Frank discussed the situation with his Uncle Robert. "Why
don't they oust these grafters from office?" he asked.
Windham smiled. "Because they daren't, Frank," he answered. "If the
prosecution forced the Supervisors to resign, which would be easy
enough, do you know what would happen?"
"Why, they'd fill their posts with better men, of course."
"Not so fast, my boy. The Mayor has the power to fill all vacancies due
to resignations. Don't you see what would happen? Schmitz could select
another board over whom the prosecution would hold no power. Then, if
necessary, he'd resign and his new board would fill the Mayor's chair
with some one whom Ruef or the Mayor could trust. Then the city
government would once more be independent of the law."
"Lord! What a tangle," Frank ruminated. "How will they straighten it
"Remove the Mayor--if they can convict him of felony."
"Suppose they do. What then?"
"The prosecution forces can then use their power over the
boodlers--force them to appoint a Mayor who's to Langdon's liking.
Afterward they'll force the Supervisors to resign and the new Mayor will
put decent people in their stead."
"Justice!" apostrophized Frank, "thy name is Red Tape!"
Heney alone was to enter the lists against Delmas and Coogan in the
trial of Louis Glass. The charge was bribing Supervisor Boxton to vote
against the Home telephone franchise.
Frank had seen Glass at the Press Club, apparently a sound and honest
citizen. A little doubt crept into Frank's mind. If men like that could
stoop to the bribing of Supervisors, what was American civilization
He looked in at the Ruef trial to see if anything had happened. For the
past two months there had been nothing but technical squabbles,
interminable hitches and delays.
Ruef was conferring with his attorneys. All at once he stepped forward,
holding a paper in his hand. Tears were streaming down his face. He
began to read in sobbing, broken accents.
The crowd was so thick that Frank could not get close enough to hear
Ruef's words. It seemed a confession or condonation. Scattered fragments
reached Frank's ears. Then the judge's question, clearly heard, "What is
"Guilty!" Ruef returned.
* * * * *
Ruef's confession served to widen the breach between Class and Mass. He
implicated many corporation heads and social leaders in a sorry tangle
of wrongdoing. Other situations added fuel to the flame of economic war.
The strike of the telephone girls had popular support, a sympathy much
strengthened by the charges of bribery pending against telephone
[Illustration: All at once he stepped forward.... Tears were streaming
down his face. Then the judge's question, clearly heard, "What is your
plea?" "Guilty!" Ruef returned.]
Ten thousand ironworkers were on strike at a time when their service was
imperative, for San Francisco was rebuilding feverishly. Capital made
telling use of this to bolster its impaired position in the public mind.
While "pot called kettle black," the city suffered. The visitation of
some strange disease, which certain physicians hastened to classify
as bubonic plague, very nearly brought the untold evils of a quarantine.
A famous sanitarian from the East decided it was due to rats. He came
and slew his hundred-thousands of the rodents. Meanwhile the malady had
ceased. But there were other troubles.
Fire had destroyed the deeds and titles stored in the Recorder's office,
as well as other records. Great confusion came with property transfer
and business contracts. But, worst of all, perhaps, was the street
"It seems as though the Seven Plagues of Egypt were being repeated,"
remarked Frank to his uncle as they lunched together. They had come to
be rather good companions, with the memory of Bertha between them. For
Frank, within the past twelve months, had passed through much
Robert Windham, too, was a changed man. He cared less for money. Frank
knew that he had declined big fees to defend some of the "higher ups"
against impending charges of the graft prosecution. Windham smiled as he
answered Frank's comment about the Seven Plagues.
"We'll come out of it with flying colors, my boy. A city is a great
composite heart that keeps beating, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but
the healthy blood rules in the main; it conquers all passing
* * * * *
Market street was queer and unnatural without its rushing trolley cars.
All sorts of horse-drawn vehicles rattled up and down, carrying
passengers to and from the ferry. Many of the strikers were acting as
Jehus of improvised stages. Autotrucks, too, were impressed into
service. They rumbled along, criss-crossed with "circus seats,"
Frank made his way northward and east through the ruins. Here and there
little shops had opened; eating houses for the army of rehabilitation.
They seemed to Frank symbols of renewed life in the blackened waste,
like tender, green shoots in a flame-ravaged forest. Sightseers were
beginning to swarm through the burned district, seeking relics.
A large touring car honked raucously almost in Frank's ear as he was
crossing Sutter street, and he sprinted out of its lordly course,
turning just in time to see the occupant of the back seat, a large man,
rather handsome, in a hard, iron-willed way. He sat stiffly erect,
unbending and aloof, with a kind of arrogance which just escaped being
splendid. This was Patrick Calhoun, president of the United Railroads,
who had sworn to break the Carmen's Union. It was said that Calhoun had
sworn, though less loudly, to break the graft prosecution as well.
* * * * *
On Montgomery street several financial institutions were doing business
in reclaimed ruins. One of these was the California Safe Deposit and
Trust Company, which had made spectacular history of late. It was said
that spiritualism entered into its affairs. Frank had been working on
the story, which promised a sensation.
