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  • 1906
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“How do you do, Mr. Martin. Hot day, Mr. McQuade.”

“Sit down,” said McQuade, with a nod of invitation toward the remaining vacant chair. “Cigar or a drink?”

“Bring me a little whisky–no, make it an old-fashioned cocktail. That’ll be about right.”

“Mr. McQuade has a job for you, Bolles, if you’re willing to undertake it.”

“I’ve got some time on my hands just now,” replied Bolles. “Contract work?”

“After a fashion,” said McQuade grimly. “Eat your dinner and we’ll go up stairs to my office. What I have to say can’t be said here.”

“All right, Mr. McQuade. If it’s dagos, I’ll have plenty in hand in November.”

“I shall want you to go to New York,” said McQuade.

“New York or San Francisco, so long as some one foots the bills.”

“I’ll foot ’em,” agreed McQuade. “Hustle your dinner. We’ll wait for you at the bar.”

Bolles ordered. A job for McQuade that took him to New York meant money, money and a good time. There were no more contracts till September, so the junket to New York wouldn’t interfere with his regular work. He had sublet his Italians. He was free. A few minutes later he joined McQuade, and the trio went up stairs in a cloud of tobacco smoke. McQuade nodded to the typewriter, who rose and left the private office. The three men sat down, in what might be described as a one-two-three attitude: domination, tacit acceptance of this domination, and servility.

“Do you know Richard Warrington, the playwriter?”

“That snob? Yes, I know who he is, and I’d like to punch his head for him, too.”

McQuade smiled. This manifest rancor on Bolles’ part would make things easier than he thought.

“Well, listen. I’ve just been tipped that big things are going to happen this fall. That fool Donnelly has queered himself, and is making a muddle of everything he touches. Senator Henderson is a shrewd man, but he wasn’t shrewd enough this time. He should have conducted his little conspiracy in his own home and not at a club where servants often find profit in selling what they hear. Henderson is going to put Warrington up for mayor.”

“The hell he is!” said Bolles.

Martin’s jaw dropped, and the cigar ashes tumbled down his shirt bosom.

“It’s no joke,” went on McQuade. “If he is nominated, he’ll win. The people are wanting a change. If the Henderson people get into the City Hall, I stand to lose a fortune on contracts. You both know what that means. Warrington must never get a chance to accept.”

Bolles looked at Martin. McQuade saw the look, and, interpreting it, laughed.

“These are no dime-novel days. We don’t kill men to get ’em out of the way. We take a look into their past and use it as a club.”

“I begin to see,” said Martin. “Warrington must be side-tracked before the convention. Good. That’ll be simple.”

“Not very,” McQuade admitted. “It’s going to be a devilish hard job. You, Bolles, pack up and go to New York. I want some information regarding this young fellow’s past in New York. It’s up to you to get it. No faking, mind you; good substantial evidence that can be backed up by affidavits. Get the idea? Five hundred and expenses, if you succeed; your expenses anyhow. Five hundred is a lot of money these days. But if you go on a bat, I’ll drop you like a hot brick, for good and all. Think it over. Pack up to-night, if you want to. Here’s a hundred to start with. Remember this, now, there must be a woman.”

“A woman?”

“Yes. A man has no past, if there isn’t a woman in it.”

“I can land that five hundred,” Bolles declared confidently. “I can find the woman. I’ll write you every other day.”

“Well, then, that’s all. Good luck. No boozing while you’re on the job Afterward I don’t care what you do. By-by.”

Bolles took his dismissal smilingly. Five hundred. It was easy.

“If it’s possible, he’ll do it,” said Martin. “But what’s your campaign?”

“Donnelly must remain another term. After that, oblivion. There’ll be bids this fall. If Henderson’s man wins, there’ll be new aldermen. These bids of mine must go through and gas must be kept at a dollar-fifty. I’m a rich man, but at present I’m up to my neck in southern contracts that aren’t paying ten cents on the dollar. Herculaneum’s got to foot the bill.”

“How’d you find out about Henderson’s coup?”

“One of the waiters at his club said he had some information. I gave him ten dollars for something I’d have given ten hundred for just as quickly. If Henderson had sprung Warrington in September, we’d have been swamped. Now we have a good chance to hang on.”

“Force him to back down and withdraw?”

McQuade nodded.

“It’s simply got to be done. I didn’t give Henderson credit for so clever a move as this. A new man, famous and wealthy, under no obligations to his party; the voters would follow him just for the novelty of the thing. Besides, there are other reasons, but I’m keeping them to myself. How about that pavement deal in John Street?”

John Street possessed but three or four houses. The paving would be a ten-thousand-dollar job. As a witty political speaker once said, they paved Herculaneum in the concrete and in the abstract.

“It will go through Monday night, smooth as butter.”

“Canvassed the boys?”

“More than three-fourths vote. Sure.”

“I’m depending upon you.”

“Will you turn down Donnelly at the convention?”

“I tell you he’s got to run again. I’ll bring him to order, after a little heart-to-heart talk. He’s the only man in sight.”

“Why not play the same game as Henderson?”

“I’ve thought it all out. There’s no one but Donnelly. Pick up anything you can about Warrington.”

“All right. By the way, the boys want to know if you think we can pull off those ten-round bouts this winter.”

“I’m going down to the capital to see.”

Martin telephoned for his team, and twenty minutes later he was driving countryward. McQuade dictated a few letters, one of which he directed to be sent by messenger. Then he left the office and called upon the editor of the Times. This conference lasted an hour. McQuade was chief owner of the Times.

Warrington was greatly surprised when, at three-thirty, a message was brought to him requesting him briefly and politely to do Mr. McQuade the honor to call on him between four and five that afternoon. He had met McQuade at the Chamber of Commerce dinner. The introduction had been most formal. What the deuce did McQuade wish to see him about? Should he go? A natural aversion to the man said no; but policy urged him as well as curiosity. He went to the telephone and called up McQuade’s office. Mr. McQuade was not in, but would return at four. Ah! It was the typewriter who spoke. Would she kindly notify Mr. McQuade on his return that Mr. Warrington would be at his office at four-thirty? She would. Thanks.

Warrington smoked uneasily. He had no desire to meet McQuade. Their ways were widely separated and reached nothing in common. But he readily recognized the fact that McQuade was not a man such as one might heedlessly antagonize. What could the politician want of the literary man? McQuade dabbled in racing horses; perhaps he had a horse to sell. In that event, they would meet on common ground. But his belief in this possibility was only half-hearted. He filled his pockets with cigars, whistled for the dog, and departed. Both of the Bennington houses were closed; the two families were up north in the woods.

Promptly at four-thirty Warrington and his dog entered the elevator of the McQuade Building and were dislodged on the third floor. They went along the dim corridor, scrutinizing doors, each hunting for one of his kind. Jove couldn’t read, but he could smell. Finally Warrington came to a stand. Upon the glass panel of the door he read:

Daniel McQuade & Co.

General Contractors

He did not knock. He opened the door and walked in. It is a sign of weakness for a man to knock on the door of a business office, unless it is marked private, Nevertheless, the dingy glass had known the knock of many knuckles. A girl was hammering on the typewriting machine. She ceased only when she completed the page. She looked up. Her expression, on seeing who the visitor was, changed instantly. It was not often that a man like this one entered the office of Daniel McQuade and Company, General Contractors.

“I have an appointment with Mr. McQuade,” said Warrington pleasantly; “would you mind announcing me?”

“Just a moment,” answered the girl, rising and entering the private office. She returned at once. “Mr. McQuade will see you.”

Warrington walked quietly into the lion’s den.

“Glad to see you, Mr. Warrington,” said McQuade, pointing toward a chair. He did not offer his hand; something told him not to make that mistake.

From under the desk McQuade’s dog emerged, stiff and bristling. On his side, Jove stood squarely on his legs, head on, as they say, his lips writhing and quivering with rage. Warrington touched the chair that had been offered him. Jove begged. But the master was obdurate. Jove jumped up, but turned quickly. The white dog stopped. He recognized that he was at a complete disadvantage.

McQuade watched these proceedings with an amused twinkle. It was a clever manoeuver. So far as he was concerned, a good dog fight would not have been to his distaste.

“It doesn’t hurt the brutes to light once in a while. But, of course,” he added, “your dog is old.”

“Nothing is old till it is useless.”

“An epigram from one of your plays?”

“No; but it sounds good enough to use. Jove has strong teeth, however, and he comes from a fighting family. But for my part, I had much rather see two men pummel each other.”

“So would I, for that matter.” McQuade pushed the match-box toward Warrington, but Warrington drew out his own and struck a light. McQuade shrugged.

“Mr. McQuade, I am interested to learn what is back of your note. Horses?”

“No; not horses.”

