Part 3 out of 7
name is Walker Farr. I'm going to stay here in this city. Good night."
AT THE FOOT OF THE THRONE
As usual at nine-thirty in the afternoon, the big tower clock on the
First National Bank building in the city of Marion pointed the finger
of its minute-hand straight downward.
As usual, at this hour, as he had done for many years, Colonel Symonds
Dodd eased himself down from the equipage that brought him to his
office. This day the vehicle was his limousine car.
In view of the fact that Colonel Dodd owned the First National block
the big clock seemed to point its finger at him with the bland pride
of a flunky in a master. It seemed to say, "Behold! The great man is
Colonel Dodd was never embarrassed when fingers were pointed at him
wherever he went. If a man is lord of finance and politics in his
state he expects to be pointed out.
When he stepped from his car he carried in his arms, with great
tenderness, a long parcel which was carefully wrapped in tissue-paper.
He always carried a similar parcel when he came to his office. Each
morning the gardener of the Dodd estate laid choice flowers on the
seat of that vehicle which had been chosen to convey the master to the
Colonel Dodd coddled the long parcel with the care a nurse would have
bestowed on an infant--but he kicked his fat leg clumsily at an urchin
who got in his way on the sidewalk. A college professor of Marion
happened to be passing at the moment and saw the act and knew what the
colonel was carrying in his arms. The professor made a mental note of
fresh material for his lecture on "The Psychological Phenomena of the
Bizarre in the Emotions." The professor had just met a woman wheeling
a cat out in a baby-carriage.
The doctor had advised exercise for the colonel--a small amount. The
colonel toilsomely climbed the one flight of stairs to his office.
That was his daily quota of exercise.
A little man with a beak of a nose was waiting in the corridor and
hastened to unlock a door marked "Private," and the colonel went in,
and the little man locked the door and tiptoed down the corridor to
the general offices.
Before he removed his hat Colonel Dodd carefully stripped the tissue-
paper from the damp flowers. There were two huge bouquets. He set
these into vases of ornate bronze, one on each end of his desk. He
patted and stroked the flowers until they appeared to best advantage.
He stood back and bestowed affectionate regard on them. No human being
had ever reported the receipt of such a look from Colonel Symonds
Dodd. It was rather astonishing to find softness in him in respect to
flowers. He seemed as hard as a block of wood. He had a squat, square
body and his legs seemed to be set on the corners of that body. His
square face was smooth except for a wisp of whisker, minute as a
water-color brush, jutting from under his pendulous lower lip.
He hung up his hat and stood for a moment before a massive mirror. The
report in Marion was that he stood before that mirror and made up his
expression to suit the character of a day's business.
Then he sat down at his desk and stuck a pudgy finger on one button of
a battery of buttons.
A girl entered with a promptitude which showed that she had been
waiting for the summons.
He did not look up at her. His gaze was on one of the bouquets.
She brought a portfolio and packets of letters all neatly docketed.
His salutation was merely, "Miss Kilgour." Colonel Dodd did not deal
in many "Good-mornings." It was also reported in Marion and the state
that his stock of urbanity was so small he was compelled to expend it
very thriftily. He certainly did not waste any of it on his office
help. He might have afforded at least one glance at the girl, for she
was extremely pretty. Still another report in Marion was to the effect
that he had selected Kate Kilgour as his secretary as the final
artistic touch to the beauty of his private office in order that he
might have a perfect ensemble. She did seem, so far as his interest in
her went, to be only a part of that ensemble which he occasionally
swept carelessly with his gaze--he reserved all his intimate
admiration for the bouquets.
She laid his "Strictly Personal" letters on his fresh blotter.
She sat down and began to read the business letters aloud, not waiting
for his orders to begin. It was her daily routine, business transacted
as Colonel Dodd wished it to be transacted--crisply, promptly,
He dictated replies, usually laconic, even curt, as soon as she had
finished each letter. His eyes were on the flowers as he talked.
When the letters were finished she retired with her portfolio and her
notes, the thick carpet muffling the sound of her withdrawal.
After he had slit the envelopes of his personal correspondence and had
read the contents the colonel pushed another button. The little man
who had been waiting in the corridor slipped edgewise in at the door.
He was thin and elderly and his knob of a head, set well down on his
pinched shoulders, had peering eyes on each side of that beak of a
nose. When he walked across the room his long arms were behind him
under his coat-tails and held them extended, and he bore some
resemblance to a bird. In fact, one did not require much imagination
to note resemblance to a bird in Peter Briggs--many folks likened him
to a woodpecker--for he flitted to and fro in Colonel Dodd's anteroom,
among those awaiting audience, tapping here and rapping there with the
metaphorical beak of questions, starting up the moths and grubs of
business which men who came and waited hid under the bark of their
"Seventeen, Colonel Dodd. Five for real business; twelve of them are
"Chief Engineer Snell of the Consolidated, Dr. Dohl of the State Board
of Health, the three promoters of the Danburg Village Water system."
"Send in Snell."
Engineer Snell did not sit in the presence of his president, nor did
the president ask him to sit.
"Briggs tells me the Danburg men are here."
"They're waiting out there, Colonel Dodd."
"I don't think so--just yet. They look too mad. I gave 'em the harpoon
in good shape, as is usual, but I didn't expect they'd run here so
soon. Thought they would flop a little longer."
"They got their poke from Stone & Adams yesterday afternoon, did
"Yes, Colonel. My report to Stone & Adams showed that the Danburg plan
of levels is faulty, that their unions are not up to contract, that
their station and pumps are inefficient for the demands. So Stone &
Adams had to tell 'em that their bonds were turned down."
"Do you know whether they have tried another banking-house yet?"
"I don't believe they have had time, Colonel."
"But such fellows always do try. Their banging in here on me so
quickly looks a little irregular. In business, you know, Snell, if you
tie a tin can to a dog and he runs and ki-yi's, that's perfectly
natural and you can sit back and wait for nature to take its course.
If the dog doesn't run, but sits down and gnaws the string in two--
then look out for the dog."
"I must admit they're coming here sudden after their jolt. They look
mad. But I figure they must have quit. The jolt was a hard one, for
Stone & Adams had been leading 'em on--according to orders."
The colonel stared at a bouquet.
"Have you got your other report--the side report--in shape for me to
get a hasty idea? If they have come here with a proposition--want to
quit and cover themselves, I need information right now."
Engineer Snell laid papers on the desk. He proceeded to explain.
"If you don't feel you have time to go over it--don't want to keep the
Danburg crowd waiting--I can tell you that the plant is pretty nearly
all right. So much all right that you can afford to slip 'em a couple
of thousand apiece on top of what they have already spent. I don't
suppose you want 'em to holler too loud. I can tell you that Davis,
Erskine, and Owen--those men out there--are cleaned out. They have put
in all their ready money. They were depending on Stone & Adams for the
first instalment from the bonds, so as to take up some thirty-day
notes and pay bills due on material."
Colonel Dodd meditated, pulling on his wisp of whisker.
"It's one thing to encourage enterprise in this state--it's another
thing to be everlastingly paying rake-offs to local promoters who grab
a franchise when we're not looking and then hold us up. I don't want
to hurt the Danburg men. But my stockholders expect certain things of
me and it's about time men in this state understand that we propose to
control the water question. Snell, you go and talk to those Danburg
men like a father to children. Send them in here smoothed down and
we'll do the right thing by them."
He signaled for Briggs and told him to admit Dr. Dohl.
The doctor, chairman of the State Board of Health, was a chubby man
with a tow-colored, fan-shaped beard. He sat down and sprung his eye-
glasses on his bulgy nose and drew out a package of manuscript.
"Colonel, I have felt it my duty to write a special chapter on the
typhoid situation in this state for the report of the State Board of
"Very well, Doctor." The colonel was curt and his tone admitted
nothing of his sentiments.
"DO you care to listen to it? It rather vitally concerns the
Consolidated Water Company."
"You don't blame us for all these typhoid cases, do you?"
"No, sir--not for all of them."
"Why blame us for any of them? Our analyses show that we're giving
clean water. How about dirty milkmen and the sanitary arrangements in
these tenement-houses and all such? It's the fashion to blame a
corporation for everything bad that happens in this world."
"We have placed blame on milkmen where any blame is due," stated Dr.
Dohl. He tapped his manuscript. "But I have spent considerable of my
department's money in making a house-to-house canvass, tracing the
sources. The man before me /guessed/. I have made /sure/! Colonel
Dodd, the Consolidated water is pretty poisonous stuff these days."
"What's the matter in this state all of a sudden?" snapped the
colonel. "I am told that a lunatic almost broke up our city government
meeting the other night, shouting that the Consolidated is trying to
poison folks. You're too level-headed a man to get into that class,
"I'll allow you to set me down in any class which seems fitting from
your point of view," replied the doctor, stiffly. "But if that
lunatic, as you call him, got an angle-worm or a frog's leg out of his
tap I don't blame him for breaking up a meeting of the city government
which will tolerate the water which is being pumped through the city
mains just now."
"We're working on the filtering-plant--it will be all right in a
little while. It got out of hand before we realized it," said the
colonel, now a bit apologetic.
"In this crisis your filter amounts to about that!" The doctor snapped
a pudgy finger into a plump palm. "The river-water in this state has
been poisoned. You must go into the hills--to the lakes, Colonel
"You don't mean to say that you recommend that in your report,
"Without stopping to think of the millions it will cost my company to
build over its plants?"
"It has come to a point where it isn't a question of money, Colonel."
