Part 6 out of 7
"I don't like it, but I suppose I've got to be decent in the matter."
"But if Governor Harwood is renominated at the convention I will
concede a point on my part and will marry you at once, taking it for
granted that you will be able to clear yourself. In that way both of
us are making concessions--and such things should be considered in a
bargain." She was coldly polite.
He bowed, not knowing exactly what reply to make to her.
"You have accused me of trifling in the past," she continued. "I will
now try to show you that I can conduct straight business as it should
be handled. Shall I make a memo of our agreement and hand it to you?"
"There is no need of it," he stammered.
"Thank you, Mr. Dodd. And now that the matter has been settled to our
mutual satisfaction, I will ask you to go. I think my mother needs my
attention. And I am reminded that our bargain does not dispose of the
fact that my mother owes you five thousand dollars. I will reflect on
how that debt may be paid--by insurance"--her face grew whiter still--
"or by some arrangement."
"I wish you wouldn't say such--" But she interrupted him.
"On my part, this is strictly business, Mr. Dodd, and I must consider
all sides. I will give the money matter careful thought. I'm sure we
can arrange it. I have merely bought my mother's good name with
He stumbled out of the room and went on his way.
"Mother, you and I have some long, long thoughts to busy ourselves
with before we attempt to talk to each other," said the girl when the
two were alone. "I am going to my room. Please do not disturb me until
For an hour Kate Kilgour was a girl once more, sobbing her heart out
against her pillow, stretched upon her bed in abandon of woe, torn by
the bitter knowledge that she was alone in her pitiful fight. She was
more frank with herself in her sorrow than she ever had been before.
She owned to her heart that a few days before even a mother's
desperate plight would hardly have won such a sacrifice as she had
She was ready to own that she loved that tall young man of mystery
whose face had refuted the suspicion that he was a mere vagrant. It
was strange--it was unaccountable. But she had ceased to wonder at the
vagaries of love. In her prostration of mental energies and of hope
she confessed to herself that she had loved him.
But now between his face and hers, as she shut her eyes and reproduced
his features, limned in her memory, those fiery words danced--there
was a "play-mamma" who with him had loved the little girl named
Checking her sobs, she sighed, and her heart surrendered him.
Her sacrifice had been made both easier and yet more difficult.
Then she snuggled close to her pillows and gazed out into the
gathering night, and pondered on the fact that if Walker Farr won his
fight in the state convention that victory put an end to her poor
little truce in the matter of Richard Dodd.
Then she was sure that she had put Walker Farr out of her heart for
ever, because she found herself hoping that he would win. The girl had
not yet grown into full knowledge of the dynamics of a true and
unselfish love--she did not fully know herself.
A DICKER FOR A MAN'S SOUL
The populace came first and packed solidly into the galleries of the
great auditorium of Marion city.
For years the state conventions of the dominant party had attracted
but little public attention. They had been simple affairs of routine,
indorsing the men and the principles of the Big Machine. The next
governor had been groomed and announced to the patient people long
months before the date of the convention; platforms protecting the
interests were glued placidly and secretly and brought forth from the
star chamber to be admired; and no delegate was expected or allowed to
joggle a plank or nick the smooth varnish which had been smoothed over
But this year came all the people who could pack themselves into
galleries and aisles.
Below on the main floor were more than two thousand delegates. Every
town and city sent the full number accredited. After these men had
been seated the men and women who thronged the corridors and stairways
were allowed to enter and stand in the rear of the great hall.
Strange stories, rumors, predictions, had been running from lip to lip
all over the big commonwealth. It was reported that the throne of the
tyrant was menaced at last by rebellion which was not mere vaporings
of the restless and resentful; organized revolt had appeared, marching
in grim silence, not revealing all its strength, and therefore all the
A military band brayed music unceasingly into the high arches of the
hall. The music served as obbligato for the mighty diapason of men's
voices; the thousands talked as they waited.
The broad platform of the stage was untenanted. The speakers, the
chairman, the clerks, the members of the state committee, did not
appear, though the hour named as the time of calling the meeting to
order arrived and passed.
In an anteroom, so far removed from the main hall that only the dull
rumble of voices and the shredded echoes of the blaring music reached
there, was assembled the state's oligarchy awaiting the pleasure of
Colonel Symonds Dodd.
He sat in a big chair, his squat figure crowding its confines.
The state committee and the rest of his entourage were gathered about
There was a committeeman from every county in the state--the men who
formed the motive cogs of his machine.
One after the other they had reported to him.
And each time a man finished talking the colonel drove a solid fist
down on the arm of the chair and roared: "I say again I don't believe
it's as bad as you figure it. It can't be as bad. Do you tell me that
this party is going to be turned upside down by a kid-glove aristocrat
who has hardly stirred out of his office during this campaign?"
"He has had a chap to do his stirring for him," stated one of the
"A hobo, scum of the rough-scruff, hailing from nowhere! Shown up in
our newspapers as a ditch-digger--a fly-by-night--a nobody! I'm
ashamed of this state committee, coming here and telling me that he
has been allowed to influence anybody."
"Colonel Dodd, what I'm going to say to you may not sound like
politics as we usually talk it," declared a committeeman, a gray-
haired and spectacled person who had the grave mien of a student, "and
it is not admitted very often by regular politicians who run with the
machine. But we are up against something which has happened in this
queer old world of ours a good many times. We have had the best
organization here in this state that a machine ever put together. But
in American politics it's always just when the machine is running best
that something happens. Something is dropped into the gear, and it's
usually done by the last man you'd expect to do it. The fellows who
are tending the machine are too busy watching that part of the crowd
they think is dangerous, and then the inconspicuous chap slips one
"I don't want any lecture on politics," snapped the boss. "Do you mean
to insinuate that that low-lived Farr has put /this/ over on /us/?"
"I have hunted to the bottom of things and I do say so, Colonel Dodd."
"How in blazes did that fellow ever get any influence? I haven't been
able to believe that he has been accomplishing anything."
"You ought to have listened a little more closely to us, Colonel,"
insisted the committeeman. "Every once in a while there comes forward
a man whom the people will follow. And he is never the rich man nor
the proud man, but he is one who knows how to reach the hearts of the
crowd. A shrewd politician can get power by building up his machine.
And then some fellow in overalls who has some kind of a God-given
quality that has never been explained yet so that we can understand,
smashes into sight like a comet. It may be his way of talking to men,
it may be his personality--it is more likely a divine spark in him
that neither he himself nor other men understand. But every now and
again some humble chap like that has changed the history of the world,
and I reckon it's pretty easy for such a man to change the politics of
a mere state."
His associates were staring at him and Colonel Dodd was giving him
furious glances. He had spoken with enthusiasm. He broke off suddenly.
"I beg your pardon. I don't mean to go quite so far. But I'm a student
of history and I've read a lot about natural-born leaders."
"You evidently know more about history than you do about politics,"
growled the colonel. "This whole state committee doesn't seem to know
much politics. If you have allowed that Farr to slime his way around
under cover and do you up in your own counties, I'll see to it that we
have a new state committee."
"I have an idea that that convention out there will attend to the
matter of a new state committee for us."
The new speaker's voice was very soft. His nickname in state politics
was "Whispering Saunders." He was known as being the most artistic
political "pussy-foot" in the party. It was averred that he could put
on rubber boots and run twice around the State House on a fresh fall
of light snow and not leave a track.
"If I'm any kind of a smeller--and I reckon it's admitted that I am,"
purred Saunders, "we are walloped before the start-off in every county
delegation out on that floor."
"But what has been the matter with you fellows all the time?" blazed
the boss. "Up to now you have been reporting simply that the soreheads
were growling and were not getting together so as to be dangerous."
"Did you ever try to shovel up soft soap from a cellar floor with a
knitting-needle?" inquired the politician. "That's how it's been in
this case. Every man I talked with was slippery. I know slippery times
when I see 'em. I've been afraid, but I hoped for the best. Now that
they are here, with this convention due to be called to order, they
are not slippery any longer. They don't need to be. I've just been
through the convention hall. They are out and open--and they're
"That Farr has a proxy from a delegate in the Eleventh Ward and is on
the floor," stated another.
"But he isn't a voter."
"He wasn't a little while ago, but he is to-day, Colonel. The board of
registration had to put his name on the books--he has lived here long
enough to become a voter."
Colonel Dodd glared from face to face. It was plain that he was
angered rather than dismayed; he was like a bull at bay, shaking the
pricking darts out of his shoulders. He took a hasty glance at his
watch. 'Twas twenty minutes past the hour appointed for the calling of
the convention. He could hear the distant band still bellowing bravely
to kill time.
A giant of a man stood up--a cool man, rather cynical. He was the
chairman of the state committee.