McQuade viewed the young man through half-closed eyes. The contractor was a big hulk of a man, physically as strong as a bull, with reddish hair, small twinkling eyes, a puffy nose mottled with veins, thin lips shaded by a bristling red mustache, and a heavy jaw. The red fell of hair on his hands reminded Warrington of a sow’s back. Everything about McQuade suggested strength and tensity of purpose. He had begun work on a canal-boat. He had carried shovel and pick. From boss on a railway section job he had become a brakeman. He took a turn at lumbering, bought a tract of chestnuts and made a good penny in railroad ties. He saved every dollar above his expenses. He bought a small interest in a contracting firm, and presently he became its head. There was ebb and tide to his fortunes but he hung on. A lighting contract made him a rich man. Then he drifted into politics; and now, at the age of fifty, he was a power in the state. The one phase of sentiment in the man was the longing to possess all those obstacles that had beset his path in the days of his struggles. He bought the canal-boat and converted it into a house-boat; he broke the man who had refused him a job at the start; he bought the block, the sidewalk of which he had swept; every man who stood in his way he removed this way or that. He was dishonest, but his dishonesty was of a Napoleonic order. He was uneducated, but he possessed that exact knowledge of mankind that makes leaders; and his shrewdness was the result of caution and suspicion. But like all men of his breed, he hated with peculiar venom the well-born; he loved to grapple with them, to wrest their idleness from them, to compel them to work for a living, to humiliate them. The fiber in McQuade was coarse; he possessed neither generosity nor magnanimity; the very men who feared him held him in secret contempt.

“No, Mr. Warrington, I haven’t any horses for sale to-day,” he began. “Not very long ago you met Senator Henderson at your club. He offered you the nomination for mayor this fall, and you accepted it.”

Warrington could not repress a start of surprise. He had not quite expected this. He was annoyed.

“That is true. What mystifies me,” he supplemented, “is how this knowledge came to your ears.”

“I generally hear what’s going on. My object in asking you to call is to talk over the matter on a friendly basis.”

“I can not see what good that will do. Politically we have nothing in common.”

“Politically or socially. But the point is this. What have you done that you should merit this honor? I’ll talk frankly. What have you done toward the building up of your city? What have you done toward its progress in manufacturing and building? You have done nothing but buy a house on the fashionable street and pay the taxes.”

“You might add that I once peddled vegetables,” said Warrington.

It was McQuade’s turn to be surprised. From what he had observed of fashionable people, especially the new-rich, they endeavored to submerge altogether the evidences of past manual and menial labor.

“Then you are not ashamed of the fact that you sold vegetables?”

“In truth, I’m rather proud of it. It was the first step in the fight. And I tell you honestly, Mr. McQuade, that I have fought every inch of the way. And I shall continue to fight, when there’s anything worth fighting for. I’m not a manufacturer or a builder, but I am none the less eligible for public office. What little money I have was made honestly, every penny of it. It was not built on political robbery and the failures of others. But let us come to the point. You have something to say.”

“Yes. I have. And it is this: I don’t propose to have you meddle with the politics of this city. I hope we can come to a peaceful understanding. I don’t want to war against you.”

“Mr. McQuade, you talk like a man out of his senses. Who’s going to prevent me from accepting the nomination?”

“I am,” answered McQuade, bringing a fist down on his desk.

The dogs growled. They seemed to realize that war of some kind was in the air.

“How?” asked Warrington. The man was a fool!

“You will go to Senator Henderson and tell him that you have reconsidered.”

Warrington laughed. “I believed I knew all phases, but this one surpasses any I ever heard of. You have the nerve to ask me, of the opposition party, to refuse the nomination for mayor?”

“I have.”

“Are you afraid of me?”

“Not of you, my lad,” McQuade answered sardonically, spreading out his great hands. “Do I look like a man afraid of anything? But the thought of a stranger becoming mayor of Herculaneum rather frightens me. Let us have peace, Mr. Warrington.”

“I ask nothing better.”


“I never withdraw. I am not afraid of anything. I even promise to be good-natured enough to look upon this meeting as a colossal joke.” Warrington’s cigar had gone out. He relighted it coolly. “If the nomination is offered me, I shall accept it; and once having accepted it, I’ll fight, but honorably and in the open. Look here, McQuade, don’t be a fool. You’ve something against me personally. What is it? If I recollect, I ran across you once or twice when I was a newspaper man.”

McQuade’s eyes narrowed again.

“Personally, you are nothing to me,” he replied; “politically, you are a meddler, and you are in my way.”

“Oh, I am in your way? That is to say, if I am elected, there’ll be too much honesty in the City Hall to suit your plans? I can readily believe that. If you can convince me that I ought not to run for mayor, do so. I can accept any reasonable argument. But bluster will do no good. For a man of your accredited ability, you are making a poor move, even a fatal one.”

“Will you withdraw?”

“Emphatically no!”

“All right. Whatever comes your way after this, don’t blame me. I have given you a fair warning.”

“You have threatened.”

“I can act also. And you can put this in your pipe, Mr. Warrington, that before October comes round, when the Republican convention meets, you will withdraw your name quickly enough. This is not a threat. It’s a warning. That’s all. I’m sorry you can’t see the matter from my standpoint.”

“Come, boy,” said Warrington to his dog. “You had better keep your animal under the table.”

McQuade did not move or answer. So Warrington grasped Jove by the collar and led him out of the private office. McQuade heard the dramatist whistle on the way to the elevator.

“So he’ll fight, eh?” growled McQuade. “Well, I’ll break him, or my name’s not McQuade. The damned meddling upstart, with his plays and fine women! You’re a hell of a dog, you are! Why the devil didn’t you kill his pup for him?”

McQuade sent a kick at the dog, who dodged it successfully, trotted out to the typewriter and crawled under the girl’s skirts.

Warrington went home, thoroughly angry with himself. To have bandied words and threats with a man like McQuade! He had lowered himself to the man’s level. But there were times when he could not control his tongue. Education and time had not tamed him any. Withdraw? It would have to be something more tangible than threats.

“Richard, you are not eating anything,” said his aunt at dinner that evening.

“I’m not hungry, Aunty. It’s been one of those days when a man gets up wrong.”

“I’m sorry. Doesn’t the play go along smoothly?”

“Not as smoothly as I should like.”

“There was a long-distance call for you this afternoon. The Benningtons want you to come up at once instead of next week.”

Warrington brightened perceptibly. He went to work, but his heart wasn’t in it. The interview with McQuade insisted upon recurring. Why hadn’t he walked out without any comment whatever? Silence would have crushed McQuade. He knew that McQuade could not back up this threat; it was only a threat. Bah! Once more he flung himself into his work.

Half an hour later the door-bell rang.

Chapter IX

Character is a word from which have descended two meanings diametrically opposed to each other. We say a man has a character, or we say he is one; The first signifies respect; the second, a tolerant contempt. There exists in all small communities, such as villages, towns, and cities of the third class, what is known as a character. In the cities he is found loafing in hotel lobbies or in the corridors of the City Hall; in the hamlet he is usually the orator of the post-office or the corner grocery. Invariably his wife takes in washing, and once in a while he secures for her an extra order. If he has any children, they live in the streets. He wears a collar, but seldom adds a tie. He prides himself on being the friend of the laboring man, and a necktie implies the worship of the golden calf. He never denies himself a social glass. He never buys, but he always manages to be introduced in time. After the first drink he calls his new friend by his surname; after the second drink it is “Arthur” or “John” or “Henry,” as the case may be; then it dwindles into “Art” or “Jack” or “Hank.” No one ever objects to this progressive familiarity. The stranger finds the character rather amusing. The character is usually a harmless parasite, and his one ambition is to get a political job such as entails no work. He is always pulling wires, as they say; but those at the other end are not sensitive to the touch. On dull days he loiters around the police court and looks mysterious. Cub reporters at first glance believe him to be a detective in disguise.

Herculaneum had its character. He was a pompous little man to whom the inelegant applied the term of runt. He never could have passed the army examination, for he had no instep. He walked like a duck, flat-footed, minus the waddle. He was pop-eyed, and the fumes of strong drink had loosened the tear-ducts so that his eyes swam in a perennial mist of tears. His wife still called him William, but down town he was Bill. He knew everybody in town, and everybody in town knew him. There was a time when he had been on intimate terms with so distinguished a person as Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene. He will tell you to this day how he was wont to dandle her on his knee. Bill was one of those individuals of whom it is said: “He means well.” In other words, he was a do-nothing, a ne’er-do-well. He had been comparatively rich once, but he had meant well with his money. One grand splurge, and it was all over. Herculaneum still recollects that splurge. When in his cups, Bill was always referring to those gorgeous days. Afterward, Bill and his family lived from hand to mouth. Occasionally, at Christmas, some of his old friends who felt sorry for him sent him a purse. Did Bill purchase turkey and coal and potatoes? No, indeed. He bought useless French toys for the children, who went hungry. Another time, when heartless winter returned and the price of coal went up, a church social was arranged for Bill’s benefit. It netted him nearly a hundred dollars. But Bill didn’t pay his landlord and grocer; not he! He came down town the following day with a shiny plug-hat and a gold-headed cane.

