Part 14 out of 19
Several times she heard of Freddie Palmer. Twice she chanced
upon his name in the newspaper--an incidental reference to him
in connection with local politics. The other times were when
men talking together in the drinking places frequented by both
sexes spoke of him as a minor power in the organization. Each
time she got a sense of her remoteness, of her security. Once
she passed in Grand Street a detective she had often seen with
him in Considine's at Broadway and Forty-second. The "bull"
looked sharply at her. Her heart stood still. But he went on
without recognizing her. The sharp glance had been simply that
official expression of see-all and know-all which is mere
formality, part of the official livery, otherwise meaningless.
However, it is not to that detective's discredit that he failed to
recognize her. She had adapted herself to her changed surroundings.
Because she was of a different and higher class, and because
she picked and chose her company, even when drink had beclouded
her senses and instinct alone remained on drowsy guard, she
prospered despite her indifference. For that region had its
aristocracy of rich merchants, tenement-owners, politicians
whose sons, close imitators of the uptown aristocracies in
manners and dress, spent money freely in the amusements that
attract nearly all young men everywhere. Susan made almost as
much as she could have made in the more renowned quarters of
the town. And presently she was able to move into a tenement
which, except for two workingmen's families of a better class,
was given over entirely to fast women. It was much better
kept, much cleaner, much better furnished than the tenements
for workers chiefly; they could not afford decencies, much less
luxuries. All that sort of thing was, for the neighborhood,
concentrated in the saloons, the dance halls, the fast houses
and the fast flats.
Her walks in Grand Street and the Bowery, repelling and
capricious though she was with her alternating moods of cold
moroseness and sardonic and mocking gayety, were bringing her
in a good sum of money for that region. Sometimes as much as
twenty dollars a week, rarely less than twelve or fifteen. And
despite her drinking and her freehandedness with her
fellow-professionals less fortunate and with the street beggars
and for tenement charities, she had in her stockings a capital
of thirty-one dollars.
She avoided the tough places, the hang-outs of the gangs. She
rarely went alone into the streets at night--and the afternoons
were, luckily, best for business as well as for safety. She
made no friends and therefore no enemies. Without meaning to
do so and without realizing that she did so, she held herself
aloof without haughtiness through sense of loneliness, not at
all through sense of superiority. Had it not been for her
scarlet lips, a far more marked sign in that region than
anywhere uptown, she would have passed in the street for a more
or less respectable woman--not thoroughly respectable; she was
too well dressed, too intelligently cared for to seem the good
On one of the few nights when she lingered in the little back
room of the saloon a few doors away at the corner, as she
entered the dark passageway of the tenement, strong fingers
closed upon her throat and she was borne to the floor. She
knew at once that she was in the clutch of one of those terrors
of tenement fast women, the lobbygows--men who live by lying in
wait in the darkness to seize and rob the lonely, friendless
fast woman. She struggled--and she was anything but weak. But
not a sound could escape from her tight-pressed throat. Soon
she became unconscious.
One of the workingmen, returning drunk from the meeting of the
union, in the corner saloon, stumbled over her, gave her a kick
in his anger. This roused her; she uttered a faint cry.
"Thought it was a man," mumbled he, dragging her to a sitting
position. He struck a match. "Oh--it's you! Don't make any
noise. If my old woman came out, she'd kill us both."
"Never mind me," said Susan. "I was only stunned."
"Oh, I thought it was the booze. They say you hit it
"No--a lobbygow." And she felt for her stockings. They were
torn away from her garters. Her bosom also was bare, for the
lobbygow had searched there, also.
"How much did he get?"
"The hell he did! Want me to call a cop?"
"No," replied Susan, who was on her feet again. "What's the use?"
"Those damn cops!" cursed the workingman. "They'd probably pinch
you--or both of us. Ten to one the lobbygows divide with them."
"I didn't mean that," said Susan. The police were most
friendly and most kind to her. She was understanding the ways
of the world better now, and appreciated that the police
themselves were part of the same vast system of tyranny and
robbery that was compelling her. The police made her pay
because they dared not refuse to be collectors. They bound
whom the mysterious invisible power compelled them to bind;
they loosed whom that same power bade them loose. She had no
quarrel with the police, who protected her from far worse
oppressions and oppressors than that to which they subjected
her. And if they tolerated lobbygows and divided with them, it
was because the overshadowing power ordained it so.
"Needn't be afraid I'll blow to the cop," said the drunken
artisan. "You can damn the cops all you please to me. They
make New York worse than Russia."
"I guess they do the best they can--like everybody else," said
the girl wearily.
"I'll help you upstairs."
"No, thank you," said she. Not that she did not need help; but
she wished no disagreeable scene with the workingman's wife who
might open the door as they passed his family's flat.
She went upstairs, the man waiting below until she should be
safe--and out of the way. She staggered into her room,
tottered to the bed, fell upon it. A girl named Clara, who
lived across the hall, was sitting in a rocking-chair in a
nightgown, reading a Bertha Clay novel and smoking a cigarette.
She glanced up, was arrested by the strange look in Susan's eyes.
"Hello--been hitting the pipe, I see," said she. "Down in
"No. A lobbygow," said Susan.
"Did he get much?"
"The----!" cried Clara. "I'll bet it was Gussie's fellow.
I've suspected him. Him and her stay in, hitting the pipe all
the time. That costs money, and she hasn't been out for I
don't know how long. Let's go down there and raise hell."
"What's the use?" said Susan.
"You ought to 'a' put it in the savings bank. That's what I
do--when I have anything. Then, when I'm robbed, they only get
what I've just made. Last time, they didn't get nothing--but
me." And she laughed. Her teeth were good in front, but out
on one side and beginning to be discolored on the other. "How
long had you been saving?"
"Nearly six months."
"Gee! _Isn't_ that hell!" Presently she laughed. "Six months'
work and only thirty-five to show for it. Guess you're about
as poor at hiving it up as I am. I give it to that loafer I
live with. You give it away to anybody that wants a stake.
Well--what's the diff? It all goes."
"Give me a cigarette," said Susan, sitting up and inspecting
the bruises on her bosom and legs. "And get that bottle of
whiskey from under the soiled clothes in the bottom of the
"It _is_ something to celebrate, isn't it?" said Clara. "My
fellow's gone to his club tonight, so I didn't go out. I never
do any more, unless he's there to hang round and see that I
ain't done up. You'll have to get a fellow. You'll have to
come to it, as I'm always telling you. They're expensive, but
they're company--anybody you can count on for shining up, even
if it is for what they can get out of you, is better than not
having nobody nowhere. And they keep off bums and lobbygows
and scare the bilkers into coughing up."
"Not for me," replied Susan.
The greater the catastrophe, the longer the time before it is
fully realized. Susan's loss of the money that represented so
much of savage if momentary horror, and so much of unconscious
hope this calamity did not overwhelm her for several days.
Then she yielded for the first time to the lure of opium. She
had listened longingly to the descriptions of the delights as
girls and men told; for practically all of them smoked--or took
cocaine. But to Clara's or Gussie's invitations to join the
happy band of dreamers, she had always replied, "Not yet. I'm
saving that." Now, however, she felt that the time had come.
Hope in this world she had none. Before the black adventure,
why not try the world of blissful unreality to which it gave
entrance? Why leave life until she had exhausted all it put
within her reach?
She went to Gussie's room at midnight and flung herself down in
a wrapper upon a couch opposite a sallow, delicate young man.
His great dark eyes were gazing unseeingly at her, were perhaps
using her as an outline sketch from which his imagination could
picture a beauty of loveliness beyond human. Gussie taught her
how to prepare the little ball of opium, how to put it on the
pipe and draw in its fumes. Her system was so well prepared
for it by the poisons she had drunk that she had satisfactory
results from the outset. And she entered upon the happiest
period of her life thus far. All the hideousness of her
profession disappeared under the gorgeous draperies of the
imagination. Opium's magic transformed the vile, the obscene,
into the lofty, the romantic, the exalted. The world she had
been accustomed to regard as real ceased to be even the blur
the poisonous liquors had made of it, became a vague, distant
thing seen in a dream. Her opium world became the vivid reality.
The life she had been leading had made her extremely thin, had
hardened and dulled her eyes, had given her that sad,
shuddering expression of the face upon which have beaten a
thousand mercenary and lustful kisses. The opium soon changed
all this. Her skin, always tending toward pallor, became of
the dead amber-white of old ivory. Her thinness took on an
ethereal transparency that gave charm even to her slight stoop.
Her face became dreamy, exalted, rapt; and her violet-gray eyes
looked from it like the vents of poetical fires burning without
ceasing upon an altar to the god of dreams. Never had she been
so beautiful; never had she been so happy--not with the coarser
happiness of dancing eye and laughing lip, but with the ecstasy
of soul that is like the shimmers of a tranquil sea quivering
rhythmically under the caresses of moonlight.
In her descent she had now reached that long narrow shelf along
which she would walk so long as health and looks should
last--unless some accident should topple her off on the one
side into suicide or on the other side into the criminal
prostitute class. And such accidents were likely to happen.
Still there was a fair chance of her keeping her balance until
loss of looks and loss of health--the end of the shelf--should
drop her abruptly to the very bottom. She could guess what was
there. Every day she saw about the streets, most wretched and
most forlorn of its wretched and forlorn things, the solitary
old women, bent and twisted, wrapped in rotting rags, picking
papers and tobacco from the gutters and burrowing in garbage
barrels, seeking somehow to get the drink or the dope that
changed hell into heaven for them.