"I have been waiting till all these gentlemen got the panic worked out
of their systems--or, at least, had said all they could think of about
that panic, Colonel. Now we can go ahead and do real business. We have
not had a battle in this state for a long time, and this panic may be
excusable. They say that the men who are the worst frightened before
the battle do the best fighting after they get into the real scrap. I
will admit that the situation in the state has been a little slippery,
as Saunders has said. And some men have dared to do a lot of loud
talking since they have arrived here in this city. It is so strange a
thing that it has got everybody in a panic. The Chinese are wise--they
show dragons to the enemy, but the dragons are only paper. Wouldn't
think the enemy could be scared that way, eh? But look at this bunch
of state committeemen! A pasteboard 'natural-born leader' set up, and
Archer Converse puffing smoke through the nostrils of that effigy!
Gentlemen, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves!"
Colonel Dodd snorted emphatic approval.
"You are talking like children. Guff and growls can't carry this
convention. That crowd hasn't even got a candidate for governor. Have
you heard one mentioned?"
"I don't suppose they would dare to go as far as that," said one of
the committeemen. "Governor Harwood, by party usage, is entitled to a
renomination, of course. What they figure on is a new state committee
and a platform that will include reforms."
"Huh! Yes! So much striped candy! Give it to 'em. Then we've got only
twenty-four men to handle in the way we have always handled state
committees--and even that crowd can't find saints and archangels for
their candidates! And as for a political platform--bah!"
It was the practical politician's caustic estimate of conditions.
Then the chairman joined in, bolstering this supercilious view: "As
for that legislature--how many bills were ever passed in our
legislature over a governor's veto after we had got in our work? We
are going to have a safe man for governor. That band's lungs won't
last for ever. Colonel Dodd, are you ready?"
If revolt and the spirit of resentment and rebellion did exist in that
assemblage, which the magnates of the party faced when they marched
upon the platform, the tumult of applause covered all sinister outward
aspects. The routine of the convention was entered upon: the secretary
read the convention call, the organization was perfected without
protest, and the orator of the day, as president pro tem, a
conservative United States Senator, began his "key-note speech." It
was a document which had been in proof slips for a week, and which all
the party workers from Colonel Dodd down had read and approved.
Therefore, when Richard Dodd entered from one of the side doors and
came tiptoeing across the platform and touched the colonel's arm and
jerked energetic request for the colonel to follow, the colonel
followed, glad of an excuse to be absent while the Senator fulminated.
Young Dodd's face was flushed and working with excitement. He hurried
his uncle into a small retiring-room and locked the door.
"I've got your man, uncle," he declared.
"What man?" The colonel was grouchy and indifferent.
"Your man Farr."
"I don't claim him."
"But you said you wanted him. You said you wanted to hang him like a
dead crow in the political bean-patch."
"Merely momentary insanity on my part, Richard. There seems to have
been a little run of it in this state, and when Judge Warren caught it
and gave it to me I talked like a fool, I suppose. But you must
remember that a polecat can give the most level-headed man an almighty
start--and then the level-headed man walks out around the polecat and
goes on his way very calmly."
"But don't you consider that Farr is a dangerous man?"
The colonel held up his pudgy hand and snapped a finger into his palm.
"He amounts to that in front of the muzzle of a ten-inch gun."
"But I went ahead after what you said. I have put out time and money.
I hired a detective. I figured I was doing a good job for the
machine." Young Dodd's voice trembled and disappointment was etched
into his anxious features.
"Well, what have you found out?"
"I can't tell you. It's another man's secret, and he's got to have
cash or a guaranty before he'll come across with it."
"What's the price?"
Richard Dodd exhibited confusion and hesitation. "I made some promises
to him, uncle, because I know what has been paid in the past for
things which didn't seem to be as important as this--judging from the
way you and the judge talked. So I--well, I--"
"Price, price, I say! I'm used to hearing money talked," harked the
colonel. "I've got to get back into that convention. Out with it!" He
made two steps toward the door.
"Five thousand!" blurted the young man.
Colonel Dodd whirled and whipped off his eye-glasses so as to give his
nephew the full effect of his contemptuous fury.
"Why, you young lunatic, I wouldn't pay that price if they were going
to elect Farr the governor of this state, and make him a present of
the Consolidated, and you could bring proof that he is the
reincarnation of Judas Iscariot."
A roar of voices and a thunder of thudding feet announced that the
Senator had finished.
Colonel Dodd hurried away.
The nephew found Detective Mullaney in the alley behind the
auditorium, and the young man's air of discomfiture and the sagging
shake of his head told the story of his errand without words.
"If they're getting too mean in their old age to hand me a fair price
for a good job then let 'em get licked," declared the detective. "You
stuck to our original figure of five hundred dollars, didn't you?"
The young man looked over the detective's head and lied. "Five
hundred--that's what I told him."
"And he wouldn't consider it?"
"Something has braced him so that he isn't afraid of the man any
longer. Perhaps he has got a line of his own on him. It doesn't seem
to be worth anything any longer. Suppose you tell me just who he is
and what about him?"
"Not on your life!" retorted Detective Mullaney, sharply. "I ain't
saying anything against your family, of course, but when I give a Dodd
something for nothing--even a hint--it will be when I'm talking in my
sleep and don't know it. But I'll tell you what I /will/ do. Give me
my two hundred and fifty and I'll hand you the whole proposition and
you may go ahead and make what you can of it. I swear to you again
that I've got it on him. Seeing what he did to /you/, you ought to
feel that the story is worth that much of a gamble even for private
Dodd hesitated, put his hand in his pocket--then withdrew it empty.
"No, Mullaney. What's the good? He says Farr isn't dangerous, and has
turned down the whole thing flat. I may as well keep my money. If you
want to sit on the platform, come along with me. I can find a place
Detective Mullaney followed willingly, for he knew that people were
fairly piling over one another in an attempt to get into the hall by
the main entrance.
He sat down in one of the square chairs on the platform and searched
with his sharp little eyes until he found the face of Walker Farr in
the terraced rows of humanity. It was not difficult to locate him, for
his physique made him loom among other men and he was posted under the
banner which marked the location of Moosac County.
The detective found the eyes of the young man directed toward the
gallery with such intentness and for so long a time that he endeavored
to trace that earnest scrutiny to its object. The detective was not
exactly certain, but he finally picked out a very handsome young lady
who occupied a front chair in the balcony; she seemed to be returning
the young man's intent regard.
"You have the reputation of knowing all the pretty girls in the
state," whispered Mullaney, drawing Dodd's attention with a nudge.
"Who is that up there in the gallery, front row, fifth from the aisle;
blue feather, and so handsome she hurts my eyes?"
To have his attention drawn thus rudely to the one girl in all the
world gave Dodd a sensation which he did not relish--and his face
showed his astonished resentment.
"That is Miss Kilgour, who used to be my uncle's secretary. Why do you
want to know who she is?"
"Because there seems to be something very especial on between her and
the man we thought was worth five hundred dollars to us."
"That young lady, Mr. Mullaney, is engaged to me," stated Dodd,
acridly. "You'd better drop the topic."
But he did not display either the joy or the pride of the accepted
suitor as he looked up at her.
"I'll simply say that you're a mighty lucky chap and I congratulate
you," returned Mr. Mullaney, hiding his confusion by getting very busy
with newspaper clippings and papers which he drew from his breast
The detective was wholly unconscious of the irony of that remark. But
it brought a flush of shame to Dodd's cheek, for the sorrow and sting
and ignominy of that part which he had played had not departed from
his soul nor did even the fervor of his passion for her help him
forgive himself; he stared at her guiltily as the thief gloats over
his loot and is conscious of his degradation without feeling
sufficient contrition to give up the object he has stolen.
For he remembered with fresh and poignant recollection the
circumstances under which that girl had given her promise to him so
recently: she had stood over a mother who had abased herself before
them, had cast herself down and had writhed and screamed and implored
her to consent; and the mother was driven to do this by the lash of
his threats. He had stood there and demanded, and the woman on the
floor had confessed her frailty, owned to her misdeeds, acknowledged
her debt, and had frantically begged her daughter to sacrifice
The girl had given her "Yes," paying the debt with herself; but her
eyes had been wide and dry and her face was white and set and she had
looked past the man to whom she promised herself when she had murmured
Dodd swept cold sweat from his forehead as he remembered; he found
almost the same expression now on her face as she gazed down on Walker
Farr, who stared back at her anxiously, perceiving a grief that he
could not understand.
In that vast assemblage those three, thus wordlessly, no one marking
them, fought a tragic battle of hopeless love with their eyes.
Detective Mullaney pored over his papers. "By gad," he mused, "I
haven't kept my books all this time for nothing. I know my card. I've
got him right--it's dead open and shut. But I swear he doesn't look
the part he played, even if the description does fit him. Well, law is
law! If I can't sell him to Symonds Dodd, I'll find out how much those
will pay who do want him."
The routine of the great convention had been proceeding.
"And the gentleman from Danton, Mr. Gray, moves that we do now proceed
with the nomination of a candidate for governor," intoned the chairman
in sing-song tones.
THE MAN WHO WAS NOT AFRAID
One after the other, dignified and decorous, three men of the Big
Machine, representing three of the large counties of the state, came
upon the platform and put in nomination the name of Governor Harwood
to succeed himself.