Bill was a first-class genealogist. He could tell you the history of every leading family in town. It took Bill to expose the new-rich; he did it handsomely. The way these breakfast millionaires lorded and landaued it highly amused him. Who were they, anyhow? Coal-heavers, hod-carriers, stock-speculators, riffraff, who possessed an ounce of brains and a pound of luck. Why, they didn’t even know how to spend their money when they got it. But what could be expected of people who put iron dogs and wooden deers on their front lawns? But the Benningtons, the Haldenes, and the Winterflelds, and the Parkers, –they had something to brag about. They were Bunker Hillers, they were; they had always had money and social position. As for the Millens, and the Deckers, and the McQuades–pah!

Bill had a wonderful memory; he never forgot those who laughed at him and those who nodded kindly. He was shiftless and lazy, but he had a code of honor. Bill could have blackmailed many a careless man of prominence, had he been so minded. But a man who had once dined a governor of the state could do no wrong. His main fault was that he had neglected to wean his former greatness; he still nursed it. Thus, it was beneath his dignity to accept a position as a clerk in a store or shop. The fact that his pristine glory was somewhat dimmed to the eyes of his fellow citizens in no wise disturbed Bill. Sometimes, when he was inclined to let loose the flood-gates of memory, his friends would slip a quarter into his palm and bid him get a drink, this being the easiest method of getting rid of him.

Bill marched into the Warrington place jauntily. He wore a tie. Jove ran out and sniffed the frayed hems of his trousers. But like all men of his ilk, he possessed the gift of making friends with dogs. He patted Jove’s broad head, spoke to him, and the dog wagged what there was left of his tail. Bill proceeded to the front door and resolutely rang the bell. The door opened presently.

“Is Richard in?” Bill asked. He had had only two drinks that evening.

“Mr. Warrington is in,” answered the valet, with chilling dignity. “What is your business?”

“Mine!” thundered Bill, who had a democratic contempt for a gentleman’s gentleman. “I have important business to transact with your master. Take this card in to him. He’ll see me.”

The valet looked at the greasy card. The name was written in ink; the card was of the kind one finds in hotels for the convenience of the guests.

“I will take the card to Mr. Warrington,” the valet promised reluctantly. There was, however, a barely perceptible grin struggling at the corners of his mouth. He was not wholly devoid of the sense of humor, as a gentleman’s gentleman should at all times be.

“William Osborne? What the deuce does he want here?” asked Warrington impatiently.

“He said his business was important, sir. If it is half as important as he acts–“

“No comments, please. Show Mr. Osborne in.”

Warrington turned all his mail face-downward. He knew Bill of aforetime, in the old newspaper days. Bill had marvelously keen eyes, for all that they were watery. The valet ushered him into the study. He wore his usual blase expression. He sat down and drew up his chair to the desk.

“Well, Mr. Osborne, what’s on your mind to-night?” Warrington leaned back.

“The truth is, Richard,” began William, “I found this letter on the pavement this afternoon. Guess you’d been down to the hotel this afternoon, and dropped it. I found it out in front. There was no envelope, so I couldn’t help reading it.”

Warrington seized the letter eagerly. It was the only letter of its kind in the world. It was enchanted.

“Mr. Osborne, you’ve done me a real service. I would not take a small fortune for this letter. I don’t recollect how I came to lose it. Must have taken it out and dropped it accidentally. Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it, my boy.” Very few called him Mr. Osborne.

“It is worth a good deal to me. Would you be offended if I gave you ten as a reward?”

“I’d feel hurt, Richard, but not offended,” a twinkle in the watery eyes.

Warrington laughed, drew out his wallet and handed William a crisp, crackly bank-note. It went, neatly creased, into William’s sagging vest-pocket.

“Have a cigarette?” asked Warrington.

“Richard, there’s one thing I never did, and that’s smoke one of those coffin-nails. Whisky and tobacco are all right, but I draw the line at cigarettes.”

Warrington passed him a cigar. William bit off the end and lighted it. He sniffed with evident relish.

“Seems impossible, Richard, that only a few years ago you were a reporter at the police station. But I always said that you’d get there some day. You saw the dramatic side of the simplest case. I knew your father. He was one of the best farmers in the county. But he didn’t know how to invest his savings. He ought to have left you rich.”

“But he didn’t. After all, it’s a fine thing to make for the good things in life and win them yourself.”

“That’s true. You’re a different breed from some of these people who are your neighbors. We’re all mighty proud of you, here in Herculaneum. What you want to do is to get into politics.” Here Bill winked mysteriously. “You’ve money and influence, and that’s what counts.”

“I’m seriously thinking the thing over,” returned Warrington, not quite understanding the wink.

“Everything’s on the bum in town; it wants a clean bill. McQuade must go. The man never keeps a promise. Told me in the presence of witnesses, last election, that he’d give me a job on the new police board; and yet after election he put in one of those whipper-snappers who know nothing. Of course, you’ve been in town long enough to know that Donnelly is simply McQuade’s creature. I never had any luck.”

“Oh, it may change by and by.” Warrington, at that moment, felt genuinely sorry for the outcast.

Bill twirled his hat. “You’ve never laughed at me, Richard; you’ve always treated me like a gentleman, which I was once. I didn’t mail that letter because I wanted to see if you had changed any. If you had become a snob, why, you could fight your blamed battles yourself; no help from me. But you’re just the same. I’ve brought something that’ll be of more use to you than that letter, and don’t you forget it.”

“What?” asked Warrington skeptically.

Suddenly Bill leaned forward, shading his voice with his hand. “I was in Hanley’s for a glass of beer this noon. I sat in a dark place. The table next to me was occupied by Martin, McQuade, and a fellow named Bolles.”


“You’ve been away so long you haven’t heard of him. He handles the dagos during election. Well, McQuade was asking all sorts of questions about you. Asked if you gambled, or drank, or ran around after women.”

Warrington no longer leaned back in his chair. His body assumed an alert angle.

“They all went up to McQuade’s office. The typewriter is a niece of mine. McQuade has heard that the senator is going to spring your name at the caucus. But that’s a small matter. McQuade is going to do you some way or other.”

“What do you mean?”

“Why, he sees that his goose is cooked if you run. He’s determined that he won’t let you.”

Warrington laughed; there was a note of battle in his laughter. “Go on,” he said.

“Nobody knew anything about your habits. So McQuade has sent Bolles to New York. He used to be a private detective, He’s gone to New York to look up your past there. I know Bolles; he’ll stop at nothing. McQuade, however, was wise enough to warn him not to fake, but to get real facts.”

This time Warrington’s laughter was genuine.

“He’s welcome to all he can find.”

“But this isn’t all. I know a printer on the Times. To-morrow the whole story about your accepting the senator’s offer will come out. They hope the senator will be forced to change his plans. They think the public will lose interest in your campaign. Surprise is what the public needs. I’ll tell you something else. Morris, who died last week, had just sold out his interest in the Telegraph to McQuade. This means that McQuade has the controlling interest in every newspaper in town. I never heard of such a thing before; five newspapers, Democratic and Republican, owned by a Democratic boss.”

Warrington smoked thoughtfully. This man McQuade was something out of the ordinary. And he had defied him.

“I am very much obliged to you, Osborne. If I win out, on my word of honor, I’ll do something for you.”

“You aren’t afraid of McQuade?” anxiously.

“My dear Mr. Osborne, I am not afraid of the Old Nick himself. I’ll give this man McQuade the biggest fight he has ever had. Bolles will have his pains for nothing. Any scandal he can rake up about my past will be pure blackmail; and I know how to deal with that breed.”

“McQuade will try something else, then. He’s sworn to stop you. I’m glad you aren’t afraid of him.”

“I can’t thank you enough.”

“I wander about town a good deal; nobody pays much attention to me; so lots of things fall under my notice. I’ll let you know what I hear. You’ll find all the decent people on your side, surprise or no surprise. They’re tired of McQuade and Donnelly; Some of these paving deals smell. Well, I’m keeping you from your work.” Bill rose.

“Help yourself to these cigars,” said Warrington gratefully, passing the box.

Bill took three.

“Good night, Richard.”

“Good night, Mr. Osborne. If by any good luck I become mayor of Herculaneum, I’ll not forget your service to-night.”

“That’s all that’s necessary for me;” and Bill bowed himself out. He layed his course for his familiar haunts.

Warrington turned to his work again. But the news he had just received disturbed all connected thought, so he put the manuscript away. So the first gun had been fired! They had sent a man to hunt up his past in New York. He looked back, searching this corner and that, but he could not recall anything that would serve McQuade’s purpose. No man is totally free from folly. True, there was a time when he drank, but he had stopped that idiocy nearly two years before. This could not be tallied against him with effect. And, thank God, there had been no women. His gambling had been of the innocuous kind. Well, let them hunt; much good it would do them.

