by T. S. Arthur
TO THE READER.
IN this romance of real life, in which the truth is stranger than
the fiction, I have lifted only in part the veil that hides the
victims of intemperance and other terrible vices—after they have
fallen to the lower deeps of degradation to be found in our large
cities, where the vile and degraded herd together more like wild
beasts than men and women—and told the story of sorrow, suffering,
crime and debasement as they really exist in Christian America with
all the earnestness and power that in me lies.
Strange and sad and terrible as are some of the scenes from which I
hare drawn this veil, I have not told the half of what exists. My
book, apart from the thread of fiction that runs through its pages,
is but a series of photographs from real life, and is less a work of
the imagination than a record of facts.
If it stirs the hearts of American readers profoundly, and so
awakens the people to a sense of their duty; if it helps to
inaugurate more earnest and radical modes of reform for a state of
society of which a distinguished author has said, "There is not a
country throughout the earth on which it would not bring a curse;
there is no religion upon the earth that it would not deny; there is
no people upon the earth it would not put to shame;"—then will not
my work be in vain.
Sitting in our comfortable homes with well-fed, well-clothed and
happy-hearted children about us—children who have our tenderest
care, whose cry of pain from a pin-prick or a fall on the carpeted
floor hurts us like a blow—-how few of us know or care anything
about the homes in which some other children dwell, or of the hard
and cruel battle for life they are doomed to fight from the very
To get out from these comfortable homes and from the midst of
tenderly cared-for little ones, and stand face to face with squalor
and hunger, with suffering, debasement and crime, to look upon the
starved faces of children and hear their helpless cries, is what
scarcely one in a thousand will do. It is too much for our
sensibilities. And so we stand aloof, and the sorrow, and suffering,
the debasement, the wrong and the crime, go on, and because we heed
it not we vainly imagine that no responsibility lies at our door; and
yet there is no man or woman who is not, according to the measure of
his or her influence, responsible for the human debasement and
suffering I have portrayed.
The task I set for myself has not been a pleasant one. It has hurt
my sensibilities and sickened my heart many times as I stood face to
face with the sad and awful degradation that exists in certain
regions of our larger cities; and now that my work is done, I take a
deep breath of relief. The result is in your hands, good citizen,
Christian reader, earnest philanthropist! If it stirs your heart in
the reading as it stirred mine in the writing, it will not die
A BABY had come, but he was not welcome. Could anything be
The young mother lay with her white face to the wall, still as
death. A woman opened the chamber door noiselessly and came in, the
faint rustle of her garments disturbing the quiet air.
A quick, eager turning of the head, a look half anxious, half
fearful, and then the almost breathless question,
"Where is my baby?"
"Never mind about the baby," was answered, almost coldly; "he's
well enough. I'm more concerned about you."
"Have you sent word to George?"
"George can't see you. I've said that before."
"Oh, mother! I must see my husband."
"Husband!" The tone of bitter contempt with which the word was
uttered struck the daughter like a blow. She had partly risen in her
excitement, but now fell back with a low moan, shutting her eyes and
turning her face away. Even as she did so, a young man stepped back
from the door of the elegant house in which she lay with a baffled,
disappointed air. He looked pale and wretched.
"Edith!" Two hours afterward the doctor stood over the young
mother, and called her name. She did not move nor reply. He laid his
hand on her cheek, and almost started, then bent down and looked at
her intently for a moment or two. She had fever. A serious expression
came into his face, and there was cause.
The sweet rest and heavenly joy of maternity had been denied to his
young patient. The new-born babe had not been suffered to lie even
for one blissful moment on her bosom. Hard-hearted family pride and
cruel worldliness had robbed her of the delight with which God ever
seeks to dower young motherhood, and now the overtaxed body and brain
had given way.
For many weeks the frail young creature struggled with
delirium—struggled and overcame.
"Where is my baby?"
The first thought of returning consciousness was of her baby.
A woman who sat in a distant part of the chamber started up and
crossed to the bed. She was past middle life, of medium stature, with
small, clearly cut features and cold blue eyes. Her mouth was full,
but very firm. Self-poise was visible even in her surprised movements.
She bent over the bed and looked into Edith's wistful eyes.
"Where is my baby, mother?" Mrs. Dinneford put her fingers lightly
on Edith's lips.
"You must be very quiet," she said, in a low, even voice. "The
doctor forbids all excitement. You have been extremely ill."
"Can't I see my baby, mother? It won't hurt me to see my baby."
"Not now. The doctor—"
Edith half arose in bed, a look of doubt and fear coming into her
"I want my baby, mother," she said, interrupting her.
A hard, resolute expression came into the cold blue eyes of Mrs.
Dinneford. She put her hand firmly against Edith and pressed her back
upon the pillow.
"You have been very ill for nearly two months," she said, softening
her voice. "No one thought you could live. Thank God! the crisis is
over, but not the danger."
"Two months! Oh, mother!"
The slight flush that had come into Edith's wan face faded out, and
the pallor it had hidden for a few moments became deeper. She shut
her eyes and lay very still, but it was plain from the expression of
her face that thought was busy.
"Not two whole months, mother?" she said, at length, in doubtful
tones. "Oh no! it cannot be."
"It is just as I have said, Edith; and now, my dear child, as you
value your life, keep quiet; all excitement is dangerous."
But repression was impossible. To Edith's consciousness there was
no lapse of time. It seemed scarcely an hour since the birth of her
baby and its removal from her sight. The inflowing tide of
mother-love, the pressure and yearning sweetness of which she had
begun to feel when she first called for the baby they had not
permitted to rest, even for an instant, on her bosom, was now
flooding her heart. Two months! If that were so, what of the baby? To
be submissive was impossible.
Starting up half wildly, a vague terror in her face, she cried,
"Oh, mother, bring me my baby. I shall die if you do not!"
"Your baby is in heaven," said Mrs. Dinneford, softening her voice
to a tone of tender regret.
Edith caught her breath, grew very white, and then, with a low,
wailing cry that sent a shiver through Mrs. Dinneford's heart, fell
back, to all appearance dead.
The mother did not call for help, but sat by the bedside of her
daughter, and waited for the issue of this new struggle between life
and death. There was no visible excitement, but her mouth was closely
set and her cold blue eyes fixed in a kind of vacant stare.
Edith was Mrs. Dinneford's only child, and she had loved her with
the strong, selfish love of a worldly and ambitious woman. In her own
marriage she had not consulted her heart. Mr. Dinneford's social
position and wealth were to her far more than his personal
endowments. She would have rejected him without a quicker pulse-beat
if these had been all he had to offer. He was disappointed, she was
not. Strong, self-asserting, yet politic, Mrs Dinneford managed her
good husband about as she pleased in all external matters, and left
him to the free enjoyment of his personal tastes, preferences and
friendships. The house they lived in, the furniture it contained, the
style and equipage assumed by the family, were all of her choice, Mr.
Dinneford giving merely a half-constrained or half-indifferent
consent. He had learned, by painful and sometimes. humiliating
experience, that any contest with Mrs. Helen Dinneford upon which he
might enter was sure to end in his defeat.
He was a man of fine moral and intellectual qualities. His wealth
gave him leisure, and his tastes, feelings and habits of thought drew
him into the society of some of the best men in the city where he
lived—best in the true meaning of that word. In all enlightened
social reform movements you would be sure of finding Mr. Howard
Dinneford. He was an active and efficient member in many boards of
public charity, and highly esteemed in them all for his enlightened
philanthropy and sound judgment. Everywhere but at home he was strong
and influential; there he was weak, submissive and of little account.
He had long ago accepted the situation, making a virtue of necessity.
A different man—one of stronger will and a more imperious
spirit—would have held his own, even though it wrought bitterness and
sorrow. But Mr. Dinneford's aversion to strife, and gentleness toward
every one, held him away from conflict, and so his home was at least
Mrs. Dinneford had her own way, and so long as her husband made no
strong opposition to that way all was peaceful.
For Edith, their only child, who was more like her father than her
mother, Mr. Dinneford had the tenderest regard. The well-springs of
love, choked up so soon after his marriage, were opened freely toward
his daughter, and he lived in her a new, sweet and satisfying life.
The mother was often jealous of her husband's demonstrative tenderness
for Edith. A yearning instinct of womanhood, long repressed by
worldliness and a mean social ambition, made her crave at times the
love she had cast away, and then her cup of life was very bitter. But
fear of Mr. Dinneford's influence over Edith was stronger than any
jealousy of his love. She had high views for her daughter. In her own
marriage she had set aside all considerations but those of social
rank. She had made it a stepping-stone to a higher place in society
than the one to which she was born. Still, above them stood many
millionnaire families, living in palace-homes, and through her
daughter she meant to rise into one of them. It mattered not for the
personal quality of the scion of the house; he might be as coarse and
common as his father before him, or weak, mean, selfish, and debased
by sensual indulgence. This was of little account. To lift Edith to
the higher social level was the all in all of Mrs. Dinneford's
But Mr. Dinneford taught Edith a nobler life-lesson than this, gave
her better views of wedlock, pictured for her loving heart the bliss
of a true marriage, sighing often as he did so, but unconsciously, at
the lost fruition of his own sweet hopes. He was careful to do this
only when alone with Edith, guarding his speech when Mrs. Dinneford
was present. He had faith in true principles, and with these he sought
to guard her life. He knew that she would be pushed forward into
society, and knew but too well that one so pure and lovely in mind as
well as person would become a centre of attraction, and that he,
standing on the outside as it were, would have no power to save her
from the saddest of all fates if she were passive and her mother
resolute. Her safety must lie in herself.
Edith was brought out early. Mrs. Dinneford could not wait. At
seventeen she was thrust into society, set up for sale to the highest
bidder, her condition nearer that of a Circassian than a Christian
maiden, with her mother as slave-dealer.
So it was and so, it is. You may see the thing every day. But it
did not come out according to Mrs. Dinneford's programme. There was a
highest bidder; but when he came for his slave, she was not to be
Well, the story is trite and brief—the old sad story. Among her
suitors was a young man named Granger, and to him Edith gave her
heart. But the mother rejected him with anger and scorn. He was not
rich, though belonging to a family of high character, and so fell far
below her requirements. Under a pressure that almost drove the girl to
despair, she gave her consent to a marriage that looked more terrible
than death. A month before the time fixed for, its consummation, she
barred the contract by a secret union with Granger.
Edith knew her mother's character too well to hope for any
reconciliation, so far as Mr. Granger was concerned. Coming in as he
had done between her and the consummation of her highest ambition,
she could never feel toward him anything but the most bitter hatred;
and so, after remaining at home for about a week after her secret
marriage, she wrote this brief letter to her mother and went away:
"My DEAR MOTHER: I do not love Spencer Wray, and would rather die
than marry him, and so I have made the marriage to which my heart has
never consented, an impossibility. You have left me no other
alternative but this. I am the wife of George Granger, and go to cast
my lot with his.
"Your loving daughter,
To her father she wrote:
"My DEAR, DEAR FATHER: If I bring sorrow to your good and loving
heart by what I have done, I know that it will be tempered with joy
at my escape from a union with one from whom my soul has ever turned
with irrepressible dislike. Oh, my father, you can understand, if
mother cannot, into what a desperate strait I have been brought. I am
a deer hunted to the edge of a dizzy chasm, and I leap for life over
the dark abyss, praying for strength to reach the farther edge. If I
fail in the wild effort, I can only meet destruction; and I would
rather be bruised to death on the jagged rocks than trust myself to
the hounds and hunters. I write passionately—you will hardly
recognize your quiet child; but the repressed instincts of my nature
are strong, and peril and despair have broken their bonds. I did not
consult you about the step I have taken, because I dared not trust you
with my secret. You would have tried to hold me back from the perilous
leap, fondly hoping for some other way of escape. I had resolved on
putting an impassable gulf between me and danger, if I died in the
attempt. I have taken the leap, and may God care for me!
"I have laid up in my heart of hearts, dearest of fathers, the
precious life-truths that so often fell from your lips. Not a word
that you ever said about the sacredness of marriage has been
forgotten. I believe with you that it is a little less than crime to
marry when no love exists—that she who does so, sells her heart's
birthright for some mess of pottage, sinks down from the pure level
of noble womanhood, and traffics away her person, is henceforth
meaner in quality if not really vile.
"And so, my father, to save myself from such a depth of degradation
and misery, I take my destiny into my own hands. I have grown very
strong in my convictions and purposes in the last four weeks. My
sight has become suddenly clear. I am older by many years.
"As for George Granger, all I can now say is that I love him, and
believe him to be worthy of my love. I am willing to trust him, and
am ready to share his lot, however humble.
"Still hold me in your heart, my precious father, as I hold you in
Mr. Dinneford read this letter twice. It took him some time, his
eyes were so full of tears. In view of her approaching marriage with
Spencer Wray, his heart had felt very heavy. It was something lighter
now. Young Granger was not the man he would have chosen for Edith, but
he liked him far better than he did the other, and felt that his child
was safe now.
He went to his wife's room, and found her with Edith's letter
crushed in her hand. She was sitting motionless, her face pale and
rigid, her eyes fixed and stony and her lips tight against her teeth.
She did not seem to notice his presence until he put his hand upon
her, which he did without speaking. At this she started up and looked
at him with a kind of fierce intentness.
"Are you a party to this frightful things?" she demanded.
Mr. Dinneford weakly handed her the letter he had received from
Edith. She read it through in half the time it had taken his
tear-dimmed eyes to make out the touching sentences. After she had
done so, she stood for a few moments as if surprised or baffled. Then
she sat down, dropping her head, and remained for a long time without
"The bitter fruit, Mr. Dinneford," she said, at last, in a voice so
strange and hard that it seemed to his ears as if another had spoken.
All passion had died out of it.
He waited, but she added nothing more. After a long silence she
waved her hand slightly, and without looking at her husband, said,
"I would rather be alone."
Mr. Dinneford took Edith's letter from the floor, where it had
dropped from his wife's hand, and withdrew from her presence. She
arose quickly as he did so, crossed the room and silently turned the
key, locking herself in. Then her manner changed; she moved about the
room in a half-aimless, half-conscious way, as though some purpose was
beginning to take shape in her mind. Her motions had an easy, cat-like
grace, in contrast with their immobility a little while before.
Gradually her step became quicker, while ripples of feeling began to
pass over her face, which was fast losing its pallor. Gleams of light
began shooting from her eyes, that were so dull and stony when her
husband found her with Edith's letter crushed in her grasp. Her hands
opened and shut upon themselves nervously. This went on, the
excitement of her forming purpose, whatever it was, steadily
increasing, until she swept about the room like a fury, talking to
herself and gesticulating as one half insane from the impelling force
of an evil passion.
"Baffled, but not defeated." The excitement had died out. She spoke
these words aloud, and with a bitter satisfaction in her voice, then
sat down, resting her face in her hands, and remaining for a long
time in deep thought.
When she met her husband, an hour afterward, there was a veil over
her face, and he tried in vain to look beneath it. She was greatly
changed; her countenance had a new expression—something he had never
seen there before. For years she had been growing away from him; now
she seemed like one removed to a great distance—to have become almost
stranger. He felt half afraid of her. She did not speak of Edith, but
remained cold, silent and absorbed.
Mrs. Dinneford gave no sign of what was in her heart for many
weeks. The feeling of distance and strangeness perceived by her
husband went on increasing, until a vague feeling of mystery and fear
began to oppress him. Several times he had spoken of Edith, but his
wife made no response, nor could he read in her veiled face the secret
purposes she was hiding from him.
No wonder that Mr. Dinneford was greatly surprised and overjoyed,
on coming home one day, to meet his daughter, to feel her arms about
his neck, and to hold her tearful face on his bosom.
"And I'm not going away again, father dear," she said as she kissed
him fondly. "Mother has sent for me, and George is to come. Oh, we
shall be so happy, so happy!"
And father and daughter cried together, like two happy children, in
very excess of gladness. They had met alone, but Mrs. Dinneford came
in, her presence falling on them like a cold shadow.
"Two great babies," she said, a covert sneer in her chilling voice.
The joy went slowly out of their faces, though not out of their
hearts. There it nestled, and warmed the renewing blood. But a vague,
questioning fear began to creep in, a sense of insecurity, a dread of
hidden danger. The daughter did not fully trust her mother, nor the
husband his wife.
THE reception of young Granger was as cordial as Mrs.
Dinneford chose to make it. She wanted to get near enough to study his
character thoroughly, to discover its weaknesses and defects, not its
better qualities, so that she might do for him the evil work that was
in her heart. She hated him with a bitter hatred, and there is nothing
so subtle and tireless and unrelenting as the hatred of a bad woman.
She found him weak and unwary. His kindly nature, his high sense of
honor, his upright purpose, his loving devotion to Edith, were
nothing in her eyes. She spurned them in her thoughts, she trampled
them under her feet with scorn. But she studied his defects, and soon
knew every weak point in his character. She drew him out to speak of
himself, of his aims and prospects, of his friends and associates,
until she understood him altogether. Then she laid her plans for his
Granger was holding a clerkship at the time of his marriage, but
was anxious to get a start for himself. He had some acquaintance with
a man named Lloyd Freeling, and often spoke of him in connection with
business. Freeling had a store on one of the best streets, and, as
represented by himself, a fine run of trade, but wanted more capital.
One day he said to Granger,
"If I could find the right man with ten thousand dollars, I would
take him in. We could double this business in a year."
Granger repeated the remark at home, Mrs. Dinneford listened, laid
it up in her thought, and on the next day called at the store of Mr.
Freeling to see what manner of man he was.
Her first impression was favorable—she liked him. On a second
visit she likes him better. She was not aware that Freeling knew her;
in this he had something of the advantage. A third time she dropped
in, asking to see certain goods and buying a small bill, as before.
This time she drew Mr. Freeling into conversation about business, and
put some questions the meaning of which he understood quite as well as
A woman like Mrs. Dinneford can read character almost as easily as
she can read a printed page, particularly a weak or bad character.
She knew perfectly, before the close of this brief interview, that
Freeling was a man without principle, false and unscrupulous, and
that if Granger were associated with him in business, he could, if he
chose, not only involve him in transactions of a dishonest nature, but
throw upon him the odium and the consequences.
"Do you think," she said to Granger, not long afterward, "that your
friend, Mr. Freeling, would like to have you for a partner in
The question surprised and excited him.
"I know it," he returned; "he has said so more than once."
"How much capital would he require?"
"Ten thousand dollars."
"A large sum to risk."
"Yes; but I do not think there will be any risk. The business is
"What do you know about Mr. Freeling?"
"Not a great deal; but if I am any judge of character, he is fair
Mrs. Dinneford turned her head that Granger might not see the
expression of her face.
"You had better talk with Mr. Dinneford," she said.
But Mr. Dinneford did not favor it. He had seen too many young men
go into business and fail.
So the matter was dropped for a little while. But Mrs. Dinneford
had set her heart on the young man's destruction, and no better way of
accomplishing the work presented itself than this. He must be
involved in some way to hurt his good name, to blast his reputation
and drive him to ruin. Weak, trusting and pliable, a specious villain
in whom he had confidence might easily get him involved in
transactions that were criminal under the law. She would be willing
to sacrifice twice ten thousand dollars to accomplish this result.
Neither Mr. Dinneford nor Edith favored the business connection
with Freeling, and said all they could against it. In weak natures we
often find great pertinacity. Granger had this quality. He had set
his mind on the copartnership, and saw in it a high road to fortune,
and no argument of Mr. Dinneford, nor opposition of Edith, had power
to change his views, or to hold him back from the arrangement favored
by Mrs. Dinneford, and made possible by the capital she almost
compelled her husband to supply.
In due time the change from clerk to merchant was made, and the new
connection announced, under the title of "FREELING GRANGER."
Clear seeing as evil may be in its schemes for hurting others, it
is always blind to the consequent exactions upon itself; it strikes
fiercely and desperately, not calculating the force of a rebound. So
eager was Mrs. Dinneford to compass the ruin of Granger that she
stepped beyond the limit of common prudence, and sought private
interviews with Freeling, both before and after the completion of the
partnership arrangement. These took place in the parlor of a
fashionable hotel, where the gentleman and lady seemed to meet
accidentally, and without attracting attention.
Mrs. Dinneford was very confidential in these interviews not
concealing her aversion to Granger. He had come into the family, she
said, as an unwelcome intruder; but now that he was there, they had
to make the best of him. Not in spoken words did Mrs. Dinneford
convey to Freeling the bitter hatred that was in her heart, nor in
spoken words let him know that she desired the young man's utter
ruin, but he understood it all before the close of their first
private interview. Freeling was exceedingly deferential in the
beginning and guarded in his speech. He knew by the quick intuitions
of his nature that Mrs. Dinneford cherished an evil purpose, and had
chosen him as the agent for its accomplishment. She was rich, and
occupied a high social position, and his ready conclusion was that,
be the service what it might, he could make it pay. To get such a
woman in his power was worth an effort.
One morning—it was a few months after the date of the
copartnership—Mrs. Dinneford received a note from Freeling. It said,
"At the usual place, 12 M. to-day. Important." There was no
The sharp knitting of her brows and the nervous crumpling of the
note in her hand showed that she was not pleased at the summons. She
had come already to know her partner in evil too well. At 12 M. she
was in the hotel parlor. Freeling was already there. They met in
external cordiality, but it was very evident from the manner of Mrs.
Dinneford, that she felt herself in the man's power, and had learned
to be afraid of him.
"It will be impossible to get through to-morrow," he said, in a
kind of imperative voice, that was half a threat, "unless we have two
"I cannot ask Mr. Dinneford for anything more," Mrs. Dinneford
replied; "we have already furnished ten thousand dollars beyond the
"But it is all safe enough—that is, if we do not break down just
here for lack of so small a sum."
Mrs. Dinneford gave a start.
"Break down!" She repeated the words in a husky, voice, with a
paling face. "What do you mean?"
"Only that in consequence of having in store a large stock of
unsalable goods bought by your indiscreet son-in-law, who knows no
more about business than a child, we are in a temporary strait."
"Why did you trust him to buy?" asked Mrs. Dinneford.
"I didn't trust him. He bought without consulting me," was replied,
"Will two thousand be the end of this thing?"
"I think so."
"You only think so?"
"I am sure of it."
"Very well; I will see what can be done. But all this must have an
end, Mr. Freeling. We cannot supply any more money. You must look
elsewhere if you have further need. Mr. Dinneford is getting very
much annoyed and worried. You surely have other resources."
"I have drawn to the utmost on all my resources," said the man,
Mrs. Dinneford remained silent for a good while, her eyes upon the
floor. Freeling watched her face intently, trying to read what was in
her thoughts. At last she said, in a suggestive tone,
"There are many ways of getting money known to business-men—a
little risky some of them, perhaps, but desperate cases require
desperate expedients. You understand me?"
Freeling took a little time to consider before replying.
"Yes," he said, at length, speaking slowly, as one careful of his
words. "But all expedients are 'risky,' as you say—some of them very
risky. It takes a long, cool head to manage them safely."
"I don't know a longer or cooler head than yours," returned Mrs.
Dinneford, a faint smile playing about her lips.
"Thank you for the compliment," said Freeling, his lips reflecting
the smile on hers.
"You must think of some expedient." Mrs. Dinneford's manner grew
impressive. She spoke with emphasis and deliberation. "Beyond the sum
of two thousand dollars, which I will get for you by to-morrow, I
shall not advance a single penny. You may set that down as sure. If
you are not sharp enough and strong enough, with the advantage you
possess, to hold your own, then you must go under; as for me, I have
done all that I can or will."
Freeling saw that she was wholly in earnest, and understood what
she meant by "desperate expedients." Granger was to be ruined, and she
was growing impatient of delay. He had no desire to hurt the young
man—he rather liked him. Up to this time he had been content with
what he could draw out of Mrs. Dinneford. There was no risk in this
sort of business. Moreover, he enjoyed his interviews and confidences
with the elegant lady, and of late the power he seemed to be gaining
over her; this power he regarded as capital laid up for another use,
and at another time.
But it was plain that he had reached the end of his present
financial policy, and must decide whether to adopt the new one
suggested by Mrs. Dinneford or make a failure, and so get rid of his
partner. The question he had to settle with himself was whether he
could make more by a failure than by using Granger a while longer,
and then throwing him overboard, disgraced and ruined. Selfish and
unscrupulous as he was, Freeling hesitated to do this. And besides,
the "desperate expedients" he would have to adopt in the new line of
policy were fraught with peril to all who took part in them. He might
fall into the snare set for another—might involve himself so deeply
as not to find a way of escape.
"To-morrow we will talk this matter over," he said in reply to Mrs.
Dinneford's last remark; "in the mean time I will examine the ground
thoroughly and see how it looks."
"Don't hesitate to make any use you can of Granger," suggested the
lady. "He has done his part toward getting things tangled, and must
help to untangle them."
"All right, ma'am."
And they separated, Mrs. Dinneford reaching the street by one door
of the hotel, and Freeling by another.
On the following day they met again, Mrs. Dinneford bringing the
two thousand dollars.
"And now what next?" she asked, after handing over the money and
taking the receipt of "Freeling Granger." Her eyes had a hard
glitter, and her face was almost stern in its expression. "How are
you going to raise money and keep afloat?"
"Only some desperate expedient is left me now," answered Freeling,
though not in the tone of a man who felt himself at bay. It was said
with a wicked kind of levity.
Mrs. Dinneford looked at him keenly. She was beginning to mistrust
the man. They gazed into each other's faces in silence for some
moments, each trying to read what was in the other's thought. At
length Freeling said,
"There is one thing more that you will have to do, Mrs. Dinneford."
"What?" she asked.
"Get your husband to draw two or three notes in Mr. Granger's
favor. They should not be for less than five hundred or a thousand
dollars each. The dates must be short—not over thirty or sixty days."
"It can't be done," was the emphatic answer.
"It must be done," replied Freeling; "they need not be for the
business. You can manage the matter if you will; your daughter wants
an India shawl, or a set of diamonds, or a new carriage—anything you
choose. Mr. Dinneford hasn't the ready cash, but we can throw his
notes into bank and get the money; don't you see?"
But Mrs. Dinneford didn't see.
"I don't mean," said Freeling, "that we are to use the money. Let
the shawl, or the diamond, or the what-not, be bought and paid for.
We get the discounts for your use, not ours."
"All very well," answered Mrs. Dinneford; "but how is that going to
"Leave that to me. You get the notes," said Freeling.
"Never walk blindfold, Mr. Freeling," replied the lady, drawing
herself up, with a dignified air. "We ought to understand each other
by this time. I must see beyond the mere use of these notes."
Freeling shut his mouth tightly and knit his heavy brows. Mrs.
Dinneford watched him, closely.
"It's a desperate expedient," he said, at length.
"All well as far as that is concerned; but if I am to have a hand
in it, I must know all about it," she replied, firmly. "As I said just
now, I never walk blindfold."
Freeling leaned close to Mrs. Dinneford, and uttered a few
sentences in a low tone, speaking rapidly. The color went and came in
her face, but she sat motionless, and so continued for some time after
he had ceased speaking.
"You will get the notes?" Freeling put the question as one who has
little doubt of the answer.
"I will get them," replied Mrs. Dinneford.
"It will take time."
"We cannot wait long. If the thing is done at all, it must be done
quickly. 'Strike while the iron is hot' is the best of all maxims."
"There shall be no needless delay on my part. You may trust me for
that," was answered.
Within a week Mrs. Dinneford brought two notes, drawn by her
husband in favor of George Granger—one for five hundred and the other
for one thousand dollars. The time was short—thirty and sixty days.
On this occasion she came to the store and asked for her son-in-law.
The meeting between her and Freeling was reserved and formal. She
expressed regret for the trouble she was giving the firm in procuring
a discount for her use, and said that if she could reciprocate the
favor in any way she would be happy to do so.
"The notes are drawn to your order," remarked Freeling as soon as
the lady had retired. Granger endorsed them, and was about handing
them to his partner, when the latter said:
"Put our name on them while you are about it." And the young man
wrote also the endorsement of the firm.
After this, Mr. Freeling put the bank business into Granger's
hands. Nearly all checks were drawn and all business paper endorsed by
the younger partner, who became the financier of the concern, and had
the management of all negotiations for money in and out of bank.
One morning, shortly after the first of Mr. Dinneford's notes was
paid, Granger saw his mother-in-law come into the store. Freeling was
at the counter. They talked together for some time, and then Mrs.
Dinneford went out.
On the next day Granger saw Mrs. Dinneford in the store again.
After she had gone away, Freeling came back, and laying a note-of-hand
on his partner's desk, said, in a pleased, confidential way.
"Look at that, my friend."
Granger read the face of the note with a start of surprise. It was
drawn to his order, for three thousand dollars, and bore the
signature of Howard Dinneford.
"A thing that is worth having is worth asking for," said Freeling.
"We obliged your mother-in-law, and now she has returned the favor.
It didn't come very easily, she said, and your father-in-law isn't
feeling rather comfortable about it; so she doesn't care about your
speaking of it at home."
Granger was confounded.
"I can't understand it," he said.
"You can understand that we have the note, and that it has come in
the nick of time," returned Freeling.
"Yes, I can see all that."
"Well, don't look a gift-horse in the mouth, but spring into the
saddle and take a ride. Your mother-in-law is a trump. If she will,
she will, you may depend on't."
Freeling was unusually excited. Granger looked the note over and
over in a way that seemed to annoy his partner, who said, presently,
with a shade of ill-nature in his voice,
"What's the matter? Isn't the signature all right?"
"That's right enough," returned the young man, "after looking at it
closely. "But I can't understand it."
"You will when you see the proceeds passed to our accounted in
Granger looked up at his partner quickly, the laugh had so strange
a sound, but saw nothing new in his face.
In about a month Freeling had in his possession another note,
signed by Mr. Dinneford and drawn to the order of George Granger. This
one was for five thousand dollars. He handed it to his partner soon
after the latter had observed Mrs. Dinneford in the store.
A little over six weeks from this time Mrs. Dinneford was in the
store again. After she had gone away, Freeling handed Granger three
more notes drawn by Mr. Dinneford to his order, amounting in all to
fifteen thousand dollars. They were at short dates.
Granger took these notes without any remark, and was about putting
them in his desk, when Freeling said,
"I think you had better offer one in the People's Bank and another
in the Fourth National. They discount to-morrow."
"Our line is full in both of these banks," replied Granger.
"That may or may not be. Paper like this is not often thrown out.
Call on the president of the Fourth National and the cashier of the
People's Bank. Say that we particularly want the money, and would
like them to see that the notes go through. Star Giltedge can easily
place the other."
Granger's manner did not altogether please his partner. The notes
lay before him on his desk, and he looked at them in a kind of dazed
"What's the matter?" asked Freeling, rather sharply.
"Nothing," was the quiet answer.
"You saw Mrs. Dinneford in the store just now. I told her last week
that I should claim another favor at her hands. She tried to beg off,
but I pushed the matter hard. It must end here, she says. Mr.
Dinneford won't go any farther."
"I should think not," replied Granger. "I wouldn't if I were he.
The wonder to me is that he has gone so far. What about the renewal of
"Oh, that is all arranged," returned Freeling, a little hurriedly.
Granger looked at him for some moments. He was not satisfied.
"See that they go in bank," said Freeling, in a positive way.
Granger took up his pen in an abstracted manner and endorsed the
notes, after which he laid them in his bank-book. An important
customer coming in at the moment, Freeling went forward to see him.
After Granger was left alone, he took the notes from his bank-book
and examined them with great care. Suspicion was aroused. He felt
sure that something was wrong. A good many things in Freeling's
conduct of late had seemed strange. After thinking for a while, he
determined to take the notes at once to Mr. Dinneford and ask him if
all was right. As soon as his mind had reached this conclusion he
hurried through the work he had on hand, and then putting his
bank-book in his pocket, left the store.
On that very morning Mr. Dinneford received notice that he had a
note for three thousand dollars falling due at one of the banks. He
went immediately and asked to see the note. When it was shown to him,
he was observed to become very pale, but he left the desk of the
note-clerk without any remark, and returned home. He met his wife at
the door, just coming in.
"What's the matter?" she asked, seeing how pale he was. "Not sick,
"Worse than sick," he replied as they passed into the house
together. "George has been forging my name."
"Impossible!" exclaimed Mrs. Dinneford.
"I wish it were," replied Mr. Dinneford, sadly; "but, alas! it is
too true. I have just returned from the Fourth National Bank. They
have a note for three thousand dollars, bearing my signature. It is
drawn to the order of George Granger, and endorsed by him. The note
is a forgery."
Mrs. Dinneford became almost wild with excitement. Her fair face
grew purple. Her eyes shone with a fierce light.
"Have you had him arrested?" she asked.
"Oh no, no, no!" Mr. Dinneford answered. "For poor Edith's sake, if
for nothing else, this dreadful business must be kept secret. I will
take up the note when due, and the public need be none the wiser."
"If," said Mrs. Dinneford, "he has forged your name once, he has,
in all probability, done it again and again. No, no; the thing can't
be hushed up, and it must not be. Is he less a thief and a robber
because he is our son-in-law? My daughter the wife of a forger! Great
heavens! has it come to this Mr. Dinneford?" she added, after a pause,
and with intense bitterness and rejection in her voice. "The die is
cast! Never again, if I can prevent it, shall that scoundrel cross our
threshold. Let the law have its course. It is a crime to conceal
"It will kill our poor child!" answered Mr. Dinneford in a broken
"Death is better than the degradation of living with a criminal,"
replied his wife. "I say it solemnly, and I mean it; the die is cast!
Come what will, George Granger stands now and for ever on the outside!
Go at once and give information to the bank officers. If you do not, I
With a heavy heart Mr. Dinneford returned to the bank and informed
the president that the note in question was a forgery. He had been
gone from home a little over half an hour, when Granger, who had come
to ask him about the three notes given him that morning by Freeling,
put his key in the door, and found, a little to his surprise, that the
latch was down. He rang the bell, and in a few moments the servant
appeared. Granger was about passing in, when the man said,
respectfully but firmly, as he held the door partly closed,
"My orders are not to let you come in."
"Who gave you those orders?" demanded Granger, turning white.
"I wish to see Mr. Dinneford, and I must see him immediately."
"Mr. Dinneford is not at home," answered the servant.
"Shut that door instantly!"
It was the voice of Mrs. Dinneford, speaking from within. Granger
heard it; in the next moment the door was shut in his face.
The young man hardly knew how he got back to the store. On his
arrival he found himself under arrest, charged with forgery, and with
fresh evidence of the crime on his person in the three notes received
that morning from his partner, who denied all knowledge of their
existence, and appeared as a witness against him at the hearing before
a magistrate. Granger was held to bail to answer the charge at the
next term of court.
It would have been impossible to keep all this from Edith, even if
there had been a purpose to do so. Mrs. Dinneford chose to break the
dreadful news at her own time and in her own way. The shock was
fearful. On the night that followed her baby was born.
"IT is a splendid boy," said the nurse as she came in with
the new-born baby in her arms, "and perfect as a bit of sculpture.
Just look at that hand."
"Faugh!" ejaculated Mrs. Dinneford, to whom this was addressed. Her
countenance expressed disgust. She turned her head away. "Hide the
thing from my sight!" she added, angrily. "Cover it up! smother it if
"You are still determined?" said the nurse.
"Determined, Mrs. Bray; I am not the woman to look back when I have
once resolved. You know me." Mrs. Dinneford said this passionately.
The two women were silent for a little while. Mrs. Bray, the nurse,
kept her face partly turned from Mrs. Dinneford. She was a short,
dry, wiry little woman, with French features, a sallow complexion and
very black eyes.
The doctor looked in. Mrs. Dinneford went quickly to the door, and
putting her hand on his arm, pressed him back, going out into the
entry with him and closing the door behind them. They talked for a
short time very earnestly.
"The whole thing is wrong," said the doctor as he turned to go,
"and I will not be answerable for the consequences."
"No one will require them at your hand, Doctor Radcliffe," replied
Mrs. Dinneford. "Do the best you can for Edith. As for the rest, know
nothing, say nothing. You understand."
Doctor Burt Radcliffe had a large practice among rich and
fashionable people. He had learned to be very considerate of their
weaknesses, peculiarities and moral obliquities. His business was to
doctor them when sick, to humor them when they only thought
themselves sick, and to get the largest possible fees for his,
services. A great deal came under his observation that he did not
care to see, and of which he saw as little as possible. From policy
he had learned to be reticent. He held family secrets enough to make,
in the hands of a skillful writer, more than a dozen romances of the
saddest and most exciting character.
Mrs. Dinneford knew him thoroughly, and just how far to trust him.
"Know nothing, say nothing" was a good maxim in the case, and so she
divulged only the fact that the baby was to be cast adrift. His weak
remonstrance might as well not have been spoken, and he knew it.
While this brief interview was in progress, Nurse Bray sat with the
baby on her lap. She had taken the soft little hands into her own;
and evil and cruel though she was, an impulse of tenderness flowed
into her heart from the angels who were present with the innocent
child. It grew lovely in her eyes. Its helplessness stirred in her a
latent instinct of protection. "No no, it must not be," she was
saying to herself, when the door opened and Mrs. Dinneford came back.
Mrs. Bray did not lift her head, but sat looking down at the baby
and toying with its hands.
"Pshaw!" ejaculated Mrs. Dinneford, in angry disgust, as she
noticed this manifestation of interest. "Bundle the thing up and throw
into that basket. Is the woman down stairs?"
"Yes," replied Mrs. Bray as she slowly drew a light blanket over
"Very well. Put it in the basket, and let her take it away."
"She is not a good woman," said the nurse, whose heart was failing
her at the last moment.
"She may be the devil for all I care," returned Mrs. Dinneford.
Mrs. Bray did as she was ordered, but with an evident reluctance
that irritated Mrs. Dinneford.
"Go now and bring up the woman," she said, sharply.
The woman was brought. She was past the prime of life, and had an
evil face. You read in it the record of bad passions indulged and the
signs of a cruel nature. She was poorly clad, and her garments
"You will take this child?" said Mrs. Dinneford abruptly, as the
woman came into her presence.
"I have agreed to do so," she replied, looking toward Mrs. Bray.
"She is to have fifty dollars," said the nurse.
"And that is to be the last of it!" Mrs. Dinneford's face was pale,
and she spoke in a hard, husky voice.
Opening her purse, she took from it a small roll of bills, and as
she held out the money said, slowly and with a hard emphasis,
"You understand the terms. I do not know you—not even your name. I
don't wish to know you. For this consideration you take the child
away. That is the end of it between you and me. The child is your own
as much as if he were born to you, and you can do with him as you
please. And now go." Mrs. Dinneford waved her hand.
"His name?" queried the woman.
"He has no name!" Mrs. Dinneford stamped her foot in angry
The woman stooped down, and taking up the basket, tucked the
covering that had been laid over the baby close about its head, so
that no one could see what she carried, and went off without uttering
It was some moments before either Mrs. Dinneford or the nurse
spoke. Mrs. Bray was first to break silence.
"All this means a great deal more than you have counted on," she
said, in a voice that betrayed some little feeling. "To throw a
tender baby out like that is a hard thing. I am afraid—"
"There, there! no more of that," returned Mrs. Dinneford,
impatiently. "It's ugly work, I own, but it had to be done—like
cutting off a diseased limb. He will die, of course, and the sooner
it is over, the better for him and every one else."
"He will have a hard struggle for life, poor little thing!" said
the nurse. "I would rather see him dead."
Mrs. Dinneford, now that this wicked and cruel deed was done, felt
ill at ease. She pushed the subject away, and tried to bury it out of
sight as we bury the dead, but did not find the task an easy one.
What followed the birth and removal of Edith's baby up to the time
of her return to reason after long struggle for life, has already
been told. Her demand to have her baby—"Oh, mother, bring me my
baby! I shall die if you do not!" and the answer, "Your baby is in
heaven!"—sent the feeble life-currents back again upon her heart.
There was another long period of oblivion, out of which she came very
slowly, her mind almost as much a blank as the mind of a child.
She had to learn again the names of things, and to be taught their
use. It was touching to see the untiring devotion of her father, and
the pleasure he took in every new evidence of mental growth. He went
over the alphabet with her, letter by letter, many times each day,
encouraging her and holding her thought down to the unintelligible
signs with a patient tenderness sad yet beautiful to see; and when
she began to combine letters into words, and at last to put words
together, his delight was unbounded.
Very slowly went on the new process of mental growth, and it was
months before thought began to reach out beyond the little world that
lay just around her.
Meanwhile, Edith's husband had been brought to trial for forgery,
convicted and sentenced to the State's prison for a term of years.
His partner came forward as the chief witness, swearing that he had
believed the notes genuine, the firm having several times had the use
of Mr. Dinneford's paper, drawn to the order of Granger.
Ere the day of trial came the poor young man was nearly
broken-hearted. Public disgrace like this, added to the terrible
private wrongs he was suffering, was more than he had the moral
strength to bear. Utterly repudiated by his wife's family, and not
even permitted to see Edith, he only knew that she was very ill. Of
the birth of his baby he had but a vague intimation. A rumor was
abroad that it had died, but he could learn nothing certain. In his
distress and uncertainty he called on Dr. Radcliffe, who replied to
his questions with a cold evasion. "It was put out to nurse," said
the doctor, "and that is all I know about it." Beyond this he would
Granger was not taken to the State's prison after his sentence, but
to an insane asylum. Reason gave way under the terrible ordeal
through which he had been made to pass.
"Mother," said Edith, one day, in a tone that caused Mrs.
Dinneford's heart to leap. She was reading a child's simple
story-book, and looked up as she spoke. Her eyes were wide open and
full of questions.
"What, my dear?" asked Mrs. Dinneford, repressing her feelings and
trying to keep her voice calm.
"There's something I can't understand, mother." She looked down at
herself, then about the room. Her manner was becoming nervous.
"What can't you understand?"
Edith shut her hands over her eyes and remained very still. When
she removed them, and her mother looked into her face the childlike
sweetness and content were all gone, and a conscious woman was before
her. The transformation was as sudden as it was marvelous.
Both remained silent for the space of nearly a minute. Mrs.
Dinneford knew not what to say, and waited for some sign from her
"Where is my baby, mother?" Edith said this in a low, tremulous
whisper, leaning forward as she spoke, repressed and eager.
"Have you forgotten?" asked Mrs. Dinneford, with regained
"You were very ill after your baby was born; no one thought you
could live; you were ill for a long time. And the baby—"
"What of the baby, mother?" asked Edith, beginning to tremble
violently. Her mother, perceiving her agitation, held back the word
that was on her lips.
"What of the baby, mother?" Edith repeated the question.
"It died," said Mrs. Dinneford, turning partly away. She could not
look at her child and utter this cruel falsehood.
"Dead! Oh, mother, don't say that! The baby can't be dead!"
A swift flash of suspicion came into her eyes.
"I have said it, my child," was the almost stern response of Mrs.
Dinneford. "The baby is dead."
A weight seemed to fall on Edith. She bent forward, crouching down
until her elbows rested on her knees and her hands supported her
head. Thus she sat, rocking her body with a slight motion. Mrs.
Dinneford watched her without speaking.
"And what of George?" asked Edith, checking her nervous movement at
Her mother did not reply. Edith waited a moment, and then lifted
"What of George?" she demanded.
"My poor child!" exclaimed Mrs. Dinneford, with a gush of genuine
pity, putting her arms about Edith and drawing her head against her
bosom. "It is more than you have strength to bear."
"You must tell me," the daughter said, disengaging herself. "I have
asked for my husband."
"Hush! You must not utter that word again;" and Mrs. Dinneford put
her fingers on Edith's lips. "The wretched man you once called by
that name is a disgraced criminal. It is better that you know the
When Mr. Dinneford came home, instead of the quiet, happy child he
had left in the morning, he found a sad, almost broken-hearted woman,
refusing to be comforted. The wonder was that under the shock of this
terrible awakening, reason had not been again and hopelessly
After a period of intense suffering, pain seemed to deaden
sensibility. She grew calm and passive. And now Mrs. Dinneford set
herself to the completion of the work she had begun. She had
compassed the ruin of Granger in order to make a divorce possible;
she had cast the baby adrift that no sign of the social disgrace
might remain as an impediment to her first ambition. She would yet
see her daughter in the position to which she had from the beginning
resolved to lift her, cost what it might. But the task was not to be
an easy one.
After a period of intense suffering, as we have said, Edith grew
calm and passive. But she was never at ease with her mother, and
seemed to be afraid of her. To her father she was tender and
confiding. Mrs. Dinneford soon saw that if Edith's consent to a
divorce from her husband was to be obtained, it must come through her
father's influence; for if she but hinted at the subject, it was met
with a flash of almost indignant rejection. So her first work was to
bring her husband over to her side. This was not difficult, for Mr.
Dinneford felt the disgrace of having for a son-in-law a condemned
criminal, who was only saved from the State's prison by insanity. An
insane criminal was not worthy to hold the relation of husband to his
pure and lovely child.
After a feeble opposition to her father's arguments and
persuasions, Edith yielded her consent. An application for a divorce
was made, and speedily granted.
OUT of this furnace Edith came with a new and purer spirit.
She had been thrust in a shrinking and frightened girl; she came out a
woman in mental stature, in feeling and self-consciousness.
The river of her life, which had cut for itself a deeper channel,
lay now so far down that it was out of the sight of common
observation. Even her mother failed to apprehend its drift and
strength. Her father knew her better. To her mother she was reserved
and distant; to her father, warm and confiding. With the former she
would sit for hours without speaking unless addressed; with the
latter she was pleased and social, and grew to be interested in what
interested him. As mentioned, Mr. Dinneford was a man of wealth and
leisure, and active in many public charities. He had come to be much
concerned for the neglected and cast-off children of poor and vicious
parents, thousands upon thousands of whom were going to hopeless ruin,
unthought of and uncared for by Church or State, and their condition
often formed the subject of his conversation as well at home as
Mrs. Dinneford had no sympathy with her husband in this direction.
A dirty, vicious child was an offence to her, not an object of pity,
and she felt more like, spurning it with her foot than touching it
with her hand. But it was not so with Edith; she listened to her
father, and became deeply interested in the poor, suffering,
neglected little ones whose sad condition he could so vividly
portray, for the public duties of charity to which he was giving a
large part of his time made him familiar with much that was sad and
terrible in human suffering and degradation.
One day Edith said to her father,
"I saw a sight this morning that made me sick. It has haunted me
ever since. Oh, it was dreadful!"
"What was it?" asked Mr. Dinneford.
"A sick baby in the arms of a half-drunken woman. It made me shiver
to look at its poor little face, wasted by hunger and sickness and
purple with cold. The woman sat at the street corner begging, and the
people went by, no one seeming to care for the helpless, starving baby
in her arms. I saw a police-officer almost touch the woman as he
passed. Why did he not arrest her?"
"That was not his business," replied Mr. Dinneford. "So long as she
did not disturb the peace, the officer had nothing to do with her."
"Who, then, has?"
"Why, father!" exclaimed Edith. "Nobody?"
"The woman was engaged in business. She was a beggar, and the sick,
half-starved baby was her capital in trade," replied Mr. Dinneford.
"That policeman had no more authority to arrest her than he had to
arrest the organ-man or the peanut-vender."
"But somebody should see after a poor baby like that. Is there no
law to meet such cases?"
"The poor baby has no vote," replied Mr. Dinneford, "and law-makers
don't concern themselves much about that sort of constituency; and
even if they did, the executors of law would be found indifferent.
They are much more careful to protect those whose business it is to
make drunken beggars like the one you saw, who, if men, can vote and
give them place and power. The poor baby is far beneath their
"But not of Him," said Edith, with eyes full of tears, "who took
little children in his arms and blessed them, and said, Suffer them
to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of
"Our law-makers are not, I fear, of his kingdom," answered Mr.
Dinneford, gravely, "but of the kingdom of this world."
A little while after, Edith, who had remained silent and
thoughtful, said, with a tremor in her voice,
"Father, did you see my baby?"
Mr. Dinneford started at so unexpected a question, surprised and
disturbed. He did not reply, and Edith put the question again.
"No, my dear," he answered, with a hesitation of manner that was
After looking into his face steadily for some moments, Edith
dropped her eyes to the floor, and there was a constrained silence
between them for a good while.
"You never saw it?" she queried, again lifting her eyes to her
father's face. Her own was much paler than when she first put the
"Why?" asked Edith.
She waited for a little while, and then said,
"Why don't you answer me, father?"
"It was never brought to me."
"You were very ill, and a nurse was procured immediately."
"I was not too sick to see my baby," said Edith, with white,
quivering lips. "If they had laid it in my bosom as soon as it was
born, I would never have been so ill, and the baby would not have
She held back what she was about saying, shutting her lips tightly.
