Part 2 out of 3
greatest living exponents. Only his own elegant languor had
prevented the universal recognition of this and his triumph over
the envy of professionals and the venality of critics.
It was a concert night in Tompkins Square, and Hilda, off from
her work for an hour, came alone through the crowds to meet him.
She made no effort to control the delight in her eyes and in her
voice. She loved him; he loved her. Why suppress and deny? Why
not glory in the glorious truth? She loved him, not because he
was her conquest, but because she was his.
Mr. Feuerstein was so absorbed in his impending ``act'' that he
barely noted how pretty she was and how utterly in love--what was
there remarkable in a woman being in love with him? ``The women
are all crazy about me,'' was his inward comment whenever a woman
chanced to glance at him. As he took Hilda's hand he gave her a
look of intense, yearning melancholy. He sighed deeply. ``Let
us go apart,'' he said. Then he glanced gloomily round and
They seated themselves on a bench far away from the music and the
crowds. He did not speak but repeated his deep sigh.
``Has it made you worse to come, dear?'' Hilda asked anxiously.
``Are you sick?''
``Sick?'' he said in a hollow voice. ``My soul is sick--dying.
My God! My God!'' An impressive pause. ``Ah, child, you do not
know what suffering is--you who have lived only in these simple,
Hilda was trembling with apprehension. ``What is it, Carl? You
can tell me. Let me help you bear it.''
``No! no! I must bear it alone. I must take my dark shadow from
your young life. I ought not to have come. I should have fled.
But love makes me a coward.''
``But I love you, Carl,'' she said gently.
``And I have missed you--dreadfully, dreadfully!''
He rolled his eyes wildly. ``You torture me!'' he exclaimed,
seizing her hand in a dead man's clutch. ``How CAN I speak?''
Hilda's heart seemed to stand still. She was pale to the lips,
and he could see, even in the darkness, her eyes grow and
``What is it?'' she murrmured. ``You know I--can bear anything
``Not that tone,'' he groaned. ``Reproach me! Revile me! Be
harsh, scornful--but not those tender accents.''
He felt her hand become cold and he saw terror in her eyes.
``Forgive me,'' she said humbly. ``I don't know what to say or
do. I--you look so strange. It makes me feel all queer inside.
Won't you tell me, please?''
He noted with artistic satisfaction that the band was playing
passionate love-music with sobs and sad ecstasies of farewell
embraces in it. He kissed her, then drew back. ``No,'' he
groaned. ``Those lips are not for me, accursed that I am.''
She was no longer looking at him, but sat gazing straight ahead,
her shoulders bent as if she were crouching to receive a blow.
He began in a low voice, and, as he spoke, it rose or fell as his
words and the distant music prompted him. ``Mine has been a
luckless life,'' he said. ``I have been a football of destiny,
kicked and flung about, hither and yon. Again and again I have
thought in my despair to lay me down and die. But something has
urged me on, on, on. And at last I met you.''
He paused and groaned--partly because it was the proper place,
partly with vexation. Here was a speech to thrill, yet she sat
there inert, her face a stupid blank. He was not even sure that
she had heard.
``Are you listening?'' he asked in a stern aside, a curious
mingling of the actor and the stage manager.
``I--I don't know,'' she answered, startling. ``I feel
so--so--queer. I don't seem to be able to pay attention.'' She
looked at him timidly and her chin quivered. ``Don't you love me
``Love you? Would that I did not! But I must on--my time is
short. How can you say I do not love you when my soul is like a
She shook her head slowly. ``Your voice don't feel like it,''
she said. ``What is it? What are you going to say?''
He sighed and looked away from her with an irritated expression.
``Little stupid!'' he muttered--she didn't appreciate him and he
was a fool to expect it. But ``art for art's sake''; and he went
on in tones of gentle melancholy. ``I love you, but fate has
again caught me up. I am being whirled away. I stretch out my
arms to you--in vain. Do you understand?'' It exasperated him
for her to be so still--why didn't she weep?
She shook her head and replied quietly:
``No--what is it? Don't you love me any more?''
``Love has nothing to do with it,'' he said, as gently as he
could in the irritating circumstances. ``My mysterious destiny
``You said that before,'' she interrupted. ``What is it? Can't
you tell me so that I can understand?''
``You never loved me!'' he cried bitterly.
``You know that isn't so,'' she answered. ``Won't you tell me,
``A specter has risen from my past--I must leave you--I may never
She gave a low, wailing cry--it seemed like an echo of the music.
Then she began to sob--not loudly, but in a subdued, despairing
way. She was not conscious of her grief, but only of his
words--of the dream vanished, the hopes shattered.
``Never?'' she said brokenly.
``Never!'' he replied in a hoarse whisper.
Mr. Feuerstein looked down at Hilda's quivering shoulders with
satisfaction. ``I thought I could make even her feel,'' he said
to himself complacently. Then to her in the hoarse undertone:
``And my heart is breaking.''
She straightened and her tears seemed to dry with the flash of
her eyes. ``Don't say that--you mustn't!'' She blazed out
before his astonished eyes, a woman electric with disdain and
anger. ``It's false-- false! I hate you--hate you--you never
cared--you've made a fool of me--''
``Hilda!'' He felt at home now and his voice became pleading and
anguished. ``You, too, desert me! Ah, God, whenever was there
man so wretched as I?'' He buried his face in his hands.
``Oh, you put it on well,'' she scoffed. ``But I know what it
Mr. Feuerstein rose wearily. ``Farewell,'' he said in a broken
voice. ``At least I am glad you will be spared the suffering
that is blasting my life. Thank God, she did not love me!''
The physical fact of his rising to go struck her courage full in
``No--no,'' she urged hurriedly, ``not yet --not just yet--wait a
few minutes more--''
``No--I must go--farewell!'' And he seated himself beside her,
put his arm around her.
She lay still in his arms for a moment, then murmured: ``Say it
isn't so, Carl--dear!''
``I would say there is hope, heart's darling,'' he whispered,
``but I have no right to blast your young life. And I may never
She started up, her face glowing.
``Then you WILL return?''
``It may be that I can,'' he answered. ``But--''
``Then I'll wait--gladly. No matter how long it is, I'll wait.
Why didn't you say at first, `Hilda, something I can't tell you
about has happened. I must go away. When I can, I'll come.'
That would have been enough, because I--I love you!''
``What have I done to deserve such love as this!'' he exclaimed,
and for an instant he almost forgot himself in her beauty and
sweetness and sincerity.
``Will it be long?'' she asked after a while.
``I hope not, bride of my soul. But I can not--dare not say.''
``Wherever you go, and no matter what happens, dear,'' she said
softly, ``you'll always know that I'm loving you, won't you?''
And she looked at him with great, luminous, honest eyes.
He began to be uncomfortable. Her complete trust was producing
an effect even upon his nature. The good that evil can never
kill out of a man was rousing what was very like a sense of
shame. ``I must go now,'' he said with real gentleness in his
voice and a look at her that had real longing in it. He went on:
``I shall come as soon as the shadow passes--I shall come soon,
She was cheerful to the last. But after he had left she sat
motionless, except for an occasional shiver. From the music-
stand came a Waldteufel waltz, with its ecstatic throb and its
long, dreamy swing, its mingling of joy with foreboding of
sadness. The tears streamed down her cheeks. ``He's gone,'' she
said miserably. She rose and went through the crowd, stumbling
against people, making the homeward journey by instinct alone.
She seemed to be walking in her sleep. She entered the shop--it
was crowded with customers, and her father, her mother and
August were bustling about behind the counters. ``Here, tie this
up,'' said her father, thrusting into her hands a sheet of
wrapping paper on which were piled a chicken, some sausages, a
bottle of olives and a can of cherries. She laid the paper on
the counter and went on through the parlor and up the stairs to
her plain, neat, little bedroom. She threw herself on the bed,
face downward. She fell at once into a deep sleep. When she
awoke it was beginning to dawn. She remembered and began to
moan. ``He's gone! He's gone! He's gone!'' she repeated over
and over again. And she lay there, sobbing and calling to him.
When she faced the family there were black circles around her
eyes. They were the eyes of a woman grown, and they looked out
upon the world with sorrow in them for the first time.
LOVE IN SEVERAL ASPECTS
It was not long before the community was talking of the change in
Hilda, the abrupt change to a gentle, serious, silent woman, the
sparkle gone from her eyes, pathos there in its stead. But not
even her own family knew her secret.
``When is Mr. Feuerstein coming again?'' asked her father when a
week had passed.
``I don't know just when. Soon,'' answered Hilda, in a tone
which made it impossible for such a man as he to inquire further.
Sophie brought all her cunning to bear in her effort to get at
the facts. But Hilda evaded her hints and avoided her traps.
After much thinking she decided that Mr. Feuerstein had probably
gone for good, that Hilda was hoping when there was nothing to
hope for, and that her own affairs were suffering from the
cessation of action. She was in the mood to entertain the basest
suggestions her craft could put forward for making marriage
between Hilda and Otto impossible. But she had not yet reached
the stage at which overt acts are deliberately planned upon the
surface of the mind.