"We can't afford it."
"Then let the cities and towns of the state buy in their water-plants
and do it."
"Good Jefferson! Don't you know that every city and town in this state
where we have a water-plant has already exceeded its debt limit of
"Do I understand you as intimating, Colonel Dodd, that there is no
help for this present condition of affairs?"
"Look here--I'm neither a Herod nor a Moloch, even if some of the
crack-brained agitators in this state will have it that way,"
protested the magnate, with heat. "Are you going to print that report
before you have given us time to turn around?"
"With one hundred deaths a day from typhoid fever in this state,
Colonel, that matter of time becomes mighty important."
"Look here, Dohl, don't you remember that it was my indorsement that
gave you your job?"
"I do, Colonel Dodd. But I'm a physician, not a politician."
"I see you're not," retorted the colonel, dryly. "But you're a member
of our political party, and you know that the Consolidated and its
associate interests are the backbone of that party. There are a lot of
soreheads in this state, and we're having a devil of a time to hold
'em in line. Every savings-bank in this state, furthermore, holds
bonds of the Consolidated. Do you want to start a panic? You've got to
be careful how you touch the first brick standing in a row. Dohl, you
leave that report with me. I'll go over it. I'll take the matter up
with the directors. We'll move as fast as possible."
The doctor hesitated, stroking the folds of his manuscript.
"You're not doubting my word, are you?" demanded the colonel.
"No, sir!" Even the physician's sense of duty did not embolden him to
persist under this scowl of the man of might.
The colonel took the document from Dr. Dohl's relaxing hands and
shoved it into a pigeonhole of the big desk.
"You must understand that pipe-lines to lakes cannot be laid in a
minute as a child strings straws, Doctor," admonished the magnate.
"Do you propose to lay lines to the lakes, Colonel? I need to throw a
little sop to my conscience if my report is delayed."
"Everything right will be done in good time, Dr. Dohl. I will proceed
as rapidly as possible, considering that the law, finance, and
politics are all concerned. As you are leaving," he added, giving his
visitor the blunt hint that the interview was over, "I must draw your
attention to the fact that if you bludgeon the Consolidated with a
report like this it may be a long time before we can move in the
matter. You'll only scare the banks and set the cranks to yapping.
Just remember that you're a state officer and have a weighty
responsibility to your party and to financial interests."
Dr. Dohl went away. He sourly realized that he was only a cog in the
big machine; that for a moment he had threatened to develop a rough
edge and start a squeak, but the big file had been used on him. It had
been used on many another of the State House cogs, as he well knew.
Responsibility as to his party! Safety and sanity in regard to
financial interests! He knew that these talismanic words had been used
to control even the lords in national politics. He departed from the
Presence, muttering his rebellion, but fully conscious that a
political Samson in modern days made but a sorry spectacle of himself
when he started to pull down the pillars of the party temple.
He continued to mutter when he walked through the anteroom.
Most of the men who waited there had faces as lowering as the visage
which Dr. Dohl displayed.
The doctor had not lost all faith in his own fearlessness and
rectitude of motive, but he was obliged to acknowledge to himself that
just then he was a rather weak champion.
"However, I'd like to lay eyes on the sort of man who can unjoint this
devilish combination of politics and law and finance," he informed
himself, trying to justify his own retreat.
His eyes, in passing, swept a stranger.
The stranger was a tall young man with wavy hair and brown eyes. He
sat patiently, nursing a broad-brimmed black hat on his knees.
"I'd like to see that man!" repeated Dr. Dohl, mentally, sugar-coating
his disgust at his own weakness.
If mortal man were gifted with prescience Dr. Dohl would have stared
out of countenance the tall young man who sat on a bench in the outer
office of the state's overlord and nursed a broad-brimmed hat upon his
THE CODE AND THE GAGE OF BATTLE
"I appreciate zeal in public affairs," mused Colonel Dodd, gazing at
the door which Dr. Dohl had closed behind him. "But once there was a
retriever dog who chased his master with a stick of dynamite that had
a sputtering fuse."
He set his broad hands upon the arms of his chair, derricked himself
up, and went over to the mirror. He peered at himself and seemed to
rearrange his countenance, much as a woman would smooth the ruffled
plumage of her hat.
"We're not murderers," he informed the composed visage which the
mirror held forth to him. "But we haven't got to the point where we're
letting lunatics who break up city government meetings, or crank
doctors, tell us how to spend a million or two of the money we've
worked hard to accumulate. There's getting to be too much of this
telling business men in this country how to run their business. If
we're peddling typhoid fever in spite of what our analyses tell us,
then we'll go ahead, of course, and clean up." Colonel Dodd was
willing to acknowledge that much to himself, surveying his countenance
in the mirror. "But we'll continue to run our own business," he added.
Then he sat down again in his chair and pushed a button. "Briggs," he
directed, "send in those three men from Danburg."
He whirled his swivel-chair and sat there at his desk, his rectangular
front squared to meet them.
The three men who came in were of the rural businessmen type, and
their faces were not amiable. Two of them halted in the middle of the
sumptuous apartment and the third stepped a couple of paces ahead of
them. He carried a huge roll of engineers' plans under his arm.
"My name is Davis, as I suppose you know, Colonel Dodd," he reported.
"Have seats, gentlemen."
"We are tired of sitting," stated the spokesmen, with sour
"I understand, Mr. David. But mornings are very busy times for me. I
was attending to appointments made beforehand. You made no
appointment, and I was not expecting you."
There was silence, and the three men glowered on him. It was evident
that settled animosity emboldened these country merchants even in the
presence of Colonel Symonds Dodd.
"I was not expecting you, I say."
The colonel's demeanor displayed a little uncertainty; he had rather
expected suppliants. He knew what a nasty blow had been dealt these
men the day before.
"Probably not," assented Davis. "You expected that after Stone & Adams
yanked the gangplank out from under us yesterday we would put in at
least one day tearing around to other banking firms, trying to place
"Why--why-- Well, if Stone & Adams-- You naturally wouldn't take the
verdict of one banking-house on a matter of bonds, would you?"
"Look here, Colonel Dodd, we understand you--clear way down to the
ground--and we may as well save wear on our tongues. And first of all
we have come right here to save shoe-leather. We have come straight to
headquarters. Do you suppose we're going to gallop around this city to
bankers after the word has gone out about us? Not much! We are here in
the captain's office, and you can't fool us about that."
"I never heard such--" the colonel began to sputter.
"I know you never did--and it's getting your goat," asserted the blunt
countryman. "We've got a plain and pertinent question to put to you--
do you intend to ram us to the wall in our water deal?"
The head of the state's water trust simulated anger perfectly, even if
he didn't feel it. And there was astonishment in his anger.
"What have I to do with your dealings with bankers?" he demanded.
"Probably your plant isn't up to pitch."
"That talk doesn't go with us, not for a minute, Colonel Dodd,"
shouted the undaunted Davis. "You're talking to business men, not to
children. We offered to leave the matter of our plan to any three
engineers in this state. Why is it that Stone & Adams refuse to take
the word of anybody except your man, Snell?"
"They probably want the word of the best consulting-engineer in the
"But he's your man."
"He is our man because he is the best. We hire him for our work. But
we do not control his opinions when he is consulted by others. Oh no!
And I want to tell you, my men, that I refuse to listen to any more
such talk from you."
"Then call in one of your political policemen and have us put out,"
invited the unterrified Davis.
"Build your plant right and your bonds will sell. Our bonds sell when
Mr. Snell reports on our plants."
"We'll save our strength in the matter of building plants and running
around trying to place bonds with brokers who have been tipped off by
the money trust of this state. We propose to get it straight from you
first. You can't fool us for one minute, I repeat! We'll have our last
wiggle right here. Will you take your hands off our affairs?"
"I haven't put my hands /on/ your affairs," shouted Colonel Dodd,
furious at being baited in this amazing manner. Never before had any
visitor dared to raise his voice in that office. "You're crazy."
"You're right--we are--pretty nearly so. Myself and these two
neighbors of mine have tied up every dollar we can rake and scrape to
build a water-plant for our little village and give our folks clean
water from a lake, not the rotten poison you would pump out of our
millstream for us. We have tried to do this for our town and make an
honest dollar for ourselves. Now you have got us lashed to the mast,
financially, so you think, and you propose to step in and gobble our
franchise. That's enough to make men crazy."
"Get out of my office!"
"You grabbed the franchise and common stock of Westham that way,"
declared Davis. "You scooped in Durham and Newry and a lot of others.
But I'm here to warn you, Colonel Dodd. Danburg is going to choke you
if you try to swallow it. We are only countrymen, and we know it. You
have always done all the bossing and threatening in this state up to
now. But I tell you, Colonel Dodd, there comes a time when the rabbit
will spit in the bulldog's eye. If we three go out of this room in the
same spirit in which we came into it something will drop in this
state. We shall have a story to tell."
Colonel Dodd swung his chair around and faced his desk.
"Gentlemen, let's not get excited," he appealed. Ostensibly he reached
for a pencil. He also pushed a button he had not touched before that
day. Then he came around slowly on the swivel of his chair. "You have
mentioned certain towns, Davis. Those towns have water systems that
are a part of the Consolidated, to be sure. But the men who promoted
those plants and were unable to complete them came to us and begged us
to step in and take the burden off their hands." While Colonel Dodd
talked he kept glancing, but in an extremely unobtrusive manner, at a
huge and magnificent Japanese screen that occupied one corner of his
office. "It is easy enough to start ventures in this world, Mr. Davis.
