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The Sturdy Oak by Samuel Merwin

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"Then for the love of Mike pass some of it on to this precious nephew of

"What seems to be the matter?"

"It's them women," said Doolittle.

Uncle Martin turned inquiringly to George: "The tender flowers?" he

"Look here, Uncle Martin," said George, who had had a good deal of this
sort of thing to bear, "I don't understand you. Do you believe in woman

Uncle Martin contemplated a new crumpling of his long-suffering cap before
he answered. "Yes and no, George. I believe in it in the same way that
I believe in old age and death. I can't avoid them by denying their

"But you fight against them, and put them off as long as you can."

"But I yield a little to them, too, George. What is it? Has Genevieve
become a convert to suffrage?"

"Has Genevieve--has my wife----"

Then George remembered that his uncle was an older man and that chivalry is
not limited to the treatment of the weaker sex.

"No," he said with a calm hardly less magnificent than the tempest would
have been, "no, Uncle Martin, Genevieve has not become a suffragist."

"Well," said Doolittle rising, as if such things were hardly worth his
valuable time, "I fail to see the difference between a suffragette an' a
woman who goes pokin' her nose into what----"

"You're speaking of my wife, Mr. Doolittle," said George, with a
significant lighting of the eye.

"Speakin' in general," said Doolittle.

Uncle Martin was interested. "Has Genevieve been--well, we won't say poking
the nose--but taking a responsible civic interest where it would be better
if she didn't?"

"It seems," answered George, casting an angry glance at his campaign
manager, "that Mr. Doolittle has heard from a friend of his who overheard a
conversation between Betty Sheridan and my wife at luncheon. From this he
inferred that the two were planning an investigation of some of the city's

Uncle Martin looked relieved.

"Oh, your wife and your stenographer. That can be stopped, I suppose,
without undue exertion."

"Betty is no longer my stenographer."

"Left, has she?" said Jaffry. "I had an idea she would not stay with you

This intimation was not agreeable to George. He would have liked to explain
that Miss Sheridan's departure had been dictated by the will of the head of
the firm; in fact he opened his mouth to do so. But the remembrance that
this would entail a long and wearisome exposition of his reasons caused
him to remain silent, and his uncle went on: "Well, anyhow, you can get
Genevieve to drop it."

If Doolittle had not been there, George would have been glad to discuss
with his uncle, who had, after all, a sort of worldly shrewdness, how far a
man is justified in controlling his wife's opinions. But before an audience
now a trifle unsympathetic, he could not resist the temptation of making
the gesture of a man magnificently master in his own house.

He smiled quite grandly. "I think I can promise that," he said.

Doolittle got up slowly, bringing his jaws together in a relentless bite on
the unresisting gum.

"Well," he said, "that's all there is to it." And he added significantly as
he reached the door, "If you kin _do_ it!"

When the campaign manager had gone, Uncle Martin asked very, very gently:
"You don't feel any doubt of being able to do it, do you, George?"

"About my ability to control--I mean influence, my wife? I feel no doubt at

"And Penfield, I suppose, can tackle Betty? You won't mind my saying that
of the two I think your partner has the harder job."

A slight cloud appeared upon the brow of the candidate.

"I don't feel inclined to ask any favor of Penny just at present," he said
haughtily. "Has it ever struck you, Uncle Martin, that Penny has an unduly
emotional, an almost feminine type of mind?"

"No," said the other, "it hasn't, but that is perhaps because I have never
been sure just what the feminine type of mind is."

"You know what I mean," answered George, trying to conceal his annoyance at
this sort of petty quibbling. "I mean he is too personal, over-excitable,
irrational and very hard to deal with."

"Dear me," said Jaffry. "Is Genevieve like that?"

"Genevieve," replied her husband loyally, "is much better poised than most
women, but--yes,--even she--all women are more or less like that."

"All women and Penny. Well, George, you have my sympathy. An excitable
partner, an irrational stenographer, and a wife that's very hard to
deal with!"

"I never said Genevieve was hard to deal with," George almost shouted.

"My mistake--thought you did," answered his uncle, now moving rapidly away.
"Let me know the result of the interview, and we'll talk over ways and
means." And he shut the door briskly behind him.

George walked to the window, with his hands in his pockets. He always liked
to look out while he turned over grave questions in his mind; but this
comfort was now denied to him, for he could not help being distracted by
the voiceless speech still relentlessly turning its pages in the opposite

The heading now was:


He flung himself down on his chair with an exclamation. He knew he had to
think carefully about something which he had never considered before, and
that was his wife's character.

Of course he liked to think about Genevieve--; of her beauty, her
abilities, her charms; and particularly he liked to think about her love
for him.

A week ago he would have met the present situation very simply. He would
have put his arm about her and said: "My darling, I think I'd a little
rather you dropped this sort of thing for the present." And that would have
been enough.

But he knew it would not be enough now. He would have to have a reason, a

"Heavens," he thought, "imagine having to talk to one's wife as if she were
the lawyer for the other side."

He did not notice that he was reproaching Genevieve for being too
impersonal, too unemotional and not irrational enough.

When he went home at five, he had thought it out. He put his head into the
sitting-room, where Alys was ensconced behind the tea-kettle.

"Come in, George dear," she called graciously, "and let me give you a
really good cup of tea. It's some I've just ordered for you, and I think
you'll find it an improvement on what you've been accustomed to." George
shut the door again, pretending he had not heard; but he had had time
enough to note that dear little Eleanor was building houses out of his most
treasured books.

The memory of his quarrel with his wife had been partly obliterated by
memories of so many other quarrels during the day that it was only when he
was actually standing in her room that he remembered how very bitter their
parting had been.

He stood looking at her doubtfully, and it was she who came forward and put
her arms about him. They clung to each other like two children who have
been frightened by a nightmare.

"We mustn't quarrel again, George," she said. "I've had a real, true,
old-fashioned pain in my heart all day. But I think I understand better now
than I did. I lunched with Betty and she made me see."

"What did Betty make you see?" asked George nervously, for he had not
perfect confidence in Miss Sheridan's visions.

"That it was all a question of efficiency. She said that in business a
man's stenographer is just an instrument to make his work easier, and if
for any reason at all that instrument does not suit him he is justified in
getting rid of it, and in finding one that does."

"Betty is very generous," he said coldly. He wanted to hear his wife say
that she had not thought him pompous; it was very hard to be thankful for a
mere ethical rehabilitation.

Part of his thought-out plan was that Genevieve must herself tell him of
the Woman's Forum's investigation; it would not do for him to let her know
he had heard of it through a political eavesdropper. So after a moment he
added casually:

"And what else did Betty have to say?"

"Nothing much."

His heart sank. Was Genevieve becoming uncandid?

"Nothing else," he said. "Just to justify me in your eyes?"

She hesitated, "No, that was not quite all, but it is too early to talk
about it yet."

"Anything that interests you, my dear, I should like to hear about from the
beginning." Perhaps Genevieve was not so unemotional after all, for at this
expression of his affection, her eyes filled with tears.

"I long to tell you," she said. "I only hesitated on your account, but of
course I want all your help and advice. It's this: There seems to be no
doubt that the conditions under which women are working in our factories
are hideous--dangerous--the law is broken with perfect impunity. I know you
can't act on rumors and hearsay. Even the inspectors don't give out the
truth. And so we are going to persuade the Woman's Forum to abandon its old
policy of mere discussion.

"We--Betty and I--are going to get the members for once to act--to make an
investigation; so that the instant you come into the office you will have
complete information at your disposal--facts, and facts and facts on which
you can act."

She paused and looked eagerly at her husband, who remained silent. Seeing
this she went on:

"I know what you're thinking. I thought of it myself. Am I justified in
using my position in the Woman's Forum to further your political career?
Well, my answer is, it isn't your political career, only; it's truth and
justice that will be furthered."

Here in the home there was no voiceless speech to make the view
intolerable, and George moved away from his wife and walked to the window.
He looked out on his own peaceful trees and lawn, and on Hanna, like a
tiger in the jungle, stalking a competent little sparrow.

A temptation was assailing George. Suppose he did put his opposition to
this investigation on a high and mighty ground? Suppose he announced a
moral scruple? But no, he cast Satan behind him.

"Genevieve," he said, turning sharply toward her, "this question puts our
whole attitude to a test. If you and I are two separate individuals, with
different responsibilities, different interests, different opinions, then
we ought to be consistent; that ought to mean economic independence of
each other, and equal suffrage; it means that husband and wife may become
business competitors and political opponents.

"But if, as you know I believe, a man and woman who love each other are
one, are a unit as far as society is concerned, why then our interests are
identical, and it is simply a question of which of us two is better able to
deal with any particular situation."

"But that is what I believe, too, George."

"I hoped it was, dear; I know it used to be. Then you must let me act for
you in this matter."

"Yes, in the end; but an investigation--"

"My darling, politics is not an ideal; it is a practical human institution.
Just at present, from the political point of view, such an investigation
would do me incalculable harm."


He nodded. "It would probably lose me the election."

"But why?"

"Genevieve, am I your political representative or not?"

"You are," she smiled at him, "and my dear love as well; but may I not even
know why?"

"If you dismissed the cook, and I summoned you before me and bade you give
me your reasons for such an action, would you not feel in your heart that I
was disputing your judgment?"

She looked at him honestly. "Yes, I should."

