by Guy Wetmore Carryl
I. THE FLY ON
II. THE ODDS
III. A FACE IN
IV. AS BETWEEN
V. A BRAND FROM
VII. THE MIRAGE
IX. THE NINTH
PASSES IN REVIEW
X. A QUESTION
AND AN ANSWER
XI. YOUNG NISBET
FINDS HIS TONGUE
XIV. THE VOICE
I. THE FLY ON THE WHEEL
The offices of the Governor and the Lieutenant-Governor adjoined.
Each had its ante-room, in which a private secretary wrote eternally at
a roll-top desk, an excessively plain-featured stenographer rattled the
keys of his typewriter, and a smug-faced page yawned over a newspaper,
or scanned the cards of visitors with the air of an official censor. At
intervals, an electric bell whirred once, twice, or three times; and,
according to the signal, one of the trio disappeared into the presence
of the august personage within.
A door connected the office of the chief executive with that of his
lieutenant, but this was rarely opened by either, and then only after a
formal tap and permission to enter had been given. It was a matter of
general knowledge that the Governor and the Lieutenant-Governor were
not in sympathy; but few, even among the intimates of either, were
aware how deep, and wide, and hopelessly impassable was the gulf which
lay between them. This was due not alone to disparity in age, though
twenty-eight years separated the white-haired Governor from his
handsome subordinate, who had been nominated to this, his first public
office, on his thirtieth birthday; nor was it wholly a difference
between the experience of the one and the inexperience of the other.
The point of view of the veteran is, naturally, not that of the novice,
particularly in politics. That the enthusiasms of Lieutenant-Governor
Barclay should have been the disillusions of Governor Abbott, and his
pitfalls his senior's stepping-stones,this was to be expected. The
root of their dissimilarity lay deeper. It was nothing less than mutual
distrust which kept the connecting door closed day after day, and
clogged the channel of coöperation with the sharp-pointed boulders of
The convention which nominated the successful ticket of the
preceding year had been a veritable chaos of contending factions. The
labor delegates, encouraged by the unexpected strength of their
representation, were not content with such nominal plums as had fallen
to their share in former conventions. Led by Michael McGrath, an
agitator whose native Irish eloquence, made keener and more persuasive
by practice in bar-room forensics, brought him naturally to the fore,
they threatened, at one stage of the proceedings, to carry all before
them. The more conservative faction, its strength sapped by the
formation, in its very ranks, of a reform party determined upon the
fall of the machine, was forced to yield ground. The reformers
themselves, young men for the most part, distinguished by great ideals
but small ability, were too few to impose their individual will upon
their opponents, yet sufficiently numerous to make their support
necessary to the success of either party. The usual smooth course of
the convention, upset by this unlooked-for resistance from two
quarters, staggered helplessly, and was on the point of coming to a
deadlock. It was Michael McGrath's shrewd perception of the situation
which solved the problem. In a brief, impassioned speech he laid the
claims of his faction before the delegates, winding up with a stirring
picture of the coöperation of labor and reform, now possible, which
held the convention in spellbound silence for ten seconds after he had
closed, and then set the hall ringing to cheers and vigorously plied
hands and feet. For an instant he paused, with his arms folded, and his
keen blue eyes sliding over the faces before him, and then played his
trump card. At his signal, a banner, hastily prepared, was borne,
slowly revolving, down the central aisle, and on this were boldly
lettered the words which at the same moment McGrath was thundering from
LABOR AND REFORM!
JOHN HAMILTON BARCLAY.
McGrath had no need to look toward the labor faction for support. He
knew what the name of Elijah Abbott meant in that quarter. His shifting
glance was fixed upon the seats of the reform delegates, and a little
smile twitched at the corners of his mouth, as he saw them rise with a
cheer. Barclay was the chief spirit of their movement. They had not
expected this recognition. But if, in the enthusiasm of unlooked-for
victory, they did not perceive how little, in reality, was their gain,
McGrath was far from being unaware how great was his own. Before the
cheering of the now allied forces of labor and reform had fairly died
away, he had moved that nominations were in order, and, ten minutes
later, while the partisans of the machine were still endeavoring to
collect their wits, the main business of the convention was an
accomplished fact, and Abbott and Barclay were declared the regular
Democratic nominees for Governor and Lieutenant-Governor of the state.
In six weeks followed their election by a small plurality, and on the
first of January the two men moved into their adjoining rooms, in the
inexcusably unlovely state capitol, on the main hill of Kenton City,
wherein they were, thenceforward, separated, one from the other, by two
inches of Georgia pine and a practically infinite diversity of
principle and prejudice.
From the first their relationship had been no better than an armed
truce. Both were courteous men, the one because such was his policy,
the other because he was to this manner born. There was no need for
them to discuss their individual creeds. They tacitly accepted the fact
that there was not a parallel between the two. From the moment when his
election was assured by the returns, Abbott was candidly the man of the
Labornay, moreof the Socialist party. McGrath and his associates
manipulated him as readily as a marionette. The promises and pledges of
the campaign were ruthlessly jettisoned. If Governor Abbott did not
stand for anarchy, it was only because, for the moment, anarchy was not
the demand of his party. Withal, he was dignified and self-possessed,
robed in an agreeable suavity which became him at functions and
ceremonials, and assured his popularity with thoseand they were, as
always, in the majoritywho did not look below the surface.
Lieutenant-Governor Barclay had not been ten days in office before
he realized the futility of resistance to the established order, as
represented in his superior. He had accepted his nomination, and
welcomed his election, with an almost Quixotic elation in the
opportunity thus opened to him. He would accomplishoh, there was no
telling what Lieutenant-Governor Barclay would not accomplish!
He was standing at his office window now, staring out disconsolately
over the sloping lawns of the capitol grounds, mottled with thin
patches of snow, which had contrived to withstand the recent thaw, and
he was telling himself, for the thousandth time, the dispiriting fact
that, as a force for good or evil in the destiny of his state, he was
no more significant than his stenographer's Remington or his
secretary's roll-top desk. With all his ideals, with all those pledges
which are infinitely more vital when made in private to one's
conscience than when made in public to one's party, he found himself
merely a cog in the state machinerya cog, too, that, seemingly, might
be skipped at any or every time, without in the least degree disturbing
the progress of routine. On the few occasions, in the early days of
their official relation, when he had ventured to set his will in
opposition to that of the Governor, there had not been manifest in the
latter's attitude even that spirit of resistance which spurs men to
more active and resolute endeavor. Governor Abbott had smiled
pleasantly upon him, and then quietly shifted the conversation into
other channels, with an air of selecting a topic more suited to his
companion's comprehension. Finally, on one occasion, when Barclay had
voiced his opinion with an energy which savored of rebuke, the Governor
had gone further, and had asked calmlyAnd what were you proposing to
do about it? After that Barclay had relinquished the unequal struggle,
and resigned himself to the unavoidable conclusion of his impotency.
It is a situation which tries men's souls, this of utter
helplessness in the face of plain duty. He could have no hope of making
his position clear to the constituency to which he was responsible.
Debarred on the one side from taking an active part in the
administration of state affairs, and bitterly arraigned on the other on
the grounds of inefficiency, laxity, and indifference to duty, the
second month of office found John Barclay in a fair way to be ground to
powder between the millstones of impuissance and hostile criticism. The
men of his party who had, both in private conviction and public
statement, based their hopes of political reform upon the frankly
avowed platform of his principles, now passed him coldly, with a bare
nod, sometimes with none whatever; the labor element jeered joyously at
his attitude; the machine pointed to him as proof of the fallacy of
the reform creed. It is easy to expect great performances from great
promises, easier still to outline the duties and condemn the
delinquencies of another, and not even Barclay's knowledge of his own
good faith was sufficient compensation for the sneers of press and
public which fell to his share. As he surveyed the dispiriting prospect
from his office window, on that late February afternoon, he was near to
resigning his position, and with it all further pretension to political
In the opinion of those competent to judge, the state of Alleghenia
was going to the dogs. A press distinguished alike for the amplitude of
its headlines and the pitiable paucity of its principles; a legislature
of which practically every member had, not only a price, but such a
price as the advertisements describe as being within the reach of
all; a Governor who avowedly stood ready to sanction the most extreme
pretensions of the notoriously corrupt party which had secured him his
election,here, surely, were good and sufficient reasons for the
generously bestowed disapproval of Alleghenia's sister states. In all
the personnel of her government there was but one man sincerely
devoted to her advancement on the lines of integrity and
non-partisanship. And that man was Lieutenant-Governor Barclay, whose
influence on the trend of affairs was approximately that of the
proverbial fly on the hub of the revolving wheel.
The Lieutenant-Governor had turned back to his desk, and was
arranging his papers, preparatory to departing for the day, when his
ears were greeted by the unusual and unwelcome sound of a rap upon the
communicating door. Instinctively he braced himself for an unpleasant
encounter before replying. It was his experience that the Governor's
room was like to Nazareth of old, in that no good might be expected to
issue therefrom. Nevertheless, as Governor Abbott entered, in response
to Barclay's Come! it was difficult to believe that he was aught but
what he appeared to be,a courteous, conspicuously well-dressed and
white-haired gentleman, of sixty or thereabouts, smooth-shaven save for
chop side-whiskers of iron gray, with a habit of rubbing his hands, and
an inclination from the hips forward which suggested a floor-walker. In
brief, the Governor of Alleghenia seemed the type of a man who turns
sideways and slips through narrow places, rather than run the risk of
barking his elbows by a face-front advance. In reality he was somewhat
less pliable than a steel rail.
You are going? he asked, seeing how Barclay was employed.
I was thinking of it, replied the Lieutenant-Governor. Of course,
if there is anything
Governor Abbott seated himself on the edge of the desk, holding a
lapel of his coat in each hand, and surveyed his subordinate from under
his drooping eyelids, with his head cocked on one side.
I believe you know Peter Rathbawne, he said.
I do. I am engaged to his elder daughter.
Ah! That is what I thought.
The Governor looked contemplatively at the ceiling, closing his
right eye, and nibbling behind his pursed lips.
Peter Rathbawne, he said, is the second most obstinate man in
Kenton City, if not in Alleghenia. I'm afraid he thinks he is the
most obstinate. If so, he does me an injustice. His mills are the
largest in the state. I am told that when they are running full
strength they employ over four thousand hands.
Something like that number, I believe, put in Barclay, as the
Governor seemed to expect a reply.
Ah! It is a pity for such an industry as that to be tied up on
account of one man's obstinacy.
I had not heardbegan Barclay; but Governor Abbott continued
steadily, disregarding the interruption.
Yesterday morning Mr. Rathbawne discharged fifteen employees on the
ground of incompetency. It is hard to see exactly what Mr. Rathbawne
means by 'incompetency.' These men were not newcomers. Some of them had
been in the mills for as much as eighteen months. It seems as if he
might have discovered the alleged incompetency long ago. It is more or
less arbitrary, one might say, this discharging men by wholesale, as it
I suppose, commented Barclay, that a man may do as he will with
Ah! said the Governor, lifting his hands from his lapels with a
little gesture of deprecation, but immediately replacing them. But
can he? A man in Peter Rathbawne's position has a responsibility to
fulfill toward the community. He cannot beggar men for a
capricebecause his horse has gone lame, or his breakfast has not
agreed with him. He must show reasonsgive an accounting. He must be
Oh, when it comes to fairness, laughed the other, I assure you,
Governor Abbott, you won't find Mr. Rathbawne's equal this side of the
Pacific. He's famous for square dealing.
He has been, corrected the Governor. In the present
instance he seems to have fallen below standard. He has declined to
reconsider his decision in the case of the discharged men. What's
worse, he has flatly refused to see the committee appointed by the
I'm not surprised at that, said Barclay slowly, fingering a
paper-cutter on the desk before him. Mr. Rathbawne is peculiar in one
respect; he supports and considers the Union in every other. But he has
always insisted upon his right to discharge the hands at will, and
without giving reasons. Incompetency is only a word which is used to
cover more serious causes.
Well, he's wrong, said the Governor, with a heat unusual to him.
He's dead wrong, Mr. Barclay, and he will find it out before he's a
Do you mean
I mean that if the men in question are not taken back before
to-morrow noon, every man, woman, and child in the employ of the
Rathbawne Mills will be out on strike. The question is, what is Peter
Rathbawne prepared to do?
The silence that followed was broken only by the tap, tap, tap of
the Lieutenant-Governor's paper-cutter on the silver-mounted blotter.
Presently he looked up and met the Governor's eye.
If you want my opinion, sir, he answered, it is that Mr.
Rathbawne would fight such a point to a standstill. He's sole owner of
the mills, and he's a rich man. He has always treated his employees as
if they were his own children. If they turn on him now for something
which, from their experience of his character, they must know was fair
But was it? interrupted the Governor.
I don't know the facts, sir, but I know Peter Rathbawne, said
Barclay, throwing back his head, and I can say, with clear conviction,
that it must have been. If, as you suggest, the hands go out, I
think he would close down the mills for a year, and go abroad. He's a
man who doesn't argue; he simply acts. I fancy there wouldn't be much
opposition left by the time he wanted to reopen.
Provided always that there were anything left to reopen, suggested
the Governor softly.
The state troops have more than once proved their ability to assure
the sanctity of property, answered his subordinate, with a touch of
the old pride with which he had assumed office.
Hum! said Governor Abbott. But calling out the militia is a
serious matter, Mr. Barclay, to say nothing of the expense entailed.
Considering that the difficulty would be due entirely to the obstinacy
of one manerone might not feel justified
He hesitated briefly under the Lieutenant-Governor's keen glance,
and then swerved from this line of suggestion.
What I wanted to say was this: You are a friend of Mr.
Rathbawne's,something more than a friend, indeed. No doubt he has a
respect for your opinion, as you have for his. Now, if in the course of
a quiet chatit will have to be to-nightyou should point out the
situation that threatens him, the distress that a strike will cause,
the probable destruction of his property, perhaps he might consent to
reinstate the discharged men to-morrow morning.
It would be a surrender of principle, to which he would never
consent, said Barclay firmly. Of that I am sure. Moreover, sir, I
should be speaking against my convictions were I to advise him to adopt
such a course.
The Governor's lip wrinkled slightly.
The Union is prepared to do the right thing by the man who settles
this question, he said.
I hope you don't mean that! exclaimed Barclay. You are the first
man to make such a suggestion to me. Pardon me, Governor Abbott, but I
cannot but think the executive chamber of the capitol of Alleghenia a
singular place for it to be mentioned.
The Governor held up his hand.
You misunderstand me, he said. One would suppose I had offered
you a purse! I mean simply that the popularity of the man who averts
this strike will be an assured fact. He would be the idol of the
working people, and hardly less esteemed by the element of capital.
Moreover, he would be doing a humane and merciful thing. You are the
only man who is in a position to approach Rathbawne, and, if you will
excuse the suggestion, I think you can hardly afford to throw away the
chance. As it is, youeryou are not what might be called popular,
This time the silence was broken by a single sharp little clickthe
latch of the connecting door slipping into place. The
Lieutenant-Governor sank slowly into his revolving chair, tipped back,
swung round a half circle, and stared out disconsolately over the
sloping lawns of the capitol grounds, mottled with thin patches of
II. THE ODDS AGAINST YOUNG NISBET
Young Nisbet leaned forward in his chair.
And I've been thinking, he added, that perhapsthat perhaps
That perhaps what? asked the junior Miss Rathbawne, leaning
forward in hers.
If I don't have tea instantly, said her mother, with
profound conviction, as she came ponderously through the portières,
tugging at her gloves, I shall expire! How de do, Mr. Nisbet. Do
sit up straight, Dorothy, my dear.
She sank heavily into a low chair, which brought her within the
radius of lamp-light at the tea-table, and was thus revealed as a lady
of generous proportions, with a conspicuous absence of features, and no
observable lap. In speaking, she displayed a marked partiality for
undue emphasis. Sublimely unconscious of the depression induced by her
advent, she continued to talk, as she pulled off her gloves, which were
a size too small, and came away with reluctance, leaving imprints of
the stitching on her pudgy pink hands.
Young Nisbet surveyed her with a kind of mute despair. He was a very
average young American, very conventionally in love, and the trifling
remnant of self-assertiveness which had triumphed over the crescent
humility natural to his condition inevitably evaporated into thin air
at the approach of Mrs. Rathbawne; and always, as he was doing now, he
turned in his toes excessively when she was present, hitched at his
right trouser-leg, where the crease passed over his knee, and looked
first at her, and then at the floor, and then at her again, with the
purposeless regularity of a mechanical toy.
There was a tremendous and highly significant rattling of cups,
saucers, and silver spoons, as Dorothy Rathbawne prepared her mother's
tea. All things considered, one found something very admirable about
Dorothy at such a time as this. It was not complete submission, still
less was it open revolt, but savored of both, and was incomparable as
an attitude toward Mrs. Rathbawne. On some occasions it was almost as
impossible to get on with Mrs. Rathbawne as it would have been, on
others, to get on without her. The which, nowadays, is more or less
true of all parents. And children.
Natalie and your Aunt Helen got out at the florist's, went on the
good lady, but I came straight on, and sent the carriage back for
them. I felt that I couldn't exist an instant longer
without my tea. I'm sure I don't see how Natalie stands it. She
was out all morning in the brougham, too. You had best make enough for
three cups, Dorothyand do sit up straight, my dear!and order
Thomas to bring in some more tartines. They are sure to be
hungry, and they are apt to come in at any moment.
That is a family failing, said Dorothy venomously, from behind the
Well, I'm sure, my dear, said Mrs. Rathbawne innocently, as
she straightened her rings, and picked an imaginary speck out of one of
her round, flat nails, there is no disgrace at all in a healthy
appetite. I'm thankful we all have itthough as for your Aunt Helen,
hers is about like that of a fly.
Flies have very good appetitesjudging from all I've seen, that
is, said Dorothy, so I don't think she is to be commiserated on that
That was only a figure of speech, my dear, replied Mrs. Rathbawne,
with engaging placidity. Mercy! but I'm glad to get home. We've had a
positively exhausting day with Natalie's shopping, and the
worst of it is to think what a lot more there is to do. A
wedding certainly is an undertaking, Mr. Nisbet.
Is it? answered young Nisbet, perceptibly startled at being thus
abruptly included in the conversation.
Decidedly! asseverated Mrs. Rathbawne.
Of course, in the case of an ordinary man
Two lumps, mother?
Always two lumps, Dorothy, my dear. Surely you must know
that, by this time! As I was saying, Mr. Nisbet, the fact that
my elder daughter is to marry Mr. Barclay
Dorothy's eyebrows went up resignedly as she bent with affected
solicitude over the alcohol lamp, than which none ever burned more
blamelessly. There was no stopping Mrs. Rathbawne now!
One has to keep his position in mind, she was saying. It isn't
like the usual marriage, which interests only the families and
friends of the persons concerned, you know. It isn't even as if only
Kenton City were looking on. All Alleghenia will be on the
qui vive, Mr. Nisbet, all the state of Alleghenia. I
shouldn't wonder if some notice were taken of the event, even at
Washington. Marrying a statesman, you see,a Lieutenant-Governor! Oh,
it's quite differentquite! Do sit up straight,
Dorothy, my dear!
She continued to prattle of the momentous marriage impending, until
her complacent chatter was interrupted by the entrance of her
half-sister, Mrs. Wynyard, and the elder Miss Rathbawne.
The two newcomers were both beautiful, in widely dissimilar ways.
Helen Wynyard, Mrs. Rathbawne's junior by nearly a score of years,
retained at thirty the transparent brilliancy of complexion which, at
eighteen, had made her the most admired débutante of her season
in San Francisco. Her marriage with Ellery Wynyard had caused a great
to-do among the gossips, and, later, had defrauded them pitilessly of
their self-promised I told you so's, by reason of the death of the
handsome young rake, before the rose-color of the honeymoon had begun
to fade. Beauty, wit, and infallible tact she inherited from her
mother, shrewd business ability and a keen insight into men and things
from her father, and wealth and a certain attractive audacity of speech
from her husband; and five years of widowhood only served to develop
and emphasize the promise of her first season. There were numerous feet
which aspired to be shod with Ellery Wynyard's discarded shoes, but no
one pair, said the world, so much as an inch in advance of the rest.
Mrs. Wynyard was spending the winter with her half-sister, and the
Rathbawnes, whom the circumstance of widely distant residence had
always kept from coming into close touch with her, were equally at a
loss when they wondered how they had formerly contrived to exist
without her, and in what manner they should resign themselves to giving
her up. She was a woman who came amazingly near to being indispensable.
For the moment, Natalie Rathbawne, in reality the beauty which
Dorothy by a fraction fell short of being, suffered by comparison with
her sister. She was desperately tiredthat was in her smile. But there
was something else: a singular preoccupation which was nearly akin to
listlessness. That was in the droop of her eyelids, in the eloquently
inattentive gesture with which she touched a bowl of Gloire de Dijon
roses as she passed, and in her conventionally courteous acknowledgment
of young Nisbet's greeting. And, too, as she seated herself beside her
sister on the divan, there was perceptible purpose in her avoidance of
the lamp-light, her withdrawal into the dark, deep corner. To the
conversation which followed she contributed only such brief remarks as
were made necessary by those occasionally addressed to her.
The two women brought with them a delicious, indefinite atmosphere
of out-of-doors: that commingled smell of cold flowers, and cold flesh,
and cold fur, which is to a drawing-room in winter what a whiff of salt
air is in summer to a sun-baked hillside; and this proved almost too
much for the self-possession, already tottering, of young Nisbet. He
had always been accustomed to have the things he desired, had young
Nisbet, but these, until now, had been either creature comforts,
readily obtainable when one's father is a multi-millionaire, or
athletic honors, equally easy of attainment when one measures forty-two
around the chest, and can do one's quarter in something under fifty.
Again, the Nisbets lived on a ranch, and when one does not know people
in New York one spends the Sundays in New Haven, so that neither the
terms nor the vacations incidental to his four years at Yale had
equipped him, in the sense in which they equipped his fellows, for
dealing with society.
Now that he was in Kenton City, representing his father's interests,
young Nisbet was painfully self-conscious of multitudinous
shortcomings, totally unsuspected hitherto. His speech was apparently
hopelessly incrusted with slang, his legs were too long, his ears
protruded abominably, his hair was desperately unruly, his freckles and
his capacity for blushing were inexhaustible. He was as much at ease in
such surroundings as these in which he now found himself as a trout in
a sandpile. The great room, with its costly furnishings, the tea-table
crowded with silver and fragile porcelain, the kettle purring
contentedly above the iridescent flame of the alcohol lamp,above all,
the subtle, indefinable suggestion of femininity which unknowably
pervaded his surroundings,all these enthralled young Nisbet beyond
expression, and awed him immeasurably, into the bargain. He was, as
usual, very clear in his own mind as to what he wanted, and that was
the younger Miss Rathbawne, but, for the first time in his experience,
the means at his command did not seem to be sufficient unto the end.
For the younger Miss Rathbawne was, very evidently, not the sort of
triumph which is achieved by recourse to an imposingly ample
bank-account, nor yet by two months' loyalty to the exigencies of the
training-table. And this was February, and he had known her since July,
and, altogether, it was highly discouraging. Unwittingly, young Nisbet
heaved a sigh so profound and so pitiable that Mrs. Wynyard immediately
proffered her sympathy.
Poor, dear Mr. Nisbet! I never heard a more pathetic sigh. Whatever
is the matter?
He's sleepy, put in Dorothy. He always is, after talking with me
for a whole hour.
I was just thinking, protested young Nisbet helplessly.
Oh! exclaimed Dorothy, that's it, is it? Then pray don't
discourage him, Aunt Helen. He's really getting into some very good
habits, of late.
Why, Dorothy! said Mrs. Rathbawne, digging her chin
reproachfully into her black velvet collar, how can you say
such things? Mr. Nisbet will think you have had no bringing up
at all. And do sit up straight, my dear!
And if you don't stop nagging, O most conscientious of parents,
retorted Dorothy, with her nose in the air, Mr. Nisbet will think you
bring people up by throwing them down!
And slang! Dorothy!
I always think, said Mrs. Wynyard, that Dorothy should have had a
fairy godmother, to promise that every time she uttered a word of slang
a pearl should pop out of her mouth. We should have all been wearing
triple strings down to our knees within a week after she learned to
That settles it! exclaimed Dorothy. If you are going to side with
the enemy, Aunt Helen, there is nothing left for me to do but to beat a
retreat. Come on, Mr. Nisbet, there is rest for the weary in the
conservatorythat is, unless you want another cup of tea?
In the conservatory the air was heavy with the moist, sweet smell of
earth and moss, and faintly vibrant with the tiny plash of water,
dripping from a pile of rocks into the circular central pool, wherein
fat gold-fish went idly to and fro, nuzzling floating specks upon the
surface. Through the polished green of the surrounding palms and
rubber-plants stared gardenias and camelias; below, between maidenhair
and sword-ferns, winked the little waxen blossoms of fuchsias and
begonias: at intervals poinsettia flared audaciously among its more
quietly dressed neighbors; and, in the far corners the golden spheres
were swelling to fairly respectable proportions on the branches of
Dorothy installed herself on a bench, and young Nisbet perched upon
the rim of the pool, and stared at vacancy.
It's corking, in here, he said, after a moment.
Isn't it, though? agreed Dorothy, with a nod of approval. It's my
favorite part of the house. You can't imagine how many hours I spend
here, sewing, or reading, or fiddling with the fish and all those funny
little plants under the palms.
You bet! said young Nisbet, with enthusiasm, if not much
relevancy. I've just got a picture of that, you know. Besides, we've
spent a good many of those hours together in here, these past few
Oh, not a tenth of them! exclaimed Dorothy, and then only the
Oh! said young Nisbet gloomily. His fertile imagination was
immediately peopled with the forms and faces of those who had shared
the other hours, a score of eligible and attractive young men, his
moral, mental, and physical superiors in every conceivable particular,
faultlessly arrayed, scintillating with wit, and surpassingly skilled
in the way to win a woman. The conservatory was full of them. He saw
them in every imaginable posture: feeding the gold-fish, watering the
begonias, looking up into Dorothy's eyes as they sat at her feet,
looking down at her slender fingers, as she pinned gardenias to their
lapels. And these had been granted the long hours, he only the short.
