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Susan Lenox: Her Rise and Fall

Part 12 out of 19

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"But I haven't anything like that," said Susan. "I haven't so
much as----"

"I comprehend perfectly," interrupted Ransome. She interested
him, this unusual looking girl, with her attractive mingling of
youth and experience. Her charm that tempted people to give
her at once the frankest confidences, moved him to go out of
his way to help her. "You haven't the money," he went on.

"You must have it. So--I promised to place you, and I will.
I don't usually go so far in assisting my clients. It's not
often necessary--and where it's necessary it's usually
imprudent. However--I'll give you the address of a flat where
there is a lady--a trustworthy, square sort, despite her--her
profession. She will put you in the way of getting on a sound
financial basis."

Ransome spoke in a matter-of-fact tone, like a man stating a
simple business proposition. Susan understood. She rose. Her
expression was neither shock nor indignation; but it was none
the less a negative.

"It's the regular thing, my dear," urged Ransome. "To make a
start, to get in right, you can't afford to be squeamish. The
way I suggest is the simplest and most direct of several that
all involve the same thing. And the surest. You look
steady-headed--self-reliant. You look sensible----"

Susan smiled rather forlornly. "But I'm not," said she. "Not yet."

Ransome regarded her with a sympathy which she felt was
genuine. "I'm sorry, my dear. I've done the best I can for
you. You may think it a very poor best--and it is. But"--he
shrugged his shoulders--"I didn't make this world and its
conditions for living. I may say also that I'm not the
responsible party--the party in charge. However----"

To her amazement he held out a five-dollar bill. "Here's your
fee back." He laughed at her expression. "Oh, I'm not a
robber," said he. "I only wish I could serve you. I didn't
think you were so--" his eyes twinkled--"so unreasonable, let
us say. Among those who don't know anything about life there's
an impression that my sort of people are in the business of
dragging women down. Perhaps one of us occasionally does as
bad--about a millionth part as bad--as the average employer of
labor who skims his profits from the lifeblood of his
employees. But as a rule we folks merely take those that are
falling and help them to light easy--or even to get up again."

Susan felt ashamed to take her money. But he pressed it on
her. "You'll need it," said he. "I know how it is with a girl
alone and trying to get a start. Perhaps later on you'll be
more in the mood where I can help you."

"Perhaps," said Susan.

"But I hope not. It'll take uncommon luck to pull you
through--and I hope you'll have it."

"Thank you," said Susan. He took her hand, pressed it
friendlily--and she felt that he was a man with real good in
him, more good than many who would have shrunk from him in horror.

She was waiting for a thrust from fate. But fate,
disappointing as usual, would not thrust. It seemed bent on
the malicious pleasure of compelling her to degrade herself
deliberately and with calculation, like a woman marrying for
support a man who refuses to permit her to decorate with any
artificial floral concealments of faked-up sentiment the sordid
truth as to what she is about. She searched within herself in
vain for the scruple or sentiment or timidity or whatever it
was that held her back from the course that was plainly
inevitable. She had got down to the naked fundamentals of
decency and indecency that are deep hidden by, and for most of
us under, hypocrisies of conventionality. She had found out
that a decent woman was one who respected her body and her
soul, that an indecent woman was one who did not, and that
marriage rites or the absence of them, the absence of financial
or equivalent consideration, or its presence, or its extent or
its form, were all irrelevant non-essentials. Yet--she
hesitated, knowing the while that she was risking a greater
degradation, and a stupid and fatal folly to boot, by shrinking
from the best course open to her--unless it were better to take
a dose of poison and end it all. She probably would have done
that had she not been so utterly healthy, therefore overflowing
with passionate love of life. Except in fiction suicide and
health do not go together, however superhumanly sensitive the
sore beset hero or heroine. Susan was sensitive enough;
whenever she did things incompatible with our false and
hypocritical and unscientific notions of sensitiveness,
allowances should be made for her because of her superb and
dauntless health. If her physical condition had been morbid,
her conduct might have been, would have been, very different.

She was still hesitating when Saturday night came round
again--swiftly despite long disheartening days, and wakeful
awful nights. In the morning her rent would be due. She had
a dollar and forty-five cents.

After dinner alone a pretense at dinner--she wandered the
streets of the old Tenderloin until midnight. An icy rain was
falling. Rains such as this--any rains except showers--were
rare in the City of the Sun. That rain by itself was enough to
make her downhearted. She walked with head down and umbrella
close to her shoulders. No one spoke to her. She returned
dripping; she had all but ruined her one dress. She went to
bed, but not to sleep. About nine--early for that house she
rose, drank a cup of coffee and ate part of a roll. Her little
stove and such other things as could not be taken along she
rolled into a bundle, marked it, "For Ida." On a scrap of
paper she wrote this note:

Don't think I'm ungrateful, please. I'm going without saying
good-by because I'm afraid if I saw you, you'd be generous
enough to put up for me, and I'd be weak enough to accept. And
if I did that, I'd never be able to get strong or even to hold
my head up. So--good-by. I'll learn sooner or later--learn
how to live. I hope it won't be too long--and that the teacher
won't be too hard on me.

Yes, I'll learn, and I'll buy fine hats at your grand millinery
store yet. Don't forget me altogether.

She tucked this note into the bundle and laid it against the
door behind which Ida and one of her regulars were sleeping
peacefully. The odor of Ida's powerful perfume came through
the cracks in the door; Susan drew it eagerly into her
nostrils, sobbed softly, turned away, It was one of the
perfumes classed as immoral; to Susan it was the aroma of a
friendship as noble, as disinterested, as generous, as human
sympathy had ever breathed upon human woe. With her few
personal possessions in a package she descended the stairs
unnoticed, went out into the rain. At the corner of Sixth
Avenue she paused, looked up and down the street. It was
almost deserted. Now and then a streetwalker, roused early by
a lover with perhaps a family waiting for him, hurried by,
looking piteous in the daylight which showed up false and dyed
hair, the layers of paint, the sad tawdriness of battered
finery from the cheapest bargain troughs.

Susan went slowly up Sixth Avenue. Two blocks, and she saw a
girl enter the side door of a saloon across the way. She
crossed the street, pushed in at the same door, went on to a
small sitting-room with blinds drawn, with round tables, on
every table a match stand. It was one of those places where
streetwalkers rest their weary legs between strolls, and sit
for company on rainy or snowy nights, and take shy men for
sociability-breeding drinks and for the preliminary bargaining.
The air of the room was strong with stale liquor and tobacco,
the lingering aroma of the night's vanished revels. In the far
corner sat the girl she had followed; a glass of raw whiskey
and another of water stood on the table before her. Susan
seated herself near the door and when the swollen-faced, surly
bartender came, ordered whiskey. She poured herself a
drink--filled the glass to the brim. She drank it in two
gulps, set the empty glass down. She shivered like an animal
as it is hit in the head with a poleax. The mechanism of life
staggered, hesitated, went on with a sudden leaping
acceleration of pace. Susan tapped her glass against the
matchstand. The bartender came.

"Another," said she.

The man stared at her. "The--hell!" he ejaculated. "You must be
afraid o' catchin' cold. Or maybe you're looking for the menagerie?"

Susan laughed and so did the girl in the corner. "Won't you
have a drink with me?" asked Susan.

"That's very kind of you," replied the girl, in the manner of
one eager to show that she, too, is a perfect lady in every
respect, used to the ways of the best society. She moved to a
chair at Susan's table.

She and Susan inventoried each other. Susan saw a mere
child--hardly eighteen--possibly not seventeen--but much worn
by drink and irregular living--evidently one of those who rush
into the fast woman's life with the idea that it is a career of
gayety--and do not find out their error until looks and health
are gone. Susan drank her second drink in three gulps, several
minutes apart. The girl was explaining in a thin, common
voice, childish yet cracked, that she had come there seeking a
certain lady friend because she had an extra man and needed a
side partner.

"Suppose you come with me," she suggested. "It's good money,
I think. Want to get next?"

"When I've had another drink," said Susan. Her eyes were
gorgeously brilliant. She had felt almost as reckless several
times before; but never had she felt this devil-may-care
eagerness to see what the turn of the next card would bring.
"You'll take one?"

"Sure. I feel like the devil. Been bumming round all night.
My lady friend that I had with me--a regular lady friend--she
was suddenly took ill. Appendicitis complicated with d.t.'s
the ambulance guy said. The boys are waiting for me to come
back, so's we can go on. They've got some swell rooms in a
hotel up in Forty-second Street. Let's get a move on."

The bartender served the third drink and Susan paid for them,
the other girl insisting on paying for the one she was having
when Susan came. Susan's head was whirling. Her spirits were
spiraling up and up. Her pale lips were wreathed in a reckless
smile. She felt courageous for adventure--any adventure. Her
capital had now sunk to three quarters and a five-cent piece.
They issued forth, talking without saying anything, laughing
without knowing or caring why. Life was a joke--a coarse, broad
joke--but amusing if one drank enough to blunt any refinement of
sensibility. And what was sensibility but a kind of snobbishness?
And what more absurd than snobbishness in an outcast?

"That's good whiskey they had, back there," said Susan.

"Good? Yes--if you don't care what you say."

"If you don't want to care what you say or do," explained Susan.

"Oh, all booze is good for that," said the girl. VI

THEY went through to Broadway and there stood waiting for a
car, each under her own umbrella. "Holy Gee!" cried Susan's
new acquaintance. "Ain't this rain a soaker?"

It was coming in sheets, bent and torn and driven horizontally
by the wind. The umbrella, sheltering the head somewhat, gave
a wholly false impression of protection. Both girls were soon
sopping wet. But they were more than cheerful about it; the
whiskey made them indifferent to external ills as they warmed
themselves by its bright fire. At that time a famous and much
envied, admired and respected "captain of industry," having
looted the street-car systems, was preparing to loot them over
again by the familiar trickery of the receivership and the
reorganization. The masses of the people were too ignorant to
know what was going on; the classes were too busy, each man of
each of them, about his own personal schemes for graft of one
kind and another. Thus, the street-car service was a joke and
a disgrace. However, after four or five minutes a north-bound
car appeared.

