But then to offset that there was something Willy Cameron had said one day, frying doughnuts for her with one hand, and waving the fork about with the other.
"Don't forget this, oh representative of the plutocracy," he had said. "Capital has its side, and a darned good one, too. It's got a sense of responsibility to the country, which labor may have individually but hasn't got collectively."
These men at the table were grave, burdened with responsibility. Her father. Even her grandfather. It was no longer a question of profit. It was a question of keeping the country going. They were like men forced to travel, and breasting a strong head wind. There were some there who would turn, in time, and travel with the gale. But there were others like her grandfather, obstinate and secretly frightened, who would refuse. Who would, to change the figure, sit like misers over their treasure, an eye on the window of life for thieves.
She went upstairs, perplexed and thoughtful. Some time later she heard the family ascending, the click of her mother's high heels on the polished wood of the staircase, her father's sturdy tread, and a moment or two later her grandfather's slow, rather weary step. Suddenly she felt sorry for him, for his age, for his false gods of power and pride, for the disappointment she was to him. She flung open her door impulsively and confronted him.
"I just wanted to say good-night, grandfather," she said breathlessly. "And that I am sorry."
"Sorry for what?"
"Sorry—" she hesitated. "Because we see things so differently."
Lily was almost certain that she caught a flash of tenderness in his eyes, and certainly his voice had softened.
"You looked very pretty to-night," he said. But he passed on, and she had again the sense of rebuff with which he met all her small overtures at that time. However, he turned at the foot of the upper flight.
"I would like to talk to you, Lily. Will you come upstairs?"
She had been summoned before to those mysterious upper rooms of his, where entrance was always by request, and generally such requests presaged trouble. But she followed him light-heartedly enough then. His rare compliment had pleased and touched her.
The lamp beside his high-backed, almost throne-like chair was lighted, and in the dressing-room beyond his valet was moving about, preparing for the night. Anthony dismissed the man, and sat down under the lamp.
"You heard the discussion downstairs, to-night, Lily. Personally I anticipate no trouble, but if there is any it may be directed at this house." He smiled grimly. "I cannot rely on my personal popularity to protect me, I fear. Your mother obstinately refuses to leave your father, but I have decided to send you to your grand-aunt Caroline."
"Aunt Caroline! She doesn't care for me, grandfather. She never has."
"That is hardly pertinent, is it? The situation is this: She intends to open the Newport house early in June, and at my request she will bring you out there. Next fall we will do something here; I haven't decided just what."
There was a sudden wild surge of revolt in Lily. She hated Newport. Grand-aunt Caroline was a terrible person. She was like Anthony, domineering and cruel, and with even less control over her tongue.
"I need not point out the advantages of the plan," said Anthony suavely. "There may be trouble here, although I doubt it. But in any event you will have to come out, and this seems an excellent way."
"Is it a good thing to spend a lot of money now, grandfather, when there is so much discontent?"
Old Anthony had a small jagged vein down the center of his forehead, and in anger or his rare excitements it stood out like a scar. Lily saw it now, but his voice was quiet enough.
"I consider it vitally important to the country to continue its social life as before the war."
"You mean, to show we are not frightened?"
"Frightened! Good God, nobody's frightened. It will take more than a handful of demagogues to upset this government. Which brings me to a subject you insist on reopening, by your conduct. I have reason to believe that you are still going to that man's house."
He never called Doyle by name if he could avoid it.
"I have been there several times."
"After you were forbidden?"
His tone roused every particle of antagonism in her. She flushed.
"Perhaps because I was forbidden," she said, slowly. "Hasn't it occurred to you that I may consider your attitude very unjust?"
If she looked for an outburst from him it did not come. He stood for a moment, deep in thought.
"You understand that this Doyle once tried to assassinate me?"
"I know that he tried to beat you, grandfather. I am sorry, but that was long ago. And there was a reason for it, wasn't there?"
"I see," he said, slowly. "What you are conveying to me, not too delicately, is that you have definitely allied yourself with my enemies. That, here in my own house, you intend to defy me. That, regardless of my wishes or commands, while eating my food, you purpose to traffic with a man who has sworn to get me, sooner or later. Am I correct?"
"I have only said that I see no reason why I should not visit Aunt Elinor."
"And that you intend to. Do I understand also that you refuse to go to Newport?"
"I daresay I shall have to go, if you send me. I don't want to go."
"Very well. I am glad we have had this little talk. It makes my own course quite plain. Good-night."
He opened the door for her and she went out and down the stairs. She felt very calm, and as though something irrevocable had happened. With her anger at her grandfather there was mixed a sort of pity for him, because she knew that nothing he could do would change the fundamental situation. Even if he locked her up, and that was possible, he would know that he had not really changed things, or her. She felt surprisingly strong. All these years that she had feared him, and yet when it came to a direct issue, he was helpless! What had he but his wicked tongue, and what did that matter to deaf ears?
She found her maid gone, and Mademoiselle waiting to help her undress. Mademoiselle often did that. It made her feel still essential in Lily's life.
"A long seance!" she said. "Your mother told me to-night. It is Newport?"
"He wants me to go. Unhook me, Mademoiselle, and then run off and go to bed. You ought not to wait up like this."
"Newport!" said Mademoiselle, deftly slipping off the white and silver that was Lily's gown. "It will be wonderful, dear. And you will be a great success. You are very beautiful."
"I am not going to Newport, Mademoiselle."
Mademoiselle broke into rapid expostulation, in French. Every girl wanted to make her debut at Newport. Here it was all industry, money, dirt. Men who slaved in offices daily. At Newport was gathered the real leisure class of America, those who knew how to play, who lived. But Lily, taking off her birthday pearls before the mirror of her dressing table, only shook her head.
"I'm not going," she said. "I might as well tell you, for you'll hear about it later. I have quarreled with him, very badly. I think he intends to lock me up."
"C'est impossible!" cried Mademoiselle.
But a glance at Lily's set face in the mirror told her it was true.
She went away very soon, sadly troubled. There were bad times coming. The old peaceful quiet days were gone, for age and obstinacy had met youth and the arrogance of youth, and it was to be battle.
But there was a truce for a time. Lily came and went without interference, and without comment. Nothing more was said about Newport. She motored on bright days to the country club, lunched and played golf or tennis, rode along the country lanes with Pink Denslow, accepted such invitations as came her way cheerfully enough but without enthusiasm, and was very gentle to her mother. But Mademoiselle found her tense and restless, as though she were waiting.
And there were times when she disappeared for an hour or two in the afternoons, proffering no excuses, and came back flushed, and perhaps a little frightened. On the evenings that followed those small excursions she was particularly gentle to her mother. Mademoiselle watched and waited for the blow she feared was about to fall. She felt sure that the girl was seeing Louis Akers, and that she would ultimately marry him. In her despair she fell back on Willy Cameron and persuaded Grace to invite him to dinner. It was meant to be a surprise for Lily, but she had telephoned at seven o'clock that she was dining at the Doyles'.
It was that evening that Willy Cameron learned that Mr. Hendricks had been right about Lily. He and Grace dined alone, for Howard was away at a political conference, and Anthony had dined at his club. And in the morning room after dinner Grace found herself giving him her confidence.
"I have no right to burden you with our troubles, Mr. Cameron," Grace said, "but she is so fond of you, and she has great respect for your judgment. If you could only talk to her about the anxiety she is causing. These Doyles, or rather Mr. Doyle—the wife is Mr. Cardew's sister—are putting all sorts of ideas into her head. And she has met a man there, a Mr. Akers, and—I'm afraid she thinks she is in love with him, Mr. Cameron."
He met her eyes gravely.
"Have you tried not forbidding her to go to the Doyles?"
"I have forbidden her nothing. It is her grandfather."
"Then it seems to be Mr. Cardew who needs to be talked to, doesn't it?" he said. "I wouldn't worry too much, Mrs. Cardew. And don't hold too tight a rein."
He was very down-hearted when he left. Grace's last words placed a heavy burden on him.
"I simply feel," she said, "that you can do more with her than we can, and that if something isn't done she will ruin her life. She is too fine and wonderful to have her do that."
To picture Lily as willfully going her own gait at that period would be most unfair. She was suffering cruelly; the impulse that led her to meet Louis Akers against her family's wishes was irresistible, but there was a new angle to her visits to the Doyle house. She was going there now, not so much because she wished to go, as because she began to feel that her Aunt Elinor needed her.
There was something mysterious about her Aunt Elinor, mysterious and very sad. Even her smile had pathos in it, and she was smiling less and less. She sat in those bright little gatherings, in them but not of them, unbrilliant and very quiet. Sometimes she gave Lily the sense that like Lily herself she was waiting. Waiting for what?
Lily had a queer feeling too, once or twice, that Elinor was afraid. But again, afraid of what? Sometimes she wondered if Elinor Doyle was afraid of her husband; certainly there were times, when they were alone, when he dropped his unctuous mask and held Elinor up to smiling contempt.