One of her girl friends ran in to gossip with her late in the
afternoon of the eighth day after Mr. Feuerstein's ``parting
scene'' in Tompkins Square. The talk soon drifted to Hilda, whom
the other girl did not like.
``I wonder what's become of that lover of hers--that tall fellow
from up town?'' asked Miss Hunneker.
``I don't know,'' replied Sophie in a strained, nervous manner.
``I always hated to see Hilda go with him. No good ever comes
of that sort of thing.''
``I supposed she was going to marry him.''
Sophie became very uneasy indeed. ``It don't often turn out that
way,'' she said in a voice that was evidently concealing
something--apparently an ugly rent in the character of her
Walpurga Hunneker opened her eyes wide. ``You don't mean--'' she
exclaimed. And, as Sophie looked still more confused,
``Well, I THOUGHT so! Gracious! Her pride must have had a fall.
No wonder she looks so disturbed.''
``Poor Hilda!'' said Sophie mournfully. Then she looked at
Walpurga in a frightened way as if she had been betrayed into
saying too much.
Walpurga spent a busy evening among her confidantes, with the
result that the next day the neighborhood was agitated by
gossip--insinuations that grew bolder and bolder, that had sprung
from nowhere, but pointed to Hilda's sad face as proof of their
truth. And on the third day they had reached Otto's mother. Not
a detail was lacking--even the scene between Hilda and her father
was one of the several startling climaxes of the tale. Mrs.
Heilig had been bitterly resentful of Hilda's treatment of her
son, and she accepted the story--it was in such perfect harmony
with her expectations from the moment she heard of Mr.
Feuerstein. In the evening, when he came home from the shop, she
``There isn't a word of truth in it, mother,'' he said. ``I
don't care who told you, it's a lie.''
``Your love makes you blind,'' answered the mother. ``But I can
see that her vanity has led her just where vanity always leads
``Who told you?'' he demanded.
Mrs. Heilig gave him the names of several women. ``It is known
to all,'' she said.
His impulse was to rush out and trace down the lie to its author.
But he soon realized the folly of such an attempt. He would only
aggravate the gossip and the scandal, give the scandal-mongers a
new chapter for their story. Yet he could not rest without doing
He went to Hilda--she had been most friendly toward him since the
day he helped her with her lover. He asked her to walk with him
in the Square. When they were alone, he began: ``Hilda, you
believe I'm your friend, don't you?''
She looked as if she feared he were about to reopen the old
``No--I'm not going to worry you,'' he said in answer to the
look. ``I mean just friend.''
``I know you are, Otto,'' she replied with tears in her eyes.
``You are indeed my friend. I've counted on you ever since
you--ever since that Sunday.''
``Then you won't think wrong of me if I ask you a question?
You'll know I wouldn't, if I didn't have a good reason, even
though I can't explain?''
``Yes--what is it?''
``Hilda, is--is Mr. Feuerstein coming back?''
Hilda flushed. ``Yes, Otto,'' she said. ``I haven't spoken to
any one about it, but I can trust you. He's had trouble and it
has called him away. But he told me he'd come back.'' She
looked at him appealingly. ``You know that I love him, Otto.
Some day you will like him, will see what a noble man he is.''
``When is he coming back?''
``I didn't ask him. I knew he'd come as soon as he could. I
wouldn't pry into his affairs.''
``Then you don't know why he went or when he's coming?''
``I trust him, just as you'll want a girl to trust you some day
when you love her.''
As soon as he could leave her, he went up town, straight to the
German Theater. In the box-office sat a young man with hair
precisely parted in the middle and sleeked down in two whirls
brought low on his forehead.
``I'd like to get Mr. Feuerstein's address,'' said Otto.
``That dead-beat?'' the young man replied contemptuously. ``I
suppose he got into you like he did into every one else. Yes,
you can have his address. And give him one for me when you catch
him. He did me out of ten dollars.''
Otto went on to the boarding-house in East Sixteenth Street. No,
Mr. Feuerstein was not in and it was not known when he would
return--he was very uncertain. Otto went to Stuyvesant Square
and seated himself where he could see the stoop of the
boarding-house. An hour, two hours, two hours and a half passed,
and then his patient attitude changed abruptly to action. He saw
the soft light hat and the yellow bush coming toward him. Mr.
Feuerstein paled slightly as he recognized Otto.
``I'm not going to hurt you,'' said Otto in a tone which Mr.
Feuerstein wished he had the physical strength to punish. ``Sit
down here--I've got something to say to you.''
``I'm in a great hurry. Really, you'll have to come again.''
But Otto's look won. Mr. Feuerstein hesitated, seated himself.
``I want to tell you,'' said Otto quietly, ``that as the result
of your going away so suddenly and not coming back a wicked lying
story is going round about Hilda. She does not know it yet,
but it won't be long before something will be said--maybe
publicly. And it will break her heart.''
``I can't discuss her with you,'' said Mr. Feuerstein.
``Doubtless you mean well. I'm obliged to you for coming. I'll
see.'' He rose.
``Is that all?'' said Otto.
``What more can I say?''
``But what are you going to DO?''
``I don't see how I can prevent a lot of ignorant people from
``Then you're not going straight down there? You're not going to
do what a man'd do if he had the decency of a dog?''
``You are insulting! But because I believe you mean well, I
shall tell you that it is impossible for me to go for several
days at least. As soon as I honorably can, I shall come and the
scandal will vanish like smoke.''
Otto let him go. ``I mustn't thrash him, and I can't compel him
to be a man.'' He returned to the German Theater; he must learn
all he could about this Feuerstein.
``Did you see him?'' asked the ticket-seller.
``Yes, but I didn't get anything.''
Otto looked so down that the ticket-seller was moved to pity, to
``Well, I'll give you a tip. Keep after him; keep your eye on
him. He's got a rich father-in-law.''
Otto leaned heavily on the sill of the little window.
``Father-in-law?'' A sickening suspicion peered into his mind.
``He was full the other night and he told one of our people he
was married to a rich man's daughter.''
``Was the name Brauner?'' asked Otto.
``He didn't name any names. But--let me think--they say it's a
daughter of a brewer, away up town. Yes, Ganser--I think that
was the name.''
``Oh!'' Otto's face brightened. ``Where is Ganser's place?'' he
``I don't know--look in the directory. But the tip is to wait a
few days. He hasn't got hold of any of the old man's money
yet--there's some hitch. There'll be plenty for all when it
comes, so you needn't fret.''
Otto went to the brewery, but Peter had gone home. Otto went on
to the house and Peter came down to the brilliant parlor, where
the battle of hostile shades and colors was raging with
undiminished fury. In answer to Peter's look of inquiry, he
said: ``I came about your son-in-law, Mr. Feuerstein.''
``Who are you? Who told you?'' asked Peter, wilting into a
``They told me at the theater.''
Peter gave a sort of groan. ``It's out!'' he cried, throwing up
his thick, short arms. ``Everybody knows!''
Shrewd Otto saw the opening. ``I don't think so,'' he replied,
``at least not yet. He has a bad reputation--I see you know that
already. But it's nothing to what he will have when it comes out
that he's been trying to marry a young lady down town since he
married your daughter.''
``But it mustn't come out!'' exclaimed Ganser. ``I won't have
it. This scandal has disgraced me enough.''
``That's what I came to see you about,'' said Otto. ``The young
lady and her friends don't know about his marriage. It isn't
necessary that any of them should know, except her. But she must
be put on her guard. He might induce her to run away with him.''
``Rindsvieh!'' muttered Ganser, his hair and whiskers bristling.
``I want to ask you, as a man and a father, to see that this
young lady is warned. She'll be anxious enough to keep quiet.
If you do, there won't be any scandal--at least not from there.''
``I'll go down and warn her. Where is she? I'll speak to her
``And have him make a row? No, there's only one way. Send your
daughter to her.''
``But you don't know my daughter. She's a born--'' Just in time
Ganser remembered that he was talking to a stranger and talking
about his daughter. ``She wouldn't do it right,'' he finished.
``She can go in and see the young lady alone and come out without
speaking to anybody else. I'll promise you there'll be no
Ganser thought it over and decided to take Otto's advice. They
discussed Mr. Feuerstein for several minutes, and when Otto left,
Ganser followed him part of the way down the stoop, shaking hands
with him. It was a profound pleasure to the brewer to be able to
speak his mind on the subject of his son-in-law to an
intelligent, appreciative person. He talked nothing else to his
wife and Lena, but he had the feeling that he might as well talk
aloud to himself.
After supper--the Gansers still had supper in the evening, their
fashionable progress in that direction having reached only the
stage at which dinner is called luncheon--he put Lena into the
carriage and they drove to Avenue A. On the way he told her
exactly what to say and do. He stayed in the carriage. ``Be
quick,'' he said, ``and no foolishness!''