These speakers had been carefully selected. They were elderly
gentlemen whose reputations, tones, and demeanor bespoke safe and sane
conservatism. They took occasion to rebuke the new spirit of unrest in
the old party, and their tremolo notes of protest were extremely
effective. While these men talked, a listener was compelled to feel
that rebellion against the established order of things could only be
rank sedition; for many years have these arts of oratory been employed
to appeal to the average man's party loyalty; voters have listened and
have been ashamed to revolt--as a son dutifully bows his head under a
father's reprimand and responds to a father's appeal--for, after all,
in matters where appeal is made to loyalty the human emotions are not
so very complex.
The elderly gentlemen put great stress on the fact that not in twenty
years had a faithful governor been refused the honor of renomination
for a second term. Would their convention deny that compliment to
Governor Harwood? It was the same appeal that had been made for
twoscore years in order to perpetuate the dynasty of gubernatorial
figureheads who had obeyed the ring's orders.
Walker Farr heard /sotto voce/ murmurings of men in his vicinity. They
were men who had joined the new revolt and had stood bravely enough
for a change in county political managers. But these men revealed that
they were timorous about altering long party custom. They said, one to
another, that it would be going too far to refuse renomination to
Governor Harwood. It might split their party so widely that the rival
political party would be able to carry the state--and that would never
Farr was in no wise surprised to hear these murmurings.
He had sounded men before that convention as he had traveled about the
He had found them ready to begin house-cleaning in the smaller affairs
of county management, and by assault on the little wheels of the gear
of the machine which had so long ground political grist; but they were
unwilling to temp fate by venturing on such a general overturn as
putting up for governor a man who had not been selected and groomed
for high office during the accustomed term of apprenticeship--
legislature, senate, and council.
He realized how well the great ring had intrenched itself in absolute
power by appealing to conservatism in matters of safe men for high
office. Safe men meant those who protected the big interests and saw
that no raids were made on capital--no matter how many abuses capital
might be fostering.
Mumble and grumble all about him, and men's faces showing that they
were agreeing with the tremolo appeals of the elderly orators!
Even the Honorable Archer Converse, his legal cautiousness governing
his opinion, knowing the temper of conditions in his state, had
emphatically discouraged Farr when the young man had timidly
questioned him in regard to the advisability of securing a candidate
for governor outside the ring's dynasty.
Mr. Converse's discouragement of such hopes would have been even more
emphatic had he ever dreamed that this apostle whom he had sent out
into the field was coddling the audacious hope that Mr. Converse
himself by some miracle might be put into the governor's chair.
The orators proceeded, one after the other. They were applauded. They
Walker Farr was oppressed by the lugubrious conviction that he was the
only man in that great assemblage who felt enough of the zealot's fire
to be willing to put all his hopes to the test.
He looked at the faces on the platform. There sat Colonel Dodd,
wearing his expression assumed for that day and date--smug political
His henchmen winged out to right and left of him. They represented
finance and respectability.
Sometimes political rebels will gallantly and audaciously venture when
they rail behind the backs of their leaders; but when those leaders
appear and fill the foreground with their personalities the rebels
subside; they are impressed by the men whom they behold. They defer,
even when they are stung by knowledge of their leaders' principles.
Colonel Dodd and those with him were the accredited leaders.
Delegates glared, but were cowed and silent.
Farr pondered. Perhaps the advice of Mr. Converse was best:
"Take what we can get in our first skirmish. Keep it for the nucleus
of what we hope to get later. If we put all to the test in our first
fight against forces that have been in power for all the years and
lose, then the cause gets a setback which may discourage our men for
And Mr. Converse, having so declared, had remained away from the
convention that day, feeling that no more was to be gained.
"And I move you, Mr. Chairman," called a voice, "that the nominations
for governor do now close."
This had been the custom in the past.
It was not in the minds of that convention that another candidate
would be put forward. Governor Harwood was waiting in an anteroom,
thumbing the leaves of his speech, and all the delegates knew it. All
desired to expedite matters, nominate by acclamation, hear the
inevitable speech, and go home.
"One moment before that motion is seconded!"
The voice was so loud, so clear, so dominant, so ringing, that the
effect on the convention was as galvanically intense as if somebody
had blown upon a bugle.
Walker Farr had risen to his feet.
Colonel Dodd set his curved palm at his mouth and from behind the
chairman shot a few words at the presiding officer as one might shoot
pellets from a bean-shooter. The chairman scowled impatiently at Farr,
and a delegate among those who watched eagerly for signals from the
throne rose half-way to his feet and bellowed, "Question!" The cry was
taken up by other delegates, just as the unthinking mob follows a
Farr climbed upon a settee. He stood there, silent and waiting, and
his expression, poise, and mien wrought for him more effectively than
He towered over all the heads. He was markedly not one of those New-
Englanders there assembled. His mass of dark-brown hair, his garb, the
very set of his head on his shoulders, differed from the physical
attributes of all others in the hall. And, as the delegates continued
to shout for the question to be put, he turned slowly so that his
expression of dignified and mild protest and appeal was visible to
all. And as he turned he gave the girl in the gallery a long look.
The chairman pounded with his gavel.
"I second the motion," called a delegate, taking advantage of the
first moment of silence.
There was another roaring chorus of, "Question!"
But Walker Farr remained standing on the settee, waiting patiently. He
showed no confusion. There was added dignity as well as appeal in his
attitude and expression.
"Before that vote is taken I want to say one word as a man to men,"
shouted a delegate. "It's plain to be seen that that man standing
there is a gentleman. We are sent here to attend a meeting for the
good of our party. If, as delegates, we refuse to listen to a
gentleman because we're in too much of a hurry, we'd ought to be
ashamed of ourselves. If, on the other hand, we're /afraid/ to listen
to him, whatever it is he wants to say, then God save this party of
That was a sentiment which promptly struck fire in that assemblage.
There before their eyes stood the subject of that challenge, stalwart,
modest, appealing silently--the sort of appeal which won.
The galleries broke into applause first. Then the delegates took up
the demonstration in behalf of fair play. They beat their hands and
pounded their feet. The applause from the galleries had more or less
of rebuke in it, because it began while the challenger's voice still
echoed in the great hall.
The chairman's gavel thumped ferociously.
Colonel Dodd cursed under his breath. He had been on the trail of that
convention, its movements, its progress, as a hound dog would follow
the trail of a fox. He had seen it safely headed for the corner where
it would be run to earth. He detected sudden peril in this threat of a
"Good Jericho!" gasped a committeeman near him. "The chairman ain't
letting this convention get away from him, is he?"
It was natural alarm in the case of a man who feared to allow any
expression in a convention except such as had been arranged for
previously and had been passed upon by those in power.
"This isn't the kind of convention that will get away!" hissed the
colonel in reply, bolstering his own convictions that all was safely
harnessed. "But I don't want any fooling."
He caught the eye of his nephew and summoned him with an impatient
jerk of the head.
Richard Dodd hastened across the platform and bent his ear close to
his uncle's mouth--the colonel pulling him down.
"If your man can stop that fool now--quick--for five hundred dollars,
Young Dodd gulped. He needed five thousand dollars!
"He won't consider less than I told you."
"Well, let the idiot talk to us--he can't do any harm."
The colonel pushed his nephew away. In spite of that applause he still
half expected that the convention would close the nominations. What
else was there to do?
"The vote is upon the motion to close the nominations for governor,"
stated the chairman. "Those in favor will say 'Aye!'"
Every delegate in that hall was looking at Farr. They were staring at
him with curiosity and interest. But even curiosity does not always
prompt politicians to open a convention to a person who may prove to
be a bomb that will upset plans and precedent.
Then Farr gave them that wonderful smile!
The "Ayes" were scattered and sporadic! Men did not relish shutting
off a chap who stood there and smiled upon them in that fashion.
At the call for the "Noes" a bellow of voices shook the hall.
The convention had given this stranger permission to speak by that
refusal to subscribe to the cut-and-dried plans. Colonel Dodd was no
longer smug. He scowled ferociously.
"Gentlemen of the convention, I am grateful," cried Walker Farr. "And
I will not abuse your patience."
"Platform--take the platform!" called many of the delegates.
He smiled and shook his head. "Let me talk to you standing here where
I can look into your eyes, gentlemen. I feel pretty much alone in this
convention. I /am/ alone! I represent no faction, no interest except
the cause of the humble who have asked for help from the masters who
have been set over them. Perhaps I ought to have remained silent here
to-day. My cowardice has been prompting me to keep still. It is no
easy matter for me to stand up here and disturb the order of events
which had been arranged by the gentlemen who have managed your public
affairs for you so many years. But it would be much more difficult for
some of the others here to speak, because the gentlemen who manage
politics have methods by which they can discredit a man in his
profession, ruin him in his business, stop his credit at banks and in
other ways make him pay dearly for his boldness in speech. I have no
money in banks, no business which can be ruined."
