The Lion and the Mouse
by Charles Klein
A Story of an American Life
Novelized from the play by
"Judges and Senates have been bought for gold;
Love and esteem have never been sold."
There was unwonted bustle in the usually sleepy and dignified New
York offices of the Southern and Transcontinental Railroad Company in
lower Broadway. The supercilious, well-groomed clerks who, on ordinary
days, are far too preoccupied with their own personal affairs to
betray the slightest interest in anything not immediately concerning
them, now condescended to bestir themselves and, gathered in little
groups, conversed in subdued, eager tones. The slim, nervous fingers
of half a dozen haughty stenographers, representing as many different
types of business femininity, were busily rattling the keys of
clicking typewriters, each of their owners intent on reducing with all
possible despatch the mass of letters which lay piled up in front of
her. Through the heavy plate-glass swinging doors, leading to the
elevators and thence to the street, came and went an army of
messengers and telegraph boys, noisy and insolent. Through the open
windows the hoarse shouting of news-venders, the rushing of elevated
trains, the clanging of street cars, with the occasional feverish dash
of an ambulance—all these familiar noises of a great city had the
far- away sound peculiar to top floors of the modern sky-scraper. The
day was warm and sticky, as is not uncommon in early May, and the
overcast sky and a distant rumbling of thunder promised rain before
The big express elevators, running smoothly and swiftly, unloaded
every few moments a number of prosperous-looking men who, chatting
volubly and affably, made their way immediately through the outer
offices towards another and larger inner office on the glass door of
which was the legend "Directors Room. Private." Each comer gave a
patronizing nod in recognition of the deferential salutation of the
clerks. Earlier arrivals had preceded them, and as they opened the
door there issued from the Directors Room a confused murmur of voices,
each different in pitch and tone, some deep and deliberate, others
shrill and nervous, but all talking earnestly and with animation as
men do when the subject under discussion is of common interest. Now
and again a voice was heard high above the others, denoting anger in
the speaker, followed by the pleading accents of the peace-maker, who
was arguing his irate colleague into calmness. At intervals the door
opened to admit other arrivals, and through the crack was caught a
glimpse of a dozen directors, some seated, some standing near a long
table covered with green baize.
It was the regular quarterly meeting of the directors of the
Southern and Transcontinental Railroad Company, but it was something
more than mere routine that had called out a quorum of such strength
and which made to-day's gathering one of extraordinary importance in
the history of the road. That the business on hand was of the greatest
significance was easily to be inferred from the concerned and anxious
expression on the directors' faces and the eagerness of the employes
as they plied each other with questions.
"Suppose the injunction is sustained?" asked a clerk in a whisper.
"Is not the road rich enough to bear the loss?"
The man he addressed turned impatiently to the questioner: "That's
all you know about railroading. Don't you understand that this suit
we have lost will be the entering wedge for hundreds of others. The
very existence of the road may be at stake. And between you and me,"
he added in a lower key, "with Judge Rossmore on the bench we never
stood much show. It's Judge Rossmore that scares 'em, not the
injunction. They've found it easy to corrupt most of the Supreme Court
judges, but Judge Rossmore is one too many for them. You could no more
bribe him than you could have bribed Abraham Lincoln."
"But the newspapers say that he, too, has been caught accepting
$50,000 worth of stock for that decision he rendered in the Great
"Lies! All those stories are lies," replied the other
emphatically. Then looking cautiously around to make sure no one
overheard, he added contemptuously, "The big interests fear him, and
they're inventing these lies to try and injure him. They might as well
try to blow up Gibraltar. The fact is the public is seriously aroused
this time and the railroads are in a panic."
It was true. The railroad, which heretofore had considered itself
superior to law, had found itself checked in its career of outlawry
and oppression. The railroad, this modern octopus of steam and steel
which stretches its greedy tentacles out over the land, had at last
been brought to book.
At first, when the country was in the earlier stages of its
development, the railroad appeared in the guise of a public
benefactor. It brought to the markets of the East the produce of the
South and West. It opened up new and inaccessible territory and made
oases of waste places. It brought to the city coal, lumber, food and
other prime necessaries of life, taking back to the farmer and the
woodsman in exchange, clothes and other manufactured goods. Thus,
little by little, the railroad wormed itself into the affections of
the people and gradually became an indispensable part of the life it
had itself created. Tear up the railroad and life itself is
So when the railroad found it could not be dispensed with, it grew
dissatisfied with the size of its earnings. Legitimate profits were
not enough. Its directors cried out for bigger dividends, and from
then on the railroad became a conscienceless tyrant, fawning on those
it feared and crushing without mercy those who were defenceless. It
raised its rates for hauling freight, discriminating against certain
localities without reason or justice, and favouring other points where
its own interests lay. By corrupting government officials and other
unlawful methods it appropriated lands, and there was no escape from
its exactions and brigandage. Other roads were built, and for a brief
period there was held out the hope of relief that invariably comes
from honest competition. But the railroad either absorbed its rivals
or pooled interests with them, and thereafter there were several
masters instead of one.
Soon the railroads began to war among themselves, and in a mad
scramble to secure business at any price they cut each other's rates
and unlawfully entered into secret compacts with certain big shippers,
permitting the latter to enjoy lower freight rates than their
competitors. The smaller shippers were soon crushed out of existence
in this way. Competition was throttled and prices went up, making the
railroad barons richer and the people poorer. That was the beginning
of the giant Trusts, the greatest evil American civilization has yet
produced, and one which, unless checked, will inevitably drag this
country into the throes of civil strife.
From out of this quagmire of corruption and rascality emerged the
Colossus, a man so stupendously rich and with such unlimited powers
for evil that the world has never looked upon his like. The famous
Croesus, whose fortune was estimated at only eight millions in our
money, was a pauper compared with John Burkett Ryder, whose holdings
no man could count, but which were approximately estimated at a
thousand millions of dollars. The railroads had created the Trust, the
ogre of corporate greed, of which Ryder was the incarnation, and in
time the Trust became master of the railroads, which after all seemed
but retributive justice.
John Burkett Ryder, the richest man in the world—the man whose
name had spread to the farthest corners of the earth because of his
wealth, and whose money, instead of being a blessing, promised to
become not only a curse to himself but a source of dire peril to all
mankind—was a genius born of the railroad age. No other age could
have brought him forth; his peculiar talents fitted exactly the
conditions of his time. Attracted early in life to the newly
discovered oil fields of Pennsylvania, he became a dealer in the raw
product and later a refiner, acquiring with capital, laboriously
saved, first one refinery, then another. The railroads were cutting
each other's throats to secure the freight business of the oil men,
and John Burkett Ryder saw his opportunity. He made secret overtures
to the road, guaranteeing a vast amount of business if he could get
exceptionally low rates, and the illegal compact was made. His
competitors, undersold in the market, stood no chance, and one by one
they were crushed out of existence. Ryder called these manouvres
"business"; the world called them brigandage. But the Colossus
prospered and slowly built up the foundations of the extraordinary
fortune which is the talk and the wonder of the world today. Master
now of the oil situation, Ryder succeeded in his ambition of
organizing the Empire Trading Company, the most powerful, the most
secretive, and the most wealthy business institution the commercial
world has yet known.
Yet with all this success John Burkett Ryder was still not
content. He was now a rich man, richer by many millions that he had
dreamed he could ever be, but still he was unsatisfied. He became
money mad. He wanted to be richer still, to be the richest man in the
world, the richest man the world had ever known. And the richer he got
the stronger the idea grew upon him with all the force of a morbid
obsession. He thought of money by day, he dreamt of it at night. No
matter by what questionable device it was to be procured, more gold
and more must flow into his already overflowing coffers. So each day,
instead of spending the rest of his years in peace, in the enjoyment
of the wealth he had accumulated, he went downtown like any
twenty-dollar-a-week clerk to the tall building in lower Broadway and,
closeted with his associates, toiled and plotted to make more money.
He acquired vast copper mines and secured control of this and that
railroad. He had invested heavily in the Southern and
Transcontinental road and was chairman of its board of directors.
Then he and his fellow-conspirators planned a great financial coup.
The millions were not coming in fast enough. They must make a hundred
millions at one stroke. They floated a great mining company to which
the public was invited to subscribe. The scheme having the endorsement
of the Empire Trading Company no one suspected a snare, and such was
the magic of John Ryder's name that gold flowed in from every point of
the compass. The stock sold away above par the day it was issued. Men
deemed themselves fortunate if they were even granted an allotment.
What matter if, a few days later, the house of cards came tumbling
down, and a dozen suicides were strewn along Wall Street, that
sinister thoroughfare which, as a wit has said, has a graveyard at one
end and the river at the other! Had Ryder any twinges of conscience?
Hardly. Had he not made a cool twenty millions by the deal?
Yet this commercial pirate, this Napoleon of finance, was not a
wholly bad man. He had his redeeming qualities, like most bad men.
His most pronounced weakness, and the one that had made him the most
conspicuous man of his time, was an entire lack of moral principle. No
honest or honourable man could have amassed such stupendous wealth. In
other words, John Ryder had not been equipped by Nature with a
conscience. He had no sense of right, or wrong, or justice where his
own interests were concerned. He was the prince of egoists. On the
other hand, he possessed qualities which, with some people, count as
virtues. He was pious and regular in his attendance at church and,
while he had done but little for charity, he was known to have
encouraged the giving of alms by the members of his family, which
consisted of a wife, whose timid voice was rarely heard, and a son
Jefferson, who was the destined successor to his gigantic estate.
Such was the man who was the real power behind the Southern and
Transcontinental Railroad. More than anyone else Ryder had been
aroused by the present legal action, not so much for the money
interest at stake as that any one should dare to thwart his will. It
had been a pet scheme of his, this purchase for a song, when the land
was cheap, of some thousand acres along the line, and it is true that
at the time of the purchase there had been some idea of laying the
land out as a park. But real estate values had increased in
astonishing fashion, the road could no longer afford to carry out the
original scheme, and had attempted to dispose of the property for
building purposes, including a right of way for a branch road. The
news, made public in the newspapers, had raised a storm of protest.
The people in the vicinity claimed that the railroad secured the land
on the express condition of a park being laid out, and in order to
make a legal test they had secured an injunction, which had been
sustained by Judge Rossmore of the United States Circuit Court.
These details were hastily told and re-told by one clerk to
another as the babel of voices in the inner room grew louder, and
more directors kept arriving from the ever-busy elevators. The
meeting was called for three o'clock. Another five minutes and the
chairman would rap for order. A tall, strongly built man with white
moustache and kindly smile emerged from the directors room and,
addressing one of the clerks, asked:
"Has Mr. Ryder arrived yet?"
The alacrity with which the employe hastened forward to reply
would indicate that his interlocutor was a person of more than
"No, Senator, not yet. We expect him any minute." Then with a
deferential smile he added: "Mr. Ryder usually arrives on the stroke,
The senator gave a nod of acquiescence and, turning on his heel,
greeted with a grasp of the hand and affable smile his fellow-
directors as they passed in by twos and threes.
Senator Roberts was in the world of politics what his friend John
Burkett Ryder was in the world of finance—a leader of men. He
started life in Wisconsin as an errand boy, was educated in the
public schools, and later became clerk in a dry-goods store, finally
going into business for his own account on a large scale. He was
elected to the Legislature, where his ability as an organizer soon
gained the friendship of the men in power, and later was sent to
Congress, where he was quickly initiated in the game of corrupt
politics. In 1885 he entered the United States Senate. He soon became
the acknowledged leader of a considerable majority of the Republican
senators, and from then on he was a figure to be reckoned with. A very
ambitious man, with a great love of power and few scruples, it is
little wonder that only the practical or dishonest side of politics
appealed to him. He was in politics for all there was in it, and he
saw in his lofty position only a splendid opportunity for easy graft.
He did not hesitate to make such alliances with corporate
interests seeking influence at Washington as would enable him to
accomplish this purpose, and in this way he had met and formed a
strong friendship with John Burkett Ryder. Each being a master in his
own field was useful to the other. Neither was troubled with qualms of
conscience, so they never quarrelled. If the Ryder interests needed
anything in the Senate, Roberts and his followers were there to attend
to it. Just now the cohort was marshalled in defence of the railroads
against the attacks of the new Rebate bill. In fact, Ryder managed to
keep the Senate busy all the time. When, on the other hand, the
senators wanted anything—and they often did—Ryder saw that they got
it, lower rates for this one, a fat job for that one, not forgetting
themselves. Senator Roberts was already a very rich man, and although
the world often wondered where he got it, no one had the courage to
But the Republican leader was stirred with an ambition greater
than that of controlling a majority in the Senate. He had a daughter,
a marriageable young woman who, at least in her father's opinion,
would make a desirable wife for any man. His friend Ryder had a son,
and this son was the only heir to the greatest fortune ever amassed by
one man, a fortune which, at its present rate of increase, by the time
the father died and the young couple were ready to inherit, would
probably amount to over SIX BILLIONS OF DOLLARS. Could the human mind
grasp the possibilities of such a colossal fortune? It staggered the
imagination. Its owner, or the man who controlled it, would be master
of the world! Was not this a prize any man might well set himself out
to win? The senator was thinking of it now as he stood exchanging
banal remarks with the men who accosted him. If he could only bring
off that marriage he would be content. The ambition of his life would
be attained. There was no difficulty as far as John Ryder was
concerned. He favoured the match and had often spoken of it. Indeed,
Ryder desired it, for such an alliance would naturally further his
business interests in every way. Roberts knew that his daughter Kate
had more than a liking for Ryder's handsome young son. Moreover, Kate
was practical, like her father, and had sense enough to realize what
it would mean to be the mistress of the Ryder fortune. No, Kate was
all right, but there was young Ryder to reckon with. It would take two
in this case to make a bargain.
Jefferson Ryder was, in truth, an entirely different man from his
father. It was difficult to realize that both had sprung from the
same stock. A college-bred boy with all the advantages his father's
wealth could give him, he had inherited from the parent only those
characteristics which would have made him successful even if born
poor—activity, pluck, application, dogged obstinacy, alert mentality.
To these qualities he added what his father sorely lacked—a high
notion of honour, a keen sense of right and wrong. He had the honest
man's contempt for meanness of any description, and he had little
patience with the lax so-called business morals of the day. For him a
dishonourable or dishonest action could have no apologist, and he
could see no difference between the crime of the hungry wretch who
stole a loaf of bread and the coal baron who systematically robbed
both his employes and the public. In fact, had he been on the bench he
would probably have acquitted the human derelict who, in despair, had
appropriated the prime necessary of life, and sent the over-fed,
conscienceless coal baron to jail.
"Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." This simple
and fundamental axiom Jefferson Ryder had adopted early in life, and
it had become his religion—the only one, in fact, that he had. He was
never pious like his father, a fact much regretted by his mother, who
could see nothing but eternal damnation in store for her son because
he never went to church and professed no orthodox creed. She knew him
to be a good lad, but to her simple mind a conduct of life based
merely on a system of moral philosophy was the worst kind of paganism.
There could, she argued, be no religion, and assuredly no salvation,
outside the dogmatic teachings of the Church. But otherwise Jefferson
was a model son and, with the exception of this bad habit of thinking
for himself on religious matters, really gave her no anxiety. When
Jefferson left college, his father took him into the Empire Trading
Company with the idea of his eventually succeeding him as head of the
concern, but the different views held by father and son on almost
every subject soon led to stormy scenes that made the continuation of
the arrangement impossible. Senator Roberts was well aware of these
unfortunate independent tendencies in John Ryder's son, and while he
devoutly desired the consummation of Jefferson's union with his
daughter, he quite realized that the young man was a nut which was
going to be exceedingly hard to crack.
"Hello, senator, you're always on time!"
Disturbed in his reflections, Senator Roberts looked up and saw
the extended hand of a red-faced, corpulent man, one of the
directors. He was no favourite with the senator, but the latter was
too keen a man of the world to make enemies uselessly, so he
condescended to place two fingers in the outstretched fat palm.
"How are you, Mr. Grimsby? Well, what are we going to do about
this injunction? The case has gone against us. I knew Judge
Rossmore's decision would be for the other side. Public opinion is
aroused. The press—"
Mr. Grimsby's red face grew more apoplectic as he blurted out:
"Public opinion and the press be d—-d. Who cares for public
opinion? What is public opinion, anyhow? This road can manage its own
affairs or it can't. If it can't I for one quit railroading. The
press! Pshaw! It's all graft, I tell you. It's nothing but a strike! I
never knew one of these virtuous outbursts that wasn't. First the
newspapers bark ferociously to advertise themselves; then they crawl
round and whine like a cur. And it usually costs something to fix
The senator smiled grimly.
"No, no, Grimsby—not this time. It's more serious than that.
Hitherto the road has been unusually lucky in its bench decisions- -"
The senator gave a covert glance round to see if any long ears
were listening. Then he added:
"We can't expect always to get a favourable decision like that in
the Cartwright case, when franchise rights valued at nearly five
millions were at stake. Judge Stollmann proved himself a true friend
in that affair."
Grimsby made a wry grimace as he retorted:
"Yes, and it was worth it to him. A Supreme Court judge don't get
a cheque for $20,000 every day. That represents two years' pay."
"It might represent two years in jail if it were found out," said
the senator with a forced laugh.
Grimsby saw an opportunity, and he could not resist the
temptation. Bluntly he said:
"As far as jail's concerned, others might be getting their deserts
The senator looked keenly at Grimsby from under his white
eyebrows. Then in a calm, decisive tone he replied:
"It's no question of a cheque this time. The road could not buy
Judge Rossmore with $200,000. He is absolutely unapproachable in that
The apoplectic face of Mr. Grimsby looked incredulous.
It was hard for these men who plotted in the dark, and cheated the
widow and the orphan for love of the dollar, to understand that there
were in the world, breathing the same air as they, men who put honour,
truth and justice above mere money-getting. With a slight tinge of
sarcasm he asked:
"Is there any man in our public life who is unapproachable from
some direction or other?"
"Yes, Judge Rossmore is such a man. He is one of the few men in
American public life who takes his duties seriously. In the strictest
sense of the term, he serves his country instead of serving himself. I
am no friend of his, but I must do him that justice."
He spoke sharply, in an irritated tone, as if resenting the
insinuation of this vulgarian that every man in public life had his
price. Roberts knew that the charge was true as far as he and the men
he consorted with were concerned, but sometimes the truth hurts. That
was why he had for a moment seemed to champion Judge Rossmore, which,
seeing that the judge himself was at that very moment under a cloud,
was an absurd thing for him to do.
He had known Rossmore years before when the latter was a city
magistrate in New York. That was before he, Roberts, had become a
political grafter and when the decent things in life still appealed
to him. The two men, although having few interests in common, had seen
a good deal of one another until Roberts went to Washington when their
relations were completely severed. But he had always watched
Rossmore's career, and when he was made a judge of the Supreme Court
at a comparatively early age he was sincerely glad. If anything could
have convinced Roberts that success can come in public life to a man
who pursues it by honest methods it was the success of James Rossmore.
He could never help feeling that Rossmore had been endowed by Nature
with certain qualities which had been denied to him, above all that
ability to walk straight through life with skirts clean which he had
found impossible himself. To-day Judge Rossmore was one of the most
celebrated judges in the country. He was a brilliant jurist and a
splendid after-dinner speaker. He was considered the most learned and
able of all the members of the judiciary, and his decisions were noted
as much for their fearlessness as for their wisdom. But what was far
more, he enjoyed a reputation for absolute integrity. Until now no
breath of slander, no suspicion of corruption, had ever touched him.
Even his enemies acknowledged that. And that is why there was a panic
to-day among the directors of the Southern and Transcontinental
Railroad. This honest, upright man had been called upon in the course
of his duty to decide matters of vital importance to the road, and the
directors were ready to stampede because, in their hearts, they knew
the weakness of their case and the strength of the judge.
Grimsby, unconvinced, returned to the charge.
"What about these newspaper charges? Did Judge Rossmore take a
bribe from the Great Northwestern or didn't he? You ought to know."
"I do know," answered the senator cautiously and somewhat curtly,
"but until Mr. Ryder arrives I can say nothing. I believe he has been
inquiring into the matter. He will tell us when he comes."
The hands of the large clock in the outer room pointed to three.
An active, dapper little man with glasses and with books under his
arm passed hurriedly from another office into the directors room.
"There goes Mr. Lane with the minutes. The meeting is called.
Where's Mr. Ryder?"
There was a general move of the scattered groups of directors
toward the committee room. The clock overhead began to strike. The
last stroke had not quite died away when the big swinging doors from
the street were thrown open and there entered a tall, thin man,
gray-headed, and with a slight stoop, but keen eyed and alert. He was
carefully dressed in a well-fitting frock coat, white waistcoat, black
tie and silk hat.
It was John Burkett Ryder, the Colossus.
At fifty-six, John Burkett Ryder was surprisingly well preserved.
With the exception of the slight stoop, already noted, and the
rapidly thinning snow-white hair, his step was as light and elastic,
and his brain as vigorous and alert, as in a man of forty. Of old
English stock, his physical make-up presented all those strongly
marked characteristics of our race which, sprung from Anglo-Saxon
ancestry, but modified by nearly 300 years of different climate and
customs, has gradually produced the distinct and true American type,
as easily recognizable among the family of nations as any other of the
earth's children. Tall and distinguished-looking, Ryder would have
attracted attention anywhere. Men who have accomplished much in life
usually bear plainly upon their persons the indefinable stamp of
achievement, whether of good or evil, which renders them conspicuous
among their fellows. We turn after a man in the street and ask, Who is
he? And nine times out of ten the object of our curiosity is a man
who has made his mark—a successful soldier, a famous sailor, a
celebrated author, a distinguished lawyer, or even a notorious crook.
There was certainly nothing in John Ryder's outward appearance to
justify Lombroso's sensational description of him: "A social and
physiological freak, a degenerate and a prodigy of turpitude who, in
the pursuit of money, crushes with the insensibility of a steel
machine everyone who stands in his way." On the contrary, Ryder,
outwardly at least, was a prepossessing-looking man. His head was
well-shaped, and he had an intellectual brow, while power was
expressed in every gesture of his hands and body. Every inch of him
suggested strength and resourcefulness. His face, when in good humour,
frequently expanded in a pleasant smile, and he had even been known to
laugh boisterously, usually at his own stories, which he rightly
considered very droll, and of which he possessed a goodly stock. But
in repose his face grew stern and forbidding, and when his prognathous
jaw, indicative of will-power and bull- dog tenacity, snapped to with
a click-like sound, those who heard it knew that squalls were coming.
But it was John Ryder's eyes that were regarded as the most
reliable barometer of his mental condition. Wonderful eyes they were,
strangely eloquent and expressive, and their most singular feature was
that they possessed the uncanny power of changing colour like a cat's.
When their owner was at peace with the world, and had temporarily
shaken off the cares of business, his eyes were of the most restful,
beautiful blue, like the sky after sunrise on a Spring morning, and
looking into their serene depths it seemed absurd to think that this
man could ever harm a fly. His face, while under the spell of this
kindly mood, was so benevolent and gentle, so frank and honest that
you felt there was nothing in the world—purse, honour, wife,
child—that, if needs be, you would not entrust to his keeping.
When this period of truce was ended, when the plutocrat was once
more absorbed in controlling the political as well as the commercial
machinery of the nation, then his eyes took on a snakish, greenish
hue, and one could plainly read in them the cunning, the
avariciousness, the meanness, the insatiable thirst for gain that had
made this man the most unscrupulous money-getter of his time. But his
eyes had still another colour, and when this last transformation took
place those dependent on him, and even his friends, quaked with fear.
For they were his eyes of anger. On these dreaded occasions his eyes
grew black as darkest night and flashed fire as lightning rends the
thundercloud. Almost ungovernable fury was, indeed, the weakest spot
in John Ryder's armour, for in these moments of appalling wrath he was
reckless of what he said or did, friendship, self-interest,
prudence—all were sacrificed.
Such was the Colossus on whom all eyes were turned as he entered.
Instantly the conversations, stopped as by magic. The directors
nudged each other and whispered. Instinctively, Ryder singled out his
crony, Senator Roberts, who advanced with effusive gesture:
"You're punctual as usual, Mr. Ryder. I never knew you to be
The great man chuckled, and the little men standing around,
listening breathlessly, chuckled in respectful sympathy, and they
elbowed and pushed one another in their efforts to attract Ryder's
notice, like so many cowardly hyenas not daring to approach the
lordly wolf. Senator Roberts made a remark in a low tone to Ryder,
whereupon the latter laughed. The bystanders congratulated each other
silently. The great man was pleased to be in a good humour. And as
Ryder turned with the senator to enter the Directors Room the light
from the big windows fell full on his face, and they noticed that his
eyes were of the softest blue.
"No squalls to-day," whispered one.
"Wait and see," retorted a more experienced colleague. "Those eyes
are more fickle than the weather."
Outside the sky was darkening, and drops of rain were already
falling. A flash of lightning presaged the coming storm.
Ryder passed on and into the Directors Room followed by Senator
Roberts and the other directors, the procession being brought up by
the dapper little secretary bearing the minutes.
The long room with its narrow centre table covered with green
baize was filled with directors scattered in little groups and all
talking at once with excited gesture. At the sight of Ryder the
chattering stopped as if by common consent, and the only sound
audible was of the shuffling of feet and the moving of chairs as the
directors took their places around the long table.
With a nod here and there Ryder took his place in the chairman's
seat and rapped for order. Then at a sign from the chair the dapper
little secretary began in a monotonous voice to read the minutes of
the previous meeting. No one listened, a few directors yawned. Others
had their eyes riveted on Ryder's face, trying to read there if he had
devised some plan to offset the crushing blow of this adverse
decision, which meant a serious loss to them all. He, the master mind,
had served them in many a like crisis in the past. Could he do so
again? But John Ryder gave no sign. His eyes, still of the same
restful blue, were fixed on the ceiling watching a spider marching
with diabolical intent on a wretched fly that had become entangled in
its web. And as the secretary ambled monotonously on, Ryder watched
and watched until he saw the spider seize its helpless prey and devour
it. Fascinated by the spectacle, which doubtless suggested to him some
analogy to his own methods, Ryder sat motionless, his eyes fastened on
the ceiling, until the sudden stopping of the secretary's reading
aroused him and told him that the minutes were finished. Quickly they
were approved, and the chairman proceeded as rapidly as possible with
the regular business routine. That disposed of, the meeting was ready
for the chief business of the day. Ryder then calmly proceeded to
present the facts in the case.
Some years back the road had acquired as an investment some
thousands of acres of land located in the outskirts of Auburndale, on
the line of their road. The land was bought cheap, and there had been
some talk of laying part of it out as a public park. This promise had
been made at the time in good faith, but it was no condition of the
sale. If, afterwards, owing to the rise in the value of real estate,
the road found it impossible to carry out the original idea, surely
they were masters of their own property! The people of Auburndale
thought differently and, goaded on by the local newspapers, had begun
action in the courts to restrain the road from diverting the land from
its alleged original purpose. They had succeeded in getting the
injunction, but the road had fought it tooth and nail, and finally
carried it to the Supreme Court, where Judge Rossmore, after reserving
his opinion, had finally sustained the injunction and decided against
the railroad. That was the situation, and he would now like to hear
from the members of the board.
Mr. Grimsby rose. Self-confident and noisily loquacious, as most
men of his class are in simple conversation, he was plainly
intimidated at speaking before such a crowd. He did not know where to
look nor what to do with his hands, and he shuffled uneasily on his
feet, while streams of nervous perspiration ran down his fat face,
which he mopped repeatedly with a big coloured handkerchief. At last,
taking courage, he began:
"Mr. Chairman, for the past ten years this road has made bigger
earnings in proportion to its carrying capacity than any other
railroad in the United States. We have had fewer accidents, less
injury to rolling stock, less litigation and bigger dividends. The
road has been well managed and"—here he looked significantly in
Ryder's direction—"there has been a big brain behind the manager. We
owe you that credit, Mr. Ryder!"
Cries of "Hear! Hear!" came from all round the table.
Ryder bowed coldly, and Mr. Grimsby continued: "But during the
last year or two things have gone wrong. There has been a lot of
litigation, most of which has gone against us, and it has cost a heap
of money. It reduced the last quarterly dividend very considerably,
and the new complication—this Auburndale suit, which also has gone
against us—is going to make a still bigger hole in our exchequer.
Gentlemen, I don't want to be a prophet of misfortune, but I'll tell
you this—unless something is done to stop this hostility in the
courts you and I stand to lose every cent we have invested in the
road. This suit which we have just lost means a number of others. What
I would ask our chairman is what has become of his former good
relations with the Supreme Court, what has become of his influence,
which never failed us. What are these rumours regarding Judge
Rossmore? He is charged in the newspapers with having accepted a
present from a road in whose favour he handed down a very valuable
decision. How is it that our road cannot reach Judge Rossmore and make
The speaker sat down, flushed and breathless. The expression on
every face showed that the anxiety was general. The directors glanced
at Ryder, but his face was expressionless as marble. Apparently he
took not the slightest interest in this matter which so agitated his
Another director rose. He was a better speaker than Mr. Grimsby,
but his voice had a hard, rasping quality that smote the ears
unpleasantly. He said:
"Mr. Chairman, none of us can deny what Mr. Grimsby has just put
before us so vividly. We are threatened not with one, but with a
hundred such suits, unless something is done either to placate the
public or to render its attacks harmless. Rightly or wrongly, the
railroad is hated by the people, yet we are only what railroad
conditions compel us to be. With the present fierce competition, no
fine question of ethics can enter into our dealings as a business
organization. With an irritated public and press on one side, and a
hostile judiciary on the other, the outlook certainly is far from
bright. But is the judiciary hostile? Is it not true that we have been
singularly free from litigation until recently, and that most of the
decisions were favourable to the road? Judge Rossmore is the real
danger. While he is on the bench the road is not safe. Yet all efforts
to reach him have failed and will fail. I do not take any stock in the
newspaper stories regarding Judge Rossmore. They are preposterous.
Judge Rossmore is too strong a man to be got rid of so easily."
The speaker sat down and another rose, his arguments being merely
a reiteration of those already heard. Ryder did not listen to what
was being said. Why should he? Was he not familiar with every
possible phase of the game? Better than these men who merely talked,
he was planning how the railroad and all his other interests could get
rid of this troublesome judge.
It was true. He who controlled legislatures and dictated to
Supreme Court judges had found himself powerless when each turn of
the legal machinery had brought him face to face with Judge Rossmore.
Suit after suit had been decided against him and the interests he
represented, and each time it was Judge Rossmore who had handed down
the decision. So for years these two men had fought a silent but
bitter duel in which principle on the one side and attempted
corruption on the other were the gauge of battle. Judge Rossmore
fought with the weapons which his oath and the law directed him to
use, Ryder with the only weapons he understood— bribery and trickery.
And each time it had been Rossmore who had emerged triumphant. Despite
every manoeuvre Ryder's experience could suggest, notwithstanding
every card that could be played to undermine his credit and
reputation, Judge Rossmore stood higher in the country's confidence
than when he was first appointed.
So when Ryder found he could not corrupt this honest judge with
gold, he decided to destroy him with calumny. He realized that the
sordid methods which had succeeded with other judges would never
prevail with Rossmore, so he plotted to take away from this man the
one thing he cherished most—his honour. He would ruin him by defaming
his character, and so skilfully would he accomplish his work that the
judge himself would realize the hopelessness of resistance. No
scruples embarrassed Ryder in arriving at this determination. From his
point of view he was fully justified. "Business is business. He hurts
my interests; therefore I remove him." So he argued, and he considered
it no more wrong to wreck the happiness of this honourable man than he
would to have shot a burglar in self-defence. So having thus
tranquillized his conscience he had gone to work in his usually
thorough manner, and his success had surpassed the most sanguine
This is what he had done.
Like many of our public servants whose labours are compensated
only in niggardly fashion by an inconsiderate country, Judge Rossmore
was a man of but moderate means. His income as Justice of the Supreme
Court was $12,000 a year, but for a man in his position, having a
certain appearance to keep up, it little more than kept the wolf from
the door. He lived quietly but comfortably in New York City with his
wife and his daughter Shirley, an attractive young woman who had
graduated from Vassar and had shown a marked taste for literature. The
daughter's education had cost a good deal of money, and this, together
with life insurance and other incidentals of keeping house in New
York, had about taken all he had. Yet he had managed to save a little,
and those years when he could put by a fifth of his salary the judge
considered himself lucky. Secretly, he was proud of his comparative
poverty. At least the world could never ask him "where he got it."
Ryder was well acquainted with Judge Rossmore's private means. The
two men had met at a dinner, and although Ryder had tried to
cultivate the acquaintance, he never received much encouragement.
Ryder's son Jefferson, too, had met Miss Shirley Rossmore and been
much attracted to her, but the father having more ambitious plans for
his heir quickly discouraged all attentions in that direction. He
himself, however, continued to meet the judge casually, and one
evening he contrived to broach the subject of profitable investments.
The judge admitted that by careful hoarding and much stinting he had
managed to save a few thousand dollars which he was anxious to invest
in something good.
Quick as the keen-eyed vulture swoops down on its prey the wily
financier seized the opportunity thus presented. And he took so much
trouble in answering the judge's inexperienced questions, and
generally made himself so agreeable, that the judge found himself
regretting that he and Ryder had, by force of circumstances, been
opposed to each other in public life so long. Ryder strongly
recommended the purchase of Alaskan Mining stock, a new and booming
enterprise which had lately become very active in the market. Ryder
said he had reasons to believe that the stock would soon advance, and
now there was an opportunity to get it cheap.
A few days after he had made the investment the judge was
surprised to receive certificates of stock for double the amount he
had paid for. At the same time he received a letter from the secretary
of the company explaining that the additional stock was pool stock and
not to be marketed at the present time. It was in the nature of a
bonus to which he was entitled as one of the early shareholders. The
letter was full of verbiage and technical details of which the judge
understood nothing, but he thought it very liberal of the company, and
putting the stock away in his safe soon forgot all about it. Had he
been a business man he would have scented peril. He would have
realized that he had now in his possession $50,000 worth of stock for
which he had not paid a cent, and furthermore had deposited it when a
But the judge was sincerely grateful for Ryder's apparently
disinterested advice and wrote two letters to him, one in which he
thanked him for the trouble he had taken, and another in which he
asked him if he was sure the company was financially sound, as the
investment he contemplated making represented all his savings. He
added in the second letter that he had received stock for double the
amount of his investment, and that being a perfect child in business
transactions he had been unable to account for the extra $50,000 worth
until the secretary of the company had written him assuring him that
everything was in order. These letters Ryder kept.
From that time on the Alaskan Mining Company underwent mysterious
changes. New capitalists gained control and the name was altered to
the Great Northwestern Mining Company. Then it became involved in
litigation, and one suit, the outcome of which meant millions to the
company, was carried to the Supreme Court, where Judge Rossmore was
sitting. The judge had by this time forgotten all about the company in
which he owned stock. He did not even recall its name. He only knew
vaguely that it was a mine and that it was situated in Alaska. Could
he dream that the Great Northwestern Mining Company and the company to
which he had entrusted his few thousands were one and the same? In
deciding on the merits of the case presented to him right seemed to
him to be plainly with the Northwestern, and he rendered a decision to
that effect. It was an important decision, involving a large sum, and
for a day or two it was talked about. But as it was the opinion of the
most learned and honest judge on the bench no one dreamed of
But very soon ugly paragraphs began to appear in the newspapers.
One paper asked if it were true that Judge Rossmore owned stock in
the Great Northwestern Mining Company which had recently benefited so
signally by his decision. Interviewed by a reporter, Judge Rossmore
indignantly denied being interested in any way in the company.
Thereupon the same paper returned to the attack, stating that the
judge must surely be mistaken as the records showed a sale of stock to
him at the time the company was known as the Alaskan Mining Company.
When he read this the judge was overwhelmed. It was true then! They
had not slandered him. It was he who had lied, but how innocently—how
His daughter Shirley, who was his greatest friend and comfort, was
then in Europe. She had gone to the Continent to rest, after working
for months on a novel which she had just published. His wife, entirely
without experience in business matters and somewhat of an invalid, was
helpless to advise him. But to his old and tried friend, ex-Judge
Stott, Judge Rossmore explained the facts as they were. Stott shook
his head. "It's a conspiracy!" he cried. "And John B. Ryder is behind
it." Rossmore refused to believe that any man could so deliberately
try to encompass another's destruction, but when more newspaper
stories came out he began to realize that Stott was right and that his
enemies had indeed dealt him a deadly blow. One newspaper boldly
stated that Judge Rossmore was down on the mining company's books for
$50,000 more stock than he had paid for, and it went on to ask if this
were payment for the favourable decision just rendered. Rossmore,
helpless, child- like as he was in business matters, now fully
realized the seriousness of his position. "My God! My God!" he cried,
as he bowed his head down on his desk. And for a whole day he remained
closeted in his library, no one venturing near him.
As John Ryder sat there sphinx-like at the head of the directors'
table he reviewed all this in his mind. His own part in the work was
now done and well done, and he had come to this meeting to-day to tell
them of his triumph.
The speaker, to whom he had paid such scant attention, resumed his
seat, and there followed a pause and an intense silence which was
broken only by the pattering of the rain against the big windows. The
directors turned expectantly to Ryder, waiting for him to speak. What
could the Colossus do now to save the situation? Cries of "the Chair!
the Chair!" arose on every side. Senator Roberts leaned over to Ryder
and whispered something in his ear.
With an acquiescent gesture, John Ryder tapped the table with his
gavel and rose to address his fellow directors. Instantly the room
was silent again as the tomb. One might have heard a pin drop, so
intense was the attention. All eyes were fixed on the chairman. The
air itself seemed charged with electricity, that needed but a spark to
set it ablaze.
Speaking deliberately and dispassionately, the Master Dissembler
They had all listened carefully, he said, to what had been stated
by previous speakers. The situation no doubt was very critical, but
they had weathered worse storms and he had every reason to hope they
would outlive this storm. It was true that public opinion was greatly
incensed against the railroads and, indeed, against all organized
capital, and was seeking to injure them through the courts. For a time
this agitation would hurt business and lessen the dividends, for it
meant not only smaller annual earnings but that a lot of money must be
spent in Washington.
The eyes of the listeners, who were hanging on every word,
involuntarily turned in the direction of Senator Roberts, but the
latter, at that moment busily engaged in rummaging among a lot of
papers, seemed to have missed this significant allusion to the road's
expenses in the District of Columbia. Ryder continued:
In his experience such waves of reform were periodical and soon
wear themselves out, when things go on just as they did before. Much
of the agitation, doubtless, was a strike for graft. They would have
to go down in their pockets, he supposed, and then these yellow
newspapers and these yellow magazines that were barking at their heels
would let them go. But in regard to the particular case now at
issue—this Auburndale decision—there had been no way of preventing
it. Influence had been used, but to no effect. The thing to do now was
to prevent any such disasters in future by removing the author of
The directors bent eagerly forward. Had Ryder really got some plan
up his sleeve after all? The faces around the table looked brighter,
and the directors cleared their throats and settled themselves down in
their chairs as audiences do in the theatre when the drama is reaching
The board, continued Ryder with icy calmness, had perhaps heard,
and also seen in the newspapers, the stories regarding Judge Rossmore
and his alleged connection with the Great Northwestern Company.
Perhaps they had not believed these stories. It was only natural. He
had not believed them himself. But he had taken the trouble to inquire
into the matter very carefully, and he regretted to say that the
stories were true. In fact, they were no longer denied by Judge
The directors looked at each other in amazement. Gasps of
astonishment, incredulity, satisfaction were heard all over the room.
The rumours were true, then? Was it possible? Incredible!
Investigation, Ryder went on, had shown that Judge Rossmore was
not only interested in the company in whose favour, as Judge of the
Supreme Court, he had rendered an important decision, but what was
worse, he had accepted from that company a valuable gift—that is,
$50,000 worth of stock—for which he had given absolutely nothing in
return unless, as some claimed, the weight of his influence on the
bench. These facts were very ugly and so unanswerable that Judge
Rossmore did not attempt to answer them, and the important news which
he, the chairman, had to announce to his fellow-directors that
afternoon, was that Judge Rossmore's conduct would be made the subject
of an inquiry by Congress.
This was the spark that was needed to ignite the electrically
charged air. A wild cry of triumph went up from this band of jackals
only too willing to fatten their bellies at the cost of another man's
ruin, and one director, in his enthusiasm, rose excitedly from his
chair and demanded a vote of thanks for John Ryder.
Ryder coldly opposed the motion. No thanks were due to him, he
said deprecatingly, nor did he think the occasion called for
congratulations of any kind. It was surely a sad spectacle to see
this honoured judge, this devoted father, this blameless citizen
threatened with ruin and disgrace on account of one false step. Let
them rather sympathize with him and his family in their misfortune. He
had little more to tell. The Congressional inquiry would take place
immediately, and in all probability a demand would be made upon the
Senate for Judge Rossmore's impeachment. It was, he added, almost
unnecessary for him to remind the Board that, in the event of
impeachment, the adverse decision in the Auburndale case would be
annulled and the road would be entitled to a new trial.
Ryder sat down, and pandemonium broke loose, the delighted
directors tumbling over each other in their eagerness to shake hands
with the man who had saved them. Ryder had given no hint that he had
been a factor in the working up of this case against their common
enemy, in fact he had appeared to sympathise with him, but the
directors knew well that he and he alone had been the master mind
which had brought about the happy result.
On a motion to adjourn, the meeting broke up, and everyone began
to troop towards the elevators. Outside the rain was now coming down
in torrents and the lights that everywhere dotted the great city only
paled when every few moments a vivid flash of lightning rent the
Ryder and Senator Roberts went down in the elevator together. When
they reached the street the senator inquired in a low tone:
"Do you think they really believed Rossmore was influenced in his
Ryder glanced from the lowering clouds overhead to his electric
brougham which awaited him at the curb and replied indifferently:
"Not they. They don't care. All they want to believe is that he is
to be impeached. The man was dangerous and had to be removed—no
matter by what means. He is our enemy—my enemy—and I never give
quarter to my enemies!"
As he spoke his prognathous jaw snapped to with a click-like
sound, and in his eyes now coal-black were glints of fire. At the
same instant there was a blinding flash, accompanied by a terrific
crash, and the splinters of the flag-pole on the building opposite,
which had been struck by a bolt, fell at their feet.
"A good or a bad omen?" asked the senator with a nervous laugh. He
was secretly afraid of lightning but was ashamed to admit it.
"A bad omen for Judge Rossmore!" rejoined Ryder coolly, as he
slammed to the door of the cab, and the two men drove rapidly off in
the direction of Fifth Avenue.
Of all the spots on this fair, broad earth where the jaded globe
wanderer, surfeited with hackneyed sight-seeing, may sit in perfect
peace and watch the world go by, there is none more fascinating nor
one presenting a more brilliant panorama of cosmopolitan life than
that famous corner on the Paris boulevards, formed by the angle of the
Boulevard des Capucines and the Place de l'Opera. Here, on the
"terrace" of the Cafe de la Paix, with its white and gold facade and
long French windows, and its innumerable little marble-topped tables
and rattan chairs, one may sit for hours at the trifling expense of a
few sous, undisturbed even by the tip-seeking garcon, and, if one
happens to be a student of human nature, find keen enjoyment in
observing the world-types, representing every race and nationality
under the sun, that pass and re-pass in a steady, never ceasing,
exhaustless stream. The crowd surges to and fro, past the little
tables, occasionally toppling over a chair or two in the crush, moving
up or down the great boulevards, one procession going to the right,
in the direction of the Church of the Madeleine, the other to the
left heading toward the historic Bastille, both really going nowhere
in particular, but ambling gently and good humouredly along enjoying
the sights—and life!
Paris, queen of cities! Light-hearted, joyous, radiant Paris—the
playground of the nations, the Mecca of the pleasure-seekers, the
city beautiful! Paris—the siren, frankly immoral, always seductive,
ever caressing! City of a thousand political convulsions, city of a
million crimes—her streets have run with human blood, horrors
unspeakable have stained her history, civil strife has scarred her
monuments, the German conqueror insolently has bivouaced within her
walls. Yet, like a virgin undefiled, she shows no sign of storm and
stress, she offers her dimpled cheek to the rising sun, and when fall
the shadows of night and a billion electric bulbs flash in the siren's
crown, her resplendent, matchless beauty dazzles the world!
As the supreme reward of virtue, the good American is promised a
visit to Paris when he dies. Those, however, of our sagacious fellow
countrymen who can afford to make the trip, usually manage to see
Lutetia before crossing the river Styx. Most Americans like
Paris—some like it so well that they have made it their permanent
home—although it must be added that in their admiration they rarely
include the Frenchman. For that matter, we are not as a nation
particularly fond of any foreigner, largely because we do not
understand him, while the foreigner for his part is quite willing to
return the compliment. He gives the Yankee credit for commercial
smartness, which has built up America's great material prosperity; but
he has the utmost contempt for our acquaintance with art, and no
profound respect for us as scientists.
Is it not indeed fortunate that every nation finds itself superior
to its neighbour? If this were not so each would be jealous of the
other, and would cry with envy like a spoiled child who cannot have
the moon to play with. Happily, therefore, for the harmony of the
world, each nation cordially detests the other and the much exploited
"brotherhood of man" is only a figure of speech. The Englishman,
confident that he is the last word of creation, despises the
Frenchman, who, in turn, laughs at the German, who shows open contempt
for the Italian, while the American, conscious of his superiority to
the whole family of nations, secretly pities them all.
The most serious fault which the American—whose one god is Mammon
and chief characteristic hustle—has to find with his French brother
is that he enjoys life too much, is never in a hurry and, what to the
Yankee mind is hardly respectable, has a habit of playing dominoes
during business hours. The Frenchman retorts that his American
brother, clever person though he be, has one or two things still to
learn. He has, he declares, no philosophy of life. It is true that he
has learned the trick of making money, but in the things which go to
satisfy the soul he is still strangely lacking. He thinks he is
enjoying life, when really he is ignorant of what life is. He admits
it is not the American's fault, for he has never been taught how to
enjoy life. One must be educated to that as everything else. All the
American is taught is to be in a perpetual hurry and to make money no
matter how. In this mad daily race for wealth, he bolts his food, not
stopping to masticate it properly, and consequently suffers all his
life from dyspepsia. So he rushes from the cradle to the grave, and
what's the good, since he must one day die like all the rest?
And what, asks the foreigner, has the American hustler
accomplished that his slower-going Continental brother has not done
as well? Are finer cities to be found in America than in Europe, do
Americans paint more beautiful pictures, or write more learned or more
entertaining books, has America made greater progress in science? Is
it not a fact that the greatest inventors and scientists of our
time—Marconi, who gave to the world wireless telegraphy, Professor
Curie, who discovered radium, Pasteur, who found a cure for rabies,
Santos-Dumont, who has almost succeeded in navigating the air,
Professor Rontgen who discovered the X-ray—are not all these
immortals Europeans? And those two greatest mechanical inventions of
our day, the automobile and the submarine boat, were they not first
introduced and perfected in France before we in America woke up to
appreciate their use? Is it, therefore, not possible to take life
easily and still achieve?
The logic of these arguments, set forth in Le Soir in an article
on the New World, appealed strongly to Jefferson Ryder as he sat in
front of the Cafe de la Paix, sipping a sugared Vermouth. It was five
o'clock, the magic hour of the aperitif, when the glutton taxes his
wits to deceive his stomach and work up an appetite for renewed
gorging. The little tables were all occupied with the usual
before-dinner crowd. There were a good many foreigners, mostly English
and Americans and a few Frenchmen, obviously from the provinces, with
only a sprinkling of real Parisians.
