Back to the Index Page

 
 
 
The Conflict by David Graham Phillips

 

I

Four years at Wellesley; two years about equally divided among Paris, Dresden and Florence. And now Jane Hastings was at home again. At home in the unchanged house — spacious, old-fashioned — looking down from its steeply sloping lawns and terraced gardens upon the sooty, smoky activities of Remsen City, looking out upon a charming panorama of hills and valleys in the heart of South Central Indiana. Six years of striving in the East and abroad to satisfy the restless energy she inherited from her father; and here she was, as restless as ever — yet with everything done that a woman could do in the way of an active career. She looked back upon her years of elaborate preparation; she looked forward upon — nothing. That is, nothing but marriage — dropping her name, dropping her personality, disappearing in the personality of another. She had never seen a man for whom she would make such a sacrifice; she did not believe that such a man existed.

She meditated bitterly upon that cruel arrangement of Nature's whereby the father transmits his vigorous qualities in twofold measure to the daughter, not in order that she may be a somebody, but solely in order that she may transmit them to sons. ``I don't believe it,'' she decided. ``There's something for me to do.'' But what? She gazed down at Remsen City, connected by factories and pierced from east, west and south by railways. She gazed out over the fields and woods. Yes, there must be something for her besides merely marrying and breeding — just as much for her as for a man. But what? If she should marry a man who would let her rule him, she would despise him. If she should marry a man she could respect — a man who was of the master class like her father — how she would hate him for ignoring her and putting her in her ordained inferior feminine place. She glanced down at her skirts with an angry sense of enforced masquerade. And then she laughed — for she had a keen sense of humor that always came to her rescue when she was in danger of taking herself too seriously.

Through the foliage between her and the last of the stretches of highroad winding up from Remsen City she spied a man climbing in her direction — a long, slim figure in cap, Norfolk jacket and knickerbockers. Instantly — and long before he saw her — there was a grotesque whisking out of sight of the serious personality upon which we have been intruding. In its stead there stood ready to receive the young man a woman of the type that possesses physical charm and knows how to use it — and does not scruple to use it. For a woman to conquer man by physical charm is far and away the easiest, the most fleeting and the emptiest of victories. But for woman thus to conquer without herself yielding anything whatsoever, even so little as an alluring glance of the eye — that is quite another matter. It was this sort of conquest that Jane Hastings delighted in — and sought to gain with any man who came within range. If the men had known what she was about, they would have denounced her conduct as contemptible and herself as immoral, even brazen. But in their innocence they accused only their sophisticated and superbly masculine selves and regarded her as the soul of innocence. This was the more absurd in them because she obviously excelled in the feminine art of inviting display of charm. To glance at her was to realize at once the beauty of her figure, the exceeding grace of her long back and waist. A keen observer would have seen the mockery lurking in her light-brown eyes, and about the corners of her full red lips. She arranged her thick dark hair to make a secret, half-revealed charm of her fascinating pink ears and to reveal in dazzling unexpectedness the soft, round whiteness of the nape of her neck.

Because you are thus let into Miss Hastings' naughty secret, so well veiled behind an air of earnest and almost cold dignity, you must not do her the injustice of thinking her unusually artful. Such artfulness is common enough; it secures husbands by the thousand and by the tens of thousands. No, only in the skill of artfulness was Miss Hastings unusual.

As the long strides of the tall, slender man brought him rapidly nearer, his face came into plain view. A refined, handsome face, dark and serious. He had dark-brown eyes — and Miss Hastings did not like brown eyes in a man. She thought that men should have gray or blue or greenish eyes, and if they were cruel in their love of power she liked it the better.

``Hello, Dave,'' she cried in a pleasant, friendly voice. She was posed — in the most unconscious of attitudes — upon a rustic bench so that her extraordinary figure was revealed at its most attractive.

The young man halted before her, his breath coming quickly — not altogether from the exertion of his steep and rapid climb. ``Jen, I'm mad about you,'' he said, his brown eyes soft and luminous with passion. ``I've done nothing but think about you in the week you've been back. I didn't sleep last night, and I've come up here as early as I dared to tell you — to ask you to marry me.''

He did not see the triumph she felt, the joy in having subdued another of these insolently superior males. Her eyes were discreetly veiled; her delightful mouth was arranged to express sadness.

``I thought I was an ambition incarnate,'' continued the young man, unwittingly adding to her delight by detailing how brilliant her conquest was. ``I've never cared a rap about women — until I saw you. I was all for politics — for trying to do something to make my fellow men the better for my having lived. Now — it's all gone. I want you, Jen. Nothing else matters.''

As he paused, gazing at her in speechless longing, she lifted her eyes — simply a glance. With a stifled cry he darted forward, dropped beside her on the bench and tried to enfold her in his arms. The veins stood out in his forehead; the expression of his eyes was terrifying.

She shrank, sprang up. His baffled hands had not even touched her. ``David Hull!'' she cried, and the indignation and the repulsion in her tone and in her manner were not simulated, though her artfulness hastened to make real use of them. She loved to rouse men to frenzy. She knew that the sight of their frenzy would chill her — would fill her with an emotion that would enable her to remain mistress of the situation.

At sight of her aversion his eyes sank. ``Forgive me,'' he muttered. ``You make me — crazy.''

``I!'' she cried, laughing in angry derision. ``What have I ever done to encourage you to be — impertinent?''

``Nothing,'' he admitted. ``That is, nothing but just being yourself.''

``I can't help that, can I?''

``No,'' said he, adding doggedly: ``But neither can men help going crazy about you.''

She looked at him sitting there at once penitent and impenitent; and her mind went back to the thoughts that had engaged it before he came into view. Marriage — to marry one of these men, with their coarse physical ideas of women, with their pitiful weakness before an emotion that seemed to her to have no charm whatever. And these were the creatures who ruled the world and compelled women to be their playthings and mere appendages! Well — no doubt it was the women's own fault, for were they not a poor, spiritless lot, trembling with fright lest they should not find a man to lean on and then, having found the man, settling down into fat and stupid vacuity or playing the cat at the silly game of social position? But not Jane Hastings! Her bosom heaved and her eyes blazed scorn as she looked at this person who had dared think the touch of his coarse hands would be welcome. Welcome!

``And I have been thinking what a delightful friendship ours was,'' said she, disgustedly. ``And all the time, your talk about your ambition — the speeches you were going to make — the offices you were going to hold — the good you were going to do in purifying politics — it was all a blind!''

``All a blind,'' admitted he. ``From the first night that you came to our house to dinner — Jen, I'll never forget that dress you wore — or the way you looked in it.''

Miss Jane had thought extremely well of that toilet herself. She had heard how impervious this David Hull, the best catch in the town, was to feminine charm; and she had gone prepared to give battle. But she said dejectedly, ``You don't know what a shock you've given me.''

``Yes, I do,'' cried he. ``I'm ashamed of myself. But — I love you, Jen! Can't you learn to love me?''

``I hadn't even thought of you in that way,'' said she. ``I haven't bothered my head about marriage. Of course, most girls have to think about it, because they must get some one to support them — — ''

``I wish to God you were one of that sort,'' interrupted he. ``Then I could have some hope.''

``Hope of what,'' said she disdainfully. ``You don't mean that you'd marry a girl who was marrying you because she had to have food, clothing and shelter?''

``I'd marry the woman I loved. Then — I'd make her love me. She simply couldn't help it.''

Jane Hastings shuddered. ``Thank heaven, I don't have to marry!'' Her eyes flashed. ``But I wouldn't, even if I were poor. I'd rather go to work. Why shouldn't a woman work, anyhow?''

``At what?'' inquired Hull. ``Except the men who do manual labor, there are precious few men who can make a living honestly and self-respectingly. It's fortunate the women can hold aloof and remain pure.''

Jane laughed unpleasantly. ``I'm not so sure that the women who live with men just for shelter are pure,'' said she.

``Jen,'' the young man burst out, ``you're ambitious — aren't you?''

``Rather,'' replied she.

``And you like the sort of thing I'm trying to do — like it and approve of it?''

``I believe a man ought to succeed — get to the top.''

``So do I — if he can do it honorably.''

Jane hesitated — dared. ``To be quite frank,'' said she, ``I worship success and I despise failure. Success means strength. Failure means weakness — and I abominate weakness.''

He looked quietly disapproving. ``You don't mean that. You don't understand what you're saying.''

``Perfectly,'' she assured him. ``I'm not a bit good. Education has taken all the namby-pamby nonsense out of me.''

But he was not really hearing; besides, what had women to do with the realities of life? They were made to be the property of men — that was the truth, though he would never have confessed it to any woman. They were made to be possessed. ``And I must possess this woman,'' he thought, his blood running hot. He said:

``Why not help me to make a career? I can do it, Jen, with you to help.''

She had thought of this before — of making a career for herself, of doing the ``something'' her intense energy craved, through a man. The ``something'' must be big if it were to satisfy her; and what that was big could a woman do except through a man? But — this man. Her eyes turned thoughtfully upon him — a look that encouraged him to go on:

``Politics interest you, Jen. I've seen that in the way you listen and in the questions you ask.''

She smiled — but not at the surface. In fact, his political talk had bored her. She knew nothing about the subject, and, so, had been as one listening to an unknown language. But, like all women, having only the narrowest range of interests herself and the things that would enable her to show off to advantage, she was used to being bored by the conversational efforts of men and to concealing her boredom. She had listened patiently and had led the conversation by slow, imperceptible stages round to the interesting personal — to the struggle for dominion over this difficult male.

``Anyhow,'' he went on, ``no intelligent person could fail to be interested in politics, once he or she appreciated what it meant. And people of our class owe it to society to take part in politics. Victor Dorn is a crank, but he's right about some things — and he's right in saying that we of the upper class are parasites upon the masses. They earn all the wealth, and we take a large part of it away from them. And it's plain stealing unless we give some service in return. For instance, you and I — what have we done, what are we doing that entitles us to draw so much? Somebody must earn by hard labor all that is produced. We are not earning. So'' — he was looking handsome now in his manly earnestness — ``Jen, it's up to us to do our share — to stop stealing — isn't it?''

She was genuinely interested. ``I hadn't thought of these things,'' said she.

``Victor Dorn says we ought to go to work like laborers,'' pursued David. ``But that's where he's a crank. The truth is, we ought to give the service of leadership — especially in politics. And I'm going to do it, Jane Hastings!''

For the first time she had an interest in him other than that of conquest. ``Just what are you going to do?'' she asked.

``Not upset everything and tear everything to pieces, as Victor Dorn wants to do,'' replied he. ``But reform the abuses and wrongs — make it so that every one shall have a fair chance — make politics straight and honest.''

This sounded hazy to her. ``And what will you get out of it?'' asked she.

He colored and was a little uneasy as he thus faced a direct demand for his innermost secret — the secret of selfishness he tried to hide even from himself. But there was no evading; if he would interest her he must show her the practical advantages of his proposal. ``If I'm to do any good,'' said he, putting the best face, and really not a bad face, upon a difficult and delicate matter — ``if I'm to do any good I must win a commanding position — must get to be a popular leader — must hold high offices — and — and — all that.''

``I understand,'' said she. ``That sounds attractive. Yes, David, you ought to make a career. If I were a man that's the career I'd choose.''

``You can choose it, though you're a woman,'' rejoined he. ``Marry me, and we'll go up together. You've no idea how exciting campaigns and elections are. A little while, and you'll be crazy about it all. The women are taking part, more and more.''

``Who's Victor Dorn?'' she suddenly asked.

``You must remember him. It was his father that was killed by the railway the day we all went on that excursion to Indianapolis.''

``Dorn the carpenter,'' said Jane. ``Yes — I remember.'' Her face grew dreamy with the effort of memory. ``I see it all again. And there was a boy with a very white face who knelt and held his head.''

``That was Victor,'' said Hull.

``Yes — I remember him. He was a bad boy — always fighting and robbing orchards and getting kept after school.''

``And he's still a bad boy — but in a different way. He's out against everything civilized and everybody that's got money.''

``What does he do? Keep a saloon?''

``No, but he spends a lot of time at them. I must say for him that he doesn't drink — and professes not to believe in drink. When I pointed out to him what a bad example he set, loafing round saloons, he laughed at me and said he was spending his spare time exactly as Jesus Christ did. `You'll find, Davy, old man,' he said, `if you'll take the trouble to read your Bible, that Jesus traveled with publicans and sinners — and a publican is in plain English a saloonkeeper.' ''

``That was very original — wasn't it?'' said Jane. ``I'm interested in this man. He's — different. I like people who are different.''

``I don't think you'd like him, Victor Dorn,'' said David.

``Don't you?''

``Oh, yes — in a way. I admire him,'' graciously. ``He's really a remarkable fellow, considering his opportunities.''

``He calls you `Davy, old man,' '' suggested Jane.

Hull flushed. ``That's his way. He's free and easy with every one. He thinks conventionality is a joke.''

``And it is,'' cried Miss Hastings.

``You'd not think so,'' laughed Hull, ``if he called you Jane or Jenny or my dear Jenny half an hour after he met you.''

``He wouldn't,'' said Miss Hastings in a peculiar tone.

``He would if he felt like it,'' replied Hull. ``And if you resented it, he'd laugh at you and walk away. I suspect him of being a good deal of a poseur and a fakir. All those revolutionary chaps are. But I honestly think that he really doesn't care a rap for classes — or for money — or for any of the substantial things.''

``He sounds common,'' said Miss Hastings. ``I've lost interest in him.'' Then in the same breath: ``How does he live? Is he a carpenter?''

``He was — for several years. You see, he and his mother together brought up the Dorn family after the father was killed. They didn't get a cent of damages from the railroad. It was an outrage — — ''

``But my father was the largest owner of the railroad.''

Hull colored violently. ``You don't understand about business, Jen. The railroad is a corporation. It fought the case — and the Dorns had no money — and the railway owned the judge and bribed several jurors at each trial. Dorn says that was what started him to thinking — to being a revolutionist — though he doesn't call himself that.''

``I should think it would!'' cried Miss Hastings. ``If my father had known — — '' She caught her breath. ``But he must have known! He was on the train that day.''

``You don't understand business, Jen. Your father wouldn't interfere with the management of the corporation .''

``He makes money out of it — doesn't he?''

``So do we all get money out of corporations that are compelled to do all sorts of queer things. But we can't abolish the system — we've got to reform it. That's why I'm in politics — and want you — — ''

``Something must be done about that,'' interrupted Jane. ``I shall talk to father — — ''

``For heaven's sake, Jen,'' cried David in alarm, ``don't tell your father I've been stirring you up. He's one of the powers in politics in this State, and — — ''

``I'll not give you away, Davy,'' said Miss Hastings a little contemptuously. ``I want to hear more about this Victor Dorn. I'll get that money for him and his mother. Is he very poor?''

``Well — you'd call him poor. But he says he has plenty. He runs a small paper. I think he makes about twenty-five dollars a week out of it — and a little more out of lecturing. Then — every once in a while he goes back to his trade — to keep his hand in and enjoy the luxury of earning honest money, as he puts it.'' .

``How queer!'' exclaimed Miss Hastings. ``I would like to meet him. Is he — very ignorant?''

``Oh, no — no, indeed. He's worked his way through college — and law school afterward. Supported the family all the time.''

``He must be tremendously clever.''

``I've given you an exaggerated idea of him,'' Davy hastened to say. ``He's really an ordinary sort of chap.''

``I should think he'd get rich,'' said Miss Hastings. ``Most of the men that do — so far as I've met them — seem ordinary enough.''

``He says he could get rich, but that he wouldn't waste time that way. But he's fond of boasting.''

``You don't think he could make money — after all he did — going to college and everything?''

``Yes — I guess he could,'' reluctantly admitted Davy. Then in a burst of candor: ``Perhaps I'm a little jealous of him. If I were thrown on my own resources, I'm afraid I'd make a pretty wretched showing. But — don't get an exaggerated idea of him. The things I've told you sound romantic and unusual. If you met him — saw him every day — you'd realize he's not at all — at least, not much — out of the ordinary.''

``Perhaps,'' said Miss Hastings shrewdly, ``perhaps I'm getting a better idea of him than you who see him so often.''

``Oh, you'll run across him sometime,'' said Davy, who was bearing up no better than would the next man under the strain of a woman's interest in and excitement about another man. ``When you do, you'll get enough in about five minutes. You see, he's not a gentleman .''

``I'm not sure that I'm wildly crazy about gentlemen — as gentlemen,'' replied the girl. ``Very few of the interesting people I've read about in history and biography have been gentlemen.''

``And very few of them would have been pleasant to associate with,'' rejoined Hull. ``You'll admire Victor as I do. But you'll feel — as I do — that there's small excuse for a man who has been educated, who has associated with upper class people, turning round and inciting the lower classes against everything that's fine and improving.''

It was now apparent to the girl that David Hull was irritatedly jealous of this queer Victor Dorn — was jealous of her interest in him. Her obvious cue was to fan this flame. In no other way could she get any amusement out of Davy's society; for his tendency was to be heavily serious — and she wanted no more of the too strenuous love making, yet wanted to keep him ``on the string.'' This jealousy was just the means for her end. Said she innocently: ``If it irritates you, Davy, we won't talk about him.''

``Not at all — not at all,'' cried Hull. ``I simply thought you'd be getting tired of hearing so much about a man you'd never known.''

``But I feel as if I did know him,'' replied she. ``Your account of him was so vivid. I thought of asking you to bring him to call.''

Hull laughed heartily. ``Victor Dorn — calling!''

``Why not?''

``He doesn't do that sort of thing. And if he did, how could I bring him here?''

``Why not?''

``Well — in the first place, you are a lady — and he is not in your class. Of course, men can associate with each other in politics and business. But the social side of life — that's different.''

``But a while ago you were talking about my going in for politics,'' said Miss Hastings demurely.

``Still, you'd not have to meet socially queer and rough characters — — ''

``Is Victor Dorn very rough?''

The interrupting question was like the bite of a big fly to a sweating horse. ``I'm getting sick of hearing about him from you,'' cried Hull with the pettishness of the spoiled children of the upper class.

``In what way is he rough?'' persisted Miss Hastings. ``If you didn't wish to talk about Victor Dorn, why did you bring the subject up?''

``Oh — all right,'' cried Hull, restraining himself. ``Victor isn't exactly rough. He can act like a gentleman — when he happens to want to. But you never can tell what he'll do next.''

``You must bring him to call!'' exclaimed Miss Hastings.

``Impossible,'' said Hull angrily.

``But he's the only man I've heard about since I've been home that I've taken the least interest in.''

``If he did come, your father would have the servants throw him off the place.''

``Oh, no,'' said Hiss Hastings haughtily. ``My father wouldn't insult a guest of mine.''

``But you don't know, Jen,'' cried David. ``Why, Victor Dorn attacks your father in the most outrageous way in his miserable little anarchist paper — calls him a thief, a briber, a blood-sucker — a — I'd not venture to repeat to you the things he says.''

``No doubt he got a false impression of father because of that damage suit,'' said Miss Hastings mildly. ``That was a frightful thing. I can't be so unjust as to blame him, Davy — can you?''

Hull was silent.

``And I guess father does have to do a lot of things in the course of business — — Don't all the big men — the leaders?''

``Yes — unfortunately they do,'' said Hull. ``That's what gives plausibility to the shrieks of demagogues like Victor Dorn — though Victor is too well educated not to know better than to stir up the ignorant classes.''

``I wonder why he does it,'' said Miss Hastings, reflectively. ``I must ask him. I want to hear what he says to excuse himself.'' In fact, she had not the faintest interest in the views of this queer unknown; her chief reason for saying she had was to enjoy David Hull's jealousy.

``Before you try to meet Victor,'' said Hull, in a constrained, desperate way, ``please speak to your father about it.''

``I certainly shall,'' replied the girl. ``As soon as he comes home this afternoon, I'm going to talk to him about that damage suit. That has got to be straightened out.'' An expression of resolution, of gentleness and justice abruptly transformed her face. ``You may not believe it, but I have a conscience.'' Absently, ``A curious sort of a conscience — one that might become very troublesome, I'm afraid — in some circumstances.''

Instantly the fine side of David Hull's nature was to the fore — the dominant side, for at the first appeal it always responded. ``So have I, Jen,'' said he. ``I think our similarity in that respect is what draws me so strongly to you. And it's that that makes me hope I can win you. Oh, Jen — there's so much to be done in the world — and you and I could have such a splendid happy life doing our share of it.''

She was once more looking at him with an encouraging interest. But she said, gently: ``Let's not talk about that any more to-day, Davy.''

``But you'll think about it?'' urged he.

``Yes,'' said she. ``Let's be friends — and — and see what happens.''

Hull strolled up to the house with her, but refused to stop for lunch. He pleaded an engagement; but it was one that could — and in other circumstances would — have been broken by telephone. His real reason for hurrying away was fear lest Jane should open out on the subject of Victor Dorn with her father, and, in her ignorance of the truth as to the situation, should implicate him. She found her father already at home and having a bowl of crackers and milk in a shady corner of the west veranda. He was chewing in the manner of those whose teeth are few and not too secure. His brows were knitted and he looked as if not merely joy but everything except disagreeable sensation had long since fled his life beyond hope of return — an air not uncommon among the world's successful men. However, at sight of his lovely young daughter his face cleared somewhat and he shot at her from under his wildly and savagely narrowed eyebrows a glance of admiration and tenderness — a quaint expression for those cold, hard features.

Everyone spoke of him behind his back as ``Old Morton Hastings.'' In fact, he was barely past sixty, was at an age at which city men of the modern style count themselves young and even entertain — not without reason — hope of being desired of women for other than purely practical reasons. He was born on a farm — was born with an aversion to physical exertion as profound as was his passion for mental exertion. We never shall know how much of its progress the world owes to the physically lazy, mentally tireless men. Those are they who, to save themselves physical exertion, have devised all manner of schemes and machines to save labor. And, at bottom, what is progress but man's success in his effort to free himself from manual labor — to get everything for himself by the labor of other men and animals and of machines? Naturally his boyhood of toil on the farm did not lessen Martin Hastings' innate horror of ``real work.'' He was not twenty when he dropped tools never to take them up again. He was shoeing a horse in the heat of the cool side of the barn on a frightful August day. Suddenly he threw down the hammer and said loudly: ``A man that works is a damn fool. I'll never work again.'' And he never did.

As soon as he could get together the money — and it was not long after he set about making others work for him — he bought a buggy, a kind of phaeton, and a safe horse. Thenceforth he never walked a step that could be driven. The result of thirty-five years of this life, so unnatural to an animal that is designed by Nature for walking and is punished for not doing so — the result of a lifetime of this folly was a body shrivelled to a lean brown husk, legs incredibly meagre and so tottery that they scarcely could bear him about. His head — large and finely shaped — seemed so out of proportion that he looked at a glance senile. But no one who had business dealings with him suspected him of senility or any degree of weakness. He spoke in a thin dry voice, shrouded in sardonic humor.

``I don't care for lunch,'' said Jane, dropping to a chair near the side of the table opposite her father. ``I had breakfast too late. Besides, I've got to look out for my figure. There's a tendency to fat in our family.''

The old man chuckled. ``Me, for instance,'' said he.

``Martha, for instance,'' replied Jane. Martha was her one sister — married and ten years older than she and spaciously matronly.

``Wasn't that Davy Hull you were talking to, down in the woods?'' inquired her father.

Jane laughed. ``You see everything,'' said she.

``I didn't see much when I saw him,'' said her father.

Jane was hugely amused. Her father watched her laughter — the dazzling display of fine teeth — with delighted eyes. ``You've got mighty good teeth, Jenny,'' observed he. ``Take care of 'em. You'll never know what misery is till you've got no teeth — or next to none.'' He looked disgustedly into his bowl. ``Crackers and milk!'' grunted he. ``No teeth and no digestion. The only pleasure a man of my age can have left is eating, and I'm cheated out of that.''

``So, you wouldn't approve of my marrying Davy?'' said the girl.

Her father grunted — chuckled. ``I didn't say that. Does he want to marry you?''

``I didn't say that,'' retorted Jane. ``He's an unattached young man — and I, being merely a woman, have got to look out for a husband.''

Martin looked gloomy. ``There's no hurry,'' said he. ``You've been away six years. Seems to me you might stay at home a while.''

``Oh, I'd bring him here, popsy I've no intention of leaving you. You were in an awful state, when I came home. That mustn't ever happen again. And as you won't live with Martha and Hugo — why, I've got to be the victim.''

``Yes — it's up to you, Miss, to take care of me in my declining years. . . . You can marry Davy — if you want to. Davy — or anybody. I trust to your good sense.''

``If I don't like him, I can get rid of him,'' said the girl.

Her father smiled indulgently. ``That's a leetle too up-to-date for an old man like me,'' observed he. ``The world's moving fast nowadays. It's got a long ways from where it was when your ma and I were young.''

``Do you think Davy Hull will make a career?'' asked Jane. She had heard from time to time as much as she cared to hear about the world of a generation before — of its bareness and discomfort, its primness, its repulsive piety, its ignorance of all that made life bright and attractive — how it quite overlooked this life in its agitation about the extremely problematic life to come. ``I mean a career in politics,'' she explained.

The old man munched and smacked for full a minute before he said, ``Well, he can make a pretty good speech. Yes — I reckon he could be taken in hand and pushed. He's got a lot of fool college-bred ideas about reforming things. But he'd soon drop them, if he got into the practical swing. As soon as he had a taste of success, he'd stop being finicky. Just now, he's one of those nice, pure chaps who stand off and tell how things ought to be done. But he'd get over that.''

Jane smiled peculiarly — half to herself. ``Yes — I think he would. In fact, I'm sure he would.'' She looked at her father. ``Do you think he amounts to as much as Victor Dorn?'' she asked, innocently.

The old man dropped a half raised spoonful of milk and crackers into the bowl with a splash. ``Dorn — he's a scoundrel!'' he exclaimed, shaking with passion. ``I'm going to have that dirty little paper of his stopped and him put out of town. Impudent puppy! — foul-mouthed demagogue! I'll show him!''

``Why, he doesn't amount to anything, father,'' remonstrated the girl. ``He's nothing but a common working man — isn't he?''

``That's all he is — the hound!'' replied Martin Hastings. A look of cruelty, of tenacious cruelty, had come into his face. It would have startled a stranger. But his daughter had often seen it; and it did not disturb her, as it had never appeared for anything that in any way touched her life. ``I've let him hang on here too long,'' went on the old man, to himself rather than to her. ``First thing I know he'll be dangerous.''

``If he's worth while I should think you'd hire him,'' remarked Jane shrewdly.

``I wouldn't have such a scoundrel in my employ,'' cried her father.

``Oh, maybe,'' pursued the daughter, ``maybe you couldn't hire him.''

``Of course I could,'' scoffed Hastings. ``Anybody can be hired.''

``I don't believe it,'' said the girl bluntly.

``One way or another,'' declared the old man. ``That Dorn boy isn't worth the price he'd want.''

``What price would he want?'' asked Jane.

``How should I know?'' retorted her father angrily.

``You've tried to hire him — haven't you?'' persisted she.

The father concentrated on his crackers and milk. Presently he said: ``What did that fool Hull boy say about Dorn to you?''

``He doesn't like him,'' replied Jane. ``He seems to be jealous of him — and opposed to his political views.''

``Dorn's views ain't politics. They're — theft and murder and highfalutin nonsense,'' said Hastings, not unconscious of his feeble anti-climax.

``All the same, he — or rather, his mother — ought to have got damages from the railway,'' said the girl. And there was a sudden and startling shift in her expression — to a tenacity as formidable as her father's own, but a quiet and secret tenacity.