He picked up the letter which Osborne had so fortunately come upon. He was often amused at the fascination it held for him. He would never meet the writer, and yet not a day passed that he did not strive to conjure up an imaginative likeness. And he had nearly lost it. The creases were beginning to show. He studied it thoroughly. He held it toward the light. Ah, here was something that had hitherto escaped his notice. It was a peculiar water-mark. He examined the folds. The sheet had not been folded originally, letter-wise, but had been fiat, as if torn from a tablet. He scrutinized the edges and found signs of mucilage. Here was something, but it led him to no solution. The post-office mark had been made in New York. To trace a letter in New York would be as impracticable as subtracting gold from sea-water. It was a tantalizing mystery, and it bothered him more than he liked to confess. He put the letter in his wallet, and went into the sewing-room, where his aunt was knitting. The dear old lady smiled at him.

“Aunty, I’ve got a secret to tell you.”

“What is it, Richard?”

“I’m going to run for mayor.”

The old lady dropped her work and held up her hands in horror.

“You are fooling, Richard!”

“I am very serious, Aunty.”

“But politicians are such scamps, Richard.”

“Somebody’s got to reform them.”

“But they’ll reform you into one of their kind. You don’t mean it!”

“Yes, I do. I’ve promised, and I can’t back down now.”

“No good will come of it,” said the old lady prophetically, reaching down for her work. “But if you are determined, I suppose it’s no use for me to talk. What will the Benningtons say?”

“They rather approve of the idea. I’m going up there early to-morrow. I’ll be up before you’re down. Good night.” He lightly kissed the wrinkled face.

“Have a good time, Richard; and God bless my boy.”

He paused on the threshold and came back. Why, he did not know. But having come back, he kissed her once again, his hands on her cheeks. There were tears in her eyes.

“You’re so kind and good to an old woman, Richard.”

“Pshaw! there’s nobody your equal in all the world. Good night;” and he stepped out into the hall.

The next morning he left town for the Benningtons’ bungalow in the Adirondacks. He carried his fishing-rods, for Patty had told him that their lake was alive with black bass. Warrington was an ardent angler. Rain might deluge him, the sun scorch, but he would sit in a boat all day for a possible strike. He arrived at two in the afternoon, and found John, Kate and Patty at the village station. A buckboard took them into the heart of the forest, and the penetrating, resinous perfumes tingled Warrington’s nostrils. He had been in the woods in years gone by; not a tree or a shrub that he did not know. It was nearly a two hours’ drive to the lake, which was circled by lordly mountains.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” asked Patty, with a kind of proprietary pride.

“It is as fine as anything in the Alps,” Warrington admitted. “Shall we go a-fishing in the morning?”

“If you can get up early enough.”

“Trust me!” enthusiastically.

“I netted one this morning that weighed three pounds.”

“Fish grow more rapidly out of water than in,” railingly.

“John, didn’t that bass weigh three pounds?” Patty appealed.

“It weighed three and a half.”

“I apologize,” said Warrington humbly.

“How’s the politician?” whispered Kate, eagerly.

“About to find himself in the heart of a great scandal. The enemy has located us, and this afternoon the Times is to come out with a broadside. I haven’t the least idea what it will say, nor care.”

“That’s the proper way to talk,” replied Kate approvingly. “We climbed that bald mountain yesterday. Patty took some beautiful photographs.”

“The tip of your nose is beginning to peel,” said Warrington irrelevantly.

“It’s horrid of you to mention it. I’m not used to the sun, but I love it. Patty is teaching me how to bait a hook.”

“I’d like to see a photograph of that,” Warrington cried. “Say, John, is there any way of getting to-night’s newspapers up here?”

“Nothing till to-morrow morning. The boat leaves the mail at night. But what’s this talk about politics?” John demanded.

Warrington looked at Patty and Kate in honest amazement.

“Do you two mean to tell me,” he asked, “that you have really kept the news from John?”

“You told us not to tell,” said Kate reproachfully.

“Well, I see that I shall never get any nearer the truth about women. I thought sure they’d tell you, Jack, that I’m going to run for mayor this fall.”


“Truth. And it’s going to be the fight of my life. I accepted in the spirit of fun, but I am dead in earnest now. Whichever way it goes, it will be a good fight. And you may lay to that, my lad, as our friend Long John Silver used to say.”

He said nothing, however, of his interview with McQuade. That was one of the things he thought best to keep to himself.

“I’ll harangue the boys in the shops,” volunteered John, “though there’s a spirit of unrest I don’t like. I’ve no doubt that before long I shall have a fight on my hands. But I shall know exactly what to do,” grimly. “But hang business! These two weeks are going to be totally outside the circle of business. I hope you’ll win, Dick. We’ll burn all the stray barrels for you on election night.”

“There’ll be plenty of them burning. But I shall be nervous till I see the Times.”

“You’ll have it in the morning.”

Warrington sighed. Half an hour later the bungalow came into view.

The elder Bennington knew the value of hygienic living. He kept his children out of doors, summer and winter. He taught them how to ride, to hunt, to fish; he was their partner in all out-of-door games; he made sport interesting and imparted to them his own zest and vitality. So they grew up strong and healthy. He left their mental instruction to the mother, knowing full well that she would do as much on her side as he had done on his. Only one law did he lay down: the children should go to public schools till the time for higher education arrived. Then they might choose whatever seat of learning they desired. He had the sound belief that children sent to private schools rarely become useful citizens.

The rosal glow of dawn tipped the mountains, and a russet haze lay on the still bosom of the lake. Warrington made a successful cast not far from the lily-pods. Zing! went the reel. But by the pressure of his thumb he brought the runaway to a sudden halt. The tip of the rod threatened to break! Hooked! Patty swung round the canoe, which action gave the angler freer play. Ah, wasn’t that beautiful! Two feet out of the water! Here he comes, but not more swiftly than the reel can take him. Off he goes again–take care for the unexpected slack. Another leap, like a bronze flame, and then a dash for the shallow bottom. He fought gallantly for his life and freedom. Patty reached for the net. Inch by inch Warrington drew him in. Twice he leaped over the net, but Patty was an old hand. The third effort landed him.

“Two pounds,” said Patty. “Plenty for breakfast now.”

“Tell you what, this is sport. How many have we?”

“Seven in half an hour.” Patty began using her paddle.

“Finest sport in the world!” Warrington settled down on the cushion and leisurely watched the brown arms of his guide.

“You’re a good fisherman. And I like to see a good fisherman get excited. John is like a statue when he gets a strike; he reels them in like a machine. He becomes angry if any one talks. But it’s fun to watch Kate. She nearly falls out of the boat, and screams when the bass leaps. Isn’t it beautiful?”

“It is a kind of Eden. But I’m so restless. I have to be wandering from place to place. If I owned your bungalow, I should sell it the second year. All the charm would go the first season. God has made so many beautiful places in this world for man that man is the only ungrateful creature in it. What’s that smoke in the distance?”

“That’s the mail-boat, with your newspaper. It will be two hours yet before it reaches our dock. It has to zigzag to and fro across the lake. I’m hungry.”

“So am I. Let me take the paddle.”

The exchange was made, and he sent the canoe over the water rapidly. Patty eyed him with frank admiration.

“Is there anything you can’t do well?”

“A good many things,” he acknowledged.

“I should like to know what they are.”

Neither spoke again till the canoe glided around the dock and a landing was made. Warrington strung the fish, and together he and Patty went toward the kitchen. At seven-thirty the family sat down to a breakfast of fried bass, and Patty told how the catch had been made.

“He’s a better fisherman than you, John.”

“Just as you say, Patty. I care not who catches bass, so long as I may eat them,” in humorous paraphrase.

There was no little excitement over the arrival of the mail-boat. They were all eager to see what the Times had to say. There was a column or more on the first page, subheaded. Warrington’s career was rather accurately portrayed, but there were some pungent references to cabbages. In the leader, on the editorial page, was the master-hand.

“In brief, this young man is to be the Republican candidate for mayor. Grown desperate these half-dozen years of ineffectual striving for political pap, Senator Henderson resorts to such an expedient. But the coup falls flat; there will be no surprise at the convention; the senator loses the point he seeks to score. Personally, we have nothing to say against the character of Mr. Warrington. After a fashion he is a credit to his native town. But we reaffirm, he is not a citizen, he is not eligible to the high office. If he accepts, after this arraignment, he becomes nothing more than an impertinent meddler. What has he done for the people of Herculaneum? Nothing. Who knows anything about his character, his honor, his worth? Nobody. To hold one’s franchise as a citizen does not make that person a citizen in the honest sense of the word. Let Mr. Warrington live among us half a dozen years, and then we shall see. The senator, who is not without some wisdom and experience, will doubtless withdraw this abortive candidate. It’s the only logical thing he can do. We dare say that the dramatist accepted the honor with but one end in view: to find some material for a new play. But Herculaneum declines to be so honored. He is legally, but not morally, a citizen. He is a meddler, and Herculaneum is already too well supplied with meddlers. Do the wise thing, Mr. Warrington; withdraw. Otherwise your profit will be laughter and ridicule; for the Republican party can never hope to win under such equivocal leadership. That’s all we have to say.”