Jefferson's acquaintance with the French language was none too
profound, and he had to guess at half the words in the article, but
he understood enough to follow the writer's arguments. Yes, it was
quite true, he thought, the American idea of life was all wrong. What
was the sense of slaving all one's life, piling up a mass of money one
cannot possibly spend, when there is only one life to live? How much
saner the man who is content with enough and enjoys life while he is
able to. These Frenchmen, and indeed all the Continental nations, had
solved the problem. The gaiety of their cities, and this exuberant joy
of life they communicated to all about them, were sufficient proofs of
Fascinated by the gay scene around him Jefferson laid the
newspaper aside. To the young American, fresh from prosaic money- mad
New York, the City of Pleasure presented indeed a novel and beautiful
spectacle. How different, he mused, from his own city with its one
fashionable thoroughfare—Fifth Avenue—monotonously lined for miles
with hideous brownstone residences, and showing little real animation
except during the Saturday afternoon parade when the activities of the
smart set, male and female, centred chiefly in such exciting
diversions as going to Huyler's for soda, taking tea at the Waldorf,
and trying to outdo each other in dress and show. New York certainly
was a dull place with all its boasted cosmopolitanism. There was no
denying that. Destitute of any natural beauty, handicapped by its
cramped geographical position between two rivers, made unsightly by
gigantic sky-scrapers and that noisy monstrosity the Elevated
Railroad, having no intellectual interests, no art interests, no
interest in anything not immediately connected with dollars, it was a
city to dwell in and make money in, but hardly a city to LIVE in. The
millionaires were building white-marble palaces, taxing the ingenuity
and the originality of the native architects, and thus to some extent
relieving the general ugliness and drab commonplaceness, while the
merchant princes had begun to invade the lower end of the avenue with
handsome shops. But in spite of all this, in spite of its pretty
girls—and Jefferson insisted that in this one important particular
New York had no peer—in spite of its comfortable theatres and its
wicked Tenderloin, and its Rialto made so brilliant at night by
thousands of elaborate electric signs, New York still had the subdued
air of a provincial town, compared with the exuberant gaiety, the
multiple attractions, the beauties, natural and artificial, of
The boulevards were crowded, as usual at that hour, and the crush
of both vehicles and pedestrians was so great as to permit of only a
snail-like progress. The clumsy three-horse omnibuses—
Madeleine-Bastille—crowded inside and out with passengers and with
their neatly uniformed drivers and conductors, so different in
appearance and manner from our own slovenly street-car rowdies, were
endeavouring to breast a perfect sea of fiacres which, like a swarm of
mosquitoes, appeared to be trying to go in every direction at once,
their drivers vociferating torrents of vituperous abuse on every man,
woman or beast unfortunate enough to get in their way. As a dispenser
of unspeakable profanity, the Paris cocher has no equal. He is unique,
no one can approach him. He also enjoys the reputation of being the
worst driver in the world. If there is any possible way in which he
can run down a pedestrian or crash into another vehicle he will do it,
probably for the only reason that it gives him another opportunity to
display his choice stock of picturesque expletives.
But it was a lively, good-natured crowd and the fashionably gowned
women and the well-dressed men, the fakirs hoarsely crying their
catch-penny devices, the noble boulevards lined as far as the eye
could reach with trees in full foliage, the magnificent Opera House
with its gilded dome glistening in the warm sunshine of a June
afternoon, the broad avenue directly opposite, leading in a splendid
straight line to the famous Palais Royal, the almost dazzling
whiteness of the houses and monuments, the remarkable cleanliness and
excellent condition of the sidewalks and streets, the gaiety and
richness of the shops and restaurants, the picturesque kiosks where
they sold newspapers and flowers—all this made up a picture so
utterly unlike anything he was familiar with at home that Jefferson
sat spellbound, delighted.
Yes, it was true, he thought, the foreigner had indeed learned the
secret of enjoying life. There was assuredly something else in the
world beyond mere money-getting. His father was a slave to it, but he
would never be. He was resolved on that. Yet, with all his ideas of
emancipation and progress, Jefferson was a thoroughly practical young
man. He fully understood the value of money, and the possession of it
was as sweet to him as to other men. Only he would never soil his soul
in acquiring it dishonourably. He was convinced that society as at
present organized was all wrong and that the feudalism of the middle
ages had simply given place to a worse form of slavery—capitalistic
driven labour—which had resulted in the actual iniquitous conditions,
the enriching of the rich and the impoverishment of the poor. He was
familiar with the socialistic doctrines of the day and had taken a
keen interest in this momentous question, this dream of a regenerated
mankind. He had read Karl Marx and other socialistic writers, and
while his essentially practical mind could hardly approve all their
programme for reorganizing the State, some of which seemed to him
utopian, extravagant and even undesirable, he realised that the
socialistic movement was growing rapidly all over the world and the
day was not far distant when in America, as to-day in Germany and
France, it would be a formidable factor to reckon with.
But until the socialistic millennium arrived and society was
reorganized, money, he admitted, would remain the lever of the world,
the great stimulus to effort. Money supplied not only the necessities
of life but also its luxuries, everything the material desire craved
for, and so long as money had this magic purchasing power, so long
would men lie and cheat and rob and kill for its possession. Was life
worth living without money? Could one travel and enjoy the glorious
spectacles Nature affords—the rolling ocean, the majestic mountains,
the beautiful lakes, the noble rivers—without money? Could the
book-lover buy books, the art- lover purchase pictures? Could one have
fine houses to live in, or all sorts of modern conveniences to add to
one's comfort, without money? The philosophers declared contentment to
be happiness, arguing that the hod-carrier was likely to be happier in
his hut than the millionaire in his palace; but was not that mere
animal contentment, the happiness which knows no higher state, the
ignorance of one whose eyes have never been raised to the heights?
No, Jefferson was no fool. He loved money for what pleasure,
intellectual or physical, it could give him, but he would never allow
money to dominate his life as his father had done. His father, he knew
well, was not a happy man, neither happy himself nor respected by the
world. He had toiled all his life to make his vast fortune and now he
toiled to take care of it. The galley slave led a life of luxurious
ease compared with John Burkett Ryder. Baited by the yellow newspapers
and magazines, investigated by State committees, dogged by
process-servers, haunted by beggars, harassed by blackmailers,
threatened by kidnappers, frustrated in his attempts to bestow charity
by the cry "tainted money"—certainly the lot of the world's richest
man was far from being an enviable one.
That is why Jefferson had resolved to strike out for himself. He
had warded off the golden yoke which his father proposed to put on
his shoulders, declining the lucrative position made for him in the
Empire Trading Company, and he had gone so far as to refuse also the
private income his father offered to settle on him. He would earn his
own living. A man who has his bread buttered for him seldom
accomplishes anything he had said, and while his father had appeared
to be angry at this open opposition to his will, he was secretly
pleased at his son's grit. Jefferson was thoroughly in earnest. If
needs be, he would forego the great fortune that awaited him rather
than be forced into questionable business methods against which his
whole manhood revolted.
Jefferson Ryder felt strongly about these matters, and gave them
more thought than would be expected of most young men with his
opportunities. In fact, he was unusually serious for his age. He was
not yet thirty, but he had done a great deal of reading, and he took a
keen interest in all the political and sociological questions of the
hour. In personal appearance, he was the type of man that both men and
women like—tall and athletic looking, with smooth face and clean-cut
features. He had the steel-blue eyes and the fighting jaw of his
father, and when he smiled he displayed two even rows of very white
teeth. He was popular with men, being manly, frank and cordial in his
relations with them, and women admired him greatly, although they were
somewhat intimidated by his grave and serious manner. The truth was
that he was rather diffident with women, largely owing to lack of
experience with them.
He had never felt the slightest inclination for business. He had
the artistic temperament strongly developed, and his personal tastes
had little in common with Wall Street and its feverish stock
manipulating. When he was younger, he had dreamed of a literary or art
career. At one time he had even thought of going on the stage. But it
was to art that he turned finally. From an early age he had shown
considerable skill as a draughtsman, and later a two years' course at
the Academy of Design convinced him that this was his true vocation.
He had begun by illustrating for the book publishers and for the
magazines, meeting at first with the usual rebuffs and
disappointments, but, refusing to be discouraged, he had kept on and
soon the tide turned. His drawings began to be accepted. They appeared
first in one magazine, then in another, until one day, to his great
joy, he received an order from an important firm of publishers for six
washdrawings to be used in illustrating a famous novel. This was the
beginning of his real success. His illustrations were talked about
almost as much as the book, and from that time on everything was easy.
He was in great demand by the publishers, and very soon the young
artist, who had begun his career of independence on nothing a year so
to speak, found himself in a handsomely appointed studio in Bryant
Park, with more orders coming in than he could possibly fill, and
enjoying an income of little less than $5,000 a year. The money was
all the sweeter to Jefferson in that he felt he had himself earned
every cent of it. This summer he was giving himself a well- deserved
vacation, and he had come to Europe partly to see Paris and the other
art centres about which his fellow students at the Academy raved, but
principally—although this he did not acknowledge even to himself—to
meet in Paris a young woman in whom he was more than ordinarily
interested—Shirley Rossmore, daughter of Judge Rossmore, of the
United States Supreme Court, who had come abroad to recuperate after
the labours on her new novel, "The American Octopus," a book which was
then the talk of two hemispheres.
Jefferson had read half a dozen reviews of it in as many American
papers that afternoon at the New York Herald's reading room in the
Avenue de l'Opera, and he chuckled with glee as he thought how
accurately this young woman had described his father. The book had
been published under the pseudonym "Shirley Green," and he alone had
been admitted into the secret of authorship. The critics all conceded
that it was the book of the year, and that it portrayed with a
pitiless pen the personality of the biggest figure in the commercial
life of America. "Although," wrote one reviewer, "the leading
character in the book is given another name, there can be no doubt
that the author intended to give to the world a vivid pen portrait of
John Burkett Ryder. She has succeeded in presenting a remarkable
character-study of the most remarkable man of his time."
He was particularly pleased with the reviews, not only for Miss
Rossmore's sake, but also because his own vanity was gratified. Had
he not collaborated on the book to the extent of acquainting the
author with details of his father's life, and his characteristics,
which no outsider could possibly have learned? There had been no
disloyalty to his father in doing this. Jefferson admired his father's
smartness, if he could not approve his methods. He did not consider
the book an attack on his father, but rather a powerfully written pen
picture of an extraordinary man.
Jefferson had met Shirley Rossmore two years before at a meeting
of the Schiller Society, a pseudo-literary organization gotten up by
a lot of old fogies for no useful purpose, and at whose monthly
meetings the poet who gave the society its name was probably the last
person to be discussed. He had gone out of curiosity, anxious to take
in all the freak shows New York had to offer, and he had been
introduced to a tall girl with a pale, thoughtful face and firm mouth.
She was a writer, Miss Rossmore told him, and this was her first visit
also to the evening receptions of the Schiller Society. Half
apologetically she added that it was likely to be her last, for,
frankly, she was bored to death. But she explained that she had to go
to these affairs, as she found them useful in gathering material for
literary use. She studied types and eccentric characters, and this
seemed to her a capital hunting ground. Jefferson, who, as a rule, was
timid with girls and avoided them, found this girl quite unlike the
others he had known. Her quiet, forceful demeanour appealed to him
strongly, and he lingered with her, chatting about his work, which had
so many interests in common with her own, until refreshments were
served, when the affair broke up. This first meeting had been followed
by a call at the Rossmore residence, and the acquaintance had kept up
until Jefferson, for the first time since he came to manhood, was
surprised and somewhat alarmed at finding himself strangely and
unduly interested in a person of the opposite sex.
The young artist's courteous manner, his serious outlook on life,
his high moral principles, so rarely met with nowadays in young men
of his age and class, could hardly fail to appeal to Shirley, whose
ideals of men had been somewhat rudely shattered by those she had
hitherto met. Above all, she demanded in a man the refinement of the
true gentleman, together with strength of character and personal
courage. That Jefferson Ryder came up to this standard she was soon
convinced. He was certainly a gentleman: his views on a hundred topics
of the hour expressed in numerous conversations assured her as to his
principles, while a glance at his powerful physique left no doubt
possible as to his courage. She rightly guessed that this was no
poseur trying to make an impression and gain her confidence. There was
an unmistakable ring of sincerity in all his words, and his struggle
at home with his father, and his subsequent brave and successful
fight for his own independence and self-respect, more than
substantiated all her theories. And the more Shirley let her mind
dwell on Jefferson Ryder and his blue eyes and serious manner, the
more conscious she became that the artist was encroaching more upon
her thoughts and time than was good either for her work or for
So their casual acquaintance grew into a real friendship and
comradeship. Further than that Shirley promised herself it should
never go. Not that Jefferson had given her the slightest hint that he
entertained the idea of making her his wife one day, only she was
sophisticated enough to know the direction in which run the minds of
men who are abnormally interested in one girl, and long before this
Shirley had made up her mind that she would never marry. Firstly, she
was devoted to her father and could not bear the thought of ever
leaving him; secondly, she was fascinated by her literary work and she
was practical enough to know that matrimony, with its visions of
slippers and cradles, would be fatal to any ambition of that kind. She
liked Jefferson immensely- -more, perhaps, than any man she had yet
met—and she did not think any the less of him because of her resolve
not to get entangled in the meshes of Cupid. In any case he had not
asked her to marry him—perhaps the idea was far from his thoughts.
Meantime, she could enjoy his friendship freely without fear of
When, therefore, she first conceived the idea of portraying in the
guise of fiction the personality of John Burkett Ryder, the Colossus
of finance whose vast and ever-increasing fortune was fast becoming a
public nuisance, she naturally turned to Jefferson for assistance. She
wanted to write a book that would be talked about, and which at the
same time would open the eyes of the public to this growing peril in
their midst—this monster of insensate and unscrupulous greed who, by
sheer weight of his ill- gotten gold, was corrupting legislators and
judges and trying to enslave the nation. The book, she argued, would
perform a public service in awakening all to the common danger.
Jefferson fully entered into her views and had furnished her with the
information regarding his father that she deemed of value. The book
had proven a success beyond their most sanguine expectations, and
Shirley had come to Europe for a rest after the many weary months of
work that it took to write it.
The acquaintance of his son with the daughter of Judge Rossmore
had not escaped the eagle eye of Ryder, Sr., and much to the
financier's annoyance, and even consternation, he had ascertained
that Jefferson was a frequent caller at the Rossmore home. He
immediately jumped to the conclusion that this could mean only one
thing, and fearing what he termed "the consequences of the insanity
of immature minds," he had summoned Jefferson peremptorily to his
presence. He told his son that all idea of marriage in that quarter
was out of the question for two reasons: One was that Judge Rossmore
was his most bitter enemy, the other was that he had hoped to see his
son, his destined successor, marry a woman of whom he, Ryder, Sr.,
could approve. He knew of such a woman, one who would make a far more
desirable mate than Miss Rossmore. He alluded, of course, to Kate
Roberts, the pretty daughter of his old friend, the Senator. The
family interests would benefit by this alliance, which was desirable
from every point of view. Jefferson had listened respectfully until
his father had finished and then grimly remarked that only one point
of view had been overlooked—his own. He did not care for Miss
Roberts; he did not think she really cared for him. The marriage was
out of the question. Whereupon Ryder, Sr., had fumed and raged,
declaring that Jefferson was opposing his will as he always did, and
ending with the threat that if his son married Shirley Rossmore
without his consent he would disinherit him.
Jefferson was cogitating on these incidents of the last few months
when suddenly a feminine voice which he quickly recognised called out
"Hello! Mr. Ryder."
He looked up and saw two ladies, one young, the other middle aged,
smiling at him from an open fiacre which had drawn up to the curb.
Jefferson jumped from his seat, upsetting his chair and startling two
nervous Frenchmen in his hurry, and hastened out, hat in hand.
"Why, Miss Rossmore, what are you doing out driving?" he asked.
"You know you and Mrs. Blake promised to dine with me to-night. I was
coming round to the hotel in a few moments."
Mrs. Blake was a younger sister of Shirley's mother. Her husband
had died a few years previously, leaving her a small income, and when
she had heard of her niece's contemplated trip to Europe she had
decided to come to Paris to meet her and incidentally to chaperone
her. The two women were stopping at the Grand Hotel close by, while
Jefferson had found accommodations at the Athenee.
Shirley explained. Her aunt wanted to go to the dressmaker's, and
she herself was most anxious to go to the Luxembourg Gardens to hear
the music. Would he take her? Then they could meet Mrs. Blake at the
hotel at seven o'clock and all go to dinner. Was he willing?
Was he? Jefferson's face fairly glowed. He ran back to his table
on the terrasse to settle for his Vermouth, astonished the waiter by
not stopping to notice the short change he gave him, and rushed back
to the carriage.
A dirty little Italian girl, shrewd enough to note the young man's
attention to the younger of the American women, wheedled up to the
carriage and thrust a bunch of flowers in Jefferson's face.
"Achetez des fleurs, monsieur, pour la jolie dame?"
Down went Jefferson's hand in his pocket and, filling the child's
hand with small silver, he flung the flowers in the carriage. Then he
turned inquiringly to Shirley for instructions so he could direct the
cocher. Mrs. Blake said she would get out here. Her dressmaker was
close by, in the Rue Auber, and she would walk back to the hotel to
meet them at seven o'clock. Jefferson assisted her to alight and
escorted her as far as the porte-cochere of the modiste's, a couple of
doors away. When he returned to the carriage, Shirley had already told
the coachman where to go. He got in and the fiacre started.
"Now," said Shirley, "tell me what you have been doing with
yourself all day."
Jefferson was busily arranging the faded carriage rug about
Shirley, spending more time in the task perhaps than was absolutely
necessary, and she had to repeat the question.
"Doing?" he echoed with a smile, "I've been doing two things—
waiting impatiently for seven o'clock and incidentally reading the
notices of your book."
"Tell me, what do the papers say?"
Settling herself comfortably back in the carriage, Shirley
questioned Jefferson with eagerness, even anxiety. She had been
impatiently awaiting the arrival of the newspapers from "home," for
so much depended on this first effort. She knew her book had been
praised in some quarters, and her publishers had written her that the
sales were bigger every day, but she was curious to learn how it had
been received by the reviewers.
In truth, it had been no slight achievement for a young writer of
her inexperience, a mere tyro in literature, to attract so much
attention with her first book. The success almost threatened to turn
her head, she had told her aunt laughingly, although she was sure it
could never do that. She fully realized that it was the subject rather
than the skill of the narrator that counted in the book's success,
also the fact that it had come out at a timely moment, when the whole
world was talking of the Money Peril. Had not President Roosevelt, in
a recent sensational speech, declared that it might be necessary for
the State to curb the colossal fortunes of America, and was not her
hero, John Burkett Ryder, the richest of them all? Any way they looked
at it, the success of the book was most gratifying.
While she was an attractive, aristocratic-looking girl, Shirley
Rossmore had no serious claims to academic beauty. Her features were
irregular, and the firm and rather thin mouth lines disturbed the
harmony indispensable to plastic beauty. Yet there was in her face
something far more appealing—soul and character. The face of the
merely beautiful woman expresses nothing, promises nothing. It
presents absolutely no key to the soul within, and often there is no
soul within to have a key to. Perfect in its outlines and coloring, it
is a delight to gaze upon, just as is a flawless piece of sculpture,
yet the delight is only fleeting. One soon grows satiated, no matter
how beautiful the face may be, because it is always the same,
expressionless and soulless. "Beauty is only skin deep," said the
philosopher, and no truer dictum was ever uttered. The merely
beautiful woman, who possesses only beauty and nothing else, is kept
so busy thinking of her looks, and is so anxious to observe the
impression her beauty makes on others, that she has neither the time
nor the inclination for matters of greater importance. Sensible men,
as a rule, do not lose their hearts to women whose only assets are
their good looks. They enjoy a flirtation with them, but seldom care
to make them their wives. The marrying man is shrewd enough to realize
that domestic virtues will be more useful in his household economy
than all the academic beauty ever chiselled out of block marble.
Shirley was not beautiful, but hers was a face that never failed
to attract attention. It was a thoughtful and interesting face, with
an intellectual brow and large, expressive eyes, the face of a woman
who had both brain power and ideals, and yet who, at the same time,
was in perfect sympathy with the world. She was fair in complexion,
and her fine brown eyes, alternately reflective and alert, were shaded
by long dark lashes. Her eyebrows were delicately arched, and she had
a good nose. She wore her hair well off the forehead, which was
broader than in the average woman, suggesting good mentality. Her
mouth, however, was her strongest feature. It was well shaped, but
there were firm lines about it that suggested unusual will power. Yet
it smiled readily, and when it did there was an agreeable vision of
strong, healthy-looking teeth of dazzling whiteness. She was a little
over medium height and slender in figure, and carried herself with
that unmistakable air of well-bred independence that bespeaks birth
and culture. She dressed stylishly, and while her gowns were of rich
material, and of a cut suggesting expensive modistes, she was always
so quietly attired and in such perfect taste, that after leaving her
one could never recall what she had on.
At the special request of Shirley, who wanted to get a glimpse of
the Latin Quarter, the driver took a course down the Avenue de
l'Opera, that magnificent thoroughfare which starts at the Opera and
ends at the Theatre Francais, and which, like many others that go to
the beautifying of the capital, the Parisians owe to the much-despised
Napoleon III. The cab, Jefferson told her, would skirt the Palais
Royal and follow the Rue de Rivoli until it came to the Chatelet, when
it would cross the Seine and drive up the Boulevard St. Michel—the
students' boulevard—until it reached the Luxembourg Gardens. Like
most of his kind, the cocker knew less than nothing of the art of
driving, and he ran a reckless, zig-zag flight, in and out, forcing
his way through a confusing maze of vehicles of every description,
pulling first to the right, then to the left, for no good purpose that
was apparent, and averting only by the narrowest of margins half a
dozen bad collisions. At times the fiacre lurched in such alarming
fashion that Shirley was visibly perturbed, but when Jefferson assured
her that all Paris cabs travelled in this crazy fashion and nothing
ever happened, she was comforted.
"Tell me," he repeated, "what do the papers say about the book?"
"Say?" he echoed. "Why, simply that you've written the biggest
book of the year, that's all!"
"Really! Oh, do tell me all they said!" She was fairly excited
now, and in her enthusiasm she grasped Jefferson's broad, sunburnt
hand which was lying outside the carriage rug. He tried to appear
unconscious of the contact, which made his every nerve tingle, as he
proceeded to tell her the gist of the reviews he had read that
"Isn't that splendid!" she exclaimed, when he had finished. Then
she added quickly:
"I wonder if your father has seen it?"
Jefferson grinned. He had something on his conscience, and this
was a good opportunity to get rid of it. He replied laconically:
"He probably has read it by this time. I sent him a copy myself."
The instant the words were out of his mouth he was sorry, for
Shirley's face had changed colour.
"You sent him a copy of 'The American Octopus?'" she cried. "Then
he'll guess who wrote the book."
"Oh, no, he won't," rejoined Jefferson calmly. "He has no idea who
sent it to him. I mailed it anonymously."
Shirley breathed a sigh of relief. It was so important that her
identity should remain a secret. As daughter of a Supreme Court judge
she had to be most careful. She would not embarrass her father for
anything in the world. But it was smart of Jefferson to have sent
Ryder, Sr., the book, so she smiled graciously on his son as she
"How do you know he got it? So many letters and packages are sent
to him that he never sees himself."
"Oh, he saw your book all right," laughed Jefferson. "I was around
the house a good deal before sailing, and one day I caught him in the
library reading it."
They both laughed, feeling like mischievous children who had
played a successful trick on the hokey-pokey man. Jefferson noted his
companion's pretty dimples and fine teeth, and he thought how
attractive she was, and stronger and stronger grew the idea within
him that this was the woman who was intended by Nature to share his
life. Her slender hand still covered his broad, sunburnt one, and he
fancied he felt a slight pressure. But he was mistaken. Not the
slightest sentiment entered into Shirley's thoughts of Jefferson. She
regarded him only as a good comrade with whom she had secrets she
confided in no one else. To that extent and to that extent alone he
was privileged above other men. Suddenly he asked her:
"Have you heard from home recently?"
A soft light stole into the girl's face. Home! Ah, that was all
she needed to make her cup of happiness full. Intoxicated with this
new sensation of a first literary success, full of the keen pleasure
this visit to the beautiful city was giving her, bubbling over with
the joy of life, happy in the almost daily companionship of the man
she liked most in the world after her father, there was only one thing
lacking—home! She had left New York only a month before, and she was
homesick already. Her father she missed most. She was fond of her
mother, too, but the latter, being somewhat of a nervous invalid, had
never been to her quite what her father had been. The playmate of her
childhood, companion of her girlhood, her friend and adviser in
womanhood, Judge Rossmore was to his daughter the ideal man and
father. Answering Jefferson's question she said:
"I had a letter from father last week. Everything was going on at
home as when I left. Father says he misses me sadly, and that mother
is ailing as usual."
She smiled, and Jefferson smiled too. They both knew by experience
that nothing really serious ailed Mrs. Rossmore, who was a good deal
of a hypochondriac, and always so filled with aches and pains that, on
the few occasions when she really felt well, she was genuinely
The fiacre by this time had emerged from the Rue de Rivoli and was
rolling smoothly along the fine wooden pavement in front of the
historic Conciergerie prison where Marie Antoinette was confined
before her execution. Presently they recrossed the Seine, and the
cab, dodging the tram car rails, proceeded at a smart pace up the
"Boul' Mich'," which is the familiar diminutive bestowed by the
students upon that broad avenue which traverses the very heart of
their beloved Quartier Latin. On the left frowned the scholastic
walls of the learned Sorbonne, in the distance towered the majestic
dome of the Pantheon where Rousseau, Voltaire and Hugo lay buried.
Like most of the principal arteries of the French capital, the
boulevard was generously lined with trees, now in full bloom, and the
sidewalks fairly seethed with a picturesque throng in which mingled
promiscuously frivolous students, dapper shop clerks, sober citizens,
and frisky, flirtatious little ouvrieres, these last being all
hatless, as is characteristic of the work-girl class, but singularly
attractive in their neat black dresses and dainty low-cut shoes. There
was also much in evidence another type of female whose extravagance of
costume and boldness of manner loudly proclaimed her ancient
On either side of the boulevard were shops and cafes, mostly
cafes, with every now and then a brasserie, or beer hall. Seated in
front of these establishments, taking their ease as if beer sampling
constituted the only real interest in their lives, were hundreds of
students, reckless and dare-devil, and suggesting almost anything
except serious study. They all wore frock coats and tall silk hats,
and some of the latter were wonderful specimens of the hatter's art. A
few of the more eccentric students had long hair down to their
shoulders, and wore baggy peg-top trousers of extravagant cut, which
hung in loose folds over their sharp-pointed boots. On their heads
were queer plug hats with flat brims.
Shirley laughed outright and regretted that she did not have her
kodak to take back to America some idea of their grotesque
appearance, and she listened with amused interest as Jefferson
explained that these men were notorious poseurs, aping the dress and
manners of the old-time student as he flourished in the days of
Randolph and Mimi and the other immortal characters of Murger's
Bohemia. Nobody took them seriously except themselves, and for the
most part they were bad rhymesters of decadent verse. Shirley was
astonished to see so many of them busily engaged smoking cigarettes
and imbibing glasses of a pale-green beverage, which Jefferson told
her was absinthe.
"When do they read?" she asked. "When do they attend lectures?"
"Oh," laughed Jefferson, "only the old-fashioned students take
their studies seriously. Most of the men you see there are from the
provinces, seeing Paris for the first time, and having their fling.
Incidentally they are studying life. When they have sown their wild
oats and learned all about life—provided they are still alive and
have any money left—they will begin to study books. You would be
surprised to know how many of these young men, who have been sent to
the University at a cost of goodness knows what sacrifices, return to
their native towns in a few months wrecked in body and mind, without
having once set foot in a lecture room, and, in fact, having done
nothing except inscribe their names on the rolls."
Shirley was glad she knew no such men, and if she ever married and
had a son she would pray God to spare her that grief and humiliation.
She herself knew something about the sacrifices parents make to secure
a college education for their children. Her father had sent her to
Vassar. She was a product of the much- sneered-at higher education for
women, and all her life she would be grateful for the advantages given
her. Her liberal education had broadened her outlook on life and
enabled her to accomplish the little she had. When she graduated her
father had left her free to follow her own inclinations. She had
little taste for social distractions, and still she could not remain
idle. For a time she thought of teaching to occupy her mind, but she
knew she lacked the necessary patience, and she could not endure the
drudgery of it, so, having won honors at college in English
composition, she determined to try her hand at literature. She wrote
a number of essays and articles on a hundred different subjects which
she sent to the magazines, but they all came back with politely worded
excuses for their rejection. But Shirley kept right on. She knew she
wrote well; it must be that her subjects were not suitable. So she
adopted new tactics, and persevered until one day came a letter of
acceptance from the editor of one of the minor magazines. They would
take the article offered—a sketch of college life—and as many more
in similar vein as Miss Rossmore could write. This success had been
followed by other acceptances and other commissions, until at the
present time she was a well-known writer for the leading publications.
Her great ambition had been to write a book, and "The American
Octopus," published under an assumed name, was the result.
The cab stopped suddenly in front of beautiful gilded gates. It
was the Luxembourg, and through the tall railings they caught a
glimpse of well-kept lawns, splashing fountains and richly dressed
children playing. From the distance came the stirring strains of a
The coachman drove up to the curb and Jefferson jumped down,
assisting Shirley to alight. In spite of Shirley's protest Jefferson
insisted on paying.
"Combien?" he asked the cocher.
The jehu, a surly, thick-set man with a red face and small,
cunning eyes like a ferret, had already sized up his fares for two
sacre foreigners whom it would be flying in the face of Providence
not to cheat, so with unblushing effrontery he answered:
"Dix francs, Monsieur!" And he held up ten fingers by way of
Jefferson was about to hand up a ten-franc piece when Shirley
indignantly interfered. She would not submit to such an imposition.
There was a regular tariff and she would pay that and nothing more.
So, in better French than was at Jefferson's command, she exclaimed:
"Ten francs? Pourquoi dix francs? I took your cab by the hour. It
is exactly two hours. That makes four francs." Then to Jefferson she
added: "Give him a franc for a pourboire—that makes five francs
Jefferson, obedient to her superior wisdom, held out a five-franc
piece, but the driver shrugged his shoulders disdainfully. He saw
that the moment had come to bluster so he descended from his box
fully prepared to carry out his bluff. He started in to abuse the two
Americans whom in his ignorance he took for English.
"Ah, you sale Anglais! You come to France to cheat the poor
Frenchman. You make me work all afternoon and then pay me nothing.
Not with this coco! I know my rights and I'll get them, too."
All this was hurled at them in a patois French, almost
unintelligible to Shirley, and wholly so to Jefferson. All he knew
was that the fellow's attitude was becoming unbearably insolent and
he stepped forward with a gleam in his eye that might have startled
the man had he not been so busy shaking his fist at Shirley. But she
saw Jefferson's movement and laid her hand on his arm.
"No, no, Mr. Ryder—no scandal, please. Look, people are beginning
to come up! Leave him to me. I know how to manage him."
With this the daughter of a United States Supreme Court judge
proceeded to lay down the law to the representative of the most lazy
and irresponsible class of men ever let loose in the streets of a
civilised community. Speaking with an air of authority, she said:
"Now look here, my man, we have no time to bandy words here with
you. I took your cab at 3.30. It is now 5.30. That makes two hours.
The rate is two francs an hour, or four francs in all. We offer you
five francs, and this includes a franc pourboire. If this settlement
does not suit you we will get into your cab and you will drive us to
the nearest police-station where the argument can be continued."
The man's jaw dropped. He was obviously outclassed. These
foreigners knew the law as well as he did. He had no desire to accept
Shirley's suggestion of a trip to the police-station, where he knew he
would get little sympathy, so, grumbling and giving vent under his
breath to a volley of strange oaths, he grabbed viciously at the
five-franc piece Jefferson held out and, mounting his box, drove off.
Proud of their victory, they entered the gardens, following the
sweet-scented paths until they came to where the music was. The band
of an infantry regiment was playing, and a large crowd had gathered.
Many people were sitting on the chairs provided for visitors for the
modest fee of two sous; others were promenading round and round a
great circle having the musicians in its centre. The dense foliage of
the trees overhead afforded a perfect shelter from the hot rays of the
sun, and the place was so inviting and interesting, so cool and so
full of sweet perfumes and sounds, appealing to and satisfying the
senses, that Shirley wished they had more time to spend there. She was
very fond of a good brass band, especially when heard in the open air.
They were playing Strauss's Blue Danube, and the familiar strains of
the delightful waltz were so infectious that both were seized by a
desire to get up and dance.
There was constant amusement, too, watching the crowd, with its
many original and curious types. There were serious college
professors, with gold-rimmed spectacles, buxom nounous in their
uniform cloaks and long ribbon streamers, nicely dressed children
romping merrily but not noisily, more queer-looking students in
shabby frock coats, tight at the waist, trousers too short, and
comical hats, stylishly dressed women displaying the latest fashions,
brilliantly uniformed army officers strutting proudly, dangling their
swords—an attractive and interesting crowd, so different, thought the
two Americans, from the cheap, evil- smelling, ill-mannered mob of
aliens that invades their own Central Park the days when there is
music, making it a nuisance instead of a pleasure. Here everyone
belonged apparently to the better class; the women and children were
richly and fashionably dressed, the officers looked smart in their
multi-coloured uniforms, and, no matter how one might laugh at the
students, there was an atmosphere of good-breeding and refinement
everywhere which Shirley was not accustomed to see in public places at
home. A sprinkling of workmen and people of the poorer class were to
be seen here and there, but they were in the decided minority.
Shirley, herself a daughter of the Revolution, was a staunch
supporter of the immortal principles of Democracy and of the equality
of man before the law. But all other talk of equality was the greatest
sophistry and charlatanism. There could be no real equality so long as
some people were cultured and refined and others were uneducated and
vulgar. Shirley believed in an aristocracy of brains and soap. She
insisted that no clean person, no matter how good a democrat, should
be expected to sit close in public places to persons who were not on
speaking terms with the bath-tub. In America this foolish theory of a
democracy, which insists on throwing all classes, the clean and the
unclean, promiscuously together, was positively revolting, making
travelling in the public vehicles almost impossible, and it was not
much better in the public parks. In France—also a Republic— where
they likewise paraded conspicuously the clap-trap "Egalite,
Fraternite," they managed these things far better. The French lower
classes knew their place. They did not ape the dress, nor frequent the
resorts of those above them in the social scale. The distinction
between the classes was plainly and properly marked, yet this was not
antagonistic to the ideal of true democracy; it had not prevented the
son of a peasant from becoming President of the French Republic. Each
district in Paris had its own amusement, its own theatres, its own
parks. It was not a question of capital refusing to fraternize with
labour, but the very natural desire of persons of refinement to mingle
with clean people rather than to rub elbows with the Great Unwashed.
"Isn't it delightful here?" said Shirley. "I could stay here
forever, couldn't you?"
"With you—yes," answered Jefferson, with a significant smile.
Shirley tried to look angry. She strictly discouraged these
conventional, sentimental speeches which constantly flung her sex in
"Now, you know I don't like you to talk that way, Mr. Ryder. It's
most undignified. Please be sensible."
Quite subdued, Jefferson relapsed into a sulky silence. Presently
"I wish you wouldn't call me Mr. Ryder. I meant to ask you this
before. You know very well that you've no great love for the name,
and if you persist you'll end by including me in your hatred of the
hero of your book."
Shirley looked at him with amused curiosity.
"What do you mean?" she asked. "What do you want me to call you?"
"Oh, I don't know," he stammered, rather intimidated by this self-
possessed young woman who looked him calmly through and through. "Why
not call me Jefferson? Mr. Ryder is so formal."
Shirley laughed outright, a merry, unrestrained peal of honest
laughter, which made the passers-by turn their heads and smile, too,
commenting the while on the stylish appearance of the two Americans
whom they took for sweethearts. After all, reasoned Shirley, he was
right. They had been together now nearly every hour in the day for
over a month. It was absurd to call him Mr. Ryder. So, addressing him
with mock gravity, she said:
"You're right, Mr. Ryder—I mean Jefferson. You're quite right.
You are Jefferson from this time on, only remember"—here she shook
her gloved finger at him warningly—"mind you behave yourself! No more
such sentimental speeches as you made just now."
Jefferson beamed. He felt at least two inches taller, and at that
moment he would not have changed places with any one in the world. To
hide the embarrassment his gratification caused him he pulled out his
watch and exclaimed:
"Why, it's a quarter past six. We shall have all we can do to get
back to the hotel and dress for dinner."
Shirley rose at once, although loath to leave.
"I had no idea it was so late," she said. "How the time flies!"
Then mockingly she added: "Come, Jefferson—be a good boy and find a
They passed out of the Gardens by the gate facing the Theatre de
l'Odeon, where there was a long string of fiacres for hire. They got
into one and in fifteen minutes they were back at the Grand Hotel.
At the office they told Shirley that her aunt had already come in
and gone to her room, so she hurried upstairs to dress for dinner
while Jefferson proceeded to the Hotel de l'Athenee on the same
mission. He. had still twenty-five minutes before dinner time, and he
needed only ten minutes for a wash and to jump into his dress suit,
so, instead of going directly to his hotel, he sat down at the Cafe de
la Paix. He was thirsty, and calling for a vermouth frappe he told the
garcon to bring him also the American papers.
The crowd on the boulevard was denser than ever. The business
offices and some of the shops were closing, and a vast army of
employes, homeward bound, helped to swell the sea of humanity that
pushed this way and that.
But Jefferson had no eyes for the crowd. He was thinking of
Shirley. What singular, mysterious power had this girl acquired over
him? He, who had scoffed at the very idea of marriage only a few
months before, now desired it ardently, anxiously! Yes, that was what
his life lacked—such a woman to be his companion and helpmate! He
loved her—there was no doubt of that. His every thought, waking and
sleeping, was of her, all his plans for the future included her. He
would win her if any man could. But did she care for him? Ah, that was
the cruel, torturing uncertainty! She appeared cold and indifferent,
but perhaps she was only trying him. Certainly she did not seem to
The waiter returned with the vermouth and the newspapers. All he
could find were the London Times, which he pronounced T-e-e-m-s, and
some issues of the New York Herald. The papers were nearly a month
old, but he did not care for that. Jefferson idly turned over the
pages of the Herald. His thoughts were still running on Shirley, and
he was paying little attention to what he was reading. Suddenly,
however, his eyes rested on a headline which made him sit up with a
start. It read as follows:
JUDGE ROSSMORE IMPEACHED
JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT TO BE TRIED ON BRIBERY CHARGES
The despatch, which was dated Washington two weeks back, went on
to say that serious charges affecting the integrity of Judge Rossmore
had been made the subject of Congressional inquiry, and that the
result of the inquiry was so grave that a demand for impeachment would
be at once sent to the Senate. It added that the charges grew out of
the recent decision in the Great Northwestern Mining Company case, it
being alleged that Judge Rossmore had accepted a large sum of money on
condition of his handing down a decision favourable to the company.
Jefferson was thunderstruck. He read the despatch over again to
make sure there was no mistake. No, it was very plain—Judge Rossmore
of Madison Avenue. But how preposterous, what a calumny! The one judge
on the bench at whom one could point and say with absolute conviction:
"There goes an honest man!" And this judge was to be tried on a charge
of bribery! What could be the meaning of it? Something terrible must
have happened since Shirley's departure from home, that was certain.
It meant her immediate return to the States and, of course, his own.
He would see what could be done. He would make his father use his
great influence. But how could he tell Shirley? Impossible, he could
not! She would not believe him if he did. She would probably hear from
home in some other way. They might cable. In any case he would say
nothing yet. He paid for his vermouth and hurried away to his hotel to
It was just striking seven when he re-entered the courtyard of the
Grand Hotel. Shirley and Mrs. Blake were waiting for him. Jefferson
suggested having dinner at the Cafe de Paris, but Shirley objected
that as the weather was warm it would be more pleasant to dine in the
open air, so they finally decided on the Pavilion d'Armonville where
there was music and where they could have a little table to themselves
in the garden.
They drove up the stately Champs Elysees, past the monumental Arc
de Triomphe, and from there down to the Bois. All were singularly
quiet. Mrs. Blake was worrying about her new gown, Shirley was tired,
and Jefferson could not banish from his mind the terrible news he had
just read. He avoided looking at Shirley until the latter noticed it
and thought she must have offended him in some way. She was more sorry
than she would have him know, for, with all her apparent coldness,
Jefferson was rapidly becoming very indispensable to her happiness.
They dined sumptuously and delightfully with all the luxury of
surroundings and all the delights of cooking that the French culinary
art can perfect. A single glass of champagne had put Shirley in high
spirits and she had tried hard to communicate some of her good humour
to Jefferson who, despite all her efforts, remained quiet and
preoccupied. Finally losing patience she asked him bluntly:
"Jefferson, what's the matter with you to-night? You've been sulky
as a bear all evening."
Pleased to see she had not forgotten their compact of the
afternoon in regard to his name, Jefferson relaxed somewhat and said
"Excuse me, I've been feeling a bit seedy lately. I think I need
another sea voyage. That's the only time when I feel really first-
class—when I'm on the water."
The mention of the sea started Shirley to talk about her future
plans. She wasn't going back to America until September. She had
arranged to make a stay of three weeks in London and then she would
be free. Some friends of hers from home, a man and his wife who owned
a steam yacht, were arranging a trip to the Mediterranean, including a
run over to Cairo. They had asked her and Mrs. Blake to go and she was
sure they would ask Jefferson, too. Would he go?
There was no way out of it. Jefferson tried to work up some
enthusiasm for this yachting trip, which he knew very well could
never come off, and it cut him to the heart to see this poor girl
joyously making all these preparations and plans, little dreaming of
the domestic calamity which at that very moment was hanging over her
It was nearly ten o'clock when they had finished. They sat a
little longer listening to the gipsy music, weird and barbaric. Very
pointedly, Shirley remarked:
"I for one preferred the music this afternoon."
"Why?" inquired Jefferson, ignoring the petulant note in her
"Because you were more amiable!" she retorted rather crossly.
This was their first misunderstanding, but Jefferson said nothing.
He could not tell her the thoughts and fears that had been haunting
him all night. Soon afterward they re-entered their cab and returned
to the boulevards which were ablaze with light and gaiety. Jefferson
suggested going somewhere else, but Mrs. Blake was tired and Shirley,
now quite irritated at what she considered Jefferson's unaccountable
unsociability, declined somewhat abruptly. But she could never remain
angry long, and when they said good-night she whispered demurely:
"Are you cross with me, Jeff?"
He turned his head away and she saw that his face was singularly
drawn and grave.
"Cross—no. Good-night. God bless you!" he said, hoarsely gulping
down a lump that rose in his throat. Then grasping her hand he
Completely mystified, Shirley and her companion turned to the
office to get the key of their room. As the man handed it to Shirley
he passed her also a cablegram which had just come. She changed
colour. She did not like telegrams. She always had a dread of them,
for with her sudden news was usually bad news. Could this, she
thought, explain Jefferson's strange behaviour? Trembling, she tore
open the envelope and read:
Come home at once,
Rolling, tumbling, splashing, foaming water as far as the eye
could reach in every direction. A desolate waste, full of life,
movement and colour, extending to the bleak horizon and like a vast
ploughed field cut up into long and high liquid ridges, all scurrying
in one direction in serried ranks and with incredible speed as if
pursued by a fearful and unseen enemy. Serenely yet boisterously,
gracefully yet resistlessly, the endless waves passed on—some small,
others monstrous, with fleecy white combs rushing down their green
sides like toy Niagaras and with a seething, boiling sound as when
flame touches water. They went by in a stately, never ending
procession, going nowhere, coming from nowhere, but full of dignity
and importance, their breasts heaving with suppressed rage because
there was nothing in their path that they might destroy. The dancing,
leaping water reflected every shade and tint—now a rich green, then a
deep blue and again a dirty gray as the sun hid for a moment behind a
cloud, and as a gust of wind caught the top of the combers
decapitating them at one mad rush, the spray was dashed high in the
air, flashing out all the prismatic colours. Here and yonder, the
white caps rose, disappeared and came again, and the waves grew and
then diminished in size. Then others rose, towering, became larger,
majestic, terrible; the milk-like comb rose proudly, soared a brief
moment, then fell ignominiously, and the wave diminished passed on
humiliated. Over head, a few scattered cirrus clouds flitted lazily
across the blue dome of heaven, while a dozen Mother Carey chickens
screamed hoarsely as they circled in the air. The strong and steady
western breeze bore on its powerful pinions the sweet and eternal
music of the wind and sea.
Shirley stood at the rail under the bridge of the ocean greyhound
that was carrying her back to America with all the speed of which her
mighty engines were capable. All day and all night, half naked
stokers, so grimed with oil and coal dust as to lose the slightest
semblance to human beings, feverishly shovelled coal, throwing it
rapidly and evenly over roaring furnaces kept at a fierce white heat.
The vast boilers, shaken by the titanic forces generating in their
cavern-like depths, sent streams of scalding, hissing steam through a
thousand valves, cylinders and pistons, turning wheels and cranks as
it distributed the tremendous power which was driving the steel
monster through the seas at the prodigious speed of four hundred miles
in the twenty-four hours. Like a pulsating heart in some living thing,
the mammoth engines throbbed and panted, and the great vessel groaned
and creaked as she rose and fell to the heavy swell, and again lurched
forward in obedience to each fresh propulsion from her fast spinning
screws. Out on deck, volumes of dense black smoke were pouring from
four gigantic smoke stacks and spread out in the sky like some endless
cinder path leading back over the course the ship had taken.
They were four days out from port. Two days more and they would
sight Sandy Hook, and Shirley would know the worst. She had caught
the North German Lloyd boat at Cherbourg two days after receiving the
cablegram from New York. Mrs. Blake had insisted on coming along in
spite of her niece's protests. Shirley argued that she had crossed
alone when coming; she could go back the same way. Besides, was not
Mr. Ryder returning home on the same ship? He would be company and
protection both. But Mrs. Blake was bent on making the voyage. She had
not seen her sister for many years and, moreover, this sudden return
to America had upset her own plans. She was a poor sailor, yet she
loved the ocean and this was a good excuse for a long trip. Shirley
was too exhausted with worry to offer further resistance and by great
good luck the two women had been able to secure at the last moment a
cabin to themselves amidships. Jefferson, less fortunate, was
compelled, to his disgust, to share a stateroom with another
passenger, a fat German brewer who was returning to Cincinnati, and
who snored so loud at night that even the thumping of the engines was
completely drowned by his eccentric nasal sounds.
The alarming summons home and the terrible shock she had
experienced the following morning when Jefferson showed her the
newspaper article with its astounding and heart rending news about
her father had almost prostrated Shirley. The blow was all the
greater for being so entirely unlooked for. That the story was true
she could not doubt. Her mother would not have cabled except under the
gravest circumstances. What alarmed Shirley still more was that she
had no direct news of her father. For a moment her heart stood
still—suppose the shock of this shameful accusation had killed him?