Inwardly, young Nisbet groaned; aloud, as was his wont, he said the
They seemed long enough to me.
Well! said Dorothy.
Oh, hang it all! I didn't mean that. What an oaf I am!
Never mind, said Dorothy consolingly. I know you well enough to
understand you, by this time. She smoothed her skirt reflectively.
Let me see, she added, what were we talking about when we were
swamped by the family?
I think, answered young Nisbet, with one of his illogical blushes,
that I had just asked you what sort of a man you thought you would
like to marry. I remember I was on the point of saying that I thought
perhaps you had ideas likeerlike your mother's.
Dorothy raised her eyebrows.
Like the Mater's?
About a man being big and prominent, and all that, you know,
floundered young Nisbet. She always makes such a point of Barclay's
being Lieutenant-GovernorI thought you might be for the same kind of
Dorothy looked him over, with a whimsical smile, as he was speaking.
There was a deep bronze light in his close-cropped, ruddy hair, and his
skin was very smooth and clean. His eyes were appealing, with that
unspeakable eloquence of simple honesty which is almost pathetic. Under
his blue cloth coat, the great muscles of his shoulders and chest stood
out magnificently, rippling the fabric as he stirred, as if eager to
throw off their trammels, and be given free play. About him there was a
distinct suggestion of sane living and regular exercise. For all his
freckles, and his nose that was too little, and his mouth that was too
large, the ugliest of the Nisbet boyshe had often been called
that!was very emphatically good to look upon.
A big man? answered Dorothy. Yes, I think I should like to marry
a big man. I want him very clean, toovery clean!morally, as
well as otherwise. And honest as the day is long. And not too
bright! I don't want to be continually trying to live up to his brain,
and continually failing. It is fatal to one's self-respect, that sort
of thing. Then, he must be heels over head in love with mefor keeps!
And thenoh, he must be a man, a man through and through, who
wouldn't think anything he didn't dare to say, nor say anything he
didn't dare to do! That's what I want, and if I can get it, all the
prominence in the world may go hang!
That's just about John Barclay, though, said young Nisbet, with
the prominence thrown in.
Well, I'm not saying I wouldn't have married John Barclay, if I'd
had the chance. He comes pretty close to being all I would ask for, in
the way of a man. But, unfortunately, there's only one John Barclay,
and, like the rest of the world, he looked directly over poor little
Me's shoulders, and saw only Natalie. Good gracious! Who could blame
him? She's the loveliest little thing in the world! But, at all events,
she nabbed him, so all that is left for me to do is to grin and bear
the disappointment as best I may. He's very much of a man, John Barclay
Yes, assented young Nisbet, somewhat mournfully. I can see that
would be the kind of a chap that the dames would stand for
But, as I said before, continued Dorothy, it's not because he's
Lieutenant-Governor, whatever the Mater may think about it, that I
admire him. It's just because he's so big, and earnest, and loyal,
White, said young Nisbet.
Yes, isn't he? That's itwhite!
I can understand a man like that getting spliced, observed young
Nisbet very earnestly. He has so much to offer a girl. But as for the
rest of us
Oh, as to that, broke in Dorothy airily, John Barclay isn't the
only man in the world, by any manner of means! Besides, Natalie having
already bagged him, it is plain I shall have to look elsewhere.
There was a long pause, broken only by the plash of the water, which
seemed, as the seconds slipped by, to grow amazingly loud. Then young
Nisbet raised his eyes, and looked at her, blushing deplorably.
I wishhe said, I wish
Dorothy! Do excuse me, Mr. Nisbet, but reallydinner
at seven, you know, and this child must be thinking about
dressing. She takes ages!
Mrs. Rathbawne folded her fat hands, and stood waiting, at the
conservatory door. Young Nisbet rose.
Of course! he said. I'm always so stupid about these things.
Good-by, Miss Rathbawne. I'm off to New York to-morrow on some
confounded business, so I probably won't see you for a week or so.
Would you mind going out by the hall, Mr. Nisbet? suggested
Mrs. Rathbawne. Mr. Barclay is in the drawing-room with my elder
daughter, and he is so greatly occupied with affairs of state
that they have very little time together. I hate to have
them interrupted. One can do so much harm sometimes, you know,
by thoughtlessly interrupting people who are in love with each other.
Thank you so much; good-by. Do try to stand a little
straighter, Dorothy, my dear.
III. A FACE IN THE CROWD
At the sound of the Lieutenant-Governor's voice at the front door,
Mrs. Rathbawne had beaten a hasty retreat, dragging her immensely
edified half-sister in her wake, so that when he stepped through the
curtained doorway Barclay found Natalie alone.
I'm so glad you could come early, she said, from the corner of the
divan. Now we can have a talk before dinner. I seem to see so little
of you. I suppose that's the penalty attached to being engaged to the
second biggest man in the state. I'm sometimes jealous, Johnny boy, of
Alleghenia's place in your affections.
You're the only person in the world who has no need to be, laughed
Barclay. What is the news?
Probably, said Natalie, the only interesting items are that you
are cold and a little cross, and that you want a big chair and a cup of
tea and some hot toast.
Your summary of the situation is so exhaustive, said Barclay,
that there seems to be nothing left for me to say, except that you are
the most beautiful girl in the world, and that I think I must stand
still a moment and just look at you, before I accept any of the
luxuries you suggest.
I can't imagine how you know that I'm so beautiful. You can't
possibly see me in this dark corner. But I see I've made one mistake!
You are distinctly not cross.
Why should I be? asked the Lieutenant-Governor, standing before
the table, with his long legs far apart, and rocking from his toes to
his heels and back again. When a man has been walking for half an hour
through a gnawing February air, and suddenly, out of all proportion to
his deserts, comes full upon a rose in bloom, is that a reason for
She was very small, and deliciously delicate, was Natalie Rathbawne,
like a little Dresden image, with an arbutus-pink complexion, brown
hair, and deep-blue eyes, now clouded thoughtfully, but oftener alight
with humor, or dilating and clearing under the impetus of conversation.
A doll-like daintiness of tiny pleats and ruffles, fresh bows, and fine
stitching pervaded everything she wore, and if her voice inspired the
hackneyed comparison of running water, it was of water running under
moss, the sound whereof is as different from that of an open brook as
is music from discord. To John Barclay's thinking the barely believable
fact that this little miracle of beautythis pocket-Venus, as he was
wont to call heractually belonged to him remained one of the
insoluble mysteries of life. He could not, in the thraldom of his
present Elysium, be expected to remember, even if he had ever fully
realized, that he himself was tall, broad-shouldered, clean-cut, and
clean-lived, with the unmistakable stamp of the American gentleman on
his linen and his simple, well-fitting clothes, and the evidences of a
sane, regular existence in his steady hands and his clear eyes and his
firm mouth,a man of whom any woman might be, and of whom this
particular woman was, extravagantly proud. For the first tribute which
a lover lays at the feet of his lady is, in ordinary, the stamped-upon
and abused summary of his personal attributes, which, in his own mind,
he has taken remarkable pains to render as despicable as possible, and
which, in hers, her imagination contrives not only to rehabilitate, but
to imbue with a preposterously exaggerated splendor.
I wonder, added the Lieutenant-Governor presently, whether when
gentlemen are invited to tea they are supposed to kiss the hostess on
If you are in any doubt about it, observed Natalie, with an air of
superb indifference, I advise you to write for advice to the etiquette
editor of the 'Kenton City Record.' She is probably sixty-two years
old, looks like an English walnut, has never had a proposal in her
life, and so knows all about
What the lady in question was supposed to know all about was for
sufficient reasons never made clear. There are occasions, despite the
manuals of polite behavior, when interruption cannot with any approach
to justice be regarded as rudeness.
Barclay heaved a long sigh of satisfaction as he took his tea and
two thin slices of toast and settled himself in his chair.
Do you think it possible, he asked, for a man to be asleep for
six weeks, dreaming that he is in another garden of Eden, with an Eve
in a French frock, who has no partiality for apples
I adore apples! said the girl.
And then wake up, he continued, disregarding the interruption,
and find that the dream was only a dream, after all,that he's only a
poor dog of a politician, that the garden is only a dingy office, and
the flower-beds full of briers and pitfalls?
You've been eating pie for lunch again, said Natalie severely,
and it always makes you morbid. No; I don't think it possible at all.
If I did, I should hang on to your coattails like fury and keep you in
dreamland, whether you wanted to wake up or not.
It's all too good to be true! How dare you be so beautiful?
It's gospel truth!
Barclay paused for a moment, and then went on more seriously.
You're tired, littlest and most lovely in the world, and troubled
Natalie laughed shortly, with evident effort.
Why do you say that? she asked.
Why not? Don't you suppose I know? Do you think you could say a
hundred words without my perceiving that? It almost seems to me that
the knowledge that you were unhappy would make its way to me, no matter
what distance separated us, and that I should come to you at top-speed
to set things right. I've hardly seen your face, and yet I know your
dear, deep eyes are troubled; I had barely heard your voice before I
felt its weariness.
Natalie bent forward until her face came under the light.
Yes, I'm tired, she said; or, rather, I was tired when I first
came in. I'm better now, since I've had my tea. But you're right,
Johnny boy,there's something more. I'm troubled, desperately troubled
and heartsick. I've been trying to make myself believe that it's all
imagination, that I have no reason for feeling as I do; but I'm afraid
I can't manage it. John, I thought I saw Spencer Cavendish to-day.
Spencer Cavendish? Are you sure? I had almost forgotten his
existence!Of course, it's not impossible; but I imagined he had taken
root in some South Sea island long ago. That's what he was always
expecting to do, you remember. How I have hated that man!
You were good friends once.
Yes, and should be yet, if I had not been the most suspicious
mortal that ever breathed, and he the most hot-blooded. There was a
reason, you know,a little reason, but the most important in the
world! I was jealous, Natalie, insanely jealous. I could forgive him
That hurts me, John. I'm so happy, boy dear, that I want everybody
else to be happy as well. Oh, why is it that a girl must always have
that one thought on her mind, which is so hard, so hard?I mean the
thought of the good men, the true, brave, loyal men, whom she has cared
for, who have been her best friends perhaps, and yet whom she has been
forced to hurt bitterly because they asked her for something she was
not able to give. A man has so much easier a road! His happiness, when
it comes to him, isn't clouded by the thought of those to whom it means
the loss of their last remnant of hope. They are there, the
disappointed ones, but he doesn't know, he doesn't know! He hasn't on
his conscience the memory of hearts cruelly wounded,wounded even to
death. He doesn't in memory see the eagerness in a good friend's eyes
die to disillusion, to hopelessness, to bitter, bitter sorrow. He
doesn't have to remember how the life died suddenly out of a voice that
had been tender and eloquent. He doesn't sicken with the thought that
his hand has given a blow so merciless, so unmerited, and yet so
inevitable. Worst of all, for the girl, is the after-discovery that her
decision has made a differencea hideous, irreparable
difference,that the man can never be the same again,that she has
wrecked a life with a word! Oh, there ought to be some way! The man
ought not to ask unless he is sure of the reply! It's too much
responsibility to force upon the girl!
So with Spencer Cavendish, she went on after a moment. In spite
of allin spite of all, John!I can't forget that he loved me. I
think a woman never forgets that.
Until the man marries another woman!
Ah, said Natalie, with a faint smile, then least of all, John!
And besides, Spencer never married. He knew I loved you, long before
you did! I felt that it was due to him that he should know; he was my
oldest and best friend then, and so I told him! And then he went out of
my lifeout of his owninto darkness. I can't forget it! I can't
forget that I broke up your friendship
I did, John! It wasn't my fault, perhaps, nor any one's, for that
matter, but I did, just the same. Besides, it wasn't only the question
of your friendship. What hurt me most was the wilful wreck of his life.
And yet, how could I have known what was going to happen? What could I
do when it did happen? He was beyond my reach. He didn't even answer
the letter I wrote, asking him to come and see me. I thought, if he
cared for me, I could save him. But it was just as he had said,he
must have everything, or he would have nothing at all. And so he went
wrongoh, so terribly, terribly wrong!he who might have been
anything, if it hadn't been for me. I can never forget itnever! I can
never forget the pity of it, the tragedy of its awful publicity, the
newspapers, the scandal, people's sneers, his mother dying of a broken
heartand I did it! Think of it! Think of a man like Spencer
Cavendish in the police courts, not once, but a dozen times. Think of
what Justice Meyer called him at last, and what was printed in the
papers,'a common drunk!' Oh, John!
Natalie, Natalie! broke in the Lieutenant-Governor. Why should
you think of such things, brood over them, above all, blame them on
yourself? How could it possibly have been your fault? how could you
possibly have helped it? He was a reckless, hot-headed chapbrilliant,
of course, but a slave to his impulses and his nerves. If Lochinvars
could act with impunity nowadays, he'd have ridden up to your door on a
black horse, killed Thomas, and carried you off across his pommel. As
it was, he let himself go, and disgraced himself. I tried to talk to
him, just as you did, but he wouldn't have itcalled me 'an insolent
cub' anderworse. I had to give it up. It was all very distressing,
I admit, but then, dear, it was all so long ago. He hasn't been in
Kenton City for two years and more, and I've no doubt he pulled himself
together long since, and is leading a straight life somewhere. He had
lots in him, with all his recklessness. A chap like that, with no
family hanging about his neck, and with his brains, and only his own
living to make, could forge ahead almost anywhere.
But John, I'm sure I saw him to-day, and suppose I should
tell you that he wasbegging?
Barclay almost smiled at her earnest, troubled face, as he replaced
his cup on the table.
Begging? he answered. I'm afraid I couldn't bring myself to
believe you, violet-eyes. Even granting that he has fallen as low as
that, which I should think one of the most unlikely things in the
world, it would hardly be in Kenton City, would it?a place where his
face is known to a thousand people. Tell me about it. What makes you
think you saw him?
I was shopping this morning, said Natalie, all alone; and as I
came out of Kendrick's and was just about to get into the brougham, I
saw that some one was holding the door open for me. I looked up
carelessly, as one naturally would under the circumstances, and,
JohnI know it was he! At first I thought so, and then I didn't,
because he was so changed, so thin and pale, and because he had a
beard. So, before I thought what I was doing, I stepped into the
brougham, and put my hand on the door to close it. Then I looked up
again, and saw his face, peering in at me through the glass, and that
time there couldn't be any mistake. It was! I was going to
speak, but he was gone in a flash. I saw him disappearing in the crowd
before the shopslinking, John!with that dreadfully pathetic
air which all beggars have, his shoulders all hunched up, and his head
bent, and his hands in his pockets. He was cold, John, I could see
that, and, no doubt, hungry! And there I was, in that dreadful little
brougham, with my hateful furs, as warm as toast, and I didn't even
speak to him. I could have died of shame!
She buried her face in her hands, bending low over the tea-table.
Barclay was leaning forward in his chair, his lips set.
It's impossible, he murmured, impossible!
The girl looked up suddenly, a white spot in the centre of each
cheek, where the pressure of her thumbs had left its mark in the
tender, pink flesh.
Improbableyes! she said, but not impossible. Oh, I wish I could
believe otherwise, but I'm sure, I'm sure! Oh, John! You are so big, so
strong, so powerful now! Think of itLieutenant-Governor of
Alleghenia! You can do anything. And if he is here in Kenton
City, homeless, cold, starving, you must find and help himfor me,
Johnny boy, for me!
The Lieutenant-Governor had risen, and was pacing up and down the
room, with his brows knit, and his strong, white hands chafing slowly
against each other, palm to palm. It seemed impossible, indeed! Spencer
Cavendish, the last of one of Alleghenia's proudest families; Spencer
Cavendish, the brilliant young society pet and sportsman; Spencer
Cavendish, the wit, the viveura beggar in the street? And
The scandal of Cavendish's sudden and reckless plunge into sodden,
open dissipation, two years before, freshly called to Barclay's mind by
Natalie's words, had pointed to almost any finale, however debased,
however sordid. Barclay mentally invoked the face of his former friend,
as he had seen it on the occasion of their last meeting, flushed,
swollen-eyed, insolent, the fine patrician mouth hideously contorted
and maundering insults, filth, banality.
And I did it! the girl was saying. Don't forget that, John.
Unwittingly, ignorantly, helplessly, if you will, I did it, just the
same. If I could have loved him, I could have saved him. As it was, I
had to send him away, and he has come toto this! Oh, don't you see?
Don't you understand that something more than chance has crossed my
path with his, just at this moment of my supremest happiness, and of
his utter degradation? My duty is plain. It is to help him, to uplift
him, to make a man of him once moreto undo what I have done! I'm
responsibleand I'm helpless! What can I do? What can any girl do in
such a case? I can't go out into the streets and search for him. I can
only turn to you, Johnny boy, and rely upon your aid.
But, Natalie dearest, said the Lieutenant-Governor slowly, don't
you see that it is impossible, all this? I cannot allow such an affair
to come into your pure, sweet life, bringing with it the knowledge of
the depths to which men may fall, and the shadow of misery and
degradation. I cannot bear that, in even the remotest way, you should
blame yourself for that which it was never in your power to prevent or
remedy. A manthis manhas no business to cast on you the blight of
his own weakness and folly, to establish a relation of cause and effect
between your refusal of him and the subsequent transformation of a
gentleman into a common drunkard.
Ah, don't think me bitter, dearest! If the man you saw was actually
Cavendish, I pity him from the bottom of my heart. But it was his hands
which built up the barrier between his life and ours, and it must be
his that tear it down. It is intolerable that in his degradation he
should come into your life again, and have, even in your imagination,
the smallest claim upon youintolerable! The paths of my love for you
and my duty toward you are identical in this respect. There can be no
alternativeno quibbling. At least until he has redeemed himself, if
redemption is still possible, the thought of him, his presence, his
misdoings, must not and shall not contaminate the atmosphere in which
you live and move.
Natalie had risen suddenly, her eyes ablaze.
Ah, John! she said. Am I then a toy, a sugar figure, that I must
be packed in cotton, and shielded from all knowledge of the evil in the
world? Is that what it means to be a woman? Ah, no! It is bad
enough to be hemmed in by the wretched conventionalities which prevent
my doing openly what I conceive to be my duty, without adding to the
restrictions that actually exist the imaginary one that I must not even
think of the misery, the wretchedness, the sordid vice which abound
just across the borders of the comfortable little world in which I
live. And see, boy dear!with all the force of my conviction that
things should be otherwise, yet I am reasonable. I don't ask to see
Spencer, or to have an active hand in his redemption. I realize that
the time for that has passed, and that you are just in saying that he
must come to me, not I to himand come to me another than the man he
is to-day. Anything else is impossible: that I see and accept. But the
hideous fact remains. A man who loved me once, who offered me all that
a man can offer a woman, is walking the streets of Kenton City, cold,
hungry, homelessa beggar! What business is it of yours or mine what
his past follies and weaknesses were? His temptations may have been
beyond our understanding, but his present plight is not. He is
beggingbegging at our very doorsa man whom we have called by the
name of friend! I can't help him. All I can do, as I said before, is to
turn to you, whom I love better than all the world, and ask you to save
him, in my stead. Ah, boy, boy!I've given you all I refused to him,
taken at your hands all I put away at his. You can afford to be
The Lieutenant-Governor came slowly toward her, and, placing his
hands upon her shoulders, looked her in the eyes.
Dearest and Most Beautiful, he said tenderly, you are right. I
hopeI believethat you were overwrought, fanciful, that it is not
true. But if it is, if Cavendish is begging in our streets, then, so
surely as I am Lieutenant-Governor of Alleghenia, I will pull him out
of them, and make a man of him, if it takes a month and every police
officer and detective in Kenton City to find him. And that not alone
for your sake, tenderest-hearted, but for mine. I can afford to
be generous, God bless your sweet face, I can indeed!
And he bent over reverently, and kissed her hand.
IV. AS BETWEEN FRIENDS
There were but two guests at the Rathbawnes' dinner-table that
night, the Lieutenant-Governor and Colonel Amos Broadcastle, a veteran
of the Rebellion, brevetted Major for conspicuous gallantry at Lookout
Mountain, and now commanding officer of the Ninth Regiment, N. G. A.,
the crack militia organization of Kenton City. Colonel Broadcastle had
seen his sixty-five, but his broad, square shoulders, his rigid
carriage, and his black hair, even now only slightly touched with gray,
clipped twenty years from his appearance. His eye was one that was
famous throughout the Alleghenia Guard,an eye accustomed to control,
not a single man, or two, or three, but a thousand, moving as one at
his command; an eye enforcing obedience immediate, machine-like, and
It had been a momentous day for the Ninth when Amos Broadcastle,
retiring from the staff of a former Governor, had accepted, first a
majority therein, and then, three months later, its colonelcy. He found
ten companies, in no one instance exceeding twenty files front. He
found a field and staff vain, incompetent, and jealous; company
officers deficient alike in their knowledge of tactics and in their
conception of their responsibilities; sergeants, corporals, and lances
chosen without any view to fitness, and ignorant and tyrannical in
their positions; and finally, the rank and file lazy, untidy, and
frankly contemptuous of the school of the soldier. Some one had once
said of the Ninth that there was consolation to be found in the
mortifying knowledge that the men composing it were there with the
unique view of escaping jury duty. The consolation lay in the
probability that such infernally bad soldiers would have made jurors
quite as infernally bad.
But Broadcastle, a born disciplinarian and a trained tactician, was
now in a position to echo, albeit in a different spirit, the arrogance
of Louis: Nous avons changé tout cela! Ten years had sufficed
to change the indolent and incompetent Ninth of Alleghenia into a
regiment rivaling in prestige the Seventh of New York. The commissioned
officers were thrust upon, rather than achieved by, their companies,
but, once established in their respective positions, proceeded without
exception to justify, by their energy and ability, their selection from
the best element of Kenton City. Among the enlisted men the exponents
of the old spirit of sloth, indifference, and laxity were weeded out as
fast as their terms of service expired, and their places filled from
the same sources whence the company officers were drawn. Colonel
Broadcastle was a diplomat as well as a disciplinarian. By some
unknowable system of suggestion and example it came, little by little,
to be regarded in Kenton City as the thing to belong to the Ninth.
Before the capital was aware of the transformation, every company
roster read 103, the field and staff had been reorganized and
perfected, and the Ninth Regiment, N. G. A., was what it remained
thereafter: a magnificent fighting machine, ably drilled, perfectly
equipped, a credit to the state, to the credit of which there stood so
little else. The declaration of war with Spain brought it suddenly into
prominence by the astonishing readiness with which it went into camp
twenty hours after the Adjutant-General of Alleghenia published the
President's call for volunteers; and although it never saw active
service, it attracted at Chickamauga, and later at Tampa, the admiring
attention of the regular army, and was spoken of as the most perfect
body among the volunteer forces.
The citizens of Kenton City were not accustomed to discovering
things in which they could take pride. The exact contrary was more apt
to be the case. When, therefore, they discovered the rehabilitated
Ninth, and its redeemer in the person of its commanding officer, they
had a deal to say, and said it with unexampled arrogance and
satisfaction. Thenceforward, Alleghenia meant much to Colonel
Broadcastle, and Colonel Broadcastle considerably more than much to
Something of all this went through the Lieutenant-Governor's mind
during the progress of the dinner. He sat at Mrs. Rathbawne's right,
than which nothing in the world could have been more cheerless, unless
it was sitting at Mrs. Rathbawne's left. But the good lady's habitual
complacency was plainly in abeyance, her customary volubility replaced
by a fidgety reserve. The dinner, as a social achievement, was a
distinct failure, save in so far as Mrs. Wynyard and Colonel
Broadcastle were concerned. Several months before, Mrs. Wynyard had
frankly announced that she had designs upon the Colonel. Latterly,
Barclay had begun to suspect the Colonel of having designs upon Mrs.
Wynyard. Thirty and sixty-five that looked forty-fivea widow and a
widower! More wonderful things had happened.
If I were thirty years younger, Broadcastle was saying even now,
as he did full justice to the celery mayonnaise, I should say we were
made for each other.
Since two single people may be made for each other, laughed Mrs.
Wynyard, I wonder if two married people can't be unmade for each
other. Perhaps that is just what has happened to us!
I'll think that over, replied the Colonel with mock gravity. I
don't want to commit myself on so serious a hypothesis, without due
They were the only ones who were thoroughly at ease. Barclay and
Natalie, unstrung by the events of the day, ate little and talked
listlessly. Dorothy, victim to an inward excitement which was half
happiness and half disappointment, chattered feverishly. Rathbawne was
wrapped in his own thoughts, and his wife, innocently unobservant of
emotional manifestations in any and every other, but pathetically
sensitive to the slightest evidence of mental perturbation in this
stern, kind man, between herself and whom existed a devotion dog-like
in its silence and intensity, watched his clouded face with an anxiety
which she made no effort to conceal. The dinner dragged hopelessly,
until she shook herself into a bewildered realization that it was over,
folded her napkin scrupulously, dusted a few crumbs from the
black-satin slope of her obsolete lap, and, followed by her daughters
and Mrs. Wynyard, left the men to their cordials and cigars.
The latter drew their chairs nearer, as the door closed, made little
clearings in the wilderness of finger-bowls, silver, and discarded
napkins, for the accommodation of their coffee-cups and cordial
glasses, and, lighting the long Invincibles which were Rathbawne's sole
extravagance, inhaled that first matchless whiff of smoke which makes a
whole day of anxiety and vexation seem to have been worth the while.
It is a moment apart and sui generis, this, and is rivaled
only by that of early morning realization that one is awakeand not
obliged to get up. It is apt to pass in silence, for a newly lit cigar
is like a newly married wife: a man is deliberately oblivious to all
else. The moment, too, is one of readjustment, of hasty mental survey
of the chatter that has passed, and of preparation for the essentially
dissimilar talk to come. With men of the mental calibre of the three
here assembled this opportunity is sacred to some of the gravest and
most vital thoughts which they exchange. Peter Rathbawne, in
particular, whenever he reviewed the paramount conversations of his
life, seemed to find their significance indissolubly fused with the
fragrance of Havana cigars and the taste of kümmel or yellow
His eyes dwelt thoughtfully upon his companions during the pause
which followed. First, on Broadcastle. He could depend upon him as he
could depend upon no other man on earth. They had fought side by side
in many a tight place in the black days of '62, and in many another,
full as tight, since then, on battlefields commercial and political. It
is doubtful whether so much as a single word of admiration or affection
had ever passed between them. It is equally doubtful whether anything
could have been more entirely superfluous than such a voicing of
John Barclay, too! Peter Rathbawne, with what had been natural
shrewdness at the outset now sharpened almost to clairvoyance by his
years of dealing with a multiplicity of men and things, understood the
Lieutenant-Governor absolutely, and admired him with all the force of
his rugged nature. And Rathbawne was not given to admiring people. His
business experience had not fostered the spirit of hero-worship. He had
seen too much for that. But in the two men before him he recognized
qualities so unusual, and in many ways so similar, that he was proud to
count them friends.