An inexperienced man can do that. But it most often takes experience
and a lot of money to install a successful water plant."
"We want to get down to cases, Colonel Dodd," insisted the spokesman.
"We haven't come here without posting ourselves. We know how you have
talked to the others. But you can't bluff us. You propose to steal our
plant, such of it as we have been able to build to date. One word from
you to the money gang takes the hoodoo off us. Now talk business! Do
you propose to pot us like you have the rest?"
The heart of the big rose in the center of the screen flashed once
with a glow that was imperceptible unless one had been gazing at it,
watching for a signal. Colonel Dodd understood that Miss Kate Kilgour
had entered through a low door and was behind the screen, ready with
note-book and pencil. He leaned back in his deep chair and interlocked
his pudgy fingers across his paunch.
"I assure you I have not the least interest in your projects as to the
Danburg water system, Mr. Davis, Mr. Erskine, Mr. Owen." He dwelt on
the names. "The Consolidated has plenty of its own business to attend
"But I say you are trying to run /our/ business, too--no, ruin it!"
"Do you realize, Mr. Davis, that you are accusing me of criminal
conspiracy--making a statement that might go hard with you in a court
of law? You have accused me of trying to discredit you with banking-
houses. Can you produce any proof except your foolish and unjust
suspicions? You have been made angry by a refusal to handle your
bonds. I don't sell bonds. I build and operate water systems."
"The same old game," sneered Davis. "Your water syndicate, the
railroads of this state, the banks, the politics--they're all snarled
up together like snakes in winter quarters. I say, if you pass the
word our bonds will be taken. If you don't do it, I'm going to trot
out of this office and expose your highway-robber system."
"In one breath you threaten me because you say I'm interfering in your
affairs. In the next breath you threaten me because I refuse to
interfere. You are making dangerous talk, Davis. I may call the courts
to pass on that threat. There is only one proposition I can make to
you--and that's strictly in the line of my business. If you are tied
up financially--are at the end of your resources and must have help--
I'll give you my aid in getting the Consolidated to take over the
Danburg plant at a fair valuation."
"Is that the best word you've got for us?"
"I have made you an honorable business proposition."
"That your final talk?"
Davis found words inadequate for his boiling emotions just then. He
advanced on Dodd, who shrank back into his chair. Davis whipped the
long roll of plans out from under his arm, held the roll by one end,
and swung it like a bat-stick. But he did not strike at Dodd, as the
magnate seemed to apprehend.
He swung over the colonels' head and swept the top of the desk clean
of everything; vases, bouquets, /objets d'art/, all went rolling and
smashing to the floor.
Colonel Dodd ducked low and held his square head in his hands as if he
feared that the next assault would be on that. But Davis led his
associates out of the room through the door which Briggs had flung
open, summoned by the crash in his master's holy of holies.
For the first time, perhaps, in the history of that private office the
door leading into the anteroom was left open and unguarded. Briggs ran
into the room, his coat-tails streaming, his inquisitive beak
stretched forward. On his heels followed the tall young man who had
been waiting in the anteroom. It was Walker Farr, who closed the door
behind him, shutting out the curious anteroom clients who flocked and
When the colonel lifted his head he found himself looking squarely
into the eyes of this tall young man whom he in no way remembered.
Briggs went down on his hands and knees and began to pick up the
One of the bouquets had rolled to the colonel's feet, and he stooped
with some difficulty, recovered it, and laid it across his knees. He
gazed past Farr with a frown--with a significant, dismissing jerk of
his head. The young man turned in time to see the capitalist's
handsome secretary. The amazing riot in the sanctuary of her employer
had brought her from behind the screen. Uncertainty and alarm were in
her eyes and excitement had flushed her cheeks. Against the background
of the gorgeous screen she seemed a veritable apparition of
loveliness, and while Farr stared, frankly admiring her, recognizing
her, exchanging that startled recognition with her, she disappeared.
"How do you dare to come into my private office in this fashion?"
"I have waited in that anteroom every day for ten days, trying to get
an audience. The door was open just now and I came in."
"It's your own fault if you haven't seen me. I see men who have
business with me and who send in an explanation of that business."
"So I have been told by that man," stated Farr, pointing to Briggs,
who was groping about on the carpet. "But my business with you
couldn't be discussed through a third party."
"Now that you're in here, what is that business?"
"I'll tell you first what it is /not/, so that there won't be any
misunderstanding in your mind about me. I am not here to borrow money,
beg money, ask for work, ask for a personal favor of any kind, solicit
a political job, nor have I anything to sell to you or to give to you.
So, you see, my business is different."
With a quick motion he brought out a parcel which he had held
concealed in the broad-brimmed hat.
Briggs straightened up on his knees and remained thus, seemingly
paralyzed, staring at the parcel.
The capitalist sank back in his chair, his face growing greenish
"Don't you throw that bomb!" he gasped. In his panic he was not able
to deduce any other explanation for the presence of this stranger who
had so strenuously disclaimed all reasonable motives for his visit. He
quailed before this man who seemed to be a dangerous crank--for Farr's
attire was out of the ordinary and his eyes were flashing and his
poise was that of a man sure of himself.
"What do you think I have here in this package?"
"Dynamite!" mumbled the magnate.
Colonel Dodd rolled his head to and fro on the back of his chair,
shutting his eyes in vain attempt to find somebody to whom to appeal
for help. He started a furtive hand in the direction of the battery of
"Keep your hands in your lap," commanded Farr. "I say that what I have
here in this package is worse than dynamite." He tore the paper and
disclosed a half-dozen faucets that were still dripping with slime.
"You know now what I mean, Colonel Dodd. This is the stuff your water
company is pumping through the pipes in this state."
The president of the Consolidated straightened in his chair, but he
had been thoroughly frightened.
While Farr talked on the colonel seemed to be gathering himself--
recovering his voice.
"It's a mighty bold act for me to come in here like this, Colonel
Dodd. I understand it. I'm a poor man and a stranger in this city.
Just consider me a voice--call me Balaam's ass if you want to. But
I've come up from the tenement-house districts where the children are
"What do you want?" The magnate discharged the question explosively.
"Pure water in the city mains."
"Whom do you represent?"
Farr hesitated. Colonel Dodd scented possible political strategy in
this visit, and was controlling his ire in order to probe the matter.
"Come, my man. Out with it! Who commissioned you to come here?"
"I'll not claim that I have any powers delegated to me, sir."
"How did you dare to force your way in here?"
"Considering what kind of a man I was a few weeks ago, I'm having
pretty hard work to explain to myself what I'm doing, sir."
The colonel knotted bushy brows. This person seemed to be playing with
him. "Who told you to come here?"
"The soul of a little girl who was named Rosemarie."
Colonel Dodd came out of his chair, thoroughly angry--and yet he
repressed his anger. This person, more than ever, seemed to him to be
a crank with vagaries.
Farr put up a protesting palm. His tones trembled, and into them he
put all the appeal a human voice can compass.
"I know I astonish you, Colonel," he added. "I astonish myself. I'm
not much on self-analysis. I don't know just what has come over me the
last few weeks. But they do say the Deity picks out queer instruments
when He wants things done. Man to man, now, forgetting you're a mighty
man and I'm a small one, won't you say you'll give the people of this
state pure water instead of poison?"
"You don't think you can stroll in here and coax me to build over the
whole Consolidated system, do you?"
"That isn't the idea at all, sir. Treat me simply as a voice--a jog of
your conscience--a reminder. I'll go away and you'll never see me
"If you think the cranks in this state can influence me in the least
item about running my own business you're the worst lunatic outside
the state asylum," declared the colonel, with passion.
"You mean that what I have asked on behalf of women and children
hasn't had any effect on you?"
"Not the slightest. Get out!" In his present mood Colonel Dodd would
not admit to this interloper that he planned reforms, and in that
moment he unwittingly created his Frankenstein's monster.
Farr retreated a couple of steps and bowed. "Colonel Dodd, in my part
of the West we fellows had a little code: help a woman, always,
everywhere; tote a tired child in our arms; and, in the case of a man
who announced himself an enemy, give him fair notice when it came time
to pull guns. Better get your weapon loose on your hip."
He bowed again and went out.
Briggs rose from his knees and his master snapped an angry stare from
the door that the young man had closed softly behind himself.
"What kind of a resort is my office getting to be? Do you know who
that devilish fool is, Briggs?"
"No, sir. He has been hanging around here, that's all I know. I kept
at him." He made a little dab of his woodpecker beak. "But I couldn't
find out anything from him."
"Well find out from somebody else, then. And get judge Warren on the
'phone for me."
When the bell rang and the colonel heard the voice of the
Consolidated's corporation counsel greeting him on the wire he ordered
the judge to come over at once.
"Hell has just burned through here in three small patches," stated the
colonel, grimly. "The sooner we turn on the Consolidated hose, the
In the early dusk of a summer evening Mr. Peter Briggs stood at the
edge of the sidewalk of one of the squalid avenues of the district of
the tenement-houses of Marion. His hands were behind him, propping out
his coat-tails. He kept peering at the gloomy stairway of a house near
at hand. Take the gloom, his attitude, and his sooty garb, and he gave
a very picturesque impression of a raven doing sentinel duty.
At last a tall young man came down the stairs which Mr. Briggs was
watching and strolled off leisurely up the avenue, stopping here and
there to chat, nodding to this man, flourishing a hand salute to that
man. The young man apparently had nothing whatever on his mind except
to enjoy a stroll in the summer evening.