"I rise to a point of order!" shouted a delegate, obeying a nod from
the stage. "The business in hand is the nomination of a governor."
"That is my business," stated Farr, calmly.
With political scent sharpened by his apprehension, Colonel Dodd
narrowed his eyes, sat straight in his chair, and desperately
endeavored to fathom the intentions of this rank outsider.
In spite of his bluster to the state committee he was worried. He had
not felt comfortable since his conference with Judge Ambrose Warren.
He did not like the "feel" of political conditions. There was some
indefinable slipperiness about matters.
He could not bring himself to consider the impossible idea that the
convention would bolt--would run amuck, no matter who addressed it--no
matter what contingency arose. But to have the convention even
tolerate this brazen interloper troubled his sense of mastery; the
convention had been too ready to permit the stranger to speak. It
wasn't politics as the colonel had been accustomed to play the game.
And this--this man from nowhere--it was preposterous!
He snapped his head around and found his nephew close behind him.
"You young whelp," gritted Colonel Dodd, visiting his anger on the
nearest object, "where's your political loyalty? This isn't any time
to drive bargains. If you can stop that fellow hustle and do it."
"It's another man's secret, I tell you. I've got to buy it."
"I'll make it a thousand."
Young Dodd's face was white, but he knew how desperate his case was
and how vitally necessary it was to play his cards as he held them.
"I gave you final figures," he whispered.
"Where is that man? Let me deal with him."
"It must be done through me."
"If you wasn't my nephew I'd think this was blackmail."
Young Dodd stepped back to avoid the glare in his uncle's eyes.
The colonel turned away and listened. Farr's voice was raised now in
"The idea of my letting myself get rattled by a crack-brained
demagogue," muttered the colonel. He had been fondling the outside of
his coat furtively, locating his check-book. Now he took his hand
"It is well to respect service and to show courtesy, gentlemen. I have
listened with interest to the eulogies which have been given Governor
Harwood. He is, without doubt, an amiable gentleman. But let me tell
you that the next legislature is going to be asked to pass a law which
will be a club with which the people will rap the knuckles of Greed
till that unholy clutch on the water systems of this state will be
loosened for ever."
The delegates stared at him for a few seconds when he paused, and then
a tumult of applause greeted his utterance.
"I ask you, gentlemen, whether Governor Harwood--and you know him well
and how he has been chosen--will ever sign a bill that will take
profit from the hands of his political makers even to give that profit
to the people who are the rightful owners?"
This time men were silent, but he knew what they thought from the
manner in which they looked at him.
"I do not need to tell you that the veto of a bill by a governor
means, in most cases, its death. Gentlemen, it would be polite and
kind and gracious of you to bow low here to-day and hand up the
nomination to the amiable Governor Harwood. But with the conditions as
they are in this state are you going to be polite, merely, while the
hearses are rumbling down your streets? I have no way of knowing how
many of you into whose eyes I am looking have seen death enter your
own homes from the taps of this much-promising, little-accomplishing
water syndicate. But if you have seen death touch your loved ones, or
if you go home from here and behold fever ravaging your community, it
will be poor consolation to your soul to remember that at least you
were polite to an amiable man who desired the honor of a
The faces of the convention showed that this blunt yet shrewd appeal
to the individual antagonism of men had produced profound effect.
"But that is only one feature of what this state demands and needs,
gentlemen," was Farr's ringing declaration. "This struggle for pure
water has opened a broad avenue. The towns and cities of this state
must take back into their own hands the properties and franchises
which have been mismanaged by the men to whose hands unwise gift by
the people has intrusted the people's own. We need a man in the Big
Chair of State who will stand with the people in this crusade!"
This amazing declaration in open convention produced as much
consternation on the platform as if Farr had dropped a bomb there.
He uttered something which was worse than mere political rebellion: he
was proposing to take for the people properties which constituted the
backbone of the oligarchy's power in state affairs.
Colonel Dodd had been growling behind the chairman, angrily
endeavoring to get the ear of that gentleman. But the chairman seemed
to be as wholly absorbed by this astonishing arraignment as were the
The head of the state machine, for the first time in his career, was
compelled to come into the open instead of through the mouth of a
lieutenant. He could not wait to give orders.
He rose and stamped to the front of the platform. His voice rang
hoarse and loud.
"There can be no more of this unparliamentary and irregular nonsense.
What has got into this convention? Don't you understand that no
speaker is allowed to break the rules and attack a man under guise of
nominating another? Mr. Chairman, I demand that this slanderer be
removed from the hall and that we proceed to the nomination of a
There was a hush during which Farr and Colonel Dodd looked at each
other, crossing their stares like long rapiers over the terraced
"I fear I was wrong," confessed Farr, gently. "But we poor folks down
in the ranks don't know much about the rules, and when we are
struggling to save the ones we love we are apt to forget and talk to
the heart of things. I am not trying to show that I am a skilful
orator, gentlemen of the convention." He held up his arms. "I am
crying for /Justice/!"
The delegates broke into applause once more.
And Walker Farr sent a queer look straight into the eyes of the
Conviction slapped Colonel Symonds Dodd in his mental face with a
violence that made him blink!
This man was no amateur in understanding how to sway an audience. To
be sure, he had transgressed parliamentary usage, but in those words
he had driven home facts that all knew to be truths--truths which
others had been afraid to voice, but which, once put into words in
public, tied the hideous stamp of ring favoritism upon Governor
Harwood, made him a candidate who could not be trusted.
The colonel understood, and he also saw plainly that the most of the
audience had accepted the apology, and held no prejudice against the
"Now that I understand what the rules governing nominations are I will
not break them again," declared Farr.
But like a shrewd and not over-scrupulous lawyer he had jabbed into
the proceedings a stinging truth which, though excluded by the rules,
nevertheless served vitally the big purpose of his efforts; the
colonel understood that, too, and turned back to his chair fairly
livid with rage.
"There is a man in this state who knows true law," continued the
speaker, "and that you may be assured that he will sign a bill which
is passed for the good of the people, let me tell you a little about
Colonel Dodd cursed without trying to moderate his tones very much.
"There's no telling what tack that renegade will take next. This
infernal convention is getting to be a nightmare. Those fools out
there are listening as if they expected that cheap demagogue to bring
'em a new Messiah," he told the committeemen near him.
"There's a funny noise going on out there among 'em," ventured
"Whispering Saunders." "Round-up fellows say they hear something like
it when a herd is getting ready to stampede. It's the same thing in a
political convention sometimes. The reason for it is: the crowd is
ripe and the head steer gives the right bellow--and off they go!"
Colonel Dodd grabbed his nephew by the elbow and rushed him off the
stage and into an anteroom.
"Is that matter on the hair-trigger, Richard?" he demanded.
"It's ready to be snapped any minute."
The colonel whipped out his check-book and began to write. "It's as
old Saunders said," he muttered as he wrote. "And we've got to rope,
throw, and tie that one steer."
The check was for five thousand dollars!
Young Dodd seized it, and when his uncle hurried back upon the stage
the nephew, through the door which was left open, beckoned to
Mullaney. The detective came, hurrying past Colonel Dodd, who stared
until the door had closed behind young Dodd and the officer.
"But he's my own nephew!" he assured himself, as if he were replying
to an accusation laid against Richard Dodd. He shook his head and sat
down in his chair. "I wonder how long it has been since old Bob
Mullaney put a price of that size on his secrets! I'm afraid Richard
hasn't the Dodd ability to drive a sharp trade."
But Richard was showing considerable ability in that line behind the
door of the anteroom.
He jammed two hundred and fifty dollars in crumpled bills into the
detective's hands, cleaning out his pockets for the purpose. He had
slipped the check into his deepest pocket the moment his uncle had
handed it to him.
"It was hard work to screw him up, Mullaney. You have seen how I
worked him. This is all he gave me--two hundred and fifty. Take it and
spring your trap."
"You don't look honest," grumbled the detective. "If I'm any kind of a
guesser you're holding out on me."
"That's your price. You agreed. There isn't any time to argue this.
Give me back the money." He grabbed the bills from Mullaney's clutch.
It was magnificent bluff. "I'll hand it to my uncle. He isn't very
keen on the thing, anyway."
"I'll take it--give it back. I'll apologize," pleaded Mullaney.
"Will you swear to keep all this under your hat--the whole thing?
Uncle says if you dare to speak to him about it--hint to him or
anybody that he paid money for anything on Farr--he'll deny the story
and have your license taken away."
"I promise--swear it," Mullaney agreed.
Dodd returned the money, and the detective started out on the trot.
"You come, too, and I'll tell you on the way. Time is short. You'd
better help me," he advised Dodd. They hurried away together, rushed
out into the alley and around to the front of the hall, the detective
pouring certain information into Dodd's ear as they made their way to
the big door and into the main corridor.
Then they bored through the crowds.
The detective led the way and showed his badge to compel the people to
give them a lane.
They entered the rear of the auditorium.