As he neared the corner of California and Montgomery streets, where the
crumbled bank walls had been transformed into a temporary habitation, he
saw a crowd evidently pressing toward it. The bank doors were closed,
though it was not yet three o'clock. Now and then people broke from the
throng and wandered disconsolately away. One of these, a gray-haired
woman, came in Frank's direction. He asked her what was wrong.
"They're busted ... and they've got me money," she wailed.
Hastily Frank verified her statement. Then he hurried to the office,
found his notes and for an hour wrote steadily, absorbedly a spectacular
tale of superstition, extravagance and financial chaos. As he turned in
his copy the editor handed him a slip of paper on which was written:
"Call Aleta Boice at once." He sought a telephone, but there was no
response. He tried again, but vainly. A third attempt, however, and
Aleta's voice, half frantic, answered his.
"He's killed himself," she cried. "Oh, Frank, I don't know what to do."
"He? Who?" Frank asked startled.
"Frank, you know! The man who wanted me to--"
"Do you mean the Supervisor?"
"Yes.... They say it was an accident. But I know better. He lost his
money in the safe deposit failure.... Oh, Frank, please come to
A NEW CITY GOVERNMENT
Frank found Aleta, dry-eyed, frantic, pacing up and down her little
sitting room which always looked so quaintly attractive with its jumble
of paintings and bric-a-brac, its distinctive furniture and
draperies--all symbolic of the helter-skelter artistry which was a part
of Aleta's nature. She took Frank's hand and clung to it.
"I'm so glad you've come," she whispered. "I'm so glad you've come."
It was a little time ere she could tell him of the tragedy. The man had
been run over, quickly killed. Witnesses had seen him stagger, fall
directly in the path of an advancing car. A doctor called it apoplexy.
"But I know better," sobbed Aleta, for the tears had come by now. "He
never was sick in his life. He thought he'd lost me when the money went
... his money in the California Safe Deposit Company."
Frank took a seat beside her on the couch, whose flaming, joyous colors
seemed a mockery just then. "Aleta," he said, "I wish I could help you.
I wish I knew how, but I don't."
She lifted her tear-stained eyes to his with a curious bitterness. "No
... you don't. But thank you. Just your coming's helped me, Frank. I'm
better. Go--and let me think things over." She tried to smile, but the
"Life's a hideous puzzle. Perhaps if I'd gone with him, all would have
come right.... I'd have made him happy."
"But what about yourself?"
Again that bitter, enigmatic look came to her eyes. "I guess ... that
doesn't matter, Frank."
He left her, a queer ache in his heart. Was she right about the man's
committing suicide. Poor devil! He had stolen for a woman. Others had
filched his plunder. Then God had taken his misguided life.
But had He? Was God a murderer? A passive conniver at theft? No, that
were blasphemy! Yet, if He _permitted_ such things--? No, that couldn't
be, either. It was all an abominable enigma, as Aleta said. Unless--the
thought came startlingly--it were all a dream, a nightmare. Thus Kant,
the great philosopher, believed. Obsessed by the idea, he paused before
a book-store. Its show window prominently displayed Francisco Stanley's
Frank missed the mellow wisdom of his father's counsel seriously. He
entered the shop, found a volume of Kant and scanned it for some moments
till he read:
"This world's life is only an appearance, a sensuous image of the pure
spiritual life, and the whole of Sense is only a picture swimming before
our present knowing faculty like a dream and having no reality
Acting upon a strange impulse, he bought the book, marked the passage
and ordered it sent to Aleta.
A week after Ruef's confession the trial of Mayor Schmitz began. It
dragged through the usual delays which clever lawyers can exact by legal
technicality. Judge Dunne, sitting in the auditorium of the Bush Street
synagogue, between the six-tinned ceremonial candlesticks and in front
of the Mosiac tablets of Hebraic law, dispensed modern justice.
Meanwhile the Committee of Seven sprang suddenly into being. A morning
paper announced that Schmitz had handed the reins of the city over to a
septette of prominent citizens. Governor Gillette lauded this action.
But Rudolph Spreckels disowned the Committee. Langdon and Heney were
suspicious of its purpose. So the Committee of Seven resigned.
At this juncture the Schmitz trial ended in conviction of the Mayor
which was tantamount to his removal from office. It left a vacancy
which, nominally, the Supervisors had the power to fill. But they were
under Langdon's orders. Actually, therefore, the District Attorney found
himself confronted by the task of naming a new mayor.
Unexpectedly the man was found in Edward Robeson Taylor, doctor of
medicine and law, poet and Greek scholar. The selection was hailed with
relief. Frank hastened to the Taylor home, a trim, white dwelling on
California street near Webster. He found a genial, curly-haired old
gentleman sitting in a room about whose walls were thousands of books.
He was reading Epictetus.
Stanley found the new mayor likeable and friendly. He seemed a man of
simple thought. Frank wondered how he would endure the roiling passions
of this city's politics. Dr. Taylor seemed undaunted by the
Without delay he was elected by the Supervisors. Then began the farcical
procedure of their resignations. One by one the new chief named good
citizens as their successors.
