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Title:  The Girl From Farris's
Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs
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eBook No.:  0601491.txt
Edition:1
Language:   English
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Date first posted:  June 2006
Date most recently updated: June 2006

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The Girl From Farris's
Edgar Rice Burroughs


CONTENTS

CHAPTER I. DOARTY MAKES A "PINCH."
CHAPTER II. AND WIRES ARE PULLED.
CHAPTER III. THE GRAND JURY.
CHAPTER IV. DECENCY.
CHAPTER V. A FRIEND IN NEED.
CHAPTER VI. SECOR'S FIANCEE.
CHAPTER VII. JUNE'S EMPLOYER.
CHAPTER VIII. SAMMY THE SLEUTH.
CHAPTER IX. "UNCLEAN-UNCLEAN!"
CHAPTER X. "RATS DESERT--''
CHAPTER XI. A MATTER OF MEMORY.
CHAPTER XII. JUST THREE WORDS.
CHAPTER XIII. "FOR THE MURDER OF--"
CHAPTER XIV. SOME LOOSE THREADS.



CHAPTER I. DOARTY MAKES A "PINCH."

Just what Mr. Doarty was doing in the alley back of Farris's at
two of a chill spring morning would have puzzled those citizens of
Chicago who knew Mr. Doarty best.

To a casual observer it might have appeared that Mr. Doarty was
doing nothing more remarkable than leaning against a telephone pole,
which in itself might have been easily explained had Mr. Doarty not
been so palpably sober; but there are no casual observers in the
South Side levee at two in the morning--those who are in any
condition to observe at all have the eyes of ferrets.

This was not the first of Mr. Doarty's nocturnal visits to the
vicinage of Farris's. For almost a week he had haunted the
neighborhood between midnight and dawn, for Mr. Doarty had determined
to "get" Mr. Farris.

From the open doors of a corner saloon came bursts of bacchanal
revelry--snatches of ribald song; hoarse laughter; the hysterical
scream of a woman; but though this place, too, was Farris's and the
closing hour long passed Mr. Doarty deigned not to notice so minor an
infraction of the law.

Hadn't Lieutenant Barnut filed some ninety odd complaints against
the saloon-keeper-alderman of the Eighteenth Ward for violation of
this same ordinance, only to have them all pigeonholed in the city
prosecutor's office? Hadn't he appeared in person before the
September Grand Jury, and hadn't the state Attorney's office
succeeded in bamboozling that August body into the belief that they
had nothing whatsoever to do with the matter?

An anyhow, what was an aldermanic drag compared with that
possessed by "Abe" Farris? No; Mr. Doarty, had you questioned him,
would have assured you that he had not been born so recently as
yesterday; that he was entirely dry behind the ears; and that if he
"got" Mr. Farris at all he would get him good and plenty, for had he
not only a week before, learning that Mr. Doarty was no longer in the
good graces of his commanding officer, refused to acknowledge Mr.
Doarty's right to certain little incidental emoluments upon which
time-honored custom had placed the seal of lawful title?

In other words--Mr. Doarty's words--Abe Farris had not come
across. Not only had he failed in this very necessary obligation, but
he had added insult to injury by requesting Mr. Doarty to hie himself
to the celestial nadir; and he had made his remarks in a loud, coarse
tone of voice in the presence of a pock-marked barkeep who had it in
for Mr. Doarty because of a certain sixty, weary, beerless days that
the pock-marked one had spent at the Bridewell on Mr. Doarty's
account.

But the most malign spleen becomes less virulent with age, and so
it was that Mr. Doarty found his self-appointed task becoming irksome
to a degree that threatened the stability of his Machiavellian
resolve. Furthermore, he was becoming sleepy and thirsty.

"T' 'ell with 'im," sighed Mr. Doarty, sadly, as he removed his
weight from the supporting pole to turn disconsolately toward the
mouth of the alley.

At the third step he turned to cast a parting, venomous glance at
the back of Farris's; but he took no fourth step toward the alley's
mouth. Instead he dissolved, wraithlike, into the dense shadow
between two barns, his eyes never leaving the back of the building
that he had watched so assiduously and fruitlessly for the past
several nights.

In the back of Farris's is a rickety fire escape--a mute, decaying
witness to the lack of pull under which some former landlord labored.
Toward this was Mr. Doarty's gaze directed, for dimly discernible
upon it was something that moved--moved slowly and cautiously
downward.

It required but a moment for Mr. Doarty's trained eye to transmit
to his eager brain all that he required to know, for the moment at
least, of the slow-moving shadow upon the shadowy ladder--the he
darted across the alley toward the yard in the rear of Farris's.

A girl was descending the fire escape. How frightened she was she
alone knew and that there must have been something very dreadful to
escape in the building above her was apparent from the risk she took
at each step upon that loose and rusted fabric of sagging iron.

She was clothed in a flowered kimono, over which she had drawn a
black silk underskirt. Around her shoulders was an old red shawl, and
she was shod only in bedroom slippers. Scarcely a suitable attire for
street wear; but then people in the vicinity of Twenty-Fourth Street
are not over particular about such matters; especially those who
elect to leave their bed and board at two of a morning by way of a
back fire escape.

At the first floor the ladder ended--a common and embarrassing
habit of fire escape ladders, which are as likely as not to terminate
twenty feet above a stone areaway, or a picket fence--but the stand
pipe continued on to the ground. A stand pipe, flat against a brick
wall, is not an easy thing for a young lady in a flowered kimono and
little else to negotiate; but this was an unusual young lady, and
great indeed must have been the stress of circumstance which urged
her on, for she came down the stand pipe with the ease of a cat, and
at the bottom, turned, horrified, to look into the face of Mr.
Doarty.

With a little gasp of bewilderment she attempted to dodge past
him, but a huge paw of a hand reached out and grasped her
shoulder.

"Well dearie?" said Mr. Doarty.

"Cut it out," replied the girl, "and le'me loose. Who are you
anyhow?"

For answer Mr. Doarty pulled back the lapel of his coat disclosing
a shiny piece of metal pinned on his suspender.

"I ain't done nothing," said the girl.

"Of course you ain't," agreed Mr. Doarty. "Don't I know that real
ladies always climb down fire escapes at two o'clock in the morning
just to prove that they ain't done nothin'?"

"Goin' to pinch me?"

"Depends," replied the plain-clothes man. "What's the idea of this
nocturnal get-away."

The girl hesitated.

"Give it to me straight," admonished her captor. "It'll go easier
with you."

"I guess I might as well," she said. "You see I get a swell offer
from the Beverly Club, and that fat schonacker," she gave a
vindictive nod of her head toward the back of Farris's resort, "he
gets it tipped off to him some way, and has all my clothes locked up
so as I can't get away."

"He wouldn't let you out of his place, eh?" asked Mr. Doarty, half
to himself.

"He said I owed him three hundred dollars for board and
clothes."

"An' he was keepin' you a prisoner there against your will?"
purred Mr. Doarty.

"Yes," said the girl.

Mr. Doarty grinned. This wasn't exactly the magnitude of the
method he had hoped to "get" Mr. Farris; but it was better than
nothing. The present Grand Jury was even now tussling with the vice
problem. Hours of its valuable time were being taken up by reformers
who knew all about the general conditions with which every adult
citizen is familiar; but the tangible cases, backed by the sort of
evidence that convicts, were remarkable only on account of there
scarcity.

Something seemed always to seal the mouths of the principal
witnesses the moment they entered the Grand Jury room; but here was a
case where personal spite and desire for revenge might combine to
make an excellent witness against the most notorious dive keeper in
the city. It was worth trying for.

"Come along," said Mr. Doarty.

"Aw, don't. Please don't!" begged the girl. "I ain't done nothing,
honest!"

"Sure you ain't," replied Mr. Doarty. "I'm only goin' to have you
held as a witness against Farris. That'll get you even with him, and
give you a chance to get out and take that swell job at the Beverly
Club."

"They wouldn't have me if I peached on Farris, and you know it.
Why, I couldn't get a job in a house in town if I done that."

"How would you like to be booked for manslaughter?" asked the
plain clothes man.

"What you giving me!" laughed the girl. "Stow the kid."

"It ain't no kid," replied Mr. Doarty solemnly. "The police knows
a lot about the guy that some one croaked up in Farris's in March,
but we been layin' low for a certain person as is suspected of
passin' him the drops. It gets tipped off to the inmates of Farris's,
an' I bein' next, spots her as she is makin' her get-away. Are you
hep?"

The young lady was hep--most assuredly who would not be hep to the
very palpable threat contained in Mr. Doarty's pretty little
fiction?

"An'," continued Doarty, "when Farris finds you been tryin' to
duck he won't do nothin' to help you."

The girl had known of many who had gone to the pen on slighter
evidence than this. She knew that the police had been searching for
some one upon whom to fasten the murder of a well known business man
who had not been murdered at all, but who had had the lack of
foresight to succumb to an attack of acute endocarditis in the
hallway of the Farris place.

The searching eyes of the plain-clothes man had not failed to
detect the little shudder of horror that had been the visible
reaction in the girl to the sudden recollections induced by mention
of that unpleasant affair, and while he had no reason whatever to
suspect her or another of any criminal responsibility for the man's
death, yet he made a mental note of the effect his words had had upon
her.

Had she not been an inmate of the house at the time the thing
occurred? And was it not just possible that an excellent police case
might be worked up about her later if the exigencies of the service
demanded a brilliant police coup to distract the public's attention
from some more important case in which they had blundered?

For a moment the girl was silent. How badly he had frightened her
with his threat Mr. Doarty had not the faintest conception, nor,
could he have guessed the pitiable beating of her heart, would he
have been able to conjecture the real cause of her alarm. That the
policeman would assume criminal guilt in her should she allow her
perturbation to become too apparent she well knew, and so, for the
moment of her silence, she struggled to regain mastery of herself.
Nor was she unsuccessful.

"It wouldn't get you anything," she said, "to follow that lay, for
the report of the coroner's physician shows that Mr.--that the man
died of heart disease. But, cutting out all this foolishness, I'll
swear a complaint against Farris if you want me to--if you thing that
it will get you anything. Though, and you can take it from me who
knows, it's more likely to get you a prairie beat out Brighton
way--there's many a bull pullin' his box to-night out in the
wilderness who thought that he could put one over on Abe Farris--and
Farris is still doin' business at the old stand."

As they talked they had been walking toward the street, and now
Doarty crossed over to the corner with the girl and pulled for the
wagon.

"What did it stand you to forget the guy's name? he asked, after
they had stood in silence for a time awaiting the wagon's tardy
arrival.

"They offered me a hundred," she replied.

"An', of course, you didn't take it," he ventured, grinning.

The girl made no response.

"The newspapers sure suffered an awful shock when they found the
old bloke was one of the biggest stockholders in two State Street
department stores," continued Mr. Doarty reminiscently.

"They say his family routed the advertising manager of every paper
in the city out of bed at one o'clock in the morning, and that three
morning papers had to pull out the story after they had gone to press
with it, and stick in a column obituary tellin' all about what he had
done for his city and his fellow man, with a cut of his mug in place
of the front page cartoon--gee! But it must be great to have a drag
like that."

"Yes," said the girl in a faint voice.

Faintly in the distance a gong clanged.

"Them guys is sure takin' their time," observed Mr. Doarty.

A little crowd had gathered about the couple at the police-box,
only mildly curious, for an arrest is no uncommon thing in that
section of town; and when they discovered that no one had been cut
up, or shot up, and that the prisoner was scandalously sober they
ceased even to be mildly curious. By the time the wagon arrived the
two were again alone.

At the station the girl signed a complaint against one Abe Farris,
and was then locked up to insure her appearance in court the
following morning.

Officer Doarty, warrant in hand, fairly burned the pavement back
to Farris's. It had been many a month since he had made an arrest
which gave him as sincere personal pleasure as this one. He routed
Farris out of bed and hustled him into his clothes. This, he
surmised, might be the sole satisfaction that he would derive, since
the municipal court judge before whom the preliminary hearing would
come later in the morning might, in all likelihood, discharge the
defendant.

If the girl held out and proved a good witness there was a slight
chance that Farris would be held to the Grand Jury, in which event he
would derive a certain amount of unpleasant notoriety at a time when
public opinion was aroused by the vice question, and the mayor in a
most receptive mood for making political capital by revocation of a
few saloon licenses.

All this would prove balm to Mr. Doarty's injured
sensibilities.

Farris grumbled and threatened, but off to the station he went
without even an opportunity to telephone for a bondsman. That he
procured one an hour later was no fault of Mr. Doarty, who employed
his most persuasive English in an endeavor to convince the sergeant
that Mr. Farris should be locked up forthwith, and given no access to
a telephone until daylight. But the sergeant had no particular grudge
against Mr. Farris, while, on the other hand, he was possessed of a
large family to whom his monthly pay check was an item of
considerable importance. So to Mr. Farris, he was affable courtesy
personified.

Thus it was that the defendant went free, while the injured one
remained behind prison bars.

Farris's first act was to obtain permission to see the girl who
had sworn to the complaint against him. As he approached her cell he
assumed a jocular suavity that he was far from feeling.

"What you doin' here, Maggie?" he asked, by way of an opening.

"Ask Doarty."

"Didn't you know that you'd get the worst of it if you went to
buckin' me?" queried Farris.

"I didn't want to do it," replied the girl; "though that's not
sayin' that some one hadn't ought to do it to you good an'
proper--you got it comin' to you, all right."

"It won't get you nothin', Maggie."

"Maybe it'll get me my clothes--that's all I want."

"Why didn't you say so in the first place, then, and not go
stirrin' up a lot of hell this way?" asked Farris in an injured tone.
"Ain't I always been on the square with you?"

"Sure! You been as straight as a corkscrew with me."

"Didn't I keep the bulls from guessin' that you was the only girl
in the place that had any real reason for wantin' to croak old--the
old guy?" continued Mr. Farris, ignoring the reverse English on the
girl's last statement.

A little shiver ran through the girl at mention of the tragedy
that was still fresh in her memory--her own life tragedy in which the
death of the old man in the hallway at Farris's had been but a minor
incident.

"What you goin' to tell the judge?" asked Farris after a moment's
pause.

"The truth--that you kept me there against my will by locking my
clothes up where I couldn't get 'em," she replied.

"I was only kiddin--you could 'a' had 'em any old time. Anyways,
there wasn't no call for your doin' this."

"You got a funny way of kiddin'; but even at that, I didn't have
any idea of peachin' on you--he made me," said the girl.

"Who? Doarty?"

The girl nodded. "Sure--who else? He's got it in for you."

Farris turned away much relieved, and an hour later a colored man
delivered a package at the station for Maggie Lynch. It contained the
girl's clothes, and an envelope in which were five germ-laden but
perfectly good, ten-dollar bills.

The matron smiled as she opened the envelope.

"Some fox," she said.

"Some fox, is right," replied the girl.



CHAPTER II. AND WIRES ARE PULLED.

THE Rev. Theodore Pursen sat at breakfast. With his right hand he
dallied with iced cantaloup. The season was young for cucumis melo;
but who would desire a lean shepherd for a fat flock? Certainly not
the Rev. Theodore Pursen. A slender, well-manicured left hand
supported an early edition of the "Monarch of the Mornings," a sheet
which quite made up in volume of sound and in color for any lack of
similarity in other respects to the lion of poetry and romance.

On the table in his study were the two morning papers which the
Rev. Pursen read and quoted in public--the Monarch was for the
privacy of his breakfast table.

Across from the divine sat his young assistant, who shared the far
more than comfortable bachelor apartments of his superior.

The Rev. Pursen laid down the paper with a sigh.

"Ah me," he said.

His assistant looked up in polite interrogation.

"This is, indeed, an ungrateful world," continued Mr. Pursen,
scooping a delicious mouthful from the melon's heart.

"Here is an interview with an assistant State attorney in which he
mentions impractical reformers seeking free advertising and cheap
notoriety. In view of the talk I had with him yesterday I cannot but
believe that he refers directly to me.

"It is a sad commentary upon the moral perspective of the type of
rising young men of to-day, which this person so truly represents,
that ulterior motives should be ascribed to every noble and unselfish
act. To what, indeed, are we coming?"

"Yes," agreed the assistant, "whither are we drifting?"

"But was it not ever thus? Have not we of the cloth been ever
martyrs to the cause of truth and righteousness?"

"Too true," sighed the assistant, "we have, indeed."

"Yet, on the other hand," continued Mr. Pursen, "there is an
occasional note of encouragement that makes the fighting of the
battle worth while."

"For example?" suggested the assistant.

Mr. Pursen turned again to the "Monarch of the Mornings."

"Here is a quarter of a column devoted to an interview with me on
the result of my investigation of conditions in supposedly
respectable residence districts. The article has been given much
greater prominence than that accorded to the misleading statements of
the assistant State attorney. I am sure that thousands of people in
this great city are even this minute reading this noticeable
heading--let us hope that it will bear fruit, however much one may
decry the unpleasant notoriety entailed."

Mr. Pursen held up the newspaper toward his assistant, who read,
in type half an inch high:

PURSEN PILLORIES POLICE.

"The ointment surrounding the fly, as it were," suggested the
assistant.

Mr. Pursen looked quickly at the young man, but discovering no
sign of levity in his expression, handed the paper across the table
to him and resumed his attack upon the cantaloup. A moment later the
telephone-bell sounded from the extension at Mr. Pursen's elbow.

"Yes?" inquired Mr. Pursen.

"Hello. Dr. Pursen?"

"Yes."

"This is Doarty."

"Oh, yes; good morning, officer," greeted Mr. Pursen.

Mr. Doarty came right to the point. He knew when to beat about the
bush and when not to.

"You been tryin' to close up Farris's place for six months; but
you ain't never been able to get the goods on him. I got 'em for you,
now."

"Good," exclaimed Mr. Pursen. "Tell me about it."

Mr. Doarty unburdened himself.

"The girl will be in court this morning to appear against Farris,"
he concluded. "You'd better get to her quick, before they do, and
stick until she's called. She'll need bolstering."

"I'll come down right away," replied Mr Pursen. "Good-by, and
thank you."

"And say," said Doarty, "you can give it out that you tipped me
off to the whole thing--I'd just as soon not appear in it any more
than I can help."

"Just so," replied Mr. Pursen, and hung up the receiver.

As he turned back his assistant eyed him questioningly.

"My friend Mr. Doarty has started something which be is
experiencing difficulty in terminating," guessed Mr. Pursen
shrewdly.

At a quarter before ten the clergyman entered the court-room. He
had no difficulty in locating the girl he sought, though the room was
well filled with witnesses, friends, and relatives of the various
prisoners who were to have their preliminary hearings, and the idle
curious.

"I am the Rev. Mr. Pursen," he said with smiling lips as he took
her hand.

The girl looked him squarely in the eyes.

"I come as a friend," continued Mr. Pursen. "I wish to help you.
Tell me your story and we will see what can be done."

There were three young men with the clergyman. They had met him,
by appointment, at the entrance to the courtroom. The girl eyed
them.

"Reporters?" she asked.

"Representatives of the three largest papers," replied Mr. Pursen.
"You will be quite famous by to-morrow morning," he added
playfully.

When Mr. Pursen had introduced himself a great hope had sprung
momentarily into the girl's heart--a longing that three months at
Farris's had all but stifled. Vain regrets seldom annoyed her now.
She had attained a degree of stoicism that three months earlier would
have seemed impossible; but with contact with one from that other
world which circumstances had forbidden her ever again to hope to
enter--with the voicing of a kind word--with the play of a smile that
was neither carnal nor condescending came a sudden welling of the
desire she had thought quite dead--the desire to put behind her
forever the life that she had been living.

For an instant a little girl had looked into the eyes of the Rev.
Mr. Pursen, prepared to do and be whatever Mr. Pursen, out of the
fulness of brotherly love, should counsel and guide her to do and be;
but Mr. Pursen saw only a woman of the town, and to such were his
words addressed with an argument which he imagined would appeal
strongly to her kind. And it was a woman of the town who answered him
with a hard laugh.

"Nothing doing," she said.

Mr. Pursen was surprised. He was pained. He had come to her as a
friend in need. He had offered to help her, and she would not even
confide in him.

"I had hoped that you might wish to lead a better life," he said,
"and I came prepared to offer you every assistance in securing a
position where you might earn a respectable living. I can find a home
for you until such a position is forthcoming. Can you not see the
horrors of the life you have chosen? Can you not realize the awful
depths of degradation to which you have come, and the still blacker
abyss that yawns before you if you continue along the downward path?
Your beauty will fade quickly--its lifeblood sapped by the gnawing
canker of vice and shame, and then what will the world hold for you?
Naught but a few horrible years of premature and hideous old
age."

"And the way to start a new and better life," replied the girl in
a level voice, "is to advertise my shame upon the front pages of
three great daily newspapers--that's your idea, eh?"

Mr. Pursen flushed, very faintly.

"You misunderstand me entirely," he said. "I abhor as much as any
human being can the necessity which compels so much publicity in
these matters; but it is for the greatest good of the greatest
numbers that I labor--that all of us should labor. If the public does
not know of the terrible conditions which prevail under their very
noses, how can we expect it to rouse itself and take action against
these conditions?

"No great reform is ever accomplished except upon the clamorous
demand of the people. The police--in fact all city officials--know of
these conditions; but they will do nothing until they are forced to
do it. Only the people who elect them and whose money pays them can
force them. We must keep the horrors of the underworld constantly
before the voters and tax-payers until they rise and demand that the
festering sore in the very heart of their magnificent city be cured
forever.

"What are my personal feelings, or yours, compared with the great
good to the whole community that will result from the successful
fruition of the hopes of those of us who are fighting this great
battle against the devil and his minions? You should rather joyfully
embrace this opportunity to cast off the bonds of hell, and by
enlisting with the legion of righteousness atone for all your sinful
past by a self-sacrificing act in the interest of your fellow
man."

The girl laughed, a rather unpleasant, mirthless laugh.

"My 'fellow man'!" She mimicked the preacher's oratorical style.
"It was my fellow man who made me what I am; it was my fellow man who
has kept me so! it is my fellow man who wished me to blazon my
degradation to the world as a price for aid."

As she spoke, the vernacular of the underworld with its coarse
slang and vile English slipped from her speech like a shabby disguise
that has been discarded, and she spoke again as she had spoken in her
other life, before constant association with beasts and criminals had
left their mark upon her speech as upon her mind and morals; but as
the first flush of indignation passed she slipped again into the now
accustomed rut.

"To hell with you and your fellow men," she said. "Now beat
it."

Mr. Pursen's dignity bad suffered a most severe shock. He glanced
at the three young men. They were grinning openly. He realized the
humiliating stories they would write for their respective papers. Not
at all the kind of stories he had been picturing to himself, in which
the Rev. Mr. Pursen would shine as a noble Christian reformer
laboring for the salvation of the sinner and the uplift of the
community. They would make horrid jokes of the occurrence, and people
would laugh at the Rev. Mr. Pursen.