"You can see what a clever wife I have," he said once. "Sometimes I wonder, Elinor, how you have lived with me so long and absorbed so little of what really counts."
"Perhaps the difficulty," Elinor had said quietly, "is because we differ as to what really counts."
Lily brought Elinor something she needed, of youth and irresponsible chatter, and in the end the girl found the older woman depending on her. To cut her off from that small solace was unthinkable. And then too she formed Elinor's sole link with her former world, a world of dinners and receptions, of clothes and horses and men who habitually dressed for dinner, of the wealth and panoply of life. A world in which her interest strangely persisted.
"What did you wear at the country club dance last night?" she would ask.
"A rose-colored chiffon over yellow. It gives the oddest effect, like an Ophelia rose."
"At the Mainwarings? George or Albert?"
"Did they ever have any children?"
One day she told her about not going to Newport, and was surprised to see Elinor troubled.
"Why won't you go? It is a wonderful house."
"I don't care to go away, Aunt Nellie." She called her that sometimes.
Elinor had knitted silently for a little. Then:
"Do you mind if I say something to you?"
"Say anything you like, of course."
"I just—Lily, don't see too much of Louis Akers. Don't let him carry you off your feet. He is good-looking, but if you marry him, you will be terribly unhappy."
"That isn't enough to say, Aunt Nellie," she said gravely. "You must have a reason."
"I don't like him. He is a man of very impure life."
"That's because he has never known any good women." Lily rose valiantly to his defense, but the words hurt her. "Suppose a good woman came into his life? Couldn't she change him?"
"I don't know," Elinor said helplessly. "But there is something else. It will cut you off from your family."
"You did that. You couldn't stand it, either. You know what it's like."
"There must be some other way. That is no reason for marriage."
"But—suppose I care for him?" Lily said, shyly.
"You wouldn't live with him a year. There are different ways of caring, Lily. There is such a thing as being carried away by a man's violent devotion, but it isn't the violent love that lasts."
Lily considered that carefully, and she felt that there was some truth in it. When Louis Akers came to take her home that night he found her unresponsive and thoughtful.
"Mrs. Doyle's been talking to you," he said at last. "She hates me, you know."
"Why should she hate you?"
"Because, with all her vicissitudes, she's still a snob," he said roughly. "My family was nothing, so I'm nothing."
"She wants me to be happy, Louis."
"And she thinks you won't be with me."
"I am not at all sure that I would be." She made an effort then to throw off the strange bond that held her to him. "I should like to have three months, Louis, to get a—well, a sort of perspective. I can't think clearly when you're around, and—"
"And I'm always around? Thanks." But she had alarmed him. "You're hurting me awfully, little girl," he said, in a different tone. "I can't live without seeing you, and you know it. You're all I have in life. You have everything, wealth, friends, position. You could play for three months and never miss me. But you are all I have."
In the end she capitulated
Jim Doyle was very content those days. There had been a time when Jim Doyle was the honest advocate of labor, a flaming partizan of those who worked with their hands. But he had traveled a long road since then, from dreamer to conspirator. Once he had planned to build up; now he plotted to tear down.
His weekly paper had enormous power. To the workers he had begun to preach class consciousness, and the doctrine of being true to their class. From class consciousness to class hatred was but a step. Ostensibly he stood for a vast equality, world wide and beneficent; actually he preached an inflammable doctrine of an earth where the last shall be first. He advocated the overthrow of all centralized government, and considered the wages system robbery. Under it workers were slaves, and employers of workers slave-masters. It was with such phrases that he had for months been consistently inflaming the inflammable foreign element in and around the city, and not the foreign element only. A certain percentage of American-born workmen fell before the hammer-like blows of his words, repeated and driven home each week.
He had no scruples, and preached none. He preached only revolt, and in that revolt defiance of all existing laws. He had no religion; Christ to him was a pitiful weakling, a historic victim of the same system that still crucified those who fought the established order. In his new world there would be no churches and no laws. He advocated bloodshed, arson, sabotage of all sorts, as a means to an end.
Fanatic he was, but practical fanatic, and the more dangerous for that. He had viewed the failure of the plan to capture a city in the northwest in February with irritation, but without discouragement. They had acted prematurely there and without sufficient secrecy. That was all. The plan in itself was right. And he had watched the scant reports of the uprising in the newspapers with amusement and scorn. The very steps taken to suppress the facts showed the uneasiness of the authorities and left the nation with a feeling of false security.
The people were always like that. Twice in a hundred years France had experienced the commune. Each time she had been warned, and each time she had waited too long. Ever so often in the life of every nation came these periodic outbursts of discontent, economic in their origin, and ran their course like diseases, contagious, violent and deadly.
The commune always followed long and costly wars. The people would dance, but they revolted at paying the piper.
The plan in Seattle had been well enough conceived; the city light plant was to have been taken over during the early evening of February 6, and at ten o'clock that night the city was to have gone dark. But the reign of terrorization that was to follow had revolted Jim Osborne, one of their leaders, and from his hotel bedroom he had notified the authorities. Word had gone out to "get" Osborne.
If it had not been for Osborne, and the conservative element behind him, a flame would have been kindled at Seattle that would have burnt across the nation.
Doyle watched Gompers cynically.. He considered his advocacy of patriotic cooperation between labor and the Government during the war the skillful attitude of an opportunist. Gompers could do better with public opinion behind him than without it. He was an opportunist, riding the wave which would carry him farthest. Playing both ends against the middle, and the middle, himself. He saw Gompers, watching the release of tension that followed the armistice and seeing the great child he had fathered, grown now and conscious of its power,—watching it, fully aware that it had become stronger than he.
Gompers, according to Doyle, had ceased to be a leader and become a follower, into strange and difficult paths.
The war had made labor's day. No public move was made without consulting organized labor, and a certain element in it had grown drunk with power. To this element Doyle appealed. It was Doyle who wrote the carefully prepared incendiary speeches, which were learned verbatim by his agents for delivery. For Doyle knew one thing, and knew it well. Labor, thinking along new lines, must think along the same lines. Be taught the same doctrines. Be pushed in one direction.
There were, then, two Doyles, one the poseur, flaunting his outrageous doctrines with a sardonic grin, gathering about him a small circle of the intelligentsia, and too openly heterodox to be dangerous. And the other, secretly plotting against the city, wary, cautious, practical and deadly, waiting to overthrow the established order and substitute for it chaos. It was only incidental to him that old Anthony should go with the rest.
But he found a saturnine pleasure in being old Anthony's Nemesis. He meant to be that. He steadily widened the breach between Lily and her family, and he watched the progress of her affair with Louis Akers with relish. He had not sought this particular form of revenge, but Fate had thrust it into his hands, and he meant to be worthy of the opportunity.
He was in no hurry. He had extraordinary patience, and he rather liked sitting back and watching the slow development of his plans. It was like chess; it was deliberate and inevitable. One made a move, and then sat back waiting and watching while the other side countered it, or fell, with slow agonizing, into the trap.
A few days after Lily had had her talk with Elinor, Doyle found a way to widen the gulf between Lily and her grandfather. Elinor seldom left the house, and Lily had done some shopping for her. The two women were in Elinor's bedroom, opening small parcels, when he knocked and came in.
"I don't like to disturb the serenity of this happy family group," he said, "but I am inclined to think that a certain gentleman, standing not far from a certain young lady's taxicab, belongs to a certain department of our great city government. And from his unflattering lack of interest in me, that he—"
Elinor half rose, terrified.
"Not the police, Jim?"
"Sit down," he said, in a tone Lily had never heard him use before. And to Lily, more gently: "I am not altogether surprised. As a matter of fact, I have known it for some time. Your esteemed grandfather seems to take a deep interest in your movements these days."
"Do you mean that I am being followed?"
"I'm afraid so. You see, you are a very important person, and if you will venture in the slums which surround the Cardew Mills, you should be protected. At any time, for instance, Aunt Elinor and I may despoil you of those pearls you wear so casually, and—"
"Don't talk like that, Jim," Elinor protested. She was very pale. "Are you sure he is watching Lily?"
He gave her an ugly look.
"Who else?" he inquired suavely.
Lily sat still, frozen with anger. So this was her grandfather's method of dealing with her. He could not lock her up, but he would know, day by day, and hour by hour, what she was doing. She could see him reading carefully his wicked little notes on her day. Perhaps he was watching her mail, too. Then when he had secured a hateful total he would go to her father, and together they would send her away somewhere. Away from Louis Akers. If he was watching her mail too he would know that Louis was in love with her. They would rake up all the things that belonged in the past he was done with, and recite them to her. As though they mattered now!
She went to the window and looked out. Yes, she had seen the detective before. He must have been hanging around for days, his face unconsciously impressing itself upon her. When she turned:
"Louis is coming to dinner, isn't he?"
"If you don't mind, Aunt Nellie, I think I'll dine out with him somewhere. I want to talk to him alone."