Her blood froze in her veins, she clenched her fists and dug her nails
into her flesh as she thought of the dread possibility that she had
looked upon him in life for the last time. She remembered his last
kind words when he came to the steamer to see her off, and his kiss
when he said good-bye and she had noticed a tear of which he appeared
to be ashamed. The hot tears welled up in her own eyes and coursed
unhindered down her cheeks.
What could these preposterous and abominable charges mean? What
was this lie they had invented to ruin her father? That he had
enemies she well knew. What strong man had not? Indeed, his
proverbial honesty had made him feared by all evil-doers and on one
occasion they had gone so far as to threaten his life. This new attack
was more deadly than all—to sap and destroy his character, to
deliberately fabricate lies and calumnies which had no foundation
whatever. Of course, the accusation was absurd, the Senate would
refuse to convict him, the entire press would espouse the cause of so
worthy a public servant. Certainly, everything would be done to clear
his character. But what was being done? She could do nothing but wait
and wait. The suspense and anxiety were awful.
Suddenly she heard a familiar step behind her, and Jefferson
joined her at the rail. The wind was due West and blowing half a
gale, so where they were standing—one of the most exposed parts of
the ship—it was difficult to keep one's feet, to say nothing of
hearing anyone speak. There was a heavy sea running, and each
approaching wave looked big enough to engulf the vessel, but as the
mass of moving water reached the bow, the ship rose on it, light and
graceful as a bird, shook off the flying spray as a cat shakes her fur
after an unwelcome bath, and again drove forward as steady and with as
little perceptible motion as a railway train. Shirley was a fairly
good sailor and this kind of weather did not bother her in the least,
but when it got very rough she could not bear the rolling and pitching
and then all she was good for was to lie still in her steamer chair
with her eyes closed until the water was calmer and the pitching
"It's pretty windy here, Shirley," shouted Jefferson, steadying
himself against a stanchion. "Don't you want to walk a little?"
He had begun to call her by her first name quite naturally, as if
it were a matter of course. Indeed their relations had come to be
more like those of brother and sister than anything else. Shirley was
too much troubled over the news from home to have a mind for other
things, and in her distress she had turned to Jefferson for advice and
help as she would have looked to an elder brother. He had felt this
impulse to confide in him and consult his opinion and it had pleased
him more than he dared betray. He had shown her all the sympathy of
which his warm, generous nature was capable, yet secretly he did not
regret that events had necessitated this sudden return home together
on the same ship. He was sorry for Judge Rossmore, of course, and
there was nothing he would not do on his return to secure a withdrawal
of the charges. That his father would use his influence he had no
doubt. But meantime he was selfish enough to be glad for the
opportunity it gave him to be a whole week alone with Shirley. No
matter how much one may be with people in city or country or even when
stopping at the same hotel or house, there is no place in the world
where two persons, especially when they are of the opposite sex, can
become so intimate as on shipboard. The reason is obvious. The days
are long and monotonous. There is nowhere to go, nothing to see but
the ocean, nothing to do but read, talk or promenade. Seclusion in
one's stuffy cabin is out of the question, the public sitting rooms
are noisy and impossible, only a steamer chair on deck is comfortable
and once there snugly wrapped up in a rug it is surprising how quickly
another chair makes its appearance alongside and how welcome one is
apt to make the intruder.
Thus events combined with the weather conspired to bring Shirley
and Jefferson more closely together. The sea had been rough ever
since they sailed, keeping Mrs. Blake confined to her stateroom
almost continuously. They were, therefore, constantly in one
another's company, and slowly, unconsciously, there was taking root
in their hearts the germ of the only real and lasting love— the love
born of something higher than mere physical attraction, the nobler,
more enduring affection that is born of mutual sympathy, association
"Isn't it beautiful?" exclaimed Shirley ecstatically. "Look at
those great waves out there! See how majestically they soar and how
gracefully they fall!"
"Glorious!" assented Jefferson sharing her enthusiasm. "There's
nothing to compare with it. It's Nature's grandest spectacle. The
ocean is the only place on earth that man has not defiled and
spoiled. Those waves are the same now as they were on the day of
"Not the day of creation. You mean during the aeons of time
creation was evolving," corrected Shirley.
"I meant that of course," assented Jefferson. "When one says 'day'
that is only a form of speech."
"Why not be accurate?" persisted Shirley. "It was the use of that
little word 'day' which has given the theologians so many sleepless
There was a roguish twinkle in her eye. She well knew that he
thought as she did on metaphysical questions, but she could not
resist teasing him.
Like Jefferson, she was not a member of any church, although her
nature was deeply religious. Hers was the religion the soul
inculcates, not that which is learned by rote in the temple. She was
a Christian because she thought Christ the greatest figure in world
history, and also because her own conduct of life was modelled upon
Christian principles and virtues. She was religious for religion's
sake and not for public ostentation. The mystery of life awed her and
while her intelligence could not accept all the doctrines of dogmatic
religion she did not go so far as Jefferson, who was a frank agnostic.
She would not admit that we do not know. The longings and aspirations
of her own soul convinced her of the existence of a Supreme Being,
First Cause, Divine Intelligence— call it what you will—which had
brought out of chaos the wonderful order of the universe. The human
mind was, indeed, helpless to conceive such a First Cause in any form
and lay prostrate before the Unknown, yet she herself was an
enthusiastic delver into scientific hypothesis and the teachings of
Darwin, Spencer, Haeckel had satisfied her intellect if they had
failed to content her soul. The theory of evolution as applied to life
on her own little planet appealed strongly to her because it
accounted plausibly for the presence of man on earth. The process
through which we had passed could be understood by every
intelligence. The blazing satellite, violently detached from the
parent sun starting on its circumscribed orbit—that was the first
stage, the gradual subsidence of the flames and the cooling of the
crust—the second stage: the gases mingling and forming water which
covered the earth—the third stage; the retreating of the waters and
the appearance of the land—the fourth stage; the appearance of
vegetation and animal life—the fifth stage; then, after a long
interval and through constant evolution and change the appearance of
man, which was the sixth stage. What stages still to come, who knows?
This simple account given by science was, after all, practically
identical with the biblical legend!
It was when Shirley was face to face with Nature in her wildest
and most primitive aspects that this deep rooted religious feeling
moved her most strongly. At these times she felt herself another
being, exalted, sublimated, lifted from this little world with its
petty affairs and vanities up to dizzy heights. She had felt the same
sensation when for the first time she had viewed the glories of the
snow clad Matterhorn, she had felt it when on a summer's night at sea
she had sat on deck and watched with fascinated awe the resplendent
radiance of the countless stars, she felt it now as she looked at the
foaming, tumbling waves.
"It is so beautiful," she murmured as she turned to walk. The ship
was rolling a little and she took Jefferson's arm to steady herself.
Shirley was an athletic girl and had all the ease and grace of
carriage that comes of much tennis and golf playing. Barely
twenty-four years old, she was still in the first flush of youth and
health, and there was nothing she loved so much as exercise and fresh
air. After a few turns on deck, there was a ruddy glow in her cheeks
that was good to see and many an admiring glance was cast at the young
couple as they strode briskly up and down past the double rows of
elongated steamer chairs.
They had the deck pretty much to themselves. It was only four
o'clock, too early for the appetite-stimulating walk before dinner,
and their fellow passengers were basking in the sunshine, stretched
out on their chairs in two even rows like so many mummies on
exhibition. Some were reading, some were dozing. Two or three were
under the weather, completely prostrated, their bilious complexion of
a deathly greenish hue. At each new roll of the ship, they closed
their eyes as if resigned to the worst that might happen and their
immediate neighbours furtively eyed each of their movements as if
apprehensive of what any moment might bring forth. A few couples were
flirting to their heart's content under the friendly cover of the
life-boats which, as on most of the transatlantic liners, were more
useful in saving reputations than in saving life. The deck steward was
passing round tea and biscuits, much to the disgust of the ill ones,
but to the keen satisfaction of the stronger stomached passengers who
on shipboard never seem to be able to get enough to eat and drink. On
the bridge, the second officer, a tall, handsome man with the points
of his moustache trained upwards a la Kaiser Wilhelm, was striding
back and forth, every now and then sweeping the horizon with his
glass and relieving the monotony of his duties by ogling the better
looking women passengers.
"Hello, Shirley!" called out a voice from a heap of rugs as
Shirley and Jefferson passed the rows of chairs.
They stopped short and discovered Mrs. Blake ensconced in a cozy
corner, sheltered from the wind.
"Why, aunt Milly," exclaimed Shirley surprised. "I thought you
were downstairs. I didn't think you could stand this sea."
"It is a little rougher than I care to have it," responded Mrs.
Blake with a wry grimace and putting her hand to her breast as if to
appease disturbing qualms. "It was so stuffy in the cabin I could not
bear it. It's more pleasant here but it's getting a little cool and I
think I'll go below. Where have you children been all afternoon?"
Jefferson volunteered to explain.
"The children have been rhapsodizing over the beauties of the
ocean," he laughed. With a sly glance at Shirley, he added, "Your
niece has been coaching me in metaphysics."
Shirley shook her finger at him.
"Now Jefferson, if you make fun of me I'll never talk seriously
with you again."
"Wie geht es, meine damen?"
Shirley turned on hearing the guttural salutation. It was Captain
Hegermann, the commander of the ship, a big florid Saxon with great
bushy golden whiskers and a basso voice like Edouard de Reszke. He was
imposing in his smart uniform and gold braid and his manner had the
self-reliant, authoritative air usual in men who have great
responsibilities and are accustomed to command. He was taking his
afternoon stroll and had stopped to chat with his lady passengers. He
had already passed Mrs. Blake a dozen times and not noticed her, but
now her pretty niece was with her, which altered the situation. He
talked to the aunt and looked at Shirley, much to the annoyance of
Jefferson, who muttered things under his breath.
"When shall we be in, captain?" asked Mrs. Blake anxiously,
forgetting that this was one of the questions which according to ship
etiquette must never be asked of the officers.
But as long as he could ignore Mrs. Blake and gaze at Shirley
Capt. Hegermann did not mind. He answered amiably:
"At the rate we are going, we ought to sight Fire Island sometime
to-morrow evening. If we do, that will get us to our dock about 11
o'clock Friday morning, I fancy." Then addressing Shirley direct he
"And you, fraulein, I hope you won't be glad the voyage is over?"
Shirley sighed and a worried, anxious look came into her face.
"Yes, Captain, I shall be very glad. It is not pleasure that is
bringing me back to America so soon."
The captain elevated his eyebrows. He was sorry the young lady had
anxieties to keep her so serious, and he hoped she would find
everything all right on her arrival. Then, politely saluting, he
passed on, only to halt again a few paces on where his bewhiskered
gallantry met with more encouragement.
Mrs. Blake rose from her chair. The air was decidedly cooler, she
would go downstairs and prepare for dinner. Shirley said she would
remain on deck a little longer. She was tired of walking, so when her
aunt left them she took her chair and told Jefferson to get another.
He wanted nothing better, but before seating himself he took the rugs
and wrapped Shirley up with all the solicitude of a mother caring for
her first born. Arranging the pillow under her head, he asked:
"Is that comfortable?"
She nodded, smiling at him.
"You're a good boy, Jeff. But you'll spoil me."
"Nonsense," he stammered as he took another chair and put himself
by her side. "As if any fellow wouldn't give his boots to do a little
job like that for you!"
She seemed to take no notice of the covert compliment. In fact,
she already took it as a matter of course that Jefferson was very
fond of her.
Did she love him? She hardly knew. Certainly she thought more of
him than of any other man she knew and she readily believed that she
could be with him for the rest of her life and like him better every
day. Then, too, they had become more intimate during the last few
days. This trouble, this unknown peril had drawn them together. Yes,
she would be sorry if she were to see Jefferson paying attention to
another woman. Was this love? Perhaps.
These thoughts were running through her mind as they sat there
side by side isolated from the main herd of passengers, each silent,
watching through the open rail the foaming water as it rushed past.
Jefferson had been casting furtive glances at his companion and as he
noted her serious, pensive face he thought how pretty she was. He
wondered what she was thinking of and suddenly inspired no doubt by
the mysterious power that enables some people to read the thoughts of
others, he said abruptly:
"Shirley, I can read your thoughts. You were thinking of me."
She was startled for a moment but immediately recovered her self
possession. It never occurred to her to deny it. She pondered for a
moment and then replied:
"You are right, Jeff, I was thinking of you. How did you guess?"
He leaned over her chair and took her hand. She made no
resistance. Her delicate, slender hand lay passively in his big brown
one and met his grasp frankly, cordially. He whispered:
"What were you thinking of me—good or bad?"
"Good, of course. How could I think anything bad of you?"
She turned her eyes on him in wonderment. Then she went on:
"I was wondering how a girl could distinguish between the feeling
she has for a man she merely likes, and the feeling she has for a man
Jefferson bent eagerly forward so as to lose no word that might
fall from those coveted lips.
"In what category would I be placed?" he asked.
"I don't quite know," she answered, laughingly. Then seriously,
she added: "Jeff, why should we act like children? Your actions, more
than your words, have told me that you love me. I have known it all
along. If I have appeared cold and indifferent it is because"—she
"Because?" echoed Jefferson anxiously, as if his whole future
depended on that reason.
"Because I was not sure of myself. Would it be womanly or
honourable on my part to encourage you, unless I felt I reciprocated
your feelings? You are young, one day you will be very rich, the whole
world lies before you. There are plenty of women who would willingly
give you their love."
"No—no!" he burst out in vigorous protest, "it is you I want,
Shirley, you alone."
Grasping her hand more closely, he went on, passion vibrating in
every note of his voice. "I love you, Shirley. I've loved you from
the very first evening I met you. I want you to be my wife."
Shirley looked straight up into the blue eyes so eagerly bent down
on hers, so entreating in their expression, and in a gentle voice
full of emotion she answered:
"Jefferson, you have done me the greatest honour a man can do a
woman. Don't ask me to answer you now. I like you very much—I more
than like you. Whether it is love I feel for you—that I have not yet
determined. Give me time. My present trouble and then my literary
"I know," agreed Jefferson, "that this is hardly the time to speak
of such matters. Your father has first call on your attention. But as
to your literary work. I do not understand."
"Simply this. I am ambitious. I have had a little success—just
enough to crave for more. I realize that marriage would put an
extinguisher on all aspirations in that direction."
"Is marriage so very commonplace?" grumbled Jefferson.
"Not commonplace, but there is no room in marriage for a woman
having personal ambitions of her own. Once married her duty is to her
husband and her children—not to herself."
"That is right," he replied; "but which is likely to give you
greater joy—a literary success or a happy wifehood? When you have
spent your best years and given the public your best work they will
throw you over for some new favorite. You'll find yourself an old
woman with nothing more substantial to show as your life work than
that questionable asset, a literary reputation. How many literary
reputations to-day conceal an aching heart and find it difficult to
make both ends meet? How different with the woman who married young
and obeys Nature's behest by contributing her share to the process of
evolution. Her life is spent basking in the affection of her husband
and the chubby smiles of her dimpled babes, and when in the course of
time she finds herself in the twilight of her life, she has at her
feet a new generation of her own flesh and blood. Isn't that better
than a literary reputation?"
He spoke so earnestly that Shirley looked at him in surprise. She
knew he was serious but she had not suspected that he thought so
deeply on these matters. Her heart told her that he was uttering the
true philosophy of the ages. She said:
"Why, Jefferson, you talk like a book. Perhaps you are right, I
have no wish to be a blue stocking and deserted in my old age, far
from it. But give me time to think. Let us first ascertain the extent
of this disaster which has overtaken my father. Then if you still care
for me and if I have not changed my mind," here she glanced slyly at
him, "we will resume our discussion."
Again she held out her hand which he had released.
"Is it a bargain?" she asked.
"It's a bargain," he murmured, raising the white hand to his lips.
A fierce longing rose within him to take her in his arms and kiss
passionately the mouth that lay temptingly near his own, but his
courage failed him. After all, he reasoned, he had not yet the right.
A few minutes later they left the deck and went downstairs to
dress for dinner. That same evening they stood again at the rail
watching the mysterious phosphorescence as it sparkled in the
moonlight. Her thoughts travelling faster than the ship, Shirley
"Do you really think Mr. Ryder will use his influence to help my
Jefferson set his jaw fast and the familiar Ryder gleam came into
his eyes as he responded:
"Why not? My father is all powerful. He has made and unmade judges
and legislators and even presidents. Why should he not be able to put
a stop to these preposterous proceedings? I will go to him directly we
land and we'll see what can be done."
So the time on shipboard had passed, Shirley alternately buoyed up
with hope and again depressed by the gloomiest forebodings. The
following night they passed Fire Island and the next day the huge
steamer dropped anchor at Quarantine.
A month had passed since the memorable meeting of the directors of
the Southern and Transcontinental Railroad in New York and during
that time neither John Burkett Ryder nor Judge Rossmore had been
idle. The former had immediately set in motion the machinery he
controlled in the Legislature at Washington, while the judge
neglected no step to vindicate himself before the public.
Ryder, for reasons of his own—probably because he wished to make
the blow the more crushing when it did fall—had insisted on the
proceedings at the board meeting being kept a profound secret and
some time elapsed before the newspapers got wind of the coming
Congressional inquiry. No one had believed the stories about Judge
Rossmore but now that a quasi-official seal had been set on the
current gossip, there was a howl of virtuous indignation from the
journalistic muck rakers. What was the country coming to? they cried
in double leaded type. After the embezzling by life insurance
officers, the rascality of the railroads, the looting of city
treasuries, the greed of the Trusts, the grafting of the legislators,
had arisen a new and more serious scandal—the corruption of the
Judiciary. The last bulwark of the nation had fallen, the country lay
helpless at the mercy of legalized sandbaggers. Even the judges were
no longer to be trusted, the most respected one among them all had
been unable to resist the tempter. The Supreme Court, the living voice
of the Constitution, was honeycombed with graft. Public life was
rotten to the core!
Neither the newspapers nor the public stopped to ascertain the
truth or the falsity of the charges against Judge Rossmore. It was
sufficient that the bribery story furnished the daily sensation which
newspaper editors and newspaper readers must have. The world is ever
more prompt to believe ill rather than good of a man, and no one,
except in Rossmore's immediate circle of friends, entertained the
slightest doubt of his guilt. It was common knowledge that the "big
interests" were behind the proceedings, and that Judge Rossmore was a
scapegoat, sacrificed by the System because he had been blocking their
game. If Rossmore had really accepted the bribe, and few now believed
him spotless, he deserved all that was coming to him. Senator Roberts
was very active in Washington preparing the case against Judge
Rossmore. The latter being a democrat and "the interests" controlling
a Republican majority in the House, it was a foregone conclusion that
the inquiry would be against him, and that a demand would at once be
made upon the Senate for his impeachment.
Almost prostrated by the misfortune which had so suddenly and
unexpectedly come upon him, Judge Rossmore was like a man demented.
His reason seemed to be tottering, he spoke and acted like a man in a
dream. Naturally he was entirely incapacitated for work and he had
applied to Washington to be temporarily relieved from his judicial
duties. He was instantly granted a leave of absence and went at once
to his home in Madison Avenue, where he shut himself up in his
library, sitting for hours at his desk wrestling with documents and
legal tomes in a pathetic endeavour to find some way out, trying to
elude this net in which unseen hands had entangled him.
What an end to his career! To have struggled and achieved for half
a century, to have built up a reputation year by year, as a man
builds a house brick by brick, only to see the whole crumble to his
feet like dust! To have gained the respect of the country, to have
made a name as the most incorruptible of public servants and now to be
branded as a common bribe taker! Could he be dreaming? It was too
incredible! What would his daughter say—his Shirley? Ah, the thought
of the expression of incredulity and wonder on her face when she heard
the news cut him to the heart like a knife thrust. Yet, he mused, her
very unwillingness to believe it should really be his consolation. Ah,
his wife and his child—they knew he had been innocent of wrong doing.
The very idea was ridiculous. At most he had been careless. Yes, he
was certainly to blame. He ought to have seen the trap so carefully
prepared and into which he had walked as if blindfolded. That extra
$50,000 worth of stock, on which he had never received a cent
interest, had been the decoy in a carefully thought out plot. They,
the plotters, well knew how ignorant he was of financial matters and
he had been an easy victim. Who would believe his story that the stock
had been sent to him with a plausibly-worded letter to the effect that
it represented a bonus on his own investment? Now he came to think of
it, calmly and reasonably, he would not believe it himself. As usual,
he had mislaid or destroyed the secretary's letter and there was only
his word against the company's books to substantiate what would appear
a most improbable if not impossible occurrence.
It was his conviction of his own good faith that made his present
dilemma all the more cruel. Had he really been a grafter, had he
really taken the stock as a bribe he would not care so much, for then
he would have foreseen and discounted the chances of exposure. Yes,
there was no doubt possible. He was the victim of a conspiracy, there
was an organized plot to ruin him, to get him out of the way. The
"interests" feared him, resented his judicial decisions and they had
halted at nothing to accomplish their purpose. How could he fight them
back, what could he do to protect himself? He had no proofs of a
conspiracy, his enemies worked in the dark, there was no way in which
he could reach them or know who they were.
He thought of John Burkett Ryder. Ah, he remembered now. Ryder was
the man who had recommended the investment in Alaskan stock. Of
course, why did he not think of it before? He recollected that at the
time he had been puzzled at receiving so much stock and he had
mentioned it to Ryder, adding that the secretary had told him it was
customary. Oh, why had he not kept the secretary's letter? But Ryder
would certainly remember it. He probably still had his two letters in
which he spoke of making the investment. If those letters could be
produced at the Congressional inquiry they would clear him at once. So
losing no time, and filled with renewed hope he wrote to the Colossus
a strong, manly letter which would have melted an iceberg, urging Mr.
Ryder to come forward now at this critical time and clear him of this
abominable charge, or in any case to kindly return the two letters he
must have in his possession, as they would go far to help him at the
trial. Three days passed and no reply from Ryder. On the fourth came a
polite but frigid note from Mr. Ryder's private secretary. Mr. Ryder
had received Judge Rossmore's letter and in reply begged to state that
he had a vague recollection of some conversation with the judge in
regard to investments, but he did not think he had advised the
purchase of any particular stock, as that was something he never did
on principle, even with his most intimate friends. He had no wish to
be held accountable in case of loss, etc. As to the letter which Judge
Rossmore mentioned as having written to Mr. Ryder in regard to having
received more stock than he had bought, of that Mr. Ryder had no
recollection whatsoever. Judge Rossmore was probably mistaken as to
the identity of his correspondent. He regretted he could not be of
more service to Judge Rossmore, and remained his very obedient
It was very evident that no help was to be looked for in that
quarter. There was even decided hostility in Ryder's reply. Could it
be true that the financier was really behind these attacks upon his
character, was it possible that one man merely to make more money
would deliberately ruin his fellow man whose hand he had grasped in
friendship? He had been unwilling to believe it when his friend
ex-judge Stott had pointed to Ryder as the author of all his
misfortunes, but this unsympathetic letter with its falsehoods, its
lies plainly written all over its face, was proof enough. Yes, there
was now no doubt possible. John Burkett Ryder was his enemy and what
an enemy! Many a man had committed suicide when he had incurred the
enmity of the Colossus. Judge Rossmore, completely discouraged, bowed
his head to the inevitable.
His wife, a nervous, sickly woman, was helpless to comfort or aid
him. She had taken their misfortune as a visitation of an inscrutable
Deity. She knew, of course, that her husband was wholly innocent of
the accusations brought against him and if his character could be
cleared and himself rehabilitated before the world, she would be the
first to rejoice. But if it pleased the Almighty in His wisdom to
sorely try her husband and herself and inflict this punishment upon
them it was not for the finite mind to criticise the ways of
Providence. There was probably some good reason for the apparent
cruelty and injustice of it which their earthly understanding failed
to grasp. Mrs. Rossmore found much comfort in this philosophy, which
gave a satisfactory ending to both ends of the problem, and she was
upheld in her view by the rector of the church which she had attended
regularly each Sunday for the past five and twenty years. Christian
resignation in the hour of trial, submission to the will of Heaven
were, declared her spiritual adviser, the fundamental principles of
religion. He could only hope that Mrs. Rossmore would succeed in
imbuing her husband with her Christian spirit. But when the judge's
wife returned home and saw the keen mental distress of the man who had
been her companion for twenty-five long years, the comforter in her
sorrows, the joy and pride of her young wifehood, she forgot all about
her smug churchly consoler, and her heart went out to her husband in a
spontaneous burst of genuine human sympathy. Yes, they must do
something at once. Where men had failed perhaps a woman could do
something. She wanted to cable at once for Shirley, who was everything
in their household—organizer, manager, adviser—but the judge would
not hear of it. No, his daughter was enjoying her holiday in blissful
ignorance of what had occurred. He would not spoil it for her. They
would see; perhaps things would improve. But he sent for his old
friend ex-Judge Stott.
They were life-long friends, having become acquainted nearly
thirty years ago at the law school, at the time when both were young
men about to enter on a public career. Stott, who was Rossmore's
junior, had begun as a lawyer in New York and soon acquired a
reputation in criminal practice. He afterwards became assistant
district attorney and later, when a vacancy occurred in the city
magistrature, he was successful in securing the appointment. On the
bench he again met his old friend Rossmore and the two men once more
became closely intimate. The regular court hours, however, soon palled
on a man of Judge Stott's nervous temperament and it was not long
before he retired to take up once more his criminal practice. He was
still a young man, not yet fifty, and full of vigor and fight. He had
a blunt manner but his heart was in the right place, and he had a
record as clean as his close shaven face. He was a hard worker, a
brilliant speaker and one of the cleverest cross-examiners at the bar.
This was the man to whom Judge Rossmore naturally turned for legal
Stott was out West when he first heard of the proceedings against
his old friend, and this indignity put upon the only really honest
man in public life whom he knew, so incensed him that he was already
hurrying back to his aid when the summons reached him.
Meantime, a fresh and more serious calamity had overwhelmed Judge
Rossmore. Everything seemed to combine to break the spirit of this
man who had dared defy the power of organized capital. Hardly had the
news of the Congressional inquiry been made public, than the financial
world was startled by an extraordinary slump in Wall Street. There was
nothing in the news of the day to justify a decline, but prices fell
and fell. The bears had it all their own way, the big interests
hammered stocks all along the line, "coppers" especially being the
object of attack. The market closed feverishly and the next day the
same tactics were pursued. From the opening, on selling orders coming
from no one knew where, prices fell to nothing, a stampede followed
and before long it became a panic. Pandemonium reigned on the floor of
the Stock Exchange. White faced, dishevelled brokers shouted and
struggled like men possessed to execute the orders of their clients.
Big financial houses, which stood to lose millions on a falling
market, rallied and by rush orders to buy, attempted to stem the
tide, but all to no purpose. One firm after another went by the board
unable to weather the tempest, until just before closing time, the
stock ticker announced the failure of the Great Northwestern Mining
Co. The drive in the market had been principally directed against its
securities, and after vainly endeavoring to check the bear raid, it
had been compelled to declare itself bankrupt. It was heavily
involved, assets nil, stock almost worthless. It was probable that the
creditors would not see ten cents on the dollar. Thousands were ruined
and Judge Rossmore among them. All the savings of a lifetime—nearly
$55,000 were gone. He was practically penniless, at a time when he
needed money most. He still owned his house in Madison Avenue, but
that would have to go to settle with his creditors. By the time
everything was paid there would only remain enough for a modest
competence. As to his salary, of course he could not touch that so
long as this accusation was hanging over his head. And if he were
impeached it would stop altogether. The salary, therefore, was not to
be counted on. They must manage as best they could and live more
cheaply, taking a small house somewhere in the outskirts of the city
where he could prepare his case quietly without attracting attention.
Stott thought this was the best thing they could do and he
volunteered to relieve his friend by taking on his own hands all the
arrangements of the sale of the house and furniture, which offer the
judge accepted only too gladly. Meantime, Mrs. Rossmore went to Long
Island to see what could be had, and she found at the little village
of Massapequa just what they were looking for—a commodious,
neatly-furnished two-story cottage at a modest rental. Of course, it
was nothing like what they had been accustomed to, but it was clean
and comfortable, and as Mrs. Rossmore said, rather tactlessly, beggars
cannot be choosers. Perhaps it would not be for long. Instant
possession was to be had, so deposit was paid on the spot and a few
days later the Rossmores left their mansion on Madison Avenue and took
up their residence in Massapequa, where their advent created quite a
fluster in local social circles.
Massapequa is one of the thousand and one flourishing communities
scattered over Long Island, all of which are apparently modelled
after the same pattern. Each is an exact duplicate of its neighbour
in everything except the name—the same untidy railroad station, the
same sleepy stores, the same attractive little frame residences, built
for the most part on the "Why pay Rent? Own your own Home" plan. A
healthy boom in real estate imparts plenty of life to them all and
Massapequa is particularly famed as being the place where the cat
jumped to when Manhattan had to seek an outlet for its congested
population and ever-increasing army of home seekers. Formerly large
tracts of flat farm lands, only sparsely shaded by trees, Massapequa,
in common with other villages of its kind, was utterly destitute of
any natural attractions. There was the one principal street leading to
the station, with a few scattered stores on either side, a church and
a bank. Happily, too, for those who were unable to survive the
monotony of the place, it boasted of a pretty cemetery. There were
also a number of attractive cottages with spacious porches hung with
honeysuckle and of these the Rossmores occupied one of the less
But although Massapequa, theoretically speaking, was situated only
a stone's throw from the metropolis, it might have been situated in
the Great Sahara so far as its inhabitants took any active interest in
the doings of gay Gotham. Local happenings naturally had first claim
upon Massapequa's attention—the prowess of the local baseball team,
Mrs. Robinson's tea party and the highly exciting sessions of the
local Pinochle Club furnishing food for unlimited gossip and scandal.
The newspapers reached the village, of course, but only the local news
items aroused any real interest, while the women folk usually
restricted their readings to those pages devoted to Daily Hints for
the Home, Mrs. Sayre's learned articles on Health and Beauty and Fay
Stanton's Daily Fashions. It was not surprising, therefore, that the
fame of Judge Rossmore and the scandal in which he was at present
involved had not penetrated as far as Massapequa and that the natives
were considerably mystified as to who the new arrivals in their midst
Stott had been given a room in the cottage so that he might be
near at hand to work with the judge in the preparation of the
defence, and he came out from the city every evening. It was now
June. The Senate would not take action until it convened in December,
but there was a lot of work to be done and no time to be lost.
The evening following the day of their arrival they were sitting
on the porch enjoying the cool evening air after dinner. The judge
was smoking. He was not a slave to the weed, but he enjoyed a quiet
pipe after meals, claiming that it quieted his nerves and enabled him
to think more clearly. Besides, it was necessary to keep at bay the
ubiquitous Long Island mosquito. Mrs. Rossmore had remained for a
moment in the dining-room to admonish Eudoxia, their new and only
maid-of-all-work, not to wreck too much of the crockery when she
removed the dinner dishes. Suddenly Stott, who was perusing an evening
"By the way, where's your daughter? Does she know of this radical
change in your affairs?"
Judge Rossmore started. By what mysterious agency had this man
penetrated his own most intimate thoughts? He was himself thinking of
Shirley that very moment, and by some inexplicable means— telepathy
modern psychologists called it—the thought current had crossed to
Stott, whose mind, being in full sympathy, was exactly attuned to
receive it. Removing the pipe from his mouth the judge replied:
"Shirley's in Paris. Poor girl, I hadn't the heart to tell her.
She has no idea of what's happened. I didn't want to spoil her
He was silent for a moment. Then, after a few more puffs he added
confidentially in a low tone, as if he did not care for his wife to
"The truth is, Stott, I couldn't bear to have her return now. I
couldn't look my own daughter in the face."
A sound as of a great sob which he had been unable to control cut
short his speech. His eyes filled with tears and he began to smoke
furiously as if ashamed of this display of emotion. Stott, blowing
his nose with suspicious vigor, replied soothingly:
"You mustn't talk like that. Everything will come out all right,
of course. But I think you are wrong not to have told your daughter.
Her place is here at your side. She ought to be told even if only in
justice to her. If you don't tell her someone else will, or, what's
worse, she'll hear of it through the newspapers."
"Ah, I never thought of that!" exclaimed the judge, visibly
perturbed at the suggestion about the newspapers.
"Don't you agree with me?" demanded Stott, appealing to Mrs.
Rossmore, who emerged from the house at that instant. "Don't you
think your daughter should be informed of what has happened?"
"Most assuredly I do," answered Mrs. Rossmore determinedly. "The
judge wouldn't hear of it, but I took the law into my own hands. I've
cabled for her."
"You cabled for Shirley?" cried the judge incredulously. He was so
unaccustomed to seeing his ailing, vacillating wife do anything on
her own initiative and responsibility that it seemed impossible. "You
cabled for Shirley?" he repeated.
"Yes," replied Mrs. Rossmore triumphantly and secretly pleased
that for once in her life she had asserted herself. "I cabled
yesterday. I simply couldn't bear it alone any longer."
"What did you say?" inquired the judge apprehensively.
"I just told her to come home at once. To-morrow we ought to get
Stott meantime had been figuring on the time of Shirley's probable
arrival. If the cablegram had been received in Paris the previous
evening it would be too late to catch the French boat. The North
German Lloyd steamer was the next to leave and it touched at
Cherbourg. She would undoubtedly come on that. In a week at most she
would be here. Then it became a question as to who should go to meet
her at the dock. The judge could not go, that was certain. It would be
too much of an ordeal. Mrs. Rossmore did not know the lower part of
the city well, and had no experience in meeting ocean steamships.
There was only one way out—would Stott go? Of course he would and he
would bring Shirley back with him to Massapequa. So during the next
few days while Stott and the judge toiled preparing their case, which
often necessitated brief trips to the city, Mrs. Rossmore, seconded
with sulky indifference by Eudoxia, was kept busy getting a room ready
for her daughter's arrival. Eudoxia, who came originally from County
Cork, was an Irish lady with a thick brogue and a husky temper. She
was amiable enough so long as things went to her satisfaction, but
when they did not suit her she was a termagant. She was neither
beautiful nor graceful, she was not young nor was she very clean. Her
usual condition was dishevelled, her face was all askew, and when she
dressed up she looked like a valentine. Her greatest weakness was a
propensity for smashing dishes, and when reprimanded she would
threaten to take her traps and skidoo. This news of the arrival of a
daughter failed to fill her with enthusiasm. Firstly, it meant more
work; secondly she had not bargained for it. When she took the place
it was on the understanding that the family consisted only of an
elderly gentleman and his wife, that there was practically no work,
good wages, plenty to eat, with the privilege of an evening out when
she pleased. Instead of this millennium she soon found Stott installed
as a permanent guest and now a daughter was to be foisted on her. No
wonder hard working girls were getting sick and tired of housework!
As already hinted there was no unhealthy curiosity among
Massapequans regarding their new neighbors from the city but some of
the more prominent people of the place considered it their duty to
seek at least a bowing acquaintance with the Rossmores by paying them
a formal visit. So the day following the conversation on the porch
when the judge and Stott had gone to the city on one of their
periodical excursions, Mrs. Rossmore was startled to see a gentleman
of clerical appearance accompanied by a tall, angular woman enter
their gate and ring the bell.
The Rev. Percival Pontifex Beetle and his sister Miss Jane Beetle
prided themselves on being leaders in the best social circle in
Massapequa. The incumbent of the local Presbyterian church, the Rev.
Deetle, was a thin, sallow man of about thirty-five. He had a
diminutive face with a rather long and very pointed nose which gave a
comical effect to his physiognomy. Theology was written all over his
person and he wore the conventional clerical hat which, owing to his
absurdly small face, had the unfortunate appearance of being several
sizes too large for him. Miss Deetle was a gaunt and angular spinster
who had an unhappy trick of talking with a jerk. She looked as if she
were constantly under self-restraint and was liable at any moment to
explode into a fit of rage and only repressed herself with
considerable effort. As they came up the stoop, Eudoxia, already
instructed by Mrs. Rossmore, was ready for them. With her instinctive
respect for the priestly garb she was rather taken back on seeing a
clergyman, but she brazened it out:
"Mr. Rossmore's not home." Then shaking her head, she added: "They
don't see no visitors."
Unabashed, the Rev. Deetle drew a card from a case and handing it
to the girl said pompously:
"Then we will see Mrs. Rossmore. I saw her at the window as we
came along. Here, my girl, take her this card. Tell her that the
Reverend Pontifex Deetle and Miss Deetle have called to present their
Brushing past Eudoxia, who vainly tried to close the door, the
Rev. Deetle coolly entered the house, followed by his sister, and
took a seat in the parlour.
"She'll blame me for this," wailed the girl, who had not budged
and who stood there fingering the Rev. Deetle's card.
"Blame you? For what?" demanded the clerical visitor in surprise.
"She told me to say she was out—but I can't lie to a minister of
the Gospel—leastways not to his face. I'll give her your card, sir."
The reverend caller waited until Eudoxia had disappeared, then he
rose and looked around curiously at the books and pictures.
"Hum—not a Bible or a prayer book or a hymn book, not a picture
or anything that would indicate the slightest reverence for holy
He picked up a few papers that were lying on the table and after
glancing at them threw them down in disgust.
"Law reports—Wall Street reports—the god of this world.
Evidently very ordinary people, Jane."
He looked at his sister, but she sat stiffly and primly in her
chair and made no reply. He repeated:
"Didn't you hear me? I said they are ordinary people."
"I've no doubt," retorted Miss Deetle, "and as such they will not
thank us for prying into their affairs."
"Prying, did you say?" said the parson, resenting this implied
criticism of his actions.
"Just plain prying," persisted his sister angrily. "I don't see
what else it is."
The Rev. Pontifex straightened up and threw out his chest as he
"It is protecting my flock. As Leader of the Unified All Souls
Baptismal Presbytery, it is my duty to visit the widows and orphans
of this community."
"These people are neither widows or orphans," objected Miss
"They are strangers," insisted the Rev. Pontifex, "and it is my
duty to minister to them—if they need it. Furthermore it is my duty
to my congregation to find out who is in their midst. No less than
three of the Lady Trustees of my church have asked me who and what
these people are and whence they came."
"The Lady Trustees are a pack of old busybodies," growled his
Her brother raised his finger warningly.
"Jane, do you know you are uttering a blasphemy? These Rossmore
people have been here two weeks They have visited no one, no one
visits them. They have avoided a temple of worship, they have acted
most mysteriously. Who are they? What are they hiding? Is it fair to
my church, is it fair to my flock? It is not a bereavement, for they
don't wear mourning. I'm afraid it may be some hidden scandal—"
Further speculations on his part were interrupted by the entrance
of Mrs. Rossmore, who thought rightly that the quickest way to get
rid of her unwelcome visitors was to hurry downstairs as quickly as
"Miss Deetle—Mr. Deetle. I am much honoured," was her not too
The Reverend Pontifex, anxious to make a favourable impression,
was all smiles and bows. The idea of a possible scandal had for the
moment ceased to worry him.
"The honour is ours," he stammered. "I—er—we—er—my sister Jane
and I called to—"
"Won't you sit down?" said Mrs. Rossmore, waving him to a chair.
He danced around her in a manner that made her nervous.
"Thank you so much," he said with a smile that was meant to be
amiable. He took a seat at the further end of the room and an awkward
pause followed. Finally his sister prompted him:
"You wanted to see Mrs. Rossmore about the festival," she said.
"Oh, of course, I had quite forgotten. How stupid of me. The fact
is, Mrs. Rossmore," he went on, "we are thinking of giving a festival
next week—a festival with strawberries—and our trustees thought, in
fact it occurred to me also that if you and Mr. Rossmore would grace
the occasion with your presence it would give us an opportunity—so to
speak—get better acquainted, and er—"
Another awkward pause followed during which he sought inspiration
by gazing fixedly in the fireplace. Then turning on Mrs. Rossmore so
suddenly that the poor woman nearly jumped out of her chair he asked:
"Do you like strawberries?"
"It's very kind of you," interrupted Mrs. Rossmore, glad of the
opportunity to get a word in edgeways. "Indeed, I appreciate your
kindness most keenly but my husband and I go nowhere, nowhere at all.
You see we have met with reverses and—"
"Reverses," echoed the clerical visitor, with difficulty keeping
his seat. This was the very thing he had come to find out and here it
was actually thrown at him. He congratulated himself on his cleverness
in having inspired so much confidence and thought with glee of his
triumph when he returned with the full story to the Lady Trustees.
Simulating, therefore, the deepest sympathy he tried to draw his
"Dear me, how sad! You met with reverses."
Turning to his sister, who was sitting in her corner like a
petrified mummy, he added:
"Jane, do you hear? How inexpressibly sad! They have met with
He paused, hoping that Mrs. Rossmore would go on to explain just
what their reverses had been, but she was silent. As a gentle hint he
"Did I interrupt you, Madam?"
"Not at all, I did not speak," she answered.
Thus baffled, he turned the whites of his eyes up to the ceiling
"When reverses come we naturally look for spiritual consolation.
My dear Mrs. Rossmore, in the name of the Unified All Souls Baptismal
Presbytery I offer you that consolation."
Mrs. Rossmore looked helplessly from one to the other embarrassed
as to what to say. Who were these strangers that intruded on her
privacy offering a consolation she did not want? Miss Deetle, as if
glad of the opportunity to joke at her brother's expense, said
"My dear Pontifex, you have already offered a strawberry festival
which Mrs. Rossmore has been unable to accept."
"Well, what of it?" demanded Mr. Deetle, glaring at his sister for
the irrelevant interruption.
"You are both most kind," murmured Mrs. Rossmore; "but we could
not accept in any case. My daughter is returning home from Paris next
"Ah, your daughter—you have a daughter?" exclaimed Mr. Deetle,
grasping at the slightest straw to add to his stock of information.
"Coming from Paris, too! Such a wicked city!"
He had never been to Paris, he went on to explain, but he had read
enough about it and he was grateful that the Lord had chosen
Massapequa as the field of his labours. Here at least, life was sweet
and wholesome and one's hopes of future salvation fairly reasonable.
He was not a brilliant talker when the conversation extended beyond
Massapequa but he rambled on airing his views on the viciousness of
the foreigner in general, until Mrs. Rossmore, utterly wearied, began
to wonder when they would go. Finally he fell back upon the weather.
"We are very fortunate in having such pleasant weather, don't you
think so, Madam? Oh, Massapequa is a lovely spot, isn't it? We think
it's the one place to live in. We are all one happy family. That's why
my sister and I called to make your acquaintance."
"You are very good, I'm sure. I shall tell my husband you came and
he'll be very pleased."
Having exhausted his conversational powers and seeing that further
efforts to pump Mrs. Rossmore were useless, the clerical visitor rose
"It looks like rain. Come, Jane, we had better go. Good-bye,
Madam, I am delighted to have made this little visit and I trust you
will assure Mr. Rossmore that All Souls Unified Baptismal Presbytery
always has a warm welcome for him."
They bowed and Mrs. Rossmore bowed. The agony was over and as the
door closed on them Mrs. Rossmore gave a sigh of relief.
That evening Stott and the judge came home earlier than usual and
from their dejected appearance Mrs. Rossmore divined bad news. The
judge was painfully silent throughout the meal and Stott was
unusually grave. Finally the latter took her aside and broke it to
her gently. In spite of their efforts and the efforts of their
friends the Congressional inquiry had resulted in a finding against
the judge and a demand had already been made upon the Senate for his
impeachment. They could do nothing now but fight it in the Senate with
all the influence they could muster. It was going to be hard but Stott
was confident that right would prevail. After dinner as they were
sitting in silence on the porch, each measuring the force of this blow
which they had expected yet had always hoped to ward off, the
crunching sound of a bicycle was heard on the quiet country road. The
rider stopped at their gate and came up the porch holding out an
envelope to the judge, who, guessing the contents, had started
forward. He tore it open. It was a cablegram from Paris and read as
Am sailing on the Kaiser Wilhelm to-day.
The pier of the North German Lloyd Steamship Company, at Hoboken,
fairly sizzled with bustle and excitement. The Kaiser Wilhelm had
arrived at Sandy Hook the previous evening and was now lying out in
midstream. She would tie up at her dock within half an hour. Employes
of the line, baggage masters, newspaper reporters, Custom House
officers, policemen, detectives, truck drivers, expressmen,
longshoremen, telegraph messengers and anxious friends of incoming
passengers surged back and forth in seemingly hopeless confusion. The
shouting of orders, the rattling of cab wheels, the shrieking of
whistles was deafening. From out in the river came the deep toned
blasts of the steamer's siren, in grotesque contrast with the strident
tooting of a dozen diminutive tugs which, puffing and snorting, were
slowly but surely coaxing the leviathan into her berth alongside the
dock. The great vessel, spick and span after a coat of fresh paint
hurriedly put on during the last day of the voyage, bore no traces of
gale, fog and stormy seas through which she had passed on her 3,000
mile run across the ocean. Conspicuous on the bridge, directing the
docking operations, stood Capt. Hegermann, self satisfied and smiling,
relieved that the responsibilities of another trip were over, and at
his side, sharing the honours, was the grizzled pilot who had brought
the ship safely through the dangers of Gedney's Channel, his shabby
pea jacket, old slouch hat, top boots and unkempt beard standing out
in sharp contrast with the immaculate white duck trousers, the white
and gold caps and smart full dress uniforms of the ship's officers.
The rails on the upper decks were seen to be lined with passengers,
all dressed in their shore going clothes, some waving handkerchiefs at
friends they already recognized, all impatiently awaiting the shipping
of the gangplank.
Stott had come early. They had received word at Massapequa the day
before that the steamer had been sighted off Fire Island and that she
would be at her pier the next morning at 10 o'clock. Stott arrived at
9.30 and so found no difficulty in securing a front position among the
small army of people, who, like himself, had come down to meet
As the huge vessel swung round and drew closer, Stott easily
picked out Shirley. She was scanning eagerly through a binocular the
rows of upturned faces on the dock, and he noted that a look of
disappointment crossed her face at not finding the object of her
search. She turned and said something to a lady in black and to a man
who stood at her side. Who they might be Stott had no idea. Fellow
passengers, no doubt. One becomes so intimate on shipboard; it seems a
friendship that must surely last a lifetime, whereas the custom
officers have not finished rummaging through your trunks when these
easily-made steamer friends are already forgotten. Presently Shirley
took another look and her glass soon lighted on him. Instantly she
recognized her father's old friend. She waved a handkerchief and Stott
raised his hat. Then she turned quickly and spoke again to her
friends, whereupon they all moved in the direction of the gangplank,
which was already being lowered.
Shirley was one of the first to come ashore. Stott was waiting for
her at the foot of the gangplank and she threw her arms round his
neck and kissed him. He had known her ever since she was a little tot
in arms, and bystanders who noticed them meet had no doubt that they
were father and daughter. Shirley was deeply moved; a great lump in
her throat seemed to choke her utterance. So far she had been able to
bear up, but now that home was so near her heart failed her. She had
hoped to find her father on the dock. Why had he not come? Were things
so bad then? She questioned Judge Stott anxiously, fearfully.
He reassured her. Both her mother and father were well. It was too
long a trip for them to make, so he had volunteered.
"Too long a trip," echoed Shirley puzzled. "This is not far from
our house. Madison Avenue is no distance. That could not have kept
"You don't live on Madison Avenue any longer. The house and its
contents have been sold," replied Stott gravely, and in a few words
he outlined the situation as it was.
