Part 2 out of 7
front of his gang. His clothes give him away--a loafing demagogue!"
But the tall man did not pause at the car or even glance at the
dignitary who occupied it. He seemed to have lost all interest in the
occasion. He yawned as he passed the automobile and started away
across the square.
"Here, you! You big chap!" called Colonel Dodd, promptly emboldened.
Farr halted and turned, his countenance showing mild inquiry.
"What do you mean by coming into a peaceable city and stirring up
"Have I done so?"
"You have just been mixing and mingling with those men, talking to
them. I know your kind."
"Ah, a gentleman of keen discernment!"
"I have seen you before--you fellows with long-tailed coats and short-
horned ideas. We don't want your kind in this city!"
"I seem to have made a prompt sensation without trying to do so,"
returned Farr, meekly. "I have been in your city less than fifteen
"You're a traveling labor-agitator, aren't you?"
"But I just saw you circulating among those men. Your rig-out shows
"You mean these garments I wear?"
"Certainly! A frock-coat helps out your pose before an ignorant
"He stole that coat from me," squeaked a fat man, standing at a little
distance, scrubbing a torn sleeve over his grimy, sweat-streaked face.
"He picked it fair off'n my back. I have follered him to show him up
as a robber and a fake. That's so help me!"
Riotous laughter from all the listeners followed that declaration; a
glance at the tubby tramp and survey of the tall young man whose
contours fitted the garments made the fat man's assertion seem like a
"I can prove it!" squalled the vagrant.
"Beat it! Get out of this city!" commanded a policeman. "If you don't
we'll have you on the rock-pile. What ye mean by such guff?" He
flourished his stick and the tramp hurried away.
"It's no use," he whined. "Grab and bluff! Him what can do it best
always wins. That's the way the world goes!"
"When I took these clothes off the back of my vanishing friend I felt
that they would make a change in my life," stated Farr, with a smile
which provoked more laughter. "But I did not dream that they would
bring me such prominence in so short a time." He bowed to the man in
But Colonel Dodd was angry and insistent and did not join in the
"I say you are a labor-agitator. Any man who won't go to work himself
has no right to be stirring up other workers against their own
interests. You may as well own up to me, my man. These men standing
around here know what you are--you have been talking with them.
Outside of stirring trouble, you don't work, do you?"
"Oh yes, my lord!"
There was smiling mockery in the tone, almost insolence. He seemed to
be willing to display to the rich man the same lack of respect he had
displayed to the poor men who stood near and listened to this
"Oh, you do?" Colonel Dodd raised his voice. "Listen sharp, my men! Do
you want to be led around by the noses by a man who doesn't work? This
gentleman is going to tell us what his job is!" He sneered when he
"I am an assiduous toiler in my profession, your excellency. I am
surprised that as an employer you do not recognize a real worker when
you see one."
This tone of raillery and this stilted manner of speech promptly
caught the fancy of the throng. The men crowded more closely and the
orator on the trough was silent.
"What do you work at?"
"I am an architect, your gracious highness."
"Less of that insolence in the way of names, my friend! An architect,
eh? Well, what did you ever build?"
"I laid out Dream Avenue in the boom city of Expectation and built on
that thoroughfare a magnificent row of castles in the air. If you had
a bit more imagination I might try to sell you something in my line.
But it is useless, I see! Farewell!"
He swept off his broad-brimmed hat with a deep bow, backed away a few
steps, and bowed again and went on his way. The crowd guffawed. This
baiting of the city's labor magnate had most agreeably scratched their
itching sense of resentment.
"I don't know who that josher is, but I hate to lose him out of town,"
confided the orator on the trough to those near him.
"I never saw that fellow before, but I'll pinch him if you say so,
Colonel Dodd," volunteered the policeman. "Do you make complaint?"
"No," snapped the colonel, glowering on the broad back which was
swinging across the square in retreat. He told his chauffeur to drive
When the car passed Farr the colonel flicked cigar ashes which
alighted in a spray of dust on the sleeve of the frock-coat.
"Bah!" said the colonel, shooting the young man a scowl.
Farr gave in return a smile, but it was not a particularly genial
The young man went on his way leisurely; by his gait, by his frequent
and somewhat prolonged pauses at shop windows, by his indifferent
starings at traffic and pedestrians, it was plain that he had little
of moment on his mind.
He bought a penny glass of water at a corner kiosk.
"Do you mind telling me," he asked the vender, "Who is Colonel Dodd of
this city? I am a stranger and I have just overheard the name."
The man grinned. "If it wasn't for Colonel Symonds Dodd I wouldn't be
making much of a living here, selling spring-water. He is president of
"And that means?"
"Why, it means that he is boss of the water trust that owns the system
in this city and in all the other cities and towns of this state. And
they pump all of their water out of the rivers because the lakes are
so far off, and nobody drinks that water unless he has to or don't
know any better. Colonel Dodd? Why, he bosses the whole state, they
"I gathered that he was important," said the young man, and walked on.
He was held up in the passing crowd at a street corner for a few
moments because a parade of some half-dozen automobiles whirled past.
The cars were decorated with banners, and the wild flowers and other
spoil of forest and field in the arms of the ladies indicated that
this was a party returning from a picnic in the suburbs.
"Would you mind telling me," asked Farr of the policeman who was
guarding the corner, "who that young man is--the one there in the gray
"With the bleached blonde and the pretty girl?" asked the officer.
"Oh, that's Colonel Dodd's nephew--Dicky Dodd. Of course you know who
the colonel is."
"Yes," said Farr. He opened his mouth to ask another question, for the
policeman seemed to be of the obliging sort. Then he closed his lips
resolutely and marched along.
"What's the use?" he muttered. "Two dark eyes and a red mouth--and I
am almost forgetting how to be a philosopher."
Farther down the city thoroughfare he met one who had claimed to be a
philosopher. It was Jared Chick, stalking along the sidewalk in his
home-made armor. He held a box of stove-polish in one hand and a brush
in the other, and as he strolled he was giving his corselet and such
parts of the armor as he could handily reach a glossy coat--a gleaming
and burnished surface. On his helmet in place of a crest Knight Chick
bore aloft a metal banneret inscribed, "Invincible Stove Polish."
"And the mission?" asked Farr, halting his quondam companion, who had
been too intent upon his business to pay heed to passers.
"I find thee changed, and no doubt thee, too, finds me changed,"
sighed Mr. Chick.
The mouth of an alley between high buildings afforded a retreat and
the breeze blew there fitfully, and Mr. Chick stepped to that oasis of
shade in the glare of sunshine.
"I have been obliged to modify my mission in some degree. I must
confess that to thee," he said. "This is a strange and wicked world."
"Didn't you know it before you gave up a good blacksmith business to
go out in the hot sun and suffer torment, all for nothing?"
"It is very hard work," acknowledged Chick, showing his flushed and
streaming face under his vizor. "If I were not used to the fires of
the forge I think I would fall down and die. But I must keep on."
"But you are simply an advertising-sign."
"I have modified my mission. I have not given up, however. I will tell
thee! I found a man beside the way--a man who had been drinking strong
waters and whose pockets had been turned wrong side out. So I took him
to a tavern and I sat with him through the night, and nursed him when
he suffered, and revealed my mission when he awoke. 'I am out to do
good to all men,' I told him, and he searched through his pockets with
blasphemy, and he said that I had done him--and he haled me before the
court, and the judge said that no man could publicly profess such
disinterestedness and escape suspicion, because people in these days
are all looking for the main chance. So he did not believe me and he
sentenced me to the jail. But a good Samaritan interceded for me and
took me from behind the bars, and now in the spirit of gratitude I am
repaying him; he makes and sells this stove-polish."
"That man is evidently shrewd in business and a good advertiser,"
"I find that I get along much better in the world," asserted the
knight-errant. "Now that I carry an advertising-sign my armor attracts
no rude mobs. I can go abroad and do good to a foolish world; I can
use the stipend my good benefactor allows to me for my work and I can
help poor folks here and there. Therefore, I am content with my
modified mission. Is thee more at peace with the world?"
"I ought to be, after hearing you say that /you/ are contented," said
Farr, with irony.
"Thee has manifestly improved thy condition, so I observe."
"It often happens in this world, Friend Chick, that the sleeker we are
on the outside, the more ragged we are within. I think I'll move on. I
might say something to jar your sense of sublime content. I'd be sorry
to do that. Real contentment is a rare thing and must be handled very
"I fear thee loves thyself too much," chided the Quaker. "Affection
for somebody might make thee happy, my friend."
Farr choked back the comment that occurred to him in regard to love
and walked away.
THE RAKE WHICH GROPED IN DARK WATERS
The afternoon was waning, but the hot bowl of the sky seemed to shut
down over the city more closely.
Farr held to the shaded sides of the streets, and yearned for a patch
of green and a tree and its shade.