Lena, swelling and rustling with finery and homelier than before
her troubles, little though they disturbed her, marched into the
shop and up to the end counter, where Hilda was standing.
``You are Miss Hilda Brauner?'' she said. ``I want to see you
Hilda looked her surprise but showed Lena into the living-room,
which happened to be vacant. Lena could not begin, so intent was
she upon examining her rival. ``How plain she's dressed,'' she
thought, ``and how thin and black she is!'' But it was in vain;
she could not deceive her rising jealousy. It made her forget
her father's instructions, forget that she was supposed to hate
Feuerstein and was getting rid of him.
``I am Mrs. Carl Feuerstein,'' she cried, her face red and her
voice shrill with anger and excitement. ``And I want you to stop
flirting with my husband!''
Hilda stood petrified. Lena caught sight of a photograph on the
mantelpiece behind Hilda. She gave a scream of fury and darted
for it. ``How dare you!'' she shrieked. ``You impudent THING!''
She snatched the frame, tore it away from the photograph and
flung it upon the floor. As she gazed at that hair like a halo of
light, at those romantic features and upturned eyes, she fell to
crying and kissing them.
Hilda slowly turned and watched the spectacle--the swollen, pudgy
face, tear-stained, silly, ugly, the tears and kisses falling
upon the likeness of HER lover. She suddenly sprang at Lena, her
face like a thunder-storm, her black brows straight and her great
eyes flashing. ``You lie!'' she exclaimed. And she tore the
photograph from Lena's hands and clasped it to her bosom.
Lena shrank in physical fear from this aroused lioness. ``He's
my husband,'' she whined. ``You haven't got any right to his
``You lie!'' repeated Hilda, throwing back her head.
``It's the truth,'' said Lena, beginning to cry. ``I swear to
God it's so. You can ask pa if it ain't. He's Mr. Ganser, the
``Who sent you here to lie about him to me?''
``Oh, you needn't put on. You knew he was married. I don't
wonder you're mad. He's MY husband, while he's only been making
a fool of YOU. You haven't got any shame.'' Lena's eyes were on
the photograph again and her jealousy over-balanced fear. She
``Of course you're trying to brazen it out. Give me that
picture! He's my husband!''
Just then Ganser appeared in the doorway-- he did not trust his
daughter and had followed her when he thought she was staying too
long. At sight of him she began to weep again. ``She won't
believe me, pa,'' she said. ``Look at her standing there hugging
Ganser scowled at his daughter and addressed himself to Hilda,
``It's true, Miss,'' he said. ``The man is a scoundrel. I sent
my daughter to warn you.''
Hilda looked at him haughtily. ``I don't know you,'' she said,
``and I do know him. I don't know why you've come here to
slander him. But I do know that I'd trust him against the whole
world.'' She glanced from father to daughter. ``You haven't
done him any harm and you might as well go.''
Peter eyed her in disgust. ``You're as big a fool as my Lena,''
he said. ``Come on, Lena.''
As Lena was leaving the room, she gave Hilda a malignant glance.
``He's MY husband,'' she said spitefully, ``and you're-- well, I
wouldn't want to say what you are.''
``Move!'' shouted Ganser, pushing her out of the room. His
parting shot at Hilda was: ``Ask him.''
Hilda, still holding the photograph, stared at the doorway
through which they had disappeared. ``You lie!'' she repeated,
as if they were still there. Then again, a little catch in her
voice: ``You lie!'' And after a longer interval, a third time,
with a sob in her throat: ``You lie! I know you lie!'' She sat
at the table and held the photograph before her. She kissed it
passionately, gazed long at it, seeing in those bold handsome
features all that her heart's love believed of him.
Suddenly she started up, went rapidly down the side hall and out
into the street. Battling with her doubts, denouncing herself as
disloyal to him, she hurried up the Avenue and across the Square
and on until she came to his lodgings. When she asked for him
the maid opened the parlor door and called through the crack:
``Mr. Feuerstein, a lady wants to see you.''
As the maid disappeared down the basement stairs, Mr. Feuerstein
appeared. At sight of her he started back. ``Hilda!'' he
exclaimed theatrically, and frowned.
``Don't be angry with me,'' she said humbly. ``I wouldn't have
``You must go at once!'' His tone was abrupt, irritated.
``Yes--I will. I just wanted to warn you--'' She raised her
eyes appealingly toward his face. ``Two people came to see me
to-night--Mr. Ganser and his daughter--''
Feuerstein fell back a step and she saw that he was shaking and
that his face had become greenish white. ``It's false!'' he
blustered. ``False as hell!--''
And she knew that it was true.
She continued to look at him and he did not try to meet her eyes.
``What did they tell you?'' he said, after a long pause,
remembering that he had denied before a charge had been made.
She was looking away from him now. She seemed not to have
heard him. ``I must go,'' she murmured, and began slowly to
descend the stoop.
He followed her, laid his hand upon her arm. ``Hilda!'' he
pleaded. ``Let me explain!''
``Don't touch me!'' She snatched her arm away from him. She ran
down the rest of the steps and fled along the street. She kept
close to the shadow of the houses. She went through Avenue A
with hanging head, feeling that the eyes of all were upon her,
condemning, scorning. She hid herself in her little room,
locking the door. Down beside the bed she sank and buried her
face in the covers. And there she lay, racked with the pain of
her gaping wounds--wounds to love, to trust, to pride, to
self-respect. ``Oh, God, let me die,'' she moaned. ``I can't
ever look anybody in the face again.''
A SHEEP WIELDS THE SHEARS
A few days later Peter Ganser appeared before Beck, triumph
flaunting from his stupid features. Beck instantly scented bad
``Stop the case,'' said Peter with a vulgar insolence that grated
upon the lawyer. ``It's no good.''
``I beg your pardon, Mr. Ganser. I don't follow you.''
``But I follow myself. Stop the case. I pay you off now.''
``You can't deal with courts as you can with your employees, Mr.
Ganser. There are legal forms to be gone through. Of course, if
you're reconciled to your son-in-law, why--''
Peter laughed. ``Son-in-law! That scoundrel--he's a bigamist.
I got the proofs from Germany this morning.''
Beck became blue round the edges of his mouth and his eyes
snapped. ``So you've been taking steps in this case without
consulting me, Mr. Ganser?''
``I don't trust lawyers. Anyway, what I hire you for? To try my
case. It's none of your business what I do outside. I pay you
off, and I don't pay for any dirty works I don't get.'' He had
wrought himself into a fury. Experience had taught him that that
was the best mood in which to conduct an argument about money.
``We'll send you your bill,'' said Beck, in a huge, calm rage
against this dull man who had outwitted him. ``If you wish to
make a scene, will you kindly go elsewhere?''
``I want to pay you off--right away quick. I think you and Loeb
in cahoots. My detective, he says you both must have known about
Feuerstein. He says you two were partners and knew his record.
I'll expose you, if you don't settle now. Give me my bill.''
``It is impossible.'' Beck's tone was mild and persuasive.
``All the items are not in.''
Ganser took out a roll of notes. ``I pay you five hundred
dollars. Take it or fight. I want a full receipt. I discharge
``My dear sir, we do not give our services for any such sum as
``Yes you do. And you don't get a cent more. If I go out of
here without my full receipt, I fight. I expose you, you
Peter was shouting at the top of his lusty lungs. Beck wrote a
receipt and handed it to him. Peter read it and handed it back.
``I'm not as big a fool as I look,'' he said. ``That ain't a
Beck wrote again. ``Anything to get you out of the office,'' he
said, as he tossed the five hundred dollars into a drawer. ``And
when your family gets you into trouble again--''
Peter snorted. ``Shut up!'' he shouted, banging his fist on the
desk. ``And don't you tell the papers. If anything come out, I
expose you. My lawyer, Mr. Windisch, say he can have you put out
of court.'' And Peter bustled and slammed his way out.
Beck telephoned Loeb, and they took lunch together. ``Ganser has
found out about Feuerstein's wife,'' was Beck's opening remark.
Loeb drew his lip back over his teeth.
``I wish I'd known it two hours sooner. I let Feuerstein have
ten dollars more.''
``More. He's had ninety-five on account. I relied on you to
handle the brewer.''
``And we're out our expenses in getting ready for trial.''
``Well--you'll send Ganser a heavy bill.''
Beck shook his head dismally. ``That's the worst of it. He
called me a swindler, said he'd show that you and I were in a
conspiracy, and dared me to send him a bill. And in the
circumstances I don't think I will.''
Loeb gave Beck a long and searching look which Beck bore without
``No, I don't think you will send him a bill,'' said Loeb slowly.
``But how much did he pay you?''
``Not a cent--nothing but insults.''
Loeb finished his luncheon in silence. But he and Beck separated
on the friendliest terms. Loeb was too practical a philosopher
to hate another man for doing that which he would have done
himself if he had had the chance. At his office he told a clerk
to send Feuerstein a note, asking him to call the next morning.