"But the detective—"
"If my grandfather uses low and detestable means to spy on me, Aunt Nellie, he deserves what he gets, doesn't he?"
When Louis Akers came at half-past six, he found that she had been crying, but she greeted him calmly enough, with her head held high. Elinor, watching her, thought she was very like old Anthony himself just then.
Willy Cameron came home from a night class in metallurgy the evening after the day Lily had made her declaration of independence, and let himself in with his night key. There was a light in the little parlor, and Mrs. Boyd's fragile silhouette against the window shade.
He was not surprised at that. She had developed a maternal affection for him stronger than any she showed for either Edith or Dan. She revealed it in rather touching ways, too, keeping accounts when he accused her of gross extravagance, for she spent Dan's swollen wages wastefully; making him coffee late at night, and forcing him to drink it, although it kept him awake for hours; and never going to bed until he was safely closeted in his room at the top of the stairs.
He came in as early as possible, therefore, for he had had Doctor Smalley in to see her, and the result had been unsatisfactory.
"Heart's bad," said the doctor, when they had retired to Willy's room. "Leaks like a sieve. And there may be an aneurism. Looks like it, anyhow."
"What is there to do?" Willy asked, feeling helpless and extremely shocked. "We might send her somewhere."
"Nothing to do. Don't send her away; she'd die of loneliness. Keep her quiet and keep her happy. Don't let her worry. She only has a short time, I should say, and you can't lengthen it. It could be shortened, of course, if she had a shock, or anything like that."
"Shall I tell the family?"
"What's the use?" asked Doctor Smalley, philosophically. "If they fuss over her she'll suspect something."
As he went down the stairs he looked about him. The hall was fresh with new paper and white paint, and in the yard at the rear, visible through an open door, the border of annuals was putting out its first blossoms.
"Nice little place you've got here," he observed. "I think I see the fine hand of Miss Edith, eh?"
"Yes," said Willy Cameron, gravely.
He had made renewed efforts to get a servant after that, but the invalid herself balked him. When he found an applicant Mrs. Boyd would sit, very much the grande dame, and question her, although she always ended by sending her away.
"She looked like the sort that would be running out at nights," she would say. Or: "She wouldn't take telling, and I know the way you like your things, Willy. I could see by looking at her that she couldn't cook at all."
She cherished the delusion that he was improving and gaining flesh under her ministrations, and there was a sort of jealousy in her care for him. She wanted to yield to no one the right to sit proudly behind one of her heavy, tasteless pies, and say:
"Now I made this for you, Willy, because I know country boys like pies. Just see if that crust isn't nice."
"You don't mean to say you made it!"
"I certainly did." And to please her he would clear his plate. He rather ran to digestive tablets those days, and Edith, surprising him with one at the kitchen sink one evening, accused him roundly of hypocrisy.
"I don't know why you stay anyhow," she said, staring into the yard where Jinx was burying a bone in the heliotrope bed. "The food's awful. I'm used to it, but you're not."
"You don't eat anything, Edith."
"I'm not hungry. Willy, I wish you'd go away. What right we got to tie you up with us, anyhow? We're a poor lot. You're not comfortable and you know it. D'you know where she is now?"
"She" in the vernacular of the house, was always Mrs. Boyd.
"She forgot to make your bed, and she's doing it now."
He ran up the stairs, and forcibly putting Mrs. Boyd in a chair, made up his own bed, awkwardly and with an eye on her chest, which rose and fell alarmingly. It was after that that he warned Edith.
"She's not strong," he said. "She needs care and—well, to be happy. That's up to the three of us. For one thing, she must not have a shock. I'm going to warn Dan against exploding paper bags; she goes white every time."
Dan was at a meeting, and Willy dried the supper dishes for Edith. She was silent and morose. Finally she said:
"She's not very strong for me, Willy. You needn't look so shocked. She loves Dan and you, but not me. I don't mind, you know. She doesn't know it, but I do."
"She is very proud of you."
"That's different. You're right, though. Pride's her middle name. It nearly killed her at first to take a roomer, because she is always thinking of what the neighbors will say. That's why she hates me sometimes."
"I wish you wouldn't talk that way."
"But it's true. That fool Hodge woman at the corner came here one day last winter and filled her up with a lot of talk about me, and she's been queer to me ever since."
"You are a very good daughter."
She eyed him furtively. If only he wouldn't always believe in her! It was almost worse than to have him know the truth. But he went along with his head in the clouds; all women were good and all men meant well. Sometimes it worked out; Dan, for instance. Dan was trying to live up to him. But it was too late for her. Forever too late.
It was Willy Cameron's night off, and they went, the three of them, to the movies that evening. To Mrs. Boyd the movies was the acme of dissipation. She would, if warned in advance, spend the entire day with her hair in curlers, and once there she feasted her starved romantic soul to repletion. But that night the building was stifling, and without any warning Edith suddenly got up and walked toward the door. There was something odd about her walk and Willy followed her, but she turned on him almost fiercely outside.
"I wish you'd let me alone," she said, and then swayed a little. But she did not faint.
"I'm going home," she said. "You stay with her. And for heaven's sake don't stare at me like that. I'm all right."
Nevertheless he had taken her home, Edith obstinately silent and sullen, and Willy anxious and perplexed. At the door she said:
"Now go back to her, and tell her I just got sick of the picture. It was the smells in that rotten place. They'd turn a pig's stomach."
"I wish you'd see a doctor."
She looked at him with suspicious eyes. "If you run Smalley in on me I'll leave home."
"Will you go to bed?"
"I'll go to bed, all right."
He had found things rather more difficult after that. Two women, both ill and refusing to acknowledge it, and the prospect of Dan's being called out by the union. Try as he would, he could not introduce any habit of thrift into the family. Dan's money came and went, and on Saturday nights there was not only nothing left, but often a deficit. Dan, skillfully worked upon outside, began to develop a grievance, also, and on his rare evenings at home or at the table he would voice his wrongs.
"It's just hand to mouth all the time," he would grumble. "A fellow working for the Cardews never gets ahead. What chance has he got, anyhow? It takes all he can get to live."
Willy Cameron began to see that the trouble was not with Dan, but with his women folks. And Dan was one of thousands. His wages went for food, too much food, food spoiled in cooking. There were men, with able women behind them, making less than Dan and saving money.
"Keep some of it out and bank it," he suggested, but Dan sneered.
"And have a store bill a mile long! You know mother as well as I do. She means well, but she's a fool with money."
He counted his hours from the time he entered the mill until he left it, but he revealed once that there were long idle periods when the heating was going on, when he and the other men of the furnace crew sat and waited, doing nothing.
"But I'm there, all right," he said. "I'm not playing golf or riding in my automobile. I'm on the job."
"Well," said Willy Cameron, "I'm on the job about eleven hours a day, and I wear out more shoe leather than trouser seats at that. But it doesn't seem to hurt me."
"It's a question of principle," said Dan doggedly. "I've got no personal kick, y'understand. Only I'm not getting anywhere, and something's got to be done about it."
So, on the evening of the day after Lily had made her declaration of independence, Willy Cameron made his way rather heavily toward the Boyd house. He was very tired. He had made one or two speeches for Hendricks already, before local ward organizations, and he was working hard at his night class in metallurgy. He had had a letter from his mother, too, and he thought he read homesickness between the lines. He was not at all sure where his duty lay, yet to quit now, to leave Mr. Hendricks and the Boyds flat, seemed impossible.
He had tried to see Lily, too, and failed. She had been very gentle over the telephone, but, attuned as he was to every inflection of her voice, he had thought there was unhappiness in it. Almost despair. But she had pleaded a week of engagements.
"I'm sorry," she had said. "I'll call you up next week some time I have a lot of things I want to talk over with you."
But he knew she was avoiding him.
And he knew that he ought to see her. Through Mr. Hendricks he had learned something more about Jim Doyle, the real Doyle and not the poseur, and he felt she should know the nature of the accusations against him. Lily mixed up with a band of traitors, Lily of the white flame of patriotism, was unthinkable. She must not go to the house on Cardew Way. A man's loyalty was like a woman's virtue; it could not be questionable. There was no middle ground.
He heard voices as he entered the house, and to his amazement found Ellen in the parlor. She was sitting very stiff on the edge of her chair, her hat slightly crooked and a suit-case and brown paper bundle at her feet.
Mrs. Boyd was busily entertaining her.
"I make it a point to hold my head high," she was saying. "I guess there was a lot of talk when I took a boarder, but—Is that you, Willy?"
"Why, Miss Ellen!" he said. "And looking as though headed for a journey!"
Ellen's face did not relax. She had been sitting there for an hour, letting Mrs. Boyd's prattle pour over her like a rain, and thinking meanwhile her own bitter thoughts.
"I am, Willy. Only I didn't wait for my money and the bank's closed, and I came to borrow ten dollars, if you have it."