For the moment, however, as he took stock of them, he was measuring
them by a new standard, more rigid, more severe than he had hitherto
had reason to apply. It is one thing to trust a man implicitly, and
another thing entirely to try to tell him so. For silence is most
golden in the specification of friendship, and when employed in the
particularizing of intimate emotion the silver of speech is apt to turn
to veriest tinsel.
Yet the occasion was one which demanded speech. Moreover, and in
direct opposition to his inclinations and the precedents he had
established, he was forced not only to give practical expression to his
feeling for Broadcastle and Barclay, but, what humiliated as well as
annoyed him, to confess himself incapable of dealing with a question
which confronted him. It was the first time within his recollection
when he had mistrusted his own judgment.
But Peter Rathbawne was not the man to procrastinate, and presently
he began to speak, in a low but curiously intense voice, from which the
others instinctively took their cue. He was a short man, inclined to
stoutness, but with the clear, sharp eye and the underhang of jaw which
tell of right principle and indomitable perseverance. It was a question
whether in calling him the second most obstinate man in Alleghenia,
Governor Abbott had given him the full measure of his due.
Gentlemen, he said, with the somewhat stilted formality which was
part of his manner, I will say to you what I wouldn't say to
others,I'm in a hole, and I want your advice. I'll be as brief as
possible, and I'll come right to the point. For thirty years I've been
building up the Rathbawne Mills, giving them every hour of my thought,
every particle of my strength, every atom of my ability. I've seen them
grow from a little shanty on the outskirts of Kenton City to a
collection of buildings covering four solid squares, filled with modern
machinery, and employing four thousand, two hundred and odd hands. I've
been a business man, I've been a rigid man, but I've been a fair man,
too. No one can say that I ever clipped wages, even when I had to run
the mills at a loss, as I've had to do more than once. I gave my people
an eight-hour day long before the law of Alleghenia jammed it down the
throats of other mill-owners. I swallowed the Union, though it was a
bitter mouthful. There has never been a just complaint from one of my
employees that wasn't attended to in short order, if it was in my power
to do so. There's many an old fossil on my pay-rolls to-day who isn't
worth his salt, but he stays there, and will continue to stay there,
because he did his best when he could, and it's not his fault that he's
dead wood now. I've given in, over and over again, in one way or
another, sometimes against my convictions, and oftener against my will.
But one thing I've stuck to, and that's my right to discharge a hand
when I see fit, without dictation from the Union or anybody else. In
the past, this has been comparatively easy sailing. One man, now and
again, isn't a ripple on the surface of four thousand employees.
Besides, there was always a good reason. The others saw that, and there
was never a finger raised. They believed in me, through and through,
and it has been my pride to know that they did, and that they had good
cause to. But now it's different. There has been a band of young
good-for-nothings in Shop 22, who were full, chock-a-block, of
socialism, and equality, and workingmen's rights, and God knows
what-not! They've talked enough poisonous gas to the other hands to
blow up a state. They distributed pamphlets, and made speeches, and
organized clubs, and fomented discord, till I got sick and tired of it.
There wasn't one square day's work in the whole fifteen of them put
together. So, when I'd stood them as long as I couldwhich was at ten
o'clock yesterday morningI discharged them all in a bunch, and if
there'd been a steep place handy, I'd have expected to see them all run
violently down it into the sealike the other swine, in Scripture. For
if ever there was a band of devils made incarnate, it was that same
fifteen who were sowing anarchy broadcast through the Rathbawne Mills!
Nowwhat? Lo and behold, they are all henchmen and disciples of
Michael McGrath, whom we in Kenton City know to our cost, and regular
and loyal memberssave the mark!of his Union. Well, gentlemen, I've
got that Union about my ears like a nest of hornets, with McGrath at
the head, and unless those fifteen men are reinstated by noon
to-morrow, my four thousand hands will be out on strike, and the
Rathbawne Mills will be tied up as tight as a drum!
Fight 'em! said Colonel Broadcastle curtly, as the other paused.
That's what I meant to dobut where am I going to come out? If I
thought, for instance, that I was going to have your regiment to back
me up, Broadcastle, or even the Kenton City police, why, well and good!
But am I? No, sir! No, sir! Not with Elijah Abbott in the
Governor's chair, I'm not! You know that as well as I. Why,
Broadcastle, I'd rather see McGrath himself at the capitol than that
He paused to relight his cigar, and then continued.
The Rathbawne Mills are like the fruit of my own body to me. I love
them! I love every stone and brick of them, that I've put in place, as
it were, with my own hands. I've often thought that if they should burn
down it would come close to killing me. And yet I could watch them go
with a lighter heart, God knows, than that with which I foresee the
misery that's coming to these people of mine, who are going to starve
at the bidding of a band of black-legs, and that not even because they
think their cause a just one, but simply because they can't help
themselves. It isn't only that ruin's staring me in the face, though
there's that possibility in the situation, too, but that privation,
bitter misery, and despair are lying in wait for them. God!what an
But I can't give in, BroadcastleI can't give in,
John Barclay! It means the sacrifice of a principle I've held out for,
and that I know is right. What's more, it isn't as if I were yielding
one point. It would only be the beginning. If I give in now, I might as
well turn over the mills to McGrath at once, and let him run them
according to his own blackguardly will. You know how such things go.
Give them an inch
And they raise a hell! put in Colonel Broadcastle.
Exactly! It's commercial suicide. And yet, if I don't yield,
I'm precipitating disorder, and bloodshed, and the untold suffering of
four thousand souls. What am I to do?
Fight 'em! said Colonel Broadcastle, with a sharp nod of his head.
Rathbawne turned from him to the Lieutenant-Governor, and to the
latter, knowing the man he had been, there was something indescribably
heart-rending in the sudden, irresolute trembling of his half-raised
hands, the slow shake of his head, and the pathos of his raised
eyebrows and drooping lips.
John, he said, I'm an old man, and you're a young one, but I'm a
plain citizen, and you're the Lieutenant-Governor of Alleghenia. You
know how things stand. Now, I've given you my girl, and after that it's
not much to put myself into your hands as well. I'm getting on. My
strength isn't what it was. I'm not as fit to stand such a struggle as
this is bound to be, as I was thirty years ago. I look strong, but, in
reality, I'm not. My doctor has warned me, more than once. A sudden
shockyou know what these medical chaps say about sudden shocks! I've
laughed at him, of course, and yetI know there is truth in it. I've
been up against hard propositions, but never one as hard as this. I've
had big responsibilities, but never a responsibility that I felt as I
feel this one. If I hold out, I know what people and the newspapers
will say,how they'll blackguard me,but I'm not afraid of that. I'm
not even thinking of it. No, and I'm not thinking of what the strain
may mean to me. Every man's turn is sure to comewhy not one way as
well as another? But what I am thinking of is the result upon
the lives of these people whom I've made, as surely as if I were
another Creator. And McGrath's another Beelzebub! There's a fight on
between us for the salvation of a little world of four thousand souls!
But I'm not God! I can't act with the conviction of omniscience. I've
been the most independent of men. I've made my own fortune with my own
brains. I've done as I saw fit, and the results have seemed to indicate
that I've been oftener right than wrong. But now, I'm at a loss. It's
not the men I'm thinking of so much. They ought to be able to make
their own way, as I've made mine. It's the women and children dependent
upon themthe women and children who have no voice in the matter, and
yet who are bound to suffer most by a strike. I've got to think for
them. I've reached a crisisa cross-waysand I've got to choose which
course to takeand I can't! All my experience counts for nothing. I've
neveryou probably know itasked for advice before. But now I must
have the unprejudiced, the outside point of view. I've always thought
there was a clear, unmistakable boundary between right and wrong, but
now there's some right in the wrong, and a big sight more of wrong in
the right! I've heard Broadcastle's opinion, and I want yours. If you
agree, I'll go by what you say. As I said before, John, in this matter
I'm the individualyou're the state. I'll go by what you say. What
shall I do?
Peter Rathbawne's words had wrought tremendously upon the
Lieutenant-Governor. He answered slowly, looking down, and with a
perceptible tremor in his voice.
Mr. Rathbawne, you and the Colonel know how high-sounding my title
is, and how little, in reality, it means. There is no need to go into
details. I'm Lieutenant-Governor of Alleghenia, yes!and as helpless
in the cause of right as a new-born baby! If I could by any means, in
any manner, support the advice I gave you, I would give it willingly.
John! said Peter Rathbawne, I don't mean that. I've put the case
wrongly. Give me your counsel, not as Lieutenant-Governor, but as my
friend, and the man who loves my daughter!
The Lieutenant-Governor raised his eyes from the finger-tips with
which, as the other was speaking, he had been plucking at the cloth.
Fight them, Mr. Rathbawne, he said, and may God help youbecause
V. A BRAND FROM THE BURNING
More heartsick than he cared to confess, even to himself, the
Lieutenant-Governor left the Rathbawnes' earlier than his wont, despite
the fact that his host and Colonel Broadcastle were still engaged in
discussing the impending situation, and that Natalie, with a batch of
new music, was waiting for him at the piano. He pleaded an unusually
busy day and his consequent fatigue as an excuse, and so, at half after
nine, found himself about to light a second cigar, on the steps of the
Rathbawne residence, and shivering a little in the night air, which
stung the inside of his nostrils and set his eyes watering. Raw as the
day had been, it had turned colder now, but the night was superbly
clear. The sky seemed to have drawn nearer to the earth, and the stars
twinkled so sharply and clearly against its deep blue-black that they
resembled in form their conventionally five-pointed counterfeits of
silver paper. A brisk wind whirled a few dried leaves in whispering
eddies across the smooth asphaltum of the driveway, but beyond this and
the peevish sputtering of the arc-light on the opposite corner there
was no sound. It was the kind of night which, with its crystal
clearness and its steely intensity, stirs the normal pulse to keen
exhilaration: yet never had John Barclay felt more hopelessly
dispirited, more utterly at a loss to see the way before him. That
anxiety, distress, possibly actual disaster should be impending over
this house where lay his heart, his happiness, and his hope, was
sufficiently disturbing in itself. That he should not be able, despite
his position, to raise a hand to avert the calamity was worse. But that
the battle was to be a battle for the right, and yet, as it seemed,
foredoomed from the start to end in disaster, since no aid could be
expected from the strong arm of the law to which the partisans of
principle turn naturally for support: this was worst of all. For out of
dangerous surroundings he felt himself able to snatch away the littlest
and most lovely woman in the world. She, at least, should not suffer.
And out of this nightmare of powerless prominence, of impotent
position, he himself could retire into private life, and be no less a
man than he had been before. But from the reproach of corruption which
had fallen upon her, and the impending slur of anarchy, who was to
rescue Alleghenia? The Lieutenant-Governor set his lips and drove his
nails into his palms, as he stood in the shadow of the Rathbawnes'
doorway, looking up at the sky of the February night. He was not a
religious manas the term goesbut in that moment he said a better
prayer for the welfare of his state than had ever lain upon the lips of
any priest in Kenton City!
He was about to strike his match when an instinct rather than an
actual perception of movement arrested his hand. Bradbury Avenue, upon
which stood the Rathbawne house, was situated in one of the quieter
residence districts which prided itself on the turfed spaces between
its dwellings, pretentious enough for the most part, and the double
rows of trees which lined its thoroughfares. It was one of these trees
which, at the moment, attracted Barclay's attention. It lay in a direct
line between himself and the arc-light on the corner, and its trunk, in
some miraculous manner, had abruptly developed an elbow, and then an
arm. The Lieutenant-Governor was still staring at this phenomenon when
it was as abruptly explained by the sudden emergence from shadow of a
man, who had apparently been standing on the side of the tree nearest
to the house. He was crossing the avenue obliquely when something about
his bearing caused the Lieutenant-Governor to lean forward and follow
him intently with his eyes. It was all there, as Natalie had saidthe
lifted shoulders, the bent head, the unmistakable, pathetic air of the
beggar. Then, as he neared the light, he gave a short upward strain to
his neck and chin, the impatient movement of a man whose collar annoys
him. The trick was too familiar to have been forgotten. The next moment
Barclay's heels were pounding on the asphaltum behind him, and then
Barclay's hand fell upon his shoulder and whirled him round.
In the oddly intense radiance of the arc-light above, which cut
sharply across the surface of forehead, cheek, and chin, and left heavy
shadows like those in a roughly blocked-out carving, under brow, nose,
and lower lip, the two men faced each other briefly, in silence. Then
the Lieutenant-Governor voiced the other's name, hardly above a
And the other, echoing the tone, if not the words, replied:
A square away, the lights of a hansom winked into the avenue, and
the hoof-beats of the horse clonked on the pavement, unaccompanied by
any sound from the smoothly trundling, rubber-tired wheels. Barclay
stepped to the kerb, and hailed the driver with his stick. The cab drew
in, stopped, and threw the divisions of its apron wide, like two black
hands extended in cordial welcome.
The Lieutenant-Governor turned to his companion.
Get in, he said. I want to have a talk with you.
The drive of a mile and more from Bradbury Avenue to Barclay's
quarters in the new bachelor apartment-house Rockingham was
accomplished without the exchange of a word. Once, he felt his
companion shiver, and dragging a rug from under them, he spread it
across their knees. That was the only movement on the part of either.
They sat, side by side, looking straight before them over the horse's
bobbing crupper, until the hansom pulled up sharply before the broad
and brilliantly illuminated entrance of the Rockingham. As they
passed in, Cavendish had a passing impression of tiled floors, columns
of green marble, and attendants in tightly fitting green uniforms with
brass buttons. Then an elevator whirled them up to the eighth floor,
deposited them in a square hallway, and vanished again, with the little
page in charge wrinkling his nose and biting the thumb of his cotton
Wot's the Loot'nt-Guvnor up to now, Sawed-Off? inquired the
doorkeeper genially, as the elevator returned to the ground floor.
Ide'no! replied the little page with equal affability. Goin' in
fer pol'tics, I guest. Jeest! Wot a slob it wuzwot?
The Lieutenant-Governor unlocked the door of his apartment, touched
an electric button which flooded the little hall and the drawing-room
beyond with light, and, entering the latter, went directly to a closet
in the wall. Unlocking this, he took out a jar of biscuits and a
decanter, and setting them upon the table, turned once more to his
Put away a couple of those biscuits and a glass of sherry, he
said, and then we'll talk.
I'm past biscuits, said the other, almost sullenly.
I'll see to that, replied Barclay. They are only by way of a
He passed into the hall as he spoke, and presently Cavendish heard
the click of a telephone receiver slipping from its crotch, and
Barclay's voice speaking, to some one below, of a steak, vegetables,
salad, and coffee. He stepped to the table, devoured two or three of
the biscuits ravenously, poured himself a glass of sherry, sipped, and
then swallowed it, and flung himself down upon a wide divan.
Have you a cigarette? he asked, as Barclay reëntered. I haven't
smoked in three days. That's worse than mere hunger, you know.
I believe you!
Barclay pushed a silver box across the table, and seating himself
opposite, touched a match to the cigar which he had been about to light
at the Rathbawnes' door, and which he still held between his lips.
Help yourself, he added. Your supper will be up presently.
Meanwhile, shall I fire away, or will you?
Cavendish let the first smoke from his cigarette curl slowly up his
cheek before replying. In the full light now first resting upon it, his
face showed as that of a man approximately Barclay's age, but pinched
by want, and deeply lined by dissipation. His under lids were puffy and
discolored, and a dozen heavy creases ran, fan-like, from the corners
of his eyes. Hair already turning white and an unkempt mustache and
beard completed the picture. His clothes were faded and frayed, no
linen was visible, and his boots were cracked and soggy. There was
nothing about him to suggest the former estate of gentleman save his
hands, which, while thin and tremulous, were clean and well-kept, in
singular contrast to the slovenliness of his attire.
Age before respectability, he said in reply to Barclay's question,
with a shrug. I'll go first. It will save your asking questions. We
parted in anger, Barclay.
Let that pass, put in the Lieutenant-Governor, briefly. Two years
wipe out all scores as petty as was the cause of our quarrel.
Well, then, continued Cavendish more easily, when I left Kenton
City, it was with the best intention in the world of making a fresh
start in some place where my story wasn't known. I went to New York. I
had a little money, but only a very little, and not the most remote
idea of how difficult it is for a man to make his way in a place where
he is unknown, particularly if he has no credentials and is too proud
to ask for any from his old associates. Moreover, I'd been drinking
hard for six months and there was no such thing as clipping it short
all at once. I had an idea of tapering off, and perhaps, if I had found
a job, I might have done so. As it was I climbed up one step and fell
down two, and that went on indefinitely. It wasn't as if I'd had a
distinct aim or anything in my life which made it seem worth living. I
didn't half care. I'd set my heart on something which I couldn't get,
andwell, never mind that. It is all as long ago as the Flood! I got
work now and again, tried reporting, and teaching, and copying. But
each time it was a grade lower, and I stuck to nothing but the
whiskeyexcept when I had a little more money than usual, and then it
He touched his eyes, and then raised his hand to the level of his
chin, with the fingers held wide apart and rigid, and watched it
tremble for an instant in silence.
I haven't seen a mirror in weeks, he went on, but I know the
signs are all there. That's the story. I could string it out for an
hour, but it would all be in the same key. I've simply been going down,
down, down. I'm what the old judge called medo you remember it came
out in the 'Record?'I'm a common drunk, Barclay. And I don't care!
I've been on the point of putting an end to it many a timebut I
always held out for another drink! Now, even my pride's gone. It stuck
to me longer than anything else, but it's taken itself off at last.
I've been feeling lately that I'm pretty near the end, and I wanted to
see Kenton City again before it came. That's the reason I walked all
the way from Pittsburg, and I've been begging on the streets since I
got in. I thought nobody would recognize me.
But I did, said Barclay.
Yes, and she did! She saw you this morning, but before she
took in fully that it was you, you were gone in the crowd. She was half
heart-broken over it, and made me promise to look you up. I was going
to do so, when I tumbled against you by chance to-night. You were
watching the house?
Yes, for the last time. I saw she had recognized me and that Kenton
City was no place for me. So I was off again to-night. Is she
She is well, and, I am glad to say, happy. We are to be married in
A smile hovered for an instant on Cavendish's lips.
God bless her! he said slowly. I'm glad of it. But don't let's
talk of that. She's as far above me as the stars!
And as far above me, too, for that matter! answered Barclay.
Here's your supper. While you're eating, I'll take my turn at the
A bell-boy arranged the tray on the table, removed the covers, and
in a moment the two men were again alone. With a deep sigh of
satisfaction Cavendish drew a chair to the table and set to work on the
steaming dishes before him.
Jupiter! he said, with the first mouthful poised on his fork, you
don't know what this means, Barclay, and you can thank God you don't. I
won't attempt to thank you. Go on, and tell me about yourself.
I've no intention of doing that just at present, replied the
Lieutenant-Governor, settling himself more comfortably in his chair. I
want to talk about you. Don't be afraid. I'm not going to preach! But I
am going to say that while I understand a good deal of what you've
said, the last part is pure rot! You're a bit of a wreck, of course,
but it isn't your pride or your self-respect or whatever you choose to
call it, that's gone. It's only your nerve. Now you've had your
experience, and you're back where you belong, and you've friends who
like you, and who can help you, and who will. I'm in a position to do
so myself, and I don't expect you to make any bones about accepting my
assistance, and whatever money you need for the moment. It will be a
loan, of course, to be repaid when you're on your feet again. We'll
have you there in no time. When you've made way with the grub, you can
bunk down on that divan for the night, and in the morning I'll tog you
out in one of my outfits, and you can set about getting back on
terra firma. You'll have to shake the drink, that goes without
Cavendish straightened himself suddenly, laid down his knife and
fork, and laughed shortly.
It sounds well, he said bitterly, but you don't understand,
Barclay. It's too late! I don't care, and if I did, I couldn't shake
the drink to save my immortal soul. I'm steady enough for the time
being, because I'm hungry and because I'm being fed. But I've tried the
other game too often. I know what it means. I wouldn't promise you to
quit, because I don't want to lie to you, and that's all it would be.
When the craving comes back, I'll go down before it like a row of
tenpins. No, Barclay, it won't do.
Nonsense, man! Do you want to tell me you're as weak as that?
Every bit! said Cavendish, attacking the steak again.
Well, I don't believe it, that's all. In the morning you'll be a
different man. I'll give you a bromide when you're ready for bed.
You're shaky, as it is, but that's all a matter of nerves. Now we'll
drop the subject, and talk of other things.
It was midnight when they separated. Barclay brought out sheets and
blankets for the divan, produced pajamas for his guest, put the bath at
his disposal, and mixed a strong dose of bromide for him to take upon
Half an hour later, when he reëntered the drawing-room to see
whether Cavendish was in need of anything further, he found him
standing by the table in his pajamas, trembling, wide-eyed, and very
What is it? he asked. Are you ill?
No, answered Cavendish, striving in vain to control the trembling
of his lips, only damnably nervous. Could youcould you give me a
drop of brandy, Barclay?
Certainly not! said the Lieutenant-Governor. Pull yourself
together, man! There's your bromide. Take that. It's better than a
Cavendish turned, lifted the glass, spilling a little as he did so,
and swallowed the sedative at a gulp. Then he stretched himself upon
the divan and drew the covers close up about his chin. Presently, from
the bedroom, Barclay heard him breathing deeply and regularly, and
turning on his side, fell into a heavy, dreamless sleep.
He awoke with a start, as the dawn was showing gray through the
chinks of his window curtains, with a vague, uneasy sense of something
wrong, and lay listening, every nerve strained taut. From the adjoining
room came the sound of Cavendish's breathing, but now it was more
raucous, more like groan following groan. The Lieutenant-Governor
strove in vain to put off the foreboding which lay heavy upon him,
until, finally, unable to resist the impulse, he rose, slid his feet
into his slippers, and going noiselessly into the drawing-room, stepped
to the windows and put the curtains softly aside. What first met his
eye as he turned was the door of his little wine-closet in the wall. It
was standing wide open, and about the lock the wood was hacked and
hewed away in great splinters. On a chair near by lay a rough knife
with the blade open and a sliver of wood yet sticking to the point.
Then he looked toward the divan. Cavendish was lying face down upon it,
outside the blankets, with his head lolling sharply over the edge. His
left arm was extended full length toward the ground, where his fingers
just touched a bottle of French absinthe, overturned upon its side, and
uncorked, with the thick, gummy liquid spread from its mouth in a
circular pool on the waxed floor.
VI. McGRATH LAUGHS
The clock on the huge central tower of the Capitol marked nine, as
the Lieutenant-Governor passed rapidly through the lofty entrance hall
toward the corridor leading to his office and that of Governor Abbott.
Already his promptness was proverbial, and there were those in the
great, grim building who looked forward to the moment of his arrival,
each morning, with a kind of eagerness. These were the simpler folk of
the official world with which circumstance housed him for eight hours
daily,bootblacks, elevator-boys, porters, doormen. For to the big,
clean, wholesome personality which appeals irresistibly to these
humbler people, Barclay added an astonishing memory for faces, and for
the names and circumstances connected with them. It was a gift which
counted as an unspeakably important factor in the establishment and
maintenance of unusually cordial relations with all those with whom he
came in contact. No one brought within the radius of his personal
magnetism long resisted it. It was only those who judged him from a
distance, as did the press and the rank and file of his party, or those
who deliberately misinterpreted him, as did his political enemies, who
permitted themselves anything short of enthusiasm for John Barclay. And
this faculty for attracting admiration and commanding respect, this
infallible kindness and this inherent dignity, were never made manifest
to so great advantage as in his attitude toward his inferiors. These
adored him. He accumulated, bit by bit, a remarkable store of intimate
information relating to them, and employed it in his intercourse with
them, with a tact and a frank sincerity of interest which never failed
of their effect. The response thus elicited was strongest of the minor
pleasures in his life. He was awarenone betterof the shrewdness
native to those who have no claim upon one's recognition, their
appreciation of notice that is unfeignedly interested, their
sensitiveness to open indifference, their resentment of the simulated
consideration which is mere impertinence; and he was conscious of a
little inward thrill of satisfaction at the difference of attitude in
the employees at the Capitol as toward Governor Abbott and himself.
Where the former's suavity elicited only formal respect, manifestly
obligatory, his own whole-heartedness lined his way with smiles and
kindly greetings. His official existence, beset with annoyance,
mortification, and disappointment, was, as he often reflected, made
tolerable only by this friendliness which he, almost unconsciously,
inspired. Dogs, children, and his subordinatesthe three most
intuitively critical classes of beingswere all his friends. The
pathway to and from the daily routine, which he was coming to regard as
moral martyrdom, was a pathway illumined with sunlight and strewn with
As the Lieutenant-Governor passed through his ante-room, with a wink
at the boy, a nod to the stenographer, and a word of greeting to his
private secretary, and entered his office, he was surprised to find the
communicating door open, and to hear the sound of a vaguely familiar
voice in the Governor's room beyond. In an effort to place the speaker,
he hesitated briefly before advancing to a point which would bring him
within range of the Governor's eye. Almost immediately, the memory of
the convention rushed over him, and he recognized the voice as that of
And it won't be a strike like other strikes, he was saying, not
so long as I'm running it, that is. It's going to mean business from
the word go! There's been too much shilly-shallying in the strikes I've
known anything about, too much talk, and too much wasting of Union
funds. You know what I mean. It isn't enough to tie up a mill, and then
hang around on street-corners for two months, waiting for the other
side to give in. The only place to hit a man like Rathbawne is in his
pocket, and by that I don't mean simply cutting off his income, but
chopping into his capital as well. He's got to understand
The Lieutenant-Governor walked over to his desk, laid his hat and
stick on a chair, and, before removing his overcoat, began turning over
the pile of letters which awaited his attention. As he did so, Governor
Abbott's voice broke in suavely upon the other's.