Despite liquor and opium and the degradations of the
street-woman's life she walked that narrow ledge with curious
steadiness. She was unconscious of the cause. Indeed,
self-consciousness had never been one of her traits. The cause
In our egotism, in our shame of what we ignorantly regard as
the lowliness of our origin we are always seeking alleged lofty
spiritual explanations of our doings, and overlook the actual,
quite simple real reason. One of the strongest factors in
Susan's holding herself together in face of overwhelming odds,
was the nearly seventeen years of early training her Aunt Fanny
Warham had given her in orderly and systematic ways--a place
for everything and everything in its place; a time for
everything and everything at its time, neatness, scrupulous
cleanliness, no neglecting of any of the small, yet large,
matters that conserve the body. Susan had not been so apt a
pupil of Fanny Warham's as was Ruth, because Susan had not
Ruth's nature of the old-maidish, cut-and-dried conventional.
But during the whole fundamentally formative period of her life
Susan Lenox had been trained to order and system, and they had
become part of her being, beyond the power of drink and opium
and prostitution to disintegrate them until the general
break-up should come. In all her wanderings every man or woman
or girl she had met who was not rapidly breaking up, but was
offering more or less resistance to the assaults of bad habits,
was one who like herself had acquired in childhood strong good
habits to oppose the bad habits and to fight them with. An
enemy must be met with his own weapons or stronger. The
strongest weapons that can be given a human animal for
combating the destructive forces of the struggle for existence
are not good sentiments or good principles or even pious or
moral practices--for, bad habits can make short work of all
these--but are good habits in the practical, material matters
of life. They operate automatically, they apply to all the
multitude of small, every day; semi-unconscious actions of the
daily routine. They preserve the _morale_. And not morality
but morals is the warp of character--the part which, once
destroyed or even frayed, cannot be restored.
Susan, unconsciously and tenaciously practicing her early
training in order and system whenever she could and wherever
she could, had an enormous advantage over the mass of the
girls, both respectable and fast. And while their evidence was
always toward "going to pieces" her tendency was always to
repair and to put off the break-up.
One June evening she was looking through the better class of
dance halls and drinking resorts for Clara, to get her to go up
to Gussie's for a smoke. She opened a door she had never
happened to enter before--a dingy door with the glass frosted.
Just inside there was a fetid little bar; view of the rest of
the room was cut off by a screen from behind which came the
sound of a tuneless old piano. She knew Clara would not be in
such a den, but out of curiosity she glanced round the screen.
She was seeing a low-ceilinged room, the walls almost dripping
with the dirt of many and many a hard year. In a corner was
the piano, battered, about to fall to pieces, its ancient and
horrid voice cracked by the liquor which had been poured into
it by facetious drunkards. At the keyboard sat an old
hunchback, broken-jawed, dressed in slimy rags, his one eye
instantly fixed upon her with a lecherous expression that made
her shiver as it compelled her to imagine the embrace he was
evidently imagining. His filthy fingers were pounding out a
waltz. About the floor were tottering in the measure of the
waltz a score of dreadful old women. They were in calico.
They had each a little biscuit knot of white hair firmly upon
the crown of the head. From their bleached, seamed old faces
gleamed the longings or the torments of all the passions they
could no longer either inspire or satisfy. They were one time
prostitutes, one time young, perhaps pretty women, now
descending to death--still prostitutes in heart and mind but
compelled to live as scrub women, cleaners of all manner of
loathsome messes in dives after the drunkards had passed on.
They were now enjoying the reward of their toil, the pleasures
of which they dreamed and to which they looked forward as they
dragged their stiff old knees along the floors in the wake of
the brush and the cloth. They were drinking biting poisons
from tin cups--for those hands quivering with palsy could not
be trusted with glass-dancing with drunken, disease-swollen or
twisted legs--venting from ghastly toothless mouths strange
cries of merriment that sounded like shrieks of damned souls at
the licking of quenchless flames.
Susan stood rooted to the threshold of that frightful
scene--that vision of the future toward which she was hurrying.
A few years--a very few years--and, unless she should have
passed through the Morgue, here she would be, abandoning her
body to abominations beyond belief at the hands of degenerate
oriental sailors to get a few pennies for the privileges of
this dance hall. And she would laugh, as did these, would
enjoy as did these, would revel in the filth her senses had
been trained to find sweet. "No! No!" she protested. "I'd
kill myself first!" And then she cowered again, as the thought
came that she probably would not, any more than these had
killed themselves. The descent would be gradual--no matter how
swift, still gradual. Only the insane put an end to life.
Yes--she would come here some day.
She leaned against the wall, her throat contracting in a fit of
nausea. She grew cold all over; her teeth chattered. She
tried in vain to tear her gaze from the spectacle; some
invisible power seemed to be holding her head in a vise,
thrusting her struggling eyelids violently open.
There were several men, dead drunk, asleep in old wooden chairs
against the wall. One of these men was so near her that she
could have touched him. His clothing was such an assortment of
rags slimy and greasy as one sometimes sees upon the top of a
filled garbage barrel to add its horrors of odor of long
unwashed humanity to the stenches from vegetable decay. His
wreck of a hard hat had fallen from his head as it dropped
forward in drunken sleep. Something in the shape of the head
made her concentrate upon this man. She gave a sharp cry,
stretched out her hand, touched the man's shoulder.
"Rod!" she cried. "Rod!"
The head slowly lifted, and the bleary, blowsy wreck of
Roderick Spenser's handsome face was turned stupidly toward
her. Into his gray eyes slowly came a gleam of recognition.
Then she saw the red of shame burst into his hollow cheeks, and
the head quickly drooped.
She shook him. "Rod! It's _you!_"
"Get the hell out," he mumbled. "I want to sleep."
"You know me," she said. "I see the color in your face. Oh,
Rod--you needn't be ashamed before _me_."
She felt him quiver under her fingers pressing upon his
shoulder. But he pretended to snore.
"Rod," she pleaded, "I want you to come along with me. I can't
do you any harm now."
The hunchback had stopped playing. The old women were crowding
round Spenser and her, were peering at them, with eyes eager
and ears a-cock for romance--for nowhere on this earth do the
stars shine so sweetly as down between the precipices of shame
to the black floor of the slum's abyss. Spenser, stooped and
shaking, rose abruptly, thrust Susan aside with a sweep of the
arm that made her reel, bolted into the street. She recovered
her balance and amid hoarse croakings of "That's right, honey!
Don't give him up!" followed the shambling, swaying figure.
He was too utterly drunk to go far; soon down he sank, a heap
of rags and filth, against a stoop.
She bent over him, saw he was beyond rousing, straightened and
looked about her. Two honest looking young Jews stopped.
"Won't you help me get him home?" she said to them.
"Sure!" replied they in chorus. And, with no outward sign of
the disgust they must have felt at the contact, they lifted up
the sot, in such fantastic contrast to Susan's clean and even
stylish appearance, and bore him along, trying to make him seem
less the helpless whiskey-soaked dead weight. They dragged him
up the two flights of stairs and, as she pushed back the door,
deposited him on the floor. She assured them they could do
nothing more, thanked them, and they departed. Clara appeared
in her doorway.
"God Almighty, Lorna!" she cried. "_What_ have you got there?
How'd it get in?"
"You've been advising me to take a fellow," said Susan.
"Well--here he is."
Clara looked at her as if she thought her crazed by drink or
dope. "I'll call the janitor and have him thrown out."
"No, he's my lover," said Susan. "Will you help me clean him up?"
Clara, looking at Spenser's face now, saw those signs which not
the hardest of the world's hard uses can cut or tear away.
"Oh!" she said, in a tone of sympathy. "He _is_ down, isn't he?
But he'll pull round all right."
She went into her room to take off her street clothes and to
get herself into garments as suitable as she possessed for one
of those noisome tasks that are done a dozen times a day by the
bath nurses in the receiving department of a charity hospital.
When she returned, Susan too was in her chemise and ready to
begin the search for the man, if man there was left deep buried
in that muck. While Susan took off the stinking and rotten
rags, and flung them into the hall, Clara went to the bathroom
they and Mollie shared, and filled the tub with water as hot as
her hand could bear. With her foot Susan pushed the rags along
the hall floor and into the garbage closet. Then she and Clara
lifted the emaciated, dirt-streaked, filth-smeared body,
carried it to the bathroom, let it down into the water. There
were at hand plenty of those strong, specially prepared soaps
and other disinfectants constantly used by the women of their
kind who still cling to cleanliness and health. With these
they attacked him, not as if he were a human being, but as if
he were some inanimate object that must be scoured before it
could be used.
Again and again they let out the water, black, full of dead and
dying vermin; again and again they rinsed him, attacked him
afresh. Their task grew less and less repulsive as the man
gradually appeared, a young man with a soft skin, a well-formed
body, unusually good hands and feet, a distinguished face
despite its savage wounds from dissipation, hardly the less
handsome for the now fair and crisp beard which gave it a look
of more years than Spenser had lived.
If Spenser recovered consciousness--and it seems hardly
possible that he did not--he was careful to conceal the fact.
He remained limp, inert, apparently in a stupor. They gave him
one final scrubbing, one final rinsing, one final thorough
inspection. "Now, he's all right," declared Clara. "What
shall we do with him?"
"Put him to bed," said Susan.
They had already dried him off in the empty tub. They now
rubbed him down with a rough towel, lifted him, Susan taking
the shoulders, Clara the legs, and put him in Susan's bed.
Clara ran to her room, brought one of the two nightshirts she
kept for her fellow. When they had him in this and with a
sheet over him, they cleaned and straightened the bathroom,
then lit cigarettes and sat down to rest and to admire the work
of their hands.