That told him she was in trouble, but Mrs. Boyd, amiably hospitable and reveling in a fresh audience, showed no sign of departing.
"She says she's been living at the Cardews," she put in, rocking valiantly. "I guess most any place would seem tame after that. I do hear, Miss Hart, that Mrs. Howard Cardew only wears her clothes once and then gives them away."
She hitched the chair away from the fireplace, where it showed every indication of going up the chimney.
"I call that downright wasteful," she offered.
Willy glanced at his watch, which had been his father's, and bore the inscription: "James Duncan Cameron, 1876" inside the case.
"Eleven o'clock," he said sternly. "And me promising the doctor I'd have you in bed at ten sharp every night! Now off with you."
"—or I shall have to carry you," he threatened. It was an old joke between them, and she rose, smiling, her thin face illuminated with the sense of being looked after.
"He's that domineering," she said to Ellen, "that I can't call my soul my own."
"Good-night," Ellen said briefly.
Willy stood at the foot of the stairs and watched her going up. He knew she liked him to do that, that she would expect to find him there when she reached the top and looked down, panting slightly.
"Good-night," he called. "Both windows open. I shall go outside to see."
Then he went back to Ellen, still standing primly over her Lares and Penates.
"Now tell me about it," he said.
"I've left them. There has been a terrible fuss, and when Miss Lily left to-night, I did too."
"She left her home?"
"It's awful, Willy. I don't know all of it, but they've been having her followed, or her grandfather did. I think there's a man in it. Followed! And her a good girl! Her grandfather's been treating her like a dog for weeks. We all noticed it. And to-night there was a quarrel, with all of them at her like a pack of dogs, and her governess crying in the hall. I just went up and packed my things."
"Where did she go?"
"I don't know. I got her a taxicab, and she only took one bag. I went right off to the housekeeper and told her I wouldn't stay, and they could send my money after me."
"Did you notice the number of the taxicab?"
"I never thought of it."
He saw it all with terrible distinctness, The man was Akers, of course. Then, if she had left her home rather than give him up, she was really in love with him. He had too much common sense to believe for a moment that she had fled to Louis Akers' protection, however. That was the last thing she would do. She would have gone to a hotel, or to the Doyle house.
"She shouldn't have left home, Ellen."
"They drove her out, I tell you," Ellen cried, irritably. "At least that's what it amounted to. There are things no high-minded girl will stand. Can you lend me some money, Willy?"
He felt in his pocket, producing a handful of loose money.
"Of course you can have all I've got," he said. "But you must not go to-night, Miss Ellen. It's too late. I'll give you my room and go in with Dan Boyd."
And he prevailed over her protests, in the end. It was not until he saw her settled there, hiding her sense of strangeness under an impassive mask, that he went downstairs again and took his hat from its hook.
Lily must go back home, he knew. It was unthinkable that she should break with her family, and go to the Doyles. He had too little self-consciousness to question the propriety of his own interference, too much love for her to care whether she resented that interference. And he was filled with a vast anger at Jim Doyle. He saw in all this, somehow, Doyle's work; how it would play into Doyle's plans to have Anthony Cardew's granddaughter a member of his household. He would take her away from there if he had to carry her.
He was a long time in getting to the mill district, and a longer time still in finding Cardew Way. At an all-night pharmacy he learned which was the house, and his determined movements took on a sort of uncertainty. It was very late. Ellen had waited for him for some time. If Lily were in that sinister darkened house across the street, the family had probably retired. And for the first time, too, he began to doubt if Doyle would let him see her. Lily herself might even refuse to see him.
Nevertheless, the urgency to get her away from there, if she were there, prevailed at last, and a strip of light in an upper window, as from an imperfectly fitting blind, assured him that some one was still awake in the house.
He went across the street and opening the gate, strode up the walk. Almost immediately he was confronted by the figure of a man who had been concealed by the trunk of one of the trees. He lounged forward, huge, menacing, yet not entirely hostile.
"Who is it?" demanded the figure blocking his way.
"I want to see Mr. Doyle."
"I'll tell him that," said Willy Cameron.
"What's your name?"
"That's my business, too," said Mr. Cameron, with disarming pleasantness.
"Damn private about your business, aren't you?" jeered the sentry, still in cautious tones. "Well, you can write it down on a piece of paper and mail it to him. He's busy now."
"All I want to do," persisted Mr. William Wallace Cameron, growing slightly giddy with repressed fury, "is to ring that doorbell and ask him a question. I'm going to do it, too."
There was rather an interesting moment then, because the figure lunged at Mr. Cameron, and Mr. Cameron, stooping low and swiftly, as well as to one side, and at the same instant becoming a fighting Scot, which means a cool-eyed madman, got in one or two rather neat effects with his fists. The first took the shadow just below his breast-bone, and the left caught him at that angle of the jaw where a small cause sometimes produces a large effect. The figure sat down on the brick walk and grunted, and Mr. Cameron, judging that he had about ten seconds' leeway, felt in the dazed person's right hand pocket for the revolver he knew would be there, and secured it. The sitting figure made puffing, feeble attempts to prevent him, but there was no real struggle.
Mr. Cameron himself was feeling extremely triumphant and as strong as a lion. He was rather sorry no one had seen the affair, but that of course was sub-conscious. And he was more cheerful than he had been for some days. He had been up against so many purely intangible obstacles lately that it was a relief to find one he could use his fists on.
"Now I'll have a few words with you, my desperate friend," he said. "I've got your gun, and I am hell with a revolver, because I've never fired one, and there's a sort of homicidal beginner's luck about the thing. If you move or speak, I'll shoot it into you first and when it's empty I'll choke it down your throat and strangle you to death."
After which ferocious speech he strolled up the path, revolver in hand, and rang the doorbell. He put the weapon in his pocket then, but he kept his hand upon it. He had read somewhere that a revolver was quite useable from a pocket. There was no immediate answer to the bell, and he turned and surveyed the man under the tree, faintly distinguishable in the blackness. It had occurred to him that the number of guns a man may carry is only limited to his pockets, which are about fifteen.
There were heavy, deliberate footsteps inside, and the door was flung open. No glare of light followed it, however. There was a man there, alarmingly tall, who seemed to stare at him, and then beyond him into the yard.
"Are you Mr. Doyle?"
"My name is Cameron, Mr. Doyle. I have had a small difference with your watch-dog, but he finally let me by."
"I'm afraid I don't understand. I have no dog."
"The sentry you keep posted, then." Mr. Cameron disliked fencing.
"Ah!" said Mr. Doyle, urbanely. "You have happened on one of my good friends, I see. I have many enemies, Mr. Cameron—was that the name? And my friends sometimes like to keep an eye on me. It is rather touching."
He was smiling, Mr. Cameron knew, and his anger rose afresh.
"Very touching," said Mr. Cameron, "but if he bothers me going out you may be short one friend. Mr. Doyle, Miss Lily Cardew left her home to-night. I want to know if she is here."
"Are you sent by her family?"
"I have asked you if she is here."
Jim Doyle apparently deliberated.
"My niece is here, although just why you should interest yourself—"
"May I see her?"
"I regret to say she has retired."
"I think she would see me."
A door opened into the hall, throwing a shaft of light on the wall across and letting out the sounds of voices.
"Shut that door," said Doyle, wheeling sharply. It was closed at once. "Now," he said, turning to his visitor, "I'll tell you this. My niece is here." He emphasized the "my." "She has come to me for refuge, and I intend to give it to her. You won't see her to-night, and if you come from her people you can tell them she came here of her own free will, and that if she stays it will be because she wants to. Joe!" he called into the darkness.
"Yes," came a sullen voice, after a moment's hesitation.
"Show this gentleman out."
All at once Willy Cameron was staring at a closed door, on the inner side of which a bolt was being slipped. He felt absurd and futile, and not at all like a lion. With the revolver in his hand, he went down the steps.
"Don't bother about the gate, Joe," he said. "I like to open my own gates. And—don't try any tricks, Joe. Get back to your kennel."
Fearful mutterings followed that, but the shadow retired, and he made an undisturbed exit to the street. Once on the street-car, the entire episode became unreal and theatrical, with only the drag of Joe's revolver in his coat pocket to prove its reality.
It was after midnight when, shoes in hand, he crept up the stairs to Dan's room, and careful not to disturb him, slipped into his side of the double bed. He did not sleep at all. He lay there, facing the fact that Lily had delivered herself voluntarily into the hands of the enemy of her house, and not only of her house, an enemy of the country. That conference that night was a sinister one. Brought to book about it, Doyle might claim it as a labor meeting. Organizers planning a strike might—did indeed—hold secret conferences, but they did not post armed guards. They opened business offices, and brought in the press men, and shouted their grievances for the world to hear.