But the real fight was now beginning. Halsey's testimony had not
incriminated Glass beyond a peradventure. There remained a shade of
doubt that he had authorized the outlay of a certain fund for the
purposes of bribery. The jury disagreed. The Prosecution's first battle
against the "higher-ups" had brought no victory.
Ruef was failing Heney as a witness for the people. After months of
bargaining the special prosecutor withdrew his tacit offer of immunity.
Heney's patience with the wily little Boss, who knew no end of legal
subterfuge, was suddenly exhausted. Frank heard that Ruef was to be
tried on one of the three hundred odd indictments found against him.
Schmitz had been sentenced to five years in San Quentin. He
* * * * *
Several times Frank tried to reach Aleta on the telephone. But she did
not respond to calls, a fact which he attributed to disorganized
service. But presently there came a letter from Camp Curry in the
"I am here among the everlasting pines and cliffs," she wrote, "thinking
it all out. I thank you for the book, which has helped me. If only we
might waken from our 'dream'! But here one is nearer to God. It is very
quiet and the birds sing always in the golden sunshine.
"I shall come back saner, happier, to face the world.... Perhaps I can
forget myself in service, I think I shall try settlement work.
"Meanwhile I am trying not to think of what has happened ... what can
never happen. I am reading and painting. Yesterday a dog came up and
licked my hand. I cried a little after that, I don't know why."
In his room that evening, Frank re-read the letter. It brought a lump to
NORAH FINDS OUT
Very soon after the appointment of Mayor Taylor, the second trial of
Louis Glass ended in his conviction. He was remanded to the county jail
awaiting an appeal. The trial of an official of the United Railways
began. Meanwhile the politicians rallied for election.
Schmitz had been elected at the end of 1905. His term, which Dr. Taylor
was completing, would be terminated with the closing of the present
year. And now the Graft Prosecution was to learn by public vote how many
of the people stood behind it.
Union Labor, ousted and discredited by venal representatives, was not
officially in favor of the Taylor-Langdon slate. P.H. McCarthy, labor
leader and head of the Building Trades Council, was Labor's nominee
Frank met McCarthy now and then. He posed as "a plain, blunt man," but
back of the forthright handgrip, the bluff directness of manner, Frank
scented a massive and wily self-interest. He respected the man for his
power, his crude but undeniable executive talents.
The two opponents for the Mayoralty were keenly contrasted. Taylor was
quiet, suavely cultured, widely read but rather passive. Some said he
Frank MacGowan was Langdon's foeman in the struggle for the district
attorneyship. Little could be said for or against him. A lawyer of good
reputation who had made his way upward by merit and push, he had done
nothing big. He was charged with no wrong.
The "dark horse" was Daniel Ryan.
Ryan was a young Irishman, that fine type of political leader who
approximates what has sometimes been called a practical idealist. He had
set out to reform the Republican Party and achieved a certain measure of
success, for he had beaten the Herrin or Railroad forces at the
Republican Convention. Ryan was avowedly pro-prosecution. It was
believed that he would deliver his party's nomination to Taylor
But he astonished San Francisco voters by becoming a candidate for
* * * * *
Aleta had returned from Camp Curry. There was a certain quiet in her
eyes, a greater self-control, a better facing of Life's problems. They
spoke of Kant and his philosophy. "The Nightmare is less turbulent,"
One evening at her apartment Frank met a young woman named France, a
fragile, fine-haired, dreamy sort of girl, and he was not surprised to
learn that she wrote poetry.
"Norah's been working as a telephone operator," explained Aleta. "She's
written a story about it--the working girl's wrongs.... Oh, not the
ordinary wail-and-whine," she added hastily. "It's real meat. I've read
it. The Saturday Magazine's considering it."
Miss France smiled deprecatingly. "I have high hopes," she said. "I need
"It will give you prestige, too," Frank told her, but she shook her
"Norah hasn't signed her name to it," Aleta disapproved. "Just because a
friend, a well known writer in Carmel, has fixed it up for her
"It doesn't seem like mine," the girl remarked. Aleta rose. "This is
election night," she said; "let's go down and watch the returns."
They did this, standing on the fringe of a crowd that thronged about the
newspaper offices, watching, eager, but patient, the figures which were
flashed on a screen.
The crowd was less demonstrative than is usual on such occasions. A
feeling of anxiety prevailed, a consciousness of vital issues endangered
and put to the test. Toward midnight the crowd grew thicker. But it was
more joyous now. Taylor and Langdon were leading. It became evident that
they must win.
Suddenly the restless stillness of the throng was broken by spontaneous
cheering. It was impressive, overwhelming, like a great burst of
Norah France caught Frank's arm as the celebrants eddied round them. The
press was disbanding with an almost violent haste. "Where's Aleta?"
asked the girl.
Frank searched amid the human eddies, but in vain. "She got separated
from us somehow," he said rather helplessly. They searched farther,
without result. Aleta doubtless had gone home.