"Who is he?" asked Clara.
"A man I used to know," said Susan. Like all the girls in that
life with a real story to tell, she never told about her past
self. Never tell? They never even remember if drink and drugs
will do their duty.
"I don't blame you for loving him," said Clara. "Somehow, the
lower a man sinks the more a woman loves him. It's the other
way with men. But then men don't know what love is. And a
woman don't really know till she's been through the mill."
"I don't love him," said Susan.
"Same thing," replied the practical Clara, with a wave of the
bare arm at the end of which smoked the cigarette. "What're
you going to do with him?"
"I don't know," confessed Susan.
She was not a little uneasy at the thought of his awakening.
Would he despise her more than ever now--fly from her back to
his filth? Would he let her try to help him? And she looked
at the face which had been, in that other life so long, long
ago, dearer to her than any face her eyes had ever rested upon;
a sob started deep down within her, found its slow and painful
way upward, shaking her whole body and coming from between her
clenched teeth in a groan. She forgot all she had suffered
from Rod--forgot the truth about him which she had slowly
puzzled out after she left him and as experience enabled her to
understand actions she had not understood at the time. She
forgot it all. That past--that far, dear, dead past! Again
she was a simple, innocent girl upon the high rock, eating that
wonderful dinner. Again the evening light faded, stars and
moon came out, and she felt the first sweet stirring of love
for him. She could hear his voice, the light, clear,
entrancing melody of the Duke's song--
La Donna e mobile
Qua penna al vento--
She burst into tears--tears that drenched her soul as the rain
drenches the blasted desert and makes the things that could
live in beauty stir deep in its bosom. And Clara, sobbing in
sympathy, kissed her and stole away, softly closing the door.
"If a man die, shall he live again?" asked the old Arabian
philosopher. If a woman die, shall she live again?. . .
Shall not that which dies in weakness live again in strength?. . .
Looking at him, as he lay there sleeping so quietly, her
being surged with the heaving of high longings and hopes.
If _they_ could only live again! Here they were, together, at
the lowest depth, at the rock bottom of life. If they could
build on that rock, build upon the very foundation of the
world, then would they indeed build in strength! Then, nothing
could destroy--nothing!. . . If they could live again! If
they could build!
She had something to live for--something to fight for. Into
her eyes came a new light; into her soul came peace and
strength. Something to live for--someone to redeem. XI
SHE fell asleep, her head resting upon her hand, her elbow on
the arm of the chair. She awoke with a shiver; she opened her
eyes to find him gazing at her. The eyes of both shifted
instantly. "Wouldn't you like some whiskey?" she asked.
"Thanks," replied he, and his unchanged voice reminded her
vividly of his old self, obscured by the beard and by the
She took the bottle from its concealment in the locked
washstand drawer, poured him out a large drink. When she came
back where he could see the whiskey in the glass, his eyes
glistened and he raised himself first on his elbow, then to a
sitting position. His shaking hand reached out eagerly and his
expectant lips quivered. He gulped the whiskey down.
"Thank you," he said, gazing longingly at the bottle as he held
the empty glass toward her.
"I _would_ like a little more," said he gratefully.
Again she poured him a large drink, and again he gulped it
down. "That's strong stuff," said he. "But then they sell
strong stuff in this part of town. The other kind tastes weak
to me now."
He dropped back against the pillows. She poured herself a
drink. Halfway to her lips the glass halted. "I've got to
stop that," thought she, "if I'm going to do anything for him
or for myself." And she poured the whiskey back and put the
bottle away. The whole incident took less than five seconds.
It did not occur that she was essaying and achieving the
heroic, that she had in that instant revealed her right to her
dream of a career high above the common lot.
"Don't _you_ drink?" said he.
"I've decided to cut it out," replied she carelessly. "There's
nothing in it."
"I couldn't live without it--and wouldn't."
"It _is_ a comfort when one's on the way down," said she. "But
I'm going to try the other direction--for a change."
She held a box of cigarettes toward him. He took one, then
she; she held the lighted match for him, lit her own cigarette,
let the flame of the match burn on, she absently watching it.
"Look out! You'll burn yourself!" cried he.
She started, threw the match into the slop jar. "How do you
feel?" inquired she.
"Like the devil," he answered. "But then I haven't known what
it was to feel any other way for several months except when I
couldn't feel at all." A long silence, both smoking, he
thinking, she furtively watching him. "You haven't changed so
much," he finally said. "At least, not on the outside."
"More on the outside than on the inside," said she. "The
inside doesn't change much. There I'm almost as I was that day
on the big rock. And I guess you are, too--aren't you?"
"The devil I am! I've grown hard and bitter."
"That's all outside," declared she. "That's the shell--like
the scab that stays over the sore spot till it heals."
"Sore spot? I'm nothing but sore spots. I've been treated
like a dog."
And he proceeded to talk about the only subject that interested
him--himself. He spoke in a defensive way, as if replying to
something she had said or thought. "I've not got down in the
world without damn good excuse. I wrote several plays, and
they were tried out of town. But we never could get into New
York. I think Brent was jealous of me, and his influence kept
me from a hearing. I know it sounds conceited, but I'm sure
"Brent?" said she, in a queer voice. "Oh, I think you must be
mistaken. He doesn't look like a man who could do petty mean
things. No, I'm sure he's not petty."
"Do you know him?" cried Spenser, in an irritated tone.
"No. But--someone pointed him out to me once--a long time
ago--one night in the Martin. And then--you'll remember--there
used to be a great deal of talk about him when we lived in
Forty-third Street. You admired him tremendously."
"Well, he's responsible," said Spenser, sullenly. "The men on
top are always trampling down those who are trying to climb up.
He had it in for me. One of my friends who thought he was a
decent chap gave him my best play to read. He returned it with
some phrases about its showing talent--one of those phrases
that don't mean a damn thing. And a few weeks ago--" Spenser
raised himself excitedly--"the thieving hound produced a play
that was a clean steal from mine. I'd be laughed at if I
protested or sued. But I _know_, curse him!"
He fell back shaking so violently that his cigarette dropped to
the sheet. Susan picked it up, handed it to him. He eyed her
with angry suspicion. "You don't believe me, do you?" he demanded.
"I don't know anything about it," replied she. "Anyhow, what
does it matter? The man I met on that show boat--the Mr.
Burlingham I've often talked about--he used to say that the dog
that stopped to lick his scratches never caught up with the prey."
He flung himself angrily in the bed. "You never did have any
heart--any sympathy. But who has? Even Drumley went back on
me--let 'em put a roast of my last play in the _Herald_--a
telegraphed roast from New Haven--said it was a dead failure.
And who wrote it? Why, some newspaper correspondent in the pay
of the _Syndicate_--and that means Brent. And of course it was
a dead failure. So--I gave up--and here I am. . . . This
"Where's this nightshirt come from?"
"It belongs to the friend of the girl across the hall." He
laughed sneeringly. "The hell it does!" mocked he. "I
understand perfectly. I want my clothes."
"No one is coming," said Susan. "There's no one to come."
He was looking round the comfortable little room that was the
talk of the whole tenement and was stirring wives and fast
women alike to "do a little fixing up." Said he:
"A nice little nest you've made for him. You always were good
"I've made it for myself," said she. "I never bring men here."
"I want my clothes," cried he. "I haven't sunk that low, you----!"
The word he used did not greatly disturb Susan. The shell she
had formed over herself could ward off brutal contacts of
languages no less than of the other kinds. It did, however,
shock her a little to hear Rod Spenser use a word so crude.
"Give me my clothes," he ordered, waving his fists in a fierce,
"They were torn all to pieces. I threw them away. I'll get
you some more in the morning."
He dropped back again, a scowl upon his face. "I've got no
money--not a damn cent. I did half a day's work on the docks
and made enough to quiet me last night." He raised himself.
"I can work again. Give me my clothes!"
"They're gone," said Susan. "They were completely used up."
This brought back apparently anything but dim memory of what
his plight had been. "How'd I happen to get so clean?"
"Clara and I washed you off a little. You had fallen down."
He lay silent a few minutes, then said in a hesitating, ashamed
tone, "My troubles have made me a boor. I beg your pardon.
You've been tremendously kind to me."
"Oh, it wasn't much. Don't you feel sleepy?"
"Not a bit." He dragged himself from the bed. "But _you_ do.
I must go."
She laughed in the friendliest way. "You can't. You haven't
He passed his hand over his face and coughed violently, she
holding his head and supporting his emaciated shoulders. After
several minutes of coughing and gagging, gasping and groaning
and spitting, he was relieved by the spasm and lay down again.
When he got his breath, he said--with rest between words--"I'd
ask you to send for the ambulance, but if the doctors catch me,
they'll lock me away. I've got consumption. Oh, I'll soon be
out of it."
Susan sat silent. She did not dare look at him lest he should
see the pity and horror in her eyes.
"They'll find a cure for it," pursued he. "But not till the
day after I'm gone. That is the way my luck runs. Still, I
don't see why I should care to stay--and I don't! Have you any
more of that whiskey?"
Susan brought out the bottle again, gave him the last of the
whiskey--a large drink. He sat up, sipping it to make it last.
He noted the long row of books on the shelf fastened along the
wall beside the bed, the books and magazines on the table.
"As fond of reading as ever, I see?"
"Fonder," said she. "It takes me out of myself."
"I suppose you read the sort of stuff you really like, now--not
the things you used to read to make old Drumley think you were
cultured and intellectual."