"And I would not do such a discourteous thing to you. In the home you are
absolute. Whatever you do, whatever you decide, is right. I would not dream
of questioning. Will you not give me the same confidence in my special

There was a short pause; then Genevieve held out her hand.

"Yes, George," she said, "I will, but on one condition----"

"_I_ did not make conditions, Genevieve."

"You do not have to, my dear. You know that I am really your representative
in the house; that I am really always thinking of your wishes. You must do
the same as my political representative. I mean, if I am not to do this
work myself, you must do it for me."

"Even if I consider it unwise?"

"Unwise to protect women and children?"

"Genevieve," he said seriously, as one who confides something not
always confided to women, "enforcing law sometimes does harm."

"But an investigation----"

"That's where you are ignorant, my dear. If an investigation is made,
especially if the women mix themselves up in it, then we shall have no
choice but enforcement."

She had sunk down on her sofa, but now she sprang up. "And you don't mean
to enforce the law" in respect of women? Is that why you don't want the

"Not at all. You are most unjust. You are most illogical, Genevieve. All
I am asking is that the whole question should not be taken up at this
moment--just before election."

"But this is the only moment when we can find out whether or not you are a
candidate who will do what we want."

"_We_, Genevieve! Who do you mean by 'we'?"

She stared for a second at him, her eyes growing large and dark with

"Oh, George," she gasped finally, "I think I meant women when I said 'we.'
George, I'm afraid I'm a _suffragist_. And oh," she added, with a sort of
wail, "I don't want to be, I don't want to be!"

"Damn Betty Sheridan," exclaimed George. "This is all her doing."

His wife shook her head. "No," she said, "it wasn't Betty who made me see."

"Who was it?"

"It was you, George."

"I don't understand you."

"You made me see why women want to vote for themselves. How can you
represent me, when we disagree fundamentally?"

"How can we disagree fundamentally when we love each other?"

"You mean that because we love each other, I must think as you do?"

"What else could I mean, darling?"

"You might have meant that you would think as I do."

George glanced at her in deep offense.

"We have indeed drifted far apart," he said.

At this moment there was a knock at the door, and the news was conveyed to
George that Mr. Evans was downstairs asking to see him.

"Oh dear," said Genevieve, "it seems as if we never could get a moment by
ourselves nowadays. What does Penny want?"

"He wants to tell me whether he intends to dissolve partnership or not."

Any fear that his wife had disassociated herself from his interests
should have been dispelled by the tone in which she exclaimed: "Dissolve
partnership! Penny? Well, I never in my life! Where would Penny be without
you, I should like to know! He must be crazy."

These words made George feel happier than anything that had happened to him
throughout this day. His self-esteem began to revive.

"I think Penny has been a little hasty," he said, judicially but not
unkindly. "He lost all self-control when he heard I had let Betty go."

"Isn't that like a man," said Genevieve, "to throw away his whole future
just because he loses his temper?"

George did not directly answer this question, and his wife went on.
"However, it will be all right. He has seen Betty this afternoon, and she
won't let him do anything foolish."

George glanced at her. "You mean that Betty will prevent his leaving the

"Of course she will."

George walked to the door.

"I seem to owe a good deal to my former stenographer," he said, "my wife,
my partner; next, perhaps it will be my election."



Penny, pacing the drawing-room with pantheresque strides, came to a tense
halt as Remington entered.

"Well?" he said, his eyes hard, his unwelcoming hands thrust deep into his

That identical "well" with its uptilt of question had been on George's
tongue. It was a monosyllable that demanded an answer. Penny had got ahead
of him, forced him, as it were, into the witness chair, and he resented it.

"Seems to me," he began hotly, "that you were the one who was going to
make the statements--' whether or no,' I believe, we were to continue in

"Perhaps," retorted Penny, with the air of allowing no great importance to
that angle of the argument, "but what I want to know is, _are_ you going to
be a square man, and own up you were peeved into being a tyrant? And when
you've done that, are you going to tell Betty, and apologize?"

George hesitated, trapped between his irritation and the still small voice.

"Look here," he said, with that amiable suavity that had won him many a
concession, "you know well enough I don't want to hurt Betty's feelings. If
she feels that way about it, of course I'll apologize."

His partner looked at him in blank amazement.

"Gad!" he exclaimed as if examining a particularly fine specimen of some
rare beetle, "what a bounder."

"Meaning me?" snapped George.

"Don't dare to quibble. Look me in the eye."

There was a third degree fatality about the usually debonair Penny that
exacted obedience. George unwillingly looked him in the eye, and had a
ghastly feeling of having his suddenly realized smallness X-rayed.

"You know damned well you acted like a cad," Penny continued, "and I want
to know, for all our sakes, if you're man enough to own it?"

George's fundamental honesty mastered him. Anger died from his eyes. His
clenched hands relaxed and began an unconscious and nervous exploration for
a cigarette.

"Since you put it that way," he said, "and it happens that my conscience
agrees with you--I'll go you. I _was_ a cad, and I'll tell Betty so.
Confound it!" he growled, "I don't know _what's_ come over me these days.
I've got to get a grip on myself."

"You _bet_ you have," said Penny, hauling his fists from his trousers as if
with an effort. Then he grinned. "Betty said you would."

George's eyes darkened.

"And I'll tell you now," Penny went on, "since you've turned out at least
half-decent, Betty'll let you off that apology thing. _She_ wasn't the
one who was exacting it--not she. _I_ couldn't stand for your highfalutin
excuses for being--well, never mind--we all get our off days. But don't
you get off again like that if----" Penny hesitated. "If you want me for a
partner," which seemed the obvious conclusion, was tame. "If you want to
hang on to any one's respect," he finished.

"Say, though," he murmured, "Betty'll give me 'what for' for drubbing you.
She actually took your side--said--oh, never mind--tried to make me think
of her just as if she was any old Mamie--the stenog--tried to prune out
personal feeling."

"By Jove," he ruminated, "that girl's a corker!"

He raised forgiving eyes from his contemplation of the rug.

"Well, old man, blow me to a Scotch and soda, and I'll be going. Dinged if
it wouldn't have broken me all up to have busted with you, even if you are
a box of prunes. Shake."

George shook, but he was far from happy. What he had gained in peace of
mind he had lost in self-conceit. His resentment against the pinch of
circumstance was deepening to cancerous vindictiveness.

As Pennington left with a cheery good-by and a final half-cynical word of
advice "to get onto himself" George mounted the stairs slowly and came
face to face with Genevieve, obviously in wait for him.

"What happened?" she inquired, with an anxious glance at his corrugated

George did not feel in a mood to describe his retreat, if not defeat.

"Oh, nothing. We had a highball. I think I made him--well--it's all right."

"There, I knew Betty'd make him see reason," she smiled. "I'm awfully glad.
I've a real respect for Penny's judgment after all, you know."

"Meaning, you have your doubts about mine."

"No, meaning only just what I said--_just_ that. By the way, George, I wish
you'd take time to look into Alys' real estate. Somebody ought to, and if
you're really representing her----"

"Oh, good heavens!" he exclaimed impatiently, angered by her swift
transition from his own to another's affairs. "I can't! I simply can't!
Haven't you any conception of how busy I am?"

"I know, dear; I _do_ know. But something must be done. The Health
Department," she explained, "has sent in complaint after complaint, and
Miss Eliot simply won't handle the property unless she's allowed to spend
a lot setting things to rights. Alys says it's absurd; none of the other
property owners out there are doing anything, and _she_ won't. So, nobody's
looking after it, and somebody should."

"Who told you all this?" he demanded. "Miss E. Eliot, I suppose."

His wife nodded. "And she's right," she added.

"Well, perhaps she is," he allowed. "I'll get Alien to act as her agent
again. He's in with all the politicians; he ought to be able to stall off
the department."

The words slipped out before he realized their import, but at Genevieve's
wide stare of amazement he flushed crimson. "I mean--lots of these
complaints are really mere red tape; some self-important employee is trying
to look busy. A little investigation usually puts that straight."

"Of course," she acquiesced, and he breathed a sigh of relief. "That
happens, too, but Miss Eliot says that the conditions out there are really

"I'll talk to Allen," said George with an affectation of easy dismissal of
the subject;

But Genevieve's mind appeared to have grown suddenly persistent. At dinner
she again brought up the subject, this time directing her troubled gaze and
troubling words at her guest.

"Alys," she said abruptly, "I really think you ought to go out to
Kentwood--to see about your property out there, I mean."

Mrs. Brewster-Smith looked up, rolling her large eyes in frank amazement.

"Go out there? What for? It isn't the sort of a district a lady cares to be
seen in, I'm told; and, besides, George is looking after that for me. _He_
understands such matters, and I frankly own _I_ don't. Business makes me
quite dizzy," she added with a flash of very white teeth.

Genevieve hesitated, then went to the point.

"But you must advise with your agent, Alys. The property is _yours_."

Alys raised sharply penciled brows. "I have utter confidence in George,"
she answered in a tone of finality that brought an adoring look from
Emelene, and her usual Boswellian echo: "Of _course_."

George squirmed uneasily. Such a vote of confidence implied accepted
responsibility, and he acknowledged to himself that he wanted to and would
dodge the unwelcome burden. He turned a benign Jovian expression on Mrs.
Brewster-Smith and condescended to explain.

"I have considered what is best for you, and I will myself see Allen and
request him to take your real-estate affairs in charge again. Neither
Sampson nor--er--Eliot is, I think, advisable for your best interests."