At last he came into a section of the city where vast mills, one
succeeding another in rows which vanished in the distance, clacked
their everlasting staccato of hurrying looms, venting clamor from the
thousands of open windows. A canal of slow-moving, turbid water
intersected the city and fed its quota of power to each mill. The
fenced bank of the canal was green; and elms, languid in the fierce
heat, gave shade here and there with wilted leaves. The masses of
brick which inclosed the toilers within the mills puffed off tremulous
heat-waves and suggested that humanity must be baking in those
A high fence interposed between the canal and the street; the mill
lawn which extended between the canal and the shimmering brick walls
was also inclosed. Signs posted on the fence warned trespassers not to
A bridge carried the street across the canal, and Farr stood there for
a time and watched the swirl of the water below. Then he sauntered on
and surveyed the expanse of mill lawn with appraising and envious
The young man climbed the canal fence, exhibiting more of his cool
contempt for authority by helping himself over the sharp spikes with
the aid of a "No Trespassing" sign. The sickly odor of raw cotton came
floating to his nostrils from the open windows. He strolled to the
head of a transverse canal which sucked water from the main stream. A
sprawling tree shaded a foot-worn plank where an old man, with bent
shoulders and a withered face, trudged to and fro, clawing down into
the black waters with a huge rake. He was the rack-tender--it was his
task to keep the ribs of the guarding rack clear of the refuse that
came swirling down with the water, for flotsam, if allowed to lodge,
might filch some of the jealously guarded power away from the mighty
turbines which growled and grunted in the depths of the wheel-pits.
With rake in one hand and a long, barbed pole in the other the old man
bent over the bubbling torrent that the rack's teeth sucked hissingly
between them. Bits of wood, soggy paper, an old umbrella, all manner
of stuff which had been tossed into the canal by lazy folks up-stream,
he raked and pulled up and piled at the end of his foot-bridge.
"Hy, yi, old Pickaroon!" came a child's shrill voice from a mill
window. "There's a tramp under your tree."
The old man raised his head from his work at the rack.
"You must not come on dis place," he cried, with a strong French-
"Who says so?" inquired the stranger, putting his back against the
tree and stretching out his legs.
"And I--my worthy alien--I am Walker Farr from Nowhere. Now that we
have been properly introduced I will sit here and rest. I am here
because I love the soothing sound of babbling waters on a hot day. Go
about your work. I'll watch you. I love surprises. Who knows what next
you'll draw forth from the depths of fate?
"I can have you arrest!" cried the old man.
The uninvited guest took off his broad-brimmed hat, laid it across his
knees, and ran his hand through his shock of brown hair; it curled
damply over his forehead and, behind, reached down nearly to his coat-
collar, hiding his tanned neck. In some men that length of hair might
have seemed affectation. It gave this man, as he sat there uncovered,
that touch of the unusual which separates the person of strong
individuality from the mere mob. Then he smiled on old Etienne--such a
warm, radiant, compelling, disarming sort of smile that the rack-
tender turned to his work again, muttering. His mouth twitched and the
crinkles in his withered face deepened.
Walker Farr found a comfortable indentation in the tree-trunk and
settled his head there.
"How much do you get a week for doing that, Etienne?" he inquired,
with cool assurance.
The old man glance sideways sharply, but the smile won him.
"After supporting your family, what do you do with the rest of the
money these generous mill-owners allow you?"
"I never was marry."
The young man looked up at the mill windows where childish heads were
bobbing to and fro.
"That was poor judgment, Etienne. You might have married and have a
dozen children now, working hard for you in the mill. Just like those
The old man came to the end of his foot-bridge and flung down his rake
and his pike-pole.
The sudden emotions of his Gallic forebears swept through him. His
features worked, his voice was high with passion.
"Ba gar, I don't sleep the night because I think about dem poor
childs. Dem little white face, dem arm, dem leg--all dry up--not so
big as chicken leg. And all outdoor free to odder childs--not to them
childs up dere." He shook his fists at the mill windows. And some
child who saw the motion, getting a hasty peep from a widow, squealed,
"Hi yi, old Pickaroon!"
"It doesn't pay to get too excited over the sorrows of the world, my
friend," drawled the young man under the tree. "It doesn't do any
good; and then somebody calls you names. I was something like you
once. But I've changed my philosophy. I have hypnotized my altruism.
Now I'm perfectly happy."
Etienne stared without understanding these big words. But he had often
told himself that he never expected to understand Yankee speech very
well. He worked alone; he lived alone in his garret in the tenement
block; he talked but little with any person. But this young man with
the wonderful smile seemed to inspire him to talk--even to the extent
of revealing his secrets.
He lowered his voice. "Thirty year I have work here. I live way up in
the little room. Bread I eat with lard on it. It costs little. Of the
six dollaire I save much. Ah, /oui/! Hist! Not for me I save it. Ah,
/non/! To the priest I give it. To the good priest. And the poor
childs what are sick--he send 'em to the farm--to have some outdoors.
But I don't sleep the night because I think the dollaire come so slow
--and so many poor childs are sick."
He picked up his rake and pike and went back to his labor.
The man under the tree did not lose his smile.
"Yonder is a brand of altruism that cannot be hypnotized or modified
like Knight Chick's, I fear," he muttered. "You'd have to hit it on
the head--kill it with sticks! And my definition of philanthropy has
always been, 'giving away something you don't want in order to get
yourself advertised.' Etienne is interesting. He is the only
philanthropist I have even found who will eat lard instead of butter
so as to save more for his philanthropy." Now his smile grew hard.
"Don't dare to open your eyes, Altruism," he commanded. "I saw the
lids quiver a minute ago while that old man was talking, but remember
He saw the rack-tender lay down his pike so as to give both hands to
his big rake.
He was pulling at something heavier than the ordinary flotsam--
something far below the surface of the water. At last it broke through
the black surface of the turbid flood. To Walker Farr, glancing
carelessly, it seemed like a bedraggled bundle of rags with something
white at the end.
"You come help, m'sieu'," called old Etienne. "It is a dead woman."
Together they pulled the rake's dread burden slowly up the bars of the
"You seem pretty cool about this," gasped the young man.
"It is no new thing. Many drown themselves--they drown in the canal so
they will be found. Women and girls, they drown themselves. So! Help
me carry her."
Farr gazed down on her after she had been laid on the canal bank. She
was young, but thin and work-worn.
"Weaver," commented old Etienne, laying back on her breast one of the
hands he had lifted. "There's the marks on the fingers where she have
tie so many knots so quick."
There was a key on her breast; it was secured by a cord that passed
out of sight between the buttons on her waist. Farr stooped and pulled
on the key. A folded paper came with the key; the other end of the
cord was tied around the paper.
"You must not--it is for the coroner," protested Etienne. "I know the
law--I have drag up so many."
"My besetting sin is curiosity," declared the young man, his calm
impertinence unruffled. He pulled the wet paper from the noose of the
cord. "We'll read this together."
"I cannot read," confessed the rack-tender. "You shall read it to me."
His little black eyes gleamed now with curiosity of his own. "I shall
be glad to hear. The coroner he never read to me."
The water had spread the ink and spotted the paper, but Farr was able
to decipher the missive. He read aloud:
"'My head has grown bad since my husband died. It is grief, the
awful heat, the work at the looms. They said if I would give my
little girl away she could go to the country and grow well. But I
could not give her up for ever. I could not earn the money to send
her to board. I could not earn the money except to buy us bread
here in the tenement block. And my bad head has been telling me
it's best to kill myself and take her with me. So I kill myself
before my head grows so bad that I might take away my little
girl's life. It belongs to her and I hope she may be happy. Will
somebody take her and give her happiness? It is wicked to kill
myself, but my head is so bad I cannot think out the right way to
do. This is the key to the room in Block Ten.
"'MRS. ELISIANE SIROIS.
"'Her name is Rosemarie.'"
Walker Farr finished reading and stared into the glittering eyes of
the old man.
Etienne Provancher swore roundly and furiously--the strange, hard
oaths that his ancestors had brought from the Normandy of the
"So you shall see--it is as I have say." He shook his fists again at
the mill. Its open windows vomited the staccato chatterings of the
myriad looms. "It chews up the poor people. Hear its dam' teeth go
"The Gallic imagination is always active," said Farr, joggling the key
at the end of the cord and eyeing it with peculiar interest. "But in
this case it seems to picture conditions pretty accurately. I wonder
just what a visitor would find inside the door that this key fits!"
"You shall go tell them at the office of the mill," commanded Etienne.
"Tell them they have killed another. They will telephone for the
coroner. I will give the paper and the key when he come." He held out
his hand. "It is the law."
"I have a natural hankering--sometimes--to break the law," affirmed
the young man. "I feel that fatal curiosity of mine stirring again,
Friend Etienne. I will send the coroner. But coroners love mysteries.
If we give him the letter it will take all the spice out of this
affair. Let's make him happy--he can drag out the inquest and give his
friends a long job on the jury." He smiled and started away, shaking
his head when the old man protested shrilly. "Better say nothing about
this letter and the key. You'll get into trouble for letting a
stranger come in here and carry away evidence. Better keep out of the
law, Etienne." He grabbed the "No Trespassing" sign for a hand-hold
and climbed over the fence. "I'll come back and tell you, Etienne. But
keep mum," he advised.
"It is his smile--it makes me break the law," mumbled the old man.
THE KEY TO A DOOR IN BLOCK TEN
Walker Farr gave the first policeman--a fat and sweltering individual
--a piece of gruesome news and in return casually asked the location
of Block Ten.
The policeman grudgingly growled the information over his shoulder
while waiting for the station to answer the call from his box.
The young man, taking his time, found the place at last, one in an
interminable row of tenement-houses, all identical in structure and
squalor, bearing the mark of corporation niggardliness in their cheap
lumber and stingy accommodations.
The hallway that Farr entered was narrow and stifling--stale odors of
thousands of dead-and-gone boiled dinners mingled there, and a
stairway with a greasy handrail invited him. The key bore a number. He
hunted till he found a room, far up, flight after flight. Through open
doors he saw here and there aged women or doddering old men who were
guardians of dirty babes who tumbled about on the bare floors.