This was different. This was anarchy. And in every city it was going on, this rallying of the malcontents, the idlers, the envious and the dangerous, to the red flag. Organized labor gathered together the workmen, but men like Doyle were organizing the riff-raff of the country. They secured a small percentage of idealists and pseudo-intellectuals, and taught them a so-called internationalism which under the name of brotherhood was nothing but a raid on private property, a scheme of pillage and arson. They allied with themselves imported laborers from Europe, men with everything to gain and nothing to lose, and by magnifying real grievances and inflaming them with imaginary ones, were building out of this material the rank and file of an anarchist army.
And against it, what?
On toward morning he remembered something, and sat bolt upright in bed. Edith had once said something about knowing of a secret telephone. She had known Louis Akers very well. He might have told her what she knew, or have shown her, in some braggart moment. A certain type of man was unable to keep a secret from a woman. But that would imply—For the first time he wondered what Edith's relations with Louis Akers might have been.
The surface peace of the house on Cardew Way, the even tenor of her days there, the feeling she had of sanctuary did not offset Lily's clear knowledge that she had done a cruel and an impulsive thing. Even her grandfather, whose anger had driven her away, she remembered now as a feeble old man, fighting his losing battle in a changing world, and yet with a sort of mistaken heroism hoisting his colors to the end.
She had determined, that first night in Elinor's immaculate guest room, to go back the next day. They had been right at home, by all the tenets to which they adhered so religiously. She had broken the unwritten law not to break bread with an enemy of her house. She had done what they had expressly forbidden, done it over and over.
"On top of all this," old Anthony had said, after reading the tale of her delinquencies from some notes in his hand, "you dined last night openly at the Saint Elmo Hotel with this same Louis Akers, a man openly my enemy, and openly of impure life."
"I do not believe he is your enemy."
"He is one of the band of anarchists who have repeatedly threatened to kill me."
"Oh, Lily, Lily!" said her mother.
But it was to her father, standing grave and still, that Lily replied.
"I don't believe that, father. He is not a murderer. If you would let him come here—"
"Never in this house," said old Anthony, savagely crushing notes in his hand. "He will come here over my dead body."
"You have no right to condemn a man unheard."
"Unheard! I tell you I know all about him. The man is an anarchist, a rake, a—dog."
"Just a moment, father," Howard had put in, quietly. "Lily, do you care for this man? I mean by that, do you want to marry him?"
"He has asked me. I have not given him any answer yet. I don't want to marry a man my family will not receive. It wouldn't be fair to him."
Which speech drove old Anthony into a frenzy, and led him to a bitterness of language that turned Lily cold and obstinate. She heard him through, with her father vainly trying to break in and save the situation; then she said, coldly:
"I am sorry you feel that way about it," and turned and left the room.
She had made no plan, of course. She hated doing theatrical things. But shut in her bedroom with the doors locked, Anthony's furious words came back, his threats, his bitter sneers. She felt strangely alone, too. In all the great house she had no one to support her. Mademoiselle, her father and mother, even the servants, were tacitly aligned with the opposition. Except Ellen. She had felt lately that Ellen, in her humble way, had espoused her cause.
She had sent for Ellen.
In spite of the warmth of her greeting, Lily had felt a reserve in Aunt Elinor's welcome. It was as though she was determinedly making the best of a bad situation.
"I had to do it, Aunt Elinor," she said, when they had gone upstairs. There was a labor conference, Doyle had explained, being held below.
"I know," said Elinor. "I understand. I'll pin back the curtains so you can open your windows. The night air is so smoky here."
"I am afraid mother will grieve terribly."
"I think she will," said Elinor, with her quiet gravity. "You are all she has."
"She has father. She cares more for him than for anything in the world."
"Would you like some ice-water, dear?"
Some time later Lily roused from the light sleep of emotional exhaustion. She had thought she heard Willy Cameron's voice. But that was absurd, of course, and she lay back to toss uneasily for hours. Out of all her thinking there emerged at last her real self, so long overlaid with her infatuation. She would go home again, and make what amends she could. They were wrong about Louis Akers, but they were right, too.
Lying there, as the dawn slowly turned her windows to gray, she saw him with a new clarity. She had a swift vision of what life with him would mean. Intervals of passionate loving, of boyish dependence on her, and then—a new face. Never again was she to see him with such clearness. He was incapable of loyalty to a woman, even though he loved her. He was born to be a wanderer in love, an experimenter in passion. She even recognized in him an incurable sensuous curiosity about women, that would be quite remote from his love for her. He would see nothing wrong in his infidelities, so long as she did not know and did not suffer. And he would come back to her from them, watchful for suspicion, relieved when he did not find it, and bringing her small gifts which would be actually burnt offerings to his own soul.
She made up her mind to give him up. She would go home in the morning, make her peace with them all, and never see Louis Akers again.
She slept after that, and at ten o'clock Elinor wakened her with the word that her father was downstairs. Elinor was very pale. It had been a shock to her to see her brother in her home after all the years, and a still greater one when he had put his arm around her and kissed her.
"I am so sorry, Howard," she had said. The sight of him had set her lips trembling. He patted her shoulder.
"Poor Elinor," he said. "Poor old girl! We're a queer lot, aren't we?"
"All but you."
"An obstinate, do-and-be-damned lot," he said slowly. "I'd like to see my little girl, Nellie. We can't have another break in the family."
He held Lily in much the same way when she came down, an arm around her, his big shoulders thrown back as though he would guard her against the world. But he was very uneasy and depressed, at that. He had come on a difficult errand, and because he had no finesse he blundered badly. It was some time before she gathered the full meaning of what he was saying.
"Aunt Cornelia's!" she exclaimed.
"Or, if you and your mother want to go to Europe," he put in hastily, seeing her puzzled face, "I think I can arrange about passports."
"Does that mean he won't have me back, father?"
"Lily, dear," he said, hoarse with anxiety, "we simply have to remember that he is a very old man, and that his mind is not elastic. He is feeling very bitter now, but he will get over it."
"And I am to travel around waiting to be forgiven! I was ready to go back, but—he won't have me. Is that it?"
"Only just for the present." He threw out his hands. "I have tried everything. I suppose, in a way, I could insist, make a point of it, but there are other things to be considered. His age, for one thing, and then—the strike. If he takes an arbitrary stand against me, no concession, no argument with the men, it makes it very difficult, in many ways."
"I see. It is wicked that any one man should have such power. The city, the mills, his family—it's wicked." But she was conscious of no deep anger against Anthony now. She merely saw that between them, they, she and her grandfather, had dug a gulf that could not be passed. And in Howard's efforts she saw the temporizing that her impatient youth resented.
"I am afraid it is a final break, father," she said. "And if he shuts me out I must live my own life. But I am not going to run away to Aunt Cornelia or Europe. I shall stay here."
He had to be content with that. After all, his own sister—but he wished it were not Jim Doyle's house. Not that he regarded Lily's shift toward what he termed Bolshevism very seriously; all youth had a slant toward socialism, and outgrew it. But he went away sorely troubled, after a few words with Elinor Doyle alone.
"You don't look unhappy, Nellie."
"Things have been much better the last few years."
"Is he kind to you?"
"Not always, Howard. He doesn't drink now, so that is over. And I think there are no other women. But when things go wrong I suffer, of course." She stared past him toward the open window.
"Why don't you leave him?"
"I couldn't go home, Howard. You know what it would be. Worse than Lily. And I'm too old to start out by myself. My habits are formed, and besides, I—" She checked herself.
"I could take a house somewhere for both of you, Lily and yourself," he said eagerly; "that would be a wonderful way out for everybody."
She shook her head.
"We'll manage all right," she said. "I'll make Lily comfortable and as happy as I can."
He felt that he had to make his own case clear, or he might have noticed with what care she was choosing her words. His father's age, his unconscious dependence on Grace, his certainty to retire soon from the arbitrary stand he had taken. Elinor hardly heard him. Months afterwards he was to remember the distant look in her eyes, a sort of half-frightened determination, but he was self-engrossed just then.
"I can't persuade you?" he finished.
"No. But it is good of you to think of it."
"You know what the actual trouble was last night? It was not her coming here."
"I know, Howard."
"Don't let her marry him, Nellie! Better than any one, you ought to know what that would mean."
"I knew too, Howard, but I did it."
In the end he went away not greatly comforted, to fight his own battles, to meet committees from the union, and having met them, to find himself facing the fact that, driven by some strange urge he could not understand, the leaders wished a strike. There were times when he wondered what would happen if he should suddenly yield every point, make every concession. They would only make further demands, he felt. They seemed determined to put him out of business. If only he could have dealt with the men directly, instead of with their paid representatives, he felt that he would get somewhere. But always, interposed between himself and his workmen, was this barrier of their own erecting.
It was like representative government. It did not always represent. It, too, was founded on representation in good faith; but there was not always good faith. The union system was wrong. It was like politics. The few handled the many. The union, with its all-powerful leaders, was only another form of autocracy. It was Prussian. Yet the ideal behind the union was sound enough.