Her face remained very pale and strangely agitated. Nothing more was
A day or two afterward, Edith asked her mother, with an abruptness
that sent the color to her face, "Where was my baby buried?"
"In our lot at Fairview," was replied, after a moment's pause.
Edith said no more, but on that very day, regardless of a heavy
rain that was falling, went out to the cemetery alone and searched in
the family lot for the little mound that covered her baby—searched,
but did not find it. She came back so changed in appearance that when
her mother saw her she exclaimed,
"Why, Edith! Are you sick?"
"I have been looking for my baby's grave and cannot find it," she
answered. "There is something wrong, mother. What was done with my
baby? I must know." And she caught her mother's wrists with both of
her hands in a tight grip, and sent searching glances down through
"Your baby is dead," returned Mrs. Dinneford, speaking slowly and
with a hard deliberation. "As for its grave—well, if you will drag
up the miserable past, know that in my anger at your wretched mesalliance I rejected even the dead body of your miserable
husband's child, and would not even suffer it to lie in our family
ground. You know how bitterly I was disappointed, and I am not one of
the kind that forgets or forgives easily. I may have been wrong, but
it is too late now, and the past may as well be covered out of sight."
"Where, then, was my baby buried?" asked Edith, with a calm
resolution of manner that was not to be denied.
"I do not know. I did not care at the time, and never asked."
"Who can tell me?"
"I don't know."
"Who took my baby to nurse?"
"I have forgotten the woman's name. All I know is that she is dead.
When the child died, I sent her money, and told her to bury it
"Where did she live?"
"I never knew precisely. Somewhere down town."
"Who brought her here? who recommended her?" said Edith, pushing
her inquiries rapidly.
"I have forgotten that also," replied Mrs. Dinneford, maintaining
her coldness of manner.
"My nurse, I presume," said Edith. "I have a faint recollection of
her—a dark little woman with black eyes whom I had never seen
before. What was her name?"
"Bodine," answered Mrs. Dinneford, without a moment's hesitation.
"Where does she live?"
"She went to Havana with a Cuban lady several months ago."
"Do you know the lady's name?"
"It was Casteline, I think."
Edith questioned no further. The mother and daughter were still
sitting together, both deeply absorbed in thought, when a servant
opened the door and said to Mrs. Dinneford,
"A lady wishes to see you."
"Didn't she give you her card?"
"Nor send up her name?"
"Go down and ask her name."
The servant left the room. On returning, she said,
"Her name is Mrs. Bray."
Mrs. Dinneford turned her face quickly, but not in time to prevent
Edith from seeing by its expression that she knew her visitor, and
that her call was felt to be an unwelcome one. She went from the room
without speaking. On entering the parlor, Mrs. Dinneford said, in a
low, hurried voice,
"I don't want you to come here, Mrs. Bray. If you wish to see me
send me word, and I will call on you, but you must on no account come
"Why? Is anything wrong?"
"Edith isn't satisfied about the baby, has been out to Fairview
looking for its grave, wants to know who her nurse was."
"What did you tell her?"
"I said that your name was Mrs. Bodine, and that you had gone to
"Do you think she would know me?"
"Can't tell; wouldn't like to run the risk of her seeing you here.
Pull down your veil. There! close. She said, a little while ago, that
she had a faint recollection of you as a dark little woman with black
eyes whom she had never seen before."
"Indeed!" and Mrs. Bray gathered her veil close about her face.
"The baby isn't living?" Mrs. Dinneford asked the question in a
"Oh, it can't be! Are you sure?"
"Yes; I saw it day before yesterday."
"You did! Where?"
"On the street, in the arms of a beggar-woman."
"You are deceiving me!" Mrs. Dinneford spoke with a throb of anger
in her voice.
"As I live, no! Poor little thing! half starved and half frozen. It
'most made me sick."
"It's impossible! You could not know that it was Edith's baby."
"I do know," replied Mrs. Bray, in a voice that left no doubt on
Mrs. Dinneford's mind.
"Was the woman the same to whom we gave the baby?"
"No; she got rid of it in less than a month."
"What did she do with it?"
"Sold it for five dollars, after she had spent all the money she
received from you in drink and lottery-policies."
"Sold it for five dollars!"
"Yes, to two beggar-women, who use it every day, one in the morning
and the other in the afternoon, and get drunk on the money they
receive, lying all night in some miserable den."
Mrs. Dinneford gave a little shiver.
"What becomes of the baby when they are not using it?" she asked.
"They pay a woman a dollar a week to take care of it at night."
"Do you know where this woman lives?"
"Were you ever there?"
"What kind of a place is it?"
"Worse than a dog-kennel."
"What does all this mean?" demanded Mrs. Dinneford, with repressed
excitement. "Why have you so kept on the track of this baby, when you
knew I wished it lost sight of?"
"I had my own reasons," replied Mrs. Bray. "One doesn't know what
may come of an affair like this, and it's safe to keep well up with
Mrs. Dinneford bit her lips till the blood almost came through. A
faint rustle of garments in the hall caused her to start. An
expression of alarm crossed her face.
"Go now," she said, hurriedly, to her visitor; "I will call and see
you this afternoon."
Mrs. Bray quietly arose, saying, as she did so, "I shall expect
you," and went away.
There was a menace in her tone as she said, "I shall expect you,"
that did not escape the ears of Mrs. Dinneford.
Edith was in the hall, at some distance from the parlor door. Mrs.
Bray had to pass her as she went out. Edith looked at her intently.
"Who is that woman?" she asked, confronting her mother, after the
visitor was gone.
"If you ask the question in a proper manner, I shall have no
objection to answer," said Mrs. Dinneford, with a dignified and
slightly offended air; "but my daughter is assuming rather, too
"Mrs. Bray, the servant said."
"No, Mrs. Gray."
"I understood her to say Mrs. Bray."
"I can't help what you understood." The mother spoke with some
asperity of manner. "She calls herself Gray, but you can have it
anything you please; it won't change her identity."
"What did she want?"
"To see me."
"I know." Edith was turning away with an expression on her face
that Mrs. Dinneford did not like, so she said,
"She is in trouble, and wants me to help her, if you must know. She
used to be a dressmaker, and worked for me before you were born; she
got married, and then her troubles began. Now she is a widow with a
house full of little children, and not half bread enough to feed
them. I've helped her a number of times already, but I'm getting
tired of it; she must look somewhere else, and I told her so."
Edith turned from her mother with an unsatisfied manner, and went
up stairs. Mrs. Dinneford was surprised, not long afterward, to meet
her at her chamber door, dressed to go out. This was something
"Where are you going?" she asked, not concealing her surprise.
"I have a little errand out," Edith replied.
This was not satisfactory to her mother. She asked other questions,
but Edith gave only evasive answers.
On leaving the house, Edith walked quickly, like one in earnest
about something; her veil was closely drawn. Only a few blocks from
where she lived was the office of Dr. Radcliffe. Hither she directed
"Why, Edith, child!" exclaimed the doctor, not concealing the
surprise he felt at seeing her. "Nobody sick, I hope?"
"No one," she answered.
There was a momentary pause; then Edith said, abruptly,
"Doctor, what became of my baby?"
"It died," answered Doctor Radcliffe, but not without betraying
some confusion. The question had fallen upon him too suddenly.
"Did you see it after it was dead?" She spoke in a firm voice,
looking him steadily in the face.
"No," he replied, after a slight hesitation.
"Then how do you know that it died?" Edith asked.
"I had your mother's word for it," said the doctor.
"What was done with my baby after it was born?"
"It was given out to nurse."
"With your consent?"
"I did not advise it. Your mother had her own views in the case. It
was something over which I had no control."
"And you never saw it after it was taken away?"
"And do not really know whether it be dead or living?"
"Oh, it's dead, of course, my child. There is no doubt of that,"
said the doctor, with sudden earnestness of manner.
"Have you any evidence of the fact?"
"My dear, dear child," answered the doctor, with much feeling, "it
is all wrong. Why go back over this unhappy ground? why torture
yourself for nothing? Your baby died long ago, and is in heaven."
"Would God I could believe it!" she exclaimed, in strong agitation.
"If it were so, why is not the evidence set before me? I question my
mother; I ask for the nurse who was with me when my baby was born,
and for the nurse to whom it was given afterward, and am told that
they are dead or out of the country. I ask for my baby's grave, but
it cannot be found. I have searched for it where my mother told me it
was, but the grave is not there. Why all this hiding and mystery?
Doctor, you said that my baby was in heaven, and I answered, 'Would
God it were so!' for I saw a baby in hell not long ago!"
The doctor was scared. He feared that Edith was losing her mind,
she looked and spoke so wildly.
"A puny, half-starved, half-frozen little thing, in the arms of a
drunken beggar," she added. "And, doctor, an awful thought has
haunted me ever since."
"Hush, hush!" said the doctor, who saw what was in her mind. "You
must not indulge such morbid fancies."
"It is that I may not indulge them that I have come to you. I want
certainty, Dr. Radcliffe. Somebody knows all about my baby. Who was
"I never saw her before the night of your baby's birth, and have
never seen her since. Your mother procured her."
"Did you hear her name?"
"And so you cannot help me at all?" said Edith, in a disappointed
"I cannot, my poor child," answered the doctor.
All the flush and excitement died out of Edith's face. When she
arose to go, she was pale and haggard, like one exhausted by pain,
and her steps uneven, like the steps of an invalid walking for the
first time. Dr. Radcliffe went with her in silence to the door.
"Oh, doctor," said Edith, in a choking voice, as she lingered a
moment on the steps, "can't you bring out of this frightful mystery
something for my heart to rest upon? I want the truth. Oh, doctor, in
pity help me to find the truth!"
"I am powerless to help you," the doctor replied. "Your only hope
lies in your mother. She knows all about it; I do not."
And he turned and left her standing at the door. Slowly she
descended the steps, drawing her veil as she did so about her face,
and walked away more like one in a dream than conscious of the tide
of life setting so strongly all about her.
MEANTIME, obeying the unwelcome summons, Mrs. Dinneford had
gone to see Mrs. Bray. She found her in a small third-story room in
the lower part of the city, over a mile away from her own residence.
The meeting between the two women was not over-gracious, but in
keeping with their relations to each other. Mrs. Dinneford was half
angry and impatient; Mrs. Bray cool and self-possessed.
"And now what is it you have to say?" asked the former, almost as
soon as she had entered.
"The woman to whom you gave that baby was here yesterday."
A frightened expression came into Mrs. Dinneford's face. Mrs. Bray
watched her keenly as, with lips slightly apart, she waited for what
more was to come.
"Unfortunately, she met me just as I was at my own door, and so
found out my residence," continued Mrs. Bray. "I was in hopes I
should never see her again. We shall have trouble, I'm afraid."
"In what way?"
"A bad woman who has you in her power can trouble you in many
ways," answered Mrs. Bray.
"She did not know my name—you assured me of that. It was one of
"She does know, and your daughter's name also. And she knows where
the baby is. She's deeper than I supposed. It's never safe to trust
such people; they have no honor."
Fear sent all the color out of Mrs. Dinneford's face.
"What does she want?"
"She was paid liberally."
"That has nothing to do with it. These people have no honor, as I
said; they will get all they can."
"How much does she want?"
"A hundred dollars; and it won't end there, I'm thinking. If she is
refused, she will go to your house; she gave me that
alternative—would have gone yesterday, if good luck had not thrown
her in my way. I promised to call on you and see what could be done."
Mrs. Dinneford actually groaned in her fear and distress.
"Would you like to see her yourself?" coolly asked Mrs. Bray.
"Oh dear! no, no!" and the lady put up her hands in dismay.
"It might be best," said her wily companion.
"No, no, no! I will have nothing to do with her! You must keep her
away from me," replied Mrs. Dinneford, with increasing agitation.
"I cannot keep her away without satisfying her demands. If you were
to see her yourself, you would know just what her demands were. If
you do not see her, you will only have my word for it, and I am left
open to misapprehension, if not worse. I don't like to be placed in
such a position."
And Mrs. Bray put on a dignified, half-injured manner.
"It's a wretched business in every way," she added, "and I'm sorry
that I ever had anything to do with it. It's something dreadful, as I
told you at the time, to cast a helpless baby adrift in such a way.
Poor little soul! I shall never feel right about it."
"That's neither here nor there;" and Mrs. Dinneford waved her hand
impatiently. "The thing now in hand is to deal with this woman."
"Yes, that's it—and as I said just now, I would rather have you
deal with her yourself; you may be able to do it better than I can."
"It's no use to talk, Mrs. Bray. I will not see the woman."
"Very well; you must be your own judge in the case."
"Can't you bind her up to something, or get her out of the city?
I'd pay almost anything to have her a thousand miles away. See if you
can't induce her to go to New Orleans. I'll pay her passage, and give
her a hundred dollars besides, if she'll go."
Mrs. Bray smiled a faint, sinister smile:
"If you could get her off there, it would be the end of her. She'd
never stand the fever."
"Then get her off, cost what it may," said Mrs. Dinneford.
"She will be here in less than half an hour." Mrs. Bray looked at
the face of a small cheap clock that stood on the mantel.
"She will?" Mrs. Dinneford became uneasy, and arose from her chair.
"Yes; what shall I say to her?"
"Manage her the best you can. Here are thirty dollars—all the
money I have with me. Give her that, and promise more if necessary. I
will see you again."
"When?" asked Mrs. Bray.
"At any time you desire."
"Then you had better come to-morrow morning. I shall not go out."
"I will be here at eleven o'clock. Induce her if possible to leave
the city—to go South, so that she may never come back."
"The best I can shall be done," replied Mrs. Bray as she folded the
bank-bills she had received from Mrs. Dinneford in a fond, tender
sort of way and put them into her pocket.
Mrs. Dinneford retired, saying as she did so,
"I will be here in the morning."
An instant change came over the shallow face of the wiry little
woman as the form of Mrs. Dinneford vanished through the door. A veil
seemed to fall away from it. All its virtuous sobriety was gone, and a
smile of evil satisfaction curved about her lips and danced in her
keen black eyes. She stood still, listening to the retiring steps of
her visitor, until she heard the street door shut. Then, with a quick,
cat-like step, she crossed to the opposite side of the room, and
pushed open a door that led to an adjoining chamber. A woman came
forward to meet her. This woman was taller and stouter than Mrs. Bray,
and had a soft, sensual face, but a resolute mouth, the under jaw
slightly protruding. Her eyes were small and close together, and had
that peculiar wily and alert expression you sometimes see, making you
think of a serpent's eyes. She was dressed in common finery and
adorned by cheap jewelry.
"What do you think of that, Pinky Swett?" exclaimed Mrs. Bray, in a
voice of exultation. "Got her all right, haven't I?"
"Well, you have!" answered the woman, shaking all over with
unrestrained laughter. "The fattest pigeon I've happened to see for a
month of Sundays. Is she very rich?"
"Her husband is, and that's all the same. And now, Pinky"—Mrs.
Bray assumed a mock gravity of tone and manner—"you know your
fate—New Orleans and the yellow fever. You must pack right off.
Passage free and a hundred dollars for funeral expenses. Nice wet
graves down there—keep off the fire;" and she gave a low chuckle.
"Oh yes; all settled. When does the next steamer sail?" and Pinky
almost screamed with merriment. She had been drinking.
"H-u-s-h! h-u-s-h! None of that here, Pinky. The people down stairs
are good Methodists, and think me a saint."
"You a saint? Oh dear!" and she shook with repressed enjoyment.
After this the two women grew serious, and put their heads together
"Who is this woman, Fan? What's her name, and where does she live?"
asked Pinky Swett.
"That's my secret, Pinky," replied Mrs. Bray, "and I can't let it
go; it wouldn't be safe. You get a little off the handle sometimes,
and don't know what you say—might let the cat out of the bag. Sally
Long took the baby away, and she died two months ago; so I'm the only
one now in the secret. All I want of you is to keep track of the baby.
Here is a five-dollar bill; I can't trust you with more at a time. I
know your weakness, Pinky;" and she touched her under the chin in a
familiar, patronizing way.
Pinky wasn't satisfied with this, and growled a little, just
showing her teeth like an unquiet dog.
"Give me ten," she said; "the woman gave you thirty. I heard her
say so. And she's going to bring you seventy to-morrow."
"You'll only waste it, Pinky," remonstrated Mrs. Bray. "It will all
be gone before morning."
"Fan," said the woman, leaning toward Mrs. Bray and speaking in a
low, confidential tone, "I dreamed of a cow last night, and that's
good luck, you know. Tom Oaks made a splendid hit last Saturday—drew
twenty dollars—and Sue Minty got ten. They're all buzzing about it
down in our street, and going to Sam McFaddon's office in a stream."
"Do they have good luck at Sam McFaddon's?" asked Mrs. Bray, with
considerable interest in her manner.
"It's the luckiest place that I know. Never dreamed of a cow or a
hen that I didn't make a hit, and I dreamed of a cow last night. She
was giving such a splendid pail of milk, full to the brim, just as
old Spot and Brindle used to give. You remember our Spot and Brindle,
"Oh yes." There was a falling inflection in Mrs. Bray's voice, as
if the reference had sent her thoughts away back to other and more
The two women sat silent for some moments after that; and when
Pinky spoke, which she did first, it was in lower and softer tones:
"I don't like to think much about them old times, Fan; do you? I
might have done better. But it's no use grizzling about it now.
What's done's done, and can't be helped. Water doesn't run up hill
again after it's once run down. I've got going, and can't stop, you
see. There's nothing to catch at that won't break as soon as you
touch it. So I mean to be jolly as I move along."
"Laughing is better than crying at any time," returned Mrs. Bray;
"here are five more;" and she handed Pinky Swett another bank-bill.
"I'm going to try my luck. Put half a dollar on ten different rows,
and we'll go shares on what is drawn. I dreamed the other night that
I saw a flock of sheep, and that's good luck, isn't it?"
Pinky thrust her hand into her pocket and drew out a worn and
"A flock of sheep; let me see;" and she commenced turning over the
leaves. "Sheep; here it is: 'To see them is a sign of sorrow—11, 20,
40, 48. To be surrounded by many sheep denotes good luck—2, 11, 55.'
That's your row; put down 2, 11, 55. We'll try that. Next put down 41
11, 44—that's the lucky row when you dream of a cow."
As Pinky leaned toward her friend she dropped her parasol.
"That's for luck, maybe," she said, with a brightening face. "Let's
see what it says about a parasol;" and she turned over her
"For a maiden to dream she loses her parasol shows that her
sweetheart is false and will never marry her—5, 51, 56."
"But you didn't dream about a parasol, Pinky."
"That's no matter; it's just as good as a dream. 5, 51, 56 is the
row. Put that down for the second, Fan."
As Mrs. Bray was writing out these numbers the clock on the mantel
"8, 12, 60," said Pinky, turning to the clock; "that's the clock
And Mrs. Bray put down these figures also.
"That's three rows," said Pinky, "and we want ten." She arose, as
she spoke, and going to the front window, looked down upon the
"There's an organ-grinder; it's the first thing I saw;" and she
came back fingering the leaves of her dream-book. "Put down 40, 50,
Mrs. Bray wrote the numbers on her slip of paper.
"It's November; let's find the November row." Pinky consulted her
book again. "Signifies you will have trouble through life—7, 9, 63.
That's true as preaching; I was born in November, and I've had it all
trouble. How many rows does that make?"
"Then we will cut cards for the rest;" and Pinky drew a soiled pack
from her pocket, shuffled the cards and let her friends cut them.
"Ten of diamonds;" she referred to the dream-book. "10, 13, 31; put
The cards were shuffled and cut again.
"Six of clubs—6, 35, 39."
Again they were cut and shuffled. This time the knave of clubs was
"That's 17, 19, 28," said Pinky, reading from her book.
The next cut gave the ace of clubs, and the policy numbers were 18,
"Once more, and the ten rows will be full;" and the cards were cut
"Five of hearts—5, 12, 60;" and the ten rows were complete.
"There's luck there, Fan; sure to make a hit," said Pinky, with
almost childish confidence, as she gazed at the ten rows of figures.
'One of 'em can't help coming out right, and that would be fifty
dollars—twenty-five for me and twenty-five for you; two rows would
give a hundred dollars, and the whole ten a thousand. Think of that,
Fan! five hundred dollars apiece."
"It would break Sam McFaddon, I'm afraid," remarked Mrs. Bray.
"Sam's got nothing to do with it," returned Pinky.
"Who has, then?"
"Oh, I found it all out—I know how it's done. Sam's got a
backer—a man that puts up the money. Sam only sells for his backer.
When there's a hit, the backer pays."
"Who's Sam's backer, as you call him?"
"Couldn't get him to tell; tried him hard, but he was close as an
oyster. Drives in the Park and wears a two thousand dollar diamond
pin; he let that out. So he's good for the hits. Sam always puts the
money down, fair and square."
"Very well; you get the policy, and do it right off, Pinky, or the
money'll slip through your fingers."
"All right," answered Pinky as she folded the slip of paper
containing the lucky rows. "Never you fear. I'll be at Sam McFaddon's
in ten minutes after I leave here."
"And be sure," said Mrs. Bray, "to look after the baby to-night,
and see that it doesn't perish with cold; the air's getting sharp."
"It ought to have something warmer than cotton rags on its poor
little body," returned Pinky. "Can't you get it some flannel? It will
die if you don't."
"I sent it a warm petticoat last week," said Mrs. Bray.
"Yes; I bought one at a Jew shop, and had it sent to the woman."
"Was it a nice warm one?"
Pinky drew a sigh. "I saw the poor baby last night; hadn't anything
on but dirty cotton rags. It was lying asleep in a cold cellar on a
little heap of straw. The woman had given it something, I guess, by
the way it slept. The petticoat had gone, most likely, to Sam
McFaddon's. She spends everything she can lay her hands on in
policies and whisky."
"She's paid a dollar a week for taking care of the baby at night
and on Sundays," said Mrs. Bray.
"It wouldn't help the baby any if she got ten dollars," returned
Pinky. "It ought to be taken away from her."
"But who's to do that? Sally Long sold it to the two beggar women,
and they board it out. I have no right to interfere; they own the
baby, and can do as they please with it."
"It could be got to the almshouse," said Pinky; "it would be a
thousand times better off."
"It mustn't go to the almshouse," replied Mrs. Bray; "I might lose
track of it, and that would never do."
"You'll lose track of it for good and all before long, if you don't
get it out of them women's bands. No baby can hold out being begged
with long; it's too hard on the little things. For you know how it
is, Fan; they must keep 'em half starved and as sick as they will
bear without dying right off, so as to make 'em look pitiful. You
can't do much at begging with a fat, hearty-looking baby."
"What's to be done about it?" asked Mrs. Bray. "I don't want that
baby to die."
"Would its mother know it if she saw it?" asked Pinky.
"No; for she never set eyes on it."
"Then, if it dies, get another baby, and keep track of that. You
can steal one from a drunken mother any night in the week. I'll do it
for you. One baby is as good as another."
"It will be safer to have the real one," replied Mrs. Bray. "And
now, Pinky that you have put this thing into my head, I guess I'll
commission you to get the baby away from that woman."
"But what are we to do with it? I can't have it here."
"Of course you can't. But that's easily managed, if your're willing
to pay for it."
"Pay for it?"
"Yes; if it isn't begged with, and made to pay its way and earn
something into the bargain, it's got to be a dead weight on somebody.
So you see how it is, Fan. Now, if you'll take a fool's advice, you'll
let 'it go to the almshouse, or let it alone to die and get out of its
misery as soon as possible. You can find another baby that will do
just as well, if you should ever need one."
"How much would it cost, do you think, to have it boarded with some
one who wouldn't abuse it? She might beg with it herself, or hire it
out two or three times a week. I guess it would stand that."
"Beggars don't belong to the merciful kind," answered Pinky;
"there's no trusting any of them. A baby in their hands is never
safe. I've seen 'em brought in at night more dead than alive, and
tossed on a dirty rag-heap to die before morning. I'm always glad
when they're out of their misery, poor things! The fact is, Fan, if
you expect that baby to live, you've got to take it clean out of the
hands of beggars."
"What could I get it boarded for outright?" asked Mrs. Bray.
"For 'most anything, 'cording to how it's done. But why not, while
you're about it, bleed the old lady, its grandmother, a little
deeper, and take a few drops for the baby?"
"Guess you're kind o' right about that, Fan; anyhow, we'll make a
start on it. You find another place for the brat."
"'Greed; when shall I do it?"
"The sooner, the better. It might die of cold any night in that
horrible den. Ugh!"
"I've been in worse places. Bedlow street is full of them, and so
is Briar street and Dirty alley. You don't know anything about it."
"Maybe not, and maybe I don't care to know. At present I want to
settle about this baby. You'll find another place for it?"
"And then steal it from the woman who has it now?"
"Yes; no trouble in the world. She's drunk every night," answered
Pinky Swett, rising to go.
"You'll see me to-morrow?" said Mrs. Bray.
"And you won't forget about the policies?"
"Not I. We shall make a grand hit, or I'm a fool. Day-day!" Pinky
waved her hand gayly, and then retired.
A COLD wet drizzling rain was beginning to fall when Pinky
Swett emerged from the house. Twilight was gathering drearily. She
drew her thin shawl closely, and shivered as the east wind struck her
with a chill.
At hurried walk of five or ten minutes brought her to a part of the
town as little known to its citizens generally as if it were in the
centre of Africa—a part of the town where vice, crime, drunkenness
and beggary herd together in the closest and most shameless contact;
where men and women, living in all foulness, and more like wild
beasts than human beings, prey greedily upon each other, hurting,
depraving and marring God's image in all over whom they can get power
or influenced—a very hell upon the earth!—at part of the town
where theft and robbery and murder are plotted, and from which prisons
and almshouses draw their chief population.
That such a herding together, almost in the centre of a great
Christian city, of the utterly vicious and degraded, should be
permitted, when every day's police and criminal records give warning
of its cost and danger, is a marvel and a reproach. Almost every
other house, in portions of this locality, is a dram-shop, where the
vilest liquors are sold. Policy-offices, doing business in direct
violation of law, are in every street and block, their work of
plunder and demoralization going on with open doors and under the
very eyes of the police. Every one of them is known to these
officers. But arrest is useless. A hidden and malign influence, more
potent than justice, has power to protect the traffic and hold the
guilty offenders harmless. Conviction is rarely, if ever, reached.
The poor wretches, depraved and plundered through drink and
policy-gambling, are driven into crime. They rob and steal and debase
themselves for money with which to buy rum and policies, and sooner or
later the prison or death removes the greater number of them from
their vile companions. But drifting toward this fatal locality under
the attraction of affinity, or lured thither by harpies in search of
new supplies of human victims to repair the frightful waste
perpetually made, the region keeps up its dense population, and the
work of destroying human souls goes on. It is an awful thing to
contemplate. Thousands of men and women, boys and girls, once innocent
as the babes upon whom Christ laid his hand in blessing, are drawn
into this whirlpool of evil every year, and few come out except by the
way of prison or death.
It was toward this locality that Pinky Swett directed her feet,
after parting with Mrs. Bray. Darkness was beginning to settle down
as she turned off from one of the most populous streets, crowded at
the time by citizens on their way to quiet and comfortable homes, few
if any of whom had ever turned aside to look upon and get knowledge of
the world or crime and wretchedness so near at hand, but girdled in
and concealed from common observation.
Down a narrow street she turned from the great thoroughfare,
walking with quick steps, and shivering a little as the penetrating
east wind sent a chill of dampness through the thin shawl she drew
closer and closer about her shoulders. Nothing could be in stronger
contrast than the rows of handsome dwellings and stores that lined
the streets through which she had just passed, and the forlorn,
rickety, unsightly and tumble-down houses amid which she now found
Pinky had gone only a little way when the sharp cries of a child
cut the air suddenly, the shrill, angry voice of a woman and the rapid
fall of lashes mingled with the cries. The child begged for mercy in
tones of agony, but the loud voice, uttering curses and imprecations,
and the cruel blows, ceased not. Pinky stopped and shivered. She felt
the pain of these blows, in her quickly-aroused sympathy, almost as
much as if they had been falling on her own person. Opposite to where
she had paused was a one-story frame house, or enclosed shed, as
unsightly without as a pig-pen, and almost as filthy within. It
contained two small rooms with very low ceilings. The only things in
these rooms that could be called furniture were an old bench, two
chairs from which the backs had been broken, a tin cup black with
smoke and dirt, two or three tin pans in the same condition, some
broken crockery and an iron skillet. Pinky stood still for a moment,
shivering, as we have said. She knew what the blows and the curses and
the cries of pain meant; she had heard them before. A depraved and
drunken woman and a child ten years old, who might or might not be her
daughter, lived there. The child was sent out every day to beg or
steal, and if she failed to bring home a certain sum of money, was
cruelly beaten by the woman. Almost every day the poor child was cut
with lashes, often on the bare flesh; almost every day her shrieks
rang out from the miserable hovel. But there was no one to interfere,
no one to save her from the smarting blows, no one to care what she
Pinky Swett could stand it no longer. She had often noticed the
ragged child, with her pale, starved face and large, wistful eyes,
passing in and out of this miserable woman's den, sometimes going to
the liquor-shops and sometimes to the nearest policy-office to spend
for her mother, if such the woman really was, the money she had
gained by begging.
With a sudden impulse, as a deep wail and a more piteous cry for
mercy smote upon her ears, Pinky sprang across the street and into
the hovel. The sight that met her eyes left no hesitation in her
mind. Holding up with one strong arm the naked body of the poor
child—she had drawn the clothes over her head—the infuriated woman
was raining down blows from a short piece of rattan upon the
quivering flesh, already covered with welts and bruises.
"Devil!" cried Pinky as she rushed upon this fiend in human shape
and snatched the little girl from her arm. "Do you want to kill the
She might almost as well have assaulted a tigress.
The woman was larger, stronger, more desperate and more thoroughly
given over to evil passions than she. To thwart her in anything was
to rouse her into a fury. A moment she stood in surprise and
bewilderment; in the next, and ere Pinky had time to put herself on
guard, she had sprung upon her with a passionate cry that sounded
more like that of a wild beast than anything human. Clutching her by
the throat with one hand, and with the other tearing the child from
her grasp, she threw the frightened little thing across the room.
"Devil, ha!" screamed the woman; "devil!" and she tightened her
grasp on Pinky's throat, at the same time striking her in the face
with her clenched fist.
Like a war-horse that snuffs the battle afar off and rushes to the
conflict, so rushed the inhabitants of that foul neighborhood to the
spot from whence had come to their ears the familiar and not
unwelcome sound of strife. Even before Pinky had time to shake off
her assailant, the door of the hovel was darkened by a screen of
eager faces. And such faces! How little of God's image remained in
them to tell of their divine origination!—bloated and scarred, ashen
pale and wasted, hollow-eyed and red-eyed, disease looking out from
all, yet all lighted up with the keenest interest and expectancy.
Outside, the crowd swelled with a marvelous rapidity. Every cellar
and room and garret, every little alley and hidden rookery, "hawk's
nest" and "wren's nest," poured out its unseemly denizens, white and
black, old and young, male and female, the child of three years old,
keen, alert and self-protective, running to see the "row" side by
side with the toothless crone of seventy; or most likely passing her
on the way. Thieves, beggars, pick-pockets, vile women, rag-pickers
and the like, with the harpies who prey upon them, all were there to
enjoy the show.
Within, a desperate fight was going on between Pinky Swett and the
woman from whose hands she had attempted to rescue the child—a fight
in which Pinky was getting the worst of it. One garment after another
was torn from her person, until little more than a single one
"Here's the police! look out!" was cried at this juncture.
"Who cares for the police? Let 'em come," boldly retorted the
woman. "I haven't done nothing; it's her that's come in drunk and got
up a row."
Pushing the crowd aside, a policeman entered the hovel.
"Here she is!" cried the woman, pointing toward Pinky, from whom
she had sprung back the moment she heard the word police. "She came in
here drunk and got up a row. I'm a decent woman, as don't meddle with
nobody. But she's awful when she gets drunk. Just look at her—been
tearing her clothes off!"
At this there was a shout of merriment from the crowd who had
witnessed the fight.
"Good for old Sal! she's one of 'em! Can't get ahead of old Sal,
drunk or sober!" and like expressions were shouted by one and
Poor Pinky, nearly stripped of her clothing, and with a great
bruise swelling under one of her eyes, bewildered and frightened at
the aspect of things around her, could make no acceptable defence.
"She ran over and pitched into Sal, so she did! I saw her! She made
the fight, she did!" testified one of the crowd; and acting on this
testimony and his own judgment of the case, the policeman said
roughly, as he laid his hand on Pinky.
"Pick up your duds and come along."
Pinky lifted her torn garments from the dirty floor and gathered
them about her person as best she could, the crowd jeering all the
time. A pin here and there, furnished by some of the women, enabled
her to get them into a sort of shape and adjustment. Then she tried
to explain the affair to the policeman, but he would not listen.
"Come!" he said, sternly.
"What are you going to do with me?" she asked, not moving from
where she stood.
"Lock you up," replied the policeman. "So come along."
"What's the matter here?" demanded a tall, strongly-built woman,
pressing forward. She spoke with a foreign accent, and in a tone of
command. The motley crowd, above whom she towered, gave way for her
as she approached. Everything about the woman showed her to be
superior in mind and moral force to the unsightly wretches about her.
She had the fair skin, blue eyes and light hair of her nation. Her
features were strong, but not masculine. You saw in them no trace of
coarse sensuality or vicious indulgence.
"Here's Norah! here's the queen!" shouted a voice from the crowd.
"What's the matter here?" asked the woman as she gained an entrance
to the hovel.
"Going to lock up Pinky Swett," said a ragged little girl who had
forced her way in.
"What for?" demanded the woman, speaking with the air of one in
"'Cause she wouldn't let old Sal beat Kit half to death," answered
"Ho! Sal's a devil and Pinky's a fool to meddle with her." Then
turning to the policeman, who still had his hand on the girl, she
"What're you goin' to do, John?"
"Goin' to lock her up. She's drunk an' bin a-fightin'."
"You're not goin' to do any such thing."
"I'm not drunk, and it's a lie if anybody says so," broke in Pinky.
"I tried to keep this devil from beating the life out of poor little
Kit, and she pitched into me and tore my clothes off. That's what's
The policeman quietly removed his hand from Pinky's shoulder, and
glanced toward the woman named Sal, and stood as if waiting orders.
her up," said the "queen," as she had been
called. Sal snarled like a fretted wild beast.
"It's awful, the way she beats poor Kit," chimed in the little girl
who had before spoken against her. "If I was Kit, I'd run away, so I
"I'll wring your neck off," growled Sal, in a fierce undertone,
making a dash toward the girl, and swearing frightfully. But the
child shrank to the side of the policeman.
"If you lay a finger on Kit to-night," said the queen, "I'll have
her taken away, and you locked up into the the bargain."
Sal responded with another snarl.
"Come." The queen moved toward the door. Pinky followed, the
policeman offering no resistance. A few minutes later, and the
miserable crowd of depraved human beings had been absorbed again into
cellar and garret, hovel and rookery, to take up the thread of their
evil and sensual lives, and to plot wickedness, and to prey upon and
deprave each other—to dwell as to their inner and real lives among
infernals, to be in hell as to their spirits, while their bodies yet
remained upon the earth.
Pinky and her rescuer passed down the street for a short distance
until they came to another that was still narrower. On each side dim
lights shone from the houses, and made some revelation of what was
going on within. Here liquor was sold, and there policies. Here was a
junk-shop, and there an eating-saloon where for six cents you could
make a meal out of the cullings from beggars' baskets. Not very
tempting to an ordinary appetite was the display inside, nor agreeable
to the nostrils the odors that filled the atmosphere. But hunger like
the swines', that was not over-nice, satisfied itself amid these
disgusting conglomerations, and kept off starvation.
Along this wretched street, with scarcely an apology for a
sidewalk, moved Pinky and the queen, until they reached a small
two-story frame house that presented a different aspect from the
wretched tenements amid which it stood. It was clean upon the outside,
and had, as contrasted with its neighbors, an air of superiority. This
was the queen's residence. Inside, all was plain and homely, but
clean and in order.
The excitement into which Pinky had been thrown was nearly over by
"You've done me a good turn, Norah," she said as the door closed
upon them, "and I'll not soon forget you."
"Ugh!" ejaculated Norah as she looked into Pinky's bruised face;
"Sal's hit you square in the eye; it'll be black as y'r boot by
morning. I'll get some cold water."
A basin of cold water was brought, and Pinky held a wet cloth to
the swollen spot for a long time, hoping thereby not only to reduce
the swelling, but to prevent discoloration.
"Y'r a fool to meddle with Sal," said Norah as she set the basin of
water before Pinky.
"Why don't you meddle with her? Why do you let her beat poor little
Kit the way she does?" demanded Pinky.
Norah shrugged her shoulders, and answered with no more feeling in
her voice than if she had been speaking of inanimate things:
"She's got to keep Kit up to her work."
"Up to her work!"
"Yes; that's just it. Kit's lazy and cheats—buys cakes and
candies; and Sal has to come down on her; it's the way, you know. If
Sal didn't come down sharp on her all the while, Kit wouldn't bring
her ten cents a day. They all have to do it—so much a day or a
lickin'; and a little lickin' isn't any use—got to 'most kill some of
'em. We're used to it in here. Hark!"
The screams of a child in pain rang out wildly, the sounds coming
from across the narrow street. Quick, hard strokes of a lash were
heard at the same time. Pinky turned a little pale.
"Only Mother Quig," said Norah, with an indifferent air; "she has
to do it 'most every night—no getting along any other way with Tom.
It beats all how much he can stand."
"Oh, Norah, won't she never stop?" cried Pinky, starting up. "I
can't bear it a minute longer."
"Shut y'r ears. You've got to," answered the woman, with some
impatience in her voice. "Tom has to be kept to his work as well as
the rest of 'em. Half the fuss he's making is put on, anyhow; he
doesn't mind a beating any more than a horse. I know his hollers.
There's Flanagan's Nell getting it now," added Norah as the cries and
entreaties of another child were heard. She drew herself up and
listened, a slight shade of concern drifting across her face.
A long, agonizing wail shivered through the air.
"Nell's Sick, and can't do her work." The woman rose as she spoke.
"I saw her goin' off to-day, and told Flanagan she'd better keep her
Saying this, Norah went out quickly, Pinky following. With head
erect and mouth set firmly, the queen strode across the street and a
little way down the pavement, to the entrance of a cellar, from which
the cries and sounds of whipping came. Down the five or six rotten and
broken steps she plunged, Pinky close after her.
"Stop!" shouted Norah, in a tone of command.
Instantly the blows ceased, and the cries were hushed.
"You'll be hanged for murder if you don't take care," said Norah.
"What's Nell been doin'?"
"Doin', the slut!" ejaculated the woman, a short, bloated,
revolting creature, with scarcely anything human in her face. "Doin',
did ye say? It's nothin' she's been doin', the lazy, trapsing huzzy!
Who's that intrudin' herself in here?" she added fiercely, as she saw
Pinky, making at the same time a movement toward the girl. "Get out
o' here, or I'll spile y'r pictur'!"
"Keep quiet, will you?" said Norah, putting her hand on the woman
and pushing her back as easily as if she had been a child. "Now come
here, Nell, and let me look at you."
Out of the far corner of the cellar into which Flanagan had thrown
her when she heard Norah's voice, and into the small circle of light
made by a single tallow candle, there crept slowly the figure of a
child literally clothed in rags. Norah reached out her hand to her as
she came up—there was a scared look on her pinched face—and drew her
close to the light.
"Gracious! your hand's like an ice-ball!" exclaimed Norah.
Pinky looked at the child, and grew faint at heart. She had large
hazel eyes, that gleamed with a singular lustre out of the suffering,
grimed and wasted little face, so pale and sad and pitiful that the
sight of it was enough to draw tears from any but the brutal and
"Are you sick?" asked Norah.
"No, she's not sick; she's only shamming," growled Flanagan.
"You shut up!" retorted Norah. "I wasn't speaking to you." Then she
repeated her question:
"Are you sick, Nell?"
"I don't know."
Norah laid her hand on the child's head:
"Does it hurt here?"
"Oh yes! It hurts so I can't see good," answered Nell.
"It's all a lie! I know her; she's shamming."
"Oh no, Norah!" cried the child, a sudden hope blending with the
fear in her voice. "I ain't shamming at all. I fell down ever so many
times in the street, and 'most got run over. Oh dear! oh dear!" and
she clung to the woman with a gesture of despair piteous to see.
"I don't believe you are, Nell," said Norah, kindly. Then, to the
woman, "Now mind, Flanagan, Nell's sick; d'ye hear?"
The woman only uttered a defiant growl.
"She's not to be licked again to-night." Norah spoke as one having
"I wish ye'd be mindin' y'r own business, and not come interfarin'
wid me. She's my gal, and I've a right to lick her if I plaze."
"Maybe she is and maybe she isn't," retorted Norah.
"Who says she isn't my gal?" screamed the woman, firing up at this
and reaching out for Nell, who shrunk closer to Norah.
"Maybe she is and maybe she isn't," said the queen, quietly
repeating her last sentence; "and I think maybe she isn't. So take
care and mind what I say. Nell isn't to be licked any more to-night."
"Oh, Norah," sobbed the child, in a husky, choking voice, "take me,
won't you? She'll pinch me, and she'll hit my head on the wall, and
she'll choke me and knock me. Oh, Norah, Norah!"
Pinky could stand this no longer. Catching up the bundle of rags in
her arms, she sprang out of the cellar and ran across the street to
the queen's house, Norah and Flanagan coming quickly after her. At
the door, through which Pinky had passed, Norah paused, and turning
to the infuriated Irish woman, said, sternly,
"Go back! I won't have you in here; and if you make a row, I'll
tell John to lock you up."
"I want my Nell," said the woman, her manner changing. There was a
shade of alarm in her voice.
"You can't have her to-night; so that's settled. And if there's any
row, you'll be locked up." Saying which, Norah went in and shut the
door, leaving Flanagan on the outside.
The bundle of dirty rags with the wasted body of a child inside,
the body scarcely heavier than the rags, was laid by Pinky in the
corner of a settee, and the unsightly mass shrunk together like
"I thought you'd had enough with old Sal," said Norah, in a tone of
reproof, as she came in.
"Couldn't help it," replied Pinky. "I'm bad enough, but I can't
stand to see a child abused like that—no, not if I die for it."
Norah crossed to the settee and spoke to Nell. But there was no
answer, nor did the bundle of rags stir.
"Nell! Nell!" She called to deaf ears. Then she put her hand on the
child and raised one of the arms. It dropped away limp as a withered
stalk, showing the ashen white face across which it had lain.
The two women manifested no excitement. The child had fainted or
was dead—which, they did not know. Norah straightened out the wasted
little form and turned up the face. The eyes were shut, the mouth
closed, the pinched features rigid, as if still giving expression to
pain, but there was no mistaking the sign that life had gone out of
them. It might be for a brief season, it might be for ever.
A little water was thrown into the child's face. Its only effect
was to streak the grimy skin.
"Poor little thing!" said Pinky. "I hope she's dead."
"They're tough. They don't die easy," returned Norah.
"She isn't one of the tough kind."
"Maybe not. They say Flanagan stole her when she was a little
thing, just toddling."
"Don't let's do anything to try to bring her to," said Pinky.
Norah stood for some moment's with an irresolute air, then bent
over the child and examined her more carefully. She could feel no
pulse beat, nor any motion of the heart,
"I don't want the coroner here," she said, in a tone of annoyance.
"Take her back to Flanagan; it's her work, and she must stand by it."
"Is she really dead?" asked Pinky.
"Looks like it, and serves Flanagan right. I've told her over and
over that Nell wouldn't stand it long if she didn't ease up a little.
Flesh isn't iron."
Again she examined the child carefully, but without the slightest
sign of feeling.
"It's all the same now who has her," she said, turning off from the
settee. "Take her back to Flanagan."
But Pinky would not touch the child, nor could threat or persuasion
lead her to do so. While they were contending, Flanagan, who had
fired herself up with half a pint of whisky, came storming through
the door in a blind rage and screaming out,
"Where's my Nell? I want my Nell!"
Catching sight of the child's inanimate form lying on the settee,
she pounced down upon it like some foul bird and bore it off, cursing
and striking the senseless clay in her insane fury.
Pinky, horrified at the dreadful sight, and not sure that the child
was really dead, and so insensible to pain, made a movement to
follow, but Norah caught her arm with a tight grip and held her back.
"Are you a fool?" said the queen, sternly. "Let Flanagan alone.
Nell's out of her reach, and I'm glad of it."
"If I was only sure!" exclaimed Pinky.
"You may be. I know death—I've seen it often enough. They'll have
the coroner over there in the morning. It's Flanagan's concern, not
yours or mine, so keep out of it if you know when you're well off."
"I'll appear against her at the inquest," said Pinky.
"You'll do no such thing. Keep your tongue behind your teeth. It's
time enough to show it when it's pulled out. Take my advice, and mind
your own business. You'll have enough to do caring for your own head,
without looking after other people's."
"I'm not one of that kind," answered Pinky, a little tartly; "and
if there's any way to keep Flanagan from murdering another child, I'm
going to find it out."
"You'll find out something else first," said Norah, with a slight
curl of her lip.
"The way to prison."
"Pshaw! I'm not afraid."
"You'd better be. If you appear against Flanagan, she'll have you
caged before to-morrow night."
"How can she do it?"
"Swear against you before an alderman, and he'll send you down if
it's only to get his fee. She knows her man."
"Suppose murder is proved against her?"
"Suppose!" Norah gave a little derisive laugh.
"They don't look after things in here as they do outside.
Everybody's got the screws on, and things must break sometimes, but
it isn't called murder. The coroner understands it all. He's used to
seeing things break."
FOR a short time the sounds of cruel exultation came over
from Flanagan's; then all was still.
"Sal's put her mark on you," said Norah, looking steadily into
Pinky's face, and laughing in a cold, half-amused way.
Pinky raised her hand to her swollen cheek. "Does it look very
bad?" she asked.
"Spoils your beauty some."
"Will it get black?"
"Shouldn't wonder. But what can't be helped, can't. You'll mind
your own business next time, and keep out of Sal's way. She's
dangerous. What's the matter?"
"Got a sort of chill," replied the girl, who from nervous reaction
was beginning to shiver.
"Oh, want something to warm you up." Norah brought out a bottle of
spirits. Pinky poured a glass nearly half full, added some water, and
then drank off the fiery mixture.
"None of your common stuff," said Norah, with a smile, as Pinky
smacked her lips. The girl drew her handkerchief from her pocket, and
as she did so a piece of paper dropped on the floor.
"Oh, there it is!" she exclaimed, light flashing into her face.
"Going to make a splendid hit. Just look at them rows."
Norah threw an indifferent glance on the paper.
"They're lucky, every one of them," said Pinky. "Going to put half
a dollar on each row—sure to make a hit."
The queen gave one of her peculiar shrugs.
"Going to break Sam McFaddon," continued Pinky, her spirits rising
under the influence of Norah's treat.
"Soft heads don't often break hard rocks," returned the woman, with
a covert sneer.
"That's an insult!" cried Pinky, on whom the liquor she had just
taken was beginning to have a marked effect, "and I won't stand an
insult from you or anybody else."
"Well, I wouldn't if I was you," returned Norah, coolly. A hard
expression began settling about her mouth.
"And I don't mean to. I'm as good as you are, any day!"
"You may be a great deal better, for all I care," answered Norah.
"Only take my advice, and keep a civil tongue in your head." There
was a threatening undertone in the woman's voice. She drew her tall
person more erect, and shook herself like a wild beast aroused from
Pinky was too blind to see the change that had come so suddenly. A
stinging retort fell from her lips. But the words had scarcely died
on the air ere she found herself in the grip of vice-like hands.
Resistance was of no more avail than if she had been a child. In what
seemed but a moment of time she was pushed back through the door and
dropped upon the pavement. Then the door shut, and she was alone on
the outside—no, not alone, for scores of the denizens who huddle
together in that foul region were abroad, and gathered around her as
quickly as flies about a heap of offal, curious, insolent and
aggressive. As she arose to her feet she found herself hemmed in by a
"Ho! it's Pinky Swett!" cried a girl, pressing toward her. "Hi,
Pinky! what's the matter? What's up?"
"Norah pitched her out! I saw it!" screamed a boy, one of the young
thieves that harbored in the quarter.
"It's a lie!" Pinky answered back as she confronted the crowd.
At this moment another boy, who had come up behind Pinky, gave her
dress so violent a jerk that she fell over backward on the pavement,
striking her head on a stone and cutting it badly. She lay there,
unable to rise, the crowd laughing with as much enjoyment as if
witnessing a dog-fight.
