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The Sturdy Oak by Samuel Merwin

Part 4 out of 4

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"Are you sure----"

"God--Penny--I thought I had stopped it!"

George was back in his room, flying into his clothes. The two men were
talking loudly. From down the hall a sleepy voice--unmistakably Mrs.
Brewster-Smith's--was drawling:

"George--George--are you awake? I didn't hear you come in. Dear Genevieve
went over to stay all night with Cousin Betty, and the oddest thing
happened. About midnight the telephone bell rang, and that odious Eliot
person called you up!"

George was in the hall in an instant and before Mrs. Brewster-Smith's door.

"Well, well, for God's sake, what did she say!" he cried.

"Oh, yes, I was coming to that. She said to send your chauffeur with
the car down to the--oh, I forget, some nasty factory or something, for
Genevieve. She said Genevieve was down there talking to the factory girls.
Fancy that, George! So I just put up the receiver. I knew Genevieve was
with Betty Sheridan and not with that odious person at all--it was some
ruse to get your car and compromise you. Fancy dear Genevieve talking to
the factory girls at midnight!"

Penfield Evans and George Remington, standing in the hall, listened to
these words with terror in their hearts.

"Get Noonan first," said George. "I'll talk to him."

In five seconds Evans had Noonan's residence. Remington listened to Penny's
voice. "Gone," he was saying. "Gone where?" And then: "Why, he was at the
dinner last---What's Doolittle's number?" ("Noonan went to New York on the
midnight train," he threw at George.) A moment later Remington heard his
partner cry, "Doolittle's gone to New York? On the midnight train?"

"Try Norton," snapped George. Soon he heard Penny exclaim. "Albany?" said
Penny. "Mr. Norton is in Albany? Thank you!"

"Their alibis!" said Evans calmly, as he hung up the receiver and stared at
his partner.

"Well, it--it----Why, Penny, they've stolen Genevieve! That damned Mike
and the Armenian! They've got Genevieve with that Eliot woman! God----Why,
Penny, for God's sake, what----"

"Slowly, George--slowly. Let's move carefully."

The voice of Penfield Evans was cool and steady,

"First of all, we need not worry about any harm coming to Genevieve. She
is with Miss Eliot, and that woman has more sense than a man. She may be
depended upon. Now, then," Evans waved his partner to silence and went
on: "the next thing to consider is how much publicity we shall give this
episode." He paused.

"It's not a matter of publicity; it's a matter of getting Genevieve

"An hour or so of publicity of the screaming, hysterical kind will not help
us to find Genevieve. But when we do find her, our publicity will have
defeated you!"

The two men stared at each other. Remington said: "You mean I must shield
the organization!"

"If you are to be elected--yes!"

"Do you think Genevieve and Miss Eliot would consent to shield the
organization when we find them? Why, Penny, you're mad! We must call up the
chief of police! We must scour the country! I propose to go right to the
newspapers! The more people who know of this dastardly thing the sooner we
shall recover the victims!"

"And the sooner Noonan, when he comes home tonight, will denounce you as
an accessory before the fact, with Norton and Doolittle as corroborating
witnesses for him! Oh, you're learning politics fast, George!"

The thought of what Genevieve would say when she knew, through Noonan and
Doolittle, that he had heard of the plot to kidnap Miss Eliot, and within
an hour had talked to his wife casually at luncheon without saying anything
about it, made George's heart stop. He realized that he was learning
something more than politics. He walked the floor of the room.

"Well," he said at last, "let's call in Uncle Martin Jaffry. He----"

"Yes; he is probably paying for the job. He might know something! I'll get

"Paying for the job! Do you think he knew of this plot?" cried George as
Evans stood at the telephone.

"Oh, no. He just knew, in a leer from Doolittle, that they had
extraordinary need for Eve thousand dollars or so in your behalf--that they
had consulted you. And then Doolittle winked and Noonan cocked his head
rakishly, and Uncle Martin put--Hello, Mr. Jaffry. This is Penny. Dress
and come down to the office quickly. We are in serious trouble."

Twenty minutes later Uncle Martin was sitting with the two young men in the
office of Remington and Evans. When they explained the situation to him his
dry little face screwed up.

"Well, at least Genevieve will be all right," he muttered. "E. Eliot will
take care of her. But, boys--boys," he squeezed his hands and rocked in
misery, "the devil of it is that I gave Doolittle the money in a check and
then went and got another check from the Owners' Protective Association and
took the peak load off myself, and Doolittle was with me when I got the P.
A. check. We've simply got to protect him. And, of course, what he knows,
Noonan knows. We can't go tearing up Jack here, calling police and raising
the town!"

George Remington rose.

"Then I've got to let my wife lie in some dive with that unspeakable Turk
and that Mike the Goat while you men dicker with the scoundrels who
committed this crime!" he said. "My God, every minute is precious! We must
act. Let me call the chief of police and the sheriff----"

"All dear friends of Noonan's," Penny quietly reminded him. "They probably
have the same tip about what is on as you and Uncle Martin have! Calm down,
George! First, let me go out and learn when Noonan and Doolittle are coming
home! When we know that, we can----"

"Penny, I can't wait. I must act now. I must denounce the whole damnable
plot to the people of this country. I must not rest one second longer in
silence as an accessory. I shall denounce----"

"Yes, George, you shall denounce," exclaimed his partner. "But just
whom--yourself, that you did not warn Miss Eliot all day yesterday!"

"Yes," cried Remington, "first of all, myself as a coward!"

"All right. Next, then, your Uncle Martin Jaffry, who was earnestly trying
to help you in the only way he knew how to help! Why, George, that would
be----" "That would be the least I could do to let the people see----"

"To let the people see that Mrs. Brewster-Smith and all your social friends
in this town are associated with Mike the Goat and his gang----"

Before Evans could finish, his partner stopped him.

"Yes, yes--the whole damned system of greed! The rich greed and the poor
greed--our criminal classes plotting to keep justice from the decent
law-abiding people of the place, who are led like sheep to the slaughter.
What did the owners pay that money for? Not for the dirty job that was
turned--not primarily. But to elect me, because they thought I would not
enforce the factory laws and the housing laws and would protect them in
their larceny! That money Uncle Martin collected was my price--my price!"

He was standing before his friends, rigid and white in rage. Neither man
answered him.

"And because the moral sense of the community was in the hearts and heads
of the women of the community," he went on, "those who are upholding the
immoral compact between business and politics had to attack the womanhood
of the town--and Genevieve's peril is my share in the shame. By God, I'm



Close on Young Remington's groan of utter disillusionment came a sound from
the street, formless and clumsy, but brought to a sharp climax with the
crash of breaking glass.

Even through the closed window which Penfield Evans hastily threw up, there
was an obvious quality to the disturbance which revealed its character even
before they had grasped its import.

The street was still full of morning shadows, with here and there a dancing
glimmer on the cobbles of the still level sun, caught on swinging dinner
pails as the loosely assorted crowd drifted toward shop and factory.

In many of the windows half-drawn blinds marked where spruce window
trimmers added last touches to masterpieces created overnight, but directly
opposite nothing screened the offense of the Voiceless Speech, which
continued to display its accusing questions to the passer-by.