"No--the same sort," replied she, unruffled by his
contemptuous, unjust fling. "Trash bores me."
"Come to think of it, I guess you did have pretty good taste
But he was interested in himself, like all invalids; and, like
them, he fancied his own intense interest could not but be
shared by everyone. He talked on and on of himself, after the
manner of failures--told of his wrongs, of how friends had
betrayed him, of the jealousies and enmities his talents had
provoked. Susan was used to these hard-luck stories, was used
to analyzing them. With the aid of what she had worked out as
to his character after she left him, she had no difficulty in
seeing that he was deceiving himself, was excusing himself.
But after all she had lived through, after all she had
discovered about human frailty, especially in herself, she was
not able to criticize, much less condemn, anybody. Her doubts
merely set her to wondering whether he might not also be
self-deceived as to his disease.
"Why do you think you've got consumption?" asked she.
"I was examined at the free dispensary up in Second Avenue the
other day. I've suspected what was the matter for several
months. They told me I was right."
"But the doctors are always making mistakes. I'd not give up
if I were you."
"Do you suppose I would if I had anything to live for?"
"I was thinking about that a while ago--while you were asleep."
"Oh, I'm all in. That's a cinch."
"So am I," said she. "And as we've nothing to lose and no hope,
why, trying to do something won't make us any worse off. . . .
We've both struck the bottom. We can't go any lower." She
leaned forward and, with her earnest eyes fixed upon him,
said, "Rod--why not try--together?"
He closed his eyes.
"I'm afraid I can't be of much use to you," she went on. "But
you can help me. And helping me will make you help yourself.
I can't get up alone. I've tried. No doubt it's my fault. I
guess I'm one of those women that aren't hard enough or
self-confident enough to do what's necessary unless I've got
some man to make me do it. Perhaps I'd get the--the strength
or whatever it is, when I was much older. But by that time in
my case--I guess it'd be too late. Won't you help me, Rod?"
He turned his head away, without opening his eyes.
"You've helped me many times--beginning with the first day we met."
"Don't," he said. "I went back on you. I did sprain my ankle,
but I could have come."
"That wasn't anything," replied she. "You had already done a
thousand times more than you needed to do."
His hand wandered along the cover in her direction. She
touched it. Their hands clasped.
"I lied about where I got the money yesterday. I didn't work.
I begged. Three of us--from the saloon they call the Owl's
Chute--two Yale men--one of them had been a judge--and I.
We've been begging for a week. We were going out on the road
in a few days--to rob. Then--I saw you--in that old women's
dance hall--the Venusberg, they call it."
"You've come down here for me, Rod. You'll take me back?
You'll save me from the Venusberg?"
"I couldn't save anybody. Susie, at bottom I'm N. G. I
always was--and I knew it. Weak--vain. But you! If you
hadn't been a woman--and such a sweet, considerate one you'd
have never got down here."
"Such a fool," corrected Susan. "But, once I get up, I'll not
be so again. I'll fight under the rules, instead of acting in
the silly way they teach us as children."
"Don't say those hard things, Susie!"
"Aren't they true?"
"Yes, but I can't bear to hear them from a woman. . . . I
told you that you hadn't changed. But after I'd looked at you
a while I saw that you have. You've got a terrible look in
your eyes--wonderful and terrible. You had something of that
look as a child--the first time I saw you."
"The day after my marriage," said the girl, tearing her
"It was there then," he went on. "But now--it's--it's
heartbreaking, Susie when your face is in repose."
"I've gone through a fire that has burned up every bit of me
that can burn," said she. "I've been wondering if what's left
isn't strong enough to do something with. I believe so--if
you'll help me."
"Help you? I--help anybody? Don't mock me, Susie."
"I don't know about anybody else," said she sweetly and gently,
"but I do know about me."
"No use--too late. I've lost my nerve." He began to sob.
"It's because I'm unstrung," explained he.
"Don't think I'm a poor contemptible fool of a whiner. . . .
Yes, I _am_ a whiner! Susie, I ought to have been the woman
and you the man. Weak--weak--weak!"
She turned the gas low, bent over him, kissed his brow,
caressed him. "Let's do the best we can," she murmured.
He put his arm round her. "I wonder if there _is_ any hope," he
said. "No--there couldn't be."
"Let's not hope," pleaded she. "Let's just do the best we can."
"You know the theater people. You might write a little play--a
sketch--and you and I could act it in one of the ten-cent houses."
"That's not a bad idea!" exclaimed he. "A little comedy--about
fifteen or twenty minutes." And he cast about for a plot,
found the beginnings of one the ancient but ever acceptable
commonplace of a jealous quarrel between two lovers--"I'll lay
the scene in Fifth Avenue--there's nothing low life likes so
much as high life." He sketched, she suggested. They planned
until broad day, then fell asleep, she half sitting up, his
head pillowed upon her lap.
She was awakened by a sense of a parching and suffocating heat.
She started up with the idea of fire in her drowsy mind. But
a glance at him revealed the real cause. His face was fiery
red, and from his lips came rambling sentences, muttered,
whispered, that indicated the delirium of a high fever. She
had first seen it when she and the night porter broke into
Burlingham's room in the Walnut Street House, in Cincinnati.
She had seen it many a time since; for, while she herself had
never been ill, she had been surrounded by illness all the
time, and the commonest form of it was one of these fevers,
outraged nature's frenzied rise against the ever denser swarms
of enemies from without which the slums sent to attack her.
Susan ran across the hall and roused Clara, who would watch
while she went for a doctor. "You'd better get Einstein in
Grand Street," Clara advised.
"Why not Sacci?" asked Susan.
"Our doctor doesn't know anything but the one thing--and
he doesn't like to take other kinds of cases. No, get
Einstein. . . . You know, he's like all of them--he won't
come unless you pay in advance."
"How much?" asked Susan.
"Three dollars. I'll lend you if----"
"No--I've got it." She had eleven dollars and sixty cents in
Einstein pronounced it a case of typhoid. "You must get him to
the hospital at once."
Susan and Clara looked at each other in terror. To them, as to
the masses everywhere, the hospital meant almost certain death;
for they assumed--and they had heard again and again
accusations which warranted it--that the public hospital
doctors and nurses treated their patients with neglect always,
with downright inhumanity often. Not a day passed without
their hearing some story of hospital outrage upon poverty,
without their seeing someone--usually some child--who was
paying a heavy penalty for having been in the charity wards.
Einstein understood their expression. "Nonsense!" said he
gruffly. "You girls look too sensible to believe those silly lies."
Susan looked at him steadily. His eyes shifted. "Of course, the
pay service _is_ better," said he in a strikingly different tone.
"How much would it be at a pay hospital?" asked Susan.
"Twenty-five a week including my services," said Doctor
Einstein. "But you can't afford that."
"Will he get the best treatment for that?"
"The very best. As good as if he were Rockefeller or the big
"In advance, I suppose?"
"Would we ever get our money out of people if we didn't get it
in advance? We've got to live just the same as any other class."
"I understand," said the girl. "I don't blame you. I don't
blame anybody for anything." She said to Clara, "Can you lend
"Sure. Come in and get it." When she and Susan were in the
hall beyond Einstein's hearing, she went on: "I've got the
twenty and you're welcome to it. But--Lorna hadn't you
"In the same sort of a case, what'd _you_ do?" interrupted Susan.
Clara laughed. "Oh--of course." And she gave Susan a roll of
much soiled bills--a five, the rest ones and twos.
"I can get the ambulance to take him free," said Einstein.
"That'll save you five for a carriage."
She accepted this offer. And when the ambulance went, with
Spenser burning and raving in the tightly wrapped blankets,
Susan followed in a street car to see with her own eyes that he
was properly installed. It was arranged that she could visit
him at any hour and stay as long as she liked.
She returned to the tenement, to find the sentiment of the
entire neighborhood changed toward her. Not loss of money, not
loss of work, not dispossession nor fire nor death is the
supreme calamity among the poor, but sickness. It is their
most frequent visitor--sickness in all its many frightful
forms--rheumatism and consumption, cancer and typhoid and the
rest of the monsters. Yet never do the poor grow accustomed or
hardened. And at the sight of the ambulance the neighborhood
had been instantly stirred. When the reason for its coming got
about, Susan became the object of universal sympathy and
respect. She was not sending her friend to be neglected and
killed at a charity hospital; she was paying twenty-five a week
that he might have a chance for life--twenty-five dollars a
week! The neighbors felt that her high purpose justified any
means she might be compelled to employ in getting the money.
Women who had scowled and spat as she walked by, spoke
friendlily to her and wiped their eyes with their filthy
skirts, and prayed in church and synagogue that she might
prosper until her man was well and the old debt paid. Clara
went from group to group, relating the whole story, and the
tears flowed at each recital. Money they had none to give; but
what they had they gave with that generosity which suddenly
transfigures rags and filth and makes foul and distorted bodies
lift in the full dignity of membership in the human family.
Everywhere in those streets were seen the ravages of
disease--rheumatism and rickets and goiter, wen and tumors and
cancer, children with only one arm or one leg, twisted spines,
sunken chests, distorted hips, scrofulous eyes and necks, all
the sad markings of poverty's supreme misery, the ferocious
penalties of ignorance, stupidity and want. But Susan's burden
of sorrow was not on this account overlooked.
Rafferty, who kept the saloon at the corner and was chief
lieutenant to O'Frayne, the District Leader, sent for her and
handed her a twenty. "That may help some," said he.
Susan hesitated--gave it back. "Thank you," said she, "and
perhaps later I'll have to get it from you. But I don't want
to get into debt. I already owe twenty."