Shirley listened quietly to the end and only the increasing pallor
of her face and an occasional nervous twitching at the corner of her
mouth betrayed the shock that this recital of her father's misfortunes
was to her. Ah, this she had little dreamed of! Yet why not? It was
but logic. When wrecked in reputation, one might as well be wrecked in
fortune, too. What would their future be, how could that proud,
sensitive man her father bear this humiliation, this disgrace? To be
condemned to a life of obscurity, social ostracism, and genteel
poverty! Oh, the thought was unendurable! She herself could earn
money, of course. If her literary work did not bring in enough, she
could teach and what she earned would help out. Certainly her parents
should never want for anything so long as she could supply it. She
thought bitterly how futile now were plans of marriage, even if she
had ever entertained such an idea seriously. Henceforward, she did not
belong to herself. Her life must be devoted to clearing her father's
name. These reflections were suddenly interrupted by the voice of Mrs.
Blake calling out:
"Shirley, where have you been? We lost sight of you as we left the
ship, and we have been hunting for you ever since."
Her aunt, escorted by Jefferson Ryder, had gone direct to the
Customs desk and in the crush they had lost trace of her. Shirley
"Aunt Milly, this is Judge Stott, a very old friend of father's.
Mrs. Blake, my mother's sister. Mother will be surprised to see her.
They haven't met for ten years."
"This visit is going to be only a brief one," said Mrs. Blake. "I
really came over to chaperone Shirley more than anything else."
"As if I needed chaperoning with Mr. Ryder for an escort!"
retorted Shirley. Then presenting Jefferson to Stott, she said:
"This is Mr. Jefferson Ryder—Judge Stott. Mr. Ryder has been very
kind to me abroad."
The two men bowed and shook hands.
"Any relation to J.B.?" asked Stott good humouredly.
"His son—that's all," answered Jefferson laconically.
Stott now looked at the young man with more interest. Yes, there
was a resemblance, the same blue eyes, the fighting jaw. But how on
earth did Judge Rossmore's daughter come to be travelling in the
company of John Burkett Ryder's son? The more he thought of it the
more it puzzled him, and while he cogitated, Shirley and her
companions wrestled with the United States Customs, and were
undergoing all the tortures invented by Uncle Sam to punish Americans
for going abroad.
Shirley and Mrs. Blake were fortunate in securing an inspector who
was fairly reasonable. Of course, he did not for a moment believe
their solemn statement, already made on the ship, that they had
nothing dutiable, and he rummaged among the most intimate garments of
their wardrobe in a wholly indecent and unjustifiable manner, but he
was polite and they fared no worse than all the other women victims of
this, the most brutal custom house inspection system in the world.
Jefferson had the misfortune to be allotted an inspector who was
half seas over with liquor and the man was so insolent and
threatening in manner that it was only by great self-restraint that
Jefferson controlled himself. He had no wish to create a scandal on
the dock, nor to furnish good "copy" for the keen-eyed, long-eared
newspaper reporters who would be only too glad of such an opportunity
for a "scare head". But when the fellow compelled him to open every
trunk and valise and then put his grimy hands to the bottom and by a
quick upward movement jerked the entire contents out on the dock, he
"You are exceeding your authority," he exclaimed hotly. "How dare
you treat my things in this manner?"
The drunken uniformed brute raised his bloodshot, bleary eyes and
took Jefferson in from tip to toe. He clenched his fist as if about
to resort to violence, but he was not so intoxicated as to be quite
blind to the fact that this passenger had massive square shoulders, a
determined jaw and probably a heavy arm. So contenting himself with a
sneer, he said:
"This ain't no country for blooming English docks. You're not in
England now you know. This is a free country. See?"
"I see this," replied Jefferson, furious, "that you are a drunken
ruffian and a disgrace to the uniform you wear. I shall report your
conduct immediately," with which he proceeded to the Customs desk to
lodge a complaint.
He might have spared himself the trouble. The silver-haired,
distinguished looking old officer in charge knew that Jefferson's
complaint was well founded, he knew that this particular inspector
was a drunkard and a discredit to the government which employed him,
but at the same time he also knew that political influence had been
behind his appointment and that it was unsafe to do more than mildly
reprimand him. When, therefore, he accompanied Jefferson to the spot
where the contents of the trunks lay scattered in confusion all over
the dock, he merely expostulated with the officer, who made some
insolent reply. Seeing that it was useless to lose further time,
Jefferson repacked his trunks as best he could and got them on a cab.
Then he hurried over to Shirley's party and found them already about
to leave the pier.
"Come and see us, Jeff," whispered Shirley as their cab drove
through the gates.
"Where," he asked, "Madison Avenue?"
She hesitated for a moment and then replied quickly:
"No, we are stopping down on Long Island for the Summer—at a cute
little place called Massapequa. Run down and see us."
He raised his hat and the cab drove on.
There was greater activity in the Rossmore cottage at Massapequa
than there had been any day since the judge and his wife went to live
there. Since daybreak Eudoxia had been scouring and polishing in
honour of the expected arrival and a hundred times Mrs. Rossmore had
climbed the stairs to see that everything was as it should be in the
room which had been prepared for Shirley. It was not, however, without
a passage at arms that Eudoxia consented to consider the idea of an
addition to the family. Mrs. Rossmore had said to her the day before:
"My daughter will be here to-morrow, Eudoxia."
A look expressive of both displeasure and astonishment marred the
classic features of the hireling. Putting her broom aside and placing
her arms akimbo she exclaimed in an injured tone:
"And it's a dayther you've got now? So it's three in family you
are! When I took the place it's two you tould me there was!"
"Well, with your kind permission," replied Mrs. Rossmore, "there
will be three in future. There is nothing in the Constitution of the
United States that says we can't have a daughter without consulting
our help, is there?"
The sarcasm of this reply did not escape even the dull-edged wits
of the Irish drudge. She relapsed into a dignified silence and a few
minutes later was discovered working with some show of enthusiasm.
The judge was nervous and fidgety. He made a pretence to read, but
it was plain to see that his mind was not on his book. He kept
leaving his chair to go and look at the clock; then he would lay the
volume aside and wander from room to room like a lost soul. His
thoughts were on the dock at Hoboken.
By noon every little detail had been attended to and there was
nothing further to do but sit and wait for the arrival of Stott and
Shirley. They were to be expected any moment now. The passengers had
probably got off the steamer by eleven o'clock. It would take at least
two hours to get through the Customs and out to Massapequa. The judge
and his wife sat on the porch counting the minutes and straining their
ears to catch the first sound of the train from New York.
"I hope Stott broke the news to her gently," said the judge.
"I wish we had gone to meet her ourselves," sighed his wife.
The judge was silent and for a moment or two he puffed vigorously
at his pipe, as was his habit when disturbed mentally. Then he said:
"I ought to have gone, Martha, but I was afraid. I'm afraid to
look my own daughter in the face and tell her that I am a disgraced
man, that I am to be tried by the Senate for corruption, perhaps
impeached and turned off the bench as if I were a criminal. Shirley
won't believe it, sometimes I can't believe it myself. I often wake up
in the night and think of it as part of a dream, but when the morning
comes it's still true—it's still true!"
He smoked on in silence. Then happening to look up he noticed that
his wife was weeping. He laid his hand gently on hers.
"Don't cry, dear, don't make it harder for me to bear. Shirley
must see no trace of tears."
"I was thinking of the injustice of it all," replied Mrs.
Rossmore, wiping her eyes.
"Fancy Shirley in this place, living from hand to mouth," went on
"That's the least," answered his wife. "She's a fine, handsome
girl, well educated and all the rest of it. She ought to make a good
marriage." No matter what state of mind Mrs. Rossmore might be in, she
never lost sight of the practical side of things.
"Hardly with her father's disgrace hanging over her head," replied
the judge wearily. "Who," he added, "would have the courage to marry
a girl whose father was publicly disgraced?"
Both relapsed into another long silence, each mentally reviewing
the past and speculating on the future. Suddenly Mrs. Rossmore
started. Surely she could not be mistaken! No, the clanging of a
locomotive bell was plainly audible. The train was in. From the
direction of the station came people with parcels and hand bags and
presently there was heard the welcome sound of carriage wheels
crunching over the stones. A moment later they saw coming round the
bend in the road a cab piled up with small baggage.
"Here they are! Here they are!" cried Mrs. Rossmore. "Come,
Eudoxia!" she called to the servant, while she herself hurried down
to the gate. The judge, fully as agitated as herself, only showing his
emotion in a different way, remained on the porch pale and anxious.
The cab stopped at the curb and Stott alighted, first helping out
Mrs. Blake. Mrs. Rossmore's astonishment on seeing her sister was
"Milly!" she exclaimed.
They embraced first and explained afterwards. Then Shirley got out
and was in her mother's arms.
"Where's father?" was Shirley's first question.
The judge, unable to restrain his impatience longer, ran down from
the porch towards the gate. Shirley, with a cry of mingled grief and
joy, precipitated herself on his breast.
"Father! Father!" she cried between her sobs. "What have they done
"There—there, my child. Everything will be well—everything will
Her head lay on his shoulder and he stroked her hair with his
hand, unable to speak from pent up emotion.
Mrs. Rossmore could not recover from her stupefaction on seeing
her sister. Mrs. Blake explained that she had come chiefly for the
benefit of the voyage and announced her intention of returning on the
"So you see I shall bother you only a few days," she said.
"You'll stay just as long as you wish," rejoined Mrs. Rossmore.
"Happily we have just one bedroom left." Then turning to Eudoxia, who
was wrestling with the baggage, which formed a miniature Matterhorn on
the sidewalk, she gave instructions:
"Eudoxia, you'll take this lady's baggage to the small bedroom
adjoining Miss Shirley's. She is going to stop with us for a few
Taken completely aback at the news of this new addition, Eudoxia
looked at first defiance. She seemed on the point of handing in her
resignation there and then. But evidently she thought better of it,
for, taking a cue from Mrs. Rossmore, she asked in the sarcastic
manner of her mistress:
"Four is it now, M'm? I suppose the Constitootion of the United
States allows a family to be as big as one likes to make it. It's
hard on us girls, but if it's the law, it's all right, M'm. The more
the merrier!" With which broadside, she hung the bags all over herself
and staggered off to the house.
Stott explained that the larger pieces and the trunks would come
later by express. Mrs. Rossmore took him aside while Mrs. Blake
joined Shirley and the judge.
"Did you tell Shirley?" asked Mrs. Rossmore. "How did she take
"She knows everything," answered Stott, "and takes it very
sensibly. We shall find her of great moral assistance in our coming
fight in the Senate," he added confidently.
Realizing that the judge would like to be left alone with Shirley,
Mrs. Rossmore invited Mrs. Blake to go upstairs and see the room she
would have, while Stott said he would be glad of a washup. When they
had gone Shirley sidled up to her father in her old familiar way.
"I've just been longing to see you, father," she said. She turned
to get a good look at him and noticing the lines of care which had
deepened during her absence she cried: "Why, how you've changed! I
can scarcely believe it's you. Say something. Let me hear the sound
of your voice, father."
The judge tried to smile.
"Why, my dear girl, I—-"
Shirley threw her arms round his neck.
"Ah, yes, now I know it's you," she cried.
"Of course it is, Shirley, my dear girl. Of course it is. Who else
should it be?"
"Yes, but it isn't the same," insisted Shirley. "There is no ring
to your voice. It sounds hollow and empty, like an echo. And this
place," she added dolefully, "this awful place—"
She glanced around at the cracked ceilings, the cheaply papered
walls, the shabby furniture, and her heart sank as she realized the
extent of their misfortune. She had come back prepared for the worst,
to help win the fight for her father's honour, but to have to struggle
against sordid poverty as well, to endure that humiliation in addition
to disgrace—ah, that was something she had not anticipated! She
changed colour and her voice faltered. Her father had been closely
watching for just such signs and he read her thoughts.
"It's the best we can afford, Shirley," he said quietly. "The blow
has been complete. I will tell you everything. You shall judge for
yourself. My enemies have done for me at last."
"Your enemies?" cried Shirley eagerly. "Tell me who they are so I
may go to them."
"Yes, dear, you shall know everything. But not now. You are tired
after your journey. To-morrow sometime Stott and I will explain
"Very well, father, as you wish," said Shirley gently. "After
all," she added in an effort to appear cheerful, "what matter where
we live so long as we have each other?"
She drew away to hide her tears and left the room on pretence of
inspecting the house. She looked into the dining-room and kitchen and
opened the cupboards, and when she returned there were no visible
signs of trouble in her face.
"It's a cute little house, isn't it?" she said. "I've always
wanted a little place like this—all to ourselves. Oh, if you only
knew how tired I am of New York and its great ugly houses, its
retinue of servants and its domestic and social responsibilities! We
shall be able to live for ourselves now, eh, father?"
She spoke with a forced gaiety that might have deceived anyone but
the judge. He understood the motive of her sudden change in manner
and silently he blessed her for making his burden lighter.
"Yes, dear, it's not bad," he said. "There's not much room,
"There's quite enough," she insisted. "Let me see." She began to
count on her fingers. "Upstairs—three rooms, eh? and above that
"No," smiled the judge, "then comes the roof?"
"Of course," she laughed, "how stupid of me—a nice gable roof, a
sloping roof that the rain runs off beautifully. Oh, I can see that
this is going to be awfully jolly—just like camping out. You know how
I love camping out. And you have a piano, too."
She went over to the corner where stood one of those homely
instruments which hardly deserve to be dignified by the name piano,
with a cheap, gaudily painted case outside and a tin pan effect
inside, and which are usually to be found in the poorer class of
country boarding houses. Shirley sat down and ran her fingers over the
keys, determined to like everything.
"It's a little old," was her comment, "but I like these zither
effects. It's just like the sixteenth-century spinet. I can see you
and mother dancing a stately minuet," she smiled.
"What's that about mother dancing?" demanded Mrs. Rossmore, who at
that instant entered the room. Shirley arose and appealed to her:
"Isn't it absurd, mother, when you come to think of it, that
anybody should accuse father of being corrupt and of having forfeited
the right to be judge? Isn't it still more absurd that we should be
helpless and dejected and unhappy because we are on Long Island
instead of Madison Avenue? Why should Manhattan Island be a happier
spot than Long Island? Why shouldn't we be happy anywhere; we have
each other. And we do need each other. We never knew how much till
to-day, did we? We must stand by each other now. Father is going to
clear his name of this preposterous charge and we're going to help
him, aren't we, mother? We're not helpless just because we are women.
We're going to work, mother and I."
"Work?" echoed Mrs. Rossmore, somewhat scandalized.
"Work," repeated Shirley very decisively.
The judge interfered. He would not hear of it.
"You work, Shirley? Impossible!"
"Why not? My book has been selling well while I was abroad. I
shall probably write others. Then I shall write, too, for the
newspapers and magazines. It will add to our income."
"Your book—'The American Octopus,' is selling well?" inquired the
"So well," replied Shirley, "that the publishers wrote me in Paris
that the fourth edition was now on the press. That means good
royalties. I shall soon be a fashionable author. The publishers will
be after me for more books and we'll have all the money we want. Oh,
it is so delightful, this novel sensation of a literary success!" she
exclaimed with glee. "Aren't you proud of me, dad?"
The judge smiled indulgently. Of course he was glad and proud. He
always knew his Shirley was a clever girl. But by what strange
fatality, he thought to himself, had his daughter in this book of
hers assailed the very man who had encompassed his own ruin? It
seemed like the retribution of heaven. Neither his daughter nor the
financier was conscious of the fact that each was indirectly connected
with the impeachment proceedings. Ryder could not dream that "Shirley
Green", the author of the book which flayed him so mercilessly, was
the daughter of the man he was trying to crush. Shirley, on the other
hand, was still unaware of the fact that it was Ryder who had lured
her father to his ruin.
Mrs. Rossmore now insisted on Shirley going to her room to rest.
She must be tired and dusty. After changing her travelling dress she
would feel refreshed and more comfortable. When she was ready to come
down again luncheon would be served. So leaving the judge to his
papers, mother and daughter went upstairs together, and with due
maternal pride Mrs. Rossmore pointed out to Shirley all the little
arrangements she had made for her comfort. Then she left her daughter
to herself while she hurried downstairs to look after Eudoxia and
When, at last, she could lock herself in her room where no eye
could see her, Shirley threw herself down on the bed and burst into a
torrent of tears. She had kept up appearances as long as it was
possible, but now the reaction had set in. She gave way freely to her
pent up feelings, she felt that unless she could relieve herself in
this way her heart would break. She had been brave until now, she had
been strong to hear everything and see everything, but she could not
keep it up forever. Stott's words to her on the dock had in part
prepared her for the worst, he had told her what to expect at home,
but the realization was so much more vivid. While hundreds of miles of
ocean still lay between, it had all seemed less real, almost
attractive as a romance in modern life, but now she was face to face
with the grim reality—this shabby cottage, cheap neighbourhood and
commonplace surroundings, her mother's air of resignation to the
inevitable, her father's pale, drawn face telling so eloquently of the
keen mental anguish through which he had passed. She compared this
pitiful spectacle with what they had been when she left for Europe,
the fine mansion on Madison Avenue with its rich furnishings and
well-trained servants, and her father's proud aristocratic face
illumined with the consciousness of his high rank in the community,
and the attention he attracted every time he appeared on the street or
in public places as one of the most brilliant and most respected
judges on the bench. Then to have come to this all in the brief space
of a few months! It was incredible, terrible, heart rending! And what
of the future? What was to be done to save her father from this
impeachment which she knew well would hurry him to his grave? He could
not survive that humiliation, that degradation. He must be saved in
the Senate, but how—how?
She dried her eyes and began to think. Surely her woman's wit
would find some way. She thought of Jefferson. Would he come to
Massapequa? It was hardly probable. He would certainly learn of the
change in their circumstances and his sense of delicacy would
naturally keep him away for some time even if other considerations,
less unselfish, did not. Perhaps he would be attracted to some other
girl he would like as well and who was not burdened with a tragedy in
her family. Her tears began to flow afresh until she hated herself for
being so weak while there was work to be done to save her father. She
loved Jefferson. Yes, she had never felt so sure of it as now. She
felt that if she had him there at that moment she would throw herself
in his arms crying: "Take me, Jefferson, take me away, where you will,
for I love you! I love you!" But Jefferson was not there and the
rickety chairs in the tiny bedroom and the cheap prints on the walls
seemed to jibe at her in her misery. If he were there, she thought as
she looked into a cracked mirror, he would think her very ugly with
her eyes all red from crying. He would not marry her now in any case.
No self-respecting man would. She was glad that she had spoken to him
as she had in regard to marriage, for while a stain remained upon her
father's name marriage was out of the question. She might have yielded
on the question of the literary career, but she would never allow a
man to taunt her afterwards with the disgrace of her own flesh and
blood. No, henceforth her place was at her father's side until his
character was cleared. If the trial in the Senate were to go against
him, then she could never see Jefferson again. She would give up all
idea of him and everything else. Her literary career would be ended,
her life would be a blank. They would have to go abroad, where they
were not known, and try and live down their shame, for no matter how
innocent her father might be the world would believe him guilty. Once
condemned by the Senate, nothing could remove the stigma. She would
have to teach in order to contribute towards the support, they would
manage somehow. But what a future, how unnecessary, how unjust!
Suddenly she thought of Jefferson's promise to interest his father
in their case and she clutched at the hope this promise held out as a
drowning man clutches at a drifting straw. Jefferson would not forget
his promise and he would come to Massapequa to tell her of what he had
done. She was sure of that. Perhaps, after all, there was where their
hope lay. Why had she not told her father at once? It might have
relieved his mind. John Burkett Ryder, the Colossus, the man of
unlimited power! He could save her father and he would. And the more
she thought about it, the more cheerful and more hopeful she became,
and she started to dress quickly so that she might hurry down to tell
her father the good news. She was actually sorry now that she had said
so many hard things of Mr. Ryder in her book and she was worrying over
the thought that her father's case might be seriously prejudiced if
the identity of the author were ever revealed, when there came a knock
at her door. It was Eudoxia.
"Please, miss, will you come down to lunch?"
A whirling maelstrom of human activity and dynamic energy—the
city which above all others is characteristic of the genius and
virility of the American people—New York, with its congested
polyglot population and teeming millions, is assuredly one of the
busiest, as it is one of the most strenuous and most noisy places on
earth. Yet, despite its swarming streets and crowded shops,
ceaselessly thronged with men and women eagerly hurrying here and
there in the pursuit of business or elusive pleasure, all chattering,
laughing, shouting amid the deafening, multisonous roar of traffic
incidental to Gotham's daily life, there is one part of the great
metropolis where there is no bustle, no noise, no crowd, where the
streets are empty even in daytime, where a passer-by is a curiosity
and a child a phenomenon. This deserted village in the very heart of
the big town is the millionaires' district, the boundaries of which
are marked by Carnegie hill on the north, Fiftieth Street on the
south, and by Fifth and Madison Avenues respectively on the west and
east. There is nothing more mournful than the outward aspect of these
princely residences which, abandoned and empty for three-quarters of
the year, stand in stately loneliness, as if ashamed of their
isolation and utter uselessness. Their blinds drawn, affording no hint
of life within, enveloped the greater part of the time in the
stillness and silence of the tomb, they appear to be under the spell
of some baneful curse. No merry-voiced children romp in their
carefully railed off gardens, no sounds of conversation or laughter
come from their hermetically closed windows, not a soul goes in or
out, at most, at rare intervals, does one catch a glimpse of a
gorgeously arrayed servant gliding about in ghostly fashion,
supercilious and suspicious, and addressing the chance visitor in
awed whispers as though he were the guardian of a house of
affliction. It is, indeed, like a city of the dead.
So it appeared to Jefferson as he walked up Fifth Avenue, bound
for the Ryder residence, the day following his arrival from Europe.
Although he still lived at his father's house, for at no time had
there been an open rupture, he often slept in his studio, finding it
more convenient for his work, and there he had gone straight from the
ship. He felt, however, that it was his duty to see his mother as soon
as possible; besides he was anxious to fulfil his promise to Shirley
and find what his father could do to help Judge Rossmore. He had
talked about the case with several men the previous evening at the
club and the general impression seemed to be that, guilty or innocent,
the judge would be driven off the bench. The "interests" had forced
the matter as a party issue, and the Republicans being in control in
the Senate the outcome could hardly be in doubt. He had learned also
of the other misfortunes which had befallen Judge Rossmore and he
understood now the reason for Shirley's grave face on the dock and her
little fib about summering on Long Island. The news had been a shock
to him, for, apart from the fact that the judge was Shirley's father,
he admired him immensely as a man. Of his perfect innocence there
could, of course, be no question: these charges of bribery had simply
been trumped up by his enemies to get him off the bench. That was very
evident. The "interests" feared him and so had sacrificed him without
pity, and as Jefferson walked along Central Park, past the rows of
superb palaces which face its eastern wall, he wondered in which
particular mansion had been hatched this wicked, iniquitous plot
against a wholly blameless American citizen. Here, he thought, were
the citadels of the plutocrats, America's aristocracy of money, the
strongholds of her Coal, Railroad, Oil, Gas and Ice barons, the
castles of her monarchs of Steel, Copper, and Finance. Each of these
million-dollar residences, he pondered, was filled from cellar to roof
with costly furnishings, masterpieces of painting and sculpture,
priceless art treasures of all kinds purchased in every corner of the
globe with the gold filched from a Trust-ridden people. For every
stone in those marble halls a human being, other than the owner, had
been sold into bondage, for each of these magnificent edifices, which
the plutocrat put up in his pride only to occupy it two months in the
year, ten thousand American men, women and children had starved and
Europe, thought Jefferson as he strode quickly along, pointed with
envy to America's unparalleled prosperity, spoke with bated breath of
her great fortunes. Rather should they say her gigantic robberies, her
colossal frauds! As a nation we were not proud of our
multi-millionaires. How many of them would bear the search- light of
investigation? Would his own father? How many millions could one man
make by honest methods? America was enjoying unprecedented prosperity,
not because of her millionaires, but in spite of them. The United
States owed its high rank in the family of nations to the country's
vast natural resources, its inexhaustible vitality, its great wheat
fields, the industrial and mechanical genius of its people. It was the
plain American citizen who had made the greatness of America, not the
millionaires who, forming a class by themselves of unscrupulous
capitalists, had created an arrogant oligarchy which sought to rule
the country by corrupting the legislature and the judiciary. The
plutocrats— these were the leeches, the sores in the body politic. An
organized band of robbers, they had succeeded in dominating
legislation and in securing control of every branch of the nation's
industry, crushing mercilessly and illegally all competition. They
were the Money Power, and such a menace were they to the welfare of
the people that, it had been estimated, twenty men in America had it
in their power, by reason of the vast wealth which they controlled, to
come together, and within twenty- four hours arrive at an
understanding by which every wheel of trade and commerce would be
stopped from revolving, every avenue of trade blocked and every
electric key struck dumb. Those twenty men could paralyze the whole
country, for they controlled the circulation of the currency and could
create a panic whenever they might choose. It was the rapaciousness
and insatiable greed of these plutocrats that had forced the toilers
to combine for self- protection, resulting in the organization of the
Labor Unions which, in time, became almost as tyrannical and
unreasonable as the bosses. And the breach between capital on the one
hand and labour on the other was widening daily, masters and servants
snarling over wages and hours, the quarrel ever increasing in
bitterness and acrimony until one day the extreme limit of patience
would be reached and industrial strikes would give place to bloody
Meantime the plutocrats, wholly careless of the significant signs
of the times and the growing irritation and resentment of the people,
continued their illegal practices, scoffing at public opinion,
snapping their fingers at the law, even going so far in their
insolence as to mock and jibe at the President of the United States.
Feeling secure in long immunity and actually protected in their wrong
doing by the courts—the legal machinery by its very elaborateness
defeating the ends of justice—the Trust kings impudently defied the
country and tried to impose their own will upon the people. History
had thus repeated itself. The armed feudalism of the middle ages had
been succeeded in twentieth century America by the tyranny of capital.
Yet, ruminated the young artist as he neared the Ryder residence,
the American people had but themselves to blame for their present
thralldom. Forty years before Abraham Lincoln had warned the country
when at the close of the war he saw that the race for wealth was
already making men and women money-mad. In 1864 he wrote these words:
"Yes, we may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing
its close. It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood. The best
blood of the flower of American youth has been freely offered upon our
country's altar that the nation might live. It has been indeed a
trying hour for the Republic, but I see in the near future a crisis
approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety
of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been
enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow and the
money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by
working upon the prejudices of the people until all the wealth is
aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
Truly prophetic these solemn words were to-day. Forgetting the
austere simplicity of their forebears, a love of show and ostentation
had become the ruling passion of the American people. Money, MONEY,
_MONEY_! was to-day the only standard, the only god! The whole nation,
frenzied with a wild lust for wealth no matter how acquired, had
tacitly acquiesced in all sorts of turpitude, every description of
moral depravity, and so had fallen an easy victim to the band of
capitalistic adventurers who now virtually ruled the land. With the
thieves in power, the courts were powerless, the demoralization was
general and the world was afforded the edifying spectacle of an entire
country given up to an orgy of graft—treason in the
Senate—corruption in the Legislature, fraudulent elections, leaks in
government reports, trickery in Wall Street, illegal corners in coal,
meat, ice and other prime necessaries of life, the deadly horrors of
the Beef and Drug Trusts, railroad conspiracies, insurance scandals,
the wrecking of savings banks, police dividing spoils with pickpockets
and sharing the wages of prostitutes, magistrates charged with
blackmailing—a foul stench of social rottenness and decay! What,
thought Jefferson, would be the outcome—Socialism or Anarchy?
Still, he mused, one ray of hope pierced the general gloom—the
common sense, the vigour and the intelligence of the true American
man and woman, the love for a "square deal" which was characteristic
of the plain people, the resistless force of enlightened public
opinion. The country was merely passing through a dark phase in its
history, it was the era of the grafters. There would come a reaction,
the rascals would be exposed and driven off, and the nation would go
on upward toward its high destiny. The country was fortunate, too, in
having a strong president, a man of high principles and undaunted
courage who had already shown his capacity to deal with the critical
situation. America was lucky with her presidents. Picked out by the
great political parties as mere figureheads, sometimes they deceived
their sponsors, and showed themselves men and patriots. Such a
president was Theodore Roosevelt. After beginning vigorous warfare on
the Trusts, attacking fearlessly the most rascally of the band, the
chief of the nation had sounded the slogan of alarm in regard to the
multi-millionaires. The amassing of colossal fortunes, he had
declared, must be stopped—a man might accumulate more than
sufficient for his own needs and for the needs of his children, but
the evil practice of perpetuating great and ever-increasing fortunes
for generations yet unborn was recognized as a peril to the State. To
have had the courage to propose such a sweeping and radical
restrictive measure as this should alone, thought Jefferson, ensure
for Theodore Roosevelt a place among America's greatest and wisest
statesmen. He and Americans of his calibre would eventually perform
the titanic task of cleansing these Augean stables, the muck and
accumulated filth of which was sapping the health and vitality of the
Jefferson turned abruptly and went up the wide steps of an
imposing white marble edifice, which took up the space of half a city
block. A fine example of French Renaissance architecture, with spire
roofs, round turrets and mullioned windows dominating the neighbouring
houses, this magnificent home of the plutocrat, with its furnishings
and art treasures, had cost John Burkett Ryder nearly ten millions of
dollars. It was one of the show places of the town, and when the
"rubber neck" wagons approached the Ryder mansion and the guides,
through their megaphones, expatiated in awe-stricken tones on its
external and hidden beauties, there was a general craning of vertebrae
among the "seeing New York"-ers to catch a glimpse of the abode of the
richest man in the world.
Only a few privileged ones were ever permitted to penetrate to the
interior of this ten-million-dollar home. Ryder was not fond of
company, he avoided strangers and lived in continual apprehension of
the subpoena server. Not that he feared the law, only he usually found
it inconvenient to answer questions in court under oath. The explicit
instructions to the servants, therefore, were to admit no one under
any pretext whatever unless the visitor had been approved by the Hon.
Fitzroy Bagley, Mr. Ryder's aristocratic private secretary, and to
facilitate this preliminary inspection there had been installed
between the library upstairs and the front door one of those ingenious
electric writing devices, such as are used in banks, on which a name
is hastily scribbled, instantly transmitted elsewhere, immediately
answered and the visitor promptly admitted or as quickly shown the
Indeed the house, from the street, presented many of the
characteristics of a prison. It had massive doors behind a row of
highly polished steel gates, which would prove as useful in case of
attempted invasion as they were now ornamental, and heavily barred
windows, while on either side of the portico were great marble columns
hung with chains and surmounted with bronze lions rampant. It was
unusual to keep the town house open so late in the summer, but Mr.
Ryder was obliged for business reasons to be in New York at this time,
and Mrs. Ryder, who was one of the few American wives who do not
always get their own way, had good- naturedly acquiesced in the wishes
of her lord.
Jefferson did not have to ring at the paternal portal. The
sentinel within was at his post; no one could approach that door
without being seen and his arrival and appearance signalled upstairs.
But the great man's son headed the list of the privileged ones, so
without ado the smartly dressed flunkey opened wide the doors and
Jefferson was under his father's roof.
"Is my father in?" he demanded of the man.
"No, sir," was the respectful answer. "Mr. Ryder has gone out
driving, but Mr. Bagley is upstairs." Then after a brief pause he
added: "Mrs. Ryder is in, too."
In this household where the personality of the mistress was so
completely overshadowed by the stronger personality of the master the
latter's secretary was a more important personage to the servants than
the unobtrusive wife.
Jefferson went up the grand staircase hung on either side with
fine old portraits and rare tapestries, his feet sinking deep in the
rich velvet carpet. On the first landing was a piece of sculptured
marble of inestimable worth, seen in the soft warm light that sifted
through a great pictorial stained-glass window overhead, the subject
representing Ajax and Ulysses contending for the armour of Achilles.
To the left of this, at the top of another flight leading to the
library, was hung a fine full-length portrait of John Burkett Ryder.
The ceilings here as in the lower hall were richly gilt and adorned
with paintings by famous modern artists. When he reached this floor
Jefferson was about to turn to the right and proceed direct to his
mother's suite when he heard a voice near the library door. It was Mr.
Bagley giving instructions to the butler.
The Honourable Fitzroy Bagley, a younger son of a British peer,
had left his country for his country's good, and in order to turn an
honest penny, which he had never succeeded in doing at home, he had
entered the service of America's foremost financier, hoping to gather
a few of the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table and disguising
the menial nature of his position under the high- sounding title of
private secretary. His job called for a spy and a toady and he filled
these requirements admirably. Excepting with his employer, of whom he
stood in craven fear, his manner was condescendingly patronizing to
all with whom he came in contact, as if he were anxious to impress on
these American plebeians the signal honour which a Fitzroy, son of a
British peer, did them in deigning to remain in their "blarsted"
country. In Mr. Ryder's absence, therefore, he ran the house to suit
himself, bullying the servants and not infrequently issuing orders
that were contradictory to those already given by Mrs. Ryder. The
latter offered no resistance, she knew he was useful to her husband
and, what to her mind was a still better reason for letting him have
his own way, she had always had the greatest reverence for the
British aristocracy. It would have seemed to her little short of
vulgarity to question the actions of anyone who spoke with such a
delightful English accent. Moreover, he dressed with irreproachable
taste, was an acknowledged authority on dinner menus and social
functions and knew his Burke backwards— altogether an accomplished
and invaluable person.
Jefferson could not bear the sight of him; in fact, it was this
man's continual presence in the house that had driven him to seek
refuge elsewhere. He believed him to be a scoundrel as he certainly
was a cad. Nor was his estimate of the English secretary far wrong.
The man, like his master, was a grafter, and the particular graft he
was after now was either to make a marriage with a rich American girl
or to so compromise her that the same end would be attained. He was
shrewd enough to realize that he had little chance to get what he
wanted in the open matrimonial market, so he determined to attempt a
raid and carry off an heiress under her father's nose, and the
particular proboscis he had selected was that of his employer's
friend, Senator Roberts. The senator and Miss Roberts were frequently
at the Ryder House and in course of time the aristocratic secretary
and the daughter had become quite intimate. A flighty girl, with no
other purpose in life beyond dress and amusement and having what she
termed "a good time," Kate thought it excellent pastime to flirt with
Mr. Bagley, and when she discovered that he was serious in his
attentions she felt flattered rather than indignant. After all, she
argued, he was of noble birth. If his two brothers died he would be
peer of England, and she had enough money for both. He might not make
a bad husband. But she was careful to keep her own counsel and not let
her father have any suspicion of what was going on. She knew that his
heart was set on her marrying Jefferson Ryder and she knew better than
anyone how impossible that dream was. She herself liked Jefferson
quite enough to marry him, but if his eyes were turned in another
direction—and she knew all about his attentions to Miss Rossmore—she
was not going to break her heart about it. So she continued to flirt
secretly with the Honourable Fitzroy while she still led the Ryders
and her own father to think that she was interested in Jefferson.
"Jorkins," Mr. Bagley was saying to the butler, "Mr. Ryder will
occupy the library on his return. See that he is not disturbed."
"Yes, sir," replied the butler respectfully. The man turned to go
when the secretary called him back.
"And, Jorkins, you will station another man at the front entrance.
Yesterday it was left unguarded, and a man had the audacity to
address Mr. Ryder as he was getting out of his carriage. Last week a
reporter tried to snapshot him. Mr. Ryder was furious. These things
must not happen again, Jorkins. I shall hold you responsible."
"Very good, sir." The butler bowed and went downstairs. The
secretary looked up and saw Jefferson. His face reddened and his
manner grew nervous.
"Hello! Back from Europe, Jefferson? How jolly! Your mother will
be delighted. She's in her room upstairs."
Declining to take the hint, and gathering from Bagley's
embarrassed manner that he wanted to get rid of him, Jefferson
lingered purposely. When the butler had disappeared, he said:
"This house is getting more and more like a barracks every day.
You've got men all over the place. One can't move a step without
falling over one."
Mr. Bagley drew himself up stiffly, as he always did when assuming
an air of authority.
"Your father's personality demands the utmost precaution," he
replied. "We cannot leave the life of the richest and most powerful
financier in the world at the mercy of the rabble."
"What rabble?" inquired Jefferson, amused.
"The common rabble—the lower class—the riff-raff," explained Mr.
"Pshaw!" laughed Jefferson. "If our financiers were only half as
respectable as the common rabble, as you call them, they would need
no bars to their houses."
Mr. Bagley sneered and shrugged his shoulders.
"Your father has warned me against your socialistic views." Then,
with a lofty air, he added: "For four years I was third groom of the
bedchamber to the second son of England's queen. I know my
"But you are not groom of the bedchamber here," retorted
"Whatever I am," said Mr. Bagley haughtily, "I am answerable to
your father alone."
"By the way, Bagley," asked Jefferson, "when do you expect father
to return? I want to see him."
"I'm afraid it's quite impossible," answered the secretary with
studied insolence. "He has three important people to see before
dinner. There's the National Republican Committee and Sergeant
Ellison of the Secret Service from Washington—all here by
appointment. It's quite impossible."
"I didn't ask you if it were possible. I said I wanted to see him
and I will see him," answered Jefferson quietly but firmly, and in a
tone and manner which did not admit of further opposition. "I'll go
and leave word for him on his desk," he added.
He started to enter the library when the secretary, who was
visibly perturbed, attempted to bar his way.
"There's some one in there," he said in an undertone. "Someone
waiting for your father."
"Is there?" replied Jefferson coolly. "I'll see who it is," with
which he brushed past Mr. Bagley and entered the library.
He had guessed aright. A woman was there. It was Kate Roberts.
"Hello, Kate! how are you?" They called each other by their first
names, having been acquainted for years, and while theirs was an
indifferent kind of friendship they had always been on good terms. At
one time Jefferson had even begun to think he might do what his father
wished and marry the girl, but it was only after he had met and known
Shirley Rossmore that he realized how different one woman can be from
another. Yet Kate had her good qualities. She was frivolous and silly
as are most girls with no brains and nothing else to do in life but
dress and spend money, but she might yet be happy with some other
fellow, and that was why it made him angry to see this girl with
$100,000 in her own right playing into the hands of an unscrupulous
adventurer. He had evidently disturbed an interesting tete-a-tete. He
decided to say nothing, but mentally he resolved to spoil Mr. Bagley's
game and save Kate from her own folly. On hearing his voice Kate
turned and gave a little cry of genuine surprise.
"Why, is it you, Jeff? I thought you were in Europe."
"I returned yesterday," he replied somewhat curtly. He crossed
over to his father's desk where he sat down to scribble a few words,
while Mr. Bagley, who had followed him in scowling, was making frantic
dumb signs to Kate.
"I fear I intrude here," said Jefferson pointedly.
"Oh, dear no, not at all," replied Kate in some confusion. "I was
waiting for my father. How is Paris?" she asked.
"Lovely as ever," he answered.
"Did you have a good time?" she inquired.
"I enjoyed it immensely. I never had a better one."
"You probably were in good company," she said significantly. Then
she added: "I believe Miss Rossmore was in Paris."
"Yes, I think she was there," was his non-committal answer.
To change the conversation, which was becoming decidedly personal,
he picked up a book that was lying on his father's desk and glanced
at the title. It was "The American Octopus."
"Is father still reading this?" he asked. "He was at it when I
"Everybody is reading it," said Kate. "The book has made a big
sensation. Do you know who the hero is?"
"Who?" he asked with an air of the greatest innocence.
"Why, no less a personage than your father—John Burkett Ryder
himself! Everybody says it's he—the press and everybody that's read
it. He says so himself."
"Really?" he exclaimed with well-simulated surprise. "I must read
"It has made a strong impression on Mr. Ryder," chimed in Mr.
Bagley. "I never knew him to be so interested in a book before. He's
trying his best to find out who the author is. It's a jolly well
written book and raps you American millionaires jolly well— what?"
"Whoever wrote the book," interrupted Kate, "is somebody who knows
Mr. Ryder exceedingly well. There are things in it that an outsider
could not possibly know."
"Phew!" Jefferson whistled softly to himself. He was treading
dangerous ground. To conceal his embarrassment, he rose.
"If you'll excuse me, I'll go and pay my filial respects upstairs.
I'll see you again." He gave Kate a friendly nod, and without even
glancing at Mr. Bagley left the room.
The couple stood in silence for a few moments after he
disappeared. Then Kate went to the door and listened to his
retreating footsteps. When she was sure that he was out of earshot
she turned on Mr. Bagley indignantly.
"You see what you expose me to. Jefferson thinks this was a
"Well, it was to a certain extent," replied the secretary
unabashed. "Didn't you ask me to see you here?"
"Yes," said Kate, taking a letter from her bosom, "I wanted to ask
you what this means?"
"My dear Miss Roberts—Kate—I"—stammered the secretary.
"How dare you address me in this manner when you know I and Mr.
Ryder are engaged?"
No one knew better than Kate that this was not true, but she said
it partly out of vanity, partly out of a desire to draw out this
Englishman who made such bold love to her.
"Miss Roberts," replied Mr. Bagley loftily, "in that note I
expressed my admiration—my love for you. Your engagement to Mr.
Jefferson Ryder is, to say the least, a most uncertain fact." There
was a tinge of sarcasm in his voice that did not escape Kate.
"You must not judge from appearances," she answered, trying to
keep up the outward show of indignation which inwardly she did not
feel. "Jeff and I may hide a passion that burns like a volcano. All
lovers are not demonstrative, you know."
The absurdity of this description as applied to her relations with
Jefferson appealed to her as so comical that she burst into laughter
in which the secretary joined.
"Then why did you remain here with me when the Senator went out
with Mr. Ryder, senior?" he demanded.
"To tell you that I cannot listen to your nonsense any longer,"
retorted the girl.
"What?" he cried, incredulously. "You remain here to tell me that
you cannot listen to me when you could easily have avoided listening
to me without telling me so. Kate, your coldness is not convincing."
"You mean you think I want to listen to you?" she demanded.
"I do," he answered, stepping forward as if to take her in his
"Mr. Bagley!" she exclaimed, recoiling.
"A week ago," he persisted, "you called me Fitzroy. Once, in an
outburst of confidence, you called me Fitz."
"You hadn't asked me to marry you then," she laughed mockingly.
Then edging away towards the door she waved her hand at him playfully
and said teasingly: "Good-bye, Mr. Bagley, I am going upstairs to Mrs.
Ryder. I will await my father's return in her room. I think I shall be
He ran forward to intercept her, but she was too quick for him.
The door slammed in his face and she was gone.
Meantime Jefferson had proceeded upstairs, passing through long
and luxuriously carpeted corridors with panelled frescoed walls, and
hung with grand old tapestries and splendid paintings, until he came
to his mother's room. He knocked.
"Come in!" called out the familiar voice. He entered. Mrs. Ryder
was busy at her escritoire looking over a mass of household accounts.
"Hello, mother!" he cried, running up and hugging her in his
boyish, impulsive way. Jefferson had always been devoted to his
mother, and while he deplored her weakness in permitting herself to
be so completely under the domination of his father, she had always
found him an affectionate and loving son.
"Jefferson!" she exclaimed when he released her. "My dear boy,
when did you arrive?"
"Only yesterday. I slept at the studio last night. You're looking
bully, mother. How's father?"
Mrs. Ryder sighed while she looked her son over proudly. In her
heart she was glad Jefferson had turned out as he had. Her boy
certainly would never be a financier to be attacked in magazines and
books. Answering his question she said:
"Your father is as well as those busybodies in the newspapers will
let him be. He's considerably worried just now over that new book
'The American Octopus.' How dare they make him out such a monster?
He's no worse than other successful business men. He's richer, that's
all, and it makes them jealous. He's out driving now with Senator
Roberts. Kate is somewhere in the house—in the library, I think."
"Yes, I found her there," replied Jefferson dryly. "She was with
that cad, Bagley. When is father going to find that fellow out?"
"Oh, Jefferson," protested his mother, "how can you talk like that
of Mr. Bagley. He is such a perfect gentleman. His family connections
alone should entitle him to respect. He is certainly the best
secretary your father ever had. I'm sure I don't know what we should
do without him. He knows everything that a gentleman should."
"And a good deal more, I wager," growled Jefferson. "He wasn't
groom of the backstairs to England's queen for nothing." Then
changing the topic, he said suddenly: "Talking about Kate, mother, we
have got to reach some definite understanding. This talk about my
marrying her must stop. I intend to take the matter up with father
"Oh, of course, more trouble!" replied his mother in a resigned
tone. She was so accustomed to having her wishes thwarted that she
was never surprised at anything. "We heard of your goings on in
Paris. That Miss Rossmore was there, was she not?"
"That has got nothing to do with it," replied Jefferson warmly. He
resented Shirley's name being dragged into the discussion. Then more
calmly he went on: "Now, mother, be reasonable, listen. I purpose to
live my own life. I have already shown my father that I will not be
dictated to, and that I can earn my own living. He has no right to
force this marriage on me. There has never been any misunderstanding
on Kate's part. She and I understand each other thoroughly."
"Well, Jefferson, you may be right from your point of view,"
replied his mother weakly. She invariably ended by agreeing with the
last one who argued with her. "You are of age, of course. Your parents
have only a moral right over you. Only remember this: it would be
foolish of you to do anything now to anger your father. His interests
are your interests. Don't do anything to jeopardize them. Of course,
you can't be forced to marry a girl you don't care for, but your
father will be bitterly disappointed. He had set his heart on this
match. He knows all about your infatuation for Miss Rossmore and it
has made him furious. I suppose you've heard about her father?"
"Yes, and it's a dastardly outrage," blurted out Jefferson. "It's
a damnable conspiracy against one of the most honourable men that
ever lived, and I mean to ferret out and expose the authors. I came
here to-day to ask father to help me."
"You came to ask your father to help you?" echoed his mother
"Why not?" demanded Jefferson. "Is it true then that he is
selfishness incarnate? Wouldn't he do that much to help a friend?"
"You've come to the wrong house, Jeff. You ought to know that.
Your father is far from being Judge Rossmore's friend. Surely you
have sense enough to realize that there are two reasons why he would
not raise a finger to help him. One is that he has always been his
opponent in public life, the other is that you want to marry his
Jefferson sat as if struck dumb. He had not thought of that. Yes,
it was true. His father and the father of the girl he loved were
mortal enemies. How was help to be expected from the head of those
"interests" which the judge had always attacked, and now he came to
think of it, perhaps his own father was really at the bottom of these
abominable charges! He broke into a cold perspiration and his voice
was altered as he said:
"Yes, I see now, mother. You are right." Then he added bitterly:
"That has always been the trouble at home. No matter where I turn, I
am up against a stone wall—the money interests. One never hears a
glimmer of fellow-feeling, never a word of human sympathy, only cold
calculation, heartless reasoning, money, money, money! Oh, I am sick
of it. I don't want any of it. I am going away where I'll hear no more
His mother laid her hand gently on his shoulder.
"Don't talk that way, Jefferson. Your father is not a bad man at
heart, you know that. His life has been devoted to money making and
he has made a greater fortune than any man living or dead. He is only
what his life has made him. He has a good heart. And he loves you—his
only son. But his business enemies—ah! those he never forgives."
Jefferson was about to reply when suddenly a dozen electric bells
sounded all over the house.
"What's that?" exclaimed Jefferson, alarmed, and starting towards
"Oh, that's nothing," smiled his mother. "We have had that put in
since you went away. Your father must have just come in. Those bells
announce the fact. It was done so that if there happened to be any
strangers in the house they could be kept out of the way until he
reached the library safely."
"Oh," laughed Jefferson, "he's afraid some one will kidnap him?