I deprecate any resort to violence, he said. You must proceed
with discretion if you expect the state to maintain an attitude of
neutrality. Otherwise, the police or the militia
Oh, to hell with the police and the militia! broke in McGrath
impatiently. What's the use
There is the Lieutenant-Governor now, interrupted the other.
Perhaps he has some news for us. Mr. Barclay, will you kindly step in
here for a moment?
McGrath was standing on the opposite side of the Governor's table as
Barclay entered the room. He acknowledged the latter's curt nod with an
ironical bow, slipped his hands into the pockets of his checked
trousers, and stood waiting, with his square head thrust forward, for
what was to follow.
Mr. McGrath has called, continued the Governor, to explain the
attitude of the Union in the impending strike at the Rathbawne Mills.
I've been telling him of our conversation of yesterday afternoon, and
that, as you were to see Mr. Rathbawne last night, you would probably
have something to tell us in regard to his position. Were you able to
persuade him to a more reasonable view of the situation?
I have nothing to add, sir, to what I said yesterday, replied
Barclay. I told you then that I had no intention of endeavoring to
influence Mr. Rathbawne's judgment.
He spoke to you about it?
And asked your advice?
And you replied?
The Lieutenant-Governor flushed.
I beg to suggest, sir, he answered, that this is hardly the time
for me to commit myself as to that. I conceive it to be a matter of
official privacy. Mr. McGrath
You have my authority to speak, Mr. Barclay, said the Governor.
Indeed, I desire it. Since one side knows your views, there is no
reason why the other should not be informed as well. Mr. McGrath is the
president of the Union. It is best that he should know the attitude of
the state authorities in this controversy.
I am not in a position to question your wishes, sir. You should
One cannot pretend to be infallible, Mr. Barclay, answered the
Governor, rubbing his hands. One can only do what seems to be right
and proper under the circumstances. By our conversation of yesterday, I
in a measure put the negotiations with Mr. Rathbawne into your hands.
It is a task I did not seek, sir. Pardon me if I say that it is
also one which I should hardly have accepted, had I been aware that in
speaking as you did you were actually asking me to assume it. Mr.
Rathbawne is my friend, and, moreover, my personal convictions
The Governor held up his hand.
There can be no question of friendship or of personal conviction,
Mr. Barclay, in the case of a duty imposed upon a state official. I
realize that what youor I, for that mattermust do in the
performance of our obligations, is oftentimes disagreeable, oftentimes
at variance with our wishes. But that is unavoidable.
Barclay moved uneasily. The intrusion of this pedantry, so
conspicuously insincere, with its implied rebuke, chafed him
unspeakably, in view of the presence of McGrath. The Governor had
adopted the tone, half authoritative, half reproachful, of a teacher
reproving a refractory child.
My time, as you must know, is inadequate to the demands made upon
it. I am forced, on occasions, to turn more or less important matters
over to others. To whom more naturally than to you, Mr. Barclay?
May I suggest, sir, that there can be no profit in prolonging this
discussion? I appreciate the position perfectly, and I am quite
prepared to state what I know of Mr. Rathbawne's attitude toward the
demands of the Union.
Ah, said the Governor, that is as it should be, and as
satisfactory as possible. Let me remind you, Mr. Barclay, that it was
not I, but yourself, who introduced this digression.
He turned to the president of the Union.
You will understand from what I have said, Mr. McGrath, he added,
both to the Lieutenant-Governor and to you, that in the matter of the
proposed strike, he is, to all intents and purposes, acting in my
stead. He was in a position to approach Mr. Rathbawne, and I was not.
Now, Mr. Barclay, if you please
The Lieutenant-Governor straightened himself instinctively, as, for
the first time, he addressed himself to the agitator.
Mr. McGrath, he said, my confidence in Mr. Rathbawne's fairness
and integrity would have led me to approve any course which he might
have seen fit to take. As you have already heard me say, I had
absolutely no intention of endeavoring to influence his judgment.
Greatly to my surprise, Mr. Rathbawne himself consulted me in the
matter, without any suggestion on my part, and asked for my advice.
That's fortunate, put in McGrath, very fortunate. You've been
able to sidetrack a lot of trouble.
Barclay's eyes hardened at the hypocrisy of the sneer.
I have pleasure in informing you, he continued, that, in reply, I
advised him to fight the Union in the present dispute to the utmost of
his means and ability. I should have counseled him further to hold out
until he had spent his last cent and shed his last drop of blood,
except that, knowing him as I do, I conceived such a recommendation to
be wholly superfluous. Mr. Rathbawne has his character and his record
behind him. There is about as much chance of his yielding you an inch
of ground as if he were standing with his back against the Capitol!
McGrath shrugged his shoulders.
It's a damned funny way you have of not influencing people's
judgment, he said.
I mis-stated my attitude in saying that, retorted the
Lieutenant-Governor coolly. I should have said, what, after all, is
self-evident, that I had no intention of trying to influence Mr.
Rathbawne in favor of the Union, at least so long as it is acting under
your dictation. Its present character is well knownalmost as well
known as yours, in factand I believe its position in this matter to
be entirely untenable, unjustifiable, and iniquitous. I may add that if
it is, indeed, Governor Abbott's resolve that I am to deal, in his
stead, with the question of your proposed strike, you may confidently
rely upon having to put the entire state force of Alleghenia out of
business before you can even so much as begin to bully Peter Rathbawne
If that's your opinion of the Union, said McGrath sullenly, it
might be interesting to hear your opinion of me.
You are perfectly welcome to it, replied the Lieutenant-Governor
easily. I consider you an unmitigated blackguard!
Governor Abbott tipped back his chair and looked at McGrath.
That's pretty plain talk, he said. You see how it is, Mr.
McGrath. You'll have to go ahead on your own responsibility, and you
mustn't be surprised if the State steps in at the first evidence of
McGrath rose, flecked some specks of dust from his waistcoat, and
walked toward the door without a word. On the threshold he turned,
looked from the Governor to the Lieutenant-Governor, and back again,
and laughed. Then he went out, closing the door softly behind him.
At the Rathbawne Mills it was usual for a huge whistle to give one
long blast at noon as a signal for the lunch hour. On that day,
however, following McGrath's instructions, the single blast was
replaced by five short ones in rapid succession, and three minutes
later the employees were pouring through half a dozen gates into the
streets surrounding the mills, in laughing, chattering, excited
A majority of the men went directly to a hall in the neighborhood
where McGrath had called a mass-meeting for half-past twelve. A
minority of them crowded into the saloons of the vicinity, where they
pounded on the bars, and filled the close, smoke-grayed air with heated
discussion. Several of the discharged hands were in evidence, each
surrounded by an attentive group, and expounding more or less
inflammatory views. The women gathered in gossiping throngs on the
sidewalks, laughing, and pulling each other about by the arms. The boys
played ball and leap-frog in the streets, shouting, and whistling
through their fingers. In brief, the great strike was on, but, for the
time being, it was masquerading in the guise of a public holiday.
At one o'clock the whistle blew again, and a thousand voices whooped
a derisive accompaniment, but no one of the throng in the streets made
a move toward the mills. Half an hour later, watchmen swung to and
bolted the gates, and, issuing presently from a small side entrance, in
company, were received with cheers, handshakes, and slaps upon the
back. Then the crowd gradually thinned,many going to the already
well-filled hall where McGrath was delivering an address, and others to
their homes,and a silence descended upon the neighborhood, broken
only by the voices of the men about the saloon doorways.
At two, Peter Rathbawne, attended by his private secretary, came out
of the side entrance and walked slowly away in the direction of his
home. He held his head high, and his eyes straight to the front, and
paid no attention to the respectful greetings of those of the strikers
who saluted him, touching their hats. There were many among them whose
hearts sank at this attitude in a man who had made it his boast that he
knew every hand in his mills by sight, and who, in the past, had had a
nod or a friendly word for each and all of them. For the first time a
premonition settled upon them of what this strike, which had been
welcomed principally for novelty's sake, might mean. It was the first
the Rathbawne Mills had ever known. Some of those who saw the face of
Peter Rathbawne that afternoon were already hoping that it might be the
The Lieutenant-Governor returned to his apartment for lunch.
Cavendish was still sleeping as he had left him, with a stalwart negro
porter, summoned from the Capitol by telephone early that morning,
watching in a chair. Under Barclay's orders, a carpenter had already
removed the splintered door of the wine-closet, and an upholsterer had
replaced it by a slender brass rod from which swung a velvet curtain.
With his own hands the Lieutenant-Governor had taken away the fallen
bottle, mopped up the pool of absinthe, and put the room to rights. Now
he dismissed the negro, took from his pocket a little box of strychnine
tablets, obtained from his physician on his way from the Capitol, and,
after a brief survey of his surroundings to see that all was in order,
went over to the divan and shook the sleeping man by the shoulders.
Come, lazy-bones! he said, with a laugh. You've slept over twelve
hours. That will doeven for a nervous wreck.
Cavendish opened his swollen eyes slowly, looked at him, and then
closed them again with a murmured Oh, God! which was like a groan.
To this the Lieutenant-Governor paid no heed. Passing into the
bathroom, he turned on the cold water in the tub, poured a half glass
of vichy from a syphon, and then returned, carrying the tumbler in his
hand. Cavendish had raised himself on one elbow, and was looking
stupidly about the room.
Here you are, said Barclay cheerfully. Stow this pill, and here's
vichy to wash it down. Your bath's running. By the time you've had it,
there'll be some clothes ready for you.
Cavendish gulped down the tablet, and sat upright.
Last nighthe faltered.
For the first time in his life, the Lieutenant-Governor called him
by his first name.
Last night, Spencer, he said, looking him fairly in the eye,
belongs to the past, and is taboo. I won't hear a word about it. This
is to-day. Get up, and we'll set about putting wrong right. You're a
man again. Don't forget that. And I'm your friend. Don't forget that,
His hand rested for an instant on the other's shoulder with a firm
pressure, and then he passed into his bedroom and shut the door.
They had lunch together in the dining-room of the Rockingham, and
then went up again to Barclay's rooms. At the door, Cavendish came to a
I can't stand this, he said.
You'll have to, replied the Lieutenant-Governor, so shut up!
You've made a change, said Cavendish obstinately, pointing to the
Barclay's eyes did not follow the gesture.
So have you! he answered. Now, look here. There are twenty
dollars in the waistcoat of that suit, and a letter to Payson of the
'Kenton City Sentinel.' Go down and see him this afternoon, and I think
he'll give you a job at reporting, which will fix you up for the
present. In another pocket you'll find a box, with three tablets like
the one you had before lunch. Take one of them every two hours. In
still another pocket there's a key to these rooms. I'm going to be busy
till about ten o'clock, so you'll have to shift for yourself. Make
yourself at home, and if you're awake I'll see you when I come in.
Taking him suddenly by the shoulders, he twisted him about, facing
the chimney piece, on which stood a photograph of Natalie Rathbawne,
smiling out of a silver frame.
I'll leave you to talk it out with her, he added simply.
In the hall, as he passed out, he caught a reflection of Cavendish
in a mirror. His hands were resting on the mantel-edge, and he was
leaning forward with his haggard face close to the photograph. Barclay
looked at his watch.
Two o'clock, he said to himself, and all's well!
VII. THE MIRAGE OF POWER
Barclay was conscious of a feeling of exhilaration such as he had
not known for many weeks, as he swung into Bradbury Avenue late that
afternoon on his way to the Rathbawne residence. The duties of the day
had been inordinately petty and vexatious, but he had dispatched them
one and all with something approaching enthusiasm,a touch of the old
Quixotic energy with which he had taken office. The morning
conversation in Governor Abbott's room had braced and toned him. He
forgot its inauspicious opening, and even his distress at the attempt
to force him into the position of mediator between Peter Rathbawne and
the Union, in the solid satisfaction of having been able to speak his
mind to McGrath, and call that worthy a blackguard to his face. He was
a man who despised a quarrel, but, for its own sake, loved a square,
Back, however, of this somewhat inadequate excuse for cheerfulness
lay the Governor's assurance that in the matter of the strike his
lieutenant was to have free rein. It was the first time since the
beginning of their official association that Elijah Abbott had placed
an actual responsibility in Barclay's hands. A corner-stone laying, a
banquet here and there, the opening of a trolley line, or a library, or
a sewer,these were the major calls upon the Lieutenant-Governor's
time. The main current of routine was a hopeless monotony of official
correspondence, investigations, statistics, reading and reporting on
the interminable and flatulent maunderings of the Legislature,duties
heart-breaking in their desperate tedium and maddening inutility.
But at last here was responsibility, actual and deeply significant,
calling for the exercise of tact, courage, and immutable firmness. The
particular task was not one which he would have coveted, and yet he
welcomed it. Anything,anything to assuage in him that sense of
ineptitude, of being ignored, a titled nonentity!
With this vast lightening of spirit came, not only gratitude, but a
sense of lenity toward Governor Abbott. He encouraged himself to
believe that the note between them had been one of misunderstanding
merely. It might not be too late, after all! Gradually, he began to
form a mental picture of a growing sympathy and affiliation between
them, large with possibilities of improvement for Alleghenia. As he
turned into the Rathbawnes' gateway, he could have laughed aloud for
very lightness of heart. His optimism was not even impaired by running,
in the hall, full against Mrs. Rathbawne.
Good gracious! Lieutenant-Governor, is that you?
Repeated and earnest endeavor on Barclay's part had never dissuaded
her from this form of address.
What is the use of having such a title, if one can't
call you by it? she would say, when he remonstrated. Do you
suppose that, if Natalie were engaged to a prince, I should be
going around, calling him Tom, Dick, or Harry, instead of 'Your Royal
Highness'? You ought to be proud of your title. I
But, Mrs. Rathbawne
Now, please not, Lieutenant-Governor, please not! I
like it best that way.
The north wind was attentive and amenable to the voice of
persuasion, in comparison with Josephine Rathbawne.
Of course you know the strike is on! she continued
now, without waiting for an assurance from Barclay that he was indeed
none other than himself. Isn't it awful? I expect to hear the
roar of the mob at any moment! Come into the drawing-room.
Natalie was there, only half an hour ago.
And she swept through the doorway, Barclay following.
Natalie, she began, here's the Lieuwhy, Dorothy! I took
you for Natalie. Anderoh! Why, Mr.erhow de do? I didn't see you
at first. Oh, do turn on the switch, my dear. The place is as
black as pitch.
The electric light, flooding the room, revealed young Nisbet, one
vast, consuming blush, and Dorothy, with a dangerous light in her eyes,
and her lips tightly compressed. It was plain that Mrs. Rathbawne had
fallen foul of Dan Cupid's machinery once more!
Why, Mr. Nisbet! I thought you were in New York.
I had a telegram this morning, calling the date off, said young
Nisbet in pitiable confusion; that is, I didn't have to go, you know.
So I just fell in here to explain. I thought some of you might spot me
on the street, and after I'd said
He began to flounder hopelessly, and cast a glance of mute appeal at
Dorothy. That facile young lady marched directly into the breach.
If you and John are looking for Natalie, she said, you'll find
her in the library with Dad. How do you do, John?
Pretty well, I thank you, Flibbertigibbet. It is really your
husband whom I came to see, Mrs. Rathbawne. I've a little business with
him, so, for the moment, I'll have to give Natalie the cold shoulder.
Oh! said Mrs. Rathbawne, lifting her fat hands. Of course,
Lieutenant-Governor! I understand perfectly. Business before
pleasure, always. Go right in, won't you, and send Natalie here
to me. I'll stay here. Aren't we going to have tea, Dorothy? Oh,
do try to sit up straight, my dear!
Natalie and her father were bending low over a great portfolio,
their heads close together in the yellow glow of the table-lamp, which
was the only light in the room. Rathbawne looked up with a grim smile,
as the Lieutenant-Governor entered.
Pottering over my autographs, again, you see, he remarked. I've
been neglecting them shamefully, of lateeh, Natalie? Didn't have the
time. It looks just now as if I wouldn't have to complain again of lack
of leisure for quite a while!
It was that I dropped in to see you about, said Barclay, striving,
with only partial success, to keep the exultation out of his voice.
You may not be in for so much leisure as you imagine, Mr. Rathbawne.
You may not get much of a holiday, after all.
Without for an instant losing the Lieutenant-Governor's eye,
Rathbawne reached out and touched his daughter on the arm.
Oh, Dad! she said reproachfully.
There's no need for her to go, sir, added Barclay, unless you
wish it. I bring only good news.
Acquiescing, Rathbawne drew Natalie close to him, passing one arm
across her shoulders, so that his gnarled hand rested firmly on the
delicate fabric of her sleeve. Between these two there had always lain
a sympathy, an affection, a mutuality of comprehension, more like the
relation of husband and wife than that of child and parent.
Nothing but good news? answered Rathbawne. Go on. What is it?
News not so much of actual happenings as of potentialities, said
the Lieutenant-Governor. Last night I had to say to you that in the
cause of right I was as powerless to aid you as a baby. To-night, I
have come to tell you that I am in a position to see justice done, and
that I will.
In detail, his voice ringing with enthusiasm and confidence, he
described the interview of that morning, his statement of Rathbawne's
position, his passage at arms with McGrath, finally, the Governor's
announcement that the strike was to be supervised by his lieutenant in
I had almost lost hope, he concluded. I thought my opportunity
would never come, and here it is, after allthe chance to act! And,
somehow, I feel that it is only the beginningthat, as he gets to
understand me better
Rathbawne suddenly left his daughter's side, and in three steps was
directly before the Lieutenant-Governor. As he interrupted him, his
fingers closed upon the lapels of the other's coat, and he punctuated
his words with little tugs at these, his knuckles coming together with
tiny muffled thuds. He spoke with a gravity that was vibrant with
suppressed anger and slow with sincere regret.
My boy, he said, it's not a gracious thing to do to spoil an
enthusiasm like yours, but don't deceive yourself. Elijah Abbott as a
trickster is alone in his class. You were never more powerless to act
for the right than you are at this moment.
But I have his assurance
Oh, his assurance! It isn't worth the ash off your cigar.
What, give you a chance to interfere with the will of the Union which
made him, and owns him, body and soul? Never in God's world! Listen to
me. I spent an hour in his office this very afternoon, discussing the
strikeand he never so much as mentioned your name!
The Lieutenant-Governor winced as if the words had been the touch of
a lancet. Then he closed his eyes.
And I was in the next room, he said, almost as if to
himself,planningmycontrolof the situation! Good God!
I went directly to him, continued Rathbawne, because I knew that
it would be purely and simply a waste of time to parley with the lesser
officials who are either helpless or frankly his tools. I knew, too,
that no satisfactory result would come of appealing to him, but I
wanted to give him the chance. All I asked of him was an assurance that
the mills would have proper police protection, and that, if necessary,
the militia would be called out in support of order. The outcome was
exactly what I expected. Governor Abbott rubbed his hands, and smiled,
and said: 'All in good time, Mr. Rathbawne, all in good time. When the
conditions seem to warrant it, we can discuss these measures.' That
means that they are free to blow the mills to kingdom come, before a
finger will be raised by the authorities to prevent them. And what's
more, they'll do it! Do you think I don't know McGrath?
As he had intended it should, this speech had given the other a
chance to recover himself. The Lieutenant-Governor's habitual poise was
already restored, and his voice, as he answered, was quite steady, but
eloquent of his desperate discouragement and weariness.
I hope it's not as bad as all that, Mr. Rathbawne. It's not
necessary to tell you, that for me there can never again be such a
thing as trusting the word of Governor Abbott; but, at the same time, I
can hardly bring myself to believe that he would openly countenance the
practical existence of anarchy in the capital city of Alleghenia.
Well, I can, then! declared Rathbawne. I can believe anything of
him! Mark my words, John, he's as sleek a scoundrel as you'll find
outside of the State's Prison. He cares less for Alleghenia and her
capital city than you do for one of the hairs on his rascally head. I
tell you, the Union has bought him, body and soul, and unless a miracle
comes down from heaven, I'm a beaten man!
Barclay bit his lips without replying. In his heart of hearts, he
knew that Peter Rathbawne's words were true.
He'll be impeached, sooner or later, continued the old man, if
there's a speck of decency left in the Legislaturewhich I doubt. But
long before that, John, long before that, I'll be down and out. I would
to God you were Governor of Alleghenia, my boy. You're the only ray of
hope I can see for her.
The Lieutenant-Governor fell back a step, and covered his face with
his hands. For a full minute there was absolute silence. Rathbawne had
returned to the table, and, with his fore-arms across the back of a
chair, and one foot on the lower cross-bar, was staring vacantly at his
autographs, his hands moulding and remoulding each other into an
infinity of forms. Natalie was at the window, her face in the crevice
between the curtains. The same impulse had prompted both father and
daughter. There are some things which it is better not to watch.
They turned at the sound of his voice, to find him with his head
flung back, his hands clenched at his sides, his right foot planted
firmly in advance of his left, his whole bearing one of passionate
earnestness. And, though he was seemingly addressing Rathbawne, there
was that in his voice and in his words which was meant for every ear in
Governor of Alleghenia! he said, I would to God I were! Sometimes
I almostyes, sometimes I wholly despair. I love this state, Mr.
Rathbawne, as I love nothing else on earthnot even my girl there, not
even Natalie. You two are the only ones in the world who can understand
what it means when I say that. It has always been so, ever since I was
big enough to know what Alleghenia meant, and more than ever since I
have come to understand her shame, and her vital peril, and her dire
need. I've never tried to explain the feeling; I've never found any one
who seemed to share it with me. I hear other men talk of national
patriotism, and the flag, and all that, and I understand it, and honor
them for it. Butwhile it may be only a fancy of minefor me Kenton
City comes even before Washington, and even before these United States
of America the sovereign state of Alleghenia! I would have her courts
incorruptibility itself, her government the perfect commingling of
equity and mercy; her press the vehicle of verity, intelligence, and
watchfulness; her public servants the faithful exponents of loyalty and
diligence; her people, one and all, whatever is best in our
interpretation of the word Americanand then, something
more!Alleghenians!citizens, not only of the Republic, but of the
state which I would have shine brightest in the field of stars, and be
quoted, from Maine to California, and from Florida to Washington, as
the synonym for law and order, truth, integrity, and justice. You know
how far the dream is from the reality. We are held up to ridicule and
contempt as law-breakers, time-servers, and bribe-takersand we
deserve it! I can't see help on any hand. I don't believe our people,
as a class, are actually vicious and corruptonly callous and
indifferent, accustomed so long to the spectacle of political chicanery
and depravity that they have lost their ability to appreciate its
significance. But, so far as results are concerned, it all amounts to
the same thing. Once, I hoped I should be able to do something. But
nowI'm a nonentity, Mr. Rathbawne, as you know, and not only that,
but a man who has taken a false step, from which he can never recover.
I'm dead, politically speakingas dead as Benjamin Butler!
He paused, drawing a deep breath.
We were speaking of your interview, he added, more evenly. What
was the result?
Nothing, beyond what I've told you, answered Rathbawne, shaking
his head. All I can do is to keep my mouth shut, await developments,
and trust in a Providence which it takes a good bit of obstinacy to
believe hasn't deserted the state of Alleghenia for good and all. It
isn't for my own sake alone, John, that I pray the Union will give in
before my people begin to think of violence. You remember '94 in
Chicago? Well, we don't want anything like that in Kenton City. It
would be the last straw! Alleghenia has a big enough burden of disgrace
to carry, as it is.
A servant entered, even as he was speaking, to summon him to the
telephone, and with an exclamation of impatience he left the room.
Immediately, Natalie stepped from her post at the window, and came
toward Barclay with outstretched hands.
Oh, Johnny boy, she said, I'm so sorry. How you've been
hurt, dear, and disappointed, and cruelly wronged!
The Lieutenant-Governor's hands clenched again at the sound of
sorrow in her voice, and he strove in vain to control the tremor of his
lip. Tenderly he put his arms about her.
I'm sorry, too, little girlsorry you were here to see me make a
fool of myself and then squeal when I got hurt as I deserved. I
shouldn't have done that. But I was so proudso gratefulI thought I
was going to be able
They held to each other rigidly for an instant, her face against his
sleeve, in an agony which no tears came to soothe.
There! said Barclay presently. I'm better already. It does one
good to blow off steam, now and again.
His tone lightened perceptibly.
And look here, he added, what's most important, after all, is
that I have news for you, and ought to be delivering it.
As yet, they did not dare to meet each other's eyes, but Natalie
took the cue.
You can spare yourself the trouble, my lord, she retorted,
sweeping him a curtsy. I can guess what it is, without your aid.
You've found him!
How did you know?
I didn't. But you will remember that I asked you to find him. The
inference is as plain as a pikestaff.
Arrogance! But you're right. I have. He has been at my rooms since
last night. He was frightfully shaky, and utterly despondent, but he's
taking something to settle his nerves, and I've no doubt a week or so
of good food and straight living will bring him around into something
like his old form.
Boy dear! And you're taking care of him?
Oh, just directing the cure, that's all! I'll tell you more when I
can report definite progress. Do you suppose there is a single secluded
corner in all this mansion which has not already been preëmpted by
Dorothy and Nisbet?
He slipped his arm about her again, and together they went out,
across the wide hall, toward the drawing-room. Rathbawne was standing
at the telephone under the stairway, but, as they approached him, he
replaced the receiver, and stepped forth under the light of the
chandelier. They both halted, shocked into speechlessness by the look
on his face. The past ten minutes seemed to have added a decade to his
age. His cheeks were white and drawn, and with his hands he groped
before him, as if he had been stricken blind. As he came close to them,
he lifted his head, and peered first at his daughter, and then at
Barclay, seeming barely to recognize them.
Dad! What is it? said the girl, in a voice just above a
Rathbawne raised his hand, and pushed back the hair from his
A messagefrom Paysonof the 'Sentinel,' he mumbled. It seems
there's a firea fire on Charles Streetnear the millsone of my
buildingsa shopa shop. Some one in the crowdthrew a torch in at
the windowthere is a great crowda throng of
strikerswatchingcheering the flameshissing the firemen. They've
begun earlyand this is only the beginning! My peoplemy people
He stumbled forward, and would have fallen, but that his daughter
caught him. To his dying day Barclay remembered how, as he sprang to
aid her, her hands gleamed, white and slender, against the black of
Peter Rathbawne's coat.