Mr. Briggs watched him out of sight without moving from his tracks.
Then he withdrew both hands from under his coat-tails. In one hand was
a note-book, in the other hand was a pencil. Mr. Briggs made an entry,
closed the book with decision, and snapped an elastic band around the
covers. Then he made off toward his home. He lived up-town in a
section where there were fewer smells and better scenery. He
determined that this should be his last tour of surveillance. He had
found his trips into the nooks and crannies of the Eleventh Ward to be
very distasteful employment for a man who had served Colonel Dodd for
so many years in the sumptuous surroundings of that office in the
First National block.
He asked himself what would be the use of hunting for any more
information regarding such an inconsequential individual as one Walker
Farr? He wondered why this crank had impressed Colonel Symonds Dodd
sufficiently to stir up all this trouble for himself, Peter Briggs.
The fellow had come from somewhere--nobody in Marion seemed to know.
He had been discharged from the employment of the Consolidated. Now he
was going about, warning all the people to boil the city water they
drew from the faucets. He seemed to be a crank on the water subject,
so Peter Brigg's note-book recorded.
The book also recorded that this queer Walker Farr strolled about the
streets in the poorer quarters, "currying favor": so Peter Briggs
expressed the young man's evening activities in the note-book. That
seemed to be all there was to it. At any rate, Peter Briggs decided
that he had finished his quest.
Thereupon he had snapped the elastic band with vigor and made up his
mind to tell Colonel Dodd the next morning that chasing that worthless
fellow around or thinking that such a fellow could do anything to
interfere with Colonel Dodd was poppycock. Peter Briggs hoped he would
dare to call it "poppycock" in the presence of his master--for he was
thoroughly sick of being a sleuth in the ill-smelling Eleventh Ward.
He did dare to call it poppycock. And Colonel Dodd shrugged his
shoulders and forgot one Walker Farr. The fellow seemed inconsiderable
--and Colonel Dodd found other matters very pressing.
For one thing, those three men from Danburg had brought suit against
both Stone & Adams and the Consolidated Water Company and had engaged
as counsel no less a personage than the Honorable Archer Converse, the
state's most eminent corporation lawyer, a man of such high ideals and
such scrupulous conception of legal responsibility that he had never
been willing to accept a retainer from the great System which
dominated state affairs. Colonel Symonds Dodd feared the Honorable
Archer Converse. It was hinted that the Danburg case would involve
charges of conspiracy with intent to restrain independents, and would
be used to show up what the opponents of the Consolidated insisted was
general iniquity in finance and politics.
Colonel Dodd outwardly was not intimidated. He sent no flag of truce.
He decided to intrench and fight. He cursed when he remembered the
interview with the Danburg triumvirate.
"Under ordinary circumstances I would buy them off in the usual way,"
he informed Judge Warren. "But that damnation lunatic raved at me with
all the insults he could think of--then he up with his dirty bunch of
plans and knocked my flowers on to the floor--yes, sir, that was what
the mad bull did--he knocked my flowers on to the floor!"
And Colonel Dodd emphasized that as the crime unforgivable.
THE MATTER OF DOING WHAT ONE CAN
It was from Citizen Drew that Walker Farr heard the story of Captain
Citizen Drew was the elderly man with the earnest face who had been
first to commend Farr that evening at City Hall when he and old
Etienne had made their pathetically useless foray against bulwarked
Folks in Marion who knew Citizen Drew had forgotten his given name. In
his propaganda of protest he called himself "Citizen." He built
carriage-tops in a little shop where there were drawers stuffed with
political and economic literature, and he read and pondered during his
Farr sought out Citizen Drew and sat at his feet, with open ears.
For Citizen Drew knew the political history of his state, the men
concerned, their characters, their aims, their weaknesses, their
virtues, their faults--especially did he understand their faults--
their affiliations with the Machine, their attitude toward the weak;
he had followed their trails as the humble hound follows big game.
Therefore, Farr, a stranger in that land, seeking knowledge with which
to arm his resolve, went and sat with Citizen Drew and learned many
Sometimes loquacity carried Citizen Drew a bit afield from the highway
of politics, and when he touched on the case of Captain Andrew Kilgour
Farr's heart thumped and his eyes glistened. For Drew prefaced the bit
of a story with this:
"I never knew Symonds Dodd to do anything toward squaring a wrong he
had committed except when he gave Kate Kilgour a fine position in his
office. And there are those who say that he was only showing more of
his selfishness when he hired her; he wanted the prettiest girl in the
city to match his office furnishings."
"I have seen her," said Farr, trying to be matter-of-fact. "I--I sort
"Her father was a friend of mine. He was a good man. And the
Consolidated money couldn't buy him. His people were Kilgowers in
Scotland and he was a man not given to much talk, but he was willing
to let me run on, nodding his head now and then while he smoked. He
was an honest man and the best engineer in the state, and he kept his
own counsel in all things. And he showed me the Kilgower coat of arms
--and he didn't show that to many. He was no boaster. He was proud of
his people, but he used to say that it made but little difference who
the ancestors were unless the descendants copied the virtues and tried
to improve over the faults. There was a Kilgower who went down across
the border and gave himself as a hostage so that the clan might gain
time--and he knew that he would be hung--and he was. But he saved his
people. And I wish you would remember that, Mr. Farr, for it explains
a bit the state of mind of Andrew Kilgour.
"He wouldn't sell himself for the gang's dirty work--he made honest
reports. So they did for him, Mr. Farr. And he couldn't afford to have
them do for him, because his wife was vain and a spendthrift and he
let her waste and spend because he was a good and simple man when it
came to the matter of a woman's domination over him. That's the curse
on strong men--they are tender when it comes to a woman. She wasn't
worthy of him, his wife. It's the daughter who has his honesty. I
think if she knew who had done for her father she would not stay in
Symonds Dodd's office. But the gang does for a man most often without
leaving the trail open when they run away and hide.
"He would come here and sit with me and smoke and was very silent. I
knew there were debts and I knew well enough that the woman wanted him
to sell himself.
"He raked and scraped money--he sold everything of his own, his
instruments and all. He took out every cent of insurance that money
would buy. Then he put prussic acid in a capsule--a shell of salol, I
believe they said it was--so that the work of the poison would be
delayed, and he swallowed the capsule on the street and went into an
office and sat and chatted with friends and joked and laughed much
more than was his habit till at last his eyes closed and his face grew
white and he fell out of his chair upon the floor stone-dead, and
never uttered a groan.
"It was brave work. They called it heart disease, but it's not easy to
fool insurance people. They took him out of his grave and proved
suicide--and they did not pay a dollar of insurance to his family.
They were not obliged to. The policies were new and the suicide clause
let the companies out. So he left only debts instead of twenty-five
thousand dollars. However, I say it was brave work."
"It would have been braver to stay and face it," blurted Farr.
"But Andrew Kilgour had a code of his own--a state of mind some of us
could not understand--the example of an ancestor. We are not all
alike. Many cannot stay and face trouble. You might be able to do it--
you seem to have a level head!"
Farr grew pale, his hands trembled on the arms of his chair, and then
he got up and marched across the little shop to the window, turning
his back on Citizen Drew.
"You told them in City Hall that you would stay here and fight,"
pursued Citizen Drew. "That is brave work."
"I'll be much obliged to you, Citizen Drew, if you'll leave me out of
your catalogue of heroes. And I take back what I said about his facing
it. I hadn't any right to make any such comment."
"So the girl went to work in Symonds Dodd's office and his nephew is
courting her. I hope he doesn't get Andrew Kilgour's daughter. He
never went after any other girl honestly. I have looked into this case
because I was Andrew's friend. Young Dodd wants to marry her and the
mother is helping him. But I know that rapscallion, Mr. Farr. I can't
believe that Kate Kilgour will be caught by him."
"He has a fine position, they tell me," said Farr, still gazing out of
"The Machine made old Peleg Johnstone state treasurer, and he doesn't
know bonds from biscuit. Colonel Dodd put in his nephew as chief
clerk, and old Peleg is a figure-head, smoking his pipe in the back
office and resting his wool-tipped boots on his desk. Oh, I know the
bunch of 'em, sir. I can tell you the inside of things. Young Dodd
takes orders from his uncle and runs the treasury. All the state's
money is in the Dodd banks on the checking-account basis--and the gang
is letting it out at six percent. Tidy little profit! And nobody to
say a word, even to ask how Richard Dodd finds so much money to spend.
But that's the principal wonder in the world, Mr. Farr--how your
neighbor gets his money to blow. Jones, Smith, Brown, and Robinson--
they stand and look at one another and ask the same question. And
folks in the Eleventh Ward are even asking me how you get your
living," added Citizen Drew, smoothing his curiosity with a bit of
"I have been working in this city--doing good, hard work," stated
Farr, moving toward the door.
"Yes, but you have been discharged."
"I understand how it is you know so much stuff to tell me," returned
the young man, smiling. "Well, Citizen Drew, I'm going to take the
first job that offers itself. Tell 'em that!"
"I'm glad of it," said Citizen Drew, with blunt heartiness. "If you
have set out to do anything among the plain folks you've got to be at
work in the open, earning honest wages, or they'll suspect you. They
have been fooled too often by fakes and loafers. But since you
advertised yourself in City Hall you may find jobs a little hard to
land. It's pretty much of an air-tight proposition, Consolidated
"I have somebody looking after my interests in that line, Citizen
Drew. I'm not worrying." He opened the door. "In fact, there are two
mighty helpful chaps whom I'm going to associate with more or less
from now on."