"But it won't stop," cried Susan. "It's jammed."

"That's why it will stop," replied her new acquaintance. "You
don't suppose a New York conductor'd miss a chance to put his
passengers more on the bum than ever?"

She was right, at least as to the main point; and the conductor
with much free handling of their waists and shoulders added
them to the dripping, straining press of passengers, enduring
the discomforts the captain of industry put upon them with more
patience than cattle would have exhibited in like
circumstances. All the way up Broadway the new acquaintance
enlivened herself and Susan and the men they were squeezed in
among by her loud gay sallies which her young prettiness made
seem witty. And certainly she did have an amazing and amusing
acquaintance with the slang at the moment current. The worn
look had vanished, her rounded girlhood freshness had returned.
As for Susan, you would hardly have recognized her as the same
person who had issued from the house in Twenty-ninth Street
less than an hour before. Indeed, it was not the same person.
Drink nervifies every character; here it transformed,
suppressing the characteristics that seemed, perhaps were,
essential in her normal state, and causing to bloom in sudden
audacity of color and form the passions and gayeties at other
times subdued by her intelligence and her sensitiveness. Her
brilliant glance moved about the car full as boldly as her
companion's. But there was this difference: Her companion
gazed straight into the eyes of the men; Susan's glance shot
past above or just below their eyes.

As they left the car at Forty-second Street the other girl gave
her short skirt a dexterous upward flirt that exhibited her
legs almost to the hips. Susan saw that they were well shaped
legs, surprisingly plump from the calves upward, considering
the slightness of her figure above the waist.

"I always do that when I leave a car," said the girl.
"Sometimes it starts something on the trail. You forgot your
package--back in the saloon!"

"Then I didn't forget much," laughed Susan. It appealed to
her, the idea of entering the new life empty-handed.

The hotel was one that must have been of the first class in its
day--not a distant day, for the expansion of New York in
craving for showy luxury has been as sudden as the miraculous
upward thrust of a steel skyscraper. It had now sunk to
relying upon the trade of those who came in off Broadway for a
few minutes. It was dingy and dirty; the walls and plastering
were peeling; the servants were slovenly and fresh. The girl
nodded to the evil-looking man behind the desk, who said:

"Hello, Miss Maud. Just in time. The boys were sending out
for some others."

"They've got a nerve!" laughed Maud. And she led Susan down a
rather long corridor to a door with the letter B upon it. Maud
explained: "This is the swellest suite in the house parlor,
bedroom, bath." She flung open the door, disclosing a
sitting-room in disorder with two young men partly dressed,
seated at a small table on which were bottles, siphons,
matches, remains of sandwiches, boxes of cigarettes--a chaotic
jumble of implements to dissipation giving forth a powerful,
stale odor. Maud burst into a stream of picturesque profanity
which set the two men to laughing. Susan had paused on the
threshold. The shock of this scene had for the moment arrested the
triumphant march of the alcohol through blood and nerve and brain.

"Oh, bite it off!" cried the darker of the two men to Maud,
"and have a drink. Ain't you ashamed to speak so free before
your innocent young lady friend?" He grinned at Susan. "What
Sunday school do you hail from?" inquired he.

The other young man was also looking at Susan; and it was an
arresting and somewhat compelling gaze. She saw that he was
tall and well set up. As he was dressed only in trousers and
a pale blue silk undershirt, the strength of his shoulders,
back and arms was in full evidence. His figure was like that
of the wonderful young prize-fighters she had admired at moving
picture shows to which Drumley had taken her. He had a
singularly handsome face, blond yet remotely suggesting
Italian. He smiled at Susan and she thought she had never seen
teeth more beautiful--pearl-white, regular, even. His eyes
were large and sensuous; smiling though they were, Susan was
ill at ease--for in them there shone the same untamed,
uncontrolled ferocity that one sees in the eyes of a wild
beast. His youth, his good looks, his charm made the sinister
savagery hinted in the smile the more disconcerting. He poured
whiskey from a bottle into each of the two tall glasses, filled
them up with seltzer, extended one toward Susan.

"Shut the door, Queenie," he said to her in a pleasant tone that
subtly mingled mockery and admiration. "And let's drink to love."

"Didn't I do well for you, Freddie?" cried Maud.

"She's my long-sought affinity," declared Freddie with the same
attractive mingling of jest and flattery.

Susan closed the door, accepted the glass, laughed into his
eyes. The whiskey was once more asserting its power. She took
about half the drink before she set the glass down.

The young man said, "Your name's Queenie, mine's Freddie." He
came to her, holding her gaze fast by the piercing look from
his handsome eyes. He put his arms round her and kissed her
full upon the pale, laughing lips. His eyes were still smiling
in pleasant mockery; yet his kiss burned and stung, and the
grip of his arm round her shoulders made her vaguely afraid.
Her smile died away. The grave, searching, wondering
expression reappeared in the violet-gray eyes for a moment.

"You're all right," said he. "Except those pale lips. You're
going to be my girl. That means, if you ever try to get away
from me unless I let you go--I'll kill you--or worse." And he
laughed as if he had made the best joke in the world. But she
saw in his eyes a sparkle that seemed to her to have something
of the malignance of the angry serpent's.

She hastily finished her drink.

Maud was jerking off her clothes, crying, "I want to get out of
these nasty wet rags." The steam heat was full on; the
sitting-room, the whole suite, was intensely warm. Maud hung
her skirt over the back of a chair close to the radiator, took
off her shoes and stockings and put them to dry also. In her
chemise she curled herself on a chair, lit a cigarette and
poured a drink. Her feet were not bad, but neither were they
notably good; she tucked them out of sight. She looked at
Susan. "Get off those wet things," urged she, "or you'll take
your death."

"In a minute," said Susan, but not convincingly.

Freddie forced another drink and a cigarette upon her. As a
girl at home in Sutherland, she had several times--she and
Ruth--smoked cigarettes in secrecy, to try the new London and
New York fashion, announced in the newspapers and the novels.
So the cigarette did not make her uncomfortable. "Look at the
way she's holding it?" cried Maud, and she and the men burst
out laughing. Susan laughed also and, Freddie helping,
practiced a less inexpert manner. Jim, the dark young man with
the sullen heavy countenance, rang for more sandwiches and another
bottle of whiskey. Susan continued to drink but ate nothing.

"Have a sandwich," said Freddie.

"I'm not hungry."

"Well, they say that to eat and drink means to die of paresis,
while to only drink means dying of delirium tremens. I guess
you're right. I'd prefer the d.t.'s. It's quicker and livelier."

Jim sang a ribald song with some amusing comedy business. Maud
told several stories whose only claim to point lay in their
frankness about things not usually spoken. "Don't you tell any
more, Maudie," advised Freddie. "Why is it that a woman never
takes up a story until every man on earth has heard it at least
twice?" The sandwiches disappeared, the second bottle of
whiskey ran low. Maud told story after story of how she had
played this man and that for a sucker--was as full of such tales
and as joyous and self-pleased over them as an honest salesman
telling his delighted, respectable, pew-holding employer how he
has "stuck" this customer and that for a "fancy" price.
Presently Maud again noticed that Susan was in her wet clothes
and cried out about it. Susan pretended to start to undress.
Freddie and Jim suddenly seized her. She struggled, half
laughing; the whiskey was sending into her brain dizzying
clouds. She struggled more fiercely. But it was in vain.

"Gee, you _have_ got a prize, Freddie!" exclaimed Jim at last,
angry. "A regular tartar!"

"A damn handsome one," retorted Freddie. "She's even got feet."

Susan, amid the laughter of the others, darted for the bedroom.
Cowering in a corner, trying to cover herself, she ordered
Freddie to leave her. He laughed, seized her in his iron grip.
She struck at him, bit him in the shoulder. He gave a cry of
pain and drove a savage blow into her cheek. Then he buried
his fingers in her throat and the gleam of his eyes made her
soul quail.

"Don't kill me!" she cried, in the clutch of cowardice for the
first time. It was not death that she feared but the phantom
of things worse than death that can be conjured to the
imagination by the fury of a personality which is utterly
reckless and utterly cruel. "Don't kill me!" she shrieked.
"What the hell are you doing?" shouted Jim from the other room.

"Shut that door," replied Freddie. "I'm going to attend to my
lady friend."

As the door slammed, he dragged Susan by the throat and one arm
to the bed, flung her down. "I saw you were a high stepper the
minute I looked at you," said he, in a pleasant, cooing voice
that sent the chills up and down her spine. "I knew you'd have
to be broke. Well, the sooner it's done, the sooner we'll get
along nicely." His blue eyes were laughing into hers. With
the utmost deliberation he gripped her throat with one hand and
with the other began to slap her, each blow at his full
strength. Her attempts to scream were only gasps. Quickly the
agony of his brutality drove her into unconsciousness. Long
after she had ceased to feel pain, she continued to feel the
impact of those blows, and dully heard her own deep groans.

When she came to her senses, she was lying sprawled upon the
far side of the bed. Her head was aching wildly; her body was
stiff and sore; her face felt as if it were swollen to many
times its normal size. In misery she dragged herself up and
stood on the floor. She went to the bureau and stared at
herself in the glass. Her face was indeed swollen, but not to
actual disfigurement. Under her left eye there was a small cut
from which the blood had oozed to smear and dry upon her left
cheek. Upon her throat were faint bluish finger marks. The
damage was not nearly so great as her throbbing nerves
reported--the damage to her body. But--her soul--it was a
crushed, trampled, degraded thing, lying prone and bleeding to
death. "Shall I kill myself?" she thought. And the answer
came in a fierce protest and refusal from every nerve of her
intensely vital youth. She looked straight into her own
eyes--without horror, without shame, without fear. "You are as
low as the lowest," she said to her image--not to herself but
to her image; for herself seemed spectator merely of that body
and soul aching and bleeding and degraded.