At the mention of the last name Genevieve's expressive face stretched to
speak; then she closed her lips with self-controlled determination. Mrs.
Brewster-Smith looked at her host in scandalized amazement.

"But I _told_ you," she almost whimpered, "that his wife is simply

George smiled tolerantly. "But his wife isn't doing the business. It's the
business, not the social interests, we have to consider.

"Oh, but she is in the business," Alys explained. "I think it's because
she's jealous of him; she wants to be around the office and watch him."

Genevieve interposed. "Mrs. Allen owns a lot of land herself, and she looks
after it. It seems quite natural to me."

"But she _has_ a husband," Alys rebuked.

"Yes," agreed Genevieve, "but she probably married him for a husband, not a
business agent."

George felt the reins of the situation slipping from him, so he jerked the
curb of conversation.

"We are beside the issue," he said in his most legal manner. "The fact is
that Allen knows more about the Kentwood district and the factory values
than any one else, and I feel it my duty to advise Alys to leave her
affairs in his hands. I'll see him for you in the morning."

He turned to Alys with a return of tolerantly protective inflection in his

Genevieve shrugged, a faint ghost of a shrug. Had George been less absorbed
in his own mental discomforts, he would have discovered there and then that
the matter of his speech, not the manner of his delivery, was what held his
wife's attention. No longer could rounded periods and eloquent sophistry
hide from her his thoughts and intentions.

A telephone call interrupted the meal. He answered it with relief, bowing a
hurried, self-important excuse to the ladies. But the voice that came over
the wire was not modulated in tones of flattery.

"Say," drawled the campaign manager, "you'd better get a hump on, and come
over here to headquarters. There's a couple of gents here who want a word
with you."

The tone was ominous, and George stiffened. "Very well, I'll be right over.
But you can pretty well tell them where I stand on the main issues. Who's
at headquarters?"

A snort of disgust greeted the inquiry. The snort told George that
seasoned campaigners did not use the telephone with such casual lack of
circumspection. The words were in like manner enlightening. "Well, there
might be Mr. Julius Caesar, and then again Mr. George Washington might drop
in. What I'm putting you wise to," he added sharply, "is that you'd better
get on to your job."

There was a click as of a receiver hung up with a jerk, and a subdued
giggle that testified to the innocent attention of the telephone operator.

With but a pale reflection of his usual courtesy the harassed candidate
left the bosom of his family. No sooner had he taken his departure than the
bosom heaved.

"My dear girl," said Alys, "if you take that tone with your husband
you'll never hold him--never. Men won't stand for it. You're only hurting

"What tone?" Genevieve inquired as she rose calmly and led the way to the

"I mean"--Mrs. Brewster-Smith slipped a firm, white hand across Genevieve's
shoulders--"you shouldn't try to force issues. It looks as if you didn't
have confidence in your husband, and men, to _do_ and _be_ their best, must
feel perfect trust from the woman they love. You don't mind my being so
frank, dear, but we women must help one another--by our experience and our

Genevieve looked at her. Oblique angles had become irritatingly
fascinating. "I'm beginning to think so more and more," she replied.

"It's for your own good, dear," Alys smiled.

"Yes," Genevieve agreed. "I understand. Things that hurt are often for our
good, aren't they? We have to be _made_ to realize facts really to know

"Coffee, dear?" inquired Alys, assuming the duties of hostess.

Genevieve shook her head. "No. I find I've been rather wakeful of late:
perhaps it's coffee. Excuse me. I must telephone."

A moment later she returned beaming.

"I have borrowed a car for tomorrow, and I want you and Emelene to come
with me for a little spin. We ought to have a bright day; the night is
wonderful. Poor George," she sighed, "I wish he didn't have to be away so

"His career is yours, you know," kittenishly bromidic, Emelene comforted
her. The following day fulfilled the promise of its predecessor. Clear and
balmy, it invited to the outer, world, and it was with pleased anticipation
that Genevieve's guests prepared for the promised outing. Genevieve glanced
anxiously into her gold mesh bag. The motor was hired, not borrowed.

She had permitted herself this one white lie.

She ushered her guests into the tonneau and took her place beside the
chauffeur. Their first few stops were for such prosaic purchases as the
household made necessary; there was a pause at the post office, another at
the Forum, where Genevieve left two highly disgruntled women waiting
for her while with a guilty sense of teasing her prey she prolonged her
business. The sight of their stiffened figures and averted faces when she
returned to them kindled a new amusement.

At last they were settled comfortably, and the car turned toward the

The town streets were passed and lines of villa homes thinned. The ornate
colonial gates of the Country Club flashed by. Now the sky to the right was
dark with the smoke of the belching chimneys of many factories. For a block
or two cottages of the better sort flanked the road; then, grim, ugly
and dilapidated, stretched the twin "improved" sections of Kentwood and
Powderville. In the air was an acrid odor. Soot begrimed everything. The
sodden ground was littered with refuse between the shacks, which were
dignified by the title of "Workmen's Cottages."

Amid the confusion, irregular trodden paths led, short-cutting, toward the
clattering, grinding munition plants. For a space of at least half an acre
around the huge iron buildings the ground, with sinister import, was
kept clear of dwellings, but in all directions outside of the inclosure
thousands of new yellow-pine shacks testified to the sudden demand for
labor. A large weather-beaten signboard at a wired cross-road bore the
name of "Kentwood," plus the advice that the office was adjacent for the
purchase or lease of the highly desirable villa sites.

The motor drew up and Genevieve alighted. For the first time since their
course had been turned toward the unlovely but productive outskirts,
Genevieve faced her passengers. Alys' face was pale. Emelene's expression
was puzzled and worried, as a child's is worried when the child is suddenly
confronted by strange and gloomy surroundings.

"There is some one in the renting office," said Genevieve with quiet
determination. "I'll find but. We shall need a guide to go around with us.
Emelene, you needn't get out unless you wish to."

Emelene shuffled uneasily, half rose, and collapsed helplessly back on
the cushions, like a baby who has encountered the resistance of his buggy

"I--if you'll excuse me, Genevieve, dear, I won't get out. I've only got
on my thin kid slippers. I didn't expect to put foot on the pavement this
morning, you know."

"Very well, then, Alys!" Genevieve's voice assumed a note of command her
mild accents had never before known.

Alys' brilliant eyes snapped. "I have no desire," she said firmly, with all
the dignity of an affronted lady, "to go into this matter." "I know you
haven't. But I'm going to walk through. _I_ am making a report for the
Woman's Forum."

Alys' face crimsoned with anger.

"You have no right to do such a thing," she exclaimed. "I shall refuse you
permission. You will have to obtain a permit."

"I have one," Genevieve retorted, "from the Health Department. And--I am to
meet one of the officers here."

Mrs. Brewster-Smith's descent from the tonneau was more rapid than

"What are you trying to do?" she demanded. "Genevieve, I don't understand

"Don't you?"

The diffident girl had suddenly assumed the incisive strength of observant

"I think you _do_. I am going to show you your own responsibilities, if
that's a possible thing. I'm not going to let you throw them on George
because he's a man and your kin; and I shan't let him throw them on an
irresponsible agent because he has neither the time nor the inclination
to do justice to himself, to you, nor to these people to whom he is

She waved a hand down the muddy, jumbled street.

The advent of an automobile had had its effect. Eager faces appeared at
windows and doors. Children frankly curious and as frankly neglected
climbed over each other, hanging on the ragged fences. Two mongrel dogs
strained at their chains, yelping furiously. Genevieve crossed to the
little square building bearing a gilt "office" sign. There was no response
to her imperative knock, but a middle-aged man appeared on the porch of the
adjoining shack and observed her curiously.

"Wanta rent?" he called jeeringly.

"Are you in charge here?" Genevieve inquired.

"Sorter," he temporized. "Watcha want?"

"I want some one who knows something about it to go around Kentwood with

"What for?" he snarled. "I got my orders."

"From whom?" countered Genevieve.

"None of your business, as I can see." He eyed her narrowly. "But my orders
is to keep every one nosin' around here without no good raison _out_ of the
place--and I don't think _you're_ here to rent, nor your friend, neither.
Besides, there ain't nothin' to rent."

Mrs. Brewster-Smith colored. The insult to her ownership of the premises
stung her to resentment.

"My good man," she said sharply. "I happen to be the proprietor of North
Kent wood."

"Then you'd better beat it." The guardian grinned. "There's a dame been
here with one of them fellers from the town office."

"Where are they now?" questioned Genevieve sharply.

"Went up factory way. But if you _ain't_ one of them lady nosies, you'd
better beat it, I tell you."

Genevieve looked up the street. "Very well, we'll walk on up. This is North
Kentwood, isn't it?"

"Ain't much choice," he shrugged, "but it is. You can smell it a mile. Say,
you lady owner there"--he laughed at his own astuteness in not being taken
in--"you know the monikers, don't you? South Kentwood, 'Stinktown'; North
Kentwood, 'Swilltown'?" He grinned, pulled at his hip pocket and,
extracting a flat glass flask, took a prolonged swig and replaced the
bottle with a leer.

The two incongruous visitors were already negotiating the muddy
thoroughfare between the dilapidated dwellings. Presently these gave place
to roughly knocked together structures for two and three families.

The number of children was surprising. Now and again a shrill-voiced woman,
who seemed the prototype of her who lived in the shoe, came to admonish her
young and stare with hostile eyes at the invaders. Refuse, barrels, cans,
pigs, dogs, chickens, were on all sides, with here and there a street
watering trough, fed, apparently, by an occasional tap at the wide-apart
hydrants, installed by the factories for protection in case of fire, as
evidenced by the signs staked by the apparatus.