"Either too old to run a loom or too young to lug a bobbin," Farr
informed himself; "that's why they aren't in the mill."
Old folks and babes stared at him without showing interest.
No one looked at him when he opened the door in which the key fitted.
He stepped in quickly and closed and locked the door behind him.
It was a little room and pitifully bare, and it was under the roof,
and the ceiling slanted across it so sharply that the young man, tall
above the average, was compelled to bow his head.
A little girl, a wraith of a child, pale with the pallor of a
prisoner, hardly more than a toddler, sat on the floor and stared up
at the intruder, frozen, silent, immobile with the sudden, paralyzing
terror that grasps the frightened child. Pathetically poor little
playthings were scattered about her: a doll fashioned from gingham and
cotton-waste, makeshift dishes of pasteboard, a doll-carriage made
from a broken flower-basket with spools for wheels. The man who
entered saw all with one glance and understood that here in this bare
room this child had been compelled to drag out the weary hours alone
while the mother had toiled. Here now the child waited patiently for--
for that water-soaked bundle, with the white, dead face, that lay on
the canal bank waiting for the coroner.
And when he realized it and saw this and looked down on that lonely,
patient, wistful little creature making the best shift she could with
those pitiable playthings, something came up from that man's breast
into his throat. He had not supposed he had any of it left in his soul
--it was tender, agonizing, heartrending pity.
She still stared at him, terrorized. Probably she had never seen any
face come in at that door except her mother's.
His pity must have given Walker Farr a hint of how to deal with this
frightened child. He did not speak to her. He made no move toward her.
But it was not the smile he had given the fat plutocrat in the
automobile, nor yet the jocular radiance he had displayed to old
Etienne. It was such a smile as the man had never smiled before--and
he realized it. He did not want to smile. He wanted to weep. But he
brought that smile from tender depths in his soul--depths he had not
known of before--and tears came with the smile.
Before that time the lines in his face had fitted the smile of the
cynic, the grimace of banter, of irony and insolence. But the strange
glory that now glowed upon his features came there after the mightiest
effort he had ever made to control his feelings and his expression.
In that smile he soothed, he promised, he appealed. Then when he saw
the tense expression of fear fade away he smiled more broadly--he
provoked reply in kind. And slowly upon the child's face an answering
smile began to dawn--little crinkles at the corners of the drooping
mouth, little flickerings in the blue eyes, until at last the two
beaming faces pledged--on the part of the man tender protection, on
the part of the child unquestioning confidence.
But he said no word--he dared not trust his voice.
He went down on his knees cautiously, her smile welcoming him now.
He held out his hands. She hesitated a moment and then gave into them
her chiefest possession--her rag doll. It was as if she had pledged
her faith in him. He danced the doll upon his broad palm, and the
child's eyes, dancing too, thanked him for the courtesy he was paying
to her dearest friend.
But Walker Farr realized that something strange and disquieting in the
case of a man who believed himself a cynic was stirring within him.
That hostage of the doll was not sufficient to satisfy the sudden
queer craving. The knowledge of the hopeless helplessness of that
little girl throbbed through him. The memory of the spectacle of what
he had left on the canal bank made the pathos of this little scene in
the garret doubly poignant as he looked into the child's eyes. Never,
in his memory, had he invited a child to come to him.
Now he put out his hand--and it trembled. She snuggled her warm little
fist into his grasp. And then she scrambled up and came and nestled
confidingly against him. She couldn't see his face then, and he
allowed the tears of a strong man who is overcome before he has
understood--who wonders at himself--he allowed those tears to streak
his cheeks and did not wipe them away.
Walker Farr was too perturbed to soliloquize just then in his
philosopher's style, but he did realize that some part of his altruism
had come out of its trance.
And after he had knelt there on the floor for a time he rose and took
the child in his arms and sat down in a creaky rocking-chair and
crooned under his breath, and was astonished to find that she had gone
sound asleep. He stared into the dusk that was gathering outside the
dormer window and wondered what ailed him.
He had heard many feet thudding on the stairs below. The workers were
returning. The beehive was filling. There were many voices, clatter of
dishes, chatter of patois.
He wondered how well the woman Sirois was known in the house--whether
she had relatives--how soon somebody would come and beat upon the
He wondered just what disposition was made of children left in this
If the woman had relatives who were forced to take the child it meant
more of this horrible tenement life. The child in his arms was pale
and thin; her bones seemed as inconsiderable as a bird's.
He did not know much about children's homes, orphanages, institutions
for the reception of the homeless, but it seemed to him that such a
tiny, frail little girl would be very, very lonely in such a place.
The skies grew dark without. He was cramped because he had sat for
hours in one position, fearing to waken her. But when he moved she did
not waken--he did not understand how soundly childhood can sleep. He
laid her on the foot of the narrow bed and looked about the room,
shielding a match with his hands. He had resolved to carry her out of
that fetid, overcrowded babel of a tenement. Where? He did not know.
He hunted to find her belongings. He found a few clothes. There was no
receptacle in which he could pack them. He folded them and crowded the
articles in his pockets. He stuffed in the doll and the rude
playthings and hooked the basket doll-carriage upon his arm. She did
not waken when he picked her up. He tiptoed down the stairs and nobody
noticed him, In his own dizzy mind he could not determine whether he
felt most like a thief or a lunatic. At any rate, he found himself
walking the streets of the mill city at ten o'clock at night, carrying
a little girl in his arms and all her earthly possessions in his
It came over him at last that the longer he kept her the more
uncertain he became as to what disposal he should make of her, or else
he was more loath to part with her; he didn't exactly know which.
Then she woke and spoke for the first time. "Me is te'bble hungry--and
firsty," she mourned.
"Good Lord! What's the matter with me?" grunted the young man. "If I
had found a cat or a dog, the first thing I would have done would be
to give 'em something to eat. I reckon I must have thought I had
picked up an angel." To her he said, smoothing her hair with his free
hand. "We'll have sumpin for baby's tummy mighty quick." He flushed at
sound of that baby prattle from his lips. But it had popped out in the
most natural manner possible.
He headed for the nearest night lunch-cart. He entered with his
He elbowed aside men who were eating sandwiches and pie at the
counter. With complete and rueful knowledge as to the extent of his
resources, he ordered a bowl of bread and milk--"the best you can do
for a hungry kiddie for ten cents," he added.
"Anything for yourself?" inquired the waiter.
He shook his head and paid for the child's supper with his whole
capital, two nickels. He held her on the end of the counter and,
awkwardly but with tender carefulness, fed the bread and milk to her
with a spoon. A healthy man's hunger gnawed within him and the savor
of coffee from the big, bubbling urn tantalized him. He tipped the
bowl to her lips and she drank the last of the milk with a happy
little sigh, and he went out into the night again, carrying her in his
He understood all the suspicions that policemen entertain in the case
of night prowlers, and knew that they would be particularly and
meddlesomely interested in one who prowled with a child in his arms.
The child began to whimper softly. Her interest in the stranger who
had won her with a smile, her slumber in his arms, her feast in
strange surroundings, had kept her child's mind busy and pacified till
then. Now she voiced childhood's unvarying lament--"I wants my mamma!"
He soothed her as best he could, promising, giving her all manner of
assurance regarding her mother, wondering all the time what was to be
done. Why had he interfered? Why had he taken upon himself the custody
of this mite, so trifling a weight in his arms, but now resting--a
giant of a burden--on his responsibility? He did not know. He owned up
to that ignorance frankly. But he walked on, carrying her, and put
away from his thoughts the sensible alternative of placing her in the
hands of those duly appointed to care for such cases.
He told himself that, as a stranger in the city, he would not be able
to find a refuge--an institution that time of night--and he knew that
he was lying to himself, and wondered why.
The impulse that directed his course toward the canal was rather grim,
but he remembered the tree which had been sanctuary for him that day.
He carefully lowered the little girl over the fence and climbed after
her. And she did not call any more for her mother because this strange
new scene seemed to impress her and fill her with wonderment. She
stared up into the dim, mysterious, rustling foliage of the tree for a
long time. She patted her hands upon the grass as if it were something
she had never seen or felt before. She seemed to be making her first
acquaintance with Mother Nature--claiming the heritage of outdoors
that children so intensely covet. The sloped ceiling and the walls of
the attic room had been sky and landscape for her. She peered into the
still waters of the canal and saw the stars reflected there, and
cocked her ear to listen when sleepy birds stirred above and chirped
in their dreams. And then she fell asleep again and he tucked her
within his coat to keep from her the dampness of the faint mist rising
from the canal.
The dawn flushed early and she woke when the birds did, and found so
much to interest her--ants who ran up and down the tree, funny bugs
that tumbled, robins who bounced along the sward on stiff legs--that
she did not ask for her mother nor seem to find at all strange the
companionship of this tall man whose face was so kind.
And so Etienne Provancher found them when he came with his rake and
pike-pole at six o'clock, the hour when the great turbines began to
grunt and rumble in their deep pits.
"It is Rosemarie--I found her in the room," said Walker Farr.
The old man came close and gazed down on the pallor and pathos of this
little snipped who still stared at the new wonders of outdoors.
"Anodder one, hey? You found her lock up?"
"Yes, and I brought her away--and I don't know just what the matter is
with me, Etienne. I have not been inclined to put myself out for
anybody in this world--man, woman, or child--of late years. I had made
up my mind to let the world run itself."
"It is the way the rich man say--he do not care. But the poor man
should care--he should try to help odder poor man. He should care."