Clean through the plate-glass front a stone had crashed, leaving a heap of
shining splinters, on either side of which a score of men and boys loosely
clustered, while further down a ripple of disturbance marked where the
thrower of the stone had just vanished into some recognized port of safety.

It was a clumsy crowd, half-hearted, moved chiefly by a cruel delight in.
destruction for its own sake, and giving voice at intervals to coarse
comment of which the wittiest penetrated through a stream of profanity,
like one of those same splinters of glass, to the consciousness of at least
two of the three men who hung listening in the window above:

"To hell with the----suffragists!"

At the same moment another stone hurled through the break sent the
Voiceless Speech toppling; it lay crumpled in a pathetic feminine sort
of heap, subject to ribald laughter, but Penny Evans' involuntary cry
of protest was cut off by his partner's hand on his shoulder. "They're
Noonan's men, Penny; it's a put-up job."

George had marked some of the crowd at the meetings Noonan had arranged for
him, and the last touch to the perfunctory character of the disturbance was
added by the leisurely stroll of the policeman turning in at the head of
the street. Before he reached the crowd it had redissolved into the rapidly
filling thoroughfare.

"It's no use, Penny. Our women have seen the light and beaten us to it;
we've got to go with them or with Noonan and his--Mike the Goat!"

Recollection of his wife's plight cut him like a knife. "The Brewster-Smith
women have got to choose for themselves!" He felt about for his hat like a
man blind with purpose.

The street sweeper was taking up the fragments of the shattered windows
half an hour later, when Martin Jaffry found himself going rather aimlessly
along Main Street with a feeling that the bottom had recently dropped
out of things--a sensation which, if the truth must be told, was greatly
augmented by the fact that he hadn't yet breakfasted. He had remained
behind the two younger men to get into communication with Betty Sheridan
and ask her to stay close to the telephone in case Miss Eliot should again
attempt to get into touch with her. He lingered still, dreading to go into
any of the places where he was known lest he should somehow be led to
commit himself embarrassingly on the subject of his nephew's candidacy.

His middle-aged jauntiness considerably awry, he moved slowly down the
heedless street, subject to the most gloomy reflections. Like most men,
Martin Jaffry had always been dimly aware that the fabric of society is
held together by a system of mutual weaknesses and condonings, but he
had always thought of himself and his own family as moving freely in the
interstices, peculiarly exempt, under Providence, from strain. Now here
they were, in such a position that the first stumbling foot might tighten
them all into inextricable scandal.

It is true that Penny, at the last moment, had prevailed on George to put
off the relief of his feelings by public repudiation of his political
connections, at least until after a conference with the police. And to
George's fear that the newspapers would get the news from the police before
he had had a chance to repudiate, he had countered with a suggestion, drawn
from an item in the private history of the chief--known to him through his
father's business--which he felt certain would quicken the chief's sense of
the propriety of keeping George's predicament from the press.

"My God!" said George in amazement, and Martin Jaffry had responded
fervently with "O Lord!"

Not because it shocked him to think that there might be indiscretions known
to the lawyer of a chief of police which the chief might not wish known to
the world, but because, with the addition of this new coil to his nephew's
affairs, he was suddenly struck with the possibility of still other coils
in any one of which the saving element of indiscretion might be wanting.

Suppose they should come upon one, just one impregnable honesty, one soul
whom the fear of exposure left unshaken. On such a possibility rested the
exemption of the Jaffry-Remingtons. It was the reference to E. Eliot in his
instructions to Betty which had awakened in Jaffry's mind the disquieting
reflection that just here might prove such an impregnability. They probably
wouldn't be able to "do anything" with E. Eliot simply because she herself
had never done anything she was afraid to go to the public about. To do him
justice, it never occurred to him that in the case of a lady it was easily
possible to invent something which would be made to answer in place of an

Probably that was Martin Jaffry's own impregnability--that he wouldn't have
lied about a lady to save himself. What he did conclude was that it was
just this unbending quality of women, this failure to provide the saving
weakness, which unfitted them for political life.

He shuddered, seeing the whole fabric of politics fall in ruins around
an electorate composed largely of E. Eliots, feeling himself stripped of
everything that had so far distinguished him from the Noonans and the

Out of his sudden need for reinstatement with himself, he raised in his
mind the vision of woman as the men of Martin Jaffry's world conceived
her--a tender, enveloping medium in which male complacency, unchecked by
any breath of criticism, reaches its perfect flower--the flower whose
fruit, eaten in secret and afar from the soil which nourishes it, is graft,
corruption and civic incompetence.

Instinctively his need directed him toward the Remington place.

Mrs. Brewster-Smith was glad to see him. Between George's hurried departure
and Jaffry's return several of the specters that haunt such women's lives
looked boldly in at the window.

There was the specter of scandal, as it touched the Remingtons, touching
that dearest purchase of femininity, social standing; there was the specter
of poverty, which threatened from the exposure of the source of her income
and the enforcement of the law; nearer and quite as poignant, was the
specter of an ignominious retreat from the comfort of George Remington's
house to her former lodging, which she was shrewd enough to realize would
follow close on the return of her cousin's wife.

All morning she had beaten off the invisible host with that courage--worthy
of a better cause--with which women of her class confront the assaults of
reality; and the sight of Martin Jaffry coming up the broad front walk met
her like a warm waft of security. She flung open the door and met him with
just that mixture of deference and relief which the situation demanded.

She was terribly anxious about poor Genevieve, of course, but not so
anxious that she couldn't perceive how Genevieve's poor uncle had suffered.

"What, no breakfast! Oh, you poor man! Come right out into the

Mrs. Brewster-Smith might have her limitations, but she was entirely aware
of the appeasing effect of an open fire and a spread cloth even when no
meal is in sight; she was adept in the art of enveloping tenderness and the
extent to which it may be augmented by the pleasing aroma of ham and eggs
and the coffee which she made herself. And oh, those _poor_ women, what
_disaster_ they were bringing on themselves by their prying into things
that were better left to more competent minds, and what pain to _other_
minds! So _selfish_, but of course they didn't realize. Really she hoped
it would be a lesson to Genevieve. The dear girl was so changed that she
didn't see how she was going to go on living with her; though, of course,
she would like to stand by dear George--and a woman did so appreciate a

At this point the enveloping tenderness of Mrs. Brewster-Smith concentrated
in her fine eyes, just brushed the heart of her listener as with a passing
wing, hovered a moment, and dropped demurely to the tablecloth.

In the meantime two sorely perplexed citizens were grappling with the
problem of the disappearance of two highly respectable women from their
homes under circumstances calculated to give the greatest anxiety to
faithful "party" men. It hadn't needed Penny's professional acquaintance
with Chief Buckley to impress the need of secrecy on that official's soul.
"Squeal" on Noonan or Mike the Goat? Not if he knew himself. Naturally Mr.
Remington must have his wife, but at the same time it was important to
proceed regularly.

"And the day before election, too!" mourned the chief. "Lord, what a mess!
But keep cool, Mr. Remington; this will come out all right!"

