Part 7 out of 11
kind--of red brick, white-stone trimmings, four stories high, and
all the rooms, some eighteen in number, furnished in a showy but
cleanly way. It's patronage was highly exclusive, only those being
admitted who were known to the mistress, having been introduced
by others. This guaranteed that privacy which the illicit affairs
of this world so greatly required. The mere phrase, "I have an
appointment," was sufficient, where either of the parties was known,
to cause them to be shown to a private suite. Cowperwood had known
of the place from previous experiences, and when it became necessary
to abandon the North Tenth Street house, he had directed Aileen
to meet him here.
The matter of entering a place of this kind and trying to find any
one was, as Alderson informed Butler on hearing of its character,
exceedingly difficult. It involved the right of search, which
was difficult to get. To enter by sheer force was easy enough in
most instances where the business conducted was in contradistinction
to the moral sentiment of the community; but sometimes one
encountered violent opposition from the tenants themselves. It
might be so in this case. The only sure way of avoiding such
opposition would be to take the woman who ran the place into one's
confidence, and by paying her sufficiently insure silence. "But I
do not advise that in this instance," Alderson had told Butler,
"for I believe this woman is particularly friendly to your man.
It might be better, in spite of the risk, to take it by surprise."
To do that, he explained, it would be necessary to have at least
three men in addition to the leader--perhaps four, who, once one
man had been able to make his entrance into the hallway, on the
door being opened in response to a ring, would appear quickly and
enter with and sustain him. Quickness of search was the next thing--
the prompt opening of all doors. The servants, if any, would have
to be overpowered and silenced in some way. Money sometimes did
this; force accomplished it at other times. Then one of the
detectives simulating a servant could tap gently at the different
doors--Butler and the others standing by--and in case a face
appeared identify it or not, as the case might be. If the door
was not opened and the room was not empty, it could eventually be
forced. The house was one of a solid block, so that there was no
chance of escape save by the front and rear doors, which were to
be safe-guarded. It was a daringly conceived scheme. In spite of
all this, secrecy in the matter of removing Aileen was to be
When Butler heard of this he was nervous about the whole terrible
procedure. He thought once that without going to the house he
would merely talk to his daughter declaring that he knew and that
she could not possibly deny it. He would then give her her choice
between going to Europe or going to a reformatory. But a sense of
the raw brutality of Aileen's disposition, and something essentially
coarse in himself, made him eventually adopt the other method. He
ordered Alderson to perfect his plan, and once he found Aileen or
Cowperwood entering the house to inform him quickly. He would then
drive there, and with the assistance of these men confront her.
It was a foolish scheme, a brutalizing thing to do, both from the
point of view of affection and any corrective theory he might have
had. No good ever springs from violence. But Butler did not see
that. He wanted to frighten Aileen, to bring her by shock to a
realization of the enormity of the offense she was committing. He
waited fully a week after his word had been given; and then, one
afternoon, when his nerves were worn almost thin from fretting,
the climax came. Cowperwood had already been indicted, and was
now awaiting trial. Aileen had been bringing him news, from time
to time, of just how she thought her father was feeling toward him.
She did not get this evidence direct from Butler, of course--he
was too secretive, in so far as she was concerned, to let her know
how relentlessly he was engineering Cowperwood's final downfall--
but from odd bits confided to Owen, who confided them to Callum,
who in turn, innocently enough, confided them to Aileen. For one
thing, she had learned in this way of the new district attorney
elect--his probable attitude--for he was a constant caller at the
Butler house or office. Owen had told Callum that he thought Shannon
was going to do his best to send Cowperwood "up"--that the old man
thought he deserved it.
In the next place she had learned that her father did not want
Cowperwood to resume business--did not feel he deserved to be allowed
to. "It would be a God's blessing if the community were shut of
him," he had said to Owen one morning, apropos of a notice in the
papers of Cowperwood's legal struggles; and Owen had asked Callum
why he thought the old man was so bitter. The two sons could not
understand it. Cowperwood heard all this from her, and more--bits
about Judge Payderson, the judge who was to try him, who was a
friend of Butler's--also about the fact that Stener might be sent
up for the full term of his crime, but that be would be pardoned
Apparently Cowperwood was not very much frightened. He told her
that he had powerful financial friends who would appeal to the
governor to pardon him in case he was convicted; and, anyhow, that
he did not think that the evidence was strong enough to convict
him. He was merely a political scapegoat through public clamor
and her father's influence; since the latter's receipt of the
letter about them he had been the victim of Butler's enmity, and
nothing more. "If it weren't for your father, honey," he declared,
"I could have this indictment quashed in no time. Neither
Mollenhauer nor Simpson has anything against me personally, I am
sure. They want me to get out of the street-railway business here
in Philadelphia, and, of course, they wanted to make things look
better for Stener at first; but depend upon it, if your father
hadn't been against me they wouldn't have gone to any such length
in making me the victim. Your father has this fellow Shannon and
these minor politicians just where he wants them, too. That's
where the trouble lies. They have to go on."
"Oh, I know," replied Aileen. "It's me, just me, that's all. If
it weren't for me and what he suspects he'd help you in a minute.
Sometimes, you know, I think I've been very bad for you. I don't
know what I ought to do. If I thought it would help you any I'd
not see you any more for a while, though I don't see what good that
would do now. Oh, I love you, love you, Frank! I would do anything
for you. I don't care what people think or say. I love you."
"Oh, you just think you do," he replied, jestingly. "You'll get
over it. There are others."
"Others!" echoed Aileen, resentfully and contemptuously. "After
you there aren't any others. I just want one man, my Frank. If
you ever desert me, I'll go to hell. You'll see."
"Don't talk like that, Aileen," he replied, almost irritated. "I
don't like to hear you. You wouldn't do anything of the sort. I
love you. You know I'm not going to desert you. It would pay you
to desert me just now."
"Oh, how you talk!" she exclaimed. "Desert you! It's likely, isn't
it? But if ever you desert me, I'll do just what I say. I swear
"Don't talk like that. Don't talk nonsense."
"I swear it. I swear by my love. I swear by your success--my
own happiness. I'll do just what I say. I'll go to hell."
Cowperwood got up. He was a little afraid now of this deep-seated
passion he had aroused. It was dangerous. He could not tell where
it would lead.
It was a cheerless afternoon in November, when Alderson, duly
informed of the presence of Aileen and Cowperwood in the South
Sixth Street house by the detective on guard drove rapidly up to
Butler's office and invited him to come with him. Yet even now
Butler could scarcely believe that he was to find his daughter
there. The shame of it. The horror. What would he say to her?
How reproach her? What would he do to Cowperwood? His large hands
shook as he thought. They drove rapidly to within a few doors of
the place, where a second detective on guard across the street
approached. Butler and Alderson descended from the vehicle, and
together they approached the door. It was now almost four-thirty
in the afternoon. In a room within the house, Cowperwood, his
coat and vest off, was listening to Aileen's account of her troubles.
The room in which they were sitting at the time was typical of the
rather commonplace idea of luxury which then prevailed. Most of
the "sets" of furniture put on the market for general sale by the
furniture companies were, when they approached in any way the correct
idea of luxury, imitations of one of the Louis periods. The curtains
were always heavy, frequently brocaded, and not infrequently red.
The carpets were richly flowered in high colors with a thick, velvet
nap. The furniture, of whatever wood it might be made, was almost
invariably heavy, floriated, and cumbersome. This room contained
a heavily constructed bed of walnut, with washstand, bureau, and
wardrobe to match. A large, square mirror in a gold frame was
hung over the washstand. Some poor engravings of landscapes and
several nude figures were hung in gold frames on the wall. The
gilt-framed chairs were upholstered in pink-and-white-flowered
brocade, with polished brass tacks. The carpet was of thick
Brussels, pale cream and pink in hue, with large blue jardinieres
containing flowers woven in as ornaments. The general effect
was light, rich, and a little stuffy.
"You know I get desperately frightened, sometimes," said Aileen.
"Father might be watching us, you know. I've often wondered what
I'd do if he caught us. I couldn't lie out of this, could I?"
"You certainly couldn't," said Cowperwood, who never failed to
respond to the incitement of her charms. She had such lovely smooth
arms, a full, luxuriously tapering throat and neck; her golden-red
hair floated like an aureole about her head, and her large eyes
sparkled. The wondrous vigor of a full womanhood was hers--errant,
ill-balanced, romantic, but exquisite, "but you might as well not
cross that bridge until you come to it," he continued. "I myself
have been thinking that we had better not go on with this for the
present. That letter ought to have been enough to stop us for
He came over to where she stood by the dressing-table, adjusting
"You're such a pretty minx," he said. He slipped his arm about
her and kissed her pretty mouth. "Nothing sweeter than you this
side of Paradise," he whispered in her ear.
While this was enacting, Butler and the extra detective had stepped
out of sight, to one side of the front door of the house, while
Alderson, taking the lead, rang the bell. A negro servant appeared.
"Is Mrs. Davis in?" he asked, genially, using the name of the woman
in control. "I'd like to see her."
"Just come in," said the maid, unsuspectingly, and indicated a
reception-room on the right. Alderson took off his soft, wide-brimmed
hat and entered. When the maid went up-stairs he immediately
returned to the door and let in Butler and two detectives. The
four stepped into the reception-room unseen. In a few moments the
"madam" as the current word characterized this type of woman,
appeared. She was tall, fair, rugged, and not at all unpleasant
to look upon. She had light-blue eyes and a genial smile. Long
contact with the police and the brutalities of sex in her early
life had made her wary, a little afraid of how the world would use
her. This particular method of making a living being illicit, and
she having no other practical knowledge at her command, she was
as anxious to get along peacefully with the police and the public
generally as any struggling tradesman in any walk of life might
have been. She had on a loose, blue-flowered peignoir, or
dressing-gown, open at the front, tied with blue ribbons and
showing a little of her expensive underwear beneath. A large opal
ring graced her left middle finger, and turquoises of vivid blue
were pendent from her ears. She wore yellow silk slippers with
bronze buckles; and altogether her appearance was not out of
keeping with the character of the reception-room itself, which
was a composite of gold-flowered wall-paper, blue and cream-colored
Brussels carpet, heavily gold-framed engravings of reclining nudes,
and a gilt-framed pier-glass, which rose from the floor to the
ceiling. Needless to say, Butler was shocked to the soul of him
by this suggestive atmosphere which was supposed to include his
daughter in its destructive reaches.
Alderson motioned one of his detectives to get behind the woman--
between her and the door--which he did.
"Sorry to trouble you, Mrs. Davis," he said, "but we are looking
for a couple who are in your house here. We're after a runaway
girl. We don't want to make any disturbance--merely to get her
and take her away." Mrs. Davis paled and opened her mouth. "Now
don't make any noise or try to scream, or we'll have to stop you.
My men are all around the house. Nobody can get out. Do you know
anybody by the name of Cowperwood?"
Mrs. Davis, fortunately from one point of view, was not of a
particularly nervous nor yet contentious type. She was more or
less philosophic. She was not in touch with the police here in
Philadelphia, hence subject to exposure. What good would it do
to cry out? she thought. The place was surrounded. There was
no one in the house at the time to save Cowperwood and Aileen.