Certainly he would be a rich prize. I wouldn't care for the job
myself, though. They'd be catching a tartar."
His speech was interrupted by a timid knock at the door.
"May I come in to say good-bye?" asked a voice which they
recognized as Kate's. She had successfully escaped from Mr. Bagley's
importunities and was now going home with the Senator. She smiled
amiably at Jefferson and they chatted pleasantly of his trip abroad.
He was sincerely sorry for this girl whom they were trying to foist on
him. Not that he thought she really cared for him, he was well aware
that hers was a nature that made it impossible to feel very deeply on
any subject, but the idea of this ready-made marriage was so foreign,
so revolting to the American mind! He thought it would be a kindness
to warn her against Bagley.
"Don't be foolish, Kate," he said. "I was not blind just now in
the library. That man is no good."
As is usual when one's motives are suspected, the girl resented
his interference. She knew he hated Mr. Bagley and she thought it
mean of him to try and get even in this way. She stiffened up and
"I think I am able to look after myself, Jefferson. Thanks, all
He shrugged his shoulders and made no reply. She said good-bye to
Mrs. Ryder, who was again immersed in her tradespeople bills, and
left the room, escorted by Jefferson, who accompanied her downstairs
and on to the street where Senator Roberts was waiting for her in the
open victoria. The senator greeted with unusual cordiality the young
man whom he still hoped to make his son-in- law.
"Come and see us, Jefferson," he said. "Come to dinner any
evening. We are always alone and Kate and I will be glad to see you."
"Jefferson has so little time now, father. His work and—his
friends keep him pretty busy."
Jefferson had noted both the pause and the sarcasm, but he said
nothing. He smiled and the senator raised his hat. As the carriage
drove off the young man noticed that Kate glanced at one of the upper
windows where Mr. Bagley stood behind a curtain watching. Jefferson
returned to the house. The psychological moment had arrived. He must
go now and confront his father in the library.
The library was the most important room in the Ryder mansion, for
it was there that the Colossus carried through his most important
business deals, and its busiest hours were those which most men
devote to rest. But John Burkett Ryder never rested. There could be
no rest for any man who had a thousand millions of dollars to take
care of. Like Macbeth, he could sleep no more. When the hum of
business life had ceased down town and he returned home from the tall
building in lower Broadway, then his real work began. The day had been
given to mere business routine; in his own library at night, free from
inquisitive ears and prying eyes, he could devise new schemes for
strengthening his grip upon the country, he could evolve more gigantic
plans for adding to his already countless millions.
Here the money Moloch held court like any king, with as much
ceremony and more secrecy, and having for his courtiers some of the
most prominent men in the political and industrial life of the nation.
Corrupt senators, grafting Congressmen, ambitious railroad presidents,
insolent coal barons who impudently claimed they administered the coal
lands in trust for the Almighty, unscrupulous princes of finance and
commerce, all visited this room to receive orders or pay from the head
of the "System." Here were made and unmade governors of States, mayors
of cities, judges, heads of police, cabinet ministers, even
presidents. Here were turned over to confidential agents millions of
dollars to overturn the people's vote in the National elections; here
were distributed yearly hundreds of thousands of dollars to grafters,
large and small, who had earned it in the service of the "interests."
Here, secretly and unlawfully, the heads of railroads met to agree
on rates which by discriminating against one locality in favour of
another crushed out competition, raised the cost to the consumer, and
put millions in the pockets of the Trust. Here were planned tricky
financial operations, with deliberate intent to mislead and deceive
the investing public, operations which would send stocks soaring one
day, only a week later to put Wall Street on the verge of panic. Half
a dozen suicides might result from the coup, but twice as many
millions of profits had gone into the coffers of the "System." Here,
too, was perpetrated the most heinous crime that can be committed
against a free people—the conspiring of the Trusts abetted by the
railroads, to arbitrarily raise the prices of the necessaries of
life—meat, coal, oil, ice, gas—wholly without other justification
than that of greed, which, with these men, was the unconquerable,
all-absorbing passion. In short, everything that unscrupulous leaders
of organized capital could devise to squeeze the life blood out of the
patient, defenceless toiler was done within these four walls.
It was a handsome room, noble in proportions and abundantly
lighted by three large and deeply recessed, mullioned windows, one in
the middle of the room and one at either end. The lofty ceiling was a
marvellously fine example of panelled oak of Gothic design, decorated
with gold, and the shelves for books which lined the walls were
likewise of oak, richly carved. In the centre of the wall facing the
windows was a massive and elaborately designed oak chimney-piece,
reaching up to the ceiling, and having in the middle panel over the
mantel a fine three-quarter length portrait of George Washington. The
room was furnished sumptuously yet quietly, and fully in keeping with
the rich collection of classic and modern authors that filled the
bookcases, and in corners here and there stood pedestals with marble
busts of Shakespeare, Goethe and Voltaire. It was the retreat of a
scholar rather than of a man of affairs.
When Jefferson entered, his father was seated at his desk, a long
black cigar between his lips, giving instructions to Mr. Bagley. Mr.
Ryder looked up quickly as the door opened and the secretary made a
movement forward as if to eject the intruder, no matter who he might
be. They were not accustomed to having people enter the sanctum of the
Colossus so unceremoniously. But when he saw who it was, Mr. Ryder's
stern, set face relaxed and he greeted his son amiably.
"Why, Jeff, my boy, is that you? Just a moment, until I get rid of
Bagley, and I'll be with you."
Jefferson turned to the book shelves and ran over the titles while
the financier continued his business with the secretary.
"Now, Bagley. Come, quick. What is it?"
He spoke in a rapid, explosive manner, like a man who has only a
few moments to spare before he must rush to catch a train. John Ryder
had been catching trains all his life, and he had seldom missed one.
"Governor Rice called. He wants an appointment," said Mr. Bagley,
holding out a card.
"I can't see him. Tell him so," came the answer, quick as a flash.
"Who else?" he demanded. "Where's your list?"
Mr. Bagley took from the desk a list of names and read them over.
"General Abbey telephoned. He says you promised—"
"Yes, yes," interrupted Ryder impatiently, "but not here. Down
town, to-morrow, any time. Next?"
The secretary jotted down a note against each name and then said:
"There are some people downstairs in the reception room. They are
here by appointment."
"Who are they?"
"The National Republican Committee and Sergeant Ellison of the
Secret Service from Washington," replied Mr. Bagley.
"Who was here first?" demanded the financier.
"Sergeant Ellison, sir."
"Then I'll see him first, and the Committee afterwards. But let
them all wait until I ring. I wish to speak with my son." He waved
his hand and the secretary, knowing well from experience that this
was a sign that there must be no further discussion, bowed
respectfully and left the room. Jefferson turned and advanced towards
his father, who held out his hand.
"Well, Jefferson," he said kindly, "did you have a good time
"Yes, sir, thank you. Such a trip is a liberal education in
"Ready for work again, eh? I'm glad you're back, Jefferson. I'm
busy now, but one of these days I want to have a serious talk with
you in regard to your future. This artist business is all very
well—for a pastime. But it's not a career—surely you can appreciate
that—for a young man with such prospects as yours. Have you ever
stopped to think of that?"
Jefferson was silent. He did not want to displease his father; on
the other hand, it was impossible to let things drift as they had
been doing. There must be an understanding sooner or later. Why not
"The truth is, sir," he began timidly, "I'd like a little talk
with you now, if you can spare the time."
Ryder, Sr., looked first at his watch and then at his son, who,
ill at ease, sat nervously on the extreme edge of a chair. Then he
said with a smile:
"Well, my boy, to be perfectly frank, I can't—but—I will. Come,
what is it?" Then, as if to apologize for his previous abruptness, he
added, "I've had a very busy day, Jeff. What with Trans- Continental
and Trans-Atlantic and Southern Pacific, and Wall Street, and Rate
Bills, and Washington I feel like Atlas shouldering the world."
"The world wasn't intended for one pair of shoulders to carry,
sir," rejoined Jefferson calmly.
His father looked at him in amazement. It was something new to
hear anyone venturing to question or comment upon anything he said.
"Why not?" he demanded, when he had recovered from his surprise.
"Julius Caesar carried it. Napoleon carried it—to a certain extent.
However, that's neither here nor there. What is it, boy?"
Unable to remain a moment inactive, he commenced to pick among the
mass of papers on his desk, while Jefferson was thinking what to say.
The last word his father uttered gave him a cue, and he blurted out
"That's just it, sir. You forget that I'm no longer a boy. It's
time to treat me as if I were a man."
Ryder, Sr., leaned back in his chair and laughed heartily.
"A man at twenty-eight? That's an excellent joke. Do you know that
a man doesn't get his horse sense till he's forty?"
"I want you to take me seriously," persisted Jefferson.
Ryder, Sr., was not a patient man. His moments of good humour were
of brief duration. Anything that savoured of questioning his
authority always angered him. The smile went out of his face and he
retorted explosively: "Go on—damn it all! Be serious if you want,
only don't take so long about it. But understand one thing. I want no
preaching, no philosophical or socialistic twaddle. No Tolstoi—he's a
great thinker, and you're not. No Bernard Shaw— he's funny, and
you're not. Now go ahead."
This beginning was not very encouraging, and Jefferson felt
somewhat intimidated. But he realized that he might not have another
such opportunity, so he plunged right in.
"I should have spoken to you before if you had let me," he said.
"If I let you?" interrupted his father. "Do you expect me to sit
and listen patiently to your wild theories of social reform? You
asked me one day why the wages of the idle rich was wealth and the
wages of hard work was poverty, and I told you that I worked harder
in one day than a tunnel digger works in a life-time. Thinking is a
harder game than any. You must think or you won't know. Napoleon knew
more about war than all his generals put together. I know more about
money than any man living to-day. The man who knows is the man who
wins. The man who takes advice isn't fit to give it. That's why I
never take yours. Come, don't be a fool, Jeff—give up this art
nonsense. Come back to the Trading Company. I'll make you
vice-president, and I'll teach you the business of making millions."
Jefferson shook his head. It was hard to have to tell his own
father that he did not think the million-making business quite a
respectable one, so he only murmured:
"It's impossible, father. I am devoted to my work. I even intend
to go away and travel a few years and see the world. It will help me
Ryder, Sr., eyed his son in silence for a few moments; then he
"Don't be obstinate, Jeff. Listen to me. I know the world better
than you do. You mustn't go away. You are the only flesh and blood I
He stopped speaking for a moment, as if overcome by a sudden
emotion over which he had no control. Jefferson remained silent,
nervously toying with a paper cutter. Seeing that his words had made
no effect, Ryder thumped his desk with his fist and cried:
"You see my weakness. You see that I want you with me, and now you
take advantage—you take advantage—"
"No, father, I don't," protested Jefferson; "but I want to go
away. Although I have my studio and am practically independent, I
want to go where I shall be perfectly free—where my every move will
not be watched—where I can meet my fellow-man heart to heart on an
equal basis, where I shall not be pointed out as the son of Ready
Money Ryder. I want to make a reputation of my own as an artist."
"Why not study theology and become a preacher?" sneered Ryder.
Then, more amiably, he said: "No, my lad, you stay here. Study my
interests—study the interests that will be yours some day."
"No," said Jefferson doggedly, "I'd rather go—my work and my
self-respect demand it."
"Then go, damn it, go!" cried his father in a burst of anger. "I'm
a fool for wasting my time with an ungrateful son." He rose from his
seat and began to pace the room.
"Father," exclaimed Jefferson starting forward, "you do me an
"An injustice?" echoed Mr. Ryder turning round. "Ye gods! I've
given you the biggest name in the commercial world; the most colossal
fortune ever accumulated by one man is waiting for you, and you say
I've done you an injustice!"
"Yes—we are rich," said Jefferson bitterly. "But at what a cost!
You do not go into the world and hear the sneers that I get
everywhere. You may succeed in muzzling the newspapers and magazines,
but you cannot silence public opinion. People laugh when they hear the
name Ryder—when they do not weep. All your millions cannot purchase
the world's respect. You try to throw millions to the public as a bone
to a dog, and they decline the money on the ground that it is tainted.
Doesn't that tell you what the world thinks of your methods?"
Ryder laughed cynically. He went back to his desk, and, sitting
facing his son, he replied:
"Jefferson, you are young. It is one of the symptoms of youth to
worry about public opinion. When you are as old as I am you will
understand that there is only one thing which counts in this
world—money. The man who has it possesses power over the man who has
it not, and power is what the ambitious man loves most."
He stopped to pick up a book. It was "The American Octopus."
Turning again to his son, he went on:
"Do you see this book? It is the literary sensation of the year.
Why? Because it attacks me—the richest man in the world. It holds me
up as a monster, a tyrant, a man without soul, honour or conscience,
caring only for one thing—money; having but one passion—the love of
power, and halting at nothing, not even at crime, to secure it. That
is the portrait they draw of your father."
Jefferson said nothing. He was wondering if his sire had a
suspicion who wrote it and was leading up to that. But Ryder, Sr.,
"Do I care? The more they attack me the more I like it. Their puny
pen pricks have about the same effect as mosquito bites on the
pachyderm. What I am, the conditions of my time made me. When I
started in business a humble clerk, forty years ago, I had but one
goal—success; I had but one aim—to get rich. I was lucky. I made a
little money, and I soon discovered that I could make more money by
outwitting my competitors in the oil fields. Railroad conditions
helped me. The whole country was money mad. A wave of commercial
prosperity swept over the land and I was carried along on its crest. I
grew enormously rich, my millions increasing by leaps and bounds. I
branched out into other interests, successful always, until my
holdings grew to what they are to-day—the wonder of the twentieth
century. What do I care for the world's respect when my money makes
the world my slave? What respect can I have for a people that cringe
before money and let it rule them? Are you aware that not a factory
wheel turns, not a vote is counted, not a judge is appointed, not a
legislator seated, not a president elected without my consent? I am
the real ruler of the United States—not the so-called government at
Washington. They are my puppets and this is my executive chamber. This
power will be yours one day, boy, but you must know how to use it when
"I never want it, father," said Jefferson firmly. "To me your
words savour of treason. I couldn't imagine that American talking
that way." He pointed to the mantel, at the picture of George
Ryder, Sr., laughed. He could not help it if his son was an
idealist. There was no use getting angry, so he merely shrugged his
shoulders and said:
"All right, Jeff. We'll discuss the matter later, when you've cut
your wisdom teeth. Just at present you're in the clouds. But you
spoke of my doing you an injustice. How can my love of power do you
"Because," replied Jefferson, "you exert that power over your
family as well as over your business associates. You think and will
for everybody in the house, for everyone who comes in contact with
you. Yours is an influence no one seems able to resist. You robbed me
of my right to think. Ever since I was old enough to think, you have
thought for me; ever since I was old enough to choose, you have chosen
for me. You have chosen that I should marry Kate Roberts. That is the
one thing I wished to speak to you about. The marriage is impossible."
Ryder, Sr., half sprang from his seat. He had listened patiently,
he thought, to all that his headstrong son had said, but that he
should repudiate in this unceremonious fashion what was a tacit
understanding between the two families, and, what was more, run the
risk of injuring the Ryder interests—that was inconceivable. Leaving
his desk, he advanced into the centre of the room, and folding his
arms confronted Jefferson.
"So," he said sternly, "this is your latest act of rebellion, is
it? You are going to welsh on your word? You are going to jilt the
"I never gave my word," answered Jefferson hotly. "Nor did Kate
understand that an engagement existed. You can't expect me to marry a
girl I don't care a straw about. It would not be fair to her."
"Have you stopped to think whether it would be fair to me?"
thundered his father.
His face was pale with anger, his jet-black eyes flashed, and his
white hair seemed to bristle with rage. He paced the floor for a few
moments, and then turning to Jefferson, who had not moved, he said
"Don't be a fool, Jeff. I don't want to think for you, or to
choose for you, or to marry for you. I did not interfere when you
threw up the position I made for you in the Trading Company and took
that studio. I realized that you were restless under the harness, so I
gave you plenty of rein. But I know so much better than you what is
best for you. Believe me I do. Don't—don't be obstinate. This
marriage means a great deal to my interests—to your interests. Kate's
father is all powerful in the Senate. He'll never forgive this
disappointment. Hang it all, you liked the girl once, and I made sure
He stopped suddenly, and the expression on his face changed as a
new light dawned upon him.
"It isn't that Rossmore girl, is it?" he demanded. His face grew
dark and his jaw clicked as he said between his teeth: "I told you
some time ago how I felt about her. If I thought that it was
Rossmore's daughter! You know what's going to happen to him, don't
Thus appealed to, Jefferson thought this was the most favourable
opportunity he would have to redeem his promise to Shirley. So,
little anticipating the tempest he was about to unchain, he answered:
"I am familiar with the charges that they have trumped up against
him. Needless to say, I consider him entirely innocent. What's more,
I firmly believe he is the victim of a contemptible conspiracy. And
I'm going to make it my business to find out who the plotters are. I
came to ask you to help me. Will you?"
For a moment Ryder was speechless from utter astonishment. Then,
as he realized the significance of his son's words and their
application to himself he completely lost control of himself. His
face became livid, and he brought his fist down on his desk with a
force that shook the room.
"I will see him in hell first!" he cried. "Damn him! He has always
opposed me. He has always defied my power, and now his daughter has
entrapped my son. So it's her you want to go to, eh? Well, I can't
make you marry a girl you don't want, but I can prevent you throwing
yourself away on the daughter of a man who is about to be publicly
disgraced, and, by God, I will."
"Poor old Rossmore," said Jefferson bitterly. "If the history of
every financial transaction were made known, how many of us would
escape public disgrace? Would you?" he cried.
Ryder, Sr., rose, his hands working dangerously. He made a
movement as if about to advance on his son, but by a supreme effort
he controlled himself.
"No, upon my word, it's no use disinheriting you, you wouldn't
care. I think you'd be glad; on my soul, I do!" Then calming down
once more, he added: "Jefferson, give me your word of honour that
your object in going away is not to find out this girl and marry her
unknown to me. I don't mind your losing your heart, but, damn it,
don't lose your head. Give me your hand on it."
Jefferson reluctantly held out his hand.
"If I thought you would marry that girl unknown to me, I'd have
Rossmore sent out of the country and the woman too. Listen, boy. This
man is my enemy, and I show no mercy to my enemies. There are more
reasons than one why you cannot marry Miss Rossmore. If she knew one
of them she would not marry you."
"What reasons?" demanded Jefferson.
"The principal one," said Ryder, slowly and deliberately, and
eyeing his son keenly as if to judge of the effect of his words, "the
principal one is that it was through my agents that the demand was
made for her father's impeachment."
"Ah," cried Jefferson, "then I guessed aright! Oh, father, how
could you have done that? If you only knew him!"
Ryder, Sr., had regained command of his temper, and now spoke
"Jefferson, I don't have to make any apologies to you for the way
I conduct my business. The facts contained in the charge were brought
to my attention. I did not see why I should spare him. He never spared
me. I shall not interfere, and the probabilities are that he will be
impeached. Senator Roberts said this afternoon that it was a
certainty. You see yourself how impossible a marriage with Miss
Rossmore would be, don't you?"
"Yes, father, I see now. I have nothing more to say."
"Do you still intend going away?"
"Yes," replied Jefferson bitterly. "Why not? You have taken away
the only reason why I should stay."
"Think it well over, lad. Marry Kate or not, as you please, but I
want you to stay here."
"It's no use. My mind is made up," answered Jefferson decisively.
The telephone rang, and Jefferson got up to go. Mr. Ryder took up
"Hallo! What's that? Sergeant Ellison? Yes, send him up."
Putting the telephone down, Ryder, Sr., rose, and crossing the
room accompanied his son to the door.
"Think it well over, Jeff. Don't be hasty."
"I have thought it over, sir, and I have decided to go."
A few moments later Jefferson left the house.
Ryder, Sr., went back to his desk and sat for a moment in deep
thought. For the first time in his life he was face to face with
defeat; for the first time he had encountered a will as strong as his
own. He who could rule parliaments and dictate to governments now
found himself powerless to rule his own son. At all costs, he mused,
the boy's infatuation for Judge Rossmore's daughter must be checked,
even if he had to blacken the girl's character as well as the
father's, or, as a last resort, send the entire family out of the
country. He had not lost sight of his victim since the carefully
prepared crash in Wall Street, and the sale of the Rossmore home
following the bankruptcy of the Great Northwestern Mining Company. His
agents had reported their settlement in the quiet little village on
Long Island, and he had also learned of Miss Rossmore's arrival from
Europe, which coincided strangely with the home-coming of his own son.
He decided, therefore, to keep a closer watch on Massapequa now than
ever, and that is why to-day's call of Sergeant Ellison, a noted
sleuth in the government service, found so ready a welcome.
The door opened, and Mr. Bagley entered, followed by a tall,
powerfully built man whose robust physique and cheap looking clothes
contrasted strangely with the delicate, ultra-fashionably attired
"Take a seat, Sergeant," said Mr. Ryder, cordially motioning his
visitor to a chair. The man sat down gingerly on one of the rich
leather-upholstered chairs. His manner was nervous and awkward, as if
intimidated in the presence of the financier.
"Are the Republican Committee still waiting?" demanded Mr. Ryder.
"Yes, sir," replied the secretary.
"I'll see them in a few minutes. Leave me with Sergeant Ellison."
Mr. Bagley bowed and retired.
"Well, Sergeant, what have you got to report?"
He opened a box of cigars that stood on the desk and held it out
to the detective.
"Take a cigar," he said amiably.
The man took a cigar, and also the match which Mr. Ryder held out.
The financier knew how to be cordial with those who could serve him.
"Thanks. This is a good one," smiled the sleuth, sniffing at the
weed. "We don't often get a chance at such as these."
"It ought to be good," laughed Ryder. "They cost two dollars
The detective was so surprised at this unheard of extravagance
that he inhaled a puff of smoke which almost choked him. It was like
Ryder, with his customary bluntness, came right down to business.
"Well, what have you been doing about the book?" he demanded.
"Have you found the author of 'The American Octopus'?"
"No, sir, I have not. I confess I'm baffled. The secret has been
well kept. The publishers have shut up like a clam. There's only one
thing that I'm pretty well sure of."
"What's that?" demanded Ryder, interested.
"That no such person as Shirley Green exists."
"Oh," exclaimed, the financier, "then you think it is a mere nom
"And what do you think was the reason for preserving the
"Well, you see, sir, the book deals with a big subject. It gives
some hard knocks, and the author, no doubt, felt a little timid about
launching it under his or her real name. At least that's my theory,
"And a good one, no doubt," said Mr. Ryder. Then he added: "That
makes me all the more anxious to find out who it is. I would
willingly give this moment a check for $5,000 to know who wrote it.
Whoever it is, knows me as well as I know myself. We must find the
The sleuth was silent for a moment. Then he said:
"There might be one way to reach the author, but it will be
successful only in the event of her being willing to be known and
come out into the open. Suppose you write to her in care of the
publishers. They would certainly forward the letter to wherever she
may be. If she does not want you to know who she is she will ignore
your letter and remain in the background. If, on the contrary, she has
no fear of you, and is willing to meet you, she will answer the
"Ah, I never thought of that!" exclaimed Ryder. "It's a good idea.
I'll write such a letter at once. It shall go to-night."
He unhooked the telephone and asked Mr. Bagley to come up. A few
seconds later the secretary entered the room.
"Bagley," said Mr. Ryder, "I want you to write a letter for me to
Miss Shirley Green, author of that book 'The American Octopus. We
will address it care of her publishers, Littleton Co. Just say that
if convenient I should like a personal interview with her at my
office, No. 36 Broadway, in relation to her book, 'The American
Octopus.' See that it is mailed to-night. That's all."
Mr. Bagley bowed and retired. Mr. Ryder turned to the secret
"There, that's settled. We'll see how it works. And now, Sergeant,
I have another job for you, and if you are faithful to my interests
you will not find me unappreciative. Do you know a little place on
Long Island called Massapequa?"
"Yes," grinned the detective, "I know it. They've got some fine
specimens of 'skeeters' there."
Paying no attention to this jocularity, Mr. Ryder continued:
"Judge Rossmore is living there—pending the outcome of his case
in the Senate. His daughter has just arrived from Europe. My son
Jefferson came home on the same ship. They are a little more friendly
than I care to have them. You understand. I want to know if my son
visits the Rossmores, and if he does I wish to be kept informed of all
that's going on. You understand?"
"Perfectly, sir. You shall know everything."
Mr. Ryder took a blank check from his desk and proceeded to fill
it up. Then handing it to the detective, he said:
"Here is $500 for you. Spare neither trouble or expense."
"Thank you, sir," said the man as he pocketed the money. "Leave it
"That's about all, I think. Regarding the other matter, we'll see
how the letter works."
He touched a bell and rose, which was a signal to the visitor that
the interview was at an end. Mr. Bagley entered.
"Sergeant Ellison is going," said Mr. Ryder. "Have him shown out,
and send the Republican Committee up."
"What!" exclaimed Shirley, changing colour, "you believe that John
Burkett Ryder is at the bottom of this infamous accusation against
It was the day following her arrival at Massapequa, and Shirley,
the judge and Stott were all three sitting on the porch. Until now,
by common consent, any mention of the impeachment proceedings had been
avoided by everyone. The previous afternoon and evening had been spent
listening to an account of Shirley's experiences in Europe and a smile
had flitted across even the judge's careworn face as his daughter gave
a humorous description of the picturesque Paris student with their
long hair and peg-top trousers, while Stott simply roared with
laughter. Ah, it was good to laugh again after so much trouble and
anxiety! But while Shirley avoided the topic that lay nearest her
heart, she was consumed with a desire to tell her father of the hope
she had of enlisting the aid of John Burkett Ryder. The great
financier was certainly able to do anything he chose, and had not his
son Jefferson promised to win him over to their cause? So, to-day,
after Mrs. Rossmore and her sister had gone down to the village to
make some purchases Shirley timidly broached the matter. She asked
Stott and her father to tell her everything, to hold back nothing.
She wanted to hear the worst.
Stott, therefore, started to review the whole affair from the
beginning, explaining how her father in his capacity as Judge of the
Supreme Court had to render decisions, several of which were adverse
to the corporate interests of a number of rich men, and how since that
time these powerful interests had used all their influence to get him
put off the Bench. He told her about the Transcontinental case and how
the judge had got mysteriously tangled up in the Great Northern Mining
Company, and of the scandalous newspaper rumours, followed by the news
of the Congressional inquiry. Then he told her about the panic in Wall
Street, the sale of the house on Madison Avenue and the removal to
"That is the situation," said Stott when he had finished. "We are
waiting now to see what the Senate will do. We hope for the best. It
seems impossible that the Senate will condemn a man whose whole life
is like an open book, but unfortunately the Senate is strongly
Republican and the big interests are in complete control. Unless
support comes from some unexpected quarter we must be prepared for
Support from some unexpected quarter! Stott's closing words rang
in Shirley's head. Was that not just what she had to offer? Unable to
restrain herself longer and her heart beating tumultuously from
suppressed emotion, she cried:
"We'll have that support! We'll have it! I've got it already! I
wanted to surprise you! Father, the most powerful man in the United
States will save you from being dishonoured!"
The two men leaned forward in eager interest. What could the girl
mean? Was she serious or merely jesting?
But Shirley was never more serious in her life. She was jubilant
at the thought that she had arrived home in time to invoke the aid of
this powerful ally. She repeated enthusiastically:
"We need not worry any more. He has but to say a word and these
proceedings will be instantly dropped. They would not dare act
against his veto. Did you hear, father, your case is as good as won!"
"What do you mean, child? Who is this unknown friend?"
"Surely you can guess when I say the most powerful man in the
United States? None other than John Burkett Ryder!"
She stopped short to watch the effect which this name would have
on her hearers. But to her surprise neither her father nor Stott
displayed the slightest emotion or even interest. Puzzled at this
cold reception, she repeated:
"Did you hear, father—John Burkett Ryder will come to your
assistance. I came home on the same ship as his son and he promised
to secure his father's aid."
The judge puffed heavily at his pipe and merely shook his head,
making no reply. Stott explained:
"We can't look for help from that quarter, Shirley. You don't
expect a man to cut loose his own kite, do you?"
"What do you mean?" demanded Shirley, mystified.
"Simply this—that John Burkett Ryder is the very man who is
responsible for all your father's misfortunes."
The girl sank back in her seat pale and motionless, as if she had
received a blow. Was it possible? Could Jefferson's father have done
them such a wrong as this? She well knew that Ryder, Sr., was a man
who would stop at nothing to accomplish his purpose—this she had
demonstrated conclusively in her book—but she had never dreamed that
his hand would ever be directed against her own flesh and blood.
Decidedly some fatality was causing Jefferson and herself to drift
further and further apart. First, her father's trouble. That alone
would naturally have separated them. And now this discovery that
Jefferson's father had done hers this wrong. All idea of marriage was
henceforth out of the question. That was irrevocable. Of course, she
could not hold Jefferson to blame for methods which he himself
abhorred. She would always think as much of him as ever, but whether
her father emerged safely from the trial in the Senate or not—no
matter what the outcome of the impeachment proceedings might be,
Jefferson could never be anything else than a Ryder and from now on
there would be an impassable gulf between the Rossmores and the
Ryders. The dove does not mate with the hawk.
"Do you really believe this, that John Ryder deliberately
concocted the bribery charge with the sole purpose of ruining my
father?" demanded Shirley when she had somewhat recovered.
"There is no other solution of the mystery possible," answered
Stott. "The Trusts found they could not fight him in the open, in a
fair, honest way, so they plotted in the dark. Ryder was the man who
had most to lose by your father's honesty on the bench. Ryder was the
man he hit the hardest when he enjoined his Transcontinental Railroad.
Ryder, I am convinced, is the chief conspirator."
"But can such things be in a civilized community?" cried Shirley
indignantly. "Cannot he be exposed, won't the press take the matter
up, cannot we show conspiracy?"
"It sounds easy, but it isn't," replied Stott. "I have had a heap
of experience with the law, my child, and I know what I'm talking
about. They're too clever to be caught tripping. They've covered
their tracks well, be sure of that. As to the newspapers—when did
you ever hear of them championing a man when he's down?"
"And you, father—do you believe Ryder did this?"
"I have no longer any doubt of it," answered the judge. "I think
John Ryder would see me dead before he would raise a finger to help
me. His answer to my demand for my letters convinced me that he was
the arch plotter."
"What letters do you refer to?" demanded Shirley.
"The letters I wrote to him in regard to my making an investment.
He advised the purchase of certain stock. I wrote him two letters at
the time, which letters if I had them now would go a long way to
clearing me of this charge of bribery, for they plainly showed that I
regarded the transaction as a bona fide investment. Since this trouble
began I wrote to Ryder asking him to return me these letters so I
might use them in my defence. The only reply I got was an insolent
note from his secretary saying that Mr. Ryder had forgotten all about
the transaction, and in any case had not the letters I referred to."
"Couldn't you compel him to return them?" asked Shirley.
"We could never get at him," interrupted Stott. "The man is
guarded as carefully as the Czar."
"Still," objected Shirley, "it is possible that he may have lost
the letters or even never received them."
"Oh, he has them safe enough," replied Stott. "A man like Ryder
keeps every scrap of paper, with the idea that it may prove useful
some day. The letters are lying somewhere in his desk. Besides, after
the Transcontinental decision he was heard to say that he'd have Judge
Rossmore off the Bench inside of a year."
"And it wasn't a vain boast—he's done it," muttered the judge.
Shirley relapsed into silence. Her brain was in a whirl. It was
true then. This merciless man of money, this ogre of monopolistic
corporations, this human juggernaut had crushed her father merely
because by his honesty he interfered with his shady business deals!
Ah, why had she spared him in her book? She felt now that she had been
too lenient, not bitter enough, not sufficiently pitiless. Such a man
was entitled to no mercy. Yes, it was all clear enough now. John
Burkett Ryder, the head of "the System," the plutocrat whose fabulous
fortune gave him absolute control over the entire country, which
invested him with a personal power greater than that of any king, this
was the man who now dared attack the Judiciary, the corner stone of
the Constitution, the one safeguard of the people's liberty. Where
would it end? How long would the nation tolerate being thus ruthlessly
trodden under the unclean heels of an insolent oligarchy? The
capitalists, banded together for the sole purpose of pillage and loot,
had already succeeded in enslaving the toiler. The appalling
degradation of the working classes, the sordidness and demoralizing
squalor in which they passed their lives, the curse of drink, the
provocation to crime, the shame of the sweat shops— all which evils
in our social system she had seen as a Settlement worker, were
directly traceable to Centralized Wealth. The labor unions regulated
wages and hours, but they were powerless to control the prices of the
necessaries of life. The Trusts could at pleasure create famine or
plenty. They usually willed to make it famine so they themselves might
acquire more millions with which to pay for marble palaces, fast motor
cars, ocean-going yachts and expensive establishments at Newport. Food
was ever dearer and of poorer quality, clothes cost more, rents and
taxes were higher. She thought of the horrors in the packing houses at
Chicago recently made the subject of a sensational government report—
putrid, pestiferous meats put up for human food amid conditions of
unspeakable foulness, freely exposed to deadly germs from the
expectorations of work people suffering from tuberculosis, in
unsanitary rotten buildings soaked through with blood and every
conceivable form of filth and decay, the beef barons careless and
indifferent to the dictates of common decency so long as they could
make more money. And while our public gasped in disgust at the
sickening revelations of the Beef scandal and foreign countries
quickly cancelled their contracts for American prepared meats, the
millionaire packer, insolent in the possession of wealth stolen from a
poisoned public, impudently appeared in public in his fashionable
touring car, with head erect and self- satisfied, wholly indifferent
to his shame.
These and other evidences of the plutocracy's cruel grip upon the
nation had ended by exasperating the people. There must be a limit
somewhere to the turpitudes of a degenerate class of nouveaux riches.
The day of reckoning was fast approaching for the grafters and among
the first to taste the vengeance of the people would be the Colossus.
But while waiting for the people to rise in their righteous wrath,
Ryder was all powerful, and if it were true that he had instituted
these impeachment proceedings her father had little chance. What could
be done? They could not sit and wait, as Stott had said, for the
action of the Senate. If it were true that Ryder controlled the Senate
as he controlled everything else her father was doomed. No, they must
find some other way.
And long after the judge and Stott had left for the city Shirley
sat alone on the porch engrossed in thought, taxing her brain to find
some way out of the darkness. And when presently her mother and aunt
returned they found her still sitting there, silent and preoccupied.
If they only had those two letters, she thought. They alone might save
her father. But how could they be got at? Mr. Ryder had put them
safely away, no doubt. He would not give them up. She wondered how it
would be to go boldly to him and appeal to whatever sense of honour
and fairness that might be lying latent within him. No, such a man
would not know what the terms "honour," "fairness" meant. She pondered
upon it all day and at night when she went tired to bed it was her
last thought as she dropped off to sleep.
The following morning broke clear and fine. It was one of those
glorious, ideal days of which we get perhaps half a dozen during the
whole summer, days when the air is cool and bracing, champagne-like in
its exhilarating effect, and when Nature dons her brightest dress,
when the atmosphere is purer, the grass greener, the sky bluer, the
flowers sweeter and the birds sing in more joyous chorus, when all
creation seems in tune. Days that make living worth while, when one
can forget the ugliness, the selfishness, the empty glitter of the
man-made city and walk erect and buoyant in the open country as in the
garden of God.
Shirley went out for a long walk. She preferred to go alone so she
would not have to talk. Hers was one of those lonely, introspective
natures that resent the intrusion of aimless chatter when preoccupied
with serious thoughts. Long Island was unknown territory to her and it
all looked very flat and uninteresting, but she loved the country, and
found keen delight in the fresh, pure air and the sweet scent of new
mown hay waited from the surrounding fields. In her soft, loosefitting
linen dress, her white canvas shoes, garden hat trimmed with red
roses, and lace parasol, she made an attractive picture and every
passer-by—with the exception of one old farmer and he was half
blind—turned to look at this good-looking girl, a stranger in those
parts and whose stylish appearance suggested Fifth Avenue rather than
the commonplace purlieus of Massapequa.
Every now and then Shirley espied in the distance the figure of a
man which she thought she recognized as that of Jefferson. Had he
come, after all? The blood went coursing tumultuously through her
veins only a moment later to leave her face a shade paler as the man
came nearer and she saw he was a stranger. She wondered what he was
doing, if he gave her a thought, if he had spoken to his father and
what the latter had said. She could realize now what Mr. Ryder's reply
had been. Then she wondered what her future life would be. She could
do nothing, of course, until the Senate had passed upon her father's
case, but it was imperative that she get to work. In a day or two, she
would call on her publishers and learn how her book was selling. She
might get other commissions. If she could not make enough money in
literary work she would have to teach. It was a dreary outlook at
best, and she sighed as she thought of the ambitions that had once
stirred her breast. All the brightness seemed to have gone out of her
life, her father disgraced, Jefferson now practically lost to
her—only her work remained.
As she neared the cottage on her return home she caught sight of
the letter carrier approaching the gate. Instantly she thought of
Jefferson, and she hurried to intercept the man. Perhaps he had
written instead of coming.
"Miss Shirley Rossmore?" said the man eyeing her interrogatively.
"That's I," said Shirley.
The postman handed her a letter and passed on. Shirley glanced
quickly at the superscription. No, it was not from Jefferson; she
knew his handwriting too well. The envelope, moreover, bore the firm
name of her publishers. She tore it open and found that it merely
contained another letter which the publishers had forwarded. This was
addressed to Miss Shirley Green and ran as follows:
DEAR MADAM.—If convenient, I should like to see you at my office,
No. 36 Broadway, in relation to your book "The American Octopus."
Kindly inform me as to the day and hour at which I may expect you.
JOHN BURKETT RYDER, per B.
Shirley almost shouted from sheer excitement. At first she was
alarmed—the name John Burkett Ryder was such a bogey to frighten bad
children with, she thought he might want to punish her for writing
about him as she had. She hurried to the porch and sat there reading
the letter over and over and her brain began to evolve ideas. She had
been wondering how she could get at Mr. Ryder and here he was actually
asking her to call on him. Evidently he had not the slightest idea of
her identity, for he had been able to reach her only through her
publishers and no doubt he had exhausted every other means of
discovering her address. The more she pondered over it the more she
began to see in this invitation a way of helping her father. Yes, she
would go and beard the lion in his den, but she would not go to his
office. She would accept the invitation only on condition that the
interview took place in the Ryder mansion where undoubtedly the
letters would be found. She decided to act immediately. No time was
to be lost, so she procured a sheet of paper and an envelope and wrote
MR. JOHN BURKETT RYDER,
Dear Sir.—I do not call upon gentlemen at their business office.
Her letter was abrupt and at first glance seemed hardly calculated
to bring about what she wanted—an invitation to call at the Ryder
home, but she was shrewd enough to see that if Ryder wrote to her at
all it was because he was most anxious to see her and her abruptness
would not deter him from trying again. On the contrary, the very
unusualness of anyone thus dictating to him would make him more than
ever desirous of making her acquaintance. So Shirley mailed the letter
and awaited with confidence for Ryder's reply. So certain was she that
one would come that she at once began to form her plan of action. She
would leave Massapequa at once, and her whereabouts must remain a
secret even from her own family. As she intended to go to the Ryder
house in the assumed character of Shirley Green, it would never do to
run the risk of being followed home by a Ryder detective to the
Rossmore cottage. She would confide in one person only—Judge Stott.
He would know where she was and would be in constant communication
with her. But, otherwise, she must be alone to conduct the campaign as
she judged fit. She would go at once to New York and take rooms in a
boarding house where she would be known as Shirley Green. As for funds
to meet her expenses, she had her diamonds, and would they not be
filling a more useful purpose if sold to defray the cost of saving
her father than in mere personal adornment? So that evening, while
her mother was talking with the judge, she beckoned Stott over to the
corner where she was sitting:
"Judge Stott," she began, "I have a plan."
He smiled indulgently at her.
"Another friend like that of yesterday?" he asked.
"No," replied the girl, "listen. I am in earnest now and I want
you to help me. You said that no one on earth could resist John
Burkett Ryder, that no one could fight against the Money Power. Well,
do you know what I am going to do?"
There was a quiver in her voice and her nostrils were dilated like
those of a thoroughbred eager to run the race. She had risen from her
seat and stood facing him, her fists clenched, her face set and
determined. Stott had never seen her in this mood and he gazed at her
half admiringly, half curiously.
"What will you do?" he asked with a slightly ironical inflection
in his voice.
"I am going to fight John Burkett Ryder!" she cried.
Stott looked at her open-mouthed.
"You?" he said.
"Yes, I," said Shirley. "I'm going to him and I intend to get
those letters if he has them."
Stott shook his head.
"My dear child," he said, "what are you talking about? How can you
expect to reach Ryder? We couldn't."
"I don't know just how yet," replied Shirley, "but I'm going to
try. I love my father and I'm going to leave nothing untried to save
"But what can you do?" persisted Stott. "The matter has been
sifted over and over by some of the greatest minds in the country."
"Has any woman sifted it over?" demanded Shirley.
"No, but—" stammered Stott.
"Then it's about time one did," said the girl decisively. "Those
letters my father speaks of—they would be useful, would they not?"
"They would be invaluable."
"Then I'll get them. If not—"
"But I don't understand how you're going to get at Ryder,"
"This is how," replied Shirley, passing over to him the letter she
had received that afternoon.
As Stott recognized the well-known signature and read the
contents, the expression of his face changed. He gasped for breath
and sank into a chair from sheer astonishment.
"Ah, that's different!" he cried, "that's different!"
Briefly Shirley outlined her plan, explaining that she would go to
live in the city immediately and conduct her campaign from there. If
she was successful, it might save her father and if not, no harm could
come of it.
Stott demurred at first. He did not wish to bear alone the
responsibility of such an adventure. There was no knowing what might
happen to her, visiting a strange house under an assumed name. But
when he saw how thoroughly in earnest she was and that she was ready
to proceed without him, he capitulated. He agreed that she might be
able to find the missing letters or if not, that she might make some
impression on Ryder himself. She could show interest in the judge's
case as a disinterested outsider and so might win his sympathies. From
being a skeptic, Stott now became enthusiastic. He promised to
cooperate in every way and to keep Shirley's whereabouts an absolute
secret. The girl, therefore, began to make her preparations for
departure from home by telling her parents that she had accepted an
invitation to spend a week or two with an old college chum in New
That same evening her mother, the judge, and Stott went for a
stroll after dinner and left her to take care of the house. They had
wanted Shirley to go, too, but she pleaded fatigue. The truth was that
she wanted to be alone so she could ponder undisturbed over her plans.
It was a clear, starlit night, with no moon, and Shirley sat on the
porch listening to the chirping of the crickets and idly watching the
flashes of the mysterious fireflies. She was in no mood for reading
and sat for a long time rocking herself, engrossed in her thoughts.
Suddenly she heard someone unfasten the garden gate. It was too soon
for the return of the promenaders; it must be a visitor. Through the
uncertain penumbra of the garden she discerned approaching a form
which looked familiar. Yes, now there was no doubt possible. It was,
indeed, Jefferson Ryder.
She hurried down the porch to greet him. No matter what the father
had done she could never think any the less of the son. He took her
hand and for several moments neither one spoke. There are times when
silence is more eloquent than speech and this was one of them. The
gentle grip of his big strong hand expressed more tenderly than any
words, the sympathy that lay in his heart for the woman he loved.
Shirley said quietly:
"You have come at last, Jefferson."
"I came as soon as I could," he replied gently. "I saw Father only
"You need not tell me what he said," Shirley hastened to say.
Jefferson made no reply. He understood what she meant. He hung his
head and hit viciously with his walking stick at the pebbles that lay
at his feet. She went on:
"I know everything now. It was foolish of me to think that Mr.
Ryder would ever help us."
"I can't help it in any way," blurted out Jefferson. "I have not
the slightest influence over him. His business methods I consider
disgraceful—you understand that, don't you, Shirley?"
The girl laid her hand on his arm and replied kindly:
"Of course, Jeff, we know that. Come up and sit down."
He followed her on the porch and drew up a rocker beside her.
"They are all out for a walk," she explained.
"I'm glad," he said frankly. "I wanted a quiet talk with you. I
did not care to meet anyone. My name must be odious to your people."
Both were silent, feeling a certain awkwardness. They seemed to
have drifted apart in some way since those delightful days in Paris
and on the ship. Then he said:
"I'm going away, but I couldn't go until I saw you."
"You are going away?" exclaimed Shirley, surprised.
"Yes," he said, "I cannot stand it any more at home. I had a hot
talk with my father yesterday about one thing and another. He and I
don't chin well together. Besides this matter of your father's
impeachment has completely discouraged me. All the wealth in the
world could never reconcile me to such methods! I'm ashamed of the
role my own flesh and blood has played in that miserable affair. I
can't express what I feel about it."
"Yes," sighed Shirley, "it is hard to believe that you are the son
of that man!"
"How is your father?" inquired Jefferson. "How does he take it?"
"Oh, his heart beats and he can see and hear and speak," replied
Shirley sadly, "but he is only a shadow of what he once was. If the
trial goes against him, I don't think he'll survive it."
"It is monstrous," cried Jefferson. "To think that my father
should be responsible for this thing!"
"We are still hoping for the best," added Shirley, "but the
outlook is dark."
"But what are you going to do?" he asked. "These surroundings are
not for you—" He looked around at the cheap furnishings which he
could see through the open window and his face showed real concern.
"I shall teach or write, or go out as governess," replied Shirley
with a tinge of bitterness. Then smiling sadly she added: "Poverty is
easy; it is unmerited disgrace which is hard."
The young man drew his chair closer and took hold of the hand that
lay in her lap. She made no resistance.
"Shirley," he said, "do you remember that talk we had on the ship?
I asked you to be my wife. You led me to believe that you were not
indifferent to me. I ask you again to marry me. Give me the right to
take care of you and yours. I am the son of the world's richest man,
but I don't want his money. I have earned a competence of my
own—enough to live on comfortably. We will go away where you and
your father and mother will make their home with us. Do not let the
sins of the fathers embitter the lives of the children."
"Mine has not sinned," said Shirley bitterly.
"I wish I could say the same of mine," replied Jefferson. "It is
because the clouds are dark about you that I want to come into your
life to comfort you."
The girl shook her head.
"No, Jefferson, the circumstances make such a marriage impossible.
Your family and everybody else would say that I had inveigled you
into it. It is even more impossible now than I thought it was when I
spoke to you on the ship. Then I was worried about my father's trouble
and could give no thought to anything else. Now it is different. Your
father's action has made our union impossible for ever. I thank you
for the honour you have done me. I do like you. I like you well enough
to be your wife, but I will not accept this sacrifice on your part.
Your offer, coming at such a critical time, is dictated only by your
noble, generous nature, by your sympathy for our misfortune.
Afterwards, you might regret it. If my father were convicted and
driven from the bench and you found you had married the daughter of a
disgraced man you would be ashamed of us all, and if I saw that it
would break my heart."
Emotion stopped her utterance and she buried her face in her hands
"Shirley," said Jefferson gently, "you are wrong. I love you for
yourself, not because of your trouble. You know that. I shall never
love any other woman but you. If you will not say 'yes' now, I shall
go away as I told my father I would and one day I shall come back and
then if you are still single I shall ask you again to be my wife."
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"I shall travel for a year and then, may be, I shall stay a couple
of years in Paris, studying at the Beaux Arts. Then I may go to Rome.
If I am to do anything worth while in the career I have chosen I must
have that European training."