When Feuerstein came into the anteroom the gimlet-eyed office boy
disappeared through one of the doors in the partition and
reappeared after a longer absence than usual. He looked at
Feuerstein with a cynical, contemptuous smile in his eyes.
``Mr. Loeb asks me to tell you,'' he said, ``with his
compliments, that you are a bigamist and a swindler, and that if
you ever show your face here again he'll have you locked up.''
Feuerstein staggered and paled--there was no staginess in his
manner. Then without a word he slunk away. He had not gone far
up Center Street before a hand was laid upon his shoulder from
behind. He stopped as if he had been shot; he shivered; he
slowly, and with a look of fascinated horror, turned to see whose
hand had arrested him.
He was looking into the laughing face of a man who was obviously
``You don't seem glad to see me, old boy,'' said the detective
with contemptuous familiarity.
``I don't know you, sir.'' Feuerstein made a miserable attempt
``Of course you don't. But I know YOU--all about you. Come in
here and let's sit down a minute.''
They went into a saloon and the detective ordered two glasses of
beer. ``Now listen to me, young fellow,'' he said.
``You're played out in this town. You've got to get a move on
you, see? We've been looking you up, and you're wanted for
bigamy. But if you clear out, you won't be followed. You've got
to leave today, understand? If you're here to-morrow morning, up
the road you go.'' The detective winked and waggled his thumb
meaningly in a northerly direction.
Feuerstein was utterly crushed. He gulped down the beer and sat
wiping the sweat from his face. ``I have done nothing,'' he
protested in tragic tones. ``Why am I persecuted--I, poor,
``Pity about you,'' said the detective.
``You'd better go west and start again. Why not try honest work?
It's not so bad, they say, once you get broke in.'' He rose and
shook hands with Feuerstein. ``So long,'' he said. ``Good luck!
Don't forget!'' And again he winked and waggled his thumb in the
direction of the penitentiary.
Feuerstein went to his lodgings, put on all the clothes he could
wear without danger of attracting his landlady's attention,
filled his pockets and the crown of his hat with small articles,
and fled to Hoboken.
AN IDYL OF PLAIN PEOPLE
Hilda had not spent her nineteen years in the glare of the
Spartan publicity in which the masses live without establishing a
character. Just as she knew all the good points and bad in all
the people of that community, so they knew all hers, and
therefore knew what it was possible for her to do and what
impossible. And if a baseless lie is swift of foot where
everybody minutely scrutinizes everybody else, it is also scant
of breath. Sophie's scandal soon dwindled to a whisper and
expired, and the kindlier and probable explanation of Hilda's wan
face and downcast eyes was generally accepted.
Her code of morals and her method of dealing with moral questions
were those of all the people about her--strict, severe,
primitive. Feuerstein was a cheat, a traitor. She cast him out
of her heart--cast him out at once and utterly and for ever. She
could think of him only with shame. And it seemed to her that
she was herself no longer pure--she had touched pitch; how could
she be undefiled?
She accepted these conclusions and went about her work, too busy
to indulge in hysteria of remorse, repining, self-examination.
She avoided Otto, taking care not to be left alone with him when
he called on Sundays, and putting Sophie between him and her when
he came up to them in the Square. But Otto was awaiting his
chance, and when it came, plunged boldly into his heart-subject
and floundered bravely about. ``I don't like to see you so sad,
Hilda. Isn't there any chance for me? Can't things be as they
used to be?''
Hilda shook her head sadly. ``I'm never going to marry,'' she
said. ``You must find some one else.''
``It's you or nobody. I said that when we were in school
together and--I'll stick to it.'' His eyes confirmed his words.
``You mustn't, Otto. You make me feel as if I were spoiling your
life. And if you knew, you wouldn't want to marry me.''
``I don't care. I always have, and I always will.''
``I suppose I ought to tell you,'' she said, half to herself.
She turned to him suddenly, and, with flushed cheeks and eyes
that shifted, burst out: ``Otto, he was a married man!''
``But you didn't know.''
``It doesn't change the way I feel. You might--any man
might--throw it up to me. And sooner or later, everybody'll
know. No man would want a girl that had had a scandal like that
``I would,'' he said, ``and I do. And it isn't a scandal.''
Some one joined them and he had no chance to continue until the
following Sunday, when Heiligs and Brauners went together to the
Bronx for a half-holiday. They could not set out until their
shops closed, at half-past twelve, and they had to be back at
five to reopen for the Sunday supper customers. They lunched
under the trees in the yard of a German inn, and a merry party
Hilda forgot to keep up her pretense that her healing wounds were
not healing and never would heal. She teased Otto and even
flirted with him. This elevated her father and his mother to
hilarity. They were two very sensible young-old people, with a
keen sense of humor--the experience of age added to the
simplicity and gaiety of youth.
You would have paused to admire and envy had you passed that way
and looked in under the trees, as they clinked glasses and called
one to another and went off into gales of mirth over nothing at
all. What laughter is so gay as laughter at nothing at all? Any
one must laugh when there is something to laugh at; but to laugh
just because one must have an outlet for bubbling spirits there's
the test of happiness!
After luncheon they wandered into the woods and soon Otto and
Hilda found themselves alone, seated by a little waterfall, which
in a quiet, sentimental voice suggested that low tones were the
proper tones to use in that place.
``We've known each other always, Hilda,'' said Otto. ``And we
know all about each other. Why not--dear?''
She did not speak for several minutes.
``You know I haven't any heart to give you,'' she answered at
Otto did not know anything of the kind, but he knew she thought
so, and he was too intelligent to dispute, when time would settle
the question--and, he felt sure, would settle it right. So he
reached out and took her hand and said: ``I'll risk that.''
And they sat watching the waterfall and listening to it, and they
were happy in a serious, tranquil way. It filled him with awe to
think that he had at last won her. As for her, she was looking
forward, without illusions, without regrets, to a life of work
and content beside this strong, loyal, manly man who protested
little, but never failed her or any one else.
On the way home in the train she told her mother, and her mother
told her father. He, then and there, to the great delight and
pleasure of the others in the car, rose up and embraced and
kissed first his daughter, then Otto and then Otto's mother.
And every once in a while he beamed down the line of his party
and said: ``This is a happy day!''
And he made them all come into the sitting-room back of the shop.
``Wait here,'' he commanded. ``No one must move!''
He went down to the cellar, presently to reappear with a dusty
bottle of Johannisberger Cabinet. He pointed proudly to the
seal. ``Bronze!'' he exclaimed. ``It is wine like gold. It
must be drunk slowly.'' He drew the cork and poured the wine
with great ceremony, and they all drank with much touching of
glasses and bowing and exchanging of good wishes, now in German,
now in English, again in both. And the last toast, the one drunk
with the greatest enthusiasm, was Brauner's favorite famous
``Arbeit und Liebe und Heim!''
From that time forth Hilda began to look at Otto from a different
point of view. And everything depends on point of view.
Then--the house in which Schwartz and Heilig had their shop was
burned. And when their safe was drawn from the ruins, they found
that their insurance had expired four days before the fire. It
was Schwartz's business to look after the insurance, but Otto had
never before failed to oversee. His mind had been in such
confusion that he had forgotten.
He stared at the papers, stunned by the disaster. Schwartz wrung
his hands and burst into tears. ``I saw that you were in
trouble,'' he wailed, ``and that upset me. It's my fault. I've
ruined us both.''
There was nothing left of their business or capital, nothing but
seven hundred dollars in debts to the importers of whom they
Heilig shook off his stupor after a few minutes. ``No matter,''
he said. ``What's past is past.''
He went straightway over to Second Avenue to the shop of
Geishener, the largest delicatessen dealer in New York.
``I've been burned out,'' he explained. ``I must get something
Geishener offered him a place at eleven dollars a week. ``I'll
begin in the morning,'' said Otto. Then he went to Paul Brauner.
``When will you open up again?'' asked Brauner.
``Not for a long time, several years. Everything's gone and I've
taken a place with Geishener. I came to say that--that I can't
marry your daughter.''
Brauner did not know what answer to make. He liked Otto and had
confidence in him. But the masses of the people build their
little fortunes as coral insects build their islands. And Hilda
was getting along--why, she would be twenty in four months. ``I
don't know. I don't know.'' Brauner rubbed his head in
embarrassment and perplexity. ``It's bad--very bad. And
everything was running so smoothly.''
Hilda came in. Both men looked at her guiltily. ``What is it?''
she asked. And if they had not been mere men they would have
noticed a change in her face, a great change, very wonderful and
beautiful to see.
``I came to release you,'' said Otto.
``I've got nothing left--and a lot of debts. I--''
``Yes--I know,'' interrupted Hilda. She went up to him and put
her arm round his neck. ``We'll have to begin at the bottom,''
she said with a gentle, cheerful smile.