"Give her a dose of mud!" shouted one of the boys; and almost as
soon as the words were out of his mouth her face was covered with a
paste of filthy dirt from the gutter. This, instead of exciting pity,
only gave a keener zest to the show. The street rang with shouts and
peals of merriment, bringing a new and larger crowd to see the fun.
With them came one or two policemen.
Seeing that it was only a drunken woman, they pushed back the crowd
and raised her to her feet. As they did so the blood streamed from
the back of her head and stained her dress to the waist. She was
taken to the nearest station-house.
At eleven o'clock on the next morning, punctual to the minute, came
Mrs. Dinneford to the little third-story room in which she had met
Mrs. Bray. She repeated her rap at the door before it was opened, and
noticed that a key was turned in the lock.
"You have seen the woman?" she said as she took an offered seat,
coming at once to the object of her visit.
"I gave her the money."
Mrs. Bray shook her head:
"Afraid I can't do much with her."
"Why?" an anxious expression coming into Mrs. Dinneford's face.
"These people suspect everybody; there is no honor nor truth in
them, and they judge every one by themselves. She half accused me of
getting a larger amount of money from you, and putting her off with
the paltry sum of thirty dollars."
Mrs. Bray looked exceedingly hurt and annoyed.
"Threatened," she went on, "to go to you herself—didn't want any
go-betweens nor brokers. I expected to hear you say that she'd been
at your house this morning."
"Good Gracious! no!" Mrs. Dinneford's face was almost distorted
"It's the way with all these people," coolly remarked Mrs. Bray.
"You're never safe with them."
"Did you hint at her leaving the city?—going to New Orleans, for
"Oh dear, no! She isn't to be managed in that way—is deeper and
more set than I thought. The fact is, Mrs. Dinneford"—and Mrs. Bray
lowered her voice and looked shocked and mysterious—"I'm beginning
to suspect her as being connected with a gang."
"With a gang? What kind of a gang?" Mrs. Dinneford turned slightly
"A gang of thieves. She isn't the right thing; I found that out
long ago. You remember what I said when you gave her the child. I told
you that she was not a good woman, and that it was a cruel thing to
put a helpless, new-born baby into her hands."
"Never mind about that." Mrs. Dinneford waved her hand impatiently.
"The baby's out of her hands, so far as that is concerned. A gang of
"Yes, I'm 'most sure of it. Goes to people's houses on one excuse
and another, and finds out where the silver is kept and how to get
in. You don't know half the wickedness that's going on. So you see
it's no use trying to get her away."
Mrs. Bray was watching the face of her visitor with covert
scrutiny, gauging, as she did so, by its weak alarms, the measure of
her power over her.
"Dreadful! dreadful!" ejaculated Mrs. Dinneford, with dismay.
"It's bad enough," said Mrs. Bray, "and I don't see the end of it.
She's got you in her power, and no mistake, and she isn't one of the
kind to give up so splendid an advantage. I'm only surprised that
she's kept away so long."
"What's to be done about it?" asked Mrs. Dinneford, her alarm and
"Ah! that's more than I can tell," coolly returned Mrs. Bray. "One
thing is certain—I don't want to have anything more to do with her.
It isn't safe to let her come here. You'll have to manage her
"No, no, no, Mrs. Bray! You mustn't desert me!" answered Mrs.
Dinneford, her face growing pallid with fear. "Money is of no
account. I'll pay 'most anything, reasonable or unreasonable, to have
her kept away."
And she drew out her pocket-book while speaking. At this moment
there came two distinct raps on the door. It had been locked after
Mrs. Dinneford's entrance. Mrs. Bray started and changed countenance,
turning her face quickly from observation. But she was self-possessed
in an instant. Rising, she said in a whisper,
"Go silently into the next room, and remain perfectly still. I
believe that's the woman now. I'll manage her as best I can."
Almost as quick as thought, Mrs. Dinneford vanished through a door
that led into an adjoining room, and closing it noiselessly, turned a
key that stood in the lock, then sat down, trembling with nervous
alarm. The room in which she found herself was small, and overlooked
the street; it was scantily furnished as a bed-room. In one corner,
partly hid by a curtain that hung from a hoop fastened to the wall,
was an old wooden chest, such as are used by sailors. Under the bed,
and pushed as far back as possible, was another of the same kind. The
air of the room was close, and she noticed the stale smell of a cigar.
A murmur of voices from the room she had left so hastily soon
reached her ears; but though she listened intently, standing close to
the door, she was not able to distinguish a word. Once or twice she
was sure that she heard the sound of a man's voice. It was nearly a
quarter of an hour by her watch—it seemed two hours—before Mrs.
Bray's visitor or visitors retired; then there came a light rap on the
door. She opened it, and stood face to face again with the dark-eyed
"You kept me here a long time," said Mrs. Dinneford, with
"No longer than I could help," replied Mrs. Bray. "Affairs of this
kind are not settled in a minute."
"Then it was that miserable woman?"
"Well, what did you make out of her?"
"Not much; she's too greedy. The taste of blood has sharpened her
"What does she want?"
"She wants two hundred dollars paid into her hand to-day, and says
that if the money isn't here by sundown, you'll have a visit from her
in less than an hour afterward."
"Will that be the end of it?"
A sinister smile curved Mrs. Bray's lips slightly.
"More than I can say," she answered.
"Two hundred dollars?"
"Yes. She put the amount higher, but I told her she'd better not go
for too big a slice or she might get nothing—that there was such a
thing as setting the police after her. She laughed at this in such a
wicked, sneering way that I felt my flesh creep, and said she knew
the police, and some of their masters, too, and wasn't afraid of
them. She's a dreadful woman;" and Mrs. Bray shivered in a very
"If I thought this would be the last of it!" said Mrs. Dinneford as
she moved about the room in a disturbed way, and with an anxious look
on her face.
"Perhaps," suggested her companion, "it would be best for you to
grapple with this thing at the outset—to take our vampire by the
throat and strangle her at once. The knife is the only remedy for
some forms of disease. If left to grow and prey upon the body, they
gradually suck away its life and destroy it in the end."
"If I only knew how to do it," replied Mrs. Dinneford. "If I could
only get her in my power, I'd make short works of her." Her eyes
flashed with a cruel light.
"It might be done."
"Mr. Dinneford knows the chief of police."
The light went out of Mrs. Dinneford's eyes:
"It can't be done in that way, and you know it as well as I do."
Mrs. Dinneford turned upon Mrs. Bray sharply, and with a gleam of
suspicion in her face.
"I don't know any other way, unless you go to the chief yourself,"
replied Mrs. Bray, coolly. "There is no protection in cases like this
except through the law. Without police interference, you are wholly in
this woman's power."
Mrs. Dinneford grew very pale.
"It is always dangerous," went on Mrs. Bray, "to have anything to
do with people of this class. A woman who for hire will take a
new-born baby and sell it to a beggar-woman will not stop at anything.
It is very unfortunate that you are mixed up with her."
"I'm indebted to you for the trouble," replied. Mrs. Dinneford,
with considerable asperity of manner. "You ought to have known
something about the woman before employing her in a delicate affair of
"Saints don't hire themselves to put away new-born babies,"
retorted Mrs. Bray, with an ugly gurgle in her throat. "I told you at
the time that she was a bad woman, and have not forgotten your
"What did I answer?"
"That she might be the devil for all you cared!"
"You are mistaken."
"No; I repeat your very words. They surprised and shocked me at the
time, and I have not forgotten them. People who deal with the devil
usually have the devil to pay; and your case, it seems, is not to be
Mrs. Bray had assumed an air of entire equality with her visitor.
A long silence followed, during which Mrs. Dinneford walked the
floor with the quick, restless motions of a caged animal.
"How long do you think two hundred dollars will satisfy her?" she
asked, at length, pausing and turning to her companion.
"It is impossible for me to say," was answered; "not long, unless
you can manage to frighten her off; you must threaten hard."
Another silence followed.
"I did not expect to be called on for so large a sum," Mrs.
Dinneford said at length, in a husky voice, taking out her
pocket-book as she spoke. "I have only a hundred dollars with me.
Give her that, and put her off until to-morrow."
"I will do the best I can with her," replied Mrs. Bray, reaching
out her hand for the money, "but I think it will be safer for you to
let me have the balance to-day. She will, most likely, take it into
her head that I have received the whole sum from you, and think I am
trying to cheat her. In that case she will be as good as her word,
and come down on you."
"Mrs. Bray!" exclaimed Mrs. Dinneford, suspicion blazing from her
eyes. "Mrs. Bray!"—and she turned upon her and caught her by the
arms with a fierce grip—"as I live, you are deceiving me. There is
no woman but yourself. You are the vampire!"
She held the unresisting little woman in her vigorous grasp for
some moments, gazing at her in stern and angry accusation.
Mrs. Bray stood very quit and with scarcely a change of countenance
until this outburst of passion had subsided. She was still holding
the money she had taken from Mrs. Dinneford. As the latter released
her she extended her hand, saying, in a low resolute voice, in which
not the faintest thrill of anger could be detected,
"Take your money." She waited for a moment, and then let the little
roll of bank-bills fall at Mrs. Dinneford's feet and turned away.
Mrs. Dinneford had made a mistake, and she saw it—saw that she was
now more than ever in the power of this woman, whether she was true
or false. If false, more fatally in her power.
At this dead-lock in the interview between these women there came a
diversion. The sound of feet was heard on the stairs, then a hurrying
along the narrow passage; a hand was on the door, but the key had been
prudently turned on the inside.
With a quick motion, Mrs. Bray waved her hand toward the adjoining
chamber. Mrs. Dinneford did not hesitate, but glided in noiselessly,
shutting and locking the door behind her.
"Pinky Swett!" exclaimed Mrs. Bray, in a low voice, putting her
finger to her lips, as she admitted her visitor, at the same time
giving a warning glance toward the other room. Eyeing her from head
to foot, she added, "Well, you are an object!"
Pinky had drawn aside a close veil, exhibiting a bruised and
swollen face. A dark band lay under one of her eyes, and there was a
cut with red, angry margins on the cheek.
"You are an object," repeated Mrs. Bray as Pinky moved forward into
"Well, I am, and no mistake," answered Pinky, with a light laugh.
She had been drinking enough to overcome the depression and
discomfort of her feelings consequent on the hard usage she had
received and a night in one of the city station-houses. "Who's in
Mrs. Bray's finger went again to her lips. "No matter," was
replied. "You must go away until the coast is clear. Come back in half
And she hurried Pinky out of the door, locking it as the girl
retired. When Mrs. Dinneford came out of the room into which he had
gone so hastily, the roll of bank-notes still lay upon the floor.
Mrs. Bray had prudently slipped them into her pocket before admitting
Pinky, but as soon as she was alone had thrown them down again.
The face of Mrs. Dinneford was pale, and exhibited no ordinary
signs of discomfiture and anxiety.
"Who was that?" she asked.
"A friend," replied Mrs. Bray, in a cold, self-possessed manner.
A few moments of embarrassed silence followed. Mrs. Bray crossed
the room, touching with her foot the bank-bills, as if they were of no
account to her.
"I am half beside myself," said Mrs. Dinneford.
Mrs. Bray made no response, did not even turn toward her visitor.
"I spoke hastily."
"A vampire!" Mrs. Bray swept round upon her fiercely. "A
blood-sucker!" and she ground her teeth in well-feigned passion.
Mrs. Dinneford sat down trembling.
"Take your money and go," said Mrs. Bray, and she lifted the bills
from the floor and tossed them into her visitor's lap. "I am served
right. It was evil work, and good never comes of evil."
But Mrs. Dinneford did not stir. To go away at enmity with this
woman was, so far as she could see, to meet exposure and unutterable
disgrace. Anything but that.
"I shall leave this money, trusting still to your good offices,"
she said, at length, rising. Her manner was much subdued. "I spoke
hastily, in a sort of blind desperation. We should not weigh too
carefully the words that are extorted by pain or fear. In less than
an hour I will send you a hundred dollars more."
Mrs. Dinneford laid the bank-bills on a table, and then moved to
the door, but she dared not leave in this uncertainty. Looking back,
she said, with an appealing humility of voice and manner foreign to
"Let us be friends still, Mrs. Bray; we shall gain nothing by being
enemies. I can serve you, and you can serve me. My suspicions were
ill founded. I felt wild and desperate, and hardly knew what I was
She stood anxiously regarding the little dark-eyed woman, who did
not respond by word or movement.
Taking her hand from the door she was about opening, Mrs. Dinneford
came back into the room, and stood close to Mrs. Bray:
"Shall I send you the money?"
"You can do as you please," was replied, with chilling
"Are you implacable?"
"I am not used to suspicion, much less denunciation and assault. A
vampire! Do you know what that means?"
"It meant, as used by me, only madness. I did not know what I was
saying. It was a cry of pain—nothing more. Consider how I stand, how
much I have at stake, in what a wretched affair I have become
involved. It is all new to me, and I am bewildered and at fault. Do
not desert me in this crisis. I must have some one to stand between
me and this woman; and if you step aside, to whom can I go?"
Mrs. Bray relented just a little. Mrs. Dinneford pleaded and
humiliated herself, and drifted farther into the toils of her
"You are not rich, Mrs. Bray," she said, at parting, "independent
in spirit as you are. I shall add a hundred dollars for your own use;
and if ever you stand in need, you will know where to find an
Mrs. Bray put up her hands, and replied, "No, no, no; don't think
of such a thing. I am not mercenary. I never serve a friend for
But Mrs. Dinneford heard the "yes" which flushed into the voice
that said "no." She was not deceived.
A rapid change passed over Mrs. Bray on the instant her visitor
left the room. Her first act was to lock the door; her next, to take
the roll of bank-bills from the table and put it into her pocket. Over
her face a gleam of evil satisfaction had swept.
"Got you all right now, my lady!" fell with a chuckle from her
lips. "A vampire, ha!" The chuckle was changed for a kind of hiss.
"Well, have it so. There is rich blood in your veins, and it will be
no fault of mine if I do not fatten upon it. As for pity, you shall
have as much of it as you gave to that helpless baby. Saints don't
work in this kind of business, and I'm not a saint."
And she chuckled and hissed and muttered to herself, with many
signs of evil satisfaction.
FOR an hour Mrs. Bray waited the reappearance of Pinky
Swett, but the girl did not come back. At the end of this time a
package which had been left at the door was brought to her room. It
came from Mrs. Dinneford, and contained two hundred dollars. A note
that accompanied the package read as follows:
"Forgive my little fault of temper. It is your interest to be my
friend. The woman must not, on any account, be suffered to come near
Of course there was no signature. Mrs. Bray's countenance was
radiant as she fingered the money.
"Good luck for me, but bad for the baby," she said, in a low,
pleased murmur, talking to herself. "Poor baby! I must see better to
its comfort. It deserves to be looked after. I wonder why Pinky
Mrs. Bray listened, but no sound of feet from the stairs or
entries, no opening or shutting of doors, broke the silence that
reigned through the house.
"Pinky's getting too low down—drinks too much; can't count on her
any more." Mrs. Bray went on talking to herself. "No rest; no quiet;
never satisfied; for ever knocking round, and for ever getting the
worst of it. She was a real nice girl once, and I always liked her.
But she doesn't take any care of herself."
As Pinky went out, an hour before, she met a fresh-looking girl,
not over seventeen, and evidently from the country. She was standing
on the pavement, not far from the house in which Mrs. Bray lived, and
had a traveling-bag in her hand. Her perplexed face and uncertain
manner attracted Pinky's attention.
"Are you looking for anybody?" she asked.
"I'm trying to find a Mrs. Bray," the girl answered. "I'm a
stranger from the country."
"Oh, you are?" said Pinky, drawing her veil more tightly so that
her disfigured face could not be seen.
"Yes I'm from L——."
"Indeed? I used to know some people there."
"Then you've been in L——?" said the girl, with a pleased,
trustful manner, as of one who had met a friend at the right time.
"Yes, I've visited there."
"Indeed? Who did you know in L——?"
"Are you acquainted with the Cartwrights?"
"I know of them. They are among our first people," returned the
"I spent a week in their family a few years ago, and had a very
pleasant time," said Pinky.
"Oh, I'm glad to know that," remarked the girl. "I'm a stranger
here; and if I can't find Mrs. Bray, I don't see what I am to do. A
lady from here who was staying at the hotel gave me at letter to Mrs.
Bray. I was living at the hotel, but I didn't like it; it was too
public. I told the lady that I wanted to learn a trade or get into a
store, and she said the city was just the place for me, and that she
would give me a letter to a particular friend, who would, on her
recommendation, interest he self for me. It's somewhere along here
that she lived, I'm sure;" and she took a letter from her pocket and
examined the direction.
The girl was fresh and young and pretty, and had an artless,
confiding manner. It was plain she knew little of the world, and
nothing of its evils and dangers.
"Let me see;" and Pinky reached out her hand for the letter. She
put it under her veil, and read,
"MRS. FANNY BRAY, "No. 631——street, "——
"By the hand of Miss Flora Bond."
"Flora Bond," said Pinky, in a kind, familiar tone.
"Yes, that is my name," replied the girl; "isn't this——street?"
"Yes; and there, is the number you are looking for."
"Oh, thank you! I'm so glad to find the place. I was beginning to
"I will ring the bell for you," said Pinky, going to the door of
No. 631. A servant answered the summons.
"Is Mrs. Bray at home?" inquired Pinky.
"I don't know," replied the servant, looking annoyed. "Her rooms
are in the third story;" and she held the door wide open for them to
enter. As they passed into the hall Pinky said to her companion,
"Just wait here a moment, and I will run up stairs and see if she
The girl stood in the hall until Pinky came back.
"Not at home, I'm sorry to say."
"Oh dear! that's bad; what shall I do?" and the girl looked
"She'll be back soon, no doubt," said Pinky, in a light, assuring
voice. "I'll go around with you a little and see things."
The girl looked down at her traveling-bag.
"Oh, that's nothing; I'll help you to carry it;" and Pinky took it
from her hand.
"Couldn't we leave it here?" asked Flora.
"It might not be safe; servants are not always to be trusted, and
Mrs. Bray's rooms are locked; we can easily carry it between us. I'm
strong—got good country blood in my veins. You see I'm from the
country as well as you; right glad we met. Don't know what you would
And she drew the girl out, talking familiarly, as they went.
"Haven't had your dinner yet?"
"No; just arrived in the cars, and came right here."
"You must have something to eat, then. I know a nice place; often
get dinner there when I'm out."
The girl did not feel wholly at ease. She had not yet been able to
get sight of Pinky's closely-veiled features, and there was something
in her voice that made her feel uncomfortable.
"I don't care for any dinner," she said; "I'm not hungry."
"Well, I am, then, so come. Do you like oysters?"
"Cook them splendidly. Best place in the city. And you'd like to
get into a store or learn a trade?"
"What trade did you think of?"
"None in particular."
"How would you like to get into a book-bindery? I know two or three
girls in binderies, and they can make from five to ten dollars a
week. It's the nicest, cleanest work I know of."
"Oh, do you?" returned Flora, with newly-awakening interest.
"Yes; we'll talk it all over while we're eating dinner. This way."
And Pinky turned the corner of a small street that led away from
the more crowded thoroughfare along which they had been passing.
"It's a quiet and retired place, where only the nicest kind of
people go," she added. "Many working-girls and girls in stores get
their dinners there. We'll meet some of them, no doubt; and if any
that I know should happen in, we might hear of a good place. Just the
thing, isn't it? I'm right glad I met you."
They had gone halfway down the square, when Pinky stopped before
the shop of a confectioner. In the window was a display of cakes, pies
and candies, and a sign with the words, "LADIES' RESTAURANT."
"This is the place," she said, and opening the door, passed in, the
young stranger following.
A sign of caution, unseen by Flora, was made to a girl who stood
behind the counter. Then Pinky turned, saying,
"How will you have your oysters? stewed, fried, broiled or
"I'm not particular—any way," replied Flora.
"I like them fried. Will you have them the same way?"
Flora nodded assent.
"Let them be fried, then. Come, we'll go up stairs. Anybody there?"
"Two or three only."
"Any girls from the bindery?"
"Yes; I think so."
"Oh. I'm glad of that! Want to see some of them. Come, Miss Bond."
And Pinky, after a whispered word to the attendant, led the way to
a room up stairs in which were a number of small tables. At one of
these were two girls eating, at another a girl sitting by herself,
and at another a young man and a girl. As Pinky and her companion
entered, the inmates of the room stared at them familiarly, and then
winked and leered at each other. Flora did not observe this, but she
felt a sudden oppression and fear. They sat down at a table not far
from one of the windows. Flora looked for the veil to be removed, so
that she might see the face of her new friend. But Pinky kept it
In about ten minutes the oysters were served. Accompanying them
were two glasses of some kind of liquor. Floating on one of these was
a small bit of cork. Pinky took this and handed the other to her
"Only a weak sangaree. It will refresh you after your fatigue; and
I always like something with oysters, it helps to make them lay
lighter on the stomach."
Meantime, one of the girls had crossed over and spoken to Pinky.
After word or two, the latter said,
"Don't you work in a bindery, Miss Peter?"
"Yes," was answered, without hesitation.
"I thought so. Let me introduce you to my friend, Miss Flora Bond.
She's from the country, and wants to get into some good
establishment. She talked about a store, but I think a bindery is
"A great deal better," was replied by Miss Peter. "I've tried them
both, and wouldn't go back to a store again on any account. If I can
serve your friend, I shall be most happy."
"Thank you!" returned Flora; "you are very kind."
"Not at all; I'm always glad when I can be of service to any one.
You think you'd like to go into a bindery?"
"Yes. I've come to the city to get employment, and haven't much
"There's no place like the city," remarked the other. "I'd die in
the country—nothing going on. But you won't stagnate here. When did
"Have you friends here?"
"No. I brought a letter of introduction to a lady who resides in
"What's her name?"
Miss Peter turned her head so that Flora could not see her face. It
was plain from its expression that she knew Mrs. Bray.
"Have you seen her yet?" she asked.
"No. She was out when I called. I'm going back in a little while."
The girl sat down, and went on talking while the others were
eating. Pinky had emptied her glass of sangaree before she was half
through with her oysters, and kept urging Flora to drink.
"Don't be afraid of it, dear," she said, in a kind, persuasive way;
"there's hardly a thimbleful of wine in the whole glass. It will
soothe your nerves, and make you feel ever so much better."
There was something in the taste of the sangaree that Flora did not
like—a flavor that was not of wine. But urged repeatedly by her
companion, whose empty glass gave her encouragement and confidence,
she sipped and drank until she had taken the whole of it. By this
time she was beginning to have a sense of fullness and confusion in
the head, and to feel oppressed and uncomfortable. Her appetite
suddenly left her, and she laid down her knife and fork and leaned
her head upon her hand.
"What's the matter?" asked Pinky.
"Nothing," answered the girl; "only my head feels a little
strangely. It will pass off in a moment."
"Riding in the cars, maybe," said Pinky. "I always feel bad after
being in the cars; it kind of stirs me up."
Flora sat very quietly at the table, still resting her head upon
her hands. Pinky and the girl who had joined them exchanged looks of
intelligence. The former had drawn her veil partly aside, yet
concealing as much as possible the bruises on her face.
"My! but you're battered!" exclaimed Miss Peter, in a whisper that
was unheard by Flora.
Pinky only answered by a grimace. Then she said to Flora, with
"I'm afraid you are ill, dear? How do you feel?"
"I don't know," answered the poor girl, in a voice that betrayed
great anxiety, if not alarm. "It came over me all at once. I'm afraid
that wine was too strong; I am not used to taking anything."
"Oh dear, no! it wasn't that. I drank a glass, and don't feel it
any more than if it had been water."
"Let's go," said Flora, starting up. "Mrs. Bray must be home by
"All right, if you feel well enough," returned Pinky, rising at the
"Oh dear! how my head swims!" exclaimed Flora, putting both hands
to her temples. She stood for a few moments in an uncertain attitude,
then reached out in a blind, eager way.
Pinky drew quickly to her side, and put one arm about her waist.
"Come," she said, "the air is too close for you here;" and with the
assistance of the girl who had joined them, she steadied Flora down
"Doctored a little too high," whispered Miss Peter, with her mouth
close to Pinky's ear.
"All right," Pinky whispered back; "they know how to do it."
At the foot of the stairs Pinky said,
"You take her out through the yard, while I pay for the oysters.
I'll be with you in a moment."
Poor Flora, was already too much confused by the drugged liquor she
had taken to know what they were doing with her.
Hastily paying for the oysters and liquor, Pinky was on hand in a
few moments. From the back door of the house they entered a small
yard, and passed from this through a gate into a narrow private alley
shut in on each side by a high fence. This alley ran for a
considerable distance, and had many gates opening into it from yards,
hovels and rear buildings, all of the most forlorn and wretched
character. It terminated in a small street.
Along this alley Pinky and the girl she had met at the restaurant
supported Flora, who was fast losing strength and consciousness. When
halfway down, they held a brief consultation.
"It won't do," said Pinky, "to take her through to——street. She's
too far gone, and the police will be down on us and carry her off."
"Norah's got some place in there," said the other, pointing to an
old wooden building close by.
"I'm out with Norah," replied Pinky, "and don't mean to have
anything more to do with her."
"Where's your room?"
"That isn't the go. Don't want her there. Pat Maley's cellar is
just over yonder. We can get in from the alley."
"Pat's too greedy a devil. There wouldn't be anything left of her
when he got through. No, no, Pinky; I'll have nothing to do with it
if she's to go into Pat Maley's cellar."
"Not much to choose between 'em," answered Pinky. "But it won't do
to parley here. We must get her in somewhere."
And she pushed open a gate as she spoke. It swung back on one hinge
and struck the fence with a bang, disclosing a yard that beggared
description in its disorder and filth. In the back part of this yard
was a one-and-a-half-story frame building, without windows, looking
more like an old chicken-house or pig-stye than a place for human
beings to live in. The loft over the first story was reached by
ladder on the outside. Above and below the hovel was laid off in kind
of stalls or bunks furnished with straw. There were about twenty of
these. It was a ten-cent lodging-house, filled nightly. If this
wretched hut or stye—call it what you will—had been torn down, it
would not have brought ten dollars as kindling-wood. Yet its owner, a
gentleman (?) living handsomely up town, received for it the annual
rent of two hundred and fifty dollars. Subletted at an average of two
dollars a night, it gave an income of nearly seven hundred dollars a
year. It was known as the "Hawk's Nest," and no bird of prey ever had
a fouler nest than this.
As the gate banged on the fence a coarse, evil-looking man, wearing
a dirty Scotch cap and a red shirt, pushed his head up from the
cellar of the house that fronted on the street.
"What's wanted?" he asked, in a kind of growl, his upper lip
twitching and drawing up at one side in a nervous way, letting his
"We want to get this girl in for a little while," said Pinky.
"We'll take her away when she comes round. Is anybody in there?" and
she pointed to the hovel.
The man shook his head.
"How much?" asked Pinky.
"Ten cents apiece;" and he held out his hand.
Pinky gave him thirty cents. He took a key from his pocket, and
opened the door that led into the lower room. The stench that came
out as the door swung back was dreadful. But poor Flora Bond was by
this time so relaxed in every muscle, and so dead to outward things,
that it was impossible to get her any farther. So they bore her into
this horrible den, and laid her down in one of the stalls on a bed of
loose straw. Inside, there was nothing but these stalls and straw—not
a table or chair, or any article of furniture. They filled up nearly
the entire room, leaving only a narrow passage between them. The only
means of ventilation was by the door.
As soon as Pinky and her companion in this terrible wickedness were
alone with their victim, they searched her pocket for the key of her
traveling-bag. On finding it, Pinky was going to open it, when the
"Never mind about that; we can examine her baggage in safer place.
Let's go for the movables."
And saying this, she fell quickly to work on the person of Flora,
slipping out the ear-rings first, then removing her breast-pin and
finger-rings, while Pinky unbuttoned the new gaiter boots, and drew
off both boots and stockings, leaving upon the damp straw the small,
bare feet, pink and soft almost as a baby's.
It did not take these harpies five minutes to possess themselves of
everything but the poor girl's dress and undergarments. Cloth
oversack, pocket-book, collar, linen cuffs, hat, shoes and
stockings—all these were taken.
"Hallo!" cried the keeper of this foul den as the two girls hurried
out with the traveling-bag and a large bundle sooner than he had
expected; and he came quickly forth from the cellar in which he lived
like a cruel spider and tried to intercept them, but they glided
through the gate and were out of his reach before he could get near.
He could follow them only with obscene invectives and horrible oaths.
Well he knew what had been done—that there had been a robbery in the
"Hawk's Nest," and he not in to share the booty.
Growling like a savage dog, this wretch, in whom every instinct of
humanity had long since died—this human beast, who looked on
innocence and helplessness as a wolf looks upon a lamb—strode across
the yard and entered the den. Lying in one of the stalls upon the
foul, damp straw he found Flora Bond. Cruel beast that he was, even he
felt himself held back as by an invisible hand, as he looked at the
pure face of the insensible girl. Rarely had his eyes rested on a
countenance so full of innocence. But the wolf has no pity for the
lamb, nor the hawk for the dove. The instinct of his nature quickly
Avarice first. From the face his eyes turned to see what had been
left by the two girls. An angry imprecation fell from his lips when
he saw how little remained for him. But when he lifted Flora's head
and unbound her hair, a gleam of pleasure came info his foul face. It
was a full suit of rich chestnut brown, nearly three feet long, and
fell in thick masses over her breast and shoulders. He caught it up
eagerly, drew it through his great ugly hands, and gloated over it
with something of a miser's pleasure as he counts his gold. Then
taking a pair of scissors from his pocket, he ran them over the
girl's head with the quickness and skill of a barber, cutting close
down, that he might not lose even the sixteenth part of an inch of
her rich tresses. An Indian scalping his victim could not have shown
more eagerness. An Indian's wild pleasure was in his face as he
lifted the heavy mass of brown hair and held it above his head. It
was not a trophy—not a sign of conquest and triumph over an
enemy—but simply plunder, and had a market value of fifteen or
The dress was next examined; it was new, but not of a costly
material. Removing this, the man went out with his portion of the
spoils, and locked the door, leaving the half-clothed, unconscious
girl lying on the damp, filthy straw, that swarmed with vermin. It
was cold as well as damp, and the chill of a bleak November day began
creeping into her warm blood. But the stupefying draught had been well
compounded, and held her senses locked.
Of what followed we cannot write, and we shiver as we draw a veil
over scenes that should make the heart of all Christendom
ache—scenes that are repeated in thousands of instances year by year
in our large cities, and no hand is stretched forth to succor and no
arm to save. Under the very eyes of the courts and the churches things
worse than we have described—worse than the reader can imagine—are
done every day. The foul dens into which crime goes freely, and into
which innocence is betrayed, are known to the police, and the evil
work that is done is ever before them. From one victim to another
their keepers pass unquestioned, and plunder, debauch, ruin and murder
with an impunity frightful to contemplate. As was said by a
distinguished author, speaking of a kindred social enormity, "There is
not a country throughout the earth on which a state of things like
this would not bring a curse. There is no religion upon earth that it
would not deny; there is no people on earth that it would not put to
And we are Christians!
No. Of what followed we cannot write. Those who were near the
"Hawk's Nest" heard that evening, soon after nightfall, the single
wild, prolonged cry of a woman. It was so full of terror and despair
that even the hardened ears that heard it felt a sudden pain. But
they were used to such things in that region, and no one took the
trouble to learn what it meant. Even the policeman moving on his beat
stood listening for only a moment, and then passed on.
Next day, in the local columns of a city paper, appeared the
"FOUL PLAY.—About eleven o'clock last night the body of a
beautiful young girl, who could not have been over seventeen years of
age, was discovered lying on the pavement in——street. No one knew
how she came there. She was quite dead when found. There was nothing
by which she could be identified. All her clothes but a single
undergarment had been removed, and her hair cut off close to her
head. There were marks of brutal violence on her person. The body was
placed in charge of the coroner, who will investigate the matter."
On the day after, this paragraph appeared:
"SUSPICION OF FOUL PLAY.—The coroner's inquest elicited nothing in
regard to the young girl mentioned yesterday as having been found
dead and stripped of her clothing in——street. No one was able to
identify her. A foul deed at which the heart shudders has been done;
but the wretches by whom it was committed have been able to cover
And that was the last of it. The whole nation gives a shudder of
fear at the announcement of an Indian massacre and outrage. But in
all our large cities are savages more cruel and brutal in their
instincts than the Comanches, and they torture and outrage and murder
a hundred poor victims for every one that is exposed to Indian
brutality, and there comes no succor. Is it from ignorance of the
fact? No, no, no! There is not a Judge on the bench, not a lawyer at
the bar, not a legislator at the State capital, not a mayor or
police-officer, not a minister who preaches the gospel of Christ, who
came to seek and to save, not an intelligent citizen, but knows of all
What then? Who is responsible? The whole nation arouses itself at
news of an Indian assault upon some defenseless frontier settlement,
and the general government sends troops to succor and to punish. But
who takes note of the worse than Indian massacres going on daily and
nightly in the heart of our great cities? Who hunts down and punishes
the human wolves in our midst whose mouths are red with the blood of
innocence? Their deeds of cruelty outnumber every year a hundred—nay,
a thousand—fold the deeds of our red savages. Their haunts are known,
and their work is known. They lie in wait for the unwary, they gather
in the price of human souls, none hindering, at our very church doors.
Is no one responsible for all this? Is there no help? Is evil stronger
than good, hell stronger than heaven? Have the churches nothing to do
in this matter? Christ came to seek and to save that which was
lost—came to the lowliest, the poorest and the vilest, to those over
whom devils had gained power, and cast out the devils. Are those who
call themselves by his name diligent in the work to which he put his
blessed hands? Millions of dollars go yearly into magnificent
churches, but how little to the work of saving and succoring the weak,
the helpless, the betrayed, the outcast and the dying, who lie uncared
for at the mercy of human fiends, and often so near to the temples of
God that their agonized appeals for help are drowned by the organ and
THE two girls, on leaving the "Hawk's Nest" with their
plunder, did not pass from the narrow private alley into the small
street at its termination, but hurried along the way they had come,
and re-entered the restaurant by means of the gate opening into the
yard. Through the back door they gained a small, dark room, from
which a narrow stairway led to the second and third stories of the
rear building. They seemed to be entirely familiar with the place.
On reaching the third story, Pinky gave two quick raps and then a
single rap on a closed door. No movement being heard within, she
rapped again, reversing the order—that is, giving one distinct rap,
and then two in quick succession. At this the door came slowly open,
and the two girls passed in with their bundle of clothing and the
The occupant of this room was a small, thin, well-dressed man, with
cold, restless gray eyes and the air of one who was alert and
suspicious. His hair was streaked with gray, as were also his full
beard and moustache. A diamond pin of considerable value was in his
shirt bosom. The room contained but few articles. There was a worn
and faded carpet on the floor, a writing-table and two or three
chairs, and a small bookcase with a few books, but no evidence
whatever of business—not a box or bundle or article of merchandise
was to be seen.
As the two girls entered he, shut the door noiselessly, and turned
the key inside. Then his manner changed; his eyes lighted, and there
was an expression of interest in his face. He looked toward the bag
Pinky sat down upon the floor and hurriedly unlocked the
traveling-bag. Thrusting in her hand, she drew out first a muslin
nightgown and threw it down, then a light shawl, a new barege dress,
a pair of slippers, collars, cuffs, ribbons and a variety of
underclothing, and last of all a small Bible and a prayer-book. These
latter she tossed from her with a low derisive laugh, which was echoed
by her companion, Miss Peter.
The bundle was next opened, and the cloth sacque, the hat, the
boots and stockings and the collar and cuffs thrown upon the floor
with the contents of the bag.
"How much?" asked Pinky, glancing up at the man.
They were the first words that had been spoken. At this the man
knit his brows in an earnest way, and looked business. He lifted each
article from the floor, examined it carefully and seemed to be making
a close estimate of its value. The traveling-bag was new, and had cost
probably five dollars. The cloth sacque could not have been made for
less than twelve dollars. A fair valuation of the whole would have
been near forty dollars.
"How much?" repeated Pinky, an impatient quiver in her voice.
"Six dollars," replied the man.
"Six devils!" exclaimed Pinky, in a loud, angry voice.
"Six devils! you old swindler!" chimed in Miss Peter.
"You can take them away. Just as you like," returned the man, with
cool indifference. "Perhaps the police will give you more. It's the
best I can do."
"But see here, Jerkin," said Pinky: "that sacque is worth twice the
"Not to me. I haven't a store up town. I can't offer it for sale in
the open market. Don't you understand?"
"Say ten dollars."
"Here's a breast-pin and a pair of ear-rings," said Miss Peter;
"we'll throw them in;" and she handed Jerkin, as he was called, the
bits of jewelry she had taken from the person of Flora Bond. He
looked at them almost contemptuously as he replied,
"Wouldn't give you a dollar for the set."
"Say eight dollars for the whole," urged Pinky.
"Six fifty, and not a cent more," answered Jerkin.
"Hand over, then, you old cormorant!" returned the girl, fretfully.
"It's a shame to swindle us in this way."
The man took out his pocket-book and paid the money, giving half to
each of the girls.
"It's just a swindle!" repeated Pinky. "You're an old hard-fisted
money-grubber, and no better than a robber. Three dollars and a
quarter for all that work! It doesn't pay for the trouble. We ought
to have had ten apiece."
"You can make it ten or twenty, or maybe a hundred, if you will,"
said Jerkin, with a knowing twinkle in his eyes. He gave his thumb a
little movement over his shoulder as he spoke.
"That's so!" exclaimed Pinky, her manner undergoing a change, and
her face growing bright—at least as much of it as could brighten.
"Look here, Nell," speaking to Miss Peter, and drawing a piece of
paper from her pocket, "I've got ten rows here. Fanny Bray gave me
five dollars to go a half on each row. Meant to have gone to Sam
McFaddon's last night, but got into a muss with old Sal and Norah,
and was locked up."
"They make ten hits up there to one at Sam McFaddon's," said
Jerkin, again twitching his thumb over his shoulder. "It's the
luckiest office I ever heard of. Two or three hits every day for a
week past—got a lucky streak, somehow. If you go in anywhere, take my
advice and go in there," lifting his hand and twitching his thumb
upward and over his shoulder again.
The two girls passed from the room, and the door was shut and
locked inside. No sooner had they done so than Jerkin made a new
examination of the articles, and after satisfying himself as to their
value proceeded to put them out of sight. Lifting aside a screen that
covered the fireplace, he removed from the chimney back, just above
the line of sight, a few loose bricks, and through the hole thus made
thrust the articles he had bought, letting them drop into a fireplace
on the other side.
On leaving the room of this professional receiver of stolen goods,
Pinky and her friend descended to the second story, and by a door
which had been cut through into the adjoining property passed to the
rear building of the house next door. They found themselves on a
landing, or little square hall, with a stairway passing down to the
lower story and another leading to the room above. A number of
persons were going up and coming down—a forlorn set, for the most
part, of all sexes, ages and colors. Those who were going up appeared
eager and hopeful, while those who were coming down looked
disappointed, sorrowful, angry or desperate. There was a "policy
shop" in one of the rooms above, and these were some of its miserable
customers. It was the hour when the morning drawings of the lotteries
were received at the office, or "shop," and the poor infatuated dupes
who had bet on their favorite "rows" were crowding in to learn the
Poor old men and women in scant or wretched clothing, young girls
with faces marred by evil, blotched and bloated creatures of both
sexes, with little that was human in their countenances, except the
bare features, boys and girls not yet in their teens, but old in vice
and crime, and drunkards with shaking nerves,—all these were going up
in hope and coming down in disappointment. Here and there was one of a
different quality, a scantily-dressed woman with a thin, wasted face
and hollow eyes, who had been fighting the wolf and keeping fast hold
of her integrity, or a tender, innocent-looking girl, the messenger of
a weak and shiftless mother, or a pale, bright-eyed boy whose
much-worn but clean and well-kept garments gave sad evidence of a home
out of which prop and stay had been removed. The strong and the weak,
the pure and the defiled, were there. A poor washerwoman who in a
moment of weakness has pawned the garments entrusted to her care, that
she might venture upon a "row" of which she had dreamed, comes
shrinking down with a pale, frightened face, and the bitterness of
despair in her heart. She has lost. What then? She has no friend from
whom she can borrow enough money to redeem the clothing, and if it is
not taken home she may be arrested as a thief and sent to prison. She
goes away, and temptation lies close at her feet. It is her extremity
and the evil one's opportunity. So far she has kept herself pure, but
the disgrace of a public prosecution and a sentence to prison are
terrible things to contemplate. She is in peril of her soul. God help
Who is this dressed in rusty black garments and closely veiled, who
comes up from the restaurant, one of the convenient and unsuspected
entrances to this robber's den?—for a "policy-shop" is simply a
robbery shop, and is so regarded by the law, which sets a penalty
upon the "writer" and the "backer" as upon other criminals. But who
is this veiled woman in faded mourning garments who comes gliding as
noiselessly as a ghost out from one of the rooms of the restaurant,
and along the narrow entry leading to the stairway, now so thronged
with visitors? Every day she comes and goes, no one seeing her face,
and every day, with rare exceptions, her step is slower and her form
visibly more shrunken when she goes out than when she comes in. She
is a broken-down gentlewoman, the widow of an officer, who left her
at his death a moderate fortune, and quite sufficient for the
comfortable maintenance of herself and two nearly grown-up daughters.
But she had lived at the South, and there acquired a taste for lottery
gambling. During her husband's lifetime she wasted considerable money
in lottery tickets, once or twice drawing small prizes, but like all
lottery dupes spending a hundred dollars for one gained. The thing had
become a sort of mania with her. She thought so much of prizes and
drawn numbers through the day that she dreamed of them all night. She
had a memorandum-book in which were all the combinations she had ever
heard of as taking prizes. It contained page after page of lucky
numbers and fancy "rows," and was oftener in her hand than any other
There being no public sale of lottery tickets in Northern cities,
this weak and infatuated woman found out where some of the
"policy-shops" were kept, and instead of buying tickets, as before,
risked her money on numbers that might or might not come out of the
wheel in lotteries said to be drawn in certain Southern States, but
chiefly in Kentucky. The numbers rarely if ever came out. The chances
were too remote. After her husband's death she began fretting over the
smallness of her income. It was not sufficient to give her daughters
the advantages she desired them to have, and she knew of but one way
to increase it. That way was through the policy-shops. So she gave her
whole mind to this business, with as much earnestness and
self-absorption as a merchant gives himself to trade. She had a
dream-book, gotten up especially for policy buyers, and consulted it
as regularly as a merchant does his price-current or a broker the
sales of stock. Every day she bet on some "row" or series of "rows,"
rarely venturing less than five dollars, and sometimes, when she felt
more than usually confident, laying down a twenty-dollar bill, for the
"hit" when made gave from fifty to two hundred dollars for each dollar
put down, varying according to the nature of the combinations. So the
more faith a policy buyer had in his "row," the larger the venture he
would feel inclined to make.
Usually it went all one way with the infatuated lady. Day after day
she ventured, and day after day she lost, until from hundreds the
sums she was spending had aggregated themselves into thousands. She
changed from one policy-shop to another, hoping for better luck. It
was her business to find them out, and this she was able to do by
questioning some of those whom she met at the shops. One of these was
in a building on a principal street, the second story of which was
occupied by a milliner. It was visited mostly by ladies, who could
pass in from the street, no one suspecting their errand. Another was
in the attic of a house in which were many offices and places of
business, with people going in and coming out all the while, none but
the initiated being in the secret; while another was to be found in
the rear of a photograph gallery. Every day and often twice a day, as
punctually as any man of business, did this lady make her calls at one
and another of these policy-offices to get the drawings or make new
ventures. At remote intervals she would make a "hit;" once she drew
twenty dollars, and once fifty. But for these small gains she had paid
thousands of dollars.
After a "hit" the betting on numbers would be bolder. Once she
selected what was known as a "lucky row," and determined to double on
it until it came out a prize. She began by putting down fifty cents.
On the next day she put down a dollar upon the same combination,
losing, of course, Two dollars were ventured on the next day; and so
she went on doubling, until, in her desperate infatuation, she doubled
for the ninth time, putting down two hundred and fifty-six dollars.
If successful now, she would draw over twenty-five thousand
dollars. There was no sleep for the poor lady during the night that
followed. She walked the floor of her chamber in a state of intense
nervous excitement, sometimes in a condition of high hope and
confidence and sometimes haunted by demons of despair. She sold five
shares of stock on which she had been receiving an annual dividend of
ten per cent., in order to get funds for this desperate gambling
venture, in which over five hundred dollars had now been absorbed.
Pale and nervous, she made her appearance at the breakfast-table on
the next morning, unable to take a mouthful of food. It was in vain
that her anxious daughters urged her to eat.
A little after twelve o'clock she was at the policy-office. The
drawn numbers for the morning were already in. Her combination was 4,
10, 40. With an eagerness that could not be repressed, she caught up
the slip of paper containing the thirteen numbers out of seventy-five,
which purported to have been drawn that morning somewhere in
"Kentucky," and reported by telegraph—caught it up with hands that
shook so violently that she could not read the figures. She had to lay
the piece of paper down upon the little counter before which she
stood, in order that it might be still, so that she could read her
The first drawn number was 4. What a wild leap her heart gave! The
next was 24; the next 8; the next 70; the next 41, and the next 39.
Her heart grew almost still; the pressure as of a great hand was on
her bosom. 10 came next. Two numbers of her row were out. A quiver of
excitement ran through her frame. She caught up the paper, but it
shook as before, so that she could not see the figures. Dashing it
back upon the counter, and holding it down almost violently, she bent
over, with eyes starting from their sockets, and read the line of
figures to the end, then sank over upon the counter with a groan, and
lay there half fainting and too weak to lift herself up. If the 40 had
been there, she would have made a hit of twenty-five thousand dollars.
But the 40 was not there, and this made all the difference.
"Once more," said the policy-dealer, in a tone of encouragement, as
he bent over the miserable woman. Yesterday, 4 came out; to-day, 4,
10; tomorrow will be the lucky chance; 4, 10, 40 will surely be
drawn. I never knew this order to fail. If it had been 10 first, and
then 4, 10, or 10, 4, I would not advise you to go on. But 4, 10, 40
will be drawn to-morrow as sure as fate."
"What numbers did you say? 4, 10, 40?" asked an old man, ragged and
bloated, who came shuffling in as the last remarks was made.
"Yes," answered the dealer. "This lady has been doubling, and as
the chances go, her row is certain to make a hit to-morrow."
"Ha! What's the row? 4, 10, 40?"
The old man fumbled in his pocket, and brought out ten cents.
"I'll go that on the row. Give me a piece."
The dealer took a narrow slip of paper and wrote on it the date,
the sum risked and the combination of figures, and handed it to the
old man, saying,
"Come here to-morrow; and if the bottom of the world doesn't drop
out, you'll find ten dollars waiting for you."
Two or three others were in by this time, eager to look over the
list of drawn numbers and to make new bets.
"Glory!" cried one of them, a vile-looking young woman, and she
commenced dancing about the room.
All was excitement now. "A hit! a hit!" was cried. "How much? how
much?" and they gathered to the little counter and desk of the
"1, 2, 3," cried the girl, dancing about and waving her little slip
of paper over her head. "I knew it would come—dreamed of them
numbers three nights hand running! Hand over the money, old chap!
Fifteen dollars for fifteen cents! That's the go!"
The policy-dealer took the girl's "piece," and after comparing it
with the record of drawn numbers, said, in a pleased voice,
"All right! A hit, sure enough. You're in luck to-day."
The girl took the money, that was promptly paid down, and as she
counted it over the dealer remarked,
"There's a doubling game going on, and it's to be up to-morrow,
"What's the row?" inquired the girl.
"4, 10, 40," said the dealer.
"Then count me in;" and she laid down five dollars on the counter.
"Take my advice and go ten," urged the policy-dealer.
"No, thank you! shouldn't know what to do with more than five
hundred dollars. I'll only go five dollars this time."
The "writer," as a policy-seller is called, took the money and gave
the usual written slip of paper containing the selected numbers;
loudly proclaiming her good luck, the girl then went away. She was an
accomplice to whom a "piece" had been secretly given after the drawn
numbers were in.
Of course this hit was the sensation of the day among the
policy-buyers at that office, and brought in large gains.