"I wonder if you'd take me somewhere ... for a cup of coffee," said Miss
France. The hand upon his arm grew heavy. "I'm a little faint."
"Surely." He suggested a popular cafe, but she shook her head. "Just
some quiet little place ... a 'chop house.' That's what the switch-girls
So they entered a pair of swinging doors inscribed "Ladies" on one side
and "Gents" on the other. Miss France laughingly insisted that they pass
each on the proper side of this divided portal. She was a creature of
swift moods; one moment feverishly gay, the next brooding, with a
penchant for satire. He wondered how she endured the hard work of a
telephone switch-operator. But one felt that whatever she willed she
would do. Eagerly she sipped her steaming coffee from a heavy crockery
cup, nibbling at a bit of French bread. Then she said to him so suddenly
that he almost sprang out of his chair.
"Do you know that Aleta Boice loves you?"
He looked at her annoyed and disturbed by the question.
"No, I don't," he answered slowly. "Nor do I understand just what
you're driving at, Miss France."
"If you'll forgive me," her eyes were upon him, "I am driving at
masculine obtuseness ... and Aleta's happiness."
"Then you're wasting your time," he spoke sharply. "Aleta loves
another.... She's told me so."
"Did she tell you his name?"
"No, some prig of a professor, probably.... Thinks he's 'not her kind.'"
"Yes ... let's have another cup of coffee. Yes, Aleta told me that."
Frank signalled to the waiter. "She's anybody's kind," he said,
"But not yours, Mr. Stanley."
"Mine? Why not?"
"Because you don't love her." Norah's tone was sad, half bitter. "Will
you forgive me? I'm sorry I provoked you.... But I had to know....
Aleta's such a dear. She's been so good to me."
The Christmas holidays brought handsome stock displays to all the
stores. San Francisco was still flush with insurance money but there was
a pinch of poverty in certain quarters. The Refugee Camps had been
cleared, public parks and squares restored to their normal state.
Langdon and Heney worked on. Another jury brought a verdict of "not
guilty" at the second trial of a trolley-bribe defendant. Some of the
newspapers had changed by almost imperceptible degrees, were veering
toward the cause of the defense.
Then, like a thunderbolt, in January, 1908, came news that the Appellate
Court had set aside the conviction of Ruef and Schmitz. Technical errors
were assigned as the cause of this decision. The people gasped. But some
of the newspapers defended the Appellate Judges' decree.
THE SHOOTING OF HENEY
Heney and Langdon, who had had, perhaps, some inkling of an adverse
decision, went grimly on. Enemies of Prosecution, backed by an enormous
fund, were setting innumerable obstacles in their way. Witnesses
disappeared or changed their testimony. Jurors showed evidence of having
been tampered with. Through a subsidized press an active propaganda of
Innuendo and Slander was begun.
Calhoun's trial still loomed vaguely in the distance. Heney, overworked
and harassed in a multitude of ways--keyed to a battle with ruffians,
gun-men and shysters as well as the ablest exponents of law, developed a
nervousness of manner, a bitterness of mind which sometimes led him
"He isn't sleeping well," his faithful bodyguard confided to Frank one
afternoon when they met on Van Ness avenue. "He comes down in the
morning trying to smile but I know he feels as though he'd like to bite
my head off. I can see it in his eyes. He needs a rest."
"Mr. Calhoun evidently thinks so, too," retorted Stanley. "The Honorable
Pat is trying to retire him."
"He'll never succeed," said the other explosively. "Frank Heney's not
that kind. He'll fight on till he drops.... But I hate to see those
boughten lawyers ragging him in court."
Langdon, more phlegmatic of temperament, stood the gaff with less
apparent friction. Hiram Johnson gave aid now and then which was always
of value. There was a dauntless quality about the man, a rugged
double-fisted force which made him feared by his opponents.
Frank Stanley looked in at the second Ruef trial. He found it a
kaleidoscope of dramatic and tragic events. Heney, who had been the
target for a volley of insinuations from Ruef's attorneys, was nervous
and distraught. Several times he had been goaded into altercation; had
struck back with a bitterness that showed his mounting anger. Stanley
noted that he was "on edge," and rather looked for "fireworks," as the
reporters called these verbal duels of the Prosecution trials. But he
was astonished to see Heney turn upon an unoffending juryman in sudden
fury. The man had a fat, good-natured Teuton face with small eyes and a
heavy manner. His name was Morris Haas. He had asked to be excused but
the judge had not granted his plea.
Now he seemed to cower in exaggerated fright before the Prosecutor's
pointed finger. A little hush ensued. A tense dramatic pause. Then Heney
branded Haas before the court-room as a former convict.
The man broke down utterly. Many years before he had served a short term
in prison. After his release he had married, raised a family, "lived a
respectable life," as he pleaded in hysterical extenuation. He kept a
Haas stumbled from the court-room and Frank followed him. He could not
help but feel a certain pity for the poor wretch, wailing brokenly that
he was "ruined." He could never face his friends again. His customers
would leave him. Frank learned the details of his ancient crime; he also
ascertained that Haas had lived rightly since. The incident rankled. He
wrote a guarded story of the affair. But he did not mention one episode
of Haas' exposure. As the man staggered out Frank had heard another
whisper sympathetically, "I would kill the man who did that to me."