"This ain't debt," explained Rafferty. "Take it and forget it."
"I couldn't do that," said the girl. "But maybe you'll lend it
to me, if I need it in a week or so?"
"Sure," said the puzzled saloon man--liquor store man, he
preferred to be called, or politician. "Any amount you want."
As she went away he looked after her, saying to his barkeeper:
"What do you think of that, Terry? I offered her a twenty and
Terry's brother had got drunk a few days before, had killed a
woman and was on his way to the chair. Terry scowled at the
boss and said:
"She's got a right to, ain't she? Don't she earn her money
honest, without harmin' anybody but herself? There ain't many
that can say that--not any that runs factories and stores and
holds their noses up as if they smelt their own sins, damn 'em!"
"She's a nice girl," said Rafferty, sauntering away. He was a
broad, tolerant and good-humored man; he made allowances for an
employee whose brother was in for murder.
Susan had little time to spend at the hospital. She must now
earn fifty dollars a week--nearly double the amount she had
been averaging. She must pay the twenty-five dollars for
Spenser, the ten dollars for her lodgings. Then there was the
seven dollars which must be handed to the police captain's
"wardman" in the darkness of some entry every Thursday night.
She had been paying the patrolman three dollars a week to keep
him in a good humor, and two dollars to the janitor's wife; she
might risk cutting out these items for the time, as both
janitor's wife and policeman were sympathetic. But on the
closest figuring, fifty a week would barely meet her absolute
necessities--would give her but seven a week for food and other
expenses and nothing toward repaying Clara.
Fifty dollars a week! She might have a better chance to make
it could she go back to the Broadway-Fifth Avenue district.
But however vague other impressions from the life about her
might have been, there had been branded into her a deep and
terrible fear of the police an omnipotence as cruel as destiny
itself--indeed, the visible form of that sinister god at
present. Once in the pariah class, once with a "police
record," and a man or woman would have to scale the steeps of
respectability up to a far loftier height than Susan ever
dreamed of again reaching, before that malign and relentless
power would abandon its tyranny. She did not dare risk
adventuring a part of town where she had no "pull" and where,
even should she by chance escape arrest, Freddie Palmer would
hear of her; would certainly revenge himself by having her
arrested and made an example of. In the Grand Street district
she must stay, and she must "stop the nonsense" and "play the
game"--must be businesslike.
She went to see the "wardman," O'Ryan, who under the guise of
being a plain clothes man or detective, collected and turned in
to the captain, who took his "bit" and passed up the rest, all
the money levied upon saloons, dives, procuresses, dealers in
unlawful goods of any kind from opium and cocaine to girls for
O'Ryan was a huge brute of a man, his great hard face bearing
the scars of battles against pistol, knife, bludgeon and fist.
He was a sour and savage brute, hated and feared by everyone
for his tyrannies over the helpless poor and the helpless
outcast class. He had primitive masculine notions as to
feminine virtue, intact despite the latter day general
disposition to concede toleration and even a certain
respectability to prostitutes. But by some chance which she
and the other girls did not understand he treated Susan with
the utmost consideration, made the gangs appreciate that if
they annoyed her or tried to drag her into the net of tribute
in which they had enmeshed most of the girls worth while, he
would regard it as a personal defiance to himself.
Susan waited in the back room of the saloon nearest O'Ryan's
lodgings and sent a boy to ask him to come. The boy came back
with the astonishing message that she was to come to O'Ryan's
flat. Susan was so doubtful that she paused to ask the
janitress about it.
"It's all right," said the janitress. "Since his wife died
three years ago him and his baby lives alone. There's his old
mother but she's gone out. He's always at home when he ain't
on duty. He takes care of the baby himself, though it howls
all the time something awful."
Susan ascended, found the big policeman in his shirt sleeves,
trying to soothe the most hideous monstrosity she had ever
seen--a misshapen, hairy animal looking like a monkey, like a
rat, like half a dozen repulsive animals, and not at all like
a human being. The thing was clawing and growling and grinding
its teeth. At sight of Susan it fixed malevolent eyes on her
and began to snap its teeth at her.
"Don't mind him," said O'Ryan. "He's only acting up queer."
Susan sat not daring to look at the thing lest she should show
her aversion, and not knowing how to state her business when the
thing was so clamorous, so fiendishly uproarious. After a time
O'Ryan succeeded in quieting it. He seemed to think some
explanation was necessary. He began abruptly, his gaze
tenderly on the awful creature, his child, lying quiet now in
"My wife--she died some time ago--died when the baby here was born."
"You spend a good deal of time with it," said Susan.
"All I can spare from my job. I'm afraid to trust him to
anybody, he being kind of different. Then, too, I _like_ to
take care of him. You see, it's all I've got to remember _her_
by. I'm kind o' tryin' to do what _she'd_ want did." His lips
quivered. He looked at his monstrous child. "Yes, I _like_
settin' here, thinkin'--and takin' care of him."
This brute of a slave driver, this cruel tyrant over the poor
and the helpless--yet, thus tender and gentle--thus capable of
the enormous sacrifice of a great, pure love!
"_You've_ got a way of lookin' out of the eyes that's like her,"
he went on--and Susan had the secret of his strange forbearance
toward her. "I suppose you've come about being let off on the
Already he knew the whole story of Rod and the hospital.
"Yes--that's why I'm bothering you," said she.
"You needn't pay but five-fifty. I can only let you off a
dollar and a half--my bit and the captain's. We pass the rest
on up--and we don't dare let you off."
"Oh, I can make the money," Susan said hastily. "Thank you,
Mr. O'Ryan, but I don't want to get anyone into trouble."
"We've got the right to knock off one dollar and a half," said
O'Ryan. "But if we let you off the other, the word would get
up to--to wherever the graft goes--and they'd send down along
the line, to have merry hell raised with us. The whole thing's
done systematic, and they won't take no excuses, won't allow no
breaks in the system nowhere. You can see for yourself--it'd go
to smash if they did."
"Somebody must get a lot of money," said Susan.
"Oh, it's dribbled out--and as you go higher up, I don't
suppose them that gets it knows where it comes from. The whole
world's nothing but graft, anyhow. Sorry I can't let you off."
The thing in his lap had recovered strength for a fresh fit of
malevolence. It was tearing at its hairy, hideous face with
its claws and was howling and shrieking, the big father gently
trying to soothe it--for _her_ sake. Susan got away quickly.
She halted in the deserted hall and gave way to a spasm of dry
sobbing--an overflow of all the emotions that had been
accumulating within her. In this world of noxious and
repulsive weeds, what sudden startling upshooting of what
beautiful flowers! Flowers where you would expect to find the
most noisome weeds of all, and vilest weeds where you would
expect to find flowers. What a world!
However--the fifty a week must be got--and she must be
Most of the girls who took to the streets came direct from the
tenements of New York, of the foreign cities or of the factory
towns of New England. And the world over, tenement house life
is an excellent school for the life of the streets. It
prevents modesty from developing; it familiarizes the eye, the
ear, the nerves, to all that is brutal; it takes away from a
girl every feeling that might act as a restraining influence
except fear--fear of maternity, of disease, of prison. Thus,
practically all the other girls had the advantage over Susan.
Soon after they definitely abandoned respectability and
appeared in the streets frankly members of the profession, they
became bold and rapacious. They had an instinctive feeling
that their business was as reputable as any other, more
reputable than many held in high repute, that it would be most
reputable if it paid better and were less uncertain. They
respected themselves for all things, talk to the contrary in
the search for the sympathy and pity most human beings crave.
They despised the men as utterly as the men despised them.
They bargained as shamelessly as the men. Even those who did
not steal still felt that stealing was justifiable; for, in the
streets the sex impulse shows stripped of all disguise, shows
as a brutal male appetite, and the female feels that her
yielding to it entitles her to all she can compel and cozen and
crib. Susan had been unfitted for her profession--as for all
active, unsheltered life--by her early training. The point of
view given us in our childhood remains our point of view as to
all the essentials of life to the end. Reason, experience, the
influence of contact with many phases of the world, may change
us seemingly, but the under-instinct remains unchanged. Thus,
Susan had never lost, and never would lose her original
repugnance; not even drink had ever given her the courage to
approach men or to bargain with them. Her shame was a false
shame, like most of the shame in the world--a lack of courage,
not a lack of desire--and, however we may pretend, there can be
no virtue in abstinence merely through cowardice. Still, if
there be merit in shrinking, even when the cruelest necessities
were goading, that merit was hers in full measure. As a matter
of reason and sense, she admitted that the girls who respected
themselves and practiced their profession like merchants of
other kinds were right, were doing what she ought to do.
Anyhow, it was absurd to practice a profession half-heartedly.
To play your game, whatever it might be, for all there was in
it--that was the obvious first principle of success. Yet--she
remained laggard and squeamish.
What she had been unable to do for herself, to save herself
from squalor, from hunger, from cold, she was now able to do
for the sake of another--to help the man who had enabled her to
escape from that marriage, more hideous than anything she had
endured since, or ever could be called upon to endure--to save
him from certain neglect and probable death in the "charity"
hospital. Not by merely tolerating the not too impossible men
who joined her without sign from her, and not by merely
accepting what they gave, could fifty dollars a week be made.