Old Hastings wiped his mouth and began fussing uncomfortably with a cigar.

``I don't blame him for getting bitter and turning against society,'' continued she. ``I'd have done the same thing — and so would you.''

Hastings lit the cigar. ``They wanted ten thousand dollars,'' he said, almost apologetically. ``Why, they never saw ten thousand cents they could call their own.''

``But they lost their bread-winner, father,'' pleaded the girl. ``And there were young children to bring up and educate. Oh, I hate to think that — that we had anything to do with such a wrong.''

``It wasn't a wrong, Jen — as I used to tell your ma,'' said the old man, much agitated and shrill of voice. ``It was just the course of business. The law was with our company.''

Jane said nothing. She simply gazed steadily at her father. He avoided her glance.

``I don't want to hear no more about it,'' he burst out with abrupt violence. ``Not another word!''

``Father, I want it settled — and settled right,'' said the girl. ``I ask it as a favor. Don't do it as a matter of business, but as a matter of sentiment.''

He shifted uneasily, debating. When he spoke he was even more explosive than before. ``Not a cent! Not a red! Give that whelp money to run his crazy paper on? Not your father, while he keeps his mind.''

``But — mightn't that quiet him?'' pleaded she. ``What's the use of having war when you can have peace? You've always laughed at people who let their prejudices stand in the way of their interests. You've always laughed at how silly and stupid and costly enmities and revenges are. Now's your chance to illustrate, popsy.'' And she smiled charmingly at him.

He was greatly softened by her manner — and by the wisdom of what she said — a wisdom in which, as in a mirror, he recognized with pleasure her strong resemblance to himself. ``That wouldn't be a bad idea, Jen,'' said he after reflection, ``if I could get a guarantee.''

``But why not do it generously?'' urged the girl. ``Generosity inspires generosity. You'll make him ashamed of himself.''

With a cynical smile on his shrivelled face the old man slowly shook his big head that made him look as top-heavy as a newborn baby. ``That isn't as smart, child, as what you said before. It's in them things that the difference between theory and practice shows. He'd take the money and laugh at me. No, I'll try to get a guarantee.'' He nodded and chuckled. ``Yes, that was a good idea of yours, Jen.''

``But — isn't it just possible that he is a man with — with principles of a certain kind?'' suggested she.

``Of course, he thinks so,'' said Hastings. ``They all do. But you don't suppose a man of any sense at all could really care about and respect working class people? — ignorant, ungrateful fools. I know 'em. Didn't I come from among 'em? Ain't I dealt with 'em all my life? No, that there guy Dorn's simply trying to get up, and is using them to step up on. I did the same thing, only I did it in a decent, law-abiding way. I didn't want to tear down those that was up. I wanted to go up and join 'em. And I did.''

And his eyes glistened fondly and proudly as he gazed at his daughter. She represented the climax of his rising — she, the lady born and bred, in her beautiful clothes, with her lovely, delicate charms. Yes, he had indeed ``come up,'' and there before him was the superb tangible evidence of it.

Jane had the strongest belief in her father's worldly wisdom. At the same time, from what David Hull said she had got an impression of a something different from the ordinary human being in this queer Victor Dorn. ``You'd better move slowly,'' she said to her father. ``There's no hurry, and you might be mistaken in him.''

``Plenty of time,'' asserted her father. ``There's never any need to hurry about giving up money.'' Then, with one of those uncanny flashes of intuition for which he, who was never caught napping, was famous, he said to her sharply: ``You keep your hands off, miss.''

She was thrown into confusion — and her embarrassment enraged her against herself. ``What could I do?'' she retorted with a brave attempt at indifference.

``Well — keep your hands off, miss,'' said the old man. ``No female meddling in business. I'll stand for most anything, but not for that.''

Jane was now all eagerness for dropping the subject. She wished no further prying of that shrewd mind into her secret thoughts. ``It's hardly likely I'd meddle where I know nothing about the circumstances,'' said she. ``Will you drive me down to Martha's?''

This request was made solely to change the subject, to shift her father to his favorite topic for family conversation — his daughter Martha, Mrs. Hugo Galland, her weakness for fashionable pastimes, her incessant hints and naggings at her father about his dowdy dress, his vulgar mannerisms of speech and of conduct, especially at table. Jane had not the remotest intention of letting her father drive her to Mrs. Galland's, or anywhere, in the melancholy old phaeton-buggy, behind the fat old nag whose coat was as shabby as the coat of the master or as the top and the side curtains of the sorrowful vehicle it drew along at caterpillar pace.

When her father was ready to depart for his office in the Hastings Block — the most imposing office building in Remsen City, Jane announced a change of mind.

``I'll ride, instead,'' said she. ``I need the exercise, and the day isn't too warm.''

``All right,'' said Martin Hastings grumpily. He soon got enough of anyone's company, even of his favorite daughter's. Through years of habit he liked to jog about alone, revolving in his mind his business affairs — counting in fancy his big bundles of securities, one by one, calculating their returns past, present and prospective — reviewing the various enterprises in which he was dominant factor, working out schemes for getting more profit here, for paying less wages there, for tightening his grip upon this enterprise, for dumping his associates in that, for escaping with all the valuable assets from another. His appearance, as he and his nag dozed along the highroad, was as deceptive as that of a hive of bees on a hot day — no signs of life except a few sleepy workers crawling languidly in and out at the low, broad crack-door, yet within myriads toiling like mad.

Jane went up to dress. She had brought an Italian maid with her from Florence, and a mass of baggage that had given the station loungers at Remsen City something to talk about, when there was a dearth of new subjects, for the rest of their lives. She had transformed her own suite in the second story of the big old house into an appearance of the quarters of a twentieth century woman of wealth and leisure. In the sitting room were books in four languages; on the walls were tasteful reproductions of her favorite old masters. The excellence of her education was attested not by the books and pictures but by the absence of those fussy, commonplace draperies and bits of bric-a-brac where — with people of no taste and no imagination furnish their houses because they can think of nothing else to fill in the gaps.

Many of Jane's ways made Sister Martha uneasy. For Martha, while admitting that Jane through superior opportunity ought to know, could not believe that the ``right sort'' of people on the other side had thrown over all her beloved formalities and were conducting themselves distressingly like tenement-house people. For instance, Martha could not approve Jane's habit of smoking cigarettes — a habit which, by one of those curious freaks of character, enormously pleased her father. But — except in one matter — Martha entirely approved Jane's style of dress. She hastened to pronounce it ``just too elegant'' and repeated that phrase until Jane, tried beyond endurance, warned her that the word elegant was not used seriously by people of the ``right sort'' and that its use was regarded as one of those small but subtle signs of the loathsome ``middle class.''

The one thing in Jane's dress that Martha disapproved — or, rather, shied at — was her riding suit. This was an extremely noisy plaid man's suit — for Jane rode astride. Martha could not deny that Jane looked ``simply stunning'' when seated on her horse and dressed in that garb with her long slim feet and graceful calves encased in a pair of riding boots that looked as if they must have cost ``something fierce.'' But was it really ``ladylike''? Hadn't Jane made a mistake and adopted a costume worn only by the fashionables among the demi-mondaines of whom Martha had read and had heard such dreadful, delightful stories?

It was the lively plaid that Miss Hastings now clad herself in. She loved that suit. Not only did it give her figure a superb opportunity but also it brought out new beauties in her contour and coloring. And her head was so well shaped and her hair grew so thickly about brow and ears and nape of neck that it looked full as well plaited and done close as when it was framing her face and half concealing, half revealing her charming ears in waves of changeable auburn. After a lingering — and pardonably pleased — look at herself in a long mirror, she descended, mounted and rode slowly down toward town.

The old Galland homestead was at the western end of town — in a quarter that had become almost poor. But it was so dignified and its grounds were so extensive that it suggested a manor house with the humble homes of the lord's dependents clustering about it for shelter. To reach it Jane had to ride through two filthy streets lined with factories. As she rode she glanced at the windows, where could be seen in dusty air girls and boys busy at furiously driven machines — machines that compelled their human slaves to strain every nerve in the monotonous task of keeping them occupied. Many of the girls and boys paused long enough for a glance at the figure of the man-clad girl on the big horse.

Jane, happy in the pleasant sunshine, in her beauty and health and fine raiment and secure and luxurious position in the world, gave a thought of pity to these imprisoned young people. ``How lucky I am,'' she thought, ``not to have been born like that. Of course, we all have our falls now and then. But while they always strike on the hard ground, I've got a feather bed to fall on.''

When she reached Martha's and was ushered into the cool upstairs sitting room, in somehow ghastly contrast to the hot rooms where the young working people sweated and strained, the subject persisted in its hold on her thoughts. There was Martha, in comfortable, corsetless expansiveness — an ideal illustration of the worthless idler fattening in purposelessness. She was engaged with all her energies in preparing for the ball Hugo Galland's sister, Mrs. Bertrand, was giving at the assembly rooms that night.

``I've been hard at it for several days now,'' said she. ``I think at last I see daylight. But I want your opinion.''

Jane gazed absently at the dress and accompanying articles that had been assembled with so much labor. ``All right,'' said she. ``You'll look fine and dandy.''

Martha twitched. ``Jane, dear — don't say that — don't use such an expression. I know it's your way of joking. But lots of people would think you didn't know any better.''

``Let 'em think,'' said Jane. ``I say and do as I please.''

Martha sighed. Here was one member of her family who could be a credit, who could make people forget the unquestionably common origin of the Hastingses and of the Morleys. Yet this member was always breaking out into something mortifying, something reminiscent of the farm and of the livery stable — for the deceased Mrs. Hastings had been daughter of a livery stable keeper — in fact, had caught Martin Hastings by the way she rode her father's horses at a sale at a county fair. Said Martha:

``You haven't really looked at my clothes, Jane. Why did you go back to calling yourself Jane?''

``Because it's my name,'' replied her sister.

``I know that. But you hated it and changed it to Jeanne, which is so much prettier.''

``I don't think so any more,'' replied Miss Hastings. ``My taste has improved. Don't be so horribly middle class, Martha — ashamed of everything simple and natural.''

``You think you know it all — don't you? — just because you've lived abroad,'' said Martha peevishly.

``On the contrary, I don't know one-tenth as much as I thought I did, when I came back from Wellesley with a diploma.''

``Do you like my costume?'' inquired Martha, eying her finery with the fond yet dubious expression of the woman who likes her own taste but is not sure about its being good taste.

``What a lazy, worthless pair we are!'' exclaimed Jane, hitting her boot leg a tremendous rap with her little cane.

Martha startled. ``Good God — Jane — what is it?'' she cried.

``On the way here I passed a lot of factories,'' pursued Jane. ``Why should those people have to work like — like the devil, while we sit about planning ball dresses?''

Martha settled back comfortably. ``I feel so sorry for those poor people,'' said she, absently sympathetic.

``But why?'' demanded Jane. ``Why? Why should we be allowed to idle while they have to slave? What have we done — what are we doing — to entitle us to ease? What have they done to condemn them to pain and toil?''

``You know very well, Jane, that we represent the finer side of life.''

``Slop!'' ejaculated Jane.

``For pity's sake, don't let's talk politics,'' wailed Martha. ``I know nothing about politics. I haven't any brains for that sort of thing.''

``Is that politics?'' inquired Jane. ``I thought politics meant whether the Democrats or the Republicans or the reformers were to get the offices and the chance to steal.''

``Everything's politics, nowadays,'' said Martha, comparing the color of the material of her dress with the color of her fat white arm. ``As Hugo says, that Victor Dorn is dragging everything into politics — even our private business of how we make and spend our own money.''

Jane sat down abruptly. ``Victor Dorn,'' she said in a strange voice. ``Who is Victor Dorn? What is Victor Dorn? It seems that I can hear of nothing but Victor Dorn to-day.''

``He's too low to talk about,'' said Martha, amiable and absent.

``Why?''

``Politics,'' replied Martha. ``Really, he is horrid, Jane.''

``To look at?''

``No — not to look at. He's handsome in a way. Not at all common looking. You might take him for a gentleman, if you didn't know. Still — he always dresses peculiarly — always wears soft hats. I think soft hats are so vulgar — don't you?''

``How hopelessly middle-class you are, Martha,'' mocked Jane.

``Hugo would as soon think of going in the street in a — in a — I don't know what.''

``Hugo is the finest flower of American gentleman. That is, he's the quintessence of everything that's nice — and `nasty.' I wish I were married to him for a week. I love Hugo, but he gives me the creeps.'' She rose and tramped restlessly about the room. ``You both give me the creeps. Everything conventional gives me the creeps. If I'm not careful I'll dress myself in a long shirt, let down my hair and run wild.''

``What nonsense you do talk,'' said Martha composedly.

Jane sat down abruptly. ``So I do!'' she said. ``I'm as poor a creature as you at bottom. I simply like to beat against the bars of my cage to make myself think I'm a wild, free bird by nature. If you opened the door, I'd not fly out, but would hop meekly back to my perch and fall to smoothing my feathers. . . . Tell me some more about Victor Dorn.''

``I told you he isn't fit to talk about,'' said Martha. ``Do you know, they say now that he is carrying on with that shameless, brazen thing who writes for his paper, that Selma Gordon?''

``Selma Gordon,'' echoed Jane. Her brows came down in a gesture reminiscent of her father, and there was a disagreeable expression about her mouth and in her light brown eyes. ``Who's Selma Gordon?''

``She makes speeches — and writes articles against rich people — and — oh, she's horrid.''

``Pretty?''

``No — a scrawny, black thing. The men — some of them — say she's got a kind of uncanny fascination. Some even insist that she's beautiful.'' Martha laughed. ``Beautiful! How could a woman with black hair and a dark skin and no flesh on her bones be beautiful?''

``It has been known to happen,'' said Jane curtly. ``Is she one of the Gordons?''

``Mercy, no!'' cried Martha Galland. ``She simply took the name of Gordon — that is, her father did. He was a Russian peasant — a Jew. And he fell in love with a girl who was of noble family — a princess, I think.''

``Princess doesn't mean much in Russia,'' said Jane sourly.

``Anyhow, they ran away to this country. And he worked in the rolling mill here — and they both died — and Selma became a factory girl — and then took to writing for the New Day — that's Victor Dorn's paper, you know.''

``How romantic,'' said Jane sarcastically. ``And now Victor Dorn's in love with her?''

``I didn't say that,'' replied Martha, with a scandal-smile.

Jane Hastings went to the window and gazed out into the garden. Martha resumed her habitual warm day existence — sat rocking gently and fanning herself and looking leisurely about the room. Presently she said:

``Jane, why don't you marry Davy Hull?''

No answer.

``He's got an independent income — so there's no question of his marrying for money. And there isn't any family anywhere that's better than his — mighty few as good. And he's dead in love with you, Jen.''

With her back still turned Jane snapped, ``I'd rather marry Victor Dorn.''

``What outrageous things you do say!'' cried Martha.

``I envy that black Jewess — that — what's her name? — that Selma Gordon.''

``You don't even know them,'' said Martha.

Jane wheeled round with a strange laugh. ``Don't I?'' cried she. ``I don't know anyone else.''

She strode to her sister and tapped her lightly on the shoulder with the riding stick.

``Be careful,'' cautioned Martha. ``You know how easily my flesh mars — and I'm going to wear my low neck to-night.''

Jane did not heed. ``David Hull is a bore — and a fraud,'' she said. ``I tell you I'd rather marry Victor Dorn.''

``Do be careful about my skin, dear,'' pleaded Martha. ``Hugo'll be so put out if there's a mark on it. He's very proud of my skin.''

Jane looked at her quizzically. ``What a dear, fat old rotter of a respectability it is, to be sure,'' said she — and strode from the room, and from the house.

Her mood of perversity and defiance did not yield to a ten mile gallop over the gentle hills of that lovely part of Indiana, but held on through the afternoon and controlled her toilet for the ball. She knew that every girl in town would appear at that most fashionable party of the summer season in the best clothing she could get together. As she had several dresses from Paris which she not without reason regarded as notable works of art, the opportunity to outshine was hers — the sort of opportunity she took pleasure in using to the uttermost, as a rule. But to be the best dressed woman at Mrs. Bertram's party was too easy and too commonplace. To be the worst dressed would call for courage — of just the sort she prided herself on having. Also, it would look original, would cause talk — would give her the coveted sense of achievement.

When she descended to show herself to her father and say good night to him, she was certainly dressed by the same pattern that caused him to be talked about throughout that region. Her gown was mussed, had been mended obviously in several places, had not been in its best day becoming. But this was not all. Her hair looked stringy and dishevelled. She was delighted with herself. Except during an illness two years before never had she come so near to being downright homely. ``Martha will die of shame,'' said she to herself. ``And Mrs. Bertram will spend the evening explaining me to everybody.'' She did not definitely formulate the thought, ``And I shall be the most talked about person of the evening''; but it was in her mind none the less.

Her father always smoked his after-dinner cigar in a little room just off the library. It was filled up with the plain cheap furniture and the chromos and mottoes which he and his wife had bought when they first went to housekeeping — in their early days of poverty and struggle. On the south wall was a crude and cheap, but startlingly large enlargement of an old daguerreotype of Letitia Hastings at twenty-four — the year after her marriage and the year before the birth of the oldest child, Robert, called Dock, now piling up a fortune as an insider in the Chicago ``brave'' game of wheat and pork, which it is absurd to call gambling because gambling involves chance. To smoke the one cigar the doctor allowed him, old Martin Hastings always seated himself before this picture. He found it and his thoughts the best company in the world, just as he had found her silent self and her thoughts the best company in their twenty-one years of married life. As he sat there, sometimes he thought of her — of what they had been through together, of the various advances in his fortune — how this one had been made near such and such anniversary, and that one between two other anniversaries — and what he had said to her and what she had said to him. Again — perhaps oftener — he did not think of her directly, any more than he had thought of her when they sat together evening after evening, year in and year out, through those twenty-one years of contented and prosperous life.

As Jane entered he, seated back to the door, said:

``About that there Dorn damage suit — — ''

Jane started, caught her breath. Really, it was uncanny, this continual thrusting of Victor Dorn at her.

``It wasn't so bad as it looked,'' continued her father. He was speaking in the quiet voice — quiet and old and sad — he always used when seated before the picture.

``You see, Jenny, in them days'' — also, in presence of the picture he lapsed completely into the dialect of his youth — ``in them days the railroad was teetering and I couldn't tell which way things'd jump. Every cent counted.''

``I understand perfectly, father,'' said Jane, her hands on his shoulders from behind. She felt immensely relieved. She did not realize that every doer of a mean act always has an excellent excuse for it.

``Then afterwards,'' the old man went on, ``the family was getting along so well — the boy was working steady and making good money and pushing ahead — and I was afeared I'd do harm instead of good. It's mighty dangerous, Jen, to give money sudden to folks that ain't used to it. I've seen many a smash-up come that way. And your ma — she thought so, too — kind of.''

The ``kind of'' was advanced hesitatingly, with an apologetic side glance at the big crayon portrait. But Jane was entirely convinced. She was average human; therefore, she believed what she wished to believe.

``You were quite right, father,'' said she. ``I knew you couldn't do a bad thing — wouldn't deliberately strike at weak, helpless people. And now, it can be straightened out and the Dorns will be all the better for not having been tempted in the days when it might have ruined them.''

She had walked round where her father could see her, as she delivered herself of this speech so redolent of the fumes of collegiate smugness. He proceeded to examine her — with an expression of growing dissatisfaction. Said he fretfully:

``You don't calculate to go out, looking like that?''

``Out to the swellest blow-out of the year, popsy,'' said she.

The big heavy looking head wobbled about uneasily. ``You look too much like your old pappy's daughter,'' said he.

``I can afford to,'' replied she.

The head shook positively. ``You ma wouldn't 'a liked it. She was mighty partic'lar how she dressed.''

Jane laughed gayly. ``Why, when did you become a critic of women's dress?'' cried she.

``I always used to buy yer ma dresses and hats when I went to the city,'' said he. ``And she looked as good as the best — not for these days, but for them times.'' He looked critically at the portrait. ``I bought them clothes and awful dear they seemed to me.'' His glance returned to his daughter. ``Go get yourself up proper,'' said he, between request and command. ``She wouldn't 'a liked it.''

Jane gazed at the common old crayon, suddenly flung her arms round the old man's neck. ``Yes — father,'' she murmured. ``To please her.''

She fled; the old man wiped his eyes, blew his nose and resumed the careful smoking of the cheap, smelly cigar. He said he preferred that brand of his days of poverty; and it was probably true, as he would refuse better cigars offered him by fastidious men who hoped to save themselves from the horrors of his. He waited restlessly, though it was long past his bedtime; he yawned and pretended to listen while Davy Hull, who had called for Jane in the Hull brougham, tried to make a favorable impression upon him. At last Jane reappeared — and certainly Letitia Hastings would have been more than satisfied.

``Sorry to keep you waiting,'' said she to Hull, who was speechless and tremulous before her voluptuous radiance. ``But father didn't like the way I was rigged out. Maybe I'll have to change again.''

``Take her along, Davy,'' said Hastings, his big head wagging with delight. ``She's a caution — she is!''

Hull could not control himself to speak. As they sat in the carriage, she finishing the pulling on of her gloves, he stared out into the heavy rain that was deluging the earth and bending low the boughs. Said she, half way down the hill:

``Well — can't you talk about anything but Victor Dorn?''

``I saw him this afternoon,'' said Hull, glad that the tension of the silence was broken.

``Then you've got something to talk about.''

``The big street car strike is on.''

``So father said at dinner. I suppose Victor Dorn caused it.''

``No — he's opposed to it. He's queer. I don't exactly understand his ideas. He says strikes are ridiculous — that it's like trying to cure smallpox by healing up one single sore.''

Jane gave a shiver of lady-like disgust. ``How — nasty,'' said she.

``I'm telling you what he said. But he says that the only way human beings learn how to do things right is by doing them wrong — so while he's opposed to strikes he's also in favor of them.''

``Even I understand that,'' said Jane. ``I don't think it's difficult.''

``Doesn't it strike you as — as inconsistent?''

``Oh — bother consistency!'' scoffed the girl. ``That's another middle class virtue that sensible people loathe as a vice.''

Anyhow, he's helping the strikers all he can — and fighting us. You know, your father and my father's estate are the two biggest owners of the street railways.''

``I must get his paper,'' said Jane. ``I'll have a lot of fun reading the truth about us.''

But David wasn't listening. He was deep in thought. After a while he said: ``It's amazing — and splendid — and terrible, what power he's getting in our town. Victor Dorn, I mean.''

``Always Victor Dorn,'' mocked Jane.

``When he started — twelve years ago as a boy of twenty, just out of college and working as a carpenter — when he started, he was alone and poor, and without friends or anything. He built up little by little, winning one man at a time — the fellow working next him on his right, then the chap working on his left — in the shop — and so on, one man after another. And whenever he got a man he held him — made him as devoted — as — as fanatical as he is himself. Now he's got a band of nearly a thousand. There are ten thousand voters in this town. So, he's got only one in ten. But what a thousand!''

Jane was gazing out into the rain, her eyes bright, her lips parted.

``Are you listening?'' asked Hull. ``Or, am I boring you?''

``Go on,'' said she.

``They're a thousand missionaries — apostles — yes, apostle is the name for them. They live and breathe and think and talk only the ideas Victor Dorn believes and fights for. And whenever he wants anything done — anything for the cause — why, there are a thousand men ready to do it.''

``Why?'' said Jane.

``Victor Dorn,'' said Hull. ``Do you wonder that he interests me? For instance, to-night: you see how it's raining. Well, Victor Dorn had them print to-day fifty thousand leaflets about this strike — what it means to his cause. And he has asked five hundred of his men to stand on the corners and patrol the streets and distribute those dodgers. I'll bet not a man will be missing.''

``But why?'' repeated Jane. ``What for?''

``He wants to conquer this town. He says the world has to be conquered — and that the way to begin is to begin — and that he has begun.''

``Conquer it for what?''

``For himself, I guess,'' said Hull. ``Of course, he professes that it's for the public good. They all do. But what's the truth?''

``If I saw him I could tell you,'' said Jane in the full pride of her belief in her woman's power of divination in character.

``However, he can't succeed,'' observed Hull.

``Oh, yes, he can,'' replied Jane. ``And will. Even if every idea he had were foolish and wrong. And it isn't — is it?''

David laughed peculiarly. ``He's infernally uncomfortably right in most of the things he charges and proposes. I don't like to think about it.'' He shut his teeth together. ``I won't think about it,'' he muttered.

``No — you'd better stick to your own road, Davy,'' said Jane with irritating mockery. ``You were born to be thoroughly conventional and respectable. As a reformer you're ideal. As a — an imitator of Victor Dorn, you'd be a joke.''

``There's one of his men now,'' exclaimed Hull, leaning forward excitedly.

Jane looked. A working man, a commonplace enough object, was standing under the corner street lamp, the water running off his hat, his shoulders, his coat tail. His package of dodgers was carefully shielded by an oilcloth from the wet which had full swing at the man. To every passer-by he presented a dodger, accompanying the polite gesture with some phrase which seemed to move the man or woman to take what was offered and to put it away instead of dropping it.

Jane sank back in the carriage, disappointed. ``Is that all?'' said she disdainfully.

``All?'' cried Hull. ``Use your imagination, Jen. But I forgot — you're a woman. They see only surfaces.''

``And are snared into marrying by complexions and pretty features and dresses and silly flirting tricks,'' retorted the girl sarcastically.

Hull laughed. ``I spoke too quick that time,'' said he. ``I suppose you expected to see something out of a fifteenth century Italian old master! Well — it was there, all right.''

Jane shrugged her shoulders. ``And your Victor Dorn,'' said she, ``no doubt he's seated in some dry, comfortable place enjoying the thought of his men making fools of themselves for him.''

They were drawing up to the curb before the Opera House where were the assembly rooms. ``There he is now,'' cried Hull.

Jane, startled, leaned eagerly forward. In the rain beyond the edge of the awning stood a dripping figure not unlike that other which had so disappointed her. Underneath the brim of the hat she could see a smooth- shaven youngish face — almost boyish. But the rain streaming from the brim made satisfactory scrutiny impossible.

Jane again sank back. ``How many carriages before us?'' she said.

``You're disappointed in him, too, I suppose,'' said Hull. ``I knew you would be.''

``I thought he was tall,'' said Jane.

``Only middling,'' replied Hull, curiously delighted.

``I thought he was serious,'' said Jane.

``On the contrary, he's always laughing. He's the best natured man I know.''

As they descended and started along the carpet under the middle of the awning, Jane halted. She glanced toward the dripping figure whom the police would not permit under the shelter. Said she: ``I want one of those papers.''

Davy moved toward the drenched distributor of strike literature. ``Give me one, Dorn,'' he said in his most elegant manner.

``Sure, Davy,'' said Dorn in a tone that was a subtle commentary on Hull's aristocratic tone and manner. As he spoke he glanced at Jane; she was looking at him. Both smiled — at Davy's expense.

Davy and Jane passed on in, Jane folding the dodger to tuck it away for future reading. She said to him: ``But you didn't tell me about his eyes.''

``What's the matter with them?''

``Everything,'' replied she — and said no more.