Justice often has its cruel, relentless aspects. Haas, with his weak,
heavy face, stayed in Stanley's memory. An ordinary man might have tried
again and won. But Haas was drunken with self-pity and the melancholy of
his race. He would brood and suffer. Frank felt sorry for the man, and,
somehow, vaguely apprehensive.
Ruef's trial ended in a disagreement of the jury. It was a serious blow.
Most of the San Francisco papers heaped abuse upon the Prosecution, its
attorneys and its judges.
Matters dragged along until the 13th of November. Gallagher was on the
witness stand. He testified with the listlessness of many repetitions to
the sordid facts of San Francisco's betrayal by venal public servants.
It was all more or less perfunctory. Everyone had heard the tale from
one to half a dozen times.
Heney was at the attorneys' table talking animatedly with an assistant.
The jury had left the room and Gallagher stepped down from the stand to
have a word with the prosecutor. A few feet away was Heney's bodyguard
lolling, plainly bored by the testimony. There was the usual buzz of
talk which marks a lull in court proceedings.
Into this scene came with covert tread a wild, dramatic figure. No one
noted his approach. Morris Haas, glittering of eye, dishevelled, mad
with loss of sleep and brooding, had crept into the court-room unheeded.
He approached the attorneys' table stealthily.
All at once Frank saw him standing within a foot of Heney. Something
glittered in his outstretched hand. Frank shouted, but his warning lost
itself in a wild cry of revengeful accusation. There was a sharp report;
smoke rose. An acrid smell of exploded powder hung upon the air. Heney,
with a cry, fell backward. Blood spurted from his neck.
* * * * *
Once more the city was afire with men's passions. Haas was rushed to the
county jail and Heney to a hospital, where it was found, amid great
popular rejoicing, that the wound was not a fatal one. Had it been
otherwise no human power could have protected Haas from lynching.
A great mass meeting was held. Langdon, Phelan, Mayor Taylor pleaded for
order. "Let us see to it," said the last, "that no matter who else
breaks the law, we shall uphold it." This became the keynote of the
meeting. Rudolph Spreckels, who arrived late, was greeted with
Frank and Aleta were impressed by the spontaneity of the huge popular
turnout. "It means," said the girl, as they made their exit, "that San
Francisco is again aroused to its danger. What a great, good natured,
easy-going body of men and women this town is! We feed on novelty and
are easily wearied. That's why so many have back-slid who were strong
for the Prosecution at first."
"Yes, you're right," answered Frank. "We alternate between spasms of
Virtue and comfortable inertias of Don't-care-a-Damn! That's San
"The Good Gray City," he added after a little silence. "We love it in
spite of its faults and upheavals, don't we, Aleta?"
"Perhaps because of them." She squeezed his arm. For a time they walked
on without speaking. "How is your settlement work progressing?" he asked
But she did not answer, for a shrieking newsie thrust a paper in her
hand. "Buy an extra, lady," he importuned her. "All about Morris
She tossed him a coin and he rushed off, shrilling his tragic
revelation. Huge black headlines announced that Heney's assailant had
shot himself to death in his cell.
DEFEAT OF THE PROSECUTION
While Heney lay upon the operating table of a San Francisco hospital,
three prominent attorneys volunteered to take his place. They were Hiram
Johnson, Matt I. Sullivan and J.J. Dwyer. Ruef's trial went on with
renewed vigor three days after the attempted killing, though the
defendant's attorneys exhausted every expedient for delay. It was a case
so thorough and complete that nothing could save the prisoner. He was
found guilty of bribing a Supervisor in the overhead trolley transaction
and sentenced to serve fourteen years in San Quentin penitentiary.
Frank was in the court-room when Ruef's sentence was imposed. The Little
Boss seemed oddly aged and nerveless; the old look of power was gone
from his eyes. Frank recalled Ruef's plan of a political Utopia. The man
had started with a golden dream, a genius for organization which might
have achieved great things. But his lower self had conquered. He had
sold his dream for gold. And retribution was upon him.
Frank thought of Patrick Calhoun, large, blustering, arrogant with the
pride of an old Southern family; the power of limitless wealth between
him and punishment; a masterful figure who had broken a labor union and
who scoffed at Law. And Eugene Schmitz, once happy as a fiddler. Schmitz
was trying to face it out in the community. Frank could not tell if that
was courage or a sort of impudence.
During the holidays Frank visited his parents in San Diego. His
granduncle, Benito Windham, had died abroad. And his mother was ailing.
Frank and his father discussed the Prosecution.
"It has had its day," the elder Stanley said. "Your public is listless,
sick of the whole rotten mess. They've lost the moral perspective. All
they want is to have it over."
"I guess I feel the same way." Frank's eyes were downcast.