"Paris! Rome!" echoed Shirley. "How I envy you! Yes, you are
right. Get away from this country where the only topic, the only
thought is money, where the only incentive to work is dollars. Go
where there are still some ideals, where you can breathe the
atmosphere of culture and art."
Forgetting momentarily her own troubles, Shirley chatted on about
life in the art centres of Europe, advised Jefferson where to go,
with whom to study. She knew people in Paris, Rome and Munich and she
would give him letters to them. Only, if he wanted to perfect himself
in the languages, he ought to avoid Americans and cultivate the
natives. Then, who could tell? if he worked hard and was lucky, he
might have something exhibited at the Salon and return to America a
"If I do," smiled Jefferson, "you shall be the first to
congratulate me. I shall come and ask you to be my wife. May I?" he
Shirley smiled gravely.
"Get famous first. You may not want me then."
"I shall always want you," he whispered hoarsely, bending over
her. In the dim light of the porch he saw that her tear-stained face
was drawn and pale. He rose and held out his hand.
"Good-bye," he said simply.
"Good-bye, Jefferson." She rose and put her hand in his. "We shall
always be friends. I, too, am going away."
"You going away—where to?" he asked surprised.
"I have work to do in connection with my father's case," she said.
"You?" said Jefferson puzzled. "You have work to do—what work?"
"I can't say what it is, Jefferson. There are good reasons why I
can't. You must take my word for it that it is urgent and important
work." Then she added: "You go your way, Jefferson; I will go mine. It
was not our destiny to belong to each other. You will become famous as
an artist. And I—"
"And you—" echoed Jefferson.
"I—I shall devote my life to my father. It's no use, Jefferson—
really—I've thought it all out. You must not come back to me—you
understand. We must be alone with our grief—father and I. Good-
He raised her hand to his lips.
"Good-bye, Shirley. Don't forget me. I shall come back for you."
He went down the porch and she watched him go out of the gate and
down the road until she could see his figure no longer. Then she
turned back and sank into her chair and burying her face in her
handkerchief she gave way to a torrent of tears which afforded some
relief to the weight on her heart. Presently the others returned from
their walk and she told them about the visitor.
"Mr. Ryder's son, Jefferson, was here. We crossed on the same
ship. I introduced him to Judge Stott on the dock."
The judge looked surprised, but he merely said:
"I hope for his sake that he is a different man from his father."
"He is," replied Shirley simply, and nothing more was said.
Two days went by, during which Shirley went on completing the
preparations for her visit to New York. It was arranged that Stott
should escort her to the city. Shortly before they started for the
train a letter arrived for Shirley. Like the first one it had been
forwarded by her publishers. It read as follows:
MISS SHIRLEY GREEN,
Dear Madam.—I shall be happy to see you at my residence—Fifth
Avenue—any afternoon that you will mention.
Yours very truly,
JOHN BURKETT RYDER, per B.
Shirley smiled in triumph as, unseen by her father and mother, she
passed it over to Stott. She at once sat down and wrote this reply:
MR. JOHN BURKETT RYDER,
Dear Sir.—I am sorry that I am unable to comply with your
request. I prefer the invitation to call at your private residence
should come from Mrs. Ryder.
She laughed as she showed this to Stott: "He'll write me again,"
she said, "and next time his wife will sign the letter."
An hour later she left Massapequa for the city.
The Hon. Fitzroy Bagley had every reason to feel satisfied with
himself. His affaire de coeur with the Senator's daughter was
progressing more smoothly than ever, and nothing now seemed likely to
interfere with his carefully prepared plans to capture an American
heiress. The interview with Kate Roberts in the library, so awkwardly
disturbed by Jefferson's unexpected intrusion, had been followed by
other interviews more secret and more successful, and the plausible
secretary had contrived so well to persuade the girl that he really
thought the world of her, and that a brilliant future awaited her as
his wife, that it was not long before he found her in a mood to refuse
Bagley urged immediate marriage; he insinuated that Jefferson had
treated her shamefully and that she owed it to herself to show the
world that there were other men as good as the one who had jilted
her. He argued that in view of the Senator being bent on the match
with Ryder's son it would be worse than useless for him, Bagley, to
make formal application for her hand, so, as he explained, the only
thing which remained was a runaway marriage. Confronted with the fait
accompli, papa Roberts would bow to the inevitable. They could get
married quietly in town, go away for a short trip, and when the
Senator had gotten over his first disappointment they would be
welcomed back with open arms.
Kate listened willingly enough to this specious reasoning. In her
heart she was piqued at Jefferson's indifference and she was foolish
enough to really believe that this marriage with a British nobleman,
twice removed, would be in the nature of a triumph over him. Besides,
this project of an elopement appealed strangely to her frivolous
imagination; it put her in the same class as all her favourite novel
heroines. And it would be capital fun!
Meantime, Senator Roberts, in blissful ignorance of this little
plot against his domestic peace, was growing impatient and he
approached his friend Ryder once more on the subject of his son
Jefferson. The young man, he said, had been back from Europe some
time. He insisted on knowing what his attitude was towards his
daughter. If they were engaged to be married he said there should be
a public announcement of the fact. It was unfair to him and a slight
to his daughter to let matters hang fire in this unsatisfactory way
and he hinted that both himself and his daughter might demand their
passports from the Ryder mansion unless some explanation were
Ryder was in a quandary. He had no wish to quarrel with his useful
Washington ally; he recognized the reasonableness of his complaint.
Yet what could he do? Much as he himself desired the marriage, his son
was obstinate and showed little inclination to settle down. He even
hinted at attractions in another quarter. He did not tell the Senator
of his recent interview with his son when the latter made it very
plain that the marriage could never take place. Ryder, Sr., had his
own reasons for wishing to temporize. It was quite possible that
Jefferson might change his mind and abandon his idea of going abroad
and he suggested to the Senator that perhaps if he, the Senator, made
the engagement public through the newspapers it might have the
salutary effect of forcing his son's hand.
So a few mornings later there appeared among the society notes in
several of the New York papers this paragraph:
"The engagement is announced of Miss Katherine Roberts, only
daughter of senator Roberts of Wisconsin, to Jefferson Ryder, son of
Mr. John Burkett Ryder."
Two persons in New York happened to see the item about the same
time and both were equally interested, although it affected them in a
different manner. One was Shirley Rossmore, who had chanced to pick up
the newspaper at the breakfast table in her boarding house.
"So soon?" she murmured to herself. Well, why not? She could not
blame Jefferson. He had often spoken to her of this match arranged by
his father and they had laughed over it as a typical marriage of
convenience modelled after the Continental pattern. Jefferson, she
knew, had never cared for the girl nor taken the affair seriously.
Some powerful influences must have been at work to make him surrender
so easily. Here again she recognized the masterly hand of Ryder, Sr.,
and more than ever she was eager to meet this extraordinary man and
measure her strength with his. Her mind, indeed, was too full of her
father's troubles to grieve over her own however much she might have
been inclined to do so under other circumstances, and all that day she
did her best to banish the paragraph from her thoughts. More than a
week had passed since she left Massapequa and what with corresponding
with financiers, calling on editors and publishers, every moment of
her time had been kept busy. She had found a quiet and reasonable
priced boarding house off Washington Square and here Stott had called
several times to see her. Her correspondence with Mr. Ryder had now
reached a phase when it was impossible to invent any further excuses
for delaying the interview asked for. As she had foreseen, a day or
two after her arrival in town she had received a note from Mrs. Ryder
asking her to do her the honour to call and see her, and Shirley,
after waiting another two days, had replied making an appointment for
the following day at three o'clock. This was the same day on which the
paragraph concerning the Ryder- Roberts engagement appeared in the
society chronicles of the metropolis.
Directly after the meagre meal which in New York boarding houses
is dignified by the name of luncheon, Shirley proceeded to get ready
for this portentous visit to the Ryder mansion. She was anxious to
make a favourable impression on the financier, so she took some pains
with her personal appearance. She always looked stylish, no matter
what she wore, and her poverty was of too recent date to make much
difference to her wardrobe, which was still well supplied with
Paris-made gowns. She selected a simple close-fitting gown of gray
chiffon cloth and a picture hat of Leghorn straw heaped with red
roses, Shirley's favourite flower. Thus arrayed, she sallied forth at
two o'clock—a little gray mouse to do battle with the formidable
The sky was threatening, so instead of walking a short way up
Fifth Avenue for exercise, as she had intended doing, she cut across
town through Ninth Street, and took the surface car on Fourth Avenue.
This would put her down at Madison Avenue and Seventy-fourth Street,
which was only a block from the Ryder residence. She looked so pretty
and was so well dressed that the passers-by who looked after her
wondered why she did not take a cab instead of standing on a street
corner for a car. But one's outward appearance is not always a
faithful index to the condition of one's pocketbook, and Shirley was
rapidly acquiring the art of economy.
It was not without a certain trepidation that she began this
journey. So far, all her plans had been based largely on theory, but
now that she was actually on her way to Mr. Ryder all sorts of
misgivings beset her. Suppose he knew her by sight and roughly
accused her of obtaining access to his house under false pretences
and then had her ejected by the servants? How terrible and
humiliating that would be! And even if he did not how could she
possibly find those letters with him watching her, and all in the
brief time of a conventional afternoon call? It had been an absurd
idea from the first. Stott was right; she saw that now. But she had
entered upon it and she was not going to confess herself beaten until
she had tried. And as the car sped along Madison Avenue, gradually
drawing nearer to the house which she was going to enter disguised as
it were, like a burglar, she felt cold chills run up and down her
spine—the same sensation that one experiences when one rings the bell
of a dentist's where one has gone to have a tooth extracted. In fact,
she felt so nervous and frightened that if she had not been ashamed
before herself she would have turned back. In about twenty minutes the
car stopped at the corner of Seventy-fourth Street. Shirley descended
and with a quickened pulse walked towards the Ryder mansion, which she
knew well by sight.
There was one other person in New York who, that same morning, had
read the newspaper item regarding the Ryder-Roberts betrothal, and he
did not take the matter so calmly as Shirley had done. On the
contrary, it had the effect of putting him into a violent rage. This
was Jefferson. He was working in his studio when he read it and five
minutes later he was tearing up-town to seek the author of it. He
understood its object, of course; they wanted to force his hand, to
shame him into this marriage, to so entangle him with the girl that no
other alternative would be possible to an honourable man. It was a
despicable trick and he had no doubt that his father was at the back
of it. So his mind now was fully made up. He would go away at once
where they could not make his life a burden with this odious marriage
which was fast becoming a nightmare to him. He would close up his
studio and leave immediately for Europe. He would show his father once
for all that he was a man and expected to be treated as one.
He wondered what Shirley was doing. Where had she gone, what was
this mysterious work of which she had spoken? He only realized now,
when she seemed entirely beyond his reach, how much he loved her and
how empty his life would be without her. He would know no happiness
until she was his wife. Her words on the porch did not discourage him.
Under the circumstances he could not expect her to have said anything
else. She could not marry into John Ryder's family with such a charge
hanging over her own father's head, but, later, when the trial was
over, no matter how it turned out, he would go to her again and ask
her to be his wife.
On arriving home the first person he saw was the ubiquitous Mr.
Bagley, who stood at the top of the first staircase giving some
letters to the butler. Jefferson cornered him at once, holding out
the newspaper containing the offending paragraph.
"Say, Bagley," he cried, "what does this mean? Is this any of your
The English secretary gave his employer's son a haughty stare, and
then, without deigning to reply or even to glance at the newspaper,
continued his instructions to the servant:
"Here, Jorkins, get stamps for all these letters and see they are
mailed at once. They are very important."
"Very good, sir."
The man took the letters and disappeared, while Jefferson,
impatient, repeated his question:
"My doing?" sneered Mr. Bagley. "Really, Jefferson, you go too
far! Do you suppose for one instant that I would condescend to
trouble myself with your affairs?"
Jefferson was in no mood to put up with insolence from anyone,
especially from a man whom he heartily despised, so advancing
menacingly he thundered:
"I mean—were you, in the discharge of your menial-like duties,
instructed by my father to send that paragraph to the newspapers
regarding my alleged betrothal to Miss Roberts? Yes or No?"
The man winced and made a step backward. There was a gleam in the
Ryder eye which he knew by experience boded no good.
"Really, Jefferson," he said in a more conciliatory tone, "I know
absolutely nothing about the paragraph. This is the first I hear of
it. Why not ask your father?"
"I will," replied Jefferson grimly,
He was turning to go in the direction of the library when Bagley
"You cannot possibly see him now," he said. "Sergeant Ellison of
the Secret Service is in there with him, and your father told me not
to disturb him on any account. He has another appointment at three
o'clock with some woman who writes books."
Seeing that the fellow was in earnest, Jefferson did not insist.
He could see his father a little later or send him a message through
his mother. Proceeding upstairs he found Mrs. Ryder in her room and in
a few energetic words he explained the situation to his mother. They
had gone too far with this matchmaking business, he said, his father
was trying to interfere with his personal liberty and he was going to
put a stop to it. He would leave at once for Europe. Mrs. Ryder had
already heard of the projected trip abroad, so the news of this sudden
departure was not the shock it might otherwise have been. In her heart
she did not blame her son, on the contrary she admired his spirit, and
if the temporary absence from home would make him happier, she would
not hold him back. Yet, mother like, she wept and coaxed, but nothing
would shake Jefferson in his determination and he begged his mother
to make it very plain to his father that this was final and that a few
days would see him on his way abroad. He would try and come back to
see his father that afternoon, but otherwise she was to say good-bye
for him. Mrs. Ryder promised tearfully to do what her son demanded and
a few minutes later Jefferson was on his way to the front door.
As he went down stairs something white on the carpet attracted his
attention. He stooped and picked it up. It was a letter. It was in
Bagley's handwriting and had evidently been dropped by the man to
whom the secretary had given it to post. But what interested
Jefferson more than anything else was that it was addressed to Miss
Kate Roberts. Under ordinary circumstances, a king's ransom would not
have tempted the young man to read a letter addressed to another, but
he was convinced that his father's secretary was an adventurer and if
he were carrying on an intrigue in this manner it could have only one
meaning. It was his duty to unveil a rascal who was using the Ryder
roof and name to further his own ends and victimize a girl who,
although sophisticated enough to know better, was too silly to realize
the risk she ran at the hands of an unscrupulous man. Hesitating no
longer, Jefferson tore open the envelope and read:
My dearest wife that is to be:
I have arranged everything. Next Wednesday—just a week from to-
day—we will go to the house of a discreet friend of mine where a
minister will marry us; then we will go to City Hall and get through
the legal part of it. Afterwards, we can catch the four o'clock train
for Buffalo. Meet me in the ladies' room at the Holland House
Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. I will come there with a closed cab. Your
"Phew!" Jefferson whistled. A close shave this for Senator
Roberts, he thought. His first impulse was to go upstairs again to
his mother and put the matter in her hands. She would immediately
inform his father, who would make short work of Mr. Bagley. But,
thought Jefferson, why should he spoil a good thing? He could afford
to wait a day or two. There was no hurry. He could allow Bagley to
think all was going swimmingly and then uncover the plot at the
eleventh hour. He would even let this letter go to Kate, there was no
difficulty in procuring another envelope and imitating the
handwriting—and when Bagley was just preparing to go to the
rendezvous he would spring the trap. Such a cad deserved no mercy. The
scandal would be a knock-out blow, his father would discharge him on
the spot and that would be the last they would see of the aristocratic
English secretary. Jefferson put the letter in his pocket and left the
While the foregoing incidents were happening John Burkett Ryder
was secluded in his library. The great man had come home earlier than
usual, for he had two important callers to see by appointment that
afternoon. One was Sergeant Ellison, who had to report on his mission
to Massapequa; the other was Miss Shirley Green, the author of "The
American Octopus," who had at last deigned to honour him with a visit.
Pending the arrival of these visitors the financier was busy with his
secretary trying to get rid as rapidly as possible of what business
and correspondence there was on hand.
The plutocrat was sitting at his desk poring over a mass of
papers. Between his teeth was the inevitable long black cigar and
when he raised his eyes to the light a close observer might have
remarked that they were sea-green, a colour they assumed when the man
of millions was absorbed in scheming new business deals. Every now and
then he stopped reading the papers to make quick calculations on
scraps of paper. Then if the result pleased him, a smile overspread
his saturnine features. He rose from his chair and nervously paced the
floor as he always did when thinking deeply.
"Five millions," he muttered, "not a cent more. If they won't sell
we'll crush them—"
Mr. Bagley entered. Mr. Ryder looked up quickly.
"Well, Bagley?" he said interrogatively. "Has Sergeant Ellison
"Yes, sir. But Mr. Herts is downstairs. He insists on seeing you
about the Philadelphia gas deal. He says it is a matter of life and
"To him—yes," answered the financier dryly. "Let him come up. We
might as well have it out now."
Mr. Bagley went out and returned almost immediately, followed by a
short, fat man, rather loudly dressed and apoplectic in appearance.
He looked like a prosperous brewer, while, as a matter of fact, he was
president of a gas company, one of the shrewdest promoters in the
country, and a big man in Wall Street. There was only one bigger man
and that was John Ryder. But, to-day, Mr. Herts was not in good
condition. His face was pale and his manner flustered and nervous. He
was plainly worried.
"Mr. Ryder," he began with excited gesture, "the terms you offer
are preposterous. It would mean disaster to the stockholders. Our gas
properties are worth six times that amount. We will sell out for
twenty millions—not a cent less."
Ryder shrugged his shoulders.
"Mr. Herts," he replied coolly, "I am busy to-day and in no mood
for arguing. We'll either buy you out or force you out. Choose. You
have our offer. Five millions for your gas property. Will you take
"We'll see you in hell first!" cried his visitor exasperated.
"Very well," replied Ryder still unruffled, "all negotiations are
off. You leave me free to act. We have an offer to buy cheap the old
Germantown Gas Company which has charter rights to go into any of the
streets of Philadelphia. We shall purchase that company, we will put
ten millions new capital into it, and reduce the price of gas in
Philadelphia to sixty cents a thousand. Where will you be then?"
The face of the Colossus as he uttered this stand and deliver
speech was calm and inscrutable. Conscious of the resistless power of
his untold millions, he felt no more compunction in mercilessly
crushing this business rival than he would in trampling out the life
of a worm. The little man facing him looked haggard and distressed. He
knew well that this was no idle threat. He was well aware that Ryder
and his associates by the sheer weight of the enormous wealth they
controlled could sell out or destroy any industrial corporation in the
land. It was plainly illegal, but it was done every day, and his
company was not the first victim nor the last. Desperate, he appealed
humbly to the tyrannical Money Power:
"Don't drive us to the wall, Mr. Ryder. This forced sale will mean
disaster to us all. Put yourself in our place—think what it means to
scores of families whose only support is the income from their
investment in our company."
"Mr. Herts," replied Ryder unmoved, "I never allow sentiment to
interfere with business. You have heard my terms. I refuse to argue
the matter further. What is it to be? Five millions or competition?
Decide now or this interview must end!"
He took out his watch and with his other hand touched a bell.
Beads of perspiration stood on his visitor's forehead. In a voice
broken with suppressed emotion he said hoarsely:
"You're a hard, pitiless man, John Ryder! So be it—five millions.
I don't know what they'll say. I don't dare return to them."
"Those are my terms," said Ryder coldly. "The papers," he added,
"will be ready for your signature to-morrow at this time, and I'll
have a cheque ready for the entire amount. Good-day."
Mr. Bagley entered. Ryder bowed to Herts, who slowly retired. When
the door had closed on him Ryder went back to his desk, a smile of
triumph on his face. Then he turned to his secretary:
"Let Sergeant Ellison come up," he said.
The secretary left the room and Mr. Ryder sank comfortably in his
chair, puffing silently at his long black cigar. The financier was
thinking, but his thoughts concerned neither the luckless gas
president he had just pitilessly crushed, nor the detective who had
come to make his report. He was thinking of the book "The American
Octopus," and its bold author whom he was to meet in a very few
minutes. He glanced at the clock. A quarter to three. She would be
here in fifteen minutes if she were punctual, but women seldom are, he
reflected. What kind of a woman could she be, this Shirley Green, to
dare cross swords with a man whose power was felt in two hemispheres?
No ordinary woman, that was certain. He tried to imagine what she
looked like, and he pictured a tall, gaunt, sexless spinster with
spectacles, a sort of nightmare in the garb of a woman. A sour,
discontented creature, bitter to all mankind, owing to disappointments
in early life and especially vindictive towards the rich, whom her
socialistic and even anarchistical tendencies prompted her to hate and
attack. Yet, withal, a brainy, intelligent woman, remarkably well
informed as to political and industrial conditions—a woman to make a
friend of rather than an enemy. And John Ryder, who had educated
himself to believe that with gold he could do everything, that none
could resist its power, had no doubt that with money he could enlist
this Shirley Green in his service. At least it would keep her from
writing more books about him.
The door opened and Sergeant Ellison entered, followed by the
secretary, who almost immediately withdrew.
"Well, sergeant," said Mr. Ryder cordially, "what have you to tell
me? I can give you only a few minutes. I expect a lady friend of
The plutocrat sometimes condescended to be jocular with his
"A lady friend of mine, sir?" echoed the man, puzzled.
"Yes—Miss Shirley Green, the author," replied the financier,
enjoying the detective's embarrassment. "That suggestion of yours
worked out all right. She's coming here to-day."
"I'm glad you've found her, sir."
"It was a tough job," answered Ryder with a grimace. "We wrote her
half a dozen times before she was satisfied with the wording of the
invitation. But, finally, we landed her and I expect her at three
o'clock. Now what about that Rossmore girl? Did you go down to
"Yes, sir, I have been there half a dozen times. In fact, I've
just come from there. Judge Rossmore is there, all right, but his
daughter has left for parts unknown."
"Gone away—where?" exclaimed the financier.
This was what he dreaded. As long as he could keep his eye on the
girl there was little danger of Jefferson making a fool of himself;
with her disappeared everything was possible.
"I could not find out, sir. Their neighbours don't know much about
them. They say they're haughty and stuck up. The only one I could get
anything out of was a parson named Deetle. He said it was a sad case,
that they had reverses and a daughter who was in Paris— "
"Yes, yes," said Ryder impatiently, "we know all that. But where's
the daughter now?"
"Search me, sir. I even tried to pump the Irish slavey. Gee, what
a vixen! She almost flew at me. She said she didn't know and didn't
Ryder brought his fist down with force on his desk, a trick he had
when he wished to emphasize a point.
"Sergeant, I don't like the mysterious disappearance of that girl.
You must find her, do you hear, you must find her if it takes all the
sleuths in the country. Had my son been seen there?"
"The parson said he saw a young fellow answering his description
sitting on the porch of the Rossmore cottage the evening before the
girl disappeared, but he didn't know who he was and hasn't seen him
"That was my son, I'll wager. He knows where the girl is. Perhaps
he's with her now. Maybe he's going to marry her. That must be
prevented at any cost. Sergeant, find that Rossmore girl and I'll
give you $1,000."
The detective's face flushed with pleasure at the prospect of so
liberal a reward. Rising he said:
"I'll find her, sir. I'll find her."
Mr. Bagley entered, wearing the solemn, important air he always
affected when he had to announce a visitor of consequence. But before
he could open his mouth Mr. Ryder said:
"Bagley, when did you see my son, Jefferson, last?"
"To-day, sir. He wanted to see you to say good-bye. He said he
would be back."
Ryder gave a sigh of relief and addressing the detective said:
"It's not so bad as I thought." Then turning again to his
secretary he asked:
"Well, Bagley, what is it?"
"There's a lady downstairs, sir—Miss Shirley Green."
The financier half sprang from his seat.
"Oh, yes. Show her up at once. Good-bye, sergeant, good-bye. Find
that Rossmore woman and the $1,000 is yours."
The detective went out and a few moments later Mr. Bagley
reappeared ushering in Shirley.
The mouse was in the den of the lion.
Mr. Ryder remained at his desk and did not even look up when his
visitor entered. He pretended to be busily preoccupied with his
papers, which was a favourite pose of his when receiving strangers.
This frigid reception invariably served its purpose, for it led
visitors not to expect more than they got, which usually was little
enough. For several minutes Shirley stood still, not knowing whether
to advance or to take a seat. She gave a little conventional cough,
and Ryder looked up. What he saw so astonished him that he at once
took from his mouth the cigar he was smoking and rose from his seat.
He had expected a gaunt old maid with spectacles, and here was a
stylish, good-looking young woman, who could not possibly be over
twenty-five. There was surely some mistake. This slip of a girl could
not have written "The American Octopus." He advanced to greet Shirley.
"You wish to see me, Madame?" he asked courteously. There were
times when even John Burkett Ryder could be polite.
"Yes," replied Shirley, her voice trembling a little in spite of
her efforts to keep cool. "I am here by appointment. Three o'clock,
Mrs. Ryder's note said. I am Miss Green."
"You—Miss Green?" echoed the financier dubiously.
"Yes, I am Miss Green—Shirley Green, author of 'The American
Octopus.' You asked me to call. Here I am."
For the first time in his life, John Ryder was nonplussed. He
coughed and stammered and looked round for a place where he could
throw his cigar. Shirley, who enjoyed his embarrassment, put him at
"Oh, please go on smoking," she said; "I don't mind it in the
Ryder threw the cigar into a receptacle and looked closely at his
"So you are Shirley Green, eh?"
"That is my nom-de-plume—yes," replied the girl nervously. She
was already wishing herself back at Massapequa. The financier eyed
her for a moment in silence as if trying to gauge the strength of the
personality of this audacious young woman, who had dared to criticise
his business methods in public print; then, waving her to a seat near
his desk, he said:
"Won't you sit down?"
"Thank you," murmured Shirley. She sat down, and he took his seat
at the other side of the desk, which brought them face to face. Again
inspecting the girl with a close scrutiny that made her cheeks burn,
"I rather expected—" He stopped for a moment as if uncertain what
to say, then he added: "You're younger than I thought you were, Miss
Green, much younger."
"Time will remedy that," smiled Shirley. Then, mischievously, she
added: "I rather expected to see Mrs. Ryder."
There was the faintest suspicion of a smile playing around the
corners of the plutocrat's mouth as he picked up a book lying on his
desk and replied:
"Yes—she wrote you, but I—wanted to see you about this."
Shirley's pulse throbbed faster, but she tried hard to appear
unconcerned as she answered:
"Oh, my book—have you read it?"
"I have," replied Ryder slowly and, fixing her with a stare that
was beginning to make her uncomfortable, he went on: "No doubt your
time is valuable, so I'll come right to the point. I want to ask you,
Miss Green, where you got the character of your central figure—the
Octopus, as you call him—John Broderick?"
"From imagination—of course," answered Shirley.
Ryder opened the book, and Shirley noticed that there were several
passages marked. He turned the leaves over in silence for a minute or
two and then he said:
"You've sketched a pretty big man here—"
"Yes," assented Shirley, "he has big possibilities, but I think he
makes very small use of them."
Ryder appeared not to notice her commentary, and, still reading
the book, he continued:
"On page 22 you call him 'the world's greatest individualized
potentiality, a giant combination of materiality, mentality and
money—the greatest exemplar of individual human will in existence
to-day.' And you make indomitable will and energy the keystone of his
marvellous success. Am I right?" He looked at her questioningly.
"Quite right," answered Shirley.
"On page 26 you say 'the machinery of his money-making mind
typifies the laws of perpetual unrest. It must go on, relentlessly,
resistlessly, ruthlessly making money-making money and continuing to
make money. It cannot stop until the machinery crumbles.'"
Laying the book down and turning sharply on Shirley, he asked her
"Do you mean to say that I couldn't stop to-morrow if I wanted
She affected to not understand him.
"You?" she inquired in a tone of surprise.
"Well—it's a natural question," stammered Ryder, with a nervous
little laugh; "every man sees himself in the hero of a novel just as
every woman sees herself in the heroine. We're all heroes and heroines
in our own eyes. But tell me what's your private opinion of this man.
You drew the character. What do you think of him as a type, how would
you classify him?"
"As the greatest criminal the world has yet produced," replied
Shirley without a moment's hesitation.
The financier looked at the girl in unfeigned astonishment.
"Criminal?" he echoed.
"Yes, criminal," repeated Shirley decisively. "He is avarice,
egotism, and ambition incarnate. He loves money because he loves
power, and he loves power more than his fellow man."
Ryder laughed uneasily. Decidedly, this girl had opinions of her
own which she was not backward to express.
"Isn't that rather strong?" he asked.
"I don't think so," replied Shirley. Then quickly she asked: "But
what does it matter? No such man exists."
"No, of course not," said Ryder, and he relapsed into silence.
Yet while he said nothing, the plutocrat was watching his visitor
closely from under his thick eyebrows. She seemed supremely
unconscious of his scrutiny. Her aristocratic, thoughtful face gave
no sign that any ulterior motive had actuated her evidently very
hostile attitude against him. That he was in her mind when she drew
the character of John Broderick there was no doubt possible. No matter
how she might evade the identification, he was convinced he was the
hero of her book. Why had she attacked him so bitterly? At first, it
occurred to him that blackmail might be her object; she might be going
to ask for money as the price of future silence. Yet it needed but a
glance at her refined and modest demeanour to dispel that idea as
absurd. Then he remembered, too, that it was not she who had sought
this interview, but himself. No, she was no blackmailer. More probably
she was a dreamer—one of those meddling sociologists who, under
pretence of bettering the conditions of the working classes, stir up
discontent and bitterness of feeling. As such, she might prove more to
be feared than a mere blackmailer whom he could buy off with money. He
knew he was not popular, but he was no worse than the other captains
of industry. It was a cut-throat game at best. Competition was the
soul of commercial life, and if he had outwitted his competitors and
made himself richer than all of them, he was not a criminal for that.
But all these attacks in newspapers and books did not do him any good.
One day the people might take these demagogic writings seriously and
then there would be the devil to pay. He took up the book again and
ran over the pages. This certainly was no ordinary girl. She knew more
and had a more direct way of saying things than any woman he had ever
met. And as he watched her furtively across the desk he wondered how
he could use her; how instead of being his enemy, he could make her
his friend. If he did not, she would go away and write more such
books, and literature of this kind might become a real peril to his
interests. Money could do anything; it could secure the services of
this woman and prevent her doing further mischief. But how could he
employ her? Suddenly an inspiration came to him. For some years he had
been collecting material for a history of the Empire Trading Company.
She could write it. It would practically be his own biography. Would
she undertake it?
Embarrassed by the long silence, Shirley finally broke it by
"But you didn't ask me to call merely to find out what I thought
of my own work."
"No," replied Ryder slowly, "I want you to do some work for me."
He opened a drawer at the left-hand side of his desk and took out
several sheets of foolscap and a number of letters. Shirley's heart
beat faster as she caught sight of the letters. Were her father's
among them? She wondered what kind of work John Burkett Ryder had for
her to do and if she would do it whatever it was. Some literary work
probably, compiling or something of that kind. If it was well paid,
why should she not accept? There would be nothing humiliating in it;
it would not tie her hands in any way. She was a professional writer
in the market to be employed by whoever could pay the price. Besides,
such work might give her better opportunities to secure the letters of
which she was in search. Gathering in one pile all the papers he had
removed from the drawer, Mr. Ryder said:
"I want you to put my biography together from this material. But
first," he added, taking up "The American Octopus," "I want to know
where you got the details of this man's life."
"Oh, for the most part—imagination, newspapers, magazines,"
replied Shirley carelessly. "You know the American millionaire is a
very overworked topic just now—and naturally I've read—"
"Yes, I understand," he said, "but I refer to what you haven't
read—what you couldn't have read. For example, here." He turned to a
page marked in the book and read aloud: "As an evidence of his petty
vanity, when a youth he had a beautiful Indian girl tattooed just
above the forearm." Ryder leaned eagerly forward as he asked her
searchingly: "Now who told you that I had my arm tattooed when I was a
"Have you?" laughed Shirley nervously. "What a curious
"Let me read you another coincidence," said Ryder meaningly. He
turned to another part of the book and read: "the same eternal long
black cigar always between his lips..." "General Grant smoked, too,"
interrupted Shirley. "All men who think deeply along material lines
seem to smoke."
"Well, we'll let that go. But how about this?" He turned back a
few pages and read: "John Broderick had loved, when a young man, a
girl who lived in VERMONT, BUT CIRCUMSTANCES SEPARATED THEM." He
stopped and stared at Shirley a moment and then he said: "I loved a
girl when I was a lad and she came from Vermont, and circumstances
separated us. That isn't coincidence, for presently you make John
Broderick marry a young woman who had money. I married a girl with
"Lots of men marry for money," remarked Shirley.
"I said WITH money, not for money," retorted Ryder. Then turning
again to the book, he said: "Now, this is what I can't understand,
for no one could have told you this but I myself. Listen." He read
aloud: "WITH ALL HIS PHYSICAL BRAVERY AND PERSONAL COURAGE, JOHN
BRODERICK WAS INTENSELY AFRAID OF DEATH. IT WAS ON HIS MIND
CONSTANTLY." "Who told you that?" he demanded somewhat roughly. "I
swear I've never mentioned it to a living soul."
"Most men who amass money are afraid of death," replied Shirley
with outward composure, "for death is about the only thing that can
separate them from their money."
Ryder laughed, but it was a hollow, mocking laugh, neither sincere
nor hearty. It was a laugh such as the devil may have given when
driven out of heaven.
"You're quite a character!" He laughed again, and Shirley,
catching the infection, laughed, too. "It's me and it isn't me," went
on Ryder flourishing the book. "This fellow Broderick is all right;
he's successful and he's great, but I don't like his finish."'
"It's logical," ventured Shirley.
"It's cruel," insisted Ryder.
"So is the man who reverses the divine law and hates his neighbour
instead of loving him," retorted Shirley.
She spoke more boldly, beginning to feel more sure of her ground,
and it amused her to fence in this way with the man of millions. So
far, she thought, he had not got the best of her. She was fast
becoming used to him, and her first feeling of intimidation was
"Um!" grunted Ryder, "you're a curious girl; upon my word you
interest me!" He took the mass of papers lying at his elbow and
pushed them over to her. "Here," he said, "I want you to make as
clever a book out of this chaos as you did out of your own
Shirley turned the papers over carelessly.
"So you think your life is a good example to follow?" she asked
with a tinge of irony.
"Isn't it?" he demanded.
The girl looked him square in the face.
"Suppose," she said, "we all wanted to follow it, suppose we all
wanted to be the richest, the most powerful personage in the world?"
"Well—what then?" he demanded.
"I think it would postpone the era of the Brotherhood of man
indefinitely, don't you?"
"I never thought of it from that point of view," admitted the
billionaire. "Really," he added, "you're an extraordinary girl. Why,
you can't be more than twenty—or so."
"I'm twenty-four—or so," smiled Shirley.
Ryder's face expanded in a broad smile. He admired this girl's
pluck and ready wit. He grew more amiable and tried to gain her
confidence. In a coaxing tone he said:
"Come, where did you get those details? Take me into your
"I have taken you into my confidence," laughed Shirley, pointing
at her book. "It cost you $1.50!" Turning over the papers he had put
before her she said presently: "I don't know about this."
"You don't think my life would make good reading?" he asked with
"It might," she replied slowly, as if unwilling to commit herself
as to its commercial or literary value. Then she said frankly: "To
tell you the honest truth, I don't consider mere genius in money-
making is sufficient provocation for rushing into print. You see,
unless you come to a bad end, it would have no moral."
Ignoring the not very flattering insinuation contained in this
last speech, the plutocrat continued to urge her:
"You can name your own price if you will do the work," he said.
"Two, three or even five thousand dollars. It's only a few months'
"Five thousand dollars?" echoed Shirley. "That's a lot of money."
Smiling, she added: "It appeals to my commercial sense. But I'm
afraid the subject does not arouse my enthusiasm from an artistic
Ryder seemed amused at the idea of any one hesitating to make five
thousand dollars. He knew that writers do not run across such
opportunities every day.
"Upon my word," he said, "I don't know why I'm so anxious to get
you to do the work. I suppose it's because you don't want to. You
remind me of my son. Ah, he's a problem!"
Shirley started involuntarily when Ryder mentioned his son. But he
did not notice it.
"Why, is he wild?" she asked, as if only mildly interested.
"Oh, no, I wish he were," said Ryder.
"Fallen in love with the wrong woman, I suppose," she said.
"Something of the sort—how did you guess?" asked Ryder surprised.
Shirley coughed to hide her embarrassment and replied
"So many boys do that. Besides," she added with a mischievous
twinkle in her eyes, "I can hardly imagine that any woman would be
the right one unless you selected her yourself!"
Ryder made no answer. He folded his arms and gazed at her. Who was
this woman who knew him so well, who could read his inmost thoughts,
who never made a mistake? After a silence he said:
"Do you know you say the strangest things?"
"Truth is strange," replied Shirley carelessly. "I don't suppose
you hear it very often."
"Not in that form," admitted Ryder.
Shirley had taken on to her lap some of the letters he had passed
her, and was perusing them one after another.
"All these letters from Washington consulting you on politics and
finance—they won't interest the world."
"My secretary picked them out," explained Ryder. "Your artistic
sense will tell you what to use."
"Does your son still love this girl? I mean the one you abject
to?" inquired Shirley as she went on sorting the papers.
"Oh, no, he does not care for her any more," answered Ryder
"Yes, he does; he still loves her," said Shirley positively.
"How do you know?" asked Ryder amazed.
"From the way you say he doesn't," retorted Shirley.
Ryder gave his caller a look in which admiration was mingled with
"You are right again," he said. "The idiot does love the girl."
"Bless his heart," said Shirley to herself. Aloud she said:
"I hope they'll both outwit you."
Ryder laughed in spite of himself. This young woman certainly
interested him more than any other he had ever known.
"I don't think I ever met anyone in my life quite like you," he
"What's the objection to the girl?" demanded Shirley.
"Every objection. I don't want her in my family."
"Anything against her character?"
To better conceal the keen interest she took in the personal turn
the conversation had taken, Shirley pretended to be more busy than
ever with the papers.
"Yes—that is no—not that I know of," replied Ryder. "But because
a woman has a good character, that doesn't necessarily make her a
desirable match, does it?"
"It's a point in her favor, isn't it?"
"Yes—but—" He hesitated as if uncertain what to say.
"You know men well, don't you, Mr. Ryder?"
"I've met enough to know them pretty well," he replied.
"Why don't you study women for a change?" she asked. "That would
enable you to understand a great many things that I don't think are
quite clear to you now."
Ryder laughed good humouredly. It was decidedly a novel sensation
to have someone lecturing him.
"I'm studying you," he said, "but I don't seem to make much
headway. A woman like you whose mind isn't spoiled by the amusement
habit has great possibilities—great possibilities. Do you know you're
the first woman I ever took into my confidence—I mean at sight?"
Again he fixed her with that keen glance which in his business life
had taught him how to read men. He continued: "I'm acting on
sentiment—something I rarely do, but I can't help it. I like you,
upon my soul I do, and I'm going to introduce you to my wife—my
He took the telephone from his desk as if he were going to use it.
"What a commander-in-chief you would have made—how natural it is
for you to command," exclaimed Shirley in a burst of admiration that
was half real, half mocking. "I suppose you always tell people what
they are to do and how they are to do it. You are a born general. You
know I've often thought that Napoleon and Caesar and Alexander must
have been great domestic leaders as well as imperial rulers. I'm sure
of it now."
Ryder listened to her in amazement. He was not quite sure if she
were making fun of him or not.
"Well, of all—" he began. Then interrupting himself he said
amiably: "Won't you do me the honour to meet my family?"
Shirley smiled sweetly and bowed.
"Thank you, Mr. Ryder, I will."
She rose from her seat and leaned over the manuscripts to conceal
the satisfaction this promise of an introduction to the family circle
gave her. She was quick to see that it meant more visits to the house,
and other and perhaps better opportunities to find the objects of her
search. Ryder lifted the receiver of his telephone and talked to his
secretary in another room, while Shirley, who was still standing,
continued examining the papers and letters.
"Is that you, Bagley? What's that? General Dodge? Get rid of him.
I can't see him to-day. Tell him to come to-morrow. What's that? My
son wants to see me? Tell him to come to the phone,"
At that instant Shirley gave a little cry, which in vain she tried
to suppress. Ryder looked up.
"What's the matter?" he demanded startled.
"Nothing—nothing!" she replied in a hoarse whisper. "I pricked
myself with a pin. Don't mind me."
She had just come across her father's missing letters, which had
got mixed up, evidently without Ryder's knowledge, in the mass of
papers he had handed her. Prepared as she was to find the letters
somewhere in the house, she never dreamed that fate would put them so
easily and so quickly into her hands; the suddenness of their
appearance and the sight of her father's familiar signature affected
her almost like a shock. Now she had them, she must not let them go
again; yet how could she keep them unobserved? Could she conceal them?
Would he miss them? She tried to slip them in her bosom while Ryder
was busy at the 'phone, but he suddenly glanced in her direction and
caught her eye. She still held the letters in her hand, which shook
from nervousness, but he noticed nothing and went on speaking through
"Hallo, Jefferson, boy! You want to see me. Can you wait till I'm
through? I've got a lady here. Going away? Nonsense! Determined, eh?
Well, I can't keep you here if you've made up your mind. You want to
say good-bye. Come up in about five minutes and I'll introduce you to
a very interesting person." He laughed and hung up the receiver.
Shirley was all unstrung, trying to overcome the emotion which her
discovery had caused her, and in a strangely altered voice, the result
of the nervous strain she was under, she said:
"You want me to come here?"
She looked up from the letters she was reading across to Ryder,
who was standing watching her on the other side of the desk. He
caught her glance and, leaning over to take some manuscript, he said:
"Yes, I don't want these papers to get—"
His eye suddenly rested on the letters she was holding. He stopped
short, and reaching forward he tried to snatch them from her.
"What have you got there?" he exclaimed.
He took the letters and she made no resistance. It would be folly
to force the issue now, she thought. Another opportunity would
present itself. Ryder locked the letters up very carefully in the
drawer on the left-hand side of his desk, muttering to himself rather
than speaking to Shirley:
"How on earth did they get among my other papers?"
"From Judge Rossmore, were they not?" said Shirley boldly.
"How did you know it was Judge Rossmore?" demanded Ryder
suspiciously. "I didn't know that his name had been mentioned."
"I saw his signature," she said simply. Then she added: "He's the
father of the girl you don't like, isn't he?"
"Yes, he's the——"
A cloud came over the financier's face; his eyes darkened, his
jaws snapped and he clenched his fist.
"How you must hate him!" said Shirley, who observed the change.
"Not at all," replied Ryder recovering his self-possession and
suavity of manner. "I disagree with his politics and his methods,
but—I know very little about him except that he is about to be
removed from office."
"About to be?" echoed Shirley. "So his fate is decided even before
he is tried?" The girl laughed bitterly." Yes," she went on, "some of
the newspapers are beginning to think he is innocent of the things of
which he is accused."
"Do they?" said Ryder indifferently.
"Yes," she persisted, "most people are on his side."
She planted her elbows on the desk in front of her, and looking
him squarely in the face, she asked him point blank:
"Whose side are you on—really and truly?"
Ryder winced. What right had this woman, a stranger both to Judge
Rossmore and himself, to come here and catechise him? He restrained
his impatience with difficulty as he replied:
"Whose side am I on? Oh, I don't know that I am on any side. I
don't know that I give it much thought. I—"
"Do you think this man deserves to be punished?" she demanded.
She had resumed her seat at the desk and partly regained her self-
"Why do you ask? What is your interest in this matter?"
"I don't know," she replied evasively; "his case interests me,
that's all. Its rather romantic. Your son loves this man's daughter.
He is in disgrace—many seem to think unjustly." Her voice trembled
with emotion as she continued: "I have heard from one source or
another—you know I am acquainted with a number of newspaper men—I
have heard that life no longer has any interest for him, that he is
not only disgraced but beggared, that he is pining away slowly, dying
of a broken heart, that his wife and daughter are in despair. Tell me,
do you think he deserves such a fate?"
Ryder remained thoughtful a moment, and then he replied:
"No, I do not—no—"
Thinking that she had touched his sympathies, Shirley followed up
"Oh, then, why not come to his rescue—you, who are so rich, so
powerful; you, who can move the scales of justice at your will— save
this man from humiliation and disgrace!"
Ryder shrugged his shoulders, and his face expressed weariness, as
if the subject had begun to bore him.
"My dear girl, you don't understand. His removal is necessary."
Shirley's face became set and hard. There was a contemptuous ring
to her words as she retorted:
"Yet you admit that he may be innocent!"
"Even if I knew it as a fact, I couldn't move."
"Do you mean to say that if you had positive proof?" She pointed
to the drawer in the desk where he had placed the letters. "If you
had absolute proof in that drawer, for instance? Wouldn't you help
Ryder's face grew cold and inscrutable; he now wore his fighting
"Not even if I had the absolute proof in that drawer?" he snapped
"Have you absolute proof in that drawer?" she demanded.
"I repeat that even if I had, I could not expose the men who have
been my friends. It's noblesse oblige in politics as well as in
society, you know."
He smiled again at her, as if he had recovered his good humour
after their sharp passage at arms.
"Oh, it's politics—that's what the papers said. And you believe
him innocent. Well, you must have some grounds for your belief."
"You said that even if you had the proofs, you could not produce
them without sacrificing your friends, showing that your friends are
interested in having this man put off the bench—" She stopped and
burst into hysterical laughter. "Oh, I think you're having a joke at
my expense," she went on, "just to see how far you can lead me. I
daresay Judge Rossmore deserves all he gets. Oh, yes— I'm sure he
deserves it." She rose and walked to the other side of the room to
conceal her emotion.
Ryder watched her curiously.
"My dear young lady, how you take this matter to heart!"
"Please forgive me," laughed Shirley, and averting her face to
conceal the fact that her eyes were filled with tears. "It's my
artistic temperament, I suppose. It's always getting me into trouble.
It appealed so strongly to my sympathies—this story of hopeless love
between two young people—with the father of the girl hounded by
corrupt politicians and unscrupulous financiers. It was too much for
me. Ah! ah! I forgot where I was!"
She leaned against a chair, sick and faint from nervousness, her
whole body trembling. At that moment there was a knock at the library
door and Jefferson Ryder appeared. Not seeing Shirley, whose back was
towards him, he advanced to greet his father.
"You told me to come up in five minutes," he said. "I just wanted
"Miss Green," said Ryder, Sr., addressing Shirley and ignoring
whatever it was that the young man wanted to say, "this is my son
Jefferson. Jeff—this is Miss Green."
Jefferson looked in the direction indicated and stood as if rooted
to the floor. He was so surprised that he was struck dumb. Finally,
recovering himself, he exclaimed:
"Yes, Shirley Green, the author," explained Ryder, Sr., not
noticing the note of familiar recognition in his exclamation.
Shirley advanced, and holding out her hand to Jefferson, said
"I am very pleased to meet you, Mr. Ryder." Then quickly, in an
undertone, she added: "Be careful; don't betray me!"
Jefferson was so astounded that he did not see the outstretched
hand. All he could do was to stand and stare first at her and then at
"Why don't you shake hands with her?" said Ryder, Sr., "She won't
bite you." Then he added: "Miss Green is going to do some literary
work for me, so we shall see a great deal of her. It's too bad you're
going away!" He chuckled at his own pleasantry.
"Father!" blurted out Jefferson, "I came to say that I've changed
my mind. You did not want me to go, and I feel I ought to do
something to please you."
"Good boy," said Ryder pleased. "Now you're talking common sense."