"What do they pay you for these cottages?" Genevieve inquired suddenly.

Mrs. Brewster-Smith, whose curiosity concerning her possessions had been
aroused by the physical evidence of the same, balanced on a rut and
surveyed her tormentor angrily.

"I'm sure I don't know. I've told you before I don't understand such
matters, and I see nothing to be gained by coming here."

Genevieve pushed open a battered gate, walked up to the door and knocked.

"What are you doing?" her companion called, querulously.

A noise of many pattering feet on bare floors, a strident order for
silence, and the door swung open. A young girl stood in the doorway. Behind
her were a dozen or more children, varying from toddlers to gawky girls and
boys of school age.

Genevieve's eyes widened. "Dear me," she exclaimed, "they aren't all

The young woman grinned mirthlessly. "I should say not!" she snapped. "They
pays me to look out for 'em--their fathers and mothers in the factory.
Watcha want?"

"What do you pay for a house like this?"

The hired mother's brow wrinkled, and her lips drew back in an ugly snarl.
"They robs us, these landlords does. We gotter be 'longside the works, so
they robs us. What do I pay for this? Thirty a month, and at that 'tain't
fit for no dawg to live in. I could knock up a shack like this with tar
paper, I could.

"And what do we get? I gotter haul the water in a bucket, and cook on an
oil stove, and they hists the price of the ile, 'cause he comes by in a
wagon with it. The landlords is squeezing the life out of us, I tell ye."

She paused in her tirade to yell at her charges. Then she turned again to
the story of her wrongs.

"And of all the pest holes I ever seen, this is the plum worst. There's
chills an' fever an' typhoid till you can't rest, an' them kids is abustin'
with measles an' mumps an' scarlet fever. That I ain't got 'em all myself's
a miracle."

"You ought to have a district nurse and inspector/' said Genevieve, amused,
in spite of her indignation, at the dark picture presented.

"Distric' nothin'," the other sneered. "There ain't nothin' here but rent
an' taxes--doggone if I don't quit. There's plenty to do this here mindin'
work, an' I bet I could make more at the factory. They're payin' grand for

Genevieve looked at the thin shoulders and narrow chest of the girl, noted
her growing pallor and wondered how long such a physique could withstand
the strain of hard work and overtime. She sighed. Something of her thoughts
must have shown in her face, for the girl reddened and her lips tightened.
Without another word she slammed the door in her visitor's face.

Mrs. Brewster-Smith cackled thin laughter.

"That's what you get for interfering," she jeered, so angry with her
hostess for this forced inspection of her source of income that she
was ready to sacrifice the comforts of her extended visit to have the
satisfaction of airing her resentment.

"Poor soul!" said Genevieve. "Thirty a month!" Her eyes ran over the rows
of crowded shacks. "The owners must get together and do something here,"
she said. "These conditions are simply vile."

"It's probably all these people are used to," Alys snapped, "And, besides,
if they went further into town it'd cost them the trolley both ways, and
all the time lost. It's the location they pay for. Mr. Alien told me not
two months ago he thought rents could be raised."

"If you all co-operate," Genevieve continued her own line of thought, "you
could at least clean the place and make it _safe_ to live in, even if they
haven't any comforts."

Her face brightened. Around the corner came the strong, solid figure of
Miss Eliot; behind her trotted a bespectacled young man who carried a
pigskin envelope under his arm and whose expression was far from happy.

"Hello!" called Miss Eliot. "So you did come. I'm glad of it. Let me
present Mr. Glass to you. The department lent him to me for the day. And
what do you think of it, now that you can see it?"

"Glad to meet you," said Genevieve, nodding to the health officer. "What do
I think of it? What does Mr. Glass think? That's more important. Oh, let me
present you--this is Mrs. Brewster-Smith."

Miss Eliot's face showed no surprise, though her eyes twinkled, but Mr.
Glass was frankly taken aback.

"Mrs. Brewster--Smith----Brewster--Smith," he stammered. "Oh--er--" he
gripped his pigskin folio as if about to search its contents to verify the
name. "The--er--the owner?" he inquired.

Alys stiffened. "My dear husband left me this property. I have never before
seen it."

"I'm very glad," beamed Mr. Glass, "to see that we shall have your
co-operation in our efforts to do something definite for this section--and
measures must be taken quickly. As you see, there is no sanitation, no
trenching, no mosquito-extermination plant. Malaria and typhoid are
prevalent; it's all very bad, very bad, indeed. And you'd hardly believe,
Mrs. Brewster-Smith, what difficulties we are having with the owners as a
class. The five biggest have formed an association. I suppose you've heard
about it. They must have made an effort to interest you "--he stopped
short, remembering that her name appeared on the lists of the "Protective

"Really"--Alys had recovered her hauteur and the aloofness becoming the
situation--"I know nothing whatever about what measures my agents have
thought it advisable to take."

Mr. Glass choked and glanced uneasily at Miss Eliot.

That lady grinned, almost the grin of a gamin. "You needn't look at _me_,
Mr. Glass. I don't represent Mrs. Brewster-Smith."

"Oh, I know, I know," Mr. Glass hastened to exonerate his companion.

"I believe Miss Eliot declined the honor," Genevieve's voice was heard.

"I did," the agent affirmed. She laughed shortly. "Otherwise you would
hardly find me here in my present capacity. One does not 'run with the hare
and hunt with the hounds,' you know."

Alys lost her temper. It seemed to her she was ruthlessly being forced to
shoulder responsibilities she had been taught to shirk as a sacred feminine
right. Therefore, feeling injured, she voiced her innocence.

"Your husband, my dear Genevieve, has been good enough to administer my
little estate. Whatever he has done, or now plans to do, meets with _my_
entire approval."

The thrust went home in more directions than one. Miss Eliot turned her
frank gaze upon the speaker, while she slowly nodded her head as if
studying a perfect specimen of a noxious species. Mr. Glass gasped. There
was political material in the statement. He looked anxiously at the wife
of the gentleman implicated, but in her was no fear and no manner of
trembling. Instead, the light of battle shone in her eyes.

"My dear Alys," she said, "my husband has told you that he is too busy a
man to give your affairs his personal attention. He can only advise you and
turn the executive side over to another. His experience does not extend
to the stock market or to real estate. It is an imposition to throw your
burdens upon him. If you derive benefits from ownership, you must educate
yourself to accept your duty to society."

"Indeed!" flared Alys, furious at this public arraignment. "May I ask if
you intend to continue this insulting attitude?" "If you mean, do I expect
hereafter to be a live woman and not a parasite--I do."

Mrs. Brewster-Smith turned on her heel and walked away, teetering over the
ruts and holes of the path.

Genevieve looked distressed. "I'm sorry," she breathed, "I'm ashamed, but
it _had_ to come out. I--I couldn't stand it any longer. I--beg everybody's
pardon. I'm sure, it was awfully bad manners of me. Oh, dear--" she
faltered, half turned, and, with a gesture of appeal toward Mrs.
Brewster-Smith's slowly retreating back, moved as if to follow.

"I wouldn't go after her," said E. Eliot. "Of course, you haven't had
experience. You don't know how much self-restraint you've got to build up,
but you're here now, and I'm sure Mr. Glass understands. _He's_ got to come
up against all sorts of exasperations on _his_ job, too. He won't take
any stock in Mrs. Brewster-Smith's trying to tie your husband up to these
wretched conditions.

"He's looking forward to seeing an honest, public-spirited district
attorney get into office--even if your husband doesn't yet see that women
have anything to say about it. They may heckle him in order to force him to
come out on his intentions about the graft, and the eight-hour day, and the
enforcement of the law, but they don't doubt his honesty. When he know's
what's what, I guess the public can trust him to do the right thing. Only
he's got to be shown."

As she talked, giving Genevieve time to recover from her upheaval, the
three investigators were plowing their way up and down byways equally
depressing and insanitary. Silence ensued. Occasionally an expression of
commiseration or condemnation escaped one or another of the party.

Suddenly a raucous whistle tore the air, followed by another and another,
declaring the armistice of the noon hour. Iron gates in the surrounding
wall were opened, a stream of men and women poured out, grimed,
sweat-streaked and voluble. The two women and their escort paused and
watched the oncoming swarm of humanity.

Around the corner, just ahead, strode a giant of a man, followed by a
red-faced, unkempt, familiar figure--the man in charge of the renting
office. The giant came forward threateningly.

"What youse doing?" he growled. He jerked his jersey, displaying a brass
badge, P. A. Guard.

"Git outer here--git," he called.

Mr. Glass stepped forward, displaying his Health Department permit. The
giant laughed.

"Say, sonny," he sneered, "that don't go--see. Them tin fakes don't git by.
If you're one of them guys, you come here wit' McLaughlin, and youse
can rubber. But we've had enough of this stuff. Them dames is no blind,
neither. I'm guard for the owners here, and we ain't takin' no chances wit'
trouble makers--git. Git a move on!"

"The department," spluttered Glass, "shall hear of this."

"That's all right. McLaughlin's the boss. Tell 'em not to send a kid to do
a man's job."

Genevieve was too amazed to protest. It was her first experience of
defiance of Law and Order by Law and Order.

Meanwhile, the first stragglers of the released army of toilers were nearly
upon them. The giant observed their approach, and the look of menace
deepened on his huge, congested face.