"Oh, there are things that can happen to make a man stop caring. But I
brought her away, just the same. I--I woke up--or something. I have
been awake all night--I have been thinking--I had nothing else to do.
Insomnia has made me insane--one night of it!" He laughed when the old
man blinked at him. "I'm so crazy that I want you to help me find some
good woman who will take this child to board in a comfortable home."
"I'll pay. Oh, I am completely crazy--I'm going to work--earn money to
pay her board."
"I know a good woman near by--she have leetle house, cat, plant in
"That's the kind."
"I will tell you where she live. You shall say you come from Etienne
Provancher and it will make you good for her." He paused, raised a
brown finger, then went on. "But you shall not know where she live
onless I may pay half the board money for the poor little one. We have
been togedder in it--I tell some lie to the coroner--we must be
togedder in help the childs."
There was firm resolve in old Etienne's face and tones.
"Partnership it shall be, my old boy," agreed the young man, heartily.
"I'm no pig--I won't keep a good man out of a real picnic." He rose
and swept the child into his arms. "Give me the address and hand her
over the fence to me. I'll have to quit being nurse and find a real
job. By the way, Etienne, I heard a fat man weeping yesterday because
he couldn't get men to dig dirt for the Consolidated Water Company. He
seemed to take a great fancy to me. Where's their office?"
He received both the information and the child after he had climbed
the fence. Etienne was able to point out the little house of sanctuary
from where he stood--and he waved his rake reassuringly from a
distance when the good woman came to the door, answering Farr's knock.
He danced into the house with the child, behind the good woman, who
had answered Etienne's signal with a return flip of her apron; he was
trying to bring a smile to the little face.
"You'll have to lie to her more or less about her mother, good woman.
Etienne and I will tell you all about it when there's time. When she
asks about her mother just give her something to eat and lie a bit."
He set the child upon the table where the good woman was making fresh
cookies. He piled the little toys about her. "I'm going to market, to
market to buy a fat pig, and I'll be home again, riggy-jig-jig," he
declared in a singsong that fetched a chuckle from the waif, and she
followed him with a smile as he hurried out. "That smile will sweeten
a day's work in the trench," he assured himself. "I sure am some
foster-father when I get started!"
A listless clerk at the Consolidated office gave him a ticket to be
delivered to the foreman of construction--the foreman sent him out
with other men on a rattling jigger-wagon. By being very humble, and
with the aid of his smile, he succeeded in begging a corned-beef
sandwich for his breakfast from a workman on the jigger who was
carrying his lunch to work. He ate it very slowly so as to make the
most of it.
The new trench was in a suburban plot which had just been opened up by
a real-estate syndicate. It was a bare tract, flat and dusty, and the
only trees were newly planted saplings that were about as large as
fishing-poles. How the sun did beat into that trench! But Walker Farr
threw off his coat and used again his ready asset--his smile. He
smiled at the boss who sneered at the style of "fiddler's hair" worn
by a dirt-flinger--smiled so sweetly that the boss came over later and
hit him a friendly clap on the shoulder and said, "Well, old scout,
here's hoping that times will be better!"
"I'll take her out on the bank of the canal this evening before
bedtime and we'll have a lark," reflected Walker Farr as he toiled in
the hot trench. And he stopped quizzing himself as to the whys of this
sudden devotion to a freakish notion. He seemed to know at last.
THE GIRL FROM TADOUSAC
When the noon hour came Farr went and sat under a spindling tree and
began to read in one of his little books, dismissing thoughts of
hunger with the resoluteness of a man who had suffered hollow yearning
of the stomach and knew how to conquer it.
But he could not escape the keen eyes and kindly generosity of the
fraternity of toilers.
"A topper down on his luck a bit--see his clothes," said the foreman,
and he took tithes from willing men who were eating from pails that
were pinched between their knees; he carried the food to the young
Farr accepted with gratitude, ate with thrifty moderation, and hid
what remained in the pockets of his coat; it would serve for his
He ate that supper after his day's work was done and after he had
laved his face and hands in the overflow from a public fountain in a
Then he hurried to the house of the good woman.
She was busy with her dishes in the kitchen and Rosemarie was on the
knees of a young woman who sat and rocked in one of the sitting-room
Farr entered by the kitchen door and stood there, looking in with some
confusion on the girl and child.
"It is only Zelie Dionne; she is my boarder," the woman informed him.
"She is a good girl and she has the very nice job in the cloth-hall of
the big Haxton mill. She lives with me because I was neighbor of her
good folks in the Tadousac country, so far away from here in our
Canada. Come! I make you acquaint. You shall see. She is a good girl!"
Zelie Dionne rose and acknowledged the introduction with a French
girl's pretty grace. A bit of a flush lighted the dusky pallor of her
cheeks when Farr bent before her. The bow in her hair was cocked with
true Gallic chic and her gown was crisply smart in its simplicity. Her
big, dark eyes were the wonderful feature of her face, and Farr looked
into them and seemed to lose a bit of his cool self-possession; he
faltered in speech, groping for words in the first commonplaces.
"You must talk together. I must work," said the good woman. She
hurried back into her kitchen.
The child ran to Farr and climbed upon his knees.
"You have been good to Rosemarie. I thank you," he said. "I suppose
the good woman has told you how it has happened."
"Yes, when I came at noon." Her tones were peculiarly sweet and
compassionate. A touch of accent gave piquancy to what she said. She
looked at him meaningly. "I have been talking to our little Rosemarie
and she will not cry any more for her good mamma who has gone up to
the green hills because she is sick and must rest. So Rosemarie will
be patient and live here and I will be play-mamma."
"Yes, play-mamma," agreed the child. "Good play-mamma! Two mammas! But
only one papa!" She put up her arms and tucked them about his neck and
snuggled down with a happy sense of complete understanding of his
protection. At last, so it seemed to her, she had recovered the father
she had never known. Poor, little, caged bird, her release from that
lonely prison was dated in her happy consciousness from his appearance
in the doorway, and all things had been well for her after he came--
sunlight, the trees, the blue sky, and tender care, and the
companionship of human beings. Therefore, the rush of a love her
child's comprehension could not analyze had gone out to him.
Farr returned with significance the look Zelie Dionne's dark eyes gave
"I found the note. It made me go a-meddling. It left a legacy to
somebody--and I accepted--without understanding why I did so." He
stroked the child's curls.
"I did not understand at first--when Madame Maillet told me," she
confessed, with a smile. "Old Etienne came at noon to tell her and she
has told it to me. It is very sad--but yet it is comical when I look
at you. But as I look at you I understand better. You have a good
heart. I can see!"
"I am only a strolling stranger--here to-day and there to-morrow,"
protested Farr. "I think the heat must have affected my head. It has
been very warm lately. But when I saw her--" He choked suddenly.
"Oh, it is easy to understand," said the girl, reassuringly. A mist of
tears came across her big eyes, though her mouth did not lose the
wistful smile. "The poor folks help one another--and they understand."
"It wouldn't be right to give her to an orphanage," insisted Farr.
"She has missed too much already. Of course I don't pretend to know
what a little girl needs--but I am willing to be told."
"I will tell you and I will help."
"I think old Etienne and I need you in the partnership--as adviser. I
Then came the old Canadian, his wrinkled face tender with solicitous
interest, and he chuckled when he welcomed the new member of the firm.
"Ah, Mam'selle Zelie she shall help us the very much in what we do not
know," he informed the young man, and continued, while the dark eyes
flashed protest: "I am of the Tadousac country, and she is a good
girl, for I have know her all the years since I trot her on my knee
when she much small as the petite Rosemarie. I can tell you how she
dance down the meadows in the ring-a-rosy play and how she--"
"Phut! Your tongue is as long as your rake and it goes reaching down
into other folks' affairs, old Etienne! What cares this strange
gentleman for what happened in Tadousac? Go use your key instead of
your tongue. Unlock your little door so that Rosemarie may walk on the
cool grass beside the canal."
The old man grinned and started away.
"We're going out where the birds will sing good night to you," Farr
told the child and lifted her off his knees. But at the door she
stopped and turned to Zelie Dionne, who had not risen.
"I will wait here till you come back, Rosemarie."
But the child was coaxingly insistent, holding out her hand.
"I think it is because she has been so lonely all her life," suggested
Farr. "Now that she has found friends she wants them to be with her in
her little pleasures. May I presume enough to add my invitation to
She came and the child walked between them, holding their hands.
"One papa and my play-mamma!" she said, looking up at them in turn.
Mother Maillet came to the kitchen door and waved adieu with her dish-
"Ah, the family!" she cried. "Yesterday it was not--to-day it is. And
grandpere marching off ahead!"
"Old folks and children--they say embarrassing things," remarked Farr
when they were on their way.
"One must be silly along with them to be disturbed by such chatter,"
said Zelie Dionne, tartly.
They followed old Etienne through his little door and walked along the
canal bank where the waters were still and glassy, for the big gates
had been closed and power lay motionless and locked in the sullen
depths till morning. The sunset behind the big mills glowed redly
through the myriad windows.
They walked slowly because little Rosemarie found marvels for childish
eyes at every step, and even the cool carpet of the grass provided
unfailing delight as she set slow and cautious footsteps into its
yielding luxuriance. The old man plodded ahead, muttering and frowning
as he peered down at the flotsam in the motionless waters.
The silence between the two who accompanied the child continued a long
time and Farr found it oppressive.