It was the beginning of self-consciousness with her--a curious
kind of self-consciousness--her real self, aloof and far
removed, observing calmly, critically, impersonally the
adventures of her body and the rest of her surface self.

She turned round to look again at the man who had outraged
them. His eyes were open and he was gazing dreamily at her, as
smiling and innocent as a child. When their eyes met, his
smile broadened until he was showing his beautiful teeth. "You
_are_ a beauty!" said he. "Go into the other room and get me a

She continued to look fixedly at him.

Without change of expression he said gently, "Do you want
another lesson in manners?"

She went to the door, opened it, entered the sitting-room. The
other two had pulled open a folding bed and were lying in it,
Jim's head on Maud's bosom, her arms round his neck. Both were
asleep. His black beard had grown out enough to give his face
a dirty and devilish expression. Maud looked far more youthful
and much prettier than when she was awake. Susan put a
cigarette between her lips, lit it, carried a box of cigarettes
and a stand of matches in to Freddie.

"Light one for me," said he.

She obeyed, held it to his lips.

"Kiss me, first."

Her pale lips compressed.

"Kiss me," he repeated, far down in his eyes the vicious gleam
of that boundlessly ferocious cruelty which is mothered not by
rage but by pleasure.

She kissed him on the cheek.

"On the lips," he commanded.

Their lips met, and it was to her as if a hot flame, terrible
yet thrilling, swept round and embraced her whole body.

"Do you love me?" he asked tenderly.

She was silent.

"You love me?" he asked commandingly.

"You can call it that if you like."

"I knew you would. I understand women. The way to make a
woman love is to make her afraid."

She gazed at him. "I am not afraid," she said.

He laughed. "Oh, yes. That's why you do what I say--and
always will."

"No," replied she. "I don't do it because I am afraid, but
because I want to live."

"I should think! . . . You'll be all right in a day or so,"
said he, after inspecting her bruises. "Now, I'll explain to
you what good friends we're going to be."

He propped himself in an attitude of lazy grace, puffed at his
cigarette in silence for a moment, as if arranging what he had
to say. At last he began:

"I haven't any regular business. I wasn't born to work. Only
damn fools work--and the clever man waits till they've got
something, then he takes it away from 'em. You don't want to
work, either."

"I haven't been able to make a living at it," said the girl.
She was sitting cross-legged, a cover draped around her.

"You're too pretty and too clever. Besides, as you say, you
couldn't make a living at it--not what's a living for a woman
brought up as you've been. No, you can't work. So we're going
to be partners."

"No," said Susan. "I'm going to dress now and go away."

Freddie laughed. "Don't be a fool. Didn't I say we were to be
partners? . . . You want to keep on at the sporting business,
don't you?"

Hers was the silence of assent.

"Well--a woman--especially a young one like you--is no good unless
she has someone--some man--behind her. Married or single,
respectable or lively, working or sporting--N. G. without a
man. A woman alone doesn't amount to any more than a rich
man's son."

There had been nothing in Susan's experience to enable her to
dispute this.

"Now, I'm going to stand behind you. I'll see that you don't
get pinched, and get you out if you do. I'll see that you get
the best the city's got if you're sick--and so on. I've got a
pull with the organization. I'm one of Finnegan's lieutenants.
Some day--when I'm older and have served my apprenticeship--I'll
pull off something good. Meanwhile--I manage to live. I always
have managed it--and I never did a stroke of real work since I
was a kid--and never shall. God was mighty good to me when he
put a few brains in this nut of mine."

He settled his head comfortably in the pillow and smiled at his
own thoughts. In spite of herself Susan had been not only
interested but attracted. It is impossible for any human being
to contemplate mystery in any form without being fascinated.
And here was the profoundest mystery she had ever seen. He
talked well, and his mode of talking was that of education, of
refinement even. An extraordinary man, certainly--and in what
a strange way!

"Yes," said he presently, looking at her with his gentle,
friendly smile. "We'll be partners. I'll protect you and
we'll divide what you make."

What a strange creature! Had he--this kindly handsome
youth--done that frightful thing? No--no. It was another
instance of the unreality of the outward life. _He_ had not
done it, any more than she--her real self--had suffered it. Her
reply to his restatement of the partnership was:

"No, thank you. I want nothing to do with it."

"You're dead slow," said he, with mild and patient persuasion.
"How would you get along at your business in this town if you
didn't have a backer? Why, you'd be taking turns at the Island
and the gutter within six months. You'd be giving all your
money to some rotten cop or fly cop who couldn't protect you,
at that. Or you'd work the street for some cheap cadet who'd
beat you up oftener than he'd beat up the men who welched on you."

"I'll look out for myself," persisted she.

"Bless the baby!" exclaimed he, immensely amused. "How lucky
that you found me! I'm going to take care of you in spite of
yourself. Not for nothing, of course. You wouldn't value me
if you got me for nothing. I'm going to help you, and you're
going to help me. You need me, and I need you. Why do you
suppose I took the trouble to tame you? What _you_ want doesn't
go. It's what __I__ want."

He let her reflect on this a while. Then he went on:

"You don't understand about fellows like Jim and me--though
Jim's a small potato beside me, as you'll soon find out.
Suppose you didn't obey orders--just as I do what Finnegan
tells me--just as Finnegan does what the big shout down below
says? Suppose you didn't obey--what then?"

"I don't know," confessed Susan.

"Well, it's time you learned. We'll say, you act stubborn.
You dress and say good-by to me and start out. Do you think
I'm wicked enough to let you make a fool of yourself? Well,
I'm not. You won't get outside the door before your good angel
here will get busy. I'll be telephoning to a fly cop of this
district. And what'll he do? Why, about the time you are
halfway down the block, he'll pinch you. He'll take you to the
station house. And in Police Court tomorrow the Judge'll give
you a week on the Island for being a streetwalker."

Susan shivered. She instinctively glanced toward the window.
The rain was still falling, changing the City of the Sun into
a city of desolation. It looked as though it would never see
the sun again--and her life looked that way, also.

Freddie was smiling pleasantly. He went on:

"You do your little stretch on the Island. When your time's up
I send you word where to report to me. We'll say you don't
come. The minute you set foot on the streets again alone, back
to the Island you go. . . . Now, do you understand,
Queenie?" And he laughed and pulled her over and kissed her and
smoothed her hair. "You're a very superior article--you are,"
he murmured. "I'm stuck on you."

Susan did not resist. She did not care what happened to her.
The more intelligent a trapped animal is, the less resistance
it offers, once it realizes. Helpless--absolutely helpless.
No money--no friends. No escape but death. The sun was
shining. Outside lay the vast world; across the street on a
flagpole fluttered the banner of freedom. Freedom! Was there
any such thing anywhere? Perhaps if one had plenty of
money--or powerful friends. But not for her, any more than for
the masses whose fate of squalid and stupid slavery she was
trying to escape. Not for her; so long as she was helpless she
would simply move from one land of slavery to another. Helpless!
To struggle would not be courageous, but merely absurd.

"If you don't believe me, ask Maud," said Freddie. "I don't
want you to get into trouble. As I told you, I'm stuck on
you." With his cigarette gracefully loose between those almost
too beautifully formed lips of his and with one of his strong
smooth white arms about his head, he looked at her, an
expression of content with himself, of admiration for her in
his handsome eyes. "You don't realize your good luck. But
you will when you find how many girls are crazy to get on the
good side of me. This is a great old town, and nobody amounts
to anything in it unless he's got a pull or is next to somebody
else that has."

Susan's slow reflective nod showed that this statement
explained, or seemed to explain, certain mysteries of life that
had been puzzling her.

"You've got a lot in you," continued he. "That's my opinion,
and I'm a fair judge of yearlings. You're liable to land
somewhere some day when you've struck your gait. . . . If
I had the mon I'd be tempted to set you up in a flat and keep
you all to myself. But I can't afford it. It takes a lot of
cash to keep me going. . . . You'll do well. You won't
have to bother with any but classy gents. I'll see that the
cops put you wise when there's anyone round throwing his money
away. And I can help you, myself. I've got quite a line of
friends among the rich chappies from Fifth Avenue. And I
always let my girls get the benefit of it."

My girls! Susan's mind, recovering now from its daze, seized
upon this phrase. And soon she had fathomed how these two
young men came to be so luxuriously dressed, so well supplied
with money. She had heard of this system under which the girls
in the streets were exploited as thoroughly as the girls in the
houses. In all the earth was there anyone who was suffered to
do for himself or herself without there being a powerful idle
someone else to take away all the proceeds but a bare living?
Helpless! Helpless!

"How many girls have you?" she asked.

"Jealous already!" And he laughed and blew a cloud of smoke
into her face.

She took the quarters he directed--a plain clean room two
flights up at seven dollars a week, in a furnished room house
on West Forty-third Street near Eighth Avenue. She was but a
few blocks from where she and Rod had lived. New York--to a
degree unrivaled among the cities of the world--illustrates in
the isolated lives of its never isolated inhabitants how little
relationship there is between space and actualities of
distance. Wherever on earth there are as many as two human
beings, one may see an instance of the truth. That an infinity
of spiritual solitude can stretch uncrossable even between two
locked in each other's loving arms! But New York's solitudes,
its separations, extend to the surface things. Susan had no
sense of the apparent nearness of her former abode. Her life
again lay in the same streets; but there again came the sense
of strangeness which only one who has lived in New York could
appreciate. The streets were the same; but to her they seemed
as the streets of another city, because she was now seeing in
them none of the things she used to see, was seeing instead
kinds of people, aspects of human beings, modes of feeling and
acting and existing of which she used to have not the faintest
knowledge. There were as many worlds as kinds of people.
Thus, though we all talk to each other as if about the same
world, each of us is thinking of his own kind of world, the
only one he sees. And that is why there can never be sympathy
and understanding among the children of men until there is some
approach to resemblance in their various lots; for the lot
determines the man.