II

The dance was even more tiresome than Jane had anticipated. There had been little pleasure in outshining the easily outshone belles of Remsen City. She had felt humiliated by having to divide the honors with a brilliantly beautiful and scandalously audacious Chicago girl, a Yvonne Hereford — whose style, in looks, in dress and in wit, was more comfortable to the standard of the best young men of Remsen City — a standard which Miss Hastings, cultivated by foreign travel and social adventure, regarded as distinctly poor, not to say low. Miss Hereford's audacities were especially offensive to Jane. Jane was audacious herself, but she flattered herself that she had a delicate sense of that baffling distinction between the audacity that is the hall mark of the lady and the audacity that proclaims the not-lady. For example, in such apparently trifling matters as the way of smoking a cigarette, the way of crossing the legs or putting the elbows on the table or using slang, Jane found a difference, abysmal though narrow, between herself and Yvonne Hereford. ``But then, her very name gives her away,'' reflected Jane. ``There'd surely be a frightfully cheap streak in a mother who in this country would name her daughter Yvonne — or in a girl who would name herself that.''

However, Jane Hastings was not deeply annoyed either by the shortcomings of Remsen City young men or by the rivalry of Miss Hereford. Her dissatisfaction was personal — the feeling of futility, of cheapness, in having dressed herself in her best and spent a whole evening at such unworthy business. ``Whatever I am or am not fit for,'' said she to herself, ``I'm not for society — any kind of society. At least I'm too much grown-up mentally for that.'' Her disdainful thoughts about others were, on this occasion as almost always, merely a mode of expressing her self-scorn.

As she was undressing she found in her party bag the dodger Hull had got for her from Victor Dorn. She, sitting at her dressing table, started to read it at once. But her attention soon wandered. ``I'm not in the mood,'' she said. ``To-morrow.'' And she tossed it into the top drawer. The fact was, the subject of politics interested her only when some man in whom she was interested was talking it to her. In a general way she understood things political, but like almost all women and all but a few men she could fasten her attention only on things directly and clearly and nearly related to her own interests. Politics seemed to her to be not at all related to her — or, indeed, to anybody but the men running for office. This dodger was politics, pure and simple. A plea to workingmen to awaken to the fact that their strikes were stupid and wasteful, that the way to get better pay and decent hours of labor was by uniting, taking possession of the power that was rightfully theirs and regulating their own affairs.

She resumed fixing her hair for the night. Her glance bent steadily downward at one stage of this performance, rested unseeingly upon the handbill folded printed side out and on top of the contents of the open drawer. She happened to see two capital letters — S. G. — in a line by themselves at the end of the print. She repeated them mechanically several times — ``S. G. — S. G. — S. G.'' — then her hands fell from her hair upon the handbill. She settled herself to read in earnest.

``Selma Gordon,'' she said. ``That's different.''

She would have had some difficulty in explaining to herself why it was ``different.'' She read closely, concentratedly now. She tried to read in an attitude of unfriendly criticism, but she could not. A dozen lines, and the clear, earnest, honest sentences had taken hold of her. How sensible the statements were, and how obviously true. Why, it wasn't the writing of an ``anarchistic crank'' at all — on the contrary, the writer was if anything more excusing toward the men who were giving the drivers and motormen a dollar and ten cents a day for fourteen hours' work — ``fourteen hours!'' cried Jane, her cheeks burning — yes, Selma Gordon was more tolerant of the owners of the street car line than Jane herself would have been.

When Jane had read, she gazed at the print with sad envy in her eyes. ``Selma Gordon can think — and she can write, too,'' said she half aloud. ``I want to know her — too.''

That ``too'' was the first admission to herself of a curiously intense desire to meet Victor Dorn.

``Oh, to be in earnest about something! To have a real interest! To find something to do besides the nursery games disguised under new forms for the grown-up yet never to be grown-up infants of the world. ``And that kind of politics doesn't sound shallow and dull. There's heart in it — and brains — real brains — not merely nasty little self-seeking cunning.'' She took up the handbill again and read a paragraph set in bolder type:

``The reason we of the working class are slaves is because we haven't intelligence enough to be our own masters, let alone masters of anybody else. The talk of equality, workingmen, is nonsense to flatter your silly, ignorant vanity. We are not the equals of our masters. They know more than we do, and naturally they use that knowledge to make us work for them. So, even if you win in this strike or in all your strikes, you will not much better yourselves. Because you are ignorant and foolish, your masters will scheme around and take from you in some other way what you have wrenched from them in the strike.

``Organize! Think! Learn! Then you will rise out of the dirt where you wallow with your wives and your children. Don't blame your masters; they don't enslave you. They don't keep you in slavery. Your chains are of your own forging and only you can strike them off!''

Certainly no tenement house woman could be lazier, emptier of head, more inane of life than her sister Martha. ``She wouldn't even keep clean if it wasn't the easiest thing in the world for her to do, and a help at filling in her long idle day.'' Yet — Martha Galland had every comfort and most of the luxuries, was as sheltered from all the hardships as a hot-house flower. Then there was Hugo — to go no further afield than the family. Had he ever done an honest hour's work in his life? Could anyone have less brains than he? Yet Hugo was rich and respected, was a director in big corporations, was a member of a first-class law firm. ``It isn't fair,'' thought the girl. ``I've always felt it. I see now why. It's a bad system of taking from the many for the benefit of us few. And it's kept going by a few clever, strong men like father. They work for themselves and their families and relatives and for their class — and the rest of the people have to suffer.''

She did not fall asleep for several hours, such was the tumult in her aroused brain. The first thing the next morning she went down town, bought copies of the New Day — for that week and for a few preceding weeks — and retreated to her favorite nook in her father's grounds to read and to think — and to plan. She searched the New Day in vain for any of the wild, wandering things Davy and her father had told her Victor Dorn was putting forth. The four pages of each number were given over either to philosophical articles no more ``anarchistic'' than Emerson's essays, not so much so as Carlyle's, or to plain accounts of the current stealing by the politicians of Remsen City, of the squalor and disease — danger in the tenements, of the outrages by the gas and water and street car companies. There was much that was terrible, much that was sad, much that was calculated to make an honest heart burn with indignation against those who were cheerily sacrificing the whole community to their desire for profits and dividends and graft, public and private. But there was also a great deal of humor — of rather a sardonic kind, but still seeing the fantastic side of this grand game of swindle.

Two paragraphs made an especial impression on her:

``Remsen City is no worse — and no better — than other American cities. It's typical. But we who live here needn't worry about the rest of the country. The thing for us to do is to clean up at home.''

``We are more careful than any paper in this town about verifying every statement we make, before we make it. If we should publish a single statement about anyone that was false even in part we would be suppressed. The judges, the bosses, the owners of the big blood-sucking public service corporations, the whole ruling class, are eager to put us out of existence. Don't forget this fact when you hear the New Day called a lying, demagogical sheet.''

With the paper beside her on the rustic bench, she fell to dreaming — not of a brighter and better world, of a wiser and freer race, but of Victor Dorn, the personality that had unaided become such a power in Remsen City, the personality that sparkled and glowed in the interesting pages of the New Day, that made its sentences read as if they were spoken into your very ears by an earnest, honest voice issuing from a fascinating, humor-loving, intensely human and natural person before your very eyes. But it was not round Victor Dorn's brain that her imagination played.

``After all,'' thought she, ``Napoleon wasn't much over five feet. Most of the big men have been little men. Of course, there were Alexander — and Washington — and Lincoln, but — how silly to bother about a few inches of height, more or less! And he wasn't really short. Let me see — how high did he come on Davy when Davy was standing near him? Above his shoulder — and Davy's six feet two or three. He's at least as tall as I am — anyhow, in my ordinary heels.''

She was attracted by both the personalities she discovered in the little journal. She believed she could tell them apart. About some of the articles, the shorter ones, she was doubtful. But in those of any length she could feel that difference which enables one to distinguish the piano touch of a player in another room — whether it is male or female. Presently she was searching for an excuse for scraping acquaintance with this pair of pariahs — pariahs so far as her world was concerned. And soon she found it. The New Day was taking subscriptions for a fund to send sick children and their mothers to the country for a vacation from the dirt and heat of the tenements — for Remsen City, proud though it was and boastful of its prosperity, housed most of its inhabitants in slums — though of course that low sort of people oughtn't really to be counted — except for purposes of swelling census figures — and to do all the rough and dirty work necessary to keep civilization going.

She would subscribe to this worthy charity — and would take her subscription, herself. Settled — easily and well settled. She did not involve herself, or commit herself in any way. Besides, those who might find out and might think she had overstepped the bounds would excuse her on the ground that she had not been back at home long and did not realize what she was doing.

What should she wear?

Her instinct was for an elaborate toilet — a descent in state — or such state as the extremely limited resources of Martin Hastings' stables would permit. The traps he had ordered for her had not yet come; she had been glad to accept David Hull's offer of a lift the night before. Still, without a carriage or a motor she could make quite an impression with a Paris walking dress and hat, properly supported by fashionable accessories of the toilet. Good sense and good taste forbade these promptings of nature. No, she would dress most simply — in her very plainest things — taking care to maintain all her advantages of face and figure. If she overwhelmed Dorn and Miss Gordon, she would defeat her own purpose — would not become acquainted with them.

In the end she rejected both courses and decided for the riding costume. The reason she gave for this decision — the reason she gave herself — was that the riding costume would invest the call with an air of accident, of impulse. The real reason.

It may be that some feminine reader can guess why she chose the most startling, the most gracefully becoming, the most artlessly physical apparel in her wardrobe.

She said nothing to her father at lunch about her plans. Why should she speak of them? He might oppose; also, she might change her mind. After lunch she set out on her usual ride, galloping away into the hills — but she had put twenty-five dollars in bills in her trousers pocket. She rode until she felt that her color was at its best, and then she made for town — a swift, direct ride, her heart beating high as if she were upon a most daring and fateful adventure. And, as a matter of fact, never in her life had she done anything that so intensely interested her. She felt that she was for the first time slackening rein upon those unconventional instincts, of unknown strength and purpose, which had been making her restless with their vague stirrings.

``How silly of me!'' she thought. ``I'm doing a commonplace, rather common thing — and I'm trying to make it seem a daring, romantic adventure. I must be hard up for excitement!''

Toward the middle of the afternoon she dropped from her horse before the office of the New Day and gave a boy the bridle. ``I'll be back in a minute,'' she explained. It was a two-story frame building, dingy and in disrepair. On the street floor was a grocery. Access to the New Day was by a rickety stairway. As she ascended this, making a great noise on its unsteady boards with her boots, she began to feel cheap and foolish. She recalled what Hull had said in the carriage. ``No doubt,'' replied she, ``I'd feel much the same way if I were going to see Jesus Christ — a carpenter's son, sitting in some hovel, talking with his friends the fishermen and camel drivers — not to speak of the women.''

The New Day occupied two small rooms — an editorial work room, and a printing work room behind it. Jane Hastings, in the doorway at the head of the stairs, was seeing all there was to see. In the editorial room were two tables — kitchen tables, littered with papers and journals, as was the floor, also. At the table directly opposite the door no one was sitting — ``Victor Dorn's desk,'' Jane decided. At the table by the open window sat a girl, bent over her writing. Jane saw that the figure was below, probably much below, the medium height for woman, that it was slight and strong, that it was clad in a simple, clean gray linen dress. The girl's black hair, drawn into a plain but distinctly graceful knot, was of that dense and wavy thickness which is a characteristic and a beauty of the Hebrew race. The skin at the nape of her neck, on her hands, on her arms bare to the elbows was of a beautiful dead-white — the skin that so admirably compliments dead-black hair.

Before disturbing this busy writer Jane glanced round. There was nothing to detain her in the view of the busy printing plant in the room beyond. But on the walls of the room before her were four pictures — lithographs, cheap, not framed, held in place by a tack at each corner. There was Washington — then Lincoln — then a copy of Leonardo's Jesus in the Last Supper fresco — and a fourth face, bearded, powerful, imperious, yet wonderfully kind and good humored — a face she did not know. Pointing her riding stick at it she said:

``And who is that?''

With a quick but not in the least a startled movement the girl at the table straightened her form, turned in her chair, saying, as she did so, without having seen the pointing stick:

``That is Marx — Karl Marx.''

Jane was so astonished by the face she was now seeing — the face of the girl — that she did not hear the reply. The girl's hair and skin had reminded her of what Martha had told her about the Jewish, or half-Jewish, origin of Selma Gordon. Thus, she assumed that she would see a frankly Jewish face. Instead, the face looking at her from beneath the wealth of thick black hair, carelessly parted near the centre, was Russian — was Cossack — strange and primeval, intense, dark, as superbly alive as one of those exuberant tropical flowers that seem to cry out the mad joy of life. Only, those flowers suggest the evanescent, the flame burning so fiercely that it must soon burn out, while this Russian girl declared that life was eternal. You could not think of her as sick, as old, as anything but young and vigorous and vivid, as full of energy as a healthy baby that kicks its dresses into rags and wears out the strength of its strapping nurse. Her nose was as straight as Jane's own particularly fine example of nose. Her dark gray eyes, beneath long, slender, coal black lines of brow, were brimming with life and with fun. She had a wide, frank, scarlet mouth; her teeth were small and sharp and regular, and of the strong and healthy shade of white. She had a very small, but a very resolute chin. With another quick, free movement she stood up. She was indeed small, but formed in proportion. She seemed out of harmony with her linen dress. She looked as if she ought to be careening on the steppes in some romantic, half-savage costume. Jane's first and instant thought was, ``There's not another like her in the whole world. She's the only living specimen of her kind.''

``Gracious!'' exclaimed Jane. ``But you are healthy.''

The smile took full advantage of the opportunity to broaden into a laugh. A most flattering expression of frank, childlike admiration came into the dark gray eyes. ``You're not sickly, yourself,'' replied Selma. Jane was disappointed that the voice was not untamed Cossack, but was musically civilized.

``Yes, but I don't flaunt it as you do,'' rejoined Jane. ``You'd make anyone who was the least bit off, furious.''

Selma, still with the child-like expression, but now one of curiosity, was examining Jane's masculine riding dress. ``What a sensible suit!'' she cried, delightedly. ``I'd wear something like that all the time, if I dared.''

``Dared?'' said Jane. ``You don't look like the frightened sort.''

``Not on account of myself,'' explained Selma. ``On account of the cause. You see, we are fighting for a new idea. So, we have to be careful not to offend people's prejudices about ideas not so important. If we went in for everything that's sensible, we'd be regarded as cranks. One thing at a time.''

Jane's glance shifted to the fourth picture. ``Didn't you say that was — Karl Marx?''

``Yes.''

``He wrote a book on political economy. I tried to read it at college. But I couldn't. It was too heavy for me. He was a Socialist — wasn't he? — the founder of Socialism?''

``A great deal more than that,'' replied Selma. ``He was the most important man for human liberty that ever lived — except perhaps one.'' And she looked at Leonardo's ``man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.''

``Marx was a — a Hebrew — wasn't he?''

Selma's eyes danced, and Jane felt that she was laughing at her hesitation and choice of the softer word. Selma said:

``Yes — he was a Jew. Both were Jews.''

``Both?'' inquired Jane, puzzled.

``Marx and Jesus,'' explained Selma.

Jane was startled. ``So He was a Jew — wasn't He?''

``And they were both labor leaders — labor agitators. The first one proclaimed the brotherhood of man. But he regarded this world as hopeless and called on the weary and heavy laden masses to look to the next world for the righting of their wrongs. Then — eighteen centuries after — came that second Jew'' — Selma looked passionate, reverent admiration at the powerful, bearded face, so masterful, yet so kind — ``and he said: `No! not in the hereafter, but in the here. Here and now, my brothers. Let us make this world a heaven. Let us redeem ourselves and destroy the devil of ignorance who is holding us in this hell.' It was three hundred years before that first Jew began to triumph. It won't be so long before there are monuments to Marx in clean and beautiful and free cities all over the earth.''

Jane listened intensely. There was admiring envy in her eyes as she cried: ``How splendid! — to believe in something — and work for it and live for it — as you do!''

Selma laughed, with a charming little gesture of the shoulders and the hands that reminded Jane of her foreign parentage. ``Nothing else seems worth while,'' said she. ``Nothing else is worth while. There are only two entirely great careers — to be a teacher of the right kind and work to ease men's minds — as those four did — or to be a doctor of the right kind and work to make mankind healthy. All the suffering, all the crime, all the wickedness, comes from ignorance or bad health — or both. Usually it's simply bad health.''

Jane felt as if she were devoured of thirst and drinking at a fresh, sparkling spring. ``I never thought of that before,'' said she.

``If you find out all about any criminal, big or little, you'll discover that he had bad health — poisons in his blood that goaded him on.''

Jane nodded. ``Whenever I'm difficult to get on with, I'm always not quite well.''

``I can see that your disposition is perfect, when you are well,'' said Selma.

``And yours,'' said Jane.

``Oh, I'm never out of humor,'' said Selma. ``You see, I'm never sick — not the least bit.''

``You are Miss Gordon, aren't you?''

``Yes — I'm Selma Gordon.''

``My name is Jane Hastings.'' Then as this seemed to convey nothing to Selma, Jane added: ``I'm not like you. I haven't an individuality of my own — that anybody knows about. So, I'll have to identify myself by saying that I'm Martin Hastings' daughter.''

Jane confidently expected that this announcement would cause some sort of emotion — perhaps of awe, perhaps of horror, certainly of interest. She was disappointed. If Selma felt anything she did not show it — and Jane was of the opinion that it would be well nigh impossible for so direct and natural a person to conceal. Jane went on:

``I read in your paper about your fund for sick children. I was riding past your office — saw the sign — and I've come in to give what I happen to have about me.'' She drew out the small roll of bills and handed it to Selma.

The Russian girl — if it is fair thus to characterize one so intensely American in manner, in accent and in speech — took the money and said:

``We'll acknowledge it in the paper next week.''

Jane flushed and a thrill of alarm ran through her. ``Oh — please — no,'' she urged. ``I'd not like to have my name mentioned. That would look as if I had done it to seem charitable. Besides, it's such a trifle.''

Selma was calm and apparently unsuspicious. ``Very well,'' said she. ``We'll write, telling what we did with the money, so that you can investigate.''

``But I trust you entirely,'' cried Jane.

Selma shook her head. ``But we don't wish to be trusted,'' said she. ``Only dishonest people wish to be trusted when it's possible to avoid trusting. And we all need watching. It helps us to keep straight.''

``Oh, I don't agree with you,'' protested Miss Hastings. ``Lots of the time I'd hate to be watched. I don't want everybody to know all I do.''

Selma's eyes opened. ``Why not?'' she said.

Jane cast about for a way to explain what seemed to her a self-evident truth. ``I mean — privacy,'' she said. ``For instance, if you were in love, you'd not want everybody to know about it?''

``Yes, indeed,'' declared Selma. ``I'd be tremendously proud of it. It must be wonderful to be in love.''

In one of those curious twists of feminine nature, Miss Hastings suddenly felt the glow of a strong, unreserved liking for this strange, candid girl.

Selma went on: ``But I'm afraid I never shall be. I get no time to think about myself. From rising till bed time my work pushes at me.'' She glanced uneasily at her desk, apologetically at Miss Hastings. ``I ought to be writing this minute. The strike is occupying Victor, and I'm helping out with his work.''

``I'm interrupting,'' said Jane. ``I'll go.'' She put out her hand with her best, her sweetest smile. ``We're going to be friends — aren't we?''

Selma clasped her hand heartily and said: ``We are friends. I like everybody. There's always something to like in everyone — and the bad part isn't their fault. But it isn't often that I like anyone so much as I do you. You are so direct and honest — quite different from the other women of your class that I've met.''

Jane felt unaccountably grateful and humble. ``I'm afraid you're too generous. I guess you're not a very good judge of people,'' she said.

``So Victor — Victor Dorn — says,'' laughed Selma. ``He says I'm too confiding. Well — why not? And really, he trusts everybody, too — except with the cause. Then he's — he's'' — she glanced from face to face of the four pictures — ``he's like those men.''

Jane's glance followed Selma's. She said: ``Yes — I should imagine so — from what I've heard.'' She startled, flushed, hid behind a somewhat constrained manner. ``Will you come up to my house to lunch?''

``If I can find time,'' said Selma. ``But I'd rather come and take you for a walk. I have to walk two hours every day. It's the only thing that'll keep my head clear.''

``When will you come? — to-morrow?''

``Is nine o'clock too early?''

Jane reflected that her father left for business at half-past eight. ``Nine to-morrow,'' she said. ``Good-by again.''

As she was mounting her horse, she saw ``the Cossack girl,'' as she was calling her, writing away at the window hardly three feet above the level of Jane's head when she was mounted, so low was the first story of the battered old frame house. But Selma did not see her; she was all intent upon the writing. ``She's forgotten me already,'' thought Jane with a pang of jealous vanity. She added: ``But she has something to think about — she and Victor Dorn.''

She was so preoccupied that she rode away with only an absent thank you for the small boy, in an older and much larger and wider brother's cast-off shirt, suspenders and trousers. At the corner of the avenue she remembered and turned her horse. There stood the boy gazing after her with a hypnotic intensity that made her smile. She rode back fumbling in her pockets. ``I beg your pardon,'' said she to the boy. Then she called up to Selma Gordon:

``Miss Gordon — please — will you lend me a quarter until to-morrow?''

Selma looked up, stared dazedly at her, smiled absently at Miss Hastings — and Miss Hastings had the strongest confirmation of her suspicion that Selma had forgotten her and her visit the instant she vanished from the threshold of the office. Said Selma: ``A quarter? — oh, yes — certainly.'' She seemed to be searching a drawer or a purse out of sight. ``I haven't anything but a five dollar bill. I'm so sorry'' — this in an absent manner, with most of her thoughts evidently still upon her work. She rose, leaned from the window, glanced up the street, then down. She went on:

``There comes Victor Dorn. He'll lend it to you.''

Along the ragged brick walk at a quick pace the man who had in such abrupt fashion stormed Jane Hasting's fancy and taken possession of her curiosity was advancing with a basket on his arm. He was indeed a man of small stature — about the medium height for a woman — about the height of Jane Hastings. But his figure was so well put together and his walk so easy and free from self-consciousness that the question of stature no sooner arose than it was dismissed. His head commanded all the attention — its poise and the remarkable face that fronted it. The features were bold, the skin was clear and healthy and rather fair. His eyes — gray or green blue and set neither prominently nor retreatedly — seemed to be seeing and understanding all that was going on about him. He had a strong, rather relentless mouth — the mouth of men who make and compel sacrifices for their ambitions.

``Victor,'' cried Selma as soon as he was within easy range of her voice, ``please lend Miss Hastings a quarter.'' And she immediately sat down and went to work again, with the incident dismissed from mind.

The young man — for he was plainly not far beyond thirty — halted and regarded the young woman on the horse.

``I wish to give this young gentleman here a quarter,'' said Jane. ``He was very good about holding my horse.''

The words were not spoken before the young gentleman darted across the narrow street and into a yard hidden by masses of clematis, morning glory and sweet peas. And Jane realized that she had wholly mistaken the meaning of that hypnotic stare.

Victor laughed — the small figure, the vast clothes, the bare feet with voluminous trousers about them made a ludicrous sight. ``He doesn't want it,'' said Victor. ``Thank you just the same.''

``But I want him to have it,'' said Jane.

With a significant unconscious glance at her costume Dorn said: ``Those costumes haven't reached our town yet.''

``He did some work for me. I owe it to him.''

``He's my sister's little boy,'' said Dorn, with his amiable, friendly smile. ``We mustn't start him in the bad way of expecting pay for politeness.''

Jane colored as if she had been rebuked, when in fact his tone forbade the suggestion of rebuke. There was an unpleasant sparkle in her eyes as she regarded the young man in the baggy suit, with the basket on his arm. ``I beg your pardon,'' said she coldly. ``I naturally didn't know your peculiar point of view.''

``That's all right,'' said Dorn carelessly. ``Thank you, and good day.'' And with a polite raising of the hat and a manner of good humored friendliness that showed how utterly unconscious he was of her being offended at him, he hastened across the street and went in at the gate where the boy had vanished. And Jane had the sense that he had forgotten her. She glanced nervously up at the window to see whether Selma Gordon was witnessing her humiliation — for so she regarded it. But Selma was evidently lost in a world of her own. ``She doesn't love him,'' Jane decided. ``For, even though she is a strange kind of person, she's a woman — and if she had loved him she couldn't have helped watching while he talked with another woman — especially with one of my appearance and class.''

Jane rode slowly away. At the corner — it was a long block — she glanced toward the scene she had just quitted. Involuntarily she drew rein. Victor and the boy had come out into the street and were playing catches. The game did not last long. Dorn let the boy corner him and seize him, then gave him a great toss into the air, catching him as he came down and giving him a hug and a kiss. The boy ran shouting merrily into the yard; Victor disappeared in the entrance to the offices of the New Day.

That evening, as she pretended to listen to Hull on national politics, and while dressing the following morning Jane reflected upon her adventure. She decided that Dorn and the ``wild girl'' were a low, ill-mannered pair with whom she had nothing in common, that her fantastic, impulsive interest in them had been killed, that for the future she would avoid ``all that sort of cattle.'' She would receive Selma Gordon politely, of course — would plead headache as an excuse for not walking, would get rid of her as soon as possible. ``No doubt,'' thought Jane, with the familiar, though indignantly denied, complacence of her class, ``as soon as she gets in here she'll want to hang on. She played it very well, but she must have been crazy with delight at my noticing her and offering to take her up.''

The postman came as Jane was finishing breakfast. He brought a note from Selma — a hasty pencil scrawl on a sheet of printer's copy paper:

``Dear Miss Hastings: For the present I'm too busy to take my walks. So, I'll not be there to-morrow. With best regards, S. G.'

Such a fury rose up in Jane that the undigested breakfast went wrong and put her in condition to give such exhibition as chance might tempt of that ugliness of disposition which appears from time to time in all of us not of the meek and worm-like class, and which we usually attribute to any cause under the sun but the vulgar right one. ``The impertinence!'' muttered Jane, with a second glance at the note which conveyed; among other humiliating things, an impression of her own absolute lack of importance to Selma Gordon. ``Serves me right for lowering myself to such people. If I wanted to try to do anything for the working class I'd have to keep away from them. They're so unattractive to look at and to associate with — not like those shrewd, respectful, interesting peasants one finds on the other side. They're better in the East. They know their place in a way. But out here they're insufferable.''

And she spent the morning quarrelling with her maid and the other servants, issuing orders right and left, working herself into a horrible mood dominated by a headache that was anything but a pretense. As she wandered about the house and gardens, she trailed a beautiful negligee with that carelessness which in a woman of clean and orderly habits invariably indicates the possession of many clothes and of a maid who can be counted on to freshen things up before they shall be used again. Her father came home to lunch in high good humor.

``I'll not go down town again for a few days,'' said he. ``I reckon I'd best keep out of the way. That scoundrelly Victor Dorn has done so much lying and inciting these last four or five years that it ain't safe for a man like me to go about when there's trouble with the hands.''

``Isn't it outrageous!'' exclaimed Jane. ``He ought to be stopped.''

Hastings chuckled and nodded. ``And he will be,'' said he. ``Wait till this strike's over.''

``When will that be?'' asked Jane.

``Mighty soon,'' replied her father. ``I was ready for 'em this time — good and ready. I've sent word to the governor that I want the militia down here to-morrow — — ''

``Has there been a riot?'' cried Jane anxiously.

``Not yet,'' said Hastings. He was laughing to himself. ``But there will be to-night. Then the governor'll send the troops in to-morrow afternoon.''

``But maybe the men'll be quiet, and then — — '' began Jane, sick inside and trembling.

``When I say a thing'll happen, it'll happen,'' interrupted her father. ``We've made up our minds it's time to give these fellows a lesson. It's got to be done. A milder lesson'll serve now, where later on it'd have to be hard. I tell you these things because I want you to remember 'em. They'll come in handy — when you'll have to look after your own property.''