The wretched woman who had just seen five hundred dollars vanish
into nothing instead of becoming, as under the wand of an enchanter,
a great heap of gold, listened in a kind of maze to what passed
around her—listened and let the tempter get to her ear again. She
went away, stooping in her gait as one bearing a heavy burden. Before
an hour had passed hope had lifted her again into confidence. She had
to make but one venture more to double on the risk of the day
previous, and secure a fortune that would make both herself and
daughters independent for life.
Another sale of good stocks, another gambling venture and another
loss, swelling the aggregate in this wild and hopeless "doubling"
experiment to over a thousand dollars.
But she was not cured. As regularly as a drunkard goes to the bar
went she to the policy-shops, every day her fortune growing less.
Poverty began to pinch. The house in which she lived with her
daughters was sold, and the unhappy family shrunk into a single room
in a third-rate boarding-house. But their income soon became
insufficient to meet the weekly demand for board. Long before this
the daughters had sought for something to do by which to earn a
little money. Pride struggled hard with them, but necessity was
stronger than pride.
We finish the story in a few words. In a moment of weakness, with
want and hard work staring her in the face, one of the daughters
married a man who broke her heart and buried her in less than two
years. The other, a weak and sickly girl, got a situation as day
governess in the family of an old friend of her father's, where she
was kindly treated, but she lived only a short time after her
And still there was no abatement of the mother's infatuation. She
was more than half insane on the subject of policy gambling, and
confident of yet retrieving her fortunes.
At the time Pinky Swett and her friend in evil saw her come gliding
up from the restaurant in faded mourning garments and closely veiled,
she was living alone in a small, meagrely furnished room, and cooking
her own food.
Everything left to her at her husband's death was gone. She earned
a dollar or two each week by making shirts and drawers for the
slop-shops, spending every cent of this in policies. A few old
friends who pitied her, but did not know of the vice in which she
indulged, paid her rent and made occasional contributions for her
support. All of these contributions, beyond the amount required for a
very limited supply of food, went to the policy-shops. It was a
mystery to her friends how she had managed to waste the handsome
property left by her husband, but no one suspected the truth.
"WHO'S that, I wonder?" asked Nell Peter as the dark,
close-veiled figure glided past them on the stairs.
"Oh, she's a policy-drunkard," answered Pinky, loud enough to be
heard by the woman, who, as if surprised or alarmed, stopped and
turned her head, her veil falling partly away, and disclosing
features so pale and wasted that she looked more like a ghost than
living flesh and blood. There was a strange gleam in her eyes. She
paused only for an instant, but her steps were slower as she went on
climbing the steep and narrow stairs that led to the policy-office.
"Good Gracious, Pinky! did you ever see such a face?" exclaimed
Nell Peter. "It's a walking ghost, I should say, and no woman at all."
"Oh, I've seen lots of 'em," answered Pinky. "She's a
policy-drunkard. Bad as drinking when it once gets hold of 'em. They
tipple all the time, sell anything, beg, borrow, steal or starve
themselves to get money to buy policies. She's one of 'em that's
By this time they had reached the policy-office. It was in a small
room on the third floor of the back building, yet as well known to
the police of the district as if it had been on the front street. One
of these public guardians soon after his appointment through political
influence, and while some wholesome sense of duty and moral
responsibility yet remained, caused the "writer" in this particular
office to be arrested. He thought that he had done a good thing, and
looked for approval and encouragement. But to his surprise and chagrin
he found that he had blundered. The case got no farther than the
alderman's. Just how it was managed he did not know, but it was
managed, and the business of the office went on as before.
A little light came to him soon after, on meeting a prominent
politician to whom he was chiefly indebted for his appointment. Said
this individual, with a look of warning and a threat in his voice,
"See here, my good fellow; I'm told that you've been going out of
your way and meddling with the policy-dealers. Take my advice, and
mind your own business. If you don't. it will be all day with you.
There isn't a man in town strong enough to fight this thing, so you'd
better let it alone."
And he did let it alone. He had a wife and three little children,
and couldn't afford to lose his place. So he minded his own business,
and let it alone.
Pinky and her friend entered this small third-story back room.
Behind a narrow, unpainted counter, having a desk at one end, stood a
middle-aged man, with dark, restless eyes that rarely looked you in
the face. He wore a thick but rather closely-cut beard and moustache.
The police knew him very well; so did the criminal lawyers, when he
happened to come in their way; so did the officials of two or three
State prisons in which he had served out partial sentences. He was too
valuable to political "rings" and associations antagonistic to moral
and social well-being to be left idle in the cell of a penitentiary
for the whole term of a commitment. Politicians have great influence,
and governors are human.
On the walls of the room were pasted a few pictures cut from the
illustrated papers, some of them portraits of leading politicians,
and some of them portraits of noted pugilists and sporting-men. The
picture of a certain judge, who had made himself obnoxious to the
fraternity of criminals by his severe sentences, was turned upside
down. There was neither table nor chair in the room.
The woman in black had passed in just before the girls, and was
waiting her turn to examine the drawn numbers. She had not tasted
food since the day before, having ventured her only dime on a policy,
and was feeling strangely faint and bewildered. She did not have to
wait long. It was the old story. Her combination had not come out, and
she was starving. As she moved back toward the door she staggered a
little. Pinky, who had become curious about her, noticed this, and
watched her as she went out.
"It's about up with the old lady, I guess," she said to her
companion, with an unfeeling laugh.
And she was right. On the next morning the poor old woman was found
dead in her room, and those who prepared her for burial said that she
was wasted to a skeleton. She had, in fact, starved herself in her
infatuation, spending day after day in policies what she should have
spent for food. Pinky's strange remark was but too true. She had
become a policy-drunkard—a vice almost as disastrous in its effects
as its kindred, vice, intemperance, though less brutalizing and less
"Where now?" was the question of Pinky's friend as they came down,
after spending in policies all the money they had received from the
sale of Flora Bond's clothing. "Any other game?"
"Come along to my room, and I'll tell you."
"Round in Ewing street?"
"Yes. Great game up, if I can only get on the track."
"What is it?"
"There's a cast-off baby in Dirty Alley, and Fan Bray knows its
mother, and she's rich."
"Fan's getting lots of hush-money."
"Goody! but that is game!"
"Isn't it? The baby's owned by two beggar-women who board it in
Dirty Alley. It's 'most starved and frozen to death, and Fan's awful
'fraid it may die. She wants me to steal it for her, so that she may
have it better taken care of, and I was going to do it last night,
when I got into a muss."
"Who's the woman that boards it?"
"She lives in a cellar, and is drunk every night. Can steal the
brat easily enough; but if I can't find out who it belongs to, you see
it will be trouble for nothing."
"No, I don't see any such thing," answered Nell Peter. "If you
can't get hush-money out of its mother, you can bleed Fanny Bray."
"That's so, and I'm going to bleed her. The mother, you see, thinks
the baby's dead. The proud old grandmother gave it away, as soon as
was born, to a woman that Fan Bray found for her. Its mother was out
of her head, and didn't know nothing. That woman sold the baby to the
women who keep it to beg with. She's gone up the spout now, and nobody
knows who the mother and grandmother are but Fan, and nobody knows
where the baby is but me and Fan. She's bleeding the old lady, and
promises to share with me if I keep track of the baby and see that it
isn't killed or starved to death. But I don't trust her. She puts me
off with fives and tens, when I'm sure she gets hundreds. Now, if we
have the baby all to ourselves, and find out the mother and
grandmother, won't we have a splendid chance? I'll bet you on that."
"Won't we? Why, Pinky, this is a gold-mine!"
"Didn't I tell you there was great game up? I was just wanting some
one to help me. Met you in the nick of time."
The two girls had now reached Pinky's room in Ewing street, where
they continued in conference for a long time before settling their
"Does Fan know where you live?" queried Nell Peter.
"Then you will have to change your quarters."
"Easily done. Doesn't take half a dozen furniture-cars to move me."
"I know a room."
"It's a little too much out of the way, you'll think, maybe, but
it's just the dandy for hiding in. You cart keep the brat there, and
"Me keep the brat?" interrupted Pinky, with a derisive laugh.
"That's a good one! I see myself turned baby-tender! Ha! ha! that's
"What do you expect to do with the child after you steal it?" asked
"I don't intend to nurse it or have it about me."
"Board if with some one who doesn't get drunk or buy policies."
"You'll hunt for a long time."
"Maybe, but I'll try. Anyhow, it can't be worse off than it is now.
What I'm afraid of is that it will be out of its misery before we can
get hold of it. The woman who is paid for keeping it at night doesn't
give it any milk—just feeds it on bread soaked in water, and that is
slow starvation. It's the way them that don't want to keep their
babies get rid of them about here."
"The game's up if the baby dies," said Nell Peter, growing excited
under this view of the case. "If it only gets bread soaked in water,
it can't live. I've seen that done over and over again. They're
starving a baby on bread and water now just over from my room, and it
cries and frets and moans all the time it's awake, poor little wretch!
I've been in hopes for a week that they'd give it an overdose of
paregoric or something else."
"We must fix it to-night in some way," answered Pinky. "Where's the
room you spoke of?"
"In Grubb's court. You know Grubb's court?—a kind of elbow going
off from Rider's court. There's a room up there that you can get
where even the police would hardly find you out."
"Thieves live there," said Pinky.
"No matter. They'll not trouble you or the baby."
"Is the room furnished?"
"Yes. There's a bed and a table and two chairs."
After farther consultation it was decided that Pinky should move at
once from her present lodgings to the room in Grubb's court, and get,
if possible, possession of the baby that very night. The moving was
easily accomplished after the room was secured. Two small bundles of
clothing constituted Pinky's entire effects; and taking these, the two
girls went quietly out, leaving a week's rent unpaid.
The night that closed this early winter day was raw and cold, the
easterly wind still prevailing, with occasional dashes of rain. In a
cellar without fire, except a few bits of smouldering wood in an old
clay furnace, that gave no warmth to the damp atmosphere, and with
scarcely an article of furniture, a woman half stupid from drink sat
on a heap of straw, her bed, with her hands clasped about her knees.
She was rocking her body backward and forward, and crooning to
herself in a maudlin way. A lighted tallow candle stood on the floor
of the cellar, and near it a cup of water, in which was a spoon and
some bread soaking.
"Mother Hewitt!" called a voice from the cellar door that opened on
the street. "Here, take the baby!"
Mother Hewitt, as she was called, started up and made her way with
an unsteady gait to the front part of the cellar, where a woman in
not much better condition than herself stood holding out a bundle of
rags in which a fretting baby was wrapped.
"Quick, quick!" called the woman. "And see here," she continued as
Mother Hewitt reached her arms for the baby; "I don't believe you're
doing the right thing. Did he have plenty of milk last night and this
"Just as much as he would take."
"I don't believe it. He's been frettin' and chawin' at the strings
of his hood all the afternoon, when he ought to have been asleep, and
he's looking punier every day. I believe you're giving him only bread
But Mother Hewitt protested that she gave him the best of new milk,
and as much as he would take.
"Well, here's a quarter," said the woman, handing Mother Hewitt
some money; "and see that he is well fed to-night and to-morrow
morning. He's getting 'most too deathly in his face. The people won't
stand it if they think a baby's going to die—the women 'specially,
and most of all the young things that have lost babies. One of
these—I know 'em by the way they look out of their eyes—came twice
to-day and stood over him sad and sorrowful like; she didn't give me
anything. I've seen her before. Maybe she's his mother. As like as
nor, for nobody knows where he came from. Wasn't Sally Long's baby;
always thought she'd stole him from somebody. Now, mind, he's to have
good milk every day, or I'll change his boarding-house. D'ye hear!"
And laughing at this sally, the woman turned away to spend in a
night's debauch the money she had gained in half a day's begging.
Left to herself, Mother Hewitt went staggering back with the baby
in her arms, and seated herself on the ground beside the cup of bread
and water, which was mixed to the consistence of cream. As she did so
the light of her poor candle fell on the baby's face. It was pinched
and hungry and ashen pale, the thin lips wrought by want and suffering
into such sad expressions of pain that none but the most stupid and
hardened could look at them and keep back a gush of tears.
But Mother Hewitt saw nothing of this—felt nothing of this. Pity
and tenderness had long since died out of her heart. As she laid the
baby back on one arm she took a spoonful of the mixture prepared for
its supper, and pushed it roughly into its mouth. The baby swallowed
it with a kind of starving eagerness, but with no sign of
satisfaction on its sorrowful little face. But Mother Hewitt was too
impatient to get through with her work of feeding the child, and
thrust in spoonful after spoonful until it choked, when she shook it
angrily, calling it vile names.
The baby cried feebly at this. when she shook it again and slapped
it with her heavy hand. Then it grew still. She put the spoon again
to its lips, but it shut them tightly and turned its head away.
"Very well," said Mother Hewitt. "If you won't, you won't;" and she
tossed the helpless thing as she would have tossed a senseless bundle
over upon the heap of straw that served as a bed, adding, as she did
so, "I never coaxed my own brats."
The baby did not cry. Mother Hewitt then blew out the candle, and
groping her way to the door of the cellar that opened on the street,
went out, shutting down the heavy door behind her, and leaving the
child alone in that dark and noisome den—alone in its foul and wet
garments, but, thanks to kindly drugs, only partially conscious of
Mother Hewitt's first visit was to the nearest dram-shop. Here she
spent for liquor five cents of the money she had received. From the
dram-shop she went to Sam McFaddon's policy-office. This was not
hidden away, like most of the offices, in an upper room or a back
building or in some remote cellar, concealed from public observation,
but stood with open door on the very street, its customers going in
and out as freely and unquestioned as the customers of its next-door
neighbor, the dram-shop. Policemen passed Sam's door a hundred times
in every twenty-four hours, saw his customers going in and out, knew
their errand, talked with Sam about his business, some of them trying
their luck occasionally after there had been an exciting "hit," but
none reporting him or in any way interfering with his unlicensed
plunder of the miserable and besotted wretches that crowded his
From the whisky-shop to the policy-shop went Mother Hewitt. Here
she put down five cents more; she never bet higher than this on a
"row." From the policy-shop she went back to the whisky-shop, and took
another drink. By this time she was beginning to grow noisy. It so
happened that the woman who had left the baby with her a little while
before came in just then, and being herself much the worse for drink,
picked a quarrel with Mother Hewitt, accusing her of getting drunk on
the money she received for keeping the baby, and starving it to death.
A fight was the consequence, in which they were permitted to tear and
scratch and bruise each other in a shocking way, to the great
enjoyment of the little crowd of debased and brutal men and women who
filled the dram-shop. But fearing a visit from the police, the owner
of the den, a strong, coarse Irishman, interfered, and dragging the
women apart, pushed Mother Hewitt out, giving her so violent an
impetus that she fell forward into the middle of the narrow street,
where she lay unable to rise, not from any hurt, but from sheer
"What's up now?" cried one and another as this little ripple of
disturbance broke upon that vile and troubled sea of humanity.
"Only Mother Hewitt drunk again!" lightly spoke a young girl not
out of her teens, but with a countenance that seemed marred by
centuries of debasing evil. Her laugh would have made an angel shiver.
A policeman came along, and stood for a little while looking at the
"It's Mother Hewitt," said one of the bystanders.
"Here, Dick," and the policeman spoke to a man near him. "Take hold
of her feet."
The man did as told, and the policeman lifting the woman's head and
shoulders, they carried her a short distance, to where a gate opened
into a large yard used for putting in carts and wagons at night, and
deposited her on the ground just inside.
"She can sleep it off there," said the policeman as he dropped his
unseemly load. "She'll have a-plenty to keep her company before
And so they left her without covering or shelter in the wet and
chilly air of a late November night, drunk and asleep.
As the little crowd gathered by this ripple of excitement melted
away, a single figure remained lurking in a corner of the yard and
out of sight in its dark shadow. It was that of a man. The moment he
was alone with the unconscious woman he glided toward her with the
alert movements of an animal, and with a quickness that made his work
seem instant, rifled her pockets. His gains were ten cents and the
policy-slip she had just received at Sam McFaddon's. He next examined
her shoes, but they were of no value, lifted her dirty dress and felt
its texture for a moment, then dropped it with a motion of disgust and
a growl of disappointment.
As he came out from the yard with his poor booty, the light from a
street-lamp fell on as miserable a looking wretch as ever hid himself
from the eyes of day—dirty, ragged, bloated, forlorn, with scarcely a
trace of manhood in his swollen and disfigured face. His steps, quick
from excitement a few moments before, were now shambling and made with
difficulty. He had not far to walk for what he was seeking. The
ministers to his appetite were all about him, a dozen in every block
of that terrible district that seemed as if forsaken by God and man.
Into the first that came in his way he went with nervous haste, for he
had not tasted of the fiery stimulant he was craving with a fierce and
unrelenting thirst for many hours. He did not leave the bar until he
had drank as much of the burning poison its keeper dispensed as his
booty would purchase. In less than half an hour he was thrown dead
drunk into the street and then carried by policemen to the old
wagon-yard, to take his night's unconscious rest on the ground in
company with Mother Hewitt and a score besides of drunken wretches who
were pitilessly turned out from the various dram-shops after their
money was spent, and who were not considered by the police worth the
trouble of taking to the station-house.
When Mother Hewitt crept back into her cellar at daylight, the baby
FOR more than a week after Edith's call on Dr. Radcliffe she
seemed to take but little interest in anything, and remained alone in
her room for a greater part of the time, except when her father was in
the house. Since her questions about her baby a slight reserve had
risen up between them. During this time she went out at least once
every day, and when questioned by her mother as to where she had been,
evaded any direct answer. If questioned more closely, she would show a
rising spirit and a decision of manner that had the effect to silence
and at the same time to trouble Mrs. Dinneford, whose mind was
continually on the rack.
One day the mother and daughter met in a part of the city where
neither of them dreamed of seeing the other. It was not far from
where Mrs. Bray lived. Mrs. Dinneford had been there on a purgational
visit, and had come away lighter in purse and with a heavier burden of
fear and anxiety on her heart.
"What are you doing here?" she demanded.
"I've been to St. John's mission sewing-school," replied Edith. "I
have a class there."
"You have! Why didn't you tell me this before? I don't like such
doings. This is no place for you."
"My place is where I can do good," returned Edith, speaking slowly,
but with great firmness.
"Good! You can do good if you want to without demeaning yourself to
work like this. I don't want you mixed up with these low, vile
people, and I won't have it!" Mrs. Dinneford spoke in a sharp,
Edith made no answer, and they walked on together.
"I shall speak to your father about this," said Mrs. Dinneford. "It
isn't reputable. I wouldn't have you seen here for the world."
"I shall walk unhurt; you need not fear," returned Edith.
There was silence between them for some time, Edith not caring to
speak, and her mother in doubt as to what it were best to say.
"How long have you been going to St. John's mission school?" at
length queried Mrs. Dinneford.
"I've been only a few times," replied Edith.
"And have a class of diseased and filthy little wretches, I
"They are God's children," said Edith, in a tone of rebuke.
"Oh, don't preach to me!" was angrily replied.
"I only said what was true," remarked Edith.
There was silence again.
"Are you going directly home?" asked Mrs. Dinneford, after they had
walked the distance of several blocks. Edith replied that she was.
"Then you'd better take that car. I shall not be home for an hour
They separated, Edith taking the car. As soon as she was alone Mrs.
Dinneford quickened her steps, like a person who had been held back
from some engagement. A walk of ten minutes brought her to one of the
principal hotels of the city. Passing in, she went up to a
reception-parlor, where she was met by a man who rose from a seat
near the windows and advanced to the middle of the room. He was of
low stature, with quick, rather nervous movements, had dark, restless
eyes, and wore a heavy black moustache that was liberally sprinkled
with gray. The lower part of his face was shaved clean. He showed some
embarrassment as he came forward to meet Mrs. Dinneford.
"Mr. Feeling," she said, coldly.
The man bowed with a mixture of obsequiousness and familiarity, and
tried to look steadily into Mrs. Dinneford's face, but was not able
to do so. There was a steadiness and power in her eyes that his could
"What do you want with me, sir?" she demanded, a little sharply.
"Take a chair, and I will tell you," replied Freeling, and he
turned, moving toward a corner of the room, she following. They sat
down, taking chairs near each other.
"There's trouble brewing," said the man, his face growing dark and
"What kind of trouble?"
"I had a letter from George Granger yesterday."
"What!" The color went out of the lady's face.
"A letter from George Granger. He wished to see me."
"Did you go?"
"What did he want?"
Freeling took a deep breath, and sighed. His manner was troubled.
"What did he want?" Mrs. Dinneford repeated the question.
"He's as sane as you or I," said Freeling.
"Is he? Oh, very well! Then let him go to the State's prison." Mrs.
Dinneford said this with some bravado in her manner. But the color
did not come back to her face.
"He has no idea of that," was replied.
"What then?" The lady leaned toward Freeling. Her hands moved
"He means to have the case in court again, but on a new issue."
"Yes; says that he's innocent, and that you and I know it—that
he's the victim of a conspiracy, and that we are the conspirators!"
"Talk!—amounts to nothing," returned Mrs. Dinneford, with a faint
"I don't know about that. It's ugly talk, and especially so, seeing
that it's true."
"No one will give credence to the ravings of an insane criminal."
"People are quick to credit an evil report. They will pity and
believe him, now that the worst is reached. A reaction in public
feeling has already taken place. He has one or two friends left who
do not hesitate to affirm that there has been foul play. One of these
has been tampering with a clerk of mine, and I came upon them with
their heads together on the street a few days ago, and had my
suspicions aroused by their startled look when they saw me."
"'What did that man want with you?' I inquired, when the clerk came
"He hesitated a moment, and then replied, 'He was asking me
something about Mr. Granger.'
"'What about him?' I queried. 'He asked me if I knew anything in
regard to the forgery,' he returned.
"I pressed him with questions, and found that suspicion was on the
right track. This friend of Granger's asked particularly about your
visits to the store, and whether he had ever noticed anything
peculiar in our intercourse—anything that showed a familiarity
beyond what would naturally arise between a customer and salesman."
"There's nothing in that," said Mrs. Dinneford. "If you and I keep
our own counsel, we are safe. The testimony of a condemned criminal
goes for nothing. People may surmise and talk as much as they please,
but no one knows anything about those notes but you and I and George."
"A pardon from the governor may put a new aspect on the case."
"A pardon!" There was a tremor of alarm in Mrs. Dinneford's voice.
"Yes; that, no doubt, will be the first move."
"The first move! Why, Mr. Freeling, you don't think anything like
this is in contemplation?"
"I'm afraid so. George, as I have said, is no more crazy than you
or I. But he cannot come out of the asylum, as the case now stands,
without going to the penitentiary. So the first move of his friends
will be to get a pardon. Then he is our equal in the eyes of the law.
It would be an ugly thing for you and me to be sued for a conspiracy
to ruin this young man, and have the charge of forgery added to the
Mrs. Dinneford gave a low cry, and shivered.
"But it may come to that."
"The prudent man foreseeth the evil and hideth himself, but the
simple pass on and are punished," said Freeling. "It is for this that
I have sent for you. It's an ugly business, and I was a weak fool ever
to have engaged in it."
"You were a free agent."
"I was a weak fool."
"As you please," returned Mrs. Dinneford, coldly, and drawing
herself away from him.
It was some moments before either of them spoke again. Then
"I was awake all night, thinking over this matter, and it looks
uglier the more I think of it. It isn't likely that enough evidence
could be found to convict either of us, but to be tried on such an
accusation would be horrible."
"Horrible! horrible!" ejaculated Mrs. Dinneford. "What is to be
done?" She gave signs of weakness and terror. Freeling observed her
closely, then felt his way onward.
"We are in great peril," he said. "There is no knowing what turn
affairs will take. I only wish I were a thousand miles from here. It
would be safer for us both." Then, after a pause, he added, "If I
were foot-free, I would be off to-morrow."
He watched Mrs. Dinneford closely, and saw a change creep over her
"If I were to disappear suddenly," he resumed, "suspicion, if it
took a definite shape, would fall on me. You would not be thought of
in the matter."
He paused again, observing his companion keenly but stealthily. He
was not able to look her fully in the face.
"Speak out plainly," said Mrs. Dinneford, with visible impatience.
"Plainly, then, madam," returned Freeling, changing his whole
bearing toward her, and speaking as one who felt that he was master
of the situation, "it has come to this: I shall have to break up and
leave the city, or there will be a new trial in which you and I will
be the accused. Now, self-preservation is the first law of nature. I
don't mean to go to the State's prison if I can help it. What I am
now debating are the chances in my favor if Granger gets a pardon,
and then makes an effort to drive us to the wall, which he most
surely will. I have settled it so far—"
Mrs. Dinneford leaned toward him with an anxious expression on her
countenance, waiting for the next sentence. But Freeling did not go
"How have you settled it?" she demanded, trembling as she spoke
with the excitement of suspense.
"That I am not going to the wall if I can help it."
"How will you help it?"
"I have an accomplice;" and this time he was able to look at Mrs.
Dinneford with such a fixed and threatening gaze that her eyes fell.
"You have?" she questioned, in a husky voice.
"Mrs. Helen Dinneford. And do you think for a moment that to save
myself I would hesitate to sacrifice her?"
The lady's face grew white. She tried to speak, but could not.
"I am talking plainly, as you desired, madam," continued Freeling.
"You led me into this thing. It was no scheme of mine; and if more
evil consequences are to come, I shall do my best to save my own
head. Let the hurt go to where it rightfully belongs."
"What do you mean?" Mrs. Dinneford tried to rally herself.
"Just this," was answered: "if I am dragged into court, I mean to
go in as a witness, and not as a criminal. At the first movement
toward an indictment, I shall see the district attorney, whom I know
very well, and give him such information in the case as will lead to
fixing the crime on you alone, while I will come in as the principal
witness. This will make your conviction certain."
"Devil!" exclaimed Mrs. Dinneford, her white face convulsed and her
eyes starting from their sockets with rage and fear. "Devil!" she
repeated, not able to control her passion.
"Then you know me," was answered, with cool self-possession, "and
what you have to expect."
Neither spoke for a considerable time. Up to this period they had
been alone in the parlor. Guests of the house now came in and took
seats near them. They arose and walked the floor for a little while,
still in silence, then passed into an adjoining parlor that happened
to be empty, and resumed the conference.
"This is a last resort," remarked Freeling, softening his voice as
they sat down—"a card that I do not wish to play, and shall not if I
can help it. But it is best that you should know that it is in my
hand. If there is any better way of escape, I shall take it."
"You spoke of going away," said Mrs. Dinneford.
"Yes. But that involves a great deal."
"The breaking up of my business, and loss of money and
opportunities that I can hardly hope ever to regain."
"Why loss of money?"
"I shall have to wind up hurriedly, and it will be impossible to
collect more than a small part of my outstanding claims. I shall have
to go away under a cloud, and it will not be prudent to return. Most
of these claims will therefore become losses. The amount of capital I
shall be able to take will not be sufficient to do more than provide
for a small beginning in some distant place and under an assumed name.
On the other hand, if I remain and fight the thing through, as I have
no doubt I can, I shall keep my business and my place in society
here—hurt, it may be, in my good name, but still with the main chance
all right. But it will be hard for you. If I pass the ordeal safely,
you will not. And the question to consider is whether you can make it
to my interest to go away, to drop out of sight, injured in fortune
and good name, while you go unscathed. You now have it all in a
nutshell. I will not press you to a decision to-day. Your mind is too
much disturbed. To-morrow, at noon, I would like to see you again."
Freeling made a motion to rise, but Mrs. Dinneford did not stir.
"Perhaps," he said, "you decide at once to let things take their
course. Understand me, I am ready for either alternative. The
election is with yourself."
Mrs. Dinneford was too much stunned by all this to be able to come
to any conclusion. She seemed in the maze of a terrible dream, full
of appalling reality. To wait for twenty-four hours in this state of
uncertainty was more than her thoughts could endure. And yet she must
have time to think, and to get command of her mental resources.
"Will you be disengaged at five o'clock?" she asked.
"I will be here at five."
Mrs. Dinneford arose with a weary air.
"I shall want to hear from you very explicitly," she said. "If your
demand is anywhere in the range of reason and possibility, I may meet
it. If outside of that range, I shall of course reject it. It is
possible that you may not hold all the winning cards—in fact, I know
that you do not."
"I will be here at five," said Freeling.
"Very well. I shall be on time."
And they turned from each other, passing from the parlor by
ONE morning, about two weeks later, Mr. Freeling did not
make his appearance at his place of business as usual. At ten o'clock
a clerk went to the hotel where he boarded to learn the cause of his
absence. He had not been there since the night before. His trunks and
clothing were all in their places, and nothing in the room indicated
anything more than an ordinary absence.
Twelve o'clock, and still Mr. Freeling had not come to the store.
Two or three notes were to be paid that day, and the managing-clerk
began to feel uneasy. The bank and check books were in a private
drawer in the fireproof of which Mr. Freeling had the key. So there
was no means of ascertaining the balances in bank.
At one o'clock it was thought best to break open the private drawer
and see how matters stood. Freeling kept three bank-accounts, and it
was found that on the day before he had so nearly checked out all the
balances that the aggregate on deposit was not over twenty dollars. In
looking back over these bank-accounts, it was seen that within a week
he had made deposits of over fifty thousand dollars, and that most of
the checks drawn against these deposits were in sums of five thousand
At three o'clock he was still absent. His notes went to protest,
and on the next day his city creditors took possession of his effects.
One fact soon became apparent—he had been paying the rogue's game on
a pretty liberal scale, having borrowed on his checks, from business
friends and brokers, not less than sixty or seventy thousand dollars.
It was estimated, on a thorough examination of his business, that he
had gone off with at least a hundred thousand dollars. To this amount
Mrs. Dinneford had contributed from her private fortune the sum of
twenty thousand dollars. Not until she had furnished him with that
large amount would he consent to leave the city. He magnified her
danger, and so overcame her with terrors that she yielded to his
On the day a public newspaper announcement of Freeling's rascality
was made, Mrs. Dinneford went to bed sick of a nervous fever, and was
for a short period out of her mind.
Neither Mr. Dinneford nor Edith had failed to notice a change in
Mrs. Dinneford. She was not able to hide her troubled feelings. Edith
was watching her far more closely than she imagined; and now that she
was temporarily out of her mind, she did not let a word or look escape
her. The first aspect of her temporary aberration was that of fear and
deprecation. She was pursued by some one who filled her with terror,
and she would lift her hands to keep him off, or hide her head in
abject alarm. Then she would beg him to keep away. Once she said,
"It's no use; I can't do anything more. You're a vampire!"
"Who is a vampire?" asked Edith, hoping that her mother would
repeat some name.
But the question seemed to put her on her guard. The expression of
fear went out of her face, and she looked at her daughter curiously.
Edith did not repeat the question. In a little while the mother's
wandering thoughts began to find words again, and she went on talking
in broken sentences out of which little could be gleaned. At length
she said, turning to Edith and speaking with the directness of one in
her right mind,
"I told you her name was Gray, didn't I? Gray, not Bray."
It was only by a quick and strong effort that Edith could steady
her voice as she replied:
"Yes; you said it was Gray."
"Gray, not Bray. You thought it was Bray."
"But it's Gray," said Edith, falling in with her mother's humor.
Then she added, still trying to keep her voice even,
"She was my nurse when baby was born."
"Yes; she was the nurse, but she didn't—"
Checking herself, Mrs. Dinneford rose on one arm and looked at
Edith in a frightened way, then said, hurriedly,
"Oh, it's dead, it's dead! You know that; and the woman's dead,
Edith sat motionless and silent as a statue, waiting for what more
might come. But her mother shut her lips tightly, and turned her head
A long time elapsed before she was able to read in her mother's
confused utterances anything to which she could attach a meaning. At
last Mrs. Dinneford spoke out again, and with an abruptness that
"Not another dollar, sir! Remember, you don't hold
Edith held her breath, and sat motionless. Her mother muttered and
mumbled incoherently for a while, and then said, sharply,
"I said I would ruin him, and I've done it!"
"Ruin who?" asked Edith, in a repressed voice.
This question, instead of eliciting an answer, as Edith had hoped,
brought her mother back to semi-consciousness. She rose again in bed,
and looked at her daughter in the same frightened way she had done a
little while before, then laid herself over on the pillows again. Her
lips were tightly shut.
Edith was almost wild with suspense. The clue to that sad and
painful mystery which was absorbing her life seemed almost in her
grasp. A word from those closely-shut lips, and she would have
certainty for uncertainty. But she waited and waited until she grew
faint, and still the lips kept silent.
But after a while Mrs. Dinneford grew uneasy, and began talking.
She moved her head from side to side, threw her arms about restlessly
and appeared greatly disturbed.
"Not dead, Mrs. Bray?" she cried out, at last, in a clear, strong
Edith became fixed as a statue once more.
A few moments, and Mrs. Dinneford added,
"No, no! I won't have her coming after me. More money! You're a
Then she muttered, and writhed and distorted her face like one in
some desperate struggle. Edith shuddered as she stood over her.
After this wild paroxysm Mrs. Dinneford grew more quiet, and seemed
to sleep. Edith remained sitting by the bedside, her thoughts intent
on the strange sentences that had fallen from her Mother's lips. What
mystery lay behind them? Of what secret were they an obscure
revelation? "Not dead!" Who not dead? And again, "It's dead! You know
that; and the woman's dead, too." Then it was plain that she had heard
aright the name of the person who had called on her mother, and about
whom her mother had made a mystery. It was Bray; if not, why the
anxiety to make her believe it Gray? And this woman had been her
nurse. It was plain, also, that money was being paid for keeping
secret. What secret? Then a life had been ruined. "I said I would ruin
him, and I've done it!" Who? who could her mother mean but the unhappy
man she had once called husband, now a criminal in the eyes of the
law, and only saved by insanity from a criminal's cell?
Putting all together, Edith's mind quickly wrought out a theory,
and this soon settled into a conviction—a conviction so close to fact
that all the chief elements were true.
During her mother's temporary aberration, Edith never left her room
except for a few minutes at a time. Not a word or sentence escaped
her notice. But she waited and listened in vain for anything more.
The talking paroxysm was over. A stupor of mind and body followed.
Out of this a slow recovery came, but it did not progress to a full
convalescence. Mrs. Dinneford went forth from her sick-chamber weak
and nervous, starting at sudden noises, and betraying a perpetual
uneasiness and suspense. Edith was continually on the alert, watching
every look and word and act with untiring scrutiny. Mrs. Dinneford
soon became aware of this. Guilt made her wary, and danger inspired
prudence. Edith's whole manner had changed. Why? was her natural
query. Had she been wandering in her mind? Had she given any clue to
the dark secrets she was hiding? Keen observation became mutual.
Mother and daughter watched each other with a suspicion that never
It was over a month from the time Freeling disappeared before Mrs.
Dinneford was strong enough to go out, except in her carriage. In
every case where she had ridden out, Edith had gone with her.
"If you don't care about riding, it's no matter," the mother would
say, when she saw Edith getting ready. "I can go alone. I feel quite
well and strong."
But Edith always had some reason for going against which her mother
could urge no objections. So she kept her as closely under
observation as possible. One day, on returning from a ride, as the
carriage passed into the block where they lived, she saw a woman
standing on the step in front of their residence. She had pulled the
bell, and was waiting for a servant to answer it.
"There is some one at our door," said Edith.
Mrs. Dinneford leaned across her daughter, and then drew back
"It's Mrs. Barker. Tell Henry to drive past. I don't want to see
visitors, and particularly not Mrs. Barker."
She spoke hurriedly, and with ill-concealed agitation. Edith kept
her eyes on the woman, and saw her go in, but did not tell the driver
to keep on past the house. It was not Mrs. Barker. She knew that very
well. In the next moment their carriage drew up at the door.
"Go on, Henry!" cried Mrs. Dinneford, leaning past her daughter,
and speaking through the window that was open on that side. "Drive
down to Loring's."
"Not till I get out, Henry," said Edith, pushing open the door and
stepping to the pavement. Then with a quick movement she shut the
door and ran across the pavement, calling back to the driver as she
"Take mother to Loring's."
"Stop, Henry!" cried Mrs. Dinneford, and with an alertness that was
surprising sprung from the carriage, and was on the steps of their
house before Edith's violent ring had brought a servant to the door.
They passed in, Edith holding her place just in advance.
"I will see Mrs. Barker," said Mrs. Dinneford, trying to keep out
of her voice the fear and agitation from which she was suffering. "You
can go up to your room."
"It isn't Mrs. Barker. You are mistaken." There was as much of
betrayal in the voice of Edith as in that of her mother. Each was
trying to hide herself from the other, but the veil in both cases was
far too thin for deception.
Mother and daughter entered the parlor together. As they did so a
woman of small stature, and wearing a rusty black dress, arose from a
seat near the window. The moment she saw Edith she drew a heavy dark
veil over her face with a quickness of movement that had in it as much
of discomfiture as surprise.
Mrs. Dinneford was equal to the occasion. The imminent peril in
which she stood calmed the wild tumult within, as the strong wind
calms this turbulent ocean, and gave her thoughts clearness and her
mind decision. Edith saw before the veil fell a startled face, and
recognized the sallow countenance and black, evil eyes, the woman who
had once before called to see her mother.
"Didn't I tell you not to come here, Mrs. Gray?" cried out Mrs.
Dinneford, with an anger that was more real than feigned, advancing
quickly upon the woman as she spoke. "Go!" and she pointed to the
door, "and don't you dare to come here again. I told you when you
were here last time that I wouldn't be bothered with you any longer.
I've done all I ever intend doing. So take yourself away."
And she pointed again to the door. Mrs. Bray—for it was that
personage—comprehended the situation fully. She was as good an actor
as Mrs. Dinneford, and quite as equal to the occasion. Lifting her
hand in a weak, deprecating way, and then shrinking like one borne
down by the shock of a great disappointment, she moved back from the
excited woman and made her way to the hall, Mrs. Dinneford following
and assailing her in passionate language.
Edith was thrown completely off her guard by this unexpected scene.
She did not stir from the spot where she stood on entering the parlor
until the visitor was at the street door, whither her mother had
followed the retreating figure. She did not hear the woman say in the
tone of one who spoke more in command than entreaty,
"To-morrow at one o'clock, or take the consequences."
"It will be impossible to-morrow," Mrs. Dinneford whispered back,
hurriedly; "I have been very ill, and have only just begun to ride
out. It may be a week, but I'll surely come. I'm watched. Go now! go!
And she pushed Mrs. Bray out into the vestibule and shut the door
after her. Mrs. Dinneford did not return to the parlor, but went
hastily up to her own room, locking herself in.
She did not come out until dinner-time, when she made an effort to
seem composed, but Edith saw her hand tremble every time it was
lifted. She drank three glasses of wine during the meal. After dinner
she went to her own apartment immediately, and did not come down again
On the next morning Mrs. Dinneford tried to appear cheerful and
indifferent. But her almost colorless face, pinched about the lips
and nostrils, and the troubled expression that would not go out of
her eyes, betrayed to Edith the intense anxiety and dread that lay
beneath the surface.
Days went by, but Edith had no more signs. Now that her mother was
steadily getting back both bodily strength and mental self-poise, the
veil behind which she was hiding herself, and which had been broken
into rifts here and there during her sickness, grew thicker and
thicker. Mrs. Dinneford had too much at stake not to play her cards
with exceeding care. She knew that Edith was watching her with an
intentness that let nothing escape. Her first care, as soon as she
grew strong enough to have the mastery over herself, was so to control
voice, manner and expression of countenance as not to appear aware of
this surveillance. Her next was to re-establish the old distance
between herself and daughter, which her illness had temporarily
bridged over, and her next was to provide against any more visits from
AS for Edith, all doubts and questionings as to her baby's
fate were merged into a settled conviction that it was alive, and that
her mother knew where it was to be found. From her mother's pity and
humanity she had nothing to hope for the child. It had been cruelly
cast adrift, pushed out to die; by what means was cared not, so that
it died and left no trace.
The face of Mrs. Bray had, in the single glance Edith obtained of
it, become photographed in her mind. If she had been an artist, she
could have drawn it from memory so accurately that no one who knew
the woman could have failed to recognize her likeness. Always when in
the street her eyes searched for this face; she never passed a woman
of small stature and poor dark clothing without turning to look at
her. Every day she went out, walking the streets sometimes for hours
looking for this face, but not finding it. Every day she passed
certain corners and localities where she had seen women begging, and
whenever she found one with a baby in her arms would stop to look at
the poor starved thing, and question her about it.
Gradually all her thoughts became absorbed in the condition of
poor, neglected and suffering children. Her attendance at the St.
John's mission sewing-school, which was located in the neighborhood of
one of the worst places in the city, brought her in contact with
little children in such a wretched state of ignorance, destitution and
vice that her heart was moved to deepest pity, intensified by the
thought that ever and anon flashed across her mind: "And my baby may
become like one of these!"
Sometimes this thought would drive her almost to madness. Often she
would become so wild in her suspense as to be on the verge of openly
accusing her mother with having knowledge of her baby's existence and
demanding of her its restoration. But she was held back by the fear
that such an accusation would only shut the door of hope for ever. She
had come to believe her mother capable of almost any wickedness.
Pressed to the wall she would never be if there was any way of escape,
and to prevent such at thing there was nothing so desperate that she
would not do it; and so Edith hesitated and feared to take the
Week after week and month after month now went on without a single,
occurrence that gave to Edith any new light. Mrs. Dinneford wrought
with her accomplice so effectually that she kept her wholly out of
the way. Often, in going and returning from the mission-school, Edith
would linger about the neighborhood where she had once met her mother,
hoping to see her come out of some one of the houses there, for she
had got it into her mind that the woman called Mrs. Gray lived
somewhere in this locality.
One day, in questioning a child who had come to the sewing-school
as to her home and how she lived, the little girl said something about
a baby that her mother said she knew must have been stolen.
"How old is the baby?" asked Edith, hardly able to keep the tremor
out of her voice.
"It's a little thing," answered the child. "I don't know how old it
is; maybe it's six months old, or maybe it's a year. It can sit upon
"Why does your mother think it has been stolen?"
"Because two bad girls have got it, and they pay a woman to take
care of it. It doesn't belong to them, she knows. Mother says it
would be a good thing if it died."
"Why does she say that?"
"Oh she always talks that way about babies—says she's glad when
"Is it a boy or a girl?"
"It's a boy baby," answered the child.
"Does the woman take good care of it?"
"Oh dear, no! She lets it sit on the floor 'most all the time, and
it cries so that I often go up and nurse it. The woman lives in the
room over ours."
"Where do you live?"
"In Grubb's court."
"Will you show me the way there after school is over?"
The child looked up into Edith's face with an expression of
surprise and doubt. Edith repeated her question.
"I guess you'd better not go," was answered, in a voice that meant
all the words expressed.
"It isn't a good place."
"But you live there?"
"Yes, but nobody's going to trouble me."
"Nor me," said Edith.
"Oh, but you don't know what kind of a place it is, nor what
dreadful people live there."
"I could get a policeman to go with me, couldn't I?"
"Yes, maybe you could, or Mr. Paulding, the missionary. He goes
"Where can I find Mr. Paulding?"
"At the mission in Briar street."
"You'll show me the way there after school?"
"Oh yes; it isn't a nice place for you to go, but I guess nobody'll
After the school closed, Edith, guided by the child, made her way
to the Briar st. mission-house. As she entered the narrow street in
which it was situated, the aspect of things was so strange and
shocking to her eyes that she felt a chill creep to her heart. She
had never imagined anything so forlorn and squalid, so wretched and
comfortless. Miserable little hovels, many of them no better than
pig-styes, and hardly cleaner within, were crowded together in all
stages of dilapidation. Windows with scarcely a pane of glass, the
chilly air kept out by old hats, bits of carpet or wads of newspaper,
could be seen on all sides, with here and there, showing some remains
of an orderly habit, a broken pane closed with a smooth piece of paper
pasted to the sash. Instinctively she paused, oppressed by a sense of
"It's only halfway down," said the child. "We'll 'go quick. I guess
nobody'll speak to you. They're afraid of Mr. Paulding about here.
He's down on 'em if they meddle with anybody that's coming to the
Edith, thus urged, moved on. She had gone but a few steps when two
men came in sight, advancing toward her. They were of the class to be
seen at all times in that region—debased to the lowest degree,
drunken, ragged, bloated, evil-eyed, capable of any wicked thing.
They were singing when they came in sight, but checked their drunken
mirth as soon as they saw Edith, whose heart sunk again. She stopped,
"They're only drunk," said the child. "I don't believe they'll hurt
Edith rallied herself and walked on, the men coming closer and
closer. She saw them look at each other with leering eyes, and then
at her in a way that made her shiver. When only a few paces distant,
they paused, and with the evident intention of barring her farther
"Good-afternoon, miss," said one of them, with a low bow. "Can we
do anything for you?"
The pale, frightened face of Edith was noticed by the other, and it
touched some remnant of manhood not yet wholly extinguished.
"Let her alone, you miserable cuss!" he cried, and giving his
drunken companion a shove, sent him staggering across the street.
This made the way clear, and Edith sprang forward, but she had gone
only a few feet when she came face to face with another obstruction
even more frightful, if possible, than the first. A woman with a red,
swollen visage, black eye, soiled, tattered, drunk, with arms wildly
extended, came rushing up to her. The child gave a scream. The
wretched creature caught at a shawl worn by Edith, and was dragging it
from her shoulders, when the door of one of the houses flew open, and
a woman came out hastily. Grasping the assailant, she hurled her
across the street with the strength of a giant.
"We're going to the mission," said the child.
"It's just down there. Go 'long. I'll stand here and see that no
one meddles with you again."
Edith faltered her thanks, and went on.
"That's the queen," said her companion.
"The queen!" Edith's hasty tones betrayed her surprise.
"Yes; it's Norah. They're all afraid of her. I'm glad she saw us.
She's as strong as a man."
In a few minutes they reached the mission, but in those few minutes
Edith saw more to sadden the heart, more to make it ache for
humanity, than could be described in pages.
The missionary was at home. Edith told him the purpose of her call
and the locality she desired to visit.
"I wanted to go alone," she remarked, "but this little girl, who is
in my class at the sewing-school, said it wouldn't be safe, and that
you would go with me."
"I should be sorry to have you go alone into Grubb's court," said
the missionary, kindly, and with concern in his voice, "for a worse
place can hardly be found in the city—I was going to say in the
world. You will be safe with me, however. But why do you wish to
visit Grubb's court? Perhaps I can do all that is needed."
"This little girl who lives in there, has been telling me about a
poor neglected baby that her mother says has no doubt been stolen,
and—and—" Edith voice faltered, but she quickly gained steadiness
under a strong effort of will: "I thought perhaps I might be able to
do something for it—to get it into one of the homes, maybe. It is
dreadful, sir, to think of little babies being neglected."
Mr. Paulding questioned the child who had brought Edith to the
mission-house, and learned from her that the baby was merely boarded
by the woman who had it in charge, and that she sometimes took it out
and sat on the street, begging. The child repeated what she had said
to Edith—that the baby was the property, so to speak, of two
abandoned women, who paid its board.
"I think," said the missionary, after some reflection, "that if
getting the child out of their hands is your purpose, you had better
not go there at present. Your visit would arouse suspicion; and if
the two women have anything to gain by keeping the child in their
possession, it will be at once taken to a new place. I am moving
about in these localities all the while, and can look in upon the
baby without anything being thought of it."
This seemed so reasonable that Edith, who could not get over the
nervous tremors occasioned by what she had already seen and
encountered, readily consented to leave the matter for the present in
Mr. Paulding's hands.
"If you will come here to-morrow," said the missionary, "I will
tell you all I can about the baby."
Out of a region where disease, want and crime shrunk from common
observation, and sin and death held high carnival, Edith hurried with
trembling feet, and heart beating so heavily that she could hear it
throb, the considerate missionary going with her until she had crossed
the boundary of this morally infected district.
Mr. Dinneford met Edith at the door on her arrival home.
"My child," he exclaimed as he looked into her face, back to which
the color had not returned since her fright in Briar street, "are you
"I don't feel very well;" and she tried to pass him hastily in the
hall as they entered the house together. But he laid his hand on her
arm and held her back gently, then drew her into the parlor. She sat
down, trembling, weak and faint. Mr. Dinneford waited for some
moments, looking at her with a tender concern, before speaking.
"Where have you been, my dear?" he asked, at length.
After a little hesitation, Edith told her father about her visit to
Briar street and the shock she had received.
"You were wrong," he answered, gravely. "It is most fortunate for
you that you took the child's advice and called at the mission. If
you had gone to Grubb's court alone, you might not have come out
"Oh no, father! It can't be so bad as that."