The house was filled with women of her own kind. They were
allowed all privileges. There was neither bath nor stationary
washstand, but the landlady supplied tin tubs on request. "Oh,
Mr. Palmer's recommendation," said she; "I'll give you two days
to pay. My terms are in advance. But Mr. Palmer's a dear
friend of mine."

She was a short woman with a monstrous bust and almost no hips.
Her thin hair was dyed and frizzled, and her voice sounded as
if it found its way out of her fat lips after a long struggle
to pass through the fat of her throat and chest. Her second
chin lay upon her bosom in a soft swollen bag that seemed to be
suspended from her ears. Her eyes were hard and evil, of a
brownish gray. She affected suavity and elaborate politeness;
but if the least thing disturbed her, she became red and coarse
of voice and vile of language. The vile language and the
nature of her business and her private life aside, she would
have compared favorably with anyone in the class of those who
deal--as merchants, as landlords, as boarding-house
keepers--with the desperately different classes of uncertain
income. She was reputed rich. They said she stayed on in
business to avoid lonesomeness and to keep in touch with all
that was going on in the life that had been hers from girlhood.

"And she's a mixer," said Maud to Susan. In response to
Susan's look of inquiry, she went on to explain, "A mixer's a
white woman that keeps a colored man." Maud laughed at Susan's
expression of horror. "You are a greenie," she mocked. "Why,
it's all the rage. Nearly all the girls do--from the
headliners that are kept by the young Fifth Avenue millionaires
down to nine out of ten of the girls of our set that you see in
Broadway. No, I'm not lying. It's the truth. __I__ don't do
it--at least, not yet. I may get round to it."

After the talk with Maud about the realities of life as it is
lived by several hundred thousand of the inhabitants of
Manhattan Island Susan had not the least disposition to test by
defiance the truth of Freddie Palmer's plain statement as to
his powers and her duties. He had told her to go to work that
very Sunday evening, and Jim had ordered Maud to call for her
and to initiate her. And at half-past seven Maud came. At
once she inspected Susan's swollen face.

"Might be a bit worse," she said. "With a veil on, no one'd
notice it."

"But I haven't a veil," said Susan.

"I've got mine with me--pinned to my garter. I haven't been
home since this afternoon." And Maud produced it.

"But I can't wear a veil at night," objected Susan.

"Why not?" said Maud. "Lots of the girls do. A veil's a dandy
hider. Besides, even where a girl's got nothing to hide and
has a face that's all to the good, still it's not a bad idea to
wear a veil. Men like what they can't see. One of the ugliest
girls I know makes a lot of money--all with her veil. She
fixes up her figure something grand. Then she puts on that
veil--one of the kind you think you can see a face through but
you really can't. And she never lifts it till the `come on'
has given up his cash. Then----" Maud laughed. "Gee, but she
has had some hot run-ins after she hoists her curtain!"

"Why don't you wear a veil all the time?" asked Susan.

Maud tossed her head. "What do you take me for? I've got too
good an opinion of my looks for that."

Susan put on the veil. It was not of the kind that is a
disguise. Still, diaphanous though it seemed, it concealed
astonishingly the swelling in Susan's face. Obviously, then,
it must at least haze the features, would do something toward
blurring the marks that go to make identity.

"I shall always wear a veil," said Susan.

"Oh, I don't know," deprecated Maud. "I think you're quite
pretty--though a little too proper and serious looking to suit
some tastes."

Susan had removed veil and hat, was letting down her hair.

"What are you doing that for?" cried Maud impatiently. "We're
late now and----"

"I don't like the way my hair's done," cried Susan.

"Why, it was all right--real swell--good as a hairdresser could
have done."

But Susan went on at her task. Ever since she came East she
had worn it in a braid looped at the back of her head. She
proceeded to change this radically. With Maud forgetting to be
impatient in admiration of her swift fingers she made a
coiffure much more elaborate--wide waves out from her temples
and a big round loose knot behind. She was well content with
the result--especially when she got the veil on again and it
was assisting in the change.

"What do you think?" she said to Maud when she was ready.

"My, but you look different!" exclaimed Maud. "A lot
dressier--and sportier. More--more Broadway."

"That's it--Broadway," said Susan. She had always avoided
looking like Broadway. Now, she would take the opposite tack.
Not loud toilets--for they would defeat her purpose. Not loud
but--just common.

"But," added Maud, "you do look swell about the feet. Where
_do_ you get your shoes? No, I guess it's the feet."

As they sallied forth Maud said, "First, I'll show you our
hotel." And they went to a Raines Law hotel in Forty-second
Street near Eighth Avenue. "The proprietor's a heeler of
Finnegan's. I guess Freddie comes in for some rake-off. He
gives us twenty-five cents of every dollar the man spends,"
explained she. "And if the man opens wine we get two dollars
on every bottle. The best way is to stay behind when the man
goes and collect right away. That avoids rows--though they'd
hardly dare cheat you, being as you're on Freddie's staff.
Freddie's got a big pull. He's way up at the top. I wish to
God I had him instead of Jim. Freddie's giving up fast. They
say he's got some things a lot better'n this now, and that he's
likely to quit this and turn respectable. You ought to treat
me mighty white, seeing what I done for you. I've put you in
right--and that's everything in this here life."

Susan looked all round--looked along the streets stretching
away with their morning suggestion of freedom to fly, freedom
to escape--helpless! "Can't I get a drink?" asked she. There
was a strained look in her eyes, a significant nervousness of
the lips and hands. "I must have a drink."

"Of course. Max has been on a vacation, but I hear he's back.
When I introduce you, he'll probably set 'em up. But I
wouldn't drink if I were you till I went off duty."

"I must have a drink," replied Susan.

"It'll get you down. It got me down. I used to have a fine
sucker--gave me a hundred a week and paid my flat rent. But I
had nothing else to do, so I took to drinking, and I got so
reckless that I let him catch me with my lover that time. But
I had to have somebOdy to spend the money on. Anyhow, it's no
fun having a John."

"A John?" said Susan. "What's that?"

"You are an innocent----!" laughed Maud. "A John's a sucker--a
fellow that keeps a girl. Well, it'd be no fun to have a John
unless you fooled him--would it?"

They now entered the side door of the hotel and ascended the
stairs. A dyspeptic looking man with a red nose that stood out
the more strongly for the sallowness of his skin and the
smallness of his sunken brown eyes had his hands spread upon
the office desk and was leaning on his stiff arms. "Hello,
Max," said Maud in a fresh, condescending way. "How's business?"

"Slow. Always slack on Sundays. How goes it with you, Maudie?"

"So--so. I manage to pick up a living in spite of the damn
chippies. I don't see why the hell they don't go into the
business regular and make something out of it, instead of
loving free. I'm down on a girl that's neither the one thing
nor the other. This is my lady friend, Miss Queenie." She
turned laughingly to Susan. "I never asked your last name."


"My, what a strange name!" cried Maud. Then, as the proprietor
laughed with the heartiness of tradesman at good customer's
jest, she said, "Going to set 'em up, Max?"

He pressed a button and rang a bell loudly. The responding
waiter departed with orders for a whiskey and two lithias.
Maud explained to Susan:

"Max used to be a prize-fighter. He was middleweight champion."

"I've been a lot of things in my days," said Max with pride.

"So I've heard," joked Maud. "They say they've got your
picture at headquarters."

"That's neither here nor there," said Max surlily. "Don't get
too flip." Susan drank her whiskey as soon as it came, and the
glow rushed to her ghastly face. Said Max with great politeness:

"You're having a little neuralgia, ain't you? I see your face
is swhole some."

"Yes," said Susan. "Neuralgia." Maud laughed hilariously.
Susan herself had ceased to brood over the incident. In
conventional lives, visited but rarely by perilous storms, by
disaster, such an event would be what is called concise. But
in life as it is lived by the masses of the people--life in
which awful disease, death, maiming, eviction, fire, violent
event of any and every kind, is part of the daily routine in
that life of the masses there is no time for lingering upon the
weathered storm or for bothering about and repairing its
ravages. Those who live the comparatively languid, the
sheltered life should not use their own standards of what is
delicate and refined, what is conspicuous and strong, when they
judge their fellow beings as differently situated.
Nevertheless, they do--with the result that we find the puny mud
lark criticizing the eagle battling with the hurricane.

When Susan and Maud were in the street again, Susan declared
that she must have another drink. "I can't offer to pay for
one for you," said she to Maud. "I've almost no money. And I
must spend what I've got for whiskey before I--can--can--start in."

Maud began to laugh, looked at Susan, and was almost crying
instead. "I can lend you a fiver," she said. "Life's
hell--ain't it? My father used to have a good
business--tobacco. The trust took it away from him--and then
he drank--and mother, she drank, too. And one day he beat her
so she died--and he ran away. Oh, it's all awful! But I've
stopped caring. I'm stuck on Jim--and another little fellow he
don't know about. For God's sake don't tell him or he'd have
me pinched for doing business free. I get full every night and
raise old Nick. Sometimes I hate Jim. I've tried to kill him
twice when I was loaded. But a girl's got to have a backer
with a pull. And Jim lets me keep a bigger share of what I
make than some fellows. Freddie's pretty good too, they
say--except when he's losing on the races or gets stuck on some
actress that's too classy to be shanghaied--like you was--and
that makes him cough up."

Maud went on to disclose that Jim usually let her have all she
made above thirty dollars a week, and in hard weeks had
sometimes let her beg off with fifteen. Said she:

"I can generally count on about fifteen or twenty for myself.
Us girls that has backers make a lot more money than the girls
that hasn't. They're always getting pinched too--though
they're careful never to speak first to a man. _We_ can go
right up and brace men with the cops looking on. A cop that'd
touch us would get broke--unless we got too gay or robbed
somebody with a pull. But none of our class of girls do any
robbing. There's nothing in it. You get caught sooner or
later, and then you're down and out."