She knew how her father hated the thought of his own death; this was the nearest he had ever come to speaking of it. ``Of course, there's your brother William,'' he went on. ``William's a good boy — and a mighty good business man — though he does take risks I'd never 'a took — not even when I was young and had nothing to lose. Yes — and Billy's honest. But'' — the big head shook impressively — ``William's human, Jenny — don't ever forget that. The love of money's an awful thing.'' A lustful glitter like the shine of an inextinguishable fire made his eyes fascinating and terrible. ``It takes hold of a man and never lets go. To see the money pile up — and up — and up.''

The girl turned away her gaze. She did not wish to see so far into her father's soul. It seemed a hideous indecency.

``So, Jenny — don't trust William, but look after your own property.''

``Oh, I don't care anything about it, popsy,'' she cried, fighting to think of him and to speak to him as simply the living father she had always insisted on seeing.

``Yes — you do care,'' said Hastings sharply. ``You've got to have your money, because that's your foundation — what you're built on. And I'm going to train you. This here strike's a good time to begin.''

After a long silence she said: ``Yes, money's what I'm built on. I might as well recognize the truth and act accordingly. I want you to teach me, father.''

``I've got to educate you so as, when you get control, you won't go and do fool sentimental things like some women — and some men that warn't trained practically — men like that Davy Hull you think so well of. Things that'd do no good and 'd make you smaller and weaker.''

``I understand,'' said the girl. ``About this strike — why won't you give the men shorter hours and better pay?''

``Because the company can't afford it. As things are now, there's only enough left for a three per cent dividend after the interest on the bonds is paid.''

She had read in the New Day that by a series of tricks the ``traction ring'' had quadrupled the bonded indebtedness of the roads and multiplied the stock by six, and had pocketed the proceeds of the steal; that three per cent on the enormously inflated capital was in fact eighteen per cent on the actual stock value; that seven per cent on the bonds was in fact twenty-eight per cent on the actual bonded indebtedness; that this traction steal was a fair illustration of how in a score of ways in Remsen City, in a thousand and one ways in all parts of the country, the upper class was draining away the substance of the masses, was swindling them out of their just wages, was forcing them to pay many times the just prices for every article of civilized use. She had read these things — she had thought about them — she had realized that they were true.

She did not put to her father the question that was on her lips — the next logical question after his answer that the company could not afford to cut the hours lower than fourteen or to raise wages to what was necessary for a man to have if he and his family were to live, not in decency and comfort, but in something less than squalor. She did not put the question because she wished to spare her father — to spare herself the shame of hearing his tricky answer — to spare herself the discomfort of squarely facing a nasty truth.

Instead she said: ``I understand. And you have got to look out for the rights of the people who have invested their money.''

``If I didn't I'd be cheating them,'' said Hastings. ``And if the men don't like their jobs, why, they can quit and get jobs they do like.'' He added, in absolute unconsciousness of his inconsistency, in absolute belief in his own honesty and goodness, ``The truth is our company pays as high wages as can be got anywhere. As for them hours — when I was working my way up, I used to put in sixteen and eighteen hours a day, and was mighty glad to do it. This lazy talk of cutting down hours makes me sick. And these fellows that're always kicking on their jobs, I'd like to know what'd become of them and their families if I and men like me didn't provide work for 'em.''

``Yes, indeed!'' cried Jane, eagerly seizing upon this attractive view of the situation — and resolutely accepting it without question.

In came one of the maids, saying: ``There's a man wants to see you, Mr. Hastings.''

``What's his name? What does he want?'' inquired Hastings, while Jane made a mental note that she must try to inject at least a little order and form into the manners of announcing visitors.

``He didn't give a name. He just said, `Tell the old man I want to see him.' I ain't sure, but I think it's Dick Kelly.''

As Lizzie was an ardent Democrat, she spoke the name contemptuously — for Dick Kelly was the Republican boss. If it had been House, the Democratic boss and Kelly's secret dependent and henchman, she would have said ``Mr. Joseph House'' in a tone of deep respect.

``Kelly,'' said Hastings. ``Must be something important or he'd 'a telephoned or asked me to see him at my office or at the Lincoln Club. He never came out here before. Bring him in, Lizzie.''

A moment and there appeared in the doorway a man of perhaps forty years who looked like a prosperous contractor who had risen from the ranks. His figure was notable for its solidity and for the power of the shoulders; but already there were indications that the solidity, come of hard manual labor in early life, was soon to soften into fat under the melting influence of prosperity and the dissipation it put within too easy reach. The striking features of his face were a pair of keen, hard, greenish eyes and a jaw that protruded uglily — the jaw of aggressiveness, not the too prominent jaw of weakness. At sight of Jane he halted awkwardly.

``How're you, Mr. Hastings?'' said he.

``Hello, Dick,'' said the old man. ``This is my daughter Jane.''

Jane smiled a pleasant recognition of the introduction. Kelly said stiffly, ``How're you, ma'am?''

``Want to see me alone, I suppose?'' Hastings went on. ``You go out on the porch, Jenny.''

As soon as Jane disappeared Kelly's stiffness and clumsiness vanished. To head off Hastings' coming offer of a cigar, he drew one from his pocket and lighted it. ``There's hell to pay, Mr. Hastings,'' he began, seating himself near the old man, tilting back in his chair and crossing his legs.

``Well, I reckon you can take care of it,'' said Hastings calmly.

``Oh, yes, we kin take care of it, all right. Only, I don't want to do nothing without consulting you.''

In these two statements Mr. Kelly summed up the whole of politics in Remsen City, in any city anywhere, in the country at large.

Kelly had started life as a blacksmith. But he soon tired of the dullness and toil and started forth to find some path up to where men live by making others work for them instead of plodding along at the hand-to-mouth existence that is the lot of those who live by their own labors alone. He was a safe blower for a while, but wisely soon abandoned that fascinating but precarious and unremunerative career. From card sharp following the circus and sheet-writer to a bookmaker he graduated into bartender, into proprietor of a doggery. As every saloon is a political club, every saloon-keeper is of necessity a politician. Kelly's woodbox happened to be a convenient place for directing the floaters and the repeaters. Kelly's political importance grew apace. His respectability grew more slowly. But it had grown and was growing.

If you had asked Lizzie, the maid, why she was a Democrat, she would have given no such foolish reason as the average man gives. She would not have twaddled about principles — when everyone with eyeteeth cut ought to know that principles have departed from politics, now that both parties have been harmonized and organized into agencies of the plutocracy. She would not have said she was a Democrat because her father was, or because all her friends and associates were. She would have replied — in pleasantly Americanized Irish:

``I'm a Democrat because when my father got too old to work, Mr. House, the Democrat leader, gave him a job on the elevator at the Court House — though that dirty thief and scoundrel, Kelly, the Republican boss, owned all the judges and county officers. And when my brother lost his place as porter because he took a drink too many, Mr. House gave him a card to the foreman of the gas company, and he went to work at eight a week and is there yet.''

Mr. Kelly and Mr. House belong to a maligned and much misunderstood class. Whenever you find anywhere in nature an activity of any kind, however pestiferous its activity may seem to you — or however good — you may be sure that if you look deep enough you will find that that activity has a use, arises from a need. The ``robber trusts'' and the political bosses are interesting examples of this basic truth. They have arisen because science, revolutionizing human society, has compelled it to organize. The organization is crude and clumsy and stupid, as yet, because men are ignorant, are experimenting, are working in the dark. So, the organizing forces are necessarily crude and clumsy and stupid.

Mr. Hastings was — all unconsciously — organizing society industrially. Mr. Kelly — equally unconscious of the true nature of his activities — was organizing society politically. And as industry and politics are — and ever have been — at bottom two names for identically the same thing, Mr. Hastings and Mr. Kelly were bound sooner or later to get together.

Remsen City was organized like every other large or largish community. There were two clubs — the Lincoln and the Jefferson — which well enough represented the ``respectable elements'' — that is, those citizens who were of the upper class. There were two other clubs — the Blaine and the Tilden — which were similarly representative of the ``rank and file'' and, rather, of the petty officers who managed the rank and file and voted it and told it what to think and what not to think, in exchange taking care of the needy sick, of the aged, of those out of work and so on. Martin Hastings — the leading Republican citizen of Remsen City, though for obvious reasons his political activities were wholly secret and stealthy — was the leading spirit in the Lincoln Club. Jared Olds — Remsen City's richest and most influential Democrat, the head of the gas company and the water company — was foremost in the Jefferson Club. At the Lincoln and the Jefferson you rarely saw any but ``gentlemen'' — men of established position and fortune, deacons and vestrymen, judges, corporation lawyers and the like. The Blaine and the Tilden housed a livelier and a far less select class — the ``boys'' — the active politicians, the big saloon keepers, the criminal lawyers, the gamblers, the chaps who knew how to round up floaters and to handle gangs of repeaters, the active young sports working for political position, by pitching and carrying for the political leaders, by doing their errands of charity or crookedness or what not. Joe House was the ``big shout'' at the Tilden; Dick Kelly could be found every evening on the third — or ``wine,'' or plotting — floor of the Blaine — found holding court. And very respectful indeed were even the most eminent of Lincoln, or Jefferson, respectabilities who sought him out there to ask favors of him.

The bosses tend more and more to become mere flunkeys of the plutocrats. Kelly belonged to the old school of boss, dating from the days when social organization was in the early stages, when the political organizer was feared and even served by the industrial organizer, the embryo plutocrats. He realized how necessary he was to his plutocratic master, and he made that master treat him almost as an equal. He was exacting ever larger pay for taking care of the voters and keeping them fooled; he was getting rich, and had as yet vague aspirations to respectability and fashion. He had stopped drinking, had ``cut out the women,'' had made a beginning toward a less inelegant way of speaking the language. His view of life was what is called cynical. That is, he regarded himself as morally the equal of the respectable rulers of society — or of the preachers who attended to the religious part of the grand industry of ``keeping the cow quiet while it was being milked.''

But Mr. Kelly was explaining to Martin Hastings what he meant when he said that there was ``hell to pay'':

``That infernal little cuss, Victor Dorn,'' said he ``made a speech in the Court House Square to-day. Of course, none of the decent papers — and they're all decent except his'n — will publish any of it. Still, there was about a thousand people there before he got through — and the thing'll spread.''

``Speech? — what about?'' said Hastings. ``He's always shooting off his mouth. He'd better stop talking and go to work at some honest business.''

``He's got on to the fact that this strike is a put-up job — that the company hired labor detectives in Chicago last winter to come down here and get hold of the union. He gave names — amounts paid — the whole damn thing.''

``Um,'' said Hastings, rubbing his skinny hands along the shiny pantaloons over his meagre legs. ``Um.''

``But that ain't all,'' pursued Kelly. ``He read out a list of the men told off to pretend to set fire to the car barns and start the riot — those Chicago chaps, you know.''

``I don't know anything about it,'' said Hastings sharply.

Kelly smiled slightly — amused scorn. It seemed absurd to him for the old man to keep up the pretense of ignorance. In fact, Hastings was ignorant — of the details. He was not quite the aloof plutocrat of the modern school, who permits himself to know nothing of details beyond the dividend rate and similar innocent looking results of causes at which sometimes hell itself would shudder. But, while he was more active than the conscience-easing devices now working smoothly made necessary, he never permitted himself to know any unnecessary criminal or wicked fact about his enterprises.

``I don't know,'' he repeated. ``And I don't want to know.''

``Anyhow, Dorn gave away the whole thing. He even read a copy of your letter of introduction to the governor — the one you — according to Dorn — gave Fillmore when you sent him up to the Capitol to arrange for the invitation to come after the riot.''

Hastings knew that the boss was deliberately ``rubbing it in'' because Hastings — that is, Hastings' agents had not invited Kelly to assist in the project for ``teaching the labor element a much needed lesson.'' But knowledge of Kelly's motive did not make the truth he was telling any less true — the absurd mismanagement of the whole affair, with the result that Dorn seemed in the way to change it from a lesson to labor on the folly of revolt against their kind and generous but firm employers into a provoker of fresh and fiercer revolt — effective revolt — political revolt. So, as Kelly ``rubbed,'' Hastings visibly winced and writhed.

Kelly ended his recital with: ``The speech created a hell of a sensation, Mr. Hastings. That young chap can talk.''

``Yes,'' snapped Hastings. ``But he can't do anything else.''

``I'm not so sure of that,'' replied Kelly, who was wise enough to realize the value of a bogey like Dorn — its usefulness for purposes of ``throwing a scare into the silk-stocking crowd.'' ``Dorn's getting mighty strong with the people.''

``Stuff and nonsense!'' retorted Hastings. ``They'll listen to any slick tongued rascal that roasts those that are more prosperous than they are. But when it comes to doing anything, they know better. They envy and hate those that give them jobs, but they need the jobs.''

``There's a good deal of truth in that, Mr. Hastings,'' said Kelly, who was nothing if not judicial. ``But Dorn's mighty plausible. I hear sensible men saying there's something more'n hot air in his facts and figgures.'' Kelly paused, and made the pause significant. ``About that last block of traction stock, Mr. Hastings. I thought you were going to let me in on the ground floor. But I ain't heard nothing.''

``You are in,'' said Hastings, who knew when to yield. ``Hasn't Barker been to see you? I'll attend to it, myself.''

``Thank you, Mr. Hastings,'' said Kelly — dry and brief as always when receipting with a polite phrase for pay for services rendered. ``I've been a good friend to your people.''

``Yes, you have, Dick,'' said the old man heartily. ``And I want you to jump in and take charge.''

Hastings more than suspected that Kelly, to bring him to terms and to force him to employ directly the high-priced Kelly or Republico-Democratic machine as well as the State Republico-Democratic machine, which was cheaper, had got together the inside information and had ordered one of his henchmen to convey it to Dorn. But of what use to quarrel with Kelly? Of course, he could depose him; but that would simply mean putting another boss in his place — perhaps one more expensive and less efficient. The time had been when he — and the plutocracy generally — were compelled to come to the political bosses almost hat in hand. That time was past, never to return. But still a competent political agent was even harder to find than a competent business manager — and was far more necessary; for, while a big business might stagger along under poor financial or organizing management within, it could not live at all without political favors, immunities, and licenses. A band of pickpockets might as well try to work a town without having first ``squared'' the police. Not that Mr. Hastings and his friends themselves compared themselves to a band of pickpockets. No, indeed. It was simply legitimate business to blackjack your competitors, corner a supply, create a monopoly and fix prices and wages to suit your own notions of what was your due for taking the ``hazardous risks of business enterprise.''

``Leave everything to me,'' said Kelly briskly. ``I can put the thing through. Just tell your lawyer to apply late this afternoon to Judge Lansing for an injunction forbidding the strikers to assemble anywhere within the county. We don't want no more of this speechifying. This is a peaceable community, and it won't stand for no agitators.''

``Hadn't the lawyers better go to Judge Freilig?'' said Hastings. ``He's shown himself to be a man of sound ideas.''

``No — Lansing,'' said Kelly. ``He don't come up for re-election for five years. Freilig comes up next fall, and we'll have hard work to pull him through, though House is going to put him on the ticket, too. Dorn's going to make a hot campaign — concentrate on judges.''

``There's nothing in that Dorn talk,'' said Hastings. ``You can't scare me again, Dick, as you did with that Populist mare's nest ten years ago.''

That had been Kelly's first ``big killing'' by working on the fears of the plutocracy. Its success had put him in a position to buy a carriage and a diamond necklace for Mrs. Kelly and to make first payments on a large block of real estate. ``It was no mare's nest, Mr. Hastings,'' gravely declared the boss. ``If I hadn't 'a knowed just how to use the money we collected, there'd 'a been a crowd in office for four years that wouldn't 'a been easy to manage, I can tell you. But they was nothing to this here Dorn crowd. Dorn is — — ''

``We must get rid of him, Dick,'' interrupted Hastings.

The two men looked at each other — a curious glance — telegraphy. No method was suggested, no price was offered or accepted. But in the circumstances those matters became details that would settle themselves; the bargain was struck.

``He certainly ought to be stopped,'' said Kelly carelessly. ``He's the worst enemy the labor element has had in my time.'' He rose. ``Well, Mr. Hastings, I must be going.'' He extended his heavy, strong hand, which Hastings rose to grasp. ``I'm glad we're working together again without any hitches. You won't forget about that there stock?''

``I'll telephone about it right away, Dick — and about Judge Lansing. You're sure Lansing's all right? I didn't like those decisions of his last year — the railway cases, I mean.''

``That was all right, Mr. Hastings,'' said Kelly with a wave of the hand. ``I had to have 'em in the interests of the party. I knowed the upper court'd reverse. No, Lansing's a good party man — a good, sound man in every way.''

``I'm glad to hear it,'' said Hastings.

Before going into his private room to think and plan and telephone, he looked out on the west veranda. There sat his daughter; and a few feet away was David Hull, his long form stretched in a hammock while he discoursed of his projects for a career as a political reformer. The sight immensely pleased the old man. When he was a boy David Hull's grandfather, Brainerd Hull, had been the great man of that region; and Martin Hastings, a farm hand and the son of a farm hand, had looked up at him as the embodiment of all that was grand and aristocratic. As Hastings had never travelled, his notions of rank and position all centred about Remsen City. Had he realized the extent of the world, he would have regarded his ambition for a match between the daughter and granddaughter of a farm hand and the son and grandson of a Remsen City aristocrat as small and ridiculous. But he did not realize. Davy saw him and sprang to his feet.

``No — no — don't disturb yourselves,'' cried the old man. ``I've got some things to 'tend to. You and Jenny go right ahead.''

And he was off to his own little room where he conducted his own business in his own primitive but highly efficacious way. A corps of expert accountants could not have disentangled those crabbed, criss-crossed figures; no solver of puzzles could have unravelled the mystery of those strange hieroglyphics. But to the old man there wasn't a difficult — or a dull — mark in that entire set of dirty, dog-eared little account books. He spent hours in poring over them. Just to turn the pages gave him keen pleasure; to read, and to reconstruct from those hints the whole story of some agitating and profitable operation, made in comparison the delight of an imaginative boy in Monte Cristo or Crusoe seem a cold and tame emotion.

David talked on and on, fancying that Jane was listening and admiring, when in fact she was busy with her own entirely different train of thought. She kept the young man going because she did not wish to be bored with her own solitude, because a man about always made life at least a little more interesting than if she were alone or with a woman, and because Davy was good to look at and had an agreeable voice.

``Why, who's that?'' she suddenly exclaimed, gazing off to the right.

Davy turned and looked. ``I don't know her,'' he said. ``Isn't she queer looking — yet I don't know just why.''

``It's Selma Gordon,'' said Jane, who had recognized Selma the instant her eyes caught a figure moving across the lawn.

``The girl that helps Victor Dorn?'' said Davy, astonished. ``What's she coming here for? You don't know her — do you?''

``Don't you?'' evaded Jane. ``I thought you and Mr. Dorn were such pals.''

``Pals?'' laughed Hull. ``Hardly that. We meet now and then at a workingman's club I'm interested in — and at a café where I go to get in touch with the people occasionally — and in the street. But I never go to his office. I couldn't afford to do that. And I've never seen Miss Gordon.''

``Well, she's worth seeing,'' said Jane. ``You'll never see another like her.''

They rose and watched her advancing. To the usual person, acutely conscious of self, walking is not easy in such circumstances. But Selma, who never bothered about herself, came on with that matchless steady grace which peasant girls often get through carrying burdens on the head. Jane called out:

``So, you've come, after all.''

Selma smiled gravely. Not until she was within a few feet of the steps did she answer: ``Yes — but on business.'' She was wearing the same linen dress. On her head was a sailor hat, beneath the brim of which her amazingly thick hair stood out in a kind of defiance. This hat, this further article of Western civilization's dress, added to the suggestion of the absurdity of such a person in such clothing. But in her strange Cossack way she certainly was beautiful — and as healthy and hardy as if she had never before been away from the high, wind-swept plateaus where disease is unknown and where nothing is thought of living to be a hundred or a hundred and twenty-five. Both before and after the introduction Davy Hull gazed at her with fascinated curiosity too plainly written upon his long, sallow, serious face. She, intent upon her mission, ignored him as the arrow ignores the other birds of the flock in its flight to the one at which it is aimed.

``You'll give me a minute or two alone?'' she said to Jane. ``We can walk on the lawn here.''

Hull caught up his hat. ``I was just going,'' said he. Then he hesitated, looked at Selma, stammered: ``I'll go to the edge of the lawn and inspect the view.''

Neither girl noted this abrupt and absurd change of plan. He departed. As soon as he had gone half a dozen steps, Selma said in her quick, direct fashion:

``I've come to see you about the strike.''

Jane tried to look cool and reserved. But that sort of expression seemed foolish in face of the simplicity and candor of Selma Gordon. Also, Jane was not now so well pleased with her father's ideas and those of her own interest as she had been while she was talking with him. The most exasperating thing about the truth is that, once one has begun to see it — has begun to see what is for him the truth — the honest truth — he can not hide from it ever again. So, instead of looking cold and repellant, Jane looked uneasy and guilty. ``Oh, yes — the strike,'' she murmured.

``It is over,'' said Selma. ``The union met a half hour ago and revoked its action — on Victor Dorn's advice. He showed the men that they had been trapped into striking by the company — that a riot was to be started and blamed upon them — that the militia was to be called in and they were to be shot down.''

``Oh, no — not that!'' cried Jane eagerly. ``It wouldn't have gone as far as that.''

``Yes — as far as that,'' said Selma calmly. ``That sort of thing is an old story. It's been done so often — and worse. You see, the respectable gentlemen who run things hire disreputable creatures. They don't tell them what to do. They don't need to. The poor wretches understand what's expected of them-and they do it. So, the respectable gentlemen can hold up white hands and say quite truthfully, 'No blood-no filth on these-see!''' Selma was laughing drearily. Her superb, primitive eyes, set ever so little aslant, were flashing with an intensity of emotion that gave Jane Hastings a sensation of terror-much as if a man who has always lived where there were no storms, but such gentle little rains with restrained and refined thunder as usually visit the British Isles, were to find himself in the midst of one of those awful convulsions that come crashing down the gorges of the Rockies. She marveled that one so small of body could contain such big emotions.

``You mustn't be unjust,'' she pleaded. ``We aren't that wicked, my dear.''

Selma looked at her. ``No matter,'' she said. ``I am not trying to convert you — or to denounce your friends to you. I'll explain what I've come for. In his speech to-day and in inducing the union to change, Victor has shown how much power he has. The men whose plans he has upset will be hating him as men hate only those whom they fear.''

``Yes — I believe that,'' said Jane. ``So, you see, I'm not blindly prejudiced.''

``For a long time there have been rumors that they might kill him — — ''

``Absurd!'' cried Jane angrily. ``Miss Gordon, no matter how prejudiced you may be — and I'll admit there are many things to justify you in feeling strongly — but no matter how you may feel, your good sense must tell you that men like my father don't commit murder.''

``I understand perfectly,'' replied Selma. ``They don't commit murder, and they don't order murder. I'll even say that I don't think they would tolerate murder, even for their benefit. But you don't know how things are done in business nowadays. The men like your father have to use men of the Kelly and the House sort — you know who they are?''

``Yes,'' said Jane.

``The Kellys and the Houses give general orders to their lieutenants. The lieutenants pass the orders along — and down. And so on, until all sorts of men are engaged in doing all sorts of work. Dirty, clean, criminal — all sorts. Some of these men, baffled in what they are trying to do to earn their pay — baffled by Victor Dorn — plot against him.'' Again that sad, bitter laugh. ``My dear Miss Hastings, to kill a cat there are a thousand ways besides skinning it alive.''

``You are prejudiced,'' said Jane, in the manner of one who could not be convinced.

Selma made an impatient gesture. ``Again I say, no matter. Victor laughs at our fears — — ''

``I knew it,'' said Jane triumphantly. ``He is less foolish than his followers.''

``He simply does not think about himself,'' replied Selma. ``And he is right. But it is our business to think about him, because we need him. Where could we find another like him?''

``Yes, I suppose your movement would die out, if he were not behind it.''

Selma smiled peculiarly. ``I think you don't quite understand what we are about,'' said she. ``You've accepted the ignorant notion of your class that we are a lot of silly roosters trying to crow one sun out of the heavens and another into it. The facts are somewhat different. Your class is saying, `To-day will last forever,' while we are saying, `No, to-day will run its course — will be succeeded by to-morrow. Let us not live like the fool who thinks only of the day. Let us be sensible, intelligent, let us realize that there will be to-morrow and that it, too, must be lived. Let us get ready to live it sensibly. Let us build our social system so that it will stand the wear and tear of another day and will not fall in ruins about our heads.' ''

``I am terribly ignorant about all these things,'' said Jane. ``What a ridiculous thing my education has been!''

``But it hasn't spoiled your heart,'' cried Selma. And all at once her eyes were wonderfully soft and tender, and into her voice came a tone so sweet that Jane's eyes filled with tears. ``It was to your heart that I came to appeal,'' she went on. ``Oh, Miss Hastings — we will do all we can to protect Victor Dorn — and we guard him day and night without his knowing it. But I am afraid — afraid! And I want you to help. Will you?''

``I'll do anything I can,'' said Jane — a Jane very different from the various Janes Miss Hastings knew — a Jane who seemed to be conjuring of Selma Gordon's enchantments.

``I want you to ask your father to give him a fair show. We don't ask any favors — for ourselves — for him. But we don't want to see him — '' Selma shuddered and covered her eyes with her hands `` — lying dead in some alley, shot or stabbed by some unknown thug!''

Selma made it so vivid that Jane saw the whole tragedy before her very eyes.

``The real reason why they hate him,'' Selma went on, ``is because he preaches up education and preaches down violence — and is building his party on intelligence instead of on force. The masters want the workingman who burns and kills and riots. They can shoot him down. They can make people accept any tyranny in preference to the danger of fire and murder let loose. But Victor is teaching the workingmen to stop playing the masters' game for them. No wonder they hate him! He makes them afraid of the day when the united workingmen will have their way by organizing and voting. And they know that if Victor Dorn lives, that day will come in this city very, very soon.'' Selma saw Davy Hull, impatient at his long wait, advancing toward them. She said: ``You will talk to your father?''

``Yes,'' said Jane. ``And I assure you he will do what he can. You don't know him, Miss Gordon.''

``I know he loves you — I know he must love you,'' said Selma. ``Now, I must go. Good-by. I knew you would be glad of the chance to do something worth while.''

Jane had been rather expecting to be thanked for her generosity and goodness. Selma's remark seemed at first blush an irritating attempt to shift a favor asked into a favor given. But it was impossible for her to fail to see Selma's sensible statement of the actual truth. So, she said honestly:

``Thank you for coming, Miss Gordon. I am glad of the chance.''

They shook hands. Selma, holding her hand, looked up at her, suddenly kissed her. Jane returned the kiss. David Hull, advancing with his gaze upon them, stopped short. Selma, without a glance — because without a thought — in his direction, hastened away.

When David rejoined Jane, she was gazing tenderly after the small, graceful figure moving toward the distant entrance gates. Said David:

``I think that girl has got you hypnotized.''

Jane laughed and sent him home. ``I'm busy,'' she said. ``I've got something to do, at last.''

III

Jane knocked at the door of her father's little office. ``Are you there, father?'' said she.