He had no quarrel with the union. He puzzled it out, traveling unaccustomed mental paths. The country was founded on liberty. All men were created free and equal. Free, yes, but equal? Was not equality a long way ahead along a thorny road? Men were not equal in the effort they made, nor did equal efforts bring equal result. If there was class antagonism behind all this unrest, would there not always be those who rose by dint of ceaseless effort? Equality of opportunity, yes. Equality of effort and result, no.
To destroy the chance of gain was to put a premium on inertia; to kill ambition; to reduce the high without raising the low.
At noon on the same day Willy Cameron went back to the house on Cardew Way, to find Lily composed and resigned, instead of the militant figure he had expected. He asked her to go home, and she told him then that she had no longer a home to go to.
"I meant to go, Willy," she finished. "I meant to go this morning. But you see how things are."
He had stood for a long time, looking at nothing very hard. "I see," he said finally. "Of course your grandfather will be sorry in a day or two, but he may not swallow his pride very soon."
That rather hurt her.
"What about my pride?" she asked.
"You can afford to be magnanimous with all your life before you." Then he faced her. "Besides, Lily, you're wrong. Dead wrong. You've hurt three people, and all you've got out of it has been your own way."
"There is such a thing as liberty."
"I don't know about that. And a good many crimes have been committed in its name." Even in his unhappiness he was controversial. "We are never really free, so long as we love people, and they love us. Well—" He picked up his old felt hat and absently turned down the brim; it was raining. "I'll have to get back. I've overstayed my lunch hour as it is."
"You haven't had any luncheon?"
"I wasn't hungry," he had said, and had gone away, his coat collar turned up against the shower. Lily had had a presentiment that he was taking himself out of her life, that he had given her up as a bad job. She felt depressed and lonely, and not quite so sure of herself as she had been; rather, although she did not put it that way, as though something fine had passed her way, like Pippa singing, and had then gone on.
She settled down as well as she could to her new life, making no plans, however, and always with the stricken feeling that she had gained her own point at the cost of much suffering. She telephoned to her mother daily, broken little conversations with long pauses while Grace steadied her voice. Once her mother hung up the receiver hastily, and Lily guessed that her grandfather had come in. She felt very bitter toward him.
But she found the small oneage interesting, in a quiet way; to make her own bed and mend her stockings—Grace had sent her a trunkful of clothing; and on the elderly maid's afternoon out, to help Elinor with the supper. She seldom went out, but Louis Akers came daily, and on the sixth day of her stay she promised to marry him.
She had not meant to do it, but it was difficult to refuse him. She had let him think she would do it ultimately, for one thing. And, however clearly she might analyze him in his absences, his strange attraction reasserted itself when he was near. But her acceptance of him was almost stoical.
"But not soon, Louis," she said, holding him off. "And—I ought to tell you—I don't think we will be happy together."
"Because—" she found it hard to put into words—"because love with you is a sort of selfish thing, I think."
"I'll lie down now and let you tramp on me," he said exultantly, and held out his arms. But even as she moved toward him she voiced her inner perplexity.
"I never seem to be able to see myself married to you."
"Then the sooner the better, so you can."
"You won't like being married, you know."
"That's all you know about it, Lily. I'm mad about you. I'm mad for you."
There was a new air of maturity about Lily those days, and sometimes a sort of aloofness that both maddened him and increased his desire to possess her. She went into his arms, but when he held her closest she sometimes seemed farthest away.
"I want you now."
"I want to be engaged a long time, Louis. We have so much to learn about each other."
He thought that rather childish. But whatever had been his motive in the beginning, he was desperately in love with her by that time, and because of that he frightened her sometimes. He was less sure of himself, too, even after she had accepted him, and to prove his continued dominance over her he would bully her.
"Come here," he would say, from the hearth rug, or by the window.
Sometimes she went, to be smothered in his hot embrace; sometimes she did not.
But her infatuation persisted, although there were times when his inordinate vitality and his caresses gave her a sense of physical weariness, times when sheer contact revolted her. He seemed always to want to touch her. Fastidiously reared, taught a sort of aloofness from childhood, Lily found herself wondering if all men in love were like that, always having to be held off.
Ellen was staying at the Boyd house. She went downstairs the morning after her arrival, and found the bread—bakery bread—toasted and growing cold on the table, while a slice of ham, ready to be cooked, was not yet on the fire, and Mrs. Boyd had run out to buy some milk.
Dan had already gone, and his half-empty cup of black coffee was on the kitchen table. Ellen sniffed it and raised her eyebrows.
She rolled up her sleeves, put the toast in the oven and the ham in the frying pan, with much the same grimness with which she had sat the night before listening to Mrs. Boyd's monologue. If this was the way they looked after Willy Cameron, no wonder he was thin and pale. She threw out the coffee, which she suspected had been made by the time-saving method of pouring water on last night's grounds, and made a fresh pot of it. After that she inspected the tea towels, and getting a tin dishpan, set them to boil in it on the top of the range.
"Enough to give him typhoid," she reflected.
Ellen disapproved of her surroundings; she disapproved of any woman who did not boil her tea towels. And when Edith came down carefully dressed and undeniably rouged she formed a disapproving opinion of that young lady, which was that she was trying to land Willy Cameron, and that he would be better dead than landed.
She met Edith's stare of surprise with one of thinly veiled hostility.
"Hello!" said Edith. "When did you blow in, and where from?"
"I came to see Mr. Cameron last night, and he made me stay."
"A friend of Willy's! Well, I guess you needn't pay for your breakfast by cooking it. Mother's probably run out for something—she never has anything in the house—and is talking somewhere. I'll take that fork."
But Ellen proceeded to turn the ham.
"I'll do it," she said. "You might spoil your hands."
But Edith showed no offense.
"All right," she acceded indifferently. "If you're going to eat it you'd better cook it. We're rotten housekeepers here."
"I should think, if you're going to keep boarders, somebody would learn to cook. Mr. Cameron's mother is the best housekeeper in town, and he was raised on good food and plenty of it."
Her tone was truculent. Ellen's world, the world of short hours and easy service, of the decorum of the Cardew servants' hall, of luxury and dignity and good pay, had suddenly gone to pieces about her. She was feeling very bitter, especially toward a certain chauffeur who had prophesied the end of all service. He had made the statement that before long all people would be equal. There would be no above and below-stairs, no servants' hall.
"They'll drive their own cars, then, damn them," he had said once, "if they can get any to drive. And answer their own bells, if they've got any to ring. And get up and cook their own breakfasts."
"Which you won't have any to cook," Grayson had said irritably, from the head of the long table. "Just a word, my man. That sort of talk is forbidden here. One word more and I go to Mr. Cardew."
The chauffeur had not sulked, however. "All right, Mr. Grayson," he said affably. "But I can go on thinking, I daresay. And some of these days you'll be wishing you'd climbed on the band wagon before it's too late."
Ellen, turning the ham carefully, was conscious that her revolt had been only partially on Lily's account. It was not so much Lily's plight as the abuse of power, although she did not put it that way, that had driven her out. Ellen then had carried out her own small revolution, and where had it put her? She had lost a good home, and what could she do? All she knew was service.
Edith poured herself a cup of coffee, and taking a piece of toast from the oven, stood nibbling it. The crumbs fell on the not over-clean floor.
"Why don't you go into the dining-room to eat?" Ellen demanded.
"Got out of the wrong side of the bed, didn't you?" Edith asked. "Willy's bed, I suppose. I'm not hungry, and I always eat breakfast like this. I wish he would hurry. We'll be late."
Ellen stared. It was her first knowledge that this girl, this painted hussy, worked in Willy's pharmacy, and her suspicions increased. She had a quick vision, as she had once had of Lily, of Edith in the Cameron house; Edith reading or embroidering on the front porch while Willy's mother slaved for her; Edith on the same porch in the evening, with all the boys in town around her. She knew the type, the sort that set an entire village by the ears and in the end left home and husband and ran away with a traveling salesman.
Ellen had already got Willy married and divorced when Mrs. Boyd came in. She carried the milk pail, but her lips were blue and she sat down in a chair and held her hand to her heart.
"I'm that short of breath!" she gasped. "I declare I could hardly get back."
"I'll give you some coffee, right off."
When Willy Cameron had finished his breakfast she followed him into the parlor. His pallor was not lost on her, or his sunken eyes. He looked badly fed, shabby, and harassed, and he bore the marks of his sleepless night on his face. "Are you going to stay here?" she demanded.
"Why, yes, Miss Ellen."
"Your mother would break her heart if she knew the way you're living."
"I'm very comfortable. We've tried to get a ser—" He changed color at that. In the simple life of the village at home a woman whose only training was the town standard of good housekeeping might go into service in the city and not lose caste. But she was never thought of as a servant. "—help," he substituted. "But we can't get any one, and Mrs. Boyd is delicate. It is heart trouble."
"Does that girl work where you do?"
"Is she engaged to you? She calls you Willy." He smiled into her eyes.