She did not know Cowperwood by his name, nor Aileen by hers. They
were a Mr. and Mrs. Montague to her.
"I don't know anybody by that name," she replied nervously.
"Isn't there a girl here with red hair?" asked one of Alderson's
assistants. "And a man with a gray suit and a light-brown mustache?
They came in here half an hour ago. You remember them, don't you?"
"There's just one couple in the house, but I'm not sure whether
they're the ones you want. I'll ask them to come down if you wish.
Oh, I wish you wouldn't make any disturbance. This is terrible."
"We'll not make any disturbance," replied Alderson, "if you don't.
Just you be quiet. We merely want to see the girl and take her
away. Now, you stay where you are. What room are they in?"
"In the second one in the rear up-stairs. Won't you let me go,
though? It will be so much better. I'll just tap and ask them to
"No. We'll tend to that. You stay where you are. You're not
going to get into any trouble. You just stay where you are,"
He motioned to Butler, who, however, now that he had embarked on
his grim task, was thinking that he had made a mistake. What good
would it do him to force his way in and make her come out, unless
he intended to kill Cowperwood? If she were made to come down here,
that would be enough. She would then know that he knew all. He
did not care to quarrel with Cowperwood, in any public way, he now
decided. He was afraid to. He was afraid of himself.
"Let her go," he said grimly, doggedly referring to Mrs. Davis,
"But watch her. Tell the girl to come down-stairs to me."
Mrs. Davis, realizing on the moment that this was some family
tragedy, and hoping in an agonized way that she could slip out of
it peacefully, started upstairs at once with Alderson and his
assistants who were close at his heels. Reaching the door of
the room occupied by Cowperwood and Aileen, she tapped lightly.
At the time Aileen and Cowperwood were sitting in a big arm-chair.
At the first knock Aileen blanched and leaped to her feet. Usually
not nervous, to-day, for some reason, she anticipated trouble.
Cowperwood's eyes instantly hardened.
"Don't be nervous," he said, "no doubt it's only the servant.
He started, but Aileen interfered. "Wait," she said. Somewhat
reassured, she went to the closet, and taking down a dressing-gown,
slipped it on. Meanwhile the tap came again. Then she went to
the door and opened it the least bit.
"Mrs. Montague," exclaimed Mrs. Davis, in an obviously nervous,
forced voice, "there's a gentleman downstairs who wishes to see
"A gentleman to see me!" exclaimed Aileen, astonished and paling.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes; he says he wants to see you. There are several other men
with him. I think it's some one who belongs to you, maybe."
Aileen realized on the instant, as did Cowperwood, what had in all
likelihood happened. Butler or Mrs. Cowperwood had trailed them--
in all probability her father. He wondered now what he should do
to protect her, not himself. He was in no way deeply concerned for
himself, even here. Where any woman was concerned he was too
chivalrous to permit fear. It was not at all improbable that Butler
might want to kill him; but that did not disturb him. He really
did not pay any attention to that thought, and he was not armed.
"I'll dress and go down," he said, when he saw Aileen's pale face.
"You stay here. And don't you worry in any way for I'll get you
out of this--now, don't worry. This is my affair. I got you in
it and I'll get you out of it." He went for his hat and coat and
added, as he did so, "You go ahead and dress; but let me go first."
Aileen, the moment the door closed, had begun to put on her clothes
swiftly and nervously. Her mind was working like a rapidly moving
machine. She was wondering whether this really could be her father.
Perhaps it was not. Might there be some other Mrs. Montague--a
real one? Supposing it was her father--he had been so nice to her
in not telling the family, in keeping her secret thus far. He
loved her--she knew that. It makes all the difference in the world
in a child's attitude on an occasion like this whether she has
been loved and petted and spoiled, or the reverse. Aileen had been
loved and petted and spoiled. She could not think of her father
doing anything terrible physically to her or to any one else. But
it was so hard to confront him--to look into his eyes. When she
had attained a proper memory of him, her fluttering wits told her
what to do.
"No, Frank," she whispered, excitedly; "if it's father, you'd
better let me go. I know how to talk to him. He won't say anything
to me. You stay here. I'm not afraid--really, I'm not. If I
want you, I'll call you."
He had come over and taken her pretty chin in his hands, and was
looking solemnly into her eyes.
"You mustn't be afraid," he said. "I'll go down. If it's your
father, you can go away with him. I don't think he'll do anything
either to you or to me. If it is he, write me something at the
office. I'll be there. If I can help you in any way, I will.
We can fix up something. There's no use trying to explain this.
Say nothing at all."
He had on his coat and overcoat, and was standing with his hat in
his hand. Aileen was nearly dressed, struggling with the row of
red current-colored buttons which fastened her dress in the back.
Cowperwood helped her. When she was ready--hat, gloves, and all--
"Now let me go first. I want to see."
"No; please, Frank," she begged, courageously. "Let me, I know
it's father. Who else could it be?" She wondered at the moment
whether her father had brought her two brothers but would not now
believe it. He would not do that, she knew. "You can come if I
call." She went on. "Nothing's going to happen, though. I
understand him. He won't do anything to me. If you go it will
only make him angry. Let me go. You stand in the door here. If
I don't call, it's all right. Will you?"
She put her two pretty hands on his shoulders, and he weighed the
matter very carefully. "Very well," he said, "only I'll go to
the foot of the stairs with you."
They went to the door and he opened it. Outside were Alderson
with two other detectives and Mrs. Davis, standing perhaps five
"Well," said Cowperwood, commandingly, looking at Alderson.
"There's a gentleman down-stairs wishes to see the lady," said
Alderson. "It's her father, I think," he added quietly.
Cowperwood made way for Aileen, who swept by, furious at the
presence of men and this exposure. Her courage had entirely returned.
She was angry now to think her father would make a public spectacle
of her. Cowperwood started to follow.
"I'd advise you not to go down there right away," cautioned Alderson,
sagely. "That's her father. Butler's her name, isn't it? He don't
want you so much as he wants her."
Cowperwood nevertheless walked slowly toward the head of the stairs,
"What made you come here, father?" he heard Aileen ask.
Butler's reply he could not hear, but he was now at ease for he
knew how much Butler loved his daughter.
Confronted by her father, Aileen was now attempting to stare
defiantly, to look reproachful, but Butler's deep gray eyes beneath
their shaggy brows revealed such a weight of weariness and despair
as even she, in her anger and defiance, could not openly flaunt.
It was all too sad.
"I never expected to find you in a place like this, daughter," he
said. "I should have thought you would have thought better of
yourself." His voice choked and he stopped.
"I know who you're here with," he continued, shaking his head
sadly. "The dog! I'll get him yet. I've had men watchin' you
all the time. Oh, the shame of this day! The shame of this day!
You'll be comin' home with me now."
"That's just it, father," began Aileen. "You've had men watching
me. I should have thought--" She stopped, because he put up his
hand in a strange, agonized, and yet dominating way.
"None of that! none of that!" he said, glowering under his strange,
sad, gray brows. "I can't stand it! Don't tempt me! We're not out
of this place yet. He's not! You'll come home with me now."
Aileen understood. It was Cowperwood he was referring to. That
"I'm ready," she replied, nervously.
The old man led the way broken-heartedly. He felt he would never
live to forget the agony of this hour.
In spite of Butler's rage and his determination to do many things
to the financier, if he could, he was so wrought up and shocked by
the attitude of Aileen that he could scarcely believe he was the
same man he had been twenty-four hours before. She was so
nonchalant, so defiant. He had expected to see her wilt completely
when confronted with her guilt. Instead, he found, to his despair,
after they were once safely out of the house, that he had aroused
a fighting quality in the girl which was not incomparable to his
own. She had some of his own and Owen's grit. She sat beside him
in the little runabout--not his own--in which he was driving her
home, her face coloring and blanching by turns, as different waves
of thought swept over her, determined to stand her ground now that
her father had so plainly trapped her, to declare for Cowperwood
and her love and her position in general. What did she care, she
asked herself, what her father thought now? She was in this thing.
She loved Cowperwood; she was permanently disgraced in her father's
eyes. What difference could it all make now? He had fallen so low
in his parental feeling as to spy on her and expose her before
other men--strangers, detectives, Cowperwood. What real affection
could she have for him after this? He had made a mistake, according
to her. He had done a foolish and a contemptible thing, which was
not warranted however bad her actions might have been. What could
he hope to accomplish by rushing in on her in this way and ripping
the veil from her very soul before these other men--these crude
detectives? Oh, the agony of that walk from the bedroom to the
reception-room! She would never forgive her father for this--never,
never, never! He had now killed her love for him--that was what
she felt. It was to be a battle royal between them from now on.
As they rode--in complete silence for a while--her hands clasped
and unclasped defiantly, her nails cutting her palms, and her
It is an open question whether raw opposition ever accomplishes
anything of value in this world. It seems so inherent in this
mortal scheme of things that it appears to have a vast validity.
It is more than likely that we owe this spectacle called life to
it, and that this can be demonstrated scientifically; but when
that is said and done, what is the value? What is the value of
the spectacle? And what the value of a scene such as this enacted
between Aileen and her father?
The old man saw nothing for it, as they rode on, save a grim contest
between them which could end in what? What could he do with her?
They were riding away fresh from this awful catastrophe, and she
was not saying a word! She had even asked him why he had come there!
How was he to subdue her, when the very act of trapping her had
failed to do so? His ruse, while so successful materially, had
failed so utterly spiritually. They reached the house, and Aileen
got out. The old man, too nonplussed to wish to go further at this
time, drove back to his office. He then went out and walked--a
peculiar thing for him to do; he had done nothing like that in
years and years--walking to think. Coming to an open Catholic
church, he went in and prayed for enlightenment, the growing dusk
of the interior, the single everlasting lamp before the repository
of the chalice, and the high, white altar set with candles soothing
his troubled feelings.
He came out of the church after a time and returned home. Aileen
did not appear at dinner, and he could not eat. He went into his
private room and shut the door--thinking, thinking, thinking. The
dreadful spectacle of Aileen in a house of ill repute burned in
his brain. To think that Cowperwood should have taken her to such
a place--his Aileen, his and his wife's pet. In spite of his
prayers, his uncertainty, her opposition, the puzzling nature of
the situation, she must be got out of this. She must go away for
a while, give the man up, and then the law should run its course
with him. In all likelihood Cowperwood would go to the penitentiary--
if ever a man richly deserved to go, it was he. Butler would see
that no stone was left unturned. He would make it a personal issue,
if necessary. All he had to do was to let it be known in judicial
circles that he wanted it so. He could not suborn a jury, that
would be criminal; but he could see that the case was properly and
forcefully presented; and if Cowperwood were convicted, Heaven help
him. The appeal of his financial friends would not save him. The
judges of the lower and superior courts knew on which side their
bread was buttered. They would strain a point in favor of the
highest political opinion of the day, and he certainly could
influence that. Aileen meanwhile was contemplating the peculiar
nature of her situation. In spite of their silence on the way
home, she knew that a conversation was coming with her father.