A stinging rebuke was upon his lips. He would make this woman
realize the great gulf that lay between the Rev. Mr. Pursen and such
as she. He would let her see the loathing with which a good man
viewed her and her kind; but as he opened his mouth to speak, his
better judgment came to his rescue. The woman would doubtless make a
scene--her sort had a decided penchant for such things--she might
even resort to physical violence.

In either event the resultant newspaper stories would be decidedly
worse than the most glaring exaggerations which the three young men
might concoct from the present unfortunate occurrence.

So the Rev. Mr. Pursen stifled his true emotions, and with a
sorrowful shake of his head turned sadly from his thankless task;
and, indeed, why should a shepherd waste his valuable time upon a
worthless sheep that preferred to stay astray? It was evident that he
had lost sight entirely of the greater good that would follow the
conviction of Farris, for he had not even mentioned the case to the
girl or attempted to encourage her to make the most of this
opportunity to bring the man to justice.

Farris's case was called shortly after the clergyman left the
court-room. The man had an array of witnesses present to swear that
the girl had remained in his house of her own volition--that she
could have left when she pleased; but the girl's story, coupled with
the very evident fact that she was wholly indifferent as to the
outcome of the case, resulted in the holding of Farris to the grand
jury.

It was what the resort-keeper had anticipated, and as he was again
released on bail he lost no time in seeking out the head of a certain
great real-estate firm and laying before him a brief outline of the
terrible wrong that was being contemplated against Mr. Farris, and,
incidentally, against present real-estate rental values in the
district where Mr. Farris held forth.

"You see," said Mr. Farris, "there ain't nothin' to this thing,
anyway. It's just a case of the girl bein' sore on me because I had
fired her, so she cooks up this story and gets me pinched. It's a
shame, and me giving her a good home and a swell job when she didn't
know nobody in the burg.

"It's too bad," and Mr. Farris heaved an oily sigh. "It's too damn
bad when you think of what it'll mean to the property owners down
there. Why, if the grand jury votes a true bill against me it'll
start them fake reformers buzzin' around thick as flies in the whole
district, and there won't be nothin' to it but a bunch of saloon
licenses taken away by the mayor, and a string of houses closed up;
and then where'll you be?

"Why, the best you can do for years 'll be to rent them places to
furriners at six and eight dollars a month, and just look at the
swell rents you're gettin' for 'em now. Yes, sir! Somethin's got to
be done in the interests of property values down there, for after we
go you couldn't get decent people to live in the neighborhood if you
paid 'em, to say nothin' of gettin' rent from 'em--why, they can't
even use 'em for business purposes! Customers wouldn't dare come into
the neighborhood for fear some one would see them, and straight girls
wouldn't work in no such locality.

"If I was you I'd get busy. See your principals this mornin', and
get 'em to put it up straight to the State attorney that it ain't in
the interests of public morality to push this reform game no further.
Why, look what it'll do--close up the red-light district, an' you'll
have them girls scattered all through the residence districts,
wherever they can rent a little flat; maybe right next door to you
an' your family. And then look at what that'll do to property
everywhere. It won't be only the old levee values that 'll slump, but
here and there through the residence districts North, South, and West
them girls 'll get in and put whole blocks on the blink.

"Well, I guess you know as much about it as I do, anyway; so I'll
blow along. I got to see my alderman, and if I had the front that you
and your principals can put up I'd see "--and here Mr. Farris leaned
forward and whispered a name into the real-estate agent's ear. "He
can put the kibosh on this whole reform game if he wants to; and take
it from me, there ain't nobody that can't be made to want to do
anything on earth if you can find the way to get 'em where they
live," and Mr. Farris slapped his right-hand trouser-pocket until the
coins therein rang merrily.

The real-estate agent pursed his lips and shook his head.

"You cannot reach that man in any such way as that," he said.

Mr. Farris, rising, laughed. "Oh splash," he said, and started for
the door. "Well, do what you can at your end, and I'll work from the
bottom up: and say, don't forget that if you sugar-coat it, the best
of 'em will grab for it."

Then he went and had a talk with his alderman, who, in turn, saw
some one else, who saw some one else, who saw another party; and the
real-estate agent saw several of his principals, and at luncheon he
talked with many of his colleagues, who hastened forthwith to confer
with the big men whose property they handled.

In a day or two there began to filter into the State attorney's
office by mail, by phone, and by personal call a continuous stream of
requests that he move with extreme caution in the fight against vice
which the reformers were urging him to initiate.

The arguments all were similar. They harped upon the danger of
scattering the vicious element throughout the city--they were pleas
for the safety of the wives and daughters of the petitioners.

"Abolish the red light district," said one, "and the criminals and
degenerates of the underworld will hunt our wives and daughters as
the wolves of the North woods hunt their prey--there will be no
safety for them upon the streets nor within their own homes. Banish
the women of the levee, and a state of anarchy and rapine will
follow. For the sake of the good women of the city I pray that you
will stand firm against the fallacious arguments of paid reformers
and notoriety seekers."

No one mentioned property values--the pill had been properly
coated. The State attorney smiled. Mentally he had been roughly
estimating the political influence of each petitioner. When an
editorial appeared in one of the leading dailies under the caption,
"Go Slow, Mr. State Attorney," in which all these arguments were
rehashed and the suggestion made that another commission be appointed
to investigate and recommend a solution of the vice problem, he
laughed aloud, for did he not know that the uncles and aunts and
sisters-in-law of that great paper owned nearly a third of the real
estate in the segregated district?

But the State attorney knew that no man knew what would be the
result of the adoption of the drastic suggestions of the reformers,
so it was an easy matter for him to justify himself to himself when
he waged his bitter war of words against vice, and gave private
instructions to his assistants in the safety and seclusion of his own
office--instructions that did not always exactly harmonize with the
noble sentiments enunciated in the typewritten "statements" passed
out impartially to the representatives of the press for
publication.

The State attorney was far from being a corrupt man; but the vice
problem had been the plaything of reformers and politicians for
years; it was as old as the sexes; it never had been solved, and the
chances were that it never would be. If he had spoken his mind he
would probably have admitted that he was afraid of it, entirely from
sociological reasons, and apart from its political aspect.

But the State attorney was in no position to speak his true mind
on many subjects--he hoped, some day, to run for Governor.

And so it was that he called an assistant to his office and poured
words of wisdom into his attentive ear.

"And what sort of a bunch have you got this month?" he
concluded.

"Oh, just about as usual. A couple of bank presidents, some
retired capitalists, several department managers, and one farmer.
They're new now, but by the time that case reaches us they'll be
tired of the grind and ready to jump through whenever I tell 'em
to."

Thus spake the young assistant State attorney of the ancient and
honorable grand jury.



CHAPTER III. THE GRAND JURY.

TWO weeks had elapsed since Mr. Farris had been held for the grand
jury. He had been at liberty on bail. The girl, against whom there
had been no charge, had been held, virtually a prisoner, in a home
for erring women that she might be available as a witness when
needed.

The grand jury was returning after lunch for the afternoon
session. Something they had done the previous day had aroused the
assistant State attorney's ire, so that he had felt justified in
punishing their foolish temerity with two calls that day instead of
one.

A little group had gathered in the front of the jury-room. They
were discussing the cases passed, and speculating upon those to come.
One and all were wearied with the monotony of the duty the State had
imposed upon them.

"And the worst of it is," said one of the younger members of the
panel, "it's all so utterly futile. When I was summoned as a grand
juror I had a kind of feeling that the State had placed a great
responsibility upon my shoulders, that she had honored me above other
men, and placed me in a position where I might help to accomplish
something really worth while for my fellow man."

One of the bank presidents laughed.

"And the reality you find to be quite different, eh?"

"Quite. I hear only one side of a great string of sordid,
revolting stories, and I hear nothing more than the assistant State
attorney wishes me to hear. There are momentous questions stirring
the people of the city, but when we suggest that we should
investigate the conditions underlying them we are told that we are
not an investigating body--that those questions are none of our
business unless they are brought to our attention through the regular
channel of the State attorney's office. We are told that the judge
who charged us to investigate these very conditions had never charged
a grand jury before, and while doubtless he meant well he didn't know
what he was talking about."

"I understand," said another juror, "that we will get our chance
at the vice problem to-day 'through the regular channel'--the Abe
Farris case is on the docket for this afternoon."

"And what will we do?" asked the young man. "We'll listen to
answers to such questions as the assistant State attorney sees fit to
ask, and if we start asking embarrassing questions he'll have the
sergeant-at-arms hustle the witness out of the jury-room. Then we'll
hem and haw, and end up by doing whatever the assistant State
attorney wants us to do. We've done it on every important case--you
watch."

"You are quite right, sir," spoke up a retired capitalist. "In
theory the grand jury system is the bulwark of our liberty--it was,
in fact, when it was instituted in the twelfth or thirteenth century,
at a time when there were several hundred crimes punishable by death;
but now that there are only two, murder and treason; it is a useless
and wasteful relic of a dead past.

"The court that is competent to hold men to the grand jury is much
more competent to indict them than is the grand jury itself. In fact,
in cases where the punishment is less than death the court that now
entertains the preliminary hearing might, to much better advantage to
both the accused and public, pass sentence at once. It hears both
sides, but all that it can do is discharge the prisoner or hold him
for the grand jury. After this there is the expense of holding the
prisoner in jail until his case comes to us, and then all the
expensive paraphernalia of a grand jury is required to thresh over
only one side of what has already been thoroughly heard before a
trained and competent jurist. If we vote a true bill a third
expensive trial is necessitated."

"Personally," said Ogden Secor, the foreman of the jury, "the
whole thing strikes me as a farce. The grand jury, while not quite
the tool of the State attorney's office, is considered by them a more
or less harmless impediment to the transaction of the business of
their office--a burden to be borne, but lightened in the most
expeditious manner.

"I, as foreman, am a dummy; the secretary is a dummy; the
sergeant-at-arms is a dummy. We look to the assistant State attorney
for direction in our every move. We come from businesses in which we
have never, in all probability, come in contact with criminal law,
and we are expected to grasp the machinery of our new duties on a
moment's notice.

"Were it purely a matter of justice to be dispensed, I have no
doubt but that we might do quite as well as any court; but we are up
against a very different thing from justice--at every hand we are
trammeled by law."

The assistant State attorney entered the room.

"Sorry to have been late, gentlemen," he said. "Call the next
case, Mr. Sergeant-at-arms," and the routine of the jury-room
commenced half an hour after the appointed time, although a quorum of
the grand jury had been present for thirty-five minutes.

The last case of the afternoon call was that against Abe Farris.
There were only two witnesses--Officer Doarty and the girl, Maggie
Lynch. Doarty had suffered a remarkable change of heart since the
evening he stood in the alley back of Farris's. He was chastened in
spirit. His recollection of the affair was vague. After the assistant
State attorney had ceased questioning him several of the jurors asked
additional information.

"What sort of person is the complaining witness, officer?" asked
the banker.

Mr. Doarty looked about and grinned sheepishly. He would not have
been at a loss for a word to describe her had a fellow policeman
asked him this question, but this august body of dignified business
men seemed to call for a special brand of denatured diction in the
description of a spade.

"Oh," he said finally, "she's just like the rest of 'em down
there--she's on the town."

"Would you believe her story?" asked the banker.

Doarty grinned and shrugged. "Hard to say," he replied.

"In your opinion, officer," asked the assistant State attorney,
"have you any case against Farris? Could we get a conviction?"

"No, I don't think you could," answered the policeman. It was the
question he had been awaiting.

"That's all, officer," said the assistant State attorney. "Just a
moment, Mr. Sergeant-at-arms, before you call another witness."

"A moment, please, officer; I want to ask another question before
you go," spoke up one of the jurymen.

The assistant State attorney sighed and looked bored. He had found
this the most effective means of silencing jurymen.

"As I understand it, you worked this case up, am I right?" asked
the juryman.

"Yes, sir."

"If you had enough evidence three weeks ago to warrant the arrest
of Farris, why haven't you got enough now to insure conviction?"

Doarty looked uncomfortable. He fingered his cap, and turned an
appealing look toward the assistant State attorney. That functionary
came to his rescue.

"You see, Mr.--a--Smith, pardon me for interrupting," he said,
"the girl swore out a warrant, and it was necessary to make the
arrest. That's all, officer, you may go now."

"But," insisted Mr. Smith, "it was quite apparent from the
newspaper account at the time that the girl was an unwilling
complainant--that the police officer worked up the case."

In the mean time, Doarty, only too anxious to do so, had left the
grand jury-room. The sergeant-at-arms stood with his hand upon the
knob of the door looking questioningly at the assistant State
attorney.

"You do not care to question any other witnesses, do you?" asked
that young gentleman of the jury.

"What other witnesses are there?" asked Mr. Smith.

"Only the girl," replied the assistant State attorney; "but you
can see from the officer's testimony that it is scarcely worth our
while to hear from the girl. You might as well take a vote, Mr.
Foreman," he concluded, turning toward Ogden Secor.

"All those in favor of a true bill raise their right hands,"
commanded Mr. Secor.

"Just a moment, Mr. Foreman," interrupted Mr. Smith.

The assistant State attorney scowled and sighed, then settled back
in his chair in martyrlike resignation. Mr. Smith was a thorn in the
flesh.

"It seems to me, Mr. Foreman," said Mr. Smith, "that until we have
heard all the witnesses we are in no position to vote intelligently.
I, for one, am in favor of calling in the girl."

"Yes," "Yes," came from several of the jurors.

The sergeant-at-arms looked toward the assistant State attorney
for authority.

"Call the next witness," said Ogden Secor.

The sergeant-at-arms was surprised to receive a command from the
foreman of the jury, but the assistant State attorney made no demur,
so he opened the door.

"Next witness!" he called, and the grand jury clerk, whose office
is just outside the grand jury-room, beckoned to a girl who sat in a
chair in the far corner shielding her face with her arm from the
glaring eyes of two press cameras. As she rose two flashlights
exploded simultaneously. Then she hurried across the room and passed
through the doorway into the presence of the grand jury.

Ogden Secor had had not the faintest curiosity regarding her. From
earliest boyhood he had learned to shudder at the very thought of the
hideous, painted creatures who plied their sickening vocation in a
part of the town to which neither business, accident, nor
inclination, had ever led him. For a city-bred man whose boyhood had
been surrounded with every luxury and whose spending allowance had
been practically unlimited, he was remarkably clean. His high ideals
were still unsullied, and though a man's man mentally and physically,
morally he was almost a prude.

It was with difficulty that he raised his eyes to the girl's face
as he administered the oath, and it was with a distinct shock of
surprised incredulity that he saw that she was neither painted nor
hideous. Her brown eyes fell the moment that they met his--there was
no slightest sign of boldness in them, and when she turned to face
the jury as the assistant State attorney began questioning her her
attitude was merely of quiet self-possession.

The young foreman could not reconcile the refinement of her
appearance and the well-modulated voice with his preconceived ideas
concerning her kind. He had been prepared for a sort of coarse,
animal beauty, perhaps, and he had fully expected gaudy apparel and
quantities of cheap jewelry; but instead he saw a demure, quietly
dressed girl who might have stepped fresh from a convent. It was
appalling to think that she had been an inmate of Farris's.

As she answered the often brutal questions of the assistant State
attorney Ogden Secor watched her profile. He saw that the girl was
actually suffering under the ordeal; and he had thought that she
would welcome the notoriety and brazenly flaunt her shame in the
faces of the jurymen!

And he saw, too, as he studied her face, that she was not merely
ordinarily good-looking--hers was a face that would have been
commented upon anywhere as exceptionally beautiful. He could not
believe that the girl before him had voluntarily chosen the career
she had been following.

The assistant State attorney had finished questioning her. He had
brought out only the simple story she had told Doarty the night he
had discovered her upon the fire-escape. It had not been a part of
his plan to bring out much of anything bearing on the case. When he
had finished Mr. Smith arose.

"How did you happen to be at Farris's place at all?" he asked.
"Did you go there of your own volition?"

"Yes," replied the girl.

"You knew the life that you would have to lead there?"

"No; I did not know what kind of place it was."

"Tell us how you came there then," said Mr. Smith.

"I would rather not," she replied. "It has no bearing upon this
case."

"Would you go back there if Farris would take you?" asked another
jury-man.

"He will not take me."

"What do you intend doing?"

"I shall have to go to some other city where I am not known."

"And there you will continue the--ah--the same vocation?"

"What else is there for me?" she asked.

"There are many good men who would help you," said Mr. Smith. She
shrugged, and for the first time Secor caught a note of hardness in
her voice as she replied.

"There are no good men," she said.

There was a finality to her statement that put an end to further
questioning.



CHAPTER IV. DECENCY.

"THAT is all," said the assistant State attorney with a wave
toward the door. The girl stepped down from the witness-stand. As she
passed him a sudden impulse prompted Ogden Secor to stop her. He
could not have explained why he did so, but before he realized it he
had asked the girl to wait in the witness-room without until he
came.

A great and sudden pity for her had welled within him at her last
words: "There are no good men." To have spoken to such a woman as
she would have seemed an utter impossibility to Ogden Secor a brief
half-hour before, and now he had asked her to wait for him, and in
his mind was a determination to help her--to save her from the
hideous life she had chosen.

Immediately after he had spoken the words he regretted them. It
was as though he had bound himself to personal contact with a leper.
He paled a little at the thought of the ordeal which faced him; but
he would go through with it, as to that he was determined, and if he
could help the girl to a better life he would do so. Had he guessed
the interpretation the girl put upon his request to speak with her
outside the jury-room he would have flushed rather than paled. To her
all men were hunters--all women quarry.

The jurors were discussing the wisdom of voting a true bill. All
seemed to harbor not the slightest doubt that the girl had been held
against her will in Farris's place. Had the vote been taken without
discussion a true bill would have been the unanimous result; but with
the discussion came the inevitable recourse to the superior legal
judgment of the assistant State attorney.

"It is up to you, gentlemen," he said, when one of the jurymen
asked his opinion. "I do not wish to influence you in any way. I am
merely here to help you; but inasmuch as you ask, I might say, for
your information, that this case is identical with many others we
have handled during this session of the grand jury. The police advise
us that there is insufficient evidence to convict.

"If we vote a true bill the taxpayers will be compelled to pay for
an expensive trial, at the end of which the defendant will be
discharged, and that will be the end of it; while should we vote a
no-bill the case may again be brought before the grand jury should
the police at any time in the future unearth further evidence.

"Remember, gentlemen, if you vote a true bill now, this case can
never again come before the grand jury, and in my humble opinion you
will be virtually playing into Farris's hands and insuring him
immunity. It is up to you."

The foreman took the vote. A majority favored no bill, and that
was the end of that particular case of the People vs. Abe Farris.
Property interests throughout the city had been protected and
real-estate values remained unchanged.

It was the last case on call for that day, and as the jurors
hurried out to attend to their neglected businesses Ogden Secor found
himself tarrying at his desk in the hope that there might be none
present to witness his interview with the girl from Farris's. There
was also a growing hope that the girl herself would tire of waiting
and depart before he left the jury-room.

The others had gone before he emerged, and it was with a feeling
of relief that he realized that this was true, for as he passed
through the doorway he saw the trim figure of a young girl sitting in
the far corner of the outer room. Her eyes were on the doorway
leading to the grand jury room, and as Secor came out she rose and
stood waiting him.

He came directly toward her, and as his eyes rested upon her face
he ceased to regret that he had asked her to wait. Surely there could
be no intentional evil in the owner of such a face. He was confident
that it would be an easy matter to guide her into a decent life. As
he reached her he found that it was to be rather an embarrassing
conversation to open. For a moment he hesitated. It was the girl who
first spoke.

"What do you wish of me?" she asked, although she was quite sure
that she knew precisely what he wished. While she had waited for him
she had quite fully determined her course of action. She was
convinced that the "swell job at the Beverly Club" would not be for
her, even though the grand jury failed to indict Farris.

A thousand times during the past bitter months she had thrashed
out the problem of her life; a thousand times she had determined to
seek other employment when she could leave Farris's; and a thousand
times she had realized that her life was already ruined past
redemption, and that never again could she live among decent people
with the constant fear hanging over her that the horrible secret of
her past might at any moment be discovered. Better, far better, she
thought, to continue in that life until death released her.

But here, she felt, was to be an easier way for a few years at
least. Sooner or later this man would tire of her, but in the mean
time she would have a good living--it would be much better than
either Farris's or the Beverly Club. Possibly she could save enough
money to insure the balance of her life against want. She had heard
of women like herself who had done this very thing. And so she waited
now for the proposal which she was confident Mr. Ogden Secor was
about to make.

She knew nothing about this young man--not even his name--nor did
she care more about him than to know that he had ample funds with
which to defray the cost of an expensive plaything.

"Miss Lynch," said Ogden Secor, "I find the things I wanted to say
to you most difficult to say. I scarcely know how to commence. I
should hate to offend you."

"No chance," she replied. "You know what I am. There is your
answer. Go ahead--get the proposition out of your system."

Though her words were light, she was a trifle nonplused at his
method of approach. There was a distinct note of deference in his
voice that she had long been unused to from men. Could it be possible
that she was mistaken in his intentions? But what else under the sun
could he want of her?

"You See," continued Mr. Secor, "I couldn't help but know
something of your life from your testimony in there; yet, even though
I heard it from your own lips, I find it difficult to believe that it
is true--it doesn't seem possible that you could prefer such a life;
and I wanted to ask if I might not be of service to you in some way
to help you to live differently."

The girl noted the clean, strong face of the young man before her,
the clear eyes, and healthy skin. There was no indication of
dissipation or evil habits. She had not spoken to such a man since
she came to the city--she had not believed that any clean men lived
in the city that she so loathed. She was still inclined, however, to
be a trifle skeptical; yet she gave him the benefit of the doubt in
her reply.

"I am afraid that it is too late," she said.

"It is never too late," he replied.

"You would not say that if you knew what my early training had
been. I was taught to believe that God expected but two things of a
woman--to be virtuous, and to become a wife and mother. If she were
not virtuous, the second thing became a crime in her--for a woman
such as I to marry and bear children were a crime a thousand times
more hideous than loss of virtue.

"There was no place on earth for such as I, and no hell of
sufficient horror in the hereafter. As far as this life or the next
is concerned, I am absolutely and irrevocably lost. I appreciate your
kind intentions, but I fear there is nothing to be done."

The girl's words brought Secor up with a sudden and most
unpleasant jolt, for he realized that the thing she had said voiced
precisely his own views in the matter, or rather what had been his
lifelong views up to a few moments before. For the first time in his
life he felt that there was something rather unfair, inhuman, and
cruel in the sentence that the world passed on its unfortunate
sisters.