"You take the left side and I'll take the right," commanded Mullaney.
"We need to paralyze him first. That's all there's time for just now--
I've had short notice. But get that name to every man of your crowd
you can, and when the howl is started tell 'em all to join in."
Dodd had had scant time to digest the knowledge which the detective
had imparted on the run. But his eyes gleamed wickedly as he began to
whisper to men among the delegates. And as he moved about he noticed
that the girl in the gallery had marked his activity, even to the
extent of turning her gaze from Walker Farr, whose voice was ringing
through the spacious hall.
Walker Farr, towering over their heads, talked to the men in whose
midst he stood.
Mere eloquence no longer avails in these days of cynical disbelief in
the motives of political orators. But this young man who stood there
was sincerity incarnate. The wonderful and mystic magnetic quality
which wins men and inspires confidence radiated from him. And every
now and then, as he glanced up at one face in the gallery his voice
took on new tones of appeal and pathos. He was one crying from the
depths to those in authority! By the marvel of his language he made
the men who sat there as delegates understand that theirs was the
power to make or mar--to save or sacrifice their state in the crisis
which was upon them. He made them feel their responsibility after he
made them understand their power.
And he also made their duty plain.
The crux of the situation rested on such a man as they should place in
the highest office in the state.
In other times, under other conditions, some pliant and amiable
figurehead might serve them well.
He told them, with outstretched finger and vibrant voice, what must be
the masterful qualifications of the man who should assume the cross of
public service and carry it up the steeps where he would be lashed at
every step of his weary way by the thongs in the hands of privileged
Colonel Symonds Dodd had come back to the platform, cursing himself
for a fool. The moment the check had left his hands he was angry
because he had allowed circumstances to stampede him.
He wondered what was getting into him and into politics.
Was he afraid of mere talk from a demagogue!
But after he had sat there for a few moments and listened, and had
watched the faces of the delegates, he decided that if five thousand
dollars would stop the mouth of that man he had spent money wisely. It
was borne in upon him that he had spent greater sums many times for
He saw Richard Dodd and Mullaney circulating among the delegates. He
restrained with difficulty an impulse to rise and shout to them to
hurry. He felt that danger to his program and his political structure
was imminent. Because once again were true eloquence and masterly
appeal winning men.
All the listeners in the vast hall were as still as death. All eyes
were on this speaker who seemed to be clothing with effective speech
all the hidden convictions of the delegates themselves who had nursed
protest without being able to put it into force.
Colonel Dodd had seen conventions in similar mood in the old days
before the saddle of party had been as securely cinched as it had been
in late years.
The chairman of the state committee uttered the colonel's rising
fears. The chairman had lost his sneer and his bumptious confidence.
His face was red, he was sweating, he was staring out over the
convention and snapping his fingers impatiently.
"Good gad!" he informed those in hearing on the platform, "what kind
of a turn is this thing taking? We have let this convention get away
from us. That chap has got the whole crowd marching to the mourners'
bench. He can wind up by nominating a yellow dog and they'll rise and
howl him into office by acclamation!"
Farr paused for a moment to give effect to his next words.
"Such in character, in honest impulse, in honor, in ability, in
devotion, and in God-given nobility must be the man who will lead you.
Has God given such a man to this state? He has!"
"Yes and the devil has given us Nelson Sinkler to speak for that man!"
The voice was shrill and agitated and it came from a section of the
hall where the rabid adherents of the machine were massed; it was an
amazing and shocking interruption.
"I said Nelson Sinkler--that's you!" screamed the voice.
And on that, from here and there in the hall, like snipers posted in
ambush, men shouted the name "Nelson Sinkler"--the words popping like
There was uproar. Part of it was protest, part hysterical
demonstration of excitement in an assemblage which did not in the
Then after a time came quiet, for the object of the attack stood in
his elevated position, unruffled, stern, turning bold front to right
and left as men barked at him.
"I am here where all may look on me," he said. "Let one or all of
those who are attacking me stand forth in view, too."
No one stood up.
"It's a cowardly man who will not put his name to a letter or show his
face when he makes an accusation," cried Farr.
"How about a man who doesn't dare to use his own name?" This
questioner remained in ambush.
"Your right name isn't Walker Farr and you know it isn't," bellowed a
voice on the opposite side of the hall.
Other voices pot-shotted at him with the words, "Nelson Sinkler."
"Will one man in this convention stand up and show himself so that I
can talk to him face to face?" shouted the man at bay.
Detective Mullaney and Richard Dodd could not find seats. The others
were sitting, and the two were marked men.
"Well, Dodd, you have been whispering. What have you to say aloud?"
demanded the man they were baiting.
"I say your name is not Walker Farr."
"You!" The tall young man darted a finger at Mullaney.
"I say you're Nelson Sinkler."
"And what of him?"
"He is wanted by the state of Nebraska for murder."
A sound that was mingled sigh and groan ran and throbbed from
galleries to floor; it filled the great hall and seemed to vibrate
back and forth over the assemblage. And for the long minute that the
dreadful sound continued until it had breathed itself out into
horrified silence the man who stood on the settee looked straight into
the white face of the girl in the gallery.
But those of the throng who devoured him with eager stares could not
discern one trace of confession on his countenance.
Then he did a strange thing.
He held his arms out toward Detective Mullaney and crossed them, wrist
over wrist, and he smiled.
"If you are certain enough of your man to dare to arrest me, sir, I
stand here waiting for the handcuffs."
The detective hesitated, visibly embarrassed. He had been looking for
confusion, confession by manner, even collapse.
"This is a put-up political job," declared a delegate. "That's no
"I am waiting," repeated Farr.
Detective Mullaney flushed. There were murmurs of hostility in the
throng about him. He ran over swiftly in his mind the contents of his
note-book and fortified his courage.
"I haven't secured a warrant yet--but I'll take your dare," he
announced. He started to come down the aisle.
"Just one moment," called a stentorian voice in the gallery. "You're
wrong, my man, down there. I don't want to see an innocent person
disgraced in public nor an officer get himself into a scrape. That man
is not Nelson Sinkler."
"What are we running here--a state convention or a police court?"
Colonel Dodd demanded, leaping up and grabbing the arm of the
presiding officer. "Order all those men ejected from the hall."
But at that moment the convention was not in the control of the
chairman. Irregular as it all was, human nature demanded to be shown
there and then.
Delegates arose, shouting, and surrounded Farr, making effectual
bulwarks against Mullaney with their bodies. Voices asked the stranger
in the gallery for information, and he motioned the vociferous mob
"I am a United States post-office inspector, and I can easily prove my
identity, gentlemen. I'm here in this convention merely as a
spectator, killing time till my train leaves. But I know Nelson
Sinkler because I arrested him a month or so ago after he had been a
fugitive for two years. He killed a mail clerk. He is now awaiting
trial. If that man down there is arrested as being Nelson Sinkler it
will mean a lot of trouble for somebody." He sat down.
"Who are you?" yelled a chorus of the ring's henchmen. They pressed as
near to Farr as his body-guard would permit and shook their fists at
"I am a man and not a spirit," he said in the first silence--and
silence came quickly, for they were eager to hear. "You can see that
for yourselves. But just now I am less a man than a /Voice/." He
shouted that last word. "The Voice calls you to rebuke the kind of
politics that has just been attempted here. You have seen, you have
heard! Will you indorse it by your votes? Will you keep in power that
gang that has attempted it in the desperation of defeat?"
"No," the voices of men tumultuously replied.
Reckless and unjust attack had never tossed a more golden opportunity
into a man's hands.
"Then come over to the side of decency, my men. Nominate a champion
who will be spotless and unafraid. There is war in this commonwealth
instead of politics. Through one war the great patriot of this state
led his people with high chivalry. For the next governor of this
state, in these trying times, I nominate the son of that patriot--the
Honorable Archer Converse of this city--God bless him!"
"We're licked," gasped Colonel Dodd, trying to make the state chairman
hear him, for the roar that rocked the great hall was deafening. "A
boomerang has come back and mowed us flatter than an oven door in
In the rout, in the retreat--horse, foot and dragoons--crisp orders
were issued and obeyed. The friends of Governor Harwood had only one
resource--it was to save that gentleman's face. His nomination was
That convention had run amuck, it was a mass of wild men who were
feeling liberty from oppression for the first time and gloried in
their new and sudden freedom from ring rule.
Then the delegates who came upon their feet roared the unanimous
nomination of Archer Converse.
In the gale of that acclaim the opposition uttered no protest; the
delegates who still remained loyal to the machine scowled and kept
Ducking under the tossing arms of men who flung aloft their hats and
cheered with the frenzy of delight that the amazing victory inspired,
Richard Dodd escaped to the rear of the hall and jammed himself into
the press of the spectators. He hid behind a hedge of bodies and then
dared to look at Colonel Dodd's face. The mighty passion which flamed
on the uncle's countenance was revealed to the nephew's gaze even at
that distance. The colonel was at the edge of the platform and was
beckoning imperiously to some one. Young Dodd saw Detective Mullaney
work his way out of the throng which surrounded Walker Farr; the
officer was obviously obeying the summons of Colonel Dodd and marched
to the platform and climbed on a chair in order to converse with the
angry man who had beckoned.