"I have never been in Canada," he said. "I am sorry you did not care
to have Etienne talk about your home. I would like to know more about
"He was talking about me instead of my home in Tadousac. I am not so
important that I am to be talked about."
"Where is Tadousac?"
Her vivacity returned, her dark eyes glowed. "Ah, m'sieu', you should
go there. It is in the country of the good habitants where the St.
Lawrence and the Saguenay meet. And now, as the sun is setting, the
people are resting under the wide eaves of the little white houses,
looking up where the hills are all so blue, or off across the wide
bay. The white houses are very small and they crowd along the road,
and the farms are narrow, and there is not much money in the homespun
clothes or in the old clock, but the good world is wide about them and
the people are not sad like those who sit yonder."
She pointed across the canal to rows of wooden tenement-houses many
stories in height; on narrow porches, nicked one above another, and on
fire-escapes which were slowly cooling after hours on the forge of the
sun, men, women, and children were packed, seeking a breath of fresh
"They stand at loom and spinner and slasher all day," she said. "They
are too tired to walk afar to the parks. They wait there for good air
to come and it does not come."
"I don't understand why they flock down here from Canada--why they
stay," he declared, bluntly.
"Ah, you look at me when you say that!" she cried, arching her brows.
"You hear me talk about the sunset over the meadows and the hills, and
you wonder why I am not there? Well, listen! There are fourteen sons
and daughters of Onesime Dionne--that's my father--for all the
habitant folks marry young, and the priest smiles and blesses the
household when there are many children. And girls are not of much
account in the house. The sons claim and receive their shares of the
arpents of land when those boys are grown and married. The girl may
marry--yes! But what if the right one does not ask? What if the right
one has a father who says to him that he must obey and marry one the
father has chosen? All kinds of things can happen in the habitant
country, m'sieu'. So, then, the girl is less account in the house. And
the letters come back from the girls who have gone down into the mills
in the States. The pictures come back showing the new gown and the
smart hat--and so!" She shrugged her shoulders and tossed her free
hand. "One more girl for the big mill!"
He stared at her with some curiosity.
"You ask yourself which one of those things happened to me, do you
"Perhaps," he confessed.
"I talk little about myself. I talk about the habitant girls. I am
fortunate. I do not breathe the air where the looms clack. I inspect
in the cloth-hall because I have sharp eyes and nimble fingers."
"But you came here alone--it is strange. I mean, do not the father and
mother and all the family move here, usually?"
She lifted her chin and gazed at him with pride in her mien.
"If you go to Tadousac you shall find that my father owns a large farm
and that one of his grandfathers was a captain with General Montcalm,
and many Dionnes have lived on the land that was given to a brave man.
I came to the States because I wanted to come. My people did not
She clipped the last sentence in a manner that suggested to Farr that
there was no more to be said on that topic. But she went on after a
time in softened tones.
"It is not strange that so many came to the States, sir. The farms of
Beauce, of l'Islet, of the Chaudiere, were so crowded. Years ago, the
old folks used to tell me, the boys began to drive the little white
horses hitched to buckboards across the border in the early summer,
and the boys were strong and willing, and the farmers who laughed at
them and called them Canucks hired them for the hay-fields just the
same. And they slept in the haymows and under the trees and worked
hard and brought back all their money. Then the big mills needed men
and women and children, and the Yankee girls would not work in the
mills any more. You must understand how it was: Ouillette, who had
worked in the hay-field, would hear of the work in the mill, and the
Ouillettes would sell and go to the city. And as soon as they had seen
the lights and the theater and the car which ran with a stick on a
wire, and had earned their first pay and had bought Yankee clothes
they wrote home to their cousins the Pelletiers and the Pelletiers sat
nights till late talking excitedly--and then they sold and came, and
so it has gone on and on--the endless chain, one family pulling on its
neighbor, down the long way from Canada to the States. But it may be
all for the best. I am not wise in such things. But when the sun bakes
and the fever comes and the children die in the tenements, then I wish
the fathers and mothers were back on the little farms and that workers
of some other race than the habitants were chained to the looms in the
big mills. That may be a selfish thought, but my own people are dear
Farr was not in the mood to argue the economic side of that question
with this girl who had so tersely told the story of two generations of
mill-toilers. With that little waif between them, victim of the
industrial Moloch which must roll on even if its wheels crushed the
innocent here and there, he permitted sentiment to sway him. In fact,
for a day and a night he had surrendered to sentiment and had found a
strange sort of intoxication in the experience. His heart was with the
humble folk and pity was in him--pity which was uncalculating and in
which his cynicism was dissolving.
And when the stars were mirrored in the still canal and the grass was
damp with the dew, they walked back to the house of Mother Maillet and
little Rosemarie murmured her bit of a prayer and was tucked in bed.
"I hope that some day I may go to Tadousac," said Farr to the girl,
before he passed out of the good woman's house. "I would like to see
the sunset, for you have praised it."
"Ask for the house of Onesime Dionne, second beyond the big parish
cross. It will be easy to find, and the sunset is very grand from the
porch under the eaves."
Farr went along with the old man and they walked slowly. Their way
took them down narrow streets between the high tenements.
"Yes, you shall find it very grand at Tadousac--and M'sieu' Dionne is
an honest man," declared Etienne. "Now and then in the thirty year I
have been visit up there in Tadousac, and I sit those day and whittle
for the children and then little Zelie trot on my knee with the
others. So I know the story of those place. And all the people up
there don't care if I know, because I listen and am glad to know, and
sometimes I can give advice, for I have live long on the States where
great matters are happening. But Farmer Leroux would not listen to me
when I advise about his good son Jean and Zelie Dionne. Farmer Leroux
is a good man, but he is a hard man when his ugly mad get stir. And
the children up there do what the father tell--because that is what
the cure preach and it is the way of the habitants."
"The old, old story--the Montagues and the Capulets on the banks of
the river of the North."
"I think I know something what you mean, m'sieu', though I don't know
your friend you speak about. But if he say to his son, 'Ba gar, you
don't marry no girl what I don't like her fadder because we have
hosswhip one anodder t'ree or two time when we have fuss over line
fence--or crowd our wagon when we go to market'--why, then that's your
friend. And it start from there and grow into big thing, so that all
the cure can say it don't make no friend of them. So they wait--Jean
and Zelie! Ah yes, they wait!" He put his finger beside his nose and
winked. "They love. They get marry some nice day. But now!" He flirted
his gaunt fingers. "They say nottings. I maself say nottings. But I
see some very queer look in Jean Leroux's eye when he say to me as I
meet him at the gate of his fadder's farm, 'And how carries Zelie
Dionne herself these days?' And though he look high over the tree and
chew the straw and look very careless, ah, I see the big tear in his
eye and hear him choke in his throat."
"It's played out and old-fashioned, this letting old folks manage
young folks that way just to satisfy old grudges," scoffed Farr. "If
they are in love they ought to get married and tell the old folks to
Etienne stopped and gazed quizzically at the young man who thus
expounded the law for lovers.
"I think you have in you none of the understanding of the French
habitants who have live the three generation on one farm so that a
young man, no matter if he love a mam'selle so very much that all the
bread he eat taste ashes in his mouth--ah, he cannot say 'I will
leave--I will go!' For then that young man must turn himself to be
anodder young man--and the habitant does not so change."
"I may be a poor judge," acknowledged Farr. "I have never yet taken
root in the soil of any one place."
"And I think, mebbe, the girl you do not understand! Is it to stay in
the home and hear every day about you love the pig of a Leroux, bah?
No, no, m'sieu'! That's too proud, is Zelie Dionne. And so is Zelie
Dionne too proud to take a son from a home that do not want her. So
"It's a tough old world, Uncle Etienne," said Farr. "Why, even I, lord
of my own affairs as I am, don't know where I'm going to sleep
to-night. Do you have a boarding-place?"
"I have my little room on the block up there--my room and my place at
the big table. It is not grand. But there is place for you--and
anodder little room. If you like you shall come and I will speak good
"All right, Etienne! Take me along and speak good for me."
It was another such place as Block Ten. It was a crowded and stuffy
warren, and the basement kitchen advertised itself with stale odors in
all the corridors. But Farr was glad to stretch himself upon the
narrow bed. He owned up to himself that he was a very weary bird of
passage and confessed to his own heart, just as frankly, that he was a
captive in the frail grasp of a little girl--and he did not try to
POISON FOR THE POOR
It proved to be an amicable and satisfactory partnership between
Etienne Provancher and Walker Farr and dark-eyed Zelie Dionne.
When the days were pleasant the old man kept the little girl with him
out of doors on the canal bank. She did not trouble him by running
about. Her long days of confinement in the attic room had accustomed
her to remain quietly in one place. She sat contentedly in the shade
and watched the bugs in the grass and the birds in the tree above her.
In the cool of the evening she trudged along the canal bank with Farr
and the play-mamma until eyes grew heavy and little feet stumbled with
weariness and it was time for bed. Rainy evenings they studied the
alphabet or he read to her from picture-books in blazing colors, and
after a time she remembered all the stories and made believe read them
He worked in the trench and looked forward impatiently to Saturday
nights when the clerk came along with the pay-envelopes; there were so
many things in the stores that would delight the heart of a little
girl who had never had any toys except a rag doll and a broken flower-
basket. Then there were pretty dresses to buy. The taste of Zelie
Dionne took charge of that shopping. When he bought the first one--one
that was white and fluffy--and Rosemarie walked out with him she
displayed such feminine pride in fine feathers that he looked forward
to future Saturdays nights and new dresses with anticipatory gusto. If
one had questioned him he could have told weeks ahead just what his
plans of purchases were, for he canvassed all the possibilities with
the play-mamma who knew so well how to get value for a dollar--who
knew the places to buy and whose needle helped to much.