"Move on, now--move on," he snarled, and herded them forward in advance of
the workers.

Sheepishly the three obeyed, but Miss Eliot was not silent.

"Your name?" she demanded in judicial command.

The very terseness of her question seemed to jerk an unwilling answer from
the guard.

"Michael Mehan."

"And you're employed by the Owners' Protective League?"


"Have they given you orders to keep strangers out of the district?"

"I have me orders, and I know what they be. I'm duly sworn in as extra
guard--and I'm not the only one, neither."

"Did _he_ come after you?" Miss Eliot indicated the ruffian at his side.

"I seen the lady owner blew the bunch," that worthy remarked with a hoarse
chuckle. "I wised Mike, all right. Whatcha goin' to do about it?"

"Mrs. Brewster-Smith, the owner," Miss Eliot observed, "didn't seem to know
that she had employed you. How about that?"

"I'm put here by the O.P.L. That's good enough fer yer lady
owner--now--ain't it? The things them nosey dames thinks they can git by
wit'!" he observed to the guard, and swore an oath that made Mr. Glass turn
to him with unexpected fury.

"You may pretend to think that I'm not what I represent myself to be, but
let me tell you, McLaughlin is going to hear of this. One more insult
to these ladies and I'll make it my business to go personally to your
employers. Get me?"

"Shut your trap, Jim," snarled Mehan. "Yer ain't got no orders fer no fancy
language." He leered at Genevieve. "Now we've shooed the chickens out,
we're tru'." With a wave of his huge paw he indicated the highway the turn
of the path revealed.

Genevieve looked to the right, where the car should be waiting her. It
was gone. Evidently the indignant Mrs. Brewster-Smith had expedited the
departure. Miss Eliot read her discomfiture.

"My car is right down here behind that palatial mansion with the hole in
the roof and the tin-can extension. Thank you very much for your escort,"
she added, turning to the two representatives of the Protective League. "My
name, by the way, is E. Eliot. I am a real-estate agent and my office is at
22 Braston Street. You might mention it in your report."

The little car stood waiting, surrounded by a group of admiring children.
Its owner stepped in briskly, backed around and received her passengers.

"Well," she smiled as they drew out on the traveled highway, "how do you
like the purlieus of our noble little city?"

Genevieve was silent. Then she spoke with conviction.

"When George is in power--and he's _got_ to be--the Law will be the Law. I
know him."



George Remington walked toward headquarters with more assurance than he
felt. He resented Doolittle's command that he appear at once. He was
beginning to realize the pressure which these campaign managers were
bringing to bear upon him. He was not sure yet how far he could go, in
out-and-out defiance of them and their dictates.

He knew that he had absolutely no ambitions, no interests in common with
these schemers, whose sole idea lay in party patronage, in manipulating
every political opportunity--in short, in reaping where they had sown.
The question now confronting him was this: was he prepared to sell his
political birthright for the mess of pottage they offered him?

He stood a second at the door of the office, peering through the reeking,
smoke-filled atmosphere, to get a bird's-eye view of the situation before
he entered.

Mr. Doolittle sat on the edge of a table monologuing to Wes' Norton and Pat
Noonan. Mr.

Norton was the president of the Whitewater Commercial Club, composed of the
leading merchants of the town, and Mr. Noonan was the apostle of the liquor
interests. Remington felt his back stiffen as he stepped among them.

"Good-evening, gentlemen," he said briskly.

"H'are ye, George?" drawled Doolittle.

"There was something you wanted to discuss with me?"

"I dunno as there's anything to discuss, but there's a few things Wes' an'
Pat an' me'd like to say to ye. There ain't no two ways of thinkin' about
the prosperity of Whitewater, ye know, George. The merchants in this town
is satisfied with the way things is boomin'. The factory workers is gittin'
theirs, with high wages an' overtime. The stockholders is makin' no kick on
the dividends--as ye know, George, being one of them.

"Now, we don't want nuthin' to disturb all this If the fact'ries is
crackin' the law a bit, why, it ain't the first time such things has got
by the inspector. The fact'ry managers'd like some assurance from ye that
ye're goin' to keep yer hands off before they line up the fact'ry hands to
vote for ye."

Doolittle paused here. George nodded.

"When are ye comin' out with a plain statement of yer intentions, George?"
inquired Mr. Norton in a conciliatory tone.

"The voters in this town will get a clear statement of my stand on all the
issues of this campaign in plenty of time, gentlemen."

"That's all right fer the voter, but ye can't stall _us_ wit' that kind of
talk--" began Noonan.

"Wait a minute, Pat," counseled Doolittle. "George means all right. He's
new to this game, but he means to stand fer the intrusts of his party,
don't ye, George?"

"I should scarcely be the candidate of that party if I did not."

"I ain't interested in no oratory. Are ye or are ye not goin' to keep yer
hands off the prosperity of Whitewater?" demanded Noonan angrily.

"Look here, Noonan, I am the candidate for this office--you're not. I
intend to do as my conscience dictates. I will not be hampered at every
turn, nor told what to say and what to think. I must get to these things in
my own way."

"Don't ye fergit that ye're _our_ candidate, that ye are to express the
opinion of the people who will elect ye, and not any dam' theories of yer

"I think I get your meaning, Noonan."

George spoke with a smile which for some reason disconcerted Noonan. He
sensed with considerable irritation the social and class breach between
himself and Remington, and while he did not understand it he resented it.
He called him "slick" to Wes' and Doolittle and loudly bewailed their
choice of him as candidate.

"Then there's that P.L. bizness, Pat--don't fergit that," urged Wes'.

"I ain't fergittin' it. There's too much nosin' round Kentwood district by
the women, George. Too much talkin'. Ye'd better call that off right now.
Property owners down there is satisfied, an' they got _their_ rights, ye
know." "I suppose you know what the conditions down there are?"

"Sure we know, George, and we want to clean it up down there just as much
as you do," said the pacific Doolittle; "but what we're sayin' is, this
ain't the time to do it. Later, mebbe, when the conditions is jest

"Somebody has got the women stirred up fer fair. It's up to you to call 'em
off, George," said Mr. Norton.

"How can I call them off?"--tartly.

"Ye can put the brakes on Mrs. Remington and that there Sheridan girl,
can't ye?"

"Miss Sheridan is no longer in my employ. As for Mrs. Remington, if she is
not one in spirit with me, I cannot force her to be. Every human being has
a right to----"

"Some change sence ye last expressed yerself, George. Seems like I recall
ye sayin', 'I'll settle that!'" remarked Doolittle coldly.

"We will leave my wife's name out of the discussion, please," said George
with tardy but noble loyalty. "Well, them two I mentioned can stir up some
trouble; but they ain't the brains of their gang, by a long shot. It's this
E. Eliot we gotta deal with. She's as smart, if not smarter, than any man
in this town. She's smarter than you, George--or me, either," he added

"I've seen her about, but I've never talked to her. What sort of woman is

"Quiet, sensible kind. Ye keep thinking, 'How reasonable that woman is,'
till ye wake up and find she's got ye hooked on one of the horns of yer own
damfoolishness! Slick as they make 'em and straight as a string--that's E.

"What do you want me to do about it?"--impatiently.

"Are ye aimin' to answer them voiceless questions?" Pat inquired.


"Plannin' to tear down Kentwood and enforce them factory laws?" demanded
Wes' Norton.

Still no answer.

"I'm jest callin' yer attention to the fact that this election is gittin'
nearer every day." "What am I to do with her? I can't afford to show we're
afraid of her."


"I can't bribe her to stop."

"I'd like to see the fella that would try to bribe E. Eliot," Doolittle
chuckled. "Wouldn't be enough of him left to put in a teacup."

"Then we've got to ignore her."

"_We_ can ignore her, all right, George; but the women an' some of the
voters ain't ignoring her. It's my idea she's got a last card up her sleeve
to play the day before we go to the polls that'll fix us."

"Have you any plan in your mind?"

Doolittle scratched his head, wrestling with thought.

"We was thinking that if she could be called away suddenly, and detained
till after election--" he began meaningly.

"You mean----"

"Something like that."

"I won't have it, not if I lose the election. I won't stoop to kidnapping
a woman like a highwayman. What do you take me for, Doolittle?" "Georgie,
politics ain't no kid-glove bizness. It ain't what _you_ want; you're jest
a small part of this affair. You're _our_ candidate, and we _got_ to win
this here election. Do you get me?"

He shot out his underjaw, and there was no sign of his usual good humor.

"Well, but----"

"You don't have to know anything about this. We'll handle it. You'll be
pertected to the limit; don't you worry," sneered Noonan.

"But you can't get away with this old-fashioned stuff nowadays, Doolittle,"
protested Remington.

"Can't we? You jest leave it to your Uncle Benjamin. You don't know nothing
about this. See?"

"I know it's a dirty, low, underhanded----"

"George," remarked Mr. Doolittle, slowly hoisting his big body on to its
short legs, "in politics we don't call a spade a spade. We call it 'a
agricultural implument.'"

With this sage remark Mr. Doolittle took his departure, followed by the
other prominent citizens.

George sat where they left him, head in hands, for several moments. Then he
sprang up and rushed to the door to call them back.

He would not stand it--he would not win at that price. He had conceded
everything they had demanded of him up to this point, but here he drew the
line. Ever since that one independent fling of his about suffrage they had
treated him like a naughty child. What did they think he was--a rubber
doll? He would telephone Doolittle that he would rather give up his
candidacy. Here he paused.