She must dress herself in franker avowal of her profession,
must look as expensive as her limited stock of clothing,
supplemented by her own taste, would permit. She must flirt,
must bargain, must ask for presents, must make herself
agreeable, must resort to the crude female arts--which,
however, are subtle enough to convince the self-enchanted male
even in face of the discouraging fact of the mercenary
arrangement. She must crush down her repugnance, must be
active, not simply passive--must get the extra dollars by
stimulating male appetites, instead of simply permitting them
to satisfy themselves. She must seem rather the eager mistress
than the reluctant and impatient wife.
And she did abruptly change her manner. There was in her, as
her life had shown, a power of endurance, an ability to
sacrifice herself in order to do the thing that seemed
necessary, and to do it without shuffling or whining. Whatever
else her career had done for her, it undoubtedly had
strengthened this part of her nature. And now the result of
her training showed. With her superior intelligence for the
first time free to make the best of her opportunities, she
abruptly became equal to the most consummate of her sisters in
that long line of her sister-panders to male appetites which
extends from the bought wife or mistress or fiancee of the rich
grandee down all the social ranks to the wife or street girl
cozening for a tipsy day-laborer's earnings on a Saturday night
and the work girl teasing her "steady company" toward matrimony
on the park bench or in the dark entry of the tenement.
She was able to pay Clara back in less than ten days. In
Spenser's second week at the hospital she had him moved to
better quarters and better attendance at thirty dollars a week.
Although she had never got rid of her most unprofessional habit
of choosing and rejecting, there had been times when need
forced her into straits where her lot seemed to her almost as
low as that of the slave-like wives of the tenements, made her
almost think she would be nearly as well off were she the wife,
companion, butt, servant and general vent to some one dull and
distasteful provider of a poor living. But now she no longer
felt either degraded or heart sick and heart weary. And when
he passed the worst crisis her spirits began to return.
And when Roderick should be well, and the sketch written--and
an engagement got--Ah, then! Life indeed--life, at last! Was
it this hope that gave her the strength to fight down and
conquer the craving for opium? Or was it the necessity of
keeping her wits and of saving every cent? Or was it because
the opium habit, like the drink habit, like every other habit,
is a matter of a temperament far more than it is a matter of an
appetite--and that she had the appetite but not the
temperament? No doubt this had its part in the quick and
complete victory. At any rate, fight and conquer she did. The
strongest interest always wins. She had an interest stronger
than love of opium--an interest that substituted itself for opium
and for drink and supplanted them. Life indeed--life, at last!
In his third week Rod began to round toward health. Einstein
observed from the nurse's charts that Susan's visits were
having an unfavorably exciting effect. He showed her the
readings of temperature and pulse, and forbade her to stay
longer than five minutes at each of her two daily visits.
Also, she must not bring up any topic beyond the sickroom
itself. One day Spenser greeted her with, "I'll feel better,
now that I've got this off my mind." He held out to her a
letter. "Take that to George Fitzalan. He's an old friend of
mine--one I've done a lot for and never asked any favors of.
He may be able to give you something fairly good, right away."
Susan glanced penetratingly at him, saw he had been brooding
over the source of the money that was being spent upon him.
"Very well," said she, "I'll go as soon as I can."
"Go this afternoon," said he with an invalid's fretfulness.
"And when you come this evening you can tell me how you got on."
"Very well. This afternoon. But you know, Rod, there's not a
ghost of a chance."
"I tell you Fitzalan's my friend. He's got some gratitude.
He'll _do_ something."
"I don't want you to get into a mood where you'll be awfully
depressed if I should fail."
"But you'll not fail."
It was evident that Spenser, untaught by experience and
flattered into exaggerating his importance by the solicitude
and deference of doctors and nurses to a paying invalid, had
restored to favor his ancient enemy--optimism, the certain
destroyer of any man who does not shake it off. She went away,
depressed and worried. When she should come back with the only
possible news, what would be the effect upon him--and he still
in a critical stage? As the afternoon must be given to
business, she decided to go straight uptown, hoping to catch
Fitzalan before he went out to lunch. And twenty minutes after
making this decision she was sitting in the anteroom of a suite
of theatrical offices in the Empire Theater building. The girl
in attendance had, as usual, all the airs little people assume
when they are in close, if menial, relations with a person who,
being important to them, therefore fills their whole small
horizon. She deigned to take in Susan's name and the letter.
Susan seated herself at the long table and with the seeming of
calmness that always veiled her in her hours of greatest
agitation, turned over the pages of the theatrical journals and
magazines spread about in quantity.
After perhaps ten silent and uninterrupted minutes a man
hurried in from the outside hall, strode toward the frosted
glass door marked "Private." With his hand reaching for the
knob he halted, made an impatient gesture, plumped himself down
at the long table--at its distant opposite end. With a sweep of
the arm he cleared a space wherein he proceeded to spread
papers from his pocket and to scribble upon them furiously.
When Susan happened to glance at him, his head was bent so low
and his straw hat was tilted so far forward that she could not
see his face. She observed that he was dressed attractively in
an extremely light summer suit of homespun; his hands were
large and strong and ruddy--the hands of an artist, in good
health. Her glance returned to the magazine. After a few
minutes she looked up. She was startled to find that the man
was giving her a curious, searching inspection--and that he was
Brent, the playwright--the same fascinating face, keen,
cynical, amused--the same seeing eyes, that, in the Cafe Martin
long ago, had made her feel as if she were being read to her
most secret thought. She dropped her glance.
His voice made her start. "It's been a long time since I've
seen you," he was saying.
She looked up, not believing it possible he was addressing her.
But his gaze was upon her. Thus, she had not been mistaken in
thinking she had seen recognition in his eyes. "Yes," she
said, with a faint smile.
"A longer time for you than for me," said he.
"A good deal has happened to me," she admitted.
"Are you on the stage?"
"No. Not yet."
The girl entered by way of the private door. "Miss Lenox--this
way, please." She saw Brent, became instantly all smiles and
bows. "Oh--Mr. Fitzalan doesn't know you're here, Mr. Brent,"
she cried. Then, to Susan, "Wait a minute."
She was about to reenter the private office when Brent stopped
her with, "Let Miss Lenox go in first. I don't wish to see Mr.
Fitzalan yet." And he stood up, took off his hat, bowed
gravely to Susan, said, "I'm glad to have seen you again."
Susan, with some color forced into her old-ivory skin by
nervousness and amazement, went into the presence of Fitzalan.
As the now obsequious girl closed the door behind her, she
found herself facing a youngish man with a remnant of hair that
was little more than fuzz on the top of his head. His features
were sharp, aggressive, rather hard. He might have sat for the
typical successful American young man of forty--so much younger
in New York than is forty elsewhere in the United States--and so
much older. He looked at Susan with a pleasant sympathetic smile.
"So," said he, "you're taking care of poor Spenser, are you?
Tell him I'll try to run down to see him. I wish I could do
something for him--something worth while, I mean. But--his
"Really, I've nothing of the kind. I couldn't possibly place
you--at least, not at present--perhaps, later on----"
"I understand," interrupted Susan. "He's very ill. It would
help him greatly if you would write him a few lines, saying
you'll give me a place at the first vacancy, but that it may
not be soon. I'll not trouble you again. I want the letter
simply to carry him over the crisis."
Fitzalan hesitated, rubbed his fuzzy crown with his jeweled
hand. "Tell him that," he said, finally. "I'm rather careful
about writing letters. . . . Yes, say to him what you
suggested, as if it was from me."
"The letter will make all the difference between his believing
and not believing," urged Susan. "He has great admiration and
liking for you--thinks you would do anything for him."
Fitzalan frowned; she saw that her insistence had roused--or,
rather, had strengthened--suspicion. "Really--you must excuse
me. What I've heard about him the past year has not----
"But, no matter, I can't do it. You'll let me know how he's
getting on? Good day." And he gave her that polite yet
positive nod of dismissal which is a necessary part of the
equipment of men of affairs, constantly beset as they are and
ever engaged in the battle to save their chief asset, time,
from being wasted.
Susan looked at him--a straight glance from gray eyes, a slight
smile hovering about her scarlet lips. He reddened, fussed
with the papers before him on the desk from which he had not
risen. She opened the door, closed it behind her. Brent was
seated with his back full to her and was busy with his
scribbling. She passed him, went on to the outer door. She
was waiting for his voice; she knew it would come.
As she turned he was advancing. His figure, tall and slim and
straight, had the ease of movement which proclaims the man who
has been everywhere and so is at home anywhere. He held out a
card. "I wish to see you on business. You can come at three
"Yes," said Susan.
"Thanks," said he, bowing and returning to the table. She went
on into the hall, the card between her fingers. At the
elevator, she stood staring at the name--Robert Brent--as if it
were an inscription in a forgotten language. She was so
absorbed, so dazed that she did not ring the bell. The car
happened to stop at that floor; she entered as if it were
dark. And, in the street, she wandered many blocks down
Broadway before she realized where she was.
She left the elevated and walked eastward through Grand Street.