"It is just as bad as that," he replied, with a troubled face and
manner. "Grubb's court is one of the traps into which unwary victims
are drawn that they may be plundered. It is as much out of common
observation almost as the lair of a wild beast in some deep
wilderness. I have heard it described by those who have been there
under protection of the police, and shudder to think of the narrow
escape you have made. I don't want you to go into that vile district
again. It is no place for such as you."
"There's a poor little baby there," said Edith, her voice trembling
and tears filling her eyes. Then, after a brief struggle with her
feelings, she threw herself upon her father, sobbing out, "And oh,
father, it may be my baby!"
"My poor child," said Mr. Dinneford, not able to keep his voice
firm—"my poor, poor child! It is all a wild dream, the suggestion of
evil spirits who delight in torment."
"What became of my baby, father? Can you tell me?"
"It died, Edith dear. We know that," returned her father, trying to
speak very confidently. But the doubt in his own mind betrayed
"Do you know it?" she asked, rising and confronting her father.
"I didn't actually see it die. But—but—"
"You know no more about it than I do," said Edith; "if you did, you
might set my heart at rest with a word. But you cannot. And so I am
left to my wild fears, that grow stronger every day. Oh, father, help
me, if you can. I must have certainty, or I shall lose my reason."
"If you don't give up this wild fancy, you surely will," answered
Mr. Dinneford, in a distressed voice.
"If I were to shut myself up and do nothing," said Edith, with
greater calmness, "I would be in a madhouse before a week went by. My
safety lies in getting down to the truth of this wild fancy, as you
call it. It has taken such possession of me that nothing but certainty
can give me rest. Will you help me?"
"How can I help you? I have no clue to this sad mystery."
"Mystery! Then you are as much in the dark as I am—know no more of
what became of my baby than I do! Oh, father, how could you let such
a thing be done, and ask no questions—such a cruel and terrible
thing—and I lying helpless and dumb? Oh, father, my innocent baby
cast out like a dog to perish—nay, worse, like a lamb among wolves
to be torn by their cruel teeth—and no one to put forth a hand to
save! If I only knew that he was dead! If I could find his little
grave and comfort my heart over it!"
Weak, naturally good men, like Mr. Dinneford, often permit great
wrongs to be done in shrinking from conflict and evading the sterner
duties of life. They are often the faithless guardians of immortal
There was a tone of accusation and rebuke in Edith's voice that
smote painfully on her father's heart. He answered feebly:
"What could I do? How should I know that anything wrong was being
done? You were very ill, and the baby was sent away to be nursed, and
then I was told that it was dead."
"Oh, father! Sent away without your seeing it! My baby! Your little
grandson! Oh, father!"
"But you know, dear, in what a temper of mind your mother was—how
impossible it is for me to do anything with her when she once sets
herself to do a thing."
"Even if it be murder!" said Edith, in a hoarse whisper.
"Hush, hush, my child! You must not speak so," returned the
A silence fell between them. A wall of separation began to grow up.
Edith arose, and was moving from the room.
"My daughter!" There was a sob in the father's voice.
"My daughter, we must not part yet. Come back; sit down with me,
and let us talk more calmly. What is past cannot be changed. It is
with the now of this unhappy business that we have to do."
Edith came back and sat down again, her father taking a seat beside
"That is just it," she answered, with a steadiness of tone and
manner that showed how great was the self-control she was able to
exert. "It is with the now of this unhappy affair that we have to do.
If I spoke strongly of the past, it was that a higher and intenser
life might be given to present duty."
"Let there be no distance between us. Let no wall of separation
grow up," said Mr. Dinneford, tenderly. "I cannot bear to think of
this. Confide in me, consult with me. I will help you in all possible
ways to solve this mystery. But do not again venture alone into that
dreadful place. I will go with you if you think any good will come of
"I must see Mr. Paulding in the morning," said Edith, with calm
"Then I will go with you," returned Mr. Dinneford.
"Thank you, father;" and she kissed him. "Until then nothing more
can be done." She kissed him again, and then went to her own room.
After locking the door she sank on her knees, leaning forward, with
her face buried in the cushion of a chair, and did not rise for a
ON the next morning, after some persuasion, Edith consented
to postpone her visit to Grubb's court until after her father had seen
Mr. Paulding, the missionary.
"Let me go first and gain what information I can," he urged. "It
may save you a fruitless errand."
It was not without a feeling of almost unconquerable repugnance
that Mr. Dinneford took his way to the mission-house, in Briar street.
His tastes, his habits and his naturally kind and sensitive feelings
all made him shrink from personal contact with suffering and
degradation. He gave much time and care to the good work of helping
the poor and the wretched, but did his work in boards and on
committees, rather than in the presence of the needy and suffering.
He was not one of those who would pass over to the other side and
leave a wounded traveler to perish, but he would avoid the road to
Jericho, if he thought it likely any such painful incident would meet
him in the way and shock his fine sensibilities. He was willing to
work for the downcast, the wronged, the suffering and the vile, but
preferred doing so at a distance, and not in immediate contact. Thus
it happened that, although one of the managers of the Briar street
mission and familiar with its work in a general way, he had never been
at the mission-house—had never, in fact, set his foot within the
morally plague-stricken district in which it stood. He had often been
urged to go, but could not overcome his reluctance to meet humanity
face to face in its sadder and more degraded aspects.
Now a necessity was upon him, and he had to go. It was about ten
o'clock in the morning when, at almost a single step, he passed from
what seemed paradise to purgatory, the sudden contrast was so great.
There were but few persons in the little street; where the mission
was situated at that early hour, and most of these were
children—poor, half-clothed, dirty, wan-faced, keen-eyed and alert
bits of humanity, older by far than their natural years, few of them
possessing any higher sense of right and wrong than young savages.
The night's late orgies or crimes had left most of their elders in a
heavy morning sleep, from which they did not usually awaken before
midday. Here and there one and another came creeping out, impelled by
a thirst no water could quench. Now it was a bloated, wild-eyed man,
dirty and forlorn beyond description, shambling into sight, but
disappearing in a moment or two in one of the dram-shops, whose name
was legion, and now it was a woman with the angel all gone out of her
face, barefooted, blotched, coarse, red-eyed, bruised and awfully
disfigured by her vicious, drunken life. Her steps too made haste to
Such houses for men and women to live in as now stretched before
his eyes in long dreary rows Mr. Dinneford had never seen, except in
isolated cases of vice and squalor. To say that he was shocked would
but faintly express his feelings. Hurrying along, he soon came in
sight of the mission. At this moment a jar broke the quiet of the
scene. Just beyond the mission-house two women suddenly made their
appearance, one of them pushing the other out upon the street. Their
angry cries rent the air, filling it with profane and obscene oaths.
They struggled together for a little while, and then one of them, a
woman with gray hair and not less than sixty years of age, fell
across the curb with her head on the cobble-stones.
As if a sorcerer had stamped his foot, a hundred wretched
creatures, mostly women and children, seemed to spring up from the
ground. It was like a phantasy. They gathered about the prostrate
woman, laughing and jeering. A policeman who was standing at the
corner a little way off came up leisurely, and pushing the motley crew
aside, looked down at the prostrate woman.
"Oh, it's you again!" he said, in a tone of annoyance, taking hold
of one arm and raising her so that she sat on the curb-stone. Mr.
Dinneford now saw her face distinctly; it was that of an old woman,
but red, swollen and terribly marred. Her thin gray hair had fallen
over her shoulders, and gave her a wild and crazy look.
"Come," said the policeman, drawing on the woman's arm and trying
to raise her from the ground. But she would not move.
"Come," he said, more imperatively.
"Nature you going to do with me?" she demanded.
"I'm going to lock you up. So come along. Have had enough of you
about here. Always drunk and in a row with somebody."
Her resistance was making the policeman angry.
"It'll take two like you to do that," returned the woman, in a
spiteful voice, swearing foully at the same time.
At this a cheer arose from the crowd. A negro with a push-cart came
along at the moment.
"Here! I want you," called the policeman.
The negro pretended not to hear, and the policeman had to threaten
him before he would stop.
Seeing the cart, the drunken woman threw herself back upon the
pavement and set every muscle to a rigid strain. And now came one of
those shocking scenes—too familiar, alas! in portions of our large
Christian cities—at which everything pure and merciful and holy in
our nature revolts: a gray-haired old woman, so debased by drink and
an evil life that all sense of shame and degradation had been
extinguished, fighting with a policeman, and for a time showing
superior strength, swearing vilely, her face distorted with passion,
and a crowd made up chiefly of women as vile and degraded as herself,
and of all ages, and colors, laughing, shouting and enjoying the scene
At last, by aid of the negro, the woman was lifted into the cart
and thrown down upon the floor, her head striking one of the sides
with a sickening thud. She still swore and struggled, and had
to be held down by the policeman, who stood over her, while the cart
was pushed off to the nearest station-house, the excited crowd
following with shouts and merry huzzas.
Mr. Dinneford was standing in a maze, shocked and distressed by
this little episode, when a man at his side said in a grave, quiet
"I doubt if you could see a sight just like that anywhere else in
all Christendom." Then added, as he extended his hand,
"I am glad to see you here, Mr. Dinneford."
"Oh, Mr. Paulding!" and Mr. Dinneford put out his hand and grasped
that of the missionary with a nervous grip. "This is awful! I am
sixty years old, but anything so shocking my eyes have not before
"We see things worse than this every day," said the missionary. "It
is only one of the angry boils on the surface, and tells of the
corrupt and vicious blood within. But I am right glad to find you
here, Mr. Dinneford. Unless you see these things with your own eyes,
it is impossible for you to comprehend the condition of affairs in
this by-way to hell."
"Hell, itself, better say," returned Mr. Dinneford. "It is hell
pushing itself into visible manifestation—hell establishing itself
on the earth, and organizing its forces for the destruction of human
souls, while the churches are too busy enlarging their phylacteries
and making broader and more attractive the hems of their garments to
take note of this fatal vantage-ground acquired by the enemy."
Mr. Dinneford stood and looked around him in a dazed sort of way.
"Is Grubb's court near this?" he asked, recollecting the errand
upon which he had come.
"A young lady called to see you yesterday afternoon to ask about a
child in that court?"
"Oh yes! You know the lady?"
"She is my daughter. One of the poor children in her sewing-class
told her of a neglected baby in Grubb's court, and so drew upon her
sympathies that she started to go there, but was warned by the child
that it would be dangerous for a young lady like her to be seen in
that den of thieves and harlots, and so she came to you. And now I am
here in her stead to get your report about the baby. I would not
consent to her visiting this place again."
Mr. Paulding took his visitor into the mission-house, near which
they were standing. After they were seated, he said,
"I have seen the baby about which your daughter wished me to make
inquiry. The woman who has the care of it is a vile creature, well
known in this region—drunken and vicious. She said at first that it
was her own baby, but afterward admitted that she didn't know who its
mother was, and that she was paid for taking care of it. I found out,
after a good deal of talking round, and an interview with the mother
of the child who is in your daughter's sewing-class, that a girl of
notoriously bad character, named Pinky Swett, pays the baby's board.
There's a mystery about the child, and I am of the opinion that it has
been stolen, or is known to be the offcast of some respectable family.
The woman who has the care of it was suspicious, and seemed annoyed at
"Is it a boy?" asked Mr. Dinneford.
"Yes, and has a finely-formed head and a pair of large, clear,
hazel eyes. Evidently it is of good parentage. The vicious, the
sensual and the depraved mark their offspring with the unmistakable
signs of their moral depravity. You cannot mistake them. But this baby
has in its poor, wasted, suffering little face, in its well-balanced
head and deep, almost spiritual eyes, the signs of a better origin."
"It ought at once to be taken away from the woman," said Mr.
Dinneford, in a very decided manner.
"Who is to take it?" asked the missionary.
Mr. Dinneford was silent.
"Neither you nor I have any authority to do so. If I were to see it
cast out upon the street, I might have it sent to the almshouse; but
until I find it abandoned or shamefully abused, I have no right to
"I would like to see the baby," said Mr. Dinneford, on whose mind
painful suggestions akin to those that were so disturbing his
daughter were beginning to intrude themselves.
"It would hardly be prudent to go there to-day," said Mr. Paulding.
"It would arouse suspicion; and if there is anything wrong, the
baby would drop out of sight. You would not find it if you went again.
These people are like birds with their wings half lifted, and fly
away at the first warning of danger. As it is, I fear my visit and
inquiries will be quite sufficient to the cause the child's removal
to another place."
Mr. Dinneford mused for a while:
"There ought to be some way to reach a case like this, and there
is, I am sure. From what you say, it is more than probable that this
poor little waif may have drifted out of some pleasant home, where
love would bless it with the tenderest care, into this hell of
neglect and cruelty. It should be rescued on the instant. It is my
duty—it is yours—to see that it is done, and that without delay. I
will go at once to the mayor and state the case. He will send an
officer with me, I know, and we will take the child by force. If its
real mother then comes forward and shows herself at all worthy to
have the care of it, well; if not, I will see that it is taken care
of. I know where to place it."
To this proposition Mr. Paulding had no objection to offer.
"If you take that course, and act promptly, you can no doubt get
possession of the poor thing. Indeed, sir"—and the missionary spoke
with much earnestness—"if men of influence like yourself would come
here and look the evil of suffering and neglected children in the
face, and then do what they could to destroy that evil, there would
soon be joy in heaven over the good work accomplished by their hands.
I could give you a list of ten or twenty influential citizens whose
will would be next to law in a matter like this who could in a month,
if they put heart and hand to it, do such a work for humanity here as
would make the angels glad. But they are too busy with their great
enterprises to give thought and effort to a work like this."
A shadow fell across the missionary's face. There was a tone of
discouragement in his voice.
"The great question is
what to do," said Mr. Dinneford.
"There are no problems so hard to solve as these problems of social
evil. If men and women choose to debase themselves, who is to hinder?
The vicious heart seeks a vicious life. While the heart is depraved
the life will be evil. So long as the fountain is corrupt the water
will be foul."
"There is a side to all this that most people do not consider,"
answered Mr. Paulding. "Self-hurt is one thing, hurt of the neighbor
quite another. It may be questioned whether society has a right to
touch the individual freedom of a member in anything that affects
himself alone. But the moment he begins to hurt his neighbor, whether
from ill-will or for gain, then it is the duty of society to restrain
him. The common weal demands this, to say nothing of Christian
obligation. If a man were to set up an exhibition in our city
dangerous to life and limb, but so fascinating as to attract large
numbers to witness and participate therein, and if hundreds were
maimed or killed every year, do you think any one would question the
right of our authorities to repress it? And yet to-day there are in
our city more than twenty thousand persons who live by doing things a
thousand times more hurtful to the people than any such exhibition
could possibly be. And what is marvelous to think of, the larger part
of these persons are actually licensed by the State to get gain by
hurting, depraving and destroying the people. Think of it, Mr.
Dinneford! The whole question lies in a nutshell. There is no
difficulty about the problem. Restrain men from doing harm to each
other, and the work is more than half done."
"Is not the law all the while doing this?"
"The law," was answered. "is weakly dealing with effect—how weakly
let prison and police statistics show. Forty thousand arrests in our
city for a single year, and the cause of these arrests clearly traced
to the liquor licenses granted to five or six thousand persons to make
money by debasing and degrading the people. If all of these were
engaged in useful employments, serving, as every true citizen is bound
to do, the common good, do you think we should have so sad and
sickening a record? No, sir! We must go back to the causes of things.
Nothing but radical work will do."
"You think, then," said Mr. Dinneford, "that the true remedy for
all these dreadful social evils lies in restrictive legislation?"
"Restrictive only on the principles of eternal right," answered the
missionary. "Man's freedom over himself must not be touched. Only his
freedom to hurt his neighbor must be abridged. Here society has a
right to put bonds on its members—to say to each individual, You are
free to do anything by which your neighbor is served, but nothing to
harm him. Here is where the discrimination must be made; and when the
mass of the people come to see this, we shall have the beginning of a
new day. There will then be hope for such poor wretches as crowd this
region; or if most of them are so far lost as to be without hope,
their places, when they die, will not be filled with new recruits for
the army of perdition."
"If the laws we now have were only executed," said Mr. Dinneford,
"there might be hope in our legislative restrictions. But the people
are defrauded of justice through defects in its machinery. There are
combinations to defeat good laws. There are men holding high office
notoriously in league with scoundrels who prey upon the people.
Through these, justice perpetually fails."
"The people are alone to blame," replied the missionary. "Each is
busy with his farm and his merchandise with his own affairs,
regardless of his neighbor. The common good is nothing, so that his
own good is served. Each weakly folds his hands and is sorry when
these troublesome questions are brought to his notice, but doesn't
see that he can do anything. Nor can the people, unless some strong
and influential leaders rally them, and, like great generals, lead
them to the battle. As I said a little while ago, there are ten or
twenty men in this city who, if they could be made to feel their high
responsibility—who, if they could be induced to look away for a brief
period from their great enterprises and concentrate thought and effort
upon these questions of social evil, abuse of justice and violations
of law—would in a single month inaugurate reforms and set agencies to
work that would soon produce marvelous changes. They need not touch
the rottenness of this half-dead carcass with knife or poultice. Only
let them cut off the sources of pollution and disease, and the
purified air will do the work of restoration where moral vitality
remains, or hasten the end in those who are debased beyond hope."
"What could these men do? Where would their work begin?" asked Mr.
"Their own intelligence would soon discover the way to do this work
if their hearts were in it. Men who can organize and successfully
conduct great financial and industrial enterprises, who know how to
control the wealth and power of the country and lead the people
almost at will, would hardly be at fault in the adjustment of a
matter like this. What would be the money influence of 'whisky rings'
and gambling associations, set against the social and money influence
of these men? Nothing, sir, nothing! Do you think we should long have
over six thousand bars and nearly four hundred lottery-policy shops in
our city if the men to whom I refer were to take the matter in hand?"
"Are there so many policy-shops?" asked Mr. Dinneford, in surprise.
"There may be more. You will find them by scores in every locality
where poor and ignorant people are crowded together, sucking out
their substance, and in the neighborhood of all the market-houses and
manufactories, gathering in spoil. The harm they are doing is beyond
computation. The men who control this unlawful business are rich and
closely organized. They gather in their dishonest gains at the rate of
hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, and know how and where to
use this money for the protection of their agents in the work of
defrauding the people, and the people are helpless because our men of
wealth and influence have no time to give to public justice or the
suppression of great social wrongs. With them, as things now are,
rests the chief responsibility. They have the intelligence, the wealth
and the public confidence, and are fully equal to the task if they
will put their hands to the work. Let them but lift the standard and
sound the trumpet of reform, and the people will rally instantly at
the call. It must not be a mere spasmodic effort—a public meeting
with wordy resolutions and strong speeches only—but organized work
based on true principles of social order and the just rights of the
"You are very much in earnest about this matter," said Mr.
Dinneford, seeing how excited the missionary had grown.
"And so would you and every other good citizen become if, standing
face to face, as I do daily, with this awful debasement and crime and
suffering, you were able to comprehend something of its real
character. If I could get the influential citizens to whom I have
referred to come here and see for themselves, to look upon this
pandemonium in their midst and take in an adequate idea of its
character, significance and aggressive force, there would be some
hope of making them see their duty, of arousing them to action. But
they stand aloof, busy with personal and material interest, while
thousands of men, women and children are yearly destroyed, soul and
body, through their indifference to duty and ignorance of their
"It is easy to say such things," answered Mr. Dinneford, who felt
the remarks of Mr. Paulding as almost personal.
"Yes, it is easy to say them," returned the missionary, his voice
dropping to a lower key, "and it may be of little use to say them. I
am sometimes almost in despair, standing so nearly alone as I do with
my feet on the very brink of this devastating flood of evil, and
getting back only faint echoes to my calls for help. But when year
after year I see some sheaves coming in as the reward of my efforts
and of the few noble hearts that work with me, I thank God and take
courage, and I lift my voice and call more loudly for help, trusting
that I may be heard by some who, if they would only come up to the
help of the Lord against the mighty, would scatter his foes like chaff
on the threshing-floor. But I am holding you back from your purpose to
visit the mayor; I think you had better act promptly if you would get
possession of the child. I shall be interested in the result, and will
take it as a favor if you will call at the mission again."
WHEN Mr. Dinneford and the policeman sent by the mayor at
his solicitation visited Grubb's court, the baby was not to be found.
The room in which it had been seen by Mr. Paulding was vacant. Such a
room as it was!—low and narrow, with bare, blackened walls, the
single window having scarcely two whole panes of glass, the air
loaded with the foulness that exhaled from the filth-covered floor,
the only furniture a rough box and a dirty old straw bed lying in a
As Mr. Dinneford stood at the door of this room and inhaled its
fetid air, he grew sick, almost faint. Stepping back, with a shocked
and disgusted look on his face, he said to the policeman,
"There must be a mistake. This cannot be the room."
Two or three children and a coarse, half-clothed woman, seeing a
gentleman going into the house accompanied by a policeman, had
followed them closely up stairs.
"Who lives in this room?" asked the policeman, addressing the
"Don't know as anybody lives there now," she replied, with evident
"Who did live here?" demanded the policeman.
"Oh, lots!" returned the woman, curtly.
"I want to know who lived here last," said the policeman, a little
"Can't say—never keep the run of 'em," answered the woman, with
more indifference than she felt. "Goin' and comin' all the while.
Maybe it was Poll Davis."
"Had she a baby?"
The woman gave a vulgar laugh as she replied: "I rather think not."
"It was Moll Fling," said one of the children, "and she had a
"When was she here last?" inquired the policeman.
The woman, unseen by the latter, raised her fist and threatened the
child, who did not seem to be in the least afraid of her, for she
"She went away about an hour ago."
"And took the baby?"
"Yes. You see Mr. Paulding was here asking about the baby, and she
"Why should that scare her?"
"I don't know, only it isn't her baby."
"How do you know that?"
"'Cause it isn't—I know it isn't. She's paid to take care of it."
"Who's Pinky Swett?"
"Don't you know Pinky Swett?" and the child seemed half surprised.
"Where does Pinky Swett live?" asked the policeman.
"She did live next door for a while, but I don't know where she's
Nothing beyond this could be ascertained. But having learned the
names of the women who had possession of the child, the policeman
said there would be no difficulty about discovering them. It might
take a little time, but they could not escape the vigilance of the
With this assurance, Mr. Dinneford hastened from the polluted air
of Grubb's court, and made his way to the mission in Briar street, in
order to have some further conference with Mr. Paulding.
"As I feared," said the missionary, on learning that the baby could
not be found. "These creatures are as keen of scent as Indians, and
know the smallest sign of danger. It is very plain that there is
something wrong—that these women have no natural right to the child,
and that they are not using it to beg with."
"Do you know a woman called Pinky Swett?" asked the policeman.
"I've heard of her, but do not know her by sight. She bears a hard
reputation even here, and adds to her many evil accomplishments the
special one of adroit robbery. A victim lured to her den rarely
escapes without loss of watch or pocket-book. And not one in a
hundred dares to give information, for this would expose him to the
public, and so her crimes are covered. Pinky Swett is not the one to
bother herself about a baby unless its parentage be known, and not
then unless the knowledge can be turned to advantage."
"The first thing to be done, then, is to find this woman," said the
"That will not be very hard work. But finding the baby, if she
thinks you are after it, would not be so easy," returned Mr.
Paulding. "She's as cunning as a fox."
"We shall see. If the chief of police undertakes to find the baby,
it won't be out of sight long. You'd better confer with the mayor
again," added the policeman, addressing Mr. Dinneford.
"I will do so without delay," returned that gentleman.
"I hope to see you here again soon," said the missionary as Mr.
Dinneford was about going. "If I can help you in any way, I shall do
"I have no doubt but that you can render good service." Then, in
half apology, and to conceal the real concern at his heart, Mr.
Dinneford added, "Somehow, and strangely enough when I come to think
of it, I have allowed myself to get drawn into this thing, and once
in, the natural persistence of my character leads me to go on to the
end. I am one of those who cannot bear to give up or acknowledge a
defeat; and so, having set my hand to this work, I am going to see it
When the little girl who had taken Edith to the mission-house in
Briar street got home and told her story, there was a ripple of
excitement in that part of Grubb's court where she lived, and a new
interest was felt in the poor neglected baby. Mr. Paulding's visit
and inquiries added to this interest. It had been several days since
Pinky Swett's last visit to the child to see that it was safe. On the
morning after Edith's call at the mission she came in about ten
o'clock, and heard the news. In less than twenty minutes the child
and the woman who had charge of it both disappeared from Grubb's
court. Pinky sent them to her own room, not many squares distant, and
then drew from the little girl who was in Edith's sewing-class all she
knew about that young lady. It was not much that the child could tell.
She was very sweet and good and handsome, and wore such beautiful
clothes, was so kind and patient with the girls, but she did not
remember her name, thought it was Edith.
"Now, see here," said Pinky, and she put some money into the
child's hand; "I want you to find out for me what her name is and
where she lives. Mind, you must be very careful to remember."
"What do you want to know for?" asked the little girl.
"That's none of your business. Do what I tell you," returned Pinky,
with impatience; "and if you do it right, I'll give you a quarter
more. When do you go again?"
"Next week, on Thursday."
"Not till next Thursday!" exclaimed Pinky, in a tone of
"The school's only once a week."
Pinky chafed a good deal, but it was of no use; she must wait.
"You'll be sure and go next Thursday?" she said.
"If Mother lets me," replied the child.
"Oh, I'll see to that; I'll make her let you. What time does the
school go in?"
"At three o'clock."
"Very well. You wait for me. I'll come round here at half-past two,
and go with you. I want to see the young lady. They'll let me come
into the school and learn to sew, won't they?"
"I don't know; you're too big, and you don't want to learn."
"How do you know I don't?"
"Because I do."
Pinky laughed, and then said,
"You'll wait for me?"
"Yes, if mother says so."
"All right;" and Pinky hurried away to take measures for hiding the
baby from a search that she felt almost sure was about being made.
The first thing she did was to soundly abuse the woman in whose care
she had placed the hapless child for her neglect and ill treatment,
both of which were too manifest, and then to send her away under the
new aspect of affairs she did not mean to trust this woman, nor
indeed to trust anybody who knew anything of the inquiries which had
been made about the child. A new nurse must be found, and she must
live as far away from the old locality as possible. Pinky was not one
inclined to put things off. Thought and act were always close
together. Scarcely had the woman been gone ten minutes, before,
bundling the baby in a shawl, she started off to find a safer
hiding-place. This time she was more careful about the character and
habits of the person selected for a nurse, and the baby's condition
was greatly improved. The woman in whose charge she placed it was
poor, but neither drunken nor depraved. Pinky arranged with her to
take the care of it for two dollars a week, and supplied it with
clean and comfortable clothing. Even she, wicked and vile as she was,
could not help being touched by the change that appeared in the baby's
shrunken face, and in its sad but beautiful eyes, after its wasted
little body had been cleansed and clothed in clean, warm garments and
it had taken its fill of nourishing food.
"It's a shame, the way it has been abused," said Pinky, speaking
from an impulse of kindness, such as rarely swelled in her evil
"A crying shame," answered the woman as she drew the baby close
against her bosom and gazed down upon its pitiful face, and into the
large brown eyes that were lifted to hers in mute appeal.
The real motherly tenderness that was in this woman's heart was
quickly perceived by the child, who did not move its eyes from hers,
but lay perfectly still, gazing up at her in a kind of easeful rest
such as it had never before known. She spoke to it in loving tones,
touched its thin cheeks with her finger in playful caresses, kissed
it on its lips and forehead, hugged it to her bosom; and still the
eyes were fixed on hers in a strange baby-wonder, though not the
faintest glinting of a smile played on its lips or over its serious
face. Had it never learned to smile?
At last the poor thin lips curved a little, crushing out the lines
of suffering, and into the eyes there came a loving glance in place
of the fixed, wondering look that was almost a stare. A slight
lifting of the hands, a motion of the head, a thrill through the
whole body came next, and then a tender cooing sound.
"Did you ever see such beautiful eyes?" said the woman. "It will be
a splendid baby when it has picked up a little."
"Let it pick up as fast as it can," returned Pinky; "but mind what
I say: you are to be mum. Here's your pay for the first week, and you
shall have it fair and square always. Call it your own baby, if you
will, or your grandson. Yes, that's better. He's the child of your
dead daughter, just sent to you from somewhere out of town. So take
good care of him, and keep your mouth shut. I'll be round again in a
And with this injunction Pinky went away. On the next Thursday she
visited the St. John's mission sewing-school in company with the
little girl from Grubb's court, but greatly to her disappointment,
Edith did not make her appearance. There were four or five ladies in
attendance on the school, which, under the superintendence of one of
them, a woman past middle life, with a pale, serious face and a voice
clear and sweet, was conducted with an order and decorum not often
maintained among a class of children such as were there gathered
It was a long time since Pinky had found herself so repressed and
ill at ease. There was a spiritual atmosphere in the place that did
not vitalize her blood. She felt a sense of constriction and
suffocation. She had taken her seat in the class taught usually by
Edith, with the intention of studying that young lady and finding out
all she could about her, not doubting her ability to act the part in
hand with perfect self-possession. But she had not been in the room a
minute before confidence began to die, and very soon she found herself
ill at ease and conscious of being out of her place. The bold, bad
woman felt weak and abashed. An unseen sphere of purity and Christian
love surrounded and touched her soul with as palpable an impression as
outward things give to the body. She had something of the inward
distress and pain a devil would feel if lifted into the pure air of
heaven, and the same desire to escape and plunge back into the dense
and impure atmosphere in which evil finds its life and enjoyment. If
she had come with any good purpose, it would have been different, but
evil, and only evil, was in her heart; and when this felt the sphere
of love and purity, her breast was constricted and life seemed going
out of her.
It was little less than torture to Pinky for the short time she
remained. As soon as she was satisfied that Edith would not be there,
she threw down the garment on which she had been pretending to sew,
and almost ran from the room.
"Who is that girl?" asked the lady who was teaching the class,
looking in some surprise after the hurrying figure.
"It's Pinky Swett," answered the child from Grubb's court. "She
wanted to see our teacher."
"Who is your regular teacher?" was inquired.
"Don't remember her name."
"It's Edith," spoke up one of the girls. "Mrs. Martin called her
"What did this Pinky Swett want to see her about?"
"Don't know," answered the child as she remembered the money Pinky
had given her and the promise of more.
The teacher questioned no further, but went on with her work in the
IT was past midday when Mr. Dinneford returned home after
his fruitless search. Edith, who had been waiting for hours in
restless suspense, heard his step in the hall, and ran down to meet
"Did you see the baby?"' she asked, trying to keep her agitation
Mr. Dinneford only shook his head,
"Why, not, father?" Her voice choked.
"It could not be found."
"You saw Mr. Paulding?"
"Didn't he find the baby?"
"Oh yes. But when I went to Grubb's court this morning, it was not
there, and no one could or would give any information about it. As
the missionary feared, those having possession of the baby had taken
alarm and removed it to another place. But I have seen the mayor and
some of the police, and got them interested. It will not be possible
to hide the child for any length of time."
"You said that Mr. Paulding saw it?"
"What did he say?" Edith's voice trembled as she asked the
"He thinks there is something wrong."
"Did he tell you how the baby looked?"
"He said that it had large, beautiful brown eyes."
Edith clasped her hands, and drew them tightly against her bosom.
"Oh, father! if it should be my baby!"
"My dear, dear child," said Mr. Dinneford, putting his arms about
Edith and holding her tightly, "you torture yourself with a wild
dream. The thing is impossible."
"It is somebody's baby," sobbed Edith, her face on her father's
breast, "and it may be mine. Who knows?"
"We will do our best to find it," returned Mr. Dinneford, "and then
do what Christian charity demands. I am in earnest so far, and will
leave nothing undone, you may rest assured. The police have the
mayor's instructions to find the baby and give it into my care, and I
do not think we shall have long to wait."
An ear they thought not of, heard all this. Mrs. Dinneford's
suspicions had been aroused by many things in Edith's manner and
conduct of late, and she had watched her every look and word and
movement with a keenness of observation that let nothing escape.
Careful as her husband and daughter were in their interviews, it was
impossible to conceal anything from eyes that never failed in
watchfulness. An unguarded word here, a look of mutual intelligence
there, a sudden silence when she appeared, an unusual soberness of
demeanor and evident absorbed interest in something they were careful
to conceal, had the effect to quicken all Mrs. Dinneford's alarms and
She had seen from the top of the stairs a brief but excited
interview pass between Edith and her father as the latter stood in
the vestibule that morning, and she had noticed the almost wild look
on her daughter's face as she hastened back along the hall and ran up
to her room. Here she stayed alone for over an hour, and then came
down to the parlor, where she remained restless, moving about or
standing by the window for a greater part of the morning.
There was something more than usual on hand. Guilt in its guesses
came near the truth. What could all this mean, if it had not
something to do with the cast-off baby? Certainty at last came. She
was in the dining-room when Edith ran down to meet her father in the
hall, and slipped noiselessly and unobserved into one of the parlors,
where, concealed by a curtain, she heard everything that passed
between her husband and daughter.
Still as death she stood, holding down the strong pulses of her
heart. From the hall Edith and her father turned into one of the
parlors—the same in which Mrs. Dinneford was concealed behind the
curtain—and sat down.
"It had large brown eyes?" said Edith, a yearning tenderness in her
"Yes, and a finely-formed bead, showing good parentage," returned
"Didn't you find out who the women were—the two bad women the
little girl told me about? If we had their names, the police could
find them. The little girl's mother must know who they are."
"We have the name of one of them," said Mr. Dinneford. "She is
called Pinky Swett, and it can't be long before the police are on her
track. She is said to be a desperate character. Nothing more can be
done now; we must wait until the police work up the affair. I will
call at the mayor's office in the morning and find out what has been
Mrs. Dinneford heard no more. The bell rang, and her husband and
daughter left the parlor and went up stairs. The moment they were
beyond observation she glided noiselessly through the hall, and
reached her chamber without being noticed. Soon afterward she came
down dressed for visiting, and went out hastily, her veil closely
drawn. Her manner was hurried. Descending the steps, she stood for a
single moment, as if hesitating which way to go, and then moved off
rapidly. Soon she had passed out of the fashionable neighborhood in
which she lived. After this she walked more slowly, and with the air
of one whose mind was in doubt or hesitation. Once she stopped, and
turning about, slowly retraced her steps for the distance of a
square. Then she wheeled around, as if from some new and strong
resolve, and went on again. At last she paused before a
respectable-looking house of moderate size in a neighborhood remote
from the busier and more thronged parts of the city. The shutters
were all bowed down to the parlor, and the house had a quiet,
unobtrusive look. Mrs. Dinneford gave a quick, anxious glance up and
down the street, and then hurriedly ascended the steps and rang the
"Is Mrs. Hoyt in?" she asked of a stupid-looking girl who came to
"Yes, ma'am," was answered.
"Tell her a lady wants to see her;" and she passed into the
plainly-furnished parlor. There were no pictures on the walls nor
ornaments on the mantel-piece, nor any evidence of taste—nothing
home-like—in the shadowed room, the atmosphere of which was close
and heavy. She waited here for a few moments, when there was a rustle
of garments and the sound of light, quick feet on the stairs. A small,
dark-eyed, sallow-faced woman entered the parlor.
"Mrs. Bray—no, Mrs. Hoyt."
"Mrs. Dinneford;" and the two women stood face to face for a few
moments, each regarding the other keenly.
"Mrs. Hoyt—don't forget," said the former, with a warning emphasis
in her voice. "Mrs. Bray is dead."
In her heart Mrs. Dinneford wished that it were indeed so.
"Anything wrong?" asked the black-eyed little woman.
"Do you know a Pinky Swett?" asked Mrs. Dinneford, abruptly.
Mrs. Hoyt—so we must now call her—betrayed surprise at this
question, and was about answering "No," but checked herself and gave
a half-hesitating "Yes," adding the question, "What about her?"
Before Mrs. Dinneford could reply, however, Mrs. Hoyt took hold of
her arm and said, "Come up to my room. Walls have ears sometimes, and
I will not answer for these."
Mrs. Dinneford went with her up stairs to a chamber in the rear
part of the building.
"We shall be out of earshot here," said Mrs. Hoyt as she closed the
door, locking it at the same time. "And now tell me what's up, and
what about Pinky Swett."
"You know her?"
"More than slightly, I guess."
Mrs. Hoyt's eyes flashed impatiently. Mrs. Dinneford saw it, and
"She's got that cursed baby."
"How do you know?"
"No matter how I know. It's enough that I know. Who is she?"
"That question may be hard to answer. About all I know of her is
that she came from the country a few years ago, and has been drifting
about here ever since."
"What is she doing with that baby? and how did she get hold of it?"
"Questions more easily asked than answered."
"Pshaw! I don't want any beating about the bush, Mrs. Bray."
"Mrs. Hoyt," said the person addressed.
"Oh, well, Mrs. Hoyt, then. We ought to understand each other by
"I guess we do;" and the little woman arched her brows.
"I don't want any beating about the bush," resumed Mrs. Dinneford.
"I am here on business."
"Very well; let's to business, then;" and Mrs. Hoyt leaned back in
"Edith knows that this woman has the baby," said Mrs. Dinneford.
"What!" and Mrs. Hoyt started to her feet.
"The mayor has been seen, and the police are after her."
"How do you know?"
"Enough that I know. And now, Mrs. Hoyt, this thing must come to an
end, and there is not an instant to be lost. Has Pinky Swett, as she
is called, been told where the baby came from?"
"Not by me."
"That is more than I can say."
"What has become of the woman I gave it to?"
"She's about somewhere."
"When did you see her?"
Mrs. Hoyt pretended to think for some moments, and then replied:
"Not for a month or two."
"Had she the baby then?"
"No; she was rid of it long before that."
"Did she know this Pinky Swett?"
"Curse the brat! If I'd thought all this trouble was to come, I'd
have smothered it before it was half an hour old."
"Risky business," remarked Mrs. Hoyt.
"Safer than to have let it live," said Mrs. Dinneford, a hard, evil
expression settling around her mouth. "And now I want the thing done.
You understand. Find this Pinky Swett. The police are after her, and
may be ahead of you. I am desperate, you see. Anything but the
discovery and possession of this child by Edith. It must be got out of
the way. If it will not starve, it must drown."
Mrs. Dinneford's face was distorted by the strength of her evil
passions. Her eyes were full of fire, flashing now, and now glaring
like those of a wild animal.
"It might fall out of a window," said Mrs. Hoyt, in a low, even
voice, and with a faint smile on her lips. "Children fall out of
"But don't always get killed," answered Mrs. Dinneford, coldly.
"Or, it might drop from somebody's arms into the river—off the
deck of a ferryboat, I mean," added Mrs. Hoyt.
"That's better. But I don't care how it's done, so it's done."
"Accidents are safer," said Mrs. Hoyt.
"I guess you're right about that. Let it be an accident, then."
It was half an hour from the time Mrs. Dinneford entered this house
before she came away. As she passed from the door, closely veiled, a
gentleman whom she knew very well was going by on the opposite side
of the street. From something in his manner she felt sure that he had
recognized her, and that the recognition had caused him no little
surprise. Looking back two or three times as she hurried homeward, she
saw, to her consternation, that he was following her, evidently with
the purpose of making sure of her identity.
To throw this man off of her track was Mrs. Dinneford's next
concern. This she did by taking a street-car that was going in a
direction opposite to the part of the town in which she lived, and
riding for a distance of over a mile. An hour afterward she came back
to her own neighborhood, but not without a feeling of uneasiness. Just
as she was passing up to the door of her residence a gentleman came
hurriedly around the nearest corner. She recognized him at a glance.
It seemed as if the servant would never answer her ring. On he came,
until the sound of his steps was in her ears. He was scarcely ten
paces distant when the door opened and she passed in. When she gained
her room, she sat down faint and trembling. Here was a new element in
the danger and disgrace that were digging her steps so closely.
As we have seen, Edith did not make her appearance at the mission
sewing-school on the following Thursday, nor did she go there for
many weeks afterward. The wild hope that had taken her to Briar
street, the nervous strain and agitation attendant on that visit, and
the reaction occasioned by her father's failure to get possession of
the baby, were too much for her strength, and an utter prostration of
mind and body was the consequence. There was no fever nor sign of any
active disease—only weakness, Nature's enforced quietude, that life
and reason might be saved.
THE police were at fault. They found Pinky Swett, but were
not able to find the baby. Careful as they were in their surveillance,
she managed to keep them on the wrong track and to baffle every
effort to discover what had been done with the child.
In this uncertainty months went by. Edith came up slowly from her
prostrate condition, paler, sadder and quieter, living in a kind of
waking dream. Her father tried to hold her back from her mission work
among the poor, but she said, "I must go, father; I will die if I do
And so her life lost itself in charities. Now and then her mother
made an effort to draw her into society. She had not yet given up her
ambition, nor her hope of one day seeing her daughter take social rank
among the highest, or what she esteemed the highest. But her power
over Edith was entirely gone. She might as well have set herself to
turn the wind from its course as to influence her in anything. It was
all in vain. Edith had dropped out of society, and did not mean to go
back. She had no heart for anything outside of her home, except the
Christian work to which she had laid her hands.
The restless, watchful, suspicious manner exhibited for a long time
by Mrs. Dinneford, and particularly noticed by Edith, gradually wore
off. She grew externally more like her old self, but with something
new in the expression of her face when in repose, that gave a chill
to the heart of Edith whenever she saw its mysterious record, that
seemed in her eyes only an imperfect effort to conceal some guilty
Thus the mother and daughter, though in daily personal contact,
stood far apart—were internally as distant from each other as the
As for Mr. Dinneford, what he had seen and heard on his first visit
to Briar street had aroused him to a new and deeper sense of his duty
as a citizen. Against all the reluctance and protests of his natural
feelings, he had compelled himself to stand face to face with the
appalling degradation and crime that festered and rioted in that
almost Heaven-deserted region. He had heard and read much about its
evil condition; but when, under the protection of a policeman, he went
from house to house, from den to den, through cellar and garret and
hovel, comfortless and filthy as dog-kennels and pig-styes, and saw
the sick and suffering, the utterly vile and debauched, starving babes
and children with faces marred by crime, and the legion of harpies who
were among them as birds of prey, he went back to his home sick at
heart, and with a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness out of
which he found it almost impossible to rise.
We cannot stain our pages with a description of what he saw. It is
so vile and terrible, alas, so horrible, that few would credit it.
The few imperfect glimpses of life in that region which we have
already given are sad enough and painful enough, but they only hint
at the real truth.
"What can be done?" asked Mr. Dinneford of the missionary, at their
next meeting, in a voice that revealed his utter despair of a remedy.
"To me it seems as if nothing but fire could purify this region."
"The causes that have produced this would soon create another as
bad," was answered.
"What are the causes?"
"The primary cause," said Mr. Paulding, "is the effort of hell to
establish itself on the earth for the destruction of human souls; the
secondary cause lies in the indifference and supineness of the people.
'While the husband-men slept the enemy sowed tares.' Thus it was of
old, and thus it is to-day. The people are sleeping or indifferent,
the churches are sleeping or indifferent, while the enemy goes on
sowing tares for the harvest of death."
"Well may you say the harvest of death," returned Mr. Dinneford,
"And hell," added the missionary, with a stern emphasis. "Yes, sir,
it is the harvest of death and hell that is gathered here, and such a
full harvest! There is little joy in heaven over the sheaves that are
garnered in this accursed region. What hope is there in fire, or any
other purifying process, if the enemy be permitted to go on sowing his
evil seed at will?"
"How will you prevent it?" asked Mr. Dinneford.
"Not by standing afar off and leaving the enemy in undisputed
possession—not by sleeping while he sows and reaps and binds into
bundles for the fires, his harvests of human souls! We must be as
alert and wise and ready of hand as he; and God being our helper, we
can drive him from the field!"
"You have thought over this sad problem a great deal," said Mr.
Dinneford. "You have stood face to face with the enemy for years, and
know his strength and his resources. Have you any well-grounded hope
of ever dislodging him from this stronghold?"
"I have just said it, Mr. Dinneford. But until the churches and the
people come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty, he cannot
be dislodged. I am standing here, sustained in my work by a small
band of earnest Christian men and women, like an almost barren rock
in the midst of a down-rushing river on whose turbulent surface
thousands are being swept to destruction. The few we are able to
rescue are as a drop in the bucket to the number who are lost. In
weakness and sorrow, almost in despair sometimes, we stand on our
rock, with the cry of lost souls mingling with the cry of fiends in
our ears, and wonder at the churches and the people, that they stand
aloof—nay, worse, turn from us coldly often—when we press the
claims of this worse than heathen people who are perishing at their
"Sir," continued the missionary, warming on his theme, "I was in a
church last Sunday that cost its congregation over two hundred
thousand dollars. It was an anniversary occasion, and the collections
for the day were to be given to some foreign mission. How eloquently
the preacher pleaded for the heathen! What vivid pictures of their
moral and spiritual destitution he drew! How full of pathos he was,
even to tears! And the congregation responded in a contribution of
over three thousand dollars, to be sent somewhere, and to be disbursed
by somebody of whom not one in a hundred of the contributors knew
anything or took the trouble to inform themselves. I felt sick and
oppressed at such a waste of money and Christian sympathy, when
heathen more destitute and degraded than could be found in any foreign
land were dying at home in thousands every year, unthought of and
uncared for. I gave no amens to his prayers—I could not. They would
have stuck in my throat. I said to myself, in bitterness and anger,
'How dare a watchman on the walls of Zion point to an enemy afar off,
of whose movements and power and organization he knows but little,
while the very gates of the city are being stormed and its walls
broken down?' But you must excuse me, Mr. Dinneford. I lose my
calmness sometimes when these things crowd my thoughts too strongly. I
am human like the rest, and weak, and cannot stand in the midst of
this terrible wickedness and suffering year after year without being
stirred by it to the very inmost of my being. In my intense absorption
I can see nothing else sometimes."
He paused for a little while, and then said, in a quiet, business
"In seeking a remedy for the condition of society found here, we
must let common sense and a knowledge of human nature go hand in hand
with Christian charity. To ignore any of these is to make failure
certain. If the whisky-and policy-shops were all closed, the task
would be easy. In a single month the transformation would be
marvelous. But we cannot hope for this, at least not for a long time
to come—not until politics and whisky are divorced, and not until
associations of bad men cease to be strong enough in our courts to
set law and justice at defiance. Our work, then, must be in the face
of these baleful influences."
"Is the evil of lottery-policies so great that you class it with
the curse of rum?" asked Mr. Dinneford.
"It is more concealed, but as all-pervading and almost as
disastrous in its effects. The policy-shops draw from the people,
especially the poor and ignorant, hundreds of thousands of dollars
every year. There is no more chance of thrift for one who indulges in
this sort of gambling than there is for one who indulges in drink. The
vice in either case drags its subject down to want, and in most cases
to crime. I could point you to women virtuous a year ago, but who now
live abandoned lives; and they would tell you, if you would question
them, that their way downward was through the policy-shops. To get
the means of securing a hoped-for prize—of getting a hundred or two
hundred dollars for every single one risked, and so rising above want
or meeting some desperate exigency—virtue was sacrificed in an evil
"The whisky-shops brutalize, benumb and debase or madden with cruel
and murderous passions; the policy-shops, more seductive and
fascinating in their allurements, lead on to as deep a gulf of moral
ruin and hopeless depravity. I have seen the poor garments of a dying
child sold at a pawn-shop for a mere trifle by its infatuated mother,
and the money thrown away in this kind of gambling. Women sell or pawn
their clothing, often sending their little children to dispose of
these articles, while they remain half clad at home to await the daily
drawings and receive the prize they fondly hope to obtain, but which
rarely, if ever, comes.
"Children learn early to indulge this vice, and lie and steal in
order to obtain money to gratify it. You would be amazed to see the
scores of little boys and girls, white and black, who daily visit the
policy-shops in this neighborhood to put down the pennies they have
begged or received for stolen articles on some favorite
numbers—quick-witted, sharp, eager little wretches, who talk the
lottery slang as glibly as older customers. What hope is there in the
future for these children? Will their education in the shop of a
policy-dealer fit them to become honest, industrious citizens?"
All this was so new and dreadful to Mr. Dinneford that be was
stunned and disheartened; and when, after an interview with the
missionary that lasted over an hour, he went away, it was with a
feeling of utter discouragement. He saw little hope of making head
against the flood of evil that was devastating this accursed region.
alias Bray, found Pinky Swett, but she did
not find the poor cast-off baby. Pinky had resolved to make it her own
capital in trade. She parleyed and trifled with Mrs. Hoyt week after
week, and each did her best to get down to the other's secret, but in
vain. Mutually baffled, they parted at last in bitter anger.