``Yes — come in, Jinny.'' As she entered, he went on, ``But you must go right away again. I've got to 'tend to this strike.'' He took on an injured, melancholy tone. ``Those fool workingmen! They're certain to lose. And what'll come of it all? Why, they'll be out their wages and their jobs, and the company lose so much money that it can't put on the new cars the public's clamorin' for. The old cars'll have to do for another year, anyhow — maybe two.''

Jane had heard that lugubrious tone from time to time, and she knew what it meant — an air of sorrow concealing secret joy. So, here was another benefit the company — she preferred to think of it as the company rather than as her father — expected to gain from the strike. It could put off replacing the miserable old cars in which it was compelling people to ride. Instead of losing money by the strike, it would make money by it. This was Jane's first glimpse of one of the most interesting and important truths of modern life — how it is often to the advantage of business men to have their own business crippled, hampered, stopped altogether.

``You needn't worry, father,'' said she cheerfully. ``The strike's been declared off.''

``What's that?'' cried her father.

``A girl from down town just called. She says the union has called the strike off and the men have accepted the company's terms.''

``But them terms is withdrawn!'' cried Hastings, as if his daughter were the union. He seized the telephone. ``I'll call up the office and order 'em withdrawn.''

``It's too late,'' said she.

Just then the telephone bell rang, and Hastings was soon hearing confirmation of the news his daughter had brought him. She could not bear watching his face as he listened. She turned her back, stood gazing out at the window. Her father, beside himself, was shrieking into the telephone curses, denunciations, impossible orders. The one emergency against which he had not provided was the union's ending the strike. When you have struck the line of battle of a general, however able and self-controlled, in the one spot where he has not arranged a defense, you have thrown him — and his army — into a panic. Some of the greatest tactitians in history have given way in those circumstances; so, Martin Hastings' utter loss of self-control and of control of the situation only proves that he had his share of human nature. He had provided against the unexpected; he had not provided against the impossible.

Jane let her father rave on into the telephone until his voice grew hoarse and squeaky. Then she turned and said: ``Now, father — what's the use of making yourself sick? You can't do any good — can you?'' She laid one hand on his arm, with the other hand caressed his head. ``Hang up the receiver and think of your health.''

``I don't care to live, with such goings-on,'' declared he. But he hung up the receiver and sank back in his chair, exhausted.

``Come out on the porch,'' she went on, tugging gently at him. ``The air's stuffy in here.''

He rose obediently. She led him to the veranda and seated him comfortably, with a cushion in his back at the exact spot at which it was most comfortable. She patted his shrunken cheeks, stood off and looked at him.

``Where's your sense of humor?'' she cried. ``You used to be able to laugh when things went against you. You're getting to be as solemn and to take yourself as seriously as Davy Hull.''

The old man made a not unsuccessful attempt to smile. ``That there Victor Dorn!'' said he. ``He'll be the death of me, yet.''

``What has he done now?'' said Jane, innocently.

Hastings rubbed his big bald forehead with his scrawny hand. ``He's tryin' to run this town — to run it to the devil,'' replied he, by way of evasion.

``Something's got to be done about him — eh?'' observed she, in a fine imitation of a business-like voice.

``Something will be done,'' retorted he.

Jane winced — hid her distress — returned to the course she had mapped out for herself. ``I hope it won't be something stupid,'' said she. Then she seated herself and went on. ``Father — did you ever stop to wonder whether it is Victor Dorn or the changed times?''

The old man looked up abruptly and sharply — the expression of a shrewd man when he catches a hint of a new idea that sounds as if it might have something in it.

``You blame Victor Dorn,'' she went on to explain. ``But if there were no Victor Dorn, wouldn't you be having just the same trouble? Aren't men of affairs having them everywhere — in Europe as well as on this side — nowadays?''

The old man rubbed his brow — his nose — his chin — pulled at the tufts of hair in his ears — fumbled with his cuffs. All of these gestures indicated interest and attention.

``Isn't the real truth not Victor Dorn or Victor Dorns but a changed and changing world?'' pursued the girl. ``And if that's so, haven't you either got to adopt new methods or fall back? That's the way it looks to me — and we women have got intuitions if we haven't got sense.''

``I never said women hadn't got sense,'' replied the old man. ``I've sometimes said men ain't got no sense, but not women. Not to go no further, the women make the men work for 'em — don't they? That's a pretty good quality of sense, I guess.''

But she knew he was busily thinking all the time about what she had said. So she did not hesitate to go on: ``Instead of helping Victor Dorn by giving him things to talk about, it seems to me I'd use him, father.''

``Can't do anything with him. He's crazy,'' declared Hastings.

``I don't believe it,'' replied Jane. ``I don't believe he's crazy. And I don't believe you can't manage him. A man like that — a man as clever as he is — doesn't belong with a lot of ignorant tenement-house people. He's out of place. And when anything or anybody is out of place, they can be put in their right place. Isn't that sense?''

The old man shook his head — not in negation, but in uncertainty.

``These men are always edging you on against Victor Dorn — what's the matter with them?'' pursued Jane. ``I saw, when Davy Hull talked about him. They're envious and jealous of him, father. They're afraid he'll distance them. And they don't want you to realize what a useful man he could be — how he could help you if you helped him — made friends with him — roused the right kind of ambition in him.''

``When a man's ambitious,'' observed Hastings, out of the fullness of his own personal experience, ``it means he's got something inside him, teasing and nagging at him — something that won't let him rest, but keeps pushing and pulling — and he's got to keep fighting, trying to satisfy it — and he can't wait to pick his ground or his weapons.''

``And Victor Dorn,'' said Jane, to make it clearer to her father by putting his implied thought into words, ``Victor Dorn is doing the best he can — fighting on the only ground that offers and with the only weapons he can lay hands on.''

The old man nodded. ``I never have blamed him — not really,'' declared he. ``A practical man — a man that's been through things — he understands how these things are,'' in the tone of a philosopher. ``Yes, I reckon Victor's doing the best he can — getting up by the only ladder he's got a chance at.''

``The way to get him off that ladder is to give him another,'' said Jane.

A long silence, the girl letting her father thresh the matter out in his slow, thorough way. Finally her young impatience conquered her restraint. ``Well — what do you think, popsy?'' inquired she.

``That I've got about as smart a gel as there is in Remsen City,'' replied he.

``Don't lay it on too thick,'' laughed she.

He understood why she was laughing, though he did not show it. He knew what his much-traveled daughter thought of Remsen City, but he held to his own provincial opinion, nevertheless. Nor, perhaps, was he so far wrong as she believed. A cross section of human society, taken almost anywhere, will reveal about the same quantity of brain, and the quality of the mill is the thing, not of the material it may happen to be grinding.

She understood that his remark was his way of letting her know that he had taken her suggestion under advisement. This meant that she had said enough. And Jane Hastings had made herself an adept in the art of handling her father — an accomplishment she could by no means have achieved had she not loved him; it is only when a woman deeply and strongly loves a man that she can learn to influence him, for only love can put the necessary sensitiveness into the nerves with which moods and prejudices and whims and such subtle uncertainties can be felt out.

The next day but one, coming out on the front veranda a few minutes before lunch time she was startled rather than surprised to see Victor Dorn seated on a wicker sofa, hat off and gaze wandering delightedly over the extensive view of the beautiful farming country round Remsen City. She paused in the doorway to take advantage of the chance to look at him when he was off his guard. Certainly that profile view of the young man was impressive. It is only in the profile that we get a chance to measure the will or propelling force behind a character. In each of the two main curves of Dorn's head — that from the top of the brow downward over the nose, the lips, the chin and under, and that from the back of the head round under the ear and forward along the lower jaw — in each of these curves Dorn excelled.

She was about to draw back and make a formal entry, when he said, without looking toward her:

``Well — don't you think it would be safe to draw near?''

The tone was so easy and natural and so sympathetic — the tone of Selma Gordon — the tone of all natural persons not disturbed about themselves or about others — that Jane felt no embarrassment whatever. ``I've heard you were very clever,'' said she, advancing. ``So, I wanted to have the advantage of knowing you a little better at the outset than you would know me.''

``But Selma Gordon has told me all about you,'' said he — he had risen as she advanced and was shaking hands with her as if they were old friends. ``Besides, I saw you the other day — in spite of your effort to prevent yourself from being seen.''

``What do you mean?'' she asked, completely mystified.

``I mean your clothes,'' explained he. ``They were unusual for this part of the world. And when anyone wears unusual clothes, they act as a disguise. Everyone neglects the person to center on the clothes.''

``I wore them to be comfortable,'' protested Jane, wondering why she was not angry at this young man whose manner ought to be regarded as presuming and whose speech ought to be rebuked as impertinent.

``Altogether?'' said Dorn, his intensely blue eyes dancing.

In spite of herself she smiled. ``No — not altogether,'' she admitted.

``Well, it may please you to learn that you scored tremendously as far as one person is concerned. My small nephew talks of you all the time — the `lady in the lovely pants.' ''

Jane colored deeply and angrily. She bent upon Victor a glance that ought to have put him in his place — well down in his place. But he continued to look at her with unchanged, laughing, friendly blue eyes, and went on: ``By the way, his mother asked me to apologize for his extraordinary appearance. I suppose neither of you would recognize the other in any dress but the one each had on that day. He doesn't always dress that way. His mother has been ill. He wore out his play-clothes. If you've had experience of children you'll know how suddenly they demolish clothes. She wasn't well enough to do any tailoring, so there was nothing to do but send Leonard forth in his big brother's unchanged cast-offs.''

Jane's anger had quite passed away before Dorn finished this simple, ingenuous recital of poverty unashamed, this somehow fine laying open of the inmost family secrets. ``What a splendid person your sister must be!'' exclaimed she.

She more than liked the look that now came into his face. He said: ``Indeed she is! — more so than anyone except us of the family can realize. Mother's getting old and almost helpless. My brother-in-law was paralyzed by an accident at the rolling mill where he worked. My sister takes care of both of them — and her two boys — and of me — keeps the house in band-box order, manages a big garden that gives us most of what we eat — and has time to listen to the woes of all the neighbors and to give them the best advice I ever heard.''

``How can she?'' cried Jane. ``Why, the day isn't long enough.''

Dorn laughed. ``You'll never realize how much time there is in a day, Miss Jane Hastings, until you try to make use of it all. It's very interesting — how much there is in a minute and in a dollar if you're intelligent about them.''

Jane looked at him in undisguised wonder and admiration. ``You don't know what a pleasure it is,'' she said, ``to meet anyone whose sentences you couldn't finish for him before he's a quarter the way through them.''

Victor threw back his head and laughed — a boyish outburst that would have seemed boorish in another, but came as naturally from him as song from a bird. ``You mean Davy Hull,'' said he.

Jane felt herself coloring even more. ``I didn't mean him especially,'' replied she. ``But he's a good example.''

``The best I know,'' declared Victor. ``You see, the trouble with Davy is that he is one kind of a person, wants to be another kind, thinks he ought to be a third kind, and believes he fools people into thinking he is still a fourth kind.''

Jane reflected on this, smiled understandingly. ``That sounds like a description of me,'' said she.

``Probably,'' said Victor. ``It's a very usual type in the second generation in your class.''

``My class?'' said Jane, somewhat affectedly. ``What do you mean?''

``The upper class,'' explained Victor.

Jane felt that this was an opportunity for a fine exhibition of her democracy. ``I don't like that,'' said she. ``I'm a good American, and I don't believe in classes. I don't feel — at least I try not to feel — any sense of inequality between myself and those — those less — less — fortunately off. I'm not expressing myself well, but you know what I mean.''

``Yes, I know what you mean,'' rejoined Victor. ``But that wasn't what I meant, at all. You are talking about social classes in the narrow sense. That sort of thing isn't important. One associates with the kind of people that pleases one — and one has a perfect right to do so. If I choose to have my leisure time with people who dress a certain way, or with those who have more than a certain amount of money, or more than a certain number of servants or what not — why, that's my own lookout.''

``I'm so glad to hear you say that,'' cried Jane. ``That's so sensible.''

``Snobbishness may be amusing,'' continued Dorn, ``or it may be repulsive — or pitiful. But It isn't either interesting or important. The classes I had in mind were the economic classes — upper, middle, lower. The upper class includes all those who live without work — aristocrats, gamblers, thieves, preachers, women living off men in or out of marriage, grown children living off their parents or off inheritances. All the idlers.''

Jane looked almost as uncomfortable as she felt. She had long taken a secret delight in being regarded and spoken of as an ``upper class'' person. Henceforth this delight would be at least alloyed.

``The middle class,'' pursued Victor, ``is those who are in part parasites and in part workers. The lower class is those who live by what they earn only. For example, you are upper class, your father is middle class and I am lower class.''

``Thank you,'' said Jane demurely, ``for an interesting lesson in political economy.''

``You invited it,'' laughed Victor. ``And I guess it wasn't much more tiresome to you than talk about the weather would have been. The weather's probably about the only other subject you and I have in common.''

``That's rude,'' said Jane.

``Not as I meant it,'' said he. ``I wasn't exalting my subjects or sneering at yours. It's obvious that you and I lead wholly different lives.''

``I'd much rather lead your life than my own,'' said Jane. ``But — you are impatient to see father. You came to see him?''

``He telephoned asking me to come to dinner — that is, lunch. I believe it's called lunch when it's second in this sort of house.''

``Father calls it dinner, and I call it lunch, and the servants call it it. They simply say, `It's ready.' ''

Jane went in search of her father, found him asleep in his chair in the little office, one of his dirty little account books clasped in his long, thin fingers with their rheumatic side curve. The maid had seen him there and had held back dinner until he should awaken. Perhaps Jane's entrance roused him; or, perhaps it was the odor of the sachet powder wherewith her garments were liberally scented, for he had a singularly delicate sense of smell. He lifted his head and, after the manner of aged and confirmed cat-nappers, was instantly wide awake.

``Why didn't you tell me Victor Dorn was coming for dinner?'' said she.

``Oh — he's here, is he?'' said Hastings, chuckling. ``You see I took your advice. Tell Lizzie to lay an extra plate.''

Hastings regarded this invitation as evidence of his breadth of mind, his freedom from prejudice, his disposition to do the generous and the helpful thing. In fact, it was evidence of little more than his dominant and most valuable trait — his shrewdness. After one careful glance over the ruins of his plan, he appreciated that Victor Dorn was at last a force to be reckoned with. He had been growing, growing — somewhat above the surface, a great deal more beneath the surface. His astonishing victory demonstrated his power over Remsen City labor — in a single afternoon he had persuaded the street car union to give up without hesitation a strike it had been planning — at least, it thought it had been doing the planning — for months. The Remsen City plutocracy was by no means dependent upon the city government of Remsen City. It had the county courts — the district courts — the State courts even, except where favoring the plutocracy would be too obviously outrageous for judges who still considered themselves men of honest and just mind to decide that way. The plutocracy, further, controlled all the legislative and executive machinery. To dislodge it from these fortresses would mean a campaign of years upon years, conducted by men of the highest ability, and enlisting a majority of the voters of the State. Still, possession of the Remsen City government was a most valuable asset. A hostile government could ``upset business,'' could ``hamper the profitable investment of capital,'' in other words could establish justice to a highly uncomfortable degree. This victory of Dorn's made it clear to Hastings that at last Dorn was about to unite the labor vote under his banner — which meant that he was about to conquer the city government. It was high time to stop him and, if possible, to give his talents better employment.

However, Hastings, after the familiar human fashion, honestly thought he was showing generosity, was going out of his way to ``give a likely young fellow a chance.'' When he came out on the veranda he stretched forth a graciously friendly hand and, looking shrewdly into Victor's boyishly candid eyes, said:

``Glad to see you, young man. I want to thank you for ending that strike. I was born a working man, and I've been one all my life and, when I can't work any more, I want to quit the earth. So, being a working man, I hate to see working men make fools of themselves.''

Jane was watching the young man anxiously. She instinctively knew that this speech must be rousing his passion for plain and direct speaking. Before he had time to answer she said: ``Dinner's waiting. Let's go in.''

And on the way she made an opportunity to say to him in an undertone: ``I do hope you'll be careful not to say anything that'll upset father. I have to warn every one who comes here. His digestion's bad, and the least thing makes him ill, and — '' she smiled charmingly at him — ``I hate nursing. It's too much like work to suit an upper-class person.''

There was no resisting such an appeal as that. Victor sat silent and ate, and let the old man talk on and on. Jane saw that it was a severe trial to him to seem to be assenting to her father's views. Whenever he showed signs of casting off his restraint, she gave him a pleading glance. And the old man, so weazened, so bent and shaky, with his bowl of crackers and milk, was — or seemed to be — proof that the girl was asking of him only what was humane. Jane relieved the situation by talking volubly about herself — her college experiences, what she had seen and done in Europe.

After dinner Hastings said:

``I'll drive you back to town, young man. I'm going in to work, as usual. I never took a vacation in my life. Can you beat that record?''

``Oh, I knock off every once in a while for a month or so,'' said Dorn.

``The young fellows growing up nowadays ain't equal to us of the old stock,'' said Martin. ``They can't stand the strain. Well, if you're ready, we'll pull out.''

``Mr. Dorn's going to stop a while with me, father,'' interposed Jane with a significant glance at Victor. ``I want to show him the grounds and the views.''

``All right — all right,'' said her father. He never liked company in his drives; company interfered with his thinking out what he was going to do at the office. ``I'm mighty glad to know you, young man. I hope we'll know each other better. I think you'll find out that for a devil I'm not half bad — eh?''

Victor bowed, murmured something inarticulate, shook his host's hand, and when the ceremony of parting was over drew a stealthy breath of relief — which Jane observed. She excused herself to accompany her father to his trap. As he was climbing in she said:

``Didn't you rather like him, father?''

Old Hastings gathered the reins in his lean, distorted hands. ``So so,'' said he.

``He's got brains, hasn't he?''

``Yes; he's smart; mighty smart.'' The old man's face relaxed in a shrewd grin. ``Too damn smart. Giddap, Bet.''

And he was gone. Jane stood looking after the ancient phaeton with an expression half of amusement, half of discomfiture. ``I might have known,'' reflected she, ``that popsy would see through it all.''

When she reappeared in the front doorway Victor Dorn was at the edge of the veranda, ready to depart. As soon as he saw her he said gravely: ``I must be off, Miss Hastings. Thank you for the very interesting dinner.'' He extended his hand. ``Good day.''

She put her hands behind her back, and stood smiling gently at him. ``You mustn't go — not just yet. I'm about to show you the trees and the grass, the bees, the chickens and the cows. Also, I've something important to say to you.''

He shook his head. ``I'm sorry, but I must go.''

She stiffened slightly; her smile changed from friendly to cold. ``Oh — pardon me,'' she said. ``Good-by.''

He bowed, and was on the walk, and running rapidly toward the entrance gates.

``Mr. Dorn!'' she called.

He turned.

She was afraid to risk asking him to come back for a moment. He might refuse. Standing there, looking so resolute, so completley master of himself, so devoid of all suggestion of need for any one or anything, he seemed just the man to turn on his heel and depart. She descended to the walk and went to him. She said:

``Why are you acting so peculiarly? Why did you come?''

``Because I understood that your father wished to propose some changes in the way of better hours and better wages for the men,'' replied he. ``I find that the purpose was — not that.''

``What was it?''

``I do not care to go into that.''

He was about to go on — on out of her life forever, she felt. ``Wait,'' she cried. ``The men will get better hours and wages. You don't understand father's ways. He was really discussing that very thing — in his own mind. You'll see. He has a great admiration for you. You can do a lot with him. You owe it to the men to make use of his liking.''

He looked at her in silence for a moment. Then he said: ``I'll have to be at least partly frank with you. In all his life no one has ever gotten anything out of your father. He uses men. They do not use him.''

``Believe me, that is unjust,'' cried Jane. ``I'll tell you another thing that was on his mind. He wants to — to make reparation for — that accident to your father. He wants to pay your mother and you the money the road didn't pay you when it ought.''

Dorn's candid face showed how much he was impressed. This beautiful, earnest girl, sweet and frank, seemed herself to be another view of Martin Hastings' character — one more in accord with her strong belief in the essential goodness of human nature. Said he: ``Your father owes us nothing. As for the road — its debt never existed legally — only morally. And it has been outlawed long ago — for there's a moral statute of limitations, too. The best thing that ever happened to us was our not getting that money. It put us on our mettle. It might have crushed us. It happened to be just the thing that was needed to make us.''

Jane marveled at this view of his family, at the verge of poverty, as successful. But she could not doubt his sincerity. Said she sadly, ``But it's not to the credit of the road — or of father. He must pay — and he knows he must.''

``We can't accept,'' said Dorn — a finality.

``But you could use it to build up the paper,'' urged Jane, to detain him.

``The paper was started without money. It lives without money — and it will go on living without money, or it ought to die.''

``I don't understand,'' said Jane. ``But I want to understand. I want to help. Won't you let me?''

He shook his head laughingly. ``Help what?'' inquired he. ``Help raise the sun? It doesn't need help.''

Jane began to see. ``I mean, I want to be helped,'' she cried.

``Oh, that's another matter,'' said he. ``And very simple.''

``Will you help me?''

``I can't. No one can. You've got to help yourself. Each one of us is working for himself — working not to be rich or to be famous or to be envied, but to be free.''

``Working for himself — that sounds selfish, doesn't it?''

``If you are wise, Jane Hastings,'' said Dorn, ``you will distrust — disbelieve in — anything that is not selfish.''

Jane reflected. ``Yes — I see,'' she cried. ``I never thought of that!''

``A friend of mine, Wentworth,'' Victor went on, ``has put it wonderfully clearly. He said, `Some day we shall realize that no man can be free until all men are free.' ''

``You have helped me — in spite of your fierce refusal,'' laughed Jane. ``You are very impatient to go, aren't you? Well, since you won't stay I'll walk with you — as far as the end of the shade.''

She was slightly uneasy lest her overtures should be misunderstood. By the time they reached the first long, sunny stretch of the road down to town she was so afraid that those overtures would not be ``misunderstood'' that she marched on beside him in the hot sun. She did not leave him until they reached the corner of Pike avenue — and then it was he that left her, for she could cudgel out no excuse for going further in his direction. The only hold she had got upon him for a future attempt was slight indeed — he had vaguely agreed to lend her some books.

People who have nothing to do get rid of a great deal of time in trying to make impressions and in speculating as to what impressions they have made. Jane — hastening toward Martha's to get out of the sun which could not but injure a complexion so delicately fine as hers — gave herself up to this form of occupation. What did he think of her? Did he really have as little sense of her physical charm as he seemed? No woman could hope to be attractive to every man. Still — this man surely must be at least not altogether insensible. ``If he sends me those books to-day — or to-morrow — or even next day,'' thought Jane, ``it will be a pretty sure sign that he was impressed — whether he knows it or not.''

She had now definitely passed beyond the stage where she wondered at herself — and reproached herself — for wishing to win a man of such common origin and surroundings. She could not doubt Victor Dorn's superiority. Such a man as that didn't need birth or wealth or even fame. He simply was the man worth while — worth any woman's while. How could Selma be associated so intimately with him without trying to get him in love with her? Perhaps she had tried and had given up? No — Selma was as strange in her way as he was in his way. What a strange — original — individual pair they were!

``But,'' concluded Jane, ``he belongs with us. I must take him away from all that. It will be interesting to do it — so interesting that I'll be sorry when it's done, and I'll be looking about for something else to do.''

She was not without hope that the books would come that same evening. But they did not. The next day passed, and the next, and still no books. Apparently he had meant nothing by his remark, ``I've some books you'd be interested to read.'' Was his silence indifference, or was it shyness? Probably she could only faintly appreciate the effect her position, her surroundings produced in this man whose physical surroundings had always been as poor as her mental surroundings — those created by that marvelous mind of his — had been splendid.

She tried to draw out her father on the subject of the young man, with a view to getting a hint as to whether he purposed doing anything further. But old Hastings would not talk about it; he was still debating, was looking at the matter from a standpoint where his daughter's purely theoretical acumen could not help him to a decision. Jane rather feared that where her father was evidently so doubtful he would follow his invariable rule in doubtful cases.

On the fourth day, being still unable to think of anything but her project for showing her prowess by conquering this man with no time for women, she donned a severely plain walking costume and went to his office.

At the threshold of the ``Sanctum'' she stopped short. Selma, pencil poised over her block of copy paper and every indication of impatience, albeit polite impatience, in her fascinating Cossack face, was talking to — or, rather, listening to — David Hull. Like not a few young men — and young women — brought up in circumstances that surround them with people deferential for the sake of what there is, or may possibly be, in it — Davy Hull had the habit of assuming that all the world was as fond of listening to him as he was of listening to himself. So it did not often occur to him to observe his audience for signs of a willingness to end the conversation.

Selma, turning a little further in her nervousness, saw Jane and sprang up with a radiant smile of welcome.

``I'm so glad!'' she cried, rushing toward her and kissing her. ``I've thought about you often, and wished I could find time to come to see you.''

Jane was suddenly as delighted as Selma. For Selma's burst of friendliness, so genuine, so unaffected, in this life of blackness and cold always had the effect of sun suddenly making summer out of a chill autumnal day. Nor, curiously enough, was her delight lessened by Davy Hull's blundering betrayal of himself. His color, his eccentric twitchings of the lips and the hands would have let a far less astute young woman than Jane Hastings into the secret of the reason for his presence in that office when he had said he couldn't ``afford'' to go. So guilty did he feel that he stammered out:

``I dropped in to see Dorn.''

``You wished to see Victor?'' exclaimed the guileless Selma. ``Why didn't you say so? I'd have told you at once that he was in Indianapolis and wouldn't be back for two or three days.''

Jane straightway felt still better. The disgusting mystery of the books that did not come was now cleared up. Secure in the certainty of Selma's indifference to Davy she proceeded to punish him. ``What a stupid you are, Davy!'' she cried mockingly. ``The instant I saw your face I knew you were here to flirt with Miss Gordon.''

``Oh, no, Miss Hastings,'' protested Selma with quaint intensity of seriousness, ``I assure you he was not flirting. He was telling me about the reform movement he and his friends are organizing.''

``That is his way of flirting,'' said Jane. ``Every animal has its own way — and an elephant's way is different from a mosquito's.''

Selma was eyeing Hull dubiously. It was bad enough for him to have taken her time in a well-meaning attempt to enlighten her as to a new phase of local politics; to take her time, to waste it, in flirting — that was too exasperating!

``Miss Hastings has a sense of humor that runs riot at times,'' said Hull.

``You can't save yourself, Davy,'' mocked Jane. ``Come along. Miss Gordon has no time for either of us.''

``I do want you to stay,'' she said to Jane. ``But, unfortunately, with Victor away — — '' She looked disconsolately at the half-finished page of copy.

``I came only to snatch Davy away,'' said Jane.

``Next thing we know, he'll be one of Mr. Dorn's lieutenants.''

Thus Jane escaped without having to betray why she had come. In the street she kept up her raillery. ``And a working girl, Davy! What would our friends say! And you who are always boasting of your fastidiousness! Flirting with a girl who — I've seen her three times, and each time she has had on exactly the same plain, cheap little dress.''

There was a nastiness, a vulgarity in this that was as unworthy of Jane as are all the unlovely emotions of us who are always sweet and refined when we are our true selves — but have a bad habit of only too often not being what we flatter ourselves is our true selves. Jane was growing angry as she, away from Selma, resumed her normal place in the world and her normal point of view. Davy Hull belonged to her; he had no right to be hanging about another, anyway — especially an attractive woman. Her anger was not lessened by Davy's retort. Said he:

``Her dress may have been the same. But her face wasn't — and her mind wasn't. Those things are more difficult to change than a dress.''