"I know precisely how you feel," he said at length, making no
attempt to lighten the gravity of her sin, "for I, too, have been
taught to believe that same thing: but now that I come to deal with a
specific case I find that the old theory was of value only in the
abstract--it isn't human, and it isn't good sense. There is no reason
why you shouldn't lead a decent life if you wish to.

"In fact, that you haven't recently done so is all the more reason
that you should commence now. It can't make things any better if you
go on as you have been, but as far as you yourself are concerned and
those you come in contact with it will be very much better indeed if
you live as you should live during the balance of your life."

"Why do you want to help me?" asked the girl suddenly. She had
discovered that she had quite unexpectedly lost sight of the motives
which she believed had prompted the young man to seek this interview.
There had been nothing either in his words or manner to support her
suspicions; yet, with her knowledge of men, it was difficult for her
to dismiss them.

Secor hesitated a moment before replying, a half smile upon his
lips,

"That is a difficult question," he said. "I never did anything of
the sort before, and I don't know why I have attempted it now. If I
tried to explain the psychology of it I should appear ridiculous, I
fear."

"I should like to know," said the girl, "if for no other reason
than to learn that I had made a good guess as to what you wanted."
She had determined to prove her point for her own satisfaction.

"And what did you think was my reason?" asked Secor.

She looked him straight in the eyes, and without a smile said
quite simply:

"To make a date with me."

To say that young Mr. Secor was shocked would have been to put it
too mildly by far; but his expression gave no hint of the
disappointment and disgust that surged through him.

"And if that were my reason," he asked, "would you have accepted
my--ah--invitation?"

"Why not?" And she was about to add, "Isn't your money as good as
anybody's?" But she found herself faltering in her suspicion of this
young man, and a sudden sense of shame sent the red blood mantling to
her cheek.

For a moment he stood looking straight into her eyes until hers
dropped suddenly in confusion.

"I am sorry," he said, "that you should have misconstrued my
intentions." His voice held a faint note of sadness and not a little
of disappointment. "But as you have, I shall try to give you my real
reasons at the risk of appearing silly."

"I wish you would," she said. "I didn't want to think the other,
but af ter my experience with men, it was hard to believe that one of
them could go out of his way to perform an unselfish act where a
woman was concerned--a woman such as I," she added in a very faint
whisper.

"I wanted to help you," said Secor, "from the moment that I saw your
face and heard your voice in the jury-room. I couldn't believe that a
girl like you belonged in the underworld. It was not because of the
fact that you are a very beautiful girl, but that your face and
expression reflect a sweetness of character that seemed entirely out
of place in the life you have been leading. There must have been a
sudden, subconscious appeal to the protective instinct that is
supposed to have been very strong in primitive man--in no other way
can I account for the immediate desire I had to save you. Those are
my reasons, if you can call them reasons, for asking you to wait here
for me. You will doubtless find them as ridiculous as they now seem
to me."

The girl's lips trembled as she attempted to speak, and tears came
to her eyes so that she had to turn away to hide her emotion. It had
been long indeed since a man had spoken to her and of her in this
way. Her whole heart went out to this stranger because of those few
kindly words--such words as her poor soul had been starving for the
want of during the long, hard months of her living death.

"What do you wish me to do?" she asked after she had regained
control of her voice.

"Let me help you find employment--that is all that you may accept
from any man. It is all that any decent man should offer you," he
replied.

"I will do whatever you wish," she said simply.

"I am going away to-morrow," he went on, "to be gone for several
weeks. In the mean time I'll give you the name and address of a man
who can and will help you to at least temporary employment. Keep in
touch with him and when I return we'll see what is best to be done,
and what sort of work you are best qualified for."

As he spoke he bad written a name and address upon a leaf of his
memorandum-book. He tore the sheet out and handed it to her. Without
looking at it she slipped it into her hand-bag.

"And now good-by and good luck," he said, extending his hand to
her.

"You must not shake hands with a--with me," she said.

"Don't say that," he replied. "Forget what you have been--you are
that no longer. I am wanting to shake hands with an entirely new
girl, and to prove that you intend to be a new girl you must let
me."

He smiled the clean, wholesome smile that made his strong young
face doubly attractive. There was no refusing Ogden Secor anything
that he asked when he smiled, and so the girl placed her hand in
his.

"This is the ratification of your pledge," he said. "I shall never
doubt for a moment that you are keeping it. Until I return, then,"
and bowing he left her there, a new hope and a great happiness in her
heart.

If one good man could forgive her her past, there must be others.
Possibly the world would not be so hard upon her after all. Maybe
there was a chance for her to live as she wanted to live, and to find
the happiness that she had so craved, and which she had thought was
lost forever.

Suddenly she recalled that she did not know the name of the man
who had just left her. Well, that could easily be ascertained. She
had the name and address of his friend. She would go to him at once
and take any employment that he could find for her. She would work
for a bare living, if necessary, rather than go back to the old life.
She would do anything for the man who had spoken to her as this young
stranger had spoken.

Eagerly she opened her hand-bag and withdrew the little slip of
paper. As she read the name a cold wave of disappointment and
bitterness chilled and blighted the new happiness and hope that had
filled her being.

The name on the paper was "Rev. Theodore Pursen."



CHAPTER V. A FRIEND IN NEED.

IT was a very disheartened girl who found her way out of the
criminal court building and across the Dearborn Street Bridge to the
Loop. She was wondering if her new friend were of the same type of
reformer as the Rev. Mr. Pursen. Would he want her to narrate the
story of her rescue for the Sunday editions upon his return?

Then it occurred to her that she would not see him when he came
back to the city, for she had no idea who he might be, and she
certainly would not go to the Rev. Mr. Pursen to find out. It began
to look as though she had made a false start after all on her road to
a new life.

At Lake and Dearborn she stopped to purchase an evening paper, and
in the entrance to a near-by building she sought among the want ads
for a likely boarding-house. She found an address far out on the
South Side, and a moment later boarded a Cottage Grove Avenue car at
Wabash Avenue.

As she rode South she tried to reach some definite decision as to
her future. She could go back to the old life, and the young man
would never know. The chances are that he would not care if he did
know.

His act had been prompted by but the passing kindness of a moment.
If he ever thought of her again, it would be but to inquire of his
friend the Rev. Mr. Pursen if she had applied to him for aid, and
finding that she had not, he would promptly forget all about the
incident.

As she speculated upon her future, her eyes wandered aimlessly
over the printed page of close-set want ads in the paper in her
hand.

Presently a notice caught her attention:

WANTED--Neat girl for general office work; small wages to start;
experience unnecessary. Apply Kesner Building.

"Why not try it?" she thought. "He'll never know, of course, but
he was on the square. He wanted to help me, and I can't believe that
he is like Pursen. He wanted to give me a chance to be the kind of
girl he thought I looked like, and why shouldn't I be? I can do that
much, surely, when all my inclinations lie in that direction. I
haven't wanted to be bad, God knows; and I guess I've been a fool to
think that I had to keep on that way just because I had started."

At Twenty-Fourth Street a pimply-faced young man boarded the car.
As he walked forward toward the front platform, a lighted cigarette
in his nicotin-stained fingers, be turned to stare into the face of
every woman in the car. When he came opposite the girl from Farris's
he stopped with a broad grin upon his unclean face.

"Why, hello there, Mag!" he cried. "When did you get out?" And
with the words he plumped into the seat at her side.

"This afternoon, Eddie," she replied quietly.

"Where to now?" he asked.

"I'm on my way uptown to find a boarding-place."

"Got a new job already?" he asked, surprised.

"I'm cuttin' that out, Eddie," she said. "I'm goin' to be on the
square after this."

"Forget it," he grinned.

"On the dead."

"Who's keepin' you?" he persisted.

"Myself."

"May Beverley asked me to look you up," he remarked. "She says you
promised to come there."

"I didn't think she'd want me after that Farris business," replied
the girl.

The young man laughed.

"Huh! What does she care? She ain't got no love for Farris, and
besides a chicken with an angel face like yours can get in anywhere
in the burg. But on the dead, Mag, you're a boob not to get your
hooks onto some rich gazimbat. I know a gink right now that'll pass
me out five hundred bones any time for a squab like you. Say the word
and I'll split with you."

The girl looked at the man for a moment, and then turned and gazed
out of the window.

"That's right; think it over," said Eddie. "It's a good
proposition and that ain't no dream. He's not exactly pretty, but
he's there with a bundle of kale that would choke the Panama. He'd
set you up in a swell apartment, plaster sparklers all over you, and
give you a year-after-next model eight-lunger and a shuffer. You'd be
the only cheese on Mich. Boul."

The girl knew that Eddie was not romancing; and here she had been
thinking that she could not even get into the Beverley Club. Here was
easy money--riches even--just for the taking; and she would be no
worse for it than she already was.

She looked again at the man beside her, and as she looked she
found herself comparing him with the young man she had last talked
with. He, too, had come to her with an offer. She glanced at the want
ad lying face-up in the paper on her lap.

"Five dollars a week," she mused. "Six at the most."

"What's that?" asked Eddie. "I didn't getcha."

Eddie was smiling at her. She saw his smile, but beyond it she saw
the smile of that other young man. Eddie would have felt pained could
he have read the unvoiced comparison that shot into the girl's mind
as she looked at Eddie's yellow-toothed, unwholesome smirk.

"Well?" asked Eddie at last. "Shall I frame up a date?"

"No," said the girl, "I think I've got a swell job already.
Good-by, Eddie; here's where I get off."

She found the boarding-house, and after paying a week's board in
advance returned to the Loop, seeking the Kesner Building. On the
eighteenth floor she found the room number given in the want ad.

"There have been fifteen other applicants already," said the man
to whom she had been directed by a typist near the door of the
office; "but I haven't decided on any one in particular yet--there'll
be as many more in to-morrow morning. Have you had any experience?"

"No; the advertisement said that was unnecessary," she
replied.

"Yes, of course; but with so many applicants I would naturally
prefer to choose an experienced girl. What have you been doing?"

The girl hesitated.

"Nothing." she said finally; "I have just come from the
country."

"What is your name?"

"Lathrop--June Lathrop," she answered, giving him her true name;
for with her decision to commence life anew she had also decided to
do so under her true colors. There would be nothing in her future,
she had determined, that could bring odium upon her father's
name.

"Well Miss Lathrop," said he, "to be frank, you're the most likely
looking of the applicants so far. Most of them have had experience,
but that doesn't count much against natural intelligence, and unless
I'm way off you've got that. I'll tell you what, you come back here
tomorrow morning about nine-thirty, and if no one I like better has
shown up by that time the job's yours. Good afternoon."

For three months June Lathrop folded and enclosed circulars on the
eighteenth floor of the Kesner Building at the princely salary of six
dollars a week. As her board and room at the place she had first
selected cost her seven dollars a week, it required but a rudimentary
knowledge of higher mathematics to convince her that she would either
have to change positions or boarding-houses. She chose the latter
alternative.

The change brought her into a neighborhood perilously close to the
red-light district. Several times she saw women she had known in that
other life. They passed her upon the street, clothed in clinging silk
and starred with many a scintillating gem. June was careful to see
that they did not have a chance to recognize her.

Her clothes were becoming a trifle shabby; but they were neat, and
were worn with that indefinable air that some women can impart to
rags.

Not once yet had she regretted the step she had taken. For the
first time in months she felt a growing interest in life and a quiet
contentment that was almost happiness--as near to happiness at least
as she ever expected to attain.

She often smiled sadly to herself in recalling upon how slight a
thing the turning in her life had hinged--the clean smile and kindly
interest of a stranger, a man whose name, even, she did not know.

Early in her career upon the eighteenth floor of the Kesner
Building June had discovered that the road to higher wages paralleled
the acquirement of special training. Any one could fold and enclose
circulars. There were always thousands of young girls to be employed
at a moments notice for this class of work; but even here, she
discovered, expertness demanded and received the highest wages. So
she made it a point to become expert.

At the end of the second month she could handle a greater volume
of work in a day than any other girl in the department, and with a
lower percentage of errors. Her wages were advanced to seven dollars,
and she was entrusted with the more important work of the
department.

In the same room with her were several typists and on the floor
below many stenographers. June discovered that the poorest paid
typist earned a dollar a week more than she--or at least received
that much more.

She determined to become a typist, and with that end in view
practised during the noon hour each day under the guidance of one of
the regular typists. From her she learned that some of the
stenographers down-stairs received as much as seventy-five dollars a
month--almost three times her wage!

That evening June enrolled in a night-school where she could study
stenography. The venture necessitated a curtailment of expenses--it
meant walking to and from her work and finding a still cheaper room
than that she had. Her new lodgings were nearer the Loop. Here she
had a tiny gas-stove, where she cooked her slender meals--two a day,
some days.

At night she practised and studied. In a month she could take
ordinary dictation and transcribe ninety per cent of it quite as it
had been dictated. Without being aware of it she had become some
forty per cent more efficient than most stenographers ever become;
yet she felt that she was far from the proficiency required to obtain
or hold a position.

Then the blow fell. Her careful attention to her work, in the
circularizing department--her expertness--lost her position for her.
It happens every day in the departments of big businesses in every
city. A slack season came. Expenses must be curtailed. The head of
the house conferred with the manager of her department. The pay-roll
was the first item to be considered in reducing expenses--it always
is. Likewise it was the last thing.

"How many girls can you spare at this season of the year, Mr.
Brown?" asked the head of the house.

"We can cut the force in two," replied Mr. Brown, not because he
thought so, but because he thought the head of the house would like
to have him say it. Mr. Brown had been up against this same thing
twice a year since he had assumed the management of the department.
He had found it far easier to coincide with the wishes of his
superior, especially when the hysteria of retrenchment was abroad;
later he could employ other girls to bring his department up to a
respectable working basis--after the head of the house had
transferred his attention and hysteria to another department or
another field of endeavor.

The head of the house glanced down the pay-roll, a copy of which
Mr. Brown had handed him.

"H-m!" he said. "Seven dollars! Seven dollars is too much for this
class of work, Mr. Brown. When I started this business I had but one
employee--a girl. She and I did all the work. I used to work eighteen
and twenty hours a day, and if I had made seven dollars a week clear
the first year I should have been delighted. She worked nearly every
night and Saturday afternoons as well, and did it for three dollars a
week. You are paying your help altogether too much. I see you have
three girls in this department who are receiving seven dollars a
week--we will start with them."

And he made three little x's--one before the name of each of the
three. So June lost her job. When Mr. Brown told her that he would
not need her after the following Saturday she was dumfounded.

"Hasn't my work been satisfactory?" she asked.

"Yes," replied Mr. Brown; and then as well as he could he
explained the necessity for cutting down the force: but just why it
was necessary to lay off his most efficient help he did not attempt
to explain.

That night and for many days thereafter June scanned the want
columns of the papers. She wrote in reply to blind ads--letters that
never received a response. She called in answer to those that gave an
address, but there was always something they wanted that she
lacked.

Quite often the positions were filled before she applied, and then
she discovered that she must wait upon the corner near the office of
the afternoon newspaper from which she obtained her leads, seize one
of the first copies that came onto the street, and hasten to the
addresses of the more likely appearing ads if she would be in time to
obtain a first hearing.

In this way she managed, during the ensuing three or four months
to pick up half a dozen temporary positions at wages ranging from
five to nine dollars a week, but fully half the time she was idle.
She had been compelled to give up night-school, but she still
practised stenography at home; and her afternoons, when she was out
of employment, she spent at the employment bureaus of various
typewriter companies gaining speed on machines of different
makes.

She had not sufficient confidence as yet to apply for a position
as typist--she was too inexperienced to know that this is the sole
asset of the majority of typists.

Four months after she lost her position in the Kesner Building she
was working in the bindery department of a small job printing
establishment at four dollars a week. Her clothes were by this time
far too shabby for her to hope to obtain an office position; nor was
there any immediate likelihood that she would be able to save
sufficient money from her wages ever to purchase other clothing. But
even now she retained her courage, though hope was rapidly
succumbing.

Poor and insufficient food had left its mark upon her pallid,
emaciated cheeks and dark-ringed eyes. She had made no friends among
her coworkers. The good girls she avoided from a sense of shame in
her past; the others, with their cheap immoralities, disgusted her.
She would be one thing or the other--all good or all bad--and so she
could not abide those who sailed under false colors, assuming a
respectability that they did not have.

She still retained sufficient beauty to make her noticeable among
other girls. It was her sole possession of value. One day she had an
opportunity to cash it. The man who ran the print-shop often walked
through the bindery inspecting the work. On several occasions he
stopped and spoke to June about the job that she happened to be
engaged upon. He was a middle-aged man, rather good-looking. There
was little or no indication of dissipation upon his face, and yet
June knew that he was a hunter--she had heard snatches of
conversation among the other girls; conversation that made her blush,
hardened as she thought she was.

One afternoon the forewoman told her that "the boss" wanted to see
her in his office. She hastened to respond to the summons.

Her employer smiled pleasantly as she entered.

"Sit down," he said, indicating a chair beside his desk.

June did as he bid.

"How long have you been with us?" he asked.

"Two weeks," she replied.

"I have been noticing your work--and you," said the man. "I think
that you are not getting enough wages. I believe that we can fix it
up so that you can earn ten dollars a week--how would that strike
you?"

The girl's eyes narrowed, but the man did not notice.

"I should be glad if I could earn ten dollars a week," she
replied.

"Well, suppose you take dinner with me to-night and we'll talk it
over--I'm too busy just now. Well, what do you say?"

June looked him straight in the eyes, and then she laughed. She
thought of the apartment on Michigan Avenue, the eight-cylinder
touring-car, the chauffeur, the diamonds--of all that she had refused
seven months ago.

"You poor boob," she said. "You poor, cheap boob, you!"

The man turned scarlet. He tried to say something, but the words
stuck in his throat.

June rose from her chair.

"Give me my time, please. I've heard that there were men like you.
Before I went to work I thought they were all like you; but in all
the offices I have worked--and I've worked in a lot of them--you're
the first man that ever made a raw crack like that to me. If you had
had the nerve to come right out and say what you wanted of me I might
at least have had a little respect for you; but to try to work that
rotten old cradle-robbing dinner-game on me! And offering me ten
dollars a week and work all day in the bindery to boot! Give me my
four dollars and let me get out of here!"

For two weeks June sought another position in vain. Her money was
gone, and she owed for a week's room rent. She had no food or
prospects of food. She had not eaten for twenty-four hours; and then,
as fate would have it, she met Eddie on the street--Eddie of the
pimply face, the unclean nails, and the stained fingers.

"For the love o' Mike!" exclaimed Eddie. "You?"

"Surest thing you know, Eddie," replied the girl, laughing.

"The swellest-lookin' chicken on the line--in rags!" he said.
"What's the idea, Mag? Got a job as one of them new she-cops and
doin' a little gum-shoe work in disguise?"

"No, Eddie; I'm out of a job."

Sudden enlightenment dawned upon Eddie's countenance.

"Bein' on the square hasn't got you much, eh?"

"No, Eddie; it hasn't got me anything except an awful appetite and
nothing to satisfy it with."

The young man looked into her face searchingly.

"You hungry, Mag!"

She didn't deny it.

He grasped her by the arm.

"You come along with me," he commanded. "I know a joint round the
corner where we can feed up swell on four bits, and that's all I got
just now."

The girl drew back.

"No, Eddie," she said; "I can't sponge."

"Forget it," he cried. "Do you suppose I'll see an old pal hungry
when I got the price? Not me!"

And then, as she still demurred, his expression changed.

"Oh." he said, "I forgot. You're on the square now, so you'd be
ashamed to be seen with a dip like me--that's it. Well, I don't know
but you're right. You can't be too careful."

"That's not it, Eddie, and you know it," she cried. "But I've been
trying so hard to make good! I haven't asked anybody for help, and
I've been on the square all the time. I hate to have to fall back on
charity now."

"Charity nothin'!" he exploded. "You'd do as much for me if I was
down and out. Come along now, and when you get the price you can feed
me up in return if you feel that way about it."

And so they went together to the joint around the corner where
they could get a swell feed for two for fifty cents.

"What do you think of this virtue lay by this time?" asked Eddie
after they had partially satisfied the cravings of the inner man and
woman.

"I guess it's its own reward all right enough," replied the
girl.

Eddie was silent for a moment.

"Do you remember me tellin' you about an old bloke the last time I
seen you?" he asked presently.

"Yes."

"That proposition's still open."

She reached across the table and laid her hand upon his stained
fingers.

"Don't, Eddie," she said. "I'm trying hard to fight the temptation
to go back where there is plenty of easy money, and good clothes, and
enough to eat. I want to be on the square, though, Eddie, so don't
make it harder for me."

He patted her hand.

"You're the real goods, Mag," he said. I thought you was just
four-flushin' that time you told me you'd quit the gay life, but I
guess it takes more'n a four-flush for a girl like you to wear them
clothes and starve to boot just for the sake of bein' decent. I won't
say nothin' more about that proposition; but if I can help you any
other old way, why, you got my number.

"Gee!" he continued, "I wish I had your nerve. I tried a dozen
times to quit and be decent. But the easy money down here always got
me--that and the coke. Tell me all you been doin' since I seen you,
and what's went wrong that you couldn't get a job."

She related her experiences; closing with an account of the
print-shop man.

"The cheap skate!" exclaimed Eddie. "Gimme his number, and I'll
hike down his way to-morrow and touch him for all he's got in his
jeans--it'll teach him a lesson."

"No, Eddie, that wouldn't be setting me a very good example of
being decent, would it?"

The man laughed.

"But say," he said, "why is it you don't go after a swell steno
job? You say they told you down at the typewriter joint that you was
the real cheese and ought to hold any job you could cop off."

"Yes, I know they did," she replied, "but they intimated that they
couldn't send me out in answer to a call unless I had better clothes,
and you can't buy much on four dollars a week, Eddie, especially if
you only get the four some weeks."

Eddie sat for a moment deep in thought. Then he rose and reached
for his hat.

"You sit tight here for about ten minutes, Mag," he said, "and
I'll be right back. I got some business up the street. I want to see
you again when I come back. You won't duck, will you?"

"I'll wait for you, Eddie," she replied.

The man stopped at the cashier's desk and paid the two checks,
then he hurried out into the brilliantly lighted street.

It was fifteen minutes before he returned, and when he took his
place at the table opposite her the girl did not know that he no
longer wore a diamond stickpin, a watch of gold, and a diamond
ring.

"Here," he said, shoving a roll of bills across the table to her.
"Here's a stake for them swell clothes you need to land a decent
job."



CHAPTER VI. SECOR'S FIANCEE.

LONG before Mr. Ogden Secor returned to the city after his grand
jury service had terminated and released him to attend to his own
affairs, he had completely forgotten the girl from Farris's and his
promise of assistance to her.