It had to be. He would want her to go somewhere. Most likely he
would revive the European trip in some form--she now suspected the
invitation of Mrs. Mollenhauer as a trick; and she had to decide
whether she would go. Would she leave Cowperwood just when he was
about to be tried? She was determined she would not. She wanted
to see what was going to happen to him. She would leave home
first--run to some relative, some friend, some stranger, if
necessary, and ask to be taken in. She had some money--a little.
Her father had always been very liberal with her. She could take
a few clothes and disappear. They would be glad enough to send
for her after she had been gone awhile. Her mother would be
frantic; Norah and Callum and Owen would be beside themselves with
wonder and worry; her father--she could see him. Maybe that would
bring him to his senses. In spite of all her emotional vagaries,
she was the pride and interest of this home, and she knew it.
It was in this direction that her mind was running when her father,
a few days after the dreadful exposure in the Sixth Street house,
sent for her to come to him in his room. He had come home from
his office very early in the afternoon, hoping to find Aileen there,
in order that he might have a private interview with her, and by
good luck found her in. She had had no desire to go out into the
world these last few days--she was too expectant of trouble to come.
She had just written Cowperwood asking for a rendezvous out on
the Wissahickon the following afternoon, in spite of the detectives.
She must see him. Her father, she said, had done nothing; but
she was sure he would attempt to do something. She wanted to talk
to Cowperwood about that.
"I've been thinkin' about ye, Aileen, and what ought to be done
in this case," began her father without preliminaries of any kind
once they were in his "office room" in the house together. "You're
on the road to ruin if any one ever was. I tremble when I think
of your immortal soul. I want to do somethin' for ye, my child,
before it's too late. I've been reproachin' myself for the last
month and more, thinkin', perhaps, it was somethin' I had done,
or maybe had failed to do, aither me or your mother, that has
brought ye to the place where ye are to-day. Needless to say,
it's on me conscience, me child. It's a heartbroken man you're
lookin' at this day. I'll never be able to hold me head up again.
Oh, the shame--the shame! That I should have lived to see it!"
"But father," protested Aileen, who was a little distraught at
the thought of having to listen to a long preachment which would
relate to her duty to God and the Church and her family and her
mother and him. She realized that all these were important in
their way; but Cowperwood and his point of view had given her
another outlook on life. They had discussed this matter of
families--parents, children, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters--
from almost every point of view. Cowperwood's laissez-faire
attitude had permeated and colored her mind completely. She saw
things through his cold, direct "I satisfy myself" attitude. He
was sorry for all the little differences of personality that sprang
up between people, causing quarrels, bickerings, oppositions, and
separation; but they could not be helped. People outgrew each
other. Their points of view altered at varying ratios--hence
changes. Morals--those who had them had them; those who hadn't,
hadn't. There was no explaining. As for him, he saw nothing
wrong in the sex relationship. Between those who were mutually
compatible it was innocent and delicious. Aileen in his arms,
unmarried, but loved by him, and he by her, was as good and pure
as any living woman--a great deal purer than most. One found
oneself in a given social order, theory, or scheme of things. For
purposes of social success, in order not to offend, to smooth one's
path, make things easy, avoid useless criticism, and the like, it
was necessary to create an outward seeming--ostensibly conform.
Beyond that it was not necessary to do anything. Never fail, never
get caught. If you did, fight your way out silently and say
nothing. That was what he was doing in connection with his present
financial troubles; that was what he had been ready to do the other
day when they were caught. It was something of all this that was
coloring Aileen's mood as she listened at present.
"But father," she protested, "I love Mr. Cowperwood. It's almost
the same as if I were married to him. He will marry me some day
when he gets a divorce from Mrs. Cowperwood. You don't understand
how it is. He's very fond of me, and I love him. He needs me."
Butler looked at her with strange, non-understanding eyes. "Divorce,
did you say," he began, thinking of the Catholic Church and its
dogma in regard to that. "He'll divorce his own wife and children--
and for you, will he? He needs you, does he?" he added, sarcastically.
"What about his wife and children? I don't suppose they need him,
do they? What talk have ye?"
Aileen flung her head back defiantly. "It's true, nevertheless,"
she reiterated. "You just don't understand."
Butler could scarcely believe his ears. He had never heard such
talk before in his life from any one. It amazed and shocked him.
He was quite aware of all the subtleties of politics and business,
but these of romance were too much for him. He knew nothing about
them. To think a daughter of his should be talking like this, and
she a Catholic! He could not understand where she got such notions
unless it was from the Machiavellian, corrupting brain of Cowperwood
"How long have ye had these notions, my child?" he suddenly asked,
calmly and soberly. "Where did ye get them? Ye certainly never
heard anything like that in this house, I warrant. Ye talk as
though ye had gone out of yer mind."
"Oh, don't talk nonsense, father," flared Aileen, angrily, thinking
how hopeless it was to talk to her father about such things anyhow.
"I'm not a child any more. I'm twenty-four years of age. You just
don't understand. Mr. Cowperwood doesn't like his wife. He's
going to get a divorce when he can, and will marry me. I love him,
and he loves me, and that's all there is to it."
"Is it, though?" asked Butler, grimly determined by hook or by
crook, to bring this girl to her senses. "Ye'll be takin' no
thought of his wife and children then? The fact that he's goin'
to jail, besides, is nawthin' to ye, I suppose. Ye'd love him
just as much in convict stripes, I suppose--more, maybe." (The old
man was at his best, humanly speaking, when he was a little
sarcastic.) "Ye'll have him that way, likely, if at all."
Aileen blazed at once to a furious heat. "Yes, I know," she sneered.
"That's what you would like. I know what you've been doing. Frank
does, too. You're trying to railroad him to prison for something
he didn't do--and all on account of me. Oh, I know. But you won't
hurt him. You can't! He's bigger and finer than you think he is
and you won't hurt him in the long run. He'll get out again. You
want to punish him on my account; but he doesn't care. I'll marry
him anyhow. I love him, and I'll wait for him and marry him, and
you can do what you please. So there!"
"Ye'll marry him, will you?" asked Butler, nonplussed and further
astounded. "So ye'll wait for him and marry him? Ye'll take him
away from his wife and children, where, if he were half a man, he'd
be stayin' this minute instead of gallivantin' around with you.
And marry him? Ye'd disgrace your father and yer mother and yer
family? Ye'll stand here and say this to me, I that have raised ye,
cared for ye, and made somethin' of ye? Where would you be if it
weren't for me and your poor, hard-workin' mother, schemin' and
plannin' for you year in and year out? Ye're smarter than I am, I
suppose. Ye know more about the world than I do, or any one else
that might want to say anythin' to ye. I've raised ye to be a fine
lady, and this is what I get. Talk about me not bein' able to
understand, and ye lovin' a convict-to-be, a robber, an embezzler,
a bankrupt, a lyin', thavin'--"
"Father!" exclaimed Aileen, determinedly. "I'll not listen to you
talking that way. He's not any of the things that you say. I'll
not stay here." She moved toward the door; but Butler jumped up
now and stopped her. His face for the moment was flushed and
swollen with anger.
"But I'm not through with him yet," he went on, ignoring her desire
to leave, and addressing her direct--confident now that she was as
capable as another of understanding him. "I'll get him as sure
as I have a name. There's law in this land, and I'll have it on
him. I'll show him whether he'll come sneakin' into dacent homes
and robbin' parents of their children."
He paused after a time for want of breath and Aileen stared, her
face tense and white. Her father could be so ridiculous. He was,
contrasted with Cowperwood and his views, so old-fashioned. To
think he could be talking of some one coming into their home and
stealing her away from him, when she had been so willing to go.
What silliness! And yet, why argue? What good could be accomplished,
arguing with him here in this way? And so for the moment, she said
nothing more--merely looked. But Butler was by no means done.
His mood was too stormy even though he was doing his best now to
"It's too bad, daughter," he resumed quietly, once he was satisfied
that she was going to have little, if anything, to say. "I'm lettin'
my anger get the best of me. It wasn't that I intended talkin'
to ye about when I ast ye to come in. It's somethin' else I have
on me mind. I was thinkin', perhaps, ye'd like to go to Europe for
the time bein' to study music. Ye're not quite yourself just at
present. Ye're needin' a rest. It would be good for ye to go away
for a while. Ye could have a nice time over there. Norah could
go along with ye, if you would, and Sister Constantia that taught
you. Ye wouldn't object to havin' her, I suppose?"
At the mention of this idea of a trip of Europe again, with Sister
Constantia and music thrown in to give it a slightly new form,
Aileen bridled, and yet half-smiled to herself now. It was so
ridiculous--so tactless, really, for her father to bring up this
now, and especially after denouncing Cowperwood and her, and
threatening all the things he had. Had he no diplomacy at all where
she was concerned? It was really too funny! But she restrained
herself here again, because she felt as well as saw, that argument
of this kind was all futile now.
"I wish you wouldn't talk about that, father," she began, having
softened under his explanation. "I don't want to go to Europe now.
I don't want to leave Philadelphia. I know you want me to go; but
I don't want to think of going now. I can't."
Butler's brow darkened again. What was the use of all this opposition
on her part? Did she really imagine that she was going to master
him--her father, and in connection with such an issue as this? How
impossible! But tempering his voice as much as possible, he went
on, quite softly, in fact. "But it would be so fine for ye, Aileen.
Ye surely can't expect to stay here after--" He paused, for he was
going to say "what has happened." He knew she was very sensitive
on that point. His own conduct in hunting her down had been such
a breach of fatherly courtesy that he knew she felt resentful, and
in a way properly so. Still, what could be greater than her own
crime? "After," he concluded, "ye have made such a mistake ye
surely wouldn't want to stay here. Ye won't be wantin' to keep
up that--committin' a mortal sin. It's against the laws of God
He did so hope the thought of sin would come to Aileen--the enormity
of her crime from a spiritual point of view--but Aileen did not
see it at all.
"You don't understand me, father," she exclaimed, hopelessly toward
the end. "You can't. I have one idea, and you have another. But
I don't seem to be able to make you understand now. The fact is,
if you want to know it, I don't believe in the Catholic Church any
more, so there."
The moment Aileen had said this she wished she had not. It was a
slip of the tongue. Butler's face took on an inexpressibly sad,
"Ye don't believe in the Church?" he asked.
"No, not exactly--not like you do."
He shook his head.
"The harm that has come to yer soul!" he replied. "It's plain to
me, daughter, that somethin' terrible has happened to ye. This man
has ruined ye, body and soul. Somethin' must be done. I don't
want to be hard on ye, but ye must leave Philadelphy. Ye can't
stay here. I can't permit ye. Ye can go to Europe, or ye can go
to yer aunt's in New Orleans; but ye must go somewhere. I can't
have ye stayin' here--it's too dangerous. It's sure to be comin'
out. The papers'll be havin' it next. Ye're young yet. Yer life
is before you. I tremble for yer soul; but so long as ye're young
and alive ye may come to yer senses. It's me duty to be hard.
It's my obligation to you and the Church. Ye must quit this life.