After half an hour of such ineptitudes, Penfield Evans found it necessary
to withdraw his partner from the vicinity of the police before his
impatience reached the homicidal pitch.

"Buckley's no such fool as he sounds," Penny advised. "He probably has a
pretty good idea where the women are hidden, but you must give him time to
tip off Mike for a getaway."

But the suggestion proved ill chosen, at least so far as it involved a hope
of keeping George from the newspapers. Shocked to the core of his young
egotism as he had been, Remington was yet not so shocked that the need of
expression was not stronger in him than any more distant consideration.

"Getaway!" he frothed. "Getaway! While a woman like my wife--" But the bare
idea was too much for him.

"They may get away, but they'll not get off--not a damned one of them--of
_us_," he corrected himself, and with face working the popular young
candidate for district attorney set off almost on a run for the office of
the Sentinel.

Reflecting that if his friend was bent upon official suicide, there was
still no reason for his being, a witness to it, Penny turned aside into
a telephone booth and called up Betty Sheridan. He heard her jump at the
sound of his voice, and the rising breath of relief running into his name.

"O-o-oh, Penny! Yes, about twenty minutes ago. Genevieve is with her....
Oh, yes, I'm sure."

Her voice sounded strong and confident.

"They're in a house about an hour from the factory," she went on, "among
some trees. I'm sure she said trees. We were cut off. No, I couldn't get
her again.... Yes ... it's a party line. In the Redfield district. Oh,
Penny, do you think they'll do her any harm?"

It was, no doubt, the length of time it took to assure Miss Sheridan on
this point that prevented Evans from getting around to the _Sentinel_,
whose editor was at that moment giving an excellent exhibition of
indecision between his obligation as a journalist and his role of leading
citizen in a town where he met his subscribers at dinner.

It was good stuff--oh, it was good! What headlines!



It was good for a double evening edition. On the other hand, there was
Norton, one of his largest advertisers. There was also the rival city of
Hamilton, which was even now basely attempting to win away from Whitewater
a recently offered Carnegie library on the ground of its superior fitness.

Finally there was the party.

The _Sentinel_ had always been a sound party organ. But _what_ a scoop!
And suppose it were possible to save the party at the expense of its worst
element? Suppose they raised the cry of reform and brought Remington in on
a full tide of public indignation?

Would Mike stand the gaff? If it were made worth his while. But what about
Noonan and Doolittle? So the editorial mind shuttled to and fro amid the
confused outpourings of the amazed young candidate, while with eyes bright
and considering as a rat's the editor followed Remington in his pacings up
and down the dusty, littered room.

Completely occupied with his own reactions, George's repudiation swept on
in an angry, rapid stream which, as it spent itself, began to give place to
the benumbing consciousness of a divided hearing.

Until this moment Remington had had a pleasant sense of the press as a fine
instrument upon which he had played with increasing mastery, a trumpet upon
which, as his mind filled with commendable purposes, he could blow a very
pretty tune,--a noble tune with now and then a graceful flourish acceptable
to the public ear. Now as he talked he began to be aware of flatness, of
squeaking keys....

"Naturally, Mr. Remington, I'll have to take this up with the business
management..." dry-lipped, the tune sputtered out. At this juncture the
born journalist awaked again in the editorial breast at the entrance of
Penfield Evans with his new item of Betty's interrupted message.

Two women shut up in a mysterious house among the trees! Oh, hot stuff,

Under it George rallied, recovered a little of the candidate's manner.

"Understand," he insisted. "This goes in even if I have to pay for it at
advertising rates."

A swift pencil raced across the paper as Remington's partner swept him off
again to the police.

Betty's call had come a few minutes before ten. What had happened was very

The two women had been given breakfast, for which their hands had been
momentarily freed. When the bonds had been tied again it had been easy for
E. Eliot to hold her hands in such a position that she was left, when their
keeper withdrew, with a little freedom of movement.

By backing up to the knob she had been able to open a door into an
adjoining room, in which she had been able to make out a telephone on a
stand against the wall.

This room also had locked windows and closed shutters, but her quick wit
had enabled her to make use of that telephone.

Shouldering the receiver out of the hook, she had called Betty's number,
and, with Genevieve stooping to listen at the dangling receiver, had called
out two or three broken sentences.

Guarded as their voices had been, however, some one in the house had been
attracted by them, and the wire had been cut at some point outside the
room. E. Eliot and Genevieve came to this conclusion after having lost
Betty and failed to raise any answer to their repeated calls. Somebody came
and looked in at them through the half-open door, and, seeing them still
bound, had gone away again with a short, contemptuous laugh.

"No matter," said E. Eliot. "Betty heard us, and the central office will be
able to trace the call."

It was because she could depend on Betty's intelligence, she went on to
say, that she had called her instead of the Remington house--for suppose
that fool Brewster-Smith woman had come to the telephone!

She and Genevieve occupied themselves with their bonds, fumbling back to
back for a while, until Genevieve had a brilliant idea. Kneeling, she bit
at the cords which held Miss Eliot's wrists until they began to give.

* * * * *

What Betty had done intelligently was nothing to what she had done without
meaning it. She had been unkind to Pudge. Young Sheridan was in a condition
which, according to his own way of looking at it, demanded the utmost

Following a too free indulgence in _marrons glaces_ he had been relegated
to a diet that reduced him to the extremity of desperation.

Not only had he been forbidden to eat sweets, but while his soul still
longed for its accustomed solace, his stomach refused it, and he was unable
to eat a box of candied fruit which he had with the greatest ingenuity

And that was the occasion Betty took--herself full of nervous starts and
mysterious recourse to the telephone behind locked doors--to remind him
cruelly that he was getting flabby from staying too much in the house and
to recommend a long walk for his good.

It was plain that she would stick at nothing to get her brother out of the
way, and Pudge was cut to the heart.

Oh, well, he would go for a walk, from which he would probably be brought
home a limp and helpless cripple. Come to think of it, if he once got
started to walk he was not sure he would ever turn back; he would just walk
on and on into a kinder environment than this.

After all, it is impossible to walk in that fateful way in a crowded city
thoroughfare. Besides, one passes so many confectioners with their mingled
temptation and disgust. Pudge rode on the trolley as far as the city
limits. Here there was softer ground underfoot and a hint of melancholy in
the fields. A flock of crows going over gave the appropriate note.

Off there to the left, set back from the road among dark, crowding trees,
stood a mysterious house. Pudge always insisted that he had known it for
mysterious at the first glance. It had a mansard roof and shutters of a
sickly green, all closed; there was not a sign of life about, but smoke
issued from one of the chimneys.

Here was an item potent to raise the sleuth that slumbers in every boy,
even in such well-cushioned bosoms as Pudge Sheridan's.

He paused in his walk, fell into an elaborately careless slouch, and tacked
across the open country toward the back of the house. Here he discovered a
considerable yard fenced with high boards that had once been painted the
same sickly green as the shutters, and a great buckeye tree just outside,
spreading its branches over the corner furthest from the house.

Toward this post of observation he was drifting with that fine assumption
of aimlessness which can be managed on occasion by almost any boy, when he
was arrested by a slight but unmistakable shaking of one of the shutters,
as though some one from within were trying the fastenings.