* * * * *
Sometimes Frank met Norah France at Aleta's apartment, but she carefully
avoided further mention of the topic they had talked of on election
night. Frank liked her poetry. With a spirit less morbid she would have
made a name for herself he thought.
Aleta was doing more and more settlement work. She had been playing
second lead at the theater and had had a New York offer. Frank could not
understand why she refused it. But Norah did, though she kept the secret
"Do you know how many talesmen have been called in the Calhoun trial?"
Aleta asked, looking up from the newspaper. "There were nearly 1500 in
the Ruef case. They called that a record." She laughed.
"Of course Pat Calhoun would wish to outdo Abe Ruef," said Frank.
"That's only to be expected. He's had close to 2500, I reckon."
"Not quite," Aleta referred to the printed sheet. "Your paper says 2370
veniremen were called into court. That's what money can do. If he'd been
some poor devil charged with stealing a bottle of milk from the
doorstep, how long would it take to convict him?"
"It's a rotten world," the other girl spoke with a sudden gust of
bitterness. "A world without honor or justice."
"Or a nightmare," said Frank, with a glance at Aleta.
"Well, if it is, I'm going to wake up soon--in one way or another," said
Norah. "I will promise you that." To Frank the words seemed ominous. He
left soon afterward.
The Calhoun trial dragged interminably. Heney, not entirely recovered
from his wound, but back in court, faced a battery of the country's
highest priced attorneys. There were A.A. and Stanley Moore, Alexander
King, who was Calhoun's law partner in the South; Lewis F. Byington, a
former district attorney; J.J. Barrett, Earl Rogers, a sensationally
successful criminal defender from Los Angeles, and Garret McEnerney.
Heney had but one assistant, John O'Gara, a deputy in Langdon's office.
For five long months the Prosecution fought such odds. Heney lost his
temper frequently in court. He was on the verge of a nerve prostration.
Anti-prosecution papers hinted that his faculties were failing. Langdon
more or less withdrew from the fight. He was tired of it; had declined
to be a candidate for the district attorneyship in the Fall. Heney was
the Prosecution's only hope. He consented to run; which added to his
legal labors the additional tasks of preparing for a campaign.
It was not to be wondered at that Heney failed to convict Calhoun. The
jury disagreed after many ballots. A new trial was set. But before a
jury was empanelled the November ballot gave the Prosecution its "coup
P.H. McCarthy was elected Mayor. Charles Fickert defeated Heney for the
district attorneyship. An anti-Prosecution government took office.
"Big Jim" Gallagher, the Prosecution's leading witness, disappeared.
Fickert sought dismissal of the Calhoun case and finally obtained it.
* * * * *
San Francisco heaved a sigh of relief and turned its attention toward
another problem. Its people planned a great world exposition to
celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal.
With the close of the Graft trials, San Francisco put its shoulders in
concerted effort to the wheel. There were rivals now. San Diego claimed
a prior plan. New Orleans was importuning Congress to support it in an
Exposition. The Southern city sent its lobbying delegation to the
Capitol. San Francisco seemed about to lose.
But the city was aroused to one of its outbursts of pioneer energy. The
Panama-Pacific International Exposition Company was organized. A meeting
was called at the Merchants' Exchange. There, in two hours, $4,000,000
was subscribed by local merchants.
THE MEASURE OF REDEMPTION
Frank journeyed East with a party of "Exposition Boosters" after the
memorable meeting in the Merchants' Exchange. The import of that
afternoon's work had been flashed around the world. It swung the tide of
public sentiment from New Orleans toward the Western Coast. Congress
heard the clink of Power in those millions. President Taft discerned a
spirit of efficiency that would guarantee success. He did not desire
another Jamestown fiasco. He had an open admiration for the city which
in four years could rebuild itself from ashes, suffer staunchly through
disrupting ordeals of political upheaval and unite its forces in a
mighty plan to entertain the World.
Frank went to the White House for an interview. He clasped the large,
firm hand which had guided so many troubled ships of state for the
Roosevelt regime, looked into the twinkling eyes that hid so keen a
force behind their kindness. Stanley soon discovered that in this big,
bluff President his city had a friend.
"What shall I say to the people at home for you, Mr. President? Will you
give me a message?"
The Chief Executive was thoughtful for an instant. Then he said, "Go
back, my boy, and tell them this from me, 'SAN FRANCISCO KNOWS HOW!'"
Frank left the White House, eager and enthusiastic; sought a telegraph
office. On the following day Market street blazed with the slogan.
In New York, where he went from Washington, Frank heard echoes of that
speech. San Francisco's cause gained new and sudden favor. Frank found
the Eastern press, which hitherto had favored New Orleans, was veering
almost imperceptibly toward the Golden Gate.
He met many San Franciscans in New York. John O'Hara Cosgrave was
editing Everybody's Magazine, "Bob" Davis was at the head of the Munsey
publications, Edwin Markham wrote world-poetry on Staten Island, "in a
big house filled with books and mosquitoes," as a friend described it.