While Susan was having two more drinks Maud talked about
Freddie. She seemed to know little about him, though he was
evidently one of the conspicuous figures. He had started in
the lower East Side--had been leader of one of those gangs that
infest tenement districts--the young men who refuse to submit
to the common lot of stupid and badly paid toil and try to
fight their way out by the quick methods of violence instead of
the slower but surer methods of robbing the poor through a
store of some kind. These gangs were thieves, blackmailers,
kidnapers of young girls for houses of prostitution, repeaters.
Most of them graduated into habitual jailbirds, a few--the
cleverest--became saloon-keepers and politicians and high-class
professional gamblers and race track men.

Freddie, Maud explained, was not much over twenty-five, yet was
already well up toward the place where successful gang leaders
crossed over into the respectable class--that is, grafted in
"big figures." He was a great reader, said Maud, and had taken
courses at some college. "They say he and his gang used to
kill somebody nearly every night. Then he got a lot of money
out of one of his jobs--some say it was a bank robbery and some
say they killed a miner who was drunk with a big roll on him.
Anyhow, Freddie got next to Finnegan--he's worth several
millions that he made out of policy shops and poolrooms, and
contracts and such political things. So he's in right--and he's
got the brains. He's a good one for working out schemes for
making people work hard and bring him their money. And
everybody's afraid of him because he won't stop at nothing and
is too slick to get caught."

Maud broke off abruptly and rose, warned by the glazed look in
Susan's eyes. Susan was so far gone that she had difficulty in
not staggering and did not dare speak lest her uncertain tongue
should betray her. Maud walked her up and down the block
several times to give the fresh air a chance, then led her up
to a man who had looked at them in passing and had paused to
look back. "Want to go have a good time, sweetheart?" said
Maud to the man. He was well dressed, middle-aged, with a full
beard and spectacles, looked as if he might be a banker, or
perhaps a professor in some college.

"How much?" asked he.

"Five for a little while. Come along, sporty. Take me or my
lady friend."

"How much for both of you?"

"Ten. We don't cut rates. Take us both, dearie. I know a
hotel where it'd be all right."

"No. I guess I'll take your lady friend." He had been peering
at Susan through his glasses. "And if she treats me well, I'll
take her again. You're sure you're all right? I'm a married man."

"We've both been home visiting for a month, and walking the
chalk. My, but ma's strict! We got back tonight," said Maud
glibly. "Go ahead, Queenie. I'll be chasing up and down here,
waiting." In a lower tone: "Get through with him quick. Strike
him for five more after you get the first five. He's a blob."

When Susan came slinking through the office of the hotel in the
wake of the man two hours later, Maud sprang from the little
parlor. "How much did you get?" she asked in an undertone.

Susan looked nervously at the back of the man who was descending
the stairway to the street. "He said he'd pay me next time,"
she said. "I didn't know what to do. He was polite and----"

Maud seized her by the arm. "Come along!" she cried. As she
passed the desk she said to the clerk, "A dirty bilker! Tryin'
to kiss his way out!"

"Give him hell," said the clerk.

Maud, still gripping Susan, overtook the man at the sidewalk.
"What do you mean by not paying my lady friend?" she shouted.

"Get out!" said the man in a low tone, with an uneasy glance
round. "If you annoy me I'll call the police."

"If you don't cough up mighty damn quick," cried Maud so loudly
that several passers-by stopped, "I'll do the calling myself,
you bum, and have you pinched for insulting two respectable
working girls." And she planted herself squarely before him.
Susan drew back into the shadow of the wall.

Up stepped Max, who happened to be standing outside his place.
"What's the row about?" he demanded.

"These women are trying to blackmail me," said the man, sidling away.

Maud seized him by the arm. "Will you cough up or shall I
scream?" she cried.

"Stand out of the way, girls," said Max savagely, "and let me
take a crack at the----."

The man dived into his pocket, produced a bill, thrust it
toward Susan. Maud saw that it was a five. "That's only
five," she cried. "Where's the other five?"

"Five was the bargain," whined the man.

"Do you want me to push in your blinkers, you damned old bilk,
you?" cried Max, seizing him violently by the arm. The man
visited his pocket again, found another five, extended the two.
Maud seized them. "Now, clear out!" said Max. "I hate to let
you go without a swift kick in the pants."

Maud pressed the money on Susan and thanked Max. Said Max,
"Don't forget to tell Freddie what I done for his girl."

"She'll tell him, all right," Maud assured him.

As the girls went east through Forty-second Street, Susan said,
"I'm afraid that man'll lay for us."

"Lay for us," laughed Maud. "He'll run like a cat afire if he
ever sights us again."

"I feel queer and faint," said Susan. "I must have a drink."

"Well--I'll go with you. But I've got to get busy. I want a
couple of days off this week for my little fellow, so I must
hustle. You let that dirty dog keep you too long. Half an
hour's plenty enough. Always make 'em cough up in advance,
then hustle 'em through. And don't listen to their guff about
wanting to see you again if you treat 'em right. There's
nothing in it."

They went into a restaurant bar near Broadway. Susan took two
drinks of whiskey raw in rapid succession; Maud took one
drink--a green mint with ice. "While you was fooling away time
with that thief," said she, "I had two men--got five from one,
three from the other. The five-dollar man took a three-dollar
room--that was seventy-five for me. The three-dollar man
wouldn't stand for more than a dollar room--so I got only a
quarter there. But he set 'em up to two rounds of drinks--a
quarter more for me. So I cleared nine twenty-five. And you'd
'a' got only your twenty-five cents commission on the room if
it hadn't been for me. You forgot to collect your commission.
Well, you can get it next time. Only I wouldn't _ask_ for it,
Max was so nice in helping out. He'll give you the quarter."

When Susan had taken her second stiff drink, her eyes were
sparkling and she was laughing recklessly. "I want a
cigarette," she said.

"You feel bully, don't you?"

"I'm ready for anything," declared she giddily. "I don't give
a damn. I'm over the line. I--_don't_--give--a--damn!"

"I used to hate the men I went up with," said Maud, "but now
I hardly look at their faces. You'll soon be that way. Then
you'll only drink for fun. Drink--and dope--they are about the
only fun we have--them and caring about some fellow."

"How many girls has Freddie got?"

"Search me. Not many that he'd speak to himself. Jim's his
wardman--does his collecting for him. Freddie's above most of
the men in this business. The others are about like Jim--tough
straight through, but Freddie's a kind of a pullman. The other
men-even Jim--hate him for being such a snare and being able to
hide it that he's in such a low business. They'd have done him
up long ago, if they could. But he's to wise for them. That's
why they have to do what he says. I tell you, you're in
right, for sure. You'll have Freddie eating out of your hand,
if you play a cool hand."

Susan ordered another drink and a package of Egyptian
cigarettes. "They don't allow ladies to smoke in here," said
Maud. "We'll go to the washroom."

And in the washroom they took a few hasty puffs before sallying
forth again. Usually Sunday night was dull, all the men having
spent their spare money the night before, and it being a bad
night for married men to make excuses for getting away from
home. Maud explained that, except "out-of-towners," the
married men were the chief support of their profession--"and
most of the cornhuskers are married men, too." But Susan had
the novice's luck. When she and Maud met Maud's "little
gentleman friend" Harry Tucker at midnight and went to
Considine's for supper, Susan had taken in "presents" and
commissions twenty-nine dollars and a half. Maud had not done
so badly, herself; her net receipts were twenty-two fifty.

She would not let Susan pay any part of the supper bill, but
gave Harry the necessary money. "Here's a five," said she,
pressing the bill into his hand, "and keep the change."

And she looked at him with loving eyes of longing. He was a
pretty, common-looking fellow, a mere boy, who clerked in a
haberdashery in the neighborhood. As he got only six dollars
a week and had to give five to his mother who sewed, he could
not afford to spend money on Maud, and she neither expected nor
wished it. When she picked him up, he like most of his
fellow-clerks had no decent clothing but the suit he had to
have to "make a front" at the store. Maud had outfitted him
from the skin with the cheap but showy stuff exhibited for just
such purposes in the Broadway windows. She explained
confidentially to Susan:

"It makes me sort of feel that I own him. Then, too, in love
there oughtn't to be any money. If he paid, I'd be as cold to
him as I am to the rest. The only reason I like Jim at all is
I like a good beating once in a while. It's exciting. Jim--he
treats me like the dirt under his feet. And that's what we
are--dirt under the men's feet. Every woman knows it, when it
comes to a showdown between her and a man. As my pop used to
say, the world was made for men, not for women. Still, our
graft ain't so bum, at that--if we work it right."

Freddie called on Susan about noon the next day. She was still
in bed. He was dressed in the extreme of fashion, was wearing
a chinchilla-lined coat. He looked the idle, sportively
inclined son of some rich man in the Fifth Avenue district. He
was having an affair with a much admired young actress--was
engaged in it rather as a matter of vanity and for the
fashionable half-world associations into which it introduced
him rather than from any present interest in the lady. He
stood watching Susan with a peculiar expression--one he might
perhaps have found it hard to define himself. He bent over her
and carelessly brushed her ear with his lips. "How did your
royal highness make out?" inquired he.

"The money's in the top bureau drawer," replied she, the covers
up to her eyes and her eyes closed.

He went to the bureau, opened the drawer, with his gloved hands
counted the money. As he counted his eyes had a look in them
that was strangely like jealous rage. He kept his back toward
her for some time after he had crossed to look at the money.
When he spoke it was to say:

"Not bad. And when you get dressed up a bit and lose your
stage fright, you'll do a smashing business. I'll not take my
share of this. I had a good run with the cards last night.
Anyhow, you've got to pay your rent and buy some clothes. I've
got to invest something in my new property. It's badly run
down. You'll get busy again tonight, of course. Never lay
off, lady, unless the weather's bad. You'll find you won't
average more than twenty good business days a month in summer
and fall, and only about ten in winter and spring, when it's
cold and often lots of bad weather in the afternoons and
evenings. That means hustle."