And when Richard Dodd saw that conference begin overwhelming fear
swept out of his soul all other emotions. He no longer had eyes for
that girl in the gallery. Not even love and the promise she had made
availed to stay him. Panic allowed him no time for planning an excuse
or framing a lie. In playing for the stakes he had exacted he had felt
that his uncle would hold no autopsy on the price of success. But five
thousand dollars plucked from the Dodd pocket by a falsehood for which
no excuse could be offered! And on top of that a crushing defeat which
had been made definite and final by the work which Colonel Dodd had
The nephew saw Mullaney shake his head and throw up his hands in
appeal and protest.
That spectacle made Richard Dodd a fugitive who thought only of saving
himself. He fought his way through the crowd and ran out of the hall.
The thought of facing Symonds Dodd in that crisis or of waiting to be
dragged before the furious tyrant--that thought lashed the traitor
into mad flight.
He glanced up at the clock in the First National tower. He had three
minutes before the bank's closing time. He controlled his emotions as
best he could and presented the check at the paying-teller's grill.
The money was counted out to him without question, and when he held
the thick packet in his hand he realized still more acutely in what
position he stood in his affairs with Symonds Dodd.
He rushed to a garage, secured his car, and fled.
"I tell you I gave my nephew a check for five thousand dollars,"
insisted the colonel. "And the Dodds don't lie to each other!"
"Then they have begun to do it," declared Mullaney. "He has double-
crossed the two of us. There was never any talk between us of more
than five hundred for the job."
Colonel Dodd hurried into the anteroom and called the bank on the
telephone. "Almighty Herod!" he yelped, when he was informed that the
check had been cashed. He banged the receiver upon its hook. "Even my
own nephew has joined the pack of those damnation wolves!"
Then with the air of a man recovering from a blow and wondering
dizzily what had struck him, he left the convention hall by a rear
door and went to his office.
Those whom he passed on his way out made no attempt to stop him, did
not urge him to remain. That convention seemed to be doing very well
without calling upon Colonel Symonds Dodd for help or suggestions.
A GIRL'S IMPULSE
Herald unofficial, /avant courier/, Mr. Daniel Breed squeezed himself
through the pack of people while they were still cheering the name of
the Honorable Archer Converse.
"Giving candy to youngsters and good news to grown folks never made
anybody specially unpopular," Mr. Breed assured himself with
Therefore, he jog-trotted down to the Converse law-offices and shot
himself into the presence of the estimable gentleman who had remained
aloof from the distracting business of a convention.
"He's done it," proclaimed Mr. Breed, making his sentences short and
his message to the point because he was out of breath.
"Who has done what?" demanded Mr. Converse, with equal crispness.
"Farr. You're nominated for governor. Acclamation! He's a wiz with his
tongue." Mr. Breed pursed his little mouth and "sipped" with gusto.
"Some talker! Don't ever tell me that good talk doesn't win when the
right man makes it at the right time."
Mr. Converse rose and stood--a rigid statue of consternation and
protest. "Do you mean to come in here and tell me that I have been
nominated by that state convention? Without my sanction? Without my
"Sure thing! Easy work! Played all the tricks. Made believe he was
green. Poked rights and lefts to Harwood's jaw. Had himself paged as a
murderer--at least, I reckon it was his own get-up. It cinched the
thing, anyway. He understands human nature."
But Mr. Converse did not in the least understand this talk. "Look
here, Breed, you haven't gone crazy yourself, along with the rest,
"Nobody's crazy. People have simply woke up."
"I'll be eternally condemned if I--"
"That's right! You will be if you don't button up your coat and go
over to the hall along with that notification committee that's
probably on the way, give the folks your best bow, and say you'll take
the job. We're some little team when we get started."
"You're an infernal steer team, and you have dragged me into a mess of
trouble," declared Mr. Converse, with venom.
"Glad you're in," retorted the imperturbable Breed. "A man needs more
or less trouble so as to round himself out; I've been having some
troubles of my own. Whatever job you give me after you're elected,
don't put me back with them stuffed animals. Harwood made his mistake
"It has begun already, has it?" asked Converse, indignantly. "Office-
seekers at it?"
"Sure thing!" responded Mr. Breed, amiably. "When you cool down you'll
remember that I got to you first with the good news."
Five minutes later the Honorable Archer Converse, muttering, but more
calm, was marching toward the convention hall in the company of a
proud committee of notification.
He walked out upon the platform and waited for the wild tumult of
greeting to subside, and while he waited he searched the assemblage
with stern scrutiny to find the face of Walker Farr.
But that young worker of miracles was not in evidence.
He had risen with the others when the band began to blare the music
which signaled the approach of the nominee.
Once more he turned his gaze toward the girl in the gallery.
There was nothing in his demeanor to suggest that he had been a
victor. His face was white, and after his eyes had held hers for a
long time he gave her a wistful little smile which expressed regret,
sorrow, renunciation, rather than pride. She no longer wondered at the
interest she felt in this man; she knew that she loved him. She was
able to own that truth to herself, and to view it calmly because she
had made her promise to Richard Dodd and was resolved to keep it. That
determination made of this love a precious possession that she could
put away for ever out of the sight of all the world. Such a poor,
meager, little story of love it was! A few meetings--a hand-touch--a
word or two.
There in that packed forum had been their only real love-making. Over
the heads of angry men they had told each other with their eyes. There
was no misunderstanding on the part of either. Both knew the truth.
And yet, after he had told her, this enigma of a man bowed his head
and edged his way to the door, moving unobtrusively through the press
of humanity, taking advantage of the confusion which marked the
entrance of Archer Converse.
Impulse goaded Kate Kilgour at that moment. She did not reason or
reflect. Something in the air of this man told her that sorrow instead
of triumph was dominating him; his whole demeanor had said "Farewell"
when he had turned from her. The instinct of the woman who loves and
longs to comfort the object of that affection drove her out of the
hall, and she followed him--ashamed, marveling at herself, searching
her soul for words with which to excuse her madness, should he turn
and behold her.
But the autumn dusk was early and she was grateful because it shrouded
Farr, leaving the din of the convention, going forth alone, looked
more like the vanquished than the victor. He walked slowly, his head
was lowered, and he turned off the Boulevard at once, seeking deserted
streets which led him down toward the big mills.
Their myriad lights shone from dusty windows, row upon row, and the
staccato chatter of the looms sounded ceaselessly.
Farr climbed the fence where old Etienne was everlastingly raking. The
young man had not seen much of the old rack-tender for some weeks, and
now he greeted Etienne rather curtly as he passed on his way to the
tree. But Etienne seemed to understand.
"Ah, I will not talk, m'sieu'. I will not bodder you. I hear how much
you have work and run about, and you must be very tire."
There was a crackle of autumn chill in the air, but Farr took off his
hat and sat down and leaned his head against the tree. He closed his
eyes. One might have thought that he wished to sleep.
When the rack-tender made his next turn toward the street he saw a
woman at the fence, and as he peered she beckoned to him. He went
close and saw it was the pretty lady to whom he had told the story of
Rosemarie. She trembled as she clutched the top of the high fence, and
when she spoke to him he understood that she was very near to tears.
"Is there not some way--some gate by which I may come in?" she
"That is not allow, ma'm'selle. It is trespass."
"But I want to speak--to--tell him-- We can talk over there beside the
tree and will not be heard. It is to Mr. Farr I wish to speak. I saw
him when he climbed the fence." She hurried her appeal with pitiful
"Ah yes, I have one little gate for maself--for my frien'--for hees
frien', ma'm'selle. I will break the rule. You shall come in."
She went softly and stood before Farr for some minutes before he
opened his eyes.
Then he looked up and saw her and he did not speak. He seemed to
accept her presence as a natural matter. She was clasping her hands
tightly to steady herself. His calm demeanor helped her.
"I don't know why I came here," she murmured.
"I know. It's because you are sorry for me."
"But I followed you. I dared to do that. I don't know why. I haven't
the words--I can't explain."
"I understand. You wondered why I came away from the convention. You
want to ask me why."
"Yes, that's it. I am interested in the fight. I have left the office
where so many bad things were planned."
"I know. It was good of you to warn me."
"And now I am afraid you are in trouble."
"But you have many good friends now, sir."
"I fear they cannot help me. When I left that hall I tried to tell you
with my eyes that I was going away."
"I--I think I understood," she stammered. "It was wrong--it was folly
--but I followed you without knowing why I did so."
"I am glad you did. I can say farewell to you here."
"But you must not go away, Mr. Farr. You are needed."
"I am going because I can best help the work in that way. If I stay
here I may be the cause of great harm."
"I cannot understand."
"I do not want you to understand."
"It is a matter which concerns others besides myself."