One day, about two months after the interview between Mrs.
Dinneford and Mrs. Hoyt described in another chapter, the former
received in an envelope a paragraph cut from a newspaper. It read as
"A CHILD DROWNED.—A sad accident occurred yesterday on board the
steamer Fawn as she was going down the river. A woman was standing
with a child in her arms near the railing on the lower deck forward.
Suddenly the child gave a spring, and was out of her arms in a
moment. She caught after it frantically, but in vain. Every effort
was made to recover the child, but all proved fruitless. It did not
rise to the surface of the water."
Mrs. Dinneford read the paragraph twice, and then tore it into
little bits. Her mouth set itself sternly. A long sigh of relief came
up from her chest. After awhile the hard lines began slowly to
disappear, giving place to a look of satisfaction and comfort.
"Out of my way at last," she staid, rising and beginning to move
about the room. But the expression of relief and confidence which had
come into her face soon died out. The evil counselors that lead the
soul into sin become its tormentors after the sin is committed, and
torture it with fears. So tortured they this guilty and wretched woman
at every opportunity. They led her on step by step to do evil, and
then crowded her mind with suggestions of perils and consequences the
bare thought of which filled her with terror.
It was only a few weeks after this that Mrs. Dinneford, while
looking over a morning paper, saw in the court record the name of
Pinky Swett. This girl had been tried for robbing a man of his
pocket-book, containing five hundred dollars, found guilty, and
sentenced to prison for a term of two years.
"Good again!" exclaimed Mrs. Dinneford, with satisfaction. "The
After that she gradually rose above the doubts and dread of
exposure that haunted her continually, and set herself to work to draw
her daughter back again into society. But she found her influence over
Edith entirely gone. Indeed, Edith stood so far away from her that
she seemed more like a stranger than a child.
Two or three times had Pinky Swett gone to the mission
sewing-school in order to get a sight of Edith. Her purpose was to
follow her home, and so find out her name and were she lived. With
this knowledge in her possession, she meant to visit Mrs. Bray, and by
a sudden or casual mention by name of Edith as the child's mother
throw her off her guard, and lead her to betray the fact if it were
really so. But Edith was sick at home, and did not go to the school.
After a few weeks the little girl who was to identify Edith as the
person who had shown so much interest in the baby was taken away from
Grubb's court by her mother, and nobody could tell where to find her.
So, Pinky had to abandon her efforts in this direction, and Edith,
when she was strong enough to go back to the sewing-school, missed the
child, from whom she was hoping to hear something that might give a
clue to where the poor waif had been taken.
Up to the time of her arrest and imprisonment, Pinky had faithfully
paid the child's board, and looked in now and then upon the woman who
had it in charge, to see that it was properly cared for. How
marvelously the baby had improved in these two or three months! The
shrunken limb's were rounded into beautiful symmetry, and the pinched
face looked full and rosy. The large brown eyes, in which you once saw
only fear or a mystery of suffering, were full of a happy light, and
the voice rang out often in merry child-laughter. The baby had learned
to walk, and was daily growing more and more lovable.
But after Pinky's imprisonment there was a change. The woman—Mrs.
Burke by name—in whose care the child had been placed could not
afford to keep him for nothing. The two dollars week received for his
board added just enough to her income to enable her to remain at home.
But failing to receive this, she must go out for day's work in
families at least twice in every week.
What, then, was to be done with little Andy, as the baby was
called? At first Mrs. Burke thought of getting him into one of the
homes for friendless children, but the pleasant child had crept into
her affections, and she could not bear the thought of giving him up.
His presence stirred in her heart old and tender things long buried
out of sight, and set the past, with its better and purer memories,
side by side with the present. She had been many times a mother, but
her children were all dead but one, and she—Alas! the thought of her,
whenever it came, made her heart heavy and sad.
"I will keep him a while and see, how it comes out," she said, on
getting the promise of a neighbor to let Andy play with her children
and keep an eye on him whenever she was out. He had grown strong, and
could toddle about and take care of himself wonderfully well for a
child of his age.
And now began a new life for the baby—a life in which he must look
out for himself and hold his own in a hand-to-hand struggle. He had
no rights that the herd of children among whom he was thrown felt
bound to respect; and if he were not able to maintain his rights, he
must go down helplessly, and he did go down daily, often hourly. But
he had will and vital force, and these brought him always to his feet
again, and with strength increased rather than lost. On the days that
Mrs. Burke went out he lived for most of the time in the little
street, playing with the children that swarmed its pavements, often
dragged from before wheels or horses' hoofs by a friendly hand, or
lifted from some gutter in which he had fallen, dripping with mud.
When Mrs. Burke came home on the evening of her first day out, the
baby was a sight to see. His clothes were stiff with dirt, his shoes
and stockings wet, and his face more like that of a chimney-sweep
than anything else. But this was not all; there was a great lump as
large as a pigeon's egg on the back of his head, a black-and-blue
spot on his forehead and a bad cut on his upper lip. His joy at
seeing her and the tearful cry he gave as he threw his arm's about
her neck quite overcame Mrs. Burke, and caused her eyes to grow dim.
She was angry at the plight in which she found him, and said some
hard things to the woman who had promised to look after the child, at
which the latter grew angry in turn, and told her to stay at home and
take care of the brat herself, or put him in one of the homes.
The fresh care and anxiety felt by Mrs. Burke drew little Andy
nearer and made her reject more decidedly the thought of giving him
up. She remained at home on the day following, but did not find it so
easy as before to keep the baby quiet. He had got a taste of the free,
wild life of the street, of its companionship and excitement, and
fretted to go out. Toward evening she put by her work and went on the
pavement with Andy. It was swarming with children. At the sight of
them he began to scream with pleasure. Pulling his hand free from that
of Mrs. Burke, he ran in among them, and in a moment after was tumbled
over on the pavement. His head got a hard knock, but he didn't seem to
mind it, for he scrambled to his feet and commenced tossing his hands
about, laughing and crying out as wildly as the rest. In a little
while, over he was knocked again, and as he fell one of the children
stepped on his hand and hurt him so that he screamed with pain. Mrs.
Burke caught him in her arms; but when he found that she was going to
take him in the house he stopped crying and struggled to get down. He
was willing to take the knocks and falls. The pleasure of this free
life among children was more to him than any of the suffering it
On the next day Mrs. Burke had to go out again. Another neighbor
promised to look after Andy. When she returned at night, she found
things worse, if anything, than before. The child was dirtier, if
that were possible, and there were two great lumps on his head,
instead of one. He had been knocked down by a horse in the street,
escaping death by one of the narrowest of chances, and had been
discovered and removed from a ladder up which he had climbed a
distance of twenty feet.
What help was there? None that Mrs. Burke knew, except to give up
the child, and she was not unselfish enough for this. The thought of
sending him away was always attended with pain. It would take the
light out of her poor lonely life, into which he had brought a few
She could not, she would not, give him up. He must take his
chances. Ah, but they were hard chances! Children mature fast under
the stimulus of street-training. Andy had a large brain and an active,
nervous organization. Life in the open air gave vigor and hardness to
his body. As the months went by he learned self-reliance, caution,
self-protection, and took a good many lessons in the art of
aggression. A rapidly-growing child needs a large amount of
nutritious food to supply waste and furnish material for the
daily-increasing bodily structure. Andy did not get this. At two
years of age he had lost all the roundness of babyhood. His limbs
were slender, his body thin and his face colorless and
About this time—that is, when Andy was two years old—Mrs. Burke
took sick and died. She had been failing for several months, and
unable to earn sufficient even to pay her rent. But for the help of
neighbors and an occasional supply of food or fuel from some public
charity, she would have starved. At her death Andy had no home and no
one to care for him. One pitying neighbor after another would take him
in at night, or let him share a meal with her children, but beyond
this he was utterly cast out and friendless. It was summer-time when
Mrs. Burke died, and the poor waif was spared for a time the suffering
Now and then a mother's heart would be touched, and after a
half-reluctantly given supper and a place where he might sleep for
the night would mend and wash his soiled clothes and dry them by the
fire, ready for morning. The pleased look that she saw in his large,
sad eyes—for they had grown wistful and sad since the only one he
had known as a mother died—was always her reward, and something not
to be put out of her memory. Many of the children took kindly to
Andy, and often supplied him with food.
"Andy is so hungry, mamma; can't I take him something to eat?"
rarely failed to bring the needed bread for the poor little
cast-adrift. And if he was discovered now and then sound asleep in
bed with some pitying child who had taken him in stealthily after
dark, few were hard-hearted enough to push him into the street, or
make him go down and sleep on the kitchen floor. Yet this was not
unfrequently done. Poverty is sometimes very cruel, yet often tender
One day, a few months after Mrs. Burke's death, Andy, who was
beginning to drift farther and farther away from the little street,
yet always managing to get back into it as darkness came on, that he
might lay his tired body in some friendly place, got lost in strange
localities. He had wandered about for many hours, sitting now on some
step or cellar-door or horse-block, watching the children at play and
sometimes joining in their sports, when they would let him, with the
spontaneous abandon of a puppy or a kitten, and now enjoying some
street-show or attractive shop-window. There was nothing of the air of
a lost child about him. For all that his manner betrayed, his home
might have been in the nearest court or alley. So, he wandered along
from street to street without attracting the special notice of any—a
bare-headed, bare-footed, dirty, half-clad atom of humanity not three
Hungry, tired and cold, for the summer was gone and mid-autumn had
brought its chilly nights, Andy found himself, as darkness fell, in a
vile, narrow court, among some children as forlorn and dirty as
himself. It was Grubb's court—his old home—though in his memory
there was of course no record of the place.
Too tired and hungry for play, Andy was sitting on the step of a
wretched hovel, when the door opened and a woman called sharply the
names of her two children. They answered a little way off. "Come in
this minute, and get your suppers," she called again, and turning
back without noticing Andy, left the door open for her children. The
poor cast-adrift looked in and saw light and food and comfort—a home
that made him heartsick with longing, mean and disordered and
miserable as it would have appeared to your eyes and mine, reader.
The two children, coming at their mother's call, found him standing
just on the threshold gazing in wistfully; and as they entered, he,
drawn by their attraction, went in also. Then, turning toward her
children, the mother saw Andy.
"Out of this!" she cried, in quick anger, raising her hand and
moving hastily toward the child. "Off home with you!"
Andy might well be frightened at the terrible face and threatening
words of this woman, and he was frightened. But he did not turn and
fly, as she meant that he should. He had learned, young as he was,
that if he were driven off by every rebuff, he would starve. It was
only through importunity and perseverance that he lived. So he held
his ground, his large, clear eyes fixed steadily on the woman's face
as she advanced upon him. Something in those eyes and in the
firmly-set mouth checked the woman's purpose if she had meant
violence, but she thrust him out into the damp street, nevertheless,
though not roughly, and shut the door against him.
Andy did not cry; poor little baby that he was, he had long since
learned that for him crying did no good. It brought him nothing. Just
across the street a door stood open. As a stray kitten creeps in
through an open door, so crept he through this one, hoping for shelter
and a place of rest.
"Who're you?" growled the rough but not unkindly voice of a man,
coming from the darkness. At the same moment a light gleamed out from
a match, and then the steadier flame of a candle lit up the small
room, not more than eight or nine feet square, and containing little
that could be called furniture. The floor was bare. In one corner were
some old bits of carpet and a blanket. A small table, a couple of
chairs with the backs broken off and a few pans and dishes made up the
inventory of household goods.
As the light made all things clear in this poor room, Andy saw the
bloodshot eyes, and grizzly face of a man, not far past middle life.
"Who are you, little one?" he growled again as the light gave him a
view of Andy's face. This growl had in it a tone of kindness and
welcome to the ears of Andy who came forward, saying,
"Indeed! You're Andy, are you?" and he reached out one of his
"Yes; I'm Andy," returned the child, fixing his eyes with a look so
deep and searching on the man's face that they held him as by a kind
"Well, Andy, where did you come from?" asked the man.
"Don't know," was answered.
Andy shook his head.
"Where do you live?"
"Don't live nowhere," returned the child; "and I'm hungry."
"Hungry?" The man let the hand he was still holding drop, and
getting up quickly, took some bread from a closet and set it on the
Andy did not wait for an invitation, but seized upon the bread and
commenced eating almost ravenously. As he did so the man fumbled in
his pockets. There were a few pennies there. He felt them over,
counting them with his fingers, and evidently in some debate with
himself. At last, as he closed the debate, he said, with a kind of
"I say, young one, wouldn't you like some milk with your bread?"
"Milk! oh my I oh goody! yes," answered the child, a gleam of
pleasure coming into his face.
"Then you shall have some;" and catching up a broken mug, the man
went out. In a minute or two he returned with a pint of milk, into
which he broke a piece of bread, and then sat watching Andy as he
filled himself with the most delicious food he had tasted for weeks,
his marred face beaming with a higher satisfaction than he had known
for a long time.
"Is it good?" asked the man.
"I bet you!" was the cheery answer.
"Well, you're a little brick," laughed the man as he stroked Andy's
head. "And you don't live anywhere?"
"Is your mother dead?"
"And your father?"
"Hain't got no father."
"Would you like to live here?"
Andy looked toward the empty bowl from which he had made such a
satisfying meal, and said,
"It will hold us both. You're not very big;" and as he said this
the man drew his arm about the boy in a fond sort of way.
"I guess you're tired," he added, for Andy, now that an arm was
drawn around him, leaned against it heavily.
"Yes, I'm tired," said the child.
"And sleepy too, poor little fellow! It isn't much of a bed I can
give you, but it's better than a door-step or a rubbish corner."
Then he doubled the only blanket he had, and made as soft a bed as
possible. On this he laid Andy, who was fast asleep almost as soon as
"Poor little chap!" said the man, in a tender, half-broken voice,
as he stood over the sleeping child, candle in hand. "Poor little
The sight troubled him. He turned with a quick, disturbed movement
and put the candle down. The light streaming upward into his face
showed the countenance of a man so degraded by intemperance that
everything attractive had died out of it. His clothes were scanty,
worn almost to tatters, and soiled with the slime and dirt of many an
ash-heap or gutter where he had slept off his almost daily fits of
drunkenness. There was an air of irresolution about him, and a strong
play of feeling in his marred, repulsive face, as he stood by the
table on which he had set the candle. One hand was in his pocket,
fumbling over the few pennies yet remaining there.
As if drawn by an attraction he could not resist, his eyes kept
turning to the spot where Andy lay sleeping. Once, as they came back,
they rested on the mug from which the child had taken his supper of
bread and milk.
"Poor little fellow!" came from his lips, in a tone of pity.
Then he sat down by the table and leaned his head on his hand. His
face was toward the corner of the room where the child lay. He still
fumbled the small coins in his pocket, but after a while his fingers
ceased to play with them, then his hand was slowly withdrawn from the
pocket, a deep sigh accompanying the act.
After the lapse of several minutes he took up the candle, and going
over to the bed, crouched down and let the light fall on Andy's face.
The large forehead, soiled as it was, looked white to the man's eyes,
and the brown matted hair, as he drew it through his fingers, was soft
and beautiful. Memory had taken him back for years, and he was looking
at the fair forehead and touching the soft brown hair of another baby.
His eyes grew dim. He set the candle upon the floor, and putting his
hands over his face, sobbed two or three times.
When this paroxysm of feeling went off, he got up with a steadier
air, and set the light back upon the table. The conflict going on in
his mind was not quite over, but another look at Andy settled the
question. Stooping with a hurried movement, he blew out the candle,
then groped his way over to the bed, and lying down, took the child
in his arms and drew him close to his breast. So the morning found
them both asleep.
MR. DINNEFORD had become deeply interested in the work that
was going on in Briar street, and made frequent visits to the mission
house. Sometimes he took heart in the work, but oftener he suffered
great discouragement of feeling. In one of his many conversations
with Mr. Paulding he said,
"Looking as I do from the standpoint gained since I came here, I am
inclined to say there is no hope. The enemy is too strong for us."
"He is very strong," returned the missionary, "but God is stronger,
and our cause is his cause. We have planted his standard here in the
very midst of the enemy's territory, and have not only held our
ground for years, but gained some victories. If we had the people,
the churches and the law-officers on our side, we could drive him out
in a year. But we have no hope of this—at least not for a long time
to come; and so, as wisely as we can, as earnestly as we can, and with
the limited means at our control, we are fighting the foe and helping
the weak, and gaining a little every year."
"And you really think there is gain?"
"I know it," answered the missionary, with a ringing confidence in
his voice. "It is by comparisons that we are able to get at true
results. Come with me into our school-room, next door."
They passed from the office of the mission into the street.
"These buildings," said Mr. Paulding, "erected by that true
Christian charity which hopeth all things, stand upon the very site
of one of the worst dens once to be found in this region. In them we
have a chapel for worship, two large and well ventilated
school-rooms, where from two to three hundred children that would not
be admitted into any public school are taught daily, a hospital and
dispensary and bathrooms. Let me show you the school. Then I will give
you a measure of comparison."
Mr. Dinneford went up to the school-rooms. He found them crowded
with children, under the care of female teachers, who seemed to have
but little trouble in keeping them in order. Such a congregation of
boys and girls Mr. Dinneford had never seen before. It made his heart
ache as he looked into some of their marred and pinched, faces, most
of which bore signs of pain, suffering, want and evil. It moved him to
tears when he heard them sing, led by one of the teachers, a tender
hymn expressive of the Lord's love for poor neglected children.
"The Lord Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost," said
the missionary as they came down from the school-room, "and we are
trying to do the same work. And that our labor is not all in vain
will be evident when I show you what this work was in the beginning.
You have seen a little of what it is now."
They went back to the office of the missionary.
"It is nearly twenty years," said Mr. Paulding, "since the
organization of our mission. The question of what to do for the
children became at once the absorbing one. The only building in which
to open a Sunday-school that could be obtained was an old dilapidated
frame house used as a receptacle for bones, rags, etc.; but so
forbidding was its aspect, and so noisome the stench arising from the
putrefying bones and rotting rags, that it was feared for the health
of those who might occupy it. However it was agreed to try the effect
of scraping, scrubbing, white-washing and a liberal use of chloride of
lime. This was attended with such good effects that, notwithstanding
the place was still offensive to the olfactories, the managers
concluded to open in it our first Sabbath-school.
"No difficulty was experienced in gathering in a sufficient number
of children to compose a school; for, excited by such a novel
spectacle as a Sabbath-school in that region, they came in crowds.
But such a Sabbath-school as that first one was beyond all doubt the
rarest thing of the kind that any of those interested in its
formation had ever witnessed. The jostling, tumbling, scratching,
pinching, pulling of hair, little ones crying and larger ones
punching each other's heads and swearing most profanely, altogether
formed a scene of confusion and riot that disheartened the teachers
in the start, and made them begin to think they had undertaken a
"As to the appearance of these young Ishmaelites, it was plain that
they had rarely made the acquaintance of soap and water. Hands, feet
and face exhibited a uniform crust of mud and filth. As it was
necessary to obtain order, the superintendent, remembering that
'music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,' decided to try its
effects on the untamed group before him; and giving out a line of a
hymn adapted to the tune of 'Lily Dale,' he commenced to sing. The
effect was instantaneous. It was like oil on troubled waters. The
delighted youngsters listened to the first line, and then joined in
with such hearty good-will that the old shanty rang again.
"The attempt to engage and lead them in prayer was, however, a
matter of great difficulty. They seemed to regard the attitude of
kneeling as very amusing, and were reluctant to commit themselves so
far to the ridicule of their companions as to be caught in such a
posture. After reading to them a portion of the Holy Scriptures and
telling them of Jesus, they were dismissed, greatly pleased with
their first visit to a Sabbath-school.
"As for ourselves, we had also received a lesson. We found—what
indeed we had expected—that the poor children were very ignorant,
but we also found what we did not expect—namely, such an acute
intelligence and aptitude to receive instruction as admonished us of
the danger of leaving them to grow up under evil influences to become
master-spirits in crime and pests to society. Many of the faces that
we had just seen were very expressive—indeed, painfully so. Some of
them seemed to exhibit an unnatural and premature development of those
passions whose absence makes childhood so attractive.
"Hunger! ay, its traces were also plainly written there. It is
painful to see the marks of hunger on the human face, but to see the
cheeks of childhood blanched by famine, to behold the attenuated
limbs and bright wolfish eyes, ah! that is a sight.
"The organization of a day-school came next. There were hundreds of
children in the district close about the mission who were wholly
without instruction. They were too dirty, vicious and disorderly to
be admitted into any of the public schools; and unless some special
means of education were provided, they must grow up in ignorance. It
was therefore resolved to open a day-school, but to find a teacher
with her heart in such a work was a difficulty hard to be met;
moreover, it was thought by many unsafe for a lady to remain in this
locality alone, even though a suitable one should offer. But one
brave and self-devoted was found, and one Sunday it was announced to
the children in the Sabbath-school that a day school would be opened
in the same building at nine o'clock on Monday morning.
"About thirty neglected little ones from the lanes and alleys
around the mission were found at the schoolroom door at the appointed
hour. But when admitted, very few of them had any idea of the purpose
for which they were collected. The efforts of the teacher to seat them
proved a failure. The idea among them seemed to be that each should
take some part in amusing the company. One would jump from the back
of a bench upon which he had been seated, while others were creeping
about the floor; another, who deemed himself a proficient in turning
somersaults, would be trying his skill in this way, while his
neighbor, equally ambitious, would show the teacher how he could
stand on his head. Occasionally they would pause and listen to the
singing of a hymn or the reading of a little story; then all would be
confusion again; and thus the morning wore away. The first session
having closed, the teacher retired to her home, feeling that a
repetition of the scenes through which she had passed could scarcely
"Two o'clock found her again at the door, and the children soon
gathered around her. Upon entering the schoolroom, most of them were
induced to be seated, and a hymn was sung which they had learned in
the Sabbath-school. When it was finished, the question was asked,
'Shall we pray?' With one accord they answered, 'Yes.' 'And will you
be quiet?' They replied in the affirmative. All were then requested
to be silent and cover their faces. In this posture they remained
until the prayer was closed; and after resuming their seats, for some
minutes order was preserved. This was the only encouraging
circumstance of the day.
"For many weeks a stranger would scarcely have recognized a school
in this disorderly gathering which day after day met in the old
gloomy building. Very many difficulties which we may not name were
met and conquered. Fights were of common occurrence. A description of
one may give the reader an idea of what came frequently under our
"A rough boy about fourteen years of age, over whom some influence
had been gained, was chosen monitor one morning; and as he was a
leader in all the mischief, it was hoped that putting him upon his
honor would assist in keeping order. Talking aloud was forbidden. For
a few minutes matters went on charmingly, until some one, tired of the
restraint, broke silence. The monitor, feeling the importance of his
position, and knowing of but one mode of redress, instantly struck him
a violent blow upon the ear, causing him to scream with pain. In a
moment the school was a scene of confusion, the friends of each boy
taking sides, and before the cause of trouble could be ascertained
most of the boys were piled upon each other in the middle of the room,
creating sounds altogether indescribable. The teacher, realizing that
she was alone, and not well understanding her influence, feared for a
moment to interfere; but as matters were growing worse, something must
be done. She made an effort to gain the ear of the monitor, and asked
why he did so. He, confident of being in the right, answered,
"'Teacher, he didn't mind you; he spoke, and I licked him; and I'll
do it again if be don't mind you.'
"His services were of course no longer required, although he had
done his duty according to his understanding of the case.
"Thus it was at the beginning of this work nearly twenty years
ago," said the missionary. "Now we have an orderly school of over two
hundred children, who, but for the opportunity here given, would grow
up without even the rudiments of all education. Is not this a gain
upon the enemy? Think of a school like this doing its work daily among
these neglected little ones for nearly a score of years, and you will
no longer feel as if nothing had been done—as if no headway had been
gained. Think, too, of the Sabbath-school work in that time, and of
the thousands of children who have had their memories filled with
precious texts from the Bible, who have been told of the loving
Saviour who came into the world and suffered and died for them, and of
his tender love and perpetual care over his children, no matter how
poor and vile and afar off from him they may be. It is impossible that
the good seed of the word scattered here for so long a time should not
have taken root in many hearts. We know that they have, and can point
to scores of blessed instances—can take you to men and women, now
good and virtuous people, who, but for our day-and Sabbath-schools,
would, in all human probability, be now among the outcast, the vicious
and the criminal.
"So much for what has been done among the children. Our work with
men and women has not been so fruitful as might well be supposed, and
yet great good has been accomplished even among the hardened, the
desperate and the miserably vile and besotted. Bad as things are
to-day—awful to see and to contemplate, shocking and disgraceful to
a Christian community—they were nearly as bad again at the time this
mission set up the standard of God and made battle in his name. Our
work began as a simple religious movement, with street preaching."
"And with what effect?" asked Mr. Dinneford.
"With good effect, in a limited number of cases, I trust. In a
degraded community like this there will always be some who had a
different childhood from that of the crowds of young heathen who
swarm its courts and alleys; some who in early life had religious
training, and in whose memories were stored up holy things from
Scripture; some who have tender and sweet recollection of a mother
and home and family prayer and service in God's temples. In the
hearts of such God's Spirit in moving could touch and quicken and
flush with reviving life these old memories, and through them bring
conviction of sin, and an intense desire to rise out of the horrible
pit into which they had fallen and the clay wherein their feet were
mired. Angels could come near to these by what of good and true was
to be found half hidden, but not erased from their book of life, and
so help in the work of their recovery and salvation.
"But, sir, beyond this class there is small hope, I fear, in
preaching and praying. The great mass of these wretched beings have
had little or no early religious instruction. There, are but few, if
any, remains of things pure and good and holy stored away since
childhood in their memories to be touched and quickened by the Spirit
of God. And so we must approach them in another and more external way.
We must begin with their physical evils, and lessen these as fast as
possible; we must remove temptation from their doors, or get them as
far as possible out of the reach of temptation, but in this work not
neglecting the religious element as an agency, of untold power.
"Christ fed the hungry, and healed the sick, and clothed the naked,
and had no respect unto the persons of men. And we, if we would lift
up fallen humanity, must learn by his example. It is not by preaching
and prayer and revival meetings that the true Christian philanthropist
can hope to accomplish any great good among the people here, but by
doing all in his power to change their sad external condition and
raise them out of their suffering and degradation. Without some degree
of external order and obedience to the laws of natural life, it is, I
hold, next to impossible, to plant in the mind any seeds of spiritual
truth. There is no ground there. The parable of the sower that went
forth to sow illustrates this law. Only the seed that fell on good
ground brought forth fruit. Our true work, then, among this heathen
people, of whom the churches take so little care, is first to get the
ground in order for the planting, of heavenly seed. Failing in this,
our hope is small."
"This mission has changed its attitude since the beginning," said
"Yes. Good and earnest men wrought for years with the evil elements
around them, trusting in God's Spirit to change the hearts of the
vile and abandoned sinners among whom they preached and prayed. But
there was little preparation of the ground, and few seeds got
lodgment except in stony places, by the wayside and among thorns. Our
work now is to prepare the ground, and in this work, slowly as it is
progressing, we have great encouragement. Every year we can mark the
signs of advancement. Every year we make some head against the enemy.
Every year our hearts take courage and are refreshed by the smell of
grasses and the odor of flowers and the sight of fruit-bearing plants
in once barren and desolate places. The ground is surely being made
ready for the sower."
"I am glad to hear you speak so encouragingly," returned Mr.
Dinneford. "To me the case looked desperate—wellnigh hopeless.
Anything worse than I have witnessed here seemed impossible."
"It is only by comparisons, as I said before, that we can get at
the true measure of change and progress," answered the missionary.
"Since we have been at work in earnest to improve the external life
of this region, we have had much to encourage us. True, what we have
done has made only a small impression on the evil that exists here;
but the value of this impression lies in the fact that it shows what
can be done with larger agencies. Double our effective force, and we
can double the result. Increase it tenfold, and ten times as much can
"What is your idea of this work?" said Mr. Dinneford. "In other
words, what do you think the best practical way to purify this
"If you draw burning brands and embers close together, your fire
grows stronger; if you scatter them apart, it will go out," answered
the missionary. "Moral and physical laws correspond to each other.
Crowd bad men and women together, and they corrupt and deprave each
other. Separate them, and you limit their evil power and make more
possible for good the influence of better conditions. Let me give you
an instance: A man and his wife who had lived in a wretched way in one
of the poorest hovels in Briar street for two years, and who had
become idle and intemperate, disappeared from among us about six
months ago. None of their neighbors knew or cared much what had
become of them. They had two children. Last week, as I was passing
the corner of a street in the south-western part of the city in which
stood a row of small new houses, a neatly-dressed woman came out of a
store with a basket in her hand. I did not know her, but by the
brightening look in her face I saw that she knew me.
"'Mr. Paulding,' she said, in a pleased way, holding out her hand;
'you don't know me,' she added, seeing the doubt in my face. 'I am
"'Impossible!' I could not help exclaiming.
"'But it's true, Mr. Paulding,' she averred, a glow of pleasure on
her countenance. 'We've turned over a new leaf.'
"'So I should think from your appearance,' I replied. 'Where do you
"'In the third house from the corner,' pointing to the neat row of
small brick houses I have mentioned. 'Come and look at our new home.
I want to tell you about it!'
"I was too much pleased to need a second invitation.
"'I've got as clean steps as my neighbors,' she said, with pride in
her voice, 'and shades to my windows, and a bright door-knob. It
wasn't so in Briar street. One had no heart there. Isn't this nice?'
"And she glanced around the little parlor we had entered.
"It was nice, compared to the dirty and disorderly place they had
called their home in Briar street. The floor was covered with a new
ingrain carpet. There were a small table and six cane-seat chairs in
the room, shades at the windows, two or three small pictures on the
walls and some trifling ornaments on the mantel. Everything was clean
and the air of the room sweet.
"'This is my little Emma,' she said as a cleanly-dressed child came
into the room; 'You remember she was in the school.'
"I did remember her as a ragged, dirty-faced child, forlorn and
neglected, like most of the children about here. It was a wonderful
"'And now,' I said, 'tell me how all this has come about.'
"'Well, you see, Mr. Paulding,' she answered, 'there was no use in
John and me trying to be anything down there. It was temptation on
every hand, and we were weak and easily tempted. There was nothing to
make us look up or to feel any pride. We lived like our neighbors, and
you know what kind of a way that was.
"'One day John said to me, "Emma," says he, "it's awful, the way
we're living; we'd better be dead." His voice was shaky-like, and it
kind of made me feel bad. "I know it, John," said I, "but what can we
do?" "Go 'way from here," he said. "But where?" I asked. "Anywhere.
I'm not all played out yet;" and he held up his hand and shut it
tight. "There's good stuff in me yet, and if you're willing to make a
new start, I am." I put my hand in his, and said, "God helping me, I
will try, John." He went off that very day and got a room in a decent
neighborhood, and we moved in it before night. We had only one
cart-load, and a wretched load of stuff it was. But I can't tell you
how much better it looked when we got it into our new room, the walls
of which were nicely papered, and the paint clean and white. I fixed
up everything and made it as neat as possible. John was so pleased.
"It feels something like old times," he said. He had been knocking
about a good while, picking up odd jobs and not half working, but he
took heart now, quit drinking and went to work in good earnest, and
was soon making ten dollars a week, every cent of which he brought
home. He now gets sixteen dollars. We haven't made a back step since.
But it wouldn't have been any use trying if we'd stayed in Briar
street. Pride helped us a good deal in the beginning, sir. I was
ashamed not to have my children looking as clean as my neighbors, and
ashamed not to keep things neat and tidy-like. I didn't care anything
about it in Briar street.'
"I give you this instance, true in nearly every particular," said
the missionary, "in order to show you how incurable is the evil
condition of the people here; unless we can get the burning brands
apart, they help to consume each other."
"But how to get them apart? that is the difficult question," said
"There are two ways," was replied—"by forcing the human brands
apart, and by interposing incombustible things between them. As we
have no authority to apply force, and no means at hand for its
exercise if we had the authority, our work has been in the other
direction. We have been trying to get in among these burning brands
elements that would stand the fire, and, so lessen the ardor of
"How are you doing this?"
"By getting better houses for the people to live in. Improve the
house, make it more sightly and convenient, and in most cases you
will improve the person who lives in it. He will not kindle so
easily, though he yet remain close to the burning brands."
"And are you doing this?"
"A little has been done. Two or three years ago a building
association was organized by a few gentlemen of means, with a view to
the purchase of property in this district and the erection of small
but good houses, to be rented at moderate cost to honest and
industrious people. A number of such houses have already been built,
and they are now occupied by tenants of a better class, whose
influence on their neighbors is becoming more and more apparent every
day. Brady street—once the worst place in all this district—has
changed wonderfully. There is scarcely a house in the two blocks
through which it runs that does not show some improvement since the
association pulled down half a dozen of its worst frame tenements and
put neat brick dwellings in their places. It is no uncommon thing now
to see pavement sweeping and washing in front of some of the smallest
and poorest of the houses in Brady street where two years ago the dirt
would stick to your feet in passing. A clean muslin half curtain, a
paper shade or a pot of growing plants will meet your eyes at a window
here and there as you pass along. The thieves who once harbored in
this street, and hid their plunder in cellars and garrets until it
could be sold or pawned, have abandoned the locality. They could not
live side by side with honest industry."
"And all this change may be traced to the work of our building
association, limited as are its means and half-hearted as are its
operations. The worst of our population—the common herd of thieves,
beggars and vile women who expose themselves shamelessly on the
street—are beginning to feel less at home and more in danger of
arrest and exposure. The burning brands are no longer in such close
contact, and so the fires of evil are raging less fiercely. Let in
the light, and the darkness flees. Establish the good, and evil
shrinks away, weak and abashed."
SO the morning found them fast asleep. The man awoke first
and felt the child against his bosom, soft and warm. It was some
moments ere he understood what it meant. It seemed as if the wretched
life he had been leading was all a horrible dream out of which he had
awakened, and that the child sleeping in his bosom was his own
tenderly-loved baby. But the sweet illusions faded away, and the
hard, sorrowful truth stood out sternly before him.
Then Andy's eyes opened and looked into his face. There was nothing
scared in the look-hardly an expression of surprise. But the man saw
a mute appeal and a tender confidence that made his heart swell and
yearn toward the homeless little one.
"Had a nice sleep?" he asked, in a tone of friendly encouragement.
Andy nodded his head, and then gazed curiously about the room.
"Want some breakfast?"
The hungry face lit up with a flash of pleasure.
"Of course you do, little one."
The man was on his feet by this time, with his hand in his pocket,
from which he drew a number of pennies. These he counted over
carefully twice. The number was just ten. If there had been only
himself to provide for, it would not have taken long to settle the
question of expenditure. Five cents at an eating-shop where the
caterer supplied himself from the hodge-podge of beggars' baskets
would have given him a breakfast fit for a dog or pig, while the
remaining five cents would have gone for fiery liquor to quench a
But another mouth had too be fed. All at once this poor degraded
man had risen to a sense of responsibility, and was practicing the
virtue of self-denial. A little child was leading him.
He had no toilette to make, no ablutions to practice. There was
neither pail nor wash-basin in his miserable kennel. So, without any
delay of preparation, he caught up the broken mug and went out, as
forlorn a looking wretch as was to be seen in all that region. Almost
every house that he passed was a grog-shop, and his nerves were all
unstrung and his mouth and throat dry from a night's abstinence. But
he was able to go by without a pause. In a few minutes he returned
with a loaf of bread, a pint of milk and a single dried sausage.
What a good breakfast the two made. Not for a long time had the man
so enjoyed a meal. The sight of little Andy, as he ate with the fine
relish of a hungry child, made his dry bread and sausage taste
sweeter than anything that had passed his lips for weeks.
Something more than the food he had taken steadied the man's nerves
and allayed his thirst. Love was beating back into his heart—love
for this homeless wanderer, whose coming had supplied the lost links
in the chain which bound him to the past and called up memories that
had slept almost the sleep of death for years. Good resolutions began
forming in his mind.
"It may be," he said to himself as new and better impressions than
he had known for a long time began to crowd upon him, "that God has
led this baby here."
The thought sent a strange thrill to his soul. He trembled with
excess of feeling. He had once been a religious man; and with the old
instinct of dependence on God, he clasped his hands together with a
sudden, desperate energy, and looking up, cried, in a half-despairing,
"Lord, help me!"
No earnest cry like that ever goes up without an instant answer in
the gift of divine strength. The man felt it in a stronger purpose
and a quickening hope. He was conscious of a new power in himself.
"God being my helper," he said in the silence of his heart, "I will
be a man again."
There was a long distance between him and a true manhood. The way
back was over very rough and difficult places, and through dangers
and temptations almost impossible to resist. Who would have faith in
him? Who would help him in his great extremity? How was he to live?
Not any longer by begging or petty theft. He must do honest work.
There was no hope in anything else. If God were to be his helper, he
must be honest, and work. To this conviction he had come.
But what was to be done with Andy while he was away trying to earn
something? The child might get hurt in the street or wander off in
his absence and never find his way back. The care he felt for the
little one was pleasure compared to the thought of losing him.
As for Andy, the comfort of a good breakfast and the feeling that
he had a home, mean as it was, and somebody to care for him, made his
heart light and set his lips to music.
When before had the dreary walls of that poor hovel echoed to the
happy voice of a light-hearted child? But there was another echo to
the voice, and from walls as long a stranger to such sounds as
these—the walls in the chambers of that poor man's memory. A
wellnigh lost and ruined soul was listening to the far-off voices of
children. Sunny-haired little ones were thronging about him; he was
looking into their tender eyes; their soft arms were clinging to his
neck; he was holding them tightly clasped to his bosom.
"Baby," he said. It was the word that came most naturally to his
Andy, who was sitting where a few sunbeams came in through a rent
in the wall, with the warm light on his head, turned and looked into
the bleared but friendly eyes gazing at him so earnestly.
"I'm going out, baby. Will you stay here till I come back?"
"Yes," answered the child, "I'll stay."
"I won't be gone very long, and I'll bring you an apple and
something good for dinner."
Andy's face lit up and his eyes danced.
"Don't go out until I come back. Somebody might carry you off, and
then I couldn't give you the nice red apple."
"I'll stay right here," said Andy, in a positive tone.
"And won't go into the street till I come back?"
"No, I won't." Andy knit his brows and closed his lips firmly.
"All right, little one," answered the man, in a cheery sort of
voice that was so strange to his own ears that it seemed like the
voice of somebody else.
Still, he could not feel satisfied. He was living in the midst of
thieves to whom the most insignificant thing upon which they could
lay their hands was booty. Children who had learned to be hard and
cruel thronged the court, and he feared, if he left Andy alone in the
hovel, that it would not only be robbed of its meagre furniture, but
the child subjected to ill-treatment. He had always fastened the door
on going out, but hesitated now about locking Andy in.
All things considered, it was safest, he felt, to lock the door.
There was nothing in the room that could bring harm to the child—no
fire or matches, no stairs to climb or windows out of which he could
"I guess I'd better lock the door, hadn't I, so that nobody can
carry off my little boy?" he asked of Andy.
Andy made no objections. He was ready for anything his kind friend
"And you mustn't cry or make a noise. The police might break in if
"All right," said Andy, with the self-assertion of a boy of ten.
The man stroked the child's head and ran his fingers through his
hair in a fond way; then, as one who tore himself from an object of
attraction, went hastily out and locked the door.
And now was to begin a new life. Friendless, debased, repulsive in
appearance, everything about him denoting the abandoned drunkard,
this man started forth to get honest bread. Where should he go? What
could he do? Who would give employment to an object like him? The
odds were fearfully against him—no, not that, either. In outward
respects, fearful enough were the odds, but on the other side
agencies invisible to mortal sight were organizing for his safety. In
to his purpose to lead a new life and help a poor homeless child God's
strength was flowing. Angels were drawing near to a miserable wreck of
humanity with hands outstretched to save. All heaven was coming to the
He was shuffling along in the direction of a market-house, hoping
to earn a little by carrying home baskets, when he came face to face
with an old friend of his better days, a man with whom he had once
held close business relations.
"Mr. Hall!" exclaimed this man in a tone of sorrowful surprise,
stopping and looking at him with an expression of deepest pity on his
countenance. "This is dreadful!"
"You may well say that, Mr. Graham. It dreadful enough. No one
knows that better than I do," was answered, with a bitterness that his
old friend felt to be genuine.
"Why, then, lead this terrible life a day longer?" asked the
"I shall not lead it a day longer if God will help me," was
replied, with a genuineness of purpose that was felt by Mr. Graham.
"Give me your hand on that, Andrew Hall," he exclaimed. Two hands
closed in a tight grip.
"Where are you going now?" inquired the friend.
"I'm in search of something to do—something that will give me
honest bread. Look at my hand."
He held it up.
"It shakes, you see. I have not tasted liquor this morning. I could
have bought it, but I did not."
"I said, 'God being my helper, I will be a man again,' and I am
"Andrew Hall," said his old friend, solemnly, as he laid his hand
on his shoulder, "if you are really in earnest—if you do mean, in the
help of God, to try—all will be well. But in his help alone is there
any hope. Have you seen Mr. Paulding?"
"He has no faith in me. I have deceived him too often."
"What ground of faith is there now?" asked Mr. Graham.
"This," was the firm but hastily spoken answer. "Last night as I
sat in the gloom of my dreary hovel, feeling so wretched that I wished
I could die, a little child came in—a poor, motherless, homeless
wanderer, almost a baby—and crept down to my heart, and he is lying
there still, Mr. Graham, soft, and warm and precious, a sweet burden
to bear. I bought him a supper and a breakfast of bread and milk with
the money, I had saved for drink, and now, both for his sake and mine,
I am out seeking for work. I have locked him in, so that no one can
harm or carry him away while I earn enough to buy him his dinner, and
maybe something better to wear, poor little homeless thing!"
There was a genuine earnestness and pathos about the man that could
not be mistaken.
"I think," said Mr. Graham, his voice not quite steady, "that God
brought us together this morning. I know Mr. Paulding. Let us go
first to the mission, and have some talk with him. You must have a
bath and better, and cleaner clothes before you are in a condition to
The bath and a suit of partly-worn but good clean clothes were
supplied at the mission house.
"Now come with me, and I will find you something to do," said the
But Andrew Hall stood hesitating.
"The little child—I told him I'd come back soon. He's locked up
all alone, poor baby!"
He spoke with a quiver in his voice.
"Oh, true, true!" answered Mr. Graham; "the baby must be looked
after;" and he explained to the missionary.
"I will go round with you and get the child," said Mr. Paulding.
"My wife will take care of him while you are away with Mr. Graham."
They found little Andy sitting patiently on the floor. He did not
know the friend who had given him a home and food and loving words,
and looked at him half scared and doubting. But his voice made the
child spring to his feet with a bound, and flushed his thin-face with
the joy of a glad recognition.
Mrs. Paulding received him with a true motherly kindness, and soon
a bath and clean clothing wrought as great a change in the child as
they had done in the man.
"I want your help in saving him," said Mr. Graham, aside, to the
missionary. "He was once among our most respectable citizens, a good
church-member, a good husband and father, a man of ability and large
influence. Society lost much when it lost him. He is well worth
saving, and we must do it if possible. God sent him this little child
to touch his heart and flood it with old memories, and then he led me
to come down here that I might meet and help him just when his good
purposes made help needful and salvation possible. It is all of his
loving care and wise providence of his tender mercy, which is over the
poorest and weakest and most degraded of his children. Will you give
him your special care?"
"It is the work I am here to do," answered the missionary. "The
Master came to seek and to save that which was lost, and I am his
"The child will have to be provided for," said Mr. Graham. "It
cannot, of course, be left with him. It needs a woman's care."
"It will not do to separate them," returned the missionary. "As you
remarked just now, God sent him this little child to touch his heart
and lead him back from the wilderness in which he has strayed. His
safety depends on the touch of that hand. So long as he feels its
clasp and its pull, he will walk in the new way wherein God is
setting his feet. No, no; the child must be left with him—at least
for the present. We will take care of it while he is at work during
the day, and at night it can sleep in his arms, a protecting angel."
"What kind of a place does he live in?" asked Mr. Graham.
"A dog might dwell there in comfort, but not a man," replied the
Mr. Graham gave him money: "Provide a decent room. If more is
required, let me know."
He then went away, taking Mr. Hall with him.
"You will find the little one here when you come back," said Mr.
Paulding as he saw the anxious, questioning look that was cast toward
Clothed and in his right mind, but in no condition for work, was
Andrew Hall. Mr. Graham soon noticed, as he walked by his side, that
he was in a very nervous condition.
"What had you for breakfast this morning" he asked, the right
thought coming into his mind.
"Not much. Some bread and a dried sausage."
"Oh dear! that will never do! You must have something more
nutritious—a good beefsteak and a cup of coffee to steady your
And in a few minutes they were in an eating-house. When they came
out, Hall was a different man. Mr. Graham then took him to his store
and set him to work to arrange and file a number of letters and
papers, which occupied him for several hours. He saw that he had a
good dinner and at five o'clock gave him a couple of dollars for his
day's work, aid after many kind words of advice and assurance told
him to come back in the morning, and he would find something else for
him to do.
Swiftly as his feet would carry him, Andrew Hall made his way to
the Briar street mission. He did not at first know the clean, handsome
child that lifted his large brown eyes to his face as he came in, nor
did the child know him until he spoke. Then a cry of pleasure broke
from the baby's lips, and he ran to the arms reached out to clasp him.
"We'll go home now," he said, as if anxious to regain possession of
"Not back to Grubb's court," was answered by Mr. Paulding. "If you
are going to be a new man, you must have a new and better home, and
I've found one for you just a little way from here. It's a nice clean
room, and I'll take you there. The rent is six dollars a month, but
you can easily pay that when you get fairly to work."
The room was in the second story of a small house, better kept than
most of its neighbors, and contained a comfortable bed, with other
needed furniture, scanty, but clean and good. It was to Mr. Hall like
the chamber of a prince compared with what he had known for a long
time; and as he looked around him and comprehended something of the
blessed change that was coming over his life, tears filled his eyes.
"Bring Andy around in the morning," said the missionary as he
turned to go. "Mrs. Paulding will take good care of him."
That night, after undressing the child and putting on him the clean
night-gown which good Mrs. Paulding had not forgotten, he said,
"And now Andy will say his prayers."
Andy looked at him with wide-open, questioning eyes. Mr. Hall saw
that he was not understood.
"You know, 'Now I lay me'?" he said.
"No, don't know it," replied Andy.
"'Our Father,' then?"
The child knit his brow. It was plain that he did not understand
what his good friend meant.
"You've said your prayers?"
Andy shook his head in a bewildered way.
"Never said your prayers!" exclaimed Mr. Hall, in a voice so full
of surprise and pain that Andy grew half frightened.
"Poor baby!" was said, pityingly, a moment after. Then the
question, "Wouldn't you like to say your prayers?" brought the quick
"Kneel down, then, right here." Andy knelt, looking up almost
wonderingly into the face that bent over him.
"We have a good Father in heaven," said Mr. Hall, with tender
reverence in his tone, pointing upward as he spoke, "He loves us and
takes care of us. He brought you to me, and told me to love you and
take care of you for him, and I'm going to do it. Now, I want you to
say a little prayer to this good and kind Father before you go to
bed. Will you?"
"Yes, I will," came the ready answer.
"Say it over after me. 'Now I lay me down to sleep.'"
Andy repeated the words, his little hands clasped together, and
followed through the verse which thousands of little children in
thousands of Christian homes were saying at the very same hour.
There was a subdued expression on the child's face as he rose from
his knees; and when Mr. Hall lifted him from the floor to lay him in
bed, he drew his arms about his neck and hugged him tightly.
How beautiful the child looked as he lay with shut eyes, the long
brown lashes fringing his flushed cheeks, that seemed already to have
gained a healthy roundness! The soft breath came through his parted
lips, about which still lingered the smile of peace that rested there
after his first prayer was said; his little hands lay upon his breast.
As Mr. Hall sat gazing at this picture there came a rap on his
door. Then the missionary entered. Neither of the men spoke for some
moments. Mr. Paulding comprehended the scene, and felt its sweet and
"Blessed childhood!" he said, breaking the silence. "Innocent
childhood! The nearer we come to it, the nearer we get to heaven."
Then, after a pause, he added, "And heaven is our only hope, Mr.
"I have no hope but in God's strength," was answered, in a tone of
"God is our refuge, our rock of defence, our hiding-place, our sure
protector. If we trust in him, we shall dwell in safety," said the
mission. "I am glad to hear you speak of hoping in God. He will give
you strength if you lean upon him, and there is not power enough in
all hell to drag you down if you put forth this God-given strength.