No sign from Susan. He sat on the bed and pulled the covers
away from her face. "What are you so grouchy about, pet?" he
inquired, chucking her under the chin.


"Too much booze, I'll bet. Well, sleep your grouch off. I've
got a date with Finnegan. The election's coming on, and I have
to work--lining up the vote and getting the repeaters ready.
It all means good money for me. Look out about the booze,
lady. It'll float you into trouble--trouble with me, I mean."
And he patted her bare shoulders, laughed gently, went to the door.
He paused there, struggled with an impulse to turn--departed. VII

BUT she did not "look out about the booze." Each morning she
awoke in a state of depression so horrible that she wondered
why she could not bring herself to plan suicide. Why was it?
Her marriage? Yes--and she paid it its customary tribute of a
shudder. Yes, her marriage had made all things thereafter
possible. But what else? Lack of courage? Lack of
self-respect? Was it not always assumed that a woman in her
position, if she had a grain of decent instinct, would rush
eagerly upon death? Was she so much worse than others? Or was
what everybody said about these things--everybody who had
experience--was it false, like nearly everything else she had
been taught? She did not understand; she only knew that hope
was as strong within her as health itself--and that she did not
want to die--and that at present she was helpless.

One evening the man she was with--a good-looking and unusually
interesting young chap--suddenly said:

"What a heart action you have got! Let me listen to that again."

"Is it all wrong?" asked Susan, as he pressed his ear against
her chest.

"You ask that as if you rather hoped it was."

"I do--and I don't."

"Well," said he, after listening for a third time, "you'll
never die of heart trouble. I never heard a heart with such a
grand action--like a big, powerful pump, built to last forever.
You're never ill, are you?"

"Not thus far."

"And you'll have a hard time making yourself ill.

Health? Why, your health must be perfect. Let me see." And
he proceeded to thump and press upon her chest with an
expertness that proclaimed the student of medicine. He was all
interest and enthusiasm, took a pencil and, spreading a sheet upon
her chest over her heart, drew its outlines. "There!" he cried.

"What is it?" asked Susan. "I don't understand."

The young man drew a second and much smaller heart within the
outline of hers. "This," he explained, "is about the size of
an ordinary heart. You can see for yourself that yours is
fully one-fourth bigger than the normal."

"What of it?" said Susan.

"Why, health and strength--and vitality--courage--hope--all
one-fourth above the ordinary allowance. Yes, more than a
fourth. I envy you. You ought to live long, stay young until
you're very old--and get pretty much anything you please. You
don't belong to this life. Some accident, I guess. Every once
in a while I run across a case something like yours. You'll go
back where you belong. This is a dip, not a drop."

"You sound like a fortune-teller." She was smiling mockingly.
But in truth she had never in all her life heard words that
thrilled her so, that heartened her so.

"I am. A scientific fortune-teller. And what that kind says
comes true, barring accidents. As you're not ignorant and
careless this life of yours isn't physiologically bad. On the
contrary, you're out in the open air much of the time and get
the splended exercise of walking--a much more healthful life,
in the essential ways, than respectable women lead. They're
always stuffing, and rumping it. They never move if they can
help. No, nothing can stop you but death--unless you're far less
intelligent than you look. Oh, yes--death and one other thing."

"Drink." And he looked shrewdly at her.

But drink she must. And each day, as soon as she dressed and
was out in the street, she began to drink, and kept it up until
she had driven off the depression and had got herself into the
mood of recklessness in which she found a certain sardonic
pleasure in outraging her own sensibilities. There is a stage
in a drinking career when the man or the woman becomes depraved
and ugly as soon as the liquor takes effect. But she was far
from this advanced stage. Her disposition was, if anything,
more sweet and generous when she was under the influence of
liquor. The whiskey--she almost always drank whiskey--seemed
to act directly and only upon the nerves that ached and
throbbed when she was sober, the nerves that made the life she
was leading seem loathsome beyond the power of habit to
accustom. With these nerves stupefied, her natural gayety
asserted itself, and a fondness for quiet and subtle
mockery--her indulgence in it did not make her popular with
vain men sufficiently acute to catch her meaning.

By observation and practice she was soon able to measure the
exact amount of liquor that was necessary to produce the proper
state of intoxication at the hour for going "on duty." That
gayety of hers was of the surface only. Behind it her real
self remained indifferent or somber or sardonic, according to
her mood of the day. And she had the sense of being in the
grasp of a hideous, fascinating nightmare, of being dragged
through some dreadful probation from which she would presently
emerge to ascend to the position she would have earned by her
desperate fortitude. The past--unreal. The present--a waking
dream. But the future--ah, the future!

He has not candidly explored far beneath the surface of things
who does not know the strange allure, charm even, that many
loathsome things possess. And drink is peculiarly fitted to
bring out this perverse quality--drink that blurs all the
conventionalities, even those built up into moral ideas by
centuries and ages of unbroken custom. The human animal, for
all its pretenses of inflexibility, is almost infinitely
adaptable--that is why it has risen in several million years of
evolution from about the humblest rank in the mammalian family
to overlordship of the universe. Still, it is doubtful if,
without drink to help her, a girl of Susan's intelligence and
temperament would have been apt to endure. She would probably
have chosen the alternative--death. Hundreds, perhaps
thousands, of girls, at least her equals in sensibility, are
caught in the same calamity every year, tens of thousands, ever
more and more as our civilization transforms under the pressure
of industrialism, are caught in the similar calamities of
soul-destroying toil. And only the few survive who have
perfect health and abounding vitality. Susan's iron strength
enabled her to live; but it was drink that enabled her to
endure. Beyond question one of the greatest blessings that
could now be conferred upon the race would be to cure it of the
drink evil. But at the same time, if drink were taken away
before the causes of drink were removed, there would be an
appalling increase in suicide--in insanity, in the general
total of human misery. For while drink retards the growth of
intelligent effort to end the stupidities in the social system,
does it not also help men and women to bear the consequences of
those stupidities? Our crude and undeveloped new civilization,
strapping men and women and children to the machines and
squeezing all the energy out of them, all the capacity for
vital life, casts them aside as soon as they are useless but
long before they are dead. How unutterably wretched they would
be without drink to give them illusions!

Susan grew fond of cigarettes, fond of whiskey; to the rest
she after a few weeks became numb--no new or strange phenomenon
in a world where people with a cancer or other hideous running
sore or some gross and frightful deformity of fat or
excrescence are seen laughing, joining freely and comfortably
in the company of the unafflicted. In her affliction Susan at
least saw only those affected like herself--and that helped not
a little, helped the whiskey to confuse and distort her outlook
upon life.

The old Cartesian formula--"I think, therefore I am"--would
come nearer to expressing a truth, were it reversed--"I am,
therefore I think." Our characters are compressed, and our
thoughts bent by our environment. And most of us are
unconscious of our slavery because our environment remains
unchanged from birth until death, and so seems the whole
universe to us.

In spite of her life, in spite of all she did to disguise
herself, there persisted in her face--even when she was dazed or
giddied or stupefied with drink--the expression of the woman on
the right side of the line. Whether it was something in her
character, whether it was not rather due to superiority of
breeding and intelligence, would be difficult to say. However,
there was the _different_ look that irritated many of the other
girls, interfered with her business and made her feel a
hypocrite. She heard so much about the paleness of her lips
that she decided to end that comment by using paint--the
durable kind Ida had recommended. When her lips flamed
carmine, a strange and striking effect resulted. The sad sweet
pensiveness of her eyes--the pallor of her clear skin--then,
that splash of bright red, artificial, bold, defiant--the
contrast of the combination seemed somehow to tell the story of
her life her past no less than her present. And when her
beauty began to come back--for, hard though her life was, it
was a life of good food, of plenty of sleep, of much open air;
so it put no such strain upon her as had the life of the
factory and the tenement--when her beauty came back, the effect
of that contrast of scarlet splash against the sad purity of
pallid cheeks and violet-gray eyes became a mark of
individuality, of distinction. It was not long before Susan
would have as soon thought of issuing forth with her body
uncovered as with her lips unrouged.

She turned away from men who sought her a second time. She was
difficult to find, she went on "duty" only enough days each
week to earn a low average of what was expected from the girls
by their protectors. Yet she got many unexpected presents--and
so had money to lend to the other girls, who soon learned how
"easy" she was.

Maud, sometimes at her own prompting, sometimes prompted by
Jim, who was prompted by Freddie--warned her every few days that
she was skating on the thinnest of ice. But she went her way.
Not until she accompanied a girl to an opium joint to discover
whether dope had the merits claimed for it as a deadener of
pain and a producer of happiness--not until then did Freddie
come in person.

"I hear," said he and she wondered whether he had heard from
Max or from loose-tongued Maud--"that you come into the hotel
so drunk that men sometimes leave you right away again--go
without paying you."

"I must drink," said Susan.

"You must _stop_ drink," retorted he, amiable in his terrible
way. "If you don't, I'll have you pinched and sent up.
That'll bring you to your senses."

"I must drink," said Susan.

"Then I must have you pinched," said he with his mocking laugh.
"Don't be a fool," he went on. "You can make money enough to
soon buy the right sort of clothes so that I can afford to be
seen with you. I'd like to take you out once in a while and
give you a swell time. But what'd we look like together--with
you in those cheap things out of bargain troughs? Not that you
don't look well--for you do. But the rest of you isn't up to
your feet and to the look in your face. The whole thing's got to
be right before a lady can sit opposite _me_ in Murray's or Rector's."

"All I ask is to be let alone," said Susan.

"That isn't playing square--and you've got to play square. What
I want is to set you up in a nice parlor trade--chaps from the
college and the swell clubs and hotels. But I can't do
anything for you as long as you drink this way. You'll have to
stay on the streets."

"That's where I want to stay."