Ye must lave this man. Ye must never see him any more. I can't
permit ye. He's no good. He has no intintion of marrying ye, and
it would be a crime against God and man if he did. No, no! Never
that! The man's a bankrupt, a scoundrel, a thafe. If ye had him,
ye'd soon be the unhappiest woman in the world. He wouldn't be
faithful to ye. No, he couldn't. He's not that kind." He paused,
sick to the depths of his soul. "Ye must go away. I say it once
and for all. I mane it kindly, but I want it. I have yer best
interests at heart. I love ye; but ye must. I'm sorry to see ye
go--I'd rather have ye here. No one will be sorrier; but ye must.
Ye must make it all seem natcheral and ordinary to yer mother; but
ye must go--d'ye hear? Ye must."
He paused, looking sadly but firmly at Aileen under his shaggy
eyebrows. She knew he meant this. It was his most solemn, his
most religious expression. But she did not answer. She could not.
What was the use? Only she was not going. She knew that--and so
she stood there white and tense.
"Now get all the clothes ye want," went on Butler, by no means
grasping her true mood. "Fix yourself up in any way you plase.
Say where ye want to go, but get ready."
"But I won't, father," finally replied Aileen, equally solemnly,
equally determinedly. "I won't go! I won't leave Philadelphia."
"Ye don't mane to say ye will deliberately disobey me when I'm
asking ye to do somethin' that's intended for yer own good, will
"Yes, I will," replied Aileen, determinedly. "I won't go! I'm
sorry, but I won't!"
"Ye really mane that, do ye?" asked Butler, sadly but grimly.
"Yes, I do," replied Aileen, grimly, in return.
"Then I'll have to see what I can do, daughter," replied the old
man. "Ye're still my daughter, whatever ye are, and I'll not see
ye come to wreck and ruin for want of doin' what I know to be my
solemn duty. I'll give ye a few more days to think this over, but
go ye must. There's an end of that. There are laws in this land
still. There are things that can be done to those who won't obey
the law. I found ye this time--much as it hurt me to do it. I'll
find ye again if ye try to disobey me. Ye must change yer ways.
I can't have ye goin' on as ye are. Ye understand now. It's the
last word. Give this man up, and ye can have anything ye choose.
Ye're my girl--I'll do everything I can in this world to make ye
happy. Why, why shouldn't I? What else have I to live for but me
children? It's ye and the rest of them that I've been workin' and
plannin' for all these years. Come now, be a good girl. Ye love
your old father, don't ye? Why, I rocked ye in my arms as a baby,
Aileen. I've watched over ye when ye were not bigger than what
would rest in me two fists here. I've been a good father to ye--
ye can't deny that. Look at the other girls you've seen. Have
any of them had more nor what ye have had? Ye won't go against me
in this. I'm sure ye won't. Ye can't. Ye love me too much--surely
ye do--don't ye?" His voice weakened. His eyes almost filled.
He paused and put a big, brown, horny hand on Aileen's arm. She
had listened to his plea not unmoved--really more or less softened--
because of the hopelessness of it. She could not give up Cowperwood.
Her father just did not understand. He did not know what love was.
Unquestionably he had never loved as she had.
She stood quite silent while Butler appealed to her.
"I'd like to, father," she said at last and softly, tenderly.
"Really I would. I do love you. Yes, I do. I want to please you;
but I can't in this--I can't! I love Frank Cowperwood. You don't
understand--really you don't!"
At the repetition of Cowperwood's name Butler's mouth hardened.
He could see that she was infatuated--that his carefully calculated
plea had failed. So he must think of some other way.
"Very well, then," he said at last and sadly, oh, so sadly, as
Aileen turned away. "Have it yer own way, if ye will. Ye must
go, though, willy-nilly. It can't be any other way. I wish to
God it could."
Aileen went out, very solemn, and Butler went over to his desk and
sat down. "Such a situation!" he said to himself. Such a complication!"
The situation which confronted Aileen was really a trying one. A
girl of less innate courage and determination would have weakened
and yielded. For in spite of her various social connections and
acquaintances, the people to whom Aileen could run in an emergency
of the present kind were not numerous. She could scarcely think
of any one who would be likely to take her in for any lengthy period,
without question. There were a number of young women of her own
age, married and unmarried, who were very friendly to her, but
there were few with whom she was really intimate. The only person
who stood out in her mind, as having any real possibility of refuge
for a period, was a certain Mary Calligan, better known as "Mamie"
among her friends, who had attended school with Aileen in former
years and was now a teacher in one of the local schools.
The Calligan family consisted of Mrs. Katharine Calligan, the
mother, a dressmaker by profession and a widow--her husband, a
house-mover by trade, having been killed by a falling wall some
ten years before--and Mamie, her twenty-three-year-old daughter.
They lived in a small two-story brick house in Cherry Street, near
Fifteenth. Mrs. Calligan was not a very good dressmaker, not
good enough, at least, for the Butler family to patronize in their
present exalted state. Aileen went there occasionally for gingham
house-dresses, underwear, pretty dressing-gowns, and alterations
on some of her more important clothing which was made by a very
superior modiste in Chestnut Street. She visited the house largely
because she had gone to school with Mamie at St. Agatha's, when
the outlook of the Calligan family was much more promising. Mamie
was earning forty dollars a month as the teacher of a sixth-grade
room in one of the nearby public schools, and Mrs. Calligan averaged
on the whole about two dollars a day--sometimes not so much. The
house they occupied was their own, free and clear, and the furniture
which it contained suggested the size of their joint income, which
was somewhere near eighty dollars a month.
Mamie Calligan was not good-looking, not nearly as good-looking
as her mother had been before her. Mrs. Calligan was still plump,
bright, and cheerful at fifty, with a fund of good humor. Mamie
was somewhat duller mentally and emotionally. She was serious-minded--
made so, perhaps, as much by circumstances as by anything else,
for she was not at all vivid, and had little sex magnetism. Yet
she was kindly, honest, earnest, a good Catholic, and possessed
of that strangely excessive ingrowing virtue which shuts so many
people off from the world--a sense of duty. To Mamie Calligan duty
(a routine conformity to such theories and precepts as she had
heard and worked by since her childhood) was the all-important
thing, her principal source of comfort and relief; her props in
a queer and uncertain world being her duty to her Church; her
duty to her school; her duty to her mother; her duty to her friends,
etc. Her mother often wished for Mamie's sake that she was less
dutiful and more charming physically, so that the men would like
In spite of the fact that her mother was a dressmaker, Mamie's
clothes never looked smart or attractive--she would have felt out
of keeping with herself if they had. Her shoes were rather large,
and ill-fitting; her skirt hung in lifeless lines from her hips
to her feet, of good material but seemingly bad design. At that
time the colored "jersey," so-called, was just coming into popular
wear, and, being close-fitting, looked well on those of good form.
Alas for Mamie Calligan! The mode of the time compelled her to wear
one; but she had neither the arms nor the chest development which
made this garment admirable. Her hat, by choice, was usually a
pancake affair with a long, single feather, which somehow never
seemed to be in exactly the right position, either to her hair or
her face. At most times she looked a little weary; but she was
not physically weary so much as she was bored. Her life held so
little of real charm; and Aileen Butler was unquestionably the most
significant element of romance in it.
Mamie's mother's very pleasant social disposition, the fact that
they had a very cleanly, if poor little home, that she could
entertain them by playing on their piano, and that Mrs. Calligan
took an adoring interest in the work she did for her, made up the
sum and substance of the attraction of the Calligan home for Aileen.
She went there occasionally as a relief from other things, and
because Mamie Calligan had a compatible and very understanding
interest in literature. Curiously, the books Aileen liked she
liked--Jane Eyre, Kenelm Chillingly, Tricotrin, and A Bow of Orange
Ribbon. Mamie occasionally recommended to Aileen some latest
effusion of this character; and Aileen, finding her judgment good,
was constrained to admire her.
In this crisis it was to the home of the Calligans that Aileen
turned in thought. If her father really was not nice to her, and
she had to leave home for a time, she could go to the Calligans.
They would receive her and say nothing. They were not sufficiently
well known to the other members of the Butler family to have the
latter suspect that she had gone there. She might readily disappear
into the privacy of Cherry Street and not be seen or heard of for
weeks. It is an interesting fact to contemplate that the Calligans,
like the various members of the Butler family, never suspected
Aileen of the least tendency toward a wayward existence. Hence
her flight from her own family, if it ever came, would be laid
more to the door of a temperamental pettishness than anything else.
On the other hand, in so far as the Butler family as a unit was
concerned, it needed Aileen more than she needed it. It needed
the light of her countenance to keep it appropriately cheerful,
and if she went away there would be a distinct gulf that would not
soon be overcome.
Butler, senior, for instance, had seen his little daughter grow
into radiantly beautiful womanhood. He had seen her go to school
and convent and learn to play the piano--to him a great
accomplishment. Also he had seen her manner change and become
very showy and her knowledge of life broaden, apparently, and
become to him, at least, impressive. Her smart, dogmatic views
about most things were, to him, at least, well worth listening to.
She knew more about books and art than Owen or Callum, and her
sense of social manners was perfect. When she came to the table--
breakfast, luncheon, or dinner--she was to him always a charming
object to see. He had produced Aileen--he congratulated himself.
He had furnished her the money to be so fine. He would continue
to do so. No second-rate upstart of a man should be allowed to
ruin her life. He proposed to take care of her always--to leave
her so much money in a legally involved way that a failure of a
husband could not possibly affect her. "You're the charming lady
this evenin', I'm thinkin'," was one of his pet remarks; and also,
"My, but we're that fine!" At table almost invariably she sat
beside him and looked out for him. That was what he wanted. He
had put her there beside him at his meals years before when she
was a child.
Her mother, too, was inordinately fond of her, and Callum and Owen
appropriately brotherly. So Aileen had thus far at least paid
back with beauty and interest quite as much as she received, and
all the family felt it to be so. When she was away for a day or
two the house seemed glum--the meals less appetizing. When she
returned, all were happy and gay again.
Aileen understood this clearly enough in a way. Now, when it came
to thinking of leaving and shifting for herself, in order to avoid
a trip which she did not care to be forced into, her courage was
based largely on this keen sense of her own significance to the
family. She thought over what her father had said, and decided she
must act at once. She dressed for the street the next morning,
after her father had gone, and decided to step in at the Calligans'
about noon, when Mamie would be at home for luncheon. Then she
would take up the matter casually. If they had no objection, she
would go there. She sometimes wondered why Cowperwood did not
suggest, in his great stress, that they leave for some parts unknown;
but she also felt that he must know best what he could do. His
increasing troubles depressed her.
Mrs. Calligan was alone when she arrived and was delighted to see
her. After exchanging the gossip of the day, and not knowing
quite how to proceed in connection with the errand which had brought
her, she went to the piano and played a melancholy air.
"Sure, it's lovely the way you play, Aileen," observed Mrs. Calligan
who was unduly sentimental herself. "I love to hear you. I wish
you'd come oftener to see us. You're so rarely here nowadays."