It was a wicked summer for those who were doomed to the mills and the
tenement-houses. The heat puffed and throbbed over the lashing
machinery. The slashers seemed to spit caloric. The spinning-frames
tossed it off their spindles. The looms fairly wove it into the warp.
The thick, sweet, greasy air seemed to distil cotton-oil upon the
faces of the workers. The nights proved to be no better than the days.
The stuffy tenements gulped in the hot air of midday and held it as a
person holds his breath. All the folks came out upon the little
platforms that were ranged, story after story, above each other. They
gasped for air in the narrow spaces between the high buildings. The
stars above those narrow spaces did not sparkle and suggest coolness;
they seemed to float above the hot earth like red cinders.
Every day the undertakers' wagons came "boombling" down the narrow
canyons of streets between the "Blocks," for the people were dying.
The little white hearse was a more frequent visitor than the rusty
black one; the ranks of the children were paying the greatest toll to
"But we shall not worry about our Rosemarie," old Etienne told Farr.
"Under the shade on the green grass she shall stay where outdoors can
paint her cheeks the very fine color."
But when the old man called for her at the good woman's house one
morning something else than the sun had painted the little girl's
cheeks--they were flushed with fever. He told the good woman to send
straight for the doctor, and went to his work much disturbed.
Later in the day the yard overseer, passing the rack, saw that the man
was working with furious energy. He was even reaching out his rake to
capture floating stuff before it touched the bars.
"This seems to be your busy day, Pickaroon," suggested the overseer.
"I make believe this old rack to be a good friend of mine and that the
float stuff be sickness come at him--so I work hard to keep it away."
The overseer went along about his business, commenting mentally on a
When the big mill bells clanged the noon hour Etienne hurried to the
good woman's house. The city physician had been there and had left
medicine--two tumblers of it. He had hurried in and had hurried away
and had been curt and brusk and had not told her what was the trouble,
so the woman reported. But the child had been sleeping.
She was drowsy all that evening while Farr held her in his arms and
Etienne sat near by with Zelie Dionne, ministering solicitously.
"Her cheeks are not so hot," said the young man many times. He talked
hopefully to reassure himself as well as the others, for he had been
dreadfully frightened when he had come from his work. Fright had
trodden close on the heels of much joy--for the superintendent of the
Consolidated had taken him out of the hot trench that day and had
appointed him boss of twoscore Italian diggers, doubling his pay.
"I have been watching you," the superintendent told him. "You're built
to boss men. What kind of a bump was it that ever slammed you down
The answer the superintendent got was a smile which put further
questions out of his mind.
"No, her cheeks are not so hot," affirmed Farr when he laid her in her
bed that night. "She will come along all right."
But at the end of a week languor still weighed on the child. There
were circles under her eyes and her cheeks were wan, and she did not
clap her hands with the old-time glee when he brought her new toys;
the playthings lay beside her on the bed and invited her touch--
staring eyes of dolls, beady eyes of toy dogs--without avail.
"It is the queer way of being sick," lamented the old man. "The doctor
mebbe not know, because he very gruff and do not say. I think I know
what may cure her--it has been done many time.
"Away up in the Canada country there is the shrine of the good Sainte
Anne de Beaupre. There she stand in the middle of the big church and
she hold her little grandson in her arm--the little boy Jesus. So she
feel very tender toward poor, sick childs. Ah, I have seen her many
time--I have seen childs healed there and made so very smart--all
cure. She loves little childs. /Oui/. All about her feet are short,
small crutch where she has cure childs. The piece of her wrist-bone is
there in the sacristy--it look like a wee scrap of some gray moss
under the glass. And it cure when the good priest say the word for
her. I know the way to the shrine of La Bonne Sainte Anne--I will go
with the little Rosemarie and she shall sing and dance after that."
For a moment the cynical smile of the skeptic etched itself at the
corners of Farr's mouth--the flash of the nature the young man had
hidden during recent weeks.
He turned to Zelie Dionne and found her regarding him with grave eyes.
"It is as M'sieu' Etienne says," she assured the young man. "La Bonne
Sainte listens very tenderly when the children come to her. She is
good to all, but her spirit leans over the poor little children and
"You have been there?"
"Many times, sir. It is not only the sick body that the good Sainte
Anne heals--she comforts anybody who is in much sorrow--she tells the
right way to go. There are many roads to take in this life--and if any
one goes to her with prayer and humble soul she will guide. Ah, it is
There was earnestness in her features and conviction in her tones and
it was plain that Zelie Dionne was speaking out of the depths of her
heart, and Farr remembered what old Etienne had said about the son of
"Yes, she will lead to the right way and make all well in the end,"
asserted the girl. "And, most of all, she is kind and gentle to the
Between her and the wistful old man Farr divided tolerant and kindly
"I believe in more things than I used to," he said. "I'm willing to
admit in these days that things I do not understand may have truth in
them. The doctor is not making her well. But it is a long way to that
"It is a long way, so! But I am very scare for her as she lie here all
day. I will carry her very tender--on the railway car--on the big
boat. The good Sainte Anne is everywhere, too. She will help."
"If faith can move mountains it ought to heal easily one poor, little
toddlekins," muttered Farr.
A new doctor came the next day, a breezy young man, a talkative and
frank young man, the assistant of the over-worked city physician,
whose municipal duties had obliged him to take on helpers.
"I shall ask him, hey--about the shrine?" whispered Etienne to Farr
while the doctor was examining the child.
"Yes; he'll be more patient with you than with me."
"And do you think that pretty soon she can go on the railway if I be
very careful, good docteur?" asked the old man, wistfully,
"On the pilgrimage to the shrine of the good Sainte Anne in the Canada
"Don't you realize what this case is?" demanded the young physician.
"He have not say--he hurry in, he hurry out."
"You the grandfather?"
The doctor turned on Farr.
"Then I can talk right out to you two. This is a case of typhoid that
will be fatal in twenty-four hours. There's no use lying about it."
Old Etienne's mouth and eyes seemed to sink deep into his wrinkles, as
if Time had forced him suddenly to swallow an extra score of years. He
looked at Farr's blank and whitening face, and as quickly looked away.
"Break it to her grandmother," advised the doctor, nodding toward the
kitchen where the good woman was at work.
"But you don't know what you say," stammered the old man.
"It so happens that I do, my man. I've been handling too many of these
cases to be fooled. Why, I've got more than fifty cases of typhoid in
this city--just myself."
"But she has had sun and fresh air--on the canal bank where I tend the
"Sun and fresh air can't cure victims of the poison that is being
pumped through the water-mains of this city," snapped the doctor.
The doctor turned and stared at Farr, for the husky croak of his
exclamation had not sounded human.
"That's what I said. You can't have lived very long in this state not
to know what we're up against on the water proposition."
"I haven't lived here long. But about the child--it can't--"
"Why, this Consolidated Company is owned by Colonel Dodd and his
politicians--and they own all the city and town water systems in this
state," said the doctor, no longer interested in his patient--
exploding with the violence of imprudent youth. "They boss mayors, the
aldermen, the politicians--boss the governor himself. That's because
they've got the machine and the money. They've got a lot of money,
because they won't wake up and spend it to lay lines far enough to tap
the lakes in the hills. They tap these rotten rivers at our back
doors, pump poison through the mains, sell it at prices that yield
them twenty percent dividends. They say the water is all right--and
back it up with analyses. I say it's all wrong."
"And you damnation doctors are letting this go on--letting folks drink
poison--telling us when it's too late!" shouted Farr, purple replacing
the white in his face.
"Well, the folks up-town who have got wisdom and the money buy spring-
water and mineral water. All the doctors don't agree that the river is
responsible for the typhoid. With the governor and the legislature
bossed by Dodd and his associates, and the city governments tied up by
them, and the banks taking orders from the syndicate in case any town
or an independent company tries to borrow money and install a water
system, and the mill corporations and the tenement-block owners all in
cahoots, a crusader who expected to get anywhere in politics or make
money out of his business would stand a fine and dandy show, now
wouldn't he? And the most of us in this world are trying to get ahead
either in business or in politics." He snapped the catch of his little
black case. "Forget what I have said, you two. I hold my job through
politics. I'm apt to talk too much when I get started. But don't drink
city water, no matter if Colonel Dodd's analyses do give it a clean
Farr caught him at the door, restraining him with a heavy hand.
"You stay here, don't you let that baby die. By the gods, she sha'n't
"My staying will do no good, my friend. The little girl is death-
struck already. It's quick work with the children. Sometimes we can
bring the grown folks through. Get another doctor, if you feel like
it, but I've got to keep moving--there are lots of folks waiting for
me in these tenements."
He shook off Farr's hand and hurried away.
Old Etienne stood by the bedside, gazing down on the little sufferer,
closing and unclosing his shriveled hands as if he were grasping at
straws of hope, dragging the depths of his soul for reassurance even
as he dragged his rake in the black waters of the canal.
"The whippersnapper lied about her. Because she's a baby he won't
bother," stormed Farr. "I'll ransack this town for doctors--I'll find
one who knows his business." He tiptoed to the bed and laid tender
palm against the child's cheek. "I say her face isn't as hot as it
was," he persisted. "Where can I find a doctor with gray whiskers,
Etienne? That young fool doesn't know."