She was so angry that she did not take warning from this reminder that Davy was by no means merely a tedious retailer of stale commonplaces. She said with fine irony — and with no show of anger: ``It is always a shock to a lady to realize how coarse men are — how they don't discriminate.''

Davy laughed. ``Women get their rank from men,'' said he coolly. ``In themselves they have none. That's the philosophy of the peculiarity you've noted.''

This truth, so galling to a lady, silenced Jane, made her bite her lips with rage. ``I beg your pardon,'' she finally said. ``I didn't realize that you were in love with Selma.''

``Yes, I am in love with her,'' was Davy's astounding reply. ``She's the noblest and simplest creature I've ever met.''

``You don't mean you want to marry her!'' exclaimed Jane, so amazed that she for the moment lost sight of her own personal interest in this affair.

Davy looked at her sadly, and a little contemptuously.

``What a poor opinion at bottom you women — your sort of women — have of woman,'' said he.

``What a poor opinion of men you mean,'' retorted she. ``After a little experience of them a girl — even a girl — learns that they are incapable of any emotion that isn't gross.''

``Don't be so ladylike, Jane,'' said Hull.

Miss Hastings was recovering control of herself. She took a new tack. ``You haven't asked her yet?''

``Hardly. This is the second time I've seen her. I suspected that she was the woman for me the moment I saw her. To-day I confirmed my idea. She is all that I thought — and more. And, Jane, I know that you appreciate her, too.''

Jane now saw that Davy was being thus abruptly and speedily confiding because he had decided it was the best way out of his entanglement with her. Behind his coolness she could see an uneasy watchfulness — the fear that she might try to hold him. Up boiled her rage — the higher because she knew that if there were any possible way of holding Davy, she would take it — not because she wished to, or would, marry him, but because she had put her mark upon him. But this new rage was of the kind a clever woman has small difficulty in dissembling.

``Indeed I do appreciate her, Davy,'' said she sweetly. ``And I hope you will be happy with her.''

``You think I can get her?'' said he, fatuously eager. ``You think she likes me? I've been rather hoping that because it seized me so suddenly and so powerfully it must have seized her, too. I think often things occur that way.''

``In novels,'' said Jane, pleasantly judicial. ``But in real life about the hardest thing to do is for a man to make a woman care for him — really care for him.''

``Well, no matter how hard I have to try — — ''

``Of course,'' pursued Miss Hastings, ignoring his interruption, ``when a man who has wealth and position asks a woman who hasn't to marry him, she usually accepts — unless he happens to be downright repulsive, or she happens to be deeply and hopefully in love with another man.''

Davy winced satisfactorily. ``Do you suspect,'' he presently asked, ``that she's in love with Victor Dorn?''

``Perhaps,'' said Jane reflectively. ``Probably. But I'd not feel discouraged by that if I were you.''

``Dorn's a rather attractive chap in some ways.''

Davy's manner was so superior that Jane almost laughed in his face. What fools men were. If Victor Dorn had position, weren't surrounded by his unquestionably, hopelessly common family, weren't deliberately keeping himself common — was there a woman in the world who wouldn't choose him without a second thought being necessary, in preference to a Davy Hull? How few men there were who could reasonably hope to hold their women against all comers. Victor Dorn might possibly be of those few. But Davy Hull — the idea was ridiculous. All his advantages — height, looks, money, position — were excellent qualities in a show piece; but they weren't the qualities that make a woman want to live her life with a man, that make her hope he will be able to give her the emotions woman-nature craves beyond anything.

``He is very attractive,'' said Jane, ``and I've small doubt that Selma Gordon is infatuated with him. But — I shouldn't let that worry me if I were you.'' She paused to enjoy his anxiety, then proceeded: ``She is a level-headed girl. The girls of the working class — the intelligent ones — have had the silly sentimentalities knocked out of them by experience. So, when you ask her to marry you, she will accept.''

``What a low opinion you have of her!'' exclaimed Davy. ``What a low view you take of life!'' — most inconsistent of him, since he was himself more than half convinced that Jane's observations were not far from the truth.

``Women are sensible,'' said Jane tranquilly. ``They appreciate that they've got to get a man to support them. Don't forget, my dear Davy, that marriage is a woman's career.''

``You lived abroad too long,'' said Hull bitterly.

``I've lived at home and abroad long enough and intelligently enough not to think stupid hypocrisies, even if I do sometimes imitate other people and say them.''

``I am sure that Selma Gordon would no more think of marrying me for any other reason but love — would no more think of it than — than you would!''

``No more,'' was Jane's unruffled reply. ``But just as much. I didn't absolutely refuse you, when you asked me the other day, partly because I saw no other way of stopping your tiresome talk — and your unattractive way of trying to lay hands on me. I detest being handled.''

Davy was looking so uncomfortable that he attracted the attention of the people they were passing in wide, shady Lincoln Avenue.

``But my principal reason,'' continued Jane, mercilessly amiable and candid, ``was that I didn't know but that you might prove to be about the best I could get, as a means to realizing my ambition.'' She looked laughingly at the unhappy young man. ``You didn't think I was in love with you, did you, Davy dear?'' Then, while the confusion following this blow was at its height, she added: ``You'll remember one of your chief arguments for my accepting you was ambition. You didn't think it low then — did you?''

Hull was one of the dry-skinned people. But if he had been sweating profusely he would have looked and would have been less wretched than burning up in the smothered heat of his misery.

They were nearing Martha's gates. Jane said: ``Yes, Davy, you've got a good chance. And as soon as she gets used to our way of living, she'll make you a good wife.'' She laughed gayly. ``She'll not be quite so pretty when she settles down and takes on flesh. I wonder how she'll look in fine clothes and jewels.'' She measured Hull's stature with a critical eye. ``She's only about half as tall as you. How funny you'll look together!'' With sudden soberness and sweetness, ``But, seriously, David, I'm proud of your courage in taking a girl for herself regardless of her surroundings. So few men would be willing to face the ridicule and the criticism, and all the social difficulties.'' She nodded encouragingly. ``Go in and win! You can count on my friendship — for I'm in love with her myself.''

She left him standing dazedly, looking up and down the street as if it were some strange and pine-beset highway in a foreign land. After taking a few steps she returned to the gates and called him: ``I forgot to ask do you want me to regard what you've told me as confidential? I was thinking of telling Martha and Hugo, and it occurred to me that you might not like it.''

``Please don't say anything about it,'' said he with panicky eagerness. ``You see — nothing's settled yet.''

``Oh, she'll accept you.''

``But I haven't even asked her,'' pleaded Hull.

``Oh — all right — as you please.''

When she was safely within doors she dropped to a chair and burst out laughing. It was part of Jane's passion for the sense of triumph over the male sex to find keen delight in making a fool of a man. And she felt that she had made a ``perfect jumping jack of a fool'' of David Hull. ``And I rather think,'' said she to herself, ``that he'll soon be back where he belongs.'' This with a glance at the tall heels of the slippers on the good-looking feet she was thrusting out for her own inspection. ``How absurd for him to imagine he could do anything unconventional. Is there any coward anywhere so cowardly as an American conventional man? No wonder I hate to think of marrying one of them. But — I suppose I'll have to do it some day. What's a woman to do? She's got to marry.''

So pleased with herself was she that she behaved with unusual forbearance toward Martha whose conduct of late had been most trying. Not Martha's sometimes peevish, sometimes plaintive criticisms of her; these she did not mind. But Martha's way of ordering her own life. Jane, moving about in the world with a good mind eager to improve, had got a horror of a woman's going to pieces — and that was what Martha was doing.

``I'm losing my looks rapidly,'' was her constant complaint. As she had just passed thirty there was, in Jane's opinion, not the smallest excuse for this. The remedy, the preventive, was obvious — diet and exercise. But Martha, being lazy and self-indulgent and not imaginative enough to foresee to what a pass a few years more of lounging and stuffing would bring her, regarded exercise as unladylike and dieting as unhealthful. She would not weaken her system by taking less than was demanded by ``nature's infallible guide, the healthy appetite.'' She would not give up the venerable and aristocratic tradition that a lady should ever be reposeful.

``Another year or so,'' warned Jane, ``and you'll be as steatopygous as the bride of a Hottentot chief.''

``What does steat — that word mean?'' said Martha suspiciously.

``Look in the dictionary,'' said Jane. ``Its synonyms aren't used by refined people.''

``I knew it was something insulting,'' said Martha with an injured sniff.

The only concessions Martha would make to the latter-day craze of women for youthfulness were buying a foolish chin-strap of a beauty quack and consulting him as to whether, if her hair continued to gray, she would better take to peroxide or to henna.

Jane had come down that day with a severe lecture on fat and wrinkles laid out in her mind for energetic delivery to the fast-seeding Martha. She put off the lecture and allowed the time to be used by Martha in telling Jane what were her (Jane's) strongest and less strong — not weaker but less strong, points of physical charm.

It was cool and beautiful in the shade of the big gardens behind the old Galland house. Jane, listening to Martha's honest and just compliments and to the faint murmurs of the city's dusty, sweaty toil, had a delicious sense of the superiority of her lot — a feeling that somehow there must be something in the theory of rightfully superior and inferior classes — that in taking what she had not earned she was not robbing those who had earned it, as her reason so often asserted, but was being supported by the toil of others for high purposes of æsthetic beauty. Anyhow, why heat one's self wrestling with these problems?

When she was sure that Victor Dorn must have returned she called him on the telephone. ``Can't you come out to see me to-night?'' said she. ``I've something important — something you'll think important — to consult you about.'' She felt a refusal forming at the other end of the wire and hastened to add: ``You must know I'd not ask this if I weren't certain you would be glad you came.''

``Why not drop in here when you're down town?'' suggested Victor.

She wondered why she did not hang up the receiver and forget him. But she did not. She murmured, ``In due time I'll punish you for this, sir,'' and said to him: ``There are reasons why it's impossible for me to go there just now. And you know I can't meet you in a saloon or on a street corner.''

``I'm not so sure of that,'' laughed he. ``Let me see. I'm very busy. But I could come for half an hour this afternoon.''

She had planned an evening session, being well aware of the favorable qualities of air and light after the matter-of-fact sun has withdrawn his last rays. But she promptly decided to accept what offered. ``At three?''

``At four,'' replied he.

``You haven't forgotten those books?''

``Books? Oh, yes — yes, I remember. I'll bring them.''

``Thank you so much,'' said she sweetly. ``Good-by.''

And at four she was waiting for him on the front veranda in a house dress that was — well, it was not quite the proper costume for such an occasion, but no one else was to see, and he didn't know about that sort of thing — and the gown gave her charms their best possible exposure except evening dress, which was out of the question. She had not long to wait. One of the clocks within hearing had struck and another was just beginning to strike when she saw him coming toward the house. She furtively watched him, admiring his walk without quite knowing why. You may perhaps know the walk that was Victor's — a steady forward advance of the whole body held firmly, almost rigidly — the walk of a man leading another to the scaffold, or of a man being led there in conscious innocence, or of a man ready to go wherever his purposes may order — ready to go without any heroics or fuss of any kind, but simply in the course of the day's business. When a man walks like that, he is worth observing — and it is well to think twice before obstructing his way.

That steady, inevitable advance gave Jane Hastings an absurd feeling of nervousness. She had an impulse to fly, as from some oncoming danger. Yet what was coming, in fact? A clever young man of the working class, dressed in garments of the kind his class dressed in on Sunday, and plebeianly carrying a bundle under his arm.

``Our clock says you are three seconds late,'' cried she, laughing and extending her hand in a friendly, equal way that would have immensely flattered almost any man of her own class. ``But another protests that you are one second early.''

``I'm one of those fools who waste their time and their nerves by being punctual,'' said he.

He laid the books on the wicker sofa. But instead of sitting Jane said: ``We might be interrupted here. Come to the west veranda.''

There she had him in a leafy solitude — he facing her as she posed in fascinating grace in a big chair. He looked at her — not the look of a man at a woman, but the look of a busy person at one who is about to show cause for having asked for a portion of his valuable time. She laughed — and laughter was her best gesture. ``I can never talk to you if you pose like that,'' said she. ``Honestly now, is your time so pricelessly precious?''

He echoed her laugh and settled himself more at his ease. ``What did you want of me?'' he asked.

``I intend to try to get better hours and better wages for the street car men,'' said she. ``To do it, I must know just what is right — what I can hope to get. General talk is foolish. If I go at father I must have definite proposals to make, with reasons for them. I don't want him to evade. I would have gotten my information elsewhere, but I could think of no one but you who might not mislead me.''

She had confidently expected that this carefully thought out scheme would do the trick. He would admire her, would be interested, would be drawn into a position where she could enlist him as a constant adviser. He moved toward the edge of his chair as if about to rise. He said, pleasantly enough but without a spark of enthusiasm:

``That's very nice of you, Miss Hastings. But I can't advise you — beyond saying that if I were you, I shouldn't meddle.''

She — that is, her vanity — was cut to the quick. ``Oh!'' said she with irony, ``I fancied you wished the laboring men to have a better sort of life.''

``Yes,'' said he. ``But I'm not in favor of running hysterically about with a foolish little atomizer in the great stable. You are talking charity. I am working for justice. It will not really benefit the working man for the company, at the urging of a sweet and lovely young Lady Bountiful, to deign graciously to grant a little less slavery to them. In fact, a well fed, well cared for slave is worse off than one who's badly treated — worse off because farther from his freedom. The only things that do our class any good, Miss Hastings, are the things they compel — compel by their increased intelligence and increased unity and power. They get what they deserve. They won't deserve more until they compel more. Gifts won't help — not even gifts from — '' His intensely blue eyes danced — ``from such charming white hands so beautifully manicured.''

She rose with an angry toss of the head. ``I didn't ask you here to annoy me with impertinences about my finger nails.''

He rose, at his ease, good-humored, ready to go. ``Then you should have worn gloves,'' said he carelessly, ``for I've been able to think only of your finger nails — and to wonder what can be done with hands like that. Thank you for a pleasant talk.'' He bowed and smiled. ``Good-by. Oh — Miss Gordon sent you her love.''

``What is the matter, Mr. Dorn?'' cried the girl desperately. ``I want your friendship — your respect. Can't I get it? Am I utterly hopeless in your eyes?''

A curious kind of color rose in his cheeks. His eyes regarded her with a mysterious steadiness. ``You want neither my respect nor my friendship,'' said he. ``You want to amuse yourself.'' He pointed at her hands. ``Those nails betray you.'' He shrugged his shoulders, laughed, said as if to a child: ``You are a nice girl, Jane Hastings. It's a pity you weren't brought up to be of some use. But you weren't — and it's too late.''

Her eyes flashed, her bosom heaved. ``Why do I take these things from you? Why do I invite them?''

``Because you inherit your father's magnificent persistence — and you've set your heart on the whim of making a fool of me — and you hate to give up.''

``You wrong me — indeed you do,'' cried she. ``I want to learn — I want to be of use in the world. I want to have some kind of a real life.''

``Really?'' mocked he good-humoredly.

``Really,'' said she with all her power of sweet earnestness.

``Then — cut your nails and go to work. And when you have become a genuine laborer, you'll begin to try to improve not the condition of others, but your own. The way to help workers is to abolish the idlers who hang like a millstone about their necks. You can help only by abolishing the one idler under your control.''

She stood nearer him, very near him. She threw out her lovely arms in a gesture of humility. ``I will do whatever you say,'' she said.

They looked each into the other's eyes. The color fled from her face, the blood poured into his — wave upon wave, until he was like a man who has been set on fire by the furious heat of long years of equatorial sun. He muttered, wheeled about and strode away — in resolute and relentless flight. She dropped down where he had been sitting and hid her face in her perfumed hands.

``I care for him,'' she moaned, ``and he saw and he despises me! How could I — how could I!''

Nevertheless, within a quarter of an hour she was in her dressing room, standing at the table, eyes carefully avoiding her mirrored eyes — as she cut her finger nails.

IV

Jane was mistaken in her guess at the cause of Victor Dorn's agitation and abrupt flight. If he had any sense whatever of the secret she had betrayed to him and to herself at the same instant it was wholly unconscious. He had become panic-stricken and had fled because he, faced with her exuberance and tempting wealth of physical charm, had become suddenly conscious of her and of himself in a way as new to him as if he had been fresh from a monkery where no woman had ever been seen. Thus far the world had been peopled for him with human beings without any reference to sex. The phenomena of sex had not interested him because his mind had been entirely taken up with the other aspects of life; and he had not yet reached the stage of development where a thinker grasps the truth that all questions are at bottom questions of the sex relation, and that, therefore, no question can be settled right until the sex relations are settled right.

Jane Hastings was the first girl he had met in his whole life who was in a position to awaken that side of his nature. And when his brain suddenly filled with a torrent of mad longings and of sensuous appreciations of her laces and silk, of her perfume and smoothness and roundness, of the ecstasy that would come from contact with those warm, rosy lips — when Victor Dorn found himself all in a flash eager impetuosity to seize this woman whom he did not approve of, whom he did not even like, he felt bowed with shame. He would not have believed himself capable of such a thing. He fled.

He fled, but she pursued. And when he sat down in the garden behind his mother's cottage, to work at a table where bees and butterflies had been his only disturbers, there was this she before him — her soft, shining gaze fascinating his gaze, her useless but lovely white hands extended tantalizingly toward him. As he continued to look at her, his disapproval and dislike melted. ``I was brutally harsh to her,'' he thought repentantly. ``She was honestly trying to do the decent thing. How was she to know? And wasn't I as much wrong as right in advising her not to help the men?''

Beyond question, it was theoretically best for the two opposing forces, capital and labor, to fight their battle to its inevitable end without interference, without truce, with quarter neither given nor taken on either side. But practically — wasn't there something to be said for such humane proposals of that of Jane Hastings? They would put off the day of right conditions rightly and therefore permanently founded — conditions in which master and slave or serf or wage-taker would be no more; but, on the other hand, slaves with shorter hours of toil and better surroundings could be enlightened more easily. Perhaps. He was by no means sure; he could not but fear that anything that tended to make the slave comfortable in his degradation must of necessity weaken his aversion to degradation. Just as the worst kings were the best kings because they hastened the fall of monarchy, so the worst capitalists, the most rapacious, the most rigid enforcers of the economic laws of a capitalistic society were the best capitalists, were helping to hasten the day when men would work for what they earned and would earn what they worked for — when every man's pay envelope would contain his wages, his full wages, and nothing but his wages.

Still, where judgment was uncertain, he certainly had been unjust to that well meaning girl. And was she really so worthless as he had on first sight adjudged her? There might be exceptions to the rule that a parasite born and bred can have no other instructor or idea but those of parasitism. She was honest and earnest, was eager to learn the truth. She might be put to some use. At any rate he had been unworthy of his own ideals when he, assuming without question that she was the usual capitalistic snob with the itch for gratifying vanity by patronizing the ``poor dear lower classes,'' had been almost insultingly curt and mocking.

``What was the matter with me?'' he asked himself. ``I never acted in that way before.'' And then he saw that his brusqueness had been the cover for fear of of her — fear of the allure of her luxury and her beauty. In love with her? He knew that he was not. No, his feeling toward her was merely the crudest form of the tribute of man to woman — though apparently woman as a rule preferred this form to any other.

``I owe her an apology,'' he said to himself. And so it came to pass that at three the following afternoon he was once more facing her in that creeper-walled seclusion whose soft lights were almost equal to light of gloaming or moon or stars in romantic charm.

Said he — always direct and simple, whether dealing with man or woman, with devious person or straight:

``I've come to beg your pardon for what I said yesterday.''

``You certainly were wild and strange,'' laughed she.

``I was supercilious,'' said he. ``And worse than that there is not. However, as I have apologized, and you have accepted my apology, we need waste no more time about that. You wished to persuade your father to — — ''

``Just a moment!'' interrupted she. ``I've a question to ask. Why did you treat me — why have you been treating me so — so harshly?''

``Because I was afraid of you,'' replied he. ``I did not realize it, but that was the reason.''

``Afraid of me,'' said she. ``That's very flattering.''

``No,'' said he, coloring. ``In some mysterious way I had been betrayed into thinking of you as no man ought to think of a woman unless he is in love with her and she with him. I am ashamed of myself. But I shall conquer that feeling — or keep away from you. . . . Do you understand what the street car situation is?''

But she was not to be deflected from the main question, now that it had been brought to the front so unexpectedly and in exactly the way most favorable to her purposes. ``You've made me uneasy,'' said she. ``I don't in the least understand what you mean. I have wanted, and I still want, to be friends with you — good friends — just as you and Selma Gordon are — though of course I couldn't hope to be as close a friend as she is. I'm too ignorant — too useless.''

He shook his head — with him, a gesture that conveyed the full strength of negation. ``We are on opposite sides of a line across which friendship is impossible. I could not be your friend without being false to myself. You couldn't be mine unless you were by some accident flung into the working class and forced to adopt it as your own. Even then you'd probably remain what you are. Only a small part of the working class as yet is at heart of the working class. Most of us secretly — almost openly — despise the life of work, and dream and hope a time of fortune that will put us up among the masters and the idlers.'' His expressive eyes became eloquent. ``The false and shallow ideas that have been educated into us for ages can't be uprooted in a few brief years.''

She felt the admiration she did not try to conceal. She saw the proud and splendid conception of the dignity of labor — of labor as a blessing, not a curse, as a badge of aristocracy and not of slavery and shame. ``You really believe that, don't you?'' she said. ``I know it's true. I say I believe it — who doesn't say so? But I don't feel it.''

``That's honest,'' said he heartily. ``That's some thing to build on.''

``And I'm going to build!'' cried she. ``You'll help me — won't you? I know, it's a great deal to ask. Why should you take the time and the trouble to bother with one single unimportant person.''

``That's the way I spend my life — in adding one man or one woman to our party — one at a time. It's slow building, but it's the only kind that endures. There are twelve hundred of us now — twelve hundred voters, I mean. Ten years ago there were only three hundred. We'd expand much more rapidly if it weren't for the constant shifts of population. Our men are forced to go elsewhere as the pressure of capitalism gets too strong. And in place of them come raw emigrants, ignorant, full of dreams of becoming capitalists and exploiters of their fellow men and idlers. Ambition they call it. Ambition!'' He laughed. ``What a vulgar, what a cruel notion of rising in the world! To cease to be useful, to become a burden to others! . . . Did you ever think how many poor creatures have to toil longer hours, how many children have to go to the factory instead of to school, in order that there may be two hundred and seven automobiles privately kept in this town and seventy-four chauffeurs doing nothing but wait upon their masters? Money doesn't grow on bushes, you know. Every cent of it has to be earned by somebody — and earned by manual labor.''

``I must think about that,'' she said — for the first time as much interested in what he was saying as in the man himself. No small triumph for Victor over the mind of a woman dominated, as was Jane Hastings, by the sex instinct that determines the thoughts and actions of practically the entire female sex.

``Yes — think about it,'' he urged. ``You will never see it — or anything — until you see it for yourself.''

``That's the way your party is built — isn't it?'' inquired she. ``Of those who see it for themselves.''

``Only those,'' replied he. ``We want no others.''

``Not even their votes?'' said she shrewdly.

``Not even their votes,'' he answered. ``We've no desire to get the offices until we get them to keep. And when we shall have conquered the city, we'll move on to the conquest of the county — then of the district — then of the state. Our kind of movement is building in every city now, and in most of the towns and many of the villages. The old parties are falling to pieces because they stand for the old politics of the two factions of the upper class quarreling over which of them should superintend the exploiting of the people. Very few of us realize what is going on before our very eyes — that we're seeing the death agonies of one form of civilization and the birth-throes of a newer form.''

``And what will it be?'' asked the girl.

She had been waiting for some sign of the ``crank,'' the impractical dreamer. She was confident that this question would reveal the man she had been warned against — that in answering it he would betray his true self. But he disappointed and surprised her.

``How can I tell what it will be?'' said he. ``I'm not a prophet. All I can say is I am sure it will be human, full of imperfections, full of opportunities for improvements — and that I hope it will be better than what we have now. Probably not much better, but a little — and that little, however small it may be, will be a gain. Doesn't history show a slow but steady advance of the idea that the world is for the people who live in it, a slow retreat of the idea that the world and the people and all its and their resources are for a favored few of some kind of an upper class? Yes — I think it is reasonable to hope that out of the throes will come a freer and a happier and a more intelligent race.''

Suddenly she burst out, apparently irrelevantly: ``But I can't — I really can't agree with you that everyone ought to do physical labor. That would drag the world down — yes, I'm sure it would.''

``I guess you haven't thought about that,'' said he. ``Painters do physical labor — and sculptors — and writers — and all the scientific men — and the inventors — and — '' He laughed at her — ``Who doesn't do physical labor that does anything really useful? Why, you yourself — at tennis and riding and such things — do heavy physical labor. I've only to look at your body to see that. But it's of a foolish kind — foolish and narrowly selfish.''

``I see I'd better not try to argue with you,'' said she.

``No — don't argue — with me or with anybody,'' rejoined he. ``Sit down quietly and think about life — about your life. Think how it is best to live so that you may get the most out of life — the most substantial happiness. Don't go on doing the silly customary things simply because a silly customary world says they are amusing and worth while. Think — and do — for yourself, Jane Hastings.''

She nodded slowly and thoughtfully. ``I'll try to,'' she said. She looked at him with the expression of the mind aroused. It was an expression that often rewarded him after a long straight talk with a fellow being. She went on: ``I probably shan't do what you'd approve. You see, I've got to be myself — got to live to a certain extent the kind of a life fate has made for me.''

``You couldn't successfully live any other,'' said he.

``But, while it won't be at all what you'd regard as a model life — or even perhaps useful — it'll be very different — very much better — than it would have been, if I hadn't met you — Victor Dorn.''

``Oh, I've done nothing,'' said he. ``All I try to do is to encourage my fellow beings to be themselves. So — live your own life — the life you can live best — just as you wear the clothes that fit and become you. . . . And now — about the street car question. What do you want of me?''

``Tell me what to say to father.''

He shook his head. ``Can't do it,'' said he. ``There's a good place for you to make a beginning. Put on an old dress and go down town and get acquainted with the family life of the street-car men. Talk to their wives and their children. Look into the whole business yourself.''

``But I'm not — not competent to judge,'' objected she.

``Well, make yourself competent,'' advised he.

``I might get Miss Gordon to go with me,'' suggested she.

``You'll learn more thoroughly if you go alone,'' declared he.

She hesitated — ventured with a winning smile: ``You won't go with me — just to get me started right?''

``No,'' said he. ``You've got to learn for yourself — or not at all. If I go with you, you'll get my point of view, and it will take you so much the longer to get your own.''

``Perhaps you'd prefer I didn't go.''

``It's not a matter of much importance, one way or the other — except perhaps to yourself,'' replied he.

``Any one individual can do the human race little good by learning the truth about life. The only benefit is to himself. Don't forget that in your sweet enthusiasm for doing something noble and generous and helpful. Don't become a Davy Hull. You know, Davy is on earth for the benefit of the human race. Ever since he was born he has been taken care of — supplied with food, clothing, shelter, everything. Yet he imagines that he is somehow a God-appointed guardian of the people who have gathered and cooked his food, made his clothing, served him in every way. It's very funny, that attitude of your class toward mine.''

``They look up to us,'' said Jane. ``You can't blame us for allowing it — for becoming pleased with ourselves.''

``That's the worst of it — we do look up to you,'' admitted he. ``But — we're learning better.''

``You've already learned better — you personally, I mean. I think that when you compare me, for instance, with a girl like Selma Gordon, you look down on me.''