Brauner pretended that he heard some one calling him from the
shop. ``Yes right away!'' he shouted. And when he was alone in
the shop he wiped his eyes, not before a large tear had blistered
the top sheet of a pile of wrapping paper.
``I know you don't care for me as--as'' --Otto was standing
uneasily, his eyes down and his face red. ``It was hard enough
for you before. Now--I couldn't let you do it--dear.''
``You can't get rid of me so easily,'' she said. ``I know I'm
getting along and I won't be an old maid.''
He paid no attention to her raillery. ``I haven't got anything
to ask you to share,'' he went on. ``I've been working ever
since I was eleven--and that's fourteen years--to get what I had.
And it's all gone. It'll take several years to pay off my debts,
and mother must be supported. No--I've got to give it up.''
``Won't you marry me, Otto?'' She put her arms round his neck.
His lips trembled and his voice broke. ``I can't--let you do it,
``Very well.'' She pretended to sigh.
``But you must come back this evening. I want to ask you
``Yes, I'll come. But you can't change me.''
He went, and she sat at the table, with her elbows on it and her
face between her hands, until her father came in. Then she said:
``We're going to be married next week. And I want two thousand
dollars. We'll give you our note.''
Brauner rubbed his face violently.
``We're going to start a delicatessen,'' she continued, ``in the
empty store where Bischoff was. It'll take two thousand dollars
to start right.''
``That's a good deal of money,'' objected her father.
``You only get three and a half per cent. in the savings bank,''
replied Hilda. ``We'll give you six. You know it'll be
safe--Otto and I together can't fail to do well.''
Brauner reflected. ``You can have the money,'' he said.
She went up the Avenue humming softly one of Heine's love songs,
still with that wonderful, beautiful look in her eyes. She
stopped at the tenement with the vacant store. The owner, old
man Schulte, was sweeping the sidewalk. He had an income of
fifteen thousand a year; but he held that he needed exercise,
that sweeping was good exercise, and that it was stupid for a
man, simply because he was rich, to stop taking exercise or to
take it only in some form which had no useful side.
``Good morning,'' said Hilda. ``What rent do you ask for this
``Sixty dollars a month,'' answered the old man, continuing his
sweeping. ``Taxes are up, but rents are down.''
``Not with you, I guess. Otto Heilig and I are going to get
married and open a delicatessen. But sixty dollars a month is
too much. Good morning.'' And she went on.
Schulte leaned on his broom. ``What's your hurry?'' he called.
``You can't get as good a location as this.''
Hilda turned, but seemed to be listening from politeness rather
than from interest.
``We can't pay more than forty,'' she answered, starting on her
``I might let you have it for fifty,'' Schulte called after her,
``if you didn't want any fixing up.''
``It'd have to be fixed up,'' said Hilda, halting again. ``But I
don't care much for the neighborhood. There are too many
delicatessens here now.''
She went on more rapidly and the old man resumed his sweeping,
muttering crossly into his long, white beard. As she came down
the other side of the street half an hour later, she was watching
Schulte from the corner of her eye. He was leaning on his broom,
watching her. Seeing that she was going to pass without stopping
he called to her and went slowly across the street. ``You would
make good tenants,'' he said. ``I had to sue Bischoff. You can
have it for forty--if you'll pay for the changes you want--you
really won't want any.''
``I was looking at it early this morning,'' replied Hilda.
``There'll have to be at least two hundred dollars spent. But
then I've my eye on another place.''
``Forty's no rent at all,'' grumbled the old man, pulling at his
``I can get a store round in Seventh Street for thirty-five and
that includes three rooms at the back. You've got only one room
at the back.''
``There's a kitchen, too,'' said Schulte.
``A kitchen? Oh, you mean that closet.''
``I'll let you have it for forty, with fifty the second year.''
``No, forty for two years. We can't pay more. We're just
starting, and expenses must be kept down.''
``Well, forty then. You are nice people--hard workers. I want
to see you get on.'' The philanthropic old man returned to his
sweeping. ``Always the way, dealing with a woman,'' he growled
into his beard. ``They don't know the value of anything. Well,
I'll get my money anyway, and that's a point.''
She spent the day shopping and by half-past five had her
arrangements almost completed. And she told every one about the
coming marriage and the new shop and asked them to spread the
``We'll be open for business next Saturday a week,'' she said.
``Give us a trial.''
By nightfall Otto was receiving congratulations. He protested,
denied, but people only smiled and winked. ``You're not so sly
as you think,'' they said. ``No doubt she promised to keep it
quiet, but you know how it is with a woman.''
When he called at Brauner's at seven he was timid about going in.
``They've heard the story,'' he said to himself, ``and they must
think I went crazy and told it.''
She had been bold enough all day, but she was shy, now that the
time had come to face him and confess--she had been a little shy
with him underneath ever since she had suddenly awakened to the
fact that he was a real hero--in spite of his keeping a shop just
like everybody else and making no pretenses. He listened without
``You can't back out now,'' she ended.
Still he was silent. ``Are you angry at me?'' she asked timidly.
He could not speak. He put his arms round her and pressed his
face into her waving black hair. ``MY Hilda,'' he said in a low
voice. And she felt his blood beating very fast, and she
``Arbeit und Liebe und Heim,'' she quoted slowly and softly.
MR. FEUERSTEIN IS CONSISTENT
The next day Mr. Feuerstein returned from exile. It is always
disillusioning to inspect the unheroic details of the life of
that favorite figure with romancers--the soldier of fortune. Of
Mr. Feuerstein's six weeks in Hoboken it is enough to say that
they were weeks of storm and stress-- wretched lodgments in low
boarding- houses, odd jobs at giving recitations in beer halls,
undignified ejectments for drunkenness and failure to pay,
borrowings which were removed from frank street-begging only in
his imagination. He sank very low indeed, but it must be
recorded to the credit of his consistency that he never even
contemplated the idea of working for a living. And now here he
was, back in New York, with Hoboken an exhausted field, with no
resources, no hopes, no future that his brandy-soaked brain could
His mane was still golden and bushy; but it was ragged and too
long in front of the ears and also on his neck. His face still
expressed insolence and vanity; but it had a certain tragic
bitterness, as if it were trying to portray the emotions of a
lofty spirit flinging defiance at destiny from a slough of
despair. It was plain that he had been drinking heavily--the
whites of his eyes were yellow and bloodshot, the muscles of his
eyelids and mouth twitched disagreeably. His romantic hat and
collar and graceful suit could endure with good countenance only
the most casual glance of the eye.
Mr. Feuerstein had come to New York to perform a
carefully-planned last act in his life-drama, one that would send
the curtain down amid tears and plaudits for Mr. Feuerstein, the
central figure, enwrapped in a somber and baleful blaze of glory.
He had arranged everything except such details as must be left to
the inspiration of the moment. He was impatient for the curtain
to rise--besides, he had empty pockets and might be prevented
from his climax by a vulgar arrest for vagrancy.
At one o'clock Hilda was in her father's shop alone. The rest of
the family were at the midday dinner. As she bent over the
counter, near the door, she was filling a sheet of wrapping paper
with figures--calculations in connection with the new business.
A shadow fell across her paper and she looked up. She shrank and
clasped her hands tightly against her bosom. ``Mr. Feuerstein!''
she exclaimed in a low, agitated voice.
He stood silent, his face ghastly as if he were very ill. His
eyes, sunk deep in blue-black sockets, burned into hers with an
intensity that terrified her. She began slowly to retreat.
``Do not fly from me,'' he said in a hollow voice, leaning
against the counter weakly. ``I have come only for a moment.
Then--you will see me never again!''
She paused and watched him. His expression, his tone, his words
filled her with pity for him.
``You hate me,'' he went on. ``You abhor me. It is just--just!
Yet''--he looked at her with passionate sadness--``it was because
I loved you that I deceived you. Because--I--loved you!''
``You must go away,'' said Hilda, pleading rather than
commanding. ``You've done me enough harm.''
``I shall harm you no more.'' He drew himself up in gloomy
majesty. ``I have finished my life. I am bowing my farewell.
Another instant, and I shall vanish into the everlasting night.''
``That would be cowardly!'' exclaimed Hilda. She was profoundly
moved. ``You have plenty to live for.''
``Do you forgive me, Hilda?'' He gave her one of his looks of
``Yes--I forgive you.''
He misunderstood the gentleness of her voice. ``She loves me
still!'' he said to himself. ``We shall die together and our
names will echo down the ages.'' He looked burningly at her and
said: ``I was mad--mad with love for you. And when I realized
that I had lost you, I went down, down, down. God! What have I
not suffered for your sake, Hilda!'' As he talked he convinced
himself, pictured himself to himself as having been drawn on by a
passion such as had ruined many others of the great of earth.
``That's all past now.'' She spoke impatiently, irritated
against herself because she was not hating him. ``I don't care
to hear any more of that kind of talk.''