"There are many wise old docteurs in the long street named Western
Boulevard--they live in the big houses--but they don't come to the
"One of them will come this time even if I have to lug him on my
He began to search for his hat, not remembering where he had tossed it
in the haste and eagerness of his arrival at the good woman's house.
He did not find it readily and he rushed out bareheaded.
"The sun and the air they do no good! It is the poison water--and the
poor folks of the tenements they do not know!" muttered the old man.
"That is what he say?" He went to the kitchen sink and unscrewed the
faucet. He sniffed and made a wry face, then he ran his thin finger
into the valve-chamber. He hooked and brought forth stringy slime,
held it near his nose, and groaned. "The poor folks do not know. They
who ask for the votes of the slashers, the weavers, the beamers--the
men of the mills--they who ask votes do not want the poor folks to
know, because the votes would not be given to them who sell poison in
the water," he told the astonished good woman who had watched his act.
"I am careful about my kitchen--I am neat--I wash everything,
Etienne," she assured him, sniffing at the slime in the sink, overcome
by confusion, her housewife's reputation at stake.
"Yes, but you cannot wash the souls of them dam' scoundrels who send
that water through the pipes to the poor people who can buy no other,"
he raged. "This is not your blame--you did not know." He pointed his
finger, quivering, dripping with the slime, at the child on the bed.
"They have murder her! With this!" He slatted his finger with the
gesture of one who throws off a noisome serpent.
"But I drink the water--it hasn't made me sick," she protested.
"You--me--odders that are all dry up--tough old fools--we ought to die
and we don't," he raged, stamping back and forth across the kitchen,
waving his arms. "We have been poison so much we do not notice. But
the poor little childs--the young folks that die--die in these
tenements all the time--and we see the white ribbons hanging from the
doors, so many place every day--the poor young folks with life ahead
and much to live for even down here--they are poison and they do not
know! Oh, /le bon Dieu/! Boil dem dam' devil in hell in the water they
have sell to the poor!" He stopped, shocked by these words he heard
coming from his mouth, and crossed himself contritely. "But I look at
her--I hear what the docteur say--I talk and I cannot help!" He
staggered into the room where the child lay, and sat down in a chair
and held his face in his hands.
It was an aged and somewhat unctuous physician whom Farr brought. The
doctor pursed his lips and puckered his eyebrows above the little
wraith who minded him not at all, lying with eyes half closed,
plucking with finger and thumb at the bedclothing.
"With a bit stronger constitution--if she were a little older-- Take
the case of an adult--"
"Say it short," growled Farr, clenching his fists as if he wanted to
beat indulgence for the child out of the hide of the world. "I'm
paying you for her life."
"I have nothing to sell you in this case--therefore there can be no
pay." He leaned over the bed and smoothed the moist, tangled hair away
from the child's brow. "I can only /give/ you something, my friend. I
give you all my sympathy. This baby is departing on a long journey,
and I'm Christian enough to believe that the way will be made very
smooth for the feet of little children. That's the faith of an old
There were both earnestness and tenderness in his tones--the smugness
of the physician was gone. He shook Farr's hand and went out of the
room, treading softly.
And the next day Rosemarie's tiny fingers stopped their flutterings
and she went away--somewhere!
THE LORDS OF THE CITY
Walker Farr would not allow the tiny body of Rosemarie to be carried
away in the white hearse. In his grief he had not been able as yet to
dissociate the identity of the child from the poor little tenement in
which her spirit had dwelt for the few barren years of her life; it
seemed to him that she would be very lonely in the white hearse. He
rode to the cemetery, holding the tiny casket across his knees. There
was only the one carriage--it was sufficient to carry the friends of
little Rosemarie: one Walker Farr and old Etienne and play-mamma Zelie
The rack-tender sat opposite Farr and nursed a bundle on his knees. He
had wrapped it surreptitiously.
The two men sent Zelie Dionne back to the city in the carriage. But
they waited beside the grave until the sexton had finished his work;
Farr felt an uncontrollable impulse to wait till all was ended, as he
had always waited every night till the little girl was sound asleep
and tucked up in bed in the good woman's house. He sat crouched on the
edge of a turfed grave, elbows on his knees, his hands clutched into
his shock of hair.
After the sexton had departed, tools on his shoulder, Etienne
unwrapped the bundle. He began to arrange the child's toys on the
"It is as the others do--the fathers and mothers of our faith in the
tenement-houses," he explained, wistfully, to the young man. He
pointed to other graves in the vicinity, short and narrow graves. Toys
were spread on them, too. They were the poor treasures of dead
children. The toys had been left there in the vague, helpless yearning
of parents who strove to reach their human consolation beyond the
Farr gazed on these pitiful memorials of the children--from those
graves to the new mound which covered Rosemarie. The ache that had
been in his throat for so many hours grew more excruciating. He
realized that a father in those circumstances would weep, but he did
not feel like shedding tears, and he was ashamed of himself for what
seemed lack of something within himself. What he felt then, what he
had felt ever since that young doctor had passed sentence of death was
surly, bitter rancor--the anger of a man who is robbed.
"Look all around at the graves," said Etienne, tears in his wrinkles.
"I know something better since I take off that faucet. Not all the
martyr die when the lion eat 'em up and the fire burn 'em; there be
some martyr these day, too. And sometimes, mebbe, some man what have
the power will come here and see all these poor little grave and then
he go and choke the lion what eat all these poor childs."
"What kind of man would that be?" pondered Farr. At that moment he had
little faith--much less faith than usual--in the decency of any human
being; and for many years his faith in humankind had been expressed by
a contemptuous snap of his finger.
To sit there longer and look at that fresh earth with the pathetic
toys sprinkled over it was a torment his soul could not endure.
He arose and hurried away and Etienne followed him. They trudged in
silence back to the city--Etienne to take his rake and pike-pole from
the hands of the man who had substituted at the rack, and Farr to
resume surly domination over his sweating Italians.
"The martyrs," Etienne had called them. The notion of that stuck in
Farr's brooding thoughts.
He tried to look deeper into his own heart than he had ever looked
before and explain to himself just what motive had attracted him to
the child in the first place; he had never been especially interested
in children before. He found himself muttering, "And a little child
shall lead them," without understanding just why this child had led
him so strangely.
If one Walker Farr had understood it at all and had been able to
explain it to himself, he would have penetrated the mystery of the
dynamics of love--the great gift to humanity that God has not seen fit
to expose in its inner workings. Therefore, Farr strode here and there
in the hot sun, spurred his diggers with crisp oaths, and on the heels
of his profanity muttered to himself, "And a little child shall lead
The tile boss of the Consolidated, whose crew was following the
trench-diggers, accosted Farr, after several inspections of his
"Don't you think you need to be cheered up a little?"
Farr scowled at him.
"I don't know what has disagreed with you, but you're certainly in a
bad way," pursued the boss. "Go up with the crowd to City Hall
to-night and hear 'em open up the police scandals. Plenty of free fun
for the heavy-hearted! There are about half a dozen fat cops in this
city who'll be fried to a crisp on both sides, and the sound of the
sizzling will be pleasant in the ears."
"I'm not interested."
"You will be, if you tend out. The hearing is before the mayor and the
whole city government. Nothing very hefty in the way of charges--only
loafing in beer-coolers during the heat of the day, spending their
time chasing the labor-agitators out of the parks, and letting
burglars keep house all summer in the mansions up-town while the
owners are away at the seashore. It's all more or less of a joke."
"Why don't the mayor and aldermen of this city attend to duty instead
"Oh, this city is run so smooth that there's nothing to do in the
summer except stage a little farce comedy at City Hall."
"Let me tell you that there's something to be investigated in this
city that isn't a joke," raged Farr, his bitter ponderings blossoming
"Murder going on every day in this damnable town."
"Well, I guess if there was any murder going on which we didn't hear
about, even from our fat cops, it would be investigated, all right.
What's the matter with you?"
"I'm glad now you told me about that hearing to-night," stated Farr,
ignoring the other's curiosity. "I'm glad I know when and where to
locate the mayor and his men in session. I'll find out if they propose
to waste the people's time hearing funny stories about policemen and
are going to let murder go on while they are laughing."
He strode away, cursing at his workmen as he tramped along the side of
Farr knocked at the garret room of Etienne early that evening.
"I want you to come with me," he commanded.
The old man obeyed without questions. As they walked along the streets
Farr did not volunteer information. He was grimly sure that if Etienne
should receive an inkling of what was expected of him the old man
would not stop running until he had crossed the Canadian border.
They were ten minutes worming their way through the press that packed
the corridors of City Hall. Groups were bulked at the doors admitting
to the aldermen's room--men thatched against each other and
overlapping like bees in a swarm at the door of a hive.
But the young man was tall and his shoulders were broad and he kept
uttering the magic words, "Room for witnesses!" In his own
consciousness he knew that what he should attempt to testify to that
night was not on the slate, but the crowd accepted him as one of those
from whom they anticipated entertainment, and allowed him to pass--and
Etienne, holding to his young friend's coat, followed close and made
his way before the throng could close in again.
The hearing began and progressed, and there was much laughter when the
delinquencies of certain fat policemen were related--it was a free-
and-easy affair--a sort of midsummer fantasy in municipal politics--a
squabble between ward bosses who had become jealous in matters of the
distribution of police patronage.