It was fully a month after his return that he was reminded of the
affair by the sight of the Rev. Mr. Pursen at the home of Secor's
fiancée where both had dropped in of a late afternoon.

"By the way, Mr. Pursen," said Secor, "did a girl I sent to you
for assistance ever apply? She was the girl from Farris's in that
case that was brought before the grand jury of which I was
foreman."

"No," said the Rev. Mr. Pursen, "she did not come to me. I went to
her the very day that Farris was arrested and offered to help her;
but I found her entirely unresponsive to my advances. In fact, she
seemed totally depraved, and though I labored with her I was finally
forced to the conclusion that she was one of those hopelessly lost
women which nothing but death can remove from the evil life they
cling to by preference."

"Strange," said Mr. Secor; "she completely deceived me. I could
have sworn that she was not innately vicious, and that if given a
chance she might easily have been helped to a better way of
living."

"No," said the Rev. Mr. Pursen; "I did my poor, weak best; but it
was all to no avail."

"Too bad," said Mr. Secor, and that would have been the end of it
had not fate been planning the perpetration of an odd trick upon
him.

Sophia Welles entered at that moment, and both men arose to greet
her.

"I have come to beg again, Miss Welles," said Mr. Pursen. "I find
that our Society for the Uplift of Erring Women is sadly in need of
funds. The secretary's salary is a month in arrears; the stenographer
and the two investigators have not been paid for two weeks, and the
rent is several days overdue."

"Well, well," murmured Miss Welles sympathetically, "that is too
bad. We must certainly do something at once. How much do you need,
and what can you rely upon from other sources?"

"We need about two hundred dollars at once," replied the
clergyman, "and some arrangement would be very advantageous that
would assure us of a permanent income of two hundred and fifty or
three hundred dollars per month."

"I will subscribe fifty dollars toward the emergency fund at
once," said Miss Welles. She looked expectantly toward Mr. Secor.

"What is the nature of the work done by the society?" asked that
gentleman.

"The name of the society is self-explanatory," returned Mr.
Pursen. "The Society for the Uplift of Erring Women."

"Roughly," Mr. Secor inquired, "how does it function?"

"Our investigators call upon the women whose cases come to our
attention--usually through Municipal Court records--and endeavor to
prevail upon them to attend our Monday evening Uplift Circle. The
meetings are held in the church every Monday except during July and
August. Here we enjoy a short song service, followed by prayer, and
then the women listen to helpful talks by the noble women who are
sacrificing their Monday evenings to their poor, fallen sisters."

"Do many of the women you seek to aid attend these meetings?"
asked Mr. Secor.

"Unfortunately, no," admitted Mr. Pursen; "possibly five or six,
on an average, I should say. The unfortunate part of it is that they
seem to have so little real desire to embrace the opportunity we are
offering them to begin life anew that seldom if ever do the same
women attend our Uplift Circle a second time. You have no conception,
Mr. Secor, how discouraging is labor of this nature--the utter
indifference and ingratitude of those we would help is the first and
greatest obstacle to our work."

"Just how would you help them, practically?" inquired Mr.
Secor.

"By contact with good women; by the beauties of Scripture; by
helpful suggestions and example; by impressing upon them their
degradation; by--ah--"

"Do you find remunerative employment for them?" asked Mr.
Secor.

"We have not gone thus far as yet, though that is the ultimate
object, of course."

"I should think that it would be the primary object. Between
meetings they go back and earn their livings in the old way--if you
have accomplished anything it is undone at once."

"It is difficult to find people who will employ these women once
we explain the sort of people they are," replied Mr. Pursen; "but
that we hope to be able to do when we have sufficient funds to employ
more assistants."

"You have placed none of them in decent employment, then?" asked
Mr. Secor.

"Not as yet--it takes time to accomplish great reforrns--Rome was
not--"

"Yes, of course," interrupted Mr. Secor; "but, looking at the
matter from a purely business standpoint, I cannot see how you are
going to raise sufficient funds to carry on any work until you have
accomplished something practical with what you have. If four or five
paid workers, with the assistance of a number of volunteers, have
been unable to effect the regeneration of not a single woman in the
six or eight months that the society has been organized, I should
consider it a rather risky investment to subscribe any considerable
amount for the continuation of the work.

"I don't wish to discourage you," continued Mr. Secor kindly, "but
charities to be effective must be treated just as one would treat a
business proposition. If a given charity is not producing results it
would be better to divert our money to other channels--there are
several well-managed charities, I understand, that are doing
considerable practical good."

"Then you think that the Society for the Uplift of Erring Women is
poorly managed?" asked Mr. Pursen a trifle acridly.

"It may be and it may not--there are some things which cannot be
done--impractical things. This may be one of them; or the methods of
the society may be faulty. Of course I am in no position to judge,
nor do I wish to criticise."

"I can assure you that my cousin, Miss Peebles, is a very
conscientious woman," said Mr. Pursen, "and is doing a noble work
intelligently."

"Oh," said Mr. Secor; "I ask your pardon. I did not know that the
secretary of the society is your cousin."

"She is," continued Mr. Pursen, "and the other active workers in
the society are relatives of the good women who are aiding us in our
thankless task."

"You mean by active workers--"

"Those who are on salary--not being financially able to devote
their time to the work gratuitously," explained Mr. Pursen.

"I think," said Miss Welles, "that the society is doing a very
noble work under most adverse conditions, and that we should do all
in our power to help it financially, as well as to give it our moral
support. It is very easy, Ogden, to criticise."

"I am sorry," said Mr. Secor, "if I have seemed to disparage the
work of the society; but knowing as I do that it is rather a pet of
yours, Sophia, I wanted to do something really worth while for it--if
my money would do any good. There is no value in throwing money away
for sentiment when there are so many places where it can be used to
practical advantage.

"I should like very much to talk with Miss Peebles, and if I find
that there is good foundation for the belief that fallen women can be
really saved or benefited through your organization, I shall be most
happy to subscribe toward an endowment fund, and influence my friends
to do likewise."

"That is very kind of you, Mr. Secor," said Mr. Pursen, relaxing
as he scented a substantial donation.

"Where is the office of the society?" asked Mr. Secor. "I shall
make it a point to see Miss Peebles to-morrow."

"The office is in the church," said Mr. Pursen. "You will find
Miss Peebles there about eleven o'clock. She is usually there between
eleven and twelve daily."

"I thought from your reference to rent," remarked Mr. Secor, "that
the society probably had a down-town office."

"No," replied Mr. Pursen; "we felt that as long as the society
would have to pay rent it would be better to give this rent to the
church rather than to outsiders, and we have made the amount very
much smaller than the society could have obtained similar space for
in the Loop."

"Oh," said Mr. Secor, "I see. Well, then, if possible, I shall
call upon Miss Peebles to-morrow; but do not tell her to expect me,
for I may find business engagements will prevent my seeing her before
the first of the week."

"I hope not," Mr. Pursen said; "for I am sure that Miss Peebles
can explain the work and scope of the society much more interestingly
than I, in my poor, weak way."

"We might look up that girl from Farris's again," suggested Mr.
Secor, "and see what Miss Peebles can do for her."

"She is too degraded, I am afraid, ever to respond to the kind
offices of good men and women. I think that she prefers her present
life, sad as it may seem to us. Poor thing! I tried so hard to win
her to godliness.

"But I must he going, now. I am so very glad to have met you
again, Mr. Secor. May we not hope to see you oftener at our little
church gatherings? In my poor, weak way I shall endeavor to make you
welcome."

"Just a moment, Mr. Pursen," said Miss Welles, "until I make out a
check for the Uplift Society."

After the Rev. Mr. Pursen had departed with his check Sophia
turned to Secor.

"Isn't he splendid?" she exclaimed.

So noble and sincere in his desire to better his fellow man! So
magnanimous in his practical relations with the poor creatures of the
under-world!"

"Rather nice chap to have for a cousin, I should say, were one in
quest of remunerative employment with short hours," replied Mr. Secor
with a trace of dryness."

Miss Welles looked at her fiancée sharply.

"How perfectly unkind, Ogden," she exclaimed. "Really, I'd never
have thought it of you. Mr. Pursen is one of nature's own
noblemen."

"All right, Sophie; we won't quarrel about Mr. Pursen, although I
must say that if his attitude toward that girl I spoke to him about
is a decent sample of his magnanimous practicality, or whatever you
called it, I am afraid it won't carry him very far in that class of
work."

"And you won't help him?" she asked.

"If you wish me to, yes," he replied; "but if you were not
interested I should feel that I'd rather contribute my money directly
to the support of his indigent cousin and his church rather than
through the medium of the Society for the Uplift of Erring Women.
He'd get it all then, and wouldn't have to whack up with the indigent
relatives of the noble women who sacrifice their Monday evenings,
except during July and August, to the uplift of their less-fortunate
sisters."

"You are entirely horrid to-day, Ogden," pouted Miss Welles. "You
do not like Mr. Pursen."

"Bless you, child, I don't know him. I've met him here perhaps a
half dozen times--here, and in the newspapers. About all I've noticed
about him is the poor, weak way he has of getting into print."

Miss Welles flushed. She had heard that criticism of her hero
before.

"You are just like father," she said.

"He can't, or won't understand how much Mr. Pursen shrinks from
the unpleasant notoriety his great reform work forces upon him. Like
you, father seems to imagine that he courts publicity, while as a
matter of fact he suffers it solely because he cannot avoid it, and
because he knows that only by bringing the conditions of vice that
exist in the city clearly before the people can they be awakened to
the gravity of the issue which confronts them. I think the fact that
he goes on and on regardless of the frequency with which the
newspapers drag his name into publicity is one of the finest things
about him--it proves conclusively his sincerity and his manly
courage."

"All right, Sophie," replied Secor with one of his pleasant
smiles, "if he succeeds in saving a single woman during his lifetime
he will not have lived in vain, and there is every reason to hope for
the best--Mr. Pursen is still a very young man."

The talk drifted then from Mr. Pursen and reform to more personal
and intimate matters. They discussed their plans for the future.
Secor broached the subject of a wedding date for the hundredth time,
and for the hundredth time Sophia Welles could not bring herself to
be very definite in the matter.

She fully intended to marry Ogden Secor. She had not worked
laboriously a whole year to that end with any intention of
relinquishing her prize now that she had won it; but Miss Welles was
in no great haste to wed. She loved Secor as well as she knew how. He
was quite good-looking, had plenty of wealth, and a social position
second to none in the city. Had he had nothing but the social
position, Miss Welles could not have found it in her heart to give
him up, but with such a combination of assets he was by far the best
catch in many a season.

She had come from a small Indiana town where her father had made
several fortunes in the automobile industry--saving them all and
investing them wisely. She did not need to marry for money, though an
alliance that would combine the wealth that would one day be hers
with that of a wealthy husband was not to be ignored. What she did
need was a stepping-stone to the social position she craved, but
could not attain on the strength of her own name. Both she and her
mother considered Ogden Secor an ideal stepping-stone, though neither
had ever mentioned such a thing to the other.

As a matter of fact the Welleses were extremely nice people.
Refined, educated cultured. Much nicer, if the truth could have found
a champion of sufficient bravery to admit it, than many of the
families to whose homes the feminine contingent of the Welles
household craved entree; but their name was unknown in this new
environment.

It had never graced a special brand of ham; it had never been
intimately related and for generations with the filth and crime of
the politics of the municipality; it did not blazon itself before the
public eye from above the doorways of a hundred ten-cent
lunch-counters--no, the Welleses were new, unknown; they did not
belong.

But they meant to.

Ogden Secor had always known nice girls, pretty girls, rich girls.
He did not succumb to the wiles of Sophia Welles at first sight, for
she had nothing new to offer him; but she had that way with her which
some women have of suggesting to a man a manner of proprietorship
over them--a something that appeals to the protective instinct of the
male.

It is done insidiously; you cannot put your finger on a single act
that typifies it; yet before long the man comes to feel, without
thinking about it, perhaps, that the woman belongs to him in a way.
Then she plays her trump card. Just when she has him resting easily
and comfortably in the belief that she looks to him for advice and
guidance, she traps him into an attempt to exercise the power he
thinks is his. Then she bowls him over merrily and does precisely as
she pleases.

What is the result? Take away from a man by force something that
he has come to believe he possessed, and you create a burning desire
for the thing--though maybe before he would not have given a nickel
for it.

So, when Ogden Secor discovered that Miss Welles admitted not his
proprietorship over her, he immediately craved a real proprietorship,
and the result was he discovered that he loved her.

They had been engaged now for three months, but the wedding day
seemed as far in the future as ever. Miss Welles was having an
excellent time as the fiancée of Mr. Ogden Secor. Already she
had tasted of the fruits of conquest. Doors had opened to her that
had previously been impregnable. She was in no haste to relinquish
her freedom.

The sudden death of the elder Secor early in the spring had, of
course, necessitated a delay in the wedding plans; for both Miss and
Mrs. Welles desired a pretentious ceremony. It seemed now that a year
at least must elapse before the marriage could take place.

As for Mr. Secor, he attempted to persuade his betrothed to slip
away with him and be quietly married in some nearby town. Her father
and mother could accompany them, and everything would be regular and
lovely. He hated the idea of "the circus," as he called the affair
the two women were planning.

But they would not listen to him.

Several times during the winter Secor met the Rev. Mr. Pursen at
Miss Welles's. The more he saw of him the less he liked him, and the
more he let Miss Welles see that he disliked her "parson," the more
loyal she became to him.

"One would think that you were engaged to Pursen instead of to
me," complained Mr. Secor on one occasion. "He is becoming a regular
pest. I can scarcely ever find an opportunity to see you alone.
Doesn't he know that we are engaged? Hasn't he any sense?"

"He has a great deal of sense, Ogden," she replied, "and he knows
that we are engaged. He also knows that you do not like him. He has
told me so."

"Then why does he persist in hanging around while I am here,
Sophie?" he demanded.

"I think he wants to show his friendliness toward you and to win
your friendship. I think it is perfectly sweet and noble of him--a
sort of martyrship to brotherly love, as it were."

Carefully edited, Mr. Secor's reply would read: "Oh, piffle!"

"Ogden! How can you!" she cried, "I didn't know that you had such
an uncharitable strain in your make-up."

"Clay feet will out," he laughed good-naturedly; "but really,
Sophie, I'm sorry I was nasty. Forgive me, and I'll do my best to
like your parson--in my poor, weak way.''

"You'll have to like him, Ogden," she replied, "for we are bound
to see a great deal of him! In the work that I am trying to do his
assistance is invaluable--I am sure that the three of us can
accomplish a great deal of good in this city could we but work in
harmony--whole-heartedly for the uplift."

"Anything to make you happy Sophie," he said, and then the
conversation turned to other things.

When he left she watched him as he walked to the curb and entered
his car. Miss Welles was very proud of her fiancée. She noted
his splendid carriage, his strong face and well-set head; and then
she sighed. She wished that he understood her hopes and aspirations,
and was in sympathy with them as was--well--Mr. Pursen, for
example.

He understood.

She found herself, quite unexpectedly, wondering why fate had not
given Mr. Pursen a fat bank account and an old and socially honored
name. How much more he could have accomplished, thus bucklered for
the fight!



CHAPTER VII. JUNE'S EMPLOYER.

LATE in December Mr. Secor was called to New York on a matter of
business.

"I'll be gone two or three weeks, Stickler," he said to his office
manager; "and it'll be an excellent time to break in Miss Smith's
successor. She'll be with us until the first of January, and that'll
give her time to coach whoever you employ in her stead. Be sure you
get a young woman of intelligence, and have her well versed in her
duties before I return--I won't want to have to suffer the sorrows
incident to breaking in a new stenographer myself with a bunch of
accumulated matter piled up and waiting for me."

"Yes, sir," replied Mr. Stickler; "I'll see that you have a second
Miss Smith if there's one to be found in the city. Too bad she had to
go and get married--just when she was becoming invaluable."

"Very inconsiderate of her, Stickler, I'm sure," said Secor,
laughing.

So Mr. Stickler inserted want ads in three papers and telephoned
to the employment departments of three typewriter manufacturers. And
it so happened that the following day June Lathrop, decently clothed
with the money from Eddie's jewelry, walked into one of these
departments, asking for an assignment.

The woman in charge looked up with a smile.

"Why, good morning, Miss Lathrop," she said. "Where in the world
have you been? I thought we'd lost you entirely."

She had never before realized what a really beautiful girl Miss
Lathrop was. A few months since she had explained to her in as kindly
a way as possible that it would be impossible for her to place her in
the class of offices to which they catered unless she could come
better clothed. She had not seen her again after that interview until
now, and she had often wondered if she had offended the girl.

"Oh, I've been doing temporary work about town," answered June;
"but now I want a chance at a permanent position. Haven't you
something that you could send me out on? Something really good."

"I've just the thing, Miss Lathrop," replied the woman, fingering
through a number of index cards in a little box on her desk.

Presently she found what she sought, and for a moment was busy
transcribing the contents of the card to a blank form.

"Here," she said finally; "go to this number in the Railway
Exchange and ask for Mr. Stickler. He wants a girl of more experience
than you have had, but I really believe that you are fully competent
to fill the position satisfactorily, and I have told him so in this
note. I have asked him to give you a trial."

"I don't know how I can thank you enough," cried the girl. "I
shall make good, for I must make good."

"Good luck, then," called the woman, as June left.

In the Railway Exchange Building June found the suite number she
sought. The door to the main office was open, and she did not see the
lettering upon it as she entered. She wondered what the nature of the
business might be, but that it was profitable was evidenced by the
thick carpet upon the floor of the outer office; and by the simple
elegance of the desks at which a number of clerks were working.

At the information desk June asked for Mr. Stickler, presenting
her note of introduction to the office-boy in charge. He was a tall,
somber youth of sixteen who looked fully twenty-one. He eyed June
from beneath stern brows, and then slunk silently toward a mahogany
door upon the opposite side of the general office. Here he turned
cautiously to cast a sudden, veiled look of suspicion in the girl's
direction.

"How perfectly weird," she thought. "He makes me feel as though I
were a sneak-thief."

Three minutes later June turned with a little jump to find the
young man standing just behind her scowling down upon her in the most
malevolent manner. He had left the private office by another door and
entered the reception hall from the main corridor of the
building.

"Oh!" she exclaimed; "you startled me."

The youth almost smiled.

"Come!" he whispered. "Follow me," and on silent feet he led her
toward the private office across the room.

Here she was ushered into the presence of Mr. Stickler--a
bald-headed man with a thick neck and close-set eyes. At sight of the
girl's face Mr. Stickler beamed pleasantly.

"Good morning," he said. "Have a chair. You come well recommended,
I see. Mrs. Carson has never failed to furnish us with the most
competent help that we have had. She tells me that you have had
little practical experience; but she is positive that you can do our
work most satisfactorily."

"If it is not too technical I am sure I can," replied June.

"There is nothing about it but what you can learn quickly if you
set yourself to it," replied Mr. Stickler kindly. He had interviewed
a dozen applicants already and he was tiring of the job. This was the
first who had been good to look at; and good looks were a primary
requisite to employment under Mr. Stickler. June's face had won more
than half the battle for her.

"Would you mind taking a little dictation now and transcribing it
for me, as a sort of test, you know?" he asked.

"Not at all; I should be very glad to," she replied.

"Good!" he exclaimed. "There are many applicants who will not
take a test. They say it is unfair."

"It is as fair for one as another," she replied. "I cannot see how
you are to judge as to my qualifications in any other way."

Mr. Stickler drew a note-book and pencil from his desk, and June
removed her wraps and gloves. For five minutes he dictated
continuously and rather rapidly; but he enunciated his words
distinctly, and not once did June find it necessary to stop him or
ask for a repetition.

When he had finished he sat back in his chair and smiled at her.
He had putposely made the test unusually hard, for he had decided
that the girl would do--she was too good-looking to be lost--and so
he wanted an excuse in case she fell down on the test. If he made it
exceptionally difficult, it would not prove that she was incompetent
should she make numerous errors, for even an easy test is a
nerve-racking experience, and the best of stenographers often fall
down through nervousness.

Of course, if the result proved that she was absolutely hopeless,
he could not employ her; but if she showed the slightest indication
of ability, he would give her a trial.

"Do you think you got it?" he asked.

"Why, of course!" she replied, surprised.

"Good! I made it as hard as I could. If you can transcribe that
with less than ten per cent errors, you will be doing splendidly for
one entirely unaccustomed to my dictation and the terms I used."

"Where can I find a machine?" she asked.

Mr. Stickler touched a bell.

"Miss Smith," he said to the young lady who entered in response to
his summons, "this is Miss Lathrop. She has just taken a test. Will
you let her use your machine, please, to transcribe for a few
minutes?"

"Certainly. Come with me, Miss Lathrop." And she led June to a
small room off the private office.

In ten minutes June knocked upon Mr. Stickler's door.

"Come in," he called, and as he saw who it was: "Stuck?" he asked
with a smile.

"No, indeed; I've finished."

"Well, well; that's fine. Let me see it."

June handed him a typewritten sheet, standing before him as he
scanned it.

"Excellent!" he said when he had finished reading it. "Excellent!
Not an error. I think I need look no further, Miss Lathrop, if we can
arrange the question of wages satisfactorily. Be seated, please. Now,
what do you believe would satisfy you to start?"

"Oh, I'd rather leave that to you," said June.

"Miss Smith has been with us for five years," said Mr. Stickler.
"She is leaving on the first to be married. We pay her twenty-five
dollars a week. On the first she would have been raised to thirty had
she remained. Would you care to start at twenty, with every assurance
of an increase as soon as you are familiar with our work?"

Nine dollars a week was the largest wage June had ever received
since she left Farris's, and that for but a single week in a
temporary position. Would she accept twenty? She tried not to look
too eager. With difficulty she seemed to hesitate, as though weighing
in her mind the possibilities of the future against the present small
pittance that had been offered her. Mr. Stickler eyed her
steadily.

"The hours are not bad," he commenced.

"I do not care anything about the hours," she replied.

Mr. Stickler had it on his tongue's end to raise it to
twenty-five--there were few girls applying for positions who did not
ask about the hours at the first opportunity they had. Here was an
exceptionally rapid and accurate stenographer who cared nothing about
hours--she was indeed a find; and further, she was the finest-looking
girl be had ever seen in his life. But before he had an opportunity
June spoke.

"I think that will be satisfactory," she said. "When shall you
want me?"

"When can you come?"

"Any time."

"Eight-thirty to-morrow morning."

"Thank you," said June. "I'll be here promptly. Good day."

"Good day, Miss Lathrop."

In the reception hall the furtive-eyed office-boy shot a keen
glance at the young woman through half-closed lids as he looked up
from some loose, printed sheets over which he had been bent in close
study. He saw her glance at the name upon the door, which was now
visible to her as she approached the doorway. He saw her give a
sudden start and pale as though she had seen a dead man. Her hands
went suddenly to her breast as she stood wide-eyed, gazing in horror
at the neat, black lettering of the name.