"Bring 'em with you and let me know 'em. Can't have too many in a good
"I'll bring them--but they are pretty hard to understand--rather slow
getting acquainted--lots of folks have no use for them," said Farr,
"What are their names?" asked the inquisitive citizen, eager for more
additions to his general stock of information.
"I'll tell you later."
But Farr named them to himself when he was on the street.
"Chance and Humility--I hope you are going to stick by me from now
on," he muttered. "Chance, you have led me into a queer position and
into a strange state of mind. Humility, you are helping me to
understand. Now, Chance, what have you to say to me?"
It was more of the fantastic whimsy with which Walker Farr played.
His eyes, searching the street after this challenge to Chance, beheld
an ice-wagon rumbling past. It was a neat-looking cart, painted white,
and bore the advertisement, "Crystal Pure Independent Ice Company."
Another wagon, painted dirty yellow, followed. It was a Consolidated
ice-cart; Farr knew those carts with their loads of river-ice.
The spectacle of something which promised rivalry to that yellow cart
piqued his interest. His mood welcomed the first adventure which
Chance presented. He had found Chance playing peculiar pranks with his
affairs in the days just past.
He hurried in pursuit of the white cart and accosted the driver.
"Where can I find the manager of this company?"
"He's up at Coosett Lake this afternoon, sir." The man was respectful.
The stranger's garb and demeanor impressed him. "The trolley will take
you pretty near it. Take a car in the square--a Halcyon Park car."
Without canvassing the matter further Farr took the car.
He decided that it was a most comforting sensation, this abandoning
his problems to Chance! It saved so much fuss and worry.
He found the little lake at the limits of the park area--a hollow
among the hills.
Men were busy at the foot of the slope over whose crest he marched. He
saw several rough buildings at the edge of the lake, plainly makeshift
ice-houses. One was a new structure and the other two were old barns
which had been "darned" here and there with new material, and their
yawed sides were propped with joists. Men were loading ice upon carts;
the translucent cubes flashed in the rays of the sun.
During the process of his little crusade he had become acquainted with
the conditions in the city of Marion and he knew that the Consolidated
folks controlled the ice-supply as well as the water. They held an
iron grip by legislative charter on all the riparian rights along the
river and allowed no one else to operate an ice-field. He had seen and
sniffed the unwholesome slime which a melted cake of Consolidated ice
When he found opportunity he accosted a man in corduroy. He was a big
chap, bronzed by the sun, and Farr singled him out as the manager
because he had been directing the other workers while he toiled
"It's a little business of my own," said the man. "I have started in
"I had thought the Consolidated had control of everything."
"They would control everything if they could. They wouldn't let me run
my carts through the city streets if they knew how to stop me. I
worked for them fifteen years, lugging their dirty ice on my back, up
stairs and down, and I know that crowd. I don't understand much of
anything but the ice business, mister, whoever you are. But I wouldn't
lug any more of that ice into homes. I put my savings in here, every
cent, hired these barns and a shore privilege, and I'm selling clean
ice. But I'm going to lose every blamed cent! It's no use. I can't
buck 'em. Excuse me! It's no interest to you. My mouth runs away with
me when I get talking about that gang."
He went back to the barn to help his men shift a runway.
Farr waited patiently until he was able to speak to the busy man
"I don't mean to bother you, sir," he said, humbly. "But I am
interested in this proposition of yours. I have worked for the
Consolidated, myself. I was discharged because I stood up and damned
their water before the mayor and aldermen."
"Say, I heard something about that!" cried the iceman, displaying
prompt interest and admiration. "The boys said it was good work."
"I mention it merely to put myself right with you."
"Then say on ahead, my friend!"
"Do you tell me you can't make a go of this?"
"I'm afraid I can't. It's a half-mile haul for me to the nearest
siding. The railroad folks don't give me any better rate than they're
obliged to--and you know why that is! And I have to have another set
of carts for the city delivery. And no capital to work with! I'm up
against a crowd that has all the money, plenty of equipment, and has
its supply right at the back door of the city--and it belongs at the
back door! But you know what the buying public is! The only reason why
I have lasted is because my old customers gave me their business and
are sticking pretty well."
"My friend," declared Farr, putting his hand on the shoulder bent and
ridged by many years of ice-toting, "lots of men who are making money
as missionaries are not doing half the good in the world you're doing.
You're certainly showing some of the citizens of Marion the difference
between good ice and frozen gobs of pestilence."
"A fellow needs grit, grace, gumption, and a lot of missionary spirit
to fight what I'm fighting, mister. I ain't going to say anything
about a lot of obstacles the syndicate has put in my way. Those were
to be expected in the way of regular business competition. But you can
see I have only got limited resources here, and I can't afford a big
outfit in the city. Sometimes I have run short, the best I could do--
and it's mighty little sleep I have. And the Consolidated drivers have
refused to sell ice to anybody who has been buying of me even when
mothers have pleaded so as to keep milk for sick babies from souring.
That's orders from headquarters! You wouldn't think that the same big
chaps who boss the governor of the state would get down to such
nubbins as that, eh? But they do--that's their system. They used to
tell me that it's the only way a big syndicate can keep its grip--
never leave a bar down! Yes, sir, they have blacklisted my customers
until they'll be good and give the Consolidated a yearly contract.
More than that, they pass word along that I'll be out of business by
another season and that folks who have bought of me this year will be
given the go-by next! Can you beat it?"
"Are you going to see out to them?"
"No," said the iceman, grimly. "There are two good reasons: I won't
sell and they won't buy. They will kill me out so that nobody else
will be encouraged to try the scheme again."
"I want a job," stated Farr, curtly. "I want to work for you. Give me
a place on one of your carts in the city."
"Say, look here," blurted the other man, frankly astonished, "you look
more like a gent than an iceman!"
"No matter what I look like. The main question is, can I lug ice? Feel
of my muscle!"
"It may be a poor outlook for your pay--working for me," warned the
proprietor. "And if you ever want another job in Marion you may be
blacklisted. I don't want to get you into a scrape."
"I can't be in any worse scrape than the one I am in now. Haven't I
just told you who I am?"
"Oh, I know that! I reckon you're the same fellow. But, see here,
mister, I'm one of those simple kind of galoots--and the less a man
knows the more suspicious he is. You ain't wanting to work for me just
because you need a job!"
"I do need a job! I have spent the little money I had by me after I
was fired by the Consolidated. I had some special expenses--the
funeral of a--a friend," he added, wistfulness in his tones. He drove
his hand into his pockets and exhibited a few small coins in his palm
when he pulled his hand out. "That's my cash--every cent of it!"
"Sure! I see it. But money's easy enough to come at by a fellow like
you when he needs it. You haven't come across all square with me yet!"
It was not mere inquisitiveness; it was the insistence of a plain man
who wanted a definite peg on which to hitch the first warp of
association. "You've got to handle money of mine," he went on. "I'm in
a tight place and I have got to have the right men tied up with me. I
wouldn't have to ask one of those boys yonder why he wanted to lug
ice. But you ain't no ordinary slouch, mister. You don't do things--
not many of 'em--unless you've got a good reason for same." It was the
instinct of ingenuousness. "Keep it all to yourself if you want to.
But in that case you'll have to excuse /me/!"
Farr did not hesitate. He smiled.
"You're a down-on-the-ground fellow who may be able to understand the
thing better than I do myself," he declared. Again he put his hand on
the bent shoulder.
"You didn't break loose from a good job and start this ice business
here simply to make more money, did you?"
"Well, I've got a family to support and I wanted to make some money,
of course, but I thought it was about time to have less relics, germs,
curiosities, microbes, and general knickknacks left in ice-boxes after
the ice had melted. So I went out of the frozen museum business,
mister." His voice softened suddenly. "We lost a little girl a year
ago last summer. Typhoid!"
"I lost a little girl--a friend," said Farr, patting the shoulder.
"It's this way with me-- What is your name?"
"Mr. Nowell, I have poked more or less fun in my life at men who
claimed to have missions. Perhaps that was because those men drew my
attention by advertising their missions loudly--and, therefore, I
concluded that all men with licenses to cure this and fix that and
regulate the other were fooling themselves or else were bluffs. But
all of a sudden I have waked up to something. I believe that any human
being who isn't doing a little something on the side to help somebody
else in this life is mighty miserable. I believe that the average sort
of folks are doing it--keeping it quiet, in most cases, perhaps. I
thought I had a mission and I stood up in your city government and
advertised it and made considerable of an ass of myself."
"Well, it was all right one way you look at it," said Nowell, with the
caution of the honest citizen. "But, of course, you got the stigmy put
onto you of being a crank and a disturber and you don't get nowhere!
It ain't gab and holler that does it! If talk sets folks to thinking--
that's all right, so far as it goes. But a lot of these chaps set
their mouths to going and let their hands lay crossed in their laps
and then wonder why the world doesn't get better because they have
asked it to be good."
It was sagacity from the humble observer.
"Mr. Nowell, I don't want to be quite as lonesome in this world as I
have been," said Farr, with earnestness. "It's an awful feeling, that!