She was filled with a new and profound dissatisfaction. She
felt like one awakening from a hypnotic trance. The
surroundings, inanimate and animate, that had become endurable
through custom abruptly resumed their original aspect of
squalor and ugliness of repulsion and tragedy. A stranger--the
ordinary, unobservant, feebly imaginative person, going along
those streets would have seen nothing but tawdriness and
poverty. Susan, experienced, imaginative, saw _all_--saw what
another would have seen only after it was pointed out, and even
then but dimly. And that day her vision was no longer staled
and deadened by familiarity, but with vision fresh and with
nerves acute. The men--the women--and, saddest, most tragic of
all, the children! When she entered her room her reawakened
sensitiveness, the keener for its long repose, for the enormous
unconscious absorption of impressions of the life about
her--this morbid sensitiveness of the soul a-clash with its
environment reached its climax. As she threw open the door,
she shrank back before the odor--the powerful, sensual, sweet
odor of chypre so effective in covering the bad smells that
came up from other flats and from the noisome back yards. The
room itself was neat and clean and plain, with not a few
evidences of her personal taste--in the blending of colors, in
the selection of framed photographs on the walls. The one she
especially liked was the largest--a nude woman lying at full
length, her head supported by her arm, her face gazing straight
out of the picture, upon it a baffling expression--of sadness,
of cynicism, of amusement perhaps, of experience, yet of
innocence. It hung upon the wall opposite the door. When she
saw this picture in the department store, she felt at once a
sympathy between that woman and herself, felt she was for the
first time seeing another soul like her own, one that would
have understood her strange sense of innocence in the midst of
her own defiled and depraved self--a core of unsullied nature.
Everyone else in the world would have mocked at this notion of
a something within--a true self to which all that seemed to be
her own self was as external as her clothing; this woman of the
photograph would understand. So, there she hung--Susan's one
The question of dressing for this interview with Brent was
most important. Susan gave it much thought before she began to
dress, changed her mind again and again in the course of
dressing. Through all her vicissitudes she had never lost her
interest in the art of dress or her skill at it--and despite
the unfavorable surroundings she had steadily improved; any
woman anywhere would instantly have recognized her as one of
those few favored and envied women who know how to get together
a toilet. She finally chose the simplest of the half dozen
summer dresses she had made for herself--a plain white lawn,
with a short skirt. It gave her an appearance of extreme
youth, despite her height and the slight stoop in her
shoulders--a mere drooping that harmonized touchingly with the
young yet weary expression of her face. To go with the dress
she had a large hat of black rough straw with a very little
white trimming on it. With this large black hat bewitchingly
set upon her gracefully-done dark wavy hair, her sad, dreamy
eyes, her pallid skin, her sweet-bitter mouth with its rouged
lips seemed to her to show at their best. She felt that
nothing was quite so effective for her skin as a white dress.
In other colors--though she did not realize--the woman of bought
kisses showed more distinctly--never brazenly as in most of the
girls, but still unmistakably. In white she took on a glamour
of melancholy--and the human countenance is capable of no
expression so universally appealing as the look of melancholy
that suggests the sadness underlying all life, the pain that
pays for pleasure, the pain that pays and gets no pleasure, the
sorrow of the passing of all things, the faint foreshadow of
the doom awaiting us all. She washed the rouge from her lips,
studied the effect in the glass. "No," she said aloud,
"without it I feel like a hypocrite--and I don't look half so
well." And she put the rouge on again--the scarlet dash drawn
startlingly across her strange, pallid face. XII
AT three that afternoon she stood in the vestibule of Brent's
small house in Park Avenue overlooking the oblong of green
between East Thirty-seventh Street and East Thirty-eighth. A
most reputable looking Englishman in evening dress opened the
door; from her reading and her theater-going she knew that
this was a butler. He bowed her in. The entire lower floor
was given to an entrance hall, done in plain black walnut,
almost lofty of ceiling, and with a grand stairway leading to
the upper part of the house. There was a huge fireplace to
the right; a mirror filled the entire back wall; a broad low
seat ran all round the room. In one corner, an enormous urn
of dark pottery; in another corner, a suit of armor, the
helmet, the breastplate and the gauntlets set with gold of
The butler left her there and ascended the polished but
dead-finished stairway noiselessly. Susan had never before
been in so grand a room. The best private house she had ever
seen was Wright's in Sutherland; and while everybody else in
Sutherland thought it magnificent, she had felt that there was
something wrong, what she had not known. The grandiose New
York hotels and restaurants were more showy and more
pretentious far than this interior of Brent's. But her
unerring instinct of those born with good taste knew at first
view of them that they were simply costly; there were
beautiful things in them, fine carvings and paintings and
tapestries, but personality was lacking. And without
personality there can be no unity; without unity there can be
no harmony--and without harmony, no beauty.
Looking round her now, she had her first deep draught of
esthetic delight in interior decoration. She loved this quiet
dignity, this large simplicity--nothing that obtruded, nothing
that jarred, everything on the same scale of dark coloring and
large size. She admired the way the mirror, without pretense
of being anything but a mirror, enhanced the spaciousness of
the room and doubled the pleasure it gave by offering another
and different view of it.
Last of all Susan caught sight of herself--a slim, slightly
stooped figure, its white dress and its big black hat with
white trimmings making it stand out strongly against the
rather somber background. In a curiously impersonal way her
own sad, wistful face interested her. A human being's face is
a summary of his career. No man can realize at a thought what
he is, can epitomize in just proportion what has been made of
him by experience of the multitude of moments of which life is
composed. But in some moods and in some lights we do get such
an all-comprehending view of ourselves in looking at our own
faces. As she had instinctively felt, there was a world of
meaning in the contrast between her pensive brow above
melancholy eyes and the blood-red line of her rouged lips.
The butler descended. "Mr. Brent is in his library, on the
fourth floor," said he. "Will you kindly step this way, ma'am?"
Instead of indicating the stairway, he went to the panel next
the chimney piece. She saw that it was a hidden door
admitting to an elevator. She entered; the door closed; the
elevator ascended rapidly. When it came to a stop the door
opened and she was facing Brent.
"Thank you for coming," said he, with almost formal courtesy.
For all her sudden shyness, she cast a quick but seeing look
round. It was an overcast day; the soft floods of liquid
light--the beautiful light of her beloved City of the
Sun--poured into the big room through an enormous window of
clear glass which formed the entire north wall. Round the
other walls from floor almost to lofty ceiling were books in
solid rows; not books with ornamental bindings, but books for
use, books that had been and were being used. By way of
furniture there were an immense lounge, wide and long and
deep, facing the left chimney piece, an immense table desk
facing the north light, three great chairs with tall backs,
one behind the table, one near the end of the table, the third
in the corner farthest from the window; a grand piano, open,
with music upon its rack, and a long carved seat at its
keyboard. The huge window had a broad sill upon which was
built a generous window garden fresh and lively with bright
flowers. The woodwork, the ceiling, the furniture were of
mahogany. The master of this splendid simplicity was dressed
in a blue house suit of some summer material like linen. He
was smoking a cigarette, and offered her one from the great
carved wood box filled with them on the table desk.
"Thanks," said she. And when she had lighted it and was
seated facing him as he sat at his desk, she felt almost at
her ease. After all, while his gaze was penetrating, it was
also understanding; we do not mind being unmasked if the
unmasker at once hails us as brother. Brent's eyes seemed to say
to her, "Human!--like me." She smoked and let her gaze wander
from her books to window garden, from window garden to piano.
"You play?" said he.
"A very little. Enough for accompaniments to simple songs."
"Simple songs. I've had but a few lessons from a small-town teacher."
"Let me hear."
She went to the piano, laid her cigarette in a tray ready
beside the music rack. She gave him the "Gipsy Queen," which
she liked because it expressed her own passion of revolt
against restraints of every conventional kind and her love for
the open air and open sky. He somehow took away all feeling
of embarrassment; she felt so strongly that he understood and
was big enough not to have it anywhere in him to laugh at
anything sincere. When she finished she resumed her cigarette
and returned to the chair near his.
"It's as I thought," said he. "Your voice can be trained--to
speak, I mean. I don't know as to its singing value. . . .
Have you good health?"
"I never have even colds. Yes, I'm strong."
"You'll need it."
"I have needed it," said she. Into her face came the sad, bitter
expression with its curious relief of a faint cynical smile.
He leaned back in his chair and looked at her through a cloud
of smoke. She saw that his eyes were not gray, as she had
thought, but brown, a hazel brown with points of light
sparkling in the irises and taking away all the suggestion of
weakness and sentimentality that makes pure brown eyes
unsatisfactory in a man. He said slowly:
"When I saw you--in the Martin--you were on the way down. You
went, I see."
She nodded. "I'm still there."
"You like it? You wish to stay?"
She shook her head smilingly. "No, but I can stay if it's
necessary. I've discovered that I've got the health and the
nerves for anything."
"That's a great discovery. . . . Well, you'll soon be on your
way up. . . . Do you wish to know why I spoke to you this
morning?--Why I remembered you?"
"Because of the expression of your eyes--when your face is in repose."
She felt no shyness--and no sense of necessity of responding
to a compliment, for his tone forbade any thought of flattery.
She lowered her gaze to conceal the thoughts his words
brought--the memories of the things that had caused her eyes
to look as Rod and now Brent said.
"Such an expression," the playwright went on, "must mean
character. I am sick and tired of the vanity of these
actresses who can act just enough never to be able to learn to
act well. I'm going to try an experiment with you. I've
tried it several times but--No matter. I'm not discouraged.
I never give up. . . . Can you stand being alone?"
"I spend most of my time alone. I prefer it."
"I thought so. Yes--you'll do. Only the few who can stand
being alone ever get anywhere. Everything worth while is done
alone. The big battle--it isn't fought in the field, but by
the man sitting alone in his tent, working it all out. The
bridge--the tunnel through the great mountains--the
railway--the huge business enterprise--all done by the man
alone, thinking, plotting to the last detail. It's the same
way with the novel, the picture, the statue, the play--writing
it, acting it--all done by someone alone, shut in with his
imagination and his tools. I saw that you were one of the
lonely ones. All you need is a chance. You'd surely get it,
sooner or later. Perhaps I can bring it a little sooner. . . .
How much do you need to live on?"
"I must have fifty dollars a week--if I go on at--as I am now.