"Bill" and Wallace Irwin were there, the former "batching" in a flat on
Washington Square. All of them were glad to talk of San Francisco.
Charley Aiken, editor of Sunset Magazine, was with the boosters. Stanley
met him in New York. He had a plan for buying the publication from its
railroad sponsors; making it an independent organ of the literary West.
Things were looking up for San Francisco.
* * * * *
Frank was glad to get back. He had enjoyed his visit to the East. But it
was mighty good to ride up Market street again. It looked quite as it
did before the fire. One would have found it difficult to believe that
this new city with its towering, handsome architecture, had lain, a few
years back, the shambles of the greatest conflagration history
On Christmas eve Frank and Aleta went down town to hear Tetrazzini sing
in the streets. The famous prima donna faced an audience which numbered
upward of a hundred thousand. They thronged--a joyous celebrant, dark
mass--on Market, Geary, Third and Kearny streets. Every window was
ablaze, alive with silhouetted figures. Frank, who had engaged a window
in the Monadnock Block, could not get near the entrance. So he and Aleta
stood in the street.
"It's nicer," she whispered happily, "to be here among the people.... I
feel closer to them. As if I could sense the big Pulse of Life that
makes us all brothers and sisters."
Frank looked down at her understandingly, but did not speak. Tetrazzini
had begun her song. Its first notes floated faintly through the vast and
unwalled auditorium. Then her voice grew clearer, surer.
Never had those bustling, noisy streets known such a stillness as
prevailed this night. The pure soprano which had thrilled a world of
high-priced audiences rang out in a wondrous clarion harmony. It moved
many people to tears. The response was overwhelming. Something in that
vast human pack went out to the singer like a tidal wave. Not the
deafening fusilade of hand-clapping nor the shouted "Bravos!" It was
something deeper, subtler. Tetrazzini stepped forward. Tears streamed
from her eyes. She blew impulsive kisses to the crowd.
* * * * *
The pageant of the months went on. A coal merchant by the name of Rolph
had displaced P.H. McCarthy as Mayor of San Francisco. He had installed
what was termed "a business administration." San Francisco seemed
pleased with the result. Power of government had returned to the "North
of Market Street."
San Francisco had been selected by Congress as the site of the
exposition. It was scheduled for 1915 and the Panama Canal approached
Frank was living with his father at the Press Club. His mother was dead.
He had given up newspaper work, except for an occasional editorial.
Through his father's influence he had found publication for a novel. He
was something of a public man now, despite his comparative youth.
Occasionally he saw his Uncle Robert. Two of his cousins had married.
The third, an engineer, had gone to Colorado. Robert Windham and his
wife were planning a year of travel.
Sometimes Windham and his nephew talked of Bertha. It was a calmer, more
dispassionate talk as time went on, for years blunt every pain. One day
the former said, with tentative defiance, "I suppose you'll think
there's something wrong about me, boy.... But I loved her mother deeply.
Honestly--if one can call it that. If I'd had a certain kind of--well,
immoral--courage, I'd have married her.... Just think how different all
our lives would have been. But I hadn't the heart to hurt Maizie; to
break with her ... nor the courage to give up my position in life. So we
parted. I didn't know then--"
"That you had a daughter?" questioned Frank. His uncle nodded. "Perhaps
it would have made a difference ... perhaps not."
* * * * *
Aleta had a week's vacation. They were playing a comedy in which she had
no part. So she had gone to Carmel to visit her friend Norah France.
Frank decided to look in on them. He had been oddly shaken by the talk
with his uncle. What tragedies men hid beneath the smooth exteriors of
successful careers? He had always thought his uncle's home a happy one.
Doubtless it was--happy enough. Love perhaps was not essential to
successful unions. Frank wondered why he had not asked Aleta Boice to be
his wife. They were good comrades, had congenial tastes. They would both
be better off; less lonely. A sudden, long-forgotten feeling stirred
within his heart. He had missed Aleta in the past few days. Why not go
to her now; lay the question before her? Perhaps love might come to
For years thereafter Frank was haunted by the wraiths of vain
conjecture--morbid questionings of what might have occurred if he had
caught the train for Monterey that afternoon. For he was not to seek
Aleta at Carmel. An official of the Exposition Company met Frank on the
street. They talked a shade too long. Frank missed the train by half a
minute. He shrugged his shoulders petulantly, found his father at the
club. That evening they attended a comedy.
He was not yet out of bed when the office telephoned him the next
morning. "Didn't he know Norah France rather well?" the City Editor
inquired. Frank admitted it sleepily.
Had he a picture of her?
Frank denied this. No. He didn't know where one might be obtained. Had
Norah printed a poem or something? W-h-a-a-t!
The voice at the telephone repeated its message. "Norah France was found
dead in her room at Carmel this morning. Suicide probably. Empty vial
and a letter.... The Carmel authorities haven't come through yet."
Frank began to dress hurriedly. Again the telephone rang. Wire for him.
Should they send it up? No, he would be down in a minute.
The telegram was from Aleta. It read: "Am returning noon train. See you
at my apartment six P.M."