The shaking stopped after a moment, and then, one after another, the slats
of the double leaves were seen to turn and close as though for a secret
survey of the field. After a moment or two this performance was repeated at
the next window on the left, and finally at a third.

Here the shaking was resumed after the survey, and ended with the shutter
opening with a snap and being caught back from within and held cautiously
on the crack. Pudge kicked clods in his path and was pretentiously occupied
with a dead beetle which he had picked up.

All at once something flickered across the ground at his feet, swung two or
three times, touched his shoe, traveled up the length of his trousers and
rested on his breast. How that bosom leaped to the adventure!

He fished hurriedly in his pocket and brought up a small round mirror. It
had still attached to its rim a bit of the ribbon by which it had been
fastened to his sister's shopping bag, from which, if the truth must be
told, he had surreptitiously detached it.

Pretending to consult it, as though it were some sort of pocket oracle,
Pudge flashed back, and presently had the satisfaction of seeing a
bright fleck of light travel across the shutter. Immediately there was
a responsive flicker from the window: one, two, three, he counted, and
flashed back: one, two, three.

Pudge's whole being was suffused with delicious thrills. He wished now he
had obeyed that oft-experienced presentiment and learned the Morse code; it
was a thing no man destined for adventure should be without. This wordless
interchange went on for a few moments, and then a hand, a woman's hand--O
fair, imprisoned ladies of all time!--appeared cautiously at the open
shutter, waved and pointed.

It pointed toward the buckeye tree. Pudge threw a stone in that direction
and sauntered after it, pitching and throwing. Once at the corner, after a
suitable exhibition of casualness, he climbed until he found himself higher
than the fence, facing the house.

While he was thus occupied, things had been happening there. The shutter
had been thrown back and a woman was climbing down by the help of a window
ledge below and a pair of knotted window curtains.

Another woman prepared to follow her, gesticulating forcibly to the other
not to wait, but to run. Run she did, but it was not until Pudge, lying
full length on the buckeye bough, reached her a hand that he discovered her
to be his sister's friend, Genevieve Remington.

In the interval of her scrambling up by the aid of the bent bough and such
help as he could give her, they had neglected to observe the other woman.
Now, as Mrs. Remington's heels drummed on the outside of the fence, Pudge
was aware of some commotion in the direction of the house, and saw Miss
Eliot running toward him, crying: "Run, run!" while two men pursued her.
She made a desperate jump toward the tree, caught the branch, hung for
a moment, lost her hold, and brought Pudge ignominiously down in a heap
beside her.

If Miss Eliot had not contradicted it, Pudge would have believed to his
dying day that bullets hurtled through the air; it was so necessary to
the dramatic character of the adventure that there should be bullets.
He recovered from the shock of his fall in time to hear Miss Eliot say:
"Better not touch me, Mike; if there's so much as a bruise when my friends
find me, you'll get sent up for it."

Her cool, even tones cut the man's stream of profanity like a knife. He
came threateningly close to her, but refrained from laying hands on either
of them.

Meantime his companion drew himself up to the top of the fence for a look
over, and dropped back with a gesture intended to be reassuring. Pudge rose
gloriously to the occasion.

"The others have gone back to call the police," he announced. Mike spat out
an oath at him, but it was easy to see that he was not at all sure that
this might not be the case. The possibility that it might be, checked
a movement to pursue the fleeing Genevieve. Miss Eliot caught their
indecision with a flying shaft.

"Mrs. George Remington," she said, "will probably be in communication with
her friends very shortly. And between his wife and his old and dear friend
Mike it won't take George Remington long to choose."

This was so obvious that it left the men nothing to say. They fell in
surlily on either side of her, and without any show of resistance she
walked calmly back toward the house. Pudge lingered, uncertain of his cue.

"Beat it, you putty-face!" Mike snarled at him, showing a yellow fang. "If
you ain't off the premises in about two shakes, you'll get what's comin' to
you. See?"

Pudge walked with as much dignity as he could muster in the direction
of the public road. He could see nothing of Mrs. Remington in either
direction; now and then a private motor whizzed by, but there was no other
house near enough to suggest a possibility of calling for help.

He concealed himself in a group of black locusts and waited. In about half
an hour he heard a car coming from the house with the mansard roof, and saw
that it held three occupants, two men and a woman. The men he recognized,
and he was certain that the woman, though she was well bundled up, was
not E. Eliot.

The motor turned away from the town and disappeared in the opposite
direction. Pudge surmised that Mike was making his getaway. He waited
another half hour and began to be assailed by the pangs of hunger. The
house gave no sign; even the smoke from the chimney stopped.

He was sure Miss Eliot was still there; imagination pictured her weltering
in her own gore. Between fear and curiosity and the saving hope that there
might be food of some sort in the house, Pudge left his hiding place and
began a stealthy approach.

He came to the low stoop and crept up to the closed front door. Hovering
between fear and courage, he knocked. But there was no response. With
growing boldness he tried the door. It was locked.

The rear door also was bolted; but, creeping on, he found a high side
window that the keepers of this prison in their hasty flight had forgotten
to close. With the aid of an empty rain barrel, which he overturned and
rolled into position, Pudge scrambled with much hard breathing through
the window and dropped into the kitchen. Here he listened; his ears could
discern no sound. On tiptoe he crept through the rooms of the first
floor--but came upon neither furtive enemy nor imprisoned friend. Up the
narrow stairway he crept--peeped into three bedrooms--and finally opening
the door of what was evidently a storeroom, he found the object of his

E. Eliot sat in an old splint-bottomed chair--gagged, arms tied behind her
and to the chair's back, and her ankles tied to the chair's legs. In a
moment Pudge had the knotted towel out of her mouth, and had cut her bonds.
But quick though Pudge was, to her he seemed intolerably slow; just then E.
Eliot was thinking of only one thing.

This was the final afternoon of the campaign and she was away out here, far
from all the great things that might be going on.

She gave a single stretch of her cramped muscles as she rose. "I know
you--you're Betty Sheridan's brother--thanks," she said briskly. "What time
is it?"

Pudge drew out his most esteemed possession, a watch which kept perfect
time--except when it refused to keep any time at all.

"Three o'clock," he announced.

"Then our last demonstration is under way, and when I tell my story--" E.
Eliot interrupted herself. "Come on--let's catch the trolley!"

With Pudge panting after her, she hurried downstairs, unbolted the door,
and, running lightly on the balls of her feet, sped in the direction of the
street car line.



In the meantime, concern and suspense and irruptive wrath had their chief
abode in the inner room of Remington and Evans. George had received a
request, through Penny Evans, from the chief of police to remain in his
office, where he could be reached instantly if information concerning
Genevieve were received, and where his help could instantly be secured were
it required; and Penny had enlarged that request to the magnitude of a
command and had stood by to see that it was obeyed, and himself to give

George had recognized the sense of the order, but he rebelled at the
enforced inactivity. Where was Genevieve?--why wasn't he out doing
something for her? He strode about the office, fuming, sick with the
suspense and inaction of his role.