"Not a bit of it, or thinking of it."
"How do you know what she's thinking? It's all over her. It's Willy this and Willy that—and men are such fools."
There flashed into his mind certain things that he had tried to forget; Edith at his doorway, with that odd look in her eyes; Edith never going to sleep until he had gone to bed; and recently, certain things she had said, that he had passed over lightly and somewhat uncomfortably.
"That's ridiculous, Miss Ellen. But even if it were true, which it isn't, don't you think it would be rather nice of her?" He smiled.
"I do not. I heard you going out last night, Willy. Did you find her?"
"She is at the Doyles'. I didn't see her."
"That'll finish it," Ellen prophesied, somberly. She glanced around the parlor, at the dust on the furniture, at the unwashed baseboard, at the unwound clock on the mantel shelf.
"If you're going to stay here I will," she announced abruptly. "I owe that much to your mother. I've got some money. I'll take what they'd pay some foreigner who'd throw out enough to keep another family." Then, seeing hesitation in his eyes: "That woman's sick, and you've got to be looked after. I could do all the work, if that—if the girl would help in the evenings."
He demurred at first. She would find it hard. They had no luxuries, and she was accustomed to luxury. There was no room for her. But in the end he called Edith and Mrs. Boyd, and was rather touched to find Edith offering to share her upper bedroom.
"It's a hole," she said, "cold in winter and hot as blazes in summer. But there's room for a cot, and I guess we can let each other alone."
"I wish you'd let me move up there, Edith," he said for perhaps the twentieth time since he had found out where she slept, "and you would take my room."
"No chance," she said cheerfully. "Mother would raise the devil if you tried it." She glanced at Ellen's face. "If that word shocks you, you're due for a few shocks, you know."
"The way you talk is your business, not mine," said Ellen austerely.
When they finally departed on a half-run Ellen was established as a fixture in the Boyd house, and was already piling all the cooking utensils into a wash boiler and with grim efficiency was searching for lye with which to clean them.
Two weeks later, the end of June, the strike occurred. It was not, in spite of predictions, a general walk-out. Some of the mills, particularly the smaller plants, did not go down at all, and with reduced forces kept on, but the chain of Cardew Mills was closed. There was occasional rioting by the foreign element in outlying districts, but the state constabulary handled it easily.
Dan was out of work, and the loss of his pay was a serious matter in the little house. He had managed to lay by a hundred dollars, and Willy Cameron had banked it for him, but there was a real problem to be faced. On the night of the day the Cardew Mills went down Willy called a meeting of the household after supper, around the dining room table. He had been in to see Mr. Hendricks, who had been laid up with bronchitis, and Mr. Hendricks had predicted a long strike.
"The irresistible force and the immovable body, son," he said. "They'll stay set this time. And unless I miss my guess that is playing Doyle's hand for him, all right. His chance will come when the men have used up their savings and are growing bitter. Every strike plays into the hands of the enemy, son, and they know it. The moment production ceases prices go up, and soon all the money in the world won't pay them wages enough to live on."
He had a store of homely common sense, and a gift of putting things into few words. Willy Cameron, going back to the little house that evening, remembered the last thing he had said.
"The only way to solve this problem of living," he said, "is to see how much we can work, and not how little. Germany's working ten hours a day, and producing. We're talking about six, and loafing and fighting while we talk."
So Willy went home and called his meeting, and knowing Mrs. Boyd's regard for figures, set down and added or subtracted, he placed a pad and pencil on the table before him. It was an odd group: Dan sullen, resenting the strike and the causes that had led to it; Ellen, austere and competent; Mrs. Boyd with a lace fichu pinned around her neck, now that she had achieved the dignity of hired help, and Edith. Edith silent, morose and fixing now and then rather haggard eyes on Willy Cameron's unruly hair. She seldom met his eyes.
"First of all," said Willy, "we'll take our weekly assets. Of course Dan will get something temporarily, but we'll leave that out for the present."
The weekly assets turned out to be his salary and Edith's.
"Why, Willy," said Mrs. Boyd, "you can't turn all your money over to us."
"You are all the family I have just now. Why not? Anyhow, I'll have to keep out lunch money and carfare, and so will Edith. Now as to expenses."
Ellen had made a great reduction in expenses, but food was high. And there was gas and coal, and Dan's small insurance, and the rent. There was absolutely no margin, and a sort of silence fell.
"What about your tuition at night school?" Edith asked suddenly.
"Spring term ended this week."
"But you said there was a summer one."
"Well, I'll tell you about that," Willy said, feeling for words. "I'm going to be busy helping Mr. Hendricks in his campaign. Then next fall—well, I'll either go back or Hendricks will make me chief of police, or something." He smiled around the table. "I ought to get some sort of graft out of it."
"Mother!" Edith protested. "He mustn't sacrifice himself for us. What are we to him anyhow? A lot of stones hung around his neck. That's all."
It was after Willy had declared that this was his home now, and he had a right to help keep it going, and after Ellen had observed that she had some money laid by and would not take any wages during the strike, that the meeting threatened to become emotional. Mrs. Boyd shed a few tears, and as she never by any chance carried a handkerchief, let them flow over her fichu. And Dan shook Willy's hand and Ellen's, and said that if he'd had his way he'd be working, and not sitting round like a stiff letting other people work for him. But Edith got up and went out into the little back garden, and did not come back until the meeting was both actually and morally broken up. When she heard Dan go out, and Ellen and Mrs. Boyd go upstairs, chatting in a new amiability brought about by trouble and sacrifice, she put on her hat and left the house.
Ellen, rousing on her cot in Edith's upper room, heard her come in some time later, and undress and get into bed. Her old suspicion of the girl revived, and she sat upright.
"Where I come from girls don't stay out alone until all hours," she said.
"Oh, let me alone."
Ellen fell asleep, and in her sleep she dreamed that Mrs. Boyd had taken sick and was moaning. The moaning was terrible; it filled the little house. Ellen wakened suddenly. It was not moaning; it was strange, heavy breathing, strangling; and it came from Edith's bed.
"Are you sick?" she called, and getting up, her knees hardly holding her, she lighted the gas at its unshaded bracket on the wall and ran to the other bed.
Edith was lying there, her mouth open, her lips bleached and twisted. Her stertorous breathing filled the room, and over all was the odor of carbolic acid.
"Edith, for God's sake!"
The girl was only partially conscious. Ellen ran down the stairs and into Willy's room.
"Get up," she cried, shaking him. "That girl's killed herself."
"No, Edith. Carbolic acid."
Even then he remembered her mother.
"Don't let her hear anything, It will kill her," he said, and ran up the stairs. Almost immediately he was down again, searching for alcohol; he found a small quantity and poured that down the swollen throat. He roused Dan then, and sent him running madly for Doctor Smalley, with a warning to bring him past Mrs. Boyd's door quietly, and to bring an intubation set with him in case her throat should close. Then, on one of his innumerable journeys up and down the stairs he encountered Mrs. Boyd herself, in her nightgown, and terrified.
"What's the matter, Willy?" she asked. "Is it a fire?"
"Edith is sick. I don't want you to go up. It may be contagious. It's her throat."
And from that Mrs. Boyd deduced diphtheria; she sat on the stairs in her nightgown, a shaken helpless figure, asking countless questions of those that hurried past. But they reassured her, and after a time she went downstairs and made a pot of coffee. Ensconced with it in the lower hall, and milk bottle in hand, she waylaid them with it as they hurried up and down.
Upstairs the battle went on. There were times when the paralyzed muscles almost stopped lifting the chest walls, when each breath was a new miracle. Her throat was closing fast, too, and at eight o'clock came a brisk young surgeon, and with Willy Cameron's assistance, an operation was performed. After that, and for days, Edith breathed through a tube in her neck.
The fiction of diphtheria was kept up, and Mrs. Boyd, having a childlike faith in medical men, betrayed no anxiety after the first hour or two. She saw nothing incongruous in Ellen going down through the house while she herself was kept out of that upper room where Edith lay, conscious now but sullen, disfigured, silent. She was happy, too, to have her old domain hers again, while Ellen nursed; to make again her flavorless desserts, her mounds of rubberlike gelatine, her pies. She brewed broths daily, and when Edith could swallow she sent up the results of hours of cooking which Ellen cooled, skimmed the crust of grease from the top, and heated again over the gas flame.
She never guessed the conspiracy against her.
Between Ellen and Edith there was no real liking. Ellen did her duty, and more; got up at night; was gentle with rather heavy hands; bathed the girl and brushed and braided her long hair. But there were hours during that simulated quarantine when a brooding silence held in the sick-room, and when Ellen, turning suddenly, would find Edith's eyes on her, full of angry distrust. At those times Ellen was glad that Edith could not speak.
For at the end of a few days Ellen knew, and Edith knew she knew.
Edith could not speak. She wrote her wants with a stub of pencil, or made signs. One day she motioned toward a mirror and Ellen took it to her.