A customer came in, and while Hilda was busy Mr. Feuerstein went
to the rear counter. On a chopping block lay a knife with a
long, thin blade, ground to a fine edge and a sharp point. He
began to play with it, and presently, with a sly, almost insane
glance to assure himself that she was not seeing, slipped it into
the right outside pocket of his coat. The customer left and he
returned to the front of the shop and stood with just the breadth
of the end of the narrow counter between him and her.
``It's all over for me,'' he began. ``Your love has failed me.
There is nothing left. I shall fling myself through the gates of
death. I shall be forgotten. And you will live on and laugh and
not remember that you ever had such love as mine.''
Another customer entered. Mr. Feuerstein again went to the rear
of the space outside the counters. ``She loves me. She will
gladly die with me,'' he muttered. ``First into HER heart, then
into mine, and we shall be at peace, dead, as lovers and heroes
When they were again alone, he advanced and began to edge round
the end of the counter. She was no longer looking at him, did
not note his excitement, was thinking only of how to induce him
to go. ``Hilda,'' he said, ``I have one last request--a dying
The counter was no longer between them. He was within three feet
of her. His right hand was in his coat pocket, grasping the
knife. His eyes began to blaze and he nerved himself to seize
Both heard her father's voice in the hall leading to the
sitting-room. ``You must go,'' she cried, hastily retreating.
``Hilda,'' he pleaded rapidly, ``there is something I must say to
you. I can not say it here. Come over to Meinert's as soon as
you can. I shall be in the sitting-room. Just for a moment,
Hilda. It might save my life. If not that, it certainly would
make my death happier.''
Brauner was advancing into the shop and his lowering face warned
Mr. Feuerstein not to linger. With a last, appealing look at
Hilda he departed.
``What was HE doing here?'' growled Brauner.
``He'd just come in,'' answered Hilda absently. ``He won't
bother us any more.''
``If he comes again, don't speak to him,'' said Brauner in the
commanding voice that sounded so fierce and meant so little.
``Just call me or August.''
Hilda could not thrust him out of her mind. His looks, his
tones, his dramatic melancholy saddened her; and his last words
rang in her ears. She no longer loved him; but she HAD loved
him. She could not think of him as a stranger and an
enemy--there might be truth in his plea that he had in some
mysterious way fallen through love for her. She might be able to
Almost mechanically she left the shop, went to Sixth Street and
to the ``family entrance'' of Meinert's beer-garden. She went
into the little anteroom and, with her hand on the swinging door
leading to the sitting-room, paused like one waking from a dream.
``I must be crazy,'' she said half aloud. ``He's a scoundrel and
no good can come of my seeing him. What would Otto think of me?
What am I doing here?'' And she hastened away, hoping that no
one had seen her.
Mr. Feuerstein was seated at a table a few feet from where she
had paused and turned back. He had come in half an hour before
and had ordered and drunk three glasses of cheap, fiery brandy.
As the moments passed his mood grew wilder and more somber.
``She has failed me!'' he exclaimed. He called for pen, ink and
paper. He wrote rapidly and, when he had finished, declaimed his
production, punctuating the sentences with looks and gestures.
His voice gradually broke, and he uttered the last words with
sobs and with the tears streaming down his cheeks. He signed his
name with a flourish, added a postscript. He took a stamped
envelope from his pocket, sealed the letter, addressed it and
laid it before him on the table. ``The presence of death
inspired me,'' he said, looking at his production with tragic
pride. And he called for another drink.
When the waiter brought it, he lifted it high and, standing up,
bowed as if some one were opposite him at the table. ``I drink
to you, Death!'' he said. The waiter stared in open-mouthed
astonishment, and with a muttered, ``He's luny!'' backed from the
He sat again and drew the knife from his pocket and slid his
finger along the edge. ``The key to my sleeping-room,'' he
muttered, half imagining that a vast audience was watching with
The waiter entered and he hid the knife.
``Away!'' he exclaimed, frowning heavily. ``I wish to be
``Mr. Meinert says you must pay,'' said the waiter. ``Four
Mr. Feuerstein laughed sardonically.
``Pay! Ha--ha! Always pay! Another drink, wretch, and I shall
pay for all--for all!'' He laughed, with much shaking of the
shoulders and rolling of the eyes.
When the waiter had disappeared he muttered: ``I can wait no
longer.'' He took the knife, held it at arm's length, blade
down. He turned his head to the left and closed his eyes. Then
with a sudden tremendous drive he sent the long, narrow blade
deep into his neck. The blood spurted out, his breath escaped
from between his lips with long, shuddering, subsiding hisses.
His body stiffened, collapsed, rolled to the floor.
Mr. Feuerstein was dead--with empty pockets and the drinks unpaid
MR. FEUERSTEIN'S CLIMAX
When Otto came to see Hilda that evening she was guiltily
effusive in her greeting and made up her mind that, as soon as
they were alone, she must tell him what she had all but done.
But first there was the game of pinochle which Otto must lose to
her father. As they sat at their game she was at the
zither-table, dreamily playing May Breezes as she watched Otto
and thought how much more comfortable she was in his strong,
loyal love than in the unnatural strain of Mr. Feuerstein's
ecstasies. `` `Work and love and home,' '' she murmured, in time
to her music. ``Yes, father is right. They ARE the best.''
August came in and said: ``Hilda, here are two men who want to
As he spoke, he was pushed aside and she, her father and Otto sat
staring at the two callers. They were obviously detectives--
``plain clothes men'' from the Fifth-Street Station House. There
could be no chance of mistake about those police mustaches and
jaws, those wide, square-toed, police shoes.
``My name is Casey and this is my side- partner, Mr. O'Rourke,''
said the shorter and fatter of the two as they seated themselves
without waiting to be asked. Casey took off his hat; O'Rourke's
hand hesitated at the brim, then drew his hat more firmly down
upon his forehead. ``Sorry to break in on your little party,''
Casey went on, ``but the Cap'n sent us to ask the young lady a
Hilda grew pale and her father and Otto looked frightened.
``Do you know an actor named Feuerstein?'' asked Casey.
Hilda trembled. She could not speak. She nodded assent.
``Did you see him to-day?''
``Yes,'' almost whispered Hilda.
Casey looked triumphantly at O'Rourke. Otto half rose, then sank
back again. ``Where did you see him?'' asked Casey.
Hilda nervously laced and unlaced her fingers. ``Only here,''
she answered after a pause.
``Ah, yes you did. Come now, lady. Speak the truth. You saw
him at Meinert's.''
Hilda started violently. The detectives exchanged significant
glances. ``No,'' she protested. ``I saw him only here.''
``Were you out of the store this afternoon?''
A long pause, then a faint ``Yes.''
``Where did you go?'' Casey added.
The blood flew to Hilda's face, then left it. ``To Meinert's,''
she answered. ``But only as far as the door.''
``Oh!'' said Casey sarcastically, and O'Rourke laughed. ``It's
no use to hold back, lady,'' continued Casey. ``We know all
about your movements. You went in Meinert's--in at the family
``Yes,'' replied Hilda. She was shaking as if she were having a
chill. ``But just to the door, then home again.''
``Now, that won't do,'' said Casey roughly. ``You'd better tell
the whole story.''
``Tell them all about it, Hilda,'' interposed her father in an
``Don't hold back anything.''
``Oh--father--Otto--it was nothing. I didn't go in. He--Mr.
Feuerstein--came here, and he looked so sick, and he begged me to
come over to Meinert's for a minute. He said he had something
to say to me. And then I went. But at the door I got to
thinking about all he'd done, and I wouldn't go in. I just came
``What was it that he had done, lady?'' asked O'Rourke.
``I won't tell,'' Hilda flashed out, and she started up. ``It's
nobody's business. Why do you ask me all these questions? I
won't answer any more.''
``Now, now, lady,'' said Casey. ``Just keep cool. When you
went, what did you take a knife from the counter for?''
``A knife!'' Hilda gasped, and she would have fallen to the floor
had not Otto caught her.
``That settles it!'' said Casey, in an undertone to O'Rourke.
``She's it, all right. I guess she's told us enough?''
O'Rourke nodded. ``The Cap'n'll get the rest out of her when he
puts her through the third degree.''
They rose and Casey said, with the roughness of one who is afraid
of his inward impulses to gentleness: ``Come, lady, get on your
things. You're going along with us.''
``No! No!'' she cried in terror, flinging herself into her
Brauner blazed up. ``What do you mean?'' he demanded, facing the
``You'll find out soon enough,'' said Casey in a blustering tone.
``The less fuss you make, the better it'll be for you. She's got
to go, and that's all there is to it.''
``This is an outrage,'' interrupted Otto, rushing between Hilda
and the detectives.
``You daren't take her without telling her why. You can't treat
us like dogs.''
``Drop it!'' said Casey contemptuously. ``Drop it, Dutchy. I
guess we know what we're about.''
``Yes--and I know what _I_'m about,'' exclaimed Otto. ``Do you
know Riordan, the district leader here? Well, he's a friend of
mine. If we haven't got any rights you police are bound to
respect, thank God, we've got a `pull'.''