``Don't you, yourself, feel that any woman who is self-supporting and free is your superior?''

``In some moods, I do,'' replied Jane. ``In other moods, I feel as I was brought up to feel.''

They talked on and on, she detaining him without seeming to do so. She felt proud of her adroitness. But the truth was that his stopping on for nearly two hours was almost altogether a tribute to her physical charm — though Victor was unconscious of it. When the afternoon was drawing on toward the time for her father to come, she reluctantly let him go. She said:

``But you'll come again?''

``I can't do that,'' replied he regretfully. ``I could not come to your father's house and continue free. I must be able to say what I honestly think, without any restraint.''

``I understand,'' said she. ``And I want you to say and to write what you believe to be true and right. But — we'll see each other again. I'm sure we are going to be friends.''

His expression as he bade her good-by told her that she had won his respect and his liking. She had a suspicion that she did not deserve either; but she was full of good resolutions, and assured herself she soon would be what she had pretended — that her pretenses were not exactly false, only somewhat premature.

At dinner that evening she said to her father:

``I think I ought to do something beside enjoy myself. I've decided to go down among the poor people and see whether I can't help them in some way.''

``You'd better keep away from that part of town,'' advised her father. ``They live awful dirty, and you might catch some disease. If you want to do anything for the poor, send a check to our minister or to the charity society. There's two kinds of poor — those that are working hard and saving their money and getting up out of the dirt, and those that haven't got no spunk or get-up. The first kind don't need help, and the second don't deserve it.''

``But there are the children, popsy,'' urged Jane. ``The children of the no-account poor ought to have a chance.''

``I don't reckon there ever was a more shiftless, do-easy pair than my father and mother,'' rejoined Martin Hastings. ``They were what set me to jumping.''

She saw that his view was hopelessly narrow — that, while he regarded himself justly as an extraordinary man, he also, for purposes of prejudice and selfishness, regarded his own achievements in overcoming what would have been hopeless handicaps to any but a giant in character and in physical endurance as an instance of what any one could do if he would but work. She never argued with him when she wished to carry her point. She now said:

``It seems to me that, in our own interest, we ought to do what we can to make the poor live better. As you say, it's positively dangerous to go about in the tenement part of town — and those people are always coming among us. For instance, our servants have relatives living in Cooper Street, where there's a pest of consumption.''

Old Hastings nodded. ``That's part of Davy Hull's reform programme,'' said he. ``And I'm in favor of it. The city government ought to make them people clean up.''

``Victor Dorn wants that done, too — doesn't he?'' said Jane.

``No,'' replied the old man sourly. ``He says it's no use to clean up the slums unless you raise wages — and that then the slum people'd clean themselves up. The idea of giving those worthless trash more money to spend for beer and whisky and finery for their fool daughters. Why, they don't earn what we give 'em now.''

Jane couldn't resist the temptation to say, ``I guess the laziest of them earn more than Davy Hull or I.''

``Because some gets more than they earn ain't a reason why others should.'' He grinned. ``Maybe you and Davy ought to have less, but Victor Dorn and his riff-raff oughtn't to be pampered. . . . Do you want me to cut your allowance down?''

She was ready for him. ``If you can get as satisfactory a housekeeper for less, you're a fool to overpay the one you have.''

The old man was delighted. ``I've been cheating you,'' said he. ``I'll double your pay.''

``You're doing it just in time to stop a strike,'' laughed the girl.

After a not unknown fashion she was most obedient to her father when his commands happened to coincide with her own inclinations. Her ardor for an excursion into the slums and the tenements died almost with Victor Dorn's departure. Her father's reasons for forbidding her to go did not impress her as convincing, but she felt that she owed it to him to respect his wishes. Anyhow, what could she find out that she did not know already? Yes, Dorn and her father were right in the conclusion each reached by a different road. She would do well not to meddle where she could not possibly accomplish any good. She could question the servants and could get from them all the facts she needed for urging her father at least to cut down the hours of labor.

The more she thought about Victor Dorn the more uneasy she became. She had made more progress with him than she had hoped to make in so short a time. But she had made it at an unexpected cost. If she had softened him, he had established a disquieting influence over her. She was not sure, but she was afraid, that he was stronger than she — that, if she persisted in her whim, she would soon be liking him entirely too well for her own comfort. Except as a pastime, Victor Dorn did not fit into her scheme of life. If she continued to see him, to yield to the delight of his magnetic voice, of his fresh and original mind, of his energetic and dominating personality, might he not become aroused — begin to assert power over her, compel her to — to — she could not imagine what; only, it was foolish to deny that he was a dangerous man. ``If I've got good sense,'' decided she, ``I'll let him alone. I've nothing to gain and everything to lose.''

Her motor — the one her father had ordered as a birthday present — came the next day; and on the following day two girl friends from Cincinnati arrived for a long visit. So, Jane Hastings had the help she felt she perhaps needed in resisting the temptings of her whim.

To aid her in giving her friends a good time she impressed Davy Hull, in spite of his protests that his political work made social fooling about impossible. The truth was that the reform movement, of which he was one of the figureheads, was being organized by far more skillful and expert hands than his — and for purposes of which he had no notion. So, he really had all the time in the world to look after Ellen Clearwater and Josie Arthur, and to pose as a serious man bent upon doing his duty as an upper class person of leisure. All that the reform machine wished of him was to talk and to pose — and to ride on the show seat of the pretty, new political wagon.

The new movement had not yet been ``sprung'' upon the public. It was still an open secret among the young men of the ``better element'' in the Lincoln, the Jefferson and the University clubs. Money was being subscribed liberally by persons of good family who hoped for political preferment and could not get it from the old parties, and by corporations tired of being ``blackmailed'' by Kelly and House, and desirous of getting into office men who would give them what they wanted because it was for the public good that they should not be hampered in any way. With plenty of money an excellent machine could be built and set to running. Also, there was talk of a fusion with the Democratic machine, House to order the wholesale indorsement of the reform ticket in exchange for a few minor places.

When the excitement among the young gentlemen over the approaching moral regeneration of Remsen City politics was at the boiling point Victor Dorn sent for David Hull — asked him to come to the Baker Avenue café, which was the social headquarters of Dorn's Workingmen's League. As Hull was rather counting on Dorn's support, or at least neutrality, in the approaching contest, he accepted promptly. As he entered the café he saw Dorn seated at a table in a far corner listening calmly to a man who was obviously angrily in earnest. At second glance he recognized Tony Rivers, one of Dick Kelly's shrewdest lieutenants and a labor leader of great influence in the unions of factory workers. Among those in ``the know'' it was understood that Rivers could come nearer to delivering the labor vote than any man in Remsen City. He knew whom to corrupt with bribes and whom to entrap by subtle appeals to ignorant prejudice. As a large part of his herd was intensely Catholic, Rivers was a devout Catholic. To quote his own phrase, used in a company on whose discretion he could count, ``Many's the pair of pants I've worn out doing the stations of the Cross.'' In fact, Rivers had been brought up a Presbyterian, and under the name of Blake — his correct name — had ``done a stretch'' in Joliet for picking pockets.

Dorn caught sight of Davy Hull, hanging uncertainly in the offing. He rose at once, said a few words in a quiet, emphatic way to Rivers — words of conclusion and dismissal — and advanced to meet Hull.

``I don't want to interrupt. I can wait,'' said Hull, who saw Rivers' angry scowl at him. He did not wish to offend the great labor leader.

``That fellow pushed himself on me,'' said Dorn. ``I've nothing to say to him.''

``Tony Rivers — wasn't it?'' said Davy as they seated themselves at another table.

``I'm going to expose him in next week's New Day,'' replied Victor. ``When I sent him a copy of the article for his corrections, if he could make any, he came threatening.''

``I've heard he's a dangerous man,'' said Davy.

``He'll not be so dangerous after Saturday,'' replied Victor. ``One by one I'm putting the labor agents of your friends out of business. The best ones — the chaps like Rivers — are hard to catch. And if I should attack one of them before I had him dead to rights, I'd only strengthen him.''

``You think you can destroy Rivers' influence?'' said Davy incredulously.

``If I were not sure of it I'd not publish a line,'' said Victor. ``But to get to the subject I wish to talk to you about. You are to be the reform candidate for Mayor in the fall?''

Davy looked important and self-conscious. ``There has been some talk of — — '' he began.

``I've sent for you to ask you to withdraw from the movement, Hull,'' interrupted Victor.

Hull smiled. ``And I've come to ask you to support it,'' said Hull. ``We'll win, anyhow. But I'd like to see all the forces against corruption united in this campaign. I am even urging my people to put one or two of your men on the ticket.''

``None of us would accept,'' said Victor. ``That isn't our kind of politics. We'll take nothing until we get everything. . . . What do you know about this movement you're lending your name to?''

``I organized it,'' said Hull proudly.

``Pardon me — Dick Kelly organized it,'' replied Victor. ``They're simply using you, Davy, to play their rotten game. Kelly knew he was certain to be beaten this fall. He doesn't care especially for that, because House and his gang are just as much Kelly as Kelly himself. But he's alarmed about the judgeship.''

Davy Hull reddened, though he tried hard to look indifferent.

``He's given up hope of pulling through the scoundrel who's on the bench now. He knows that our man would be elected, though his tool had the support of the Republicans, the Democrats and the new reform crowd.''

Dorn had been watching Hull's embarrassed face keenly. He now said: ``You understand, I see, why Judge Freilig changed his mind and decided that he must stop devoting himself to the public and think of the welfare of his family and resume the practice of the law?''

``Judge Freilig is an honorable gentleman,'' said Davy with much dignity. ``I'm sorry, Dorn, that you listen to the lies of demagogues.''

``If Freilig had persisted in running,'' said Victor, ``I should have published the list of stocks and bonds of corporations benefiting by his decisions that his brother and his father have come into possession of during his two terms on the bench. Many of our judges are simply mentally crooked. But Freilig is a bribe taker. He probably believes his decisions are just. All you fellows believe that upper-class rule is really best for the people — — ''

``And so it is,'' said Davy. ``And you, an educated man, know it.''

``I'll not argue that now,'' said Victor. ``As I was saying, while Freilig decides for what he honestly thinks is right, he also feels he is entitled to a share of the substantial benefits. Most of the judges, after serving the upper class faithfully for years, retire to an old age of comparative poverty. Freilig thinks that is foolish.''

``I suppose you agree with him,'' said Hull sarcastically.

``I sympathize with him,'' said Victor. ``He retires with reputation unstained and with plenty of money. If I should publish the truth about him, would he lose a single one of his friends? You know he wouldn't. That isn't the way the world is run at present.''

``No doubt it would be run much better if your crowd were in charge,'' sneered Hull.

``On the contrary, much worse,'' replied Victor unruffled. ``But we're educating ourselves so that, when our time comes, we'll not do so badly.''

``You'll have plenty of time for education,'' said Davy.

``Plenty,'' said Victor. ``But why are you angry? Because you realize now that your reform candidate for judge is of Dick Kelly's selecting?''

``Kelly didn't propose Hugo Galland,'' cried Davy hotly. ``I proposed him myself.''

``Was his the first name you proposed?''

Something in Dorn's tone made Davy feel that it would be unwise to yield to the impulse to tell a lie — for the highly moral purpose of silencing this agitator and demagogue.

``You will remember,'' pursued Victor, ``that Galland was the sixth or seventh name you proposed — and that Joe House rejected the others. He did it, after consulting with Kelly. You recall — don't you? — that every time you brought him a name he took time to consider?''

``How do you know so much about all this?'' cried Davy, his tone suggesting that Victor was wholly mistaken, but his manner betraying that he knew Victor was right.

``Oh, politicians are human,'' replied Dorn. ``And the human race is loose-mouthed. I saw years ago that if I was to build my party I must have full and accurate information as to all that was going on. I made my plans accordingly.''

``Galland is an honest man — rich — above suspicion — above corruption — an ideal candidate,'' said Davy.

``He is a corporation owner, a corporation lawyer — and a fool,'' said Victor. ``As I've told you, all Dick Kelly's interest in this fall's local election is that judgeship.''

``Galland is my man. I want to see him elected. If Kelly's for Galland, so much the better. Then we're sure of electing him — of getting the right sort of a man on the bench.''

``I'm not here to argue with you about politics, Davy,'' said Victor. ``I brought you here because I like you — believe in your honesty — and don't want to see you humiliated. I'm giving you a chance to save yourself .''

``From what?'' inquired Hull, not so valiant as he pretended to be.

``From the ridicule and disgrace that will cover this reform movement, if you persist in it.''

Hull burst out laughing. ``Of all the damned impudence!'' he exclaimed. ``Dorn, I think you've gone crazy .''

``You can't irritate me, Hull. I've been giving you the benefit of the doubt. I think you are falling into the commonest kind of error — doing evil and winking at evil in order that a good end may be gained. Now, listen. What are the things you reformers are counting on to get you votes this fall''

Davy maintained a haughty silence.

``The traction scandals, the gas scandals and the paving scandals — isn't that it?''

``Of course,'' said Davy.

``Then — why have the gas crowd, the traction crowd and the paving crowd each contributed twenty-five thousand dollars to your campaign fund?''

Hull stared at Victor Dorn in amazement. ``Who told you that lie?'' he blustered.

Dorn looked at him sadly. ``Then you knew? I hoped you didn't, Hull. But — now that you're facing the situation squarely, don't you see that you're being made a fool of? Would those people put up for your election if they weren't sure you and your crowd were their crowd?''

``They'll find out!'' cried Hull.

``You'll find out, you mean,'' replied Victor. ``I see your whole programme, Davy. They'll put you in, and they'll say, `Let us alone and we'll make you governor of the State. Annoy us, and you'll have no political future.' And you'll say to yourself, `The wise thing for me to do is to wait until I'm governor before I begin to serve the people. Then I can really do something.' And so, you'll be their mayor — and afterward their governor — because they'll hold out another inducement. Anyhow, by that time you'll be so completely theirs that you'll have no hope of a career except through them.''

After reading how some famous oration wrought upon its audience we turn to it and wonder that such tempests of emotion could have been produced by such simple, perhaps almost commonplace words. The key to the mystery is usually a magic quality in the tone of the orator, evoking before its hypnotized hearers a series of vivid pictures, just as the notes of a violin, with no aid from words or even from musical form seem to materialize into visions. This uncommon yet by no means rare power was in Victor Dorn's voice, and explained his extraordinary influence over people of all kinds and classes; it wove a spell that enmeshed even those who disliked him for his detestable views. Davy Hull, listening to Victor's simple recital of his prospective career, was so wrought upon that he sat staring before him in a kind of terror.

``Davy,'' said Victor gently, ``you're at the parting of the ways. The time for honest halfway reformers — for political amateurs has passed. `Under which king, Bezonian? Speak or die!' — that's the situation to day.''

And Hull knew that it was so. ``What do you propose, Dorn?'' he said. ``I want to do what's right — what's best for the people.''

``Don't worry about the people, Hull,'' said Victor.

``Upper classes come and pass, but the people remain — bigger and stronger and more aggressive with every century. And they dictate language and art, and politics and religion — what we shall all eat and wear and think and do. Only what they approve, only that yoke even which they themselves accept, has any chance of enduring. Don't worry about the people, Davy. Worry about yourself.''

``I admit,'' said Hull, ``that I don't like a lot of things about the — the forces I find I've got to use in order to carry through my plans. I admit that even the sincere young fellows I've grouped together to head this movement are narrow — supercilious — self-satisfied — that they irritate me and are not trustworthy. But I feel that, if I once get the office, I'll be strong enough to put my plans through.'' Nervously, ``I'm giving you my full confidence — as I've given it to no one else.''

``You've told me nothing I didn't know already,'' said Victor.

``I've got to choose between this reform party and your party,'' continued Hull. ``That is, I've got no choice. For, candidly, I've no confidence in the working class. It's too ignorant to do the ruling. It's too credulous to build on — for its credulity makes it fickle. And I believe in the better class, too. It may be sordid and greedy and tyrannical, but by appealing to its good instincts — and to its fear of the money kings and the monopolists, something good can be got through it.''

``If you want to get office,'' said Dorn, ``you're right. But if you want to be somebody, if you want to develop yourself, to have the joy of being utterly unafraid in speech and in action — why, come with us.''

After a pause Hull said, ``I'd like to do it. I'd like to help you.''

Victor laid his hand on Davy's arm. ``Get it straight, Davy,'' he said. ``You can't help us. We don't need you. It's you that needs us. We'll make an honest man of you — instead of a trimming politician, trying to say or to do something more or less honest once in a while and winking at or abetting crookedness most of the time.''

``I've done nothing, and I'll do nothing, to be ashamed of,'' protested Hull.

``You are not ashamed of the way your movement is financed?''

Davy moved uncomfortably. ``The money's ours now,'' said he. ``They gave it unconditionally.''

But he could not meet Victor's eyes. Victor said: ``They paid a hundred thousand dollars for a judgeship and for a blanket mortgage on your party. And if you should win, you'd find you could do little showy things that were of no value, but nothing that would seriously disturb a single leech sucking the blood of this community.''

``I don't agree with you,'' said Davy. He roused himself into anger — his only remaining refuge. ``Your prejudices blind you to all the means — the practical means — of doing good, Dorn. I've listened patiently to you because I respect your sincerity. But I'm not going to waste my life in mere criticism. I'm going to do something.''

An expression of profound sadness came into Victor's face. ``Don't decide now,'' he said. ``Think it over. Remember what I've told you about what we'll be compelled to do if you launch this party.''

Hull was tempted to burst out violently. Was not this swollen-headed upstart trying to intimidate him by threats? But his strong instinct for prudence persuaded him to conceal his resentment. ``Why the devil should you attack us?'' he demanded. ``Surely we're nearer your kind of thing than the old parties — and we, too, are against them — their rotten machines.''

``We purpose to keep the issue clear in this town,'' replied Victor. ``So, we can't allow a party to grow up that pretends to be just as good as ours but is really a cover behind which the old parties we've been battering to pieces can reorganize.''

``That is, you'll tolerate in this market no brand of honest politics but your own?''

``If you wish to put it that way,'' replied Victor coolly.

``I suppose you'd rather see Kelly or House win?''

``We'll see that House does win,'' replied Victor. ``When we have shot your movement full of holes and sunk it, House will put up a straight Democratic ticket, and it will win.''

``And House means Kelly — and Kelly means corruption rampant.''

``And corruption rampant means further and much needed education in the school of hard experience for the voters,'' said Dorn. ``And the more education, the larger our party and the quicker its triumph.''

Hull laughed angrily. ``Talk about low self-seeking! Talk about rotten practical politics!''

But Dorn held his good humor of the man who has the power and knows it. ``Think it over, Davy,'' counseled he. ``You'll see you've got to come with us or join Kelly. For your own sake I'd like to see you with us. For the party's sake you'd better be with Kelly, for you're not really a workingman, and our fellows would be uneasy about you for a long time. You see, we've had experience of rich young men whose hearts beat for the wrongs of the working class — and that experience has not been fortunate.''

``Before you definitely decide to break with the decent element of the better class, Victor, I want you to think it over,'' said Davy. ``We — I, myself — have befriended you more than once. But for a few of us who still have hope that demagoguery will die of itself, your paper would have been suppressed long ago.''

Victor laughed. ``I wish they would suppress it,'' said he. ``The result would give the `better element' in this town a very bad quarter of an hour, at least.'' He rose. ``We've both said all we've got to say to each other. I see I've done no good. I feared it would be so.'' He was looking into Hull's eyes — into his very soul. ``When we meet again, you will probably be my open and bitter enemy. It's a pity. It makes me sad. Good-by, and — do think it over, Davy.''

Dorn moved rapidly away. Hull looked after him in surprise. At first blush he was astonished that Dorn should care so much about him as this curious interview and his emotion at its end indicated. But on reflecting his astonishment disappeared, and he took the view that Dorn was simply impressed by his personality and by his ability — was perhaps craftily trying to disarm him and to destroy his political movement which was threatening to destroy the Workingmen's League. ``A very shrewd chap is Dorn,'' thought Davy — why do we always generously concede at least acumen to those we suspect of having a good opinion of us? — ``A very shrewd chap. It's unfortunate he's cursed with that miserable envy of those better born and better off than he is.''

Davy spent the early evening at the University Club, where he was an important figure. Later on he went to a dance at Mrs. Venable's — and there he was indeed a lion, as an unmarried man with money cannot but be in a company of ladies — for money to a lady is what soil and sun and rain are to a flower — is that without which she must cease to exist. But still later, when he was alone in bed — perhaps with the supper he ate at Mrs. Venable's not sitting as lightly as comfort required — the things Victor Dorn had said came trailing drearily through his mind. What kind of an article would Dorn print? Those facts about the campaign fund certainly would look badly in cold type — especially if Dorn had the proofs. And Hugo Galland — Beyond question the mere list of the corporations in which Hugo was director or large stockholder would make him absurd as a judge, sitting in that district. And Hugo the son-in-law of the most offensive capitalist in that section of the State! And the deal with House, endorsed by Kelly — how nasty that would look, if Victor had the proofs. If Victor had the proofs. But had he?

``I must have a talk with Kelly,'' said Davy, aloud.

The words startled him — not his voice suddenly sounding in the profound stillness of his bedroom, but the words themselves. It was his first admission to himself of the vicious truth he had known from the outset and had been pretending to himself that he did not know — the truth that his reform movement was a fraud contrived by Dick Kelly to further the interests of the company of financiers and the gang of politico-criminal thugs who owned the party machinery. It is a nice question whether a man is ever allowed to go in honest self-deception decisively far along a wrong road. However this may be, certain it is that David Hull, reformer, was not so allowed. And he was glad of the darkness that hid him at least physically from himself as he strove to convince himself that, if he was doing wrong, it was from the highest motives and for the noblest purposes and would result in the public good — and not merely in fame and office for David Hull.

The struggle ended as struggles usually end in the famous arena of moral sham battles called conscience; and toward the middle of the following morning Davy, at peace with himself and prepared to make any sacrifice of personal squeamishness or moral idealism for the sake of the public good, sought out Dick Kelly.

Kelly's original headquarters had, of course, been the doggery in and through which he had established himself as a political power. As his power grew and his relations with more respectable elements of society extended he shifted to a saloon and beer garden kept by a reputable German and frequented by all kinds of people — a place where his friends of the avowedly criminal class and his newer friends of the class that does nothing legally criminal, except in emergencies, would feel equally at ease. He retained ownership of the doggery, but took his name down and put up that of his barkeeper. When he won his first big political fight and took charge of the public affairs of Remsen City and made an arrangement with Joe House where — under Remsen City, whenever it wearied or sickened of Kelly, could take instead Kelly disguised as Joe House — when he thus became a full blown boss he established a secondary headquarters in addition to that at Herrmann's Garden. Every morning at ten o'clock he took his stand in the main corridor of the City Hall, really a thoroughfare and short cut for the busiest part of town. With a cigar in his mouth he stood there for an hour or so, holding court, making appointments, attending to all sorts of political business.

Presently his importance and his ideas of etiquette expanded to such an extent that he had to establish the Blaine Club. Joe House's Tilden Club was established two years later, in imitation of Kelly. If you had very private and important business with Kelly — business of the kind of which the public must get no inkling, you made — preferably by telephone — an appointment to meet him in his real estate offices in the Hastings Building — a suite with entrances and exits into three separated corridors. If you wished to see him about ordinary matters and were a person who could ``confer'' with Kelly without its causing talk you met him at the Blaine Club. If you wished to cultivate him, to pay court to him, you saw him at Herrmann's — or in the general rooms of the club. If you were a busy man and had time only to exchange greetings with him — to ``keep in touch'' — you passed through the City Hall now and then at his hour. Some bosses soon grow too proud for the vulgar democracy of such a public stand; but Kelly, partly through shrewdness, partly through inclination, clung to the City Hall stand and encouraged the humblest citizens to seek him there and tell him the news or ask his aid or his advice.

It was at the City Hall that Davy Hull sought him, and found him. Twice he walked briskly to the boss; the third time he went by slowly. Kelly, who saw everything, had known from the first glance at Hull's grave, anxious face, that the young leader of the ``holy boys'' was there to see him. But he ignored Davy until Davy addressed him directly.

``Howdy, Mr. Hull!'' said he, observing the young man with eyes that twinkled cynically. ``What's the good word?''

``I want to have a little talk with you,'' Davy blurted out. ``Where could I see you?''

``Here I am,'' said Kelly. ``Talk away.''

``Couldn't I see you at some — some place where we'd not be interrupted? I saw Victor Dorn yesterday, and he said some things that I think you ought to know about.''

``I do know about 'em,'' replied Kelly.

``Are you sure? I mean his threats to — to — — ''

As Davy paused in an embarrassed search for a word that would not hurt his own but recently soothed conscience, Kelly laughed. ``To expose you holy boys?'' inquired he. ``To upset the nice moral campaign you and Joe House have laid out? Yes, I know all about Mr. Victor Dorn. But — Joe House is the man you want to see. You boys are trying to do me up — trying to break up the party. You can't expect me to help you. I've got great respect for you personally, Mr. Hull. Your father — he was a fine old Republican wheel-horse. He stood by the party through thick and thin — and the party stood by him. So, I respect his son — personally. But politically — that's another matter. Politically I respect straight organization men of either party, but I've got no use for amateurs and reformers. So — go to Joe House.'' All this in perfect good humor, and in a tone of banter that might have ruffled a man with a keener sense of humor than Davy's.

Davy was red to his eyes, not because Kelly was laughing at him, but because he stood convicted of such a stupid political blunder as coming direct to Kelly when obviously he should have gone to Kelly's secret partner. ``Dorn means to attack us all — Republicans, Democrats and Citizens' Alliance,'' stammered Davy, trying to justify himself.

Kelly shifted his cigar and shrugged his shoulders.

``Don't worry about his attacks on me — on us,'' said he. ``We're used to being attacked. We haven't got no reputation for superior virtue to lose.''

``But he says he can prove that our whole campaign is simply a deal between you and House and me to fool the people and elect a bad judge.''

``So I've heard,'' said Kelly. ``But what of it? You know it ain't so.''

``No, I don't, Mr. Kelly,'' replied Hull, desperately. ``On the contrary, I think it is so. And I may add I think we are justified in making such a deal, when that's the only way to save the community from Victor Dorn and his crowd of — of anarchists.''

Kelly looked at him silently with amused eyes.

``House can't do anything,'' pursued Davy. ``Maybe you can. So I came straight to you.''

``I'm glad you're getting a little political sense, my boy,'' said Kelly. ``Perhaps you're beginning to see that a politician has got to be practical — that it's the organizations that keeps this city from being the prey to Victor Dorns.''

``I see that,'' said Davy. ``I'm willing to admit that I've misjudged you, Mr. Kelly — that the better classes owe you a heavy debt — and that you are one of the men we've got to rely on chiefly to stem the tide of anarchy that's rising — the attack on the propertied classes — the intelligent classes.''

``I see your eyes are being opened, my boy,'' said Kelly in a kindly tone that showed how deeply he appreciated this unexpected recognition of his own notion of his mission. ``You young silk stocking fellows up at the University Club, and the Lincoln and the Jefferson, have been indulging in a lot of loose talk against the fellows that do the hard work in politics — the fellows that helped your fathers to make fortunes and that are helping you boys to keep 'em. If I didn't have a pretty level head on me, I'd take my hands off and give Dorn and his gang a chance at you. I tell you, when you fool with that reform nonsense, you play with fire in a powder mill.''

``But I — I had an idea that you wanted me to go ahead,'' said Davy.

``Not the way you started last spring,'' replied Kelly.