Then she caught the boy's eyes upon her, and with a little effort
she regained her composure and walked calmly from the office.

"John Secor & Co.!" she murmured to herself. "My God, I can
never do it!"

But she did, and the next morning found her at work in the
mahogany-furnished inner office of John Secor&Co. The girl could
not recall that she had spent such another night of indecision and
anguish for many a long month, until, with the close approach of
dawn, she had determined to stifle the sorrow and loathing that
thought of constant employment in that office induced, and take the
position.

The twenty dollars a week meant to her, possibly, life itself, as
well as the means of pursuing the straight and narrow path upon which
a young man's smile had set her feet. She often wondered about him
and if she should ever see him again. Some day she would like to
thank him, she felt, for what he had done for her. Doubtless he had
forgotten both her and the incident--she rather hoped that he
had.

With her first week's pay, June partially repaid Eddie the Dip the
money he had loaned her. For this purpose she met him at the little
joint around the corner where one can feed up swell on two bits.
Eddie was apparently as delighted with June's success as she herself,
and that his pleasure was sincere was evidenced by the genuine
disinclination he showed to accept a return of his money. But the
girl insisted, and at last Eddie took the bills reluctantly.

In the far corner of the dingy restaurant a heavy man sat alone at
a little table. He had been buried in an evening paper as the two had
entered, so had not noticed them. When finally he looked up, running
his shrewd eyes quickly about the room, he recognized Eddie the Dip,
who sat facing him upon the farther side of the eating-place, near
the cashier's desk.

No changed expression marked his recognition. Immediately he
resumed his paper, turning in his chair so that while appearing to be
reading he might surreptitiously watch the newcomers through the
fly-specked mirror that circled the room above the wainscot. He had
no further interest in them than that of semiofficial curiosity, and
having recognized the man, he wished to discover the identity of his
companion.

It was not until the two rose to leave that the girl turned her
head so that the man in the far corner caught a view of her features.
At sight of them he pursed his lips into a silent whistle of
surprise; then Eddie the Dip paid the checks and the two passed out
into the brilliantly lighted street.

The man at the table drew a note-book from his pocket, and with a
stub of pencil wrote, laboriously, two names, the date, the hour, and
the place; then he resumed the demolition of a large platter of "ham
and."

Outside the restaurant Eddie bade June good night.

"You run along now, kid," he said.

"It wouldn't help you none to be seen with me."

The girl objected, though she knew well the truth of his
statement. He alone in all the great city had evinced disinterested
friendship in her and had given her real and substantial aid when she
most needed it. Her sense of gratitude and loyalty was strong, and
she would rather have missed almost anything than to have hurt the
young man's feelings.

Doubtless Eddie guessed the truth of her sentiments; for he was
firm in his insistence that she "run along home."

"You've been so good to me, Eddie," she said, "I--"

"Forget it," admonished the Dip.

"What's money for, anyway?"

"It is not the money I was thinking about," she replied, "though,
of course, I could have done nothing without it--it's that you have
been willing to believe that I wanted to be on the square--that I
could be, and were willing to help me without"--she hesitated--"without
expecting anything in return."

"Have I ever done anything to you, Mag," he asked with a laugh,
"that gives you any license to class me with them Commonwealth Avenue
or Lake Shore Drive guys?"

The following Monday morning June sat at her desk in the little
office just outside that of the president of John Secor&Co. Ten
days had passed since she commenced work there, and under the careful
tutorage of Miss Smith and Mr. Stickler she had progressed rapidly in
the assimilation of the details of her work.

Ogden Secor, the president of the company, she had not seen, as
his return from New York had been delayed. She found herself
wondering what he might look like, and if she should be able to
continue in his employ after he returned. Now it was not quite so
bad, for he was just a name; but when she should be compelled to come
into daily contact with him, sit for hours, perhaps, close beside him
as he dictated, would it not be very different and very terrible? The
girl shuddered.

It was ten o'clock when Mr. Stickler opened the door from the
president's office and called her. As Mr. Stickler often had given
her work in this office before, she gathered up her note-book and
pencil as she replied to his summons.

Somehow she did not like Mr. Stickler particularly. He had a way
of looking at her out of his fishy eyes that fell little short of
being insultingly suggestive. When Mr. Secor returned she knew that
she would be released from this distasteful ogling--unless Mr. Secor
chanced to be of the same brand.

This, however, she doubted; for since her entrance into the world
of business the girl had learned that the great majority of office
men accord the same respect to their female coworkers--as they do to
their own sisters. That there were exceptions she had also
discovered.

At the door Mr. Stickler met her.

"Come in," he said, "Mr. Secor has returned; I wish to introduce
you to him."

June felt suddenly all cold. She had known that this must come
some time, but to that very instant she had not dreamed how terribly
she dreaded the ordeal. Her heart seemed to go dead within her, and
it was with difficulty that she raised her eyes to the face of the
man who had risen courteously at her entrance. That she knew he had
never before set eyes upon her did not lighten her burden of
apprehension--it seemed that he must read the tragic truth that ran
screaming through her brain.

And then at last she looked at him--the pleasant, honest smile;
the cordial, outstretched hand. From cold she went hot. Could such a
frightful contretemps actually occur in real life?

The man before her--her employer--was the young man whose kindly
words had set her upon the road of righteousness! Would he remember
her?



CHAPTER VIII. SAMMY THE SLEUTH.

OGDEN SECOR did not recognize June Lathrop as Maggie Lynch, the
girl from Farris's, and it was with relief that almost found
expression in an audible sigh that the girl returned to her desk in
her own office.

Here she surprised the lank and somber office-boy, Sammy, in the
act of closing one of the drawers of her desk.

"What do you want, Sammy?" she asked pleasantly.

The youth went from white to red, and from red to scarlet. He
stammered and coughed--trying to frame an apology, until June, from
mild wonderment, became keenly suspicious.

"I'm awfully sorry, Miss Lathrop," he managed to get out at last.
"I didn't mean any harm--I was only practising."

"Practising?" exclaimed the girl. "Practising what?"

"I suppose," said Sammy, "that I'll have to tell you now; but I
didn't want any one to know until I had graduated and got a position
with Pinkerton."

"Pinkerton?" questioned June, still at a loss to make head or tail
of what the youth was leading to. "What has practising or Pinkerton
to do with searching my desk surreptitiously? It was a very
ungentlemanly thing to do, Sammy, and I really ought to tell Mr.
Stickler about it."

"Oh, please don't do that," wailed Sammy. "Please don't and I'll
tell you all about it."

"All right," said June, "now tell me."

"You see," said Sammy nervously, "I'm taking a correspondence
course in a detective school, and a part of each lesson is to put
into practise what I have learned in former lessons. Just now I was
practising searching a burglar's flat. Almost every day I practise
shadowing."

"Shadowing?" exclaimed June. "What is shadowing? How do you do
it?"

"Oh, it's easy," replied Sammy, his confidence returning as he
discovered that June appeared to have forgiven the liberties he had
taken with her desk.

"You see," he continued, "a detective has to be able to follow a
suspect all over without being seen himself. I practise on lots of
people--Mr. Stickler, Mr. Secor, Miss Smith, and the rest of them.
When they go to lunch I shadow them, a different one nearly every
noon. Friday I shadowed you--right into the Lunch Club on Wabash
Avenue, and ate at a table behind you, and followed you back to the
office and you never got onto me at all."

"Ugh!" shivered June. "How uncanny. Don't you ever dare shadow me
again Sammy--promise me," and Sammy promised.

After the new stenographer had left his office, Ogden Secor tried
to recall where he had known her before. He was positive that her
face was familiar, and connected with some event in his life that was
none too pleasant; but try as he would he could not place the girl.
At last he dropped the matter from his mind.

For several months thereafter the routine of June's new life ran
on smoothly and uninterruptedly. She saved the major portion of her
salary, and once more met Eddie the Dip in the little restaurant that
she might pay him the balance of the money she owed him.

Daily association with the life of the office of John
Secor&Co. and its president eventually dulled the first revulsion
she had experienced at thought of taking employment there. She found
Ogden Secor all that she had grown to believe him since the day that
he had come into her life from out of the grand jury room.

Of Mr. Stickler she grew more and more suspicious. There was no
tangible overt act upon his part on which she could put her finger;
nevertheless, she could have sworn, after a month of him, that he was
a "hunter" without the nerve to hunt. He was, she grew sure, the sort
that would take advantage of her first misstep to snare her, and so,
without fearing him, she watched him and herself lest he might find
some pretext upon which to make an initial advance toward her.

With the exception of Sammy, the office force was most
uninteresting to any one outside themselves. Sammy was a never-ending
source of joy to her now that she understood the motives which
prompted his stealthy, catlike tread, his furtive glances, and his
highly melodramatic appearances from directions in which one would
least expect him to materilize.

As June never laughed at him--openly--he took a great liking to
her, coming to her with his new lessons, with his hopes and his
aspirations. His one and only ambition was to become a Pinkerton man,
and he fully believed that once armed with the diploma of the
correspondence school to which he paid half his weekly salary, it
would be simply a matter of presenting it to the head of the
detective agency to insure him an open-armed reception and an
immediate appointment--didn't the prospectus of the school say so
almost in so many words?

So secure had June grown to feel in the belief that her old life
was absolutely dead and forgotten, and that Ogden Secor would never
know that his private stenographer had been an inmate of Abe
Farris's, that the shock of an occurrence through which she had to
pass four months after taking the position all but unnerved her.

There was a caller in Secor's office, and as the buzzer upon
June's desk sounded she took up her note-book and pencil to respond
as she was called upon to do a dozen times in a day.

Scarce had she entered the inner office, however, than her heart
seemed to cease its beating. Facing her, and looking squarely into
her eyes as she passed through the doorway, sat the Rev. Theodore
Pursen.

A look of half-recognition lighted his expression at sight of her.
Instantly June jumped to the conclusion that he had come there to
expose her but she managed to hold herself under perfect control as
she advanced across the room to Secor's side, nor did she even, by a
second glance at the visitor's face, betray the fact that she
recalled ever having seen him before.

Secor handed her a memorandum.

"Make out a check," he said, "for this amount to the order of the
Society for the Uplift of Erring Women."

June took the slip of paper and returned to her own office.

"Your secretary's face is quite familiar to me," remarked Pursen,
after the girl had closed the door.

"Yes?" queried Secor politely, and uninterestedly. As a matter of
fact, he was interested in nothing much that interested the Rev. Mr.
Pursen--other than Sophia Welles.

"I am quite sure that I know her, but I cannot place her,"
continued Mr. Pursen. "Possibly her name might recall her to me."

"Her name is Lathrop," replied Secor.

Pursen shook his head. "I must be mistaken after all," he said, "I
never knew any one of that name," and then June returned with the
check.

For several days she was in a state of nervous apprehension,
momentarily expecting a summons from either Mr. Secor or Mr. Stickler
that would close her career with John Secor & Co.; but why she
should dread discharge she could not guess, for she no longer felt a
single doubt but that she should always be able to find pleasant and
lucrative employment.

As a matter of fact, she finally decided, it was not so much
discharge she feared, as that Ogden Secor should know her for what
she once had been. The thought sent her white with terror, and with
it came another thought--how much did her daily contact with Ogden
Secor mean to her more than she had even faintly suspected?

Never before had this idea impinged upon her thoughts. She tried
to thrust it from her. It was horrible. How horrible only she could
guess; and yet, once fastened upon her, it clung tenaciously, a
mighty load upon her conscience--a veritable Old Man of the Sea--so
that she dreaded coming into Secor's presence for fear he might guess
not only her secret, but as well the awful truth which made it the
hideous thing it was.

Weeks rolled by. September came. June was once more lulled into a
feeling of security. Secor was in New York on business. Sammy had
been diligently practising his lesson on thieves' jargon upon June
until, convulsed with laughter, she had sent him back to his desk in
the outer office.

Two rings of her buzzer called her to Mr. Stickler's desk. That
fateful buzzer! Since the day that it had summoned her into the Rev.
Theodore Pursen's presence she had never heard it without an inward
shudder. To her relief she found that Mr. Stickler wished her merely
upon an unimportant matter of detail. As he talked, Sammy entered,
lynx-eyed and pussy-footed--Sammy could not cross the outer office,
even to the water-cooler, without assuming a Hawkshawian gait that
would have turned that worthy sleuth green with envy could he have
seen it.

"Mr. Stickler!" he whispered, "two harness bulls are looking for
you."

"Harness bulls!" exclaimed Stickler.

"What are harness bulls, Sammy?"

"Harness bulls," quoted Sammy from his recent lesson on criminal
slang, "are policemen in uniform."

The sudden sickly pallor which overspread the face of the office
manager did not pass unnoticed by either June or Sammy.

"Did they say what they wanted of me?" asked Mr. Stickler,
controlling his voice with an effort.

Sammy lowered his own to a mysterious whisper. "They want you," he
said, "to buy some tickets to the annual policemen's benefit at the
Auditorium."

"Show them in," commanded Mr. Stickler in evident relief--even the
best of men are often obsessed with an inexplicable terror of the
minions of the law.

"That is all, Miss Lathrop," he added, turning toward June. "You
may go."

As the girl left Mr. Stickler's office to cross the outer room to
her own she saw two burly officers trailing in the wake of a suddenly
metamorphosed Sammy. The youth walked with devilish swagger and
outruffed chest. In his mind's eye Sammy was leading his trusty
bluecoats to the arrest of a gang of counterfeiters whom he had
tracked to their bidden lair.

As June passed the three she glanced casually into the faces of
the policemen, and as her eyes met those of one of them it required
every ounce of her self-control to hide both her surprise and
terror.

It was Doarty.

A very suave and gracious Mr. Stickler laughed and chatted with
the two policemen, purchased ten tickets to the benefit with John
Secor & Co.'s money, and passed out a handful of John
Secor & Co.'s cigars. As the two were about to leave, one of them
turned to Mr. Stickler.

"How long have you had Maggie Lynch in your employ?" he asked.

"Maggie Lynch?" repeated Mr. Stickler. "We have no one by that
name on our pay-roll."

"Well, then," said Mr. Doarty, "the young woman who came out of
your office just before we came in?"

"Oh," said Mr. Stickler, "that is Miss Lathrop--Mr. Secor's
private stenographer."

"Do you know anything about her?" asked Mr. Doarty, "or don't you
want to?"

"Why, she seems to be all right," said Mr. Stickler. "But we know
nothing about her other than that she had satisfactory references
from former employers."

"Did she bring one from Abe Farris?" asked Doarty with a grin.

"Abe Farris?" exclaimed Mr. Stickler, and there was a little
choking sound in his voice that entirely escaped the wily Mr.
Doarty.

"Sure," said he, and then he leaned down and whispered into Mr.
Stickler's ear for a moment."--and," he concluded, "I just thought
that maybe Mr. Secor might like to know the training his private
secretary has had in the past--you'd better keep an eye on her. Good
day, and much obliged to you for taking those tickets."

It was not until nearly five o'clock that June's buzzer rang
again, summoning her to Mr. Stickler's office. Already the force in
the outer office was preparing to depart for the day. Mr. Stickler
wished to dictate an "important letter," though to June, after he had
commenced it it seemed rather too trivial for an overtime
epistle.

For fifteen minutes Mr. Stickler dragged out his monotonous
dictation. Then he rose and went to the door of his office. All had
departed--the office was empty. He returned to his desk.

"Miss Lathrop," he said, "I have always liked you--in fact, I have
grown very fond of you since you have been with us. I have been
thinking that I must ask Mr. Secor to increase your salary; but
before I do so I should like to feel that we are good friends--very
good friends indeed, for only in connection with the most harmonious
relations may we work together to the best advantage."

June was at a loss to guess what the man might be driving at. All
she knew was that she did not like the sly expression of his little,
close-set eyes, or the familiar manner in which he was hitching his
chair closer to hers.

"I am afraid that I do not quite understand you," she said, her
tone respectful, but cold and keen as a razor edge.

"I mean," said Mr. Stickler, "that I would like to see more of you
outside of business hours--it will mean a lot to you in the way of
advancement," he hastened to add as be saw the steely glitter that
leaped to her eyes at his words.

June Lathrop rose. Mr. Stickler realized that never before had be
seen any one quite so majestic, or quite so beautiful.

"Fortunately," she said, "Mr. Secor will return to-morrow.
Otherwise I should leave at once. I shall not work another day in the
same office with you, and to-morrow I shall give you an hour after
Mr. Secor returns to tell him precisely what has passed between us in
this office, then I shall go to him with my resignation and tell him
myself."

Mr. Stickler went white with fear. He knew that the girl would do
just what she threatened--unless--He glared at her and caught at the
one straw that could save him.

"What else will you tell him?" he asked. "What else will Maggie
Lynch tell Mr. Ogden Secor?"

It was June's turn to pale. Stickler saw the color leave her face
and took advantage of the point in his favor.

"Come," he said, "be a good fellow. I don't want to be hard on
you, and I'll forget all I know about Maggie Lynch and her job at Abe
Farris's if you'll treat me right. Let's forget we've had any
unpleasantness. We'll go over to the Bismark and have a bite to eat
and talk it over. Come on, little one, be a sport!"

The sneer on the girl's lip was sufficient reply to Mr. Stickler's
suggestion. As she turned her back upon him and moved toward the door
he sprang to his feet.

"Very well," he shouted, "I'll teach you. You're fired--do you
understand? You're fired. I won't have any fast woman in this office,
and if you show your face around here again I'll have Officer Doarty
waiting for you."

June made no reply. Quietly she gathered up her personal
belongings and left the office. When she had gone, Mr. Stickler
banged to the office door and strode angrily toward the
elevators.

No sooner had he left than a very pale and shaky Sammy emerged
from beneath the sanitary filing-case in Mr. Stickler's office. He
was "frightened stiff "; but with a grim determination that was
upborne by a glorious enthusiasm he set forth to "shadow" Mr.
Stickler.



CHAPTER IX. "UNCLEAN-UNCLEAN!"

OGDEN SECOR, stopping over at South Bend on his return from New
York, arrived in town late in the evening of the day that had
witnessed June's discharge. His chauffeur met him at the Lake Shore
station, and together they drove down Jackson Boulevard to Michigan
Avenue.

As the car swung to the north into the broad thoroughfare along
the lake, Secor glanced up mechanically at the windows of his offices
in the Railway Exchange, as he had done upon countless other
occasions that he had passed the building.

To his surprise he saw that the rooms were lighted. It was past
the hour that the janitor's assistants ordinarily cleaned his
suite.

"Stickler," he thought. "He must be working on something of
importance tonight. Pull up here, Jim!" to the chauffeur. "I'll run
across to the office a minute before I go home."

For years Ogden Secor had entered his private office through a
doorway that opened directly off the main corridor. The custom had
become so strong a habit that to-night he passed the main entrance of
the well-lighted outer office, unlocked the door to his own unlighted
office and entered, noiselessly, upon the soft, heavy rug that
covered the floor.

A moment later he had crossed to the door that opened into the
main office. Scarcely had he swung the door partially aside than his
attitude of careless ease gave place to one of tense excitement.
Directly across the office from him, with their backs toward him, two
men bent to the combination of the great safe.

Secor's first impulse was to rush in upon them before they should
damage the expensive and intricate mechanism of the lock with the
charge of nitro-glycerine he imagined they were preparing to
detonate; but as he took a step forward he suddenly realized that one
of the men was turning the combination knob while the other read off
the figures to him from a little slip of paper.

They had the combination. Where could they have obtained it? Only
Stickler, Miss Lathrop and himself knew it. He looked at the men
closely--he did not remember ever having seen either of them
before.

Presently the door of the safe swung open, and Secor saw him who
had manipulated the knob reach directly and without hesitation for
the inner drawer that contained, ordinarily, a considerable quantity
of negotiable paper. He waited to see no more.

Without a sound he ran quickly across the office, his only weapon,
a light walking stick, swinging in his right hand. The first that
either of the cracksmen knew that they were not alone in the office
was the sudden and painful descent of the walking stick across be
back of the head of one of them.

What happened after that happened rapidly--and almost
noiselessly.

Two hours later Jim, the chauffeur, commenced to wonder if his
employer had fallen asleep up there in his office. The North-East
wind from off the lake was chill and penetrating. For another half
hour Jim walked up and down the deserted sidewalk in a vain attempt
to keep warm.

He had about decided to go up to the office and politely remind
his employer that it would soon be time to breakfast when be heard a
shot, apparently from the rear of the Railway Exchange across the
street. The shot was immediately followed by hoarse shouts, and the
sound of running men, and then another shot.

Almost immediately after the second shot Jim saw a man run out of
Jackson Boulevard across Michigan Avenue toward Grant Park. He
reached the center of the street only to crumple suddenly into a
little heap. Behind him came a uniformed watchman, and presently a
little crowd gathered.

"Caught him trying to make his getaway through the alley,"
explained the watchman to a city policeman who, attracted by the
shots, had run over from Wabash Avenue. "There was another guy with
him, but he broke in the opposite direction and got away. They'd been
up to something in the Railway Exchange."

Instantly Jim thought of his employer and the unaccountably long
stay he had been making in his office. Could these men have been the
cause of his detention? Turning at the thought, he ran across the
street and into the building.

At first the night elevator-man was disinclined to take him up;
but when be explained who he was and what his fears, the man not only
carried him aloft but accompanied him to the office of John Secor
& Co.

Here they found the door to the main office ajar, and within, upon
the opposite side of the room in front of the open safe, the
unconscious form of Ogden Secor. His head and face were covered with
blood--even a casual glance proclaimed the fact that he had been
terribly beaten. An ambulance from St. Luke's bore Ogden Secor to the
hospital. It was late the following morning before the physicians
would permit any one to enter his room, and then only after the
greatest insistence on the part of their patient.

Miss Welles and the Rev. Mr. Pursen were the first to come. They
were closely followed by Mr. Stickler, for whom Secor had sent. Mr.
Stickler entered, white and shaky. It was quite evident that the
accident to his employer had been a terrible shock to him.

Mr. Stickler had read an account of the daring robbery in his
morning paper. He had known that Ogden Secor lay at St. Luke's
hospital; but he had paced up and down his office for two hours
before receiving Secor's summons to his bedside. Even then he had put
off the ordeal for another half hour--surely Mr. Stickler's must have
been a most sympathetic temperament, which shrank from the sight of
the mangled countenance of his employer!

Before he started for the hospital he used the telephone.

"Is Officer Doarty there?" he asked, when he had obtained his
connection.

"Hello, Mr. Doarty. You've read of what happened to Mr. Secor last
night?