Suppose he did withdraw, nobody would understand. The town would think the
women had frightened him off. He couldn't come out now and denounce the
machine methods of his party. Every eye in Whitewater was focused on him;
his friends were working for him; the district attorneyship was the next
step in his career; Genevieve expected him to win--no, he must go through
with it! But after he got into office, then he would show them! He would
take orders from no one. He sat down again and moodily surveyed the

In the days which followed, another mental struggle was taking place in the
Remington family. Poor Genevieve was like a woman struck by lightning. She
felt that her whole structure of life had crashed about her ears. In one
blinding flash she had seen and condemned George because he considered
political expediency. She realized that she must think for herself now and
not rely on him for the family celebration. She had conceived her whole
duty in life to consist in being George's wife; but now, by a series of
accidents, she had become aware of the great social responsibilities, the
larger human issues, which men and women must meet together.

Betty and E. Eliot had pointed out to her that she knew nothing of the
conditions in her own town. They assured her that it was as much her duty
to know about such things as to know the condition of her own back yard.

Then came the awful revelations of Kentwood--human beings huddled like
rats; children swarming, dirty and hungry! She could not bear to remember
the scenes she had witnessed in Kentwood.

She recalled the shock of Alys Brewster-Smith's indifference to all that
misery! The widow's one instinct had seemed to be to fight E. Eliot and the
health officer for their interference. Stranger still, the tenants did not
want to be moved out, driven on. The whole situation was confused, but in
it at least one thing stood out clearly: Genevieve realized, during the
sleepless night after her visit to Kentwood, that she hated Cousin Alys!

The following Sunday, when she put on her coat, she found a souvenir of
that visit in her pocket, a soiled reminder of poverty and toil. She
remembered picking it up and noting that it was the factory pass of
one Marya Slavonsky. She had intended to leave it with some one in the
district, but evidently in the excitement of her enforced exit she had
thrust it into her pocket.

This Marya worked in the factories. She was one of that grimy army
Genevieve had seen coming out of the factory gate, and she went home to
that pen which Cousin Alys provided. Marya was a girl of Genevieve's own
age, perhaps, while she, Genevieve, had this comfortable home, and George!
She had been blind, selfish, but she would make up for it, she _would_! She
would make a study of the needs of such people; she would go among them
like St. Agatha, scattering alms and wisdom. George might have his work;
she had found hers! She would begin with the factory girls. She would waken
them to what had so lately dawned on her. How could she manage it? The
rules of admission in the munition factories were very strict.

Then again her eye fell upon the soiled card and a great idea was born in
her brain. Dressed as a factory girl, she would use Marya's card to get her
into the circle of these new-found sisters. She would see how and where
they worked. She would report it all to the Forum and to George. She could
be of use to George at last.

She remembered Betty's statement that at midnight in the factories the
women and girls had an hour off. That was the time she chose, with true
dramatic instinct.

She rummaged in the attic for an hour, getting her costume ready. She
decided on an old black suit and a shawl which had belonged to her mother.
She carried these garments to her bedroom and hid them there. Then, with
Machiavellian finesse, she laid her plans.

She would slip out of bed at half-past eleven o'clock, taking care not to
waken George, and she would dress and leave the house by the side door.
By walking fast she could reach by midnight the factory to which she had

It annoyed her considerably to have George announce at luncheon that he had
a political dinner on for the evening and probably would not be home before
midnight. He grumbled a little over the dinner. "The campaign," he said,
"really ended yesterday. But Doolittle thought it was wise to have a last
round-up of the business men, and give them a final speech."

Genevieve acquiesced with a sympathetic murmur, but she was disappointed.
Merely to walk calmly out of the house at eleven o'clock lessened the
excitement. However, she decided upon leaving George a note explaining that
she had gone to spend the night with Betty Sheridan.

She looked forward to the long afternoon with impatience. Cousin Emelene
was taking her nap. Mrs. Brewster-Smith left immediately after lunch to
make a call on one of her few women friends. Genevieve tried to get Betty
on the telephone, but she was not at home.

It was with a thrill of pleasure that she saw E. Eliot coming up the walk
to the door. She hurried downstairs just as the maid explained that Mrs.
Brewster-Smith was not at home.

"Oh, won't you come in and see me for a moment, Miss Eliot?" Genevieve
begged. "I do so want to talk to you."

E. Eliot hesitated. "The truth is, I am fearfully busy today, even though
it's Sunday. I wanted to get five minutes with Mrs. Brewster-Smith about
those cottages--" she began.

Genevieve laid a detaining hand on her arm and led her into the

"She's hopeless! I can hardly bear to have her in my house after the way
she acted about those fearful places."

"Well, all that district is the limit, of course. She isn't the only

"But she didn't _see_ those people." "She's human, I guess--didn't want to
see disturbing things."

"I would have torn down those cottages with my own hands!" burst forth

E. Eliot stared. "No one likes her income cut down, you know," she

"Income! What is that to human decencies?" cried the newly awakened

"Your husband doesn't entirely agree with you in some of these matters, I

"Oh, yes he does, in his heart! But there's something about politics that
won't let you come right out and say what you think."

"Not after you've come right out once and said the wrong thing," laughed
E. Eliot. "I'm afraid you will have to use your indirect influence on him,
Mrs. Remington."

Genevieve threw her cards on the table.

"Miss Eliot, I am just beginning to see how much there is for women to do
in the world. I want to do something big--the sort of thing you and Betty
Sheridan are doing--to rouse women. What can I do?" E. Eliot scrutinized
the ardent young face with amiable amusement.

"You can't very well help us just now without hurting your husband's
chances and embarrassing him in the bargain. You see, we're trying to
embarrass him. We want him to kick over the traces and tell what he's going
to do as district attorney of this town."

"But can't I do something that won't interfere with George? Couldn't I
investigate the factories, or organize the working girls?"

"My child, have you ever organized anything?" exclaimed E. Eliot.


"Well, don't begin on the noble working girl. She doesn't organize easily.
Wait until the election is over. Then you come in on our schemes and we'll
teach you how to do things. But don't butt in now, I beg of you. Misguided,
well-meaning enthusiasts like you can do more harm to our cause than all
the anti-suffragists in this world!"

With her genial, disarming smile, E. Eliot rose and departed. She chuckled
all the way back to her rooms over the idea of Remington's bride wanting to
take the field with the enemies of her wedded lord.

"Women, women! God bless us, but we're funny!" mused E. Eliot.

Genevieve liked her caller immensely, and she thought over her advice, but
she determined to let it make no difference in her plans.

She saw her work cut out for her. She would not flinch!

She would do her bit in the great cause of women--no, of humanity. The
flame of her purpose burned steadily and high.

At a quarter-past eleven that night a slight, black-clad figure, with a
shawl over its head, softly closed the side door of the Remington house
and hurried down the street. Never before had Genevieve been alone on the
streets after dark. She had not foreseen how frightened she would be at the
long, dark stretches, nor how much more frightened when any one passed her.
Two men spoke to her. She sped on, turning now this way, now that, without
regard to direction--her eyes over her shoulder, in terror lest she be

So it was that she plunged around a corner and into the very arms of E.
Eliot, who was sauntering home from a political meeting, where she had
been a much-advertised speaker. She was in the habit of prowling about by
herself. Tonight she was, as usual, unattended--unless one observed two
burly workingmen who walked slowly in her wake.

"Oh, I beg your pardon," came a gently modulated voice from behind the
shawl. E. Eliot stared.

"No harm done here. Did I hurt you?" she replied.

She thought she heard an involuntary "Oh!" from beneath the shawl.

"No, thanks. Could you tell me how to get to the Whitewater Arms and
Munitions Factory? I'm all turned around."

"Certainly. Two blocks that way to the State Road, and half a mile north on
that. Shall I walk to the road with you?"

"Oh, no, thank you," the girl answered and hurried on. E. Eliot stood and
watched her. Where had she heard that voice? She knew a good many girls who
worked at the factories, but none of them spoke like that. All at once a
memory came to her: "Couldn't I investigate something, or organize the
working girls?" Mrs. George Remington!

"The little fool," ejaculated the other woman, and turned promptly to
follow the flying figure.

The two burly gentlemen in the rear also turned and followed, but E. Eliot
was too busy planning how to manage Mrs. Remington to notice them. She had
to walk rapidly to keep her quarry in sight. As she came within some thirty
yards of the gate she saw Genevieve challenge the gatekeeper, present her
card and slip inside, the gate clanging to behind her.

E. Eliot broke into a jog trot, rounded the corner of the wall, pulled
herself up quickly, using the stones of the wall as footholds. She hung
from the top and let herself drop softly inside, standing perfectly still
in the shadow. At the same moment the two burly gentlemen ran round the
corner and saw nothing. "I told ye to run--" began one of them fiercely.

"Aw, shut up. If she went over here, she'll come out here. We'll wait."

The midnight gong and the noise of the women shuffling out into the
courtyard drowned that conversation for E. Eliot. She stood and watched the
gatekeeper saunter indoors, not waiting for the man who relieved him on
duty. She watched Genevieve go forward and meet the factory hands.

The newcomer shyly spoke to the first group. The eavesdropper could not
hear what she said. But the crowd gathered about the speaker, shuffling,
chaffing, finally listening. Somebody captured the gatekeeper's stool and
Genevieve stood on it.

"What I want to tell you is how beautiful it is for women to stand together
and work together to make the world better," she began.