"Oh, I've been so busy, Mrs. Calligan," replied Aileen. "I've had
so much to do this fall, I just couldn't. They wanted me to go
to Europe; but I didn't care to. Oh, dear!" she sighed, and in
her playing swept off with a movement of sad, romantic significance.
The door opened and Mamie came in. Her commonplace face brightened
at the sight of Aileen.
"Well, Aileen Butler!" she exclaimed. "Where did you come from?
Where have you been keeping yourself so long?"
Aileen rose to exchange kisses. "Oh, I've been very busy, Mamie.
I've just been telling your mother. How are you, anyway? How are
you getting along in your work?"
Mamie recounted at once some school difficulties which were puzzling
her--the growing size of classes and the amount of work expected.
While Mrs. Calligan was setting the table Mamie went to her room
and Aileen followed her.
As she stood before her mirror arranging her hair Aileen looked
at her meditatively.
"What's the matter with you, Aileen, to-day?" Mamie asked. "You
look so--" She stopped to give her a second glance.
"How do I look?" asked Aileen.
"Well, as if you were uncertain or troubled about something. I
never saw you look that way before. What's the matter?"
"Oh, nothing," replied Aileen. "I was just thinking." She went
to one of the windows which looked into the little yard, meditating
on whether she could endure living here for any length of time.
The house was so small, the furnishings so very simple.
"There is something the matter with you to-day, Aileen," observed
Mamie, coming over to her and looking in her face. "You're not
like yourself at all."
"I've got something on my mind," replied Aileen--"something that's
worrying me. I don't know just what to do--that's what's the matter."
"Well, whatever can it be?" commented Mamie. "I never saw you
act this way before. Can't you tell me? What is it?"
"No, I don't think I can--not now, anyhow." Aileen paused. "Do
you suppose your mother would object," she asked, suddenly, "if
I came here and stayed a little while? I want to get away from home
for a time for a certain reason."
"Why, Aileen Butler, how you talk!" exclaimed her friend. "Object!
You know she'd be delighted, and so would I. Oh, dear--can you
come? But what makes you want to leave home?"
"That's just what I can't tell you--not now, anyhow. Not you, so
much, but your mother. You know, I'm afraid of what she'd think,"
replied Aileen. "But, you mustn't ask me yet, anyhow. I want to
think. Oh, dear! But I want to come, if you'll let me. Will you
speak to your mother, or shall I?"
"Why, I will," said Mamie, struck with wonder at this remarkable
development; "but it's silly to do it. I know what she'll say
before I tell her, and so do you. You can just bring your things
and come. That's all. She'd never say anything or ask anything,
either, and you know that--if you didn't want her to." Mamie was
all agog and aglow at the idea. She wanted the companionship of
Aileen so much.
Aileen looked at her solemnly, and understood well enough why she
was so enthusiastic--both she and her mother. Both wanted her
presence to brighten their world. "But neither of you must tell
anybody that I'm here, do you hear? I don't want any one to know--
particularly no one of my family. I've a reason, and a good one,
but I can't tell you what it is--not now, anyhow. You'll promise
not to tell any one."
"Oh, of course," replied Mamie eagerly. "But you're not going to
run away for good, are you, Aileen?" she concluded curiously and
"Oh, I don't know; I don't know what I'll do yet. I only know
that I want to get away for a while, just now--that's all." She
paused, while Mamie stood before her, agape.
"Well, of all things," replied her friend. "Wonders never cease,
do they, Aileen? But it will be so lovely to have you here. Mama
will be so pleased. Of course, we won't tell anybody if you don't
want us to. Hardly any one ever comes here; and if they do, you
needn't see them. You could have this big room next to me. Oh,
wouldn't that be nice? I'm perfectly delighted." The young
school-teacher's spirits rose to a decided height. "Come on, why
not tell mama right now?"
Aileen hesitated because even now she was not positive whether
she should do this, but finally they went down the stairs together,
Aileen lingering behind a little as they neared the bottom. Mamie
burst in upon her mother with: "Oh, mama, isn't it lovely? Aileen's
coming to stay with us for a while. She doesn't want any one to
know, and she's coming right away." Mrs. Calligan, who was holding
a sugarbowl in her hand, turned to survey her with a surprised but
smiling face. She was immediately curious as to why Aileen should
want to come--why leave home. On the other hand, her feeling for
Aileen was so deep that she was greatly and joyously intrigued by
the idea. And why not? Was not the celebrated Edward Butler's
daughter a woman grown, capable of regulating her own affairs, and
welcome, of course, as the honored member of so important a family.
It was very flattering to the Calligans to think that she would
want to come under any circumstances.
"I don't see how your parents can let you go, Aileen; but you're
certainly welcome here as long as you want to stay, and that's
forever, if you want to." And Mrs. Calligan beamed on her welcomingly.
The idea of Aileen Butler asking to be permitted to come here! And
the hearty, comprehending manner in which she said this, and Mamie's
enthusiasm, caused Aileen to breathe a sigh of relief. The matter
of the expense of her presence to the Calligans came into her mind.
"I want to pay you, of course," she said to Mrs. Calligan, "if
"The very idea, Aileen Butler!" exclaimed Mamie. "You'll do nothing
of the sort. You'll come here and live with me as my guest."
"No, I won't! If I can't pay I won't come," replied Aileen. "You'll
have to let me do that." She knew that the Calligans could not
afford to keep her.
"Well, we'll not talk about that now, anyhow," replied Mrs. Calligan.
"You can come when you like and stay as long as you like. Reach
me some clean napkins, Mamie." Aileen remained for luncheon, and
left soon afterward to keep her suggested appointment with Cowperwood,
feeling satisfied that her main problem had been solved. Now her
way was clear. She could come here if she wanted to. It was simply
a matter of collecting a few necessary things or coming without
bringing anything. Perhaps Frank would have something to suggest.
In the meantime Cowperwood made no effort to communicate with
Aileen since the unfortunate discovery of their meeting place, but
had awaited a letter from her, which was not long in coming. And,
as usual, it was a long, optimistic, affectionate, and defiant
screed in which she related all that had occurred to her and her
present plan of leaving home. This last puzzled and troubled him
not a little.
Aileen in the bosom of her family, smart and well-cared for, was
one thing. Aileen out in the world dependent on him was another.
He had never imagined that she would be compelled to leave before
he was prepared to take her; and if she did now, it might stir up
complications which would be anything but pleasant to contemplate.
Still he was fond of her, very, and would do anything to make her
happy. He could support her in a very respectable way even now,
if he did not eventually go to prison, and even there he might
manage to make some shift for her. It would be so much better,
though, if he could persuade her to remain at home until he knew
exactly what his fate was to be. He never doubted but that some
day, whatever happened, within a reasonable length of time, he
would be rid of all these complications and well-to-do again, in
which case, if he could get a divorce, he wanted to marry Aileen.
If not, he would take her with him anyhow, and from this point of
view it might be just as well as if she broke away from her family
now. But from the point of view of present complications--the
search Butler would make--it might be dangerous. He might even
publicly charge him with abduction. He therefore decided to
persuade Aileen to stay at home, drop meetings and communications
for the time being, and even go abroad. He would be all right
until she came back and so would she--common sense ought to rule
in this case.
With all this in mind he set out to keep the appointment she
suggested in her letter, nevertheless feeling it a little dangerous
to do so.
"Are you sure," he asked, after he had listened to her description
of the Calligan homestead, "that you would like it there? It sounds
rather poor to me."
"Yes, but I like them so much," replied Aileen.
"And you're sure they won't tell on you?"
"Oh, no; never, never!"
"Very well," he concluded. "You know what you're doing. I don't
want to advise you against your will. If I were you, though, I'd
take your father's advice and go away for a while. He'll get over
this then, and I'll still be here. I can write you occasionally,
and you can write me."
The moment Cowperwood said this Aileen's brow clouded. Her love
for him was so great that there was something like a knife thrust
in the merest hint at an extended separation. Her Frank here and
in trouble--on trial maybe and she away! Never! What could he mean
by suggesting such a thing? Could it be that he didn't care for
her as much as she did for him? Did he really love her? she asked
herself. Was he going to desert her just when she was going to
do the thing which would bring them nearer together? Her eyes clouded,
for she was terribly hurt.
"Why, how you talk!" she exclaimed. "You know I won't leave
Philadelphia now. You certainly don't expect me to leave you."
Cowperwood saw it all very clearly. He was too shrewd not to.
He was immensely fond of her. Good heaven, he thought, he would
not hurt her feelings for the world!
"Honey," he said, quickly, when he saw her eyes, "you don't
understand. I want you to do what you want to do. You've planned
this out in order to be with me; so now you do it. Don't think
any more about me or anything I've said. I was merely thinking
that it might make matters worse for both of us; but I don't believe
it will. You think your father loves you so much that after you're
gone he'll change his mind. Very good; go. But we must be very
careful, sweet--you and I--really we must. This thing is getting
serious. If you should go and your father should charge me with
abduction--take the public into his confidence and tell all about
this, it would be serious for both of us--as much for you as for
me, for I'd be convicted sure then, just on that account, if nothing
else. And then what? You'd better not try to see me often for the
present--not any oftener than we can possibly help. If we had
used common sense and stopped when your father got that letter,
this wouldn't have happened. But now that it has happened, we
must be as wise as we can, don't you see? So, think it over, and
do what you think best and then write me and whatever you do will
be all right with me--do you hear?" He drew her to him and kissed
her. "You haven't any money, have you?" he concluded wisely.
Aileen, deeply moved by all he had just said, was none the less
convinced once she had meditated on it a moment, that her course
was best. Her father loved her too much. He would not do
anything to hurt her publicly and so he would not attack Cowperwood
through her openly. More than likely, as she now explained to
Frank, he would plead with her to come back. And he, listening,
was compelled to yield. Why argue? She would not leave him anyhow.
He went down in his pocket for the first time since he had known
Aileen and produced a layer of bills. "Here's two hundred dollars,
sweet," he said, "until I see or hear from you. I'll see that you
have whatever you need; and now don't think that I don't love you.
You know I do. I'm crazy about you."
Aileen protested that she did not need so much--that she did not
really need any--she had some at home; but he put that aside. He
knew that she must have money.
"Don't talk, honey," he said. "I know what you need." She had
been so used to receiving money from her father and mother in
comfortable amounts from time to time that she thought nothing of
it. Frank loved her so much that it made everything right between
them. She softened in her mood and they discussed the matter of
letters, reaching the conclusion that a private messenger would
be safest. When finally they parted, Aileen, from being sunk in
the depths by his uncertain attitude, was now once more on the
heights. She decided that he did love her, and went away smiling.
She had her Frank to fall back on--she would teach her father.
Cowperwood shook his head, following her with his eyes. She
represented an additional burden, but give her up, he certainly
could not. Tear the veil from this illusion of affection and make
her feel so wretched when he cared for her so much? No. There was
really nothing for him to do but what he had done. After all, he
reflected, it might not work out so badly. Any detective work
that Butler might choose to do would prove that she had not run
to him. If at any moment it became necessary to bring common
sense into play to save the situation from a deadly climax, he
could have the Butlers secretly informed as to Aileen's whereabouts.