He turned to Shirley, who was getting ready to make her departure:
"Well, Miss Green, we may consider the matter settled. You undertake
the work at the price I named and finish it as soon as you can. Of
course, you will have to consult me a good deal as you go along, so I
think it would be better for you to come and stay here while the work
is progressing. Mrs. Ryder can give you a suite of rooms to yourself,
where you will be undisturbed and you will have all your material
close at hand. What do you say?"
Shirley was silent for a moment. She looked first at Ryder and
then at his son, and from them her glance went to the little drawer
on the left-hand side of the desk. Then she said quietly:
"As you think best, Mr. Ryder. I am quite willing to do the work
Ryder, Sr., escorted her to the top of the landing and watched her
as she passed down the grand staircase, ushered by the gorgeously
uniformed flunkies, to the front door and the street.
Shirley entered upon her new duties in the Ryder household two
days later. She had returned to her rooms the evening of her meeting
with the financier in a state bordering upon hysteria. The day's
events had been so extraordinary that it seemed to her they could not
be real, and that she must be in a dream. The car ride to
Seventy-fourth Street, the interview in the library, the discovery of
her father's letters, the offer to write the biography, and, what to
her was still more important, the invitation to go and live in the
Ryder home—all these incidents were so remarkable and unusual that it
was only with difficulty that the girl persuaded herself that they
were not figments of a disordered brain.
But it was all true enough. The next morning's mail brought a
letter from Mrs. Ryder, who wrote to the effect that Mr. Ryder would
like the work to begin at once, and adding that a suite of rooms would
be ready for her the following afternoon. Shirley did not hesitate.
Everything was to be gained by making the Ryder residence her
headquarters, her father's very life depended upon the successful
outcome of her present mission, and this unhoped for opportunity
practically ensured success. She immediately wrote to Massapequa. One
letter was to her mother, saying that she was extending her visit
beyond the time originally planned. The other letter was to Stott. She
told him all about the interview with Ryder, informed him of the
discovery of the letters, and after explaining the nature of the work
offered to her, said that her address for the next few weeks would be
in care of John Burkett Ryder. All was going better than she had dared
to hope. Everything seemed to favour their plan. Her first step, of
course, while in the Ryder home, would be to secure possession of her
father's letters, and these she would dispatch at once to Massapequa,
so they could be laid before the Senate without delay.
So, after settling accounts with her landlady and packing up her
few belongings, Shirley lost no time in transferring herself to the
more luxurious quarters provided for her in the ten-million- dollar
At the Ryder house she was received cordially and with every mark
of consideration. The housekeeper came down to the main hall to greet
her when she arrived and escorted her to the suite of rooms,
comprising a small working library, a bedroom simply but daintily
furnished in pink and white and a private bathroom, which had been
specially prepared for her convenience and comfort, and here
presently she was joined by Mrs. Ryder.
"Dear me," exclaimed the financier's wife, staring curiously at
Shirley, "what a young girl you are to have made such a stir with a
book! How did you do it? I'm sure I couldn't. It's as much as I can do
to write a letter, and half the time that's not legible."
"Oh, it wasn't so hard," laughed Shirley. "It was the subject that
appealed rather than any special skill of mine. The trusts and their
misdeeds are the favourite topics of the hour. The whole country is
talking about nothing else. My book came at the right time, that's
Although "The American Octopus" was a direct attack on her own
husband, Mrs. Ryder secretly admired this young woman, who had dared
to speak a few blunt truths. It was a courage which, alas! she had
always lacked herself, but there was a certain satisfaction in knowing
there were women in the world not entirely cowed by the tyrant Man.
"I have always wanted a daughter," went on Mrs. Ryder, becoming
confidential, while Shirley removed her things and made herself at
home; "girls of your age are so companionable." Then, abruptly, she
asked: "Do your parents live in New York?"
Shirley's face flushed and she stooped over her trunk to hide her
"No—not at present," she answered evasively. "My mother and
father are in the country."
She was afraid that more questions of a personal nature would
follow, but apparently Mrs. Ryder was not in an inquisitive mood, for
she asked nothing further. She only said:
"I have a son, but I don't see much of him. You must meet my
Jefferson. He is such a nice boy."
Shirley tried to look unconcerned as she replied:
"I met him yesterday. Mr. Ryder introduced him to me."
"Poor lad, he has his troubles too," went on Mrs. Ryder. "He's in
love with a girl, but his father wants him to marry someone else.
They're quarrelling over it all the time."
"Parents shouldn't interfere in matters of the heart," said
Shirley decisively. "What is more serious than the choosing of a life
companion, and who are better entitled to make a free selection than
they who are going to spend the rest of their days together? Of
course, it is a father's duty to give his son the benefit of his riper
experience, but to insist on a marriage based only on business
interests is little less than a crime. There are considerations more
important if the union is to be a happy or a lasting one. The chief
thing is that the man should feel real attachment for the woman he
marries. Two people who are to live together as man and wife must be
compatible in tastes and temper. You cannot mix oil and water. It is
these selfish marriages which keep our divorce courts busy. Money
alone won't buy happiness in marriage."
"No," sighed Mrs. Ryder, "no one knows that better than I."
The financier's wife was already most favourably impressed with
her guest, and she chatted on as if she had known Shirley for years.
It was rarely that she had heard so young a woman express such
common-sense views, and the more she talked with her the less
surprised she was that she was the author of a much-discussed book.
Finally, thinking that Shirley might prefer to be alone, she rose to
go, bidding her make herself thoroughly at home and to ring for
anything she might wish. A maid had been assigned to look exclusively
after her wants, and she could have her meals served in her room or
else have them with the family as she liked. But Shirley, not caring
to encounter Mr. Ryder's cold, searching stare more often than
necessary, said she would prefer to take her meals alone.
Left to herself, Shirley settled down to work in earnest. Mr.
Ryder had sent to her room all the material for the biography, and
soon she was completely absorbed in the task of sorting and arranging
letters, making extracts from records, compiling data, etc., laying
the foundations for the important book she was to write. She wondered
what they would call it, and she smiled as a peculiarly appropriate
title flashed through her mind—"The History of a Crime." Yet she
thought they could hardly infringe on Victor Hugo; perhaps the best
title was the simplest "The History of the Empire Trading Company."
Everyone would understand that it told the story of John Burkett
Ryder's remarkable career from his earliest beginnings to the present
time. She worked feverishly all that evening getting the material into
shape, and the following day found her early at her desk. No one
disturbed her and she wrote steadily on until noon, Mrs. Ryder only
once putting her head in the door to wish her good morning.
After luncheon, Shirley decided that the weather was too glorious
to remain indoors. Her health must not be jeopardized even to advance
the interests of the Colossus, so she put on her hat and left the
house to go for a walk. The air smelled sweet to her after being
confined so long indoor, and she walked with a more elastic and
buoyant step than she had since her return home. Turning down Fifth
Avenue, she entered the park at Seventy-second Street, following the
pathway until she came to the bend in the driveway opposite the
Casino. The park was almost deserted at that hour, and there was a
delightful sense of solitude and a sweet scent of new-mown hay from
the freshly cut lawns. She found an empty bench, well shaded by an
overspreading tree, and she sat down, grateful for the rest and quiet.
She wondered what Jefferson thought of her action in coming to his
father's house practically in disguise and under an assumed name. She
must see him at once, for in him lay her hope of obtaining possession
of the letters. Certainly she felt no delicacy or compunction in
asking Jefferson to do her this service. The letters belonged to her
father and they were being wrongfully withheld with the deliberate
purpose of doing him an injury. She had a moral if not a legal right
to recover the letters in any way that she could.
She was so deeply engrossed in her thoughts that she had not
noticed a hansom cab which suddenly drew up with a jerk at the curb
opposite her bench. A man jumped out. It was Jefferson.
"Hello, Shirley," he cried gaily; "who would have expected to find
you rusticating on a bench here? I pictured you grinding away at home
doing literary stunts for the governor." He grinned and then added:
"Come for a drive. I want to talk to you."
Shirley demurred. No, she could not spare the time. Yet, she
thought to herself, why was not this a good opportunity to explain to
Jefferson how he came to find her in his father's library masquerading
under another name, and also to ask him to secure the letters for her?
While she pondered Jefferson insisted, and a few minutes later she
found herself sitting beside him in the cab. They started off at a
brisk pace, Shirley sitting with her head back, enjoying the strong
breeze caused by the rapid motion.
"Now tell me," he said, "what does it all mean? I was so startled
at seeing you in the library the other day that I almost betrayed
you. How did you come to call on father?"
Briefly Shirley explained everything. She told him how Mr. Ryder
had written to her asking her to call and see him, and how she had
eagerly seized at this last straw in the hope of helping her father,
She told him about the letters, explaining how necessary they were for
her father's defence and how she had discovered them. Mr. Ryder, she
said, had seemed to take a fancy to her and had asked her to remain in
the house as his guest while she was compiling his biography, and she
had accepted the offer, not so much for the amount of money involved
as for the splendid opportunity it afforded her to gain possession of
"So that is the mysterious work you spoke of—to get those
letters?" said Jefferson.
"Yes, that is my mission. It was a secret. I couldn't tell you; I
couldn't tell anyone. Only Judge Stott knows. He is aware I have
found them and is hourly expecting to receive them from me. And now,"
she said, "I want your help."
His only answer was to grasp tighter the hand she had laid in his.
She knew that she would not have to explain the nature of the service
she wanted. He understood.
"Where are the letters?" he demanded.
"In the left-hand drawer of your father's desk," she answered.
He was silent for a few moments, and then he said simply:
"I will get them."
The cab by this time had got as far as Claremont, and from the
hill summit they had a splendid view of the broad sweep of the
majestic Hudson and the towering walls of the blue palisades. The day
was so beautiful and the air so invigorating that Jefferson suggested
a ramble along the banks of the river. They could leave the cab at
Claremont and drive back to the city later. Shirley was too grateful
to him for his promise of cooperation to make any further opposition,
and soon they were far away from beaten highways, down on the banks of
the historic stream, picking flowers and laughing merrily like two
truant children bent on a self-made holiday. The place they had
reached was just outside the northern boundaries of Harlem, a sylvan
spot still unspoiled by the rude invasion of the flat-house builder.
The land, thickly wooded, sloped down sharply to the water, and the
perfect quiet was broken only by the washing of the tiny surf against
the river bank and the shrill notes of the birds in the trees.
Although it was late in October the day was warm, and Shirley soon
tired of climbing over bramble-entangled verdure. The rich grass
underfoot looked cool and inviting, and the natural slope of the
ground affording an ideal resting-place, she sat there, with
Jefferson stretched out at her feet, both watching idly the dancing
waters of the broad Hudson, spangled with gleams of light, as they
swept swiftly by on their journey to the sea.
"Shirley," said Jefferson suddenly, "I suppose you saw that
ridiculous story about my alleged engagement to Miss Roberts. I hope
you understood that it was done without my consent."
"If I did not guess it, Jeff," she answered, "your assurance would
be sufficient. Besides," she added, "what right have I to object?"
"But I want you to have the right," he replied earnestly. "I'm
going to stop this Roberts nonsense in a way my father hardly
anticipates. I'm just waiting a chance to talk to him. I'll show him
the absurdity of announcing me engaged to a girl who is about to elope
with his private secretary!"
"Elope with the secretary?" exclaimed Shirley.
Jefferson told her all about the letter he had found on the
staircase, and the Hon. Fitzroy Bagley's plans for a runaway marriage
with the senator's wealthy daughter.
"It's a godsend to me," he said gleefully. "Their plan is to get
married next Wednesday. I'll see my father on Tuesday; I'll put the
evidence in his hands, and I don't think," he added grimly, "he'll
bother me any more about Miss Roberts."
"So you're not going away now?" said Shirley, smiling down at him.
He sat up and leaned over towards her.
"I can't, Shirley, I simply can't," he replied, his voice
trembling. "You are more to me than I dreamed a woman could ever be.
I realize it more forcibly every day. There is no use fighting against
it. Without you, my work, my life means nothing."
Shirley shook her head and averted her eyes.
"Don't let us speak of that, Jeff," she pleaded gently. "I told
you I did not belong to myself while my father was in peril."
"But I must speak of it," he interrupted. "Shirley, you do
yourself an injustice as well as me. You are not indifferent to me—I
feel that. Then why raise this barrier between us?"
A soft light stole into the girl's eyes. Ah, it was good to feel
there was someone to whom she was everything in the world!
"Don't ask me to betray my trust, Jeff," she faltered. "You know I
am not indifferent to you—far from it. But I—"
He came closer until his face nearly touched hers.
"I love you—I want you," he murmured feverishly. "Give me the
right to claim you before all the world as my future wife!"
Every note of his rich, manly voice, vibrating with impetuous
passion, sounded in Shirley's ear like a soft caress. She closed her
eyes. A strange feeling of languor was stealing over her, a mysterious
thrill passed through her whole body. The eternal, inevitable sex
instinct was disturbing, for the first time, a woman whose life had
been singularly free from such influences, putting to flight all the
calculations and resolves her cooler judgment had made. The sensuous
charm of the place—the distant splash of the water, the singing of
the birds, the fragrance of the trees and grass—all these symbols of
the joy of life conspired to arouse the love-hunger of the woman. Why,
after all, should she not know happiness like other women? She had a
sacred duty to perform, it was true; but would it be less well done
because she declined to stifle the natural leanings of her womanhood?
Both her soul and her body called out: "Let this man love you, give
yourself to him, he is worthy of your love."
Half unconsciously, she listened to his ardent wooing, her eyes
shut, as he spoke quickly, passionately, his breath warm upon her
"Shirley, I offer you all the devotion a man can give a woman. Say
the one word that will make me the happiest or the most wretched of
men. Yes or no! Only think well before you wreck my life. I love
you—I love you! I will wait for you if need be until the crack of
doom. Say—say you will be my wife!"
She opened her eyes. His face was bent close over hers. Their lips
"Yes, Jefferson," she murmured, "I do love you!" His lips met hers
in a long, passionate kiss. Her eyes closed and an ecstatic thrill
seemed to convulse her entire being. The birds in the trees overhead
sang in more joyful chorus in celebration of the betrothal.
It was nearly seven o'clock when Shirley got back to Seventy-
fourth Street. No one saw her come in, and she went direct to her
room, and after a hasty dinner, worked until late into the night on
her book to make up for lost time. The events of the afternoon caused
her considerable uneasiness. She reproached herself for her weakness
and for having yielded so readily to the impulse of the moment. She
had said only what was the truth when she admitted she loved
Jefferson, but what right had she to dispose of her future while her
father's fate was still uncertain? Her conscience troubled her, and
when she came to reason it out calmly, the more impossible seemed
their union from every point of view. How could she become the
daughter-in-law of the man who had ruined her own father? The idea was
preposterous, and hard as the sacrifice would be, Jefferson must be
made to see it in that light. Their engagement was the greatest folly;
it bound each of them when nothing but unhappiness could possibly come
of it. She was sure now that she loved Jefferson. It would be hard to
give him up, but there are times and circumstances when duty and
principle must prevail over all other considerations, and this she
felt was one of them.
The following morning she received a letter from Stott. He was
delighted to hear the good news regarding her important discovery,
and he urged her to lose no time in securing the letters and
forwarding them to Massapequa, when he would immediately go to
Washington and lay them before the Senate. Documentary evidence of
that conclusive nature, he went on to say, would prove of the very
highest value in clearing her father's name. He added that the judge
and her mother were as well as circumstances would permit, and that
they were not in the least worried about her protracted absence. Her
Aunt Milly had already returned to Europe, and Eudoxia was still
threatening to leave daily.
Shirley needed no urging. She quite realized the importance of
acting quickly, but it was not easy to get at the letters. The
library was usually kept locked when the great man was away, and on
the few occasions when access to it was possible, the lynx-eyed Mr.
Bagley was always on guard. Short as had been her stay in the Ryder
household, Shirley already shared Jefferson's antipathy to the English
secretary, whose manner grew more supercilious and overbearing as he
drew nearer the date when he expected to run off with one of the
richest catches of the season. He had not sought the acquaintance of
his employer's biographer since her arrival, and, with the exception
of a rude stare, had not deigned to notice her, which attitude of
haughty indifference was all the more remarkable in view of the fact
that the Hon. Fitzroy usually left nothing unturned to cultivate a
flirtatious intimacy with every attractive female he met. The truth
was that what with Mr. Ryder's demands upon his services and his own
preparations for his coming matrimonial venture, in which he had so
much at stake, he had neither time nor inclination to indulge his
customary amorous diversions.
Miss Roberts had called at the house several times, ostensibly to
see Mrs. Ryder, and when introduced to Shirley she had condescended
to give the latter a supercilious nod. Her conversation was generally
of the silly, vacuous sort, concerning chiefly new dresses or bonnets,
and Shirley at once read her character—frivolous, amusement-loving,
empty-headed, irresponsible—just the kind of girl to do something
foolish without weighing the consequences. After chatting a few
moments with Mrs. Ryder she would usually vanish, and one day, after
one of these mysterious disappearances, Shirley happened to pass the
library and caught sight of her and Mr. Bagley conversing in subdued
and eager tones. It was very evident that the elopement scheme was
fast maturing. If the scandal was to be prevented, Jefferson ought to
see his father and acquaint him with the facts without delay. It was
probable that at the same time he would make an effort to secure the
letters. Meantime she must be patient. Too much hurry might spoil
So the days passed, Shirley devoting almost all her time to the
history she had undertaken. She saw nothing of Ryder, Sr., but a good
deal of his wife, to whom she soon became much attached. She found her
an amiable, good-natured woman, entirely free from that offensive
arrogance and patronizing condescension which usually marks the
parvenue as distinct from the thoroughbred. Mrs. Ryder had no claims
to distinguished lineage; on the contrary, she was the daughter of a
country grocer when the then rising oil man married her, and of
educational advantages she had had little or none. It was purely by
accident that she was the wife of the richest man in the world, and
while she enjoyed the prestige her husband's prominence gave her, she
never allowed it to turn her head. She gave away large sums for
charitable purposes and, strange to say, when the gift came direct
from her, the money was never returned on the plea that it was
"tainted." She shared her husband's dislike for entertaining, and led
practically the life of a recluse. The advent of Shirley, therefore,
into her quiet and uneventful existence was as welcome as sunshine
when it breaks through the clouds after days of gloom. Quite a
friendship sprang up between the two women, and when tired of writing,
Shirley would go into Mrs. Ryder's room and chat until the financier's
wife began to look forward to these little impromptu visits, so much
she enjoyed them.
Nothing more had been said concerning Jefferson and Miss Roberts.
The young man had not yet seen his father, but his mother knew he was
only waiting an opportunity to demand an explanation of the engagement
announcements. Her husband, on the other hand, desired the match more
than ever, owing to the continued importunities of Senator Roberts. As
usual, Mrs. Ryder confided these little domestic troubles to Shirley.
"Jefferson," she said, "is very angry. He is determined not to
marry the girl, and when he and his father do meet there'll be
"What objection has your son to Miss Roberts?" inquired Shirley
"Oh, the usual reason," sighed the mother, "and I've no doubt he
knows best. He's in love with another girl—a Miss Rossmore."
"Oh, yes," answered Shirley simply. "Mr. Ryder spoke of her."
Mrs. Ryder was silent, and presently she left the girl alone with
The next afternoon Shirley was in her room busy writing when there
came a tap at her door. Thinking it was another visit from Mrs.
Ryder, she did not look up, but cried out pleasantly:
John Ryder entered. He smiled cordially and, as if apologizing for
the intrusion, said amiably:
"I thought I'd run up to see how you were getting along."
His coming was so unexpected that for a moment Shirley was
startled, but she quickly regained her composure and asked him to
take a seat. He seemed pleased to find her making such good progress,
and he stopped to answer a number of questions she put to him. Shirley
tried to be cordial, but when she looked well at him and noted the
keen, hawk-like eyes, the cruel, vindictive lines about the mouth, the
square-set, relentless jaw—Wall Street had gone wrong with the
Colossus that day and he was still wearing his war paint—she recalled
the wrong this man had done her father and she felt how bitterly she
hated him. The more her mind dwelt upon it, the more exasperated she
was to think she should be there, a guest, under his roof, and it was
only with the greatest difficulty that she remained civil.
"What is the moral of your life?" she demanded bluntly.
He was quick to note the contemptuous tone in her voice, and he
gave her a keen, searching look as if he were trying to read her
thoughts and fathom the reason for her very evident hostility towards
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"I mean, what can you show as your life work? Most men whose lives
are big enough to call for biographies have done something useful-
-they have been famous statesmen, eminent scientists, celebrated
authors, great inventors. What have you done?"
The question appeared to stagger him. The audacity of any one
putting such a question to a man in his own house was incredible. He
squared his jaws and his clenched fist descended heavily on the table.
"What have I done?" he cried. "I have built up the greatest
fortune ever accumulated by one man. My fabulous wealth has caused my
name to spread to the four corners of the earth. Is that not an
achievement to relate to future generations?"
Shirley gave a little shrug of her shoulders.
"Future generations will take no interest in you or your
millions," she said calmly. "Our civilization will have made such
progress by that time that people will merely wonder why we, in our
day, tolerated men of your class so long. Now it is different. The
world is money-mad. You are a person of importance in the eyes of the
unthinking multitude, but it only envies you your fortune; it does not
admire you personally. When you die people will count your millions,
not your good deeds."
He laughed cynically and drew up a chair near her desk. As a
general thing, John Ryder never wasted words on women. He had but a
poor opinion of their mentality, and considered it beneath the dignity
of any man to enter into serious argument with a woman. In fact, it
was seldom he condescended to argue with anyone. He gave orders and
talked to people; he had no patience to be talked to. Yet he found
himself listening with interest to this young woman who expressed
herself so frankly. It was a decided novelty for him to hear the
"What do I care what the world says when I'm dead?" he asked with
a forced laugh.
"You do care," replied Shirley gravely. "You may school yourself
to believe that you are indifferent to the good opinion of your
fellow man, but right down in your heart you do care—every man does,
whether he be multi-millionaire or a sneak thief."
"You class the two together, I notice," he said bitterly.
"It is often a distinction without a difference," she rejoined
He remained silent for a moment or two toying nervously with a
paper knife. Then, arrogantly, and as if anxious to impress her with
his importance, he said:
"Most men would be satisfied if they had accomplished what I have.
Do you realize that my wealth is so vast that I scarcely know myself
what I am worth? What my fortune will be in another fifty years
staggers the imagination. Yet I started with nothing. I made it all
myself. Surely I should get credit for that."
"How did you make it?" retorted Shirley.
"In America we don't ask how a man makes his money; we ask if he
has got any."
"You are mistaken," replied Shirley earnestly. "America is waking
up. The conscience of the nation is being aroused. We are coming to
realize that the scandals of the last few years were only the fruit of
public indifference to sharp business practice. The people will soon
ask the dishonest rich man where he got it, and there will have to be
an accounting. What account will you be able to give?"
He bit his lip and looked at her for a moment without replying.
Then, with a faint suspicion of a sneer, he said:
"You are a socialist—perhaps an anarchist!"
"Only the ignorant commit the blunder of confounding the two," she
retorted. "Anarchy is a disease; socialism is a science."
"Indeed!" he exclaimed mockingly, "I thought the terms were
synonymous. The world regards them both as insane."
Herself an enthusiastic convert to the new political faith that
was rising like a flood tide all over the world, the contemptuous
tone in which this plutocrat spoke of the coming reorganization of
society which was destined to destroy him and his kind spurred her on
to renewed argument.
"I imagine," she said sarcastically, "that you would hardly
approve any social reform which threatened to interfere with your own
business methods. But no matter how you disapprove of socialism on
general principles, as a leader of the capitalist class you should
understand what socialism is, and not confuse one of the most
important movements in modern world-history with the crazy theories of
irresponsible cranks. The anarchists are the natural enemies of the
entire human family, and would destroy it were their dangerous
doctrines permitted to prevail; the socialists, on the contrary, are
seeking to save mankind from the degradation, the crime and the folly
into which such men as you have driven it."
She spoke impetuously, with the inspired exaltation of a prophet
delivering a message to the people. Ryder listened, concealing his
impatience with uneasy little coughs.
"Yes," she went on, "I am a socialist and I am proud of it. The
whole world is slowly drifting toward socialism as the only remedy
for the actual intolerable conditions. It may not come in our time,
but it will come as surely as the sun will rise and set tomorrow. Has
not the flag of socialism waved recently from the White House? Has not
a President of the United States declared that the State must
eventually curb the great fortunes? What is that but socialism?"
"True," retorted Ryder grimly, "and that little speech intended
for the benefit of the gallery will cost him the nomination at the
next Presidential election. We don't want in the White House a
President who stirs up class hatred. Our rich men have a right to
what is their own; that is guaranteed them by the Constitution."
"Is it their own?" interrupted Shirley.
Ryder ignored the insinuation and proceeded:
"What of our boasted free institutions if a man is to be
restricted in what he may and may not do? If I am clever enough to
accumulate millions who can stop me?"
"The people will stop you," said Shirley calmly. "It is only a
question of time. Their patience is about exhausted. Put your ear to
the ground and listen to the distant rumbling of the tempest which,
sooner or later, will be unchained in this land, provoked by the
iniquitous practices of organized capital. The people have had enough
of the extortions of the Trusts. One day they will rise in their wrath
and seize by the throat this knavish plutocracy which, confident in
the power of its wealth to procure legal immunity and reckless of its
danger, persists in robbing the public daily. But retribution is at
hand. The growing discontent of the proletariat, the ever-increasing
strikes and labour disputes of all kinds, the clamour against the
Railroads and the Trusts, the evidence of collusion between both—all
this is the writing on the wall. The capitalistic system is doomed;
socialism will succeed it."
"What is socialism?" he demanded scornfully. "What will it give
the public that it has not got already?"
Shirley, who never neglected an opportunity to make a convert, no
matter how hardened he might be, picked up a little pamphlet printed
for propaganda purposes which she had that morning received by mail.
"Here," she said, "is one of the best and clearest definitions of
socialism I have ever read:
"Socialism is common ownership of natural resources and public
utilities, and the common operation of all industries for the general
good. Socialism is opposed to monopoly, that is, to private ownership
of land and the instruments of labor, which is indirect ownership of
men; to the wages system, by which labor is legally robbed of a large
part of the product of labor; to competition with its enormous waste
of effort and its opportunities for the spoliation of the weak by the
strong. Socialism is industrial democracy. It is the government of the
people by the people and for the people, not in the present
restricted sense, but as regards all the common interests of men.
Socialism is opposed to oligarchy and monarchy, and therefore to the
tyrannies of business cliques and money kings. Socialism is for
freedom, not only from the fear of force, but from the fear of want.
Socialism proposes real liberty, not merely the right to vote, but the
liberty to live for something more than meat and drink.
"Socialism is righteousness in the relations of men. It is based
on the fundamentals of religion, the Fatherhood of God and the
Brotherhood of men. It seeks through association and equality to
realize fraternity. Socialism will destroy the motives which make for
cheap manufacturers, poor workmanship and adulterations; it will
secure the real utility of things. Use, not exchange, will be the
object of labour. Things will be made to serve, not to sell. Socialism
will banish war, for private ownership is back of strife between men.
Socialism will purify politics, for private capitalism is the great
source of political corruption. Socialism will make for education,
invention and discovery; it will stimulate the moral development of
men. Crime will have lost most of its motive and pauperism will have
no excuse. That," said Shirley, as she concluded, "is socialism!"
Ryder shrugged his shoulders and rose to go.
"Delightful," he said ironically, "but in my judgment wholly
Utopian and impracticable. It's nothing but a gigantic pipe dream. It
won't come in this generation nor in ten generations if, indeed, it is
ever taken seriously by a majority big enough to put its theories to
the test. Socialism does not take into account two great factors that
move the world—men's passions and human ambition. If you eliminate
ambition you remove the strongest incentive to individual effort. From
your own account a socialistic world would be a dreadfully tame place
to live in— everybody depressingly good, without any of the feverish
turmoil of life as we know it. Such a world would not appeal to me at
all. I love the fray—the daily battle of gain and loss, the
excitement of making or losing millions. That is my life!"
"Yet what good is your money to you?" insisted Shirley. "You are
able to spend only an infinitesimal part of it. You cannot even give
it away, for nobody will have any of it."
"Money!" he hissed rather than spoke, "I hate money. It means
nothing to me. I have so much that I have lost all idea of its value.
I go on accumulating it for only one purpose. It buys power. I love
power—that is my passion, my ambition, to rule the world with my
gold. Do you know," he went on and leaning over the desk in a dramatic
attitude, "that if I chose I could start a panic in Wall Street
to-morrow that would shake to their foundations every financial
institution in the country? Do you know that I practically control the
Congress of the United States and that no legislative measure becomes
law unless it has my approval?"
"The public has long suspected as much," replied Shirley. "That is
why you are looked upon as a menace to the stability and honesty of
our political and commercial life."
An angry answer rose to his lips when the door opened and Mrs.
"I've been looking for you, John," she said peevishly. "Mr. Bagley
told me you were somewhere in the house. Senator Roberts is
"He's come about Jefferson and his daughter, I suppose," muttered
Ryder. "Well, I'll see him. Where is he?"
"In the library. Kate came with him. She's in my room."
They left Shirley to her writing, and when he had closed the door
the financier turned to his wife and said impatiently:
"Now, what are we going to do about Jefferson and Kate? The
senator insists on the matter of their marriage being settled one way
or another. Where is Jefferson?"
"He came in about half an hour ago. He was upstairs to see me, and
I thought he was looking for you," answered the wife.
"Well," replied Ryder determinedly, "he and I have got to
understand each other. This can't go on. It shan't."
Mrs. Ryder put her hand on his arm, and said pleadingly:
"Don't be impatient with the boy, John. Remember he is all we
have. He is so unhappy. He wants to please us, but—"
"But he insists on pleasing himself," said Ryder completing the
"I'm afraid, John, that his liking for that Miss Rossmore is more
serious than you realize—"
The financier stamped his foot and replied angrily:
"Miss Rossmore! That name seems to confront me at every turn—for
years the father, now the daughter! I'm sorry, my dear," he went on
more calmly, "that you seem inclined to listen to Jefferson. It only
encourages him in his attitude towards me. Kate would make him an
excellent wife, while what do we know about the other woman? Are you
willing to sacrifice your son's future to a mere boyish whim?"
Mrs. Ryder sighed.
"It's very hard," she said, "for a mother to know what to advise.
Miss Green says—"
"What!" exclaimed her husband, "you have consulted Miss Green on
"Yes," answered his wife, "I don't know how I came to tell her,
but I did. I seem to tell her everything. I find her such a comfort,
John. I haven't had an attack of nerves since that girl has been in
"She is certainly a superior woman," admitted Ryder. "I wish she'd
ward that Rossmore girl off. I wish she—" He stopped abruptly as if
not venturing to give expression to his thoughts, even to his wife.
Then he said: "If she were Kate Roberts she wouldn't let Jeff slip
through her fingers."
"I have often wished," went on Mrs. Ryder, "that Kate were more
like Shirley Green. I don't think we would have any difficulty with
"Kate is the daughter of Senator Roberts, and if this marriage is
broken off in any way without the senator's consent, he is in a
position to injure my interests materially. If you see Jefferson send
him to me in the library. I'll go and keep Roberts in good humour
until he comes."
He went downstairs and Mrs. Ryder proceeded to her apartments,
where she found Jefferson chatting with Kate. She at once delivered
Ryder Sr.'s message.
"Jeff, your father wants to see you in the library."
"Yes, I want to see him," answered the young man grimly, and after
a few moments more badinage with Kate he left the room.
It was not a mere coincidence that had brought Senator Roberts and
his daughter and the financier's son all together under the Ryder
roof at the same time. It was part of Jefferson's well-prepared plan
to expose the rascality of his father's secretary, and at the same
time rid himself of the embarrassing entanglement with Kate Roberts.
If the senator were confronted publicly with the fact that his
daughter, while keeping up the fiction of being engaged to Ryder Jr.,
was really preparing to run off with the Hon. Fitzroy Bagley, he would
have no alternative but to retire gracefully under fire and relinquish
all idea of a marriage alliance with the house of Ryder. The critical
moment had arrived. To-morrow, Wednesday, was the day fixed for the
elopement. The secretary's little game had gone far enough. The time
had come for action. So Jefferson had written to Senator Roberts, who
was in Washington, asking him if it would be convenient for him to
come at once to New York and meet himself and his father on a matter
of importance. The senator naturally jumped to the conclusion that
Jefferson and Ryder had reached an amicable understanding, and he
immediately hurried to New York and with his daughter came round to
When Ryder Sr. entered the library, Senator Roberts was striding
nervously up and down the room. This, he felt, was an important day.
The ambition of his life seemed on the point of being attained.
"Hello, Roberts," was Ryder's cheerful greeting. "What's brought
you from Washington at a critical time like this? The Rossmore
impeachment needs every friend we have."
"Just as if you didn't know," smiled the senator uneasily, "that I
am here by appointment to meet you and your son!"
"To meet me and my son?" echoed Ryder astonished.
The senator, perplexed and beginning to feel real alarm, showed
the financier Jefferson's letter. Ryder read it and he looked
"That's all right," he said, "if the lad asked you to meet us here
it can mean only one thing—that at last he has made up his mind to
"That's what I thought," replied the senator, breathing more
freely. "I was sorry to leave Washington at such a time, but I'm a
father, and Kate is more to me than the Rossmore impeachment.
Besides, to see her married to your son Jefferson is one of the
dearest wishes of my life."
"You can rest easy," said Ryder; "that is practically settled.
Jefferson's sending for you proves that he is now ready to meet my
wishes. He'll be here any minute. How is the Rossmore case
"Not so well as it might," growled the senator. "There's a lot of
maudlin sympathy for the judge. He's a pretty sick man by all
accounts, and the newspapers seem to be taking his part. One or two
of the Western senators are talking Corporate influence and Trust
legislation, but when it comes to a vote the matter will be settled on
"That means that Judge Rossmore will be removed?" demanded Ryder
"Yes, with five votes to spare," answered the senator.
"That's not enough," insisted Ryder. "There must be at least
twenty. Let there be no blunders, Roberts. The man is a menace to all
the big commercial interests. This thing must go through."
The door opened and Jefferson appeared. On seeing the senator
talking with his father, he hesitated on the threshold.
"Come in, Jeff," said his father pleasantly. "You expected to see
Senator Roberts, didn't you?"
"Yes, sir. How do you do, Senator?" said the young man, advancing
into the room.
"I got your letter, my boy, and here I am," said the senator
smiling affably. "I suppose we can guess what the business is, eh?"
"That he's going to marry Kate, of course," chimed in Ryder Sr.
"Jeff, my lad, I'm glad you are beginning to see my way of looking at
things. You're doing more to please me lately, and I appreciate it.
You stayed at home when I asked you to, and now you've made up your
mind regarding this marriage."
Jefferson let his father finish his speech, and then he said
"I think there must be some misapprehension as to the reason for
my summoning Senator Roberts to New York. It had nothing to do with
my marrying Miss Roberts, but to prevent her marriage with someone
"What!" exclaimed Ryder, Sr.
"Marriage with someone else?" echoed the senator. He thought he
had not heard aright, yet at the same time he had grave misgivings.
"What do you mean, sir?"
Taking from his pocket a copy of the letter he had picked up on
the staircase, Jefferson held it out to the girl's father.
"Your daughter is preparing to run away with my father's
secretary. To-morrow would have been too late. That is why I summoned
you. Read this."
The senator took the letter, and as he read his face grew ashen
and his hand trembled violently. At one blow all his ambitious
projects for his daughter had been swept away. The inconsiderate act
of a silly, thoughtless girl had spoiled the carefully laid plans of a
lifetime. The only consolation which remained was that the calamity
might have been still more serious. This timely warning had saved his
family from perhaps an even greater scandal. He passed the letter in
silence to Ryder, Sr.
The financier was a man of few words when the situation called for
prompt action. After he had read the letter through, there was an
ominous silence. Then he rang a bell. The butler appeared.
"Tell Mr. Bagley I want him."
The man bowed and disappeared.
"Who the devil is this Bagley?" demanded the senater.
"English—blue blood—no money," was Ryder's laconic answer.
"That's the only kind we seem to get over here," growled the
senator. "We furnish the money—they furnish the blood—damn his blue
blood! I don't want any in mine." Turning to Jefferson, he said:
"Jefferson, whatever the motives that actuated you, I can only thank
you for this warning. I think it would have broken my heart if my girl
had gone away with that scoundrel. Of course, under the circumstances,
I must abandon all idea of your becoming my son-in-law. I release you
from all obligations you may have felt yourself bound by."
Jefferson bowed and remained silent.
Ryder, Sr. eyed his son closely, an amused expression hovering on
his face. After all, it was not so much he who had desired this match
as Roberts, and as long as the senator was willing to withdraw, he
could make no objection. He wondered what part, if any, his son had
played in bringing about this sensational denouement to a match which
had been so distasteful to him, and it gratified his paternal vanity
to think that Jefferson after all might be smarter than he had given
him credit for.
At this juncture Mr. Bagley entered the room. He was a little
taken aback on seeing the senator, but like most men of his class,
his self-conceit made him confident of his ability to handle any
emergency which might arise, and he had no reason to suspect that
this hasty summons to the library had anything to do with his
"Did you ask for me, sir? he demanded, addressing his employer.
"Yes, Mr. Bagley," replied Ryder, fixing the secretary with a look
that filled the latter with misgivings. "What steamers leave to-
morrow for England?"
"To-morrow?" echoed Mr. Bagley.
"I said to-morrow," repeated Ryder, slightly raising his voice.
"Let me see," stammered the secretary, "there is the White Star,
the North German Lloyd, the Atlantic Transport—" "Have you any
preference?" inquired the financier.
"No, sir, none at all."
"Then you'll go on board one of the ships to-night," said Ryder.
"Your things will be packed and sent to you before the steamer sails
The Hon. Fitzroy Bagley, third son of a British peer, did not
understand even yet that he was discharged as one dismisses a
housemaid caught kissing the policeman. He could not think what Mr.
Ryder wanted him to go abroad for unless it were on some matter of
business, and it was decidedly inconvenient for him to sail at this
"But, sir," he stammered. "I'm afraid—I'm afraid——"
"Yes," rejoined Ryder promptly, "I notice that—your hand is
"I mean that I——"
"You mean that you have other engagements!" said Ryder sternly.
"Oh no—no but——"
"No engagement at eleven o'clock to-morrow morning?" insisted
"With my daughter?" chimed in the senator.
Mr. Bagley now understood. He broke out in a cold perspiration and
he paled visibly. In the hope that the full extent of his plans were
not known, he attempted to brazen it out.
"No, certainly not, under no circumstances," he said.
Ryder, Sr. rang a bell.
"Perhaps she has an engagement with you. We'll ask her." To the
butler, who entered, he said: "Tell Miss Roberts that her father
would like to see her here."
The man disappeared and the senator took a hand in cross-examining
the now thoroughly uncomfortable secretary.
"So you thought my daughter looked pale and that a little
excursion to Buffalo would be a good thing for her? Well, it won't be
a good thing for you, young man, I can assure you of that!"
The English aristocrat began to wilt. His assurance of manner
quite deserted him and he stammered painfully as he floundered about
"Not with me—oh dear, no," he said.
"You never proposed to run away with my daughter?" cried the irate
"Run away with her?" stammered Bagley.
"And marry her?" shouted the senator, shaking his fist at him.
"Oh say—this is hardly fair—three against one—really—I'm
awfully sorry, eh, what?"
The door opened and Kate Roberts bounced in. She was smiling and
full of animal spirits, but on seeing the stern face of her father
and the pitiable picture presented by her faithful Fitz she was
intelligent enough to immediately scent danger.
"Did you want to see me, father?" she inquired boldly.
"Yes, Kate," answered the senator gravely, "we have just been
having a talk with Mr. Bagley, in which you were one of the subjects
of conversation. Can you guess what it was?"
The girl looked from her father to Bagley and from him to the
Ryders. Her aristocratic lover made a movement forward as if to
exculpate himself but he caught Ryder's eye and remained where he
"Well?" she said, with a nervous laugh.
"Is it true?" asked the senator, "that you were about to marry
this man secretly?"
She cast down her eyes and answered:
"I suppose you know everything."
"Have you anything to add?" asked her father sternly.
"No," said Kate shaking her head. "It's true. We intended to run
away, didn't we Fitz?"
"Never mind about Mr. Bagley," thundered her father. "Haven't you
a word of shame for this disgrace you have brought upon me?"
"Oh papa, don't be so cross. Jefferson did not care for me. I
couldn't be an old maid. Mr. Bagley has a lovely castle in England,
and one day he'll sit in the House of Lords. He'll explain everything
"He'll explain nothing," rejoined the senator grimly. "Mr. Bagley
returns to England to-night. He won't have time to explain anything."
"Returns to England?" echoed Kate dismayed.
"Yes, and you go with me to Washington at once."
The senator turned to Ryder.
"Good-bye Ryder. The little domestic comedy is ended. I'm grateful
it didn't turn out a drama. The next time I pick out a son-in-law I
hope I'll have better luck."
He shook hands with Jefferson, and left the room followed by his
Ryder, who had gone to write something at his desk, strode over to
where Mr. Bagley was standing and handed him a cheque.
"Here, sir, this settles everything to date. Good-day."
"But I—I—" stammered the secretary helplessly.
Ryder turned his back on him and conversed with his son, while Mr.
Bagley slowly, and as if regretfully, made his exit.
It was now December and the Senate had been in session for over a
week. Jefferson had not forgotten his promise, and one day, about two
weeks after Mr. Bagley's spectacular dismissal from the Ryder
residence, he had brought Shirley the two letters. She did not ask
him how he got them, if he forced the drawer or procured the key. It
sufficed for her that the precious letters—the absolute proof of her
father's innocence—were at last in her possession. She at once sent
them off by registered mail to Stott, who immediately acknowledged
receipt and at the same time announced his departure for Washington
that night. He promised to keep her constantly informed of what he was
doing and how her father's case was going. It could, he thought, be
only a matter of a few days now before the result of the proceedings
would be known.
The approach of the crisis made Shirley exceedingly nervous, and
it was only by the exercise of the greatest self-control that she did
not betray the terrible anxiety she felt. The Ryder biography was
nearly finished and her stay in Seventy-fourth Street would soon come
to an end. She had a serious talk with Jefferson, who contrived to see
a good deal of her, entirely unsuspected by his parents, for Mr. and
Mrs. Ryder, had no reason to believe that their son had any more than
a mere bowing acquaintance with the clever young authoress. Now that
Mr. Bagley was no longer there to spy upon their actions these
clandestine interviews had been comparatively easy. Shirley brought to
bear all the arguments she could think of to convince Jefferson of the
hopelessness of their engagement. She insisted that she could never be
his wife; circumstances over which they had no control made that dream
impossible. It were better, she said, to part now rather than incur
the risk of being unhappy later. But Jefferson refused to be
convinced. He argued and pleaded and he even swore—strange,
desperate words that Shirley had never heard before and which alarmed
her not a little—and the discussion ended usually by a kiss which put
Shirley completely hors de combat.
Meantime, John Ryder had not ceased worrying about his son. The
removal of Kate Roberts as a factor in his future had not eliminated
the danger of Jefferson taking the bit between his teeth one day and
contracting a secret marriage with the daughter of his enemy, and when
he thought of the mere possibility of such a thing happening he
stormed and raved until his wife, accustomed as she was to his
choleric outbursts, was thoroughly frightened. For some time after
Bagley's departure, father and son got along together fairly amicably,
but Ryder, Sr. was quick to see that Jefferson had something on his
mind which was worrying him, and he rightly attributed it to his
infatuation for Miss Rossmore. He was convinced that his son knew
where the judge's daughter was, although his own efforts to discover
her whereabouts had been unsuccessful. Sergeant Ellison had confessed
absolute failure; Miss Rossmore, he reported, had disappeared as
completely as if the earth had swallowed her, and further search was
futile. Knowing well his son's impulsive, headstrong disposition,
Ryder, Sr. believed him quite capable of marrying the girl secretly
any time. The only thing that John Ryder did not know was that Shirley
Rossmore was not the kind of a girl to allow any man to inveigle her
into a secret marriage. The Colossus, who judged the world's morals by
his own, was not of course aware of this, and he worried night and day
thinking what he could do to prevent his son from marrying the
daughter of the man he had wronged.
The more he pondered over it, the more he regretted that there was
not some other girl with whom Jefferson could fall in love and marry.
He need not seek a rich girl—there was certainly enough money in the
Ryder family to provide for both. He wished they knew a girl, for
example, as attractive and clever as Miss Green. Ah! he thought, there
was a girl who would make a man of Jefferson— brainy, ambitious,
active! And the more he thought of it the more the idea grew on him
that Miss Green would be an ideal daughter- in-law, and at the same
time snatch his son from the clutches of the Rossmore woman.
Jefferson, during all these weeks, was growing more and more
impatient. He knew that any day now Shirley might take her departure
from their house and return to Massapequa. If the impeachment
proceedings went against her father it was more than likely that he
would lose her forever, and if, on the contrary, the judge were
acquitted, Shirley never would be willing to marry him without his
father's consent; and this, he felt, he would never obtain. He
resolved, therefore, to have a final interview with his father and
declare boldly his intention of making Miss Rossmore his wife,
regardless of the consequences.
The opportunity came one evening after dinner. Ryder, Sr. was
sitting alone in the library, reading, Mrs. Ryder had gone to the
theatre with a friend, Shirley as usual was writing in her room,
giving the final touches to her now completed "History of the Empire
Trading Company." Jefferson took the bull by the horns and boldly
accosted his redoubtable parent.
"May I have a few minutes of your time, father?"
Ryder, Sr. laid aside the paper he was reading and looked up. It
was unusual for his son to come to him on any errand, and he liked to
"Certainly, Jefferson. What is it?"
"I want to appeal to you, sir. I want you to use your influence,
before it is too late, to save Judge Rossmore. A word from you at
this time would do wonders in Washington."
The financier swung half-round in his chair, the smile of greeting
faded out of his face, and his voice was hard as he replied coldly:
"Again? I thought we had agreed not to discuss Judge Rossmore any
"I can't help it, sir," rejoined Jefferson undeterred by his
sire's hostile attitude, "that poor old man is practically on trial
for his life. He is as innocent of wrongdoing as a child unborn, and
you know it. You could save him if you would."
"Jefferson," answered Ryder, Sr., biting his lip to restrain his
impatience, "I told you before that I could not interfere even if I
would; and I won't, because that man is my enemy. Important business
interests, which you cannot possibly know anything about, demand his
dismissal from the bench."
"Surely your business interests don't demand the sacrifice of a
man's life!" retorted Jefferson. "I know modern business methods are
none too squeamish, but I should think you'd draw the line at
Ryder sprang to his feet and for a moment stood glaring at the
young man. His lips moved, but no sound came from them. Suppressed
wrath rendered him speechless. What was the world coming to when a
son could talk to his father in this manner?
"How dare you presume to judge my actions or to criticise my
methods?" he burst out, finally.
"You force me to do so," answered Jefferson hotly. "I want to tell
you that I am heartily ashamed of this whole affair and your
connection with it, and since you refuse to make reparation in the
only way possible for the wrong you and your associates have done
Judge Rosmore—that is by saving him in the Senate—I think it only
fair to warn you that I take back my word in regard to not marrying
without your consent. I want you to know that I intend to marry Miss
Rossmore as soon as she will consent to become my wife, that is," he
added with bitterness, "if I can succeed in overcoming her prejudices
against my family—"
Ryder, Sr. laughed contemptuously.