The hush that followed was broken presently by the sound of the old
man's choking sobs, and the low, soothing tones of Natalie, murmuring
against his ear. From the drawing-room came indeterminate scraps of
Mrs. Wynyard's gay chatter, as she regaled Mrs. Rathbawne with the
gossip gleaned in a round of calls. She herself was partly visible,
drawing off her gloves before the fire. From the music-room beyond
issued the chords of Dorothy's none-too-sure accompaniment, and young
Nisbet's superb, full tenor:
'Ah, love, could you and I with fate conspire
To grasp the sorry scheme of things entire'
But, in the Lieutenant-Governor's imagination, another sound mingled
with and dominated these,the voice of Michael McGrath, as he had
heard it that morning, through the open door of Governor Abbott's
It won't be a strike like other strikes, not so long as I'm running
it, that is. It's going to mean business from the word go!
VIII. THE GOVERNOR UNMASKS
One spotted peach will contaminate an entire basket, one drop of ink
cloud a full glass of clear water. It was so in the case of the
strikers at the Rathbawne Mills. Their unwonted idleness, the long
succession of empty hours, already, among the more improvident, the
preliminary pressure of privation's teeth,all these made them easy
prey for the sophistries of men like McGrath and his associates. At
first they simply laughed at the arraignments of Peter Rathbawne as a
plutocrat, a slave-master, and an oppressor of the poor, knowing better
in their hearts. But the memory of past kindness is too apt to be the
most fleeting of human impressions. On the one side the gates of the
Rathbawne Mills remained obstinately closed, and, though Rathbawne
himself manifested no intention of resorting to the intolerable
importation of scab labor, he persisted in his refusal to treat with
the Union so long as the discharge of the fifteen men remained a
subject proposed for debate. On the other hand, the denunciations of
McGrath and the other Union orators were constant, unavoidable, and
sufficiently plausible to produce an impression, and linger in the
mind. And, meanwhile, to and fro among the strikers, stalked, arm in
arm, the spectres of idleness and starvation, the one smirking openly,
the other, as yet, half-veiled. Altogether it was fertile ground.
After the burning of Mr. Rathbawne's shop, on the first night of the
strike, ensued a week of comparative quiet. The outrage had been
flagrant, the source, if not the very author, of it was known, and the
police didnothing. For three days the press of Kenton City blazed
with indignation, excepting only the Record, which openly favored the
strikers, and then all the papers alike suddenly ceased to refer to the
incident at all. For, while McGrath was not in favor of wasting the
funds of the Union, he was as well aware as the next man that a dollar,
as well as a stitch, in time, saves nine.
Herein lay the cardinal peril of Alleghenia. As John Barclay had
said, it was not that her people, as a class, were corrupt or criminal,
but merely that they viewed with easy tolerance evidences of laxity and
lawlessness which would have set the citizens of another state by the
ears, and filled the newspaper columns and the public forums with
indignation and protest. In this respect, the papers of Kenton City
were the most flagrant offenders. Even the most reputable, the
Sentinel, could be silenced at practically any moment by those
cognizant of the method, and in a position to command the price, of
manipulation. As a whited sepulchre it was a conspicuous success, being
irreproachably scholarly, dignified, and didactic in tone, and wholly
destitute of principle.
Michael McGrath, demagogue though he was, knew his public as the
physician knows the pulse he feels. It was a feature of the strike at
the Rathbawne Mills that no attempt was made to justify the cause of
the strikers in the eye of the disinterested public of Kenton City.
McGrath himself was fully alive to the slenderness of his pretext, and
alive, as well, to the strength of Peter Rathbawne's case, if it should
come to a discussion of the rights and wrongs involved, wherein his
business probity and his justice to, and consideration for, his
employees, would furnish arguments well-nigh unanswerable. He contented
himself, therefore, with standing upon a simple declaration of the will
of the Union, which was, in effect, his own; and, strong in his
reliance, if not upon the support, at least upon the non-interference
of the state authorities, devoted his attention to holding the press in
check, by methods long since found effectual, and confidently left the
public to think and act as it saw fit.
There could have been no more contemptuous comment upon the moral
and intellectual status of the community than this insolent assumption
of its indifference to the commonest principles of justice, but for a
time his confidence had the appearance of being amply justified. The
strike went its way, characterized by an infinity of petty outrages and
a constant and consistent vilification of Peter Rathbawne, whilewith
the exception of that first and promptly quashed protest on the part of
the pressno voice was raised in opposition.
Reduced to its lowest terms, the struggle was one between Rathbawne
and McGrath, and that, not as representatives the one of a great
industrial, the other of a great socialistic organization, but as
individuals. The source of the stream which had thus reached its
rapids, and was plunging on toward its annihilating cataract, lay far
back in the early days of Rathbawne's commercial career. McGrath was a
man who practiced neither the vice of forgetfulness nor the virtue of
forgiveness. As plain as the event of a yesterday lay upon his memory
his contemptuous dismissal from Rathbawne's employ, charged in
particular with a petty peculation, and in general with the
indisputable fact of being a bad influence in the mills. His case had
been in many ways identical with that of the men whose cause he was
now, for reasons of his own, espousing.
But Peter Rathbawne, then less shrewd in estimating men than now,
had reckoned without due credit to the vindictiveness and pertinacity
of the man before him. McGrathbrutally handsome in those days, idle,
insolent, and independentlater had developed qualities of which at
the time there was little evidence. He had smiled and shrugged his
shouldersa habit which had grown upon himas Rathbawne gave his
verdict, and had instinctively resisted the temptation to threaten
revenge. For that inspiration he had been devoutly grateful ever since.
It had enabled him to work in silence and unseen, like a mole, toward
the goal at which he aimed. He was a poker player, was Michael McGrath,
of the class which pulls victory out of defeat by the aid of its own
personality and a low pair. The calm indifference with which he had
received his dismissal from the employ of Peter Rathbawne seemed to
him, on reflection, to have been the unconscious forerunner of the
elaborate nonchalance with which he now viewed the unexpected
filling of a broken straight. It was certain that the other player had
not guessed the strength of his cards.
He had never forgiven, never forgotten. It had taken a
quarter-century of unremitting effort, of indomitable perseverance, of
calculated ingenuity, to secure to him the position which he now felt
to be assuredthat of being able to cope with the man who had been his
adversary, and so overwhelmingly his superior. The fight was on at
last,a fight in which the odds were not only equal, but, if anything,
in favor of the former mill-hand, thus become one of the most powerful
men in Alleghenia; a fight to be fought to the bitter finish, with an
almost certain triumph as his reward.
Added to these motives was another,newer, it is true, but none the
less potent,his hatred for the Lieutenant-Governor. He had been able
to laugh within a half-minute after the words unmitigated blackguard
had smitten his ears; but they had rankled for all that. It was not so
much the insult, as the knowledge that it was justified. He was
remarkably candid with himself, was Michael McGrath.
Hence the unparalleled venom of the strike at the Rathbawne Mills.
McGrath's dual sense of wounded vanity prescribed a course of
surpassing vindictiveness. His personal resentment, reinforced by
consummate appreciation of the adversaries with whom he had to deal,
dictated a safe road to revenge, which enabled him to fling wide the
floodgates of his long-stored animosity, secure in his knowledge of
having the upper hand. Disorder, calumny, outrage, even open
anarchyhe could venture upon them unafraid. A corrupt Governor, whom
he had created, stood behind him, smiling tolerantly. An indifferent
community would let him have his will. Only he must proceed by degrees,
and be ready at any moment to take one backward step for the sake of
being able presently thereafter to take two in advance.
Here precisely lay the weak point in his plan of campaign. With the
fatuity incidental on occasions to even the shrewdest minds, he had not
counted upon independence in the host which he believed slave to him,
in thought and word and deed. He rated himself the dictator, the
prompter without whose suggestion no one of all the players in this
gigantic tragedy could speak his line. As a matter of fact, like all
leaders of his class, he could drive his followers forward at will,
while totally unable to hold them back. He was wholly master so long as
he used the spur. The peril lay in the fancied efficacy of the curb. In
short, he was discovering already that he had unwittingly created a
monster beside which Frankenstein's was the veriest doll.
Thus, shortly, the strain began to tell upon the four thousand
unemployed sets of nerves around the Rathbawne Mills. Meetings became
more frequent and more turbulent; drinking and disorder were observably
on the increase; and at the end of another four weeks one of the gates
of the mills was beaten down, and several hundred men and boys paraded
around shop after shop, breaking windows and singing ribald songs. It
was not a very serious demonstration in itself. Its ominous feature lay
in the fact that the police made no attempt to check it. There was
something else about it, to the thinking of McGrath. It was not so much
that events were moving too fast, but that they were moving without
Two nights later, another building belonging to Peter Rathbawne, and
situated only a half-block from the mills, was burned in the same
manner as the first, watched by an enormous crowd of strikers, who
applauded each fresh burst of flame, as if the fire had been a circus
or a play. Still there was no move on the part of the police.
Then it was that the business men of Kenton City sat up in their
office chairs and began to think. This was an eventuality entirely
outside the calculations of McGrath. But the pachydermatous inertia of
the citizens of Alleghenia had yet its vulnerable spot, where the
weapon might enter. Vaguely these men had known that the state was
rotten, but the fact had never been brought to their attention in a
manner so poignantly suggestive before. Unwittingly McGrath had aroused
the suspicion that it was not the purse of Peter Rathbawne alone which
was in danger. If it was possible for disorder to go to such extremes
in the very streets of Kenton City without fear of interference or
rebuke, then no man's property was safe. That thought was the Achilles'
heel of the community. So it was that a Citizens' Committee, composed
of presidents of two insurance companies, directors from five banks,
representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Trade,
and, finally, Colonel Amos Broadcastle, was appointed to wait upon the
Mayor. That gentleman, as was entirely to be expected, referred them to
the Governor, and to the Governor they went.
Barclay was present at the interview. For his own reasons Governor
Abbott had kept his immediate subordinate well to the fore in all
matters pertaining to the strike since the latter's rebuke to
McGrath,in all matters, that is to say, not involving the exercise of
actual authority. Of that, indeed, the Lieutenant-Governor had had no
hope after the conversation in Peter Rathbawne's library. He met the
representatives of the press, conducted the correspondence with
mill-owners and other negatively interested parties, and at the
Governor's request made what was palpably a farcical inspection of the
entire state militiato judge of their readiness for strike
service!a task which consumed a fortnight in constant travel, and
visits to armories all alike in insufficient equipment and utter
slovenliness. The Ninth Regiment alone remained, and this command was
to parade for inspection by the Governor himself that very evening. The
coincidence flashed through Barclay's mind as the Citizens' Committee
entered, with Broadcastle, in his capacity as spokesman, at its head.
The dignity and air of command habitual to the Colonel of the Ninth
were doubly apparent as he advanced toward the Governor's table. Both
Barclay and Abbott rose to receive him, but the latter reseated
himself, as soon as Broadcastle had introduced his fellow-members of
the Committee. He listened to what followed with an air of
thoughtfulness, tinged with a faint and exasperating suggestion of
amusement. At a neighboring table, his official stenographer took down
every word which fell.
Colonel Broadcastle was not accustomed to mince matters, when the
occasion demanded brevity and conciseness. Now, he stepped to within a
few feet of the Governor's table, and stood rigidly confronting him,
with his hands clasped before him on the head of his stick, in the
position of parade-rest.
Governor Abbott, he said, in his curt, dry voice, these gentlemen
and myself form a Committee appointed by a meeting of the business men
of Kenton City, to protest against the state of affairs now existing in
connection with the strike at the Rathbawne Mills. It is only generous
to presume that other matters have diverted your attention from an
appreciation of these conditions. The situation is without parallel in
the annals of Alleghenia. Disorder is rampant, and destruction of
property is freely indulged in by the strikers without any apparent
fear of molestation. Despite the fact that there is a large
police-force, it makes no effort to check these operations. The sole
reply of Chief Pendle to the protests of those interested in the
promotion of law and order has been that he will not suffer any outside
interference in the control of his departmentthe which, in view of
his responsibility to the public, can only be regarded as sheer and
intolerable insolence! An appeal to Mayor Goadby has elicited the
response that the whole matter lies in the Governor's hands.
The Colonel paused. The Governor, leaning back in his chair, and
fingering a pencil, smiled slightly and nodded his head.
I suppose that is so, he said. Continue, continue, Colonel
It is the sense of the law-abiding element of Kenton City, went on
the Colonel, flushing at the condescension of his tone, that the limit
of endurance has been reached. If, willfully or otherwise, the police
do not act, my regiment is prepared to act as substitute. I have
already placed it at the service of the Adjutant-General. His reply,
like the Mayor's, was to refer me to you for orders. I am here to
receive them, sir.
Your offer is appreciated, said the Governor suavely. We of
Kenton City have reason to be proud of the Ninth, Colonel Broadcastle.
I congratulate myself upon my privilege of reviewing it, to-night. And
we have reason to be proud, as well, of the intelligence which has made
such an organization possible. Your disinterested devotion
Broadcastle flung up his chin.
I am not here to receive compliments, sir! he said abruptly.
Nor I to bestow them, answered the Governor, unruffled. As
commander-in-chief of the state forces, I believe it is not outside my
province to render deserved commendation to a subordinate.
Oh, do not let us juggle with words, Governor Abbott! It is
precisely as commander-in-chief of the state forces that the time has
come for you to act; it is precisely as your subordinate that I am here
to receive your orders. Assume the responsibility which confronts you,
issue the commands proper to the emergency, and you will have no more
tireless executor of them than I. My regiment can be on duty at the
Rathbawne Mills inside of six hours
But, my good Colonel Broadcastle, broke in the Governor, the
state has no need of your regiment for the moment! Calling upon the
militia is no light matter, sir. You talk about my ordering out the
Ninth as you would advise me to ring for a messenger-boy!
The welfare of the municipality, if not that of the commonwealth,
replied Colonel Broadcastle firmly, demands that an immediate stop be
put to this lawlessness. We are dealing with extremities, sir!
The Governor swung forward, and placed his elbows on the table.
You will permit me to be the best judge of what the welfare of the
commonwealth may be, he retorted. Whatever lawlessness existsand I
think you have grossly exaggerated its extent, Colonel Broadcastleis
due to the selfish obstinacy of one man. In my opinion, Mr. Rathbawne
is entirely in the wrong. He had fair warning, which he did not choose
to heed. If his property suffers at the hands of the strikers, he has
only himself to blame.
It is not a question of Mr. Rathbawne, or of any other individual,
said Broadcastle, but of the integrity of the state of Alleghenia!
The integrity of the state of Alleghenia, answered the Governor
dryly, has been intrusted, by the vote of her citizens, to me, as
An action, exclaimed the Colonel, which I venture to predict they
will shortly have reason most bitterly to regret!
Governor Abbott rose abruptly to his feet.
This interview is at an end, Colonel Broadcastle, he said,
bringing his fist down upon the table with a thud. I take exception to
your remarks, from first to last. I consider myself fully competent to
deal with the situation, and you may depend, sir, I shall do so at my
own time, and in my own way. If Mr. Peter Rathbawne supposes that he
can defy reason and justice at will, and that the state authorities are
prepared to support him, he is grossly and fatally mistaken. Gentlemen,
I have the honor to bid you good-day!
For a quarter-minute, the two men stood facing each other, without
speaking. It was observable that the eyes of neither flinched. Then
It is my earnest hope, Elijah Abbott, said the Colonel slowly, to
see you impeached by a righteously indignant community, and committed
for a term of years to the State's Prison at Mowberly, for rank
malfeasance in office!
The Governor shrugged his shoulders.
Your record and your position protect you, Colonel Broadcastle, he
said, with something of his usual suavity. Will you have the goodness
As the Citizens' Committee left the room the Lieutenant-Governor
turned on his heel, passed into his office, and closed the door.
For a long time he sat motionless at his desk, with his temples in
his hands, staring at a frame upon the opposite wall, which contained
the emblazoned arms of Alleghenia. These were a hand holding even
balances, upon a circular shield, supported by the nude figures of two
young men, representing Art and Labor. Above, upon a scroll, were the
words, Justitia. Lex. Integritas.
It was not only bad heraldry, but indifferently appropriate
IX. THE NINTH PASSES IN REVIEW
The huge armory of the Ninth, transformed, by the same system which
had metamorphosed the personnel of the regiment itself, from a
gaunt, barn-like structure, ill-fitted to its purpose in all but size,
to the most cheerful, as well as the most completely equipped, of
Alleghenian arsenals, was blazing with light and echoing to the sound
of many voices. A steady stream of people poured in at the heavy doors,
now standing wide, but significant, with their great timbers, elaborate
locks and bolts, and precautionary peep-holes, of the possibility of an
attitude less hospitable. Threading their way at a rapid pace through
the more sluggish main current of the crowd, the members of the
regiment, in an infinite variety of civilian attire,from tweeds and
knickerbockers to top-hats and evening-dress,sought their respective
company-rooms, vanished therein, and, presently, reappeared in uniform.
It was as if behind those ten doors which lined the upper corridor
there were as many moulds, identical in form, where-into this
perplexing diversity of raw material was plunged on entering, to be
drawn forth again in a constant reduplication of militiamen.
As the hour for the review drew near, the proportion of these to the
throng with which they mingled, perceptibly increasing, seemed, little
by little, to leaven the whole lump. The dress-uniform of the Ninth was
everywhere, the black shakos and epaulettes, white pompons, cross-belts
and gloves, and multiplicity of brass buttons, lending the immense
assemblage a singular spirit and vivacity.
On the floor of the drill-room the people spread in all directions,
fan-like, from the main doorway, the multitudinous footfalls mounting
murmurously into the spaces of the lofty roof, where forty arc-lights
hung, dizzily suspended, pallid in the thin haze of dust swung upwards
from the hurrying feet of the thousands below.
Precisely like an army of antsand every one of them with an uncle
or two, and a round dozen of nephews and nieces! said Mrs. Wynyard.
She and the Rathbawne girls were looking down upon the drill-floor
from the balcony of the Colonel's room. Broadcastle and the
Lieutenant-Governor were deep in conversation inside, having seized the
delay in the arrival of Governor Abbott as an opportunity for a few
words in private.
How funny they are, scuttling along, all of them! said Dorothy.
And how immensely pleased the favored ones are, who have a soldier to
show them the way. I see a distinct difference in their walk from that
of the others, don't you, Natalie? They seem to be saying 'We
were invitedand by this splendiferous creature at our side!'
See how they strut! And look at the soldierless ones, how timidly they
gojust as if they had found their tickets in the street, or had crept
in through the basement windows. 'Please, kind Mr. Soldier-man, let us
stay and see the show. We'll be awf'ly good!'
How preposterous you are, Dorothy! answered Mrs. Wynyard. Look!
The people are taking to the sides of the room already, and the
companies are forming. What astonishing method and precision there is
to it all! Do you suppose each man has a little circle marked on the
floor, to show just where he is to stand?
I haven't the most remote doubt of it, said Natalie, with a
smile,and his name neatly lettered inside it with gilt paint!
The long, enclosed racks at the ends of the drill-room were open
now, and the electric light winked upon the barrels of the
Springfields, as busy, white-gloved hands plied the polishing cloths
along them. The enormous drill-floor, cleared as if by magic from the
disorderly weed-growth which had encumbered it, began to make manifest
its proper croplong lines of gray and white, like sprouting sage, at
first but a dot here and there, to indicate the direction, then a
scattering, then distinct clumps, finally a thick, serried row. In the
distance, a bugle sounded, followed by a long ruffle of drums, and
Colonel Broadcastle stepped quickly to the window of the balcony.
There's the Governor, he said. Will you come in? I'll send my
orderly to show you to your seats.
At the same moment, the door from the corridor opened, and the
orderly entered, his hand at his shako.
Sir, the Governor has arrived.
Then, as the trio on the balcony stepped in through the window, he
turned suddenly and superlatively scarlet. As has been said, young
Nisbet was accustomed to getting what he wanted. In this instance what
he had wanted happened to be that the Adjutant should choose him from
the guard detail as Colonel's orderly. To be thus chosen was to be
admittedly the most immaculate of thirty men, all more immaculate than
a thousand immaculate others. The thing was not easy of achievement,
but Dorothy Rathbawne was to be present at the review, and sothere
was no second way about itit simply had to be done. Young Nisbet's
way of doing it was an absolutely new uniform and gold-plated buttons
and accoutrements. Extravagance? Vanity? Perhaps! But at the present
moment, he was wearing one cross-belt where his thousand and odd
comrades were wearing two. There was no answer to such an argument as
Colonel Broadcastle had reserved seats for the party on the
temporary reviewing stand, and, five minutes after they had taken their
places, the bugles sang again, a curt order'shun! 'shun!ran in
varying intonations from company to company, and the slack gray ranks
before them stiffened into absolute rigidity. Then from the broad
hallway beyond came a tremendous burst of sound, and, to the strains of
the famous old march of the Ninth, the regimental band swung into view,
followed by Governor Abbott and Colonel Broadcastle and the former's
To the Lieutenant-Governor, but newly returned from his wearisome
round of the state armories, much of what followed was so stale as to
be no more than a constantly increasing strain upon nerves already
overtaxed. He deliberately allowed his attention to wander, until he
felt rather than actually perceived the steady tramp-tramp of the men,
swinging, fours right, into column, the occasional hep! hep! of an
officious file-closer, the endless succession of fours winking past
him, like the palings of a gray fence seen from the window of a train,
the intervals narrowed by short-step, widening again at the Forward
march! the blare of the band, lessening as it approached the
further end of the building, then suddenly bursting into its former
volume at the right-about. He endured it all listlessly. It was
tediously familiar, stamped upon his brain by repetition after
Moreover, he was completely fagged, and unutterably oppressed by his
burden of discouragement. The old wounds, in part healed by his recent
absence from the immediate vicinity of his constant discomfiture, had
been re-opened and set bleeding afresh by Governor Abbott's treatment
of the Citizens' Committee. Whatever lingering hope had remained in his
mind of peace with honor for the troubled capital of Alleghenia, seemed
to have been effectually dispelled by that interview. The most enduring
charity, the most fatuous credulity, the blindest partisanshipeven
these could not have preserved a last spark of confidence in Elijah
Abbott. Still less was Barclay's indeterminate hope of the ultimate
triumph of right able to stand against such crushing evidence of its
instability. It was no longer a question of suspicions, of precedents,
of deductions from the significance of a host of former misdoings. Out
of his own mouth was the Governor convicted. At my own time, and in my
own way, he had said. It was a phrase, nothing more, and could be
boiled down until its whole purport was contained in one wordNever!
Fours leftMarch! Compan_eehalt!
The entire regiment, as one man, swung from column of fours into
battalion front, halted, and thencr-r-rick! boooo-m-m-m!came to
order arms. The sides of the room were lined with a solid rampart of
white and gray and gold. Barclay was aware of the First Sergeants,
scurrying from their positions to report, of their voices, and those of
the Majors and the Adjutant, and, finally the Colonel:
Take your post, sir!
But his thoughts were anywhere and everywhere else. What a farce it
all was, this life which he was leading, this mental and moral
martyrdom to an impossible hope, this eternal and heart-sickening
ordeal of hope deferred, this waiting, waiting, waiting, for something
which never would and never could happen! Rotten, rotten to the core,
this state for which he would have given his heart's blood, and not
only rotten, but not caring a whit for her rottennessglorying rather,
in her own degradation. The chief executive had flung back into their
very faces the appeal to his conscience of the most influential men in
Kenton City; the police, even now seated about their station stoves,
were sniggling at the predicament of the public which paid them for its
protection against precisely the kind of thing which they openly
tolerated and encouraged; yes, and even the militia, the guarantee of
law and order, Broadcastle's own command, were decked out in tinsel and
pipeclay, strutting to music in a palpable bid for applause and
admiration. And yonderthe tide of anarchy was slowly but surely
rising about the Rathbawne Mills, presaging riot, bloodshed, God alone
knew what!but one thing, inevitably,the absolute downfall of
dignity and rout of decency in Alleghenia!
Suddenly, his old intrepid spirit of resolution reasserted itself,
but doubtfully, like the flame of a lamp flaring once out of dimness
before it dies forever. Was it for this that he had devoted the best
thought of his youth and his earlier manhood to plans for the
betterment of his state? Should he now, at this, the hour of her
supremest political and moral peril, desert her as irredeemable, and
join the ranks of those who sneered at her, and pointed mocking fingers
at her shame and nakedness?
Your loquacity faintly suggests that of a mummy, said Natalie, at
I was alone with my thoughts, answered the Lieutenant-Governor,
turning to her with an attempt at a smile, and pretty black ones they
were, at that!
Alleghenia againand always. This business is becoming an
obsession with me. I haven't had a chance to tell you, and I can't very
well explain now. I'll have to leave it till I see you to-morrow. But
something happened to-day which drove another nailand one of the
last!into the coffin of my faith. There's not a gleam of hope
Don't you see hope in all this? asked Natalie, with a little,
indicative gesture toward the scene before them. Somehow, it is
impressing me tremendously to-nightmore than ever before. I seem to
understand better what it means, what it stands for.
It's a stale enough story with me, said Barclay. Remember, I've
been doing just about nothing but watch this kind of thing for the past
two weeks. After all, what does it amount to but a thousand
possibilities parading like peacocks?
How unlike you, that speech! It amounts to a vast deal more than
that, Johnny boy,oh, infinitely more! I don't speak of the other
regiments you have seen. This is different. Well, what does it
amount to? Who and what are these thousand peacocks of yours? Aren't
they the very flower of Kenton City, the youngest and best blood in our
veins, gathered by one good man's will into an organization of sterling
loyalty, with one great aim in view, and that the support and
protection and preservation of all that is best in Alleghenia? The very
fact that such a body of men exists among us is in the nature of a
guarantee, it seems to me, that we shall come out all right in the end.
Have you noticed their faces?many of them so absurdly boyish, all of
them so honest, and manly, andandAmerican, John! They are
the personifications of your ideal of that afternoon in the
libraryAmericans, and something moreAlleghenians! And, to prove it,
they are freely giving a portion of their time and their strength, in
order that there may be at least one thing in Kenton City which is
without fear and without reproach. I wonderI wonder, John, whether it
isn't the old story, after all: whether you haven't been wandering all
over the world, like the prince in the fairy-book, looking for the
magic talisman that is to save the state you love, while, all the time,
it has been lying at your very door? Oh, this means somethingI'm too
stupid to interpret it as you couldbut I know it's there, and that it
would help you and encourage you. Let me try. Look there! A single
purpose animates them allthe maintenance of the standard which
Colonel Broadcastle set for them, and the record they have made for
Colonel Broadcastle's voice was sweeping the armory, as he put the
regiment through the manual of arms.