A man can be lonely for a time and crowd down the hankering to be in
the march of honest men where he can touch elbows and be a part of
things. I see you look at me! That's right--it's queer stuff to be
talking to you." He pondered for a moment and went on. "Queer thing,
eh, for a fellow to wake up all of a sudden--a fellow of my stamp--and
want to do some real good in the world? Well, it surprises /me/, and
it would surprise you a whole lot more if you knew me better. We won't
try to analyze the feeling. I've given up trying to do it." He paused
and his brown eyes surveyed the blinking iceman with a quizzical
appeal in them. "That's a pretty long preface, Mr. Nowell. It ought to
lead up to some very important request. But it doesn't. I simply want
a job on your ice-cart. It will give me the best opportunity I know of
to go into homes and tell mothers to boil the water which comes out of
those dirty taps; after I unscrew the faucets I won't have to argue
much. I told Colonel Dodd in his office to look out for me! That may
have been bluster. I am a nobody. But I'm on his trail, and there is
one thing I can do to start with! I can help save the lives of a few
children. That's all! I'll be following my new motto. Will you give me
"I sure will," declared Nowell, heartily. "If I don't know when a man
is talking rock-bottom to me, then it's my own fault. When do you want
to go to work?"
Nowell gave the new man's garments a disparaging side glance.
"You look more as if you was going out to preach instead of deliver
ice. But I can fix that if you're busted, my friend. You slip off that
coat and help here till we're loaded. Then ride into the city on the
freight-car and tell any one of my men to give you the overalls and
jumper I left hanging in my stable office."
In this fashion it came about that Farr that day was riding on an ice-
wagon in Marion, learning his route. A red-headed youth who was
nursing an ice-pick wound in a bundled-up foot served as guide and
driver and spotted the "Crystal Pure" cards propped here and there in
windows, mutely signaling the household needs. With zestful
complacency, and with secret enjoyment in being allowed to "team" this
chap who looked and talked like a "nob," the youth allowed Farr to do
all the work.
The route took in many apartment-houses of the city.
The labor was muscle-racking. In most cases there were stairs to
climb. He stood, sagging under his burden, till chests were cleared by
the housewives or sluggish maids. He discovered that the iceman was
considered a fair and logical butt for all the forenoon grouches of
the kitchen. Women complained querulously that the ice dripped on the
clean floor, or that the piece was not up to the twenty-cent piece
delivered by the other company, or that he was late, or he had not had
his eyes about him the day before or else he would have seen the card.
On numerous occasions he was obliged to carry a piece of ice back
down-stairs to his cart and exchange it for a piece of another size
and price. He received no apology in such cases; he was tartly
informed that he ought to have common sense enough to know what was
wanted in that house. In other cases, the mistress of the apartments
turned him from the door and explained with entire lack of interest in
his long climb that the card had been left up by oversight--the chest
had been filled the day before.
And at two places sharp-tongued women would not allow him to enter,
frankly stating that icemen were too dirty creatures to allow inside
the door of a respectable house; the women received their ten-cent
cubes in pans and slammed the door in his face.
And through all this Farr preserved his smile.
In this slavery, tongue-lashed by fretful women, sweating under his
burden, he was happy; he could not account for it and did not attempt
to, but he knew it. He accepted the situation.
He received rewards enough to fortify his resolution.
A motherly woman asked him to wait a moment and she mixed for him a
glass of lemonade. That gave him an opportunity to say a few words to
her about drinking-water, modestly and deferentially. She was
interested, and he showed her what the guilty faucet of her tap held
And he saw that she was shocked and after he had warned her he asked
her to tell all the other women whom she knew. She promised to bring
the matter up in her sewing-club.
"And even the fussy women," he told himself, as he plodded back to his
cart, encouraged by his first experiment, "if I keep calm, if I keep
smiling--I shall find my chance to say something to them after a
A fresh doughnut was given to him by a maid who smiled up at his manly
good looks approvingly, and he was very grateful, for his breakfast
had been a meager one because he had barely enough small coins to make
a jingle in his pocket.
The maid gasped affrightedly when he showed her what was in the
faucet, and immediately set on water to boil to supply the bottles in
Furthermore, the maid stated that she knew many other maids who would
be glad to know about such a dreadful thing, and that she would have a
word to say to them on the way to Sunday mass and back.
Farr began to understand more clearly what can be accomplished by a
lone voice, carrying a gospel which can be backed and illustrated by
signs and wonders.
"I'll have them listening to me yet," he pondered. "I'll never say
another unkind word about a woman's tongue."
Colonel Symonds Dodd flashed past the ice-cart that afternoon in his
Farr laughed aloud at the humor of a thought which occurred to him: he
reflected that he would like to behold Colonel Dodd's face and hear
Colonel Dodd's remarks if somebody told that gentleman that the man
before whom he had quailed and grown pale was now starting what the
man believed was a more effective assault on the dynasty than even a
whole car-load of dynamite bombs could make, even if they were
exploded in all the Consolidated reservoirs. The remarks which would
entertain, so Farr pondered, would come when the colonel was informed
that the assault consisted of a lone iceman making talk to women in
"However," said the iceman to himself, as he checked a nick in a ten-
cent cube at the back of his cart. "I hold that my new motto is all
right, and old Etienne will indorse it, and he knows what self-
sacrifice consists of. It isn't rolling up your eyes and folding your
hands and saying, 'What can I do?' It's saying, 'I'll do what I can!'
--and then keeping your hands busy!"
WHEN A MAID IS COY
Mr. Richard Dodd came wooing.
He waited in his gray car at the curb in front of the First National
Bank block until Kate Kilgour issued forth into the afternoon
He called to her, holding open the side door.
"I just had to see you," he told her. "I have come down from the
capital, doing forty miles an hour. You're more precious than all the
money I have locked up in the vaults."
He did not find in her eyes any of that acclaimed glad love-light
which eager lovers seek. On the contrary, Miss Kilgour made just a bit
of a face at him and was distinctly petulant.
"I do not want to ride, Richard. I enjoy my walk. I need it after a
day at my desk."
"But I'm going to take you on a long ride into the country. We'll have
dinner at Hillcrest Inn and we'll--"
"I'll go straight home, if you please."
"Then come in here with me."
"Oh, if you insist!" She said it with weary impatience.
"Are you tired?"
He drove slowly. "I don't want you to work any more. You know I don't.
You know how I feel. Kate, I have published our intentions of
Her demeanor till then had been marked by tolerance, a bit pettish.
Now she turned on him the indignant stare of offended womanhood.
"Richard, I have not given you permission to do that."
"But you are going to marry me!"
"Some day. I will tell you when. I am not ready."
"You are playing with me."
"I am not so frivolous."
"But why do you keep putting it off?"
"A woman who gives herself has the right to say when it shall be."
"My God!" he raged. "I wish you would wake up."
She did not answer.
"You don't know what love is. You won't let me touch you."
"I suppose that your experience has qualified you, Richard," she
returned, half humorously, half scornfully.
"We are going to be married. Your mother is anxious for you to marry.
I am going to tell my uncle to hunt for another secretary."
"Be careful how you take liberties with my private business," she
warned him, sharply.
"You need somebody to take care of it for you. You have promised to be
my wife. You can't give me a single good reason for waiting any
"But I intend to wait."
He drove along in angry silence and they left the car together at the
Trelawny Apartments. The car had made a detour in reaching the curb--
avoiding a white wagon at the rear of which an iceman was briskly
pecking in twain a cake of ice.
The girl glanced sharply at the man and turned her head when she
reached the sidewalk in order to survey him more closely. The iceman,
peering up at the windows to locate such signal-cards as might be
visible, lowered his gaze and intercepted the girl's scrutiny. Color
came into her cheeks, but she frowned as if resenting his stare and
hurried into the vestibule, her lover at her heels.
"Look here, Friend Myself," reflected Walker Farr, "it's time you woke
up!" He sighed and swung a chunk of ice upon his shoulder. "But what
else can I expect? Come on, Humility, and give me a soft word or two.
I was hoping I'd never see her again."
"Youse take those two front numbers--ten and twelve--Mrs. Kilgour and
Mr. Knowles," advised his helper. "Package-entrance is around behind."
Farr toiled up the stairs, carrying one ice cube on his shoulder, with
another swinging from tongs. There was but one door to the Kilgour
apartment and the girl and Dodd stood in front of it; they had
evidently waited in the corridor after emerging from the elevator, and
the young man was detaining her, talking earnestly.
The girl opened the door with her latch-key, and with an apology he
stepped in front of the pair and entered.
"Well, I'll be--" blurted Dodd. "So that's what he is--a cheap, low-
Mrs. Kilgour came into her vestibule and led the way to the kitchen,
for Farr stood irresolutely in the doorway, awaiting directions as to
his burden. Following her, the young man noted her house-dress,
beribboned over-much, her rouged face, her bleached hair, and wondered
how such a woman could have beguiled Andrew Kilgour, as he felt he
knew that sacrificing hero from what Citizen Drew had said.
"Say, that's the plug-ugly who insulted us in the woods. I'll never
forget that face," stormed Dodd, making no effort by lowered tones to
conceal his sentiments from the iceman. "Where else am I going to run
across him? He needs a horse-whipping. If there weren't ladies present
I'd give him one."
"The man seems to be minding his own business," said the girl, coldly.
Farr heard her. There was a hint of contempt in her tones, and the
young man humbly accepted the scorn as directed toward him. He lifted
the ice into the box and received his coin from the languid woman, who
seemed to pay as little heed to his presence as she did to Dodd's
She seemed to be more especially interested in herself, and when Farr
departed was fondling into place the masses of her hair before a
mirror in the vestibule. Through the space formed by the portieres he
saw Dodd reaching eager hands to the girl, her presence having
apparently charmed away his thoughts of vengeance.
The iceman went humbly on his way.