Warrington, who had been reading the articles aloud, grinned and thrust the paper into his pocket.

“What shall you do?” asked John curiously.

“Do? Go into the fight tooth and nail. They dub me a meddler; I’ll make the word good.”

“Hurrah!” cried Kate, clapping her hands. She caught Patty in her arms, and the two waltzed around the dock.

The two men shook hands, and presently all four were reading their private letters. Warrington received but one. It was a brief note from the senator. “Pay no attention to Times’ story. Are you game for a fight? Write me at once, and I’ll start the campaign on the receipt of your letter.”

“Patty, where do you write letters?” he asked. He called her Patty quite naturally. Patty was in no wise offended.

“In the reading-room you will find a desk with paper and pens and ink. Shall I go with you?”

“Not at all. I’ve only a note to scribble to Senator Henderson.”

Warrington found the desk. Upon it lay a tablet. He wrote hurriedly:

“Start your campaign; I am in it now to the last ditch.”

As he re-read it, he observed a blur in the grain of the paper. On closer inspection he saw that it was a water-mark. He had seen one similar, but where? His heart began thumping his ribs. He produced the inevitable letter. The water-mark was identical. He even laid the letter unfolded on the tablet. It fitted exactly.

“Patty!” he murmured in a whisper.

Patty had never written him a single line; whenever she had communicated to him her commands, it had been by telephone. Patty Bennington! The window was at his elbow. He looked out and followed the sky-line of the hills as they rolled away to the south. Patty! It was a very beautiful world, and this was a day of days. It all came to him in that moment of discovery. He had drifted along toward it quite unconsciously, as a river might idle toward the sea. Patty! The light of this knowledge was blinding for a space. So Warrington came into his own romance. It was not the grand passion, which is always meteoric; it was rather like a new star, radiant, peaceful, eternal.

“Patty!” He smiled.

Chapter X

It was only when the whistle of the returning boat sounded close by that he realized he had been sitting there for nearly an hour. He roused himself, sealed and addressed his letter to the senator, and hurried down to the dock. Patty was alone, mending some tackle.

“It must be a long letter,” she remarked, standing up and shaking her skirts.

“Why, this is only the beginning of it,” he replied ambiguously. “It is never going to end.”

“Mercy! It must be a postscript.”

He had no retort handy, so he contented himself with watching the approach of the boat.

“Some men are never satisfied,” she said owlishly. “If I were a successful dramatist, such as you are, a public office would look rather tawdry.”

“But it’s real, Patty; it’s life and not mummery.”

“I don’t know,” doubtfully; “from what I have read, there are more puppets in and about a City Hall than ever dangled in the puppet booth. Did I give you permission to call me Patty?” demurely.

“Not that I recollect.” The boat came sweeping up to the dock, and he tossed the senator’s letter to the boy. The boat went on with a musical gurgle. “But when I especially like anything, I usually appropriate it.”

“I can see that you will make a good politician.”

He laughed happily.

“Evidently you like the name. You have applied it to me three times this morning.”

“Like it? Why, I think it is the most charming name I ever heard. It smells of primroses, garden-walls, soldiers in ragged regimentals, of the time when they built houses with big-columned porches.”


“May I not call you Patty?”

“Oh, if you ask my permission, you may.”

“I do.”

“That is better.”



“Do you ever look in your mirror?”

“The idea! Of course I do. I look in it every morning and every night. And as often as I find the time. Why?”

“Nothing; only, I do not blame you.”

“What’s all this leading to?” frowning.

“Heaven knows! But I feel sentimental this morning. There is so much beauty surrounding me that I feel impelled to voice my appreciation of it.”

“There is no remedy, I suppose.”

“None, save the agony of extemporization.”

“I have never heard you talk like this before. What IS the matter?”

“Perhaps it is the exhilaration I feel for the coming fight. Would you like to see me mayor?”

“Indeed I should. Think of the circus tickets you’d have to give away each year! You know they always give the mayor a handful for his personal use. No, Mr. Warrington, I shall be very proud of you when you are mayor.”

“What’s the matter with your calling me Richard or Dick?”

“We must not advance too suddenly.”

“Is there anything the matter with the name?”

“Oh, no; Richard is quite musical in its way. But I am always thinking of the humpbacked king. If I called you anything it would be Dick.”

“Richard was not humpbacked. Moreover, he was a valiant king, greatly maligned by Mr. Shakespeare.”

“I see that I shall not dare argue with you on the subject; but we can not banish on so short a notice the early impressions of childhood. Richard Third has always been a bugaboo to my mind. Some day, perhaps, I’ll get over it.”

“Make it Dick, as a compromise.”

“Some day, when I have known you a little longer. Has John ever told you about Mr. McQuade?”

“McQuade?” Warrington realized that he had been floating on a pleasant sea. He came upon the hidden shore rather soundly. “McQuade?” he repeated.

“Yes. He had the audacity to propose to mother shortly after father’s death. Think of it! John wrote to him very definitely that his presence in the house would no longer be welcomed or tolerated. Father had some slight business transactions with Mr. McQuade, and he came up to the house frequently. He continued these visits after father’s death. We treated him decently, but we simply could not make him feel welcome. The third time he called he proposed.

“Mother left the room without even replying. He understood. A few minutes afterward we heard the door slam. John wrote him the next morning. Did you ever hear of anything to equal the cold-bloodedness of it?”

Warrington looked at her in absolute amazement.

“Well, of all the nerve! Why the deuce didn’t John punch his head?” savagely.

“Mr. McQuade is not a gentleman; John is,” simply. “But Mr. McQuade hasn’t forgotten; not he. He pays no attention to any of us; but that is no sign that he does not think a good deal. However, we do not worry. There is no possible chance for him to retaliate; at least John declares there isn’t. But sometimes I grow afraid when I think it all over. To his mind I can see that he considers himself badly affronted; and from what I know of his history, he never lets an affront pass without striking back in some manner.”

“Don’t you worry your head about McQuade. What do you think? He is so anxious to get me out of the political arena that he has sent a man down to New York to look into my past. Isn’t that droll?”

Patty stooped again to the fishing-tackle.

“Such men as McQuade can invent. I should be very careful, if I were you. Your own conscience may prove you guiltless of scandal, but there are certain people who would rather believe bad than good–scandal than truth; and these are always in the majority. Don’t laugh, but watch. That’s my advice to you, Mr. Meddler.” She smiled brightly at him as she threaded the line through the guides of the rod.

“I may not have lived as cleanly as I might have,” he said soberly. “I have been knocked about so much. There were times when I grew tired of fighting. But I have never done anything that will not stand daylight. There was a time, Patty, when I came near making a fool of myself.” He sat down, his legs swinging over the water. “I drank more than was good for me. He stared into the brown water and watched the minnows as they darted hither and thither. “I was alone; things went wrong, and I was cowardly enough to fall into the habit. But it was only periodically. You remember that letter I showed you?”

“Yes.” Patty’s voice was low.

“I believe I have read it a thousand times. It has caused me a great many regrets. I should like, some day, to meet the writer and disillusion her. One thing she may be sure of: I have never belittled the talent God has given me. I have striven for the ideal; I have even fought for it. That part of my life holds no stain.”

“But the habit?” hesitant.

“It is gone, where all fool-habits go, when a man has will power to rid himself of them. Pride has something to do with it; and I have my share of pride. I shall never go back.”

His head was turned away, but she could see the muscles in the jaws harden.

“You will never go back, I am sure, Richard.”

That she had at last pronounced his given name did not stir him; in fact, it passed over his head and hearing. Like a dragon-brood, he saw in fancy his past follies springing up about him. Not yet could he tell this clean-minded, gentle-bred girl that he loved her. He must prove himself still further before he might utter what so thoroughly filled his heart and mind.

“Your brother’s wife brought me to my senses. What I am to-day she in part has made. That is why I think so much of her; that is why I am happy to see that she is happy and has realized her heart’s desire. Heigh-ho! I believe I am making you my confessor.” He turned his face toward her now, and his smile was rather sad. “When I recall the worry I have given my poor old aunt, who loves me so, I feel like a contemptible scoundrel. How many countless sacrifices has she made for me, in the days when we had nothing! But she shall have all the comforts now, and all the love and kindness I am capable of giving her. I shall never leave her again.”

There were tears in Patty’s eyes. “It is never too late to mend; and when a man is penitent, truly and honestly penitent, much shall be forgiven him. It is only those who are by nature coarse who do not eventually surmount temptation. What you have told me I have known this long while.”

“You have known?” he cried with sinking heart.