``That's a bluff,'' said Casey, but his tone was less insolent.
``Well, if you must know, she's wanted for the murder of Carl
Hilda flung her arms high above her head and sank into a chair
and buried her face. ``It's a dream!'' she moaned. ``Wake
Otto and Brauner looked each at the other in horror. ``Murder!''
whispered Brauner hoarsely. ``My Hilda--murder!''
Otto went to Hilda and put his arms about her tightly and kissed
``She's got to come,'' said Casey angrily. ``Now, will she go
quietly or shall I call the wagon?''
This threat threw them into a panic. ``You'd better go,'' said
Otto in an undertone to Hilda. ``Don't be frightened, dear.
You're innocent and they can't prove you guilty. You're not poor
At the pressure of his arms Hilda lifted her face, her eyes
shining at him through her tears. And her heart went out to him
as never before. From that moment it was his, all his. ``My
love, my dear love,'' she said. She went to the closet and took
out her hat. She put it on before the mirror over the
mantelpiece. ``I'm ready,'' she said quietly.
In the street, she walked beside Casey; her father and Otto were
close behind with O'Rourke. They turned into Sixth Street. Half
a block down, in front of Meinert's, a crowd was surging, was
filling sidewalk and street. When they came to the edge of it,
Casey suddenly said ``In here'' and took her by the arm. All
went down a long and winding passage, across an open court to a
back door where a policeman in uniform was on guard.
``Did you get her, Mike?'' said the policeman to Casey.
``Here she is,'' replied Casey. ``She didn't give no trouble.''
The policeman opened the door. He let Casey, Hilda and O'Rourke
pass. He thrust back Brauner and Otto. ``No, you don't,'' he
``Let us in!'' commanded Otto, beside himself with rage.
``Not much! Get back!'' He had closed the door and was standing
between it and them, one hand meaningly upon the handle of his
``I am her father,'' half-pleaded, half- protested Brauner.
``Cap'n's orders,'' said the policeman in a gentler voice. ``The
best thing you can do is to go to the station house and wait
there. You won't get to see her here.''
Meanwhile Casey, still holding Hilda by the arm, was guiding her
along a dark hall. When they touched a door he threw it open.
He pushed her roughly into the room. For a few seconds the
sudden blaze of light blinded her. Then--
Before her, stretched upon a table, was--Mr. Feuerstein. She
shrank back and gazed at him with wide, fascinated eyes. His
face was turned toward her, his eyes half-open; he seemed to be
regarding her with a glassy, hateful stare--the ``curse in a dead
man's eye.'' His chin was fallen back and down, and his lips
exposed his teeth in a hideous grin. And then she saw--
Sticking upright from his throat was a knife, the knife from
their counter. It seemed to her to be trembling as if still
agitated from the hand that had fiercely struck out his life.
``My God!'' moaned Hilda, sinking down to the floor and hiding
As she crouched there, Casey said cheerfully to Captain Hanlon,
``You see she's guilty all right, Cap'n.''
Hanlon took his cigar from between his teeth and nodded. At this
a man sitting near him burst out laughing. Hanlon scowled at
The man--Doctor Wharton, a deputy coroner--laughed again. ``I
suppose you think she acts guilty,'' he said to Hanlon.
``Any fool could see that,'' retorted Hanlon.
``Any fool would see it, you'd better say,'' said Doctor Wharton.
``No matter how she took it, you fellows would wag your heads and
say `Guilty.' ''
Hanlon looked uneasily at Hilda, fearing she would draw
encouragement from Wharton's words. But Hilda was still moaning.
``Lift her up and set her in a chair,'' he said to Casey.
Hilda recovered herself somewhat and sat before the captain, her
eyes down, her fluttering hands loose in her lap. ``What was the
trouble between you and him?'' Hanlon asked her presently in a
not unkindly tone.
``Must I tell?'' pleaded Hilda, looking piteously at the captain.
``I don't know anything about this except that he came into our
store and told me he was going to--to--''
She looked at Feuerstein's dead face and shivered. And as she
looked, memories flooded her, drowning resentment and fear. She
rose, went slowly up to him; she laid her hand softly upon his
brow, pushed back his long, yellow hair. The touch of her
fingers seemed to smooth the wild, horrible look from his
features. As she gazed down at him the tears welled into her
eyes. ``I won't talk against him,'' she said simply. ``He's
dead--it's all over and past.''
``She ought to go on the stage,'' growled Casey.
But Wharton said in an unsteady voice, ``That's right, Miss.
They can't force you to talk. Don't say a word until you get a
Hanlon gave him a furious look. ``Don't you meddle in this,'' he
Wharton laughed. ``The man killed himself,'' he replied. ``I
can tell by the slant of the wound. And I don't propose to stand
by and see you giving your third degree to this little girl.''
``We've got the proof, I tell you,'' said Hanlon. ``We've got a
witness who saw her do it--or at least saw her here when she says
she wasn't here.''
Wharton shrugged his shoulders.
``Don't say a word,'' he said to Hilda. ``Get a lawyer.''
``I don't want a lawyer,'' she answered.
``I'm not guilty. Why should I get a lawyer?''
``Well, at any rate, do all your talking in court. These fellows
will twist everything you say.''
``Take her to the station house,'' interrupted Hanlon.
``But I'm innocent,'' said Hilda, clasping her hands on her heart
and looking appealingly at the captain.
``Take her along, Casey.''
Casey laid hold of her arm, but she shook him off. They went
through the sitting-room of the saloon and out at the side door.
When Hilda saw the great crowd she covered her face with her
hands and shrank back. ``There she is! There she is! They're
taking her to the station house!'' shouted the crowd.
Casey closed the door. ``We'll have to get the wagon,'' he said.
They sat waiting until the patrol wagon came. Then Hilda,
half-carried by Casey, crossed the sidewalk through a double line
of blue coats who fought back the frantically curious, pushed on
by those behind. In the wagon she revived and by the time they
reached the station house, seemed calm. Another great crowd was
pressing in; she heard cries of ``There's the girl that killed
him!'' She drew herself up haughtily, looked round with
defiance, with indignation.
Her father and Otto rushed forward as soon as she entered the
doors. She broke down again. ``Take me home! Take me home!''
she sobbed. ``I've not done anything.'' The men forgot that
they had promised each the other to be calm, and cursed and cried
alternately. The matron came, spoke to her gently.
``You'll have to go now, child,'' she said.
Hilda kissed her father, then she and Otto clasped each the other
closely. ``It'll turn out all right, dear,'' he said. ``We're
having a streak of bad luck. But our good luck'll be all the
better when it comes.''
Strength and hope seemed to pass from him into her. She walked
away firmly and the last glimpse they had of her sad sweet young
face was a glimpse of a brave little smile trying to break
through its gray gloom. But alone in her cell, seated upon the
board that was her bed, her disgrace and loneliness and danger
took possession of her. She was a child of the people, brought
up to courage and self-reliance. She could be brave and calm
before false accusers, before staring crowds. But here, with a
dim gas-jet revealing the horror of grated bars and iron ceiling,
walls and floor--
She sat there, hour after hour, sleepless, tearless, her brain
burning, the cries of drunken prisoners in adjoining cells
sounding in her ears like the shrieks of the damned. Seconds
seemed moments, moments hours. ``I'm dreaming,'' she said aloud
at last. She started up and hurled herself against the bars,
beating them with her hands. ``I must wake or I'll die. Oh, the
disgrace! Oh! the shame!''
And she flung herself into a corner of the bench, to dread the
time when the darkness and the loneliness would cease to hide
EXIT MR. FEUERSTEIN
The matron brought her up into the front room of the station
house at eight in the morning. Casey looked at her haggard face
with an expression of satisfaction. ``Her nerve's going,'' he
said to the sergeant. ``I guess she'll break down and confess
They drove her to court in a Black Maria, packed among thieves,
drunkards and disorderly characters. Upon her right side pressed
a slant-faced youth with a huge nose and wafer-thin, flapping
ears, who had snatched a purse in Houston Street. On her left,
lolling against her, was an old woman in dirty calico, with a
faded black bonnet ludicrously awry upon scant white hair--a
drunkard released from the Island three days before and certain
to be back there by noon.
``So you killed him,'' the old woman said to her with a leer of
sympathy and admiration.
At this the other prisoners regarded her with curiosity and
deference. Hilda made no answer, seemed not to have heard. Her
eyes were closed and her face was rigid and gray as stone.
``She needn't be afraid at all,'' declared a young woman in black
satin, addressing the company at large. ``No jury'd ever convict
as good-looking a girl as her.''
``Good business!'' continued the old woman. ``I'd 'a' killed
mine if I could 'a' got at him--forty years ago.'' She nodded
vigorously and cackled. Her cackle rose into a laugh, the laugh
into a maudlin howl, the howl changing into a kind of song--
``My love, my love, my love and I--we had
to part, to part!