But remember, my friend, that you must use it as if it were your own.
You must resist. God's strength outside of our will and effort is of
no use to any of us in temptation. But looking to our Lord and Saviour
in humble yet earnest prayer for help in the hour of trial and need if
we put forth our strength in resistance of evil, small though it be,
then into our weak efforts will come an influx of divine power that
shall surely give us the victory. Have you a Bible?"
Mr. Hall shook his head.
"I have brought you one;" and the missionary drew a small Bible
from his pocket. "No man is safe without a Bible."
"Oh, I am glad! I was just wishing for a Bible," said Hall as he
reached out his hand to receive the precious book.
"If you read it every night and morning—if you treasure its holy
precepts in your memory, and call them up in times of trial, or when
evil enticements are in your way—God can come near to your soul to
succor and to save, for the words of the holy book are his words, and
he is present in them. If we take them into our thoughts, reverently
seeking to obey them, we make a dwelling-place for the Lord, so that
he can abide with us; and in his presence there is safety."
"And nowhere else," responded Hall, speaking from a deep sense of
"Nowhere else," echoed the missionary. "And herein lies the hope or
the despair of men. It is pitiful, it is heart-aching, to see the
vain but wild and earnest efforts made by the slaves of intemperance
to get free from their cruel bondage. Thousands rend their fetters
every year after some desperate struggle, and escape. But, alas! how
many are captured and taken back into slavery! Appetite springs upon
them in some unguarded moment, and in their weakness there is none to
succor. They do not go to the Strong for strength, but trust in
themselves, and are cast down. Few are ever redeemed from the slavery
of intemperance but those who pray to God and humbly seek his aid. And
so long as they depend on him, they are safe. He will be as a wall of
fire about them."
As the missionary talked, the face of Mr. Hall underwent a
remarkable change. It grew solemn and very thoughtful. His hands drew
together and the fingers clasped. At the last words of Mr. Paulding a
deep groan came from his heart; and lifting his gaze upward, he cried
"Lord, save me, or I perish!"
"Let us pray," said the missionary, and the two men knelt together,
one with bowed head and crouching body, the other with face uplifted,
tenderly talking to Him who had come down to the lowliest and the
vilest that he might make them pure as the angels, about the poor
prodigal now coming back to his Father's house.
After the prayer, Mr. paulding read a chapter from the Bible aloud,
and then, after words of hope and comfort, went away.
"I TAKE reproof to myself," said Mr. Dinneford. "As one of
your board of managers, I ought to have regarded my position as more
than a nominal one. I understand better now what you said about the
ten or twenty of our rich and influential men who, if they could be
induced to look away for a brief period from their great enterprises,
and concentrate thought and effort upon the social evils, abuse of
justice, violations of law, poverty and suffering that exist here and
in other parts of our city, would inaugurate reforms and set
beneficent agencies at work that would soon produce marvelous changes
"Ah, yes," sighed Mr. Paulding. "If we had for just a little while
the help of our strong men—the men of brains and will and money, the
men who are used to commanding success, whose business it is to
organize forces and set impediments at defiance, the men whose word
is a kind of law to the people—how quickly, and as if by magic,
would all this change!
"But we cannot now hope to get this great diversion in our favor.
Until we do we must stand in the breach, small in numbers and weak
though we are—must go on doing our best and helping when we may.
Help is help and good is good, be it ever so small. If I am able to
rescue but a single life where many are drowning, I make just so much
head against death and destruction. Shall I stand off and refuse to
put forth my hand because I cannot save a score?
"Take heart, Mr. Dinneford. Our work is not in vain. Its fruits may
be seen all around. Bad as you find everything, it is not so bad as
it was. When our day-school was opened, the stench from the filthy
children who were gathered in was so great that the teachers were
nauseated. They were dirty in person as well as dirty in their
clothing. This would not do. There was no hope of moral purity while
such physical impurity existed. So the mission set up baths, and made
every child go in and thoroughly wash his body. Then they got
children's clothing—new and old—from all possible sources, and put
clean garments on their little scholars. From the moment they were
washed and cleanly clad, a new and better spirit came upon them. They
were more orderly and obedient, and more teachable. There was, or
seemed to be, a tenderer quality in their voices as they sang their
hymns of praise."
Just then there came a sudden outcry and a confusion of voices from
the street. Mr. Dinneford arose quickly and went to the window. A
man, apparently drunk and in a rage, was holding a boy tightly
gripped by the collar with one hand and cuffing him about the head
and face with the other.
"It's that miserable Blind Jake!" said Mr. Paulding.
In great excitement, Mr. Dinneford threw up the window and called
for the police. At this the man stopped beating the boy, but swore at
him terribly, his sightless eyes rolling and his face distorted in a
frightful way. A policeman who was not far off came now upon the
"What's all this about?" he asked, sternly.
"Jake's drunk again, that's the row," answered a voice.
"Lock him up, lock him up!" cried two or three from the crowd.
An expression of savage defiance came into the face of the blind
man, and he moved his arms and clenched his fist like one who was
bent on desperate resistance. He was large and muscular, and, now
that he was excited by drink and bad passions, had a look that was
"Go home and behave yourself," said the policeman, not caring to
have a single-handed tussle with the human savage, whose strength and
desperate character he well knew.
Blind Jake, as he was called, stood for a few moments half defiant,
growling and distorting his face until it looked more like a wild
animal's than a man's, then jerked out the words,
"Where's that Pete?" with a sound like the crack of a whip.
The boy he had been beating in his drunken fury, and who did not
seem to be much hurt, came forward from the crowd, and taking him by
the hand, led him away.
"Who is this blind man? I have seen him before," said Mr.
"You may see him any day standing at the street corners, begging, a
miserable-looking object, exciting the pity of the humane, and
gathering in money to spend in drunken debauchery at night. He has
been known to bring in some days as high as ten and some fifteen
dollars, all of which is wasted in riot before the next morning. He
lives just over the way, and night after night I can hear his howls
and curses and laughter mingled with those of the vile women with
whom he herds."
"Surely this cannot be?" said Mr. Dinneford.
"Surely it is," was replied. "I know of what I speak. There is
hardly a viler wretch in all our city than this man, who draws
hundreds—I might say, without exaggeration, thousands—of dollars
from weak and tender-hearted people every year to be spent as I have
said; and he is not the only one. Out of this district go hundreds of
thieves and beggars every day, spreading themselves over the city and
gathering in their harvests from our people. I see them at the street
corners, coming out of yards and alley-gates, skulking near unguarded
premises and studying shop-windows. They are all impostors or thieves.
Not one of them is deserving of charity. He who gives to them wastes
his money and encourages thieving and vagrancy. One half of the
successful burglaries committed on dwelling-houses are in consequence
of information gained by beggars. Servant-girls are lured away by old
women who come in the guise of alms-seekers, and by well-feigned
poverty and a seeming spirit of humble thankfulness—often of pious
trust in God—win upon their sympathy and confidence. Many a poor weak
girl has thus been led to visit one of these poor women in the hope of
doing her some good, and many a one has thus been drawn into evil
ways. If the people only understood this matter as I understand it,
they would shut hearts and hands against all beggars. I add beggary as
a vice to drinking and policy-buying as the next most active agency in
the work of making paupers and criminals."
"But there are deserving poor," said Dinneford. "We cannot shut our
hearts against all who seek for help."
"The deserving poor," replied Mr. Paulding, "are never common
beggars—never those who solicit in the street or importune from
house to house. They try always to help themselves, and ask for aid
only when in great extremity. They rarely force themselves on your
attention; they suffer and die often in dumb despair. We find them in
these dreary and desolate cellars and garrets, sick and starving and
silent, often dying, and minister to them as best we can. If the money
given daily to idle and vicious beggars could be gathered into a fund
and dispensed with a wise Christian charity, it would do a vast amount
of good; now it does only evil."
"You are doubtless right in this," returned Mr. Dinneford. "Some
one has said that to help the evil is to hurt the good, and I guess
his saying is near the truth."
"If you help the vicious and the idle," was answered, "you simply
encourage vice and idleness, and these never exist without doing a
hurt to society. Withhold aid, and they will be forced to work, and
so not only do something for the common good, but be kept out of the
evil ways into which idleness always leads.
"So you see, sir, how wrong it is to give alms to the vast crew of
beggars that infest our cities, and especially to the children who
are sent out daily to beg or steal as opportunity offers.
"But there is another view of the case, continued Mr. Paulding,
"that few consider, and which would, I am sure, arouse the people to
immediate action if they understood it as I do. We compare the nation
to a great man. We call it a 'body politic.' We speak of its head, its
brain, its hands, its feet, its arteries and vital forces. We know
that no part of the nation can be hurt without all the other parts
feeling in some degree the shock and sharing the loss or suffering.
What is true of the great man of the nation is true of our smaller
communities, our States and cities and towns. Each is an aggregate
man, and the health and well-being of this man depend on the
individual men and the groups and societies of men by which it is
constituted. There cannot be an unhealthy organ in the human system
without a communication of disease to the whole body. A diseased liver
or heart or lung, a useless hand or foot, an ulcer or local
obstruction, cannot exist without injury and impediment to the whole.
In the case of a malignant ulcer, how soon the blood gets poisoned!
"Now, here is a malignant ulcer in the body politic of our city. Is
it possible, do you think, for it to exist, and in the virulent
condition we find it, and not poison the blood of our whole
community? Moral and spiritual laws are as unvarying in their action,
out of natural sight though they be, as physical laws. Evil and good
are as positive entities as fire, and destroy or consume as surely. As
certainly as an ulcer poisons with its malignant ichor this blood that
visits every part of the body, so surely is this ulcer poisoning every
part of our community. Any one who reflects for a moment will see that
it cannot be otherwise. From this moral ulcer there flows out daily
and nightly an ichor as destructive as that from a cancer. Here theft
and robbery and murder have birth, nurture and growth until full
formed and organized, and then go forth to plunder and destroy. The
life and property of no citizen is safe so long as this community
exists. It has its schools of instruction for thieves and
housebreakers, where even little children are educated to the business
of stealing and robbery. Out from it go daily hundreds of men and
women, boys and girls, on their business of beggary, theft and the
enticement of the weak and unwary into crime. In it congregate human
vultures and harpies who absorb most of the plunder that is gained
outside, and render more brutal and desperate the wretches they rob in
"Let me show you how this is done. A man or a woman thirsting for
liquor will steal anything to get money for whisky. The article
stolen may be a coat, a pair of boots or a dress—something worth
from five to twenty dollars. It is taken to one of these harpies, and
sold for fifty cents or a dollar—anything to get enough for a drunken
spree. I am speaking only of what I know. Then, again, a man or a
woman gets stupidly drunk in one of the whisky-shops. Before he or she
is thrown out upon the street, the thrifty liquor-seller 'goes
through' the pockets of the insensible wretch, and confiscates all he
finds. Again, a vile woman has robbed one of her visitors, and with
the money in her pocket goes to a dram-shop. The sum may be ten
dollars or it may be two hundred. A glass or so unlooses her tongue;
she boasts of her exploit, and perhaps shows her booty. Not once in a
dozen times will she take this booty away. If there are only a few
women in the shop, the liquor-seller will most likely pounce on her at
once and get the money by force. There is no redress. To inform the
police is to give information against herself. He may give her back a
little to keep her quiet or he may not, just as he feels about it. If
he does not resort to direct force, he will manage in some other way
to get the money. I could take you to the dram-shop of a man scarcely
a stone's throw from this place who came out of the State's prison
less than four years ago and set up his vile trap where it now stands.
He is known to be worth fifty thousand dollars to-day. How did he make
this large sum? By the profits of his bar? No one believes this. It
has been by robbing his drunken and criminal customers whenever he
could get them in his power."
"I am oppressed by all this," said Mr. Dinneford. "I never dreamed
of such a state of things."
"Nor does one in a hundred of our good citizens, who live in quiet
unconcern with this pest-house of crime and disease in their midst.
And speaking of disease, let me give you another fact that should be
widely known. Every obnoxious epidemic with which our city has been
visited in the last twenty years has originated here—ship fever,
relapsing fever and small-pox—and so, getting a lodgment in the body
politic, have poured their malignant poisons into the blood and
diseased the whole. Death has found his way into the homes of
hundreds of our best citizens through the door opened for him here."
"Can this be so?" exclaimed Mr. Dinneford.
"It is just as I have said," was replied. "And how could it be
otherwise? Whether men take heed or not, the evil they permit to lie
at their doors will surely do them harm. Ignorance of a statute, a
moral or a physical law gives no immunity from consequence if the law
be transgressed—a fact that thousands learn every year to their
sorrow. There are those who would call this spread of disease,
originating here, all over our city, a judgment from God, to punish
the people for that neglect and indifference which has left such a
hell as this in their midst. I do not so read it. God has no pleasure
in punishments and retributions. The evil comes not from him. It
enters through the door we have left open, just as a thief enters our
dwellings, invited through our neglect to make the fastenings sure. It
comes under the operations of a law as unvarying as any law in
physics. And so long as we have this epidemic-breeding district in the
very heart of our city, we must expect to reap our periodical harvests
of disease and death. What it is to be next year, or the next, none
"Does not your perpetual contact with all this give your mind an
unhealthy tone—a disposition to magnify its disastrous
consequences?" said Mr. Dinneford.
The missionary dropped his eyes. The flush and animation went out
of his face.
"I leave you to judge for yourself," he answered, after a brief
silence, and in a voice that betrayed a feeling of disappointment.
"You have the fact before you in the board of health, prison,
almshouse, police, house of refuge, mission and other reports that
are made every year to the people. If they hear not these, neither
will they believe, though one rose from the dead."
"All is too dreadfully palpable for unbelief," returned Mr.
Dinneford. "I only expressed a passing thought."
"My mind may take an unhealthy tone—does often, without doubt,"
said Mr. Paulding. "I wonder, sometimes, that I can keep my head
clear and my purposes steady amid all this moral and physical
disorder and suffering. But exaggeration of either this evil or its
consequences is impossible. The half can never be told."
Mr. Dinneford rose to go. As he did so, two little Italian
children, a boy and a girl, not over eight years of age, tired,
hungry, pinched and starved-looking little creatures, the boy with a
harp slung over his shoulder, and the girl carrying a violin, went
past on the other side.
"Where in the world do all of these little wretches come from?"
asked Mr. Dinneford. "They are swarming our streets of late.
Yesterday I saw a child who could not be over two years of age
tinkling her triangle, while an older boy and girl were playing on a
harp and violin. She seemed so cold and tired that it made me sad to
look at her. There is something wrong about this."
"Something very wrong," answered the missionary. "Doubtless you
think these children are brought here by their parents or near
relatives. No such thing. Most of them are slaves. I speak advisedly.
The slave-trade is not yet dead. Its abolition on the coast of Africa
did not abolish the cupidity that gave it birth. And the 'coolie'
trade, one of its new forms, is not confined to the East."
"I am at a loss for your meaning," said Mr. Dinneford.
"I am not surprised. The new slave-trade, which has been carried on
with a secresy that is only now beginning to attract attention, has
its source of supply in Southern Italy, from which large numbers of
children are drawn every year and brought to this country.
"The headquarters of this trade—cruel enough in some of its
features to bear comparison with the African slave-trade itself—are
in New York. From this city agents are sent out to Southern Italy
every year, where little intelligence and great poverty exist. These
agents tell grand stories of the brilliant prospects offered to the
young in America. Let me now read to you from the published testimony
of one who has made a thorough investigation of this nefarious
business, so that you may get a clear comprehension of its extent and
"He says: 'One of these agents will approach the father of a
family, and after commenting upon the beauty of his children, will
tell him that his boys "should be sent at once to America, where they
must in time become rich." "There are no poor in America." "The
children should go when young, so that they may grow up with the
people and the better acquire the language." "None are too young or
too old to go to America." The father, of course, has not the means to
go himself or to send his children to this delightful country. The
agent then offers to take the children to America, and to pay forty
or fifty dollars to the father upon his signing an indenture
abandoning all claims upon them. He often, also, promises to pay a
hundred or more at the end of a year, but, of course, never does it.
"'After the agent has collected a sufficient number of children,
they are all supplied with musical instruments, and the trip on foot
through Switzerland and France begins. They are generally shipped to
Genoa, and often to Marseilles, and accomplish the remainder of the
journey to Havre or Calais by easy stages from village to village.
Thus they become a paying investment from the beginning. This journey
occupies the greater portion of the summer months; and after a long
trip in the steerage of a sailing-vessel, the unfortunate children
land at Castle Garden. As the parents never hear from them again, they
do not know whether they are doing well or not.
"'They are too young and ignorant to know how to get themselves
delivered from oppression; they do not speak our language, and find
little or no sympathy among the people whom they annoy. They are thus
left to the mercy of their masters, who treat them brutally, and
apparently without fear of the law or any of its officers. They are
crowded into small, ill-ventilated, uncarpeted rooms, eighteen or
twenty in each, and pass the night on the floor, with only a blanket
to protect them from the severity of the weather. In the mornings they
are fed by their temporary guardian with maccaroni, served in the
filthiest manner in a large open dish in the centre of the room, after
which they are turned out into the streets to beg or steal until late
"'More than all this, when the miserable little outcasts return to
their cheerless quarters, they are required to deliver every cent
which they have gathered during the day; and if the same be deemed
insufficient, the children are carefully searched and soundly beaten.
"'The children are put through a kind of training in the arts of
producing discords on their instruments, and of begging, in the whole
of which the cruelty of the masters and the stolid submission of the
pupils are the predominant features. The worst part of all is that the
children become utterly unfitted for any occupation except vagrancy
"You have the answer to your question, 'Where do all these little
wretches come from?'" said the missionary as he laid aside the paper
from which he had been reading. "Poor little slaves!"
EDITH'S life, as we have seen, became lost, so to speak, in
charities. Her work lay chiefly with children, She was active in
mission-schools and in two or three homes for friendless little ones,
and did much to extend their sphere of usefulness. Her garments were
plain and sombre, her fair young face almost colorless, and her aspect
so nun-like as often to occasion remark.
Her patience and tender ways with poor little children, especially
with the youngest, were noticed by all who were associated with her.
Sometimes she would show unusual interest in a child just brought to
one of the homes, particularly if it were a boy, and only two or
three years old. She would hover about it and ask it questions, and
betray an eager concern that caused a moment's surprise to those who
noticed her. Often, at such times, the pale face would grow warm with
the flush of blood sent out by her quicker heartbeats, and her eyes
would have a depth of expression and a brightness that made her beauty
seem the reflection of some divine beatitude. Now and then it was
observed that her manner with these little waifs and cast-adrifts that
were gathered in from the street had in it an expression of pain, that
her eyes looked at them sadly, sometimes tearfully. Often she came
with light feet and a manner almost cheery, to go away with eyes cast
down and lips set and curved and steps that were slow and heavy.
Time had not yet solved the mystery of her baby's life or death;
and until it was solved, time had no power to abate the yearning at
her heart, to dull the edge of anxious suspense or to reconcile her to
a Providence that seemed only cruel. In her daily prayers this thought
of cruelty in God often came in to hide his face from her, and she
rose from her knees more frequently in a passion of despairing tears
than comforted. How often she pleaded with God, weeping bitter tears,
that he would give her certainty in place of terrible doubts! Again,
she would implore his loving care over her poor baby, wherever it
So the days wore on, until nearly three years had elapsed since
Edith's child was born.
It was Christmas eve, but there were no busy hands at work, made
light by loving hearts, in the home of Mr. Dinneford. All its
chambers were silent. And yet the coming anniversary was not to go
uncelebrated. Edith's heart was full of interest for the children of
the poor, the lowly, the neglected and the suffering, whom Christ
came to save and to bless. Her anniversary was to be spent with them,
and she was looking forward to its advent with real pleasure.
"We have made provision for four hundred children, said her father.
"The dinner is to be at twelve o'clock, and we must be there by nine
or ten. We shall be busy enough getting everything ready. There are
forty turkeys to cut up and four hundred plates to fill."
"And many willing hands to do it," remarked Edith, with a quiet
smile; "ours among the rest."
"You'd better keep away from there," spoke up Mrs. Dinneford, with
a jar in her voice. "I don't see what possesses you. You can find poor
little wretches anywhere, if you're so fond of them, without going to
Briar street. You'll bring home the small-pox or something worse."
Neither Edith nor her father made any reply, and there fell a
silence on the group that was burdensome to all. Mrs. Dinneford felt
it most heavily, and after the lapse of a few minutes withdrew from
"A good dinner to four hundred hungry children, some of them half
starved," said Edith as her mother shut the door. "I shall enjoy the
sight as much as they will enjoy the feast."
A little after ten o'clock on the next morning, Mr. Dinneford and
Edith took their way to the mission-school in Briar street. They
found from fifteen to twenty ladies and gentlemen already there, and
at work helping to arrange the tables, which were set in the two long
upper rooms. There were places for nearly four hundred children, and
in front of each was an apple, a cake and a biscuit, and between every
four a large mince pie. The forty turkeys were at the baker's, to be
ready at a little before twelve o'clock, the dinner-hour, and in time
for the carvers, who were to fill the four hundred plates for the
At eleven o'clock Edith and her father went down to the chapel on
the first floor, where the children had assembled for the morning
exercises, that were to continue for an hour.
Edith had a place near the reading-desk where she could see the
countenances of all those children who were sitting side by side in
row after row and filling every seat in the room, a restless, eager,
expectant crowd, half disciplined and only held quiet by the order
and authority they had learned to respect. Such faces as she looked
into! In scarcely a single one could she find anything of true
childhood, and they were so marred by suffering and evil! In vain she
turned from one to another, searching for a sweet, happy look or a
face unmarked by pain or vice or passion. It made her heart ache. Some
were so hard and brutal in their expression, and so mature in their
aspect, that they seemed like the faces of debased men on which a
score of years, passed in sensuality and crime, had cut their deep
deforming lines, while others were pale and wasted, with half-scared
yet defiant eyes, and thin, sharp, enduring lips, making one tearful
to look at them. Some were restless as caged animals, not still for a
single instant, hands moving nervously and bodies swaying to and fro,
while others sat stolid and almost as immovable as stone, staring at
the little group of men and women in front who were to lead them in
the exercises of the morning.
At length one face of the many before her fixed the eyes of Edith.
It was the face of a little boy scarcely more than three years old.
He was only a few benches from her, and had been hidden from view by
a larger boy just in front of him. When Edith first noticed this
child, he was looking at her intently from a pair of large, clear
brown eyes that had in them a wistful, hungry expression. His hair,
thick and wavy, had been smoothly brushed by some careful hand, and
fell back from a large forehead, the whiteness and smoothness of
which was noticeable in contrast with those around him. His clothes
were clean and good.
As Edith turned again and again to the face of this child, the
youngest perhaps in the room, her heart began to move toward him.
Always she found him with his great earnest eyes upon her. There
seemed at last to be a mutual fascination. His eyes seemed never to
move from her face; and when she tried to look away and get
interested in other faces, almost unconsciously to herself her eyes
would wander back, and she would find herself gazing at the child.
At eleven o'clock Mr. Paulding announced that the exercises for the
morning would begin, when silence fell on the restless company of
undisciplined children. A hymn was read, and then, as the leader
struck the tune, out leaped the voices of these four hundred
children, each singing with a strange wild abandon, many of them
swaying their heads and bodies in time to the measure. As the first
lines of the hymn,
"Jesus, gentle Shepherd, lead us, Much we need thy tender care,"
swelled up from the lips of those poor neglected children, the eyes
of Edith grew blind with tears.
After a prayer was offered up, familiar addresses, full of kindness
and encouragement, were made to the children, interspersed with
singing and other appropriate exercises. These were continued for an
hour. At their close the children were taken up stairs to the two
long school-rooms, in which their dinner was to be served. Here were
Christmas trees loaded with presents, wreaths of evergreen on the
walls and ceilings, and illuminated texts hung here and there, and
everything was provided to make the day's influence as beautiful and
pleasant as possible to the poor little ones gathered in from
cheerless and miserable homes.
Meantime, the carvers had been very busy at work on the forty
turkeys—large, tender fellows, full of dressing and cooked as nicely
as if they had been intended for a dinner of aldermen—cutting them up
and filling the plates. There was no stinting of the supply. Each
plate was loaded with turkey, dressing, potatoes that had been baked
with the fowls, and a heaping spoonful of cranberry sauce, and as fast
as filled conveyed to the tables by the lady attendants, who had come,
many of them, from elegant homes, to assist the good missionary's wife
and the devoted teachers of the mission-school in this labor of love.
And so, when the four hundred hungry children came streaming into the
rooms, they found tables spread with such bounty as the eyes of many
of them had never looked upon, and kind gentlemen and beautiful ladies
already there to place them at these tables and serve them while
It was curious and touching, and ludicrous sometimes, to see the
many ways in which the children accepted this bountiful supply of
food. A few pounced upon it like hungry dogs, devouring whole
platefuls in a few minutes, but most of them kept a decent restraint
upon themselves in the presence of the ladies and gentlemen, for whom
they could not but feel an instinctive respect. Very few of them could
use at fork except in the most awkward manner. Some tried to cut their
meat, but failing in the task, would seize it with their hands and
eagerly convey it to their hungry mouths. Here and there would be seen
a mite of a boy sitting in a kind of maze before a heaped-up
dinner-plate, his hands, strangers, no doubt, to knife or fork, lying
in his lap, and his face wearing a kind of helpless look. But he did
not have to wait long. Eyes that were on the alert soon saw him; ready
hands cut his food, and a cheery voice encouraged him to eat. If these
children had been the sons and daughters of princes, they could not
have been ministered to with a more gracious devotion to their wants
and comfort than was shown by their volunteer attendants.
Edith, entering into the spirit of the scene, gave herself to the
work in hand with an interest that made her heart glow with pleasure.
She had lost sight of the little boy in whom she had felt so sudden
and strong an interest, and had been searching about for him ever
since the children came up from the chapel. At last she saw him, shut
in and hidden between two larger boys, who were eating with a hungry
eagerness and forgetfulness of everything around them almost painful
to see. He was sitting in front of his heaped-up plate, looking at the
tempting food, with his knife and fork lying untouched on the table.
There was a dreamy, half-sad, half-bewildered look about him.
"Poor little fellow!" exclaimed Edith as soon as she saw him, and
in a moment she was behind his chair.
"Shall I cut it up for you?" she asked as she lifted his knife and
fork from the table.
The child turned almost with a start, and looked up at her with a
quick flash of feeling on his face. She saw that he remembered her.
"Let me fix it all nicely," she said as she stooped over him and
commenced cutting up his piece of turkey. The child did not look at
his plate while she cut the food, but with his head turned kept his
large eyes on her countenance.
"Now it's all right," said Edith, encouragingly, as she laid the
knife and fork on his plate, taking a deep breath at the same time,
for her heart beat so rapidly that her lungs was oppressed with the
inflowing of blood. She felt, at the same time, an almost
irresistible desire to catch him up into her arms and draw him
lovingly to her bosom. The child made no attempt to eat, and still
kept looking at her.
"Now, my little man," she said, taking his fork and lifting a piece
of the turkey to his mouth. It touched his palate, and appetite
asserted its power over him; his eyes went down to his plate with a
hungry eagerness. Then Edith put the fork into his hand, but he did
not know how to use it, and made but awkward attempts to take up the
Mrs. Paulding, the missionary's wife, came by at the moment, and
seeing the child, put her hand on him, and said, kindly,
"Oh, it's little Andy," and passed on.
"So your name's Andy?"
"Yes, ma'am." It was the first time Edith had heard his voice. It
fell sweet and tender on her ears, and stirred her heart strangely.
"Where do you live?"
He gave the name of a street she had never heard of before.
"But you're not eating your dinner. Come, take your fork just so.
There! that's the way;" and Edith took his hand, in which he was
still holding the fork, and lifted two or three mouthfuls, which he
ate with increasing relish. After that he needed no help, and seemed
to forget in the relish of a good dinner the presence of Edith, who
soon found others who needed her service.
The plentiful meal was at last over, and the children, made happy
for one day at least, were slowly dispersing to their dreary homes,
drifting away from the better influences good men and women had been
trying to gather about them even for a little while. The children
were beginning to leave the tables when Edith, who had been busy
among them, remembered the little boy who had so interested her, and
made her way to the place where he had been sitting. But he was not
there. She looked into the crowd of boys and girls who were pressing
toward the door, but could not see the child. A shadow of
disappointment came over her feelings, and a strange heaviness
weighed over her heart.
"Oh, I'm so sorry," she said to herself. "I wanted to see him
She pressed through the crowd of children, and made her way down
among them to the landing below and out upon the street, looking this
way and that, but could not see the child. Then she returned to the
upper rooms, but her search was in vain. Remembering that Mrs.
Paulding had called him by name, she sought for the missionary's wife
and made inquiry about him.
"Do you mean the little fellow I called Andy?" said Mrs. Paulding.
"Yes, that's the one," returned Edith.
"A beautiful boy, isn't he?"
"Indeed he is. I never saw such eyes in a child. Who is he, Mrs.
Paulding, and what is he doing here? He cannot be the child of
depraved or vicious parents."
"I do not think he is. But from whence he came no one knows. He
drifted in from some unknown land of sorrow to find shelter on our
inhospitable coast. I am sure that God, in his wise providence, sent
him here, for his coming was the means of saving a poor debased man
who is well worth the saving."
Then she told in a few words the story of Andy's appearance at Mr.
Hall's wretched hovel and the wonderful changes that followed—how a
degraded drunkard, seemingly beyond the reach of hope and help, had
been led back to sobriety and a life of honest industry by the hand
of a little child cast somehow adrift in the world, yet guarded and
guided by Him who does not lose sight in his good providence of even
a single sparrow.
"Who is this man, and where does he live?" asked Mr. Dinneford, who
had been listening to Mrs. Paulding's brief recital.
"His name is Andrew Hall," was replied.
"Andrew Hall!" exclaimed Mr. Dinneford, with a start and a look of
"Yes, sir. That is his name, and he is now living alone with the
child of whom we have been speaking, not very far from here, but in a
much better neighborhood. He brought Andy around this morning to let
him enjoy the day, and has come for him, no doubt, and taken him
"Give me the street and number, if you please, Mr. Paulding," said
Mr. Dinneford, with much repressed excitement. "We will go there at
once," he added, turning to his daughter.
Edith's face had become pale, and her father felt her hand tremble
as she laid it on his arm.
At this moment a man came up hurriedly to Mrs. Paulding, and said,
with manifest concern,
"Have you seen Andy, ma'am? I've been looking all over, but can't
"He was here a little while ago," answered the missionary's wife.
"We were just speaking of him. I thought you'd taken him home."
"Mr. Hall!" said Edith's father, in a tone of glad recognition,
extending his hand at the same time.
"Mr. Dinneford!" The two men stood looking at each other, with shut
lips and faces marked by intense feeling, each grasping tightly the
"It is going to be well with you once more, my dear old friend!"
said Mr. Dinneford.
"God being my helper, yes!" was the firm reply. "He has taken my
feet out of the miry clay and set them on firm ground, and I have
promised him that they shall not go down into the pit again. But
Andy! I must look for him."
And he was turning away.
"I saw Andy a little while ago," now spoke up a woman who had come
in from the street and heard the last remark.
"Where?" asked Mr. Hall.
"A girl had him, and she was going up Briar street on the run,
fairly dragging Andy after her. She looked like Pinky Swett, and I do
believe it was her. She's been in prison, you know but I guess her
Mr. Hall stopped to hear no more, but ran down stairs and up the
street, going in the direction said to have been taken by the woman.
Edith sat down, white and faint.
"Pinky Swett!" exclaimed Mrs. Paulding. "Why, that's the girl who
had the child you were looking after a long time ago, Mr. Dinneford."
"Yes; I remember the name, and no doubt this is the very child she
had in her possession at that time. Are you sure she has been in
prison for the last two years?" and Mr. Dinneford turned to the woman
who had mentioned her name.
"Oh yes, Sir; I remember all about it," answered the woman. "She
stole a man's pocket-book, and got two years for it."
"You know her?"
"Oh yes, indeed! And she's a bad one, I can tell you. She had
somebody's baby round in Grubb's court, and it was 'most starved to
death. I heard it said it belonged to some of the big people up town,
and that she was getting hush-money for it, but I don't know as it was
true. People will talk."
"Do you know what became of that baby?" asked Edith, with
ill-repressed excitement. Her face was still very pale, and her
forehead contracted as by pain.
"No, ma'am. The police came round asking questions, and the baby
wasn't seen in Grubb's court after that."
"You think it was Pinky Swett whom you saw just now?"
"I'm dead sure of it, sir," turning to Mr. Dinneford, who had asked
"And you are certain it was the little boy named Andy that she had
"I'm as sure as death, sir."
"Did he look frightened?"
"Oh dear, yes, sir—scared as could be. He pulled back all his
might, but she whisked him along as if he'd been only a chicken. I
saw them go round the corner of Clayton street like the wind."
Mr. Paulding now joined them, and became advised of what had
happened. He looked very grave.
"We shall find the little boy," he said. "He cannot be concealed by
this wretched woman as the baby was; he is too old for that. The
police will ferret him out. But I am greatly concerned for Mr. Hall.
That child is the bond which holds him at safe anchorage. Break this
bond, and he may drift to sea again. I must go after him."
And the missionary hurried away.
For over an hour Edith and her father remained at the mission
waiting for some news of little Andy. At the end of this time Mr.
Paulding came back with word that nothing could be learned beyond the
fact that a woman with a child answering to the description of Andy
had been seen getting into an up-town car on Clayton street about one
o'clock. She came, it was said by two or three who professed to have
seen her, from the direction of Briar street. The chief of police had
been seen, and he had already telegraphed to all the stations. Mr.
Hall was at the central station awaiting the result.
After getting a promise from Mr. Paulding to send a messenger the
moment news of Andy was received, Mr. Dinneford and Edith returned
AS Edith glanced up, on arriving before their residence, she
saw for a moment her mother's face at the window. It vanished like the
face of a ghost, but not quick enough to prevent Edith from seeing
that it was almost colorless and had a scared look. They did not find
Mrs. Dinneford in the parlor when they came in, nor did she make her
appearance until an hour afterward, when dinner was announced. Then it
was plain to both her husband and daughter that something had occurred
since morning to trouble her profoundly. The paleness noticed by Edith
at the window and the scared look remained. Whenever she turned her
eyes suddenly upon her mother, she found her looking at her with a
strange, searching intentness. It was plain that Mrs. Dinneford saw in
Edith's face as great a change and mystery as Edith saw in hers, and
the riddle of her husband's countenance, so altered since morning, was
harder even than Edith's to solve.
A drearier Christmas dinner, and one in which less food was taken
by those who ate it, could hardly have been found in the city. The
Briar-street feast was one of joy and gladness in comparison. The
courses came and went with unwonted quickness, plates bearing off the
almost untasted viands which they had received. Scarcely a word was
spoken during the meal. Mrs. Dinneford asked no question about the
dinner in Briar street, and no remark was made about it by either
Edith or her father. In half the usual time this meal was ended. Mrs.
Dinneford left the table first, and retired to her own room. As she
did so, in taking her handkerchief from her pocket, she drew out a
letter, which fell unnoticed by her upon the floor. Mr. Dinneford was
about calling her attention to it when Edith, who saw his purpose and
was near enough to touch his hand, gave a quick signal to forbear. The
instant her mother was out of the room she sprang from her seat, and
had just secured the letter when the dining-room door was pushed open,
and Mrs. Dinneford came in, white and frightened. She saw the letter
in Edith's hand, and with a cry like some animal in pain leaped upon
her and tried to wrest it from her grasp. But Edith held it in her
closed hand with a desperate grip, defying all her mother's efforts to
get possession of it. In her wild fear and anger Mrs. Dinneford
"I'll kill you if you don't give me that letter!" and actually, in
her blind rage, reached toward the table as if to get a knife. Mr.
Dinneford, who had been for a moment stupefied, now started forward,
and throwing his arms about his wife, held her tightly until Edith
could escape with the letter, not releasing her until the sound of
his daughter's retiring feet were no longer heard. By this time she
had ceased to struggle; and when he released her, she stood still in
a passive, dull sort of way, her arms falling heavily to her sides.
He looked into her face, and saw that the eyes were staring wildly
and the muscles in a convulsive quiver. Then starting and reaching
out helplessly, she fell forward. Catching her in his arms, Mr.
Dinneford drew her toward a sofa, but she was dead before he could
raise her from the floor.
When Edith reached her room, she shut and locked the door. Then all
her excitement died away. She sat down, and opening the letter with
hands that gave no sign of inward agitation or suspense, read it
through. It was dated at Havana, and was as follows:
"MRS. HELEN DINNEFORD: MADAM—My physician tells me that I cannot
live a week—may die at any moment; and I am afraid to die with one
unconfessed and unatoned sin upon my conscience—a sin into which I
was led by you, the sharer of my guilt. I need not go into
particulars. You know to what I refer—the ruin of an innocent,
confiding young man, your daughter's husband. I do not wonder that he
lost his reason! But I have information that his insanity has taken on
the mildest form, and that his friends are only keeping him at the
hospital until they can get a pardon from the governor. It is in your
power and mine to establish his innocence at once. I leave you a
single mouth in which to do this, and at the same time screen
yourself, if that be possible. If, at the end of a month, it is not
done, then a copy of this letter, with a circumstantial statement of
the whole iniquitous affair, will be placed in the hands of your
husband, and another in the hands of your daughter. I have so
provided for this that no failure can take place. So be warned and
make the innocence of George Granger as clear as noonday.
Twice Edith read this letter through before a sign of emotion was
visible. She looked about the room, down at herself, and again at the
"Am I really awake?" she said, beginning to tremble. Then the glad
but terrible truth grappled with her convictions, and through the
wild struggle and antagonism, of feeling that shook her soul there
shone into her face a joy so great that the pale features grew almost
"Innocent! innocent!" fell from her lips, over which crept a smile
of ineffable love. But it faded out quickly, and left in its place a
shadow of ineffable pain.
"Innocent! innocent!" she repeated, now clasping her hands and
lifting her eyes heavenward. "Dear Lord and Saviour! My heart is full
of thankfulness! Innocent! Oh, let it be made as clear as noonday! And
my baby, Lord—oh, my baby, my baby! Give him back to me!"
She fell forward upon her bed, kneeling, her face hidden among the
pillows, trembling and sobbing.
"Edith! Edith!" came the agitated voice of her father from without.
She rose quickly, and opening the door, saw his pale, convulsed
"Quick! quick! Your mother!" and Mr. Dinneford turned and ran down
stairs, she following. On reaching the dining-room, Edith found her
mother lying on a sofa, with the servants about her in great
excitement. Better than any one did she comprehend what she saw.
"Dead," fell almost coldly from her lips.
"I have sent for Dr. Radcliffe. It may only be a fainting fit,"
answered Mr. Dinneford.
Edith stood a little way off from her mother, as if held from
personal contact by an invisible barrier, and looked upon her ashen
face without any sign of emotion.
"Dead, and better so," she said, in an undertone heard only by her
"My child! don't, don't!" exclaimed Mr. Dinneford in a deprecating
"Dead, and better so," she repeated, firmly.
While the servants chafed the hands and feet of Mrs. Dinneford, and
did what they could in their confused way to bring her back to life,
Edith stood a little way off, apparently undisturbed by what she saw,
and not once touching her mother's body or offering a suggestion to
the bewildered attendants.
When Dr. Radcliffe came and looked at Mrs. Dinneford, all saw by
his countenance that he believed her dead. A careful examination
proved the truth of his first impression. She was done with life in
As to the cause of her death, the doctor, gathering what he could
from her husband, pronounced it heart disease. The story told outside
was this—so the doctor gave it, and so it was understood: Mrs.
Dinneford was sitting at the table when her head was seen to sink
forward, and before any one could get to her she was dead. It was not
so stated to him by either Mr. Dinneford or Edith, but he was a
prudent man, and careful of the good fame of his patients. Family
affairs he held as sacred trusts. We'll he knew that there had been a
tragedy in this home—a tragedy for which he was in part, he feared,
responsible; and he did not care to look into it too closely. But of
all that was involved in this tragedy he really knew little. Social
gossip had its guesses at the truth, often not very remote, and he was
familiar with these, believing little or much as it suited him.
It is not surprising that Edith's father, on seeing the letter of
Lloyd Freeling, echoed his daughter's words, "Better so!"
Not a tear was shed on the grave of Mrs. Dinneford. Husband and
daughter saw her body carried forth and buried out of sight with a
feeling of rejection and a sense of relief. Death had no power to
soften their hearts toward her. Charity had no mantle broad enough to
cover her wickedness; filial love was dead, and the good heart of her
husband turned away at remembrance with a shudder of horror.
Yes, it was "better so!" They had no grief, but thankfulness, that
she was dead.
On the morning after the funeral there came a letter from Havana
addressed to Mr. Dinneford. It was from the man Freeling. In it he
related circumstantially all the reader knows about the conspiracy to
destroy Granger. The letter enclosed an affidavit made by Freeling,
and duly attested by the American consul, in which he stated
explicitly that all the forgeries were made by himself, and that
George Granger was entirely ignorant of the character of the paper he
had endorsed with the name of the firm.
Since the revelation made to Edith by Freeling's letter to her
mother, all the repressed love of years, never dead nor diminished,
but only chained, held down, covered over, shook itself free from
bonds and the wrecks and debris of crushed hopes. It filled her heart
with an agony of fullness. Her first passionate impulse was to go to
him and throw herself into his arms. But a chilling thought came with
the impulse, and sent all the outgoing heart-beats back. She was no
longer the wife of George Granger. In a weak hour she had yielded to
the importunities of her father, and consented to an application for
divorce. No, she was no longer the wife of George Granger. She had no
right to go to him. If it were true that reason had been in part or
wholly restored, would he not reject her with scorn? The very thought
made her heart stand still. It would be more than she could bear.
NO other result than the one that followed could have been
hoped for. The strain upon Edith was too great. After the funeral of
her mother mind and body gave way, and she passed several weeks in a
Two women, leading actors in this tragedy of life, met for the
first time in over two years—Mrs. Hoyt, alias Bray, and Pinky
Swett. It had not gone very well with either of them during that
period. Pinky, as the reader knows, had spent the time in prison, and
Mrs. Bray, who had also gone a step too far in her evil ways, was now
hiding from the police under a different name from any heretofore
assumed. They met, by what seemed an accident, on the street.
Dropped from their lips in mutual surprise and pleasure. A little
while they held each other's hands, and looked into each other's
faces with keenly-searching, sinister eyes, one thought coming
uppermost in the minds of both—the thought of that long-time-lost
capital in trade, the cast-adrift baby.
From the street they went to Mrs. Bray's hiding-place a small
ill-furnished room in one of the suburbs of the city—and there took
"What became of that baby?" was one of Mrs. Bray's first questions.
"It's all right," answered Pinky.
"Do you know where it is?"
"And can you put your hand on it?"
"At any moment."
"Not worth the trouble of looking after now," said Mrs. Bray,
assuming an indifferent manner.
"Why?" Pinky turned on her quickly.
"Oh, because the old lady is dead."
"What old lady?"
"When did she die?"
"Three or four weeks ago."
"What was her name?" asked Pinky.
Mrs. Bray closed her lips tightly and shook her head.
"Can't betray thatt secret," she replied.
"Oh, just as you like;" and Pinky gave her head an impatient toss.
"High sense of honor! Respect for the memory of a departed friend!
But it won't go down with me, Fan. We know each other too well. As
for the baby—a pretty big one now, by the way, and as handsome a boy
as you'll find in all this city—he's worth something to somebody, and
I'm on that somebody's track. There's mother as well as a grandmother
in the case, Fan."
Mrs. Bray's eyes flashed, and her face grew red with an excitement
she could not hold back. Pinky watched her keenly.
"There's somebody in this town to-day who would give thousands to
get him," she added, still keeping her eyes on her companion. "And as
I was saying, I'm on that somebody's track. You thought no one but you
and Sal Long knew anything, and that when she died you had the secret
all to yourself. But Sal didn't keep mum about it."
"Did she tell you anything?" demanded Mrs. Bray, thrown off her
guard by Pinky's last assertion.
"Enough for me to put this and that together and make it nearly all
out," answered Pinky, with great coolness. "I was close after the
game when I got caught myself. But I'm on the track once more, and
don't mean to be thrown off. A link or two in the chain of evidence
touching the parentage of this child, and I am all right. You have
these missing links, and can furnish them if you will. If not, I am
bound to find them. You know me, Fan. If I once set my heart on doing
a thing, heaven and earth can't stop me."
"You're devil enough for anything, I know, and can lie as fast as
you can talk," returned Mrs. Bray, in considerable irritation. "If I
could believe a word you said! But I can't."
"No necessity for it," retorted Pinky, with a careless toss of her
head. "If you don't wish to hunt in company, all right. I'll take the
"You forget," said Mrs. Bray, "I can spoil your game."
"By blowing the whole thing to Mr.—"
"Mr. who?" asked Pinky, leaning forward eagerly as her companion
paused without uttering the name that was on her lips.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" Mrs. Bray gave a low tantalizing
"I'm not sure that I would, from you. I'm bound to know somehow,
and it will be cheapest to find out for myself," replied Pinky, hiding
her real desire, which was to get the clue she sought from Mrs. Bray,
and which she alone could give. "As for blowing on me, I wouldn't like
anything better. I wish you'd call on Mr. Somebody at once, and tell
him I've got the heir of his house and fortune, or on Mrs. Somebody,
and tell her I've got her lost baby. Do it, Fan; that's a deary."
"Suppose I were to do so?" asked Mrs. Bray, repressing the anger
that was in her heart, and speaking with some degree of calmness.
"The police would be down on you in less than an hour."
"And what then?"
"Your game would be up."
Pinky laughed derisively:
"The police are down on me now, and have been coming down on me for
nearly a month past. But I'm too much for them. I know how to cover
"Down on you! For what?"
"They're after the boy."
"What do they know about him? Who set them after him?"
"I grabbed him up last Christmas down in Briar street after being
on his track for a week, and them that had him are after him sharp."
"Who had him?"
"I'm a little puzzled at the rumpus it has kicked up," said Pinky,
in reply. "It's stirred things amazingly."
"Oh, as I said, the police are after me sharp. They've had me
before the mayor twice, and got two or three to swear they saw me pick
up the child in Briar street and run off with him. But I denied it
"And I can swear that you confessed it all to me," said Mrs. Bray,
with ill-concealed triumph.
"It won't do, Fan," laughed Pinky. "They'll not be able to find him
any more then than now. But I wish you would. I'd like to know this
Mr. Somebody of whom you spoke. I'll sell out to him. He'll bid high,
Baffled by her sharper accomplice, and afraid to trust her with the
secret of the child's parentage lest she should rob her of the last
gain possible to receive out of this great iniquity, Mrs. Bray became
wrought up to a state of ungovernable passion, and in a blind rage
pushed Pinky from her room. The assault was sudden and unexpected—-so
sudden that Pinky, who was the stronger, had no time to recover
herself and take the offensive before she was on the outside and the
door shut and locked against her. A few impotent threats and curses
were interchanged between the two infuriated women, and then Pinky
On the day following, as Mr. Dinneford was preparing to go out, he
was informed that a lady had called and was waiting down stairs to
see him. She did not send her card nor give her name. On going into
the room where the visitor had been shown, he saw a little woman with
a dark, sallow complexion. She arose and came forward a step or two in
"Mr. Dinneford?" she said.
"That is my name, madam," was replied.
"You do not know me?"
Mr. Dinneford looked at her closely, and then answered,
"I have not that pleasure, madam."
The woman stood for a moment or two, hesitating.
"Be seated, madam," said Mr. Dinneford.
She sat down, seeming very ill at ease. He took a chair in front of
"You wish to see me?"
"Yes, sir, and on a matter that deeply concerns you. I was your
daughter's nurse when her baby was born."
She paused at this. Mr. Dinneford had caught his breath. She saw
the almost wild interest that flushed his face.
After waiting a moment for some response, she added, in a low,
"That baby is still alive, and I am the only person who can clearly
Mr. Dinneford did not reply immediately. He saw by the woman's face
that she was not to be trusted, and that in coming to him she had
only sinister ends in view. Her story might be true or false. He
thought hurriedly, and tried to regain exterior calmness. As soon as
he felt that he could speak without betraying too much eagerness, he
said, with an appearance of having recognized her,
"You are Mrs.——?"
He paused, but she did not supply the name.
"Mrs.——? Mrs.——? what is it?"