"And did you notice that the fellow they got--the one who was
wounded--has been recognized as an habitué of Abe Farris's?
Yes, and do you remember what you told me about that Lynch girl
yesterday? Did you know she knew the combination to the safe? Sure; I
thought of that right away.

"Yes, you bet. Wait a minute--I've got it here in my file. Here it
is--Calumet Avenue," and he gave a number, "she's rooming there.
You'd better hurry. You'll be lucky if she hasn't left town
already.

"What? Oh, I don't know yet--I've been too upset to figure it up,
but it must have been close to twenty-five thousand dollars. No,
bring her right to the hospital--I'll be there. All right.
Good-by."

Half an hour later Mr. Stickler, on tiptoe and hat in hand,
approached the bedside of his wounded chief. On his face was an
expression of funereal sorrow.

"This is terrible," he murmured huskily.

"Well," said Secor with a wan smile, "they didn't quite get me,
though it wasn't any fault of theirs that they didn't. Have you
discovered just what they got away with, Stickler?"

Mr. Stickler hemmed and hawed. Evidently the answering of that
question was one he dreaded.

"Why, I'm not quite sure yet, Mr. Secor," he said at last; "but
there was, unfortunately, a considerable amount of negotiable
securities as well as currency in the safe last night. You see, we
had an exceptionally large pay roll on two big jobs for to-day, and
we had drawn the cash yesterday because to-day, being Saturday, and a
short day, we wanted to have everything in readiness to pay off
promptly at noon."

"We've never been in the habit of doing that, Mr. Stickler," was
Secor's only comment. "But come, how much did they get?"

"Close to twenty-five thousand dollars," whispered Mr. Stickler,
and that it cost him an effort to say it was apparent to those about
the bedside as well as to the injured man.

"But I think we'll get it all back," Mr. Stickler hastened to add.
"They caught one of the fellows, and Doarty--of the detective
bureau--telephoned me this morning that he expected to make an arrest
within a few hours of the principal in the case."

"Good," exclaimed Secor. "But I cannot imagine who it could have
been, or how they obtained the combination to the safe. Do you
suspect any one in the office, Stickler?"

"I'd rather not say just yet, Mr. Secor," replied Stickler,
"though I have my suspicions. When Doarty comes I think he will bring
a big surprise along with him."

"It must have been through the connivance of some one in the
office that they obtained the combination," said Miss Welles.

Mr. Pursen nodded. In the back of his brain an almost dead memory
was struggling toward the light. Somehow it was inextricably confused
with recollection of the face of Ogden Secor's stenographer, and a
haunting, though vague, conviction that he had met the girl before
and under no pleasant circumstances.

A moment later there came a knock upon the door. Mr. Pursen
crossed the room and opened it, admitting a young woman and a large
man. One glance at the latter would have been all sufficient to
identify him to one city bred. There is something about the usual
plain clothes man--whether his build, his carriage, or the way be
wears his clothes, is difficult to say--that tags him almost as
convincingly as would a uniform.

"Ah, Mr. Doarty, good morning," purred Mr. Pursen. He recognized
June with an inclination of his head--very slight indeed.

The girl crossed directly to Secor's side.

"Oh, Mr. Secor," she exclaimed, her voice trembling with emotion.
"It is awful. I had not seen a paper this morning and did not know
until Mr. Doarty came for me, and told me."

She did not say what else Mr. Doarty had told her, principally by
innuendo. Self was forgotten in the real affliction she felt at sight
of her employer's pitiable condition. Secor looked up at her, his
old, pleasant smile lighting his features.

"Oh, I guess it's not so bad," he said. "They ought to have me out
of here in no time."

Miss Welles came closer to the bedside. Instinctively she guessed
why Doarty had brought the girl here. Secor alone seemed to realize
no connection between Mr. Stickler's recent hint and the coming of
June Lathrop with the plain clothes man.

Doarty crossed the room to June's side, laying a heavy hand upon
her arm.

"None of the soft stuff, Mag," he said roughly; "cut it out."

Secor looked up at the man in surprise, a frown crossing his
face.

"What is the meaning of this?" he asked. "Miss Lathrop is my
secretary. There has been nothing in her manner at all offensive--to
me."

"I guess you don't know who she is, Mr. Secor," said Doarty. "Her
name ain't Lathrop--it's Lynch, Maggie Lynch, and when I first seen
her she was an inmate of Abe Farris's joint on Dearborn."

Secor looked at June questioningly. There was an expression of
disbelief in his eyes. The girl dropped her own before his steady
gaze.

The horror of it! If he could know--if Ogden Secor of all other
men on earth could but know the truth--the truth that not even the
shrewd Mr. Doarty had guessed.

At the voicing of the name Maggie Lynch, the Rev. Mr. Pursen
stepped suddenly forward. The mists had been swept from his memory.
As distinctly as it had been yesterday he recalled the humiliation
that this girl had put upon him before the representatives of several
of the city's great dailies. Even now he flushed at the memory of the
keen shafts of ridicule that had resulted, and which had made the
papers of the following day such frightful nightmares to him.

"Don't you remember her, Mr. Secor?" he cried. "She's the woman we
tried so hard to help, and who ignored our godly efforts."

Mr. Secor remembered. He recalled the scene within the Grand jury
room, and in the antechamber without. And he recalled many other
things of which the others knew nothing--the intelligence and the
loyalty of the girl since she had been in his employ. He remembered
the several occasions upon which her tact or judgment had saved him
from severe losses. He thought of the pleasure that he had always
experienced in taking up the day's work since June Lathrop had been
with him--something that he had never realized until that moment--and
something of a dull ache oppressed his heart with the sudden
knowledge that it was all over.

He had always thought of her merely as a part of the office force.
He had never for a moment considered her in any other light than a
faithful and almost flawless stenographer--nor did he now; yet there
was a distinct sensation of personal loss accompanying the knowledge
that he could now no longer employ her in so intimate a capacity as
that of private secretary. His Puritanical prudery was too deeply
ingrained to permit even a thought to the contrary.

To him, so far as his own personal association with such a person
was concerned, the girl was as good as damned. He would as easily
have considered consociation with a leper, though he would have been
equally as willing to have helped either one or the other in any
other way that did not require him to come into contact with
them.

"What did you bring her here for?" he asked wearily. "There has
been nothing in her deportment since she has been in my employ but
what was entirely proper. It seems unnecessary that she should be
subjected to this humiliation."

"Her deportment in the office may have been all right," spoke up
Mr. Doarty, "but we don't know so much what she was doin' with her
time after office hours."

Mr. Stickler nodded his head portentously.

"You see, Mr. Secor," went on the plain-clothes man, "one of the
guys that slugged you hangs out at Abe Farris's saloon, an' I seen
Mag here, not so long ago, feedin' up in a beanery with another crook
that hangs out at Farris's--Eddie the Dip's his name," and Doarty
shot a sudden look in June's direction in time to see the quick
intake of her breath in consternation and surprise.

"We got a drag-net out for Eddie now, an' when we get him I guess
we'll have all three of 'em,'' concluded Mr. Doarty. He was very
proud of this piece of police work of his.

"What has Miss Lathrop to do with it?" asked Secor. "She did not
slug me."

"She knew the combination to your safe didn't she?" asked
Doarty.

During the conversation June was aware that Miss Welles had drawn
away from her, casting such a look of horror and disgust in her
direction as might have withered her completely could looks
wither.

Mr. Pursen, too, stood coldly aloof, while Stickler looked
nervously down into Michigan Avenue from the window of the room, not
once meeting the girl's eyes squarely.

Ogden Secor half raised himself upon his elbow. He looked straight
into June Lathrop's eyes, and hers met his, as level and
unflinching.

"Miss Lathrop," he said, in a very quiet voice, "are you in any
way responsible for the rifling of the safe--tell me the truth."

The girl's eyes never left his for a moment. Her reply was but a
single word, delivered without emphasis, in a very ordinary tone.

"No," she said.

Secor sank back upon his pillow.

"That is all," he said, "you may go."

The doctor had just entered the room.

"You may all go!" he cried in a petulant voice. "I am surprised,
Miss Castrol," to the nurse, "that you should have permitted
this--come, get out, all of you."

Doarty came closer to the bed.

"You wish this woman held, of course?" he asked.

"Has any complaint been lodged against her?" asked Secor.

"Not yet."

"There will be none--you may let her go," said Secor.

Doarty looked his surprise, and seemed on the point of arguing,
when the doctor placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Quick!" said the physician. "Get out of here, or I cannot be
responsible for the recovery of this patient."

June took an impulsive step toward the injured man.

"How can I thank you for believing in me?" she cried.

With a weary sigh Ogden Secor turned away from her--he made no
reply. The doctor led her to the door.

"Leave the room," he said.

Outside were those who had preceded her from the apartment. Mr.
Pursen was the first to speak. He pointed toward the elevator.

"Leave the hospital at once," he said.

Her eyes filled with unshed tears, the girl walked quickly down
the hall. At the elevator stood Doarty.

"You'd better beat it, Mag," he said.

"This town's too wicked for an innocent girl like you," and from
his tone she knew that he meant it--that much of it which warned her
to leave the city.



CHAPTER X. "RATS DESERT--"

For a long month Ogden Secor lay at St. Luke's. Surgeons pulled
their whiskers, glaring owl-like at the patient the while they
wondered why the deuce nature had not come to their rescue. At last
she did--to some measure at least--and he was bundled off home, weak
and broken.

They advised him to seek change and rest in a long ocean voyage;
but he felt that his business, already long neglected, needed him.
Not that he longer found the old keen delight in anticipation of
strenuous coping with the storms and buffetings of the commercial
world, but rather that habit drove him to it.

He found conditions in a frightful muddle. No one seemed to know
what had been transpiring in the office--Stickler least of all. Secor
did not deem it necessary to question Sammy--it had been better for
him had he done so.

One of his first inquiries was for Miss Lathrop. Mr. Stickler
looked at him in surprise.

"Why, I discharged her, Mr. Secor," he said. "You certainly cannot
mean that you would have cared to continue her in our employ after
learning the reputation she bore?"

"'Reputation'?" repeated Secor, "I do not quite grasp you, Mr.
Stickler."

Mr. Stickler explained. It soon became evident to him that there
was something radically wrong with his employer. There was a blank
look of utter incomprehension upon Ogden Secor's face.

"It is odd," he said at last, "that I do not recall any of the
incidents which you relate. You are quite sure, Stickler?"

"Quite sure, Sir."

As day succeeded day Ogden Secor realized more and more fully what
an unusual secretary Miss Lathrop had been. He no longer mentioned
her to Mr. Stickler, but he missed her very much, just the same. At
times he recalled with a start the things that Stickler had told him
about the girl's past, and then he would realize that after all it
would have been impossible to have retained her. It was too bad, he
thought; too bad--such secretaries as she were scarce.

As to Stickler's assertion that she had connived with the
cracksmen, furnishing them the combination to the safe, Secor would
not believe it.

Months rolled by. September came again. Long since Mr. Stickler
had realized that his chief's memory was far from what it had been
prior to the injuries he had received at the hands of the burglars.
Ogden Secor, too, had guessed at something of the sort. He seemed to
have lost his grasp. His usually alert mind was no longer equal to
the emergencies that were constantly arising in his business.

Not only did he find it more and more difficult to close
contracts, but those that he did obtain netted him losses now instead
of the profits of the past. There was a leak somewhere, but Ogden
Secor was not mentally fit to discover it.

Matters went from bad to worse. His losses on the year's work
entailed the necessity of mortgaging the bulk of his real-estate
holdings to complete a large public works contract in a neighboring
city. Unable longer to concentrate his mind upon the work in hand, it
ran completely away with him. Stickler assumed more and more the
direction of it.

High prices were paid for inferior material, and for large amounts
that were never delivered. Where the difference went the books of the
corporation did not show, and if they had it is doubtful if Ogden
Secor's waning mentality would have been able to understand that he
was being persistently and systematically betrayed and robbed.

The final blow came when the engineers of the city for which the
work was being done refused to accept it on the grounds that scarcely
any of the material used was up to specifications. Coincidentally Mr.
Stickler resigned his position with John Secor & Co., to accept the
management of a stronger competitor.

An expensive lawsuit followed the refusal of the municipality, for
which the work had been done, to pay the bill. In the end Secor lost.
Bankruptcy proceedings followed, and on the first of the following
February Ogden Secor found himself a ruined man--almost penniless,
and broken as well in health and mentality.

With the exception of a worthless and barren farm in Idaho and a
few articles of clothing, he had disposed of everything he possessed
in an endeavor to meet the demands of his creditors. The farm, too,
would have gone with the rest had he recalled the existence of
it.

During the past few months of mental and nervous stress Secor had
seen but little of Sophia Welles. He had not felt equal to the rounds
of social activity which constituted her life, nor had he found her
generously sympathetic.

Now that the end had come he sought her, hoping against hope that
the ubiquitous Mr. Pursen would not be present. To his relief he
found Sophia Welles alone.

She did not need the evidence of his tired and haggard face to
realize the demand that might presently be made upon her sympathy and
generosity--she had but just laid aside the noon edition of an
afternoon paper in which she had perused the last of the rapidly
dwindling references to a failure that had at first occupied a large
part of the front pages of many editions. Sophia Welles knew at last
that Ogden Secor was a hopelessly ruined man.

There was but one thing to do--she must forestall him.

"I am glad that you have come to-day, Ogden," she said, after a
brief exchange of greetings. "For almost a year now I have had a
great load weighing heavily upon my shoulders."--Miss Welles did not
say upon her heart--"and I am only sorry that I did not speak of it
long ago, for I can only too well realize the motives that may now be
unjustly attributed to me in pressing the subject at this time of
temporary financial trouble in which you find yourself.

"To be quite frank, I discovered long since that my affections
were surely directing themselves toward another. I should have told
you at once, but I was not sure at first, and I dreaded causing you
useless pain."

She paused. Secor looked at her through dull eyes. It was evident
that he was going to take it much harder than she had supposed.

It is true that not once since his accident had he spoken to her
of their engagement. There had never been much in the way of
sentimental exchanges between them, so that the absence of these had
aroused little or no surprise in the girl's mind. She was glad now
that it had been so, for it was going to make a difficult job much
less difficult than it would otherwise have been.

Yet it was going to be hard enough--she could see that. She
wondered why he didn't say something.

Finally he coughed--a slight flush mounting his pale face.

"I am quite sure, Sophia," he said, "that I shall always be most
satisfied with what brings you the greatest happiness."

She noted the puzzled expression on his face, attributing it to a
natural desire to learn who had supplanted him in her affections.

"I feel," she explained, "that we are not exactly suited to one
another--our ideals are not the same. You do not find interest in
that which interests me most, and so it seems to me that as there may
never be any deep-rooted common interest between us that we should
soon be most unhappy together."

The puzzled expression seemed to have been growing upon the
handsome face of Mr. Ogden Secor.

"Yes," he breathed, "I fear that you are quite right."

"Mr. Pursen, on the contrary," went on Miss Welles, "feels
precisely as I do upon the subjects that are closest to my
heart--they are the same that are closest to his. In fact, Ogden, I
am going to ask you to release me from my engagement to you."

Involuntarily Ogden Secor's mouth opened but whether in surprise
or because of a terrible shock to his love and pride it would have
been difficult to say. Miss Welles attributed it to the latter. At
last he found words.

"My dear Sophia," he said, "you know perfectly well that if you
love Mr. Pursen I shall be the last person on earth to stand in the
way of your realizing to the full every happiness that may be found
at his disposal. I congratulate you, Sophia--sincerely--and I beg
that you will give no further thought to me other than as a friend
and well-wisher."

"You are very generous, Ogden," she said, as she bade him good-by,
glad that the ordeal was so easily over.

It would have been a much surprised Miss Welles could that young
lady have read Ogden Secor's thoughts as he ran down the broad steps
before her home and made his way to the nearest elevated station.

"And to think," thought he, "that for over a year I have been
engaged to Sophia Welles without once recalling the fact! Those
cracksmen most assuredly cracked something belonging to Ogden Secor
beside his safe."

It was with a feeling of relief and elation that he had not felt
before for months that he strode along the street. Evidently the
obligation of his engagement had been weighing upon him heavily
through the medium of his subconsciousness without his having once
objectively sensed other than an inexplicable call to duty that had
drawn him to Sophia Welles when he gladly would have been
elsewhere.

As he walked toward the elevated he tried to recall under what
circumstances he had become engaged to Miss Welles. As he viewed the
matter now it was difficult to realize that any possible contingency
could have arisen that would have caused him to look with tender
affection upon the cold and calculating Sophia.

The loss of his fortune affected Ogden Secor less than might have
been expected. Possibly he did not fully realize the completeness of
his financial ruin, or what it was bound to mean to him. In a way he
felt principally a certain relief from the galling pressure and
annoyances of the past bitter year. No longer was he weighted with
burdensome responsibilities and grave apprehensions--the worst had
happened. There was no further calamity possible--at least so he
thought.

Vaguely he felt that he could again build up a fortune equal to
that which was gone; but there was none of the old-time assurance and
determination that had marked him in the past--it seemed quite
impossible for him to concentrate his mind for a sufficient length of
time upon the subject to formulate even the foundation of a
well-considered plan.

He sought out old friends upon whose business acumen he might rely
with the intention of talking over his plans with them, for at last,
and the first time in his life, Ogden Secor felt unequal to the task
of reasoning for himself, much less deciding in any matter of
importance.

The first man to whom he went was the president of a bank of which
Secor was still a director, and with which he had transacted the bulk
of his banking business. The president was an old personal friend, a
man of about Secor's own age, a member of the same clubs and the same
set. Heretofore he had been wont to drop whatever had been engaging
him and come into the anteroom to greet Secor whenever he had chanced
to call. To-day the caller waited thirty minutes before the bank
president appeared.

"Well, Secor," he said, "what can I do for you?" Heretofore it had
always been "Ogden." There was an unquestionable air of haste in his
manner, too; nor did he take Mr. Secor familiarly by the arm and drag
him into his luxurious private office as formerly. It was just:
"Well, Secor, what can I do for you?"

Those who are congenitally inefficient are prone to sensitiveness,
and the same is often true of men who, through illness or
preposterous circumstance, find themselves temporarily unfit to cope
with the stern demands of modern success building. Supersensitiveness
ofttimes begets a preternatural and almost uncanny ability to sense
the secret motives underlying the acts of others.

Ogden Secor had never been over-sensitive. Until now he had not
appreciated the fact that there could possibly be any material
difference in the Ogden Secor of yesterday and the Ogden Secor of
to-day. He had never gaged men by their bank accounts, so it is not
strange that he should have been unsuspecting that any might have
gaged him by such a standard.

The words and manner of the bank president, however, awoke him
violently and painfully, for Ogden Secor was now, whatever he might
have been in the past, an inefficient, and, accordingly, a
supersensitive.

"There is nothing that you can do for me, Norton," he said. "I
just dropped in for a chat. You're busy, though, and I won't detain
you." He turned to go.

"I am mighty busy to-day," replied the bank president, a trifle
more cordially. "Come in again some time, won't you?"

"Thanks," replied Secor.

When he reached the street he found himself cold all over--cold
with a heart-coldness with which the bleak February northeaster had
nothing to do. He did not venture to call upon another friend.
Instead he dropped into a bar on La Salle Street and took a stiff
drink of whisky. It was the first time he had done that for a longer
time than he could recall.

The drink warmed him, sending an intoxicating, if artificial,
renewal of hope and confidence surging through him. He took
another.

There was a genial stranger drinking alone at the same bar. He
commented upon the severity of the storm. Ogden Secor, friends with
all the world now, entered into conversation with him.

"Wish I was back in Idaho," remarked the stranger, "where I could
get thawed out and see that the sun was doing business at the same
old stand."

Idaho! It awakened something in Secor's memory.

"I thought that it was usually pretty cold there," he said.

"Not where I come from," replied the stranger. "I got a little
fruit-ranch down in the South-Western corner of the State. Greatest
little climate in the world, sir; never gets anywheres near zero; and
sunshine! Why, man, you ain't got a bowin' acquaintance with old Sol
back here. Three hundred and sixty days of sunshine out of every
three hundred and sixty-five."

Secor smiled. "You remind me of the boosters of sunny southern
California," he laughed.

"Don't," said the Idahoan, raising a deprecating hand. "What I'm
tellin' you is the truth."

"What part of Idaho did you say you are from?" asked Secor.

"'Bout ten miles south of Goliath. Goliath's a division
headquarters on the Short Line."

"Goliath," repeated Secor. "Why, I've got a ranch around there
somewhere myself--took it on a trade years ago and forgot all about
it. One hundred and sixty acres, I think it was."

"Sort o' funny for a man to forget a hundred-and-sixty-acre
ranch," remarked the stranger a bit skeptically.

During the following week Ogden Secor drank a great deal more than
was good for him, or for any man. Several times he met old
acquaintances on the streets. Ever eager now to discover changes in
the attitude of former friends, he was quick to note the seeming
coldness of their greetings, and the remarkable stress of
unprecedented business which invariably hurried them along.

After each encounter he sought the nearest bar. His mind was much
occupied with thoughts of his forgotten ranch, and when a summons to
his attorneys' offices revealed the fact that the final settlement
with his creditors would leave him with several hundred dollars of
unexpected wealth, he obtained an advance from them, purchased a
ticket for Goliath, Idaho, and shook the grimy snow of the Loop from
his feet--he hoped forever.



CHAPTER XI. A MATTER OF MEMORY.

FROM La Salle Street to Goliath Idaho, is ordinarily a matter of
some two days' travel; but it required the best part of a year for
Ogden Secor to perform the journey.

On the train he had become acquainted with an alert and plausible
stranger who owned a gold mine in the mountains north of Ketchum. All
that was needed for development was a few hundred dollars' worth of
machinery and flumes--then it would make its owners fabulously
wealthy.

By the time the train reached Shoshone, Ogdon Secor was inoculated
with the insidious virus of gold-fever--that mad malady which races
white-hot through the veins of its victims, distorting every mental
image and precluding the sane functioning of the powers of
reason.

In possession of all his faculties at their best, Secor could
never have been trapped so easily; but what with weakened mental and
physical powers--the result, primarily, of the work of the cracksmen,
and later of the effects of alcohol, he fell an easy prey to the
highly imaginative enthusiasm of his new acquaintance.

And so it befell that he left the train at Shoshone, and in
company with the owner of the gold mine, boarded another for Ketchum,
the northern terminus of the branch line.

Ketchum is, or at that time was, a squalid wreck of a place; but,
like every other settlement of its stamp it boasted several saloons.
To one of these the mine-owner led his victim. Here they discussed
ways, means, and barbed-wire whisky until Secor passed over the few
hundred dollars remaining to him that his new partner might go forth
and purchase the necessary machinery and the outfit that was to
transport it and them North into the mountains on the morrow.