And it broke, it broke, it broke my heart
--it broke my heart!''
``Cork up in there!'' shouted the policeman from the seat beside
The old woman became abruptly silent. Hilda moaned and quivered.
Her lips moved. She was murmuring, ``I can't stand it much
longer--I can't. I'll wake soon and see Aunt Greta's picture
looking down at me from the wall and hear mother in the
``Step lively now!'' They were at the Essex Market police court;
they were filing into the waiting-pen. A lawyer, engaged by her
father, came there, and Hilda was sent with him into a little
consultation room. He argued with her in vain. ``I'll speak for
myself,'' she said. ``If I had a lawyer they'd think I was
After an hour the petty offenders had been heard and judged. A
court officer came to the door and called: ``Hilda Brauner!''
Hilda rose. She seemed unconcerned, so calm was she. Her nerves
had reached the point at which nerves refuse to writhe, or even
to record sensations of pain. As she came into the dingy, stuffy
little courtroom she didn't note the throng which filled it to
the last crowded inch of standing-room; did not note the scores
of sympathetic faces of her anxious, loyal friends and neighbors;
did not even see her father and Otto standing inside the railing,
faith and courage in their eyes as they saw her advancing.
The magistrate studied her over the tops of his glasses, and his
look became more and more gentle and kindly. ``Come up here on
the platform in front of me,'' he said.
Hilda took her stand with only the high desk between him and her.
The magistrate's tone and his kind, honest, old face reassured
her. And just then she felt a pressure at her elbow and heard in
Otto's voice: ``We're all here. Don't be afraid.''
``Have you counsel--a lawyer?'' asked the magistrate.
``No,'' replied Hilda. ``I haven't done anything wrong. I don't
need a lawyer.''
The magistrate's eyes twinkled, but he sobered instantly to say,
``I warn you that the case against you looks grave. You had
better have legal help.''
Hilda looked at him bravely. ``I've only the truth to tell,''
she insisted. ``I don't want a lawyer.''
``We'll see,'' said the magistrate, giving her an encouraging
smile. ``If it is as you say, you certainly won't need counsel.
Your rights are secure here.'' He looked at Captain Hanlon, who
was also on the platform. ``Captain,'' said he, ``your first
witness--the man who found the body.''
``Meinert,'' said the captain in a low tone to a court officer,
who called loudly, ``Meinert! Meinert!''
A man stood up in the crowd. ``You don't want me!'' he shouted,
as if he were trying to make himself heard through a great
distance instead of a few feet.
``Come forward !'' commanded the magistrate sharply, and when
Meinert stood before him and beside Hilda and had been sworn, he
said, ``Now, tell your story.''
``The man--Feuerstein,'' began Meinert, ``came into my place
about half-past one yesterday. He looked a little wild-- as if
he'd been drinking or was in trouble. He went back into the
sitting-room and I sent in to him and--''
``Did you go in?''
``No, your Honor.''
``When did you see him again?''
``Not till the police came.''
``Stand down. I want evidence, not gossip. Captain Hanlon, who
found the body? Do you know?''
``Your Honor, I understood that Mr. Meinert found it.''
The magistrate frowned at him. Then he said, raising his voice,
``Does ANY ONE know who found the body?''
``My man Wielert did,'' spoke up Meinert.
A bleached German boy with a cowlick in the center of his head
just above his forehead came up beside Hilda and was sworn.
``You found the body?''
``Yes,'' said Wielert. He was blinking stupidly and his throat
was expanding and contracting with fright.
``Tell us all you saw and heard and did.''
``I take him the brandy in. And he sit and talk to himself. And
he ask for paper and ink. And then he write and look round like
crazy. And he make luny talk I don't understand. And he speak
what he write--''
Captain Hanlon was red and was looking at Wielert in blank
``What did he write?'' asked the magistrate.
``A letter,'' answered Wielert. ``He put it in a envelope with a
stamp on it and he write on the back and make it all ready. And
then I watch him, and he take out a knife and feel it and speak
with it. And I go in and ask him for money.''
``Your Honor, this witness told us nothing of that before,''
interrupted Hanlon. ``I understood that the knife--''
``Did you question him?'' asked the magistrate.
``No,'' replied the captain humbly. And Casey and O'Rourke shook
their big, hard-looking heads to indicate that they had not
``I am curious to know what you HAVE done in this case,'' said
the magistrate sternly. ``It is a serious matter to take a young
girl like this into custody. You police seem unable to learn
that you are not the rulers, but the servants of the people.''
``Your Honor--'' began Hanlon.
``Silence!'' interrupted the magistrate, rapping on the desk with
his gavel. ``Proceed, Wielert. What kind of knife was it?''
``The knife in his throat afterward,'' answered Wielert. ``And I
hear a sound like steam out a pipe--and I go in and see a lady at
the street door. She peep through the crack and her face all
yellow and her eye big. And she go away.''
Hilda was looking at him calmly. She was the only person in the
room who was not intensely agitated. All eyes were upon her.
There was absolute silence.
``Is that lady here?'' asked the magistrate. His voice seemed
loud and strained.
``Yes,'' said Wielert. ``I see her.''
Otto instinctively put his arm about Hilda. Her father was like
a leaf in the wind.
Wielert looked at Hilda earnestly, then let his glance wander
over the still courtroom. He was most deliberate. At last he
said, ``I see her again.''
``Point her out,'' said the magistrate-- it was evidently with an
effort that he broke that straining silence.
``That lady there.'' Wielert pointed at a woman sitting just
outside the inclosure, with her face half-hid by her hand.
A sigh of relief swelled from the crowd. Paul Brauner sobbed.
``Why, she's our witness!'' exclaimed Hanlon, forgetting himself.
The magistrate rapped sharply, and, looking toward the woman,
said, ``Stand up, Madam. Officer, assist her!''
The court officer lifted her to her feet. Her hand dropped and
revealed the drawn, twitching face of Sophie Liebers.
``Your Honor,'' said Hanlon hurriedly, ``that is the woman upon
whose statement we made our case. She told us she saw Hilda
Brauner coming from the family entrance just before the alarm was
``Are you sure she's the woman you saw?'' said the magistrate to
Wielert. ``Be careful what you say.''
``That's her,'' answered Wielert. ``I see her often. She live
across the street from Meinert's.''
``Officer, bring the woman forward,'' commanded the magistrate.
Sophie, blue with terror, was almost dragged to the platform
beside Hilda. Hilda looked stunned, dazed.
``Speak out!'' ordered the magistrate.
``You have heard what this witness testified.''
Sophie was weeping violently. ``It's all a mistake,'' she cried
in a low, choked voice. ``I was scared. I didn't mean to tell
the police Hilda was there. I was afraid they'd think I did it
if I didn't say something.''
``Tell us what you saw.'' The magistrate's voice was severe.
``We want the whole truth.''
``I was at our window. And I saw Hilda come along and go in at
the family entrance over at Meinert's. And I'd seen Mr.
Feuerstein go in the front door about an hour before. Hilda came
out and went away. She looked so queer that I wanted to see. I
ran across the street and looked in. Mr. Feuerstein was sitting
there with a knife in his hand. And all at once he stood up and
stabbed himself in the neck--and there was blood--and he
fell--and--I ran away.''
``And did the police come to you and threaten you?'' asked the
``Your Honor,'' protested Captain Hanlon with an injured air,
``SHE came to US.''
``Is that true?'' asked the magistrate of Sophie.
Sophie wept loudly. ``Your Honor,'' Hanlon went on, ``she came
to me and said it was her duty to tell me, though it involved her
friend. She said positively that this girl went in, stayed
several minutes, then came out looking very strange, and that
immediately afterward there was the excitement. Of course, we
``Of course,'' echoed the magistrate ironically. ``It gave you
an opportunity for an act of oppression.''
``I didn't mean to get Hilda into trouble. I swear I didn't,''
Sophie exclaimed. ``I was scared. I didn't know what I was
doing. I swear I didn't!''
Hilda's look was pity, not anger. ``Oh, Sophie,'' she said
``What did your men do with the letter Feuerstein wrote?'' asked
the magistrate of Hanlon suspiciously.
``Your Honor, we--'' Hanlon looked round nervously.
Wielert, who had been gradually rising in his own estimation, as
he realized the importance of his part in the proceedings, now
pushed forward, his face flushed with triumph. ``I know where it
is,'' he said eagerly. ``When I ran for the police I mail it.''
There was a tumult of hysterical laughter, everybody seeking
relief from the strain of what had gone before. The magistrate
rapped down the noise and called for Doctor Wharton. While he
was giving his technical explanation a note was handed up to the
bench. The magistrate read:
GERMAN THEATER, 3 September.
YOUR HONOR--I hasten to send you the inclosed letter which I
found in my mail this morning. It seems to have an important
bearing on the hearing in the Feuerstein case, which I see by the
papers comes up before you to-day.
Very truly yours,