One has only to hear one of themMr. Nisbet, for examplesay 'the
Ninth' to find the hope of which you are in search. These men say it as
others say 'God' or 'my mother'as you yourself, Johnny boy, say
With a single click, a thousand rifles fell into position, a
thousand left feet smote the floor in unison, and the light rippled and
twinkled along a solid line of flashing steel.
There! A single voice,a single, mighty response! Don't you see
the wonderful suggestiveness of it? Don't you feel the presence of the
enormous reserve force which lies behind all this? Oh, believe me,
John, this is a weapon too mighty to lie unused, and too intelligent to
be misused, if the worst come to the worst. After all, as no one knows
better than yourself, it's not your own advancement you're looking for,
it's that of the state. Well, there may be other agencies, perhaps
entirely independent of you or of your influence, but none the less
invaluable. For example, you are close upon despairand yet, before
your fears come true, the forces of wrong will have to fight their way,
step by step, through this rampart of American manhood!
Barclay touched her hand lightly, as she ceased speaking. In the
midst of the thousands about them, they were alone as they had never
Thank you, he said simply. Thank you, littlest and wisest in the
The regiment was in motion again, skirting the room in column of
fours, preparatory to the march-past: but now the Lieutenant-Governor
surveyed it from a new, and a dual point-of-view,as a thousand
individuals, that is, each a potential factor for immeasurable good in
the coming rehabilitation of the state; and, then, as a vast
fighting-machine perfect in every detail, resistless and awe-inspiring
in its very integrity. He noted the faces as they passedstern,
intelligent faces, young, for the most part, and curiously refined,
intent upon correct performance of the present duty, and touched,
almost without exception, with an enthusiasm born of the martial music
and the rhythmic tramp of advancing feet. He saw the quick, reciprocal
glance of the pivot and flank men, as the fours, in perfect alignment,
swept round into company-front; the long, easy compression and give of
the compact lines, acquiring correct adjustment; the rigid tenure of
chests and shoulders; the firm fling of slender gray legs, as regularly
intervaled as the teeth of a giant comb. Company by company, the
regiment fell into the cadence of full-step. Midway, the standards of
the Republic and Alleghenia rippled side by side. And so, with blare of
brass and sharp staccato of snare-drums, with sheen of rifles and
accoutrements, with flash of slender swords, raised in salute,above
all and always, with that magnificent unanimity, that mighty pulse of
the thunderous advance, the Ninth swept past its Governor and its
Colonel in review.
And then, in an instant, as it seemed, the vast square was formed
again, a sharp command rang out, the rifles snapped to a present-arms,
the standards dipped, and the strains of the Star-Spangled Banner
mounted triumphantly to the great girders of the lofty roof. The
multitude of spectators rose at the sound, and the Lieutenant-Governor
rose with them, his heart aglow with new inspiration, new hope, and new
resolve. The band was almost speaking the words of the anthem on the
Oh! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?
To the accompaniment of a myriad clapping hands, the
Lieutenant-Governor resumed his seat, shaken by a novel, tremendous
emotion. Yes! a thousand times yes! The star-spangled banner, symbol of
loftiest ideals and purest purposes, mute memorial and reminder of
devotion incalculable and sacrifice without bound, guarantee of liberty
and brotherhood, mercy, equality, and justiceyet waved! And, part and
indissoluble portion of its inspiring memories and illustrious
destinies, the star of Alleghenia yet blazed upon its azure field! He
had been living in a world of unrealities, in a valley of shadow,
grayed by portents of failure and despair. His eyes had been narrowed
to see the pitfalls which lined his path, to the stumbling-blocks, the
briers, the indescribable sordidness of his personal position and his
immediate surroundings. Now, he looked up and horizonward. The
thunder-clouds of official depravity and duplicity which darkened the
way of his endeavorwere they able, after all, to blot out the memory
of the clear, high sky above?
As this thought came to him, it was almost as if, in actuality, a
brooding heaven had been rent asunder, revealing the steel-blue of the
infinite ether permeated with the supreme radiance of noon; and at the
incursion of this illuminating element the host of his discouragements
dwindled and disappeared, like noisome little prowlers of the night,
scuttling to cover at the abrupt break of a tropical day. For a moment,
he strove to realize whence the light had come, and in what consisted
this sovereign ally, hitherto uncalculated, of his optimism. As he
tracked his thought, it led him undeviatingly back to its direct
inspiration, the words of Natalie Rathbawne.
Before your fears come trueshe had said.
Before his fears came truewell, what? The revelation leaped at him
full and fair now, and every nerve sang like a taut wire in answer to
its touch. Before his fears came true, this wretched little world of
petty chicanery and official corruption which surrounded and sickened
him would be wiped out of existence. AbbottMcGraththeir
machinations and their misdeedstheir lies and their ambitionstheir
power and their pride,they were newts that fouled a pool, gnats in
the sunshine, cinders on the snow. Towering above them, ready, at an
instant's notice, to crush them out of being, was the rock of ages, the
righteous spirit of Alleghenia, integral and indestructible, illumined
by the ancient, undimmed, and eternal sense of rectitude inherent in
the American people!
Not by his agency, perhapsperhaps not even in his
day,nevertheless and infallibly, the right was bound to conquer in
the end. The clear eyes and the firm mouths of the men of the Ninth
spoke it, their rifles, their broad shoulders, and their precision
confirmed and guaranteed it, and back of these stood the great,
taciturn figure of the People, a smile upon its calm and silent lips.
When those lips should speak, as speak they would, their words would be
the annihilation of Elijah Abbott and of all his kind!
Meanwhilethe bitternessthe disappointmentsthe
humiliationsah, in a moment, how they had grown shrunken, and
wizened, and old! For out of the radiance of revelation, as Christ of
old spoke to His disciples, so now the spirit of Alleghenia spoke to
What is that to thee? Follow thou Me!
Like a woman, the spirit of her cried unto him, and, like a man, the
spirit of John Barclay answered.
X. A QUESTION AND AN ANSWER
Much to Barclay's satisfaction, Cavendish had obtained his
appointment as a city reporter on the staff of the Sentinel. Even the
first week of the new life thus entered upon had produced a vast change
in his manner and appearance. Though the Lieutenant-Governor had seen
him but once, when he came to repay the loan made himin itself, of
all signs of restoration to a normal attitude, the most significanthe
found that his complexion had cleared and softened, and his eye
perceptibly brightened. He was clean-shaven once more, and his dress,
while of strict simplicity, was yet suggestive of the old days when he
had been called the most fastidious man in Kenton City. He held himself
straighter, too, with his shoulders thrown back and his head up; and
Barclay had noted, with quiet gratification, that there was not a
tremor about the hands which unfolded and smoothed the bills he had
come to return. One evidence alone remained of the desperate ordeal
through which he had passed. His voice, formerly firm and vibrant with
a spirit that was half gayety, half arrogance, was now indescribably
modulated, and touched with a melancholy which was not that of
servility, still less of shame. Rather, it was an unspeakably appealing
regret, a monotonous listlessness, a suggestion of hopeless surrender
to something tragic and inevitable. Barclay was puzzled by it. It
seemed illogical, and evaded him, like a melody with a dimly familiar
motif which he was unable to place or even fully recall. It haunted
him singularly, when Cavendish had left, and afterwards, in his leisure
moments, came back to him, striving, as he fancied, to make itself
understood. Intimately candid as their recent relation had been, here
was something unexplained, which he could not come at, and which was
yet eloquent of vitality, of the need of comprehension.
Since that time, three weeks before, the two men had not met. For
this there were several reasons. Barclay knew from a brief note that
Cavendish had taken a small room in a boarding-house, not far from the
Rockingham, and that the pressure of his work for the Sentinel set
him afoot so early, and sent him home at night so brain and body weary,
that he had neither the strength nor the inclination for other things.
Added to this, had been the Lieutenant-Governor's absorption in his own
duties, and, in particular, his absence from Kenton City, on his round
of inspection of the state militia. But, just before the dinner hour,
on the evening following that of the review, Cavendish called, as
Barclay was in the act of dressing.
I had a suspicion I'd catch you just about this time, he said,
dragging a chair to the door of the bedroom, where he could watch the
Lieutenant-Governor struggling with a refractory white tie. I'm
getting on famously, and I wanted you to know it.
That's right! said Barclay, scowling into the mirror. But then, I
knew you would. Your pessimism didn't produce much effect on me. I've
heard men talk like that before. And, of course, when a chap gets into
the condition you were in, back there, there's no such thing as making
him believe he can ever pull out. You talked like an ass, that first
And acted like a blackguard! I suppose you will allow me to refer
to that now?
Now less than ever, my good sir. As I've told you already, all that
belongs to the past. You're yourself again. What's the use of dwelling
on a time gone by, when you were in reality somebody elseor, rather,
nobody at all? When are you going to call at the Rathbawnes'? The old
man is pretty ill, I'm afraid, but I think the rest would like to see
you again. They were speaking of you only the other daythat is, one
of them was!
Not till this strike trouble is over, at all events; they have all
they can attend to at present, without being bothered by reformed
drunkards. And perhaps I sha'n't call at all. I haven't decided yet
what would be best.
Then, before Barclay had time to speak, he added:
By the way, I'm to take up the strike to-morrow, for the
Are you? exclaimed the Lieutenant-Governor, in a tone of the
liveliest interest. That's good news. It must be about the most
important assignment they could give you, just now. Well, I wonder if
you are destined to be the only conscientious reporter in Kenton City,
or whether you will simply be like all the rest. Are you going to have
the courage of your convictionswhich I think I can surmise, though
you haven't as yet confided them to meor are you going to wear the
slave-chains of your fellows, and distort, and misrepresent, and
truckle and kow-tow to the policy of the most venal press in America?
On fait ce qu'on peut, said Cavendish, with a shrug.
Orders are orders, John. If the orders of the editor don't go, the
orders on the cashier don't come. That's about all there is to it. It
would be rather futile to attempt the Don Quixote act, if only for the
reason that one would never get into print. One can't do more than
follow instructions. The reporter's best policy is his paper's best
Honesty? repeated the Lieutenant-Governor. Where does the honesty
come in? Of course I understand your position. In a way, it is
identical with minesubservience to a principle that you despise,
acquiescence in methods that you know to be utterly false and wrong!
How sick I am of it all! It's the old experience, all over again, which
I used to have as a child with the Tom Smith paper crackers. You are
fascinated by the tinsel, and the colored paper, and the gaudy label.
You think that when you've dissected one, and pulled it all to pieces,
you'll find a bugle and a gold crown insidebecause that's what it
says on the box. But, the first thing you know, you'll find yourself
blowing on a tin whistle and wearing a fool's cap of green paper! Lord!
how the press of Kenton City needs a mana man with the courage
and the power to show up the scoundrels who are responsible for all
thisMcGrath and his associates, I mean. I'm sick and tired of
reporters whose rascality is self-evident, of editors who are bought
and sold like chattels, of a state of affairs, in general, so infamous
as to surpass expression! You have my sympathy, Spencerthe sympathy
of a fellow-victim. To be a reporter on a newspaper which dictates
dishonesty; to be the lieutenant of a Governor who enjoins
duplicityit's all just about one and the same thing!
It's curious, commented Cavendish, that it wasn't until about a
week afterafter that night, that I knew you were Lieutenant-Governor.
Then, your name happened to be mentioned in the office, and somebody
asked me if I knew you.
Whereupon, said Barclay, conquering the tie at last, and turning
from the mirror, you had the inexpressible privilege of saying that
you knew me intimately.
Whereupon, repeated Cavendish, in that so singular tone which had
lain heavy upon the other's memory, I had the inexpressible privilege
of saying that I used to know you, but that we had quarreled, and were
Why? demanded the Lieutenant-Governor, wheeling abruptly upon him.
What possessed you to say such a silly thing as that?
Cavendish leaned forward in his chair, with his elbows on his knees,
and his forehead against his interlaced fingers, staring at the floor.
I'm glad, in a way, to have you ask that question, he said slowly.
We are wary of mock heroics, or even real heroics, men like you and
me. And yet there are things which must be explained, things not easy
to explain, because they come so close at times to melodrama. I've
always had a horror of emotional situations; and, from what I know of
you, I'm sure you have, as well. I'd avoid this explanation, if I
couldindeed, I've deliberately avoided it, thus far. Yet if I were a
Romanist in the presence of my priest, I think I should feel more at
liberty to evade confession than I do now. For both our sakes, I'll try
to be as brief, as simple, as lucid, as I can. And I'll trust you to
understand, as well as may be. Don't think there's any pose, any aim at
effect, in what I'm going to say. You've asked me a question, and I'm
going to answer it, that's all! I don't think, in my present frame of
mind, I could bear to have you entertain the suspicion that the answer
was affected or lacking in candor. Allons! Already I'm growing
He looked up with a wan smile.
Let's get down to facts. You ask me why I told my questioner that
we no longer knew each other. Well, then, let's have at it! It was
because, John Barclay, there is likelyno, there is sureto come a
time when you won't care to acknowledge me as your friend. Oh, wait!
he added, as the Lieutenant-Governor held up his hand in protest. Hear
me out. You say I talked like an ass, that first night. Perhaps. But
the fact remains that I've been a drunkardand that I'm bound to be
one again! I've been fighting against temptation for several weeks. It
hasn't been very strong, for some reason, and so I've managed to ground
it so far. But you remember the chap with whom old Hercules wrestled?
Every time he touched earth his strength was multiplied. Well, that's
the way with drink. I can throw the temptation for a while, but every
time I do so it rises, stronger many-fold. Sooner or later, I'm forced
to give in. I know it, as I know I'm sitting here. I'm doing my best
now, because, in the future, when the wrong that for a time you've
righted goes wrong again, I want you to remember that I made the
effortfor youand for herfor the Fairy Princess. The end is as
plain as day! It was born in me, this. I think I've never told you that
my father died of it, but that's the truth. And the next time I drop,
it will be for good and all. I shall never make another effort to
conquer the inevitable. If I can't do it now, with the hope of
redemption thus made plain, with a new start, and a fresh chance,
andthanks to you, Johnthe past wiped off the slate and a new sum
set to solve, with the incentive of your friendship and confidence, and
the interest, so undeserved, of the Fairy Princess, into the
bargain,if I can't do it now, I say, why surely I can never do it.
John, you can't know what I've been through. You, who've never had the
temptation, can't conceive of what it means. It's a living actuality,
this lust for drink. When your nerves go wrong, even at the end of a
day, or a week, or a year, during which you've kept straight, when
you're tired, discouraged, and, above all, alone!then it comes
at you like a live thing,speaksgrips your armdrags you wherever
it wills! I've laughed at it, scoffed at it, in its absence, tried to
make myself believe it a fragment of an otherwise forgotten dream, many
and many and many a time. But it always came back! Oh, John
Barclay, you others will never understand! A man has to have been
through it, in order to know, and that not once, but, as I have, a
I can well believe it to be a tremendous temptation, said the
Temptation? It's more than that! A temptation gives you some
chance, doesn't it? You may yield to it, but, at least, you've had your
fighting-chance. Well, in that sense, this is no temptation, though
I've been using the word myself to describe it. Why, John, it's
madness, sheer insanity. You probably remember that I never used to
touch alcohol at all. I promised my poor mother to let it alone until I
reached my majority. Of course, I didn't realize about the dear old
man; he died when I was too young for that. But her one great fear, and
naturally, was that the curse had descended to mejust as it had!
Well, I stuck to my promise till I was twenty-one, and kept along in
the same way for some time afterwards, just because there didn't seem
to be any particularly good reason for taking up something which I had
managed to get along very well without, all my life. Then came that
time, you knowthree years agoand out of mere recklessness, bravado,
God knows what, I began to drink. John, I was a doomed man from the
first swallow! That demon had been hiding inside me, without sound or
movement or other hint of his presence, for twenty-eight yearsjust
waiting his chance! You know the rest. The fight has been going on ever
since, and the thing has beaten every time. I've resisted. I've
struggled. I've even prayed. It's all useless.
He pointed significantly to the curtain which hung where the door of
the wine-closet had been.
As I did that night, he continued, I shall do again, and still
again, until the end. It's insanity, nothing more or less. It lurks at
the back of my brainalwaysalwaysand then, suddenly, when I am
least expecting it, it comes forward with a rush, and I might as well
try to check the north wind or the incoming tide. I feel it tingling in
my fingers, scorching my throat, tearing at my reason. I swear I won't
give in, and, in the very act of so swearing, I get up and go out to
meet it. I could break down iron doors to get at the drink when it
calls to me. And, though I seem to be going straight enough now, the
moment is coming when it will call and when I shall obey! Then
you won't want to think you've ever known me, John Barclay, still less
to remember that the name of the Fairy Princess has passed between us.
And, in the midst of my damnation, it will be a drop of cold water on
my tongue to know that I've left you a loophole through which to escape
the acknowledgment of these last few weeks. So far, no one but the
'Rockingham' people, and Payson, andand the Fairy Princessknow that
we've been together recently. The 'Rockingham' people don't even know
my name. Payson won't speak. And she certainly won't. So far, so
good. Further, I've come to say good-by. Hereafter, we mustn't see each
Stopstop! broke in the Lieutenant-Governor. What is all this
rot you're talking? Chuck it, will you? Look here! If you go back on
mewhich is badand on your Fairy Princesswhich is worseand on
yourselfwhich is the worst of all
Yes, yes, answered Cavendish, that's all true. But I'm not
talking about if I go back, I'm talking about when I go
back! As I said when I began, there's no use trying to explain this
thing to a man who doesn't understand it, and no man can
understand it except through his own experience. In this respect, if in
no other, you and I talk different languages, belong on different
planets. Could I expect you to comprehend with me that first give of
self-control which lets the demon loose, and the meaning of the sight
or smell of drink at that exact moment when the will is weakestthe
first glass, hastily swallowed, as a brute, long thirsty, gulps down
the water it has cravedthe second and third, taken more slowlyand
then, that slackening of every nerve, that jettisoning of all the moral
cargo, that sudden love and appreciation of the sensuous side of life?
Don't you see? It's another world, that, which you simply can't
understand, unless you travel to it by the road by which I have
comewhich God forbid!
In all this, said Barclay, I can see no reason why our present
friendship should not continue, and should not be known.
Simply this, answered Cavendish: I'mnothing! You're the
Lieutenant-Governor,who is spoken of, if you care to know it, in the
office of the 'Sentinel' as the only honest official in the state of
Alleghenia. You mustn't tie up to me, nor I to you. I've told you what
my end is going to be. You don't believe it, perhaps, but it's none the
less true. And yoursdo you know that the law-abiding element looks up
to you as a kind of Messiah? Do you know that you are the dawn of honor
and integrity which lies behind the present black cloud of lawlessness?
I tell you, John, the promise of your future is such as might nerve a
beaten Napoleon to renewed endeavor. In your hands lies the salvation
of the state.
I wish I could think so, said the Lieutenant-Governor. God knows
I'd willingly cut one of them off, if I thought its loss could benefit
the commonwealth. But, as I've had occasion to say to others, in the
present emergency I'm as helpless as a babe unborn. You see how things
are goingone might as well appeal, so far as any hope of success is
concerned, to McGrath himself as to Governor Abbott. There's no getting
around it, Spencer. It's a declaration of anarchy pure and simple, and
with the official seal of Alleghenia at the bottom of the document.
Iniquitous wrong is being done, not only to Mr. Rathbawne in refusing
him the protection of the law to which he is entitled, but to the cause
of the strikers themselves, if they can justly be said to have a cause.
Nothing ever was or ever will be gained for the benefit of the many by
the violence of the few. It can only end in one way: by the
interposition of the federal troops. You know what happened at Chicago.
It will be the same thing here; and before it is over we shall see
people shot down like rats in the streets of Kenton City.
I hope it won't come to that, said Cavendish; but even so, all's
well that ends well. Provided that order is finally restored
But what credit is it, broke in Barclay, to the state of
Alleghenia to have her law-breakers suppressed by the national
government? Don't you see that it would be only a final proof that she
is too incompetent or too indifferent to do it herself? From the point
of view of the state's good name, I doubt which is worst, her present
attitude or the interference of federal force.
Will it come to the latter in any event?
Undoubtedly. They've already tried to prevent the delivery of Mr.
Rathbawne's mail, both at the mills and at his house. You know what
that means, don't you? One carrier interfered with in the performance
of his duty is sufficient excuse for mobilizing a brigade.
But the Governor
Barclay came forward, laid his hand on Cavendish's shoulder, and
looked down at him, slowly nodding his head.
The Governor of Alleghenia is a dyed-in-the-wool scoundrel, my good
sir, he said. It is his manifest duty to enforce the law rigidly and
at once, and if the police of Kenton City cannot or will not assist
him, to summon the militia to his aid. In that way only can the honor
of Alleghenia be saved. And that is what Elijah Abbott will never do.
There is anarchy open and flagrant in the streets of Kenton Citythere
is anarchy silent and sneering in the Governor's chair. God save the
XI. YOUNG NISBET FINDS HIS TONGUE
I have promised to marry Colonel Broadcastle, announced Mrs.
Wynyard when the silence had lasted twenty minutes.
Dorothy flung round from the window against which she had been
mercilessly pressing her pretty nose.
Why, Aunt Helen! she exclaimed. You really are the most
startlingly abrupt person I ever knew. Are you in earnest? What under
the sun possessed you to do that?
I think it must have been Colonel Broadcastle, answered Mrs.
Wynyard, with an air of reflection. It was last night when he was
showing us over the armory, after the review. He not only asked me, but
appeared to have quite set his heart upon my giving him an affirmative
answer. And he had been so extremely civil, Dorothy, about our seats
and all that, that I thought it would seem rather ungracious to refuse
the first favor he had ever asked of me. So I said yes.
Aunt Helen, Aunt Helen! One of these fine days you will be the
death of me. Did any one ever hear of such a reason for
accepting a man?
I couldn't think of a better one for refusing him, said Mrs.
Wynyard serenely. So there you are!
Talk about logic! said Dorothy. She came across the room, and
seated herself beside her aunt. I never heard anything so exciting in
my life! she added. Do you really mean it? Are you really going to
That is the arrangement, as I understand it, replied Mrs. Wynyard.
Of course, I haven't his promise in writing, but I think I can trust
him. I once looked him up in your father's business guide, and he had
three A's after his name. I'm sure I don't know what they can stand
for, if it's not Acquaintance, Appeal, and Acceptance. I don't really
see what else I could have done. It seems to have all been arranged
without consulting me at all. One can't very well set one's self up in
opposition to a business guide, you know.
But he's old enough to be your father, Aunt Helen!
That's precisely the reason why there wouldn't have been any sense
in my promising to be a sister to him. You see, I was quite helpless in
the matter from start to finish.
And it was only last night that you called me preposterous!
laughed Dorothy. Really, Aunt Helen, people who live in glass houses
shouldn't throw stones. I think you are the most absurd creature in the
world. Do you love him?
I can even go so far as to say that I think I do, said Mrs.
Wynyard, without a break in her gravity. I have all the
symptoms,palpitation of the heart, a morbid craving for Shelley and
chocolate caramels, a tendency to wake up singing, and a failing for
flattening my nose against the window-pane for twenty minutes at a
stretch without saying a word to my poor old aunt, on the mere chance
that he may be coming down the avenue.
The blush which Dorothy paid as tribute to this subtle innuendo came
near to rivaling one of young Nisbet's celebrated performances in the
You're making fun of me, she said reproachfully.
I, my dear?not the least in the world. It's all as true as the
gospel according to St. Valentine. I've told you first because we're
not only aunt and niece, but the very best friends possible besides,
and I knew you would like to hear the news before any one else. Colonel
Broadcastle is by all odds the finest man I know,I won't even except
John Barclay, much as I admire him. He has paid me a very great honor.
I respect him tremendously; I trust him absolutely. These alone are
good reasons; but there's a better one,so much better that nothing
else really has any bearing on the subject. Can you guess?
Yes, said Dorothy softly, you just love him. Isn't that it?
Exactly. It's a curious thing, this love. There may be every reason
why one should marry a man, his own wish included, and yet one doesn't.
There may be no reason at all, so far as outsiders can see, and yet one
does! I've known a woman to throw over one suitor who had everything in
his favormoney, character, positionand accept another who had none
of these advantagesbecause she liked the way he parted his hair!
That's the way it goes. It's the most illogical thing in the world, if
we except the stock market and other women's gowns. And then, when it's
all arranged, his friends wonder what she could have seen in him, and
her friends what he could have seen in her! But I'm wandering from the
subject. Seriously, Dorothy dear, I love him very sincerely, and I have
been more happy than I can say ever since I found out that it wasn't
going to be one of those one-sided love-affairs which assure the
incomes of the poets and the lawyers. And now,confidence for
Aunt Helen! I don't know what you mean.
Oh, Dorothy! 'I don't know what you mean' is one of those phrases
like 'Not at home' and 'Yours very sincerely,' which are white lies on
the face of them. I don't want to force your confidence. We all have
what our friends recognize as our private affairs, with the
accentworse luck!on the pry! But this is very different. I'm
very fond of you, as you know, and my interest is far from being vulgar
curiosity. Of a woman's five cardinal failingsinquisitiveness,
extravagance, vanity, vacillation, and loquacityI'm guiltless of all
except the last and most innocent. But don't we all need to talk at
times? Don't we all long for a trustworthy confidante? Aren't
our little secrets often like precious liquors?if we don't make use
of them, share them with our friends, they either ferment and sour, or
else lose all their sweetness and significance by slow evaporation.
You would draw confidence from a stone, said Dorothy, with a
little smile, but what have I to tell you?
How should I know? Perhaps nothingas yet; perhaps everything.