“Yes. We live in a city where gossip travels quickly and thoroughly. Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene was telling mother one afternoon that you drank. I suppose she felt it her duty.”

“To be sure,” bitterly. “Was it while I have been living at home?”

“No; when the rumor came that you were coming.”

He shrugged expressively. “I ought to have known.”

“But come; you are up here to be cheered, not lectured. Let us play billiards. I can hear John and Kate playing now. We’ll play sides; and if we win against those two, I promise to call you Richard once a day while you are up here. Or, would you rather I played and sang?”

“Much rather,” brightening up a bit. “There is always time to play billiards. But first, I want you to come with me into the reading-room. I have something to show you; I had almost forgotten.”

“The reading-room?” puzzled.

“Yes. Will you come?”

She nodded her assent, and the two entered the house. Warrington, having arrived at the writing-desk, bade her sit down. He had an idea. Patty sat down.

“I want you to write something for me,” he said, pushing the pen and tablet toward her.

“What’s the matter with your hand?” she demanded.


“Then why do you want me to write?”

“I have never seen your handwriting. I’m something of an expert in that line. I’ll read your future.”

“But I don’t want my future read,” rebelliously.

“Well, then, your past.”

“Much less my past. Come; you are only beating about the bush. What is it you want?”

“I want to know,” he said quietly, “why you have kept me in ignorance all this while.” He laid the letter on the desk, and placed a finger on the water-mark. “It wasn’t fair to let me compose panegyrics over it all the while you were laughing in your sleeve. Ah, I’ve caught you. You can’t get away this time, Patty.”

“I haven’t the slightest idea what you are talking about.” But she looked at the letter and not at him.

“Do you see those water-marks?” he demanded.

“Yes. You will find them in a thousand tablets like this. I bought a dozen of them in New York; cheap and handy.”

Warrington’s confidence in his discovery began to shake. He braced himself and took a bold course.

“Patty, you wrote that letter; you know you did. You wrote it in New York, the day you bought the tablets.”


“Yes. Confess.”

“My dear Mr. Warrington, you must prove it,” lightly. “It would not be proper for me to admit that I had been so foolish as to write a letter like that.”

“But you’ve praised it!”

“Simply because praising it would please you; for no other reason.”

“Did you, or did you not write it?”

“Find out. You must prove that I wrote it. Certainly I have nothing to confess.”

“You will not answer me one way or the other?”


“If you had not written it you would.”

“I don’t believe I shall sing this morning,” rising.

“And I have wondered a thousand times who could have written it. And all the time it was you.”

“Nor play billiards,” went on Patty.

“If only I were all you hitherto believed me to be!”

“Nor fish to-morrow morning.”

“This letter has been like an anchor. Immediately upon receiving it I began to try to live better.”

“Nor fish the day after to-morrow.”

“And I had forgotten all about Jack’s having a sister!”

“Something I shall neither forget nor forgive. And if you persist in accusing me of writing that letter, I promise not to fish again while you are here.” She walked toward the door, her chin held high.

“You wrote it. Come and sing. I’ll say nothing more about it. There’s nothing more to be said.” He carelessly picked up a book and looked at the fly-leaf. “From Sister Patty to Brother John,” he read. There was no mistake now. He laughed. Patty turned. “The writing is the same.”

“Is it?”

“Will you sing?”

No answer.


Patty stood between the door that led to the veranda and the door that led to the music-room–between Charybdis and Scylla, as it were, for she knew he would follow her whichever way she went. She turned into the music-room.

“Thanks,” he said.

The days passed all too quickly for Warrington. He walked in the golden glow of his first romance, that romance which never leaves us till life itself departs. He spoke no word of his love, but at times there was something in his voice that thrilled Patty and subdued her elfish gaiety. Some girls would have understood at once, but Patty was different. She was happy one moment, and troubled the next, not knowing the reason. She was not analytical; there was no sophistry in her young heart. She did not dream that this man loved her; she was not vain enough for that.

John and Kate watched them approvingly. They knew the worth of the man; they were not at all worried over what was past. They saw their own romance tenderly reflected. Mrs. Bennington was utterly oblivious. Mothers never realize that their daughters and sons must some day leave them; they refuse to accept this natural law; they lament over it to-day as they lamented in the days of the Old Testament. The truth is, children are always children to the parents; paternal and maternal authority believes its right indefinite.

By this time all the newspapers, save the Telegraph, had made readable copy out of Warrington’s candidacy. Why the Telegraph remained mute was rather mystifying. Warrington saw the hand of McQuade in this. The party papers had to defend the senator, but their defense was not so strong as it might have been. Not a single sheet came out frankly for Warrington. The young candidate smoked his pipe and said nothing, but mentally he was rolling up his sleeves a little each day. He had not yet pulled through the convention. Strong as the senator was, there might yet be a hitch in the final adjustment. So far nothing had come of Bolles’ trip to New York. Occasionally newspapers from the nearby towns fell into Warrington’s hands. These spoke of his candidacy in the highest terms, and belabored the editors of Herculaneum for not accepting such a good chance of ridding itself of McQuadeism.

Meantime, there was fishing, long trips into the heart of the forests, dancing at the hotel at the head of the lake, billiards and music. Warrington was already deeply tanned, and Patty’s nose was liberally sprinkled with golden freckles.

One evening Kate and John sat on the veranda from where they could easily watch Warrington and Patty in the music-room.

“What do you think of it, John?”

“There’s not a finer chap in the world. But I don’t think Patty realizes yet.”

“Dear Patty!” Kate reached over and took his hand in hers, laying it against her cold cheek. “What is it, John? You have been worried all day.”

“Nothing; nothing to bother you with.”

“The shops? It worries me when you don’t confide in me in everything.”

“Well, dear, the trouble I’ve been expecting for months is about to come. You know that young Chittenden, the English inventor, has been experimenting with a machine that will do the work of five men. They have been trying to force him to join the union, but he has refused, having had too many examples of unionism in his own country to risk his independence here. Well, I received a letter from the general manager this morning. Either Chittenden must join or go; otherwise the men will go out September first.”

“What shall you do?”

“I shall keep Chittenden. I am master there,” striking the arm of his chair; “master in everything. If they go out in September, it will be for good. I shall tear down the shops and build model tenements.”


“I am sick and tired, dear. I have raised the wages all over the district; my men work less than any other hands in town. I have built a gymnasium for them, given them books, pool-tables, and games, to say nothing of the swimming-tank. I have arranged the annual outings. I have established a pension-list. But all this seems to have done no good. I am at the end of the rope. Oh, the poor devils who work are all right; it’s the men outside who are raising all this trouble; it’s the union, not the men. There’s no denying the power these men can wield, for wrong or right. Ignorance can not resist the temptation to use it at all times and for all purposes. But I am master at the Bennington shops; injustice shall not dictate to me. They’ll use it politically, too. After all, I’m glad I’ve told you.”

“But, John, I’m afraid for you. They may hurt you.”

John answered with a sound that was more of a growl than a laugh.

“Don’t you worry about me, honey; I’m no weakling. I wish Dick could be with me when the fight comes, but he will have his hands full, and the strike will not help him any. Don’t you worry. Father always felt that there would be trouble some day. He held a large bundle of bank-stock and railroad bonds, and the income from these alone will take care of us very comfortably. There’s a good deal of real estate, too, that may be reckoned on. If the crash does come, we’ll pack up, take the mother, and go abroad for a year or so. But before I’m done I’ll teach local unionism a lesson it will not forget soon. Don’t you worry,” he repeated again; “you just leave it to me.”

She did not speak, but kissed his hand. She knew that no pleading could move him; and besides, he was in the right.

“I don’t understand the lukewarmness of the party papers,” he said. “They ought to hurrah over Dick. But perhaps the secret machinery is being set to work, and they’ve been told that there will be trouble at the convention. The senator never backs down, and I’ve never seen anybody that could frighten Dick. There’ll be some interesting events this fall. Herculaneum will figure in the newspapers from Maine to California, for everybody is familiar with Warrington’s name and work. It’s a month yet before the delegates get together; either Warrington will run or he won’t. Calling him a meddler is good. If the Times isn’t a meddler, I never saw one and have misunderstood the meaning of the word.”

In the music-room Patty was playing Grieg and MacDowell, and Warrington was turning the pages. The chords, weird and melancholy, seemed to permeate his whole being; sad, haunting music, that spoke of toil, tears, death and division, failure and defeat, hapless love and loveless happiness. After a polonaise, Patty stopped.

“If music were only lasting, like a painting, a statue, a book,” she said; “but it isn’t. Why these things haunt me every day, but I can recollect nothing; I have to come back to the piano. It is elusive.”

“And the most powerful of all the arts that arouse the emotions. Hang it! when I hear a great singer, a great violinist, half the time I find an invisible hand clutching me by the throat … Patty, honestly now, didn’t you write that letter?”

“Yes,” looking him courageously in the eyes. “And I hope you were not laughing when you said all those kind things about it.”