He was meditating on the sacrifice of Captain Andrew Kilgour; he
remembered that stalwart men are willing slaves of the weakest women.
He wondered how much of the honesty of the father was in the daughter.
He tried to console himself by insisting that it was not there. He had
had only a limited opportunity to study Richard Dodd. However, he was
convinced that his unflattering estimate of that young man was surely
justified; and so certain was he that the character of Dodd must be
patent to all he went back to his tasks with a lowered estimate of the
girl who would select such a man as husband. And yet out of the dust
of the highway the profile of her face had touched him as his heart
never had been touched before; he had plucked the rose and had plodded
on behind the little sister of the rose. He wondered what strange
impulse had touched him. She must be merely like all the rest. Her
graciousness in that first meeting had tempted him to believe that she
was different. Now some consciousness, equally as intangible,
suggested to him that she was selfishly selling herself for ease. His
thoughts were pretty much mixed, he acknowledged. But as he went on,
bearing his burdens, listening to the petty tyrants who may ruthlessly
taunt the man who comes in by the back door, he was aware that he had
full need of much ministration from his new friend, Humility.
In the sitting-room of the Kilgour flat Richard Dodd was telling the
mother that he had made application for a marriage license.
"And I have waited long enough," he declared. "Mother Kilgour, you
must convince Kate that we are to be married within a week."
And he gave the mother a look which made her turn pale and twist her
ringed fingers nervously.
"Kate, what is the use?" she pleaded. "You are acting like a child.
You love Richard. You know you love him. You tell me often that you
love him! Richard is such a dear boy!" She said this fawningly, with
evident intent to placate the sullen young man. Her tone, her air
suggested the nervous embarrassment of a debtor who seeks to put off a
creditor with flattery and fresh promises. "Now be a darling child and
say that we'll have the wedding next week without any fuss or
"I am not ready to get married, and I simply will not be married just
yet," declared the girl, her red lips compressed.
"You don't love me!" complained Dodd.
"I like you, Richard," admitted the girl, frankly, without any
coquettishness. "I have never cared for anybody else. You have been
good to me, except when you were foolish."
"Foolishness--that's what she calls being so much in love with her
that I can't keep my hands off her," said Dodd to the mother. "Mother
Kilgour, you haven't talked to Kate as you should. She doesn't know
what love is."
"Oh, I'll find out all about it, and then we'll be married--when I'm
ready to become a wife," said the girl, with an indulgent smile. "All
at once I'll wake up, just as you have been begging me to do, and then
we'll simply run away and be married and live happily for ever after."
"I don't like this stalling," growled Dodd, brutally.
"I'll leave you two children together," said the mother. "I'm sure
you'll come to an understanding." She went away, showing relief.
"Sit down here on the divan with me, sweetheart," pleaded the young
But without removing her hat she went to the piano and began to play.
"Please come!" he entreated.
She smiled at him over her shoulder and made a pretty /moue/.
Muttering an oath of passion he leaped up, hurried across the room,
and began to kiss her fiercely.
He crushed back with his lips all her protests; standing over her, he
held her upon the piano-bench until by main strength and with all the
force of her resentment she tore away from him.
"And now you are going to blame me because I can't help it," he
"I don't in the least understand why normal persons can find any
pleasure in that kind of folly."
"Is your idea of loving anybody rubbing noses like Eskimos?"
"I'd endure that kind of loving in preference to that kind of kissing,
Richard. That isn't love which you're offering--not the kind of love I
want. I am going out for my walk--you filched it from me. No, I'm
going alone. Go and talk with mamma, if you like."
She escaped the clutch he made and hurried out and to the elevator.
Flushed and angry, Dodd made his way to an inner room where Mrs.
Kilgour was reading a novel, sunning herself with feline indolence.
She put the book by with evident regret.
"Oh, Kate, has so much poise!" she lamented, breaking in on the young
man's complaints. "She is so like her father. No one except myself
could do anything with him at all. Sometime it was very hard for me!
He would set his mind and his teeth! But I always won in the end."
"Well, go ahead and win now," commanded the surly lover. "You are
simply letting this thing run along."
"I know Kate's nature, Richard. It's only a matter of the right time."
He sat down at her feet on the end of the couch.
"The time is here--now!" he told her. "I insist that you make Kate
understand. I have been patient and reasonable for a year. You have
promised me that you will bring everything around all right. Why don't
you do it?"
"But delivering a daughter into marriage isn't like delivering
groceries on order!" Her tone showed a bit of impatience. "Be
"I don't want to say anything to hurt your feelings, but we must get
down to cases. I'm not asking you to deliver anything to me except
what was promised long ago--promised by Kate herself. And you know
what you said when I loaned you five thousand dollars to help you save
those stocks. Excuse me, Mother Kilgour, but I can't always control my
nature; I've been in the game with the bunch for a long time and I'm
naturally suspicious--I have seen a good many chaps trimmed, and I
don't propose to have anything put over on me."
"You are insolent and cruel," she cried, her cheeks pale.
"I don't mean you--I believe you want to help me. But it's time to be
up and doing. She doesn't give me one good reason why she will not be
married right away. It's only jolly and putting it off."
"But you are twitting me about the service you have done me! I am not
selling my daughter!"
"That isn't it at all! But you must agree that I have been good to
you. I want you to be a friend to me. But I don't get anything that's
definite. If this thing drags on and on the first thing I know some
fellow will come along and she'll fall for him. That's the girl
"You are talking about my daughter, Richard! She has her father's
disposition and she is true blue. She has given her promise and she
will keep it."
"When?" he demanded, curtly.
"I can't drive her."
"You said you could," he insisted. "You said a year ago when I
advanced that money that you knew just how to handle her."
"Are you going to keep twitting me about that money?"
"No; only I'm going to say that you haven't even told me about what
stocks you were protecting. You haven't said anything about repaying
the loan, Mother Kilgour. It has been a sort of general stand-off all
around for me. Hold on! I'm not making a holler! But I like to be
taken in right. I'm a Dodd, and I can't help playing to protect
"It will come around all right, Richard. You don't know Kate as I do.
I understand her because I understood her father. She is rather self-
centered. But she is romantic underneath! But you know you're so sort
--sort of--well, just a business man--so matter-of-fact. A girl like
Kate needs to be stirred--her poise shaken--something like that!"
"Lochinvar business, eh?" he sneered.
"It must be something a little bit out of the ordinary to hurry her,
Richard. Go away, please. Let me think. I have an idea. I must spend a
little time on it."
"How much time?"
"Oh, I don't know just how much. Be patient."
"Mrs. Kilgour, if this thing cannot be put through by you I want you
to say so. I'm at the end of that patience you're appealing to. I
won't be fooled."
"You don't need to say that you're Colonel Dodd's nephew," she
retorted. "You have all the family traits."
"Well, there's one I haven't got: I loaned you five thousand dollars
without taking security--and that's the act of a good friend. Excuse
me, but I've got to speak of it--you need a little reminder. Four days
from now I'll have my marriage license from the city clerk. And when I
have it in my hands I shall come to you and shall expect that you'll
do your part."
"I will," she said.
"How? I want plain statements from now on."
"I will write you a letter to-morrow," she faltered. "I will give you
directions what to do. You'd better not come here till--till I have it
all arranged. You know what they say about absence!"
"I know what they say about a good many things. But I want something
"I will tell you in my letter what to do. Then you follow
"I don't like to go into a thing blind. What is the plan?"
"Oh, if I tell you all about it you'll go and do something to spoil
it," she protested, impatiently. "A woman knows about such matters
better than a man does. I will write to you at the State House. Now be
"I'll be going before you preach any more patience to me," he said,
sourly. "I might be provoked into saying something you won't like."
After he had gone she rose and touched up her cheeks.
"The fool! They are all alike," she muttered, viciously. "They pay.
They never forget they have paid. Then they stand with their hand out
--and just remember that they have paid. I am glad I bought this
novel," she added, taking the book from the couch and settling herself
to read. "The woman who wrote it must have known human nature. If the
plan worked in the case of the girl she writes about it ought to work
in the case of Kate. If it doesn't it will be his fault because he has
hurried me so. A poor, persecuted woman can't do everything."
And she applied herself to her recently discovered manual of procedure
in the case of stubbornness in a maid.
FARR HAS A VISION AND CLOSES HIS LIPS
Walker Farr put aside papers upon which he had been working since he
had eaten his modest supper, and pulled on his coat and went forth
into the evening. He strolled up one of the streets in the Eleventh
Ward of Marion, manifestly glad to be out among the people.
He stopped at the curb and hailed the driver of a truck-wagon which
was loaded down with kegs and jugs.
"Marston," he said, when the driver halted, "it's good to see the
noble work going on."
"Yes, and now that the babies aren't dying off so fast old Dodd's
newspapers are claiming that the new filtering-plant is doing all the
"Well, it shows that our work is worth while if they're claiming it,
Marston. But we'll wake up the folks all in good time. Do what we can
for first aid, that's the idea! The people are waking up to what we're
doing. And they are waking up in other places. I took a little run up
state last week. Five other cities are going to try this co-operative
scheme of getting good water to the poor folks until something better
can be done."
"You've got a head on you," commended the driver. "It's a little tough
on tired horses to work at this after a day's trudging on regular
business, but my nags seem to understand what it's all about--honest
they do. I have hauled five hundred gallons this week. But I'd like to
haul old Dodd up to Coosett Lake and drown him, if it wasn't for
spoiling water that the poor folks are drinking."
Farr shook his head and walked on.