``Not the way you'd 'a gone if I hadn't taken hold. I've been saving you in spite of yourselves. Thanks to me, your party's on a sound, conservative basis and won't do any harm and may do some good in teaching a lesson to those of our boys that've been going a little too far. It ain't good for an organization to win always.''

``Victor Dorn seemed to be sure — absolutely sure,'' said Hull. ``And he's pretty shrewd at politics — isn't he?''

``Don't worry about him, I tell you,'' replied Kelly.

The sudden hardening of his voice and of his never notably soft face was tribute stronger than any words to Dorn's ability as a politician, to his power as an antagonist. Davy felt a sinister intent — and he knew that Dick Kelly had risen because he would stop at nothing. He was as eager to get away from the boss as the boss was to be rid of him. The intrusion of a henchman, to whom Kelly had no doubt signaled, gave him the excuse. As soon as he had turned from the City Hall into Morton Street he slackened to as slow a walk as his length of leg would permit. Moving along, absorbed in uncomfortable thoughts, he startled violently when he heard Selma Gordon's voice:

``How d'you do, Mr. Hull? I was hoping I'd see you to-day.''

She was standing before him — the same fascinating embodiment of life and health and untamed energy; the direct, honest glance.

``I want to talk to you,'' she went on, ``and I can't, walking beside you. You're far too tall. Come into the park and we'll sit on that bench under the big maple.''

He had mechanically lifted his hat, but he had not spoken. He did not find words until they were seated side by side, and then all he could say was:

``I'm very glad to see you again — very glad, indeed.''

In fact, he was the reverse of glad, for he was afraid of her, afraid of himself when under the spell of her presence. He who prided himself on his self-control, he could not account for the effect this girl had upon him. As he sat there beside her the impulse Jane Hastings had so adroitly checked came surging back. He had believed, had hoped it was gone for good and all. He found that in its mysterious hiding place it had been gaining strength. Quite clearly he saw how absurd was the idea of making this girl his wife — he tall and she not much above the bend of his elbow; he conventional, and she the incarnation of passionate revolt against the restraints of class and form and custom which he not only conformed to but religiously believed in. And she set stirring in him all kinds of vague, wild longings to run amuck socially and politically — longings that, if indulged, would ruin him for any career worthy of the name.

He stood up. ``I must go — I really must,'' he said, confusedly.

She laid her small, strong hand on his arm — a natural, friendly gesture with her, and giving no suggestion of familiarity. Even as she was saying, ``Please — only a moment,'' he dropped back to the seat.

``Well — what is it?'' he said abruptly, his gaze resolutely away from her face.

``Victor was telling me this morning about his talk with you,'' she said in her rapid, energetic way. ``He was depressed because he had failed. But I felt sure — I feel sure — that he hasn't. In our talk the other day, Mr. Hull, I got a clear idea of your character. A woman understands better. And I know that, after Victor told you the plain truth about the situation, you couldn't go on.''

David looked round rather wildly, swallowed hard several times, said hoarsely: ``I won't, if you'll marry me.''

But for a slight change of expression or of color Davy would have thought she had not heard — or perhaps that he had imagined he was uttering the words that forced themselves to his lips in spite of his efforts to suppress them. For she went on in the same impetuous, friendly way:

``It seemed to me that you have an instinct for the right that's unusual in men of your class. At least, I think it's unusual. I confess I've not known any man of your class except you — and I know you very slightly. It was I that persuaded Victor to go to you. He believes that a man's class feeling controls him — makes his moral sense — compels his actions. But I thought you were an exception — and he yielded after I urged him a while.''

``I don't know what I am,'' said Hull gloomily. ``I think I want to do right. But — what is right? Not theoretical right, but the practical, workable thing?''

``That's true,'' conceded Selma. ``We can't always be certain what's right. But can't we always know what's wrong? And, Mr. Hull, it is wrong — altogether wrong — and you know it's wrong — to lend your name and your influence and your reputation to that crowd. They'd let you do a little good — why? To make their professions of reform seem plausible. To fool the people into trusting them again. And under cover of the little good you were showily doing, how much mischief they'd do! If you'll go back over the history of this town — of any town — of any country — you'll find that most of the wicked things — the things that pile the burdens on the shoulders of the poor — the masses — most of the wicked things have been done under cover of just such men as you, used as figureheads.''

``But I want to build up a new party — a party of honest men, honestly led,'' said Davy.

``Led by your sort of young men? I mean young men of your class. Led by young lawyers and merchants and young fellows living on inherited incomes? Don't you see that's impossible,'' cried Selma. ``They are all living off the labor of others. Their whole idea of life is exploiting the masses — is reaping where they have not sown or reaping not only what they've sown but also what others have sown — for they couldn't buy luxury and all the so-called refinements of life for themselves and their idle families merely with what they themselves could earn. How can you build up a really honest party with such men? They may mean well. They no doubt are honest, up to a certain point. But they will side with their class, in every crisis. And their class is the exploiting class.''

``I don't agree with you,'' said Davy. ``You are not fair to us.''

``How!'' demanded Selma.

``I couldn't argue with you,'' replied Hull. ``All I'll say is that you've seen only the one side — only the side of the working class.''

``That toils without ceasing — its men, its women, its children — '' said the girl with heaving bosom and flashing eyes — ``only to have most of what it earns filched away from it by your class to waste in foolish luxury!''

``And whose fault is that?'' pleaded Hull.

``The fault of my class,'' replied she. ``Their ignorance, their stupidity — yes, and their foolish cunning that overreaches itself. For they tolerate the abuses of the present system because each man — at least, each man of the ones who think themselves `smart' — imagines that the day is coming when he can escape from the working class and gain the ranks of the despoilers.''

``And you ask me to come into the party of those people!'' scoffed Davy.

``Yes, Mr. Hull,'' said she — and until then he had not appreciated how lovely her voice was. ``Yes — that is the party for you — for all honest, sincere men who want to have their own respect through and through. To teach those people — to lead them right — to be truthful and just with them — that is the life worth while.''

``But they won't learn. They won't be led right. They are as ungrateful as they are foolish. If they weren't, men like me trying to make a decent career wouldn't have to compromise with the Kellys and the Houses and their masters. What are Kelly and House but leaders of your class? And they lead ten to Victor Dorn's one. Why, any day Dorn's followers may turn on him — and you know it.''

``And what of that?'' cried Selma. ``He's not working to be their leader, but to do what he thinks is right, regardless of consequences. Why is he a happy man, as happiness goes? Why has he gone on his way steadily all these years, never minding setbacks and failures and defeats and dangers? I needn't tell you why.''

``No,'' said Hull, powerfully moved by her earnestness. ``I understand.''

``The finest sentence that ever fell from human lips,'' Selma went on, ``was `Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.' Forgive them — forgive us all — for when we go astray it is because we are in the dark. And I want you to come with us, Mr. Hull, and help to make it a little less dark. At least, you will then be looking toward the light — and every one turned in that direction counts.''

After a long pause, Hull said:

``Miss Gordon, may I ask you a very personal question?''

``Yes,'' said she.

``Are you in love with Victor Dorn?''

Selma laughed merrily. ``Jane Hastings had that same curiosity,'' said she. ``I'll answer you as I answered her — though she didn't ask me quite so directly. No, I am not in love with him. We are too busy to bother about those things. We have too much to do to think about ourselves.''

``Then — there is no reason why I should not ask you to be my wife — why I should not hope — and try?''

She looked at him with a peculiar smile. ``Yes, there is a very good reason. I do not love you, and I shall not love you. I shall not have time for that sort of thing.''

``Don't you believe in love?''

``I don't believe in much else,'' said she. ``But — not the kind of love you offer me.''

``How do you know?'' cried he. ``I have not told you yet how I feel toward you. I have not — — ''

``Oh, yes, you have,'' interrupted she. ``This is the second — no, the third time you have seen me. So, the love you offer me can only be of a kind it is not in the least flattering to a woman to inspire. You needn't apologize,'' she went on, laughingly. ``I've no doubt you mean well. You simply don't understand me — my sort of woman.''

``It's you that don't understand, Selma,'' cried he. ``You don't realize how wonderful you are — how much you reveal of yourself at once. I was all but engaged to another woman when I saw you. I've been fighting against my love for you — fighting against the truth that suddenly came to me that you were the only woman I had ever seen who appealed to and aroused and made strong all that is brave and honest in me. Selma, I need you. I am not infatuated. I am clearer-headed than I ever was in my life. I need you. You can make a man of me.''

She was regarding him with a friendly and even tender sympathy. ``I understand now,'' she said. ``I thought it was simply the ordinary outburst of passion. But I see that it was the result of your struggle with yourself about which road to take in making a career.''

If she had not been absorbed in developing her theory she might have seen that Davy was not altogether satisfied with this analysis of his feelings. But he deemed it wise to hold his peace.

``You do need some one — some woman,'' she went on. ``And I am anxious to help you all I can. I couldn't help you by marrying you. To me marriage means — — '' She checked herself abruptly. ``No matter. I can help you, I think, as a friend. But if you wish to marry, you should take some one in your own class — some one who's in sympathy with you. Then you and she could work it out together — could help each other. You see, I don't need you — and there's nothing in one-sided marriages. . . . No, you couldn't give me anything I need, so far as I can see.''

``I believe that's true,'' said Davy miserably.

She reflected, then continued: ``But there's Jane Hastings. Why not marry her? She is having the same sort of struggle with herself. You and she could help each other. And you're, both of you, fine characters. I like each of you for exactly the same reasons. . . . Yes — Jane needs you, and you need her.'' She looked at him with her sweet, frank smile like a breeze straight from the sweep of a vast plateau. ``Why, it's so obvious that I wonder you and she haven't become engaged long ago. You are fond of her, aren't you?''

``Oh, Selma,'' cried Davy, ``I love you. I want you.''

She shook her head with a quaint, fascinating expression of positiveness. ``Now, my friend,'' said she, ``drop that fancy. It isn't sensible. And it threatens to become silly.'' Her smile suddenly expanded into a laugh. ``The idea of you and me married — of me married to you! I'd drive you crazy. No, I shouldn't stay long enough for that. I'd be of on the wings of the wind to the other end of the earth as soon as you tried to put a halter on me.''

He did not join in her laugh. She rose. ``You will think again before you go in with those people — won't you, David?'' she said, sober and earnest.

``I don't care what becomes of me,'' he said boyishly.

``But I do,'' she said. ``I want to see you the man you can be.''

``Then — marry me,'' he cried.

Her eyes looked gentle friendship; her passionate lips curled in scorn. ``I might marry the sort of man you could be,'' she said, ``but I never could marry a man so weak that, without me to bolster him up, he'd become a stool-pigeon.''

And she turned and walked away.

V

A few days later, after she had taken her daily two hours' walk, Selma went into the secluded part of Washington Park and spent the rest of the morning writing. Her walk was her habitual time for thinking out her plans for the day. And when it was writing that she had to do, and the weather was fine, that particular hillside with its splendid shade so restful for the eyes and so stimulating to the mind became her work-shop. She thought that she was helped as much by the colors of grass and foliage as by the softened light and the tranquil view out over hills and valleys.

When she had finished her article she consulted the little nickel watch she carried in her bag and discovered that it was only one o'clock. She had counted on getting through at three or half past. Two hours gained. How could she best use them. The part of the Park where she was sitting was separated from the Hastings grounds only by the winding highroad making its last reach for the top of the hill. She decided that she would go to see Jane Hastings — would try to make tactful progress in her project of helping Jane and David Hull by marrying them to each other. Once she had hit upon this project her interest in both of them had equally increased. Yes, these gained two hours was an opportunity not to be neglected.

She put her papers into her shopping bag and went straight up the steep hill. She arrived at the top, at the edge of the lawn before Jane's house, with somewhat heightened color and brightened eyes, but with no quickening of the breath. Her slim, solid little body had all the qualities of endurance of those wiry ponies that come from the regions her face and walk and the careless grace of her hair so delightfully suggested. As she advanced toward the house she saw a gay company assembled on the wide veranda. Jane was giving a farewell luncheon for her visitors, had asked almost a dozen of the most presentable girls in the town. It was a very fashionable affair, and everyone had dressed for it in the best she had to wear at that time of day.

Selma saw the company while there was still time for her to draw back and descend into the woods. But she knew little about conventionalities, and she cared not at all about them. She had come to see Jane; she conducted herself precisely as she would have expected any one to act who came to see her at any time. She marched straight across the lawn. The hostess, the fashionable visitors, the fashionable guests soon centered upon the extraordinary figure moving toward them under that blazing sun. The figure was extraordinary not for dress — the dress was plain and unconspicuous — but for that expression of the free and the untamed, the lack of self-consciousness so rarely seen except in children and animals. Jane rushed to the steps to welcome her, seized her extended hands and kissed her with as much enthusiasm as she kissed Jane. There was sincerity in this greeting of Jane's; but there was pose, also. Here was one of those chances to do the unconventional, the democratic thing.

``What a glorious surprise!'' cried Jane. ``You'll stop for lunch, of course?'' Then to the girls nearest them: ``This is Selma Gordon, who writes for the New Day.''

Pronouncing of names — smiles — bows — veiled glances of curiosity — several young women exchanging whispered comments of amusement. And to be sure, Selma, in that simple costume, gloveless, with dusty shoes and blown hair, did look very much out of place. But then Selma would have looked, in a sense, out of place anywhere but in a wilderness with perhaps a few tents and a half-tamed herd as background. In another sense, she seemed in place anywhere as any natural object must.

``I don't eat lunch,'' said Selma. ``But I'll stay if you'll put me next to you and let me talk to you.''

She did not realize what an upsetting of order and precedence this request, which seemed so simple to her, involved. Jane hesitated, but only for a fraction of a second. ``Why, certainly,'' said she. ``Now that I've got you I'd not let you go in any circumstances.''

Selma was gazing around at the other girls with the frank and pleased curiosity of a child. ``Gracious, what pretty clothes!'' she cried — she was addressing Miss Clearwater, of Cincinnati. ``I've read about this sort of thing in novels and in society columns of newspapers. But I never saw it before. Isn't it interesting!''

Miss Clearwater, whose father was a United States Senator — by purchase — had had experience of many oddities, male and female. She also was attracted by Selma's sparkling delight, and by the magnetic charm which she irradiated as a rose its perfume. ``Pretty clothes are attractive, aren't they?'' said she, to be saying something.

``I don't know a thing about clothes,'' confessed Selma. ``I've never owned at the same time more than two dresses fit to wear — usually only one. And quite enough for me. I'd only be fretted by a lot of things of that kind. But I like to see them on other people. If I had my way the whole world would be well dressed.''

``Except you?'' said Ellen Clearwater with a smile.

``I couldn't be well dressed if I tried,'' replied Selma. ``When I was a child I was the despair of my mother. Most of the people in the tenement where we lived were very dirty and disorderly — naturally enough, as they had no knowledge and no money and no time. But mother had ideas of neatness and cleanliness, and she used to try to keep me looking decent. But it was of no use. Ten minutes after she had smoothed me down I was flying every which way again.''

``You were brought up in a tenement?'' said Miss Clearwater. Several of the girls within hearing were blushing for Selma and were feeling how distressed Jane Hastings must be.

``I had a wonderfully happy childhood,'' replied Selma. ``Until I was old enough to understand and to suffer. I've lived in tenements all my life — among very poor people. I'd not feel at home anywhere else.''

``When I was born,'' said Miss Clearwater, ``we lived in a log cabin up in the mining district of Michigan.''

Selma showed the astonishment the other girls were feeling. But while their astonishment was in part at a girl of Ellen Clearwater's position making such a degrading confession, hers had none of that element in it. ``You don't in the least suggest a log cabin or poverty of any kind,'' said she. ``I supposed you had always been rich and beautifully dressed.''

``No, indeed,'' replied Ellen. She gazed calmly round at the other girls who were listening. ``I doubt if any of us here was born to what you see. Of course we — some of us — make pretenses — all sorts of silly pretenses. But as a matter of fact there isn't one of us who hasn't near relatives in the cabins or the tenements at this very moment.''

There was a hasty turning away from this dangerous conversation. Jane came back from ordering the rearrangement of her luncheon table. Said Selma:

``I'd like to wash my hands, and smooth my hair a little.''

``You take her up, Ellen,'' said Jane. ``And hurry. We'll be in the dining-room when you come down.''

Selma's eyes were wide and roving as she and Ellen went through the drawing-room, the hall, up stairs and into the very prettily furnished suite which Ellen was occupying. ``I never saw anything like this before!'' exclaimed Selma. ``It's the first time I was ever in a grand house. This is a grand house, isn't it?''

``No — it's only comfortable,'' replied Ellen. ``Mr. Hastings — and Jane, too, don't go in for grandeur.''

``How beautiful everything is — and how convenient!'' exclaimed Selma. ``I haven't felt this way since the first time I went to the circus.'' She pointed to a rack from which were suspended thin silk dressing gowns of various rather gay patterns. ``What are those?'' she inquired.

``Dressing gowns,'' said Ellen. ``Just to wear round while one is dressing or undressing.''

Selma advanced and felt and examined them. ``But why so many?'' she inquired.

``Oh, foolishness,'' said Ellen. ``Indulgence! To suit different moods.''

``Lovely,'' murmured Selma. ``Lovely!''

``I suspect you of a secret fondness for luxury,'' said Ellen slyly.

Selma laughed. ``What would I do with such things?'' she inquired. ``Why, I'd have no time to wear them. I'd never dare put on anything so delicate.''

She roamed through dressing-room, bedroom, bath-room, marveling, inquiring, admiring. ``I'm so glad I came,'' said she. ``This will give me a fresh point of view. I can understand the people of your class better, and be more tolerant about them. I understand now why they are so hard and so indifferent. They're quite removed from the common lot. They don't realize; they can't. How narrow it must make one to have one's life filled with these pretty little things for luxury and show. Why, if I lived this life, I'd cease to be human after a short time.''

Ellen was silent.

``I didn't mean to say anything rude or offensive,'' said Selma, sensitive to the faintest impressions. ``I was speaking my thoughts aloud. . . . Do you know David Hull?''

``The young reformer?'' said Ellen with a queer little smile. ``Yes — quite well.''

``Does he live like this?''

``Rather more grandly,'' said Ellen.

Selma shook her head. A depressed expression settled upon her features. ``It's useless,'' she said. ``He couldn't possibly become a man.''

Ellen laughed. ``You must hurry,'' she said. ``We're keeping everyone waiting.''

As Selma was making a few passes at her rebellious thick hair — passes the like of which Miss Clearwater had never before seen — she explained:

``I've been somewhat interested in David Hull of late — have been hoping he could graduate from a fake reformer into a useful citizen. But — '' She looked round expressively at the luxury surrounding them — ``one might as well try to grow wheat in sand.''

``Davy is a fine fraud,'' said Ellen. ``Fine — because he doesn't in the least realize that he's a fraud.''

``I'm afraid he is a fraud,'' said Selma setting on her hat again. ``What a pity? He might have been a man, if he'd been brought up properly.'' She gazed at Ellen with sad, shining eyes. ``How many men and women luxury blights!'' she cried.

``It certainly has done for Davy,'' said Ellen lightly. ``He'll never be anything but a respectable fraud.''

``Why do you think so?'' Selma inquired.

``My father is a public man,'' Miss Clearwater explained. ``And I've seen a great deal of these reformers. They're the ordinary human variety of politician plus a more or less conscious hypocrisy. Usually they're men who fancy themselves superior to the common run in birth and breeding. My father has taught me to size them up.''

They went down, and Selma, seated between Jane and Miss Clearwater, amused both with her frank comments on the scene so strange to her — the beautiful table, the costly service, the variety and profusion of elaborate food. In fact, Jane, reaching out after the effects got easily in Europe and almost as easily in the East, but overtaxed the resources of the household which she was only beginning to get into what she regarded as satisfactory order. The luncheon, therefore, was a creditable and promising attempt rather than a success, from the standpoint of fashion. Jane was a little ashamed, and at times extremely nervous — this when she saw signs of her staff falling into disorder that might end in rout. But Selma saw none of the defects. She was delighted with the dazzling spectacle — for two or three courses. Then she lapsed into quiet and could not be roused to speak.

Jane and Ellen thought she was overwhelmed and had been seized of shyness in this company so superior to any in which she had ever found herself. Ellen tried to induce her to eat, and, failing, decided that her refraining was not so much firmness in the two meals-a-day system as fear of making a ``break.'' She felt genuinely sorry for the silent girl growing moment by moment more ill-at-ease. When the luncheon was about half over Selma said abruptly to Jane:

``I must go now. I've stayed longer than I should.''

``Go?'' cried Jane. ``Why, we haven't begun to talk yet.''

``Another time,'' said Selma, pushing back her chair. ``No, don't rise.'' And up she darted, smiling gayly round at the company. ``Don't anybody disturb herself,'' she pleaded. ``It'll be useless, for I'll be gone.''

And she was as good as her word. Before any one quite realized what she was about, she had escaped from the dining-room and from the house. She almost ran across the lawn and into the woods. There she drew a long breath noisily.

``Free!'' she cried, flinging out her arms. ``Oh — but it was dreadful!''

Miss Hastings and Miss Clearwater had not been so penetrating as they fancied. Embarrassment had nothing to do with the silence that had taken possession of the associate editor of the New Day. She was never self-conscious enough to be really shy. She hastened to the office, meeting Victor Dorn in the street doorway. She cried:

``Such an experience!''

``What now?'' said Victor. He was used to that phrase from the ardent and impressionable Selma. For her, with her wide-open eyes and ears, her vivid imagination and her thirsty mind, life was one closely packed series of adventures.

``I had an hour to spare,'' she proceeded to explain. ``I thought it was a chance to further a little scheme I've got for marrying Jane Hastings and David Hull.''

``Um!'' said Victor with a quick change of expression — which, however, Selma happened not to observe.

``And,'' she went on, ``I blundered into a luncheon party Jane was giving. You never saw — you never dreamed of such style — such dresses and dishes and flowers and hats! And I was sitting there with them, enjoying it all as if it were a circus or a ballet, when — Oh, Victor, what a silly, what a pitiful waste of time and money! So much to do in the world — so much that is thrillingly interesting and useful — and those intelligent young people dawdling there at nonsense a child would weary of! I had to run away. If I had stayed another minute I should have burst out crying — or denouncing them — or pleading with them to behave themselves.''

``What else can they do?'' said Victor. ``They don't know any better. They've never been taught. How's the article?''

And he led the way up to the editorial room and held her to the subject of the article he had asked her to write. At the first opportunity she went back to the subject uppermost in her mind. Said she:

``I guess you're right — as usual. There's no hope for any people of that class. The busy ones are thinking only of making money for themselves, and the idle ones are too enfeebled by luxury to think at all. No, I'm afraid there's no hope for Hull — or for Jane either.''

``I'm not sure about Miss Hastings,'' said Victor.

``You would have been if you'd seen her to-day,'' replied Selma. ``Oh, she was lovely, Victor — really wonderful to look at. But so obviously the idler. And — body and soul she belongs to the upper class. She understands charity, but she doesn't understand justice, and never could understand it. I shall let her alone hereafter.''

``How harsh you women are in your judgments of each other,'' laughed Dorn, busy at his desk.

``We are just,'' replied Selma. ``We are not fooled by each other's pretenses.''

Dorn apparently had not heard. Selma saw that to speak would be to interrupt. She sat at her own table and set to work on the editorial paragraphs. After perhaps an hour she happened to glance at Victor. He was leaning back in his chair, gazing past her out into the open; in his face was an expression she had never seen — a look in the eyes, a relaxing of the muscles round the mouth that made her think of him as a man instead of as a leader. She was saying to herself. ``What a fascinating man he would have been, if he had not been an incarnate cause.''

She felt that he was not thinking of his work. She longed to talk to him, but she did not venture to interrupt. Never in all the years she had known him had he spoken to her — or to any one — a severe or even an impatient word. His tolerance, his good humor were infinite. Yet — she, and all who came into contact with him, were afraid of him. There could come, and on occasion there did come — into those extraordinary blue eyes an expression beside which the fiercest flash of wrath would be easy to face.

When she glanced at him again, his normal expression had returned — the face of the leader who aroused in those he converted into fellow-workers a fanatical devotion that was the more formidable because it was not infatuated. He caught her eye and said:

``Things are in such good shape for us that it frightens me. I spend most of my time in studying the horizon in the hope that I can foresee which way the storm's coming from and what it will be.''

``What a pessimist you are!'' laughed Selma.

``That's why the Workingmen's League has a thick-and-thin membership of thirteen hundred and fifty,'' replied Victor. ``That's why the New Day has twenty-two hundred paying subscribers. That's why we grow faster than the employers can weed our men out and replace them with immigrants and force them to go to other towns for work.''

``Well, anyhow,'' said the girl, ``no matter what happens we can't be weeded out.''

Victor shook his head. ``Our danger period has just begun,'' he replied. ``The bosses realize our power. In the past we've been annoyed a little from time to time. But they thought us hardly worth bothering with. In the future we will have to fight.''

``I hope they will prosecute us,'' said Selma. ``Then, we'll grow the faster.''

``Not if they do it intelligently,'' replied Victor. ``An intelligent persecution — if it's relentless enough — always succeeds. You forget that this isn't a world of moral ideas but of force. . . . I am afraid of Dick Kelly. He is something more than a vulgar boss. He sees. My hope is that he won't be able to make the others see. I saw him a while ago. He was extremely polite to me — more so than he ever has been before. He is up to something. I suspect — — ''

Victor paused, reflecting. ``What?'' asked Selma eagerly.

``I suspect that he thinks he has us.'' He rose, preparing to go out. ``Well — if he has — why, he has. And we shall have to begin all over again.''

``How stupid they are!'' exclaimed the girl. ``To fight us who are simply trying to bring about peaceably and sensibly what's bound to come about anyhow.''

``Yes — the rain is bound to come,'' said Victor. ``And we say, `Here's an umbrella and there's the way to shelter.' And they laugh at our umbrella and, with the first drops plashing on their foolish faces, deny that it's going to rain.''

The Workingmen's League, always first in the field with its ticket, had been unusually early that year. Although it was only the first week in August and the election would not be until the third of October, the League had nominated. It was a ticket made up entirely of skilled workers who had lived all their lives in Remsen City and who had acquired an independence — Victor Dorn was careful not to expose to the falling fire of the opposition any of his men who could be ruined by the loss of a job or could be compelled to leave town in search of work. The League always went early into campaign because it pursued a much slower and less expensive method of electioneering than either of the old parties — or than any of the ``upper class'' reform parties that sprang up from time to time and died away as they accomplished or failed of their purpose — securing recognition for certain personal ambitions not agreeable to the old established bosses. Besides, the League was, like the bosses and their henchmen, in politics every day in every year. The League theory was that politics was as much a part of a citizen's daily routine as his other work or his meals.

It was the night of the League's great ratification meeting. The next day the first campaign number — containing the biographical sketch of Tony Rivers, Kelly's right-hand man . . . would go upon the press, and on the following day it would reach the public.

Market Square in Remsen City was on the edge of the power quarter, was surrounded by cheap hotels, boarding houses and saloons. A few years before the most notable citizens, market basket on arm, could have been seen three mornings in the week, making the rounds of the stalls and stands, both those in the open and those within the Market House. But customs had rapidly changed in Remsen City, and with the exception of a few old fogies only the poorer classes went to market. The masters of houses were becoming gentlemen, and the housewives were elevating into ladies — and it goes without saying that no gentleman and no lady would descend to a menial task even in private, much less in public.

 
 
 

Back to the Index Page