But Genevieve was not his unbroken concern. He was still afire with the
high resentment which a few hours earlier had made him go striding into the
office of the _Sentinel_. Fragments of his statement to the editor leaped
into his mind; and as he strode up and down he repeated phrases silently,
but with fierce emphasis of the soul.

Now and again he paused at his window and looked down into Main Street.
Below him was a crowd that was growing in size and disorder: the last
afternoon of any campaign in Whitewater was exciting enough; much more so
were the final hours of this campaign that marked the first entrance of
women into politics in Whitewater on a scale and with an organized energy
that might affect the outcome of the morrow's voting.

Across the way, Mrs. Herrington, the fighting blood of five generations
of patriots roused in her, had reinstated the Voiceless Speech within the
plate-glass window broken by the stones of that morning and was herself
operating it; and, armed with banners, groups of women from the Woman's
Club, the Municipal League and the Suffrage Society were marching up and
down the street sidewalks. It was their final demonstration, their last
chance to assert the demands of good citizenship--and it had attracted
hundreds of curious men, vote-owners, belonging to what, in such periods of
political struggle, are referred to on platforms as "our better element."

Also drifting into Main Street were groups of voters of less prepossessing
aspect--Noonan's men, George recognized them to be. These jeered and
jostled the marching women and hooted the remarks of the Voiceless
Speech--but the women, disregarding insults and attacks, went on with their
silent campaigning. The feeling was high--and George could see, as Noonan's
men kept drifting into Main Street, that feeling was growing higher.

Looking down, George felt an angered exultation. Well, his statement in the
_Sentinel_, due upon the street almost any moment, would answer all these
and give them something to think about!--a statement which would make an
even greater stir than the declaration which he had issued those many weeks
ago, when, fresh from his honeymoon, he had begun his campaign for the
district attorneyship.--[Illustration: Across the way, Mrs. Herrington,
the fighting blood of five generations of patriots roused in her, had
reinstated the Voiceless Speech.] These people below certainly had a
jolt coming to them!

George's impatient and glowering meditations--the hour was then near
four--were broken in upon by several interruptions, which came on him in
quick succession, as though detonated by brief-interval time-fuses. The
first was the entrance of that straw-haired misspeller of his letters who
had succeeded Betty Sheridan as guardian of the outer office.

"Mr. Doolittle is here," she announced. "He says he wants to see you."

"You tell Mr. Doolittle _I_ don't want to see _him_!" commanded the
irritated George.

But Mr. Benjamin Doolittle was already seeing his candidate. As political
boss of his party, he had little regard for such a formality as being
announced to any person on whom he might call--so he had walked through the
open door.

"Well, what d'you want, Doolittle?" George demanded aggressively.

Mr. Doolittle's face wore that look of bland solicitude, that unobtrusive
partnership in the misfortune of others, which had made him such an
admirable and prosperous officiant at the last rites of residents of

"I just wanted to ask you, George--" he was beginning in his soft,
lily-of-the-valley voice, when the telephone on George's desk started
ringing. George turned and reached for it, to find that Penny had already
picked up the instrument.

"I'll answer it, George.... Hello... Mr. Remington is here, but is busy;
I'll speak for him--I'm Mr. Evans.... What--it's you! Where are you?...
Stay where you are; I'll come right over for you in my car."

"Who was that?" demanded George.

"Genevieve," Penny said rapidly, seizing his hat, "and I'm going----"

"So am I!" exclaimed George.

"Not till we've had a little understanding," sharply put in Doolittle,
blocking his way.

"Stay here, George," his partner snapped out--"she's perfectly safe--just
a little out of breath--telephoned from a drug store over in the Red-field
district. I'll have her back here in fifteen minutes." And out Penny
dashed, slamming the door.

But perhaps it was the straw-haired successor of Betty Sheridan who really
prevented George from plunging after his partner.

"You ordered the _Sentinel_ sent up as soon as it was out," she said. "Here
are six copies."

George seized the ink-damp papers, and as the straw-haired one walked out
in rubber-heeled silence he turned savagely upon his campaign manager.

"Well, Doolittle?" he demanded.

"I just want to ask you, George----"

George exploded. "Oh, you just want to ask me! Well, everything you want to
ask me is answered in that paper. Read it!"

Doolittle took the copy of the _Sentinel_ which was thrust into his hands.
George watched him with triumphant grimness, awaiting the effect of the
bomb about to explode in the other's face. Mr. Doolittle unfolded the
_Sentinel_--looked it slowly through--then raised his eyes to George. His
face seemed somewhat puzzled, but otherwise it was overspread with that
sympathetic concern which, as much as his hearse and his folding-chairs,
was a part of his professional equipment.

"Why, George. I don't just get what you're driving at."

Forgetting that he was holding several copies of the Sentinel, George
dropped them all upon the floor and seized the paper from Mr. Doolittle. He
glanced swiftly over the first page--and experienced the highest voltage
shock of his young public career. Feverishly he skimmed the remaining
pages. But of all that he had poured out in the office of the _Sentinel_,
not one word was in print.

Automatically clutching the paper in a hand that fell to his side, he
stared blankly at his campaign manager. Mr. Doolittle gazed back with his
air of sympathetic concern, bewildered questioning in his eyes. And for a
space, despite the increasing uproar down in the street, there was a most
perfect silence in the inner office of Remington and Evans.

Before either of the two men could speak, the door was violently flung open
and Martin Jaffry appeared. His clothing was disarranged, his manner
agitated--in striking contrast to the dapper and composed appearance usual
to that middle-aged little gentleman.

"George," he panted, "heard anything about Genevieve?"

"She's safe. Penny's got charge of her by this time."

His answer was almost mechanical.

"Thank God!" Uncle Martin collapsed in one of the office chairs. "Mind--if
sit here minute--get my breath."

George did not reply, for he had not heard. He was gazing steadily at Mr.
Doolittle; some great, but as yet shapeless, force was surging up dazingly
within him. But he somehow held himself in control.

"Well, Doolittle," he demanded, "you said you came to ask something."

Mr. Doolittle's manner was still propitiatingly bland. "I'll mention
something else first, George, if you don't mind. You just remarked I'd find
your answer in the _Sentinel_. There must 'a' been some little slip-up
somewhere. So I guess I better mention first that the _Sentinel_ has
arranged to stand ready to get out an extra."

"An extra! What for?"

"Principally, George, I reckon to print those answers you just spoke of."

George still kept that mounting something under his control. "Answers to

"Why, George," the other replied softly, persuasively. "I guess we'd better
have a little chat--as man to man--about politics. Meaning no offense,
George, stalling is all right in politics--but this time you've carried
this stalling act a little too far. As the result of your tactics, George,
why here's all this disorder in our streets--and the afternoon before
election. If you'd only really tried to stop these messing women----"

"I didn't try to stop them by kidnapping them!" burst from George--and
Uncle Martin, his breath recovered, now sat up, clutching his homespun cap.

"Kidnapping women?" queried the bland, bewildered voice of the party boss.
"I say, George, I don't know what you're talking about." "Why, you--" But
George caught himself. "Speak it out, Doolittle--what do you want?"