"Say, what is your job?" demanded a girl, suspicious of the soft voice and
modulated speech.

"Well, I--I only keep house now. But I intend to begin to do a great deal
for the community, for all of you----" "She keeps house--poor little
overworked thing!"

"But the point is, not what you do, but the spirit you do it in----"

"What is this, a revival meetin'?"

"So I want to tell you what the women of this town mean to do."

"Hear! Hear! Listen at the suffragette!"

"First, we mean to clean up the Kentwood district. You all know how awful
those cottages are."

"Sure; we live in 'em!"

"We intend to force the landlords to tear them down and improve all that

"Much obliged, lady, and where do we go?" demanded one of her listeners.

"You must have better living conditions."

"But where? Rents in this town has boomed since the war began. Ain't that
got to you yet? There ain't no place left fer the poor."

"Then we must find places and make them healthy and beautiful."

"For the love of Mike! She's talkin' about heaven, ain't she?" "She's
talkin' through her hat!" cried another.

"Then, we mean to make the factories obey the laws. They have no right to
make you girls work here at night."

"Who's makin' us?"

"We are going to force the factories to obey the letter of the law on our
statute books."

A thin, flushed girl stepped out of the crowd and faced her.

"Say, who is 'we'?"

"Why, all of us, the women of Whitewater."

"How are we goin' to repay the women of Whitewater fer tearin' down our
homes an' takin' away our jobs? Ain't there somethin' we can do to show our
gratitood?" the new speaker asked earnestly.

"Go to it--let her have it, Mamie Flynn!" cried the crowd.

"Oh, but you mustn't look at it that way! We must all make some

"Cut that slush! What do you know about sacrifices? I'm on to you. You're
one of them uptown reformers. What do you know about sacrifices? Ye got a
sure place to sleep, ain't ye? Ye've got a full belly an' a husband to give
ye spendin' money, ain't ye? Don't ye come down here gittin' our jobs away
an' then fergettin' all about us!"

There was a buzz of agreement and an undertone of anger which to an
experienced speaker would have been ominous. But Genevieve blundered on:
"We only want to help you----"

"We don't want yer help ner yer advice. You keep yer hands off our
business! Do yer preachin' uptown--that's where they need it. Ask the
landlords of Kentwood and the stockholders in the munition factories to
make some sacrifices, an' see where that gits ye! But don't ye come down
here, a-spyin' on us, ye dirty----"

The last words were happily lost as the crowd of girls closed in on
Genevieve with cries of "Spy!" "Scab!" "Throw her out!"

They had nearly torn her clothes off before E. Eliot was among them. She
sprang up on the chair and shouted:

"Girls--here, hold on a minute."

There was a hush. Some one called out: "It's Miss E. Eliot." "Listen a
minute. Don't waste your time getting mad at this girl. She's a friend of
mine. And you may not believe me, but she means all right."

"What's she pussyfootin' in here for?"

"Don't you know the story of the man from Pittsburgh who died and went on?"
cried E. Eliot. "Some kindly spirit showed him round the place, and the
newcomer said: 'Well, I don't think heaven's got anything on Pittsburgh.'
'This isn't heaven!' said the spirit."

There was a second's pause, and then the laugh came.

"Now, this girl has just waked up to the fact that Whitewater isn't heaven,
and she thought you'd like to hear the news! I'll take the poor lamb home,
put cracked ice on her head and let her sleep it off."

They laughed again.

"Go to it," said the erstwhile spokeswoman for the working girls.

E. Eliot called them a cheery good-night. The factory girls drifted away,
in little groups, leaving Genevieve, bedraggled and hysterical, clinging to
her rescuer.

"They would have killed me if you hadn't come!" she gasped.

E. Eliot thought quickly.

"Stand here in the shadow of the fence till I come back," she said. "It
will be all right. I've got to run into the office and send a telephone
message. I have a pal there who will let me do it."

"You--you won't be long?"

It was clear that the nerve of Mrs. Remington was quite gone.

"I won't be gone five minutes."

E. Eliot was as good as her word.

When she returned she seized the stool on which her companion had made her
maiden speech--ran to the wall, placed it at the spot where she had made
her entrance and urged Genevieve to climb up and drop over; as she
obeyed, E. Eliot mounted beside her. They dropped off, almost at the same
moment--into arms upheld to catch them.

Genevieve screamed, and was promptly choked. "What'll we do with this extra
one?" asked a hoarse voice.

"Bring her. There's no time to waste now. If ye yell again, ye'll both be
strangled," the second speaker added as he led the way toward the road,
where the dimmed lights of a motor car shone.

He was carrying E. Eliot as if she were a doll. Behind him his assistant
stumbled along, bearing, less easily but no less firmly, the, wife of the
candidate for district attorney!



As the two gagged women--one comfortably gagged with more or less pleasant
bandages made and provided, the other gagged by the large, smelly hand of
an entire stranger to Mrs. George Remington--whom she was trying impolitely
to bite, by way of introduction--were speeding through the night, Mr.
George Remington, ending a long and late speech before the Whitewater
Business Men's Club, was saying these things:

"I especially deplore this modern tendency to talk as though there were two
kinds of people in this country--those interested in good government, and
those interested in bad government. We are all good Americans. We are all
interested in good government. Some of us believe good government may
be achieved through a protective tariff and a proper consideration for
prosperity [cheers], and others, in their blindness, bow down to wood and

He smiled amiably at the laughter, and continued:

"But while some of us see things differently as to means, our aims are
essentially the same. You don't divide people according to trades and
callings. I deplore this attempt to set the patriotic merchant against the
patriotic saloonkeeper; the patriotic follower of the race track against
the patriotic manufacturer.

"Here is my good friend, Benjie Doolittle. When he played the ponies in the
old days, before he went into the undertaking and furniture business, was
he less patriotic than now? Was he less patriotic then than my Uncle Martin
Jaffry is now, with all his manufacturer's interest in a stable government?
And is my Uncle Martin Jaffry more patriotic than Pat Noonan? Or is Pat
less patriotic than our substantial merchant, Wesley Norton?

"Down with this talk that would make lines of moral and patriotic cleavage
along lines of vocation or calling. I want no votes of those who pretend
that the good Americans should vote in one box and the bad Americans in
another box. I want the votes of those of all castes and cults who believe
in prosperity [loud cheers], and I want the votes of those who believe
in the glorious traditions of our party, its magnificent principles, its
martyred heroes, its deathless name in our history!"

It was, of course, an after-dinner speech. Being the last speech of the
campaign it was also a highly important one. But George Remington felt, as
he sat listening to the din of the applause, that he had answered rather
neatly those who said he was wabbling on the local economic issue and was
swaying in the wind of socialist agitation which the women had started in

As he left the hotel where the dinner had been given, he met his partner on
the sidewalk.

"Get in, Penny," he urged, jumping into his car. "Come out to the house for
the night, and we'll have Betty over to breakfast. Then she and Genevieve
and you and I will see if we can't restore the _ante-bellum modus vivendi_!
Come on! Emelene and Alys always breakfast in bed, anyway, and it will be
no trouble to get Betty over." The two men rode home in complacent silence.
It was long past midnight. They sat on the veranda to finish their cigars
before going into the house.

"Penny," asked George suddenly, "what has Pat Noonan got in this game--I
mean against the agitation by the women and this investigation of
conditions in Kentwood? Why should he agonize over it?"

"Is he fussing about it?"

"Is he? Do you think I'd tie his name up in a public speech with Martin
Jaffry if Pat wasn't off the reservation? You could see him swell up like a
pizened pup when I did it! I hope Uncle Martin will not be offended."

"He's a good sport, George. But say--what did Pat do to give you this

Remington smoked in meditative silence, then answered:

"Well, Penny, I had to raise the devil of a row the other day to keep Pat
from ribbing up Benjie Doolittle and the organization to a frame-up to
kidnap this Eliot person."

"Kidnap E. Eliot!" gasped the amazed Evans. "Kidnap that very pest. And I
tell you, man, if I hadn't roared like a stuck ox they would have done
it! Fancy introducing 'Prisoner of Zenda' stuff into the campaign in
Whitewater! Though I will say this, Penny, as between old army friends and
college chums," continued Mr. Remington earnestly, "if a warrior bold with
spurs of gold, who was slightly near-sighted and not particular about his
love being so damned young and fair, would swoop down and carry this E.
Eliot off to his princely donjon, and would let down the portcullis for two
days, until the election is over, it would help some! Though otherwise I
don't wish her any bad luck!"

The old army friend and college chum laughed.

"Well, that's your end of the story! I'm mighty glad you stopped it. Here's
my end. You remember two-fingered Moll, who was our first client? The one
who insisted on being referred to as a lady? The one who got converted and
quit the game and who thought she was being pursued by the racetrack gang
because she was trying to live decent?"

George smiled in remembrance. "Well, she called me up to know if there
was any penalty for renting a house to Mike the Goat and his wife and old
Salubrious the Armenian, who had a lady friend they were keeping from the
cops against her will. She said they weren't going to hurt the lady, and I
could see her every day to prove it. I advised her to keep out of it, of
course; but she was strong for it, because of what she called the big
money. I explained carefully that if anything should happen, her past
reputation would go against her. But she kept saying it was straight, until
I absolutely forbade her to do it, and she promised not to."

"Mike and his woman, and Old Salubrious!" echoed Remington. "And E. Eliot
locked up with them for two days!"