"Does Mr. Converse know that you are going away?"
"I shall tell him to-night before I leave town."
"He will not allow you to do."
"Yes--he will," the young man returned, quietly.
There was a long silence.
"Coming here--following you--it was a mad thing for me to do," said
the girl, still striving to find explanation for her act. "But I have
had so much trouble in my own life--I am sorry for others who are in
trouble. I want to tell you that I am sorry."
"I understand," he repeated.
Another period of silence followed.
"That is all," said the girl. "I only wanted to tell you what a grand
battle you won to-day--and then I saw your face there in the hall and
I knew that you did not want praise--you wanted somebody to say to
you, 'I'm sorry.'" She dwelt upon the word which expressed her
sympathy, putting all her heart into her voice. "And now I'll be
going," she said, "and I hope you understand and will forgive me."
Farr had been sitting with head against the trunk of the tree. When he
had started to rise she requested him to remain seated. Now he stood
up so quickly that she gasped. She was plainly still less at ease when
he stood and came close to her.
"Wait a moment. You think that I am a very strange sort of man, do you
She was silent.
"You need not answer--it doesn't need answer. You naturally must think
that. You met me when I was a vagrant. You have seen me selling ice
from a cart-tail. But--I will be very frank, for this is a time which
demands frankness--you have seen me in other circumstances which have
been a bit more creditable. You do not know who I am or what to make
of me. But with all your heart and soul you know that I love you," he
declared, his tones low and tense and thrilling. "That love has needed
no words. It has been strange love-making. Wait! This isn't going to
be what you think. If I were simply going to say I love you I would
have said it to you long ago--I am not a coward--and I had seen the
one mate of all the world; I knew it when I saw you in the dust of the
long highway. And after you went on I picked a rose beside the way,
and the ashes of that rose are in my pocket now. I called you the
little sister of the rose and plodded along after you, playing with a
dream. And I threw the rose away after I saw you in the woods with
your lover--and understood. But I went back and hunted on my knees for
your sister. I didn't intend to say any of this to you. For it is of
"No; I am promised to Richard Dodd," she sobbed.
"If that was all that stood between us I'd reach now and take you in
my arms," he said, with bitterness.
"It is more than a mere promise--he owns me--it was bargain and sale--
it's sacrifice--for-- But I must not tell you." She went to the tree
and put her forehead on her crossed arms and wept with a child's
pitiful abandon. He came close and put tender hand upon her shoulder.
"Sacrifice, little sister of the rose! Then there is another bond
between us! Sacrifice! My God! the curse that is sometimes put upon
the innocent!" He put the tip of his forefinger under her chin and
lifted her face from her arms. "I haven't any right to tell you that I
love you. I must march on. I cannot even explain to you why I cannot
take you in my arms and plead for your love."
Her eyes told him what answer his pleading would win, and he trembled
and stepped away from her.
"Since it can never be," she said, brokenly, "you may as well know
that I--that I do--I couldn't help it. I am forward--I am bold--it is
shameless--but I never loved anybody before." She put out both her
hands, and he took them.
Old Etienne dragged doggedly at his work, his lantern lighting his
toil. The looms clacked behind the dusty windows which splashed their
radiance upon the gloom.
"It is a bit strange that now another wonderful but bitter experience
should come into my life on this spot where we are standing," he told
her. He spoke quietly, trying to calm her; striving to crowd back his
own emotions. "I guess fate picked this spot as the right place for us
to say farewell to each other. I stood here one day and saw old
Etienne draw a dead woman to the surface of the water, and I found a
letter in her breast and I took her key and went and found little
She stared at him, her eyes very wide in the darkness.
"And that dead woman--she was the mother of the little girl?"
"Yes, a poor weaver that the mills had broken. And Rosemarie and I sat
all night under this tree. It is too long a story for you now. No
matter about that, but I--"
"I know about Rosemarie," she confessed.
"And my heart opened and something new came into it, little sister of
the rose. And now on this spot I stand, and all joy and hope and love
are dead for me when I give back to you these dear little hands."
She was still staring at him.
"But I must not--I dare not speak of it," he proceeded. His grasp grew
tense. "See how I am trying to be calm? I will not loose my grip on
myself. Our doom was written for us by other hands, dear heart. When
it was summer I walked here with Rosemarie and play-mamma. Now it is
"Play-mamma!" she gasped.
"Yes, a dear, good girl who worked hard in the mill and who was very
good to our Rosemarie; I was making poor shifts at buying a little
girl's clothes, and Zelie Dionne was wise in those matters and was
busy with her needle."
"I hope you been excuse me," broke in old Etienne. "I overheard the
name of Zelie Dionne, but I don't mean to listen. I have some good
news for you, M'sieu' Farr, what you don't hear because you ain't been
on this place for long time. And it is not good news for you,
ma'm'selle, for now you can't get acquaint with very nice Canadian
girl. The big beau Jean have come down here from Tadousac and now he
own nice farm and they will get marry and be very happy up in the
"Thank God, there's some happiness in this world," said Farr. "She is
a good girl."
There was almost joy on Kate Kilgour's face when she looked up at
Her god had been restored to his pedestal.
"Farewell," he said at the little gate through which she had stepped
into the street.
"No," she cried as she turned and hurried away; "I'll not say it--not
now!" And he wondered because there was joy in her tones.
THE MASK OF CYNICISM
Old Etienne came to the gate with his lantern; the big turbines were
stilling their rumble and growl in the deep pits and his day's work
"P'r'aps you may walk to Mother Maillet's with me and say the good
word to Jean from Tadousac and to Zelie Dionne, who is now so very
glad," suggested the old man, humbly. "The good priest he marry them
very soon and they will go home."
"Yes, I will go, Etienne. I can say good-by there to you and to Miss
"So you go visit some place, eh, after your hard work? That will be
very good for you, M'sieu' Farr. You shall come back much rest up and
then you will show the poor folks how you will help them some more."
"I shall not come back--I am going away to stay."
"But you promise under the big light at the /hotel de ville/--I hear
you promise that you will stay," protested the old man.
"My work is finished."
"That is not so, M'sieu' Farr. For many men come to talk to me over
the fence since I stand up in the big hall. They are wiser than such a
fool as I am. They say that you have just begin to do great things for
the poor folks. You shall take the water-pipes away from the men who
have poison them. Ah, that is what they say. I do not understand, but
they say it shall be so."
"Other men can do it," said Farr, curtly.
"And yet you will come back--when?" The old man was struggling with
his bewilderment and doubt.
He understood how he was hurting that old man, but bitterness and
hopelessness were crowding all tender feelings out of Farr at that
moment. Once more he put on the mask of cynicism. He feared to show
anybody the depths of his soul.
In the good woman's little sitting-room they found Zelie Dionne.
"I have stopped in to say good-by, Miss Zelie. I am going away. I'm
sorry that the grand young man from Tadousac is not here."
"He comes to sit with me in the evening. You shall wait and see him."
"No, I must hurry on."
"I have been reading about you." She tapped the newspaper in her hand.
"The boy just passed, crying the news. It is very wonderful what you
have done. Now you will be the great man. But I knew all the time that
you were much more than you seemed to be."
"However, you don't seem to understand me just now," he declared. "I
am going away from this city--from this state. I am going to stay
"/Oui/, he have say that thing to me," said old Etienne, brokenly.
"And I do not understand."
"And /I/ do not understand."
"I'm tired--put it that way."
"Ah no, that is not it."
"Well, I am more or less of a sneak and a quitter when it comes to a
pinch. I don't want you two good folks to feel sorry about me. Forget
me. That will be the best way. I hope you will be very happy in
Tadousac, Miss Zelie."
"I hoped we were better friends," she said simply. "I am very sad to
find you do not trust us."
"Oh, I'm selfish--that's it. Remember me as a selfish man who was
tired and ran away."
"We have talked about you, Uncle Etienne and I, and we have never said
that you are selfish."
"That shows you don't know me," said Farr, roughly.
"But we know what you have done," insisted the old man, with patient
confidence. "For what you say you shall not do we do not care about
that. For we have seen what you have done--ah, we know about that and
care about it very much. You are wiser than we are, and if you say you
must go we can only look at you very sad and bow the head. I wish I
had some language so to tell you how very sorry! But the Yankee words
--I know not those which tell how sorry I shall be. It is not much I
can do for the poor little childs--only whittle and save pennies for
the fresh air."
Another man, another tone, might have put rebuke, indirectly, into
those words. But old Etienne, rasping his hard palms nervously, was
merely vowing himself to sacrifice because there was no one else left
to do so. Farr understood and was softened.
"And now I must go to the bed for my sleep, because the rack must be
cleared before the wheel start to go roompy-roomp in the big pit
asking for its water." He was showing nervousness, haste, his voice
trembled; he staggered when he lifted himself out of his chair.
"You'd better say good-by to me now," said Farr, rising with the old
man. "It's a good night under the stars. I shall probably be far out
on the road by daylight."