"Since you ask it so frankly, George, I'll try to put it plain: You been
going along handing out high-sounding generalities. There's nothing better
and safer than generalities--usually. But this ain't no usual case, George.
These women, stirring everything up, have got the solid interests so
unsettled that they don't know where they're at--or where you're at. And a
lot of boys in the organization feel the same way. What the crisis needs,
George, is a plain statement of your intentions as district attorney,
which we can get into that _Sentinel_ extra and which will reassure the
public--and the organization."

"A plain statement?" There was a grim set to George's jaw.

"Oh, it needn't go into too many details. Just what you might call a
ringing declaration about this being the greatest era of prosperity
Whitewater has ever known, and that you conceive it to be the duty of your
administration to protect and stimulate this prosperity. The people will
understand, and the organization will understand. I guess you get what I
mean, George."

"Yes, I get what you mean!" exploded George, his fist crashing upon the
table. "You mean you want me to be a complacent accessory to all the legal
evasions that you and your political gang and the rich bunch behind you
may want to get away with! You want me to be a crook in office! By God,

"Shut up, Remington," snapped the political boss, his soft manner now
vanished, his whole aspect now grimly menacing. "I know the rest of what
you're going to say. I was pretty certain what it 'ud be before I came
here, but I had to know for sure. Well, I know now, all right!"

His lank jaws snapped again.

"Since you are not going to represent the people that put you up, I demand
your written withdrawal as candidate for the district attorney's office."

"And I refuse to give it!" cried George. "I was nominated by a convention,
not by you. And I don't believe the party is as crooked as you--anyhow I'm
going to give the decent members of the party a chance to vote decently!
And you can't remove me from the ballot, either, for the ballot is already
printed and----"

"That'll do you no----"

"I thought some time ago I was through with this political mess," George
drove on. "But, Doolittle, damn you, I've just begun to get in it! And I'm
going to see it through to the finish!"

Suddenly a thin little figure thrust itself between the bellicose pair and
began shaking George's hand. It was Martin Jaffry.

"George--I guess I'm my share of an old scoundrel--and a trimmer--but
hearing some one stand up and talk man's talk--" He broke off to shake
George's hand again. "I thought you were the king of boobs--but, boy, I'm
with you to wherever you want to go--if my money will last that far!"

"Keep out of this, Jaffry," roughly growled Doolittle. "It's too late for
your dough to help this young pup. Remington, we may not take you off the
ballot, but the organization kin send out word to the boys----"

"To knife me! Of course, I expect that! All right--go to it! But I'm on
the ballot--you can't deprive people of the chance of voting for me. And I
shall announce myself an independent and shall run as one!"

"We may not be able to elect our own nominee," harshly continued Doolittle,
"but we kin send out word to back the Democratic candidate. Miller ain't
much, but, at least, he's a soft man. And that _Sentinel_ extra is going
to say that a feeling has spread among the respectable element that it has
lost confidence in you, and is going to say that prominent party members
feel the party has made a mistake in ever putting you up. So run, damn
you--run as a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent--but how are you going
to git it across to the public in a way to do yourself any good--without
backing? How are you going to git it across to the public?"

His last words, flung out with overmastering fury, brought George up short,
and he saw this. Doolittle's wrath had mounted to that pitch which should
never be reached by the resentment of a practical politician; it had
attained such force that it drove him on to taunt his man. "How are you
going to git it before the public?" he again demanded, eyes agleam with
triumphant rancor--"with us shutting you off and hammering you on one
side?--and them damned messy women across the street hammering you from the
other side? Oh, it's a grand chance you have--one little old grand chance!
Especially with those dear damned females loving you like they do! Jest
take a look at what the bunch over there are doing to you!"

Doolittle followed his own taunting suggestion; and George, too, glanced
through his window across the crowded street into the shattered window
whence issued the Voiceless Speech. In that jagged frame in the raw
November air still stood Mrs. Harvey Herrington, turning the giant leaves
of her soundless oratory. The heckling request which then struck George's
eyes began: "_Will Candidate Remington answer_----"

George Remington read no more. His already tense figure suddenly stiffened;
he caught a sharp breath. Then, without a word to the two men with him,
he seized his hat and dashed from his office. The street was even more a
turbulent human sea, with violently twisting eddies, than had appeared from
George's windows. It seemed that every member of the organizations whom
Mrs. Herrington (and also Betty Sheridan, and later E. Eliot, and, at the
last, Genevieve) had brought into this fight, were now downtown for the
supreme effort. And it seemed that there were now more of the so-called
"better citizens." Certainly there were more of Noonan's men, and these
were still elbowing and jostling, and making little mass rushes--yet
otherwise holding themselves ominously in control.

Into this milling assemblage George flung himself, so dominated by the
fiery urge within him that he did not hear Genevieve call to him from
Penny's car, which just then swung around the corner and came to a sharp
stop on the skirts of the crowd. George shouldered his way irresistibly
through this mass; the methods of his football days when he had been famed
as a line-plunging back instinctively returned--and, all the fine chivalry
forgotten which had given to his initial statement to the voters of
Whitewater so noble a sound, he battered aside many of those "fairest
flowers of our civilization, to protect whom it is man's duty and

His lunging progress followed by curses and startled cries of feminine
indignation, he at length emerged upon the opposite sidewalk, and,
breathless and disheveled, he burst into the headquarters of the Voiceless

Some half-dozen of Mrs. Herrington's assistants cried out at his abrupt
entrance. Mrs. Herrington, forward beside the speech, turned quickly about.

"Mr. Remington, you here!" she cried in amazement as he strode toward her.
"What--what do you want?"

"I want--I want--" gasped George. But instead of finishing his sentence he
elbowed Mrs. Herrington out of the way, shoved past her, and stepped forth
in front of the Voiceless Speech. There, standing in the frame of jagged
plate-glass, upon what was equivalent to a platform raised above the crowd,
he sent forth a speech which had a voice. "Ladies and gentlemen!" he
called, raising an imperative hand. The uproar subsided to numerous
exclamations, then to surprised silence; even Noonan's men checked their
disorder at this appearance of their party's candidate.

"Ladies and gentlemen," and this Voiceful Speech was loud,--"I'm here to
answer the questions of this contrivance behind me. But first let me tell
you that though I'm on the ballot as the candidate of the Republican party,
I do not want the backing of the Republican machine. I'm running as an
Independent, and I shall act as an Independent.

"Here are my answers:

"I want to tell you that I shall enforce all the factory laws.

"I want to tell you that I shall enforce the laws governing housing
conditions--particularly housing conditions in the factory district.

"I want to tell you that I shall enforce the laws governing child labor and
the laws governing the labor of women.

"And I want to tell you that I shall enforce every other law, and shall try
to secure the passage of further laws, which will make Whitewater a clean,
forward-looking city, whose first consideration shall be the welfare of

"And, ladies and gentlemen--" he shouted, for the hushed voices had begun
to rise--"I wish I could address you all as fellow-voters!--I want to tell
you that I take back that foolish statement I made at the opening of the

"I want to tell you that I stand for, and shall fight for, equal suffrage!