That would show he had little to do with it, and they could try
to persuade Aileen to come home again. Good might result--one
could not tell. He would deal with the evils as they arose. He
drove quickly back to his office, and Aileen returned to her home
determined to put her plan into action. Her father had given her
some little time in which to decide--possibly he would give her
longer--but she would not wait. Having always had her wish granted
in everything, she could not understand why she was not to have
her way this time. It was about five o'clock now. She would wait
until all the members of the family were comfortably seated at the
dinner-table, which would be about seven o'clock, and then slip
On arriving home, however, she was greeted by an unexpected reason
for suspending action. This was the presence of a certain Mr. and
Mrs. Steinmetz--the former a well-known engineer who drew the
plans for many of the works which Butler undertook. It was the
day before Thanksgiving, and they were eager to have Aileen and
Norah accompany them for a fortnight's stay at their new home in
West Chester--a structure concerning the charm of which Aileen
had heard much. They were exceedingly agreeable people--
comparatively young and surrounded by a coterie of interesting
friends. Aileen decided to delay her flight and go. Her father
was most cordial. The presence and invitation of the Steinmetzes
was as much a relief to him as it was to Aileen. West Chester
being forty miles from Philadelphia, it was unlikely that Aileen
would attempt to meet Cowperwood while there.
She wrote Cowperwood of the changed condition and departed, and
he breathed a sigh of relief, fancying at the time that this storm
had permanently blown over.
In the meanwhile the day of Cowperwood's trial was drawing near.
He was under the impression that an attempt was going to be made
to convict him whether the facts warranted it or not. He did
not see any way out of his dilemma, however, unless it was to
abandon everything and leave Philadelphia for good, which was
impossible. The only way to guard his future and retain his
financial friends was to stand trial as quickly as possible, and
trust them to assist him to his feet in the future in case he
failed. He discussed the possibilities of an unfair trial with
Steger, who did not seem to think that there was so much to that.
In the first place, a jury could not easily be suborned by any one.
In the next place, most judges were honest, in spite of their
political cleavage, and would go no further than party bias would
lead them in their rulings and opinions, which was, in the main,
not so far. The particular judge who was to sit in this case, one
Wilbur Payderson, of the Court of Quarter Sessions, was a strict
party nominee, and as such beholden to Mollenhauer, Simpson, and
Butler; but, in so far as Steger had ever heard, he was an honest
"What I can't understand," said Steger, "is why these fellows
should be so anxious to punish you, unless it is for the effect
on the State at large. The election's over. I understand there's
a movement on now to get Stener out in case he is convicted, which
he will be. They have to try him. He won't go up for more than
a year, or two or three, and if he does he'll be pardoned out in
half the time or less. It would be the same in your case, if you
were convicted. They couldn't keep you in and let him out. But
it will never get that far--take my word for it. We'll win before
a jury, or we'll reverse the judgment of conviction before the
State Supreme Court, certain. Those five judges up there are not
going to sustain any such poppycock idea as this."
Steger actually believed what he said, and Cowperwood was pleased.
Thus far the young lawyer had done excellently well in all of his
cases. Still, he did not like the idea of being hunted down by
Butler. It was a serious matter, and one of which Steger was
totally unaware. Cowperwood could never quite forget that in
listening to his lawyer's optimistic assurances.
The actual beginning of the trial found almost all of the inhabitants
of this city of six hundred thousand "keyed up." None of the
women of Cowperwood's family were coming into court. He had
insisted that there should be no family demonstration for the
newspapers to comment upon. His father was coming, for he might
be needed as a witness. Aileen had written him the afternoon
before saying she had returned from West Chester and wishing him
luck. She was so anxious to know what was to become of him that
she could not stay away any longer and had returned--not to go
to the courtroom, for he did not want her to do that, but to be
as near as possible when his fate was decided, adversely or otherwise.
She wanted to run and congratulate him if he won, or to console
with him if he lost. She felt that her return would be likely to
precipitate a collision with her father, but she could not help that.
The position of Mrs. Cowperwood was most anomalous. She had to
go through the formality of seeming affectionate and tender, even
when she knew that Frank did not want her to be. He felt
instinctively now that she knew of Aileen. He was merely awaiting
the proper hour in which to spread the whole matter before her.
She put her arms around him at the door on the fateful morning,
in the somewhat formal manner into which they had dropped these
later years, and for a moment, even though she was keenly aware
of his difficulties, she could not kiss him. He did not want to
kiss her, but he did not show it. She did kiss him, though, and
added: "Oh, I do hope things come out all right."
"You needn't worry about that, I think, Lillian," he replied,
buoyantly. "I'll be all right."
He ran down the steps and walked out on Girard Avenue to his former
car line, where he bearded a car. He was thinking of Aileen and
how keenly she was feeling for him, and what a mockery his married
life now was, and whether he would face a sensible jury, and so
on and so forth. If he didn't--if he didn't--this day was crucial!
He stepped off the car at Third and Market and hurried to his
office. Steger was already there. "Well, Harper," observed
Cowperwood, courageously, "today's the day."
The Court of Quarter Sessions, Part I, where this trial was to take
place, was held in famous Independence Hall, at Sixth and Chestnut
Streets, which was at this time, as it had been for all of a century
before, the center of local executive and judicial life. It was a
low two-story building of red brick, with a white wooden central
tower of old Dutch and English derivation, compounded of the square,
the circle, and the octagon. The total structure consisted of a
central portion and two T-shaped wings lying to the right and left,
whose small, oval-topped old-fashioned windows and doors were set
with those many-paned sashes so much admired by those who love
what is known as Colonial architecture. Here, and in an addition
known as State House Row (since torn down), which extended from
the rear of the building toward Walnut Street, were located the
offices of the mayor, the chief of police, the city treasurer, the
chambers of council, and all the other important and executive
offices of the city, together with the four branches of Quarter
Sessions, which sat to hear the growing docket of criminal cases.
The mammoth city hall which was subsequently completed at Broad
and Market Streets was then building.
An attempt had been made to improve the reasonably large courtrooms
by putting in them raised platforms of dark walnut surmounted by
large, dark walnut desks, behind which the judges sat; but the
attempt was not very successful. The desks, jury-boxes, and
railings generally were made too large, and so the general effect
was one of disproportion. A cream-colored wall had been thought
the appropriate thing to go with black walnut furniture, but time
and dust had made the combination dreary. There were no pictures
or ornaments of any kind, save the stalky, over-elaborated
gas-brackets which stood on his honor's desk, and the single swinging
chandelier suspended from the center of the ceiling. Fat bailiffs
and court officers, concerned only in holding their workless jobs,
did not add anything to the spirit of the scene. Two of them in
the particular court in which this trial was held contended hourly
as to which should hand the judge a glass of water. One preceded
his honor like a fat, stuffy, dusty majordomo to and from his
dressing-room. His business was to call loudly, when the latter
entered, "His honor the Court, hats off. Everybody please rise,"
while a second bailiff, standing at the left of his honor when he
was seated, and between the jury-box and the witness-chair, recited
in an absolutely unintelligible way that beautiful and dignified
statement of collective society's obligation to the constituent
units, which begins, "Hear ye! hear ye! hear ye!" and ends, "All
those of you having just cause for complaint draw near and ye shall
be heard." However, you would have thought it was of no import
here. Custom and indifference had allowed it to sink to a mumble.
A third bailiff guarded the door of the jury-room; and in addition
to these there were present a court clerk--small, pale, candle-waxy,
with colorless milk-and-water eyes, and thin, pork-fat-colored hair
and beard, who looked for all the world like an Americanized and
decidedly decrepit Chinese mandarin--and a court stenographer.
Judge Wilbur Payderson, a lean herring of a man, who had sat in
this case originally as the examining judge when Cowperwood had
been indicted by the grand jury, and who had bound him over for
trial at this term, was a peculiarly interesting type of judge,
as judges go. He was so meager and thin-blooded that he was
arresting for those qualities alone. Technically, he was learned
in the law; actually, so far as life was concerned, absolutely
unconscious of that subtle chemistry of things that transcends all
written law and makes for the spirit and, beyond that, the inutility
of all law, as all wise judges know. You could have looked at his
lean, pedantic body, his frizzled gray hair, his fishy, blue-gray
eyes, without any depth of speculation in them, and his nicely
modeled but unimportant face, and told him that he was without
imagination; but he would not have believed you--would have fined
you for contempt of court. By the careful garnering of all his
little opportunities, the furbishing up of every meager advantage;
by listening slavishly to the voice of party, and following as
nearly as he could the behests of intrenched property, he had
reached his present state. It was not very far along, at that.
His salary was only six thousand dollars a year. His little fame
did not extend beyond the meager realm of local lawyers and judges.
But the sight of his name quoted daily as being about his duties,
or rendering such and such a decision, was a great satisfaction
to him. He thought it made him a significant figure in the world.
"Behold I am not as other men," he often thought, and this comforted
him. He was very much flattered when a prominent case came to his
calendar; and as he sat enthroned before the various litigants and
lawyers he felt, as a rule, very significant indeed. Now and then
some subtlety of life would confuse his really limited intellect;
but in all such cases there was the letter of the law. He could
hunt in the reports to find out what really thinking men had
decided. Besides, lawyers everywhere are so subtle. They put the
rules of law, favorable or unfavorable, under the judge's thumb
and nose. "Your honor, in the thirty-second volume of the Revised
Reports of Massachusetts, page so and so, line so and so, in Arundel
versus Bannerman, you will find, etc." How often have you heard
that in a court of law? The reasoning that is left to do in most
cases is not much. And the sanctity of the law is raised like a
great banner by which the pride of the incumbent is strengthened.
Payderson, as Steger had indicated, could scarcely be pointed to
as an unjust judge. He was a party judge--Republican in principle,
or rather belief, beholden to the dominant party councils for his
personal continuance in office, and as such willing and anxious
to do whatever he considered that he reasonably could do to further
the party welfare and the private interests of his masters. Most
people never trouble to look into the mechanics of the thing they
call their conscience too closely. Where they do, too often they
lack the skill to disentangle the tangled threads of ethics and
morals. Whatever the opinion of the time is, whatever the weight
of great interests dictates, that they conscientiously believe.
Some one has since invented the phrase "a corporation-minded judge."
There are many such.