"Good-bye," muttered old Etienne, fumbling his hat and bowing.
"But aren't you going to say something else to me--say you're sorry to
have me go?" demanded the young man. "We have been close together in
some things we shall never forget."
"I have told you. I cannot say how sorry." The old man's voice was
little more than a husky whisper.
"I like you, Uncle Etienne. I want you to know it. You are an old
saint." He put out his hand, but the rack-tender turned and hurried to
the door. "Not take my hand?" cried Farr. "Am I as much of a traitor
as all that?"
"Oh, I cannot speak! I have no word," wailed the old man from the
gloom in the street. His voice rose in shrill, cracked tones. He began
to weep aloud. He had been restraining his feelings with all the
strength of his will since Farr had announced his intentions. His
departure was flight. He began to run away down the sidewalk. "Saint
Joseph, guard my tongue!" he gasped over and over. "I'll go very fast
so that I not say it, for I am only old Pickaroon, and he is fine
gentlemans!" He continued to weep broken-heartedly.
"Mr. Farr, he was afraid he would tell you how much he loved you--
afraid that you would be insulted if he presumed to tell you of it."
"I don't think I just understand that," commented Farr, staring into
the night, peering to get another glimpse of Etienne.
"I understand!" said the girl. "It would be too bad for you to go away
and think that at parting he was not polite to you. I would not like
to have you suppose that fault is in one from Tadousac. He has told
me. If you will not follow him and frighten him by saying that you
know it, I will tell you."
"I will not follow him. Probably I shall never see him again."
"It may be a bit hard for you to understand, for you do not know the
French nature, perhaps. But since little Rosemarie went away for ever
he has loved you. You made something more of him than the old rack-
tender when you took him into partnership. When you made him your
friend before all the big men at the City Hall something bloomed in
him, m'sieu'--something that before had been only a withered bud! Ah,
you think I am fanciful? Very well! I cannot think how to say it any
other way. You are a token for him from little Rosemarie who has gone
away; you are friend, you are son, you are in his eyes destined savior
of these poor people."
"I am glad I am going away. I would hate to betray such childlike
faith. Good-by, Miss Zelie!"
He heard her call to him when he was in the street. He turned and
halted and saw her slim, white figure at the gate, and he stepped back
She was girlish sympathy incarnate, and his troubled, hungry, self-
accusatory soul caught the radiation of that womanly solace.
"It's not what you say to me you are," she said, her breath coming
fast, her tones low. "It's what I know you are! That you will be when
at last you shall come to yourself. I do not care what you say. I
shall not remember! To the world--to me--to poor Etienne, just now,
you lied about yourself, M'sieu' Farr--about your real self. But you
did not lie to a little girl when she asked you to show your true self
to her. Of yourself--with little Rosemarie--that shall I remember!"
"I thank you," he said, gratefully.
"Some day some woman will love you," she continued. "And when you are
sure that she does love you, then you will tell her your troubles and
she will know what to say to make things right for you. For that is
the mission of good women. They understand how to listen and how to
help the men they love. You shall see!" She hurried into the house.
Farr was promptly admitted when he presented himself at the door of
Archer Converse's residence, and he was conducted to that gentleman's
library, and came face to face with his patron, whom he found sitting
very erect in a high-backed chair.
"I have been waiting for you, sir," said Converse.
"I expected that you would be waiting, sir."
"I will stand, if you please. I have only a few words to say."
"Then your nature must have changed very suddenly," said the lawyer,
dryly. "Or did you pump your reservoir dry of language when you put my
name in nomination to-day?"
Farr bowed without reply.
"I hear that speech commended very highly. Among opportunists you
deserve high rank, Mr. Farr. You have tipped a state upside down very
effectively, and I am upside down along with the rest."
"I will stand here very patiently, sir, and take my punishment. As
between ourselves, I had no right to do what I did to-day without
consulting you. As regards conditions in the state, I had a right to
seize that opportunity and give to the people a man who can be
depended on. I did so. Go ahead, now, Mr. Converse!"
To the young man's surprise, the nominee arose and came to him with
hand outstretched. A smile broke through the grimness of the lawyer's
countenance. "I have accepted a public trust with pride, I am obeying
my plain duty with satisfaction, and I shall work to be elected with
all my might. Otherwise I wouldn't be the son of my father. My boy, I
have had a talk with Citizen Drew to-day. He told me about your idea
of kicking honest men into politics. I want you to understand that I
thank you heartily because you have kicked me in. I'm going to swim!"
"'Then God's in His Heaven and the world's all right,'" declared Farr.
The lawyer's quizzical and searching gaze was rather disquieting; the
young man had found Converse eyeing him with peculiar interest during
their meetings in the recent past. Now Converse bestowed particularly
intent scrutiny on his caller.
"I feel that I have done my work, sir," Farr hastened to say, anxious
to terminate this interview. "I am going away--out of the state. I
shall not return."
Mr. Converse did not break out into protest. He eyed Farr more
closely. Then he reached a button and turned on the full light of the
chandelier. "You have a good reason for deserting just when you are
most needed, I presume, sir?"
"I have. It is a reason which especially concerns the success of the
legislation which we have discussed. If I stay I shall hamper you."
"I will ask you to stand where you are for a few minutes, sir," said
the lawyer, commanding rather than requesting. He went to a cabinet
and drew forth a package. He brought that packet to the table and
began to sort photographs.
He selected one, regarded it with careful gaze, and shifted his eyes
to the young man's face.
"Um!" he commented, with judicial tone. "Now--suppose you tell me--
just how your continued presence in this state will hamper me"--he
paused; he drawled the next words, emphasizing them--"Mr. Bristol!"
Farr had begun nervous retreat when the lawyer had begun comparison of
the living features with the photograph. It was plain that he feared
rather than understood.
"Hold on, there!" shouted the investigator. "You may as well stay and
settle this matter, Bristol. You look at this picture! You recognize
it, do you? If you are in any doubt I'll inform you that it's a
picture of your father when he and I were in law-school together."
"I deny any relationship to that man."
"Your tone and your manner convict you, my boy. I jumped you with that
name purposely. I am no fool when it comes to examining a witness.
When I first laid eyes on you I thought I had seen you, yourself,
somewhere, and I have been puzzling my brains. Then it occurred to me
that I had known in my youth a fellow who looked like you. You're the
son of your father, all right. Don't stultify yourself by lying to me.
You are Morgan Bristol's boy! Hah?"
"I am," confessed the young man, with resignation.
"What is your first name?"
"Sit down, Thornton!"
The visitor obeyed.
"What have you done that you're ashamed of, my boy?"
"I cannot tell you," said Bristol, firmly.
"Oh, but you're going to," insisted the lawyer, with just as much
firmness. "You are now retaining me as your attorney and counsel--
whether you know it or not. And when a man talks to his lawyer and
tells the truth it's no betrayal of confidence. Out with it!"
"There's nothing to be done, Mr. Converse."
"There's always something which can be done when a man is in trouble.
You are Morgan Bristol's son. I was in school with your father. He
went West and settled. Is he alive?"
"I think so."
"How is it that you don't know?"
Mr. Converse settled himself into the tone and pose of the cross-
"I have been a vagrant, hiding myself in the highways and byways of
this country, for a long time."
"What happened to drive you out like that?"
"Right there, Mr. Converse, is where I must halt. It is a family
matter. I cannot go into it."
"Look here, Thornton, you are in trouble. If you are in trouble, so is
your father. He has lost a boy! You can tell me now what it's all
about, or I'll drop my affairs and go and hunt up Morgan Bristol and
ask him about it. You may just as well save me all that time and
trouble. You're a lawyer, yourself--I know it."
"And you're a good one and know our code when it comes to secrets. I
am not asking you to expose a family skeleton--I'm demanding that you
treat me as your attorney and trust to my discretion. You are in
trouble and need a helper, and, by gad! you have got to take me into
Thornton Bristol set his elbows on his knees and clutched his shaking
fingers into his hair.
"I have been meaning to keep it all to myself, sir," he stammered.
"Quite likely. You have done mighty well at it, I should judge. But
you know that any man who acts as his own lawyer usually does a mighty
poor job. He lacks perspective."
Bristol did not reply.
"I have been studying you a little since I have known you," the lawyer
went on. "You are a very strange mixture, my boy. I much fear that in
some things in this life you are too quixotic in your views. We had a
case here in town--a man named Andrew Kilgour--"
"I have heard about that man, sir."
"Thornton, from what glimpses I have had of your nature, I'm going to
tell you here and now that you are covering somebody else's fault. You
are no coward. You would face your own delinquency just as bravely as
you came here and faced me to-night. Now, what did your father do?"
"Speculated with trust funds of estates."
"Old story, eh? Too bad, Morgan. I liked you when you were young."
"But I want you to understand it," cried the son. "It is hard for me
to talk about it, sir, but it isn't exactly the old story. My father
was too indulgent where I was concerned. He tried to do more for me
than he could afford. He didn't tell me the truth about his affairs--I