Take your time about it, dear. I'm not trying to get you to commit
yourself. I only want you to know that I'm ready to share your secret
when it's ready to be shared, and to help and counsel you in any way I
can. I know the main great fact already. Because, you see, Dorothy, one
may conceal an infinite amount, even from one's nearest and dearest,
when they don't understandand they are so apt not to
understand, one's nearest and dearest! And the financier may hide his
schemes from his partners, or the general his plan of campaign from his
fellow-officers, or the politician his ambitions from his most ardent
supportersbut I doubt, my dear, if a woman in love was ever able to
hide very much from another woman in the same lamentable condition!
If it were not, she added, taking Dorothy's hand in hers, for the
great happiness which has come into my life, do you think that I should
have been able to divine that other great happiness which seems to be
hovering over yours? I am the physician afflicted with the disease
which it becomes his duty to study and to cure. Only, it's not a
disease, Dorothy, but a great, a beautiful revelation. I should have
compared myself, instead, to the prophet who is enabled to interpret
the dreams of others because they are identical with his own. There's
my little speech. And when you are prepared to answer it, you'll find
As she was speaking the last words, the butler flung back the
curtains at the doorway of the drawing-room.
Mr. Nisbet, he announced imperturbably.
Dorothy looked at her aunt, and then, with her frank laugh:
If there is an answer, she said, that's it!
As young Nisbet entered, Mrs. Wynyard was the first to greet him.
So, she observed, looking him over approvingly, you've beaten
your swords into walking-sticks, and your spears into top-hats, as my
friend Isaiah so aptly observes! That's very commendable, but I almost
think I like you better in your war-paint. Do you know, a Colonel's
orderly is the spickest-and-spanest object upon which I've ever laid,
or hope to lay, my eyes?
He just naturally has to be, said young Nisbet, with a grin.
Somehow, he was always more at his ease with Mrs. Wynyard than with
other women. You see, he added, if it wasn't that way, he wouldn't
Which was as near as he had ever come to making an epigram.
Well, I shall leave you to the tender mercies of Dorothy, said
Mrs. Wynyard. I've promised to take a walk with yourwhat is it you
call himinstead of commanding officer, you know?
K. O., said young Nisbet.
Yes, that's it. How deplorably you militiamen spell! Well, at all
events, I'm going to walk with your K. O., and it's time I was getting
Good-by, Mrs. Wynyard.
Day-day! said Dorothy, from the divan.
She's a crack-a-jack! exclaimed young Nisbet, after she had gone.
Mercy! said Dorothy. I never knew you to be so enthusiastic over
any one before. If you have any intention of falling in love with Aunt
Helen, I feel it to be my duty, as a friend and well-wisher, to warn
you in advance that there isn't the most remote show in the world for
Oh, it's not that! protested young Nisbet with that stupendous
earnestness which made people want to hug him. Why, Mrs. Wynyard would
have me talked to a standstill in two or seven minutes! Imagine me
trying to make love to a dame like that! She'd lose me so quick you
couldn't see me for the dust. Besides
Besides what? asked Dorothy with an elaborate air of unconcern, as
Young Nisbet was quite crimson now, and twitched at the creases in
his trousers where they passed over his knees, and turned in his toes
There's somebody else in the running! he blurted out desperately.
There! It was outa part of it, at leastnot at all, to be sure,
in anything even remotely resembling one of the thousand manners he had
proposed to himself as effective, during long hours of wakefulness,
when there was nothing in the world but his crowding thoughts and the
ticking of his clockbut still, out! The ice was broken. It was
impossible that she should not understand. The rest would be easier.
Alas for young Nisbet! He was, as he himself acknowledged, not up
Somebody else? repeated Dorothy. How ever did you find that out?
She only told me about it twenty minutes ago.
Alas, alas, for young Nisbet! He had thought his feet upon the beach
at last, whereas they had but touched a sand-bar in passing over. The
under-tow of embarrassment was worse than ever now, and threatened to
drag him down.
Oh, I don't mean Mrs. Wynyard. I wasn't talking of herthat is, I
was, at firstbut afterwardsanyhow, I'm not talking of her now! When
I say there's somebody else, I meanI mean
I am going out for a moment, Dorothyjust over to the doctor's. How de do, Mr. Nisbet? Wretched weather, isn't
it? Natalie's with your father, my dear, and I'll be back
almost immediately. Erahem!
Mrs. Rathbawne went through a kind of rudimentary calisthenic
exercise, which consisted of squaring her shoulders and drawing in her
chin. It was accompanied by a meaning glance at her daughter, and was
designed as an inconspicuous substitute for the frank injunction to
sit up straight, my dear, upon which Dorothy had finally placed a
And won't you feed the gold-fish, my dear? she added. I've
been so occupied, and the poor things haven't had a crumb
for three days. I've just told Thomas to take a plate of bread in at
once. I'm sure Mr. Nisbet won't mind: get him to help
you. Erahem! And I'll be back in about fifteen minutes, or
For a time there was silence in the big, warm conservatory. Young
Nisbet had taken the dish from Dorothy's hands, and, after seating
himself on the low marble parapet surrounding the pool, devoted his
energies to feeding the gold-fish. He was thinking that it was all to
be done over again, and that it was harder than ever, if such a thing
were possible, to do. What was there about those few words which seemed
to choke him? For the moment, he took refuge in a commonplace question.
Is it one of your duties to feed these persons?
Dorothy laughed shortly, like a little chord of music.
Noit's the Mater's peculiar privilege, she answered. She adores
the stupid little beasts. Don't give them such large pieces, Mr.
Nisbet. She feeds them regularly herself,or did, until Dad began to
require so much of her time. But lately, the house has been so upset,
and she has been doing such a lot of going out, and coming in
Yes, put in young Nisbet dryly, I've noticed the coming in part.
So Natalie has been doing it for her, went on Dorothy, more
rapidly. I suppose Natalie herself hasn't had the time, these last
three days. They are hungry, aren't they? Don't give them
such large pieces, Mr. Nisbet! Don't you see the poor things have
only button-holes for mouths?
There was another long pause, before either spoke again.
What defeats me about your mother, said young Nisbet slowly, is
the way she manages to come in just at the wrong moment. At
interruption, she's the most star performer I've ever run up against.
You don't mind my saying that, do you? I'm not throwing any asparagus.
I wouldn't be disrespectful about her for the world. But really, for
chopping into a conversation, she's a dazzler!
She is a little inopportune at times, admitted Dorothy.
Inopportune? Yes,she's all of that. When she marches in, I feel
exactly as if the boat had gybed, and the boom come over and knocked me
into thirty fathoms of water. Lord!
Why, how ridiculous! said Dorothy. There's nothing about the
Mater to be afraid of. She's the dearest, most innocent old thing in
the world! She just blunders along like that, and nobody is less aware
of her mistakes than she is. And, after all, why shouldn't she
interrupt us, so long as we're not saying anything in particular? And
if we were sayinganything in particular, we could always pick
up the conversation where we dropped it.
That's just what I find it so hard to do! confessed young Nisbet.
I'm a stupid sort of lout, you know, Miss Rathbawne. I've never had
half a chance to practice talking to dames, and where other lads fuss
like experts, I just can't make good. I foozle every stroke. I'm an
You're nothing of the sort! said Dorothy indignantly. You're an
extremely attractive young man!
As good as the average in some ways, perhaps. Buthow can I
explain what I mean?there always comes a day when a chap wants to be
more, wants to be the best ever, in every way! That's the proposition
I'm up against now. I seem to be just a bundle of misfits,
andandoh, shucks! my line of talk is all crooked, and I can't tell
you what the trouble is, but
Your liver's out of kilter, interpolated Dorothy.
No, sir! protested young Nisbet. Nothing is ever out of kilter
inside me! If I'm nothing else, I'm blue-ribbon boy on the health
question. No, it's something I want, and that I'm pretty sure I can't
I know perfectly well what it is, said Dorothy, and you haven't
even asked for it!
Young Nisbet looked up suddenly.
Do you mean?he stammered, do you mean?
Outside, the front door slammed, and Mrs. Rathbawne's voice became
audible, inquiring Dorothy's whereabouts of the butler. The girl
There's the Mater back again, she said. Oh, Mr. Nisbet!
For young Nisbet had dropped dish and bread-crumbs into the pool
with a great splash, electrifying the gold-fish into unheard-of
activity, and had risen, at the same moment, to his feet. He stood
before her, his honest face blazing, his hands outstretched.
I love you! he said. Will you marry me?
And whether or not he received an audible reply to this question he
never knew,only she was in his arms, and gold-fish might feast or
starve, for all he cared about them. The wide doors of perfect bliss
swung open before him, and young Nisbet passed within.
He was gazing ruefully into the water, as Mrs. Rathbawne entered.
For the first time in his experience, her presence did not embarrass
I've dropped a dish into your pool, Mrs. Rathbawne, he said, and
scared the gold-fish into blue conniption fits. Look how they are
scurrying around. I hope I haven't done them any harm.
Oh, no, answered Mrs. Rathbawne placidly. They are getting so
fat that I should think a little exercise, now and again,
would be good for them. We might drop a dish into the
pool every week or so, Dorothy, just to stir them up.
It might go for a while, said young Nisbet, but any old football
player like myself, Mrs. Rathbawne, will tell you that you can't work
the same trick more than just a certain number of times.
Interruption, for example! added Dorothy, and laughed across at
him, deliciously, with her eyes.
It was during the tenth week of the strike at the Rathbawne Mills
that the Kenton City Record made its long-remembered attack upon
Lieutenant-Governor Barclay. The arraignment was one unparalleled for
venom, even in the columns of that most notoriously scurrilous journal
in the state, and, withal, there was about it a devilish ingenuity, a
distortion of facts so slight as to defy refutation, and so plausible
as to carry conviction. It was the last blow in the long series of
discouragements which Barclay had suffered since his inauguration, and
for the moment he was completely unmanned. He was at no loss, however,
to trace the source from which the ingeniously perverted facts had been
obtained. Not even McGrath, with his intimate knowledge of all that
went forward at the capitol, could have supplied information so
detailed. The hand of Elijah Abbott was traceable in every line of the
attack. Their conversation, on the afternoon when he had first spoken
to Barclay of the impending strike, was reproduced almost word for
word, as well as that on the occasion when McGrath had been present,
and therefrom the Record went on to deduce that not even Peter
Rathbawne, with all his obstinacy, all his blindness to the welfare of
his employees, was responsible for their present destitution in the
same sense as was the Lieutenant-Governor, who might have avoided the
strike by a conciliatory word, and who, instead, had advised Mr.
Rathbawne to fight the working-people until the last cent of their
money should be exhausted and the last drop of their blood should be
Incompetency, said the article in part, is what we long since
learned to expect from John Hamilton Barclay. Gross neglect of public
duty, flagrant callousness to responsibility, contemptuous indifference
to the interests of the citizens whose votes placed him where he
is,all these have been part and parcel of his attitude since the
unfortunate moment of his election. But even in him we had not looked
for the incredible spectacle of a public official deliberately
precipitating the incalculable distress which has followed in the wake
of the strike at the Rathbawne Mills. Overburdened with the cares of
office, in a single instance the Governor of Alleghenia turned over a
question of vital significance to the lieutenant from whom he had every
reason to expect compliance and support. Even so, he was careful to
point out a line of action by which the impending calamity might
readily have been avoided. And what was the result? Not only in total
disregard of plain duty, but in direct disobedience of the orders of
his superior, the Lieutenant-Governor of Alleghenia threw his influence
into the scale to outweigh law and order, and brought about the
deplorable destitution now facing the families of four thousand martyrs
to principle. When men are driven to desperation, when women turn to
shame in order to maintain life, when children are heard crying in our
streets for bread, to whom shall we point as the author of it all? To
Peter Rathbawne, a poor, doddering old man, barely responsible now, if
rumor is to be believed, for what he does? No! To John Hamilton
Barclay, Lieutenant-Governor of Alleghenia!
This, and much more in the same strain, while passed over as
sensational bombast by the better element, did not fail of its effect
upon the strikers. A mass-meeting, held that morning, denounced Barclay
in a set of resolutions, as a traitor to his office and as the avowed
enemy of labor, and demanded his impeachment on the ground of neglect
of duty. During the day, half a score of threatening letters came to
his office. But what hurt him most, though he almost smiled at his own
sensitiveness, was that the doormen and porters at the Capitol greeted
his morning nod with a stare, and even the little office-boy, bending
low over his table in the ante-room, did not look up for the customary
wink. For his mother was a trimmer at the Rathbawne Mills.
Once in his office, the Lieutenant-Governor found it impossible to
concentrate his mind upon the work before him. Sentence after sentence,
the words of his arraignment marched through his mind, as he sat with
his elbows on the desk and his chin in his doubled fists. A single
reading seemed to have stamped them indelibly and forever upon his
memory. Baffled by conflicting reflections he began, for the first
time, to doubt whether his had been the course of conscience, or merely
that of pride and perversity. Was not the Record right, perhaps,
after all? If it was true that the strike was driving men to crime and
women to the streetsand if it was not, as yet, true, it soon must
bewho, indeed, was to blame if not he himself, who had said Fight
them! when he might have kept peace by a word?
Suddenly, the Lieutenant-Governor rose, and, crossing the room to
where the arms of Alleghenia hung upon the wall, took down the frame,
laid it, face up, upon the table, and, bending down, studied it
intently. The beautifully executed nude figures of Art and Labor stared
steadfastly back at him, their muscular hands grasping the circular
shield, strength and endurance in every line of their necks, shoulders,
and thighs, purity and purpose in their blue eyes and square-cut jaws.
He was as motionless as they for full five minutes. Presently his
finger moved slowly across the frame, and he said, quite softly:
Then he looked up, straight before him, out of the open window,
where an encircling wistaria was dotted with minute sprouts of green,
and up at the clear, wide sky.
I'm right! he said aloud. I'm right!
* * * * *
At five that afternoon, Spencer Cavendish set out upon the most
unpleasant assignment which had ever fallen to his lot. When Payson had
told him that he was to procure an interview with Peter Rathbawne for
the Sentinel, with a special eye to the mill-owner's failing health,
as reported in the morning's Record, he had shrunk back instinctively
from a task so distasteful, and was on the point of refusing. But two
considerations checked this impulse. If the thing were to be done at
all, he thought, surely it had better be the work of one friendly to
the Rathbawnes and with their interests at heart than that of a
bungling outsider, with it in his power to hurt them beyond expression.
The argument was plausible, but behind its logic, at the back of
Cavendish's brain, there lay another reason, without which the first
had been insufficient to persuade him. He wanted to see Natalie
againto meet her under the shield of some compatible excuse, so that
he should not seem to have sought her of his own will. He was thirsty
for a word from her, thirsty with the pitiable thirst of the
shipwrecked sailor who knows a swallow of salt water will but increase
his torture, and who craves it, none the less. Long since, he had
forfeited his right to her friendshipno sophistry could blind him to
that. Moreover the ocean of degradation not only lay behind him; it lay
in front as well. It was as he had told Barclay. He stood upon an
island, not the mainland, of redemption, and another plunge was
What he expected to gain by a word with Natalie Rathbawne, Cavendish
himself could hardly have told. At most, he was conscious of a faint
hope that in some turn or twist of the conversation he might have a
chance of thanking her, of telling her that he rejoiced in her
happiness, and of bidding her good-by. For paramount in his mind lay
the thought of his approaching downfall, inevitable, utter, and final.
He did not attempt to deceive himself. He knew what was coming. It had
When Cavendish had sent in his card, a servant showed him through
the library into the conservatory, where Peter Rathbawne was seated in
a deep rattan chair watching his daughter, who stood at his side
tossing bread-crumbs to the gold-fish in the circular central pool.
They both turned at the sound of his footsteps, and Natalie held out
So you've come at last! she said. I should think it was quite
time. Dad, you remember Mr. Cavendish, don't you?
Yes, answered her father. Oh, yes!
Rathbawne's voice was without life, his face almost wholly void of
expression. Though he glanced at Cavendish, it was with the blank stare
of a delirious person whose attention is unconsciously caught by an
unusual noise rather than with any evidence of direct interest, and he
took no further part in the conversation, nor even seemed to realize
that his companions were speaking. When he had answered his daughter's
question and looked at Cavendish, he leaned back in his chair, and
wearily closed his eyes.
He is very much changed since you saw him, said the girl in a
lower tone, turning again to the pool, and it's all come about in the
past six weeks. The strike has had a most curious, a most pathetic
effect upon him. Even the doctor is at a loss to account for it. I
think that I am, perhaps, the only one who really understands. He has
always been so proud of his mills and of his people, so loyal to them,
so like a father to them, one and all, that to have them turn against
him like this, and, what is worse, get to drinking and rioting, has
almost broken his heart. The doctor says only one thing can save him,
and that is to see the mills going again and the people happy and
prosperous, as they were before. And who knows when that will be? For,
feeble and broken as he is, he will never give in to the Union. Of that
I'm very sorry, said Cavendish softly. One look at Rathbawne had
been enough to show him that the interview for which he had been sent
was an impossibility. One look at Natalie sufficed to banish from his
mind every thought save that of her pitiful pallor and the pathetic
quiver of her lips.
I had no idea it was as bad as this, he continued. Can't anything
be done? You are far from being in good shape yourself, Miss
Tired and dispirited, that's all, she answered, trying to smile.
And I fear nothing can be done as long as our fate lies in Governor
Abbott's hands. There's no use in harping on that, though. You know as
well as I what we have to expect from him. Did you see the attack on
Mr. Barclay this morning?
An infamous libel! exclaimed Cavendish hotly.
Miss Rathbawne crumbled the bread between her fingers, and resumed
her feeding of the gold-fish.
You must know that I am the last person in the world to need that
assurance, she said slowly. It is only another thread in all the
hideous tissue of injustice and iniquity which has been wrapped about
us like a pall. What a shame, is it not, that such a man as he should
be powerless to do the work I think God intended for him? And what a
shame that Alleghenia, needing his clear head and his strong arm and
his loyal heart as she does in this hour of emergency, should only be
sneering at him as a coward and a cad!
I cannot believe, answered Cavendish, that the venom of the
'Record' is to be taken as the sentiment of the state. There must be
manythere must be a majority of Alleghenians who know, as we know,
that no better man breathes than John Barclay.
Thank you, said the girl.
In the open spaces of water between the lily-pads the fat indolent
gold-fish mouthed at the crumbs, stirring the silence with little
sucking sounds, and sending tiny ripples widening on all sides. One
alone, dingy yellow in color, moped apart from his fellows, and took no
interest in the banquet.
That one's a cynic, said Miss Rathbawne presently. My subtlest
cajoleries never win him from that attitude of sneering contempt. The
others get all the tid-bits, and he doesn't seem to care. He isn't even
ornamentalhe's in a class by himself. I call him Diogenes, and I'm
thinking of buying him a tub all for himself, where he can sulk in
solitary grandeur to his heart's content.
Perhaps not altogether in a class by himself, said Cavendish.
There are others, you know, who make no use of their opportunities,
and who can never hope to be anything but ugly and useless, while their
fellows are getting all the good things of life, and enjoying them, and
giving pleasure of one kind or another into the bargain.
Something in his tone caused Natalie to look at him suddenly.
I'm not enough of a pessimist, she answered firmly, to believe
that true in anything beyond appearances. We are all apt, no matter how
conceited we may be, to underestimate at times the extent of our own
usefulnessor, rather, we are unconscious of the direction in which it
is most productive. If what you say is so, then all that is lacking is
the opportunity, and that is sure to come. We may squander many
opportunities, and, hardly less probably, actually turn to account in a
way we do not perceive many which we seem to ourselves to squander. In
any event, others will come. A woman once said to me that the good in
her was not cultivated nor exercised with a view to individual
immortality. That seemed to me to mean so much that I've built up
quite a little creed on it. It's the principle, isn't it, upon which
the whole scheme of the world hinges? A million leaves fall and decay
to enrich the soil wherefrom two million more may spring. An infinity
of little shell-fish die, and the ages grind their shells to powder to
make the sands and the chalk cliffs. Countless raindrops sacrifice
their identity to maintain that of one great river. And why should it
not be so with us? If only we can contribute in the smallest degree to
the uplifting of our kind, to the advancement of the race, to the
maintenance of what we know to be right, what possible difference can
it make whether, in the effort to be of such service, we live or
succumb? We were put here, it seems to me, very much as separate notes
are put into one great harmony. Each note is struck at the proper time,
serves its purpose, and goes into nothingness. Each plays its part,
however small. We can't all be included in the wonderful final chords.
Our place may seem trivial to us, and yet in some sense we may be sure
we are all contributors to the unity and perfection of the whole. That
ought to be enough. No one note achieves individual immortality, but
each does something to assure the immortality of the composition of
which it forms a part. If we don't believe that, if we are not content
to have it so, how is it possible to believe in any divine purpose, any
scheme of justice at all? Look at the indescribable waste of life on
all sides of us. If only in the case of humanity, people are dying by
hundreds every minute, unheeded, unlamented, unrecorded. Human life is
such a little thing!as little as the life of the leaf or the
raindrop. And yet in the death of these last we are able to perceive
the working of a vast system which must be the outcome of a direct
purpose, and whereby the best interest of each species is furthered.
And so, the human race. Why should it be less than lesser things? One
man dies in order that two may live. A confederacyas in the case of
our own Rebellionperishes in order that a nation may endure.
Everywhere, in short, the individual sacrifices his individual
existence in order that it may contribute to and fertilize the growth
of his species. So far as I am concerned, I am perfectly content to
have it so. I should ask nothing better, when my own time comes, than
the assurance that, in one way or another, my death had a
significance,that it was for a person or a principle, and not merely
a natural phenomenon. I may not be able to believe that; but there is
one belief possible to all of us,I mean that, if not in death, then
assuredly in life, we have been of service to our race and time. We are
often told that the indispensable thing does not exist. I think the
same may be said of the useless one. I don't believe even the humblest
of God's creatures goes out of life without having been at one time or
another an influence for good. I even have hopes of Diogenes. Some day
there will be a scrap of refuse or an ugly little bug which mars the
symmetry of the pool, and Diogenes will eat it,and perhaps die of
indigestion as a martyr to principle!
The silence which followed her words was broken by a hoarse sob from
Mr. Rathbawne, and, turning, they saw that his head had fallen back
against the chair, with his eyes, wide and staring, fixed upon the
glass roof, and his breath coming in short, thick gasps from between
his parted lips. In an instant Natalie was on her knees by his side,
with her arms about him.
Don't be frightened, she said, looking up at Cavendish with a
brave little smile. It's his heart. He has had these attacks
frequently of late. Will you get me the whiskey decanter and a glass?
You'll find them in the dining-roomon the sideboardto the left.
Decanter in hand, Cavendish stood watching her, as she tenderly
poured a little of the raw spirit between her father's lips. The effect
was almost instantaneous. Rathbawne choked, swallowed the restorative,
and presently raised his head and looked at her, patting her hand
tremulously with his own. They were so absorbed in each other that
neither noted a sudden, strange transformation in Cavendish's
expression. From the wide-mouthed decanter in his hand, the faint acrid
odor of Peter Rathbawne's fine old Scotch whiskey crept upward, stung
his nostrils, and, of a sudden, set him all a-quiver, like a startled
animal. The smell was almost that of pure alcohol, and set his mouth
watering, and drove his breath out in a little shuddering gasp that was
like a revulsion from some sickening medicine, just swallowed. But he
knew it, none the less, for something which belonged to and was part of
him. For weeks he had avoided it. Now it assailed him like that foe of
Hercules, of whom he had spoken to Barclay, whose strength was
multiplied a hundred-fold for every time his opponent trod him under
As he told the Lieutenant-Governor, at the moment when least he
expected it, the demon touched his arm. For a minute he fought
desperately against the suggestion, with his eyes closed, and his teeth
cutting into his inner lip. He clung madly to the thought of the
presence in which he was, conscious that the girl's words had uplifted
him immeasurably, given him a clearer insight into the essential
significance of life than he had ever known. It was
uselessuselessuseless! There was nothing left in the world but the
smell of the liquor that he loathed and that he loved!
If you were to leave us alone
At the suggestion, Cavendish bowed and went slowly back toward the
dining-room. Once out of sight of the others, he paused, glanced back
over his shoulder, and then, abruptly, supporting himself with one hand
against the side-post of the doorway, raised the decanter in the other
to his lips, and drank.
XIII. THE INSTRUMENT OF FATE
The day had been deliciously warm and still, one of those eloquent
heralds of spring that are touched with a peculiar beauty rivaling her
own. As Cavendish came out of the Rathbawne residence, Bradbury Avenue
was splashed with huge blotches of dazzling yellow, where the light of
the westwardly sun poured between the houses and was spilled upon the
smooth pavement. The man choked slightly at the after-taste of the raw
whiskey he had just swallowed, but almost immediately he smiled.
I knew it would come, he said to himself as he turned out into the
avenue, and here it is. I'm not surprised. I'm glad, God help meI'm
His mouth was watering, and he felt, as it were, every inch of the
stimulant's progress through his veins, warming him with its familiar
glow. When he had left the conservatory, he had been trembling
pitifully. Now he was calm, and as steady as if his nerves had been
cords of steel. Responsibility, resolution, remorsethey had fallen
from him like so many discarded garments. He was sharply alive to the
pleasure of the moment, keenly appreciative of the sunlight, the soft
air, the laughter of the children romping in the streets. Of a singular
languor which had been wont to come over him toward the close of each
busy day of the past six weeks there was now no hint. He walked
rapidly, with his shoulders thrown back, and his chin well elevated,
but his course was not in the direction of his home, nor yet in that of
the Sentinel office. Instinctively, he had turned toward that part of
the city where were the large restaurants, the playhouses, and the more
At a corner, he wheeled abruptly into one of these last, and,
seating himself at a small table, called for an absinthe. The place was
already lighted, and each glass in the pyramids behind the bar twinkled
with a tiny brilliant reflection of the nearest incandescent globes.
The air was faintly redolent of lemon and the mingled odors of many
liquors. To Cavendish it was all very familiar, and all very pleasant.
Again he told himself that he was glad, glad that the restraint he had
been exercising was at an end. He was free, he thought, free to
accomplish his own inevitable damnation. He had no patience for the
tedious operation of dripping the water into his absinthe over a lump
of sugar, but ordered gum, and stirring the two rapidly together,
filled the glass to the brim from a little pitcher at his side. Then he
drank, slowly but steadily, barely touching the glass to the table
between his sips.