"Well, there's something to be said for the streets," Freddie
admitted. "If a woman don't intend to make sporting her life
business, she don't want to get up among the swells of the
profession, where she'd become known and find it hard to
sidestep. Still, even in the street you ought to make a
hundred, easy--and not go with any man that doesn't suit you."

"Any man that doesn't suit me," said Susan. And, after a
pause, she said it again: "Any man that doesn't suit me."

The young man, with his shrewdness of the street-graduate and
his sensitiveness of the Italian, gave her an understanding
glance. "You look as if you couldn't decide whether to laugh
or cry. I'd try to laugh if I was you."

She had laughed as he spoke.

Freddie nodded approval. "That sounded good to me. You're
getting broken in. Don't take yourself so seriously. After
all, what are you doing? Why, learning to live like a man."

She found this new point of view interesting--and true, too.
Like a man--like all men, except possibly a few--not enough
exceptions to change the rule. Like a man; getting herself
hardened up to the point where she could take part in the cruel
struggle on equal terms with the men. It wasn't their
difference of body any more than it was their difference of
dress that handicapped women; it was the idea behind skirt and
sex--and she was getting rid of that. . . .

The theory was admirable; but it helped her not at all in
practice. She continued to keep to the darkness, to wait in
the deep doorways, so far as she could in her "business hours,"
and to repulse advances in the day time or in public
places--and to drink. She did not go again to the opium joint,
and she resisted the nightly offers of girls and their
"gentlemen friends" to try cocaine in its various forms.
"Dope," she saw, was the medicine of despair. And she was far
from despair. Had she not youth? Had she not health and
intelligence and good looks? Some day she would have finished
her apprenticeship. Then--the career!

Freddie let her alone for nearly a month, though she was
earning less than fifty dollars a week--which meant only thirty
for him. He had never "collected" from her directly, but
always through Jim; and she had now learned enough of the
methods of the system of which she was one of the thousands of
slaves to appreciate that she was treated by Jim with unique
consideration. Not only by the surly and brutal Jim, but also
by the police who oppressed in petty ways wherever they dared
because they hated Freddie's system which took away from them
a part of the graft they regarded as rightfully theirs.

Yes, rightfully theirs. And anyone disposed to be critical of
police morality--or of Freddie Palmer morality--in this matter
of graft would do well to pause and consider the source of his
own income before he waxes too eloquent and too virtuous.
Graft is one of those general words that mean everything and
nothing. What is graft and what is honest income? Just where
shall we draw the line between rightful exploitation of our
fellow-beings through their necessities and their ignorance of
their helplessness, and wrongful exploitation? Do attempts to
draw that line resolve down to making virtuous whatever I may
appropriate and vicious whatever is appropriated in ways other
than mine? And if so are not the police and the Palmers
entitled to their day in the moral court no less than the
tariff-baron and market-cornerer, the herder and driver of wage
slaves, the retail artists in cold storage filth, short weight
and shoddy goods? However, "we must draw the line somewhere"
or there will be no such thing as morality under our social
system. So why not draw it at anything the other fellow does
to make money. In adopting this simple rule, we not only
preserve the moralities from destruction but also establish our
own virtue and the other fellow's villainy. Truly, never is
the human race so delightfully, so unconsciously, amusing as
when it discusses right and wrong.

When she saw Freddie again, he was far from sober. He showed
it by his way of beginning. Said he:

"I've got to hand you a line of rough talk, Queenie. I took on
this jag for your especial benefit," said he. "I'm a fool
about you and you take advantage of it. That's bad for both of
us. . . . You're drinking as much as ever?"

"More," replied she. "It takes more and more."

"How can you expect to get on?" cried he, exasperated.

"As I told you, I couldn't make a cent if I didn't drink."

Freddie stared moodily at her, then at the floor--they were in
her room. Finally he said:

"You get the best class of men. I put my swell friends on to
where you go slipping by, up and down in the shadow--and it's
all they can do to find you. The best class of men--men all
the swell respectable girls in town are crazy to hook up
with--those of 'em that ain't married already. If you're good
enough for those chaps they ought to be good enough for you.
Yet some of 'em complain to me that they get thrown down--and
others kick because you were too full--and, damn it, you act so
queer that you scare 'em away. What am I to do about it?"

She was silent.

"I want you to promise me you'll take a brace."

No answer.

"You won't promise?"

"No--because I don't intend to. I'm doing the best I can."

"You think I'm a good thing. You think I'll take anything off
you, because I'm stuck on you--and appreciate that you ain't on
the same level with the rest of these heifers. Well--I'll not
let any woman con me. I never have. I never will. And I'll
make you realize that you're not square with me. I'll let you
get a taste of life as it is when a girl hasn't got a friend
with a pull."

"As you please," said Susan indifferently. "I don't in the
least care what happens to me."

"We'll see about that," cried he, enraged. "I'll give you a
week to brace up in."

The look he shot at her by way of finish to his sentence was
menacing enough. But she was not disturbed; these signs of
anger tended to confirm her in her sense of security from him.
For it was wholly unlike the Freddie Palmer the rest of the
world knew, to act in this irresolute and stormy way. She knew
that Palmer, in his fashion, cared for her--better still, liked
her--liked to talk with her, liked to show--and to develop--the
aspiring side of his interesting, unusual nature for her benefit.

A week passed, during which she did not see him. But she heard
that he was losing on both the cards and the horses and was
drinking wildly. A week--ten days--then----

One night, as she came out of a saloon a block or so down Seventh
Avenue from Forty-second, a fly cop seized her by the arm.

"Come along," said he roughly. "You're drinking and
soliciting. I've got to clear the streets of some of these
tarts. It's got so decent people can't move without falling
over 'em."

Susan had not lived in the tenement districts where the
ignorance and the helplessness and the lack of a voice that can
make itself heard among the ruling classes make the sway of the
police absolute and therefore tyrannical--she had not lived
there without getting something of that dread and horror of the
police which to people of the upper classes seems childish or
evidence of secret criminal hankerings. And this nervousness
had latterly been increased to terror by what she had learned
from her fellow-outcasts--the hideous tales of oppression, of
robbery, of bodily and moral degradation. But all this terror
had been purely fanciful, as any emotion not of experience
proves to be when experience evokes the reality. At that
touch, at the sound of those rough words--at that _reality_ of
the terror she had imagined from the days when she went to work
at Matson's and to live with the Brashears, she straightway
lost consciousness. When her senses returned she was in a
cell, lying on a wooden bench.

There must have been some sort of wild struggle; for her
clothes were muddy, her hat was crushed into shapelessness, her
veil was so torn that she had difficulty in arranging it to act
as any sort of concealment. Though she had no mirror at which
to discover the consolation, she need have had no fear of being
recognized, so distorted were all her features by the frightful
paroxysms of grief that swept and ravaged her body that night.
She fainted again when they led her out to put her in the wagon.

She fainted a third time when she heard her name--"Queenie
Brown"--bellowed out by the court officer. They shook her into
consciousness, led her to the court-room. She was conscious of
a stifling heat, of a curious crowd staring at her with eyes
which seemed to bore red hot holes into her flesh. As she
stood before the judge, with head limp upon her bosom, she
heard in her ear a rough voice bawling, "You're discharged.
The judge says don't come here again." And she was pushed
through an iron gate. She walked unsteadily up the aisle,
between two masses of those burning-eyed human monsters. She
felt the cold outside air like a vast drench of icy water flung
upon her. If it had been raining, she might have gone toward
the river. But than{sic} that day New York had never been more
radiantly the City of the Sun. How she got home she never
knew, but late in the afternoon she realized that she was in
her own room.

Hour after hour she lay upon the bed, body and mind inert.
Helpless--no escape--no courage to live--yet no wish to die.
How much longer would it last? Surely the waking from this
dream must come soon.

About noon the next day Freddie came. "I let you off easy,"
said he, sitting on the bed upon which she was lying dressed as
when she came in the day before. "Have you been drinking again?"

"No," she muttered.

"Well--don't. Next time, a week on the Island. . . . Did you hear?"


"Don't turn me against you. I'd hate to have to make an awful
example of you."

"I must drink," she repeated in the same stolid way.

He abruptly but without shock lifted her to a sitting position.
His arm held her body up; her head was thrown back and her face
was looking calmly at him. She realized that he had been
drinking--drinking hard. Her eyes met his terrible eyes
without flinching. He kissed her full upon the lips. With her
open palm she struck him across the cheek, bringing the red
fierily to its smooth fair surface. The devil leaped into his
eyes, the devil of cruelty and lust. He smiled softly and
wickedly. "I see you've forgotten the lesson I gave you three
months ago. You've got to be taught to be afraid all over again."

"I _am_ not afraid," said she. "I _was_ not afraid. You can't
make me afraid."

"We'll see," murmured he. And his fingers began to caress her
round smooth throat.

"If you ever strike me again," she said quietly, "I'll kill you."

His eyes flinched for an instant--long enough to let her know
his innermost secret. "I want you--I want _you_--damn you," he
said, between his clinched teeth. "You're the first one I
couldn't get. There's something in you I can't get!"

"That's _me_," she replied.

"You hate me, don't you?"


"Then you love me?"

"No. I care nothing about you."

He let her drop back to the bed, went to the window, stood
looking out moodily. After a while he said without turning:

"My mother kept a book shop--on the lower East Side. She
brought me up at home. At home!" And he laughed sardonically.
"She hated me because I looked like my father."

Silence, then he spoke again:

"You've never been to my flat. I've got a swell place. I want
to cut out this part of the game. I can get along without it.
You're going to move in with me, and stop this street business.
I make good money. You can have everything you want."

"I prefer to keep on as I am."

"What's the difference? Aren't you mine whenever I want you?"

"I prefer to be free."

"_Free!_ Why, you're not free. Can't I send you to the Island
any time I feel like it--just as I can the other girls?"

"Yes--you can do that. But I'm free, all the same."

"No more than the other girls."


"What do you mean?"

"Unless you understand, I couldn't make you see it," she said.
She was sitting on the edge of the bed, doing up her hair,
which had partly fallen down. "I think you do understand."