“Laughing? No,” gravely, “I was not laughing. Play something lively; Chaminade; I am blue to-night.”

So Patty played the light, enchanting sketches. In the midst of one of them she stopped suddenly.

“What is it?” he asked.

“I thought I heard the boat’s whistle. Listen. Yes, there it is. It must be a telegram. They never come up to the head of the lake at night for anything less. There goes John with a lantern.”

“Never mind the telegram,” he said; “play.”

A quarter of an hour later John and Kate came in.

“A telegram for you, Dick,” John announced, sending the yellow envelope skimming through the air.

Warrington caught it deftly. He balanced it in his hand speculatively.

“It is probably a hurry-call from the senator. I may have to go back to town to-morrow. I have always hated telegrams.”

He opened it carelessly and read it. He read it again, slowly; and Patty, who was nearest to him, saw his face turn gray under the tan and his lips tremble. He looked from one to the other dumbly, then back at the sheet in his hand.

“Richard!” said Kate, with that quick intuition which leaps across chasms of doubt and arrives definitely.

“My aunt died this afternoon,” he said, his voice breaking, for he had not the power to control it.

Nobody moved; a kind of paralysis touched them all.

“She died this afternoon, and I wasn’t there.” There is something terribly pathetic in a strong man’s grief.

“Dick!” John rushed to his side. “Dick, old man, there must be some mistake.”

He seized the telegram from Warrington’s nerveless fingers. There was no mistake. The telegram was signed by the family physician. Then John did the kindliest thing in his power.

“Do you wish to be alone, Dick?”

Warrington nodded. John laid the telegram on the table, and the three of them passed out of the room. A gust of wind, coming down from the mountains, carried the telegram gently to the floor. Warrington, leaning against the table, stared down at it.

What frightful things these missives are! Charged with success or failure, riches or poverty, victory or defeat, births or deaths, they fly to and fro around the great world hourly, on ominous and sinister wings. A letter often fails to reach us, but a telegram, never. It is the messenger of fate, whose emissaries never fail to arrive.

Death had never before looked into Warrington’s life; he had viewed it with equanimity, with a tolerant pity for those who succumbed to it, for those whose hearts it ravaged with loneliness and longing. He had used it frequently in his business as a property by which to arouse the emotions of his audiences. That it should some day stand at his side, looking into his eyes, never occurred to him. He tried to think, to beguile himself into the belief that he should presently awake to find it a dream. Futile expedient! She was dead; that dear, kind, loving heart was dead. Ah! and she had died alone! A great sob choked him. He sank into a chair and buried his face in his arms. The past rushed over him like a vast wave. How many times had he carelessly wounded that heart which had beat solely for him! How many times had he given his word, only to break it! He was alone, alone; death had severed the single tie; he was alone. Death is kind to the dead, but harsh to the living. Presently his sighs became less regular, and at length they ceased entirely.

The portiere rustled slightly, and Patty’s face became visible. Her eyes were wet. She had tried to keep away, but something drew her irresistibly. Her heart swelled. If only she might touch his bowed head, aye, kiss the touches of grey at the temples; if only she might console him in this hour of darkness and grief. Poor boy, poor boy! She knew not how long she watched him; it might have been minutes or hours; she was without recollection of time. A hand touched her gently on the arm. Kate stood by her side.

“Come,” she whispered; “come, Patty.”

Patty turned without question or remonstrance and followed her up stairs.

“Kate, dear Kate!”

“What is it, darling?”

“He is all alone!”

At midnight John tiptoed into the music-room. Warrington had not moved. John tapped him on the shoulder.

“You mustn’t stay here, old man. Come to bed.”

Warrington stood up.

“Would you like a drop of brandy?”

Warrington shook his head.

“It is terribly hard,” said John, throwing his arm across the other’s shoulders. “I know; I understand. You are recalling all the mistakes, all the broken promises, all the disappointments. That is but natural. But in a few days all the little acts of kindness will return to your memory; all the good times you two have had together, the thousand little benefits that made her last days pleasant. These will soften the blow, Dick.”

“I wasn’t there,” Warrington murmured dully. His mind could accept but one fact: his aunt had died alone, without his being at the bedside.

It rained in Herculaneum that night. The pavement in Williams Street glistened sharply, for a wind was swinging the arc-lamps. The trees on the Warrington lawn sighed incessantly; and drip, drip, drip, went the rain on the leaves. Not a light shone anywhere in the house; total darkness brooded over it. In one of the rooms a dog lay with his nose against the threshold of the door. From time to time he whined mournfully. In another room an Angora cat stalked restlessly back and forth, sometimes leaping upon a chair, sometimes trotting round and round, and again, wild-eyed and furtive, it stood motionless, as if listening. Death had entered the house; and death, to the beast, is not understandable.

Chapter XI

Everybody had gone down the winding road to the granite entrance of the cemetery; the minister, the choir, the friends and those who had come because they reveled in morbid scenes. These were curious to see how Warrington was affected, if he showed his grief or contained it, so that they might have something to talk about till some one else died. There are some people in this merry world of ours who, when they take up the evening paper, turn first to the day’s death notices; who see no sermons in the bright flowers, the birds and butterflies, the misty blue hills, the sunshine, who read no lesson in beauty, who recognize no message in the moon and the stars, in cheerfulness and good humor. On the contrary, they seem to abhor the sunshine; they keep their parlors for ever in musty darkness, a kind of tomb where they place funeral wreaths under glass globes and enter but half a dozen times a year. Well, even these had finally dragged themselves away from the grave, and left Warrington standing alone beside the brown roll of damp fresh earth. No carriage awaited him, for he had signified his intention of walking home.

All about him the great elms and maples and oaks showed crisp against the pale summer sky. Occasionally a leaf fell. A red squirrel chattered above him, and an oriole sang shrilly and joyously near by. The sun was reddening in the west, and below, almost at his feet, the valley swam in a haze of delicate amethyst. The curving stream glittered. From where he stood he could see them bundling up the sheaves of wheat. All these things told him mutely that the world was going on the same as ever; nothing had changed. In the city men and women were going about their affairs as usual; the smoke rolled up from the great chimneys. When all is said, our griefs and joys are wholly our own; the outsider does not participate.

Yes, the world went on just the same. Death makes a vacancy, but the Great Accountant easily fills it; and the summing up of balances goes on. Let us thank God for the buoyancy of the human spirit, which, however sorely tried, presently rises and assumes its normal interest in life.

Warrington looked dreamily at the grave, and the philosopher in him speculated upon the mystery of it. Either the grave is Heaven or it is nothing; one can proceed no farther. If there was a Heaven (and in the secret corner of his heart he believed there was), a new star shone in the sky at night, a gentle, peaceful star. Just now the pain came in the knowledge that she was gone; later the actual absence would be felt. For a month or so it would seem that she had gone on a journey; he would find himself waiting and watching; but as the weeks and months went by, and he heard not her step nor her voice, then would come the real anguish. They tell us that these wounds heal; well, maybe; but they open and reopen and open again till that day we ourselves cease to take interest in worldly affairs.

He stooped and picked up one of the roses which she had held in her hand. Reverently he pressed his lips to it and put it away in his wallet. Then he turned and went slowly down the hill. He had never really known her till these last few months; not till now did he realize how closely knit together had been their lives and affections. He lighted a cigar, and with his hands behind his back and his chin in his collar, he continued to the gates. The old care-taker opened and closed the gates phlegmatically. Day by day they came, and one by one they never went out again. To him there was neither joy nor grief; if the grass grew thick and the trees leaved abundantly, that was all he desired.

It was a long walk to Williams Street, and he was tired when he entered the house. Jove leaped upon him gladly. Warrington held the dog’s head in his hands and gazed into the brown eyes. Here was one that loved him, wholly and without question. You will always find some good in the man who retains the affection of his dog. In good times or bad, they are stanch friends; and they are without self-interest, which is more than human. In the living-room he found the Angora curled up on a sofa-cushion. He smoothed her, and she stretched her lithe body luxuriously and yawned. There is no other animal which so completely interprets the word indifference. Warrington wondered what he should do with her, for he was not very fond of cats. But his aunt had loved her, so he passed on to the dining-room without deciding what to do.

It was a lonely supper. He kept his eyes on his plate as well as he could; for whenever he saw the back of her chair, his food choked him. He wondered why he did not take the decanter of whisky down from the sideboard; a generous tumblerful. … No. This was the first time in months that the desire to drink deeply came to him. No; he would leave it there. Supper done, he went to his den and took down a book. Could he live here now? He doubted it, for it was a house of empty doors. He settled himself in a chair and turned the pages of the book to a place he loved well. It was where D’Artagnan, representing Planchet and Company, returns to the grocer with the bags of English gold which, for several good reasons, Charles Second has given him for General Monk’s sword. He was well along toward the fainting of the honest Planchet on the money-bags, when the telephone rang. He took up the receiver.