"And I want to tell you that what has brought this change is what some of
the women of White-water have shown me--and also some of the things our men
politicians have done--our Doolittles, our Noonans----"

But George's speech terminated right there. Noise there had been before;
now there burst out an uproar, and there came an artillery attack of eggs,
vegetables, stones and bricks. One of the bricks struck George on the
shoulder and drove him staggering back against the Voiceless Speech,
sending that instrument of silent argument crashing to the floor. Regaining
his balance, George started furiously back for the window; but Mrs.
Herrington caught his arm.

"Let me go!" he called, trying to shake her off.

But she held on. "Don't--you've said enough!" she cried, and pulled him
toward the rear of the room. "Look!"

Through the window was coming a heavier fire of impromptu grenades that
rolled, spent, at their feet. But what they saw without was far more
stirring and important. Noonan's men in the crowd, their hoodlumism now
unleashed, were bowling over the people about them; but these really
constituted Noonan's outposts and advance guards.

From out of two side streets, though George and Mrs. Herrington could not
see their first appearance upon the scene, Noonan's real army now came
charging into Main Street, as per that gentleman's grim instructions to
"show them messin' women what it means to mess in politics." Hundreds of
Whitewater's women were flung about, many sent sprawling to the pavement,
and some hundreds of the city's most respectable voters, caught unawares,
were hustled about and knocked down by the same ruthless drive.

"My God!" cried George, impulsively starting forward. "The damned brutes!"

But Mrs. Herrington still held his arm. "Come on--they're making a drive
for this office!" breathlessly cried the quick-minded lady. "You can do no
good here. Out the rear way--my car's waiting in the back street."

Still clutching his sleeve, Mrs. Herrington opened a door and ran across
the back yard of McMonigal's building in a manner which indicated that that
lady had not spent her college years (and similarly spent the years since
then propped among embroidered cushions consuming marshmallows and fudge.)

The lot crossed, she hurried through a little grocery and thence into the
street. Here they ran into a party that, seeing the riot on Main Street
and the drive upon the window from which George had spoken, had rushed up
reinforcements from the rear--a party consisting of Penny, E. Eliot, Betty
Sheridan and Genevieve. "Genevieve!" cried George, and caught her into his

"Oh, George," she choked. "I--I heard it all--and it--it was simply

"George," cried Betty Sheridan, "I always knew, if you got the right kind
of a jolt, you'd be--you'd be what you are!"

E. Eliot gripped his hand in a clasp almost as strong as George's arm. "Mr.
Remington, if I were a man, I'd like to have the same sort of stuff in me."

"George, you old roughneck--" began Penny.

"George," interrupted Genevieve, still chokingly, her protective, wifely
instinct now at the fore, "I saw you hit, and we're going to take you
straight home----"

"Cut it all out," interrupted the cultured Mrs. Herrington. "This isn't Mr.
Remington's honeymoon--nor his college reunion--nor the annual convention
of his maiden aunts. This is Mr. Remington's campaign, and I'm his new
campaign manager. And his campaign manager says he's not going away out to
his home on Sheridan Road. His campaign headquarters are going to be in
the center of town, at the Commercial Hotel, where he can be reached--for
there's quick work ahead of us. Come on."

Five minutes later they were all in the Commercial Hotel's best suite.

"Now, to business, Mr. Remington," briskly began Mrs. Herrington. "Of
course, that was a good speech. But why, in heaven's name, didn't you come
out with it before?"

"I guess I really didn't know where I stood until today," confessed George,
"and today I tried to come out with it."

And George went on to recount his experience with the _Sentinel_--his scene
with Doolittle--and Doolittle's plan for an extra of the Sentinel, which
was doubtless then in preparation.

"So they've got the _Sentinel_ muzzled, have they--and are going to get out
an extra repudiating you," Mrs. Herrington repeated. There came a flash
into her quick, dark eyes. "I want our candidate to stay right here--rest
up--get his thoughts in order. There are a lot of things to be done. I'll
be back in an hour, Mr. Remington. The rest of you come along--you, too,
Mrs. Remington."

Mrs. Herrington did not altogether keep her word in the matter of time. It
was two hours before she was back. To George she handed a bundle of papers,
remarking: "Thought you'd like to see that _Sentinel_ extra."

"I suppose Doolittle has done his worst," he remarked grimly. He glanced at
the paper. His face went loose with bewilderment at what he saw--headlines,
big black headlines, bigger and blacker than he had ever before seen in the
politically and typographically conservative _Sentinel_. He read through a
few lines of print, then looked up.

"Why, it's all here!" he gasped. "The kidnapping of Miss Eliot and
Genevieve by Noonan's men--my break with Doolittle, my denunciation of the
party's methods, my coming out as an independent candidate--that riot on
Main Street! How on earth did that ever get into the _Sentinel_?"

"Some straight talk, and quick talk, and the exercise of a little of the
art of pressure they say you men exercise," was the prompt reply. "I
telephoned Mr. Ledbetter of the _Sentinel_ advising him to hold the extra
Mr. Doolittle had threatened until he heard from Mr. Wesley Norton,
proprietor of the Norton Dry Goods Store. You know, Mr. Norton is the
_Sentinel_'s largest single advertiser and president of the Whitewater
Business Men's Club.

"Then a committee of us women called on Mr. Norton and told him that we'd
organize the women of the city and would carry on a boycott campaign
against his store--we didn't really put it quite as crudely as that--unless
he'd force the _Sentinel_ to stop Mr. Doolittle's lying extra and print
your statement.

"Mr. Norton gave in, and telephoned the _Sentinel_ that if it didn't do as
he said he'd cancel his advertising contract. Then, to make sure, we got
hold of Mr. Jaffry, called on Mr. Ledbetter, who called in the business
manager--and your Uncle Martin told them that unless they printed the
truth, and every bit of it, and printed it at once, he was going to put up
the money to start an opposition paper that _would print the truth_.
That explains the extra." "Well," ejaculated George, still staring, "you
certainly are a wonder as a campaign manager!"

"Oh, I only did my fraction. That Miss Eliot did as much as I--she's a
find--she's going to be one of Whitewater's really big women. And Betty
Sheridan, you can't guess how Betty's worked--and your wife, Mr. Remington,
she's turning out to be a marvel!

"But that's not all," Mrs. Herrington continued rapidly. "We bought ten
thousand copies of that extra for ourselves--your uncle paid for them--and
we're going to distribute them in every home in town. When the best element
in Whitewater read how the women were trampled down by Noonan's mob--well,
they'll know how to vote! Mr. Noonan will never guess how much he has
helped us."

"You seem to have left nothing for me to do," said George.

"You'll find out there'll be all you'll want," replied the brisk Mrs.
Herrington. "We're organizing meetings--one in every hall in the city, one
on almost every other street corner, and we're going to rush you from one
to the next--most of the night--and there'll be no letup for you tomorrow,
even if it is election day. Yes, you'll find there'll be plenty to do!"

The next twenty-four hours were the busiest that George Remington had ever
known in his twenty-six years.

But at nine o'clock the next evening it was over--the tumult and the
shouting and the congratulations--and all were gone save only Martin
Jaffry; and District-Attorney-Elect Remington sat in his hotel suite alone
in the bosom of his family.