"You needn't be frightened," she said. "When those scabs come off the doctor says you'll hardly be marked at all."
But Edith only glanced at herself, and threw the mirror aside.
Another time she wrote: "Willy?"
"He's all right. They've got a girl at the store to take your place, but I guess you can go back if you want to." Then, seeing the hunger in the girl's eyes: "He's out a good bit these nights. He's making speeches for that Mr. Hendricks. As if he could be elected against Mr. Cardew!"
The confinement told on Ellen. She would sit for hours, wondering what had become of Lily. Had she gone back home? Was she seeing that other man? Perhaps her valiant loyalty to Lily faded somewhat during those days, because she began to guess Willy Cameron's secret. If a girl had no eyes in her head, and couldn't see that Willy Cameron was the finest gentleman who ever stepped in shoe leather, that girl had something wrong about her.
Then, sometimes, she wondered how Edith's condition was going to be kept from her mother. She had measured Mrs. Boyd's pride by that time, her almost terrible respectability. She rather hoped that the sick woman would die some night, easily and painlessly in her sleep, because death was easier than some things. She liked Mrs. Boyd; she felt a slightly contemptuous but real affection for her.
Then one night Edith heard Willy's voice below, and indicated that she wanted to see him. He came in, stooping under the sheet which Mrs. Boyd had heard belonged in the doorway of diphtheria, and stood looking down at her. His heart ached. He sat down on the bed beside her and stroked her hand.
"Poor little girl," he said. "We've got to make things very happy for her, to make up for all this!"
But Edith freed her hand, and reaching out for paper and pencil stub, wrote something and gave it to Ellen.
Ellen read it.
"I don't want to, Edith. You wait and do it yourself."
But Edith made an insistent gesture, and Ellen, flushed and wretched, had to tell. He made no sign, but sat stroking Edith's hand, only he stared rather fixedly at the wall, conscious that the girl's eyes were watching him for a single gesture of surprise or anger. He felt no anger, only a great perplexity and sadness, an older-brother grief.
"I'm sorry, little sister," he said, and did the kindest thing he could think of, bent over and kissed her on the forehead. "Of course I know how you feel, but it is a big thing to bear a child, isn't it? It is the only miracle we have these days."
"A child with no father," said Ellen, stonily.
"Even then," he persisted, "it's a big thing. We would have this one come under happier circumstances if we could, but we will welcome and take care of it, anyhow. A child's a child, and mighty valuable. And," he added—"I appreciate your wanting me to know, Edith."
He stayed a little while after that, but he read aloud, choosing a humorous story and laughing very hard at all the proper places. In the end he brought a faint smile to Edith's blistered lips, and a small lift to the cloud that hung over her now, day and night.
He made a speech that night, and into it he put all of his aching, anxious soul; Edith and Dan and Lily were behind it. Akers and Doyle. It was at a meeting in the hall over the city market, and the audience a new men's non-partisan association.
"Sometimes," he said, "I am asked what it is that we want, we men who are standing behind Hendricks as an independent candidate." He was supposed to bring Mr. Hendricks' name in as often as possible. "I answer that we want honest government, law and order, an end to this conviction that the country is owned by the unions and the capitalists, a fair deal for the plain people, which is you and I, my friends. But I answer still further, we want one thing more, a greater thing, and that thing we shall have. All through this great country to-night are groups of men hoping and planning for an incredible thing. They are not great in numbers; they are, however, organized, competent, intelligent and deadly. They plow the land with discord to sow the seeds of sedition. And the thing they want is civil war.
"And against them, what? The people like you and me; the men with homes they love; the men with little businesses they have fought and labored to secure; the clerks; the preachers; the doctors, the honest laborers, the God-fearing rich. I tell you, we are the people, and it is time we knew our power.
"And this is the thing we want, we the people; the greater thing, the thing we shall have; that this government, this country which we love, which has three times been saved at such cost of blood, shall survive."
It was after that speech that he met Pink Denslow for the first time. A square, solidly built young man edged his way through the crowd, and shook hands with him.
"Name's Denslow," said Pink. "Liked what you said. Have you time to run over to my club with me and have a high-ball and a talk?"
"I've got all the rest of the night."
"Right-o!" said Pink, who had brought back a phrase or two from the British.
It was not until they were in the car that Pink said:
"I think you're a friend of Miss Cardew's, aren't you?"
"I know Miss Cardew," said Willy Cameron, guardedly. And they were both rather silent for a time.
That night proved to be a significant one for them both, as it happened. They struck up a curious sort of friendship, based on a humble admiration on Pink's part, and with Willy Cameron on sheer hunger for the society of his kind. He had been suffering a real mental starvation. He had been constantly giving out and getting nothing in return.
Pink developed a habit of dropping into the pharmacy when he happened to be nearby. He was rather wistfully envious of that year in the camp, when Lily Cardew and Cameron had been together, and at first it was the bond of Lily that sent him to the shop. In the beginning the shop irritated him, because it seemed an incongruous background for the fiery young orator. But later on he joined the small open forum in the back room, and perhaps for the first time in his idle years he began to think. He had made the sacrifice of his luxurious young life to go to war, had slept in mud and risked his body and been hungry and cold and often frightfully homesick. And now it appeared that a lot of madmen were going to try to undo all that he had helped to do. He was surprised and highly indignant. Even a handful of agitators, it seemed, could do incredible harm.
One night he and Willy Cameron slipped into a meeting of a Russian Society, wearing old clothes, which with Willy was not difficult, and shuffling up dirty stairs without molestation. They came away thoughtful.
"Looks like it's more than talk," Pink said, after a time.
"They're not dangerous," Willy Cameron said. "That's talk. But it shows a state of mind. The real incendiaries don't show their hand like that."
"You think it's real, then?"
"Some boils don't come to a head. But most do."
It was after a mob of foreigners had tried to capture the town of Donesson, near Pittsburgh, and had been turned back by a hastily armed body of its citizens, doctors, lawyers and shop-keepers, that a nebulous plan began to form in Willy Cameron's active mind.
If one could unite the plain people politically, or against a foreign war, why could they not be united against an enemy at home? The South had had a similar problem, and the result was the Ku Klux Klan.
The Chief of Police was convinced that a plan was being formulated to repeat the Seattle experiment against the city. The Mayor was dubious. He was not a strong man; he had a conviction that because a thing never had happened it never could happen.
"The mob has done it before," urged the Chief of Police one day. "They took Paris, and it was damned disagreeable."
The Mayor was a trifle weak in history.
"Maybe they did," he agreed. "But this is different. This is America."
He was rather uneasy after that. It had occurred to him that the Chief might have referred to Paris, Illinois.
Now and then Pink coaxed Willy Cameron to his club, and for those rare occasions he provided always a little group of men like themselves, young, eager, loyal, and struggling with the new problems of the day. In this environment Willy Cameron received as well as gave.
Most of the men had been in the army, and he found in them an eager anxiety to face the coming situation and combat it. In the end the nucleus of the new Vigilance Committee was formed there.
Not immediately. The idea was of slow growth even with its originator, and it only reached the point of speech when Mr. Hendricks stopped in one day at the pharmacy and brought a bundle which he slapped down on the prescription desk.
"Read that dynamite," he said, his face flushed and lowering. "A man I know got it translated for me. Read it and then tell me whether I'm an alarmist and a plain fool, or if it means trouble around here."
There was no question in Willy Cameron's mind as to which it meant.
Louis Akers had by that time announced his candidacy for Mayor, and organized labor was behind him to an alarming extent. When Willy Cameron went with Pink to the club that afternoon, he found Akers under discussion, and he heard some facts about that gentleman's private life which left him silent and morose. Pink knew nothing of Lily's friendship with Akers. Indeed, Pink did not know that Lily was in the city, and Willy Cameron had not undeceived him. It had pleased Anthony Cardew to announce in the press that Lily was making a round of visits, and the secret was not his to divulge. But the question which was always in his mind rose again. What did she see in the man? How could she have thrown away her home and her family for a fellow who was so obviously what Pink would have called "a wrong one"?
He roused, however, at a question.
"He may," he said; "with three candidates we're splitting the vote three ways, and it's hard to predict. Mr. Cardew can't be elected, but he weakens Hendricks. One thing's sure. Where's my pipe?" Silence while Mr. Cameron searched for his pipe, and took his own time to divulge the sure thing. "If Hendricks is elected he'll clear out the entire bunch of anarchists. The present man's afraid. But if Akers can hypnotize labor into voting for him, and he gets it, it will be up to the city to protect itself, for he won't. He'll let them hold their infamous meetings and spread their damnable doctrine, and—you know what they've tried to do in other places." He explained what he had in mind then, finding them expectant and eager. There ought to be some sort of citizen organization, to supplement the state and city forces. Nothing spectacular; indeed, the least said about it the better. He harked back then to his idea of the plain people, with homes to protect.