"Prejudices against a thousand million dollars?" he exclaimed
"Yes," replied Jefferson decisively, "prejudices against our
family, against you and your business practices. Money is not
everything. One day you will find that out. I tell you definitely
that I intend to make Miss Rossmore my wife."
Ryder, Sr. made no reply, and as Jefferson had expected an
explosion, this unnatural calm rather startled him. He was sorry he
had spoken so harshly. It was his father, after all.
"You've forced me to defy you, father," he added. "I'm sorry—-"
Ryder, Sr. shrugged his shoulders and resumed his seat. He lit
another cigar, and with affected carelessness he said:
"All right, Jeff, my boy, we'll let it go at that. You're sorry—
so am I. You've shown me your cards—I'll show you mine."
His composed unruffled manner vanished. He suddenly threw off the
mask and revealed the tempest that was raging within. He leaned
across the desk, his face convulsed with uncontrollable passion, a
terrifying picture of human wrath. Shaking his fist at his son he
"When I get through with Judge Rossmore at Washington, I'll start
after his daughter. This time to-morrow he'll be a disgraced man. A
week later she will be a notorious woman. Then we'll see if you'll be
so eager to marry her!"
"Father!" cried Jefferson.
"There is sure to be something in her life that won't bear
inspection," sneered Ryder. "There is in everybody's life. I'll find
out what it is. Where is she to-day? She can't be found. No one knows
where she is—not even her own mother. Something is wrong—the girl's
Jefferson started forward as if to resent these insults to the
woman he loved, but, realizing that it was his own father, he stopped
short and his hands fell powerless at his side.
"Well, is that all?" inquired Ryder, Sr. with a sneer.
"That's all," replied Jefferson, "I'm going. Good-bye."
"Good-bye," answered his father indifferently; "leave your address
with your mother."
Jefferson left the room, and Ryder, Sr., as if exhausted by the
violence of his own outburst, sank back limp in his chair. The crisis
he dreaded had come at last. His son had openly defied his authority
and was going to marry the daughter of his enemy. He must do something
to prevent it; the marriage must not take place, but what could he do?
The boy was of age and legally his own master. He could do nothing to
restrain his actions unless they put him in an insane asylum. He would
rather see his son there, he mused, than married to the Rossmore
Presently there was a timid knock at the library door. Ryder rose
from his seat and went to see who was there. To his surprise it was
"May I come in?" asked Shirley.
"Certainly, by all means. Sit down."
He drew up a chair for her, and his manner was so cordial that it
was easy to see she was a welcome visitor.
"Mr. Ryder," she began in a low, tremulous voice, "I have come to
see you on a very important matter. I've been waiting to see you all
evening—and as I shall be here only a short time longer I— want to
ask yon a great favour—perhaps the greatest you were ever asked—I
want to ask you for mercy—for mercy to—"
She stopped and glanced nervously at him, but she saw he was
paying no attention to what she was saying. He was puffing heavily at
his cigar, entirely preoccupied with his own thoughts. Her sudden
silence aroused him. He apologized:
"Oh, excuse me—I didn't quite catch what you were saying."
She said nothing, wondering what had happened to render him so
absent-minded. He read the question in her face, for, turning towards
her, he exclaimed:
"For the first time in my life I am face to face with defeat—
defeat of the most ignominious kind—incapacity—inability to
regulate my own internal affairs. I can rule a government, but I
can't manage my own family—my own son. I'm a failure. Tell me," he
added, appealing to her, "why can't I rule my own household, why can't
I govern my own child?"
"Why can't you govern yourself?" said Shirley quietly.
Ryder looked keenly at her for a moment without answering her
question; then, as if prompted by a sudden inspiration, he said:
"You can help me, but not by preaching at me. This is the first
time in my life I ever called on a living soul for help. I'm only
accustomed to deal with men. This time there's a woman in the
case—and I need your woman's wit—"
"How can I help you?" asked Shirley.
"I don't know," he answered with suppressed excitement. "As I told
you, I am up against a blank wall. I can't see my way." He gave a
nervous little laugh and went on: "God! I'm ashamed of myself—
ashamed! Did you ever read the fable of the Lion and the Mouse? Well,
I want you to gnaw with your sharp woman's teeth at the cords which
bind the son of John Burkett Ryder to this Rossmore woman. I want you
to be the mouse—to set me free of this disgraceful entanglement."
"How? asked Shirley calmly.
"Ah, that's just it—how?" he replied. "Can't you think—you're a
woman—you have youth, beauty—brains." He stopped and eyed her
closely until she reddened from the embarrassing scrutiny. Then he
blurted out: "By George! marry him yourself—force him to let go of
this other woman! Why not? Come, what do you say?"
This unexpected suggestion came upon Shirley with all the force of
a violent shock. She immediately saw the falseness of her position.
This man was asking for her hand for his son under the impression that
she was another woman. It would be dishonorable of her to keep up the
deception any longer. She passed her hand over her face to conceal her
"You—you must give me time to think," she stammered. "Suppose I
don't love your son—I should want something—something to
"Something to compensate?" echoed Ryder surprised and a little
disconcerted. "Why, the boy will inherit millions—I don't know how
"No—no, not money," rejoined Shirley; "money only compensates
those who love money. It's something else—a man's honour—a man's
life! It means nothing to you."
He gazed at her, not understanding. Full of his own project, he
had mind for nothing else. Ignoring therefore the question of
compensation, whatever she might mean by that, he continued:
"You can win him if you make up your mind to. A woman with your
resources can blind him to any other woman."
"But if—he loves Judge Rossmore's daughter?" objected Shirley.
"It's for you to make him forget her—and you can," replied the
financier confidently. "My desire is to separate him from this
Rossmore woman at any cost. You must help me. "His sternness relaxed
somewhat and his eyes rested on her kindly. "Do you know, I should be
glad to think you won't have to leave us. Mrs. Ryder has taken a fancy
to you, and I myself shall miss you when you go."
"You ask me to be your son's wife and you know nothing of my
family," said Shirley.
"I know you—that is sufficient," he replied.
"No—no you don't," returned Shirley, "nor do you know your son.
He has more constancy—more strength of character than you think—
and far more principle than you have."
"So much the greater the victory for you," he answered good
"Ah," she said reproachfully, "you do not love your son."
"I do love him," replied Ryder warmly. "It's because I love him
that I'm such a fool in this matter. Don't you see that if he marries
this girl it would separate us, and I should lose him. I don't want to
lose him. If I welcomed her to my house it would make me the
laughing-stock of all my friends and business associates. Come, will
you join forces with me?"
Shirley shook her head and was about to reply when the telephone
bell rang. Ryder took up the receiver and spoke to the butler
"Who's that? Judge Stott? Tell him I'm too busy to see anyone.
What's that? A man's life at stake? What's that to do with me? Tell
On hearing Stott's name, Shirley nearly betrayed herself. She
turned pale and half-started up from her chair. Something serious
must have happened to bring her father's legal adviser to the Ryder
residence at such an hour! She thought he was in Washington. Could it
be that the proceedings in the Senate were ended and the result known?
She could hardly conceal her anxiety, and instinctively she placed her
hand on Ryder's arm.
"No, Mr. Ryder, do see Judge Stott! You must see him. I know who
he is. Your son has told me. Judge Stott is one of Judge Rossmore's
advisers. See him. You may find out something about the girl. You may
find out where she is. If Jefferson finds out you have refused to see
her father's friend at such a critical time it will only make him
sympathize more deeply with the Rossmores, and you know sympathy is
akin to love. That's what you want to avoid, isn't it?"
Ryder still held the telephone, hesitating what to do. What she
said sounded like good sense.
"Upon my word—" he said. "You may be right and yet—"
"Am I to help you or not?" demanded Shirley. "You said you wanted
a woman's wit."
"Yes," said Ryder, "but still—"
"Then you had better see him," she said emphatically.
Ryder turned to the telephone.
"Hello, Jorkins, are you there? Show Judge Stott up here." He laid
the receiver down and turned again to Shirley. "That's one thing I
don't like about you," he said. "I allow you to decide against me and
then I agree with you." She said nothing and he went on looking at her
admiringly. "I predict that you'll bring that boy to your feet within
a month. I don't know why, but I seem to feel that he is attracted to
you already. Thank Heaven! you haven't a lot of troublesome relations.
I think you said you were almost alone in the world. Don't look so
serious," he added laughing. "Jeff is a fine fellow, and believe me an
excellent catch as the world goes."
Shirley raised her hand as if entreating him to desist.
"Oh, don't—don't—please! My position is so false! You don't know
how false it is!" she cried.
At that instant the library door was thrown open and the butler
appeared, ushering in Stott. The lawyer looked anxious, and his
dishevelled appearance indicated that he had come direct from the
train. Shirley scanned his face narrowly in the hope that she might
read there what had happened. He walked right past her, giving no sign
of recognition, and advanced direct towards Ryder, who had risen and
remained standing at his desk.
"Perhaps I had better go?" ventured Shirley, although tortured by
anxiety to hear the news from Washington.
"No," said Ryder quickly, "Judge Stott will detain me but a very
Having delivered himself of this delicate hint, he looked towards
his visitor as if inviting him to come to the point as rapidly as
"I must apologize for intruding at this unseemly hour, sir," said
Stott, "but time is precious. The Senate meets to-morrow to vote. If
anything is to be done for Judge Rossmore it must be done to- night."
"I fail to see why you address yourself to me in this matter,
sir," replied Ryder with asperity.
"As Judge Rossmore's friend and counsel," answered Stott, "I am
impelled to ask your help at this critical moment."
"The matter is in the hands of the United States Senate, sir,"
replied Ryder coldly.
"They are against him!" cried Stott; "not one senator I've spoken
to holds out any hope for him. If he is convicted it will mean his
death. Inch by inch his life is leaving him. The only thing that can
save him is the good news of the Senate's refusal to find him guilty."
Stott was talking so excitedly and loudly that neither he nor
Ryder heard the low moan that came from the corner of the room where
Shirley was standing listening.
"I can do nothing," repeated Ryder coldly, and he turned his back
and began to examine some papers lying on his desk as if to notify
the caller that the interview was ended. But Stott was not so easily
discouraged. He went on:
"As I understand it, they will vote on strictly party lines, and
the party in power is against him. He's a marked man. You have the
power to help him." Heedless of Ryder's gesture of impatience he
continued: "When I left his bedside to-night, sir, I promised to
return to him with good news; I have told him that the Senate
ridicules the charges against him. I must return to him with good
news. He is very ill to-night, sir." He halted for a moment and
glanced in Shirley's direction, and slightly raising his voice so she
might hear, he added: "If he gets worse we shall send for his
"Where is his daughter?" demanded Ryder, suddenly interested.
"She is working in her father's interests," replied Stott, and, he
added significantly, "I believe with some hope of success."
He gave Shirley a quick, questioning look. She nodded
affirmatively. Ryder, who had seen nothing of this by-play, said with
"Surely you didn't come here to-night to tell me this?"
"No, sir, I did not." He took from his pocket two letters—the two
which Shirley had sent him—and held them out for Ryder's inspection.
"These letters from Judge Rossmore to you," he said, "show you to be
acquainted with the fact that he bought those shares as an
investment—and did not receive them as a bribe."
When he caught sight of the letters and he realized what they
were, Ryder changed colour. Instinctively his eyes sought the drawer
on the left-hand side of his desk. In a voice that was unnaturally
calm, he asked:
"Why don't you produce them before the Senate?"
"It was too late," explained Stott, handing them to the financier.
"I received them only two days ago. But if you come forward and
Ryder made an effort to control himself.
"I'll do nothing of the kind. I refuse to move in the matter. That
is final. And now, sir," he added, raising his voice and pointing to
the letters, "I wish to know how comes it that you had in your
possession private correspondence addressed to me?"
"That I cannot answer," replied Stott promptly.
"From whom did you receive these letters?" demanded Ryder.
Stott was dumb, while Shirley clutched at her chair as if she
would fall. The financier repeated the question.
"I must decline to answer," replied Stott finally.
Shirley left her place and came slowly forward. Addressing Ryder,
"I wish to make a statement."
The financier gazed at her in astonishment. What could she know
about it, he wondered, and he waited with curiosity to hear what she
was going to say. But Stott instantly realized that she was about to
take the blame upon herself, regardless of the consequences to the
success of their cause. This must be prevented at all hazards, even if
another must be sacrificed, so interrupting her he said hastily to
"Judge Rossmore's life and honour are at stake and no false sense
of delicacy must cause the failure of my object to save him. These
letters were sent to me by—your son."
"From my son'" exclaimed Ryder, starting. For a moment he
staggered as if he had received a blow; he was too much overcome to
speak or act. Then recovering himself, he rang a bell, and turned to
Stott with renewed fury:
"So," he cried, "this man, this judge whose honour is at stake and
his daughter, who most likely has no honour at stake, between them
have made a thief and a liar of my son! false to his father, false to
his party; and you, sir, have the presumption to come here and ask me
to intercede for him!" To the butler, who entered, he said: "See if
Mr. Jefferson is still in the house. If he is, tell him I would like
to see him here at once."
The man disappeared, and Ryder strode angrily up and down the room
with the letters in his hand. Then, turning abruptly on Stott, he
"And now, sir, I think nothing more remains to be said. I shall
keep these letters, as they are my property."
"As you please. Good night, sir."
"Good night," replied Ryder, not looking up.
With a significant glance at Shirley, who motioned to him that she
might yet succeed where he had failed, Stott left the room. Ryder
turned to Shirley. His fierceness of manner softened down as he
addressed the girl:
"You see what they have done to my son—"
"Yes," replied Shirley, "it's the girl's fault. If Jefferson
hadn't loved her you would have helped the judge. Ah, why did they
ever meet! She has worked on his sympathy and he—he took these
letters for her sake, not to injure you. Oh, you must make some
allowance for him! One's sympathy gets aroused in spite of oneself;
even I feel sorry for—these people."
"Don't," replied Ryder grimly, "sympathy is often weakness. Ah,
there you are!" turning to Jefferson, who entered the room at that
"You sent for me, father?"
"Yes," said Ryder, Sr., holding up the letters. "Have you ever
seen these letters before?"
Jefferson took the letters and examined them, then he passed them
back to his father and said frankly:
"Yes, I took them out of your desk and sent them to Mr. Stott in
the hope they would help Judge Rossmore's case."
Ryder restrained himself from proceeding to actual violence only
with the greatest difficulty. His face grew white as death, his lips
were compressed, his hands twitched convulsively, his eyes flashed
dangerously. He took another cigar to give the impression that he had
himself well under control, but the violent trembling of his hands as
he lit it betrayed the terrific strain he was under.
"So!" he said, "you deliberately sacrificed my interests to save
this woman's father—you hear him, Miss Green? Jefferson, my boy, I
think it's time you and I had a final accounting."
Shirley made a motion as if about to withdraw. He stopped her with
"Please don't go, Miss Green. As the writer of my biography you
are sufficiently well acquainted with my family affairs to warrant
your being present at the epilogue. Besides, I want an excuse for
keeping my temper. Sit down, Miss Green."
Turning to Jefferson, he went on:
"For your mother's sake, my boy, I have overlooked your little
eccentricities of character. But now we have arrived at the parting
of the ways—you have gone too far. The one aspect of this business I
cannot overlook is your willingness to sell your own father for the
sake of a woman."
"My own father," interrupted Jefferson bitterly, "would not
hesitate to sell me if his business and political interests warranted
Shirley attempted the role of peacemaker. Appealing to the younger
man, she said:
"Please don't talk like that, Mr. Jefferson." Then she turned to
Ryder, Sr.: "I don't think your son quite understands you, Mr. Ryder,
and, if you will pardon me, I don't think you quite understand him. Do
you realize that there is a man's life at stake—that Judge Rossmore
is almost at the point of death and that favourable news from the
Senate to-morrow is perhaps the only thing that can save him?"
"Ah, I see," sneered Ryder, Sr. "Judge Stott's story has aroused
"Yes, I—I confess my sympathy is aroused. I do feel for this
father whose life is slowly ebbing away—whose strength is being
sapped hourly by the thought of the disgrace—the injustice that is
being done him! I do feel for the wife of this suffering man!"
"Ah, its a complete picture!" cried Ryder mockingly. The dying
father, the sorrowing mother—and the daughter, what is she supposed
to be doing?"
"She is fighting for her father's life," cried Shirley, "and you,
Mr. Jefferson, should have pleaded—pleaded—not demanded. It's no
use trying to combat your father's will."
"She is quite right, father I should have implored you. I do so
now. I ask you for God's sake to help us!"
Ryder was grim and silent. He rose from his seat and paced the
room, puffing savagely at his cigar. Then he turned and said:
"His removal is a political necessity. If he goes back on the
bench every paltry justice of the peace, every petty official will
think he has a special mission to tear down the structure that hard
work and capital have erected. No, this man has been especially
conspicuous in his efforts to block the progress of amalgamated
"And so he must be sacrificed?" cried Shirley indignantly.
"He is a meddlesome man," insisted Ryder and—"
"He is innocent of the charges brought against him," urged
"Mr. Ryder is not considering that point," said Shirley bitterly.
"All he can see is that it is necessary to put this poor old man in
the public pillory, to set him up as a warning to others of his class
not to act in accordance with the principles of Truth and Justice—not
to dare to obstruct the car of Juggernaut set in motion by the money
gods of the country!"
"It's the survival of the fittest, my dear," said Ryder coldly.
"Oh!" cried Shirley, making a last appeal to the financier's heart
of stone, "use your great influence with this governing body for
good, not evil! Urge them to vote not in accordance with party policy
and personal interest, but in accordance with their consciences—in
accordance with Truth and Justice! Ah, for God's sake, Mr. Ryder!
don't permit this foul injustice to blot the name of the highest
tribunal in the Western world!"
Ryder laughed cynically.
"By Jove! Jefferson, I give you credit for having secured an
"Suppose," went on Shirley, ignoring his taunting comments,
"suppose this daughter promises that she will never—never see your
son again—that she will go away to some foreign country!"
"No!" burst in Jefferson, "why should she? If my father is not man
enough to do a simple act of justice without bartering a woman's
happiness and his son's happiness, let him find comfort in his
Shirley, completely unnerved, made a move towards the door, unable
longer to bear the strain she was under. She tottered as though she
would fall. Ryder made a quick movement towards his son and took him
by the arm. Pointing to Shirley he said in a low tone:
"You see how that girl pleads your cause for you! She loves you,
my boy!" Jefferson started. "Yes, she does," pursued Ryder, Sr.
"She's worth a thousand of the Rossmore woman. Make her your wife and
"Make her my wife!" cried Jefferson joyously. He stared at his
parent as if he thought he had suddenly been bereft of his senses.
"Make her my wife?" he repeated incredulously.
"Well, what do you say?" demanded Ryder, Sr.
The young man advanced towards Shirley, hands outstretched.
"Yes, yes, Shir—Miss Green, will you?" Seeing that Shirley made
no sign, he said: "Not now, father; I will speak to her later."
"No, no, to-night, at once!" insisted Ryder. Addressing Shirley,
he went on: "Miss Green, my son is much affected by your
disinterested appeal in his behalf. He—he—you can save him from
himself—my son wishes you—he asks you to become his wife! Is it not
"Yes, yes, my wife!" advancing again towards Shirley.
The girl shrank back in alarm.
"No, no, no, Mr. Ryder, I cannot, I cannot!" she cried.
"Why not?" demanded Ryder, Sr. appealingly. "Ah, don't—don't
Shirley, her face set and drawn and keen mental distress showing
in every line of it, faced the two men, pale and determined. The time
had come to reveal the truth. This masquerade could go on no longer.
It was not honourable either to her father or to herself. Her
self-respect demanded that she inform the financier of her true
"I cannot marry your son with these lies upon my lips!" she cried.
"I cannot go on with this deception. I told you you did not know who
I was, who my people were. My story about them, my name, everything
about me is false, every word I have uttered is a lie, a fraud, a
cheat! I would not tell you now, but you trusted me and are willing to
entrust your son's future, your family honour in my keeping, and I
can't keep back the truth from you. Mr. Ryder, I am the daughter of
the man you hate. I am the woman your son loves. I am Shirley
Ryder took his cigar from his lips and rose slowly to his feet.
"You? You?" he stammered.
"Yes—yes, I am the Rossmore woman! Listen, Mr. Ryder. Don't turn
away from me. Go to Washington on behalf of my father, and I promise
you I will never see your son again—never, never!"
"Ah, Shirley!" cried Jefferson, "you don't love me!"
"Yes, Jeff, I do; God knows I do! But if I must break my own heart
to save my father I will do it."
"Would you sacrifice my happiness and your own?"
"No happiness can be built on lies, Jeff. We must build on truth
or our whole house will crumble and fall. We have deceived your
father, but he will forgive that, won't you?" she said, appealing to
Ryder, "and you will go to Washington, you will save my father's
honour, his life, you will—?"
They stood face to face—this slim, delicate girl battling for her
father's life, arrayed against a cold-blooded, heartless,
unscrupulous man, deaf to every impulse of human sympathy or pity.
Since this woman had deceived him, fooled him, he would deal with her
as with everyone else who crossed his will. She laid her hand on his
arm, pleading with him. Brutally, savagely, he thrust her aside.
"No, no, I will not!" he thundered. "You have wormed yourself into
my confidence by means of lies and deceit. You have tricked me,
fooled me to the very limit! Oh, it is easy to see how you have
beguiled my son into the folly of loving you! And you—you have the
brazen effrontery to ask me to plead for your father? No! No! No! Let
the law take its course, and now Miss Rossmore—you will please leave
my house to-morrow morning!"
Shirley stood listening to what he had to say, her face white, her
mouth quivering. At last the crisis had come. It was a fight to the
finish between this man, the incarnation of corporate greed and
herself, representing the fundamental principles of right and justice.
She turned on him in a fury:
"Yes, I will leave your house to-night! Do you think I would
remain another hour beneath the roof of a man who is as blind to
justice, as deaf to mercy, as incapable of human sympathy as you
She raised her voice; and as she stood there denouncing the man of
money, her eyes flashing and her head thrown back, she looked like
some avenging angel defying one of the powers of Evil.
"Leave the room!" shouted Ryder, beside himself, and pointing to
"Father!" cried Jefferson, starting forward to protect the girl he
"You have tricked him as you have me!" thundered Ryder.
"It is your own vanity that has tricked you!" cried Shirley
contemptuously. "You lay traps for yourself and walk into them. You
compel everyone around you to lie to you, to cajole you, to praise
you, to deceive you! At least, you cannot accuse me of flattering you.
I have never fawned upon you as you compel your family and your
friends and your dependents to do. I have always appealed to your
better nature by telling you the truth, and in your heart you know
that I am speaking the truth now."
"Go!" he commanded.
"Yes, let us go, Shirley!" said Jefferson.
"No, Jeff, I came here alone and I'm going alone!"
"You are not. I shall go with you. I intend to make you my wife!"
Ryder laughed scornfully.
"No," cried Shirley. "Do you think I'd marry a man whose father is
as deep a discredit to the human race as your father is? No, I
wouldn't marry the son of such a merciless tyrant! He refuses to lift
his voice to save my father. I refuse to marry his son!"
She turned on Ryder with all the fury of a tiger:
"You think if you lived in the olden days you'd be a Caesar or an
Alexander. But you wouldn't! You'd be a Nero—a Nero! Sink my
self-respect to the extent of marrying into your family!" she
exclaimed contemptuously. "Never! I am going to Washington without
your aid. I am going to save my father if I have to go on my knees to
every United States Senator. I'll go to the White House; I'll tell the
President what you are! Marry your son—no, thank you! No, thank you!"
Exhausted by the vehemence of her passionate outburst, Shirley
hurried from the room, leaving Ryder speechless, staring at his son.
When Shirley reached her rooms she broke down completely, she
threw herself upon a sofa and burst into a fit of violent sobbing.
After all, she was only a woman and the ordeal through which she had
passed would have taxed the strongest powers of endurance. She had
borne up courageously while there remained the faintest chance that
she might succeed in moving the financier to pity, but now that all
hopes in that direction were shattered and she herself had been
ordered harshly from the house like any ordinary malefactor, the
reaction set in, and she gave way freely to her long pent-up anguish
and distress. Nothing now could save her father—not even this journey
to Washington which she determined to take nevertheless, for,
according to what Stott had said, the Senate was to take a vote that
She looked at the time—eleven o'clock. She had told Mr. Ryder
that she would leave his house at once, but on reflection it was
impossible for a girl alone to seek a room at that hour. It would be
midnight before she could get her things packed. No, she would stay
under this hated roof until morning and then take the first train to
Washington. There was still a chance that the vote might be delayed,
in which case she might yet succeed in winning over some of the
senators. She began to gather her things together and was thus engaged
when she heard a knock at her door.
"Who's there?" she called out.
"It's I," replied a familiar voice.
Shirley went to the door and opening it found Jefferson on the
threshold. He made no attempt to enter, nor did she invite him in. He
looked tired and careworn. "Of course, you're not going to- night?" he
asked anxiously. "My father did not mean to-night."
"No, Jeff," she said wearily; "not to-night. It's a little too
late. I did not realize it. To-morrow morning, early."
He seemed reassured and held out his hand:
"Good-night, dearest—you're a brave girl. You made a splendid
"It didn't do much good," she replied in a disheartened, listless
"But it set him thinking," rejoined Jefferson. "No one ever spoke
to my father like that before. It did him good. He's still marching
up and down the library, chewing the cud—"
Noticing Shirley's tired face and her eyes, with great black
circles underneath, he stopped short.
"Now don't do any more packing to-night," he said. "Go to bed and
in the morning I'll come up and help you. Good night!"
"Good night, Jeff," she smiled.
He went downstairs, and after doing some more packing she went to
bed. But it was hours before she got to sleep, and then she dreamed
that she was in the Senate Chamber and that she saw Ryder suddenly
rise and denounce himself before the astonished senators as a perjurer
and traitor to his country, while she returned to Massapequa with the
glad news that her father was acquitted.
Meantime, a solitary figure remained in the library, pacing to and
fro like a lost soul in Purgatory. Mrs. Ryder had returned from the
play and gone to bed, serenely oblivious of the drama in real life
that had been enacted at home, the servants locked the house up for
the night and still John Burkett Ryder walked the floor of his
sanctum, and late into the small hours of the morning the watchman
going his lonely rounds, saw a light in the library and the restless
figure of his employer sharply silhouetted against the white blinds.
For the first time in his life John Ryder realized that there was
something in the world beyond Self. He had seen with his own eyes the
sacrifice a daughter will make for the father she loves, and he asked
himself what manner of a man that father could be to inspire such
devotion in his child. He probed into his own heart and conscience and
reviewed his past career. He had been phenomenally successful, but he
had not been happy. He had more money than he knew what to do with,
but the pleasures of the domestic circle, which he saw other men
enjoy, had been denied to him. Was he himself to blame? Had his
insensate craving for gold and power led him to neglect those other
things in life which contribute more truly to man's happiness? In
other words, was his life a mistake? Yes, it was true what this girl
charged, he had been merciless and unscrupulous in his dealings with
his fellow man. It was true that hardly a dollar of his vast fortune
had been honestly earned. It was true that it had been wrung from the
people by fraud and trickery. He had craved for power, yet now he had
tasted it, what a hollow joy it was, after all! The public hated and
despised him; even his so-called friends and business associates
toadied to him merely because they feared him. And this judge—this
father he had persecuted and ruined, what a better man and citizen he
was, how much more worthy of a child's love and of the esteem of the
world! What had Judge Rossmore done, after all, to deserve the
frightful punishment the amalgamated interests had caused him to
suffer? If he had blocked their game, he had done only what his oath,
his duty commanded him to do. Such a girl as Shirley Rossmore could
not have had any other kind of a father. Ah, if he had had such a
daughter he might have been a better man, if only to win his child's
respect and affection. John Ryder pondered long and deeply and the
more he ruminated the stronger the conviction grew upon him that the
girl was right and he was wrong. Suddenly, he looked at his watch. It
was one o'clock. Roberts had told him that it would be an all night
session and that a vote would probably not be taken until very late.
He unhooked the telephone and calling "central" asked for "long
distance" and connection with Washington.
It was seven o'clock when the maid entered Shirley's room with her
breakfast and she found its occupant up and dressed.
"Why you haven't been to bed, Miss!" exclaimed the girl, looking
at the bed in the inner room which seemed scarcely disturbed.
"No, Theresa I—I couldn't sleep." Hastily pouring out a cup of
tea she added. "I must catch that nine o'clock train to Washington. I
didn't finish packing until nearly three."
"Can I do anything for you, Miss?" inquired the maid. Shirley was
as popular with the servants as with the rest of the household.
"No," answered Shirley, "there are only a few, things to go in my
suit case. Will you please have a cab here in half an hour?"
The maid was about to go when she suddenly thought of something
she had forgotten. She held out an envelope which she had left lying
on the tray.
"Oh, Miss, Mr. Jorkins said to give you this and master wanted to
see you as soon as you had finished your breakfast."
Shirley tore open the envelope and took out the contents. It was a
cheque, payable to her order for $5,000 and signed "John Burkett
A deep flush covered the girl's face as she saw the money—a flush
of annoyance rather than of pleasure. This man who had insulted her,
who had wronged her father, who had driven her from his home, thought
he could throw his gold at her and insolently send her her pay as one
settles haughtily with a servant discharged for impertinence. She
would have none of his money—the work she had done she would make him
a present of. She replaced the cheque in the envelope and passed it
back to Theresa.
"Give this to Mr. Ryder and tell him I cannot see him."
"But Mr. Ryder said—" insisted the girl.
"Please deliver my message as I give it," commanded Shirley with
authority. "I cannot see Mr. Ryder."
The maid withdrew, but she had barely closed the door when it was
opened again and Mrs. Ryder rushed in, without knocking. She was all
flustered with excitement and in such a hurry that she had not even
stopped to arrange her toilet.
"My dear Miss Green," she gasped; "what's this I hear—going away
suddenly without giving me warning?"
"I wasn't engaged by the month," replied Shirley drily.
"I know, dear, I know. I was thinking of myself. I've grown so
used to you—how shall I get on without you—no one understands me
the way you do. Dear me! The whole house is upset. Mr. Ryder never
went to bed at all last night. Jefferson is going away, too—
forever, he threatens. If he hadn't come and woke me up to say
good-bye, I should never have known you intended to leave us. My
boy's going—you're going—everyone's deserting me!"
Mrs. Ryder was not accustomed to such prolonged flights of oratory
and she sank exhausted on a chair, her eyes filling with tears.
"Did they tell you who I am—the daughter of Judge Rossmore?"
It had been a shock to Mrs. Ryder that morning when Jefferson
burst into his mother's room before she was up and acquainted her
with the events of the previous evening. The news that the Miss Green
whom she had grown to love, was really the Miss Rossmore of whose
relations with Jefferson her husband stood in such dread, was far from
affecting the financier's wife as it had Ryder himself. To the
mother's simple and ingenuous mind, free from prejudice and ulterior
motive, the girl's character was more important than her name, and
certainly she could not blame her son for loving such a woman as
Shirley. Of course, it was unfortunate for Jefferson that his father
felt this bitterness towards Judge Rossmore, for she herself could
hardly have wished for a more sympathetic daughter-in-law. She had not
seen her husband since the previous evening at dinner so was in
complete ignorance as to what he thought of this new development, but
the mother sighed as she thought how happy it would make her to see
Jefferson happily married to the girl of his own choice, and in her
heart she still entertained the hope that her husband would see it
that way and thus prevent their son from leaving them as he
"That's not your fault, my dear," she replied answering Shirley's
question. "You are yourself—that's the main thing. You mustn't mind
what Mr. Ryder says? Business and worry makes him irritable at times.
If you must go, of course you must—you are the best judge of that,
but Jefferson wants to see you before you leave." She kissed Shirley
in motherly fashion, and added: "He has told me everything, dear.
Nothing would make me happier than to see you become his wife. He's
downstairs now waiting for me to tell him to come up."
"It's better that I should not see him," replied Shirley slowly
and gravely. "I can only tell him what I have already told him. My
father comes first. I have still a duty to perform."
"That's right, dear," answered Mrs. Ryder. "You're a good, noble
girl and I admire you all the more for it. I'll let Jefferson be his
own advocate. You'll see him for my sake!"
She gave Shirley another affectionate embrace and left the room
while the girl proceeded with her final preparations for departure.
Presently there was a quick, heavy step in the corridor outside and
Jefferson appeared in the doorway. He stood there waiting for her to
invite him in. She looked up and greeted him cordially, yet it was
hardly the kind of reception he looked for or that he considered he
had a right to expect. He advanced sulkily into the room.
"Mother said she had put everything right," he began. "I guess she
"Your mother does not understand, neither do you," she replied
seriously. "Nothing can be put right until my father is restored to
honour and position."
"But why should you punish me because my father fails to regard
the matter as we do?" demanded Jefferson rebelliously.
"Why should I punish myself—why should we punish those nearest
and dearest?" answered Shirley gently, "the victims of human
injustice always suffer where their loved ones are tortured. Why are
things as they are—I don't know. I know they are—that's all."
The young man strode nervously up and down the room while she
gazed listlessly out of the window, looking for the cab that was to
carry her away from this house of disappointment. He pleaded with her:
"I have tried honourably and failed—you have tried honourably and
failed. Isn't the sting of impotent failure enough to meet without
striving against a hopeless love?" He approached her and said softly:
"I love you Shirley—don't drive me to desperation. Must I be punished
because you have failed? It's unfair. The sins of the fathers should
not be visited upon the children."
"But they are—it's the law," said Shirley with resignation.
"The law?" he echoed.
"Yes, the law," insisted the girl; "man's law, not God's, the same
unjust law that punishes my father—man's law which is put into the
hands of the powerful of the earth to strike at the weak."
She sank into a chair and, covering up her face, wept bitterly.
Between her sobs she cried brokenly:
"I believed in the power of love to soften your father's heart, I
believed that with God's help I could bring him to see the truth. I
believed that Truth and Love would make him see the light, but it
hasn't. I stayed on and on, hoping against hope until the time has
gone by and it's too late to save him, too late! What can I do now? My
going to Washington is a forlorn hope, a last, miserable, forlorn hope
and in this hour, the darkest of all, you ask me to think of
myself—my love, your love, your happiness, your future, my future!
Ah, wouldn't it be sublime selfishness?"
Jefferson kneeled down beside the chair and taking her hand in
his, tried to reason with her and comfort her:
"Listen, Shirley," he said, "do not do something you will surely
regret. You are punishing me not only because I have failed but
because you have failed too. It seems to me that if you believed it
possible to accomplish so much, if you had so much faith—that you
have lost your faith rather quickly. I believed in nothing, I had no
faith and yet I have not lost hope."
She shook her head and gently withdrew her hand.
"It is useless to insist, Jefferson—until my father is cleared of
this stain our lives—yours and mine—must lie apart."
Someone coughed and, startled, they both looked up. Mr. Ryder had
entered the room unobserved and stood watching them. Shirley
immediately rose to her feet indignant, resenting this intrusion on
her privacy after she had declined to receive the financier. Yet, she
reflected quickly, how could she prevent it? He was at home, free to
come and go as he pleased, but she was not compelled to remain in the
same room with him. She picked up the few things that lay about and
with a contemptuous toss of her head, retreated into the inner
apartment, leaving father and son alone together.
"Hum," grunted Ryder, Sr. "I rather thought I should find you
here, but I didn't quite expect to find you on your knees— dragging
our pride in the mud."
"That's where our pride ought to be," retorted Jefferson savagely.
He felt in the humor to say anything, no matter what the
"So she has refused you again, eh?" said Ryder, Sr. with a grin.
"Yes," rejoined Jefferson with growing irritation, "she objects to
my family. I don't blame her."
The financier smiled grimly as he answered:
"Your family in general—me in particular, eh? I gleaned that much
when I came in." He looked towards the door of the room in which
Shirley had taken refuge and as if talking to himself he added: "A
curious girl with an inverted point of view—sees everything
different to others—I want to see her before she goes."
He walked over to the door and raised his hand as if he were about
to knock. Then he stopped as if he had changed his mind and turning
towards his son he demanded:
"Do you mean to say that she has done with you?"
"Yes," answered Jefferson bitterly.
"Does she mean it?" asked Ryder, Sr., sceptically.
"Yes—she will not listen to me while her father is still in
There was an expression of half amusement, half admiration on the
financier's face as he again turned towards the door.
"It's like her, damn it, just like her!" he muttered.
He knocked boldly at the door.
"Who's there?" cried Shirley from within.
"It is I—Mr. Ryder. I wish to speak to you."
"I must beg you to excuse me," came the answer, "I cannot see
"Why do you want to add to the girl's misery? Don't you think she
has suffered enough?"
"Do you know what she has done?" said Ryder with pretended
indignation. "She has insulted me grossly. I never was so humiliated
in my life. She has returned the cheque I sent her last night in
payment for her work on my biography. I mean to make her take that
money. It's hers, she needs it, her father's a beggar. She must take
it back. It's only flaunting her contempt for me in my face and I
won't permit it."
"I don't think her object in refusing that money was to flaunt
contempt in your face, or in any way humiliate you," answered
Jefferson. "She feels she has been sailing under false colours and
desires to make some reparation."
"And so she sends me back my money, feeling that will pacify me,
perhaps repair the injury she has done me, perhaps buy me into
entering into her plan of helping her father, but it won't. It only
increases my determination to see her and her—" Suddenly changing the
topic he asked: "When do you leave us?"
"Now—at once—that is—I—don't know," answered Jefferson
embarrassed. "The fact is my faculties are numbed—I seem to have
lost my power of thinking. Father," he exclaimed, "you see what a
wreck you have made of our lives!"
"Now, don't moralize," replied his father testily, "as if your own
selfishness in desiring to possess that girl wasn't the mainspring of
all your actions!" Waving his son out of the room he added: "Now leave
me alone with her for a few moments. Perhaps I can make her listen to
Jefferson stared at his father as if he feared he were out of his
"What do you mean? Are you—?" he ejaculated.
"Go—go leave her to me," commanded the financier. "Slam the door
when you go out and she'll think we've both gone. Then come up again
The stratagem succeeded admirably. Jefferson gave the door a
vigorous pull and John Ryder stood quiet, waiting for the girl to
emerge from sanctuary. He did not have to wait long. The door soon
opened and Shirley came out slowly. She had her hat on and was
drawing on her gloves, for through her window she had caught a
glimpse of the cab standing at the curb. She started on seeing Ryder
standing there motionless, and she would have retreated had he not
"I wish to speak to you Miss—Rossmore," he began.
"I have nothing to say," answered Shirley frigidly.
"Why did you do this?" he asked, holding out the cheque.
"Because I do not want your money," she replied with hauteur.
"It was yours—you earned it," he said.
"No, I came here hoping to influence you to help my father. The
work I did was part of the plan. It happened to fall my way. I took
it as a means to get to your heart."
"But it is yours, please take it. It will be useful."
"No," she said scornfully, "I can't tell you how low I should fall
in my own estimation if I took your money! Money," she added, with
ringing contempt, "why, that's all there is to YOU! It's your god!
Shall I make your god my god? No, thank you, Mr. Ryder!"
"Am I as bad as that?" he asked wistfully.
"You are as bad as that!" she answered decisively.
"So bad that I contaminate even good money?" He spoke lightly but
she noticed that he winced.
"Money itself is nothing," replied the girl, "it's the spirit that
gives it—the spirit that receives it, the spirit that earns it, the
spirit that spends it. Money helps to create happiness. It also
creates misery. It's an engine of destruction when not properly used,
it destroys individuals as it does nations. It has destroyed you, for
it has warped your soul!"
"Go on," he laughed bitterly, "I like to hear you!"
"No, you don't, Mr. Ryder, no you don't, for deep down in your
heart you know that I am speaking the truth. Money and the power it
gives you, has dried up the well-springs of your heart."
He affected to be highly amused at her words, but behind the mask
of callous indifference the man suffered. Her words seared him as
with a red hot iron. She went on:
"In the barbaric ages they fought for possession, but they fought
openly. The feudal barons fought for what they stole, but it was a
fair fight. They didn't strike in the dark. At least, they gave a man
a chance for his life. But when you modern barons of industry don't
like legislation you destroy it, when you don't like your judges you
remove them, when a competitor outbids you you squeeze him out of
commercial existence! You have no hearts, you are machines, and you
are cowards, for you fight unfairly."
"It is not true, it is not true," he protested.
"It is true," she insisted hotly, "a few hours ago in cold blood
you doomed my father to what is certain death because you decided it
was a political necessity. In other words he interfered with your
personal interests—your financial interests—you, with so many
millions you can't count them!" Scornfully she added: "Come out into
the light—fight in the open! At least, let him know who his enemy
"Stop—stop—not another word," he cried impatiently, "you have
diagnosed the disease. What of the remedy? Are you prepared to
reconstruct human nature?"
Confronting each other, their eyes met and he regarded her without
resentment, almost with tenderness. He felt strangely drawn towards
this woman who had defied and accused him, and made him see the world
in a new light.
"I don't deny," he admitted reluctantly, "that things seem to be
as you describe them, but it is part of the process of evolution."
"No," she protested, "it is the work of God!"
"It is evolution!" he insisted.
"Ah, that's it," she retorted, "you evolve new ideas, new schemes,
new tricks—you all worship different gods—gods of your own making!"
He was about to reply when there was a commotion at the door and
Theresa entered, followed by a man servant to carry down the trunk.
"The cab is downstairs, Miss," said the maid.
Ryder waved them away imperiously. He had something further to say
which he did not care for servants to hear. Theresa and the man
precipitately withdrew, not understanding, but obeying with alacrity
a master who never brooked delay in the execution of his orders.
Shirley, indignant, looked to him for an explanation.
"You don't need them," he exclaimed with a quiet smile in which
was a shade of embarrassment. "I—I came here to tell you that I— "
He stopped as if unable to find words, while Shirley gazed at him in
utter astonishment. "Ah," he went on finally, "you have made it very
hard for me to speak." Again he paused and then with an effort he said
slowly: "An hour ago I had Senator Roberts on the long distance
telephone, and I'm going to Washington. It's all right about your
father. The matter will be dropped. You've beaten me. I acknowledge
it. You're the first living soul who ever has beaten John Burkett
Shirley started forward with a cry of mingled joy and surprise.
Could she believe her ears? Was it possible that the dreaded Colossus
had capitulated and that she had saved her father? Had the forces of
right and justice prevailed, after all? Her face transfigured, radiant
she exclaimed breathlessly:
"What, Mr. Ryder, you mean that you are going to help my father?"
"Not for his sake—for yours," he answered frankly.
Shirley hung her head. In her moment of triumph, she was sorry for
all the hard things she had said to this man. She held out her hand
"Forgive me," she said gently, "it was for my father. I had no
faith. I thought your heart was of stone."
Impulsively Ryder drew her to him, he clasped her two hands in his
and looking down at her kindly he said, awkwardly:
"So it was—so it was! You accomplished the miracle. It's the
first time I've acted on pure sentiment. Let me tell you something.
Good sentiment is bad business and good business is bad
sentiment—that's why a rich man is generally supposed to have such a
hard time getting into the Kingdom of Heaven." He laughed and went on,
"I've given ten millions apiece to three universities. Do you think
I'm fool enough to suppose I can buy my way? But that's another
matter. I'm going to Washington on behalf of your father because
I—want you to marry my son. Yes, I want you in the family, close to
us. I want your respect, my girl. I want your love. I want to earn it.
I know I can't buy it. There's a weak spot in every man's armour and
this is mine—I always want what I can't get and I can't get your love
unless I earn it."
Shirley remained pensive. Her thoughts were out on Long Island, at
Massapequa. She was thinking of their joy when they heard the
news—her father, her mother and Stott. She was thinking of the
future, bright and glorious with promise again, now that the dark
clouds were passing away. She thought of Jefferson and a soft light
came into her eyes as she foresaw a happy wifehood shared with him.
"Why so sober," demanded Ryder, "you've gained your point, your
father is to be restored to you, you'll marry the man you love?"
"I'm so happy!" murmured Shirley. "I don't deserve it. I had no
Ryder released her and took out his watch.
"I leave in fifteen minutes for Washington," he said. "Will you
trust me to go alone?"
"I trust you gladly," she answered smiling at him. "I shall always
be grateful to you for letting me convert you."
"You won me over last night," he rejoined, "when you put up that
fight for your father. I made up my mind that a girl so loyal to her
father would be loyal to her husband. You think," he went on, "that I
do not love my son—you are mistaken. I do love him and I want him to
be happy. I am capable of more affection than people think. It is Wall
Street," he added bitterly, "that has crushed all sentiment out of
Shirley laughed nervously, almost hysterically.
"I want to laugh and I feel like crying," she cried. "What will
Jefferson say—how happy he will be!"
"How are you going to tell him?" inquired Ryder uneasily.
"I shall tell him that his dear, good father has relented and—"
"No, my dear," he interrupted, "you will say nothing of the sort.
I draw the line at the dear, good father act. I don't want him to
think that it comes from me at all."
"But," said Shirley puzzled, "I shall have to tell him that you—"
"What?" exclaimed Ryder, "acknowledge to my son that I was in the
wrong, that I've seen the error of my ways and wish to repent? Excuse
me," he added grimly, "it's got to come from him. He must see the
error of HIS ways."
"But the error of his way," laughed the girl, "was falling in love
with me. I can never prove to him that that was wrong!"
The financier refused to be convinced. He shook his head and said
"Well, he must be put in the wrong somehow or other! Why, my dear
child," he went on, "that boy has been waiting all his life for an
opportunity to say to me: 'Father, I knew I was in the right, and I
knew you were wrong.' Can't you see," he asked, "what a false position
it places me in? Just picture his triumph!"
"He'll be too happy to triumph," objected Shirley.
Feeling a little ashamed of his attitude, he said:
"I suppose you think I'm very obstinate." Then, as she made no
reply, he added: "I wish I didn't care what you thought."
Shirley looked at him gravely for a moment and then she replied
"Mr. Ryder, you're a great man—you're a genius—your life is full
of action, energy, achievement. But it appears to be only the good,
the noble and the true that you are ashamed of. When your money
triumphs over principle, when your political power defeats the ends of
justice, you glory in your victory. But when you do a kindly,
generous, fatherly act, when you win a grand and noble victory over
yourself, you are ashamed of it. It was a kind, generous impulse that
has prompted you to save my father and take your son and myself to
your heart. Why are you ashamed to let him see it? Are you afraid he
will love you? Are you afraid I shall love you? Open your heart wide
to us—let us love you."
Ryder, completely vanquished, opened his arms and Shirley sprang
forward and embraced him as she would have embraced her own father. A
solitary tear coursed down the financier's cheek. In thirty years he
had not felt, or been touched by, the emotion of human affection.
The door suddenly opened and Jefferson entered. He started on
seeing Shirley in his father's arms.
"Jeff, my boy," said the financier, releasing Shirley and putting
her hand in his son's, "I've done something you couldn't do—I've
convinced Miss Green—I mean Miss Rossmore—that we are not so bad
Jefferson, beaming, grasped his father's hand.
"Father!" he exclaimed.
"That's what I say—father!" echoed Shirley.
They both embraced the financier until, overcome with emotion,
Ryder, Sr., struggled to free himself and made his escape from the
"Good-bye, children—I'm off for Washington!"