Walker Farr, standing against the wall of the audience-chamber, did
not laugh. He was busy with thoughts of his own. This bland fooling in
municipal matters while stealthy death, protected by city franchise,
dripped, so he believed, from every faucet in the tenement-house
district, stirred his bitter indignation. Etienne Provancher stood
beside him, and the old man did not laugh, either, because he did not
understand in the least what those men were talking about. And he was
very uneasy, wistfully awe-stricken, hardly daring to touch with his
hands the polished oak at his back. He was in the great /hotel de
ville/ whose exterior he had stared at many times without presuming or
daring to enter the broad portals.
Then there came a recess while the mayor examined papers at his desk.
The aldermen leaned back in their chairs with lighted cigars.
"Etienne," whispered the young man, deep resolve thrilling him, his
eyes blazing into the wondering gaze of the old man, "those men who
sit behind those desks can do something to save the children and the
poor folks in the tenements. But they must wake up, these men here
must. You and I must try to wake them up!"
Etienne's eyes opened wide. He did not in the least comprehend how he
"I know you will not desert a friend, Etienne. I know you'll stand
behind me. I know you love the children. So be a brave man now!"
The next moment Etienne was so frightened that he feared he would drop
where he stood, because the young man raised his voice so that it rang
through the great hall and all eyes were turned that way.
"Your honor the mayor, and gentlemen; I am a stranger here. But I
humbly ask permission to address you."
"If you are a witness in the police matter you will be called on in
your turn after the recess," stated the mayor.
"I am not a witness in the police matter. I am here on other
"There is no other business before this meeting."
"But there should be, sir, for the business I have come on is a
dreadful matter. It is a matter of life and death."
A hush fell on those in the chamber, and the mayor and his aldermen
leaned forward, staring apprehensively. They had been warned that
there were dangerous labor-agitators in the city. Many meetings had
been broken up by the police at the request of Colonel Dodd, president
of the Consolidated Water Company, and other employers had backed him.
This tall young man had startled them with his sudden outbreak.
"It is a matter, gentlemen, which concerns every man, woman, and child
in this city--vitally concerns them every hour of the day--every hour
they are awake. You say you have no other business now except this
silly police investigation. For God's sake, wake up and attend to real
business--save the people's lives. Here you are in session and here
are the people to listen."
"State your complaint. Be very brief," commanded the mayor.
But Walker Farr, it was plain, possessed craft as well as courage; he
realized that curiosity, properly tickled, will make men more patient
"First, I want to call a witness. I am not known to this city. But I
have here a man whom many of you know, I'm sure, for he has stood out
in plain view of a street where many pass, and has worked there for
thirty years. It is Etienne Provancher."
Several men laughed when Farr pushed the old man into view. There was
a murmured chorus of "Pickaroon."
"It's for the children--the poor folks--for the memory of our little
girl," hissed Farr in the old man's ear. "Will you go to your bed
to-night--the night of the day we buried her--knowing that--you are a
coward? These are only men. We must tell them so that they will know.
Speak! Tell them!" He set his firm clutch around the trembling old
Frenchman's arm and held him out where all could see.
"I do not know how to talk here--to so much man--to the lords of the
city," stammered the miserable old man, licking his parched lips,
scared until all was black before his eyes.
The hush was profound. Men curved their palms at their ears, wondering
what old Pickaroon could have to say in City Hall.
"Remember what we have left up there--in the cemetery--the poor
children in their graves," muttered Farr, again bending close to
Then, thus reminded, thus spurred, all his Gallic emotion bursting
into flame in him suddenly, the old man felt the desperate resolution
that often animates the humble and ignorant in great emergencies. The
little ones had been martyrs--why not he? That thought flashed through
the tumult in his brain.
"Yes, since you all hark for me to speak I will speak," he declared.
"Messieurs, I am a poor man. Not wise. It is very hard for me to talk
to you. But I have been to-day up where the little children are bury--
so many of them, with their playthings on the graves. I went to take
there anodder little child, poor baby girl. I leave her there with the
odder ones--so very lonesome all of them--their modders cannot sing
them to sleep any more."
"This is irregular," cried the mayor. "What do you want?"
"Nottings for maself," cried Etienne, passionately shrill in his tone
now. "But I have to ask you, masters of this city, how much longer
shall you send poison down the water-pipes to the poor folks and the
children in the tenement blocks? It is poison that has kill our little
Rosemarie--and all her life ahead! The doctor say so--and he say I
cannot understand about the rich man, why he do it. But I understand
that the childs are dying. I say you shall not sent that water--if you
do send it I will bring here the fadders who have lost their babies
and the modders of the babies." His lips curled back in his excitement
and froth flecked his mouth. "Sacred name of God! We shall tear that
poison-factory up from the ground with our bare hands!"
"Officer, put that man out of the room," ordered the mayor.
"Won't you listen to us?" shouted Farr. "You are the chief magistrate
of this city. You and these aldermen are the guardians of the people.
Are you going to sit there in those cushioned chairs and let a crowd
of rich assassins murder the poor people?"
Men hissed that speech.
The mayor rapped his gavel furiously.
"This is no matter to be brought up here at this time. You're
slandering honorable men, sir! We have other business."
"Can there be any other business as important as this?"
"Put both of these men out, officer."
"Are you and these aldermen owned by the water syndicate, as report
says you are?" cried Farr. "Look here, you men, men in this room and
at the door! This is your City Hall--these aldermen are elected by
your votes. Aren't you going to demand that the people be heard in
this matter? Don't you know that typhoid fever is killing off the
children in this city--and that poison water is the cause of it?"
"It's rotten stuff to drink--we all know that," cried a voice. "But
there'll have to be a change in politics in this state before they'll
give us anything else."
Two policemen elbowed their rough way to Farr and Etienne.
"The big chap is right--it's about time to have this water question
opened up, Mr. Mayor," called another voice.
"Open it up in a legal and proper way, then," snapped the mayor. "Go
to the law."
"That's it--go to the law--go to the law," jeered another. "And we'll
all be dead and the lawyers will have all our money before the thing
There were more hisses.
But an outburst of indorsing voices indicated that many men in that
chamber understood more or less of the political management behind the
Consolidated Water Company.
"If a thing is wrong, change it. What better law do you need than
that?" asked Farr, disregarding an officer's thumb that jerked
"When you know a little more law you won't be ignoramus enough to come
into a public hearing and try to break it up. You'd better go and
study law," said the indignant mayor. He pounded his gavel to indicate
that the recess was over.
"I'll take your advice," replied Farr, towering over the policeman and
vibrating his finger at his Honor. "If you hadn't found law so handy
in your own case you wouldn't forget yourself in your excitement and
recommend it to others. If we've got to fight the devil we'd better
use his weapons."
Men shouted approval all around him.
"Clear the room," ordered the mayor. "Everybody out!"
"Keep your hands off," Farr advised the officer nearest him. "I'll go
without any help. I have found out that I'm only wasting my time in
In the corridor men pressed around him. Some of them insisted on
shaking his hand. Others shouted commendation. Still others exhibited
only frank curiosity in the stalwart stranger. And others were
"By gad! If you wanted to start something you took the right way to do
it," affirmed one of the throng.
"You showed good courage," declared an elderly man with an earnest
face. "Some of the rest of us have tried to do something in the past.
But those who didn't have much power were either kept out or kicked
out of any office in city government or the legislature--and those who
did amount to something were gobbled up by the machine. The machine
can pay. Working for the people isn't very profitable. So I'm afraid
you won't get very far."
"You needn't worry about that chap not getting along all right,"
remarked one of the group--but his indorsement was ironical. "He's a
construction boss for the Consolidated, and he went into that hearing
to start some kind of a back-fire. Shrewd operators--the Consolidated
The men about Farr pulled away from him and there was considerable
malicious laughter in the crowd.
"So we see the game, even if we don't catch on to the meaning of it
just now," said the observant one.
Farr squared his shoulders. They stared at him with fresh interest and
a bit of additional respect. They saw in him something more than a
mere popular agitator--a disturber of a municipal hearing; he must be
a trusted agent of the great political machine, executing a secret
"You're right--I have been working for the Consolidated," he admitted
in tones that all could hear.
"Move on! Get outdoors! Clear this corridor--all of you," shouted a
captain of police who had come hurrying up from down-stairs and had
taken command of the situation.
The crowd began to surge on, following Farr.
"I went to work digging in their trenches because I struck this town
on my uppers and needed the money--needed it quick. I was promoted to
be a boss. But I want to tell you now, gentlemen, that I do not work
for the Consolidated."
"I reckon you're right," said somebody. "I just overheard a man
telephoning to the superintendent about you--and if I'm any judge of a
conversation you are /not/ working for the Consolidated. Not any
"I'm sorry you're going to leave the city," lamented the elderly man.
"We need chaps like you."
"I'm not going to leave the city."
"You might just as well," counseled one of the bystanders, "after what
you said in that hearing. If you get a job in this city after this
you'll be a good one!"
When they were outside City Hall, Farr waited for a moment on the
steps. Etienne, still trembling after that most terrible experience of
his placid life, pressed close at the young man's side.
"Will all you gentlemen please take a good look at me so that you'll
know me when you see me again?" invited the ex-boss for the
They stared at him. His face was well lighted by the arc-light under
the arch of the door.
"I am not a labor-leader, nor a walking delegate, nor a politician,
nor an anarchist. You men go home and unscrew the faucets in your
kitchens, take a good sniff, and pull the slime out of the valve. Then
remember that the mayor and aldermen of this city wouldn't listen to
me to-night in the Hall that the tax-payer's money built. Also
remember that a little later they will listen to me. Gentlemen, my