“Mama wants you to come over and spend the night with us. John and Kate will be here, too.”

He recognized Patty’s voice.

“I shall be very glad to,” he replied. “Good-by.” He rang for Mary, who came in, her eyes red and swollen; Poor soul, she had also lost her best friend. “I am going over to the Benningtons’ to spend the night, Mary.

“Very well, sir; just as you think best.”

The Benningtons were very kind to him. They engaged his interest the moment he entered the house. They talked of a thousand and one things diverting: the foreign news, the political outlook, the September horse-show at which Patty would ride and jump, what was contemplated in society for the fall and winter, the ice-carnival, and the engagements.

“Why don’t you enter your Irish hunter?” asked John, when the talk veered around to horses again.

“I ride for the mere pleasure of it,” replied Warrington; “or, if you will, I’m too lazy to learn the judges’ catechism.”

Presently they had him telling how he had written his first play, and how completely Mrs. Jack had fooled him on their first meeting.

“No, I have not the slightest desire to return to the stage,” said Mrs. Jack, in answer to a casual inquiry made by Warrington.

“Not while I’m around,” supplemented John.

“Why, nothing could lure me back to it,” Mrs. Jack declared emphatically. “I am happy. I am very happy. I have nothing to wish for, save that my happiness may endure.”

Mrs. Bennington, who had long since grown to love her daughter-in-law, smiled benignly.

“You will always be happy, my dear; you were born to be. It is the just reward for making those around you happy.”

“Patty,” said Warrington, “would you like the Angora?”

“I should love it dearly.”

“Then I’ll send it over to you in the morning.”

And that was as near as they approached the subject they were tacitly avoiding.

At a quarter of nine, to the consternation of every one, Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene was announced.

“Take me up stairs to the billiard-room,” said Warrington; “I am not in the mood to meet that woman to-night.”

“Come on, then,” cried John, willing enough. “There’s the servants’ stairs. I’ll give you a handicap of twenty in a hundred points.”

“I’ll beat you at those odds.”

“That remains to be seen.”

And the two hurried up the stairs just as the hall-door closed. The billiard-room was situated at the head of the front stairs. Warrington won the bank, and he ran a score of ten. While he was chalking his cue he heard voices.

“It is very sad.” It was Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene talking. “We shall miss her in church work. It is a severe blow to Mr. Warrington.”

“That was a good draw, John. Three cushions this time. Good. You’re playing strong to-night.”

“Did you think to bring over your pajamas?” John asked irrelevantly.

Warrington smiled in spite of himself.

“I forgot all about them,” he admitted.

“Thought you would, so I brought over two sets. We’re about the same size. Pshaw! that was an easy one, too.”

Warrington missed his shot; He heard voices again.

“And I want you to help me.” It was Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene again. “We shall reorganize the Woman’s Auxiliary Republican Club, and we shall need you. It is principally for that that I came over.”

“I take very little interest in anything outside my home,” replied Mrs. Bennington.

“Did you get that?” whispered John, as he drew back for a carom.

“But this is very important for the city’s welfare,” pursued Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene.

“I doubt it. So long as we do not vote–“

“That’s just it. We can’t vote, but we can get together and control the male vote in the family. That’s something.”

John grinned at Warrington, who replied with a shrug.

“And they all call me the meddler!” he said.

“What’s the matter with your staying on here a few days, Dick?”

“I should be nothing but a bother to you.”

“Rot! You can’t stay alone over there.”

“I’ll have to; I can’t leave those poor old souls alone. They are broken-hearted. I sent her two hundred every month regularly, just for pin-money; and what do you think she did with it? Hoarded it up and willed something like two thousand to Mary and her husband. I’m all in, Dick. But go on; I’ll finish the game.”

“All right. But whenever you feel lonesome, come here or over to my house. There’ll always be a spare room for you in either house.”

“It’s mighty kind of you, John. My shot?” Warrington ran four and missed.

Voices again.

“I never believe what I hear, and only half of what I see.” That was Mrs. Jack speaking.

Murmurs. The billiard-balls clicked sharply as John played for position.

“The stage doesn’t appeal to you any more, then?” Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene.

“Not in the least. It never did appeal to me. I am so far away from it now that I am losing the desire to witness plays.”

“And for whom will Mr. Warrington write his plays now?”

“The vacancy I made has long ago been filled. I was but one in a thousand to interpret his characters. There is always a lack of plays, but never of actors.”

“Excuse me for a moment.” It was Patty this time.

“Certainly, my dear.”

Warrington heard nothing more for several minutes.

“Is it true what I hear about Patty and that rich young Mr. Whiteland, of New York?”

“What is it that you have heard?”

“Why, that their engagement is about to be announced.”

Warrington stood perfectly still. Whiteland had been a guest at the Adirondack bungalow earlier in the summer. He waited for the answer, and it seemed to him that it would never come.

“I am not engaged to any one, Mrs. Haldene, and I hope you will do me the favor to deny the report whenever you come across it.” Patty had returned. “It seems incredible that a young man may not call upon a young woman without their names becoming coupled matrimonially.”

“Nevertheless, he is regarded as extremely eligible.”

“I have often wondered over Haldene’s regular Saturday night jag at the club,” said John, stringing his count, “but I wonder no longer. They say she never goes out Saturdays.”

Warrington heard the words, but the sense of them passed by. He could realize only one thing, and that was, he loved Patty better than all the world. He could accept his own defeat with philosophy, but another man’s success!–could he accept that? How strangely everything had changed in the last few days! He had never known real mental anguish; heartaches in others had always afforded him mild amusement and contempt. It was one thing, he reflected, to write about human emotions; it was entirely another thing to live and act them. He saw that his past had been full of egotism and selfishness, but he also saw that his selfishness was of the kind that has its foundation in indifference and not in calculation. The voices went on down stairs, but he ceased to pay any attention to them.

“John, there’s been something in my mind for many months.”

“What is it?”

“Do you recollect the night you came into my rooms in New York?”

“I shall never forget it,” quietly.

“Your wife was there.”

“I know it. I found her gloves.” He made a difficult masse. “She told me all about it. At the time, however, I had a pretty bad case of heart-trouble. But I understand. She was in the habit of dropping in on you. Why not? Your cooperation made you both famous. A man in love finds all sorts of excuses for jealousy. But I’m glad you’ve spoken. I can readily understand how you felt when you found the gloves gone.

“You’re a good man, John,” said Warrington.

“Kate loves me; it ought to make any man good to have a wife who loves him. I have no use for a man who sees evil in everything and good in nothing. Say no more about it, boy.”

“I hadn’t seen you in so long that I was confused. If I had reflected … But you see, I didn’t know that you were engaged, or even that you knew her. I never understood, until you were gone, why she wanted to hide herself. I’m glad I’ve relieved my mind.” Warrington sighed.

“It’s all right. There! I told you that I’d win even at those odds.”

Presently they heard a stir down stairs. Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene was going. The door closed. The family came up to the billiard-room. Warrington looked at Patty, whose cheeks were flushed and whose eyes flashed.

“Why, what’s the matter, Pat?” John asked.


“Mrs. Haldene has been making herself useful as usual,” said Mrs. Jack, slipping her arm around Patty’s waist.

Patty was in a rage about something; nobody seemed to know what it was.

“You are not going to join the Auxiliary, are you, mother?” John inquired, putting the cues in the rack.

“Indeed I am not. The men in my family always used their own judgment in politics. They have always been Whigs or Republicans.”

“Did you ever meet a woman, Dick, who was a Democrat?” laughed John.

“Perhaps,” was the reply, “but it has escaped my recollection.”

But he was thinking: after all, he had a right to win Patty if he could. It was not what he had done in the past, it was what he was capable of doing from now on that counted.

“You’re going to have a stiff fight at the convention,” said John.

“I know it. But a fight of any kind will keep my mind occupied. The senator has assured me that I shall get the nomination.”

On the way home Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene saw the flutter of a white dress on the Wilmington-Fairchilds’ veranda. She couldn’t resist, so she crossed the lawn and mounted the veranda steps. She did not observe her husband in the corner, smoking with the master of the house.

“I’ve been over to the Benningtons’,” she began, rather breathless.

“What’s the news?”

“There is no truth in the report of Patty’s engagement to young Whiteland.”

“There isn’t? Well, there ought to be, after the way they went around together last winter.”

“She told me so herself,” Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene declared emphatically. “Do you know what I believe?”

“No,” truthfully.

“I’ve an idea that Patty is inclined toward that fellow Warrington.”

“You don’t mean it!”

“He’s always around there. He must have thought a great deal of his aunt. She was buried to-day, and there he is, playing billiards with John Bennington. If that isn’t heartlessness!”

“What do you want a man to do?” growled her husband from behind his cigar. “Sit in a dark room and wring his hands all day, like a woman? Men have other things to do in life than mourn the departed.”

“Franklyn? I didn’t see you.”

“You seldom do.”