Stanley did not see his father in the dining room. He gulped a cup of
coffee and went down to the office. He had planned an editorial for
today. But his mind was full of Norah France just now.
Poor child! How she had loved life in her strangely vivid moods! And how
she had brooded upon its injustice in her alternating tempers of
depression! He remembered now Aleta's mention of a love affair that
turned out badly. Aleta had gone down to hearten her friend from these
dolors. And he recalled, with a desperate, tearing remorse, a
casual-enough remark of Norah's: "You always cheer me up, Frank, when
you come to see me."
He recalled, as well, her comment, months before, that she would awake
from her dream in one way or another. Well, she had fulfilled her
promise. God grant, he thought passionately, that the awakening had been
in a happier world.
At six o'clock he went to Aleta's apartment. She had not yet arrived but
presently she came. He saw that she had been crying. She could
"Frank, let us walk somewhere," she said. "I can't go upstairs; it's too
full of memories. And I can't sit still. I've got to keep moving--fast."
They strode off together, taking a favorite walk through the Presidio
toward the Beach. From a hill-top they saw the Exposition buildings
rising from what once had been a slough.
Aleta paused and looked down.
"It's easier to bear--up here," she spoke in an odd, weary monotone, as
if she were thinking aloud. "This morning ... I think, if Norah had left
anything in the bottle ... I'd have taken it, too."
"Why did she do it?" Frank asked quickly.
Aleta faced him. "Norah loved a man ... he wasn't worthy. She could see
no hope. I wished, Frank, that you might have been there yesterday. You
used to cheer her so!"
"Don't!" he cried out sharply.
The Exposition progressed marvelously. Often Frank and Aleta climbed
the winding Presidio ascent and gazed upon its growing wonders.
"Beauty will come out of it all," she said one day. "Out of our travail
and sorrow and sin. I wish that Norah was here. She loved beauty so!"
"Perhaps she is here.... Who knows?"
She looked at him startled. He was staring off across the Exposition
site, toward the Golden Gate, where a great ship, all its sails spread,
swam mysteriously luminous with the sunset.
"It's beautiful," he said, a catch in his voice. "It's like life ...
coming home in the end ... after long strivings with tempest and wave. I
wonder--" he turned to her slowly, "Aleta, will it be like that
"Home!" she spoke the word tenderly. "I wonder what it's like ... I've
He drew his breath sharply. "Aleta--will you marry me?"
Her eyes filled but she did not answer. Presently she shook her head.
He looked at her dumbly, questioning. "You don't love me, Frank," she
said at last.
He could not answer her. His eyes were on the ground. A hundred thoughts
came to his mind; thoughts of an almost overwhelming tenderness;
thoughts of reverence for her; of affection, comradeship. But they were
not the right thoughts. They were not what she wanted.
Presently they turned and went toward the town together.
* * * * *
A Fairyland of gardens and lagoons sprung into existence. Great artists
labored with a kind of beauty-madness in its making. Nine years after
San Francisco lay in ashes its doors opened to the world. From Ruins had
grown a Great Dream, one so beautiful and strong, it seemed unreal.
Aleta and Frank went often. To them the Exposition was a rhapsody of
silent music and they seldom broke its harmonies with speech.
Frank had not recurred to the question he had asked on Presidio Hill.
But out of it had come an unspoken compact, a comradeship of spirit that
was very sweet.
They stood one day on the margin of Fine Arts Lagoon, gazing down at the
marvelous reflections of the great dome and its pillared colonnade.
"Frank," the girl said almost in a whisper, "I believe that Love is
God's heart, beating, beating ... through the Whole of Life." He turned
and saw that her eyes were radiant. "And I think that when we feel its
rhythm in us, it's like a call. A call to--"
"What?" he asked abashed.
"Service.... Frank," she faced him questioningly, half fearful. "You'll
forgive me, won't you? I--I'm going away."
She expected protest, exclamation. Instead he asked her, very quietly:
"To Europe, Aleta? The Red Cross?"
"Yes," she said, surprised. "How did you know?"
"I--I'm going, myself. As a stretcher bearer."
"Then--" her eyes were stars, "you've felt it, too?"
* * * * *
On the deck of an outbound steamer stood two figures. The sky was gray.
Drifts of fog hung plume-like over Alcatraz, veiled the Exposition domes
and turrets in a mystic glory. Sometimes it was like a great white
nothingness; then, as if by magic, Color, Forms and Beauty leaped forth
like some startling vision from a Land of Make Believe.
The woman at the stern-rail stretched forth her arms. "Goodbye," her
words were like a song, a song of heartbreak, mixed with exultation.
"Goodbye, Oh my City of Dreams!"
"We will come back," said the man shakily. "We will come with new peace
in our hearts."
"Perhaps," she replied, "but it will not matter. San Francisco will go
on, big, generous, unafraid in its sins and virtues. Oh, Frank, I love
it, don't you? I want it to be the greatest city in the world!"
He made no answer but he caught her hand and pressed it. The fog came
down about them like a mantle and shut them in.