Secor, waiting, drank with the proprietor, with the loungers about
the place, and with others who drifted in scenting whisky at
another's expense.

Night came, and still the mine-owner had not returned--nor did he
ever.

Next morning Secor awoke, partially sobered, to a realization of
the truth. He had been fleeced. He was friendless and all but
penniless in a strange town; but, worst of all, his nerve was
gone.

The year that followed was a hideous nightmare of regret and
shame, the sole surcease from which was obtainable only through the
stupifying medium of drink.

Often times he was hungry, for there was little chance to earn
money in Ketchum. Again he did odd jobs about one or the other of the
several saloons when a flash of his waning self pride or the growing
desire for whisky goaded him to the earning of money.

Later he was given work as a clerk in the general store, his
knowledge of accounting proving of value to the proprietor. This man,
realizing that the continuous use of whisky would have no tendency to
increase the value of his new clerk, employed him with the
understanding that for six months he was to have but a small
percentage of his wages weekly--just enough after the store closed
Saturday night to permit of a mild orgy from which one might recover
over Sunday and be fit for work on Monday.

At the termination of the six months, Secor demanded the balance
of his accrued wage, and received it. Much to his employer's
surprise, he failed to spend it immediately for drink. Instead, he
did what he had been planning upon--took the first train south for
Shoshone and Goliath.

In his mind was a determination to seek his farm and be thereafter
independent of any employer. There was, too, the decision to stop
drinking; but little did the man realize the hold the sickness had
taken upon him.

Secor found Goliath a thriving town of three or four thousand
inhabitants. His first inquiry, notwithstanding his good resolutions,
was for a saloon, nor did he have any difficulty in locating
several.

The tiresome journey from Ketchum had given him far too much
leisure with only his own gloomy thoughts and vain regrets for
company.

A little drink would do no harm--then he would stop. He would
never touch it again; but just now his nerves required the stimulant.
Then, too, was it not a well-known fact that in too sudden a
cessation of the habit lay grave danger?

Ah, criminal fallacy! To you how many countless thousand graves
owe their poor, miserable inmates!

And so it happened that at dusk it was a far from sober man who
entered the Palace Lunch Room in time for the evening meal.

As he sat slouched down upon his stool, his befogged vision
struggling with the blurred and scrawly purple of the mimeographed
bill-of-fare, the girl waiting across the counter from him for his
order could scarce conceal the disgust she felt at his slovenly and
unkempt appearance. She could not see his face while his head was
bent low above the greasy card, but she knew that it must be equally
as repulsive as his soiled and disheveled apparel.

Who would have guessed that this object of the contempt of a cheap
lunchcounter waitress in a far Western railroad town could have been
the spotless Ogden Secor of two brief years ago?

Presently he looked up into the girl's face. At sight of his
features she gave a little involuntary gasp, stepping back at the
same time as though to avoid a blow.

"'Smatter?" asked Mr. Secor.

The girl eyed him intently for a moment, and then with a sigh of
relief forced a smile to her white lips. He had not recognized
her.

"Nothing," she said. "I'm taken that way occasionally."

"Heart?" asked Mr. Secor.

June Lathrop looked at Mr. Ogden Secor in silence for a
moment.

"I wonder," she said, half to herself. "I wonder if it is?"

He gave his order and ate in silence, occasionally casting a
furtive glance in the girl's direction. When she brought his dessert
he asked where he might find a comfortable hotel.

"I only just arrived," he explained, "and am not familiar with the
town." The meal had sobered him a bit, so that he could talk a trifle
more coherently.

As he ate his pie June stood in front of him, talking. She told
him where there was a room in a private family near by that he could
probably get. She was filled with wonder at the change that had taken
place in him. When his face was in repose the depth of sorrow that it
revealed touched her heart. In vain she looked for the one-time
radiant smile that had endeared Ogden Secor to many beside
herself.

Could it be possible that this was the fastidious society and
business man she had known but little more than two years since? It
was incredible.

"Are you going to remain here?" she asked.

"I guess so," he replied. "I have a ranch around here somewhere.
I've never seen it, but I'm going out to-morrow to have a look at it,
and if it's all right I'll settle here and go to ranching. Much doing
in that line?"

"Alfalfa and fruit ranches pay fairly well," she replied. "It
depends, of course, on several things--soil, water rights and--" she
hesitated--"the man who's ranching. Farming nowadays, you know, is
something of an exact science. To be successful a man must understand
that haphazard methods won't work."

"Can't a man learn?" he asked.

"Yes," she replied; "but even then he won't succeed if--" she
hated to say it, but oh, how she hated to see him as he was--"but
even then he won't succeed if he drinks."

Ogden Secor flushed. He was still far from having lost all
self-respect. Without another word he paid his check and walked out
of the lunch-room. It served him right, he thought, for having
entered into familiar conversation with a waitress.

The following morning he engaged a buck-board and a driver for the
trip to his ranch. A half hour's hunt through the records of the
county clerk's office sufficed to locate his tract.

As he was driving through town he told his guide to stop in front
of a saloon.

"We may get dry before the day's over," he explained with a grin
to the more than willing native--it would never do to stop too
suddenly.

As he stepped up to the bar and ordered a flask the words of the
waitress came suddenly to his mind: "--but even then he won't succeed
if he drinks." They seemed to take the keen edge off his appetite for
whisky, but he pocketed the bottle and soon was jogging along through
the stifling dust toward the only thing on earth that he might by any
twist of the imagination call home.

As they drove along, Secor tried to picture the rolling meadow
lands, the shady orchards, the broad, green fields of wheel-high,
sweet-scented alfalfa of his ranch. Never before had he given this
least valued of his possessions more than a passing thought, but now
that it seemed to offer him a peaceful haven of rest and quiet, and
utter seclusion from the world that he had known and come to hate, he
viewed it through a mind's eye that glorified and idealized. He could
scarce restrain his impatience with the slow, plodding team that
wallowed now through sand to their fetlocks, and again labored upward
toward the brow of a rough, lavastrewn bluff.

At last they came within sight of a broad, willow-fringed river.
Low islands, dense thicketed, clove the strong, swift current with
their sharp points. They might have been great, flat ships forging
their silent way toward the distant mountains of the northland and
whence the mighty river tumbled roaring downward for its
thousand-mile journey to the waters of the lesser stream that steals
its identity, onward to the sea.

All was greenish-gray or greenish-brown and all was sere and
desolate and cold. Here and there little patches of half-melted snow
lay in the shadows of the sage-brush that dotted the rolling flat
beside the river. Beyond, Secor could see a similar landscape upon
the other shore.

"It is farther than I thought," he said to his guide.

"That's mostly the way in Idaho," replied the man.

Secor was wondering how they were to cross that mighty torrent,
for it was evident that the ranch must be beyond the river--there
were no signs of habitation, no rolling meadow lands, no shady
orchards, no green alfalfa fields within his ken upon the river's
hither side. He realized, of course, that the season precluded a full
consummation of his dream, but there would at least be plenty to
suggest the beauties of the Spring and Summer when they should come
upon his home.

The guide drew rein upon a little knoll beside the river.

"Wanna get out?" he asked.

"What for?" questioned Secor.

"We're here."

Secor looked at him searchingly. Already the truth was learing at
him with a contemptuous grin.

"Is this it?" he asked, nodding his head in a half swing that took
in the surrounding desert.

"Yep," said the guide. "'Tain't much good. You ain't got no
water."

Secor laughed--a weary, mirthless laugh.

"Oh," he said, "I think it's a pretty good place."

"Whafor?" asked the guide in surprise.

"To take a drink," said Secor, pulling the flask from his
overcoat-pocket.

The guide grinned. "An' you don't need no water for that," he
said.

"No," replied Secor, "water'd spoil it."

For weeks Secor frequented the Q. P. saloon at Goliath, emerging
occasionally to eat and sleep. Every time he ate he was reminded of
the waitress at the Palace Lunch Room, but he didn't go there. He
wondered, when his mind was not entirely befogged by drink, why the
girl should cling so tenaciously to his memory, and what cause there
could be for the uncomfortable feeling that accompanied recollection
of her warning--for warning it evidently had been.

One night Secor was sitting in a stud poker game. The gentleman
next to him developed a crouching manner of inspecting his buried
card, placing his eye on a level with the table and barely raising
the corner of his own card. This permitted him to inspect Secor's
buried card at the same time. A dozen hands were dealt before Secor
discovered why he always won small pots and lost the large ones. Then
he saw that his worthy opponent not only looked at Secor's buried
card, but immediately thereafter passed obvious signals across the
table to a crony upon the other side.

At the following deal Secor did not look at his buried card at
all. He merely remained in on the strength of what he had in sight.
From the corner of his eye he saw that the sly one was becoming
nervous. Secor bad an ace and two deuces up--there was still one card
to be dealt.

At the betting, Secor raised for the first time, then, purposely,
he turned his head away from his cards and the man at his left to
take a drink that stood at his right band. He guessed what would
happen. When the drink was half way to his lips he turned suddenly to
the left to discover the sly one in the act of raising his, Secor's,
buried card to learn its identity.

Like a flash Secor wheeled, dashing his glass with its contents
full in the face of the cheater. With the same move he came to his
feet. The other whipped a revolver from beneath his coat. The balance
of the players scattered, and the loungers in the saloon ran for the
doorway or dived over the bar for the security its panels seemed to
offer.

If Secor had been a foot further away from his antagonist he would
doubtless have been killed. As it was his very proximity saved him.
There is no easier weapon to parry at close range than a firearm. The
slightest deviation of aim renders it harmless.

As the gun flashed beneath the electric light, Secor's left arm
went up to parry it as if it had been a clenched right fist aimed at
his jaw. The bullet passed harmlessly past him, and with the report
of the exploding cartridge his own right landed heavily upon the
point of the cheater's chin.

The man went backward over his chair, his head striking heavily
upon a massive pottery spittoon. Then he lay perfectly still.

Ogden Secor stood with wide eyes gazing at the prostrate form of
his antagonist--dazed. The bartender poked his head above the
sheltering breastwork of the bar. Seeing that the shooting appeared
to be over he emerged. His first act was to remove the gun from the
nerveless fingers of the supine man. Then he turned toward Secor.

"Got a gun?" he asked.

Secor shook his head negatively. A moment later the players and
the loungers returned to bend over the quiet form upon the floor.
With them came the sheriff and a doctor. The former, after
questioning the bartender, took Secor into custody, as several men
carried the injured gambler into a back room.

All night Ogden Secor sat sleepless in his bare cell. He was very
sober now, and the depths to which he had sunk were revealed to him
in all their appalling horridness. It was unthinkable, and yet it was
true--he, Ogden Secor, a participant in a drunken, saloon brawl!
To-morrow, or as soon as they should release him, he would seek out
the man he had struck and apologize to him, although he knew that the
fellow deserved all that he had got.

He was sorry now that the bullet intended for him had not found
him. It would have been better so, and infinitely easier than to go
on living the worthless, besotted life that he was surely headed
for.

About eight o'clock in the morning the sheriff entered the
corridor outside his cell.

"How's Thompson this morning?" asked Secor. Thompson was the name
of the cheater.

"I guess he's comfortable," said the officer with a grin. "He
ain't sent back for nothin'."

"Has he left town?" asked Secor.

"Yep," said the sheriff. "He's dead--you killed him."

Secor collapsed upon the hard bench at the side of his cell. He
felt as though some mighty hand had struck him heavily over the
heart. There was a look in his eyes that the sheriff had never seen
in the eyes of another of the many killers he had arrested during his
long years of service.

It was neither fear nor horror--the sheriff could not have
interpreted it, for he knew not to what heights pride of name, of
family, of station, birth, and breeding may lift a man above the
sordid crimes, nor how awful is the plunge from such a pinnacle to
the bottomless pit of shame which Ogden Secor's naked soul was
plumbing that instant.

"You needn't take it hard," said the sheriff kindly. "You hit him
in self-defence--there's half a dozen witnesses to that and to the
fact that you wasn't armed. It was hittin' the spittoon with the back
of his head that killed him. There ain't a jury in Idaho that'd find
you guilty. You'd ought to have a medal, for of all the ornery cusses
that ever struck Goliath that tin-horn was the most orneriest."

After the sheriff left him Ogden Secor sat with bowed head, his
chin resting in his palms. He was surprised that the thought that he
had killed a fellow man should not weigh more heavily upon him. It
was the debauching degradation that had led up to the killing that
caused him the most suffering.

The words of the waitress at the Palace Lunch Room came back to
him once more: "--but even then he won't succeed if he drinks." Well,
he wasn't succeeding in anything except getting rid of his little
store of money.

What in the world was there for him to succeed at, anyway? he
thought. If the ranch had been any good he would have pitched in
there and worked hard. There he could have led a decent life, and
earned a respectable living--he had no ambition for anything greater;
but the sight of the arid sage-brush wilderness which had dispelled
his dreams of fertile orchard, field, and meadow land, had so
discouraged him that, since, he had been able to see no brighter ray
than that which is reflected from the liquid fire that crossed the
bar of the Q. P. in sparkling glasses.

As he sat buried in vain regrets and sorrowful memories, weighed
down by thoughts of his utter friendlessness and loneliness, he
became aware of the presence of someone approaching his cell along
the short corridor.

Not sufficiently interested even to look up, he sat with eyes
riveted upon the cold, gray cement of his prison floor. It was not
until the footfalls halted before the bars of his cell that he raised
his eyes. With a little start of surprise he came to his feet. Before
him, smiling down into his face, stood the waitress of the Palace
Lunch Room.

He looked at her inquiringly.

"I thought," she said, "that you might be lonesome here--that
there might be something I could do for you."

If June Lathrop had required any reward for the generous impulse
that had sent her to Secor's side in the time of his adversity she
was amply repaid by the expression that lighted his face at her
words. He almost choked as he attempted to reply.

"And I was just thinking," he said, "how absolutely friendless I
am here. It is awfully good of you--I don't know how to thank you;
but really you ought not to be here. I'm not--not the sort of person
a decent girl should know."

To what awful depths of self-abasement must Ogden Secor have sunk
to voice such a sentiment as this! June felt the tears coming to her
eyes.

"You mustn't say that," she said. "The sheriff told me all about
it, and that you--it was in self-defence."

"It isn't that," said Secor. "It's that I was there at
all--gambling in a saloon--and drunk. Drunk! I should have thought
that would have killed whatever natural sympathy a woman might feel
for a man who had killed another, even in self-defence. And," he
continued, "do you remember the warning that you gave me the first
day that I was in Goliath?"

"Yes," she said, "but I didn't think that you would."

"I have, a hundred times," he said. "And wondered why I should.
I've wondered, too, what prompted you--did I seem as bad as that even
then--or what was it?"

She did not dare tell him. He looked at her closely for a
moment.

"Haven't I known you somewhere?" he asked.

She mustered all her courage. It was less on her own account that
she dreaded telling him than on his. To be befriended by her might
seem the last straw--the final depth below which there was no
sinking.

"My name is Lathrop," she said; "June Lathrop."

Secor shook his head. "No," he said, "I don't know you, but there
is something mighty familiar about your face."



CHAPTER XII. JUST THREE WORDS.

THE coroner's jury exonerated Secor. He was never brought to
trial. For two weeks he remained in jail waiting the action of the
grand jury. That body returned a no bill, and Ogden Secor stepped
once more into the world of freedom.

During the period of his incarceration June had visited him
daily. She felt, in a measure, a certain sense of obligation. This
man, by a smile and a pleasant word, had set her feet back into the
path of rectitude at a time when hope was gone from her life. She
could do no laess than exert what small influence she might wield to
lead him from the path toward which he was straying.

She was glad that he had not remembered her, or at least that he
had pretended that he did not. She was not sure which was the true
explanation of his non-recognition. As yet she had not guessed the
serious nature of the results that had followed his slugging at the
hands of the cracksmen.

Between the noon and evening meals June had a couple of hours to
herself, and it was at this period that she visited Secor in his
cell. He came to look forward eagerly to her coming--except for a few
of the Q. P.'s hangers-on, she was his only visitor.

It was June who brought him word of the grand jury's action. The
kindly sheriff, meeting her at the jail's door, as he himself was
bearing the news to the prisoner, told her that Secor was a free man,
and that she might carry the cheering message to him.

"I reckon he'd rather hear it from them pretty lips, anyway," he
added, winking knowingly.

June flushed. It had never occurred to her that any one might find
foundation for imagining the existence of tender sentiments between
herself and Ogden Secor in her daily visits to the prisoner. So it
was with an emotion akin to diffidence that she approached his cell
that day.

Secor received the news of his final exoneration without any show
of elation. June looked at him in surprise.

"Doesn't it make you happy" she exclaimed. "Why, I wanted to throw
up my hat and shout when the sheriff told me."

He shook his head. "Why should it make me happy?" he asked. "What
am I coming out to? Who cares whether I am in or out?" And then at
the hurt look which she could not hide, he exclaimed, regretfully:
"Oh, I didn't mean that exactly--I know that you care, and it means
everything to me to know that there is one good, kind heart in the
world; but, Miss Lathrop, your generosity would go out the same to a
yellow dog--but not your respect.

"You can't help being kind and sweet, for your soul is pure and
true--I can read it in your eyes; but even that can't blind you to
the bald and brutal fact of what I am--a drunken bum."

The bitterness of his tone turned the girl cold.

"And what am I coming out to" he went on. "I'm coming out to the
Q. P.--that 'll be the first place I'll head for. There is no other
place that I may go, and tonight I'll be drunk again."

She stretched her hand between the iron bars and laid her slim
fingers on the man's arm. Her eyes were dim with tears as she raised
them to his.

"Oh, don't," she pleaded, "please don't! You mustn't throw your
life away. Remember who you are--what you have been--what you may be
again. Oh, won't you promise me that you'll never touch it
again?"

The tear-filled eyes, the pleading voice, the touch upon his arm,
sent a sudden thrill through every fiber of Ogden Secor's being.
Never before had he realized half the beauties of the girl's face and
soul as revealed that instant as she pleaded with him for his own
honor.

He forgot that he was Ogden Secor--that she was a waitress in a
cheap lunchroom. Slowly his hand crept up until his fingers closed
upon hers. He leaned forward close to the intervening bars. There was
a light in his eyes that had never shone upon Sophia Weekes.

"June!" he whispered, his voice now husky with emotion. "I can
stop--I can do anything for your sake. June, I!--"

Like a flash the girl snatched her hand from his. Her fingers flew
across his lips as though to smother the word that he would have
spoken--it seemed almost like a blow.

"No!" she fairly shouted. "Oh, God, you don't know what you are
saying! Don't say it--don't think it. It is too awful!" and
pressing her clenched hands to her face she turned and almost ran
from the jail.

For a moment Secor stood as though stunned. He had seen the horror
mirrored in the girl's eyes--and he had placed the only
interpretation upon it that he could.

"God," he muttered as he sank to his hard bench, "have I sunk so
low as that?"

A few minutes later he was released from jail. He did not
hesitate. With long, eager strides he made straight for the Q. P.

For a month he scarce drew a sober breath. Then he landed in jail
again--this time as a plain "drunk"--he had been picked up from the
gutter by a town policeman.

June heard of it, and came to his cell early the next morning. He
met her look almost defiantly, but at the pain and sorrow in her face
his eyes wavered and fell.

"I shouldn't think you want to sully your name by coming to see
the town drunkard," he said; and then, bitterly, "I'd have stopped
for your sake even without your love. I don't blame you for that; but
you needn't have been so disgusted with the thought that I loved
you."

"You didn't think that?" she exclaimed.

"What else could I think? I read it in your expression."

"Oh, it wasn't that," she cried. "You must know that I couldn't
come to see you, or want so to help you, if I felt that way!"

"Then what is the reason? Why can't I tell you that I love you,
June?" he insisted. "Tell me."

"I can't," she said, "and you mustn't ask me to tell you."

She was close to the bars now, and again she laid her hand upon
his.

"I would do anything on earth for you, Ogden," she said, "except
let you love me. Why can't you let me help you to win back the
biggest thing you have lost--your self-respect? The rest will be easy
then, and when you have it once more you'll want to get down on your
knees and thank June Lathrop that she wouldn't let you fall in love
with a--waitress."

"Would it make you any happier?" he asked.

"It would make me happier than I had ever expected that I could be
again."

"I'll try," he said, "for your sake; but how am I to begin--what
is there for me to do?"

"Your ranch," she returned promptly. "You told me that you had a
ranch down near the river."

Secor laughed. "I went to see it when I first came out. It's
nothing but an unfenced sage-bush desert. No water, no fences, no
house--nothing."

"There's the river," she urged.

"And what can I do with the river?"

"With a shovel and a pan, you can get a living wage out of the
gravel anywhere along the river," she answered. "And you can live
clean and decent. You're making nothing here, and you're living like
a hog."

Ogden Secor flushed. The words stung him, and because they stung,
they did more to crystalize the good intentions that the girl's pleas
had aroused than would further pleading, for they awoke with him the
fast-dying flame of his self-respect.

"I'll do it, June," he said, "for your sake; but give me something
to hope for, if I succeed. Tell me that you may then listen to what
you won't listen to now."

"When you are back where you should be," she said, "I mean
physically, morally, and mentally, you won't care to have a waitress
hear you tell her that you love her."

"I'm not in love with a waitress, June; I've dared aspire to an
angel."

The police magistrate before whom Secor was arraigned had acquired
local celebrity through the success he had made of keeping Goliath
fairly free of bums and hoboes. The sheriff and the constabulary
worked with him. They arrested every undesirable stranger upon the
streets, and the judge forthwith put them back upon the streets,
padlocked to a long chain. There they worked out their sentences
until, released, they shook the dust of Goliath from their feet, nor
ever thereafter ventured within her limits.

To this good judge Mr. Ogden Secor looked like any other drunken
bum that was hailed before him. There was, it is true, that about the
cut of his disheveled clothes which proclaimed a one-time smartness;
but this rather militated against the defendant, for in it the judge
saw more sinister signs than mere worthlessness--Eastern crooks, he
knew, were ofttimes smartly clothed, or the man might have stolen the
apparel, which was more likely.

"Three days in the chain-gang," said the judge. "Call the next
case."

Before those three awful days were over, Ogden Secor was more
thoroughly sober than ever he had been in all his life--even in the
days that he did not drink. He worked with eyes bent upon the ground,
never once raising them. Through his mind ran four words--the words
of hope and encouragement that June Lathrop had spoken: "There's the
river." But now it was a grim and sinister interpretation that he put
upon them.

"There's the river!" He could scarce wait for the knocking of his
galling fetters from his ankle. "There's the river!" Yes, and there,
too, lay forgetfulness of the hideous humiliation of these frightful
days.