He was still dazed by what had happened to him--at the part he had
unexpectedly played--dazed by the intense but well-ordered activity of
the women: their management of his whirlwind tour of the city; their
organization of parades with amazing swiftness; their rapid and complete
house-to-house canvass--the work of Mrs. Herrington, of Betty, of that
Miss Eliot, of hundreds of women--and especially of Genevieve. He marveled
especially at Genevieve because he had never thought of Genevieve as doing
such things. But she _had_ done them--he felt that somehow she was a
different Genevieve: he didn't know what the difference was--he was in too
much of a whirl for analysis--but he had an undefined sense of _aliveness_,
of a spirited, joyous initiative in her.

She and all the rest seemed so strange as to be unbelievable. And yet,
she--and all of it--true!...

From dramatic events and intangible qualities of the spirit, his
consciousness shifted to material things--his immediate surroundings.
Not till this blessed moment of relaxation did he become aware of the
discomforts of this suite--nor did Genevieve fully appreciate the
flamboyantly flowered maroon wall-paper and the jig-saw furniture.

"George,"' she sighed, "now that you're not needed down here, can't we go

"Home!" The word came out half snort, half growl--hardly the tone becoming
one whose triumph was so exultingly fresh. With a jar he had come back to a
present which he fully understood. "Damn home! I haven't any home!"

Genevieve stared. Uncle Martin snickered, for Uncle Martin had the gift of

"You mean those flowers of womanhood whom chivalrous man----"

"Shut up," commanded George. He thought for a brief space; then his jaw
set. "Excuse me a moment."

Drawing hotel stationery toward him, he scribbled rapidly and then sealed
and addressed what he had written.

"Uncle Martin, your car's outside doing nothing; would you mind going on
ahead and giving this little note to Cousin Alys Brewster-Smith, and then
staying around and having a little supper with Genevieve and me? We'll be
out soon, but there are a few things I want to talk over with Genevieve
alone before we come."

Uncle Martin would oblige. But when he had gone, there seemed to be nothing
of pressing importance that George had to communicate to Genevieve. Nor
half an hour later, when he led his bride of four months up to their home,
had he delivered himself of anything which seemed to require privacy.

As they stepped up on the porch, softly lighted by a frosted bulb in its
ceiling, Cousin Emelene, her cat under her arm, came out of the front door
and hurried past them, without speech.

"Why, Cousin Emelene!" George called after her.

She paused and half turned.

"You--you--" she half choked upon expletives that would not come forth.
"The man will come for my trunks in the morning." Thrusting a handkerchief
to her face, she hurried away.

"George, what can have happened to her?" cried the amazed Genevieve.

But George was saved answering her just then. Another figure had emerged
from the front door--a rather largish figure, all in black--her left hand
clutching the right hand of a child, aged, possibly, five. And this figure
did not cower and hurry away. This figure halted, and glowered.

"George Remington," exclaimed Cousin Alys, "after your invitation--you--you
apostate to chivalry! That outrageous letter! But if I am leaving your
home, thank God I'm leaving it for a home of my own! Come on, Martin!"

With that she stalked away, dragging the sleepy Eleanor.

Not till then did George and Genevieve become aware that Uncle Martin
was before them, having until now been obscured by Mrs. Brewster-Smith's
outraged amplitude. His arms were loaded with coats, obviously feminine.

"Uncle Martin!" exclaimed George.

"George," gulped his uncle--"George--" And then he gained control of a
dazed sort of speech. "When I gave her that letter I didn't know it was
a letter of eviction. And the way she broke down before me--a woman, you
know--I--I--well, George, it's my home she's going to."

"You don't mean----"

"Yes, George, that's just what I mean. Though, of course, I'm taking her
back now to Mrs. Gallup's boarding-house until--until--good-night, George;
good-night, Genevieve." The little man went staggering down the walk
with his burden of wraps; and after a minute there came the sound of his
six-cylinder roadster buzzing away into the darkness.

"I didn't tell 'em they had to go tonight," said George doggedly. "But I
did remark that even if every woman had a right to a home, every woman
didn't have the right to make my home her home. Anyhow," his tone becoming
softer, "I've at last got a home of my own. Our own," he corrected.

He took her in his arms. "And, sweetheart--it's a better home than when we
first came to it, for now I've got more sense. Now it is a home in which
each of us has the right to think and be what we please."

* * * * *

At just about this same hour just about this same scene was being enacted
upon another front porch in Whitewater--there being the slight difference
that this second porch was not softly illuminated by any frosted globule of
incandescence. Up the three steps leading to this second porch Mr. Penfield
Evans had that moment escorted Miss Elizabeth Sheridan.

"Good-night, Penny," she said.

He caught her by her two shoulders.

"See here, Betty--the last twenty-four hours have been mighty busy
hours--too busy even to talk about ourselves. But now--see here, you're not
going to get away with any rough work like that. Come across, now. Will

"Will I what?"

"Say, how long do you think you're a paid-up subscriber to this little
daily speech of mine?... Well, if I've got to hand you another copy, here
goes. You promised me, on your word of honor, if George swung around for
suffrage, you'd swing around for me. Well, George has come around. Not that
I had much to do with it--but he surely did come around! Now, the point
is, Miss Betty Sheridan, are you a woman of your promise--are you going to
marry me?"

"Well, if you try to put it that way, demanding your pound of flesh----"
"One hundred and twenty pounds," corrected Penny.

"I'll say that, of course, I don't love you, but I guess a promise is a
promise--and--and--" And suddenly a pair of strong young arms were flung
about the neck of Mr. Penfield Evans. "Oh, I'm so happy, Penny dear!"


After that there was a long silence ... silence broken only by that softly
sibilant detonation which belongs most properly to the month of June,
but confines itself to no season ... to a long, long silence born of and
blessed by the gods ... until one Percival Sheridan, coming stealthily home
from a late debauch at Humphrey's drug store, and mounting the steps in
the tennis sneakers which were his invariable wear on dry and non-state
occasions, bumped into the invisible and unhearing couple.

"Say, there--" gasped the startled youth, backing away.

Betty gave an affrighted cry--it was a long swift journey down from where
she had just been. Her right hand, reaching drowningly out, fell upon a
familiar shoulder.

"It's Pudge!" she cried. "Pudge"--shaking him--"snooping around, listening
and trying to spy----"

"You stop that--it ain't so!" protested the outraged Pudge, his utterance
throttled down somewhat by the chocolate cream in his mouth.

"Spying on people! And, besides, you've been stuffing yourself with candy
again! You're ruining your stomach with that sticky sweet stuff--you're
headed straight for a candy-fiend's grave. Now, you go upstairs and to

She jerked him toward the door, opened it, and as he was thrust through
the door Pudge felt something, something warm, press impulsively against a
cheek. Not until the door had closed upon him did he realize what Betty had
done to him. He stood dazed for a moment--unbalanced between impulses. Then
the sturdy maleness of fourteen rewon its dominance.

"Guess I know what they was doing, all right--aw, wouldn't it make you
sick!" And, in disgust which another chocolate cream alleviated hardly at
all, he mounted to his bed.

Outside there was again silence ... faintly disturbed only by that softly
sibilant, almost muted percussion which recalls inevitably the month of


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