He was a rather striking figure for a New England city as he strolled
along. It did not seem to be affectation for this man to wear a frock-
coat without a waistcoat, a flowing black tie setting off his snowy
linen. The attire seemed to belong to his physique and manner.
Women smiled at him in friendly fashion; men gave respectful and
Soon he stepped off the street into a room where a group of men were
waiting for him, so it appeared, because they all rose when he
He called the little meeting to order promptly, informing them that he
would detain them only a short time.
"I rise to make a motion," said a man at one stage of the proceedings.
"There have been so many volunteers in the work and the folks have
been so ready to pay for real water in place of that stuff we get from
the taps, that three hundred dollars have accumulated in the treasury.
We all know that there is just one man who had been responsible for
this whole plan and has given his time and has run about our state and
hasn't charged anything but expenses for doing it all. I move we give
that sum to Mr. Farr--wishing it was more."
The speaker was loudly applauded.
Farr was so quickly on his feet and spoke so promptly that he clipped
the man's last words.
"A moment, my friends, before that motion is seconded." He held up his
hand and checked their protests against what his air told them.
"Because my little plan has succeeded better than I hoped is not due
to me, but to the generous co-operation of good men who have given
their time. We are saving the babies, thank God! But do you know what
else we have done by our hard toil and our devotion? We are propping
up the Consolidated Water Company in this state. Understand me! I am
not attacking that company because it is a corporation. If it were now
making preparations to pipe down to us clean water from the hills I
would gladly go on giving my time to this cause in order to help the
case of the Consolidated. But the men in control are deliberately
shutting their eyes to the real situation. Now that folks aren't
dying, they claim all the credit--when we know the credit is due to
weary men who go on working after their day's toil is over. It isn't
right--it isn't just! My friends, I have got hold of a bigger thing
than I reckoned on when I started out to wake those poison-peddlers
up. Now that we are cleaning up the typhoid, the Consolidated is
simply riding on our backs--refusing to see the real truth. If they
give Marion pure water it will be only at more exorbitant rates,
because the nearest lake is twenty miles away. I'm not an anarchist--I
want to see capital get its just reward. But when a syndicate takes a
franchise from citizens and makes them pay over and over for what was
their own the citizens have a right to rise in self-defense. When we
force the Consolidated to give us what we're paying for--pure water--
they evidently propose to make us pay for what they call our cheek in
asking." He paused for a moment, and his smile succeeded his
earnestness. "I beg your pardon for saying 'we.' I must remember that
I'm still a stranger in this city."
"I'll have to dispute you there," interposed a man. "You're one of us.
And we're going to prove it to you a little later."
"My friends," went on Farr, "until the cities and towns of this state
own their own water-plants and take their own profits they will be
paying double tribute to a merciless crowd."
"But we can't own our plants till the millennium, sir. There's that
five-percent-debt-limit clause in the constitution."
Farr smiled--this time wistfully. "I've--I've had a sort of vision in
regard to that," he said. "I don't dare to explain myself just now,
friends. It may be only a vision--but I think not. I'll not say any
more at present. I did not intend to say as much. What was on my mind
when I got up was this: I will not accept that money in the treasury--
on no account will I take it. Because I believe that strange days are
coming upon us soon in this state--days when we shall need money. Keep
that nest-egg and guard it." He picked up his hat and started for the
door. "The meeting is adjourned," he informed them. He smiled at them
over his shoulder in such a manner that they wondered whether he joked
or was in earnest. "Guard well that money--for the only way my vision
can be realized, I fear, is by turning this state's politics upside
down, and that will be quite a job for a rank outsider fighting
Colonel Symonds Dodd--and fighting without money. Good night!"
Men whom Walker Farr met as he strolled ducked amiable greetings. They
grinned admiringly after him as he passed on.
If a woman asked in regard to him or a stranger in the ward questioned
a native they were informed with gusto that he was "the boy who stood
in City Hall and talked turkey to the mayor and all the bunch, and
said a good word for the poor people, and twisted the tail of the
Consolidated and lost a good job doing it--and that's more than any
alderman would do for those who elected him."
At a street corner children of the poor were dancing around a hurdy-
gurdy. Farr gave the man at the crank a handful of change and told him
to stay there and keep the kiddies happy. Shrill juvenile voices
promptly proclaimed his praises to all the neighborhood, and mothers
and fathers beamed benedictions on him from windows.
He stopped at another street corner where a dozen youths were
congregated. They were heavy-eyed, leering cubs, their hats were
tipped back, and frowzled fore-tops stuck out over their pimply faces
--types of youths whom modest girls avoid hurriedly by detours.
"Boys, folks are writing to the newspapers complaining that young
chaps are insulting girls on the street corners of Marion. But it must
be those high-toned loafers up-town. You're not up to any of that
business down here, of course."
"None of us would ever as much as say 'shoo' to a chicken," protested
one of the group.
"You're Dave Joyce's boy, aren't you?"
"The fifty men he bosses at the ice-house like him because he's
square. Here's a good motto: 'Square with the boys and nice to the
girls.' But keep off the street corners, fellows, or they'll get you
mixed up with some of that masher gang."
The Joyce boy pulled his hat forward and marshaled the retreat from
"Naw, he ain't no candidate, nuther," he informed his associates when
they were out of hearing. "He ain't canvassing for no votes. My old
man says he ain't. He ain't a four-flusher. He's the guy that stood
for the poor folks up at City Hall and doped out the spring-water
At the side of a street where traffic raged to and from the city's
Union Station Farr came upon two shriveled old ladies who were
teetering on the curbstones, waiting tremulously for an opportunity to
cross. They put down into the roaring street first one apprehensive
foot and then another, like children trying chilly water. The big
fellow offered an arm to each and led them safely across.
"You're a real knight-errant, sir," squeaked one of the two, looking
up into the kindly face.
He laughed, doffed the broad-brimmed hat with a low bow, and strolled
on his way.
"Knight-errant," he muttered, still smiling. "Guess not. They don't
have 'em these days. The stories about 'em read well. Wonder what kind
of a feeling it was that started those boys off on the hike! Perhaps
there wasn't enough doing in politics. It must have been a fine game,
though, rescuing distressed damsels. And all for love and not for
A poster in the window of an empty store caught his eye just then. It
advertised a woman's-suffrage rally.
"The girls would paint rally signs on a knight's tin suit these days
and send him off on an advertising trip," was his whimsical
At that moment, with this thought of knight in armor in his mind, he
was attracted by a flare of red fire in a blacksmith shop located just
off the street. The one worker in the place was revealed by the forge
fire. The glow lighted the features of the man. There was no mistaking
him--it was Friend Jared Chick. And Farr turned off the street and
went into the shop and greeted his one-time traveling companion.
"How does thee do?" replied Jared Chick, quietly, his Quaker calm
undisturbed. He drew forth a white-hot iron and deftly hammered it
into a circle around the snout of the anvil.
"So you have given up knight-errantry and have gone back to the old
job, have you, Friend Chick?"
"No. This is a part of my service. The man who owns this shop is a
good man who works hard here all day. And after he has gone home he
allows me to work here in the evening."
He pounded away industriously and Farr walked up to the anvil to
inspect the nature of the work, for the iron rod was assuming queer
"A new kind of armor, Friend Chick?"
If there was a bit of sarcasm in Farr's tone the Quaker paid no
"No," he said, quietly and meekly, "this is a brace for the leg of a
little lame boy. I have found many children in this city who cannot
walk. Their parents are too poor to buy braces. So I come here nights,
when the good man is away from the forge, and I make braces and carry
them with my blessing. I have some knack with the hammer. I hope to
find other ways of doing my bit of good."
"I beg your pardon, Friend Chick," said Farr, a catch in his voice. "I
will not bother you in your work. Good night!"
"Good night to thee!" said the Quaker, swinging at the bellows arm.
Farr went back upon the street, his head bowed. "We all have our own
way of doing it," he pondered, contritely.
He met a man and greeted him with a friendly handclasp. It was Citizen
Drew, that elderly man with the earnest face.
And as he had in the past, he turned, caught step with Farr, and they
Their stroll took them into the broader avenues of up-town.
As they talked, Farr caught side glances from his companion. The
glances were a bit inquisitive.
"Well, Citizen Drew," asked the young man, "what is on your mind this
"Since I have known you and studied you I have been thinking that you
have the spirit of knight-errantry in you," stated Citizen Drew.
Farr laughed boyishly.
"Two very nice old ladies have just got ahead of you with that
accusation, my friend."
"Laugh if you feel like it. But there are so few men who can do
anything unselfishly in these days that when a chap like you does come
along he gets noticed--at any rate, I notice him." He stopped dealing
in side glances and stared at Farr fully and frankly. "Other men who
would do the things you are doing so quietly in this state have been
playing politics--and I have made it my business to watch politicians.
And as soon as men have been elected to office by fooling the people--
well, those men have simply been set into the Big Machine as new cogs.
Are you like the rest, Mr. Farr? Nobody knows where you came from.
Everybody who sees you knows you're above the jobs you have been
working at. They're talking you up for alderman in our ward. But we
have been fooled so many times!"
Farr replied to this wistful inquisition in a way there was no
"I am not a candidate for anything, Citizen Drew. And I'll tell you
how I can prove I am not. I am not a voter here. I have intentionally
failed to have myself registered. Whenever you hear another man
talking me up for office you tell him that. Therefore, it makes no
difference to anybody where I came from or what job I work at."
Citizen Drew accepted the rebuke humbly and walked on in silence.