"What in the hell do you want, anyhow?" he demanded.

"If I knew--do you suppose I'd be here?"

He watched her with baffled, longing eyes. "What is it," he
muttered, "that's so damn peculiar about you?"

It was the question every shrewd observant person who saw her
put to himself in one way or another; and there was excellent
reason why this should have been.

Life has a certain set of molds--lawyer, financier, gambler,
preacher, fashionable woman, prostitute, domestic woman,
laborer, clerk, and so on through a not extensive list of
familiar types with which we all soon become acquainted. And
to one or another of these patterns life fits each of us as we
grow up. Not one in ten thousand glances into human faces is
arrested because it has lit upon a personality that cannot be
immediately located, measured, accounted for. The reason for
this sterility of variety which soon makes the world rather
monotonous to the seeing eye is that few of us are born with
any considerable amount of personality, and what little we have
is speedily suppressed by a system of training which is
throughout based upon an abhorrence of originality. We obey
the law of nature--and nature so abhors variety that, whenever
a variation from a type happens, she tries to kill it, and,
that failing, reproduces it a myriad times to make it a type.
When an original man or woman appears and all the strenuous
effort to suppress him or her fails, straightway spring up a
thousand imitators and copiers, and the individuality is lost
in the school, the fashion, the craze. We have not the courage
to be ourselves, even where there is anything in us that might
be developed into something distinctive enough to win us the
rank of real identity. Individuality--distinction--where it
does exist, almost never shows until experience brings it
out--just as up to a certain stage the embryo of any animal is
like that of every other animal, though there is latent in it
the most positive assertion of race and sex, of family, type,
and so on.

Susan had from childhood possessed certain qualities of
physical beauty, of spiritedness, of facility in mind and
body--the not uncommon characteristic of the child that is the
flower of passionate love. But now there was beginning to show
in her a radical difference from the rest of the crowd pouring
through the streets of the city. It made the quicker observers
in the passing throng turn the head for a second and wondering
glance. Most of them assumed they had been stirred by her
superiority of face and figure. But striking faces and figures
of the various comely types are frequent in the streets of New
York and of several other American cities. The truth was that
they were interested by her expression--an elusive expression
telling of a soul that was being moved to its depths by
experience which usually finds and molds mere passive material.
This expression was as evident in her mouth as in her eyes, in
her profile as in her full face. And as she sat there on the
edge of the bed twisting up her thick dark hair, it was this
expression that disconcerted Freddie Palmer, for the first time
in all his contemptuous dealings with the female sex. In his
eyes was a ferocious desire to seize her and again try to
conquer and to possess.

She had become almost unconscious of his presence. He startled
her by suddenly crying, "Oh, you go to hell!" and flinging from
the room, crashing the door shut behind him.

Maud had grown tired of the haberdasher's clerk and his
presumptions upon her frank fondness which he wholly
misunderstood. She had dropped him for a rough looking
waiter-singer in a basement drinking place. He was beating her
and taking all the money she had for herself, and was spending
it on another woman, much older than Maud and homely--and Maud
knew, and complained of him bitterly to everyone but himself.
She was no longer hanging round Susan persistently, having been
discouraged by the failure of her attempts at intimacy with a
girl who spent nearly all her spare time at reading or at plays
and concerts. Maud was now chumming with a woman who preyed
upon the patrons of a big Broadway hotel--she picked them up
near the entrance, robbed them, and when they asked the hotel
detectives to help them get back their stolen money, the
detectives, who divided with her, frightened them off by saying
she was a mulatto and would compel them to make a public
appearance against her in open court. This woman, older and
harder than most of the girls, though of quiet and refined
appearance and manner, was rapidly dragging Maud down. Also,
Maud's looks were going because she ate irregularly all kinds
of trash, and late every night ate herself full to bursting and
drank herself drunk to stupefaction.

Susan's first horror of the men she met--men of all
classes--was rapidly modified into an inconsistent, therefore
characteristically human, mingling of horror and tolerance.
Nobody, nothing, was either good or bad, but all veered like
weathercocks in the shifting wind. She decided that people
were steadily good only where their lot happened to be cast in
a place in which the good wind held steadily, and that those
who were usually bad simply had the misfortune to have to live
where the prevailing winds were bad.

For instance, there was the handsome, well educated, well
mannered young prize-fighter, Ned Ballou, who was Estelle's
"friend." Ballou, big and gentle and as incapable of bad humor
as of constancy or of honesty about money matters, fought under
the name of Joe Geary and was known as Upper Cut Joe because
usually, in the third round, never later than the fifth, he
gave the knockout to his opponent by a cruelly swift and savage
uppercut. He had educated himself marvelously well. But he
had been brought up among thieves and had by some curious freak
never learned to know what a moral sense was, which is one--and
a not unattractive--step deeper down than those who know what
a moral sense is but never use it. At supper in Gaffney's he
related to Susan and Estelle how he had won his greatest
victory--the victory of Terry the Cyclone, that had lifted him
up into the class of secure money-makers. He told how he
always tried to "rattle" his opponent by talking to him, by
pouring out in an undertone a stream of gibes, jeers, insults.
The afternoon of the fight Terry's first-born had died, but the
money for the funeral expenses and to save the wife from the
horrors and dangers of the free wards had to be earned. Joe
Geary knew that he must win this fight or drop into the working
or the criminal class. Terry was a "hard one"; so
circumstances compelled, those desperate measures which great
men, from financiers and generals down to prize-fighters, do
not shrink from else they would not be great, but small.

As soon as he was facing Terry in the ring--Joe so he related
with pride in his cleverness--began to "guy"--"Well, you Irish
fake--so the kid's dead--eh? Who was its pa, say?--the dirty
little bastard--or does the wife know which one it was----" and
so on. And Terry, insane with grief and fury, fought wild--and
Joe became a champion.

As she listened Susan grew cold with horror and with hate.
Estelle said:

"Tell the rest of it, Joe."

"Oh, that was nothing," replied he.

When he strolled away to talk with some friends Estelle told
"the rest" that was "nothing." The championship secure, Joe
had paid all Terry's bills, had supported Terry and his wife
for a year, had relapsed into old habits and "pulled off a job"
of safe-cracking because, the prize-fighting happening to pay
poorly, he would have had a default on the payments for a month
or so. He was caught, did a year on the Island before his
"pull" could get him out. And all the time he was in the "pen"
he so arranged it with his friends that the invalid Terry and
his invalid wife did not suffer. And all this he had done not
because he had a sense of owing Terry, but because he was of
the "set" in which it is the custom to help anybody who happens
to need it, and aid begun becomes an obligation to "see it through."

It was an extreme case of the moral chaos about her--the chaos
she had begun to discover when she caught her aunt and Ruth
conspiring to take Sam away from her.

What a world! If only these shifting, usually evil winds of
circumstance could be made to blow good!

A few evenings after the arrest Maud came for Susan, persuaded
her to go out. They dined at about the only good restaurant
where unescorted women were served after nightfall. Afterward
they went "on duty." It was fine overhead and the air was
cold and bracing--one of those marvelous New York winter nights
which have the tonic of both sea and mountains and an
exhilaration, in addition, from the intense bright-burning life
of the mighty city. For more than a week there had been a
steady downpour of snow, sleet and finally rain. Thus, the
women of the streets had been doing almost no business. There
was not much money in sitting in drinking halls and the back
rooms of saloons and picking up occasional men; the best trade
was the men who would not venture to show themselves in such
frankly disreputable places, but picked out women in the
crowded streets and followed them to quiet dark places to make
the arrangements--men stimulated by good dinners, or, later on,
in the evening, those who left parties of elegant
respectability after theater or opera. On this first night of
business weather in nearly two weeks the streets were crowded
with women and girls. They were desperately hard up and they
made open dashes for every man they could get at. All classes
were made equally bold--the shop and factory and office and
theater girls with wages too small for what they regarded as a
decent living; the women with young children to support and
educate; the protected professional regulars; the miserable
creatures who had to get along as best they could without
protection, and were prey to every blackmailing officer of an
anti-vice society and to every policeman and fly-cop not above
levying upon women who were "too low to be allowed to live,
anyhow." Out from all kinds of shelters swarmed the women who
were demonstrating how prostitution flourishes and tends to
spread to every class of society whenever education develops
tastes beyond the earning power of their possessors. And with
clothes and food to buy, rent to pay, dependents to support,
these women, so many days hampered in the one way that was open
to them to get money, made the most piteous appeals to the men.
Not tearful appeals, not appeals to sympathy or even to
charity, but to passion. They sought in every way to excite.
They exhibited their carefully gotten-up legs; they made
indecent gestures; they said the vilest things; they offered
the vilest inducements; they lowered their prices down and
down. And such men as did not order them off with disdain,
listened with laughter, made jokes at which the wretched
creatures laughed as gayly as if they were not mad with anxiety
and were not hating these men who were holding on to that which
they must have to live.

"Too many out tonight," said Maud as they walked their
beat--Forty-second between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. "I knew
it would be this way. Let's go in here and get warm."

They went into the back room of a saloon where perhaps half a
dozen women were already seated, some of them gray with the
cold against which their thin showy garments were no
protection. Susan and Maud sat at a table in a corner; Maud
broke her rule and drank whiskey with Susan. After they had
taken perhaps half a dozen drinks, Maud grew really
confidential. She always, even in her soberest moments, seemed
to be telling everything she knew; but Susan had learned that
there were in her many deep secrets, some of which not even
liquor could unlock.

"I'm going to tell you something," she now said to Susan. "You
must promise not to give me away."

"Don't tell me," replied Susan. She was used to being
flattered--or victimized, according to the point of view--with
confidences. She assumed Maud was about to confess some secret
about her own self, as she had the almost universal habit of
never thinking of anyone else. "Don't tell me," said she.
"I'm tired of being used to air awful secrets. It makes me
feel like a tenement wash line."

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