"No matter, Mr. Dinneford," answered Mrs. Bray, with the coolness
and self-possession she had now regained. "What I have just told you
is true. If you wish to follow up the matter—wish to get possession
of your daughter's child—you have the opportunity; if not, our
interview ends, of course;" and she made a feint, as if going to
"Is it the child a woman named Pinky Swett stole away from Briar
street on Christmas day?" asked Mr. Dinneford, speaking from a
thought that flashed into his mind, and so without premeditation. He
fixed his eyes intently on Mrs. Bray's face, and saw by its quick
changes and blank surprise that he had put the right question. Before
she could recover herself and reply, he added,
"And you are, doubtless, this same Pinky Swett."
The half smile, half sneer, that curved the woman's lips, told Mr.
Dinneford that he was mistaken.
"No, sir," was returned, with regained coolness. "I am not 'this
same Pinky Swett.' You are out there."
"But you know her?"
"I don't know anything just now, sir," answered the woman, with a
chill in her tones. She closed her lips tightly, and shrunk back in
"What, then, are your here for?" asked Mr. Dinneford, showing
considerable sternness of manner.
"I thought you understood," returned the woman. "I was explicit in
"Oh, I begin to see. There is a price on your information," said
"Yes, sir. You might have known that from the first. I will be
frank with you."
"But why have you kept this secret for three years? Why did you not
come before?" asked Mr. Dinneford.
"Because I was paid to keep the secret. Do you understand?"
Too well did Mr. Dinneford understand, and it was with difficulty
he could suppress a groan as his head drooped forward and his eyes
fell to the floor.
"It does not pay to keep it any longer," added the woman.
Mr. Dinneford made no response.
"Gain lies on the other side. The secret is yours, if you will have
"At what price?" asked Mr. Dinneford, without lifting his eyes.
"One thousand dollars, cash in hand."
"On production of the child and proof of its identity?"
Mrs. Bray took time to answer. "I do not mean to have any slip in
this matter," she said. "It was a bad business at the start, as I
told Mrs. Dinneford, and has given me more trouble than I've been
paid for, ten times over. I shall not be sorry to wash my hands clean
of it; but whenever I do so, there must be compensation and security.
I haven't the child, and you may hunt me to cover with all the police
hounds in the city, and yet not find him."
"If I agree to pay your demand," replied Mr. Dinneford, "it can
only be on production and identification of the child."
"After which your humble servant will be quickly handed over to the
police," a low, derisive laugh gurgling in the woman's throat.
"The guilty are ever in dread, and the false always in fear of
betrayal," said Mr. Dinneford. "I can make no terms with you for any
antecedent reward. The child must be in my possession and his
parentage clearly proved before I give you a dollar. As to what may
follow to yourself, your safety will lie in your own silence. You
hold, and will still hold, a family secret that we shall not care to
have betrayed. If you should ever betray it, or seek, because of its
possession, to annoy or prey upon us, I shall consider all honorable
contract we may have at an end, and act accordingly."
"Will you put in writing, an obligation to pay me one thousand
dollars in case I bring the child and prove its identity?"
"No; but I will give you my word of honor that this sum shall be
placed in your hands whenever you produce the child."
Mrs. Bray remained silent for a considerable time, then, as if
satisfied, arose, saying,
"You will hear from me by to-morrow or the day after, at farthest.
As she was moving toward the door Mr. Dinneford said,
"Let me have your name and residence, madam."
The woman quickened her steps, partly turning her head as she did
so, and said, with a sinister curl of the lip,
"No, I thank you, sir."
In the next moment she was gone.
NOTHING of all this was communicated to Edith. After a few
weeks of prostration strength came slowly back to mind and body, and
with returning strength her interest in her old work revived. Her feet
went down again into lowly ways, and her hands took hold of
Immediately on receipt of Freeling's letter and affidavit, Mr.
Dinneford had taken steps to procure a pardon for George Granger. It
came within a few days after the application was made, and the young
man was taken from the asylum where he had been for three years.
Mr. Dinneford went to him with Freeling's affidavit and the pardon,
and placing them in his hands, watched him closely to see the effect
they would produce. He found him greatly changed in appearance,
looking older by many years. His manner was quiet, as that of one who
had learned submission after long suffering. But his eyes were clear
and steady, and without sign of mental aberration. He read Freeling's
affidavit first, folded it in an absent kind of way, as if he were
dreaming, reopened and read it through again. Then Mr. Dinneford saw a
strong shiver pass over him; he became pale and slightly convulsed.
His face sunk in his hands, and he sat for a while struggling with
emotions that he found it almost impossible to hold back.
When he looked up, the wild struggle was over.
"It is too late," he said.
"No, George, it is never too late," replied Mr. Dinneford. "You
have suffered a cruel wrong, but in the future there are for you, I
doubt not, many compensations."
He shook his head in a dreary way, murmuring,
"I have lost too much."
"Nothing that may not be restored. And in all you have not lost a
"No, thank God!" answered the young man, with a sudden flush in his
face. "But for that anchor to my soul, I should have long ago drifted
out to sea a helpless wreck. No thank God! I have not lost a good
"You have not yet read the other paper," said Mr. Dinneford. "It is
"Pardon!" An indignant flash came into Granger's eyes. "Oh, sir,
that hurts too deeply. Pardon! I am not a criminal."
"Falsely so regarded in the eyes of the law, but now proved to be
innocent, and so expressed by the governor. It is not a pardon in any
sense of remission, but a declaration of innocence and sorrow for the
undeserved wrongs you have suffered."
"It is well," he answered, gloomily—"the best that can be done;
and I should be thankful."
"You cannot be more deeply thankful than I am, George." Mr.
Dinneford spoke with much feeling. "Let us bury this dreadful past
out of our sight, and trust in God for a better future. You are free
again, and your innocence shall, so far as I have power to do it, be
made as clear as noonday. You are at liberty to depart from here at
once. Will you go with me now?"
Granger lifted a half-surprised look to Mr. Dinneford's face.
"Thank you," he replied, after a few moments' thought. "I shall
never forget your kindness, but I prefer remaining here for a few
days, until I can confer with my friends and make some decision as to
Granger's manner grew reserved, almost embarrassed. Mr. Dinneford
was not wrong in his impression of the cause. How could he help
thinking of Edith, who, turning against him with the rest, had
accepted the theory of guilt and pronounced her sentence upon him,
hardest of all to bear? So it appeared to him, for he had nothing but
the hard fact before him that she had applied for and obtained a
Yes, it was the thought of Edith that drew Granger back and covered
him with reserve. What more could Mr. Dinneford say? He had not
considered all the hearings of this unhappy case; but now that he
remembered the divorce, he began to see, how full of embarrassment it
was, and how delicate the relation he bore to this unhappy victim of
his wife's dreadful crime.
What could he say for Edith? Nothing! He knew that her heart had
never turned itself away from this man, though she had, under a
pressure she was not strong enough to resist, turned her back upon
him and cast aside his dishonored name, thus testifying to the world
that she believed him base and criminal. If he should speak of her,
would not the young man answer with indignant scorn?
"Give me the address of your friends, and I will call upon them
immediately," said Mr. Dinneford, replying, after a long silence, to
Granger's last remark. "I am here to repair, to any extent that in me
lies the frightful wrongs you have suffered. I shall make your cause
my own, and never rest until every false tarnish shall be wiped from
your name. In honor and conscience I am bound to this."
Looking at the young man intently, he saw a grateful response in
the warmer color that broke into his face and in the moisture that
filled his eyes.
"I would be base if I were not thankful, Mr. Dinneford," Granger
replied. "But you cannot put yourself in my place, cannot know what I
have suffered, cannot comprehend the sense of wrong and cruel
rejection that has filled my soul with the very gall of bitterness.
To be cast out utterly, suddenly and without warning from heaven into
hell, and for no evil thought or act! Ah, sir! you do not understand."
"It was a frightful ordeal, George," answered Mr. Dinneford, laying
his hand on Granger with the tenderness of a father. "But, thank God!
it is over. You have stood the terrible heat, and now, coming out of
the furnace, I shall see to it that not even the smell of fire remain
upon your garments."
Still the young man could not be moved from his purpose to remain
at the asylum until he had seen and conferred with his friends, in
whose hands Mr. Dinneford placed the governor's pardon and the
affidavit of Lloyd Freeling setting forth his innocence.
Mrs. Bray did not call on Mr. Dinneford, as she had promised. She
had quarreled with Pinky Swett, as the reader will remember, and in a
fit of blind anger thrust her from the room. But in the next moment
she remembered that she did not know where the girl lived, and if she
lost sight of her now, might not again come across her for weeks or
months. So putting on her hat and cloak hurriedly, she waited until
she heard Pinky going down stairs, and then came out noiselessly, and
followed her into the street. She had to be quick in her movements,
for Pinky, hot with anger, was dashing off at a rapid speed. For three
or four blocks Mrs. Bray kept her in view; but there being only a few
persons in the street, she had to remain at a considerable distance
behind, so as not to attract her attention. Suddenly, she lost sight
of Pinky. She had looked back on hearing a noise in the street;
turning again, she could see nothing of the girl. Hurrying forward to
the corner which Pinky had in all probability turned, Mrs. Bray looked
eagerly up and down, but to her disappointment Pinky was not in sight.
"Somewhere here. I thought it was farther off," said Mrs. Bray to
herself. "It's too bad that I should have lost sight of her."
She stood irresolute for a little while, then walked down one of
the blocks and back on the other side. Halfway down, a small street or
alley divided the block.
"It's in there, no doubt," said Mrs. Bray, speaking to herself
again. On the corner was a small shop in which notions and trimmings
were sold. Going into this, she asked for some trifling articles, and
while looking over them drew the woman who kept the shop into
"What kind of people live in this little street?" she inquired, in
a half-careless tone.
The woman smiled as she answered, with a slight toss of the head,
"Oh, all kinds."
"Good, bad and indifferent?"
"Yes, white sheep and black."
"So I thought. The black sheep will get in. You can't keep 'em
"No, and 'tisn't much use trying," answered the shop-keeper, with a
levity of manner not unmarked by Mrs. Bray, who said,
"The black sheep have to live as well as the white ones."
"Just so. You hit the nail there."
"And I suppose you find their money as good as that of the
"And quite as freely spent?"
"As to that," answered the woman, who was inclined to be talkative
and gossipy, "we make more out of the black sheep than out of the
white ones. They don't higgle so about prices. Not that we have two
prices, but you see they don't try to beat us down, and never stop to
worry about the cost of a thing if they happen to fancy it. They look
and buy, and there's the end of it."
"I understand," remarked Mrs. Bray, with a familiar nod. "It may be
wicked to say so; but if I kept a store like this, I'd rather have
the sinners for customers than the saints."
She had taken a seat at the counter; and now, leaning forward upon
her arms and looking at the shop-woman in a pleasant,
half-confidential way, said,
"You know everybody about here?"
"The black sheep as well as the white?"
"Of course; that's all I mean," was returned. "I'd be sorry if you
knew them in any other way—some of them, at least." Then, after a
pause, "Do you know a girl they call Pinky?"
"I may know her, but not by that name. What kind of a looking
person is she?"
"A tall, bold-faced, dashing, dare-devil sort of a girl, with a
snaky look in her eyes. She wears a pink hat with a white feather."
"Yes, I think I have seen some one like that, but she's not been
around here long."
"When did you see her last?"
"If it's the same one you mean, I saw her go by here not ten
minutes ago. She lives somewhere down the alley."
"Do you know the house?"
"I do not; but it can be found, no doubt. You called her Pinky."
"Yes. Her name is Pinky Swett."
"O-h! o-h!" ejaculated the shop-woman, lifting her eyebrows in a
surprised way. "Why, that's the girl the police were after. They said
she'd run off with somebody's child."
"Did they arrest her?" asked Mrs. Bray, repressing, as far as
possible, all excitement.
"They took her off once or twice, I believe, but didn't make
anything out of her. At any rate, the child was not found. It
belonged, they said, to a rich up-town family that the girl was
trying to black-mail. But I don't see how that could be."
"The child isn't about here?"
"Oh dear, no! If it was, it would have been found long before this,
for the police are hunting around sharp. If it's all as they say,
she's got it hid somewhere else."
While Mrs. Bray talked with the shop-woman, Pinky, who had made a
hurried call at her room, only a hundred yards away, was going as
fast as a street-car could take her to a distant part of the city. On
leaving the car at the corner of a narrow, half-deserted street, in
which the only sign of life was a child or two at play in the snow and
a couple of goats lying on a cellar-door, she walked for half the
distance of a block, and then turned into a court lined on both sides
with small, ill-conditioned houses, not half of them tenanted. Snow
and ice blocked the little road-way, except where a narrow path had
been cut along close to the houses.
Without knocking, Pinky entered one of these poor tenements. As she
pushed open the door, a woman who was crouching down before a small
stove, on which something was cooking, started up with a look of
surprise that changed to one of anxiety and fear the moment she
recognized her visitor.
"Is Andy all right?" cried Pinky, alarm in her face.
The woman tried to stammer out something, but did not make herself
understood. At this, Pinky, into whose eyes flashed a fierce light,
caught her by the wrists in a grip that almost crushed the bones.
"Out with it! where is Andy?"
Still the frightened woman could not speak.
"If that child isn't here, I'll murder you!" said Pinky, now white
with anger, tightening her grasp.
At this, with a desperate effort, the woman flung her off, and
catching up a long wooden bench, raised it over her head.
"If there's to be any murder going on," she said, recovering her
powers of speech, "I'll take the first hand! As for the troublesome
brat, he's gone. Got out of the window and climbed down the spout.
Wonder he wasn't killed. Did fall—I don't know how far—and must
have hurt himself, for I heard a noise as if something heavy had
dropped in the yard, but thought it was next door. Half an hour
afterward, in going up stairs and opening the door of the room where
I kept him locked in, I found it empty and the window open. That's
the whole story. I ran out and looked everywhere, but he was off. And
now, if the murder is to come, I'm going to be in first."
And she still kept the long wooden bench poised above her head.
Pinky saw a dangerous look in the woman's eyes.
"Put that thing down," she cried, "and don't be a fool. Let me
see;" and she darted past the woman and ran up stairs. She found the
window of Andy's prison open and the print of his little fingers on
the snow-covered sill outside, where he had held on before dropping
to the ground, a distance of many feet. There was no doubt now in her
mind as to the truth of the woman's story. The child had made his
"Have you been into all the neighbors' houses?" asked Pinky as she
came down hastily.
"Into some, but not all," she replied.
"How long is it since he got away?"
"More than two hours."
"And you've been sticking down here, instead of ransacking every
hole and corner in the neighborhood. I can hardly keep my hands off
The woman was on the alert. Pinky saw this, and did not attempt to
put her threat into execution. After pouring out her wrath in a flood
of angry invectives, she went out and began a thorough search of the
neighborhood, going into every house for a distance of three or four
blocks in all directions. But she could neither find the child nor get
the smallest trace of him. He had dropped out of sight, so far as she
was concerned, as completely as if he had fallen into the sea.
DAY after day Mr. Dinneford waited for the woman who was to
restore the child of Edith, but she did not come. Over a week
elapsed, but she neither called nor sent him a sign or a word. He
dared not speak about this to Edith. She was too weak in body and
mind for any further suspense or strain.
Drew Hall had been nearly thrown down again by the events of that
Christmas day. The hand of a little child was holding him fast to a
better life; but when that hand was torn suddenly away from his
grasp, he felt the pull of evil habits, the downward drift of old
currents. His steps grew weak, his knees trembled. But God did not
mean that he should be left alone. He had reached down to him through
the hand of a little child, had lifted him up and led him into a way
of safety; and now that this small hand, the soft, touch of which had
gone to his heart and stirred him with old memories, sad and sweet and
holy, had dropped away from him, and he seemed to be losing his hold
of heaven, God sent him, in Mr. Dinneford, an angel with a stronger
hand. There were old associations that held these men together. They
had been early and attached friends, and this meeting, after many
years of separation, under such strange circumstances, and with a
common fear and anxiety at heart, could not but have the effect of
arousing in the mind of Mr. Dinneford the deepest concern for the
unhappy man. He saw the new peril into which he was thrown by the loss
of Andy, and made it his first business to surround him with all
possible good and strengthening influences. So the old memories
awakened by the coming of Andy did not fade out and lose their power
over the man. He had taken hold of the good past again, and still held
to it with the tight grasp of one conscious of danger.
"We shall find the child—no fear of that," Mr. Dinneford would say
to him over and over again, trying to comfort his own heart as well,
as the days went by and no little Andy could be found. "The police
have the girl under the sharpest surveillance, and she cannot baffle
them much longer."
George Granger left the asylum with his friends, and dropped out of
sight. He did not show himself in the old places nor renew old
associations. He was too deeply hurt. The disaster had been too great
for any attempt on his part at repairing the old dwelling-places of
his life. His was not what we call a strong nature, but he was
susceptible of very deep impressions. He was fine and sensitive,
rather than strong. Rejected by his wife and family without a single
interview with her or even an opportunity to assert his innocence, he
felt the wrong so deeply that he could not get over it. His love for
his wife had been profound and tender, and when it became known to him
that she had accepted the appearances of guilt as conclusive, and
broken with her own hands the tie that bound them, it was more than he
had strength to bear, and a long time passed before he rallied from
this hardest blow of all.
Edith knew that her father had seen Granger after securing his
pardon, and she had learned from him only, particulars of the
interview. Beyond this nothing came to her. She stilled her heart,
aching with the old love that crowded all its chambers, and tried to
be patient and submissive. It was very hard. But she was helpless.
Sometimes, in the anguish and wild agitation of soul that seized her,
she would resolve to put in a letter all she thought and felt, and
have it conveyed to Granger; but fear and womanly delicacy drove her
back from this. What hope had she that he would not reject her with
hatred and scorn? It was a venture she dared not make, for she felt
that such a rejection would kill her. But for her work among the
destitute and the neglected, Edith would have shut herself up at home.
Christian charity drew her forth daily, and in offices of kindness and
mercy she found a peace and rest to which she would otherwise have
She was on her way home one afternoon from a visit to the
mission-school where she had first heard of the poor baby in Grubb's
court. All that day thoughts of little Andy kept crowding into her
mind. She could not push aside his image as she saw it on Christmas,
when he sat among the children, his large eyes resting in such a
wistful look upon her face. Her eyes often grew dim and her heart
full as she looked upon that tender face, pictured for her as
distinctly as if photographed to natural sight.
"Oh my baby, my baby!" came almost audibly from her lips, in a
burst of irrepressible feeling, for ever since she had seen this
child, the thought of him linked itself with that of her lost baby.
Up to this time her father had carefully concealed his interview
with Mrs. Bray. He was in so much doubt as to the effect that woman's
communication might produce while yet the child was missing that he
deemed it best to maintain the strictest silence until it could be
Walking along with heart and thought where they dwelt for so large
a part of her time, Edith, in turning a corner, came upon a woman who
stopped at sight of her as if suddenly fastened to the
ground—stopped only for an instant, like one surprised by an
unexpected and unwelcome encounter, and then made a motion to pass
on. But Edith, partly from memory and partly from intuition,
recognized her nurse, and catching fast hold of her, said in a low
imperative voice, while a look of wild excitement spread over her
"Where is my baby?"
The woman tried to shake her off, but Edith held her with a grasp
that could not be broken.
"For Heaven's sake," exclaimed the woman "let go of me! This is the
public street, and you'll have a crowd about us in a moment, and the
police with them."
But Edith kept fast hold of her.
"First tell me where I can find my baby," she answered.
"Come along," said the woman, moving as she spoke in the direction
Edith was going when they met. "If you want a row with the police, I
Edith was close to her side, with her hand yet upon her and her
voice in her ears.
"My baby! Quick! Say! Where can I find my baby?"
"What do I know of your baby? You are a fool, or mad!" answered the
woman, trying to throw her off. "I don't know you."
"But I know you, Mrs. Bray," said Edith, speaking the name at a
venture as the one she remembered hearing the servant give to her
At this the woman's whole manner changed, and Edith saw that she
was right—that this was, indeed, the accomplice of her mother.
"And now," she added, in voice grown calm and resolute, "I do not
mean to let you escape until I get sure knowledge of my child. If you
fly from me, I will follow and call for the police. If you have any of
the instincts of a woman left, you will know that I am desperately in
earnest. What is a street excitement or a temporary arrest by the
police, or even a station-house exposure, to me, in comparison with
the recovery of my child? Where is he?"
"I do not know," replied Mrs. Bray. "After seeing your father—"
"My father! When did you see him?" exclaimed Edith, betraying in
her surprised voice the fact that Mr. Dinneford had kept so far, even
from her, the secret of that brief interview to which she now
"Oh, he hasn't told you! But it's no matter—he will do that in
good time. After seeing your father, I made an effort to get
possession of your child and restore him as I promised to do. But the
woman who had him hidden somewhere managed to keep out of my way until
this morning. And now she says he got off from her, climbed out of a
second-story window and disappeared, no one knows where."
"This woman's name is Pinky Swett?" said Edith.
Mrs. Bray felt the hand that was still upon her arm shake as if
from a violent chill.
"Do you believe what she says?—that the child has really escaped
"Where does she live?"
Mrs. Bray gave the true directions, and without hesitation.
"Is this child the one she stole from the Briar-street mission on
Christmas day?" asked Edith.
"He is," answered Mrs. Bray.
"How shall I know he is mine? What proof is there that little Andy,
as he is called, and my baby are the same?"
"I know him to be your child, for I have never lost sight of him,"
replied the woman, emphatically. "You may know him by his eyes and
mouth and chin, for they are yours. Nobody can mistake the likeness.
But there is another proof. When I nursed you, I saw on your arm,
just above the elbow, a small raised mark of a red color, and noticed
a similar one on the baby's arm. You will see it there whenever you
find the child that Pinky Swett stole from the mission-house on
Christmas day. Good-bye!"
And the woman, seeing that her companion was off of her guard,
sprang away, and was out of sight in the crowd before Edith could
rally herself and make an attempt to follow. How she got home she
could hardly tell.
FOR weeks the search for Andy was kept up with unremitting
vigilance, but no word of him came to the anxious searchers. A few
days after the meeting with Mrs. Bray, the police report mentioned
the arrest of both Pinky Swett and Mrs. Bray, alias Hoyt, alias Jewett, charged with stealing a diamond ring of considerable
value from a jewelry store. They were sent to prison, in default of
bail, to await trial. Mr. Dinneford immediately went to the prison and
had an interview with the two women, who could give him no information
about Andy beyond what Mrs. Bray had already communicated in her
hurried talk with Edith. Pinky could get no trace of him after he had
escaped. Mr. Dinneford did not leave the two women until he had drawn
from them a minute and circumstantial account of all they knew of
Edith's child from the time it was cast adrift. When he left them, he
had no doubt as to its identity with Andy. There was no missing link
in the chain of evidence.
The new life that had opened to little Andy since the dreary night
on which, like a stray kitten, he had crept into Andrew Hall's
miserable hovel, had been very pleasant. To be loved and caressed was
a strange and sweet experience. Poor little heart! It fluttered in
wild terror, like a tiny bird in the talons of a hawk, when Pinky
Swett swooped down and struck her foul talons into the frightened
child and bore him off.
"If you scream, I'll choke you to death!" she said, stooping to his
ear, as she hurried him from the mission-house. Scared into silence,
Andy did not cry out, and the arm that grasped and dragged him away
was so strong that he felt resistance to be hopeless. Passing from
Briar street, Pinky hurried on for a distance of a block, when she
signaled a street-car. As she lifted Andy upon the platform, she gave
him another whispered threat:
"Mind! if you cry, I'll kill you!"
There were but few persons in the car, and Pinky carried the child
to the upper end and sat him down with his face turned forward to the
window, so as to keep it as much out of observation as possible. He
sat motionless, stunned with surprise and fear. Pinky kept her eyes
upon him. His hands were laid across his breast and held against it
tightly. They had not gone far before Pinky saw great tear-drops
falling upon the little hands.
"Stop crying!" she whispered, close to his ear; "I won't have it!
You're not going to be killed."
Andy tried to keep back the tears, but in spite of all he could do
they kept blinding his eyes and falling over his hands.
"What's the matter with your little boy?" asked a sympathetic,
motherly woman who had noticed the child's distress.
"Cross, that's all." Pinky threw out the sentence in at snappish,
The motherly woman, who had leaned forward, a look of kindly
interest on her face, drew back, chilled by this repulse, but kept
her eyes upon the child, greatly to Pinky's annoyance. After riding
for half a mile, Pinky got out and took another car. Andy was
passive. He had ceased crying, and was endeavoring to get back some
of the old spirit of brave endurance. He was beginning to feel like
one who had awakened from a beautiful dream in which dear ideals had
almost reached fruition, to the painful facts of a hard and suffering
life, and was gathering up his patience and strength to meet them. He
sat motionless by the side of Pinky, with his eyes cast down, his chin
on his breast and his lips shut closely together.
Another ride of nearly half a mile, when Pinky left the car and
struck away from the common thoroughfare into a narrow alley, down
which she walked for a short distance, and then disappeared in one of
the small houses. No one happened to observe her entrance. Through a
narrow passage and stairway she reached a second-story room. Taking a
key from her pocket, she unlocked the door and went in. There was a
fire in a small stove, and the room was comfortable. Locking the door
on the inside she said to Andy, in a voice changed and kinder,
"My! your hands are as red as beets. Go up to the stove and warm
Andy obeyed, spreading out his little hands, and catching the
grateful warmth, every now and then looking up into Pinky's face, and
trying with a shrewder insight than is usually given to a child of his
age to read the character and purposes it half concealed and half made
"Now, Andy," said Pinky, in a mild but very decided way—"your
"Yes, ma'am," answered the child, fixing his large, intelligent
eyes on her face.
"Well, Andy, if you'll be a good and quiet boy, you needn't be
afraid of anything—you won't get hurt. But if you make a fuss, I'll
throw you at once right out of the window."
Pinky frowned and looked so wicked as she uttered the last sentence
that Andy was frightened. It seemed as if a devouring beast glared at
him out of her eyes. She saw the effect of her threat, and was
The short afternoon soon passed away. The girl did not leave the
room, nor talk with the child except in very low tones, so as not to
attract the attention of any one in the house. As the day waned snow
began to fall, and by the time night set in it was coming down thick
and fast. As soon as it was fairly dark, Pinky wrapped a shawl about
Andy, pinning it closely, so as to protect him from the cold, and
quietly left the house. He made no resistance. A car was taken, in
which they rode for a long distance, until they were on the outskirts
of the city. The snow had already fallen to a depth of two or three
inches, and the storm was increasing. When she left the car in that
remote neighborhood, not a person was to be seen on the street.
Catching Andy into her arms, Pinky ran with him for the distance of
half a block, and then turned into a close alley with small houses on
each side. At the lower end she stopped before one of these houses,
and without knocking pushed open the door.
"Who's that?" cried a voice from an upper room, the stairway to
which led up from the room below.
"It's me. Come down, and be quiet," answered Pinky, in a warning
A woman, old and gray, with all the signs of a bad life on her
wrinkled face, came hastily down stairs and confronted Pinky.
"What now? What's brought you here?" she demanded, in no friendly
"There, there, Mother Peter! smooth down your feathers. I've got
something for you to do, and it will pay," answered Pinky, who had
shut the outside door and slipped the bolt.
At this, the manner of Mother Peter, as Pinky had called her,
softened, and she said,
"What's up? What deviltry are you after now, you huzzy?"
Without replying to this, Pinky began shaking the snow from Andy
and unwinding the shawl with which she had bound him up. After he was
free from his outside wrappings, she said, looking toward the woman,
"Now, isn't he a nice little chap? Did you ever see such eyes?"
The worn face of the woman softened as she turned toward the
beautiful child, but not with pity. To that feeling she had long been
"I want you to keep him for a few days," said Pinky, speaking in
the woman's ears. "I'll tell you more about it after he's in bed and
"He's to be kept shut up out of sight, mind," was Pinky's
injunction, in the conference that followed. "Not a living soul in
the neighborhood must know he's in the house, for the police will be
sharp after him. I'll pay you five dollars a week, and put it down in
advance. Give him plenty to eat, and be as good to him as you can, for
you see it's a fat job, and I'll make it fatter for you if all comes
The woman was not slow to promise all that Pinky demanded. The
house in which she lived had three rooms, one below and two smaller
ones above. From the room below a stove-pipe went up through the floor
into a sheet-iron drum in the small back chamber, and kept it
partially heated. It was arranged that Andy should be made a close
prisoner in this room, and kept quiet by fear. It had only one
window, looking out upon the yard, and there was no shed or porch
over the door leading into the yard below upon which he could climb
out and make his escape. In order to have things wholly secure the
two women, after Andy was asleep, pasted paper over the panes of
glass in the lower sash, so that no one could see his face at the
window, and fastened the sash down by putting a nail into a
gimlet-hole at the top.
"I guess thatt will fix him," said Pinky, in a tone of
satisfaction. "All you've got to do now is to see that he doesn't make
On the next morning Andy was awake by day-dawn. At first he did not
know where he was, but he kept very still, looking around the small
room and trying to make out what it all meant. Soon it came to him,
and a vague terror filled his heart. By his side lay the woman into
whose hands Pinky had given him. She was fast asleep, and her face,
as he gazed in fear upon it, was even more repulsive than it had
looked on the night before. His first impulse, after comprehending
his situation, was to escape if possible. Softly and silently he
crept out of bed, and made his way to the door. It was fastened. He
drew the bolt back, when it struck the guard with a sharp click. In
an instant the old woman was sitting up in bed and glaring at him.
"You imp of Satan!" she cried, springing after him with a singular
agility for one of her age, and catching him by the arm with a
vice-like grip that bruised the tender flesh and left it marked for
weeks, drew him back from the door and flung him upon the bed.
"Stay there till I tell you to get up," she added, with a cruel
threat in her voice. "And mind you, there's to be no fooling with
The frightened child crept under the bed-clothes, and hid his face
beneath them. Mother Peter did not lie down again, but commenced
dressing herself, muttering and grumbling as she did so.
"Keep where you are till I come back," she said to Andy, with the
same cruel threat in her voice. Going out, she bolted the door on the
other side. It was nearly half an hour before the woman returned,
bringing a plate containing two or three slices of bread and butter
and a cup of milk.
"Now get up and dress yourself," was her sharply-spoken salutation
to Andy as she came into the room. "And you're to be just as still as
a mouse, mind. There's your breakfast." She set the plate on a table
and went out, bolting, as before, the door on the other side. Andy did
not see her again for over an hour. Left entirely alone in his prison,
his restless spirit chafed for freedom. He moved about the apartment,
examining everything it contained with the closest scrutiny, yet
without making any noise, for the woman's threat, accompanied as it
had been with such a wicked look, was not forgotten. He had seen in
that look a cruel spirit of which he was afraid. Two or three times he
thought he heard a step and a movement in the adjoining chamber, and
waited, almost holding his breath, with his eyes upon the door,
expecting every moment to see the scowling face of his jailer. But no
hand touched the door.
Tired at last with everything in the room, he went to the window
and sought to look out, as he had already done many times. He could
not understand why this window, was so different from any he had ever
seen, and puzzled over it in his weak, childish way. As he moved from
pane to pane, trying to see through, he caught a glimpse of something
outside, but it was gone in a moment. He stepped back, then came up
quickly to the glass, all the dull quietude of manner leaving him. As
he did so a glimpse of the outside world came again, and now he saw a
little hole in the paper not larger than a pin's head. To scrape at
this was a simple instinct. In a moment he saw it enlarging, as the
paper peeled off from the glass. Scraping away with his finger-nail,
the glass was soon cleared of paper for the space of an inch in
diameter, and through this opening he stood gazing out upon the yards,
below, and the houses that came up to them from a neighboring street.
There was a woman in one of these yards, and she looked up toward the
window where Andy stood, curiously.
"You imp of Satan!" were the terrible words that fell upon his ears
at this juncture, and he felt himself caught up as by a vulture. He
knew the cruel voice and the grip of the cruel hands that had already
left their marks in his tender flesh. Mother Peter, her face red with
passion and her eyes slowing like coals of fire, held him high in the
air, and shook him with savage violence. She did not strike, but
continued shaking him until the sudden heat of her passion had a
"Didn't I tell you not to meddle with anything in this room?" and
with another bruising grip of Andy's arms, she threw him roughly upon
The little hole in the paper was then repaired by pasting another
piece of paper over it, after which Andy was left alone, but with a
threat from Mother Peter that if he touched the window again she
would beat the life out of him. She had no more trouble with him that
day. Every half hour or so she would come up stairs noiselessly, and
listen at the door, or break in upon the child suddenly and without
warning. But she did not find him again at the window. The
restlessness at first exhibited had died out, and he sat or lay upon
the floor in a kind of dull, despairing stupor. So that day passed.
On the second day of Andy's imprisonment he distinctly heard the
old woman go out at the street door and lock it after her. He listened
for a long time, but could hear no sound in the house. A feeling of
relief and a sense of safety came over him. He had not been so long
in his prison alone without the minutest examination of every part,
and it had not escaped his notice that the panes of glass in the
upper sash of the window were not covered with paper, as were those
below. But for the fear of one of Mother Peter's noiseless pouncings
in upon him, he would long since have climbed upon the sill and taken
a look through the upper sash. He waited now for full half an hour to
be sure that his jailer had left the house, and then, climbing to the
window-sill with the agility of a squirrel, held on to the edge of the
lower sash and looked out through the clear glass above. Dreary and
unsightly as was all that lay under his gaze, it was beautiful in the
eyes of the child. His little heart swelled and glowed; he longed, as
a prisoner, for freedom. As he stood there he saw that a nail held
down the lower sash, which he had so often tried, but in vain, to
lift. Putting his finger on this nail, he felt it move. It had been
placed loosely in a gimlet-hole, and could be drawn out easily. For a
little while he stood there, taking out and putting in the nail. While
doing this he thought he heard a sound below, and instantly dropped
noiselessly from the window. He had scarcely done so when the door of
his room opened and Mother Peter came in. She looked at him sharply,
and then retired without speaking.
All the next day Andy listened after Mother Peter, waiting to hear
her go out. But she did not leave the house until after he was asleep
in the evening.
On the next day, after waiting until almost noon, the child's
impatience of confinement grew so strong that he could no longer
defer his meditated escape from the window, for ever since he had
looked over the sash and discovered how it was fastened down, his
mind had been running on this thing. He had noticed that Mother
Peter's visits to his room were made after about equal intervals of
time, and that after she gave him his dinner she did not come up
stairs again for at least an hour. This had been brought, and he was
For nearly five minutes after the woman went out, he sat by the
untasted food, his head bent toward the door, listening. Then he got
up quietly, climbed upon the window-sill and pulled the nail out.
Dropping back upon the floor noiselessly, he pushed his hands upward
against the sash, and it rose easily. Like an animal held in
unwilling confinement, he did not stop to think of any danger that
might lie in the way of escape when opportunity for escape offered.
The fear behind was worse than any imagined fear that could lie
beyond. Pushing up the sash, Andy, without looking down from the
window, threw himself across the sill and dropped his body over,
supporting himself with his hands on the snow-encrusted ledge for a
moment, and then letting himself fall to the ground, a distance of
nearly ten feet. He felt his breath go as he swept through the air,
and lost his senses for an instant or two.
Stunned by the fall, he did not rise for several minutes. Then he
got up with a slow, heavy motion and looked about him anxiously. He
was in a yard from which there was no egress except by way of the
house. It was bitter cold, and he had on nothing but the clothing
worn in the room from which he had just escaped. His head was bare.
The dread of being found here by Mother Peter soon lifted him above
physical impediment or suffering. Through a hole in the fence he saw
an alley-way; and by the aid of an old barrel that stood in the yard,
he climbed to the top of the fence and let himself down on the other
side, falling a few feet. A sharp pain was felt in one of his ankles
as his feet touched the ground. He had sprained it in his leap from
the window, and now felt the first pangs attendant on the injury.
Limping along, he followed the narrow alley-way, and in a little
while came out upon a street some distance from the one in which
Mother Peter lived. There were very few people abroad, and no one
noticed or spoke to him as he went creeping along, every step sending
a pain from the hurt ankle to his heart. Faint with suffering and
chilled to numbness, Andy stumbled and fell as he tried, in crossing a
street, to escape from a sleigh that turned a corner suddenly. It was
too late for the driver to rein up his horse. One foot struck the
child, throwing him out of the track of the sleigh. He was insensible
when taken up, bleeding and apparently dead. A few people came out of
the small houses in the neighborhood, attracted by the accident, but
no one knew the child or offered to take him in.
There were two ladies in the sleigh, and both were greatly pained
and troubled. After a hurried consultation, one of them reached out
her hands for the child, and as she received and covered him with the
buffalo-robe said something to the driver, who turned his horse's head
and drove off at a rapid speed.
EVERY home for friendless children, every sin or
poverty-blighted ward and almost every hovel, garret and cellar where
evil and squalor shrunk from observation were searched for the missing
child, but in vain. No trace of him could be found. The agony of
suspense into which Edith's mind was brought was beginning to threaten
her reason. It was only by the strongest effort at self-compulsion
that she could keep herself to duty among the poor and suffering, and
well for her it was that she did not fail here; it was all that held
her to safe mooring.
One day, as she was on her way home from some visit of mercy, a
lady who was passing in a carriage called to her from the window, at
the same time ordering her driver to stop. The carriage drew up to the
"Come, get in," said the lady as she pushed open the carriage door.
"I was thinking of you this very moment, and want to have some talk
about our children's hospital. We must have you on our ladies'
Edith shook her head, saying, "It won't be possible, Mrs. Morton. I
am overtaxed now, and must lessen, instead of increasing, my work."
"Never mind, about that now. Get in. I want to have some talk with
Edith, who knew the lady intimately, stepped into the carriage and
took a seat by her side.
"I don't believe you have ever been to our hospital," said the lady
as the carriage rolled on. "I'm going there now, and want to show you
how admirably everything is conducted, and what a blessing it is to
poor suffering children."
"It hurts me so to witness suffering in little children," returned
Edith, "that it seems as if I couldn't bear it much longer. I see so
much of it."
"The pain is not felt as deeply when we are trying to relieve that
suffering," answered her friend. "I have come away from the hospital
many times after spending an hour or two among the beds, reading and
talking to the children, with an inward peace in my soul too deep for
expression. I think that Christ draws very near to us while we are
trying to do the work that he did when he took upon himself our nature
in, the world and stood face to face visibly with men—nearer to us,
it may be, than at any other time; and in his presence there is
peace—peace that passeth understanding."
They were silent for a little while, Edith not replying. "We have
now," resumed the lady, "nearly forty children under treatment—poor
little things who, but for this charity, would have no tender care or
intelligent ministration. Most of them would be lying in garrets or
miserable little rooms, dirty and neglected, disease eating out their
lives, and pain that medical skill now relieves, racking their poor
worn bodies. I sat by the bed of a little girl yesterday who has been
in the hospital over six months. She has hip disease. When she was
brought here from one of the vilest places in the city, taken away
from a drunken mother, she was the saddest-looking child I ever saw.
Dirty, emaciated, covered with vermin and pitiable to behold, I could
hardly help crying when I saw her brought in. Now, though still unable
to leave her bed, she has as bright and happy a face as you ever saw.
The care and tenderness received since she came to us have awakened a
new life in her soul, and she exhibits a sweetness of temper beautiful
to see. After I had read a little story for her yesterday, she put her
arms about my neck and kissed me, saying, in her frank, impulsive way,
'Oh, Mrs. Morton, I do love you so!' I had a great reward. Never do I
spend an hour among these children without thanking God that he put it
into the hearts of a few men and women who could be touched with the
sufferings of children to establish and sustain so good an
The carriage stopped, and the driver swung open the door. They were
at the children's hospital. Entering a spacious hall, the two ladies
ascended to the second story, where the wards were located. There
were two of these on opposite sides of the hall, one for boys and one
for girls. Edith felt a heavy pressure on her bosom as they passed
into the girls' ward. She was coming into the presence of disease and
pain, of suffering and weariness, in the persons of little children.
There were twenty beds in the room. Everything was faultlessly
clean, and the air fresh and pure. On most of these beds lay, or sat
up, supported by pillows, sick or crippled children from two years of
age up to fifteen or sixteen, while a few were playing about the room.
Edith caught her breath and choked back a sob that came swiftly to her
throat as she stood a few steps within the door and read in a few
quick glances that passed from face to face the sorrowful records that
pain had written upon them.
"Oh, there's Mrs. Morton!" cried a glad voice, and Edith saw a girl
who was sitting up in one of the beds clap her hands joyfully.
"That's the little one I was telling you about," said the lady, and
she crossed to the bed, Edith following. The child reached up her
arms and put them about Mrs. Morton's neck, kissing her as she did
It took Edith some time to adjust herself to the scene before her.
Mrs. Morton knew all the children, and had a word of cheer or
sympathy for most of them as she passed from bed to bed through the
ward. Gradually the first painful impressions wore off, and Edith
felt herself drawn to the little patients, and before five minutes
had passed her heart was full of a strong desire to do whatever lay
in her power to help and comfort them. After spending half an hour
with the girls, during which time Edith talked and read to a number
of them, Mrs. Morton said,
"Now let us go into the boys' ward."
They crossed the hall together, and entered the room on the other
side. Here, as in the opposite ward, Mrs. Morton was recognized as
welcome visitor. Every face that happened to be turned to the door
brightened at her entrance.
"There's a dear child in this ward," said Mrs. Morton as they stood
for a moment in the door looking about the room. "He was picked up in
the street about a week ago, hurt by a passing vehicle, and brought
here. We have not been able to learn anything about him."
Edith's heart gave a sudden leap, but she held it down with all the
self-control she could assume, trying to be calm.
"Where is he?" she asked, in a voice so altered from its natural
tone that Mrs. Morton turned and looked at her in surprise.
"Over in that corner," she answered, pointing down the room.
Edith started forward, Mrs. Morton at her side.
"Here he is," said the latter, pausing at a bed on which child with
fair face, blue eyes and golden hair was lying. A single glance sent
the blood back to Edith's heart. A faintness came over her;
everything grew dark. She sat down to keep from falling.
As quickly as possible and by another strong effort of will she
"Yes," she said, in a faint undertone in which was no apparent
interest, "he is a dear little fellow."
As she spoke she laid her hand softly on the child's head, but not
in a way to bring any response. He looked at her curiously, and
seemed half afraid.
Meanwhile, a child occupying a bed only a few feet off had started
up quickly on seeing Edith, and now sat with his large brown eyes
fixed eagerly upon her, his lips apart and his hands extended. But
Edith did not notice him. Presently she got up from beside the bed
and was turning away when the other child, with a kind of despairing
look in his face, cried out,
"Lady, lady! oh, lady!"
The voice reached Edith's ears. She turned, and saw the face of
Andy. Swift as a flash she was upon him, gathering him in her arms
and crying out, in a wild passion of joy that could not be repressed,
"Oh, my baby! my baby! my boy! my boy! Bless God! thank God! oh, my
Startled by this sudden outcry, the resident physician and two
nurses who were in the ward hurried down the room to see what it
meant. Edith had the child hugged tightly to her bosom, and resisted
all their efforts to remove him.
"My dear madam," said the doctor, "you will do him some harm if you
don't take care."
"Hurt my baby? Oh no, no!" she answered, relaxing her hold and
gazing down upon Andy as she let him fall away from her bosom. Then
lifting her eyes to the physician, her face so flooded with love and
inexpressible joy that it seemed like some heavenly transfiguration,
she murmured, in a low voice full of the deepest tenderness,
"Oh no. I will not do my baby any harm."
"My dear, dear friend," said Mrs. Morton, recovering from the shock
of her first surprise and fearing that Edith had suddenly lost her
mind, "you cannot mean what you say;" and she reached down for the
child and made a movement as if she were going to lift him away from
A look of angry resistance swept across Edith's pale face. There
was a flash of defiance in her eyes.
"No, no! You must not touch him," she exclaimed; "I will die before
giving him up. My baby!"
And now, breaking down from her intense excitement, she bent over
the child again, weeping and sobbing. Waiting until this paroxysm had
expended itself, Mrs. Morton, who had not failed to notice that Andy
never turned his eyes for an instant away from Edith, nor resisted her
strained clasp or wild caresses, but lay passive against her with a
look of rest and peace in his face, said,
"How shall we know that he is your baby?"
At this Edith drew herself up, the light on her countenance fading
out. Then catching at the child's arm, she pulled the loose sleeve
that covered it above the elbow with hands that shook like aspens.
Another cry of joy broke from her as she saw a small red mark
standing out clear from the snowy skin. She kissed it over and over
"My baby! Yes, thank God! my own long-lost baby!"
And still the child showed no excitement, but lay very quiet,
looking at Edith whenever he could see her countenance, the peace and
rest on his face as unchanging as if it were not really a living and
mobile face, but one cut into this expression by the hands of an
"How shall you know?" asked Edith, now remembering the question of
Mrs. Morton. And she drew up her own sleeve and showed on one of her
arms a mark as clearly defined and bright as that on the child's arm.
No one sought to hinder Edith as she rose to her feet holding Andy,
after she had wrapped the bed-clothes about him.
"Come!" she spoke to her friend, and moved away with her precious
"You must go with us," said Mrs. Morton to the physician.
They followed as Edith hurried down stairs, and entering the
carriage after her, were driven away from the hospital.
ABOUT the same hour that Edith entered the boys' ward of the
children's hospital, Mr. Dinneford met Granger face to face in the
street. The latter tried to pass him, but Mr. Dinneford stopped, and
taking his almost reluctant hand, said, as he grasped it tightly,
"George Granger!" in a voice that had in it a kind of helpless cry.
The young man did not answer, but stood looking at him in a
surprised, uncertain way.
"George," said Mr. Dinneford, his utterance broken, "we want you!"
"For what?" asked Granger, whose hand still lay in that of Mr.
Dinneford. He had tried to withdraw it at first, but now let it
"To help us find your child."
"My child! What of my child?"
"Your child and Edith's," said Mr. Dinneford. "Come!" and he drew
his arm within that of Granger, the two men moving away together. "It
has been lost since the day of its birth—cast adrift through the same
malign influence that cursed your life and Edith's. We are on its
track, but baffled day by day. Oh, George, we want you, frightfully
wronged as you have been at our hands—not Edith's. Oh no, George!
Edith's heart has never turned from you for an instant, never doubted
you, though in her weakness and despair she was driven to sign that
fatal application for a divorce. If it were not for the fear of a
scornful rejection, she would be reaching out her hands to you now and
begging for the old sweet love, but such a rejection would kill her,
and she dare not brave the risk."
Mr. Dinneford felt the young man's arm begin to tremble violently.
"We want you, George," he pursued. "Edith's heart is calling out
for you, that she may lean it upon your heart, so that it break not in
this great trial and suspense. Your lost baby is calling for you out
of some garret or cellar or hovel where it lies concealed. Come, my
son. The gulf that lies between the dreadful past and the blessed
future can be leaped at a single bound if you choose to make it. We
want you—Edith and I and your baby want you."
Mr. Dinneford, in his great excitement, was hurrying the young man
along at a rapid speed, holding on to his arm at the same time, as if
afraid he would pull it away and escape.
Granger made no response, but moved along passively, taking in
every word that was said. A great light seemed to break upon his soul,
a great mountain to be lifted off. He did not pause at the door from
which, when he last stood there, he had been so cruelly rejected, but
went in, almost holding his breath, bewildered, uncertain, but half
realizing the truth of what was transpiring, like one in a dream.
"Wait here," said Mr. Dinneford, and he left him in the parlor and
ran up stairs to find Edith.
George Granger had scarcely time to recognize the objects around
him, when a carriage stopped at the door, and in a moment afterward
the bell rang violently.
The image that next met his eyes was that of Edith standing in the
parlor door with a child all bundled up in bed-clothing held closely
in her arms. Her face was trembling with excitement. He started
forward on seeing her with an impulse of love and joy that he could
not restrain. She saw him, and reading his soul in his eyes, moved to
"Oh, George, and you too!" she exclaimed. "My baby and my husband,
all at once! It is too much. I cannot bear if all!"
Granger caught her in his arms as she threw herself upon him and
laid the child against his breast.
"Yours and mine," she sobbed. "Yours and mine, George!" and she put
up her face to his. Could he do less than cover it with kisses?
A few hours later, and a small group of very near friends witnessed
a different scene from this. Not another tragedy as might well be
feared, under the swift reactions that came upon Edith. No, no! She
did not die from a excess of joy, but was filled with new life and
strength. Two hands broken asunder so violently a few years ago were
now clasped again, and the minister of God as he laid them together
pronounced in trembling tones the marriage benediction.
This was the scene, and here we drop the curtain.