If you wish to take all my time--then, forty."
He smiled in a puzzled way.
"The police," she explained. "I need ten----"
"Certainly--certainly," cried he. "I understand--perfectly.
How stupid of me! I'll want all your time. So it's to be
forty dollars a week. When can you begin?"
Susan reflected. "I can't go into anything that'll mean a
long time," she said. "I'm waiting for a man--a friend of
mine to get well. Then we're going to do something together."
Brent made an impatient gesture. "An actor? Well, I suppose
I can get him something to do. But I don't want you to be
under the influence of any of these absurd creatures who think
they know what acting is--when they merely know how to dress
themselves in different suits of clothes, and strut themselves
about the stage. They'd rather die than give up their own
feeble, foolish little identities. I'll see that your actor
friend is taken care of, but you must keep away from him--for
the time at least."
"He's all I've got. He's an old friend."
"You--care for him?"
"I used to. And lately I found him again--after we had been
separated a long time. We're going to help each other up."
"Oh--he's down and out oh? Why?"
"Drink--and hard luck."
"Not hard luck. That helps a man. It has helped you. It has
made you what you are."
"What am I?" asked Susan.
Brent smiled mysteriously. "That's what we're going to find
out," said he. "There's no human being who has ever had a
future unless he or she had a past--and the severer the past
the more splendid the future."
Susan was attending with all her senses. This man was putting
into words her own inarticulate instincts.
"A past," he went on in his sharp, dogmatic way, "either
breaks or makes. You go into the crucible a mere ore, a
possibility. You come out slag or steel." He was standing
now, looking down at her with quizzical eyes. "You're about
due to leave the pot," said he.
"And I've hopes that you're steel. If not----" He shrugged
his shoulders--"You'll have had forty a week for your time,
and I'll have gained useful experience."
Susan gazed at him as if she doubted her eyes and ears.
"What do you want me to do?" she presently inquired.
"Learn the art of acting--which consists of two parts. First,
you must learn to act--thousands of the profession do that.
Second, you must learn not to act--and so far I know there
aren't a dozen in the whole world who've got that far along.
I've written a play I think well of. I want to have it done
properly--it, and several other plays I intend to write. I'm
going to give you a chance to become famous--better still, great."
Susan looked at him incredulously. "Do you know who I am?"
she asked at last.
Her eyes lowered, the faintest tinge of red changed the
amber-white pallor of her cheeks, her bosom rose and
"I don't mean," he went on, "that I know any of the details of
your experience. I only know the results as they are written
in your face. The details are unimportant. When I say I know
who you are, I mean I know that you are a woman who has
suffered, whose heart has been broken by suffering, but not
her spirit. Of where you came from or how you've lived, I
know nothing. And it's none of my business--no more than it's
the public's business where __I__ came from and how I've learned
to write plays."
Well, whether he was guessing any part of the truth or all of
it, certainly what she had said about the police and now this
sweeping statement of his attitude toward her freed her of the
necessity of disclosing herself. She eagerly tried to dismiss
the thoughts that had been making her most uneasy. She said:
"You think I can learn to act?"
"That, of course," replied he. "Any intelligent person can
learn to act--and also most persons who have no more
intelligence in their heads than they have in their feet.
I'll guarantee you some sort of career. What I'm interested
to find out is whether you can learn _not_ to act. I believe
you can. But----" He laughed in self-mockery. "I've made several
absurd mistakes in that direction. . . . You have led a life in
which most women become the cheapest sort of liars--worse
liars even than is the usual respectable person, because they
haven't the restraint of fearing loss of reputation. Why is
it you have not become a liar?"
Susan laughed. "I'm sure I don't know. Perhaps because lying
is such a tax on the memory. May I have another cigarette?"
He held the match for her. "You don't paint--except your
lips," he went on, "though you have no color. And you don't
wear cheap finery. And while you use a strong scent, it's not
one of the cheap and nasty kind--it's sensual without being
slimy. And you don't use the kind of words one always hears
in your circle."
Susan looked immensely relieved. "Then you _do_ know who I
am!" she cried.
"You didn't suppose I thought you fresh from a fashionable
boarding school, did you? I'd hardly look there for an
actress who could act. You've got
experience--experience--experience--written all over your
face--sadly, satirically, scornfully, gayly, bitterly. And
what I want is experience--not merely having been through
things, but having been through them understandingly. You'll
help me in my experiment?"
He looked astonished, then irritated, when the girl, instead
of accepting eagerly, drew back in her chair and seemed to be
debating. His irritation showed still more plainly when she
"That depends on him. And he--he thinks you don't like him."
"What's his name?" said Brent in his abrupt, intense fashion.
"What's his name?"
Brent looked vague.
"He used to be on the _Herald_. He writes plays."
"Oh--yes. I remember. He's a weak fool."
Susan abruptly straightened, an ominous look in eyes and brow.
Brent made an impatient gesture. "Beg pardon. Why be
sensitive about him? Obviously because you know I'm right.
I said fool, not ass. He's clever, but ridiculously vain. I
don't dislike him. I don't care anything about him--or about
anybody else in the world. No man does who amounts to
anything. With a career it's as Jesus said--leave father and
mother, husband and wife--land, ox everything--and follow it."
"What for?" said Susan.
"To save your soul! To be a somebody; to be strong. To be
able to give to anybody and everybody--whatever they need. To
"Are you happy?"
"No," he admitted. "But I'm growing in that direction. . . .
Don't waste yourself on Stevens--I beg pardon, Spenser.
You're bigger than that. He's a small man with large
dreams--a hopeless misfit. Small dreams for small men; large
dreams for--" he laughed--"you and me--our sort."
Susan echoed his laugh, but faint-heartedly. "I've watched
your name in the papers," she said, sincerely unconscious of
flattery. "I've seen you grow more and more famous. But--if
there had been anything in me, would I have gone down and down?"
"How old are you?"
"Only twenty-one and that look in your face! Magnificent! I
don't believe I'm to be disappointed this time. You ask why
you've gone down! You haven't. You've gone _through_."
"Down," she insisted, sadly.
"Nonsense! The soot'll rub off the steel."
She lifted her head eagerly. Her own secret thought put into words.
"You can't make steel without soot and dirt. You can't make
anything without dirt. That's why the nice, prim, silly
world's full of cabinets exhibiting little chips of raw
material polished up neatly in one or two spots. That's why
there are so few men and women--and those few have had to make
themselves, or are made by accident. You're an accident, I
suppose. The women who amount to anything usually are. The
last actress I tried to do anything with might have become a
somebody if it hadn't been for one thing: She had a hankering
for respectability--a yearning to be a society person--to be
thought well of by society people. It did for her."
"I'll not sink on that rock," said Susan cheerfully.
"No secret longing for social position?"
"None. Even if I would, I couldn't."
"That's one heavy handicap out of the way. But I'll not let
myself begin to hope until I find out whether you've got
incurable and unteachable vanity. If you have--then, no hope.
If you haven't--there's a fighting chance."
"You forget my compact," Susan reminded him.
Brent reflected, strolled to the big window, his hands deep in
his pockets. Susan took advantage of his back to give way to
her own feelings of utter amazement and incredulity. She
certainly was not dreaming. And the man gazing out at the
window was certainly flesh and blood--a great man, if voluble
and eccentric. Perhaps to act and speak as one pleased was
one of the signs of greatness, one of its perquisites. Was
he amusing himself with her? Was he perchance taken with
her physically and employing these extraordinary methods as
ways of approach? She had seen many peculiarities of
sex-approach in men--some grotesque, many terrible, all beyond
comprehension. Was this another such?
He wheeled suddenly, surprised her eyes upon him. He burst
out laughing, and she felt that he had read her thoughts.
However, he merely said:
"Have you anything to suggest--about Spenser?"
"I can't even tell him of your offer now. He's very ill--and
sensitive about you."
"About me? How ridiculous! I'm always coming across men I
don't know who are full of venom toward me. I suppose he
thinks I crowded him. No matter. You're sure you're not
fancying yourself in love with him?"
"No, I am not in love with him. He has changed--and so have I."
He smiled at her. "Especially in the last hour?" he suggested.
"I had changed before that. I had been changing right along.
But I didn't realize it fully until you talked with me--no,
until after you gave me your card this morning."
"You saw a chance--a hope--eh?"
"And at once became all nerves and courage. . . . As to
Spenser--I'll have some play carpenter sent to collaborate
with him and set him up in the play business. You know it's a
business as well as an art. And the chromos sell better than
the oil paintings--except the finest ones. It's my chromos
that have earned me the means and the leisure to try oils."
"He'd never consent. He's very proud."
"Vain, you mean. Pride will consent to anything as a means to an
end. It's vanity that's squeamish and haughty. He needn't know."
"But I couldn't discuss any change with him until he's much better."
"I'll send the play carpenter to him--get Fitzalan to send one
of his carpenters." Brent smiled. "You don't think _he_'ll
hang back because of the compact, do you?"
Susan flushed painfully. "No," she admitted in a low voice.
Brent was still smiling at her, and the smile was cynical.
But his tone soothed where his words would have wounded, as he
went on: "A man of his sort--an average,
`there-are-two-kinds-of-women, good-and-bad' sort of man--has
but one use for a woman of your sort."
"I know that," said Susan.
"Do you mind it?"
"Not much. I'd not mind it at all if I felt that I was somebody."
Brent put his hand on her shoulder. "You'll do, Miss Lenox,"
he said with quiet heartiness. "You may not be so big a
somebody as you and I would like. But you'll count as one,