June Lathrop saw him in the chain-gang, as the motley crew worked
upon the streets of Goliath. She turned her head away lest he should
see that she had seen, and hurrying to her room, threw herself face
down upon the bed, sobbing. Her tears were for him, for the hideous
laceration of his pride that she could read in the bent head and the
stooping shoulders. He had looked like an old man, tottering to his
grave beneath a hopeless load of shame.

God, how it had hurt her! Yet by all the age-old traits that are
ascribed to humanity she, of all others in the world, should have
found sinister rejoicing in the suffering of this man. But instead,
there came to her for the first time a realization of the one thing
above all others that might make her life even more miserable than it
had been--she loved Ogden Secor.

She knew now that she had always loved him--since that day that he
had met her in the antechamber of the grand jury room. She saw now
why she had set herself the task of reclaiming him. She saw, too, why
she had experienced such horror at the thought of his voicing words
of love to her--it was because she had loved him, and because in all
the world of men and women, he and she had the least right to love
one another.

When Secor's time in the chain-gang was up, June was waiting for
him outside the jail.

Love had given her the power to read in the humiliation of the man
she loved something of the stern resolve that had found lodgment in
his mind. Intuitively she sensed what would be the first impulse of a
proud man weakened by dissipation and bowed down by humiliation.

She had been a "down-and-outer" herself. She had been on the verge
of the very thing she had guessed Secor to be contemplating--it had
come after that terrible morning at St. Luke's--but the memory of
Ogden Secor's kindness to her had stayed her hand.

Now she would repay him.

With head still bowed and eyes upon the ground he emerged from the
jail. When June fell in beside him, he did not look up, though he
knew that it was she--who else was there in all the world who would
be seen upon the public streets with him?

In silence they walked side by side through the little city, down
the dusty road toward the cool shadows of the tree-bowered brook that
winds along that pleasant valley.

Secor moved but with one thought in his mind--to get beyond the
sight of his fellow men. They came at last to the brim of the little
stream. There were no prying eyes about them.

June touched his hand gently where it hung at his side, and then
her cool fingers closed upon his.

"Ogden," she whispered.

He turned dull eyes upon her, as though for the first time
realizing her presence.

"What are you doing here?" he asked; and then, without waiting for
her reply, went on: "And you walked at my side through the
streets--through the hideous streets where I have worked with a chain
upon my ankle, fastened to vagabonds and criminals, and to--to
bums--to other bums like myself--drunken bums! Every one must have
seen you--Oh, June, how could you have done it?"

His thoughts now were all for her. There could have been nothing
better for his sick brain, nauseated with continual thinking of his
own shame.

"I must have been mad to let you do it," he went on. "Your friends
will jeer at you. They will link your name with that of Ogden Secor,
the town drunkard--"

She clapped her hand over his lips.

"You mustn't say that!" she cried. "I won't let you say it! You
are not that--you never could be that. You are making a mountain of a
molehill. It is not the man who falls who receives the censure of his
fellows; it's the man who falls and won't get up--who lies wallowing
in the filth of his degradation. The world admires the man who can
'come back'--it hates a quitter.

"You have told me that you love me." She was speaking rapidly, as
though everything in the world hinged upon the element of time. "You
have asked me to love you. Do you expect me to love a quitter? You
are thinking this minute of adding the final ignominy to your
downfall; you are thinking this minute, Ogden Secor, of taking your
own life. If I could love a quitter, do you think that I could love
a--coward?"

Beneath the lash of her words, the man within him awakened. His
shoulders straightened a bit. He looked her straight in the eyes for
the first time that day. He was trying to fathom her interest in him.
Presently he seemed to awaken; a sudden light dawned upon him. Hope
lightened the lines of his tired and haggard face. Not for months had
he looked so much like the Ogden Secor of the past.

He took the girl by the shoulders.

"June," he cried, "I have been trying to guess why you should have
done for me all that you have done. There can be but one reason. You
cannot deny it. Let me hear your lips speak what your acts have
proclaimed. Tell me that you love me, June, and I can win back to any
heights!"

She pushed him gently from her. Her heart ached to be pressed
close in the arms of the man she loved; yet she knew that it could
never be. If her love would save him, she had no right to deny it,
though she knew that such an avowal could bring nothing but misery
and shame to them both; there never could be any consummation of a
love between Ogden Secor and June Lathrop.

"I could not deny it now," she said at last, "and if it will help
you any to hear me say the thing I have no right to say, or that you
have no right to hear, I can do it for your sake; but beyond the
saying of it, Ogden, there can be nothing. That we must both
understand. Why, I cannot tell you--I dare not. Do not ask me."

"It will be enough for now," he said, "to hear you say it.
Afterward we shall find a way; love always does, you know."

And so she said the thing he wished to hear, nor never in all his
life had words sounded sweeter to Ogden Secor than those three from
the lips of the waitress from the Palace Lunch Room.



CHAPTER XIII. "FOR THE MURDER OF--"

FOR a year Ogden Secor toiled at his lonely camp beside the big
river.

His shovel and his pan and his crude rocker were his only
companions. With the little money that had remained to him after his
wasted days in Goliath he had purchased material and tools for the
construction of a frail shack on his land close to his placer
diggings, and had furnished it with such bare necessities as he could
afford.

Once a week he walked the ten miles that lay between his camp and
Goliath for a few hours with June Lathrop. These were red-letter days
for them both--the sole bright spots in their lonely lives peopled by
vain regrets.

At first lie had tried to wring from the girl an explanation of
her refusal to listen to a suggestion of their marriage; but finding
that the subject caused her only unhappiness, he desisted. The Q. P.
knew him no more during these days, and the change that was wrought
in him by abstinence and healthful, outdoor labor was little short of
marvelous. He grew to take a keen pleasure in his physical fitness,
and with renewed health of body came a return of his former mental
efficiency--what the surgeons, tinkering with his hurt skull, had
been unable to accomplish, nature did; slowly, it is true, but none
the less effectively.

As his vigor of mind increased, his memory returned in part, so
that he was constantly haunted by a growing conviction that
somewhere, some place far from Goliath, he had known June Lathrop,
and that she had been intimately associated with that other life that
was once again taking concrete form in his recollections.

Not that he had ever entirely forgotten his past, for he had not.
Rather, he recalled it as through a haze which confused and distorted
details so that he was never quite sure of the true identity of what
he saw back there in the years that were gone.

But after all else was plain the figure of the June Lathrop of the
past still remained little else than an intangible blur. There was
something needed to recall her more distinctly than his unaided
memory could do--nor was that thing to be long wanting.

The gold that Secor washed from the gravel of the old river bar
was barely sufficient to meet his daily needs. As a result his
ranch--he always laughed as he referred to the bit of sage-brush
desert as "my ranch"--was sold for taxes. The time was approaching
when, if he would regain it, he must act; but having no money, he was
forced to remain helpless as the time approached.

One day while he was in Goliath he mentioned the thing to
June.

"Of course the land is not worth the taxes," he said; "but somehow
I have grown attached to it--it's the only 'home' I have. I shall
hate to see it go, but I'll be as well off, I suppose."

"Not worth the taxes?" she exclaimed. "Why, Ogden Secor, where
have you been for the last six months? Didn't you know that the new
government reclamation project is at last an assured fact, and that
your land will jump from nothing an acre to something like a hundred
dollars an acre overnight?"

Secor looked at her blankly.

"I didn't know it came as far down river as my holdings," he
said.

"Why, your land is right in the center of it--there is every
chance in the world that the new town will be located there, and if
that happens you'll be wealthy."

He smiled ruefully.

"Not I," he said; "for I couldn't raise the money to redeem the
ranch if my life depended on it."

"How much is necessary?" she asked.

He told her. The next day, Monday, she drew her savings from the
bank and turned them over to Secor.

At first, when she had suggested this thing, he had refused
flatly, but after talking with several men who were well posted, he
had seen that there was no question but that the land would increase
in value immensely and that he should be able to repay June in the
near future.

The same day word came of the exact location of the proposed
town--it brought definite information to the effect that a large
portion of Secor's holdings would lie directly in the business center
of the town, and the balance on the gentle rise back from the river
that had been set apart for residential purposes.

June and Ogden were so elated they could scarcely contain
themselves. Nothing would do but that they must celebrate with a
dinner at the Short Line Hotel--the most pretentious hostelry of
Goliath. At first June demurred, but Ogden was insistent, and so she
asked for the afternoon and evening off.

They strolled together beside the little stream where he had wrung
from her lips an avowal of the love she had no right to harbor for
Ogden Secor. Once again he revived the subject that had long been
taboo, urging her to forget whatever to him unfathomable scruples
kept her from him; but she only shook her head sadly, and when he saw
how unhappy it made her he tried to drop the subject, though he found
it most difficult to drop.

As they approached the hotel where they were to hold their modest
celebration the Limited from the East lay along the platform, up and
down which the passengers were strolling. To reach the dining-room it
was necessary to walk past a part of the long line of Pullmans and as
they did so Secor was suddenly confronted by a trim little man with
outstretched hand.

"My dear Secor," he exclaimed, "what in the world are you doing
here? We have all wondered what could have become of you."

And then turning toward the open window of a drawing-room he
called, "Oh, Sophia, see whom I have discovered!"

Sophia Welles Pursen looked from the window--she and the Rev. Mr.
Pursen were on their bridal trip. She saw Ogden Secor and beside him
she saw another whom she recognized. Coldly she barely inclined her
head, turning away from the window immediately.

Then Mr. Pursen looked at Ogden Secor's companion for the first
time. He, too, recognized her.

"My gracious!" he exclaimed. His eyes went wide in holy horror.
"My gracious! Excuse me, Secor, but the train is about to start." And
without a backward glance be hastened toward his car.

The sight of Sophia Welles and the Rev. Mr. Pursen, and the
glances of contempt they had shot toward June Lathrop, had done in an
instant what months of vain attempt at recollection had failed to do.
With the suddenness of an unexpected slap in the face there returned
to Ogden Secor the memory of the last time he had seen these three
together.

As clearly as if it had been but yesterday he saw the figures
about his bed as he lay propped up upon his pillows at St.
Luke's.

He saw Sophia Welles and the Rev. Mr. Pursen. He saw Stickler,
nervous and unstrung, and he saw Doarty, his heavy hand upon the arm
of the girl from Farris's.

Slowly a dull red crept across his face. He turned toward June.
The look of misery in her eyes showed that she realized that memory
had returned.

"Now you understand at last," she said in a dull voice.

He took her by the arm and led her into the dining-room. She
scarce realized what she was doing when she permitted herself to go
with him. He found a table in a corner, seating himself across from
her.

"The cad," he said--"the dirty, little, hypocritical cad!"

She looked at him in astonishment.

"You mean--" she started.

"I mean Pursen."

"But he was right--he couldn't recognize me," she replied wearily.
Then she rose from the table. "I'll go now," she said "I don't know
why I came in here--I must have been--stunned. I knew that you would
find out some day--but I didn't know that it would be so dreadfully
terrible."

Her lips trembled.

He reached across the table and forced her gently back into her
chair.

"The only terrible thing about it," he said, "is that there should
be such people as the Rev. and Mrs. Pursen in the world. That, and
the fact that they have made you unhappy.''

"You mean that you don't hate me, now that you remember?" she
asked.

"I have guessed for a long time, June," he replied, "that there
was something in your past life that you thought would make our
marriage impossible if I knew of it. You have misjudged me. I do not
care what you have been or what you have done. That is past--it can't
be helped now, or undone. All I know is that I love you, and now that
I know all there is to be known, there can be no further reason why
you should hesitate longer."

The old smile lighted his face. "Oh, June," he said, "can't you
see that it is only our love that counts? If you can forget what
I have been--if you can forget the saloon brawls--if you can forget
the chain-gang--what have you done that I may not forget? For you
were but a young girl, while I was a strong man. Nothing that you may
have been can exceed in ignominy the depth to which I sunk."

"You do not remember all, then," she said sadly. "You have
forgotten what Doarty accused me of--giving the combination to the
man who robbed the safe."

"I remember everything," he replied, "but I do not believe it--no,
I do not want you even to deny it, for that would imply that I could
believe it."

"I am glad that you don't believe it," she said, "for that, at
least, was not true! But the rest is true--about Farris's."

He could not help wincing at that, for he was still a Puritan at
heart.

"Let's not speak of it," he said. "It doesn't change my love for
you. I am sorry that it had to be so, but it is, and we must make the
best of it, just as we must make the best of the memory of what I
became here in Goliath--the town drunkard. I want you, June, and now
there is nothing more to keep you from me. Tell me, dear, that there
is nothing more."

She was about to reply when a broad-shouldered man arose from a
table behind them. As he approached June was the first to see his
face. At sight of him she turned deathly pale--it was Doarty. He
stepped to her side and laid his hand upon her shoulder.

"Well, Mag," he said, "I've had a devil of a time finding you; but
I've got you at last."

Ogden Secor leaped to his feet.

"What does this mean?" he cried. "Who are you? What is it, June?
What does he mean?"

Mr. Doarty did not recognize Mr. Ogden Secor, whom he had seen but
once or twice and then under very different circumstances and in
widely different apparel.

"It means," said Mr. Doarty, "that your lady friend is under
arrest for the murder of John Secor four years ago."



CHAPTER XIV. SOME LOOSE THREADS.

THE case of the People versus June Lathrop, alias Maggie Lynch,
came to trial in the old Criminal Court Building. Since her arrest
June had persistently refused to see Ogden Secor, though he had
repeatedly endeavored to have word with her. She felt that his desire
to come to her was prompted solely by gratitude for her loyalty to
him when their positions had been reversed--when he had been the
prisoner.

How the case had come to be revived no one seemed able to explain. A
scarehead morning newspaper had used it as an example of the immunity
from punishment enjoyed by the powers of the underworld--showing how
murder, even, might be perpetrated with perfect safety to the murderer.
It hinted at police indifference--even at police complicity. No Secor
millions longer influenced the placing of advertising contracts.

The police in self-defense explained that they had never ceased to
work upon the case, and that they were already in possession of
sufficient evidence to convict--all they required was a little more
time to locate the murderer. And then they got busy.

It happened that Doarty knew more about the almost forgotten
details of the affair than any other officer on the force, so to
Doarty was given the herculean task of locating Maggie Lynch. Another
officer was entrusted with the establishment of a motive for the
crime and an investigation of the antecedents of Maggie Lynch.

The results of the efforts of these two sagacious policemen were
fully apparent as the trial progressed.

At first it seemed that there would be neither lawyer nor
witnesses for the defense, but at the eleventh hour both were
forthcoming. Ogden Secor had seen to that, and there was presented
the remarkable spectacle of a young man working tooth and nail in the
building up of the defense of the woman charged with the murder of
his uncle.

All that he knew at first was that she had been an inmate of the
house where John Secor had dropped dead of heart disease. The State,
to establish a motive brought a slender, gray-haired woman from a
little village fifty miles south of the metropolis.

She was sprung as a surprise upon the defense, and as she was
called to the witness chair from the antechamber, June Lathrop half
rose from her chair--her lips parted and her face dead white.

The eyes of the little woman ran eagerly over the court-room. When
they rested at last upon the face of the defendant, tears welled in
them, and with a faint cry and outstretched arms she took a step
toward June.

"My daughter!" she whispered. "Oh, my daughter!"

A bailiff laid his hand gently upon her arm and led her to the
witness chair.

Her story was a simple one, and simply told. She related the
incident of the first meeting of "John Smith" and June Lathrop.
Smith's automobile had stalled in front of the Lathrop homestead, and
while the chauffeur tinkered, the master had come to the door asking
for a drink of water. He had seen June, and almost from that instant
his infatuation for the girl had been evident. Afterward he came
often to the little village where the daughter and her widowed mother
lived.

Finally he spoke of marriage. June had told her mother of it, and
that she hesitated because of the great difference in their ages--she
respected and admired John Smith, but she did not know that she loved
him.

He brought her beautiful presents, and there were promises of a
life of luxury and ease--something the girl had never known, for her
father had died when she was a baby, and the mother had been able to
eke out but a bare existence since. It had been the promise of ease
and plenty for her mother's declining years that had finally
influenced June to give a reluctant "yes."

They had been married quietly by a justice of the peace, and had
been driven directly to town in Smith's machine.

The former Secor chauffeur established the identity of Smith as
John Secor. He distinctly recalled their first visit to the Lathrop
home, and almost weekly trips to the little town thereafter. He
positively identified the defendant as the girl whom, with John
Secor, he had driven from the Lathrop home to the city on the day of
the wedding, at which he had been a witness.

"Where did you leave the couple after arriving here?" asked the
State's attorney.

"At Abe Farris's place on Dearborn," replied the witness.

When June was called to the stand she corroborated all that had
gone before. It seemed that a motive had been established.

"Did you know the nature of the place to which Mr. Smith took you
at the time?" asked her attorney.

"I did not. He told me that it was a family hotel, and when, after
we had been there a few days, I remarked on the strange actions of
the other guests--their late hours, ribald songs, and evidences of
intoxication, he laughed at me, saying that I must get used to the
ways of a big city."

"Did you believe him?"

"Of course. I had never been away from home in my life. I knew
absolutely nothing about the existence even of such places as that,
or of the forms of vice and sin that were openly flaunted there. I
was so ignorant of such things that I believed him when he told me
that the men who came nightly to the place were the husbands of the
women there. We had a room on the second floor, and though I heard
much that passed in the house, I saw very little out of the way, as
we kept closely to our room when we were in the place."

"When did you discover that your 'husband' already had a wife
living, and that his name was John Secor and not John Smith?"

"About half an hour after he dropped dead in the hallway," she
replied. "Abe Farris came to me and told me. He offered me a hundred
dollars to keep still and pretend that I had never seen or heard of
Mr. Secor. I didn't take the money. I was heartbroken and sick with
horror and terror and shame. I wouldn't have told any one of my
disgrace under any circumstances. Farris kept me there for two days
longer, telling me that the police would arrest me if I went out.
Finally I determined to leave, for at last I knew the whole truth of
the sort of place I was in.

"Then Farris urged me to stay there and go to work for him. When I
refused, he explained that I was already ruined, and even laughed
when I told him that I did not know that I was not legally married to
Mr. Smith. 'You don't think for a minute that any one'll swallow that
yarn, do you?' he asked. 'If you want to keep out of jail you'd
better stay right here--you can't never be no worse off than you are
now.'

"I began to feel that he was right, yet I insisted on leaving, and
then he had my clothes taken from me, saying that I owed him money
for board that Mr. Secor had not paid, and that he would not let me
go until I paid him.

"I think that I must have been almost mad from grief and terror. I
know that at last I grew not to care what became of me, and when
Farris made me think that I could escape arrest only by remaining
with him, I gave up, for the thought that my mother would learn the
awful truth were I to be brought to trial was more than I could
bear."

Farris testified that he had been the first to tell the girl that
the man she thought her husband was the husband of another woman.

"When did you tell her this?" asked the attorney for the
defense.

"Half or three-quarters of an hour after Mr. Secor died."

Afterward two reputable physicians testified that they had
performed a post-mortem examination upon John Secor's body--that
there had been no evidence of poison in his stomach, or bruises,
abrasions, or wounds upon his body, and that there could be no doubt
but that death had been the result of an attack of acute
endocarditis.

The jury was out but fifteen minutes, returning a verdict of not
guilty on the first ballot. To June Lathrop it meant nothing. It was
what she had expected; but though it freed her from an unjust charge,
it could never right the hideous wrong that had been done her, first
by an individual in conceiving and perpetrating the wrong, and then
by the community, as represented by the police, in dragging the whole
hideous fabric of her shame before the world.

As is customary upon the acquittal of a defendant in a criminal
case, a horde of the morbidly curious thronged about June to offer
their congratulations. She turned from them wearily, seeking her
mother; but there was one who would not be denied--a tall, freckled
youth who wormed his way to her side with uncanny stealthiness. It
was Sammy, the one-time office-boy of the corporation known as John
Secor&Co.

"Miss Lathrop," he whispered. "Miss Lathrop, I've been trying to
find you for years. I'm a regular detective now; but the best job I
ever did I did for you and nobody never knew anything about it. Don't
you remember me?"

She shook hands with him, and he followed her from the court-room.
There was another who followed her, too. A sun-tanned young man whose
haggard features bore clear witness to the mental suffering he had
endured.

Outside the building he touched her sleeve. She turned toward
him.

"Do you loathe me," he whispered, "for what he did?"

"You know better than that," she answered; "but now you see why it
was that I could not marry you. Now you will thank me for not being
weak and giving in--God knows how sorely I was tempted!"

"There is nothing now to prevent," he said eagerly.

She looked at him in surprise. "You still want me?" she cried.
"You can't mean it--it would be horrible!"

"I shall always want you, June," he said doggedly, "and some day I
shall have you."

But still she shook her head.

"It would be wicked, Ogden," she said with a little shudder. "If
he had been any one else--any one else in the world than your
father!"

Secor looked at her in astonishment.

"My father!" he exclaimed. "Do you mean that you do not know--that
John Secor was not my father?"

The girl's astonishment and incredulity were writ plain upon her
face.

"Not your father?" It was scarce a whisper.

"I was the foster son of John Secor's brother. When he died I went
to live with the John Secors, and after the death of their only son I
entered Mr. Secor's office, taking the place of the son he had lost,
later inheriting his business."

June continued to look in dull bewilderment at Secor. It could not
be true! She cast about for another obstacle. Certainly she had no
right to such happiness as she saw being surely pressed upon her.

"There is still the charge against me of having aided the men who
robbed your safe--that is even worse, for it reproaches me with
disloyalty and treachery toward one who had befriended me," she said
faintly.

Sammy and June's mother had been standing a little apart as the
two spoke together in whispers. June had slightly raised her voice as
she recalled the affair in the office of John Secor&Co. the night
that Ogden had received the blows that had resulted in all his
financial troubles.

That part Sammy heard. Now he stepped forward.

"That's what I wanted to tell you about, Miss Lathrop," he said,
excitedly. "It wasn't her at all" he went on, turning toward Secor.
"It was that smooth scoundrel of a Stickler. I was hiding under his
filing cabinet when he tried to make Miss Lathrop go out with him,
and I heard her turn him down. Then I followed him, for I was just
studying to be a detective then and I had to practise every chance I
got. He went straight to Abe Farris's saloon, and there I saw him
talking low and confidential-like to a couple of tough-lookin' guys
for about two hours. He handed one of 'em a slip of paper, explaining
what was on it. I couldn't see it, but from what happened after I
knew it held the combination to your safe, for I seen the robber that
was shot when he was put on trial, and he was one of the guys that
Stickler met in Farris's. I was so scared I didn't dare tell
nobody."

Ogden turned toward June with a faint smile. "You see," he said,
"that one by one your defenses are reduced--aren't you about ready to
capitulate?"

"I guess there is no other way," she sighed; "but it seems that
the world must be all awry when hope of happiness appears so close
within my grasp!"



THE END





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