Payderson was one. He fairly revered property and power. To him
Butler and Mollenhauer and Simpson were great men--reasonably sure
to be right always because they were so powerful. This matter of
Cowperwood's and Stener's defalcation he had long heard of. He
knew by associating with one political light and another just what
the situation was. The party, as the leaders saw it, had been put
in a very bad position by Cowperwood's subtlety. He had led Stener
astray--more than an ordinary city treasurer should have been led
astray--and, although Stener was primarily guilty as the original
mover in the scheme, Cowperwood was more so for having led him
imaginatively to such disastrous lengths. Besides, the party
needed a scapegoat--that was enough for Payderson, in the first
place. Of course, after the election had been won, and it appeared
that the party had not suffered so much, he did not understand
quite why it was that Cowperwood was still so carefully included
in the Proceedings; but he had faith to believe that the leaders
had some just grounds for not letting him off. From one source
and another he learned that Butler had some private grudge against
Cowperwood. What it was no one seemed to know exactly. The general
impression was that Cowperwood had led Butler into some unwholesome
financial transactions. Anyhow, it was generally understood that
for the good of the party, and in order to teach a wholesome lesson
to dangerous subordinates--it had been decided to allow these
several indictments to take their course. Cowperwood was to be
punished quite as severely as Stener for the moral effect on the
community. Stener was to be sentenced the maximum sentence for
his crime in order that the party and the courts should appear
properly righteous. Beyond that he was to be left to the mercy
of the governor, who could ease things up for him if he chose, and
if the leaders wished. In the silly mind of the general public
the various judges of Quarter Sessions, like girls incarcerated
in boarding-schools, were supposed in their serene aloofness from
life not to know what was going on in the subterranean realm of
politics; but they knew well enough, and, knowing particularly
well from whence came their continued position and authority,
they were duly grateful.
When Cowperwood came into the crowded courtroom with his father
and Steger, quite fresh and jaunty (looking the part of the shrewd
financier, the man of affairs), every one stared. It was really
too much to expect, most of them thought, that a man like this
would be convicted. He was, no doubt, guilty; but, also, no doubt,
he had ways and means of evading the law. His lawyer, Harper
Steger, looked very shrewd and canny to them. It was very cold,
and both men wore long, dark, bluish-gray overcoats, cut in the
latest mode. Cowperwood was given to small boutonnieres in fair
weather, but to-day he wore none. His tie, however, was of heavy,
impressive silk, of lavender hue, set with a large, clear, green
emerald. He wore only the thinnest of watch-chains, and no other
ornament of any kind. He always looked jaunty and yet reserved,
good-natured, and yet capable and self-sufficient. Never had he
looked more so than he did to-day.
He at once took in the nature of the scene, which had a peculiar
interest for him. Before him was the as yet empty judge's rostrum,
and at its right the empty jury-box, between which, and to the
judge's left, as he sat facing the audience, stood the witness-chair
where he must presently sit and testify. Behind it, already awaiting
the arrival of the court, stood a fat bailiff, one John Sparkheaver
whose business it was to present the aged, greasy Bible to be
touched by the witnesses in making oath, and to say, "Step this
way," when the testimony was over. There were other bailiffs--one
at the gate giving into the railed space before the judge's desk,
where prisoners were arraigned, lawyers sat or pleaded, the
defendant had a chair, and so on; another in the aisle leading to
the jury-room, and still another guarding the door by which the
public entered. Cowperwood surveyed Stener, who was one of the
witnesses, and who now, in his helpless fright over his own fate,
was without malice toward any one. He had really never borne any.
He wished if anything now that he had followed Cowperwood's advice,
seeing where he now was, though he still had faith that Mollenhauer
and the political powers represented by him would do something for
him with the governor, once he was sentenced. He was very pale
and comparatively thin. Already he had lost that ruddy bulk which
had been added during the days of his prosperity. He wore a new
gray suit and a brown tie, and was clean-shaven. When his eye
caught Cowperwood's steady beam, it faltered and drooped. He
rubbed his ear foolishly. Cowperwood nodded.
"You know," he said to Steger, "I feel sorry for George. He's
such a fool. Still I did all I could."
Cowperwood also watched Mrs. Stener out of the tail of his eye--
an undersized, peaked, and sallow little woman, whose clothes
fitted her abominably. It was just like Stener to marry a woman
like that, he thought. The scrubby matches of the socially unelect
or unfit always interested, though they did not always amuse, him.
Mrs. Stener had no affection for Cowperwood, of course, looking on
him, as she did, as the unscrupulous cause of her husband's downfall.
They were now quite poor again, about to move from their big house
into cheaper quarters; and this was not pleasing for her to
Judge Payderson came in after a time, accompanied by his undersized
but stout court attendant, who looked more like a pouter-pigeon
than a human being; and as they came, Bailiff Sparkheaver rapped
on the judge's desk, beside which he had been slumbering, and
mumbled, "Please rise!" The audience arose, as is the rule of all
courts. Judge Payderson stirred among a number of briefs that were
lying on his desk, and asked, briskly, "What's the first case, Mr.
Protus?" He was speaking to his clerk.
During the long and tedious arrangement of the day's docket and
while the various minor motions of lawyers were being considered,
this courtroom scene still retained interest for Cowperwood. He
was so eager to win, so incensed at the outcome of untoward events
which had brought him here. He was always intensely irritated,
though he did not show it, by the whole process of footing delays
and queries and quibbles, by which legally the affairs of men were
too often hampered. Law, if you had asked him, and he had accurately
expressed himself, was a mist formed out of the moods and the
mistakes of men, which befogged the sea of life and prevented plain
sailing for the little commercial and social barques of men; it
was a miasma of misinterpretation where the ills of life festered,
and also a place where the accidentally wounded were ground between
the upper and the nether millstones of force or chance; it was a
strange, weird, interesting, and yet futile battle of wits where
the ignorant and the incompetent and the shrewd and the angry and
the weak were made pawns and shuttlecocks for men--lawyers, who
were playing upon their moods, their vanities, their desires, and
their necessities. It was an unholy and unsatisfactory disrupting
and delaying spectacle, a painful commentary on the frailties of
life, and men, a trick, a snare, a pit and gin. In the hands of
the strong, like himself when he was at his best, the law was a
sword and a shield, a trap to place before the feet of the unwary;
a pit to dig in the path of those who might pursue. It was
anything you might choose to make of it--a door to illegal
opportunity; a cloud of dust to be cast in the eyes of those who
might choose, and rightfully, to see; a veil to be dropped arbitrarily
between truth and its execution, justice and its judgment, crime
and punishment. Lawyers in the main were intellectual mercenaries
to be bought and sold in any cause. It amused him to hear the
ethical and emotional platitudes of lawyers, to see how readily
they would lie, steal, prevaricate, misrepresent in almost any
cause and for any purpose. Great lawyers were merely great
unscrupulous subtleties, like himself, sitting back in dark,
close-woven lairs like spiders and awaiting the approach of unwary
human flies. Life was at best a dark, inhuman, unkind, unsympathetic
struggle built of cruelties and the law, and its lawyers were the
most despicable representatives of the whole unsatisfactory mess.
Still he used law as he would use any other trap or weapon to rid
him of a human ill; and as for lawyers, he picked them up as he
would any club or knife wherewith to defend himself. He had no
particular respect for any of them--not even Harper Steger, though
he liked him. They were tools to be used--knives, keys, clubs,
anything you will; but nothing more. When they were through they
were paid and dropped--put aside and forgotten. As for judges,
they were merely incompetent lawyers, at a rule, who were shelved
by some fortunate turn of chance, and who would not, in all
likelihood, be as efficient as the lawyers who pleaded before
them if they were put in the same position. He had no respect for
judges--he knew too much about them. He knew how often they were
sycophants, political climbers, political hacks, tools, time-servers,
judicial door-mats lying before the financially and politically
great and powerful who used them as such. Judges were fools, as
were most other people in this dusty, shifty world. Pah! His
inscrutable eyes took them all in and gave no sign. His only
safety lay, he thought, in the magnificent subtley of his own
brain, and nowhere else. You could not convince Cowperwood of any
great or inherent virtue in this mortal scheme of things. He knew
too much; he knew himself.
When the judge finally cleared away the various minor motions
pending, he ordered his clerk to call the case of the City of
Philadelphia versus Frank A. Cowperwood, which was done in a clear
voice. Both Dennis Shannon, the new district attorney, and Steger,
were on their feet at once. Steger and Cowperwood, together with
Shannon and Strobik, who had now come in and was standing as the
representative of the State of Pennsylvania--the complainant--had
seated themselves at the long table inside the railing which
inclosed the space before the judge's desk. Steger proposed to
Judge Payderson, for effect's sake more than anything else, that
this indictment be quashed, but was overruled.
A jury to try the case was now quickly impaneled--twelve men out
of the usual list called to serve for the month--and was then ready
to be challenged by the opposing counsel. The business of impaneling
a jury was a rather simple thing so far as this court was concerned.
It consisted in the mandarin-like clerk taking the names of all
the jurors called to serve in this court for the month--some fifty
in all--and putting them, each written on a separate slip of paper,
in a whirling drum, spinning it around a few times, and then lifting
out the first slip which his hand encountered, thus glorifying
chance and settling on who should be juror No. 1. His hand reaching
in twelve times drew out the names of the twelve jurymen, who as
their names were called, were ordered to take their places in the
Cowperwood observed this proceeding with a great deal of interest.
What could be more important than the men who were going to try him?
The process was too swift for accurate judgment, but he received
a faint impression of middle-class men. One man in particular,
however, an old man of sixty-five, with iron-gray hair and beard,
shaggy eyebrows, sallow complexion, and stooped shoulders, struck
him as having that kindness of temperament and breadth of experience
which might under certain circumstances be argumentatively swayed
in his favor. Another, a small, sharp-nosed, sharp-chinned commercial
man of some kind, he immediately disliked.
"I hope I don't have to have that man on my jury," he said to
"You don't," replied Steger. "I'll challenge him. We have the
right to fifteen peremptory challenges on a case like this, and
so has the prosecution."
When the jury-box was finally full, the two lawyers waited for the
clerk to bring them the small board upon which slips of paper bearing
the names of the twelve jurors were fastened in rows in order of
their selection--jurors one, two, and three being in the first row;
four, five, and six in the second, and so on. It being the
prerogative of the attorney for the prosecution to examine and
challenge the jurors first, Shannon arose, and, taking the board,
began to question them as to their trades or professions, their
knowledge of the case before the court, and their possible prejudice
for or against the prisoner.
It was the business of both Steger and Shannon to find men who knew
a little something of finance and could understand a peculiar
situation of this kind without any of them (looking at it from
Steger's point of view) having any prejudice against a man's trying
to assist himself by reasonable means to weather a financial storm
or (looking at it from Shannon's point of view) having any sympathy
with such means, if they bore about them the least suspicion of
chicanery, jugglery, or dishonest manipulation of any kind. As
both Shannon and Steger in due course observed for themselves in
connection with this jury, it was composed of that assorted social
fry which the dragnets of the courts, cast into the ocean of the
city, bring to the surface for purposes of this sort. It was made
up in the main of managers, agents, tradesmen, editors, engineers,
architects, furriers, grocers, traveling salesmen, authors, and
every other kind of working citizen whose experience had fitted
him for service in proceedings of this character. Rarely would
you have found a man of great distinction; but very frequently a
group of men who were possessed of no small modicum of that
interesting quality known as hard common sense.
Throughout all this Cowperwood sat quietly examining the men. A
young florist, with a pale face, a wide speculative forehead, and
anemic hands, struck him as being sufficiently impressionable to
his personal charm to be worth while. He whispered as much to
Steger. There was a shrewd Jew, a furrier, who was challenged
because he had read all of the news of the panic and had lost two
thousand dollars in street-railway stocks. There was a stout
wholesale grocer, with red cheeks, blue eyes, and flaxen hair, who
Cowperwood said he thought was stubborn. He was eliminated. There
was a thin, dapper manager of a small retail clothing store, very
anxious to be excused, who declared, falsely, that he did not
believe in swearing by the Bible. Judge Payderson, eyeing him
severely, let him go. There were some ten more in all--men who
knew of Cowperwood, men who admitted they were prejudiced, men who
were hidebound Republicans and resentful of this crime, men who
knew Stener--who were pleasantly eliminated.