Presently, he was conscious of a slight numbness at his wrists, a
barely perceptible tingling in his knees and knuckles. His heart was
fluttering, and his temples pulsed pleasurably. He glanced toward the
glittering pyramids of glasses, and for a fraction of time they seemed
to shift in unison a foot to the right, returning immediately to their
original position with a jerk. Then he rose, and went toward the door,
catching sight of his face in a mirror as he passed. It was very pale,
and he crinkled his nose at it derisively, and then smiled at the
whimsical oddity of his reflected expression. On the threshold he
paused, looking toward the west, blazing with the red and saffron of
the departed sun.
Oof! he said, with a downward tug at his waistcoat. It comes
quickly. That's what it is to be out of practice.
He dined alone in a corner of an unfrequented restaurant, eating
little, but drinking steadily, absinthe at first, then whiskey, four
half-goblets of it, barely diluted with water. Then he found himself
once more in the streets, now brilliantly lighted, going on and on
without purpose, save when the blazing colored glass of a saloon
swerved him from his path. He knew that he was walking steadily,
avoiding obstacles as if by instinct, stepping from and on to kerbs
without any actual perception of them. Faces swam past him, staring.
Men, particularly those at the bars he leaned against, were talking
loudly, but, as it seemed to him, brilliantly. He often smiled
involuntarily, and sometimes spoke to one of them, drank with him, and
presently was alone again, walking on and on. Occasionally a
white-faced clock bulged at him out of the night; and then he noticed
that time was galloping. It was close upon one when he found himself in
a quarter which his recent employment had made familiarthe
neighborhood of the Rathbawne Mills.
Here, suddenly, his mind emerged from a mist, and every detail of
his surroundings stood out sharp and clear-cut. The street was
insufficiently illuminated, but the light of a full moon cut across the
buildings on one side, half way between roof and sidewalk. Cavendish
perceived, with a kind of dull surprise, that the pavements were
thronged, and that almost every window framed a figure or two. A hoarse
murmur pulsed in the air, and his quickened ear was greeted on every
side by foul jests and grumbled oaths, broken now and again by drunken
imprecations, scuffles, or the shrill invective of women invisible in
the throng. Once a girl touched his arm, and he found her face close to
his, thin, haggard, and imploring. He shook her off, and turned
unsteadily into the doorway of a saloon; stumbling, as he did so, over
a little boy crying on the step.
Inside, the air was reeking with rank smoke and the fumes of stale
beer. The floor was strewn with sawdust, streaked and circled by
shuffling feet; the mirror backing the bar was covered with soiled
gauze dotted with tawdry roses, and an indescribable dinginess seemed
to have laid its sordid fingers on all the fittings.
The room was crowded, neverthelesscrowded not only with the men
themselves, but, to the stifling point, with their voices and their
gestures and the spirit of their unrest and discontent. Cavendish,
leaning against the end of the bar, looked wearily down the line of
flushed faces and backward at the disputing groups which rocked and
swayed, as the men argued and swore, grasping the lapels of each
others' coats, and spilling the liquor from their glasses as they
gesticulated. He was wholly sober now. It was the stage of dissipation
which experience had taught him to dread the mostthe emergence from
dulled sensibility into a nervous tension upon which stimulant had no
apparent effect. He was trembling again, too, and his face, as he saw
it in the mirror through the clouding gauze, was as that of a stranger,
a stranger of whom he was afraid. He swallowed the whiskey he had
ordered, and, supporting himself by the bar, swung back and gave his
attention to what the men about him were saying. It did not need his
sharpened perception to appreciate the fact that he was in the thick of
the worst element of the Rathbawne strikers, or that the situation was
a crisis. What little restraint had characterized the earlier stages of
the strike was now, most evidently, at an end. Starvation was no longer
a mere possibility, or violence a mere threat. The men raved like wild
creatures against Rathbawne and John Barclay, recounting maudlinly the
destitution of their families, and, anon, flaming forth into cries for
vengeance. How long the babel lasted Cavendish could not have said.
Long since, the doors had been closed, and the lights half lowered, in
mock deference to a supposedly vigilant police, when suddenly a hush
fell upon the assemblage. A side door had opened, and Michael McGrath
stood in the midst of his followers, with his arms folded and a thin
smile upon his lips. There was not a whisper as he began to speak. The
men leaned toward him breathlessly, their mouths open, their eyes
starting glassily out of their sodden faces.
And how long is this going to go on? demanded their leader,
with a sneer. Talktalktalk! That's always the way, and nothing
done, after all. Well, there's been about enough of it, and that's
flat. You've been living on the Union, and I suppose you think you can
go on living on it till hell freezes over. Now listen to me. When the
strike began we had plenty of funds, and more came to us from the
Central Federation. The funds are gone, d' you hear, and the Federation
is asking what we mean to do. There is six hundred and odd dollars in
the treasury. No need to tell you how far that much will go, is there?
Not one day! And with all your talk, you've everything your own way, if
only you knew ita police that doesn't dare lift a finger against you,
and a Governor that won't budge an inch till I give the word! Well,
to-morrow I give the word, understand me? To-morrow I throw you over,
and you can get out of this the best way you can. I'm sick of your
talk. I'm sick of your doing nothing. Your daughters are on the
streets, your wives and your children are starving, and youby
God! you are boozing in a bar till daylight, and talking!
So that's enough. To-morrow, the strike's at an end. To-morrow, the
Governor comes down on you like ten thousand of brick! And I'm the man
that gives the word! Unless
He paused and cast a keen glance at the faces which surrounded him.
His last words had been greeted by a low growl.
Unless, he continued, you know your business, and make a move
that's worth the name.
The hush of attention seemed to deepen into the leaden silence of
There are two men who must be put out of the way, said McGrath
slowly, and that before another midnight. I don't care how it's done,
but done it must be, for the sake of example. It's easy enough to
manage it, as things are. There'll be a howl, but we have the
authorities fixed. And those two men must go!
In the tense silence which followed, a man's voice whispered two
Ay, Mr. Rathbawne! echoed McGrath, flashing into that
passionate manner of his which carried all before it. Mr.
Rathbawne, who's starving you! Mr. Rathbawne, who's making your
sons drunkards! Mr. Rathbawne, who's debauching your daughters!
Mr. Rathbawne, who's killing your wives by inches! Mr.
Rathbawne, and Mr. John Hamilton Barclay, Lieutenant-Governor of
For a moment it seemed as if he would be swept off his feet by a
torrent of enthusiasm. The men crowded about him, slapping him upon the
shoulders, shouting their approval, reaching for his hand. One
brandished a revolver under his nose, with a shrill cry of This'll do
it, Mac! This'll do it, by God! The rest had turned to each other,
embracing frantically, and repeating his words in a kind of frenzy.
Presently McGrath raised his hand, and, as silence was restored at
the signal, turned to the bar-tender with his thin smile.
Set 'em up, Dick, he said composedly. It's on me, this time, and
we'll drink to better days.
In the confusion Cavendish made his way to the side-door, and
passing through it into the street, hesitated, dazzled by a brilliant
light. It was broad day.
* * * * *
As the Lieutenant-Governor entered his ante-room that morning his
eyes contracted suddenly, and he stopped, with his hand upon the knob
of the door. There could be no mistaking the look in the face of the
man who sat facing him, gripping desperately at the arms of his chair.
Cavendish was as white as chalk, with the hunted look of despair which
lay so vividly on Barclay's remembrance of the night when they had met
on Bradbury Avenue. He rose as the Lieutenant-Governor appeared and
drew himself up with an effort at steadiness, conscious that the others
present were observing him narrowly. But Barclay's hesitation was as
brief as it had been involuntary. With a bare glance at his
subordinates, he came forward cordially to take Cavendish's hand, and
then, opening the door of his private office, motioned him to enter
Glad to see you, he said steadily, as their hands met.
Once inside, the manner of both men changed as abruptly as it had
been assumed. The Lieutenant-Governor went slowly toward his desk, with
his head bent, and Cavendish, throwing himself into the nearest chair,
and, with no attempt at concealment, drew a flask from his pocket and
drank a long draught. He looked up to find that the Lieutenant-Governor
had wheeled at the desk, and was standing with his eyes fixed upon him.
Wait a minute, said Cavendish, as Barclay seemed about to speak.
We won't discuss this, for the moment, if you please.
He held up the flask with a shrug.
In fact we needn't discuss it at all, he continued. I've simply
gone to hell, that's all there is about it. I knew I would. I told you
so long ago. I didn't come here to make excusesor to receive rebukes,
John Barclay. I've a means here of settling the problem which can give
cards and spades to all your projects of reform. And he tapped his
pocket, where the cloth bulged slightly, with a smile. The
Lieutenant-Governor made no attempt to interrupt him.
What I did come to say, went on Cavendish, more steadily, is that
your life and Mr. Rathbawne's are in danger. You're to be put out of
the way, both of you, before twelve to-night. McGrath's determined on
it, and there's no lack of men to carry out his orders. The strikers
are desperate. I overheard their talk, whilewell, while I was getting
drunk! What's that?
He stopped, with his hand to his ear. Some one was tapping at the
Put up that flask! said Barclay under his breath, adding aloud, as
The door swung open softly, and Governor Abbott, smiling and rubbing
his hands, appeared upon the threshold.
I beg your pardon, Mr. Barclay, he said. I did not know you were
engaged. We have the pleasure of another visit from the Citizens'
Committee, and, by a singularly opportune coincidence, Mr. McGrath has
called at the same time. Can you spare us a few moments of your time?
With a bow, and a glance at Cavendish, Barclay followed his superior
silently from the room.
In the Governor's office he found a dozen men, all standing.
McGrath, with his back to the others, was examining with an elaborate
air of interest a map of Alleghenia which hung upon the wall. Colonel
Broadcastle and his fellow-members of the Citizens' Committee, stood
close to, and facing, the Governor's desk. The air was electric with
suggestion of a crisis about to come.
When the Governor began to speak, it was in his habitually suave
voice, yet he was visibly nervous.
Colonel Broadcastle has been good enough to observe, he said,
that if I do not call out the militia within three hours, to protect
the interests of Mr. Peter Rathbawne, his committee will appeal for aid
to the federal government. Nowernow, in my place, and in such a
situation, Mr. Barclayerwhat would you do?
The Lieutenant-Governor's nerve, strained beyond endurance by the
events of the past twenty-four hours, snapped like a dry twig at the
contemptuous hypocrisy of the other's tone.
Do! he thundereddo? Why, as God is my witness,
Elijah Abbott, if I were in your place I would do what any honest man
would do! I would do what my oath demanded of me! I would clap that man
McGrath into jail for iniquitous inciting to riot, and place Colonel
Broadcastle, at the head of his regiment, in charge of the city to
restore order and the reign of law, and to redeem Alleghenia from the
disgrace that is overwhelming her. Do? Before God, the Republic,
and the state, Governor Abbott, I would do my duty as a man!
Then do it!
The words, spoken from the threshold of Barclay's office, rent the
silence like a thunderclap, and before those present had time to turn,
there came the sound of a pistol-shot, and Governor Abbott, wheeling
slowly on his heels, crashed headforemost through the plate-glass
window behind him, and lay, limp and motionless, across the sill.
Then do it, by God, Governor Barclay! repeated Cavendish,
and flung his revolver into the centre of the room.
The apartment was already filled with those attracted from the
corridors and adjacent offices by the sound of the shot. Several seized
Cavendish, who stood without movement, smiling. Barclay, Colonel
Broadcastle, and the other members of the committee lifted the
Governor's body from the position in which it had fallen, and laid it
upon a couch. After a brief examination, the Colonel looked up into
He's dead, sir, he said. The assassin was right. You are Governor
For an instant, Barclay returned his glance with one of earnest
Even in the face of this tragedy, added Colonel Broadcastle in a
low voice, I trust you will not forget the exigencies of the
situation. It is for you to act, sir.
Barclay suddenly raised himself to his full height, and faced the
Gentlemen, he said firmly, the Governor is dead. For the moment,
at least, I act in his stead. Kenton City is under martial law. Those
who have the assassin in charge will see that he is immediately turned
over to the chief of police. Mr. McGrath, you will consider yourself
under arrest. Colonel Broadcastle, you will immediately assemble your
regiment at its armory, issue three days' rations, and twenty rounds of
ball cartridge, and hold yourself and your command in readiness for
riot duty, subject to my orders.
Then he faced Cavendish.
There's a message I'd like to have delivered, to the Fairy
Princess, said the latter, still smiling. It is that Diogenes has
eaten the ugly little bug.
XIV. THE VOICE OF ALLEGHENIA
As Barclay had foreseen, the adoption of stringent measures was all
that was needed to break the back-bone of the strike at the Rathbawne
Mills. The presence of the Ninth Regiment, under command of that noted
disciplinarian, Colonel Broadcastle, and terribly in earnest, as was
evinced by the ball cartridges gleaming in their belts, was sufficient
to discourage any further attempts at disorder; the sudden shift of
base of the newspapers which had formerly supported the rioters, and
now, taking their cue from the policy of the new Governor, counseled
immediate surrender; above all, the trial, conviction, and sentence of
their moving spirit, McGrath, to a term of years for inciting to
riotall were irresistible factors in the Union's capitulation. Two
weeks after the death of Governor Abbott, the Rathbawne Mills were
running once more, and Peter Rathbawne himself, though whiter of hair
and but a shadow of his old self, was, nevertheless, on the high road
The trial and conviction of Spencer Cavendish were accomplished with
unexampled celerity. He would admit of no defense, although the lawyer
appointed for him by the court was strenuous for a plea of insanity,
based upon the singular remark which he had made upon the announcement
of Elijah Abbott's death, and which was construed by those who heard it
as ample proof of irresponsibility. Called upon in court to give his
defense, Cavendish stated in a loud, clear voice that he was strictly
accountable for his act, that he was in full possession of his senses
at the time, and that he had killed the Governor in the firm conviction
that he was a menace to the safety of the community, and that the
latter's sole salvation lay in his removal, and the succession of the
Lieutenant-Governor to the position of chief executive.
I desire, he concluded, with the same odd smile that he had worn
at the moment of the Governor's death, nothing but the full penalty of
The next day Spencer Cavendish was sentenced to be executed on the
thirtieth of the following month at the State's Prison at Mowberly.
Then followed the most remarkable manifestation of popular sentiment
ever known in Alleghenia. As Barclay had once said of them, the
citizens of his long degraded state were less vicious than callous, and
their callousness was effectively cured by the dramatic event which had
removed a corrupt official from the head of the state government, and
put in his place a man whose first acts were proofs positive of
strength, integrity, and singleness of purpose. The revulsion of
feeling was overwhelming. Even the press which had sneered at and cried
down John Barclay was forced to the other extreme. Relieved from the
burden of lawlessness which had lain on Kenton City for close upon
three months, the citizens went over in a body to the support of their
new Governor. He was cheered on his every appearance in public as
assiduously as he had been ignored before, and, responding with the
whole force of his sensitive nature to this longed-for and unexpected
popularity, he devoted himself more and more earnestly, day by day, to
the welfare of the state which was his idol.
But following in the wake of this revulsion of feeling in favor of
Barclay came one, hardly less complete, in favor of Spencer Cavendish.
While strictly speaking there could be no condoning his act, it was
none the less evident to even the most rigid adherents of law that by
it he had conferred an indisputable benefit upon the state of
Alleghenia, and his open statement of his reasons at the time of his
trial militated for rather than against him. So it was that a public
petition was framed and circulated, asking, at the hands of Governor
Barclay, the commutation of the death sentence to one of life
imprisonment. Little by little the list of signatures grew, until, a
week before the date fixed for Cavendish's execution, they were
numbered by tens of thousands. Then the petition, rolled into a
cylinder, was presented to the Governor by a committee, and left for
To Barclay the intervening time had passed with almost incredible
rapidity. His days, filled as they were to overflowing with numberless
and complex duties, were yet the pleasantest he had ever known. At
last, he was what he had dreamed of beingan active factor, the most
active of all factors, in the advancement of his state. Redeemed, as if
by a miracle, from the disgrace which had laid her low, Alleghenia
arose, in his eyes, like a phoenix, throwing off the ashes of her
reproach, and blazing, with new wings of burnished beauty, in the
sunlight of hope and peace.
Barclay had retained his old office, not caring to make use of a
room so permeated with associations of recent tragedy as was that which
had formerly been Governor Abbott's. Now, with the windows open and the
soft May air stirring the papers on his desk, he sat, looking vacantly
across the room, with the huge petition spread out before him. His
attention, long absorbed by the problem in hand, was diverted by a tap
on the ante-room door, and, in answer to his call, Natalie Rathbawne
stood before him, smiling out of the exquisite daintiness of a fresh
You've forgotten! she said immediately, at sight of his knit
Forgotten what? inquired the Governor inadvisedly.
The girl's little foot stamped almost noiselessly upon the thick
Upon my word! she exclaimed, if there's one thing worse than
being engaged to the Lieutenant-Governor, it's being engaged to the
Governor himself! Forgotten, of course, that we are to lunch together,
and look at wall-papers afterwards! Do you know, John Barclay, I don't
believe you mean to marry me, after all? We'll be just approaching the
She was interrupted in characteristic fashion, and disengaged
herself, with a great air of indignation, from Barclay's arms.
If you want to take lunch in the company of a rag carpet, she said
severely, that's the very best way to go about it. Get your hat.
There was a little pause as Barclay filed some papers in his private
safe, and then one startled word from the girl.
Wheeling abruptly, he saw her standing at the desk, with her hand on
the petition, and her eyes, wide and wonderstruck, searching his face.
Dearest! he said impulsively, I wish you hadn't.
But Natalie only laughed joyfully.
But I'm glad, Johnny boy, she answered, gladgladglad! What a
wonderful thing it is to be Governor, boy dear! I don't think I ever
really understood before. Think of it! To have the power of life and
deathto be able to right the wrongs of justice with a single stroke
of the pen. Oh, John! Sign it nowbefore we go. I shall be so much
The Governor made no reply. He stood, with his head bent, smoothing
his hat with the fingers of his right hand. Gradually the expression of
eager expectation on her face changed to one of anxiety.
John, she said in a half whisper, you are going to sign
it, aren't you, boy dear?
I'm not sure, faltered the Governor. I'm not quite sure, dearest.
It is the hardest problem I've ever had given me to solve. I can
understand now the meaning of something your father said to me just
before the strike,that, for the first time in his life, he didn't
know what to do, because right seemed to be hopelessly entangled with
wrong, and wrong with right. When a man does evil in order that good
may come, one tries to find an excuse for him, tries to palliate his
offense in any reasonable way. That is human instinct. That is what
accounts for the petition there, with the signatures of many of the
most conscientious men in Alleghenia attached. They have managed to
find the excuse, or they think they have, which, so far as their
personal convictions are concerned, amounts to about the same thing.
And I've been saying to myself that when public opinion points out a
course as justifiable it can hardly be possible for a single individual
to say that it is not. And yet the wrong is there, isn't it? No matter
how confused a question may seem to us, there must absolutely, when we
come to think of it, be some one great elemental principle upon which
it not only can, but must, be decidedsome boundary line between
justice and injustice which we may be too blind to see, but which
exists, and calls for observance, none the less. Right is right, wrong
is wrong. No confusion between the two can possibly exist except in
appearance. Strive to elude truth as we will, it remains eternal truth,
and cannot be evaded in the end. And where it seems to be beyond us,
all we can do is to strive to find the silken thread which will surely
lead us out of the labyrinth into the searching light of day. It is
that clue which I have been groping for. What is it? How am I to know
it when I see it? What am I to do? At first I thought the case was
clearwhat he said, you knowabout Diogenesit seemed so oddevery
one thought soit might be construed asas insanity
Oh, no, John! Why, we know what that meant! Nono!
The best part of it all was his sanity, his wonderful courage, his
braving of almost certain death for what he believedand knew, John
knew to be right and best. Think what he did for Alleghenia, Johnny
boy. He has been almost as great an instrument in her salvation as you.
Think what he has done for all of usfor you, in giving you this
opportunityfor mefor Dad! John, how can you hesitate?
The Governor shook his head.
Dearest, he said, you're on the wrong track, just as I have been,
a dozen times since the petition came. Don't you suppose I've thought
of all that? Its significance, not only to me, but, as you say, to the
state, is so tremendous that, at the first glance, it seems to be an
unanswerable argument. Butdon't you see?no sophistry, no
contemplation of the results achieved, can ever make it justifiable for
a man to arrogate to himself the power of taking human life, which is
the prerogative of God and the law alone. The peculiar circumstances of
Cavendish's crime plead eloquently, almost irresistibly, for his
pardon. He has saved the stateyes! But the case is one in a million,
and it is not an individual case alone which hangs upon my
decision,it is the establishment of a precedent, the maintenance of a
But, John, broke in Natalie eagerly, what you've just saidisn't
that the clue for which you have been groping? He saved the state! I've
heard you talk of Alleghenia too often, of what you hoped for her, and
what you despaired of ever bringing to pass, not to know what those
four words must mean to you. Think of it! He saved the state!
Without any possibility of selfish object he did this extraordinary
thingmade it possible for Alleghenia to win back the honor and
respect she had so nearly lost forever! He killed the man who had no
thought of her purity and dignity, who used the power the people had
given him for the furtherance of his own selfish and wicked ends, who
made her justice a mockery, who played with her law as if
Stop! exclaimed the Governor. StopI must think. Wait a moment.
I must thinkI must think!
After a minute he began to speak again, this time in a lower tone, a
tone which suggested self-communion rather than direct address to the
girl before him.
Yes, that's it. Wait now,let me be sure! He killed the man who
had no thought of Alleghenia's purity, who used his power to serve his
own ends, who made her justicehe was speaking very slowly, dwelling
on each word as it left his lipsher justice a mockery, who
played with her lawher lawher Law
He paused once more, his brows knit, his firm hand slowly stroking
his chin. Then, of a sudden, he drew a deep breath, flung back his
shoulders, and looked at her. His eyes were blazing, his voice touched
with a new meaning, an eloquence deep, firm, conclusive.
Natalie, he said, come here.
You've struck the keynote, he added, when they stood face to face,
a foot or two apart. It isn't what you thought, or what you meant, but
it is the keynote, just the same. The Law!
He wheeled slowly, and stepped forward, until he was directly before
the emblazoned arms of Alleghenia which hung upon his wall.
JustitiaLexIntegritas! he said. Many a time, when the
way seemed darkest, I've read those words over to myself, and found
hope in them. Events changed, crises came and went, portents loomed
thick, despair seemed omnipotent, failure and disgrace inevitablebut
the motto of Alleghenia remained the same. Steadfast, purposeful, and
commanding, it has endured through the trivial changes of political
significance which have been as impotent to sully the actuality of her
fair fame as are sun-spots to dim the radiance of the sun. It is only
natural, perhaps, that the discouragements which were but transient
should have seemed to me to be vital, damning, irremediable. Just as
the Israelites of old turned from the promises of God to worship Baal,
so have I turned from the assurance given me by these arms of
Alleghenia, to prostrate myself before false idols of doubt and
despair. I should have remembered how they called me, in the first
instance, from a life of idleness and ease, to fight my way through the
desert of difficulty, toward the promised land of honor. I should have
remembered how in my darkest hours they went before me as a pillar of
fire, how in the famine of my soul these words were the manna of
encouragement, how in my thirst they struck clear water from the rock
of adverse circumstance. But the Israelites came back to their true God
at last; so I, little girl, to my true ideal. The Law!you said the
wordthe Law is the clue, the keynote, the boundary between right and
She was at his side, and he slipped one arm around her, and held her
close to him as with his finger he traced again the motto of
Do you know what this means? he asked. Justitia,to be
just to all men, without fear or favor, lenient to our enemies, rigid
and unyielding, if need be, to our friends; putting aside personal
considerations, striving so far as in us lies to be impartial, merciful
in the face of prejudice, relentless in that of convictionfair!
Lex,to abide by the law, in spirit only if our inmost conviction
warrants that course, but in letter absolutely where there is the
smallest hint of doubt; secure in the knowledge that, however fallible
it be, it is the best that man has yet been able to do in imitation of
the immutable decrees of God. Integritas,to be true to the
oaths we have sworn, faithful to the promises we have made, loyal to
the office intrusted to us by the people, to whom and for whom we are
responsible. Dearest, I am no mere man. Were I that, were I to consult
my will alone, and it lay, as now it lies, in my power to accomplish,
Spencer Cavendish should go free to-day. I know what he has done; I
appreciate his sacrifice; I see that by a single act he has
accomplished what the rest of us were powerless to cure; I admire his
courage; I condone his crime; I could forget all his weaknesses for the
sake of this one great evidence of his strength. And yetlisten to me,
dearest!in what he strove to do he has failed utterly, if in removing
a corrupt official who made a mockery of Alleghenia's law he has not
replaced him by one who with all the force of his conscience and all
the power of his influence will see that law administered. And whatever
we may say of his crime, whatever its causes, whatever its wonderful
results, it was and is a crime. 'Thou shalt not kill!' God has said it;
Alleghenia by the voice of her law has ratified it. And not even the
fact that Cavendish has made possible all my fondest and worthiest
hopes, the fact that he has rescued from suffering all I hold most
Barclay suddenly covered his face with his free hand, as he had
covered it on that afternoon in Peter Rathbawne's library, weeks
before; then he looked up again, his lips trembling.
Dearest, he said, I am Governor of Alleghenia, and as such owe an
allegiance, an obedience, which personal prejudice cannot impugn. On
the day when you spoke to me of meeting Cavendish you pointed out the
course of a gentleman and a friend. On the night of the Ninth's review
you taught me the creed of an American and an Alleghenian.
To-dayunconsciously perhaps, but none the less surelyyou have made
clear the duty of a public servant. God bless you, my life, my heart,
my conscience! May I be worthy of you and of the commonwealth I serve.
Where I doubted before, now I am sure. It is hardGod only knows how
hardbut listen to Alleghenia's bidding! Justitia, Lex,
Integritas,equity, the code, and good faith, in the sight of God
and man, heaven and earth, the American people and the commonwealth of
Alleghenia. God save the state!
John, whispered the girl brokenly,John, you're right. God save
Slowly, tenderly, the Governor of Alleghenia led her back to the
table, and taking up a pen, with a firm hand wrote five words, heavily
underscored, at the head of the Cavendish petition. And these were:
John Hamilton Barclay,
Then, turning to the girl who loved him, he took her in his arms.