He shivered, partly at the memory of his own mealy-mouthed protest.

"Well," he said, and there was an air of finality in his tone, "I'm glad I
stopped the whole infamous business."

Mentally he decided to get Noonan on the telephone the first thing in the
morning and make certain that the plan was abandoned. He continued his
chat with Evans.

"But, Penny, why this agonizing of Noonan? What has he to lose by the
better conditions in Kentwood? Why should he----"

Outside of a neat white dwelling in the suburbs of Whitewater, four figures
were struggling in the night toward a vine-covered door--that door which
appeared so attractively in the _Welfare Bulletin_ of the Toledo Blade
Steel Company's publicity program as the "prize garden home of J. Agricola,

A woman stood in the doorway, holding the door open. Two women, who had
been carried by two men, from an automobile at the gate, were forced
through. There the men left them with their hostess.

"I was only looking for one of yez," she said, hospitably, "but you're bote
welcome. Now, ladies, I'm goin' to make you comfortable. It won't do no
good to scream, so I'm goin' to take your gags off. And I hope you, lady,
haven't been inconvenienced by a handkerchief. We could just as well
have arranged for your comfort, too."

"Madam," gasped E. Eliot, who was the first to be released to speech, "it
is unimportant who I am. But do you know that this woman with me is Mrs.
George Remington, the wife of the candidate for district attorney--Mr.
George Remington of Whitewater? There has been a mistake."

The hostess looked at Genevieve, who nodded a tearful confirmation. But the
woman only smiled.

"My man don't make mistakes," she said laconically. "And, what's more to
the point, miss, he's a friend of George Remington, and why should he be
giving his lady a vacation? You are E. Eliot, and your friends think you're
workin' too hard, so they're goin' to give you a nice rest. Nothin' will
happen to you if you are a lady, as I think you are. And when I find out
who this other lady is, we'll make her as welcome as you!"

She went out of the room, locking the door behind her as the two women
struggled vainly with their bonds. In an instant she returned.

"My man says to tell the one who thinks she's Mrs. George Remington that
she's spendin' the week-end with Mrs. Napoleon Boneypart." My man says
he's a good friend of George Remington and is supportin' him for district
attorney, and that's how he can make it so pleasant here.

"And I'll tell you something else," she continued proudly. "When George got
married, it was my man that went up and down Smoky Row and seen all the
girls and got 'em to give a dollar apiece for them lovely roses labeled
'The Young Men's Republican Club.' Mr. Doolittle he seen to that. My man
really collected fifty dollars more'n he turned in, and I got a diamond-set
wrist watch with it! So, you see, we're real friendly with them Remingtons,
and we're glad to see you, Mrs. Remington!"

"Oh, how horrible!" cried Genevieve. "There were eight dozen of those roses
from the Young Men's Republican Club, and to think---Oh, to think----"

"Well, now, George," cried Mr. Penfield Evans, "just stop and think. Use
your bean, my boy! What is the one thing on earth that puts the fear of God
into Pat Noonan? It's prohibition. Look at the prohibition map out West and
at the suffrage map out West. They fit each other like the paper on the
wall. Whatever women may lack in intelligence about some things, there is
one thing woman knows--high and low, rich and poor! She knows that the
saloon is her enemy, and she hits it; and Pat Noonan, seeing this rise of
women investigating industry, makes common cause with Martin Jaffry and
the whole employing class of Whitewater against the nosey interference of

"And Pat Noonan is depending on you," continued Evans. "He expects you to
rise. He expects you to go to Congress--possibly to the Senate, and he
figures that he wants to be dead sure you'll not get to truckling to
decency on the liquor question. So he ties you up--or tries you out for a
tie-up or a kidnapping; and Benjie Doolittle, who likes a sporting event,
takes a chance that you'll stand hitched in a plan to rid the community of
a political pest without seriously hurting the pest--a friendless old maid
who won't be missed for a day or two, and whose disappearance can be hushed
up one way or another after she appears too late for the election.

"Just figure things out, George. Do you think Noonan got Mike the Goat to
assess the girls on the row a dollar apiece for your flowers from the Young
Men's Republican Club, for his health! You had the grace to thank Pat, but
if you didn't know where they came from," explained Mr. Evans cynically,
"it was because you have forgotten where all Pat's floral offerings from
the Y.M.R.C. come from at weddings and funerals! And Pat feels that you're
his kind of people.

"Politics, George, is not the chocolate eclair that you might think it, if
you didn't know it! Use your bean, my boy! Use your bean! And you'll see
why Pat Noonan lines up with the rugged captains of industry who are the
bulwarks of our American liberty. Pat uses his head for something more than
a hatrack."

The two puffed for a time in silence. Finally the host said: "Well, let's
turn in." Three minutes later George called across the upper hall to

"The joke's on us, Penny. Here's a note saying that Genevieve is over with
Betty for the night. We'll call her up after breakfast and have them both
over to a surprise party."

Penny strolled across to his friend's door. He was disappointed, and he
showed it. He found George sitting on the side of his bed.

"Penny," mused the Young Man in Politics, in his finest mood, "you know I
sometimes think that, perhaps, way down deep, there is something wrong with
our politics. I don't like to be hooked up with Noonan and his gang. And I
don't like the way Noonan and his gang are hooked up with Wesley Norton and
the silk stockings and Uncle Martin and the big fellows. Why can't we get
rid of the Noonan influence? They aren't after the things we're after!
They only furnish the unthinking votes that make majorities that elect the
fellows the big crooks handle. Lord, man, it's a dirty mess! And why women
want to get into the dirty mess is more than I can see." "What a sweet
valedictory address you are making for a young ladies' school!" scoffed
Penny. "The hills are green far off! Aren't you the Sweet Young Thing. But
I'll tell you why the women want to get in, George. They think they want to
clean up the mess."

"But would they clean it? Wouldn't they vote about as we vote?"

"Well," answered Mr. Evans with the cynicism of the judicial mind, "let's
see. You know now, if you didn't know at the time, that Noonan got Mike
the Goat to assess the disorderly houses for the money to buy your wedding
roses from the Y.M.R.C. All right. Noonan's bartender is on the ticket with
you as assemblyman. Are you going to vote for him or not?"

"But, Penny, I've just about got to vote for him."

"All right, then. I'll tell Genevieve the truth about Noonan and the
flowers, and I'll ask her if she would feel that she had to vote for
Noonan's bartender!" retorted Mr. Evans. "Giving women the ballot will help
at least that much. If the Noonans stay in politics, they'll get no help
from the women when they vote!"

"But aren't we protecting the women?"

* * * * *

"Anyway, Mrs. Remington," said E. Eliot comfortably, "I'm glad it happened
just this way. Without you, they would hold me until after the election on
Tuesday. With you, about tomorrow at ten o'clock we shall be released. E.
Eliot alone they have made every provision for holding. They have started
a scandal, I don't doubt, necessary to explain my absence, and pulled the
political wires to keep me from making a fuss about it afterward. They know
their man in the district attorney's office, and----"

"Do you mean George Remington?" This from his wife, with flashing eyes.

"I mean," explained E. Eliot unabashed, "that for some reason they feel
safe with George Remington in the district attorney's office, or they would
not kidnap me to prevent his defeat! That is the cold-blooded situation."

"This party," E. Eliot smiled, "is given at the country home of Mike the
Goat, as nearly as I can figure it out. Mike is a right-hand man of Noonan.
Noonan is a right-hand man of Benjie Doolittle and Wesley Norton, and they
are all a part of the system that holds Martin Jaffry's industries under
the amiable beneficence of our sacred protective tariff! Hail, hail, the
gang's all here--what do we care now, my dear? And because you are here and
are part of the heaven-born combination for the public good, I am content
to go through the rigors of one night without a nightie for the sake of the

"But they don't know who I am!" protested Mrs. Remington. "And----"

"Exactly, and for that reason they don't know who you are not. Tomorrow the
whole town will be looking for you, and Noonan will hear who you are and
where you are. Then! Say, girl--_say, girl,_ it _will_ be grist for our
mill! Fancy the headlines all over the United States:


"But he won't be silent," protested the indignant Genevieve.

"I tell you, he'll denounce it from the platform. He'll never let this

"Well, my dear," said the imperturbable E. Eliot, "when he denounces this
plot he'll have to denounce Doolittle and Noonan, and probably Norton, and
maybe his Uncle Martin Jaffry. Somebody is paying big money for this job! I
said the headlines will declare:

'CANDIDATE REMINGTON is SILENT But Still Maintains That Women Are Protected
from Rigors of Cruel World by Man's Chivalry.'"

"Oh, Miss Eliot, don't! How can you? Oh, I know George will not let this

"Of course not," hooted E. Eliot. "The sturdy oak will support the clinging
vine! But while he is doing it he will be defeated. And if he doesn't
protest he will be defeated, for I shall talk!"

"George Remington will face defeat like a gentleman, Miss Eliot; have no
fear of that. He will speak out, no matter what happens." "And when he
speaks, when he tells the truth about this whole alliance between the
greedy, ruthless rich and the brutal, vicious dregs of this community--our
cause is won!"

* * * * *

The next morning George Remington reached from his bed for his telephone
and called up the Sheridan residence. Two minutes later Penfield Evans
heard a shout. At his door stood the unclad and pallid candidate for
district attorney.

"Penny," he gasped, "Genevieve's not there! She has not been with Betty all
night. And Betty has gone out to find E. Eliot, who is missing from her

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