By twelve o'clock, however, a jury reasonably satisfactory to
both sides had been chosen.
At two o'clock sharp Dennis Shannon, as district attorney, began
his opening address. He stated in a very simple, kindly way--for
he had a most engaging manner--that the indictment as here presented
charged Mr. Frank A. Cowperwood, who was sitting at the table
inside the jury-rail, first with larceny, second with embezzlement,
third with larceny as bailee, and fourth with embezzlement of a
certain sum of money--a specific sum, to wit, sixty thousand
dollars--on a check given him (drawn to his order) October 9, 1871,
which was intended to reimburse him for a certain number of
certificates of city loan, which he as agent or bailee of the check
was supposed to have purchased for the city sinking-fund on the
order of the city treasurer (under some form of agreement which
had been in existence between them, and which had been in force
for some time)--said fund being intended to take up such certificates
as they might mature in the hands of holders and be presented for
payment--for which purpose, however, the check in question had
never been used.
"Now, gentlemen," said Mr. Shannon, very quietly, "before we go
into this very simple question of whether Mr. Cowperwood did or
did not on the date in question get from the city treasurer sixty
thousand dollars, for which he made no honest return, let me
explain to you just what the people mean when they charge him
first with larceny, second with embezzlement, third with larceny
as bailee, and fourth with embezzlement on a check. Now, as you
see, there are four counts here, as we lawyers term them, and the
reason there are four counts is as follows: A man may be guilty
of larceny and embezzlement at the same time, or of larceny or
embezzlement separately, and without being guilty of the other,
and the district attorney representing the people might be uncertain,
not that he was not guilty of both, but that it might not be possible
to present the evidence under one count, so as to insure his adequate
punishment for a crime which in a way involved both. In such cases,
gentlemen, it is customary to indict a man under separate counts,
as has been done in this case. Now, the four counts in this case,
in a way, overlap and confirm each other, and it will be your duty,
after we have explained their nature and character and presented
the evidence, to say whether the defendant is guilty on one count
or the other, or on two or three of the counts, or on all four, just
as you see fit and proper--or, to put it in a better way, as the
evidence warrants. Larceny, as you may or may not know, is the
act of taking away the goods or chattels of another without his
knowledge or consent, and embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation
to one's own use of what is intrusted to one's care and management,
especially money. Larceny as bailee, on the other hand, is simply
a more definite form of larceny wherein one fixes the act of
carrying away the goods of another without his knowledge or consent
on the person to whom the goods were delivered in trust that is,
the agent or bailee. Embezzlement on a check, which constitutes
the fourth charge, is simply a more definite form of fixing charge
number two in an exact way and signifies appropriating the money
on a check given for a certain definite purpose. All of these
charges, as you can see, gentlemen, are in a way synonymous. They
overlap and overlay each other. The people, through their
representative, the district attorney, contend that Mr. Cowperwood,
the defendant here, is guilty of all four charges. So now, gentlemen,
we will proceed to the history of this crime, which proves to me
as an individual that this defendant has one of the most subtle
and dangerous minds of the criminal financier type, and we hope
by witnesses to prove that to you, also."
Shannon, because the rules of evidence and court procedure here
admitted of no interruption of the prosecution in presenting a
case, then went on to describe from his own point of view how
Cowperwood had first met Stener; how he had wormed himself into
his confidence; how little financial knowledge Stener had, and
so forth; coming down finally to the day the check for sixty
thousand dollars was given Cowperwood; how Stener, as treasurer,
claimed that he knew nothing of its delivery, which constituted
the base of the charge of larceny; how Cowperwood, having it,
misappropriated the certificates supposed to have been purchased
for the sinking-fund, if they were purchased at all--all of which
Shannon said constituted the crimes with which the defendant was
charged, and of which he was unquestionably guilty.
"We have direct and positive evidence of all that we have thus
far contended, gentlemen," Mr. Shannon concluded violently. "This
is not a matter of hearsay or theory, but of fact. You will be
shown by direct testimony which cannot be shaken just how it was
done. If, after you have heard all this, you still think this man
is innocent--that he did not commit the crimes with which he is
charged--it is your business to acquit him. On the other hand,
if you think the witnesses whom we shall put on the stand are
telling the truth, then it is your business to convict him, to
find a verdict for the people as against the defendant. I thank
you for your attention."
The jurors stirred comfortably and took positions of ease, in which
they thought they were to rest for the time; but their idle comfort
was of short duration for Shannon now called out the name of George
W. Stener, who came hurrying forward very pale, very flaccid, very
tired-looking. His eyes, as he took his seat in the witness-chair,
laying his hand on the Bible and swearing to tell the truth, roved
in a restless, nervous manner.
His voice was a little weak as he started to give his testimony.
He told first how he had met Cowperwood in the early months of
1866--he could not remember the exact day; it was during his first
term as city treasurer--he had been elected to the office in the
fall of 1864. He had been troubled about the condition of city
loan, which was below par, and which could not be sold by the city
legally at anything but par. Cowperwood had been recommended to
him by some one--Mr. Strobik, he believed, though he couldn't be
sure. It was the custom of city treasurers to employ brokers, or
a broker, in a crisis of this kind, and he was merely following
what had been the custom. He went on to describe, under steady
promptings and questions from the incisive mind of Shannon, just
what the nature of this first conversation was--he remembered it
fairly well; how Mr. Cowperwood had said he thought he could do
what was wanted; how he had gone away and drawn up a plan or thought
one out; and how he had returned and laid it before Stener. Under
Shannon's skillful guidance Stener elucidated just what this scheme
was--which wasn't exactly so flattering to the honesty of men in
general as it was a testimonial to their subtlety and skill.
After much discussion of Stener's and Cowperwood's relations the
story finally got down to the preceding October, when by reason
of companionship, long business understanding, mutually prosperous
relationship, etc., the place bad been reached where, it was
explained, Cowperwood was not only handling several millions of
city loan annually, buying and selling for the city and trading
in it generally, but in the bargain had secured one five hundred
thousand dollars' worth of city money at an exceedingly low rate
of interest, which was being invested for himself and Stener in
profitable street-car ventures of one kind and another. Stener
was not anxious to be altogether clear on this point; but Shannon,
seeing that he was later to prosecute Stener himself for this very
crime of embezzlement, and that Steger would soon follow in
cross-examination, was not willing to let him be hazy. Shannon
wanted to fix Cowperwood in the minds of the jury as a clever,
tricky person, and by degrees he certainly managed to indicate a
very subtle-minded man. Occasionally, as one sharp point after
another of Cowperwood's skill was brought out and made moderately
clear, one juror or another turned to look at Cowperwood. And he
noting this and in order to impress them all as favorably as
possible merely gazed Stenerward with a steady air of intelligence
The examination now came down to the matter of the particular check
for sixty thousand dollars which Albert Stires had handed Cowperwood
on the afternoon--late--of October 9, 1871. Shannon showed Stener
the check itself. Had he ever seen it? Yes. Where? In the office
of District Attorney Pettie on October 20th, or thereabouts last.
Was that the first time he had seen it? Yes. Had he ever heard
about it before then? Yes. When? On October 10th last. Would he
kindly tell the jury in his own way just how and under what
circumstances he first heard of it then? Stener twisted uncomfortably
in his chair. It was a hard thing to do. It was not a pleasant
commentary on his own character and degree of moral stamina, to
say the least. However, he cleared his throat again and began a
description of that small but bitter section of his life's drama
in which Cowperwood, finding himself in a tight place and about
to fail, had come to him at his office and demanded that he loan
him three hundred thousand dollars more in one lump sum.
There was considerable bickering just at this point between Steger
and Shannon, for the former was very anxious to make it appear
that Stener was lying out of the whole cloth about this. Steger
got in his objection at this point, and created a considerable
diversion from the main theme, because Stener kept saying he
"thought" or he "believed."
"Object!" shouted Steger, repeatedly. "I move that that be
stricken from the record as incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial.
The witness is not allowed to say what he thinks, and the
prosecution knows it very well."
"Your honor," insisted Shannon, "I am doing the best I can to have
the witness tell a plain, straightforward story, and I think that
it is obvious that he is doing so."
"Object!" reiterated Steger, vociferously. "Your honor, I insist
that the district attorney has no right to prejudice the minds of
the jury by flattering estimates of the sincerity of the witness.
What he thinks of the witness and his sincerity is of no importance
in this case. I must ask that your honor caution him plainly in
"Objection sustained," declared Judge Payderson, "the prosecution
will please be more explicit"; and Shannon went on with his case.
Stener's testimony, in one respect, was most important, for it made
plain what Cowperwood did not want brought out--namely, that he
and Stener had had a dispute before this; that Stener had distinctly
told Cowperwood that he would not loan him any more money; that
Cowperwood had told Stener, on the day before he secured this check,
and again on that very day, that he was in a very desperate situation
financially, and that if he were not assisted to the extent of
three hundred thousand dollars he would fail, and that then both
he and Stener would be ruined. On the morning of this day, according
to Stener, he had sent Cowperwood a letter ordering him to cease
purchasing city loan certificates for the sinking-fund. It was
after their conversation on the same afternoon that Cowperwood
surreptitiously secured the check for sixty thousand dollars from
Albert Stires without his (Stener's) knowledge; and it was subsequent
to this latter again that Stener, sending Albert to demand the
return of the check, was refused, though the next day at five
o'clock in the afternoon Cowperwood made an assignment. And the
certificates for which the check had been purloined were not in
the sinking-fund as they should have been. This was dark testimony
If any one imagines that all this was done without many vehement
objections and exceptions made and taken by Steger, and subsequently
when he was cross-examining Stener, by Shannon, he errs greatly.
At times the chamber was coruscating with these two gentlemen's
bitter wrangles, and his honor was compelled to hammer his desk
with his gavel, and to threaten both with contempt of court, in
order to bring them to a sense of order. Indeed while Payderson
was highly incensed, the jury was amused and interested.
"You gentlemen will have to stop this, or I tell you now that you
will both be heavily fined. This is a court of law, not a bar-room.
Mr. Steger, I expect you to apologize to me and your colleague at
once. Mr. Shannon, I must ask that you use less aggressive methods.
Your manner is offensive to me. It is not becoming to a court of
law. I will not caution either of you again."
Both lawyers apologized as lawyers do on such occasions, but it
really made but little difference. Their individual attitudes
and moods continued about as before.
"What did he say to you," asked Shannon of Stener, after one of
these troublesome interruptions, "on that occasion, October 9th
last, when he came to you and demanded the loan of an additional
three hundred thousand dollars? Give his words as near as you can
remember--exactly, if possible."
"Object!" interposed Steger, vigorously. "His exact words are